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

1976 – Part 5.4: Slade – Nobody’s Fool

“Nobody’s Fools”. Not the Cinderella song, but the sixth studio album by Slade within a 10 year period. It was released in March 1976 and produced by Chas Chandler who was immortalised by his work with Jimi Hendrix on the first three albums.

Slade didn’t exist for me until Quiet Riot covered “Cum On The Feel The Noize” and “Mama Were All Crazee Now”. At the point in time I knew of them, but never listened to them. This would change as the 90’s rolled around and then peer to peer sharing and finally streaming. 

If you expect to hear a balls to the wall rock album then this album is not for you. There is some loud rock, but overall, there is soul, R&B and other popular styles.

Doing this review retrospectively, it’s always cool to read what people said about it at the time it was released. It’s pretty obvious that British fans didn’t like it when their acts tried to break in to the U.S market. When artists normally attempted this, the fans would accuse them of selling out. This happened with Slade. And it didn’t help matters when they band kept saying that they moved to the U.S to rejuvenate and get new ideas as they felt stale in the U.K.

So it’s no surprise that this album is Slade’s first to not reach the UK Top 10, and to drop out of the chart after a chart run of only four weeks. It would be their last album to make a UK chart appearance until the 1980 compilation “Slade Smashes!”.

Meanwhile, the U.S press praised it, but it didn’t translate to the breakthrough they wanted.

But the album stands up today. Its variation is what makes it entertaining.

The album’s cover was created to coincide with the band’s 10th anniversary, showing the band adopting the same positions as they had on the cover for their 1970 album “Play It Loud”.

Slade is Noddy Holder on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Dave Hill on lead guitar, Jim Lea on bass and Don Powell on drums. All tracks are written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea and the album is produced by Chas Chandler.

Nobody’s Fool

The piano is dominant and its more soul rock than hard rock/glam rock. Think Rod Stewart and “Maggie May”. And I like it especially the Chorus. It’s arena rock and no one can tell me any different.

Lea wanted “Nobody’s Fool” to be a “twenty-minute epic” but that takes balls to do and the only one who had Balls to do songs like that was Jim Steinman and the only one silly enough to perform them was Meatloaf. But with over a 100 million albums sold worldwide, I guess the fools were the labels who rejected them.

Anyway I digress.

Do the Dirty

“Play That Funky Music White Boy” and any riff from Joe Walsh comes to mind when the intro kicks in. Its funky, its dirty sounding and it rocks.

How could the fans not like this song? 

Let’s Call It Quits

It’s bluesy and sleazy. After it became a UK hit, it was served a writ. Allen Toussaint, felt the song was similar to his “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)”. The case was settled out of court with the band giving Toussaint 50% in song writing royalties, though Lea maintained that he has never heard Toussaint’s version before or since. But the version that everyone knows is from Three Dog Night. And that version came out in 1974, and it got a lot of airplay, so this could be the version that Lea heard. 

To me this is a standard blues track musically and as Keith Richards said, “you can’t copyright the blues”. But in this instance the Chorus vocal melodies do sound similar.

Also when you hear the vocal delivery on this song, you can hear from which vocalist, Kevin DuBrow modelled his vocals on.

Pack Up Your Troubles

Sit around the campfire acoustic country about leaving all your troubles behind and heading into the hills with your liquor and wine. It’s adventurous and I like it.

In for a Penny

It’s very Beatles like. “Penny Lane” and “Eleanor Rigby” come to mind.

It is also the only Slade track to feature the accordion and the guitar playing from Dave Hill is more decorative than riff heavy.

And don’t let the accordion deter you, the song is a psychedelic pop rock masterpiece.

Get On Up

It’s back to their hard rock roots. 

Hearing this today, all I am hearing is how much Kevin DuBrow borrowed from Noddy Holder in vocal tone, phrasings and lyrical rhymes. Then again, Holder borrowed from a lot of others as well and that is how music evolves my friends. We all take from what has come before to create something new. 

L.A. Jinx

I love the clean guitar strummed pattern. Its funky, groovy, and it rocks.

Lyrically the song deals with bad luck the band seemed to suffer whenever they played in Los Angeles like their gear blowing up or getting electric shocks.

Press play to hear the whole interlude section. 

And the star of the song are the vocal melodies from Noddy Holder. Unique and original and still rooted in hard rock territory.

Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya

It’s reggae like but with a lot of soul rock thrown in and lyrics that deal with nursery rhymes and a lot of innuendo.

Scratch My Back

Another rock track in similar form to “Get on Up”. 

I’m a Talker

It sounds like another song that I can’t think off right now, but hey, that’s why I love music. This one is acoustic, fast strummed, very folk-rock, campfire like.

All the World Is a Stage

The drum groove sets up this melodic rock track before melodic rock was a thing. It moves between minor key verses and major key choruses.

Since I am listening to this on Spotify, it is the Expanded Edition with Bonus tracks.

Thanks for the Memory (1975 non-album single)

It was a sign of things to come and the sound to come. 

Raining In My Champagne (B-side of “Thanks for the Memory”)

It’s better than the A side in my opinion. Maybe because it sounds like “Twist And Shout” in the Chorus.

Can You Just Imagine (B-side of “In For a Penny”)

A throwback to the sounds of the 60’s.

When the Chips are Down (B-side of “Let’s Call It Quits”)

In the end, this was the album that Slade hoped would break them into the U.S mainstream, instead, this is the album that put Slade out of the mainstream business worldwide, until their 80’s comeback.

But don’t be a fool and ignore it. The band was adventurous and yet they still made it sound like Slade because the songs were written and recorded in between small tours of the U.S with acts like ZZ Top.

And you can hear their blues boogie translate to the grooves here. And at least they learned how to spell properly.

Press play. 

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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Train Of Thought

Each Dream Theater album had touched on the sounds that I would class as Thrash Metal and Heavy Metal. But on “Train Of Thought” they decided to live in this metal/thrash world. And I liked it.

It begins with an album cover that has Black as its main colour screaming Metal. Then again, Pink Floyd did have a black cover for an album that sold multi millions and it had nothing to do with metal, more like dreamy acid rock.

“Train of Thought” was released on November 11, 2003 through Elektra Records before its parent company Warner Music Group decided to merge Elektra Records with Atlantic Records to become Atlantic Records Group in 2004, only to give the Elektra name a new lease of life in 2009 as an independent entity up until 2018, when WMG relaunched Elektra Music as a stand-alone, staffed music company, with labels like Roadrunner Records, Low Country Sound, Fuelled By Ramen and Black Cement under it.

As I Am

This song is a balls to the wall metal classic.

It starts off with the Black Sabbath riff to kick it off. Yes, it is that Black Sabbath riff.

Then it goes into an “Enter Sandman” like groove for the verses. It gets the foot tapping, and the head banging.

Dream Theater toured with Queensryche in 2003. At this point in time, Queensryche’s commercial zenith was in the past and Dream Theater’s star was still rising. Mike Stone was the guitarist in Queensryche, carrying out the Chris DeGarmo role. And Stone decided he should give John Petrucci tips on playing guitar.

Every time you hear the lyric line “Don’t tell me what’s in, tell me how to write”, just think of Mike Stone giving Petrucci tips.

I like the lead break. It is old school and it burns. There is no rhythm guitar track, just bass, keys and drums. Exactly what EVH did when he soloed on a lot of VH tracks.

Vocally, LaBrie is at his metal best. His voice might strain in the live arena, but in the studio, LaBrie is a master.

This Dying Soul

The feedback from “As I Am” segues into the fast groove metal of “This Dying Soul”.

Here, Mike Portnoy continues his “Twelve-Step Suite”, which started with “The Glass Prison” on “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence”.

For those who don’t know, “The Glass Prison” has the following sections; “I. Reflection”, “II. Restoration” and “III. Revelation”. “This Dying Soul” has the following sections; “IV. Reflections of Reality (Revisited)” and “V: Release”. All of the sections are steps in the Alcohol Anonymous Recovery program.

After the thrash-a-thon in the intro, the song gives way to a Tool like groove and vocal melody in the verses. And I like it.

There is this “Blackened is the end” vocal melody in “V:Release”. Once you hear it, you will recognise it. I can’t say I am a huge fan of the loud speaker rap like verses, but I do give full marks for incorporating new elements into their music.

And since these songs are part of the same universe they do share some of the lyrics and melodies.

Endless Sacrifice

The acoustic intro.

It can remind you of Pink Floyd or Pantera depending on your listening history. They touched on these kind of melancholic riffs in “Peruvian Skies” from “Falling Into Infinity”.

But, it is the Chorus that brings the energy.

Then at 4.56, all hell breaks loose as they make their way into the solo section of the song. It’s got this “Creeping Death” meets “Disposable Heroes” palm-muted patterns.

For 8 seconds between 6.28 to 6.36 it sounds like it came from a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon.

Check out the harmony section from 8.58 which gets em out of the solo section and into the final part of the song.

Honor Thy Father

My favourite song for the riffs and melodies. It’s a metal tour-de-force.

The subject matter about Mike Portnoy’s stepfather didn’t resonate with me, but man, the riffs and melodies are fantastic.

After the heavy intro, press play to hear the first verse. And how good is the arena rock Chorus.

When the second verse rolls again, the original riff is played with distortion and man, it works so well. But at 3.51. instead of going into the Chorus again, they go into a verse with the riff tweaked a little bit more to make it sound different and unique.

And like all the songs on the album, from the 5 minute mark they go into a lengthy solo section.

Vacant

It’s the shortest song on the album, at 3 minutes long. It’s a haunting piano riff (which sounds like the bass riff to start of “Stream Of Consciousness”), with a little bit of an orchestra and LaBrie’s vocals.

The lyrics to “Vacant” were inspired by James LaBrie’s daughter, who fell into a short coma after suffering a sudden, unexplained seizure three days before her seventh birthday.

Stream of Consciousness

The DT instrumentals always have memorable sections via a lead or a riff. This song is no different especially the first two minutes. Essential listening.

The title had been around for a while in the DT world. 

Of course, the solo from Petrucci is Guitar Hero stuff. Yes, there is flash and some fast picking, but it’s so melodic as well. If you like the playing of people like Steve Morse, Al DiMeola, Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert and Joe Satriani, then you will like what Petrucci does here. 

And at 7.30 that fantastic intro music comes back in, more ferocious with a few little tweaks.

The whole  is the longest instrumental on a Dream Theater studio album to date and was the intended title for Falling Into Infinity.

And one of the YouTube comments on the song still cracks me, “LaBrie never sounded better”.

In the Name of God

The closer at 14.15 about religion and how it indoctrinates people to kill in its name.

The acoustic intro sets the tone, before the distortion crashes in. It’s a slow groove by Portnoy before they pick it up and play it double time.

The verse riff is head banging and it reminds me of “As I Am”. Petrucci drops out and lets Myung roll with it on the bass, while Petrucci switches to decorating.

LaBrie is a monster on the vocals here. Listen to him between 4.46 and 5.30. Throat ripping stuff.

As is the theme of the album, they then go into a long solo section in the middle of the song.  

Press play to hear Petrucci wail between from the 8.40 mark.

The album did exactly what it needed to do. It put them on tour again, it got them into large metal festivals, something which they couldn’t do before and it renewed their fan base with metal heads. 

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Week (Last Few Months Actually) In Destroyer Of Harmony History – September 21 to October 31


4 Years Ago

FLYING

Patience. I’ve never confirmed it or looked it up, but i was told once it’s a French word meaning “to suffer”.

And the memories of being patient, flying 14 hours from Sydney to Doha and putting up with screaming little kids. Thankfully they were not mine.

And since the flights are so long, I caught up on movies like “War for The Planet Of The Apes”, “The Quiet Place” and “I, Tonya”. Then we wait 5 hours, board another plane from Doha to Berlin, I watched “American Animals” and “Hotel Artemis” and checked out the audio section. And pressed play on “Walk The Earth” from Europe, along with “Firepower” and “Turbo Lover” from Judas Priest.

During this period, the site became a Travel Blog, as I was doing regular updates of my European adventures in Berlin, More Berlin, Estonia, St Petersburg, More St Petersburg, The Norwegian Breakaway, Macedonia, More Macedonia and The Roma People.

After this holiday I was planning to take in more of the Balkans and the parts of Italy and Austria that surround the Adriatic Sea. This was all planned for 2020. We all know how that panned out.

THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS

It’s messed-up when humans experiment on other humans and mess with their lives.

Like when people of influence placed triplets from a single mother into three different families across different states. And in the name of science, they lied to the adopted families when they turned up to observe how the kids were progressing.

If you haven’t seen this documentary, watch it.

UPBRINGINGS

I grew up in a steel city and the plan was the same for everyone. Finish high school, get an apprenticeship at the local steel mill, become a tradesman and work until retirement with a nice little nest egg and a government funded pension.

Maybe that worked out okay once upon a time, but as Dylan said, “the times started changing”. The steel mill that used to employ 25,000 back in the mid-70s now employs less than 700. My Dad worked his whole life there, I haven’t worked not one day there. Then again. I was a misfit falling in and out of jobs.

STEVE VAI and OZZMOSIS

In 1994, Ozzy started jamming with Steve Vai. After writing for a certain period, Bob Daisley was called in. Once rehearsals started, it was pretty obvious that Vai’s style didn’t fit Ozzy’s style. But the Ozzy Camp didn’t fire Vai. They told him that the label was shelving the album.

With Vai gone, Daisley and Castronovo got a phone call a few days after to reconvene with Zakk Wylde on guitar. Daisley then got replaced by Geezer Butler.

Steve Vai’s involvement on the “Ozzmosis” album became limited to co-writing just one song “My Little Man”.

And while the song is credited to Ozzy and Vai, I always had my doubts if Ozzy wrote the lyrics.

So, if Ozzy didn’t write them, who did?

Well, the lyrics came from the great Lemmy Kilmister.

Yep, Lemmy wrote the lyrics about his son Paul. But Ozzy told everyone he wrote the lyrics about his son Jack.

All of the debates about intellectual property and how it’s valuable and how copyright protects the writer. It’s bullshit. The real writer is not even credited.

Copyright is a mess and the Copyright’s for Ozzy’s songs are even messier. Much like how Jake E. Lee and Bob Daisley got shafted for the “Bark At The Moon” album.

DYNAZTY

Dynazty came onto my radar in 2016. Actually I heard of em a few years before but avoided them because of the band name, thinking they would sound like Kiss, and why did they spell it with a ‘Z’.

They exist completely off the mainstream radar screen, doing their thing and building their catalogue of songs. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time. I’m a fan and I don’t even know who the members are in the band.

How is that possible?

It’s so far removed from the label gatekeeper 80’s/90’s model. But in the new streaming era streams are more important than sales and people are listening. Music is a lifers game. You’re either in it for life or it’s just a passing hobby.

And Dynazty are in it for life.

LIVE AFTER DEATH

It’s the best live album out there and it was my first exposure to Iron Maiden. It’s also a pretty good reason why I didn’t feel the need to buy the first four albums until later on.

At the time I didn’t know it, but the tempo of the songs are just a bit quicker on the live album compared to the recorded versions and I’ve grown to know the songs at those tempos. If you don’t believe me, compare the two “Hallowed Be Thy Name” versions.

And I heard Bruce Dickinson sing the DiAnno era songs first, and because of this I can’t get into the DiAnno versions. But i do like them.

This album is also the reason why I purchased a ticket for each of the two Sydney shows on the “Somewhere Back In Time” tour of 2008.

Maiden did find gold again with the “Rock In Rio” release. Especially the DVD. And on this release, Bruce brought to life songs from the Blaze fronted era.

I also purchased the DVD for “Flight 666” which I rank as Maiden’s third best live album and a great memento for the two nights I watched em perform the same set.

COHEED AND CAMBRIA

“Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” was the new album in 2018. Another concept album.

My first concept experience was “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche, then “The Crimson Idol” from WASP and then “Streets: A Rock Opera” from Savatage. But Coheed take “concept” to another level, with more or less each album except one being part of a concept story called “The Amory Wars”.

Here is my quick summary. There are far more detailed versions out there.

A scientist called Sirius Amory discovers an energy source called “The Keywork” is made up of souls who haven’t transcended. This happens on “The Afterman” album.

Many years later, a person called Wilhelm Ryan starts using the energy of the Keywork to murder and rule. Coheed and Cambria are humanoid robots created to destroy Ryan. Along with a person called Inferno, who also is a robot, they attack Ryan’s fortress and manage to destroy it. Ryan survives, however Coheed and Cambria think he’s dead. Thinking it’s over, their memory is wiped. This happens on “The Year Of The Black Rainbow”.

In “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” Coheed and Cambria get killed and their last surviving son, Claudio, is left to take up the charge. I’m still not sure how humanoid robots have children. But the recent Bladerunner movie also has this story arc.

Claudio finds out that he’s like the chosen one in “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth”.

In “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. I: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” there is a character called “The Writer” that starts to mess up the story because he’s going through a relationship break up. It reminds me of the Matrix characters “The Keymaker” merged with “The Architect”.

In “No World For Tomorrow”, Claudio destroys the Keywork and releases the trapped souls. And the new album “Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” takes place after this event.

OLI HERBET

“Overcome” made All That Remains (ATR) accessible to me, and I’ve been a fan since.

The first track “Before the Damned” started blasting out of my headphones. Musically it’s excellent. While the death metal vocals happen in the verses, the Chorus is Arena Rock.

At 2.04 we get this head banging metal breakdown and the solo begins at 2.09 over that same head banging breakdown riff. The solo is chromatic and diminished, in the same way Randy Rhoads shreds on “Diary of a Madman”. This concludes at 2.19. It sounds dissonant and atonal.

And the main man behind the guitar is Oli Herbert. A great guitar player, founding member of All That Remains and songwriter who passed away at 44.

Rest In Peace.

I’M READY

It’s a track that Oli Herbert (RIP) co-wrote for Dee Snider’s solo album “For The Love Of Metal”. The other writers are Charlie Bellmore, Nicholas Bellmore and Jamey Jasta.

Crank it.

LEARNING MUSIC IN REVERSE

When I hear a song I like, I seek out more songs from the same artist. And I repeat the cycle with different artists. It’s how I got into music. It happened to me in the 80s.

When I heard Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Van Halen, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Kiss and Judas Priest, I didn’t think for a second that these bands would have had influences.

I never understood the debates over Kingdom Come in the 80’s until well into the 90’s when I started seeking out bands from the 70s and started to pay real attention to Led Zeppelin. Then I had that “ah ha” moment and I understood why Kingdom Come were labelled copycats.

I remember when I first heard Aerosmith and Whitesnake. It was in 1987 and I had no idea these bands had a long history dating back to the Seventies.

The beauty of music. I listen, I get moved by the listening and I start to explore.

THE ONE YOU LOVED IS GONE

What a solo from Slash! Actually, two solos. But it’s the middle one that hooks me. And yeah, it might sound like an Alter Bridge song, but that solo is 100% pure grade Slash.

UTOPIA RECORDS

It had the motto “The Home Of Heavy Metal”.

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 into the club the same way bike gangs’ patch in their members.

The first location was in Martin Place from 1978 to 1980 and the second location in Martin Place was from 1980 to 1990. It was this second location that I first visited. From 1990 to 1995, they moved to Clarence Street, Sydney, not too far from the original shop. 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 me 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. The bigger Utopia got, the uniqueness culture it created for metal heads got lost.

The last time I walked into Utopia was at an address on Broadway in Sydney. They occupied this store between 2006 to 2010. But during this time, they did things differently by having live bands in store and battle of the band’s 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. But I have purchased items online. And I will return one day, because that’s what us Metal fans do.

PIRACY

Debates and arguments never cease when it comes to Piracy.

I became a fan of a lot of bands because of pirated material. Bands like Trivium, Coheed and Cambria, Shinedown, In Flames, Evergrey, Killswitch Engage, The Night Flight Orchestra and Corroded just to name a few. And I had no qualms paying ticket prices if these bands came to town.

High profile bands from the Eighties also had a renaissance in the 2000’s because of pirated material. Motley Crue, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Europe and Whitesnake come to mind immediately. Provided they still wanted to work together. Bands like Skid Row, Ratt, Warrant and Dokken unfortunately missed out because key members hated each other.

It’s a pretty simple business model. Have your music available worldwide for free and people will access it.

All of those bands mentioned above have played cities they’ve never played before and to crowds larger than before. They played these cities without selling any real recorded product in those cities. I can tell you that in Eastern Europe, I did not come across a legitimate music shop. The few shops I did come across (and I use that term loosely) sell rips of albums.

8 Years Ago

ADRIAN VANDENBERG COMPENDIUM

Adrian Vandenberg came to my attention from his tenure in Whitesnake (when he and Vivan Campbell) replaced John Sykes. However, Vandenberg was David Coverdale’s first choice for the lead guitar slot, however Vandenberg turned the gig down to focus on his own band and John Sykes was given the gig instead.

Click on the link in the tile to read my compendium of Adrian Vandenberg classic songs and riffs which covers his projects from 1983 to 2014.

Since then, he has released three Vandenberg’s MoonKings albums with the self-titled debut (2014), “MK II” (2017) and “Rugged and Unplugged” (2018). And then after he was allowed to use his name again as a band name, he released the excellent ‘2020″.

JOHN SYKES COMPENDIUM

Since I was on a Whitesnake journey, click on the link in the tile to read my John Sykes compendium which covers his career from “Tygers Of Pan Tang” all the way to his solo career in the 90’s. But while Adrian Vandenberg re-entered the recorded music market in 2014, John Sykes has been absent since 2001, with only a few YouTube videos appearing in the last 5 years.

HENDRIX AND THE MADNESS OF COPYRIGHT

The music of Jimi Hendirx should be in the Public Domain. When Hendrix wrote the songs, Copyright Law at the time was for a total of 56 years (which involved a 28-year term initially and provided the artist renewed the registration, they would get another 28 years). But laws passed in the 70’s retroactively placed these recordings under new laws which meant, 75 years after death. Basically, it will not enter the public domain for another 20 plus years.

Remember when a Jimi Hendrix Biopic called “Jimi: All Is By My Side” came out and it didn’t have any original music from Hendrix. Well, the Jimi Hendrix Estate denied all attempts to license the music unless they had control over the story line of the movie. The producers felt that this would not gel well with their vision so what the public got was a movie where the actor who plays Hendrix is performing cover songs of other bands.

HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

Evergrey is one of my favourite bands and you can read my biased review on “Hymns For The Broken”.

VOLBEAT AND RIAA CERTIFICATIONS

Volbeat in 2014 just kept getting RIAA Certifications.

It showed the music business that “Recognition Comes Much Later” for Heavy Metal bands. Volbeat entered the mainstream American market ten years after they formed. It also showed the Heavy Metal community that “Streaming Is Not The Enemy” as Volbeat’s streaming numbers are in the multi-millions for certain songs.

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN

Yngwie Malmsteen released four good albums in “Rising Force” (1984), “Marching Out” (1985), “Trilogy” (1986), “Odyssey” (1988) and two average albums in “Eclipse” (1990) and the big budget “Fire & Ice” (1992).

And here he was in 2014, shooting his mouth off with statements like “no new guitar players” and “no new good music”.

PAUL STANLEY

And Malmsteen was joined by Paul Stanley.

GUITAR HEROES

So I did a post on the new guitar heroes in response to Malmsteen’s comments.

AUSTRALIAN MUSIC AND THE RISE OF THE INDIES

Australian Music is ALWAYS a rich vibrant scene. And it is a scene that is underpinned by independent artists. Financially it is a miserable livelihood however the emotional experience is rewarding. And there is no escaping that Australian Independent artists are some of the hardest working artists around and also the lowest paid members of the Australian workforce. The sad thing is that the elite levels of Government have no idea about the independent artists. Any Government funding goes to the large Industry bodies who don’t really disperse the monies to the artists doing the rounds on the streets.

Independently minded musicians and label owners are the ones that are pushing boundaries in music because they want control over what’s being released, when it’s released, and how it’s released. And they are not afraid to use the major labels when it suits them, but ultimately they’re calling the shots.

For a musician it is an exciting time to be a part of the music scene. Especially if you are an indie.

JUNE 1993

It’s June 1993 and I am flicking through the new issue of Hot Metal Magazine, which at the time was Australia’s premier metal and rock magazine. On the cover there was the John Bush fronted Anthrax.

“The Sound Of White Noise” got 5 skulls in the magazine review, which equates to ‘KILLER’. A few months after its release the album was certified GOLD.

Then you have the bloodbath from the Eighties scene.

Jani Lane (RIP) and Warrant had split and both acts had their contracts reduced to demo deals. Imagine that. You had three albums that had moved 500,000 plus units each, and they ended up on the scrap-heap. Kik Tracee also split with vocalist Stephen Shareaux (bet he wished he tried harder for that Motley Crue vocalist spot) and both of them had been reduced to a demo deal.

Meanwhile Rowan Robertson from “The Lock Up The Wolves” Dio era inked a deal with Atlantic Records for his new band that had Oni Logan from Lynch Mob on vocals. We all know that this didn’t end up going anywhere.

While, Roberston’s former employer, Dio (RIP) was working with WWIII guitarist Tracy G after his “Dehumanizer” venture with Black Sabbath went sour. These sessions would go on to create the “Strange Highways” album while Jake E.Lee was working with WWIII singer (and I use that term loosely) Mandy Lion.

Reports coming through at that time spoke about the new Bruce Dickinson solo album being an “updated, toughened up Santana vibe with a heavy leaning towards Peter Gabriel type atmospherics and experimentation.” That album would become “Balls To Picasso” and apart from the song “Tears Of The Dragon” which sounds like an Iron Maiden song the rest of the album was a listen best avoided.

On the drug front we had David Lee Roth getting busted in New York after purchasing a $10 bag of weed. Seriously, for someone like his stature surely he could have done it more discreetly or gotten that $10 bag delivered to the studio. However, Roth is Roth and he decided that he should go out into the town and look for a dealer. On the other drug front, there was news that started coming out about Tim Kelly (RIP) from Slaughter who was alleged to have been involved in a major drug smuggling ring that was busted after a five-year investigation by the F.B.I.

Then we had the Motley Crue vs Vince Neil shenanigans.

The Vince Neil “Exposed” album got a good review in the magazine. I suppose it was inevitable that the solo album from Vince Neil would sound a lot like Motley Crue, even though NIkki Sixx insisted that Vince Neil had nothing to do with the creation of the songs in Motley Crue or the Motley sound. I think Nikki Sixx missed the memo that the actual voice plays a big part in the sound. Credit music business vet Phil Soussan for delivering a stellar performance in the song writing department that helped kick-start Vince’s solo career.

SEPTEMBER 1991

So I am flicking through an old issue of Guitar World that goes back to September 1991 and there is a D’Addario ad with the title “Young Guns II”. Read the post to find out what happened to these “Young Guns.”

METAL EVOLUTION – GLAM METAL EPISODE

I watched the Metal Evolution Glam Rock, Thrash and Grunge documentaries a few nights ago. When you play “The Trooper” as your intro riff to the series, how can you not like it.

If it wasn’t for “Sonic Temple” from The Cult and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue there would be no such thing as the “Black” sound and the millions of metal bands that the Metallica album spawned.

Franke Banali the drummer from Quiet Riot cracked me up with his assessment of Edward Van Halen “the name sounds like a painter”.

It’s good to see Spencer Proffer get recognition for his idea of trying to find a band to record “Cum On Feel The Noize” from Slade. It was a game changer for Quiet Riot even though they resisted it.

Then you have the big heavy metal day on the 1983 U.S festival. It was a game changer for the LA scene and for metal in general.

John Kalonder was hilarious. When he spoke, I couldn’t stop laughing. He sounded like that baddy voice over dub in the movie “Kung Pow”.

And it was a time of excess. If Tawny Kitaen is to be believed, then the 1987 Whitesnake album cost over $2 million dollars to record and produce.

Dunn’s reporting of the “Guns N Roses Effect” on glam rock spot on. Glam Rock died because it got over saturated with inferior bands, along with Gunners showing up the movement with their nod to Seventies classic rock. When Grunge came along with its nod to 70’s bands and punk rock, it offered an alternative to the clichéd glam rock styles and lyrics.

“Bang you Head.”

And that’s a wrap for stories posted back in October, 4 Years and 8 Years ago. Next up are stories posted in November during the same period.

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

1976 – Part 5.3: Heart – Dreamboat Annie

The debut album from Heart, released in September 1975 for all Canadian music lovers via Mushroom Records. It then got a U.S and international release in 1976.

The band for the album was made up of Ann Wilson on lead vocals, Nancy Wilson on electric and acoustic guitars, Roger Fisher on electric guitars, Howard Leese is on a lot of different instruments, Steve Fossen on bass and Mike Derosier on drums for two songs, with Dave Wilson, Duris Maxwell and Kat Hendriske providing drums on the other tracks.

Mike Flicker is producing. As Heart got bigger so did Flicker’s career.

But the Heart story doesn’t just start in 1975. It goes back almost a decade.

In 1967, bassist Steve Fossen formed the band as The Army, along with Roger Fisher on guitar, Don Wilhelm on guitar/keyboards and lead vocals, and Ray Schaefer on drums.

In 1969, the band went through some line-up changes and took on a new name, Hocus Pocus. Between this period they took on the name “White Heart”.

By 1973, the band was Ann Wilson on vocals, Steve Fossen on bass, Roger Fisher on guitars, Brian Johnstone on drums, and John Hannah on keyboards and they had taken the name Heart.

Ann’s sister Nancy joined circa 73/74 and the sisters quickly established themselves as the main songwriters.

Magic Man

A simple groove and Ann Wilson’s iconic voice. It’s almost psychedelic and progressive.

Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child)

It’s a dreamy acoustic arpeggio riff to begin with, before it morphs into some serious acoustic folk rock playing from Nancy Wilson.

Crazy On You

Press play to hear the riff and the infectious vocal melody. This is what Hook City sounds like.

Soul Of The Sea

Another dreamy washy acoustic guitar riff forms the centrepiece. Almost “Albatross” like. The structure of verse and chorus is not here. It feels like verses and various gateways to progressive like movements, more mood and atmospheric like than a million notes per minute.

Dreamboat Annie

Flamenco like acoustic arpeggios are its foundation.

White Lightning And Wine

Its greasy and sleazy blues.

Love Me Like Music (I’ll Be Your Song)

Country folk rock. Even in the title.

Sing Child

Press play to hear the intro riff.

How Deep It Goes

More dreamy/smoking weed acoustic folk rock.

Dreamboat Annie – Reprise

It continues with the dreamy acoustic guitars. Campfire folk rock.

In the end, the standout track here is “Crazy On You”. It’s melodic rock at its best. Then press play on “Magic Man” for its rock groove and vocal melody. If you are still interested, crank the blues rock of “White Lightning and Wine” and finish it off with the dreamy trilogy suite of “Dreamboat Annie” songs.

In Australia, the album went Gold. In Canada in went 2x Platinum and in the U.S it went Platinum.

The success of the album indirectly led to a break between the band and label.

The band tried to renegotiate their royalty rate to be more in keeping with what they thought a platinum band should be earning. Mushroom wasn’t interested so instead of paying the band more in royalties they used the money earned from the band to take out a full-page ad in Rolling Stone, to mock the band, with a special dig to Ann and Nancy Wilson.

Not long after the ad appeared, a radio promoter asked Ann about her lover; he was referring to Nancy, thus implying that the sisters were incestuous lesbian lovers. The encounter infuriated Ann who went back to her hotel and wrote the words to what became one of Heart’s signature songs, “Barracuda”.

The band then signed with Portrait Records.

But Mushroom wasn’t done yet. It’s a big no-no in label land to let an act leave and make money with another label. So Mushroom said that the band was still bound to the contract, which meant they had to deliver two more albums. The band refused and Mushroom released “Magazine” with incomplete tracks, studio outtakes and live material and a disclaimer on the cover in 1977.

The band got a federal injunction to stop distribution of the 1977 edition of “Magazine”. Most of the initial 50,000 pressings were recalled from stores. The court eventually decided that the band could sign with Portrait, however they did owe Mushroom a second album. The band returned to the studio to re-record, remix, edit, and re-sequence the recordings.

“Magazine” was re-released in 1978 and sold a million copies in less than a month.

P.S. 

Mushroom Records went bankrupt by 1980 although an Australian arm of Mushroom did survive well into the 2000’s.

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

1976 – Part 5.2: Abba – Arrival

There is no denying their cultural impact with this album and subsequent re-success in the decades to come.

Before “Arrival”, they had traction, and after “Arrival” they had global success. And it’s all on the back of a few singles.

“Dancing Queen” was everywhere in the 70’s and again in the 90’s and beyond with “Mamma Mia”. In Australia, there was a local film called “Muriel’s Wedding” which was a big hit.

It centered on Muriel, her favorite band ABBA and how all she wants to do is to get married.

So the music of ABBA forms the backbone of the film’s soundtrack.

Songwriters Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson allowed their use in the film and permitted “Dancing Queen” to be adapted as an orchestral piece. Additional ABBA songs included are “Mamma Mia”, “Waterloo”, “Fernando”, and “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”.

ABBA only gave permission for their music to be included in the film two weeks before shooting commenced and the filmmakers were considering changing Muriel’s favourite band to “The Village People”.

“Knowing Me, Knowing You” is the embryo of melodic rock. Pianist Benny Andersson said it was one of their five best recordings. Pay attention to the harmony guitars from Bjorn Ulvaeus.

“Money, Money, Money”, I had the 7 inch single and it was another hit.

How good is the music?

Almost theatrical yet melodic with a bit of classical and gypsy chucked in.

“Fernando” was a hit in Australia, spending almost three months at Number 1, but I’m not a fan of it.

In Australia, this album was huge but like all of their albums in the 70s they didn’t sell in the multi-millions. That honor goes to their “Greatest Hits” album from 1993 that sold in the multi millions.

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Music

2022 – The Rest

Not As Good As I Expected

Megadeth – the riffs are there on a lot of the songs, but the vocal melodies are hit and miss.

Halestorm – I feel like Lzzy believes she needs to scream and throw her throat out all the time like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson to rock hard. She doesn’t. She is an unbelievable singer, guitarist and songwriter.

Papa Roach – Yeah, 10 out of 10 for incorporating different mainstream sounds into their music, but it’s too far departed from who they are.

Crashdiet – I needed more from the same creative juices that wrote “Together Whatever”, “Shine On”, “No Man’s Land”, “Dead Crusade” and “Darker Minds”.

Bullet For My Valentine – They are suffering an identity crises. I don’t know why artists believe that if they scream and growl they get more creds for being tough. Matt Tuck is one hell of a vocalist and when he gets the clean tone and the screamo correct in a song, it’s excellent.

Five Finger Death Punch – They have no identity crises here, but it’s the same as all the albums.

Stryper – with Michael Sweet doing a few different hard rock projects, it’s cool that he is keeping Stryper as metal as they can be. But. I still want the hooks.

Disturbed – the duet with Ann Wilson from Heart (“Don’ Tell Me”) is the best thing on this album. The rest is same same.

I’m Interested Again

Skid Row – If Motley Crue could find a way to work together, then I am pretty sure Skid Row could have done so as well. But whatever Sebastian Bach said to Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo many years ago it has left a wound that would not heal, so in the last 25 years, the fans have had a few different versions of the band with different drummers and vocalists.

But this time, the dance is different. They have a hard rock vocalist, who grew up on the hard rock that Skid Row wrote and who used Sebastian Bach as an influence. I guess “The Gang’s All Here”.

Arch Enemy – The riffs. Super melodic and headbanging at the same time. Press play on “Deceivers”.

 

 

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Guilty Pleasure – My Spotify 2022 Stats

Evergrey (songs from their new album, “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)” and last years “Escape Of The Phoenix), Machine Head (songs from their new album only) and The Butterfly Effect (songs from their new album and “Final Conversation” (2008)) took up a lot of space in my Top Songs 2022 Spotify List as each artist had new albums this year.

So did Free Spirits Rising, a one man band from Australia. It’s very diverse, ranging from old school thrash metal, heavy metal and hard rock, and its raw/demo sounding and I like it. A song is released every two months or something like that. Check out songs like “Midnight Train” (melodic hard rock), “Chasing Days” (80’s thrash), “Outside The Lines” (melodic metal), “It’s OK” (pop rock), “Time Trigger” (80’s thrash) and “It Starts With Me” (acoustic rock). There is a lot of variety there. Hell, chuck in “Prey” for its nod to AC/DC.

The Night Flight Orchestra – From Sweden, a side project from Extreme Metal musicians is 10 years deep into their career. Their songs, “Moonlight Skies” (2021), “White Jeans” (2021), “Burn For Me” (2021) and “Taurus” (2020) are still in my Top Songs lists.

Volbeat – From Sweden, “Shotgun Blues” (2021) and “The Passenger” (2021) are still in my Top Songs lists.

John Petrucci – From the U.S, “Happy Song” (2020) is still in my Top Songs lists.

De Mont – From Australia, the band broke up circa 1993/94, however their song “In My Dreams” (1989) is in my Top Songs list.

Daughtry – From the U.S, the song “September” (2009) and various tracks from his recent album “Dearly Beloved” (2021) are in my Top Songs list.

Birds Of Tokyo – From Australia, their song “Broken Bones” (2008) is in my 2022 list.

Dream Theater – From the U.S, “A Change Of Seasons” (1995) was a go to track this year.

Metallica – From the U.S “Master Of Puppets” (1986) is in my 2022 list. How can you not play it after “Stranger Things”.

Times Of Grace – From the U.S “To Carry The Weight” (2021) is in my 2022 list.

Disturbed – From the U.S “The Vengeful One” (2015) and “The Light” (2015) appeared in my 2022 list.

Ghost – From Sweden, the song “Griftwood” (2022) and “Kaisarion” are in my 2022 list.

Arch Enemy – From Sweden, the song “Poisoned Arrow” (2022) and “Handshake With Hell (2022) are in my 2022 list.

Vanishing Point – From Australia, songs like “The Fall” (2020) and “Count Your Days” (2020) are still doing the rounds.

Jorn – From Norway, his cover of “Running Up That Hill” was in my top songs playlists for the last three years, way before Kate Bush made a comeback on the back of “Stranger Things”.

Reckless Love – From Finland, their cover of “Bark At The Moon” (2022) is in my 2022 list.

Gun – From Scotland, reformed in a way and re-imagining some of their songs from their three big albums between 1989 and 1994. In this case “Better Days”, the 2022 version (the song originally came out in 1989) made it to my 2022 list.

Trivium – From the U.S, “The Defiant” (2020) is in my 2022 list.

Dio – Thank you God for giving us Ronnie James Dio (RIP). Classic songs like “Rainbow In The Dark” (1983) and “We Rock” (1984) are still sticking around.

Bad Wolves – From the U.S. their song “Lifeline” (2021) was in my Top 2022 list.

King King – From Scotland, their song “Fire In My Soul” (2020) was in my top songs.

Queensryche – From the U.S, the song “Walk In The Shadows” (1985) connected with me this year and it made it to my 2022 list.

Dee Snider – The voice of my youth, straight from the U.S, with “I Gotta Rock (Again)” is back in my Tip Songs list.

Black Label Society – From the U.S, “Angel Of Mercy” (2014) is still in my Top Songs lists. The guitar solo is one of my favourites ever.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

2022 – The 9 to 12

Okay let’s get going with the 2022 review.

Audrey Horne

From Norway.

Another side project from extreme metallers to pay homage to their classic rock and metal influences which has become their main project. Think of bands like Kiss, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Helloween, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Tool, Metallica, Cheap Trick.

“Devils Bell” follows the excellent “Blackout” album from 2018, which featured “This Is War” and “Audrevolution”, two of my favourites from the.

As soon as you press play to “Ashes to Ashes”, the harmony guitars assault your ear buds. It’s almost doom like and after 46 seconds, the song morphs into something different, but it’s at the 1.40 mark when the guitar hero riff kicks in.

“Animal” has a riff straight from the rule book of the NWOBHM. “Breakout” has a killer riff that is from the 80’s, very Jake E. Lee (Ozzy period) and George Lynch (Dokken period) like and it morphs into a Jimmy Page riff, something like he played on “Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” on Coverdale/Page.

“Return To Grave Valley” (an instrumental) has a Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden influence, which they also used on the excellent “This Is War” from the previous album.

“Danse Macabre” (translates to Dance With Death) has nothing to do with Ghost except that both songs have great riffs and catchy vocal melodies.

“Devils Bell” continues the Iron Maiden/Helloween influences. Make sure you stick around for the interlude/harmony solo section. “All Is Lost” has another killer guitar intro and stick around for the killer middle section which features vocal ohhs and harmony guitars.

“Toxic Twins” has some excellent guitar work. The names Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and Thomas Tofthagen don’t have the same recognition as other guitarist, but these dudes can play and wail with the best of em. Underneath it all are the mammoth sized bass lines from Espen Lien and the thunderous Bonham meets McBrian drums of Kjetil Grev.

Another key ingredient to Audrey Horne are the early Ozzy like vocals from Torkjell “Toschie” Rod. Its unique enough to be his own and it has enough elements to pay homage to Ozzy.

“From Darkness” channels Uli Jon Roth from his Scorpions days. Think “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man”. And that solo section again, brings back memories of their love for Iron Maiden.

Compared to the streaming numbers of other bands, Audrey Horne is way below those numbers with most of the songs under 100K in streams.

Alter Bridge

From the U.S.

I wasn’t sure I was going to spend time to listen to “Pawns And Kings”. I feel like Myles’s voice is everywhere these days with so many projects happening that I enjoy, like his work with Slash, his Alter Bridge work plus his solo career. But as a guitarist, I am always super keen to hear what Mark Tremonti is up to.

I try to not listen to the pre-release singles but on this case I did spend time with a few. How can you deny a track with the title “This Is War” or “Pawns And Kings”. In the words of Yoda, “impressed, I was”.

After a long three month lead in, the album finally dropped in October, 2022. Compared to the streaming numbers of say, Three Days Grace new album, this one feels like it’s forgotten, however Three Days Grace does have a four month heads start.

The very metal like “This Is War” gives way to the heavy rock riffage of “Dead Among The Living”, which could have come from the recent Tremonti album. “Metalilngus” from their debut album is one of their most streamed songs at 101 million streams on Spotify, so it’s no surprise they try and keep the metal going with “Silver Tongue” which is also their most streamed song from the new album at 3.1 million streams on Spotify.

The intro riff on “Sin After Sin”. Wow. Press play and enjoy the almost 7 minute long song that moves between heavy metal, groove metal and heavy rock. At 1.4 million Spotify streams, it’s one of the Top 5 songs from the album when it comes to streams.

The sequencing on the album is excellent, as it transitions to a major key pop rock song in “Stay”. It’s much welcomed after the groove metal behemoth “Sin After Sin” before it. And at 756,559 streams its more or less forgotten, but it shouldn’t be.

“Fable Of The Silent Son” is an 8 minute epic that kept me interested throughout. Because while it starts off all dreamy like at 2.50 an almost djent like riff kicks in and they make it sound accessible. At the 5 minute mark this Tool like section kicks in before it goes into a Randy Rhoads style like solo section. This is the Alter Bridge I like, when they go back to the 70’s Rock albums and experiment.

And the sequencing again is spot on, as they hit us with a major key song in “Season Of Promise”. Stick around for the section between 2.30 and 3.30, because when Myles is singing like that, how can you not like it.

“Last Man Standing” is the least streamed track on the album at 490K Spotify streams. But I am hooked from the digital delay riff in the intro and that riff that kicks in at the 57 second mark.

The title track. Wow. Especially the “One” like section from about the 2.50 mark. 6 minutes and 18 seconds later I needed to hear it again. When the solo kicks in, the riff under it is very Middle Eastern sounding, so Tremonti is operating in the Phrygian Dominant scale. If you are a Muse fan, then you will enjoy the outro.

Bush

From the U.K.

How good was “The Kingdom” (2020)? 

Well Gavin Rossdale must have thought the same, because he is continuing to live in the music and style of said album with a few little tweaks here and there. As a side note, the song “Undone” from “The Kingdom” only has about 500K Spotify Streams, but wow, what a song that is. 

I feel like I am drowning with “Heavy Is The Ocean”, its downtuned and depressive riffage sinking me.

“Slow Me” immediately hooks me, as it starts off with the vocal melody. “More Than Machines” is the most streamed song at 2.29 Spotify Streams. How good is the vocal melody during the Chorus?

“May Your Love Be Pure” and “Shark Bite” bring the groove rock, while “Human Sand” brings back the retro 70’s feel of Classic Fuzz Rock in the intro. “Kiss Me I’m Dead” also has an intro riff which reminds of 80’s metal. “Identity” has a head banging industrial metal riff ala Rammstein.

“Creatures Of The Fire” is as good as anything on the charts and at 127,815 Spotify streams, the song is forgotten. It reminds me of the excellent “Undone” from “The Kingdom” album.

The closer “1000 Years” is also a favourite, with its synth like guitar riff and Rossdale’s sad vocal delivery.

Shinedown

From the U.S.

It’s not their best work but probably their most angriest. A lot of living has happened between “Attention Attention” (2018) and “Planet Zero”. It’s no surprise that George Floyd, the Insurrection and Covid lockdowns get some attention on this album.

After a brief 22 second intro from “2184”, a punk metal burner called “No Sleep Tonight” kicks in. “Planet Zero” was one of the lead singles and its sitting at 16.2 million Spotify streams, but it’s not the best song by a long shot.

“Dysfunctional You” could have come from “The Sound Of Madness” while “Dead Don’t Die” would keep the fans from “Threat To Survival” happy. 

“America Burning” is patchy. 

But “A Symptom Of Being Human” is by far the best track on the album. An acoustic song, which could have been written during the Smith And Myers sessions, it arrives on this album, exactly when you need it.

“Hope” is a four letter word, is the hook for the song. It’s classic Shinedown doing rock ballads with balls.

“Clueless and Dramatic” is “The Sound Of Madness” part 2 and I like it. “Sure Is Fun” is anything but, while “Daylight” is showing to be a sleeper hit with 7.3 million Spotify streams and counting. It lives in the Shinedown meets The Script meets Imagine Dragons world. 

“The Saints Of Violence And Innuendo” is a cross between Brit Pop and Aerosmith while “Army Of The Underappreciated” is a miss. “What You Wanted” could have come from Smith and Myers.

As a fan, the last two albums have been hit and miss. Three to five killer tracks and the rest loaded with filler.

Just missed out

Reckless Love

From Finland.

The album “Turborider” was moved out of 12th place because somewhere in my subconscious I couldn’t have an EOY list and not have Shinedown on it, especially when they have a new album out.

But check out songs like “Turborider”, “Outrun”, their cover of “Bark At The Moon”, “Like A Cobra”, “For The Love Of Good Times” and “89 Sparkle” sounds like a modern disco dance cut with a dash of hard rock. “Future Lover Boy” is another dance rock tune, with synths and a metronomic drum beat.

“Prodigal Sons” is the heaviest track, reminding me of early The Rasmus. And my favourite.

It’s nothing earth shattering, not really original, the lyrics are dumb, but Reckless Love do their homage to the 80’s really well. And I like it. On some occasions it almost comes across as parody. But never boring and a 35 minute blast from start to finish. And there is still plenty of shred on hand for the guitar purists.

So why didn’t it make my Top 12. 

It’s the electronic dance beats and synths. These add ons on each track made the songs sound too computerized and in some stages the auto-tuned vocals robotic. But I think that was the style they were going for.

Let your ears do the decision making for you. 

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

2022 – The 5 to 8

Say hello to the next four.

Coheed And Cambria

From the United States.

“Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind” continues their “Amory Wars” space opera. The “Vaxis” series takes place after “The Keywork” was destroyed and it follows a couple on the run, along with an “Eleven” like Child which came into they care, as they try and

The thing about CoCa that I like is the variety in the music. You get major key songs which sound like Pop Punk/Metal/Rock songs like “Comatose”, “Rise, Naianasha (Cut The Cord) and “The Liars Club” (My Chemical Romance comes to mind here).

“Shoulders” and “Love Murder One” are modern groove rock tracks.

“A Disappearing Act” could end up on dance floors with its pulsing synth riff and bouncing bass/drum groove, and yet it still rocks hard. Then again, “Love Murder One” has a lot of pop elements as well, which could fit this category as well. “Bad Love” pushes the limits of fusing what is contemporary pop/dance with hard rock. It’s catchy and I like it.

“Blood” is a slow rocker with auto-tuned vocals which serve the song well. It could be on a Post Malone album. “Our Love” is another slow rocker, more U2 and 80’s synth Rush.

“Ladders Of Supremacy” is written after George Floyd’s horrible death. Its heavy and it rocks. And they made it fit the story. Check out it’s Tool like section from the 5 minute mark.

“Window Of The Waking Mind” is progressive in its arrangement and moods.

Claudio Sanchez along with Travis Stever have kept my interest in Coheed and Cambria for the 20 years I have been a fan. During that time drummer Josh Eppard left and came back, while original bassist Michael Todd couldn’t shake off his addictions which put him onto a path of armed break-ins and jail time, who was then replaced by Zach Cooper and what a job Cooper has done the last 10 years he’s been with the band.

Ghost

From Sweden. Their streaming numbers are wow. Along with Volbeat, they are part of big metal acts these days based on their streaming numbers.

“Kaisarion” is a great way to kick into album after the 100 second “Imperium”.

“Spillways” feels like a 70’s Classic Rock track, with its metronomic piano riff. And how creative is the hook, “through the spillways of your soul”. Who comes up with this?

“Call Me Little Sunshine” has me ready to take up arms. It’s clean tone intro feels like the pyramids are getting built and when it cranks into the distortion, it’s time to break desks.

How good is that melodic riff in “Hunters Moon”?

And if the intro to “Watcher In The Sky” doesn’t get you moving, check for a pulse. And that hook, “search lights, looking for the watcher in the sky”. Brilliant.

But my favourite is the Van Halen-ish “Aint Talkin Bout Love” sounding “Griftwood”.

Out Of This World

From Sweden.

I was blown away by this album. Kee Marcello is on guitars and keys here, with Tommy Heart on vocals, Ken Sandin on bass, Darby Todd on drums with Don Airey performing guest keys. In case you are not aware, the name of the band is the same as the album that Kee Marcello played on with Europe. “Out Of This World” was the highly anticipated album after “The Final Countdown” however it only sold half of what the previous album did. Marcello would record the excellent and forgotten “Prisoners Of Paradise” (1992) and he more or less disappeared from the writings of the press.

The way Marcello plays the guitar, he is more of a cross between Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen, then others, and you can hear this on the songs. His love of Styx, early Journey and Toto and their melodic rock songs is also evident here, as it feels like Steve Lukather played on the album. 

Vocalist Tommy Heart is a pro here as well, delivering quality on each song. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how great the music is, if the vocals are crap. And there are no crap vocals here. Hell, on some songs, I feel like Joey Tempest is singing.

The album clocks in at 45 minutes and the only thing I could after it finished is press play again. Tracks like “In A Million Years”, “Lighting Up My Dark”, “Staring At the Sun” and “The Warrior” (Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” comes to mind, then again, “The Winery Dogs” have taken this approach as well) are on par with the well-known tracks from the Melodic Rock and Melodic Metal mainstream era between 1984 and 1991.

Do your ears a favour and press play on it? 

Three Days Grace

From Canada. 

They became mainstream in the early 2000’s (circa 2003/04) and they rode that platinum success for over a decade. Then vocalist Adam Gontier left abruptly in 2013, replaced by Matt Walst from the band My Darkest Days. His brother Brad is the bassist of the band and one of its founders, along with drummer Neil Sanderson and ex-vocalist Gontier. Barry Stock rounds out the band as the second guitarist.

The last album they did with Gontier, “Transit Of Venus” is my least favourite and it’s taken a while for the band to recapture that fan base. “Human” was a good start (“Painkiller is sitting at 140 million streams) but the excellent “Outsider” released in 2018 got me back on board. On Spotify, songs like “Right Left Wrong” (44.1 million streams), “The Mountain” (74.6 million streams), “Infra-Red” (50.7 million streams), “I Am An Outsider” (25.3 million streams), “Strange Days (12.3 million streams) and “The Abyss” (10.1 million streams) need to be listened to. 

So “Explosions” was highly anticipated.

The album immediately introduces the heaviness with “So Called Life”. At 34.2 million streams on Spotify since May 2022, it will surpass a 100 million by this time next year. Because we are looking for something to take the edge off this so called life. 

“I Am The Weapon” is heavy and melodic and it could have come from the melodic metal streets of Sweden. “Neurotic” which features Lukas Rossi is a throwback to the Gontier fronted albums, which will satisfy the core. Along with songs like “No Tomorrow” and “Redemption”. 

You can hear the heartache in “Lifetime”, its slow rock, but if you listen closely, you can hear those ballad like country licks being played.

Press play to hear the intro riffs to “A Scar Is Born”. 

I love the way “Souvenirs” percolates and builds around Matt Walst’s vocal melody until it explodes. And the hooks in the Chorus, “We don’t know why we’re here, but we’re not here for long” and “Surrounded by souvenirs from days that are gone”. Truth right there. At 1.7 million streams the song is more or less forgotten, but it is one of my favourites.

“Champion” is Imagine Dragons and The Script with more grit. “Chain Of Abuse” could have come from Breaking Benjamin. “Someone To Talk To” features the cellos of Apocalyptica,

The closer is the title track.

At 37 minutes long, the album is concise, it rocks hard and the only thing you can do afterwards is press play again.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

2022 – The First 4

Here we go. Some lists for 2022.

Evergrey

From Sweden, they hit onto a particular metal style with the “Hymns For The Broken” (2014) album and “The Storm Within” (2016) and they have been living in that world for over a decade now. “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)” is their latest album, on the backs of “The Atlantic” (2019) and “Escape Of The Phoenix” (2021).

As a fan, I cannot complain at being exposed to 5 studio albums and 1 live album in an 8 year period.

This album has something for everyone.

It’s got heavy melodic rock, with “Call Out The Dark” and “Heartless”, moody atmospheric with “Wildfires”, groove metal with “Save Us” and “Midwinter Calls”, progressive metal with “The Orphean Testament” and “ “, doom metal with “Ominous”, melodic Metal with “Reawakening” and “Blindfolded” and their special brand of metal with atmospheric vibes with “The Great Unwashed”

P.S.
As a guitar player, the album is full of guitar hero moments from vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund and guitarist Henrik Danhage.

Machine Head

From the United States.

After the departure of drummer Dave McClain and guitarist Phil Demmell in 2018, Robb Flynn kept the Machine Head brand going with stand-alone releases with “Do or Die” (2019), “Circle the Drain” (2020), The “Civil Unrest” EP from 2020 which featured “Stop the Bleeding (feat. Killswitch Engage’s Jesse Leach)” and “Bulletproof”.

Robb Flynn got hooked on the anime show “Attack On Titan” and wrote a concept story called “Of Kingdom And Crown” set in a futuristic wasteland which revolves around two characters, Ares and Eros, who both go on their own respective killing sprees following the death of their loved ones.

What an album.

The first 3 minutes of “Slaughter The Martyr” is essential listening as they build it up with great melodic vocals from Robb and bassist Jared MacEachern.

When the fast riff kicks in at 3.10, it’s time to break some desks. And that intro section comes back in at the 8.20 mark where it smacks me in the face with its sadness.

My favourite songs are “Unhallowed” (that head banging riff, plus it is the first song in the album sequence that has a co-write from new lead guitarist Waclaw Kiełtyka), “Arrows In Words From The Sky” (a masterpiece), “My Hands Are Empty” (the vocal melody) plus additional song writing by original MH lead guitarist, Logan Mader “Kill Thy Enemies” (the main Chorus riff plus check out that bridge section at 2.40) and “No Gods, No Masters” (the whole song is a masterpiece).

Long Distance Calling

The names of Dave Jordan and Florian Funtmann on guitar, Janosch Rathmer on drums and Jan Hoffman on bass are virtually unknown.

From Germany, it’s all instrumental and I was tuned in the whole time. This isn’t instrumental like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. It’s different. There is always a groove and a riff which form the foundation. Then they decorate. But it’s not a 1000 notes per second decorating. It’s melodic, sometimes it’s just a single note droning across the different bars of the riff. And the drummer by Janosch Rathmer is superb.

After a haunting music box minute intro they kick into the riff heavy “Blades”. But it’s the moody songs like “Kamilah”, “Sloth”, “Blood Honey” and “Eraser” (that section from 4.50 to the end, a masterpiece) that really connect with me. Also check out the riff at 4.30 in “500 Years”, the intro section to “Giants Leaving”, and that melodic riff in “Landless King” at 1.30 or that clean tone section from 3.30.

I don’t like to label them with other bands names because their soundscapes are unique to their own but people like to have that association. Pink Floyd were classified as progressive rock, so is King Crimson, so is Tool, so I

And I want to make mention of the title track “Eraser”. There is a video done in conjunction with Greenpeace which shows how much of the world humanity has erased. Check it out on YouTube. And if you are a fan of the band, you will note how the last track on the previous album “How Do We Want To Live?” had the spoken words of “Humanity is the virus”. In this case, there are no words spoken, but the YT video makes it clear that that “Humanity erases nature instead of living in equilibrium with it”.

The Butterfly Effect

From Australia, “IV” is their fourth album (“duh”) however it is their first piece of new music in over 14 years and what a triumphant return it is.

This album was also anticipated highly by me. You see “TBE” are part of a group of Australian artists like Cog, Karnivool, Birds Of Tokyo, Dead Letter Circus, Superheist and The Superjesus that I really got into between 2001 and 2012. One of the bands I was in opened up for Cog quite a few times.

Every song is strong.

“IV” is a raw, sad instrumental which leads into “Dark Light” and that pseudo melodic metal Chorus. I feel like I hear “Come Undone” in “The Other Side” and I like it.

“So Tired” sounds like a demented Guns N Roses in the verses and a section which reminds me of Aussie rockers “Powderfinger”. But make sure you stick around for the interlude section of the song (which also sees the song to the end). The music and the vocals of Boge as he sings “It’s not over now”. It’s unbelievable.

“Unbroken” is the most streamed song from the album at 458K streams. Its melodicism immediately infects me.

But closing track, “Visiting Hours” is a masterpiece to me. It is an accumulation of their first three albums into an atmospheric, progressive ballad.

Vocalist Clint Boge is one of the best in the business. Guitarist Kurt Goedhart is a riff-meister and he decorates each track expertly while bassist Glenn Esmond and drummer Ben Hall showcase why they are one of the tightest rhythm sections around.

Or in the case of the metal-esque song “Great Heights” one of the most expressive rhythm sections.

And in keeping with the Aussie spirit of sinking a few cold ones before a show, The Butterfly Effect teamed up with their favourite brewery, Green Beacon Brewing Co, to create an ‘Amplified Ale’, which was available to enjoy on their recent sold out tour.

I’ll drink to that.

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