A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Learning

Dee Snider once said “nothing lasts forever”. You are on top today and forgotten the next. The news cycle is so fast that no one even remembers what happened last week.

And I’m constantly in a state of learning. I like to read and learn new things. I like to acquire new skills. More so now than ever before.

I’ve always told everyone that Maiden made me want to learn, because of their songs. And I always got blank stares when I said that.

So I started to explain.

I read the Bible because of “Revelations” and “Number Of the Beast”.

I researched “Alexander The Great” because of the song. I read the poem of the Ancient Mariner because of them and the story of the “Phantom Of The Opera” and the mythology of the “Flight Of Icarus”.

I got an A when we studied Ancient Egypt because “Powerslave” made me interested in that era. I read up on the Battle Of Britain because of “Aces High”. I got to understand the Doomsday Clock and what it actually meant to forecast “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

“Mother Russia” got me reading up on the Tsars. “The Trooper” got me reading up on the “Crimean War” and “Where Eagles Dare” got me interested in World War II again, hence the reason why I kept getting A’s in history. Plus let’s not forget Churchill’s speech which is used to great effect in “Live After Death”. As I type this I’m hearing “we will never surrender” as the band launches into “Aces High”.

“Genghis Khan” was an unknown name back then so I had to check it out and I had to look up the meaning for “Purgatory”.

And the covers. I stared at em for long periods of time and tried to draw em myself. Another source of learning a new skill. Same deal with the logo.

That band was huge in getting me curious.

And I see that same sense of learning happening with my children today. From the TV shows and movies they’ve watched, they have built their own LEGO creations, wrote their own stories and filmed their own stop motion movies.

Be influenced and never stop learning.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Volbeat

I’ve been following a site called “Stream N Destroy” for a while now and I dig these emails, full of numbers about stream counts, YouTube views and sales for artists in the metal and rock genre. I subscribe to the free tier and of course there is a paid tier which goes even more in depth.

So in the current email, which can be found here, there is a mention of VOLBEAT and how their 2013 album “Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies“ is certified Gold.

And that’s important to note, because he music from artists used to take a while to break through. Black Sabbath didn’t set the world on fire with sales of their 70’s albums.

  • “Black Sabbath” released in 1970 was certified Gold a year later in 1971, and then Platinum in 1986.
  • “Paranoid” released in 1971 was certified Gold that same year and then Platinum in 1986 and by 1995 it was 4x Platinum.
  • “Master Of Reality” released in 1971 was certified Gold that same year and by 2001 it was 2x Platinum.
  • “Volume IV” released in 1972 was certified Gold that same year and then in 1986 it was certified Platinum.
  • “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” released in 1973 was certified Gold in 1974 and Platinum in 1986.
  • “Sabotage” released in 1975 was certified Gold in 1997.
  • “Technical Ecstasy” released in 1976 was certified Gold in 1997.
  • “Never Say Die” released in 1978 was certified Gold in 1997.

“Ride The Lightning” from Metallica took two years to get a Gold certification while “Kill Em All” took six years to get a Gold certification.

For Volbeat, this is a 7 year case.

And it doesn’t look like they will disappear anytime soon. Their 2012 album, “Beyond Hell, Above Heaven” was certified Gold in 2016, 4 years since its release. Their streaming numbers are high, although Queen takes the trophy this week, with 15.9 million streams of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Not bad for a track released in 1975.

Their current album, is still selling, it’s up to 45,500 sales in the U.S. It’s anaemic compared to the past, but then again, how many of the past artists that had big sales in the 80’s are still around and selling these kind of numbers today. Hell, the 80s artists couldn’t even get these numbers in the 90’s.

Their song “Leviathan” is also in the Billboard charts.

People are still interested in the band.

It’s a longer road than before, but it’s a road still worth taking. You just need to be patient and you will need to have another line of income to pay the bills. For a lot of artists, this was the road, but that will change.

The labels don’t like it because they got used to making a quick buck, especially when MTV turned culture into a monoculture, the labels wanted every release to be an instant pay day.

And when it wasn’t, heads rolled.

Artists would get dropped and A&R department heads would also disappear. Because the labels didn’t want to waste time on artist development. And today, that is even more prevalent.

In relation to the weekly streams, while Queen is on top of the world, “Thunderstruck” from AC/DC is sitting at 11.8 million streams for the week.

And what I took out of it all, is that the big streaming songs (apart from some Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed) are all pre 2006, with “Stairway To Heaven” the oldest track at 1971.

Music lives on for a long time, hence the reason why the labels wanted Copyright terms to last 70 years after the creators death. And that same rule that they wanted is also getting em undone in court cases from the heirs of the artists.

Keep creating because you’ll never know when it’s time for your creation to take over the world.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Resilience

Robb Flynn from Machine Head was interviewing Matt Heafy from Trivium, on his podcast “No F Regrets”.

Heafy comes across super on a podcast; well-spoken and very articulate. He spoke about his love of black metal, his military father who was the bands manager at the start, and the crap that Trivium copped from the metal press and the metal bands they supported because of the way Heafy sang, especially after “The Crusade” album, when Heafy sounded better than Hetfield ever did.

Bullying was used a lot by Heafy and a mention was made, how at one of the Ozzfests they were the outcasts (and eventually Maiden would be as well, because they played better than the headline act), hated by all the bands on the bills.

And it didn’t help Trivium when people involved with their show, said negative crap to the other artists, which more or less stained the band without them knowing why.

It was the same Ozzfest when Maiden played before Ozzy and the fans gravitated towards the Maiden show a lot more than the Ozzy show, so it was no surprise that Maiden suddenly had sound problems during their sets, then they had the sound completely cut, until it got a stage that Maiden had to leave the Ozzfest tour because of this.

And they would take Trivium out on tour with them after this.

The bullying in metal circles really goes against the metal ethos of the early 80’s, when the metalheads stood together against this kind of behaviour.

Some artists might crumble, argue and give up. But not Trivium. They showed resilience.

Resilience comes from experience. Mental toughness comes from experience.

You can read all the books you want and have a toolbox of routines in place, but to become resilient and to become mentally tough, you need to live it, breathe it and experience it.

Only then, you can apply any of the mental tough routines from your toolbox like box to box breathing and flipping the negatives to understand the why.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2000 – Part 3

Covering 1977, 1985 and 2000 releases at the same time, I’ve understood what the term lifer means. There is no safety net, no plan B. It’s music and music only.

In the 1977 reviews there was Michael Schenker and UFO. And here he is again in the 2000’s. In between he’s had it all, lost it all, started to regain it and then got ripped off by ex-partners and managers and family members.

But he’s still here.

UFO – Covenant

Michael Schenker returned, Schenker left, Schenker returned, Schenker left and Schenker returned again. This is UFO without the Chorus hooks from the past, but then again, I never saw UFO as a band who sat around to write big choruses. They just wrote songs for an album. On occasions, fans would make some of those songs big.

This album has a stellar band, in Phil Mogg on vocals, Pete Way on bass, Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Michael Schenker on guitar.

“Love Is Forever” kicks it off, written by Schenker and Phil Mogg. And immediately I am hooked, because the guitar playing of Schenker is in good form.

The second track, “Unraveled” is written by Pete Way and Mogg, but it’s how Schenker plays that riff, which captures me.

All of the other cuts are written by Schenker and Mogg. “Miss the Lights” has a finger plucked octave melodic riff and that section after the solo, it’s only for 20 seconds but its Schenker at his best, playing melodic palm muted arpeggios.

“Midnight Train” has a stomping E minor riff from Schenker and Mogg puts on his Bob Seger hat to deliver a vocal line which stands as one of my favourites.

“Fool’s Gold” shows Schenker’s classical and blues approach in a ballad sense. His chord voicings are classical in nature, but his solo is blues based.

“The Smell of Money” has more of Schenker’s unique playing style. “Cowboy Joe” is such a wrong title for an intro riff that sounds as heavy as “Unholy”. But the song moves between major and minor.

Michael Schenker was also busy as a solo artist. “Michael Schenker – Adventures Of The Imagination” is an instrumental album by Schenker and “Michael Schenker – The Odd Trio” is Michael Schenker playing all the instruments. He created pseudonyms for the bass and drums, known as Harry Cobham and Kathy Brown respectively.

I remember hearing em and moving on.

Poison – Crack A Smile And More
Poison – Power To The People

Poison is an interesting case.

On the backs of MTV and their blend of punk, pop, country and hard rock, they had platinum success for the first three albums.

Then CC left or was fired.

Richie Kotzen came in and the serious “Native Tongue” came out in a climate dominated by grunge artists. But this album wasn’t a glam rock album like the ones before. It was a blues rock album, a shining light in a cacophony of noise on the charts. It was different and the label wanted sales, like before, and the MKII version didn’t last long because Kotzen couldn’t keep his hands off a band members partner. Then again, true love is true love and they are still together.

Then I read that Blues Saraceno was hired for the guitar slot. And I was interested to hear what kind of Poison we will get with Saraceno, because he was doing guitar instructional articles in the various Guitar Mags and this guy knew his stuff, and his instructional articles covered so many different styles. But time went on and on and that album with Saraceno just kept getting delayed. We got a couple tracks on a Greatest Hits album, then CC came back in and they dropped two albums.

“Crack a Smile” began in 1994.

In between there was a motor vehicle accident involving Bret Michaels and a long recovery. Then Capitol Records had lost interest in a new album and wanted to cash in on a “Greatest Hits” album, which was released in 1996.

But the fans wanted it and bootleggers were selling it for a lot, so Capital Records, being astute to see dollars as a label does, released it with additional live tracks and “Face The Hangman” a demo from “Open Up And Say Ahh”.

“Be the One” at track 5 got me interested. It’s one of those bluesy power ballads that Poison do so well. “Sexual Thing” at track 7 is classic Poison, with some killer pedal point riffing from Saraceno. “Lay Your Body Down” is a carbon copy of “Something To Believe In”.

Track 10, “That’s the Way I Like It” sums up my feelings towards the song and Bret Michaels is in full form here, telling the world, that he likes it when a girl goes down on him. “Set It Free” is a bonus track and it’s better than the other tracks, while “Face The Hangman” the outtake from “Open And Say Ahh” is a classic rock track, a bluesy romp.

But I could hear why the label went cold to a new album.

But.

“Power to the People” sees the return of MK1, with five new studio cuts and 12 live tracks from their successful “Greatest Hits” reunion tour.

The title track might have sounds of the Nu Metal movement and some fast spoken verses but its typical Poison, led by a killer riff and a cool balls to the wall vocal line. Plus “the People” in this case is the Poison fan base.

“Can’t Bring Me Down” sounds like “Sweet Home Alabama” with a new sound. And after two songs, CC demonstrates why he works so well with Poison. His riffing is different, accessible and his leads with those little interlude leads between Choruses and Verses are melodic or bluesy in a simple way that it works.

“The Last Song” is probably one of their best songs and no one knows it. The intro lead break from CC is enough to get me interested. Meanwhile “Strange” has this octave melodic riff that CC plays which catches me.

“I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine (with C.C. DeVille on lead vocals) closes off the new studio tracks with probably one of the best “longest titles” that didn’t come from a Meatloaf album. And CC has this punk style voice that reminds me of Hanoi Rocks and their singer Michael Monroe.

And into the time machine for a stop in 1985.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2000 – V1

I’ve been doing these yearly revision posts on and off for the last four years. Basically when I’ve felt like it.

I started with 1980, as that was a pivotal year when it all began for me. And then I went forward and back at the same time. I did a post for 1981, and then a post for 1979. Then a post for 1982 and a post for 1978.

Currently I am up to 1985 and 1977 for those eras. They are in a various states of drafts and on hold for a little bit because I get excited about other posts and it felt like I was just writing about the same bands (like AC/DC, who had releases on both sides of the 80’s and 70’s).

So I wanted to start up another year and work my way forward on that one.

Plus other bloggers who I follow have also been summarizing various years from their own personal experiences.

So a few days ago, I had a vision and in my madness I decided to also kick off a 2000 series.

So there will be a 2000, 1985 and 1977 series running in parallel.

Then there will be a 2001, 1986 and 1976.

But when I started to write the 2000 post, the world has a funny way to show me, that I’m still writing about the same bands I was writing about in the 80’s with a few additions here and there.

So h is Part 1 of 2000.

Bon Jovi – Crush

“It’s My Life” was everywhere. The single got a lot of traction in Australia. It was on radio, on the music TV stations and the various CD single editions were selling out quickly.

The resurrection of Bon Jovi was complete after a pretty relaxed period between 1996 and 1999. Then again, Sambora and Jovi did release solo albums in between and toured, so maybe it wasn’t so relaxed.

Songsmith Max Martin got a co-write, however it’s hard to know what he actually did because Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora didn’t use him again. Also just ask Steven Tyler, how much song writing some of the outside writers did. Holly Knight got a writing credit for “Rag Doll”, and all she did was come up with the song title. Thanks Deke for that one.

And although I like the derivative sounding “It’s My Life”, my favourites (like most of the Bon Jovi albums) are more of the deeper cuts, like “Just Older”, “Two Story Town”, “Mystery Train”, the six plus minutes of “Next 100 Years”, the laidback feel of “She’s A Mystery” and probably the best live song they have written in “Old Wild Night”, which gets no love these days but it should.

Disturbed – The Sickness

There was a sticker on the CD, which had a quote from “Ozzy” calling Disturbed “the future of Heavy Metal”. I don’t know if Ozzy actually said that, but it was a cool bit of marketing, because I bit and handed over $20.

The thing that got me from the start, is the staccato vocals from David Draiman, which was so different from the 80’s type of singers I was used to plus it helped that the music was pretty cool as well. And I kept listening, became a fan, seen em live on two occasions and today, I hold David Draiman in some unique company of metal voices and Disturbed as one of my favourite acts.

And this album really put em on the map. In the U.S alone (and if you like to use the RIAA sales metric as a gauge for success) then 9 million is the number so far.

For me, the cross between groove metal and heavy metal and that thing people called Nu-Metal is excellent and it got me out of a rut.

“Voices” talks about some freaky shit, and that vocal delivery from Draiman was so unique it captured me. Then “The Game” starts off with the NIN style of electronics, and when the guitar riff comes in, its heavy metal all the way.

“Stupify” has this guitar riff that takes the style of Korn and guitarist Dan Donegan has this ability to make it sound like a metal riff.

And his ability to take influences from what was current like NIN, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Tool and put it into his metal influenced blender, that’s the magic brew of Disturbed. By the way check out the section from about 2.52 for a breakdown.

“Numb” is taking the moodiness of Tool and making it accessible in a 4 minute song. “Shout 2000” gives an old 80’s song a new lease of life and the title track “Down With The Sickness” is that song in the concert when the musician looks at the sea of faces jumping up and down and head banging, like an ocean swell about to hit the stage.

Fates Warning – Disconnected

I was always on the fence with Fates Warning. My cousin Mega loved em and he had all of their albums. But for me, I just taped the songs I liked from those albums and never really got into a whole album.

But this album changed all of that. As soon as the first ringing guitar notes started which to my ears mimicked a warning siren, I was hooked.

For me, it feels like a perfect blend of what was current, like Tool and Porcupine Tree and a nod to what Dream Theater was creating (they even have Kevin Moore guesting on keyboards) and it’s all surrounded by a hard rock progressive feel.

Also while the earlier albums showed guitarist Jim Matheos evolving with each release from raw NWOBHM, to Power Metal, to technical thrash metal, to Queensryche style rock to atmospheric progressive rock and on this one, he is digging deep into his well and bringing out everything he knows into well-structured songs and a cohesive album.

And the album is ignored by the masses.

But not by me.

“Disconnected, Pt 1” kicks it off with its ominous warning siren guitar bends. And the synth keys make it sound even more dystopian. Then again, if you look at the cover of the album, its people in gas masks under an orange sky. For me, it’s like our Australian summer, which had orange and red skies, and our air quality was crap, for a very long time.

“One” blasts out of the gates with its Porcupine Tree/Tool influenced riff.

“So” is groove heavy, with a hint of a Tool influence, but Jim Matheos makes it sound metal. When it quietens down in the verses, it just reminds me of the song “Black Sabbath”. The bridge section from about 4.30 also quietens down and then that Tool like groove from 5.50 hits you like a sledgehammer. “Pieces Of Me” is a derivative version of “One”, with small changes here and there to make it stand on its own.

And the two big bookends.

“Something For Nothing” and “Still Remains”. They are quality, as a melancholic and atmospheric groove leads the way. It’s progressive and it doesn’t have or need a thousand notes per second nor complex time signatures pieced together and added like fractions. On both songs, it’s a feel and a groove which lays the foundation and the songs keep building from there.

The album closes with “Disconnected, Pt 2”, with the guitar warning siren bends and some nice keys.

Iron Maiden – Brave New World

There was “The Ed Hunter Tour” of 1999, which announced the latest and upgraded hardware version of Iron Maiden from 5.0 to 6.0. And it’s been the same line up since.

And no one really knew how this 6.0 upgrade would go with new music. But they delivered.

Each song has a section which makes it connect.

From the opening Em chord of “The Wicker Man”, the song is full of the things that make Maiden great, like the repeating chorus line of “your time will come” and the singalong “woh-oh-oh” in the outro which is then followed by harmony guitars.

And I like the “Fear Of The Dark” section between 5.00 and 5.42 in “Ghost Of The Navigator” and the harmony solos in “Brave New World”.

“Blood Brothers” is a classic Maiden song, driven by an awesome bass riff, synth strings, harmony guitars (especially that harmony section from 3.29 to 3.57 and again from 4.22 to 6.20) and a vocal performance from Bruce Dickinson to rival his 80’s output. It feels like only a few singers could pull off repeating the same chorus line over and over again and make it sound unique. Dio comes to mind, Dee Snider as well and Bruce Dickinson.

“The Mercenary” has a head banging intro to rival the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro. And that Chorus, when Bruce starts to sing “Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run”. Brilliant. “Dream Of Mirrors” and that “Phantom Of The Opera” intro. But when it quietens down and it’s just the bass rumbling along, with the closed high hats and a clean tone guitar melodic lick. That’s when the hairs on the back of my neck rise up. And by the end of it, I’m also dreaming in black and white because Bruce repeats it so many times, you get hypnotized. Also listen to when Bruce sings woh – oh from the 7.20 minute mark.

“The Fallen Angel” with its “Wrathchild” style intro. Then that open string pull of lick in the Chorus. The intro in “The Nomad” which is also the Chorus riff and then that epic sounding exotic/barbarian/viking like lead from about the 4 minute mark. The intro to “Out Of The Silent Planet”.

Version 6.0 was off to the good start and the “Rock In Rio” DVD put any doubt to rest.

Everclear – Songs From An American Movie, Vol 1: Learning How To Smile

This is another album that got my attention.

The song “Wonderful” was all over the charts in Australia, and I suppose that “Star Wars” poster on the bedroom door lyric got me to bite. And the album is excellent. Again, it came at a perfect time to get me out of a rut, musically. It was different and removed from the 80’s and 70’s music I was so into. Then again, I was still overdosing on Maiden, but that’s another story.

“Here We Go Again” has these jazzy 7th style chords played in a pattern like “I Love Rock N Roll” in the verses, and it got me interested straight away. And there is a horn section which reminded me of “Tangled In The Web” from Lynch Mob. And that bridge section about sitting on a mattress in the corner and eating Chinese food. Its conversationlist and I like it.

“AM Radio” has a lot of great lyrics about the 70’s and listening to that AM Radio or just laying in bed with the radio on and listening to it all night long.

The VCR and the DVD
There wasn’t none of that crap back in 1970
We didn’t know about a World Wide Web
It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid

Even if you weren’t born then, you already get a picture in your head of some of the technology that wasn’t around.

Flashback, ’72
Another summer in the neighbourhood
Hangin’ out with nothing to do

Even in the 80’s, we had days like these with nothing to do. It changed in the 90’s when parents had an agenda of things their kids had to do or achieve or attend.

Cruisin’ with the windows rolled down
We’d listen to the radio station

Damn right.

I remember 1977
I started going to concerts and I saw the Led Zeppelin
I got a guitar on Christmas day
I dreamed that Jimmy Page would come from Santa Monica
and teach me to play

There is always a defining “aha” moment, which sets of the correct adrenaline kick.

I like pop, I like soul, I like rock, but I never liked disco

Not many who liked pop, soul and rock liked disco. Remember Bob Seger and his old time rock and roll to soothe the soul.

“Learning How To Smile” is my favorite track on the album.

Five miles outside of Vegas when we broke down
Threw my keys inside the window and we never looked back
Got all drunk and sloppy on a Greyhound bus
We passed out, all them losers they were laughing at us

Youthful enthusiasm, leave the past behind (the car) and move forward to something new. The oldsters would have organised a tow truck to retrieve the car and then spend money to fix it, because every possession was precious. Tell that to the throwaway generation, who upgrade their Tech yearly or bi-yearly.

We got lost in Phoenix, seemed like such a long time
Seven months of livin’ swimming on those thin white lines
Did some time for sellin’ acid to the wrong guy
Life just keeps on gettin’ smaller and we never ask why

Taking and selling drugs and doing what they could to get by, with no safety net.

Why there is no perfect place, yes I know this is true
I’m just learning how to smile
That’s not easy to do

Life is not all sunshine and a bed of roses. And the more older we get, the harder it is to smile sometimes, even though you want to smile.

We was broke outside of Philly when the storms came
I was working in New Jersey, hitchin’ rides in the rain
You was happy talkin’ dirty at that phone sex place
Life just keeps on gettin’ weirder for us every day

Tommy and Gina have nothing on Art and his girl.

We can leave it all behind like we do every time
Yes we both live for the day
When we can leave and just go runnin’ away

Escapism. I remember when I first got my car license. I felt a freedom, I’d never felt before.

Five miles outside of Vegas, five years down the line
We got married in the desert and the sunshine

Through all the ups and downs, I guess they learned how to smile.

And to close off the album, “Thrift Store Chair” has this acoustic 70’s feel, which reminds me of Bad Company and “Wonderful” kicks off with a simple drum groove, and then the piano which outlines the chords. And the song just keeps on building.

Well 2000 is officially kicked off. Now I’m going back in time to 1985. And then 1977. And then back to 2000, in ludicrous speed.

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Bob Rock on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast

I probably own all the hard rock albums Bob Rock has been involved in from a production stand point, mixer and engineer from Loverboy and onwards. And this podcast is brilliant. Bob Rock gives so much information and there are so many takeaways from it.

Currently
He’s sitting on two albums already done, one with Richie Sambora and Offspring. And it looks like the albums will not come out until next year.

To me, the reason why the albums are being held is because the focus is still on sales.

But the time is now.

It’s all about people listening. Not sales.

I read that “The Last Dance” was scheduled for a different release window, but Netflix saw the opportunity to release it during the no sports period of COVID-19 and it hit our screens exaclty then, giving the people their fix of sports and re-creating Jordan as a modern day superstar. It’s like he just finished playing and it’s being over 22 years.

Life
As soon as budgets for recording sessions went super low, labels and artists stopped using mega studios. Hence he has a dormant mega studio at home. And he uses Bryan Adams studio, in Vancouver to record with artists.

He got into music for the love of making records. And even though budgets are smaller he still wants to make records, so he chooses who he wants to work with and he’s okay with a smaller budget.

He’s 66 now and he’s been together with his wife for 35 years, which is huge when it comes to the music business.

But the best advice he gave is;

Mixing is a perspective. The way the Mixer mixes is their perspective on how music sounds.

That’s brilliant, because so many people chase sounds developed by others and Bob Rock is creating sounds on how he thinks it should sound.

He’s A Musician First
Even though he is known as a producer he was a musician first. So he still writes tracks with drums, keys, bass and a scratch guitar. He co-wrote 8 songs on the new Richie Sambora album.

He’s a collector of vintage gear. He collected all the amps and pedals that Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Dave Gilmour used. And he was trying to re-create the Led Zep 1 guitar sound and he found out on the internet he was missing one small effect, which he had, and once he plugged it in, he got the sound.

And he felt like a kid.

He has a warehouse full of amps, keyboards and guitars/bass.

He had a lot of singles because albums were expensive. So he was exposed to different artists, different productions, different styles.

Put Yourself Out There
With one of his first proper bands, they worked jobs, saved money and then they all went to England to make it. That lasted six months before they came home with nothing to show.

His parents were not even happy about their sons choice of careers. And after he came home, he got a normal job again. And it was at one of those jobs, he heard an ad on the radio, to learn basic engineering.

So he went to Vancouver with funds supplied from his parents and the guy who was teaching the course offered Rock a job at Little Mountain Recording Studios.

He got the job because he wasn’t scared to make a mistake. And this opportunity started his entire career.

So the lesson here is to persevere, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE and don’t be sacred to fail.

Punk Music Opened Doors
Punk made it easy for bands to play clubs and make records, because before punk, the musicians had to be of a certain standard, (just think of Steely Dan, The Eagles, Little Feat, Styx and even Toto). Then punk comes around and three chord songs are getting studio time and club time.

Punk music opened up these doors.

And Bob Rock said, punk music allowed him to make records. The first song he wrote, he got an album deal. The Payola$ and REM got signed on the same week.

The Payola$ name was a poke at the payola scandal where the labels and the radio stations tried to fix the charts.

Find The Home Of The Song
He worked with guitarist Mick Ronson from David Bowie. Ronson produced two Payola$ albums.

Ronson taught Rock the lesson, that you don’t need to re-record everything. Sometimes the demo could have enough in it and a few overdubs could finish it off.

Another lesson Ronson taught Rock is about finding a home of the song and doing it right. In “Sad But True” Rock told Metallica, you have a song here and he was hearing “When The Levee Breaks” but the tempo was too fast on the demo. He told Metallica to slow it down and they found the songs home and the world got a groove metal behemoth. Lyrically I’m not a fan of “Sad But True”, but musically its bone crunching to play.

Bruce Fairbairn
Bruce Fairbairn liked to have demos or do pre-production before he got the artist into the studio. And he kept a tight schedule, pushing artists hard to get a lot of out em within the schedule.

Metallica
So coming into the “Black” album, Metallica never played in the studio together but he got em to do it for the “Black” album which Rock calls the “pocket” album.

Pre-Production for the “Black” album took 2 weeks and it took 15 months to record the album. But originally, he was hired to mix the album, because the guys liked the sound/sonics of the Motley Crue “Dr Feelgood” album.

And it took that long because they spent weeks getting the perfect guitar sound, and weeks for the perfect drum sound and weeks for the perfect bass sound. He sent Lars to get drum lessons and James to get vocal lessons. And they had no idea how big the album would become. All up he spent 15 years working with Metallica, and he realised he just had to move on eventually.

Bon Jovi and Bruce Allen
The manager of The Payola$, Bruce Allen, ended up managing Bob Rock and Allen told him, “you gotta stop doing these gigs because you are a producer and I will manage you as a producer and you will make some money”. And Allen said to him, “you are going to get a point on the next record” and that was “Slippery When Wet” but he didn’t get the point.

So on “Slippery When Wet”, Rock only made $10K Canadian and for “Permanent Vacation”, Bruce Fairbairn offered him $8K Canadian. And the production crew just wanted “Slippery When Wet” to go Gold so they could get another production gig. And in three months it sold 3 million in the U.S alone.

But Jon Bon Jovi wanted Bob Rock to do the next album “New Jersey” and Bruce Allen said that Bob isnt doing it. But Jon wanted Bob Rock and Rock got his point (1%) for mixing the album.

He Keeps On Learning
In every production gig he always learned something new, from either the artists because of what they wanted to do/achieve or the other people he was working with in the production team and he’s still learning right now.

That’s why he’s still in the business, he has continued to self develop, learn and grow as a producer. He never rested on his laurels. And he keeps an eye on what rises to the surface, so he could see what is happening sonically and from a song point of view.

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
And everything Rock has done is because of the sounds on the Motley Crue and Metallica albums he produced.

And Rock goes its because the guys in Motley Crue and Metallica pushed him to step out of his comfort zone and try different things.

Do Your Time
Rock came from jingles, a 1 minute record every day. You need to start somewhere. And be patient.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

April 2020 – Part 2

April 2020 has finished and a lot of new music has hit my earbuds and I am still listening to tunes released between January and March 2020. While the last post started off with the songs from previous months, this post will start the new ones;

Here is the Spotify link.

Here is post 1.

Ishtar’s Gate
False Prophet
Testament

“Souls Of Black” is a great album and it was my introduction to Testament in a post “Metallica Black Album” landscape. The earlier stuff is technical like thrash with Alex Skolnick creating jazz fusion solos over the chromatic riffs from Eric Peterson. Then Skolnick left and I was like why.

And throughout the years I have been following Testament and their releases. I don’t own a lot of the bands stuff, but I did have a pretty cool mix tape from the era and I recently purchased their first five albums in a CD box set for $23AUD.

And Peterson just kept writing excellent riffs that covered power metal, thrash, groove metal, nu-metal and black/death metal. Chuck Billy would sing, growl and spit those vocal lines out. Then Skolnick returned and so did my interest in the band.

These two songs stood out to me on their recent release. The riffs are top quality.

Walking On A Thin Line
Hartmann

Oliver Hartmann has been a mainstay in the German rock scene for the last 20 years. He sings in Hartmann, and he is the lead singer for “Echoes”, a Pink Floyd tribute band.

And he plays bass and has done a lot of guest appearances on other records from European artists.

“Walking on a Thin Line” sounds like one of the best Scorpions songs that the Scorpions didn’t write.

Honesty Files
And You’ll Say
Urge Overkill

Ken Taylor from sunny “10 degrees Celsius” Melbourne commented on a blog post recently and he told me to check out an album from Urge Overkill (as I had mentioned the “Sister Havana” song and how the band was like a one hit wonder), which I did and I saved two songs. This album is from the mid 90’s so it doesn’t really belong on the April 2020 new music, but hey, its new music to me, as I heard it in April 2020.

We Will Rock You
Empires Fall
Welcome To The Night
Stranger In The Room
Darkness Remains
Night Demon

“Night Demon” is another recommendation from Ken Taylor. Their energetic take on the NWOBHM and Iron Maiden is fresh. I really like how bands these days take an old style and sound and make it new.

Every song you play, will have something familiar from a previous song you may have heard. And of course they do a rocking cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

Billy’s Got A Gun – Live
Def Leppard

One of my favourite Def Leppard songs.

Can you feel it in the air?

Danger!!

What You Give Is What You Get (Edit)
Dance (Edit)

RATT

The RATT Atlantic Re-Issues are disappointing. Each album has an EDIT of a song released as a single as its bonus track.

The “Round And Round” edit cuts out DeMartini’s guitar solo and it goes straight into the harmony solo. The whole solo is a favourite of mine, so I couldn’t add that “edit” to the list. And from “Detonator” they have a dance funk mix for “Lovin’ You Is A Dirty Job” which is basically a joke.

I find it hard to believe that there is no extra material laying around or demos of the album songs. I remember reading an interview with Juan Croucier many years ago, and he states how he has over 60 songs left over from his RATT days, which either had him as the main songwriter or as a co-writer.

I play guitar and I know that even though a song is finished, there is another one in the works and other riffs been written. You just don’t stop creating.

The Canary
Protest The Hero

From Canada.

Protest the Hero (known as PTH from now on) are one of my favourite bands. They had a recording contract for their first three albums between 2005 and 2011. They built a cult following and then got dropped by their label. The label even said to them they have “no audience”.

So they went the fan funding route in 2012, trying to raise $125K USD and they ended up getting $341K.

I was on board with the Indiegogo fan funding campaign for the “Volition” album.

I was also on board with the Bandcamp six month “Pacific Myth” subscription campaign, where I get a song a month for six months, with a video that highlights the making of, plus the sheet music and I get to download the cover of each song, plus the track and the instrumental track.

Then they released that as a six song EP.

And then it was all quiet on the Canadian front, until “The Canary” flew in. And I’m back in the cage, ready to support them again.

Part 3 coming up.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Youth Gone Wild

Sebastian Bach showed the tattoo on his arm in every photo he took and in every interview he did. All publicity is good publicity, well Bach was the master at it, from the bottle throwing incident in which an innocent girl got hit, to his TShirt that said AIDS Kill Fags Dead, Bach was always in the news.  

The track introduced Skid Row to the world. Its written by Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan but Bach made it his own, living and breathing the message.

It was also the track that made Bach move from Toronto to New Jersey and join the band. It was the track that got em signed to Atlantic, which was also having a war with Geffen for popularity and sales. Actually, it was only Bach, Sabo and Bolan who got signed to the label. Drummer Rob Affuso and guitarist Scotti Hill did not get a deal, but from my own experience in having being in bands, there would be a band agreement in place that provides them with wages.

Roll It.

Then the Gm riff starts and we are off and rolling.

Since I was born they couldn’t hold me down
Another misfit kid, another burned-out town

All the towns were the same. A main factory, a couple of pubs, a main street, a school and then a shopping centre or mall. And the kids, we were misfits. Some took it to extremes more than others, but it was all done in the name of fun and out of boredom, because all we had was our records to keep us enteretained.

I look and see it’s not only me
So many others have stood where I stand
We are the young, so raise your hands

We are not young anymore, and the new young have different viewpoints. We stood for our voice to be heard, to prove to people that we matter. The young today care about different things.

I went to my sons school performance and they asked the kids what they want to be when they grow up. These kids wanted to be gamers, social media influencers, rich, princesses and sporting stars. And then you have Greta, the face of climate change.

They call us problem child
We spend our lives on trial

Not anymore.

Kids and their parents are like friends and mates these days. But once upon a time it wasn’t like that. I got in trouble for saying “Get Lost”. People treated that combination as a swear word.

Boss screaming’ in my ear about who I’m supposed to be
Getcha a 3-piece wall street smile and son you’ll look just like me

Our education system and the curriculum it uses, produces compliant factory workers. And it does this by telling students to do well on tests and to pay attention in class and to memorise things for exams.

These things don’t help when you are trying to map out a road less taken, and when you need to figure out what needs to happen next to solve a problem you’ve never seen before.

But society, has been conditioned, under the pressure of the financial system and the government (under pressure from the lobbyists) to go to school and become a worker to serve the system.

There is a also great story of the song over at Classic Rock.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Magic Words

I came across a book summary about “Magic Words” by Tim David. And of course I was interested as to what are magic words.

But it starts off with a warning, that magic words will only work when there is a strong human connection. And the most important magic word is “yes” and the word you should avoid the most is “no”.

And I’m thinking, “No shit” or “Yes what a crock of shit” because Dee Snider said “No” when he was told to turn it down in “I Wanna Rock”.

Well not exactly.

More like “can you help me?” style of questioning which gets the person answering either “yes” or “no”. Because, if they say yes, then there is a high chance they will actually do it. But they need to feel connected to you to make the words magic.

So it all comes down to our need to belong to something. Hence the reason why Rock and Metal songwriters had a lot of “We” in their lyrics and song titles like “We Rock” or We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Avoiding the questioning which could lead to a “no” is important because the mood shifts from positive to negative and feelings of rejection.

The other magic words are But, Because, If, Help and Thanks.

And I’m thinking how this writer Tom David is telling the world what heavy metal and hard rock fans already know. That communication is the key to all human interactions.

So to make connections, get people saying “yes” a lot and “no”, not so much, unless someone is trying to exploit the group/you then a big “NO” is warranted.

To get peoples attention directed use the word “but,” and use “because” and “if” to motivate them and show your appreciation with “help” and “thanks.”

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Better

The theory was that the most technical musicians become great artists. The fastest kids become professional athletes in the sports they selected and the smartest kids become good leaders or innovative ones. And that proved rarely the case.

When CC DeVille did a guitar solo spotlight live, people wanted to walk up to the stage and unplug his guitar. Same deal with Mick Mars. Reviewers in guitar magazines had a certain elitism in their writing and used these two guys as punching bags, but people are more aware of the music that DeVille and Mars created, than the words the elite journalists wrote.

Then another theory came out, that we all need to be better at what we do, that companies need to get better at their social responsibilities, that we need to be better at inclusion and how we need to keep learning to be better.

But better is always in the eye of the beholder.

I subscribe that we always need to be improve. For me, it’s a basic need to learn new stuff, as I am a curious person to begin with, and I like to create, so to create, I like to spread my learning wide so I have enough tools and information to create. Because nothing is created from living in a vacuum. Even those artists or the heirs of the artists who believe that their songs are so original, well they ain’t.

Every new song has to push the sound, the melodies, the lyrics and the music a little bit more than before, but not too much, otherwise the artist will lose the trust of the audience which they battled so hard to gain. It’s a big reason why some artists don’t stray too much from what made them famous, like Kiss, AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

Buy an album from these bands and it will still sound like an album they did, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago and even 40 years ago. And then there are artists who did stray a lot from their sounds and divided their fan base.

Def Leppard with “Slang”, which is a great album by the way and perfect for the time and era it came out. Motley Crue with their self-titled debut, which is one of their best albums for me and “Generation Swine”, which has great rock songs but an industrial production from Scott Humphries which I don’t like.

Bon Jovi with “Lost Highway”, a cool pop rock take on the country/southern rock sounds.

Queensryche with “Promised Land” an album full of dissonance and bleak landscapes so far removed from the polished sounds of “Empire” and even further removed from the operatic and concise storytelling of “Operation Mindcrime”.

Dokken with “Shadowlife” and their attempt at Nu-Metal, which is their worst album by far and after this, George Lynch reformed Lynch Mob, smoked some Limp Bizkit and delivered “Smoke This”, a rap metal album which was a complete disaster. Two from two for good old Georgie.

And then you have an anomaly in Metallica. They pushed the limits of technical thrash and then dropped a self-titled album with shorter songs, a powerful sound and concise lyrics. But it was still rooted in metal. Then they became a classic rock band with the “Load” releases. Then with “St Anger” they became a hybrid, but that trash can drum sound with James spitting out words rather than singing was interesting before they returned to their speed metal roots.

The truth it this, it doesn’t matter how technical you are, how fast you run, how much better you get or improve your skills, it all depends on your execution. Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose. But don’t ever stop executing. Just keep going and keep creating.

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