Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Compressorhead

Make what you want of it, but one thing is certain; robots made from recycled parts and controlled by midi sequencers are having a better career playing metal covers than most bands.

If you don’t believe me, check out their “Ace Of Spades” cover.

It’s been said that this robot “band” plays real electric and acoustic instruments. People on YouTube commented about AI taking over the world, but in the end, this project is just some great code writing and midi sequencing.

So how did I hear about Compressorhead?

Well I was at a work seminar and they had a few “experts” in different IT areas presenting different topics. I am using the “expert” tag here with a lot of sarcasm.

So the AI “expert” introduced the video of Compressorhead and told the attendees that the robots in the band got placed in a room, given the music to hear and they managed to learn the songs all on their own.

Of course this caused some discussion amongst the attendees and a lot of iPads started Googling the band name and reading up on the history of the “band”, which involved from creation in a warehouse to playing live.

Even when the AI “expert” was given evidence that showed that the band performance was midi sequencing programmed by a human, the AI expert refused to change his view, because it didn’t work with the presentation, which was to scare us about the power of AI.

Little did the expert know that when they use Google, AI is there to auto fill and bring back the pages they need. I can’t even remember the last time I needed to click on the 2nd page of the Google search results.

Every time they go on a plane, AI is on board, ready to fly the plane when the autopilot button is pressed.

Every time they use spell check, AI is there to go through the document and compare words to a dictionary.

A little bit of AI is everywhere.

Maybe Compressorhead will become a self learning AI. That’s all up to the unsung heroes who created and programmed the robots.

Until then enjoy their metal machine tribute to Lemmy.

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

All I Want

After “Wicked Sensation”, I wasn’t particularly fond of “River Of Love” and “Sweet Sister Mercy” but when”All I Want” blasted out of the speakers, I was sold.

The 12/8 groove and the G minor key was enough for me to stop what I was doing and pick up the damn guitar and try to figure the fucker out.

George Lynch was a different songwriter and guitar player compared to his Dokken days.

Out the door went the generic power chord structures and in came inversions (like playing a D chord with the F# as the root note instead of the D), diads (two note chords), more open chords with the high B and E strings ringing throughout and arpeggios.

The lyrics about being alone with your baby and showing her some loving that brings Oni to his knees doesn’t do the music justice. Hence the reason why it’s forgotten.

In the solo section, Lynch comes to play.

Working in the key of D minor now, he’s performing several different degrees of bends from half bends to full bends to one and half bends to two full bends. And he’s accurate and precise.

And before the solo transitions to the key of E minor, you hear this bouncing pick technique.

In the key of E minor, Lynch is referencing open strings, octaves and even more bends before reverting back to the original G minor key for some Mixolydian and Pentatonic madness.

And that is the beauty of his playing. While the rhythm section lays down a G minor bed of music, Lynch in his solo switches between a major key scale (Mixolydian) and a minor key scale (Pentatonic Minor).

Overall he keeps it bluesy and although it’s fast, it’s still emotive.

Check it out.

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

1979 – II – Somebody Get Me A Doctor

I wrote this post about six months ago and just realized I never posted it. And when I saw Part 3 posted i didn’t even think that Part 2 wasn’t out.

So here it is.

I didn’t hear these albums or songs until the 80’s and for some of the more obscure album songs, well into the 90’s. And that my friends is the beauty of music. While the band or artist could be gone or retired, the music lives on forever.

And these days so many people want to make money from it.

Record labels have done their best to change the copyright laws originally designed to protect the creator and give the creator an incentive to create, to a corporation monopoly for the life of the artist plus 70 years after their death. They are even pushing for 90 years after death to be the new standard.

For example, if Van Halen wrote “Dance The Night Away” in the 1930’s, the song would be out of copyright by 1958 and free for artists to use and build upon. If those same copyright rules applied in 1979, the song would have been out of copyright in 2007. However, with copyright laws as they stand now, and provided EVH lives to 80, the song would still be under copyright in 2100. (EVH born 1955 + 80 (life of the artist) + 70 years after death = 2105).

Anyway, here is part 2 of 1979 and here is the playlist.

Part 1 can be found here.

Kansas – Monolith

Kansas came into my life in the 90’s via the good old second hand record shop when a $20 trip would end up with 10 records as a minimum and a huge difference from the 80’s when that same $20 trip would end up with one record and maybe a discount bin cassette tape. Actually I picked up the first six Kansas albums on the same day.

And I dropped the needle on the albums based on the covers. The cover I liked more, got first spins. So “Point Of Know Return” was first, then “Leftoverture”, then “Monolith”, then “Song For America”, then “Kansas” and finally “Masque”.

On The Other Side

The opener written by Kerry Livgren and I dig the emotive intro lead break which I believe was played by Rich Williams.

The empty page before me now, the pen is in my hand
The words don’t come so easy but I’m trying
I’m searching for a melody or some forgotten line
They can slip away from us so quickly

Writers block and running out of creative ideas. It’s real and it can happen.

And from about 3.22, the progressive side of the band kicks in and I’m loving it.

People Of The South Wind

There are some who can still remember
All the things that we used to do
But the days of our youth were numbered
And the ones who survive it are few

History has shown how white people have displaced the native people from the lands. Each continent is littered with the blood of innocents.

People of the south wind, people of the southern wind
It’s the people of the wind, I got to be there again

What a chorus!

With the brass background instruments and what not, the song could have been on any pop album. Hell, they should have given it to Chicago to record.

Angels Have Fallen

Written by Steve Walsh, it has enough pop and enough progressive themes to satisfy both fan bases.

Children are restless they know what can happen when men are vain

The children are restless today, sick and tired of being targets, they have taken to the streets, demonstrating for gun reform.

People are talking maybe you know them, they know you’re near
Masking themselves from fear and asking themselves who their friends are

Even though the words are from 1979, they are as relevant today as they were back then.

Really dig the heavy and progressive riffs from 3.11 to 4.14.

How My Soul Cries Out

What a groove to jam on, very much in the style of Rainbow and it’s another Walsh penned song.

How my soul cries out for you
It cries for love that we once knew

A Glimpse Of Home

Another cool song with good vocal melodies and progressive overtones written by Livgren.

Lyrically, I think it sums up his transition to Christianity with lines such as, “now you are here once again, as I stand in your presence” or “All my life I knew you were waiting, revelation anticipating, all is well, the search is over, let the truth be known, Let it be shown (give me a glimpse of home)”.

Van Halen – Van Halen II

Van Halen’s second album hit the streets in 1979. I didn’t hear it until the late 80’s. I know, unbelievable, right. But music was expensive and access wasn’t like it is these days where you have the history of music at your fingertips.

You’re No Good

I heard Van Halen’s cover before I heard the original. Yes, I know, it’s sacrilegious, but man, I dig the sleazy rock groove the Van Halen brothers and Michael Anthony create.

Dance The Night Away

The cowbell drum intro and then the E major key riff.

How good is the riff?

Every great song in my opinion is underpinned by a great riff and I spent a many days dancing the night away trying to figure it out.

Somebody Get Me A Doctor

What about the intro chords. Do you reckon Dee Snider was listening to this and used them for “You Can’t Stop Rock’N’Roll.

Actually all of the riffs in this song are at another level. Get me a doctor indeed.

Bottoms Up

Before we got “Hot For Teacher”, we got “Bottoms Up” and before “Bottoms Up”, we had ZZ Top’s “La Grange”.

Outta Love Again

Like the other songs before it, it’s the riffs from EVH that makes this song happen.

So many of the 80’s bands used VHII as a template to borrow from. So I guess we should call in the lawyers and start suing.

Light Up From The Sky

I hate Roth’s vocal melodies and lyrics (actually I like the end vocal melody when they repeat “Light Up The Sky” about 4 times), however the music from EVH is excellent and that solo section followed by a drum solo groove works so well.

I used the riffs in this song as a template for a lot of songs I wrote.

D.O.A

EVH has taken “You Really Got Me” and made it his own with D.O.A.

Woman In Love

Those harp harmonics in the intro made me realise that as much as I tried to learn all the guitar hero techniques, they would never be part of my expressive style. From time to time I would bring out finger tapping, harp harmonics, whammy bar dives, sweep picking and in the 90’s, my set up had a DigiTech whammy pedal so I could mimic Tom Morello.

And that outro is excellent.

Beautiful Girls

I love the bluesy groove which a lot of 80’s bands used to platinum success.

She had her drink in her hand , She had her toes in the sand and whoa! Ha, ha, What a beautiful girl, ah yeah

Only Diamond Dave could come up with lines like that.

Rainbow – Down To Earth

Ritchie Blackmore’s influence to metal and rock music is god like. Not only did he inspire guitarists, he even inspired vocalists. The vocalists he worked with are considered legends and influential to the 80’s generation of singers that came through. Ian Gillian, David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio. Then in the 80’s he worked with Graham Bonnett and Joe Lynn Turner. A lot of respect is given to the Dio led version of the band and less praise to the commercial years of the band with different vocalists, in this case, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner.

The band on this album is top notch as well. You have Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Graham Bonnet on vocals, Cozy Powell on drums, Roger Glover on bass and Don Airey on keyboards.

I wish I heard this album in the mid 80’s because the guitar playing and song writing grooves are just the way I like it. It would have been an awesome album to unpack and learn in my early years of guitar playing.

All Night Long

Another iconic Blackmore riff, but the lyrics about wanting a groupie to love all night long just didn’t connect with me.

Eyes Of The World

Another epic Rainbow song on an album designed to take over the charts. As always underpinned by a brilliant Blackmore riff.

Evil takes, evil kills
With no shame or concern

Money and greed is the real evil.

Since You Been Gone

Inspired by a “Louie Louie” riff and written by Russ Ballard, the song became an arena rock/car staple.

Danger Zone

It’s got Blackmore’s unique riffing all over the song and a wonderful classical solo section.

Lost In Hollywood

It starts off like Led Zep’s “Rock N Roll” and it has a guitar riff heavily influenced by it. It’s also listed as being written by Blackmore, Glover and Powell.

Love that outro.

Ain’t A Lot Of Love In The Heart Of Me

It’s from 2011’s Deluxe Edition extra tracks and it’s basically a re-write of the Coverdale/Blackmore penned “Mistreated” and it’s a pretty cool listen.

Cheap Trick – At Budokan’

The live album was bigger than Cheap Trick’s first three albums.

Big Eyes

I reckon the drum intro inspired “Run To The Hills” from Maiden.

I Want You To Want Me

With its “Baby, Please Don’t Go” vibe/influence.

Surrender

“This next one is the first song on our new album. It just came out this week and the song is called “Surrender””

This is the song that hooked me in.

Bands used to tour before the album even came out. Sometimes they would play songs that would appear on albums many years later. But the MTV era changed all that. Because the record labels controlled MTV, they finally had the power instead of the artist.

Foreigner – Head Games

Foreigner came into my life via “I Want To Know What Love Is”. It wasn’t until the 90’s and the second hand record shops that I picked up their earlier releases.

I wasn’t a fan of the singles “Dirty White Boy” and “Women”.

Love On The Telephone

The embryo heartbeat of melodic rock is right here. The song is written by Mick Jones and Lou Gramm.

I’ll Get Even with You

It’s written by Jones and it’s got a cool intro riff which hooks me in.

Head Games

The opener to Side 2 and another cut written by Gramm and Jones. The way the verse’s build with the bass and keyboards taking lead instead of the guitar. It’s AOR heaven to a tee. And how good are Lou Gramm’s vocal melodies.

Hearing it for the first time in the 90’s, I liked it then, and I still like it today. And the chorus sums up relationships to a tee…

Head games
It’s you and me baby
Head games
And I can’t take it anymore

The Angels – No Exit

From Australia.

Boy didn’t they resonate with the working blue collar steel workers and punks, merging their pub rock AC/DC vibe with the punk rock scene coming out of the UK.

Shadow Boxer

It’s raw, it’s punk and it’s from the streets about a person fighting imaginary enemies after too many brews.

Can’t Shake It

It’s basically “Long Way To The Top” put through “The Angels” blender.

Mr Damage

A punk rock ditty about death.

Mr Damage holds a curse
Mr Damage drives a hearse

ZZ Top – Cheap Sunglasses

It sold the album.

ZZ Top – Esther Be The One

It has a cool harmony outro lead which I dig and because of that lead, it’s staying in the list.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Refugee

The riff is brilliant and simple.

Then when the Chorus melody kicks in, you know it’s a song which will last forever.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Even The Losers

Yes, even the losers get lucky sometimes. There’s always a chance.

Robert Palmer – Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)

For those who lived the 80’s, this song was everywhere. Every cover band played it, every radio station played it and every music video TV show played it.

Musically, it’s a more polished AC/DC sound infused with Robert Palmer’s golden pop voice.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)

It’s a brilliant song to play on guitar and the iconic line of “It’s better to burn out than fade away” appears in the song.

John Lennon hated it, Kurt Cobain signed his suicide note with it and all Neil Young was trying to do was capture the rock and roll spirit of living in the now.

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

Dream Child

“Until Death We Meet Again” is the album.

Since Ronnie James Dio’s death, a few bands have popped up from ex-members that pay homage to his style of songwriting.

For “Dream Child”, Craig Goldy is on guitars, Rudy Sarzo is on bass, Simon Wright is on drums, Wayne Findlay on keys and singer Diego Valdez who is really underrated. You also have other Goldy projects in “Dio Disciples” and “Resurrection Kings”.

And on the other side, you have “Last In Line” which has Vinny Appice on drums, Vivian Campbell on guitar, Andrew Freeman on vocals and Phil Soussan taking over on bass after the passing of Jimmy Bain.

Of course, any retro sounding metal/rock band has Frontiers Music president, Serafino Perugino as the protagonist to get the ball rolling. Only “Dio Disciples”, who have a deal with BMG for an album of original material are not on Frontiers Music.

But the real secret sauce behind all of these Frontiers Music projects is songwriter and producer Alessandro Delvecchio. He is a very underrated songwriter. If you listened to “Revolution Saints”, well Delvecchio is all over those albums. If you listen to “Resurrection Kings”, he’s also involved with that. The same for “Dream Child”.

To be honest I don’t really remember any Goldy projects post Dio and suddenly he has three bands in motion.

It’s a symptom of the times.

Artists might blame file sharing and streaming payments however the truth is the recording business was way overdue for a price reset, the same way the housing market prices are reset when the bubble bursts. Eventually the recording business will return to profit. It takes time. And the artist will make a profit again but it takes songs.

And the biggest issue for any artist is getting their songs heard. There is no MTV or various magazines, pushing the marketing of the band like the Eighties. There is the noise of the internet and man it’s noisy.

If artists think Blabbermouth, Loudwire, Sleaze Roxx, Melodic Rock or any other like minded site will market their album, then they are in for a nasty surprise.

The artists are in control and they should be assessing how are they making a connection with a fan.

I’ve heard the album on Spotify. I’ve actually heard in six times and I have six songs I like.

“Under The Wire”, “You Can’t Take Me Down”, “Games Of Shadows”, “Playing With Fire”, “Light Of The Dark” and “Until Death Do We Meet Again”.

A connection is made.

Will I purchase the CD?

No.

Because I’m waiting. I’m waiting to see what comes next.

If I go back to the 80’s, I didn’t buy “Holy Diver”, however it was the album which made the connection. “The Last In Line” was the album I purchased. I skipped “Sacred Heart” and “Dream Evil” purely because I selected to buy other records with the limited funds I had but I did pick up “Lock Up The Wolves”. Other fans will have their own unique experience.

Eventually I would purchase all of the records but that was well into the Nineties.

Again each fans experience is unique.

So when it comes to Dream Child, I’m interested. What comes next is up to the artist.

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

Wicked Sensation

“Great songs, great chemistry and a great vocalist are much more important than state of the art guitar playing. I hate to say it, but it’s true. The song must always come first, the guitar work is secondary”.

George Lynch said the above in the Hal Leonard guitar transcription book of the “Wicked Sensation” album from Lynch Mob.

George Lynch was huge in my guitar learning days and to be honest, he is still huge even to this day.

I devour each release and man he has made a lot of them since 2005. He is one of the hardest working musicians around on par with Myles Kennedy and Marc Tremonti. Apart from making music, he makes his own hand made guitars, does clinics and produces bands.

One thing that stood out on the “Wicked Sensation” album is Lynch’s rhythm work. It surpasses all of his previous efforts from a guitar point of view.

In between Dokken and Lynch Mob, Lynch was taking lessons at GIT and you can tell, as his use of different chord voicings is on the trigger. Another thing that also stands out is less distortion. Too much distortion can hide sloppy playing and on this album, Lynch has dialed back the distortion knob from a 10 to about 6.

Wicked Sensation

It starts the album in typical Lynch fashion with a riff influenced by his Dokken days. It’s a galloping, sleazy and groovy C#m riff with a descending note pattern on the D string, which is perfect for Oni Logan to lay down his vocal melody.

In the Pre-Chorus, Lynch arpeggiates a Bsus4, then a Asus2 chord, leaving the open B and E strings shimmering in the vein of Alex Lifeson from Rush, before moving to a F#m groove.

And Oni Logan is singing about moving in and out and oh, how it feels so good.

The Chorus riff is an amalgamation of the intro riff for three bars and a F#m octave pattern for the fouth bar. And how sleazy is the foot stomping riff at the end when Oni is singing “gotta give in, gotta put it out”.

In the solo there is this tapping section which goes from 2.51 to 2.55. It’s only four fucking seconds but it’s those four seconds that showed me that Lynch had transcended the 80s and moved into some serious Maestro territory.

I’ll try to explain it the best I can.

On the high E string, Lynch taps the 14th fret, then the 15th fret and pulls off to the 14th fret and then pulls off to the 12th fret and 9th fret. Lynch repeats this legato lick and moves it up a step chromatically a few times before he descends. He hardly uses the pick here and it’s all his left hand doing the work.

It’s fast, but man it’s got melody and feeling. Play that solo section slower and you will understand what I mean. It’s like a classical masterpiece.

To show that he has transcended his Dokken days, after the solo section, there is this Jazzy and funky style breakdown which feels super loose but still played with such precision.

The song then morphs back into the Chorus with a plethora of Lynch fills to round it out.

Up and down and in and out in deed.

Standard
Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Utopia Records

It had the motto “The Home Of Heavy Metal” and for a long time it was my home.

I first visited the store when it was located in Martin Place, Sydney. It was basically a tiny hole in a wall. Actually the first location in Martin Place was from 1978 to 1980 and the second location in Martin Place was from 1980 to 1990. The second place is the one that I remember.

As mentioned it was tiny, but packed with metal and rock vinyl from every band I could ever imagine and more.

I’d never seen pictured vinyl before, well Utopia had them. I’d never seen 12 inch singles of metal bands before, well Utopia had them as well. And those yellow and black plastic bags with the logo and branding proved to be a badge of honor. It’s like we got patched in to the club the same way bike gangs patch in their members.

I remember the stories about the owner, how he couldn’t get a job at other Sydney record stores and he borrowed some money from his Dad, imported some boxes of vinyl, got himself a business partner and the rest is history.

Then from 1990 to 1995, they moved to Clarence Street, Sydney, not too far from the original shop. Instead of getting off at Martin Place, I would get off at Wynard.

It was bigger but below street level. Actually you walked in at street level and proceeded to go down a few flights of stairs. If I didn’t go up to visit, I ordered via mail. Lynch Mob’s “Wicked Sensation” on LP and Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” on CD are two purchases i distinctly remember via mail.

I waited in line for a Sepultura meet and greet because my cousin Mega was a fan of the band. He took in his battered snare skin for signing. Even Igor the Sepultura drummer was impressed at the brutality of the snare skin.

Hours would be spent here and some big decisions would be made as to what to buy between my cousin and I. Then as soon as we got back to my cousins house I would dub the records he purchased and he would dub the records I purchased.

From 1995 to 2001, they moved to George Street, Sydney next to Hungry Jacks and then from 2001 to 2006 they moved across the road under the cinemas. For these stores I would get off at Town Hall.

Again, another step up in size and a lot of my money went Utopias way.

Between 2001 and 2003 I was working as an Insurance Broker in Sydney, about a 10 minute walk from the George Street store and I got a few of my band mates and some metal friends jobs with the same company.

Even though we had corporate haircuts and wore three piece suits, you couldn’t take the metal out of us metalheads. Twice a week we would venture into the store and of course we would get some funny looks like what the fuck are these guys doing here. But we always purchased something. After about a month it was the norm to be seen there in a suit.

But for some of the stuff I was after, the prices did border on the ridiculous. I remember the John Sykes solo albums listed as Japanese Imports and they had $50 on them. I already had downloaded them via Napster but wanted the originals. I got em eventually via Amazon in 2010.

And for the music I was seeking, the second hand shops, the record fairs and other smaller independent shops started to prove better value. Because the bigger Utopia got, the uniqueness culture it cultivated got lost.

Eventually online and especially Amazon proved to be the place to go and purchase what I needed. That was until Amazon closed their US site recently to us Aussies because they didn’t want to charge GST and the Aussie Amazon site is a total waste of space.

The last time I walked into Utopia was at an address on Broadway in Sydney. I actually drove to this store and parked at The Broadway Shopping Centre.

They occupied this store between 2006 to 2010. By then I felt it was a shadow of itself. Peer to peer downloading was at full swing. I still purchased some albums because that’s what I do but it felt weird being there. It felt barren and totally void of the culture that made Utopia popular.

But during this time they did things differently by having live bands in store and battle of the bands contests. They kept it going. They kept the name in the conversation.

From 2010, they have been at their Kent Street address and I haven’t been.

I either purchase from the bands directly these days those super deluxe box sets or I stream. And on Record Store Day, there is a shop locally called Music Farmers that stock the releases I’m always after.

But I will return, because that’s what us Metal fans do.

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

The One You Loved Is Gone

What a solo from Slash! Actually two solos.

But it’s the middle one that hooks me.

It’s one of those moments that brings a smile to my face. You feel the emotion in the phrasing and the note bends. It’s on par with his “Estranged”, “November Rain”, “Sweet Child O Mine”, “Civil War” and “Don’t Cry” solos.

The way Slash starts off the solo in the lower register playing G major pentatonic notes in the open string position, then sliding up to the 5th fret position of the scale and finishing up on the 10th fret position of the scale. It’s a lesson on using the modes of the scale and a lesson in constructing a solo to any wannabe guitarist.

Each time he moves up the neck it’s by sliding and he bends the fuck out of those notes either half a step or a full step.

And this is where Slash is a natural.

He bends the string before he picks it, so when he does pick the string, the listener hears the bent note first and then when Slash eases off the pressure on the string, the listener then hears the natural note. This is a special skill as Slash must know the right pressure to apply to the string to achieve the right pitch for the bent note.

For example, Slash will have his finger on the 7th fret on the G string. This is a D note. But what he will do is to bend the string so the listener hears the E note first. And then he will release the pressure so the listener hears the D note.

Other guitarists will pick the D note and bend up to the E note and back. It’s easier as you hear the D note and your ears can guide the bend to the E note.

But Slash, while he also employs this technique goes a step further and pre bends to the E note and when he picks it, it’s spot on the pitch.

Of course Slash isn’t the first to this. But he is the one we are talking about now.

And that acoustic intro where Slash takes an open C chord shape and plays it on the 10th fret of the 5th string to make a G chord and then he plays an open G chord on the 10th fret of the 6th string. It’s brilliant and again, he’s not the first to play open string chord shapes higher up on the neck but he does it in such an assessable way.

This combination between Slash and Myles is musically excellent. And yeah, it might sound like an Alter Bridge song, but that solo is 100% pure grade Slash.

Standard