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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Once In A Livetime

“Once in a LIVEtime” was released in 1998.

This would start a trend with Dream Theater that after each studio album, a live album would follow from the tour. Kevin Shirley was on hand to produce and record it. But Shirley was stressed as he only had two days to mix and fix it. In the book “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Shirley mentioned that on this live album there were a lot of fixes.

The show was recorded at the Bataclan Theater in Paris however the tour began September 1997 in Brazil. And before it even started, they had to get new management. Remember the manager who won the battle to remain manager, well he left. He wasn’t feeling it anymore. The management team that came in proved so much worse. The band was lost and needed direction. These new guys didn’t provide it, but they had no problem spending money. And when the band fired them the managers sued em.

Furthermore, Petrucci and Portnoy were at loggerheads. Portnoy still had a chip on his shoulder over Petrucci choosing to go with Shirley’s ideas and the disagreements they had over which manager would get the gig. During the tour, Portnoy even fired Petrucci’s guitar tech, which didn’t go down well with Petrucci.

Portnoy also announced to the band that he is quitting once the tour is finished. So in retrospect this live album could have been the last official release.

The album cover, one of two designed by Storm Thorgerson for the band, shows an overhead view of the ancient Roman theatre in Orange, France set into a head of a monk. Like “Falling into Infinity” it does not feature the band’s word mark due to Storm’s demand who sees logos as ugly.

This would also be the last album to feature Derek Sherinian on keyboards as his short tenure in the band would come to an end.

A Change of Seasons I: The Crimson Sunrise

So from a concert perspective, they split “A Change Of Seasons” into its separate parts and scattered them throughout the concert.

The acoustic intro gets the crowd singing along, ala Maiden like. Trust the Europeans (and the South Americans) to give a concert a football (soccer) like atmosphere. As soon as the band kicks in, its heavy and precise.

A Change of Seasons II: Innocence

They move into part 2 effortlessly. LaBrie is strained but does a great job. He’s a professional. Sometimes singers have 10 from 10 performances and some days they have 7 from 10. It’s still a good performance.

Puppies on Acid

Is basically “The Mirror” and a bit of “Lie” from the “Awake” album combined to serve as a segue into “Just Let Me Breathe”. Strange choice.

Just Let Me Breathe

From the “Falling To Infinity” album.

The song is great musically. I’m not a super fan of the vocal melodies, but I do like how they had the balls to try melodies like that.

Voices

One of my favourite tracks from the “Awake” album.

Press play to hear the intro, the way the Chorus crashes in musically and the excellent Petrucci solo. If anything, Petrucci’s playing live is even better than the studio recordings. He’s so precise, yet he still creates room for some improvisation. And that my friends is the meaning of a great musician.

LaBrie unfortunately is difficult to listen to, especially the high notes.

Take The Time

The first track from their biggest album so far, “Images and Words”.

Check out the funky first verses. You will feel like you are in the 70’s. It’s the beauty of the band, to be so diverse musically.

The ending contains the solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and the main riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”. This is the kind of improvisation I like.

Derek Sherinian Piano Solo

I hate individual solo spotlights without any backing music to it.

For the purists, the brief solo does contain portions of “Platt Opus” which would be released on the debut Platypus album, (a progressive rock supergroup to which Sherinian and John Myung were members of, and they released their first album a year after this album).

However Sherinian tries to make his solo spotlight tie in with “Lines In The Sand”.

Lines In The Sand

From the “Falling into Infinity” album.

This song works live and LaBrie doesn’t need to strain his voice here as this song is more in the lower registers.

Petrucci again delivers a killer a guitar solo. All the emotion he committed to tape is here, live. The bends, the vibrato and the fast legato lines. Even Labrie at the end, mentioned, “John Petrucci on guitar people”.

The solo segues into my favourite part of the song. A groove is established and LaBrie is in his Pete Gabriel element here. Petrucci decorates like Alex Lifeson on the guitar. Then at 9.36, Petrucci starts to build it up, taking parts of the intro, and adding a lot of grease and blues. Then his Lifeson decorating with power chords and ringing open strings is back. Portnoy gets busier and the band cranks into the main riff of the song.

Scarred

From the “Awake” album.

Ballsy move to play another epic track straight after an epic track, but then again, Dream Theater didn’t get to this stage, playing by the rules.

A Change of Seasons IV: The Darkest of Winters

And this is a perfect example of not playing by the rules. When they go into the instrumental section of “A Change Of Seasons”

Ytse Jam

And after 3 minutes of “The Darkest Of Winters”, they go into their instrumental masterpiece from “When Dream and Day Unite”, the “Majesty” spelt backwards “Ytse Jam”. And as soon as the intro riff kicks in, the crowd is chanting along with them.

This kind of set list is preaching to the converted.

Mike Portnoy Drum Solo

A 5 minute drum solo and the last 2 minutes is the ending of “Ytse Jam”.

But it’s a next for me.

Trial of Tears

From the “Falling into Infinity” album. The first two minutes has Petrucci playing “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”, with Portnoy channelling Neal Peart from Rush.

Hollow Years

From the “Falling Into Infinity” album.

The “Live At Budokan” version is the definitive version for me. The flamenco Al DiMeola like noodling at the start which is present on the “Budokan” version is here as well, just a bit more embryonic. And the solo sticks to script here, it doesn’t have the long shred solo from “Budokan”.

LaBrie doesn’t need to strain much here, and vocally he’s bringing it.

Take Away My Pain

From the “Falling into Infinity” album. I didn’t think it would end up in a set list as it’s not one of the stronger songs from the album.

Caught in a Web

From the “Awake” album. The tempo is sped up just a little bit and it works perfectly. You can feel the energy hit you from the speakers.

Lie

From the “Awake” album. Like “Caught In A Web” before it, the tempo is sped up a little bit and its perfect for the song. It sounds more energetic and powerful.

Peruvian Skies

From the “Falling into Infinity” album and the band definitely shows which songs influenced the song as they go into portions of “Have a Cigar” from Pink Floyd and “Enter Sandman” from Metallica. Press play to hear it.

John Petrucci Guitar Solo

An 8 minute guitar solo which contains a portion of a song that would become “Paradigm Shift” from a side project called “Liquid Tension Experiment”, which Portnoy and Petrucci would form after this period with future Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess and bassist Tony Levin.

The ending of the album begins with “Pull Me Under”, “Metropolis” and “Learning To Live”. My three favourite songs from “Images And Words”. And they finish it off how they started, with the final chapter of “A Change Of Seasons”.

For a live album, it is the least favourite live album in the “Dream Theater” catalogue. I don’t go back to it much, however as the title states, it’s a capture of a time, a period. So enjoy it for what it is, a band on the verge of breaking up but keeping it all together for their love of music.

And a DVD release came out as well. But that review is for another day.

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

Australian Method Series: The Living End

The Living End is Australia’s answer to Green Day, The Offspring and The Clash. But more technical and rockabilly.

The group formed in 1994 in Melbourne by Chris Cheney on guitar and lead vocals (also their main songwriter and a bonafide guitar hero), along with Scott Owen on double bass and backing vocals. In 1996 they were joined by Travis Demsey on drums.

Their self-titled debut album came out in 1998. The album reached No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart and remained in the top 50 for 63 weeks. In Australia, it is certified 4x Platinum.

And they had momentum coming into this album as they broke through to the mainstream with their EP, “Second Solution / Prisoner of Society”, released in 1997.

“Prisoner of Society”

A groovy “Peter Gunn” like riff kicks it off and then the fast punk starts from the 15 second mark.

Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do
Oh yes we’re on our own and there’s nothing you can do

It was a new anthem for a whole new generation of kids growing up in the 90s, in the same way songs like “Were Not Gonna Take It”, “Stand Up And Shout” and “Bang Your Head” became anthems for the early 80s generation.

Check out the guitar playing from the 2 minute mark which leads into a rockabilly solo.

“Growing Up (Falling Down)”

It’s a got a fast galloping riff.

Open up your eyes
And maybe then
You’ll realise the truth is in
The thoughts you hold
And not the obstacle in front of you

It’s the same advice that the billion dollar self development industry peddles out around “fear holding you back”. But this is 10 years before the industry started taking a hold on the best sellers charts.

“Second Solution”

I like the ska reggae start before it moves into a jazzy punk song.

Can that be a thing?

Well it is.

Make sure you check out the lead break.

Lyrically, you get the scene described as a dark street at night, a crime is committed and the police are after the criminal.

“West End Riot”

The Intro is excellent, it sounds like the soundtrack to a crime noir film.

The verses remind me of “Let There Be Rock”, just bass and drums, waiting for a vocal melody.

Make sure you check out the unique 12 bar blues swing rock jazz solo.

“Bloody Mary”

That “Peter Gunn Blues Brothers” vibe comes back again and I like it.

Make sure you check out the riff after the solo at the 2.20 mark. George Lynch and “It’s Not Love” would be proud.

“Monday”

It sounds like a alternative pop song, almost happy like for a serious subject about the Dunblane School shootings in which sixteen pupils and one teacher got killed and fifteen others injured by a lone gunman, who then turned the gun on himself.

“All Torn Down”

I used to cover this song circa 1999/2000. The Intro is metal like and I like the ska/reggae influenced verses and melodic rock Chorus.

Lyrically it deals with how our cities skylines are changing, as history is torn down for bigger and shinier buildings to be put up.

Save The Day

It’s a speed punk metal song with a rockabilly anthemic chorus. Volbeat gets a lot of press for these styles but The Living End did it years earlier.

Sleep On It

It’s a rock song in the verses (think “Kryptonite” but years before the Three Doors Down version) and punky in the chorus.

Check out the guitar lead.

And also check out the palm muted guitar riffs in the bridge.

Closing In

An instrumental. Technical and avant- grade. Almost progressive like jazz music but it’s still rock.

So if you need any more reasons to check out The Living End, guitarist Chris Cheney uses a beer bottle to play slide guitar live.

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Music

Richie Sambora

So Richie Sambora is coming to Australia as part of the Soundwave festival and of course, his backing band now has an Australian flavour in guitarist Orianthi. I saw Richie Sambora at Shellies (now known as The Shellharbour Club) back in June 1998. June 19 to be exact.

My future wife purchased the tickets as a surprise. It was a small venue and it wasn’t sold out. To see a living legend in such an intimate gig was breath taking to say the least and man can he put on a show. When he played the Bon Jovi songs, he didn’t play them note for note as on the albums. He jammed them. He was like the Sheriff, leading the band around into extended instrumental lead breaks.

At the time, I think you could say that the attendance was disappointing compared to the lofty attendances that Bon Jovi (the band) could draw. In addition, Jon Bon Jovi toured earlier and played two shows at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. However that did not stop Sambora and his band of merry gentlemen, putting on an awesome 2 hour show for the devoted.

I will be very interested to check out Richie on a sidewave show, as I have no desire nor interest in going to an outdoor festival. It’s funny how at the same time that all of the Soundwave announcements were happening I was also reading an interview that Richie Sambora did back in November 1991, for the “Hot Metal” magazine.

The interviewer is Stefan Chirazi and it was part of Sambora’s press campaign for his first solo album “Stranger In This Town”.

I’d always taken one look at a photo of Richie Sambora and imagined a guy who thought he was God. Don’t ask me why, maybe it was the hat, but something made me think that Richie wasn’t without the knowledge that he was a super guitarist, a super stud and a super, errum, star. The photo’s always showed a lonesome pout, a little-boy-not-really-that lost sort of thing and I fully expected any meeting I had with Richie Sambora to legitimise my preconceptions.

I was wrong. Richie Sambora is, as we used to say in Britain, an obvious good lad. He’s also, obviously, a rocker through and through. When he tells me, gesturing up and down his body, that “I’d look like this whether I was on Bon Jovi or not” I instantly believe him. I don’t think Richie Sambora could bullshit you if his life depended on it, and once he’s started talking, he’s there, moving through the conversation with you.

1991 was three years after “New Jersey” came out and five years after “Slippery When Wet.” The band Bon Jovi was on hiatus. Jon Bon Jovi had another hit with “Blaze Of Glory.” This was a crucial time for the artist known as Richie Sambora.

Richie Sambora is a good guy, for real. It’s so nice to know that the camera lied. We’re sitting together to discuss Richie. It must be fun for him:

After years of being the Bon Jovi guitar player’ Richie now has his own album out titled “Stranger In This Town” and is striking a major blow for himself.

Deservedly. Just about the only linkage with his BJ side are those desert gypsy notes and moods that are created throughout the album. Richie the spiritualist?

“Y’see, I don’t wanna go back to being a rock star,” he starts warmly.

“I don’t consider myself a rock or pop star, I consider myself a musician and I would like people to consider me an artist. I don’t know if they do yet, but my dream is to have people respect me as a total artist…”

Sambora’s solo albums were never written to try and sell a gazillion records. They were written to please him. The first album really had this blues rock vibe happening. The second album has got this Springsteen Americana vibe happening and the third album has bits and pieces from the whole history of music.

Sambora allows his life and his work to merge on many occasions throughout the album.

“I wrote this album out of basically my life experience. I’m not saying each thing is exactly what happened, but it’s a general kind of outlook on the way my life’s been going.”

We talk about the song “Rest In Peace”, which seems like the natural extension of “Dead or Alive”.

“When I wrote that song I was primarily reading a lot of philosophy and a lot of poetry because I wanted to become…”

I interrupt to ask who he was reading.

“Well, a lot of Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Browning and Maria Rilke, who’s German. I’m not much for reading big books and biographies because I just don’t have the time. For 20 minutes I can sit down and read some poetry or philosophy, and I am a personal philosopher of sorts -I think everybody is if they really look at it. I have my own philosophies on my life and my views. This song was what I’d try and say to my old girlfriends when I’d go on the road. I’d tell them our love will rest in peace, kind of a way to say I love you. “RIP” is really a feeling, a dream I had which leads to the “Church Of Desire” and I think I’ve lived there many times with different relationships.”

“I think a lot of people have, because you get into a position where your romance reaches a stalemate. You have an argument, you’re here and she’s there and no-one’s givin’ in!”

The press have always hounded you more about your personal life and celebrity status than your music, but really the album contains all the answers to your feelings doesn’t it?

“You can get to know Richie Sambora from this album. Basically I’ve always tried to keep, even through the whole Cher trip, my life private. I didn’t do any interviews for a year and a half while I was living with her and I told her I didn’t really appreciate her doing her laundry in public with Rob Camiletti. I didn’t really appreciate the way that relationship went down, and I was friends with her through the whole thing. To me people know me as the guitar player from Bon Jovi but they don’t know me, the real artist, and hopefully this album can change that.”

“At the time Blaze Of Glory hit and things started to go good, Jon said he didn’t really know if he wanted to go on with the band again … not saying he didn’t wanna do it ever again but he wasn’t sure. That kind of left me in a difficult position because I didn’t have a record contract and I didn’t have a contract with Bon Jovi. For years I dedicated myself to that band and for three and a half years record companies were comin’ to me with all this money to do my own record and I would say, ‘No, I’m with a band.’ There was no time, so why load myself up with more responsibility than I can handle?”

Even back in 1991, everything Bon Jovi related was done on Jon Bon Jovi’s timetable. Sambora’s departure from the “Because We Can” tour goes back to the overdose of Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter in December 2012. When that happened Jon was in a different country. God forbid that if something really bad happened he would have been too late. This was Richie’s wake up call.

“Then, at the end of our last tour, we had some disagreements about different things. I owned the record
company which is now Jamco and used to be The Underground – Jon and I and Doc McGhee owned it all together. And I didn’t wanna be part of that anymore because I was so tired and beat up from being out there so long. I wanted to make a solo record and be in Bon Jovi, so I felt like those two things would be quite enough to fill my life. And, on top of that, to have a personal life that was gonna be enough. I didn’t need to be a record company executive and take another artist’s life in my hands, because before I got into this band I’d been on the raw side of some record deals and hated it. And I wasn’t gonna tell an artist that I could make their record happen when I was trying to figure out whose f_kin’ underwear I had on.

Who am i?

“There are times you really don’t know what day it is, let alone what time it is. It’s not bullshit it’s true. So my disagreements with Jon came in that light, i said, ‘Man, look, the money ain’t worth the f_kin’ time I need to get my head together. I’m drinking too much, f_king around to much.’ I was just outta control, I was becoming the very
thing that you’re meant to be in that position anyway…”

A rock pig?

“Exactly, and I didn’t dig it.”

There you go. Even back in 1989/1990 the argument between Richie and Jon was over money. How much money does a person want or need?

One of my favorite guitarists Jake E Lee was selling off his gear to pay the rent during the nineties, while Jon Bon Jovi was getting sued by Skid Row for publishing rip offs and buying zillion dollar penthouses.

When did you realise you needed to bail out?

“There wasn’t any one point – what really made me think I could go out on my own was when I did “The Wind Cries Mary” thing. I was in South America in month 16 of the Bon Jovi tour and was starting to feel very creatively stifled, as well as depressed. There were many days between shows because we were doing the huge stadiums, so you’d have five days off at a time to sit in your hotel room. Paramount rang and said they were in a jam for the Andrew Dice Clay movie and could I help out by jamming on “Wind Cries Mary”, to which I immediately said yes.

Touring is a lonely gig. It is in isolation that our heroes turn to vices.

“I knew it’d creatively get the whole thing going, anything to get me going. I asked for every Hendrix video and CD to be sent, and I lived him for five days. Band Of Gypsies was one of the first records I ever bought in my life, that and Deep Purple’s Machine Head.

“Every morning before I went to school I’d be playing those albums, so that five days in South America it was like getting re-acquainted with Jimi. I wanted to exploit his wild side a little bit, and I wanted to get into his head. It was like studying for a test, because I was scared…”

Of what?

“The fact that it was a hard task to follow – I hadn’t sung lead vocals for 10 years. Also I was stuck in the narrow parameter of the Bon Jovi music, at that point I wasn’t sure if I could break out of it. I didn’t f_king know, and it was important for me to go and try that. But once I started playing the records and the videos it just came out. I didn’t plan it. It just happened and I knew I’d be able to do it.

“I was very insecure, y’know, with the mental fatigue and the frustration I was having within the frame of the touring schedule. Cher was very instrumental because when I came off the road she took care of me. I went to live with her and she was very cool. I always sing around the house, strum a guitar but I was so mentally f___ked up that I didn’t know if I could do a solo album.”

Is it painful for you to know how many people paint the picture of you as an aloof rock star?

“Yeah, well, I try when people meet me on the street not to let em know by just being me, I try really hard not to pay attention to the fame and unit numbers. I can’t even think about that – Bon Jovi’s sold 30 million records and I can’t even evaluate that or relate it to real terms. All I know is that I work as hard as I can, and at this stage of my career I’m still working this hard. The ethic I always upheld in my heart is still with me and that’s what keeps me together. I’m lucky enough to have good friends, my old buddies.”

He gestures to himself, pointing at his clothes.

“This is me, y’know, old jeans, T-shirt… This is me on the ground and relating to people.”

Richie Sambora’s finally getting to know himself better. He’s also a good guy. Talking with him was more fun than I ever thought it could be…

That is why Richie still matters today. He works hard. Back at the start of the nineties, his cycle from 1983 was album/tour. The tours originally lasted 10 months and then when Slippery broke the tours turned to 2 year tours. He worked his arse off.

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Music

The Night Flight Orchestra – Internal Affairs (2012)

2012 Album released that should not be forgotten.

Wow – what a classic rock album released in June 2012.

Internal Affairs

The Night Flight Orchestra (NFO) is a side project / super group of Bjorn Strid (Soilwork) on vocals, Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy) on bass, David Anderson (Meanstreak and Soilwork session player) on guitars, Jonas Kallsback (Meanstreak) on drums and Richard Larsson (Von Benzo) on drums.

Imagine Kiss, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Bee Gees, Boston, Deep Purple, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin and Journey thrown into a blender.  The result is The Night Flight Orchestra.

1. Siberian Queen kicks it off with its combination of Led Zep’s Immigrant Song and Achilles Last Stand.  This icy princess from the Russian wilderness, starts to do the opposite and warm the ear buds for more.

2. California Morning kicks off with a Boston meets Kiss guitar riff to tell the story about  tearful goodbyes on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

3. Glowing City Madness – This has an Elton John style vocal melody to tell the story of an Asian Dancer.

4. West Ruth Ave – Wow, what a catchy hook on this song.  This song is hit potential and it deserves to go viral so that everyone hears Bjorn’s story of fleeing Ft Lauderdale and ending up in Phoenix. It has that Gotye levels of catchy, a Kiss Dynasty / Foreigner / Bee Gees rock disco vibe and a Layla esque outro.

5. Transatlantic Blues – The first part is very Styx like and then it moves into a heavy Deep Purple meets Kiss War Machine style riff.  Even Jake E Lee referenced the same classic rock material for his Badlands project with Ray Gillan on vocals.

I read somewhere on the net that this song is about embarking on an inner journey and ending up in the middle of nowhere, shitfaced and listening to KANSAS.

6. Miami 5:02 – This is what happens when Van Halen meets Deep Purple.  Waking up in Florida in your birthday suit and a pair of Ray Bans.

7. Internal Affairs – Play That Funky Music White Boy meets Stevie Wonder Superstitious.  Nothing more should be said.  This funky ode is to a mysterious women from the age of the Cold War.

8. 1998 – is the 2012 version of Bob Seger’s classic 70’s recordings like Turn The Page and Night Moves crossed with the best of the Michael Stanley Band.  This song tells the story of travelling the endless highways of America.

9. Stella Ain’t no Dove – The threesome party anthem.

10. Montreal Midnight Supply – This is Deep Purple, 38 Special and Kiss Detroit Rock City stomping shuffle.  In the chorus it even sounds like Y&T’s Midnight In Tokyo.  Throughout the whole song you get that classic twin guitar feel of Thin Lizzy.

11. Green Hills of Glumslöv – Glumslöv is the small village in Sweden where Bjorn is from.  When you hear this song, you will get the instant sensation of the Warriors returning to Coney Island and Joe Walsh’s In The City playing in the background.  There is also a large Queen influence in this.

12. American High is the digital bonus track.

Overall its a great album.

What could have NFO done differently with this release?

Since they embraced the 70’s vibe in the music, in my view they should have embraced the 70’s vibe for marketing and released an 8 song album (Tracks 1 to 8) and then released ‘4 singles with a B side’.  Tracks 9 to 12 could have been the B sides.  Single material songs are West Ruth Ave, Internal Affairs, California Morning and Transatlantic Blues.

 

 

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