Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Guitar World – August 1991

It’s November 1991 and the August 1991 “Guitar World” magazine hits the newsstands in Australia. It’s strange for people these days to understand because everything is available instantly today but once upon a time in the past, the US and European magazines came to Australia, three months after they got released.

So Scotti Hill and Dave Sabo from Skid Row are on the cover.

Skid Row were on top of the charts around the world with the release of “Slave To The Grind”. Even in Australia the album was in the Top 10, while the singles didn’t really make a dent.

They would eventually hit Australia with GNR in January 1993 for the “Use Your Illusion” tour, and play a set of 7 songs.

They kicked off with “Slave To The Grind” and went into “Monkey Business” which had a longer intro with a lead break. “Mudkicker” was up next, “Get The Fuck Out” and then “18 And Life” which also had a longer intro with a lead break and a longer outro with a lead break.

“I Remember You” came next and “Youth Gone Wild” closed the set, which had a crowd singalong after the solo, 20,000 plus people at an outdoor venue singing, “they call us problem child, we spend our lives on trial, we are the youth gone wild”.

Plus there was a lot of talking in between and passing around of glass beer bottles in the audience courtesy of Sebastian Bach, who was the source of the glass bottles, even when glass bottles were banned.

In the top right hand corner there is a picture of EVH with the title, “Exclusive Private Lesson, Hot Licks from The New Album”.

Van Halen dropped the excellent FUCK album in June 1991, a return to heavy guitar distortion for EVH and acoustic drums for AVH.

Nuno Bettencourt interviews Brian May and the magazine made sure it mentioned “Queen’s Brian May”. Because for a whole new generation of young guitarists, Queen was becoming irrelevant. The presumption was, that everyone knew Nuno Bettencourt because of “More Than Words” and no one knew that Brian May is the guitarist in Queen.

But a few things happened which brought Queen back into the public.

Freddie Mercury died in November, 1991.

Wayne’s World the movie came out in February 1992 and “Bohemian Rhapsody” re-entered the charts because of that car scene.

Then there was “The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert” in April 1992, which had Metallica, Extreme, Def Leppard, U2 and Guns N Roses appearing. Then Queen hit the stage for a 21 song set featuring guest singers and musicians.

Fast forward to 2020 and there is no doubt about Queen.

Extreme (Nuno’s main band) just didn’t recover from some poor album sales and the loss of their lead singer to the VHIII album. And it took them years to get back together to write new music and people had just moved on. Plus their crossover hit got them sales, but it didn’t really get the band any lifelong fans. Further proof that a sale does not equal a fan.

And it’s no surprise that “More Than Words” has almost 272 million streams on Spotify, while the other songs in the Top 5 have less than 7.5 million streams.

There is a round table discussion of the Titans tour, with Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax talking. Then there is an exclusive lesson on “How To Play Thrash”. Lars Ulrich was really interested in this tour and a bit pssed that he didn’t think of it and do it first or that Metallica was invited. Eventually he did organise it and called it “The Big 4”. Now he can rest easily.

R.E.M’s Peter Buck is interviewed and so are the Kentucky Headhunters who I still haven’t listened to. And I didn’t even read those interviews because there was a lot of rock and metal in here for me to digest.

Kyle Kyle has a small section, talking about “Dancin On Coals”, Bang Tango’s new album.

Plus there are the usual reviews.

Billy Squier’s “Creatures of Habit” got 3 starts out of 5, with the reviewer mentioning how “most of Creatures Of Habit” suffers from “Spot The Riff” syndrome.

Aldo Nova’s “Blood On The Bricks” got 2 stars out of 5 for two good songs, the title track and a Joe Walsh inspired song called “This Ain’t Love”.

Contraband also got 2 starts out of 5, with the comment, “strangely, the band sounds more like a typical young rock group-average to the point of sounding average”.

The 4 songs transcribed are;
Megadeth – Hanger 18
This is one of my favourite Megadeth songs, and the way Dave Mustaine took his arpeggio riff from “The Call of Ktulu”, amped it up, double timed it and created a classic song in the process.

Warrant – Uncle Tom’s Cabin
This is one of Warrant’s best songs. The serious subject matter probably scared off the Cherry Piers but hey, no one said that music was pretty.

Queen – We Will Rock You
This is more known for its foot stomp and clap groove than for any music, but there is music in this song and the magazine dedicated one page to transcribing it.

Chris Issak – Wicked Game
Stone Sour covered this song recently, and my second child likes it. You couldn’t avoid Chris Issak during this period as he was a number one artist in Australia.

Of course the magazine is sealed shut in a plastic sleeve so the only thing I can do is either buy it based on the cover or move on to something cheaper and printed in Australian.

Designing a cover (magazine, newspaper, album, new product) is an art form.

And I open up the magazine and on page 1, is Mr Big bassist, Billy Sheehan, advertising his Yamaha “Attitude” bass. Attitude all the way from Sydney to Thunder Bay.

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

I Remember You

The youth went wild for Skid Row, in the same way they went wild six years ago for Judas Priest, Van Halen, Scorpions, Quiet Riot, Ratt and Motley Crue. And Sebastian Bach went even wilder, trying to give a piece of himself to everyone who pissed him off.

And then they dropped “I Remember You”. A hit, with almost 72 million streams on Spotify, which would evolve to in-fighting and to things falling apart.

Skid Row opened for GNR on the “Use Your Illusion” tour. When they played in Australia, there were so many rules about drinking and glass bottles at concerts.

So Sebastian Bach brings out a case of beer and starts singing, 24 bottles of beer in the box, pass one down, pass it around, 23 bottles of beer in the box.

And im thinking, what the..

This is the dude who jumped into the audience, knocked an innocent girl senseless, started swinging with another audience member, all because a glass bottle was thrown towards the stage and it hit him in the head at a US gig. And now he is handing out glass bottles to the crowd.

It was all in good taste and a bit of fun on a very hot Sydney day. But I also saw a very worried tour manager getting a few of the roadies into the crowd to retrieve these glass bottles. And of course GNR took forever to come on next.

I digress.

It’s a relationship song. Lyrically it didn’t connect, but musically it did.

The simple G to C chord progression is a staple progression of country, pop and rock songs. “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” has the same chord progression.

And it has a great title. For me, it didn’t have to be about a relationship, it could have been about a friendship, about a band, about a street, about a place, about a summer event. It could even be a love song from an artist to their audience.

And that’s how I see the song.

Remembering a moment in time.

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

Round And Round

In Australia, you could say that this song was Ratt’s breakthrough and peak.

It was also the start of the new bands taking over from the Seventies acts. You had Judas Priest, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden leading the British invasion. Quiet Riot and Motley Crue started the LA invasion, and a new breed like RATT cemented it. Suddenly all of the NWOBHM acts, needed to get glammier to stay in touch and they needed to have band members do backing vocals.

Ratt was a music video band for me at the start. “Round and Round” was played on the TV music shows all the time and I always had a blank VHS tape ready, with my finger on the record button.

What a riff to get things going?

It’s big, hooky and melodic. It’s also a riff which is good enough to please the metal and rock audiences.

And those verse lyrics about meeting on the streets resonated instantly, because it summed up how life and society operated in those days.

Now we are or will be in lockdown because of COVID-19. There will be no meeting on the streets.

Those hand shakes and hand greets we always did, will be no more, once we are through the pandemic.

I re-watched the Contagion movie last night and it’s pretty eerie how similar it is to what we are experiencing. One of the CDC scientists Cheevers (played by Laurence Fishbourne) talks about handshakes. He goes that handshakes came about by people offering their right hand out to show that they weren’t carrying a weapon.

It was a symbol of peace and today it’s laced with transmission.

Anyway I digress.

Out on the streets that’s where we meet was the catch-cry and we did meet. We abused ourselves and crossed lines and did it again the next day and the next week.

And somewhere along the way we found a partner who wanted the same things. And round and round we went.

Finally, how good is that harmony lead break?

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

Rock Me

Great White began their career in the early 80’s with “Out Of The Night”. Then EMI signed em, released an album and didn’t really know what to do with the band, so they dropped em and then Capitol records got em on the books.

In 1987, “Once Bitten” their third album, got the platinum treatment and they went on tour in the U.S with Whitesnake. Then “Twice Shy” followed in 1989 and this led to more platinum sales and their own successful headline tour.

By 1991, most of the world was heading into recessions, and the hard rock public was getting a bit jaded with the same lyrical themes and sound-a-like chord progressions of hard rock. So “Hooked” didn’t really set the charts alight.

“Psycho City” came out in 1993, and by then band members had left, band members had marriages and divorces and illnesses. And hard rock was not a commercial force anymore, but bands who had success before, wanted the same success. And so did the record labels, but when this didn’t eventuate, it was goodbye to the record deal and hello to arguments within band members.

“Rock Me” came out at the same time as “Appetite For Destruction”, maybe it got lost in the noise, but it still got a lot of airplay in Australia, and I’m thinking its blues tinged hard rock definitely hit a note with the programmers and Australian audiences.

The bass boogie kicks it off.

The drums are simple, high hats for some time, slowly percolating until the right moment to explode in the chorus. And the guitars are just decorating, until it comes time for them to explode as well.

Rock me
Rock me
Roll me through the night

How good is the Chorus?

And when you think the song is about to finish, they pick it up and blast in to an outro solo for the last minute. At 7 minutes long, the blues boogie doesn’t gets boring.

Today, it has 7 million listens on Spotify and the 5 minute music video has 12 million views on YouTube. The song is forgotten compared to the numbers other songs have, but if you were alive during this period, it was a song from our youth.

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

Unknown Heroes

For every guitarist that makes it, there are a lot of well-known guitarists who have a large impact on their development and style. And there are also a lot of guitarists who didn’t make it out of the club/pub circuit, who despite never attaining platinum albums, inspired a generation of guitarists to pick the guitar and rock like hell.

Dave Sabo and Scott Hill kept talking about several unknown musicians from New Jersey who inspired them to rock and roll. These hometown guitar heroes and the thousands of other gifted musicians who play in cover bands, one man shows, who teach, who jam in their rooms and once in a while break out the electric to inspire their kids or grandkids, these people we don’t know about are nothing short of legendary.

And the same goes to the blogging community who share their stories and experiences around the music they love. Even though they are unknown, they are all legendary.

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

Lazy Days, Crazy Nights

It pisses me off that “The Great Radio Controversy” has been removed from Spotify Australia but “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights” is still available via the “Gold” compilation album. But so many other good songs are not available.

How good is the intro?

It’s a simply Amadd9 to Cmaj7 chord progression over a static and ringing fretted E and open B note. It sounds heavy, because of its dirgey groove. Bands like Alice In Chains built a career with grooves like these.

I’m feelin’ so much better, but not quite feelin’ fine

We are unique creatures. overwhelmed by choice. The internet keeps us connected forever. We see a feed or a post on social media and we think someone is having or living a better life than us. So we sit down, set goals for ourselves and we feel great. And then we achieve what we set out to do and then set new goals. The cycle keeps repeating and we think we are so much better, but we still feel a bit uneasy.

Now, I’ve got to get my shit together,

Do we ever get our act together?

We like to think so, but in reality all we do is replace one thing with another. One paid debt is replaced by another. One relationship is superseded or replaced by another. One addiction is replaced by another. Knowledge we accumulated 10 years ago is replaced by new knowledge from now.

Then the Chorus riff rolls around and it’s a 101 lesson in how to write hard rock riffs, as it boogies between the A to G notes that so many songs of the era used.

But I love those lazy days and crazy nights, It’s my way, it’s my life.

I like the night. I am in my element and I feel creative when night rolls around. When I was unemployed, I used to sleep in. It’s why Slaughter’s “Up All Night” resonated with me.

The problem for me now, is that my days are not so lazy anymore. They are so crazy that my nights start to become a snooze fest because of tiredness. Getting older it’s more like “crazy days and sleepy nights, it’s my way, it’s my life”.

Regardless, hearing those lines when I was younger, it made me want to sing-along and scream those words at the top of my lungs.

I love those lazy days and crazy nights, It’s my way, it’s my life.

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

Paradise City

We have all read the stories and formed stories ourselves about how grunge came along and replaced hard rock, hair bands, glam rock, glam metal and metal in general. But it never did really replace it. The major record labels abandoned most of the rock and metal acts who had marginal success, so from a commercial sense, hard rock and metal music was absent from the mainstream. But it was still there.

A long time ago, Led Zeppelin was seen as a heavy metal act and Black Sabbath was even more extreme. Today, Sabbath’s sound is like Playschool compared to what other metal bands sound like. But there was a period when rock did dominate.

And Guns N Roses via “Appetite For Destruction” gave rock music a few more years of mainstream success, because the labels had already saturated the market with Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Ratt and Poison copy like bands. Up next, the labels started signing Guns N Roses copy like bands, like Skin N Bones.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the hit, but every GnR fan loves “Paradise City”. It’s the closer of Side 1, when sequencing vinyl records was an art form in itself. Each side had to open with an awesome cut, and close with an awesome cut.

GNR had been gigging for a while around L.A, via Hollywood Rose and the other bands the members were in before GnR became a band. Slash even auditioned for Poison and Stryper during these periods. But there was hype and then a record deal and then the album eventually came out. 

And nothing. 

It wasn’t a failure, but it didn’t set the sales and charts alight from the outset.

Then MTV played “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. And the album got a second wind, sort of like how “Hysteria” got a second wind on the back of “Love Bites”.

“Welcome To The Jungle” came back into the charts, and then the seven minute live video of “Paradise City” dropped, with Axl in the white jacket which Lars Ulrich got a few years later and James Hetfield kept hassling him about it.

Anyway back to the paradise city where the girls are pretty. The opening arpeggio chords of G, C, F, C – G of the song with the “We Will Rock You” influenced drum pattern gets your attention immediately. When Slash starts that Em Pentatonic solo, you can only smile, and you’re thinking it’s this Southern Rock style of song.

Then the whistle blows. 

And all hell breaks loose. 

That Chromatic riff that comes in is bone crunching and head banging material. Wikipedia tells me it’s based on “Zero The Hero” from the Black Gillan album “Born Again”.

If that riff was in a Slayer or Machine Head or Metallica song, it would be circle pit time. And those descriptive storybook lyrics set the scene so nicely.

Just a urchin livin’ under the street, I’m a hard case that’s tough to beat

I’m your charity case so buy me something to eat, I’ll pay you at another time

“Welcome To The Jungle” part 2. It’s the same theme, coming to the Sunset Strip, looking for people to hook up with, especially women, who would look after you. Motley Crue did the same.

Rags to riches or so they say, Ya gotta keep pushin’ for the fortune and fame

So many pushed for fortune and fame, but only so few made it. And the ones who made it, didn’t end up staying there for long. Only for a brief moment. But for that moment, they ruled.

And then the song gets even crazier with its double time ending,

Slash soloing and Steve Adler basically breaking his drum kit in the process.

And this song was released as a single in 1989, almost two years after the album was released. If you needed evidence of the power of this album, then look no further than this single release.

Take me back to the paradise city, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty.

Yes please.