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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – A Change Of Seasons (EP)

Mike Portnoy was not happy when the song “A Change of Seasons” was pulled from being recorded in the studio for the “Images And Words” album.

So Portnoy kept asking Derek Oliver to provide funding so the band could record it. Portnoy tried to include it with the “Awake” album and again, Oliver said “no”.

And that’s when the fans stepped in. Dream Theater fans started to connect online via the Ytsejam Mailing List and suddenly, a petition was created to convince the label to give the go ahead for the band to record the song.

Yep, Dream Theater was one of those bands to have a direct to fan connection via their fan club and message boards in the early days of the Internet. Mike Portnoy was key here, as a fan of Marillion, who was also another band which kept engaging with their fans via their fan clubs and much later, Marillion were one of the earlier bands to get fans to fund an album before it became a thing.

At 23 minutes, it was their longest song at that point in time, but the way it is written and constructed, the seven parts of the song, can be listened to individually as separate tracks, if you wanted to splice the track. Lyrics are written by Mike Portnoy.

But.

If the band wanted to record this track in the studio, Derek Oliver said the track must be produced by Dave Prater. As described in the book “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Oliver believed that Prater really understood what Dream Theater was about and when Prater zeroed in to the bands weakness, the band couldn’t hack it, hence the animosity. Prater was the producer for the “I&W” album and he was having serious run ins with Mike Portnoy over triggered drum sounds and with Kevin Moore over his reluctance to do anything that the Producer asked.

While the band disagreed with the Prater suggestion, they relented. as the only way to get funding was to do it the label way. Since Prater was told to not use triggers on the drums, it meant Portnoy wouldn’t be an adversary anymore and his main adversary during “I&W”, Kevin Moore was not in the band anymore. But Prater and James LaBrie didn’t connect this time around and they started to argue. But, in the end, LaBrie’s vocal performance on the track is excellent, so all the pushing and yelling, ended up in a fantastic vocal take.

The EP was released on September 19, 1995, through East West Records.

Apart from the title track, it has a collection of live cover songs performed at a fan club concert on January 31, 1995 at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, England. It’s also their first recording with Derek Sherinian on keyboards.

I know what most people are thinking,

23 minutes of a million notes a minute over complex time signatures. If you are thinking that, you are mistaken. The sections are all songs within a song and one thing that producer Dave Prater has going for him was his questioning of why they want to overplay certain parts.

Like when he said to John Petrucci (as mentioned in the book “Lifting Shadows”), “why are you trying to impress Steve Vai” with those fast technical licks as your first improvised take of the lead was way better than the stuff you worked out days later.

I. The Crimson Sunrise (instrumental)

The song begins and ends with an acoustic guitar. A seven string acoustic guitar with the low B and while I am critical of the 7-strings on fast picked stuff, I really like em on groove orientated stuff, and this is what this song is. A Groove Heavy Rock beast with progressive elements.

As soon as I heard the first notes of the intro acoustic riff I was hooked.

Did they try and recreate “Pull Me Under” with this whole intro piece?

Maybe.

Because there is melody, power and aggression here in the acoustics and when the distortion kicks in, you definitely feel it in your bones.

The first 3 minutes is essential listening. All instrumental but never boring.

II. Innocence

It begins at the 3.50 mark.

And how good is that arena rock chorus, that begins with “Innocence caressing me / I never felt so young before / There was much life in me / Still I longed to search for more” and when it repeats the second time, it’s worded a bit different. “Ignorance surrounding me / I’ve never been so filled with fear / All my life’s been drained from me / The end is drawing near.

III. Carpe Diem

It begins at the 6.54 mark with the start of the acoustic guitar arpeggios, almost classical. Portnoy is now referencing the last moments he had with his mother before she left to catch a plane which crashed.

The last few lyrical lines, “preparing for her flight / I held with all my might / fearing my deepest fright / she walked into the night / she turned for one last look / she looked me in the eye / I said “I love you, / goodbye”.

IV. The Darkest of Winters (instrumental)

I’m pretty sure this section kicks in at the 9.47 mark. It’s got metal and a jazz fusion like lead from Petrucci. There are a lot of elements from “I&W” here especially from the songs “Metropolis” and “Take The Time”. The riff at 11.50 would have been a foundation for a song for any other band. But from Dream Theater, it’s just a riff in a 23 minute song.

At 12.54, Petrucci starts the melodic lead that leads into “Another World”.

V. Another World

It kicks in at 13.03. It’s the big power ballad part of the song with LaBrie delivering one of his best vocals and Petrucci on the lead at 15.39 is perfect with his phrasing, delivering big bends and vibrato lines with short bursts of alternate picking.

VI. The Inevitable Summer (instrumental)

It starts at the 16.58 mark. Myung plays this bass groove which allows Petrucci to bring out the Lydian and Mixolydian scales. This section reminds me of the solo section in “Under A Glass Moon” from “I&W”. Even Sherinian gets a solo moment.

VII. The Crimson Sunset

The final section. It starts at the 20.12 section with a melodic lead that should have been harmonised, Maiden style.

“I’m much wiser now a lifetime of memories run through my head”.

Then there is a complete tempo and feel change for the final verse and the intro acoustic guitar riff appears to bookend a masterpiece.

And while everyone purchased this EP for the original song, the live recordings also deserve a mention.

“Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John cover)

I didn’t know about this songs until I heard them here. Written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John. At 10:46, the song was originally recorded by Elton John as the opener on the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album from 1973, which I then purchased after hearing this version.

And it’s even longer on the Elton John version at 11.09, which came as a surprise to me, as Elton John’s 80’s hits are all within the 4 minute range of commercial radio. I can definitely hear how this song influenced Jim Steinman and “Bat Out Of Hell”.

Who said that cover songs take away from the original?

“Perfect Strangers” (Deep Purple cover)

Written by Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover. It’s the title track from their 80’s comeback album in 1984. This version is very faithful to the original version, and guess what, I went out and purchased this Deep Purple album based on this cover.

“The Rover” / “Achilles Last Stand” / “The Song Remains the Same” (Led Zeppelin cover)

The songs used here for the medley are written by Robert Plan and Jimmy Page. Dream Theater took the best bits of these songs and made a 7.30 minute track that is worthy.

“The Rover” is a song from the “Physical Graffiti” album, with a good bluesy groove which is played to lead into “Achilles Last Stand” which is from the “Presence” album. Here we get most of the singing section of the song, the interludes and that progressive like riff which is played during the solo. Finally, the song is rounded out with some sections from “The Song Remains The Same” from the “Houses Of The Holy” album.

LaBrie proves that you can still pay homage to Robert Plant without sounding like him (remember Lenny Wolf) and Petrucci must have made a deal with Aliester Crowley as he is basically Jimmy Page.

“The Big Medley”

The last song. A mash up of songs from a diverse list of artists that clocks in at around 10 minutes.

It starts off with “In the Flesh?” a Pink Floyd cover.

At the 2.30 minute mark, the awesome riffage of “Carry On Wayward Son” from Kansas kicks in.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen kicks in 4.35 that whole hard rock section after the operatic vocals. Petrucci then goes into the lead break.

“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” from Journey kicks in at 6.00. It shouldn’t work here, but it does. Its 12/8 bar room boogie riff works perfectly after “Bohemian Rhapsody”. LaBrie croons as good as Steve Perry and what else can be said about Petrucci who can move between Jimmy Page, Richie Blackmore, Dave Gilmour, Brian May, Kerry Livgren and Neal Schon so effortlessly. And then he covers Steve Morse and Steve Hackett easily.

“Cruise Control” from Dixie Dregs kicks in at 8.11. This music was new to me back then.

“Turn It On Again” (Genesis cover)”

This part kicks in at 9.14. The riff is immediately memorable, yet familiar as I feel that it influenced some sections on “Innocence Faded” from the “Awake” album.

By the end of the medley, I was out and about seeking albums from Genesis, Dixie Dregs, Journey. I already had the Queen and Kansas albums that had those songs.

If you haven’t heard this EP (which by the way is an hour long), press play on it.

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

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.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault: Def Leppard – Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980–1995)

If you had the albums you didn’t really need this unless you are a serious collector, which the majority of Def Leppard fans are. And if you had no albums from the band, then this is one to purchase as its focus is definitely on the big albums of “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize”.

“Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits (1980–1995)” was released on 23 October 1995.

Pour Some Sugar on Me (Historia Video Edit)

From the “Hysteria” album, written by Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage.

The song was treading water in and out of the Top 10 singles charts and 49 weeks after it was released it hit the Number 1 spot. The path to number 1 happened during the European tour. The Strip Clubs of Florida started playing it, then people started requesting it on radio and the song just blew up.

They were done with the album and working on the last song for the album, “Armageddon It”. During a break in the recording, Elliot picked up the acoustic guitar and played the three chords. Lange heard it and liked it. It’s “We Will Rock You” vibe is evident and the Chorus was done first. So they had the big hook and worked backwards from there.

The verses started to have this “Come Together” vocal feel. But they weren’t done, as both Lange and Elliot took small tape recorders and scatted phonetically into. 10 days later the song was completed. The fastest thing they had done for the album.

“Love is like a bomb” okay.

Photograph

From the “Pyromania” album and written by Clark, Elliott, Lange, Savage and Willis.

Collen played the lead break on his Ibanez Destroyer. It was a hybrid hard rock version of AC/DC meets Boston. It had that aggressiveness and the melody.

Love Bites

From the “Hysteria” album, written by Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage. The bulk of the song was courtesy of Mutt Lange. When he played it to the band on acoustic guitar in sounded like a Don Henley cut, as Lange’s voice is very similar.

But as the band kept working on it with Lange, it just kept getting bigger and bigger. The Chorus is huge and press play to hear the melodic guitars there.

Also when the song broke through, the band had to learn it while on tour to add it to its set list. And it was daunting due to the multi-layered harmonies.

Let’s Get Rocked

One of the earliest songs written for the “Adrenalize” album by Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage. Like “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, the Chorus hook was written first and the rest followed after.

Its juvenile and fun and so departed from the “shoe starers” as the Grunge movement was known back then.

Two Steps Behind (Acoustic Version)

Written by Elliott and the song appeared as a B side on one of the “Adrenalize” singles, on the “Retro Active” album and on the “Last Action Hero” soundtrack which was a box office bomb for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The idea for an acoustic song came together after Joe Elliot started jamming with Hothouse Flowers.

Michael Kamen got involved because he wanted to do strings on a Def Leppard cut. So the band sent him all the tracks that they were using on “Retro Active” and nothing really stood out to Kamen.

However one of his assistants heard the song and kept humming the vocal melody. When Kamen asked her what she was humming, she mentioned it’s one of the Def Leppard songs they sent through and Kamen had his “a-ha” moment and his involvement was sealed.

Animal

From the “Hysteria” album written by Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage.

And it was put together so unusually. Joe Elliot sang his vocals to a different backing track and once the vocals were done, Lange took away the music and left the drums and vocals and told Phil and Steve to come up with a new musical track.

Heaven Is

From the “Adrenalize” album and written by Clark, Collen, Elliot, Lange and Savage.

It can be interchanged with a Bryan Adams cut.

Rocket (Visualize video edit)

From the “Hysteria” album written by Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage.

It was actually Joe Elliot that came up the African drum loop.

When Love & Hate Collide

Written by Elliot and Savage. It was originally written for “Adrenalize” circa 1989, however it’s seen as the new song for this album. Elliot was going with a “Love Bites” part 2 vibe and they stopped recording the “Slang” album to get this song finished for the “Vault” album at the request of their label.

And the guys had to get re-acquainted with their past recording methods as their mindsets were on the future and the sounds/production of “Slang”.

The vocal melody also reminds of Peter Cetera and “Glory Of Love”.

Action

The love the band has for Sweet is evident on how well they covered this track for a B side, which also appeared on the “Retro Active” album.

It’s full of energy and you can hear the fun dripping from the speakers.

Make Love Like a Man

From “Adrenalize” and written by Clark, Collen, Elliott and Lange. It’s basically “Pour Some Sugar On Me” part 2.

Armageddon It

From “Hysteria” and written by Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage.

The guitar part was just power chords when the song was first demoed in 84, and then a few years later, Steve Clark started playing a T-Rex inspired riff over the power chord progressions, which inspired Joe Elliot vocally.

And that whole, “gimme all your loving” section was inspired by ZZ Top and the band were always going to change the words, so it didn’t have “gimme all your loving” but it sounded so good that Mutt Lange told em to leave it.

Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?

From “Adrenalize” and written by Collen, Elliott and Lange. They had this and “When Love And Hate Collide” and decided to go with this for the album. The majority of the song was written by Collen and Lange with Elliot contributing lyrics.

Rock of Ages

From “Pyromania” and written by Clark, Elliott and Lange.

It was a Steve Clark riff and the original demo had a slower tempo.

Mutt Lange had the song musical structure mapped out. The verses came first but they still didn’t have a Chorus.

A hymn book in the Control Room left behind by a Choir group gave the song its title.

Hysteria

The title track and written by Clark, Collen, Elliott, Lange and Savage.

But the main guitar part was from the fingers of Rick Savage. And Joe Elliot didn’t like it, because he thought it sounded too much like “Every Breath You Take” from The Police.

Bringin’ On the Heartbreak

From the “High ‘N’ Dry” album and written by Clark, Elliott and Willis. Still a live staple and one of their signature song. Check it out for the harmony guitars.

Initially it was a demo called “A Certain Heartache”. And when they started working with Mutt Lange, Lange had a tendency to rip songs apart and ask the guys to add new bits. But for this, it didn’t really happen as Lange approved.

5× Platinum in the U.S. Not bad for a Best off compilation. Ka-Ching.

Standard
Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Deep Purple – Bombay Calling

It’s a 2004 DVD release of a concert recorded in 1995.

It’s Deep Purple post Blackmore and Steve Morse is the guitarist and has been the guitarist since.

Morse play’s Blackmore’s recorded parts more accurate than Blackmore ever did as Blackmore really liked to improvise.

Fireball

It opens the show and I’m struck by how very un-Metal they look.

Gillan is wearing a vest, with baggy tracksuit like pants and black slip on shoes that people involved in karate wear. It’s definitely not a Metal look but it’s a relaxed look.

And there is no stage show with pyro and backdrops. It’s just the band and their music and a few lights.

Maybe I’m A Leo

The blues groove shines through.

There’s no doubting their musical technique and prowess. Morse really shines through when he hits those fast Lydian lines in the improv solo.

And you can’t escape his Peavey 5150 amp set up. RIP EVH.

Black Night

Glover’s bass sound is monstrous so far and he really drives this song.

And Ian Paice doesn’t get the credit he should as one of the most dependable and skilled drummers in rock music. He’s thunderous on here.

The Battle Rages On

It really fits the spot it occupies in the concert.

And Jon Lord is the star here with his synth riff.

How good is it?

The song is not an easy one to perform. It’s epic Metal with a lot of exotic minor key riffs and melodies.

Check out Morse in the solo. A true guitar hero.

And have I mentioned how good Ian Paice is?

Woman From Tokyo

A classic.

That Intro riff is huge. Instantly recognizable.

And did anyone notice the drum pattern and how a certain song called “Run To The Hills” has a similar pattern.

Have I mentioned how good Paicey is behind the kit?

Purpendicular Waltz

They played an unreleased song that they were still writing. The blues rock groove definitely grabs ya and never lets go.

When A Blind Man Cries

One of my favorite ballads.

Lush keys from Jon Lord starts it all off.

And Steve Morse comes in with volume swells, delay and slides. Throughout the song, Morse is decorating with licks.

And Ian Gillan has a voice for these kind of songs.

Stick around for when Morse takes the shred solo. It’s “hairs on the back of your neck” type of soloing.

Perfect Strangers

Glover and Paice lay down the foundations which allows Lord and Morse to decorate musically.

And Gillan is in fine form here.

Pictures Of Home

Morse is in cruise control here. He’s having a blast and as the new guy, it’s like he’s always been there.

And Paice on the drums, so precise and yet so jammy.

Child In Time

When I think of this song, I think of the vocal ohhhs and ahs.

And I like how it builds and it gets louder and more intense as it goes on.

And Morse is helping Gillan here as he plays the higher pitch vocals melody on the guitar and it sounds fantastic.

Gillan then moves to percussion while the rest of the band jams out the next section. Morse is burning the fretboard here.

The music stops and Jon Lord brings back the Intro riff and groove.

Anya

From “The Battle Rages On” album. And while Morse didn’t write it, he made it sound like it was written by him in the instrumental intro.

But when the song kicks in, it’s a Rainbow tune from the Bonnet and Turner era. Maybe because Turner was involved at some stage on this album.

Space Truckin’

I enjoy this song as the way it was recorded. I wasn’t a fan of the 15 plus minutes live versions they did while Blackmore was in the band.

On this they keep it simple and just rock out.

The chromatic lines in the Chorus reminds me of stuff that Metallica would do. Just check out the Intro to “Master Of Puppets” and you’ll hear what I’m saying.

Guitar Solo

As good as the guitarists are I’m just not a fan of these kind of things.

Lazy (Including Ian Paice Drum Solo)

And they move into the Bluesy “Lazy”.

Speed King

And after the drum solo, another uptempo blues rock number begins. If you haven’t gotten the idea so far, the band has a great jam element to their live show.

Highway Star

The story behind this song and it’s creation is legendary.

Smoke On The Water

And the closer itself has a story to tell in the lyrics along with one of the most iconic riffs ever.

The 1995 Bombay show is a good historical capture of DP MK7. The show was filmed for Indian TV, and the crew did a great job. It was also the bands first visit to India.

YouTube has the whole 2 hour show, so crank it.

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

Australian Method Series: You Am I – Hi Fi Way

“Hi Fi Way” is the second album by Australian rock band You Am I, released in 1995.

Wikipedia tells me that “Hi Fi Way” reached #1 on the local albums chart and is one of the most influential and critically acclaimed Australian albums of the 1990s.

I remember this album being released and I also remember not being too enthralled by the singles at the time.

Coming off a decade plus diet of 80s hard rock, I was a bit destroyed when the labels started abandoning the genre in favour of grunge acts. So I went into a deep dive into the 70s. And that deep 70s dive became the reason why I ignored You Am I.

Main songwriter Tim Rogers later said that he was really high and drunk the whole time. And he wanted the album to sound huge but with the way that he sings and plays guitar it ended up sounding scrappier than he intended.

They had had seven days to make it, while living in New York.

The band is Tim Rogers on Vocals, Guitar, Mellotron, Hammond organ, Andy Kent on Bass and Rusty Hopkinson on Drums.

Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth is Producing. Stylistically it’s like punk and grunge.

Ain’t Gone And Open

It’s like a garage jam.

Minor Byrd

It’s a skip for me.

She Digs Her

Remember the lyrical theme from “Same Ol Situation” from the Crue.

A guy falls for a girl who is into girls and the guy is still thinking that’s okay, maybe he’ll get a threesome out of this.

Well, if you listen to the song; that also didn’t happen.

Cathy’s Clown

It’s almost like The Easybeats meets Radiohead meets The Who.

Jewels and Bullets

It’s a punk pop song and I like it.

There’s a drink you can drown in
Choose a blanket to die in

When you’re out on the streets only a few things matter.

Purple Sneakers

Folk Rock.

Found out what shame can mean
In purple sneakers and grey jeans

Yep to some people this look wouldn’t cut it and they’ll do their best to let the person know.

Pizza Guy

Grunge like.

Grab a six pack for the way home

Who doesn’t?

It’s a rite of passage. Well it used to be.

The Applecross Wing Commander

It’s got this Blue Oyster Cult and Free 70s vibe.

And although I have no idea what the song is about, the groove and attitude of the song grabs me.

Stray

I like the Soul Bluesy Intro on this.

The Vines would build a career playing songs like this.

Handwasher

It’s got this Hunters And Collectors vibe.

Wash my hands in shame
4000 times a day
And when I make it on home
There’s a smell that always stays

Sometimes the stain never comes out. When I used to be a fitter and machinist the grease was in the skin.

Punkarella

It’s high energy.

Coffee teeth and a cigarette heart for sale

Great lyrics.

Ken (The Mother Nature’s Son)

You’ve lived on beans and rice
And fell for Jesus Christ

Everyone is looking for some place to belong.

Gray

It’s a skip.

How Much Is Enough

It’s melancholic. My favorite song.

In the morning
When you’ve wiped his taste away
The last of the red and all the records you played
How much is enough?

Sometimes it’s enough for a few hours and then the night repeats.

There’s a review at Sputnik Music which summarizes the album as “The backyard gig, captured on CD”.

And I agree.

The album is mentioned by members of Jet and Wolfmother as an influence. And for a little while it looked like You Am I was going to break into the US, but that that never came.

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

Australian Method Series: AC/DC – Ballbreaker

I caught em live on the “Ballbreaker” tour and little did I know that would be the last time I would watch em live.

“Ballbreaker” is a favourite, the same way “Flick Of The Switch” is a favourite. It feels rawer and bluesier. Both albums came after massive periods of success in “Highway To Hell/Back In Black/For Those About To Rock” and “The Razors Edge”.

“The Razors Edge” was that popular that it gave the band a 16 year victory lap. In other words it was still selling when this album and others came out, along with the monster known as “Back In Black”.

Released in 1995, it’s album number thirteen based on the Australian releases. Otherwise its number 12 based on the international releases.

The only change to the band line up was the return of Phil Rudd on drums, replacing Chris Slade.

But the producer this time is Rick Rubin although most of the work is credited to Mike Fraser as Co-Producer, engineer and mixer. And many years later, Malcolm Young said it was a mistake to work with Rubin who was absent for a lot of the sessions.

Hard As A Rock

It’s a favourite. I like the clean tone, droning open string riff to start the song and then it explodes into distortion with the Young brothers jamming on a B5 chord.

Cover You In Oil

The walking guitar riff reminds me of “Ice Cream Man” from Van Halen. And while Brian Johnson was hard as a rock in the first song, now he’s asking if he’s allowed to cover someone in oil.

The Furor

I like the single note riff that Malcom plays in the Verse while Angus strums away in the higher register.

And when the Chorus kicks in, I like what Angus plays on the higher register. And the lyrics are simple, “I’m your furor baby”.

Boogie Man

The riff is derivative and the title is derivative of “Night Stalker”. But hey, AC/DC built a career on being derivative.

The Honey Roll

The riffs in this song are virtually unknown but they are as good as anything that came from the “Back In Black” album.

Burnin’ Alive

A simple riff on a lightly distorted electric kicks off the song. And I like how Rudd builds the intro.

Check out the groove on the verse riff.

Hail Caeser

How good does this start off?

It reminds me of all the things I like about AC/DC like “Dirty Deeds”, “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “TNT”.

I said “Hail”.

Love Bomb

I don’t know what kind of a bomb a love bomb is, but its Wikipedia definition has love bombing as an attempt to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection.

The Chorus is catchy, but the lead break is my favourite.

Caught With Your Pants Down

I like the Intro. Sleazy.

In the verses, “Whole Lotta Rosie” went around in the 90’s.

And how good are the chromatics in the Chorus.

Whiskey On The Rocks

This song subliminally makes me drinks whiskey.

Ballbreaker

The riff is excellent, iconic, but when the bass of Williams and Rudd kick in, that’s when you know it’s gonna be a great AC/DC song. A perfect song.

In the end, there are no bad songs here or a skippable track. And seeing em play most of this album on the tour, it’s definitely a favorite.

In Australia it went straight to number 1 (as most albums of AC/DC do here), along with Sweden and Finland.

It was a Top 10 album in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK and US.

Certified 3x Platinum in Australia. 2x Platinum in the U.S. Platinum in France and New Zealand. Gold in Austria, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the U.K.

In other words, the return of AC/DC was cemented.

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

The Record Vault: Dokken – One Live Night

What do you do when you want to do an “unplugged” album but MTV doesn’t care for you?

In Dokken’s case, it’s simple.

Do a few unplugged shows, record em and release it. Now this CD was originally released for the Japanese market. It was successful there and it got an international release in 1995.

My CD version is a double and it was released in 1999 in Australia with the album “Shadowlife” attached to it.

But this review will be solely for the “One Live Night” album. “Shadowlife” is up next.

In the CD booklet, you open it up and see the cover to the Shadowlife album and lyrics to the live Album. It’s bizarre to say the least and I already had the “Shadowlife” album purchased separately.

Now it’s not all unplugged as Lynch does plug in for his solos.

Into the Fire

No one in the audience had any idea that the opening song was “Into The Fire” based on the opening strummed chords.

But when the arpeggios started, it was recognizable and the audience was on board.

I wasn’t sold on the plugged in lead break. I wanted Lynch to recreate a lead suitable for an unplugged setting.

“Who would have thought?”, said Don Dokken at the end of the song.

Yes, who would have thought.

Unchain The Night

Great song all round.

The Intro is excellent and I like the sinister acoustic verse riff.

But…

The electric leads over the verse riff detract instead of enhancing.

How powerful does the Chorus sound in this setting?

And the outro.

They are strumming Em to D to C and back to D and the vocal melody is hooky. The electric guitar comes in for the outro lead and it works. It’s restrained, but I still would have preferred an acoustic lead.

The Maze

Don introduces this song as one that Mr John Kalodner selected. For those that don’t know, Kalodner knew how to spot a hit.

But the 90s era was a different beast to the 80s era and a hit was harder to find especially when every promotion avenue ignored bands like Dokken.

Nothing Left To Say

Like the album version and Lynch delivers an acoustic lead like the album.

Perfect.

From The Beginning

The ELP cover works well here.

Tooth And Nail

They’ve rearranged it into a blues rock tune, almost Bad Company like with Wild Mick Brown on vocals who sounds like Jon Oliva from Savatage.

And it works.

But… why the lyric lead. An acoustic lead would have served this rendition well.

Just Got Lucky

You get to hear how poppy the Chorus vocal melody is in this setting.

I Will Remember

An instrumental from Lynch’s solo album “Sacred Groove”. It’s like a ballad with a lot of melodies and some super fast shred. A nice intermission.

Alone Again

How do you get the wall of electric sounds to sound so serene and haunting without losing the essence of the song?

They got it right on this one.

I like how the piano is the dominant instrument this time around. When you go unplugged, you need to be creative.

In My Dreams

This song works in any setting. The melodies are that anthemic it doesn’t matter if there distortion or acoustics.

Nowhere Man

I would have preferred a few Dokken cuts but everyone was trying to see if they could have a hit like Tesla and “Signs”.

It’s Not Love

It’s got that blues rock 70s vibe in the Intro. And the crowd has no idea the song title.

Then someone (I think its Mick Brown) yells 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the riff starts.

A perfect closer.

And no songs from “Back For The Attack” are on it. I guess they have their reasons.

This is the sound of Dokken fighting tooth and nail to stay alive in a hostile market place.

Crank it.

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

The Record Vault: Dokken – Dysfunctional

In 1992, three years prior to the release of “Dysfunctional”, George Lynch was still appearing in the Guitar mags I purchased like Guitar World, Guitar One and Guitar School.

But in 1995, he was nowhere to be seen. The album came out and there was nothing.

That’s how quickly the mags replaced Mr Scary with the dudes from Counting Crows, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, Dave Matthews Band, Oasis, Rage Against The Machine and others.

I have a motto in life. To take care of what brings in my bread and butter. Anything else that I would want to do after, will be a spin-off from that.

And it looks like the guys in Dokken had a similar motto. Let’s focus on what brings in our bread and butter first.

But before we get to the album, you need to understand these guys.

The “Dysfunctional” album was pretty much written before George Lynch joined the project. Even George Lynch stated the same in an interview on the Guitar International website.

“Most of this record, “Dysfunctional”, was finished by the time I got there. In fact, everything but the guitar parts were pretty much done.

Everybody in management and in the band kept feeding me these horror stories of who they would get to replace me if I didn’t come back – you can guess the names.

Well, when I listened to the tracks, I could tell that Jeff [Pilson, bass] and Don [Dokken, vocals] had written a lot of the songs with me in mind. I mean, there were parts in certain songs that I had done on other Dokken records – and even Lynch Mob records- years ago.”

However Don Dokken has said that the album is written solely by him;

“Dysfunctional was a great album. I mean they (Lynch and Pilson) had nothing to do with that album. I wrote that album by myself. There wasn’t a George, Jeff, Mick effort. They joined Dokken at the last minute. And I basically wrote it, produced it.”

Don Dokken further described his experience in the following way;

“I felt guilty for bringing George back into the band for “Dysfunctional” & the money & the big record deal & I was just miserable & he was miserable, he made all of us miserable, it was just a very un-happy band”

In a separate interview on the Legendary Rock Interview website, Don Dokken further added the following;

I remember when we got back together in 95, we were in Japan and I thought we were older, wiser and could get on with our careers but the same old shit was happening, he was playing behind his amps and just screwing around and the band was just not playing good in general.

I asked George flat-out “What can I do to make you happy? What is the problem that you just can’t seem to get on board no matter how well things are going?” and I will never forget it, he just looked at me and pointed his hand up to our backdrop, this 30 foot backdrop that said “Dokken” and he said, “That’s the problem””.

This is the way George Lynch described the “Dysfunctional” reunion;

“There is a huge market for the band, mostly overseas, and since things collapsed over at Elektra, I needed to keep my options open if I still want to have my solo career. That was one of the things that brought me back into the band. It was kind of like, ‘You do this deal with Dokken for two records, and you can still go out and do solo records at the same time.’ In fact, I was told that I’d be in a better position to do solo stuff. John Kalodner [Columbia’s A&R chief] is passionate about Dokken, but he also told me that he wants us on Columbia. That aspect of the relationship makes me pretty happy.”

Dokken in 1995 was not an arena act.

Whether they wanted to be together or not, it didn’t matter to me as they delivered a great rock album worthy of being called a classic Dokken record.

Inside Looking Out

There was no escaping the influence of the Metallica self titled album, Soundgarden and “A Vulgar Display Of Power” from Pantera.

Those grooves became the norm. And when they got merged with the riff from Mr Scary, well that’s “Inside Looking Out” in a nutshell.

Hole In My Head

It sounds exotic, almost 70s like with a verse riff that Zakk would use for Ozzy.

Check out the lead breaks from Lynch.

The Maze

It’s like ELO merged with The Beatles.

Too High To Fly

It’s like a blues jam session and someone decided to press record.

Then when it starts to build from the 38 second mark, it’s desk breaking, head banging time.

And how good are the verses?

The bass and drums play, while Don sings and Lynch comes in when Don stops. Brilliant.

It reminds me of “Lost Behind A Wall” which then reminds me of “Turbo Lover”.

Nothing Left To Say

This is a great song. A hit. Better than acoustic songs like “More Than Words” or “To Be With You”.

The acoustic guitar solo is not long enough.

Shadows Of Life

What a riff and drum groove to start the song?

This is classic Dokken, but down tuned and heavy and how good are those backing vocals in the Chorus.

Long Way Home

It’s the Mr Scary riff again.

Check out the lead break from Lynch.

But my favorite section is that bridge section after the Chrous. It’s very Queensryche like.

And that head banging riff from 3.55. Tool would build a career on riffs like this.

Sweet Chains

It’s like the “Dream Warriors” intro merged with “Tangled In The Web”.

Lesser Of Two Evils

What’s this.

Lynch channeling EVH.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What Price

It’s hard to describe this one. So I skip it.

From The Beginning

A great cover from ELP.

After 56 minutes, I pressed play again.

Standard