Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Gaming The Charts and Losing The Masters

Any person involved within the recording industry and the music industry overall, is looking to make money from the hard work of an artist. Especially an artist who has tunes which make some coin.

And the record labels, well they are even looking at making money in any way they can for doing even less then what they did before.

I’m not sure if people have realised, but depending on the artist, there is a high chance that you might have purchased a concert ticket which included a free download of the most recent album of the artist. You see, artists and the labels alike, still think the charts matter and that a platinum record hanging up on someone’s wall is super important.

Bon Jovi and Metallica are two artists that come to mind quickly who have done ticket/album bundles.

And concert promoters don’t like these bundles. The fan is unable to say no, and since the price of the concert ticket looks to be the same, they are thinking free album.

But ticket pricing is a tough gig. If the price is too low, the show sells out and the scalpers along with the reselling market make the money because of the demand.

If the price is too high, then the show is at risk of not selling out and the money lost is carried by the promoter who is taking the risk. And when it comes to bundles, the labels just want the promoters to add extra dollars to the tickets. But, if the promoters thought the tickets would sell for $5 more, the tickets would be sold at that price.

So the $5 album charge comes out as a tax against the show takings. If you are like Bon Jovi and you get 20,000 people to your show, the show’s takings will need to pay $100K to the record label. Do 30 shows in the tour with the same numbers and that’s $3 million, the record labels get and as a byproduct the artist gets a platinum record on their wall.

And the label didn’t spend a cent on marketing but still made a cool $3 million in album sales, because of the hard work done by others on the road.

So if the money comes out of the concert takings, who is actually paying for the albums. Basically, the cost is absorbed by the artists , who are actually buying their own albums.

There is a great blog post over at Bob Lefsetz about it.

Then you have the pop artists who have all agreed to have T-Shirt and Album bundles, beanie and album bundles and so forth. If you don’t, believe me, check out the story over at the NY Times.

Gaming the system, are they….

The article states that from the 39 album releases that went to number 1 with a bullet last year, half of them had a concert ticket or clothing bundle attached to the sale. One artist, sold album bundles with key chains, hats and tickets. Another artist had the album bundled with energy drinks.

Bon Jovi is also mentioned in the story, about how their 12 month old album returned to the top of the charts in 2018 because of a concert ticket/album bundle and how the following week it more or less disappeared from the charts.

And maybe if the record labels cared about keeping the masters of some of the best music safe instead of gaming the system, the masters of some of the most popular recordings wouldn’t be lost.

Universal Music didn’t care enough to keep the masters of the recordings safe, and they got destroyed in a fire. I suppose the New York Times article, “The Day The Music Burned” sums it all up.

And talk about a cover up.

The fire happened in 2008 and finally, we are getting to hear about the lost Vault recordings. Even the acts weren’t aware. Acts like Chuck Berry, B.B. King, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, the Eagles, Don Henley, Aerosmith, Steely Dan, Iggy Pop, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Police, Sting, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Beck, Sheryl Crow and Eminem.

From reading the articles, it looks like any artist who released on Geffen Records, has no original masters, unless the artist had never handed the master tapes over to the label or took the masters back at a particular point in time. When you look at hard rock and heavy metal, we are talking about big artists like Guns N Roses, Whitesnake and Aerosmith who had released career defining albums on Geffen. Add to that list acts like Y&T, Pride and Glory, Blue Murder, Black N Blue, Galactic Cowboys, Asia, Coverdale/Page, Nelson, Salty Dog, Tesla, Sammy Hagar, Tyketto and Junkyard.

So are all the remastered editions coming out recently, really remastered from the original source tapes. Because Universal hasn’t come clean on what has been lost. And when artists were questioned on Twitter by their fans, if their masters were safe, they either answered “no” or “I don’t know”.

But hey, piracy is still the issue.

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

Twisted Sister and Slaughter

“Love Is For Suckers” was released in 1987. It was meant to be Dee Snider’s first solo album. Instead it was the final Twisted Sister album.

Twisted Sister had released three career defining albums in “Under The Blade”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” and “Stay Hungry”. Then came “Come Out And Play” and it didn’t do as well as “Stay Hungry” however that didn’t mean it was a shit album.

But hey, when something doesn’t meet the sales expectations, someone needs to be blamed. The tour also had a lot of cancellations and half empty arenas.

One of my favourite songs is “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)”. A simple riff in the key of Am kicks off the song before it morphs into an A5 Power Chord groove like Acca Dacca.

Who the hell are they to say
What we can do and how we can play

Anyone who has the money or the power or the authority, will always be looking to control others. It happens at home, in school, in the workplace and in society. Even in your friends circle you will have someone who is like a pseudo leader.

We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

I always saw the WE in the song, as the metal heads.

But by 1987, we had woken up and we needed something else lyrically. We had been hearing this same message for the last 6 years. Metallica nailed it a year later when they released an album about the corruption in the justice system. Black Sabbath Ozzy era came back into the public conversation because we liked to “smoke the sky” and there’s no better song for it then “Sweat Leaf”. Motley Corabi Crue wrote a killer track as well in 1994 called “Smoke The Sky”.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

It’s the war cry against the censorship that was taking place against heavy metal music. But the troops weren’t sure if they wanted to commit. A troop who was a rebel in 1983 and wasn’t gonna take it, had now graduated and is in college and are on their way to becoming part of the degree factory and another stat in the workforce.

“Tonight”, “Me And The Boys” with its “Summer Of 69” style riff and “Love Is For Suckers” are all strong songs.

“Hot Love” and “Yeah Right” are also cool and they round out the quality of the album for me.

The album had “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “Girls Girls Girls” from Motley Crue, and “Whitesnake 1987” to compete against. All of those albums were in the Billboard Top 10. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was just outside at number 13. “5150” was doing great business and “The Final Countdown” was also setting charts alight. To top it off, two 87 releases were slowly percolating lower down the charts getting ready to break through. Those albums being “Appetite For Destruction” and “Hysteria”.

Basically, a lot of competition for people’s ears and minds.

Going into 1995, Slaughter went from platinum darlings in 1992, to a band without a label. Their label Chrysalis Records was taken over by EMI and EMI didn’t have room for Slaughter.

How things change in three years?

The band also had issues within. Guitarist Tim Kelly was arrested on drug trafficking charges and had a legal mess up until 1997. A year later he would tragically die in a traffic accident. Main co-songwriter and bassist Dana Strum also injured his hand in a motorcycle accident so that delayed the writing and recording.

Lucky for the band a new label called CMC International was formed in 1991 and all they wanted to sign was hard rock and heavy metal artists.

So in 1995, Slaughter finally released “Fear No Evil” and no one even knew or cared. This is what its like when the record label doesn’t know how to compete in the current market place. Just because Grunge and Industrial Metal became mainstream it didn’t mean that hard rock and classic heavy metal had no audience. But the labels had no idea who and where the audience was. Most record shops would promote what was popular and only the ones who specialize in genres would have the rock and metal and even those stores would promote what was popular.

“Live Like There’s No Tomorrow” kicks off with an “Immigrant Song” vibe and wail, and you need to check out the solo section. And if you’re looking for a ballad like Slaughter, the opening track delivers a blistering speed metal song which I class as one of Slaughter’s best.

“Keep lookin’ forward don’t ever look back”, is one of the lines which stood out. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Mark Slaughter was thinking of Tim Kelly when he wrote the lines, “you’re livin’ everyday of your life like there’s no tomorrow”.

“Hard Times” is another song which is ignored but it shouldn’t be. Just press play to hear the intro riff which reminds me of “The Headless Cross” from Black Sabbath.

It also has cool lyrics like “so now you learn from the concrete and pavement, it’s hard to see through city lies” and those lines connected. Because failing leads to growth and the city lies shows how people are always scheming to get ahead to the detriment of others.

“Prelude / Outta My Head” is a great combination of an acoustical piece leading into a rocking track. These two songs wouldn’t light up the charts but they would become fan favorites. The riff is good and the lead break is excellent but the lyrics didn’t match the excellence.

“Unknown Destination” has a lead section which I dig and the lyrics about travellers from the East who don’t know where they’ll be tomorrow captures the gypsy life and maybe we all should be doing a bit of that. Instead we get up and get to our first destination, the office and then get to our next destination, home. In between, there will be other destinations like school drop off or pick up and getting some groceries from food outlets.

Anyway the messages I get from the two albums is don’t let people in power abuse your rights and don’t be afraid to fail, because if you want to live your life like no tomorrow you need to feel the concrete and pavement.

And both artists felt the concrete and pavement a few times in their careers.

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XYZ and Danger Danger

I’ve got both XYZ albums on LP. Well, I got the debut because Don Dokken was producing and I liked it, so I got the next one a few years after it came out, which by then, I think the band was already broken up, because hey, hair bands didn’t warrant call backs from the label suits anymore. And the majority of the magazines didn’t report on the progress of bands who weren’t popular anymore.

“Hungry” was released in 1991 and recently it has been coming up on my Spotify home page as an album I should play, based on my past listening, because up until today, I haven’t played it on Spotify at all. Well, Mr Algorithm, I guess it’s your luck day as I’m pressing play.

One thing that stood out for me for about XYZ is the music. I liked it, I could relate to it and I even wrote riffs similar to it. And the lead breaks rocked and shredded and wailed when they needed to.

But music is a business and record labels want to make money at an exponential rate. So the labels got producers to work with bands and that work involved making the band sound like other bands, especially the singers.

At one point in time, I couldn’t tell the difference between Tangier, Babylon A.D, XYZ, Danger Danger, Hericane Alice, XYZ and Roxy Blue. To even prove my point, I did a mix tape of songs from all their albums that had a similar vocal style, and even though side one had seven different artists, it all sounded like an album from just ONE artist. Maybe a future blogpost right here.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back to XYZ.

The best song on the album is “Off To The Sun”. The feel of this song is epic, reminding me of the 70’s artists, it’s also very Dio like in the vocals, the music is excellent and the lead break from Marc Diglio is the stuff of guitar heroes. Another great guitar player who is virtually unknown.

“Face Down In The Gutter”, “Don’t Say No” and “When The Night Comes Down” contain great riffage and music overall plus the lead breaks from Marc Diglio is the stuff of guitar heroes.

“I’ve got JD eyes so I don’t need to see, to know I have landed where I wanted to be” is from “Face Down In The Gutter”. If the lyric didn’t connect with people, then they obviously don’t drink and there was a time in my life I didn’t trust anyone who didn’t drink. Anyway, who hasn’t tried to drown their sorrows in a bottle of whiskey.

The next best song is “The Sun Also Rises In Hell”. Great title and it’s basically a speed metal song that Helloween would be proud of, hell even Dokken wrote similar songs like “Till The Living End” and “Lightning Strikes Again”. Actually, this song does have elements of the Dokken songs and like all of the other songs, it has another unbelievable guitar solo from Marc Siglio.

The self-titled debut from Danger Danger was up next, again another recommendation from Mr Algorithm.

I have it on LP and I must say, I like this album and the guitar playing from Tony “Bruno” Rey (Saraya guitarist) on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 and Andy Timmons on tracks 3 and 7.

Along with Marc Soligo mentioned above and Bill Leverty from Firehouse, these guys could take a stock chord progression and make it sound exciting. And when it came time to shine, they sure knew how to make that moment great. In relation to Tony Rey, you really need to hear the work he did with Saraya. Great song writing, great playing and killer leads.

Also, all of these guys merged so many different styles like EVH tapping, Malmsteen sweeps, Bratta melodicism, Rhoads modal style of writing, Sykes Pentatonic lines and whatever blues artist influenced them into a cohesive, melodic, rocky, metally style.

“Naughty Naughty” and  “Under The Gun” is a tickling melodic one two combination punch. It’s not a hard punch like “Blackened” and “Justice For All” from Metallica but a playful punch.

My more metal mates couldn’t understand how I could sit down to learn “And Justice For All” and “Under The Gun” in the same sitting. To them, it was sacrilegious to like Danger Danger and Metallica. Hell, even James Hetfield fostered this attitude, as he had a guitar that said “Kill Bon Jovi” on it. To me, I was one of those fans of the early 80’s who liked metal and rock before the crowd splintered into the different genres made up by the record label marketing teams. So as long as it got my head moving, my foot tapping, I was in.

Going back to Hetfield, he was a rebel and we connected with him. He had his acne problems (we all had similar problems) which is why he started to grow his beard and goatee and he wasn’t a pretty boy, even though Lars probably wanted the band to become cultural stylists, which he finally did with the “Load” albums.

And Hetfield put his views out. He laid into Lars for his drumming, he spoke his mind in interviews and even “the Kill Bon Jovi” writing on his guitar was a viewpoint at the commercialism of music. But money trumps everything, and it changes everything. Even James Hetfield.

Anyway, I digress again. Back to Danger Danger.

“Saturday Nite” takes “Blackout” from Scorpions and makes it even more mainstream. It sounds like a million other songs about getting out and partying on a Saturday night, but if you haven’t heard any of those, well then this one sounds original.

“Don’t Walk Away” is one of my favourite tracks. Maybe because it sounds like “Hysteria”. Maybe because of the way Rey decorates the stock chord progression with little guitar licks and motifs here and there. Maybe because of the guitar solo, and when it all comes together, it sounds great.

“Bang Bang” is a dumb song lyrically. The only saving grace is the lead break from Rey and the vocal melody. All they need is better words. “Rock America” could have been on a Bruce Springsteen album, or even a Night Ranger album. Even though the song is a good listen, and it has a “be who you want to be, this is your life” message, by 1989, America had been rocked for nearly 8 years, and it was looking for a different rock. Then again, it didn’t stop me from listening to this song over and over again. And the lead break from Timmons is excellent.  

“Boys Will Be Boys” was a single, but it didn’t connect with me as the lyrics were crap. By 1989, most boys were “smoking the sky” as Corabi sang in the self-tilted Motley Crue album a few years later, and doing the rattlesnake shake at home and hoping that the girls wanted to have fun with them, because the boys didn’t have the balls to make the move.

In “Live It Up”, Bruno Ravel and Steve West tell us if we work hard from 9 to 5, the tax man will leave us with just enough to survive, but we shouldn’t worry about that, we got to live it up.

So what’s the message today from these two bands. Live it up, be who you want to be and if that’s not enough, that JD bottle is waiting to be consumed.

Enjoy.

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Kingdom Come and White Lion

“In Your Face” is a better album than the debut, but it didn’t do nowhere near the same business in sales. It gets me thinking how a lot of the bands who got platinum sales couldn’t back it up a few years later.

Maybe that whole payola deal the labels got done for, played a part in getting acts “fake” sales. Maybe it was too much Kingdom Come saturation (as this album came out a year after the debut) or the stupid interviews they did, denying they even knew who Led Zep was.

Those years of 1986 to 1989 are also those magical years of when hard rock and metal took over the mainstream, which all began in 1983.

The opening track “Do You Like It” is asking me if I like the fire of rock and roll burning out of control and I couldn’t get enough of it. So I went into the next track and “Who Do You Love” comes up next, a combination between Euro Pop and British Rock.

“The Wind” is a classic track, combining AC/DC (intro and chorus) with Led Zep (verses) and Lenny Wolf’s unique Euro pop sensibilities crossed with Robert Plant. And the wind was going to blow regardless if you wanted it too. And that place in time, the paradise you had is gone as quickly as it began, like the careers of many bands classed as “hair bands”.

“Gotta Go (Cant Wage A War)” talks about a red sky and the sound of guns bringing pain and bloody rain in a war a person is fighting in but they don’t know why.

“Highway 6” starts off as this country bluegrass twangy song, before it morphs into a fast rocker and for some reason I feel like I am listening to the Joe Lynn Turner version of Rainbow.

The lyric line “I lost a friend of mine who took the road, he felt the world had turned and left him cold” remains with me.

More so today than ever in the history of human existence, do people feel left out in the cold. They go to social media to see people enjoying what they don’t have and then they try to mimic that enjoyment themselves, all in a fools game to be like someone else.

“Perfect O” is pretty self-explanatory and “Just Like A Wild Rose” is all bluesy Led Zep in the verse, but when the Chorus kicks in, its brilliant.

And the lyric line of how the storm comes and goes slow, she will love him and go, just like a wild rose works.

“Overrated” sounds like it came from the pubs of Australia. “Mean Dirty Joe” has excellent music, an excellent vocal melody but terrible lyrics and a terrible title.

Finally the piece d resistance is “Stargazer” (I even did a whole blog post just on the song) and Lenny questioning, is there something more when it comes time to meet our maker.

“Big Game” from White Lion came out the same year, and it didn’t sell as much as “Pride” so the band went on the defensive and said that the label made them rush an album to capitalise on the success of “Pride”. To me, sales define if the album reached critical mass, however it doesn’t define the quality of the work.

While Kingdom Come sang about “Mean Dirty Joe” and a “Perfect O” in some songs, White Lion (and many say to their detriment) sang about Greenpeace, apartheid and domestic violence.

So “Big Game” is a big record with a big statement and it’s still relevant today than anything that appeared on “Pride” except for “When The Children Cry” and “Lady In The Valley”.

From the opening major key intro of “Goin Home Tonight” I felt part of the vinyl grooves. And “Dirty Woman” has music which is excellent, but the lyrics and the title let it down.

The piece d resistance in this case is “Little Fighter” and like the message in the song, every single soul who has been wronged, broken, abused or knocked down, has to rise again and show the world who they really are. If Mike Tramp never told anyone it was about the sinking of the “Rainbow Warrior” Greenpeace boat, it would have been the hit that made the album. And the message is still relevant today, but since we are surrounded by echo chambers, the rising up part is happening on all sides of left and right and centre whether you like it or not.

“Broken Home” doesn’t need explaining, except how good is the music from Bratta.

But like all 80’s hard rock acts, they kept on moving between subject matter about loneliness, broken homes, saving the planet to relationships and dirty women. And I struggled taking bands seriously when they moved between so many different topics lyrically. “Baby Be Mine” is a perfect example of great music, great guitar playing and terrible lyrics and a terrible title.

But when they go to “Living On The Edge” they nail it again. The lyrics resonate straight away. I had a pair of 501 blue jeans that had seen better days, and who didn’t want to pack their bags and ride into the sunset once upon a time. Then again, these days, kids want to live with their parents, and stay comfortable. And how many people graduated with degrees, but couldn’t get jobs for what they studied for.

“Hot For Teacher” got a re-write in “Let’s Get Crazy”. And I can live with this song and the lyrics, because it’s got a cool party vibe, a lot better than “Dirty Woman” and “Baby Be Mine”.

I can also live with “Don’t Say It’s Over” as a cool relationship gone sour song, and a guitar solo which needs to be heard. “If My Mind Is Evil” has one of my favourite riffs and vocal melodies to match, along with a guitar solo which is a song in its own right. But those lyrics are just dumb, dumb, dumb.

“Radar Love” as a White Lion song works perfectly and “Cry For Freedom” is brilliant and effective in its simplicity.

After the sales didn’t meet expectations, the band told the label to give them time and let them make the album they want. They did that with “Mane Attraction” and it didn’t even make a commercial dent, and the band splintered and when they walked away from each other, no one from the label called to see what happened.  

So the message for the day, from Kingdom Come and White Lion is “Life is short, so keep getting back up when relationships go bad or the family dynamic breaks down and don’t let people get the better of you and take away the freedom you have. Always test yourself with new horizons because when it’s time to meet your maker, you are out of time”.

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Y and T and Hurricane

It was rainy outside and I needed some tunes, so I went to my trusty Spotify app.

And when I went to the home page Y&T’s “In Rock We Trust” album was staring at me to press play.

And when the opening F#m chords started, I felt the same way I did back in the day when I first heard “Rock And Roll’s Gonna Save The World”.

I believe it will happen. While most artists now say yes to everything and that involves playing private shows for corporations or oil sheiks, music will one day be the saviour. Wait, its already happened in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Adventure”, and how “God Gave Rock and Roll” to everyone.

Then again when Dave Meniketti started singing about kings and queens and presidents and Arab sheiks trying to take the world in hand, and fighting over chunks of sand, I wasn’t sure if it was 1984 or 2019. Not much has changed except that you don’t need to fight when you’re rocking right.

But the lines that resonated with me, are how we have the power to lift our voices up and scream.

So why aren’t we doing it?

Our ABC Newsroom got raided today by the Federal Police all because they didn’t like a story the station ran a few years ago on Afghanistan and our military abuses. And no one has raised an eyebrow. By tomorrow, its forgotten news. We cycle through things so fast that nothing lasts.

Then the drum intro starts for “Life, Life, Life” and bands like Slaughter built their career of writing songs like this. But Y&T were first. They were first at everything except mainstream success. And you can tell they wanted it, because they started chasing the mainstream between 1987 and 1991.

The lyrics of a bloody scene as a missile rushes in and the sound of the world coming to an end could have come from a thrash metal release. But this is Y&T.

That pre- chorus lyric of “it’s too late” captures the melody and the urgency of the era perfectly because even though the politicians are voted in by the people, they don’t work for the people. They work for whoever pays them.

Meniketti also told us to “Pull our head out of the sand” and “Break the chain of command”. 35 years later, we still haven’t listened. The chain of command has gotten even more out of reach, while we took the lies hook, line and sinker and spiralled into debt and became enslaved into the system. And so many of us will just say, well I guess that’s life, life, life.

“Masters and Slaves” continues the trend.

That harmony lead in “I’ll Keep On Believin” gets me coming back to the song, just to hear it. And Great White took the music from “Break Out Tonight”, changed the lyrics and  called it “Rock Me” to platinum success.

And while side one was political in nature to a certain degree, side two kicks off with bondage and relationships at the forefront in “Lipstick and Leather”. Personally, the music is rocking and heavy and more serious lyrics would have suited it a lot better.

But when the riff from “Don’t Stop Runnin’” kicks in, I was re-hooked. Although I don’t relate to the lyrics that bassist Phil Kennemore wrote, the chorus got me hooked and I transposed my own message to the song, to just keep on going, chasing my dreams and living my life on my terms and not anyone else’s. Of course the song, is not about that, but hey, we all form our own unique connection.  

And side two continues the theme about relationships, with “(Your Love Is) Drivin Me Crazy” (has a great intro/verse riff), “She’s A Liar” (forgettable) and “This Time” (a great ballad which was a big hit in the City Of Thunder Bay) .

For the record, “This Time” has got some pretty cool guitar playing, from the intro arpeggios to the lead breaks and how can you not like the big major key chorus.

And then I was “Over The Edge” with Hurricane, the band which featured the younger brothers of Rudy Sarzo and Carlos Cavazo from Quiet Riot in a role reversal. Robert Sarzo played guitar and Tony Cavazo played bass. I really liked this album. It’s got a perfect blend of rock, metal overtones and pop like sensibilities to connect.

“I hope tomorrow I will be stronger than today” is the lyric line which connected. Bravado is a big thing in male culture. We can’t show weakness, we can’t act like a sissy, we need to be strong and life has a funny way of making sure we are in situations we’re we show weakness.

And that harmony lead from Robert Sarzo nails it and then he goes into shred like mode.

The first version of “I’m Eighteen” I ever heard was here, on this album. “I get confused every day” is the lyric which I like, because, as you get older, you need to start making real choices, and I didn’t have enough information to make those choices, but I still made them, and man I was confused. But as the song goes, I’m eighteen and I like it.

“I’m On To You” has a simple groove and riff which gets me. The lyrics, don’t really do anything for me, but hey, this was the thing with 80’s bands that irked me; they would move between songs of rebellion, to songs about relationships and it wouldn’t flow. But the lead break was enough to get me listening and pressing repeat and the vocal melodies in the Chorus, you got to admit deserved a higher spot on the charts.

“Messin’ With A Hurricane” rocks melodically and I like the lyric line about scratching for what I got and how no one is going to take it away, cause if they mess with me, they are messing with a hurricane.

“Insane” showed how insane the band was to include it, but “We Are Strong” made up for it with its Boston like influences.

“Life is tough sometimes and it tries to get you down” and it always will, because from our first breath, we are fighting to stay alive. And that guitar solo from Sarzo, mimics Sambora’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” guitar solo and even the chord progressions are all pretty similar to songs which had a co-write by Desmond Child.

That palm-muted, fast picked opening line was enough to get me interested in “Spark In My Heart”. ‘I’ve got to be myself, learn to be a man”, along with “pack up my fears and leave them all behind” are the lyric lines which connected.

It’s a coming of age of when you need to separate from the family, the comforts of home and walk your own path. Hell, my Dad, didn’t talk to me for months when I moved out, yet, it was okay for him to cross an ocean and come to another country in order to “walk his own path”.

“Shout” should have been the closer. “You got to shout out to the world” and “don’t let anyone stand in your way” is the message. It was brilliant, and deserved to be heard.

Kelly Hansen on vocals is excellent and his talents have taken him all the way to Foreigner, a gig he has held since 2005. Robert Sarzo nailed it on guitar on this album, but was replaced by Doug Aldrich for the next album (which I purchased, but was pissed off because Sarzo was not on it) and is part of the band in its current incarnation. Tony Cavazo is underrated and in the shadows of his more famous brother, and Jay Schellen at that time was one of the finest hard rock drummers around and very underrated.

And the message for the day folks is don’t get comfortable and keep on running to find your own path, your own voice and to use that voice when you need to.

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

The Record Vault – Alice In Chains

I remember reading a story in the Hot Metal mag I used to buy about the “Clash Of The Titans” tour. It talked about how an unknown opening band called “Alice In Chains” got booed and garbage thrown at them. The review went on to say how they kept on delivering an energetic set and it’s a band to watch for the future.

But I still didn’t commit.

I taped the video clips “Man In The Box”, “Would” and “Down In A Hole” on a VHS tape. Watched em, like how I did the 80’s clips.

But I still didn’t commit.

And then “Jar Of Flies” came out and I purchased.

So why did I buy this album?

It was a guitar transcription of “Rotten Apple” in Guitar School that sealed the deal.

Rotten Apple

The guitar riff in the intro hooked me in. It’s in the vein of Em to D (or Dm to C depending on the key) chord progressions which I dig.

Nutshell

And yet I fight
This battle all alone
No one to cry to
No place to call home

Even when we are surrounded by family and friends, we feel alone. There is always something which triggers these feelings.

I Stay Away

This song was also transcribed in the guitar magazines, and so it should, as the riff is pretty cool.

Dirt

It was a no brainer to buy this album after “Jar Of Flies”. I committed to the band and now I needed to complete my collection.

Them Bones

I used to cover this song in a band I was in. I love that opening riff, and how it morphs into the half time feel in the Verse’s. Also the lead break, rocks. And the main thing which stands out is the phrasing of the vocal melodies.

Dam That River

It’s a heavy rock song and a bloody damn good one at that. Again the riffs hook me in, the vocal phrasing stands out and the lead break, also rocks.

Rain When I Die

The groove is addictive and the slower tempo makes every note of the riffs stand out.

Down In A Hole

In the key of A minor (one of my favourite keys, just think of all the white keys on the piano, they are the notes in the A minor scale).

The melodies hook me in and the lyrical message is deep. You could take it in a good way or in a bad way. I always saw music as an escape, a release from the burdens of life. So listening to music, regardless of the lyrical message, gave me hope and strength to face any obstacle.

Dirt

It’s got this exotic sounding riff which gets me.

Angry Chair

How good is that clean tone riff?

If there is a song which sounds like the Seattle sound, then this is the one.

Would

Another song I used to cover in bands.

The bass groove is excellent (of course I knew Mike Inez from his time with Ozzy and that “No More Tears” bass riff) which allows Jerry Cantrell to decorate the song with little embellishments here and there.

And I didn’t go any deeper after this album for some reason.

I doubled down into the sounds of the 70s during the 90s and snapped up any new release from the 80s artists in the 90s.

It happens.

We fall in and out of love with artists.

Regardless, these two albums still stand the test of time and it’s cool to see AIC still making new music.

I did end up hearing the debut and self-titled album and apart from the singles, I couldn’t recall anything else that hooked me in.

And for the rebooted version of the band, I have streamed the albums and again I can’t recall anything that hooked me in.

But I’m still interested as I go back to hear them so I’ll see what comes next.

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Music, My Stories

Sameness

We are living with too much of the same. A lack of variety.

There is a new Star Wars flick which will borrow from other Star War flicks, a new Transformers movie or spin off which will be much of the same of what came before. A new Joker flick or a new Batman reboot. A new Terminator flick, a new Spiderman flick/reboot and another Avengers saves the day movie. And it just goes on and on and on. And if you’ve watched one movie in the franchise, it’s like you’ve seen em all.

Game Of Thrones became part of the public conversation, then all companies who produce TV shows decided they needed something similar. We got Vikings, Frontier, The Last Kingdom, Spartacus, Rome and Outlander. Amazon is now bringing a Lord of the Rings prequel, and HBO has three different GoT pilots on order.

And the reason why GoT was special was the story and the details in the story. Then when the TV show surpassed the books, the show creators got an outline and they proved incapable of filling in the detail, so they did what every writer their age does, they followed Hollywood’s lead.

The tech titans all want us to gravitate to their products. Facebook wants us to use it, Snapchat wants us to use it and Twitter wants us to use it. In the end, it is the same of what came before.

To surround us with “yes” answers and “likes”.

Algorithms on their sites and on the apps you visit, know what you like and click on and those algorithms also know what you ignore and it’s working super hard to surround you with the sameness of your views and to confirm that you’re right and to make you feel safe.

And if the algorithms notice that you have something you’re interested in, well don’t be surprised to see more of it, in your emails and feeds. This can be bad and good for you depending on your point of view and if you live in a bubble instead of reading critically

Amazon wants us to buy from it and use it for streaming, Apple wants us to buy from it and use it for streaming and Spotify wants us to use it as well.

And what we see on these services is created by AI algorithms, which again, brings back the same content for each user. Then again has anything really changed. The largest selling magazine for decades was the TV guide, which covered three channels and told people what to watch. And we paid to be told what to do.

We get a new metal or rock band who does okay and suddenly we get hundreds of other bands who sound the same. Even the sounds have similar production because what worked for one band has to work for the next. And even though the bands are different, they start to sound the same.

Don’t believe me, just google “Metallica St Anger” and see how people respond when the sound production is different to what they have been brainwashed to like.

When I started buying 70s albums in the 90s, I was blown away at how different each record sounded. Listening to the 70s period, I didn’t get a sense of sameness with each recording as I did get towards the end of the 80s and even into the 90s.

Would guitarists who had a voice like Ace Frehley, get a chance to do a solo album these days, with them singing lead vocals?

To me it feels like listeners are conditioned to believe via “The Voice”, “The Idol shows” or the “X-Factor shows” that people need to have unbelievable voices that all sound the same to make it.

Tell that to James Hetfield, Vince Neil and Ozzy Osbourne. They didn’t have the best voices on the planet, but they had a bigger career than those people on the shows. And the bands they where in, did what they wanted to do.

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