Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

John Corabi and That 1994 Motley Crue Album

The first time I came across John Corabi was when I purchased the “Let It Scream” album by The Scream. It was early 1992. It was on heavy rotation. Then a few months after I got into “The Scream” it was announced that John Corabi had joined Motley Crue. Back then news didn’t travel as fast as it does today and to be honest, the source of the news for me in Australia was the rock magazines that I purchased.

I had mixed feelings. As a Motley fan from the early days I was disappointed. As a Scream fan after one CD, I was disappointed. But the thought of Corabi’s bluesy voice merging with the Crue was an intriguing prospect.

John Corabi should take the Motley Crue album of 1994 on the road this year. If Motley Crue choose to ignore their greatest work because Vince Neil didn’t sing on it then there is no reason why John Corabi should ignore it. There is a market there for it. If he is playing 1000 to 2000 capacity venues they should sell out. But the challenge that Corabi and his team have is getting that awareness out to that market that wants to see this happen. They can post it online, but that does not mean that the audience will see it.

People that have read this blog, will know that I have a lot of time for this album.

Twenty years on the album has survived the test of time. Darker, bluesier, ballsier, kick-ass rock and roll. What about the production from Bob Rock?

It has some of the best playing the band had and has ever done. And it was so ahead of its time that the record label just didn’t know what to do with it and how to market it.

People said they ripped off Alice In Chains because it packed serious groove. Umm, listen to the Girls and Feelgood albums. They also grooved.

People said they jumped on the grunge bandwagon because they down tuned. For most of their career Motley Crue down tuned.

What about all the scattered Zeppelin and Beatles influence all over the record? Nikki Sixx said that he was trying to write his own Physical Graffiti. And he succeeded.

It’s just a really great record with the unfortunate truth that it was released by Motley Crue.

In a perfect world, Motley Crue would include John Corabi and his backing band on their farewell tour and how cool would it be to have Mick Mars play guitar on a song during the set or Tommy Lee or Nikki Sixx come out and play their parts on a song.

But we don’t live in a perfect world and the album still remains hidden from any new fans connecting with it.

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories

There Are No Instant Experts

I finished reading an article called “COMPLEXITY AND THE TEN-THOUSAND-HOUR RULE” by Malcolm Gladwell a few weeks ago and a few concepts from that article have been lingering around in my head.

CONCEPT:
There are no instant experts. The article used a study by psychologist John Hayes who looked at “seventy-six famous classical composers and found that, in almost every case, those composers did not create their greatest work until they had been composing for at least ten years. (The sole exceptions: Shostakovich and Paganini, who took nine years, and Erik Satie, who took eight.)”

While I would argue that rock and metal musicians start composing at an early age, for the purposes of this article I would use the first bands that artists are involved in as year zero or the birth date of when artists started composing.

Basically it’s rare for a debut album or the first piece of music an artist creates to be their best. Of course there are some outliers to this concept, however the concept generally works. So, how does the concept fit into the metal and rock world.

Let’s start with one of my favourite bands at the moment, Machine Head.

Their debut album “Burn My Eyes” came out in 1994. For a groove thrash metal band, the album was a success.

So who is the main composer on “Burn My Eyes?” Of course the answer is Robb Flynn.

Robb Flynn started writing songs around 1984 and by 1985 he was in a band called “Forbidden” or “Forbidden Evil” (depending on which story you read). So Robb Flynn’s birth date for creating music is 1984. Comparing these dates with the concept, you can say that Robb Flynn created a great piece of work with “Burn My Eyes” ten years after he started composing. Since this album is also the debut album of Machine Head, in relation to the concept, for the band Machine Head, this is also Year Zero or the bands birth date for composing.

Burn My Eyes wasn’t Machine Head’s greatest work. That happened in 2007, with “The Blackening.”

From a Robb Flynn perspective, his greatest work happened 23 years from when he started composing. From a Machine Head perspective, the bands greatest work happened 13 years from when the band started composing.

Of course the biggest variable with the concept is that most bands or artists are the sum of their parts. This is so true for Machine Head. For “The Blackening” all of the members played an important part in the compositions.

Phil Demmel’s path is very similar to Robb Flynn’s. He founded the band Vio-Lence in 1985. It is safe to assume that he started composing a year before.

From Demmel’s perspective, it was 23 years from when he started composing that he was involved in the creation of a great work, with “The Blackening”. As already mentioned, from a Machine Head perspective, the bands greatest work happened 13 years from when the band started composing.

However with Demmel joining the band in 2003, this ushered in a new version of the band, so the composition birth date for this band goes back to 2003.

So for Machine Head “Version 7”, it took them 4 years to create their greatest work.

For completeness, here are the previous versions of Machine Head.
Version 1 (operated from 1992 to 1994) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Tony Costanza.
Version 2 (operated from 1994 to 1995)was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Chris Kontos.
Version 3 (operated for a few months in 1995)was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Walter Ryan.
Version 4 (operated from 1995 to 1998) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Dave McClain.
Version 5 (operated from 1998 to 2002) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Ahrue Luster and Dave McClain.
Version 6 (operated from 2002 to 2003) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce and Dave McClain.
Version 7 (operated from 2003 to 2013) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain.
Version 8 (operating from 2013) is Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel, Dave McClain and Jared MacEachern.

So by looking at the above versions and taking into account the concept that all great works happen ten years from when they start composing, the new version of Machine Head, will create their greatest work in 2013 (of course provided that they are still together). However if Adam Duce, remained in the band, Version 7 of the band would have been creating their greatest work right now.

So what should be the greatest triumph of the Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain era, will be a great debut album for the Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel, Dave McClain and Jared MacEachern era.

Let’s look at Motley Crue. Based on sales figures alone, “Dr Feelgood” is their piece d resistance and it was released in 1989. The main songwriters on Dr Feelgood are Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars.

Nikki Sixx, started in bands in 1975, therefore this is the year that Nikki Sixx started composing.

Vince Neil and Tommy Lee started off in bands around 1979, therefore this will be the year that they started composing.

Mick Mars on the other hand goes back to 1972, therefore this will be the year that Mick Mars started composing.

The band Motley Crue was formed in January, 1981. This is the year that the band started composing.

From a Nikki Sixx perspective, he was involved in creating “Dr Feelgood”, 14 years from when he started composing.

From a Mick Mars perspective, he was involved in creating “Dr Feelgood”, 17 years from when he started composing.

From a Tommy Lee and Vince Neil perspective, they were involved in creating “Dr Feelgood”, 10 years from when they started composing.

In relation to the band Motley Crue, it was 8 years from when the band started composing.

So based on the concept, the version of Motley Crue that we know, will not be able to create another masterpiece. So how did they end up creating “Saints Of Los Angeles” which everyone said is their best album since “Dr Feelgood.”

The answer is simple (just take a look at the songwriters on the album);

The song writing team of Nikki Sixx, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen wrote the songs “L.A.M.F”, “Face Down in the Dirt”, “What’s It Gonna Take”, “Down at the Whisky”, “Saints of Los Angeles”, “Welcome to the Machine” and “Goin’ Out Swingin.”

The song writing team of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen wrote the songs “Mutherf&cker of the Year”, “The Animal in Me”, “Just Another Psycho”, “Chicks = Trouble” and “White Trash Circus”.

Finally the song writing team of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen wrote the song “This Ain’t a Love Song.”

Even though the product was Motley Crue, three of the main composers are not from Motley Crue.

So by looking at all of the above, the song writing team of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen should create their best work by 2018. That is provided they stick around.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Bridge – Queensryche

Chris DeGarmo really went to town on the 1994 Promised Land album.  His name is all over the song writing credits?

Bridge is a song written by DeGarmo and he is referencing his relationship with his father for inspiration.  Growing up he didn’t have the relationship with his father and now that he’s all grown up, his father wants to be in his life, however the only problem, is that the bridge was never built.

Time has made you finally realize
your loneliness and your guilt inside.
You’re reaching for something you never had,
turning around now you’re looking back,
and you know… I’m not there.

You say, “Son, let’s forget the past.
I want another chance, gonna make it last.”
You’re begging me for a brand new start,
trying to mend a bridge that’s been blown apart,
but you know… you never built it dad.

You can feel the anger, the disappointment.  DeGarmo is telling his dad, that he is not going to be there for him, in the same way his dad wasn’t there for him.  Stop trying to have a relationship, it was never there to begin with.  Geoff Tate nails the vocal for it.  This is the Queensryche that exists, not the poor imitations that they are now.

DeGarmo’s dad died during the recording of the Promised Land.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Motley Crue – 1994 – Welcome To The Numb, Smoke The Sky, Droppin Like Flies, Driftaway – John Corabi Era – Part 3

Continuing on from Gerri Miller’s Metal Edge interview with Nikki Sixx.  The below excerpts in italics are taken from Metal Edge circa 1994.  The lyrics and comments are added by me.

“WELCOME TO THE NUMB”
It’s about sensory overload via television—”people shove stuff down your throat. Too much information, you can see it in my eyes. Welcome to the numb.”  It’s too much—we shut down.

If Nikki thought there was a sensory overload back in the early nineties, what does he think now.  We are connected 24/7 and we are interacting with people from bedrooms to bedrooms, all over the world.  We watch what we want, when we want it.  We download what we want, when we want it.  Everything is open online.  We don’t shut down, we evolve.

The lyrics are screaming that they don’t want to be part of the machine, however they are part of the machine.  They are one with the machine.  The created videos to appear on television, to promote their brand.  The did interviews that appeared on TV to promote their brand.  I was never a fan of artists that complained of the machine.  Look at Swedish House Mafia, they did what they wanted, became successful, and then walked away from it all, as they didn’t want to be part of the machine.  They didn’t hang around and complain about it.

“SMOKE THE SKY”
A full-throttle burner that smokes indeed, this song arose from a riff Mick came up with at rehearsal. It takes a pro-marijuana stance and stems from a period in which, “after being clean for a few years, I decided to smoke pot and smoked a ton of it.  It says, ‘Get off my back.’  But I’m 100% clean now,” Nikki underlines. “I can’t do it, or I’m all the way up Peru’s butt.

Any song that starts off with a pull and a cough, deserve respect.

Home grown vision compliments the senses, opens up my mind.
J.F.K. sold us freedom, or was it just a business toke?
63 went up in smoke.
He was the great seducer crawling from our T.V.s.
Breathed hope into our future, before he died, he smoked the sky,
Smoke the sky.

“DROPPIN’ LIKE FLIES”
This apocalyptic rocker talks about “a war zone in the streets,” a “modern Babylon,” crack, disease, and a wasted future and was created at a jam session. “There’s a lot of references to death, destruction, and the end of the world,” Nikki sums up.

I really dig this song.  It’s heavy and that break down interlude sounds like it came from Korn’s debut album that came out a year later.  This album was way ahead of its time.  You can tell Bob Rock, brought the heaviness that he mastered with Metallica to this album.  Even thought it didn’t set the charts on fire, or the sales department, it is an important album for the musical trends that came afterward especially the sound of Modern and Alternative Rock acts.

Hate is growing fast in a hazy cloud of crack, but it helps us fade away.
Some inner city queen French kisses his disease with one foot in the grave.
Oh, and this junkyard we call home is primed and ready for another war.
My, my, my, the children have no chance and these eyes have seen this all go down
before.
We’ve all raped it, the future’s wasted.
Can we take it?
Is nothing sacred?

“DRIFTAWAY”
Probably the closest thing on the record to a ballad, this song was written by John, who brought it in when he joined the band. Nikki helped him “tighten up” the lyrics, which go in part, “I try to make the best of another lonely day/I close my eyes and slowly drift away … close my eyes and dream my life away.”

When i first heard this song, I thought of The Scream.  It had John Corabi all over it.  It was a clichéd rock song and to be honest, I don’t believe it was a good fit on the album.

Motley Crue wrote and recorded over 20 songs for this album.  Another three made it on the re-released version and another four songs made it onto the Quartenary EP, released in Japan.  Those songs will be for another day.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Motley Crue – 1994 – Power To The Music, Hooligan’s Holiday, Misunderstood – John Corabi Era – Part 1

They should have changed the name.  Called the band Hammered or S M C L or Wild Side or something like that.  It’s another Bob Rock production.  He does an awesome job (lets just forget St Anger) at getting / capturing the bands at their best.  He even demanded that Lars take drum lessons before recording his drums for the Black album and for James to take singing lessons before doing the vocals for the ballads.

Gerri Miller was Metal Edge to me.  She was on every story or on every interview that mattered.  The below excerpts are taken from Metal Edge circa 1994.

“POWER TO THE MUSIC”
Groove-laden and funk-edged, this album opener started out as a repetitive detuned riff  dreamed up by Nikki,  and “pushed John [Corabi] to the limit vocally. We were going, ‘Push your throat till it blows out.’ He never sang like that before.” 

Hey, listen people, we’re victimized, circumcised, crossed the line of no return.
The critics say we devastate, socialites just masturbate.
Won’t the losers ever learn?
Who said the music’s dead in the streets?
Don’t know what they talk about.
They gotta put a bullet in my head if they want to keep me down.
Let me hear it.

This came out at a time where the airwaves were ruled by Grunge.  You can tell the band is angry.  The song is heavy.  It’s got groove.  You can feel the anger.

Who said the MUSIC’s dead in the streets?  Rock music was alive and well.  Just because the labels abandoned it, it didn’t mean that the audience abandoned it.  For the labels to kill rock and metal, they had to put a bullet in the head of every fan.

Mothers tell their sons of cyanide and suicide,
Blame it on the devil’s tongue,
Suck me like a parasite, military 3rd Reich.
Blood burning bastards wasting blood.
Who said the music’s dead in the streets?
Don’t know what they talk about.
I want my music waking up the dead.
Don’t tell me to turn it down
Turn it down.

I love the lyrics in this verse.  This is a grown up Motley Crue.  A pissed off one.  Telling the  3rd Reich label heads to suck em off.  If you are a fan of The Scream, you can hear John Corabi’s influence all over this song.  He wasn’t just a fill in, he was a contributor. He got the raw end of the deal, blamed for the fall of Motley Crue.  He made them relevant.

“HOOLIGAN’S HOLIDAY”

The kick ass kickoff single went through a major metamorphosis from what it was originally. Initially a demo sort of like ‘Highway Star ” recorded by Nikki and John at Nikki’s house.  It was brought to the table, “but everyone was not too high on it.” Their attention turned to other tunes, “but we felt strong about it. We had agreed we’d try anything anyone wants to try. We totally rewrote it—only the chorus and title are the same.” It took just two hours to record, and the results “f.ckin’ floored” Nikki. “It’s amazing what you can get out when everyone’s putting in 100%,” he notes. ‘The song no one wanted to try became the first track. Shows you gotta try everything.” As for the title, the phrase came from a broadcast during the L.A. riots: “It’s a hooligan’s holiday out there.” Nikki then made a correlation to an Aerosmith title. “If they’re on a permanent vacation, we’re on a hooligan’s holiday,” he says. “It’s not a very serious song.” Three other versions exist. One is shortened, for radio, “which we hated doing so we called it 4Brown Nose’ version. It’s us laughing at ourselves.” There’s an 11 minute extended version and a seven minute  “Derelict Vision” club mix by Skinny Puppy, with a companion video version too graphic
for TV.  

The “Hooligan’s Holiday” video, based on tho movie A Clockwork Orange, features performance sequences and scenes showing Nikki and Tommy dressed as Teddy Boys, a type of hooligan in London in the late 1950s. 

Drop dead beauties stompin’ up a storm, lines of hell on our face.
Bruised bad apples crawling through the night, busted loose, runaway, oo, runaway.

Everybody wants a piece of the action.
Everybody wants a piece of the pie.

Cross-eyed derelicts comin’, iron horse between our legs.
Tattoos, black manes flowin’. Everyday’s a holidays.

It’s a riot.  It’s a free for all.  The wronged (the bruised  bad apples) are rising up.  Its angry.  The injustice.  I feel like i am at rock concert, where the crowd loses control.  I like the reference to Piece of Your Action and Slice of Your Pie.

“MISUNDERSTOOD”

A 40 piece orchestra flavors this killer combination of beautiful melodic acoustic music and blistering rock, the oldest song on the album, ‘it’s my way of looking at life,” says Nikki. ‘People often say life’s misunderstood them. I always thought. That’s bullshit.’ It’s up to you to live life to its fullest. You have to go for it as much as you can.” Song lyrics like Doin’ time in a broken home” and “I’m an angry man, always had to fight to survive my past” are taken from Nikki’s own experience. “I think it’s relatable to fans—we’ve all gone through that with parents. It’s a deep song,” he says. It has a lot of abusive notes in it. It’s not a happy song.” The orchestra’s involvement was planned from the outset.
They hired a conductor, who worked on arrangements.

Little old man contemplates suicide twice a day
Life’s passed him by
Little old woman scared and blind, left alone in desperate times
Life’s passed her by

Little boy with vacant eyes, daddy won’t be home tonight
And he don’t know why
His mother, she sits alone tangled in the web she’s sewn
Lives lie to lie

This is Motley Crue reincarnating itself as Led Zeppelin.  It’s an epic song and its a grand statement.  They could have went with the pop format but they went with their instincts, their gut feeling and this is the product.  The acoustic verses and then the drums kick in references Stairway To heaven.  The behind the beat drumming references Kashmir.  Good music is good music.  It doesn’t fit in any genre, and this is what the Motley Crue album did.  It started a new modern rock/metal genre.  It was way ahead of it’s time.

Power to The Music

Hooligan’s Holiday

Misunderstood

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