A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, Unsung Heroes

Steve Vai and Ozzmosis

Steve Vai was confirmed to do an album and tour with Ozzy until Sharon Osbourne canned it. This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the matter in an interview on the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“In 1994 Ozzy got hooked up with Steve Vai. Steve came in and played guitar and co-wrote everything with Ozzy.

They were looking for bass players who sounded like me. Steve Vai said, “Ozzy, why don’t you just get Bob Daisley to come in?” So they got me in.

We started in Steve’s studio in LA and then we went to CBS studios to write and rehearse but it wasn’t really working out between Ozzy and Steve.

Instead of firing him and doing it the right way and saying, “Steve, it is not working out” Sharon came in and said, “Sony has pulled the plug on the project. There is no album to be done.”

I thought what a load of bullsit. Deen Castranova said to me, “Oh fuck” and he got all depressed. I said, “Deen, don’t worry. We will hear from them in a couple of days. This is just a ploy to get rid of Steve Vai.”

The phone call came a couple of days later and that is when they started talking to Zakk. They kept me hanging around for months as I was supposed to do the album. They changed their mind again and got Geezer Butler in to do it. I thought, “Oh fuck, thanks a lot.” I said, “Hey Sharon, how about a cancellation fee?”

I had already had five grand up front and she said, “I will give you another five grand. That is a $10,000 cancellation fee.” They never ever paid me that other five grand, those cocksuckers.”

There is no love lost there when it comes to Daisley and the Osbourne’s especially when you know the lyrics that Ozzy sings every night came from the mind and pen of Daisley.

Steve Vai’s involvement in the Ozzmosis album became limited to co-writing just one song “My Little Man”.

I read a lot of discussions around an uncredited guitar performance on that song. My general view is that Steve wrote it and Zak played it the way Zak plays. Others believed Steve played on the track.

And while the song is credited to Ozzy and Vai, I always had my doubts if Ozzy wrote the lyrics.

So if Ozzy didn’t write them, who did?

Well the lyrics came from the great Lemmy Kilmister.

Yep, Lemmy wrote the lyrics about his son Paul.

And all of these debates about intellectual property and how it’s valuable and how copyright protects the writer. It’s bullshit.

Lemmy is not even credited.

How is copyright protecting him?

Much like how Jake E. Lee and Bob Daisley got shafted for the “Bark At The Moon” album.

Copyright is a mess and the Copyright’s for Ozzy’s songs are even messier.

Over at Vai.com, there is a blog around this album. It’s mentioned how the original version of “My Little Man” had much weirder Vai-like chords than the version that was Zakkified.

And one of the commenters on the site, who seemed to be very close to Vai, responded that the song “Kill The Guy With The Ball” that appeared on “Alien Love Secrets” was conceived during the Ozzy sessions, and if you listen to the song it would give you a good idea of the direction of the material Vai was writing with Ozzy.

Maybe, Gary Cherone might be able to put lyrics to it.

And what the above tells me is how the record labels would just throw money at people for no reason whatsoever on a new album and then expect the artist to pay that money back from sales.

Vai would have been paid something. Daisley as well. Lemmy has mentioned how he made more money co-writing Ozzy tracks than what he did with Motörhead. Castronovo would have been paid. The studio for this session would have been paid. Zakk would have been paid. Geezer would have been paid.

And all of this for just one song.

What about the rest of the songs?

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

Missed Opportunities

The record labels and music news sites that benefit from reporting positive articles about the labels, talk about the billions of dollars the music industry made in the financial year just before Napster hit. So from a simple viewpoint, when Napster hit, sales of music started to decline. For the RIAA and the record labels, these two events correlate, so it implies that one is causing the other to move. But actually the sales of music have been falling for some time.

What happened during the 90’s just before Napster went worldwide was a lot of re-purchasing. This is people who had music on vinyl or cassette and they started to re-purchase the music they already owned on CD’s. These re-purchased items, in most cases re-mastered or super deluxe editions with bonus content at higher prices would skew the record label figures to make it look like new music was bringing in billions of dollars when in fact it was people purchasing old catalogue items of their favourites. And once you had those albums on CD, you didn’t really need to re-purchase them again.

Lars and Kirk from Metallica maintain that it was the right action to go after Napster. No it wasn’t. The right action was to build a business model to replace the gap in the market that Napster was servicing. That gap was basically to allow people to share their music collections (bootlegs and original recordings) in a very simple and convenient way. Napster got popular because of it, and the record labels should have created something to match it.

But the labels did nothing, and then a small company called YouTube did fill the gap that Napster was really servicing. And YouTube today, generates billions of dollars. These billions could have been in the profit and loss statements of the record labels but they messed up. Remember, we are 20 years post Napster, and Napster still gets talked about, while the record labels did absolutely nothing to counter it, except scream for legislation and gestapo like police powers.

So going back to Lars and Kirk, creating a service that allowed people to share their music was the best course of action and as YouTube proves a very profitable one at that.

The arrival of YouTube and eventually streaming services put a dent into the traditional sales model, however with the increase in people attending concerts and festivals, one needs to ask the question, did piracy assist in these increased crowds?

Iron Maiden came back with Bruce Dickinson, bigger than ever and played to sold out crowds in countries they’ve hardly sold any recorded product in. Twisted Sister and Motley Crue also came back bigger than ever post Napster and played to their biggest ever crowds until they retired. Did piracy assist in these concert attendances as well?

And what about Metallica?

Having their music illegally available on Napster basically made sure that their music was available in every place in the world that had an internet connection (it was the same deal for Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue).

In other words, their music was worldwide, which of course led to more fans having access to their music and a correlation of super large concert attendances and highly ridiculous ticket prices to capitalise on their world-wide reach. Even Metallica sold out concerts in countries without really selling any recorded discs in those countries. In some countries their music wasn’t even available legally, only illegally.

And here we are in 2018, with the record labels still trying to kill the market gap that Napster serviced. In this case, YouTube is the one in the firing line. YouTube and Spotify should just become labels themselves and start financing the production of music themselves, the same way Netflix and Amazon create their own content and also license content from others. Then the argument will be different.

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Theatre Of Copyright Business

Dave Mustaine recently posted the following on Twitter;

It’s a big week for songwriters all over the country, on Tuesday, the Senate passed the Music Modernization Act, the most important piece of legislation in a generation, making sure songwriters are paid the fair market value when their songs are played.

Steven Tyler was one of the biggest lobbyist for this Act to pass.

Nikki Sixx posted the following on Facebook about another Copyright fight in Europe that looks like it’s going to get the green light;

Fantastic news. This started with artists who had the courage to use their voice’s and standing up to an industry that wasn’t willing to change.I am very proud of all those artists and happy to see the ball rolling in the right direction.Without compensation artists can’t afford to keep making the music.We are just getting started.

There is a lot of opposing opinions to Nikki’s post from EU citizens that highlighted issues with the new EU Copyright Reform especially Article 11 and 13.

The real rock stars these days are the fans.

The artists think they make a little coin and they’ve won some victory. They are clueless to the social impact these laws create in handing even more power over to the Corporation.

The enemy is the labels. Artists should take up arms against them, instead they are taking up arms against the consumption methods of their fans.

Remember the labels want the old world, in which they had control over the distribution and before Napster they tried real hard to get perpetual copyright. Then again Nikki Sixx owns his Masters and was involved in setting up a label. So his record deal is with himself. Isn’t he making enough coin?

Both of these Acts originated from the corporations instead of the artists. The labels always win and the public domain gets nothing again. The label executives fly private while 98% of artists fly economy.

No Government should be allowed to add new rights to works created decades ago. Those works got created under the laws at that time, which suited the artist just fine however they have been changed retroactively too many times and now those works are under copyright for close to 110 years.

Copyright law is about creating an incentive for new creativity and to enrich the public. It’s a trade off. Adding new rights to old recordings doesn’t create any incentive for new creativity.

If you want to read about the US Act, read these two articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

For the EU law read the following articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

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

Look What The Copyright Dragged In

It’s sad reading the stories below, because it shows how far removed Copyright Law is from what it was intended to be.

There are copyright battles happening everywhere. Most of the news is on how the record labels and movie studios are calling on governments to pass stronger dictatorship style copyright laws which would give these organisations police like powers.

Because if being creative on the accounting side for the labels isn’t enough, they also need to have police gestapo like powers. And remember that Copyright was originally designed to help the creator of the art. However, it’s assisting the corporations to make billions of dollars while the creators make a lot less.

Remember the movie, “This Is Spinal Tap”. Well, the movie has made over $400 million in profits, however the co- creators have received $81 from merchandise sales and $98 from record sales.

If you think those amounts are pretty low, well the co-creators thought so as well, and off they went to court, for fraudulent accounting and to get the copyright back in the hands of the creators. And lucky for them they got a judge that saw their side, so the case is going to get interesting. Other cases, got judges that had backgrounds in the copyright industry, so guess how those cases turned out. A victory for the copyright corporation.

The “Spinal Tap” case is a perfect example of a large corporation using copyright to benefit the corporation instead of the creators. Unfortunately for UMG/Vivendi, the co-creators in this case, also found fame with “The Simpsons” and they have a voice in the market as powerful as the corporation.

In other copyright news, the creators of TV show “Empire” got sued by another person who claimed that “Empire” is based on his script called “Cream” which he pitched to the show runners 8 years ago. Both shows centred on a black record label executive.

Yep, that was the similarity between the two scripts and the judge basically said, an African-American, male record executive is un-protectable.

Is the creator of the “Cream” script to blame here?

No.

The blame rests solely with the movie studios and the record labels who lobbied hard to get copyright extended to these current terms (life of the creator plus 70 years). Instead of assisting the public domain and giving people an incentive to create, these organisations are intent on destroying the public domain and giving people an incentive to sue, because hey, someone stole their idea. Well think of another idea. Or take that original idea and make it better.

And speaking of long copyright terms, remember all those cases involving streaming company payments over pre-1972 recordings, because those high commercial recordings fall under various state laws in the US. Well, organisations were trying to get remastered editions of those recordings passed as new derivative originals so they could come under the current copyright laws that would only benefit the copyright holder, which as we know is usually the organisation and very rarely the creator.

Meanwhile, Disney made a doco about Michael Jackson and they used some of his music in it without asking the Jackson Estate.

The Estate didn’t like that and thought Disney should have asked for copyright permission, in the same way Disney asks other documentary makers to seek copyright permissions from Disney when they make documentaries on Disney. So Disney cited the principle of fair use, a small section in Copyright law, Disney and other large organisations tried to kill off as their actual defence.

Funny how a large corporation which tried to kill off fair use in various copyright revisions are now using it as their defence.

And the copyright dispute is still going on, but it never should have even been an issue. Both organisations are holding on to intellectual property that should be in the public domain because the creator of the said works is dead.

If the creator dies, then there are no more works from that creator, so their previous works fall out of Copyright and become part of the public domain. It’s exactly how the 60s music explosion happened.

And what about YouTube’s Content ID system taking down works that are copyright free.

Isn’t it funny (a lot of sarcasm here) as to how an algorithm created by YouTube to protect the interests of the copyright holders (mainly the large organisations) is now over protecting them, to the detriment of the public domain.

Read the Torrentfreak article to find out how much time is being wasted to “protect the interests of large corporations”. A Professor uploads copyright free music and YouTube is taking them down. Time wasted. The Professor then counter claims and YouTube then restores. Time wasted again to be back at the start again. And the way the algorithm works, it will pick up these videos again in due time.

Seriously, this is the world that Copyright controlled by Corporations has created and for YouTube to exist they needed to create something for the Corporations. And if users uploading copyright free music isn’t a problem, then allowing websites to stream rip videos from YouTube is a problem to the large copyright organisations.

I think people are forgetting that the “users” of the service are responsible for how they use the service. And if the record labels can’t get the message that the users are sending them, then they will continue to miss business opportunities to monetise these users. These users go to so much effort to find videos and use another third party software to stream rip that video. That is a lot of effort there by a user to own music in a digital form.

And YouTube is still in the firing line for not paying the copyright holders fairly. They seem to make billions in ad-revenue and pay thousands to artists.

The article states:

Artists claim that a song needs to be streamed 51.1 million times before they can make the average UK annual salary of £27,600. Revenue is based on the number of streams a video has received and funded through advertising.

It is claimed that YouTube pays creators 0.00054p per stream of music, meaning a track that is streamed one million times would earn about £540. Artists say that 85% of YouTube’s visitors come to the site for music, contributing £2.33 billion to the website’s revenue in 2017.

It’s a new world we live in. People want to get paid right away, even if they have a hundred thousand views. But be careful what you wish for.

Organisations like YouTube have given artists access to a world-wide market instantly. If you compare now to the past,  for an artist in the record label controlled era up to when Napster hit our internet lines, artists needed a record label and a lot of money behind them to have access to a world-wide market.

And this is the model the record labels want back. The gatekeeper control model. And misguided artists are pushing for it. Scary if you ask me.

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

Plagiarists or innovators? The Led Zeppelin paradox endures

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here:

(THE CONVERSATION) Fifty years ago – in September 1968 – the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin first performed together, kicking off a Scandinavian tour billed as the New Yardbirds.

The new, better name would come later that fall, while drummer John Bonham’s death in 1980 effectively ended their decade-defining reign. But to this day, the band retains the same iconic status it held back in the 1970s: It ranks as one of the best-selling music acts of all time and continues to shape the sounds of new and emerging groups young enough to be the band members’ grandchildren.

Yet, even after all this time – when every note, riff and growl of Zeppelin’s nine-album catalog has been pored over by fans, cover artists and musicologists – a dark paradox still lurks at the heart of its mystique. How can a band so slavishly derivative – and sometimes downright plagiaristic – be simultaneously considered so innovative and influential?

How, in other words, did it get to have its custard pie and eat it, too?

As a scholar who researches the subtle complexities of musical style and originality as well as the legal mechanisms that police and enforce them, such as copyright law, I find this a particularly devilish conundrum. The fact that I’m also a bassist in a band that fuses multiple styles of music makes it personal.

A pattern of ‘borrowing’

For anyone who quests after the holy grail of creative success, Led Zeppelin has achieved something mythical in stature: a place in the musical firmament, on its own terms, outside of the rules and without compromise.

When Led Zeppelin debuted its eponymous first album in 1969, there’s no question that it sounded new and exciting. My father, a baby boomer and dedicated Beatles fan, remembers his chagrin that year when his middle school math students threw over the Fab Four for Zeppelin, seemingly overnight. Even the stodgy New York Times, which decried the band’s “plastic sexual superficiality,” felt compelled, in the same article, to acknowledge its “enormously successful … electronically intense blending” of musical styles.

Yet, from the very beginning, the band was also dogged with accusations of musical pilfering, plagiarism and copyright infringement – often justifiably.

The band’s first album, “Led Zeppelin,” contained several songs that drew from earlier compositions, arrangements and recordings, sometimes with attribution and often without. It included two Willie Dixon songs, and the band credited both to the influential Chicago blues composer. But it didn’t credit Anne Bredon when it covered her song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”

The hit “Dazed and Confused,” also from that first album, was originally attributed to Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. However in 2010, songwriter Jake Holmes filed a lawsuit claiming that he’d written and recorded it in 1967. After the lawsuit was settled out of court, the song is now credited in the liner notes of re-releases as “inspired by” Holmes.

The band’s second album, “Led Zeppelin II,” picked up where the first left off. Following a series of lawsuits, the band agreed to list Dixon as a previously uncredited author on two of the tracks, including its first hit single, “Whole Lotta Love.” An additional lawsuit established that blues legend Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett was a previously uncredited author on another track called “The Lemon Song.”

Musical copyright infringement is notoriously challenging to establish in court, hence the settlements. But there’s no question the band engaged in what musicologists typically call “borrowing.” Any blues fan, for instance, would have recognized the lyrics of Dixon’s “You Need Love” – as recorded by Muddy Waters – on a first listen of “Whole Lotta Love.”

Dipping into the commons or appropriation?

Should the band be condemned for taking other people’s songs and fusing them into its own style?

Or should this actually be a point of celebration?

The answer is a matter of perspective. In Zeppelin’s defense, the band is hardly alone in the practice. The 1960s folk music revival movement, which was central to the careers of Baez, Holmes, Bredon, Dixon and Burnett, was rooted in an ethic that typically treated musical material as a “commons” – a wellspring of shared culture from which all may draw, and to which all may contribute.

Most performers in the era routinely covered “authorless” traditional and blues songs, and the movement’s shining star, Bob Dylan, used lyrical and musical pastiche as a badge of pride and display of erudition – “Look how many old songs I can cram into this new song!” – rather than as a guilty, secret crutch to hold up his own compositions.

Why shouldn’t Zeppelin be able to do the same?

On the other hand, it’s hard to ignore the racial dynamics inherent in Led Zeppelin’s borrowing. Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf were African-Americans, members of a subjugated minority who were – especially back then – excluded from reaping their fair share of the enormous profits they generated for music labels, publishers and other artists.

Like their English countrymen Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones, Zeppelin’s attitude toward black culture seems eerily reminiscent of Lord Elgin’s approach to the marble statues of the Parthenon and Queen Victoria’s policy on the Koh-i-Noor diamond: Take what you can and don’t ask permission; if you get caught, apologize without ceding ownership.

Led Zeppelin was also accused of lifting from white artists such as Bredon and the band Spirit, the aggrieved party in a recent lawsuit over the rights to Zeppelin’s signature song “Stairway to Heaven.” Even in these cases, the power dynamics were iffy.

Bredon and Spirit are lesser-known composers with lower profiles and shallower pockets. Neither has benefited from the glow of Zeppelin’s glory, which has only grown over the decades despite the accusations and lawsuits leveled against them.

A matter of motives

So how did the band pull it off, when so many of its contemporaries have been forgotten or diminished?

How did it find and keep the holy grail?

What makes Led Zeppelin so special?

I could speculate about its cultural status as an avatar of trans-Atlantic, post-hippie self-indulgence and “me generation” rebellion. I could wax poetic about its musical fusion of pre-Baroque and non-Western harmonies with blues rhythms and Celtic timbres. I could even accuse it, as many have over the years, of cutting a deal with the devil.

Instead, I’ll simply relate a personal anecdote from almost 20 years ago. I actually met frontman Robert Plant. I was waiting in line at a lower Manhattan bodega around 2 a.m. and suddenly realized Plant was waiting in front of me. A classic Chuck Berry song was playing on the overhead speakers. Plant turned to look at me and mused, “I wonder what he’s up to now?” We chatted about Berry for a few moments, then paid and went our separate ways.

Brief and banal though it was, I think this little interlude – more than the reams of music scholarship and journalism I’ve read and written – might hold the key to solving the paradox.

Maybe Led Zeppelin is worthy because, like Sir Galahad, the knight who finally gets the holy grail, its members’ hearts were pure.

During our brief exchange, it was clear Plant didn’t want to be adulated – he didn’t need his ego stroked by a fawning fan. Furthermore, he and his bandmates were never even in it for the money. In fact, for decades, Zeppelin refused to license its songs for television commercials. In Plant’s own words, “I only wanted to have some fun.”

Maybe the band retained its fame because it lived, loved and embodied rock and roll so absolutely and totally – to the degree that Plant would start a conversation with a total stranger in the middle of the night just to chat about one of his heroes.

This love, this purity of focus, comes out in its music, and for this, we can forgive Led Zeppelin’s many trespasses.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Powerslave

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

“Live After Death” on cassette was my first Maiden. I even high speed dubbed the album, just in case the cassette deck chewed up the original tape. “Powerslave” came a few years after because if you had “Live After Death” you didn’t really need the earlier albums.

Owning music was a risky business. The vinyl could get a scratch or it get warped from the heat, and the cassettes could get chewed up by the tape deck or if not played for long, the reels could get stuck together. And then you had to re-purchase something you already had purchased.

After the “Piece Of Mind” tour ended at the end of 1983, the band took January off and in February, they started to write new material. They booked the studio for March-April and in May, they mixed the album.

In June/July they spent rehearsing the tour set list and by August 1984 the 13 month “World Slavery” tour commenced in Poland with the album coming out in September after the tour had started.

I remember reading how the band would play in total 220 shows and transported around by 6 huge trucks in the US due to the larger venues which means a larger PA or 4 trucks for Europe and 5 tour buses for band and crew.

If there is one thing about Maiden, they knew that the live show had to work and that the show was their bread and butter. It would eventually make Bruce Dickinson consider walking out on Maiden, something he did in the 90’s after “Fear Of The Dark”.

What’s even more amazing is that the band got bigger and bigger in most markets without any singles and airplay that was afforded to bands like Def Leppard, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Ozzy and Quiet Riot. And this grassroots word of mouth fan base still sustains the band to this day.

The other thing with “Powerslave” which makes it great is that it has the power and energy of a live album and the line-up is finally stable. When you don’t have to look for new musicians to fill the void, you can focus on writing great songs as they did with “Peace Of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time”, “Seventh Son of A Seventh Son”.

Aces High

Steve Harris basically wrote a speed metal song with key changes and syncopated technical passages.

The intro from 0.00 to about 0.34 starts in the key of A minor and Kirk Hammett loved it so much he used it for “For Whom The Bells Toll”.

And how good is the section just before and after the solo. You can mouth sing it and it sounds brilliant.

Minutes to Midnight

Adrian Smith’s addition to Maiden made them a lot better and Nicko McBrian’s addition also made them more technical.

This song is written by Smith and Bruce Dickinson and the One Riff to Rule Em All is also the main riff for this song.

That slowed down solo section from 3.24 to 4.10 is perfect. It starts off with a riff, then some simple E minor pentatonic leads and then the build from Nicko into the main riff again.

Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)

It’s listed as written by Harris, so if you believe his haters, it means he copied it from someone or stole their intellectual property. I seriously can’t believe our world has come to this.

The section from 2.34 to about 3.20 is why this song is on this list. If it doesn’t lift you up and inspire you, then I am losfer words.

Flash of the Blade

The song is solely credited to Dickinson, so I’m presuming he wrote the cool open string intro riff.

The Duellists

The section from 1.50 is what I play air guitar too. It reminds me of the feel and simplicity from the debut album.

Then from 2.15 there is a stop/start section to about 2.30 which is brilliant and then a melodic lead starts to happen over the previous riff, before it evolves into a full solo section.

Back In The Village

That intro is basically a blues boogie on speed. It’s brilliant. Then the music build up to the solo section from 2.17 to 2.30 is desk breaking stuff and they revert back to it at 2.40 to 3.00. In each song, there are a little bits here and there that deserve to be fleshed out a little bit more.

Then again, the most recent album from Maiden had them fleshing out these bits for way too long and the songs could have used with some edits.

Powerslave

It’s another Dickinson cut and as a guitarist the song is full of excellent riffs and passages.

So if Dickinson wrote those riff’s, he is then the true unsung guitar hero of Iron Maiden.

The opening galloping riff which segues into the verse is a perfect example of simple, yet effective riff creating. But when the Chorus riff comes in, with Dickinson’s wonderful vocal melody, it’s cathartic.

Then from 2.35 it moves into a ballad like interlude section, which is a perfect release from the distorted guitars that came before it. And that slow lead break builds up to the faster leader break.

But the piece d’resistance is from 3.58 to 4.21. That harmony lead break is the stuff of “air guitar desk breaking” material. I guess I am a slave to the power of the melodic guitar break.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Another Harris track to close the album and what about the music. If the first 15 seconds doesn’t get your head banging, your fists pumping, then there is a problem.

It’s got everything, a pedal point galloping riff, a single note motif that makes it sound progressive and then at the end a super vocal melody kicks in.

And the way Bruce sings “sailing on and on/curse goes on and on” is the stuff of hairs raising on the back of neck.

From 4.39 it has a simple riff and drum response just before the slow section starts at the 5 minute mark. When I write songs, I always try to incorporate something similar.

From 7.33, Steve starts one of the most iconic bass lines. And the song gets its second wind.

That section from about 8.38 that starts building up from the bass interlude into the lead feels like it’s another desk breaking time moment.

That harmony lead break from about the 10.03 minute mark. It’s perfect. Any lead break which the audience can sing back to you, is a great lead break. And Maiden have a catalogue of them.

For an album which is 34 years old, it’s still so relevant today as it was back then. That is the power of music and great song writing.

Standard