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

1978 – IV – Kiss-A-Ganza

The last post for 1978 will kick off with a Kiss-a- ganza. Not one, not two, but 5 Kiss albums, plus lunch boxes, and what not.

Here is the Spotify playlist.

And the previous posts can be found at 1, 2 or 3.

Paul Stanley
Gene Simmons
Peter Criss
Ace Frehley

You take the best songs from each of these solo albums and it’s a pretty solid Kiss album. My list as follows and I’m sure others will have a different opinion.

Side A

  1. Rip It Out – Ace Frehley
  1. You Matter To Me – Peter Criss
  1. Tonight, You Belong To Me – Paul Stanley
  1. Ozone – Ace Frehley
  1. It’s Alright – Paul Stanley
  1. Love In Chains – Paul Stanley

Side B

  1. New York Groove – Ace Frehley
  1. Snow Blind – Ace Frehley
  1. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me – Paul Stanley
  1. Take Me Away (Together As One) – Paul Stanley
  1. Mr Make Believe – Gene Simmons
  1. Goodbye – Paul Stanley

It’s top heavy with Space Ace and Star Paul because they had their creative juices flowing at this point in time, while Demon Gene and Cat Peter just didn’t have it.

And Ace struck big with his album because its basically a balls to the wall punk album before punk became such a big thing. “Rip It Out” has a punk vibe, with a drum solo and a rock guitar solo chucked in for good measure. 

For some reason, the R&B/Rod Stewart feel of “You Matter To Me” just works straight after “Rip It Out”.

And “Tonight, You Belong To Me” comes in at number 3, a masterpiece in melodic rockisms. If you ask me, it’s a three punch knockout.

At track 4 is a dirty and sleazy Ace track, with “Ozone” a groovy masterpiece in hard rock song writing which put some of the Led Zep work to shame at this point in time.  Even the lead break was very different to the standard blues licks Ace is renowned for.

Track 5 is “It’s Alright” from the Star Child, a nice little rocker, which flows straight after “Ozone” and the first side of my imaginary album, closes with another Star Child cut, in “Love In Chains”, a very mature song musically, especially when you listen to the guitar work and the lead breaks. 

Side B of the best album that never was, kicks off with “New York Groove”, a perfect sing along and clap along. And the Led Zep influenced “Snow Blind” had to be up next, because there’s no use being back in NY if you are not snow blind and lost in space. And how cool is that “Love Gun” style lick he brings in to the lead break.

Paul Stanley’s feel good and very commercial sounding, “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me” is perfect at track 3 on Side B and Paul continues his momentum with “Take Me Away (Together As One)” which reminds me of a cross between “House Of The Rising Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

Demon Gene is Kirk Hammett on this album. His riffs were just not good enough. But “Mr Make Believe” ended up good enough to be included with its take on “Mr Blue Sky” and The Beatles catalogue. And the album that never was, closes with “Goodbye” from Paul Stanley. And how good is the last minute of “Goodbye”.

And of course, with all things Kiss, a best off collection came out called “Double Platinum”. If you didn’t have any of their records, you could have purchased this one, and still have a decent collection of songs. Provided you still had any funds left, after purchasing all four of the solo albums.

Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight

“Surrender” is one of my favourite tracks because of that god damn addictive Chorus. 

“High Roller” hooks me in with its AC/DC vibe.

“Heaven Tonight” has a pretty addictive intro. It reminds me of “Kings And Queens” from Aerosmith.

Bob Seger – Stranger In Town

One of the best voices ever.

“Hollywood Nights” kicks it off and if you have never been to Hollywood, then you would have felt like you had after listening to this song and a story of a romantic Hollywood meeting, which led to marriage and then a violent broken marriage and how nothing that came after captured that Hollywood Night.

“Still The Same” is another one of those acoustic rolling rockers while “Old Time Rock and Roll’ is basically saying that today’s music ain’t got the same soul as the music that came before and you need that old time rock and roll to reminisce about those days of old.

And the song got multiple reboots in the 80’s via movies and TV shows like “Risky Business” and “Alf”.

“Feel Like A Number” has a riff which sounds like something else (like Filter’s “Take A Picture”) and lyrics which sum up life.

I take my card and I stand in line

Who hates waiting in line to take money out of their bank account. Like sheep, we need to wait to take what is ours.

To make a buck I work overtime

We have been conditioned from birth to believe that hard work will get you through life. We even take up jobs with higher salaries, which means we work more unpaid hours than ever before.

Dear sir letters keep comin’ in the mail

When you are behind in any debt, the letters never stop, until you are out on the streets or back at home, if that place still exists.

To IRS I’m another file

The tax man loves the poor and the middle class, as that’s the only way they can get money, because the rich corporations don’t pay any.

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls

It’s the singles which captured my interest like “Beasts Of Burden” and “Miss You”.

Dragon – O Zambesi

Dragon is one of those acts which captured a sound and style perfect for Australians. And while people might associate the band as Australian, they are in fact from New Zealand.

It was during this album cycle tour, that Dragon attempted to break through into the American market, which ended disastrous at a show in Dallas, Texas. Marc Hunter caused a riot, when he said that all Texans are faggots, which resulted in the band getting pelted with beer bottles, chairs, tables and other members of the audience holding guns out, yelling “I’m gonna kill ya”.

And Motley Crue have nothing on these bad boys. Check out the mayhem.

As soon as the band relocated to Sydney in 1975, their drummer died of a heroin overdose. Two members were involved in a serious car crash in 1977, where keyboardist Paul Hewson (their main songwriter in the 70’s) had his neck in a brace as well as having a broken arm and guitarist Robert Taylor needed plastic surgery. Paul Hewson eventually died of a drug overdose in 1985 and vocalist Marc Hunter died of smoking-related throat cancer in 1998.

“Still In Love With You” and “Are You Old Enough” still get constant radio play in Australia.

Grease (Soundtrack)

How can you not escape this movie?

It was everywhere for over a decade.

Frankie Valli kicks it off with the song “Grease”, the Travolta and Newton-John duet, “You’re The One That I Want” rocks out of the gates. “Rock N’ Roll Is Here To Stay” from the Sha Na Na’s tells us that rock and roll will never die.

Graham Bonnet – No Bad Habits

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” has a riff which had George Michael very interested and eventually he used it for “Faith”. Of course, that riff is not in the original Bob Dylan version but made up by the guys in the band for their reinterpretation.

And that’s my wrap of 1978. 1977 here I come.

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

The Pirate Vault #5

The Pirate Vault box keeps on producing some great memories.

Richie Kotzen – Fever Dream and Cacophony – Metal Symphony

I was in a shred mindset between 1989 and 1992 and I was buying CD’s and albums from Shrapnel artists. And I got these albums dubbed a few years after they came out and i picked em up on CD and LP not soon after.

I heard about Cacophony from interviews I read about Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, who of course at the time had gigs with David Lee Roth and Megadeth. And the music world only got to see a brief appearance of an unbelievable musician in Jason Becker, who still writes music via his eye movements and a system his dad has set up for him due to Lou Gehrig’s disease otherwise known as ALS.  

And of course, Richie Kotzen had the Poison guitar slot, in which he co-write a brilliant blues, rock and soul album called “Native Tongue” (which could have been his solo album) and the busy man he was, he also took Ricki Rockett’s fiancé mid tour. “Layla” from Eric Clapton comes to mind right now.

Dinosaur Jr – Without A Sound and Hand It Over

I was in a hard rock band with a drummer who was into grungy sounding bands, so while I exposed him to Dream Theater, he told me to sink my teeth into Dinosaur Jr.

I was hooked from the opening arpeggios and single note lines in “Feel The Pain” from the “Without A Sound” album released in 1994. And the heaviness of opening track “I Don’t Think” from the “Hand It Over” album released in 1997.

Fuel – Sunburn and Santana – 3

Fuel had significant chart success in Australia with “Shimmer”, however I didn’t commit financially until the second album came out. Another band member did commit, so it was a no brainer to copy this album from them, while another band member really enjoyed the jam aspects of Santana – 3, so in order to understand what they meant at band practice, I had to dub this album.

And it’s funny how in the early 2000’s, I was experiencing a new release and a release more than 30 years old. The beauty of music is that everyone forms a connection at different times.

And the songs “Taboo” and “Toussaint L’Overture” have some of the best and emotive guitar solo work Carlos has recorded on tape. They still make the hairs on the back of my neck rise.

AC/DC – Bon Scott compilation

My mate, Mick is a mad ACCA fan. When he lived in NY for about 12 years, he saw them on every tour, every night. When they come to Australia, he sees the Sydney shows.

One day in a suburban street in Australia, at a time far away sometime in the 80s, I asked him if he was keen to make our own Best Off compilation of Bon Scott material while we polished off a box of beer.

So off to work we went, debating which song should make it and which song shouldn’t. And a few hours later the holy grail of Bon Scott material that we classified as essential was ready to be blasted in the car stereo.

And I still hold that view to this day.

We were meant to meet and eventually do a Brian Johnson compilation, but life got in the way and we never did.

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

The Record Vault – Bobaflex

I remember reading in Guitar World about “Bobaflex” and the article said they’re a hard rock band, so when I purchased the album, released in 2005, I had no idea what to expect.

The first thing I didn’t expect was for the great art and attention to detail to make the booklet a worthy addition, instead of the usual band photo, thank you credits and lyrics.

So what is “Apologize For Nothing” about?

Aggressive, syncopated guitars, with aggressive and melodic vocals. And yes, its roots lay in hard rock and heavy metal with a modern sound. Think of Guns N Roses merged with Faith No More merged with Rob Zombie merged with System of A Down merged with Sevendust merged with Galactic Cowboys. Yep I think that sums it up.

“Six Feet Underground” and “Better Than Me” is the sound of what Five Finger Death Punch would take to arena success a few years later. “Guardian” is my favourite and the song “Medicine” has a vocal melody which “The Greatest Showman” decided to use, while “Rescue You” (my 2nd favourite) sounds like one of the best songs System Of A Down didn’t write in 2005.

And on some songs, the way they are delivered vocally reminds me of Galactic Cowboys, a Geffen act from the early 90’s who was marketed heavily but didn’t receive the commercial success the dollars invested in them demanded.

And it’s all over the place with styles, which is a good thing. It got me interested because of its progressive attitude to song writing and the beautiful booklet.  

And some of the music which came after is more accessible, but still worthy, like “Bury Me With My Guns” which is pure hard rock from their 2011 album “Hell In My Heart” or “I Am A Nightmare” and “Long Time Coming” from their 2017 album “Eloquent Demons”. The album “Anything That Moves” released in 2015 is a worthy listen as well.

“Never Coming Back” from 2013’s “Charlatans Web” has some serious riffage and “Pretty Little Things” is layered with vocals and a riff which brings back memories of the 80’s.

In other words, invest some time into Bobaflex.

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

The Science Of Things

There is a saying that by the time an artist reaches album number 3 or 4, they are at the peak of their powers. It’s not because of some mystical power or magical power or magical powder; it’s basically a combination of having enough life experiences to create better art.

And if you look at the history of music, there is a consistent trend about the 3rd or 4th album being the album which makes it happen.  Some artists deliver again a few albums after and some artists deliver again as solo artists or via a new band they formed.

If you study history, you will know that beyond every fall of an empire, there is a rise and beyond every rise, there is a fall. And the cycle just keeps repeating. An artist’s career is no different.

But the third Bush album “The Science Of Things”, released in 1999, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The glory or the rise, went to “Sixteen Stone” and “Razorblade Suitcase”. But the third album is also worthy, however it falls into the side of “the fall”. It doesn’t have hits, it has songs. And albums were designed to be a statement of songs, not cherry picked songs, released as singles.

The whole recording industry blamed Steve Jobs for allowing people to cherry pick songs and just buy them. Well, the label bosses had been doing it for decades in order to make people believe they needed an album. Which is why for me, it was always special to buy an album, when I had no idea what was on the album. But I wouldn’t invest that time today.

“Warm Machine” and “The Chemicals Between Us” satisfies the fans of the debut album. “Spacetravel” is a bit more progressive, an artist writing to fulfil their creative urge, rather than writing for a song to be a hit. Even “40 Miles From The Sun”, it’s the a song The Doors didn’t write.

“Prizefighter” is a favourite, with the jangling guitar strumming over a fuzzed out guitar, and nicely decorated with another shimmering guitar playing natural harmonics. “Disease Of The Dancing Cats” is a terrible title, but that’s what also makes it unique, plus its “Zero” like riff from Smashing Pumpkins. “Letting The Cable Sleeps” also has this melancholy like vibe, it starts off with two major chords and ends with a minor chord, giving the song a yin and yang of happy and sad.

Gavin Rossdale sings in his normal baritone voice. There is no need to copy or mimic another singer whereas on the first two albums, people compared his voice on some songs to Kurt Cobain. And you definitely won’t hear Rob Halford wails on a Bush record, then again Halford went more industrial and guttural during this period with “Fight”.

And an album doesn’t need to be number one on the charts to be a good album, nor does it need to have diamond like sales. But it always happens, when everything is judged against the commercial appeal of an album.

For U2, everything is judged against “Achtung Baby”, for Pearl Jam its “Ten”, for Metallica it’s the self-titled Black album, for AC/DC its “Back In Black”, for Bon Jovi its “Slippery When Wet”, for Europe its “The Final Countdown” however, I believe Europe has surpassed “The Final Countdown” on many occasions musically, but not commercially. For Van Halen, its 1984, but their Sammy Hagar albums sold less, but gave them an even larger audience because of the mainstream sound of the songs.

For Aerosmith, well they had a few mega sellers, like “Pump” and “Get A Grip” in the 80’s as sales of recorded music in the 70’s is really hard to see as accurate, as it’s based on shipping rates and other creative payola ideas.

But there are bands who more or less remain consistent in relation to their output and sales but still play to packed houses, like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Ozzy solo era, Deep Purple, Motley Crue, Rush and Judas Priest. Well Judas Priest did have a big album with “Screaming For Vengeance” and everything else that came before and after supported their legacy.

The problem is when an artist has commercial acceptance of their music, they chase it a little bit more and want it again and again. But it rarely works that way, and some artists, bite the bullet and sell their creative juices to outside writers.

Bush, up until this point, kept everything in house and you can hear that they didn’t really chase the Billboard Hot 100 chart parade with this album. Maybe to their detriment financially, but respect is earned when you play the game your own way.

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

The Record Vault – Blessed By A Broken Heart

I came across a film clip for the song “Forever”. It got me interested enough, so I found the album online, downloaded it via a cyber-locker, enjoyed it enough, that I purchased it from Amazon’s US store.

I wonder if the Amazon US store purchase counts for a sale in the US or because its posted to Australia, it counts for a sale in the Australian market.

Formed in the early 2000’s, Blessed By A Broken Heart (BBaBH) battled hard, became MySpace superstars, lost all of their original members who gave them the MySpace status and with new members in tow, got a deal with Century Media Records in 2007 with a cross between 80’s hard rock/screamo metal and released “Pedal To The Metal”.

This then led to a bigger deal on Tooth and Nail records and the “Feel The Power” album eventually came out (after many delays) in January, 2012 with a sound further evolved to the 80’s hard rock movement.

Vocalist Tony Gambino departed not long after in July 2012 and by September, 2013 the band was finished with repeated record company legal struggles and lack of support from booking agencies given as reasons.

And for some stupid reason, “Feel The Power” is not available on Spotify Australia, so put that down to a lack of record label support as well and for some other stupid reason, the “Blessed By A Broken Heart” YouTube account has a lot of the videos unavailable in Australia. Dumb and dumber.

So the album.

Its melodic rock all the way. The musicianship is top notch, however their Mad Max look was already taken by the Black Veil Brides.

“Forever” has some Dragonforce like “I’m getting finger cramps” sweeps in the lead break, a melodic rock Chorus that soars like a Journey song and music that reminds me of the “Soldiers Under Command” era of Stryper.

“Rockin All Night” could have come from the “Midnight Madness” album from Night Ranger.

“Shut Up And Rock” has this Whitesnake “Slip Of The Tongue” vibe in the intro but overall it has this NWOBHM feel and lead breaks that make Jeff Watson’s eight finger tapping look amateurish. That one screaming verse, never should have been there. If they kept it melodic, the song is a 10 out 10 for me because that Chorus soars, the music soars and the mastery and performance of each note is perfect.

“I’ve Got You” is a ballad with some great lead guitar work which reminds of Vito Bratta’s work with White Lion and an outro solo which burns like a John Petrucci solo.  

“Deathwish” has this Jake E Lee Ozzy style “Bark At The Moon” era like riff which gets me interested and the Chorus, seals the deal with the lyric, “Mama sold her soul to the devil, traded a kiss for a birthday deathwish, mama sold her soul to the devil, traded her pain for the love of cocaine.” And another lead break which is worthy of guitar hero status.

If you like the above songs, then you will like “Scream Like You Mean It” which reminds me of Journey and “Holdin’ Back For Nothin’” with its Dragonforce like power metal.

Lead guitarist Shred Sean Maier effortlessly shreds as his name states and underpinning it all is the orchestrated backing vocals that remind of Mutt Lange and his work with Def Leppard.

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Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Artworks

In the era of the classical composers, you had to go to a theatre or a public place to hear music. It wasn’t something which was portable or sellable or something transmitted into the homes of people.

With our advancements in technology, we got radio. But apart from playing music inside the studio and having it beemed live, there still wasn’t a way to capture/record music properly. The invention of electricity, the magnetic tape and vinyl phonographs between 1900 and 1950’s made it all possible, and all of this came to fruition in the 60’s and a whole new recording business was formed.

And we got Rock and Roll, which was basically an extension of the Blues and this lead to what would become Heavy Metal.

Heavy Metal, came at a time when society was still disciplined to believe in their religious leaders and their government elected officials. And Metal questioned these beliefs and highlighted the divides between the haves and have nots.

The biggest Christian band ever “Black Sabbath” was labelled as satanic because they sang about mental illness, the sweet leaf, the white stuff that leaves you snow-blind, the nuclear arms race that condemns all of the children to the grave and they used the realms of infinite space as a form of escapism. But their biggest crime was to question authority and when authority is questioned, authorities need to make someone as the bad guy and themselves as the good guy.

And this opposition to heavy metal has continued throughout its history. And on occasions, heavy metal even opposed itself and did itself no favours, like the black metal movement in Norway, the Church burnings, the stabbings amongst certain groups. But despite all of this, metal has kept its fan base, all of those misfits and outcasts, who actually came from blue collared middle class suburban families who gave their kids enough freedom to explore and find themselves.

And metal music brought forth a certain musicianship that other artists and genres didn’t have. But the biggest impact that heavy metal music made on music is the album cover art.

If you don’t believe me, check out the covers of artists before heavy metal and hard rock captured the zeitgeist.

No one can forget the iconic Iron Maiden album covers.

But if you even go back to the 70’s and the first Black Sabbath album, with its scary matte cover of a pale lady standing in a field in front of a house that looks scary and compare that to covers that other artists produced that year, you’ll understand what I mean.

Artists (painters and graphic designers) suddenly had a new way to get paid as rock and metal artists called upon their services. Then other genres started to call up these artists.

As a metalhead, I feel it’s pulse and I live its lifestyle every single day of my life. When I need to talk to someone I do, when I need to say no, I do, when I need to kick back, I do. And when I want to appreciate art I will pull out a cover and enjoy it.

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

The Pirate Vault #4

The Pirate Vault keeps on rolling.

Iron Maiden – Killers and The Jimi Hendrix Story

From memory, the “Jimi Hendrix Story” was a double CD of Hendrix cuts that my mate MoeFartin (nickname of course) had, so I picked my favourites at that point in time.

“Killers” is basically a dub from the album, so I can have it transportable on my Walkman as I felt I hadn’t given it enough attention compared to the other albums.

And I had “Live From Death”, “Somewhere In Time” and “No Prayer For The Dying” on cassette. Plus “Live After Death” touched all of their albums up to that point except “Killers”.

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

I’m a bit torn on this album. I always thought it should be one album, like “Siamese Dream” which I have on CD. The main songs I listened to are the ones I had to learn for the band I was in, like “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “1979” and “Zero”.

And how iconic is the lyric, “the world is a vampire”.

Eric Johnson – Ah Via Musicom and Metallica Mix

“Cliffs Of Dover”.

Just listen to it, and that arpeggio lead riff in the key of D major. Learning the song, the licks, proved to be a beautiful experience and Eric Johnson, opened my eyes to a different side of guitar playing which sounded accessible.

And for the Metallica Mix, well, at that point in time, I really enjoyed listening to these songs and I’ll always state that “Ride The Lightning” trumps “Master Of Puppets”. So it’s no surprise that on this mix I have four songs from the “Justice” album and two songs from the “Ride” album.

Rock Junkies

It’s a weird mix for sure.

 Done in the 90’s.

I remember I was at Mega’s place and he is a collector of all things musical and I had a tape which had music on it, but I said screw it, I am going to overdub it for some off this stuff (hence the made up cover and not the original cover sleeve that comes with a blank cassette).

So he had some Police records and I copied the two big songs from those. He also had a Dokken 12 inch single, which had “Back For The Attack” and “Paris Is Burning” as the B-sides, so I copied that.

He also had U2 – Achtung Baby and I copied my three favourite songs from that.

Moving onto Side 2, I had the film clip of Great White’s “Rock Me” and “Stars” from Hear N Aid, so I copied those songs. Then Body Count and “Cop Killer” song came next, some Billy Idol and his “Rebel Yell” and I finish it off with Dee Snider’s “Calling On You” from Widowmaker which actually took the spot of another Body Count song called “The Winner Loses”.

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