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

Randy Rhoads And The Blizzards

It’s a new year and I’m listening to songs from yesteryear. After overdosing on a Dio playlist I created that covered his Rainbow, Black Sabbath and solo career up to “Lock Up The Wolves”, between Xmas and New Year, I returned to one of my biggest influences, Randy Rhoads and the “Blizzard of Ozz” album. Hell, the project could have been called just that. Randy Rhoads And The Blizzards.

It all started when Ozzy auditioned Randy in LA. Afterwards they jammed for a few days with Dana Strum and Frankie Banali. Then Ozzy went back to England and he met Bob Daisley. Ozzy and Daisley jammed with another guitarist and drummer however Daisley mentioned that they needed better players. Ozzy mentioned Randy Rhoads, however the label wanted a well-known British guitarist, but no one was interested to join because of Ozzy’s reputation. Gary Moore was Ozzy’s first choice and he rejected the offer to audition. Eventually the label relented and Randy was flown over to London. Rhoads and Daisley started writing music and it worked well. Lee Kerslake came towards the end of the writing process.

At that point in time, Ozzy was still married to Thelma Osbourne and Sharon had just taken over as Ozzy’s manager. Don Arden, her father, was the manager of Jet Records. David Arden (Sharon’s brother) was taking care of the managerial side of things during the Blizzard album cycle and Sharon got involved for “Diary of a Madman”.

I Don’t Know

Black Sabbath was just a rock and roll band from Birmingham, England, however fans of the band saw them as seers. Stories abound of fans asking Ozzy, what’s the future of mankind? Or when is the final day? And his answer was always, he doesn’t know. He’s just a rock and roll singer. Daisley was inspired by this story and fleshed out the lyrics.

The “A” pedal point riff in the intro is the first thing people heard and what an introduction riff it is. It is a simply ascending pedal point riff which Randy flourishes with harmonic pinches, artificial harmonics, legato licks and whammy bar dives.

This is Randy Rhoads announcing to the world that there is a new guitar hero in town.

Crazy Train

After getting blown away by “I Don’t Know”, the ear drums were assaulted once again with “Crazy Train.” The F#m demonic intro is a sing along riff and immediately identifiable. You can call this song Ozzy’s biggest hit and according to the chart makers back in the day, it never registered. But not on Spotify and YouTube it’s huge. The new paradigm shows us what is being listened too.

Bob Daisley provided the title while Randy Rhoads had the riff and the chord structure. For the lyrics, Bob Daisley used Ozzy’s vocal melodies and referenced what was happening in 1979/80. The Berlin Wall was still up and the Cold War between the USSR and USA was still going on. It’s pretty crazy when you think of how many millions of people are affected by religion and power hungry leaders from both sides.

And then you have that logically laid out, super melodic and shred happy solo section. What more can be said?

Listen and enjoy and play air guitar.

Goodbye To Romance

It’s a one-two-three knockout punch.

“Goodbye To Romance” was Ozzy’s title and it came from an Everly Brothers song called “Bye Bye Love.”

The lyrics were written by Bob Daisley and the subject matter was Ozzy’s “divorce” from Black Sabbath.

On the “Don’t Blame Me” video, Ozzy mentions he was humming the vocal melody, and Randy heard it and developed the chords around the melody. Ozzy’s revisionist take makes it sound that Bob Daisley was not involved at all in the song writing process, which is obviously not true at all.

It’s the piece d’resistance in guitar playing. The jazz like chords in the verses, the arpeggio chorus riff and that guitar solo. This song connects from the very first note but it is that descending chorus riff that is pure gold.

Listening to the studio version of the song with its many layers and then hearing the way Randy composed his live performance is awe inspiring.

Dee

Randy’s acoustic instrumental. Though Rhoads is best known for the heavier side of his guitar playing, his ambition was to devote his time to classical music. “Dee” served as an example of his devotion to classical/flamenco music however it was songs like “Goodbye To Romance”, “Revelation Mother Earth” and “Diary of A Madman” that showcased how powerful classical is in a heavy metal setting.

“Suicide Solution”

Ozzy borrowed the opening line “Wine is fine but whiskeys quicker” from somewhere else and Bob Daisley wrote the rest about Ozzy’s addiction to alcohol. The song ended up in the courts when the parents of an 18 year old kid wanted to blame someone for their son committing suicide. Suddenly, the song when played backwards had subliminal messages on it, which could convince kids to harm themselves.

The whole intro riff is just full of attitude and defiance. If you are familiar with the work that Randy Rhoads did with Quiet Riot, you would have noticed the influence of the QR song “Force of Habit”.

Mr Crowley

Mr. Crowley was Ozzy’s idea to cover the darker occult things in life however Daisley wrote the words.

The “was it polemically sent” part before the outro solo is just goose bumps stuff. I love the way the harmony guitar lines interweave over a classical chord progression. It’s the calm before the storm.

From a lead guitarist point of view, Mr Crowley served as a showcase of the talent that is Randy Rhoads.

No Bone Movies

For a last minute addition to the album, the song rocks hard in a live setting. It’s sleazy and perfect for the era.

Revelation Mother Earth

Daisley wrote the lyrics, taking inspiration from the Book of Revelation.

The finger picked part at the start is breathtaking, the interlude is subdued and relaxing but that outro is breathless.

On the “Tribute” live album, the tempo is increased, further increasing the status of the song to legendary.

Steal Away the Night

That intro is similar to the chorus riff in “Suicide Solution” at a higher tempo. Whereas in “Suicide Solution” it is a climbing motif, in “Steal Away the Night” it is a repeating motif.

There is also another nod to the Quiet Riot song “Breaking Up Is A Heartache” in the riff that comes after the chorus.

Remember that progress is derivative and Randy Rhoads was very good at that technique. Sometimes he would take bits and pieces from a lot of different songs to form one cohesive riff.

You Looking At Me, Looking At You

It’s a B-side and this song doesn’t get the attention it deserves. An argument can be put forward as to why “No Bone Movies” made it on the album and not this song.

The intro is Seventies Arena Melodic Rock. I can understand why the song didn’t get included on the album as it could have been deemed to poppy from the very metal sounding Blizzard album, however the riff is infectious.

Even in the pre chorus Randy Rhoads plays palm muted arpeggios (like Eddie Van Halen) and something that Vito Bratta employed on a constant basis. And that lead break just comes out of nowhere like another song within the same song composition. Again it reminds me of what Vito Bratta would end up doing.

By the way, if anyone is familiar with the work that Randy Rhoads did with Quiet Riot, they would have noticed the rhythm guitar riff coming from a Quiet Riot song called “Kiss of Death”, that was only performed live, and the lead intro part is from the Quiet Riot song called “Trouble.” Also, the same structure can be heard on the song “Breaking Up Is A Heartache” also from Quiet Riot.

This song shows what a band “Blizzard Of Ozz” was. Yes, that band had Randy Rhoads on guitar, Bob Daisley on bass, Lee Kerslake on drums and Ozzy Osbourne on vocals.

Jet Records put a picture of Ozzy on the front cover. This didn’t sit well with Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake who wanted a picture of the band. As far as they knew, they signed up to be in a band not as backing musicians for a solo artist. But record label politics always get in the way and self-interests of others take advantage of the situation.

You Said it All

The first time I heard this song was on the “Mr. Crowley Live EP.”

Randy had the basic riff and the song was put together musically by Rhoads and Daisley. Drummer Kerslake came up with the vocal melody while Ozzy crashed under the drum riser and Daisley then took the tape of Kerslake’s melody back to the hotel and wrote the lyrics.

These day’s guitarists can do unbelievable and very advanced things on the guitar but none of them have the magic and song sense of Randy Rhoads.

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

Random Listening

Happy new year to everyone. 2018 is here, so let the listening begin.

I started off my working day with Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Trilogy” album. I really dig the songs “You Don’t Remember (I’ll Never Forget)”, “Queen In Love”, “Magic Mirror”, “Fire” and the instrumentals “Crying” and Trilogy”. So many great riffs and leads in those songs. Hell chuck in “Liar” and “Fury”.

Actually does anyone remember the plane incident with Malmsteen where he said to the flight attendant they’ve unleased the fucking fury?

I am sure there is an internet meme out there.

When the U.S record labels went anti shred in the 90’s, the Japanese and South American markets kept his career going. But there is no denying his 80’s output and it’s a shame that a rumoured collaboration with Ronnie James Dio never happened. Actually not sure how true that was as it was in the rumors section of Metal Edge or Hot Metal.

Then I moved to “Trash” from Alice Cooper. It’s been a long time since I heard the full album from start to finish and man I still dig it. I know its commercial sounding and that Desmond Child is producing, but man, its chock full of good songs.

And it’s Alice Fucking Cooper singing. How can it not be good?

The real gems are “Spark In The Dark”, “This Maniac Is In Love With You”, “I’m Your Gun”, “Why Trust You” and “Trash”. They are Alice all the way and when you add the pop metal tunes in “Poison”, “House Of Fire”, “Only My Heart Talkin”, “Bed Of Nails” and “Hell Is Living Without You”, you get to understand why it the album was so popular and moved a lot of units around the world.

Afterwards, “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche got a listen. This is a monster concept album. It’s funny how Mustaine once called em “Yuppie metal” and at the same time Metallica put them as openers on their “Justice” U.S trek. Maybe having the same management team in Q Prime helped. But there is no denying the power of the album and the lyrical message.

“Revolution Calling”, “Operation Mindcrime”, “Speak”, “The Mission”, “Spreading The Disease”, “Suite Sister Mary”, The Needle Lies”, “Breaking The Silence”, “I Don’t Believe In Love” and “Eyes Of A Stranger” all have excellent guitar playing and the album gave me a tonne of great ideas and phrases to use as influences in my own song writing.

It was only ten past eleven (just before noon) and I clicked on Spotify’s recommendations. “Flesh and Blood” from Poison was recommended. Even though I listened to the vinyl a lot in the 90’s, I haven’t cranked it on Spotify at all.

It starts off with the pointless “Strange Days of Uncle Jack”, before it goes into “Valley Of Lost Souls”, which to me is one hell of good song and the best on the album. “(Flesh and Blood) Sacrifice” comes next and it’s a one-two knock-out punch. The pointless “Swampjuice” (Soul-O) is up before “Unskinny Bop” starts rolling. I know it was a single and one of their big songs, but I wasn’t really a fan.

“Let It Play” could have been on a John Cougar Mellencamp or Bryan Adams album while “Life Goes On” is a good power ballad and CC plays a tasty intro lead to the song and in the main lead section. “Come Hell or High Water” is another underrated tune in the vein of the Classic Rock of the 70’s that doesn’t get its dues.

“Ride The Wind” is another sleeper, while “Don’t Give Up An Inch” is a bit derivative of “Come Hell or High Water”. “Something To Believe In” copies the “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” country bluesy vibe, however this time, the piano is the main driver instead of the acoustic guitar.

“Ball And Chain” is unfinished. “Life Loves A Tragedy” is another sleeper song that deserves more attention. “Poor Boy Blues” sounds like a drunken 12 bar blues jam which ended up on the record.

“Blow My Fuse” from Kix was up next. Now this album is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative model”.

It starts off with “Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT” which sounds very familiar like something from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. “Get It While It’s Hot” is heavily influenced by “You Shook Me All Night Long” from AC/DC. Actually it’s very heavily, heavily influenced.

“No Ring Around Rosie” is a beefed up “La Grange” from ZZ Top in the verses. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is taking its cues from “Home Sweet Home” and “Dream On”. “She Dropped Me The Bomb” is again heavily influenced by AC/DC with a touch of The Who.  “Cold Blood” is a very similar to “Long Way To The Top” from AC/DC in the verses.

“Piece Of The Pie” is very heavily influenced by Aerosmith. “Boomerang” is influenced by Led Zeppelin. “Blow My Fuse” is such a good track where the influences are not as obvious as the other tracks. “Dirty Boys” is influenced by “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC.

Finally, Winger is up, with “Kip Winger” becoming a face on a dartboard when Metallica was recording the “Black” album. All in all, Winger (the band) was a powerful unit of brilliant musicians. If you purchased Winger for earth shattering lyrics, this wasn’t the band. But if you wanted to hear great music and good melodies and arena rock choruses, well you wouldn’t be disappointed.

The groovy “Can’t Get Enough” kicks off the album and it’s followed by “Loosen Up” which probably should have been lost from the album. When “Miles Away” came on, I wasn’t sure if it was Bad English or Def Leppard. It’s one of those slow tempo melodic rock songs. “Easy Come Easy Go” has a cool groove and I dig the horn section in the verses.

The next two songs are two of my favourite songs. “Rainbow In The Rose” is an interesting song, a cross between Toto and Journey. It’s very mature musically. “In The Day We’ll Never See” is another mature song and to be honest it’s a shame that these kinds of songs get lost behind the generic MTV songs that each band recorded.

There are a few misses and then the title track bookends the album, which again is another mature track lost behind the more commercial tunes.

I must say, not a bad day at work.

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

Livin’ On The Chain Gang  

I sang this song to my little guy when I was driving and he’s now obsessed with it. Because he’s playing it over and over and over and over again on his Spotify account, he’s hooked me back into it.

Because of the truth in the lyrics.

You get a power chord and then a vocal melody. Did Skid Row try and recreate “Still Of The Night”?

It follows the same structure and in truth Coverdale and Sykes tried to recreate “Jailhouse Rock” with “Still of the Knight”.

Turn on the TV, Cause I got nowhere to go
Seems that there’s a little trouble down in Mexico
A 13-year-old boy robs a store so he can eat
And they got him doing time while killers walk the streets

Has anything changed in Mexico since this song was written?
Drug cartels obliterate families and villages while the killers still roam at large. Hell, some of them might have passports to enter Australia or the U.S. Meanwhile, small petty crimes get punished.

Once Bach sings “streets” he holds the note forever while the single note riff kicks in. Like “Still Of The Night”.

A hungry politician is the wolf that’s at the door
Hell-bent on submission and feeding’ on the poor
We could stare into the sun if we would open up our eyes
But we paint ourselves into a corner coloured in white lies

So true. Politicians want applause, want to be liked and want to please their donors. So while they seek submission from the poor, they then submit themselves to their donor and the corporations who are paying them millions to introduce laws to benefit their business model.

Busted on a rock pile
Getting dusted in the heat
Shackled to the system
And dragging’ my feet

Once you borrow money from an institution, you need to pay it back. And before long, you realise you are shackled to the system. If you don’t pay it back, you start to default. Default a few more times and your name is added to a credit database. And suddenly life becomes harder. The system is designed to benefit the rich and only the rich.

I’m riding on a breakdown
Another white knuckled shakedown
Feels like I’m living’ on a chain gang
I’m riding on a breakdown
A suicidal shakedown
Feels like I’m living’ on a chain gang

There are so many cool combination of words to unpack.

Riding on a breakdown means trying to live your life while the system of authority collapses all around you or your relationship goes bad or your mental state starts to border crazy.

A white knuckled shakedown means squeezing your hand into a fist because you’ve been conned, lost money or had some injustice done to you by a corrupt law enforcement officer or a corrupt corporation.

A suicidal shakedown means doing something dangerous or undertaking something dangerous because you’ve been conned, lost money or had some injustice done to you by a corrupt law enforcement officer or a corrupt corporation.

Living on a chain gang is comparing modern life to being a group of prisoners chained together to perform physically challenging work as a form of punishment.

A con man’s intuition can wash your sins away
Send your contribution and he’ll save your soul today
What can he know, has he been through hell and back
He takes the cash and drives it home in a brand new Cadillac

Ponzi schemes, religious preachers and shady business people litter our lives. And everyone wants to make money. Swipe your credit card here and your soul will be saved. Send a few dollars and your soul will be saved. Give someone $20K and they promise to turn it to $100K. Everyone is scheming and dealing.

I guess it does feel like living on a chain gang.

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

Daily Mix

My Spotify daily mix was full of niceties today. It started me off in 1994 (Motley Crue), went back to 1986 (Van Halen), then to 1987 (Whitesnake), then back to 1986 (Tesla), then back to 1988 (Europe), then back to 1987 (Dio and Twisted Sister), 1991 (Skid Row) and back to 1987 (Great White)

Power To The Music

The Motley Corabi line up kicks off my day. Tommy Lee kills it behind the kit as he grooves this song to perfection. The self-titled album is the forgotten album in the Motley Crue revisionist history. It’s like 1993 to 1996 never happened.

Power To The Music
Who said the music’s dead in the streets?
Don’t know what they talk about.
They gotta put a bullet in my head if they want to keep me down

When I first heard this song, the message was load and clear. The record labels might have put their support behind new musical movements, but rock music was far from dead.

Good Enough

“Hello baby”, screams Sammy, before the Van Halen brothers and Michael Anthony thunder in and Sammy starts singing about how a fine woman is like U.S prime grade beef. Totally 80’s and totally male.

Wow, U.S. Prime, grade A stamped guaranteed
Grease it up and turn on the heat
You gotta throw it down and roll it over once, maybe twice
Then chow down, down, down, down

Don’t Turn Away

It’s a forgotten song from the mega selling 1987 album. I love it because of the up tempo ending. It reminds me of the ending of “Still Of The Night” and you don’t want it to end.

Rock Me To The Top

Tesla’s music to me is timeless. It doesn’t sound dated or tied to a particular era. Yeah, I know they got lumped in with the Sunset Strip bands, but Tesla was so much more. And they proved it in the 90’s, when all of the Sunset Strip bands got dropped, Tesla continued to make records and tour to great success. They took risks and backed themselves to deliver acoustically. Not a lot of bands could have done that to the quality Tesla did.

“Rock Me To The Top” is written by vocalist Jeff Keith and estranged guitarist Tommy Skeoch. The riff is foot stomping hard rock to a tee.

I’ll take command, take control
Now I see you comin’ back for more
I see you like it, but you don’t need it
Ooh you wanna feel it

Yep, I’m pretty sure Jeff Keith is singing about driving a car.

Sign Of The Times

That keyboard riff is as iconic as “The Final Countdown” riff. It’s a tragedy the song is not well known.

All The Fools Sailed Away

What a voice? Rest in peace Ronnie James Dio, you’ll be forever missed.

The drumming is epic, great vocal melodies, great movements between loud and soft and when the chorus comes in with the backing vocals; it’s time to sing along.

We are the innocent
We are the damned
We were caught in the middle of the madness
Hunted by the lion and the lamb

Society is founded on the persecution of races. And as we get more advanced, persecution exists between the have and the have nots.

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Sailed away

People need to move and find new lands/cities to thrive and survive.

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)

It’s another anthem for the SMF’s, the black sheep and the down trodden to wake up and stand together against corruption and oppression.

Who the hell are they to say?
What we can do and how we can play
We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

It’s the war cry against censorship. Freedom comes with a choice and sometimes, we sign away our freedom because we like to create an enemy, someone to blame when it all goes to hell.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

Around the world, our internet is under attack from governments and corporations. They want to control it, regulate it and charge a premium for it. The Net Neutrality war is real and it’s happening and only a handful of people are speaking up against it. The rest are ignorant.

Slave To The Grind

It’s the thrash metal title track from album number 2, which went straight to number 1 on release. Skid Row could do no wrong musically, even though the internal politics and bickering between Bach and Bolan/Sabo had reached Don Dokken/George Lynch volume levels.

Rock Me

After a few verses, I was thinking what’s next and then the Chorus kicked in. I became a fan instantly.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

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

2017

Every year, I see album of the year lists. And I’ve done em as well. But in truth, a large percentage of those top 10 albums that make it on lists are due to just a few songs that connect with people. Well that’s how it happens with me these days. Of course some albums are great from start to finish, but it’s a rarity.

So this year, my 2017 list is made up songs that I’ve come across in 2017’s Release Radar (in other words released in 2017) or Discover Playlist from Spotify that I’ve heard the first time in 2017 and have connected with me.

In order to compile the list before year-end, I stopped adding music to the playlist at the end of November. So here is my playlist of new music I heard in 2017.

Also in 2017, Spotify gave me a ton of stats.

So I listened to 66,157 minutes of music, which equates to 1103 hours, which equates to about 3 hours of listening each day.

7,084 different songs make up my listening habit for 2017, which is made up of 1,680 different artists. Hell, I even skipped 2,274 songs. Back in the 80’s I listened to less than 30 artists.

My five top artists for 2017 are The Night Flight Orchestra, Whitesnake, Coheed and Cambria, Trivium and Ozzy Osbourne. And here is my Spotify generated playlist of the top 100 songs I listened too in 2017 across all decades.

Life Ain’t Easy (For A Boy With Long Hair) – The New Roses

Who would have thought that a German act would sound better than the American acts that influenced them?

So what can I say
Things got that bad
I stood before the mirror
To shave my head
But then I looked into my eyes
And I knew right then
You’ll let your hair grow
And start a band

Hilarious but it doesn’t take away from the story setting. We don’t know what we should do sometimes. And when it comes time to make a life-changing decision and dealing with the unknown, it’s important to remind yourself of your true calling.

And as the years went bye
Fashion went and came
And everybody changed
But I’m still the same
Now you try to dress up
Like a rock and roll star
You don’t look cool
And you won’t get far
What you’re looking for
You can’t just buy and wear

There is so much truth in the above. I can put on a T-shirt from companies who endorse MMA fighters and it doesn’t mean I support the sport. The same goes for people who wear Harley Davidsons T-shirts while they drive around in 4WD’s. Rock and metal wear is an attitude as much as a lifestyle choice. It was never about looking cool or a fashion statement. It was about acceptance and being a member of the tribe.

Freedom – Revolution Saints

It’s the best song on the album. Deen Castronovo is one hell of a vocalist and he kicks off this song with a great drum groove. Musically it sounds like a Deep Purple song from the Coverdale era and there’s nothing wrong with that influence whatsoever.

Freedom
Sweet freedom
Coming my way

It’s the mood the music sets that hooks me in and the way it builds in the verses.

Gemini – The Night Flight Orchestra

On each album TNFO have a disco pop metal rock track. “West Ruth Ave” took the spot on the first album, “Living For The Night-time” took the spot on the second album and “Gemini” takes the spot on the third album. So many influences are present in this song. It’s like Styx, The Police, Divinyls and Blondie got put into a blender and out came “Gemini”.

Blind Leading The Blind – Adrenaline Mob

Man the “Mob” has suffered on the road. AJ Pero didn’t survive the tour he was involved in and recently David Z lost his life when a truck slammed into their van parked on the side of the road.

The world is running out of time
We all think we know what’s wrong or right
It’s the blind leading the blind

Our governments work for the corporations who are only interested in making money. They don’t care about global warming or our natural resources. The debates between the two sides don’t even exist. How can one side argue their point if the other side doesn’t believe there is a point to argue.

Goodbye Forever – Volbeat

The mighty Michael Poulsen is one hell of a songwriter. As soon as the song starts off with his major key lead and 60’s rock feel, I’m hooked.

Did you say the thing you wanted?
Have you ever felt in love?
A moment where no problems would ever get you down
Free as an eagle but only for a day, yeah listen

Live every moment like it’s your last.

Take the arms that embrace, no more being afraid
Feel the sun on your face or goodbye forever

Live in the now, don’t be afraid.

We are the birth
We are the end
We are the souls
We have a name
We are the rising and fallen ones
We are the spirit forever more

This is my favourite part of the song. I dig how the military style drumming works with the syncopated guitar lines and the gospel backing vocals. Just brilliant.

They Don’t Care About Us – Saliva

It’s a great re-imagining of a Michael Jackson song in a hard rock context. It’s from their “Love, Lies and Therapy” album released in 2016. Hell I don’t even know who is in the band anymore. They sort of dropped off my radar after Josey Scott left.

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, aggravation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us

“Bang, bang, shot dead.” The two biggest man-made killers of people are guns and cars. So it’s not surprising that terrorists are using the two to cause chaos in major cities. But what about the home-grown madman, who takes bags of guns into a Las Vegas Hotel and then proceeds to play target practice at a Country Music Festival. Even though the song was in response to Rodney King’s beating at the hands of LA Police, the message remains the same, 20 plus years later.

Every time mass shootings happen, the Government fails to do anything. And it doesn’t matter who is President. Mass shootings happened under Trump and he has done nothing. They happened under Obama and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Jnr and he did nothing. They happened under Clinton and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Snr and he did nothing.

The Government is voted in by the people, but all they do is please the lobby groups and corporations.

Mass shootings happened in Australia under previous Governments; however when the “Port Arthur” massacre happened while the Liberal Government of John Howard was in power, we finally had a leader and a Government that stood up and made change. Since then, we haven’t had a mass shooting.

People always remember what people do.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of being the victim of shame
They’re throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came

After 9/11, our rights all around the world disappeared as the democratically elected Governments passed a lot of laws to “try and prevent future disasters from happening” which in turn made these democratically elected governments similar to totalitarian governments.

The laws passed involved the invasion of our privacy. Our phone calls either could be or will be recorded, our emails would be stored and analysed by an algorithm, our Google searches would be reported for certain key words and analysed, our text messages and so much more.

We are the victims of Government corruption to protect the faceless people who pay the politicians to speak for them.

Periscope – Papa Roach

One of the bands I was involved with in the early 2000’s covered “Last Resort” because it had that “Bring Your Daughter (To The Slaughter)” riff.

I don’t want to dive in first
You don’t want to hear these words
It’s only going to make it worse

So the band with each album has been on my radar and with each album they surprise with their diversity. This is another surprise. There’s hardly any distortion but the song still rocks hard.

Black Rain – Eclipse

They are from Stockholm, Sweden. They formed in 1999 and currently they are on Frontiers Records. Singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson also has a side gig writing songs for other artists. Frontiers Records constantly use him to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints even covered an Eclipse song on their debut album.

This song is here because of the lead break. The riff under it reminds me of “Hangar 18” by Megadeth, while the actual lead break itself is reminiscent of the “Mr Crowley” outro lead and the “Tornado of Souls” lead by Marty Friedman.

No Surrender – Art Of Anarchy
Changed Man – Art Of Anarchy
The Madness – Art Of Anarchy

I was really surprised by this release. Actually I was blown away by it. The lyrics more or less reference the schizophrenic breakdown of Scott Stapp. Hell you can call it a concept album.

“In ‘No Surrender’ I addressed those moments in life where you’ve reached a personal crossroads or crisis. That place where your back is against the wall and you’re left with two choices — to cave in and crumble allowing whatever circumstance to break you forever, or to rise up and fight through holding on to that never give up spirit that lies deep within. I detail in the verses personal experiences, as I lived them, that have taken me to that critical place of choice. Am I to give up, stay down and fade away or get up, fight on and never surrender.”
Scott Stapp

In “No Surrender”, Stapp is singing, “No way out, hit the flat line, we get up, no surrender, it’s your time, grab the lifeline, we get up, no surrender, no surrender”. There it is, the human spirit fighting for its place in society and the world at large.

In “The Madness”, Stapp is singing, “The madness keeps me from the other side”. And the other side is where he wants to be. Its greener, full of love and his family is there. He wants to be there with them.

In “Changed Man”, Stapp is singing, “Give me one more chance, cause I’m a changed man, it’s time to come back home”. You can hear the sorrow and regret in his voice.

You live, you make mistakes, you learn from the mistakes, you create memories and experiences and then you write songs about them. And while a lot of people I know pretend to be perfect and happy, reality is so much different.

The Violence – Rise Against

I came across this band via Guitar Hero. My kids had “Savior” up and man it was a pretty wicked song and I’ve been a fan since.

Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
Is the violence in our nature just the image of our maker?
Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
To become something greater
Than the violence in our nature?

I guess a few madmen who are in charge spoil it for the billions who don’t seek violence and war.

Pariah – Steve Wilson

Porcupine Tree or solo!

Does it really matter for Steve Wilson?

I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself

Can we ever really disconnect from society and people in our current social media driven times?

Carry Me My Bones – Corroded
A Note To Me – Corroded

It’s the acoustic version from “The Nevo Sessions”.

“Carry Me My Bones” in distortion is a pretty good song, but man, the acoustic version is swampy and groovy and rawer and better.

Carry me my tired bones

If only our bones could talk and tell us the secrets they hold of how they kept our body together in times of stress, being overworked, being drunk or depressed.

“A Note To Me”

I’m just a coward who hates everything about me
Everything I’ve done was a lie
It’s hard not to cry

Self-assessment or awareness of invulnerability is what makes us better.

I stand before you in my nakedness
I admit that I was wrong
My only hope is that you will forgive
And that someday, someday, will forget

I’m not perfect. I’ve said words that have hurt people. Some of them have forgiven me and others haven’t. But I’ve learnt from every word said in spite to be better.

Light Me Up – Doom Unit

It’s got this swampy bluesy feel which I really dig. Plus the vocal melodies are addictive. And they are from Finland. I’ll be honest, there is something in the culture water’s around Northern Europe because there is so much good music coming out of the region.

When I start another day
I’m slowly drowning all the way
Light me up

When the day isn’t happening the way you planned and nothing is going right for you, you need to focus on what you can control.

Human (Jim Eno Sessions) – Ran’n’Bone Man

Elton John reckons Rag’n’Bone man has the best new music out there. If you haven’t heard “Human” then you should. It’s a hit and it’s getting there slowly, as all good music does its converting people like me into it. This version is a simple piano/acoustic guitar version. It’s raw and the vocals are emotive.

I’m only human
I make mistakes

We all make mistakes. And we get a lot of chances to make amends and learn from those mistakes.

Playing With Fire – I Am Giant

I’m through with playing with games in the presence of a liar

It’s the opening line of this groovy little number.

Are we dragging up the past when I’ve walked the line already

Yes, our memories can have a negative impact. There are always things in the past that we regret. But, for some, regretful words, choices and actions remain with them forever. Every single memory from the past comes with an emotion. Get stuck with a past emotion and you roadblock your future.

Lost – Death Angel

I thought this was Adrenaline Mob when I heard it. And even though the song came out in 2016 on “The Evil Divide” album, I only just heard it, so it’s in my 2017 list. And it’s that bridge section that comes in at 2.50 that hooked me in.

Rain down on me and wash this pain away

In every ancient text, rain is seeing as the great redeemer. It’s part of Mother Nature’s arsenal to destroy the sins of man-made structures.

From The Flame – Leprous

I had to Google to find out more information about Leprous. Wikipedia tells me that Leprous is a Norwegian progressive metal band formed in 2001 and the band gained prominence as the backing band for former Emperor front man Ihsahn’s live shows.

You’ll find me here when I’m gone
Where I made my surrender

There is always a street, a home, a beach, a park where something went down. A paradigm shift so big that the person’s life was/is changed forever.

Send In The Clowns – End Of Green

This song is so gloomy but I like it. I have no idea who End of Green is or how the album sounds. All I know is that this song came up on my Release Radar playlist and it’s been a save from the outset.

So I went to Google to find out more. Check out what Wikipedia tells me.

End of Green is a German gothic/doom metal band formed in Stuttgart in 1992. According to singer Michael Huber, the band’s name implies the end of the colour green, which typically symbolizes hope. This fits with the type of music the band produces. The band describes its style as Depressed Subcore. The lyrics are about loneliness, depression, pain and death.

Damn right it’s depressing and yet there is something hypnotic about it.

In this moment so painful
I’ll wear the chains of the past

So true.

When we feel down, it’s the memories of the past that keep us weighed down, unable to get out of the hole. The words said or not said and the actions taken or the lack of actions taken. And those memories of the past normally come with an emotion. It we allow that emotion to control us, our current days will be pre-loaded with pain and angst.

All my life they have pushed me around

At some point in time, we will hit the wall. Like it or not, endings are real and there’s nothing that can be done. But all endings serve a purpose and are necessary. An un-loving or over controlling or violent relationship prevents us from reaching our potential. So what do we do, when we take back control of our lives?

Basically, good things cannot start to happen unless the bad ends.

Promised Land – Sweet & Lynch

People who know who I am and what my faith is all about know that heaven is often referred to as the Promised Land. That’s exactly what the song is about. How we struggle through life yet through it all, we need to stay strong and focused. Eventually, we’ll see the Promised Land.
Michael Sweet

“Promised Land” is the opening track and the first single in the lead up to the album release. This song deserves more attention, but it’s hard to break through the noise. Each new track is competing against all the hit records plus everything in between.

“Take my hand, the promised land”.

The promised land can be any place or event that you have kept a discipline or focus to get to. It could be the home you built or purchased or a personal achievement or goal.

My Fate – Vimic

Is this Joey Jordison’s third or fourth post Slipknot band?

The reason why this song is here happens from 3.15 to the end. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

And that outro guitar solo. You need to hear that as well to appreciate it.

I am the author of my fate

One of the best lines I’ve heard. The buck stops with you. The place you are in right now is because of you and the decision you made. You are the author of your fate.

Here I Stand – In Whispers

I got no idea who this band is and how many albums they have released. But this song came up on a Release Radar or Discover playlist and it was good enough to end up in my 2017 playlist.

The song originally hit YouTube in 2011. The album “Sound The Alarm” came out in March 2013. The first time I heard the song is in 2017. It’s the way of the world. Things take some time to get our attention.

Are you still around when it happens?

The main riff hooks me in, a combination of Judas Priest style riffing made famous by Avenged Sevenfold and Black Veil Brides in their songs. ‘Knives and Pens’ by Black Veil Brides sounds like Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Unholy Confessions”.

Here I stand
And I won’t fall down
Mercy me
With both my feet on the ground
Shame on me
Forever holding you down
Here I stand
And I won’t fall down

Every time I hear “Here I Stand” I think of standing before someone (a powerful entity, a corrupted employer or a loved one) to face judgement or punishment for some act in the past. Who gave the right to these people to judge upon me?

The Road – Quiet Riot

As soon as I heard the voice, it was familiar. I’d like to tell you that I knew it was Durbin on vocals just from hearing him, but I had to Google it to find out. Hell I had to Google who was in this version of Quiet Riot. It’s good to see that Quiet Riot is still releasing new music, even when the two founders in Rhoads and DuBrow have both left this Earth for astral planes far and wide and main songwriter from the 80s Carlos Cavazo is now bending strings for Ratt which looks like to be on hiatus anyway.

Feels like we just got back
I’ll kiss my family and I’ll be out the door again
We’re running around in the dark
We are together apart

Unless your family is travelling with you, the road is just you, the guys in the band, some members of the road crew and lonely miles between cities. A lot of artists don’t come back. Randy Rhoads didn’t come back home. Steve Ray Vaughan didn’t come back. A lot of the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t come back. Cliff Burton didn’t come back. Kurt Cobain came back but didn’t want to go back out. Chris Cornell didn’t come back. Chester Bennington didn’t come back. AJ Pero didn’t come back. David Z didn’t come back and the other guys from Adrenaline Mob got pretty banged up.

American Rock ‘n Roll – Kid Rock
Greatest Show On Earth – Kid Rock
Stand The Pain – Kid Rock

From his newest album “Sweet Southern Sugar”. I can’t say I’m a huge Kid Rock fan, but I do check out his stuff from time to time. I also caught him live on the Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour. He’s a showman and a very good one at that. These three songs are hard southern rock all the way and man, they are a joy to listen too. It’s like one big party jam committed to tape.

American Rock ‘n Roll

It’s the laid back rock of the 70’s which today is known as country rock.

“Headlights shining on rusted fences as I pass the rail yard”

I love the lyric. It brings back memories of the past regardless where you lived.

Fire up the lighter and a Lucky Strike
The radio’s saying “Take a walk on the wild side”

If you are a smoker today, you are seen as a fool.

Why would you put a cigarette in your mouth when you know how it kills ya? But once upon a time, smoking was a part of life, especially socially.

Give me that heart and that soul
American rock ‘n’ roll

Amen.

Greatest Show On Earth

It’s the in your face album opener. Again, it’s dirtied up blues in Kid Rock’s own unique way.

I’m a full-blown
Down home rolling stone
I’m a cyclone
I’ll shit wherever I roam

The attitude, groove and lyrical phrasing in the verses hook me in. Like any rocker who hits the road, they come and leave like a cyclone.

The Chorus, is the best Chorus that Aerosmith didn’t write.

Welcome to the greatest
Love you when you hate us
Welcome to the greatest f….. show on earth

A showman Kid Rock is. I saw him opening up for Bon Jovi on the  “Because We Can” tour and he nailed it. He had the stadium crowd in his hands and he took us on his journey. Even my wife, you never heard one single note from Kid Rock enjoyed the show.

Stand The Pain

It’s got the same message like all the rock anthems of the past. But it’s not a rocker. It’s a laid back rocker.

When it feels like you just can’t stand the pain
And when it feels there’s nothing left that you can do
Just bow your head down and plow right through

Working smarter is better than working harder. If the day’s events caused a massive change in your life, there is no use in attaching emotions to them because it will always end in pain. The best way is to move onto the new day and into new beginnings.

Sometimes life’s plans can be postponed
And it’s hard to step back out into the unknown

I’ve been in situations like this. I can plan for some future state but life is full of random variables which can never be foreseen. And suddenly, when these variables strike, I am navigating unknown roads, looking for answers.

You and Me – Farmers Boys

It’s weird to explain this band. It’s like Muse went a bit heavier. Wikipedia tells me they are a heavy metal band from Stuttgart, Germany and have been active since 1994. They reached their peak of popularity with their album “The World Is Ours” in 2000. Wikipedia further tells me their musical style is a blend of Machine Head’s groove metal and Paradise Lost’s gothic metal. Add Muse to that list.

You and me against them all; this is how it ends

Humans are excellent at finding something to be afraid of. This ranges from our partners, to the people in the shadows, to the faceless network of people conspiring against us and what we stand for and so forth. However, if there is someone who lets us down, it’s normally ourselves. Our doubt cripples us. Because of doubt, we don’t trust in our own abilities to try to do something new. But a time comes in all of our lives, when we become brave enough to rise.

We never giving up giving in
That’s how we bring the system down.
You and me carry on
’till all the kingdoms fall

Redefined – H.E.A.T
Best Of The Broken – H.E.A.T

H.E.A.T is a Swedish hard rock group formed in 2007. These songs are from album number 5. Yep, back in the 80’s, if an artist went global or continental, they might get to album number 5. In the internet era of 1999 plus, artists are getting to album number 5 and above without getting out of their own continent.

Redefined

You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we’re redefined
You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we are redefined

Our roles in society, relationships and our lives in general are constantly redefined. Sometimes by choices we made or by choices of others. And it’s okay if we make short-sighted bad decisions based on short-term thinking. Everyone does it. However not everyone can correct those decisions.

Best Of The Broken

Welcome, now, say goodbye
Good men will be sacrificed
We are the industry, running free
Wearing rings of cyanide

Damn right. The recording industry makes a lot of money. And that money buys them influence. When you have influence, you are basically allowed to run free and do whatever you want. However, when the internet introduced a new distribution system which the recording industry couldn’t control, they screamed and moaned and paid a lot of dollars to get laws written to give them back control.

Smalltown Boy – Apollo Drive

When I first heard the song I thought it was a Coldplay song from their earlier albums. It’s got an iconic piano riff and I’m thinking, this song is massive, why isn’t it a bigger hit. So I Google “Smalltown Boy” and I find out the original artist who performed it is Bronski Beat on their 1984 album “The Age Of Consent”. On their Spotify account, the song has 24 plus million streams, while the Apollo Drive account has only twenty thousand streams.

Anyway, I prefer the Apollo Drive. And it’s weird that in this day and age, I know nothing of the band. A quick Google search tells me they are from Sweden and they took their band name from a LA street where the deal was done to form the band.

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home
The love that you need will never be found at home

People had to escape their towns and head to the cities if they wanted to make something of themselves. Some succeeded, some failed and some just didn’t make it. It doesn’t have to be that way today. You can be somebody from the confines of your bedroom walls, while you still live with your parents.

Karma – Cyhra
Closure – Cyhra
Dark Clarity – Cyhra

I had to Google who Cyhra are. It’s like a Scandinavian supergroup. It features former Amaranthe vocalist Jake E., ex In Flames guitarist Jesper Strömblad, ex In Flames bassist Peter Iwers and drummer Alexander Landenberg from power metal outfit Rhapsody. The foundations are all based on friendship and a desire to create music.

Karma

Consumed by greed
You trade your hearts away
You don’t practice what you preach
Well you’re planting your own dismay

Is it about a band member that did them wrong or a manager or someone else that ripped them off? Either way, it’s a brilliant verse.

And the song is a cross between the Euro modern metal vibe of their earlier bands with Bon Jovi style Choruses. It’s brilliant and I’m a fan.

Closure

It’s got some wicked harmonies for a ballad.

And every single argument’s
Like walking on glass
Whatever the setback
I’ll never look back

Damn right it is. An argument is never fully finished because each party feels like they should have said more, so it just sits there until next time.

Dark Clarity

Again, harmony guitars kick off the song and once the drums come in, it’s moshing time.

I’m romancing a cliché
In this life we portray
We conduct our own demise
I want to break out

We wear so many masks in our daily lives. Sometimes it gets so much living a cliché, we just want to rip those masks off, before it’s too late.

Angel Of Mercy – Black Label Society

I don’t know what it is, but man this song gets the hairs rising on the back of my neck. It brings back memories. I can just imagine lying on my bedroom floor listening to this on headphones! For those that don’t know, the song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society. It’s not a 2017 release but it’s been in my playlist since it came out in 2014.

The lead break is pure magic. It just explodes out of the speakers and builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display. The song will never be a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

Til It’s Gone – Kenny Chesney

He’s a country rocker and this song sounds like those southern rock bands of the Seventies for some reason. It’s from his 2014 album, “The Big Revival”. I had to look him up to see what’s the go because to be honest I don’t follow country music. Wikipedia tells me he has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. Goes to show that you could be king of your niche/genre but it doesn’t mean that everybody in the world knows who you are.

Got nowhere to go and all night to get there
But I’m going there with you

It’s the opening line of the song and it hooks me in.

The Doomed – A Perfect Circle

I really dig A Perfect Circle. “The Doomed” is their first piece of new music since 2013 and scheduled to appear on their fourth studio album, their first in 14 years. I suppose anything that involves Maynard from Tool, takes time to fruition.

Wikipedia tells me that the song’s origins go back to a small orchestral part written by guitarist/founder Billy Howerdel, who was writing the soundtrack for the indie film D-Love during the band’s downtime in 2015. The part didn’t end up making it in the film; however Howerdel sent the part to band vocalist Maynard James Keenan which Keenan then in return asked Howerdel to write a song around it.

And with anything involving Maynard, the lyrics generate a lot of debate.  Howerdel mentioned that, to him, the song is about how power corrupts the people in control of the world.

Behold the new Christ
Behold the same old horde

It doesn’t matter who gets voted in or who leads a nation or a company. The people who forced out the previous leader are still there. The faceless horde is still scheming and plotting.

Blessed are the fornicates
May we bend down to be their whores?
Blessed are the rich
May we labor, deliver them more

I guess not much has changed in human history. The majority of People are still building the dreams of a few people.

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful

If you have a pure heart and a utopian vision, you are doomed. Lies and deceit rule the day. Ignorance and race rule the day. Money and power rule our lives.

You’re on your own!”

We are always on our own.

Rags to Riches – Babylon A.D

“Rags To Riches” is one of the singles released in the lead up and it hooked me in with its “Atomic Playboys” style riff. Musically its excellent and that solo break with that riff underpinning it, is just brilliant.

Rags to riches, young girl got her wishes

With the whole #METOO movement and people speaking up, maybe the young girl didn’t get what she really wished for.

Wanderlust – Black Country Communion

I dig this “super” group. First, I am a fan of Joe Bonamassa on guitar. Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals is a no brainer. Then when you add the rest of the personal, you can see it’s got some serious cred.

I don’t know what the song is about lyrically. I don’t really care, because the sounds, the groove and the feel hook me in.

Forever Alone – Bigfoot

I dig this. It’s got a cool Journey vibe circa 1980-1983. So I had to Google them to find out more and to be honest, the Google search didn’t give me back much information except they are on Frontiers Records (which is no surprise),

What I did find is they are a 5 piece Hard Rock band based in Wigan, England, formed in 2014. Their website tells me they have influences stemming from many different genres from The Eagles to Pantera.

And this song sounds like Journey.

The Outsider – Black Veil Brides
My Vow – Black Veil Brides

You either dig BVB or hate BVB. There is no in between. Personally, I got into the band because of the guitarists and by album number 3, the songs started to grow on me. These two songs are from album number 5, called “Vale” due to be released January 2018.

The Outsider

You know how A7X copped flack for cloning some great metal songs on “Hail to the King”. Well, I think BVB cloned the whole A7X album on this song. And that my friend is why I love music. The familiarity of the melodies and the sounds.

This wall of stone
That they built to cage our minds

No truths or facts will change a mind that doesn’t want to be changed. And our viewpoints from birth are shaped by the social tribes we grew up in. Eventually as we get older, we start our own research and start to form our own views. And some of us just remain with the views that we grew up with.

Say a prayer, every night
All we hear must be right
I am the outsider

The power of religion is huge. Those words in the Bible are treated like truth. But people are forming different views. I always say that the entities with the power get to rewrite history in a way that it suits them. The wealthiest entity in the world is religion.

My Vow

The way the song starts off hooks me in. The riffs are classic heavy metal straight from the metal 80’s.

Like a bomb that ticks when my heart clicks
I’ll be left for dead with what I’ve said

Such a cool lyric about the moment when the words you say are like a bomb going off in a room.

And that lead break is shredalicious.

Bloodline Lullaby – Otherwise

As soon as it starts, I am reminded of “The Afterman” by Coheed and Cambria.

Another day, another moon

So true.

Any time you’re feeling lonely
Just listen to the wind, you’ll hear me
Sing your song across the sky
This is our bloodline lullaby

It’s about being a parent, the bloodline that ties father to child.

Crazy as it seems, love in the spotlight
Chasing out a dream, living through fault line
You are all I need, you’re my everything
Counting down the hours, so how the time flies
Running the miracle mile, crossing the state lines
I’m right here with you, always true

And that’s the truth. Once you become a parent, your priorities change. Suddenly the spotlight you craved ceases to be the most important thing in your life. And on tour, you are counting down the days before you get back home to see your son or daughter. Not all artists have those same feelings, only some.

God of the Sun – Sons of Apollo
Alive – Sons Of Apollo
Labyrinth – Sons Of Apollo

When I read that Portnoy/Sherinian started a project together I wasn’t interested. However as a fan of Ron Bumblefoot Thal, I was suddenly very interested. And when I read that Portnoy/Sherinian tapped Jeff Scott Soto to do vocals, I was very intrigued.

Any fan of progressive rock/metal will love this album. It has everything that all the great albums have. Even the musical interludes are memorable and hummable, which has become a forgotten art form over the last 15 years as bands play more technical and physically exhausting intricate passages in their songs.

God of the Sun

The Arabian Middle Eastern feel in the intro hooks me in right away and when Bumblefoot kicks in with the riff at 1.20, its breaking desk time. But it gets even better at the 2 minute mark with another head busting, desk breaking riff. And when JSS starts singing at the 2.30 minute mark, the feel is laid back and very Kashmir like in the groove.

Cause I am the light
Surrender tonight
I am the face of tomorrow
Now I’ve just begun
You can’t hide or run
Cause I am the god of the sun

JSS brings out his Dio influences in the chorus. Hell, this passage could have appeared on a Dio/Malmsteen album.

Then at the 5 minute mark, the song moves into a laid back solo section before going all proggy at the 7 minute mark.

Even though I am not a drummer, I remember watching a video of Mark Portnoy discussing how he drums certain songs and he spoke about a cool little technique called Stretch and Grow. It’s like they play a 4 bar riff, with a 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, but this time, the 2 bars of the melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, and the now 3 bars of the melodic passage. You can see how they are stretching and growing the 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff and 4 bars of the melodic passage.

Then they start contract the “Stretch and Grow” back to the 1 bar melodic passage. So it basically goes, 4 bar riff, 4 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 3 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 2 bar melodic passage and it all ends with the same 4 bar riff and 1 bar melodic passage.

And that my friend is Prog 101.

Alive

It’s about drug use. Hell, most of the addictions we have these days are legal ones. Prescription drugs, nicotine and alcohol are all-powerful legal drugs.

Colorize the sadness; the fear is black and white
Tunnel of denial, looking for the light
The devil on my shoulder, the master of disguise
Can you hear him singing?

The song is a power ballad.

Labyrinth

Stare at the wall
Pray for reflection

The black mirror screens we stare at are the walls that reflect back at us.

Cause it takes me in
And I can’t let go
But I’ll never win
In this labyrinth

Social media is a labyrinth. Our quest in connection has created a labyrinth which takes us in and never lets us go. I know the song is not about social media, but making the connection is easy.

Time stands still in this virtual land
There’s no winning this losing hand

And the way the song weaves in and out of progressive rock and hard rock, is like a labyrinth.

Internal Masquerade – Galactic Cowboys

This band had a lot of promo from Geffen Records back in the day, but the audience just didn’t come. Eventually they got dropped and disappeared, only to return. And what a nice return it is.

As soon as the intro riff kicks in, I’m hooked. It’s a combination of natural harmonics and scalar runs, outlining the chord progression.

I’m your fear from deep inside
I’m the hate that you can’t hide
I’m the demons that comprise your very soul
I’m the rose amongst the thorns
I’m the angel with the horns
I’m the deeper darker side of you

How many times have you smiled but really felt like ripping the other person’s head off in rage. We all have that darker side.

The Sin And The Sentence – Trivium
Other Worlds – Trivium
Beyond Oblivion – Trivium
The Revanchist – Trivium
Endless Night – Trivium

It was the James Hetfield vocals on “The Crusade” that hooked me in. Fast forward almost 10 years later and Trivium is still at it and still kicking some butt.

The Sin and the Sentence

The first thing that comes to mind is the T1000 Cybernetic drummer. Wow, the speed and precision. Human capabilities never cease to amaze me.

You better practice your lines
You better practice your words
I know that real monsters lie
Between the light and the shade

Hell, this could be directed at any leader of a democratic country. Isn’t it funny how democratically elected leaders want to turn their country into a totalitarian state, like the same ones our grandfathers went to war to defeat?

You condemn me
Cause you don’t understand me

And that my friend’s is life in a nutshell. The politicians are so out of touch with society and reality, they don’t understand us. They are so wrapped up in their ivory towers I bet if a journalist asked any leader of the U.S, U.K or Australia for the price of bread and milk, they wouldn’t know the answer.

Beyond Oblivion

Matt Heafy sure knows how to write a catchy chorus.

(What have we done?) Creations devised
(What have we done?) To put an end to all life?

Have you seen the AI demonstration that Elon Musk put out on his twitter account. It’s scary. Very scary.

A dead road, a dark sun
Now waits beyond oblivion

Maybe in our quest to conquer nature and get other people to work for us, we create tools that will end up destroying us.

Other Worlds

Cause we’re living in other worlds
Breathing in other worlds

Let me see how many worlds I live in. My home world, my work world, my sporting world, my music world, my social world, my parents world and to be honest I can keep on going forever.

The problem in relationships is when one person spends their time living in a world more than the other person. For example, one person is spending their time living in their home world, while another person is spending their time living in their social world. Suddenly we have a disconnect and a problem.

The Revanchist

Hell I didn’t even know what “Revanchist” meant. Google dictionary tells me it’s “an advocate or supporter of a political policy of revanche, especially in order to seek vengeance for a previous military defeat.” Hell, World War II is a perfect example. The song is a perfect example of storytelling.

I’ve been waiting here on the outside
I’ve been watching you from afar

It sounds like the revanchist is vetting supporters.

You say you’ve lost your world, you say you’ve lost your faith
I’ll be the shelter in the dark, clothe you in my hate

Indoctrination.

Profiteers and preachers
Sycophants and leachers

It doesn’t matter from what social circle you come from. The Revanchist will accept and indoctrinate all.

The Revanchist, his thoughts become mine
How deep they become intertwined
He said, “Submit for salvation, submit for salvation”
The age old lie

The followers are ready to submit themselves to the war of the revanchist. It’s their salvation.

Thunder High On The Mountain – Joe Satriani

It’s one of Satriani’s stronger songs released recently. Just the way it starts it off, with the war like click drum, the orchestra hits and a finger tapped legato line, is brilliant. I’m hooked and I’m paying attention. And the movements between section works.

New World – Robert Plant

This song surprised me when I heard it. The mood, the groove and the vocal melody all work together.

In songs we praise a happy landing
On yet another virgin shore
Escape the booming world
Embrace the new world
Out here the immigrant takes hold
Across the planes and over mountains
Put flight to all who came before
They’re barely human
It’s time to move them
And let them kneel before the sword

Human’s quest for land and power led to cultures being eradicated or enslaved.

Find Your Way Home – King King
Broken – King King

There is a lot of good music out there and artists like “King King” are virtually unknown in the major music markets. It was their cover of Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy” that made me a fan.

Find Your Way Home

It’s a cool bluesy ballad.

How did it work out they we’d be enemies?
Where did everything go wrong?
When the sun goes down on your memories
Please find your way home

He’s basically saying, those memories with emotions attached are killing the relationship. When the sun goes down on them and basically kills em off, come home. He’ll be waiting there for you.

Broken

This world is broken
We can’t hold on
My hope is fading
Our faith is almost gone

We need something to change. The world and our governments of the free world have been hijacked by money.

This Is War – Audrey Horne

My favourite supergroup of extreme metallers (along with “The Night Flight Orchestra”) is back with a new album that brings back memories of the Seventies and Eighties. Once the harmony guitars that sound like “Fear Of The Dark” from Maiden kick in, I’m ready to throw my computer screen at the window.

It’s brilliant.

We will never be silence or divided
This is war

My 2017 call to arms.

Miracle – Story of the Year

I Swear I’m OK – Story of the Year

This band is a favourite of mine. They can be rock, metal and pop all on one album. Their label stuffed em up, by labelling them that whole emo rock/hard-core tag.

I need this more than you know
I need a miracle
Tell me I’m not alone
Please don’t let me go

You are in the situation where change is needed. Your old self needs to be washed off and a new being needs to rise. But you need to make hard choices. Are you read for what will come after? Are you read to let go of what you know?

I’m not the man I promised I would be

It’s from “I Swear I’m OK”. I never make promises as they always lead to disappointment. I can try to commit to do things differently but promises can never be measured.

Nevermore (Acoustic) – Art of Dying

For some reason, when “Art Of Dying” goes acoustic, they rock harder.

Waking Lions – Pop Evil

Waking the lions in me
I’m waking the lions in me

We all have that grit and resilience inside of us. If we choose to do something with it, is a different story all together.

And that my friends brings 2017 to close.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Saying One Thing At Time

There is a common view in economics, if something is difficult to get, it’s better because in the mind of the customer, the goods or service they cannot get becomes a powerful want.

How does this work for an artist?

If an artist is creating songs and making those songs difficult to get, the audience would surely move on to something else.

Super fans of artists make up 10% of their audience base.

I believe the way the artist releases songs is out of sync with the time.

If a person talks for 70 minutes we will hear nothing. If an artist releases 70 minutes of music, we will remember some and forget the rest. Because most of the time, we’re hardly listening. If you don’t believe me, ask a Metallica fan to name all the tracks of “Hardwired To Self-Destruct” and then ask them to sing the chorus of every track.

Back in the 80’s we had time to listen. When we dropped the needle on our latest purchase, we laid back, looked at the album cover, the lyrics, the credits and listened. There is a study out there that states we enjoy music even more when we have this information at hand and we know the story behind the songs. But back in the 80’s all we really had was our music and movies for entertainment. Technology and the home PC was starting to enter homes, however it wasn’t big enough to take up the conversation. Also, some of favourite albums lasted between 30 to 40 minutes in total. So what the artist had to say back then was less than what they say now.

But today, the youth are not like the youth of the 80’s. Hell we are living in times were a country (Saudi Arabia) made a robot a citizen. All new music is competing with the history of music, plus TV shows with movie budgets, plus blockbuster movies, plus technologies and social media, plus AI created news stories and the history of print.

Maybe music works are better when they are released frequently and when an artist tries to say one thing at a time, instead of 10 different things at once.

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

1983 – Part X

Welcome to the final blog post of my devotion to the year known as 1983.

The Playlist

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

Even Bowie, a pop artist in general, was accused of selling out by critics with this album. But Bowie wasn’t stupid. He knew he needed to have songs that could become video hits. MTV was rising faster than expected and if the 70’s rockers wanted a chance to play in the 80’s, they needed video hits. The album is co-produced by Nile Rodgers and it features a young guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“Modern Love” and “China Girl” are two such pop songs that also work well in a rock/melodic metal setting.

Pink Floyd – “One Of The Few” from The Final Cut

I didn’t like the album when it came out and I still don’t like it today.

However, “One Of The Few” has a cool guitar riff that still stands the test of time for me. Wikipedia tells me, it was a left over cut from “The Wall” sessions called “Teach”. The only problem with the song is the length. It’s only a 1 minute and 12 seconds long and to me it shows the level of laziness Pink Floyd got too after the mega success of “The Wall”.

Roger Waters covers the vocals, the acoustic guitar and the synthesizer on the track.

Savatage – Sirens

Early albums have a certain raw innocence. According to Wikipedia, the albums was recorded and mixed all in one day (it’s all they could afford), with most of the songs prepared no more than a week before the recording session.

The title track about female sirens waiting to feast on men lost at sea is a perfect example. It’s heavy however it shows enough of the progressive fusion style that would appear on later Savatage albums.

Bryan Adams – Cuts Like a Knife

He co-wrote one of the heaviest Kiss songs in “War Machine” with Jim Vallance. His work ethic of writing songs for other artists, and releasing new music yearly led to the mega smash “Reckless” in 1984. Those hit’s don’t happen out of the blue or by releasing product every 2 to 3 years. They happen due to creativity and being constantly in the marketplace. Quantity creates quality.

“Cuts Like A Knife”

Drivin’ home this evening
I coulda sworn we had it all worked out

But you didn’t have it all worked out. You have those arguments, then you make up and you feel like it’s all okay, but the other half knows it’s time to move on.

“What’s It Gonna Be” is cool musically, but the lyrics don’t work for me and they don’t do the music justice.

Asia – Alpha

“Alpha” sold a lot but it was still seen as a failure by the record label because it didn’t match the sales of the debut album a year before. For me, even though Steve Howe was in the band, he wasn’t really part of the song writing, so you don’t hear his progressive jazzy bluesy fusion vibe in the songs. Song writing overall is carried out by John Wetton and Geoff Downes and it’s pop rock all the way.

And for a bunch of guys who played in progressive bands in the 70’s, Asia was a perfect re-invention of their talents into a pop rock entity.

Don’t Cry

It’s like a REO Speedwagon song merged with the groove/chord progression from “Stand By Me”. I dig how it sounds musically and melodically, but man the lyrics just don’t connect.

The Heat Goes On

This song reminds me of an Aldo Nova or Billy Squier song. I dig the melodies and music, but not the lyrics.

True Colors

As soon as I heard the start of the song I thought of Marillion, but Asia came first. Then the song morphs into a pop rock tune.

For you the tables turned full circle now
And all those people you call friends
See who defends you when you’re down again
Don’t count on money-spinners then

The truth is no one defends you when you’re down. Everyone is serving their own interest.

Open Your Eyes

Lyrically the song is about a model living in a model material world and wilfully blind to what life and the world has to offer. In saying that, the song does have some cool lines.

Open your eyes
And see the world that stands before you now

So true. Open your eyes people and see what stands before you.

Do your own research. Read far and wide and listen to arguments for and arguments against your views.

Because one thing in life is certain.

Death.

And then you will ask yourself, what percentage of your life you devoted to experiencing what life has to offer instead of living in the tribe and the tribe mentality.

Uriah Heep – Head First

Uriah Heep is another 70’s act that had to re-establish itself in the 80’s MTV world. So it was no surprise the band delivered a very pop sounding 15th album. Yep, fifteenth album.

Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake are in the band, which Daisley left after the recording to rejoin Ozzy Osbourne. I guess money talks and the offer was just too good to refuse. The other Ozzy connection is keyboardist John Sinclair, who would start to appear on Ozzy albums from 1986’s “The Ultimate Sin” and onwards.

The problem with this album is the label. It went into liquidation a month after its release.

“The Other Side Of Midnight”

It’s written by the band as in Mick Box, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, John Sinclair and Peter Goalby.

Musically and melodically the song is good, but the lyrics are a mess about a man who is sneaking and creeping in the shadows, watching some woman he’s going to take on the other side of midnight.

“Lonely Nights”

“Lonely Nights” is written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and it appeared on Bryan Adams album from 1982. Isn’t it interesting how massive Bryan Adams was in terms of song writing during this period. “War Machine” from Kiss. Yep that was Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance as well.

I hear every word you’re saying
They’re all lies

“Red Lights”

Like “The Other Side Of Midnight”, it’s written by the band and while it’s pretty cool musically (it’s basically a speed metal song), lyrically it’s a mess about red lights on the highway which morphs into the red light district and suddenly he’s on his knees, unable to keep away.

“Weekend Warriors”

It’s another song written by the band. Musically its good and even the lyrics are pretty cool about racing cars in the streets.

Axe – Nemesis

Remember “Rock ‘N’ Roll Party In The Streets”. It’s from Axe’s 1982 album “Offering”. A very catchy song from a band called “Axe”. And that my friend’s is the problem. The name “Axe” didn’t really market the band to its full potential. The band had a pop sense of melody that was pretty cool, however the band name painted a picture of a band void of melody and focused on mythic kings and queens.

“Young Hearts”

Young hands reaching
For the goal they can’t attain

Leaders and corporations want us to serve. They don’t want us to think and have our own ideas and viewpoints. But every human being on Earth is born to be curious. We seek information because we want to know. And the more we know, the more we question. But being curious and seeking useless information can also keep us distracted, scrolling through our social media feeds or watching stupid YouTube videos of people playing Minecraft or something similar.

“I Think You’ll Remember Tonight”

I ain’t special, baby, I’m just a man
Who don’t look quite as good as I used to
I been around, baby, I understand
You can see by my face all the wars that I been through

Experiences are what life’s about. They create our stories and fill up our diary pages.

“Masquerade”

It’s a simple moody number that could have come from a Pink Floyd album.

They told me what was right and wrong and they
Harped upon it much too long for my taste

The faceless “they” could be teachers, parents and other institutions that want to create slaves with a hive mind mentality.

They told me how it used to be
Expecting everyone to see through their eyes

At some point in time in the 80’s, school stopped being about learning the basics and expanding your mind, to becoming a factory producing like-minded individuals who see the world through the eyes of the institution. The media companies who we once looked for truth also became platforms to brain wash people to see the world in the eyes of their billionaire owner.

Axe was touring with Mötley Crüe in 1984 when their guitarist was killed in a vehicle accident. Another member was badly injured and the band broke up after the accident.

Michael Bolton – Michael Bolton

Bolton was a rocker first and a balladeer later. He was in a hard rock band called Blackjack with Bruce Kulick between 79/80, so it was no surprise to see Bruce Kulick on lead guitar when Bolton went solo. Even Bruce’s bro, Bob Kulick makes an appearance. Another favourite guitarist of mine, Al Pitrelli replaced Kulick for the tour which was cancelled after four shows.

“Fool’s Game”

The way this song starts off with the keys, I could swear it influenced the whole melodic rock movement.

The guitar solo on this song is also from Bolton himself. Yep, good old crooner Bolton can play a mean guitar. Lyrically, Bolton talks about how he told a lady he loves her and she didn’t tell him the same back.

“She Did the Same Thing”

Bob Kulick plays rhythm guitar on this, while Bruce Kulick takes the lead guitar spotlight. Musically and melodically the song is good. Lyrically it deals with a woman who burned a friend and Bolton is telling that friend, yep, she did that same thing to me. It’s Shakespearean all the way (as I insert a laughing out loud emoji).

“Can’t Hold On, Can’t Let Go”

As soon as the riff kicks in, it reminds me of Bad Company/Free for some reason.

Bob Kulick also plays rhythm guitar on this song while Bruce Kulick takes the lead guitar spotlight again and even Aldo Nova gets a credit, playing the synth. Lyrically this song deals with not being able to let someone go because of the history. But Bolton knows he should because the relationship is over.

U2 – War

It was well into the 90’s that I finally heard this album. I knew “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “New Years Day” from the video clips and they are to me, the only good songs on the album which also worked great as hard rock tunes.

“Broken bottles under children’s feet, bodies strewn across the dead-end street”, from “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”
“Under a blood red sky, a crowd has gathered in black and white, arms entwined, the chosen few, the newspapers says, says it’s true”, from “New Year’s Day”

Divinyls – Desperate

The song “Boys In Town” was all over the TV and the radio. It’s vocalists Chrissy Amphlett’s take on a young woman having a good time with the neighbourhood boys, until she suddenly sees the life she’s created, which she wants to escape from.

“Boys In Town”

I was always driving home
All the boys in town
But they never telephoned
Get me out of here

Chrissy Amphlett (RIP) was a powerhouse front woman. She was as aggressive as the men and led the Divinyls with an abandonment of a punk rocker. Add to the mix her stormy relationship with her song writing partner and band mate Mark McEntee, which further fuelled the angst.

Eurythmics

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, “Here Comes The Rain Again” and “Who’s That Girl” are great pop songs that worked well in a rock/metal context when covered. Hell, Marilyn Manson gave “Sweet Dreams” a new lease of life with his gothic industrial re-interpretation.

Spandau Ballet – True

Being the long haired lout I was, I hated the way this band looked, but man they could write a good pop tune that worked well in a rock context. “Pleasure”, “Gold” and “True” are such songs. Great to re-interpret on guitar for a rock setting and it was interesting learning sax solos for lead guitar.

Elton John – Too Low For Zero

Elton John along with Bernie Taupin wrote pop songs that worked well as rock songs. “Kiss The Bride” and “I’m Still Standing” are two such songs I covered in various bands I was in.

Bonnie Tyler

Jim Steinman moved from Meatloaf to Bonnie Tyler. Big production, big songs and a lot of piano lines ripped off from classical music. But the best song on this album is “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” a cover of a Creedence Clearwater Revival song. For me, it was the first time I heard the song and it made me seek out the original.

Yes – 90125

This is album number 11 and the band is a very different beast from its Seventies incarnation. Actually Yes broke up in 1981 after the “Drama” tour. The band at the time was Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Trevor Horn, and Geoffrey Downes.

Bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White formed Cinema with guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin. Actually producer Mutt Lange (who used Rabin as a session muso) introduced Rabin to Squire and White. Original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye who had left Yes in 1971 joined soon after and was let go not long after. Trevor Horn tried as singer, but was unsuccessful and ended up as their producer. Original Yes singer Jon Anderson, returned to record the lead vocals, leading Cinema to change their name to Yes.

Meanwhile Steve Howe and Geoffrey Downes co-formed Asia. And both hands had massive success with their albums. I guess you can’t keep good musos down.

“Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is a massive song. Even though the song is listed as being written by the band, the basic idea and monster intro riff came from Rabin.

Be yourself
Give your free will a chance
You’ve got to want to succeed

There are differing viewpoints on who wrote what lyrics for this song and maybe these differing viewpoints is what makes the song so good.

“Changes” is another song from Rabin’s demo tape and it’s a progressive tour de force that moves between King Crimson style prog merged with the old Yes into something from “The Police” like “Message In A Bottle” and when the chorus comes in, it’s pop rock. As Wikipedia tells me, the song was written by Rabin during a “depressed time”, after a potential solo album deal with Geffen Records fell through as they wished for him to join a band and play more “like Foreigner”.

I’m moving through some changes
I’ll never be the same
Something you did touched me
There’s no one else to blame

Is the “YOU” the label or a person?

Regardless, we make changes or go through changes because something happened. And the something could come from an institution, a corporation, an entity or a person.

“Our Song” has one of those intros reminiscent of those summer teen flicks.

Our song
It gives us a reason
Our song
That good remedy
Music has magic
That stuff of syncopation

It’s a cool lyric. Musicians to me, write songs which reflect us back to ourselves. The way they feel about music is how music lovers feel about music. Music gives them a reason, it gives us a reason. They see it as a remedy and we also see it as a remedy. They believe music has magic and we also believe music has magic, otherwise how else would you describe the sounds.

“City of Love”

Wikipedia tells me that “City of Love” was inspired by Rabin’s visit to Harlem in New York City while on his way to a rehearsal with Foreigner. His taxi arrived at the wrong address and to a more dangerous part of the area.

Street corner wonder lust
Beckoning the good guy
Take this, get that
Have a good time

Yes I wonder what was on offer at the street corner.

Good timing has its good price
One trick and you’re stuck with the dice
How they jive and jingle
When you’re their sacrifice

It’s easy for a fun situation to turn bad. It’s easy for people to score, but will that score cost them their life. The war on drugs started in the 70’s. The Colombian cartels made it global and suddenly Governments all over the world wanted a piece of the billion dollar pie. And new agencies got formed to stop the drugs and they are failing. There are more drugs on the streets today than there ever was.

And there it is.

1983 has come to a close. I guess 1984 is next.

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