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

The Record Vault – AFI and Audrey Horne

When I unboxed some of the CD’s, I saw a few bands that start with A that I have missed in my Record Vault stories.

So here is a double post on AFI and Audrey Horne. And if you are interested in the previous Audrey Horne post, click here.

AFI

“December Underground” was released in 2006 and the album is a masterpiece in progressive pop song writing structures.

But if you don’t like the screamo style vocals, then you need to train your ears to ignore them in some songs, so you can appreciate the music and the song writing.

The eerie “Prelude 12/21” is a cool introduction, with “kiss my eyes and put me to sleep” being the catchcry as it morphs into the punk screamo rock of “Kill Caustic”. And when the hit single, “Miss Murder” comes up, it jars me, with its pop like vocal and addictive bass riff.

“Summer Shudder” is real cool to play on guitar, and that vocal melody for the lyric, “under the summer rain” remains with me long after the song is finished. “The Interview” is driven by a bass riff as it rolls through so many different emotions, until a brief pause and then the Chorus crashes in. And let’s chuck in a church organ for the last minute, that doesn’t make pop sense but makes musical sense.

“Love Like Winter” sounds like it came from “The Rasmus”. 

“The Missing Frame” and “Kiss and Control” have little riffs here and there which are cool to jam and they are enjoyable listens. And the haunting vocal melodies.

“The Killing Lights” sounds like it came from The Cure and New Order.

Audrey Horne

I purchased “Lo Fel” after overdosing on the self-titled album, “Youngblood” and “Pure Heavy”. So I went back looking for some of Audrey Horne’s earlier stuff. The album was released in 2007, but with all things related to music, access happens much later.

The opening track “Last Chanse For A Serenade” sounds like a Brides of Destruction track, full of attitude and industrialism. But from the outset, I was enjoying the progressive tone in the song writing. The songs don’t follow a particular formula like verse and chorus.

“Jaws” is a favourite. The vocal melody is like Tool especially in the Chorus, the riffs are progressive metal/rock, the production is top notch and the performances get me playing air guitar.

“Threshold” is a perfect blend of all the modern rock tones and song writing, with a touch to their 70’s and 80’s roots. “Monster” has a Chorus about the world closing in and everyone who was around is not around anymore.

“Afterglow” has this riff which feels progressive. “In The End” is full of different movements. “Pretty Girls Make Graves” sounds like it came from Soundgarden. “So Long, Euphoria” closes the album and after hearing the 6 minute song, I press repeat. The groove and how it builds is satisfying.

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

The Record Vault – Babylon AD

The self-titled album released in 1989 on Arista Records is a favourite of mine. The songs, the performances, the production and the sounds all hit the mark.

I had friends who hated it because it sounded so much like Skid Row’s debut, but for me, I was cool with it.

“Bang Go The Bells” and all is well, alright especially that E minor riff. “Hammer Swings Down” keeps the tempo going, while you can hear Jack Ponti’s style of song writing in “Caught Up In The Crossfire” and “Desperate”. From memory, I think “Desperate” was a song written for/with Baton Rouge.

It’s a four punch knock out to kick off the album.

Then “Billy went driving on a Saturday night, heading for trouble with a bottle of wine” and “The Kid Goes Wild” kicks off, bringing the story of Billy The Kid into suburbia, as an angry, young teen, who is under the gun, and eventually goes wild. And “Sam Kinison” makes an appearance, telling the cops, he aint going down, because this is his life.

“Shot O’Love” has this little acoustic piece to kick it off like how “Love Song” has an acoustic piece. After about a minute and 20, the song kicks in. And its six from six.

“Maryanne” makes it 7 from 7 with its “Piece of Me” style riff in the verses. “Back In Babylon” sets the groove for a tale about getting back to the city of sin and living on the edge on the east side.

I normally skipped “Sweet Temptation” because my favourite track is “Sally Danced”. The swampy acoustic blues with the slide guitar and the vocal melodies, hook me every single time.

And that Chorus section from about 2.18 is brilliant.

Throughout it all, the guitar work of Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi is top level. Derek Davis on vocals delivers the goods on every track. While bassist Robb Reid and Jamey Pacheco are the unsung heroes, holding down the fort and grooving all the way.

“Nothing Sacred” came out in 1992.

But the opening track “Take The Dog Off The Chain” didn’t grab me in the same way, “Bang Go The Bells” did and neither did “Bad Blood”.

However, “So Savage The Heart” although generic, did hook me and without looking at the credits, you can hear Jack Ponti’s song writing style over it.

“Sacrifice For Love” asks to share the bed of fire, and the album is rocking now to my liking. “Redemption” is a cool song, and lyrically, it deals about abuse, as it was a common theme back then, with Skid Row dropping “In A Darkened Room” which covered a similar topic.

“Down The River Of No Return” works with the swampy acoustic guitars merged with some slide guitar and a vocal performance worthy of top spot on the Billboard charts.

“Psychedelic Sex Reaction” sounds like it was written for Alice Cooper’s “Hey Stoopid” album. “Dream Train” sounds like it came from Aerosmith’s “Permanent Vacation” album. “Blind Ambition” sounds like “All Right Now” from Free merged with Poison’s “Nothin But A Good Time”. The pre chorus sounds like it came from the “River Of Love” Chorus by Lynch Mob.

“Of The Rose” starts of as an acoustic instrumental and should have stayed that way, as the electric guitar solo didn’t work for me. “Pray For The Wicked” is a throwback to the debut, with its sleazy and loose attitude.

And while the debut is a blast from start to finish of sleazy attitude driven rock and roll, the follow up tries to deliver but misses.

I didn’t get “American Blitzkrieg” but I really enjoyed their comeback album “Revelation Highway” released in 2017.

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

The Pirate Vault #1

Remember when the Recording Industry spent money on advertising stating that “home taping would kill the industry” and they wanted cassettes removed from sale, only to realize that once they started producing music onto cassettes, another revenue stream became available.

Sound familiar. Streaming is bad. Let’s ban it. Wait a minute, let’s work with it and wow, look at our profit lines.

Cinderella – “Night Songs” and Pearl Jam – “Vs

There was another band on Side 2 which I overdubbed for Pearl Jam’s second album. I can’t even remember the name of the band.

And I couldn’t have overdubbed Cinderella because I didn’t buy the “Night Songs” LP until the 90s, via the second hand shops.

“Night Songs” came from my cousin Mega around 1987 and “Vs” came from a drummer in a band I was in.

WASP – “The Headless Children” and Twisted Sister – “Ruff Cutts”

My cousin Mega was again my point of reference here. “The Headless Children” is a massive album from WASP, one of their best.

And Mega has the TS logo on his arm.

At this point in time he also found the very rare and hard to find “Ruff Cutts” from Twisted Sister so it was a no brainer to tape that, purely for the rawness of the sound.

And the beauty of a 90 cassette meant that I had 45 minutes available on each side.

Which I filled up by other artists at separate points in time.

In this case I added “Out In The Fields” by Gary Moore, then at some point I added “Anybody Listening” the band version by Queensryche and “Seasons” from Badlands.

Tesla – Mechanical Resonance And Kansas – Point Of No Return

I taped these ones myself from the LPs so I could play the cassette on the Walkman. Remember those.

And I added a couple of Kansas tracks from the 80s at the end.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Backstreet Boys

Yeah, I know, it’s not hard rock or metal, but hear me out on this okay.I picked up these albums because my wife liked the band. I heard the albums and when you take away all the pop sounds, the different singers, the songs are basically hard rock songs that would have appeared on hard rock albums if hard rock was still in the mainstream. Also, some of the writers used on the songs have worked with hard rock bands.

Max Martin is all over “Backstreets Back” and Mutt Lange also has a song writing and production credit for his song on the album.

On “Never Gone”, Max Martin is there again, John Shanks (who did the Van Halen comeback album, plus Bon Jovi albums) produces a track, plus artists from other bands like Five For Fighting are writing songs for the band.

Max Martin wrote songs with Bon Jovi (“It’s My Life” and “Complicated”), with Def Leppard (“Unbelievable”), with Apocalyptica (“Worlds Collide”, with Daughtry (“Feels Like Tonight” and with Bryan Adams (“Before The Night Is Over” and “Cloud Number Nine”). Plus he wrote songs for Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Pink, Maroon 5, etc. He’s like the Desmond Child from 1998.

And of course, Max Martin’s real name is Karl Martin Sandberg, from Sweden and before he took over the charts writing songs for other artists, he was a singer in a hard rock metal funk band called “It’s Alive”.

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

The Record Vault – Boston

Boston was one of those bands who are loved by many and you can’t say anything bad about them. However to me, I really enjoyed a few songs on each album and others not so much.

Boston – Boston

If you want to know the power the artist had, you need to know the story of Boston’s self-titled debut.

Produced by Tom Scholz, the band had received numerous rejection letters from major record labels in the early 1970s, and by 1975, a demo tape had fallen into the hands of CBS-owned Epic Records, who signed them.

Epic wanted the band to record in Los Angeles with a record producer, but Scholz was unwilling and wanted to record the album in his basement studio, so he hired another person to run interference with the label. Scholz tricked the label into thinking the band was recording on the West Coast, when in reality, the bulk of the album was being tracked solely by Scholz at his home.

Basically there was no compromise from Scholz on his vision.

And that vision came out in 1976 to platinum sales. Then again platinum is very misleading for back in those days, a platinum album was given on the backs of how many records got shipped not sold. Regardless it’s stood the test of time.

“More Than A Feeling” is a great song to play on the guitar. Even Kurt Cobain took the main riff and called it “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. But my favourite song is “Piece of Mind” because of the harmony lead breaks in the intro, during the solo and the outro.

Boston – Don’t Look Back

The follow up, released in 1978 on Epic Records and the beginning of the band’s legal fight with Epic.

As mentioned previously, Tom Scholz didn’t compromise on his vision. But this time around he claimed that Epic executives pushed him and the band into releasing the album before they felt it was ready.

How good is that melodic lead break during the Chorus of “Don’t Look Back”?

“A Man I’ll Never Be” has a similar lead break like “Don’t Look Back” just before the Chorus and “Party” sounds like they just turned up, plugged in, had a party and jammed.

Their next album, “Third Stage”, was not released for another eight years, by which time the band and record label had parted ways and were fighting a courtroom battle that Boston ultimately won.

Third Stage

It finally came out in 1986.

Like all of their previous albums, there are always a few songs which just grab me and make me press repeat.

“Amanda” has a vocal melody which hooks me and that harmony solo which mimics the vocal melody seals the deal.

“Were Ready” has got so many bits and pieces of 80’s song writing in a concise 4 plus minute song. There is no way you cant like.

Clean tone arpeggios. Check.

Harmony Solo check.

Pedal point riff. Check.

Big backing vocals. Check.

And yeah, I know that Boston did these things before, but in “We’re Ready” they got it all MTV ready. Even Vito Bratta must have been impressed because I swear he took some of the riff and called it “Little Fighter” for the intro.

“The Launch” makes me feel like I have won Gold at the Olympics.  And then it morphs into “Cool The Engines” which is a throwback to their 70’s albums. 

“Cantcha Say You Believe In Me/ Still in Love” has a pretty big arena rock chorus as it moves between a ballad and a rocker. But then it moves into the “Still In Love” section, with clean tone arpeggios and little lead licks. For a pop rock album, its pretty progressive in the songwriting department. And then “Still In Love” builds into a lead section which copies the “Cantcha Say You Believe In Me” chorus melody.

 Brilliant.

“Hollyann” is full of harmony leads and what not.

And after that, I’m not sure what happened with Boston. The only thing I do know is that it was years before the next release.

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

1978 – Part 1

Quiet Riot – II

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this in a second hand record shop in the early 90’s for $10.

It’s part of Randy Rhoads origin story.

And what a strange cover, with the guys in the band, dressed up in glam outfits in a locker room with American Football jocks.

What the !!

“Slick Black Cadillac” kicks it off, a song which QR would redo with Carlos Cavazo and release it on “Metal Health”. But you need to hear the RR version.

The piece d’resistance is the solo sections of “Trouble” and “Face To Face” which reminds me of bits and pieces from “Mr Crowley”, “Over The Mountain” and “Flying High Again”.

And my other favourite is “We’ve Got The Magic”.

Listen to the little melodic leads RR plays in the Chorus.

And who said that RR couldn’t be bluesy. Check out the lead break in this song.

Boston – Don’t Look Back

How good is that melodic lead break during the Chorus of “Don’t Look Back”?

“A Man I’ll Never Be” has a similar lead break like “Don’t Look Back” just before the Chorus.

“Party” sounds like they just turned up, plugged in, had a party and jammed.

And that’s it for me. Boston has always been a two to three song band per album.

Van Halen – Van Halen

So many good songs for a debut.

It’s the same old saying, you have a lifetime to write your first album and a few months for the second.

But Van Halen in their early days were very prolific writers, so even though the first album is full of good moments, a lot of other songs from these days appeared on albums afterwards, all the way up to the reunion with Roth in the two thousands.

“Running With The Devil” kicks it all off with the iconic riff and in the Chorus, Michael Anthony’s backing vocals take centre stage. “Eruption” is now set in stone as one of “the instrumentals” on the Ten Commandments and The Kinks introduced “You Really Got Me” as a Van Halen cover after Van Halen rockified it.

Then the Am to F to G palm muted arpeggiated intro begins for “Aint Talking Bout Love” and another iconic riff is born.

“I’m The One” is the embryo of songs like “House Of Pain” and “Get Up”. “Jamie’s Cryin” was a hit twice, once with Van Halen and once with Tone Loc who sampled the riff and beat for “Wild Thing”.

“Atomic Punk” has that slashing like intro that inspired Slash for the “Mr Brownstone” intro. “Feel Your Love Tonight” could have come from an ELO record and Michael Anthony’s backing vocals are so precise and powerful. “Little Dreamer” has got this rumbling like riff that is cool to play. “Ice Cream Man” didn’t satisfy, but “On Fire” is full of good riffs to enjoy.

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On The Edge Of Town

I always have time for Bruce Springsteen and this album rates as one of his best.

I love the way “Badlands” starts off. The riff is so rock and roll and pop rock all in one. Bands like “ELO” and “Styx” built careers on riffs like these. Then that bluesy sleazy rhythm kicks off “Adam Raised A Cain”.  “Something In The Night” was written in 78, but the intro riff would become a number 1 chart topper in 84, when it became “I’m On Fire”.

The intro piano riff of “Racing In The Street” must have influenced Jonathan Cain as he would write many songs that went to platinum levels of success with a similar vibe and feel. “Promised Land” is about Springsteen’s beliefs in the life he is living, in the country he is born in.

And “Streets Of Fire” is still relevant today as it was back in the Seventies. “Prove It All Night” or “Because The Night”, as there is no difference between them really, especially in the music around the Chorus.

Rainbow – Long Live Rock N Roll

The drum roll snare, the words “All Right” and off we go, into the mystic lands of Rock and Roll, screaming deep into the night, “Long Live Rock And Roll”.

And Richie Blackmore is all over this album, with guitar riffs gifted to him from the “Lady Of The Lake”. If you don’t believe me, check out the verse riff and then that vocal melody in the Pre-Chorus/Chorus from Ronnie James Dio.

And we caught the “L.A Connection” to the “Gates Of Babylon” just to “Kill The King”, hiding out in “The Shed” because our “Rainbow Eyes” are “Sensitive To Light”.

Queen – Jazz

Some of the best riffs from Brian May are on this album.

The guitar riff in “Fat Bottomed Girls” makes the world go around. “If You Can’t Beat Them” has this pop like riff which reminds me of other acts, but Brian May makes it his own.

Listen to “Dead On Time”, it’s basically got a speed rock riff. “Dreamer’s Ball” kicks off with a harmony solo, before it morphs into an acoustic 12 bar blues. Listen to “Leaving Home Ain’t Easy”, with its acoustic riffs which sound full of power.

The drum beat in “More Of That Jazz” is perfect and once Brian May starts with the syncopated riff, it was time to pick up the guitar and learn it. And the Chorus at first sounds metal before it morphs into something like cabaret.

Dire Straits – Dire Straits

Mark Knofler’s guitar tone is brilliant. “Down To The Waterline” is a perfect example of it as he decorates the track with licks and riffs.

By the time I had heard this album, I had already overdosed on “Sultans Of Swings”. It’s one of those tracks like “The Final Countdown”, “Were Not Gonna Take It” and “Livin On A Prayer”. They have been played so many times, so while they are great tracks, you tend to ignore them. Still the finger picked lead break from Knofler is brilliant.

The Cars – The Cars

As I was writing The Car’s section, news hit Twitter that Ric Ocask was found dead in Manhattan at 75 years of age. I was very late getting into “The Cars” but I am glad I did. And what a debut album.

“Good Times Roll” kicks it off with its iconic riff, lyrics and synth lines. Let the good times roll in deed. And they continue with “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed”.

So many songs in the 70’s about their best friends partners. Eric Clapton wrote Layla because he was in love with George Harrison’s wife, which he eventually married. Rick Springfield topped the charts with “Jessie’s Girl” and so did The Cars. And neither song took away from the other. These days, everyone will be suing each other for copying their feels.

“Moving In Stereo” has a metal like riff in the vein of Judas Priest. No one will believe me, but they need to check it out. And the synth lead is perfect.

Well that’s it for the first post. More to come in Part 2.

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

The Record Vault – Badlands

I haven’t heard these albums in ages and they are not on Spotify.

I saw a video on YouTube about how Eddie Trunk thinks the reason for their absence is due to what Ray Gillen did.

In relation to what Ray Gillen did, there are a lot of forums which state that Ray Gillen was in a relationship with the daughter of one of the CEO’s at Atlantic Records and she contracted AIDS from him because he kept it secret and the father of the daughter vowed to bury anything Ray Gillen did, in any way he could.

Here is a post from the past I did on the self titled debut.

“High Wire” and “ Dreams In The Dark” are a knockout 1 and 2 punch. That bluesy intro from Jake E Lee, is pure guitar heaven. And that metal like riff in “Dreams In The Dark” before the solo and during the solo makes me want to play air guitar.

When you have been fired from a gig, your next gig is so important that you prove to yourself, what a mistake they made. And Jake, proved it.

So what came first, “Jades Song” or “Silent Lucidity” from Queensryche, as the intros of both songs are pretty similar?

“Winter’s Call” is one of the best Led Zep cuts from the 80’s which wasn’t written by Led Zep. It was that good, Lenny Wolf cried, because he wasn’t the one who thought to write it.

“Dancing On The Edge” has got this “Friday On My Mind” vibe in the intro, but once the band comes in, it becomes its own monster.

“Streets Cry Freedom” has the catchcry of “until the day I die, these streets cry freedom” and teenagers are at the forefront of these cries, demonstrating against gun violence, calling for gun control and demonstrating in the name of climate change. And the people in power, laugh, disregard, call the youth names and basically ignore their voices. But history has shown, the voices of many win in the end.

And you don’t see adults demonstrating, who are too comfortable in their lives, their devices, their jobs and houses to care. Even when the GFC hit, it was still relatively quiet on the demonstration front, even though people lost their jobs, their money and their houses. Some people even took their lives and a lot of people lost their relationships.

“Hard Driver” brings back memories of Deep Purple, ala “Speed King” and “Highway Star” while “Rumblin Train” sounds like an old rattler as Jake E Lee foot stomps his way all over the song. “Seasons” is one of those songs that sounds like other songs, but it also has enough of its own uniqueness to stand on its own.

And I can’t find my LP. It is one of many which have been lost in the various house moves.

Nor can I find my “Voodoo Highway” LP.

But I did find the CD.

And there is no big name producer this time around as Jake E Lee took control at the boards and depending on which story you believe, sealed the end of the band.

Regardless, there is no denying the power of “The Last Time” from its clean tone swampy arpeggio intro which morphs into a distorted open string riff as good as any of his riffs. And if you are not hooked by now, the lead break which brings back memories of “Bark At The Moon” would seal the deal.

Lyrically the song is about a broken heart (nothing really earth shattering) however the vocal performance by Ray Gillen is also top-notch.

“Show Me The Way” brings back memories of the Creedance Clearwater songs I used to learn. And “Shine On” seals the triple combo knockout. Listen to the lead break.

And just as I was getting up from the floor, “Whiskey Dust” floored me again. The way the intro builds into the riff, it’s got this 70’s vibe merged with a lot of Van Halen’isms. And the song is basically a 12 bar blues, but it sounds more complex.

Again the lead break hooks me in, with its slide guitar licks, open string riffs and bluesy pentatonic lines. And there is a small section after the lead break when it’s just drums and bass. Then the vocals come in, and Jake starts to play some bluesy licks and slides to decorate the verses, as it slowly builds into the Chorus. This is people in their prime, on form and ready to take on the world.  

“Joe’s Blues” is typical blues fare, even Van Halen did a song with a very similar ascending blues riff called “Ice Cream Man”.

“Soul Stealer” is a rewrite of “High Wire” which is good enough to stand on its own. “3 Day Funk” feels like a 3 day hangover. Crank it and chill.

And what came first, the intro riff in “Are You Gonna Go My Way” or the intro riff in “Silver Horses”?

Of course, Atlantic wanted hits and the album didn’t deliver in that department.

To me it sounded like Badlands was building the beast, so that the band could have a career. But they splintered on stage during the “Voodoo Highway” tour, and of course Ray Gillen passed away. However I believe, the band would have survived the change in the mainstream recording business because of their focus on the blues and the blend between blues, rock and metal.

And an album called “Dusk” was released towards the end of 90’s, marketed as rehearsal demos from a possible third album, however I never really bit into it, because I didn’t feel that the quality control was high.

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