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

2000 – Part 6

I still have quite a few more posts to do for 2000. I think I’m half way through it.

My musical likes were all over the place depending on my mood and what inspires me to pick up the guitar and play it.

Pantera – Reinventing The Steel

I didn’t hear this album when it came out. I moved away from Pantera after the hard-core vocals on “A Vulgar Display of Power”. Musically I liked it, lyrically I liked it, but the vocals I didn’t like. I knew eventually I would get back into listening to their catalogue because Dimebag is that good, that you need to listen to him. Plus he’s a mega Kiss fan, with Ace Frehley being an idol, along with Randy Rhoads.

Each song has some cool guitar moments, like “Hellbound” with its downtuned and flanged riff. Or “Revolution Is My Name” with its steroid infused blues rock riffs, like ZZ Top, down-tuned, and sped up.

What is my name?

Well, it’s revolution baby….

“Goddamn Electric” is like a Sabbath cut, musically, moving between so many different grooves and “I’ll Cast A Shadow” has an awesome intro riff and chromatic breakdown section full of brimstone and fire and moshing bodies.

Shadows Fall – Of One Blood

Musically, its heavy metal as I know it. To the reviewers and critics, they called the band copy cats of the Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal scene.

Vocally it’s a cross between death metal growls and abrasive Hetfield like vocals. The soaring and melodic clean tone vocals would come on later albums. Original vocalist Phil Labonte was out of the band because of musical differences and dreadlocked singer Brain Fair was in. And for those that don’t know, Labonte went on to form All That Remains and on occasions he filled in for Ivan Moody in Five Finger Death Punch.

Guitarist Jon Donais has been in Anthrax since 2013, appearing on “For All Kings”. Other guitarist Matt Bachand plays bass in various other bands like Hatebreed and Act of Defiance.

In relation to this album, better albums would come later.

RPWL – God Has Failed

They started off as a Pink Floyd cover band and then got a deal to make original music. For me, they took up the mantle that Pink Floyd was leaving behind with their lack of recorded output in the 1990’s and 2000’s. If you like “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” then you will like this.

“Hole In The Sky (Pt 1: Fly / Pt 2: Crawl To You)” opens the album. Its melancholic guitar arpeggios and Dave Gilmour like voice instantly hooks me in.

“Who Do You Think We Are” is the best cut for me. It’s the most accessible. It starts off with an emotive guitar solo, sounding more like a Beatles cut than a Pink Floyd cut with a Chorus that Oasis would be proud off. And that solo at the 3 minute mark, its Clapton like in the emotion stakes.

“In Your Dreams” sounds like “Sorrow” from Pink Floyd in the first part. This is the one that really got under peoples skins. And the chorus has a clear Genesis influence and it’s a nice mix of their influences in an accessible format. For someone to listen to this song and not be aware of the Pink Floyd and Genesis catalogue, this would sound original. And that is originality.

“Hole in The Sky (Pt 3: The Promise)” takes the riffs from the first two parts and adds an excellent one minute guitar solo. Set up a playlist and put both songs together, just to listen to how the song sounds complete.

This album got negative reviews because it lacked originality, but my view of originality is taking something that came before and using it to make something different.

When Kingdom Come appeared towards the late 80’s, they were marked as Led Zeppelin clones. I remember the critics blasting them, but the album sold. Because people want to listen to Led Zeppelin and Kingdom Come were doing songs that Led Zeppelin were no long doing.

RPWL was also doing things that Pink Floyd were no longer doing in 2000.

Joe Satriani – Engines Of Creation

He went industrial with this album.

Sampled drums and loops more or less kick off every song on the album. Satriani has enough goodwill in my book, that there will always be a bias towards his work. But there has to be a song that makes me want to pick up the guitar and learn it.

In this case, the ballad like “Until We Say Goodbye” is the song. Otherwise, the album is a miss.

Nickelback – The State

I think this album was released in 1999 in the Northern markets, and 2000 in the Australian market. It’s a forgotten album now when you look at the success which came after.

Two songs dominate this album.

“Breathe” is one of the best songs Nickelback has written. Just press play and listen to it. It has a riff which is recognisable, a drum pattern which is dominant and the vocal melodies from Chad Kroger are brilliant.

“Leader Of Men” is another great song as it rolls along with the acoustic in the intro and verses as it builds until the whole band comes in.

But there are some other cool sections within songs. “Diggin’ This” has a heavy groovy riff. “One Last Run” starts off with a double time metal like riff. “Hold Out Your Hand” also has a heavy dirge riff which I like.

Check out pre chart topping Nickelback.

Well that’s a wrap for another 2000 post. Off to 1985 for Part 6 we go.

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

2000 – Part 5

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip

Five years after “Ballbreaker” they return with the very underrated “Stiff Upper Lip”.

The title track starts off like blues band jamming at the local pub and then the romp and stomp kick in.

How good is “House Of Jazz”?

That riff groove is so sleazy and foot stomping.

And “Safe In New York City” has this E to G, E to A and E to B flat style chord progression that reminds me of the “Tommy Gunn” riff, but the song vibe is like “Let There Be Rock”.

“Satellite Blues” is an underrated gem in the AC/DC canon.

And its towards the back of the album that it gets bluesy and dirty with “Damned” and “Come And Get It” being excellent additions. Listen to those sharp 7 and flat 9 chords in the Pre Chorus.

“All Screwed Up” is 5 minutes of blues rock while “Give It Up” is a rewrite of “Highway To Hell” but it stands on its own.

Not as big as other albums in sales but it got em on the road again, which is the place that AC/DC rule.

Axel Rudi Pell – The Masquerade Ball

He was labelled a Malmsteen clone, but if anything, he’s more in the mould of German guitarists like Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth, along with Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker with a nod to the British rockers of the 70’s which involves, Paul Kossoff from Free, Jimmy Page from Led Zep, Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow and Mick Ralphs plus Jimi Hendrix who is from the US but went to the UK to make it.

Johnny Gioeli is on vocals as well.

And the album is not on Spotify Australia, but it’s on YouTube which pays less.

“Earls Of Black” and that intro lead break. Check it out.

“Voodoo Nights” sounds like “Big City Nights” from Scorpions. Plus Gioeli delivers a vocal performance.

“The Black Masquerade” at 10 minutes doesn’t get boring (especially the violins in the Chorus) while “Tear Down The Walls” reminds me of his other songs like “Warrior” and a melodic lead break after the Chorus.

Scorpions – Moment Of Glory

And this album is also not on Spotify Australia. It’s Scorpions with the Berliner Philharmoniker. It was meant to be Michael Kamen scoring it, but then left to pursue the Metallica project.

“Hurricane 2000” kicks it off, which is basically “Rock You Like A Hurricane” about a bitch being hungry and how Klaus is going to feed her inches and feed her well.

“Crossfire” really kicks in to overdrive when the “Crossfire” section starts. If your not ready to take up swords and go to war than you’re too uptight.

“Deadly Sting Suite” is also an instrumental merging the Scorpions songs, “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man” with “Dynamite”. And it’s done brilliantly.

And the concert ends with “Still Loving You”, “Big City Nights” and “Lady Starlight”. “Big City Nights” is pretty impressive.

The Berlin Philharmoniker really does a great job with it, and how good are the backing vocalists and the symphonic/choir vocalists.

Black Label Society – Stronger Than Death

The title alone makes me laugh and it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Killed By Death”.

Zakk Wylde wrote all the songs, played all the guitars, did all the vocals and also played the bass and piano. Plus he produced it as well. And mixed and mastered it.

“All For You” has basically a riff which the NuMetal movement “used to death”, but Zakk makes it sound “shiny metal fresh”.

“Phoney Smiles And Fake Hellos” is a favourite.

And he went back to the world of “Miracle Man” for the lyrical inspiration on “Counterfeit God” and when the verse riff kicks in, its down tuned and “heavier than death”.

“Just Killing Time” is those Zakk tunes on the piano and delivering a CCR like vocal.

“Stronger Than Death” is a slow dirge, full of grooves, but interchangeable with a few of the other tracks on this album and “Love Reign Down” closes the album, another groove riff laden cut

Mr Big – Get Over It

I heard this album many years after it came out. I was even surprised the band was still recording after “Bump Ahead” which was released in 1993. And I had to see who was still in the band, because I knew Paul Gilbert left to do Racer X again.

So Eric Martin still wails away and on this one, he is very bluesy, sort of like the Badlands second album. On guitars this time around is Richie Kotzen, with Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey rounding out the rhythm section.

Songwriter Marti Frederiksen is called in and while the bluesy tunes are nice to listen to, they start to become repetitive. Interchangeable in fact.

I suppose I was over it by then.

Dio – Magica

Ronnie James Dio had enough goodwill in my book to warrant eternal fandom. But I didn’t really get into his 90’s output after “Dehumanizer”.

But many years later in the 2000’s (and after Heaven And Hell released “The Devil You Know” album) I started to listen and “Magica” was first because I was always a sucker for a concept album.

The band is a good one for the release with Simon Wright on drums, Jimmy Bain on bass and Craig Goldy on guitars.

“Lord Of The Last Day” is classic Dio, merging his Sabbath time with the dirgy “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” groove.

“Fever Dreams” instantly became a favourite because its riff reminds me of “Dream Evil” and “Long Live Rock N Roll”.

“Challs” is one of the characters in the story and the song is a blues rock groove blended with melodic rock and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. Maybe because it also sounds like the songs from “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” album, like “Rainbow In The Dark” mixed with “Dream Evil”.

“As Long As It’s Not About Love” has this Hendrix “Little Wing” style intro and a haunting vocal line from Dio before it gets into the dirge like groove similar to “Sign Of The Southern Cross” from his Sabbath days.

“Losing My Insanity” is pirate metal and I like it.

“Otherworld” has this Middle Eastern riff, distorted and fuzzed. The riff makes me want to pick up the guitar to learn it. And Dio is telling his stories.

If you like Dio in the 80’s, then you will like this album. There is enough there to keep you interested.

Off to 1985, for Part 5.

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

2000 – Part 4

A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms

This album became a favourite of mine. It was metal, but different. It was hard rock, but different. It was progressive rock, but with shorter songs and based on moods and grooves. It was atmospheric rock, but different. It was like soundtrack music but it wasn’t.

This project is the brainchild of guitarist Billy Howerdel, who did his time as a guitar techie for countless musicians and tours. On down time, he wrote songs on his computer, which Tool vocalist Maynard heard and wanted to write lyrics to. And APC was born.

It was a 5 skulls out of 5 skulls review in the Hot Metal mag I used to buy, which at this time became known as “HM” as the term “Metal” was uncool to use.

“Judith” has a groove riff which gets the head banging. And that pre – chorus;

Fuck your God
Your Lord and your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, you never stray
Never taste of the fruit
You never thought to question why

“Orestes” is my favourite track on the album.

The vocal melody from Maynard is like a lead guitar and the drumming in the song, especially in the outro by Josh Freese is a testament in its own right. And when the lead from Billy Howerdel comes in, it’s like a vocal melody as well.

Gotta cut away, clear away
Snip away and sever this
Umbilical residue

“Renholder” has a “Diary Of A Madman” like intro which hooks me. Actually, the band used to merge “Diary Of A Madman” with “Love Song” from The Cure in live settings.

“Brena” which when sang is “Brenya” is another one of those atmospheric songs in the verses with a crashing chorus and a vocal line that sounds like a lead instrument. And again, those outros make you want to press repeat.

Godsmack – Awake

Their brand of Groove Metal, a band name from an Alice In Chains song and Sully Erna’s voice (being different to what I was used to) is what interested me.

While I gravitated to it, a lot of people didn’t. I remember reading reviews that said the band “puts out average boring metal” and I’m like, what the hell does that mean.

And this album is the in between sophomore slump. You know the one. The first album, it has your whole life’s worth of song writing ready for consideration, but on the second album, you only have a few months to come up with tunes. And artists write consistently, but sometimes, they need to go back and revisit tracks. Time makes them great.

Stand out tracks on this one are “Awake”, the closer “Journey/Spiral”, “Trippin” and “Greed”.

The next album, “Faceless” is the album that really put Godsmack on the map.

Papa Roach – Infest

“CUT MY LIFE INTO PIECES, THIS IS MY LAST RESORT!”.

The lyrics are from “The Last Resort”, which has a Bruce Dickinson/Gers riff from “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter” hooked me in to this band.

Other worthy tracks are “Broken Home” and “Between Angels And Insects”.

And it doesn’t matter which way you look at it, Papa Roach might have broken during the Nu-Metal phase but they are a hard rock band with some serious mileage on the board.

Twenty years’ worth of mileage.

Lifehouse – No Name Face

All of my hard rock friends ignored Lifehouse because they got labelled “post-grunge”. And I was like, what the hell does that mean.

They are just a rock band.

Anyway, Lifehouse just seems to hang around in my life. Maybe it is because my wife played the “No Name Face” album to death at home and in the car when it came out in 2000.

While “Hanging By A Moment” had the traction, it was album cuts like “Cling and Clatter”, “Quasimodo” and “Everything” that hooked me in. And if you do listen to any track, make sure its “Everything”. That last 90 seconds feels like a spiritual awakening, a perfect end for the melancholic beginning.

“No Name Face” is the winning season, the championship, for everything that came after.

Three Doors Down – A Better Life

“Kryptonite”, “Be Like That” and “Loser” got a lot of air play, but this album has some good album cuts, a bit heavier, like “Duck And Run” and “Better Life”. Especially, the lyrics in “Duck And Run”.

To this world I’m unimportant
Just because I have nothing to give
So you call this your free country
Tell me why it cost so much to live

There was always winners and losers but it was never amplified the way it is today, with social media. The endless “death scroll”, as people see the happiness that other people are supposably having. Covid-19 has changed it up a bit, as a lot of people would normally put up holiday shots at scenic places, but these are on hold for the next couple of years.

And I live in a free country as well, but man, I am budgeting my way through life, because to live is expensive. And that’s just to keep a roof over our heads.

All my work and endless measures
Never seem to get me very far
Walk a mile just to move an inch
Now even though I’m trying so damn hard

Ever tried to lose weight. You bust your ass dieting and working out, only to drop a few grams each week, but within a week of stopping, you have put on a kilo.

And when I’m putting plans in place to try and create a better life, there are times, when it feels like I’m operating with an unseen life anchor, which likes to keep me in the same place. It’s at this moment, I ask myself, do I give up or do I change tact or do I re-evaluate and re-calibrate.

And I won’t duck and run, cause
I’m not built that way

As John Cougar Mellencamp said, you need to stand for something or you would fall for everything. Stand for what you believe in and say your truth. People might disagree or people might agree or people might offer different advice. That’s all part of life.

Powderfinger – Odyssey Number 5

They played a brand of rock that music writers said “moved between Post Rock, Hard Rock, Folk Rock and Pop Rock”. And Australian audiences loved em. To me, they are simply a hard rock band.

Bernard Fanning is one hell of a vocalist, who had this voice that could rock as hard as Scott/Johnson from AC/DC, be all Robert Plant like when it needed to be and yet, he could produce the baritone vocals of Eddie Vedder, all tied in with his own unique tones.

“Waiting for the Sun” opens the album with a jangly minor chord and it’s all systems go.

“My Happiness” was the big single.

My happiness is slowly creeping back,
Now you’re at home.
If it ever starts sinking in
It must be when you pack up and go

Whatever your job might be, the worst is when you have to say goodbye to loved ones for a period of time. Going on a tour, going interstate or overseas or being deployed with the military.

“The Metre” starts off with just an acoustic guitar, a vocal and some strings. It was rejected as sounding too similar to their other stuff, but yeah, this is Powderfinger, so you would expect them to have songs similar in style. AC/DC built a 50 year career on it.

And I like the Beatles like chorus melody with the lyrics “Welcome to the saving grace / There’s a sunset on the road / reappearing as we go”.

Time moves forward, and we need to move forward with it.

Sunsets and Sunrises are part of life.

What we do with each one is up to us?

“Like a Dog” has a dig at the Australian Government of the time and their treatment of Indigenous Australians, with an AC/DC like Chorus and a sleazy bluesy single note riff to underpin it.

“Now we’re trying hard to reconcile a history of shame/ But he reinforced the barriers that keep it the same.”

“Up and Down and Back Again” is one of my favourite tracks.

If everybody knows just who you are
When your walk on role becomes a major part
Have you ever attempted to be yourself?
When everybody wants you to be someone else?

You see it a lot when it comes to art, especially art that starts to make money. Because once art starts making money, people who create nothing want a cut, so they enforce their expectation onto the artist. It even happens in the workplace, when it’s hard to be yourself or to express your views.

“My Kind Of Scene” has a rolling single note guitar line, a subdued drum beat, with a haunting vocal line from Fanning.

Tell me where I’m supposed to begin
an unhappy life working, some kind of dead end job

Is this the scene you want?

And Covid-19 has shown the world, that nothing is stable. So people are queuing up for unemployment benefits, while Governments foot the bill.

Which they should?

“These Days” has one of the most simplest and effective vocal intros ever.

This life, well, it’s slipping right through my hands
These days turned out nothing like I had planned

So it’s time to re-evaluate and re-calibrate. The destination is never a straight line from here to there. It’s got its bumps and roundabouts and back to starts.

See ya at 1985 for Part 4.

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

2000 – Part 3

Covering 1977, 1985 and 2000 releases at the same time, I’ve understood what the term lifer means. There is no safety net, no plan B. It’s music and music only.

In the 1977 reviews there was Michael Schenker and UFO. And here he is again in the 2000’s. In between he’s had it all, lost it all, started to regain it and then got ripped off by ex-partners and managers and family members.

But he’s still here.

UFO – Covenant

Michael Schenker returned, Schenker left, Schenker returned, Schenker left and Schenker returned again. This is UFO without the Chorus hooks from the past, but then again, I never saw UFO as a band who sat around to write big choruses. They just wrote songs for an album. On occasions, fans would make some of those songs big.

This album has a stellar band, in Phil Mogg on vocals, Pete Way on bass, Aynsley Dunbar on drums and Michael Schenker on guitar.

“Love Is Forever” kicks it off, written by Schenker and Phil Mogg. And immediately I am hooked, because the guitar playing of Schenker is in good form.

The second track, “Unraveled” is written by Pete Way and Mogg, but it’s how Schenker plays that riff, which captures me.

All of the other cuts are written by Schenker and Mogg. “Miss the Lights” has a finger plucked octave melodic riff and that section after the solo, it’s only for 20 seconds but its Schenker at his best, playing melodic palm muted arpeggios.

“Midnight Train” has a stomping E minor riff from Schenker and Mogg puts on his Bob Seger hat to deliver a vocal line which stands as one of my favourites.

“Fool’s Gold” shows Schenker’s classical and blues approach in a ballad sense. His chord voicings are classical in nature, but his solo is blues based.

“The Smell of Money” has more of Schenker’s unique playing style. “Cowboy Joe” is such a wrong title for an intro riff that sounds as heavy as “Unholy”. But the song moves between major and minor.

Michael Schenker was also busy as a solo artist. “Michael Schenker – Adventures Of The Imagination” is an instrumental album by Schenker and “Michael Schenker – The Odd Trio” is Michael Schenker playing all the instruments. He created pseudonyms for the bass and drums, known as Harry Cobham and Kathy Brown respectively.

I remember hearing em and moving on.

Poison – Crack A Smile And More
Poison – Power To The People

Poison is an interesting case.

On the backs of MTV and their blend of punk, pop, country and hard rock, they had platinum success for the first three albums.

Then CC left or was fired.

Richie Kotzen came in and the serious “Native Tongue” came out in a climate dominated by grunge artists. But this album wasn’t a glam rock album like the ones before. It was a blues rock album, a shining light in a cacophony of noise on the charts. It was different and the label wanted sales, like before, and the MKII version didn’t last long because Kotzen couldn’t keep his hands off a band members partner. Then again, true love is true love and they are still together.

Then I read that Blues Saraceno was hired for the guitar slot. And I was interested to hear what kind of Poison we will get with Saraceno, because he was doing guitar instructional articles in the various Guitar Mags and this guy knew his stuff, and his instructional articles covered so many different styles. But time went on and on and that album with Saraceno just kept getting delayed. We got a couple tracks on a Greatest Hits album, then CC came back in and they dropped two albums.

“Crack a Smile” began in 1994.

In between there was a motor vehicle accident involving Bret Michaels and a long recovery. Then Capitol Records had lost interest in a new album and wanted to cash in on a “Greatest Hits” album, which was released in 1996.

But the fans wanted it and bootleggers were selling it for a lot, so Capital Records, being astute to see dollars as a label does, released it with additional live tracks and “Face The Hangman” a demo from “Open Up And Say Ahh”.

“Be the One” at track 5 got me interested. It’s one of those bluesy power ballads that Poison do so well. “Sexual Thing” at track 7 is classic Poison, with some killer pedal point riffing from Saraceno. “Lay Your Body Down” is a carbon copy of “Something To Believe In”.

Track 10, “That’s the Way I Like It” sums up my feelings towards the song and Bret Michaels is in full form here, telling the world, that he likes it when a girl goes down on him. “Set It Free” is a bonus track and it’s better than the other tracks, while “Face The Hangman” the outtake from “Open And Say Ahh” is a classic rock track, a bluesy romp.

But I could hear why the label went cold to a new album.

But.

“Power to the People” sees the return of MK1, with five new studio cuts and 12 live tracks from their successful “Greatest Hits” reunion tour.

The title track might have sounds of the Nu Metal movement and some fast spoken verses but its typical Poison, led by a killer riff and a cool balls to the wall vocal line. Plus “the People” in this case is the Poison fan base.

“Can’t Bring Me Down” sounds like “Sweet Home Alabama” with a new sound. And after two songs, CC demonstrates why he works so well with Poison. His riffing is different, accessible and his leads with those little interlude leads between Choruses and Verses are melodic or bluesy in a simple way that it works.

“The Last Song” is probably one of their best songs and no one knows it. The intro lead break from CC is enough to get me interested. Meanwhile “Strange” has this octave melodic riff that CC plays which catches me.

“I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine (with C.C. DeVille on lead vocals) closes off the new studio tracks with probably one of the best “longest titles” that didn’t come from a Meatloaf album. And CC has this punk style voice that reminds me of Hanoi Rocks and their singer Michael Monroe.

And into the time machine for a stop in 1985.

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

2000 – Part 2

Motley Crue – New Tattoo

Three Crue members plus Randy Castillo, who was a very competent drummer in his own right, but he’s not Tommy Lee nor would he have had the same input and pull as Tommy Lee would have had on the Crue music.

Actually, Lee himself decided to not participate in the song writing for the “Saints of Los Angeles” album. Then again, if you just heard the two songs he dropped recently, maybe that’s a good thing. But as an artist, you need to have different outlets to explore different creative sides.

This version of Motley Crue and this album acts as a music bridge between the eras.

After the excellent self-titled Corabi led album, they brought Vince back and pushed the industrial sonics on “Generation Swine”. This didn’t sit well with a lot of their existing fans, and it didn’t gain them any new fans either. So Nikki Sixx, forever the marketing guru, knew that a return to hard rock would be on the cards.

Musically, it’s okay.

The AC/DC influenced “Hell On High Heels” and “Punched In The Teeth By Love” are typical Motley, while the title track “New Tattoo” carries on the spirit of the 94 Corabi album. “Fake” has a heavy F#m groove which I dig and the punky “Porno Star” has some of the funniest lyrics from Sixx, about his credit card being in debt due to visiting too many dot cum websites.

But the year 2000 isn’t 1980 and some of these lyrical themes just didn’t resonate.

Pretty Maids – Carpe Diem

“Seize The Day and living their life” is what the Pretty Maids (aka founding members Ronnie Atkins and Ken Hammer) did with this release and their brand of Euro Hard Rock.

“Violent Tribe” is on steroids while “Tortured Spirit” shows you can be heavy and melodic. “Poisoned Pleasures” and “Until It Dies” shows what a great songwriter and guitarist Ken Hammer is.

And track number 5, “Clay”, for a ballad which doesn’t get cheesy is a great track.

And the last three tracks, “They’re All Alike”, “Time Awaits For No One” and “Invisible Chains” makes you press repeat.

Cold – 13 Ways To Bleed On Stage

I picked this one up in a bargain bin, 3 for $20 and I was surprised by how good it was. But I didn’t get any of their other music afterwards.

Maybe because guitarist Terry Balsamo left to join Evanescence.

I just did some reading on this album and was surprised to read how people called it a low-budget album (which it wasn’t, as Geffen financed it and had people like Adam Kasper who was doing Foo Fighter albums involved).

Basically if you are a fan of modern hard rock and alternative rock, then you will like this album.

Racer X – Technical Difficulties

Racer X is a band which was needed, so that all of its members could get a start and then go out and take over the world with different bands. You can call it an origin band. An origin story.

Paul Gilbert is now more famous for his Mr Big gig and his solo records and his instructional videos, plus his amazing list of guest appearances and tribute album appearances.

Drummer Scott Travis got the Judas Priest gig for the “Painkiller” album, then went to Fight with Rob Halford and he returned to Judas Priest for the “Jugulator” album in 1997 and has remained there since.

Vocalist Jeff Martin ended up as the drummer for Badlands for the “Voodoo Highway” album and since then he has done stints with Dokken and The Michael Schenker Group. Plus he had an excellent Judas Priest like band called “Surgical Steel” which appeared in a very underrated movie called “Thunder Alley” before “Racer X”. It definitely is a long way to that invisible line which symbolises the top.

Bassist Juan Alderete went into The Scream with guitarist Bruce Bouillet and after Corabi fled the coop for Motley Crue, he started working with others and ended up in “The Mars Volta”.

This album came out in 1999, however I am pretty sure it got a release in Australia in 2000, so it’s in the 2000’s for me.

And it’s their best album by far with the stand out track being the title track and Paul Gilberts guitar prowess.

Check it out and you will know what I mean.

Yngwie Malmsteen – War To End All Wars

The cover is a Frank Frazetta painting so Molly Hatchett came to mind immediately.

When you get tracks with titles like “Molto Arpeggiosa” and “Instrumental Institution”, you know what you are gonna get. Malmsteen and the rockets in his fingertips, tap dancing on the fretboard.

And in “Bad Reputation”, Malmsteen gives his self-defence counter argument in the lyrics.

So if you like overdone guitar leads at the expense of other instruments and cheesy lyrics by Malmsteen, with a crap production, then you will like this album.

And I remember looking at the CD booklet at my cousin Mega’s place, with 20 or so photos of Malmsteen in various self-love poses, thinking, this must be a new record of artist shots for an album.

But…

There are some good songs here, which are lost in the mush that “The Fury” created.

I would really like to hear songs like “Crucify” and “Bad Reputation” with a better production and mix like he had on “Odyssey” and “Marching Out”.

David Coverdale – Into The Light

What can an artist do after being in the game of making music for 26 plus years with Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Coverdale/Page?

What can an artist do in a musical climate dominated by Nu-Metal and Alternative Rock, which proved to be very hostile to the artists who had success in the 80’s, courtesy of MTV and their music videos?

When in doubt, you go back to the beginning, and to the blues.

If you want to read a review I agree with, check out the fantastic blog 2loud2oldmusic by clicking here.

So into the time machine I go and set course for 1985.

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

2000 – V1

I’ve been doing these yearly revision posts on and off for the last four years. Basically when I’ve felt like it.

I started with 1980, as that was a pivotal year when it all began for me. And then I went forward and back at the same time. I did a post for 1981, and then a post for 1979. Then a post for 1982 and a post for 1978.

Currently I am up to 1985 and 1977 for those eras. They are in a various states of drafts and on hold for a little bit because I get excited about other posts and it felt like I was just writing about the same bands (like AC/DC, who had releases on both sides of the 80’s and 70’s).

So I wanted to start up another year and work my way forward on that one.

Plus other bloggers who I follow have also been summarizing various years from their own personal experiences.

So a few days ago, I had a vision and in my madness I decided to also kick off a 2000 series.

So there will be a 2000, 1985 and 1977 series running in parallel.

Then there will be a 2001, 1986 and 1976.

But when I started to write the 2000 post, the world has a funny way to show me, that I’m still writing about the same bands I was writing about in the 80’s with a few additions here and there.

So h is Part 1 of 2000.

Bon Jovi – Crush

“It’s My Life” was everywhere. The single got a lot of traction in Australia. It was on radio, on the music TV stations and the various CD single editions were selling out quickly.

The resurrection of Bon Jovi was complete after a pretty relaxed period between 1996 and 1999. Then again, Sambora and Jovi did release solo albums in between and toured, so maybe it wasn’t so relaxed.

Songsmith Max Martin got a co-write, however it’s hard to know what he actually did because Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora didn’t use him again. Also just ask Steven Tyler, how much song writing some of the outside writers did. Holly Knight got a writing credit for “Rag Doll”, and all she did was come up with the song title. Thanks Deke for that one.

And although I like the derivative sounding “It’s My Life”, my favourites (like most of the Bon Jovi albums) are more of the deeper cuts, like “Just Older”, “Two Story Town”, “Mystery Train”, the six plus minutes of “Next 100 Years”, the laidback feel of “She’s A Mystery” and probably the best live song they have written in “Old Wild Night”, which gets no love these days but it should.

Disturbed – The Sickness

There was a sticker on the CD, which had a quote from “Ozzy” calling Disturbed “the future of Heavy Metal”. I don’t know if Ozzy actually said that, but it was a cool bit of marketing, because I bit and handed over $20.

The thing that got me from the start, is the staccato vocals from David Draiman, which was so different from the 80’s type of singers I was used to plus it helped that the music was pretty cool as well. And I kept listening, became a fan, seen em live on two occasions and today, I hold David Draiman in some unique company of metal voices and Disturbed as one of my favourite acts.

And this album really put em on the map. In the U.S alone (and if you like to use the RIAA sales metric as a gauge for success) then 9 million is the number so far.

For me, the cross between groove metal and heavy metal and that thing people called Nu-Metal is excellent and it got me out of a rut.

“Voices” talks about some freaky shit, and that vocal delivery from Draiman was so unique it captured me. Then “The Game” starts off with the NIN style of electronics, and when the guitar riff comes in, its heavy metal all the way.

“Stupify” has this guitar riff that takes the style of Korn and guitarist Dan Donegan has this ability to make it sound like a metal riff.

And his ability to take influences from what was current like NIN, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Tool and put it into his metal influenced blender, that’s the magic brew of Disturbed. By the way check out the section from about 2.52 for a breakdown.

“Numb” is taking the moodiness of Tool and making it accessible in a 4 minute song. “Shout 2000” gives an old 80’s song a new lease of life and the title track “Down With The Sickness” is that song in the concert when the musician looks at the sea of faces jumping up and down and head banging, like an ocean swell about to hit the stage.

Fates Warning – Disconnected

I was always on the fence with Fates Warning. My cousin Mega loved em and he had all of their albums. But for me, I just taped the songs I liked from those albums and never really got into a whole album.

But this album changed all of that. As soon as the first ringing guitar notes started which to my ears mimicked a warning siren, I was hooked.

For me, it feels like a perfect blend of what was current, like Tool and Porcupine Tree and a nod to what Dream Theater was creating (they even have Kevin Moore guesting on keyboards) and it’s all surrounded by a hard rock progressive feel.

Also while the earlier albums showed guitarist Jim Matheos evolving with each release from raw NWOBHM, to Power Metal, to technical thrash metal, to Queensryche style rock to atmospheric progressive rock and on this one, he is digging deep into his well and bringing out everything he knows into well-structured songs and a cohesive album.

And the album is ignored by the masses.

But not by me.

“Disconnected, Pt 1” kicks it off with its ominous warning siren guitar bends. And the synth keys make it sound even more dystopian. Then again, if you look at the cover of the album, its people in gas masks under an orange sky. For me, it’s like our Australian summer, which had orange and red skies, and our air quality was crap, for a very long time.

“One” blasts out of the gates with its Porcupine Tree/Tool influenced riff.

“So” is groove heavy, with a hint of a Tool influence, but Jim Matheos makes it sound metal. When it quietens down in the verses, it just reminds me of the song “Black Sabbath”. The bridge section from about 4.30 also quietens down and then that Tool like groove from 5.50 hits you like a sledgehammer. “Pieces Of Me” is a derivative version of “One”, with small changes here and there to make it stand on its own.

And the two big bookends.

“Something For Nothing” and “Still Remains”. They are quality, as a melancholic and atmospheric groove leads the way. It’s progressive and it doesn’t have or need a thousand notes per second nor complex time signatures pieced together and added like fractions. On both songs, it’s a feel and a groove which lays the foundation and the songs keep building from there.

The album closes with “Disconnected, Pt 2”, with the guitar warning siren bends and some nice keys.

Iron Maiden – Brave New World

There was “The Ed Hunter Tour” of 1999, which announced the latest and upgraded hardware version of Iron Maiden from 5.0 to 6.0. And it’s been the same line up since.

And no one really knew how this 6.0 upgrade would go with new music. But they delivered.

Each song has a section which makes it connect.

From the opening Em chord of “The Wicker Man”, the song is full of the things that make Maiden great, like the repeating chorus line of “your time will come” and the singalong “woh-oh-oh” in the outro which is then followed by harmony guitars.

And I like the “Fear Of The Dark” section between 5.00 and 5.42 in “Ghost Of The Navigator” and the harmony solos in “Brave New World”.

“Blood Brothers” is a classic Maiden song, driven by an awesome bass riff, synth strings, harmony guitars (especially that harmony section from 3.29 to 3.57 and again from 4.22 to 6.20) and a vocal performance from Bruce Dickinson to rival his 80’s output. It feels like only a few singers could pull off repeating the same chorus line over and over again and make it sound unique. Dio comes to mind, Dee Snider as well and Bruce Dickinson.

“The Mercenary” has a head banging intro to rival the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro. And that Chorus, when Bruce starts to sing “Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run”. Brilliant. “Dream Of Mirrors” and that “Phantom Of The Opera” intro. But when it quietens down and it’s just the bass rumbling along, with the closed high hats and a clean tone guitar melodic lick. That’s when the hairs on the back of my neck rise up. And by the end of it, I’m also dreaming in black and white because Bruce repeats it so many times, you get hypnotized. Also listen to when Bruce sings woh – oh from the 7.20 minute mark.

“The Fallen Angel” with its “Wrathchild” style intro. Then that open string pull of lick in the Chorus. The intro in “The Nomad” which is also the Chorus riff and then that epic sounding exotic/barbarian/viking like lead from about the 4 minute mark. The intro to “Out Of The Silent Planet”.

Version 6.0 was off to the good start and the “Rock In Rio” DVD put any doubt to rest.

Everclear – Songs From An American Movie, Vol 1: Learning How To Smile

This is another album that got my attention.

The song “Wonderful” was all over the charts in Australia, and I suppose that “Star Wars” poster on the bedroom door lyric got me to bite. And the album is excellent. Again, it came at a perfect time to get me out of a rut, musically. It was different and removed from the 80’s and 70’s music I was so into. Then again, I was still overdosing on Maiden, but that’s another story.

“Here We Go Again” has these jazzy 7th style chords played in a pattern like “I Love Rock N Roll” in the verses, and it got me interested straight away. And there is a horn section which reminded me of “Tangled In The Web” from Lynch Mob. And that bridge section about sitting on a mattress in the corner and eating Chinese food. Its conversationlist and I like it.

“AM Radio” has a lot of great lyrics about the 70’s and listening to that AM Radio or just laying in bed with the radio on and listening to it all night long.

The VCR and the DVD
There wasn’t none of that crap back in 1970
We didn’t know about a World Wide Web
It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid

Even if you weren’t born then, you already get a picture in your head of some of the technology that wasn’t around.

Flashback, ’72
Another summer in the neighbourhood
Hangin’ out with nothing to do

Even in the 80’s, we had days like these with nothing to do. It changed in the 90’s when parents had an agenda of things their kids had to do or achieve or attend.

Cruisin’ with the windows rolled down
We’d listen to the radio station

Damn right.

I remember 1977
I started going to concerts and I saw the Led Zeppelin
I got a guitar on Christmas day
I dreamed that Jimmy Page would come from Santa Monica
and teach me to play

There is always a defining “aha” moment, which sets of the correct adrenaline kick.

I like pop, I like soul, I like rock, but I never liked disco

Not many who liked pop, soul and rock liked disco. Remember Bob Seger and his old time rock and roll to soothe the soul.

“Learning How To Smile” is my favorite track on the album.

Five miles outside of Vegas when we broke down
Threw my keys inside the window and we never looked back
Got all drunk and sloppy on a Greyhound bus
We passed out, all them losers they were laughing at us

Youthful enthusiasm, leave the past behind (the car) and move forward to something new. The oldsters would have organised a tow truck to retrieve the car and then spend money to fix it, because every possession was precious. Tell that to the throwaway generation, who upgrade their Tech yearly or bi-yearly.

We got lost in Phoenix, seemed like such a long time
Seven months of livin’ swimming on those thin white lines
Did some time for sellin’ acid to the wrong guy
Life just keeps on gettin’ smaller and we never ask why

Taking and selling drugs and doing what they could to get by, with no safety net.

Why there is no perfect place, yes I know this is true
I’m just learning how to smile
That’s not easy to do

Life is not all sunshine and a bed of roses. And the more older we get, the harder it is to smile sometimes, even though you want to smile.

We was broke outside of Philly when the storms came
I was working in New Jersey, hitchin’ rides in the rain
You was happy talkin’ dirty at that phone sex place
Life just keeps on gettin’ weirder for us every day

Tommy and Gina have nothing on Art and his girl.

We can leave it all behind like we do every time
Yes we both live for the day
When we can leave and just go runnin’ away

Escapism. I remember when I first got my car license. I felt a freedom, I’d never felt before.

Five miles outside of Vegas, five years down the line
We got married in the desert and the sunshine

Through all the ups and downs, I guess they learned how to smile.

And to close off the album, “Thrift Store Chair” has this acoustic 70’s feel, which reminds me of Bad Company and “Wonderful” kicks off with a simple drum groove, and then the piano which outlines the chords. And the song just keeps on building.

Well 2000 is officially kicked off. Now I’m going back in time to 1985. And then 1977. And then back to 2000, in ludicrous speed.

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Music, My Stories

New Tattoo Tour, Australia, 2000

The tour that wasn’t.

The Crue had no press in Australia at the time. It’s like they didn’t even exist. Acts like Limp Bizkit, Matchbox 20, Blink 182 and Pearl Jam ruled. The only 80s act that could still draw big crowds was Bon Jovi and “Its My Life” was a massive comeback song and it proved to be a stayer on the charts.

So it was a bizarre feeling when I saw this advertisement on September 7, 2000 for Motley Crue shows in two months time.

Small time windows like this; from when tickets go on sale, to when the shows are meant to be on, just don’t happen in Australia. There is at least, as a minimum 6 months to a year notice.

And Australia wasn’t getting a lot of live acts at this point in time, especially hard rock acts who weren’t selling a lot because our AUD dollar was low compared to the USD, so to bring the acts out and pay them their US fee, meant the prices here would be extraordinarily high.

Plus it was a risk for the promoter, because an acts draw was always based on record sales. And hard rock acts just weren’t selling like they used to.

Anyway who was I to argue.

The mighty Crue we’re coming to town.

Yeah it’s not the Crue that I knew growing up as Tommy Lee was missing and his replacement Randy Castillo was undergoing cancer treatment, so Samantha Maloney was behind the kit.

But it was still the Crue.

The bad boys (now mid 30s men) we’re coming to town and playing the same arenas like it was 1989.

But “New Tattoo” didn’t set any charts alight when it came out in Australia. It was no “Dr Feelgood”, so this tour would need to rely more on the hardcore audience to buy tickets for nostalgic purposes rather than any new fans because of the “Generation Swine” and “New Tattoo” albums.

So I purchased tickets for myself, my wife and a few friends, as the gig on November 23 fell on my birthday. I thought man, it they make it and they don’t kill each other before hand, as the airport incident between Tommy and Vince was still fresh in my mind, then it would be a great birthday present.

Then on October 27, almost a month after tickets went on sale, the Crue cancelled their Australian tour which for a band as big as Crue was, it was only going to be their second ever tour of Australia. There first one being the “Dr Feelgood” tour.

The press release said it was because of “personal circumstances beyond the bands control” but Sixx filled in the blanks later when he said it was due to low ticket sales.

No shit.

But I didn’t think they would cancel because of low tickets. Like come on, it was still the Crue. Surely they still had enough fans to sell out. I guess in 2000 they didn’t care enough.

Redemption came in December, 2005 when they came to town and sold out a bigger arena than they had scheduled to play in 2000.

5 years. Things change a lot.

It goes to show what a game changer Napster, file sharing and “The Dirt” book were for Motley Crue.

Having their music easily available around the world because of file sharing, increased their fan base exponentially, which led to ticket sales and “The Dirt” book sealed the deal.

It gave them a golden run of another 12 plus years and if COVID-19 doesn’t kill it, they have their comeback tour planned on the backs of “The Dirt” movie. Funny how “The Dirt” was pivotal in two comebacks.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Music Is A Long Road – A Trip Down Memory Lane with Fates Warning, Tom Petty and Dream Theater

For any artists these days, be it Bon Jovi or Metallica or Dream Theater or Motley Crue or Imagine Dragons or Shinedown or Machine Head or any new band starting off right now, they all need to understand one thing. We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. This generation wants to consume music. Their sense of community is all online. Anyone that says they don’t have a Spotify account is not living in the modern age. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

For any artist these days, their whole career is about relationships. If you want an audience to invest, you need to establish a relationship. You need to make the effort. The days of touring a city based on the record sales figures for that city are long gone. Ask Dream Theater or Iron Maiden how many albums they have sold in South America? Then ask them how many people came to their shows in those countries.

Mike Portnoy stated in the linear notes on the released bootleg recording of Dream Theater’s Santiago, Chile show from June 2005 that they didn’t know what to expect from South America due to the low number if records they had sole there. They even went to the show with a cut down stage set to save money. In the end, they played to their biggest headlining audience ever.

It’s all about roots. If an artist doesn’t have any, the audience is not interested. Experience moulds the artist, it influences them. Music is an end unto itself. When done right, the sound and the feel is enough. It doesn’t need the videos, the PR sell and all the pyro that comes with the rock n roll show.

Tom Petty sang that Love Is A Long Road. That is the aim of every artist. To foster the love of the audience into a sustainable career. To paraphrase Tom Petty, Music is A Long Road. The same way that a relationship with a partner has its ups and down, so does the relationship between artist and fan. The same effort that an artist puts into a loving relationship is basically the same effort they need to put in to their music career.

The music community has shifted to being a song centric community. We just dont know it yet. The album format that used to make the most money for the record labels is almost a dead format. However artists still go back and release a collection of songs as an album.

In order for the album format to work for you, you need to create an album that is playable throughout. You need to create an album that needs to be heard over and over again. You need to create an album that stands up years after its release.

Fates Warning released an unbelievable album called Disconnected in 2000. However talk to anyone these days and it is like the band never existed. It’s been years since I’ve heard Disconnected and to my amazement, it sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did 13 years ago. Jim Matheos is the pure definition of the progress is derivative statement. He has the ability to take good things from songs that came before and mould them into something great, unique and innovative.

In the Year 2000, progressive music was at opposite ends of the spectrum. You had the Dream Theater style of progressive music on one side and the Tool style of progressive music on the other side. In between you had a band like Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics. The mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands. The missing link was Fates Warning.

With Disconnected, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender.

Disconnected is a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish. It is a tragedy that this album is so overlooked these days. In the same way that each lick and melody from Images and Words by Dream Theater sticks in my head, Disconnected from Fates Warning does the same.

I am looking forward to hearing “Darkness In A Different Light” when it comes out on September 27. Nine years is a long time between albums. Nine years in the music business is an eternity. So much has changed. Love is a long road. Music is a long road.

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