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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – August 1 to August 14

4 Years Ago (2018)

Dee Snider

Dee Snider released “For The Love Of Metal” and it’s basically metal music the way I knew it. Which is very different to how metal music is known these days with hard-core growls and scream vocals added to the mix. I even remember when AC/DC was found in the Heavy Metal section of the record shop, whereas now if you do find a record shop, AC/DC is in the rock section. Even Bon Jovi was classed as “heavy metal” once upon a time. It was a broad classification, that’s for sure.

Dee’s message of the outcasts standing together against oppression and censorship and authority resonated big time with me in the 80’s. I didn’t care about the look. I never got into a band because they looked cool. The music is always the entry point.

The area I grew up in had a lot of migration from Europe. And the residents didn’t like it. Nor did they like the different languages the new migrants spoke. But somehow, we found ways to get along in suburbia. But in the schools’ it was a different story. There was no “cool” teacher like there is nowadays.

Actually, all of the teachers I had were oppressive and they hated rock music. It’s probably why songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, “Bad Boys (Of Rock N Roll”, “Come Out And Play” and “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” resonate.

When Twisted disbanded in 87, Dee wasn’t in the news a lot, except for a few little paragraphs here and there in a magazine about his upcoming Desperado project. Then that project got killed by record label bosses, then Widowmaker got up and running, however Grunge came and suddenly it felt like the biggest voice in my life was missing during the “golden commercial years” of metal and rock music.

But Dee is a lifer. He battled tooth and nail to make it, so there was no way he was going to lay dormant. And like it was written in some holy book, Dee came back, more diverse than ever. He became a movie maker, a radio show host, a solo artist, an author and when TS reformed, he led them up front all the way to the last show.

And his solo music probably doesn’t have the same public acceptance as the Twisted music, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important or influential. As I’ve said before, a million sales of an album doesn’t mean you have 1 million fans. You just have a million people who purchased the album. Some would have liked it and played it over and over again, some would have heard it once and never played it again.

With hundreds of releases coming out each day, compared to the 50 odd each month in 1984, each artist is fighting against the same tide. Fans can spread the word and make the new release rise above the waters.

In saying all that, “For The Love Of Metal” deserves to be in the public conversation and credit Jamey Jasta in challenging Dee to make this record, as well as produce it with Nick Bellmore and write music/lyrics for it.

For the love of metal, check out my review here.

Candlebox – Sometimes

The 90’s didn’t feel that far away, but man the Candlebox debut album dropped in 1993, which makes it 29 years old. The truth is, Candlebox is so good on the debut album, I decided to give other 90’s bands a listen.

The “Purple Rain” sounding “Far Behind” is the star of the debut album. Then you had “Don’t You” and “Change” that rock as hard as any 80’s band and I used to cover “You” in bands I played in. I love the B minor key for songs and to be honest, a lot of punters thought it was an original.

And “Cover Me”, is hidden all the way at the back end of the album at number 10. Brilliant track and a great solo section.

I didn’t get the “Lucy” album until a few years after its release. And something was missing. You know the whole saying, you have a lifetime to write your first album and you just write music that suits your tastes when you start out. Then your music breaks through into the mainstream and suddenly you feel like you need to write hits. I’m not sure if this was on their minds, but something definitely was. Because it was different. Maybe I just moved on. Who knows.

Anyway, “Happy Pills” came out and like “Lucy” I didn’t lay out money on it for a few years after it was released. Actually, by the time I got it, the band was already broken up. I was listening to the album, while I was working, not really paying attention, like it was background music and then “Sometimes” came on.

I stopped and listened. And just like that, Candlebox was back in my headspace.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

Nothing…… No posts. Zero. Zilch.

The European trip I was on, was for a total of 10 weeks all up. The way I see it is easy. The distance from Australia to Europe is massive. So if I am going to pack up my family and go, it needed to be worth it.

To get to any part of Europe from Sydney, will take about 22 hours of flying, plus waiting times at stop overs. For this trip we used Austrian Air, so the path was Sydney to Bangkok (with 8 hour wait at Bangkok), Bangkok to Vienna (with a 4 hour wait at Vienna) and from Vienna you can go to any part of Europe.

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

1996 – Part 5.7: Sepultura – Roots

Sepultura means grave in Portuguese. It all came to Max Cavalera when he was translating the lyrics from the song “Dancing On Your Grave” by Motorhead. It doesn’t matter where you look, Lemmy’s influence is everywhere.

I met the brothers, Max and Igor Cavalera at a Utopia Record Store Signing in Sydney. My cousin Mega is a huge fan. Mega turned up with his bashed in snare skin which the guys gladly signed and Mega also gave me a poster which they signed for me and I then gave the poster back to Mega.

Sepultura built up to this moment with their three previous releases in “Beneath The Remains” released in 1989, “Arise” released in 1991 and “Chaos A.D” released in 1993.

“Roots” is their sixth studio album released at the start of 1996. It’s also their biggest. The line-up is the classic line up as I know it. Max Cavalera is on lead vocals and he plays a 4 and 6-string guitar. Andreas Kisser is on lead guitar. Paulo Jr. is on bass guitar and Igor Cavalera is on drums and all things percussion related.

Produced by Ross Robinson, so don’t expect to hear any guitar leads as Robinson has openly stated how much he hates guitar leads.

Roots Bloody Roots

The groove metal riff is so much fun to play. There is this dissonance section in the middle which is chaotic and unsettling before the groove riff kicks in.

It carries the message to believe in yourself, be proud of your heritage and be proud of where you come from.

Attitude

There is a syncopated riff in the intro which is cool. The rest is run of the mill, Pantera like groove riffs.

The lyrics to “Attitude” were co-written by Dana Wells, Max Cavalera’s stepson, whose death (in part) led to the events which caused Max to leave the band.

Cut-Throat

“Cut Throat” is about Epic Records who gave the band no love during their previous album “Chaos A.D.” The last words in the song are “Enslavement, Pathetic, Ignorant, Corporations”.

Ratamahatta

It features David Silveria on drums and Carlinhos Brown on vocals, percussion and a lot of other unique native Brazilian instruments.

The song is a celebration of life in Brazil’s favela slums, which tells the stories of people like Coffin Joe and Lampiao, the leader of an early 1900s outlaw gang from north Brazil, whose head was put on public display after he was captured.

Breed Apart

Written by Andreas Kisser and Max Cavalera, it starts off with a military like snare which morphs into a Tool like breakdown before Tool was known to do these kind of breakdowns.

I have no idea what Max is singing, but I don’t really care as the music gets me interested to pick up the guitar.

Straighthate

There is no way you can’t listen to the start and say that doesn’t sound like Tool on the “Aenima” album, which came after.

I also hear a lot of the Nu-Metal like riffs from acts like Slipknot, Spineshank and Mudvayne on this album. Then again Korn was doing something similar as well.

Spit

The riff has a hard rock like swagger, something that bands like Buckcherry and Orgy would do in a few years’ time.

Lookaway

It features guest appearances by Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis, then-Korn drummer David Silveria, House of Pain/Limp Bizkit turntablist DJ Lethal, and Faith No More/Mr. Bungle vocalist Mike Patton. The track alone could appear on a Korn or Mr Bungle album. It’s chaotic.

Dusted

Written solely by Andreas Kisser, it’s more of that Korn and Deftones vibe.

Born Stubborn

It’s got this industrial like vibe. Like all the songs, I have no idea what Max is singing.

It features an Xavante Tribe chant which also appears on the song “Itsari”.

Jasco

An instrumental by Andreas Kisser which feels like a tribute to someone.

Itsári

An instrumental with the Xavante Tribe chants and an acoustic guitar riff that reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s “III” album.

Ambush

I like the intro on this. It reminds me of stuff that Machine Head would do. It’s “a tribute to murdered South American rain-forest activist Chico Mendes”.

Endangered Species

It addresses environmental destruction. Musically it is brutal.

Dictatorshit

It’s about the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état. It’s fast, punk like and angry.

I would say that “People = Shit” from Slipknot is similar.

Canyon Jam

A hidden track on the album. It’s a 14 minute native drum instrumental.

The album was massive in Australia, reaching number 3 on our ARIA charts and a Gold certification to go. In Austria it reached number and a Gold certification. Gold certifications followed in Canada, France, Netherlands, the U.K and the U.S.

On top of that it charted in the Top 10 in Belgium, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

The small subtle change from fast speed metal to groove nu-metal worked. It is the bands biggest album and the last studio album to feature founding member, main songwriter and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Max Cavalera. The offers rolled in for Max to do something on his own. Soulfly would be the answer.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Less Than One Percent

If an artist released an album and it sold a million copies in the U.S, it would be given a Platinum award, but it only reached less than 1% of the U.S population, never mind the world. 99.9% of the population are ignoring the release, yet it is this commercial acceptance that artists try to chase.

Instead of chasing everyone, try to reach someone.

Inspired by this post at Seth Godin’s blog.

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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Falling Into Infinity

The “A Change of Seasons” EP from 1995, closed a chapter for Dream Theater that went back to those dark days without a deal.

After a short tour to promote the EP, they started writing songs in early 1996 for the follow up album to “Awake”. Derek Sherinian was a full-fledged member and was an extra addition to the song writing team.

Their label East West Records had folded into Elektra. Sylvia Rhone was now the President. Her interest in hard rock music was minimal. Nikki Sixx was also very anti-Sylvia, calling her from the stage on her mobile during Motley Crue concerts and getting the fans to scream “F U Sylvia Rhone.”

As written in the book, “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Rhone wanted to drop Dream Theater or to transfer the contract to Warner International, however their success in Europe and Japan was bringing enough dollars to the label, so Elektra decided to keep them. However, they had to come up with more shorter tracks that radio could get behind.

Little did they know, that they would be in development hell for almost a year. Most of the songs they submitted to the label for approval, were met with the request to write more songs. Progressive songs like “Lines In The Sand” and “Trial Of Tears” got a muted response from the label, while songs like “Hollow Years” and “You Not Me” got the label excited.

On top of this was the dissolution of their management team, which had the band divided. Petrucci picked one manager and Portnoy picked the other. Eventually, Petrucci’s choice Rob Shore was selected as the manager and Portnoy’s choice Jim Pitulski went to court to recoup some of his losses.

Further to this, their friend in label hell, A&R Rep Derek Oliver left and his replacement, Josh Deutsch was already fed up with the band. As far as he was concerned, the band was selling enough to not be a liability to the label, so as long as he could get the new record out, they would make numbers.

12 plus months passed before Deutsch gave the go-ahead to record the new album, in March 1997. The list of producers the band submitted was ignored and Kevin Shirley who just did Aerosmith’s “Nine Lives” was hired. Shirley also recommended that the band work with Desmond Child to re-write “You or Me”, resulting in Petrucci being flown down to Florida to work on the song with Child. Following the sessions, the song became “You Not Me”. This infuriated Mike Portnoy as he didn’t like how Desmond Child would re-write one of the songs with just one band member.

Originally, Petrucci and Portnoy wanted to call it “Stream of Consciousness”, but the rest of the band rejected the name although the phrase “Stream of Consciousness” is found in the song “Lines in the Sand” and would later become the title of an instrumental song on “Train of Thought”. Its eventual title was proposed by Petrucci, and its cover art was designed by Storm Thorgerson.

When you write for that long, there is enough material for a double album, but Elektra said the approved budget is for a single album.

As a side note, Portnoy released the double album, when he did the Ytse Jam Records Demo series for the “Falling Into Infinity” demos release. It also got a re-release with Dream Theater’s “Lost Not Forgotten” Archives releases.

If you are a fan of the band, the demo releases are must haves, as you get to hear songs like “Raise the Knife”, “Where are You Now”, “Cover My Eyes”, “Speak to Me”, “The Way It Used to Be”, and “Metropolis Pt. 2”, which was later expanded into its own album and the rest being included on the 1999 fan club CD “Cleaning Out the Closet”.

New Millennium

As soon as the King Crimson inspired intro kicks in with the keys and guitars in harmony, I was hooked. John Myung comes in with a bass riff which is very Tool like and I like the way John Petrucci decorates, very Adam Jones/Tool like.

Mike Portnoy is the lyrical writer here, as he looks at the music industry.

Press play for the Verse Riff. Its heavy, its melodic and its influenced by the times, but it doesn’t sound dated as there is funk and there is groove.

James Labrie cops a lot of flak from fans and I am one of them, but he shows his versatility moving between Peter Gabriel like vocals, to Maynard James Keenan vocals, to Bluesy Paul Rodgers style vocals and yet he makes it all sound hard rock in his own LaBrie way.

Derek Sherinian on the keys is more like Kevin Moore in style.

For an opening track it got my attention.

You Not Me

Musically it’s written by Dream Theater and lyrically it’s done by John Petrucci with small additions from Desmond Child. After hearing the demo of this song, I think Child’s additions are more like Holly Knight’s addition to change the title of “Rag Time” to “Rag Doll” by Aerosmith. The original demo is called “You Or Me”. After Child was involved, it changed to “You Not Me”. The vocal melodies are there on the demo.

The riff is nu-metal before nu-metal was even a thing.

And I like its big Chorus and simple Verse/Chorus structure. I am a hard rock fan first who likes progressive music, so this song is right up my alley.

Peruvian Skies

When they play this song live they go into “Enter Sandman” from Metallica as there a bits in the song that sound like they came from “Sandman”. If you get a chance to check out one of their live performances of this song, do it

Lyrics are written by John Petrucci. He is trying to tell an abuse story of person called Vanessa.

Musically, it’s got the dreamy arpeggios of Pink Floyd, with the metal crunch of Metallica. It’s a potent mix. And I like it.

Hollow Years

The “Live At Budokan” version is “the” version to listen to. This is where the solo is extended to include some shredding from Petrucci and the outro is also extended. One thing that is guaranteed when you watch DT live, is you don’t just get the studio version of the song. Which is a good thing. It irks me when bands play the studio version of a song live. There are no musical conversations happening on stage. For some bands it works, like Metallica and Iron Maiden, as their song structures are very rigid.

It was released as a single and you can tell why. It moves between flamenco-classical style acoustic guitars to a melodic soft rock Chorus. Petrucci wrote the lyrics to the song.

Burning My Soul

Mike Portnoy’s lyrics were inspired by his frustration at their A&R man, Derek Oliver. Once seen as a supporter who got them signed was now seen as a roadblock, a gear in the label machine pushing the label “sign em and drop em” agenda.

Overall, it’s a great song. It’s metallic, with a lot of groove. Metallica wasn’t this heavy during this time.

It also marks the beginning of an excellent middle section of the album, that involves “Burning My Soul”, “Hell’s Kitchen”, and “Lines in the Sand”.

Hell’s Kitchen

Producer Kevin Shirley made the decision to take out the middle section from “Burning My Soul” and turn it into a separate instrumental track.

Which I thank him for as “Hell’s Kitchen” is a 3 minute rollercoaster of emotions. Press play to hear John Petrucci at his melodic best.

Lines in the Sand

Lyrics are written by John Petrucci and press play to hear his guitar lead along with the verse/bridge section after the solo break.

King’s X’s Doug Pinnick also appears but James LaBrie stars here, twisting and morphing his voice across many different musical styles and genres.

At 12 minutes long, it didn’t feel boring at all.

Take Away My Pain

This is Dream Theater doing U2 while U2 was doing electro-techno rock.

Lyrically, John Petrucci writes about the death of his father and he decorates the song like “The Edge”.

And for people who said they sold out by writing a song like this, well they seem to forget that “Another Day”, “To Live Forever” and “Lifting Shadows Of A Dream” are very similar to this. So it was nothing new for Dream Theater to have songs like this on the album.

Just Let Me Breathe

Portnoy is throwing missiles at the music industry with his lyrics here. It deals with the media and how they purely exist to over report and sensationalise tragedy, like the deaths of Shannon Hoon and Kurt Cobain.

The drum and bass intro segues into the guitar riff kicking in. It’s heavy and groovy. Very “Liquid Tension Experiment” like which would come after this album.

Derek Sherinian solos here with Petrucci kicking in some harmonies. Then they trade off each other. Overall, I like the song musically but the vocal melodies didn’t resonate with me, although I do like how Portnoy wanted to try something different with the melodies.

Anna Lee

James LaBrie has a lyrical contribution to a Dream Theater album. The song is a ballad, with a nice piano riff as its centrepiece but it wasn’t a favourite back then nor is it a favourite write now.

Petrucci does deliver a nice solo.

Trial of Tears

I wrote a whole blog post on this song. You can read it here. It’s in three sections but played as one complete 13 minute song. Bassist John Myung is the lyrical writer.

Section I is called “It’s Raining”, Section II is called “Deep in Heaven” and Section III is called “The Wasteland”.

James LaBrie again steals the show with the various vocal styles he exhibits here. And Petrucci is on hand to deliver some nice emotive lead breaks.

As mentioned in the book, “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, the album was considered a commercial failure, failing to break any new ground for Dream Theater or increase their sales despite its more commercial direction. As a result of the creative and personal tensions experienced during the album’s production phase, it has been described as the band’s “most difficult album”, and eventually led to their demanding to be free from record label interference for all future albums.

Regardless of commercial expectations, I go back to this album on a regular basis. Crank it.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – June 6 to June 19

4 Years Ago (2018)

As much as I try to have a buffer of posts, sometimes life and other events get in the way so my days become a matter of priorities.

And 4 years ago, my blogging suffered. Sort of like how it is suffering around this time again.

WHAT’S NEXT

You paid your dues from hotel to motel, got ripped off on the pay from the promoter, had some fights and some good times and maybe, just maybe, you might have gotten a recording contract.

Which didn’t guarantee success, but it gave you a chance to play in the field of dreams.

Suddenly, MTV made people believe that if they got a recording contract, success was guaranteed. And the live show became a clone of the recordings, because artists took their time to get the recordings perfect.

Music is cultures greatest invention and the record labels signed artists based on the music more than the commercial potential. With some A&R development, smart marketing, an audience would come and a career is built. But streaming put the public in control. It took away the power of scorched earth marketing tactics from the labels.

Songs that go nuts on streaming happen months before the rest of the mainstream picks up on them. And every so few years something new comes along that becomes mainstream. Classic rock gave birth to prog rock to punk to metal to hair rock to grunge to industrial to nu metal and so forth.

What’s next.

8 Years Ago (2014)

HEY STOOPID

Alice Copper had a string of hit albums in the Seventies. Towards the end of the decade and in the early Eighties his output was of a lesser standard while he dabbled in new wave rock. Then he started to gain some momentum with two underrated hard rock/metal releases in “Constrictor” and “Raise Your Fist and Yell”. But the massive mainstream comeback happened with “Trash”, his Eighteenth studio album. Yep, Alice’s career was eighteen albums deep.

So when it came time to record the follow-up to “Trash”, another star-studded cast was assembled.

A lot of cash was thrown at every body. It was a who’s who of hard rock royalty.

Listen to it and re-evaluate.

COMPLICATED COPYRIGHTS

I don’t understand why people go to a rock show or a metal show to film the whole thing on a smart phone.

I have also been known to break out my iPhone and capture some footage or a few photos for posterity. But I’ve never gone back and referred to my amateur filming or photography.

The reasons are simple, those captures can never accurately reflect the concert as I witnessed it.

Once upon a time it was a big thing to go to a concert and talk about it, but these days it’s no big deal.

So is videoing a concert with a phone a violation of an artist’s copyright. Don Henley says it is, however he also said that he doesn’t want the shows posted on YouTube because it spoils it for people who are going to come to a show in the future and that he doesn’t want to see Eagles content out there that sounds horrible.

Some use it as a form of a diary record, to remember or relive that moment when their favourite song came on. Some do it to share the moment and their love for the artist. Some do it because they simple can. A smart phone or an iPad or Tablet, allows us the convenience to do so.

BANDS

The years of practicing and writing do not prepare you for the realities of the music business.

To me the big one is the sense that bands just can’t get along. The odds of success are so rare no one wants to give an inch just in case that inch was their chance at making it.

It got to the point where fans of other bands were told to wait outside while the other bands played, just in case some record label rep was in the audience and saw people having a good time.

INVASION OF THE SWEDES

Sweden is a massive exporter of cultural content. Most of the bands I like are from Sweden and one of the biggest Pop songwriters over the last 25 years is also from Sweden.

Isn’t it funny how the home country of Spotify also has one of the most vibrant rock and metal scenes in the world. But wait a second. I am sure I have heard the RIAA and their proponents scream that because music has been devalued, no one will create anymore.

Well it looks like someone forgot to tell the Swedes, a country that has embraced streaming and guess what, their musical scene is flourishing.

KAMELOT

I don’t mind my fix of Power Metal. Here is my own 10 second wrap up of a whole genre beginning from the Seventies.

It started with Deep Purple, Rainbow and Iron Maiden. Then Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween came along. They both increased the tempos and Yngwie Malmsteen exaggerated the classical elements which led to the current Power Metal movement which is just a higher tempo version of the beast that Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween inspired.

The thing with power metal at the moment is that there are so many acts out on the market that are just not good enough to be there. They think by playing at break neck speeds it makes them good enough.

Kamelot is not one of them. Because Kamelot is not all about higher tempos. There is more variation in their music. Credit Thomas Youngblood, one of the bands original founders.

I’m listening to “Silverthorn”, Kamelot’s tenth studio album and their third concept story.

It’s the song “Veritas” that connected with me. And the connection comes in the form of a band called Savatage, who I am a big fan off, especially the era of Criss Oliva. Because it sounds like something that could have been recorded for a Savatage album.

I can’t say that I like everything that Kamelot has put out, however they have done enough on each album to keep me interested to come back and invest my time to hear each new album. And that is what matters today.

DAYBREAK EMBRACE

I really enjoyed Daybreak Embrace’s 2010 EP “Tomorrow Awaits”. From that EP “Thirty–Six” is a dead set classic and “Sanctuary” is not that far behind. This is where people should start.

So I was curious as to what new music they had released since then.

I go to Spotify, type in their name and I see that they have new music. The “Mercury” EP was released in 2013. Damn, how did I miss that. The Modern Rock scene in the U.S is a very crowded marketplace. With all the beautiful things that the Internet has brought us, one thing hasn’t changed. It is still difficult for a band to get attention and the odds of success are still very low.

GEORGE LYNCH – SACRED GROOVE

By 1993, everything changed. The Record Labels threw their lots in with the Grunge movement, abandoning the majority of the hard rock and heavy metal bands they had on their roster. But, hard rock and metal releases still kept on coming. The only issue was that they became harder to get in Australia.

And “Sacred Groove” from George Lynch would probably never get booted out of the Top 10 list for that year. It’s an album that has guitar instrumentals with hard rock songs featuring some of the best singers. Slash did something similar with his Solo album a decade later.

The best instrumental track by far on the album is “Tierra Del Fuego”. A six-minute tour de force in Flamenco Hard Rock music.

The best vocal track on the album is “We Don’t Own The World”, that has vocals by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. But the song is actually written by George Lynch and Don Dokken. Dokken was supposed to sing on the track, however he failed to show up at the studio. So Lynch got the Nelson twins who were in the studio next door recording their ill-fated “Imaginator” album, which got rejected by Geffen and John Kalodner.

“Flesh And Blood” is written by George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and Ray Gillen is on vocals. This is a rare gem as Ray was to pass away that same year. That awesome groove sets it up and Lynch owns that solo.

Glenn Hughes involvement with George Lynch goes back to the Lynch Mob days, when he recorded scratch vocals on the second album, so that new singer Robert Mason could follow. On Lynch’s first proper solo outing, he sings on two songs, “Not Necessary Evil” and “Cry Of The Brave”. Both of the songs have music written by Lynch and lyrics by Hughes. This period of Hughes’s career is the one I like the most. He was everywhere with his own solo project, with George Lynch, with John Norum, with a Blues project and many more.

THAT 1994 MOTLEY CRUE ALBUM

I had mixed feelings when I heard that John Corabi was the new Motley vocalist. Twenty Eight years on the album has survived the test of time. Darker, bluesier, ballsier, kick-ass rock and roll.

It has some of the best playing the band had and has ever done. And it was so ahead of its time that the record label just didn’t know what to do with it and how to market it.

People said they ripped off Alice In Chains because it packed serious groove. Umm, listen to the Girls and Feelgood albums. They also grooved.

People said they jumped on the grunge bandwagon because they down tuned. For most of their career Motley Crue down tuned.

What about all the scattered Zeppelin and Beatles influence all over the record? Nikki Sixx said that he was trying to write his own Physical Graffiti. And he succeeded.

It’s a great record with the unfortunate truth that it was released by Motley Crue and the album remains hidden from any new fans connecting with it.

And that’s a wrap for the fortnight that just passed.

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

Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 31 to June 5

4 Years Ago (2018)

War Of Attrition

Back then I asked the question “If we stop using Spotify or Netflix, would we miss them?”

Since then a lot of other players have taken market share in the steaming world.

I am a heavy user of Spotify. For Netflix its hit and miss. Sometimes I could go weeks without using it and on other occasions it’s every day.

At the moment, in 2022, I also have subscriptions to Stan, Amazon, Paramount+ and Disney.

Being missed when you’re gone is a worthy objective for any organisation. It also should be an objective for any artist. If I stopped listening to music in general, I would miss it. If I stopped listening to music from certain artists I would really miss it.

And the ones who will survive are not those looking for short term profits, but those that realize it’s a war of attrition.

Who Should Be Listed As A Songwriter For A Song?

Metallica wanted to re-issue their 1982 demo “No Life To Leather”. Dave Mustaine on Twitter, said the talks broke down because Lars wanted song writing credits on two songs that Mustaine wrote every note and word to. So instead of agreeing to share the song writing, Mustaine passed.

Song writing is always an issue with bands.

Van Halen had all the band members listed as songwriters on all of their albums. Suddenly, when the band re-negotiated their publishing deals for their earlier David Lee Roth albums, Michael Anthony was removed as a song writer.

Skid Row’s Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan said that Sebastian Bach didn’t contribute to the Skid Row debut album as most of the songs were written before Bach joined. Bach countered to say, that the way he sung the songs, and the way he decided to hold certain notes was enough of a contribution to the debut album and he should be listed as a songwriter. Manager Doc McGhee said Bach has no idea how copyright works.

Nikki Sixx said one of the reasons for Vince Neil’s departure from Motley was due to his lack of song writing contributions, which Vince countered to say he had enough co-writes on Motley’s classic 80’s era to counter that.

100% of the time, when an individual writes a song, there will be music, words and melodies written at the same time.

8 Years Ago (2014)

Arrows To Athens

I went in cold to listen to “Arrows To Athens”.

I had no idea what style of music they played, who was in the band, who produced em and which label if any released it.

After listening to the album I was a fan. It’s simple and effective modern rock. Catchy.

So I Googled the band and I came across the name of David Hodges. He walked away from Evanescence before “Fallen” exploded and become a songwriter for other artists in the world of modern/pop rock.

David’s problem is that he is too talented. He can easily write hit singles and all the songs here are infectious.

Do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s on Spotify and on YouTube.

Ashes Divide

I went in cold on this as well. The first thing that came to mind was “A Perfect Circle”. So I Googled it and of course it is Billy Howerdel’s project. And he sings on it. The album came out in 2008 and the first time I heard it was May, 2014.

“Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” is the album name and there is no filler here. Check it out.

Angel Of Mercy

“Angel Of Mercy” from Black Label Society always gets me to pay attention.

The song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society.

And the lead break is pure magic. Just listen.

It builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display.

The song was never a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

Ozzy probably didn’t know it, but in Zakk, he had a guitarist who could do Black Sabbath better than Black Sabbath, do the works of Randy Rhoads justice. (Of course, as a diehard RR fan, no one could do RR better than RR himself) and Zakk could play Jake E Lee better than Jake E Lee. Zakk once called his Ozzy gig the most glorified covers gig ever, where he gets to play some cool shit written by others and he also gets to play his own shit.

Lynch Mob

The follow-up self-titled Lynch Mob album had Keith Olsen producing. I suppose anything to do with George Lynch, includes a saga with a lead singer.

It’s 1992.

Dokken was four years dead. In between that time George Lynch and Mick Brown shacked up together with Lynch Mob and remained with Elektra Records. Jeff Pilson went to War and Peace and lead singer Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and jumped ship.

The first post Dokken battle between had Lynch scoring some points with the excellent “Wicked Sensation” coming first. However, Don Dokken and John Kalodner were still building their all-star cast for “Up From The Ashes” and even though the album was an exemplary piece of melodic hard rock, it failed commercially. I suppose Don’s $1 million advance sign on fee didn’t help the budget. But it is still a favourite to me.

And the great momentum built up by the Mark 1 version of Lynch Mob was taken back a few steps with the ousting of vocalist Oni Logan. The story goes that Lynch had a problem with the way Logan sounded live. So after letting Logan go, the band had Glenn Hughes come in. He would sing the songs on the demos and then new singer Robert Mason would record em.

Fun fact for the day is that Glen Hughes did co-write a few tunes with Don Dokken for the “Up From The Ashes” album, with “When Love Finds A Fool” making it to the final cut.

But the album failed to match the sales of “Wicked Sensation” even though “Tangled In The Web” was a Top 10 hit.

Lynch Mob went on tour and Lynch was “not feeling it” with Mason and he wanted to get another singer. That singer was Ray Gillen, who at the time wasn’t interested because he had just completed “Voodoo Highway” with Badlands and was keen to push and promote that album.

If only Gillen knew the fall out that would happen between him and Jake a few months later. Glenn Hughes was considered, however he was discriminated against because of his age.

And then George Lynch returned to Dokken for the already written “Dysfunctional” album and even though as a hard core fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it, the truth of the matter is the band was spent. And we can speculate or argue why or just revel in the greatness of what came before.

The New Nursery Rhymes

The recording industry tells us that we need more Copyright for music to thrive and survive. But nursery rhymes survived all this time without the recording industry and copyright.

Say bye-bye to the old and say hello to the new. Here is a list of the new nursery rhymes that my two-year old loves.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Back in the Eighties, the PMRC listed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as number 7 on their filthy fifteen list. And the reason why it was on the list. Violence. Yep, Tipper Gore and her housewives found the song to be violent while millions upon millions of adolescent teens found it empowering.

“Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Rock and Roll”, “Rock N Roll All Nite”

Songs about letting your hair down.

“Livin On A Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin”

Two songs are about never giving up and believing in yourself. And those people are still believing with billion plus streams for these songs.

“Eye Of The Tiger”

The “Rocky III” producers wanted to use “Another One Bites The Dust” however they could not get permission to use the song, so Sylvester Stallone hired Survivor to write an original song instead.

“We Will Rock You”

The boom boom cha. It’s undeniable.

And these songs get passed on via word of mouth. It’s how culture rolls.

What I Am Over Reading ….?

Metallica’s New Album

Six years had passed since Death Magnetic was released.

Led Zeppelin Reissue’s

Seriously. How many times can someone own the original three albums or the songs contained within those albums.

Piracy

Seriously. Is this still an issue in 2014?

Streaming Doesn’t Pay

It does pay. If you are not getting any of the pie speak to the label or the organisation that holds your rights.

Sales

They are irrelevant. All they do is give the old guard a way to measure something that is irrelevant because the new way to measure an artist’s reach is just too hard to fathom for them.

Are people listening to the album?

Press Releases for new albums

People can see through the hype. We don’t care when bands say “how great this new album is” or “how it is a definitive statement of the band right now”. All we care about is if we like it. If we do like it, we will talk about and we will push it. If it is crap, expect it to disappear.

Because if publicity does increase sales, then bands should be selling by the millions and selling out their shows. But they don’t.

And that’s another wrap of DoH history for a week.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 16 to May 29

Life always throws curveballs. I have reached the stage in my life where I don’t have the time to do my full time IT job. I wouldn’t have it any other way with all of the family distractions, however my blogging has suffered a fair bit in 2022, from the usual daily posts to a post or two in a week and then back to daily posts and then to one or two a week again. Even reading and commenting on posts has gone a bit slack, but I will get around to reviewing it all.

So here is a two week review of Destroyer Of Harmony History.

4 Years Ago (2018)

Copyright was designed to protect the artist and to enhance culture. It did this, by giving the artist a monopoly on their works, so they could make money from their works and have an incentive to create further works. This monopoly was for a short period with the option to renew. Once the expiry date passed, the works became part of the public domain for future generations to build on and use. Like how the 60’s musicians took all the Blues classics from the 30’s that had terms which expire in the 50s and the “British Invasion” was born.

But.

Corporations started to rise because of these monopolies and what we have now is a copyright standard so far removed from what copyright was meant to be. For over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning.

“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?”
Todd Rundgren

“Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device”
Lawrence Lessig

The songwriters and the actual artists will never be properly compensated because of poor record keeping from the record labels and the publishing organisations, but these same organisations blame the technology companies for not doing enough to seek out the songwriters.

But the labels licensed their catalogues to the techies, so wouldn’t they have the information as to who wrote what. Especially for the lesser artists.

There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down the Sunset Strip in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The “Censored” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV had a ball with it.

And the clip is misleading. While it looks like the guys are having fun, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow managed to get married and still screw anything that moved, while Vince Neil was still on probation from his car crash homicide and pretending to be sober. In other words, life in the Crue was chaos with a capital MC.

The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.

Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion
Greed has been crowned the new king

From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.

And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.

Artists always had a lot of songs in the bank. Sometimes they didn’t even release their best song. They always withheld some for the next album and the album after. And they kept on writing.

Majority of artists are intrinsically motivated. The joy of creating a new song is what motivates them. If the song gets public acceptance, and it brings in money, great. As long as they are still motivated by the joy of creating a new song, they will be fine. As soon as they are motivated by the need to match or better the popularity of the “hit” song, then they are in trouble.

Social media is there to give you instant feedback. After the show is over, people are commenting. After a song is released, people are commenting. It gives you the ability to connect and know your fans, to interact with them and to get a feel for what they like and want from you.

Remember music is forever, and it needs people to like it. Be creative and never stop.

It takes artists a while, but they eventually realise how much their copyrights are worth. Nikki Sixx on Twitter said that the best industry lesson he learned was that Motley Crue didn’t really need a record label after the first two albums. And this antipathy towards labels ended up with Motley Crue getting their rights to the Masters back in 1998 from Elektra.

And then you have instances where artists need to sell their songwriting credits because of bad business decisions. K.K. Downing, founded Judas Priest. He left the band in 2011 due to issues with the other members and he purchased a golf course, which went into administration. As part of bankruptcy, Downing sold the rights to 136 songs he co-wrote. According to the article, these songs generate $340K to $400K in royalty payments annually back in 2018. Those numbers are only growing and the Copyright holders, (the Labels and The Publishers) are making their money back tenfold.

On the other side, is the graphic artists who normally get paid a flat fee for their services to create/design an album cover. At the time of designing the cover, no one really knows the impact the album might have on culture. So is the graphic artist to get paid extra when the album they designed the cover for broke through and sold millions. Case in point, Jethro Tull and the iconic “Aqualung” cover.

In the 70’s a young artist was hired by Chrysalis for $1,500 via a handshake deal to create three paintings to his style and content for Jethro Tull’s new album. The album went on to become Jethro Tull’s best-selling album, with over 7 million copies sold and so many anniversary editions issued. And apart from the great music, the album cover has become iconic, being re-issued on cassettes, CD’s, T-shirts and what not. And the artist who painted it, well, the label contends it was a “work for hire” agreement. And with no written contract, the label can say anything, so Chrysalis (now Warner Brothers) said the copyright for the paintings belonged to them. Fancy that. A label claiming to own the artistic rights to art.

When it comes to artists and copyright law, it’s very messy, especially for famous works as the companies don’t want to lose the rights to valuable works. So the corporations always try to extend Copyright terms.

As much as I like using Spotify, once they reach critical mass, the prices will go up. But it’s easier said than done, as there is a lot of competition in streaming these days. And one of the key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but every time they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Copyright monopoly anyone.

And back in 2018, my Netflix subscription went up and it went up again last year, while the shows I watched they keep cancelling like “Altered Carbon” or “Sense8”. But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.

Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. It’s was good then and it’s still good today, a timeless album.

And on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums hated this album.

On May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”. The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”. It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Can’t This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.

And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is popular on the charts today. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be.

Playing in a band is tough. Everyone wants to do it, but the long road to make some money and no safety net scared a lot of people off. And the ones who stuck it out, are still sticking it out.

Some broke through, some got signed and released music on a label and some still play the bar/club scene. These days, artists can record and release their music themselves, while holding down a full time job that pays.

Music is a lifers game. Because it’s alienating. When you write music, you are normally alone, surrounded by feelings. When you are on the road, you end up alone in a hotel room and for some artists they never come home alive. It’s hard to even speak about depression today, especially when you are surrounded by social media and it’s “everybody’s a winner” message.

So while society might base itself around the winners on social media, the truth is we all lose, each and every one of us at some point in time.

Did anyone hear about the copyright infringement suit between The Script and James Arthur.

Back in 2018, James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” released in 2016 had 846 million streams on Spotify and on YouTube it had over 600 million views.

Meanwhile “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” from The Script, released in 2008, doesn’t even rate a mention in the Top 10 streamed songs for The Script and even their biggest song, “Hall of Fame” released in 2012 is sitting at 419 million streams on Spotify. On YouTube, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” has 172 million views.

G, D, Em and C is the chord progression under question. The Script are adamant that the way they use the Chord progression with the vocal melody is unique and original and they are the first ones EVER to do it. Go to a Christian church and a lot of the songs they sing there use this chord progression. Pick up any album from any era and this chord progression will be there.

The songs do sound similar, but any song which uses this chord progression will sound similar. Of course it’s no surprise that the attorney’s representing “The Script” are the same ones Marvin Gaye’s heirs used for “Blurred Lines”. According to The Script’s legal team, at stake is $20 million dollars.

The reason why music became such a large commercial force is because songs sounded similar. In the book “Hitmakers” by Derek Thompson, it mentions how our tastes in music are based on something we’ve heard before with some slight variation.

How many times have we stumbled upon a new song that we like, listen to it constantly on repeat while we try to figure out what other song it sounds like?

But we live in a world that if someone is winning, someone must be losing. So in this case, James Arthur is winning and The Script are losing, because he is winning with a song that sounds similar to their song and their song sounds similar to another song and that other song sounds similar to another song and so on.

8 Years Ago (2014)

Remember the days of purchasing an album based on a heavily marketed opening track and to find out that the album had 1 great song and 2 to 3 maybe 4 decent songs. And the rest were there as pure filler.

After being burnt so many times on purchases like these, did the labels or artist need any more evidence as to why people took to cherry picking when the mp3 became available. And with streaming, we have taken it up a notch.

The big songs just keep getting bigger and the album cuts are forgotten. A lot of music listeners wouldn’t even be able to name the album that had “Don’t Stop Believin’”.

Yep the labels are at it again. Using money that should be paid to their artists to buy shares in another technology company.

This time around Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have each bought $3 million in shares in Shazam Entertainment on top of the stake they own in Spotify.

The record labels still scream that there is no money in the recording business because of piracy. Yet, Universal Music has also purchased shares in Beats Music and when the Apple billion dollar purchase is complete of Beats, it will be even richer.

Yet, a recent IFPI report shows that the labels invested $4.5 billion in artist and repertoire. If there is no money in the recording business,then why would the record labels spend so much money on artist and repertoire.

Because artists are the lifeblood of the music industry. And it is artists that make the labels money. No one buys an album because Elektra released it.

The labels have purchasing power because of the artists.

The labels have status because of the artists.

The artists have made the label executives more wealthy than the best-selling artists.

So if the record labels own shares in Spotify and Shazam, does that mean by default, the artists also own those shares. The answer should be YES.

Every corporation in power, when faced with the inevitabilities of competition, have a nasty habit of pushing backwards. They assume that by killing off any competition before it gets some momentum, they have done enough to protect their business models. They assume that if they lobby or bribe hard enough and get even more draconian laws passed, it will give them more power to prevent any further problems down the line.

But change is eternal. It is progress and it cannot be stopped. Try as the corporations will, change always happen.

The recording industry built an empire decades ago based on the control of the media and the distribution chains. Teenage kids from 1999 built a better system.

And the system allows for the transitioning of power and control back to the audience and the actual creators. But the artists want to apply the old charging system to the new system.

It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person still buys a physical CD or LP of the artists, that same person should be able to download that whole album via a download site that the artist controls. Coheed and Cambria did this with “The Afterman” releases. Amazon offers it via the AutoRip option however not all artists opt in.

It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person wants to download an MP3 rip of an album for free, they should be able to do it. If Pirate sites make so much money from advertisements, then why don’t the record labels provide the same service that they pirate sites provide and even reward those uploaders for continuing to spread culture instead of locking it up. These people would never have purchased physical anyway.

Music is cultural. It was always possible to identify people’s musical tastes by the clothes they wore and the style of their hair. Our musical identity was a source of pride.

The definition of a casual music fan twenty to thirty years ago meant having a high music IQ and typically purchasing a seven inch single on a weekly basis. The definition of a casual music fan today means having a lower music IQ about who was involved in the song’s creation and focusing all on the song.

Nobody owes a musician a living and what is valuable is subjective.

From the beginning of time, musicians always made money from public performances.

Copyright at its basic level ensures that people receive compensation for a valuable good that they spend time and energy to create. This creates an incentive to put more time and energy into producing new work. Longer Copyright terms do not benefit the original creator in any way whatsoever.

People start to create for the sake of creation rather than money.

Whether people want to admit it or not, every song that is written relies on some sort of connection to past works.

Piracy has never been the problem. The RIAA just found it convenient to blame Piracy. It was all a smokescreen to fool the politicians into action so that they can get control back over the distribution/gatekeeper monopoly they had.

Recording revenues never recovered because it turns out that most people just want the best songs and not all of the songs.

There is a big difference between getting paid a “living wage” and earning one. Just because a musician creates a song or records an album, it doesn’t mean that you need to get paid a living wage. You need an audience that believes that you have provided a service to them by releasing your music.

Music is something people choose to do free and money is a by-product of doing music. A wage is something your employer pays you for doing your part in bringing him profit. If you want a wage for playing music and you are not a superstar act, then you need to put in your 40 hours a week. Be a music teacher, gig every day.

Being paid is good, but being known is better.

You could say wrong time, wrong place.

I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such a band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.

A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.

The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.

While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.

They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.

The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.

Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.

Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.

But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.

It’s there Eighth album.

How many bands out there had their biggest album on their 8th release?

Just to put it into context. Metallica’s 8th album was “St Anger”. Motley Crue’s 8th album was “New Tattoo”. Aerosmith’s 8th album was “Done With Mirrors”. Black Sabbath’s 8th album was “Never Say Die”. Ozzy’s 8th album was “Down To Earth”. Bon Jovi’s 8th album was “Bounce”.

When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.

I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.

What I did know was the music. And the music was great.

In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off.

The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.

The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.

“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.

Then the album blew up.

Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.

And that’s a wrap.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 9 to May 15

2018 (4 Years Ago)

This week in 2018, the Tygers Of Pan Tang were getting a listen. And the cut “Mirror” written by John Sykes got a post.

It’s a forgotten Sykes cut, released in 1981 on the “Spellbound” album.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

This week in 2014 was all about advice.

So the first piece of advice is; “Each style of music regardless of the genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.”

The 80’s hard rock scene began in 1981 and the freeze happened in 1992. Some bands found success again many years later and some acts never recovered.

Crossfade is a band I like but singer/guitarist Ed Sloan is a slow worker when it comes to new music. The review of their album “We All Bleed” is here.

It came out in 2011, five years from the last album. Five years is a long time to be gone from the music industry these days. A lot of living takes place. Fans grow older. Tastes change. At the moment they are 11 years gone with no new product. But Ed Sloan did release a few solo singles around 2017.

Glen Hughes is a survivor, a lifer who has survived a lot.

I’m a big fan of the melodic AOR rock style of Glenn Hughes so I wrote a “Primer” post on his melodic rock career with the disclaimer, “by no means is the list complete”.

Check it out. It covers a lot of ground and different artists like Deep Purple, John Norum, Don Dokken, Hughes Thrall, and Glenn Hughes.

Music used to be about finding some Avant garde musical and lyrical edge and pushing yourself and that edge to the limits.

Want to be as big as Metallica. Forget about the Napster court case and remember that Metallica was a band that had an edge. They were an outlier versus the LA Glam Rock movement.

And credibility is everything.

That is why Rock/Metal bands didn’t really last forever. Most acts had a shelf life of less than 10 years.

Credibility equals musical differences.

How long were The Beatles together? Eight or nine years.

What about the original line up of Kiss? Eight or nine years.

Twisted Sister (the version of Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and AJ Pero) had a run of 7 years before AJ Pero was booted and another year after that the band itself was goneski for a long period of time.

Motley Crue had a run of 11 years before Vince Neil was outed.

Dokken had a run of 7 years before they went down in flames because George Lynch couldn’t get over the fact that the band he was in was called after the lead singer.

Niches. There are lots of them.

There’s always an audience that sees their scene as a sense of belonging and a badge of honor. In some cases, that sense of belonging is more important than the quality of the music.

If you really want to have success, you need to know as much information on music publishing. Because the longer you control your own publishing, the more power you will hold in negotiations if you have a hit song.

If you really want to have success, don’t hand over your copyright unless you are aware of the consequences of doing so.

Because there is so much music available we gravitate to what is great. And that could happen the instant you put out a new song or it could happen years after. Sometimes decades.

Which means there will be fewer acts that will reach critical mass. And for the ones that miss the old days guess what, they are never coming back. A career in the music business was always about that one song.

It was a lifestyle of round ’em up from whatever place or establishment they were in, go on the road, and see what happens.

In between trips they will write songs, try em out live, and then go and record the tracks that worked the best in a live setting. Some people got rich in the process and others got rich from the lifestyle.

Towards the end of the seventies, artists ceased doing it this way.

Because of the “Blockbuster” record label business model.

In the music business, the Blockbuster Business Model refers to a method of spending large amounts of money on recording and marketing, with the hope that the music will become a blockbuster, generating high returns. If a band had some traction, then they were perfect candidates for the “Blockbuster Record”. Plus it also helped that before the Soundscan era, the record labels found a loophole in the certification process that was based on distribution numbers instead of sales numbers.

Artists started to spend 12 months in a studio and albums started to cost millions.

The record labels knew what they were doing. Spend millions recording it, then print up a million copies of it and you have a platinum record to give to the band.

So do you want to know what being in a band is really like now?

It is a lifestyle of writing and releasing songs, connecting with fans and being as human as possible. Some people will make money in the process, some people will walk away and complain that piracy is killing everything and then others will still get rich from the lifestyle. When the song turns into a great song, the band will hit the road.

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

Australian Method Series: Cold Chisel – Cold Chisel

1976 saw AC/DC’s first internationally-released album, “High Voltage”. The demand for Oz Rock was already on the up.

Enter Cold Chisel.

After years of hitting every place and pub in Australia and drinking those places dry with their road crew, or getting banned due to fighting, Cold Chisel finally got a record deal and released their first album on WEA/Elektra in 1978.

But.

If you ever caught the band live, the self-titled debut sounded nothing like the band did on stage.

They also had a producer that kept telling em that live is live and the studio is the studio. They cannot intersect. Well tell that to Bob Rock who made it his mission to capture how good a band sounded live, in the studio.

Before the album was even released “Khe San” was already a crowd favourite however it was a lot faster live than the studio version. But there is something special about the slowed down studio version as well.

Juliet

It’s a rocker, more STYX like with a little bit of “Evie” from Stevie Wright and “Mississippi Queen” from Mountain.

Khe Sanh

“Khe Sanh” was released as a 45 rpm single in May 1978. It captures, the despair and the anger of an Australian Vietnam war veteran. There were no parades for these guys. They came back home, hated. And the promises made by the Government to look after them never came to be.

It was banned from commercial radio as the lyrics had references of sex and drugs. Lines like these were scandalous. “And their legs were often open/But their minds were always closed”.

But a great song is never born from marketing. It’s from word of mouth.

And the Battle of Khe Sanh was fought mainly by US Marines but this didn’t matter.

The piano riff is rocking and the best part of the song is when Jimmy Barnes sings, “the last plane out of Sydney is almost gone”.

And maybe all of us were a bit damaged as well so the song resonated with a lot of people who had addictions and couldn’t make meaningful contact with woman, and the need for casual sex with East Asian women.

Home And Broken Hearted

The verse riff reminds me of AC/DC, who were influenced by Chuck Berry.

One Long Day

The bass rumbles while the piano plays a jazzy riff that reminds me of “Long Way To The Top”. And it takes a left turn when it changes to lounge rock.

Northbound

Blues rock at its best

Rosaline

It could be a STYX or Bee Gees cut. It’s almost progressive the way Don Walker plays the piano.

Daskarzine

Its fast and aggressive.

Almost Rose Tattoo like and when “they speak her name in cheap hotels/From Turkey to Marseille” we get an understanding as to who Daskarzine is.

Just How Many Times

Its lounge jazz blues rock, slow and relaxed. The lyrical message is more important than the rest. Barnesy is a crooner on this, an R&B style of crooner.

They never got the big break in North America that they wanted, but it’s pretty hard to sell your act when your lyrics paint a picture of Australia.

And we loved em for it.

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

Al Pitrelli – 1993 to 1996

And we continue with Al Pitrelli’s story.

By 1993, a lot of artists who got their break in the 80’s had nothing doing. Even his band Danger Danger was struggling. Their album “Screw It”, released in 1991 got zero skulls out of 5 in the reviews I came across. The reviewers had enough of song titles like “Slipped Her The Big One” and “Horny S.O.B”.

The million bucks spent on the album would never be recouped, the band got dropped and it took another four years for Danger Danger to resurface with “Dawn” in 1995 on an unknown label.

But before they got dropped by Epic, there was an attempted album called “Cockroach” scheduled for 1993, however vocalist Ted Poley sought legal action to prevent it from being released as Bruno Ravel fired Poley after the album was completed and then got Paul Laine to re-sing it.

Due to the court case, Epic shelved the album but money talks and in 2001, it was finally released with Disc 1 being the Paul Laine version and Disc 2 being the Ted Poley version.

But while old friends had their various issues, Al Pitrelli was steaming ahead.

He was doing studio work with artists like Taylor Dayne. At this point of her career, Dayne was on fire, and a lot of money was thrown her way by the label for her third album. A lot of great songwriters were commissioned to work with Dayne and they bring their own players. Pitrelli on this case, played guitar on two tracks “Dance With A Stranger” and “I Could Be Good For You” on Dayne’s “Soul Dancing” album released in 1993. And like his previous studio work, Pitrelli was asked to perform again on a cut written by Diane Warren (“I Could Be Good For You”). I guess he had the soft rock mojo Warren was looking for.

His “Coven Pitrelli O’Reilly” project released “CPR” in 1993.

His “Morning Wood” project finally saw a self-titled release in 1994 (in Japan only and it wasn’t until 2002 that it saw a European release), along with Asia (“Aria”), Widowmaker (“Stand By For Pain”), the self-titled “Ten Ton Tide” album and “Out Of Control” by TM Stevens.

The “Morning Wood” band was Pitrelli’s old pal, Chuck Bonafante on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars, Tony Harnell from TNT on vocals and Danny Miranda on bass and keyboards. The album was all acoustic, mainly covers with a few originals.

The “Stand By For Pain” by Widowmaker is an album to be spoken of highly in relation to Hard Rock/Groove Metal. But like the heavy rock Widowmaker debut, it is largely ignored or forgotten. Dee Snider couldn’t catch a break post Twisted Sister, however he has shown his resilience, slowly rising back up year by year, first by a radio show, then as a screenwriter/director and when Twisted Sister reformed in the piracy decades, they were surprised to see that their music was more popular than ever.

Pitrelli also helped an old mate in Derek Sherinian get the keyboard job with Dream Theater after the departure of Kevin Moore. Al Pitrelli and John Petrucci used to teach guitar at a Long Island Guitar store, and Pitrelli put a call in to Petrucci to hire Sherinian who Gene Simmons described as the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher.

Pitrelli was also back in Asia for another album called “Aria” released in 1994. This period is known as the John Payne period. Al Pitrelli played on the previous album “Aqua” but didn’t tour. He played on “Aria” and went on tour this time, however after 4 concerts the tour was cancelled. Pitrelli left the tour early (how early can you leave a 4 show tour) and was replaced by ex-Simply Red guitarist Aziz Ibrahim for the other few shows. The album was also a complete commercial failure.

Another project called Ten Ton Tide released their self-titled debut. The band is listed as “Hard Rock” and “Prog Rock”. If you like Rush, then this band definitely fits the bill. This YouTube video is the only thing I could find on the project but it’s not the album that Pitrelli played on.

The band for the debut album is Jim Toscano on drums, Anthony Tirado is on Bass and Rhythm Guitar, Rob Glick is also on Bass and Guitar, Dan Gibson is on keyboards, Al Pitrelli and Zak Rizvi are on Lead and Rhythm Guitars and Dennes Cynd is on Vocals and Violin. One review mentioned the singer as a cross between Mick Jagger and Kip Winger. But I don’t hear that.

1994 or 1995 also saw a release from “TM Stevens – Out Of Control” called “Boom”, a fusion of hard rock, funk, rhythm and blues and metal.

For those who don’t know, TM Stevens is an American bass guitarist from New York City. He was a go to session guy and if you purchased a Billy Squier album, there is a chance you heard TM playing bass on it. The same goes for Pretenders, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Taylor Dayne, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Riot, Billy Joel and Steve Vai. And it was James Brown who got TM to sing. You know the track, “Living In America”. One of the voices on it is TM.

Apart from Al Pitrelli playing on the first album “Boom”, Richie Kotzen and Al Pitrelli both play on “Sticky Wicked” released in 1996.

In relation to “Boom”, check out the songs, “Supernatural”, “I’m A Believer” (a totally different song to the one you are probably thinking off), “The Gift”, “Hair”, “What About Love” and “Freedom (Never Gonna Give It Up)”.

Savatage were about to be dropped by Atlantic. They had given the band advances for each album and to the label, they never recouped that advance. Pitrelli was the studio player Paul O’Neill brought in to play lead guitar on their last album, “Dead Winter Dead”, released in 1995.

He went on a European tour with them as a hired gun and was to have no more involvement with the band after that.

But.

Something happened.

The song “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) was a hard rock mash up of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol Of The Bells”. The guitar leads you hear on the track that a violin normally plays are from the fingers of Al Pitrelli. And when Savatage returned to the U.S, this song had crossed over into the Charts and became a holiday favourite.

When there is a hit, expect a new album to come out. Savatage went back into the studio with Paul O’Neill producing again, but this time around, Pitrelli was a fully-fledged member, playing all the guitars and he was known as the “musical director” of the band. But Savatage was seen as a heavy metal band, and some due diligence by the label suggested that they should change the name of the band for this Christmas themed album.

And “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” was born. Otherwise known as “TSO”.

Also in 1995, a few other projects that Pitrelli was involved in got a release. The band “Place Called Rage” released their self-titled debut. Joe Lynn Turner released “Nothing’s Changed” and “Mojo Bros.” released their self-titled debut.

The “Place Called Rage” band had a few friends from the 80’s, like Chuck Bonafante on drums, Danny Miranda on bass and Tommy Farese on vocals. Released in 1995, it’s a great slab of hard rock rooted in the 70’s Rock movement with a lot of Springsteen style “Americana Rock” thrown in.

The Joe Lynn Turner album “Nothing’s Changed” is also rooted in 70’s Rock. Almost Bad Company like. Pitrelli co-wrote 4 tracks with JLT and also Co-Produced the album with JLT. Other musicians to play on it are Greg Smith on bass, John O’Reilly on drums, with keys being provided by Gary Corbet, Derek Sherinian and Al Pitrelli. This is another great slab of hard melodic rock, lost in the noise of 1995.

The Mojo Bros. self-titled debut is hard to find. A few YouTube clips exist and that’s it. Joe Lynn Turner and TM Stevens even appear on their Temptation’s cover “Ball Of Confusion”. The music is mostly instrumental except when they get in a guest singer for a cover song. The band is Danny Miranda on bass, Joe Franco on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. These three albums released in 1995 are not on Spotify.

1996 brings us to Vertex.

The “A/2” album from Arcade disappeared from stores as soon as it was released. The music that Stephen Pearcy made a living off was out of style. So Vertex was born when Pearcy was asked to be part of an industrial band by Japanese drummer Hiro Kuretani. Al Pitrelli joined on guitar and Juan Croucier from Ratt was meant to be the bassist, however that spot went to Robbie Crane from Vince Neil’s solo band for the tour. Al Pitrelli plays the bass parts on the album except for two songs (“Time And Time” and “Aint Gonna Be”) in which Bob Daisley plays the bass. Fate would have it that Crane would became the Ratt bassist as well afterwards. In a dropping the names moment, the guitarist in Arcade Johnny Angel had a connection with Al Pitrelli from their brief Talas days.

Vertex was way ahead of their time. Musically, Vertex sounded like a cross between Rammstein (before anyone knew of Rammstein globally), the hard rock genre and Megadeth. Pearcy even sounds like Dave Mustaine in the vocal department. I believe critics just saw it as a glam rocker faking his way through the 90’s pretending to be industrial. But Pearcy is really good on this and the album is forgotten. “Industrial RATT” is a term that I came across a fair bit in the YouTube comments section. The bands Orgy, Coal Chamber, Snot, Static X, Powerman 500, Stabbing Westward and early Filter all sounded very similar to what Vertex was doing.

Another release that happened in 1996, was from the “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” (TSO) who dropped the “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album around the Holiday season and man, it sold. 3 plus million is sales in the U.S for a triple platinum certification. A tour was organised in the U.S and it sold like crazy as well. The fusion of hard rock, progressive rock, classical and Christmas themed music with a bit of blues rock and jazz found itself an audience. A large one at that. And for the audience it was all about the experience.

After a long time as a journey man, a session guru and as a band member/leader trying to get a project up and running, Pitrelli had a project that would provide him with stability and success.

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