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

The Record Vault: Dio – Lock Up The Wolves

The band changed. There was no one left except for Ronnie James Dio. 18 year old guitar wiz, Rowan Robertson was on guitars, Jens Johansson on keys, Teddy Cook on bass and Simon Wright on drums who left his AC/DC gig that he held from 1983 to 1989 to join.

Actually Robertson was only 17 when Dio announced to the world that he was the new guitarist in July 1989 after more than 5,000 guitarist submitted audition tapes.

“I saw an item in Kerrang! about Craig Goldie leaving Dio, so I knew they needed a guitarist. I sent in a tape just for the hell of it, you know, not expecting much, but figuring I had nothing to lose.

I was 16, learnt to play guitar in my bedroom by banging around to Bad Company records and the only stage experience I had was with a couple of pub bands that were going nowhere. I thought if I was lucky, maybe I’d get an audition”.
Rowan Robertson

I was surprised to see that Jimmy Bain was out. But he was fired (along with Claude Schnell) in mid-1989 and Vinny Appice was let go two weeks before work began on the album.

The production team also changed a little bit, with Tony Platt in the producers and engineer’s chair along with Ronnie. Suddenly the sound became better thanks to Tony Platt’s engineering experience.

According to guitarist Rowan Robertson and mentioned on Wikipedia, two more songs were written and demoed for the album but left off at the decision of Wendy Dio: “Hell Wouldn’t Take Her” and “The River Between Us”. Maybe she felt the songs were too personal.

In 1990, MTV still ruled.

It was simple. You get a music video in mass rotation and watch the album go Platinum. And the Dio camp tried. They really tried.

The photos of the band had them with a bit of a tease and hairspray in their hair. They spent some decent money on a clip for “Wild One”.

And MTV still avoided Dio, who at 48 years of age was seen as a relic of the past with nothing new to offer. My Dad turned 46 that year and I saw him as old.

Also Dio’s lyrics of jesters, clowns, gypsies and rainbows had run its course for the TV station but not for the fans.

While I ignored the “Dream Evil” album when it came out in 1987, I purchased this one.

It was a tab of “Wild One” in the “Guitar School” magazine which got me interested. I was playing along to the song before I even heard it and the guitar solo was a highlight. And I was like, “man, this dude is of a similar age and he’s smoking on the guitar, I need to get practicing”.

Wild One

Written by Dio and Robertson, it’s a great fast song to kick off the album and announce the new guy in town.

That Pre-Chorus, reminds me so much of Savatage.

And the lead break starts off as a blues-a-metal-thon, almost jazz fusion like. Then it goes into the super-fast tapping section. Another great way to announce the new gun slinger .

Check out the head banging outro. How can you not like it?

Lyrically, it was another “stand your ground and be who you want to be” message, although done in a very Dio way full of riddles.

Born On The Sun

A mixture of “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and “Holy Diver” but with Rowan Robertson providing a more EVH approach to decorating simple grooves.

Check out the drumming on this.

The song is credited to Dio, Robertson, Bain and Appice. It sounds like Appice wrote the drum parts but its Wright who plays em.

You can hide in a circle
It’s a way to survive
Be another number
At least you’d be alive

Great lyrics. So much truth in the words.

Scared to be different or speak our minds because of the resistance and the blowback. Especially these days, with social media and how a point of view can blow up and suddenly we have trolls and haters all spamming our inboxes.

Hey Angel

Written by Dio and Robertson.

The majority of stories I read when Grunge came, was how the lyrics from the Seattle bands were more deeper and darker, focusing on depression and anxiety and rooted in real life. It’s like the Seattle artists were the only artists doing stuff like that. Sort of like how the heirs to Marvin Gaye believe he was so original that they sue everyone to oblivion.

Well, heavy metal and hard rock artists did have songs dealing with isolation, loneliness, depression, conformity and being in dark places after a relationship breakdown.

How do you feel right now?
How does it feel to be alone?

My parents never asked me how I feel. These kind of emotions and questions are frowned upon when your ancestry comes from Eastern Europe.

I also grew up in life being told that angels are these all powerful beings that shine a bright light and can’t be hurt.

I suppose if you feel, you can get hurt. If you bleed, you can die. Or in the words of Schwarzenegger in “Predator”, “if it bleeds, we can kill it”.

The solo is excellent on this.

From just one album, Robertson was given a chance to do an instructional tape. His “Speed Picking” VHS tape is out there on the Net.

Between Two Hearts

Another song written by Dio and Robertson. It starts off with an acoustic arpeggio riff that reminds me of “Children Of The Sea”.

Then the slow groove kicks in, it’s almost like a blues dirge.

Check out the way Robertson plays the riffs in the second verse, combine palm muted arpeggios, diads and pedal tones.

Put on your party faces and come along
Join in the big parade
Here comes the camera
Do you look as good as your sister
Smile at the animals
They should be the ones in the cages
Turn the pages

A photo for Instagram before it was even invented.

Or a song about the paparazzi and the price of fame when we lived in a monoculture. These days, we live with many different sources informing us, and a person could be making millions from music and be walking the streets and shopping aisles with us and we wouldn’t even know.

Night Music

This one is written by Dio, Robertson and Bain.

So open up your arms
Let the night time in
Say the word and it begins

I love the night. I feel the most inspired then and there was nothing better than listening to music at night, reading the lyrics and singing out aloud, like the lyrics to this song, “Night music, you’re singer and I’m the song”.

Lock Up The Wolves

Another song written by Dio, Robertson and Bain.

The sound of a clock ticking. Its normal paced. Then it picks up in speed, almost frantic like. The music is ominous, giving the listener a feeling that time is running out. By the time the distorted guitars kick in, the ticking is relentlessly fast.

And the doom feel of the song reminds me of “Sign Of The Southern Cross”.

In the houses of the holy
To the middle of the mystic sea
At the cradle of the world

Its back to his fantasy places, about wolves, screaming for sanctuary and how there is no back door to heaven, just a front door to hell. I guess we’ll meet again.

Evil On Queen Street

Written by Dio, Robertson and Cook. It’s like a 12 bar blues dirge with another killer solo by Robertson.

Walk On Water

Written by Dio, Robertson and Johansson, it reminds me of “Stand Up And Shout” but while “Stand Up And Shout” screams rebellion, “Walk On Water” tells ya to not even try because you can’t “Walk On Water”.

The lead break is guitar hero worthy.

Twisted

A Dio, Robertson, Bain and Appice cut.

And when I told the truth
They were sure it was a lie

What would you do if no one believes you?

When your truth is seen as a lie.

Why Are They Watching Me

A Dio and Robertson cut.

It’s confusing lyrically, about being ready to rock and someone watching.

My Eyes

A Dio, Robertson and Johansson cut.

I’ve seen it from heaven and hell
I’ve seen it from the eyes of a stargazer

Great song titles to drop into a song.

Rock and roll eyes
Tell rock and roll lies
And rock and roll lies
Never end

I guess what happens in rock and roll stays in rock and roll.

“I think obviously, my defining moment is the “Lock Up the Wolves” album, and I feel very fortunate for it. It was a good album…it captured excitement and I played really well on it.”
Rowan Robertson

From memory it’s Robertson’s only album.

As soon as the album was released it was met with mixed reviews. Early sales were positive in the U.S and then the album spiralled down the charts as it disappeared altogether.

But it had longevity in the European markets as Dio’s brand was still big business there. So it was no surprise that the first leg of the tour was in Europe.

And Black Sabbath was a just a phone call away, and when that call came, the “Lock Up The Wolves” band was put on ice and never re-awakened after the Sabbath gig fell apart.

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

Australian Method Series: Jimmy Barnes – Two Fires

“I’d been caught between two fires for a long time. One was the inferno that I had built with my success and addictions. The other was the fire that burned for my family”

It’s how Chapter 33 called “out of control like a bushfire” started from the “Working Class Man” book.

“Two Fires” is his fourth studio album released in 1990 and his first United States release for Atlantic Records.

This was the last proper attempt to break Barnes to the U.S market, as previous label partnerships with Elektra and Geffen for the earlier records fell apart due to various reasons.

It was also the first step away from the AOR sounding “Freight Train Heart”. Most of the song writing credits this time are shared by the band and unknown writers instead of Desmond Child, Jonathan Cain and Diane Warren.

“Lay Down Your Guns”

The album gave Barnesy a chance to work with some great players like Brian Setzer from The Stray Cats who plays guitar on this.

A sinister crime noir “Peter Gunn” style riff kicks it off. The song is written by Jimmy Barnes and Rick Nowels.

Nowels was still in his early days of becoming a huge songwriter. His credits now include Adele, Lana Del Rey and many more. Just go to his Wikipedia page.

Lay down your guns and surrender

“Let’s Make It Last All Night”

Very Foreigner sounding, the Chorus is massive as you would expect from a song written by Barnes, Diane Warren and Desmond Child.

It was also a hit in Australia and it’s a staple of his live show.

Let’s make it last all night
This could be the last time I make love to you

“Little Darling”

A Barnes composition with Setzer on guitar again bringing some rockabilly to a soul rock tune.

Well I get to your house
Like the rest of the band
But somehow these things don’t always turn out as planned
You called me a cab and yeah I walked out that door

Barnesy talks about this event in his book. he thought he messed up his chance with his future wife.

“Love Is Enough”

It’s got a feel like “Every Breath You Take” in the verses, just more rockier.

“Hardline”

It’s a hard rock track and one of the best on the album.

Well it’s late at night something just ain’t right
I can tell by the look in your eye
You don’t say two words
You got a stare that burns
It’s gonna be a long long night

“One of a Kind”

Another rocker with hard rock lyrics.

Tight skirts, like a flirt
She don’t stop till it starts to hurt
She’s sweet, what a treat
Got to get her into my back seat

Mmmm. Flirt with skirt with hurt and sweet with treat and backseat. Overused terms but I would not have it any other way.

“Sister Mercy”

Cause a woman’s got the power
To take control of me
Well she can wrap me round her finger
And make a damn fool of me

The blues songs from the 1930s had lyrics like this. That’s how much staying power the blues medium had.

“When Your Love is Gone”

A great ballad. The sound is dated as it uses a lot of 80s sounding midis.

Well, I missed all the signs, never read between lines

And the Barnesy kids make an appearance in the outro.

“Between Two Fires”

A track written by Barnes and Holly Knight.

As you would expect, it’s anthemic and melodic rock.

The Intro and verses riff remind me of “Rocking In The Free World”. And the Chorus soars.

Caught between two fires
Losing control since I first met you

“Fade to Black”

This is a great rock song. Forgotten behind the hits.

When day fades to black
I won’t look back, of that I’m certain

When you just want to escape the rat race for the night.

I wanna get of this one way street
Don’t want to be among the faceless

“Hold On”

It sounds like a track from “Out Of This World” by Europe. With a bit of Led Zeppelin thrown in.

Like most albums of the time, the labels held the power, so they made artists write and write and write.

Barnes wrote over 30 tracks for the album with a lot of em still unreleased and some as B-sides to the singles.

And the fans rallied behind him once again, sending the album to number 1 on two separate occasions and making it 6x Platinum.

And that elusive break through into the US market still remained elusive.

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

The Record Vault: Don Dokken – Up From The Ashes

I know, I know. I mentioned that “Lightning Strikes Again” is the last Dokken album I purchased and that would bring to an end my Record Vault posts on Dokken. But as I was filing away the CD’s I realised there is one more album that I have which I forgot about.

Released in 1990.

“Up from the Ashes” is an excellent record. No one talks about it, but I love it. It’s better than some of the records that outsold it. And it’s been missing from Spotify for a long time but it made an appearance sometime last year.

Released under the name of Don Dokken due to a legal challenge by Pilson, Lynch and Brown to stop him from using the Dokken name. That’s another story on its own. That shouldn’t detract from the album not going platinum. But Don believes it did.

Joining Don on the project are John Norum and Billy White on guitar, Peter Baltes on bass and Mikkey Dee on drums.

“Crash ‘N Burn”

It’s written by Don Dokken and Billy White, who played guitar in Watchtower, a progressive math metal band that released two albums in the late 80’s.

How good is the melodic flamenco and calm acoustic guitar intro?

It then gives way to some blistering and melodic hard rock.

And its personal. “Crash and burn to live again, up from the ashes, I rise” sings Don.

Check out the lead breaks, they are excellent.

“1000 Miles Away”

Written by Dokken and John Norum, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Those chants/ahhs in the Chorus when Don sings, “there’s nothing left to say as I send these words a thousand miles away” are excellent.

“When Some Nights”

Written by Dokken, Norum and White.

The intro brings back memories of “Still Of The Night” from Whitesnake or “Crying In The Rain”. Don sings, “take me back” and a staccato chord is played, then he sings “to a place I remember well” and another staccato chord is played.

“Forever”

Written by Dokken and engineer Wyn Davis. The feel is basically “Heaven Sent” reincarnated. I’m all in with the clean tone to distortion dynamic.

“Living a Lie”

Written by Dokken and Norum, who delivers a machine gun killer riff to kick off the song. And I’m swept up with the music thinking of the Chorus to “Don’t Lie To Me”.

And the lead break is shred-a-licious.

“When Love Finds a Fool”

Written by Dokken and Glenn Hughes.

For a power ballad it’s a favourite. It starts off with arpeggios and a bluesy like lead. The way the song percolates is haunting and then the Chorus with Glenn Hughes on backing vocals crashes in. You can hear the pain.

No one likes break ups. It’s painful. You think of the time wasted and opportunities missed to grow your life. And your starting fresh. It’s scary and the people you knew, you don’t know anymore.

Make sure you check out the lead break and how it builds itself up so the Chorus can crash in again.

“Give It Up”

Written by Dokken and White, a rolling bass line and simple 4/4 drum beat kicks off this AC/DC style rocker in feel. Otherwise it’s a melodic rocker.

Cause when it’s all said and done
Who’s gonna put away the gun

Most of us die from our own doing. Either our own vices and addictions or by our own hand. The gun is the least of our worries.

“Mirror Mirror”

Written by Dokken, White and Mark Spiro. It feels like the Intro/Chorus riff is played by the fingers and not a pick.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
I’m still here, I survived it all

Whatever drags you down, don’t let it. Relationships will always disappoint you and so would that dream job.

Be a survivor.

And the lead break is guitar hero worthy. If you like great guitar playing, check it out.

“Stay”

From my understanding it’s an unfinished Dokken cut which finally gets some love and attention here.

Written by Dokken and Mick Brown with a bass intro played by Tony Franklin. And it sounds like a Blue Murder cut, just before the distortion kicks in.

How catchy is the Chorus?

Although clichéd, you will be singing along with it and playing air guitar to the very Scorpions sounding lead break.

“Down in Flames”

“Trust me everything is fine” repeats a robotic sounding voice. It feels like its counting down with each repeat and then the music crashes in, to kick off one of the heavier songs on the album.

Written by Dokken and White, the intro riff gets me banging my head.

Lyrically it’s about a relationship, but it could have been about so much more.

After the main lead break there is a little harmony lead break which mimics the Chorus vocal melody. Check it out.

“The Hunger”

Written by Dokken and White. Ken Mary also plays drums on this song instead of Mickey Dee and I remember reading a Metal Edge article about this album which said that Ken Mary actually played on the first three tracks as well, before he was replaced.

And of course the first minute is very drum heavy and aggressive. It settles down in the verses, before picking up again for the pre-chorus and then the Chorus.

Norum gets a lot of accolades as a guitarist and he should, he is excellent, however Billy White deserves a special mention. He co-wrote the majority of the songs on this album and shared the leads with Norum. Other sources state that White did 90% of the leads. I’m not sure which leads White did, but all the leads on the album reminded me of Vito Bratta.

After this album and tour, Don lost his Geffen deal and went with John Kalodner to Columbia to reform Dokken. Norum continued with his solo career and bands, eventually re-uniting with Joey Tempest and Europe. Baltes went back to Accept. Mickey Dee would join Motorhead up until Lemmy’s death and then Scorpions from 2016. White on the other hand, just went missing after this album.

Don Dokken was at the peak of his powers between this period. “Back For The Attack”, “Up From The Ashes” and “Dysfunctional” are evidence of that power.

Crank em all.

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Music

The Spirit Of 83 To 85 Returned Between 1990 and 1992. Part 2…

I’ve been writing about 1983 for quite a while now. I didn’t think that when I started the series that more than 12 months later I would still be on the same topic. I guess the year was revolutionary to me. I always held a view that metal and hard rock music committed its own demise between 1990 and 1992 by dumbing down lyrics and simplifing their song structures. So when the bands from Seattle came out singing about social problems and personal thoughts, it was a no brainer to take the more serious lyrical subjects over the “having a good time and getting laid” lyrics.

However, during the writing of the 1983 series, most of the bands that had an impact in that year to me, also released music between 1990 and 1992 and I didn’t see much dumbing down of lyrics. Instead I saw better lyrics, more mature lyrics, lyrics that showcased highs and lows.

And my view of hard rock and metal committing suicide is changing. Yes, bands got signed to mimic another popular band.

Britny Fox = Cinderella. Tuff = Motley Crue. Steelheart = Whitesnake. Poison – Motley Crüe. Warrant = Motley Crue/Poison. Bullet Boys = Motley Crue/Poison. Faster Pussycat = Guns N Roses. Tora Tora = Guns N Roses. LA Guns = Guns N Roses. Danger Danger = Bon Jovi/Motley Crue. XYZ = Dokken. Roxy Blue = Van Halen and so forth. From memory, 95% of the lyrics of the clones dealt with having a good time, getting it on with someone and I guess having a good time again.

Here are another 6 records that have lyrical ideas and themes far removed from the clichéd sex, drugs and rock n roll themes.

  • Megadeth – Rust In Peace
  • Ozzy – No More Tears
  • Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer
  • Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
  • Pantera – A Vulgar Display of Power

“Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” deals with killing in religions name. I guess people are still killing for religion, something I struggle to understand. “Sins Of The Father” deals with a person paying for a crime committed in the name of religion. “Heresy” deals with religion corrupting the world;

People, they go to war
Because religion gives them
Reason to fight

“Dawn Patrol” deals with the aftermath of global warming, with the lyrics “the green house in effect, our environment was wrecked”. “Letters From Earth” also addresses the destruction of our environment as the lyrics deal with sending letters to an unnamed source/planet from a cold world called Earth. “Rust In Peace.. Polaris” deals with nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. Polaris also refers to the star that sits over the North Pole, so is Mustaine singing about a new ice age brought on by nuclear war. “Master Of Insanity” deals with killing rain falling down from the sky and cities burning. “Shattered” deals with the world as we know it ending from below. “Computer God” deals with our infatuation to technology, virtual reality and artificial intelligence and Dio more or less sums it up with the following lyrics;

Virtual existence
With a superhuman mind
The ultimate creation
Destroyer of mankind
Termination of our youth
For we do not compute

“Primal Concrete Sledge” addresses social inequality.

There’s a double standard for the way we live
If there’s nothing to have, well then there’s nothing to save

“Rise” is about how we need to push aside our differences and the influences of our tribes, so we can unite and rise and dominate the world. “No Good (Attack The Radical)” addresses the race divide in the U.S.

In the states
There’s a problem with race
Because of ignorant past burned fires
From evolution
We’ve been killing each other
I figure man should have it down to a science

In “I Don’t Want To Change The World”, the chorus lyrics deal with how a person doesn’t want to change the world and they don’t want the world to change them. It’s the metal head commandment. Just leave us be and we will get by. “The Art Of Shredding” addresses social wrongs with the lyrics;

Unity is a rare thing
Blind eyes of society bring
The category of minority
Now what are we supposed to be?
Born free to be
Powerless to change the world
With our lives in the hands of madmen

“TV Crimes” deals with evangelists on TV guranteening instant glory if people send their money. Dio again nails it. It’s basically the same topic Daisley wrote about for “Miracle Man” a few years before.

Gotta send me a plastic Jesus
There’s a check in the mail today
That’s what I need
Somebody to love

“Desire” deals with wants. In it’s essence it’s a self-reflection song of what it means to be Ozzy. “I gotta keep rocking, ’cause it makes me crazy, it makes me crazy, who needs to be cool”. In “Hellraiser”, the lyrics deal with living on an endless road, around the world for rock and roll. That’s what people wanted, to be on the road, live the life and the groupies. All the money might be in tech and banking, but they don’t have this. “Time Machine” deals with a person who refuse to change and stays the same for their whole life. “I” is also about wants.

“Poison Was The Cure” deals with Mustaine’s addictions. “Zombie Stomp” addresses drug addictions and liking the users to zombies. “Psycho Holiday” also addresses addiction while being on the road.

“Mama, I’m Coming Home” deals with being away from a loved one. It was a hit, not because Ozzy sold out, but because he crossed over to country courtesy of Zakk’s Southern Rock influence.

“Tornado of Souls” deals with a relationship break up. “Too Late” also deals with the same issue. “Walk” deals with so called friends talking crap about you to other friends and then those other friends telling you what the so called friends said. “This Love” also deals with a relationship breakdown.

“Road To Nowhere” is about reflection and how in the end we are all on roads that really lead back to ourselves and if we are too caught up with our heads in the clouds, we will pass ourselves by. “A New Level” addresses moving on from the past that involved being stepped on and spat on by lesser men to a new level of confidence and power.

“Hanger 18” deals with government/military conspiracies/cover ups. “Cemetery Gates” deals with religious conspiracies/cover ups.

“S.I.N” addresses how we deal with our thoughts when we are alone. “Mouth For War” is about using your aggression and hate for good instead of evil. Be creative instead of destructive. “Live In A Hole” also addresses our fears of breaking out of our shell and if we allow the fear to take over, we are unable to break out of the cage it creates.

Metal and rock was good. The record labels on the other hand chased the dollar and fucked it all up.

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