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.

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The Record Vault: Bush – Razorblade Suitcase

Released in 1996, I got this on cassette originally, which I found in a 3 for $10 bin.

But I didn’t get it when it came out. It was a few years later and I got the CD recently at a record fair. Again it was in a 3 for $10 box.

Personal Holloway

Press play to hear the bass guitar riff.

Greedy Fly

It’s basically an artist writing a song, without a thought of it being a hit. And somehow it gets released as a single and it’s seen as a hit. I like the feel of the verses, the way the bass rumbles and those open string droning notes on the guitars builds up into the Chorus.

Swallowed

The lead single, and it followed a “Live (band) vibe”.

At 30.5 million Spotify streams it’s definitely the hit song from the album. But it pales compared to “Glycerine” at 151 million streams or “Machinehead” at 91.6 million streams.

Insect Kin

Press play to hear how the song starts with the snare groove and how it just keeps building. You get to hear Rossdale throw his throat out in the singing.

Cold Contagious

It has a cool drum groove, with the guitars decorating the song in a nice way, as Rossdale is singing, “you will get yours” with the volume and intensity increasing. And at six minutes long, it’s the anti-single, but it still got released as a single.

A Tendency To Start Fires

The verses hook me, but the Chorus loses me.

Mouth

It’s almost like the song “Black Sabbath”. Listen to it in its doom like feel.

“Nothing hurts like your mouth”

Truth right there. We might forget the words but we never forget the feeling.

Straight, No Chaser

They tried to re-write “Glycerine” but they didn’t get close.

History

I like the intro guitar riff on this. It just didn’t go on long enough.

Synapse

The Chorus is a favourite, very Bowie like.

Communicator

It’s “Mouth” part 2.

Bonedriven

Another cool guitar riff to start if off but overall the song doesn’t connect with me as I felt they really tried hard to recreate “Glycerine”.

Distant Voices

They should have ended the album with “Synapse” as the last three songs drag it down.

Like “Sixteen Stone”, it was the accessible singles of the album that got me interested in the album and then it was a matter of discovering some cool sections here and there.

They did an electronic remix album after this and they lost me with that cash grab. And I didn’t check out “The Science Of Things” until recently.

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The Record Vault: Def Leppard – Slang

Released in 1996.

Def Leppard couldn’t continue in the same vein of “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” without a reset. It became a heavy burden to carry on the style of those albums. They either had to change or die.

Truth

I was surprised when the opening musical notes of “Truth” started off, and the distorted “why don’t you tell me” vocal line. It was more in the vein of Brit Alternative Rock/Pop than Blues Heavy Rock.

Check out the exotic sounding lead break. And the demo version of the song sounds more natural and it’s my go to version as the mix is in the heavy rock category that I like.

Turn To Dust

I like the exotic middle eastern sounds on “Turn To Dust” before a groovy Rick Savage bass riff kicks in and the Chorus is classic Def Lep, with the layered vocals.

Slang

“Slang” always felt like an INXS song to me as it’s got that fun pop vibe.

All I Want Is Everything

How good is the repeating lick intro to “All I Want Is Everything”?

Then when the drums and bass come in, it’s got a perfect groove and Joe Elliot’s haunting vocal melody takes it to another level.

This track could have come from a Tom Petty album.

Work It Out

“Work It Out” is Vivian Campbell’s first songwriting contribution and it’s a high point on the album. The song reminds me of the sounds of British bands like Gun who had a brief moment in the spotlight between 1989 and 1995.

The chugging guitar sound was made by running Campbell’s guitar through a drum machine gate.

In the June, 1996, Guitar issue, Campbell said that when “he was in Dio, he wrote some of the music, but writing a song for Dio was basically writing a guitar riff and 32 bars of a guitar solo. That was his world, as Dio would then arrange the pieces as he saw fit.”

Then again legions of fans liked him for that Dio part.

Campbell also mentioned that Def Leppard is not about the long guitar solos. It’s about getting the song right for the record.

Campbell further said that;

“In the 80’s there was more than just doing what was appropriate for the song. There was the plus, you know, that I had to do a solo for a record but also had to advance my career as a guitarist in the eyes of all guitarists.”

Make sure you stick around for the interlude section. It starts off funky, there’s a repeating palm muted guitar lick with ambient noise and then a bone crunching riff.

That’s right people, no guitar solo, but still plenty of guitar melodic licks and riffs played throughout.

Breathe A Sigh

That small fingerpicked intro for “Breathe A Sigh” is excellent. This is Def Leppard going more rhythm and blues with their unmistakable layered harmony vocals in the Chorus.

In a June 1996, Guitar issue, interviewer Rich Maloof mentioned how the hip hop groove is reminiscent of TLC’s “Diggin’ On You”.

Deliver Me

How good is the arpeggio picked guitar riff and the vocal melody from the start in “Deliver Me”?

Gift Of Flesh

And that Chorus is heavy rock with the melodic layered vocals that I expect from Def Lep.

“Gift Of Flesh” has a slamming wah solo by Phil Collen done in one take.

Blood Runs Cold

“Blood Runs Cold” is another classic Def Lep track. The actual version and the “Rough Mix” version are both excellent.

Pearl Of Euphoria

How cool is the New Wave style of guitar on “Pearl Of Euphoria”?

And yes there had to be a song title with a word that ends in “ia”.

The June 1996 Guitar piece from Rich Maloof ends with these words;

As guitarists in a band that found success in a doomed era of rock, Collen and Campbell have adopted the Darwinian notion that survival is dependent on change. The new era is just as doomed, of course, but it speaks well for this pair that they knew to change and had the reserve of talent needed to grow.

As Collen concludes, “We’ve picked up a lot of experience on the way and we found a way to get it out of our system with an album we think is right. To us, that is the biggest thing. We weren’t even slightly worried, and we think anyone who likes us will like it. And hopefully we’ll get some new fans as well.”

Crank “Slang” and enjoy an excellent Def Leppard record.

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1996 – Part 4.7: Semisonic – Great Divide

Those 70’s Classic Rock vibes came back in full force in the mid 90’s, rebranded as Alternative Rock.

“Closing Time” in 1998 made them Superstars so I was curious to hear more.

Semisonic is an American rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1995.

The band has three members: Dan Wilson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), John Munson (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, guitar), and Jacob Slichter (drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals).

“Great Divide” is the debut album released on April 9, 1996 by MCA Records. The band had signed a record contract with Elektra Records to record the album. During recording, Bob Krasnow, the president of Elektra Records had quit, and in the changeover to a new president, the Neglektra dropped Semisonic. The band then signed with MCA Records, and finished recording the album.

F.N.T

The main riff is catchy.

If I Run

I like the groove on this and the way the vocal melody sounds.

Delicious

It reminds me of Everclear and that whole power pop and post-grunge scene.

Down In Flames

Very Pearl Jam like and bleak.

Temptation

Press play on this just for the bass groove and the way the guitars and keyboard play the riff.

The sort of falsetto like vocal melody is also different and catchy.

The Prize

Before Creed wrote “Higher” there was “The Prize”.

Brand New Baby

The best song on the album. Press play to hear the Chorus.

Hearing this album so many years after it’s release is a fun trip. A lot of people see this album as better than the second album. Then again, they are labeled as a “one hit wonder”.

Ignore all that and just press play.

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Australian Method Series and 1996 – Part 4.5: Powderfinger – Double Allergic

“Double Allergic” is their second album released in 1996.

It peaked at No. 4 on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified triple platinum by ARIA for shipment of 210,000 units by 2007.

Like all second albums it contained material that had been written for the debut album.

You know the saying. Artists have their whole lifetime to write their first and second album and only a few months to write their third.

They worked with an expensive producer on their first album but worked with a less well known producer for this.

From 1992 until their break-up in 2010, the line-up consisted of vocalist Bernard Fanning on vocals, guitarists Darren Middleton and Ian Haug, bass guitarist John Collins and drummer Jon Coghill.

“Pick You Up” was the first single and is by far the best pop song on the album.

“D.A.F.” is the the second single, and it’s title is the chord progression.

“Living Type” was the third single written about the Manson Family cult, and came with an X-Files style music video.

But if you want to press play on a song, then press play on “Oipic” and let the Led Zep exotic Sounds take you away.

By the way, this isn’t the album that got me interested. It was the next one “Internationalist” and the song “Passenger”. But that’s for another post.

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1996 – Part 4.4: Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill

Pantera was popular in Australia. Once they broke into our market, they stayed until they remained as a band.

“The Great Southern Trendkill” came out in May, 1996. It went to number 2 on our ARIA charts and it reached number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart.

It’s listed as their eighth album, however for the Phil Anselmo, Dimebag Darrell, Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul version of Pantera its album number 5 as their first album begins with “Power Metal” but it’s number four from their major label debut “Cowboys From Hell”. And that’s when the Pantera I know really started.

Terry Date and Vinnie Paul are producing, recording and mixing the album.

Coming in to the album, even a band like Pantera was on the outer. The marketing machines of the labels had put their dollars in Grunge and Industrial Metal acts like NIN and Ministry.

Internally, the Abbott brothers were not too impressed when Anselmo took time out to do the “Down” project and then do a 13 date tour with the group. And to top it off, Anselmo moved out of Texas and back home to New Orleans so his vocals were done on his own.

Anyway to the music.

The Great Southern Trendkill

It’s like Death Metal.

I like the riffs and the guitar solo, but the song doesn’t really resonate with me.

War Nerve

It’s very Black Sabbath like, doom sludge metal.

Drag the Waters

The main riff is bone crunching.

10’s

Iommi would be proud of this riff. Actually Zakk Wylde in Black Label Society would be proud of this riff. Vocally, Anselmo is strong here.

But press play on this to hear the acoustic arpeggio passages and Dimebag’s unbelievable solo over em.

13 Steps to Nowhere

It’s weird to explain this song. It’s experimental, a mixture of blues like grooves with a lot of distortion and Sabbath like doom breakdowns.

Suicide Note Pt. I

Synths and backwards effects and then the acoustic guitar kicks in. It’s almost Led Zeppelin like, with a bit of Southern Rock and I like it.

Suicide Note Pt. II

And then what happened. It’s death metal like, with blast beats and fast riffing, with some heavy metal like riffs chucked in here and there.

Living Through Me (Hells’ Wrath)

The riffs on this are “fists in the air, head banging” riffs.

Vocally I’m not a huge fan and halfway through it goes into a weird spoken interlude with weird industrial like effects.

Then a cathartic scream from Anselmo and the head banging riffs are back in.

Floods

The clean tone intro with the acoustic guitar under it, grabs my attention immediately. It’s almost Alice In Chains like, even though the band was critical of the Grunge movement.

Then again, Pantera songs like “Cemetery Gates” and “This Love” come to mind.

The whole “Die” section is heavy and demented but there is no denying the power of Dimebag and his bro Vinnie. These dudes nail every syncopated beat and lick down.

It’s been written extensively that the solo on this song is Dimebag’s best. And it is. If you need to press play on a track, then make this the one.

It’s composed of all these little guitar solo ideas he used for his live guitar spot, while Brown and Paul are simple in their foundations, letting Dimebag fill up the space with his leads.

The Underground in America

Musically, I like it. Vocally I hate it.

(Reprise) Sandblasted Skin

Dimebag brings the riffs again.

In the end it was certified Platinum in the U.S and it charted well in a lot of other countries.

And while the relationships were strained during the recording, things got even more estranged when Brown decided to leave the tour bus he was sharing with the Abbott brothers to share a tour bus with Anselmo. Brown described it as a way to feel comfortable, because Dimebag would be up early and start cranking the guitar, which upset Brown who wanted to sleep.

During the tour, Anselmo overdosed on heroin and was legally dead for four to five minutes. According to Anselmo, he started using heroin for relief of his chronic back pain. Mick Mars has a degenerative spine issue and never turned to heroin, but then again, he did turn to alcohol and lots of it.

For the record, I hate the hardcore death metal vocals that Anselmo resorted to. His clean tone voice is one of the best. He could move between James Hetfield and Tom Araya style vocals to Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson siren wails. It’s why I became a fan of the “Cowboys From Hell” album.

And I don’t know the exact specifics of what happened with Anselmo and the white power salute he gave at a gig he did about 5/6 years ago. Robb Flynn from Machine Head called him out on it. Which led to a lot of issues for Robb Flynn, receiving death threats and venue owners who supported Anselmo refused to book Machine Head.

One more album would come from Pantera and that would be the end. The air is thin at the top of the mountain, which means that you are not meant to hang around at the summit for long. Anselmo would put the band on hold because he wanted to deal with the back pain and then went on to record and tour with his side projects with the band officially finished in 2003.

Dimebag recently had a 17th Anniversary from when he was tragically shot dead at a gig on Dec 8, 2004. And it’s been three and bit years since Vinnie Paul died from heart disease.

While Anselmo wanted to reconnect, Vinnie Paul didn’t. And that’s how it ended.

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1996 – Part 4.3: In Flames – The Jester Race

In Flames was founded in 1990 by Jesper Stromblad as a side project from his then-current death metal band, Ceremonial Oath as he wanted to write more melodic songs.

Three years later, he quit Ceremonial Oath due to the overused “musical differences” reason and began focusing on In Flames.

By 1995, Stromblad grew tired of using session musicians to record an album or to do live shows, and the first version of the band was assembled.

“The Jester Race” released in February 1996, is the second studio album. The album is considered a classic album of the melodic death metal genre, along with At the Gates “Slaughter of the Soul” and Dark Tranquillity’s “The Gallery”, exhibiting the dual guitar leads, growled vocals and acoustic sections typical of the genre.

The band for the album is Anders Friden on vocals, Jesper Stromblad on Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Keyboards, Glenn Ljungstrom on Lead Guitar, Johan Larsson on bass and Bjorn Gelotte on Drums and Additional guitars. Yep, a drummer who also plays guitar, and this is a common thing in Sweden to have musicians who can play multiple instruments in a component manner as they promote the Arts sector in schools.

It’s produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (who also plays additional keyboards) along with the band members.

Moonshield

The Medieval sounding acoustic guitars to start the song sets the tone of a journey to come. After about a minute the distorted guitars crash in.

Musically speaking, it is similar in melody and structure to bands such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. However, the death metal influence lies within the vocals.

The Jester’s Dance

It’s an instrumental.

Full of different moods like “The Call Of Ktulu” and a bass groove that could have come from the fingers of Eddie Jackson from Queensryche.

There is even a section that reminds me of “Wasting Love”.

So if you want to press play on a song without vocals, press play on this or on the other instrumental “Wayfaerer”.

Artifacts of the Black Rain

I like the twin harmony melodic riffs on this.

Graveland

It’s fast very “Ride The Lightning” like.

Lord Hypnos

How good is the intro on this?

It’s some of the best metal music written in the 90’s, reminding me of 80’s Judas Priest and Queensryche.

And the subject matter this time around are Greek Gods.

Listen to the musical section between 1.33 and 2.43.

Dead Eternity

It’s very Iron Maiden like when it starts off, before it moves into a power metal like riff with blast beats. Something which Parkway Drive uses a lot of.

Its spoken word intro is haunting; about death, and how once you die you never have to worry about dying again, as you are stuck in a purgatory known as dead eternity.

The Jester Race

The intro is like a “Top 10 Hard Rock riff with a bullet” like. And throughout the song, its littered with melodic riffs and harmonies.

December Flower

Fast, angry with a lot of tremolo riffing and blast beats.

Check out the guitar leads between Verses and the guitar lead itself is “guitar hero” worthy.

Wayfaerer

An instrumental.

Very Judas Priest and Helloween like.

And then at the 1.50 mark, there is this Van Halen “Dance The Night Away” vibe with a bit of Joe Satriani “Crushing Day” and “Lords Of Karma” chucked in.

Dead God in Me

The closer.

It’s almost thrash metal like, with disturbing lyrics about a recollection of a molestation that took place.

The album took some criticisms from being too melodic in its riffs and harmonies from Melodeath purists, but that’s why I listened to it.

For me, that melodic element was the selling point.

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1996 – Part 4.2: Slayer – Undisputed Attitude

“Undisputed Attitude” is the seventh studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on May 28, 1996.

The album consists almost entirely of covers of punk rock and hardcore punk songs. It also includes two tracks written by guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 1984 and 1985 for a side project called Pap Smear and its closing track, “Gemini”, is the only original track.

The album was largely the brainchild of guitarist Kerry King, who stated that the songs chosen were from highly influential bands who “made Slayer what it is”.

The album was initially to feature material from classic heavy metal artists such as Judas Priest, UFO and Deep Purple. However, after several rehearsals “things didn’t pan out” according to King, so the band instead elected to cover punk songs. Then again, maybe Tom Araya’s rough bark just didn’t suit the Judas Priest, UFO and Deep Purple style of songs.

The band for this album is Tom Araya on Bass and Vocals, Kerry King on Guitars, Jeff Hanneman (RIP) on Guitars and Paul Bostaph on Drums. The way Araya sounds vocally on this is how James Hetfield would sound on “St Anger” in six to seven years’ time.

The album is produced by Dave Sardy with Rick Rubin listed as an Executive Producer, whatever an Exec Producer means.

“Disintegration/Free Money”

The original artist is Verbal Abuse and its 1.41 of fast and aggressive metal punk.

“Verbal Abuse/Leeches”

And its followed up by another Verbal Abuse cover, which clocks in at 1.58. While its fast and aggressive punk, there is a small breakdown section which slows things down a little.

“Abolish Government/Superficial Love”

A T.S.O.L. cover and it’s a full 1:48 in length.

Three songs in and it’s like listening to one song.

“Can’t Stand You”

Written by Jeff Hanneman and listed as a Pap Smear cover which clocks in at 1:27. And Tom Araya doesn’t take a breath as he spits out the verses.

“DDAMM (Drunk Drivers Against Mad Mothers)”

Another track written by Jeff Hanneman and listed as a Pap Smear cover which clocks in at the super long length of 1:01.

“Guilty of Being White”

A cover from Minor Threat and it clocks in at another super long time of 1:07.

When the album was released in 1996, there was no controversy over the song or any possible message of white supremacy.

But the internet and social networks are different beasts and people take a moral high ground.

The other controversy was changing the lyrics in the songs ending from “guilty of being white” to “guilty of being right”.

This little changed didn’t go down well with Minor Threat front man Ian MacKaye, who found this change “offensive”.

“I Hate You”

Verbal Abuse makes another appearance on this album with a song that goes into the 2 minute range. This one is more punk like, with a rock tempo and Sex Pistols “Anarchy” style attitude.

“Filler/I Don’t Want to Hear It”

And Minor Threat makes another appearance with a super-fast punk hardcore song.

“Spiritual Law”

A cover from D.I. and its pushing at being the longest song on the album at 3 minutes long. Press play to hear the intro which is very Metal like, otherwise the rest is stock standard fast beats, vocals that cover the microphone in spit and fast alternate picked punk metal riffs.

But at 1.20 a Sabbath like doom groove comes in, before it picks back up into the fast punk metal at the 2.10 mark.

“Mr. Freeze”

A cover from Dr Know. Its 2.24 in length and at times when the song goes into its rock riffs I feel like I am listening to Beatsie Boys, “Fight For Your Rights”.

“Violent Pacification”

A cover from D.R.I. at 2:38 in length.

All I can say about this song is chaos until the 46 second mark, when the drums start a rock style groove and the tempo of the song goes down a notch for the band to rock out. And Tom Araya is barking out “Violent Pacification” over and over and over again.

“Richard Hung Himself”

A cover from D.I. and this song takes the title for the longest song of the cover songs at 3:22.

And for a song with a grisly title it’s actually a catchy rock song.

“I’m Gonna Be Your God” (“I Wanna Be Your Dog”)

A song from The Stooges, clocking in over the 3 minute mark and it received a makeover and some slightly modified lyrics and a faster tempo.

It’s by far my favorite cover and it leads in perfectly to the original track.

“Gemini”

Written by Kerry King and Tom Araya, and it is the longest song on the album at 4.53.

The song begins as a sludge/doom number reminding me of “Season In The Abyss”, before becoming a more typical Slayer song.

But being added to the end, doesn’t do this song proper justice. It’s one of their best tracks written in the 90’s.

And Tom Araya is evil reincarnated with his melodic but sinister vocal melody.

In the end, this is a 33-minute-long release and Slayer wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not a classic album but the song “Gemini” makes up for it.

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

1996 – Part 4.1: Black Crowes – Three Snakes And One Charm

The problems began with a project tentatively titled “Tall”. This project was being produced by Chris Robinson, which his brother Rich objected to. And as brothers do, they got into a huge fight.

The reason for the fight was that Chris wanted to strip back the sound of the Black Crowes. More horns and percussion and less guitars. But his bro, Rich is the guitarist.

In the end, Rich won the argument and the result of this project are the re-recorded songs that Rich Robinson predominantly wrote, which made up the “Amorica” album. This pissed Chris off as his songs were ignored.

So it’s no surprise that during the “Amorica or Bust” Tour of 1995, the relationships within The Black Crowes soured even further, and the Robinson brothers basically hated each other.

But they made it through somehow.

And the band began planning their fourth album in 1995. “Three Snakes and One Charm” was eventually released in July 1996. Recorded in a house that they shared together, the album captures a relaxed band, ready to plug in and jam with friends.

The Black Crowes for this album are Chris Robinson on Vocals, Rich Robinson on Guitar, Marc Ford on Guitar, Johnny Colt on Bass, Steve Gorman on Drums and Eddie Harsch on Keyboards.

The Dirty Dozen horn group appears, along with banjo players, pedal steel players and various backing vocalists. Basically some of the stuff that Chris Robinson wanted to implement earlier was being brought in.

Under A Mountain

I like the exotic Zep vibe on this.

Good Friday

I disliked this song when I first heard it and when I covered The Black Crowes in The Record Vault post a while ago, I ignored it, but goddamn, time passes, moods change and suddenly the Country Soul Rock vibe of the song is hooking me in.

Nebekanezer

If the title doesn’t capture me, I’ve already formed a bias against the song. And while the song has a sludgy Blues groove with a little bit of a Beatles influence in the vocals, there isn’t enough meat to satisfy.

One Mirror Too Many

The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones and the psychedelic 60’s and 70’s are re-incarnated into this song.

Blackberry

Soul Rock was big around this time in Australia because of the movie “The Commitments” which came out in 1991.

Girl From A Pawnshop

It was my favourite track when I first heard the album and it still is today.

The whole country ballad rock vibe just connected with me and the vocal delivery from Chris Robinson is excellent.

Only Halfway To Everywhere

With the horns, guest vocalists and Chris Robinson bordering between BB King and Steven Tyler vocally, this song feels like a group of musos getting together and having a jam session, with a lot of booze flowing.

Bring On, Bring On

Like other songs on this album, it’s the Led Zep acoustic influence which shines through on this track that hooks me in.

How Much For Your Wings?

The reddest of lights shine on you, young man, let God be with you..

And the acoustic guitars start and there is something about the vocals when Chris Robinson sings, “how much for your wings?” that captures me.

Let Me Share The Ride

A blues groove, but the horns give it that soul rhythm and blues feel.

Better When You’re Not Alone

More acoustic guitars and then the band kicks in. And I feel like I’m driving on the open road out of my town, hopeful and excited.

Evil Eye

It’s too psychedelic for me.

And they went on tour for this album, which took em towards the end of 1997. After this, the band got together and recorded another album with the working title of “Band”.

Which was also scrapped.

Guitarist Marc Ford was fired and bassist Johnny Colt subsequently left the group, dissolving the Crowes’ line-up of the previous three albums.

The unreleased tracks from the “Tall” and “Band” sessions surfaced among tape trading circles and were later officially released on the 2006 compilation “The Lost Crowes”.

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

Australian Method Series and 1996 Part 3.7: John Farnham – Romeos Heart

“Romeo’s Heart” was released in Australia on 3 June 1996 by John Farnham.

His comeback to mainstream success started with “Whispering Jack” released in 1986. It is certified 24x Platinum in Australia, Platinum in Sweden and Gold in Canada and Germany.

“Age Of Reason” came in 1988 and it is certified 11x Platinum in Australia.

“Chain Reaction” in 1990 is 7x Platinum in Australia.

“Then Again…” in 1993 is 4x Platinum in Australia.

This album is also 4x Platinum in Australia.

The band is top notch as well with Brett Garsed from Nelson fame on guitars along with Stuart Fraser from Noiseworks.

Joe Creighton from The Black Sorrows is on Bass and Angus Burchall also from The Black Sorrows is on drums with Steve Williams on harmonica.

Vocals are provided by John Farnham with Lindsay Field and Lisa Edwards providing excellent backing vocals.

And from when Farnham made his comeback in the mid 80s as a solo artist, the songs he performed on his albums were written by other artists/songwriters.

This album is no different, with every song on it coming from outside writers.

Have a Little Faith (In Us)

Written by Russ DeSalvo (who at the time was writing and working with Celine Dion) and Arnie Roman (who also was working with Celine Dion).

Great song title and a major key chord progression to give its uplifting vibe.

But press play for the gospel like backing vocals in the outro which

Little Piece of My Heart

Written by C. Celli, A. Levin and Jack Ponti.

The same Jack Ponti who co-write “Shot Through The Heart” with Jon Bon Jovi and a heap of songs for Baton Rouge, Alice Cooper and Babylon A.D.

I’m not sure on why they would use this song title for a totally different song. It’s like reusing “Smoke On The Water” for a totally different song and not for a cover.

But in the end a simple funky rock groove is heard throughout the song and it’s cool to jam to.

A Simple Life

Written by Jon Lind and Richard Page. The same Richard Page from Mr Mister and Jon Lind had written or co-written songs like “Crazy For You” for Madonna and songs for Earth, Wind And Fire.

This one is a soft rock song.

Check out the vocal melody for the Chorus.

All Kinds Of People

Written by Eric Pressley, Sheryl Crow and Kevin Gilbert.

Yep the same Sheryl Crow and her songwriting partner Kevin Gilbert from her debut album were in demand and writing songs for other artists as well.

It’s in that soul contemporary pop rock vibe which was prominent in the 90s.

Romeo’s Heart

Written by Jennifer Kimball and Randy VanWarmer it appeared on Randy’s solo album “The Third Child” released in 1994.

And here it is a few years later as the title track. It has a soft rock Springsteen vibe.


Don’t Let It End

Written by Aaron Hendra an Australian-born songwriter, singer and guitarist who lives in the U.S.

It reminds of “Time Of My Life” from the “Dirty Dancing” movie.

Hearts On Fire

Written by Tom Kimmel and S. Lynch. I was wondering which S Lynch is a co-writer.

Could it be the Steve Lynch from Autograph?

Nope it’s Stan Lynch, the ex drummer from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers who became a successful producer and songwriter.

On a side note, “That’s Freedom” was also written by Kimmel which Farnham recorded and it became a Top 10 hit for him in late 1990. So it’s no surprise that Farnham used him again.

The “Rocky IV” track comes to mind but it’s not it. The song is more blues soul rock.

Hard Promises To Keep

Written by Kimmie Rhodes ‎and the song appeared on her “West Texas Heaven” album released in 1994 and it’s in the vein of country ballads musically, but the vocal melodies are more in line with pop melodies.

Over My Head

Written by Ricard Pleasance and A. Tanner.

Richard Pleasance is an Australian rock musician and producer. He was a founding member of Australian band “Boom Crash Opera”.

It’s a ballad and it’s chord progressions is more like country rock ballads, reminding me of current songs like “Home” from Daughtry.

May You Never

Written by John Martyn it’s an up beat acoustic track that is played in the way Nuno Bettencourt plays on “More Than Words”.

John Martyn, is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist who released 23 studio albums over a 40-year career. He’s been described as blurring the boundaries between folk, jazz, rock and blues”.

Second Skin

Written by John Farnham, producer Ross Fraser and Chong Lim.

Finally Farnham gets a co-write in a track that is a cross between “Superstition” and “Play That Funky Music”.

If you want to hear John Farnham in a rock way, then “Whispering Jack” and “Age Of Reason” would suffice. If you want to hear Farnham in a soul and country rock way, then this album would donyje

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