A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

What’s A Few Million?

I came across an interview from Vince Neil in Faces USA 1993. Post Crue departure, Vince was the man, the centre of attention. Here are some sections in italics.

Faces: It was announced in late 1992, that you were suing Motley Crue for 25 percent of future profits. Why did you instigate this action?

Vince: they’re trying to keep money that is owned to me. I was in the band from the very beginning, and you can’t kick somebody out of something and say ‘goodbye I’ll see you later’. I helped build up the name Motley Crue to sign the $30 million deal, so it was kind of a slap in the face. All I really want is my fair share. Nothing less, nothing more. They’re saying, “No! No! You can’t have anything because you’re not in the band anymore.” So it’s time for the lawyers to decide. It’s like they tried to throw me out on the streets. I’ve got a family to support.

Faces: What surprised you the most about the reception you received upon your departure from Motley Crue?

Vince: How quickly I was accepted. A lot of the labels had faith in me. I had a lot of different labels that were interested. It was a really exciting process, walking in there and talking with the different companies, like the heads of Geffen and Giant and Epic.

All these corporate presidents were like “Come on, come and be with us.”

I sat in with Mo Ostin at Warner Brothers and all these dudes and I felt so much power in the room. When I made the deal, went “Okay, give me the money I want and a Warner Bros jacket with Bugs Bunny on it and I will sign the deal.”

I went with a Warner Brothers basically because they gave me the money I wanted and the security of being on the Warner’s label.

Faces: Can you tell us what the deal was?

Vince: Eighteen million dollars for 5 records.

Think about the sums.

Motley Crue signed a 5 album deal with Elektra worth $35 million and the singer who wasn’t even the main songwriter then goes and signs a solo deal with Warner Bros for $18 million and 5 albums. It goes to show the value the record label boss Mo Ostin attached to Vince Neil as a marketable product.

And to be honest, the “Exposed” album is a great slab of hard rock during a time when hard rock albums started to disappear from the record store shelves.

But in music, these long term deals very rarely are seen to the end. Two years later in 1995, Vince was no longer accepted, and he had no record deal and no management after “Carved In Stone” disappointed commercially.

The person who signed him, Mo Ostin left Warner Bros in 1994, so it’s safe to say the new team, didn’t really like some of the signings that the old team did.

Even Motley Crue didn’t see the end of their Elektra deal. The people who negotiated the Motley deal in 1992, were no longer at Elektra by 1995 and the new Elektra management team didn’t really care for Motley. All they cared about was the bottom line and Nikki Sixx constantly called out current Elektra boss, Sylvia Rhodes at the groups concerts, even calling her from the stage, so the crowd could tell her to fuck off.

So what’s a few million when bands make the labels multi-millions.

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

Kingcrow

I’ve been listening to the song, “Perfectly Imperfect” on repeat today.

It’s from a band called Kingcrow.

Who, you say?

Exactly, who.

It’s a symptom of the times we live in, where the artists we listen too are unknown and yet their music is connecting on so many levels.

Their new album “The Persistence” came out last week. I didn’t know it came out, I wasn’t a fan, until the title track came up on my Spotify Discover playlist.

And I was interested.

So I called up the album and I started to listen. After track two, I was hooked. You know on some albums, you skip songs, well I didn’t skip any. Now I’m a fan.

And then I came up to the last song, “Perfectly Imperfect”, on my drive home from work.

As soon as the piano chords started I was transfixed. I was driving, I knew what I was doing and yet I was somewhere else. The vocals started at about the 36 second mark.

Won’t let you down
In this silence
Won’t let you blame only yourself
Again

Emotion drips off each melody note.

Then an arpeggiated guitar line comes in from about the minute mark.

Won’t let you down
In this moment
Won’t let you bear this weight alone
Today

Then the drums come in at about the minute-thirty eight second mark with tremolo style distorted chords shimmering in the background, while another guitar line is playing a bendy lick with some digital delay. It all feels like your in nature, with the mountain right in front of you.

Yes, problems are so real
Please give us a chance
Cause let me say it clear
We feel the same way

We’ll take the fall and rise, you know
We’ll take the fall and rise

Then at 2.26 it starts this piano melody that the drummer follows with the middle of the ride cymbal. And you know it’s leading somewhere.

Actually from the start, the song just kept on building with little bits of emotion each time, so when the Chorus comes in from 2.48, it’s soaring, emotive and uplifting at the same time.

Time to go
Two perfectly imperfect
As we are
Time to take this chance

That last section from 3.30 to the end, takes the emotive feel up to 11 and when that octave guitar melody from about 3.55 kicks in, it’s cranked to 12. Add to that the super drumming and the way the fills happen at the end of each 4 bar loop is brilliant.

Who but you
Who but me
Can do it now?
Who can do so?

As soon as I parked the car in the garage, I couldn’t even remember getting there.

So I pressed repeat and listened to the song one more time, in the car. That’s the power of a song. Take the time and give it a listen.

And for Kingcrow, the embryo of the band began in 1996 in Rome, Italy. Yes, they are Italian, and yes, the Italians can create great music, however there are so many people living in bubbles who only believe the best music comes from the US or the UK.

Right now, I’m back tracking their previous releases on Spotify, in the same way I started to seek out earlier Whitesnake and John Sykes albums after the 1987 album infected me.

And if you want to read a review I totally agree with, check it out here.

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

1979 – III

1979 was a year of transition. While some bands were on their last legs, some were just starting to find their own.

Led Zeppelin were coming to an end while Thin Lizzy was on the ascendancy. The Scorpions had bigger things waiting with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Winds Of Change” while Fleetwood Mac and Bad Company delivered stellar albums that unfortunately got compared to their previous mega gazillion selling albums.

Aerosmith became a shell of the band they were with “Night In The Ruts”, while Motorhead after a few up’s and downs with record label crap, got lumped in with the NWOBHM movement starting off and started their brief commercial rise.

Uli John Roth left Scorpions and created Electric Sun, but in all honesty he should of stayed with Scorpions, while a supergroup of “musicians who all had small record deals” got together and called themselves Survivor. “Eye Of The Tiger” was a few years away, but you get to hear a band allowing their influences to shape their sound.

Basically, all the bands on this list just kept on creating, regardless of their status on the record label commercial tree. Because that’s why people get into music, to create. Not because copyright terms are forever or because some label said I will give you money to create.

Here is the playlist.

Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door

For me, Jimmy Page is the main songwriter in Led Zep, much the same way, James Hetfield is the main songwriter in Metallica. And when the main songwriters goes missing, the final output is not so good. Case in point, Metallica and “St Anger” and Led Zeppelin’s “In Through The Out Door”. In Zeps case, Jimmy Page was battling heroin addiction and was totally unreliable.

Wikipedia tells me that the album is a reflection of the personal turmoil that the band members had been going through before and during its recording. Frontman Robert Plant and his wife had gone through a serious car accident, and their young son, Karac Plant, died from a stomach illness. All four band members also felt weary of dealing with record companies and other associates. Jimmy Page was strung out on heroin and John Bonham on booze.

The story and drama behind the album makes you want to listen to it and to find something to like.

In The Evening

The Middle Eastern influences kick off the song and it’s enough to hook me in. And when the whole band comes in, Page keeps it simple, outlining the synth chords with a repeating guitar line.

Then at 4.28 it changes to a ballad, which is cool because 8 albums in, Led Zep is still trying to be progressive with their song structures, before ramping it back up around the 5 minute mark.

Fool In The Rain

The song could do with some editing, but then again, when the bands controlled the music they produced without any record label interference, this is what normally happens. A band rolls the tap, feels the groove, jams out a song and suddenly it’s on the vinyl.

I wasn’t sure if I was listening to Phil Collins or Led Zep. The beauty of Zep was the many different styles of music they incorporated, without being accused of selling out.

Carouselambra

The synth riff that kicks off the song is epic. No wonder, EVH was so keen to incorporate the synth into Van Halen. As a guitarist, you can make simple guitar riffs, sound really complex on the synth. Not too sure what Plant is singing but the music is enough to make me like it.

There is a cool section from about 3.30 to 4.30 which is progressive and so far removed from the mainstream. But at 10.32, the song could also have been edited down.

All My Love

I dug this song from the first time I heard it. It’s written by Plant and Jones and the vibe/groove of the song connects from the beginning.

And man, that vocal line from Plant is emotive as he references his loss in the same way Clapton did in “Tears In Heaven”.

Scorpions – Lovedrive

If Zeppelin, Metallica, Jovi, Acca, Motley and so many other bands have their whole collection on Spotify why can’t the Scorpions be on it. I kid you not, most of their big albums are not on Spotify Australia (it’s maybe on Spotify in other parts of the world, but us Aussie’s still have to deal with geo-restrictions).

From memory, I really enjoyed the two Michael Schenker co-writes in “Coast To Coast” and “Holiday”.

Out of sight equals out of mind. Eventually people will just move on to something else.

Like Thin Lizzy.

Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend

This was album number 9 for the Lizzy. I didn’t end up hearing this until well into the 90’s and the only reason why I picked it up at a record fair was because Gary Moore stayed in the band long enough to record. In saying that, it didn’t take long for Moore to walk out on the band in the middle of another tour, like how he did in 74 and 77.

My first Lizzy album was “Thunder and Lightning” because it had Sykes on it, and again this purchase was a few years after the 87 album blew up all over the world.

Do Anything You Want To

The drum and bass intro was enough to get me going and when the harmony guitars kicked in, I was sold. It’s written by Phil Lynott and man, he can write a good lyric.

There are people that will investigate you
They’ll insinuate, intimidate and complicate you

Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in and that everybody else is too busy betraying you so they can get ahead.

You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong what I’m saying, it’s true

It’s the same war cry as the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” war cry from the mid 80’s.

People that despise you
Will analyse then criticise you
They’ll scandalise and tell lies until they realise you
Are somebody they should’ve apologised to
Don’t let these people compromise you

I like to hang with people, talk about things we like and exchange ideas. And sometimes I listen to people who don’t have a clue about anything and they just won’t shut up. And then there are people who know everything and they just won’t shut up. And in amongst these groups are people who want to break you, spread lies about you, criticise you or shake you down.

Hey you
You’re not that puppet on a string
You can do everything
It’s true

But a lot of people don’t believe they can. Culture and society fosters a fixed mindset and after so many years of being conditioned to follow, it’s hard to believe that you are able to lead.

Elvis is dead
The king of rock and roll is dead

It’s fitting that the song ends with these words as Elvis’s death was still fresh in 1979. And it’s fitting it ends with him, because in the end he did what he wanted. He sang black man music when he was told not to sing it. He danced and moved in a provocative way when he was told not to. He went into movies when he was told to stick with music. He stopped making movies and went back to music when he was told to stick with movies. He did a Vegas residency when he was told to go on tour. The king of rock and roll did what he wanted to do.

Toughest Street In Town

It’s written by Scott Gorham, Lynott and Gary Moore.

Outside the window the neon flashes
In the morning light
Down on the sidewalk there’s a woman with a problem
But she don’t know how to fight
She’s destitute and broken down
She softly whispers, is there no one around
And no one hears the sound
Her knees give way and hit the ground
This is the toughest street in town

Growing up in the 80’s, there was no internet. We lived apart and you knew the people in the street, in the town and maybe some other people in another town. Long distance phone calls were expensive and people sent letters to relatives in Europe.

A lot of us felt there was something bigger, more exciting out there, so we wanted out. And then we had peers who were more than happy to sell narcotics or work in the steel mill.

But the streets were tough.

Tough in the sense, that people would bash you just for the sake of bashing you as new immigrants adjust to life in a new world, with different cultures. But everyone got on as everyone had jobs.

Then when the banks and the copper mill started closing, the drug dealers and hookers moved into the main street. Suddenly, you had a seedy side. And the drug dealers brought with them all the addicts from every nearby town, who would urinate and defecate in front of shop doors, pass out in parks, break into houses and just be general troublemakers. And suddenly we had homeless people in the street and suddenly we had homeless people dying.

It’s just another black spot
Where far too many people have died
It’s just another graveyard
And there’s not too many people left alive

It was a black spot, but the place is being re-born. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. It’s location is excellent and it has one of the best beaches in NSW.

Waiting For An Alibi

Another Lynott composition that kicks off with a funky bass line and some cool harmony guitar lines.

Valentino’s in a cold sweat
Placed all his money on that last bet
Against all the odds, he smokes another cigarette
Says that it helps him to forget he’s a nervous wreck

Before “Cold Sweat” there was “Waiting For An Alibi”. Lynott loved to spin a tale about gambling. Of course the music is totally different. While “Cold Sweat” was a metal gem, “Waiting For An Alibi” is like a funk rock song.

Got To Give It Up

This one is written by Gorham and Lynott and I like the way it starts, with a simple strum of a chord and the chorus vocal line. Then when the distorted guitars kick in, how can you not play air guitar.

Tell my mama and tell my pa
That their fine young son didn’t get far
He made it to the end of a bottle
Sitting in a sleazy bar

He’s singing from experience. It’s about himself, but he’s spinning a story around it.

I’ve got to give it up
I’ve got to give it up
That stuff

He knows he’s got to quit but he cant. The people around him, will not let him.

I’ve been messing with the heavy stuff
For a time I couldn’t get enough
But I’m waking up and it’s wearing off
Junk don’t take you far

It didn’t take him far. It was only a matter of time before the junk creeped up and took him out.

And how good is that outro lead break.

Get Out Of Here

This one is written by Lynott and Ultravox vocalist, Midge Ure.

I used to be a dreamer
But I realise that it’s not my style at all
In fact it becomes clearer
That a dreamer doesn’t stand a chance at all

Get out of here
Get out of here

We all wanted to leave our towns behind and head for the bright lights in the city. These days, kids don’t want to leave home. They are comfortable and comfort is a problem.

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

“Rumours” sold 10 million copies.

So how do you follow it up?

Easy.

You rack up production costs of a million and release a double album which is totally different to “Rumours”. In the process you sell 4 million copies of it and you are regarded as a commercial failure by the label.

The label then comes out to say, “we told them they were crazy for trying to push a double album” as the business was in decline and a few artists were propping up the labels. But the bands had the power in this era, and Fleetwood Mac, like Pink Floyd, did whatever they wanted and the label suits had to follow. This of course changed when the labels created MTV and it shifted power into the labels hands.

To me, it’s the Stevie Nicks tracks that connect.

“Sara” has a piano riff which is repeated all the way throughout the song. “Sisters of the Moon” has a chorus riff which is simple, but addictive. Buckingham is a veteran of colouring the tracks and if you don’t believe me, check out the minute or so outro of the song. It’s emotive and a delight to listen to.

“Tusk” is the other track I like written by Lindsey Buckingham and it’s the drum groove that connects with me. Most pop music today is built around simple drum grooves.

Bad Company – Desolation Angels

This album I didn’t hear until I purchased it from a record fair in the 2000’s.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

A Paul Rodgers cut. I never heard the album when it came out, but I do recall reading how Bad Company had been written off and then bang, they came out firing with a modern sound and a catchy song.

I love the music and I love to see the crowd
Dancing in the aisles and singing out loud, yeah

Rock N Roll music became an escape from the daily grind of life. The people attended the shows and the acts lapped it up. And rock and roll grooved, like this song.

Crazy Circles

While Led Zeppelin morphed into a band with synths in 1979, Paul Rodgers channelled his own Zep spirits and recreated what Zep might have sounded like if they stayed within their roots.

Life is like
A merry go round
Painted horses
Riding up and down
Music takes you
And you’re gone again
Crazy circles never seem to end

Damn right. Music takes you on so many emotive rides. We went to the show to connect. Our memento was the ticket stub and maybe a t-shirt, which once upon a time could only be gotten on tour. Now people go to the show, to say there were there and to film it (like they are going to watch it back later).

Life is like
A game of chance
Some find riches
And some romance
Some find happiness
And some find sorrow
Some find it today
And some maybe tomorrow

Life it a nutshell. Each day is a game of chance. Well it’s meant to be. Maybe, we are too comfortable and in routine that we have forgotten to take chances.

Life is like
A carousel
You aim for heaven
And you wind up in hell
To all the world
You’re livin’ like a king
But you’re just a puppet
On a broken string

So true. How many of us crash and burn trying to be someone we’re not.

Gone, Gone, Gone

Boz Burrell wrote this tune about his baby leaving him, and it’s got a nice distorted bluesy riff underpinning it.

And the beauty of the album so far is that each track sounds different from the one that came before it.

Evil Wind

Paul Rodgers is now channelling what Santana should sound like. The first 4 songs are a knock-out punch combo.

I’ve been gone such a long time,
I never thought I would return,
Now I found myself standing in the rain,
Waiting for your key to turn, yeah, yeah.

You been on the road for so long, it’s not the same when you get home. People have moved on. Once you stop being around, you start to disappear.

Evil wind, passed me by,
Troubled waters, pay me no mind.

You’ve gone through a difficult situation to return home only to find the situation is even more difficult.

I have crossed the waters
That will keep them miles apart,
Now I know the time has come
To make a brand new start.

Acceptance of the situation and acknowledging it’s time to move on.

Aerosmith – Night in the Ruts

It was meant to be called “Off Your Rocker”.

It’s another album I heard well into the early 2000’s. It’s pretty poor to be honest. Joe Perry left midway through the recording, Steve Tyler struggled to complete lyrics and vocals due to his drug use. The label was putting pressure on them to write “another hit”. The band had blown their money up their noises and in order to generate more budget, they went on a tour while the album was half-finished, which led to crap performances and eventually Perry’s departure.

And you can tell that Tyler had nothing to offer.

“Remember (Walking in the Sand)” has a 12/8 groove that hooks me. The credits tell me it’s written by Shadow Morton and to be honest, I still haven’t researched who Shadow is.

“Bone to Bone (Coney Island White Fish Boy)” is a Tyler/Perry cut about a used rubber.

“Mia” is a Tyler piano song.

Motorhead – On Parole
Motorhead – Bomber
Motorhead – Overkill

All of these albums I heard well into the 2000’s. I was actually inspired to check em out, after seeing a Motorhead documentary on “Behind The Music” and the “Classic Albums” documentary on “Ace Of Spades”.

Overkill

After so many false starts, Motorhead finally started rolling with album number 2.  Lars Ulrich credits this song as his first introduction to double bass drumming.

Know your body’s made to move
Feel it in your guts
Rock ‘N’ Roll ain’t worth the name
If it don’t make you strut

All of the 70’s acts started off playing rock and roll/blues covers and somehow they ended up as metallers.

And how good is that outro for the last 30 seconds.

No Class

Shut up, you talk too loud
You don’t fit in with the crowd
I can’t believe you exist
I’ve crossed you right of my list

Lemmy wrote brilliant lyrics. Sometimes I marvelled at how simple, but effective they are. Check out his lyrics for some of the songs on Ozzy’s “No More Tears” album.

Tear Ya Down

I was talking to you all night long
Every line was a favourite song

Who hasn’t done that before?

Trying to pick up by quoting lines from the songs that you knew.

Too Late Too Late

It’s a bonus track.

Did someone say “Paranoid”?

Your credibility
Don’t cut no ice with me
You’re just a feeble con
I know what’s goin on

By 1979, The Lemster had skin in the game with more than a decade of trying to make it. He’s come across untrustworthy business people, especially those associated with the record labels or the live venues.

From Bomber

Album number 3 with a producer high on smack.

Poison

It’s about how Lemmy’s father left him and his mother.

He was poison
I wish my mother wasn’t his wife

Abandonment with our metal and hard rock heroes is real. Is this one of the main motivators to keep driving people to make it?

Stone Dead Forever

You’re a financial wizard, a top tycoon
A sweet lounge lizard, with a silver spoon
You know you never had it quite so good
Cos you didn’t know that you even could
But the time has come to pay
Turns out to have been a play
Whatever happened to your life?
Stone dead forever

It doesn’t matter what you have or all the wealth you have. You will die. It’s simple.

The Watcher

It’s basically a 60’s blues rock song and it’s originally from “On Parole” however it also appeared on the debut self-titled album.

“On Parole” was meant to be their first album but the label at the time United Artists didn’t like it and shelved it until December 1979 after the band had broken through with “Overkill” and “Bomber” released the same year on a different label.

Human greed destroys your sphere
And there’s no room for you out here

Electric Sun – Earthquake

Uli John Roth knew he was a good guitar player. The people around him, told him, so it was no surprise he left Scorpions and went solo. However, writing great songs that crossover and connect to a wider audience is another matter. But writing songs that would influence thousands of other guitarists, well, that’s what Uli John Roth is good at.

Sundown

Cough, “All Along The Watchtower” cough, cough, choke, choke. Still, it’s a great listen and a nod to Dylan and Hendrix’s re-interpretation of Dylan’s song.

I guess he loved Hendrix so much, he was even involved with Hendrix’s girlfriend Monika Dannemann who unfortunately was found dead in a fume filled Mercedes Benz in 1996.

Winterdays

It’s a cool instrumental.

Survivor – Survivor

Check out the production team on Survivor’s debut album.

The producer is Ron Nevison. The engineer is Bruce Fairbairn. The assistant engineer is Mike Clink and one of the mixers assiting Fairbairn is Bob Rock. Every single one of them would go on to produce multi-platinum albums in the 80’s and early 90’s. And overseeing the whole thing is John Kalodner.

For those who don’t know, Ron Nevison produced the “Bad Animals” Heart album, Damn Yankees, Ozzy’s “The Ultimate Sin” and “Crazy Nights” from Kiss.

Bruce Fairbairn did “Slippery When Wet”, “New Jersey”, “Pump” and “Permanent Vacation” along with all of the Loverboy stuff.

Bob Rock did “Dr Feelgood” and the “Metallica” black album, while Mike Clink did “Appetite For Destruction” and “Rust In Peace” by Megadeth.

I remember reading a story in a newspaper after the Rocky IV movie came about and the guys in the band at the time talked about its origins and I was like, wow, this band is like a super group of artists who all had recording contracts with different bands on smaller labels who just couldn’t find their audience.

So what you hear on the debut album, is a band, finding their feet and letting music from their peers influence their sound and song writing.

The opening track “Somewhere in America” is written by Jim Peterik and man it sounds so similar to “Hurts So Good” from John Cougar Mellencamp and “Hurts So Good” sounds so similar to nearly every 12 bar blues boogie that came before it.

I need a teacher who can use a pet
Give me a lesson in etiquette
If there is anyone who’d like to try
Maybe she’d like to come and teach me tonight

Are lyrics like this still acceptable today?

With so many movements, and with everyone having a voice via social media, people are too scared to voice an opinion in case they get vilified.

One more other thing worth mentioning here is that Jim Peterik would always talk to a “lawyer” if a song came out that sounded similar to something he wrote, but for some reason it was okay for him to write songs similar to what somebody else wrote. Me personally, I have no issue if songs sound similar, because most of them do. “Somewhere in America” and “Hurts So Good” are similar but one doesn’t take away the glory from the other.

There is a song that Survivor wrote or Jim Peterik wrote called “Is This Love” from 1986 that had a line “Is this love that I am feeling” and there is another little unknown song called “Is This Love” from Whitesnake that came out in 1987 which has a similar line. Jim Peterik went to talk to a lawyer, because according to Jim, he was the only one ever in the history of the world to have thought of that lyric line. But the fact that Bob Marly had a lyric line, “is this love that I’m feeling” in the 70’s is irrelevant. The fact that the term “is this love that I am feeling” appeared in novels since people started writing books is irrelevant.

Breathe. Relax. Move on.

“Can’t Getcha Offa My Mind” is track 2 and it’s written by  Peterik and Frankie Sullivan with a big nod to Journey. Track 3, “Let It Be Now” is very similar to “Hold the Line” from Toto. Quick, call a lawyer. But in all honesty it’s a great track.

“As Soon As Love Finds Me” has a verse riff that Judas Priest would sort of use for “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” a few years after. Otherwise, it’s a cross between ELO and Bad Company to me.

And that’s why I love music, the many connections and links the songs make.

Side 2 opens up with “Love Has Got Me”, and it’s another track written by Peterik and Kiss comes to mind here in the verses while ELO comes across in the Chorus. “Whole Town’s Talkin'” is like it belongs on a Bee Gees album but with a stellar melodic guitar solo.

“Freelance” has a riff that I swear the 80’s LA bands used in every song.  “Nothing Can Shake Me (From Your Love)” is another Peterik cut with a brilliant acoustic guitar intro and the song just keeps on building. It has this climbing riff that sounds wicked. It probably didn’t set the charts on fire, but this song perfectly encapsulates an era and a time to perfection.

Overall, it’s a fun album with 35 minutes of quality material and to top it off, it didn’t even make a commercial dent.

“Rockin’ into the Night”, was written for this album, however Ron Nevison rejected it because it sounded like “Southern Rock”. So it was given to .38 Special and the song became a hit and it gave Jim Peterik another side business, writing songs for others, which of course displeased control-freak Frankie Sullivan.

Susan – Falling In Love Again

The album came out on RCA and there was a running joke that anything that came out on RCA would just go away. Susan (it’s a terrible name for a band by the way) only released one album and their sound is basically a cross between Badfinger and Cheap Trick.

The album is produced by Frank Aversa who I think is the same Aversa who would go on to be involved with Spin Doctors and their big hits.

I Was Wrong

It’s a Ricky Byrd composition and the riff from “It’s Not Love” from Dokken comes to mind and Dokken’s song came many years later.

A Little Time

It’s like Boston merged with the British 60’s rock movement. Guitarist Ricky Byrd shines on “A Little Time,”

Power

I think George Michael would have heard “Power” and recreated it as “Faith”. There is a section in the song, that reminds me of how Candlebox sounded on their debut album.

Guitarist Tom Dickie would go on to form Tom Dickie and The Desires and release a few “New Wave’ sounding albums on Mercury while guitarist Ricky Byrd would join Joan Jett & The Blackhearts for their “I Love Rock N Roll” album and would continue being her lead guitarist until 1993, when Tony Bruno from Saraya took over.

Well that’s it for Part 3 of 1979.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

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

Powerslave

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

“Live After Death” on cassette was my first Maiden. I even high speed dubbed the album, just in case the cassette deck chewed up the original tape. “Powerslave” came a few years after because if you had “Live After Death” you didn’t really need the earlier albums.

Owning music was a risky business. The vinyl could get a scratch or it get warped from the heat, and the cassettes could get chewed up by the tape deck or if not played for long, the reels could get stuck together. And then you had to re-purchase something you already had purchased.

After the “Piece Of Mind” tour ended at the end of 1983, the band took January off and in February, they started to write new material. They booked the studio for March-April and in May, they mixed the album.

In June/July they spent rehearsing the tour set list and by August 1984 the 13 month “World Slavery” tour commenced in Poland with the album coming out in September after the tour had started.

I remember reading how the band would play in total 220 shows and transported around by 6 huge trucks in the US due to the larger venues which means a larger PA or 4 trucks for Europe and 5 tour buses for band and crew.

If there is one thing about Maiden, they knew that the live show had to work and that the show was their bread and butter. It would eventually make Bruce Dickinson consider walking out on Maiden, something he did in the 90’s after “Fear Of The Dark”.

What’s even more amazing is that the band got bigger and bigger in most markets without any singles and airplay that was afforded to bands like Def Leppard, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Ozzy and Quiet Riot. And this grassroots word of mouth fan base still sustains the band to this day.

The other thing with “Powerslave” which makes it great is that it has the power and energy of a live album and the line-up is finally stable. When you don’t have to look for new musicians to fill the void, you can focus on writing great songs as they did with “Peace Of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time”, “Seventh Son of A Seventh Son”.

Aces High

Steve Harris basically wrote a speed metal song with key changes and syncopated technical passages.

The intro from 0.00 to about 0.34 starts in the key of A minor and Kirk Hammett loved it so much he used it for “For Whom The Bells Toll”.

And how good is the section just before and after the solo. You can mouth sing it and it sounds brilliant.

Minutes to Midnight

Adrian Smith’s addition to Maiden made them a lot better and Nicko McBrian’s addition also made them more technical.

This song is written by Smith and Bruce Dickinson and the One Riff to Rule Em All is also the main riff for this song.

That slowed down solo section from 3.24 to 4.10 is perfect. It starts off with a riff, then some simple E minor pentatonic leads and then the build from Nicko into the main riff again.

Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)

It’s listed as written by Harris, so if you believe his haters, it means he copied it from someone or stole their intellectual property. I seriously can’t believe our world has come to this.

The section from 2.34 to about 3.20 is why this song is on this list. If it doesn’t lift you up and inspire you, then I am losfer words.

Flash of the Blade

The song is solely credited to Dickinson, so I’m presuming he wrote the cool open string intro riff.

The Duellists

The section from 1.50 is what I play air guitar too. It reminds me of the feel and simplicity from the debut album.

Then from 2.15 there is a stop/start section to about 2.30 which is brilliant and then a melodic lead starts to happen over the previous riff, before it evolves into a full solo section.

Back In The Village

That intro is basically a blues boogie on speed. It’s brilliant. Then the music build up to the solo section from 2.17 to 2.30 is desk breaking stuff and they revert back to it at 2.40 to 3.00. In each song, there are a little bits here and there that deserve to be fleshed out a little bit more.

Then again, the most recent album from Maiden had them fleshing out these bits for way too long and the songs could have used with some edits.

Powerslave

It’s another Dickinson cut and as a guitarist the song is full of excellent riffs and passages.

So if Dickinson wrote those riff’s, he is then the true unsung guitar hero of Iron Maiden.

The opening galloping riff which segues into the verse is a perfect example of simple, yet effective riff creating. But when the Chorus riff comes in, with Dickinson’s wonderful vocal melody, it’s cathartic.

Then from 2.35 it moves into a ballad like interlude section, which is a perfect release from the distorted guitars that came before it. And that slow lead break builds up to the faster leader break.

But the piece d’resistance is from 3.58 to 4.21. That harmony lead break is the stuff of “air guitar desk breaking” material. I guess I am a slave to the power of the melodic guitar break.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Another Harris track to close the album and what about the music. If the first 15 seconds doesn’t get your head banging, your fists pumping, then there is a problem.

It’s got everything, a pedal point galloping riff, a single note motif that makes it sound progressive and then at the end a super vocal melody kicks in.

And the way Bruce sings “sailing on and on/curse goes on and on” is the stuff of hairs raising on the back of neck.

From 4.39 it has a simple riff and drum response just before the slow section starts at the 5 minute mark. When I write songs, I always try to incorporate something similar.

From 7.33, Steve starts one of the most iconic bass lines. And the song gets its second wind.

That section from about 8.38 that starts building up from the bass interlude into the lead feels like it’s another desk breaking time moment.

That harmony lead break from about the 10.03 minute mark. It’s perfect. Any lead break which the audience can sing back to you, is a great lead break. And Maiden have a catalogue of them.

For an album which is 34 years old, it’s still so relevant today as it was back then. That is the power of music and great song writing.

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

Lock Up The Wolves

A ticking clock sounds in the distance.

Suddenly it starts to get more pronounced as the speed starts to increase.

It’s time for something to happen but what.

Then a syncopated guitar, drums and bass riff kicks in. And there is a pause. It happens again. And another pause.

And that my friends is how “Lock Up The Wolves” starts off. This song, doesn’t get the notice it should.

It’s 1990 and after going through thousands of guitar tapes, Dio settled on unknown guitarist Rowan Robertson and dropped this beauty on a record buying public that became slaves to MTV and slick anthems.

So it’s no surprise, this release doesn’t get the notice it should. Maybe because it was up against “Painkiller” from Judas Priest and “Rust In Peace” From Megadeth for people’s Metal attention. Maybe because MTV kept playing his older stuff over the newer stuff.

Maybe Dio fans expected more. As a solo artist, Dio delivered four huge albums and when you combine the Sabbath and Rainbow albums to that list, you can see it’s a brilliant body of work, spanning 14 years.

I always wondered what the song is about. And the way Dio writes is always open to interpretation. It’s written by Dio, Rowan Robertson and Jimmy Bain. But bass on the album is played by Teddy Cook.

At first I thought it was about the inner struggles people have and to not let those inner Wolves get the better of you.

But the Wolves can be politicians, bad people, drugs/addictions or any other dangers in your life. There is a lyric line which states;

Don’t you let em get away

Lock up the Wolves before you play or it’s over

Because if you do, there is only a front door to hell waiting for you.

To me this song is a masterpiece. The riff is simple and effective. The lead break is bluesy and full of emotion. Simon Wright holds a dirgy tempo on the drums as good as Ward and the Appice brothers. Teddy Cook grinds away on the bass recreating Bain’s parts.

If you haven’t checked it out, do so. YouTube has various videos with combined view counts over 2 million. Spotify has it. It’s one of Dio’s best but

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Redemption

To me, this kind of metal started with Iron Maiden. Then the shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine and Joe Satriani evolved it a litle bit more.

The “..And Justice For All” album from Metallica pushed the boundaries of metal even more with its time changes in the composition while Savatage was also pushing these metal boundaries, with “Gutter Ballet” and “Streets A Rock Opera”, metal masterpieces rooted in story-telling. In between here, you had Queensryche, who with each album kept pushing the progressive metal bar into further directions.

By the start of the 90’s, Fates Warning had morphed from a power metal act into a progressive rock one and Dream Theater changed the game even more with “Images and Words”.

And since then, progressive metal has kept on evolving. One of the most important acts in this scene is Evergrey, so it’s no surprise that Evergrey founder, singer and main songwriter Tom Englund is doing vocals here.

Some artists have a huge impact/influence on you.

For me Tom Englund is one such artist. He’s been pushing his main band “Evergrey” since they formed in Sweden in the mid 90’s and with each album they get stronger and more diverse. The last two albums, “Hymns For The Broken” and “The Storm” are excellent releases, incorporation atmospherics into their music. They are one of those bands with a cult following, and these fans have supported them into a ten album career over 20 years. And the thing with Evergrey is, they keep growing a little bit more with each release.

So I was surprised to read that Tom is doing vocals for Redemption.

I remember really digging their “The Fullness Of Time”, “The Origins Of Ruin” and “Snowfall On Judgement Day” albums, all released between 2005, 2007 and 2009 respectively. After that, they sort of dropped of my radar. I remember seeing new albums advertised, but I never got around to checking em out.

Now for people who don’t know who Redemption are, here is a quick summary.

They are a progressive metal/rock band from the US, who had vocalist Ray Adler from Fates Warning fronting them from “The Fullness Of Time” album. They’ve also had their fair share of tragedy/bad news, with founding guitarist Nick Van Dyk being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008 a form of blood cancer considered incurable. But the metal gods are shining and he’s still rocking to this day. In 2014, co- guitarist Bernie Versailles suffered an aneurysm and he’s currently on indefinite hiatus while he continues to recover.

And here we are in 2018, with “Long Night’s Journey Into Day”. Without any disrespect to the guys in Redemption, because they had Ray Adler fronting them previously, I always said they sounded like Fates Warning on the previous album and now with Tom Englund fronting them, they sound like Evergrey. These two vocalists have a unique tone and style which will always tie them back to their main bands.

In saying all that, this is a cracking album. If it sounds like Evergrey, it’s purely coincidental due to Englund’s vocals. And I like how Englund is trying new things, outside of the Evergrey domain. It looks like he finally understands the game. Those who are not creating and releasing constantly are either calling for the old days to come back or are waiting for the telegram to arrive. Things change and that also means the record business.

Eyes You Dare Not Meet In Dreams

If you like Megadeth, (hell, Megadeth musicians always seem to make an appearance on Redemption albums) then you will like the intro riffage.

There’s a storm on the horizon
There’s a shadow on your door
There’s a sense of dread that’s rising
And it’s coming back for more

It’s ominous and of our world and of our times.

Capitalism has overthrown democracy and it’s more dangerous than communism and dictatorships. If there is a threat to a company’s profits, they will sue a sovereign state to get their way or they will scheme and pay for laws to be passed, to get there way. And politicians are all too eager to accept the lobby dollars.

The GFC happened and trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailout funds went into the economy from the Government. The people responsible for the GFC, lost nothing. They went into nice jobs with the firms that benefited from the bailouts and they went on college speaking tours. However, the middle class and the poor suffered and lost a lot. Some still haven’t recovered.

And people still haven’t moved on from then. There is a fear, an anger and a dread which is all floating in the undertow. And the politicians who are meant to represent the people have more or less disappeared. All they represent are the companies who pay the most.

The instrumental/solo section is a medley of Yngwie Malmsteen and Dream Theater and it’s a great combination in my mind.

Someone Else’s Problem

The intro riff hooks me and “The Ytse Jam” nod before the verses is a perfect tribute to their influences.

So now I’m standing in the ashes
Remembering your face
If I’m honest and don’t think too much about it
There are things that seem a challenge to replace
I know I let myself be played
Trying to fix a broken toy

Lyrically, it deals with removing yourself from a relationship which is leaching you.

I tried
But I won’t bleed for you no more
Because your someone else’s problem

And then there is another wicked instrumental/solo section.

The Echo Chamber

It has a very similar riff to “Someone Else’s Problem” which has a similar riff to “The Ytse Jam” which is very similar to.. I guess you know how it goes.

But from the minute mark, this could have come from the “Scenes From A Memory” album by Dream Theater.

You surround yourself with thinkers of your kind
Never challenging your view or opening your mind

Lyrically it deals with social media, it’s impact in our lives and how people seek out views and ideas which they agree with, even if they are crap or wrong, and shutting out any other viewpoints, even if those opposing viewpoints are true.

Impermanent

Still a part of us will fight it
Til our dying breath
Nothing can be permanent
The machines in this place will fail
The illusion of stability

Change will come. Change is inevitable. And as the chorus lyrics state, accept the tide of change or it will drag you under.

Indulge In Color

The intro is brilliant with influences ranging from Joe Satriani to Dream Theater to Fates Warning to Rush.

They must have changed the way the game is played
Or I never knew the rules
I could see the prize within my grasp
And watched it slip away from view

Yes, the rules of life change based on the companies which stand to lose the most. You see, every law and every decision made by government is based on legislation that companies lobbied hard to make happen. And by having these laws passed, the rules of the game change.

Little Men

It’s a song Metallica wishes they wrote.

The world must be so frightening to make them feel so small

You know, those little politician men who want to feel important.

Face of an arrogant man
Striving in the shadows
Cursed by his success
He tries to reinvent himself
But isn’t sure he can
So he tries to stand so tall
Because he knows he’s small

The world is full of insane people holding positions of power. Now it’s unstable, insecure rich people holding positions of power.

And Yet

I know that you were using me
I know I should have won
You consumed the very best of me

Englund delivers vocally on this ballad.

I curse myself for caring and I hate because I’m weak

It’s human nature to care. The majority of us have a heart. And then you have the others who don’t care. Like a locust swarm they come in and strip away all the essence of the crop/person before they move on. Machine Head covered this topic with their song, “Unto The Locust”.

The Last Of Me

We have reached a point in life
Where it takes more than it gives

It’s a shame that for the majority of people, life has become about taking more than they give. There is no balance. We might see on the news, people rallying to give help to others in a time of need or a disaster, but what happens in between these events.

How are they helping each other?

People used to have veggie patch gardens and they would share what they grew with others in the street. Why let it go to waste? But people had to know each other in the street to share. These days, I am pretty sure if I ask people to name the people who live in their street, they wouldn’t be able to.

New Year’s Day

This is a cool U2 cover and hearing Englund do his take on Bono’s melodies is totally worth it.

Under a blood red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspapers say it’s true
It’s true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one.

Eastern Europe was under communism. The governments controlled the media. So they showed what they wanted to show and they printed what they wanted to print. As the lyrics state, if the newspapers say it’s true, it must be true.

I read somewhere about how the song’s lyrics deal with the 1980 demonstrations in Poland against oppressive and how the people demonstrating got arrested and put in jail.

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Standing For Something

The world is burning. We have gas poisoning and acid attacks in the UK, Russian meddling in politics and mother nature taking back her lands via fires, volcanoes, hurricanes/twisters and earthquakes. We have a problem with pollution in the air and plastics in our waters. We have people carrying out mass shootings or people driving vehicles into crowds of people. We still have wars over religion and poverty/famine in Africa is still happening and as much as big business wants to deny it, climate change is real.

The past is littered with bands and music in general taking a stand against a problem, a situation, injustice and war. But what about now. What is upsetting musicians enough that they feel compelled to write about it?

King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” is a powerful anti-Vietnam War statement while “Khe Sanh,” by Cold Chisel portrayed the damage that the Vietnam War did to a soldier after he came back. Meanwhile, Black Sabbath focused on the fallout of nuclear war with “War Pigs”.  Metallica also touched on this topic with “Blackened” while Megadeth protested nuclear warfare with “Rust In Peace”.

Bob Dylan sang about about the injustice of imprisoning an innocent man in his song “Hurricane” while Midnight Oil sang about the corruption of corporations in poisoning its workers with asbestos in the song “Blue Sky Mine”. Rush challenged religion in “Freewill” and how people use god as an excuse for their own lack of accountability.

Today, artists who speak out or write about social issues suffer blowback from “fans”. And as soon as they get blowback, the accountant speaks to the manager who then speaks to the artist. And the artist then remains silent.

Robb Flynn spoke out about racism and Trump America and he suffered death threats and hate mail. Meanwhile Metallica kept quiet on the issue, choosing financial perseverance. Even Mustaine, who normally has an opinion has kept his mouth shut. Maybe the lyrics for the upcoming Megadeth album, might reference the current social situation in a cryptic way.

Nikki Sixx is all over Twitter in his anti-Trump tweets. He’s getting told off and told to stick to music, but he doesn’t care. He’s got skin in the game and he’s shouting at the devil. Meanwhile, a lot of other artists from the 80’s are keeping their opinions to themselves. Jon Bon Jovi said something negative about Trump and he got some backlash from Jovi fans that voted for Trump. So he stopped talking about politics.

Kiss’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley don’t care if the world is going to hell, as they continue their stand against piracy and streaming payments. At least they have an issue they are taking a stand on and they are sticking with it.

Dee Snider has always taking a stand on issues in the past and even today, he’s still taking a stand. He’s anti bullies and anti crap talkers and anti-oppressors. Even though he’s not writing the lyrics for his recent solo albums, he’s the voice who is delivering the middle finger salute message to the rest of the world.

Maynard Keenan from Tool and A Perfect Circle fame has always shared his views in songs. Sometimes he’s been very cryptic about it, but on the recent APC album “Eat The Elephant”, he’s not holding back at the Government and as usual, religion.

If you want to hear truth and people taking a stand, go watch a comedy show. Comedians are always commenting on government officials, products, companies/business people and commercials. And by taking a stand, they are selling their show and routine in the process. Comedians tour in clubs and theatres to great success. Meanwhile the majority of musicians are buying up space in the suburb of conformity, too scared to be true to themselves because of the blowback. Remember, you can’t be liked by everyone.

Take a stand.

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