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

1996 – Part 1.4: Bush, Deep Purple and Bruce Dickinson

Without even realizing, it’s a special U.K edition.

Bush – Razorblade Suitcase

I got this album a few years after it came out on cassette tape, via a 3 for $10 bin, so it was a no brainer.

Gavin Rossdale got a lot of crap from journalists and critics.

Like he was too handsome to be considered grunge but then he’s labelled a Nirvana clone. And when the debut album sold in the multi-millions, the band was labelled as slick rock.

He got worse treatment in his homeland. As the U.K ignored them initially, Bush landed a U.S deal and became successful in the North American market first before their album was released in their home country.

He mentioned that Pixies are an influence, and the press called him a Kurt Cobain poseur as Cobain also said that the Pixies are a massive influence. So he said “fuck it”.

“Swallowed” is the lead single. My favorite on the album.

“Greedy Fly” is 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.

“Cold Contagious” 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.

And the band toured for 14 months to promote the album. In the process they moved 6 million copies of the album in the U.S alone.

But with every peak, there is a valley waiting below.

A fight with the label delayed “The Science Of Things” and when the album came out, their sound was suddenly seen as “old” by the press, in the same way that hard rock became old circa 1991/92.

Deep Purple – Purpendicular

It’s not on Spotify but YouTube has it. It’s ridiculous why some albums are missing from digital services.

“Purpendicular” is the fifteenth studio album. It is their first album with guitarist Steve Morse. His injection was seen a breath of fresh air.

“Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic”

The blues boogie is excellent and the Mixolydian lead break from Steve Morse is guitar hero worthy.

What a way to introduce yourself to the Purple fans.

“Loosen My Strings”

Arpeggios kick off the song, but its Roger Glover’s bass line that takes this song to a new level and then Morse starts to play a distorted chord riff which complements the bass riff.

The riff before the lead break is excellent, but make sure you check out the lead break and the outro lead break, which sounds like a Boston outro, ala “Don’t Look Back”.

“Soon Forgotten”

It’s a strange song, with a riff that sounds a little bit exotic and a bizarre staccato like vocal melody on top of it. The organ work on this track is stunning and you are reminded why Jon Lord is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

“Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”

The intro guitar from Morse is haunting and sad. He then plays this melodic lead in between the verses which is memorable.

The guitar solo is amazing.

It’s one of their best and should be known with their classic songs.

Did I mention that the guitar solo is amazing?

It is.

Do yourself a favour, check it out and start playing air guitar to it.

And did I mention there is an outro guitar solo as well?

There is. So check that one out as well. In other words, Steve Morse rules on this track.

“Cascades: I’m Not Your Lover”

The churchy organs of Jon Lord kick it off, while Steve Morse plays a bendy melodic lead, before it takes a left turn and a U-turn and becomes a hard rock song with a “Highway Star” like vibe.

The guitar/organ harmony solo from 2.15 to 3.15 is one of the great moments on this album as Lord/Morse go to town playing arpeggios, in a similar way that Lord and Blackmore did for “Burn”, just a lot faster.

“The Aviator”

Morse brings out the country and folk influences to create a major key “good vibes” medieval arrangement. Make sure you check out “Highland Wedding” from Steve Morse’s “High Tension Wires” from 1989 as Morse has been dabbling with these kind of melodies previously.

“A Castle Full of Rascals”

The beginning sounds like a cross between ELP and Led Zeppelin in the blues rock vein.

And the song changes at 1.58 mark with a bass groove, lush keys and a progressive like vocal melody. Morse at first is playing single note lines before crashing in with power chords and distorted single notes, paving the way for Jon Lord and his Hammond Organ solo.

“A Touch Away”

It’s got that feel good 70’s progressive vibe.

“Hey Cisco”

It sounds like “Hit The Road Jack” on steroids. Hell, it could have come from a Van Halen album. Make sure you stick around for the guitar and organ harmonies from about 4.08 and then Morse breaks loose with his fast alternate picked Mixolydian lines.

“Somebody Stole My Guitar”

What a riff to introduce the song. It grooves, its heavy and bluesy. I haven’t mentioned the swing and soul feel of Ian Paice yet, but man, this dude can play.

At the 2 minute mark, Morse starts this palm muted arpeggio riff, while Lord plays these Organ chords before Morse launches into the solo, while Lord plays the palm muted arpeggio riff on the Organ.

Brilliant.

“The Purpendicular Waltz”

It’s a blues shuffle built around a cool groove and a great closer to the album.

For all the debate about Blackmore and Morse, forget it.

Listen without prejudice.

Bruce Dickinson – Skunkworks

I didn’t like this album when I first heard it. And it stayed on the shelf for a long time before I pulled it out and re-listened. I still didn’t like it and back on the shelf it went. But over the last 8 years, the album has taken a life on its own.

I didn’t get it back then, but goddamn this album sounds progressive. The cover design from Storm Thorgerson (RIP) should have been an indication of its progressive intentions, but it escaped me.

It was meant to be a band album but the label wouldn’t release it under anything except Bruce Dickinson. Jack Endino a Seattle producer who worked on Nirvana’s “Bleach” is producing. The sound is like an amalgamation of 80’s Rush with alternative rock and metal.

And I’ve never heard of Alex Dickson again after this album but he does a stellar job on the guitar and as a co-writer on all the songs. But as Rod Smallwood said, “Bruce Dickinson is a heavy metal singer and that will never change”. His attempt to shake off the image of his Maiden past was futile.

“Back From The Edge” has double time drumming over a jangly chord progression, but it’s the bridge and solo section which gets me interested.

“Inertia” could have come from any Maiden album, past or future.

How good is the riff to kick off “Faith”?

At times I feel like I am listening to a Dream Theater cut from the “Falling Into Infinity” album with this song.

Make sure you check out the solo section.

“Dreamstate” in the verses sounds like a Nirvana cut. Yes, that’s right folks, Bruce is channeling Cobain.

How good is “I Will Not Accept The Truth”. Listen to the repeating arpeggios in the verses. Sinister and melodic in the same breadth.

The whole mood and groove in the interlude/solo section of “Strange Death In Paradise” while Dickinson sings the title is a must listen for any Dickinson fan.

In the end, unless you were interested in what Dickinson was up to, there was nothing really here to get you to commit. Then again, the 90’s was an interesting time for 80’s artists and the fans of those artists.

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

1996 – Part 1.3: Journey – Trial By Fire

Steve Perry was back with Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Steve Smith and Journey was rocking again after a 10 year gap, thanks to no small part to John Kalodner. Kevin Shirley is producing and this album is a return to form.

“Message Of Love” has a Chorus inspired by “Separate Ways”. As far as opening tracks go, it’s excellent, a great way to re-introduce the band in the 90’s and while other bands were removing guitar solos, no one told Neal Schon about it as he goes to town on this one and re-introduces the world to guitar solos.

“One More” has a groove that could have come from a Faith No More album. And what made Journey famous originally is how they could change styles within an album, as “When You Love A Woman” shows a their R&B Ballad roots.

“Forever In Blue” has this “Best Of Both Worlds” style riff to kick it off before a familiar Journey like Chorus kicks in.

“Castles Burning” has the guitar front and centre. A sleazy bluesy rock song with an arena rock like Chorus. It’s by far the heaviest track on the album.

“Still She Cries” has some wonderful guitar playing on it for a ballad and Perry as usual delivers a stellar vocal.

The second half of the album didn’t rock as hard as the first half, but each song has some cool Schon moments.

“When I Think Of You” is a ballad, and not a favourite, but Schon is playing some memorable melodic licks.

“Can’t Tame the Lion” is a great rock song with excellent guitar passages that remind me of Vito Bratta.

“Trial By Fire” feels like a jam over a Smith/Valory groove with Schon playing jazz like leads and chords.

A back/hip injury to Perry derailed the subsequent tour and by 1998, Perry was out of the group and Journey went into different versions before settling in with Arnel Pineda.

Then there was a fight over the Journey brand, as Ross Valory and Steve Smith tried to take control of the band name. While that was happening, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain also fell out as Cain found religion and didn’t want to play the Journey songs anymore as it went against his faith, which infuriated Schon.

But hey, money talks and they made up and Journey is rocking again.

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

1996 – Part 1.2: Metallica – Load

Five years is a long wait between albums, especially in the era controlled by record labels. Your career and audience could disappear within that time. The scene itself could change dramatically.

The self-titled multi-platinum “Black” album came out in 1991. After a two and a bit years global trek, the band released the “Live Shit: Binge & Purge” box set in November 1993.

And then they disappeared from the public eye.

We didn’t know it at the time, but in 1994, the band got into an argument with Elektra, which underwent massive personnel changes that year. And they felt that they were not getting the love and respect they deserved.

So in 1995, Metallica sued to get out of their contract but before it even went to court they sorted out their differences.

For the band to stay with the label, Elektra had to give the band a larger royalty on its music and they had to hand over the master tapes of all the records. The band basically didn’t want the label to control the masters and issue constant “Greatest Hits” or “Best Off” albums that rip off fans or to give the music to corporations for advertising. It was the best business move they did.

By June 1995, work on the album started. In September, they played a few live shows and premiered “2 x 4” and “Devils Dance”.

In January 1996, basic recording for the album was finished. When the album was sent for mixing, some of the tracks had different titles. “Ain’t My Bitch” was just “Bitch”. “Cure” was “Believe”. “The House Jack Built” was just “Jack”. “Mouldy” became “Hero Of The Day”.

And I remember reading a Guitar World issue in July, 1996 and the interviewer just heard a song called “F.O.B.D” and it was described as a “hypnotic, pop tinged” song. We all know this song as “Until It Sleeps”. And another song called “Dusty” which was described as a “ZZ Top on steroids groove”. This became “Poor Twisted Me”.

At this point in time, the self-titled album known as the “Black” album had done 9 million in U.S sales, plus many more millions worldwide.

Metallica didn’t really care about anything as they just moved the needle again to suit themselves and experimented in heavy blues rock territory this time around. And at 78 minutes and 59 seconds long, it was the longest Metallica album.

“Aint My Bitch” has got that “My Sharona” vibe from the outset but goddamn it, the riff is addictive. It’s got all the classic Metallica elements. A foot stomping groove, some fast alternate picking, a hooky chorus and a lot of blues rock, which reminds me of “Holier Than Thou” merged with a little bit of Motorhead.

And wait, what’s that, a slide guitar for the solo. Goddamn right it is.

“Out of my way” alright.

“2 x 4” has this Aerosmith swagger with a lot of Texan dirt. And what about the psychedelic vocal section when they sing, “friction, fusion”.

“I can’t hear ya talking to me”.

Make sure you stick around for the solo section. The song feels like it goes half time there and it then slowly rebuilds up musically, while the guitar solo also increases in intensity.

“The House That Jack Built” has an ominous sounding intro, as James starts singing, “open doors to walk inside”.

How groovy is that verse riff?

“Until It Sleeps” is what Metallica is all about, merging melody with aggression. If you don’t believe me, check out the menacing clean tone sections.

Then there is a vibrato like guitar that keeps ringing as the bass riff starts for “King Nothing”. The outro reminds me of the “Enter Sandman” outro like when the truck hits the kids bed in the video clip.

“Hero Of The Day” is the shortest song on the album, which has a lot of major key elements and a bit of a Southern Rock vibe, before it chugs along into blues rock and metal territory.

“Bleeding Me” percolates until it explodes. This kind of musical drama reminds me of the 70’s acts and how they would build a musical story.

And how good is that outro and Hammet’s solo.

“Cure” asks the question “if you believe”. I do believe in this blues metal boogie rock of Metallica as Hetfield talks and sings and rants his way through the song. Towards the end, Hetfield is converted as he screams, “I do believe”. It’s an underrated album cut.

“Poor Twisted Me” brings out that classic ZZ Top style of boogie. And it’s also got some Danzig/Misfits in the mix and a bit of Led Zeppelin’s “The Wanton Song”.

How good is the vocal melody on “Wasting My Hate”?

The acoustic intro doesn’t give any indication of the song that would explode afterwards.

After “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” it was just a matter of time before we got a simple strummed song. That honour goes to “Mama Said”.

And how good are those country licks in the Chorus?

“Thorn Within” has this AC/DC like descending riff which is already a tick in my book.

“Ronnie” is another classic ZZ Top song that ZZ Top didn’t write with its rumble and tumble boogie riff and Billy Gibbons style vocal.

Finally, we have the closer, “The Outlaw Torn”. This song quickly became a favourite for me. The syncopated drum, bass and guitar groove, keeps building until it explodes into the riff that would become the Chorus. It then settles down again, with just bass and drums while James Hetfield delivers one of his best vocal performances as the song moves between the verses and choruses.

And we don’t get to hear the full outro, as it had to be cut down due to no more space on the CD to include it. But if you purchased one of the singles from the album, the full version is put there as a B-side.

“Load” is a different Metallica but still a very strong Metallica.

Play it loud mutha. \::/

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

1996 – Part 1.1: Def Leppard – Slang

There was no way Def Leppard could 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 had to change or die.

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.

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

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” 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.

Campbell mentioned that Def Leppard is not about that. 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.

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”.

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

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

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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