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

Guitar Heroes and MTV

The huge success of EVH and Randy Rhoads from Southern California in the late seventies and early eighties, created an entire scene of guitarists in LA’s Sunset Strip.

Most of them were classed as imitators.

In a different era only a few of these guitarists would have made it. But these guitarists had something that no other guitarist had before them.

MTV.

A new market was created by music television that needed artists with a “god like” physical look and “love making” stage moves. And in order to satisfy the masses, MTV told the labels to go and get these artists. And major labels signed em in droves.

Dressed up as characters from “The Rocky Horror Show” and big hair, the anti-alpha look went against the alpha style lyrics of sexual domination and standing your ground.

Suddenly, everyone who wanted to be an artist was having their own fifteen minutes of fame contract thrown at them.

MTV went into business with heavy metal and the biggest beneficiaries were vocalists and guitarists.

And Lemmy once said, “the essence of rock and roll is rebellion” and “the only reason for rock and roll to exist is to be the soundtrack for the movie of teenage angst and anger”.

And there was a lot of teenage angst and anger. We snapped up the records and concert tickets and T-shirt’s at an unbelievable pace, fueled by the over exposure that MTV created, along with the various magazines.

Guitarists like Vito Bratta, George Lynch, Warren DeMartini/Robin Crosby, Carlos Cavazo, CC DeVille, Jake E Lee, Joey Allen/Erik Turner, Traci Gunns, Mark Kendall, Vinnie Vincent and Tom Keifer all had moments in the spotlight.

Artists like Lynch and Lee had success with multiple projects, while Keifer had an unbelievable ability to take old blues influences and turn them into popular rock songs. But he got lumped in with the rest of the hair Metal artists.

Warren DeMartini also got classed into this hair metal category but he was an outlier and Vito Bratta for all of his abilities couldn’t shake the EVH clone comparisons and a vocalist who couldn’t shake the DLR and Vince Neil comparisons.

It’s a very subjective viewpoint but for the other guitarists, did they really produce an album’s worth of great material.

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

Bullshit

How good was Ricky Gervais’s intro host speech at the Golden Globes?

As he said, he doesn’t care with offending people, calling out Hollywood and the film industry for the monsters its created like Harvey Weinstein and the secrecy for all of its sins, plus the College pay scandal and even Jeffrey Epstein And Prince Andrew got linked to Hollywood and DiCaprio (because of his young girlfriend).

And the best part of the speech, was when he said, “so if you win an award tonight, don’t use your platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up, accept your little award tonight, thank your agent and your God and fuck off. No one cares about your views on politics or culture.”

That’s right, no one gives a fuck about what these actors think.

Of course, Gervais is a comedian and his job is to make jokes. But he doesn’t care to play with their rules.

He plays by his rule. If he works with those people or if he doesn’t, he doesn’t care. He kept repeating that, he doesn’t care. And a person who has nothing to lose, is free. That is freedom, when you have nothing to lose, you are free to say and do what you want. And he calls out the industry on their bullshit.

I say the politics
Well they’re lunatics
They say it’s right
But we know it’s wrong
Spread the word

It’s all just
Bullshit to me

We used to call it once upon a time.

It’s a forgotten song from Australia’s Choirboys. Gervais would have a field day with that band name.

Most people in the world would know the Choirboys for their hit song “Run To Paradise”. Then again, maybe not, “Run To Paradise” came out in 1987, which in today’s fast paced world, a long time ago. I remember playing the song “Breaking The Law” in a cover band in the 90’s, almost 17 years from when the original came out and people thought it was an original of mine.

These days, we still like to call out the bullshit, however with social media and the need for everyone to be liked, we are hesitant. Maybe not, Ricky Gervais.

On Twitter, I see Zoltan Bathory get into a few exchanges with followers/trolls on his political and social views. Having come from a dictatorship to the U.S, he is passionate for freedom.

Robb Flynn calls out fellow musicians for racism and he gets his life threatened. Sebastian Bach talks about climate change and the Twitter trolls come out to shoot him down.

Dee Snider wrote the anthem for calling out the BS in life. This is what artists did well. The message was in the songs. Hence the reason why we connected. We need some more of it these days.

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

Masters And Slaves

Track 3 of the stellar “In Rock We Trust” album. The intro gets me playing air guitar.

It’s such a dirty game
That it fills you with rage
There’s only kings and queens
And you’re a pawn in their game

So much truth in these words.

Money, security and relationships are keeping us up at night. If we borrow money, we become even a bigger pawn in the game. The decks are stacked against hard work. They’ve always been.

Of masters and slaves
We’re divided that way
Are you a master or slave?
Do you rule or obey?

We are born, our parents rule and we obey.

We go to school and our teachers rule, while we obey.

We go to work and the boss rules, while we obey.

We get married, and the other partner rules while we obey.

If we want to participate in society, we need to play by its rules of working to get paid and taking out loans for property and so forth.

When they tell you it’s the home of the free
Well, they must be insane

Who would have thought that living in a free country would be so expensive?

And who would have thought that living in a free country, that we would be under so much surveillance than a communist nation ever did, all in the name of safety.

‘Cause it’s dog eat dog from morning ’till night
And only the strongest survive
It’s the law of the jungle, only winners have rights
The losers relinquish their lives

There is no story about the losers. Only the winners. And they re-write history to suit their point of view.

So, you think you’re made it
When you have your fortune and fames
But don’t you realize
Oh, someone’s running the game

These lyrics reference life, experience, skin in the game. It’s not all about being a red hot live wire, wanting to feel the noise.

How many artists lost all the money they made when their career and the public acceptance of their music started to fade and their trusted label, manager and publisher ripped em off.

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

The Call Of Ktulu

Another game changer track, a progressive 7 minute instrumental, with a title taken from the works of HP Lovecraft and his mythical monster.

And death was the unifying theme on “Ride The Lightning” except for “Escape”, a Thin Lizzy like cut which had defiant social lyrics like “Life is my own to live my own way”. The same message could be heard on songs like “Stand Up And Shout” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

“The Call Of Ktulu” has got a bit of everything, written mostly by Dave Mustaine in his Dux of the Year contribution however the publishing will show Hetfield, Ulrich, Burton, Mustaine.

And it’s got the embryonic riff of what will become “Hanger 18” in Megadeth many years later, based around a chromatic ascending riff similar to “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin.

The songs structure is orchestral like and it’s full of ascending and descending scales, chromatic lines which give the song an air of menace and time changes.

The intro alone moves from a classical inspired Dm arpeggio riff to the Am Tritone arpeggio riff and back to the Dm “Hangar 18” riff.

And the “Ride The Lightning” album was the first time that Cliff was really writing with the band, and this partnership would come to fruition on the follow up album “Master Of Puppets” album.

Rumors existed that Hetfield didn’t write any lyrics because he never actually read any of Lovecraft’s works or that the song that appears on the album was a throwaway jam from the Mustaine era, with Mustaine actually playing, because the album was over budget and needed an extra track.

And the various companies printing the LPs kept spelling it wrong on various pressings. “The Cat Of Ktulu” and “The Call Of The Ktulu”.

Regardless, enjoy a brilliant track which was made even more menacing when Michael Kamen wanted to open the “S&M” show with it many years later, which gave the song a new lease of life and people once again became interested in Metallica’s back catalogue.

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

The Pirate Vault #7

The little box of cassette tapes keeps bringing back some memories.

Guns N Roses mix and 7th Son of A 7th Son

The Gunners mix is a weird one, a combination of live tracks from B sides and “Use Your Illusion” tracks, along with “Patience” from the “Lies” EP.

I chucked in “Breaking The Law” from Judas Priest towards the end because the band I was in was covering it, and in the 90’s when we played the song, people thought it was our own song. Totally clueless to the songs origin or we played it that bad, they couldn’t recognize it.

And “So Tired” from Ozzy’s “Bark At The Moon” album is one of the best songs Ozzy has written with just one finger and a piano.

Side 2 has the excellent “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” album from the mighty Iron Maiden.

I remember sitting down and learning “Moonchild”, “Infinite Dreams”, “Can I Play With Madness”, “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” and my favourite track, “The Evil That Men Do”.

Living on the razors edge alright.

Savatage Mix and Fates Warning Mix

My cousin “Mega” is four years older and at this point in time, he had more money at his disposal and was devouring new music like a sumo having breakfast.

And I had the Savatage albums with Criss Oliva up to “Gutter Ballet” on LP and “Streets: A Rock Opera” on CD, but hadn’t heard “Edge Of Thorns” and then I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after his death with the next album, but upon hearing that Alex Skolnick from Testament was involved, I was interested.

As for Fates Warning, I had the first three albums on LP and Mega was purchasing all the CD’s after that.

So on a visit to his place, I spent some time listening and cherry picking songs to fill up a side over a few albums. I guess Apple was onto something with their iTunes Store.

The Savatage tracks are made up of “Edge Of Thorns” and “Handful Of Rain” tracks, while the Fates Warning tracks are made up of “Perfect Symmetry” and “Parallels” songs.

Guitars From Hell Part I and II

I don’t know why I selected that title for this mix tape.

Side 1

“Take Me For A Little While”

It’s one of my favourite cuts from the “Coverdale/Page” album, because it could have been a massive radio hit if it was shorter, but these two legends just kept going and the song ended up almost 7 minutes long.

“Song For Love”

Nuno Bettencourt has some real good guitar moments in this song and it’s here because of it.

“You Don’t Remember , I’ll Never Forget” and “Queen In Love”

I was having a Yngwie Malmsteen moment and these two songs are accessible and Malmsteen plays for the song, with stellar riffing and picking the right moment to break loose.

“Dr Rockter”, “Love Machine” and “Sleepin In The Fire”

WASP aka Blackie Lawless just knew how to satisfy the core. These 3 songs I can put em on, and never once do I think to press skip.

“Breaking The Chains”

I had overdosed on the Dokken albums from “Tooth N Nail” so I went back to the debut.

“Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Island In The Sun”

Did I mention I was having a Malmsteen moment?

These are tracks from the excellent and very underrated “Alcatrazz” band before Malmsteen went solo.

Notice the guitar heroes in the list on side 1. Jimmy Page, Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch and Chris Holmes/Blackie Lawless (bassist who moved to guitar). Maybe the whiskey swilling Holmes didn’t get as much attention, but he could play and he could party. Sort of like the underrated Robin Crosby from Ratt.

Side 2

“You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come” kicks it off, a cut written by Shaw and Blades for Vince Neil, but the guitar you hear is from Steve Stevens. And the solo break is worthy.

“Reason To Kill” has the excellent Al Pitrelli on guitar. It was released on “Blood And Bullets”, the excellent album from Dee Snider’s “Widowmaker” project.

“Outlaw” is from the pre Motley John Corabi fronted “The Scream” band.

“Devils Toy” is from the excellent “The Almighty” and it can be found on their “Soul Destruction” album.

“Stand Up And Fight” is from MARS, the supergroup project featuring Tony MacAlpine on guitars, Tommy Aldridge on drums, Rob Rock on vocals and Rudy Sarzo on bass.

“To Hell With The Devil” is one of my favourite cuts from the album of the same title and all those harmonies courtesy of Michael Sweet.

“Here I Go” is from “The Screaming Jets” a hard rock band from Australia. This song appears on their “Tear Of Thought” album. Guitarists, Grant Walmsley and Richard Lara really worked well together and nailed their parts, however credit needs to go to the main songsmith in bassist, Paul Woseen, who wrote the majority of songs for the band.

“Midnight/Tornado” is from the Skid Row debut. I always liked this song, but other songs got my attention early on, so I put it on a mix tape to overdose on it.

“Don’t Lie To Me” is another obscure Dokken cut that features some tasty work from George Lynch.

And to close, a Cinderella classic in “Don’t Know What You Got (Until It’s Gone)”.

And even on this list, you see a list of guitar heroes. Steve Stevens, Al Pitrelli, Bruce Bouillet, Ricky Warwick, Tony MacAlpine, Michael Sweet/Oz Fox, Grant Walmsley/Richard Lara, Dave Sabo/Scott Hill, George Lynch again and Tom Keifer/Jeff LeBar.

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

Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

Bob Halligan Jnr wrote the song, and he was becoming a go to guy for melodic rock songs. He wrote “(Take These) Chains” from 1982’s “Screaming for Vengeance”.

He wrote the whole “Midnite Dynamite” album for Kix plus he co-wrote their biggest hit “Don’t Close Your Eyes” from the “Blow My Fuse” album.

“Rock You” is a hard rock song written by Bob Halligan, Jr., and the first track from Helix’s 1984 album “Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge”. It is best known for its call and response of “Gimme an R, O, C, K.”

Kiss (aka Paul Stanley) also used him a fair bit as well throughout the 80’s with the songs “Rise To It” and “Read My Body” included on “Hot In The Shade” released in 1989.

Plus he wrote songs for a band called “Icon” and for one of my favorite melodic rock bands “Bonfire”.

But regardless of the writer it sounds like a Judas Priest track.

The way Tipton and Downing interpret the basic chord progression and add their own embellishments to it via single notes and artificial harmonics is the reason why it works. And when Halford sings, his signature voice connects it all together.

If the man with the power cant keep it under control
Some heads are gonna roll

So relevant today as it was back in the 70’s and 80’s. All of our male leaders have dick ego “Lord Farquhar” syndrome.

But the biggest problem that we have allowed to happen is the destruction of our environment. Nature is a balanced ecosystem and when species and trees become extinct in the quest of profit over progress, well its only a matter of time before we start to see evidence.

And we have been seeing signs since the 90s.

The power mad freaks who are ruling the Earth
Will show how little they think you’re worth

And these power mad freaks are not just the leaders in charge, they are also the giants in control of the biggest global corporations we have ever scene. And let’s not kid ourselves here.

The owners of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix or ex-owners like Bill Gates from Microsoft or Apple execs have their influence all over the current world we live in, along with the sheiks and various oil barons and the bankers.

But let’s not forget the current crop of Presidents and Prime Ministers in charge of democratic countries.

In the US, the President tweets information which exposes the Ukraine informer who had enough evidence to get the president in trouble and then threatens a few country’s on Twitter.

In Australia, the East Coast of the country is burning and the Prime Minister is looking for some work life-balance as he holidays in Hawaii in secret and then holds a $6 million fireworks display in Sydney to please the rich. To make it worse, he watches cricket and tells people to get on with it like generations did in the past. But in the past, the fires burned for a week and in some cases up to two weeks. These fires have been burning since September.

Yep from September.

In the UK, well, there is nothing to be said there. The stories all over the net paint a picture of those leaders if you read critically and from different sources.

I guess it’s time for some heads to roll from the political side. We all have a voice, use it wisely when you get to vote.

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

Experiences

When Zoltan Bathory was putting together a band in 2004, he had a vision to bring metal back to the masses. Like em or not, Five Finger Death Punch have been going full steam ahead since then.

And if you want to use the U.S RIAA certification as a metric of success the FFDP tick all the boxes.

Their debut album,‘The Way of the Fist’ released in 2007, is certified Gold in the U.S which means it has moved 500,000 units.

2009’s “War Is The Answer” is Platinum, having moved over a million units. Their cover of the song “Bad Company” is also Platinum. I guess you can’t keep a good song down.  

2011’s “American Capitalist” is also Platinum. 2013’s two album release, “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell” also have certifications. “Volume 1” is Platinum and” Volume 2” is Gold.

“Got Your Six” released in 2015 is Gold. The most recent album “And Justice For None”, released in 2018, is not far away from a Gold certification and neither is their 2017 best of release “A Decade Of Destruction”.

From the streaming side.

The song “Bad Company” has 144,342,692 streams on Spotify. “Wrong Side Of Heaven” has 166,262,954 streams. And other songs are also in the 100 million range like “Jekyll And Hyde” which has close to 142 million streams.  

On YouTube, the numbers are the same. The film clip from “Wrong Side Of Heaven” has 272 million views. “Wash It All Away” has 162 million views. “Bad Company” is at 109 million views. “Jekyll And Hyde” vide has 86 million views.

The house that Death Punch built is strong.

And FFDP is not the first band the guys were in. All of the guys had skin in the game. In some cases decades of skin.

So what does this tell us?

Inspiration doesn’t take place in a vacuum. All day long we are experiencing and quality doesn’t come with no prior experience. 

Our whole life is a database of information. Be ready to index it and then reference it. Use this database of life to create something better. Learn from the database of life and keep on creating.    

FFDP have found their signature voice and they are servicing their fan base. It is the fans that matter. They are the ones that give the band the chance to create and release albums. Not the record labels or the money that the labels throw at the band. The fans are king in the relationship. Without them, FFDP has nothing and neither does the record label.

Experiences are everything in music. It is the difference between making a connection with a fan or not making a connection.

FFDP have paid their dues and they have mined their lives for content.

And they didn’t quit.

And see you next year.

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