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

The Record Vault – Bonham

“The Disregard Of Timekeeping” was released in 1989. People expected big things from the son of John Bonham.

I remember seeing a few video clips of Bonham and thinking the songs are pretty cool, but with funds being limited, thought nothing more of it at that time, but when i saw the album at a heavily reduced price of $1 in a second hand record shop, i thought why not.

“Wait For You” has this Faith No More intro (like “Epic”) before it morphs into a Led Zep like verse and chorus.

“Guilty” for such a clichéd title, sounds massive. And that Chorus deserved a top 10 placement on the Billboard charts.

The funny thing is that Winger played a similar brand of rock music to Bonham. Both bands had serious musicians who paid their dues in other bands. But Winger had greater commercial success than Bonham.

“Holding On Forever” to me captures the Bonham sound. It doesn’t sound like a Led Zeppelin cut (but it has Led Zep influences), nor does it sound like a song chasing some commercial dream (although it has some elements) and it has a solo section/chorus that reminds me of the LA scene. It’s these kind of songs which didn’t get released as a single by the label that define a band’s sound.

The label marketed “Guilty” and “Wait For You” as the singles.

And by 1989, the music buying public had burned out on Led Zep Clones. So if you didn’t have the album, you wouldn’t be able to get in deep and find songs like these.

Then they released “Madhatter”.

I didn’t buy it, nor did I find a copy of it via the record fairs or second hand record shops many years later.

But I did find a CD single of “Change Of A Season”.

You get one album track and three non-album tracks.

And “Change Of A Season” is a great track. A track good enough to promote the album. And I called it up on Spotify today.

My favorite tracks are “Change Of A Seasons”, “The Storm”, “Ride On A Dream” and “Chimera”. All of em are a bit more experimental than the standard verse and chorus fair.

The band was building their style and it’s a shame they didn’t get a chance at a few more albums.

And for those record label suits today who still reckon a sale equals a fan.

The album I have was purchased by a music consumer, who then heard it and traded it in to a second hand record and book store. I guess this official fan didn’t like it.

And then when I purchased it, I guess I don’t count because my purchase is off the books. But I played it once and put in away for many years until I pulled it out recently to hear.

And the single was never meant to be sold as its stamped promotional copy. But it got sold and purchased unofficially.

So how would the record label suits account for these?

By saying the band is in debt.

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The Record Vault – Black Sabbath

I had Iron Man, Paranoid, Sweet Leaf, War Pigs and Children of The Grave on various metal and rock compilations, plus Ozzy had given his Sabbath career a decent outing in his solo career. I still rate the Randy Rhoads version of “Children Of The Grave” as THE definitive version of that song.

The ones I spent money on are “Heaven And Hell”, “Volume 4”, “Sabotage”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Reunion”.

Sabotage

This was my first buy, because I came across a guitar transcription of the song “Symptom Of The Universe” and I wanted to hear how the original version sounded. And I wasn’t prepared for how good the album is.

The stoner rock sludge of “Hole In The Sky” kicks it off and Ozzy is at 10 in his vocal intensity.

And after a little acoustic flamenco doodle, “Symptom Of The Universe” kicks off.

And that Em to B flat riff is brutal like a chainsaw going through the head. Vocally, Ozzy again is at an intensity level of 10, just going for the throat.

That change at the 2 minute mark, gives the song a new dynamic, while the acoustic folk outro elevates this song to legendary status for me.

“Megalomania” from a guitar point of view, has got killer riffs all over it. Poison even used one of the riffs for a song called “Looked What The Cat Dragged In”. It’s the riff that kicks in at 3.23 when the cowbell starts.

“Take my hand, my child of love come step inside my tears, swim the magic ocean, I’ve been crying all these years”… From “Symptom Of The Universe”.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

As soon as the riff for the title track “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” kicked in, I was in head banging mode. It’s powerful and intense in the way Bill Ward smashes those drum skins and then it morphs into that jazzy like Chorus.

For all the narcotics and alcohol, the song writing is top level.

“A National Acrobat” continues the head banging. And there is a vocal melody in this song which borrows from the verse melody of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” from about the 2.30 minute mark. That’s how good “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is. And how cool is that trippy major key riff from the 4.55 mark.

“Fluff” is nothing like fluff. It’s an acoustic piece that just sits nicely between the two opening tracks and the next two big tracks to come in “Sabbra Cadabra” and “Killing Yourself To Live”.  

And I like the flow of “Killing Yourself To Live” with its tremolo effect verse riff. And that reference to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in the lead break, is nice and subtle.

“Who Are You” has a synth riff that sounds brutal on guitar.

But my favourite on this album is the closer, “Spiral Architect”. I love playing it on the guitar and when you spend a lot of time learning a song, it becomes a part of your life.

The way it morphs from the open string arpeggios into this major key style riff and then into a re-write of the “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” riff.

And to be honest, I reckon Randy Rhoads was influenced by this song for the “Diary Of A Madman” as well as Bob Daisley for the vocal melody. The Chorus melodies of both songs are pretty similar.

“The people who have crippled you, you want to see them burn”…. From “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.

Heaven And Hell

I purchased this album very late. It was actually after “Lock Up The Wolves” from Dio came out in 1990. At that time, I had the cash and my plan was to get stuck into Dio’s past works starting with Rainbow. But, I also came across the Black Sabbath releases.

It’s a massive album and I couldn’t believe I was so late on hearing this. But kids these days have the whole history at their fingertips so they wouldn’t understand the past.

As with all things related to record labels, this project (like the Blizzard Of Ozz) was always meant to be a new band. Instead the world got another Black Sabbath album and an Ozzy solo album.

The first song written by Iommi and Dio for the new band was “Children of the Sea” but the opener “Neon Knights” sets the feel.

Geezer Butler was so set against continuing without Ozzy,  keyboardist Geoff Nicholls was on hand to play bass on those initial sessions. And it was Nicholls who came up with the “Heaven and Hell” bass groove from the jams the band was having, although Butler is credited.

And by the way, “The world is full of kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams…..” from HEAVEN AND HELL.

And one more, “the moon is just the sun at night”.  

Volume 4

“Wheels Of Confusion” starts the madness and when that Em riff from the 5.20 mark comes in and plays all the way to the end, yep, it’s time to break desks.

“Tomorrows Dream” is loose and jammy, just the way a dream should be. “Changes” came from left field. The first version I heard was Ozzy’s re-interpretation for the “Live and Loud” album. But the original, has this hi-fi feel that I dig.

“Supernaut” is an intense sped up/down tuned blues romp.

While “Snownblind” showed me what happens when you spend too much time in a snowy place.

That arpeggiated section during the solo break is a nice change of those simple dynamics between distorted and clean tones. And at 3.30 they bring in this bluesy style riff and Bill Ward sounds like he’s about to break his drum kit.

Reunion

When this came out in 1998, Kiss was already doing the “Psycho Circus” victory lap while Rush never left. So there was no bigger concert ticket than a proper Black Sabbath reunion, apart from a Led Zeppelin reunion.

And they delivered a live performance on a double CD, along with two new studio tracks. While the live songs are all good, it’s the two original tracks I want to talk about.

“Psycho Man” has an outro which rocks, when Ozzy is singing “he’s the angel of death” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it sounded like a “very unlucky” left over track from “Ozzmosis”. “Selling My Soul” on the other hand, feels like a Sabbath song.

So that is my Sabbath collection.

Blame Ozzy for it being so light, because when you see my Ozzy Record Vault collection, you will go “I get it”.

For me, there was no need to buy every Sabbath album as Ozzy more or less recorded the songs live and released them as a Solo artist.

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Live Albums

There is a blog site I follow called Thunder Bay Arena Rock, run by the well informed hard rock and metal guru known as Deke.

Just recently, Deke had a list of his Top 10 live albums ever, with the rule being only one release is allowed from each artist.

You can read Deke’s post here.

And in the comments I mentioned a few releases that I would include in a list and suddenly I had a list ready in my mind.

So thanks to Deke for getting this list out of me.

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

It was my first exposure to Maiden and I became a fan for life. And the set list is a “best of” selection from the first five albums.

Ozzy Osbourne – Randy Rhoads Tribute

How Randy Rhoads crafted his triple tracked guitars from the albums into a single cohesive live track is worthy of a listen.

And the tempo is upped just a notch, which makes each track blistering.

Add to that a few Black Sabbath songs and the best version of “Children Of The Grave” I have heard, makes this album a keeper. Plus when I was learning how to play guitar, this album was my bible.

Evergrey – A Night To Remember

From Sweden.

I love their melancholic, depressing and yet hopeful style of themes.

On occasions their music borders between progressive metal, heavy metal and hard rock.

There is even a Maiden “Live After Death” reference here, when Tom Englund gets the crowd involved for the song “The Masterplan” the same way Bruce Dickinson gets the crowd involved for “Running Free”.

Bruce Springstreen Live 1975-85

It was my first box set.

So much music and unbelievable live performances. No wonder Springsteen is called “The Boss”.

Even when I typed “Boss” in my Spotify search, Bruce Springsteen came up, however I was actually looking for the Aussie hard rock band called “Boss”.

Dream Theater – Live At Budokan

John Petrucci’s solo on “Hollow Years”.

You know how guitarists have a guitar solo spotlight during a concert with just them and no music. Well on this occasion, Petrucci’s solo is part of an extended solo in the song.

And its brilliant.

Dokken – Beast From The East

As a George Lynch fan, this has to be included and the band overall are in top form, regardless of their love and hate towards each other.

John Sykes – Bad Boy Live

He released two live albums.

One under Blue Murder called “Screaming Blue Murder” in 1994 to fulfill his Geffen contract and “Bad Boy Live” in 2004 under a Japanese label. While the Blue Murder live release focused more on his Blue Murder songs, “Bad Boy Live” is a career best of.

He kicks the show off with “Bad Boys” from the mega selling Whitesnake 1987 album. The second song is the excellent “We All Fall Down” from the second Blue Murder album “Nothin But Trouble”. Then its “Cold Sweat” from the last Thin Lizzy album, “Thunder and Lightning”.

So far, it’s a blistering set.

Sykes is back to the 1987 Whitesnake album and his take on “Crying in the Rain”. “Jelly Roll” from the debut Blue Murder album is next and “Is This Love?” from the 87 Whitesnake album makes it a perfect set so far.

Next up are a few tracks from his solo career, in “Look in His Eyes” from the very underrated “20th Century” album released in 1998, the punk rock pop of “I Don’t Wanna Live My Life Like You” from the self-titled solo debut in 1995 and his first ever solo single,   “Please Don’t Leave Me”, released in the early 80’s.

To round out the set, there is an 8 minute version of “Still of the Night” and a blistering version of “Thunder and Lightning”.

And tying it all together is the band.

John Sykes does all the vocals and guitar, Marco Mendoza is on bass and backing vocals, Tommy Aldridge is on drums and Derek Sherinian is on keyboards and backing vocals.

Twisted Sister – Live At San Bernardino 1984

It was released as part of the “Stay Hungry” album and I watched this VHS tape every day.

Dee Snider as a front man rules the stage.

His banter between songs and how people can’t even look at the camera man is hilarious, bordering on SNL comedy.

Plus the band is in top form, delivering the goods.

Alice Cooper – Trashes The World

I don’t think it was ever released as a CD, but it did come out on VHS and I was all in.

Plus I got to experience all the classic Cooper cuts with a modern sound.

And his backing band is top notch, with Al Pitrelli and Pete Freisin on guitars, Tommy Caradonna on bass and Jonathan Mover on drums, with Derek Sherinian on keys.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Trial By Fire – Live In Leningrad

This concert sums up Malmsteen’s prime, with Joe Lynn Turner as his vocalist.

If Jeff Scott Soto stayed around, it would have been his name mentioned as well.

Anything else that came after for Malmsteen couldn’t repeat the success of the Odyssey album and tour.

Kiss – Alive III

I have a mate who is a mad Kiss fan, and he reckons it’s sacrilege that I can even think “Alive III” is better than the previous “Alive” releases.

Well to me, it is, because of the set list.

I like those 80’s songs more than some of the 70’s songs that appeared on the first two “Alive” albums.

Give me, “Creatures Of The Night”, “Unholy”, “Heavens On Fire”, “Lick It Up”, “I Still Love You” and “I Love It Loud” any day.

If they added “War Machine” and “Exciter” to the list, I wouldn’t have complained.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More For the Road

It was my first exposure to Lynyrd Skynrd and the 13 minute version of “Free Bird” was enough to get me hooked.

Plus there are so many other good songs like “Searchin”, “Tuesdays Gone”, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Saturday Night Special”

Metallica – Live Shit: Binge And Purge

This one cemented to me how good James Hetfield is as a front man. He has the crowd in the grasp of his hand and commands them to get crazy and they respond.

Vote James for President.

And all the songs are sped up, the energy is intense and the set is blistering.

Well that’s it folks.

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Dog Eat Dog

And the night’s illuminated, By the endless glowing sand

That swallowed all the oceans, And choked off all the land

In a world beyond resuscitation, Even by God’s hand

April 2031 – Warrant

Warrant delivered their best album with “Dog Eat Dog”. But it didn’t sell anything compared to the “Cherry Pie” album and it was seen as an expensive bomb. So the band gets dropped.

Even the song titles had me interested, like “April 2031” which deals with a dystopian future after a nuclear fallout and “Andy Warhol Was Right” which covers how every person will have their fifteen minutes of fame, in this case a young boy who plays with toy guns growing up to be a gunman in a mass shooting.

“April 2031” also has probably the heaviest riff, Warrant have ever committed to tape.

“Andy Warhol Was Right” nails it’s “15 minutes of fame” theme perfectly, starting off the song with a young kid singing, before morphing into an angry man because he feels life has past him by. This is the song that got me to re-listen to the album, because Lady GaGa’s song “Shallow” sounds like it and this other “not famous” dude is suing Lady Gaga because he claims he wrote a song which Lady Gaga copied. Well that dude then also copied Warrant.

The “Machine Gun” title had me interested until Jani Lane (R.I.P.) started singing about being harder than a coal train and loving her like a machine gun. He might as well have called the song “Fuck You As Fast As A Machine Gun”. But that intro/verse riff is pretty wicked.

And while Joey Allen and Erik Turner didn’t get the respect they deserved as guitar heroes, they showcase what they are capable off on this album.

“The Bitter Pill” is a classic Warrant song, but that Latin/German section in the middle is Queen esque.

In “Hollywood (So Far, So Good)”, Jani delivers a brilliant line with;

While money is buying your house, It’s selling your sanity

In “All My Bridges Are Burning”, I think Jani is Jimmy in this song.

Jimmy goes through the money like a millionaire, bills pile up around him but he doesnt care

And for people who think that Jani was all about cherry pies, that actual album was meant to be called “Uncle Toms Cabin” until a last minute request from the label to write an additional song changed all of it.

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The Record Vault – All That Remains

The Pirate Bay introduced me to All That Remains circa 2008.

It actually happened in a more complex, funny kind of way, so for any label rep who thinks that scorched earth promotions is the key to get people’s attention, well check out this Discovery. (Spotify Discovery are you reading as well).

I got into Killswitch Engage because the bass player in a band I was in liked em, so I asked him to give me some of their music. He burnt me “The End Of Heartache” and I dug it. This was circa 2005. The hardcore screamo vocals didn’t set my world on fire, but the melodic vocals sure did, the way the songs were constructed hooked me and the music is melodic and heavy at the same time. 

Suddenly I am seeing interviews with Killswitch Engaged founder, guitarist, producer and songwriter, Adam Dutkiewicz in the Guitar mags. And Adam produces other bands. Unearth, As I Lay Dying and All That Remains came into my headspace because of Adam.

So almost three years after getting into Killswitch Engaged, off I went to TPB, typed in All That Remains and their catalogue from start to 2008 was available.

And the first track on the “Overcome” album (released in 2008) is called “Before The Damned”. It’s brutal death metal in the verses and when the Chorus kicks in, its arena rock. I was hooked straight away. “Two Weeks” from the same album is their most streamed song with over 40 million streams on Spotify and 26,644,942 views on YouTube.

In 2010, “For We Are Many” came out and I liked it, but I didn’t commit financially until the 2012 album “A War You Cannot Win”.

Opening track, “Down Through The Ages” has some of the best thrash metal riffage (along with some deep growls)

“So many fall away” indeed. The most likeable kid at school has bi-polar now and looks like Crusty The Clown, all because of too much drugs. But he’s made it, while others have either spent time in jail or hanging on the end of a rope or struggling to breathe, surrounded by carbon monoxide.

Check out the lead break. It’s a hum a long, until the whammy dive kicks in.

“You Can’t Fill My Shadow” has a lead break that keeps me coming back.

“Stand Up” is pretty accessible, with clean tone melodic vocals throughout and great riffage throughout. Stand up and be proud of the choices you made.

To me, this song is a big FU to the people who criticised the band for bringing in some melodic rock influences into their songs. Well if it wasn’t for those influences, I wouldn’t be a fan.

“Asking Too Much” is another hard rock song, easily digested. “Just Moments In Time” is brutal and heavy, with screaming death metal vocals and lyrics which state, “We are all just moments in time, We come from nothing and we’re nothing when we die”. 

“What If I Was Nothing” is almost country’ish in the intro, but a hard rock relationship song in the end. Super melodic, with 24.6 million streams.

“Sing For Liberty” tells people to take back their freedoms.

“A War You Cannot Win” has so many lyrical lines that resonate.

One voice can silence the masses, One voice just scream these words say, No, hell no

“The Order Of Things” was released in 2015 and this album is very accessible for people who like hard rock music but don’t like too much hardcore style vocals or death metal style vocals. 

The piano line intro in the opening track “This Probably Won’t End Well” reminds me of the Paradise Lost “Draconian Times” album, albeit for 45 seconds. Then it’s back to the hard rock/metal that All That Remains does well.

“The Greatest Generation” is a favourite, with a lyric of “remember what made us great”. And we have forgotten that.

“For You” is personal, about a relationship breakdown, and that lyric line of “I won’t wait for you”. “A Reason For Me To Fight” is about making a promise to fight for something you believe in. “Bite My Tongue” has this Jazzy style breakdown which I dig, and when Phil starts singing, “You’re Right, You’re Wrong” it’s time to bang that head.

My favourite track on this album is the closer, “Criticism And Self Realization”. For starters the title hooked me, so it was the first song I listened to. And after that 45 second clean tone intro, the metal arrives. And the verses are heavy with hardcore style vocals, while the Chorus is melodic and emotional. The whole thing connects instantly.

And at 3.20, it goes back to the clean tone intro and it feels like the song is repeating. But it’s not. Its segueing into a new section. And from 4.20, that clean tone intro becomes an outro, with harmony guitars and then lead guitars. By 5.12 the loudness is replaced by a piano, which is playing the same intro music, but slower, sadder, more solemn. And I just want it to continue. But by the 7 minute mark it’s over.

Since, 2015, they released “Madness” in 2017 and “Victim Of The New Disease” in 2018. After the release of this album, founding guitarist Oli Herbert (who also laid down some wicked soloing and riffage on Dee Snider’s “For The Love Of Metal” album) was found dead in a pond. While early reports suggested accidental drowning, an investigation is still pending for foul play. 

And I am glad that vocalist Phil Labonte (also the back up Five Finger Death Punch singer when Ivan Moody goes off the rails) is carrying the All That Remains flame.

And with this post, the record vault for the letter A ends (at this point in time) and I am onto the letter B. My kids reckon I won’t get to Z.

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The Record Vault – Another Lost Year

You can’t find “Better Days” on streaming services in Australia. Which is ridicilous if you ask me, but hey, lets find a way to stop fans from listening to your album legally, however YouTube has songs from the album and it pays less.

Like Adelita’s Way, I got access to the music of ALY via peer to peer services. And i liked it and I purchased.

And then I never heard from em, until I looked em up on Spotify recently and have seen the following content;

A six song EP, called “The Revolution: Pt. 1 The Other Side”, released in 2014. Another six song EP, called “The Revolution: Pt. 2 It’s A Long Way Home”, released in 2016, an album called “Alien Architect”, released in 2016 and a 3 song EP called “Democrazy”, released in 2019. But no “Better Days”.

Anyway”Better Days” came out in 2012.

“I know I will move on to better days”

To have hope is to be human. To think that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, keeps us going. Not all of us make it, but we try our hardest to get there.

“War On The Inside” is heavy and yet accessable at the same time. And the lyric line of “All these voices, calling my name” begins the mental struggle within.

Am I good enough?

What if I make a mistake?

How will people see me?

What if i look like a fool?

I dont want to fail.

If you’ve spoken the above thoughts to yourself, then you are part of the many who has a war within everytime you step out of your comfort zone.

What if you replaced those thoughts, with, how would it be in 12 months if I fail today?

In “All That We Are” there is a lyric in the Chorus which connects.

“If you could just believe in all that we are”.

Trying to convince someone that the relationship (either friends or romantic or band) is worth keeping when they have mentally checked out, is difficult.

“Broken” has a bone crushing riff in the intro and verses.

“What I Deserve” has an intro that reminds me of Bonfire’s “Ready For Reaction” from the Fireworks album. And in the verses, I feel like I’m listening to “Love Song” from The Cure.

“Angels” is a ballad and it’s my favourite song.

“Theres nothing left, theres nowhere to hide”.

I never really sat down and payed super attention to the whole message of “Angels”. I just gravitated to the lines that grabbed me.

Eventually all the riches and good and bad deeds won’t save you when it’s time to meet your end.

“All the worlds you built they all fall down”

We can build walls to keep people out but if history has taught us one thing, all great civilizations fall. And that’s no different to our personal relationships and our private thoughts. It all falls down.

Basically after six tracks, its a six from six for me.

“Runaway” could have come from a Three Days Grace or Shinedown album. “Writing On The Wall” sounds very familiar and that Chorus. Brilliant.

“Come And Gone” is sad and hopeful at the same time and that lyric line, my time has come and gone.

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1984 – VI – The Reckless Knights Of Thunder Seven And The Purple Rain

Was the news we read and saw on TV ever legit, independent and free from corporate interests.

These days, it’s evident that 99% of news publishers are teamed up with a corporation who sets the agenda. And the public interests are not served at all. Which means, the public needs to read critically and make up their own mind on the situation.

But researchers are finding out that the majority will read the headline, maybe the opening paragraph and then move on to another story. It wasn’t like that before. I remember my older brothers buying three different newspapers, from three different organisations. And the same stories had vastly different headlines.

Sort of like when you purchased a music magazine back in the day. When it was all just metal, it was okay. Then the magazines diverged into metal and rock and suddenly, the metal mags had nothing good to say about “rock” bands which a few months before were “metal” bands. And then those metal bands became hair bands and the cycle repeats.

Anyway, here are some artists that rock as hard as the rock heads and metal heads but you wouldn’t see them written up in any of those magazines.

Here are the previous parts of the 1984 series if you’re interested;

Part 1 – Ep 1

Part 2 – Ep 2

Part 3 – Are We Evil Or Divine?

Part 4 – The Warning

Part 5 – Grace Under Pressure

And here is the Spotify playlist for Part 6.

TNT – Knights Of The New Thunder

TNT.

What can I say about this band?

From Finland, who had a record deal with Polygram. They had a guitar hero in Ronnie Le Tekro who is still virtually unknown outside of the TNT fan base and a vocalist in Tony Harnell (Hansen on the album) who had the chops.

They got me interested, they lost me, they got me interested again and lost me again. I still check them out to this day.

Let’s talk about the title track.

Has anyone heard it?

“Knights Of The New Thunder” has an intro keyboard riff that Jack White might have heard at some point and then decided to use that same keyboard riff for a song called “Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes.

And of course, “Seven Nation Army” becomes huge, makes a lot of money and Jack White, along with his publisher are now going after any artist who has anything similar. A recent Eurovision winner from Israel copped a lawsuit from Jack White’s publisher.

But, but, TNT was there many years before that. And I am sure if someone digs in deeper, they will find that riff in previous songs before that even going back to classical music.

Regardless both songs are great.

“Seven Seas” has a riff which I like and a chorus melody which is catchy.

“We are rulers of the ocean, kings of the seven seas”

“Tor With The Hammer” is dumb lyrically, but a great listen for the riffs.

“Break The Ice” and “U.S.A” is typical LA Sunset Strip fare and either song could have appeared on any RATT or Motley Crue album.

And TNT’s style on this album is something that Crimson Glory would use and follow a few years later. But TNT would keep evolving and changing from their metal influences into a more glam rock direction.

Honeymoon Suite – Honeymoon Suite

They did cross over into the mainstream for a while, but for me, it’s the album songs, that rock.

“Burning In Love” is the song that hooked me musically, especially the section from 2 minutes onwards. And the outro solo is perfect.

“Stay In The Light” has a cool palm muted arpeggio riff in the intro, which made me pick up the guitar to learn it. And the keyboard lead over it which is the chorus vocal line,  reminds me of the UK pop scene like Duran Duran and New Order.  

“Now That You Got Me” has a cool distorted riff which drives the song. And the chorus musically, is syncopated with the keys and the guitar and it’s addictive.

“Funny Business” is a feel good up-tempo rocker which feels like it could come from a Van Halen album.

Lyrically, there was no connection for me, but musically, the four songs above connected enough to make me want to learn how to play them.

Bryan Adams – Reckless

This album was my first exposure to Bryan Adams. And it’s a perfect introduction to any person wanting to learn how to write good hard rock songs with a pop rock influence. It had a mixture of a lot of styles, like a classic Led Zep/Queen album and man, didn’t the music buying public splash out on it.

The unsung heroes on this album is the song writing team of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. They had a connection, and hell, they even wrote, “War Machine” for Kiss.

Guitarist Keith Scott, decorates the songs with leads and licks and melodic motifs. Finally, the guitar playing abilities of Bryan Adams is never mentioned, but the dude has chops and he can play.

The power chords of “One Night Love Affair” in the intro got me interested. The arpeggios in the Chorus seal the deal and the vocal melody remains with me long after the song is finished. Basically I was hooked.

“She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancing” could have come from a John Cougar or Bruce Springsteen album. But it’s all Bryan.

“Run To You” is a song I used to cover in bands and it has that iconic guitar arpeggio intro which is as good as the “Stairway To Heaven” or “Smoke On The Water” or “Enter Sandman” riffs.

The ballad “Heaven” is huge and when you translate the vocal melody, the piano and the guitar to one guitar track, it’s worth investing time to learn.

“Somebody” is my favourite track, and I think it’s because it reminds me of “We Don’t Need Another Hero” from Tina Turner and the Mad Max movie “Beyond Thunderdome”.

And the knockout punches keep coming with “Summer of 69”. It wasn’t a hit when it came out as a single, because during the album run, people had already purchased the full album, and they knew the song, so there was no need to purchase the single.  

Sort of like “Wanted Dead Or Alive” from Jovi. It’s a classic track, a hit, but it never went to number 1 as a single, because by the time it came out as single, everyone who was into the band already had the album.

The “Kids Wanna Rock” has this 12 bar blues style which works perfectly in a pop context and it was so true in the 80’s, everywhere artists went, the kids wanted to turn up, pay for their ticket and rock. A duet with Tina Turner called “It’s Only Love” rounds out a perfect album for me. The last two songs could have been left off and no one would have complained.

And looking back at this album today, I think the secret to liking it for me is the fact that each song made me want to pick up the guitar and learn it. So I invested time, learning the licks, the chords and in some cases, the vocal melodies.

Prince and The Revolution – Purple Rain

I’m not a Prince fan by any means, but man, on occasions he wrote songs which crossed over into multiple styles and eras.

“When Doves Cry” has a drum beat which establishes a cool groove and Prince’s vocal melody is perfect, outlining the chord structure with the words.

“Purple Rain” and “Faithfully” from Journey are pretty similar but hey, no one in the music business wrote a song without hearing a song before it.  

REO Speedwagon – Wheels Are Turnin’

How do you follow up the mega million “Keep On Lovin’ You”?

The thing is you don’t, but artists, pushed on by their labels, want the same public acceptance for their new tracks as their old tracks. So the artist is now writing to get another hit, instead of writing to please themselves and to get their message across.

“Can’t Fight This Feeling” was the song offered up as “Keep On Loving You” part 2. And it got what the label wanted, but it also further removed the rockers from REO’s audience, because songs like “Gotta Feel More” don’t even get a mention these days. It’s a rocker and there is this synth line which is addictive and the guitars do a great job decorating it. “Rock And Roll Star” is another cool song with an outro solo which I like.

Triumph – Thunder Seven

They could write songs and they could really play their instruments. Sometimes when you get musicians this good into a room, it becomes a mess of epic proportions and sometimes, you get some great music. Triumph sits on the great side, as they had a magical run up to the late 80’s.

Man that riff to kick off “Spellbound”.

How good is it?

And when the whole band kicks in, it’s perfect.

How good is “Rock Out, Roll On”?

The intro riff and feel reminds me of the “Kashmir” groove plus the vocal melody and performance is excellent.

“Cool Down” is Led Zep territory and “Follow Your Heart” takes it out of the ballpark with its “Dance The Night Away” riff merged with “Unchained”.

“Time Goes By” is sitting at track 5 and its one of those tracks that highlights the diversity of “Triumph”, morphing between metal like riffage to hard rock riffage to pop rock riffage.

And that’s where I stop my listening experience with this album. Those first five tracks are all killer, no filler.

The Cars – Heartbeat City

I didn’t hear this album until I heard the song “Drive” in 2007 from the first Transformers movie.

And man, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the album.

It’s different, but it still rocked enough for me to pick up the guitar and play along to it. You know how songs from artists like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and New Order work well in a rock and metal context, well, The Cars fall into that same category.

“Hello Again” starts off with a layered vocal line that could have come from Def Leppard and combined with “Looking For Love” it’s a great opening one two combination.

“Magic” could have come from any rock band with it’s “I Love Rock N Roll” inspired riff in the verses and a pre chorus which sounds like it came from “Hysteria” before “Hysteria” was written.

And “Drive” is one of those tracks that crosses over. It’s got a simple drum groove and the iconic lyric of “whose gonna drive you home” that remains long after the song is done.

“Why Can’t I Have You” has all the new tech from the mid 80’s around midi’s and a multi-layered Chorus like Def Leppard in the Chorus.

Steve Perry – Street Talk

I got this album at the same time I got “Raised On Radio” from Journey, well into the 90’s. I was expecting both albums to be rock albums and it wasn’t to be.

In saying that, “Oh Sherrie” has keyboard parts which sound good on guitar and man, Steve Perry can carry a song on his voice alone.

To me, the best songs like “You Should Be Happy”, “Captured By The Moment” and “Strung Out” are hidden deep within the album. The verses on “You Should Be Happy” are excellent, as the riff rocks and Perry’s vocal melody is hooky. “Captured By The Moment” has an arena rock chorus while “Strung Out” could have come from a Bryan Adams album.

38 Special – Tour De Force

Another band I got into very late.

“If I’d Been The One” just feels good as soon as it blasts out from the speakers. “Back Where You Belong” continues that feel good theme. It’s pop hard rock at its best.

“Twentieth Century Fox” is more on the rock side, with its Status Quo meets AC/DC vibe meets ZZ Top “La Grange” vibe.

“Long Distance Affair” has a cool lead break, “One Of The Lonely Ones” is back to the melodic rock and “Undercover Lover” closes the album with pure hard rock gold.

Basically, it’s a cool melodic rock album to listen to.

Jefferson Starship – Nuclear Furniture

The big keyboard riffs in “Layin’ It On The Line” get me hooked.

“Sorry Me, Sorry You” rocks out of the gate, with a lead guitar that reminds me of “Wild Frontier” from Gary Moore and the vocal melody in the chorus is excellent.

“Shining In The Moonlight” has a cool riff to kick it off before it morphs into clean tone arpeggios for the verses.

Basically, this is another cool melodic rock album to listen to.

John Waite – No Brakes

I wasn’t expecting the Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” style drumming and fast picked guitar riff in “Saturday Night” to kick off a John Waite album. But it did and it kept me listening.

And then it went into the big radio rocker, “Missing You” which to be honest is a cool listen. But man, after that frantic opening song, “Missing You” as track two was just too much of a departure. John Kalodner should have been on the scene here to co-ordinate the track sequencing.

“Dark Side Of The Sun” is subdued as it smoulders along while “Euroshima” is another fast paced rocker.

The Cult – Dreamtime

How good is the start of “Spiritwalker” with the arpeggio guitar riff and the drum groove along with Ian Astbury’s native Indian like chant?

And ’83rd Dream” has this progressive feel to it which I like. “A Flower In The Desert” has “The Call of Ktulu” style riff, which is based around the “Kashmir” riff which moves up chromatically.

Fates Warning – Night on Brocken

This album came to me at a time when I was in the mindset to hear progressive metal and Fates Warning became a favourite instantly.

“Buried Alive” kicks it off and “Kiss Of Death” musically sounds like a Rush song, with the distortion cranked to 10 and the tempo’s increased a little bit more.

“S.E.K” is a short minute and a half song, that’s like a classical/flamenco style acoustic guitar arrangement.

The opening riff in “Misfit” reappeared again in “Be Quick Or Be Dead” by the might Maiden and a harmony lead that reminds me of Megadeth’s “She Wolf”.

“Shadowfax” and “Jump In The Fire” sound like they were written from the same source material, being Rush. But after the intro, it sounds like a Maiden song.

Well that’s Part 6 done. 1984 was a big year for releases, so there are a few more parts to come. Stay tuned.

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