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

1976 Part 2.6: Ted Nugent – Free For All

It’s album number two for the “Motor City Madman” released in October 1976. Wikipedia mentions that it’s his first album to go Platinum, but it doesn’t mention that the year was 1992, 16 years after its release.

A “free for all” is a chaotic situation, lacking rules or structure. Like an uncontrolled fight that involves many people or a concert circle pit, or a press conference that deteriorates into a smash and bash or a barrage of questions without any control as to who is asking.

But this album is cohesive and structured, nothing like a free for all.

It’s well known that Ted Nugent liked his solo career to be all about him. But he did need others to make that happen, like Derek St. Holmes, who was hired as a vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the debut album. But as the lead singer, you could say that some attention was directed towards him.

Fast forward a year later, St. Holmes left the band, due to growing personal and creative conflicts with Nugent however he did play and sing on a few tracks before his departure. Left without a vocalist, Nugent turned to himself and to an unknown singer called Meatloaf, who was a year away from his “Bat Out Of Hell” international success.

And like all things in business, money talks and St. Holmes was back in the band at the request of Epic Records for the tour and “Cat Scratch Fever”.

The musical side of the recording has Ted Nugent on guitars plus vocals on the title track, along with Rob Grange on bass and Cliff Davies on drums. Derek St Holmes played rhythm guitar on the tracks he provided vocals on and Meatloaf did the rest.

Tom Werman is also producing.

St. Holmes hated the Werman production as he believed it was too watered down, but Werman knew exactly what was needed to get as many songs onto the radio.

The view from Werman was simple. If the songs were played on radio, it meant that the band would have a chance to tour. By touring and having songs on radio, the album would then sell.

This type of thinking would come to fruition for Werman by the late 70’s and most of the 80’s. His streak of Gold and Platinum albums is an envious one, and most of the artists who succeeded with Werman or had their biggest selling album with Werman, would go on to blast Werman many years after.

“Free-for-All”

I was reading that the intro riff is based upon the track “Sufficiently Breathless” from Captain Beyond, but when I first heard it, it reminded me of “Stormbringer” from Deep Purple and “Stranglehold”.

Vocals are provided by Nugent.

Lyrical, the Nuge is in top form with lyrics like “the stakes are high and so am I” and “When in doubt I whip it out”.

It’s a free-for-all alright.

“Dog Eat Dog”

It feels like Accept took this song and used it as the basis for the “Balls To The Wall” album and song.

Vocals are provided by Derek St. Holmes. The pentatonic leads from Nugent are excellent and towards the end, he does an open string lick, which reminds me of the things that Angus Young would do on “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”.

Lyrically, it’s pretty descriptive. We are told of a riot, “Sabotage on a downtown street / Police cars overturned” and a suicide, “Kamikaze from the hundredth floor / Swan dive to the street”. “Wild Side” from Motley Crue comes to mind here.

“Writing on the Wall”

7 minutes long.

My kind of cut, that just jams along and takes you on a journey. The main riff reminds me of “Stranglehold” and “Free For All” but it’s the vocal delivery and melodies from Meatloaf which makes this song sound epic.

The Chorus section sounded like “Gates Of Babylon” exotic before “Gates” was even recorded.

I like the lead break section in this. The bass grooves on the main riff, the drums lay down the foundation and Madman Nugent decorates it with pentatonic lines, bends, slides and a ringing chord.

At some stages it moves into the melodic minor domain before moving back into the bluesy pentatonic lines.

“Blazing’ down the highway / I’d rather have it my way”

I don’t think the kids these days have the same view of the highway as we had back then. It was a rite of passage to get your licence, get a car and drive. It opened up new places.

What’s a rite of passage these days?

Get the latest tech, have the most followers, play the crypto game or the stock market.

“Turn It Up”

It feels like a Led Zeppelin cut in the “Rock N Roll” vein. But at 1.22, it changes into these sleazy groove for a Nugent solo before it picks back up into the 12 bar blues.

Vocals are provided by St. Holmes.

And in the last 30 seconds, Nugent becomes Jimmy Page with fast Pentatonic lines.

“Street Rats”

It kicks off Side 2.

The intro riff would sound familiar to Van Halen fans, as I’m pretty sure a young EVH was listening to this. Hell, the Sunset Strip sound is this riff.

Vocals are provided by Meatloaf.

“Post war anti-social” is a lyric that resonates for some reason. Maybe it’s due to the in-depth study I did on the Vietnam War back in High School and how the soldiers returned as villains and not to any Victory Parade, with PTSD and drug issues and problems with the government.

“Together”

The song is written by Rob Grange and Cliff Davies. Vocals are provided by Meatloaf. It’s like a power rock ballad, and one of the best tracks on the album.

Grange and Davies create a great foundation, for Nugent to solo over and Meatloaf to create a great vocal on.

“Light My Way”

It’s written by Derek St. Holmes and Rob Grange and vocals are provided by St. Holmes. Its more in the vein of the blues rock tracks that St. Holmes is involved in.

“Hammerdown”

It’s a heavy metal cut that would rival most NWOBHM bands and make sure you check out the vocals by Meatloaf.

I’m not sure if Steve Harris was listening, but the riff in the Verses and Chorus is very similar to “Running Free”.

Even the vocal melodies from Meatloaf could be said inspired some of the NWOBHM vocalists.

White line
Double time
Come around with a hammerdown

Was the Nuge a user/taker or just using artistic licence. It’s pretty clear what he’s writing about here.

“I Love You So I Told You a Lie”

Written by Cliff Davies, and what a great title.

Vocals are provided by Meatloaf for a 12 bar blues in the verses.

A family life and a loving’ wife
Just ain’t my kinda scene

But when you’re all alone, you would long for this scene as a we are creatures of the tribe.

Underrated stars on the album are Rob Grange on bass and Cliff Davies on drums. While Grange was Entwistle like, Davies was very technical.

Ted Nugent is also more of a melodic player than a technical shredder and I like it.

And although he has views on things are different to mine, those views rarely distract me from good music.

Crank it.

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1976 Part 2.5: Tommy Bolin – Private Eyes

I had no idea about Tommy Bolin until Motley Crue covered the song “Teaser” and released it on their “Raw Tracks II” EP which came out in 1990 for the Japanese market and suddenly I was scrolling the used record racks for Tommy Bolin albums or albums that had him playing.

Actually, the Motley Crue version of “Teaser” was officially released on a 1989, compilation album called “Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell” which featured the bands who performed at the Moscow Music Peace Festival. And of course the song re-appeared on their “Decade Of Decadence” collection in 1992.

Shock horror to everyone these days who grew up with Wikipedia, I was surprised to read that he was in Deep Purple, but only for a brief moment and that he was in Deep Purple with David Coverdale who was another artist’s back catalogue I was digging deep into during the same period.

The Tommy Bolin “Teaser” album came out in 1975, and while successful he couldn’t really tour behind it due to his Deep Purple commitments, so he kept on writing and over an 8 day period, “Private Eyes” was recorded and released in 1976. This would be his last studio album before he died of a drug overdose on December 4, 1976 at 25 years of age.

It’s worth pointing out that from 1969 to 1976, Bolin was involved in 10 studio albums, with the bands Zephyr, James Gang (he replaced the guitarist who replaced Joe Walsh), Billy Cobham, Alphonse Mouzon, Moxy, Deep Purple (he replaced Ritchie Blackmore) and as a solo artist.

To put into context, Metallica have released 10 studio albums in 38 years. Avenged Sevenfold have released 7 albums in 20 years. The different work ethics of the artists and the labels across different decades is evident.

As a 15 year old, he hitchhiked from his hometown to Denver and met up with a singer called Jeff Cook to form American Standard. Cook would also act as a co-writer for Bolin’s solo output. He then joined Zephyr and after a few albums, he grabbed drummer Bobby Berge to form “Energy” with Jeff Cook on vocals.

But the fusion of styles in the music of “Energy” didn’t resonate with people and the labels. But Bolin did enough to get the attention of Billy Cobham who asked him to play on his record. And then the high profile gigs and studio work started. And by the time he was in Deep Purple he was heavily into drugs and alcohol.

“Bustin’ Out For Rosey”

Its funk rock groove is great to jam to.

The outro jam with the fuzzed out guitar licks and brass section is great listening.

“Sweet Burgundy”

I don’t know who influenced who, but “Wonderful Tonight” from Eric Clapton sounds very similar to this in the intro.

The slide guitar is sublime.

And in the outro, they just jam out the main melody, something that Bruce Springsteen would do to great effect with “Born In The U.S.A” when they keep playing the vocal melody in the outro.

“Post Toastee”

A nine minute song.

So many songs came out between the years of 1968 and 1978 that had similar riffs to either “Cocaine” or “Sunshine Of Your Love”. This is another for the first two minutes and 20 seconds.

Then a bass groove comes in and it’s all funky and soulful. As the bass and drums jam, Bolin starts his lead break. Listen to his phrasing, how he lets certain notes ring and others he deadens.

It’s this fusion of so many different styles which makes Bolin unique.

At the 4.30 mark, the “Cocaine” riff is back in.

Then Bolin shreds away again for the rest of the song.

“Shake The Devil”

It’s a blues jazz fusion cut, like how Joe Walsh played in James Gang.

But at 2.34, the embryo of bands like Iron Maiden is there. Check out the change of pace, the riff and the lead breaks.

“Gypsy Soul”

It’s like a campfire “Love Boat” acoustic cut.

And what I like about this is that Bolin stays within the acoustic guitar and delivers a stellar flamenco lead outro break.

“Someday We’ll Bring Our Love Home”

Carmine Appice filled on drums on this one, as Bobby Berge was unavailable that day. It could have appeared on a Steely Dan album. Its bluesy and full of soul.

“Hello Again”

The strummed chords outline a similar progression like “Free Bird” as the song percolates in that acoustic domain with violins and violas.

“You Told Me That You Loved Me”

A bluesy jazz fusion cut full of sleaze and soul with an ascending walking bass riff.

I like the change at the 3 minute mark, and then the brass instruments come in and the leads starts and its solos to the end.

If you like a lot of guitar playing, this album has it. Crank it.

P.S. Reggie McBride on bass and Bobby Berge on drums are excellent and unsung heroes on this album.

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1976 – Part 2.3: Thin Lizzy – Johnny The Fox

All of my Thin Lizzy listening experiences happened well into the 90’s, when the second hand vinyl market was cheap and rocking, with most of it priced less than $5.

And I was snapping it up.

“Johnny the Fox” came out in 1976 and the last Thin Lizzy album to have guitarist Brian Robertson featured as a full member of the band. Clashes over songs and personalities led to Robertson being sacked, reinstated, and later sacked again.

It was an album of convenience as “Jailbreak” came out at the start of the year and due to Phil Lynott’s illness with hepatitis, they couldn’t really tour behind it, so “Johnny The Fox” was created.

Thin Lizzy was Phil Lynott on bass guitar and vocals, Scott Gorham on lead and rhythm guitar, Brian Robertson on lead and rhythm guitar and Brian Downey on drums.

Johnny

The intro is just so simple and groovy, how can you not like it. I swear it gave birth to the New Wave bands that came out in the 80’s.

And the iconic phrasing and voice of Phil Lynott is unique, it makes you pay attention to the story he’s trying to tell.

The lead breaks are excellent.

And the drumming is so underrated. Its powerful and make sure you check out the fills.

Rocky

“He’s got all the tricks to pull the chicks”, is Lynott at his best.

The harmony solos are nice and delicate before the angry and sleazy pentatonic licks start to wail away.

Borderline

It’s like a bluesy country rock song. Check out the bass lines on this.

Don’t Believe A Word

I was hooked from the opening riff which Robertson re-interpreted after Lynott presented the song in a slow 12 bar blues format.

The faster upbeat, was based on a Downey shuffle. If you want to hear Lynott’s original bluesy version, it’s on Gary Moore’s “Back On The Streets”, released in 1978.

The actual lead break with the wah wah sounds like it’s getting strangled out of the guitar.

Robertson wasn’t happy when the song was only credited to Lynott.

Fool’s Gold

The major key vibe is something that Thin Lizzy used a lot and man, they made it rock hard.

Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed

Seriously what a great title for a funk blues rock tune. Phil Lynott was a fan of “The O’Jays” and their song “For the Love of Money.

Old Flame

It’s like a love rock song with a lot of harmony guitars.

Massacre

The best track on the album.

This could appear on an Iron Maiden album and not be out of place. It’s basically a metal cut.

The whole band is on fire. The drums are fast, jazz like, while the guitars and bass syncopate, to play some fast palm muted pentatonic grooves.

Sweet Marie

After the madness of “Massacre”, “Sweet Marie” is like “Love Boat” music, as you’re lying on a beach drinking Pina Colada’s. Vocally, John Sykes borrowed heaps from this song. In some sections, I believed I was listening to Sykes.

Boogie Woogie Dance

It’s got a musical feel similar to “Massacre” but with a stupid title. Then again, it goes with “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed”.

But it wasn’t strong enough to be on the album.

It didn’t get any certifications in the North American markets. But what it did do was put the band on the road. And as long as they could stay healthy, they would make coin.

But they didn’t.

Robertson was fired during the tour, replaced by Gary Moore and back in the studio they went.

Finally, drummer Brian Downey is the unsung hero on this album, delivering so many different rhythms and feels.

P.S. For their second album in the year it’s still solid and some stellar cuts like “Massacre” and “Johnny”.

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1976 – Part 2.2: Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak

I was reading Guitar Legends and there was a feature on each decade from the 60s to the first 2000’s decade.

So in the 70s decades they covered some important and influential albums.

“Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, “IV” and “Physical Graffiti “ from Led Zeppelin, “Machine Head” by Deep Purple, “A Night At The Opera” by Queen, “Destroyer” by Kiss, Boston’s self-titled debut and “Never Mind The Bollocks” by The Sex Pistols are mentioned.

Thin Lizzy didn’t even get a mention. Written out of history. If there is a band that brought harmony guitars to the masses, it’s Thin Lizzy.

But they didn’t have a guitar hero in the band and a front man who wasn’t a pretty boy.

The band is Phil Lynott on vocals and bass, Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on guitars and Brian Downey on drums.

“Jailbreak” is the only Thin Lizzy album which has a certification in the U.S, a Gold one for 500,000 copies sold. But they never really toured behind the album as Lynott was fighting hepatitis.

It was also their last chance as “Nightlife” and “Fighting” didn’t meet the commercial expectations their label had.

And while Robertson felt the production was too restricted which led to less improvisation, it was exactly the tight ship that was needed to push them into the arenas.

Press play and have fun.

Jailbreak

How good is the main riff?

When the sirens start, listen to the riffs under it, it’s like the rumble/fight riffs in stage play soundtracks. Alice Cooper did something similar with “Gutter Cats vs The Jets”.

It’s a 41.5 million streams on Spotify.

Angel From The Coast

Downey on the drums is a star. Listen to how he swings, not a beat out of place.

Great lyrics about the boys playin poker and the joker being their favorite card and the middle section reminds of Hendrix and the Lizzy boys are swinging with the best of em.

Running Back

It’s a blues melodic rock cut inspired by Van Morrison and the first single from the album.

And it’s the little things, like the keyboard, saxophone, and overdubbed guitar lines from Scott Gorham that all add up.

Romeo And The Lonely Girl

What a great guitar solo in a song dedicated to those right girls that come at the wrong times.

And the solo keeps going when Lynott starts singing again.

Warriors

Lynott’s way of defining heavy drug takers was by describing them as warriors.

The Intro riff shuffles along.

Great soloing from Brain Robertson with a lot of wah wah.

But the piece d’resistance starts from the drum improv section at 2.53 and continues to the end. It’s progressive rock and a wow moment.

The Boys Are Back In Town

The big hit single, at 247.2 million streams, which still gets played on radio and licensed to movies, TV shows and advertisements in 2021 generating millions in royalties.

But no certification in the U.S market, however you would be hard pressed to find a person who doesn’t know the song.

So do you really need a sale or a plaque on the wall to show off your success or the success of a song?

And it did something massive for songwriters, making twin guitar harmonies an actual thing in popular songs.

Fight Or Fall

It’s got this Rod Stewart “Maggie May” feel, a strummed soul blues number.

Cowboy Song

The slow acoustic intro doesn’t foretell the rocker to come. 14.7 million streams on Spotify.

Emerald

The embryo and foundations of what Iron Maiden would be is in this song.

The Irish influences are here as well, something that Gary Moore would use a lot of on the “Wild Frontier” album.

It’s one of my favorite Lizzy albums of the Robertson and Gorham era on guitars. Lynott is unique but it’s Downey who owns this album. His drumming is superb and very underrated.

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1976 Part 2.2: Bad Company – Run With The Pack

“Run With The Pack” dropped in 1976. Ron Nevison engineered it and Eddie Kramer mixed it. Two names who appeared on a lot of hard rock and metal release I acquired in the 80’s.

For Bad Company, this is three albums in three years but when Daniel Ek from Spotify said that artists need to release more frequently, there was an uproar.

Did anyone see the recorded output from Ronnie James Dio?

From Elf, to Rainbow, to Black Sabbath and his solo career, he was doing a release a year.

“Run With The Pack” is not as solid as the first two albums from start to finish, but there is still enough quality to get people’s attention and it also helps when the first two albums are still selling and being played on radio.

LIVE FOR THE MUSIC

Great title.

The chord and a vocal line, the chord again and another vocal line. And that funky riff in the chorus.

“But when the night time comes I’m ready to rock”

The night is my domain. I feel I’m at my most creative then.

Check out the guitar solo. It’s a simple three note melody, repeated over three bars, with just a small change on the last bar. So simple, but effective. And it pissed me off when writers in the 90’s wrote about how simple and effective the Seattle solos were. I guess they never checked out Bad Company.

Unsung hero here is Boz Burrell on the bass. His holding down the groove but also playing the melody and towards the end of the song, it’s just Simon Kirke and Burrell, grooving away.

SIMPLE MAN

As good as anything from the first two albums.

I love the way the song just rolls after those opening arpeggios. It’s an anthem. So many good lyrical lines like;

“I’m just a simple man trying to be free”
“Freedom is the only thing that means a damn to me”

Ralphs use of acoustic and electric guitars is the same technique he employed on “Feel like Makin’ Love” from the “Straight Shooter” album.

HONEY CHILD

It’s “Can’t Get Enough” part 2.

LOVE ME SOMEBODY

A country blues piano ballad. Songs like these showcase the variation of the 70’s acts. An album purchase would give the listener so many different styles.

RUN WITH THE PACK

It starts off as a rocker and roller.

But the slow-down in the chorus. I love it.

Listen, especially when the violins come in towards the end.

SILVER, BLUE AND GOLD

It’s a fan favourite, with a sweet solo.

YOUNG BLOOD

A rock-a-billy cover. Not my favorite.

DO RIGHT BY YOUR WOMAN

Another country rock cut.

SWEET LIL’ SISTER

It’s “Movin On” part 2. The chord progression was overused. “Sweet Home Alabama” comes to mind.

FADE AWAY

The piano riff is excellent.

They tried to rewrite “Bad Company” and they did a good job with it. It has enough variation to make it sound unique. U.F.O sounded like this on the “Lights Out” album. And Check out the emotive solo.

Press play and relive 1976.

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1976 – Part 2.1: Rush – 2112

Released in 1976.

The album cover captured my attention immediately.

The “Red Star” was easily associated with the Communist governments of the time. Kids these days would have no idea, but in 1976, Eastern Europe and parts of South East Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central/South America were under Communist governments or military dictatorships. And these kind of governments like to control everything and everyone.

Coming into 2112, Rush was in a predicament. D

o they stay true to themselves and their art or do they give in to what the label wants?

In the Guitar Legends magazine focusing on Rush, Neal Peart said the following;

“Caress didn’t actually do any worse than the albums before it, at that point, all three had sold about 100,000 copies a piece in the U.S.

But if our record company hadn’t been in such turmoil I don’t think we would have been able to keep our recording contract.

By the end of that year we were unable to pay our crews salary or even our own. Things were dire and we were getting a lot of pressure.

Polygram had written us off before “2112” had come out. We’d seen their financial predictions for 1976 and we weren’t even on the list!”

In the same magazine, Alex Lifeson said the following;

“The Fountain Of Lamneth” on “Caress of Steel” was really our first fill concept song and “2112” was an extension of it.

That was a tough period for Rush because “Caress of Steel” didn’t do that well commercially, but we were really happy with it and wanted to develop that style.

Because there was so much negative feeling from the record company and our management was worried, we came back with full force with “2112”. There was a lot of passion and anger on that record. It was about one person standing up against everybody else”.

History shows that they made the right decision.

And for all the hate “Caress Of Steel” got from the label, it was the album that bridged the first era of Rush albums to “2112”.

The entire Side One is all “2112”. Which is broken up into 7 sections.

I. “Overture”

An instrumental that acts as a summary in which you get to hear all of the melodic pieces which appear on the song.

II. “The Temples of Syrinx”

A sombre melody with the words “And the meek shall inherit the Earth” is sung before the distorted guitars kick in for “The Temples of Syrinx”.

This is a future where individualism and creativity are outlawed and the population controlled by a cabal of malevolent Priests who reside in the Temples of Syrinx.

And the way copyright law is going, creativity can be outlawed as every single melody known to the human race has been used and corporations are doing their best to lock them up under ridiculous terms, like life of the creator plus 90 years after death. But they seem to forget that creativity is based on influences.

We’ve taken care of everything
The words you read, the songs you sing
The pictures that give pleasure to your eyes

The schooling system is designed for conformity, a one size fits millions approach. The schools are factories for degrees later on. You can’t even get an Administration role in a Company without a Uni/College degree. And Masters Degrees are the biggest scams ever. A pure profit making product for the colleges.

III. “Discovery”

A classical acoustic guitar announces the arrival of “Discovery”, found inside a cave and the founder rediscovers the lost art of music.

I can’t wait to share this new wonder
The people will all see its light
Let them all make their own music
The Priests praise my name on this night

Creativity and imagination is progress. Without it, we stagnate.

IV. “Presentation”

This is like Zeppelin Rush which tells the story of how the guitar is presented to the priest of the Temple of Syrinx, who then proceed to destroy it and banish the man who found it.

Listen to my music
And hear what it can do
There’s something here as strong as life
I know that it will reach you

But the Priests didn’t want to know about his ancient relic. It was the downfall of The Elders. The emotion and escapism that comes from listening to music.

Just before the song finishes, they go into the “Temples of Syrinx” riff and Lifeson solo’s over it. Check it out, its guitar hero worthy.

V. “Oracle: The Dream”

A shimmering chorus guitar kicks off the song in which the man who found the guitar dreams of another world in which creativity and individualism is allowed and full of song and laughter.

VI. “Soliloquy”

We are back to the sounds of water running down, like how we heard in “Discovery”. But the lyrical theme is heavy. The man who was filled with joy at finding the guitar, is now in despair at living a life that’s cold and empty. So the only way for him to be with the world in his dream is for his life’s blood to spill over.

Make sure you check out Lifeson’s solo. So bluesy, full of bends and emotion. Brilliant.

VII. “Grand Finale”

Major key chords kick off the “Grand Finale”. And it’s up to the listener to decide what happened.

When I first heard the lines “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation, We have assumed control” I presumed that the “Solar Federation” put down some uprising and assumed control again.

Then I thought it meant that the “Solar Federation” was overthrown by someone and they are alerting all the planets that there is a new government in control.

“A Passage to Bangkok”

It kicks off Side 2.

A great riff to start a song about all the places in the world that grow the best weed. The track names a number of cities and countries, including Bogotá, Acapulco, Morocco, Bangkok and Kathmandu, Nepal.

I just finished watching “The Serpent” on Netflix and how the main character preyed on tourists who came to Bangkok and Kathmandu in the late 60s and 70’s to experience those weed highs, kidnapping them, robbing them and then killing them.

“The Twilight Zone”

I like the harmony guitars to kick off the song.

How good is the music in the section, when Lee sings, “you have entered the twilight zone”?

Use the key, unlock the door
See what your fate might have in store…

I never watched “The Twilight Zone” on TV. I’ve read some short stories on it and in the 80’s a documentary was aired on Australian TV’s about strange phenomena and they called it “The Twilight Zone”.

“Lessons”

It’s Lifeson expressing his love for Led Zeppelin. It’s got hard rock distorted chords and clean tone strummed verses.

“Tears”

This is a great song.

How good are the verse riff arpeggios?

“Something for Nothing”

The acoustic guitar intro gets me interested. And the way Lee and Peart come in, they change the groove completely.

The song is about freewill and decision making, a topic I write about regularly on this blog when I’m putting my point of views out there on certain songs and the lyrical message.

You don’t get something for nothing
You can’t have freedom for free

In the end “Freedom isn’t free”.

If you don’t believe me, why does it cost so much to live in a free country.

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story
In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

The lyrics are prophetic. Rush didn’t wait for someone to tell them what to do. They did what they wanted to do and they wrote their own story. In the end, it was a backs against the wall album. If it bombed commercially, they would go down in flames. But it didn’t.

They stuck to their guns, did what was important to them and built a career from it.

3x Platinum in the U.S and 2x Platinum in Canada.

Press Play, relax and “Attention all Planets of the Solar Federation. We have assumed control.”

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1976 – Part 1.4: Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny

It’s not on Spotify as their original label Gull owns the rights and the split between artist and label was hostile.

Judas Priest recorded this album on a very small budget, whilst working part-time jobs and living off of one meal a day. As they say, hard times and adversity breeds genius.

This album is the transition point between blues rock and a new style about to be born, which is basically the metal that I got to know.

“Victim Of Changes”

It kicks off the album, a combination of two separate songs. “Whiskey Woman” from the band co-founder and original singer, Al Atkins (who also gave the band its name) and “Red Light Lady” from the person who replaced him, Rob Halford.

The riff reminds me of “Stormbringer” from Deep Purple and both songs came out at a similar time. There is a little lick towards the end of the riff that Metallica swiped for “Seek And Destroy” which they use to “get out” of the intro riff pattern and into the verse riff. Wikipedia quotes a source that the riff was inspired by “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin.

Regardless of the source inspiration, it’s a beautiful example of how you take little bits and pieces of what came before and make it your own.

“The Ripper”

A lot of bands at this time were doing similar riffs, borrowing from each other and allowing themselves to be influenced. The main riff here is reminiscent of “Stranglehold” from Ted Nugent, however both songs came out at the same time. It could be pure coincidence, but it also means that the artists in question had the same influences.

The Chorus riff feels like a Pink Panther soundtrack and the solo section is the way Muse do their solo sections.

“Dreamer Deceiver”

If you want to know the inspiration behind “The Warning” album from Queensryche, just listen to this.

It’s one of those moody slow tempo songs I really like from acts in the Seventies. From a Judas Priest viewpoint, this song is an underrated cut. I would even call it a masterpiece.

Halford covers so much ground with his voice, singing across four octaves at different times of the song.

And the guitar solo from Glenn Tipton. One of the best guitar solos of all time. So overlooked. It’s on par with “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd for pure emotion.

As the solo went on, Halford came in with his super falsetto ohhhs and ahhhs.

“Deceiver”

It has the triplet galloping style of riffing that Sabbath used in “Children Of The Grave” which came out in 1971. And Halford is going to town with his falsetto voice, clearly showing a certain Scandinavian singer called King Diamond, how to develop his style.

“Prelude”

It’s soundtrack music. A friend of mine said, its influenced by “The March Of The Black Queen” from the Queen “II” album. Listen to em both and you decide.

“Tyrant”

I reckon a young EVH was clearly influenced by the riffs in this song. Listen to the intro riff and you will hear it sounds like a certain Van Halen song.

“Genocide”

There is a lot of Deep Purple in this track. “Smoke On The Water” and “Woman from Tokyo” come to mind, from a groove and feel point of view.

“Epitaph”

It’s a progressive song, with layered vocals while musically, it’s just a piano riff. Black Sabbath’s “Changes” and Queen and ELP comes to mind.

“Island of Domination”

And they close off the album with a track that reminds me of “IV” from Sabbath.

The main riff sounds an awful lot like Nazareth’s “Railroad Boy” released a year earlier.

And you all know my view on this, all music is a derivative of some other music. If you listen closely, the section from 2.20 reminds me of “Wake Up Dead” from Megadeth.

For just their second album, there is a lot of ground covered.

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

1976 – Part 1.3: Boston – Boston

It’s another band I really got into during the 90’s and I’ve posted my record collection of Boston here.

It was a Guitar World issue that got me interested to hear Boston as it spoke about the making of the album, Tom Scholz diligence to sound and it also had a transcription of the opening track, “More Than A Feeling”. At 445.7 million plus streams on Spotify, it’s a monster track.

At 29 years of age when the album was released, Tom Scholz wasn’t your typical rock star in waiting, working as a project manager for Polaroid with a Master’s degree in engineering and writing songs that he liked to hear in his basement when he wasn’t working. And as good as Scholz is, he needed a voice for his songs, and that voice came from Brad Delp.

Disco also ruled the airwaves when this album hit the record stores. Most labels passed on the band because they didn’t believe a guitar heavy rock record could even chart. But Scholz stumbled onto a sound that would be imitated by all bands since.

My favourite is “Peace Of Mind” purely for the guitar leads in the intro and the outro. On Spotify, its sitting at 117.8 million streams.

I then ignored the rest of the album for a long time, finding it generic. An Epic A&R rep even said to the band in one of the rejection letters that they have nothing new to offer and sounded generic, but then credited himself as discovering the band when they broke big.

Then in the 2000’s I revisited the album.

“Foreplay/Long Time” came into my life and I didn’t notice it before but it has a similar riff in it as “More Than A Feeling. On Spotify, its sitting at 74.4 million streams.

“Rock And Roll Band” and “Smokin” are your standard blues rock fares, with “Smokin” having a more ELP vibe in the middle section. It’s also sitting at 47.3 million streams on Spotify.

And the other tracks are “Hitch A Ride”, “Something About You” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” showcase a more of blues country rock feel, but compared to the massive first two songs, they are lost in the “deep album cut” landscape. And it’s those first two tracks which sold the album throughout the world.

17 million sales in the U.S alone. Not bad for an album recorded in a basement.

In 2013, Scholz filed a termination notice to claim back his copyrights to the debut album and “Dont Look Back” as per the clause in Copyright Law which allows him to do so after 35 years. And it ended up in the courts.

Who knows if he succeeded?

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