“Diamonds – The Best of Dio” was marketed as a “greatest hits” collection. I remember the ads. But the title says, “best off”. I guess marketing people don’t know the difference between “greatest hits” and “best of”.
And Ronnie James Dio is one of those artists who didn’t sit don’t to write hits. He just wrote songs that he liked.
It was released internationally in 1992, and never released in the U.S. And there was no effort with the CD. Just check out the no frills booklet.
I got this compilation because of the track “Hide In The Rainbow”, which was never released on a Dio studio album before. A rare EP called “The Dio E.P” (original title) was released in 1986 with the song, but like all things physical, it wasn’t readily available.
Back then no one was really sure who played on the track.
Was “Hide In The Rainbow” Vivian Campbell’s last studio recording with the band or did Craig Goldy play on the track?
The booklet states Craig Goldy.
But, history and the benefit of hindsight has shown that the CD booklets notes and credits are not a good source of truth sometimes.
In relation to the album, it covers the well-known songs in chronological order based on year of release.
“Holy Diver”, “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” are from the “Holy Diver” album, released in 1983.
“We Rock”, “The Last in Line” and “Evil Eyes” are from “The Last In Line” album, released in 1984.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Children”, “Sacred Heart” and “Hungry for Heaven” are from the “Sacred Heart” album, released in 1985.
“Hide in the Rainbow” is from “The Dio E.P” released in 1986.
Listen to the intro. I wish they continued it a bit longer.
And is it just me, or does the Chorus riff remind you of “No More Tears” from Ozzy. Then again this is 5 years before “No More Tears”, so maybe young Zakk was listening. Anyway, all music is derivative. Take what came before and make it a bit different.
“Dream Evil” is the title track, released in 1987.
“Wild One” and “Lock Up the Wolves” are from the “Lock Up The Wolves” album, released in 1990.
You could argue that “Stand Up And Shout”, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “All the Fools Sailed Away” and “Born On The Sun” are better songs and should be included.
If you have the albums mentioned above, there is no need for this compilation. But if you didn’t have any of those albums, this collection is an excellent addition.
At the time I was still buying Dio product to keep my collection up to date, however this ended up being the last purchase for my CD/Vinyl/Tape collection.
The studio albums which came in the 90’s and 2000’s were not available easily in Australia and had to be imported in at a higher price. So I ignored em, but my mate “Nick The Stick” is a massive fan, so he had em and he burned em on a CD for me.
I did buy a couple of DVD’s in the 2000’s called “Holy Diver Live” and “We Rock”. Those reviews will be coming soon.
I posted last week about the albums that made up the Top 20 in Australia back in 1992.
Here is the Singles List.
Number 1 Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
The Hendrix “Little Wing” inspired intro from Frusciante converted a lot of rock heads to the RHCP. Their album was on top and their single was on top.
Number 2 To Be With You – Mr Big
Their worst song by far, but it cashed in on the Unplugged acoustic craze. It worked for Extreme and it worked for Mr Big. But those ballad fans who cross over for the song are fly by nighters.
Number 3 Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
The variety on the self-titled “Black” album is a big reason why it sold. There was enough there to please metal heads, rock heads, thrash heads, country heads and pop heads. And this song is a perfect example of it. Plus it has a killer James Hetfield lead break.
Number 4 Alive – Pearl Jam
I get why it was popular, but I didn’t like it when it came out and after I purchased the album, I preferred a lot of the other tracks to this.
Number 5 Let’s Get Rocked – Def Leppard
So you wanna get rocked…. I guess we still wanted to get rocked.
Number 6 Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven – Bryan Adams
This is from the “Waking Up The Neighbours” album that went to number 1 everywhere.
Adams has a lot of fans down under, so it’s no surprise his songs chart well. And what a run he had between 1983 and 1999. And he made some big choices, like moving from Jim Vallance to Mutt Lange and the momentum just kept getting bigger.
Number 7 November Rain – Guns N Roses
You get three emotive Slash solos.
What more could you want?
Number 8 Viva Las Vegas – ZZ Top
It’s a cover song, but at this point in time there was nothing that ZZ Top could do wrong. This is one of the two new tracks, the other being “Gun Love”. Like Adams, they were on a winning plus decade.
Number 9 Dream Alone – Killing Time
An Australian hard rock band, which had a band name, the same as the U.S hardcore band and after this single release they would change it to Mantissa.
They supported bands like Janes Addiction, Baby Animals and Pantera on National tours but they had a constant turnover of musicians which felt like a momentum killer.
Number 10 Sister’s Crazy – Candy Harlots
This band story is a combination of Anvil and Motley Crue.
They had a deal offered in 1987 but their manager refused to sign it, because he wanted a bigger cut and then signed the band to a four year management deal, which suppressed the band from signing the record deal themselves. No other label wanted to get involved in this legal mess. They finally did sign a deal in 1991.
They had a massive Club following like Motley Crue. There was tragedy when one of their main songwriters Ron Barrett died before they even got their deal. In the 90’s, Barrett’s death was reported as a drug overdose, while these days, its reported as an asthma attack. And the evolving door of musicians just kept on happening, with drummer Tony Cardinal being the only founding musician in the band when they got their deal.
And as soon as they released their “Five Wicked Ways” album in 1992, within a year it was over.
The war was on, as rock bands, especially hard rock bands who got classed as hair bands started to fight for survival against the flannelette armies of Seattle and the changing A&R personnel at the labels who wanted to cash in on the Seattle tide.
To understand how quickly the support for hard rock music was abandoned, White Lion was given a million bucks to record “Mane Attraction” and after it was released, some more money was spent on a few music videos and the album didn’t set the charts alight and when the band decided to call it quits, there was nothing from the label. Not even a phone call. Except for Vito, who got an offer for a new project, but after demoing some material, the offer also disappeared.
But there was rock music. It wasn’t as polished as some of mid 80’s albums, but the roots of this rock music was with the classic 70’s.
Number 1 Remedy The Black Crowes are still at Number 1. The chorus lyrical message of looking for a remedy to fix our worries resonated with everyone on the planet old enough to remember this song, even though the verse lyrics are pretty silly about a dead bird from the window sill and why can’t his girl sit still.
And their Grateful Dead jam ethic had them record this album over a weekend, and you can hear the fun and the love in the notes and the space and the performances.
Number 2 Under The Bridge The Jimi Hendrix influenced guitar intro got a lot of people, like me, interested and the lyrical message of addiction and homelessness under an catchy vocal melody, took this song to the top. Actually, it took me a while to get used to the voice of Anthony Kiedis and I’m glad I did.
By the way, John Frusciante is also another underrated guitar hero. You don’t need to play solos with your head looking at the heavens to be a good guitarist. You need to be able to write riffs, memorable ones at that, and this dude could do that with the Peppers.
Both of the songs have gospel like backing vocals, which enhance em nicely.
Number 3 Road To Nowhere Ozzy and Zak are still riding high on the back of the “No More Tears” album, with their Southern Rock anthem sitting pretty. I like this song more than “Mama I’m Coming Home”. The opening arpeggios and Zack’s pentatonic Skynyrd solo is brilliant.
And those opening lines;
When I was looking back on my life And all things I done to me
If we just did the same abuse to someone else’s body that we gave to our own bodies, we would be locked up as it would be borderline criminal.
The wreckage of my past keeps haunting me It just won’t leave me alone
Sometimes our past deeds supersede our current deeds. There is no redemption from them, even though people say there is.
Because it’s impossible to be liked by all.
And for the haters and the ones who believe they were wronged, the past is never forgotten.
Number 4 Make Love Like A Man It’s not the best Def Leppard track, but they had enough goodwill because of their first four albums that we still gave them a lot of love for “Adrenalize”.
I think they tried to re-write “Pour Some Sugar On Me” with this one.
Musically the song works, but I can’t say I am a fan of the lyrics. But then again Def Leppard was allowed to get away with this kind of cheesiness because of the first four albums.
Number 5 Sting Me To show how powerful a jam album became in the charts, The Black Crows have another song in the Top 5.
The album showcases a band in love with the blues, grooving and jamming their way to the top of the charts and our minds and our hearts.
And it also shows an audience who was sick of the over polished sounds of hard rock and the generic sound-a-likes.
If you feel like a riot, then don’t you deny it Put your good foot forward No need for heroics I just want you to show it Now’s the time to shine
I have no idea what the overall song is about, but the opening four lines connected immediately especially the call and response vocal line, where Chris Robinson sings the first and third lines and the backing singers sing the second and the fourth lines.
And that verse riff which moves between the G chord, to the F, to the C and back to the G chord is excellent, as it doesn’t follow the usual power chord route, and instead it moves along with single notes and arpeggios.
Number 6 Living In A Dream Arc Angels They made no dent in Australia.
Which was strange for a Geffen act, as Geffen was renowned for its scorched earth marketing policy.
Especially for a group that was sort of like a super group. It had two individual guitarists/singers fronting who had decent solo careers and the rhythm section of SRV’s “Double Trouble”.
This song has that “When The Levee Breaks” feel in the music and of course, the singing is a cross between Robert Plant and Chris Robinson.
Number 7 Come As You Are Another Geffen act, Nirvana already smashed the charts with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and they starting coming for a little bit more.
For me, it’s that dropped D, chromatic riff, over a ringing A pedal point which sets the ominous feel.
Number 8 57 Channels And Nothing On Bruce Springsteen
I’m not a fan of the song, but I do like the message, that we pay to surround ourselves with crap.
The song starts off with two people buying a large place in the Hollywood Hills and connecting a Pay TV service to the house.
I know when I had my Pay TV subscription, I would scroll through the “scheduled” programming and I couldn’t watch anything.
Imagine if I had the choice to select what I could watch, instead of waiting for the allocated timeslot. But innovation was too hard for the Pay TV corporations and then they cried foul, when Netflix came and blew away their business model.
Number 9 Life Is A Highway Tom Cochrane won big with this song. He is still doing victory laps from it, as it’s licensed everywhere from commercials to movies to TV shows.
When I googled “life is a highway lyrics”, it came up with the Rascal Flatts version.
What happened to Tom Cochrane?
Life’s like a road that you travel on When there’s one day here and the next day gone
No road trip is ever the same and no day you live is ever the same. What is certain, is that the day comes and then it goes. You can’t get it back.
Life is a highway I want to ride it all night long
It was the message of freedom. That is what getting a drivers licence meant. A ticket to travel wherever you wanted to.
Number 10 Even Flow I didn’t like “Alive” and “Even Flow” in the beginning. For me, “Jeremy” and “Black” sealed the deal. Afterwards I went back to listen to the other songs.
But that was many years later.
Number 11 Girlfriend Matthew Sweet I’m not a fan.
Number 12 Now More Than Ever John Mellencamp
The song is nothing like the classic Mellencamp songs, but the message in the lyrics resonate. And people were looking for these kind of messages.
If you believe Won’t you please raise your hands Let’s hear your voices Let us know where you stand
Remember when artists used to take stands on issues, like Dee Snider standing against the PMRC and censorship. In the process, he got ostracised by the metal community for being a glory seeker.
And MTV cashed up the labels, and the labels used that cash to sway the artists and in the process, the artists became further slaves to the machine. The days of Roger Waters or Jim Morrison, telling the label to go and shove it, became a page in history.
Now more than ever The world needs love
This was relevant back in 1992 and 28 years later, it’s still relevant today. I am working from home because of COVID-19.
I’m not panic buying and I’m trying to do my best to help. But I put on the news and I’m not seeing the same.
Now more than ever I can’t stand alone
We live in tribes. No one wants to be ostracised. So that scaffold support network is super important. And we need to remember that others feel the same way, so you are not alone.
Number 13 Tangled In The Web Lynch Mob
This song is one of George Lynch’s best songs.
His guitar tone, which isn’t as heavily distorted like his Dokken days, is quality, the Gm riff is bone crunching and swingy at the same time and those brass instruments just add to the quality.
And Keith Olsen (RIP) did a stellar job in the production, even bringing in the brass instruments.
Number 14 Make You A Believer Sass Jordan It made no dent on the Australian charts and the first time I heard this song was today, when I put it on the Spotify playlist.
Number 15 Love Is Alive Joe Cocker His abrasive yet melodic vocals are really good and this bluesy rocker works.
You can see quite a few songs on this list have lyrical messages of love, loving each other, finding love and what we need is a little bit of love to share around and make the world a better place.
Number 16 One U2 This is a big song and the way “The Edge” just keeps decorating the song is brilliant.
Plus Bono with his vocal melody and the message of one life, one love and how we need to care for it, share it and make the world a better place.
Number 17 What You Give It aint whatcha give, it’s how you live is the catchcry here. And Tesla was on their way to another successful album and tour, against the grain of the market forces.
Number 18 Every Time I Roll The Dice Delbert McClinton
Never heard of Delbert, but his derivative version of “Old Time Rock’N’Roll” which is also a derivative version of standard blues is cool to listen to.
Number 19 Mama Im Coming Come Ozzy Osbourne I really like the music written by Zak Wylde here. That whole Southern Rock crossover with Heavy Metal works and Lemmy really nailed the lyrics on this one.
Plus did I mention that the guitar solo is pretty awesome.
Number 20 You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come Vince Neil What does Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades and Vince Neil have in common?
It’s a killer song title, as good as “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “I Love Rock And Roll” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. And the song is probably the best Motley Crue song that wasn’t written and released by Motley Crue that featured Vince Neil on vocals in the 90’s. Then again, I am a fan of “Primal Scream” and “Angela”.
Let’s get into the time machine and go back to 1992.
In the magazine, it was announced that Vivian Campbell joined Def Leppard.
White Zombie was in the “Fresh Flesh” section even though the earliest incarnation of the band had been doing the rounds since 1985. It’s a long way to a major label deal and an even longer way to mainstream success.
“Invincible she devils from the fifth dimension, living aliens and warped sexual experiments” was how “La Sexorcisto: Devils Music Vol. 1” was explained/promoted.
The “Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert” got a five skulls out of five skulls review.
Kiss was promoting the “Revenge” album by saying “We’re Kiss and That’s The Revenge” which got a four skull out of five review. So did “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion” from The Black Crowes who also had a tour on the cards.
Meanwhile Slaughter’s “The Wild Life” and Twisted Sister’s “Big Hits And Nasty Cuts” both got three skulls.
And Body Counts self-titled album and Iron Maiden’s “Fear Of The Dark” both got five skulls.
I guess you know which albums I got during this period. Anything with three skulls and above.
Geffen Records was hedging it’s bets by promoting Guns N Roses, Nirvana, White Zombie and Roxy Blue all on one ad, with the slogan “HIT someone you love with metal”.
And the HM editor spent six days on the road with Metallica and the best quote from the interview came from James on Lars traveling drum kit:
I find it silly. As much as he wants to be in the spotlight, he also gets to move around. He’s basically a front man on drums.
Speaking of drummers, Motörhead sacked Philthy Phil (again) and hired Mikkey Dee from Don Dokken’s solo band. Dee was also helping out World War III because Vinny Appice left to rejoin the revamped Black Sabbath.
Wayne’s World became part of popular culture and L7 was getting heavily promoted in Australia.
Motley Crue still hadn’t announced their vocalist. Maybe because Sebastian Bach was still auditioning. This is what John Corabi’s Scream band mates had to say:
I guess the dedication from Corabi didn’t come through and those cool cats on vocals to replace John Corabi also didn’t come through for The Scream.
And the song “Young And Dumb” from The Scream appeared on the Encino Man soundtrack, but it was Vince Neil who took top billing. How fitting.
The follow-up self-titled Lynch Mob album had Keith Olsen producing. And it comes from the legend known as George Lynch and his continuing saga of the lead singer revolving door. It’s 1992. One of my favourite bands in Dokken was close to four years dead. In between that time George Lynch and Mick Brown shacked up together with Lynch Mob and remained with Elektra Records. Jeff Pilson went to War and Peace and lead singer Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and jumped ship.
The first post Dokken battle between Lynch and Dokken was won by Lynch who released the excellent “Wicked Sensation” first and scored a big win from the Dokken faithful. However, Don Dokken and John Kalodner assembled an all-star cast for “Up From The Ashes” and even though the album was an exemplary piece of melodic hard rock, it failed commercially.
However the great momentum built up by the Mark 1 version of Lynch Mob was taken back a few steps with the ousting of vocalist Oni Logan. The story goes that Lynch had a problem with the way Logan sounded live. So after letting Logan go, the band had Glenn Hughes come in. He would sing the songs and then new singer Robert Mason would also go in and he’d sing the songs.
Then Hughes and Mason would pick apart both performances and come up with one final definitive vocal take that Mason would go back in and sing again.
“Jungle Of Love”
It’s a crime that it sounded too much like everything else. Suddenly, towards the end of the Eighties and early Nineties, all of the hard rock bands started bringing back the Seventies blues influences/boogies, however it was Jake E.Lee and Badlands that did it best.
“Tangled In The Web”
It’s the horns that make this track and along with the hallucinogenic guitar sound they blend in nicely, making the track swing. Billboard Magazine in their 13 June 1992 issue said that it the song “May prove to be a hard sell, but well worth a spin nevertheless.” By 18th July, 1992 the song was a fast mover on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks, sitting at 16.
It’s a classic. And classics never go stale. It is unique enough to sound fresh as every year goes on. Listening to it today, i can honestly say it feels fresh and not dated. In other words, it is not rooted into that hard rock sound of the Eighties.
The song writing credits read that all the music came from George Lynch. Lyrics on the other hand came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.
My temperature’s rising
As the sweat rolls
From my head to your lips”
It’s a bastardized riff taken from “The Hunter”. Is there a genre called Hard Rock Swing.
One thing that was prominent on this album was the “cleaning up” of Lynch’s distorted tones. Which is a good thing. As a guitarist, I am all too aware how a lot of gain can mask a lot of imperfections. So to play with a cleaner distortion, you need to be on your game. The riffs are more defined and “Tangled In The Web” is a fine example.
In the lead break, Lynch was asked to be like Eric Clapton and he winged it. The producer loved it, Lynch hated it. The producer won out in the end.
“I’m the evil in the bible,
Go to church but never pray
I’m a sister with a habit,
a preacher never saved”
Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.
AC/DC eat your heart out. Actually, if people remember the excellent Australian band, “Baby Animals” led by Suze DeMarchi then you can say that this song is taken from their debut album.
“Dream Until Tomorrow”
Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.
“Trust in my love
You know only time can separate us”
Love the clean tone that kicks it off. I remember reading in an interview that three different guitars got used, with different amp settings in order to achieve that clean tone.
Again the cleaner tones came as a breath of fresh air for the year that was 1992. The song was a precursor to the “Sacred Groove” album in the same way that “Mr Scary” was.
And just when you think the song is over, it restarts and builds for the last-minute and a half.
“Cold Is The Heart”
Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics again came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.
“Icy hand behind a velvet glove
As she sits on the face of the world”
Again the cleanliness of the distorted tones really stand out. The song could be on any Dokken album and not be out-of-place. That was always the Achilles heel of George Lynch. He hated the fact that he was always referred to Dokken’s guitarist.
“Tie Your Mother Down”
Yep, it is a cover. Brian May wrote it. Lynch Mob recorded it as a tribute to Freddie Mercury. God damn that lead section is pure bliss with that basic diminished shape shifted up the neck
The jam like attitude grabs me from the get go.
“Heaven Is Waiting”
It’s a pop song and its a very underrated song that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and George Lynch.
“I ain’t nothing but the devil’s fool”
“I Want It”
Van Halen and AC/DC merged with “Empire” era Queensryche comes to mind. Another classic hard rocker, that got lost in all of the other generic crap from 1992. It’s also hidden deep in the album, so you had to be a fan to get this deep into the album. As usual the music came from Lynch and the lyrics came from Brown, Mason and Esposito.
“When Darkness Calls”
“You can’t resist it
It’s black or white”
Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito and Robert Mason.
I am hooked from the get go. That phased out/flanged out guitar arpeggios with the backward echoed sounding lead lines and all merged with a killer vocal melody. It’s a classic metal song and along with “Tangled In The Web” they are the stand outs of this album by far. Songs to build careers on.
Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.
“Eyes once open never closed
That’s the gateway to the soul”
Great riffs and great melodies but it is more of the same of what came before.
In the end, the album while great failed to match the sales of “Wicked Sensation”. When that happened in 1992, it was more or less the beginning of the end. As a guitarist George Lynch was in my Top 5 of influences, however it was clear that he had a lead singer firing complexion.
Lynch Mob was on tour and Lynch was “not feeling it” with Mason and he wanted to get another singer. That singer was Ray Gillen, who at the time wasn’t interested because he had just completed “Voodoo Highway” with Badlands and was keen to push and promote that album.
If only Gillen knew the fall out that would happen between him and Jake a few months later. Glenn Hughes was considered, however due to his age, that was discarded.
The image of Lynch Mob being a band was non-existent and the legend of George Lynch being a control freak just kept on growing. The band never took off as it should have based on the quality of the musicians and the song writing. But in the end, like every George Lynch project, it self-imploded before it even had a chance to take off, because George Lynch is George Lynch.
And then George Lynch returned to the Dokken fold for the already written “Dysfunctional” album and even though as a hard core fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it, the truth of the matter is the band was spent. And we can speculate or argue why or just revel in the greatness of what came before.
It’s 1992 and the only terms on people’s lips are Metallica, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grunge, Seattle, Vince Neil leaving/fired from Motley Crue and Mr Big.
And then you have this rock band from Scotland called GUN releasing a straight-ahead hard rock album that had more roots in the Seventies era than the dying Eighties era.
Other acts from the late eighties that released an album or two, either called it a day or tweaked their sound to be more “grunge-like”.
With an album cover featuring, Benny Lynch, who was Scotland’s first boxing World Champion and who also remained undefeated throughout his career, “Gallus” was a defiant record. Serving as Gun’s second album, they let the music do the talking. The lyrical themes didn’t stray too much from the debut and like its predecessor, it is loaded with a shitload of attitude and energy. By not adopting certain American Glam looks, instead focusing on a general functional casual dress sense, also helped the band survive the big cull.
When the Rock’N’Roll history is written by the Whiggish winners, Gun will be relegated to a mere footnote. But their presence at a time when everyone was selling out to become mainstream darlings was a welcomed relief.
“Steal Your Fire”
It’s got this “AC/DC” meets “The Cult” attitude in the verse and chorus, while the Pre-Chorus has this INXS vibe. It’s a blend of rock’n’roll that is so distant from the LA Glam Rock scene however I love that Dokken “It’s Not Love” vibe after the solo section.
(You better listen to me while you can)
I’m sick of this world and it’s greed for gold
(It can never be the same again)
I’m sick and tired of being bought and sold
(There’s nothing left I’ve taken everything)
Life’s a gamble, nothing’s sure
(Why don’t you face it you can never win)
I can see it for the first time
Sounds like the recording business right there.
Greed came from the high profit margins that the CD was bringing in. Remember when CD’s came into effect the record labels explained that the high prices had to do with the start up costs of getting the CD warehouses and machinery operational and in time the prices would reduce.
Yep they sure didn’t.
“Money To Burn”
I love the “When The Levee Breaks” groove in this song. Progress is derivative is the catch cry.
“Some people lie for it, some people die for it,
Some people risk their lives and do time for it”
The real message coming out in 1991 and 1992 was the same. Skid Row said that we can’t be kings of the world if we are slaves to the grind. And why are we slaves to the grind. Because we were led to believe that we need money.
Metallica said that new blood is quickly subdued, learning the rules of life the hard way. Why are newborns disciplined this way? It’s because they need to learn that money rules the game.
Gun was saying that we shouldn’t focus too much on the attainment of money, as it is just there, purely to be spent (aka burnt).
(In the end all we are)
Is just a face in a crowded street
(In the end all we are)
Is just a soul on the open road
(In the end all we are)
Is just a pawn in a losing game
(In the end all we are)
One world that’s got money to burn
Aint nobody said it any better than that. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many dollars or zeroes sit in a persons bank account. Money is there to be earned and lost. When judgement happens, we are all just faces in the crowd.
The tone of the vocals just resonate. It’s got that powerful “Jeff Martin/Tea Party” kind of tone vocally and the music is very melodic, like Def Leppard.
And I say life is like a long road
With open arms we walk this long road
“Welcome to the Real World”
“I see the poor man left with nothing, the rich man wanting more
And I ask myself a question, saying “What the hell are we living for?”
Again, the catch cry of the early nineties. Australia was coming out of Recession at this time and I tell ya, it was tough. My dad still held onto his job at BHP Steel, however my brother didn’t and it was my brother who had a mortgage to pay off when the interest rate hit over 15%.
With the expectations placed onto the band after the cult like success of “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” didn’t really break through like the record label hoped and it more or less sank like a stone until the success of their next album, “Swagger” got people re-interested in “Gallus”. Adding to the disruption, was the constant line up changes.
“Taking On the World” from 1989 had the following credited lineup;
Mark Rankin on vocals, Guliano Gizzi on guitar, Stephen “Baby” Stafford on guitar, Dante Gizzi on bass and Scott Shields on drums.
By 1990, the line up changed with Stafford out and Dickson in. This line up would go on to record the “Gallus” album.
Mark Rankin on vocals, Guliano Gizzi on guitar, Alex Dickson on guitar, Dante Gizzi on bass and Scott Shields on drums.
And it would change again. But that story is for another day.
1992 was the year of transition. Once the year was over; hard rock, melodic rock, glam rock and so forth would never be the same. In relation to hard rock releases, what a year it was. So many great albums got released, however according to the record labels barometer of success, those albums failed miserably. These days if an album sells 200,000 copies it is seen as a successful album.
One of the best releases from 1992 was “Blood and Bullets” by Widowmaker. Not only was it a great album, it was also the first “official” album to feature Dee Snider from Twisted Sister. The last album Dee was featured on was the “Love Is For Suckers” album from 1987, so it was a long time between drinks.
When I first heard the song “The Widowmaker”, I thought of the song, “The Beast from the “Stay Hungry” album. However, “The Widowmaker” is far superior. The sound on “Blood and Bullets” was the exact sound I was into in 1992.
Along with the self titled Lynch Mob album, “The Crimson Idol” from W.A.S.P., “Dog Eat Dog” from Warrant, “III Sides to Every Story” from Extreme, “Sin-Decade” from Pretty Maids and “Revenge” from Kiss, it formed my decadent seven wonders of heavy rock.
My metal tastes got serviced by “Countdown to Extinction” from Megadeth, “Fear of the Dark” from Iron Maiden, “The Ritual” from Testament, “Dehumanizer” from Black Sabbath, “A Vulgar Display of Power” from Pantera and a new band from Seattle called Alice In Chains” and their excellent “Dirt”.
Dream Theater blew me away with “Images and Words” while Yngwie Malmsteen delivered the excellent “Fire and Ice” and no one outside of his hardcore fan base heard it. Another neo-classical shredder Tony MacAlpine released “Freedom To Fly” and boy didn’t he fly with it.
“Hold Your Fire” from Firehouse, “Five Wicked Ways” from Candy Harlots, “Don’t Tread” from Damn Yankees, “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” from The Black Crowes, “The Wild Life” from Slaughter, “Nothing Sacred” by Babylon A.D., “Hear” from Trixter, “Tangled In Reins” from Steelheart, “Double Eclipse” from Hardline and “Adrenalize” from Def Leppard satisfied by hard rock cravings.
A lot of good music was released and the record labels just abandoned it. It was all about greed. Even though hard rock albums would still sell, it wasn’t enough for the labels.
Granted there was quite a lot of deadwood rock bands on the label rosters that just should not have been signed. However they did, because everyone wanted to cash in. I am sure people like John Kalodner and Tom Werman could have done some creative merging, putting the best with the best, sort of like how Kaldoner got Coverdale to work with Page or getting Blades, Nugent and Shaw to get together as Damn Yankees. Seriously, you had great guitarist like Jake E Lee and Vito Bratta out of jobs and they could have been paired with some great vocalist.
Going back to Widowmaker. What was my attraction. First, it was Dee Snider. Come on, who wouldn’t want to hear what Dee Snider was involved in (though I can’t say that “Dee Does Broadway” was a good move).
Second, it involved Al Pitrelli. I first saw his name on the Y&T album “Contagious”. He was a co-writer for the song “Temptation” which was pure melodic rock. It was my best song on that Y&T album. Then I saw him on the video I purchased of Alice Cooper’s “Trashes The World”. What can I say, the dude rocked and I was interested to hear him on this album.
Bernie Torme was asked to come back again by Dee, however he said no. He was burned out, he had a punctured lung and his wife was expecting their first child. That is how Al Pitrelli came into the mix.
I’m telling you
I ain’t nobody’s fool
Don’t you run?
Can’t you see I got your bullet in my gun?
You know the feeling when people just don’t give you the credit that you deserve or that feeling when a record label boss tells you that the album you worked on for 12 months will not be released a week before it was due to be released. Looks like Bob Seger was right after all, rock n roll does help to soothe the soul.
I’m your judge and jury
I’m a never ending horror come for you
Don’t turn your back on me
It’s a Dee Snider and Al Pitrelli composition. This is the perfect song to listen too when you are pissed off. It just makes everything feel okay. The power of music. The power of artists that have a point to prove. The power of artists who have been ripped off and treated like dirt.
It’s 1992. The labels are signing Seattle bands, left, right and centre while at the same time they are dropping hard rock and heavy metal bands left, right and centre. That is the power the record label had. Not only could they make an artist famous, they could also destroy an artist. You see when you control all the points in the distribution and marketing chain, you more or less control everything.
With the massive power that the major labels had, we always saw artist/s as famous. We always thought that once an artist was signed to a label deal, they had it made. It was a big misconception.
Fame for an artist in most cases meant a large advance that had to be recouped by withholding royalty payments. That is why record label accounting gets messy and it cannot be trusted.
So in 2013, things have changed dramatically. With this change, the power is still with the major record labels. They gathered enough power during the Eighties and Nineties to be a force to be reckoned. Then in the Two Thousands the massive mergers and takeovers happened, further enhancing the power of the record labels. Then in order to allow digital start-ups, the record labels did one of three things; charge high licensing fees or litigate the start-up to bankruptcy or negotiate a large ownership stake in the start-up.
So even though the internet has lowered the barriers of entry, without the money and power of the label behind the artists, there is a pretty good chance, the artist would probably go unnoticed. Remember 4 million songs haven’t even been listened too on Spotify.
So when certain artists are complaining about a low royalty payment, maybe that is the royalty payment that is relevant to the niche the artist is in. Maybe it is a royalty payment that they have earned. You don’t see a current household name complaining. It’s because they worked hard at obtaining a certain thing called leverage.
Digital distribution offers an artist new audiences in places where brick-and-mortar stores would be impossible or unsustainable, like foreign countries or rural areas. The end result is growth across the board, both physical and digital provided that the artist gets noticed.
So is piracy that bad for an artist who is trying to get traction?
The majors and the mainstream journalists attached to news outlets operated by media moguls have done a great job selling the “one pirated item equals one lost sale” statistic and the “illegal downloading (piracy) is theft” argument. It is a statistic that rights holders, lobby groups and misguided artists exaggerate and it is a statistic they use to either kill off innovation or to stifle innovation.
Piracy (better known as copyright infringement) is basically one person (A) copying something of value that another person (B) owns. This leads to a situation that has both people (A and B) having a copy of the same item.
So it is safe to say that one pirated item is not theft. Theft is basically one person (A) taken something of value that another person (B) owns, which means that Person (B) no longer has the item.
So let’s assume that piracy spreads the artists’ material to places that are unknown to the artist and the people who download the music might become a fan and share their thoughts with others. They could even go to a show or they could go and purchase the next album or the artists back catalogue. There are a lot of could’s in the above theory. However the music business is all based on could’s.
For example, in the heyday of the record labels, this is how the above would have panned out.
Let’s assume that a record deal spreads the artists’ material to places that are unknown to the artist and the people who hear the music on radio or MTV might become a fan and share their thoughts with others. They could even go to a show or they could go and purchase the next album or the artists back catalogue. As you can see, the heyday theory also holds a lot of could’s.
Of course the difference is the money. The labels once upon a time threw money at artists and provided tour support. Today, the labels only go for the sure bet and 360 deals.
From a fan perspective, the main thing working against the artist today is time. Why would a music lover want to invest their time in an artist? I recently invested a lot of time in the TV show “Sons of Anarchy” because knowledge of the show was being shared at work and I wanted to be part of the conversation. I invested a lot of time in the show because fans of the show shared their thoughts with me. They convinced me that I needed to watch it.
One thing is certain in 2013. We move on fast. Look at the Top 10 lists of pirated movies that TorrentFreak publish each week. It’s always changing and very rare for the same movie to be at number one for two weeks in a row. Look at the Top 10 of the Charts published by each country. The artists in the list are always changing.
I have been re-reading a lot of the magazines I have accumulated during the Eighties and the Nineties. I just finished reading a story about Metallica from the Australian magazine “Hot Metal”. It is the June 1992 issue.
The article is written by Robyn Doreian, who was the editor once however when this story hit the press, she had moved on to Metal Hammer. The story was a combination of two days she spent with the band, plus separate interviews with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
The first part that got me interested was the following answers from James Hetfield;
RD – First up, I ask him about the new stage design, which not only challenges conventional rock shows but also has consider-able advantages for the fans.
JH – “We sat down and talked about what we wanted to do. For instance, Lars has his travelling drum kit that was all his thing. I have to make that clear,” he scoffs, “because I find it a little silly. As much as he wants to be in the spotlight, he also gets to travel. He’s basically a front man on drums. We should have thought of it earlier in our careers, I guess.”
“The snake-pit was a combination of ideas from band members and management. Initially that hole in the middle of the stage was meant to be a special effects area, with things like little crosses rising up, or a blow-up ‘Justice’ lady or something.” sniggers Hetfield.
“We said no’ Why not put some kids in there, some fans. That would be cool. We usually put between 40 and 90 kids in there, depending on each city’s fire regulations and stuff.”
RD – What about the area set aside for taping?
JH – “Fans have to buy a special ticket for the tape section. It’s like five bucks more, and there are like 20 or 30 kids who can get in there and video, audio or whatever they want to do. It’s a cool thing to do, to flood the market with bootlegs. And it makes it a little more personal.”
The above got my interest for two reasons;
1. The stage design.
First, the stage design. The grand stage design that is seen in the movie “Through the Never” was conceived back in 1991 for the tour in support of the Black album. Of course, an idea is just an idea until it is executed and with the exponential rise of technologies, that idea finally came to fruition in 2012.
The point of this is that no one should ever give up on an idea. If it doesn’t work at a particular given point in time, keep it filed away as it could work at a later time.
Second, the bootlegs. The Black tour did something great for the hard core fans that no other band had really done up until then.
Any violation of copyright laws may result in severe civil and criminal penalties. Violators will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible.
Compare the above to the comments from Hetfield. What a difference between Metallica and the Metallicorporation? This is why Metallica messed up big time with Napster by handing over names of fans at the Senate Hearings.
Next up in the interview was Lars Ulrich. Knowing what we know now, words from the past is always interesting.
RD – Seizing the opportunity I ask him whether, seeing as Metallica have now been so firmly embraced by the mainstream, it’s possible that they are becoming what they once rebelled against.
LU – “I don’t disagree with that, but we were always more into doing our own thing, never about being shocking for its own sake or pissing people off. You should always be yourself.”
Lars admits that he and Metallica are becoming the entity that they rebelled against. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. Can a band remain the same after they accumulate millions? No chance.
RD – Do you ever think that in years to come there is a danger of Metallica being viewed as a dinosaur band, some sort of corporate rock giant similar to what happened to bands like Zeppelin in the 70s?
LU – “I think there are a lot of people in the States right now who, simply because we have gained confidence in what we’re doing, are saying that we are doing the same arena rock clichés that these other bands were doing. My attitude is basically that if people come and see us and think its arena rock crap then that’s fine. It doesn’t affect me; because I know what we’re doing is distinctly different from what everyone else is doing.”
RD – With Grammy awards, cumulative record sales in the millions and adulation the whole world over, what is there left for the band to achieve?
LU – “Staying power. In terms of numbers, it’s not going to get much bigger but its important not to burn out. A lot of bands don’t have the confidence for a long term career, so they try and milk everything while they can. We plan to be around for quite a while, so when this tour is over we’re going to have a long period of inactivity.”
The above is interesting to me for the following two reasons;
1. Be Yourself / Stay true to yourself
2. Staying Power
I was a fan of Metallica coming before the Black album came out. It was “Ride the Lightning” that did it for me. I cannot recall how many arguments I got into over what is the better album between “Master Of Puppets” and “Ride The Lightning”.
Then the Black album comes out and I really liked it. I thought it was perfect. The songs hammered the ear drums from start to finish and the groove was undeniable. Metallica wrote and recorded an album that they wanted to write. It was never designed to have a hit single whereas “Load” and “Reload” to me, feels like Metallica had that single idea in the backs of their mind.
The comments about staying power ring true. As Lars said, in terms of numbers, it wouldn’t get any bigger than the Black album. However reaching the top is not the end of the journey. That is when a new journey begins.
Twisted Sister failed after “Stay Hungry” exploded.
Motley Crue fired Vince Neil after “Dr Feelgood”.
Guns N Roses became Adler-less after “Appetite for Destruction” and after “Use Your Illusion,” Guns N Roses became an Axl Rose solo project.
Motorhead had Fast Eddie Clarke play on one more album (“Iron Fist”) after “Ace of Spades.”
Skid Row got one more album out in “Subhuman Race” after the massive “Slave To The Grind” and disappeared.
Van Halen released “1984” and then fired David Lee Roth. They are one of the rare bands that changed lead singers and went on to bigger success, with the Van Hager era.
Poison got “Flesh and Blood” out after the mega successful “Open and Say Ahh” and it was curtains, even though “Native Tongue” with Richie Kotzen was a great album.
White Lion never recovered from the mega success of “Pride”.
Warrant released the excellent and heavy “Dog Eat Dog”, however it was no “Cherry Pie” and they got dropped after Jani Lane left.
Also when a band reaches the top, it opens up the opportunity for some time off. Metallica had been on an album and tour cycle since “Kill Em All” was released in 1983. After 11 constant years, by 1994, they had some time off, before they regrouped for the “Load” albums.
Wow. Where should I start with this. First of all, Blabbermouth does a poor job of conveying the tone of the whole interview that took place on the Classic Rock Revisited Website. By pulling out the questions that relate to piracy, Blabbermouth knew that they would get a reaction. All Blabbermouth cares about is the page views. As long as the page views are ticking over in the thousands, they can keep selling advertisements.
By 1992, Yngwie Malmsteen was riding high after five well received albums on the smaller Polydor label. He was ready to release his sixth studio album called “Fire and Ice”, which was his first release on a new major label deal with Elektra Records. The 1988 “Odyssey” album with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals is the album that got Elektra interested. However by 1989, Joe Lynn Turner was not the vocalist. Still Elektra took a punt on him after the album “Eclipse” did reasonably well in 1990, with a new band and a new singer.
The “Odyssey” album was a success because all the lyrics were written by Joe Lynn Turner, while all the music was written by Yngwie Malmsteen. Turner knew how to write in a pop format and that made Yngwie crossover. “Odyssey” was also produced by Yngwie Malmsteen, Jeff Glixman and Jim Lewis. On “Fire and Ice”, all the music and lyrics are written by Yngwie Malmsteen. The album is also produced by Yngwie Malmsteen. So when the album failed to make any impact, guess what happened to Yngwie?
By 1994, Malmsteen was releasing his seventh album “The Seventh Sign” on a British Independent label called Music For Nations. Music for Nations started signing all the Eighties bands that the major labels discarded. He had no distribution in the U.S., while Music for Nations distributed the album in Europe and Pony Canyon distributed the album in Japan. If any other Malmsteen fans wanted to buy the album in Australia or the US/Canada, they had to purchase it as an import, which meant double the price of what it would normally retail for. Nice way to treat the fans.
Fast forward to 2013. There are 12 questions asked before the piracy question that Blabbermouth leads off with. To sum up, the 12 questions relate to the release of Malmsteen’s autobiography, why Malmsteen wrote it himself instead of using a ghost writer and his love for his family, Paganini and guitar playing in general. So we come up to the question that Blabbermouth leads off with.
Classic Rock Revisited: Do you ever get caught up in thinking about commercial appeal of what you’re writing or composing? Yngwie: I did at one point, when that actually existed. The radio format doesn’t exist, the singles don’t exist. The record label doesn’t exist. The record stores don’t exist. That whole entire thing is gone.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Malmsteen has put his out there. Malmsteen knew exactly that what he would say in relation to piracy would get a reaction. As an artist, he has products to promote that no one really cares about in 2013 except for his core audience. He is hoping that the “Streisand Effect” will work for him as well.
Look at what it has done for Lady Gaga. Seriously, if people reckon she got hacked and a snippet of her new song was the only thing that was taken, then those people need to get checked out for some sort of denial illness. It was all orchestrated to bring attention to the single. It was all orchestrated to engage her fan base in finding the offending snippets and to report the websites. It was all orchestrated so that all the media outlets can pick up the story and report on it. The same thing is happening with Yngwie Malmsteen’s comments. Blabbermouth has run with it, I am pretty sure, Noisecreep, Ultimate Guitar, Ultimate Classic Rock, Loudwire and a thousand other blogs like me will run with it.
In relation to Yngwie’s comments, the terrestrial radio format that Yngwie alludes to, ceased to be relevant for metal music when Yngwie was still at his peak in the Eighties. No radio station played Yngwie after the “Odyssey” album with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. As soon as Radio stations became beholden to the advertisers and needed to make profits for shareholders, metal music was taken out of the playlist.
The single format comments are totally wrong. It is the “single” that is killing the album format. Fans are now able to pick and choose what songs they want to listen to. Even Nikki Sixx has asked fans to stop buying single songs and to invest in the whole album experience. In relation to the record label comments, the record label does exist, albeit in a much different way. The record labels have no one to blame except themselves for the state they are in.
The record stores don’t exist on a large scale because the days of selling plastic for almost thirty dollars are long gone. The public got burnt on this rip off. Fans of bands didn’t wake up in the morning thinking “I need to go to a record store to buy a record”. We woke up thinking, I want to hear this song. The only way to hear the song that we were thinking about was to buy a piece of plastic that had the song on it. So when the history of music is at your fingertips, why would you make the trip to a record store.
I stopped buying Malmsteen CD’s around 1994, when they started to become import CD’s. I wasn’t that keen on spending $50 plus. In 2003, all of his Nineties output came out on SPV in a remastered format, and the pricing was $30. Within 4 weeks, the prices dropped to $3 for $10 and I purchased the music then.