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

1986 – Part 3.7: Fastway – Trick Or Treat

“Trick or Treat” is album number 4 but for me it will always be known as the soundtrack for the “Trick or Treat” movie and my first exposure to Fastway.

It was released in November 1986, a month after the movie and it would be the final album to feature Dave King on vocals. While the previous album “Waiting On The Roar” did not have a guitar riff written by Fast Eddie Clarke, this album is credited as all songs written by Fastway and there are riffs to be heard.

Fastway is Dave King on lead vocals, “Fast” Eddie Clarke on rhythm guitar/lead guitar, Shane Carroll on second guitar, Paul Reid on bass guitar and Alan Connor on drums.

These guys appear on tracks 1 to 7. The song “Heft”(track 8) is from the debut album and bass is played by Mick Feat and drums by Jerry Shirley. “If You Could See” (track 9) is from the “All Fired Up” album, with bass being played by Charlie McCraken and drums by Jerry Shirley.

The flick had WC wry controversial story in it that was related to blues, rock and metal and it fed on the Satanic Panic sweep wing across the Bible Belt of the U.S.

Spoilers alert.

There is a rock star by the name of Sammi Curr, who sold his soul to the devil to rock and roll ala Robert Johnson.

Curr dies in a hotel fire, but is resurrected by a fan of his playing the last vinyl recording of Curr’s music backwards. The vinyl record was given to him by a DJ called Nuke, played by Gene Simmons.

The fan has been bullied at school and suddenly he is no longer bullied as the reincarnated Curr has some “Final Destination” punishment in mind for the bullies. But like all things, when it comes to your heroes and power, power corrupts and by the end of the movie, the Curr has turned against his fans and it allowed the script writers to come up with these kind of sentences.

Hysterical Survivor: [crying] Oh, God, it was–it was awful! I mean, this guy was shooting stuff out of his guitar and it was–and people were running and I don’t–and my very best friend she was…

Cop #1: All right, all right. What did the suspect look like?

Hysterical Survivor: I told you. It was Sammi.

Cop #1: Who is Sammi?

Cop #2: Sammi Curr? The rock singer?

Hysterical Survivor: [still crying] Yes. Yes.

Cop #2: Sammi Curr died last week.

Cop #1: [both cops turn away from the still-sobbing girl] Looks like we better check out the party punch.

And of course the punching bag for all of the evangelists at the time, Ozzy Osbourne makes a guest appearance as Reverend Aaron Gilstom. This would have infuriated all of those people taking him to court, for supposably having backward messages of “shoot” in “Suicide Solution” and the script was written for Ozzy to smacks down those evangelists.

Reverend Aaron Gilstom: (in response to Heavy Metal music)

Demonic beasts.

Whatever happened to the good old simple love song?

“I love you.”

There good words to use. Nowadays they have to write some sickness. It’s just absolutely sick and bizarre, and I’m going to do my upmost best to try and stop it now.

Go get em Reverend. And now to the album.

“Trick or Treat”

Three chords and tom hits like a metronome. I was immediately invested. It’s a perfect amalgamation of NWOBHM and Hard Rock.

I really like the section, in the verse, as it moves between Em and D for a few bars, and then moves to a C chord and a D chord which acts as a Pre Chorus.

Those intro chords come back in, just before “Fast” Eddie breaks out some licks.

“After Midnight”

It’s like Angus and Malcolm Young joined the band and wrote a derivative version of “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

And I like it.

“Don’t Stop the Fight”

This was my favourite cut when it came out.

The palm muted intro and build up always got me pumped. It still does today.

It reminds me of “Wild Child” from WASP, which is bizarre as Blackie Lawless did get offered the part to play Sammi Curr, but rejected it when he was told he couldn’t write the soundtrack music as Fastway was already contracted to do so.

“Stand Up”

Another head banging intro with a killer vocal melody.

How can you not like it?

Press play to hear the bass groove and lead break. The sound of the toms before it comes out of the solo, always makes me laugh. Corny, but a product of the times and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lyrically, it’s an anthem, with the message to stand up and be counted.

“Tear Down the Walls”

After sound effects, it goes into a brief song, with the gang chants to “tear down the walls”. It fitted the movie scene nicely.

“Get Tough”

It kicks off side 2.

After some heavily flanged and distorted guitars, that sounded spooky, for lack of a better word, the song kicks in and the message is all about standing up for yourself, because you’ve had enough of the crap that’s been thrown at you.

“Hold on to the Night”

A “Radar Love” like drum groove starts it off and it continues throughout the whole song, while the riffs and melodies change.

“Heft”

Originally released on the album “Fastway”.

I like the heaviness of the intro/verse riff.

From a modern sound, its something that Tool would do, however it also reminds me of tracks like “Mississippi Queen” and “Evie” and it fits the theme of the album perfectly.

“If You Could See”

Originally released on the album “All Fired Up” and how catchy is that acoustic guitar in the Intro?

The album did okay business in Australian and the movie was popular as well. It was hard to get a rental copy of it from the local video shops. As soon as I rented it, I had my neighbours video over and the dubbing began.

For me, there is no filler on this. It’s all killer. Classic NWOBHM with hard rock polish added to it.

Crank it, play it backwards whatever.

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1986 – Part 3.6: Fastway – Waiting For The Roar

“Waiting for the Roar” is the third album from Fastway and an album in which “Fast” Eddie Clarke didn’t write a song on this album. For a band which carries part of his name, it’s confusing how that can be.

However he did allow the other members to flex their song writing chops or the label flexed their chops at getting the other members to deliver a radio friendly melodic rock album.

The band is Dave King on lead vocals, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke on lead/rhythm guitars, Shane Carroll on rhythm guitar, Paul Reid on bass guitar and Alan Connor on drums.

Production is handled by Terry Manning.

The majority of the songs are written by the other band members with producer Terry Manning who also plays the synth.

I read some reviews of this recently, which called it a misstep and pop metal and a commercial failure.

I like melodic rock music regardless of who does it.

If you are a fan of Fast Eddie and his Motorhead output and that’s all you want to hear from him, then this will disappoint you greatly.

For starters, vocalist Dave King has a decent range in his voice, so he will always come across melodically. It’s strange how critics were not kind to him however those same critics did embrace Mark Slaughter which is confusing as they sound very similar.

But if you want to listen to a melodic rock album, slickly produced with production sounds borrowed from Mr Mister, Tears For Fears and Cutting Crew albums, then this album is a good listen.

Waiting For The Roar

Arpeggios and a lot of midi sample triggers.

Check out the main guitar riff, it’s like Bad Company, with elements of the blues and a whole lotta hard rock.

The World Waits For You

It has a Chorus that reminds me of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” from Tears For Fears.

At 7 minutes long, it has an orchestra added to the last 2 minutes which sounds very much like symphonic Metal.

Little By Little

The verse riff is sleazy and bluesy and Dave King delivers another melodic rock gem with his vocal melodies. At times I thought that Mark Slaughter made an appearance on this as the sound of the vocals can be interchanged.

Change

It’s a ballad. 6 minutes in length. If they were going for radio songs, the length of the songs would require heavy edits.

Synth chords and bluesy melodic lines start the song. The bass sounds like many of the Brit Pop bands at the time. The drums are heavily processed with midi triggers so the sounds could be manipulated.

And I like it. The mood it sets gets me and the idea to include the orchestra in the final minutes of the songs is excellent.

Rock On

It wouldn’t be an 80’s album without a song title that didn’t include the word “Rock”.

That’s probably why the movement known as “Thrash” metal really took off during this period.

Tired Of Your Love

It’s catchy and it sounds like the melodic rock tracks that Slaughter would write in a few years’ time.

Move Over

A Janis Joplin cover. A synth with a flanger like effect just hums along while the vocal melody is delivered. When the Jethro Tull inspired riff kicks in, the foot is tapping and I like it.

Kill Me With Your Heart

It’s Chorus is Jim Steinman worthy like the work he did with Bonnie Tyler and an orchestra again enters for the last minute of the song.

Girl

Very synth heavy, which is no surprise as the song is written just by vocalist Dave King and producer Terry Manning.

At the 50 second mark, the guitars make an appearance but they are buried behind the synths and the Tears For Fears bass sound.

The guitar is basically used the way keyboards are used in some other bands, as an instrument that is heard from time to time and hidden more in the background, instead of being the instrument that carries the song.

The chorus is catchy, with its “Girl” chant, however corny the lyrics sound.

And the lead break is full of blues playing, however it is buried

Back Door Man

Janet Jackson would have a hit called “Black Cat” in 1989, with a guitar riff very similar to this.

Everything is judged on sales, especially in 1986 and this didn’t sell as expected. Then again, Fastway albums were never seen as big sellers and from memory I don’t recall any certifications on em either.

While a section of fans of heavy metal and blues rock embraced Melodic Rock, there were also fans who didn’t, choosing to remain within their blues rock and metal worlds. A lot of bands suffered from this splintering in styles.

But all was not lost as one of my favourite Fastway albums is coming up next, with the soundtrack to the “Trick Or Treat” movie, also released in the same year.

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Australian Method Series and 1986 – Part 3.5: AC/DC – Who Made Who

“Who Made Who” is like a Greatest Hits album released as a soundtrack album in 1986, for the Stephen King film “Maximum Overdrive”. A forgettable movie.

The funny thing is that the next Greatest Hits slab would come out with another movie, this one a lot better and having a larger social and cultural impact.

Yep, the multi- billion franchise known as “Iron Man” sent AC/DC into the stratosphere. Not that they needed it.

Both album packages are excellent entry points for people who didn’t own or know about AC/DC.

If this was your first exposure, there would be a high chance that you would go out and buy/access some of the back catalogue.

And the song “Who Made Who” introduced Angus Young the shredder. His guitar work here is at a Shrapnel level.

Who Made Who

Drums and bass from Simon Phillips and Cliff Williams in a stock 4/4 time. I’m already invested.

Malcolm kicks in with some power chords outlining a blues chord progression as Brian Johnson fires in with his throaty vocal melody.

Angus then fired in with some fast palm muted licks which sounds like open string licks, something he’ll use to even greater success with “Thunderstruck”. But it’s all picked.

Check out the lead break. Angus breaks out some EVH like tapping.

Lyrically, it’s based around the themes from the “Maximum Overdrive” movie, where the machines come alive and begin killing people.

Like the “Terminator” movie, the tools that humans create, rise up to obliterate the humans.

You Shook Me All Night Long

From “Back In Black”.

It was re-released as a single after the massive success of “Who Made Who” which gave this song a second coming, not that it needed one.

D.T

It’s an instrumental jam which became soundtrack music.

It moves between distortion and clean tone so it could be used in multiple scenes.

Sink The Pink

From the “Fly On The Wall” album.

This song doesn’t get the love it should but goddamn it’s a great song.

The Intro reminds me of “Rock N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” and it has a Chorus chord progression which could be interchanged with almost every AC/DC chorus, and I like it.

At 2.50, the Intro kicks back in, with drums and bass before Angus kicks in with his bluesy lead.

Ride On

From the “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” album and Bon Scott gets a spot with this slow blues dirge.

Hells Bells

From the “Back In Black” album.

As soon as the bells chime and the dirty arpeggio riff in Am kicks in, everything starts tingling. It doesn’t matter that I’ve heard it a lot of times. It still gets me.

Shake Your Foundations

Also from “Fly On The Wall”.

Another underrated song from an album that is seen as a disappointment.

You can’t tell me that the Intro/Verse riff isn’t classic AC/DC and a Chorus that almost mimics “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

Chase the Ace

Another instrumental jam session but a bit more aggressive than “D.T”.

Check out the drum groove in the Intro. Something that Lars Ulrich would use to great effect in “Enter Sandman”, which is also based on the “Dirty Deeds” Intro/Verse drum pattern.

For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

From the album with the same title which came after the “Back In Black” monster.

I was hooked from the opening riff and the way Malcolm and Phil Rudd build it.

Once the slow groove kicks in, it feels that heavy that it’ll destroy everything in its path. And it did.

In Australia and the U.S, it’s 5× Platinum.

And it kept AC/DC relevant in a friendly MTV world which was starting to promote artists who looked great over the music they created.

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1986 – Part 3.4: Black Sabbath – Seventh Star

I didn’t get into Black Sabbath until the mid-90’s. I knew of their existence because Ozzy and Dio did a great job promoting his Sabbath legacy.

Then Dio re-joined for “Dehumanizer” in the early 90s and I was interested to hear more Black Sabbath. So the process started.

The fact that everyone was selling their vinyl to second hand record shops definitely helped because it meant I could pick up their older stiff cheaply.

And after Grunge came out, they kept talking about the Sabbath influences in the Seatlle sounds and Sabbath’s renaissance into Mainstream superstars came when they re-joined Ozzy for a few encores on his “No More Tours” shows.

From 1983 up to when Dio rejoined, no one really cared about Tony Iommi in the same way they cared about Ozzy and Dio who had become Multi-Platinum sellers in the U.S. with their solo careers and the Sabbath/Iommi career was nowhere near those commercial highs.

So “Seventh Star” is listed as studio album number 12 for Black Sabbath and released in 1986. This version of Sabbath has Tony Iommi as the only founding member along with keyboardist Geoff Nicholls, drummer Eric Singer, bassist Dave Spitz and vocalist Glenn Hughes.

Once the album came out, Hughes didn’t last long as his addictions made him unreliable. Ray Gillen was hired to fill the vocalist spot for the tour. But even the tour didn’t last long, with a lot of shows cancelled and another restart for Iommi.

In For The Kill

A riff that reminds me of Scorpions “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man” starts off this song and I like it.

No Stranger To Love

This could have come from the Dio version of Sabbath, with its slow groove. But Glen Hughes has a very melodic, bluesy soul voice, so it was always going to come across as a commercial rock song.

Check out the solo from Iommi on this.

Turn To Stone

It’s like Richie Blackmore joined on guitars. It feels like a Deep Purple Coverdale/Hughes era cut, with a riff that reminds me of “Burn” and “Kill The King”.

Iommi delivers another killer solo on this.

Seventh Star

“Egypt (The Chains Are On)” comes to mind and I like it.

Musically, this is one of Iommi’s best.

The main riff is heavy, it sounds exotic, so metal like but it swings the way he plays it. There is a certain fluidity to it.

Danger Zone

If you want to hear one song on the album, its this. I was hooked from the harmony guitars in the Intro riff which also reminds me of Van Halen’s “Atomic Punk”.

And if that main riff doesn’t get you, the interlude/mid section would get you interested which then moves into a Bridge section.

And if the music doesn’t get ya, then the voice of Hughes will.

Heart Like A Wheel

When I hear a blues groove like the one that starts of this song, I think of “The Jack” from AC/DC.

But that blues groove is generic and overused. Remember Alannha Myles and her song “Black Velvet”. Well, it’s the same groove and it went to number 1.

These kind of songs are perfect vehicles for Hughes and his voice.

Angry Heart

This is a great riff, which reminds me of “Wishing Well” from Free and Hughes has so much fun with the vocals.

In Memory

An acoustic riff, with lightly distorted guitars start off this power ballad. It’s short and a strange end to the album.

As a classic Heavy Metal album like “Love At First Sting”, “Balls To The Wall” and “Screaming For Vengeance” it works. Hell it’s probably the best Rainbow album that Richie Blackmore didn’t write.

Compared to Sabbath’s downtuned 70s output, it’s very different. But this was the 80s and this album is a true product of its time.

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1986 – Part 3.3: Savatage – Fight For The Rock

My journey began with “Gutter Ballet” and moved forward with “Streets: A Rock Opera” before going back to the earlier albums.

So even though “Fight For The Rock” was released in 1986, it wasn’t until the early 90’s that I heard it.

I studied WW2 in History a fair bit and the cover is instantly recognisable recreating the “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photo and cancel culture today has found this recreation to be offensive or insensitive.

Who would have thought?

The band for the album is “the classic line-up” in Jon Oliva on vocals and piano, Criss Oliva (RIP) on guitars, Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Steve Doc Wacholz on drums.

The Paul O’Neill co-writes and production credits was still an album away, so this album is produced by Stephan Galfas, who had had worked with Stryper on “To Hell With The Devil”, Meatloaf’s ignored “Dead Ringer” album and a few John Waite albums before he worked with Savatage. Post Savatage he worked on Saxon’s much maligned but a favourite to me, “Destiny” album.

The band members have voiced their displeasure with the album.

You will read the usual “record label wanted us to make it” or “pressured us to make it” phrases mentioned but if the album did well commercially, then the narrative from the band members might be very different.

For the record, I hate the power the labels had back then. They could make or break a career.

But in the end, they are in the money making business and they would do whatever it takes to make money.

If Savatage said “NO” to the record label demands, it would be career suicide. So caught between a rock and a hard place, I suppose they really had to “fight for the rock” on this one, so they could get another chance at making an album.

Musically, its Savatage as I know em. Lyrically, they are a bit different.

The Fight For The Rock

A Criss Oliva riff starts the album, rooted in the sound of heavy metal that I like.

“Warriors of the fight, you are in force tonight”, says Jon Oliva, about rock being here to stay. By 1986, it was all overused cliches.

At 2.04, it goes into a synth lick before it builds up into the solo section, which is essential listening for any guitarist.

Out On The Streets

It feels like a 70’s cut, with its acoustic guitar arpeggios and weird synth sounds.

By the time the Chorus rolls around, the major chords make it sound happy, while the lyrics are about feeling sad due to a romance falling apart.

Press play for the brief acoustic guitar melodic lick after the Chorus.

And I like the solo from Criss Oliva, it’s got blues and fast melodic legato lines with inventive phrasing.

Crying For Love

The intro with violins and fingerpicked clean tone guitars is a great listen but misleading when it comes to the song because it’s a rocker, with a classic Savatage riff from Criss Oliva in the verses.

The Chorus is Hard AOR Rock. It’s an obvious attempt.

Criss Oliva knows how to create a lead. He starts off with some fast open string pull off licks before going into his usual fast legato lines.

Day After Day

A Badfinger cover and that 70’s “Leader Of The Pack” vibe comes through.

The Edge Of Midnight

An Andrew Lloyd Webber “Phantom Of The Opera” organ begins the song, which brings in some classical elements. Lyrically it’s not the best, but musically the riffs are an amalgamation of hard rock and heavy metal.

Check out the verse riff, Skid Row would use riffs like this on two multi-platinum albums.

Hyde

There’s some good progressive metal like riffs here.

How good is it the way Jon Oliva sings “Hy-I-ide” and then Criss Oliva mimics the vocal melody the next repeat?

Lady In Disguise

A riff similar to “Wishing Well” is the centrepiece of this song. It’s almost Queen like in its musical composition.

She’s Only Rock N Roll

The main riff (which is also the verse riff) is classic Savatage, which also reminds me of Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Check out the lead break.

Wishing Well

A Free cover and I think this was my first exposure to this song. The slight increase in tempo makes the track sound more metal than rock.

Musically, it’s a great song and the vocal melodies from Paul Rodgers, delivered by Jon Oliva are excellent

Red Light Paradise

It sounds like soundtrack music and for some reason, the “Cobra” movie with Stallone comes to mind.

To repeat, musically its good, lyrically it could be better but the sound is still Savatage.

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1986 – Part 3.2: Queensryche – Rage For Order

“Rage for Order” is the second album by Queensrÿche, released on June 27, 1986.

The Queensryche Cyber Army are really good at keeping the bands Wikipedia pages up to date and super detailed. Everything that can be found on the a internet is included along with print media and newspaper articles.

Go to the Wikipedia page on this album and you’ll get heaps of information.

MTV was becoming a huge promotions vehicle for artists and 1986 was clearly becoming the last year that bands would experiment with the songwriting. After 1986, albums would become very MTV Friendly because all the artists wanted a piece of that pie.

Musically it’s an excellent album. Each song has a riff or a vocal melody that I like. From a song point of view, “Walk In The Shadows” is close to perfect.

Lyrically the album touches on subject matters I’m interested in, like government intrusion and corruption, technology and social issues.

Management and the Label must have felt threatened at the experimental progressive album delivered by the band, so it’s no surprise that there is a cover song, which then became the lead single.

And no one knew how to handle Queensryche.

They had opening spots with Ratt and Bon Jovi (seriously, what the….), AC/DC (good gig to have if you play similar styles but they are very different styles) and maybe the most compatible one in relation to “Metal”, Ozzy Osbourne.

The Tri-Ryche logo makes it’s first appearance as well.

I never understood how this album was ever labeled as a “glam metal” album, but the label had to make them fit somewhere along with some questionable clothing and hairspray.

Queensrÿche is the classic line up of Geoff Tate on vocals, Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton on guitars, Eddie Jackson on bass and Scott Rockenfield on drums.

Neil Kernon is Producing, Engineering and Mixing. Man of many hats.

Walk In The Shadows

Written by Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton.

It’s as good as anything that came from “Operation Mindcrime” and “Empire”.

I’m a big fan of the Intro riff (it’s great to play) and that Chorus is massive.

I Dream in Infrared

Written by Tate and Wilton.

It reminds me of Rush in the Intro and I feel like Crimson Glory took this song and used it as a foundation to build on.

But you need to press play on this for the acoustic guitar arpeggios and the haunting vocal melody from Tate in the verses.

Is it just me or does this track remind you of “Breaking the Silence” and “Waiting for 22” from the “Mindcrime” album?

The Whisper

Written solely by DeGarmo and the Celtic inspired Intro definitely gets me interested. Something that Maiden would use a lot in the Dickinson Part 2 era.

The whole song is what Metal should sound like.

Gonna Get Close to You

A Dalbello cover, although I didn’t know it at the time.

To cover a song from outside the genre you are classified in, is a sign of respect to the artist who wrote it.

Many years later, Lisa Dalbello would do guest vocals on Alex Lifeson’s “Victor” album.

Check out the way the verses are constructed, it feels ominous.

The Killing Words

Written by DeGarmo and Tate.

The keyboard Intro gives way to the guitar, before it goes into a soundtrack like verse. It’s very Marillion like and the vocals remind me of Fish and I like it.

But you’ll be pressing play to this song, for the section when Tate sings “Over”.

Surgical Strike

Written by DeGarmo and Wilton it feels more like a cut from “The Warning”.

And there are sections here which remind of “Speak” and “The Needle Lies”.

Press play for the Outro that begins from 2.40. You won’t be disappointed.

Neue Regel

Written by DeGarmo and Tate.

When I heard “A Perfect Circle” for the first time, I thought of this song. It has all of those atmospheric elements and outside the box sounds and composition elements.

This is how progressive music should sound like and it’s the embryo of what the “Promised Land” album would be.

But press play on this just to hear the power of Geoff Tate.

Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)

Written by Tate and Wilton, who brings the heavy metal riffs to the rebellion.

It’s put together in a progressive way as it doesn’t just follow the standard verse and chorus narrative.

London

Written by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton and it reminds me of the “Mindcrime” album musically and the song “I Don’t Believe In Love”.

It’s got a great Chorus, so press play to hear “London” sound like “Young Boy”.

And then hang around for the harmonies and individual lead breaks.

Screaming in Digital

Written by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton, musically it also reminds me of different songs from the “Mindcrime” album.

The electronic synths are dominant and Tate is very Peter Gabriel like in the verses.

But press play for the vocal melodies from 2.15 to 2.40 and stick around for the guitar hero lead breaks. And then those unbelievable vocal melodies come back.

I Will Remember

Written by DeGarmo, it has some nice acoustic playing from DeGarmo, a sign of things to come.

It was Certified Gold in the U.S.

To this Australian, it’s a criminally underrated jewel that was way ahead of its time and no one really knew what to do with it.

And I’m not sure if Marillion was an influence to the band at this point in time but goddamn this album reminds me so much of “Script for a Jester’s Tear”. Maybe it’s the similarities in vocal styles between Fish and Tate.

Anyway press play and let the sounds of love, politics and technology wash over you.

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1986 – Part 3.1: Megadeth – Peace Sells But Who’s Buying

“Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” was released on September 19, 1986.

Edward J. Repka as the cover illustrator is the rock star here. While the concept design is listed as coming from Dave Mustaine and Andy Somers, its Repka who brought the concept to life.

There is Vic Rattlehead, portrayed as a real estate salesman, in front of a desolated United Nations Headquarters with fighter jets in the sky and frayed flags still on the poles.

Brilliant.

The band for this album is the same as the debut, with Dave Mustaine on guitars and lead vocals, David Ellefson on bass, Chris Poland on guitars and Gar Samuelson on drums.

The album is produced by Mustaine but Casey McMackin as the engineer also deserves credit as he was involved with mixing or engineering quite a few albums from the California Thrash Metal scene, for bands like Vio-Lence, Saint Vitus, Nuclear Assault, Zoetrope, Dark Angel and Flotsam and Jetsam. And in the 90’s he did “1916” and “March or Die” by Motorhead. Mixing was done by Paul Lani and Stan Katayama but there’s a story in that as well.

The album was troubled due to the high level of drug abuse. Mustaine and Ellefson were already heavy users, however Samuelson and Poland were said to be even more extreme, something which Poland has disputed to say that what he did was nothing different to what other people were doing at the time. Regardless of the differing point of views, Samuelson and Poland got fired after the promotional tour for this album.

Another issue was the record label. The project started with Combat Records, resulting in the original mix of the album and a co-production by Randy Burns, however Capital Records then purchased the rights to the album (and the band) and got Paul Lani to remix it himself. Lani was more of a Pop Rock mixer, so he knew how the album should sound to get favourable MTV and Radio treatment. And it got that attention as well.

All songs are written and composed by Dave Mustaine, except “I Ain’t Superstitious” by Willie Dixon.

“Wake Up Dead”

The film clip got me interested. It was the steel cage and the chaos around it, with people climbing all over it towards the end. It was dystopian and unsettling and I loved it.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Mustaine’s voice to begin with, but man, the music had me hooked. There was just so much guitar playing to unpack and learn.

Like the head banging riff that plays between 1.10 to 1.40. Or the blistering super-fast picked riff between 2.03 and 2.26. Or the change in groove in tempo from 2.42 with the unorthodox solo from Chris Poland combining exotic lines with fast jazz chromatic lines.

And there wasn’t much singing in this “single” like the hard rock singles I was growing up with. Actually I think all up there are about 8 lines as those lyrics describe Mustaine cheating on his current partner however he stayed with her because he was homeless at the time and needed a place to stay. But he had to leave her because he thought she had intentions to kill him.

“The Conjuring”

The song is about black magic and contains instructions for hexes.

The intro is ominous but it’s the fast riff from 0.57 which I like while Chris Poland moves in with another atonal solo, making sharps and flats fit chords they shouldn’t fit.

Check out the galloping and progressive riff between 1.43 and 1.58. A favourite and so fun to play. Or the fast riffs from 2.36 to 2.57 and then my favourite foot stomping, head banging riff in the song from 2.58 to 3.29.

And Mustaine is not working within a Verse and Chorus structure. Until the next song.

“Peace Sells”

It’s iconic, musically and lyrically.

The bass intro sets the tone. Even though Ellefson plays it, Mustaine wrote it.

The “No More Mr Nice Guy” vocal delivery over a riff that Mr Hetfield would use for the “Enter Sandman” verses is excellent. Then again, the E pedal point with a F chord chucked in was a staple of thrash metal music and Mustaine’s favourite band “Diamond Head”.

The Motorhead inspired outro from 2.20 is where it’s at. It’s fast, its unrelenting and Mustaine’s war cry of “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying” echoes the great work to come, especially in the track “Holy Wars” from “Rust In Peace” a few years later.

I like the lyric “What do you mean, I don’t support your system? I go to court when I have too”

Its clever.

And the best summary of the song is the way Mustaine put it on a VH1 doco; “peace is something we all want, but nobody wants to give up stuff.”

“Devil’s Island”

Mustaine takes some of his riffs from his Metallica days and re-uses em here as the intro reminds me of a section in the song “Phantom Lord”. He also used a similar riff in “This Was My Life” from the “Countdown To Extinction”.

But my favourite riff is the Chorus riff. Check it out.

Another great riff is from 2.22 to 2.43.

The title is a reference to a former French penal colony off the coast of French Guiana. The lyrics detail the thoughts of a condemned prisoner awaiting execution. He is spared by God, but must spend the rest of his life on the island.

“Good Mourning/Black Friday”

Side 2 begins with this.

“Good Mourning” begins with a clean tone acoustic guitar begins. Its haunting.

And some serious shred is heard as the song transitions from “Good Mourning” to “Black Friday”.

How good is the musical groove and feel from 1.48 to 2.23?

“Bad Omen”

Another ominous like intro with arpeggios as the song builds into a thrasher from when the fast bass riff begins at 1.19. But it’s the groove metal riff at 1.36 which gets me interested to learn it.

The soloing from Chris Poland is so different to what I was used to. Very Jazz fusion like in the vein of Al DiMeola.

At 2.50 it goes into a supercharged neck breaking riff and some serious shredding.

“I Ain’t Superstitious”

Other artists did it, but I feel that Mustaine showed the metal community that you could cover songs that didn’t really come from the genre you are classed in and still make em sound like they are from the genre, like this blues funk song, suddenly sounds like a metal blues song.

From a reference point, “I Ain’t Superstitious” is written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961.

“My Last Words”

Mustaine again showcases his arpeggio clean tone riff writing for a song about playing a game of Russian roulette.

The intro on this song is excellent. After the clean tone arpeggios and open string pull offs, it goes into a face melting riff.

But check out the riff from 3.10 to 3.25 and the solo after it. Even Lars Ulrich has given this track his tick of approval.

At 36 minutes long, Mustaine created an album that took hours and hours of learning in order to get the riffs and leads down. And from that, I became a fan of Megadeth.

“Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” is very influential in the movement of technical thrash metal. Mustaine (if he hadn’t done so already) raised the bar here. Along with other thrash releases from Metallica and Slayer, future extreme metallers had a holy trinity of release for reference points.

From a commercial point of view, the use of the “Peace Sells” bass riff to introduce the MTV news segment, showed other thrash bands the commercial potential of thrash metal if done right. But MTV didn’t pay em, because they used the “fair use” defence which is why they cut off the music after a few seconds, as if they went past that timeframe, they would have to make payment.

Musicians who would go on to form Sweden’s Melodic Death metal scene have always referred to this album as an influence.

The album does have a Platinum certification for the U.S and Canada and a Silver certification for the U.K.

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

1986 – Part 2.7: Crimson Glory – Crimson Glory

I’ve posted on Crimson Glory before when I was doing my Record Vault posts.

The line-up which is known to me as the classic line up had vocalist Midnight, guitarist Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords and drummer Dana Burnell.

They never broke out big in North America, with Asia and Europe being their main market. Their presence in Europe was probably due to Roadrunner Europe being their label and they got behind the band, booking them to play shows in major markets like Germany, France, UK, Holland, Belgium and Sweden.

Their overnight European success was 5 years in the making.

The masquerade mask angle along with hard rock perms and teased hair and leather vests was strange to begin with, but I understood their message, that the music should lead the way, not how they looked but by the third album the masks ceased to be and hard rock abs were on display in photo shoots.

The self-titled debut came out in 1986 but I didn’t hear it until 89, after I purchased “Transcendence” and I went back and got the debut.

Also by 1989, a lot of the bands I liked started to change or were past their heyday.

Scorpion’s didn’t really amuse me with “Savage Amusement” in 87, UFO still powdered their noses and had no recording contract, Queensryche went hard rock (which was a good thing) but I also liked their metal style and I was seeking bands like that, Iron Maiden lost an important band member and went even more streamlined with “No Prayer For The Dying” and Black Sabbath was still trying to replenish their worth and value after the “Born Again” debacle while Dio was starting to lose his star power from 5 years before.

So I went looking elsewhere for my unique metal fix and Crimson Glory filled the void.

And I like to play the guitar, so any album that makes me pick up the guitar to learn the songs gets my attention, and this is what the Crimson Glory albums do.

“Mayday”

There is a countdown. Then a chromatic moving arpeggio/lick in harmony.

And the speed kicks in.

The fastest song on the album, relentless like “Screaming For Vengeance” and that ball tearing falsetto from Midnight rattled my windows. A mixture between King Diamond and Rob Halford on this.

The lead breaks are Judas Priest like.

“Queen of the Masquerade”

It’s more hard rock than heavy metal with the “I Love Rock N Roll” chords in the verses and some serious shred.

“Valhalla”

The intro gets me with the harmony leads.

At the 2.00 mark, there is this guitar riff which moves up chromatically, reminding me of how “The Call Of Ktulu” does the same thing. Mustaine actually used that chromatic movement for “In My Darkest Hour” and then he took his “The Call Of Ktulu” riff and made it “Hangar 18”.

Check out the harmony solo’s on this.

“Azrael”

Along with “Valhalla”, it’s a two punch combo knockout.

The intro is a mix of acoustic guitars, symphonic voices, violins and Midnight’s unique voice which sounds like Geoff Tate from “The Warning” album.

This then leads in to one of the best metal tracks I have heard with harmony guitars and galloping riffs.

Check out the riff at 2.23, done in harmony. It goes for about 10 seconds, a brief change between verses.

The lead break from 3.11. It’s guitar hero worthy but guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson are virtually unknown to the masses as Crimson Glory didn’t really cross over like Queensryche in the U.S market.

“Dragon Lady”

It starts off with a Midnight wail, harmony guitars and then a Deep Purple “Stormbringer” like riff in the verses.

Make sure you check out the Chorus, which has a combination of harmony guitars and an AOR rock chorus.

But it’s the harmony lead lick that comes after the Chorus that really gets me hooked.

Plus the outro lead break. Check it out. It as good as Jake E Lee’s “Bark At The Moon” outro.

“Lost Reflection”

A haunting acoustic piece, built on two chords and Midnight’s gloomy and mournful vocals.

From 3.10, distorted guitars crash in with reverbed drums and after 30 seconds it fades out to how it started.

“Heart Of Steel”

It starts off with acoustic guitars and harmony leads.

It reminds me of 70’s Scorpions with Uli Jon Roth on guitars, with a nod to the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. And it’s probably their most catchiest.

I like the way Midnight sings “Heart of steeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeel” with an increase in pitch as he holds steel.

Check out the little harmony lead at around the 4.10 mark. And the last 15 seconds is that good, the only thing you can do is press repeat.

At 5 minutes long it doesn’t get boring.

Especially the guitar playing and those harmony leads.

“Angels of War”

It’s very reminiscent of Iron Maiden.

There is a lot of great guitar playing but the little section from 3.25 is excellent.

And my favourite is when the bass and drums kick in at 3.55, then the harmony guitars start and then the Chorus vocal. A perfect minute to end the song.

“Dream Dancer”

It’s not on the vinyl version that I have. But it’s on Spotify.

Like other songs, it is a mixture of acoustic guitars in the verses with an anthemic chorus full of distorted chords. It feels like Dio vocally, but musically, it’s more in the spirit of the 70’s.

The section from 3.45 is brief but so good.

And then the lead breaks start.

“Dream Dancer can fly away / wings of fire she burns the nightshade”

And like that, the 1986 part 2 series comes to an end as I fly away to 1976.

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

1986 – Part 2.6: Cinderella – Night Songs

I’ve written about this album and certain songs previously on this blog.

This post was scheduled for today as part of my 1986 “Year In Review” series. And yesterday my Twitter feed was all about the passing of Jeff LaBar at 58. May he rest in peace and thank you for the music and all those licks and leads.

Signed to Polygram, the debut album, “Night Songs”, produced by Andy Johns, had everything from AC/DC style riffing and grooves, to Aerosmith style highs and Keifer’s unique raspy snarl.

But Keifer and co didn’t just sound like all of the other bands out there, because their influences weren’t just your standard Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC acts. They also went back and found out who influenced their influences, and allowed those artists to also influence them, hence the reason why Cinderella was more bluesier than the rest.

The debut album came out on released August 2, 1986.

It’s stood the test of time and when it came out, it competed with some massive albums from Bon Jovi, Europe, Ratt and Poison. And let’s not forget that within a year, they were also competing with Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Guns N Roses for market share and sales.

The clip for “Nobody’s Fool” was first.

It hooked me in because those clean tone Am arpeggios reminded me of “Bringing On The Heartbreak” from Def Leppard. At 30 million streams on Spotify, it’s one of their biggest songs, with “Don’t Know What You Got (Until Its Gone)” at 42.19 million streams above it.

The lead break starts off so bluesy to begin with. Then it goes into some fast melodic picking.

As “Nobody’s Fool” is repeated over and over again in the outro, there is another great lead shredding away.

Then I heard “Shake Me” and the party was getting started.

Tom Keifer’s raspy voice is the difference. He didn’t sound like any other singer out on the market. Maybe a bit like Brian Johnson and a bit like Blackie Lawless. The band Hinder built a career in the music business many years later because their singer had the same raspy voice like Keifer.

So I got the album and I thought I had a feeling how the other songs would sound. I dropped the needle and the opening riff to “Night Songs” started.

I was floored.

It was heavy. It sounded deep, like “When The Levee Breaks” heavy. And the slow groove hooked me like nicotine. (I could probably do better with that line, but hey).

Workin’ this job ain’t payin’ the bills / Sick and tired rat race takin’ my thrills / Kickin’ down the road not a dime in my pocket / Nightime falls and I’m ready to rock it

This message appeared in a lot of songs around this time. “Let It Rock”, “Rock The Night”, “Working For The Weekend” just to name a few. Working to get paid, so we could rock out.

Even if the rocking took place in the comfort of our own home. There was nothing more soothing then dropping the needle and letting the sound surround you and bounce off the walls.

I love the main riff in “Nothin’ For Nothin’” and Keifer delivers a stellar vocal melody in the verses.

“Once Around The Ride” is a classic heavy metal track, with an air guitar pedal tone riff, a wicked lead break from Jeff LeBar and a vocal melody from Keifer which sticks around long after the song has finished.

“Hell On Wheels” is a fast twelve bar blues type of tune, but it’s done that well, it could have come from any NWOBHM act, just with better melodies and vocals from Kiefer. Even ZZ Top on steroids comes to mind.

We’ve had enough of the raw deals / Hit the road and tell ya how it feels
Like hell on wheels

“Somebody Save Me” is my favourite. The “Knock Em Dead Kid” riff merged with “Looks That Kill” works a treat and Keifer delivers vocally.

Well, everybody’s got opinions / But nobody’s got the answers / And the shit you ate for breakfast / Well, it’ll only give you cancer

Remember when white bread was marketed as a health food.

Now processed meats will give you cancer. And too much red meat as well. Plus all those cereals and muesli bars and low fat alternatives are full of sugar.

“In From The Outside” has an excellent outro and it’s the reason why I go through the whole song, just to hear the outro and how they fit in this metal like section to a 12 bar blues.

And “Back Home Again” is a great way to bookend the album. An open string riff kicks it off and the vocal melody from Keifer is brilliant.

I hit the road wide open at seventeen

It doesn’t happen like that anymore or does it. I read an article how most kids are still living with their parents past the age of 30.

And there is a cast on the album.

Jon Bon Jovi does backing vocals on a few tracks, drums are played by someone else and even the guitar leads are played by someone else on a few tracks.

For a debut album, it was an expensive exercise for Polygram. But it paid off in spades. Three times platinum in the U.S.

A school friend back then asked me to describe the album and I called it “AC/DC on steroids”. Hearing it back throughout the decades its more varied than that. There is a lot to unpack. ZZ Top is present, the first three Def Leppard albums, Aerosmith, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin.

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1986 – Part 2.5: Tesla – Mechanical Resonance

In the early 80s, Frank Hannon and Brian Wheat took a band name from a Y&T album and started playing UFO, Scorpions and Def Leppard covers. Jeff Keith, Troy Luccketta and Tommy Skeoch joined after and the band became known as City Kidd.

A three month residency at a U.S Army base would give them the opportunity to write songs and then play them live. Most of the songs written for the debut and some of the songs for “The Great Radio Controversy” were written during this period.

Jack Russell from “Great White” became a fan and he got Tom Zutaut to check em out, who then promised em a recording contract, but they had to wait until the end of 85, as he was moving from Elektra to Geffen.

They got a Q Prime deal but couldn’t get a producer to work with them. Rick Rubin, Max Norman and Bruce Fairbairn rejected them. Zutaut brought in Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero but their background was dance music and they did some time mixing rock albums. Hardly an ideal choice and they also tried to get out of the gig.

Mid 86, City Kidd changed their name to Tesla and “Mechanical Resonance” was released on November 24, 1986, by Geffen Records.

It’s on Spotify, but they took off “The Great Radio Controversy”. Why they removed it, I guess we’ll never know.

“EZ Come EZ Go”

The funky groove to kick it off hides the rocker the song really is.

The verses are very Def Leppard like (first two albums Lep), in the sense of dynamics (soft and loud), the pulse like bass/bass drum and vocal melodies. But the Chorus rocks hard, like AC/DC and Aerosmith hard.

Then the lead breaks show a guitar hero aspect to the band.

In essence, if this was the first song you heard and it didn’t move ya, then you need to check yourself for a pulse.

There comes a time when you’ve got to let things go as fast as they come
Wait and see what tomorrow may bring you, get it all while you can

I know it sounds clichéd today, but to a kid growing up, it was eye opening.

Like a new creed, a new truth.

“Cumin’ Atcha Live”

Written by Hannon, Keith and Wheat. If feels like a band jamming in the style of Van Halen. Even one of the riffs you hear in the first 30 seconds comes from a Van Halen song. The whole solo section feels like an improv jam.

My favourite part is between the 3.18 to 3.53 mark in the leads.

“Gettin’ Better”

Written by Hannon and Keith. One of my favourites.

As soon as I heard the arpeggio intro I was racking my brain as to what song it reminds me of. The D to A to Bm chord progression reminds me of “Goodbye To Romance”. Tesla would use this chord progression again in the “Love Song” intro. Mark Tremonti was a fan, so it was no surprise to hear it in “One Last Breath”.

And when the distorted chords kick in, again I am reminded about something familiar. Maybe “Highway To Hell”.

I’m a hard workin’ man, doin’ all that I can, tryin’ to make ends meet
Just a-makin’ my way through the jungle today, it’s gettin’ the best of me

But it’s only gettin’ better, and a change is gonna come my way

My Dad worked two jobs to survive in Australia. My mum never worked as she was tasked with raising the family and keeping the house running. And I’m thinking did it get better for him. He believes so, but my Mum doesn’t. And for me, both my wife and I are working jobs so we can survive in this country and go on some holidays. We don’t know anything different.

“2 Late 4 Love”

Written by the band again, the embryo to “Hang Tough” is right here in the Intro.

I can’t believe this fucked up world in which we’re livin’ in
Still I do the best that I can
Always got me on the lookout for a getaway
Runnin’ hard, I’m a rock ‘n’ roll man

Work to live and don’t live to work. The world will always disappoint you, so just do your best to get bye.

“Rock Me to the Top”

It’s a Keith and Skeoch composition. One of my favourites. It just rocks and rolls its way through my brain. A totally different style.

Rock me, rock me (rock), rock me to the top, to the top, baby

How can you not sing-along to it?

“We’re No Good Together”

Written by Hannon, Keith and Luccketta and I’m a fan of its slow bluesy feel. Very Bad Company’sih and Led Zeppelin’ish. Aerosmith wrote a similar track on “Pump” called “What It Takes”.

And it picks up for the lead break and outro, like “Free Bird”, only shorter.

“Modern Day Cowboy”

It kicks off side 2. A Hannon, Keith and Skeoch composition.

When the verse arpeggios kick in, it’s like the “Kashmir” riff, as each note moves up chromatically.

Also check out the lead breaks on this.

Foreign lands
With their terrorist demands
Only cause the good to hurt

Like so many others we have grown up with terror in our lives. Some experience it closely and it’s on the news when it happens and the innocent are always the ones to suffer.

The U.S.A., the U.S.S.R. with their six-guns to the side
I see the message written on the wall. Too much anger deep inside

This was a thing once upon a time. Communism versus democracy. It looks like the scars never really went away because it’s still a thing. And people thought that once the Berlin Wall fell down, democracy would rule. But the older ones from Eastern Europe like my grandfather, they knew that a new dictatorship, probably worse than the one before, was just a few years away from resurfacing.

Bang bang, I shoot ’em up
Bang bang, blow you away
It’s a showdown in the no man’s land for the cowboy of the modern day

It’s a showdown!

“Changes”

Another band composition. One of my favorite Tesla songs ever, as it moves from an emotive piano intro into a vibrato style riff.

Changes, time’s makin’ changes in my life
Rearrangin’, can’t seem to stop the hands of time
I remember, I was so young, I was much too young to see
Now I’m older, growing older, and I see things differently

A commitment to self-development and self-learning makes me question a lot of things that I once held as truth. But it all takes time. As time moves forwards, so do the changes. We don’t have three channels anymore. We don’t have dial up internet.

“Little Suzi”

A Ph.D. cover, written by Jim Diamond and Tony Hymas.

The “Albatross” intro was written by Hannon. The original version of the song had synths and was electronic, but Tesla made it an acoustic country rock style cut. In other words they made it awesome.

“Love Me”

It’s day and I’m feelin’ high, what’s the chances for you and I

What kind of high was Jeff Keith on?

Written by Hannon, Keith and Wheat, I can hear UFO and Bad Company in this. I reckon CC DeVille was also listening closely as I can hear “Nothing But A Good Time” in this.

Also check out the lead break, just for the soul and blues rock licks.

“Cover Queen”

A Hannon and Keith composition.

The “Blackout” from Scorpions inspired intro gets me interested. The verses swagger like Aerosmith. And in the last minute of the song it’s pure EVH style jamming.

“Before My Eyes”

It’s a darker cut, almost Dio like, written by Hannon, Keith, Luccketta and Skeoch composition.

If you like Van Halen and Aerosmith, there is enough here to keep you interested. If you like 70’s British acts like Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Free, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple, there is enough here to keep you interested.

If you like the Sunset Strip sounds of Motley Crue, RATT, WASP, Quiet Riot and Ratt, there is enough to keep you interested. If you like acts like Y&T, Triumph, Sammy Hagar and Montrose, those sounds are also here. And if you like the sounds of European acts like Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Scorpions and Judas Priest, then they are also present.

Tesla basically rocks.

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