Great White began their career in the early 80’s with “Out Of The Night”. Then EMI signed em, released an album and didn’t really know what to do with the band, so they dropped em and then Capitol records got em on the books.
In 1987, “Once Bitten” their third album, got the platinum treatment and they went on tour in the U.S with Whitesnake. Then “Twice Shy” followed in 1989 and this led to more platinum sales and their own successful headline tour.
By 1991, most of the world was heading into recessions, and the hard rock public was getting a bit jaded with the same lyrical themes and sound-a-like chord progressions of hard rock. So “Hooked” didn’t really set the charts alight.
“Psycho City” came out in 1993, and by then band members had left, band members had marriages and divorces and illnesses. And hard rock was not a commercial force anymore, but bands who had success before, wanted the same success. And so did the record labels, but when this didn’t eventuate, it was goodbye to the record deal and hello to arguments within band members.
“Rock Me” came out at the same time as “Appetite For Destruction”, maybe it got lost in the noise, but it still got a lot of airplay in Australia, and I’m thinking its blues tinged hard rock definitely hit a note with the programmers and Australian audiences.
The bass boogie kicks it off.
The drums are simple, high hats for some time, slowly percolating until the right moment to explode in the chorus. And the guitars are just decorating, until it comes time for them to explode as well.
Rock me Rock me Roll me through the night
How good is the Chorus?
And when you think the song is about to finish, they pick it up and blast in to an outro solo for the last minute. At 7 minutes long, the blues boogie doesn’t gets boring.
Today, it has 7 million listens on Spotify and the 5 minute music video has 12 million views on YouTube. The song is forgotten compared to the numbers other songs have, but if you were alive during this period, it was a song from our youth.
Nirvana broke through in the early nineties and so did Mariah Carey.
But there is no one on the TV singing shows who wanted to be like Cobain. Hell no one even wanted to be like Halford, Jovi, Tyler or Coverdale and if they did, they didn’t last long except for James Durbin.
Everybody wanted to be Carey, Sheeran and for the ones who had the guts, to be their own self. And hard rock music never translated well to the TV screen. Everything sounds distant and small. And you don’t feel the energy, the thumping of the bass drum in your heart.
MTV cashed up the labels and the labels finally had the power. They could make or break a career in the same way Harvey Weinstein could. It used to pissed the labels off, how the artists would withhold music or not go in the studio when the label head requested it.
Artists signed deals, got the advance money, blew it on things, and then realised that they had to use that advance money for the recording. So the label gave them a little bit more, controlled the process, told them to keep on writing, racked up the bills and suddenly the artist is a million in debt before the first album is released and when a song became a hit, they also realised how they signed away their rights, when the signed on the dotted line.
All in the name of putting out a TEN INCH RECORD.
And I am thinking of Aerosmith right now.
If you got into the band in the 80’s because of the songs written with outside writers, then you would hate this little 12 bar bluesy and jazzy cut from “Toys In The Attic”. This is a track that diehard fans would know.
And the band kicked off their Grammy MusicCares performance with this song and the industry people thought Tyler was singing “suck on my big 10 inch”. That’s why I love rock and roll. The middle finger attitude.
Off to Spotify and I’m calling up “Toys In The Attic”.
The war was on, as rock bands, especially hard rock bands who got classed as hair bands started to fight for survival against the flannelette armies of Seattle and the changing A&R personnel at the labels who wanted to cash in on the Seattle tide.
To understand how quickly the support for hard rock music was abandoned, White Lion was given a million bucks to record “Mane Attraction” and after it was released, some more money was spent on a few music videos and the album didn’t set the charts alight and when the band decided to call it quits, there was nothing from the label. Not even a phone call. Except for Vito, who got an offer for a new project, but after demoing some material, the offer also disappeared.
But there was rock music. It wasn’t as polished as some of mid 80’s albums, but the roots of this rock music was with the classic 70’s.
Number 1 Remedy The Black Crowes are still at Number 1. The chorus lyrical message of looking for a remedy to fix our worries resonated with everyone on the planet old enough to remember this song, even though the verse lyrics are pretty silly about a dead bird from the window sill and why can’t his girl sit still.
And their Grateful Dead jam ethic had them record this album over a weekend, and you can hear the fun and the love in the notes and the space and the performances.
Number 2 Under The Bridge The Jimi Hendrix influenced guitar intro got a lot of people, like me, interested and the lyrical message of addiction and homelessness under an catchy vocal melody, took this song to the top. Actually, it took me a while to get used to the voice of Anthony Kiedis and I’m glad I did.
By the way, John Frusciante is also another underrated guitar hero. You don’t need to play solos with your head looking at the heavens to be a good guitarist. You need to be able to write riffs, memorable ones at that, and this dude could do that with the Peppers.
Both of the songs have gospel like backing vocals, which enhance em nicely.
Number 3 Road To Nowhere Ozzy and Zak are still riding high on the back of the “No More Tears” album, with their Southern Rock anthem sitting pretty. I like this song more than “Mama I’m Coming Home”. The opening arpeggios and Zack’s pentatonic Skynyrd solo is brilliant.
And those opening lines;
When I was looking back on my life And all things I done to me
If we just did the same abuse to someone else’s body that we gave to our own bodies, we would be locked up as it would be borderline criminal.
The wreckage of my past keeps haunting me It just won’t leave me alone
Sometimes our past deeds supersede our current deeds. There is no redemption from them, even though people say there is.
Because it’s impossible to be liked by all.
And for the haters and the ones who believe they were wronged, the past is never forgotten.
Number 4 Make Love Like A Man It’s not the best Def Leppard track, but they had enough goodwill because of their first four albums that we still gave them a lot of love for “Adrenalize”.
I think they tried to re-write “Pour Some Sugar On Me” with this one.
Musically the song works, but I can’t say I am a fan of the lyrics. But then again Def Leppard was allowed to get away with this kind of cheesiness because of the first four albums.
Number 5 Sting Me To show how powerful a jam album became in the charts, The Black Crows have another song in the Top 5.
The album showcases a band in love with the blues, grooving and jamming their way to the top of the charts and our minds and our hearts.
And it also shows an audience who was sick of the over polished sounds of hard rock and the generic sound-a-likes.
If you feel like a riot, then don’t you deny it Put your good foot forward No need for heroics I just want you to show it Now’s the time to shine
I have no idea what the overall song is about, but the opening four lines connected immediately especially the call and response vocal line, where Chris Robinson sings the first and third lines and the backing singers sing the second and the fourth lines.
And that verse riff which moves between the G chord, to the F, to the C and back to the G chord is excellent, as it doesn’t follow the usual power chord route, and instead it moves along with single notes and arpeggios.
Number 6 Living In A Dream Arc Angels They made no dent in Australia.
Which was strange for a Geffen act, as Geffen was renowned for its scorched earth marketing policy.
Especially for a group that was sort of like a super group. It had two individual guitarists/singers fronting who had decent solo careers and the rhythm section of SRV’s “Double Trouble”.
This song has that “When The Levee Breaks” feel in the music and of course, the singing is a cross between Robert Plant and Chris Robinson.
Number 7 Come As You Are Another Geffen act, Nirvana already smashed the charts with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and they starting coming for a little bit more.
For me, it’s that dropped D, chromatic riff, over a ringing A pedal point which sets the ominous feel.
Number 8 57 Channels And Nothing On Bruce Springsteen
I’m not a fan of the song, but I do like the message, that we pay to surround ourselves with crap.
The song starts off with two people buying a large place in the Hollywood Hills and connecting a Pay TV service to the house.
I know when I had my Pay TV subscription, I would scroll through the “scheduled” programming and I couldn’t watch anything.
Imagine if I had the choice to select what I could watch, instead of waiting for the allocated timeslot. But innovation was too hard for the Pay TV corporations and then they cried foul, when Netflix came and blew away their business model.
Number 9 Life Is A Highway Tom Cochrane won big with this song. He is still doing victory laps from it, as it’s licensed everywhere from commercials to movies to TV shows.
When I googled “life is a highway lyrics”, it came up with the Rascal Flatts version.
What happened to Tom Cochrane?
Life’s like a road that you travel on When there’s one day here and the next day gone
No road trip is ever the same and no day you live is ever the same. What is certain, is that the day comes and then it goes. You can’t get it back.
Life is a highway I want to ride it all night long
It was the message of freedom. That is what getting a drivers licence meant. A ticket to travel wherever you wanted to.
Number 10 Even Flow I didn’t like “Alive” and “Even Flow” in the beginning. For me, “Jeremy” and “Black” sealed the deal. Afterwards I went back to listen to the other songs.
But that was many years later.
Number 11 Girlfriend Matthew Sweet I’m not a fan.
Number 12 Now More Than Ever John Mellencamp
The song is nothing like the classic Mellencamp songs, but the message in the lyrics resonate. And people were looking for these kind of messages.
If you believe Won’t you please raise your hands Let’s hear your voices Let us know where you stand
Remember when artists used to take stands on issues, like Dee Snider standing against the PMRC and censorship. In the process, he got ostracised by the metal community for being a glory seeker.
And MTV cashed up the labels, and the labels used that cash to sway the artists and in the process, the artists became further slaves to the machine. The days of Roger Waters or Jim Morrison, telling the label to go and shove it, became a page in history.
Now more than ever The world needs love
This was relevant back in 1992 and 28 years later, it’s still relevant today. I am working from home because of COVID-19.
I’m not panic buying and I’m trying to do my best to help. But I put on the news and I’m not seeing the same.
Now more than ever I can’t stand alone
We live in tribes. No one wants to be ostracised. So that scaffold support network is super important. And we need to remember that others feel the same way, so you are not alone.
Number 13 Tangled In The Web Lynch Mob
This song is one of George Lynch’s best songs.
His guitar tone, which isn’t as heavily distorted like his Dokken days, is quality, the Gm riff is bone crunching and swingy at the same time and those brass instruments just add to the quality.
And Keith Olsen (RIP) did a stellar job in the production, even bringing in the brass instruments.
Number 14 Make You A Believer Sass Jordan It made no dent on the Australian charts and the first time I heard this song was today, when I put it on the Spotify playlist.
Number 15 Love Is Alive Joe Cocker His abrasive yet melodic vocals are really good and this bluesy rocker works.
You can see quite a few songs on this list have lyrical messages of love, loving each other, finding love and what we need is a little bit of love to share around and make the world a better place.
Number 16 One U2 This is a big song and the way “The Edge” just keeps decorating the song is brilliant.
Plus Bono with his vocal melody and the message of one life, one love and how we need to care for it, share it and make the world a better place.
Number 17 What You Give It aint whatcha give, it’s how you live is the catchcry here. And Tesla was on their way to another successful album and tour, against the grain of the market forces.
Number 18 Every Time I Roll The Dice Delbert McClinton
Never heard of Delbert, but his derivative version of “Old Time Rock’N’Roll” which is also a derivative version of standard blues is cool to listen to.
Number 19 Mama Im Coming Come Ozzy Osbourne I really like the music written by Zak Wylde here. That whole Southern Rock crossover with Heavy Metal works and Lemmy really nailed the lyrics on this one.
Plus did I mention that the guitar solo is pretty awesome.
Number 20 You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come Vince Neil What does Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades and Vince Neil have in common?
It’s a killer song title, as good as “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “I Love Rock And Roll” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. And the song is probably the best Motley Crue song that wasn’t written and released by Motley Crue that featured Vince Neil on vocals in the 90’s. Then again, I am a fan of “Primal Scream” and “Angela”.
It pisses me off that “The Great Radio Controversy” has been removed from Spotify Australia but “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights” is still available via the “Gold” compilation album. But so many other good songs are not available.
How good is the intro?
It’s a simply Amadd9 to Cmaj7 chord progression over a static and ringing fretted E and open B note. It sounds heavy, because of its dirgey groove. Bands like Alice In Chains built a career with grooves like these.
I’m feelin’ so much better, but not quite feelin’ fine
We are unique creatures. overwhelmed by choice. The internet keeps us connected forever. We see a feed or a post on social media and we think someone is having or living a better life than us. So we sit down, set goals for ourselves and we feel great. And then we achieve what we set out to do and then set new goals. The cycle keeps repeating and we think we are so much better, but we still feel a bit uneasy.
Now, I’ve got to get my shit together,
Do we ever get our act together?
We like to think so, but in reality all we do is replace one thing with another. One paid debt is replaced by another. One relationship is superseded or replaced by another. One addiction is replaced by another. Knowledge we accumulated 10 years ago is replaced by new knowledge from now.
Then the Chorus riff rolls around and it’s a 101 lesson in how to write hard rock riffs, as it boogies between the A to G notes that so many songs of the era used.
But I love those lazy days and crazy nights, It’s my way, it’s my life.
I like the night. I am in my element and I feel creative when night rolls around. When I was unemployed, I used to sleep in. It’s why Slaughter’s “Up All Night” resonated with me.
The problem for me now, is that my days are not so lazy anymore. They are so crazy that my nights start to become a snooze fest because of tiredness. Getting older it’s more like “crazy days and sleepy nights, it’s my way, it’s my life”.
Regardless, hearing those lines when I was younger, it made me want to sing-along and scream those words at the top of my lungs.
I love those lazy days and crazy nights, It’s my way, it’s my life.
I have been a bit slack on “The Record Vault” posts because I got stuck on my large catalogue of Bon Jovi releases ranging from cassettes, vinyl LP, 7-inch singles, CD’s, box sets and now finally DVD’s.
“Crossroad” got a special re-release, years later, like a mini box set. We got the normal “Crossroad” CD album, a second CD of “B sides and Rarities” which is always cool and a DVD of the band “Live In London”. The “Live In London” was on the “These Days” tour and the band as usual, is firing on all cylinders.
“The Crush Tour” DVD is a band in prime form. I’ve watched this so many times and the Czech fans are in fine form as well, giving the football stadium a bounce and a sing-a-long.
“The Inside Story” is one of those bootleg style releases to cash in on the Bon Jovi phenomenon. I don’t even remember much of it.
“This Left Feels Right – Live” is a great accompaniment to the CD release. I think Richie Sambora really came to the party on this album and enjoyed doing these acoustic re-interpretations of their songs, plus you get a couple of originals thrown in as well.
“Live At Madison Square Garden” was a massive eye opener for me, because the viewer got the chance to see how a band (which is now structured as a corporation) operates and works. JBJ as the CEO is trying to get a stake in an NFL team and working out logistics about shows and tours.
And a lot of bands have this kind of CEO set up now. Which is about time that the power returns to the artist, because it is the artist who makes the connection with the fan.
We have all read the stories and formed stories ourselves about how grunge came along and replaced hard rock, hair bands, glam rock, glam metal and metal in general. But it never did really replace it. The major record labels abandoned most of the rock and metal acts who had marginal success, so from a commercial sense, hard rock and metal music was absent from the mainstream. But it was still there.
A long time ago, Led Zeppelin was seen as a heavy metal act and Black Sabbath was even more extreme. Today, Sabbath’s sound is like Playschool compared to what other metal bands sound like. But there was a period when rock did dominate.
And Guns N Roses via “Appetite For Destruction” gave rock music a few more years of mainstream success, because the labels had already saturated the market with Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Ratt and Poison copy like bands. Up next, the labels started signing Guns N Roses copy like bands, like Skin N Bones.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the hit, but every GnR fan loves “Paradise City”. It’s the closer of Side 1, when sequencing vinyl records was an art form in itself. Each side had to open with an awesome cut, and close with an awesome cut.
GNR had been gigging for a while around L.A, via Hollywood Rose and the other bands the members were in before GnR became a band. Slash even auditioned for Poison and Stryper during these periods. But there was hype and then a record deal and then the album eventually came out.
It wasn’t a failure, but it didn’t set the sales and charts alight from the outset.
Then MTV played “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. And the album got a second wind, sort of like how “Hysteria” got a second wind on the back of “Love Bites”.
“Welcome To The Jungle” came back into the charts, and then the seven minute live video of “Paradise City” dropped, with Axl in the white jacket which Lars Ulrich got a few years later and James Hetfield kept hassling him about it.
Anyway back to the paradise city where the girls are pretty. The opening arpeggio chords of G, C, F, C – G of the song with the “We Will Rock You” influenced drum pattern gets your attention immediately. When Slash starts that Em Pentatonic solo, you can only smile, and you’re thinking it’s this Southern Rock style of song.
Then the whistle blows.
And all hell breaks loose.
That Chromatic riff that comes in is bone crunching and head banging material. Wikipedia tells me it’s based on “Zero The Hero” from the Black Gillan album “Born Again”.
If that riff was in a Slayer or Machine Head or Metallica song, it would be circle pit time. And those descriptive storybook lyrics set the scene so nicely.
Just a urchin livin’ under the street, I’m a hard case that’s tough to beat
I’m your charity case so buy me something to eat, I’ll pay you at another time
“Welcome To The Jungle” part 2. It’s the same theme, coming to the Sunset Strip, looking for people to hook up with, especially women, who would look after you. Motley Crue did the same.
Rags to riches or so they say, Ya gotta keep pushin’ for the fortune and fame
So many pushed for fortune and fame, but only so few made it. And the ones who made it, didn’t end up staying there for long. Only for a brief moment. But for that moment, they ruled.
And then the song gets even crazier with its double time ending,
Slash soloing and Steve Adler basically breaking his drum kit in the process.
And this song was released as a single in 1989, almost two years after the album was released. If you needed evidence of the power of this album, then look no further than this single release.
Take me back to the paradise city, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.
Once Sebastian Bach joined, a bidding war happened between Geffen Records and Atlantic. Geffen wanted a Bon Jovi act and Atlantic wanted a Guns N’ Roses act. And these two labels were in an East vs West Coast war. Geffen even brought in a producer who said that “18 and Life” and “Makin’ A Mess” should be kept and songs like “Youth Gone Wild” and “I Remember You” should be scrapped. Doc McGhee wanted them to go with Geffen. Everything pointed towards to Geffen except for the guys in the band especially Rachel Bolan.
Atlantic A&R guru Jason Flom had been following the band for a while and increased the Atlantic offer at the last minute.
Both labels saw “18 And Life” as a quality song. A serious subject matter, so far removed from the romantic vibes of “I Remember You” and the rebellious “stand your ground” anthem “Youth Gone Wild”.
The video dominated MTV in the US but not so much in Australia. The fans made this a cult favourite.
The C#m arpeggios in the intro, moving to an A and B chord got me interested. If you’ve watched Skid Row live (the Bach led version that is), they extend this intro, with a pretty kicking lead break from Scotti Hill. Actually, Jorn did a cover of Don Henley’s “New York Minute” and the intro sounds like the live version of “18 And Life” that I remember.
And Skid Row is becoming forgotten.
When I googled “18 and Life lyrics” it came up with the lyrics for the song and the artist was listed as “Asking Alexandria”. So whatever issue, Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo have with Sebastian Bach, its leading their band into irrelevance and into the history pages of the internet. Because come on, one of their biggest songs doesn’t come up listed to them, but to a band who covered it.
Ricky was a young boy, he had a heart of stone
Lived nine to five and worked his fingers to the bone
It summed up most of the kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s (when I started working). I remember getting my first wages and I felt like I was on top of the world. But at that time I was still living with my parents and social reality hadn’t hit me yet. And I didn’t have a heart of stone. I cared for my family and friends. But I knew people who were just like Ricky.
Fought like a switchblade so no one could take him down
You all know how a blade just explodes out/pops out when a button is pushed. Well imagine a human just losing control like that. Joe Pesci in “Goodfellas” sums up this kind of action. I knew a few people like that, always getting into fights from out of nowhere.
And he fought the world alone
No one is alone. For every feeling a person has like this, remember there are people out there that feel like you and there are people out there that care for you. Talk to em.
Tequila in his heartbeat
His veins burned gasoline
It kept his motor runnin’
But he never kept it clean
You can interchange tequila with any other alcoholic beverage. Drinking whiskey makes me jump out of moving cars. I’m Superman.
He married trouble
Had a courtship with a gun
I don’t think I have met a person who doesn’t love adventure. But adventure which leads to mischief and trouble, could be cool while you are young, but as you grow up, it could be dangerous and deadly. And in Australia, we don’t have a law that gives us the right to bear arms to protect our property, so our courtship with a gun isn’t as strong as it is, in other countries.
He fired his six-shot to the wind
That child blew a child away
Accidents happen, but a life lost is a life lost.
The lead break and that outro arpeggio riff (with the lead break as well) are my favourite pieces to play on the guitar, along with the intro guitar arpeggio riff.