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

Australian Method Series: Dragon – Body And The Beat

Dragon is a New Zealand rock band which was formed in January 1972 and relocated later to Sydney, in May 1975.

“Body and the Beat” is album number seven. The album was released in June 1984, peaking at number 5 on the Australian charts and gained a platinum certification.

But it’s their first album since 1979.

At the time, Dragon was on the verge of breaking through worldwide but vocalist Marc Hunter was out of control with his heroin addiction and on stage antics, offending everyone, including audiences, other acts and label heads.

They had a US tour opening up for Johnny Winter that went pear shaped when Hunter called Winter’s blues rock audience rednecks and faggots. Then again it was another stupid decision to place Dragon on this bill, it’s like Imagine Dragons opening up for Iron Maiden.

Actually when I watched Maiden on the “Somewhere Back In Time”, the opening act “Behind Crimson Eyes” was the support. Now they are an Australian metalcore band with screaming vocals and they got booed after each song, until they played a cover of “Ace Of Spades” and the crowd cheered. Again, another misplaced opening act.

Anyway, back to Dragon, the band which included his brother Todd, fired him. This brought to an end the first period of Dragon which also involved the heroin overdose of drummer Neil Storey in 1976.

Hunter went solo and had some success and then the band got together again.

“Rain” was the output in 1983. Written by Johanna Pigott, Marc Hunter and Todd Hunter, it’s 3 minutes and 40 seconds of hard rock glory. Make sure you stick around for the “if you go out in the rain” melody.

Due to its success, the band went into the studio to record an album worth of songs.

It’s worth noting that the songwriting team of Johanna Pigott and her partner, Todd Hunter (Dragon bass player) also wrote the smash hit title track “Age Of Reason” for John Farnham.

The album kicks off with “Rain”. “Promises” and “Wilderworld” are melodic rock songs perfect for a summers day.

If it wasn’t for “Rain”, then “Cry” would be a favorite.

“Body And The Beat” has a bass groove and a feel that bands like INXS were making popular.

“Magic” feels like a driving song, with the window down and the warm winds blowing through.

But.

Apart from “Rain”, this album is forgotten.

Everyone told the band the album would break the band overseas. But it didn’t. Within a year they were back in the studio recording another album..

A year after this album came out, keyboardist Paul Hewson and the writer of their classic songs “April Sun In Cuba” and “Are You Old Enough” was found dead in a friends car, hours after he told the band he wanted to leave.

Dragon continued and released the super successful (in the Australia market), “Dreams Of Ordinary Men” in 1986 and my favourite “Bondi Road” in 1989. A few greatest hits and acoustic re-recordings hit the shelves. And then tragedy struck again.

Marc Hunter was diagnosed with throat cancer in November 1997 and he died on 17 July 1998. Dragon have continued on with Todd Hunter still the driving force.

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

1986 – Part 1.3: Metallica – Master Of Puppets

It’s the album that defined the Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Burton line up. By 1986, they had been together for three years and the musical creativity between the guys was at an all-time high.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted any Metallica reviews at all. When I started this blog I tried to focus on artists who didn’t get a lot of love and stayed away from acts like Metallica because the internet is littered with stories and reviews. But each story and review is personal to the person who wrote it.

For me, Hetfield and his commitment to down picking and writing killer riffs is a huge influence when it comes to guitar playing. The lyrics he wrote, living in corporate Reagenomics showed a maturity far surpassed for his young years. There is and never was, no tease and please in his lyrical lines.

The cover foreshadows that other unseen masters control our lives from the cradle to the grave. Designed by Metallica and Peter Mensch and painted by Don Brautigam, it depicts a cemetery field of white crosses tethered to strings, manipulated by a pair of hands in a blood-red sky.

With “Master Of Puppets”, Metallica took the diverse musical elements of “Ride The Lightning” and raised the bar even higher. Live, they performed even faster and looked like your friend standing next to you watching the show, so far removed from the image put out by Ratt and Motley Crue, to name a few.

“Battery”

The ominous Ennio Morricone themed intro kicks off this monster track. It’s even classical sounding in nature as James Hetfield creates a melody that moves from F to E to D while the low notes move up chromatically from E to F to F# and to G. And while those chords ring out, a subtle harmony guitar outlines a different melodic idea.

Eventually, the power chords start crashing in and those subtle harmony guitar licks come to the fore.

Then all hell breaks loose at the 1.05 mark, when a chainsaw galloping riff smashes through the boundaries and James starts singing with his four day alcohol infested throat. The song isn’t pretty, but its message is about a light that burns within despite the violence and darkness around.

It could be seen as a bastard, a collision between punk and metal.

“Smashing through the boundaries / lunacy has found me / cannot stop the battery”

And a sea of bodies run, circle and smash each other into bits, creating scars to prove that the battery cannot be stopped.

How good is that hard rock like groove and lead from 2.58 to 3.18 before the breakneck solo section.

And make sure you bang your head on the military foot stomping chromatic riff from 3.49 to 4.00.

Which also closes the song. I guess battery is found in me.

“Master Of Puppets”

They wanted to write another “Creeping Death”.

Hetfield grew up in a Christian Science house. The person here is controlled by the religion first, then the family, the social circles of the family and the cultural values of the family and their circle of friends. Hetfield explored these themes of control and subjugation in “Dyers Eve” and “The Unforgiven”.

In its essence, it’s asking for sanity to prevail in a control-freak society/world. Then again, it could be seen as a band saying to their audience, “taste our music and you will see, more is all you need”, because once everyone got a taste of em, they more or less stayed hooked and agreed with Hetfield.

After a few descending and chromatic power chords, the intro riff kicks in at the 3 second mark. Hetfield’s combination of syncopated chromatic lines with a driving low E pedal at 220 beats per minute creates an urgent feeling.

The verse riff has so much power because of the vocal line. They complement each other.

The song could have ended at the 3.32 mark. A 3 minute thrash-a-thon. But this was Metallica, and suddenly we get a haunting Em arpeggio riff, with harmony guitars and James Hetfield breaking out into an individual solo before joining back up with the harmony lead.

Then the clean tone arpeggio riff is played menacingly with distortion while power chords crash down around your senses, while Lar’s just keeps building into the “master, master” chant section.

“The Thing That Should Not Be”

An ominous D to E clean tone chord rings out. On this they drop the E down to D and all the other strings remain the same. It was my first exposure to the DADGBE tuning.

Lyrically, I read a track by track analysis book from Mick Wall and Malcolm Dome, who said the song is about the madness that lives at the bottom of the well of all human souls. And it stuck with me, because even though it could be about the mythical creature Cthulhu, I always saw lyrics from a personal and social point of view.

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”

This song is the definition of taking the best things of what has come before and merging those things all together to come up with something unique, original and innovative.

INTRO (0.00 to 0.20)
Back in 1971, Yes released “Roundabout”. The intro is more or less a droning note, with some harmonics and a hammer on/pull off lick on the E string.

Take something from the past and make it better.

INTRO 2 and VERSE (0.21 to 1.48) and (2.10 to 3.10)
Anyone heard of a New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) band called Bleak House?

If the answer is NO, then you are in the majority. However, a certain person called Lars Ulrich has heard of this band. James Hetfield has even said in an interview that the band shall remain anonymous.

So Bleak House release a song called “Rainbow Warrior” as a seven-inch single in 1980 via Buzzard Records. By 1982, the band called it a day. The intro riff of “Rainbow Warrior” is catchy. It was so good that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are influenced by it. They start to jam on it and they start to tweak it into “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.

Hetfield and Ulrich made this riff the centrepiece, as Hetfield arpeggiates a serious of 5th power chords on the A and D strings, surrounding them with the Open G and E strings, which forms like a double pedal point. The lead break from Hammett is phrased perfectly.

Metaphorically, I saw the world as a lunatic asylum and you know how truth is meant to set you free, but in this song, truth actually imprisons you. In a cruel twist of fate, knowledge is maddening, instead of being powerful. I’ve definitely overanalyzed the lyrics, but god damn, what else was I meant to do during this time except listen to music, analyse the music, read the interviews in the mags I purchased and since I played an instrument, learn the music and write my own music.

In the “Guitar Legends” #108 issue, Hetfield said that the idea for the song came from the move “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and that “the riff was lifted from some other band, who shall remain anonymous.”

OUTRO (4.05 to 4.26) and (04.48 to end)
Metallica have taken the intro from “Tom Sawyer” and used it as their outro. The feel and the phrasing of the two songs are almost identical.

Again, take what has come before and make something new.

“Disposable Heroes”

One of the most underrated cuts on the album. This song is a blast to play on guitar with so many different movements and bone crunching riffs, like the open string palm muted chugging riff after the power chords intro.

And that open string palm muted riff comes back in the verses.

At 8 plus minutes, it’s a tour de force, another metal classic, the way metal should sound.

“Back to the front / you will die / when I say / you must die” as even in war, the soldiers are controlled by masters. These kind of concepts Hetfield explores a little bit more in “One”.

Make sure you stick around for the various lead breaks between the 4.50 and 5.25 mark.

And the lyric, “I was born for dying” scared the hell out of me, because it’s true. Everything that is born will die eventually.

“Leper Messiah”

The song is written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. The title comes from a David Bowie lyric in “Ziggy Stardust”.

It’s worth noting that Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song’s main riff and was not given credit by Metallica. Hammett denies this, saying that just before the guitar solo there is a less than 10 seconds of music that could be his and that it was actually Lars Ulrich that came up with the main motif.

For all of those haters that said Metallica had sold out with the “Black” album obviously didn’t know that Metallica had similar style songs on their earlier albums. “Leper Messiah” is one of those songs.

The best part comes in around the 30 second mark. Cliff’s trademark bass lines just rumble along while James lays down palm muted staccato power chords.

“Send me money, send me green / Heaven you will meet / Make a contribution / And you’ll get a better seat / Bow to leper messiah”

Turn on the TV and you see some evil right there. These TV evangelists made some serious bank, using heavy metal and hard rock music as topics of discussion, while spending a lot of their time in seedy motels doing drugs and hookers.

Make sure you check out the section between the 3.20 to 3.35 mark.

“Orion”

The drums are stock standard while the bass plays phased out chords, but when the distorted guitars kick in, that riff is head banging, back breaking and desk breaking worthy.

At the 4 minute mark, the song slows down into a Sabbath like blues rock riff courtesy of Burton and the guitars really shine here, with their harmonies. From the 5.13 mark, a lone lead starts but its quickly harmonised. This whole section was written by Burton.

At the 5.41 mark, there is another melodic lead which keeps on repeating and it builds into a single lead break. Then you get a bass solo. At the 7 minute mark its back to the thrashing mad lead sections, but here Hammett is all Michael Schenker like.

“Damage Inc.”

I will leave this review with the following lines from “Damage Inc.”;

“Following our instinct / not a trend / go against the grain / until the end”

Amen.

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

1986 – Part 1.2: David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile

I had no idea who Steve Vai was until I saw him in the “Yankee Rose” clip, making his guitar answer questions that Dave Lee Roth put forward. And if you think it was a fluke, make sure you check out the cat/kitten noises Vai did for the intro on “Kittens Got Claws” on the Whitesnake “Slip Of The Tongue” album a few years later. The way Vai could manipulate the guitar with the whammy bar, bends and slides and effects to create animal and human like voices is unique.

“Eat ‘Em and Smile” is the debut full-length solo album by original Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth, released on July 7, 1986. The band on the album is Steve Vai on guitars, Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums.

Produced by Ted Templeman, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a party about to go out of control.

“Yankee Rose”

Penned by David Lee Roth and Steve Vai. The intro is iconic with the walking bass line and of course the “talking guitar” which seems to have a conversation with David Lee Roth.

From a musical viewpoint, Vai is in cruise control here, making a very simple guitar riff sound interesting with his additions of arpeggios, legato lines, bends and whammy bar manipulations towards the end of the fourth bar of the riff.

The video clip was also designed with MTV in mind, with moves orchestrated to show the technical abilities of the individual band members.

“Shyboy”

The Talas track penned by Billy Sheehan got some added muscle on this album with Vai’s virtuosic playing complimenting Sheehan. And of course, Gregg Bissonette on drums is in his element here.

“I’m Easy”

From Aussie artist, Billy Field who he co-write the song with Tom Price. The whole big band sho-be-bop is not my thing however I don’t mind when rock artists take a song from that style and rock-ify it.

But this isn’t really rock-i-fied.

“Ladies’ Nite In Buffalo?”

Another Roth and Vai cut, this one sounds like it came from the fingertips of Joe Walsh.

The blues rock boogie from Sheehan and Bissonette is excellent and the funky guitar riff by Vai compliments it perfectly. It’s tracks like this that made Dave Lee Roth’s solo career interesting and exciting.

And that lead break from Vai is outta this world.

“Goin’ Crazy!”

It’s another Roth/Vai penned song.

Vai brings the goods with an iconic guitar riff to kick it off. If you think the riff sounds like something you’ve heard before, I always said that the riff in “Finish What Ya Started” which came a few years after, is very similar to this.

The synths compliment instead of detracting.

Check out Vai’s solo and then go to YouTube to watch the video clip put together from the movie that never came to see the light of day.

“Tobacco Road”

A cover song written by John D. Loudermilk, it’s got that big blues rock feel and the way the DLR and the guys in the band do it, is excellent.

“Elephant Gun”

Another track penned by Roth/Vai and this one is full of great Van Halen inspired riffs. Vocally, Roth sings in a deep baritone, something which Axl Rose would do a lot within the Guns catalogue.

The solo section starts off with an impressive bass solo, which keeps happening, when Vai starts shredding the guitar lead.

“Big Trouble”

The “Big Trouble In Little China” film always come to mind when I see this song title.

Does anyone remember the Kurt Russel and Kim Cattral film?

The song has nothing to do with the film except that it’s a sleazy little rumble, written by Roth/Vai with a rap like vocal melody in the verses and a progressive like Chorus.

Check out the blistering Vai solo full of his trademarks fast legato lines with finger taps.

“Bump And Grind”

Another Roth/Vai composition.

Great title with a riff which bumps and grinds its way through the song and Roth is being Roth, having fun and talking his way through the song.

“That’s Life”

A big band cover song written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon. What can I say, is Roth being Roth.

And this line up wouldn’t do another album again or perform together once the tour ended. However a reunion show was planned recently, and it was killed seconds before the band took the stage by a fire marshal who was worried at the size of the venue and the amount of people in the venue.

The free spirited nature of “Eat ’Em and Smile” is attractive and exciting as it feels like the whole album could just go off the rails and crash at any time.

At 31 minutes, man, its short for a release, which was strange for a highly anticipated and expected album. But the impact it left behind is huge, introducing Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan to large rock audiences, along with drummer Gregg Bissonette.

After this, Vai and Roth would do one more album in “Skyscraper” while Sheehan formed Mr Big with another ace guitarist in Paul Gilbert. Both acts had huge success with their releases.

Vai would finally release his second solo album “Passion and Warfare” and he also got a chance to decorate the songs that Adrian Vandenberg wrote for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album after a cool million dollar advance.

Meanwhile Roth hooked up with various guitarist to write the follow up, eventually settling on 19-year-old guitar virtuoso Jason Becker to replace Vai.

“A Little Ain’t Enough” was released in 1991, produced by Bob Rock. It did okay business in sales but before the tour started, Becker was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, rendering him unable to perform onstage. Guitarist Joe Holmes stood in for Becker during the tour.

But the audience just wasn’t there for DLR to fill arenas in 1991, After 15 years in the spotlight, Roth’s brand of hard rock became unfashionable.

And the original era of Roth’s solo career fractured shortly after.

P.S. this is the second part of a post that was meant to be just one post. Here is the link to the Maiden post covering “Somewhere In Time”.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – Second Stage Turbine Blade

I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.

The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.

Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.

Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.

As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.

The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.

The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.

This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.

From a story point of view, there is a great summary over at the Coheed and Cambria fan wiki.

In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.

A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.

“Second Stage Turbine Blade”

It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.

“Time Consumer”

The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.

“Devil In Jersey City”

It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.

“Everything Evil”

This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums

Delirium Trigger”

The heaviest song on the album.

“Hearshot Kid Disaster”

It has a funky riff.

“33”

A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.

“Junesong Provision”

“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.

“Neverender”

The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.

“God Send Conspirator”
A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.

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

1986 – Part 1.1: Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time

The first thing that grabs you is the Bladerunner style cover. Bruce Dickinson mentions the same in his book, “What Does This Button Do?”

Apart from buying the album, the fan is also buying a great piece of art by Derek Riggs, who took 3 months to come up with the painting.

During this 80s era, the UK government decided to tax the entertainment industry over 80% of what they earn so this meant that the band and other UK artists had to go into exile and were caught somewhere, far away from home for nine months of the year. So the album ended up being written and recorded in different places and in different studios.

When the sessions started, Bruce Dickinson wanted to do something different, which made everyone laugh. He wanted Maiden to lead instead of delivering just another Iron Maiden album.

But, the fans got “just another Maiden album”. And we loved it.

Steve Harris contributed “Caught Somewhere In Time”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” and “Alexander The Great”. Adrian Smith contributed “Wasted Years”, “Sea Of Madness” and “Stranger In A Strange Land” while Dave Murray brought in “Déjà Vu”.

A chord is strummed, a synth chord rings out and a harmony lead is heard. This repeats for a few times and then a drum groove comes in. Subdued it percolates, changes key and at the fifty two second mark, it explodes.

“Caught Somewhere In Time” had really started. And that exploding intro comes back in the solo section at the 4.50 mark. As Harris once said, it’s about a nightmare trip through time due to a malfunction in the time machine.

The iconic open E pedal point riff starts off “Wasted Years”, Maiden’s contribution to the tales of touring and being on the road for a long time. It’s no surprise that this song was written straight after their biggest and longest tour for the “Powerslave” album which resulted in the “Live After Death” album.

The intro lead riff was rejected by Smith but Harris heard it and told him to work on it.

And the whole solo section is head banging, fists in the air, desk breaking material. Check out the way they build up the intro E pedal point riff into the solo section.

The solo section of “Sea Of Madness” is one of my favourite pieces of music on this album.

“Heaven Can Wait” is the story of a person who is struggling to transition to Heaven. The song just moves along, but when the whole “Take my hand, I’ll lead you to the promised land” section starts off, its pay attention time. Then those “woh oh oh” chants kick in and its desk breaking time. And how good is the clean tone guitar riff under the “woh-oh-oh”.

The guitar intro to “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” is inspiring, There is a film with the same title and Harris once said in an interview something like, “you always have to run in life, move forward, and you do it alone.”

The way Bruce Dickinson carries the vocal melody for the Chorus is excellent, and then the harmony leads kick in while Nicko McBrain is doing double time on the drums.

Then at the 3.30 mark, a blues rock like lead kicks in with pentatonic bends before it morphs into a metal like solo. And the song ends the way it started, with a tonne of memorable harmony leads.

The open E bass shuffle of “Stranger In A Strange Land” gets me interested, but it’s the Adrian Smith riff that seals the deal.

And how good is the lead break.

While the title shares the same name as the Robert Heinlein book, Adrian Smith based it on a story he read about an old sailor John Torrington, a member of the mysterious 1845 Sir John Franklin expedition that attempted to find the Northwest Passage from America to Asia. More than a century later in 1984, he’s perfectly preserved body was found in the ice of the North Pole.

Check out “Déjà Vu” from the 30 second mark, when that harmony lead kicks in. It’s like “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” part 2 and it morphs into a riff that reminds me of “Die With Your Boots On”.

How good is the pre chorus vocal melody when Dickinson starts to sing, “cause you know this happened before”?

And that harmony lead from the 2.50 mark. Brilliant.

There is blowing wind, a slow military march tempo and a clean guitar solo. That is how the album closer, “Alexander The Great” starts, and it percolates musically, until it explodes into the verses.

The lyrics are somewhat like a children’s encyclopaedia article however there is enough detail there line by line.

And that groove and feel change at the 4.50 mark is excellent, with more leads and more harmonies.

Not bad for just another album.

But.

For all its excellence, the tracks on “Somewhere In Time” (apart from “Wasted Years” and “Heaven Can Wait”) are really underplayed when it comes to the set lists.

P.S. This issue of Guitar Legends is one of my favorites with a heap of information. But that will be for another day.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Universal Music Gets $1.5 Million for “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

The case between Clive Palmer and Universal Music (UM) is over, with the judge awarding damages of $1.5 million to UM.

For those that don’t know or don’t remember, Clive Palmer is an Australian businessman who decided to start up a political party called United Australia. He asked to use the song, heard that the licence fee was $150K for eight months use and decided to write a parody version of it called “Australia ain’t gonna cop it”.

Well, when Dee Snider and Jay Jay French heard about it, they got the lawyers involved. Dee has said on other occasions, that if someone agreed to pay the licence fee, it was still up to the writer to approve the use of the song and if the person/organization did not represent the message of the song to include all and give people a right to speak up and choose, he would have vetoed the use.

Palmer is not liked by the majority of Australian’s. He’s been found guilty of not paying workers properly, for creative accounting and when he doesn’t get things his way, he sues. Just recently he took the state of Western Australia to court because of their hard border closure. But he met his match with Dee Snider and Twisted Sister.

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Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 26 to May 2

4 Years Ago (2017)

I was reading a paper that Steve Albini wrote back in the early nineties called “The Problem With Music” and was inspired to write.

While change is a constant in life, the recording business and the contracts they use haven’t changed much.

8 Years Ago (2013)

The debacle that was the Stone Music Festival was still getting some news.

Basically you had amateurs involved in organizing a festival and the blowback was huge.

I shared my enthusiasm for “BULLY” – Shinedown, “BLACK” – Trivium, “BECOME” – Mutiny Within, “BE STILL and KNOW” – Machine Head and “BELIEVE IN ME” – Corroded.

If these five songs appeared on one side of a LP, the album for me would be called a classic. 

I watched Black Sabbath live and posted my review here.

Then I was questioning if Sabbath was still relevant.

Black Sabbath was the early 70’s.

Towards the end of that era, the band was bleeding and Ozzy was fired. The beginning of the 80’s, saw Black Sabbath in the “Heaven and Hell” period, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals. After that, you can say the band didn’t really set the world of fire, however I do have a soft spot for the “Eternal Idol” and “Headless Cross” albums with Tony Martin on vocals.

The “Dehumanizer” album in 1992 with Dio was an attempt to make both Dio and Sabbath relevant in the 90’s, however it didn’t really hit the mark.

Black Sabbath of the 70’s questioned authority, challenged institutions and preyed on people’s fears of heaven and hell. The 2013 Sabbath didn’t do that lyrically, it was just the same old run of the mill cliches.

It looked like my playlist shuffle was stuck in the song titles that begin with B.

So I posted my appreciation of “Breakin Free” – Tesla, “Be Somebody” – Thousand Foot Krutch, “Beautiful” – Since October, “Back Again” – Daughtry, “Believer” – Three Doors Down, “Black Rose” – Trapt and “Beautiful Mourning” – Machine Head.

I thought I would do a follow-up to how One Less Reason treat their fans. Which was still shit.

Comments taken from their Facebook page at the time had a lot of things like “Ordered your CD from your website a while ago and still have yet to receive it, what does it take to get your cd? several attempts to contact you and no response yet.

And I still hadn’t received my CDs as well.

“What About Now” from Bon Jovi went from number 1 to 76 in six weeks, so I thought I’ll write about it.

Finally Jovi also released dates for a December 2014 tour of Australia.

And they did so many pre sales deals with different organizations, with tickets ranging in prices from $200 to $2000 and of course if you paid the premium membership for their own backstage fan club you had access to the first presale.

Regardless of the deals and the band scalping their own tickets, the tour was still a massive event with Sambora or not.

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

Australian Method Series – BB Steal

BB Steal was Australia’s entry for world domination in the hard rock movement. But did the world need a new Def Leppard.

Their association with the band wasn’t just inspiration. They opened up for Def Leppard during the “Adrenalize” Tour and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen produced the title song on their “Heartbeat Away” EP and co-produced their first full-length album “On The Edge”, which also features a version of the song “Heartbeat Away”. Collen also played some guitar and sang backing vocals on the album, but is not credited.

BB Steal (otherwise known as Beg Borrow Steal) was spawned from the NWOBHM sounding “Boss” band. In typical Australian hard rock fashion, they lived in development EP hell for at least 4 years before the album came out. 4 years is a long time in the music and recording industry.

And the album definitely racked up the bills as recording took place in Los Angeles and Montreal with various engineers and studio players.

Formed in 1987, they released the 4 song EP “Heartbeat Away” in 1988. The title track of this EP set the tone for the sound and feel the band would pursue. The Def Leppard “Hysteria” album sound.

So, “On The Edge” was released in 1991. It’s one of those should have and would have and could have stories. It should have done better commercially, and it would have if Grunge didn’t come, and it could have done great numbers if it came out a few years earlier.

If you love Def Leppard then you will love BB Steal. Critics praised em and also drilled em, calling em a poor version of Def Leppard. But the band was a lot more than the Def Leppard comparisons.

“On The Edge (Lizzy Town)” has this “Led Zeppelin III” acoustic vibe before it moves into a Def Leppard like groove and vocal.

“Big On Love” is probably the best song not written by Def Leppard that sounds like it belonged on “Hysteria”. At one stage I thought it was “Animal”.

Then “Hysteria” starts. Wait, it’s called “Ride On”. They are similar but derivative enough to stand on its own.

“Suffer In Silence” is another track which is very Def Leppard like.

“Live It Up” has a guitar intro that could have come from a Van Halen album, before it goes into an AC/DC like groove. The vocals of Craig Csongrady on this album are just too much like Joe Elliot, in the same way that Marc Storace from Krokus was too much like Bon Scott.

“Shot Full Of Love” feels like a cut from Babylon AD. “Precious Love” has that “Stand Up” vibe.

“Don’t You Love Me and Leave Me” is an AC/DC song musically, with a bit of The Cult added in vocally and musically.

“Heartbeat Away” is from the Phil Collen produced EP, released in 1988 and “Troubled Child” closes the album, with a Journey like feel musically and a Joe Elliot like vocal.

In the 2019, re-issue, it comes with three songs from the original 1988 EP in “I Believe” (very Journey like), “Hold On” (has a guitar hero solo moment) and “Heartbeat Away” (the Phil Collen produced and the song which set the stone for the album to come a few years after).

And when the album did nothing commercially, the band disappeared along with thousands of other hard rock bands.

But in 2012, they returned with a new album called “Resurrection”. But that’s for another day and another “Australian Method Series” post.

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

The Record Vault – Addendum: Coheed and Cambria – No World For Tomorrow

When I did the previous record vault post for “No World For Tomorrow” I did mention that I didn’t have the CD anymore. So I went searching at the usual local sellers but found one on eBay.

How good is the artwork by Ken Kelly, who also created the artwork for “Love Gun” and “Destroyer” by Kiss.

Here is the Holiday 2007, Guitar World issue and article that got me to commit and check out the music of Coheed and Cambria.

Coming into the “No World For Tomorrow” recording cycle, the band was down to two with drummer Josh Eppard and bassist Michael Todd exiting due to the familiar story of drugs and dysfunctionality within rock and roll bands. Claudio Sanchez and Travis Steer remained. And for the first time, they really collaborated together.

With an uncertain future, the manager of Sanchez put him into contact with two songwriters in Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, and together they came up with a pair of songs for Hollywood. The songs “Running Free” and “The Road And The Damned” were written for the soundtracks of “Transformers” and “Ghost Rider”. But they didn’t get picked. Instead they provided the spark for the album.

“The Running Free” is described as “uplifting with its U2-esque chorus” and it even became the albums leadoff single. Sanchez further mentions that “even though this is a dark album and all hell is about to break loose, there is still hope. At the other side of the tunnel there is a light. And I feel “Running Free” expresses that.”

So Sanchez and Steer decided to keep the band alive. Rick Rubin had just joined Sony/Columbia and he became the album’s A&R supervisor, like how John Kalodner was listed as the same on so many albums in the 80’s and early 90’s.

The band had their previous albums produced by Chris Bittner and Michael Birnbaum, however that relationship turned sour, so Rubin hooked em up with Nick Raskulinecz. Since Raskulinecz worked with Foo Fighters, he brought in Taylor Hawkins to drum. Meanwhile bassist Michael Todd came back into the fold, clean and sober, however he would depart again a few years later after he was arrested for break and enter. The song “Domino The Destitute” from “The Afterman” releases is about Michael Todd.

After the album was done, Chris Pennie from “Dillinger Escape Plan” joined as the permanent drummer. He kept this role for the next album, “Year Of The Black Rainbow” and then was replaced by Eppard, who returned for “The Afterman” releases and he’s been there since.

The guitar riff in “Mother Superior” is now known as the guitar riff, but it was written on a synth/piano first. The whole song was synth heavy until Raskulinecz advised them to make the rhythm guitar progression the main focus. This is what Sanchez said about it, “I wrote the song on synthesizer, but on the finished version, the synth doesn’t show its face until halfway through the second verse. It emulates a Mellotron and has a “Strawberry Fields Forever” vibe. This was one of those songs where I wanted to take it from a different perspective and see how a keyboard could ultimately dictate what I would play on the guitar. So on the finished track, the guitar jumps around, just like the original keyboard part did.

Crank it loud.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Treating Fans Like Shit

Copyright City

Eminem is going after everyone.

Eight Mile Style is Eminem’s publisher and it is going after Spotify first.

The case alleges that Spotify has no license to have the songs on its service, and while the songs have been streamed billions of times, “Spotify has not accounted to Eight Mile or paid Eight Mile for these streams but instead remitted random payments of some sort, which only purport to account for a fraction of those streams.”

A judge now has also cleared the way for Eight Mile to go after the Harry Fox Agency who acts as an intermediary between organizations who secures licenses.

And while Eminem is going legal to be paid monies which only the lawyers will gobble up, other Copyright organizations are buying out other Copyright organizations.

Concord last year spent over $200 million acquiring the Copyrights for songs. Now in April 2021, it’s estimated that Concord has acquired another 145,000 copyrights from Downtown in a deal worth $400 million.

The deal will take Concord’s catalogue of works over 600,000 songs. Included in the deal are works performed by Adele, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, David Bowie, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, Stevie Wonder, and The 1975.

How much of the sale would go back to the original artists and creators remains to be seen, as the artists would have probably gotten a payment from Downtown for their works in the first place.

So imagine the fear these organizations must get when they read about Google’s court case vs Oracle.

You see Google, ‘copied’ 11,000 lines of Oracles software code, and Oracle didn’t like it, so they sued. Google argued it was fair use and after going back and forth in the Courts, it was ruled in Google’s favour because the end use of what the code was used for, was very different for both organizations.

And now the Andy Warhol Foundation is trying to get the Courts to use the Google case verdict in their case against a photographer who took pictures of Prince, which Andy Warhol used to color differently like the Marilyn Monroe and Campbell Soup cans pictures.

This in turn has brought in other heavyweights like the movie, book and music industries as they want the Google verdict to remain within software only and not be brought over into music, movies and publishing.

Because Hollywood lobbyist and music lobbyist oppose everything that could benefit people.

Recently, the WHO got a waiver written into Copyright law which said that all drug manufacturers should share their research and formulas, so that COVID-19 could be defeated and that vaccines could be manufactured by others.

The MPAA and RIAA didn’t like it, but they never clarified what language bothered em.

Then again, when an organization like these have spent their whole life exploiting loopholes in Copyright Law to benefit them and turning black and white areas into grey, they are now afraid of others doing the same, like the thief who has Fort Knox like security on their house.

I guess Copyright City just keeps getting interesting. And nothing mentioned about how the actual creators benefit. And what about the fans.

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