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

The Record Vault – Black Sabbath

I had Iron Man, Paranoid, Sweet Leaf, War Pigs and Children of The Grave on various metal and rock compilations, plus Ozzy had given his Sabbath career a decent outing in his solo career. I still rate the Randy Rhoads version of “Children Of The Grave” as THE definitive version of that song.

The ones I spent money on are “Heaven And Hell”, “Volume 4”, “Sabotage”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Reunion”.

Sabotage

This was my first buy, because I came across a guitar transcription of the song “Symptom Of The Universe” and I wanted to hear how the original version sounded. And I wasn’t prepared for how good the album is.

The stoner rock sludge of “Hole In The Sky” kicks it off and Ozzy is at 10 in his vocal intensity.

And after a little acoustic flamenco doodle, “Symptom Of The Universe” kicks off.

And that Em to B flat riff is brutal like a chainsaw going through the head. Vocally, Ozzy again is at an intensity level of 10, just going for the throat.

That change at the 2 minute mark, gives the song a new dynamic, while the acoustic folk outro elevates this song to legendary status for me.

“Megalomania” from a guitar point of view, has got killer riffs all over it. Poison even used one of the riffs for a song called “Looked What The Cat Dragged In”. It’s the riff that kicks in at 3.23 when the cowbell starts.

“Take my hand, my child of love come step inside my tears, swim the magic ocean, I’ve been crying all these years”… From “Symptom Of The Universe”.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

As soon as the riff for the title track “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” kicked in, I was in head banging mode. It’s powerful and intense in the way Bill Ward smashes those drum skins and then it morphs into that jazzy like Chorus.

For all the narcotics and alcohol, the song writing is top level.

“A National Acrobat” continues the head banging. And there is a vocal melody in this song which borrows from the verse melody of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” from about the 2.30 minute mark. That’s how good “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is. And how cool is that trippy major key riff from the 4.55 mark.

“Fluff” is nothing like fluff. It’s an acoustic piece that just sits nicely between the two opening tracks and the next two big tracks to come in “Sabbra Cadabra” and “Killing Yourself To Live”.  

And I like the flow of “Killing Yourself To Live” with its tremolo effect verse riff. And that reference to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in the lead break, is nice and subtle.

“Who Are You” has a synth riff that sounds brutal on guitar.

But my favourite on this album is the closer, “Spiral Architect”. I love playing it on the guitar and when you spend a lot of time learning a song, it becomes a part of your life.

The way it morphs from the open string arpeggios into this major key style riff and then into a re-write of the “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” riff.

And to be honest, I reckon Randy Rhoads was influenced by this song for the “Diary Of A Madman” as well as Bob Daisley for the vocal melody. The Chorus melodies of both songs are pretty similar.

“The people who have crippled you, you want to see them burn”…. From “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.

Heaven And Hell

I purchased this album very late. It was actually after “Lock Up The Wolves” from Dio came out in 1990. At that time, I had the cash and my plan was to get stuck into Dio’s past works starting with Rainbow. But, I also came across the Black Sabbath releases.

It’s a massive album and I couldn’t believe I was so late on hearing this. But kids these days have the whole history at their fingertips so they wouldn’t understand the past.

As with all things related to record labels, this project (like the Blizzard Of Ozz) was always meant to be a new band. Instead the world got another Black Sabbath album and an Ozzy solo album.

The first song written by Iommi and Dio for the new band was “Children of the Sea” but the opener “Neon Knights” sets the feel.

Geezer Butler was so set against continuing without Ozzy,  keyboardist Geoff Nicholls was on hand to play bass on those initial sessions. And it was Nicholls who came up with the “Heaven and Hell” bass groove from the jams the band was having, although Butler is credited.

And by the way, “The world is full of kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams…..” from HEAVEN AND HELL.

And one more, “the moon is just the sun at night”.  

Volume 4

“Wheels Of Confusion” starts the madness and when that Em riff from the 5.20 mark comes in and plays all the way to the end, yep, it’s time to break desks.

“Tomorrows Dream” is loose and jammy, just the way a dream should be. “Changes” came from left field. The first version I heard was Ozzy’s re-interpretation for the “Live and Loud” album. But the original, has this hi-fi feel that I dig.

“Supernaut” is an intense sped up/down tuned blues romp.

While “Snownblind” showed me what happens when you spend too much time in a snowy place.

That arpeggiated section during the solo break is a nice change of those simple dynamics between distorted and clean tones. And at 3.30 they bring in this bluesy style riff and Bill Ward sounds like he’s about to break his drum kit.

Reunion

When this came out in 1998, Kiss was already doing the “Psycho Circus” victory lap while Rush never left. So there was no bigger concert ticket than a proper Black Sabbath reunion, apart from a Led Zeppelin reunion.

And they delivered a live performance on a double CD, along with two new studio tracks. While the live songs are all good, it’s the two original tracks I want to talk about.

“Psycho Man” has an outro which rocks, when Ozzy is singing “he’s the angel of death” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it sounded like a “very unlucky” left over track from “Ozzmosis”. “Selling My Soul” on the other hand, feels like a Sabbath song.

So that is my Sabbath collection.

Blame Ozzy for it being so light, because when you see my Ozzy Record Vault collection, you will go “I get it”.

For me, there was no need to buy every Sabbath album as Ozzy more or less recorded the songs live and released them as a Solo artist.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Music Distributor or Internet Brand

Spotify is the largest streaming provider today but YouTube did have that title unofficially in the past. So with any service that is used by the masses, it’s no surprise that Spotify now takes most of the punches while YouTube becomes a takedown haven for anyone who has created anything or wants to suppress free speech.

I’m sure you’ve seen all the headlines.

Spotify should pay more, Spotify is appealing the royalty rate rise, Spotify is getting sued, Spotify settles class action suit against it.

Maybe another take on those headlines might be;

  • How much does the record label keep from Spotify’s licensing and royalty payments?
  • Artists are appealing the low royalty payments they get from their label?
  • Record labels get sued for banking billions from using the Copyrights of artists to negotiate high licensing fees.
  • Artists settle class action suit against the Record Labels for keeping Copyrights longer than they should and for murky creative accounting.

Major labels no longer develop artists but they can make artists bigger. It all depends on how much an artist is willing to give up.

Because the labels will give the artist that large advance, however it will be probably be the last payment an artist will ever see from them.

Just recently, Italian composer Ennio Morricone (Metallica uses his music as a concert intro, plus he wrote the soundtracks to a lot of popular movies) won back his Copyrights. In his termination suit, it was mentioned how in the late 70s he made a deal with a label for an upfront payment in exchange for low royalties which never got renegotiated and of course by the 90s his music was being used for concerts, it became popular again as those 70s movies got re-released on DVD and so forth.

Metallica’s licensing fee would go all to the label and nothing to the Composer. A perfect example of getting a large upfront payment and then nothing in return.

The labels are greedy, who operate on intimidation and since MTV, they have been short-term thinkers. It’s all about the profits.

So what’s next for music distribution and a company living in two worlds. Spotify has a bad rep for its payments models but also a good rep because it’s useful to artists and fans, plus it pays for life.

But Spotify still doesn’t make a profit doing what it does and it still gets extra funding, to invest and grow the business. Their podcasts is a growing business as there are a lot of people who would rather listen to non-musical content than musical.

Maybe the problem with Spotify is that it doesn’t want to be just a music distribution platform. Music is seen as a means to become a global internet brand. Sort of like Apple, who used music to sell hardware.

And all you need to do is have a look at what’s happening with Netflix. The big studios who laughed off streaming once upon a time, are setting up their own streaming services. Expect the labels to do the same, because they want control of the distribution and the murky creative accounting.

And by then Spotify would be in a position to not care, because they would have repurposed the business to be a digital brand and the artists would have it even worse, because if they think Spotify is bad, wait until the labels get control of the distribution.

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

Live Albums

There is a blog site I follow called Thunder Bay Arena Rock, run by the well informed hard rock and metal guru known as Deke.

Just recently, Deke had a list of his Top 10 live albums ever, with the rule being only one release is allowed from each artist.

You can read Deke’s post here.

And in the comments I mentioned a few releases that I would include in a list and suddenly I had a list ready in my mind.

So thanks to Deke for getting this list out of me.

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

It was my first exposure to Maiden and I became a fan for life. And the set list is a “best of” selection from the first five albums.

Ozzy Osbourne – Randy Rhoads Tribute

How Randy Rhoads crafted his triple tracked guitars from the albums into a single cohesive live track is worthy of a listen.

And the tempo is upped just a notch, which makes each track blistering.

Add to that a few Black Sabbath songs and the best version of “Children Of The Grave” I have heard, makes this album a keeper. Plus when I was learning how to play guitar, this album was my bible.

Evergrey – A Night To Remember

From Sweden.

I love their melancholic, depressing and yet hopeful style of themes.

On occasions their music borders between progressive metal, heavy metal and hard rock.

There is even a Maiden “Live After Death” reference here, when Tom Englund gets the crowd involved for the song “The Masterplan” the same way Bruce Dickinson gets the crowd involved for “Running Free”.

Bruce Springstreen Live 1975-85

It was my first box set.

So much music and unbelievable live performances. No wonder Springsteen is called “The Boss”.

Even when I typed “Boss” in my Spotify search, Bruce Springsteen came up, however I was actually looking for the Aussie hard rock band called “Boss”.

Dream Theater – Live At Budokan

John Petrucci’s solo on “Hollow Years”.

You know how guitarists have a guitar solo spotlight during a concert with just them and no music. Well on this occasion, Petrucci’s solo is part of an extended solo in the song.

And its brilliant.

Dokken – Beast From The East

As a George Lynch fan, this has to be included and the band overall are in top form, regardless of their love and hate towards each other.

John Sykes – Bad Boy Live

He released two live albums.

One under Blue Murder called “Screaming Blue Murder” in 1994 to fulfill his Geffen contract and “Bad Boy Live” in 2004 under a Japanese label. While the Blue Murder live release focused more on his Blue Murder songs, “Bad Boy Live” is a career best of.

He kicks the show off with “Bad Boys” from the mega selling Whitesnake 1987 album. The second song is the excellent “We All Fall Down” from the second Blue Murder album “Nothin But Trouble”. Then its “Cold Sweat” from the last Thin Lizzy album, “Thunder and Lightning”.

So far, it’s a blistering set.

Sykes is back to the 1987 Whitesnake album and his take on “Crying in the Rain”. “Jelly Roll” from the debut Blue Murder album is next and “Is This Love?” from the 87 Whitesnake album makes it a perfect set so far.

Next up are a few tracks from his solo career, in “Look in His Eyes” from the very underrated “20th Century” album released in 1998, the punk rock pop of “I Don’t Wanna Live My Life Like You” from the self-titled solo debut in 1995 and his first ever solo single,   “Please Don’t Leave Me”, released in the early 80’s.

To round out the set, there is an 8 minute version of “Still of the Night” and a blistering version of “Thunder and Lightning”.

And tying it all together is the band.

John Sykes does all the vocals and guitar, Marco Mendoza is on bass and backing vocals, Tommy Aldridge is on drums and Derek Sherinian is on keyboards and backing vocals.

Twisted Sister – Live At San Bernardino 1984

It was released as part of the “Stay Hungry” album and I watched this VHS tape every day.

Dee Snider as a front man rules the stage.

His banter between songs and how people can’t even look at the camera man is hilarious, bordering on SNL comedy.

Plus the band is in top form, delivering the goods.

Alice Cooper – Trashes The World

I don’t think it was ever released as a CD, but it did come out on VHS and I was all in.

Plus I got to experience all the classic Cooper cuts with a modern sound.

And his backing band is top notch, with Al Pitrelli and Pete Freisin on guitars, Tommy Caradonna on bass and Jonathan Mover on drums, with Derek Sherinian on keys.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Trial By Fire – Live In Leningrad

This concert sums up Malmsteen’s prime, with Joe Lynn Turner as his vocalist.

If Jeff Scott Soto stayed around, it would have been his name mentioned as well.

Anything else that came after for Malmsteen couldn’t repeat the success of the Odyssey album and tour.

Kiss – Alive III

I have a mate who is a mad Kiss fan, and he reckons it’s sacrilege that I can even think “Alive III” is better than the previous “Alive” releases.

Well to me, it is, because of the set list.

I like those 80’s songs more than some of the 70’s songs that appeared on the first two “Alive” albums.

Give me, “Creatures Of The Night”, “Unholy”, “Heavens On Fire”, “Lick It Up”, “I Still Love You” and “I Love It Loud” any day.

If they added “War Machine” and “Exciter” to the list, I wouldn’t have complained.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More For the Road

It was my first exposure to Lynyrd Skynrd and the 13 minute version of “Free Bird” was enough to get me hooked.

Plus there are so many other good songs like “Searchin”, “Tuesdays Gone”, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Saturday Night Special”

Metallica – Live Shit: Binge And Purge

This one cemented to me how good James Hetfield is as a front man. He has the crowd in the grasp of his hand and commands them to get crazy and they respond.

Vote James for President.

And all the songs are sped up, the energy is intense and the set is blistering.

Well that’s it folks.

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

Dog Eat Dog

And the night’s illuminated, By the endless glowing sand

That swallowed all the oceans, And choked off all the land

In a world beyond resuscitation, Even by God’s hand

April 2031 – Warrant

Warrant delivered their best album with “Dog Eat Dog”. But it didn’t sell anything compared to the “Cherry Pie” album and it was seen as an expensive bomb. So the band gets dropped.

Even the song titles had me interested, like “April 2031” which deals with a dystopian future after a nuclear fallout and “Andy Warhol Was Right” which covers how every person will have their fifteen minutes of fame, in this case a young boy who plays with toy guns growing up to be a gunman in a mass shooting.

“April 2031” also has probably the heaviest riff, Warrant have ever committed to tape.

“Andy Warhol Was Right” nails it’s “15 minutes of fame” theme perfectly, starting off the song with a young kid singing, before morphing into an angry man because he feels life has past him by. This is the song that got me to re-listen to the album, because Lady GaGa’s song “Shallow” sounds like it and this other “not famous” dude is suing Lady Gaga because he claims he wrote a song which Lady Gaga copied. Well that dude then also copied Warrant.

The “Machine Gun” title had me interested until Jani Lane (R.I.P.) started singing about being harder than a coal train and loving her like a machine gun. He might as well have called the song “Fuck You As Fast As A Machine Gun”. But that intro/verse riff is pretty wicked.

And while Joey Allen and Erik Turner didn’t get the respect they deserved as guitar heroes, they showcase what they are capable off on this album.

“The Bitter Pill” is a classic Warrant song, but that Latin/German section in the middle is Queen esque.

In “Hollywood (So Far, So Good)”, Jani delivers a brilliant line with;

While money is buying your house, It’s selling your sanity

In “All My Bridges Are Burning”, I think Jani is Jimmy in this song.

Jimmy goes through the money like a millionaire, bills pile up around him but he doesnt care

And for people who think that Jani was all about cherry pies, that actual album was meant to be called “Uncle Toms Cabin” until a last minute request from the label to write an additional song changed all of it.

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Music, My Stories

I Want My Spot-I-Fy

Streaming is here to stay. YouTube was the first unofficial and unlicensed streaming service and it got traction to billion plus users.

All because the record labels negotiated forever to get a stake of Spotify. And while YouTube gives users access, it also allows them to upload the music they have.

MTV had this kind of power once and the artists featured on the service went from nobodies to platinum stars especially during MTV’s critical mass period of 1985 to 1993.

Or if you built some momentum, MTV took your career from a small act with a core following, to platinum darlings. If you don’t believe me, Bon Jovi went from a 500,000 album band and a million debt to the label, to a 10 million album band.

But with any service which has critical mass, how can these services get artists heard as the labels and the publishers take in all the income.

Artists should be doing their bit to get users to Spotify or any other streaming service in the same way they did commercials for MTV, saying “I Want My MTV”. And they should control their own copyrights. They will get more of the share.

Netflix understood that they cannot run a business just by licensing content from TV stations and the Movie Studios. The same way HBO realized it back in the early 90s. So they started spending to create their own content. And they made a lot of money from subscribers doing it.

And of course as expected, Disney, one of the critics of streaming early on but also one of the main content creators right now, decided they need to get into the streaming action. Add HBO to that list and people need to pick between three streaming providers.

But the biggest users of the services are between the ages of 19 and 28. Technology has been part of their life since birth. A connected audience with everything being just a click away. And if music wants to put up paywalls and take away free tiers, they are putting up resistance to a generation who follows the path of least resistance.

Music is accessed everywhere. In a persons house, their car, the train trip home from work, at work and so forth.

Now it’s all about the song. The connected music consumer doesn’t care about the catalog of songs or albums.

As for Spotify, remember that here is no Spotify without the major labels giving access to their catalogs. It’s how the major labels got a stake in the company.

So if an artist is upset about Spotify’s payments, they should tell their label to pull out their catalogs from the streaming service.

But they won’t.

As for labels, they have been creative in their accounting to artists since day dot.

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Music, My Stories

Things Disappear

Artists come and go and bands break up. Historical buildings like the Notre Dame go up in flames overnight and once bustling cities become ghost towns.

Heavy Metal music went from rebellion to mainstream to classic metal. Dial up internet became obsolete and who even remembers analog mobile phones. Meanwhile the labels are trying to peddle the comeback of vinyl, hell, they might as well peddle the comeback of the days when we had three channels to watch TV and the most popular magazine in the house was the TV guide.

As humans, we plan for the future and yet, when the future arrives, it still surprises us. The kids starting kindergarten today, will be working jobs not yet created, on technologies not yet created.

Did we even think in the 80’s and even before Napster, that we would have the history of music and movies at our fingertips, ready to be called up when we feel like it.

And we can all make an impact. Those stories we share and the work we do define us. Start creating memories because even we disappear.

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

The Record Vault – All That Remains

The Pirate Bay introduced me to All That Remains circa 2008.

It actually happened in a more complex, funny kind of way, so for any label rep who thinks that scorched earth promotions is the key to get people’s attention, well check out this Discovery. (Spotify Discovery are you reading as well).

I got into Killswitch Engage because the bass player in a band I was in liked em, so I asked him to give me some of their music. He burnt me “The End Of Heartache” and I dug it. This was circa 2005. The hardcore screamo vocals didn’t set my world on fire, but the melodic vocals sure did, the way the songs were constructed hooked me and the music is melodic and heavy at the same time. 

Suddenly I am seeing interviews with Killswitch Engaged founder, guitarist, producer and songwriter, Adam Dutkiewicz in the Guitar mags. And Adam produces other bands. Unearth, As I Lay Dying and All That Remains came into my headspace because of Adam.

So almost three years after getting into Killswitch Engaged, off I went to TPB, typed in All That Remains and their catalogue from start to 2008 was available.

And the first track on the “Overcome” album (released in 2008) is called “Before The Damned”. It’s brutal death metal in the verses and when the Chorus kicks in, its arena rock. I was hooked straight away. “Two Weeks” from the same album is their most streamed song with over 40 million streams on Spotify and 26,644,942 views on YouTube.

In 2010, “For We Are Many” came out and I liked it, but I didn’t commit financially until the 2012 album “A War You Cannot Win”.

Opening track, “Down Through The Ages” has some of the best thrash metal riffage (along with some deep growls)

“So many fall away” indeed. The most likeable kid at school has bi-polar now and looks like Crusty The Clown, all because of too much drugs. But he’s made it, while others have either spent time in jail or hanging on the end of a rope or struggling to breathe, surrounded by carbon monoxide.

Check out the lead break. It’s a hum a long, until the whammy dive kicks in.

“You Can’t Fill My Shadow” has a lead break that keeps me coming back.

“Stand Up” is pretty accessible, with clean tone melodic vocals throughout and great riffage throughout. Stand up and be proud of the choices you made.

To me, this song is a big FU to the people who criticised the band for bringing in some melodic rock influences into their songs. Well if it wasn’t for those influences, I wouldn’t be a fan.

“Asking Too Much” is another hard rock song, easily digested. “Just Moments In Time” is brutal and heavy, with screaming death metal vocals and lyrics which state, “We are all just moments in time, We come from nothing and we’re nothing when we die”. 

“What If I Was Nothing” is almost country’ish in the intro, but a hard rock relationship song in the end. Super melodic, with 24.6 million streams.

“Sing For Liberty” tells people to take back their freedoms.

“A War You Cannot Win” has so many lyrical lines that resonate.

One voice can silence the masses, One voice just scream these words say, No, hell no

“The Order Of Things” was released in 2015 and this album is very accessible for people who like hard rock music but don’t like too much hardcore style vocals or death metal style vocals. 

The piano line intro in the opening track “This Probably Won’t End Well” reminds me of the Paradise Lost “Draconian Times” album, albeit for 45 seconds. Then it’s back to the hard rock/metal that All That Remains does well.

“The Greatest Generation” is a favourite, with a lyric of “remember what made us great”. And we have forgotten that.

“For You” is personal, about a relationship breakdown, and that lyric line of “I won’t wait for you”. “A Reason For Me To Fight” is about making a promise to fight for something you believe in. “Bite My Tongue” has this Jazzy style breakdown which I dig, and when Phil starts singing, “You’re Right, You’re Wrong” it’s time to bang that head.

My favourite track on this album is the closer, “Criticism And Self Realization”. For starters the title hooked me, so it was the first song I listened to. And after that 45 second clean tone intro, the metal arrives. And the verses are heavy with hardcore style vocals, while the Chorus is melodic and emotional. The whole thing connects instantly.

And at 3.20, it goes back to the clean tone intro and it feels like the song is repeating. But it’s not. Its segueing into a new section. And from 4.20, that clean tone intro becomes an outro, with harmony guitars and then lead guitars. By 5.12 the loudness is replaced by a piano, which is playing the same intro music, but slower, sadder, more solemn. And I just want it to continue. But by the 7 minute mark it’s over.

Since, 2015, they released “Madness” in 2017 and “Victim Of The New Disease” in 2018. After the release of this album, founding guitarist Oli Herbert (who also laid down some wicked soloing and riffage on Dee Snider’s “For The Love Of Metal” album) was found dead in a pond. While early reports suggested accidental drowning, an investigation is still pending for foul play. 

And I am glad that vocalist Phil Labonte (also the back up Five Finger Death Punch singer when Ivan Moody goes off the rails) is carrying the All That Remains flame.

And with this post, the record vault for the letter A ends (at this point in time) and I am onto the letter B. My kids reckon I won’t get to Z.

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