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

The Record Vault – A Perfect Circle

It was a 5 skulls out of 5 skulls review in the Hot Metal mag I used to buy, which at this time became known as “HM” as the term “Metal” was uncool to use. And since I’ve always agreed with that reviewer in the past, I forked out the $24 for the debut CD.

Also before I purchased, I knew that Tool vocalist, Maynard Keenen was doing vocals and how guitar technician to the alt-rock bands, Billy Howerdel had all the music written.

“The Hollow” starts the album and the first thing that hooks me is the vocal melodies of Maynard over the soundtrack like music from Howerdel and a song structure which doesn’t really follow convention, like the verses have different music in each verse, while the melody remains the same.

“Judith” has a groove riff which gets the head banging, and when the riff is repeated in the lower registers for the verses, I was ready to break desks. Then when the pre-chorus and chorus kick in, I was trying to break desks, but somehow my kung-fu skills deserted me. And that pre – chorus;

Fuck your God
Your Lord and your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, you never stray
Never taste of the fruit
You never thought to question why

“Orestes” is my favourite track on the album. The vocal melody from Maynard is like a lead guitar and the drumming in the song, especially in the outro by Josh Freese is a testament in its own right. And when the lead from Billy Howerdel comes in, its like a vocal melody as well.

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue that’s
Keeping me from killing you

“3 Libras” has this outro vocal line where Maynard sings “you don’t, you don’t see me” and the octave guitars from Howerdel support it, while drummer Freese continues his improvisation in outros.

“Thomas” is okay, but when that outro comes in from about the 2.49 mark, it elevates the song. “Renholder” has a “Diary Of A Madman” like intro which hooks me. Actually, the band used to merge “Diary Of A Madman” with “Love Song” from The Cure.

“Brena” which when sang is “Brenya” is another one of those atmospheric songs in the verses with a crashing chorus and a vocal line that sounds like a lead instrument. And again, those outros make you want to press repeat.

And the debut album was huge.

Then in 2003, came “Thirteenth Step”. And it was different, even more experimental and progressive. While the debut had the songs nice and concise and around the 4 minute mark, this one had longer songs.

Even the writing was different. The debut album had all the music done, and Maynard just added vocals. On this album, Howerdel was sending music ideas to Maynard while he was on tour with Tool for the excellent “Lateralus” album and they collaborated in that fashion.

“The Package” at 7 minutes in length kicks the album off and it’s a subdued opener, building on drum patterns each minute at a time. It was like a Tool song.

And I’m thinking, where is this all going?

And it’s not until the 4 minute mark that the distortion guitars come crashing in.

When artists follow their own path, and write what they want to write and not what a label A&R rep tells em, well, it’s what I love about music.

After been taken on a different journey with the opener, the “Weak And Powerless” track brings back some familiarity, as it’s a throwback to the debut album.

“The Noose” brings it back to feel of the opening track. But the chorus vocal melody from Maynard gives me goose bumps and sets it apart from the opening track.

“The Outsider” is my favourite track. I used to cover it, in a band I was in, between 2004 and 2005. Musically it was fun to play and the heaviness in the second verse, is head banging stuff.

I also like “Pet” purely for its heaviness in the intro and chorus and the quiet of the verses. And that lyric, “slave to the rhythm of a new world order”.

Then came eMOTIVe, a covers album, but done in a way which is unique to A Perfect Circle.

Like the opening track “Annihilation”, which is a cover from a hardcore band called “Crucifix” however it’s played very quietly via a piano and the vocals are whispered. Then they cover “Imagine” from John Lennon and it stands on its own as A Perfect Circle song.

Elvis Costello’s “Peace Love and Understanding” is unrecognisable by the “APC reinterpretation morphing” machine. Even “Whats Going On” from Marvin Gaye, gets the APC morph.

But the best song on the album is “Passive” which is an original and a co-write with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails.

And since then, it was a long gap between albums.

Billy Howerdel released a solo album under the band name, “Ashes Divide” which was excellent. Maynard was part of another Tool release in 2006 and then the long wait for a new Tool album started as well (which is scheduled for this year). In between, Maynard had another side project called “Puscifier”.

And the next APC album “Eat The Elephant” came out in 2018 and a few songs stuck out like “The Doomed”. But I havent committed too much time to it.

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

The Record Vault – Art Of Dying

I downloaded the “Vices and Virtues” (released in 2011) album via torrents and it connected with me straight away, so I had to have it in my collection.

If I can get through this I can get through anything

It’s a brilliant simple lyric from the song “Get Thru This”. The situation in front of you seems to get the better of you and not in a good way sometimes.

At the time, I had wrecked my foot in an accident and had surgery to put in screws and pins. I had a lot of swelling, limping and physio.

Then all the cartilage grew back, I was walking fine and suddenly the screws and pins started to cause problems. So I was under the blade again to get the pins and screws taken out and again I had more swelling, more limping and more physio.

To top it off, I had an ex band member put in claims with the publisher that they wrote songs which I wrote and somehow the onus was on me to prove it, not on the ones who put in the fake claims. Go figure.

And for some good news my wife told me she was pregnant with our third child.

I am doing the best I can with everything I am, Don’t you know nobody’s perfect,

Do you understand how hard I’m trying to do the best I can

From the song “Best I Can”.

I fear that social media is changing how people act. Facebook either has someone having fun with friends or on a holiday or out and about in town. And the people sitting at home feel they need to respond to that with their own posts of doing the same thing.

So the cycle of being perfect starts and when does it end. Because no one can be perfect forever.

“Die Trying” has a lyric line, “I would rather fail than not know”.

Don’t be scared people to try and fail. It’s the only way you grow and learn and become the person you should be.

An acoustic album came out in 2012, and then there was a four year wait between original music which is way too long in the current market because I lost the band in the noise and in the plethora of releases I was sinking my ears into.

But I did reconnect with the “Nevermore” (Acoustic) EP. I’m interested again, what comes next is up to the band.

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

Whitesnake – Flesh And Blood

David Coverdale has been releasing music for 45 years. And not just rehashes or remixes of old music (which he is also doing and doing a brilliant job at it, with all the demos and works in progress recordings), but new music as well.

I didn’t think I would enjoy “Flesh And Blood”, as I didn’t really get into “Forevermore”, expect for the title track and I can’t really remember a track from “Good To Be Bad”. But on “Flesh And Blood”, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra deliver, and along with Coverdale, they wrote some good tunes.

Now if you are picking this up to hear Coverdale sing like he did in the 80’s, it ain’t gonna happen. His voice has aged and he sings to his constraints.

“Shut Up And Kiss Me” has got some serious riffage (the song is written by Reb Beach and David Coverdale) and as I mentioned, DC’s vocals are changing as he gets older, he still delivers a sleazy bluesy verse and an anthemic chorus. But it’s the music which hooks me in, and that section with the lyric line “when you stand close to me” is perfect.

“Hey You (You Make Me Rock)” also has some serious riffage. This one is written by Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra and David Coverdale. The verses have this “When The Levee Breaks” groove which is addictive and DC’s vocals sound psychedelic as he builds up into another anthemic chorus. And the lead break on this one, is as good as any lead break from the 87 album.

“Always and Forever” is written by David Coverdale. The harmony guitars and the vocal delivery remind me of Thin Lizzy, and the connection to another artist, elevates the song straight away in my book.

“When I Think Of You (Colour Me Blue)” reminds me of “Wonderful Tonight” from Eric Clapton. And again, the connection to a previous song, elevates this song. Kudos to David Coverdale for letting his influences shine through.

“Trouble Is Your Middle Name” is written by David Coverdale and Joel Hoekstra and the opening riff is enough to hook me in, while police sirens scream in the background.

How much trouble could this woman be?

And that guitar solo in the song. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

“Flesh And Blood” reminds me of “Don’t Tread” from Damn Yankees and the riffage is brilliant and the lead breaks are AAA rated.

One thing that a lot of people probably don’t know is that Coverdale is a good guitarist who has created some of the most iconic riffs ever.

You know that main riff in “Mistreated” from Deep Purple, well that was David Coverdale. You know those riffs in “Crying In The Rain”, yep, that’s David Coverdale as well. And there are many more.

“Well I Never” is another tune written by Coverdale and Hoekstra, which sounds as good as any pop song out these days.

“Heart Of Stone” is written by Coverdale and it’s a modern sounding ballad.

“Sands of Time” is written by Reb Beach and Coverdale and it’s Arabic sounding influence will draw comparisons to “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin, but man, this song is its own beast and one of the best Whitesnake tracks out there.

Lyrically, DC does what he normally does, talking about love and relationships.

But it’s the band that rocks, and the song writing that DC does with just Reb Beach, then with Joel Hoekstra and then with both and also by himself is what makes this album a varied and enjoyable listen.

I remember reading that Vivian Campbell left Whitesnake, because he saw that DC was only interested in writing with Adrian Vandenberg for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album. Then when Doug Aldrich joined, the “Good To Be Bad” and “Forevermore” album had song writing just by DC and Aldrich.

For this one it’s back to 1984 and before versions of Whitesnake, with DC writing songs on his own as well and with DC writing songs with the other members, like the good old days.

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

The Record Vault – Apocalyptica

It was their Metallica covers which hooked me in and being a Metallica fan, their interpretation provided me with a greater appreciation for James Hetfield and his vocal melodies.

So “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos” is an excellent CD.

I then purchased the album “Cult” because I saw the song “Fight Fire With Fire” on the track list and I was like, “are you serious”, they covered this song with cellos. Curiosity was enough to get me to hand over cash. Plus they had “Until It Sleeps” as well, so it was a no brainer.

The first thing was the updated production and the distortion on the cellos on some sections. And the next thing is that these guys can write good originals. And finally, this band made me appreciate how haunting and epic “Until It Sleeps” really is. You need to hear it, to understand what I mean. And finally, finally, they pulled off “Fight Fire With Fire” at break neck speeds on cellos.

Since then I‘ve heard a few songs on other albums. “I Don’t Care” with Adam Gontier on vocals is an excellent track with a whole band along with the cellos.

And Spotify has their whole history on it. Enjoy it.

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

The Record Vault – Annihilator

It all started with my cousin, Mega (his nickname was short for Megadeth). He was one of those dudes that just stayed up and taped and taped and taped everything to do with metal and rock music doing the rounds on our local TV stations. One such clip he taped and played me was a song called “Alison Hell”. After he saw that I was interested in it, he told me he had the LP and if I want to copy it off him.

Lucky for me, I had a blank TDK tape handy, so it was a no brainer to get him to copy it.

Since it was a blank tape, I needed to fill up the B side and Mega had a lot of music which I didn’t have. As part of this day together, we also ended up watching the “Shocker” movie and of course, Mega also had the “Shocker” soundtrack on vinyl.

And yes, I was confused with the spelling. The album is called “Alice In Hell” so when I was writing down the track list, my cousin was reading it out to me from the album cover, so when he said “Alison Hell” for song 2, I heard “Alice In Hell” and was about to write that down.

The acoustic guitars of “Crystal-Ann” fills my headspace and the guitar playing technique is excellent and precise. I asked my cousin who the guitarist is and he reads out Jeff Waters from the liner notes. At that stage I’d never heard of him.

By the way, I wasn’t allowed to hold his album covers in case I wrecked em. Actually no one was allowed to touch Mega’s albums except Mega.

Then the evil sounding intro to “Alison Hell” kicks in and when the drums come, you know it’s desk breaking time. And it goes through so many changes and moods before the first verse even starts. To me, this is progressive music. It doesn’t have to be constant time changes, and 50 million notes per bar, which on some occasions is okay, but not all the time. Changes in mood will do the job, and it can all be done in a 4/4 time signature. 

When “Welcome To Your Death” comes in, you get the feeling that Jeff Waters is way ahead of his time in song writing . Not only does he merge the speed and aggression and technical progressive song writing of Megadeth with Slayer, Anthrax, Exodus and Metallica, he also brings in elements of Randy Rhoads and Michael Schenker influences into the mix.

The lyrics and the vocal melodies are not as strong as the artists who had more sales and while people still like to go mental at break neck riffs, their needs to be a message in the words which they can relate to and connect with. 

“Wicked Mystic” is another speed a thon with head banging open string riffs and fast palm muted lines. And that solo, feels like “Over The Mountain” got merged with “Master of Puppets”.

The rest of the album is not as strong as it became too repetitive in the riffs department, with the only light being some cool lead breaks here and there in the songs.

In Australia, we got our music late compared to the rest of the world because of gated releases. I basically heard “Alice In Hell” and the second album, “Never Neverland” in the same year of 1990. However on this day when I was at Mega’s house, I only had one tape with me and it had music on it. On Side 1, was my own Walkman edition of “Somewhere In Time” from Iron Maiden with Side 2 first, and then Side 1. On the second side, I had a mix of Maiden from “The Number of The Beast”, “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave”. And that was the side which was sacrificed to record “Never, Neverland”.

The difference in production is the first thing you hear. While “Alison Hell” sounded like it was recorded in a garage, “Never, Neverland” had better sonics and a different vocalist. The debut album had Randy Rampage and the second had an unknown called Coburn Pharr, who sounded better. And the reason why Randy Rampage quit the band was to keep his senior role at the shipping docks in North Vancouver.

You see, even back in the 80s/90s artists had to work two jobs to make a living in music, hoping that they will become the 1% of artists which breaks through. A label deal never guaranteed riches. All it did was give an artist an opportunity to participate in the recording business, provided the A&R rep was satisfied with the end output. But it also meant, an artist would have to give up their most valuable asset to the labels to exploit forever.

Another upgrade with this album was the influence of grooves, which Pantera would build a career on and all song writing being done by Jeff Waters, which involved lyrics a person could connect with. 

“The Fun Palace” has a lead break of about 2 minutes which is guitar hero status. And those riffs.

“Road To Ruin” has an interlude, lead section, which blows me away. On the road to ruin with alcoholic speed alright and the song ends with tyres screeching before a smash.

“Sixes And Sevens” has this interlude progressive bit, which hooks me in and when the lead break comes in, Jeff Waters delivers on all levels.

“Stonewall” is another great song, with killer riffs and great lyrics.

“Never, Neverland” has a pretty cool 90 second intro before the verses kick in. And sonically it’s a different song, moving between clean and distorted tones.

The other three albums I have on CD are not available on Spotify Australia which is wrong, but hey, they are all on different labels, like SPV and Music For Nations, so since those companies own the rights, they can do whatever they want with the music.

In saying that, I got “Refresh The Demon” to see what the  band was up to since “Never, Neverland” and I don’t remember a song from it, but it must have been okay, because I purchased “Remains” and was vomiting all over the place when I heard electronic programmed drums and an industrial sound. However in 2002, I gave them another shot with “Waking The Fury” (because the album title reminded me of Yngwie Malmsteen) and I can’t really remember a track from that album either and I haven’t really gone back to the band, except for the first two albums.

And who remembers the CD holder teeth breaking? I only pushed down once and bang they all went.

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

1984 – V – Grace Under Pressure

If you are curious here are parts one, two, three and four of the 1984 series.

Pretty Maids – Red Hot And Heavy

I didn’t hear this album until the early two thousands. I had “Future World” on LP, however any other release by the band was available via an expensive IMPORT price of $50 to $70 Australian. And then Napster came along, and then Audio Galaxy, LimeWire and cloud sites like Rapid Share. Suddenly, people’s music collections were available everywhere and at any time.

For this album there was no dropping the needle, it was all about putting on my headphones, plugging them into the computer and pressing play to the mp3 tracks, lined up WINAMP.

It kicks off with what I know as the “Excalibur” theme, and others know as ‘O Fortuna’.

“Back To Back” and “Cold Killer” have cool riffs and show off their NWOBHM influences.

“Red Hot and Heavy” shows off it’s Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Scorpions influences.

“Waitin’ For The Time” and “A Place In The Night” are AOR Melodic Rock to a tee.

And that’s why I always enjoyed the albums from “Pretty Maids”. Like Dokken and Y&T, they lived somewhere in between heavy metal and hard rock and melodic pop.

Rush – Grace Under Pressure

Ernest Hemingway said “Courage is grace under pressure.”

And when you are pushing towards the mid 80s, Rush showed true courage in delivering another album full of synth rock. Hell, talk about courage, some songs don’t even feature any bass guitar.

“Distant Early Warning” has a keyboard riff which sounds excellent played on a distorted guitar.

“Afterimage” is my favourite track and “Red Sector A” has this riff from about the 1.10 mark, which makes me press repeat on this track.

This is also the track which has no bass guitar

“Are we the last ones left alive? Are we the only human beings to survive?”

And its these first three tracks which still get played to this day.

The Alan Parsons Project  – Ammonia Avenue

The album came out in February 1984 and it was meant to capitalize on the platinum success of “Eye In The Sky”. And although it went Gold, the album was seen as a failure. MTV was a game changer and if you looked like a studio band, you didn’t stand a chance with a new empowered generation of rock and metal heads.

But to me there are always a few cool tracks on APP albums which I can relate to.

On this one, “Let Me Go Home”, “Dancing On A High Wire” and Pipeline” are stand outs.

Chris DeBurgh – Man On The Line

Chris DeBurgh doesn’t get enough credit as a Rocker because his ballad, “Lady In Red” was so huge, it dwarfed everything else he released. Then again, each album he did release always had more ballads than rockers.

“The Ecstasy Of Flight (I Love The Night)” is the song which stood out for me and I remember hearing it on a music video show and taping it.

Midnight Oil – Red Sails In The Sunset

They write songs about Australia, our environment, our history, our culture and our attitudes.

And it resonated and connected with people.

“Kosciusko” and “When The Generals Talk” are the standouts here.

Meatloaf‘s “Bad Attitude” didn’t have anything earth shattering on it, but the title track and “Surfs Up” are derivative versions of previous Meatloaf songs and are a cool listen.

Billy Squier – Signs Of Life

It all comes back to the “Rock Me Tonite” video.

Cheesy; yes, terrible idea; yes, but did it really kill Squier’s career because in the 80s there was a lot of cheesy bad videos for artists.

Squier like many others had some success early on and then struggled to duplicate it. Twisted Sister comes to mind immediately and so does Quiet Riot. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have good songs, it’s just the audience had moved on.

“All Night Long” is excellent while “Reach For The Sky” has a feel and groove borrowed from The Police and Gotye used a similar groove and feel for “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Quick call the lawyers.

“Hand Me Downs” borrows from “Long Way To The Top” in the verses. Quick call the lawyers again.

Don Henley – Building The Perfect Beast

“The Boys Of Summer” was everywhere and what a song. I didn’t hear the rest of the album until the late 90s. Other tracks which stand out to me are “Not Enough Love In The World”, “Driving With Our Eyes Closed” and “Land Of The Living”.

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

The Record Vault – Adema

 I never understood why bands got labelled as nu-metal. Maybe the culture stylists at magazines and labels wanted to create a new movement so they could say they created a new movement.

To me it’s all just music.

For the bands that started to make inroads in the early 2000’s, these bands had the same aggression and rage as a lot of the bands I grew up with. Just because they didn’t have guitar solos, had shorter hair, dressed differently and played syncopated riffs, it didn’t make them super different. Most of these bands had even bigger arena rock choruses than the bands who made it in the 80’s and they still had success without any form of MTV pushing them, which was very different to the 80’s as all the bands back then got to a million in sales on the backs of the exposure MTV generated.

I believe that the vocal tones of the Nu-Metal singers didn’t cross over to the hard rock audience as those audiences became used to Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Tate, Sebastian Bach, Ronnie James Dio, Tom Kiefer and David Coverdale style vocals. But to me, it’s the vocal tones which connected because I didn’t want to hear another clone of a hard rock vocalist.

Everyone

Everyone is the same
Quick to point the blame
All I know is that life is a struggle

The album came out in 2001, but I didn’t hear it until 2003. This song resonated straight away, with the above lyric line. Imagine a scene, with every single person in the room pointing the blame at someone else in the room.

Would anything sensible come out of it?

And for all of those college kids who had their parents clear the way for them, what struggle have they seen, because life is a struggle and if you can’t navigate the waters, dark places wait.

Blow It Away

The intro music reminded me of Godsmack and in the verses it has this Nirvana bass feel, with Korn like guitar embellishments.

Lyrically, it’s a nasty song about a relationship gone bad and if you’ve seen American Psycho, you will know what the singer is thinking.

Giving In

The intro hooks me in and it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album, about giving in to your addictions or giving in to the darkness that loneliness brings due to your addictions.

Shaking, lonely, and I am drinking again
Woke up tonight and no one’s here with me
I’m giving in to you

Freaking Out

The rapped verses (yes, rapped verses) have enough melody to keep me interested and the music/feel of the song reminds me of New Order.

The Way You Like It

My second favourite and the flow of the song hooks me in, with a catchy Chorus.

If you can see right through the greed and all your needs
You realize that you were just about as bad as me

People struggle their whole life to make and be somebody. When they do, they reckon that fame doesn’t change them. But it does change them and it changes the people around you.

Pain Inside

The chorus gospel effect on the guitars gets me interested and the verse drum and bass groove keeps the momentum going and once the power chords come crashing in for the Chorus, I’m sold.

This pain inside I can’t understand
This hate in life that will not go away (Go away)

And hate is real. It’s all over the world and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

Speculum

The acoustic guitar gets some use.

There’s so many people dying
You complain about your situation

Drowning

The intro riff hooks me in and then it’s all hell breaking loose.

It’s like a needle in my spine
It stings inside
Poisons me with time
I can’t deal with your lies

It’s very different to the 80s lyrics about blowjobs and sex.

Trust

I’m so alone, empty and lost, it’s easier to let you go
Time will erode the shame and the fault, it’s easier to let you go

We become focused on achieving something and when we do, we realize we also lost something along the way, like a relationship that you didn’t want to lose.

Adema released more albums after this one and I haven’t heard em, however I will call em up on Spotify in due time.

Standard