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

Number 13 – Metallica Monday

Filmed at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia on March 1, 2013 on the Soundwave Tour (which is basically a travelling festival around Australia during the summer, but it doesn’t exist anymore due to increased demands from artists to be paid upfront as the promoter didn’t always pay, a dwindling turnout and a promoter that uses Twitter like Trump).

The thing with this show is that Metallica are not really touring on an album as “Death Magnetic” is 5 years old by now. So it’s like a best off. And after watching this show, it’s a best off, based on songs which work really well in the live arena.

Hit the Lights

It’s become their standard opener in the YouTube live recordings I’ve seen. It’s simplicity is its energy.

Master of Puppets

There is no denying the power of that intro riff.

And the tempo of the song is increased a few more beats per minute. To put it into context, a 7 plus minute song at its normal tempo is reduced to a 6 plus minute song because of the tempo increase.

And as is the norm, the crowd singalong in the slow harmony lead is Maiden-esque from “Rock In Rio”.

The Four Horsemen

As the feedback from “Master Of Puppets” keeps ringing out on James’s guitar, and after asking “if Melbourne is ready” (we pronounce it Mel-Burn while James pronounces it as its spelt, Mel-Bourne), James launches into the opening riff.

And I forgot to mention how Lars is the master of the facials.

And finally there is a pause after the triple knockout of the first three songs.

Harvester of Sorrow

Lars cops a lot of crap for his drumming, but the dude can play and his drum parts are uniquely his.

This song is heavy, and the drum patterns from Lars definitely add to it. Simplicity at its finest.

And I’ve always said that if this song wasn’t written, then “Enter Sandman” wouldn’t have been written to become the beast it became.

The slower tempo, the open string arpeggio riff which grooves and the intro drumming pattern all combine to become the embryo of what “Enter Sandman” is. Check out the version on YouTube from Moscow on the Black tour.

Then there is a two minute “Guitar Doodle” where Kirk plays a few riffs and a lead guitar spotlight, but to me these kind of things are best left in the warm up room.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

But the “Guitar Doodle” was a side piece, a sleight of hand, while they set up James with the acoustic guitar for “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.

And Lars owns the ending with the harmony guitars as he nails the double bass drumming.

Leper Messiah

There is a section in this song during the intro, when the bass just plays and the guitars play a heavily palm muted E5 power chord, staccato like.

And the title came from the late Mr Cliff Burton (RIP).

To reiterate, I’ve always said to all of the people who dissed the “Black” album for “selling out” to refer to songs like “Leper Messiah”, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Harvester of Sorrow”, “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Trapped Under Ice”. They are all slower tempo songs, like the “Black” album songs.

My Friend of Misery

One of my favourite tracks on the “Black” album. My actual favourite is “Holier Than Thou”.

The bass riff is “iconic” and that slow breakdown section with that emotive lead is my favourite part of the song. It’s the norm now for the crowd to sing the harmony part but Melbourne (pronounced Mel-Burn) was the first to do it.

I gotta admit, this is the shit for an artist.

Hearing the Metallica family sing back their riffs and leads, is moving and emotional. If you don’t feel it, check for a pulse.

Sad But True

Its heavy and you can tell the band enjoys playing it.

Then a little “Bass Doodle” is another sleight of hand as the band gets ready for “Fade To Black”.

Fade to Black

For a song that generated so much controversy in the 80’s during that whole “kid commits suicide so let’s sue the heavy metal artist the kid likes” period, it’s become one of their biggest songs ever.

And that whole outro section is some of my favourite piece of music.

All Nightmare Long

I haven’t heard this song for almost a decade, and man, I’m asking myself “why”. It’s a good song. So many riffs in it and that Chorus is excellent.

Then I played “Death Magnetic” and I remembered why I stopped listening to it.

“The Loudness Wars”.

This is when bands compressed their mixes so much to get maximum volume in the master.

Ouch

One

I don’t think there will be a set list that will not have this song on it.

The clean tone intro with the leads, the “landmine” double kick section and that finger tapped outro along with the harmony guitars.

How can you not like it?

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The intro in this song is head banging stuff. A perfect song for the live arena and they played it a bit quicker.

Blackened

The backing tape of the backwards harmony guitars starts it off and it’s one of my favourite Metallica cuts and man, don’t they bring it.

It’s 7/4 staccato intro riff is thrash metal prog. Even in the Chorus it moves between 4/4 and 2/4. It leaves all other pretenders behind as it begins whipping the dance of the dead.

Then there is another “Guitar Doodle” which then sets up, “Nothing Else Matters”.

Nothing Else Matters

Even though Kirk plays the intro live, this is James’s song. It’s his spotlight moment and he takes the Dave Gilmour like lead with a guitar hero gusto.

And I remember when the “Black” album came out, I was reading some of the comments about this song from artists of the thrash genre and writers for magazines like Metal Mania.

Like it was a sell out or whatever.

Tell that to the 50,000 people in attendance who sang every word of it.

One thing about Metallica is that they never remained fixed.

There was always growth in their music.

If you want an example of a growth mindset in music then this band is it. IF you want an example of a fixed mindset in music then AC/DC is it.

There is no right or wrong. It all works.

Enter Sandman

So James lets his guitar feedback ring out, shows his Australian minted guitar picks to the camera which the audience sees on the big screen and they raise their voices in appreciation and “Enter Sandman” begins.

This song is a live powerhouse.

Creeping Death

The “Die By My Hand” chant evolved in the live arena.

This song was also mentioned in one of those “Satanic Panic” articles and documentaries I read in a newspaper written by clueless journalist or saw on TV like 60 minutes.

I remember a lawyer saying, “what kind of band tells their audience to “die” in a concert”.

It’s unbelievable shit to see and hear how desperate people became to blame someone.

Damage, Inc.

It’s not my favourite song but I love the title for its uniqueness.

Seek & Destroy

And the closer, sending the Metallica family on their way to seek and destroy.

You can take it literally or you can use it as growth, to seek new knowledge, gain new skills and destroy your old self as you create a new self, stronger and better.

Metallica, once again is doing something different and not fixed during this COVID break.

Breaking out the archives for free.

Most artists would release these as DVD releases. For a fee. But not Metallica. There is a reason why they are on top.

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Influenced, My Stories

Life Messages from The American Wolf Of Hustle Wall Street and others – 2013 Best off in Cinema… Part 1

American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street

These two movies are for all the people who don’t know how the world works. For all those people that still believe that if you work hard, get a good education and put in the 12 hour days, that somehow, success will work itself out and befall on them.

But it doesn’t really happen that way at all. Everybody is hustling. Everybody is putting a scam in motion. The whole recording business is a scam, overrun by liars and cheaters, who get artists into contracts and then proceed to underpay the artists due to some creative accounting.

Both movies show an accurate reflection of life where scammers and hustlers work only for themselves, constantly tweaking and adjusting their methods to stay ahead of the law. Look at “The Pirate Bay” in music. It innovated more in one year than what the whole recording business did in 15 years and the law still cant get to it. Heard the music business scream “Piracy” lately. It’s because fans of music are slowly getting serviced with streaming.

What these movies have shown is that it doesn’t matter what level of education a person has. It doesn’t mean that they will win. Quitters never win and it is the winners that write history. The winners write history because they bend the laws and they twist social morals to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Oblivion

I love it’s eeriness. Director Joseph Kosinski, who also wrote the story did a great job in bringing back the Seventies sci-fi movie with “Oblivion”. Progress is derivative right.

This movie is for the people who only believe what they are told and even when they come across something that questions that belief, they re-frame it and twist it, so that it conforms with what they believe in, because that is all the know. Whatever Mission Control said was the truth and the whole truth.

We life in an information society right now with everything at our fingertips.

Don’t be a fool. Do your own research and question everything. Don’t just follow. Whereas “The Wolf Of Wall Street” and “American Hustle” reflect the hustling mentality of life, “Oblivion” reflects our servitude to institutions.

We serve the needs of companies and get paid a wage in return. That wage gets broken up and some of it goes to the tax institution. Some of it goes to the banking/mortgage institutions, some of it goes to the utility companies. If you get paid a basic wage, basically all of your wage is consumed before the next one is due.

We serve different religions and different creeds. That is what “Oblivion” is about. Serving “Mission Control”. The powerful and the wealthy tell us how to act and behave by rewriting history and bending laws to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Now You See Me

This movie was a super surprise. A sleeper hit. I read the reviews about how this smaller budgeted movie blew away the big budget blockbusters during the 2013 US Summer. For a movie that cost $75 million to make and promote, it has returned over $350 million. French director Louis Leterrier did a great job bringing the movie to life. As is the norm these days, the directors are as a big as the movie stars and in some cases bigger. They have their own blogs, own social media accounts and what not.

So what does this movie teach us about life.

In a similar vein to “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street”, scammers and hustlers are everywhere however in this case, revenge is obtained by the person that was wronged.

The insurance company scammed the dead magician’s family. The dead magician’s tricks got exposed by another magician who was a hustler. Fast forward a few decades and the son of the dead magician is now old enough to orchestrate the greatest trick/scam/hustle ever.

The powerful and the rich write bend laws to suit themselves. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

World War Z

Yeah, I know it’s got Brad Pitt and Zombies, however I really liked this movie. It played out like stages in a video game.
We have had a pretty clean run in relation to epidemics compared to previous centuries. This movie got me thinking about “The Happening”.

In “The Happening”, humans had become a threat to the planet and the plants released some form of a neurotoxin (which I will call a virus) that causes anyone exposed to it to commit suicide. In “World War Z” the virus needs a viable host to spread and therefore it is found that people inflicted with various diseases are immune from the zombie swarms as they cannot spread the disease.

In both movies they deal with nature. Nature requires a live host to spread the virus in “World War Z” and Nature fights back against the humans in “The Happening”. Respect our world is the message that I get from WWZ. The more we disrespect it and pollute it, the more we and our future generations will suffer.

The rich pharmaceutical companies care about treatments. There is no money in cures for them. They lobby hard to rewrite the laws and protect their business models. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Escape Plan

I don’t know what people have against Stallone and Schwarzenegger as actors. They have proven themselves in the entertainment business for over 40 years. Swedish director, Mikael Håfström delivers again in Escape Plan. It is a great story line.

As I am watching “Escape Plan”, I am thinking, wow, if someone wants to imprison a person just to get them out-of-the-way, they can, just because they have power or money.

Bradley Manning is in jail. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. All he did was embarrass his government.

Ed Snowden is on the run, seeking asylum. He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t hurt anyone. All he did was embarrass his government.

On both occassions, Manning and Snowden also informed the world at large to the crimes of their government. Torturing inmates is something that is associated to dictatorships, not to democratic countries. Spying on your citizens is common in dictatorships, not in democratic countries.

In both cases, if Manning and Snowden are reporters, they would have been seen as heroes.

Then you have the cases, where power and money gets you off on charges. Last year was littered with the kids of rich parents, driving cars intoxicated, killing others while driving or just speeding, Guess what they didn’t do any time and they also kept their driving permits.

The wealthy bend the laws to suit them. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

Another thing that Escape Plan brought to mind is the conflict of interests that people have and the revolving door of politicians to private firms or to lobby groups.

The politicians write and pass laws to benefit the wealthy and then when their term in office is finished, they get a well-paying job for the same companies that they made rich while in office. People may not like it, but it’s the truth.

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Bon Jovi – ANZ Stadium, December 14, 2013

The rain stayed away. When I left the “Gong” with my wife and two boys, the rain was coming down hard. Driving for 30 minutes, the sun came out. After driving for two hours to get to the venue, the sun was still out and it was very humid. This is my boys second concert. The first one being the Kiss and Motley Crue “Monster” tour of Australia in April this year.

Before we left for the trip, I went onto Setlist.fm and made up a playlist for our trip up to the venue. I assumed that since Melbourne and Sydney are treated more or less the same in relation to how overseas acts see the two cities, that the set lists would be very similar. And they were. Basically we listened to the set as we where driving up.

So we get to Homebush and apart from the normal rips’ like $25 parking, $50 a top (which meant I handed over $150 to merchandise) and $15 for a chips, drink and sausage roll deal, the first thing I noticed was the stage design. Seeing the stage design in pictures or on fan filmed YouTube footage doesn’t do it justice. It is a great concept and a great idea.

It is fitting that they opened up with the best song from the “What About Now” album. “That’s What the Water Made Me” is the only tune they should be pushing from that new album. It took the mixer crew about 3 seconds to realise that they needed to press a button so that the rest of the stadium hears the sound. So you can say that the start didn’t have the WOW factor.

That’s what the water made me That’s who I am and what I’ll be

We can’t change how we are made, how we have grown up and what we believe in. Of course we can adapt to situations and sometimes we can fake a different personality but in the end, we all fall back to how we were made and what we are.

This world, it’s cracked and crazy
Say one of your pretty prayers for me
No roles in the garden? Or Wishing well?

Life is no Garden of Eden. It never was and it never will be. We have copyright granted monopolies fighting hard to control the internet. We have people working 12 hour days just to see all of their money go to the mortgage, to the utility companies and just to basic survival goods. At night, we might feel better saying a pretty prayer, but that is all it is. The World is cracked and Crazy.

So after opening up with a new one, they went back to 1986 with two classics “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Raise Your Hands” from the “Slippery When Wet” album.

Both songs are designed for the live show and they work a treat. While “You Give Love A Band Name” gets people singing, “Raise Your Hands” gets people moving, with 50,000 plus hands raised as one each time the Chorus hit.

Then we had “Lost Highway” and “Whole Lot of Leavin'” from 2007’s “Lost Highway” album. While “Lost Highway” has become a live staple of the Bon Jovi show, I cant say that “Whole Lot of Leavin'” deserves the same treatment. I am sure a better song could have been inserted, like “Runaway” or “In And Out Of Love” or my personal favourite “This Is Love, This Is Life.”

The next song was a cover of the Bob Seger classic “Old Time Rock & Roll” with Kid Rock assisting, along with his backing singers and sax player. Watching the performance on the big screen, the camera dude really focused on the bouncy chest of Jessie Wagner, who was one of Kid Rock’s back up singers.

“It’s My Life” from the “Crush” album was next and apart from the missing 10 second talk box and some other sound problems, the song was another sing along anthem for the crowd.

“Because We Can” and “What About Now” came next. I really don’t like “Because We Can” and when Jon tried to get the crowd to sing it back to him towards the end, he was more or less greeted with silence. It just didn’t connect. “What About Now” however is a good song, however when it is put up against the other Bon Jovi songs, it doesn’t look that good anymore.

“We Got It Goin’ On” is a real damn good song from the “Lost Highway” album with a real sleazy groove happening. It is a great song for the live show.

Is there anybody out there looking for a party? Yeah!!

Any song that starts off with that opening lyric, is designed purely for the concert. It is the call and response. A great pick me up after the lackluster double whammy from the new album.

“Keep the Faith” didn’t hit the mark. Jon really struggled with the Gm key of the song. However, the outro jam session between the band sure made up for the vocal shortcomings.

The next four songs, was the toilet break and drink break period of the concert. As much as Jon is trying to rewrite the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah” with “Amen” it just doesn’t hit the mark. I made a mention to my wife the amount of people walking toward the exit doors to stock up on booze when the song started.

So “Amen” was followed by “Someday I’ll Be A Saturday Night” in an acoustic format which was followed by “Diamond Ring” and the very underrated “(You Want to) Make a Memory”. From the catalogue of songs that Bon Jovi has, the 4 song acoustic part of the show was a let down.

However, they finished the set strong. “Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars”, “Born to Be My Baby”, “We Weren’t Born to Follow” all followed.

“Who Says You Can’t Go Home” came next, followed by “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” that had a great medley of “Great Balls of Fire”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Wipe Out” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” which showcased the vocal chops of fill in guitarist, “Phil X”.

Since AC/DC are Aussie legends, you can’t go wrong when you cover AccaDacca. Even Billy Joel covered AC/DC for his Stone Festival performance, playing “Long Way To The Top”.

“Bad Medicine” finished off the set (also with a small detour that included “Oh, Pretty Woman”.

I saw that for the second Melbourne show, Bon Jovi played “Dry County” which is my favourite Bon Jovi track by far and I was hoping that would be the case in Sydney.

So when the opening chords for “In These Arms” kicked off the encore, I guessed it wasn’t to be. “Wanted Dead or Alive” followed, this time without the usual Richie Sambora acoustic theatrics to kick it off. Finally the night ended with “Have a Nice Day” and of course “Livin’ on a Prayer”. We (along with the other 50,000 plus crowd) sung the last two songs that hard and for long parts of those songs the crowd drowned out Jon’s actual vocals.

So did the audience miss Richie Sambora? As much as it pains me to say it, NO, he wasn’t missed. Apart from about 5 poorly selected song choices, it was a solid set, with the actual songs as the STARS. No one cared who wrote the songs.

Will Bon Jovi do the same numbers again if they return with the current incarnation of the band? My view is NO. Watching some of the facials and the way Jon was carrying himself, it is like he knew this could be the last time Bon Jovi graces Australia.

Was it an enjoyable night? It was. The looks on my kids faces was worth it. I still would have loved to see some of the earlier stuff, as well as the “This Is Love, This Is Life.”

Thanks for the 30 years, let’s hope that the Richie Sambora issues get all sorted for a return performance, (hopefully it will be easier on the pocket).

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

The Best Metal and Rock Top 10 for 2013

Well the year is almost over and it is time to look back at the albums that connected and hit the mark for 2013. Anyone who has been a constant visitor to this blog will notice that I have spoken about these albums in previous posts in more detail.

1. Protest The Hero – Volition

Disclaimer; I was one of those fans that contributed to this album, so the competition for the best album of 2013 wasn’t even close. Protest The Hero wins hands down. They delivered an album for the fans. It has everything that a condensed progressive technical metal album should have. Plus it has Chris Adler on drums. In 2011, “Scurrilous” was number seven on my list.

If you want the detailed breakdown, here it is;

This album also shows how the mainstream media is out of touch. Despite all the hype around Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Korn and Black Sabbath, the biggest release of the year belongs to Protest The Hero.

And deservedly so.

They connected with their audience via Indiegogo. They have cut through all the internet noise without the need of major label. In the age of information overload, Protest The Hero relied on their audience and their music to get their message through.

2. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King

Call this album what you will, however no one can take away the fact that it is a damn good listen. Having those nods to the past and building on those influences is what music is all about. In twenty years time, this album will be revered and copied, because that is how music is made.

3. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1

Part 1 is a killer classic metal album with arena melodic rock chorus. Watch You Bleed, Lift Me Up, The Wrong Side Of Heaven, Anywhere But Here are all rock sing a longs.

4. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

Jesse Leach is back and man can he write a catchy chorus. Each song goes through so many vocal emotions, it’s one heck of a roller coaster. The Times Of Grace project brought Jesse back into the metal world. “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” was one great album and it was in my top 10 list for that year.

In 2009, I also had the self titled Killswitch Engage album at number five in my top 10 list.

5. TesserAcT – Altered State

This band is really branching out from the Djent constraints by embracing atmospheric style song writing. The math metal is still there and the vocals bring it all home. I have always said, TesseracT will be seen as the new Pink Floyd by a whole new generation. In 2011, TesseracT came in ninth position with the album “One”. I was pleasently surprised to see this one pop in Robb Flynn’s top 10 list.

6. Trivium – Vengeance Falls

Trivium have always had the balls to make decisions. Working with Dave Draiman is one of them. Seriously i cant see an issue with how the vocal melodies are phrased or delivered by Heafy. I really like this album. The music is top-notch and the songs are of high quality. In 2011, Trivium came in tenth position with the album “In Waves”.

7. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman – Descension

Another band that is employing data to connect with fans. They have been on the road since January and released two slabs of music within 3 months. This album doesn’t have Domino The Destitute, but it has Sentry The Defiant plus others.

8. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 2

A Day In My Life. Man that chorus just hooks me in. Put to the side the cliché rhyming from Moody and just focus on the musical melodies and you will be hooked as well. It’s been played on repeat on my iPhone on my way to work and on my way home.

“American Capitalist” was fifth in my 2011 list and “War Is The Answer” was 2nd in 2009, just behind “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” from Dream Theater.

9. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies

I was a fan of this band before they broke through in the U.S. It was the “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil” album from 2007 that made me a fan. I was really looking forward to this release and the band didn’t disappoint. It has all of their trademarks with a dash of country and hillbilly thrown into the mix.

10. Alter Bridge – Fortress

Mark Tremonti is one hell of a guitar player and most importantly a hell of a songwriter. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy has been a godsend. Alter Bridge get better with each album and they rarely fail to disappoint.

Notable Mentions

Audrey Horne – Youngblood

If you don’t know this band, you should. I swear every genre of music and time period associated with music is heard on this album. Give this band the attention they deserve. Their whole catalogue is on Spotify so there is no excuse to not check them out. Any band that is from Norway and with a black metal post deserves to be heard in a hard rock context.

Mutiny Within – Synchronicity

The only thing holding this band back is what their definition of success is and Chris Clancy. He is so hung up on fighting for the old system and how it used to be, he is failing to see opportunities in front of him.

Hearts And Hands – My Own Machine

A great pop metal or pop rock album. Hearts and Hands started off as a side project for Chelsea Grin vocalist Alex Koehler. However since he departed after their 2012 self titled EP, the band has undergone a significant transformation and their sound has shifted away from breakdowns and screams to effected guitars, acoustics and great songs.

Love and Death – Between Here and The Lost

A hundred times better than the new Korn album. They even sound like Korn on some of the songs. Brian Head Welch is a star and this album proves it.

Sound Of Contact – Dimensionaut

Progressive Rock and a voice that sounds very similar to Phil Collins. Plus any album that has a concept attached to it, always gets my attention. Its plot follows an alienated, unnamed human who is tired of humanity and embraces his fate as a traveler of dimensions, time and galaxies. Throughout the story, the dimensionaut constructs his escape from reality, realizing new experiences and encountering love in the process.

Faith Circus – Turn Up The Band

If this band had the same attention as Avenged Sevenfold, critics would come out and comment how each song sounds like a rip off from every successful glam rock and blues rock album made in the Eighties. Music is derivative and Faith Circus deliver. It is a great listen from start to finish. Another band from Norway that deserves your attention.

Final Notable Mentions

Due to my kids overdosing on the music I placed on their iPods certain classic rock albums have come back into my life.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Kiss – Lick It Up
Kiss – Asylum
Kiss – Destroyer
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Europe – The Final Countdown

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

Hands In The Sky Big Shot – Great Music Will Live On Forever

I have been on a Sons Of Anarchy binge lately. Just recently I finished Season 2 and the final episode had an unbelievable piece of music that complemented and enhanced the desperation of the final scenes. You need to see it, to understand what I mean.

Of course I wanted to know more about this piece of music. So I Google “Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Music”. I come across a WIKIA page that shows me each episode and the songs that played on each episode. I click on the final episode of Season 2 and I see that the last song listed is from a band called “Straylight Run” and that the song is called “Hands In The Sky”.

So I go onto YouTube, type in the band name, and there it is. I came across 16 videos with a combined play count of 1,498,818. Spotify streams have the count as 110,507.

I want to go deeper, because that is what we do, when we come across something that connects with us.

The song was released on an EP, called “Prepare To Be Wrong” from 2005. God damn. I am hearing this song in 2013. That is 8 years after its release.

The audience (both legal and illegal) who watched “Sons Of Anarchy” on December 1, 2009 heard the song for the first time. If you dig deeper you will see that the actual song hit YouTube from December 4, 2009, which is right after the “Sons Of Anarchy” episode.

By February 2010, the band went on indefinite hiatus due to money complications. This is strange, especially when “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” was doing the rounds courtesy of the TV show.

Of course, with Victory Records being the label that released the EP, it would be safe to assume that Victory Records would have kept their reputation intact by pocketing handsomely and not giving a cent to Straylight Run.

Straylight Run started off on Victory Records due to a contract that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper had with the label courtesy of their other band “Taking Back Sunday.” That contract was fulfilled with the EP release in 2005. Then Universal Republic picked them up for their 2007 release “The Needles The Space” only to be dropped when vocalist, guitarist and pianist Michelle DaRosa left. They went all independent for their next two EP releases and then called it a day after that.

Great music will always be found. “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” will live on forever. It is now a part of pop culture. It really captured the desperation of the scenes and now I can’t stop playing the song, along with Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My, My” which was used to close Season 3.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Review in 40 Words

Review in 40 Words – Alter Bridge – Fortress (2013)

Brilliant album. Tremonti and Kennedy are a formidable songwriting team. This album is an extension of ABIII with extra influences added. “Fortress” solo section is worth the price of the album. “Children of The Grave” merged with “Revelation (Mother Earth)”.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Deja-Vu. 2011 vs. 2013 with Dream Theater and Trivium – Random Thoughts on their new songs

It’s like déjà vu again. In 2011, I was listening to new songs from Trivium and Dream Theater. Trivium had just unleashed In Waves as its promotional single for the In Waves album and Dream Theater had unleashed On The Backs of Angels as its promotional single for the A Dramatic Turn of Events album.

I remember listening to both songs back then and taking into account both of the band’s position in the musical landscape. Dream Theater to me, had the most to prove, as this music would be their first without founder Mike Portnoy.

In my opinion In Waves is a stronger song than On The Backs of Angels. The song wins all the time. I was listening to Images and Words yesterday and the reason why that album is awesome 21 years after its release is the songs. Learning To Live, Metropolis and Take The Time are progressive as hell, but man, I can physically hum the whole songs to anyone including the progressive interludes.

Images and Words is Dream Theater. That album represented what Dream Theater are all about and it set in motion everything that was to come. This new album is self-titled, therefore it should represent what Dream Theater is all about.

Anyway I digress, going back to my 2011 experiences. In relation to the albums, both of them had a six week U.S sale run (physical sales) and then disappeared. Will history repeat itself? I think so.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

Trivium – In Waves
Week 1 – ending 17 Aug 2011 – 20,640 units sold
Week 2 – ending 24 Aug 2011 – 6,700 units sold
Week 4 – ending 07 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold
Week 5 – ending 14 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold

Artists are so scared if an album under performs these days. WHY? The album sales figures quoted above is not the metric to judge success on. Dream Theater have hardly sold any music in South America, however they play to their biggest crowds there. I wonder how that came to be?

As Nicko McBrain said in Flight 666 The Movie, Iron Maiden hasn’t sold an album in Costa Rica, however they are playing a stadium show that is sold out with 30,000 people attending. Put it down to piracy, file sharing, Bit Torrent or copyright infringement. The bottom line is this, if what you create is great, expect it to be shared.

Before the Internet, before YouTube, before streaming services like Spotify, fans had to own the music to hear it. That is no longer the case. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips. Fans are participating in this new arena, while artists and labels are still banging their heads against the wall judging success by album sales.

Even Mike Portnoy asked fans to buy The Winery Dogs as a show of support to the label and to show to them that this project is viable. Why does he care about sales? Look at all his posts, show after show. He is blown away at the reaction they are getting. Isn’t that the validation he should be seeking?

So here we are in 2013. We have Trivium’s new song Brave This Storm and Dream Theater’s The Enemy Within.

So what is the verdict.

I can’t say that The Enemy Within is anything special. Some bits remind me of Scenes from a Memory, but really, I could see this song fitting on A Dramatic Turn of Events. It is not a great leap forward in musical terms. Let’s hope that the other songs make the “definite statement.”

Hopefully what we heard was their “Commercial” piece for the album, in the same way that Forsaken was seen as the “Commercial” piece in Systematic Chaos. If this new album turns out to just be ADToE part 2, then yeah I’ll be pretty disappointed, and everyone will know what a pivotal role Portnoy played in the band and how directionless they are without him.

On the other hand, I was very cautious as to how the Trivium and David Draiman collaboration would work. From hearing Brave This Storm, I would say they are on a definite winner. The song is heavy, it is a progression from what they started with In Waves, it is all math in the verses and it is very melodic. Let’s hope that the other Trivium songs are not Brave This Storm 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.

For some reason this got me thinking about a song from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Rebels which is the lead off track on his 1985, Southern Accents album.

With one foot in the grave
One foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel

Are musicians/artists rebels in 2013? It seems that they all want to be winners. Seen any posts from a musician recently about what they think, what they feel, what they are going to do and it doesn’t relate to selling music. Our heroes are even beholden to the Corporations.

Randy Blythe is one artist that shows his humanity. He uses his photographs and puts stories around them, which always relate to a personal part of his life. We are all human. We win and we lose. Blythe focuses on his work, not the sales pitch.

There is new news every day, so if Dream Theater and Trivium want their story to survive, they need to keep it alive by making news every day

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Music, My Stories

Twenty Years

1993 vs. 2013 – What Has Changed in Twenty Years?

An old teacher of mine showed me a photo of my school year from 1993. There I am in the back row with the long hair, a beard and a stoner look. How things have changed?

Then, my only ambition was to get my driver’s licence, finish high school (to make my parents happy) and to be in a band (to make me happy). Now, ambition is replaced by duty. I have a duty to my family to ensure that I keep my job, I pay the bills and keep all the wheels turning in my family life.

Then, all I wanted to do was party hard. Now, all I want to do is take some R&R. However life is too short to spend it alone. That is why I choose to do everything with my wife and kids. Eventually my kids will start doing their own thing, so while they are young, I am going to enjoy doing as much things with them as possible.

Then, all I wanted to do was write cool music. Now, I still write music. Instead of picking up the guitar and pressing record on the 4 track, I switch on my laptop, open up Guitar Pro and I start writing. I don’t even touch the guitar.

Then, I wrote a song each day (lyrics and basic chords) in a diary. Now, I still do the same. In this case, I write lyrics only and then eventually I get around to writing music to them via the computer.

Then, the way music was consumed was undergoing a transformation. The CD was becoming popular as a delivery system, so people started re-purchasing their vinyl and tape collections on CD. Now, the way music is consumed is undergoing a radical transformation. People buy MP3’s, people stream and people share. The labels still try and push the CD as it makes them the most money, however people are now selecting what they like.

Then, radio was popular. Today, YouTube is popular. Internet radio is making inroads and traditional radio is struggling for listeners.

Then, hard rock music was killed off by the record labels who jumped ship onto the grunge / alternative rock bandwagon. Now, hard rock music is back, stronger than ever. The labels are still jumping ship, this time focusing on the pop market and songs written by committees. Then when an independent artist starts selling big numbers, the labels jump ship again to find other like artists.

Then, MTV was king. Now YouTube is king. The entertainment industry screams piracy and calls for more legislation, while the biggest sharing site, YouTube remains untouched. Why? The RIAA and its labels are now making money from the ad revenue on YouTube, so it is okay.

Then, to discover new music, we needed to rely on a knowledgeable record store operator, gatekeepers, radio and expensive import magazines. Now, we just use Google, YouTube, Bandcamp, Sound Cloud, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, blogs and many more.

Then, all the hard rock /metal bands started to release live albums, cover albums and B – sides. Metallica released Binge and Purge, Guns N Roses released The Spaghetti Incident, Def Leppard released Retro-Active, Iron Maiden (lost Bruce Dickinson in 1993) released A Real Dead One, A Real Live One and Live in Donnington. Now Metallica are still releasing live albums, via their own bootleg soundboard recordings, Def Leppard are doing a run of dates in Las Vegas, Iron Maiden are still out there touring, with Bruce Dickinson back on vocals and a version of Guns N Roses still exists.

Then, Rage Against The Machine at a Lollapalooza concert used their entire 14-minute set to protest their single “Killing in the Name” being banned from radio. With only guitar feedback for sound, the group appears on stage naked with the letters “PMRC” painted on their chests and electrical duct tape over their mouths. Now, everyone wants to be loved, wants to be liked. No one wants to be hated. No one stands up for what they believe in.

Then, we only had a home phone. Now, we have smart mobile phones. We are connected 24/7.

The biggest change has been the rise of technology. The rock stars of 2013 are the tech heads.

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