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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – The Silent Man (CD Single)

Do you know how hard it is to find a Dream Theater single in Australia?

And as soon as I found one, I purchased it straight away. But I haven’t found any singles since and in the 2000’s I just stopped looking for em in the record shops.

“The Silent Man” is the third EP released by Dream Theater in 1994.

The personnel for the band was Mike Portnoy – Drums, John Petrucci – Guitar, John Myung – Bass, Kevin Moore – Keyboard and James LaBrie – Vocals.

John Purdell and Duane Baron are producing the songs “Eve” and “The Silent Man”.

Eve

I actually purchased the single for the song “Eve”. At the time it was an unreleased bonus track.

It’s an instrumental, but it’s not the kind of instrumental you think with a thousand notes per minute. There is emotion and feel. Kevin Moore on the piano lays down most of the music which belongs to a soundtrack in a film.

His keys and piano riffs dominate the song and then there is Petrucci, who knows which notes to wrestle out of his fingers with his melodic leads. Especially that lead from 4.02. Press play on it.

Close you eyes and let the music take you to a peaceful time. It’s soothing, I could use it to meditate to.

Take the Time (demo)

This demo along with a few other songs, are part of “the” demo tape that got them their ATCO deal for the “Images And Words” album.

The Silent Man

It’s an acoustic song, and man can Petrucci write a complicated acoustic song with unique chord voices.

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Al Pitrelli – 1993 to 1996

And we continue with Al Pitrelli’s story.

By 1993, a lot of artists who got their break in the 80’s had nothing doing. Even his band Danger Danger was struggling. Their album “Screw It”, released in 1991 got zero skulls out of 5 in the reviews I came across. The reviewers had enough of song titles like “Slipped Her The Big One” and “Horny S.O.B”.

The million bucks spent on the album would never be recouped, the band got dropped and it took another four years for Danger Danger to resurface with “Dawn” in 1995 on an unknown label.

But before they got dropped by Epic, there was an attempted album called “Cockroach” scheduled for 1993, however vocalist Ted Poley sought legal action to prevent it from being released as Bruno Ravel fired Poley after the album was completed and then got Paul Laine to re-sing it.

Due to the court case, Epic shelved the album but money talks and in 2001, it was finally released with Disc 1 being the Paul Laine version and Disc 2 being the Ted Poley version.

But while old friends had their various issues, Al Pitrelli was steaming ahead.

He was doing studio work with artists like Taylor Dayne. At this point of her career, Dayne was on fire, and a lot of money was thrown her way by the label for her third album. A lot of great songwriters were commissioned to work with Dayne and they bring their own players. Pitrelli on this case, played guitar on two tracks “Dance With A Stranger” and “I Could Be Good For You” on Dayne’s “Soul Dancing” album released in 1993. And like his previous studio work, Pitrelli was asked to perform again on a cut written by Diane Warren (“I Could Be Good For You”). I guess he had the soft rock mojo Warren was looking for.

His “Coven Pitrelli O’Reilly” project released “CPR” in 1993.

His “Morning Wood” project finally saw a self-titled release in 1994 (in Japan only and it wasn’t until 2002 that it saw a European release), along with Asia (“Aria”), Widowmaker (“Stand By For Pain”), the self-titled “Ten Ton Tide” album and “Out Of Control” by TM Stevens.

The “Morning Wood” band was Pitrelli’s old pal, Chuck Bonafante on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars, Tony Harnell from TNT on vocals and Danny Miranda on bass and keyboards. The album was all acoustic, mainly covers with a few originals.

The “Stand By For Pain” by Widowmaker is an album to be spoken of highly in relation to Hard Rock/Groove Metal. But like the heavy rock Widowmaker debut, it is largely ignored or forgotten. Dee Snider couldn’t catch a break post Twisted Sister, however he has shown his resilience, slowly rising back up year by year, first by a radio show, then as a screenwriter/director and when Twisted Sister reformed in the piracy decades, they were surprised to see that their music was more popular than ever.

Pitrelli also helped an old mate in Derek Sherinian get the keyboard job with Dream Theater after the departure of Kevin Moore. Al Pitrelli and John Petrucci used to teach guitar at a Long Island Guitar store, and Pitrelli put a call in to Petrucci to hire Sherinian who Gene Simmons described as the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher.

Pitrelli was also back in Asia for another album called “Aria” released in 1994. This period is known as the John Payne period. Al Pitrelli played on the previous album “Aqua” but didn’t tour. He played on “Aria” and went on tour this time, however after 4 concerts the tour was cancelled. Pitrelli left the tour early (how early can you leave a 4 show tour) and was replaced by ex-Simply Red guitarist Aziz Ibrahim for the other few shows. The album was also a complete commercial failure.

Another project called Ten Ton Tide released their self-titled debut. The band is listed as “Hard Rock” and “Prog Rock”. If you like Rush, then this band definitely fits the bill. This YouTube video is the only thing I could find on the project but it’s not the album that Pitrelli played on.

The band for the debut album is Jim Toscano on drums, Anthony Tirado is on Bass and Rhythm Guitar, Rob Glick is also on Bass and Guitar, Dan Gibson is on keyboards, Al Pitrelli and Zak Rizvi are on Lead and Rhythm Guitars and Dennes Cynd is on Vocals and Violin. One review mentioned the singer as a cross between Mick Jagger and Kip Winger. But I don’t hear that.

1994 or 1995 also saw a release from “TM Stevens – Out Of Control” called “Boom”, a fusion of hard rock, funk, rhythm and blues and metal.

For those who don’t know, TM Stevens is an American bass guitarist from New York City. He was a go to session guy and if you purchased a Billy Squier album, there is a chance you heard TM playing bass on it. The same goes for Pretenders, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Taylor Dayne, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Riot, Billy Joel and Steve Vai. And it was James Brown who got TM to sing. You know the track, “Living In America”. One of the voices on it is TM.

Apart from Al Pitrelli playing on the first album “Boom”, Richie Kotzen and Al Pitrelli both play on “Sticky Wicked” released in 1996.

In relation to “Boom”, check out the songs, “Supernatural”, “I’m A Believer” (a totally different song to the one you are probably thinking off), “The Gift”, “Hair”, “What About Love” and “Freedom (Never Gonna Give It Up)”.

Savatage were about to be dropped by Atlantic. They had given the band advances for each album and to the label, they never recouped that advance. Pitrelli was the studio player Paul O’Neill brought in to play lead guitar on their last album, “Dead Winter Dead”, released in 1995.

He went on a European tour with them as a hired gun and was to have no more involvement with the band after that.

But.

Something happened.

The song “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) was a hard rock mash up of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol Of The Bells”. The guitar leads you hear on the track that a violin normally plays are from the fingers of Al Pitrelli. And when Savatage returned to the U.S, this song had crossed over into the Charts and became a holiday favourite.

When there is a hit, expect a new album to come out. Savatage went back into the studio with Paul O’Neill producing again, but this time around, Pitrelli was a fully-fledged member, playing all the guitars and he was known as the “musical director” of the band. But Savatage was seen as a heavy metal band, and some due diligence by the label suggested that they should change the name of the band for this Christmas themed album.

And “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” was born. Otherwise known as “TSO”.

Also in 1995, a few other projects that Pitrelli was involved in got a release. The band “Place Called Rage” released their self-titled debut. Joe Lynn Turner released “Nothing’s Changed” and “Mojo Bros.” released their self-titled debut.

The “Place Called Rage” band had a few friends from the 80’s, like Chuck Bonafante on drums, Danny Miranda on bass and Tommy Farese on vocals. Released in 1995, it’s a great slab of hard rock rooted in the 70’s Rock movement with a lot of Springsteen style “Americana Rock” thrown in.

The Joe Lynn Turner album “Nothing’s Changed” is also rooted in 70’s Rock. Almost Bad Company like. Pitrelli co-wrote 4 tracks with JLT and also Co-Produced the album with JLT. Other musicians to play on it are Greg Smith on bass, John O’Reilly on drums, with keys being provided by Gary Corbet, Derek Sherinian and Al Pitrelli. This is another great slab of hard melodic rock, lost in the noise of 1995.

The Mojo Bros. self-titled debut is hard to find. A few YouTube clips exist and that’s it. Joe Lynn Turner and TM Stevens even appear on their Temptation’s cover “Ball Of Confusion”. The music is mostly instrumental except when they get in a guest singer for a cover song. The band is Danny Miranda on bass, Joe Franco on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. These three albums released in 1995 are not on Spotify.

1996 brings us to Vertex.

The “A/2” album from Arcade disappeared from stores as soon as it was released. The music that Stephen Pearcy made a living off was out of style. So Vertex was born when Pearcy was asked to be part of an industrial band by Japanese drummer Hiro Kuretani. Al Pitrelli joined on guitar and Juan Croucier from Ratt was meant to be the bassist, however that spot went to Robbie Crane from Vince Neil’s solo band for the tour. Al Pitrelli plays the bass parts on the album except for two songs (“Time And Time” and “Aint Gonna Be”) in which Bob Daisley plays the bass. Fate would have it that Crane would became the Ratt bassist as well afterwards. In a dropping the names moment, the guitarist in Arcade Johnny Angel had a connection with Al Pitrelli from their brief Talas days.

Vertex was way ahead of their time. Musically, Vertex sounded like a cross between Rammstein (before anyone knew of Rammstein globally), the hard rock genre and Megadeth. Pearcy even sounds like Dave Mustaine in the vocal department. I believe critics just saw it as a glam rocker faking his way through the 90’s pretending to be industrial. But Pearcy is really good on this and the album is forgotten. “Industrial RATT” is a term that I came across a fair bit in the YouTube comments section. The bands Orgy, Coal Chamber, Snot, Static X, Powerman 500, Stabbing Westward and early Filter all sounded very similar to what Vertex was doing.

Another release that happened in 1996, was from the “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” (TSO) who dropped the “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album around the Holiday season and man, it sold. 3 plus million is sales in the U.S for a triple platinum certification. A tour was organised in the U.S and it sold like crazy as well. The fusion of hard rock, progressive rock, classical and Christmas themed music with a bit of blues rock and jazz found itself an audience. A large one at that. And for the audience it was all about the experience.

After a long time as a journey man, a session guru and as a band member/leader trying to get a project up and running, Pitrelli had a project that would provide him with stability and success.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Awake

Produced and Engineered by Duane Baron and John Purdell who were still riding the wave of success from the “No More Tears” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Dave Prater who produced “Images And Words” was not considered due to the difficult working relationship between the band and producer.

“Awake” is the third studio album but the first album for the band, written knowing that there was an audience for their music. Artists would like us to believe that they write music to please themselves but they are lying. Once an artist experiences public acceptance of their music, their minds want to experience more of it. That in itself leads to a different kind of pressure. And the guys in the band were still young, so they didn’t know how to deal with this pressure and the pressure from the label.

Released on October 4, 1994, the album came out at the peak of the Seattle movement. The heaviness was evident and the label wanted it, but the label also wanted a song like “Pull Me Under” even more, a combination of that Iron Maiden meets Metallica sound. But that song never came.

But with this album, Dream Theater unknowingly went from a progressive rock band with roots in hard rock, to a progressive rock band, with roots in groove metal, paving the way for a fertile new genre known as progressive metal. But the critics were mixed on it and even the fans were split. But the years that have passed have been kind to the album, and now it is seen very differently.

The writing sessions began in February, after a small 4 week break after the “Images And Words” tour. Each song had weird working titles like “Kittens On Crack”, “Blowfish”, “Beach House Reality” and “Squid”. A lot of music was written and when this happens, a band leader would need to decide as to what is kept and what is discarded. Dream Theater had no band leader. So the creative disagreements started.

Once the demos were completed, the tracks were given to their A&R Rep, Derek Oliver to listen to. While the songs were good, Oliver didn’t see a marketability to them, however he still gave the go ahead to record the album, as his boss Sylvia Rhone wanted the album done so she could show orders for the album.

It’s also the last album to feature original keyboardist Kevin Moore, who announced his decision to leave the band during the mixing process of the album.

Larry Freemantle, who had designed the cover of “Images and Words”, provided the artwork for “Awake”. As with “Images and Words”, the band instructed Freemantle to include several lyrical references in the cover, such as a clock showing the time 6:00, a mirror and a spider in the middle of a web.

“It’s 6 o clock on a Christmas morning”.

I’m not sure what I expected from Dream Theater for the follow up to “Images And Words”. But voiceovers saying it’s six o’clock on a Christmas morning was probably not it.

6.00

A Mike Portnoy drum groove kicks it off, rooted more in freeform jazz fusion.

And there is a Rush like groove that reminds me of “Natural Science”.

The lyrics are written by Kevin Moore about routine, duty and commitments in a person’s life, like cutting wood to keep a family warm and working to put food on the table. It’s so far removed from Rat Tailed Jimmy in “Dr Feelgood” or Metallica’s evil Sandman.

Caught In A Web

The 7 string guitar with the Low B string is in action here.

Truth be told, I saw the 7 string as a fad. I never saw a reason why a guitarist would need one. If you wanted a low B, increase the gauge on your strings and tune the E string down to B.

While someone like Iommi tuned down to C# out of necessity to make the strings easier to bend due to cutting off the tips of his fingers in a work accident, I still didn’t get why artists needed to go lower.

Because it sounds muddled when you play fast riffs, but press play to hear the killer lead.

Would you expect anything else from Petrucci?

Innocence Faded

Petrucci wrote the lyrics of “Innocence Faded” with Wikipedia telling me “it was inspired by his deteriorating friendship with Moore”.

When Dream Theater do major melodic rock, they do it well.

Press play to hear the outro.

Petrucci comes in with an outro riff with triads over an E pedal point. And if that wasn’t good enough, he starts to solo over it in a Steve Morse and Paul Gilbert manner.

Next up we have the “A Mind Beside Itself” Trilogy featuring the three separate songs, “Erotomania”, “Voices”, and “The Silent Man”.

Erotomania

An instrumental.

A large section of this song was written for the song “Pull Me Under” however it was removed from the song before they went into the studio to record it. And those sections which were removed ended up in this song.

Voices

The intro. Press play to hear it.

Silent Man

An acoustic song during the unplugged craze. It deserved more attention.

The Mirror

Its heavy courtesy of the 7 string and its ready to challenge all the groove metallers. Here the 7 string works because the riffs are slower.

There is a section in this song, when they play the main piano riff from “Space Dye Vest”. Brilliant.

Portnoy wrote the lyrics to “The Mirror”, describing his battle with alcoholism. He would return to the subject on later Dream Theater albums with the group’s so-called “Twelve-step Suite.”

Lie

It was the leadoff single. Not sure if this should have been the song as lyrically its poor. “The Mirror” was a better choice.

But the lead is killer.

And it ends the same way “The Mirror” started as the two songs are connected. But this time around the heavy groove sets the foundation for Petrucci to solo over.

Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

It began as a poem and two chords brought to the band by Myung. They worked on it, hated it and the next day they liked it.

This is DT being like U2 and Marillion. Myung sets the foundation with his bass riff and Petrucci brings out his Marillion and The Edge influences with digital delay melodic riffs, while Kevin Moore lays a keyboard riff which is sad but hopeful.

Scarred

The blues jazz fusion intro hooks me. For an 11 minute song there are so m at good sections.

Like the Metal verses and the solo and the outro.

Space Dye Vest

Kevin Moore is listed as the sole writer here, much to the protest of Mike Portnoy who in hindsight wanted to leave this track of it.

But it was one of my favorites because it had a soundtrack like quality to it. I could feel the sadness in the music. And James LaBrie is like Peter Gabriel in his vocal delivery.

It’s a style that I liked from em.

To tour they had to find a keyboard player.

Jens Johansson from Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo band was the first to be approached. While the label and management were keen on Johansson, the band wasn’t.

Jordan Rudess was the second and the band were blown away by him at the audition. Jordan agreed to play a small gig with them (which went terribly) and then rejected the offer to join them at that point in time. He had a gig with the Dixie Dregs, a full time job with Kurzweil and a very young family. He chose to be around his family during this period.

Enter the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher (as described by Gene Simmons), the one known as Derek Sherinian. By this point of time, Sherinian had worked with Lita Ford, Alice Cooper and Kiss.

John Petrucci and Al Pitrellil are both from Long Island and they used to teach at the same guitar store. Pitrelli put a call to Petrucci and basically said to him, “you got to hire this keyboard player”. And Sherinian was hired on a temporary basis to begin with.

In relation to the album, the label considered the album a commercial failure, which would lead to the band being pressured to write more radio-friendly songs on their next studio album. For Dream Theater, the label situation was never easy. Their Atco seven album deal was moved to East West Records, a division of Atlantic Records and then to Elektra.

This would lead to more problems. But that’s for another post.

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The Record Vault: The Black Crowes – Amorica

The band is unchanged. Chris Robinson is on vocals and harmonica, Rich Robinson and Marc Ford are on guitar, Johnny Colt is on bass guitar, Steve Gorman is on drums and Eddie Harsch is on keyboards.

Released in 1994, “Amorica” took a while to come to fruition. It wasn’t a hazy 8 day recording session like “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion”.

You see, in 1993, the band worked on an album called “Tall”. But the recordings got scrapped because Chris and Rich Robinson didn’t see eye to eye during the sessions. Rich felt that Chris alienated him from the rest of the band. Chris reckons that Rich was upset because he was leading the sessions and was rejecting his riffs and ideas.

Well, Rich ended up winning the argument and the “Amorica” album is the result of moving forward with the ideas of Rich and not Chris.

And man, the cover caused a stir in even in the more progressive 90’s.

Who would have thought that a picture which was deemed offensive in 1976 when it appeared on a cover of Hustler was still seen as offensive almost 20 years later?

Well in Australia, we didn’t really see anything wrong with it so we got the cover as intended, while the U.S got two covers.

Gone

It sounds like they had a few drinks, wrote some riffs and then jammed em. It’s complicated blues, as there is so much going on but it didn’t set my world on fire.

A Conspiracy

They tried to recreate the groove and infectious melody of “Remedy” with this. While they didn’t get close, they still got a very rocking song out of it.

High Head Blues

A sleazy soul blues rock riff starts it off. It’s almost funky and I like it. One of the best songs on the album.

Cursed Diamond

A piano like slow rhythm and blues tune, very Rolling Stones like and the solo section gets all aggressive and swampy.

Nonfiction

An acoustic track with a vocal that sounds like 70’s Rod Stewart. But it’s a skip for me.

She Gave Good Sunflower

Chris is asking a babe to do him and the track could be interchanged with any song from the previous albums.

Press play to hear some nice wah wah soloing from Marc Ford over a thundering Johnny Colt bass riff. And stick around to hear the outro soloing as well.

P. 25 London

A throwaway track.

Ballad in Urgency

Another ballad, with some unique blues/jazz like chords, nicely phrased guitar fills and Johnny Colt’s bass thundering in the background.

The song then fades into a piano section along with Mr Colt’s bass.

Wiser Time

Steve Gorman brings it here, showcasing that even though the Robinson brothers write the songs, the performances of the band members are just as important. This one is also a favourite.

Rich Robinson plays some tasty slide and he also duets on lead vocals.

And each section has so much variation. The verses are based on a three chord “Sweet Home Alabama” like chord progression. The Chorus is classic blues rock.

But.

It’s the later sections which takes the track and makes it a signature song.

It’s not for the crossover fans who just liked “Remedy” and nothing else.

This is for the hard core fans. It starts off with a swampy Delta bluesy acoustic slide solo, which is followed by an electric piano solo, very Doors like.

This then gives way to an electric guitar solo, very B.B. King like with a bit more grit and it all crashes in to a Lynyrd Skynyrd soaring lead, full of harmonized guitars.

After five minutes and thirty seconds, the only thing you can do is press repeat.

Downtown Money Waster

Old time blues with a ragtime piano and acoustic slide guitar.

Descending

Another favourite and another five plus minute ballad-esque song, which starts off with a piano riff. And when the band kicks in, it gets the head moving and the foot tapping. If it doesn’t, feel for a pulse.

Chris Robinson is on fire vocally and Mr Colt’s bass is thumping throughout, synced up to the bass drum of Gorman’s.

The track closes with a ramped up piano solo over another thundering bass riff from Mr Colt.

The album did good business in Australia again, charting at 11 which they also replicated in the U.S and a Gold Certification.

But it took the record buying public by surprise because it didn’t really have that “accessible” song that people could latch on to. The debut album had “Hard To Handle” and the follow up had “Remedy”. But this one had some deep cuts and some fan favourites.

Crank it.

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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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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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