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

1983 – VI – No Parole From The Born Again, Bent Out Of Shape, Rock And Roll Frontiers As The Never Switch Is Flicked For Steeler Siogo’s Surrender.

Listening back to all of the music from 1983 got me thinking about life and time. Even though 1983 is 34 years in the past, it feels like it was more recent.

How time flys?

And I am trying to work out how certain events pushed me onto different paths and how those paths became far removed from the path I wanted to be on.

And while life might seem chaotic in 2017, it wasn’t much different in 1983. We still had terrorism back them. The IRA was very active in the U.K and we had acts of terror in Lebanon. We had changes in government that didn’t appeal to the status quo.

The frontiers are a changing.

Journey – Frontiers

“I gotta tell you that I’m not hurtin’ for a place to live and I’m not hurtin’ for money, no, but filthy rich – no. You’ve got six people in the band, you’ve got unions in this country, you’ve got people who want a big hunk of what you make all the way down the line. It’s a big circus. It takes five semis and a lot of lights, a lot of sound, a lot of crew and a lot of busses and gas! When you talk 107 shows and you talk 30,000 miles, you’re talking a lot.”
Steve Perry 

Coming into the recording of “Frontiers”, Journey was riding the waves of “Don’t Stop Believin”. The Jonathan Cain era was in full swing.

So what was next for Journey?

How do you follow up “Escape”?

They began their career as progressive rockers in the 70’s, and by the start of the 80’s they had moved into hard rock. With the addition of Jonathan Cain on keyboards and with the success of “Escape” they moved into superstar territory. And with “Frontiers”, Journey kept on polishing their sound and moving further away from their progressive blues roots. Plus they also gave a certain person in Italy a name for his future record label.

Separate Ways
It’s been covered by metal bands ad infinitum because it’s such a good song. The opening keyboard lick would work well as a guitar lick. Then when the drum groove comes in, it’s quality all around.

I would have preferred to hear some more grunt in the verses from the guitar, but this is Journey coming off the success of “Escape” and Neal Schon transitions into a song decorator.

Someday, love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched and went our separate ways

The chorus melody was so good, that Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon re-used it/plagiarised it/copied it or let themselves be influenced by it on the song “Message of Love” from their 1997 comeback album, “Trial By Fire”.

Faithfully
It’s the signature ballad and the last track recorded for the album. Prince even asked Journey for permission before releasing “Purple Rain” because the chord changes are close to “Faithfully” and he didn’t want to get sued.

“I thought it was an amazing tune and I told him, ‘Man, I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.’”
JONATHAN CAIN 

“We all talked about it, and everybody said, ‘Nah, it’s the highest form of flattery. Let it go.’”
NEAL SCHON 

And Cain could have requested a co-writing credit on “Purple Rain,” but he didn’t.

“No, no, that’ll just bring bad juju on you, and you don’t want to do that. I just thought it seriously showed the kind of caring, classy guy Prince was.”
JONATHAN CAIN

All music is a sum of a person’s influences.

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile

It’s a brilliant lyric comparing the rock and roll touring lifestyle with the life of a carnie.

Steve Perry did a great job on the vocals, especially that outro. In This Moment also use this song as an influence for the outro of their song “World In Flames”.

Troubled Child
This song is one of those underrated gems on an album. Those little nuggets.

Voices echo, from the past
Decisions made for you

The whole song is great lyrically, but it’s the above that sticks out. Something that James Hetfield constantly sings about, especially in “The Unforgiven” songs.

Ask The Lonely
It was a bonus track on the 2006 re-issue. It should have been on it.

Black Sabbath – Born Again
At the start of the 80’s, Black Sabbath re-invented themselves with the Dio led version of the band. However after the success of “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules”, Ronnie James Dio said see ya later to Tony Iommi and took drummer Vinny Appice with him. Bill Ward was back in alongside Iommi, Butler and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (RIP). So the search began for a vocalist. We all know the story of how this was meant to be a new supergroup project however their new manager Don Arden (who was also Ozzy’s ex-Manager and the father to Ozzy’s wife, Sharon) would not even contemplate it. His grudges against Ozzy and Sharon and the fact that he wanted to better them with the groups he managed would be the death knell of this project.

David Coverdale and Robert Plant were talked about as vocalists. They even received an audition tape from Michael Bolton who at that time was unknown. But it was Arden who recommended Gillian. And that is the problem. Ian Gillian is more or less terrible on it. And that album cover is now part of folklore. According to Wikipedia, Don Arden was fond of telling Osbourne that his children resembled the “Born Again” album cover.

But the songs “Disturbing The Priest” and “Zero The Hero” are pretty good musically. The lyrics are neither here or there, but the music is excellent.

Disturbing the Priest
According to Wikipedia, “Disturbing the Priest” was written after a rehearsal space set up by Iommi in a small building near a local church received noise complaints from the resident priests.

It’s underpinned by a bass groove reminiscent of “Heaven And Hell” and “The Sign of The Southern Cross”. Add to that, the eeriness of early Sabbath.

The devil and the priest can’t exist if one goes away

Damn right.

Zero the Hero
Accept the fact that you’re second rate life is easy for you

Conformity in one simple statement.

Rainbow – Bent Out Of Shape
MTV changed the way bands wrote albums. Suddenly experimentation, longer guitar solos or longer songs in general went out the window. Every band was trying to make that arena rock song. So it was no surprise that Rainbow would follow suit, especially after they had a few unexpected hits in “Since You’ve been Gone” from 1979’s “Down To Earth” album with Graham Bonnet on vocals, “I Surrender” from 1981’s “Difficult To Cure” with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and “Stone Cold” from the 1982 album “Straight Between the Eyes”.

The band for the recording of this album was Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, David Rosenthal on keys and Chuck Burgi on drums. But the single here should have been “Stranded” instead of “Street of Dreams”.

Stranded
It’s the only good song on the album. That bass just keeps the pedal point note going, while Blackmore is free to explore so many different musical palettes.

Dog night, I’m so alone
A million miles out on my own
No one to talk, no one to care
Searching for someone, they could be anywhere

Life of a rock and roller.

AC/DC – Flick Of The Switch
It’s a solid album, coming out after the holy trinity of albums, their U.S breakthrough “Highway To Hell” in 1979, the mega selling “Back In Black” from 1980 and it’s 1981 successor “For Those About To Rock”.

Some personnel changes happened as well. Simon Wright is in the drummers’ chair, replacing Phil Rudd. Simon Kirke from the band Free also auditioned, as well as 699 other drummers. It would have been cool if it was 666 drummers.

The producer of their holy trinity albums, Mutt Lange was also out. Their manager Peter Mensch was also out. Angus and Malcolm stepped up to give the world a live and raw version of AC/DC. There are no classic songs on the album. But there is a lot of groove and swagger. The slower tempo’s make it sound HEAVY. But the songs don’t get played live, so the album remains largely forgotten to the masses.

“Basically what Mal had said was that he wanted to try and get that feeling of being in a room with it all happening. I don’t think it really worked entirely.”
Engineer Tony Platt in the book Maximum Rock & Roll

Rising Power
My body’s blown a fuse
Rising power
We’ll raise the night
Rising power

Rise/Rising = hard on. Blow a fuse = climax. Johnson is rolling out the metaphors.

Flick Of The Switch
With a flick of the switch
She’ll blow you sky high

Johnson is still rolling out the metaphors with innuendo.

Nervous Shakedown
It’s a dirty lie
It’s a shakedown
It’s lookin’ like a set-up

There is a lot of this happening today, with copyright trolls trying to shakedown internet users. The trolls put up the content and then take note who downloads the content via the public torrent trackers. Once they have a list of IP addresses, they go to the courts, so the courts could give approval for the Telcos to unmask their users and provide address details. If the courts approve, the trolls send the users letters, saying if they pay $50 to $100 and admit guilt, it all goes away, if they choose to fight it in court and they lose, then the users could be liable for thousands in fees. It’s a shakedown, a set-up.

Guns For Hire
Look out woman
I got gun’s for hire
Shoot you with desire

I wonder what Johnson means here.

Badlands
It sounds like Tom Keifer is singing this song. Musically, it’s a cross between George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone”, 70’s ZZ Top and AC/DC’s roots in the blues.

Again, it’s the groove that hooks me in.

“In the badlands”

Triumph – Never Surrender
I never heard this album in 1983. It became part of my collection much later on via Record Music Fairs and so forth and it was the more ambitious and melodic tracks that appealed to me.

A World Of Fantasy
How good is this song’s intro especially when the harmony guitars kick in?

Lost in your world of fantasy
Look what you’ve done to me

A Minor Prelude
It’s just a nice 90 second instrumental on acoustic guitar.

All The Way
How good is the intro?

Lyrical the theme is clichéd but the lyrics are just excellent.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Every dog will have his day
Those who wait are only wasting’ time

It’s all about the effort. In the 1900’s, research said that to achieve greatness you need to put in 10 years of practice. This was then enhanced to include 10,000 hours of practice, which was then further enhanced to say 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, which means breaking down a skill you want to learn into chunks and learning it slowly before increasing the speed.

That’s why the metronome is the best tool for any wannabe musician. Learn the song slowly and then increase the speed to its normal speed and just for fun, push the speed even faster to see how you go playing the song. Sometimes, ballads like “Alone Again” end up sounding pretty wicked at 150bpm.

That’s why the Senseball is the best tool for any wannabe football player. You start of slowly, focusing on the task at hand and slowly build it up.

Pray for wisdom – dig for gold
Can’t buy freedom by selling your soul

Recording contracts are designed to benefit the entity forking out the money to produce the works. So any wannabe artist needs to sell their soul for a shot at the brass ring.

You better watch out, you better look around
Cause what goes up is gonna come down
Everybody lives by the law of supply and demand

So true. Even the record labels live by the law of supply and demand. When people got fed up with the corrupted and very pricey supply chain, technology allowed mp3’s to be created. Suddenly music was everywhere.

Once you’ve set a course don’t change it
Luck will come to those who chase it
Don’t let anything get in your way

What a brilliant verse. Hell, the whole “Talent Code” book is based around the theory that you need to love what you do, to practice deep for a long time, so you can become an expert in your field.

Never Surrender
In the verses, it reminds me musically of Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love”. But at almost 7 minutes in length, it has a lot of musical movements and a groove that’s hypnotic.

How good are the lyrics in this?

Jivin’, hustiln’, what’s it all about?
Everybody always wants the east way out
Thirty golden pieces for the Judas kiss
What’s a nice boy doin’ in a place like this?

Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be famous. But is everyone willing to put the hard work in. Is everyone willing to be surrounded by people who will lie and deceive?

Today you found a hero tomorrow you’ll forget

This is so relevant in 2017. The speed at which we move on to new things is astonishing.

Never Surrender – we cannot be denied
Never Surrender – spread your wings and fly

To become an expert and have a chance of success, you need to be in it for the long run. The 10 years. The 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. There are no short cuts.

Writing On The Wall
It’s got that 80’s metal pedal point vibe, but in a major key instead of a minor key.

I am up here
Walking on a tight rope
But I never pause to think
That I could fall

Damn right, there is no safety net in life, especially in music.

I’ve got one short dance
On this planet
But I’ll carve my message deep into the wall

Long-time dead, short time alive. Don’t waste your days on what you can’t control.

Blackfoot – Siogo
The first time I heard Blackfoot was via a Spotify Discover playlist and it was the song “Send Me An Angel”.

Send Me An Angel
I can’t live with all this doubt

Are we good enough?

Is this song good enough?

Do I look good enough?

So many expectations we place on ourselves just to please others. And then we wonder, why so many doubt themselves. It’s even worse today with social media.

Teenage Idol
Standing in his hometown
Waiting for the bus that’ll take him
Farther than he’s ever been

I’ve shown them what a pretty life I’ve made
Even though I’ll miss you badly

It’s the ultimate sacrifice. A career in music vs loved ones you need to leave behind. As Jonathan Cain wrote in “Faithfully”, the road is no place to raise a family.

Alcatrazz – No Parole from Rock N’ Roll
When I was starting out in bands, one of the guitarists in the band was a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan. The drummer of the band was also a fan of Malmsteen and he had this album on LP, so I dubbed it on cassette from him. Home taping was spreading the music.

But the Alcatrazz story is much deeper than Malmsteen’s brief appearance. Like a lot of other bands in the 80’s it was a pseudo supergroup of musicians. You had a 20 year old guitar hero in Yngwie Malmsteen, a 30 year old experienced bassist in Gary Shea, a 33 year old experienced drummer in Jan Uvena, a 24 year old keyboardist in Jimmy Waldo and a 35 year old vocalist with major label experience in Graham Bonnet.

The story starts with bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo. After their band “New England” lost their singer, they moved out to L.A to work with a guitarist called Vinnie Vincent and a new band called Warrior. Vinnie Vincent at the time also had a deal in place to co-write songs for Kiss. ‘Boyz Gonna Rock” and “I Love It Loud” appeared on the first Warrior demo. On the strength of that demo and the songs that Vinnie had written, he was asked to join KISS. We all know how big “I Love It Loud” became.

And from the ashes of Warrior, the embryo of Alcatrazz was formed.

With a dodgy manager on board, who took royalties meant for the band into his own pocket, Alcatrazz was a go. Shea actually reckons Malmsteen lost a lot of money when he left due to the thievery of their manager.

Island In The Sun
It’s the opening track and a Malmsteen classic. Actual songwriters are listed as Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimmy Waldo and Graham Bonnet but there is no denying the Malmsteen sound.

In their nine by five rooms, became inspired
By the silence in sight of the city

Is it about prison or something else?

Jet To Jet
It’s a Malmsteen and Bonnet composition. It’s pretty safe to say that all the music is from Malmsteen and Bonnet wrote the lyrics.

How they stared as we made our exit
We’re white they’re all brown
Dr. Livingstone where are you when we need you the most
We’re white as ivory on the Ivory Coast

Is the song about the arrival of white men in Africa?

Is the “Jet To Jet” title referring to the colour black (as jet is a shade of black)?

Hiroshima Mon Amour
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition. Bonnet was inspired by the 1959 French film Hiroshima Mon Amour, (translation: “Hiroshima My Love”), which he had seen in school. The film recounts the Hiroshima bombing and tells of the human suffering in the aftermath.

“I was always horrified by what happened. And Hiroshima, my love, it was like, goddamn, you know, I didn’t want that to happen again. So I read up a little bit about it, and that’s how that came about. It was something I thought should never have happened. It was just a horrible thing. I couldn’t believe that the Americans would do this, or anybody would do that to anybody. It was sort of a protest song in a way.”
Graham Bonnet 

The fireball would dim the sun,
Promising death in its cruellest form

There is no good in war, but man, when you read about the fall out and the cancers still happening even today, you get to understand the gravity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima Mon Amour
As we beg to be forgiven do you spit
In our face and curse us all.

Incubus
A short Malmsteen instrumental that he would use in his solo career.

Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition.

Chemical kids lost in the street,
Looking for some kind of saviour
Perverted minds lead them like sheep
Into the slaughter they have to face

Chemicals once upon a time = alcohol. Today, chemicals on the streets mean so many different things.

There’s time to die but she just needs more time to live

A brilliant line. In the last six months I have attended 4 funerals. Two for people aged 40, one for a person in their 60’s and one for a person a few weeks short of their 80th birthday. 40 is way too young to die.

Years from now
Look how they change
They’re so mature and respected
Makes them laugh
They were such fools
So unaware of the real live world

Some made it to an older age so they could look back, others didn’t.

Steeler – Steeler
From interviews in Guitar mags, I knew that Yngwie Malmsteen was in the band Steeler. Also in the band was vocalist Ron Keel (from Keel) and former W.A.S.P. bassist Rik Fox. The band produced only one album.

The album was released September 25, 1983 but I didn’t hear it until very much later.

“Steeler was formed by in Nashville and fought our way to the top of the LA hard rock scene in the early 80’s – it’s a great story, and if you want to know all the details, I suggest you check out my official autobiography “Even Keel: Life On The Streets Of Rock & Roll,”. Success is a relative term – Steeler sold a couple hundred thousand albums, while my band KEEL has sold several million albums.”
Ron Keel 

It was Ron Keel and then guitarist Michael Dunigan who came out to L.A to scout gigs. Once they got a feel for the place, the whole band and crew came out. Eventually the original line up splintered because Ron Keel felt threatened by the level of musicianship on the L.A scene and he believed he needed to get better musicians.

Mike Varney, the owner of Shrapnel Records played Ron Keel a demo tape of Malmsteen and he was on a ship from Sweden to L.A. Rik Fox looked like a rock star and got the bassist gig. By making changes, Keel lost the camaraderie and chemistry within the band.

For Malmsteen, this was a four month stopover in his grand vision for greatness. The stop-over involved 9 shows, the recording session for the album and two song contributions in “No Way Out” and “Abduction”.

Cold Day In Hell
It’s listed as a Ron Keel song and it’s one hell of good rock song. More in vein with what Keel would sound like, but without a Malmsteen lead break.

Empty eyes of heartless friends
The night is mine again
Bitter streets of evil stares
No one listens, no one cares

The lead break from Malmsteen is a classic.

No Way Out
It’s written by Ron Keel, Mark Edwards and Yngwie Malmsteen and although the lyrics are hit and miss, it’s still a good listen.

Click the link to listen to 1983-Part6

1. Separate Ways (Words Apart) – Journey
2. A World Of Fantasy – Triumph
3. Send Me An Angel – Blackfoot
4. Island In The Sun – Alcatrazz
5. Stranded – Rainbow

6. Disturbing The Priest – Black Sabbath
7. Rising Power – AC/DC
8. A Minor Prelude/All The Way – Triumph
9. Faithfully – Journey
10. Jet To Jet – Alcatrazz

11. Flick Of The Switch – AC/DC
12. Never Surrender – Triumph
13. Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alcatrazz
14. No Way Out – Steeler
15. Writing On The Wall – Triumph

16. Cold Day In Hell – Steeler
17. Badlands – AC/DC
18. Ask The Lonely – Journey
19. Incubus / Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live – Alcatrazz
20. Zero The Hero – Black Sabbath

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

1983 – V – The Midnight Madness Script Is Built To Destroy While The Victims Of The Future Cry A Jesters Tear

Prior to MTV, we had radio in many different formats. Rock stations played rock, metal stations played metal late at night, top 40 played top 40 and so forth. But MTV played everything and suddenly a monoculture was created. Without warning, AOR was fighting with hard rock, glam rock, metal, hip hop, dance and every other format for people’s attention. And like all changes, some people win and some people lose.

The once trusted filter known as the Radio DJ was replaced by the MTV DJ. However in time, MTV became a PR machine with songs pre-programmed to suit those who paid the most. So we doubled down to the music magazines to be our filters and tell us what’s good.

For me it was;

  • Faces, Hit Parader and Circus up until 1988.
  • Guitar World from 1986 to current day.
  • Guitar For The Practicing Musician from 1987 to when it was absorbed by Guitar One and then until Guitar One was absorbed by Guitar World in the early 2000’s.
  • Metal Edge between 1989 to about 1998.
  • RIP for a few years around 1989 and 1990 and I think it also went bust.
  • Hot Metal (an Australian mag) from 1989 to when it ended and in the early 2000’s Metal Hammer became a filter.
  • Kerrang was another mag I purchased here and there.

But when the internet came and took our attention, changes happened again. Suddenly, our filters couldn’t be trusted anymore, because they had to compete with the noise. Instead of focusing on long form journalism, they focused on page visits and crappy articles.

So who do we trust in 2017?

Do we trust the playlists of the streaming service?

  • Spotify’s music playlists feel like they are based on which marketing team pays the most.
  • Who makes them?
  • Is it an algorithm or an actual person?

We live in an era where everyone wants to be a star however the creators of these playlists are unknown. If the streaming company wants us to trust these filters, shouldn’t we know who makes the lists?

Do we have any filters these days to believe in?

When I started writing what 1983 meant to me, I thought it would be easy as I had a lot of good music to write about. And that proved to be the problem. Here are parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Say hello to Part 5 and I still feel I am scratching the surface with this year. Maybe once I am done, I might go and do some stuff on the 60’s and 70’s music that made its way to my ears during the 80’s and 90’s. It would be much quicker than the 80’s.

Night Ranger – Midnight Madness
For some insane reason, “Midnight Madness” is not on Spotify. Actually, apart from “Dawn Patrol”, the whole commercially successful period of the band is not on Spotify.

Maybe some of those albums are close to an RIAA certification and they want to get there with sales, not streams. Maybe they are in dispute with the label over how they should be paid, like Def Leppard. Whatever the reason is, the legitimate paying fans get ripped off again, while the whole Night Ranger discography is on YouTube and pirate sites for free. It’s a typical recording industry story. The enemy is the service (Spotify) and the public. The majority of music consumers don’t want to own music. Access is king. Hell, people don’t even want to own their homes anymore. Once upon a time, a person who owned their home, ruled. Then the banks lost billions, the economies plummeted, people lost their job and suddenly people’s homes were taken away. And the ones that still own homes have their kids, who are approaching their 30’s, still living with them.

By 1983, Night Ranger went from an opening act to a headlining act with the release of their second album “Midnight Madness” album. And everyone was thinking how the hell did that happen?

He (Michaelangelo) was a promising but little-known artist until he produced the “Pieta” at age twenty-four. People called the “Pieta” pure genius, but its creator begged to differ. “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery,” Michelangelo later said, “it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
Dan Coyle – The Talent Code

The road is long and heavy in music. Age and experience count. The musical roots of each member goes back to the mid/late 60’s. Jack Blades along with Brad Gillis experienced fame in America with funk rockers Rubicon in 1978, however by 1979, Rubicon was no more. They had to start again. Lucky for them, Kelly Keagy was Rubicon’s touring drummer and the band Stereo was formed.

But Stereo ceased to be when a roommate of Blades called Alan Fitzgerald (bassist for Montrose and keyboardist for Sammy Hagar) suggested they form a rock band. Alan also knew a virtuoso guitarist called Jeff Watson from Sacramento. The band Ranger was formed in 1980; a supergroup of lifers, committed to be musicians.

“Dawn Patrol” came out in 1982, and it got some traction with the single “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”. As the future looked bright, their record label Boardwalk went under. In the space of half a year, Night Ranger had released their debut album, got traction and then suddenly, they had no record deal.

However, Night Ranger had a believer in former Boardwalk vice-president Bruce Bird, who organised a deal with Irving Azoff to sign the group to MCA. Azoff at the time became chairman of MCA, a position he held until 1989. In the process, Azoff turned the label around. Those MCA losses became profits and Azoff’s skills at finding talent and pairing the talent with other talent to make hit records became the stuff of legend. Night Ranger would be the first signing to Bird’s new imprint under MCA, Camel Records Inc.

“Midnight Madness” came out in 1983. Think about the ages of the guys in the band. Jack Blades is 29, Brad Gillis is 26, Jeff Watson is 27, Kelly Keagy is 31 and Alan Fitzgerald is 34. The overnight success came in the form of the members paying their dues in other bands since the start of the Seventies. They had the experience and the 10,000 hours and in 1983, luck came in the form of music television. MTV would turn club acts into arena acts instantly on the back of a song, and “Sister Christian” along with “(You Can Still) Rock In America” became the songs that launched Night Ranger.

(You Can Still) Rock in America
The album kicks off with this Jack Blades and Brad Gillis composition about going out, having a good time and rocking it all night long. It was Jack Blades response to all of the magazines of the time, stating “Rock Is Dead”.

“I was just sitting around in my hotel room in Springfield, Illinois, in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s house, and we were on tour with Sammy Hagar. We were on tour behind our first album, doing the Dawn Patrol tour, and we were with Sammy, he was out playing his Three Lock Box tour, so it was ’83. We were sitting in this bad little Travelodge, that motel that has that sleeping bear with the sleeping hat on top of it. And we had a day or two off, and I went and bought a bunch of rock magazines. And at that time all these magazines were saying, “Rock is dead.” Because we were still coming out of the Cars, and Blondie, and A Flock of Seagulls, and Haircut 100, and Boy George, and all this kind of stuff. And all these magazines were saying that basically rock and roll as we know it – Deep Purple, all that kind of stuff – was dead, and all this new music was coming out. At least that’s what they were trying to jam down everybody’s throat to convince everybody that this is the music you should listen to; the Thompson Twins, the Cure, everything that wasn’t like real rock and roll. But everywhere we were playing with Hagar, it was thousands of people out there and everybody was just rocking and rolling and screaming, and we were just jamming. And I’m like, Man, I don’t get this. Everybody’s saying rock is dead, but as far as I’m concerned, you can still rock in America.”
JACK BLADES 

How do you follow-up this song?

You don’t.

You change tact and go into the melodic AOR Rock format, popularised by Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx.

Two Jack Blades compositions come next in “Rumours in the Air” and “Why Does Love Have to Change”.

Rumours In The Air
It starts off quietly as the volume swell lick that reminds me of “Cathedral” from Van Halen builds in volume. But it’s the keyboard groove that hooks me in.

Used to call me
By my first name
Now you never even call me at all
Used to say
I was your only flame
It was so simple
I believed it all

We are screwed. Relationships are tough to get and tough to keep going once the initial spark/lust factor dies away.

Now I hear
You’ve got a new friend and lover
Who keeps you warm
On the cool cool nights
There’s a rumor in the air
Don’t seem right

In 2017, there’s a text out there that don’t seem right.

And how good is the keyboard lick after the 1st chorus.

Why Does Love Have to Change

Why does love have to change (x3)

I always dug simple chorus lines.

The old place
Don’t seem the same anymore
Yesterday’s dreams
Lie discarded on the bedroom floor

I understand that the song uses the word “love” in a relationship setting however I didn’t. I connected love with passion. Like a love to be a professional footballer, or a professional musician. And as we grow older, life events get in the way, and we are asking, “why does our love of music have to change?”

Sister Christian
It’s the closer to side 1. The single. The tour-de-force. This is the era of the LP, when sequencing mattered. And for Night Ranger, it was a perfect four punch combination knockout.

This song was not a favourite of mine when it came out, and I’m still not a fan of it because the lyrics fail to connect with me, however I understand it’s place in hard rock and MTV history while the song went on to become the high school prom graduation song that year for millions of U.S kids.

The song is composed by Kelly Keagy about his sister Christy. A demo was recorded for “Dawn Patrol” but it wasn’t used.

Side 2 opens up with two more Jack Blades compositions in “Touch of Madness” and “Passion Play”.

Touch Of Madness
She say’s
“I get high when I want to
Don’t ya think you need it too”
I need a touch, I need a touch of madness

All of the religious leaders in the 80’s got it right, that the youth of the world had been seduced by the devil’s music. We liked to experiment and Mister Juana was a favourite.

When You Close Your Eyes
The big ballad written by Jack Blades, Alan Fitzgerald and Brad Gillis is next.

“I remember we were doing the Midnight Madness album. Kelly had written “Sister Christian” before, but we hadn’t put that on our first album for some reason or another, I don’t know why. So we were doing the second album, we had a bunch of songs done, and I was sitting in the back room of the recording studio, Image Recording, and I started playing this chorus on the piano…I started singing, “When you close your eyes, do you dream about me?” So I showed it to our keyboard player, Fitz (Alan Fitzgerald), and he started banging around with some stuff. And I showed it to Brad (Gillis), and we kind of worked it up with the band, but we didn’t have the lyrics. We recorded the music, and then we didn’t have the lyrics for, I think, several songs. And we were in Hollywood and there was a lot of distractions going on when we were cutting the record; the guys from Motley Crüe were down all the time at our studio, and we were always up at the Rainbow, and always running around. There was a lot going on, a lot of partying, everything like that. So I got on a plane and flew to my parents’ house in Scottsdale, Arizona. I flew there late Thursday evening, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday I just sat around a pool. It was beautiful sunny days, and I sat around a pool where I could just focus with nobody around me, and no chatter going on, no parties. And I ended up writing, finishing up the lyrics to 3 songs, one of which was “When You Close Your Eyes.”
JACK BLADES

Chippin’ Away
Written by Jack Blades and Brad Gillis.

Chipping away
At my heart every day
You got me
Hanging by my window

Musically and melodically it’s catchy, but lyrically it made no connection.

Let Him Run
The album closer, written by Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Jeff Watson.

Strap on your safety belt
Blazing in the sky
Thinking of nothing
No disguise

The end of Night Ranger happened with the success of “Midnight Madness.” Suddenly, the band was on the radar of the record label who wanted another “Midnight Madness” so they could capitalise on the cash. It came in “7 Wishes”, a carbon copy of the breakthrough album. Then Bon Jovi blew up the airwaves with “Slippery When Wet” and suddenly the labels wanted Night Ranger to write their own “Slippery When Wet” and to look like Bon Jovi in the process. Two years later, Jack Blades was in a new supergroup with Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent called Damn Yankees and a stripped down sound and look, while Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis released forgettable shred albums.

Gary Moore – Victims Of The Future
On 6 February 2017, it will be 6 years since Gary Moore passed away.

“My favourite of those is Wild Frontier because it was made just after Phil [Lynott] died. I was thinking about him a lot at the time, hence its Celtic influences. It’s a reflective record, whereas this [picks up Victims Of The Future] is just one of my feeble attempts at heavy rock.”
GARY MOORE

Feeble or not, “Victims Of The Future” is a pretty good heavy rock record.

In the 80’s I never owned any LP’s from Gary Moore, however I did own a few 7 inch singles like “Friday On My Mind”, “After The War” and “Ready For Love”. I also owned a few 12 inch singles (does anyone remember the 12 inch) of “Wild Frontier”, “Out In The Fields” and “Over The Hills And Far Away”. I picked this album up on LP via a second-hand music shop in the 90’s and it was an interview with guitarist Al Pitrelli in 1992 that got me interested.

You see, back in 1992, Al was in Widowmaker. For those that don’t know, Widowmaker was Dee Snider’s second attempt to kick-start his post – Twisted Sister music career. So of course, “Blood and Bullets” hits the streets and the obligatory press and interviews follow. At that time I purchased an issue of “Guitarist” and Al spoke a lot about Phyrgian mode scales in the interview. He referenced Gary Moore a lot and his emotive lead in “Empty Rooms”.

So it was a no-brainer when I saw the album for $2 and the supergroup of musicians recording it. Apart from Gary Moore, you had, Ian Paice (Deep Purple) on drums, Neil Carter (UFO) on keyboards, Neil Murray, Mo Foster and Bob Daisley all contributing bass parts.

The problem with the album to me was the marketing.

The labels in 1983 still had no idea how to market metal/rock acts. Virgin in this case decided the singles to be released as; “Hold on to Love”, “Shapes of Things To Come” (a cover), “Teenage Idol” and “Empty Rooms”. But to me, it should have been the darker political songs, “Victims Of The Future” and “Murder In The Skies” along with “Empty Rooms” as the singles.

But in the end, Gary Moore’s success came because he switched labels. He started off with MCA for “Back On The Streets” and changed to Virgin for “Corridors Of Power” and he remained on Virgin until 1997. He started to have hits because he was allowed to experiment. Virgin Records was originally known in the 70’s for signing progressive rock bands and by the late Seventies/Early 80’s, they had punk rock bands and new wave bands. It was only a matter of time before they started to accumulate hard rock and metal bands and gave them the freedom to do what they please.

And “Victims Of The Future” gave Gary Moore traction but no certifications. They came with the next album “Run For Cover” and continued well into the late 90’s.

Victims of the Future
It’s a brilliant song written by Moore, Neil Carter, Ian Paice and Neil Murray.

Searching each day for the answers
Watching our hopes disappear
Set on a course for disaster
Living our lives in fear
Our leaders leave us in confusion
For them there’s only one solution

Caught in the fight for survival
Trapped with our backs to the wall
Are we just lambs to the slaughter?
Who wait for the axe to fall?
Our world is headed for destruction
Our fate is in the hands of fools

I gotta confess that I plagiarized/stole the whole first two verses for my major art project as it was based on “War”. It was a mixed media project that involved me making a miniature coffin and on top of the coffin, I had the two verses written there, sort of like an Eulogy. Inside the coffin, I had drawings of all things war. Of course, Rattlehead and Eddie made appearances in there as well. Quick call the lawyers.

Shadows of the past,
Victims of the future
How long will it last?
Victims of the future

You would think our leaders would learn from their mistakes or the mistakes from the past, but no, they don’t. It’s just further proof that serial killers go into politics.

Into the verbal arena,
Armed with the lies that they tell
They’re fighting for world domination
Backed by the weapons of hell
Is there no end to all this madness?
Is there no hope for us at all?

Nothing has changed in 30 plus years and nothing will change in 30 plus years, like nothing has changed the last 3000 plus years.

Teenage Idol
It’s written by Moore and lyrically, it’s one of those typical early 80’s anthems, so no surprise that the label decided to release the song as a single.

Never did much good when he went to school
Too many teachers, there were too many rules

Oh yes, those stupid rules from the 60’s, just didn’t gel with the youth growing up in the 80’s.

But when he heard that guitar on the radio,
He knew one day he was gonna be a teenage idol.

MTV replaced the radio and made artists into global stars.

He dumped his chick and he sold his car.
He bought himself a hot guitar.
He joined a band and they cut some tracks.
He hit the road and he’s never looked back, oh no.

And to be honest, that’s how it was once upon a time. Today, they join a band, cut some tracks, build up a social presence so when they play a one-off show, a big crowd is in attendance.

Empty Rooms
It’s written by Moore and Carter and the second song on the album to be over 6 minutes long. This was the song that Al Pitrelli mentioned and man, he was right. The track is lyrical, melodic, it has movements and that lead break from Gary Moore is brilliant, full of emotion and feel. I guess Al Pitrelli was right.

Loneliness is your only friend
A broken heart that just won’t mend is the price you pay.
It’s hard to take when love grows old,
The days are long and the nights turn cold when it fades away.

We spend our lives searching for it, then spend our days working on it and hopefully it will remain forever. But when love takes a walk and never comes back, then those days are long and the nights are cold.

You hope that she will change her mind
But the days drift on and on
You’ll never know the reason why – she’s gone.

Sometimes people just grow out of love. Sometimes their views are years apart from each other. What she wants/desires now, he doesn’t, but probably will in a few years’ time. And when it breaks down and one side walks away without a real good reason, questions are asked as to why.

Empty rooms – where we learn to live without love

So true.

Over at the SongFacts website, co-writer Neil Carter mentions how the scratch vocal track was originally laid down by Glenn Hughes. I wouldn’t mind hearing that demo.

Murder in the Skies
Another song written by Moore and Carter. It’s the opening track of Side 2 on the LP and it’s the third song on the album to be over 6 minutes long.

It’s about those bloody Russian’s shooting down passenger planes. latter being a protest against the Soviet Union’s shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.

Does history repeat?

Of course it does. In 2014, they shot down a Malaysian Airplane.

The Russians have shot down a plane on its way to Korea.
Two hundred and sixty-nine innocent victims have died

Murder in the skies came without a warning
Murder in the skies, black September morning

Time was running out for everyone,
Flying over the Sea of Japan
None would live to see the rising sun,
Death was following close at hand

It’s a newspaper story. It’s not a single, it’s not a hit, it’s an album cut, back in the day, when artists still experimented with different lyrics.

MSG – Built To Destroy
We all knew who Michael Schenker was from his time in UFO and Scorpions, but none of us could name his MSG tunes correctly because we didn’t own his albums. He wasn’t on MTV and there was no Spotify, no YouTube, no BitTorrent, no internet where we could go and look up his MSG output. Radio in Australia never played MSG. So basically if you didn’t own his albums or know someone who did, it’s like he didn’t even exist.

But he was all over the guitar magazines. Weird that. That’s how I came across him. I am still undecided if his coverage was based on his past glories with UFO or was it due to the emergence of shredders in the Eighties who credited Michael Schenker as an influence.

The first MSG album came out in 1980 and it stiffs in the major U.S market. Japan however was another story for Schenker where his popularity remained high on the back of his Scorpions and UFO contributions.

The second album came out in 1981 and it did nothing as well. Something had to change. Someone had to be blamed. So original singer Gary Barden was fired in 1982 and Graham Bonnet fresh from his stint in Rainbow was hired. Album number 3 came out the same year (along with the Live at The Budokan album) and again, it did nothing. Bonnet was fired and Barden was back in for the tour. And here we are at album number 4. And although it has some great moments, commercially, it didn’t do great numbers. Maybe the problem lay with the lyrical content. Gary Barden went from a broken-hearted singer to a social conscience singer and then to a rock and roll preacher.

Rock My Nights Away

Far from home
Who’s gonna rock my nights away!

Is it about groupies?

I’m Gonna Make You Mine

You said you’d come back again
I never knew exactly when

Is it about the groupie who said she has to get some fresh air and ends up in someone else’s bed or is it about the girlfriend he left behind to go on tour and screw groupies. In case people are not aware, it’s my poor attempt at sarcasm here.

The Dogs Of War

To buy someone’s freedom’ who pays?

A brilliant lyric and so relevant even today. Democracy means that there are winners and losers after each election.

Red Sky

Laughing in the face of destruction
With nowhere to go

In the 80’s, the nuclear bomb scared us, today bio-terrorism scares us.

Rock Will Never Die (Walk The Stage)

So come walk the stage with me tonight
Rock will never die

Marillion – Script For A Jester’s Tear
I had no idea about Marillion until Dream Theater came out with “Images and Words” and Mike Portnoy was interviewed. He spoke so highly of the band, it got me interested. So it was the early Nineties and off I went to the second-hand record shop, where I picked up “Script For A Jester’s Tear”. I actually had my eye on it for a while, because of its cover, but never laid out the $2 to purchase it as there was so much other 80’s music that I needed to have.

The cover, based on idea from lead vocalist Fish and created by Mark Wilkinson, introduced “The Jester” and it is actually a brilliant piece of art.

“It was a struggle to get noticed. We weren’t fashionable. I discovered a long time ago that ‘fashionable’ is for short people. But there was a real arrogance about us: ‘We’re gonna make it.’”
FISH – Marillion

I was literally blown away by the moods and how they made songs that didn’t really have a VERSE – CHORUS structure into a cohesive statement of emotions and melodies.

Script For A Jester’s Tear
It’s the middle section of the song that gets me, from about 2 minutes to the 4 minute mark. It has a cool verse section, with a really good lead break and it segues back to the same verse section before the lead. The mood in the section always nails it for me.

So here I am once more in the playground of the broken hearts
One more experience, one more entry in a diary, self-penned
Yet another emotional suicide overdosed on sentiment and pride
Too late to say I love you, too late to re-stage the play
Abandoning the relics in my playground of yesterday

I’m losing on the swings, I’m losing on the roundabouts

Seriously, how good are the lyrics, the imagery, the metaphors.

I never did write that love song, the words just never seemed to flow

Lead singer, Fish had decided that Marillion would become his first love, so it was no surprise his love life suffered.

He Knows You Know
Listening to Marillion is an experience, because they didn’t sound quite the same like other bands and you can hear them testing limits with their song structures, lyrics and vocal phrasing.

What a hallucinating guitar riff to kick off a song about drug use and the views of the older generation of the time towards drug users.

Light switch, yellow fever, crawling up your bathroom wall
Singing psychedelic praises to the depths of a china bowl
You’ve got venom in your stomach, you’ve got poison in your head

And when that Rush inspired synth lead comes in at 2.30, the mood alters again. It’s simple, moody progressive rock, a style that Dream Theater used to great extent for Images and Words.

Chelsea Monday
The keyboard riff sets the mood on a song about fame or dreaming of fame.

Patience my tinsel angel
Patience my perfumed child
One day they really love you
You’ll charm them with that smile
But for now it’s just another Chelsea Monday

And then the solo kicks in and it’s Dave Gilmour-esque. The lead guitar notes and phrasing from 3.25 to 3.38 is brilliant.

Thanks for reading.

I guess Part 6 of 1983 will be coming up soon.

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

1983 – Episode IV: Drastic Measures As The WASP Heading Out For A Storm Kills Em All

As more people got disillusioned with their institutions, the more heavy metal grew. A small niche was starting to reign. The middle working class, suddenly had an outlet. Artists wrote lyrics about what they felt and it connected with the youth of the 80’s.

But these artists didn’t just come out of nowhere. These artists had a certain confidence and perseverance. Most people gave up instead of staying the course.

But the bigger secret to metals breakthrough as a commercial force was MASS. The fans supported metal. Bands classed as thrash metal, speed metal, power metal, heavy metal, hard rock, heavy rock, glam rock, glam metal, etc…these days could all be found in the Metal section of a record store back in the 80’s. Bon Jovi next to Black Sabbath. Motley Crue next to Metallica and Megadeth. Van Halen next to Venom. Twisted Sister next to Thin Lizzy, Tygers of Pan Tang. It was all metal.

The fans remained together and united even though it was for a few short years, like 1982 to 1986. Sort of like how Facebook grew as the ONE dominant player. Apple tried to compete and failed. Ping and Connect are a distant memory. MySpace disappeared like new wave music disappeared when metal started to grow.

Since Facebook’s rise, (like Metal’s rise) other products (like different genres created by record label marketing reps) have come out. Instagram, Snapchat, Musicly, Tumblr and Twitter just to name a few. Suddenly, Facebook’s membership starts to slow down dramatically. People stop visiting the site and people start closing accounts. Fragmentation has occurred.

You see the public wants to belong, have something to talk about. Facebook provided that and to the youth of the 80’s, metal music provided that same outlet.

Pre 90’s era, on average, five thousand albums were released a year. Just getting a record deal was a near-impossibility. A lot of artists couldn’t even compete and the ones that did knew they had to deliver something special.

For those that missed Episodes 1, 2 and 3, just click on the numbers for a recap.

WASP – WASP
It’s a triple knock out combination in “Animal”, “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “Love Machine”. There is a saying that you have your whole lifetime to write your first album and only three months for your next, if you get a chance. Blackie wasn’t saving any songs for the next album. He went all out on the first.

“Animal”
Blackie doesn’t perform this song anymore as it clashes with his current faith, but back in the 80’s it was a different story.

I’m the wolf with the sheepskins clothing
I lick my chops and you’re tasting good

Blackie doesn’t mind living it up while he’s going down.

“I Wanna Be Somebody”

I wanna be somebody
Be somebody too

Yep, we all wanted to be somebody and MTV made us all believe that we could become global superstars in the same way that the internet has made us all DIY musicians, bloggers, film creators, novelists, etc. But showing up to work doesn’t mean I get a pay increase. Same deal with music. Just because you create something, it doesn’t mean people will pay attention and untold riches would fall before you.

You don’t want no nine to five
Your fingers to the bone

But we still put in the hours. I came across a marketing campaign called “Real estate tips from the terminally ill”. In a nutshell, the terminally ill wished that they didn’t skip spending time with their family in order to work longer hours to pay off their mortgage. Once you are in debt, the only way out is to work hard and pay it off, or to sell.

Persistence is the key to being somebody. You believe it doesn’t matter, but it does. Because sometimes in life, you feel like the wind is at your back, your sails are up and you are achieving what you want. But good karma doesn’t hang around forever and that golden sunset you are sailing to proves to have some issues. And suddenly, you have your back against the wall, the wind is against you and all of those opportunities have ceased and your momentum to the top has halted.

It’s in these moments that those who want to be somebody keep on rising and all the wannabe’s become train wrecks, chucking tantrums and blaming others for their failures.

“Love Machine”
L.O.V.E All I need’s my love machine
L.O.V.E All I need’s my love machine tonight, tonight

This was my first introduction to W.A.S.P. as the film clip was doing the rounds on music television. They looked like Mad Max Horror Movie Rejects. The 12/8 triplet drumming pattern over a simple power chord riff is what makes this song unique musically and the L, O, V, E chant in the Chorus is iconic.

“School Daze”
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American.
And to the republic for which it stands. One nation under god, indivisible… with liberty and justice for all!”

It gets your attention right away.

A text-book mad-house, twelve years
I’m here in a rage
A juveniles jail and I’m here locked up in their cage

It’s how we saw school, not really knowing that you have some of your best years in school and that after we leave school, we keep on learning new things every day.

School Daze, school daze, I’m here doin’ time
School daze, school daze, my age is my crime

Today we have access to all of the information we want and with that access, we are constantly researching and learning. But we couldn’t do what we do know back in the 80’s. Access was restricted and we didn’t want to be a cog in the education degree factory machine however many of us ended up becoming cogs in the workforce. Some of us got to make decisions while a lot of us had to follow decisions.

A blackboard jungle toed the line the rulers made

School is a foundation but it’s not everything. The truth is we never stop learning. What makes us unique is the lifelong informal education we undertake.

Hellion
I am assuming “Love Machine” came first, so I will call “Hellion” a derivative version of L.O.V.E.

Wild child, you’re sweatin’ and you’re stoned

Just add drunk to it as well.

“Sleeping (In The Fire)”
There was always something about WASP and ballads that just worked brilliantly. Not sure if it’s Blackie’s vocal tone or the fact that he just writes excellent ballads that are not clichéd.

Taste the love
The lucifer’s magic that makes you numb
The passion and all the pain are one
You’re sleeping in the fire

It’s a simple Dm to B flat to C to Dm progression.

What does it all mean?

Who cares? Bad boy Lucifer gets a mention and for 1983 that was enough to get people into a panic.

Metallica – Kill Em All
At the time of its release “Kill Em All” didn’t set the world on fire. And because Metallica are still a force to be reckoned with in 2016, the history around the “Kill Em All” album is being rewritten, but the truth is much different.

The lifespan of “Kill Em All” was short. It came out on July 25, 1983 and by February 1984, seven months after it was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording “Ride The Lightning”. The victory lap for the debut album was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to continue with their music career, they needed to get back into the studio and record a new album.

Of course when the 1991 Black album exploded, new fans started to dig deep and purchase the bands older material. It is for this reason that “Kill Em All” started to get RIAA certifications. It finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999.

“Kill Em All” is a product of its time and its era. Heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a commercial force to be reckoned with, so by 1983 standards, “Kill Em All” was up against some hard competition for people’s attention.

Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Def Leppard had break through albums with “Shout At The Devil”, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” and “Pyromania”. Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Dio had brand new bands. “Bark At The Moon” showcases Jake E.Lee, “Lick It Up” showcases Vinnie Vincent and “Holy Diver” showcases Vivian Campbell. ZZ Top hit the mainstream with “Eliminator”. Iron Maiden followed up the breakthrough success of their 1982 album, “The Number of The Beast” with “Piece of Mind”. Quiet Riot had a number one album on the back of the Randy Rhoads back story and a cover of Slade’s “Cum on Feel The Noize”. Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called “Screaming For Vengeance”.

When I first got my hands on the album, “Jump In The Fire”, “The Four Horsemen”, “Phantom Lord” and “Seek And Destroy” had me hooked. Those four songs got constant rotation and if I was making mix tapes, those four songs would always end up scattered through the list.

In time, I have appreciated what the other tracks bring to the mix.

“Hit The Lights”
The song that started it all for Metallica. It’s full of speed and youthful exuberance.

No life till leather, we’re gonna kick some ass tonight
We got the metal madness when our fans start screaming,

It was a cult like following that sustained Metallica and gave the band life.

When we start to rock, we never want to stop again
Hit the lights

Being classified as a thrash metal band never sat well with Metallica. To them it was just rock and metal. To be classed as a thrash band was anathema, as it meant they had to conform to a certain style and tempo.

We know our fans are insane, we’re gonna blow this place away
With volume higher than anything today, the only way

It wasn’t just volume. It was energy, youthful abandonment and a nervous tempo that made the songs faster. For the metal fans, all we had was each other. And it was enough. We knew it and we worked with what we had.

“The Four Horsemen”
An embryo of what Metallica would become with each album release up to the “Black” album.

You have been dying since the day you were born
You know it’s all been planned

It might be a throwaway lyric but to me this is James Hetfield of “The Unforgiven” fame and the lyrics;

“New blood joins this earth and quickly he’s subdued, through constant pained disgrace, the young boy learns the rules”.

Did anyone pick up on the very heavily influenced “Sweet Home Alabama” section from the 3.27 mark?

“Motorbreath”
Motorbreath, it’s how I live my life
I can’t take it any other way
Motorbreath, the sign of living fast
It is going to take your breath away

When I saw James speeding away from the studio in the “Some Kind Of Monster” movie, this song instantly came to mind.

Those people who tell you not to take chances
They are all missing on what life is about
You only live once, so take hold of the chance
Don’t end up like others, the same song and dance

And there is the mantra of the rebellious youth.

To a lot of people in 2016, it would be hard for them to believe that “Kill Em All” was a DIY/Indie release. Metallica was indie before indie was cool. Hell, those 4 lines might sound clichéd, but when you look at the young Metallica and their work ethic, you start to see some truth in those words.

We take chances on what we don’t know. So if we start to change what we do know and believe, it’s one step forward to starting to change our behaviours. That’s the challenge, to find our way, to keep on going and pursue the dream, even when no one cares.

“Jump In The Fire”
This song, along with “Seek And Destroy” became the first two songs that I gravitated too on the album.

Follow me now my child, not the meek or the mild but do just as I say

So come on… Jump In the Fire.

“Whiplash”
A song designed to break your neck.

Adrenalin starts to flow
You’re thrashing all around
Acting like a maniac
Whiplash!

It was all about making music just to go on the road, via the tour bus or to fly in economy class. Then when MTV made artists global superstars, it became about the royalty statement and flying private. Because if the label heads could do it, then why couldn’t the artists.

Bang your head against the stage like you never did before
Make it ring, make it bleed, make it really sore

And millions did do exactly that. It was all about that hour to two at the show. That’s what the artists lived for and that’s what the fans lived for.

But we’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, ’cause we’re Metallica

And in 2016, they are still here, cause they are METALLICA.

“Phantom Lord”
This song is Dave Mustaine’s baby as so many of the riffs here appear in Megadeth songs.

Hear the cry of war, louder than before
With his sword in hand to control the land
Crushing metal strikes on this frightening night
Fall onto your knees for the phantom lord

You can just imagine the metal lord with a metal sword, bringing metal to the masses. There is just so much metal in “Kill Em All”, it makes Spinal Tap sound like a weak rock band.

The leather armies have prevailed
The phantom lord has never failed
Smoke is lifting from the ground
The rising volume metal sound

From 1983 to 1992, the leather armies ruled.

“Seek And Destroy”
I remember learning how to play the riffs to the song and I normally did my own thing during the lead break. This song and “Jump In The Fire” are the only two songs from the debut album that made it onto a Metallica mixtape I had happening around 87, just before “Justice” came out.

Scannin’ the scene in the city tonight
Lookin’ for you to start-up a fight
There’s an evil feeling in our brains
But it is nothing new, you know it drives us insane

People were scared of dudes with long hair and black clothes once upon a time. Now it’s the norm.

Searchin’, seek and destroy

The call to arms.

“Metal Militia”
We are as one as we all are the same
Fighting for one cause
Leather and metal are our uniforms
Protecting what we are
Joining together to take on the world
With our heavy metal
Spreading the message to everyone here
Come let yourself go

Again, just so much metal on the album, however for anyone that didn’t live through the 80’s the message is the same. It was “us versus them” mentality.

Kansas – Drastic Measures
This version of Kansas is very far removed from the early Kansas. After commercial success with “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind”, it’s expected that the band would be pressured to write more “hits”. But what the labels failed to understand is bands never sit down to write hits. They sit down to write songs.

“Drastic Measures” is the ninth studio album and the one that would see the great Kerry Livgren leave Kansas. He only submitted three tracks for the album and held back a lot of his songs for his next project post Kansas. The album was John Elefante’s attempt to stamp his mark on Kansas and his compositions dominate the album.

The album was produced by Neil Kernon along with Kansas.

“Fight Fire With Fire”
Man, that opening riff is a groove stomper. It sounds familiar, but I can’t put a name to the influence. It’s written by John Elefante and his brother Dino Elefante.

There’s a hole in the wall
With a light shining in
And it’s letting me know to get up
It’s time to begin

A new day has begun. It’s time to get up and live it.

Oh there is nothing to lose
‘Cause it’s already lost
In a runaway world of confusion
I’m gonna take it

The day you are spending at work, the song that you are creating in your spare time, the discussions you are having with friends and peers, are they just actions to get you through the day or are they the actions you will be remembered by. And when we have nothing left to lose, our actions become greater.

“Everybody’s My Friend”
Another track written by the Elefante brothers about an unknown getting a recording contract.

Someone calls out my name
They ask me how I’ve been
So what’s it like in the big time?
Will you be my friend?

Suddenly people you have never known come out and pretend to be your friend.

“Across the board, from the bottom to the top, the music industry is built on people pretending to be bigger than they are.”
Zoe Keating

Have you met Mick Jagger?
Ringo, George or Paul?
Do you have my number?
Will you give me a call?

People want to attach themselves to famous people and people who are famous are lying to themselves and to their fans, believing they have friends when really, if it all goes away, they will have no one.

They all want to know
Do you make a lot of money?
They all want to know
Will you change your name?
They all want to know
What’s it like to be a rock star?
Everybody wants to know if they can hang around

As far as the fans of music were concerned, if an artist had a record deal, they had money. But that wasn’t the case. It was all a mirage. The image of fame put out there by MTV and the record label PR machines, made us believe, sort of like how Facebook likes makes you believe you have a lot of people who enjoy your product. Then why is your bank account so low.

Everybody wants to have a little piece of the action
Everybody wants to get into the show
Everybody falls in love with the main attraction
Everybody wants to know if they can hang around

Jodi Mitchell described the recording business in the “FREE MAN IN PARIS” with the following lyrics.

“There’s a lot of people asking for my time
They’re trying to get ahead
They’re trying to be a good friend of mine”

People like that are spread in all walks of life. Our social media lives are riddled with networking shenanigans. We have to have a lot of friends and a lot of likes and a lot of comments. And for some reason if we don’t we are losers.

“Mainstream”
Kerry Livgren is on hand to give the album some of that old Kansas spirit.

It’s so predictable and everybody judges by the numbers that you’re selling
Just crank ’em out on the assembly line and chart ’em higher (higher, higher)
Just keep it simple boys it’s gonna be alright as long as you’re inside the

There’s money in music, if you’ve got fans. But the record label heads believed they knew more and they’d get what they wanted by dangling dollars in front of the artists. This a version of Kansas looking to restore its sales success from the late 70’s. But the casual fans moved on and the hard-core fans who purchased the album and listened to it, didn’t know what to think of it. To me, the album is a testament to the effect mainstream success had on the band.

The market is dead, accounts in the red
Media saturation
We’re deep in a rut, the arteries cut
Sensory deprivation
Really loved it, didn’t earn a cent
No one’s buying your experiment

We live in a world of listens, which is a way overdue metric in music. To gauge a band’s success on sales was always wrong. If sales was the be all, end all, then there wouldn’t have been a second-hand market for unwanted albums. But there was a second-hand market and it was big business.

“Don’t Take Your Love Away”
It sounds like a “Peter Cetera” song in the Verses and then it moves into “The Police” territory, think of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” released in 1980 in the Chorus. It’s also another song written by the Elefante brothers. The move to AOR is complete.

You can take away the money
Take away the flame
Take away the things that I possess

You can take all my dreams away
The things that I need to survive
You can have it all

Sometimes all that matters are the simple things, like having someone be there for you each night.

The years are passing by me
Like a fast train that’s here and gone
It’s gone
Where they go, I just don’t know

Time is our greatest enemy. It stops for no one and it’s the one thing humans cannot control.

“Incident On A Bridge”
Musically, it’s got a “Cold As Ice” vibe in the intro and it’s one of the songs written by Kerry Livgren.

The world has a lot to give, but it’s worthless if you don’t live
And life only comes from the one who made it
When I look back and see the plan, when I retrace the race we ran
The course was so clear and true, each bridge that we crossed led me straight to you

What is living these days?

Life was different in the 80’s. it was more about personal fulfilment. Then Reagan’s U.S policies worked their way into Australia and suddenly it was all about remuneration. I could see it with my fathers’ peers. While we remained in our single storey house, the rest of them played keeping up with the Jones’s and six bedroom houses for a family of four became the norm.

“End of the Age”
The third and final Livgren penned track on the album.

The clock winds down and the bells will toll
For the dawn that follows may require your soul

The lyrics would work brilliant on a Metallica album.

When the mountains fall and the heavens roar
Then the reign of man will end forevermore
And the fools who believed in their empty ways
Will be witness to a world that’s set ablaze

The four horseman of the apocalypse are here.

Vandenberg – Heading For A Storm
This is the band Adrian Vandenberg stayed loyal to, when Dave Coverdale approached him to join Whitesnake in 1984. It was the same band that sued him and stopped him from using the Vandenberg name, hence the reason why his newest project is called Vandberg’s Moonkings

“Friday Night”
It’s got that “Dancing The Night Away” from Van Halen vibe.

During the week I’m only half alive, wasting my time all day from 9 to 5
They think I’m slow and I’m a lazy guy

I’m not sure the generation of today looks forward to Friday nights as much as we did. A lot of kids these days have weekend jobs and they would need to be at work on Saturday. So why would they go out on a Friday night.

But it never was like that.

Friday’s okay, I get my pay, spending all night on rock, women and wine

The lead break again is well thought out, well planned and perfectly executed.

“Time Will Tell”
Pedal point riffs merged with the AC/DC style of power chords merged with Def Leppard pop sensibilities. A great mix.

You read in the papers that it’s all a mess
That life isn’t what it used to be
They say that we all have to get used to less, recession strikes society

And people in 2016 think that Brexit and Trump in power is bad. As world-renowned investor Warren Buffet said when he was asked about Trump’s win;

“The stock market will be higher 10, 20 and 30 years from now and it would have been with Hillary [Clinton] and it will be with Trump.”

Time will tell if we are in trouble

We had issues with elections, governments, recessions and uprisings in the 80’s and we still made it through.

“Heading For A Storm”
A good title track musically. Like a lot of the songs from the Eighties, musically they connected however the choice of words or topics left a lot to be desired.

Can’t stop, nowhere to run – I’m heading for a storm, no way left to turn

This is very similar to what early Europe would sound like. Lots of Michael Schenkerism’s in the lead breaks, even the main riff could have come from a MSG or UFO album. Always blown away by the lead guitar compositions.

“Waiting For The Night”
Again the acoustic guitar comes to the fore as a prelude and then the Deep Purple “Highway Star” rhythms kick in with a lead break tour de force. The very definition of Euro Metal.

When the darkness falls and the night-time calls, that’s when I’ll be around

It’s more of that Friday night “let our hair down and rock” vibe.

People say we’re strange, don’t accept our ways, we don’t fit in their world

Damn right. Long haired and black t-shirt wearing rock heads didn’t even get a chance to fit in. Teachers already labelled us and employers in the manufacturing industry only employed us.

They’ve got their values and I have got mine, I’m not their kind

It looks like the values of the metal head still rule.

Friendship, togetherness, uniqueness, simplicity and freedom.

And here is my 20 song track list.
SIDE A
1. Hit The Lights – Metallica
2. The Four Horseman – Metallica
3. I Wanna Be Somebody – W.A.S.P
4. Sleeping In The Fire – W.A.S.P
5. Phantom Lord – Metallica
SIDE B
6. Animal – W.A.S.P
7. L.O.V.E Machine – W.A.S.P
8. Jump In The Fire – Metallica
9. Seek and Destroy – Metallica
10. Metal Militia – Metallica
SIDE C
11. Fight Fire With Fire – Kansas
12. Friday Night – Vandenberg
13. Everybody’s My Friend – Kansas
14. Don’t Take Your Love Away – Kansas
15. Waiting For The Night – Vandenberg
SIDE D
16. Heading For A Storm – Vandenberg
17. Mainstream – Kansas
18. Incident On A Bridge – Kansas
19. Different Worlds – Vandenberg
20. End Of The Age – Kansas

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

1983 – The Zebra Streak, The Balls To The Wall Lick and The Thunder Mind II

Apart from the U.S. festival, 1983 also brought the world the Satanic Panic.

Remember it.

The youth of the world was being corrupted by the devil and our leaders along with religious leaders wanted to stop this corruption. Heavy metal and hard rock music had bullet points on their backs.

Also in 1983 CDs and MTV started to make companies and performers greedy. In March 1983, CD players and discs were introduced into the European and North American markets. The “Big Bang” of the digital audio revolution. Meanwhile, we would go to the record store and see all the albums we couldn’t afford.

Anyway, here is another 6 albums from the era.

Kiss – Lick It Up

The “Lick It Up” story goes back to 1978. Kiss at that time were on top of the world. All of the years of album and tour finally paid off commercially. However, four solo albums, a live album, a best off in one year saturated the market. Then “Dynasty” and “Unmasked” came out and the pop doses on those albums alienated the core. And an ill-fated attempt at a concept album did them no favours whatsoever. However, “Creatures Of The Night” from 1982 was a backs to the wall album and it made them relevant again for the times. They needed a new album and a new look ASAP.

So Paul Stanley decided to put it all on the line and test his theory that all people listen with their eyes. Kiss took off the make-up.

The next big decision Kiss had to make was to fire or keep using the fantastic but egotistical Vinnie Vincent as a songwriter. Simmons and Stanley realised that Vincent’s contributions to the “Creatures of The Night” album had produced some stellar songs and decided to put up with Vincent’s crap. Eventually, Vincent left the band in 1984, and later sued KISS, claiming he was not paid for royalties and received only $2000 a week in salary. He lost the case.

And of course there is the cover story.

Basically each member selected a picture of themselves that they liked best and the art department combined them all together. So while it looks like one shot, all of the members were individually cut out and placed side by side. Then there is the story that Vincent’s body is that of a mannequin and only his head was photo shopped.

“Lick It Up”

It’s written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent. And if the verse vocal melody sounds familiar, it should. It is a straight copy of the vocal melody to “Funky Town”.  But hey, influence is influence and this is how music is created. All artists take bits and pieces of a lot of influences and turn them into their own creations.

The video was all over music television and it built on the momentum that 1982’s “Creatures of The Night” re-established. And it was an excellent song to introduce the make-up-less version of the band. It was infectious, even pop fans couldn’t resist. The simple drum groove is big, the chorus hooks you in and like always there is a riff to decorate it all.

Forget the lyrics, forget the message, it was all about the SOUND, the GROOVE, the FEEL!

“Exciter”

It’s the opening track and on the same level with “Creatures Of The Night” in my opinion. It’s written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent. Actually, one of the best opening tracks to an album has to be “I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire) from the album that came next. But that’s for another story.

Passion and fire, lust and desire
Exciter
Pleasure and pain, this is my name
Exciter

The reptilian part of our brain all summed up a chorus. You can’t get any simpler.

“Gimme More”

Another cut penned by Stanley and Vincent.

Hot blood, need your love
Hard as rock, can’t get enough

Ahh, beautiful lyrics from an era long gone. So Paul has a hard on.

Love is sweet, so insane
Come on lick my candy cane

And now Paul is referencing a blowie.

Good enough to rival ZZ Top.

“All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose”

A rarity of the 80’s Kiss, where a song is written by the whole band. This one lists Eric Carr, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent as songwriters.

You know we ain’t always winners
But this is the life we choose
Take a look around, only one solution
Set the world on fire, fight the institution
Gonna stand our ground, feel the new sensation
Something’s goin’ down, ooh, rock the nation

One of many “stick it to the institution” songs.

“A Million to One”

Another cut penned by Stanley and Vincent. Stock standard lyrics, however some cool riffage.

But every time I try to open your eyes
I’m damned and I’m no good

For a band that moved a lot of concert tickets, their albums always struggled to sell by the truckloads. “Lick It Up” was eventually certified platinum on December 19, 1990. Seven years later after its release and all on the back of one song. The title track.

Y&T – Mean Streak                                                     

I had to own this album once I heard it. I couldn’t get enough of it. Despite being labelled as hair glam rockers, Y&T were no joke. The classic line up of Dave Meniketti, Phil Kennemore, Leonard Hazes and Joey Alves are in top form here. By the time they started to get traction in the 80’s they had been writing, recording and touring for over a decade. And then the world caught up with them. But they never had a real hit in the commercial sense, but to their fans they had hits on every album.

Another killer album cover, very similar in concept with “Black Tiger”. Behind the boards it was produced by Chris Tsangarides, who also did Thin Lizzy’s “Thunder and Lightning” which I mention further down.

Like Metallica, Y&T had a reputation as an amazing live band however the reviews I read mentioned how their studio albums didn’t match their live energy. While Metallica got Bob Rock and made Soundscan history with the self-titled “Black” album, Y&T from a sales perspective didn’t. But man, how live and energetic does “Mean Streak” sound.

“Mean Streak”

What a riff to kick off the album!

Overtime every day of the week
Still the house ain’t big enough
Spend your money so fast
That you never see the green
Big, better, best tell me where does it end
Keeping up with the Joneses is tough

What a statement.

Has anything changed since 1983?

We still want more and the internet has given us a belief that we can all have more. I know I will never be rich and I am content with that. I know a lot of people who are not content. For those people, the house needs to be bigger, the car needs to be newer and flashier. The debt gets bigger. The relationship gets sour.

Every time that I look at you boy, I can see you’re a nervous wreck,
You try too hard to give her every little thing,
Big car, big pool, big house heart attack,
You better bend, or your gonna break

“Mean Streak” is the hit of the album.

“Straight Thru The Heart”

Can’t tell the truth from the lies
With that smile-mask on your face

On some days, I feel like I am surrounded by people like that.

“Lonely Side Of Town”

With my old friends it’s not the same
Seems we don’t know what to say
I understand but still it’s strange
When your friends just fade away

So true.

Living gets in the way of friendships and when so many years pass, it’s just not the same when you reconnect.

“Midnight In Tokyo”

Midnight, midnight in Tokyo
Where the neon lights the land of the rising sun

Brilliant lyric line about how the land of the rising sun, needs neon lights to light it up.

“Hang Em High”

Power of numbers cannot be denied
Let’s stand up and show how we feel

A call to arms for the rock heads.

Join our ranks – there ain’t no losers here
As long as we never divide
We are a force so strong we never have to run
Let’s stand up and show how we feel

But we did divide. Suddenly if you liked Slayer, Venom, Megadeth and Metallica, it was uncool to like to Van Halen, Ratt, Motley Crue, Dokken, Bon Jovi and Twisted Sister. Remember James Hetfield had a guitar with the slogan, “Kill Bon Jovi”. There is a reason why Hip-Hop/rap is still around, looking and sounding exactly the same as it did back when it emerged in the late 80’s and early 90’s and still making a tonne of money. It’s the unity. The big hair bands from the 80’s are still around, but the majority of them are back to playing clubs and theatres instead of arenas. In the end, they all got killed off because the fans divided.

“Sentimental Fool”

That chorus!

Sentimental fool
You know you didn’t do me right

And that’s the thing. People don’t understand the hurt their actions make to the individual.

Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning 

The final Thin Lizzy album is the heaviest. Of course, it will go down in history as featuring John Sykes on guitar. Even though he has one song writing credit, there is no denying the performance aspect on the recordings. While lesser guitarists would probably have played power chords, John Sykes doesn’t. It’s full of his palm muted single note staccato riffage and shredalicious leads.

“Thunder And Lightning”

It’s a speed-a-thon. The song could have been a contender for Speed Metal Song of the year. Plus it has a classic lyric.

But it’s Saturday night when heavy rock was born

Yep, you read that right. Maybe the first song and only song to use the term “heavy rock” as all songs used “Rock and Roll” or “Heavy Metal”.

Locked up in the classroom, waiting for the fight
Down to the schoolyard, knocking the gate

Remember those moments, when everyone knew the fight was on after school.

“This Is The One”

I never expected that arena sing along Chorus based on the way the verses flowed.

I’ve got to keep myself employed

The life of a musician is to stay employed.

I hear it, I know it, I touch it, I feel it, I see it
Some day we will have won
I can feel it in my bones
This is the one

Is Phil talking about a relationship or his career as a musician?

“The Sun Goes Down”

The restrained chordal decorations by Sykes over the groovy Lynott bass line, makes the song.

“The Holy War”

With all of the crap going on in our lives today, this song feels so modern.

We are chosen, we are one
We are frightened of no one
And no one will win this war
This is the way, this is the law

The takers of innocent lives in the name of a God believe they are chosen. But no-one wins in a war. Only scars remain and eventually those scars will open up again in the future.

There is no evil in salvation
There is evil in us all

Damn right. We all have done things that can be deemed as evil.

Lost children of Babylon
Oh Allah, oh no, oh no
This is the Holy War

And there it is. The war has always been between Christians and Muslim.

“Cold Sweat”

Lynott goes to town on the story of this song. And for those that don’t know the story, it’s about taking your hard-earned money and gambling it away. And to be honest, the riffing from Sykes on this one just brings it all together.

I put my money in a suitcase
And headed for the big race

The scene is set.

To lose means trouble, to win pays double
And I got me a heavy bet
Cold, cold sweat

The different outcomes of the bet.

I’ve got a whole month’s wages
I haven’t seen that much in ages
I might spend it in stages
And move out to Las Vegas

And we have a winner. Phil Lynott proves once again how good he is at telling a story.

“Baby Please Don’t Go”

The young ones hold their heart up to the skies
And dance the night away

Innocent times are never forgotten.

“Bad Habits”

Well, boys will be boys and girls will be trouble

So true. Motley Crue even had a song called “Chicks = Trouble”.

Iron Maiden – Piece Of Mind

In 1980, Iron Maiden released “Iron Maiden”. In 1981 they released “Killers”. In 1982 they released “The Number Of The Beast” and in 1983 they released “Piece of Mind”. It was a gruelling cycle of album/tour. In their quest for world domination, an album a year had to happen. There was no other way.

“Where Eagles Dare”

Written by Steve Harris and a great frantic way to open the album. The song could even pass as a progressive song, with its time changes.

Theme wise, a World War II rescue of Allied soldiers gets a mention here.

It’s snowing outside the rumbling sound of engines roar in the night,
The mission is near the confident men
are waiting to drop from the sky.

The scene is set of the rescue to come.

“Revelations”

Written by Bruce Dickinson. The little black book and Aleister Crowley get a mention here.

“O God of Earth and Altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die,
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
Take away our pride.”

We despise the 1% today and we despised them in the 80’s. Those walls of gold are what people rise up against.

How good is that melodic solo after the first verse?

“Flight Of Icarus”

Written by Adrian Smith and Dickinson, Greek mythology gets a mention here.

Fly on your way, like an eagle,
Fly as high as the sun,

“Die With Your Boots On”

It’s written by the holy trinity of Smith, Dickinson and Harris. This time around, nuclear warfare and Nostradamus get a mention. It’s the prequel to “2 Minutes To Midnight”.

How good is that intro?

I still prefer the “Live After Death” version, because that was the first music I owned from Iron Maiden and I listened to it until the cassette tape chewed up.

Do you remember that?

Your favourite piece of music is no more because the stereo tape deck chewed up the cassette reel. It was a disaster of epic proportions, especially when you didn’t have the means to repurchase it again.

13 the Beast is Rising,
The Frenchman did surmise,
Through earthquakes and starvation,
The Warlord will arise,
Terror, Death, Destruction,
Pour from the Eastern sands,
But the truth of all predictions,
Is always in your hands.

The prophecy of Nostradamus and how the world will be plunged into the war of the Antichrist from a person born in the Middle East.

Did he predict it?

Check out this article.

Really dig that section from 3.50 onwards.

“The Trooper”

The Crimean War in the 1850’s gets a song and it took history buff, Steve Harris to write a song about it.

The battle call lines of “You’ll take my life / But I’ll take yours too / You’ll fire your musket / But I’ll run you through” is the defining moment of the song.  If you can’t sing along with this, you didn’t live through this.

Add to it the galloping triplet bass line and you can imagine horses stampeding into the battle.

“Still Life”

By know I have been knocked out so many times, I am on the floor. Seriously six excellent songs one after another. “Still Life” is influenced by Ramsey Campbell’s 1964 short story “The Inhabitant of the Lake” and the song is written by Dave Murray and Steve Harris.

All my life’s blood is slowly draining away
And I feel that I’m weaker every day
Somehow I know I haven’t long to go
Joining them at the bottom of the pool.

Madness and depression are big killers in modern society.

“To Tame A Land”

This song should have been after “Still Life” and the album should have been a 7 song album. That way it was all killer, no filler.

It’s inspired by Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel “Dune” and when the Maiden team asked for permission to use “Dune” as the song title, they were told that Herbet hates rock music and Iron Maiden.

Zebra – Zebra

Randy Jackson founded Zebra in 1975.

By the time their self-titled debut album came out in 1983 on Atlantic Records, the trio had developed a fan base from their live shows. In addition, the majority of the bands signed in the early 80’s had been slugging it out for a long time in the clubs before getting their recording contract. How many artists today are prepared to put in 8 plus years of hard work before they actually get a chance to record. The answer is NONE. Artists today record straight away, release it and expect something to happen.

“Tell Me What You Want”

A brilliant opener and man, that vocal performance by Randy Jackson is superb. Then the lead guitar comes in and again, it’s melodic and hypnotic. Nothing too flashy, just enough to enhance the song.

 

You have taken it all
All of my love
Unrelenting you told
You told me a lie

When one side gives more than the other, it’s tough to handle when it all goes bad.

Tell me what you want

You don’t want to know what they want, as you might not like what you hear. And would you change if you knew what they want.

“One More Chance”

A 1.2 knockout punch.

If I could only relive yesterday
I think I’d try to do it right
If I had one more chance to be with you
I think it just might save my life

The broken heart themes keep on coming.

I’m caught it the same old world
And I just can’t get my head unwhirled
And I’m looking for any old place to hide

You don’t want to see people when a relationship breaks down. Their fake pities, and “do you wanna talk about it” clichés.

“Who’s Behind The Door”

It’s a very grown up song, so far removed from the LA strip and the NWOBHM influences. It’s bordering on folk rock. And then that change at 3.30 with all of the vocal ad libs from Jackson, the keys enhancing the ending, some backwards guitar and it’s like all hells breaking loose. And the one constant throughout is the acoustic guitar.

Strip away all of the other instruments, you can still sing this song around a campfire, with voices and an acoustic guitar.

And if you take the time to read the lyrics I first thought it was about our trip to the pearly gates. Then I thought it was about aliens invading Earth. Then I thought it was an ode to “Big Brother is Watching”.  Then in the Nineties, I was attaching a Matrix meaning to it.

Looking out to the stars
Think about what you are
What do they think of you
Animals in their zoo
They haven’t got the time
Landing is not on their minds
How do they have the nerve
We’re animals in preserve

The alien connection.

How can we find out more
Who owns the keyless door
Where does the circle end
Who are the unwatched men

The matrix/big brother watching connection.

Where do we go from here
Faith is a fading fear
Life is a waiting room
I hope they don’t call me soon

The pearly gates connection

“When You Get There”

The pop vibes are unique and original. Some great bass playing during the lead break.

You haven’t had a chance to think
About explaining where you slept till noon
You can’t say you were working all night
Cause it’s Sunday afternoon
The truth is too hard
You’ll never come back
Cause a one night stand is not worth the attack

When you get there

Coming home after a night with someone else. While it might have felt great the night before, it doesn’t feel too good the morning after.

And how good is that lead guitar line after each “When You Get There” line.

“Take Your Fingers From My Hair”

This was the song that Dream Theater covered for their “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” deluxe editions that re-awakened my interest in Zebra. Isn’t it funny how a cover song brings back the original song and the band into the psyche.

 

 

It’s a pretty definitive song, with a unique guitar riff and vocal line.

Take your fingers from my hair
They have gotten us nowhere
We can’t last another second
For we are two, too lost for open doors

The scene is set for a break up.

You are blind
Too blind to notice
That their love is not the love we share together

While one relationship didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean the new one will set the world on fire.

How good is that steroid/peptide enhanced ending.

Accept – Balls To The Wall

You see MTV started back in 1981. It took the artists away from the magazines and broadcast them into the lounge rooms. What it also did was create a new era of stars that had to have a certain look. Accept didn’t have the MTV look. But to the metal heads, Accept belonged to us, the metal community.

The cover is legendary. A crotch shot of a person with a very hairy leg holding a ball in his hand against the wall. I’m surprised it isn’t a popular internet meme.

The album had a gated release, so it’s on this list because it’s first release was in 1983 in Europe. The rest of the world followed in 1984.

“Balls To The Wall”

Lyrics are written by their manager Gaby Hauke (under the pseudonym “Deaffy”). This was a monster hit to fans of the genre but not so much on the charts.

Too many slaves in this world
Die by torture and pain
Too many people do not see
They’re killing themselves, going insane

We work because we get ourselves into debt in order to get ahead or to pay for our children to get ahead. From these commitments we become slaves to the employer, working until we die, and stressing when we get fired.

Balls to the wall, man
Balls to the wall

The gang chant.

One day the tortured stand up
And revolt against the evil
They make you drink your blood
And tear yourself to pieces

Revolution Accept style.

“Fight It Back”

It’s like Judas Priest “Screaming For Vengeance”.

Always been the prophets
Who make the world evolve
Always been the average breaking it down

Religious leaders, dictators, corrupted democratic leaders are all prophets trying and the people like us are the average, trying to break down the institutions.

Majority, the unknown
Giving us the rules

Spot on. Laws are written to serve interest groups who stand to benefit greatly from those laws.

Now, if you hate it
You gotta fight it back
Just try to change it
Fight it — fight it back

Once upon a time, this mattered. Not today. Most people are content with their lives and very rarely care about high politics.

Find myself in crisis
Get near to collapse
Am I forced to live that boring life
God, I hate the average
Go and nuke it out

This is what we all wanted to do with our lives, to be independent and to not be boring. However, as soon as we make a financial commitment, we end up being the average.

“Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had”

Man, it’s just good old heavy melodic metal with a catchy chorus. Scorpions would be proud to have a song like this in their repertoire.

But the lyrics about a jilted ex coming back for revenge brings the song down.

And here is a perfect double album of songs from this post in old school vinyl format when the opening and closing track on each side mattered.

Side One

  1. Meanstreak
  2. Revelations
  3. Lick It Up
  4. Cold Sweat
  5. The Trooper

Side Two

  1. Where Eagles Dare
  2. Balls To The Wall
  3. Flight Of Icarus
  4. Lonely Side Of Town
  5. Die With Your Boots On

Side Three

  1. Exciter
  2. Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had
  3. Hang Em High
  4. Tell Me What You Want
  5. Sentimental Fool

Side Four

  1. Thunder And Lightning
  2. Midnight In Tokyo
  3. Baby Please Don’t Go
  4. When You Get There
  5. Heart Attack

Ahh, after two blog entries on 1983, stay tuned for a few more additions.

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

1983 – The Holy Roller, The Devil Rocker, The Synchronised Eliminator and The Moon Rebel

From May 29, 1983 up until sometime in 1992, metal/rock ruled and it all started with the US Festival (sponsored and orchestrated by Apple’s Steve Wozniack). For the bands involved it was a pivotal moment. For the movement as a whole, it was massive. For a fledgling TV service called MTV, it showed them a market to tap into.

Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” was released on March 11, 1983 however it didn’t really do anything. The album then started to take off after the US Festival in May 1983 and after the release of “Cum On Feel The Noize” as a single in August 1983, it exploded. I will talk more about this album in one of the other installments of my 1983 saga.

Motley Crue already had some momentum going with “Too Fast For Love”. The U.S Festival in May, helped cement their status as Sunset Strip favourites and when “Shout At The Devil” hit the streets in September 1983, the momentum became a tidal wave to platinum glory. Motley Crue played the perfect set, including a few of the new songs that would appear on “Shout At The Devil”, so as a concert goer, you heard those songs and you wanted them.

Triumph, Scorpions and Judas Priest already had some serious momentum going.

1981’s “Allied Forces” for Triumph was a success and the follow-up “Never Surrender” released in January 1983 was no slouch either and it was certified Gold on September 30, 1983 by the RIAA. You can easily conclude that the festival had a hand in boosting sales.

Judas Priest had their 1982 “Screaming For Vengeance” album doing the rounds and in April 1983 it was certified Platinum in the U.S.

Scorpions had their 1982 album “Blackout” out in the market and their visibility at the US Festival in May 1983, assisted in “Blackout” reaching Platinum status in March 1984. This success didn’t come instantly either, working since the start of the Seventies.

Van Halen at the time were kings of LA however their last album “Diver Down” didn’t do them any favours. However the visibility from the May 1983 festival along with Eddie Van Halen featuring in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” song would help their “1984” album released in January 1984 reach the lofty Diamond certification.

Anyway, enough of the U.S. Festival and time for a look at some albums.

Dio – Holy Diver

Ronnie James Dio success came from hard work and a commitment to stay the course. Check out his release schedule.

From when Elf’s self-titled debut album came out in 1972 he was constantly writing, releasing and touring. In 1974, “Carolina Country Ball” came out and in 1975, “Trying To Burn The Sun” came out.

Also in 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was released. In 1976, “Rising” came out. In 1977, “On Stage” came out. In 1978, “Long Live Rock N Roll” came out.

With Black Sabbath, he was involved with the “Heaven and Hell” release in 1980. In 1981, “Mob Rules” came out. In 1982 “Live At Last” came out.

By 1983, he was about to release his eleventh album in 11 years.

While much of the talk these days is on Dio hiring Vivian Campbell, it was actually Jimmy Bain who had a larger influence on Holy Diver. It was Jimmy Bain that was hired first. It was Jimmy Bain who contributed musically to “Stand Up And Shot” and “Rainbow In The Dark”. It was Jimmy Bain who saw Vivian Campbell play with Sweet Savage.

Actually, if you look at the song writing credits you will see “Holy Diver” was written solely by Dio and “Stand Up And Shout” was written by Dio and bassist Jimmy Bain. Vivian Campbell’s contributions are “Gypsy” (with Dio), “Caught in the Middle” and “Invisible” (with Appice and Dio), “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Shame on the Night” (with Appice, Bain and Dio).

So have a drink for an unsung departed hero in  Jimmy Bain.

Stand Up And Shout
You’ve got the power, stand up and shout

The opening song and it’s a call to arms right off the bat. Written before Vivian Campbell joined the band, the opening riff was used again to great success by Iron Maiden in “2 Minutes To Midnight”. Quick, get the lawyers involved.

Lyrically the song deals with breaking away from conformity.  It was the same theme that Twisted Sister sold millions of albums on.

It’s the same old song
You gotta be somewhere at sometime
And they’ll never let you fly

The mysterious “they” could be your teachers, employers, leaders, mortgage brokers or some other entity/establishment who are holding you back.

You are the driver
You own the road
You are the fire — go on, explode

Damn right, we are our own driver but how many can truly say we made decisions without any influence from others.

Holy Diver
The lead single.

How good is that groove from Appice and Bain under the iconic riff. It’s the selling point of the song. Vocally, Dio is fantastic and the guitar solo from Campbell is shredalicious.

Ride the tiger, you can see his stripes but you know he’s clean

Only Dio knows what those lyrics mean however if you are looking for an explanation then go to SongMeanings. A user called “Nightrain50” posted the following;

“Holy Diver is about Jesus Christ’s descent into Hades after being crucified”.

Once you read the users lyrical breakdown, it sounds plausible.

The “Holy Diver” riff is that good, that the Foo Fighters used it in the pre-chorus of their song “Something From Nothing”.

Between the velvet lies
There’s a truth that’s hard as steel
The vision never dies
Life’s a never-ending wheel

The below is an example of the SongMeanings users break down of the above verse.

“Between the velvet lies” = velvet is gentleness or caution, often concealing strength or determination and a profit or gain beyond what is expected or due. Jesus is the velvet lie. His intentions are not clear. Satan has been fooled, he thought he had won when he had Jesus crucified, in fact he has sealed his own fate. Jesus is here to claim what’s his. All the souls of the fallen that will but believe in him can now be saved from Adam until now. Remember all fell short of the glory of God but one (Jesus), this means that all the prophets of the Old Testament were not reaching heaven. Not yet, but they are now.

“There’s a truth that’s hard as steel” = Truth is the word of God. Steel is the sword of Jesus’s mouth Rev 2:16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

“The vision never dies”= The vision is the law, Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. The law will never die because Jesus has finally fulfilled the law, allowing us to have eternal life with God through him.

“Life’s a never-ending wheel” = Death has been defeated. 1st Corinthians 15:56 “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” Romans *:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

It’s funny how a biblical interpretation has been made on “Holy Diver” that is pro-Jesus, and the person that wrote the song is known as the creator of the devil horn salute. Metal all the way is what I say.

Rainbow In The Dark
While “Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” warmed up the fan base it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal.

So depending on who you ask, it is pretty clear that a rainbow cannot exist in the dark, as rainbows require light. So is Dio using the term rainbow as an analogy for a “light” in the dark. Also, think of a rainbow as an entity and it found its way into the night. Is it lost? Is it lonely? Did someone abandon it?

It’s typical Dio, where the meaning can take many paths. Each verse line deals with a certain emotion.

When there’s lightning
You know it always bring me down

It’s about feeling down.

Do your demons,
Do they ever let you go?

It’s about giving in to our vices because they are always there.

We’re a lie
You and I
We’re words without a rhyme

It’s about a relationship going sour.

No sign of the morning

It’s like the light will never return into his life.

“Don’t Talk To Strangers” and “Shame On The Night” musically are fantastic songs, but lyrically they are terrible.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Dee Snider wrote the tracks for “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” while “Under The Blade” was getting mixed. At that stage, Snider was a 10 year vet in the music business. He didn’t rely on sales of recorded music to provide him with a living. He earned his coin by delivering the goods on stage, night after night.

The band was a consistent crowd puller on the live circuit. You would think that would get them signed, however it didn’t. All the labels rejected them, until an independent label in Europe called “Secret” signed them. This in turn eventually led to Atlantic’s European division signing them for the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” album which in turn led to the U.S arm of Atlantic picking them up, once imported versions of the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” LP started selling in the U.S.

And if you want to hear about record label mistreatment look no further than Dee Snider.

The Kids Are Back
The opening track.

My cousin Mega is a hard-core Twisted Sister fan. He is the one that got me into the band. He even has the TS logo tattooed on his shoulder. This was my first exposure to the band. The sound of the marching feet. It was perfect for the time.

We walk the streets
In tattered armies
We got the lion in our heart
We’re not lookin’ for trouble
Just for some fun
But we’re all ready if you wanna’ start

How can I put in words the trueness of this verse?

We just wanted to have fun, but man, if someone wanted to roll with us, we didn’t take a backward step. You can hear the anger build in Dee’s vocal delivery. It’s raw and it is honest. It is not auto tuned like all the other crap released today. It has a certain life to it.

I Am (I’m Me)
It’s a song that needed to be written, so that Dee could go on and write, “S.M.F”, “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. To me, it is like a back story to the main movie. It’s message is one of standing up for yourself.

Who are you to look down
At what I believe?

Notice how most of the lyrics have a certain trend showing. If you don’t believe me, compare the lyrics between these songs;

“Stand Up And Shout”, “The Kids Are Back”, “I Am (I’m Me)”, “Your No Different”, “Rock And Roll Rebel”, “Red Hot” and “Rebel Yell”.

The eighties were a time when the youth didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of what their fathers did. I didn’t want to work in the steel mills. I wanted something different, but I didn’t know what. For too long I had been conditioned to want something else.

We’re Gonna Make It is another song that needed to be written so that Dee could go on to write the classics.

The power of the people
Ain’t been showin’
It’s never what you know
It’s who you’re knowin’
Sure it ain’t right,
But as the saying goes its might
That decides who stays behind
And who’ll be goin’

It’s the A to Z in making it.

You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll

Lift up your hands in praise
You can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll

You know, those words are so true because rock just keeps on evolving. Even when hard rock stopped being a dominant commercial force in the Nineties, another form known as Grunge Rock took over with Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Then Alternative Rock took over with Foo Fighters and a renewed Pearl Jam. Then Modern Rock took over with Matchbox Twenty and Tonic. Nu-Metal came and it morphed into Heavy Rock. We had Rap Rock, then Pop Rock and Glam Rock came back again via “The Darkness” and we even had Industrial Rock via “Filter”, “Stabbing Westward” and others of that ilk.

It’s an angry steed,
On a never ending course

Damn right.

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

There is a lot of septic crap around this album especially around the politics of the song writing.

By 1983, Ozzy had lost the momentum that the Blizzard Of Ozz band started. From the original crew, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake were fired and Randy Rhoads died tragically and if the tragedy didn’t happen, Rhoads was putting plans in place to leave Ozzy.

Ozzy’s saving grace was the US Festival. After the US Festival, Bob Daisley, along with Jake E. Lee, Tommy Aldridge and Ozzy Osbourne went to New York and started writing. It could have been George Lynch instead of Jake E. Lee. Maybe on Earth 2, there is a version with George Lynch replacing Randy Rhoads.

For Daisley, coming back into the Ozzy camp meant certain conditions. He wanted to be paid for writing the songs and to be paid to play on the album. He wanted bonuses when the sales reached a half a million and then a million and so on. However, as usual, he got screwed again and no bonuses came.

Writing by Daisley and Lee continued in London and recording started at Ridge Farms with Max Norman engineering again. Tommy Aldridge struggled in the studio. Sharon Osbourne was constantly on his case as to why the drum parts took so long to record. Time is money. After Aldridge recorded the album and just before the tour, he got fired.

That is when Carmine Appice entered the fold. If you see the “Bark At The Moon” video, Appice is on drums. He had a contract to do the tour and he got fired as well, because he was sneaking off and doing drum clinics.

Bark At The Moon
What a way for Jake E. Lee to introduce himself to the fans of Ozzy Osbourne. Jake E. Lee came up with the riff, Ozzy with the title and Bob
Daisley wrote the lyrics based on a Hammer Horror film story.

But Lee or Daisley are not credited as songwriters. Only Ozzy is.

With so much talk these days about plagiarism and other people taking credit for something they didn’t do, this is exactly what Sharon orchestrated for Ozzy. As it stands, Ozzy is listed as the sole songwriter and by default taking full credit for someone else’s work.

Bark at the moon
Ha ha ha ha ha…

One of my favourite lyrical lines is;

He finds his heaven
Spewing from the mouth of hell

There are a lot of people like that, who find their happiness by putting others down. Hell, the whole bully system is designed in this way. Internet trolls are exactly like this.

And if there was any doubt to the guitar mastery of Jake E. Lee then just listen to the outro solo.

“You’re No Different”
A lot of hate for this song because;

a) it’s a ballad,
b) it has keyboards,
c) it’s a ballad and
d) it’s a ballad with keyboards.

But man, coming off the stellar opening title track, it was a WTF moment, but it’s still a good song and there is no denying the lyrics from Daisley that deal with how people judged and perceived Ozzy.

Everything that I say and do
In your eyes is always wrong
Tell me where do I belong in a sick society

Where do we belong when everyone has their own thoughts and ideas? And why should our thoughts, ideas and words be so wrong, just because we are lower in the status chain.

Your’re no different, no different to me

Last time I checked, we all have a mortality of about 80 years and we all end up in the same place when it all comes to an end.

Living my life in a way that I choose
You say I should apologize
Is that envy in your eyes reflecting jealousy

I’ve said sorry many times when I never should have. It was purely an attempt to put a situation to rest and move on.

Tell me the truth and I’ll admit to my guilt
If you’ll try and understand
Is that blood that’s on your hand from your democracy?

Is there such a thing as pure truth as what I see from my point of view and my cultural upbringing is different to what another sees.

And again that outro has a lot of cool Jake E. Lee’isms.

“Rock And Roll Rebel”
It needed to be written so Jake could go and write “Lightning Strikes” because the riffs are identical except in different keys.

I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel
I’ll tell you no lies
They say I worship the devil
They must be stupid or blind
I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel

It’s a national anthem for us metal heads. “I’m a rock and roll rebel” was my favourite comeback line to my school teachers.

They live a life of fear and insecurity
And all you do is pay for their prosperity

Damn right, it’s called tax and mortgages. The best way to ensure that the majority still serve rich masters like in ancient empires is to create wages, income tax and credit loans. That way, the rich will get even richer and the rest of us will just pay for their prosperity.

That lead break from Jake again is brilliant. Arpeggios, bluesy pentatonic lines, fast legato lines and anything else he could fit in, he did.

“Waiting for Darkness”
The excellent album closer. It’s how Jake E. Lee decorates the song by palm muting and double-picking each note to create a staccato style effect. It’s very similar to how Andy Summers from The Police decorated songs.

Promise me rebirth
And then you tear me from the womb
Give me my freedom
And then you lock me in a tomb

The way of the world is more pure in books of fiction. The non-fiction reality version is very different. A lot of the songs I like deal with how “we believe we are free but really are not”. It’s not coincidental. The more I get older, the more I realise how I’m not free. Like how Hetfield sang in “The Unforgiven”;

“New blood joins this Earth and quickly he’s subdued”

Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil
Motley Crue is another band that benefited greatly from the U.S Festival. 1983 is when the LA Sunset Strip Scene broke out as a commercial force.

On the backs of Motley Crue and Quiet Riot, suddenly the labels were looking for bands that looked and sounded like Motley Crue and Quiet Riot. Ratt, Dokken WASP, Kix, Krokus and Mamas Boys are a few bands that benefited from Motley Crue breaking out of the L.A Sunset Strip scene.

Other labels that had established bands made their bands look like Motley Crue. Y&T, Accept, Fastway, Whitesnake, Helix, Saxon, Kiss and Tygers of Pan Tang are a few bands that had a look and feel change to their wardrobes. But for the Crue, their changes had a lot to do with what was popular at the time. Metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were riding a wave of commercial prosperity. The Crue had the metal look and all they needed was the metal sound.

Enter the pentagram.

The “Shout At The Devil” album was primarily written while the band was still unknown and striving for success. You can hear the angst, rebellious youth and aggression in the music. You can hear the kilos of cocaine and decadent lifestyle in the music.

Tom Werman is on hand to produce. There is no denying the fact that Werman had a certain touch to get the albums sounding radio friendly.

Around this time there was a satanic backlash happen in the U.S. Motley Crue played into the controversy and as Vince Neil once said, they did anything that would get them attention.

Werman advised them that they could record their tracks separately and then fix up any mistakes after. This in turn led to a lot of down time. Down time equals partying. In the end, the Crue managed to get it together to record an album that was a product and snapshot of 1982/83.

“Shout At The Devil”
The funny thing is the band is accused of being satanic however they had the most Christian sounding title in “Shout At The Devil”. It is no different to “To Hell With The Devil” from Stryper. The main riff is a bluesy classic, in the vein of ZZ Top’s if played with a boogie feel.

But in the seasons of wither
We’ll stand and deliver
Be strong and laugh and
Shout-shout-shout
Shout at the devil

Nikki is channelling his love of Aerosmith and his rebellious street punk nature in the lyrics. He is part of the disenfranchised generation.

“Looks That Kill”
The L.A sound is all over this. The opening riff of “Looks That Kill” was copied from somewhere and then all of the LA bands copied each other with different variations. If you don’t believe me, check out Ratt and Dokken. The “Breaking The Chains” album has a song with a very similar riff and so does ”Out Of The Cellar”.

As good as the riff is; it’s the foot stomping beat from Tommy Lee that gets the song going. It’s metronomic and G-string tight.

Now listen up
She’s razor-sharp

Now she’s bulletproof
Keeps her motor clean
If Nikki was channelling Aerosmith in “Shout At The Devil”, well for “Looks That Kill” he was channelling Brian Johnson and “Back In Black”.

“Bastard”

Bastard
Won’t get screwed again

Written about their manager who funded their debut album and then split with the Elektra advance.

“Red Hot”
Tommy Lee is channelling “Overkill” from Motorhead with the drums.

Shout at the devil
We’ve laughed at your wars

The title track appears again in another song. It’s such a strong statement.

“Too Young to Fall in Love”

Again, it’s Tommy’s foot stomping and metronomic drumming that gets the song rolling and grooving.

Run for the hills
We’re both sinners and saints

“Knock Em Dead, Kid”
That intro riff from Mick Mars and the build-up from Tommy Lee is a foot stomper. It’s a call to arms.

In the heat of the night
You went and blackened my eyes
Well now I’m back, I’m back, I’m back
And I’m coming your way”

Lyrics about a fist fight. Nikki took a few hits and now he’s back for retribution. Brilliant

“Ten Seconds To Love”
Touch my gun
But don’t pull my trigger
Let’s make history
In the elevator
Or lock the door
Shine my pistol some more
Here I cum
Just ten seconds more

Sixx is a master at the tongue and cheek bubblegum sexual lyrics.

Bring a girlfriend
Maybe bring two
I got my camera
Make a star outta you

The Crue guys made stars of themselves and others with those camera’s many years later. How prophetic.

“Danger”
This one is one of those gems that is forgotten, telling a story about the bands early days.

“Danger, you’re in danger when the boys are around”

The Motley Crue lifestyle. It was danger. Hotel rooms got destroyed, cars got destroyed, Razzle died, Nikki Sixx died.

Billy Idol – Rebel Yell

“Rebel Yell” is written by Billy Idol and Steve Stevens.

Steve Stevens is merely a footnote in the pages of rock/pop and Digitech whammy noises. Tom Morello is seen as an innovator for doing the same thing that Steve Stevens was doing a decade before. Stevens only crime was big hair and big hair is not in to the people who write pop culture history.

In the midnight hour, she cried more, more, more
With a rebel yell she cried more, more, more, wow!

The Police – Synchronicity

It goes to show how one great song and two good songs could move millions upon millions of albums. Tracks 7, 8 and 9 are the ones.

“Every Breath You Take”
The big one. The songwriting credits state it was all Sting, however the way guitarist Andy Summers plays the stock A – F#m – D – E progression is what defines the song and sets it apart from all of the other pretenders.

“King Of Pain”
Gotye took the feel and chordal structure of this song and made it a hit again almost 30 years later. Quick, call the lawyers, we have plagiarism at its best.

There’s a king on a throne with his eyes torn out
There’s a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt
There’s a rich man sleeping on a golden bed
There’s a skeleton choking on a crust of bread

I’ll always be king of pain

Brilliant lyrics. All of those characters could have been Sting.

“Wrapped Around Your Finger”
Again, Summers takes centre stage with his intricate, melodic and delicious sounding guitar lines.

I can see the destiny you sold
Turned into a shining band of gold
I’ll be wrapped around your finger

ZZ Top – Eliminator

“Gimme All Your Lovin’”
It kicks off the album that turned ZZ Top into superstars. And as all things to do with the Eighties it was on the back of MTV and their stylish videos that all kept the same theme going throughout.

You got to whip it up
And hit me like a ton of lead
If I blow my top
Will you let it go to your head?

Are the lyrics dealing with cumming on her face.

“Got Me Under Pressure”
All the trademarks of classic ZZ Top are here. The riffs, the solos, the jam like structures.

I’m gonna give her a message,
here’s what I’m gonna say:
“It’s all over.”

Man, it’s good the ZZ Top guys don’t take themselves too seriously. Premature ejaculation gets a verse.

“Sharp Dressed Man”
If “Gimme All Your Loving’” and “Got Me Under Pressure” were the combinations, then “Sharp Dressed Man was the knockout.
It’s a technological refined Southern Blues Rock boogie merged with a lot of pop sensibilities.

They come runnin’ just as fast as they can
‘Cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man

“Legs”
Six songs would have been enough for this album.

She’s got legs, she knows how to use them

The immortal lyric that everyone knows. But what about this one;

She’s got hair down to her fanny
She’s kinda jet set, try undo her panties

Fanny makes it in a hit song. Brilliant.

And based on the above, here is a sequenced list of songs for a 20 song double album. All killer, no filler.
Side 1
1. Bark At The Moon
2. Stand Up And Shout
3. Looks That Kill
4. Rainbow In The Dark
5. Every Breath You Take
Side 2
1. Rebel Yell
2. Shout At The Devil
3. Legs
4. You Cant Stop Rock And Roll
5. Holy Diver
Side 3
1. Red Hot
2. I Am (I’m Me)
3. Too Young To Fall In Love
4. Gimme All Your Lovin’
5. Waiting For Darkness
Side 4
1. The Kids Are Back
2. Wrapped Around Your Finger
3. Sharp Dressed Man
4. King Of Pain
5. Got Me Under Pressure

Stay tuned for Part II.

In case you didn’t get the title;

  • The Holy Roller is a combination of “Holy Diver” and “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll”.
  • The Devil Rocker is a combination of “Shout At The Devil” and “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll”.
  • The Synchronised Eliminator is a combination of “Synchronicity” and “Eliminator”
  • The Moon Rebel is a combination on “Bark At The Moon” and “Rebel Yell”.
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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Heart Beat of True Popularity Begins From Unpopular Positions

The kids of today are looking for the new and the different, while they are discovering the past with the help of their parents. If artists don’t have people dropping their jaws these days, chances are they are not going to last.

With this in mind, it got me thinking about Jeff Watson and his time in Night Ranger, along with that jaw dropping eight finger tapping technique.

In 1983, Night Ranger went from an opening act to a headlining act with the release of their second album “Midnight Madness” album.

I can’t believe that it is not on Spotify for me to officially stream, however if I go onto YouTube it is available in its entirety, to be streamed unofficially.

The band at the time was made up of Jack Blades – Bass/Lead vocals, Jeff Watson – Guitars/Keyboards, Brad Gillis – Guitars, Alan Fitzgerald – Keyboards and Kelly Keagy – Drums/Lead vocals.

Jack Blades once said that “Sister Christian” and the release of Midnight Madness was the band’s pinnacle moment.

So what happened.

Let’s look at Jack Blades first. His first band was called “The Nomads” and it goes back to 1966. He work with “Sly and The Family Stone” as a songwriter and experienced fame with funk rockers “Rubicon” in 1978 along with Brad Gillis.

By 1979, the band was no more. When “Rubicon” broke up, Kelly Keagy was their touring drummer. The trio then formed the band Stereo.

Stereo then ceased to be when a roommate of Blades called Alan Fitzgerald (bassist for Montrose, keyboardist for Sammy Hagar) suggested that they form a rock band. Alan knew a virtuoso guitarist called Jeff Watson from Sacramento, and with Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy coming over from Stereo, the band Ranger was formed in 1980. Due to a naming dispute, the name changed from Ranger to Night Ranger.

When Night Ranger broke up in 1989, Blades received a call from John Kalodner, then at Geffen Records. Kalodner mentioned to Blades that Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent are working on songs in New York, but something was missing. Kalodner thought that Blades would be a good addition to the equation. From one super group to another super group.

Anyway looking at Jack Blades, his year zero as a composer began in the “seventies”. His greatest work according to himself, happened in 1983 with “Midnight Madness”, which took place 17 years from when he joined his first band. From a Night Ranger perspective, it took the band three years to compose their greatest masterpiece from when they formed in 1980.

Next up you have Brad Gillis.

Gillis will always be remembered for replacing Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne’s band immediately after Rhoads’ death in 1982. At the time, Night Ranger was still an unknown band from California. When Night Ranger got together in 1980, they focused solely on getting a major label deal instead of playing live.

In the interim, Gillis had a side project called “Alameda All Stars” that played the local clubs for extra cash. During one of those gigs, Preston Thrall, the brother of Pat Thrall was in attendance. After seeing Gillis tear up the stage covering a few Ozzy/Rhoads era songs, he mentioned to Gillis that he should audition.

For the history buffs, Preston Thrall told his brother Pat Thrall about Brad Gillis. Of course, Pat Thrall knew current Ozzy drummer Tommy Aldridge as they played together in the Pat Travers band. So Pat Thrall informs Tommy Aldridge and Aldridge them informs Sharon. At the time Ozzy was working with Bernie Tormé as an interim player.

In the end, Gillis didn’t feel that Ozzy’s band was the best fit for him. He saw another L.A band, Quiet Riot, get a record deal, and when he saw Rudy Sarzo leave to go back to Quiet Riot, Gillis left Ozzy as well, to go back to Night Ranger.

Jeff Watson is the X-factor here. While Brad Gillis is a good guitar player and Jack Blades gave the band it’s crossover rock appeal, Jeff Watson was the shredder that the band needed, which in turn gave the band some serious metal cred. Any person that transposes a piano piece he wrote to the guitar and plays it tapped with eight fingers, deserves a trophy in the Shred Hall Of Fame.

In my opinion Jeff lives in the upper level of guitar circles and his playing/technique is held in high regard. He was born and raised in Fair Oaks (Sacramento) California and started to play the guitar when he was seven.

He took it seriously when he finished high school and got a job at a local music store, where he launched The Jeff Watson Band. Eric Martin (from future Mr Big fame) was the first of three singers the band had. The band got a decent amount of radio airplay as the songs were being produced by both Alan Fitzgerald and Ronnie Montrose. The Jeff Watson Band even opened up for Sammy Hagar, Heart and Ted Nugent. It was while producing “The Jeff Watson Band” that Alan Fitzgerald decided to include Jeff Watson in any new project that he would be involved in.

Even though Jeff Watson doesn’t have a lot of song writing credits on “Midnight Madness”, his influence is still heard years after due to the lead breaks and the Eight Finger Tapping Technique.

Kelly Keagy started doing the club circuit in the Seventies and eventually entered the world of Jack Blades and Brad Gillis as a touring drummer for “Rubicon”.

Alan Fitzgerald goes back to 1974, when he played bass in the band Montrose. He went on to play keyboard for Sammy Hagar’s solo releases and was rooming with Jack Blades.

When “Midnight Madness” came out, Jack Blades was 29, Brad Gillis was 26, Jeff Watson was 27, Kelly Keagy was 31 and Alan Fitzgerald was 34. All of the members had paid their dues in other bands since the start of the Seventies. In other words they were seasoned. Music was all they had. There was no fall back position. There was no safety net or a plan B. It was all or nothing.

In a way, you could call Night Ranger a pseudo supergroup. Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy came from Rubicon. Alan Fitzgerald came from Montrose, Gamma and Sammy Hagar’s solo band. Jeff Watson came from his own solo band, that had songs on radio and production from Ronnie Montrose.

The album kicks off with the Jack Blades and Brad Gillis composition “(You Can Still) Rock in America”. How do you follow-up this song?

You don’t.

You change tact and go into the melodic AOR Rock format, popularised by Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx. There is no point in trying to re-write a bona fide classic.

Two Jack Blades compositions come next in “Rumours In The Air” and “Why Does Love Have to Change”. That guitar intro in “Rumours In The Air” is smoking and the keyboard call to arms lead break after the first chorus shows that Fitzgerald wasn’t there just to play chords.

Side 1 ends with the anthem “Sister Christian”. The song is composed by Kelly Keagy. This is the era of the LP, when sequencing mattered. When the song finished it made you want to turn the LP over, so that you hear what was on the other side.

Side 2 opens up with two Jack Blades compositions in “Touch of Madness” and “Passion Play”. What a way to kick it off, with the tinker box intro that to be honest was used to maximum effect by Ozzy Osbourne on the song “Mr Tinkertrain”.

Not as strong as Side 1, up next was the Jack Blades, Alan Fitzgerald and Brad Gillis composition” When You Close Your Eyes”. A pure slice of melodic AOR rock.

The Jack Blades and Brad Gillis composition “Chippin’ Away” is next and the album closes with the Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Jeff Watson track “Let Him Run”.

Being different was a uniqueness when I was growing up. That was the space the heavy metal and rock musicians occupied.

It was an us vs. them mentality. The “Them” was always a moving target. It could have been teachers, parents, police officers, neighbours or anyone else that upset the status quo for the day.

The end of Night Ranger happened with the success of “Midnight Madness.” Suddenly, the band was on the radar of the record label. The label wanted another “Midnight Madness” so they could capitalise on the cash. It came in “7 Wishes”. Then the label wanted another “Midnight Madness” and it came in “Big Life.” 

The band went from outcasts and creating something new, to a maintenance model of new music, purely designed to earn maximum profits.

Music is best when it’s created and led by the outcasts, those artists that sit on the fringes. Record Labels and suits believe they know best, because all they care about is profits. Night Ranger sat on the fringes for “Dawn Patrol” and for the writing of “Midnight Madness”. 

Even Quiet Riot sat on the fringes. Then it all exploded with “Metal Health” in 1983. It took everyone by surprise. Then the money started to roll in from the large record label advances. Then the bands started to go on massive arena tours.

Suddenly, the bands are afraid to lose friends. Suddenly, the bands are afraid to stand out. The key is to be different AND liked.

Look at the now. Nothing sounded like Volbeat’s “Beyond Hell Above Heaven” previously but it was a huge hit. Protest The Hero are all twisted with their insane progessive songs, but they are embraced by a hard-core fan base that gave the band over $300K to get their next album done..

There is a quote that I remember from Adlai E. Stevenson that goes something like; 

“All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.”

Put that quote in a musical context. All great music has resulted from people who lived as casts, who had unpopular positions, who wrote music because they wanted to write music, not because they wanted to make millions.

That is where the heart beat of true popularity begins.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Revisionist History when it comes to Metallica

Kill Em All, Metallica’s first album is celebrating 30 years this month. It was released in July 25, 1983. At the time of its release it didn’t really set the world on fire, however if you look at the reviews and praises the album is getting now, it is like the album came out and created a movement called thrash metal right off the bat.

Let’s put into context the lifespan of Kill Em All. It came out on July 25, 1983. By February 1984, seven months since Kill Em All was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording the Ride The Lightning album. The victory lap of Kill Em All was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to have a career, they needed to get back into the studio and record a new album.

Of course when the 1991 Black album exploded, new fans started to dig deep and purchase the bands older material. It is for this reason that the bands older catalogue from Kill Em All to Justice started to get RIAA certifications.

Kill Em All finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999. That pales in comparison to the Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets albums which have moved over 6 million units in the U.S alone by 2012. The ..And Justice for All album has moved over 8 million copies in the U.S and the Metallica black album is pushing close to 17 million units sold in the U.S alone by the close of 2012.

As a Metallica fan, the Kill Em All album is not a bad album. It is a product of its time and its era. However in 1983, heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a force to be reckoned with. So by 1983 standards, Kill Em All was up against some hard competition.

Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Def Leppard had break through albums with Shout At The Devil, You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll and Pyromania.

Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Dio had new bands and you can call their 1983 releases as comeback albums. Bark At The Moon showcases Jake E.Lee, Lick It Up showcased Vinnie Vincent and Holy Diver showcases Vivian Campbell. In relation to Dio he was continuing his upward trajectory that started with Rainbow, then continued with Black Sabbath and now with his solo band.

ZZ Top hit the mainstream with Eliminator.

Iron Maiden followed up the breakthrough success of their 1982 album, The Number of The Beast with Piece of Mind.

Quiet Riot had a number one album on the back of the Randy Rhoads back story and connection with the band, a cover of Slade’s – Cum on Feel The Noize and a catchy original called Bang Your Head, which was perfect for the time.

Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called Screaming For Vengeance.

Going back to Metallica, the RNR history is written by the winners. Since Metallica is now inducted into the Hall of Fame, everyone that can put fingers to letters on a keyboard is rewriting their back story. Bands like Quiet Riot will be written out. Artists like Vinnie Vincent and Jake E.Lee will be forgotten by the clueless revisionists. The impact of other bands will be diminished because Metallica won.

Is anyone talking about Judas Priest and their impact to the American metal scene? Quiet Riot’s Metal Health was the first American heavy metal debut album to ever reach No. 1 in the United States on the Billboard album charts.

History is written by the winners.

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