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How Has It Aged: Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence

“Transcendence” is the seventeenth studio album by Devin Townsend and it is the seventh and final album in the Devin Townsend Project series. It was released on September 9, 2016, via HevyDevy Records.

Think about that for a second. 17 albums.

It got a lot of awesome write ups and I think Loudwire gave it the Number 1 spot on albums released in 2016. I only listened to two songs from it as they came up on playlists (in “Stormbending” and “Failure”) and never really went back to listen to the full album during that year. I don’t know why I didn’t check it out fully, as “Failure” was and still is a great head banging track.

I don’t know how to describe the album.

I grew up on the sounds of the 80’s. The only thing that resembles the 80’s here is the distortion guitars and some shredding guitar lines. Sometime in the early 2000’s, extreme metal bands started to add atmospheric synths to their sounds, and they slowed their tempos so they have groove. It has some of that.

Then there was a genre called Math Metal which morphed to Djent and its now known as progressive metal. Well it has a bit of that. Operatic themes are present as well.

In the end, Devin Townsend is pushing the bar on creativity and originality, using the various digital audio workstation tools and plug-ins to achieve uniqueness. The future will probably look back at this album and hold it in high regard like the symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven. Maybe he will bring about world peace like the Wyld Stallions did in Bill And Ted.

Truth

A groove metal riff (almost nu-metal like in feel) underpins the song while the synth keys give it a very Euro vibe. At the 1.30 mark it goes into this classical like section.

At 2.15 minutes, it’s like a fire ritual, with a spaced out, very heavily reverb’d “Hallelujah” chant happening over a chaotic wall of noise. It sounds ethereal, dissonant yet melodic and hypnotic. And you can’t really make out the lyrics, (which ain’t much) as they are heavily loaded with effects.

And it ends like mindfulness music.

I also didn’t know it at the time that this was an updated or reimagined version of the same song which appeared on Townsend’s solo record, “Infinity” from 1998. And suddenly the nu-metal feel makes sense.

Stormbending

Devin Townsend can play some serious guitar and the dude can sing and growl with the best of em. In other words, he is one talented mf.

This song was perfect back in 2016 and it still is now.

You need to listen to the section that kicks in 1.46. Did anyone say “guitar hero”? Well you have it with Devin Townsend. The lead break that comes after that reminds me of A Perfect Circle. Actually the whole cinematic like vibe is reminiscent of the debut APC album. Then again, we wear our influences on our sleeves.

At about 3.28, it goes into this major key like vibe. It sounds hopeful and it goes with the lyrical line of “All we’re offering is a change to be loved”. And they continue this vibe before it fades into a cacophony of noises which segue into “Failure”.

Failure

The way this song starts off. It’s so heavy yet it lifts you up.

And they continue that groove (which reminds me of Tool), adding extra guitars, synths, harmonies and what not.

All I could be is press repeat over and over again to hear it.

And while the music is perfection, Devin Townsend reminds everyone what a great rock singer he is. He’s all clean tone, using his natural baritone voice, with high falsettos and when the Chorus kicks in, it’s like a sermon, with some high deity singing to the masses.

At 2.21, a lead break starts. He’s melodic, keeping within key, then he goes all dissonant and chromatic but at 3.11 he goes modal, keeping within the key and I am hooked. Just listen to it.

If you weren’t converted to Devin Townsend by know, this song could be the key.

And at 6.82 million Spotify streams it’s virtually forgotten.

Secret Sciences

It’s got a major key strummed riff to start it off. Its pop music and yet it still sounds heavy.

And when he sings “let it go” in the Chorus, a certain Disney song comes to mind.

Higher

It reminds me of Pink Floyd and “Goodbye Blue Sky” in feel.

Then at 1.20, it goes into a quirky “Higher” chant and then a Tool like groove kicks in, but the vocals are far removed from Maynard.

At 3.25, I like the whole movement and Townsend’s “craft your life” vocal line which then segues into a progressive interlude and an extreme metal passage. Add to that some groove metal over different time changes, operatic vocals and you would think the song is done.

But it’s not.

At the 6 minute mark, it goes into this doom grind riff. It’s so heavy, it will sink ships.

And I am thinking, how did this song which started out so beautiful, descend into chaos and violence musically. That’s the best way to sum up Devin Townsend.

Stars

I have read in reviews that this is a metal ballad. To me it is a metal song. There’s nothing ballad about it. I also love the Chorus hook of “I can see you in the stars tonight, lost in love and light”

And that change at 2.15. Press play to hear it.

Transcendence

It feels like a U2 track with orchestras and a wall of guitars.

Offer Your Light

It’s metal like, with a frantic tempo and a dance like synth pattern. And I like it, especially the angelic voice of Anneke van Giersbergen.

From The Heart

An 8 minute pre-closer. It feels cinematic and grand like when the hero saves the day and the darkness gives way to light.

Transdermal Celebration

The closing track is a cover from Ween, a psychedelic rock band who released this song in 2003. It’s done in Townsend’s unique way and you wouldn’t know it was a cover.

If there is a complaint, there are times when I feel that Townsend’s vocals are buried under the walls of guitar noise and operatic sound experimentations.

Overall, the album still sounds as fresh and as crazy as it did back then. The styles and moods are so schizophrenic that it will never date or be dated to a certain movement or sound like “The Sunset Strip” or “Seattle”.

And I can’t believe I found 1000 plus words to describe it.

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Australian Method Series: The Poor – Who Cares

When Airbourne came out almost a decade later, most Australians would have said, “we have seen this movie before, and it’s called The Poor.”

But let’s go back a little bit. 

Formed in 1986 in Darwin, Northern Territory. The original line up would go through some changes before they end up with the members who would play on the recorded product.

In 1992, there was “The Poor Boys” who released the EP, “Rude, Crude & Tattooed” on Sony/Columbia Records. It was produced by The Angels’ members Rick Brewster and Bob Spencer. It got the band onto Radio and Music Television. It sounded more like “The Angels”, “Kings Of The Sun”, “Rose Tattoo” and “The Screaming Jets” than “AC/DC”. Then again, all of those bands have roots to AC/DC.

It also got them touring. 

In 1993, another EP called “Underfed” came out, which again, got them on the road. This was produced by Brent Eccles (also a member of The Angels). They followed this release by backing United States acts, “Alice in Chains” and “Suicidal Tendencies”, on the Australian leg of their combined tour. It’s always cool to have an act that rocks like AC/DC.

‘The Poor Boys:” then became “The Poor” to avoid confusion with a US group.

And then came “Who Cares” in 1994. A balls to the wall, sleazy rawk and roll album straight from the pubs and clubs of Australia. It was a middle finger salute to Seattle and Grunge and flannel shirts.

Produced by Paul Northfield, the band is made up of Skenie on lead vocals, original founder Julian Grynglas on guitar, Matt Whitby on bass and the nephew of the Young brothers James Young on drums.

They supported AC/DC on the “Ballbreaker” tour and that is when I got a chance to see them live.

Poison

If you like your AC/DC and D.A.D then you will like this and the innuendo in the Chorus hook, “come on baby, take your poison, you want it, I got it”. The only thing missing is “pulling the trigger of their love gun”.

Dirty Money

This could have come from Baby Animals and I like it. It also appeared as the opening track on their “Underfed” EP from a year before.

Man Of War

A Jimmy Page like acoustic fingerpicked intro kicks it off.

A serious attempt telling the “man of war to stop the bleeding”. I guess things haven’t changed. War is a constant in our lives.

At 1.23 the song kicks into overdrive. 

Tell Someone Who Cares

Oh, that riff in the intro, it could sink ships at its heaviness. It then drops out and lets the bass rumble when the verses kick in.

Press play to hear it. 

And the Chorus is basic, a tribute to those AC/DC Choruses. 

More Wine Waiter Please

What a title? 

Full of decadence and debauchery. The riff to introduce it is heavy and rolling. Once the drumming kicks in, it reminds me of “Deuce”.

If you like your hard sleazy rock, then press play on this. It’s a must on playlists.

Ain’t On The Chain

I know Accept liked AC/DC and on this, The Poor channel Accept’s take on AC/DC with a nod to Udo. Then again, you could say that they are channelling the Bon Scott era of AC/DC. But that is for the vocals. Musically, it has a lot of LA Sunset Strip style of rhythm playing.

This song also appeared on the “Underfed” EP from 1993.

Downtown

You can never get enough of acts showing their love for AC/DC. Think “Sin City” here.

Hair Of The Dog

I like the heaviness.

About going into a bar the other night and getting into a fight.

Liar

She’s a liar, a little two faced bitch.

Enough said, just press play.

Ride

It’s a thrash-a-roll. 

Only The Night

“Hit the road jack, ain’t gonna come back no more” comes to mind in the intro and then it goes into “Hot For Teacher”.

If you want to hear the decadent love child of AC/DC and Van Halen then press play on this.

As a bit of trivia this song goes back to the debut 4 song EP, “Rude, Crude and Tattooed” from 1992.

After the release they toured the U.S supporting, Scorpions before hitting Europe and Japan.

When they believed that the touring cycle was done for the album, they got a call in early 1996 to open for AC/DC on their Ballbreaker international tour.

And they weren’t done. They also got the Kiss support slot and in 1998 they also got the Van Halen support slot.

And we finally got some new music from then, a single called “Simple Livin'”, which was to be the first single from the follow-up to “Who Cares”. There was no identity crisis here for The Poor. While other acts tried to fit into the post Grunge, neo-industrial environment, The Poor channelled their love of Thin Lizzy and AC/DC to create “Simple Livin’” and its B-side “Love Isn’t On Again”.

But the new album never came and they disbanded in 2000 into two separate heavy rock projects called “Lump” and “Blackseed”.

Only to reform in April 2008 to play on an Australia tour with W.A.S.P.

Then a new album called “Round 1” came out in 2009 and “Round 2” in 2010 by Australian label “Riot!”.

And finally The Poor are in full swing with the soon to be released fourth album (first in thirteen years), “High Price Deed” on 2 February 2023.

The pre-release singles “Payback’s a Bitch”, “Cry Out”, “Let Me Go” and “Take the World” have impressed so far.

The band at this stage is Daniel Cox on guitar who joined in 2019, Anthony “Skenie” Skene is still on vocals and rhythm guitar, Matt Whitby is still on bass guitar and Gavin Hansen on drums, having replaced James Young in 1997.

Play it loud. 

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How Has It Aged: Van Halen – Balance

28 years ago. January 24, 1995.

The Seventh Seal

The sound of the monks immediately gets my attention.

When the whole band kicks in, the running bass line from Michael Anthony stands out, while EVH is playing power chords with the high E and B strings ringing out, Anthony is changing the root note.

Then the palm muted riff for the verse begins. It’s perfect.

How good is the section with the lyrics “under darkest skies”?

In relation to album openers, it’s one of their best since “Running With The Devil”.

Can’t Stop Loving You

It’s the Sammy Hagar vocal that rocks here over a chord progression influences by the 60’s and songs like “Stand By Me”.

EVH is also playing a-lot for the song, His free spirited approach is still there but focused.

Don’t Tell Me

When I purchased my 5150 Peavey Combo Amp, this was the first riff I played on it.

A simple riff, with some palm muting, the melodies from Hagar are perfect.

I like how EVH tweaks the chord progression for the second verse, bringing in some arpeggios.

The solo break is perfect. Just the three of em, jamming and no rhythm track. Plus we get an outro solo.

And underpinning it all is the Bonham like drumming from AVH.

Amsterdam

That section from the 3 minute mark. Wow. And I wanted that outro solo to continue until the band stopped but they faded it out.

Big Fat Money

A Bluesy tune but from the fingertips of EVH it’s like progressive blues. The energy is “Hot For Teacher” like level.

Hagar’s breathless delivery in the verses are a highlight. And AVH and Michael Anthony are solid in the rhythm foundations.

Strung Out

Yeah this track was a waste back then and still is. EVH is hitting the strings on the piano I think.

Not Enough

This one is a sleeper hit. Their take on songs like “Hey Jude”. B

Check out the solo here from EVH. His phrasing and his Bluesy bends are the highlight.

Aftershock

My favorite track here. Its shredding. I felt that they tried to rewrite it with “Humans Being”.

Regardless, press play and let your ears enjoy the Van Hagar version at their Metal best.

Especially that section from 2.48.

Then again the solo from EVH is a masterclass in different techniques.

Doin Time

Yeah, I would have left this off.

Baluchiterium

And this as well.

Take Me Back

EVH channels his love of Jimmy Page.

Feelin

An awesome deep cut. Eddie goes to town in the solo.

“Balance” is so underrated in the world of VH. It is heavy, yet it has a bit of everything.

The drama that came after the “Ambulance Tour” between Hagar, manager Ray Daniels and the Van Halen brothers shrouds the greatness of the album.

And before I forget, the production from Bruce Fairbairn is stellar.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Official Bootlegs: LIVE Series: Los Angeles, California 5/18/98

This original Ytse Jam bootleg has not been re-released as a “Lost Not Forgotten Archive” yet.

This was recorded on the “Falling Into Infinity” tour. The band was James Labrie on vocals, John Petrucci on guitars, John Myung on bass, Mike Portnoy on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards.

The mighty Bruce Dickinson guests on vocals for the songs “Perfect Strangers” from Deep Purple and the Iron Maiden songs “The Trooper”, “Where Eagles Dare” and “Killers”. And yes that is him on the cover as well, making it look like he was the frontman instead of James LaBrie.

Ray Alder from Fates Warning also guests on “Pull Me Under”.

This was recorded live at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles on May 18, 1998. There are no touch ups here folks, just a soundboard recording which was then mastered. So you get it all, warts and all.

Lines In The Sand

The opener, from the “Falling Into Infinity” album.

Live they pushed the 11 minute run time to about 14 minutes. On the studio recording the soulful voice of Doug Pinnick appears in the Chorus, however live, that job fell to Mike Portnoy.

Petrucci delivers his emotive solo as expected and LaBrie acknowledges it by telling the audience “that is John Petrucci on guitar” after the solo finishes.

Burning My Soul

This song is a groove metal behemoth. It’s also from the “Falling Into Infinity” album.

The only thing you could do is press play and bang your head to it because the “pressure keeps burning my soul.”

Take The Time

They have fun with this classic from the “Images And Words” album.

It moves between metal, rock, jazz fusion, funk rock and progressive rock.

Live they also chuck in a lot of cover solos in the outro like “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen and “Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin and the intro of “YYZ” by Rush.

Anna Lee

From the “Falling Into Infinity” album, it’s a piano ballad that does nothing for me, so it’s a skip for me here.

Speak To Me

This one was written for the “Falling Into Infinity” double album, but when the label said they only want one album, it was left off the list. I still don’t know how “Anna Lee” made it over this one.

Press play and enjoy.

It’s Dream Theater’s take on how 1980’s U2 would sound through the DT blender. And its performed brilliantly.

A Crack On The Mirror / Puppies On Acid

It’s an instrumental, combining various ideas.

It starts off with Derek Sherinian doodling on the keys, before he starts to play a riff which gets Portnoy to join and eventually the band. They play some sections from “The Mirror”, forming their own medley from the song.

I would rather have heard the song “The Mirror”.

Just Let Me Breathe

Not my favourite song from “Falling Into Infinity” so I would have preferred to hear something else.

Sequencing in live gigs is important, and apart from “Speak To Me”, the other songs like “Anna Lee”, “A Crack In The Mirror” and “Just Let Me Breathe” lose my interest.

Lie

This is DT putting the groove metal from Pantera into their blender.

Is Progressive Groove Rock a genre?

If it is, this song stands tall.

LaBrie is a bit hard to handle here vocally, but hey, if you want the studio recording, press play on the CD. I would rather take a ticket to the show instead.

Peruvian Skies

They set a standard with this song.

Every time they play it, they play parts of the songs that inspired and influenced the song, so you will hear excerpts of “Have A Cigar” by Pink Floyd and “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. Not a lot of artists would mash up Pink Floyd and Metallica but Dream Theater did and it’s called “Peruvian Skies”.

Then again, not of a lot of artists would show which song influenced them, in case they get a writ.

Press play to hear how they mash it all up.

John Petrucci Guitar Solo

I don’t like guitar solos on their own like this.

I really like how Petrucci started to incorporate his solo moment into a song, by extending the normal solo section of the song, like how he did with “Hollow Years” from “Live At Budokan”.

Pull Me Under

Ray Adler from Fates Warning guests on vocals here.

This is the song that made me a fan.

From a song writing point of view, the band takes the initial intro riff and they keep tweaking it throughout. It’s a great study in how to write different iterations of the same riff and same chordal sequence.

But they don’t do the clean tone intro here, they go straight into the riff that comes about a minute into the song.

Scarred

It’s an 11 minute prog rocker, with a lot of vocal highs. And it doesn’t help LaBrie that the song is sped up a little bit, which is a curse of performing live.

Musically some of the riffs that sounded a bit buried in the studio mix are high in the mix here and I like it.

A Change of Seasons IV: The Darkest Of Winters

A small 3 minute diversion into the mammoth “A Change Of Seasons”.

Ytse Jam

Ahh yes the instrumental that defined Majesty, the name of the band before Dream Theater.

Mike Portnoy Drum Solo

Like the John Petrucci guitar solo moment, I’m not a fan of individual drum solo’s as well. I would rather hear a song with some kick ass fills in between bars than to hear just the drums on their own.

Once the drum solo is done they go back into “Ytse Jam” for about 10 seconds before they start “New Millenium”.

New Millenium

It’s actually the opening track on the album, however it is played as the last song of the set before the encores begin.

Press play and enjoy it.

The first encore begins with Bruce Dickinson lending a hand on “Perfect Strangers”, “The Trooper”, “Where Eagles Dare” and “Killers’.

Perfect Strangers (Deep Purple cover)

How cool it would have been to get Bruce Dickinson up on stage.

You need to remember this is Bruce Dickinson in 1998. His return to Maiden and the “Brave New World” era wasn’t yet done.

It took a verse for the mixer dude to put up his microphone.

The Trooper (Iron Maiden cover)

How iconic is “you take my life and I’ll take yours too”.

Where Eagles Dare (Iron Maiden cover)

They started it and then they stopped after a few verses, as Bruce said, “fucked if I know, it’s been years since I’ve sung it”.

Killers (Iron Maiden cover)

And they go straight into this classic. I never saw it as a progressive track, but hearing it today, it’s definitely got a progressive attitude.

They did a couple of verses before they stopped it as well. And Bruce walked off with a laugh.

It’s a fun little encore section, almost jam like in its nature.

The second Encore begins they don’t play the full songs, just a medley.

Metropolis

From “Images And Words”, the song is a classic. But they don’t play the full song. So I’m not a massive fan of this medley.

Learning To Live

My favourite track from “Images And Words” but they only play sections.

Why write long songs of your just going to cherry pick certain sections of them to do a medley.

A Change Of Seasons VII: The Crimson Sunset

A fitting finale.

To get a re-release, they would need to get Bruce Dickinson’s approval to do so or they remove the songs that he sang and tried to sing.

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1976 – Part 5.6: Wings – Wings At The Speed Of Sound

Wings came into my life because of “Live And Let Die”.

I knew Paul and Linda McCartney were in the band but had no idea who else was.

A quick Wikipedia search showed that Denny Laine is on vocals, acoustic/electric/bass guitars, piano and harmonica, Jimmy McCulloch is also on vocals and acoustic/electric/bass guitars and Joe English is on vocals, drums and percussion.

Let Em In

A door bell like sound starts off the song before a simple drum groove with a locked in bass line rolls in with piano chords on each start of a new bar.

It’s soul noir in vibe.

The McCartney’s are welcoming you in to their house. Paul is on vocals here.

The Note You Never Wrote

Written by the McCartney’s with vocals from Denny Laine.

I like this.

It is typical of the era, with hints of blues, gospel and soul all wrapped up in a ballad like groove with various 70’s sound effects lightly playing in the background. Subtle and not overpowering.

She’s My Baby

It’s a skip for me. The feel good upbeat feel of the song and the title just don’t resonate.

Beware My Love

The acoustic riff in the intro. Press play to hear it.

And it goes through many musical movements. When you get the 2 minute mark it’s almost unrecognisable. But I like it. The 70’s acts all experimented with structures and different musical movements.

Both the McCartney’s share vocals here.

Wino Junko

Great title, it sounds like a Sammy Hagar owned pub.

Written and vocals by Jimmy McCulloch.

I like the acoustic guitar strummed riff. It rolls along nicely, giving space for the vocal melody to lead.

Silly Love Songs

It is one of the most listened songs from the album at 60.6 million streams. But its soul ballad rock just doesn’t connect.

Vocals are provided by the McCartney’s and Laine.

Cook Of The House

The sound of a frying pan starts it all off. Before a 12 bar blues riff kicks in and Linda McCartney starts singing.

Time To Hide

My second favourite just behind “Beware My Love”.

Written and sung by Laine.

The groove on this song connects immediately. Just listen to McCartney’s bass lines. It rules while the guitar just plays chords.

The lead break that kicks in after the harmonica solo is simple, more or less playing the chords with a single note on the higher strings. Yet it works so well. “Play for the song, not for the glory” comes to mind here.

Must Do Something About It

It’s a skip for me. Vocals are provided by drummer Joe English.

San Ferry Anne

It’s got this traditional sea pub groove happening with vocals from Paul.

But it’s a skip for me.

Warm And Beautiful

A piano riff starts it off, a mixture of “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be”. But it stays in that piano and vocal sound for the full 3 minutes and it does get a boring.

Vocals are provided by Paul.

I’ll finish this off with this Wikipedia entry from the Rolling Stone review which described it as a “Day with the McCartneys” concept album. The introduction, “Let ‘Em In” was perceived as an invitation to join the McCartneys on this fantasy day, with explanation of their philosophy (“Silly Love Songs”), a lunch break (“Cook of the House”), and a chance to get to know McCartney’s friends (Denny Laine in “The Note You Never Wrote”, Jimmy McCulloch in “Wino Junko”, etc.).

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How Has It Aged: Megadeth – Dystopia

January 23, 2016.

Seven years ago, Megadeth dropped “Dystopia”. Their 15th studio album and one of their best in the 2000 era of the band.

I reviewed the album on the site when it dropped and again a few years ago.

I keep making mention of the powerhouse drumming from Chris Adler, who at the time was still in Lamb Of God and worked as a “hired gun” on this. I still don’t believe I have done his contributions justice. His command of the kick drum is a must listen for any aspiring drummer. He locks into the riffs when he needs do, he plays simple when he needs to and he can thrash and roll when he needs to.

The cover is striking and memorable.

Being from Sydney, the Harbour Bridge is an iconic land monument which when built connected the Northern and Southern parts of Sydney, so seeing a bridge that looks very similar to it in a state of destruction and disrepair, immediately gets my attention.

Then you have those “1984” aerial devices that either “spy on you” or act as “judge, jury and executioner” for the ruling party.

And then there is “the humanoid”, holding the decapitated head of another humanoid.

The Threat Is Real

A mournful Middle Eastern voice begins the song before a fast open string riff is deployed with military precision.

And I am hooked.

Dystopia

The title track.

It brings back memories of “Hanger 18” which of course had its main riff based on a progression that Mustaine wrote for “The Call Of Ktulu”.

The whole outro section is essential listening. Especially how Chris Adler brings it to a frantic end.

Fatal Illusion

Groove, chromatics and dissonance. They are not meant to work together but they do in the fingertips of Mustaine.

At the 60 second mark, the bass from David Ellefson stands alone as he plays the main riff.

When the whole band crashes in, my ears tune in again to the drumming of Chris Adler.

In composition it reminds me of “Wake Up Dead”, riffs upon riffs and no section which could be a Chorus as every section could be one.

Death From Within

I didn’t gravitate to this song back then but I was a fool. It’s 12/8 “Children Of The Grave” rhythm hooked me in straight away today.

Bullet To The Brain

The acoustic arpeggio intro is brief. Its classical influenced but not really classical.

But the best bit is the melodic lead played over the verse riff between 0.39 and 0.56. This happens again from 1.40 to 1.53.

I also like the section I call “The Disturbed Section” between 1.12 and 1.29. This also happens again from 2.10 to 2.28.

The lead breaks on this song are “Guitar Hero” wow.

Post American World

A throwback to “Symphony To Destruction” and those accessible riffs.

Poisonous Shadows

The acoustic intro, which reminds me of a solo section from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” between the 8.50 and 9.10 mark. Since the song is a co-wrote with Kiko Loureiro, I presume he wrote this riff.

Press play to hear it and then compare the two. The keys are different, the speed is different but the way the notes move is the same.

Listen to the way Adler locks in the kick drum with the riff in the verses.

The Chorus reminds me of a similar song from the album “The World Needs A Hero”. I think it’s “Promises” which is another forgotten track from the vast catalogue that is Megadeth.

Conquer Or Die

It’s an instrumental written by Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro.

A flamenco intro from Kiko starts the song which I like.

Lying In State

My favourite song from the album and it’s up there as one of the finest Megadeth songs.

The drums from Chris Adler on this are powerful. While the riffs serve as the songs foundation and Mustaine vocals are top notch, it is the way Adler performs on the drums that elevates the song.

That whole section from 2.19 is “smash the walls” stuff. When the melodic lead break starts, I’m ready to go through the wall.

The Emperor

There’s no way you can’t like the way it starts off. It’s got this “Dread And The Fugitive Mind” kind of feel.

Foreign Policy

It’s a “Fear” cover.

For those who don’t know. FEAR, is an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1977. Since its formation, the band has gone through various line-up changes, and at one point featured Flea on bass.

This song appeared on “The Record”, the debut studio album released on May 16, 1982. Dave Grohl holds this album in high regard and he interviewed vocalist/rhythm guitarist Lee Ving for the 2013 documentary film “Sound City”.

Duff McKagan picked the song “We Destroy the Family” for his 2016 list “The 10 Best Punk Songs” and said, “Fear’s debut album “The Record” still gets played backstage before he goes on.

“Let’s Have a War” was included on the “Repo Man” soundtrack album and covered by A Perfect Circle on the album “eMOTIVe”.

Hearing this song, you can hear how thrashy the hard-core punk movement was in L.A. The song could have been written by Mustaine as it has that technicality that Megadeth is known for.

Melt The Ice Away

It’s basically a fast blues NWOBHM track.

For those who don’t know, it’s a Budgie cover. That same Budgie that wrote “Breadfan” which Metallica covered

Budgie remained quite obscure during their career, however a lot of hard rock/metal artists have cited them as an important influence and covered their songs, including Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Van Halen, Queens of the Stone Age, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. It’s an impressive list.

This song appeared on Budgie’s seventh album, released in February 1978 on A&M Records.

Overall, “Dystopia” is a masterpiece.

A lot of bands don’t get to fifteen albums and if they do, it is very rare that the album is any good.

Sort of like “Super Collider” released in 2013 was; where the best song is a cover from Thin Lizzy. Okay “Kingmaker” is one of the best opening tracks Megadeth have written.

But that was it.

Okay the title track “Super Collider” also gets a pass and although it was weird to hear Mustaine sing “Burn, Baby, Burn” and rhyming “fire” with “desire” the song “Burn” is a pretty cool hard rock track which actually reminds me of early Budgie.

But overall, critics hated it and the fans hated it even more. Something had to be done.

So Mustaine corrected the “Super Collider” hard rock experiment with the progressive speed metal album “Dystopia”. He had too and by doing so, he replenished his fan base all around the world and he grew it even more in South America with the addition of Kiko Loureiro.

Plus they won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for “Dystopia” and when they got up to get their award, “Master Of Puppets” played from Metallica. Nice one Grammy’s. Rookie mistake 101.

And the album has aged really well. It sounds as current as it did back in 2016.

Crank it.

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

The Week (Last Few Months Actually) In Destroyer Of Harmony History –November 1 to November 30

I am trying to catch up on these posts, so I can do them weekly. So here is another review of November posts from 2018 and 2014.

2018 (4 Years Ago)

I have a Google Alert set up for Copyright and everyday there are ten or more stories on Copyright issues, ranging from Ed Sheeran settling with artists over a copyright suit, artists trying to reclaim their rights back from the labels, to artists selling their rights in songs to corporations for a fee, to Led Zep asking a judge to throw away the Stairway appeal, to local restaurants playing music and asked to pay for a Copyright licence, to parents breaking the Copyright law when they film their kids dance to music and uploading without paying someone, to ISPs being asked to block or censor websites, to Google being told to remove search links to certain sites, to people being charged with piracy and to whatever else the Copyright Industry wants.

If the above doesn’t tell you who copyright benefits, then reread it again.

And The Copyright Ballad Of John Fogerty highlights all of the above and more. He had to buy back a majority stake of the songs he wrote. Think about that for a second. A CEO in an office just made multi-millions for doing sweet f.a. while the person who made him rich had to make him even richer so he could get a majority stake.

I was doing a simultaneously review of 1979 (two posts for that year) and 1984 (one post for that year in the month)

Man, 1979 had a lot of good releases. For the record, most of these albums I heard in the 80s and some in the 90’s.

Kansas released “Monolith”. It’s a fantastic album, but largely forgotten in the streaming era, as the hits from other albums do the rounds on streaming playlists. Styx released “Cornerstone” and my favourite tracks were not the hits. Instead I gravitated to “Love In The Midnight”, “Eddie”, “Borrowed Time” and “Lights”.

Van Halen followed up the debut album pretty quickly with “II” and they danced the night away to multi-platinum. But my favourite track was always “Somebody Get Me A Doctor”.

Graham Bonnet fronted Rainbow founded a whole new melodic metal movement with “Down To Earth”. Which would continue with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals.

Cheap Trick showed how a studio recorded live album can do better than an actual studio album with “At Budokan”. So did UFO with “Strangers In The Night”.

Foreigner started to play “Head Games” with us. Are they a blues rock band, a hard rock band or a pop band or somewhere in between. Meanwhile Supertramp released their best album in “Breakfast In America” and it was their sixth album.

ELO released “Discovery” but the only track worth paying attention to was “Don’t Bring Me Down”. Same deal with The Knack. While the album had a cool pop rock vibe, “My Sharona” stole the show.

The Angels released “No Exit” an album that fused punk with pub rock and blues. And Australian audiences loved it. Little River Band released “First Under The Wire” and how good is “Lonesome Loser” on it.

For 1984, the post I did was titled 1984 – III – Are We Evil Or Divine?

“The Last In Line” is my favourite Dio album period. Plus it was my first purchase of Dio’s solo career. The guitar work of Vivian Campbell was and still is very influential to me.

Kiss was continuing their evolution without the pain with “Animalize”. The opener “I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire) doesn’t get enough love and attention. But it should.

U2 released “The Unforgettable Fire” and sent the charts, music television and radio scrambling to add “Pride (In The Name Of Love) to their rotations.

Queen released “The Works” and Tina Turner gave the melodic rock movement a kick in the butt with “Private Dancer” as songs like “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “Its Only Love” could cross genres.

And the might Deep Purple reformed and made a massive statement with “Perfect Strangers”.

In some alternate universe I went and watched Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress on Friday 24 November 2017 in Sydney. But in reality I didn’t. What kind of magic was used to make me forget that the concert was on I will now. It wasn’t until a year later when I was cleaning out my laptop bag that I saw the ticket. Not one but two tickets.

Does anyone remember Compressorhead?

It is a Robot band made from recycled parts. They do a pretty mean cover of “Ace Of Spades” cover.

It’s been said that this robot “band” plays real electric and acoustic instruments but in the end, this project was just some great code writing and midi sequencing.

I was spinning George Lynch a fair bit during this period. The songs “Wicked Sensation” and “All I Want” got separate posts.

Since Ronnie James Dio’s death, a few bands popped up from ex-members that pay homage to his style of song writing.

There was “Dream Child” with Craig Goldy on guitars, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Simon Wright on drums, Wayne Findlay on keys and singer Diego Valdez. You also have other Goldy projects in “Dio Disciples” and “Resurrection Kings”.

And then there was “Last In Line” with Vinny Appice on drums, Vivian Campbell on guitar, Andrew Freeman on vocals and Phil Soussan taking over on bass after the passing of Jimmy Bain.

Of course, any retro sounding metal/rock band has Frontiers Music president, Serafino Perugino as the protagonist to get the ball rolling. Only “Dio Disciples”, who have a deal with BMG for an album of original material are not on Frontiers Music.

But the real secret sauce behind all of these Frontiers Music projects is songwriter and producer Alessandro Delvecchio. A very underrated songwriter. If you listened to “Revolution Saints”, well Delvecchio is all over those albums. If you listen to “Resurrection Kings”, he’s also involved with that. The same for “Dream Child”.

And although I liked the album, I wasn’t a fan yet, but I was interested to hear what could come next. And 5 years later, no new product has arrived.

A System That Rewards Attention

If you create a system that rewards attention, the easiest way to get attention is to be a bad actor. That underlies our media ecosystem, that underlies our political system and it’s degrading society in so many ways.

EV WILLIAMS – Creator Of Blogger, Twitter and Medium

Did anyone read the story about “Threatin”.

They are an LA band, created by Jered Threatin. He then created a record company web page that was bullshit, he created a booking agency web page that was also bullshit, he doctored live footage to make it look like he was popular on YouTube which was bullshit and he created a management company website which was of course bullshit as well. He also paid for Facebook likes and comments and YouTube views and many more wonderful things to do with scorched earth marketing.

And through it all, he convinced stupid greedy venue owners in Europe to book him. And he didn’t even have a fanbase. He even convinced these club owners the shows were sold out. If they just did some due diligence and checked out Threatin’s Spotify account, they would have seen the stream numbers don’t match the spin coming from his “management” and they could have asked some hard questions. But they didn’t, they got had and they got pissed.

If Threatin did pull it off and sell out the gigs based on the made up hype, maybe there would be a different discussion, but hey, people fail more than they succeed.

The Purchase Dilemma

Remember the time when you would go through the LP racks (afterwards it would be CD’s) and pull out the LPs you wanted to buy.

Each week I wanted to buy a lot of music but had enough money to buy two.

You can read the rest here, about how album covers, song titles, record labels and producers played a part in deciding what to buy.

And here is a bit of history on when I used to take guitar lessons.

I bugged my Dad to buy me a guitar so he got me a classical guitar with the hope I could learn to play classical songs. He paid $15 for a 30 minute lesson with a man called Niccolini, who instead taught me how to play metal and rock songs because I asked him to.

I used to tell Niccolini which songs I would want to learn, he would then go away and learn those songs and then at the next lesson he would show me. While learning songs from other artists was cool, I also took the lessons, to get the techniques right. I’m big on foundations. If the foundations are not right, everything else that comes after is not right either.

And I would fool my Dad by playing metal and hard rock songs in a classical way. Like anything from Randy Rhoads or Yngwie Malmsteen.

And my record collection was a source of pride. I played them through and through. They are part of my DNA. I used to have the collection under lock and key, in an alarmed room because once upon a time, if someone broke in, they would steal part of the collection. I couldn’t have that happen.

Today, they’ll walk straight past it and go for the tech.

Music is part of my life. It will always be.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

Back in 2014, my posts really focussed on the music business as a whole, using metal and rock artists to illustrate the points I was trying to make.

It seemed like everyone was complaining about being paid. Except the labels.

And if the money was not filtering down to the artist, whose fault is that?

Then again, no one is guaranteed to be paid. People don’t want to accumulate shiny plastic discs or vinyl records while others do. So the price point for music fans of music is very different and this translates to how artists get paid.

Just because the user streams the music for free, it doesn’t mean that Spotify is not paying the rights holder. Accounting is the bedrock of the techies, however for the labels it is a different story.

And if you wanted to know how “breakage” is pure profit for the label, then read this post.

But artists seemed to be missing the point. They still focused on the old models and were failing to see new ways. IN THE END, regardless of what the artist does, it is the LISTENERS/FANS that decide if the artist makes it or doesn’t. The power is in the listener hands. And those relationships start like all relationships with a simple hello. So connect.

That connection could be with B-sides and rare tracks. In 2014 this was a rare thing, but I can say that by 2020, a lot or artists started to raid their vaults as they realised there was value there.

Then again, Minecraft was free to download and play. With the free version, you couldn’t save your progress but for a one of fee of $6.99, you could download the full version and have all the features. There are lessons here for the music business and artists.

Look at any band that is successful and you will see a band member with an entrepreneurial spirit. Some do it out of necessity.

Jay Jay French went and formed his own independent label to release the early singles from Twisted Sister when they couldn’t get a record deal.

Joan Jett had 23 labels pass on releasing her first solo album. Out of a need to get her music out, she founded Blackheart Records with producer Kenny Laguna. This was 34 years ago. By 2014, her label is now a force to be reckoned with, via its music, clothing and film divisions.

Then again, getting a record deal could be a blessing or a curse.

Because everyone is trying to twist the narrative to their own advantage. The labels for themselves. The techies for themselves. The artists for themselves. The publishers for themselves.

I’m a fan of Black Veil Brides and their Bob Rock produced self-titled album was getting a lot of spins. If you haven’t heard it, press play on it right now. Sonically it is one of the best hard rock and old school metal releases in 2014.

Anyone read “Stephen Pearcy: Ratt and Roll”. If you haven’t, don’t. I don’t recommend it. The disintegration of Ratt and the tough times of the Nineties are glossed over. The way the songs came together, and the influences behind them is not even mentioned.

Anyway it got me thinking about the Eighties so I wrote a post that sort of makes sense about learning a lot from history.

And somewhere along the way, everyone forgot how music thrives. By sharing it with others. Go any social media site and people are sharing their lives. Go to any blog site and you will see people sharing photos, writings, music, opinions, stories, etc. And all the things that we share are all free.

How we communicate has changed significantly and how to succeed as an artist has also changed significantly. Artists need to be agile and be ready to try different ways of promoting and connecting.

If you remember, in the October 2014 review, I reviewed the careers of Adrian Vandenberg and John Sykes up until 2014. This month, Digital Summer, Evergrey and Vivian Campbell got the same treatment.

And I was cranking “Bloodstone And Diamonds” from Machine Head a lot. You can read my review here.

Then again, every act has an arc. Like the Bell Curve. Sometimes they have multiple Bell Curves.

Because the new world is hard. Attention spans are lower and what is hot today is gone tomorrow. That album you spent making for 12 months is dead after 4 weeks.

We are living in a world that is besieged by economic problems. We are living in a world that has democratic governments undertaking surveillance on their citizens like the totalitarian regimes that our grandfathers died fighting against. We are living in a world where the majority of politicians are on the payroll of the corporations. We are living in a world that has a digital divide to go along with a class divide. We are living in a world where privacy is eroded a little bit at a time.

Some of my favourite artists had songs that just spoke to me.

“What do you mean I don’t support your system, why do you think I’m broke”.

Dave Mustaine wrote that back in the mid-Eighties. Fast forward almost thirty years, and we are still broke supporting the system. The rich and the powerful caused a global recession and guess what, they got bailed out by the governments while we lost our jobs and homes. Inequality exists in music as it does in economics. You’re either a winner or a loser and if you cross over, you become a global phenomenon. Think Metallica. There crossover was the “Black” album. That is their victory lap album.

“But now the holy dollar rules everybody’s lives, gotta make a million, doesn’t matter who dies.”

The above line is from “Revolution Calling” from Queensryche. Spotify cares about Spotify and they want to make millions. Taylor Swift cares about Taylor Swift and she wants to make millions.

“Words are the bullets to this revolution”

Robb Flynn spits out the line in “Clenching the Fists of Dissent”.

We live in an information age. Everything is at our fingertips so we should put those tools to use to do our own investigations because our media reporting outlets are all owned by large corporations. They report news items that will push their agenda. They report news items that have been paid for by a marketing PR firm. Impartiality is over. Never have we been so divided but connected we are.

The problems of today existed before. However, it is the people of today that had to bail out the rich. If the POOR or the WORKING CLASS did something fraudulent and corrupt, they would be doing time in a cell. When the RICH do something fraudulent and corrupt they end up screaming to the Government for a bail out and escape without punishment.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was the catch cry once upon a time. It is time it becomes a catch cry of a new generation.

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Official Bootleg: DEMO Series: The Majesty Demos 1985-86

The above is the cover from the 2003 release. The only place to buy these official bootleg albums was via the Ytse Jam website or at Dream Theater live shows.

While Official Bootlegs are all the rage these last few years with acts like Kiss, Aerosmith and Cheap Trick jumping on, Dream Theater were one of the first few to do an Official Bootleg series. Mike Portnoy was the brains behind this and was inspired by the work his favourite band Marillion did for the fans via the fan club (which Portnoy was also a member of).

But Portnoy had to get John Petrucci’s approval to proceed and once he got it, Ytse Jam Records was formed.

In 2003, three Bootlegs dropped and they kept on dropping while Portnoy was in the band.

But.

Once Portnoy was out, Ytse Jam records ceased to exist.

However the Petrucci led version of the band signed an agreement a few years ago with current record label InsideOut Music.

The purpose of the “Lost Not Forgotten Archives” is to re-release and reissue the entire Ytsejam Records catalogue and the fan club CDs, alongside some new unreleased material. All of the new re-releases will be sold on CD and vinyl, as well as being made available for digital streaming with all new artwork.

Like the terrible one below they did for “The Majesty Demos” re-release”.

“The Majesty Demos 1985-86” covers the initial formation period of Dream Theater, with the songs recorded on a 4 track tape recorder. It was released in 2003 by Ytse Jam records and re-released in 2022 via the Lost Not Forgotten Archives.

In September of 1985, John Petrucci and John Myung met up with Mike Portnoy at the Berklee College Of Music in Boston.

Within the first month of school, the two John’s saw Mike jamming in the practice room and introduced themselves. Besides having a common home base, they had similar tastes in music. They liked progressive, complex music like Rush, Yes, The Dixie Dregs, Frank Zappa and also loved heavy music like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Metallica and Queensryche.

It was just three college kids jamming and having fun. And it is captured on these recordings.

As Portnoy wrote in the CD booklet;

“the music on this very 1st Edition is the very first music we ever created together.

It is very raw (and sometimes even very embarrassing). The audio quality is usually fair at best. We had very limited recording resources available to us at the time.

In fact, we had only one resource at all; my trusty old Tascam 244 analog 4 track recorder that I received as a high school graduation present from my grandmother”.

None of these songs have even appeared on a proper studio album.

The CD booklet explains the tracks a little bit more. 

Particle E. Motion

At 1.38, a small instrumental that shows Petrucci playing arpeggios over a Myung bass groove.

The title alludes to the key of the song. The CD booklet mentions how it is the first thing they ever recorded on Portnoy’s 4 track, to break it in and figure out how to use the damn thing.

Another Won

This is the instrumental version of the song, with Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung, as Kevin Moore was not in the band at this point in time.

“This is where it all began” states the CD booklet. The first song the power trio wrote together.

Musically, it you like the first Queensryche album, early Maiden and Fates Warning, then you will like this song. The bass of Myung is boss here, with a dominant Steve Harris like sound.

Press play at 3.29 to hear the riff and how Petrucci builds it into a solo.

At 5 minutes in length, it’s a standard heavy metal cut, heavily influenced by Queensryche.

The Saurus

An 80 second instrumental which has Petrucci playing this jazz like chords. It’s almost lounge rock when the lead kicks in. It’s very Al DiMeola like.

Cry for Freedom

This song has not had an official release on any studio album. Musically this is Petrucci, Myung and Portnoy (let’s call em “PMP”) living in their Queensryche meets Rush world. And I like it. It’s very accessible.

It’s also the second song the Berklee boys wrote. The CD booklet mentions how much of a lead instrument the bass was when it was just the three of them.

The School Song

Song number three for the Berklee boys. A song that got left behind, and it has never been played live.

A major key riff kicks off the song, something which Petrucci likes to do a lot and its similar to some of the riffs he has written on studio songs like “Our New World” from “The Astonishing” album and “The Bigger Picture” from their self-titled album.

At 2.31, it has this minor key section which screams Iron Maiden. The CD booklet states the same.

The last few chords to end the song is how “Ytse Jam” starts.

YYZ

A Rush cover. It’s how all acts start out. Playing the songs from our heroes.

Portnoy even plays the keys on this.

It’s perfect and it shows how precise they are.

The CD booklet does state how they would jam, “La Villa Strangiatio”, “The Spirit Of Radio” and this one.

The Farandole

A Talas cover which is classical in nature. Who would have thought that almost 30 years later, Portnoy would be in a power trio combo with Billy Sheehan.

The CD booklet mentions that Talas was Portnoy’s and Myung’s favourite band during this period especially their “Live Speed On Ice” album.

I love reading stuff like this.

Two Far

Original song number 4. 

This is the instrumental version.

Musically its Dream Theater’s version of RushMaidenRyche.

Anti-Procrastination Song

A S.O.D. cover at 13 seconds long. Pointless, but hey, what else can you are young and have a 4 track recorder.

Your Majesty

They are still living in their Queensryche meets Rush world with a bit of Malmsteen chucked in. This is the instrumental version of the song.

It’s more of a straight forward type of song, maybe even commercial sounding.

This track was resurrected and played live in Paris in 2002 as a tribute to all of the French Fan Club members which goes by the Majesty name. A perfect way to honour their dedication to the band.

Tracks 11 to 17 are all little snippets no longer than 20 seconds as they play around with multi-tracking on the 4 track recorder.

The tracks in question are “Solar System Race Song”, “I’m About to Faint Song”, “Mosquitos in Harmony Song”, “John Thinks He’s Randy Song”, “Mike Thinks He’s Dee Dee Ramone Introducing a Song Song”, “John Thinks He’s Yngwie Song” and “Gnos Sdrawkcab”.

Each song starts off with Portnoy yelling the title and then you hear 4 tracks of Petrucci harmonizing. Portnoy makes mention in the CD booklet, “it’s amazing how incredibly tight John can double track his guitar leads and still is a master of that today”.

Now we get to the good bit. 

The rare “Majesty” demo with Chris Collins on vocals. He might have yelled, “Scream For Me Long Beach” while they played live and his stage presence and delivery might have been strained, but he does a pretty good job here to give the songs a unique Tate/Midnight vocal vibe.

The CD booklet mentions how the DT guys had a tape of Chris singing “Queen Of The Ryche” and they were in AWE of how perfectly he could hit those Tate notes (which Portnoy further elaborated, “unfortunately, it turned out that was about all he could do”.)

A friend from Berklee called James Hull also had a Tascam 246 and when they put the two four tracks together, they had a whopping 8 tracks to do a real demo.

They also wrote 3 new songs, the heavy and progressive “March of The Tyrant” and 2 more ballade-esque songs in Vital Star and the 11 minute epic power ballad “A Vision” which Portnoy mentions, has some really beautiful moments, not to mention an AMAZING guitar solo.

Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung recorded their tracks at Berklee. When school finished in May, they joined up with Kevin Moore and Chris Collins back on Long Island and added them to the tracks. Portnoy’s grandmother again came to the rescue and funded the band money to press 1000 cassettes.

And Portnoy mailed em and gave em to people who mattered.

Another Won

The delivery and recording of this is way superior to the instrumental version. The addition of the keys makes each section different.

But my favourite section (like the instrumental) starts around 3.37, when Petrucci starts the riff and then leads into the solo. The solo is even better than what he put down on the instrumental. His fast alternate picked lines are perfect this time around. 

Your Majesty

Myung’s bass sets the groove for everyone to follow. The addition of vocals is welcomed and Collins does a fantastic job.

The Chorus is very arena rock like and some of the vocal highs are ball squeezing.

The outro solo is perfect from Petrucci. Simple, melodic and a perfect way to end the song.

A Vision

My favourite track. A 11 minute metal tour de force. I would have loved to hear this with a proper studio release.

An Em(add9) arpeggio chord starts it all off. It builds until the whole band crashes in and Collins is doing all ohhs and woohs. Collins moves between a Dickinson meets Tate vibe here vocally. He sounds fresh.

The Petrucci solo which starts around the 6.30 mark is essential listening. The way he builds it with all the different techniques he employs is a wow moment. At the 8 minute mark it gets a bit more frantic and Petrucci is wailing, while the band is building with him.

The solo finally ends at 8.49 and I wasn’t bored not a second while it played.

But he wasn’t done. He produces another guitar hero solo to end the song. The chops at the age of 19/20 goes to show how competitive the 80’s era was for guitarists.

Two Far

A Neal Peart inspired drum groove starts off the song, and then it goes into a Malmsteen like riff.

The verses are very busy musically so it is difficult to put a vocal melody over it and while the guys tried, they didn’t really pull it off.

However the Chorus is catchy.

The solo section and the unison lines between the guitars and keys is a sign of things to come.

Vital Star

My next favourite. 

Collins does a good job in bringing this song to life vocally with his Tate like influences.

Musically, it is living in that Queensryche debut album sound except for the solo section which shows some of the progressiveness to come. And the outro solo from Petrucci is another great listen.

March of the Tyrant

The song is a mix of so many styles from the early 80’s. It has that exotic sounding Middle Eastern riff.

It definitely has that Rush element and how Alex Lifeson plays a power chord with the ringing E and B strings (DT does it more aggressively and distorted here), plus a lot more. There are musical elements of early Fates Warning, Megadeth, Metallica, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marillion, Yes and Iron Maiden. 

The solo section is very Holdsworth/Morse like over an Iron Maiden like rhythm section. And I like it.

I’ll end the post with how Portnoy ended his opening in the CD booklet; “I hope you can look past the occasional audio distraction and enjoy a glimpse of where we were at, what we were doing and where we were going.”

Back in 2003, this snapshot back in time was perfect. And I wanted more. Which I got. But that is for another post.

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1976 – Part 5.4: Slade – Nobody’s Fool

“Nobody’s Fools”. Not the Cinderella song, but the sixth studio album by Slade within a 10 year period. It was released in March 1976 and produced by Chas Chandler who was immortalised by his work with Jimi Hendrix on the first three albums.

Slade didn’t exist for me until Quiet Riot covered “Cum On The Feel The Noize” and “Mama Were All Crazee Now”. At the point in time I knew of them, but never listened to them. This would change as the 90’s rolled around and then peer to peer sharing and finally streaming. 

If you expect to hear a balls to the wall rock album then this album is not for you. There is some loud rock, but overall, there is soul, R&B and other popular styles.

Doing this review retrospectively, it’s always cool to read what people said about it at the time it was released. It’s pretty obvious that British fans didn’t like it when their acts tried to break in to the U.S market. When artists normally attempted this, the fans would accuse them of selling out. This happened with Slade. And it didn’t help matters when they band kept saying that they moved to the U.S to rejuvenate and get new ideas as they felt stale in the U.K.

So it’s no surprise that this album is Slade’s first to not reach the UK Top 10, and to drop out of the chart after a chart run of only four weeks. It would be their last album to make a UK chart appearance until the 1980 compilation “Slade Smashes!”.

Meanwhile, the U.S press praised it, but it didn’t translate to the breakthrough they wanted.

But the album stands up today. Its variation is what makes it entertaining.

The album’s cover was created to coincide with the band’s 10th anniversary, showing the band adopting the same positions as they had on the cover for their 1970 album “Play It Loud”.

Slade is Noddy Holder on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Dave Hill on lead guitar, Jim Lea on bass and Don Powell on drums. All tracks are written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea and the album is produced by Chas Chandler.

Nobody’s Fool

The piano is dominant and its more soul rock than hard rock/glam rock. Think Rod Stewart and “Maggie May”. And I like it especially the Chorus. It’s arena rock and no one can tell me any different.

Lea wanted “Nobody’s Fool” to be a “twenty-minute epic” but that takes balls to do and the only one who had Balls to do songs like that was Jim Steinman and the only one silly enough to perform them was Meatloaf. But with over a 100 million albums sold worldwide, I guess the fools were the labels who rejected them.

Anyway I digress.

Do the Dirty

“Play That Funky Music White Boy” and any riff from Joe Walsh comes to mind when the intro kicks in. Its funky, its dirty sounding and it rocks.

How could the fans not like this song? 

Let’s Call It Quits

It’s bluesy and sleazy. After it became a UK hit, it was served a writ. Allen Toussaint, felt the song was similar to his “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)”. The case was settled out of court with the band giving Toussaint 50% in song writing royalties, though Lea maintained that he has never heard Toussaint’s version before or since. But the version that everyone knows is from Three Dog Night. And that version came out in 1974, and it got a lot of airplay, so this could be the version that Lea heard. 

To me this is a standard blues track musically and as Keith Richards said, “you can’t copyright the blues”. But in this instance the Chorus vocal melodies do sound similar.

Also when you hear the vocal delivery on this song, you can hear from which vocalist, Kevin DuBrow modelled his vocals on.

Pack Up Your Troubles

Sit around the campfire acoustic country about leaving all your troubles behind and heading into the hills with your liquor and wine. It’s adventurous and I like it.

In for a Penny

It’s very Beatles like. “Penny Lane” and “Eleanor Rigby” come to mind.

It is also the only Slade track to feature the accordion and the guitar playing from Dave Hill is more decorative than riff heavy.

And don’t let the accordion deter you, the song is a psychedelic pop rock masterpiece.

Get On Up

It’s back to their hard rock roots. 

Hearing this today, all I am hearing is how much Kevin DuBrow borrowed from Noddy Holder in vocal tone, phrasings and lyrical rhymes. Then again, Holder borrowed from a lot of others as well and that is how music evolves my friends. We all take from what has come before to create something new. 

L.A. Jinx

I love the clean guitar strummed pattern. Its funky, groovy, and it rocks.

Lyrically the song deals with bad luck the band seemed to suffer whenever they played in Los Angeles like their gear blowing up or getting electric shocks.

Press play to hear the whole interlude section. 

And the star of the song are the vocal melodies from Noddy Holder. Unique and original and still rooted in hard rock territory.

Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya

It’s reggae like but with a lot of soul rock thrown in and lyrics that deal with nursery rhymes and a lot of innuendo.

Scratch My Back

Another rock track in similar form to “Get on Up”. 

I’m a Talker

It sounds like another song that I can’t think off right now, but hey, that’s why I love music. This one is acoustic, fast strummed, very folk-rock, campfire like.

All the World Is a Stage

The drum groove sets up this melodic rock track before melodic rock was a thing. It moves between minor key verses and major key choruses.

Since I am listening to this on Spotify, it is the Expanded Edition with Bonus tracks.

Thanks for the Memory (1975 non-album single)

It was a sign of things to come and the sound to come. 

Raining In My Champagne (B-side of “Thanks for the Memory”)

It’s better than the A side in my opinion. Maybe because it sounds like “Twist And Shout” in the Chorus.

Can You Just Imagine (B-side of “In For a Penny”)

A throwback to the sounds of the 60’s.

When the Chips are Down (B-side of “Let’s Call It Quits”)

In the end, this was the album that Slade hoped would break them into the U.S mainstream, instead, this is the album that put Slade out of the mainstream business worldwide, until their 80’s comeback.

But don’t be a fool and ignore it. The band was adventurous and yet they still made it sound like Slade because the songs were written and recorded in between small tours of the U.S with acts like ZZ Top.

And you can hear their blues boogie translate to the grooves here. And at least they learned how to spell properly.

Press play. 

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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Train Of Thought

Each Dream Theater album had touched on the sounds that I would class as Thrash Metal and Heavy Metal. But on “Train Of Thought” they decided to live in this metal/thrash world. And I liked it.

It begins with an album cover that has Black as its main colour screaming Metal. Then again, Pink Floyd did have a black cover for an album that sold multi millions and it had nothing to do with metal, more like dreamy acid rock.

“Train of Thought” was released on November 11, 2003 through Elektra Records before its parent company Warner Music Group decided to merge Elektra Records with Atlantic Records to become Atlantic Records Group in 2004, only to give the Elektra name a new lease of life in 2009 as an independent entity up until 2018, when WMG relaunched Elektra Music as a stand-alone, staffed music company, with labels like Roadrunner Records, Low Country Sound, Fuelled By Ramen and Black Cement under it.

As I Am

This song is a balls to the wall metal classic.

It starts off with the Black Sabbath riff to kick it off. Yes, it is that Black Sabbath riff.

Then it goes into an “Enter Sandman” like groove for the verses. It gets the foot tapping, and the head banging.

Dream Theater toured with Queensryche in 2003. At this point in time, Queensryche’s commercial zenith was in the past and Dream Theater’s star was still rising. Mike Stone was the guitarist in Queensryche, carrying out the Chris DeGarmo role. And Stone decided he should give John Petrucci tips on playing guitar.

Every time you hear the lyric line “Don’t tell me what’s in, tell me how to write”, just think of Mike Stone giving Petrucci tips.

I like the lead break. It is old school and it burns. There is no rhythm guitar track, just bass, keys and drums. Exactly what EVH did when he soloed on a lot of VH tracks.

Vocally, LaBrie is at his metal best. His voice might strain in the live arena, but in the studio, LaBrie is a master.

This Dying Soul

The feedback from “As I Am” segues into the fast groove metal of “This Dying Soul”.

Here, Mike Portnoy continues his “Twelve-Step Suite”, which started with “The Glass Prison” on “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence”.

For those who don’t know, “The Glass Prison” has the following sections; “I. Reflection”, “II. Restoration” and “III. Revelation”. “This Dying Soul” has the following sections; “IV. Reflections of Reality (Revisited)” and “V: Release”. All of the sections are steps in the Alcohol Anonymous Recovery program.

After the thrash-a-thon in the intro, the song gives way to a Tool like groove and vocal melody in the verses. And I like it.

There is this “Blackened is the end” vocal melody in “V:Release”. Once you hear it, you will recognise it. I can’t say I am a huge fan of the loud speaker rap like verses, but I do give full marks for incorporating new elements into their music.

And since these songs are part of the same universe they do share some of the lyrics and melodies.

Endless Sacrifice

The acoustic intro.

It can remind you of Pink Floyd or Pantera depending on your listening history. They touched on these kind of melancholic riffs in “Peruvian Skies” from “Falling Into Infinity”.

But, it is the Chorus that brings the energy.

Then at 4.56, all hell breaks loose as they make their way into the solo section of the song. It’s got this “Creeping Death” meets “Disposable Heroes” palm-muted patterns.

For 8 seconds between 6.28 to 6.36 it sounds like it came from a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon.

Check out the harmony section from 8.58 which gets em out of the solo section and into the final part of the song.

Honor Thy Father

My favourite song for the riffs and melodies. It’s a metal tour-de-force.

The subject matter about Mike Portnoy’s stepfather didn’t resonate with me, but man, the riffs and melodies are fantastic.

After the heavy intro, press play to hear the first verse. And how good is the arena rock Chorus.

When the second verse rolls again, the original riff is played with distortion and man, it works so well. But at 3.51. instead of going into the Chorus again, they go into a verse with the riff tweaked a little bit more to make it sound different and unique.

And like all the songs on the album, from the 5 minute mark they go into a lengthy solo section.

Vacant

It’s the shortest song on the album, at 3 minutes long. It’s a haunting piano riff (which sounds like the bass riff to start of “Stream Of Consciousness”), with a little bit of an orchestra and LaBrie’s vocals.

The lyrics to “Vacant” were inspired by James LaBrie’s daughter, who fell into a short coma after suffering a sudden, unexplained seizure three days before her seventh birthday.

Stream of Consciousness

The DT instrumentals always have memorable sections via a lead or a riff. This song is no different especially the first two minutes. Essential listening.

The title had been around for a while in the DT world. 

Of course, the solo from Petrucci is Guitar Hero stuff. Yes, there is flash and some fast picking, but it’s so melodic as well. If you like the playing of people like Steve Morse, Al DiMeola, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert and Joe Satriani, then you will like what Petrucci does here. 

And at 7.30 that fantastic intro music comes back in, more ferocious with a few little tweaks.

The whole  is the longest instrumental on a Dream Theater studio album to date and was the intended title for Falling Into Infinity.

And one of the YouTube comments on the song still cracks me, “LaBrie never sounded better”.

In the Name of God

The closer at 14.15 about religion and how it indoctrinates people to kill in its name.

The acoustic intro sets the tone, before the distortion crashes in. It’s a slow groove by Portnoy before they pick it up and play it double time.

The verse riff is head banging and it reminds me of “As I Am”. Petrucci drops out and lets Myung roll with it on the bass, while Petrucci switches to decorating.

LaBrie is a monster on the vocals here. Listen to him between 4.46 and 5.30. Throat ripping stuff.

As is the theme of the album, they then go into a long solo section in the middle of the song.  

Press play to hear Petrucci wail between from the 8.40 mark.

The album did exactly what it needed to do. It put them on tour again, it got them into large metal festivals, something which they couldn’t do before and it renewed their fan base with metal heads. 

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