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

The Pirate Vault #5

The Pirate Vault box keeps on producing some great memories.

Richie Kotzen – Fever Dream and Cacophony – Metal Symphony

I was in a shred mindset between 1989 and 1992 and I was buying CD’s and albums from Shrapnel artists. And I got these albums dubbed a few years after they came out and i picked em up on CD and LP not soon after.

I heard about Cacophony from interviews I read about Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, who of course at the time had gigs with David Lee Roth and Megadeth. And the music world only got to see a brief appearance of an unbelievable musician in Jason Becker, who still writes music via his eye movements and a system his dad has set up for him due to Lou Gehrig’s disease otherwise known as ALS.  

And of course, Richie Kotzen had the Poison guitar slot, in which he co-write a brilliant blues, rock and soul album called “Native Tongue” (which could have been his solo album) and the busy man he was, he also took Ricki Rockett’s fiancé mid tour. “Layla” from Eric Clapton comes to mind right now.

Dinosaur Jr – Without A Sound and Hand It Over

I was in a hard rock band with a drummer who was into grungy sounding bands, so while I exposed him to Dream Theater, he told me to sink my teeth into Dinosaur Jr.

I was hooked from the opening arpeggios and single note lines in “Feel The Pain” from the “Without A Sound” album released in 1994. And the heaviness of opening track “I Don’t Think” from the “Hand It Over” album released in 1997.

Fuel – Sunburn and Santana – 3

Fuel had significant chart success in Australia with “Shimmer”, however I didn’t commit financially until the second album came out. Another band member did commit, so it was a no brainer to copy this album from them, while another band member really enjoyed the jam aspects of Santana – 3, so in order to understand what they meant at band practice, I had to dub this album.

And it’s funny how in the early 2000’s, I was experiencing a new release and a release more than 30 years old. The beauty of music is that everyone forms a connection at different times.

And the songs “Taboo” and “Toussaint L’Overture” have some of the best and emotive guitar solo work Carlos has recorded on tape. They still make the hairs on the back of my neck rise.

AC/DC – Bon Scott compilation

My mate, Mick is a mad ACCA fan. When he lived in NY for about 12 years, he saw them on every tour, every night. When they come to Australia, he sees the Sydney shows.

One day in a suburban street in Australia, at a time far away sometime in the 80s, I asked him if he was keen to make our own Best Off compilation of Bon Scott material while we polished off a box of beer.

So off to work we went, debating which song should make it and which song shouldn’t. And a few hours later the holy grail of Bon Scott material that we classified as essential was ready to be blasted in the car stereo.

And I still hold that view to this day.

We were meant to meet and eventually do a Brian Johnson compilation, but life got in the way and we never did.

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

The Record Vault – Bobaflex

I remember reading in Guitar World about “Bobaflex” and the article said they’re a hard rock band, so when I purchased the album, released in 2005, I had no idea what to expect.

The first thing I didn’t expect was for the great art and attention to detail to make the booklet a worthy addition, instead of the usual band photo, thank you credits and lyrics.

So what is “Apologize For Nothing” about?

Aggressive, syncopated guitars, with aggressive and melodic vocals. And yes, its roots lay in hard rock and heavy metal with a modern sound. Think of Guns N Roses merged with Faith No More merged with Rob Zombie merged with System of A Down merged with Sevendust merged with Galactic Cowboys. Yep I think that sums it up.

“Six Feet Underground” and “Better Than Me” is the sound of what Five Finger Death Punch would take to arena success a few years later. “Guardian” is my favourite and the song “Medicine” has a vocal melody which “The Greatest Showman” decided to use, while “Rescue You” (my 2nd favourite) sounds like one of the best songs System Of A Down didn’t write in 2005.

And on some songs, the way they are delivered vocally reminds me of Galactic Cowboys, a Geffen act from the early 90’s who was marketed heavily but didn’t receive the commercial success the dollars invested in them demanded.

And it’s all over the place with styles, which is a good thing. It got me interested because of its progressive attitude to song writing and the beautiful booklet.  

And some of the music which came after is more accessible, but still worthy, like “Bury Me With My Guns” which is pure hard rock from their 2011 album “Hell In My Heart” or “I Am A Nightmare” and “Long Time Coming” from their 2017 album “Eloquent Demons”. The album “Anything That Moves” released in 2015 is a worthy listen as well.

“Never Coming Back” from 2013’s “Charlatans Web” has some serious riffage and “Pretty Little Things” is layered with vocals and a riff which brings back memories of the 80’s.

In other words, invest some time into Bobaflex.

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

The Science Of Things

There is a saying that by the time an artist reaches album number 3 or 4, they are at the peak of their powers. It’s not because of some mystical power or magical power or magical powder; it’s basically a combination of having enough life experiences to create better art.

And if you look at the history of music, there is a consistent trend about the 3rd or 4th album being the album which makes it happen.  Some artists deliver again a few albums after and some artists deliver again as solo artists or via a new band they formed.

If you study history, you will know that beyond every fall of an empire, there is a rise and beyond every rise, there is a fall. And the cycle just keeps repeating. An artist’s career is no different.

But the third Bush album “The Science Of Things”, released in 1999, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The glory or the rise, went to “Sixteen Stone” and “Razorblade Suitcase”. But the third album is also worthy, however it falls into the side of “the fall”. It doesn’t have hits, it has songs. And albums were designed to be a statement of songs, not cherry picked songs, released as singles.

The whole recording industry blamed Steve Jobs for allowing people to cherry pick songs and just buy them. Well, the label bosses had been doing it for decades in order to make people believe they needed an album. Which is why for me, it was always special to buy an album, when I had no idea what was on the album. But I wouldn’t invest that time today.

“Warm Machine” and “The Chemicals Between Us” satisfies the fans of the debut album. “Spacetravel” is a bit more progressive, an artist writing to fulfil their creative urge, rather than writing for a song to be a hit. Even “40 Miles From The Sun”, it’s the a song The Doors didn’t write.

“Prizefighter” is a favourite, with the jangling guitar strumming over a fuzzed out guitar, and nicely decorated with another shimmering guitar playing natural harmonics. “Disease Of The Dancing Cats” is a terrible title, but that’s what also makes it unique, plus its “Zero” like riff from Smashing Pumpkins. “Letting The Cable Sleeps” also has this melancholy like vibe, it starts off with two major chords and ends with a minor chord, giving the song a yin and yang of happy and sad.

Gavin Rossdale sings in his normal baritone voice. There is no need to copy or mimic another singer whereas on the first two albums, people compared his voice on some songs to Kurt Cobain. And you definitely won’t hear Rob Halford wails on a Bush record, then again Halford went more industrial and guttural during this period with “Fight”.

And an album doesn’t need to be number one on the charts to be a good album, nor does it need to have diamond like sales. But it always happens, when everything is judged against the commercial appeal of an album.

For U2, everything is judged against “Achtung Baby”, for Pearl Jam its “Ten”, for Metallica it’s the self-titled Black album, for AC/DC its “Back In Black”, for Bon Jovi its “Slippery When Wet”, for Europe its “The Final Countdown” however, I believe Europe has surpassed “The Final Countdown” on many occasions musically, but not commercially. For Van Halen, its 1984, but their Sammy Hagar albums sold less, but gave them an even larger audience because of the mainstream sound of the songs.

For Aerosmith, well they had a few mega sellers, like “Pump” and “Get A Grip” in the 80’s as sales of recorded music in the 70’s is really hard to see as accurate, as it’s based on shipping rates and other creative payola ideas.

But there are bands who more or less remain consistent in relation to their output and sales but still play to packed houses, like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Ozzy solo era, Deep Purple, Motley Crue, Rush and Judas Priest. Well Judas Priest did have a big album with “Screaming For Vengeance” and everything else that came before and after supported their legacy.

The problem is when an artist has commercial acceptance of their music, they chase it a little bit more and want it again and again. But it rarely works that way, and some artists, bite the bullet and sell their creative juices to outside writers.

Bush, up until this point, kept everything in house and you can hear that they didn’t really chase the Billboard Hot 100 chart parade with this album. Maybe to their detriment financially, but respect is earned when you play the game your own way.

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

The Record Vault – Blessed By A Broken Heart

I came across a film clip for the song “Forever”. It got me interested enough, so I found the album online, downloaded it via a cyber-locker, enjoyed it enough, that I purchased it from Amazon’s US store.

I wonder if the Amazon US store purchase counts for a sale in the US or because its posted to Australia, it counts for a sale in the Australian market.

Formed in the early 2000’s, Blessed By A Broken Heart (BBaBH) battled hard, became MySpace superstars, lost all of their original members who gave them the MySpace status and with new members in tow, got a deal with Century Media Records in 2007 with a cross between 80’s hard rock/screamo metal and released “Pedal To The Metal”.

This then led to a bigger deal on Tooth and Nail records and the “Feel The Power” album eventually came out (after many delays) in January, 2012 with a sound further evolved to the 80’s hard rock movement.

Vocalist Tony Gambino departed not long after in July 2012 and by September, 2013 the band was finished with repeated record company legal struggles and lack of support from booking agencies given as reasons.

And for some stupid reason, “Feel The Power” is not available on Spotify Australia, so put that down to a lack of record label support as well and for some other stupid reason, the “Blessed By A Broken Heart” YouTube account has a lot of the videos unavailable in Australia. Dumb and dumber.

So the album.

Its melodic rock all the way. The musicianship is top notch, however their Mad Max look was already taken by the Black Veil Brides.

“Forever” has some Dragonforce like “I’m getting finger cramps” sweeps in the lead break, a melodic rock Chorus that soars like a Journey song and music that reminds me of the “Soldiers Under Command” era of Stryper.

“Rockin All Night” could have come from the “Midnight Madness” album from Night Ranger.

“Shut Up And Rock” has this Whitesnake “Slip Of The Tongue” vibe in the intro but overall it has this NWOBHM feel and lead breaks that make Jeff Watson’s eight finger tapping look amateurish. That one screaming verse, never should have been there. If they kept it melodic, the song is a 10 out 10 for me because that Chorus soars, the music soars and the mastery and performance of each note is perfect.

“I’ve Got You” is a ballad with some great lead guitar work which reminds of Vito Bratta’s work with White Lion and an outro solo which burns like a John Petrucci solo.  

“Deathwish” has this Jake E Lee Ozzy style “Bark At The Moon” era like riff which gets me interested and the Chorus, seals the deal with the lyric, “Mama sold her soul to the devil, traded a kiss for a birthday deathwish, mama sold her soul to the devil, traded her pain for the love of cocaine.” And another lead break which is worthy of guitar hero status.

If you like the above songs, then you will like “Scream Like You Mean It” which reminds me of Journey and “Holdin’ Back For Nothin’” with its Dragonforce like power metal.

Lead guitarist Shred Sean Maier effortlessly shreds as his name states and underpinning it all is the orchestrated backing vocals that remind of Mutt Lange and his work with Def Leppard.

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

The Pirate Vault #4

The Pirate Vault keeps on rolling.

Iron Maiden – Killers and The Jimi Hendrix Story

From memory, the “Jimi Hendrix Story” was a double CD of Hendrix cuts that my mate MoeFartin (nickname of course) had, so I picked my favourites at that point in time.

“Killers” is basically a dub from the album, so I can have it transportable on my Walkman as I felt I hadn’t given it enough attention compared to the other albums.

And I had “Live From Death”, “Somewhere In Time” and “No Prayer For The Dying” on cassette. Plus “Live After Death” touched all of their albums up to that point except “Killers”.

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

I’m a bit torn on this album. I always thought it should be one album, like “Siamese Dream” which I have on CD. The main songs I listened to are the ones I had to learn for the band I was in, like “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “1979” and “Zero”.

And how iconic is the lyric, “the world is a vampire”.

Eric Johnson – Ah Via Musicom and Metallica Mix

“Cliffs Of Dover”.

Just listen to it, and that arpeggio lead riff in the key of D major. Learning the song, the licks, proved to be a beautiful experience and Eric Johnson, opened my eyes to a different side of guitar playing which sounded accessible.

And for the Metallica Mix, well, at that point in time, I really enjoyed listening to these songs and I’ll always state that “Ride The Lightning” trumps “Master Of Puppets”. So it’s no surprise that on this mix I have four songs from the “Justice” album and two songs from the “Ride” album.

Rock Junkies

It’s a weird mix for sure.

 Done in the 90’s.

I remember I was at Mega’s place and he is a collector of all things musical and I had a tape which had music on it, but I said screw it, I am going to overdub it for some off this stuff (hence the made up cover and not the original cover sleeve that comes with a blank cassette).

So he had some Police records and I copied the two big songs from those. He also had a Dokken 12 inch single, which had “Back For The Attack” and “Paris Is Burning” as the B-sides, so I copied that.

He also had U2 – Achtung Baby and I copied my three favourite songs from that.

Moving onto Side 2, I had the film clip of Great White’s “Rock Me” and “Stars” from Hear N Aid, so I copied those songs. Then Body Count and “Cop Killer” song came next, some Billy Idol and his “Rebel Yell” and I finish it off with Dee Snider’s “Calling On You” from Widowmaker which actually took the spot of another Body Count song called “The Winner Loses”.

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

The Record Vault – The Black Crowes

Prior to “Three Snakes And One Charm”, my only other Black Crowes purchase that I had in my possession was the “Remedy” single. And I still don’t know what happened to the debut album LP I had. 

Three Snakes And One Charm

Released in 1996, but I picked this one up recently at a music record fair. In saying that, I do have the pre 2000’s Black Crowes albums on mp3, obtained via TPB.

And sometimes depending on moods and feel and how your life is, certain tracks appeal more than others. On this album, it’s the more mellow tracks that connected with me.

“Girl From A Pawnshop” stood out, about a long lost love affair and it’s got some great musical movements and lead breaks which makes me want to pick up the guitar and learn.

“I never lost your number I never lost your address and if we remain friends at best sometime later no, no not yet, we’ll smile and remember it like this”

Let it be and remember it for what it was.

“How Much For Your Wings?” has a Led Zep acoustic feel from their “III” album.

And they put on one of the best jam driven rock and roll shows I have ever seen when they toured Australia in 2008. Rich Robinson was the sheriff in town that night, as he directed the band into extended jams of certain songs with a nod of his head and he directed them out of these jams with another nod of his head and a dropped shoulder. So cool to watch and experience.

And that’s my Black Crowes collection. A single, an album, a concert ticket and an awesome memory of them jamming and commanding the stage.

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

The Record Vault – Bush

I was a bit late to the Bush party. It took the single “Comedown” to get me to pay attention and then “Glycerine” came out and I was “yep I like it and I will purchase the album on my next outing”, but that didn’t transpire as I kept pushing the album out of my purchase list in lieu of hard rock and metal bands. Then “Machinehead” came out as a single and I committed financially.

Sixteen Stone

The album came out towards the end of 1994, but it was in 1995 that it started to get people’s attention and for me, it was around May/June 1996 that I committed financially.

The picture you see is not the original. I gave the CD to a friend circa 2001, who then claimed that he lost it, and then gave me back a copy, with the cover printed on an inkjet printer and the CD burned onto a blank disc. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until many years later, other friends told me, he did the same to them, so the prick was scamming us.

As soon as the “Rockin In A Free World” vibe of “Everything Zen” kicked in, I was very interested. And then a bit lost with “Swim” and “Bomb” and “Little Things” brought it back into focus with its “Smell Like Teens Spirit” vibe merged with a Tom Petty “Free Fallin” vibe.

But the piece d resistance is “Comedown” with its bass riff which reminds me of the “You Give Love A Bad Name” verse riff. And Grunge purists are probably gagging at the thought of this, but yes, the riffs are very similar.

And there is no escaping the power of “Machinehead”. The intro riff octaves, along with the power chords crashing all over the place is perfect.

“Breathe in, breathe out” and the way its sung, with a loudspeaker/telephone vibe, captures the frenetic pace of life, and how we don’t have enough time to take a breath.

And I realised that the accessible singles of the album, got me interested, sort of like how the accessible singles of hard rock bands got people interested who would otherwise enjoy other musical styles.

And with this debut, Gavin Rossdale showed he is a force to be reckoned with as a songwriter.

Razorblade Suitcase

The cassette was in a 3 for $10 bin, so it was a no brainer. I didn’t get it when it came out in 1996, but circa 1998.

“Swallowed” is the lead single, and it followed a “Live (band) vibe”. “Greedy Fly” is basically an artist writing a song, without a thought of it being a hit. And somehow it gets released as a single and it’s seen as a hit.

“Cold Contagious” has a cool drum groove, with the guitars decorating the song in a nice way, as Rossdale is singing, “you will get yours” with the volume and intensity increasing. And at six minutes long, it’s the anti-single, but it still got released as a single.

And like “Sixteen Stone”, it was the accessible singles of the album that got me interested again. Then the band lost me with an electronic remix album and I’ve never really checked out anything afterwards, however friends have told me that “The Science Of Things” is worthy.

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