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.

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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.

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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.

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