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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Awake

Produced and Engineered by Duane Baron and John Purdell who were still riding the wave of success from the “No More Tears” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Dave Prater who produced “Images And Words” was not considered due to the difficult working relationship between the band and producer.

“Awake” is the third studio album but the first album for the band, written knowing that there was an audience for their music. Artists would like us to believe that they write music to please themselves but they are lying. Once an artist experiences public acceptance of their music, their minds want to experience more of it. That in itself leads to a different kind of pressure. And the guys in the band were still young, so they didn’t know how to deal with this pressure and the pressure from the label.

Released on October 4, 1994, the album came out at the peak of the Seattle movement. The heaviness was evident and the label wanted it, but the label also wanted a song like “Pull Me Under” even more, a combination of that Iron Maiden meets Metallica sound. But that song never came.

But with this album, Dream Theater unknowingly went from a progressive rock band with roots in hard rock, to a progressive rock band, with roots in groove metal, paving the way for a fertile new genre known as progressive metal. But the critics were mixed on it and even the fans were split. But the years that have passed have been kind to the album, and now it is seen very differently.

The writing sessions began in February, after a small 4 week break after the “Images And Words” tour. Each song had weird working titles like “Kittens On Crack”, “Blowfish”, “Beach House Reality” and “Squid”. A lot of music was written and when this happens, a band leader would need to decide as to what is kept and what is discarded. Dream Theater had no band leader. So the creative disagreements started.

Once the demos were completed, the tracks were given to their A&R Rep, Derek Oliver to listen to. While the songs were good, Oliver didn’t see a marketability to them, however he still gave the go ahead to record the album, as his boss Sylvia Rhone wanted the album done so she could show orders for the album.

It’s also the last album to feature original keyboardist Kevin Moore, who announced his decision to leave the band during the mixing process of the album.

Larry Freemantle, who had designed the cover of “Images and Words”, provided the artwork for “Awake”. As with “Images and Words”, the band instructed Freemantle to include several lyrical references in the cover, such as a clock showing the time 6:00, a mirror and a spider in the middle of a web.

“It’s 6 o clock on a Christmas morning”.

I’m not sure what I expected from Dream Theater for the follow up to “Images And Words”. But voiceovers saying it’s six o’clock on a Christmas morning was probably not it.

6.00

A Mike Portnoy drum groove kicks it off, rooted more in freeform jazz fusion.

And there is a Rush like groove that reminds me of “Natural Science”.

The lyrics are written by Kevin Moore about routine, duty and commitments in a person’s life, like cutting wood to keep a family warm and working to put food on the table. It’s so far removed from Rat Tailed Jimmy in “Dr Feelgood” or Metallica’s evil Sandman.

Caught In A Web

The 7 string guitar with the Low B string is in action here.

Truth be told, I saw the 7 string as a fad. I never saw a reason why a guitarist would need one. If you wanted a low B, increase the gauge on your strings and tune the E string down to B.

While someone like Iommi tuned down to C# out of necessity to make the strings easier to bend due to cutting off the tips of his fingers in a work accident, I still didn’t get why artists needed to go lower.

Because it sounds muddled when you play fast riffs, but press play to hear the killer lead.

Would you expect anything else from Petrucci?

Innocence Faded

Petrucci wrote the lyrics of “Innocence Faded” with Wikipedia telling me “it was inspired by his deteriorating friendship with Moore”.

When Dream Theater do major melodic rock, they do it well.

Press play to hear the outro.

Petrucci comes in with an outro riff with triads over an E pedal point. And if that wasn’t good enough, he starts to solo over it in a Steve Morse and Paul Gilbert manner.

Next up we have the “A Mind Beside Itself” Trilogy featuring the three separate songs, “Erotomania”, “Voices”, and “The Silent Man”.

Erotomania

An instrumental.

A large section of this song was written for the song “Pull Me Under” however it was removed from the song before they went into the studio to record it. And those sections which were removed ended up in this song.

Voices

The intro. Press play to hear it.

Silent Man

An acoustic song during the unplugged craze. It deserved more attention.

The Mirror

Its heavy courtesy of the 7 string and its ready to challenge all the groove metallers. Here the 7 string works because the riffs are slower.

There is a section in this song, when they play the main piano riff from “Space Dye Vest”. Brilliant.

Portnoy wrote the lyrics to “The Mirror”, describing his battle with alcoholism. He would return to the subject on later Dream Theater albums with the group’s so-called “Twelve-step Suite.”

Lie

It was the leadoff single. Not sure if this should have been the song as lyrically its poor. “The Mirror” was a better choice.

But the lead is killer.

And it ends the same way “The Mirror” started as the two songs are connected. But this time around the heavy groove sets the foundation for Petrucci to solo over.

Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

It began as a poem and two chords brought to the band by Myung. They worked on it, hated it and the next day they liked it.

This is DT being like U2 and Marillion. Myung sets the foundation with his bass riff and Petrucci brings out his Marillion and The Edge influences with digital delay melodic riffs, while Kevin Moore lays a keyboard riff which is sad but hopeful.

Scarred

The blues jazz fusion intro hooks me. For an 11 minute song there are so m at good sections.

Like the Metal verses and the solo and the outro.

Space Dye Vest

Kevin Moore is listed as the sole writer here, much to the protest of Mike Portnoy who in hindsight wanted to leave this track of it.

But it was one of my favorites because it had a soundtrack like quality to it. I could feel the sadness in the music. And James LaBrie is like Peter Gabriel in his vocal delivery.

It’s a style that I liked from em.

To tour they had to find a keyboard player.

Jens Johansson from Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo band was the first to be approached. While the label and management were keen on Johansson, the band wasn’t.

Jordan Rudess was the second and the band were blown away by him at the audition. Jordan agreed to play a small gig with them (which went terribly) and then rejected the offer to join them at that point in time. He had a gig with the Dixie Dregs, a full time job with Kurzweil and a very young family. He chose to be around his family during this period.

Enter the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher (as described by Gene Simmons), the one known as Derek Sherinian. By this point of time, Sherinian had worked with Lita Ford, Alice Cooper and Kiss.

John Petrucci and Al Pitrellil are both from Long Island and they used to teach at the same guitar store. Pitrelli put a call to Petrucci and basically said to him, “you got to hire this keyboard player”. And Sherinian was hired on a temporary basis to begin with.

In relation to the album, the label considered the album a commercial failure, which would lead to the band being pressured to write more radio-friendly songs on their next studio album. For Dream Theater, the label situation was never easy. Their Atco seven album deal was moved to East West Records, a division of Atlantic Records and then to Elektra.

This would lead to more problems. But that’s for another post.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 2 to May 8

2018 (4 Years Ago)

MUSICAL CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN DAVID COVERDALE AND JOHN SYKES

Sykes first official band was an outfit called “Streetfighter”. They played mainly cover songs and an original song called “She’s No Angel” appeared on a compilation album called “New Electric Warrior”. There was also an EP released which can be found on YouTube with Sykes playing guitar and doing vocals.

In 1980, Sykes saw an ad for a lead guitar position. He auditioned and ended up joining Tygers Of Pan Tang for two albums, “Spellbound” and “Crazy Nights”. Although good albums, they didn’t sell like the record label wanted them to sell.

Meanwhile, Sykes was getting some recognition and was even asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne’s band.

In the book “Thin Lizzy” by Alan Byrne, its mentioned how Sykes was brought into Thin Lizzy on the suggestion of producer Chris Tsangarides who had worked with Sykes in Tygers Of Pan Tang, and also secured a deal for Sykes with MCA to release a song that Sykes had written.

“Thunder and Lightning” started to re-establish Thin Lizzy in the 80’s as they album had a metal heavy rock edge. At the same time, David Coverdale tried to hire Adrian Vandenberg and Mama’s Boys Pat McManus on guitar however they both rejected the offer. John Sykes was then offered a million dollars advance payment to join Whitesnake.

Mel Galley eventually left the band during the tour and Sykes went on to handle the guitar parts himself. Jon Lord also left to reunite with Deep Purple, thus making Whitesnake a four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell.

Money plays a part in every band and Whitesnake was no different. Cozy Powell didn’t like what he was offered to continue with the band and left. Aynsley Dunbar got his chance and ended up being the drummer for Whitesnake’s most successful album.

The 1987 Whitesnake sessions had delays, illnesses and personality issues. Murray didn’t know if he was in the band or out of the band, however he kept on turning up to the studio and completing his bass parts. Coverdale told them all to explore other projects if they got a chance as the money from Geffen was running out and Coverdale couldn’t keep them on the payroll.

The 87 album was rumoured to have cost $3M dollars to write and record. This financial pressure destroyed the song writing partnership known as Coverdale/Sykes. It could have been one of the best song writing partnerships in hard rock music for many years after, but we’ll never know. David Coverdale called the writing process a “musical conversation” between Sykes and himself. And we got to hear the results of the musical conversation.

FREE WILL

Remember in “The Social Network”, the final scene, Zuckerberg is alone in his house, surrounded by darkness except from the light coming from his computer and he is still sending friend requests to his ex-girlfriend who told him she doesn’t want to see him or hear from him again because he is a sociopath. It sure seems a very social way to communicate with someone.

But he was a misfit in his circle and a lot of people identify with misfits. It’s a big reason why rock music became a commercial force. Today, those metal and rock T-shirts are available everywhere as designer clothing, but once upon a time, they were patches earned from a lifestyle lived. Because it was all about the music. Divided we lived, but united we stood.

Then we grew up, started to earn money, started to borrow money and suddenly we became part of the rat race. And no one forced us to enter the rat race. We tried to climb a greasy pole, believing if we worked hard enough, we would get to the top.

We might live in a country that is a democracy, however as long as you are living to please others and to build other people’s dreams then you are not free. Without realising it, your whole life is tied to a job.

Everyone has a story and the less you have in possessions and dollars, the more you have struggled, the better the story is. So the story of this generation should be about standing up against injustice. When pushed to the wall, how do you react?

Life is a process, with ups and downs. We fall in and out of love. We make money, lose money. We have children, watch them grow up and then we are alone. And somehow through it all we survive almost anything thrown at us and come out of it for the better. As long as we made a choice.

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that’s clear-
I will choose free will

Free Will by Rush

So many people have grown up in countries where free speech is respected. But today, people are scared to speak freely, scared to be attacked by the bots, the trolls, the politically correct hipsters, the angry left, the angry right and whatever else the internet social media predators can throw at you.

Maybe it’s time to say we’re not gonna take it anymore.

THE LABELS

There was a saying that if you followed enough of the rules, you would get a recording contact, millions of dollars and the red carpet. Perhaps one in a 1,000,000 acts pull this off. Actually you have a higher probability of being hit by a comet than making a lot of money in music.

So, the record labels wanted to maintain the sales model but they got dragged kicking and screaming to downloads. Credit Apple for pushing it and credit Warner Music for being the first major to sign. Suddenly their revenues went up. But they still complained. They screamed to their friends in politics for laws to be passed. Then streaming came out and they got dragged kicking and screaming to streaming. They even got a percentage of the streaming company and surprise, surprise, the revenues went up again.

Times are changing. Nothing will look the same in relation to labels and streaming companies in the next ten years.

As for the labels, they are not going away. Morphing more into marketing companies, who could help with your world domination ideals, but do you need them.

But for over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning. It’s ridiculous. An artist signs a deal, pays off all the costs associated with the album and somehow, the label still owns the copyright. The battle for artists to regain their rights is happening.

According to Nielsen Music, almost 70% of the monies received by the labels is because of older catalogue items. So giving back the artist their copyrights as dictated by law is bad business for the labels. As the article states, around 20 artists have reclaimed their rights from the thousands who are entitled to.

And the labels pull out all the tricks, like telling the artist they will pay them a higher royalty rate (which is useless if the label does nothing to re-promote the tunes) or paying the artist a large advance to hold on to profitable masters.

Then came hedge funds and investment houses, purchasing older catalogues for a lot of money.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

CRISS OLIVA

It seems that the ones who passed away before the internet age are more or less forgotten by the masses unless they were part of a superstar act or where the superstar act themselves.

Criss Oliva who tragically passed away on October 17, 1993 when a drunk driver crossed the road and hit Criss Oliva and his wife head on in a motor vehicle accident.

The “Gutter Ballet” LP was my first introduction to Savatage. Without knowing how the band sounded, the excellent album cover by Gary Smith was the decisive factor.

This album was a true turning point for the band.

It didn’t sell in the millions, but a classic album it is none the less. As a by-product it also became a leader for a new genre that incorporated power metal with orchestral/symphonic flourishes.

“Of Rage And War” kicks off proceedings with helicopters and other sounds from the various war machines. The whole intro reminds me of Megadeth. The song is about transforming powerlessness into anger.

“Gutter Ballet” is the epic six-minute anthem. It starts off with that melancholic piano intro in the key of D minor and then when the guitars come in along with the head stomping drums, the song transitions into a unique groove of “hard rock” clashing with “classical” and “classical” clashing with “symphonic” elements. It leaves an everlasting memory.

In the end it is the guitar the drives the song along. Check out the whole section before the lead break, then the lead break itself and then the syncopated parts coming out of the lead break. It’s perfect and the legato phrasing is liquid like melodic.

The title “Gutter Ballet” actually came from a play that producer Paul O’Neill had written in the early seventies, which of course went on to become the basis for the “Streets” concept album that followed “Gutter Ballet”.

“Temptation Revelation” follows and it is an instrumental. At one stage it was the original title for the LP. The guitar work from Criss Oliva again makes it. It has this Euro-Vibe style of guitar playing.

“When The Crowds Are Gone” is one of the best ballads, ever. Jon’s melancholic voice carries the song as it is filled with genuine emotion.

“Silk And Steel” is another instrumental and it reminds me of “Air” from Jason Becker. Another guitarist that in this case was tragically struck down with a terminal illness. “Silk And Steel” is a highlight as it features Criss Oliva’s at his “Segovia” best. A virtuosic, lively and carefree performance.

Side one ended and I needed to replay it before I moved onto side two. That is how music should be. Replayable over and over again.

“She’s In Love” kicks off side 2. The only song with weak lyrics, however it is important to note its place in the Savatage canon and an ode to the Accept style of Hard Rock/Metal that Savatage also dabbled in.

“Hounds” was an inspiration to me as a guitarist. I used the songs structure as a template for songs that I would write back then. I loved it’s epic feel and under it all there is this doomy technical atmosphere.

“The Unholy” could be from any classic metal album. The whole intro at first reminds me of “Lucretia” from Megadeth.

“Mentally Yours” sounds like an Alice Cooper song. Even the lyrical themes are very shock-rock Cooperish.

“Summer’s Rain” is another great ballad.

Criss Oliva is one of the most emotive and eclectic metal guitarists. The album is littered with so many different guitar techniques.

All in all, if metal is your taste then you need to hear this album. If you are a genre hopping musical fan, then this album is a must for the metal genre.

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS BAND HARMONY?

Who remembers watching interviews or reading interviews from their favourite bands about how much the band members loved each other, how they are brothers and so forth.

The cold hard truth is this. Bands/artists want to show a solidarity, a unity. They don’t want people and fans of the band to see weaknesses, so they try their best to make it look like everything appears fine on the surface.

However underneath it is a different story.

Every biography I have read, from “The Dirt” about Motley Crue, to “Enter Night” about Metallica, to “Lifting Shadows” about Dream Theater, to “Face The Music” about Kiss or to Dave Mustaine’s bio about his career. The same theme is prevalent throughout. The band members didn’t like each other.

No one really speaks their mind as it would cause problems in the band. And when dollars are at stake, management is doing their best to suppress what people think.

Song writing is the main reason. When you see artists leaving an act due to musical differences, its because they wanted to have their songs included on an album, however the other members kept on rejecting the songs or changing the song loses it’s soul.

Look at a few bands that are doing the circuit today and they have their own issues with members.

Volbeat – holding on to lead guitarists is problematic.

Five Finger Death Punch – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic. And recently they changed drummers.

In This Moment – holding on to bass players, guitar players and drummers is proving problematic.

Shinedown – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic.

Dream Theater – vocalist change after one album, three different keyboardists and a drummer change.

Trivium – changing drummers on a regular basis, however over the last few years it looks they have settled on that issue.

Evergrey – only Tom Englund is the original member.

Machine Head – only Robb Flynn is the original member.

WE ARE ARE ALL COPYISTS

The way we improve as humans is by finding a better way of doing things. In other words we copy what we see and we improve upon it. We do that from the day we are born.

The whole English rock movement in the sixties was born from copying the blues and folk movements and improving on them.

Keith Richards even went on to say that you can’t copyright the blues as all of the blues standards were copied over and over again so that thousands of derivative works existed.

Deep Purple built a career on taking certain sections from jazz standards that Jon Lord knew and turning them into rock songs.

Led Zeppelin built a career on taking certain sections from obscure folk songs, unsigned aritsts they toured with, blues standards and blending them into definitive masterpieces.

Black Sabbath had their roots in blues, classical and jazz. They borrowed from those genres. Listen to Bill Ward’s drumming on the early records. It’s almost got a swing, jazz feel to it.

Metallica initially built a career on taking certain sections from obscure New Wave Of British Metal acts and turning them into thrash metal masterpieces. For the self-titled BLACK album, the lead off track “Enter Sandman” has an intro that is copied and improved on from a local Californian band.

It is human nature that we are always looking at ways to improve. And copying something that came before, and then adding incremental improvements to it is how we do it.

One thing I do know is that copying is a key ingredient in the process of creating new works and it is a shame that the corporations that owe the majority of the copyrights are destroying this culture so that they can protect their bottom lines.

LIFERS

Look at any artist or band you like and you will notice one important element. They are lifers in the music business.

Dee Snider went through a long and drawn-out bankruptcy after Twisted Sister imploded. This is his big low from the platinum highs of “Stay Hungry” three years earlier. After bankruptcy he was free to make a new record and re-negotiate publishing deals.

The next high came when he signed a high pay deal with Elektra Records for the project that would become “Desperado”.

The next low started when Dee got that call that Elektra Records had dropped “Desperado” and shelved the album. That kicked off a process of more lows. Elektra didn’t just drop Desperado, they also prevented Dee from recording for any other label. Basically a record label that claims they are here to protect artists was destroying the career and personal finances of an artist.

Dee Snider just kept on going, trying to get the rights to his songs returned to him. He kept on going trying to get the right to license the Desperado record to another label for a fair price. In the end, the only thing that Elektra Records would accept was full reimbursement of the money they’d laid out for the deal—$500,000 or $50,000 per song.

But, but, the record labels are here to protect their artists.

The truth is, the record labels are there to make money from the lifers in the music business. It’s that simple.

THE MISFITS

It is those outliers, those misfits that end up changing the world.

Metallica got traction when they first came out because they didn’t fit in. And then when the “thrash scene” started to become saturated, Metallica delivered an album that didn’t fit into that scene and sold 25+ million in the U.S alone. Suddenly, elitists of that movement labelled them as sell outs.

Same goes for Motley Crue. Love em or hate em, when all the labels were looking for Devo style post rock acts in the early Eighties, along comes Motley Crue. Merging punk attitude with classic rock they paved the way for another band with a bigger appetite for destruction.

Guns N Roses came in an era when every label wanted a band like Bon Jovi. They came in an era when every label wanted their current roster of bands to deliver an album like “Slippery When Wet”. How anti-Bon Jovi was the classic Guns N Roses line-up? And guess what, they sold millions upon millions of albums. And they did it by not fitting in.

Dream Theater got traction in the era of Grunge. Even the analysts are still scratching their heads at that one. How could a progressive rock band break through when the record labels along with the media perpetuated the myth that knowing how to play your instrument was uncool.

The thing is most of the artists that we like never really fit into any circle/genre when they came out.

FOXY SHAZAM

Foxy Shazam and “Welcome To The Church Of Rock And Roll”.

Who’s that guy singing?

That was my first impression. I was hearing Geddy Lee from Rush. I was hearing Freddie Mercury from Queen. I was hearing Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin.

“Your music sucks including us
It’s time we cleared our name”

Rock N Roll is a virus that never leaves the body. We all always return to it over and over again.

“All you suckers are a flock of sheep
I’ll be your shepherd, follow me”

Hallelujah is what I say.

And then as soon as I got into the song it was over after 2 minutes. It was like a freight train going off the rails and screaming the message for the “Church Of Rock N Roll”. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I replayed it over and over again. And the magic went through me one more time.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS!

It is that kind of album. It had me interested to find out more. When I heard it in 2012, I had no idea who was in the band, who produced it or how long the band had been together. It’s always cool to hear a fresh sounding retro album while most of the other acts chase modern rock hits that they still don’t have. The first eight tracks are special.

The album is produced by Justin Hawkins from “The Darkness” fame and you can hear the vocal influence on Eric Sean Nally.

And “Welcome To The Church of Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a classic because it hops genre’s so effortlessly and Foxy Shazam get away with doing a good job at it. It doesn’t sound like pop music but it does sound like the classics on radio. And back in 2012, it had me spreading the gospel of Foxy Shazam.

HOW DO YOU JUDGE SUCCESS?

You are an artist performing solo or within a band.

You decide to record an album.

You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.

You do some promo and release it.

Then what.

It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.

And the streams are growing slowly but not enough in the first week. But after a year or two, the streams start growing and growing and growing.

Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy/streaming era, and that hasn’t stopped the band from racking up Platinum and Gold certifications. But it took time. It wasn’t an overnight, first week sales success.

And fans consume music differently. They will buy music. They will stream music. Some will do both, buy and stream. They will download music without paying for it. They will download and pay for it. They will buy a concert ticket or a T-shirt or a book from the artist. They might miss the first few albums and then invest a lot of dollars in a limited/deluxe edition release.

WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything to get a certification. But it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.

Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell to get a certification, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.

And that’s a wrap for another week.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 24 to May 1

2018 (4 Years Ago)

THE DIY ROUTE

Vice News at the time had a great 5 minute segment on an artist who built his career off streaming.

He was offered a major record deal and turned it down. The highest offer was a $250K advance and a $300K recording budget. A lot of people would have taken the offer and become slaves to a system designed to favour the record label. But he turned them down, because the terms bothered him.

He looks at the money from a 100% pot. So when the label is offering him an 18% royalty rate, what is happening to the other 82% of monies earned?

So the artist and his manager invested $30K of their own monies to record the debut album.

They then went on a 3 month tour using streaming data to lead the way. In one month, the artist made $25K from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple music. His team mines the data from those streams to find out exactly where and when a show will sell out, spending $18 a day on ads to target those cities.

Super fans are fans of the artist who have streamed the music for 45 days in a row. For example in Philadelphia, the artist had 13,600 listeners and 3,186 super fans. They used this data to target ads in Philadelphia and sold out the venue.

STILL ON SYKES

By 2018, it was over 2 years since Sykes announced a new solo album was in the works. And 18 years since his last studio album.

The new music paradigm is to release music and to keep on releasing music. The listener decides what to listen to.

It’s a scary thought for the artist, especially legacy artists who are used to the comfort metrics of the past, like a large advanced payment.

Funny thing is, Europe and Bon Jovi had bigger recording and marketing budgets for the follow up albums “Out Of This World” and “New Jersey” and they didn’t even get close to the traction and numbers of their breakthrough albums. It doesn’t mean the albums are crap, however it shows a scorched earth marketing policy is not a guarantee of global reach. Both acts had more money thrown at them for “Prisoners In Paradise” and “Keep The Faith” and again, they failed to get the public acceptance that “The Final Countdown” and “Slippery When Wet” got.

8 Years Ago (2014)

CHILL OUT

One thing about the world of heavy metal and hard rock is that we never took ourselves too seriously. It was always a camaraderie, a culture to have “Nothin But A Good Time”.

When Zakk Wylde was playing “In This River” at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in 2014 as a tribute for the fallen rockers and a picture of Jani Lane from Warrant came up, and it stated, “Jani Lane, Motorhead, 1964-2011”, it was just one of those things we had to laugh about.

QUEENSRYCHE vs THE VOICE OF QUEENSRYCHE

It was the gift that kept on giving. Geoff Tate was known as “The Voice Of Queensryche” after the split before he became “Operation Mindcrime” or whatever else he was known as. And Queensryche hired Todd LaTorre who decided to accumulate stuff from the other guys in the band and sell it on eBay.

LIZZARD

A band from France formed in 20016, which is a mixture of alternative rock and metal music on a background of progressive and experimental grooves.

The Tool influence is very prominent but there are overtones of at least four other bands like Chevelle, Earshot, 10 Years and Karnivool.

“Out Of Reach” was released in 2012 and that was the album I was cranking in 2014. Many years later when I became a heavy Spotify user, I reconnected with the bands music and saw that they had a 2014 album called “Majestic”, an album called “Shift” released in 2018 and an album called “Eroded” released in 2021.

Check em out.

NEW MUSIC (circa 2014)

Chevelle – La Gargola

Chevelle blew my mind when they came out with their Tool infused pop stylings.

It was perfect back in 2002 and 2004. Now it is getting old. Still good, but old like AC/DC.

Sebastian Bach – Give Em Hell

Sabo and Bolan couldn’t get signed with all of the previous vocalists and then Sebastian comes on the scene and suddenly the band is hot and dangerous.

With this solo album, Bach is in top form. It is a solid album from start to finish with each song written by a who’s who list of musicians and producers.

James Durbin – Celebrate

The memories of Durbin doing “You Got Another Thing Coming” from Judas Priest on American Idol still live on. And the debut album comes out and the opening track “Higher Than Heaven” blows me away with its heaviness and popiness.

And here we are in 2014. If you want to hear James Durbin try to be like Kate Perry or One Direction then press play on this. Noteworthy tracks are “Louder Than A Loaded Gun”, “Real Love” and “Children Of The Sun”. The rest not so much.

Black Label Society – Catacombs of the Black Vatican

Zakk was just a skinny little blonde kid when he joined Ozzy and now he is a Viking marauder, ready to take over this town. I like Black Label Society for the same reason I like AC/DC. You know what you are gonna get and it is a good thing. It’s groovy hard rock and metal, with Zakk’s Ozzy meets Layne Staley style vocal phrasing.

“My Dying Day” is a full strength brewski. “Angel Of Mercy” for a ballad is also a full strength brewski with an unbelievable guitar solo. “Damn The Flood” has a Goddam wah-drenched solo section. So another brewski for that. “Empty Promises” is a double full strength brewski.

The Used – Imaginary Enemy

My first exposure to The Used was in the first “Transformers” movie and that car chase scene between Bumblebee and the Decepticon Police Car. I loved the riff, so I tracked down the soundtrack and found out that the song was called “Pretty Handsome Awkward” from a band called The Used.

But I have no idea what The Used is trying to achieve with this album. I’m hearing it and I am thinking about the latest Daughtry album which alienated the hard core fans in its quest for the One Direction and Train pop dollars.

In music, your only as good as the last song you released or the last album you put out or the last show you played.

WORK ETHICS

Music is forever.

Paul Kossoff’s career was short at 25 years of age. As a guitarist he was always looking to “have a jam”.

Randy Rhoads just wanted to play guitar, as he even took classical lessons while on tour with Ozzy and then copping a punch in the face from Ozzy when he told him that he wanted out.

Jimi Hendrix was always booking studio time and running his different bands through jam sessions over and over again.

Chuck Schuldiner was a technical death metaller who just wanted to be a guitarist in a band and he finally achieved that dream with “Voodoocult” and the progressive “Control Denied”.

They all wanted to create.

Paul Kossoff was involved in 10 studio albums and 2 live albums between 1969 to 1976. Talk about jamming up a storm.

Jimi Hendrix was prolific. Apart from the official releases (three within a year), Hendrix created a musical vault so deep, his family members are still making money from his legacy.

Dimebag Darrell had 4 independent releases and close to 10 years of experience under his belt before “Cowboys From Hell” opened the door for a bigger stage to play on.

Chuck Schuldiner was involved in 9 albums between 1987 and 1999.

It’s always been tough for new bands or artists to make it. From the sixties to now, that toughness hasn’t changed.

THE COVER SONG

My first introduction into Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine was from the Kerrang “Master of Puppets” 20 Year Anniversary album.

My initial interest to hear the album was because Machine Head was covering “Battery”. So after they blew me away with their downtuned cover, along came Trivium with their cover of the title track. Bullet For My Valentine didn’t set the world on fire with their cover of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium) however they did enough to get me interested in it.

So I started to seek out the original music of Trivium and BFMV. All because of a cover song.

“Hey Joe” didn’t do much for “The Leaves” in 1965, however it was The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first hit single in 1966. “All Along the Watchtower” these days is well-known as a Hendrix psychedelic groove rock song instead of a Dylan folk song.

As good as the VH debut album is/was, they still needed something familiar for the audience and “You Really Got Me” was the song. “Hard To Handle” was the breakthrough hit single for “The Black Crowes” in 1990 and it is a cover song from 1968, originally written by Otis Redding.

Quiet Riot went platinum in 1983, with “Cum On Feel The Noize” and it was a cover song from 1973.

“Black Magic Woman” is known as Carlos Santana’s flagship song, however it is a cover from the Peter Green version of Fleetwood Mac.

Cover songs are the doorway to the other treasures that lay in waiting for artists. Find a great tune and get cranking on a kick-ass remake/re-imagining of it. You never know how it could connect as music has a way of making peculiar connections.

RECORD LABEL GREED

The major Record Labels own the majority of copyrights and don’t they love to overvalue their content.

The RIAA has never stopped lobbying the Government to pass laws that will protect their business models. Even Irving Azoff still blames technology for diminishing the music business profits instead of blaming the real devil, which is the GREED of the POWER PLAYERS. Someone like Azoff built a career on the backs of the songs that artists created.

Very few artists ever “recouped” even after the labels made back many times what they actually gave the artists.

RATT sold 7.5 million albums in the U.S alone which meant total gross sales of $75 million. Even if the label gave them $1 million dollar advances for each album, that is $5 million the label would have spent on the band and in the process the Label made $70 million. If the financials are ever made available, it would show Ratt as a band that still hasn’t recouped.

In the end, the real copyright abusers are the actual Record Labels.

And that’s a wrap for another week.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 11 to April 23

It’s been a crazy two weeks with some limited posting on the site due to one of my boys tearing his ACL and then having the surgery.

So here is a fortnights worth of DOH history.

4 Years Ago (2018)

STAND YOUR GROUND

From birth we are taught to follow instructions, comply, obey and to avoid taking risks. The majority likes it this way, like the parental system, the schooling system, the corporate system, the law and enforcement system and overall, the Government. But sometimes, a change happens.

The youth of the world have decided they will not wait anymore for adults to solve problems, so they have taken to the streets to demonstrate against guns and climate change.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics.

“We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it” is from “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. It’s Dee’s take on society and it comes with an action. Critics blasted the song because it doesn’t define who the “it” is. But that’s the beautiful part of the song. The “It” can be anyone who seeks to control you and take away your freedom.

But to take a stand isn’t easy. Artists are too afraid to stand up for something.

But hang on a second, that’s what being an artist is all about. However the pushback is so ferocious, especially in a social media world, artists just don’t go there. Some do. Stand your ground.

RELEASE DAY

There is a lot of music out there to digest. The enemy to global stardom is not illegal downloading, it’s obscurity.

Artists are not just battling for listeners attention from the artists who have new music, they are battling for listeners attention from the history of music. And even though the odds are really stacked against artists from making a living from music, people are still out there creating and releasing. Creativity is at an all-time high.

Which is a good thing, because the recording industry and the copyright monopoly tried their best to convince everyone that creativity would die due to illegal downloading all in their push for government intervention to protect their profits.

TO THE TOP

Seriously, what kind of life is it, when a person has power to make or break a career. That’s exactly what the recording business came to be. A business with gatekeepers who could crush dreams or make dreams. Like “Chainsaw Charlie” in “The Crimson Idol”. Or like “Mr Recordman”.

White Lion were given a million dollars to record “Mane Attraction”. It came out and it didn’t set the world on fire. Vito and Mike couldn’t even get in touch with their A&R rep.

When the band broke up, no one from the label called them or even tried to make contact with them. It’s like they never existed.

MTV took the artists from the pages of the magazines and brought them into our lounge rooms. And it was free. The reason why blank VHS cassettes sold like crazy was due to music and movies. People dubbed/taped their favourite clips from TV or via VHS to VHS.

If you are working for a corporation, you are building someone else’s dream. The corporation is benefiting from your hard work and the hard work of the rest. Artists have made the record labels into monoliths because they signed away their copyrights for a record deal.

And the internet was meant to level the playing field. Instead it’s made the labels even more powerful as they use the works of artists to negotiate large licensing deals.

What kind of journey do you want to the top?

8 Years Ago (2014)

YOUTUBE

The labels and the movie studios tried to kill it via the courts, but YouTube survived. And it’s got everything.

I wanted to listen to Badlands “Voodoo Highway” album recently. It’s not on Spotify, however YouTube has it. Unlicensed.

I wanted to listen to Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” album recently. Spotify didn’t have it, but YouTube did have it. Again unlicensed.

YouTube was seen as the enemy to TV stations and to the Music Industry. Now it is their greatest ally, only if they know how to use its potential. Expect to see the various YouTube networks become bigger than the movie studios in the future. Because they realise that it’s not all about the blockbuster effect. Releasing content more frequently is king.

THE MOST BROKEN HEARTED SINGER

To create you need to have lived, loved and experienced highs and lows.

David Coverdale is all about the love. He built a career spanning 40+ years because he wrote his experiences into his songs. People always connect with that.

And at the height of his MTV fame, he disbanded Whitesnake.

Then when his contemporaries delivered grungier sounding albums, Coverdale came back and delivered two blues rock albums with “Restless Heart” and “Into The Light”.

He ignored every passing fad and fancy and still managed to assemble a cast of musicians to produce some of the most enduring hit records/songs of the Eighties era. Some might say that he glammed it up in the mid-Eighties. I say he adapted or else he would be dead.

GUN

It’s 1992 and the only words on people’s lips are Metallica, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grunge, Seattle, Vince Neil leaving/fired from Motley Crue and Mr Big.

And then you have this rock band from Scotland called GUN releasing a straight-ahead hard rock album that had roots in the Seventies era than the dying Eighties era.

“Gallus” was a defiant record. Serving as Gun’s second album, they let the music do the talking. But when Rock ‘N’ Roll history is written by the commercial winners, Gun will be relegated to a mere footnote. But their presence at a time when everyone was selling out to become mainstream darlings was a welcomed relief.

“Steal Your Fire”

It’s got this “AC/DC” meets “The Cult” attitude in the verse and chorus, while the Pre-Chorus has this INXS vibe. It’s a blend of rock’n’roll that is so distant from the LA Glam Rock scene however I love that Dokken “It’s Not Love” vibe after the solo section.

“Money To Burn”

Check out the “When The Levee Breaks” groove in this song. Progress is derivative is the catch cry.

“Long Road”

The tone of the vocals just resonate. It’s got that powerful “Jeff Martin/Tea Party” kind of tone vocally and the music is very melodic, like Def Leppard.

THE PIRACY DEBATE

Bit Torrent is a tool. How people decide to use the tool depends on them. The Bit Torrent protocol was designed to move large amounts of data. So, companies like Facebook and Twitter use Bit Torrent to send updates to its employees. Then you have other people who use it to download torrents.

And illegal downloading is a pretty big reason why bands are going to South America, even when the number of albums sold in the continent don’t equate to the fans who attend the shows.

Who would have thought that a bill of “Bring Me The Horizon” and “Of Mice & Men” would gross about $70,000 per show. Play 20 of those shows and you have a $1.5 million tour.

Or, who would have thought that a bill of “The Used”, “Taking Back Sunday”, “Tonight Alive” and “Sleepwave” would also gross about $70,000 per show. See above, do 20 shows and you have a $1.5 million tour.

Even the mighty “Manowar” still gross $60,000 per show.

It all adds up.

It’s hard work being an artist however if you are in the game because you love it, it makes it easier. If you are in the game to bitch and moan about piracy, then get out of it and join the bankers or the techies.

DIVIDED WE STAND

Metallica resorted to a professional coach to get it together again. So did Aerosmith.

Bon Jovi and Megadeth resorted to group therapy. For Bon Jovi it was a way to keep the band together after “New Jersey” and for Megadeth it was a way to keep a stable line-up together.

And other bands declined to use any coaches.

Motley Crue imploded at the peak of their powers with the firing of Vince Neil and then sued each other in the courts. Van Halen ousted David Lee Roth and they kept bad mouthing each other. Then they booted Sammy Hagar and the feud turned ugly with both sides airing their dirty laundry.

Sebastian Bach and Skid Row are still at loggerheads. Matt Kramer left Saigon Kick because he felt ripped off.

Machine Head and Adam Duce are in the courts because Adam Duce felt ripped off. Dave Lombardo is spitting venom at Slayer and their management team because he feels ripped off.

And Rock and Roll was supposed to be fun.

The ugly truth is that the biggest obstacle standing between musicians and a career in music is the simple fact that we cannot get along.

Bands that claim that their song writing is a democracy are lying. There is always one that will be the boss.

GUN continued…

GUN are way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.

Coming in to 1994, GUN needed to make a statement. After a well-received debut album in “Taking On The World”, the follow-up “Gallus” didn’t set the world on fire in relation to sales and back in 1992, sales was the barometer of success.

“Swagger” was released in 1994 and to great success.

How could that be?

Because the band didn’t fit the conventions of the now defunct hard rock and glam rock movement. The band also didn’t fit the conventions of the Seattle sound.

They fitted the conventions of a rock band. It is that simple. It is that pure. And it was a rocked up version of an R&B Funk hit from 1986 by Cameo that connected.

“Word Up”

Who would have thought that a cover of an R&B/Funk song from 1986 would prove to be so popular. When Korn covered it, they more or less copied this version.

The first 3 albums, “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger” are the career albums. No shredding or weird time signatures. Just an honest, arse kicking album with gutsy vocals and prominent guitars.

However, the line-up changes kept on coming. In this case, guitarist Rob Dickson left before the release of “Swagger” to join Bruce Dickinson’s solo band. Drummer Scott Shields also left before the release of “Swagger” with Mark Kerr brother of Jim Kerr from Simple Minds replacing Shields on drums. Music is a relationship business and GUN benefited from a lot of relationships.

ADAPT OR DIE

The ones who adapt to the changes fast, survived. While the ones that complained and whined about peer-to-peer either perished or downsized.

Traditional music distributors are either gone or downsized. Replaced by Digital distributors.

Record Store Retail Outlets. More or less gone. Replaced by online shopping carts, streaming and digital downloads.

Record Labels. Downsized or merged. Saved by the tech industry.

Bands. Either are breaking up or are constantly replacing members.

In business, cash flow is everything but in music, cash flow is a by-product of great music.

In music, rules are meant to be broken. Innovation is about breaking the rules.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GUITAR RIFF?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar.

But in 2014, the number 1 hits around the world belonged to “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we want to play air guitar to.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff like “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album.

And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

HAREM SCAREM – THE FIRST THREE ALBUMS

From Canada. Not the early Eighties Australian band with the same name. And that is all the similarities that there is between the two.

The first three albums have a powerhouse set list. I was a fan of Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy, so Harem Scarem was right up my alley.

1991 – Harem Scarem

It is a strong debut with a terrible album cover. Actually all of their albums in the nineties had bad album covers.

Coming out in 1991, it was not out-of-place. Guitarist Pete Lesperance showed what a talent he is, hence the reason why he is still creating music.

Artists needed to rock. And when Harem Scarem rocked, they rocked with the best of them.

1993 – Mood Swings

Released at a time when Grunge was taking over the world, it was the definitive album from Harem Scarem. It is by far the fan favourite.

1995 – Voice Of Reason

Two years passed and we get a heavier/experimental version of Harem Scarem.

Check out tracks like “Voice Of Reason”, “Warming A Frozen Rose” and the Euro Metal vibe of “Candle”.

If you need an introduction into the world of Harem Scarem, then the first three albums are essential listening.

RECORD STORE DAY – Killers and Kings

For “Record Store Day” in 2014, I paid $30AUS for the “Killers and Kings” single from Machine Head.

Online I could purchase the single for $15US from the Nuclear Blast store. Since the single came in four different covers, I selected the three other covers that I didn’t have and added them to my cart.

The total was now sitting at $45US. Then I registered my account and since I am in Australia I was charged $29US for postage and handling. The total of my purchase was now sitting at $74US. Once I paid it via PayPal, the final payment figure from me was $82.21 in Australian dollars.

That equates to about $27AUS for each single.

Now if the Independent Record Store was selling it for $30AUS, then that would mean that the actual independent record store would be making $3 per item. Maybe a bit more.

Hell if that is the mark up for each limited edition item they were selling and let’s just say that one record store sold 200 items, that would mean that the pure profit for the record store would be $600 for that day.

So is the “Record Store Day” there to benefit/save the independent record store or are the labels using the whole “save the record store” in their promo as a way to sell over priced items.

And that’s a wrap of DoH History.

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