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

Across The Years In May

I knew that Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. So I went to Spotify to give it a listen and it’s no longer there. But it was there before. I can’t understand why artists withdraw their albums and then bring them back when they feel like it. Go on YouTube, and the whole album is there, and it pays less. Talk about leaving money on the table. I guess it’s Cinderella’s loss.

Anyway, I also knew that on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums up to “Love Gun” hated this album. And the good thing is, when I went to Spotify, it was there, available, to be listened too. Gene and Paul are very critical of the current business models, but they are also business minded people who don’t want to leave any source of income unattended.

It’s like going back in my room, dropping the needle and being greeted with the fast picked E note that is “I Was Made For Loving You”. While “Loving” is modern and of the times, “2,000 Man” is a rock and roll relic out of place on this glitzy melodic rock disco album. And back then, the year 2000 seemed so far away and now we are 18 years past it.

“Sure Know Something” has that groovy sleazy bass line in the verses and when the guitars start crunching in the Chorus the song moves from a disco R&B feel to Hard Rock. And when “Dirty Livin’” starts up, I am floored by the diversity of the album. It’s covered a lot of ground musically. Actually, when I heard “The Night Flight Orchestra’s” debut album back in 2012, I was immediately reminded of “Dynasty”.

“Charisma” and “Magic Touch” keep the momentum going. “Hard Times”, “X-Ray Eyes” and “Save Your Love” bookend the album, but I would have been happy if the album finished at “Hard Times”, with one of my favourite lyrical lines in “the hard times are dead and gone, but the hard times have made me strong”. Damn right they did.

Continuing with May releases over different timespans, on May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”.

The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”.  It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Cant This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.

The drumming is frantic, making a clichéd keyboard riff sound heavy as hell.

Oh, you’ve got Allah in the east
You’ve got Jesus in the west
Christ, what’s a man to do?

Exactly, what is a man to do when belief systems go to war. Sort of like Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s famous film clip “Two Tribes” when Reagan and Gorbachev went at it.

And how good is the guitar solo from EVH?

Then the single “When It’s Love” keeps the pop metal momentum going, but “AFU(Naturally Wired)” is vintage EVH. Its chaotic and yet so focused. And how cool is that bridge riff just before the crazy solo. I know Sammy loves “Cabo Wabo” and I love the solo section of the song and I dig the music, but man, I don’t like the lyrics.

“Source Of Infection” is wild abandonment on the steroid level scales of “Hot For Teacher”.  “Feels So Good” is a favourite of mine and “Finish What Ya Started” is groovy and sleazy. To be honest, I’ve overdosed on these songs as the clips always appeared on the TV shows, but man, those verses on “Feels So Good” just get me all the time.

“Black and Blue”, “Sucker In A 3 Piece” and “A Apolitical Blues” close out the album, and the star here is “Sucker In A 3 Piece”. It should have come after “Finish What Ya Started”.

And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is adored today by the masses. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be. Music is personal. So while some people go to the show to have a good time, the majority of people still go to connect with the band on the stage.

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

Girls, Girls, Girls

There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down Sunset in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The censored “Girls” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV has a ball with it.

While it looks like the guys are having a ball, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow he got married, while Vince Neil was still on probation and pretending to be sober. In other words, it’s chaos with a capital MC and they still managed to get together and crack out a decent album.

The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.

Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion
Greed has been crowned the new king

Greed has become the new king. Not just in the streets, but in all walks of life. There is so much betrayal and broken dreams in our quest for millions.

Take a ride on the wild side

Only if you dare. You might not come out of it alive. For some it’s the thrill. It’s the metal lifestyle. All aboard. Hahahaha…

I carry my crucifix under my death list

Every single dealer believes in God, wears crucifixes and then breaks God’s rules in killing someone. Every single wronged person, while a good citizen with family values, carries a revenge list of people who wronged them. Humans are born aggressive.

Papa won’t be home tonight
Found dead with his best friends wife

There was a time when crimes of passion dominated. Now, crimes of insanity dominate.

A baby cries, a cop dies
A day’s pay on the wild side

Doing the beat, could mean a gun fight and death. I guess, it is really all in a day’s pay on the wild side.

The sounds of a Harley, a G5 power chord and one of the grooviest riffs ever. That my friends is “Girls, Girls, Girls”. And it’s part of MTV lore with its two video clips.

“Dancing On Glass” has a riff from Mick Mars, which is sleazy and dangerous and Nikki fires out some of the best lines about being an addict.  “Valentines in London, found me in the trash” covers his first overdose. “One extra push, last trip to the top” covers the addict need to get high. “Silver Spoon and needle, witchy tombstone smile” covers the process and when you are user, “I’m no puppet, I engrave my veins in style” sums up the toll on the body.

As far as I’m concerned the first three tracks are a triple knockout, but “Wild Side” and “Girls” survive to this day.

“Bad Boy Boogie” is exactly that, a 12 bar blues boogie that compared to some of the other tracks on the album is considered a decent cut, plus it’s got the iconic line, “you better lock up your daughter when the Motley’s hit the road.”

“Five Years Dead” has some wicked riffs and a lyrical theme from a book Nikki picked up in a second hand shop.  “All In the Name Of ….” is another song with killer riffs and a lyrical theme about “legal never being their scene”.

“Your All I Need” was more popular for its controversial film clip, but then again, whoever said the six o-clock news was pretty.

“Rodeo” was a bonus track on the re-released edition of the album. I guess they already had the ultimate road song in “Home Sweet Home”. Regardless, “Rodeo” is one hell of a song and you can hear that Mick Mars is all over this one.

Laughing like gypsies, from show to show, living my life like a rolling stone
Travelling man, never at home, can’t find love so I sleep alone, this whisky river has a long way to flow

It sure sums up the excess of the 80’s.

From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.

And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.

If you end up alive, there is always a change. “Dr Feelgood” would be the result of the change, and the pinnacle for a briefly sober band. Of course with sobriety, an artist gets clarity and with clarity people start to realise the dysfunction within. And with more years under their belt, their life choices start to become different. And Motley was different.

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Mirror – Tygers of Pan Tang

It’s a forgotten Sykes cut, released in 1981 on the “Spellbound” album from Tygers Of Pan Tang. Even though I’ve listened to the song for a long time, I’ve never sat down to learn it so, I thought it was time to get this little Sykes gem down.

With all the guitar tabs and YouTube videos available online, it’s very easy to go straight to Google, but no-one has transcribed it.

Funny that.

With all of the advancements made in technology, there still is no AI application which can transcribe all the instruments in a song just by listening to it. But AI can create music, can recognise our faces, plot our journeys and a million other things.

So I had to rely on the good old trusty ear. I haven’t practiced learning a song by ear for a long time. But it’s a forgotten art form. And the saying goes, if you don’t practice using your ear, you will forget how to use it.

I swear that my ear is better at figuring out songs now, then what it was in the 80’s/90’s. Maybe it’s because of the knowledge I have accumulated over the years which makes it easy. Maybe my brain has finally put some super highways between the cells to make learning a song by ear, easier. The faster stuff I still need to slow down to hear each note.

Anyway, the guitar is tuned to standard, EADGBE. The Intro from up to 0.44 is made up from a simple Emadd9 to Cadd9 chord progression arpeggiated on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings.

The first verse kicks in from 0.27 to 0.45. The arpeggios outline the chords, Em, C, D and back to Em.

From 0.46 to 1.06, the Chorus kicks in and the chords are C, D, C, Am, C, D, Em, Em.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
You stare at me and share my thoughts
Mirror, mirror I hear your call,
You have my soul and body caught

The fairy tale familiarity. In “The Crimson Idol” from WASP, Jonathon spoke to the mirror and the mirror spoke back to him.

There are so many magic moments in “Mirror”, but what seals the deal is when the Bridge section comes in from 2.30 to 2.54 and it then transitions into another lead break. The unique style of Sykes is here, in it’s embryonic stages.

Deception you have learnt

Deception is what our social media world thrives on.

What is fake, what is real, no one knows anymore?

Everyone has a responsibility to research far and wide and make up their own views. The mainstream press outlets are all beholden to their corporate employers who have their own agendas to push.

No wonder so many are dissatisfied. But we pretend the situation doesn’t exist. So how can we improve things tomorrow.

There is a saying in marketing that if companies frequently run last-minute sales, customers would stop buying things in advance because the company is training the customer to wait. And the way organisations should engage with people is drip by drip. Keep releasing.

It’s been a long time since John Sykes released any new music.

Has the well gone dry?

There is no more drip. The recording business has changed, there is no doubt about that. However if the artist is chained to their past ways, then they will never survive in the new world.

How Grammy Nominee Brent Faiyaz Built His Music Career Off Streaming (HBO) – YouTube

Check out the video. If you don’t here it is a nutshell. You have an independent artist using streaming data to decide which cities to hit. The data gives him the number of monthly/weekly listens in a city and the number of super fans in each city.

And for those who say streaming doesn’t pay, it does, if your fan base is using the platform to access music.

Sykes should get a team together to work in the new music world instead of the old.

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Release Day

Spotify has a playlist ready every Friday for me in relation to bands I follow or bands who might be similar to bands I follow. Sometimes there is fluff in those playlists and sometimes it’s like the good old days of being in a record shop and deciding which album to purchase from the many on offer. In this case, I can listen to everything.

And there is a lot of music out there to digest. The enemy to global stardom is not illegal downloading, it’s obscurity.

How are people going to find out who the hell you are?

You are not just battling for listeners attention from the artists who have new music, you are battling for listeners attention from the history of music. Yes, that’s right. We have “almost” the whole history of music at our fingertips. And even though the odds are really stacked against artists from making a living from music, people are still out there creating and releasing. Some artists are ahead of their time, so it might take a while for the audience to catch up. But one thing is certain, creativity is at an all time high.

Which is a good thing, because the recording industry and the copyright monopoly tried their best to convince everyone that creativity would die due to illegal downloading all in their push for government intervention to protect their profits.

And truth be told, while the internet might have given people access to play in the recording industry arena, it didn’t kill the labels. Because the labels consolidated into three majors. And they amassed a lot of power through a little law called copyright. And with this power, they had a monopolistic bargaining position at the table when it came to licensing deals with the techies.

Anyway here are few releases from the most recent release day Friday.

Fake
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH

Let’s promote the new album with a song that sounds similar in groove and feel to every other song we have written. Maybe some lawyer will sue the band for plagiarising their own sound and feel.

You talk a great game, trying to make a big name, soon you’re gonna run out of time

I’m a fan. Hell my six year old is a fan.

The song has a head banging riff (who cares if it sounds similar to other songs), underpinned by a drum groove that gets the foot stomping and a vocal line full of vengeance about a fake person.

Over It
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE

I’m still waiting for BFMV to decide what kind of album they want to make. A bone crushing “Heaven And Hell”, a sonic sounding “Dr Feelgood”, a metal sounding “Powerslave” or their own “The Blackening”. While I wait, they still release cool tunes like “Over It”, a product of where the band is right now, with only two original members left.

I can’t take this anymore, I’m over it

Trying to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved or can’t be reached is a difficult process to deal with.

Save Yourself
BREAKING BENJAMIN

So much gloom in the lyrics. For one thing, I’m happy Benjamin Burnley is making music and has kept the band name going after the various lawsuits and what not. And like AC/DC, Disturbed and FFDP, Breaking Benjamin is churning out consistent same music, album after album to great success and platinum awards.

Monolith
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS

It’s an instrumental which keeps on building like the music in a movie preview.

Personally, I dig it, so I went to hear the album. As a fan of the first three albums and playing “Conquistador” to death from the previous album, the “America” album is not what I prefer in the first half and great in the second half, especially from “Great Wide Open” to the end.

Transition
CRASHCARBURN

South African rock band that fell of my radar the last four years, so it’s good to have them back.

GONE (Radio Edit)
RED

This band has changed a lot during the last 6 years, with more and more electronic elements added to their tunes.

The Human Radio
SHINEDOWN

I don’t mind the kind of rock that Shinedown is morphing into because it’s still Shinedown and it’s still Brent Smith on vocals. And come to think of it, all of my favourite bands took styles and sounds from what is current into their mix as their career went along.

Get the money, throw the tantrum
The human radio is playing your anthem

More Beautiful
HOOBASTANK

Don’t ever think your broken and not good enough
Cause all the things you want to fix are things that I love

Magazines in the 90’s did a great job selling beauty and the social media world created by Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram has only added more fuel to the fire.

And people are dying just to look beautiful, starving themselves to feel beautiful and paying stupid amounts to correct their natural beauty in order to look manufactured.

Liberta
MUSTASCH

A bunch of Swedes with moustaches that play some killer groove metal/rock with melodic vocals. If beards and moustaches worked for ZZ Top, why not for a band called Mustasch.

Set Free
JADED HEART

Experienced melodic hard rock from Germany with Michael Bormann on vocals.

For those who don’t know, Bormann handled vocals in another favourite German band called Bonfire, however it was after their US breakthrough albums.

Sacrifice Me
ISSA with DEEN CASTRONOVO

Cool to see Deen redeeming himself with some cool music over the last 12 months. “Freedom” from the last Revolution Saints album is still doing the rounds in my life and this time, he’s doing a duet with Finnish singer Issa which sounds like it’s from an Evanesence album.

Burn
W.E.T

Another Jeff Scott Soto collaboration, this time with Swedish songwriters Erik Martensson from the band “Eclipse” and Robert Sall from the band “Work Of Art”. It’s another great melodic rock song.

Show Me
NEIL YOUNG

Of course Neil Young surprised me with this cut, which takes the “Rocking In A Free World” chord progression and acoustifies it with some soul and blues and calls it “Show Me”.

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Twitter Thoughts

As soon as Dee Snider and his Twisted Sister band mates threw the teacher for a three-pointer in the “I Wanna Rock” video, I was hooked. Yeah, he looked all wrong but his attitude and message stuck with me. So it’s no surprise I follow Dee on Twitter and recently a few tweets got some discussions happening.

“Here’s a challenge for you (and no using the internet for the answer): Can you name all 7 (unsuccessful) albums I’ve done solo or been a part of with a band since I left Twisted Sister in 1987? You can use initials. Bonus points for naming the 1 live album. Good freakin; luck.”

You struggle your whole life to “make it”. And once you “make it”, you need to struggle to “keep it”.

And then “keeping the fame” ends up “breaking up” the band that “made it”. So you go solo but it’s many years later from your “making it” moment. And there are people who still crave your product but not as many as before.

For a very long time, the record labels convinced everyone that the only way to define success is sales. But people might have purchased an album, heard it once and never heard it again. The record label never considered that statistic because the sale has given them a monetary value, something they can count.

But as Dee said further on;

“While I’m proud of all the work I’ve done, YES success is defined by sales. I’m long past “making music for my own head”. Once you’ve had public acceptance of your art, you yearn for it. You want the world to see and hear “your children””.

The truth is, there is no secret formula for keeping the hits coming.

Artists always had a short life span at the top. Most of the 70’s acts would have been dead and forgotten if there was no MTV television in the 80s.

But the biggest obstacle is obscurity.

Someone tweeted back, “Didn’t know you did one, lol” in response to Dee’s post about the seven unsuccessful albums to which Dee re-tweeted with the following comments;

“This is the #1 response to my name the seven albums I’ve done since leaving Twisted in 1987. Which brings us to the age old question: “If someone puts out an album and nobody hears it…did it make a sound?””

Which someone else replied that Dee’s last album, “We Are The Ones” was excellent with the following questions;

“Do you consider it unsuccessful? Is success only defined by album sales or rather by the quality of the product?”

Another person commented that just because it isn’t popular it doesn’t mean it’s not valid and that music touches people in different ways.

And here we are again wondering what success is.

Is it sales?

Is it streams?

Is it video views?

Is it concert ticket sales?

Is it just people interacting with you on social media?

For Dee, he hit the mainstream with Twisted Sister and for a three year period he was on top. Success is defined as that same public acceptance for his other music.

So let’s talk about “Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker.

Post Twisted Sister, it was deafening silence. From being everywhere, Dee was nowhere. My cousin Mega, who has the TS logo tattooed on his shoulder told me about his Desperado project. It was mentioned in a shorts column of a U.S magazine. That’s it. One of the biggest voices between 1983 and 85 was reduced to a paragraph.

Then there was silence again. We got nothing Dee Snider related in Australia.

I then read a “Blood And Bullets” review in a magazine, three months after the Widowmaker album was out. It was in a Guitar magazine, because of Al Pitrelli’s involvement. Nothing from the mainstream metal rags.

So I went looking for it in the mainstream record stores and I couldn’t find it. I asked at the counter if they could get it and they could get it as an import and charge me $50.

I went to Utopia in Sydney, the home of heavy metal, who only had a few copies of the album and already sold them. They said they would order it in for me and it would cost me $30. It took another 3 months for it to “arrive” in Australia and into my hands. Imagine that. 3 months to arrive.

So six months after the album was released I had it. And I played it non-stop and I still play it and I told everyone I could about it. It’s angry, it’s hopeful, it’s sombre and it’s tongue’n’cheek.

For me, it’s highly influential. It’s got the kind of music I like making, all over the album.

“Reason To Kill”, “Blue For You”, “Calling On You”, “Snot Nosed Kid” and “Emaheevul” straight away stood out for me. “Blood And Bullets” and “Widowmaker” grew on me with every listen. The cover of “Evil” surprised me with its energy and increased tempo while another pop rock cover called “The Lonely Ones” was a sleeper hit waiting to smack me in the face. “Gone Bad”, “You’re A Heartbreaker” and “We Are The Dead” while sounding clichéd on earlier listens grew into unique contributions to the album.

Dee delivered a stellar vocal performance and Al Pitrelli also produced the goods in the guitar department, while Joey Franco and Marc Russell underpinned it all. Of course, Desperado guitarist Bernie Torme co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on the album, so he deserves a huge 10 out of 10 for his stellar riffage and songwriting.

If you’ve read Dee’s book, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” Dee had to buy back the Desperado songs from Elektra who claimed ownership of them due to the label financing the demo song writing sessions and the failed Desperado album release.

But the problem with the album not setting the sales department on fire was not Grunge. It was obscurity. People didn’t know about it because there wasn’t a source of truth anymore.

Even in 1992 going onto 1993, we had a lot of different sources for information. The magazines were struggling to sell like they did in the 80’s, hence the reason why so many of them finished up.

So in order to stay relevant, the magazines only reported what was popular so they could sell. And no one bought all the magazines but in the 80s if you purchased Faces, Hit Parader or Circus or Metal Edge, you more or less had your rock/metal “source of truth” covered.

And MTV was moving into reality TV and out of music, especially music made by the metal community.

And speaking of the metal community, we had fractured into different styles. Once upon a time we liked metal. We listened to metal bands.

Suddenly metal (courtesy of magazines and record label A&R reps) had different genres like Glam, Pop, Thrash, Heavy, Hard, Death, Black, Industrial, Hardcore, Grindcore, Rap and whatever other term someone could think of like Sludge, Weed, Fart, etc.

So those metal bands in the early 80s got relabeled to something else.

And it shits me because the Widowmaker debut album is not on Spotify (well I don’t know about the rest of the world, but it’s not on Spotify Australia) and people who are fans of the band and who pay for Spotify cannot listen to it.

But it’s on YouTube and I don’t do YouTube. But I have a CD mp3 rip of the album on my devices and I listen to it that way.

The thing is, a lot of the albums which are really influential to people are rarely commercially successful.

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1984 – Ep 1

I bought a few CD’s recently. They are still in the plastic wrapping. I don’t even think I will be opening them as I am listening to the music via Spotify.

I used to buy CD’s weekly once upon a time. It wasn’t really news, but hey we are in 2018 and just buying a CD is news. Even though I stream, the itch to buy is still there. Old habits die hard. And the majority of music fans are collectors, so we collect CD’s and vinyls the same way people collect stamps, coins, sports cards, instruments and what not.

The recording industry did an incredible job in brain washing us to believe we needed to purchase these products. They did have a few false starts in the 40’s and 50’s, however the post WW2 rebuilding phase started to put people into jobs, which meant money to spend in society. And once they got a foothold, their Government granted monopoly just kept on growing.

Anyway, buying CD’s got me thinking about vinyl records and how I was pretty peeved that vinyl records got stopped. And just like that, I was in an 80’s mood.

So here is the playlist.

Dokken – Tooth And Nail
Elektra wanted to drop em. Lynch and Dokken wanted to drop each other. Croucier dropped them for Ratt. Werman dropped the producing gig because of everything that came before. Lynch dropped in and out of the band a lot of times. Eventually Pilson dropped into the band to replace Croucier on the recommendation of Shrapnel Records boss Mike Varney. Michael Wagner dropped in to record the vocals, while Roy Thomas Baker dropped in to do the rest.

For a band threatened to be dropped, the production team was top notch. Werman would have got his cut, Roy Thomas Baker and Michael Wagner, would also get their cut. And then you have the record deal that Don Dokken got by using the songs Lynch and Brown had written. Imagine being in a band where Don Dokken would get the money and then he would need to pay Lynch, Brown and Pilson.

But they had Q Prime Management in their corner. In Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, Dokken had an influential team who could build them up into global superstars, organise the tours, the record deals, the funding, the video clips and what not.

Side one kicks off with the instrumental “Without Warning”. For a song that’s 1:35 long, it’s showing Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson as songwriters. Seriously. Three dudes for a minute and thirty five seconds. I don’t think so. Moving on, the title track “Tooth and Nail” kicks in, delivering a 1-2 knockout punch. It’s basically a speed metal song written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson.

Desperate living- driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall

Such powerful words from people about to call it quits.

“”Just Got Lucky” written by Lynch and Pilson came next but it didn’t get lucky in the charts. “Heartless Heart” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson deals with a heartless baby who lied. And finally, lead singer Don Dokken gets a song writing credit for the side 1 closer “Don’t Close Your Eyes” co-written with Lynch and Pilson. Lyrically it could have been used for the first “Nightmare On Elm Street” movie.

Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame

Side two fires up with “When Heaven Comes Down” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson and it’s followed by “Into the Fire” written by Dokken, Lynch and Pilson about a relationship which is wrong and somehow it goes sour and now he is falling into the fire. I had a theory once, it’s about Lucifer.

“Bullets to Spare” is written by the band and seriously it’s terrible lyrically, linking bullets to spare to a certain substance that comes out of a male. The big power ballad “Alone Again” is written by Dokken and Pilson and it’s underpinned by a great lead from Lynch. The album closes with another speed metal song in “Turn On the Action” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson, the same team that wrote “Tooth and Nail”.

I’m looking over my shoulder
I’m running reckless through the night
Forever young not getting older
Satisfaction guaranteed tonight

Who didn’t do something naughty or slightly illegal in their youth and when we made our great escape, we laughed but constantly looked over our shoulder in case someone was chasing us.

And while Lynch got a lot of press and front covers in the guitar mags, and Don Dokken got a lot of press and covers in Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Faces and what not, the real hero of this album is Jeff Pilson. While others let egos get in the way of creating, Pilson went on with the task of creating and he co-wrote every single song on the album and paved the way for Dokken (the band) to have a career.

Van Halen – 1984
I will try my best to keep this review as short as possible as this album is highly influential to me, especially the songs “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”. Actually, this album and “5150” are the ones I always go back to. And there is no denying that EVH was at the peak of his powers between 1983 and 1987. It’s like everything he touched turned to gold.

It’s also the last VH album to feature David Lee Roth until 2012’s “A Different Kind of Truth” and it’s also their biggest album to date in relation to sales and now streams. However as Sammy Hagar likes to point out to DLR, the Van Hagar albums went to Number 1 on the charts, while the Van Roth albums didn’t. But Van Roth albums outsell Van Hager albums. And the VH fan base streams more of the Roth era songs than the Hagar era songs.

Like many bands which start out, each album shows songs written by all members, however it’s rarely the case that all members contributed to the song writing. Van Halen kept this going for every album, even with Hagar. However, when Van Halen, which is now a company run in conjunction with management, renegotiated their royalty deal with Warner Bros in 2004, Michael Anthony was left off the song writing credits. People argued that Alex Van Halen also should have been left off as a songwriter, as all the music came from EVH and all the lyrics from Roth except for “I’ll Wait”.

Jump
I wrote “Jump” on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-10 in my bedroom while the studio was being built. Every time I got the sound that I wanted on the right-hand split section of the keyboard, it would start smoking and pop a fuse. I got another one and the same thing happened. A guy I knew said I should try an Oberheim OB-Xa, so I bought one of those and got the sound I wanted.
EVH

A band I was in from the 90’s wanted to cover it. The problem was, we had no keyboard player, so I had to learn the synth riff and lead on the guitar. The riff was cool to play and the lead was 70% of the recording with the other 30% improv.

For those who want to know, the synth hook was inspired by the Hall & Oates track “Kiss on My List”. Producer Templeman hated it. Roth hated it. Funny how Roth’s biggest hit as a solo artist “Just Like Paradise” also revolves around a keyboard riff.

Panama
The riff.

I remember pausing and rewinding the cassette tape to learn it. Only I didn’t do a very good job as I couldn’t make out all the nuances of the different triad chords moving under the pedal tones.

When the guys once asked me to write something with an AC/DC beat, that ended up being “Panama.” It really doesn’t sound that much like AC/DC, but that was my interpretation of it.
EVH

Oh, but it does sound like AC/DC. Listen to the riff just before the verse kicks in. It’s AC/DC on steroids.

Top Jimmy
It’s a swinging/out there Van Halen track.

For “Top Jimmy” I had a melody in my head and I tuned the guitar to that melody. Steve Ripley had sent me one of his stereo guitars that had 90 million knobs and switches on it. That was too much for me to comprehend, so I asked him for a simpler version. He sent me one with a humbucker in the bridge and two single-coils at the middle and neck positions. It was just a prototype.
EVH

Drop Dead Legs
That was inspired by AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” I was grooving on that beat, although I think that “Drop Dead Legs” is slower. Whatever I listen to somehow is filtered through me and comes out differently. “Drop Dead Legs” is almost a jazz version of “Back in Black.” The descending progression is similar, but I put a lot more notes in there.
EVH

Remember progress is derivative.

Take what came before, tweak it, slow it down, alter it, swing it, mash it and what you have as the end result is something that is yours. It’s the way art evolves and it’s the way music has evolved. Don’t let no one tell you any different and all of those artists and heirs of artists who believe they are so original, they aren’t. They are full of crap. We are all a sum of our influences.

Hot for Teacher
The film clip came first for me. It’s brilliant and who can forget the teacher.

If you want to hear this song’s embryo, then check out the 70s demo from Van Halen called “Voodoo Queen”. Actually you will hear riffs in that song that appeared in other Van Halen album songs as well.

I’m a shuffle guy. I love fast shuffles. I think that stems from my dad’s big-band days. Every Van Halen record has a song like that—“I’m the One,” “Sinner’s Swing.” It was an extension of that—more of me! I distinctly remember sitting in front of Al on a wooden stool and playing that part during my solo where it climbs. Well, I can’t count, so Al needs to follow me. I’d sit right in front of him, and then he’d look at me like, “Now!”
EVH

It’s a full on jam song. If you don’t believe me, check out the solo section. There is no backing guitar. It’s just bass and drums holding down the rhythm, while EVH wails.

I’ll Wait
Co-written with Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan veteran Michael McDonald. Roth and Templeman both voted it out, however Eddie and engineer Donn Landee prevailed. As a guitarist, the keyboard riff is pretty cool to play on guitar.

Ted hated that song. When I played it for him, he kept humming “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent just to piss me off. It doesn’t sound anything like that.
EVH

And that keyboard riff before the solo belongs in a Rocky movie, especially in the training montages.

Girl Gone Bad
This song is basically Rush merged with “Achilles Last Stand” from Led Zep.

I always carried a microcassette recorder with me. I recorded my idea for “Girl Gone Bad” by humming and whistling into it in the closet of a hotel room while Valerie was sleeping.
EVH

The beauty of Van Halen was their unhinged jams and this song sounds exactly like that.

House of Pain
“House of Pain” originally dates back to the demos Van Halen recorded for Warner Bros.

The only thing that’s the same is the main riff. The intro and verses are different, I guess because nobody really liked it the way that it originally was.
EVH

Always taking what came before and tweaking it for something better. It’s the way we create art. EVH is a master at it.

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
The film clips hooked me in and I became a fan. While those film clips sold the album, my first TS purchase was “Come Out And Play” on LP and man, I played that album to death. This album was purchased on cassette tape at the start of 1986.

I remember as a kid it struck me as unusual that all songs are written by Dee Snider, because he’s only listed as vocals. I was like, how come Jay Jay and Eddie don’t have no credits as the music is dominated by guitars. We’ll it’s been explained in great detail in Dee’s bio how the song writing process worked for him.

Stay Hungry
A nod to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If your fire has faded and you can’t feel it no more
If your tired and overrated, let me show you to the door
Expect no sympathy, There’s none to be had

In other words, you never quit.

We’re Not Gonna Take It
The film clip was into every TV screen around the world at that point in time. And we all resonated with the “right to choose our own paths and fight the powers that be” message of the song. Hell, my little guy learned how to talk by saying “Twishhted Shishter,  Vere Not Gonna Hake It” into the YouTube microphone.

Eventually he started to pronounce the words perfectly.

Burn in Hell
This is the Twisted Sister I became a fan off. Cuts like this, “S.M.F”,  “Run For Your Life”, “Under The Blade”, “The Fire Still Burns”, “Come Out And Play”, “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” and “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll”.

The doomy start is a perfect welcoming for all the listeners coming into the abandoned hand. And from 1.17, the song really shifts gear.

Take a good look in your heart, tell me what do you see
It’s black and its dark, now is that how you want it be
It’s up to you what you do will decide your own fate
Make your choice now for tomorrow will be way too late

Great lyrics. Our fates are tied to the choices we make. If we hate, we walk the path to hate. If we love and help others, we walk a different path.

Horror-Teria (The Beginning):
a) Captain Howdy
b) Street Justice
I didn’t appreciate these songs back in the 80’s. After “Burn In Hell” I would press the fast forward button on the cassette deck and wait until the reel went to the end. I would open the tape deck and change the side of the cassette from side 1 to side 2. Oh, how my kids have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.

But these songs are a concept story within a song. Progressive rock bands do this a lot. Hell even Greenday did it.

I Wanna Rock
And I was greeted with this. The opener on Side 2. Another song with a film clip to match and with a message of don’t tell us to turn it down and cut our hair. We are the youth of rock and we wanna rock.

The Price
The intro lead break hooked me in. I loved it. It wasn’t highly technical, it wasn’t a thousand notes, but it was emotive.

And the lyrics showcase the emotions involved for a person to have a career in music.

Don’t Let Me Down
A relationship song on an album which is littered with songs about standing up for your rights was confusing. Nevertheless, it’s still a cool song and it rocks along at a cool speed as well.

The Beast
It’s “Destroyer” part 2. I never associated this song with some natural force moving in like a predator to take someone’s life. I always associated “The Beast” as the “Hard Rock and Heavy Metal” movement happening at the time and how it was so natural.

So when Dee sings “You are his only target, you’re his only goal”, it’s like an analogy for how Rock and Roll has set its sights on a person and it will not leave that person alone until it converts them into a fan.

S.M.F.
The massive closer for all of the SMF’s and one of my favourites. The real TS anthem, the hit that never was about the black sheep of the family being a metal machine and when they went to the rock and roll show, they saw thousands of others just like them.

The album was released as “Still Hungry” in the 2000’s with all of the above songs re-recorded along with a couple of new ones.

“Never Say Never” is more or less a speed metal punk song. “Blasting Fast and Loud” is a groovy 12 bar blues punk song however if both songs were actually written for “Stay Hungry” they didn’t cut it.

“Come Back” is a good listen but not worthy of album inclusion while “Plastic Money” is a miss. “You Know I Cry” I always enjoyed from the Club Daze live performances. Actually you can hear the embryo of “Stay Hungry” on this track in the riffing and drumming.

“Rock N Roll Saviors” starts of like “Children Of The Grave” from Sabbath. Even in the verses, it’s got that feel.

“Heroes Are Hard To Find” is a classic Twisted Sister song. It made its appearance on the “Strangeland” soundtrack in the late 90’s, however I don’t know if it was written during the “Stay Hungry” period.

The album was then re-issued as a deluxe edition with the demos of the album appearing on the second side.

“Death from Above” has a decent riff and “Prime Motivator” has a decent bass groove. Both songs have good melodies but the lyrics don’t do em justice. “Death Run” was re-written and it became “Kill Or Be Killed”. “This One’s for You” has a sleazy riff but you can hear why it never made the album. “We’re Coming On” is an interesting one. I reckon it could have worked on the album. It has all the ingredients of a classic Twisted Sister song. And when you have a chorus that screams “We’re Coming On like a mf”, you can’t go wrong.

“Call My Name” and “Our Voice Will Be Heard” got a remake for Dee’s solo album, “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down” and to be honest, both songs are favourites of mine. “Pay the Price” is a song from their “Club Daze” which is probably why it never made a Twisted album. It just wasn’t good enough as Dee became a better songwriter as he got older. “What’s Love Without You” is also a miss.

“You Got to Fight” has all of the classic elements of the “youth of the world” fighting for their futures and their voices against the institutions and our leaders and maybe they should have taken it to the studio to finish off.

“30” is a cool AC/DC style track released with this edition, however it wasn’t written for the “Stay Hungry”. It was written as a 30 year anniversary track and it was released as a stand-alone single. It’s a cool song to have in the Twisted Sister catalogue.

There is always the argument between quality and quantity. I believe if you write 30 songs for an album, you will be able to get 10 quality tracks. And once upon a time, this kind of thing happened. I know some bands wrote 10 songs for the album and all 10 appeared on the album.  So it’s no surprise that Twisted Sister’s most successful album had a lot of different songs considered for it before the final nine got selected.

RATT – Out of the Cellar
I had “Out Of The Cellar” dubbed on a cassette. Before I got the album dubbed, Ratt was purely a video band for me. The video clip for “Round and Round” was played on every TV station. I always had blank VHS cassettes and my finger on the record button.

And revisiting this album, it’s no surprise that Ratt’s biggest album has a lot of song writing contributions from Robbin Crosby, the real Ratt’N’Roller.

Wanted Man
Side 1 opens up with this track. The credits show Robbin Crosby and Stephen Pearcy as songwriters, however bassist Joey Cristofanilli, who had briefly substituted for Juan Croucier is also a co-writer, however it’s never been properly clarified.

What a shredalicious lead break?

Round and Round
The other good song on Side 1. This one is written by Robbin Crosby, Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini.

What a riff to kick it off?

It’s big, hooky and melodic. It’s also good enough to please the metal audience and the rock audience. And when Stephen Pearcy starts singing about meeting out on the streets, our simple brains resonated. Those lyrics today would be something like, “Out on these cyber streets, its where we meet”.

And when that harmony lead break comes in, it’s just a perfect end to the solo section.

Lack of Communication
Side two opens up with this track written by Pearcy and Juan Croucier. The riff is that good, Pearcy and co mimicked the vocal chorus line off it.

And for a Ratt song, it’s got some good lyrics.

Too many problems, the world can’t solve
Too many people, no one wants to be involved

People want to be involved but no one listens to them. School children are demonstrating for gun-reform and the adults in power are failing to listen. People are demonstrating against the FCC changing net neutrality laws to benefit corporations and no one in power is listening. In Cape Town, South Africa, they are going to run out of water and no one in power is doing anything. In Nigeria, 100 plus schoolgirls get kidnapped from a school and no one does anything. 5 years ago, the same number also got kidnapped and they still haven’t returned.

Put up our boundaries, we build our walls
It’s alright, no-ones gonna change us at all

In the past, kings and queens had their castles fortified behind walls and walls, to keep undesirable people and invaders out.

How did that work out as a long term policy?

Back for More
It’s a Crosby and Pearcy cut, under pinned by a fantastic melodic riff. From memory, I think the song was in the key of A minor.

The Morning After
One of my favourite cuts because of the riff and it’s also written by the same song writing committee that produced “Round and Round”.

The lead break is also structured like “Round and Round”, where it starts off with some shredding and then it goes into a harmony break, which by the way is all killer.

I’m Insane
It’s a cut Robbin Crosby wrote in his pre-Ratt band. It’s basically a speed metal song straight from the NWOBHM scene.

While side 1 had the hits, side 2 was stronger.

And every good song on this album was underpinned by a memorable riff.

Iron Maiden – Powerslave
I had this on cassette. I actually had “Live After Death” on cassette first and after “Somewhere In Time” came out, I purchased this album on cassette.

Seriously, how good is the cover. Remember when you used to purchase an album based on the cover alone.

And the 13 month world tour had Maiden visiting 28 countries and in the process, they kick started South and Central America’s devotion to the band.

Aces High
Side one opens up with this. But I enjoy the Live version with Churchill’s Speech before it.

Written by Steve Harris, this song is relentless. It’s got key changes and what not. The intro starts in the key of A minor, the verse riff is in E minor with a key change to G minor. The Chorus also has a Em to Gm key change.

Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die
Run, live to fly, fly to live, Aces high

When Maiden reformed, this chorus become a sing along arena rock chorus. Who would have thought? Credit the fanatical South American fan base and the “Rock In Rio” DVD.

Minutes to Midnight
It’s basically a killer one/two knockout punch and like the “Live After Death” release, these two songs go hand in hand.

Adrian Smith’s addition to Maiden made them a lot better. This song is written by Smith and Bruce Dickinson and the One Riff to Rule Em All is also the main riff for this song.

Go to war again, blood is freedom’s stain
Don’t you pray for our soul anymore

The borders that we know exist because of the blood our ancestors spilt for freedom.

2 minutes to midnight,
The hands that threaten doom.

Nuclear war was once a reality. Maybe it is again between the US and North Korea.

The body bags and little rags of children torn in two
And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you
As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song
To the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun.

More like starving billions.

Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)
It’s listed as written by Harris, so if you believe his haters, it means he copied it from someone or stole their intellectual property. I seriously can’t believe our world has come to this.  The section from 2.34 to about 3.20 is why this song is on this list. If it doesn’t lift you up and inspire you, then I have no words.

Flash of the Blade
Written by Dickinson about a young boy chasing dragons. Did he write the cool open string intro riff?

Who knows, but it’s a pretty cool riff.

The Duellists
Another Harris track about a swordfight to the death.

Back in the Village
Side 2 opens up with this cool track, written by Smith and Dickinson.

Turn the spotlights on the people
Switch the dial and eat the worm
Take your chances, kill the engine
Drop your bombs and let it burn

Is it about Vietnam and the Napalm bombing of villages?

Powerslave
It’s up there as one of Maiden’s best songs and it’s written by Dickinson.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death

For all the wealth and power people have, they cannot buy or negotiate their way out of death. It’s the only certainty in life, for every human who is born, will eventually die.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.
So bring me the blood and
Red wine for the one to succeed me,
For he is a man and a God –
And He will die too.

And the circle of life keeps on repeating. A person dies, a successor is made and in time they will die as well.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Another Harris track to close the album and what about the music. It’s got everything, great riffs for both bass and guitar, a cool drum groove and vocal melodies to match.

That section from about 8.30 that starts building up from the bass interlude into the lead feels like it’s desk breaking time.

And that harmony lead break from about the 10 minute mark. It’s perfect.

To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.

So many evils are unleashed due to the killing of the albatross. Don’t disrespect the old wives tales. There is truth there.

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
I got this on LP as a gift and spun it to death.

It’s rock and roll music for the bars and the pubs and in my opinion it’s a pretty good reason why the album is so successful. Everyone in those venues played the album on the jukebox and every band that played covers in those venues played songs from the album.

It was my first Springsteen album and I was blown away at how solid and catchy each song is. Seven Top 10 singles and 15 million plus sold in the U.S alone. Not bad for a rock and roll album and not bad for a guy from Jersey. Hell, even John Cougar Mellencamp’s career got a boost from Springsteen. With every genre defining album, the labels are quick to jump on genres. American Heartland music was the term and suddenly “Scarecrow” has a budget to be recorded and a year later it’s everywhere. Same deal with Tom Petty and “Southern Accents”.

Born in the U.S.A
The album opens up with the snare and keyboard riff and the iconic lines of “Born down in a dead man’s town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground, end up like a dog that’s been beat too much, till you spend half your life just covering up now”.

So many of us are born in these towns which boomed while the factories boomed after the wars. But all towns have their rogue element and kids get into trouble and adults get into trouble. And those factories experience hard times and suddenly, the great town is losing its soul.

And that chorus. Man, even people not born in the U.S.A were screaming it in their bedrooms and at the gig. And there’s no lead break, just a band jamming on a riff and Springsteen coming up with once in a lifetime generational lyrics.

Cover Me
The times are tough now, just getting tougher
This old world is rough, it’s just getting rougher

Springsteen sums up it all up with these two opening lines. And as much as we smile and put our happiest faces on social media, the reality is different. Times are tough. Try living without using your credit card and just your wages. Try buying a house with your savings and no loan from the bank. It’s tough, I know.

This whole world is out there just trying to score
I’ve seen enough, I don’t want to see any more

The other epidemic in civilization is narcotics.

I get up in the morning and do a cleaning job close to home from 5am to 7am. I come home, have a shower, put on my office suit and then do my normal job from 8am to 4pm. After work, I coach kids in soccer. U7’s from 4.30pm to 5.30pm and U14s from 5.30pm and 7pm. I come home and the cycle repeats the next day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meanwhile, the drug dealers poison other people’s children, while they get to be around their children, provided they haven’t been arrested.

Darlington County
It’s a cool tune about two dudes called Bruce and Wayne from NY City, whose Dad’s own each of the World Trade Towers (remember them – actually who can forget them and how they came down), driving down to Darlington County on the fourth of July for a little fun and it ends up with Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a State Trooper’s Ford.

Working on the Highway
Springsteen is showing his 60’s influences on this one.

Friday night’s pay night, guys fresh out of work
Talking ’bout the weekend, scrubbing off the dirt
Some heading home to their families, some are looking to get hurt
Some going down to Stovell wearing trouble on their shirts

There was a working factory class once upon a time. Now the kids of that class are bankers or techies, while the factories moved to Bangladesh, Taiwan and China.

I work for the county out on 95
All day I hold a red flag and watch the traffic pass me by

Working on the highway, laying down the blacktop
Working on the highway, all day long I don’t stop
Working on the highway, blasting through the bedrock
Working on the highway, working on the highway

And the working factory class is replaced by a new class called infrastructure building. Our governments are constantly zoning land for new developments, which means more roads, bigger roads and more motorway’s connecting these areas. If they can’t build the motorways on land, they will tunnel it.

Downbound Train
This song is my favourite. I think it’s because I always caught the train into the city, so it was a memory of walking to the train station, the 90 minute ride, the laugh with friends and just the pure innocence of it all.

For the song, the guitar groove and the lyrics just connect from the outset.

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going, mister, in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard

And people wonder why Springsteen was called “The Boss”. So much truth in the lyrics. He’s reflecting society back at us.

Now I work down at the car wash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don’t you feel like you’re a rider
On a downbound train?

When it goes bad, it really goes bad. And sometimes, the only way out of a bad situation is to have the guts and move to a different city because if you stay in your hometown, there is a good chance you will be screaming, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”.

I’m on Fire
Again, everyone was singing, “Hey little girl is your daddy home” from the top of their lungs. And not bad for a song that was demoed and good enough to keep as is.

No Surrender
And side two kicks off with another favourite.

Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school

It’s how I learned about life. Drop the needle on an album, kick back and digest the lyrics. Any word I didn’t know the meaning, I would look it up. Any reference to something as an analogy, I would find it in the library. But in the end, the records told me that love is great when it’s good and pretty sad when it goes bad. The records told me that everyone who is born, will have an end. The records told me about social problems, history and fantasy.

Bobby Jean
Now, you hung with me when all the others
Turned away, turned up their nose
We liked the same music, we liked the same bands
We liked the same clothes

Friendships or relationships with mutual tastes are killers when they end.

I’m Goin’ Down
I wonder what kind of “going down” Springsteen was singing about.

Glory Days
Another cool story about catching up with two friends and talking about glory days. One was a big baseball player in high school and the other was a girl who turned the boys heads back.

Dancing in the Dark
Springsteen at his catchiest and cheekiest, basically saying, he’s home after a night out, he has a loaded gun and he needs a little help to make it fire. So in other words, Dancing In The Dark is a clean way to say “let’s have sex”.

My Hometown
Everyone could relate to this.

In ’65, tension was running high at my high school
There was a lot of fights between the black and white, there was nothing you could do
Two cars at a light on a Saturday night, in the backseat there was a gun
Words were passed, in a shotgun blast troubled times had come

In my hometown
My hometown

I never grew up with these kind of tensions, but on some days in the 80’s, I swear it could have exploded. Because there are still people aggrieved with what happens. There are black people who feel the push to equality is not enough or too late. There are white people who still believe they should enslave black people. And year after year, the eggshells which people walk on, start to break. Until it explodes.

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says, these jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back

To your hometown

I grew up in a steel city. The factories employed over 30,000 people. European migrants came to Australia to work in these factories. But then, it started to change. By the mid 90’s my hometown was vacant stores. We had three banks on the Main Street and suddenly we had none. All the fruit and veg shops and convenience shops shut up shop, as a large shopping centre was built 5 minutes away. But we still had three Pubs, a RSL club and a Leagues Club. All with pokie machines and a lot of alcohol.

Last night me and Kate, we laid in bed, talking about getting out, Packing up our bags, maybe heading south

I actually did get out and go south, about 30 minutes’ drive from my hometown, while my parents still live in the same house they purchased when they arrived from Europe. And suddenly a house which sold for $80K in 1998 across the road from my parents now sold for $600K. You see, my hometown is right on the beach. It has views of the Pacific Ocean. My parent’s house is on top of the hill. And when I moved out, I knew it was only a matter a time before my hometown became great again. The shutting of the steel factories and cooper smelters did hurt it. But in time, new businesses have come about. And Main Street has been getting a revitalisation over the last 10 years, with café’s, restaurants, hairdressers and a lot of other businesses popping up. And we still have two Pubs out of three left and a Leagues club.

Stryper – The Yellow and Black Attack
I got this album from a Saturday market on the same day I purchased the “To Hell With The Devil” album.

Loud ‘N’ Clear
I dig the guitar riff written by Michael Sweet. And yeah, I know in the verses he sings about wearing his hair long and looking like a freak, but he will always praise His name. Well, I always took His name to be Rock and Roll.

Loud, clear, let the people hear
Scream, shout, show what it’s all about

Like so many other songs from the 80’s. It was all about a statement, about accepting people for who they are.

C’mon Rock
Another Michael Sweet composition.

We’re here to rock for you an rock is what we’ll do
Until your body feels the sound
So don’t be afraid to shout cause that’s what it’s all about
We’ve got to spread it all around

C’mon rock, rock, rock
C’mon never stop

Like Keel, there is a lot of rock in this song. But it was a sign of the times. As the 60’s had Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Woodstock, we had a whole metal and rock movement sweeping across the globe courtesy of MTV.

Manowar – Sign Of The Hammer
I wasn’t sure if I should laugh at this band or take them seriously when my cousin Mega played me their albums. Their manly Viking look and their battle charged lyrics just didn’t really connect, however a few songs did. “Fighting The World” is my favourite, and “All Me Play On Ten” is not far behind.

All Men Play on Ten
The album opener and the best track on the album. Written by bassist Joey DeMaio, but it’s Ross The Boss on guitar and Eric Adams on vocals that steal the thunder, while Scott Columbus lays down a great groove.

I made a Rock’N’Roll sin when I tried givin’ in to
Make money had to turn down low
They said, “Why be proud, don’t play so loud
Be like us and get a sound that’s real thin
Wear a polyester suit, act happy look cute
Get a haircut and buy small gear”
That’s when I turned to them and said
“Hold it, right there!”

You could just imagine a confrontation between the Club owner and Manowar over “turning it down”. I played a gig once were I got told to turn it down, so I just walked over to my amp, touched the nob and pretended to turn it down.

Nobody tells a man how to play
It just ain’t that way hey, hey, hey
Can you hear me say…
All men play on ten
Never gonna turn down again

LOL. Nobody tells a man how to play. But Spinal Tap went to eleven.

Kick Axe – Vices
I picked it up from a second hand shop on vinyl. Spencer Proffer from Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” album is on board to produce so it convinced me to buy.

I didn’t like side 1 and after a few tracks on side 2, I was about to give up and then “Cause For Alarm” started. Yep, it wasn’t until track 8, that I heard what I liked.

Cause for Alarm
It’s got that “Neon Knights” Sabbath vibe in the verses merged with a little bit of Priest, a catchy chorus and a good finger tapped lead break.

What more does a song need?

All the Right Moves
It’s a cross between “Ten Seconds To Love” and AC/DC which suits the lyrics about a woman with all the right moves.

Just Passing Through
And this one has got this ZZ Top vibe that hooks me in. Three songs and three different musical styles. Hence the reason why I hated genre labels like metal and rock. To me, it’s all rock.

The personnel in the band never had the stardom that other artists had, but they could play. Larry Gillstrom and Raymond Harvey formed a wicked twin guitar team while vocalist George Criston can be a rock god or metal god, depending on the song. And under pinning it all is bassist Victor Langen and drummer Brian Gillstrom.

Well that’s the first part of 1984 Done.

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

The Crimson Idol

It’s a favourite of mine.

Back in 1992, “The Crimson Idol” was a release day purchase on CD for me. It ended up being a perfect album in a time when the record labels started to put all of their marketing monies into Seattle. The style of song writing and the lyrical themes would serve as inspiration for my song writing forever.

I played it to death, I learned riff after riff and lick after lick and it didn’t matter how much time passed between listens, I still knew every lick, every drum roll and every word in the songs.

Fast forward some years later and “The Crimson Idol” was released as a Double special edition CD, with two new tracks.

“Phantoms In The Mirror” (which I would place after “The Invisible Boy” in the story arc) and “The Eulogy” (which I would place at the end).

Fast forward another decade or so from that release and “The Crimson Idol” has been “Re-Idolized” with additional songs added to the storyline however, “Phantoms In The Mirror” and “The Eulogy” have been left off.

The Titanic Overture
The ominous acoustic opening.

I look at my face in the mirror and I don’t understand

The drumming is epic and orchestral. It sets the stage and tone for what is to come.

Overall, the song is made up of the best riffs and licks from all of the other songs.

The Invisible Boy
Who am I – cause I’m the boy only the mirror sees

The riff is good. Play it down-tuned and you’ll be surprised how heavy and doomy it sounds, which is perfect for the tone of the song and the theme of not fitting in, being beaten and ostracised from the family.

Arena Of Pleasure
The riff that kicks the song off sets the scene in my head of a kid running away from home and when Blackie starts singing, “I ran away from home last night”, it was perfect.

And I’ve heard the words of what I should be
Live, Work, Die

The above lines have remained with me from the time and day I first heard them. It brought home all of the truths of my upbringing and my many conversations with my father.

He always said, if you don’t have control of your life and someone else does, like the bank, your employer or the courts, all you would do is just live, work and die. If you have control of your life, you can live, make choices, decide when to work and when not to work and you can do that as many times as you want too, free from burden and stress.

Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)

If anyone wants to know what it was like to deal with the record label bosses when they controlled everything, here it is. And yes, these kind of people still exist today.

Chainsaw Charlie is the “the president of showbiz” who is just looking for the next raw talent that he can exploit.  Back in 1992, you never really got to hear stories about the labels and how they treated artists.  The bottom line was if an artist wanted to be heard, they needed a label behind them.

[Charlie to Jonathon]
O.K. boy now here’s your deal
Will you gamble your life?
Sign right here on the dotted line
It’s the one you’ve waited for all of your life

Artists worked hard to get a record deal. They paid their dues. Their best friends who formed the original version of their band had probably left to pursue “jobs” which paid “real money”. And then when you finally believe you get a break through, you are confronted with a deal, which would make the record label millions if your album sold and the artist would be owing the labels millions.

[Charlie to Jonathon]
We’ll sell your flesh by the pound you’ll go
A whore of wrath just like me
We’ll sell ya wholesale, we’ll sell your soul
Strap on your six string and feed our machine

It’s basically the hidden fine print in the deal.  The labels own the artist.  They own their image.  They own the music.  They would do whatever it takes to make as much money from the artist as they could.  And as our access to information has become greater with the rise of the internet, we are now seeing more and more people talk about the creative accounting of the labels.

Def Leppard did forgeries of their own songs, in order to circumvent a blockade put up by their label due to a breakdown in the negotiations to the digital rights of the back catalogue. Finally, in Jan 2018, Def Leppard’s full catalogue is available digitally. Almost 8 years from when Spotify started operating in the US and over 15 years from when the iTunes store opened.

Eminem took his label to court due to underpayments and won. His label was paying him a physical sale royalty % for iTunes sales and Eminen argued that it should be the licensing %.

[Charlie to Jonathon]
Welcome to the morgue boy
Where the music comes to die
Welcome to the morgue son
I’ll cut your throat just to stay alive

How many bands from the 70’s got added to the morgue in the 80’s. And every year, the morgue kept on growing. When Seattle happened, the record label A&R people would not even take the calls from the hard rock and heavy metal bands.

[Charlie to Jonathon]
I’m the president of showbiz, my name is Charlie
I’m a cocksucking asshole, that’s what they call me
Here from my Hollywood tower I rule
I’m lying motherfucker, the chainsaw’s my tool
The new morgue’s our factory, to grease our lies
Our machine is hungry, it needs your life
Don’t mind the maggots, and the ruthless scum
Before we’re done, son we’ll make you one

Power corrupts people. Money corrupts them a little bit more. When you have a person in charge that has both, prepare to be seen as a business cost instead of an asset in which to invest in. And this to me is the biggest problem. The power, wealth and boardroom negotiation leverage these people have is due to the artist, their asset, which was never treated as an asset.

The Gypsy Meets The Boy
All stories have the main character in a confused state, looking for direction.

She said, do you see what I see?, be careful to choose
Be careful what you wish for, cause it may come true
When I lay the card down will it turn up the fool?
Will it turn up sorrow? If it does then you lose

So many of us are looking for answers. It’s why the self-help books, behavioural science books, mindset books, grit books, resilience books and 10,000 hours books are all so popular. We purchase them in the millions, looking for guidance or advice on how to change. Then you have people who devote their life to the tarot or some other form of card reading, palm reading, crystal reading and what not.

Miss You
This is an additional song added to the album story in “Re-Idolized”. The interesting thing is the song appeared on another WASP album a few years before.

Lost inside our room
A priest at the door with news
Said you were gone and I knew
Oooh and my world was broken in two

Someone has the job of sharing the news of someone’s passing.

Oh God I miss you
Tell me can you hear me

You still believe that their spirit is somewhere. It’s hard to believe that the lifeless body is finished, with all of their memories gone.

I’ve found this thing that I make sing
Can you hear me now

The Crimson Idol has found his voice via his guitar.

Why did you go and leave me alone
Now I’m running away from my home
No they’ll never know I’m gone

The ones who remain are affected differently with loss. In the case of Jonathon, he lost a person who he saw as his friend and protector.

Doctor Rockter
It’s a great name for a dealer.

He’s the king of sting, Mr. Morphine my friend
Uncle Slam, the medicine man
And I’m a junkie with a big King Kong sized monkey
Crawling up and down my back

Great story telling. In four lines, Blackie has described his dealer, his relationship to him and Jonathon’s addictions.

Doctor please, my M.D., fix me in my time of need

Yes, but this Doctor doesn’t fix anything.

It’s the mirror from the wall, that’s on the table
Feeding me little white lies
And I’m wasted in a waste land, I’m a junk man
I got tombstones in my eyes

More of Blackie’s brilliance. He’s brought back the mirror, but this time, it’s not talking to him, instead it’s serving up some white lines.

I Am One

This is the song, where Jonathon realises he is just one. It’s just him. He lost his brother, ran away from home and he thought he would find love within his audience. But he didn’t.

Is there no love to shelter me
only love, love set me free

As David Coverdale sings, we are all looking for a love to surround us.

The Idol
It starts off with a phone dialling a number, a phone ringing, a woman answering, silence on the other line and then the caller hangs up.

Will I be alone this morning
Will I need my friends
Something just to ease away the pain

At this stage, who are your real friends. Read any biography of a “rock star” and you will be confronted by how lonely they are and how people they view as friends are really just leaches trying to get a free ride.

If I could only stand and stare in the mirror could I see
One fallen hero with a face like me?
And if I scream, could anybody hear me?
If I smash the silence, you’ll see what fame has done to me

Everyone is looking for an outlet, a person who can listen to them. Be careful what you wish for, cause it might come true. I watched my six year old’s assembly item last year and one of the questions the kids needed to answer was “What do you want to be when you grow up”? All of them gave a description of what they wanted to be and the majority of them ended with “to be rich and famous”.

For example, I want to be a singer and be rich and famous. I want to be rugby star and be rich and famous. I want to be a video game creator and be rich and famous.

Where’s the love to shelter me
Give me love, come set me free

In the song previously, he’s asking is there no love. In this song, he’s asking where is the love.

Hold On To My Heart
It could be taken as a love ballad, but even without reading the narrative, I associated it with the singer asking his audience to hold him. I even view “Forevermore” from Whitesnake in the same vein.

Oh no, don’t let me go
’cause all I am you hold in your hands,
Hold me and I’ll make it through the night
I’ll be alright,
Hold on, hold on to my heart

It’s the only place he feels safe and loved. But is it enough.

The Peace
I am a sucker for those power ballads that Blackie does. “Sleeping In The Fire”, “Forever Free”, “Heavens Hung In Black” and all the ones that appear on this album, like “The Idol”, “Hold On To My Heart” and now this one “The Peace”.

As soon as I heard the lyrics, I thought of the song “One Tribe” which appeared on “Still Not Black Enough”, released in 1995, after “The Crimson Idol”. Hell it sounded exactly like “The Crimson Idol”.

“Give me peace, give me hope, give me love” is how the lyrics go in “One Tribe”.

“Give me peace in my life, give me hope in my heart, give me love” is how the lyrics go in “The Peace” chorus.

Look to your own past, your own experiences to write something in the present.

The Great Misconceptions Of Me
Welcome to the show the great finale’s finally here
I thank you for coming into my theatre of fear
Welcome to the show, you’re all witnesses you see
A privileged invitation to the last rights of me

Jonathon to his audience.

How many people went to a rock and roll show and by the next day, they would read that their hero is gone?

Remember me? You can’t save me
Mama you never needed me
No crimson king, look in my eye, you’ll see
Mama I’m lonely, it’s only me, only me

With every hero, there is a past which hurts them, which drives them, which in the end could kill them. Nikki Sixx had the rejection of the father. Robb Flynn was put up for adoption. Dave Mustaine’s dad abandoned them and his mum changed her religion, which in turn changed her.

I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be
The crimson idol of a million

At the start of the story, Jonathon wanted to be the idol and now at the end, he doesn’t want it.

Living in the limelight little did I know
I was dying in the shadows and the mirror was my soul
It was all I ever wanted, everything I dreamed
But the dream became my nightmare and no-one could hear me scream
With these six-strings, I make a noose
To take my life, it’s time to choose
The headlines read of my suicide, of my suicide

Alice Cooper goes to the guillotine every night in his show. In this case, there is a noose made from six strings and there is no coming back. A drastic and extreme measure.

I’m the imposter, the world has seen
My father was the idol, it was never me

To Jonathon, all he wanted was the love and acceptance of his father, but it never came.

[Jonathon to all]
No love, to shelter me, only love
Love set me free

And the circle is complete. In “I Am One”, he’s asking is there no love. In “The Idol”, he’s asking where is the love. And in the final song, he understands there is no love.

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