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

June 2020 – Part 1

Beautiful
Bodies For The Bones
Die Trying featuring Shaun Morgan
Sweet Forgiveness
Art of Dying

These songs are from their “Demos and Rarities” lockdown release. I’ve been in and out of love with this band.

“Beautiful” is in the similar vein to their “Vices And Virtues” album in sound and theme. It’s the style I like.

“Bodies For The Bones” is super down tuned for heaviness. I don’t like this style. While the music sits super low which I’m not a fan of, the vocal melodies sit in the upper registry and drive the song.

“Die Trying” is one of my favourite cuts. This one features Shaun Morgan from Seether. Remember them. Seether came onto my radar almost 15 plus year ago when they did a song with Amy from Evanescence for “The Punisher” movie. A ballad called “Broken”.

“If it takes forever I would die trying”

The ethos of a lifer trying to make something from their life, to meet their definition of success and happiness.

And that’s the important element here, it’s your definition, that defines you. Don’t try to fit in to other people’s definitions.

“Sweet Forgiveness” has a haunting acoustic riff.

“Come take me out of here, I’m at the end of my rope, there’s nowhere to go”

There is always somewhere to go. Pick up the phone, talk to someone, catch up for a coffee and keep talking. There is always someone who wants to listen.

Darker Thoughts
Ghosts
Ending Days
Paradise Lost

This one-way street you’re on
You’ll never be fulfilled
And this one way street you’re on
Is gonna get you killed

That vocal melody. It’s haunting.

With inner peace gone, you pray
All those darker thoughts are coming back to stay
With inner peace gone you’ve paid
All those darker thoughts are coming back to stay

And then the violins kick in, over a grinding dirgey riff, while the “Godless are sworn to kill, Annihilation” is barked out.

Let’s chuck in an emotive pentatonic minor lead to finish it off.

On The Run Again
Chrome Division

The way this song starts off with the acoustic delta like blues riff, which morphs into a head banging distortion riff. It’s been played before, it’s been heard before, but I still like it.

Dual (featuring Matt Guillory)
Ultra City
Andy James

Instrumental music at its best.

In the 80’s, it got to a stage where the instrumental songs would be just a power chord and a million notes in the bar. Then another power chord and then another million notes. There was hardly any riffs and it became pretty bland. Because once you’ve heard one artist doing it from Shrapnel, you would have heard em all.

But these days, the instrumental players, write a song first, with awesome riffage and then decorate it with great melodic lead breaks.

Andy James is up there for me, with players like John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, George Lynch, John Sykes, Yngwie Malmsteen and Marty Friedman.

Leave It Alone
Signals Gone
Blacktop Mojo

This band deserves more attention. One of the best hard rock bands out there at the moment.

Far Enough Away
Trapt

They are doing Daughtry better than what Daughtry is doing right now. There is something special about an acoustic guitar, drums, bass and a good vocal melody, with some synth strings thrown in.

Death Diviner
Soilwork

The riff.

A cross between “Schism” from Tool and Soilwork’s signature groove.

Bjorn Strid takes the clean melodic highway on vocals and a classic Soilwork song is born.

That Chorus.

The riff again.

Press play and enjoy.

When All Is Said And Done
Aldo Nova

I didn’t expect this kind of cut from Aldo Nova.

And I like how artists can still surprise me.

This is bluesy, groovy and heavy. If you like the work that Glenn Hughes did with Black Country Communion, then you will like this.

Revelation
Riders Of The Light
Highway To Paradise
Lorelei
From A Whisper To A Scream
Final Hour
Gathering Of Kings

This band’s new take on an old sound is just to my liking. This is album number 2.

“Revelation” sets my mind time machine to 1984/85 and that beautiful melodic rock coming from an excellent band called Y&T.

And if you like tunes like that, then you’ll like this project, a gathering of Nordic musos who want to create.

All Of My Life
The Road
Highway
Between Good And Bad
When She Cries
Mike Tramp

I’ve always enjoyed Mike Tramp’s voice. With the last few solo releases, his lyrics are exceptional and they resonate on this album, “Second Time Around”.

He sold his heart and soul for rock and roll in “All Of My Life”.

He looked ahead on “The Road” that broke him, made him, turned his tears to smiles, brought him home again and the road he never wants to end.

He saw life come and go so fast on a “Highway” as he went for a ride and never looked back, finding love, finding heartache, finding highs and crashing lows.

Loving You Is A Dirty Job
Easy Come Easy Go
Intensity
Lost In The Dark
Back
Victims Of Desire
Built To Please
Passion

Passion covers most of the 80’s/early 90’s sounds and releases from bands.

Kiss. Its covered.

Keel. It’s covered.

Ratt. Its covered.

Steelheart. Its covered.

Skid Row. Its covered.

Hurricane. Its covered.

Winger. It’s covered.

2020
Vandenberg

The whole album is stellar.

It gives me this feeling of when I listened to Bad Company, Rainbow (Dio fronted), Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, Deep Purple (Coverdale/Hughes version), Whitesnake and Black Sabbath (Dio fronted).

Each day is a different favourite.

“Ride Like The Wind” reminds of “Gates Of Babylon” from Rainbow. That’s my favourite today.

Yesterday, it was the Bad Company sounding “Hell and High Water”.

The day before it was the “Bad Boys” sounding “Light Up The Sky”.

Tomorrow it could be “Shout”, which reminds me of “Slow And Easy” on steroids, with a driving beat. Especially that section after the solo, when it’s just drums, and Romero is singing, “Get Up And Shout”. Even “I Love It Loud” comes to mind.

There is the “Fool For Your Loving” inspired “Shitstorm” with a David Coverdale like vocal that has been my go to track.

Or the Richie Blackmore inspired “Shadows Of The Night”.

“Let It Rain” reminds of Bonfire.

And my favourite track “Skyfall” closes the album.

And apart from the excellent riffage and song construction, the lead breaks are superb, song within song moments.

And the band is excellent.

Part 2 coming up.

Standard
Music, My Stories

Musical Culture

Bob Lefsetz interviewEd Bob Ezrin recently on his podcast. 

And Ezrin is a natural talker. He spoke about working in Nashville and having a lot of good session players available to pick from to work on songs. Players with high technical skills who can come in and record effortlessly. And the producers who work in the Nashville Studios, how they come from rock bands like Dan Huff from Giant.

He also spoke about the Swedish School system and how they focus on music and on building a musical culture. It’s probably a big reason why Swedish artists and songwriters are in high demand when it comes to popular music. As a hard rock and metal fan, a lot of the artists I like come from Sweden. 

In Australia and from the readings I have done on the U.S, music is sort of ignored or bypassed by prospective talents, because there is no money in it, unlike the Scandinavian countries who offer governmental support. In Australia, the Government wants all the kids to go to the University degree factories so the kids can then get mindless jobs in the Corporation degree prisons.

But in Sweden, education is free. The Government even pays for after school music programs. Max Martin is one of those people who benefited from this kind of education so you know it goes back a long way.

On top of that, the Swedish Arts Council, gives out a lot of money to acts, concert venues and regional music associations. On top of that, there are grants which artists can apply for to help pay for recording time, tour costs and what not.

The Atlantic article makes mention how in May, 2012, most of the Top 10 Songs on Billboard Hot 100 were written or produced by Swedes.

Also while UK artists are looking at giving up their music career because the Government didn’t care about the Arts sector once COVID-19 took hold, countries like Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are doing the opposite with aid packages. 

A healthy culture thrives when people want it to thrive. I remember when Sydney got the rights to host the Olympic Games in 2000. The Government obviously wanted the nation to put on a good show in all events, so almost immediately, funding went up for all the Olympic Sports, to hire more coaches, build better facilities and increase talent identification. Then funding was made available to provide support to the elite athletes. A new sporting culture was created and it’s been our best Olympics, all because the Government cared enough at that point in time for our sporting culture to thrive. Afterwards, the Government pulled funding and we went back to winning medals for the events we normally win, like swimming. 

The last 15 years has seen Government investment in tech companies and e-commerce, so it’s no surprise that quite a few companies from Australia are doing great things on the world stage in these areas. When someone cares enough, culture thrives.

And fans try their best to care and keep artists alive, but when the fans are doing it tough themselves, it’s hard.

Standard
Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Black Sabbath Additions

Here are some Black Sabbath DVD’s I forgot to include in the original Black Sabbath post. It’s funny that for a band who is seen as influential, my collection of their songs are the Ozzy forgeries on Ozzy releases, which I like and some of the reunion tours they have done in the 90’s.

Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes

This is from the Tony Martin era.

“Dehumanizer” came and went and Tony Iommi needed to get Sabbath rolling again. Geezer Butler remained, Tony Martin came back in and Bobby Rondinelli filled the drum slot.

If you are an EVH, the song, “Evil Eye” from the album is written by Eddie Van Halen, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Tony Martin, but EVH wasn’t credited as Warner Bros Records didn’t allow it, unless they had the release rights.

So on this unlicensed “Masters From The Vaults” DVD , only “I Witness” appears from the “Cross Purposes” album.

It’s also cut down, with only nine of the sixteen songs appearing.

However when this was originally released as an official and licensed VHS box set back in 1995, the set list was much larger.

Inside Black Sabbath – A Masterclass From Tony Iommi

Another “unlicensed” product which made it into legal stores.

How was that possible?

But the labels would tell you that these problems didn’t exist before the internet.

Anyways, this has been spliced together from VHS interviews and footage so the picture quality is not the best. It was released on VHS in 1992 as “Tony Iommi – The Guitar That Drives Black Sabbath”. This 2002 release has a different title, but the cover art is the same.

And it’s all Iommi, using his own examples, to explain how Black Sabbath wrote together. Then again, the YouTube videos he’s done in the last three years are a lot better than this.

Black Sabbath – The Last Supper

Complete garbage and a waste of money.

Then again, if you like to watch interview segments interrupt the live footage then you might like it.

For me, it’s a big no.

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

2000 – Part 3

Covering 1977, 1985 and 2000 releases at the same time, I’ve understood what the term lifer means. There is no safety net, no plan B. It’s music and music only.

In the 1977 reviews there was Michael Schenker and UFO. And here he is again in the 2000’s. In between he’s had it all, lost it all, started to regain it and then got ripped off by ex-partners and managers and family members.

But he’s still here.

UFO – Covenant

Michael Schenker returned, Schenker left, Schenker returned, Schenker left and Schenker returned again. This is UFO without the Chorus hooks from the past, but then again, I never saw UFO as a band who sat around to write big choruses. They just wrote songs for an album. On occasions, fans would make some of those songs big.

This album has a stellar band, in Phil Mogg on vocals, Pete Way on bass, Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Michael Schenker on guitar.

“Love Is Forever” kicks it off, written by Schenker and Phil Mogg. And immediately I am hooked, because the guitar playing of Schenker is in good form.

The second track, “Unraveled” is written by Pete Way and Mogg, but it’s how Schenker plays that riff, which captures me.

All of the other cuts are written by Schenker and Mogg. “Miss the Lights” has a finger plucked octave melodic riff and that section after the solo, it’s only for 20 seconds but its Schenker at his best, playing melodic palm muted arpeggios.

“Midnight Train” has a stomping E minor riff from Schenker and Mogg puts on his Bob Seger hat to deliver a vocal line which stands as one of my favourites.

“Fool’s Gold” shows Schenker’s classical and blues approach in a ballad sense. His chord voicings are classical in nature, but his solo is blues based.

“The Smell of Money” has more of Schenker’s unique playing style. “Cowboy Joe” is such a wrong title for an intro riff that sounds as heavy as “Unholy”. But the song moves between major and minor.

Michael Schenker was also busy as a solo artist. “Michael Schenker – Adventures Of The Imagination” is an instrumental album by Schenker and “Michael Schenker – The Odd Trio” is Michael Schenker playing all the instruments. He created pseudonyms for the bass and drums, known as Harry Cobham and Kathy Brown respectively.

I remember hearing em and moving on.

Poison – Crack A Smile And More
Poison – Power To The People

Poison is an interesting case.

On the backs of MTV and their blend of punk, pop, country and hard rock, they had platinum success for the first three albums.

Then CC left or was fired.

Richie Kotzen came in and the serious “Native Tongue” came out in a climate dominated by grunge artists. But this album wasn’t a glam rock album like the ones before. It was a blues rock album, a shining light in a cacophony of noise on the charts. It was different and the label wanted sales, like before, and the MKII version didn’t last long because Kotzen couldn’t keep his hands off a band members partner. Then again, true love is true love and they are still together.

Then I read that Blues Saraceno was hired for the guitar slot. And I was interested to hear what kind of Poison we will get with Saraceno, because he was doing guitar instructional articles in the various Guitar Mags and this guy knew his stuff, and his instructional articles covered so many different styles. But time went on and on and that album with Saraceno just kept getting delayed. We got a couple tracks on a Greatest Hits album, then CC came back in and they dropped two albums.

“Crack a Smile” began in 1994.

In between there was a motor vehicle accident involving Bret Michaels and a long recovery. Then Capitol Records had lost interest in a new album and wanted to cash in on a “Greatest Hits” album, which was released in 1996.

But the fans wanted it and bootleggers were selling it for a lot, so Capital Records, being astute to see dollars as a label does, released it with additional live tracks and “Face The Hangman” a demo from “Open Up And Say Ahh”.

“Be the One” at track 5 got me interested. It’s one of those bluesy power ballads that Poison do so well. “Sexual Thing” at track 7 is classic Poison, with some killer pedal point riffing from Saraceno. “Lay Your Body Down” is a carbon copy of “Something To Believe In”.

Track 10, “That’s the Way I Like It” sums up my feelings towards the song and Bret Michaels is in full form here, telling the world, that he likes it when a girl goes down on him. “Set It Free” is a bonus track and it’s better than the other tracks, while “Face The Hangman” the outtake from “Open And Say Ahh” is a classic rock track, a bluesy romp.

But I could hear why the label went cold to a new album.

But.

“Power to the People” sees the return of MK1, with five new studio cuts and 12 live tracks from their successful “Greatest Hits” reunion tour.

The title track might have sounds of the Nu Metal movement and some fast spoken verses but its typical Poison, led by a killer riff and a cool balls to the wall vocal line. Plus “the People” in this case is the Poison fan base.

“Can’t Bring Me Down” sounds like “Sweet Home Alabama” with a new sound. And after two songs, CC demonstrates why he works so well with Poison. His riffing is different, accessible and his leads with those little interlude leads between Choruses and Verses are melodic or bluesy in a simple way that it works.

“The Last Song” is probably one of their best songs and no one knows it. The intro lead break from CC is enough to get me interested. Meanwhile “Strange” has this octave melodic riff that CC plays which catches me.

“I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine (with C.C. DeVille on lead vocals) closes off the new studio tracks with probably one of the best “longest titles” that didn’t come from a Meatloaf album. And CC has this punk style voice that reminds me of Hanoi Rocks and their singer Michael Monroe.

And into the time machine for a stop in 1985.

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

The Shed

Progress Is Derivative.

Case in point.

“The Shed” from Rainbow and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” from Lenny Kravitz.

From 1.10, check “The Shed” out, especially the riff and drum pattern behind it. And then play “Are You Gonna Go My Way” from Lenny Kravitz.

So can we conclude that due to these similarities, Blackmore is super original and Kravitz isn’t.

Not a chance.

Kravitz is doing what every artist before has done. Take from your influences, be inspired and do a new take on an old sound.

Because if you want to talk influences or being influenced, when Blackmore starts “The Shed”, for the first 11 seconds, he paraphrased the “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” vocal melody from The Beatles, who took the vocal melody from the A and D blues scales.

And on and on and on it goes, the cycle of influence.

But lawyers are convincing juries and judges that the work of the artist they represent is so super original that anyone else who uses it as influence is copying.

And juries believe it.

“All my life it seems, just a crazy dream”.

The words of Ronnie James Dio in “Light In The Black”. It’s a crazy dream alright when culture is pillaged by corporations (labels, publishing, fund managers who have purchased copyrights, tech services and lawyers) and the heirs of dead artists.

Money first, culture second as the real creators go back to the shed to write some more.

Standard
Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Black Eyed Peas

Released in 2009, I needed to understand what the fuss was all about from the previous albums.

So I dug in with an open mind.

If you take away all the studio “Barbie Doll” effects then “Rock That Body” has a pop rock bass line and a melodic rock vocal line which translates well to a distorted guitar.

“Meet My Halfway” has this Cyndi Lauper soul style chorus which I dig.

“I Gotta Feeling” is a massive song and I’m surprised a metal or rock band haven’t covered it.

“Showdown” will translate well to a rock song.

“Now Generation” has an intro riff that could have come from a Bryan Adams or John Mellencamp album. It’s a cross between pop rock and pop punk.

And the lyrics are brilliant. Rock bands used to write fun lyrics like this and then it got all personal and depressing once grunge came.

I want money, I want it, want it, want it, Fast internet, Stay connected in a jet

Google is my professor, Wikipedia the checker

“One Tribe” has the message to forget about all the evil that people feed ya, because we are one tribe, one people, living on one planet.

And we need this message again and again.

“Rockin To The Beat” has a good beat, a funky bass groove and a synth melody which is catchy.

And while I’m not a fan of super auto tuned vocals, I do understand why they used it, as the voice is used more like an instrument on some songs.

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Copyright Fund

“I don’t really know what it means to choose a hit. I just like writing songs”
Ed Sheeran

And he keeps getting sued for it, because the greedy heirs and greedy lawyers are always looking at sneaky ways to get their slice of the hit machine pie.

“People prefer paintings that they’ve seen before. Audiences like art that gives them the jolt of meaning that often comes from an inkling of recognition.”
From the book, “Hit Makers” by Derek Thomspon

Everything that we listen to or watch or read has come before. Its similar with small changes here and there.

That’s how it works.

It’s unsettling how the heirs, along with their lawyers, spin the story that the works of the dead creators is super original and free from influence.

Which is a load of BS.

Because;

“In 2012, Spanish researchers released a study that looked at 464,411 popular recordings around the world between 1955 and 2010 and found the difference between new hits and old hits wasn’t more complicated chord structures. Instead, it was new instrumentation bringing a fresh sound to “common harmonic progressions.”
From the book, “Hit Makers” by Derek Thomspon

A new take on an old sound.

Copyright needs to expire on death.

Once the creator is dead, the copyright ends. Copyright wasn’t created to benefit the heirs of the creator or a manager or a corporation or anyone else except the creator so they could create even more while holding an interim monopoly.

That’s it, problem solved.

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

The Record Vault – Brother Cane

They got no press in Australia.

I read about the debut album in Metal Edge and it got me interested in the band. But at the time I didn’t purchase anything. Then “Seeds” came out in 1995 and a few years later, I purchased.

For those who don’t know, Damon Johnson is on lead vocals and guitar. After Brother Cane he did some time with Alice Cooper and the Thin Lizzy version which morphed into Black Star Riders. Plus he had a side project with Scott Rockenfield from Queensryche, which I can’t remember the name of.

And on “Seeds”, nine of the songs are written by Johnson and Marti Frederiksen, who also produced it. And for those who don’t know, Frederiksen would go on in a few years to co-write with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on the “Nine Lives” and “Just Push Play” albums, along with working with Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and a range of pop artists who had chart success.

Talent always finds talent.

“And Fools Shine On” stood out straight away to me because of the song title, which reminded me of “All The Fools Sailed Away” from Dio.

So I pressed play on that song first and became a fan.

The music is a cross between everything I like, rooted in hard rock but sounding alternative with a vocal line delivered in the style of Cornell and Staley in the verses and a Dio like vocal in the Chorus.

“Breadmaker” has a head banging riff in the verses. “Rise On Water” has a verse riff and melody that hooks me in. “20/20 Faith” has that big “When The Levee Breaks” riff, which even if I hear it a million times, I’ll still like it.

“Bad Seeds” is another great track and that lyrical line of “Bad seeds in my head”. “Stain” is one of those blues rock tunes that could have come from a Bad Company or UFO album.

“Intempted” sounds familiar but I can’t think of which song and I like that familiarity. And “High Speed Freezin” closes the album with its blues fusion vibe.

And I’m in a Brother Cane mood, so off to Spotify I go, to hear the rest of their catalogue.

Standard
Influenced, Music, My Stories

Spin Review

I always like reading reviews and different people’s takes on new albums from artists.

In this Spin Review from August 1989, the reviewer decided its good practice to group, “In Your Face” from Kingdom Come (on Polydor), Blue Murder’s self-titled debut (on Geffen) and Badlands self-titled debut (on Atlantic). He’s probably thinking, why waste print space on three separate reviews when he can do it quicker with one review and have some fun with it.

So here we go with a Spin Review from Jon Young in italics.

“Sales figures suggest otherwise but heavy metal can be as quaint as doo wop or rockabilly. The endless shouting about loose ladies and glories of the road, punctuated by sweaty guitars, recalls a more innocent era, especially after the revisionist antics of Metallica and other killjoys.

Which probably matters not a whit to the innocent, hard-working dudes of Kingdom Come, Blue Murder and Badlands. They’re too busy pursuing “the blazing heart of rock and roll” (to quote KC’s Lenny Wolf).”

Things changed by 1989.

The reviewers of music had been exposed to so many records from “so many similar” sounding bands, that everything would have sounded the same to them. And their reviews started to reflect the sameness in a scathing way. Then again, controversy always got people’s attention, so maybe it was their way to get some traction.

Also this review mentions the revisionist antics of Metallica, who had a line of journalists eager to rewrite music history on their behalf and claim that every album from Metallica swept all that came before and led the way for so many different styles of music, when in fact, the first two albums “Kill Em All” and “Ride The Lightning” had a cult following but were ignored by the larger music buying public. It took the Ozzman to take em on tour for the “Master Of Puppets” album for them to begin commence their crossover.

“Ridiculed last year for the Led Zeppelin fixation, Kingdom Come seizes he moment to refute the doubters on their sophomore effort; “In Your Face” kicks off with “Do You Like It”, a churning rave up totally unlike Zep. It’s also the dullest cut of the bunch.

After this bold departure we’re happily back to the sincerest form of flattery, as Lenny Wolf portrays Robert Plant to a fare-thee-well, expertly replication his idol’s sighs, moans and grunt.

If only he had some flair – you need real style to sing convincingly about lemon squeezes and big legged woman, after all. His bandmates lack the chops to follow suit, contenting themselves with generic plodding. When lead guitarist Danny Stag finally summons up the nerve to try a Pagesque solo on “Perfect O”, you’ll want to have a copy of “Houses Of The Holy” handy as an antidote.”

The Wolfster might have glanced his eyeballs over this review, because he fired his whole band soon after, to replace them with German musicians. Or maybe it was a move for money’s sake as Lenny Wolf was the one who got the recording contract.

“At least Kingdom Come has a vision, albeit an unoriginal one.

The aimless Blue Murder exudes the unmistakable aroma of instant disaster. Decked out in swashbuckler gear from Adam Ant’s rummage sale, stone-faced vets John Sykes (Whitesnake), Tony Franklin (The Firm) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, etc) raise a ruckus to little effect.

Blame front man Sykes, who tries to touch every base imaginable and ends up nowhere. A shrill vocalist and hyperactive guitarist, he ranges from thudding sword and sorcery epics reminiscent of Rainbow (“Valley Of The Kings”) to bloated pop tailored for airplay in hell (“Jelly Roll”).

Sykes hits a ghastly pinnacle of sorts on the weepy “Out Of Love”, seven minutes of aggressive self-pity guaranteed to inspire fond thoughts of Steve Perry and Journey.

No about these gents will move on to more rewarding gigs, Appice remains a sharp drummer, though he looks too old for this nonsense and hide Blue Murder at the bottom of the resume.”

The pirate look was a massive screw up for Blue Murder. It was so out of touch with everything. Even Dio, who was sort of into that black clothed sorcerer look, was moving towards street clothing, which Guns N Roses and Motley started with “Appetite” and “Girls”. I agree with the review that the sound was big and bloated, and that is where our agreeance ends. The debut album was exactly what my ear drums needed.

“The Badlands boys make a show of their own inauspicious trappings; they’ve got a lame motto (“Feels so Good to be so Bad”) and singer Ray Gillen claims credit for blues harp. I doubt the guy ever studied with James Cotton.

Well, shut my mouth, cause their self-titled debut is hot stuff.

Led by guitarist Jake E.Lee, who paid dues with Ozzy Osbourne, the lads turn the usual ingredients into big, beaty entertainment, part stomping metal and part belch-rock in the spirt of early Bad Company. “Dreams In The Dark” and “Seasons” qualify for actual tunes, not just inflated riffs and Lee adds welcome shades of color here and there, augmenting the electric guitars with dobro, sitar, mandolin and other exotica.

A genuinely inventive guitarist, he really makes his strings talk on the struttin, “Rumblin’ Train” and the rip-snortin’ “Dancing On The Edge”.

After the muddled clichés of their peers, Badlands’ clean attack is inviting. There’s more constructive sounds around, but never underestimate the pleasures of good trash. Now ‘scuse me while I boogie one time.”

The Badlands debut is a killer debut. There isn’t a bad song on it, except for the egos, which Eric Singer more or less alluded to when he left because the band environment wasn’t to his liking.

And it (along with Voodoo Highway) will never be on a streaming service as the Atlantic Reps have killed it, due to the daughter of one of their contracting the HIV virus from Ray Gillen.

But since Jake E. Lee is on Frontiers, expect a re-recording to happen as Frontiers President Serafino Perugino, is trying to get all the artists on his roster to re-record their best songs (especially the artists who made it big during the 70’s and 80s) so Frontiers can lock up these versions for at least another 100 years under Copyright.

And for the record, all three records are excellent.

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

1977 – Part 2

Here we are in 1977, for another set of albums that I had heard well into the 90’s. But, I did hear the single cuts that got played on radio or on music video programs.

UFO – Lights Out

Produced by Ron Nevison.

“Too Hot To Handle” is probably why Bad Company started to wane a little bit commercially, as UFO was doing Bad Company better than Bad Company was. Plus UFO had Michael Schenker on guitars, who at the time was the talk of the town, and revered as a “Guitar God”.

If you need any evidence, check out “Try Me”, which has one of Schenker’s best solos ever committed to tape. You need to stick with it, as it comes in the last 90 seconds of the song.

“Lights Out” inspired another classic track which I like in “More Than A Man” from Stryper. Both are F#m grooves and they both have a similar feel. Credit Pete Way for that F#m bass groove which inspired a generation.

“Gettin’ Ready” is pure Bad Company and a very underrated track. “Alone Again” has this “Paint It Black” vibe merged with The Beatles merged with ELO, and it’s cool how UFO covered it.

“Electric Phase” came from well of Joe Walsh and Mountain. That intro riff and the slide guitar in the verses from Schenker are brilliant.

“Love To Love” is one of Steve Harris’s favourite tracks. Europe also covered it for an acoustic album. Michael Schenker even used the guitar riff as the main riff for “Desert Song” which I used to called “Dessert Song” once upon a time.

And “Lights Out” is one of my favourite albums from the UFO era.

Kiss – Love Gun

Produced by Eddie Kramer.

How good is the cover from Ken Kelly?

Kelly’s artwork also graced a few other albums I am in possession of, like, the “Destroyer” album from Kiss, “Rising” from Rainbow, every Manowar album between 1997 and 2007 (which comes to 5 albums in 20 years) and in 2014, it came full circle for Kelly as he did the “Space Invader” artwork for Ace Frehley.

And how good is the riff to kick off “I Stole Your Love”?

And it as a derivative version “Burn” from Deep Purple. I guess you can’t keep a good riff down.

“I remember the day that we met, I needed someone, you needed someone too”.

How good is that lyric about life and our need to connect?

“Christine Sixteen” shows how far society has changed. In 1977, it was okay to sing lyrics like these and in 2020 it’s an arrestable offence. Hell, what would Elvis Presley be classed as today, with his shenanigans with Priscila.

“Shock Me” reminds me of “All Right Now” from Free. “Tomorrow And Tonight” has this “BACK In the USSR” feel as it stomps its way through a twelve bar blues rock full of backing singers and honky tonk piano.

“Love Gun” kicks off side 2 and what a song. And if you’ve read “Face The Music” from Paul Stanley, he goes into detail how music is a sum of our influences, as he mentions a few of em for “Love Gun”.

The small solo at the end of “Hooligan” from 2:39 with Peter Criss singing “Ain’t nobody going to pull me down”. It’s perfect.

The main riff in “Almost Human” is a favourite and if you YouTube “Plaster Casters”, apart from the Kiss song, there is a documentary about a certain “plasterer” called Cynthia.

And for a Kiss fan, 1977 held another release in “Alive II”. From reading some of the interviews, it probably had more involvement and effort than the studio album that came before it. There are songs from a Japan show, a LA show and a NJ show, plus sound check songs and studio songs with various overdubs, involving other musicians plus added crowd noise and what.

In the words of “Austin Powers”, groovy baby. And the first “Alive” release I got into was “Alive III” and then “Alive IV” and they are my favourites.

Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick – In Color

They got a deal in 1976 with Epic Records and by the start of 1977, they dropped their self-titled debut and towards the end of the year, the follow up, “In Color”. At the time, both albums were classed as dud’s, but many, many, many years later (as Commandant Lassard from Police Academy would say), “In Color” is in the list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time from Rolling Stone.

So Jack Douglas produced the debut and Tom Werman produced the second. The productions differ on both albums. The debut is raw hard rock, while the second is more polished courtesy of Tom Werman’s layered production. And while the second album didn’t really do much in the U.S, in the place of the rising sun, it made the band superstars. They took their British influences, Americanised em and off they went.

The debut is a cross between punk rock, a bit of new wave which was still in its infancy around the world and rock and roll with blues, sixties pop and hard rock influences. In the 80’s, “Hanoi Rocks” reminded me of early Cheap Trick.

From the debut album, “ELO Kiddies” has a cool Chorus riff. “Taxman, Mr Thief” has an excellent guitar riff, a top vocal performance by Robin Zander and lyrical themes of working hard only for the taxman to get ya. Plus a pretty obvious lyrical influence from The Beatles song called “Taxman”.

“You worked hard and slaved and slaved for years, break your back sweat a lot, well, it’s just not fair”

“Oh, Candy” is a preview of the melodicism to come in the future. “He’s A Whore” is influential. The Ramones borrowed a riff from it, and the blueprint of Foo Fighters can be found in these early Cheap Trick albums. “The Ballad Of TV Violence” shows its nod to “Come Together” from The Beatles which is a nod to another song from Chuck Berry.

On the second album, “Hello There” is over as soon as it began, with an awesome melodic ending which should have gone longer. “Big Eyes” has this interlude riff which becomes the backing riff for the solo section, which I dig. “Downed” has this chorus that inspired some of the songs on “Generation Swine” from Motley Crue.

“I Want You To Want Me” has that “Radar Love” style drum pattern, and an undeniable melodic line, which merges the best of The Beatles into a hard rock ditty.

“You’re All Talk” came from the Mississippi Delta and the Texas Ranges, with its combination of blues and ZZ Top blues boogie. And if you listen closely to the verse riff, you will hear some ideas and concepts that would have inspired a young EVH to end up writing the classic “Hot For Teacher” verse riff.

Bad Company – Burning Sky

Album number 4, which dropped in 1977.

The title track, “Burnin’ Sky” has this pounding beat and that “Wishing Well” vibe from Free in the Chorus. In addition, it’s got a funky bass riff in the Verses, a Mick Ralphs flanged/phased solo and Paul Rodgers wailing away. This track sums up Bad Company to me, with each band members have a place in the song.

“Leaving You” and “Like Water” have good moments, while “Everything I Need” has so many similarities to “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “Louie Louie” and “I Need A Lover”.

See you back in 2000, for part three.

Standard