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

1985 – Part 6

Fates Warning – The Spectre Within

I picked up their first three albums really cheap in the early 90’s via a second hand record shop. The youthful exuberance approach to song writing is clear, with extravagant structures and riff-a-ramas in each song. Better albums and songs would come later however those songs would not be possible if they didn’t get these early albums and the styles out of the way. Put simply, this is Fates Warning, sounding heavier, faster and more complex.

The band is also different to the band that I would come to like. John Arch is on vocals, Victor Arduini and Jim Matheos are on guitars, Jim Arch is on keyboards, Steve Zimmerman on bass and Joe DiBiase on drums.

“Orphan Gypsy”, musically is an underrated progressive metal cut. If it appeared on a Megadeth or Metallica or Slayer album, it would be seen as a classic. Lyrically, the melodies are hit and miss, but the music is a thrash-a-thon. “Without A Trace” has an intro riff which could have come from Malmsteen’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” before it morphs into a galloping riff like Iron Maiden.

But its “The Apparition” which fuses their Maiden influences (especially “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”) with their other influences which really gets my attention. Even the vocal delivery, could be said to inspire Midnight from Crimson Glory.

Musically, the piece d resistance is “Epitaph”. It sounds like its inspired by “Heaven And Hell” from Sabbath. And at 12 minutes long, it has different movements and moods and it’s a great way to close the album. This song is a giant leap for progressive metal. 

Vocally, John Arch, is a tenor, a cross between Geoff Tate and Dickinson, with a bit of Robert Plant, Rob Halford falsetto and King Diamond chucked in for good measure. But his choice of melodies are a bit of a let down on some of the songs.

Loverboy – Loving Every Minute of It

If you listened to rock music, there is no way that you would have not heard of Loverboy and their songs. This is their first album to not feature Bruce Fairbairn in the producers chair, and Tom Allom was hired.

The album is not on Spotify Australia which irks me, but hey, YouTube has it.

Mutt Lange is on hand to write the big hit, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It”. This dude couldn’t do nothing wrong for a long time.

Jonathan Cain from Journey is on hand to co-write the soft rock influenced “This Could Be The Night” with Paul Dean, Mike Reno and Bill Wray.

Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are on hand to write “Dangerous”, a melodic rock classic.

The riff in “Friday Night” is to my liking. This one is written by Bill Wray, Paul Dean, Davitt Sigerson and Patrick Mahassen.

And the lyric, “Friday Night, I just got paid, no sleep till Monday”. Truth right there, folks.

The good songs keep coming, with the hard rocking “Too Much Too Soon” and the ballad like “Destination Heartbreak” (with its heartbreak emotive guitar solo). But it’s the Lange penned title cut that moved units.

Heart – Heart

This album was massive in the U.S with 5 plus million in sales and a who’s who of songwriters behind it. Not sure if that was the intention of the Wilson sisters or the label, but the addition of songs from outside writers enhanced the band. 

“If Looks Could Kill” is a perfect opener. There is a “Live In Memphis” release on Spotify which is recorded in 1985 for a radio broadcast, and this opens it. Its raw rock and roll without all the studio polish and perfect. It’s written by Jack Conrad and Bob Garrett. And Conrad played bass in The Doors after the death of Jim Morrison and became a songwriter later on.

“What About Love” is a cut written by Sheron Alton, Brian Allen and Jim Vallance. I like the verses more than the Chorus. “Never” and “All Eyes” are written by Holly Knight and Gene Bloch, along with Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis. “These Dreams” is written by Elton John’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin and Martin Page. It was a hit, but it’s not on my radar.

“The Wolf” (the side 1 closer) and “Shell Shock” (the side 2 closer) are written by the band with Sue Ennis. Both songs are aggressive and loud and I like em, but they wouldn’t push the album past the 5 million mark in sales. 

DLR – Crazy From The Heat

Roth got a lot of money to go solo, but the real solo album would come with “Eat Em And Smile”, then again, that album also had a lot of cover songs on it as well, so the real solo album, free of covers was “Skyscraper”.

For “Crazy From The Heat”, I own it on cassette and LP, but I never play it.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth

The title makes me laugh now, but in the 80’s it was badass. Even the band name referenced my favourite movie, “Warriors”. They had the whole dystopian metal look happening, and that intro riff, used in a million songs, but so effective in this song. 

And vocalist Paramore McCarty is one hell of a vocalist. If you haven’t heard Warrior, then you would have heard his singing with Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 2017, he resurfaced with the band “Radiation Romeos” and released an album on Frontiers. If the name sounds familiar, well it appeared in the lyrics of the song “Atomic Playboys”. Musically, it sounds very similar to the song.

And when you want to talk about connections, Robin Crosby from Ratt kick started his career by getting him to sing in his pre-Ratt bands and getting him noticed. 

And Joe Floyd is an excellent guitarist/songwriter. If you’ve seen a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford album, well he is listed in the production credits as either a mixer or engineer.

Immortal enemy, has come to challenge man / Secret science out of control

Who knew the immortal enemy is a virus. We cannot eradicate it, so we need to learn with it.

We are fighting for the earth

But no one is listening. As long as money rules the game, the Earth suffers.

Blood and corruption, hideous crimes / Lying leaders, controlling our minds

It feels like the rich and powerful don’t have to answer to anyone. Rules don’t apply to them. Then you have the news outlets who no one seems to fact check, also spreading lies like our elected leaders.

“Defenders of Creation” starts off with a riff that reminds me of “It’s Not Love” by Dokken. What came first, we will never know.

Leatherwolf – Endangered Species

In Europe it was released as “Leatherwolf” and in America it was released as “Endangered Species”. To confuse matters even more another self-titled album was released in 1987, which is different to this one.

But it was “Streetready” released in 89 that really got me interested in the band and I couldn’t find any of their early stuff at that point in time. But many years later, the internet made sure I did.

And this album is not on Spotify Australia but it’s on YouTube.

Musically, it’s metal the way I know it from a band trying to find where they fit into things. The tracks I like are “Endangered Species”, “Season Of The Witch” and “Leatherwolf”. But better songs would come after.

Mr Mister – Welcome To The Real World

Like Loverboy, but lighter in rock and roll. Like Marillion, but more poppy. Like Toto and their Africa period. Like U2 but not big on the social conscience lyrics.

That’s basically how I described em.

And there was no denying “On Broken Wings”. It was everywhere and I liked it. 134 million streams on Spotify demonstrates how big it is. And maybe because it reminded me of U2, I gravitated to it.

“Kyrie” is another song which still does the rounds at 33 million plus streams. This one reminds me of “Africa” from Toto and Marillion and I like it.

The labels tried their best to break up the band by offering vocalist Richard Page the vocalist gig in Toto to replace Bobby Kimball and then to replace Peter Cetera in Chicago.

But Page refused both offers.

In the end, this album (their second) was its biggest.

Once album number three “ Go On” stalled in sales a few years later, the writing was on the wall. Guitarist Steve Farris left in 88 and the remaining members went to work on album number 4 with session guitarists.  This was ready for release in 1990 but the label refused to release it and that was that. 

John Fogerty – Centrefield

I had no idea at the time the troubles he had with the labels and his old CCR songs but there was no denying that John Fogerty is a star. And the songs, “Vanz Kant Danz” and “Mr Greed” sum it up nicely about his struggles.

That opening lick in “The Old Man Down The Road” gets the foot tapping. Its instant and memorable. “Rock and Roll Girls” transports you back to those 60’s movies, hanging out on the boardwalk. “Mr Greed” is a blues rock slap down of his former label boss and the title track is a 12 bar blues romp. 

And that’s a wrap for 1985 part 6, and I’m off to 1977 for part 6.

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

1985 – Part 5

Megadeth – Killing Is My Business

My relationship with Megadeth started with the “Rust In Peace” album in 1990. That was a wow moment for me, in relation to song construction, guitar playing and pushing the boundaries of thrash metal even further and more progressive.

So I started collecting more Megadeth albums. “So Far So Good So What” and then “Countdown To Extinction” was released. Then I went back to “Peace Sells” and then “Youthanasia” came out.

Then I went back to the debut, and it was the mid 90’s. And I thought it was average. I couldn’t hear a song that I liked but each song had sections/riffs which got me interested. And it infuriated me.

I suppose that’s what you get, when you spend half of your $8K recording budget on drugs and alcohol and then had to fire the producer because you couldn’t afford him, which meant you had to produce the album.

“Loved To Deth” has this open string pull off riff that I like. “Killing Is My Business” is the NWOBHM movement on steroids and speed and other hallucinogens. The first 90 seconds of “The Skull Beneath The Skin” is groove metal mixed with speed. “Rattlehead” is so fast, it’s a speed metal anthem. 

Whatever Metallica was, Megadeth was going to be faster and more aggressive.

“Chosen Ones” has this “Jump In The Fire” style riff and it’s probably their slowest song. “Mechanix” is 4 minutes of relentless anger. And I’m sure everyone knows that this song became “The Four Horseman” when Mustaine was in Metallica. When he played it live with Megadeth at a Sydney concert he merged the two songs and it was a perfect homage to both.

And Mustaine didn’t want to sing, but after spending six months searching for a vocalist, he took on the reins. It was like Deja-vu as James Hetfield also didn’t want to sing, but did it due to a lack of suitable vocalists.  

Savatage – Power Of The Night

There is a Savatage before “Gutter Ballet” and a Savatage post the death of Criss Oliva for me.

This album is pre “Gutter Ballet” and it’s a band trying to find their sound and style. Max Norman is producing. 5 years before, he was doing Ozzy with Randy and 5 years later he would do Megadeth and Lynch Mob albums.

I like the intro riff to “Power Of The Night”. “Hard As Love” has a title which is a product of its time, but while this kind of title would have worked for Danger Danger or Bulletboys, it felt wrong with Savatage. But musically, its brilliant, catchy.

“Fountain Of Youth” is the embryo of what Savatage would become. The musical structure and different grooves would become more prominent on the albums that came after.

But the album is hit and miss in the lyrics department.

Kick Axe – Welcome To The Club

I picked up their first two albums in the 90’s because I saw that Spencer Proffer was involved.

They are a very underrated band from Canada and I like “Welcome To The Club” more than the debut album “Vices”.

“Welcome To The Club” is a different kind of track, rooted in hard rock, but those clean tone arpeggios give the song a very UK Pop sound. Then you have a song like “Feels Good Don’t Stop” which swings, grooves and rocks its way all the way while “Comin’ After You” feels like a Marillion song while “Make Your Move” is a hard rock song through and through.

How good is the intro to “Never Let Go”? And overall, I feel like I am listening to a Y&T cut merged with Triumph.

“Hellraisers” has some serious good riffage in the intro and verses.

“Can’t Take It With You” has those big “I Love It Loud” drums but the riffage and vocal melodies would have given birth to the recent Swedish Melodic Rock movement. It sounds like H.E.A.T built a career on songs like these.

“Too Loud… Too Old” sounds like an unchained and frantic VH song and it also reminds me of a blog I visit regularly called 2Loud2OldMusic.

The way the staccato bass rolls in “Feel The Power” gets the foot tapping. Check out those harmony leads as well.

And the album closes with a cover song, “With A Little Help From My Friends” but even though Lennon and McCartney wrote it, the definitive version is from Joe Cocker.

Keel – The Right To Rock

Gene Simmons is producing under his label Gold Mountain Records while Steve Riley plays drums on the album but left to join WASP.

The band had three songs written before they got sent to the studio (“The Right To Rock”, “Back To The City” and “Electric Love”), so they covered three Gene Simmons demos (“Easier Said Than Done”, “So Many Girls, So Little Time” and “Get Down”) and re-recorded three songs from the debut album (“Speed Demon”, “Tonight You’re Mine” became “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” and the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”).

I still like the intro to “The Right To Rock”, it’s perfect for the time.

“All of my life I’ve been fighting for the right to make my stand” and we are still fighting to make our stand. It will never stop.

“I’m gonna do it my way or not do it all” sounded so easy back then, but as you grow up, you start to realise that it’s not that easy to do things your way and still participate in society. In order to live, you need money and to get money you need to work. If doing things your way, generates money, great, if it doesn’t, then you need to work for someone else and suddenly you are not doing it your way.

“Back To The City” is interchangeable with their other songs and I really like the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”.

The verse riff of the Gene Simmons penned “So Many Girls, So Little Time” is pure heavy metal. “Electric Love” is melodic rock, with Ron Keel delivering a vocal line at 11. “Speed Demon” is pure NWOBHM with Ron Keel again delivering a vocal line at 11. There’s just 11 in his delivery and that’s it. 

“Get Down” is another Simmons cut which feels like a re-write of “I Love It Loud” but lyrically, its dumb. “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” is another cut inspired by the NWOBHM, with fast “Overkill” double kick drumming in the intro.

Even though the album is a mixture of new songs, re-recordings and Gene Simmons penned songs, Keel earned “The Right To Rock” after it.

Also if you’ve seen a Y&T cover on A&M Records, a Foreigner cover or some different posters around the Mad Max and Star Wars movies, then there is a pretty good chance you’ve seen the artwork of John Taylor Dismukes.

Autograph – That’s The Stuff 

Autograph were either loathed or liked. There was no in between.

I liked the first album “Sign In Please” and loathed the second album “That’s The Stuff” which really wasn’t the stuff.

And the second track “Take No Prisoners” is a rewrite of “Turn Up The Radio”. This is an album that is lacking in ideas and very hard to listen to.

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

1985 – Part 3

Here we are for Part 3 of 1985.

WASP – The Last Command

I always thought WASP was huge in the U.S, because they always appeared in magazines.

But they weren’t.

This album and the self-titled debut, got a Gold certification from the RIAA in June 1998, 14 and 13 years after their release. Maybe their claim to fame was due to the controversy of their song titles, lyrics and the overall decadence.

Regardless, WASP has a special place in my music life.

Those opening arpeggios for “Wild Child” hooked me in. And when Blackie tells us he rides the winds that bring the rains, I was interested and the Chorus about being a wild child, so turn the flames higher and be touched and loved.

Well, how can you not like it, even if it doesn’t make sense.

And the Vodka/Budweiser Swilling Chris Holmes breaks out a mean little lick from about 3.50 minutes which brings back memories of the “2 Minutes To Midnight” solo from Maiden, that slow little breakdown section before it picks up again into the intro riff.

How can you not like “Ballcrusher” about a vicious voodoo women who drank all of Blackie’s JD and stole his car?

“Fistful of Diamonds” is Blackie’s social song about the corruption of Wall Street and how the bankers/investors are tied in with the Governments. Because power rules the game. And the power is with the banks. It’s why the Government bailed out the banks when the GFC happened. And the banks gave themselves bonuses and had luxury parties while people lost their homes.

I like the intro to “Widowmaker”. The clean tone section sounds so doomy that when the distortion kicks in, it’s as bleak and dirgey like a Paradise Lost song.

“Blind In Texas” is not my favourite WASP tune, but I do like its high tempo ZZ Top”isms”.

“Cries In The Night” makes me want to pick up the guitar and play it as it moves between acoustic and distortion.

Spencer Proffer was the “producer of the moment” for a few years because of “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot and he was on hand to produce this album, going for crispness in sound.

John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow

How good is the “Rain On The Scarecrow” start?

“Small Town” resonated and was overplayed on radio.

“Lonely Ol’ Night” is excellent and so is the reggae appropriated “The Face Of The Nation”.

“Between A Laugh And A Tear” sounds like a cross between Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen done Mellencamp style.

“You’ve To Stand For Something” is the best song on the album for me. Lyrically, its excellent, dropping cultural references in each verse. And how much truth is in the Chorus.

“You’ve got to stand for something or you will fall for anything”.

And the album closes with “R.O.C.K In The U.S.A”, a track which transports your mind to the 60’s even though you didn’t live it.

Dio – Sacred Heart

The trilogy ends with the Mark 1 Dio band.

The first two were definitely a lot more fun than the third. ‘Sacred Heart’ was a very very difficult record to make for many reasons. I also think that musically it’s a little overly complex for the band. I think we started to kind of wander off course a bit.

I know that Jimmy and Vinny feel the same about that. It was a more difficult record to write and it was a more difficult record to record.

Ronnie was going through some very dark personal issues at the time; he was separating from his wife Wendy who was also the manager of the band. But Ronnie was in a very very dark place and he wasn’t easy to be around at that time. Ronnie was also producing the record…that made it exceptionally difficult for everyone involved. So that was a dark time.

Maybe that kind of clouds my being able to reflect objectively on that record, I don’t have great feelings for that record. But ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Last in Line’ are two great records. They were very easy to write, they were very easy to record.”
Vivian Campbell

Vivian Campbell would be fired mid-tour, replaced by Craig Goldy. This led to Campbell and Dio going after each other in the press. Campbell would then disappoint a lot of his fans (the same way Gary Moore did ) when he said that he hated all the three albums he did with Dio (the same way Gary Moore said he hated all of his rock records) but in the last few years, Campbell has made amends with his past and acknowledged his heritage.

“King Of Rock N Roll”, “Hungry For Heaven” and “Sacred Heart” are classic Dio songs.

“Rock N Roll Children” rivals “Rainbow In The Dark”. “Like The Beat Of My Heart” has a solo section that makes me play air guitar. “Just Another Day” has a classic up-tempo riff with a classic Dio vocal melody.

And to finish off, how good is the intro to “Hide In The Rainbow”. Another Kashmir like groove to close off an album with a shred-a-licious solo.

And the album is more mature and the arrangements a bit more complex, but it’s still a worthy album.

Vandenberg – Alibi

The last album before Adrian put the band on hold, joined Whitesnake for a decade, disappeared from the scene for about a decade and a half, then tried to resurrect Vandenberg and was told he couldn’t by his ex-bandmates, so Vandenberg became Vandenberg’s Moonkings and in 2020, its Vandenberg again.

“All The Way” kicks it off, with its arena rock riffs and chorus. The way Vandenberg decorates the verses, is Hendrix guitar hero stuff, moving between power chords, arpeggios, single note melodic lines.

Did the Def Leppard guys listen to “Once In A Lifetime” and then went away to write “Hysteria”? Then again these kind of progressions started to become common.

“Voodoo” has an intro and verse riff which reminds me of Michael Schenker. “Dressed To Kill” has a speed metal riff in the vein of Deep Purple’s “Speed King” and “Highway Star”.

“Fighting Against The World” is that classic Euro Rock I like which reminds me of the Uli Jon Roth “Scorpions” era. And Adrian, brings out the guitar hero in him for the lead break.

“How Long” is one of those ballads that moves between rock and classical in the arpeggios and chord voicings.

“Alibi” sounds like it came from the 70’s. Actually “Because Of You” from Storm Force has this same feel in the verses.

The very “Into The Arena” sounding “Kamikaze” closes off the album.

Marillion – Misplaced Childhood

They came into my headspace when Michael Portnoy from Dream Theater kept talking about em in a lot of interviews that he did in the early 90’s. And when I checked em out, Steve Rothery entered my life as an influence.

And this album is a monster.

The synth riff to kick of “Pseudo Silk Kimono” is haunting. And Fish is unique with his vocals and his lyrical phrasing/messages, something that Geoff Tate would take and run with as well.

“Pseudo Silk Kimono” moves into the beautiful strummed guitar for “Kayleigh”, before the arpeggios start and Fish starts singing “Do you remember?”.

And the lead break in “Kayleigh” is so melodic, melancholic and hopeful at the same time.

“Kayleigh” segues into “Lavender” with its major key piano riff.

“Bitter Suite” has this section from 3.45 which always gets me to pay attention when it comes along. “Heart Of Lothian” and “Waterhole” contrast each other between slow and fast tempo’s. “Lords Of The Backstage” sounds like a certain Rush song. And when the 9 plus minute “Blind Curve” begins, I am intoxicated by the various moods of the song and the album overall.

The U2 influenced “Childhoods End” just keeps adding to the variety of the album. And it’s a big reason why I like Marillion. The variety. You get a mix of so many different styles.

Helloween – Walls Of Jericho

The Helloween guys kept on saying that they were like Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden, only faster.

And they sure were.

Helloween came into my life because of the song “I Want Out” a few years later and that got me interested to check em out. This album came in various editions. The track listing on this one is from the 1987 edition. Hell, due to a manufacturing error, one of the sides on several cassette copies had the music of Celtic Frost’s “To Mega Therion” on it. And it confused a lot of people.

This is the only album to feature guitarist Kai Hansen on lead vocals as well.

“Warrior” starts off with the same machine gun noises and bomb explosions that Metallica also uses for “One” when they play it live.

The lead breaks in each of the songs are songs within songs compositions, moving between classical influences like Uli Jon Roth Scorpions era and Pentatonic/Modal influences like Michael Schenker UFO era, merged between Iron Maiden’s NWOBHM sounds. Just faster.

“Victim Of Fate” sounds like it came from an Iron Maiden jam session with riffs that remind me of “Phantom Of The Opera”. Just faster.

And after 2 minutes of 150km speeds, the song slows down like a traffic jam. This part of the song is my favourite, as it starts to build up again.

And the lead break that follows gets me playing air guitar. Then it picks up again to a harmonized lead break.

Like “Phantom Of The Opera”. Just faster.

And there is another open string harmony lead break to close the song off. But it didn’t, because with 40 seconds to go, a new lead break was created.

And by the end of the 6 minutes, a classic Helloween song is born and Power Metal with it.

“Cry For Freedom” has this haunting acoustic guitar riff to start it off. “Walls Of Jericho/Ride The Sky” starts off with a trumpet version of “London Bridge Is Falling Down” before a blistering speed metal riff kicks in (which is the start of “Ride The Sky”) to rival anything thrash related that Metallica was doing at that point in time.

“Reptile” sounds like an unfinished demo from “Piece Of Mind”. Only faster.

“Guardians” is patient zero of the Power Metal pandemic. It has it all, the fast riffs, the soaring vocals, the progressive time changes in the solo section and the major key “battle cry” Chorus.

“Phantoms Of Death” sounds like the “The One Riff To Rule Em All” which is known as the “Two Minutes To Midnight” riff but it goes back to the 70’s because it was that common. And a harmony lead break which reminds me of “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”. Only faster.

“Gorgar” has this head banging riff that reminds me of Accept. This is the song, which is the slowest on the album. And Wikipedia tells me that “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” is referenced here. Similar to how Accept referenced Beethoven in “Metal Heart”.

And you know the wrestler Chris Jericho who is also the singer in a band called Fozzy, well he took his name and wrestling manoeuvre from the title of this album.

And into the time machine we go for 1977 – Part 3.

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

1985 – Part 2

With a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor, the year is set for 1985.

Here we go.

Bon Jovi – 7800 Fahrenheit

JBJ hates this album as none of the songs get played live anymore. But to the fans who were there before “Slippery When Wet”, they either like it, understand it or ignore it.

For me, the band needed to get this album written as it pushed the melodic rock/metal sound from the debut to the limit, so a new clean slate was needed.

Check out the melodic guitar work of Richie Sambora on tracks like “The Price Of Love”, “Only Lonely”, “The Hardest Part Is The Night” and “Always Run To You”. And when it comes to balls to the wall riffing, “Tokyo Road”, “In And Out Of Love” and “King Of The Mountain” showcase that AC/DC vibe. The only track I don’t like is “Silent Night”.

Stryper – Soldiers Under Command

I heard “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” on a “Headbangers Heaven” compilation and I became a fan because of the riffs.

“Soldiers Under Command” (the track) is a metal tour de force. That intro riff, influenced by Judas Priest is excellent. “Makes Me Wanna Sing” is another song influenced by Judas Priest and their song “Running Wild”. Then again, so is Maiden with “The Wicker Man” intro riff.

“First Love” is a cool ballad. Probably one of their best ones, but it doesn’t get the dues it deserves because bigger cheesy ballads came after which got some MTV love.

“Waiting For A Love That’s Real” reminds me of “Faithfully” from Journey and “Purple Rain” from Prince, but in a rocking way. And the lead break in this song is guitar hero worthy.

“Surrender” is one of my favourite tracks. It’s got this progressive metal/power metal vibe in the vocals.

The riffs are excellent.

Y&T – Down For The Count

I played this album a few days ago for my boys. They are 15 and 14. And they started pressing “like” and saving songs to their playlists. Songs like “Summertime Girls”, “Anytime At All”, “Hands Of Time” and “In The Name Of Rock”.

I guess there is something about this album that makes 14/15 year old teens like it.

From a guitar point of view “Hands Of Time” stood out straight away and I still like it.

And the band that we knew as Y&T was on their way to breaking up. Leonard Haze would depart after this album and Joey Alves would depart after their 87 “Contagious” album. The fan base would also move on and there wasn’t enough new fans replacing the ones moving on.

Night Ranger – Seven Wishes

“Midnight Madness” is my favourite Night Ranger album, but “Seven Wishes” really tried to compete with it.

After this album, Night Ranger never captured that attitude and energy they had on the first three albums. And you know the saying, your attitude determines your altitude.

The guitar solos on “Seven Wishes” are wow. “Faces” has an awesome synth inspired chorus. “Four In The Morning” has an addictive vocal melody and the guitar leads, man, if they don’t get you playing air guitar, please check yourself for a pulse.

“If “I Need A Woman” was recorded by Robert Palmer, it would have been number 1.

“Sentimental Street” and the solo from Brad Gillis. Triple A, all the way.

“This Boy Needs To Rock” gets that rocking vibe happening again and another guitar solo that makes me play air guitar.

“Night Machine” has some cool guitar riffage and another Triple A lead break.

And I don’t know why these Night Ranger albums are not on Spotify. It’s the dumbest move ever to withhold em, unless you are in dispute with the label about what you should be paid.

Rush – Power Windows

Even if you don’t like the music, you would like the stories in the lyrics.

“Big Money” goes around the world, spreading greed and consuming all. “Big Money” weaves a mighty web and draws the flies. In “Grand Designs” there is so much poison in power.

The “Manhattan Project” tells us about a weapon that would settle the score and how the big bang shook the world at the Rising Sun.

“Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world, than the pride that divides when a colourful rag is unfurled” is classic Neil Peart from the song “Territories”.

In “Middletown Dreams”, dreams transport the ones who need to get out of town.

Accept – Metal Heart

Critics panned it, but hey, who listens to critics. The record label told them it’s a dud because it didn’t reach or outsell their previous efforts. But it’s my favourite Accept record.

“Metal Heart” has this open string riff, which defines the song. Lyrically, it’s 1999 and the human race needs to face some mysterious truth, like “judgement day” style, man versus machine.

Even when Metal bands tried to be serious or sound serious they still ended up sounding comedic.

With the Beethoven licks in the solo, you either like it or hate it.

“Midnight Mover” is basically Scorpions. The arpeggio lick/riff in the intro gets me interested. The single note riffs with pinch harmonics in the verse keeps the interest going. And even though the Chorus sounds very AOR, it’s still heavy metal.

Finally the lead break.

Wolf Hoffman doesn’t get the guitar hero crowns he deserves.

“Up To The Limit” is basically AC/DC. The bass from Peter Baltes just rolls along in the verses, while Hoffman and Fischer play staccato like power chords.

“Wrong Is Right” is basically Judas Priest. That verse riff could have come from the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

“Screaming For A Love Bite” is a terrible title for a song, but I suppose that’s what makes it memorable. I’ve always enjoyed it when metal bands take major key riffs and put them into their mix. In keeping with themes of other bands, this one could have fitted nicely on a Journey album, even a Night Ranger album.

And like that Side 1 ends, with no filler whatsoever.

Side 2 kicks off with the very AC/DC sounding “Too High To Get It Right”. And how can you not like it, especially that gang like vocal in the Chorus.

“Dogs On Leads” is so underrated and also in the vein of AC/DC. The bass just rumbles while Hoffman plays jangly chords before it kicks into overdrive. Again, the gang like vocals are so loud, they remain with me long after the song is finished.

“Teach Us To Survive” sounds like it came from a Pink Panther movie. Jazz fusion metal.

Artist’s used to do this on albums before, like write a song that was a bit out there, but still rooted in metal. Then when albums became a two to three year cycle, it changed. Suddenly artists either played it safe and stayed true to what came before or they went completely different for the whole next album, not just for a track or two.

“Living For Tonite” has this pulsing bass, guitar and drum groove.

How can you not like it?

“Bound To Fail” is basically a power metal tune in the intro, but when the verses roll around, it’s got that blues rock swagger in the Chorus that Guns N Roses would bring to the masses on “Welcome To The Jungle”.

Again, how can you not like it?

And that’s a wrap for 1985, Part 2.

See you in 1977.

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

1985 – V1

Two releases come to mind immediately for 1985, that I can never forget. They are “Live After Death” from Iron Maiden and “Come Out And Play” from Twisted Sister. I’ve written about these albums before and will probably keep on writing about them.

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

It’s the best live album ever and my first proper exposure to Iron Maiden, as prior to this it was just the few video clips I taped from the music TV shows.

Because this was my first proper exposure, I got to hear Bruce Dickinson sing the DiAnno era songs before Paul DiAnno and I didn’t know it at the time, but the tempo of the songs had a small increase compared to the recorded versions. So when I eventually got to the first two albums, DiAnno’s voice (along with Blaze Bayley many years later) proved to be a struggle, but when Bruce did those songs live, wow.

P.S.

Maiden hit the bullseye again with the “Rock In Rio” release, especially the live footage in the DVD release. And on that “Rock In Rio”, Bruce Dickinson also gave the Blaze era songs a new life.

P.S.S.

Maiden did it again with “Flight 666” which is a great memento for me for the two nights I watched em perform the same set.

Twisted Sister – Come Out And Play

I just remember dropping the needle on this, laying in my bed, reading the lyrics of each song and looking at the graffiti art on the back cover.

So what was happening in the Twisted Sister department?

By the time this album hit, Twisted Sister was on an album per year cycle and while the “Stay Hungry” album was written during the recording of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”, this one was written after the “Stay Hungry” tour.

And it didn’t sell as much as “Stay Hungry” and “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll”, because everyone were still buying those albums.

And just because the sale didn’t match the label expectations, it didn’t mean that this album is not a quality album.

But I wasn’t a fan of the singles like “Leader Of The Pack” and “Be Cruel To Your School”. All of the other tracks definitely resonated and the bonus track “King Of Fools” is one of my favourite Sister tracks. But those two singles proved to be a bad decision.

And they didn’t soften their sound just because they made it with “Stay Hungry”. They came out all guns blazing with the title track and “The Fire Still Burns” is a speed metal classic.

Dee said to “join our cavalcade” and join I did.

P.S.

But the cavalcade that jumped on the ship with “Stay Hungry” didn’t all come back in 1985, but they would return ten fold in the 2000’s.

P.S.S.

One more album later in 1987 and the band would cease to be until the 2000’s.

Dokken – Under Lock And Key

It was the “Unchain The Night” video release which got me interested. My cousin Mega dubbed it off some other guy who dubbed it off some other guy. And I dubbed it off my cousin. The video sounded dodgy, with that white noise effect running in the background, due to it being copied so many times.

So I didn’t get this album until two years later, because the cover didn’t scream out “buy me” either.

There are songs which do sound like they are written for the charts, but its tracks like “Unchain The Night”, “Lightning Strikes Again”, “Will The Sun Rise” and “Till The Living End” which showcase the metal side of the band and still to this day, stand out as favourites. And when you add the rock tracks like “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams”, “Its Not Love” and “Don’t Lie To Me”, well, you have a pretty solid little album even though it was made from punch-a-thons, arguments and arm wrestles.

P.S.
Pilson likes this album, but in a recent interview he said that “Tooth And Nail” is his favourite. And he had a co-write in all of those tracks. The true unsung hero of Dokken.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Marching Out

One of the bands I was in, the co-guitarist was a devoted Yngwie fan. He would make fun at my tastes of guitarists because according to him, none of them came even close to the maestro level of Malmsteen. It was this elitism from him that made me hate Malmsteen at the start, but I also understood that in my journey to be a guitar player, I would need to check out some of the Malmsteen recordings.

And.

This is a good album.

Jeff Scott Soto on vocals brings it on songs like “I’ll See The Light Tonight”, “Don’t Let It End” and “Caught In The Middle” which he also co-wrote with the man known as the Fury. The other standout to me is “On The Run Again” which Malmsteen originally wrote while he was in Steeler with Ron Keel. At the time it was called “Victim Of The City”.

And I became a fan up to the “Fire And Ice” album. As soon as grunge hit and his albums were not available in Australia, he wasn’t on my radar anymore. I’ve heard a few albums since on Spotify and I can honestly say those 80’s and early 90’s albums are the go to albums for me.

P.S
Malmsteen would use JSS for one more album, “Trilogy”, and then many years later would diss him by saying that he (Malmsteen) came up with everything and JSS did nothing.

P.S.S.
Malmsteen is the fury.

Motley Crue – Theater of Pain

Only two video clips came out to support the album. And it was enough because the Crue generated enough controversy to remain in the press permanently.

“Louder Than Hell”, “Tonight”, the Bad Company sounding “Raise Your Hands To Rock”, “Fight For Your Rights” and “Save Our Souls” are some of my favorites.

Even tracks like “Keep Your Eye On The Money” and “City Boy Blues” are worthy tracks. So to me, there isn’t really any filler on this album. Actually I would put “Smokin In The Boys Room” as a filler track.

P.S

Was there really an imposter pretending to be Nikki Sixx during this period?

P.S.S.

Mick Mars, riffs away on this album and he’s playing is so underrated, it’s criminal. And Tommy Lee is a pocket drummer, something he doesn’t get enough credit for.

Ratt – Invasion Of Your Privacy

“Lay Me Down” and “You’re In Love” sold this album as the clips got a lot of TV time in Australia.

And when you drop the needle on it, you are greeted with a triple knockout punch. It kicks off with that LA Sunset riff for “You’re In Love” and it moves to “Never Use Love” and “Lay It Down”.

P.S.

The album came out too early as “Out Of The Cellar” was still selling a lot, so people would have had to choose between those albums. In other words, Ratt and their label cannibalized their sales.

P.S.S.

It’s a solid album.

And that’s it for 1985 part 1. Now I’m off to 1977.

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

1985 Continued

I couldn’t afford to purchase the earlier Maiden albums as there was music from other bands I felt I needed more. But Maiden just kept on lasting and kept on being in the magazines. So I purchased the “Live After Death” set.

“Live After Death” is my best Iron Maiden album, purely because it was the first Maiden album I got (on double cassette), and I played it over and over and over again. So the quicker tempo of the songs compared to the studio cuts works for me and it’s how I remember the songs.

It’s a best off collection, recorded live. You didn’t need to own the first five albums to hear the best songs from those albums. All of them are available on “Live After Death”. Read this review/experience of the World Slavery tour in 1985

But the Maiden albums have a certain context. My kids have grown up with everything available online. But back in the Eighties, the only way to get the albums was to find someone who owned them.

Recently I purchased 5 tickets for Iron Maiden’s Sydney show in May 2016. I am taking my 10, 9 and 4 year olds, along with my wife to watch the mighty Maiden. They haven’t really listened to Iron Maiden, so in order to get them into the Maiden music, I put the “Live After Death” and “Flight 666” albums onto their iPad’s. It’s good to hear them cranking “The Trooper” constantly. A good song is a good song, regardless of age.

Moving on, I didn’t get into “Misplaced Childhood” until the Nineties, when I picked up the first four Marillion albums from a second-hand record shop. It was the album covers that got me interested in laying out some money for them, which wasn’t a lot. From memory I am pretty sure I paid $2 for each album. I knew nothing about the sound of the band or even about the band. It’s safe to say that Marillion didn’t get a lot of love in the magazines I purchased.

How good is the piano riff in “Pseudo Silk Kimono”, which then leads into “Kayleigh”?

When it comes to guitarists, Steve Rothery has no pretty boy looks like George Lynch, Marty Friedman, Robin Crosby or Richie Sambora. He’s no super star shredder like Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Warren DeMartini or John Sykes. What he is, is a damn good songwriter and decorator like The Edge from U2.

Marillion songs are all about moods, and Rothery decorates the moods very nicely. When the song needs to lift, Rothery phrases his leads to lift the song. When the song needs emotion, he does the same. When the song needs to rock, Rothery is there to make it rock.

From a guitarist point of view, Kayleigh was enough to get me interested.

RATT’s “Invasion Of Your Privacy” was another album that came into my collection towards the end of 1990. I never owned any RATT albums in the Eighties and up until then RATT was known as a singles band to me.

“Round and Round”, “Back For More”, “Wanted Man”, “Your’e In Love”, “Lay it Down”, “Dance”, “Way Cool Junior” all come to mind. I knew of the songs and I had them recorded on a cassette by a mate.  So upon hearing “Invasion Of Your Privacy” I still hold my view that RATT is not a band you purchase for the full album experience.

Apart from “You’re In Love” and “Lay It Down” there is nothing much else on the album to grab you. “Closer To The Heart” is a cool ballad. “Never Use Love” has a cool guitar riff in the intro. “What You Give Is What You Get” is almost up there with the two singles however the rest is garbage. A pure cash grab by the record label to capitalise on the success of “Out Of The Cellar”.

I purchased “Killing Is My Business” from Megadeth after “Countdown To Extinction” came out in 1992. I hated the debut back then and I still don’t like it today (compared to other albums that came out in 1985 and against Megadeth’s other output) however I appreciate the album for what it is though.

It is Dave’s F.U to Metallica for kicking him out.

He’s mixed his anger and resentment with coke, heroin, pills and alcohol and the output is the debut album. And because of this nostalgic viewpoint I have for the album, I return to it, listen to it and each time there are bits and pieces that I dig. Not full songs, just little bits and pieces of a song or a riff. Combat Records built their business on the back of Megadeth. No Megadeth, no Combat and no take over from Sony, many years later.

When I saw Megadeth live in Australia with the Mustaine, Drover brothers and Lomenzo version, they started off playing “Mechanix” and half way through “Mechanix”, they went into “Four Horseman” from Metallica. The crowd went nuts. Mustaine even sang the “Four Horseman” lyrics that Hetfield wrote.

As good as Yngwie Malmsteen is as a guitarist, if he doesn’t have a great vocalist behind him and if the songs are lame, then he is crap. “Marching Out” to me is a classic Euro Metal tour de force. From the opening “I’ll See The Light” to the closing “Marching Out”, I was enthralled and glued to the headphones.

Jeff Scott Soto on vocals nails it, and on “Don’t Let It End” and “On The Run Again” Malmsteen and Co. proved just how commercial and poppy they could get. The “Trilogy” album from 1986 with Soto on vocals built on that commercialism and 1988’s “Odyssey” with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals cemented it.

As soon as Bon Jovi crossed over with “Slippery When Wet” it would be natural for fans to snap up their back catalogue. I was first exposed to the “7800 Fahrenheit” album by the VHS video, “Breakout” which I traded in the Nineties for the Def Leppard “Hysteria” TAB/NOTES book.

“In And Out Of Love” kicked off the video, then “Only Lonely”, then “Silent Night”, then “She Don’t Know Me” and “Runaway” (the last two being from the debut album). Finally there was a live performance of “The Hardest Part Is the Night”.

I loved it. I was hooked, so I purchased the “7800 Fahrenheit” album, while my cousin Mega purchased the debut album. Once we got home, I dubbed the debut album from my cousin, and my cousin dubbed “7800 Fahrenheit” from me.

We couldn’t afford everything, so we copied and shared music with each other.

Now “In And Out Of Love” and “Only Lonely” are pretty good songs. “Silent Night” not so good. But man, the rest of the songs are just as good, if not better.

“The Price Of Love” is brilliant and Sambora really goes to town in the solo.  “Hardest Part Is The Night” and “Always Run To You” are up there as well. “Secret Dreams”, “To The Fire”, “Tokyo Road” and “King Of The Mountain” are not throwaway songs either. It’s a shame that due to what came after with Bon Jovi, the second album started to get lost to the sands of time.

When I started to read some interviews about Whitesnake around 1987/88, I came across how Adrian Vandenberg and Vivian Campbell became the guitarists that replaced John Sykes. I was a fan of Vivian Campbell from his Dio days and Vandenberg was an unknown to me, so my natural inclination was that David Coverdale would use Vivian as his main songwriter for the follow up album.

Well that didn’t happen. Coverdale holed up with Vandenberg and Campbell was out. So I became interested. Who was Adrian Vandenberg?

A trip to the second hard record shop ended with a copy of “Alibi” from Vandenberg.

While on the topic of Whitesnake, I must say that not a lot of information was known about artists. The U.S mags came to Australia 3 months too late and priced at a price that we couldn’t afford. So we didn’t really purchase them.

Case in point is Vivian Campbell. All I knew about Vivian in the Eighties was the “Holy Diver” album. MTV and the other TV music outlets played nothing from the “The Last In Line” and “Sacred Heart” albums.

It was “Dream Warriors” that made the connection. I knew that my cousin Mega had some albums from Dokken, so I stocked up on blank cassettes for my next visit. “Under Lock And Key” was one album that came back with me along with “The Last Command” from WASP.

For Dokken, it was “Unchain The Night”, “Lightning Strikes Again” and “In My Dreams” that made the connection. “Don’t Lie To Me” and “Til The Living End” also connected. My kids crank “In My Dreams” from time to time. So it’s nice to see Dokken get new fans.

It’s funny that Motley Crue’s “Theatre Of Pain” gets more press than Dokken’s “Under Lock And Key”. One album is far superior than the other but “Under Lock And Key” has been forgotten.

For WASP it was “Wild Child”, “Widowmaker” and “Cries In The Night” that made the connection. And lucky for me, I had a cousin who spent a lot on recorded music and was more than happy to share his love of bands with others. Since 1985, Blackie Lawless has made thirteen albums. His major label deal is thirty years in the past. He’s never had a hit and his voice is far from perfect. But Blackie is still out there, writing, recording, releasing music and touring.

The film clips for “Calling On You” and “Free” started doing the rounds, so the “To Hell With The Devil” album was in my lounge room. By default, the music stations started to play the “Soldiers Under Command” video and I was blown away. I then purchased a Headbangers Heaven Double LP compilation and Stryper had a song on it called “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” and I was pretty impressed at how metal Stryper could get.

However, I didn’t own any full albums, so Stryper (like RATT) became a singles band at first. Then I was at the Saturday markets and I saw the “Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell With The Devil” albums for $10 each. Lucky for me, I had family members around that could give me the extra cash to purchase these after much negotiating.

“Soldiers Under Command” and “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” are both classic metal songs.

A friend of my brothers had Night Ranger’s “Midnight Madness” on cassette, which he allowed me to copy. He was always funny when it came to sharing music he purchased. His view was that we should purchase the music, instead of leaching from him, however when you don’t have the funds to purchase, what are you supposed to do.

Anyway, “Midnight Madness” is a great record from start to finish, so I was interested in finding out more about Night Ranger. Enter “Seven Wishes”, another purchase from a second-hand record store. It wasn’t as good as “Midnight Madness”. Three songs connected with me from the outset and still to this day, it is those same three songs. “Seven Wishes”, “Four In The Morning” and “Sentimental Street”.

I didn’t know it in the Eighties, but in the Nineties, Y&T became one of my favourite bands, as I managed to pick up all of their albums up to “Ten” from that same second-hand record shop.

“Down For The Count” came out in 1985. Hearing this album almost 10 years after its release date proved to be an experience. Seriously, how fucking good is Dave Meniketti. Great voice, great lead player, great songwriter.

“In The Name Of Rock”, “Anytime At All”, “Summertime Girls”, “Face Of An Angel” and “Hands Of Time” are total keepers and still stand the test of time. The rest not so much. Also here is one for all of those people who have jumped on the plagiarism wagon. How familiar is the intro riff from “Don’t Tell Me What To Wear” to “Blackout” from Scorpions? I call that inspiration.

Y&T’s journey just kept on evolving, from a more blues rock vibe to a very melodic rock vibe.

“R.O.C.K In the USA” was all over the music video channels in Australia. John Cougar Mellencamp was huge. But the whole album experience didn’t come until I purchased “Scarecrow” from that same second-hand record shop in the Nineties for next to nothing. It’s chock full of hits and great songs.

The best part of the grunge movement for me is that I hated it when it hit the Australian shores. Because of my hate for grunge and industrial and alternative at that time, the second-hand record store became my favourite place. It gave me a chance to get re-acquainted with the music from the Seventies and the Eighties that I couldn’t afford to buy growing up.

“Asylum” from Kiss was another album that came into my collection in the early nineties.

My Kiss purchases started with “Hot In The Shade” (upon release), “Revenge” (first I dubbed it from a friend and then purchased the original), “Lick It Up” (from a second-hand store) and “Alive III” (again I dubbed it from the same friend who gave me “Revenge” and then I purchased the CD).

So years after their initial impact, Kiss was a different band. On board was lead guitarist Bruce Kulick and a committee of songwriters in Desmond Child, Jean Beauvoir, Howard Rice, Rod Swenson and Wes Beech. Jean Beauvoir even played bass guitar on his co-writes, “Who Wants to Be Lonely” and “Uh! All Night”. As Paul Stanley noted in his bio, Gene Simmons was disinterested in the band during this period, so by default, Stanley took the band into more glam rock territory. He did what he had to do to survive.

“Asylum” was the answer and it kept Kiss relevant.

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Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1985

Coming into 1985, Quiet Riot, still had constant MTV rotation with “Cum On Feel The Noize” released in 1983. Judas Priest was also all over the channels with “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Twisted Sister’s anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” along with Ratt’s “Round and Round” also had constant rotation. Scorpions and Motley Crue also had constant MTV rotation with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Looks that Kill”. Meanwhile, Van Halen’s “Jump” crossed over into the mainstream.

So it was safe to say that metal and rock bands were showing the music world that metal works well in a singles orientated format.

Music videos became the new tool to sell music. Suddenly we listened with our eyes and ears. “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” music video became another MTV favourite. It went under the radar from PMRC and it also kept with the mid-eighties theme of metal/rock music as a liberator to teen oppression.

The follow-up “Home Sweet Home,” showed that rock and metal was really a singles games. When the song blew up on MTV, the sales of the “Theatre of Pain” album, went through the roof. Yep, a single was selling the album.

That’s not to say that the “Theatre Of Pain” album is a bad one, it’s just that the other songs on the album where either not as good as the songs that came before or the message/tone of the songs were too deep or dark at that point in time.

Tonight (We Need a Lover)”,” Save Our Souls”, “Louder Than Hell” and “Fight for Your Rights” proved that the “Shout At The Devil” metal vibe was alive and well in the Crue. “Raise Your Hands to Rock” should have been a crossover smash but it wasn’t as the Crue was told to go back into the recording studio and capitalise on the interest that MTV had brought to the band.

“Who wrote the Bible, Who set the laws, Are we left to history’s flaws” ….. from “Fight For Your Rights”

The ones in power did. Otherwise, who the hell gives a bunch of politician housewives a say as to what should be allowed or banned. In case you lived under a rock, 1985 was also the year that a lot of different sporadic events came together in a big way.

The PMRC Satanic Panic was in full swing, with the Filthy Fifteen List and the Senate Congressional hearings. More than anything, this brought metal and rock music even more to the masses. While artists did fight for their rights, a lot of other artists had no idea what was happening.

“I was Young and restless, Living on the edge of a dream, When someone somewhere said, Ya just gotta believe”….. from “Raise Your Hands To Rock”

That is what the metallers did. They believed in their music, their songs and their lifestyles. The below quote is from “The Guardian”;

“By the time 1985 hit, thrash metal itself was off to a healthy head start, beginning several years prior with the rise of the Bay Area titans-to-be Metallica, Exodus and Megadeth, LA’s Slayer and New York City’s Anthrax. That year saw Exodus release “Bonded by Blood”, which remains their most hallowed work. Anthrax released “Spreading the Disease”, their first album to feature legendary vocalist Joey Belladonna. Slayer unleashed “Hell Awaits” upon the unwitting masses. Megadeth released their brazen debut, “Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good!” while frontman Dave Mustaine’s former bandmates in Metallica were holed up writing the follow-up to 1984’s “Ride the Lightning”, an album that would become 1986’s watershed “Master of Puppets”.

It was a shame that in four years’ time, it would get so commercialised, conformist and fake, that it managed to relegate itself into the back ground by 1994.

Continuing on with 1985 releases, how do you follow-up a multi-platinum album and two iconic MTV video clips?

That was the predicament Twisted Sister was in when Dee Snider sat down to write the songs that would be released on “Come Out And Play”. Bob Ezrin was interested in producing and after hearing the rough versions, opted out. Dieter Dierks from Scorpions fame was brought in instead.

Now, I need to get this out in the open. The two worst songs on the album are “Leader of the Pack” and “Be Cruel to Your School” (screw the misspelling). I wasn’t even going to buy the album and then my cousin “Mega” played me “The Fire Still Burns”, “Out On The Streets”, “I Believe in Rock N Roll” and the title track “Come Out And Play”. I was sold and laid out my hard-earned dollars.

What an album?

What was the label and Dee thinking, leading off with two gimmicky tracks, especially in a time when metal music started to fragment into different genres?

Seriously, the three singles from the album had to be, “Come Out And Play”, “I Believe In Rock N Roll” and “The Fire Still Burns”. It would have satisfied all of the genres.

“Come Out And Play” was already set up to have a Warriors themed video clip in my opinion, while “I Believe In Rock N Roll” in my eyes was set up to have a court inspired PMRC theme. And finish it all off with a live rendition of “The Fire Still Burns” and ka-chow.

But it wasn’t to be.

“When you laugh and put us down, you’re tryin’ to cover up your fears”….. From “You Want What We Got”

“Every day, I work so hard, Every day, I’m dealt the cards, Every day, I’m told exactly what to do”….. From “I Believe In Rock N Roll”

Success really is addictive and once your personality is consumed by your value of ‘what you do’, instead of ‘who you are’, you are most likely to continue to follow that intoxication and believe that you are invincible.”
Jay Jay French

If you are a fan of Twisted Sister, you would know about the “invincibility” of Dee Snider after “Stay Hungry” crossed over.

“I’m just another number, Somethin’ just ain’t right”….. from “Out On The Streets”

A decade of struggling to make it led to a burnout. Dee Snider would quit and go solo in 1987. In the end he was just a number to the record label machine. Another rocker used up and spat out down at “Chainsaw Charlies” morgue.

“They always told me I must try to be, like everyone in the nation”…. From “Lookin Out For Number 1”

Conforming leads to expectations and in my opinion, expectation is a burden that kills creativity. Dee always wrote the draft of the next album, while mixing was happening on the previous album. For example, during Under The Blade mixing, Dee wrote the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” album. During the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” album mixing, Dee wrote the “Stay Hungry” album. During the “Stay Hungry” album mixing, Dee wrote nothing.

 

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Deja-Vu. 2011 vs. 2013 with Dream Theater and Trivium – Random Thoughts on their new songs

It’s like déjà vu again. In 2011, I was listening to new songs from Trivium and Dream Theater. Trivium had just unleashed In Waves as its promotional single for the In Waves album and Dream Theater had unleashed On The Backs of Angels as its promotional single for the A Dramatic Turn of Events album.

I remember listening to both songs back then and taking into account both of the band’s position in the musical landscape. Dream Theater to me, had the most to prove, as this music would be their first without founder Mike Portnoy.

In my opinion In Waves is a stronger song than On The Backs of Angels. The song wins all the time. I was listening to Images and Words yesterday and the reason why that album is awesome 21 years after its release is the songs. Learning To Live, Metropolis and Take The Time are progressive as hell, but man, I can physically hum the whole songs to anyone including the progressive interludes.

Images and Words is Dream Theater. That album represented what Dream Theater are all about and it set in motion everything that was to come. This new album is self-titled, therefore it should represent what Dream Theater is all about.

Anyway I digress, going back to my 2011 experiences. In relation to the albums, both of them had a six week U.S sale run (physical sales) and then disappeared. Will history repeat itself? I think so.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

Trivium – In Waves
Week 1 – ending 17 Aug 2011 – 20,640 units sold
Week 2 – ending 24 Aug 2011 – 6,700 units sold
Week 4 – ending 07 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold
Week 5 – ending 14 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold

Artists are so scared if an album under performs these days. WHY? The album sales figures quoted above is not the metric to judge success on. Dream Theater have hardly sold any music in South America, however they play to their biggest crowds there. I wonder how that came to be?

As Nicko McBrain said in Flight 666 The Movie, Iron Maiden hasn’t sold an album in Costa Rica, however they are playing a stadium show that is sold out with 30,000 people attending. Put it down to piracy, file sharing, Bit Torrent or copyright infringement. The bottom line is this, if what you create is great, expect it to be shared.

Before the Internet, before YouTube, before streaming services like Spotify, fans had to own the music to hear it. That is no longer the case. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips. Fans are participating in this new arena, while artists and labels are still banging their heads against the wall judging success by album sales.

Even Mike Portnoy asked fans to buy The Winery Dogs as a show of support to the label and to show to them that this project is viable. Why does he care about sales? Look at all his posts, show after show. He is blown away at the reaction they are getting. Isn’t that the validation he should be seeking?

So here we are in 2013. We have Trivium’s new song Brave This Storm and Dream Theater’s The Enemy Within.

So what is the verdict.

I can’t say that The Enemy Within is anything special. Some bits remind me of Scenes from a Memory, but really, I could see this song fitting on A Dramatic Turn of Events. It is not a great leap forward in musical terms. Let’s hope that the other songs make the “definite statement.”

Hopefully what we heard was their “Commercial” piece for the album, in the same way that Forsaken was seen as the “Commercial” piece in Systematic Chaos. If this new album turns out to just be ADToE part 2, then yeah I’ll be pretty disappointed, and everyone will know what a pivotal role Portnoy played in the band and how directionless they are without him.

On the other hand, I was very cautious as to how the Trivium and David Draiman collaboration would work. From hearing Brave This Storm, I would say they are on a definite winner. The song is heavy, it is a progression from what they started with In Waves, it is all math in the verses and it is very melodic. Let’s hope that the other Trivium songs are not Brave This Storm 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.

For some reason this got me thinking about a song from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Rebels which is the lead off track on his 1985, Southern Accents album.

With one foot in the grave
One foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel

Are musicians/artists rebels in 2013? It seems that they all want to be winners. Seen any posts from a musician recently about what they think, what they feel, what they are going to do and it doesn’t relate to selling music. Our heroes are even beholden to the Corporations.

Randy Blythe is one artist that shows his humanity. He uses his photographs and puts stories around them, which always relate to a personal part of his life. We are all human. We win and we lose. Blythe focuses on his work, not the sales pitch.

There is new news every day, so if Dream Theater and Trivium want their story to survive, they need to keep it alive by making news every day

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Music, My Stories

Remembering Mega

Remembering Mega

Mega isn’t his real name, but a nickname given to him for his love of the band Megadeth.

This all begins in the Australian summer of 1985, when I first heard Stay Hungry from Twisted Sister.  It was on a cassette tape and it was my cousin Mega that introduced me to it.  He also had a video tape of rock and metal music clips that he taped from the music programs that used to play on Friday night and Saturday night.

That is how we did it back then.  There was no Spotify or an iTunes store to sample songs.  We religiously used to stay up late, so that we could tape the new video clip from our favourite bands or bands of similar style.  Hell by staying up late, that is how I was introduced to Motley Crue(the Smokin In The Boys Room clip and then Home Sweet Home clip), Ratt (the Round and Round clip), Quiet Riot (Cum on Feel The Noize clip), Vah Halen (the Jump and Panama clips) and many others.  But one band stood tall over all the others for me back then.  And that was Twisted Sister.   We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock where doing the rounds back to back.

We’re Not Gonna Take It, No
We Ain’t Gonna Take It
We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore

Three opening lines that summed up the youth of 1985.  The ones that didn’t want to follow what their fathers did and leave school early to work the factory floor.  This was our war cry.  Mega and I listened to this song over and over again, by watching the video clip over and over again.  We even rented Animal Farm because we saw the psychotic parent from the video clip on the cover. 

We’ve got the right to choose it and there ain’t no way we’ll lose it, this is our life, this is our song
We’ll fight the powers that be, just don’t pick our destiny cause you don’t know us, you don’t belong

Mega’s dad was one of those people that never should have been a father.  He was all about money, money and more money.  Mega came a very distant last.  He always kept on comparing Mega to other kids.  Poor Mega could never measure up to his father’s expectations.  That is why this song was special to him and he made it special to me.  Mega’s life was exactly that of the kids in the video clip; however his life didn’t end up getting back at his father, with the power of music.  He just used the music to get away from it all.

You’re so condescending, your gall is never ending, we don’t want nothin’, not a thing from you
Your life is trite and jaded, boring And confiscated, if that’s your best, your best won’t do

Those words could have come from any adolescent child in the eighties.  Mega’s room was a cultural haven.  The walls where covered in posters from Hard Rock, Glam Rock and Metal bands at that time.  He had a record collection that left me envious.  He cherished his records.  He wouldn’t lend them out to anyone and only he could touch them for fear that they will get scratched.  I remember one day, when Mega and I went to the Utopia Record Store, which at that time was in a little shop at Martin Place train station in Sydney.  Mega had the money so he picked up a few more albums and I just stared at the covers of albums that I wanted to buy.  We return back to Mega’s place and it was chaos.  His parents trashed his room, the records where all over the floor, pulled out of the covers.  The reason, his mum smelled cigarette smoke on his clothes when she was throwing them into the wash and wanted to find where the cigarettes where hidden, so they trashed his record collection.  Seriously, who hides a packet of Winnie Blues inside a record cover? 

I remember him saying to his parents, IF THAT IS YOUR BEST, YOUR BEST WONT DO.   That is how important music was to him, he even quoted the song.    Hell, he even tattooed the TS logo onto his shoulder.

We’re right/yeah, we’re Free/yeah, we’ll Fight/yeah, you’ll See/yeah

We’re Not Gonna Take It summed up how we felt at the establishments, our parents and all the rules of what we should be.  Songs like I Wanna Rock, Smokin In The Boys Room, We Rock, Cum On Feel The Noize and Shake Your Foundations summed up what we wanted to do.  

I WANNA ROCK! (ROCK)

The war cry. 

Turn it down you say
Well all I got to say to you is time and time again I say No
NO! NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

I can’t even mention how many times Mega’s parents would walk in and turn down his stereo and then walk out.  As soon as the door shut, Mega would crank it again. 

Turn the power up
I’ve waited for so long so I could hear my favourite song so let’s go
GO! GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!

When it’s like this I feel the music shootin through me
There’s nothing else that I would rather do

Music when done right is like that.  You lay back with the album, the lyric sheet in front of you and listen to each song and read the lyrics.  It was a therapeutic feeling, without going to therapy.  This is something kids these days will never feel as their lives are always on the go and they are connected to each other 24/7.  Back then, no one was texting you or phoning you, there was no Facebook to kill time on and there was no Computer in the house that you could use.  Music, Books, Magazines and TV was all we had, with the occasional Cinema outing for a new release. 

Cum on feel the noize
Girls rock your boys
We’ll get wild, wild, wild
Wild, wild, wild

That’s all we wanted to do.  Get to the Rock N Roll show, to hear the music, to feel the noise so that we could get wild.   Mega just wanted to be a drummer.  He saved up his social security money to purchase a drum kit and then saved up again to purchase another bass drum so that he could do double kick.  His father frowned at him and they both kept on yelling at him every time he played.   His father wouldn’t let Mega borrow the car, so we used to catch the train with his drum kit and my guitar and amp to the rehearsal room.  That is full blown commitment.

We always talked about our band and the songs we would write.  We never got there.  He more or less gave up drumming due to all the stress pushed on him from his parents.  He failed at school so his father wasn’t pleased, especially since Mega’s sister was all A’s.  He went to Art School as his other talent was drawing, and that led nowhere as Australia post-recession in the early 90’s wasn’t employing young up starts.  And this was the pre Internet era.

By 1997 Mega was diagnosed with schizophrenia due to a chemical imbalance in his brain.  His parent’s won.  His parents finally had control of him.  From all the medication that was prescribed, Mega ballooned into a 140kg slob.  I abandoned Mega after 2006.  It was too painful to see him.  He hadn’t showered for weeks and he looked like Crusty the Clown from The Simpsons.  He never could remember the last time we spoke due to the medication even though it was 24 hours ago over the phone.  It got to a stage when I called and his parents wouldn’t even give him the phone.  I used to send him CD’s of the EP’s I was doing with my band, and his parents wouldn’t give the CD’s to him.

I heard he broke the fridge door because aliens where inside it.  Prior to his diagnosis, I remember I was at his place and he goes to me ‘She is there.”

“Who is there”, I answer back.  Mega’s face got all spooky and weird.

“Her.  She is there next to you, laughing”, he answers back.  I am at this stage thinking WTF.  The hairs on the back of my neck are hard as a rock.  I turn to where he is pointing and as I expected, no one is there.

“WTF, Mega.  What’s this shit?’ I fire back, both worried and angry with him.  What came next freaked me out.  He started laughing hysterically, like those weird horror movies where kids have these evil imaginary friends.  Typing this and recounting the events is just freaking me out.

Mega was such a mega influence on my life and the music I listen too.  He was my first cousin.  Mega’s mum and my mum are sisters, but they are so different.  Maybe because my dad was a muso it was easier for me, but Mega he didn’t get that.  That is why he loved coming down to our place and staying for a week or a month.  He was liberated at my place.  We would go down to the Pub, drink beers, shoot Pool and just crank the Jukebox until the morning hours.  On the other hand his home life was hell.

It wasn’t healthy anymore for me to be around him.  I didn’t want to be dragged in to all of that shit that was going on.  By 2006 I had my second child.  I didn’t want my kids growing up around an uncle that was mentally ill.  Selfish and cruel maybe, but these are the choices we make in life.  You can say I took the easy way out by abandoning him, and a lot of people condemn me for it, but those people haven’t dealt with a person that has a mental illness.  Then others, who have experienced mental illness with loved ones, tell me that they only wish they had the courage to walk away.  Instead they got sucked down with their loved one and are now suffering depression as to why they couldn’t help them.

Mega is still alive.  He will probably even outlive me.  But to me Mega died in 1997.  After that it wasn’t Mega anymore.  The jokes and the laughs went out the window, his fascination with Horror movies became greater and his paranoia was getting the better of him.  I still think he will knock on my door and say, what’s up, have you heard the new ….

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