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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – July 19 to July 25

4 Years Ago (2017)

All death is tragic.

David Z, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington passed away. Ivan Moody was in a dark place at the time.

So many people make money from artists, and some make way more than the artists. The vicious cycles that artists are on from labels and management is borderline negligence.

The show must go on but there is no show when there is no artist.

The Jungle Giants is a band that plays a form of pop rock with dance/techno elements. I’m not a huge fan but in 2017 they were an unsigned artists that racked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and a lot more than artists who actually have label deals.

It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. But you have the freedom to decide what path to take.

And Album number 4 just came out.

When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying? 

It is possible to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard.

And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new. 

According to manager Barry McKay, Steve Harris stole an idea. I don’t know how you can steal an idea, but hey it happens.

Legal streaming music at the time was hurting.

Streaming companies need to license music from the legacy players for a substantial fee and then pay royalties to these organizations when the songs are listened/viewed.

And these organizations like the labels and publishers keep the bulk of these payments and pay cents to the artists they represent. 

Then they remain silent when Spotify gets sued for having music on their service.

But.

It was these organizations that approved Spotify to license their catalogues.

And I compared music streaming to Netflix who at that time had no problem growing its subscriber base and making profits, however it produces its own content, which earned it over 90 Emmy nominations.

And it’s monthly fees are identical to music subscription services, even though it costs a lot more to create a TV show or a movie than a song/album.

So how is Netflix profiting and Spotify losing?

8 Years Ago (2013)

I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on in Australia.

Corporations and Unions run this country. The Courts have been compromised by money. The mainstream media is all about half-truths and likes. No one reports with any substance or an opinion anymore as they had served whoever paid them the most.

Game Of Thrones was the most pirated show in the world, with Australia leading the way.

Why?

Unless we pay $300 plus for a PAY TV subscription, we couldn’t watch it.

Nine years later nothing much has changed. We’re still a mess. We can’t get our population vaccinated and we have a leader who just looks for the photo opportunity and has best friends who run QANON sites.

I’m an Amazon Prime Video subscriber and due to a deal they have with another PAY TV provider in this country, I couldn’t watch Bosch S7 on Amazon.

So I downloaded it.

Imagine that. I’m a paying legal subscriber and I couldn’t watch a show that the service created on their platform.

Why did guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Alex Skolnick, John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert rise above all the other shredders of the era that came on the scene between 1984 and 1994?

Guitarists like Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe and Vinnie Moore are all great guitarists, however they are still relatively unknowns outside of their guitar instrumental niche market.

Someone like Vinnie Moore played with Alice Cooper and is holding down the fort with UFO. He’s been there since 2003, 18 years. Michael Schenker only did 11, his first stint between 1973 and 78 was only 5 years.

But a lot of people still don’t Moore.

Jon Bon Jovi seemed to be pissing off his fans.

Perseverance is a massive skill. Especially when it comes to life as a musician in an internet era with information overload each day.

And success happens when you contemplate giving up.

Dream Theater almost called it a day, between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.

Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, couldn’t get a U.S deal. After Randy left to join Ozzy, Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, only to resurrect the Quiet Riot brand after the death of Randy Rhoads and turn it into a Number 1 act.

George Lynch auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. One of his earlier bands “The Boyz” had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to Lynch, to consider changing his name as he will never make it.

Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976.

How many musicians starting out today, would put in 18 years of service to music?

Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.

The Record Labels aren’t worth much if they don’t have acts. And Artists really don’t need a label deal anymore.

Of course it’s more difficult going your own way, however that is the future. If you are successful you will get label interest and a deal that suits you, because without an artist, there is no profit from music for the labels.

But.

The major labels want radio hits so they find artists that are easy to sell and easily expendable.

The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy was one of the funniest movies I had seen that year.

I provided my thoughts on the Metallica “Death Magnetic” DVD which included footage on the making of the album. It came with the Coffin Edition of the album.

James Hetfield still rules. As much as the documentary tried to paint Lars as this hands on kind of guy, if James didn’t agree or say yes, the musical idea wouldn’t be part of the song. Bob Rock once said that the problem with “St Anger” was that the main songwriter wasn’t there mentally. You can see that he is back for “Death Magnetic”.

And they went on a two year victory lap touring behind the album. They released DVD’s from shows, for the French and Latin America markets. They released live EP’s for certain markets. In Australia we got the “Six Feet Down Under” EP’s part 1 and 2.

When that died down, they orchestrated the “Big 4” shows and the “Orion” festival. They played the summer festivals around the world.

Then they celebrated their 30 years anniversary with a week of shows in San Francisco. When that died down they released the “Beyond Magnetic” EP, which had 4 songs that didn’t make the final cut. Then they released “Quebec Magnetic” and at that point in time they were doing the “Through The Never”movie.

So did anyone remember the debacle of “Lulu”?

It was old news, history. It’s like it never existed.

What a difference two years make?

“The House of Gold and Bones” by Stone Sour was becoming a favorite so I posted my review here and a review of a song “The Uncanny Valley” here.

At the time I was reading about how artists deserve to be paid for their creations because they put their blood, sweat and tears into those works.

Once upon a time, artists created music and that Record Labels looked to profit from this relationship with the artists. It didn’t always happen as making money in any occupation is a tough business.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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Australian Method Series: Airbourne – No Guts No Glory

Released in March 2010, “No Guts. No Glory.” is album number 2 for Airbourne, the follow-up to their 2007 debut “Runnin’ Wild”. While the debut caught a lot of people by surprise, the follow up was anticipated. On the same day of its release, the “Iron Man 2” soundtrack hit the shelves, which is seen as an AC/DC “Greatest Hits”.

You can’t get too much Acca Rock.

The album cover forecasts what the album would sound like. There is a steel works, an out of control truck driven by Lemmy, alcohol, women, raising the flag at the Eureka Stockade, a twister, the band and an Explorer guitar raised high like a trophy by one of the band members.

Airbourne is Joel O’Keeffe on lead vocals and lead guitar, David Roads on rhythm guitar, Justin Street on bass and Ryan O’Keeffe on drums. Production is handled by Johnny K and mixing is done by Mike Fraser. All songs are written by Joel O’Keeffe and Ryan O’Keeffe.

The album was recorded in Chicago at Johnny K’s studio. The band even slept in the studio.

“Born to Kill”

The intro guitar lick is like an out of tune national anthem. Then the rock and roll power starts, to kick off a song about being in a rock and roll band, being loud and doing what you love.

“No Way But the Hard Way”

It feels like “Rock N Roll Aint Noise Pollution”.

The idea of the song originated when the guys in the band lived together in a house (like a band house), while on welfare payments and trying to get the band up and running, and noticed.

As told by the band members in the track by track breakdown of the album on YouTube, after the album was released they were touring in Canada. The vehicle they were in, skidded off the road. They were stuck in freezing conditions for 24 hours, waiting for help.

No way but the hard way indeed. It’s a very Bon Scott like title.

And the film clip has them taking their rage out on the record labels as they enter the office of one and smash it all to bits. As I read in one interview, the labels are big powerful monsters who get demos from thousands of bands so they could put it in a box and never respond. So it was an F.U to them.

“Blonde, Bad and Beautiful”

“For Those About To Rock” or “Powerage” gets a makeover into a “Blonde, Bad and Beautiful” wrecking ball woman with long legs and the moves to break a man.

“Raise the Flag”

An anthem. Airbourne hit the market at the right time, just when AC/DC’s album output was slowing down and they quickly became the next best thing.

So if you love rock and roll, raise the flag. That’s the simple message of the song.

And how good is the intro?

“Bottom of the Well”

The title is self-explanatory, from being in a crap situation to turning it around. This song is more Kiss than AC/DC.

“White Line Fever”

More Kix like but still sounding like it came from the Aussie Pubs. Lyrically, I guess it’s that time again when you’re feeling stressed out.

“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”

The fastest track on the album. Like “Let There Be Rock” just faster.

“Steel Town”

It was written for people from working class towns. Australia has a few “steel cities” so a lot of their fans here can relate.

“Chewin’ the Fat”

Read the lyrics. It sums up oral sex.

“Get Busy Livin'”

It feels like a Free cut at the beginning, but when the whole band kicks in, its AC/DC all the way.

“Armed and Dangerous”

The intro and verse riff rock.

From the words of the band members, just think of a hot chick walking past and you get a hard on, well you’re armed and dangerous. Enough said. Press play.

“Overdrive”

It’s about living hard and no sleep, having a good time and not caring about the next day. Easier said when you’re young.

“Back on the Bottle”

Another fast rocker, to close the album off, and a subject matter about getting on the piss.

I guess I’ll have one more glass of whatever then.

It charted well in Australia and New Zealand, and it also did good business in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and Canada. In the U.S it peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hard Rock Charts as in some states they rocked and in other states they were unknown.

A shrewd business decision by the band and its management to license a lot of the songs from the album to various video games and movies, which brought in a different source of revenue, much higher than what the sales revenue would have generated.

“Born to Kill” is featured in the film “Jonah Hex”.

“Heads Are Gonna Roll” is featured in the video game “Madden NFL 10” and the official trailer.

“Raise the Flag” is featured in the video game “Twisted Metal”.

“Bottom of the Well” is featured in the video game “NHL 11”.

“Blonde, Bad and Beautiful” is featured in the trailer for the film “Bachelorette”.

“Back on the Bottle” is featured in The Good Guys episode “The Dim Knight”.

It’s not original in anyway and there is no great “hit” song to sell the album. But it’s a fun album, cool to listen to and in the words of Bon Scott, “Let There Be Rock” as the album has its foot on the accelerator pedal from the outset.

P.S.

Here is a little playlist that Joel O’Keefe told Guitar World readers in the July 2010 issue. I guess there are no surprises in the list.

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Joel Hoekstra 13 – Running Games

I was interested to hear this but I didn’t think I would have liked it as much as I did.

It’s excellent.

I am a Russell Allen fan. I knew of Allen long before I heard of Joel Hoekstra. Allen has a voice which can suit power symphonic bands, metal bands, melodic rock bands, hard rock bands, nu-metal bands and blues rock bands.

And I’m also a Jeff Watson fan, so I wasn’t too thrilled with any Night Ranger version without Watson. Then again Watson hasn’t done much being away from the band and I still want to hear new Night Ranger music.

So I still listened and Hoekstra impressed but I felt he was restrained within that band as Blades and Keagy are the alphas.

And with Whitesnake, Coverdale has two great guitarists to write tunes with but they need to comply with what Coverdale desires.

Which means that Hoekstra 13 is the true Joel Hoekstra.

“Running Games” is album number 2 for his Frontiers label.

The musicians for the album are Russell Allen on vocals, Tony Franklin on bass, Vinny Appice on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards with Jeff Scott Soto doing backing vocals. Yep, you read that right, the great JSS is doing backing vocals.

It feels like the 70s ethos, when you see so many guys from different bands jamming together and releasing music.

I was reading some of the interviews Hoekstra did when the album come out and fuck there are some shit interviewers out there, who just do the simple Wikipedia style of interview without even listening to the album.

But the one at “The Rock Pit” is what an interview is about. The interviewer actually listened to the album, liked it and wanted to know more about it. And you get exactly that.

“Finish Line”

“We Rock” from Dio is merged with “I’ll See The Light Tonight” from Malmsteen for the Intro riff and I’m all in.

And that Chorus. Wow. What a hook!

Make sure to check out the lead break as Hoekstra is doing his eight finger tapping.

“I’m Gonna Lose It”

I like the Intro lead. It reminds me of Thin Lizzy.

And just before the Chorus, there is a little snippet of a riff that gets me thinking of “A Touch Of Madness” from Night Ranger.

The lead break again. Wow.

Over at Glide Magazine, Hoekstra said He came up with the song out at Hook City at the Whitesnake studio.

“Hard To Say Goodbye”

The Chorus feels like a Joe Lynn Turner Rainbow Chorus.

“How Do You”

It’s slower and groovy, more in the vein of Adrenaline Mob in the verses with a Euro classical inspired Chorus.

“Heart Attack”

It is a bluesy groovy cut.

“Fantasy”

It feels like ZZ Top added some Metal to their sound in the Intro, and the verses are massive, Kashmir like.

Their is a keyboard solo and then Hoekstra breaks loose.

“Lonely Days”

What a melodic rock Chorus. I’m a sucker for these.

“Reach For the Sky”

Cliched and overused song title.

In an interview over at The Rock Pit, Hoekstra mentions how he wrote the riff on the Whitesnake Tour Bus. Inspiration strikes all the time.

“Cried Enough For You”

It feels like a Y&T cut from the “Black Tiger” album in the acoustic sections before it moves to an Iron Maiden like old school groove.

“Take What’s Mine”

The fast guitar lead and machine gun riff to start off the song gets me to pay attention, but it’s the verse riff that makes me pick up the guitar and bang my head to.

And there’s another anthemic Chorus.

“Running Games”

It feels like a Toto cut.

“Lay Down Your Love”

It feels like ZZ Top has come to town.

Overall Hoekstra’s songwriting is top level and the performances from the guys are excellent.

Check it out.

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Mean Man – The Story Of Chris Holmes

The guitar sound is what hooked me to WASP and when I saw the “Love Machine” clip, Chris Holmes had my attention. Running around and pretend slamming his guitar. He was a maniac.

In the 80s, he was called the new Lemmy, just crazier. He’s come full circle, fronting his own band and sounding like Lemmy when he sings.

Like so many artists, he never understood what he signed in the 80s. All of his publishing money goes to someone else because of it. He mentioned that if he understood what publishing was, Blackie and he would have gone head to head and he would have been out of the band pretty early on.

He mentioned how WASP ceased to be a band after the first album. All you need to do is look at the album covers.

They showed the footage of him in the pool in the “Decline Of Wedtern Civilization”. And Blackie was pissed because of it.

Psycho Squad is mentioned his post WASP band circa 1991 and 1992. But they couldn’t get a record deal after 18 months and broke up.

He’s reunion with Blackie in 1995 and the subsequent albums with WASP. I recently reviewed “Unholy Terror” and Holmes is mentioned as the lead guitarist, but he said he didn’t play a note on it.

He’s touring Europe now, playing small clubs and living in his mother in laws basement. He’s trying to make a name for himself. For his brand.

The “Mean Man” brand.

Check it out.

P.S. thanks to Ken Taylor for recommending the doco on the “Unholy Terror” review.

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Durbin – The Beast Awakens

James Durbin’s covers of Judas Priest on American Idol got me interested. The YouTube videos got some traction here in Australia. His debut album released in 2011, “Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster” rocked hard and I was a fan. “Celebrate” in 2014, lost me as it went way to poppy.

Then he hooked up (surprisingly) with Quiet Riot and he made me a fan again with the very underrated and forgotten “Road Rage” album released in 2018. “Space Cowboys” came out a year later but shit was going down in the Quiet Riot camp, as Durbin left the band before the album was released and drummer Frankie Banali was fighting for his life but we didn’t know it at that point in time.

And here we are with Durbin.

Joining James Durbin who does all vocals and guitars, is Mike Vanderhule on drums and Barry Sparks on bass. And from what I have read, different guitarists appear for the lead breaks.

The album came out in February, 2021 on Frontiers.

The Prince Of Metal

A perfect title to introduce his “Metal” album.

It’s like “Phantom Of The Opera” from Iron Maiden in the first few minutes and I’m all in.

James Durbin is killing it vocally and the guitar lead is also excellent. After the solo there is this slower “Heaven And Hell” groove and I’m banging my head to it.

The prophecy says / Raise Thy Horns / Bang Thy Heads / The Prince Of Metal

A QR reference. Perfect.

Kings Before You

Phil Demmel and Fozzy guest on this very Savatage sounding track, ala “Edge Of Thorns” in the verses.

I’ve always enjoyed Demmel’s playing in Machine Head and he delivers another guitar hero lead on this.

From the sky descends the wizard – As he spreads his hands apart / Manifesting right before me – Holding out the sacred heart

A Dio reference.

Into The Flames

It feels like it’s inspired by “Dance Macabre” from Ghost BC and I like it. Then again the riff is an overused riff from the 80s.

If anything the embryo of that riff can be traced back to “Don’t Fear The Reaper” from Blue Oyster Cult.

The Chorus is anthemic.

Now break the chains / Release the spell that you are under / This darkness will pass & give way to the light

The Sacred Mountain

It’s inspired by Dio and Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell”. Durbin, Sparks and Vanderhule are firing on all cylinders here.

The vocal melody from Durbin is memorable and the guitar lead is fast and excellent.

The Beast Awakens

Great title track. More Metallica and Judas Priest like.

Killer vocals and killer leads.

Demons drawing nearer / Is your life forsaken / Time to face your fears / For The Beast Awakens

Evil Eye

Malmsteen has a song with this title.

Great riffs and the lead break is guitar hero worthy.

I’ll walk through hell alone & swear as long as I’m still breathing / I’ll live to overthrow the hellion & blind the Evil Eye

A Judas Priest and Malmsteen reference.

Necromancer

A power metal cut.

Riders On The Wind

One of my favorites, buried deep in the album.

It’s got Dio and “Heaven And Hell” influences all over it and I’m all in.

Check out the lead break as well.

Riders On The Wind / Searching for the sacred night

Calling Out For Midnight

It’s speed rock, Saxon like with a typical Durbin anthemic chorus.

Battle Cry

After the supercharged tracks, we get a slower tempo track, but don’t call it a power ballad. Because it’s not.

And the lead break is so Gilmour like with a bit of Michael Schenker added for spice.

By The Horns

It’s almost Megadeth like, a more rockier version of “Symphony Of Destruction”.

Rise To Valhalla

The closer and a cut for all those power metallers.

I’m ready to ride out and fight for Durbin.

Great lead playing and harmonies.

Also the bass playing from Barry Sparks is excellent on this song and throughout the album.

Durbin possesses a great vocal range and his prowess on the guitar is evident on this album. As a songwriter, all songs are written by Durbin.

If this is his first entry into the realms of Metal, then I will eagerly await his next.

Check it out.

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The Record Vault: Dio – Holy Diver

I got “The Last In Line” album first (on cassette) and then went back to “Holy Diver”.

Ronnie James Dio success came from hard work and a commitment to stay the course. A true lifer in the music business.

Check out his release schedule.

Elf’s self-titled debut was released in 1972, “Carolina Country Ball” in 74 and “Trying To Burn The Sun” in 75.

Also in 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s “Rainbow” was released, “Rising” in 76, “On Stage” in 77 and “Long Live Rock N Roll” in 78.

With Black Sabbath, “Heaven and Hell” came out in 1980, “Mob Rules” in 81 and “Live At Last” in 82.

By 1983, the “Holy Diver” release would be his 11th album in 11 years. An album I have on vinyl and CD.

And it’s funny how artists today are complaining that streaming services are forcing em to release more albums frequently but that’s how it was done, especially prior to MTV.

The band that Dio assembled involved some experienced players in Jimmy Bain on bass and Vinnie Appice on drums and an unknown youngster called Vivian Campbell on guitar, who was recommended to Dio by Bain after he saw Campbell tearing up the stage with Sweet Savage, his NWOBHM band that was struggling to get a record deal. Their song “Killing Time” would become another Metallica cover, used as a B side for one of the Black album singles.

Jake E Lee also auditioned but he missed out, only to get the Ozzy gig soon after.

Stand Up And Shout

You’ve got the power, stand up and shout

The opening song and it’s a call to arms right off the bat.

Written before Vivian Campbell joined the band, the opening riff has appeared in a lot of songs. I did a post called “The One Riff To Rule Them All”.

It’s fast and energetic.

Lyrically the song deals with breaking away from conformity.  It was the same theme that Twisted Sister sold millions of albums on.

It’s the same old song
You gotta be somewhere at sometime
And they’ll never let you fly

The mysterious “they” could be your teachers, employers, leaders, mortgage brokers or some other entity/establishment holding you back.

You are the driver
You own the road
You are the fire — go on, explode

Damn right, we are our own driver but how many can truly say we made decisions without any influence from others.

Holy Diver

The lead single, sitting at 130.6 million streams on Spotify.

It’s “Heaven And Hell” re-cut in a new way.

How good is that groove from Appice and Bain under the iconic riff?

Vocally, Dio is fantastic and the guitar solo from Campbell is shredalicious.

Foo Fighters used it in the pre-chorus of their song “Something From Nothing”.

Gypsy

“LA Connection” comes to mind.

And the solo from Campbell is a standout.

Caught In The Middle

As soon as the opening chords ring out I was all in.

Looking inside of yourself
You might see someone you don’t know
Maybe it’s just what you need
Letting the river in you flow

And the song goes verse and pre, then verse and pre, so when the Chorus comes in it’s well worth the wait.

You’re caught in the middle
Just like the way you’ve always been
Caught in the middle
Helpless again

And how good is Dio’s ad-libing in the outro.

Don’t Talk To Strangers

The acoustic Intro. It’s enough for me to like it.

And the song percolates for a minute before the speed metal riff kicks in. If that fast riff sounds familiar, it should as they reused it again for “We Rock”.

This style of songwriting would also be used to perfection with “The Last In Line”.

The lead break is one of my favorites. It goes on for a while but I wanted it to go on longer.

And the song is then back to the acoustic intro before the speed metal “We Rock” riff kicks in to close it out.

Straight Through The Heart

I like the groove on this and the lead break from Campbell is another killer, especially towards the end of it when he harmonizes.

Invisible

A rewrite of “Straight Through The Heart”.

It wasn’t doing anything for me and then at 2.28, this Heaven and Hell like groove kicked in and Campbell is soloing over it and I’m playing air guitar to it and head banging.

Rainbow In The Dark

Sitting at 107.7 million streams on Spotify.

“Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” warmed up the fan base but it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal.

Dio is using the term rainbow as an analogy for a “light” in the dark.

Shame On The Night

The song is like “Sign of The Southern Cross”.

But it’s the ascending outro that rocks. I’m ready to take up arms and go to war.

This album unleased a new guitar hero in Vivian Campbell. But he would go on to leave the band bitterly. Only to join Whitesnake as a touring guitarist, then leave when David Coverdale told him he only wanted to write with Adrian Vandenberg, to Shadow King and then Riverdogs, before grabbing the Def Leppard gig in the 90’s.

Dio also knew how long an album should be.

“Heaven And Hell” is 39 minutes long and “Mob Rules” is 40 minutes. “Holy Diver” is at 42 minutes.

You don’t need 60 to 90 minutes’ worth of new music to be released at one time every two to three years. People don’t have spare hours. They have spare minutes. Release 30 to 40 minutes of new music on a frequent basis.

And Ronnie James Dio did exactly just that.

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Australian Method Series: Parkway Drive – Viva The Underdogs

I watched the documentary/movie on Netflix last night.

How did a self-managed band from Australia come to headline the largest metal event ever, in Wacken?

To play to 90,000 screaming metal heads.

Watch it.

The realities of touring are laid bare.

Even all the months of planning in Berlin couldn’t prepare the band for the gastro bug that got em on “opening night”.

There is a part in the movie towards the end of the first leg of their tour.

The band is coming back out for their encore. The way its meant to go, is that vocalist Winston McCall would step out, light up a Molotov cocktail and throw it at the band logo behind the drums. And that is meant to trigger flames to rise up from the bottom and burn the logo. It looks cool if it works. But on this occasion someone in the road crew dropped the ball and it didn’t work out. No flames came from the bottom. It was almost Spinal Tap’ish.

Afterwards McCall is not happy. It’s towards the end of the first leg and they haven’t had a show go smooth. He’s questioning why the crew can’t get it right this far in. There’s always a problem. If it wasn’t with the pyro or the flames or lights, it was the sound board blowing up at a gig in L.A. Also an outdoor gig in Spain was almost canned due to lightning and strong winds.

When they returned back to Australia, bass player Jie O’Connor would destroy his knee playing football, so he played “Wacken” in a wheelchair.

And for a band that is self-managed, the buck stops with them. They fund the tour, they pay the road crew and they are putting every cent they make into the tour, so they can establish themselves as an “arena” act.

Most of the management is handled by Rhythm Guitarist Luke Kilpatrick and there are days when he’s tired or fried but he’s still going.

Regardless if you like the music or not there are a lot of lessons learned here.

That if you don’t risk, you don’t gain. But you could also lose as well. The band could have been comfortable playing smaller venues but they wanted to take the next step.

They had the perfect album for it, as “Reverence” was really accessible compared to earlier albums. Tracks like “Prey” are at 45.5 million streams on Spotify and “The Void” is at 35.8 million streams are selling it but “Chronos” is my favourite.

And as the band grew so did their road crew.

Of course the best thing is seeing the guys back in Byron Bay. Guitarist Jeff Ling is walking his dog on the beach and the dog is shitting everywhere so he needs to pick it up in a doggie bag. That’s big world problems right there. Drummer Ben Gordon is catching waves and is so underrated.

And they jammed but we didn’t hear any sound that the cameras could pick up. It was all in their headphones as they all plugged in to some device.

The biggest thing the documentary shows is that the band is huge both here and overseas.

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The Record Vault: Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again

It came out in 2008.

It’s not on Spotify but YouTube has various videos of the album and it is the last Dokken album I purchased.

By the time “Broken Bones” came out, I was a streamer. But I’ve always had that album, along with “Return To The East” and “The Lost Tapes” in my “saved for later” shopping cart, waiting until the price is right.

This album is also the last to feature bassist Barry Sparks and drummer Mick Brown.

Like previous records, Don Dokken had to organize various labels for a worldwide release.
Rhino for the North America market, Frontiers for Europe and King for Japan.

Production is handled by Don Dokken and Tim David-Kelly.

Standing On The Outside

A riff from “It’s Not Love” kicks off the album and I’m tapping my foot along with it.

The verses are better than the Chorus.

And the lead break from Levin is excellent.

Give Me A Reason

It starts off with clean tone arpeggios that remind me of “Walk Away”. But that was hiding the rocker to come.

Musically the song is excellent, while the melodies are stuck in the lower bass/baritone range and sound a bit monotonous.

Heart To Stone

A feel from “Into The Fire” kicks it off before it moves into a “Stop Fighting Love” vibe. It’s basically Dokken sounding like Dokken.

Jon Levin doesn’t get the respect he deserves He’s the longest serving guitarist in the band and he’s become a great co-writer with Don. Plus he respects the past.

How I Miss Your Smile

A simple repeating two chord arpeggio Intro kicks off the song and Don’s heartbreak lyrics take over.

It’s a run of the mill power ballad, but the lead break from Levin makes it worthy. He’s emotive and bluesy.

Oasis

A classic metal riff kicks off the song, straight from the grooves of the “Tooth And Nail” album.

The guitar solo reminds me of “Alone Again” and I like it.

But it suffers from a lack of dynamics vocally.

Point Of No Return

My favorite track.

The Intro reminds me of “Seven Nation Army” but once the song picks up it’s got a “Paris Is Burning” vibe.

Mick Brown and Barry Sparks lay down an energetic tempo.

Jon Levin has done a great job continuing the Dokken guitar brand in the 2000’s and he continues to shine on this track, showing his Lynch and Schenker/Jab influences.

Don Dokken is gravelly in his vocals and I like it as it works for this song.

The Chorus is anthemic and check out the lead break. It’s guitar hero worthy.

I Remember

Another ballad which could have come from Klaus Meine.

Judgement Day

Another favourite.

Levin is inspired by old Dokken.

It feels like “Cry Of The Gypsy” merged with “Lost Behind A Wall” and I like it.

And Don’s lower range singing works perfectly on this while Levin shines all over this track.

It Means

This is good and I like it when artists merge their old way with new influences from modern rock artists.

Release Me

Musically it’s modern rock, like a bit of Tool and a bit of Chevelle.

But it’s the lead break from Levin that captures my attention.

This Fire

An energetic rocker and the riffs are excellent.

Sunset Superstar

The bonus track on the Japanese edition. A speed metal cut like “Tooth And Nail”. It should have been on the album and Don’s gravelly vocals work.

If you like the 80s version of Dokken, you will like this. It’s the best album of the Jon Levin era.

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

The Record Vault: Dokken – Erase The Slate

Released in 1999.

The saboteur known as George Lynch was out, clearly because he was smoking something very different musically, because if you hear his attempt at a Lynch Mob record in the same year, called “Smoke This” it was clear he was not thinking clearly.

And sadly, it is the only Dokken studio album to feature Reb Beach, Lynch’s replacement and the last one to feature long time bassist Jeff Pilson. In other words, Dictator Don was taking control of the empire that carries his surname. Pilson even took Don to court over it.

In the same way that “Shadowlife” had all songs written by the band members, “Erase The Slate” has the same listing. Production is also carried out by the band members.

For Dokken to release this album in the major markets, they needed to have three labels in place. CMC International did the North American market, SPV/Steamhammer did the European market and Mercury did the Japanese market.

Compare that to today,

Record it and release it to streaming services within a week. There are no gatekeepers.

“Erase the Slate”

It’s fast, on par with “Tooth And Nail” and “Kiss Of Death” for great album openers.

Make sure you check out the lead break from Reb Beach.

“Change the World”

Another head banging riff to start the song.

The verses sound like “Empire” from Queensryche, as the bass and drums groove, while a clean tone guitar plays arpeggios, before it cranks in with a distorted riff. Think “Jet City Woman”.

“Maddest Hatter”

Stupid lyrics from Don, but then again, he’s never been known as a great lyricist. Musically, the song is excellent, full of great riffs and leads.

“Drown”

The doom and gloom does remind me of Alice In Chains musically, but the vocal melodies are straight from the 80’s hard rock scene.

“Shattered”

A great song. The riffs, the vocal melodies and the powerhouse drumming all connect. At first it reminded me of Lynch Mob, then Winger, then EVH, then Metallica. There is a lot happening.

“One”

A bad idea to cover Harry Nilsson. Then again, they had no management and had total control of their independence, so no one was there to question things.

“Who Believes”

Oasis brought back The Beatles in a big way and suddenly bands in the 90’s incorporated the Oasis/Beatles feel.

Make sure you check the solo out.

“Voice of the Soul”

The riff is excellent. Credit to Mr Pilson for it. And the chorus is addictive. Overall, the song reminds me of “Streets” and “Gutter Ballet” Savatage.

“Crazy Mary Goes Round”

These kind of lyrics in 1999 did nothing for me. Regardless Mick Brown takes the lead vocals here. Musically, it sounds like a Van Halen cut in the intro, with a late 60’s blues/rockabilly feel in the verses. If John Kalodner was in charge of the track list, this song wouldn’t make it.

“Haunted Lullaby”

Reb Beach plagiarises his Winger days and “It’s Not Love” for the riffs and I like it.

And Wild Mick Brown brings the power on this one.

Make sure you check out the head banging riff before the solo and then the solo itself. Afterwards hail at the altar of Mr Beach.

“In Your Honor”

An acoustic track, a ballad which follows that Oasis/The Beatles vibe.

The Japanese version has two bonus tracks in “Upon Your Lips” and “Sign of the Times”.

“Upon Your Lips”

It has this “Lights Out” from UFO feel. Make sure you check out the lead break.

“Sign Of The Times”

It’s like a ballad and it should not have been left off the main album. “In Your Honor” and “Who Believes” are very similar and one should have made way for this.

Dokken’s tour in support of the album was recorded and released in 2000 as “Live From The Sun”. I don’t have this album, but will review it as Beach does play a few Lynch tunes on it.

The next studio album “Long Way Home”, released in 2002, featured former Europe guitarist John Norum.

And here are some final words from Jeff Pilson.

“If there’s one record for me with DOKKEN, it would be the ‘Tooth And Nail’ [1984] record, just because we were still very hungry.

We did a record in 1999 called ‘Erase The Slate’ that I was actually very, very proud of, with Reb Beach on guitar. A fabulous record.

Then there was a DIO record that I did called ‘Strange Highways’ [1993] that I still think was just a hugely underrated record, because when it came out, people were expecting a more traditional DIO record, and I think over time, people have come to appreciate it more.”
Jeff Pilson

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The Record Vault: Dokken – One Live Night

What do you do when you want to do an “unplugged” album but MTV doesn’t care for you?

In Dokken’s case, it’s simple.

Do a few unplugged shows, record em and release it. Now this CD was originally released for the Japanese market. It was successful there and it got an international release in 1995.

My CD version is a double and it was released in 1999 in Australia with the album “Shadowlife” attached to it.

But this review will be solely for the “One Live Night” album. “Shadowlife” is up next.

In the CD booklet, you open it up and see the cover to the Shadowlife album and lyrics to the live Album. It’s bizarre to say the least and I already had the “Shadowlife” album purchased separately.

Now it’s not all unplugged as Lynch does plug in for his solos.

Into the Fire

No one in the audience had any idea that the opening song was “Into The Fire” based on the opening strummed chords.

But when the arpeggios started, it was recognizable and the audience was on board.

I wasn’t sold on the plugged in lead break. I wanted Lynch to recreate a lead suitable for an unplugged setting.

“Who would have thought?”, said Don Dokken at the end of the song.

Yes, who would have thought.

Unchain The Night

Great song all round.

The Intro is excellent and I like the sinister acoustic verse riff.

But…

The electric leads over the verse riff detract instead of enhancing.

How powerful does the Chorus sound in this setting?

And the outro.

They are strumming Em to D to C and back to D and the vocal melody is hooky. The electric guitar comes in for the outro lead and it works. It’s restrained, but I still would have preferred an acoustic lead.

The Maze

Don introduces this song as one that Mr John Kalodner selected. For those that don’t know, Kalodner knew how to spot a hit.

But the 90s era was a different beast to the 80s era and a hit was harder to find especially when every promotion avenue ignored bands like Dokken.

Nothing Left To Say

Like the album version and Lynch delivers an acoustic lead like the album.

Perfect.

From The Beginning

The ELP cover works well here.

Tooth And Nail

They’ve rearranged it into a blues rock tune, almost Bad Company like with Wild Mick Brown on vocals who sounds like Jon Oliva from Savatage.

And it works.

But… why the lyric lead. An acoustic lead would have served this rendition well.

Just Got Lucky

You get to hear how poppy the Chorus vocal melody is in this setting.

I Will Remember

An instrumental from Lynch’s solo album “Sacred Groove”. It’s like a ballad with a lot of melodies and some super fast shred. A nice intermission.

Alone Again

How do you get the wall of electric sounds to sound so serene and haunting without losing the essence of the song?

They got it right on this one.

I like how the piano is the dominant instrument this time around. When you go unplugged, you need to be creative.

In My Dreams

This song works in any setting. The melodies are that anthemic it doesn’t matter if there distortion or acoustics.

Nowhere Man

I would have preferred a few Dokken cuts but everyone was trying to see if they could have a hit like Tesla and “Signs”.

It’s Not Love

It’s got that blues rock 70s vibe in the Intro. And the crowd has no idea the song title.

Then someone (I think its Mick Brown) yells 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the riff starts.

A perfect closer.

And no songs from “Back For The Attack” are on it. I guess they have their reasons.

This is the sound of Dokken fighting tooth and nail to stay alive in a hostile market place.

Crank it.

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