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

September 2020 – Part 1

Protest The Hero

From Canada.

They just dropped an album a few months ago and now they dropped a 2 song single of tracks that didn’t appear on the album.

If you like technical progressive metal, with vocals ranging from clean tone to death metal, then Protest The Hero is a band you need to check out.

My favourite album is “Volition”. This is the album after they got dropped by their label and they went the fan funded route, which we (the fans) had no problem helping with. But that was almost 7 years ago. In between they did an innovative Bandcamp project.

“Gift Horse” has some serious playing, with clean melodic vocals while “The Duelling Cavalier” continues the technical playing with a memorable guitar intro and corny lyrics, but hey, these dudes write songs about dog laws, Star Trek vs Star Wars, artists ripping fans off at the merchandise stand while they mime on stage, playing a bar in Newfoundland and getting drunk there with the locals plus topics on philosophical and stoic viewpoints on life.

Smith & Myers

I’m a fan of this acoustic side project. If you don’t know, it’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers from Shinedown.

“Not Mad Enough” is a song of the times, living with lockdown, police brutality and protests.

I can’t forgive what I can’t forget
And I can’t forget

It resonates straight away. I can’t forgive what I still remember. It’s a scar, but I move on and I learn from what happened, because it’s easy to blame the moment when things go bad, but really it’s the system that needs to be overhauled. The system that got me to that place in the beginning.

Face down, I can taste the blood
It’s hard to breathe, someone let me up

Whoever lived and saw the footage of George Floyd face down on the pavement, screaming “help me please, I can’t breathe” will never forget it. Because the person who held him down was a Police Officer, a person meant to protect him. And the other police officers just watched on, without doing anything to stop it.

In Flames

They remastered their brilliant “Clayman” album. Musically they are a heavy rock and metal band and the riffs are so catchy and memorable.

Vocally they move between clean tone and death metal, hence the term melodic death metal.

“Bullet Ride” and “Pinball Map”, musically, will not be out of place on a Judas Priest album.

“Only For The Weak” is a doom metal cut. Think of the album “Draconian Times” by Paradise Lost.

“Square Nothing” has this clean tone arpeggio riff with harmony guitars that remind me of Scorpions pre 80’s.

“Clayman” musically is brilliant and at first, the crackled growl vocals didn’t capture me, but the music is that good, that the song became a favourite.

“Satellites And Astronauts” musically could have come from an Iron Maiden album.

“Swim” just makes me pick up the guitar to learn it and “Another Day In Quicksand” has this “The Fire Still Burns” from Twisted Sister groove and riff.

Corey Taylor

He’s one of the better vocalists to have come out in the last 20 years. He can destroy his voice with Slipknot and he can bring the melody, the attitude and the AC/DC barroom brawl whenever he wants to other projects like Stone Sour, various cover songs and now to his own name as a solo act.

“Black Eyes Blue” is basically a hard rock track and I’m interested to hear more.

Redemption

Tom Englund from Evergrey is on vocals for this live recording and as an Evergrey fan I’m all in to the music Englund puts out, but Redemption came on my radar in the early 2000’s because Ray Adler from Fates Warning was on vocals.

The self-titled debut was released in 2003, “The Fullness Of Time” in 2005, “The Origins Of Ruin” in 2007, “Snowfall On Judgement Day” in 2009 and “This Mortal Coil” in 2011. Then a five year gap, and “The Art Of Loss” was released, the last album with Ray Adler on vocals and in 2018 a “Long Nights Journey Into Day” came out with Tom Englund on vocals.

But the band isn’t built around vocalists.

It’s built around guitarist and songwriter Nick Van Dyk, who has Chris Quirarte on drums, Sean Andrews on bass, Simone Mularoni on guitar and Vikram Shankar on keys.

There is a cover of Megadeth’s “Peace Sells” with drummer Chris Quirarte doing an unbelievable Dave Mustaine impression, all the way to the snarls and Chris Poland also guests on the guitar.

“The Echo Chamber” is still a favourite as it has an intro riff that reminds me of “Ytse Jam” from Dream Theater and lyrics so relevant of the time, because the echo chamber phenomenon is real in today’s world, as people expose themselves to information from like-minded individuals and they refuse to believe any other view-points or to research other view-points. The 5G Covid Conspiracy, the No Global Warming outcomes, the QAnon rabbit hole and whatever else that comes out around anti vaccinations and other conspiracies.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Treating Fans Like Shit

Vinyl and CD’s

How misleading can the labels and the RIAA be?

You’ve seen the headlines about vinyl sales surpassing CD sales.

And how vinyl sales brought in $232.1 million and CDs brought in $129.9 million.

But the report also mentions that Physical Album Sales including vinyl is at 27.9 million units and that vinyl on its own has moved just 8.2 million units.

So the other 19.7 units are CD sales. I guess vinyl hasn’t surpassed CD’s in sales, but it has surpassed it in revenue, which the headlines fail to mention.

$232.1 million divided by 8.2 million units is $28 per vinyl record. Which sounds about right on average.

$129.9 million divided by 19.7 million units is $6.60 per CD, which also sounds right.

What’s your preference?

I don’t really have one anymore, except the price being right. I will not pay more than $20 for a vinyl record unless it’s included in a deluxe box set. Then again, I’m happy paying less than $20 for a Family Streaming account.

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Music, My Stories, Treating Fans Like Shit

Import

When I started to buy records in the 80’s, I purchased a lot of records with “IMPORT” stickers and paid a premium for them.

So what did an IMPORT mean back in the day?

An album comes out in the U.S or in the U.K or in other parts of Europe first or Japan. And it gets some traction in those countries, but the Australian Release Window is months away or it doesn’t even exist at all. Since I was a consumer of UK and US Metal and Rock mags, I read the reviews and interviews of the album and the artist and I am interested in getting their music.

The only way to get it into Australia is via an IMPORT.

An import release would have a tariff between $20 to $50 added to the normal price.

So the album that would normally cost $20 to buy if it had a normal release window, would cost between $40 to $90 to get it into the country.

The debut solo album from John Sykes called “Out Of My Tree” released in 1995, was available to buy in Australia but it had a big IMPORT sticker and a price of $80 at Utopia Records.

Most of the record shops made a killing by charging extra for the IMPORT and so did the distributors.

Everyone was making money except the artist.

And the fan got the bill.

In the 90’s, most of the hard rock music I was after was not available in Australia as the overseas label didn’t organise a worldwide distribution deal.

But I wanted em and via IMPORTS, it was the only way I could get em.

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

1977 – Part 6

Eagles – Hotel California
It was around 1994 when “Hell Freezes Over” was released that I purchased this album and listened to it in full.

18 years later.

Their first with Joe Walsh but it’s Don Felder who delivers the music for the iconic “Hotel California”.

Don Henley liked the chord progression, but it was in E minor, so a capo was added at the 7th fret and the song changed key to B minor.

But the reason why I liked the song is for the outro solos, when Walsh and Felder trade licks and then they kick into the harmony solo. It was these sections that made me pick up the guitar to learn the song.

At the moment it’s 8 times platinum in Australia. Now in relation to sales that’s 560,000 units moved, enough to earn a Gold accreditation in the U.S. Then again it’s sitting at 26 million in the U.S.

Apart from the title track, “Victim Of Love” is also a favourite, which also has a Felder contribution along with Glen Frey, J.D. Souther and Henley.

Seriously how good is that intro.

Then you get that stop start riffage in the verses with a simple Chorus line. When the Chorus rolls around, it feels like a song that David Coverdale would write in Whitesnake between 1978 and 1982.

And then there is “Life in the Fast Lane”, written by Henley, Frey and Joe Walsh.

How good is that intro riff?

And then in the verses, it’s like a funk blues jam, with Henley delivering a stellar vocal and Walsh doing his blues funk rock that he’s known for.

Rainbow – On Stage

It’s a powerful line-up.

Richie Blackmore on guitar, Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Cozy Powell on drums, Jimmy Bain on bass and Tony Carey on keys.

I heard this in the 90’s at my cousin’s place and I liked “Catch The Rainbow” because it was vastly different and extended compared to the studio cut. Like 15 minutes extended. It’s not a “wham bam, Amsterdam” song that you can just listen to. You need to put the headphones on, close your eyes and allow yourself to be taken on a journey.

And I always liked to hear Dio re-interpret songs by other vocalists, so “Mistreated” was covered here. This song was also extended to 14 minutes.

I’ve read some reviews which slam the extending of the songs, but to me, that is how live music should be. I get disheartened when bands just play the track live like the album.

If I wanted to hear the track exactly like the album I would just listen to the album.

One of the best shows I ever watched was “The Black Crowes” in Australia, because they just jammed out those songs and Rich Robinson was like the sheriff on stage, he would nod his head for when they would enter a jam and then nod his head when they would exit a jam. It was brilliant to watch.

And some bands can’t do that with their songs, like Maiden or Metallica, so they compensate with the lights and the props, while Bon Jovi, still likes to draw out a jam on stage and every time I have watched em live, there is a jam. While Kiss and Motley Crue just play to script.

The Angels – The Angels

In Australia they are known as “The Angels”.

In order to break into the international market, they had to compromise with their band name to avoid legal problems so there are albums under the name of “Angel City” and “The Angels From Angel City”.

Yep, that didn’t really work out for them.

This is the debut album.

The Angels supported AC/DC in early 1976 and were signed by Malcolm and Angus Young’s older brother George Young and his songwriting partner Harry Vanda to Albert Productions.

For those that don’t know, George Young and Harry Vanda are from The Easybeats and the main songwriters from that band. When that band splintered they became producers and songwriters, writing the soundtrack to the Australian sound.

The Angels at this point in time had Rick Brewster on lead guitar, his brother John Brewster on rhythm guitar, Doc Neeson on vocals, Chris Bailey on bass and Buzz Throckman on drums.

The album was produced by Harry Vanda & George Young from The Easybeats at Sydney’s Albert Studios.

And the star is “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again”.

Originally recorded as an acoustic ballad about the grief felt after a friend of the band died in a motorcycle accident and the conversation of the incident led to the lyrics.

It did nothing for them at this point in time, until the audience started to respond with the “No Way, Get Fucked, Fuck Off” line after Neeson sang the title.

And it’s one of our most iconic songs.

Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue

There’s a lot of fluff on this album for me, and just a few songs which get me interested.

The instrumental “Believe Me Now” sounds like it was composed by Hans Zimmer for the “Interstellar” soundtrack.

“Summer And Lightning” has an acoustic intro which reminds me of so many other songs from the 70’s. Styx comes to mind immediately and The Beatles sounding “Mr Blue Sky” is the star of this album and on their Spotify account with 300m plus streams

Back to the year 2000 for part 7.

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

The Record Vault – Belinda Carlisle

Belinda Carlisle’s debut album got some traction in Australia. It for the ball rolling.

For album number 2, “Heaven On Earth” a roster of songwriters was on hand again to deliver the songs and stellar musicians to record.

Dan Huff and John McCurry did most of the guitars.

Huff was well known as a session player and then he got a recoding contract with Giant. Huff even appeared on “Here I Go Again” from Whitesnake as John Kalodner wanted a radio friendly version as well.

For those who don’t know, McCurry wrote and played on a few songs on “Trash” with Alice Copper, played on albums for Cher, Bonnie Tyler, Michael Bolton, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel and Taylor Dayne. And Kenny Aronoff did most of the drums. Many more contributed who also appeared on albums from other artists.

The Jovi like “You Give Love A Bad Name” renamed as “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” kicks off the album. And this song was huge in Australia. I guess we like to hear the same thing over and over and over again, with some subtle changes.

It’s written by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley and there is a chance you’ve heard there songs before if you’ve listened to Santana, Stevie Nicks, Kim Wilde, Celine Dion, Madonna and Lana Del Rey. And you know how I said that “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” sounds like a Jovi cut, well, Rick Nowels is married to Maria Vidal who was with Desmond Child in The Rouge and remained friends with Desmond long after. Connections everywhere.

“Circle In The Sand” is also written by Nowels and Shipley and it has this Police “King Of Pain” vibe which Gotye would use to great affect many years later with “Somebody That I Used To Know”.

“World Without You” and “I Get Weak” are written by Diane Warren.

“Fool For Love” has this “Dancing In The Dark” vibe and its written by Robbie Seidman who would write the song “Summer Rain” for her next album, with Maria Vidal.

“Nobody Owns Me” is a hard melodic rock song to rival Lita Ford and as a fan, I would have liked if Carlisle explored this style a little bit more. This one is written by Charlotte Caffey who played guitar in The Go Go’s and was one of the bands songwriters, along with Aussie, Mark Holden and Clyde Lieberman. In Hard Rock circles, Lieberman would write the song “Shout” on Hurricane’s “Over The Edge” album plus a range of other artists outside of hard rock and he also managed Rock Star Supernova, which had Tommy Lee on drums, Gilby Clarke on guitar, Jason Newsted / Johnny Colt on bass and Lukas Rossi on vocals.

The next album, “Summers Rain” also went crazy in sales in Australia and around the world and then Carlisle disappeared. She got no more promo in Australia and that was that.

“The Collection” released in 2002 and not to be confused with the other releases known as “The Collection” which came after, more or less, has all of the songs that charted and like all of her albums a who’s who of songwriters.

If you own this, there is no need to own anything else.

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

The Record Vault – Choirboys

“Big Bad Noise” was released in 1988. 

They had a break through with their self-titled debut in 1983 and then vocalist Mark Gable’s vocal cords ruptured and the band were in hiatus during 1984 and 1985, waiting for Gable to recover. The momentum gained was lost but it also gave the band time to write a lot of songs. 

Guitarist Brad Carr left the band, to be replaced by Brett Williams as they supported Bon Jovi on their 87 Aussie tour but his song contributions would live on forever.  

The single “Run To Paradise” (written by Gable and Carr) came out in December 1987.

And the song revived the pub rock movement just as it was dying. Suddenly DJ’s were out and live bands were in again. This lasted for another 5 or so years and the movement started to die off again.

For me, I couldn’t resist the A, E, D, E chord progression. 

Then the album dropped in February 1988 and by then the band had a lot of momentum. The Jovi September 87 shows went into the “Run To Paradise” single release in the December summer and now the album.

“Struggle Town” captured the regional areas as these thriving cities of the past, struggled to survive in the 80’s when the work went away. And no one wanted to go back to Struggle Town, but in the end we never really left it, living from pay to pay.

“Boys Will Be Boys” is up next. I guess we don’t have a choice, boys will be boys, and get up to fighting and what not.

Then you have tracks like “Guilty” and “Like Fire” which won’t set the charts alight, but that AC/DC like vibe in the intro/verses rocks hard and the choruses are melodic and catchy.

“Big Bad Noise” sounds like it came from a Def Leppard album.

And the rest of the album just rolls along while beers get downed, with “Fireworks”, “Gasoline” and the perfect summer cut, “One Hot Day”.

And this album gave them a three year victory lap. “Midnight Sun” came out in 1991 and it was rockier and better, but commercially it didn’t do the same business as “Big Bad Noise”. More band members came and went, with vocalist and guitarist Mark Gable and bassist Ian Hulme the mainstays from 1979 to the current day. 

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

The Record Vault – Conception

“In Your Multitude” is the first album I heard from Conception but it’s their third album.

It’s not on Spotify Australia, but YouTube has it.

And the CD had an insert with advertising of those previous albums called “Parallel Minds” and “The Last Sunset” along with some other artists on the “NOISE” label. 

Conception is from Norway and they started off as a power metal band.

Record after record, the band slowly incorporated progressive elements to their music. But it’s not progressive like a thousand notes per minute progressive. Its progressive in its poly rhythms and the atmospheric song structures. It’s the progressive style I like. Even bands like Styx and Toto had these kind of progressive moments albeit more Rock than Metal.

“In Your Multitude” is a fine progressive metal album. And if a person was new to the progressive metal genre, this album is a good entry point.

“Under a Mourning Star” kicks off the album with a syncopated guitar riff which reminds me of the “Metropolis, Pt: 1” verse riff from Dream Theater. Guitarist Tore Ostby takes centre stage here and vocalist Roy Kahn delivers a great melody in the verses and the Chorus.

“Missionary Man” has a heavy palm muted riff under a Kashmir style drum beat. And the Zeppelin influences continue with the vocal delivery and the exotic scales used. It’s perfect.

“Retrospect” starts off with a progressive riff, before it moves into a Queensryche “I Don’t Believe In Love” verse.

“Guilt” is one of the heavy songs, with a groove straight from a Pantera album and melodic vocals.

“Sanctuary” is a short acoustic song, that gives Ostby a chance to play some nice arpeggios and flamenco styled licks, while Roy Kahn delivers a haunting vocal line.

“A Million Gods’’ is the most progressive track on the album. At 7.45 minutes, it doesn’t feel like it’s that long. And the chorus is memorable. Also check out the bass playing in the verse. It takes centre stage, the way Ostby took centre stage on “Under A Mourning Star”. 

“Some Wounds” has a heavy verse and an arena rock chorus. 

“Carnal Comprehension” is a hard rock song with some nice guitar hero moments. This would become the sound on the next album which alienated a lot of fans.

“Solar Serpent” has a great bass riff in the verse and a melodic chorus. It reminds me of Accept and Judas Priest, with acoustic guitars, fast bass and drums and fast electric guitar solos.

“In Your Multitude” closes the album with its Pink Floyd influences in the intro before the full band kicks in after a minute, sort of like Black Sabbath’s “Sign Of The Southern Cross”. Make sure you check out the guitar solo that goes on and on after 4 minutes.

And they did one more album in the 90’s called “Flow” and then disappeared for a long time. Members went into the band’s Kamelot, Ark and Royal Hunt.

And in the last 4 years they have re-appeared.

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Music, My Stories

It’s All Rock To Me

I looked at Spotify’s Global Top 50 and I didn’t see a rock artist listed. It was all hip hop and collaborations of other hip hop artists. The Global Viral Top 50 also presented with a list of unknown artists to me. Artists like WhoHeem, Salem Ilese, Ritt Momney, JVKE and I could go on and list so many names and not one of them would be known to me.

And then Spotify releases data reports and tells everyone that hard rock and heavy metal artists are the most listened to. But the Top 50 and Viral lists doesn’t support that.

So people listen to what is popular and they listen a lot while the song is popular and then move on to the next big thing. But in rock and metal, people listen and they keep on listening for years and years.

So the streaming money is in rock. But the labels and the media that supports the labels like to report that hip hop is dominant.

It’s not.

Even in the live arena, rock bands dominate, in ticket sales and merch. And COVID19 has hurt these artists, that’s for sure, but it’s also given these artists an opportunity to get new music done, or a new book, or a new collaboration, or a new side project or something else.

Because music will keep paying forever. Streaming makes that a reality. It scales. As long as you hold the copyrights for your songs, they will pay you and your kids and your grandkids for a long time, because copyright takes a long time to expire these days. And the labels are pushing for never.

And going to a rock and roll show, it’s not all oldsters. There is a whole new audience there, its cyclical and if the kids can’t pay the high prices for the tickets, their parents will.

Remember in the pre-streaming era, a sale was a sale. And if you listened to a record or not was irrelevant. It was still a sale to the label and the artist thought they had a fan. But that was never certain.

But rock is not seen as rock anymore. There is pop rock, classic rock, post rock, hard rock, melodic rock, heavy rock, progressive rock, folk rock, stoner rock, sludge rock, punk rock and I can keep going with the different terms. In other words, there are so many niches and artist are playing to these niches and sustaining.

Hard Rock never went away when grunge came. It was still there albeit at a reduced release schedule and fans of the genre still purchased the albums that got released. And that niche is still there.

For artists, they need to realise it’s about subscriptions. Adobe went to monthly subscriptions and so did Microsoft. Apple is bundling all of their wares into a nice subscription. Netflix is subscription based. So is Amazon. For a small monthly fee, you get a lot of content and in music, you almost get the history of recorded music at your fingertips.

If you still want to create a CD, remember that CD sales thrived because people were rebuying their previous vinyl and cassette albums on CD and people who had computers with CD drives were purchasing CD’s. Computers don’t even come with CD drives anymore.

And for those who are upset that Daniel Ek is a billionaire, remember that without Spotify, Universal and Warner Music would be worth a lot less.

Streaming was gonna happen, because it’s on demand distribution. And people like that.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Peter Criss

It’s filed under C.

The cover was interesting and that got me interested in the album. Todd Schorr is the creator and his take on surrealism fused with pop proved interesting.

Released in 1980 it did nothing commercially.

I don’t think the lack of sales had much to do with the album overall, but more because of the “too much of Kiss” marketing, as “Unmasked” also didn’t do great numbers.

The title track “Out Of Control” has a catchy piano riff and the bluesy voice of Peter Criss. “In Trouble Again” sounds like it could have come from the “Dressed To Kill” album.

“Where Will They Run?” was a surprise, with that hooky piano riff in the Chorus and subdued pop vocal.

And that is all for me.

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

The First Post

The first post I did on the site was back in July 2012.

It was titled Motley Crue – Sex.

It was a short post which said:

I just heard the new Motley Crue song – Sex.  It looks like Nikki Sixx was listening to Stevie Wrights, “Evie” when he wrote the opening riff and verse melody.

Anyone made the link yet.

I would also like to add “Mississippi Queen” from Mountain to the list of influences. Then again the band Dust’s first album has a song called “Chasing Ladies” and it sounds like “Mississippi Queen” in the intro guitar riff.

Not sure what came first.

And if you read the write up on Songfacts, Leslie West mentions the link between “Up On Cripple Creek” from The Band and how the feel of the vocal and groove inspired “Mississippi Queen”.

Nikki Sixx does mention a fair bit in interviews and Twitter to take from your influences.

And as a by-product of having a post with “sex” in the title, I got a shitload of spam from sex sites because of it.

So how does the Crue song stack up?

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