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

Michael Poulsen

We all come from different bands, mainly death metal bands and punk bands. So we’ve been in the scene for many years since the ’90s. I released my first demo with my first death metal band in 1991 or something. I also released four albums for a death metal band called Dominus back in the day. My song writing was kind of changing. It turned into be a little bit more rock songs. It seemed like all the inspiration that I had from my parents when they were playing their records from the ’50s got to me in a way that when I was writing, I wanted to include that ’50s feeling in my song writing. That came very naturally. But I just wanted to keep a distorted sound from the guitars and the pounding drums.
Michael Poulsen 

Volbeat started to break into the U.S market in 2010 on the back of their “Death Magnetic” opening slot. But the journey to fame/success or world-wide recognition started a long time ago. Almost 20 years before their U.S breakthrough. It started in a totally different scene and in a different continent.

A million bands will start-up today, however a very small amount will stick it out and become lifers in the game of music. And from the lifers who stick it out, an even smaller amount will end up rising above the noise and get some recognition. And even a smaller amount will make some serious money from it.

It turned into a very unique thing where we combined a lot of different styles. We kept the distorted sound, but you could definitely hear inspiration from a lot of the rock music of the ’50s, as well heavier music from the ’70s and ’80s. When you mix all that together, it becomes Volbeat. We never really branded the band in a certain style or direction. It was all about just playing. I think that led us to being who we are today. For us, it’s not important to be 100% metal or 100% rock ‘n’ roll or anything. It’s music, and we’re inspired by so many different styles and bands. You can hear that in the Volbeat music.
Michael Poulsen 

What an awesome concept!!

To take what came before as influence and use it to create something that is different. And the borrowing from different eras and cultural appropriation is what music is all about.

I also like how it’s seen as “Volbeat’s music” and not some term that came from a record label rep or a magazine editor. For those that don’t know, record companies (in most cases) came up with the terms that bands got labelled with. For example, Nikki Sixx is very vocal on Twitter about how “a record company came up with the derogatory term “hair metal” so they could sell new metal rock to a new generation.

A lot of metal histories try to track back the movement of heavy metal to a single artist. In most cases they pick the artist who had the most success. However like any popular invention, it is a combination of many little things. The first Apple Mac didn’t just come from nowhere without any influences. It was an amalgamation of products from other companies with some new additions and interface tweaks courtesy of Wozniack and Jobs. And music is no different. Music is a combination of influences with a few little tweaks here and there.

When you look at metal history, you don’t see a lot of black musicians listed there as influences, yet the whole metal movement was heavily reliant on the blues in those early formative days. Black Sabbath, the band seen as the first metal band, covered blues songs as Earth. But when you look at the written history of Black Sabbath, the writers talk about the blues of white musicians as influences to Sabbath. They talk about the influence of classical music to Black Sabbath which again is mainly written by white people.

The Beatles played Blues, Soul, Motown and Rock and Roll covers in their early days, made up predominantly of black artists. So did Black Sabbath. Hell, the Beatles even took a Chuck Berry song and called it “Come Together”.

Robert Johnson is cited as a large influence to Keith Richards who was introduced to his music by Brian Jones. Eric Clapton worshipped at the altar of Johnson and many years later, re-recorded all of Johnson’s classics. Howlin Wolf had a lot of songs covered by many white artists across many different genres.

We were sacrificing a lot of stuff in the beginning like jobs, education, girlfriends. Being away from family. And it was just to dedicate ourselves to the road and all the hard work there is to be an active band, to survive. We’re from that generation where we built everything up. There was no internet, no mobiles. It was old-school and I’m very proud of that. That could be part of why we’re still around. We earned our stripes.
Michael Poulsen 
Paying your dues and building up experiences matter. Esepcially when it comes to creativity. The pain of loss manifests itself into art. The happiness of life ends up as a song and so forth.

Today, bands are so eager to get the attention, to get the success, before the work. I’m not a fan of that. I think there are too many youngsters who concentrate too much on the success before they actually concentrate on the music. The music is what it’s all about, and it has to come straight from the heart. We started playing in small bars and it was never because we wanted to be a successful band. We just wanted to do something. We wanted to belong somewhere. Friendship, brotherhood. And it just escalated. Somehow we got bigger and bigger, and the success came. So success was never the important thing for us. It came along and of course it feels good now and we do embrace it. But there’s a lot of stuff we don’t do because we still want it to be about the music. There are lot of TV programs in Denmark where we were getting offers to be on every f—–g day. All the commercials. But we turned it all down because it’s not the reason why we started a band. We’re very aware of not overdoing anything that is Volbeat. We want to be on the road, we want to make records and we want to earn the right to be successful. And we did that from the very beginning. So I can only say that too many young bands concentrate on success before they concentrate on the music. They will fail because that’s not what music is all about.
Michael Poulsen 

We’re living in the social media connection revolution. With so many people connected to each other and everyone building monuments of their lives online, young artists believe success is around the corner. Music is seen as a way to become successful. But if you get in the game with the mindset to be successful over creative, you will not last. Your success is based on your creations. Your success is based on your experiences and your community. It’s easy to license your music to TV shows and Commercials. It’s seen as a way to make easy money for a lot of artists. But then your music turns into a jingle. At least you got paid, right.

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

1983 – Episode 8 – A Mixed Bag

We keep marching forward and what seemed important once upon a time may be irrelevant tomorrow.

My physical music collection (LP, Cassettes, VHS videos, magazines and CD’s) seemed important once upon a time.

In one of the houses I lived in, I even had my physical music collection locked in a room, in the middle of the house, that was alarmed. That’s how important my physical music collection was. Actually I still have my physical in a place that’s pretty secure. But those physical copies just don’t hold the same value as they once did. Those feelings and opinions I had about holding a physical copy got totally ignored by the future. I still love music, but it’s all about access for me. Even back when I started buying music, I never woke up in the morning and said to myself I need to go out and buy some music. I always said, I want to hear, this song or that song.

In 2017, I can look back at 1983 and sort of loosely trace what the world would become with the internet. Back then, the magazines and the TV music channels started to push us to listen/watch to what was the “hit” of the day. A lot of music consumers forgot about the album and started to take in the popular. This led to many consumers missing out on what was important or useful.

Because if the aim was to write pop songs, the writer normally dumbs it down and leaves out the “message” of the song. It’s an exchange that needs to be made for attention. But if every music fan looks into their music catalogues, they will see the soundtrack of their life is not made up of the Chart Hits. As the saying goes, popularity doesn’t mean it’s the best, it just means it’s popular.

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is popular today and known as one of the best-selling Ozzy albums on par with “No More Tears”. The truth is “No More Tears” sold more quickly while “Blizzard Of Ozz” percolated and kept on breaking through to a new audience for two reasons. New fans of Ozzy went to check out his back catalogue and new guitar players went to check out the influential albums of Randy Rhoads.

Anyway, here is part 8 of my 1983 historical review and here is the Spotify playlist for it.

The previous parts can be found by clicking on the number. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The Revölution By Night – Blue Öyster Cult

There is a saying that the most common way to deal with the future is to try to predict it. The techies have morphed this saying to be, “The most common way to deal with the future is to invent a small part that’s big enough to make a difference”.  And I believe Blue Oyster Cult was trying to do just that with “The Revolution By Night”. To me, the album is a new wave/hard rock mash-up and it works for a few songs and not for others.  If only other bands got creative and experimental and innovative. But then again, being experimental doesn’t always lead to dollars and dollars is what the record labels are after.

Bruce Fairbairn is on hand to produce, before his massive “Slippery When Wet” success.

Take Me Away

It has a cool groove, a new wave rock riff that just works for me, cool vocal melodies and a pretty progressive solo middle section. But it has no attention from listeners. It’s co-written by Eric Bloom with Aldo Nova.

Strange shapes light up the night
Never seen them though I hope I might
Don’t ask if they are real
The men in black, their lips are sealed

It’s way before the “Men In Black” movies.

I turn my hopes up to the sky
I’d like to know before I die
Memories will slowly fade
I lift my eyes and say
Come on, take me away

Umm, I don’t think many of us did say to the sky for it to take us away.

Eyes On Fire

It kicks off like a piano jamming and then it goes to melodic rock AOR heaven. It’s got all the check boxes ticked for a bonafide hit, but it wasn’t to be. It’s written by Gregg Winter who is from Long Island and contributed several songs to one of Blooms side project. “Eyes of Fire” was written for that project and when it ended, it became a Blue Oyster Cult song.

But she don’t look at me
With eyes on fire
Glowing like coals in the night
Hungry eyes
Burning with love and desire

Un-requited love.

The album is always referred to “the album didn’t do go Gold in the U.S after the success of the previous two albums.” And sales equalled success once upon a time. No wonder people at the top are struggling to comprehend listens = success.

The Hurting – Tears For Fears

I got this album in 90’s and again via the second-hand record/book shop.

“Pale Shelter” stuck out straight away and “Memories Fade” (with that drum/bass groove) was a close second. The main singles like “Suffer The Children”, “Mad World” and “Change” didn’t really connect and still don’t.

Pale Shelter

It’s basically a rock track recorded as a new wave pop song.

And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I wanna be is
Completely in command

So true. There is always someone who wants to be in charge of the relationship.

You don’t give me love

God damn love. We are in it, we are out of it, we seek it, we find it and the cycle repeats until our time comes to check out of life.

Memories Fade

That bass/drum groove is played throughout the song and it’s progressively addictive.

There’s only need
I love your need
So much I’m losing me

Relationships are like this. One partner’s light sometimes gets lost in another partner’s light. And they do it willingly, without really knowing it’s happening. So when it all goes to hell, what’s left.

Engulfed by you
What can I do?
When history’s my cage
Look forward to a future in the past

We all look back into the past and see it in a different light today. Like it was better. Do we really want to go back to an era without the internet, only three TV stations and all the rest that goes with the era.

Mercyful Fate – Melissa

Isn’t it funny how Mercyful Fate ended up on the Filthy list in the U.S and lead vocalist King Diamond had no idea he or his band was on the list. Goes to show the Filthy 15 list had a zilcho effect on the artists involved.

Evil

The “Evil” intro reminds me of “The Four Horseman” intro and then other sections of the song remind me of Metallica. Did Lars have a demo copy of an EP that had this song?

I was born on the cemetery
Under the sign of the moon
Raised from my grave by the dead
I was made a mercenary
In the legions of Hell
Now I’m king of pain, I’m insane

It’s structured like a blues verse and it tells a story like a blues song. The words form a visual in the mind.

You know my only pleasure
Is to hear you cry
I’d love to hear you cry
I’d love to feel you die

I never took lines these seriously. It’s art. It’s no different to a graphic painting or a horror movie. You can look at it, appreciate it or be disgusted by it. Lyrics are the same.

Love the musical section from 2.48 to 3.32 along with the vocal melody. And that lead break fits the song to a tee. It includes Thin Lizzy style harmonies that segues into an UFO inspired blues rock lead.

Curse Of The Pharaohs

The “Curse Of The Pharaohs” intro reminds of the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro, which reminds me of “The Power And The Glory” intro from Saxon, which reminds me of two Ted Nugent songs called “Out Of Control” and “Stranglehold”, which reminds me of “Welcome To Hell” from Venom, which reminds me of “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue, which reminds me of “Young Girls” from Dokken, which reminds me of “Tell The World” from Ratt. I guess you can’t keep a good riff down.

All that’s needed is a person who didn’t create anything to own the rights of one of those songs and start suing all the others for plagiarism.

Away out in Egypt in the valley of kings
Where the mummified pharaohs
Pretend dead in their sleep

Again, the scene is set with story-telling lyrics.

Don’t touch, never ever steal
Unless you’re in for the kill
Or you’ll be hit by the curse of the pharaohs

The long-held belief that anyone who disturbed the tombs of the pharaohs ends up dead.

Into The Coven

The intro is baroque to a tee. Then the riff comes in as the drums build it up and once the whole band is in, the music and the groove of the song makes me want to snap my desk in half.

Howl like a wolf
And a witch will open the door
Follow me and meet our high priestess
Come, come into my coven
And become Lucifer’s child

You can see why Mercyful Fate was on the Filthy list. Even though the band only had a limited audience in the U.S at the time, the lyrics in this song went against the Bible belters beliefs. Suddenly, challenged by artists preaching for the fallen one, the Bible belters built up a coalition of Senators to fight this evil.

Undress until you’re naked
And put on this white coat
Take this white cross and go to the middle of the ring

Again, art is art. How many movies have people watched with a scene like the above and not cared much about it?

The harmony lead break was used by Metallica as inspiration for another lead break.

Melissa

“Melissa” has a great intro. You can hear where Metallica got the idea for an intro lead in “Fade To Black” over the Pink Floyd inspired riff. Influences and homages lead to new little creations, which will become future influences. And I’ll pre-empt that other artists had lead breaks over an arpeggio riff before Mercyful Fate, but those artists weren’t a large influence to early Metallica in the way Mercyful Fate was/is.

The section from about 2.40 to 3.20, you can say the section influenced “Aerials” from SOAD. It’s that good that it appears again from about the 5.30 mark to the end.

So Melissa was a witch, killed by a priest and her followers are seeking revenge. Again, storytelling at its simplest and finest.

Genesis – Genesis

Phil Collins solo success was the prequel/catalyst for the pop stardom to befall Genesis.

Mama

It’s a great song as it builds consistently over a synthed out electronic drum machine loop until it merges with a real drum groove in the “We Will Rock You” style vibe merged with Phil Collins solo hit “In The Air Tonight”. And Phil Collins is on fire vocally. I also believe that the “Mama” he refers to is not his real Mama, sort of like how Mama is a nickname for Sharon Osbourne, so when Ozzy sing’s “Mama I’m Coming Home”, he’s really saying, Sharon, I’m coming home.

That’s All

It’s got a feel good pop hook.

Truth is I love you
More than I wanted to
There’s no point in trying to pretend

I read on one of Seth Godin’s post that truth is real, it’s measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. So can “how much you love someone” ever be truth? To me it is not measurable, so it can’t be real truth, which means its truth in the eye of the beholder. It’s truth based on a belief. Sort of like how, if you believe that the music you are listening too is great, then it’s true. It’s a placebo and it works. I believe in nurture over nature. I believe that no one is born with gifts or is a prodigy. I believe that with the right practice, all of us can achieve greatness. And our beliefs give us joy. And it’s enough to make us do amazing things. But it’s not truth.

Men at Work – Cargo

Coming off their mega hit, “Down Under”, Men At Work delivered a social conscience album in “Cargo”.

Overkill

It’s the standout track, with a sleazy saxophone lead.

I can’t get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications
Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know will be all right
Perhaps it’s just imagination

Laying in bed and unable to sleep leads to anxiety because our brains are so good at turning smoke into fires.

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away

Over thinking things.

220 Volt – 220 Volt

220 Volt formed in 1982 and of course are from Sweden. CBS signed them on the strength of their own independent single release and by 1983 their self-titled debut hit the streets.  This album is a great hard rock listen musically. It’s melodic and hard/heavy enough to satisfy the metal heads. It wasn’t as popular as other releases of the era however it doesn’t mean it isn’t quality.

Lonely Nights

I’ve tried so many times
To reach you by the phone
But your line is always busy
And I can’t get through

The song starts off with a platonic love relationship and due to constantly being ignored it ends up hateful.

How true are the verse lines above?

In the days when households had just one phone and service was far from perfect, the busy dial tone was a common thing.

No Return

The main riff is familiar and I am sure I have heard something similar in bands that came afterwards. The feel of this song reminds me of the John Sykes “Spellbound” era of Tygers of Pang Tang.

You broke my heart
When I needed you most
But you just turned and walked away
I thought that we
Could work out together
But you didn’t even wanna try

Once it’s broken, it’s broken. Move on, even if it hurts like hell.

Running around
I’m so restless, don’t know what to do

You suddenly have time and don’t know what to do with it.

The End Of The World

I swear Malmsteen would have had to be influenced by this band. The main riff in this song is similar to a lot of the songs on Malmsteen’s first three solo albums.

Think of these days
That we are living
And try to find out
What’s right or wrong
Your highest dream
Is peace everywhere
But there’s no chance
For that at all

Even in 1983, artists questioned the world they lived in. The every elusive “peace” is what everyone wants. But how can that be when our brains are designed to be negative in order to survive.

‘Cause the world is full of evil
And there’s nothing we can do

Yes the world is made to believe evil exists. Religion thrives on it and for democracy to survive, it needs an enemy. In my time, war has been a constant. When I did history at school, we studied the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the two World Wars.

From the 80’s, off the top of my head, we’ve had the Iran-Iraq war, Falklands War, Lebanon War, invasion of Grenada, Invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Rwandan Civil War, Balkan Wars (Slovenia, Croatian and Bosnia), Algerian Civil War, Somali Civil War, Georgian Civil War, Chechen War, Afghanistan Civil War and Iraq War after 9/11. Add to the list, all of the uprisings, revolutions and even drug wars. Guess the world is full of evil.

Gypsy Queen

It’s a good listen about boy finding girl who then finds out the girl he found can look into her crystal ball and see the future.

Nightwinds

The time we had
Was the happiest part of my life
But you’re not gone
There will always be a light in my heart

He’s not ready to let go of the relationship.

Child Of The Night

Child of the night
You’re looking so lonely
Why did you ever leave home

A lot of people left school early and left home early, trying to find their place in life. Some did and others didn’t.

Stop and Look Back

You fight so hard
You wanna be a superstar
Dreamin’ daydreams of your own
You won’t be pleased
Until you reach the top
You won’t give up, never stop
Never stop

What is the top when it comes to being a superstar? Some would say Metallica reached the top with the “Black” album. I would say yes to that for recorded sales, however from a live point of view, they are getting bigger and bigger. You would think the 5 year “Death Magnetic” World tour would be the top, but their show and tour looks bigger.

You’re ready now
To meet the big success
You worked so hard for many years
Let’s hope that you
Can stand the pressure
So your dream will come true
Will come true

Once people taste success, they try to recreate it, forgetting that their success originally came from being creative and not re-creative.

Woman In White

Musically, it’s impressive. Melodically it’s impressive. Lyrically, it’s not impressive about a woman in white who steals the light and guarantees satisfaction.

Marc Jordan – A Hole in the Wall

While the whole album is too light for my liking, “A Hole In The Wall” is a good crossover melodic rock song, similar to the Jersey Jovi sound that would appear on the debut in a years time.

Robert Plant – The Principle Of Moments

Basically, the stand out tracks for me on this disc, are the ones that continue in the vein of what Plant did with Led Zep. The other more drum machine stuff and new age synth rock doesn’t work for me.

Other Arms

One of the better ones written by Plant and Robert Blunt.

Lay down your arms
Oh, now baby let me sleep at night

Is Robert Plant saying shut the fuck up and let me sleep?

Words you been using, hurting me so
Someday you’re gonna regret
Way friends are talking, I guess you’ll never know
This battle ain’t been won yet

Interpretation of words is a relationship killer. How many apologies are started with the words “I didn’t mean to say”?

Fussing and fighting is leaving me sad
That’s not the way it should be

We argue over the rubbish, the toilet seat, the cleanliness of the house, what people said, why people said what they said, how come people didn’t say what they should have said or why you didn’t stand up for them. And then kids come along and the same arguments exist with a few new ones.

Wreckless Love

It’s basically a Led Zep track with reference to Page’isms’ throughout the whole song, but for me, it’s the groove and feel of the verses. It’s progressive and exotic and cool. Basically, it’s “an unsafe” style of verse for a musical world moving into an MTV world. It’s also written by Page and Blunt.

Dance through the coloured razzamatazz
Spin alone desert affairs
Reckless love is creeping on you

As usual Plant is cryptic as ever in his lyrics. I got no idea what razzamatazz, desert affairs and a creeping reckless love have to do with each other, but somehow, Plant makes it work.

Horizontal Departure

It’s got the “Kashmir” riff in the verse. You know the riff I’m talking about. The one that moves up chromatically. Then in the verses, it feels like The Police and the solo break is like Dire Straits and “Sultans of Swing”.

And you said you’d never leave me
In fact you said you’d be my only one
I said you’d never grieve me baby
For things done when you are only having fun, fun.

It’s hard to keep a relationship going when you spend a lot of time away.

I don’t know, so you turned around and found another

And by the end of song, they had gone their separate ways.

Big Log

One of the better ones and even though it’s got a drum machine, the guitar lines and the bass playing set up a moody song that would make Chris Issak proud. Plant as usual delivers a stellar vocal.

My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride as the cities fly by
And the taillights dissolve in the coming of night
And the questions, in thousands, take flight

A very un-clichéd look at life on the road.

1983 was a year that kicked off a lot of careers, however it also resurrected a lot of 70’s careers. And MTV was the airplane that accomplished it. While others complained about the gatekeepers, the unfairness, others who played the game got on board and reaped the rewards.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Review in 40 Words, Unsung Heroes

80’s Forgotten Playlist

Spotify Playlist

A lot of good music came out in the 80’s that is more or less lost or forgotten or known as semi-obscure. Hell, there is no way the Spotify algorithm will be able to find it and pick it up.

Blame MTV. The show became popular because it had “hit video clips”. In order to get onto the show, bands needed a hit single. So even though bands went away and recorded a very solid album without any hit singles, the most commercial sounding song and sometimes with the most clichéd lyrics would end up as the single. And if the song resonated, people would highly likely go and check out the album or the back catalogue. This was good for sales and the record labels made a lot of money.

However, the MTV rules still apply today. We’ve come full circle. If you have a hit single today, you will rack up a billion streams on Spotify, which might get people interested into checking out the whole album or the back catalogue. But in most cases, people will be happy with the “hit” single and a lot of music is not heard. Remember a few years ago when Spotify did a check on their data and found over 20 million songs that haven’t even been heard. Think about the number. 20 million songs not even heard. That’s the competition for any new band. With so many bands/artists creating music, how do you rise above the 20 plus million songs that no one has even heard?

Does your latest release just add to the 20 million never heard pile or does it rise above?

And you need people to push it, talk about it and promote it.

Secret Loser
Killer Of Giants

Both tracks are from Ozzy Osbourne’s forgotten “Ultimate Sin” album released in 1986.

“Shot In the Dark” got the glory as the lead single and is probably the reason why the album is not available on CD anymore depending on who you believe. Overland brothers vs Osbourne, or Soussan vs Osbourne, or Overland vs Soussan.

At one stage in the late 90’s, this album was deleted and you couldn’t get any new copies. One of the Australian mags mentioned it’s because of Sharon Osbourne’s contract disputes with Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee. Maybe it was the authorship issue of “Shot In The Dark”.

Who remembers the movie “The Wraith”?

Charlie Sheen stars in it, as a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a car gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers by racing each gang member to death. Well, “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.

How good is the riff?

Trapped in a lonely body
I’m losing control
Can’t show my emotions
And I’m losing my soul
Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease
I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees

Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.

I can understand that what you see
You think is real
But underneath the surface is a wound
That cannot heal

It’s almost like being a fly on a wall in a shrink therapy session. Just imagine the big bad rock star with an image of decadence and debauchery breaking down within the confines of four walls and a chair.

“Killer Of Giants” is as good and as classic as “Diary of A Madman” in my view. Musically, it’s excellent. It’s got that acoustic introduction, social and political lyrics courtesy of Bob Daisley, a great chorus and excellent guitar playing from Jake E. Lee

If none of us believe in war
The can you tell me what the weapon’s for
Listen to me everyone
If the button is pushed
There’ll be nowhere left to run

Daisley, grew up with the threat of the button being pushed. For the generation of today, the threat of nuclear war is in the past, forgotten. Then again, my kids asked me recently, what would happen if we go to war with North Korea?

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Rising so proudly it has nowhere to fall
This killer of giants

At the moment our leaders are having a war of words with “rogue nations”. While sticks and stones hurt, a barrage of words can undo all truth. Especially words tainted with lies. Sometimes, people never recover. Say the right words, make a difference and doors can open. Say the wrong words and watch doors shut and a very darker difference will be seen.

Jake E. Lee got really shafted with his time in Ozzy. He has no song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, which he should. And for “The Ultimate Sin” he has the credits, however the Osbourne camp are doing their best to kill off the album and hide it.

Little Fighter
Cry For Freedom

What can I say about White Lion that I haven’t said before?

With Vito Bratta, the band had one of the best guitarists ever. He knew how to decorate a song and his leads are little masterpieces themselves. The other key ingredient to me was when Mike Tramp wrote lyrics about society, the injustices in society and how if we don’t do something right now to protect our world, there will not be a world to protect.

And maybe these serious themes proved to be the downfall of White Lion. I remember Vito Bratta saying in an interview when White Lion played Castle Donnington. They came on after Skid Row and before AC/DC and while the crowd got into the party lifestyle lyrics of Skid Row and Acca, they just didn’t resonate when White Lion sang about Greenpeace or apartheid in South Africa.

Rise again little fighter
And let the world know the reason why
Shine again little fighter
And don’t let ’em end the things you do

The lyrics are written in a way that it can be about many different situations. It could be an inspirational message to a person who is down on their luck. It could be the words in the head of a boxer after he/she have been knocked to the canvas or words to a child who didn’t make the elite team.

The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free

“Cry For Freedom” is very Dylan’esque in it’s lyrics. South Africa and it’s apartheid policies always made the news in Australia. And when people have nothing else left except to fight for freedom and equality, then there is a high chance they would do so. The truth is, we are never free. Speak to anyone in debt and ask them if they feel free. Our lives are at the mercy of the banking system. In South Africa, racism was used to imprison people.

Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed I face my fellow man

Even in our democratic countries people are jailed for no crimes and unfortunately racism will not go away.

Musically, Vito Bratta kills it. All of those people calling him an EVH clone got no idea. It’s like calling LeBron James the next Jordan. Both can shoot threes, slam dunks and do all of the wonderful things players do. But both are different. Same deal with EVH and Bratta. EVH was technical but more aggressive in his style. Hearing EVH play sometimes, I used to get an image of him punching his guitar. The sense of melody that Bratta exhibits is fluent and theoretical. He worked within the modes most of the time, like Rhoads did which made it very melodic.

Bang Go The Bells
Desperate

Babylon A.D is one of those bands that fall into the “should have made it” category. They even caught the attention of Arista Records president and industry music mogul Clive Davis, who signed them at a live showcase in Los Angeles. Hell, their lyrics suited the era to a tee and the musicianship was/is top-notch. The problem (and not really their fault) is too many bands sounded the same and the music consumers/the fans started to get burned on the scene. “Bang Go The Bells” and “Desperate” are from the debut album, released in 1989.

Here we sit in this smoky bar
Two souls drifting through the world alone
Here we talk about life and love

Loneliness is humanities greatest disease. If someone is there, we wouldn’t be lost in the dangers of our own thoughts.

When your dreams seem far away
Take a moment to look over your shoulder
‘Cause, honey, you know I’m desperate too
Everybody’s desperate just like you

It’s not a sign of weakness to say we don’t want to be alone.

“Bang Go the Bells” is written by vocalist Derek Davis, guitarist Ron Freschi and bassist Robb Reid. “Desperate” is written by Derek Davis and songwriter Jack Ponti. Yes, the same Jack Ponti who co-wrote “Shot Through The Heart” with Jon Bon Jovi and went on to co-write the majority of the “Hey Stoopid” album with Alice Cooper and Vic Pepe.

From a guitar point of view, Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi bring all of the hard rock flavourings to both songs.

Speak For Yourself
Blood Of Emeralds

From Gary Moore. The songs are from “After The War” released in 1989. “Speak For Yourself” is written by Neil Carter and Gary Moore.

How good is the riff?

It’s a speed rock song and it’s lyrics are still relevant today.

Look around across the nation
Another league of morons marching,
Banners in hand.
Looking for another scapegoat,
Try to take away the things they don’t understand.

The older I get, the more I realize, I’ve got no idea where it’s all going and neither do the people we vote in, who are all beholden to the corporation which pays the most.

Somewhere in the darkness,
There’s a voice that’s crying to be heard.
You feel it deep inside you,
A voice that just won’t be denied.

Speak for yourself.
Someone will hear you,
Someone will listen.
Speak for yourself.
Who knows, you might change your world.

So true and so relevant today. People have exercised their voices with votes, but our leaders are not the problem. It’s the rich corporations in the background that are the problem. Then again when you get leaders who came from rich corporations, mmm, what does that say about the state of the world?

But in all seriousness, people power stopped bad legislation in SOPA and PIPA. People power started to ramp up to stop the Trans Pacific Agreement legislation because it was negotiated in secret and with the corporations present and then Trumpy came into power and killed it dead. Only to replace it with something worse, which we don’t know about yet.

They try to take away your freedom.
They try to tell you what you can
Or what you can’t hear.
Don’t let this moral suffocation
Make you turn out just like them,
Is that what they fear?

The internet has given people a voice. In the process a new on-demand culture was created. People are connected socially over vast distances instantly. And we love it. But corporations who have business models based on control don’t like it and they go straight to their lobby groups to get laws written to benefit their business models. They use laws promoted to benefit the people to take away the freedoms of the people.

For example, in Australia, the large retailers lobby group didn’t like Australians purchasing products from overseas at a cheaper price, so they lobbied hard to get a tax added to overseas purchases. In the end, this tax just made the overseas companies set up a presence in Australia as a big FU.

Copyright is morphing into a censorship law. Videos and posts get taken down due to copyright complaints, however when it’s investigated why the video or the post got taken down, it’s found that the person complaining didn’t like what was being said so they used copyright as a censorship tool.

“Blood Of Emeralds” is written by Carter and Moore again and its more or less an autobiographical song about his time with Phil Lynott.

I was down and out on Skid Row,
But I held on to my pride.
The darkest son of Ireland,
He was standin’ by my side.
We would sail the stormy seas.
Never looking back,
We were afraid of what we’d see.
Through the thunder and the rain,
The deepest blood of emeralds
Was running through our veins.

He covers his time in “Skid Row” (not the U.S band), moving on to Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott, the darkest son of Ireland and how they would cross into the U.S.

I was angry, I was sad,
Just thinking about the times we had.
I felt so lost and lonely too,
What could I say, what could I do?
And after all, the time goes by.
No one knows the reasons why.
You lived each day like there was no tomorrow.
You spent those years living on time you borrowed.
And in your eyes, all I could see was sorrow.

Phil’s passing and how it affected him.

Gary Moore in the 90’s went all blues and in interviews after the success of “Still Got The Blues”, he was very hateful to his original (he spoke highly of his covers) 80’s hard rock output. Regardless, Gary Moore (along with John Sykes, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch and Vito Bratta) are big influences to me. My guitar style is basically an amalgamation of those 5 guitarists.

With Spotify these days, I have no idea who plays on the songs, like I did in the past. On this album, Gary Moore had Neil Carter on keyboards, Bob Daisley on bass, Cozy Powell on drums, but Cozy didn’t drum on the two songs mentioned above. That was Simon Phillips, who would do also do work with AC/DC during the “Blow Up Your Video” era and Dio during the “Lock Up The Wolves era plus a tonne of sessions for other artists. Don Airey is also on keys for three songs. Hell, what a supergroup.

I Walk Alone
Badboy Breakout

I must admit I am a sucker for polished hair metal as it became known. “Tear the House Down” was the debut and only release from Hericane Alice and released in 1990 I believe, so I cheated on putting this one in this list. Anyway the band is one of many that got a major label deal late in the 80’s and were largely ignored by the record buying public.

The band was formed in Minneapolis in 1984 and after relocating to LA in 88, they got a deal with Atlantic Records in 1989. After the debut, the band recorded some demos with producer Neal Kernon for album number 2, however the shift in music happened and Atlantic passed on the option.

Sometimes your dreams can come true
You’re in heaven, for so long
Nightmares could happen to you
Just remember, life is long

The above is from “I Walk Alone”.

The career trajectory of Hericane Alice was like a dream come true, getting signed and recording an album with major label backing. However, the heaven of a major label turned into a nightmare.

No one can make it alone. We all need someone to listen to us, someone to speak to when we are down and out. Life is scary. Just google all the studies after studies that talk about suicides. People are killing themselves because they’ve lost all hope.

Meanwhile “Badboy Breakout” while great musically has lyrics about a load that’s ready to explode. Still, I am a fan of hair metal. (what a stupid name for music that’s more or less rock).

Ready Or Not
Sign Of The Times

“Out Of This World” was the follow-up to “The Final Countdown” and Europe needed hits to keep the momentum going.

Released in 1988, “Superstitious” took all the glory right off the bat, while a re-recording of “Open Your heart” failed to inspire the record buying public, except me, who has a 7 inch single of it, along with “Superstitious”. Other singles, “Let The Good Times Rock” and “More Than Meets The Eye” also failed to connect and the album didn’t do as well commercially as the previous album.

But to me, “Ready Or Not” and “Sign Of The Times” are the stand out tracks. But you had to be a fan to hear them as they only appeared on the album.

Rock me till I hit that floor
Rock me till I take no more
Rock this hungry heart of mine
Rock me down right to the ground
Rock me like you never done before
Then rock me just a little more

It more or less sums up the rock and roll show.

“Sign Of The Times” also has a signature keyboard lick that should have been as popular as “The Final Countdown” riff.

It’s the way that we make things right
It’s the way that we hold on tight
I know, it’s the sign of the times
It’s the way that we make things turn
It’s the way that we live and learn
I know, it’s the sign of the times

The sign of the times to me is when all our hope’s run out we just need to love one another to get through the day. It’s the way we live and learn. I guess we need a lot more of it these days.

The World Of You and I

It’s from “In God We Trust” released in 1988. The title track, “Always There For You” and “I Believe In You” might have had the attention and the MTV dial a song codes, but this song is a little melodic rock gem hidden on Side 2. And Stryper didn’t need auto tune to sound so in tune. It was all natural and kudos to Michael Sweet for penning such a gem.

You’re out there all alone
Searching endlessly for a home

There’s nothing like been away from home to actually miss what you have.

We Are Strong

Hurricane had some big name pedigree in it’s ranks. The brothers of Rudy Sarzo (Robert Sarzo) and Carlos Cavazo (Tony Cavazo) took the guitar and bass positions in a role reversal to what their older brothers played. If Rudy played bass, Robert played guitar and if Carlos played guitar, Tony played bass.

“We Are Strong” has got that “You Give Love A Bad Name” vibe and it’s a great piece of melodic arena rock.

Facing hard times
Hold on
Time’s still on our side

It’s easy to walk away and destroy what’s been built. So many walk away for reasons that are important to them and some need to do it to escape a hostile situation.

We’ve got to stick it out

Some might be saying for what. Sometimes people are stronger when they go their own ways, reset and restart.

Cry In Shame

It’s from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors, an Australian guitarist/singer who has this bluesy soul rock vibe that just works. And the problem with Australian artists breaking big in the U.S is the deals they sign with Australian labels, who then make it hard for the U.S labels to get a bigger piece of the contract.

Pickin’ up the pieces
Up off the floor
How was I to know
There was gonna be a war
Words of sorrow
Words of spite
Ringin’ in my head
Right through the night

Who hasn’t been in this situation? For me, it was more in the earlier days. As I get older, certain things that used to bother me don’t even get a blip on my radar.

Up all night
With a conscience fight
Just can’t sleep
So I put on the light

It’s so true after an argument. You can’t sleep as you replay it in your head and you get angry at the missed opportunity to say your piece properly when it mattered.

Time To Surrender

Poor, Kip Winger. His face was on a dart board as Lars Ulrich threw darts at him while Beavis and Butthead created a whole show around him. But man, the dude could sing and along with Reb Beach, they became a pretty good songwriting team, crafting some brilliant AOR/Rock gems. But this song is more in the vein of the hair metal vibe and it works.

The lyrics deal with leaving and someone needing to surrender to keep the relationship going, which at the start it looks like Kip is asking the woman to surrender, but by the end of the song, it’s Kip who has surrendered.

Regardless of the lyrics, the melodies and the music work and it’s a good hidden Winger gem from a pretty excellent debut album.

Rock Me

From Great White’s 1987 album “Once Bitten”.

We’d be so good together if we had the time
‘Cause being alone is a nowhere state of mind

Relationships need time investment. If you are not committed to invest, it normally ends.

I search the world for someone I’ll never find
Someone who ain’t the hurting kind

People get hurt all the time. Physical injuries heal, but our thoughts and feelings also get injured. These hidden injuries never really heal. The anxiety and doubt our thoughts and feelings put forth, amplify if they are not checked.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

When the big chorus comes in, it works to a tee.

Great White in the 80’s and 90’s produced some good output even when the musical climate shifted to Seattle.

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

Run To Paradise

Choirboys are from Australia. This is from their 1987 album “Big Bad Noise”. The song is a classic in Australia, however in other parts of the world it’s unknown or it doesn’t exist. But it should. The song more or less sums up life for a lot of people. It has the partner you liked and how they sort of liked you, the friend who has an addiction problem, the parent who is losing control of their child as they get older and the other friend who drifts away as they get older.

And Paradise can be a city, a town or a place in time in the past that was just perfect, before the big bad world got in the way.

Baby, you were always gonna be the one
You only ever did it just for fun
But you run to paradise

The immortal opening lines of the song. The chord progression is similar to “Crazy Train” moving from the A to the E to the D.

Jenny, I’ll meet you at the grocery store
You don’t need a friend when you can score
You run to paradise

About the friend who isn’t a friend when they are high.

Jesus say’s it’s gonna be all right
He’s gonna pat my back so I can walk in the light
But it’s not alright sometimes.

The Morning After
Closer To My Heart
Looking For Love

“The Morning After” is from the 3x U.S platinum “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. “Closer To My Heart” is from the 2x U.S platinum “Invasion Of Your Privacy” album released in 1985 and “Looking For Love” is from the 1x U.S platinum “Dancing Undercover”.

Let’s start off with “The Morning After”.

How good is that intro riff?

The song is credited to Crosby, DeMartini and Pearcy so I have no idea who wrote the intro riff but as a betting man and after reading Pearcy’s biography, I’ll put money on Crosby as Pearcy described him as the Ratt and Roller Riff Meister.

Also that little harmony lead at the end of the solo is brilliant.

Lyrically, Pearcy talks about going home with someone, lifting skirts and then leaving the morning after, when it’s time.

“Closer To My Heart” is written by Crosby and Pearcy and while it may be classed as a ballad today, it was never viewed as a ballad back in the day.

I listen to you, are you listening to me
The way that you are, it’s easy to see
Feelings for you, now I feel free
I’m lost in time

Love is a two-way street. Both sides have a chance to speak and both sides are meant to listen. In the Ballad of Stephen Pearcy, his partner is not listening to him anymore and he’s fallen out of love.

Indecision, it’s all been heard
No more confusion, the page has turned

Moving on is the hardest thing to do in relationships. Friends pick sides and a sense of familiarity is replaced with the unfamiliar.

“Looking For Love” is written by Crosby, Pearcy and bassist Juan Croucier.

I’m lookin’ for you
You’re lookin’ for me
It’s nothing new
You’re only looking for love
I know it’s true
You know it’s me
I know it’s you
You’re only looking for love

It’s a pop chorus full of clichés and overused rhymes and as good as any pop chorus today. Croucier was also an underrated songwriter within the band, producing a lot of songs and due to whatever politics those songs wouldn’t get considered. So while the singles from the album took all the thunder, the above three tracks should not be seen as poor cousins.

Makin Magic
Flight To Nowhere

Tesla. A massive favourite of mine. Their hard rock vibe mixed with southern rock mixed with Randy Rhoads/Michael Schenker/Angus Young/Eric Clapton guitar playing was huge on my song writing. Hell, I even re-wrote “The Great Radio Controversy” in my own way, meaning I wrote songs similar to all of the songs on this album. And man didn’t this album have some big tunes in “Love Song”, “The Way It Is”, “Heavens Trail”, “Paradise” and “Hang Tough”. But these two songs “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have enough metal in em, to break some teeth and they need more love.

Musically, “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have no filler and are chock full of riffs and great leads and great harmonies. Especially the arpeggiated pull off lick in the “Making Magic” chorus.

Now, I don’t wanna waste your time
I only want to satisfy
So wind me up and watch me go
I’m gettin’ crazy as the night unfolds

Men don’t need much winding up to get going.

I got you, now you got me
Feels so good to be
Makin’ magic, makin’ magic
It ain’t no mystery, come on

Bring on the clichés with heaps of melody. Love it. Moving on to “Flight To Nowhere” .

Look at me, I’m young and bold
Even though I may be growin’ old
I’m never slowin’ down

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it, as you are a long time gone.

Opinion is a piece of mind
Some are good, some are just like
Where the sun don’t shine

So true. Unfortunately, people allow opinions to get the better of them. Treat opinions as just that, opinions, not truth.

Now there’s one more thing I would like to say
This is everybody’s world
And everybody’s gonna live it their own way
No matter what we say, yeah

Be tolerant of all, it’s much better. The sad part is money rules the day and as long as people care more about money, hate will thrive and indifference will not be tolerated.

Troubled minds are full of hate
Willin’ to destroy the human race

The world has vehicles being driven into crowds and bombs going off in crowded market places. What’s next, back to public executions?

(Goin’ down) On a flight to nowhere

Are we too far gone to save ourselves? I don’t believe so.

Midnight/Tornado

From Skid Row’s debut album. After a lot of false starts trying to find the right lead singer that was MTV friendly, Skid Row finally got it going with Sebastian Bach and the recording contract was enacted. But to be honest, I prefer the Brain Fallon demo version found on YouTube. The rawness in Fallon’s voice gave the song what it needed.

Musically and melodically the song is brilliant. Lyrically it talks about a person prowling the streets and coming alive after midnight. Can’t say I am a fan of the words and I would love to hear this song with better lyrics.

Hard As Iron

From the much maligned “Ram It Down” album released in 1988.

I’m blazing on to glory
There’s thunder in my veins
And nothing stands before me
Forever I’ll remain
Hard as iron
Sharp as steel
Stop for no man
You better beg and kneel

Is Halford singing about the metal movement or some mysterious being that’s hard as iron and sharp as steel?

Who cares right?

The song is a five-star speed metal ditty that has all the things in it, people in the 90’s came to hate.

Set The World Afire

From Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988.

Red flesh cloud’s choking out the morning sky
They said it’d never come, we knew it was a lie

Once upon a time nuclear war was the threat in people’s minds. That 80’s TV movie about a nuclear bomb being dropped on a normal U.S town didn’t help either. Today, global warming is a threat. People either don’t care about it or they do, but they shouldn’t ignore it.

Distorted figures walk the street, it’s 1989
Weeds once underneath your feet have grown to vines

It makes me think of the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”.

Dig deep piles of rubble and ruins
Towering overhead both far and wide
Einstein said ‘ We’ll use rocks on the other side ‘
No survivors set the world afire

For all of the drugs and alcohol Mustaine consumed, you would think he would be a vegetable. But he isn’t and his lyrics are evidence of a person who has read far and wide and digested information.

The Transformers Theme

From the 1986 “Transformers” cartoon movie. The movie started off with all of the Autobots fans knew getting killed off in the first 15 minutes. And it’s got a wicked soundtrack, along with Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, this remake of the cartoon theme into a hair metal track also works.

Lion was formed when two UK artists, vocalist Kal Swann and guitarist Tony Smith located to the U.S and teamed up with bassist Alex Campbell and drummer Mark Edwards from Steeler. After the demo was recorded, Doug Aldrich (yes the same Doug Aldrich that went on to join Dio, Whitesnake and now plays with Revolution Saints) was recruited to replace Smith on guitar and basses Jerry Best replaced Campbell.

Now check out the connections between Lion and some of the bands above.

Aldrich would replace Robert Sarzo in Hurricane for one album, “Slave To The Thrill”. Swan and Aldrich would get together with former Hericane Alice members Jackie Ramos and Ian Mayo to form Bad Moon Rising. Jerry Best would later re-appear in Freak of Nature, featuring former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp.

Lioooooon, more than meets the eye…

Hearts On Fire – John Cafferty
No Easy Way Out – Robert Tepper
The Sweetest Victory – Touch

The above three tracks are from the unbelievable and super melodic rock “Rocky IV” soundtrack. Stallone sure knew how to pick a song for his movies. From memory, I believe the movie and soundtrack came out in 1985. I still have the cassette to it and in the 90’s I found the LP in a second-hand record shop. Hell, the Rocky IV soundtrack kick started the melodic rock revolution, especially in Europe.

John Cafferty is the cheaper version of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. If a movie needed a song that sounded like a Springsteen or Adams song, Cafferty was your man. I first came across his music with the “Eddie and The Cruisers” movie and what a soundtrack he wrote for it. “On The Dark Side”, “Season In Hell” and “Tender Years” are as good as all of the hits from the 80’s.

“Hearts On Fire” is not written by Cafferty. In this case he’s just the performer. Actual songwriters are Vince DiCola, Ed Fruge and Joe Esposito. Vince DiCola is the person responsible for the excellent training montage and the end fight music between Rocky and Drago.

Silent darkness creeps into your soul
And removes the light of self-control
The cave that holds you captive has no doors
Burnin’ with determination to even up the score

Doubt leads us to the cave with no doors and even though the cave has no doors, we still cannot escape the darkness of it. Because of doubt and how we let our thoughts control our actions.

How many of our heroes took their own lives?

How many of our friends have taken their own lives?

How many people turn to narcotics to deals with situations?

Dealing with doubt, fear, loneliness, anger and shame is part of life. Those same emotions drive us and they separate us.

And things that give deep passions are your sword
Rules and regulations have no meaning anymore
Let the disappointment lead to inspiration.

Another find from Stallone was Robert Tepper who ended up contributing “No Easy Way Out” to “Rocky IV” and “Angel Of The City” to the “Cobra” movie.

There’s no easy way out there’s no shortcut home
There’s no easy way out givin’ in can’t be wrong

I know the song is about a relationship, however the way Stallone used it in Rocky IV is brilliant. This is the part as he is driving his car. Apollo was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago and Rocky just agreed to fight him in Russia. He gets home and Adrianne confronts him, not happy about that he decided to fight Ivan Drago. So he jumps in his car to clear his head, the music comes on and all these flashbacks start coming back.

And the message the song conveys is that to avenge Apollo’s death, there is no easy way out. Rocky must fight and beat Ivan Drago, which at the point in time in the film looked super impossible.

“The Sweetest Victory” from Touch is another melodic rock gem. I have no other music from this band, except for this one song on the soundtrack. The song has an iconic keyboard riff and a vocal melody that hits the mark.

What Does It Take

By Honeymoon Suite and their “Big Prize” album released in 1986.

If I could grow wings I would do anything
Just to keep you with me
Can’t you see
If I could fly high I would give you the sky
Don’t you make that mistake
It’s your love that I need
What does it take

What a Chorus. Big. Anthemic. Melodic. Tick x 3.

And I just realised that each song I have selected above has some very good guitar playing. Guess I’m a biased listener.

Enjoy.

More parts will follow.

I’m having a shitload of fun living in the 80’s.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Thrash Revision

The very first Megadeth song I heard was “Wake Up Dead”. 100% of people would think I heard it via an LP or some other physical format but it was via music television. Yep, Megadeth was a video clip band for me for a few years before I spent my money on their catalogue. And I thought, “what is this rubbish?”

But the next clip that came on was “Peace Sells” and although musically/lyrically it was great, Mustaine’s voice just didn’t resonate. A few years later I saw the film clip to “No More Mr Nice Guy” from the “Shocker” movie and although Desmond Child spoke of all horrors of horrors trying to get Mustaine sober enough to record the Alice Cooper cover, the finished output was nice and polished enough to showcase Mustaine’s voice. It actually sounded pretty good. A few months later, “In My Darkest Hour” came onto the TV and again I was blown away musically and lyrically, but man, Mustaine’s voice and tone was a bit of a miss on it.

All of my doubts got put to “Rust In Peace” in 1990. When “Holy Wars” came out, I was fully converted, musically, lyrically and vocally.

I was in, I was a fan and I was off to the record shop to buy the new album, plus the back catalogue. However, the shop didn’t have “Killing Is My Business”, so I had to make do with “Rust In Peace”, “So Far, So Good, So What” and “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying”. Apart from the brilliant riffs in “Holy Wars”, the main thing I remember from the video clip is drummer Nick Menza (RIP) pounding the skins and the very MTV friendly looking band appearing on the TV screen.

When Dave Mustaine appeared on “S12 Ep5 of That Metal Show” (in 2013) he was asked to rate his top 5 Megadeth albums. Guess which albums made his top 5.

  1. Countdown To Extinction
  2. Rust In Peace
  3. Peace Sells
  4. Killing Is My Business
  5. So Far, So Good, So What

I think you can take “Killing Is My Business” off the list and add “Dystopia” to it. Isn’t it funny how in 2013, Mustaine viewed his 80’s and early 90’s output as his most superior.

And I started thinking about 1986. 31 years ago. Wow. Has it been that long? The 70’s seemed so far away in the 80’s and in 2017, 1986 seems like a few years ago.

Is 86, the year thrash metal became a commercial force of nature. It’s been well documented that “Master Of Puppets”, “Reign In Blood” and “Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying?” all came out in this period.

Let’s put into context the commercial side of 1986 (based on RIAA certification in the U.S).

“Master Of Puppets” came out in February, 1986 and by November, 1986 in had a Gold Certification. Two years later in July 1988, it was certified Platinum for 1 million records sold. It’s 2x Platinum came on the backs of the “Black” album in 1991 and it wasn’t until 1994 that it was certified 3x Platinum. Currently it is 6x Platinum and that happened in June 2003.

“Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying” came out in September 1986. It didn’t set any charts alight and by November, 1988, it received a Gold certification for 500,000 units sold in the U.S.

By November 1992 and on the backs of the “Countdown To Extinction” album, it was certified platinum.

“Reign In Blood” came out in October 1986 and it was certified Gold in November 1992.

So while 1986 did have some excellent thrash releases, thrash didn’t take the world by storm in the way revisionist writers like to frame it today. Like it or not, it happened after the “Black” album came out. It was a slow build and that’s how great music works. Slowly percolating outside the mainstream until it becomes the mainstream. Then every label wanted in.

For me, I didn’t own (which means buy with cash) my first Metallica record until “… And Justice For All” came out in 1988. I then went back and purchased the earlier stuff. For Megadeth, as mentioned above it was 1990 and for Slayer it was well into the early 2000’s that I got “Seasons In the Abyss” and again based on the film clip. And before owning their albums, I had dubbed copies of their albums.

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

Progress Is Derivative 3

Playlist 

Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. We can paraphrase it to “Good artists try to sound original by hiding their influences”, while “great artists let their influences show”. It’s how the language of music is learned. We imitate our influences.

If you don’t believe me, what is the first thing a person does when they are learning an instrument?

We start by learning songs created by other artists.

Inspiration is not theft. Theft is me taking something and you not having it to use anymore, like your apple or your car. Taking a musical expression and using it in your own song is not theft, as the original musical expression is still there. Here are some examples of taking musical expressions and re-using them in different songs. And in each example, the original expression is still there.

  • Five Finger Death Punch in the verses of “Lift Me Up” paid homage to Ozzy’s vocal melody from “The Ultimate Sin”.
  • Megadeth in the verses of “Kingmaker” paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”.
  • Dave Mustaine wrote “This Was My Life” from his “Phantom Lord” progression that appears from about 2.30 to 3.10.
  • “Live Wire” from Motley Crue borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right”.
  • “My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to “A Flock Of Seagulls” song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.
  • “Hey Hey My My” from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song “I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” from 1980 is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”
  • “Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.
  • “Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993.
  • Even the song “Come Undone” is an amalgamation of other songs. Duran Duran wrote a song called “First Impression” and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was creating a re-interpretation of the song for a covers album the band was doing which would include some re-interpreted songs. The bass line and drum groove came from producer John Jones and a song demo he did called “Face to Face”.
  • The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.
  • “Shepherd Of Fire” borrows from everything. The fire and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The drum pattern is very “Trust” like from Megadeth which is based on based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. The guitar riffs are also very Megadeth like and also based on “Trust” from “Cryptic Writings”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative” effect in action.

The list is just a summary of how the creative arts work.

We take what came before and we build on it. And for creativity to flourish and for cultures to grow like the British 60’s explosion, a healthy public domain is needed which means shorter copyright terms or even no copyright terms.

Copyright is never about paying artists/creators. Copyright was designed by the distributors (book publishers, record labels and movie studios) so who do you think benefits most from Copyright.

For centuries, the distributors have campaigned hard to promote how Copyright is there to help writers and artists. They have PR writers who tell the story of the poor artist who needs Copyright to pay the rent and how dare do people, copy a song instead of paying a price set by the industry for it. These PR writers have turning copying a song, (two songs exists) into theft (now product A is not in your possession).

Yes, Copyright operators do pay artists as a means to make it look like it’s doing the right thing, however more monies end up in the pockets of the organisations than artists.

And all of the great PR work the labels, movie studios and book publishers did in selling the copyright story is biting back at them, via the heirs of dead artists (who in reality should have no rights to songs they didn’t create) taking them to court with plagiarism law suits and what not.

Sort of like our governments who finance revolutionaries, only to have those revolutionaries rise up against their financiers once they seize power.

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

Progress Is Derivative – One Riff To Rule Them All

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Remember “Progress Is Derivative” means to take the best things of what has come before and merge it all together to come up with something new. In some cases it might sound similar to something in the past and in other cases it might sound unique, original and innovative. And the “One Riff To Rule Them All” is a perfect example of how so many songs can have the same riff conceptually and still be able to stand on their own.

One Riff To Rule Them All…
Yep, it’s the A pedal point riff… It all started with a motor city madman called Ted Nugent, and his song “Stranglehold” released in 1975 (actually it’s a bluesy groove that has been around for a lot longer before then). Since then, the riff has morphed to inspire the following songs.

  • “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest released in 1978.
  • The intro to “Swords and Tequila” from Riot released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Never Surrender” by Saxon released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Riding With Angels” by Samson (with Bruce Dickinson on vocals), released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Hellbound” by Tygers of Pan Tang released in 1981.
  • The main riff for “Flash Rockin’ Man” by Accept released in 1982.
  • The Intro in “Curse Of The Pharaohs” from Mercyful Fate released in 1983.
  • The main riff in “Power And The Glory” from Saxon released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Stand Up And Shout” from Dio released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Seek And Destroy” by Raven released in 1983.
  • The intro and main riff in “Two Minutes To Midnight” from Iron Maiden released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Heavy Metal Breakdown” by Grave Digger released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Phantoms Of Death” by Helloween released in 1985.
  • The main riff to “Skin O My Teeth” by Megadeth released in 1992.
  • The main riff to “Break The Chains” from Tokyo Blade.
  • A small variation of “the riff to rule them all” morphed into “Welcome To Hell” from Venom released in 1981.
  • And this morphed into “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue released in 1983 and became known as the Sunset Riff. So it was no surprise that other Sunset guitarists started using it.
  • “Young Girls” from Dokken in 1983 has a riff that’s similar.
  • “Tell The World” from Ratt, released in 1983 also has it.

I guess you can’t keep a good riff down. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Music is derivative. Always has been and always will be.

Ted Nugent’s originality in the 70’s is due to him writing derivative versions of blues grooves. There would be no metal music without rock and roll and there would be no rock and roll without country and blues. In the early blues (circa 30’s), copying and transforming was the norm. The same blues song would be recorded by different artists in different states. Sometimes, the titles would change. No lawyers got involved and especially no courts. In return, this allowed the blues sound to grow.

If you look at the bands above, they all built careers from the same patterned riff without a lawsuit to be seen.

What an amazing concept?

Stone Temple Pilots
Fans of Kiss smiled when they heard “Sex Type Thing” from Stone Temple Pilots. The main riff is influenced by “War Machine”. How strange it is, that one of Kiss’s heaviest songs is co-written by pop rock songwriters, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance with Gene Simmons.

Motley Crue
The Chorus riff to “Ten Seconds to Love” sounds like it was influenced by a certain riff in “Rock & Roll” by The Plasmatics. Actually they sound the same, but who cares. Both are different songs and unique and as you all know, I am a fan of the “progress is derivative” viewpoint.

The Led Zeppelin Effect Again
The impact of “Immigrant Song” cannot be underestimated.

Recently I heard it in “Siberian Queen” (2012) from The Night Flight Orchestra. The drum pattern is Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (1970) and the guitar riffs reference “Achilles Last Stand” in the intro and verse riff.

Meanwhile, John Sykes re-invented himself as Jimmy Page when he combined “Black Dog” with “Immigrant Song” in “Still Of The Night” (1987). In case you are not sure, it’s the riff that comes in after the intro singing.

Then there are the obvious clones of “Immigrant Song” in “Hold Her Tight” by The Osmonds (1972) and “Burning” by Sweet (1973).

Music is and always will be derivative. Enjoy.

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

Ready An’ Willing

Coverdale posted on Twitter that 31 May is the 37 year anniversary of the “Ready An’ Willing” album. So I called it up on Spotify for a few relistens.

My Whitesnake fandom started with the 1987 album. It was my first introduction and I was hooked. It was so guitar heavy, yet accessible. Sometime after I had the album, I purchased the 7 inch single to “Give Me All Your Love” because of an unknown B-side track. The track in question is “Fool For Your Loving”. I got home, dropped the needle and I was shocked. It sounded like a garage demo compared to the polished 87 album.

But the song was good, so I was curious to hear more. The magazines of the time didn’t really talk much about the earlier part of Whitesnake, so I went to “Rings Music World” (our local record shop) with $10 in pocket change. I looked under “W” and all that was there was the 87 album. I went to the discount boxes and found the cassettes to “Ready An’ Willing” and “Saints And Sinners” for $5 each. So for $10 bucks I had some new tunes to listen to, albeit many years after their release.

The band is what makes Whitesnake roll so good during this period. Neil Murray on bass and Ian Paice on drums lay a solid groove and foundation. Jon Lord on keys is a bit more in the background, compared to his Deep Purple output, however he does offer some cool keys on “Aint Gonna Cry No More”. Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden on guitars are really unsung heroes and veterans of the stage by 1980, while David Coverdale brings it all together with his voice. Plus he’s a pretty cool bluesy guitar player, something he doesn’t get enough recognition for.

The album leads with “Fool For Your Loving”. The track was originally written for BB King and it went on to become Whitesnake’s first hit. I was asked by a friend which version do I like better, the 1980’s version or the 1989 version. My answer is both. The original version has that bluesy feel which I dig, while the 89 version has the Steve Vai modern feel which I also dig. Both are different, but the essence of the song is still there.

“Sweet Talker” is a breather before the sleaze and roll of the title track. “Ready An ‘Willing” has one of those addictive foot stomping grooves that still works today. It’s a timeless song, in the same way “Fool For Your Loving” is. While “Carry Your Load” has this Beatle’s vibe that sounds fresh, it’s “Blindman” which is the piece’de’resistance on this album.

“Blindman” is one of my favourite Whitesnake songs. Yeah it might sound similar to “Soldier Of Fortune”, but hey, that’s music. My wish would be for “Blindman” to achieve the same love as other Whitesnake songs.

Like a Blindman
I can feel the heat of the sun
But like a Blindman
I don’t know where it’s coming from

“Aint Gonna Cry No More” is White Led Zep Styx Snake and I swear Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades built Damn Yankees on the backs of songs like these. Influences aside, it’s a track that’s good enough to stand on its own.

“Love Man” is a 12 bar blues dirge. “Black and Blue” is another 12 bar blues rock and roll drinking style of song. “She’s A Woman” is “Black and Blue” part 2. Personally, the last three songs are pure filler, but the first six are not.

Happy 37th Birthday.

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