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

1996 – Part 5.6: Yngwie Malmsteen – Inspiration

After battling to make a name for himself on the small Polydor label, Yngwie Malmsteen finally got the big label deal in 1992 with the release of “Fire And Ice” on Elektra. While the album did great business in the Japanese and Eastern/Northern Europe market, it failed in the U.S.

The million plus dollar advance from the label was classed as “unable to be recouped” and he was dropped from Elektra.

One door closes another one opens. A Japanese company called Pony Canyon signed Malmsteen. “The Seventh Sign” came out in 1994, achieving a Platinum certification in Japan, followed by “Magnum Opus” in 1995 which received a Gold Certification in Japan.

“Inspiration” is the ninth studio album by guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, released on 14 October 1996.

Malmsteen was back to releasing an album a year, in order to remain relevant and in the public conversation during the hostile 90s. If he didn’t do that, obscurity was not too far away. Artists these days whinge about Spotify and how they believe that the service is making them release constant product. It’s not the service, it’s the market. The market demands constant product. It always did.

Yngwie Malmsteen on guitars/bass and Anders Johansson on drums play on every track. The rest is a cast of artists like Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Lynn Turner, Marcel Jacob and various keyboard players.

Carry On Wayward Son

Written by Kerry Livgren.

It shows the reach Kansas had, so that a kid from Sweden would consider the band as an influence.

Jeff Scott Soto is on vocals here and his Talisman buddy, Marcel Jacob is on bass. David Rosenthal is on keyboards. During this same period, Malmsteen also appeared on a Talisman release. A sort of, “scratch my back and I will scratch yours” type of agreement.

Malmsteen makes the song sound like an over-indulgent Malmsteen song with his over the top soloing on any part of the song that doesn’t have vocals.

Pictures of Home

It wouldn’t be an influence album for Malmsteen if there was no Ritchie Blackmore. Malmsteen’s poses and looks are straight from “The Look Of Blackmore”. This is the first of four Blackmore songs. Joe Lynn Turner is on vocals here, who also sang on Malmsteen’s most successful album “Odyssey”. Mats Olausson is on the keys.

The lead breaks are Malmsteen lead breaks full of legato runs and of course, sweep picking. A lot of sweep picking.

Gates of Babylon

From Rainbow and Jeff Scott Soto is on vocals here. His voice and tone is perfect for the song. David Rosenthal plays the keys here.

The song would not be out of place on a Malmsteen album. The riffs are already what Malmsteen plays and as soon as he throws in his sweep picking and fast classical legato lines, it’s basically a Malmsteen song.

Manic Depression

From Jimi Hendrix and like his idol, Malmsteen is on lead vocals. I suppose for all the shredding, Malmsteen doesn’t get credit for being a pretty crazy blues player. Vocally, he doesn’t have the swagger of Hendrix.

In the Dead of Night

From the band U.K., the song is written by Eddie Jobson and John Wetton. Mark Boals is on lead vocals here with Jens Johansson on keyboards. And for those who don’t know John Wetton, he’s appeared in King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash and Asia.

But the reason why this track is here is due to Allan Holdsworth being the guitarist. Holdsworth was an unknown name to me until Eddie Van Halen started mentioning him in his interviews in the mid 80’s, which led me to seek out his solo recordings.

Ty Tabor also mentioned in an interview (which can be found on the Wikipedia entry of the U.K album) that the self-titled U.K album is in his “5 Essential Guitar Albums” list, stating that he “had never heard anybody think about playing guitar the way that Holdsworth plays on that record.”

Holdsworth never got mainstream attention. Producers and label heads called his music “without direction”, however to guitarists he was like a god.

You can hear the melodic rock side of Malmsteen here with a bit of progressiveness and how songs like “You Don’t Remember” and “Judas” with the keys and guitars playing great riffs that complement each other.

The solo break groove is excellent, however Malmsteen this time is just too much on the speed, and it just doesn’t fit the groove.

Press play on this track first.

Mistreated

From the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple.

This is the third Blackmore track to appear on this.

Would Malmsteen have covered this, knowing that Coverdale wrote the main riff?

Regardless, the song is perfect for soloing and Malmsteen uses that opportunity to do just that. But if I had to pick a cover version, it is the Whitesnake version with Reb Beach soloing. That solo just hits all the right notes.

Jeff Scott Soto is on vocals here with Mats Olausson on keyboards.

On this version, press play to hear the solo that comes in at the 4.20 minute mark. Malmsteen harmonises, its bluesy like “Still Got The Blues” and I like it.

Also stick around for the ending. It’s excellent. Soto really shines here, as he adds in backing vocals that sound like Gospel vocals and while they are happening he is ad libbing his main vocal while Malmsteen is throwing every lick he knows to the Master Tape.

The Sails of Charon

Another guitar player that influenced Malmsteen heavily was Uli Jon Roth, so it’s no surprise that his most classical sounding metal song with the Scorpions is covered.

Mark Boals is on lead vocals here and does a great job on the vocals, however Malmsteen just solo’s way too much here.

Demon’s Eye

Joe Lynn Turner is on vocals here with Jens Johansson on keyboards. I like how Malmsteen included bluesy Deep Purple here and still added his classical licks with bluesy Chuck Berry’isms.

Anthem

From Rush and Mark Boals sizzles on lead vocals here.

The pace of this song screams energy and I like it. And goddamn it sounds so heavy.

Child in Time

Mark Boals does an excellent job on lead vocals again with David Rosenthal on the keys.

The keys actually take the lead here (i.e. they basically sound like Malmsteen is playing them), carrying the intro and verses. Malmsteen cranks in right when the ohh’s start.

Overall there are six main guitarists that serve as inspiration to Malmsteen. Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Uli Jon Roth. Alex Lifeson, Kerry Livgren and Alan Holdsworth. Pretty cool inspirations if you ask me.

While the massive North American market still had its back turned to Malmsteen along with the U.K and parts of Western Europe, the Japanese, Scandinavian Countries and Eastern Europe markets kept sustaining him.

If you want to hear two songs from this album, press play on “In The Dead Of Night” and “Mistreated”.

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1996 – Part 5.5: Stabbing Westward – Wither Blister Burn & Peel

It was their 2001 self-titled album that made me a fan and I went backwards. “Darkest Days” was consumed next and then “Whither Blister Burn & Peel”.

Before writing started for this album, main songwriter and guitarist Stuart Zechman departed the band after the “Ungod” tour due to “personal differences”.

So the band for this album is Christopher Hall on lead vocals, guitar and drum machine programming. Jim Sellers is on bass and guitar. Walter Flakus is on keyboards and programming. Andy Kubiszewski is on drums, guitar and keyboards.

Kubiszewski was actually new as well, and when it came to song writing for this album, he played the band dozens of demos he did. Songs like “What Do I Have to Do?”, “Haunting Me,” “Sometimes It Hurts,” “Crushing Me,” “Slipping Away,” “Desperate Now,” and “Goodbye.” These song would appear on this album and the “Darkest Days” albums.

The band thought about finding another guitarist however they went into the studio without any guitar player and decided to play the guitar parts themselves with Sellers and Kubiszewski taking on most of the guitar duties.

I Don’t Believe

Any song that starts off with the words “I’m such an asshole” and “I just keep fucking up” means business. While rooted in the Industrial sounds of NIN, it has a certain arena rock vibe when the Chorus kicks in which the hook “I don’t believe I could be so stupid and naïve”.

Shame

The big song from the album. The intro riff is infectious, instantly making me pick up the guitar to learn it.

What Do I Have to Do?

The electronic keys riff with the sound effects is unusual and I like it. My favourite song, which shows a real rock vocal.

Press play to hear how the second verse riff crashes in. Brilliant.

And the hook, is so desperate with the words, “what do I have to do if you don’t want me”

Why

The main music is sound effects, electronics and the keys providing a riff. It all feels so desolate and haunting. But I like it.

Why can’t you see that everything is broken?

These kind of artists got blasted by rock audiences at the grim nature of their lyrics, but as a fan of metal bands and thrash metal in particular, these kind of lyrics are nothing new. All of our heroes have fears and doubts.

Inside You

It’s like soundtrack music with a vocal melody over it.

Falls Apart

The album does fall apart with this song. It has a Ministry like riff which starts off the song full of energy, however the verses really let it down.

So Wrong

This could be on a metal album or a rock album and it wouldn’t be out of place because of the main riff.

Actually Fates Warning have a similar song on their “Disconnect” album from 2000.

Crushing Me

It’s like a long lost song from Kurt Cobain. Press play and check out the intro riff. But there are a lot of sections with sound effects, electronics and keys which just take away the good from the intro riff.

Sleep

There is a cool riff in this song, but you would need to listen through a lot of soundscapes and electronics. But when it comes it around the 2.10 mark, it’s worth the wait.

Slipping Away

This one just slipped away from me as the title states, with too much electronica.

The album was a success and supported by the singles “Shame” and “What Do I Have to Do?” they got themselves a Gold certification in the U.S and some heavy MTV rotation. The band also recruited Mark Eliopulos to handle the live element of the main guitar parts.

This is how it was for me between 1995 to about 2005. I would buy an album from a hard rock band I knew and I would be buying albums from so many different artists that looked like they had distorted guitars and played something that could be influenced by metal and rock bands.

I was just looking for something to get into it.

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Australian Method Series: Airbourne – Boneshaker

The method is simple.

Listen to an AC/DC album and write songs that have the vibe from that album. It’s been “Airbourne’s” template for the first four albums, so why change it for album number five.

But on the album, I would like to add a few other Australian bands like Rose Tattoo, Screaming Jets and The Angels to that list of influences.

“Boneshaker” was released on 25 October 2019, produced by Dave Cobb which was a surprise choice, considering his big production credits involve Chris Stapleton and “The Star Is Born” soundtrack. But the band wanted to work with Cobb based on an album he did for a small obscure band called “Black Robot”. Check out their 2009 album to hear a pretty cool slab of AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Airbourne is still underpinned by brothers Joel O’Keefe on Vocals/Lead Guitar and Ryan O’Keefe on drums. Justin Street is on bass and new dude Matthew Harrison is on guitar.

Boneshaker

This track wouldn’t be out of place on an early Y&T album. Maybe because they have the lyric, “Earthshaker” after “Boneshaker”.

Burnout the Nitro

It has a country twang to it, but played through a distorted amp, in sounds rock and roll.

“Racing down the highway” instantly brings back memories of “Long Way To The Top”. And that’s basically the vibe of the song, a cross between “Long Way”, “Shoot To Thrill”, “Let There Be Rock” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. If you are going to be influenced by AC/DC, you might as well be influenced by some of their biggest songs.

This Is Our City

“This is our city, lets rock and roll”. And the live show is summed up in a simple line.

Sex To Go

Great title and perfect for the fast paced social media lives we live in. At 2 minutes and 34 seconds, it’s probably just enough time to have fast food take away sex. And how can you not go past a lyric like “all I want is your apple pie”.

In the words of Sammy Hagar in “Good Enough”, I’ll have some of that.

Backseat Boogie

“Long Way To The Top” makes another comeback. And I like it

Blood In The Water

A groovy “Whole Lotta Rosie”.

She Gives Me Hell

Being on the wrong side of a toxic relationship sets up the lyrical foundation over a musical influence from “Highway To Hell”.

Switchblade Angel

The speed rock and roll is back and I like it.

Weapon Of War

The slow blues grit and groove is back for a song about war vets.

Rock ‘n’ Roll For Life

The fast “Let There Be Rock” vibe is back.

Rock and Roll along with all things Metal is a life style. Once you are in. you are always in. You might dabble in other genres but you’ll always come back. Because Rock N Roll is for life.

After 30 minutes and 36 seconds the album is over like fast food. Music on the go. Concise and straight to the point, there is no confusion as to what Airbourne is. A highly efficient and lean rock and roll band.

With no ballads.

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Less Than One Percent

If an artist released an album and it sold a million copies in the U.S, it would be given a Platinum award, but it only reached less than 1% of the U.S population, never mind the world. 99.9% of the population are ignoring the release, yet it is this commercial acceptance that artists try to chase.

Instead of chasing everyone, try to reach someone.

Inspired by this post at Seth Godin’s blog.

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Music

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – July 26 to July 31

It was a pretty dismal posting effort this time around 4 years ago and 8 years ago on the site.

So this history post is short and sweet.

4 Years Ago (2018)

What comes first when creating, the words or the music?

The answer really is, “listening to the words and music of other artists”, however it’s rarely said for fear of a court case. It didn’t used to be this way. Artists would gladly share which artists influenced them.

Being inspired by other artists, story tellers and sounds is how we learn. From the day we are born, we are listening to the sounds of voices and learn how to talk from them. We watch people walk and decide to try it ourselves. We basically copy what others do. But when big business gets involved and hijacks a law designed to protect artists, well this isn’t what Copyright should be and it shouldn’t be up to any court to decide.

7 notes in a scale or 12 notes including chromatics. 20 million songs released in a day.

Any musician starting out learns to play the songs of others before writing their own. This builds their style and forms a large part of their song writing. Artists do not operate in a vacuum. They assimilate what is happening around them. They create because they want to create. It’s a human need that needs to be satisfied within. No artist sits down and says to themselves, “geez, lucky for me that Copyright law lasts for my life plus 70 years after my death, so I have an incentive to create.”

However, the recording industry constantly spews the same rhetoric about the need for stronger copyright enforcement and longer copyright terms, because they still believe that piracy is killing the industry and if there is stronger copyright enforcement, then artists will get paid, and if artists get paid, more art will be created.

Are they serious?

The true purpose of copyright, is the progress of arts and science.

And while piracy ran rampant, and recording industry revenues went down, there was still plenty of creative output. Artists create because they want to create.

And for getting paid, if you have some traction and are not seeing any coin, redo your contracts with the middle parties. Otherwise if you are an artist who has no traction, obscurity is your enemy, so keep on creating.

More money actually leads to less creative output. Jimmy Page as an owner of all things Led Zep is a perfect example. Look at his recorded output since Led Zeppelin finished up compared to Robert Plant.

8 Years Ago (2014)

I was in Europe during this period, so no posting was happening.

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1996 – Part 5.4: Accept – Predator

Accept in the 90’s didn’t exist for me. It wasn’t until 2008/09 that I started to re-listen to Accept and check out their 90’s output.

But the big problem with anything to do with the 90’s was confusion. The 90’s just kept striking out 80’s bands because they felt lost and didn’t know how to fit in. Gone was the label support and the people left around just didn’t know what to do.

If you don’t believe me, press play on Dio’s “Angry Machines” or Dokken’s “Shadowlife” or “Generation Swine” by Motley Crue. Confused. Yep, so was Ronnie and Don and Nikki/Tommy.

And as a fan of hard rock and heavy metal music, I was even more confused why these popular 80s bands couldn’t keep on releasing great albums in the 90’s.

On this album, Accept is mainly staying true to their roots. They have incorporated some 90’s groove and sounds and a little bit of 70’s Scorpions, however their sound is still AC/DC meets Judas Priest.

I read some of the reviews of this album recently and man, people don’t like it. I can hear why people would hate this album as there are musical elements on this album that can be classed as “what the” moments. But this album shows a band trying to survive in a hostile musical climate towards them. And it didn’t matter to me what new musical element they brought in, as it still sounds like Accept and it still sounds like Metal.

So “Predator” is studio album 11, released in 1996. It was produced by Michael Wagener and it is their last recording with singer Udo Dirkschneider.

Joining Udo here is the great Wolf Hoffmann on guitars, Peter Baltes on bass and drums are played by Michael Cartellone, fresh from his Damn Yankees gig.

Hard Attack

This is Accept doing AC/DC and I like it. A lot.

Crossroads

A head banging riff like “Balls To The Wall” underpins this song.

Baltes and Udo do lead vocals on this and the vocals of Baltes just don’t work for me here.

There is also this country like open sting lick played between the Chorus and Verse which I like.

Making Me Scream

This song has a 90’s alternative metal groove as the rhythm, however the exotic lead over it makes it classic Accept.

You could almost say it’s like the embryo of “Black Label Society”. The heaviness also reminds me of the self-titled Motley Crue album.

Diggin’ in the Dirt

Remember that song “Three Little Pigs”, well it reminds me of that. It has a similar vibe.

Lay It Down

The music on this song is excellent.

Baltes does the lead vocals here and he does a great job.

The Chorus is a rocker and anthemic.

There is no way that Zakk Wylde can say he never heard this song, because it so Black Label Society and that band was a few years away, however Zakk had created his embryonic incarnation with “Pride And Glory”.

If this song doesn’t make you bang your head, check for a pulse.

It Ain’t Over Yet

Baltes does the lead vocals again on this sleazy rocker.

Predator

I’m not a fan of this song at all.

Crucified

Its speed metal, old school and I love it. Just press play to hear the wah riff between 1.08 and 1.12. It’s only four seconds but its excellent.

And the lead break is classic Hoffmann. Press play on that as well.

Take Out the Crime

The love for AC/DC is back here.

Don’t Give a Damn

And you get to hear AC/DC again. And I like it.

Run Through the Night

The intro riff reminds me of “Aint Talking Bout Love” from Van Halen. Press play to hear how a derivative riff is created.

Primitive

The drums sound like they belong on a Gloria Estefan or Janet Jackson album. The song “Black Cat” comes to mind. Baltes does the lead vocals here, but the song is a skip for me. A terrible way to end the album.

“Predator” was the last Accept album for 14-years. Udo would never return.

But I feel they are bigger now than they’ve ever been. “Blood Of The Nations” came first in 2010 and each release afterwards has built on their return.

Mark Tornillo on vocals is excellent and a perfect song writing partner for Wolf Hoffmann. That’s not to say that others didn’t contribute. Bassist Peter Baltes was also a song writing partner while he was in the band and new bassist Martin Motnik contributes along with long time lyricist Deaffy, otherwise known as Gaby Hoffmann.

While hated, do yourself a favour and check out songs like “Hard Attack”, “Crossroads”, “Lay it Down” and “Crucified”. From there you can make up your own mind.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Once In A Livetime

“Once in a LIVEtime” was released in 1998.

This would start a trend with Dream Theater that after each studio album, a live album would follow from the tour. Kevin Shirley was on hand to produce and record it. But Shirley was stressed as he only had two days to mix and fix it. In the book “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Shirley mentioned that on this live album there were a lot of fixes.

The show was recorded at the Bataclan Theater in Paris however the tour began September 1997 in Brazil. And before it even started, they had to get new management. Remember the manager who won the battle to remain manager, well he left. He wasn’t feeling it anymore. The management team that came in proved so much worse. The band was lost and needed direction. These new guys didn’t provide it, but they had no problem spending money. And when the band fired them the managers sued em.

Furthermore, Petrucci and Portnoy were at loggerheads. Portnoy still had a chip on his shoulder over Petrucci choosing to go with Shirley’s ideas and the disagreements they had over which manager would get the gig. During the tour, Portnoy even fired Petrucci’s guitar tech, which didn’t go down well with Petrucci.

Portnoy also announced to the band that he is quitting once the tour is finished. So in retrospect this live album could have been the last official release.

The album cover, one of two designed by Storm Thorgerson for the band, shows an overhead view of the ancient Roman theatre in Orange, France set into a head of a monk. Like “Falling into Infinity” it does not feature the band’s word mark due to Storm’s demand who sees logos as ugly.

This would also be the last album to feature Derek Sherinian on keyboards as his short tenure in the band would come to an end.

A Change of Seasons I: The Crimson Sunrise

So from a concert perspective, they split “A Change Of Seasons” into its separate parts and scattered them throughout the concert.

The acoustic intro gets the crowd singing along, ala Maiden like. Trust the Europeans (and the South Americans) to give a concert a football (soccer) like atmosphere. As soon as the band kicks in, its heavy and precise.

A Change of Seasons II: Innocence

They move into part 2 effortlessly. LaBrie is strained but does a great job. He’s a professional. Sometimes singers have 10 from 10 performances and some days they have 7 from 10. It’s still a good performance.

Puppies on Acid

Is basically “The Mirror” and a bit of “Lie” from the “Awake” album combined to serve as a segue into “Just Let Me Breathe”. Strange choice.

Just Let Me Breathe

From the “Falling To Infinity” album.

The song is great musically. I’m not a super fan of the vocal melodies, but I do like how they had the balls to try melodies like that.

Voices

One of my favourite tracks from the “Awake” album.

Press play to hear the intro, the way the Chorus crashes in musically and the excellent Petrucci solo. If anything, Petrucci’s playing live is even better than the studio recordings. He’s so precise, yet he still creates room for some improvisation. And that my friends is the meaning of a great musician.

LaBrie unfortunately is difficult to listen to, especially the high notes.

Take The Time

The first track from their biggest album so far, “Images and Words”.

Check out the funky first verses. You will feel like you are in the 70’s. It’s the beauty of the band, to be so diverse musically.

The ending contains the solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and the main riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”. This is the kind of improvisation I like.

Derek Sherinian Piano Solo

I hate individual solo spotlights without any backing music to it.

For the purists, the brief solo does contain portions of “Platt Opus” which would be released on the debut Platypus album, (a progressive rock supergroup to which Sherinian and John Myung were members of, and they released their first album a year after this album).

However Sherinian tries to make his solo spotlight tie in with “Lines In The Sand”.

Lines In The Sand

From the “Falling into Infinity” album.

This song works live and LaBrie doesn’t need to strain his voice here as this song is more in the lower registers.

Petrucci again delivers a killer a guitar solo. All the emotion he committed to tape is here, live. The bends, the vibrato and the fast legato lines. Even Labrie at the end, mentioned, “John Petrucci on guitar people”.

The solo segues into my favourite part of the song. A groove is established and LaBrie is in his Pete Gabriel element here. Petrucci decorates like Alex Lifeson on the guitar. Then at 9.36, Petrucci starts to build it up, taking parts of the intro, and adding a lot of grease and blues. Then his Lifeson decorating with power chords and ringing open strings is back. Portnoy gets busier and the band cranks into the main riff of the song.

Scarred

From the “Awake” album.

Ballsy move to play another epic track straight after an epic track, but then again, Dream Theater didn’t get to this stage, playing by the rules.

A Change of Seasons IV: The Darkest of Winters

And this is a perfect example of not playing by the rules. When they go into the instrumental section of “A Change Of Seasons”

Ytse Jam

And after 3 minutes of “The Darkest Of Winters”, they go into their instrumental masterpiece from “When Dream and Day Unite”, the “Majesty” spelt backwards “Ytse Jam”. And as soon as the intro riff kicks in, the crowd is chanting along with them.

This kind of set list is preaching to the converted.

Mike Portnoy Drum Solo

A 5 minute drum solo and the last 2 minutes is the ending of “Ytse Jam”.

But it’s a next for me.

Trial of Tears

From the “Falling into Infinity” album. The first two minutes has Petrucci playing “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”, with Portnoy channelling Neal Peart from Rush.

Hollow Years

From the “Falling Into Infinity” album.

The “Live At Budokan” version is the definitive version for me. The flamenco Al DiMeola like noodling at the start which is present on the “Budokan” version is here as well, just a bit more embryonic. And the solo sticks to script here, it doesn’t have the long shred solo from “Budokan”.

LaBrie doesn’t need to strain much here, and vocally he’s bringing it.

Take Away My Pain

From the “Falling into Infinity” album. I didn’t think it would end up in a set list as it’s not one of the stronger songs from the album.

Caught in a Web

From the “Awake” album. The tempo is sped up just a little bit and it works perfectly. You can feel the energy hit you from the speakers.

Lie

From the “Awake” album. Like “Caught In A Web” before it, the tempo is sped up a little bit and its perfect for the song. It sounds more energetic and powerful.

Peruvian Skies

From the “Falling into Infinity” album and the band definitely shows which songs influenced the song as they go into portions of “Have a Cigar” from Pink Floyd and “Enter Sandman” from Metallica. Press play to hear it.

John Petrucci Guitar Solo

An 8 minute guitar solo which contains a portion of a song that would become “Paradigm Shift” from a side project called “Liquid Tension Experiment”, which Portnoy and Petrucci would form after this period with future Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess and bassist Tony Levin.

The ending of the album begins with “Pull Me Under”, “Metropolis” and “Learning To Live”. My three favourite songs from “Images And Words”. And they finish it off how they started, with the final chapter of “A Change Of Seasons”.

For a live album, it is the least favourite live album in the “Dream Theater” catalogue. I don’t go back to it much, however as the title states, it’s a capture of a time, a period. So enjoy it for what it is, a band on the verge of breaking up but keeping it all together for their love of music.

And a DVD release came out as well. But that review is for another day.

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1996 – Part 5.3: Michael Schenker Group – Written In The Sand

Every label head said Schenker was finished, washed up.

It’s 1991 and a supergroup called Contraband drop their debut album. And it keeps on dropping because it is so bad. The nice advance payment that Schenker got to be involved in the project didn’t do much to enhance or move forward his career. In fact his manager and ex-partner took most of it.

But he stays alive, because he’s a lifer. When you have been in the game for this long, the only thing you know how to do is play. And play he did. He jumped on board the unplugged bandwagon and released an album. He called up Robin McAuley and released another McAuley Schenker studio album.

Then he re-unites with Phil Mogg and they start writing. The songs got the labels interested and the “Walk On Water” album from UFO, released in 1995 surprised everyone. Suddenly Schenker was back on the agenda and he’s getting money thrown at him again. He had a lot of bad people in his life at this point in time, from managers and partners, so it was always going to happen that MSG would return.

I didn’t think it would be that quick. Because a year after “Walk On Water”, “Written In The Sand” is released, the eighth full-length studio album that falls under the MSG brand.

The only thing consistent with all of these MSG albums is the name and Michael Schenker himself. The other members are in a constant flux. For this album, Schenker is joined by Leif Sundin on vocals, Shane Gaalaas on drums, and Barry Sparks on bass. All the music is by Michael Schenker and all lyrics by Leif Sundin.

Ron Nevison is doing all the Producing, Engineering and Mixing.

It’s not on Spotify which irks me, but YouTube has it.

Brave New World

It’s got groove, swing and lot of rock and roll. And the first thing that grabs my attention are the vocals from Leif Sundin. His voice is very melodic, fluid and unique. I would say he’s up there as one of the best singers in MSG.

The lead breaks are impressive, with Schenker even soloing over a harmony solo which acts as a rhythm guitar.

Cry No More

Press play to hear the intro. Its heavy and a lot of acts who went alternative to survive weren’t doing riffs like this during this period. The song could have been on a Deep Purple album and it wouldn’t be out pf place.

I Believe

It’s a ballad that turns into a rocker. It’s not original, yet it is an easy listen.

Back to Life

No one was writing riffs like this in 1996. Its old school and I like it. Barry Sparks is massive on the bass here as well.

Written in the Sand

This track is essential MSG. It has a sleazy bluesy riff and a lot of melody. And Schenker delivers a tasty guitar-solo in the middle and for the outro.

Essenz

It wouldn’t be an MSG album without an instrumental. This one has an “Eruption” vibe before moving into a fast blues. Think of “Hot For Teacher” when it picks up.

Love Never Dies

Imagine “Finish What Ya Started” merging with the melodic rock genre. Well this is the outcome. Another close favourite with a killer Schenker lead break.

I Will Be There

Press play to hear the verse riff. Schenker makes it sound technical, yet it rocks so fluidly.

Take Me Through the Night

Its classic heavy metal while the singing is happening and the solo section is barroom blues brawling.

It wouldn’t be out of place on any metal album from the early 80’s.

Down the Drain

The album closer showcases how Schenker decorates in a creative way. You cannot ignore how good it is.

While Schenker’s North American career had stalled, he was still a big draw in Japan and certain European markets. And just like that, the whole “Contraband” affair was forgotten. That is if you heard the album. Which wasn’t easy to do.

Crank it.

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Music, Stupidity

1996 – Part 5.2: Manowar – Louder Than Hell

If the style of the artwork looks familiar, it should. Its Ken Kelly doing the cover. If you have “Destroyer” and “Love Gun” from Kiss, “Rising” by Rainbow, “Space Invader” by Ace and other albums by Manowar like “Fighting The World” and “The Triumph Of Steel”, then you would have been exposed to Ken Kelly.

Should be called “Duller Than Hell” and Motley Crue also want their title back. Or they should have used their war cry “Death To False Metal” as the album title as the songs themselves are too derivative of earlier Manowar and could be classed as false.

It’s their eighth album, released on October 1, 1996. After the expiration of their contract with Atlantic, the band did a big money move to Geffen Records and this is their first offering. For an album on Geffen Records, the production is lifeless. Stale. Which is strange as the album was anticipated. And it was a running joke, if the album would ever get released as they approached four years from the previous studio album. Back then four years was a long time. These days bands go decades without releasing anything new.

Formed in 1980, Joey DeMaio on bass, keyboards is still the head honcho and main songwriter. Eric Adams is still the vocalist. It is the first album to feature guitarist Karl Logan, as well as the return of drummer Scott Columbus.

Dee Snider once posted on Twitter, if people should listen to an artist if they did a crime that doesn’t sit well with you.

Guitarist Karl Logan was arrested in 2019 for child pornography offenses. I questioned myself if I should review this album or not review it. I decided to review it, since all the songs are written by kingpin DeMaio.

My opinion of the album still hasn’t changed.

It’s a parody of their former albums, like “Fighting The World”. The guitar playing is boring.

While former guitarist Ross The Boss played riffs, the new guy plays chords. They might as well have gotten Richie Sambora to play chords. He would have done a more livelier job. And maybe introduced a talk box into their sound.

I was always a Ross The Boss fan anyway and was pretty bummed when he was asked to leave the band he formed with Joey DeMaio by DeMaio himself circa 1988. At first, Ross the Boss was replaced by David Shankle, who left in ’94 after playing on “The Triumph of Steel”. I didn’t want to even listen to the album, but my cousin is a massive fan and he kept playing their new albums for me to check out.

Return of the Warlord

It’s very Judas Priest like. Think “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and “Heading Out The Highway”. Each song has a dedication in the CD liner notes, and this one is dedicated to Mary Hooton for all the years and all the tears.

Lyrically, its dumb and simple. While the musical climate in the 90’s started to get more introspective and introverted, Manowar was the opposite. They stayed big, bombast, epic and aloof.

Check-out lines like, “I got no money or big house just got life, I don’t like to save it’s more fun to spend, If you like metal you’re my friend, And that bike out in the yard well that’s my wife”.

Yep, I know the 90’s were hard on 80’s metal, yet Manowar survived writing stuff like this.

Brothers of Metal Pt. 1

It’s from 1986, so they must have had writers block. The lyrical themes of “Fighting for metal, that is real, brothers of metal standing together with hands in the air” was a running joke in 1996. The song is dedicated to Jeff Bova.

More lyrical Shakespeare with “Our hearts are filled with metal and masters we have none, and we will die for metal, metal heals, my son

The Gods Made Heavy Metal

Judas Priest again comes to mind, circa “Screaming For Vengeance” era. With lyrics that will either make you take up the fight for Heavy Metal or laugh at the parody of Heavy Metal.

We are treated to biblical lines like “the gods made heavy metal and they saw that is was good, they said to play it louder than Hell, we promised that we would”.

It’s dedicated to a person called Rainer Haensel, for always being ready for anything crazy and for never letting the band down.

Courage

Another song that was demoed in 1986, it’s a piano ballad in a major key. Very Queen like and on this album it is in memory of Anthony John Columbus III.

But it’s a skip for me.

Number 1

One more song that was demoed in 1986 which is dedicated to Tom Miller for believing in the band no matter how crazy it seemed.

And Sylvester Stallone should of used lines like these in a “Rocky” or “Creed” movie. “Today is the day all the training through, we have come for the number one not the number two, let the contest begin play hard fight to win, immortality victory and fame”.

Outlaw

More of the same like the previous songs, the song is for the Manowar fans around the world who stand, shout, live and breathe MANOWAR METAL. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Manowar Metal” becomes a new genre in the years to come.

King

It’s another piano major key ballad for the first 90 seconds before it kicks in to more of the same. “Fighting The World” comes to mind here.

It’s dedicated to John Kalodner, their friend, brother and King. And they do him proud, with the lyrics, “Fight for the crown, fight for the ring, We’re fighting the world, we fight for the king”.

And if you grew up in the 80s you would have seen John

Today Is a Good Day to Die

A 9 minute instrumental that could belong in a Clint Eastwood Western.

They pull no punches in the CD notes when they say this song is dedicated to all the losers in the world who have tried to put Manowar and the Manowar fans down. As the Indians fought and died for their way of life, so shall Manowar. Great Spirit, they only wish to live long enough to urinate on the graves of their enemies.

The Power

Probably the best song on the album as it’s pace is frantic. And the Power is dedicated to artist Ken Kelly.

Manowar’s style is 80bpm chugging along rhythms. Most of their music is the key of Em. They celebrate heavy metal the way we knew it in the early 80’s, before it splintered into so many different categories. They make no apologies for it either. They do it their way, they have their core audience who are devoted to them and sustain them.

“Back In Black” from AC/DC is simple and it keeps you interested. “Louder Than Hell” is simple but it doesn’t keep me interested. Not like the earlier albums from Manowar.

Eric Adams on vocals is underrated and never spoken about when it comes to great vocalists. But they should talk about him a bit more. If you talk about Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillian, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, then Eric Adams should be in the same conversation. This album doesn’t do him justice, but check out the 80’s material.

Check it out if you want to hear a band carrying on the flag of 80’s Heavy Metal in the wastelands of Grunge, Alternative and Industrial.

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Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – July 18 to July 25

2018 (4 Years Ago)

ANEW REVOLUTION

Whatever happened to Anew Revolution?

I was a fan back in the day and I still enjoy cranking their tunes. They released two official albums that I am aware off, in “Rise” (2008) and “iMerica” in 2010. There was an “Unplugged EP” in 2012 and a Kickstarter project that release new songs to the backers only in 2014.

I hope Anew Revolution make more music. They have fans. We probably won’t make the band millions, but we will listen.

Check out my review of “Rise” here?

WITHHOLDING MUSIC FROM STREAMING

Once upon a time, it used to cost a lot of money to record. Very few acts, got signed and even less acts got a chance to record and get distributed. Getting inside the record label machine was hard, however if an act could penetrate, they could have a long career even if they never had a hit on the charts.

The label did have good intentions to keep you in the business and the label would promote you. All at your cost of course. But the truth is, it was harder to keep a record deal than to get a record deal. Especially if you didn’t sell. And even more so, once MTV came out and you didn’t sell.

Kiss benefited from this business model. They relied on the label putting some money upfront for the recording of the album, for the film clips and for tour support.

Then Napster came, then torrents, the iTunes store and streaming and Gene and Paul just kept on shouting it loud to everyone about how there is no music business, while they toured non-stop and made money from the music business.

In the process they recorded two albums during this period.

Yep, two albums. “Sonic Boom” and “Monster”. But for all of the complaining about streaming they did, the Kiss catalogue was on Spotify Australia. Then half of it was off. Then it was back on after a few weeks off. Madness.

I’m against bands withholding their music from a service that people legitimately pay for.

It’s all about consumption. Funds are tight, but Google and Spotify is not the problem. The artists are getting squeezed by the consumer. The consumer either listens or doesn’t want to listen to your music.

For any artist thinking of withholding their music from a streaming service, don’t do it. Don’t hold back progress. Because if you look at the past, you will see people who said the internet would kill the incentive to make music. Wrong, there’s so much more music than ever before. People said streaming would kill the business. Wrong, revenues are up and streaming is seen as it’s saviour.

Think forward, not backwards.

THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA

What can I say, there is something about TNFO and the music they create that hits a nostalgic spot for me. And I’m digging it.

Album number 4, “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” is full of massive sing-along choruses and derivative versions of some of the best pop songs ever written.

For example, if you like Deep Purple, Supertramp and Rainbow, then you will like the opening track “This Time”.

And that’s how the album flows. A road trip down memory lane, done in a new way.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

I was preparing for my European holidays.

A day before our flight, the news doing the rounds was the MH17 disaster. Then our flight got changed to an earlier time. But no one told us until the last minute.

And I had questions.

Because the new schedule would give us an 8 hour stopover in Bangkok instead of the normal 2 hour stop over.

And holidaying is meant to be relaxing and easy.

Thanks for reading folks, that’s another wrap of DOHistory.

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