Music, My Stories

80’s and Today

80’s
It was hard being a musician

Today
It’s still hard being a musician.

80’s
You wrote and performed music.

Today
You write and perform music, maintain an online presence, manage yourself, promote yourself, have to know your legal rights, organise your own shows, licensing, merchandise and more.

80’s
Labels paid money to run ads and the audience came with the time slot.

Today
The ad is free to run. Post your post, upload your video. Free.

80’s
We had a mailing list. Sometimes it would take weeks for mail to arrive.

Today
It takes seconds for a message to arrive and we look at the numbers on social media.

80’s
We did the hard work of building up a local fan base, city by city

Today
We want to take over the world in an instant.

80’s
The labels and the media measured attention via sales of recorded music.

Today
Well, attention is measure by likes, shares, views, streams, sales of physical, sales of digital, sales of tickets and so forth.

80’s
We looked for a record deal and the belief that fame and riches would follow.

Today
We know that there is no single solution. We know how record labels ripped off the artists.

80’s
We had two paths of getting our music out. The record label path or the do it yourself path.

Today
We have hundreds of paths for pushing our music out. We just need to work harder at it.

80’s
We didn’t know what a business strategy was.

Today
If you don’t have a business strategy, you are already behind the eight ball.

80’s
MTV was king.

Today
YouTube is king.

80’s
The entertainment industry could get away with creating laws to benefit their business model and then sponsoring politicians to get their laws passed.

Today
There is customer push back. SOPA and PIPA got squashed because the customers protested.

80’s
To discover new music, we needed to rely on a knowledgeable record store operator, gatekeepers, radio and expensive import magazines.

Today
We don’t know when new music comes out? There is just too much noise. Spotify Release Friday is one avenue. We have Google, YouTube, Bandcamp, Sound Cloud, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, blogs and many more.

80’s
We only had one home phone.

Today
We have smart mobile phones and a lot of other tech devices. We are connected 24/7.

80’s
Artists are the rock and pop stars

Today
Techies have the same adulation as the 80’s rock and pop stars

80’s
Pablo and Colombia was the king of cocaine trafficking

Today
It’s Mexico

80’s
CD’s are seen as angels to the record label CEO’s.

Today
Streaming was seen as the devil and then the monies came in and the record label CEO’s are happy again.

80’s
When you wanted to learn something or check something you went to the library or you purchased a book/manual.

Today
You Google.

80’s
Our rite of passage was to own a car. Without wheels, you didn’t even exist.

Today
Kids drive their parent’s car or Uber. Owning tech is what’s important. Without tech, you don’t exist.

80’s
Retail stores and shopping malls ruled

Today
Online retailers rule and it’s all delivered to your door.

80’s
Bands had hits after hits

Today
It’s too hard to have a hit and then to back it up with another. Blame the internet.

80’s
Gatekeepers decided who would get signed or not

Today
The internet decimated the barrier to entry.

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

Forgotten 2

The Playlist

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)
Twisted Sister

How fortunes change for artists?

Twisted Sister was the top band in 1984. Dee Snider was everywhere, on the cover of magazines, newspapers and even hosting a show on MTV that would go on to become “Headbangers Ball”. For a band that toughed it out for a decade, success came and went in half of that.

Who cares if “Love Is For Suckers” was meant to be a solo album?

Who cares if Mark Mendoza and Jay Jay French hate the album?

Who cares if studio musicians contributed to it?

It’s listed as a Twisted Sister album, it sounds like a Twisted Sister album and like all Twisted Sister albums, Dee is still the main songwriter and it should be given its dues as a Twisted Sister album. That means, playing the excellent “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” live.

Who the hell are they to say
What we can do and how we can play
We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

Dee was always good at writing the anthem of the SMF’s vs the world. “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” is no different. The WE in the song is the fans, the black sheep, the ones that everyone was calling devil worshippers in 1984.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

It’s the war cry against the censorship taking place against heavy metal and hard rock music. Freedom comes with a choice and sometimes, we sign away our freedom because we like to create an enemy, someone to blame when it all goes to hell.

It’s our boss’s fault because we are not making our mortgage repayments. If only we earned more.

It’s our leaders fault because we have our rights taken away a little bit at a time.

We like to have someone else in control.

Around the world, our internet is under attack from governments and corporations. They want to control it, regulate it and charge a premium for it. The Net Neutrality war is real and it’s happening and only a handful of people are speaking up against it. The rest are ignorant.

Snider’s message is good. It’s right, but the SMF misfits had grown older and they had responsibilities. Rising up against the institutions wasn’t their mission anymore. It changed to performing duties and keeping a roof over their head or their own families head.

The more metal inclined fans of Twisted Sister moved their loyalties to the thrash and metal movements and the more pop rock casual fans moved their loyalty to Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Whitesnake’s 1987 release. And in that climate, the album couldn’t compete.

Magic Touch
Aerosmith

With “Dude Looks Like A Lady”, “Rag Doll” and “Angel” taking all the attention, this little classic had no chance. Which is a shame, as the song is up there when it comes to Aerosmith. It’s got the classic bluesy groove the band is well-known for and a wickedly good vocal melody. Plus Joey Kramer sounds louder than hell on the drums.

It’s written by Tyler, Perry and Jim Vallance (yep, that same Jim Vallance who co-wrote “War Machine” with Bryan Adams, plus the majority of Bryan Adams catalogue).

Don’t need no wedding with a shotgun, shotgun

Ahh, the problem with the male species is our basic load control. An innocent moment of explosion and that accidental shotgun wedding might be very real. Then again, that’s how it was in the past. In today’s age not so much.

Dancing On Glass
Motley Crue

Man, that riff from Mick Mars, is sleazy and dangerous. You can safely call “Dancing On Glass” the prequel to “The Heroin Diaries”.

In 1987, Nikki was asking if he is in Persia or just insane. In 2005, Nikki via Sixx A.M was reminiscing about how a girl with golden eyes talks to him in Persian, telling Nikki, she loves him.

There are plenty of other auto biographical lines about Sixx’s drug life.

“Valentines in London, found me in the trash”
“One extra push, last trip to the top”
“Silver Spoon and needle, witchy tombstone smile
“I’m no puppet, I engrave my veins in style”

“Wild Side” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” sold the album but to me, the third track is just as good.

Breakin’ All The Rules
Ozzy Osbourne

I know there was a film clip for it and it was a single, but “Miracle Man” was that strong and Ozzy’s earlier catalogue was still selling well, “Breakin’ All the Rules” was just ignored.

But what a riff to kick it off, under a rumbling Randy Castillo groove.

Nobody thinks the way I do
I guess that nobody dares

I read an article about a computer scientist guy who took all the google searches people make and found that we basically lie when it comes to everything public. The only place we don’t lie is within our Google searches because we believe we are alone and they are private. And Google Searches show what we really think and really like. And guess what, Google sells this data to marketeers.

And I know
That you would love to know the answers
But to you
The truth is just another lie

Some people don’t care about reason or a different point of view. With Ozzy being the whipping boy for all the religious institutions, you can see where Bob Daisley was going with the lyric. Funny how the religious entities classed Ozzy as satanic when his whole house is littered with crucifixes.

Rising Power
AC/DC

It’s a solid album, coming out after the holy trinity of albums, their U.S breakthrough “Highway To Hell” in 1979, the mega selling “Back In Black” from 1980 and it’s 1981 successor “For Those About To Rock”. Some personnel changes happened as well. Simon Wright is in the drummers’ chair, replacing Phil Rudd. The producer of their holy trinity albums, Mutt Lange was also out. Their manager Peter Mensch was also out.

Angus and Malcolm stepped up to give the world a live and raw version of AC/DC and the result is a lot of groove and swagger but no classics.

My body’s blown a fuse
Rising power
We’ll raise the night
Rising power

Rise/Rising = hard on. Blow a fuse = climax. Johnson is rolling out the metaphors.

Rocket Queen
Guns N Roses

The closing track to the epic “Appetite For Destruction” album. It was never a single, but the audience knows the lyrics. It’s just one of those songs on an album full of audience classics.

I’ve got a tongue like a razor
A sweet switchblade knife
And I can do you favors
But then you’ll do whatever I like

Ahh, yes, Axl and his tongue… Guess someone is going down.

Here I am
And you’re a Rocket Queen

The opening lines of the Chorus. Every Gunner’s fan knows it.

I’ve seen everything imaginable
Pass before these eyes
I’ve had everything that’s tangible
Honey you’d be surprised

The rock and roll debauchery and decadence summed up in four lines.

And then that outro. It’s basically another song within a song. First the power chords and then the open E and B string arpeggios over shifting notes on the G string, mapping out the E major scale.

I see you standing
Standing on your own
It’s such a lonely place for you
For you to be
If you need a shoulder
Or if you need a friend
I’ll be here standing
Until the bitter end

You think you have friends and lovers when you’re a star and then when the lights go away, who is left.

Or think I, I mean you harm
Of those that take you
Leave you strung out
Much too far

Law enforcement efforts to stop cocaine and heroin increased the narcotic production ten-fold. The use of narcotics today is high and the war against drugs is 50 plus years old. And it’s the vulnerable/lonely people who turn to it. And the most vulnerable are our heroes, on the road, playing theaters or arenas and surrounded by people who profit from them.

Good Enough
Get Up

Van Halen

Any album (especially a Van Halen album) that kicks off with “Hello Baby”, you know you’re in for a ride. In “Good Enough” Sammy Hagar compares a great looking woman to a premium cut of beef. I’ll have another cut please.

Wow, U.S. Prime, grade A stamped guaranteed
Grease it up and turn on the heat
You gotta throw it down and roll it over once, maybe twice
Then chow down, down, down, down

“Get Up” is basically a speed rock song. And EVH breaks out some excellent riffage in this one as well.

Feel like throwin’ in the towel?
Don’t be a fool
They’re out to knock you out
And put you down for the count

I feel like throwing in the towel a lot of times. Some days feel like a battle against the forces of society. Making people believe that working hard and paying things off will get you freedom is a dream promoted by the banking sector and the 1% that control it.

Ah, there’s still some fight in me
That’s how it’ll always be
Hold your head up high, look ’em in the eye
Never say die

It’s the human spirit. Never say die, never give up. The thing with “5150” is the pop rock songs got so much attention. I’ll be honest, all of the pop songs are excellent, however it was a shame the real heavy rock songs like “Good Enough” and “Get Up” got lost in the noise.

Blindman
Aint Gonna Cry No More
Looking For Love
You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again

Whitesnake

Coming into 1980, Whitesnake was putting out an album a year and touring consistently. Then the Martin Birch produced “Ready an’ Willing” dropped, launching the song “Fool For Your Loving”, a piece written by Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and David Coverdale.

To me, “Ready an’ Willing” is the album that started Whitesnake’s rise which culminated in the 1987 self-titled album selling millions around the world.

My two favourites are “Blindman” (which is a derivative version of the Coverdale/Blackmore penned “Soldier Of Fortune”) and the very Led Zeppelin sounding, “Aint Gonna Cry No More”. Those songs also nail it lyrically for me. Talk about completely forgotten, no one under forty would know these songs.

“Chasing rainbows that have no end, The road is long without a friend….” from BLINDMAN
“Like a Blindman, I can feel the heat of the sun, But like a Blindman, I don’t know where it’s coming from…” from BLINDMAN

“Aint Gonna Cry No More” is White Led Zep Styx Snake and I swear Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades built Damn Yankees on the backs of songs like these. Influences aside, it’s a track that’s good enough to stand on its own

“Memories of broken dreams, As distant as the sun, Are drifting like an echo in the wind….” from AIN’T GONNA CRY NO MORE

Then fast forward to 1987 and two of the best tracks didn’t end up on the normal world-wide release.

I didn’t hear “Looking For Love” until many years later. It’s better than “Is This Love” however at over 6 minutes long, it wasn’t a commercially viable song. David Coverdale was shocked when he heard that John Kalodner would be cutting the song from the final album release.

The candle is burning, it’s way down low
I just need someone
To show me the way, the way to go
Which way to go

Isn’t life like that. We are always looking for some guidance. That’s why tarot card readers, astrologists, clairvoyants, psychologists have a career.

“You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”, “Don’t Break My Heart Again”. David Coverdale was the master song title re-user.

How huge is the riff in “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”.

Sykes goes to town on this song, a derivative version of “Children Of The Night”. It’s got all of his uniqueness in it, from fast palm muted staccato runs, a shredelicious and melodic lead and to using thirds and minor chord inversions instead of the standard power chords.

Perfect Timing
Knucklebones

David Lee Roth

“Perfect Timing” is written by David Lee Roth and keyboardist Brett Tuggle, so it’s got that melodic rock vibe happening.

I’m thinkin’ this is the right time
I’m hoping you feel the same
‘Cause that light at the end of the tunnel
Is the front of an oncoming train

It had to be David Lee Roth that linked love to standing on the train line in front of an oncoming train. Then again, he always had a way with words.

“Knucklebones” is written by Gregg and Matt Bissonette along with David Lee Roth.

So we’re hittin’ the road
And we’re pumpin’ thunder
Mama look out for down below
Get the show on the road
It’s the feeling we’re under
You can feel it right down to your knucklebones

One of a million songs about the rock and roll show.

One of these dark nights, as the saying goes
There’s some dirty work
To be done down by the crossroads
And I know it’s true

Always love a supernatural tale at the crossroads. There’s some dirty work to be done.

Livin’ For The Minute
Poison

It wasn’t even on the album. A B-side on the “Nothin’ But A Good Time” 7 inch single.

“Open Up and Say…Ahh!” was huge for Poison. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, “Nothin’ but a Good Time” and “Fallen Angel” took all the glory. Hell, even a cover of “Your Mama Don’t Dance” charted okay. But “Livin’ For The Minute” is just perfect.

Magazine covers always shootin’ poor Billy’s face
He kept a score of his ladies chalked up on his guitar case
He was a bad-ass rockin’, baby, always rollin’ out the sounds
Like some freight train come and did a six-string strut and just tore the damn place to the ground

It’s a character driven story about a guitar slinger called Billy, who kept a groupie monument in his guitar case and man, he could play. Sort of like Johnny. There is no doubt the song is influenced by “Johnny Be Goode” in the lyrical department. Quick! Call the lawyers.

Slave To Love
Quiet Riot

A great piece of melodic pop rock, however like many other bands that broke through in 1983/84, by 86/87 they became old news. Forgotten.

We made a slave to love
That’s what I’ll always be
A victim of your touch
You stole my soul and now I’m just a slave to love, yeah

DuBrow was never known as a great lyricist and I suppose that became his downfall. There are only so much clichéd and generic rhymes a fan could take. But for some reason AC/DC seemed to get away with it.

All The Fools Sailed Away
Dio

Music is written by Dio and Goldy, while lyrics are all done by Dio.

What can I say about this song that I haven’t said before about classic Dio songs?

The drumming is epic, great vocal melodies, great movements between loud and soft and when the chorus comes in with the backing vocals, it’s time to sing along.

There’s perfect harmony
In the rising and the falling of the sea
And as we sail along
I never fail to be astounded by
The things we’ll do for promises

If our ancestors never set sail to find new lands, who knows what the world would be like. Our sense of adventure is the backbone of the human psyche.

We are the innocent
We are the damned
We were caught in the middle of the madness
Hunted by the lion and the lamb

Society is founded on the persecution of races. And as we get more advanced, persecution exists between the haves and the have-nots. The divide is only getting bigger.

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Sailed away

People need to move and find new lands/cities to thrive and survive.

They say you’re beautiful
And they’ll always let you in
But doors are never open
To the child without a trace of sin

I watched “Split” recently and the James McEvoy split personality character wouldn’t kill a person that was as beautiful as him (which meant scarred from some past abuse). And I suppose sin is what makes us who we are. How can we learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of others if we don’t make them or don’t believe we make them?

Stand Up And Fight
Fantasy

M.A.R.S

Putting this band, supergroup, one-off project together proved to be one of the best decisions ever made by Shrapnel Records supremo Mike Varney.

You have hotshot newcomer Tony MacAlpine on guitars. Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge are on bass/drums. Another newcomer in Rob Rock is on vocals. The potential is unlimited. The melodic rock is amped up to 11. Yeah, the lyrics are clichéd and some of the melodies and rhymes are overused, however don’t let that get in the way of a good listen.

The big X-factor, star quarterback, star centre forward is Tony MacAlpine. He’s a virtuoso keyboardist and guitarist all rolled into one. He churns out brilliant riff after brilliant riff. Craig Goldy was their original guitarist, but he left to join Dio and I think Tony MacAlpine had a better and more creative musical career than Goldy.

Isn’t it funny how a no-brainer decision in the past, in hindsight maybe didn’t pan out to be such a great decision?

“Stand up and fight for your rights, stand up and be free”

Prisoner
Dokken

From the excellent “Back For The Attack” album and it’s sequenced straight after “Kiss Of Death”. And it works. The basic Am to F to G chords underpin the song, while the double stop bends in the intro lead make it sound unique.

Then it slows down in the verse, only to build it all back up to the arena rock chorus. A great piece of song writing.

“I’m a prisoner chained by love”

Long Cold Winter
Cinderella

Blues music is simple however to make it sound simple is a challenge. In this case, Keifer and Co. show the hard rock MTV world how to play the blues and they make it sound simple.

“A long cold winter without your love”

Winds Of Change
Y&T

1981’s “Earthshaker” started Y&T’s rebirth. “Black Tiger” released in 1982 would enhance and refine their signature sound. The album was recorded in England and produced by Max Norman. At that time, he had just finished working with Randy Rhoads on two career defining albums, so he knew how to work with excellent Californian guitarists.

Winds of change
Blowing strongly

The song has this “Kings and Queens” Aerosmith vibe. I dig it.

Far From Over
Frank Stallone

Sly Stallone’s nepotism to family members is evident here. His brother Frank is singing one of the signature songs from the “Staying Alive” movie, which is the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever”.

I dig this song a lot. It’s written by Frank Stallone and Vince DiCola.

I’m diggin’ in,
I want it more than anything I’ve wanted

How bad do you want it and how far are you prepared to go to sacrifice to get it.

I am down but I am far from over

An unwritten rule of life.

On The Line
Tangier

After doing the Philadelphia scene for 5 plus years, the band finally got a chance to showcase for a few labels. ATCO head, Derek Schulman was successful in getting their signature and he got producer Andy Johns from Led Zeppelin fame on board for “Four Winds.”

“On The Line” has a good feel and groove, but man the lyrics about a stranger waiting in the alley way to take your life just don’t do it for me. Only Dee Snider could get away with lyrics like that.

Free’N’Easy
Devils Toy

The Almighty

Ricky Warwick is known today as the lead singer/guitarist for “Black Star Riders” but back in the 80’s/90’s he had a pretty cool band called “The Almighty”.

They were signed by Polydor in March 1989 and recorded their first album, “Blood, Fire and Love” the same year. These songs are from their second album “Soul Destruction” which was released in March 1991. I know I cheated by chucking these ones in the list.

“Everything is so Free ‘N’ Easy”

The modern-day slogan.

Love, only love,
Love is the devils toy

Yes, something so pleasurable has to be evil.

Driving Wheels
Last Frontier
Too Much Ain’t Enough Love
Walk On

Jimmy Barnes

I bet a lot of Journey fans would have no idea the influence of the Journey songwriters on this album. “Freight Train Heart” is the third studio album by Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes.

“Driving Wheels” is written by Barnes, Jonathan Cain and David Roberts. Yep, the same David Roberts who wrote songs for Bad English, Lee Aaron, House of Lords, Signal and Starship.

“Too Much Aint Enough Love” is written by Barnes, Cain, Neal Schon, Randy Jackson (bass player and recently known for his work on American Idol) and Tony Brock (drummer for The Babys and Jimmy Barnes).

“Do or Die” and “Last Frontier” are written by Barnes and Cain.

“I Wanna Get Started with You” is written by Barnes, Cain and Schon.

“I’m Still on Your Side” is written by Barnes, Cain and Jim Vallance. Yep the same Jim Vallance from Aerosmith and Bryan Adams fame.

“Lessons in Love” is written by Barnes, Vallance, Cain and Jeff Neill (Canadian guitarist who had success with Shama and Streetheart. He toured with Jimmy Barnes before dedicating his time to song writing and producing.

“Waitin’ for the Heartache” is written by Barnes and Desmond Child. Yep the same Desmond from Kiss, Jovi and Aerosmith fame.

“Walk On” is written by Desmond Child and Joe Lynn Turner. Yep the same Joe Lynn Turner from Rainbow fame. The track also appears on a Sunstorm album from 2009.

“Seven Days” is a track Bob Dylan wrote for Ronnie Wood.

Jonathan Cain was on hand to produce, however due to interference from Geffen Records and Cain’s creative vision being different to Barnsey’s vision, the album production was brought back to Australia, with Mick Stone producing and a supergroup of musicians playing on it.

It’s the rhythm of the highway
As he rolls on down
And city lights as they fade from sight
Drives the man behind the driving wheels

Truckie lifestyle, hell in the modern world it’s the morning two-hour commute to work for a lot of people.

Well he’s thought about settling down
A little diner on the edge of town
But in this world of push and shove
He’s still got freedom in his blood

The corporations, the banking industry and our leaders don’t like people like this. Hard to control and bring into the system.

The below is from “The Last Frontier”.

The lawless and the brave, searching for a dream
When all they found was sand and stone
Where rivers once had been

Australia was populated by the convicts and the ones who had dreams of a better life outside of the UK.

And suffered in a sunburnt land
Down in the last frontier

Australia is known as the sunburnt land.

And they sent them to another land
Into the greatest fear
To fight and die for freedoms cry
And for the last frontier

The U.K goes to war and their front lines are made up of soldiers from their colonies.

You Won’t See Me Cry
Signal

And if my world should end tonight
When you walk out of my life
You won’t see me cry

And that’s the end of another Forgotten playlist from the 80’s with an exception for “The Almighty” who even though the album was released in 91, it feels like it was heard in the 80’s.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Review in 40 Words, Unsung Heroes

80’s Forgotten Playlist

Spotify Playlist

A lot of good music came out in the 80’s that is more or less lost or forgotten or known as semi-obscure. Hell, there is no way the Spotify algorithm will be able to find it and pick it up.

Blame MTV. The show became popular because it had “hit video clips”. In order to get onto the show, bands needed a hit single. So even though bands went away and recorded a very solid album without any hit singles, the most commercial sounding song and sometimes with the most clichéd lyrics would end up as the single. And if the song resonated, people would highly likely go and check out the album or the back catalogue. This was good for sales and the record labels made a lot of money.

However, the MTV rules still apply today. We’ve come full circle. If you have a hit single today, you will rack up a billion streams on Spotify, which might get people interested into checking out the whole album or the back catalogue. But in most cases, people will be happy with the “hit” single and a lot of music is not heard. Remember a few years ago when Spotify did a check on their data and found over 20 million songs that haven’t even been heard. Think about the number. 20 million songs not even heard. That’s the competition for any new band. With so many bands/artists creating music, how do you rise above the 20 plus million songs that no one has even heard?

Does your latest release just add to the 20 million never heard pile or does it rise above?

And you need people to push it, talk about it and promote it.

Secret Loser
Killer Of Giants

Both tracks are from Ozzy Osbourne’s forgotten “Ultimate Sin” album released in 1986.

“Shot In the Dark” got the glory as the lead single and is probably the reason why the album is not available on CD anymore depending on who you believe. Overland brothers vs Osbourne, or Soussan vs Osbourne, or Overland vs Soussan.

At one stage in the late 90’s, this album was deleted and you couldn’t get any new copies. One of the Australian mags mentioned it’s because of Sharon Osbourne’s contract disputes with Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee. Maybe it was the authorship issue of “Shot In The Dark”.

Who remembers the movie “The Wraith”?

Charlie Sheen stars in it, as a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a car gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers by racing each gang member to death. Well, “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.

How good is the riff?

Trapped in a lonely body
I’m losing control
Can’t show my emotions
And I’m losing my soul
Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease
I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees

Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.

I can understand that what you see
You think is real
But underneath the surface is a wound
That cannot heal

It’s almost like being a fly on a wall in a shrink therapy session. Just imagine the big bad rock star with an image of decadence and debauchery breaking down within the confines of four walls and a chair.

“Killer Of Giants” is as good and as classic as “Diary of A Madman” in my view. Musically, it’s excellent. It’s got that acoustic introduction, social and political lyrics courtesy of Bob Daisley, a great chorus and excellent guitar playing from Jake E. Lee

If none of us believe in war
The can you tell me what the weapon’s for
Listen to me everyone
If the button is pushed
There’ll be nowhere left to run

Daisley, grew up with the threat of the button being pushed. For the generation of today, the threat of nuclear war is in the past, forgotten. Then again, my kids asked me recently, what would happen if we go to war with North Korea?

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Rising so proudly it has nowhere to fall
This killer of giants

At the moment our leaders are having a war of words with “rogue nations”. While sticks and stones hurt, a barrage of words can undo all truth. Especially words tainted with lies. Sometimes, people never recover. Say the right words, make a difference and doors can open. Say the wrong words and watch doors shut and a very darker difference will be seen.

Jake E. Lee got really shafted with his time in Ozzy. He has no song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, which he should. And for “The Ultimate Sin” he has the credits, however the Osbourne camp are doing their best to kill off the album and hide it.

Little Fighter
Cry For Freedom

What can I say about White Lion that I haven’t said before?

With Vito Bratta, the band had one of the best guitarists ever. He knew how to decorate a song and his leads are little masterpieces themselves. The other key ingredient to me was when Mike Tramp wrote lyrics about society, the injustices in society and how if we don’t do something right now to protect our world, there will not be a world to protect.

And maybe these serious themes proved to be the downfall of White Lion. I remember Vito Bratta saying in an interview when White Lion played Castle Donnington. They came on after Skid Row and before AC/DC and while the crowd got into the party lifestyle lyrics of Skid Row and Acca, they just didn’t resonate when White Lion sang about Greenpeace or apartheid in South Africa.

Rise again little fighter
And let the world know the reason why
Shine again little fighter
And don’t let ’em end the things you do

The lyrics are written in a way that it can be about many different situations. It could be an inspirational message to a person who is down on their luck. It could be the words in the head of a boxer after he/she have been knocked to the canvas or words to a child who didn’t make the elite team.

The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free

“Cry For Freedom” is very Dylan’esque in it’s lyrics. South Africa and it’s apartheid policies always made the news in Australia. And when people have nothing else left except to fight for freedom and equality, then there is a high chance they would do so. The truth is, we are never free. Speak to anyone in debt and ask them if they feel free. Our lives are at the mercy of the banking system. In South Africa, racism was used to imprison people.

Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed I face my fellow man

Even in our democratic countries people are jailed for no crimes and unfortunately racism will not go away.

Musically, Vito Bratta kills it. All of those people calling him an EVH clone got no idea. It’s like calling LeBron James the next Jordan. Both can shoot threes, slam dunks and do all of the wonderful things players do. But both are different. Same deal with EVH and Bratta. EVH was technical but more aggressive in his style. Hearing EVH play sometimes, I used to get an image of him punching his guitar. The sense of melody that Bratta exhibits is fluent and theoretical. He worked within the modes most of the time, like Rhoads did which made it very melodic.

Bang Go The Bells
Desperate

Babylon A.D is one of those bands that fall into the “should have made it” category. They even caught the attention of Arista Records president and industry music mogul Clive Davis, who signed them at a live showcase in Los Angeles. Hell, their lyrics suited the era to a tee and the musicianship was/is top-notch. The problem (and not really their fault) is too many bands sounded the same and the music consumers/the fans started to get burned on the scene. “Bang Go The Bells” and “Desperate” are from the debut album, released in 1989.

Here we sit in this smoky bar
Two souls drifting through the world alone
Here we talk about life and love

Loneliness is humanities greatest disease. If someone is there, we wouldn’t be lost in the dangers of our own thoughts.

When your dreams seem far away
Take a moment to look over your shoulder
‘Cause, honey, you know I’m desperate too
Everybody’s desperate just like you

It’s not a sign of weakness to say we don’t want to be alone.

“Bang Go the Bells” is written by vocalist Derek Davis, guitarist Ron Freschi and bassist Robb Reid. “Desperate” is written by Derek Davis and songwriter Jack Ponti. Yes, the same Jack Ponti who co-wrote “Shot Through The Heart” with Jon Bon Jovi and went on to co-write the majority of the “Hey Stoopid” album with Alice Cooper and Vic Pepe.

From a guitar point of view, Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi bring all of the hard rock flavourings to both songs.

Speak For Yourself
Blood Of Emeralds

From Gary Moore. The songs are from “After The War” released in 1989. “Speak For Yourself” is written by Neil Carter and Gary Moore.

How good is the riff?

It’s a speed rock song and it’s lyrics are still relevant today.

Look around across the nation
Another league of morons marching,
Banners in hand.
Looking for another scapegoat,
Try to take away the things they don’t understand.

The older I get, the more I realize, I’ve got no idea where it’s all going and neither do the people we vote in, who are all beholden to the corporation which pays the most.

Somewhere in the darkness,
There’s a voice that’s crying to be heard.
You feel it deep inside you,
A voice that just won’t be denied.

Speak for yourself.
Someone will hear you,
Someone will listen.
Speak for yourself.
Who knows, you might change your world.

So true and so relevant today. People have exercised their voices with votes, but our leaders are not the problem. It’s the rich corporations in the background that are the problem. Then again when you get leaders who came from rich corporations, mmm, what does that say about the state of the world?

But in all seriousness, people power stopped bad legislation in SOPA and PIPA. People power started to ramp up to stop the Trans Pacific Agreement legislation because it was negotiated in secret and with the corporations present and then Trumpy came into power and killed it dead. Only to replace it with something worse, which we don’t know about yet.

They try to take away your freedom.
They try to tell you what you can
Or what you can’t hear.
Don’t let this moral suffocation
Make you turn out just like them,
Is that what they fear?

The internet has given people a voice. In the process a new on-demand culture was created. People are connected socially over vast distances instantly. And we love it. But corporations who have business models based on control don’t like it and they go straight to their lobby groups to get laws written to benefit their business models. They use laws promoted to benefit the people to take away the freedoms of the people.

For example, in Australia, the large retailers lobby group didn’t like Australians purchasing products from overseas at a cheaper price, so they lobbied hard to get a tax added to overseas purchases. In the end, this tax just made the overseas companies set up a presence in Australia as a big FU.

Copyright is morphing into a censorship law. Videos and posts get taken down due to copyright complaints, however when it’s investigated why the video or the post got taken down, it’s found that the person complaining didn’t like what was being said so they used copyright as a censorship tool.

“Blood Of Emeralds” is written by Carter and Moore again and its more or less an autobiographical song about his time with Phil Lynott.

I was down and out on Skid Row,
But I held on to my pride.
The darkest son of Ireland,
He was standin’ by my side.
We would sail the stormy seas.
Never looking back,
We were afraid of what we’d see.
Through the thunder and the rain,
The deepest blood of emeralds
Was running through our veins.

He covers his time in “Skid Row” (not the U.S band), moving on to Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott, the darkest son of Ireland and how they would cross into the U.S.

I was angry, I was sad,
Just thinking about the times we had.
I felt so lost and lonely too,
What could I say, what could I do?
And after all, the time goes by.
No one knows the reasons why.
You lived each day like there was no tomorrow.
You spent those years living on time you borrowed.
And in your eyes, all I could see was sorrow.

Phil’s passing and how it affected him.

Gary Moore in the 90’s went all blues and in interviews after the success of “Still Got The Blues”, he was very hateful to his original (he spoke highly of his covers) 80’s hard rock output. Regardless, Gary Moore (along with John Sykes, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch and Vito Bratta) are big influences to me. My guitar style is basically an amalgamation of those 5 guitarists.

With Spotify these days, I have no idea who plays on the songs, like I did in the past. On this album, Gary Moore had Neil Carter on keyboards, Bob Daisley on bass, Cozy Powell on drums, but Cozy didn’t drum on the two songs mentioned above. That was Simon Phillips, who would do also do work with AC/DC during the “Blow Up Your Video” era and Dio during the “Lock Up The Wolves era plus a tonne of sessions for other artists. Don Airey is also on keys for three songs. Hell, what a supergroup.

I Walk Alone
Badboy Breakout

I must admit I am a sucker for polished hair metal as it became known. “Tear the House Down” was the debut and only release from Hericane Alice and released in 1990 I believe, so I cheated on putting this one in this list. Anyway the band is one of many that got a major label deal late in the 80’s and were largely ignored by the record buying public.

The band was formed in Minneapolis in 1984 and after relocating to LA in 88, they got a deal with Atlantic Records in 1989. After the debut, the band recorded some demos with producer Neal Kernon for album number 2, however the shift in music happened and Atlantic passed on the option.

Sometimes your dreams can come true
You’re in heaven, for so long
Nightmares could happen to you
Just remember, life is long

The above is from “I Walk Alone”.

The career trajectory of Hericane Alice was like a dream come true, getting signed and recording an album with major label backing. However, the heaven of a major label turned into a nightmare.

No one can make it alone. We all need someone to listen to us, someone to speak to when we are down and out. Life is scary. Just google all the studies after studies that talk about suicides. People are killing themselves because they’ve lost all hope.

Meanwhile “Badboy Breakout” while great musically has lyrics about a load that’s ready to explode. Still, I am a fan of hair metal. (what a stupid name for music that’s more or less rock).

Ready Or Not
Sign Of The Times

“Out Of This World” was the follow-up to “The Final Countdown” and Europe needed hits to keep the momentum going.

Released in 1988, “Superstitious” took all the glory right off the bat, while a re-recording of “Open Your heart” failed to inspire the record buying public, except me, who has a 7 inch single of it, along with “Superstitious”. Other singles, “Let The Good Times Rock” and “More Than Meets The Eye” also failed to connect and the album didn’t do as well commercially as the previous album.

But to me, “Ready Or Not” and “Sign Of The Times” are the stand out tracks. But you had to be a fan to hear them as they only appeared on the album.

Rock me till I hit that floor
Rock me till I take no more
Rock this hungry heart of mine
Rock me down right to the ground
Rock me like you never done before
Then rock me just a little more

It more or less sums up the rock and roll show.

“Sign Of The Times” also has a signature keyboard lick that should have been as popular as “The Final Countdown” riff.

It’s the way that we make things right
It’s the way that we hold on tight
I know, it’s the sign of the times
It’s the way that we make things turn
It’s the way that we live and learn
I know, it’s the sign of the times

The sign of the times to me is when all our hope’s run out we just need to love one another to get through the day. It’s the way we live and learn. I guess we need a lot more of it these days.

The World Of You and I

It’s from “In God We Trust” released in 1988. The title track, “Always There For You” and “I Believe In You” might have had the attention and the MTV dial a song codes, but this song is a little melodic rock gem hidden on Side 2. And Stryper didn’t need auto tune to sound so in tune. It was all natural and kudos to Michael Sweet for penning such a gem.

You’re out there all alone
Searching endlessly for a home

There’s nothing like been away from home to actually miss what you have.

We Are Strong

Hurricane had some big name pedigree in it’s ranks. The brothers of Rudy Sarzo (Robert Sarzo) and Carlos Cavazo (Tony Cavazo) took the guitar and bass positions in a role reversal to what their older brothers played. If Rudy played bass, Robert played guitar and if Carlos played guitar, Tony played bass.

“We Are Strong” has got that “You Give Love A Bad Name” vibe and it’s a great piece of melodic arena rock.

Facing hard times
Hold on
Time’s still on our side

It’s easy to walk away and destroy what’s been built. So many walk away for reasons that are important to them and some need to do it to escape a hostile situation.

We’ve got to stick it out

Some might be saying for what. Sometimes people are stronger when they go their own ways, reset and restart.

Cry In Shame

It’s from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors, an Australian guitarist/singer who has this bluesy soul rock vibe that just works. And the problem with Australian artists breaking big in the U.S is the deals they sign with Australian labels, who then make it hard for the U.S labels to get a bigger piece of the contract.

Pickin’ up the pieces
Up off the floor
How was I to know
There was gonna be a war
Words of sorrow
Words of spite
Ringin’ in my head
Right through the night

Who hasn’t been in this situation? For me, it was more in the earlier days. As I get older, certain things that used to bother me don’t even get a blip on my radar.

Up all night
With a conscience fight
Just can’t sleep
So I put on the light

It’s so true after an argument. You can’t sleep as you replay it in your head and you get angry at the missed opportunity to say your piece properly when it mattered.

Time To Surrender

Poor, Kip Winger. His face was on a dart board as Lars Ulrich threw darts at him while Beavis and Butthead created a whole show around him. But man, the dude could sing and along with Reb Beach, they became a pretty good songwriting team, crafting some brilliant AOR/Rock gems. But this song is more in the vein of the hair metal vibe and it works.

The lyrics deal with leaving and someone needing to surrender to keep the relationship going, which at the start it looks like Kip is asking the woman to surrender, but by the end of the song, it’s Kip who has surrendered.

Regardless of the lyrics, the melodies and the music work and it’s a good hidden Winger gem from a pretty excellent debut album.

Rock Me

From Great White’s 1987 album “Once Bitten”.

We’d be so good together if we had the time
‘Cause being alone is a nowhere state of mind

Relationships need time investment. If you are not committed to invest, it normally ends.

I search the world for someone I’ll never find
Someone who ain’t the hurting kind

People get hurt all the time. Physical injuries heal, but our thoughts and feelings also get injured. These hidden injuries never really heal. The anxiety and doubt our thoughts and feelings put forth, amplify if they are not checked.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

When the big chorus comes in, it works to a tee.

Great White in the 80’s and 90’s produced some good output even when the musical climate shifted to Seattle.

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

Run To Paradise

Choirboys are from Australia. This is from their 1987 album “Big Bad Noise”. The song is a classic in Australia, however in other parts of the world it’s unknown or it doesn’t exist. But it should. The song more or less sums up life for a lot of people. It has the partner you liked and how they sort of liked you, the friend who has an addiction problem, the parent who is losing control of their child as they get older and the other friend who drifts away as they get older.

And Paradise can be a city, a town or a place in time in the past that was just perfect, before the big bad world got in the way.

Baby, you were always gonna be the one
You only ever did it just for fun
But you run to paradise

The immortal opening lines of the song. The chord progression is similar to “Crazy Train” moving from the A to the E to the D.

Jenny, I’ll meet you at the grocery store
You don’t need a friend when you can score
You run to paradise

About the friend who isn’t a friend when they are high.

Jesus say’s it’s gonna be all right
He’s gonna pat my back so I can walk in the light
But it’s not alright sometimes.

The Morning After
Closer To My Heart
Looking For Love

“The Morning After” is from the 3x U.S platinum “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. “Closer To My Heart” is from the 2x U.S platinum “Invasion Of Your Privacy” album released in 1985 and “Looking For Love” is from the 1x U.S platinum “Dancing Undercover”.

Let’s start off with “The Morning After”.

How good is that intro riff?

The song is credited to Crosby, DeMartini and Pearcy so I have no idea who wrote the intro riff but as a betting man and after reading Pearcy’s biography, I’ll put money on Crosby as Pearcy described him as the Ratt and Roller Riff Meister.

Also that little harmony lead at the end of the solo is brilliant.

Lyrically, Pearcy talks about going home with someone, lifting skirts and then leaving the morning after, when it’s time.

“Closer To My Heart” is written by Crosby and Pearcy and while it may be classed as a ballad today, it was never viewed as a ballad back in the day.

I listen to you, are you listening to me
The way that you are, it’s easy to see
Feelings for you, now I feel free
I’m lost in time

Love is a two-way street. Both sides have a chance to speak and both sides are meant to listen. In the Ballad of Stephen Pearcy, his partner is not listening to him anymore and he’s fallen out of love.

Indecision, it’s all been heard
No more confusion, the page has turned

Moving on is the hardest thing to do in relationships. Friends pick sides and a sense of familiarity is replaced with the unfamiliar.

“Looking For Love” is written by Crosby, Pearcy and bassist Juan Croucier.

I’m lookin’ for you
You’re lookin’ for me
It’s nothing new
You’re only looking for love
I know it’s true
You know it’s me
I know it’s you
You’re only looking for love

It’s a pop chorus full of clichés and overused rhymes and as good as any pop chorus today. Croucier was also an underrated songwriter within the band, producing a lot of songs and due to whatever politics those songs wouldn’t get considered. So while the singles from the album took all the thunder, the above three tracks should not be seen as poor cousins.

Makin Magic
Flight To Nowhere

Tesla. A massive favourite of mine. Their hard rock vibe mixed with southern rock mixed with Randy Rhoads/Michael Schenker/Angus Young/Eric Clapton guitar playing was huge on my song writing. Hell, I even re-wrote “The Great Radio Controversy” in my own way, meaning I wrote songs similar to all of the songs on this album. And man didn’t this album have some big tunes in “Love Song”, “The Way It Is”, “Heavens Trail”, “Paradise” and “Hang Tough”. But these two songs “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have enough metal in em, to break some teeth and they need more love.

Musically, “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have no filler and are chock full of riffs and great leads and great harmonies. Especially the arpeggiated pull off lick in the “Making Magic” chorus.

Now, I don’t wanna waste your time
I only want to satisfy
So wind me up and watch me go
I’m gettin’ crazy as the night unfolds

Men don’t need much winding up to get going.

I got you, now you got me
Feels so good to be
Makin’ magic, makin’ magic
It ain’t no mystery, come on

Bring on the clichés with heaps of melody. Love it. Moving on to “Flight To Nowhere” .

Look at me, I’m young and bold
Even though I may be growin’ old
I’m never slowin’ down

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it, as you are a long time gone.

Opinion is a piece of mind
Some are good, some are just like
Where the sun don’t shine

So true. Unfortunately, people allow opinions to get the better of them. Treat opinions as just that, opinions, not truth.

Now there’s one more thing I would like to say
This is everybody’s world
And everybody’s gonna live it their own way
No matter what we say, yeah

Be tolerant of all, it’s much better. The sad part is money rules the day and as long as people care more about money, hate will thrive and indifference will not be tolerated.

Troubled minds are full of hate
Willin’ to destroy the human race

The world has vehicles being driven into crowds and bombs going off in crowded market places. What’s next, back to public executions?

(Goin’ down) On a flight to nowhere

Are we too far gone to save ourselves? I don’t believe so.

Midnight/Tornado

From Skid Row’s debut album. After a lot of false starts trying to find the right lead singer that was MTV friendly, Skid Row finally got it going with Sebastian Bach and the recording contract was enacted. But to be honest, I prefer the Brain Fallon demo version found on YouTube. The rawness in Fallon’s voice gave the song what it needed.

Musically and melodically the song is brilliant. Lyrically it talks about a person prowling the streets and coming alive after midnight. Can’t say I am a fan of the words and I would love to hear this song with better lyrics.

Hard As Iron

From the much maligned “Ram It Down” album released in 1988.

I’m blazing on to glory
There’s thunder in my veins
And nothing stands before me
Forever I’ll remain
Hard as iron
Sharp as steel
Stop for no man
You better beg and kneel

Is Halford singing about the metal movement or some mysterious being that’s hard as iron and sharp as steel?

Who cares right?

The song is a five-star speed metal ditty that has all the things in it, people in the 90’s came to hate.

Set The World Afire

From Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988.

Red flesh cloud’s choking out the morning sky
They said it’d never come, we knew it was a lie

Once upon a time nuclear war was the threat in people’s minds. That 80’s TV movie about a nuclear bomb being dropped on a normal U.S town didn’t help either. Today, global warming is a threat. People either don’t care about it or they do, but they shouldn’t ignore it.

Distorted figures walk the street, it’s 1989
Weeds once underneath your feet have grown to vines

It makes me think of the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”.

Dig deep piles of rubble and ruins
Towering overhead both far and wide
Einstein said ‘ We’ll use rocks on the other side ‘
No survivors set the world afire

For all of the drugs and alcohol Mustaine consumed, you would think he would be a vegetable. But he isn’t and his lyrics are evidence of a person who has read far and wide and digested information.

The Transformers Theme

From the 1986 “Transformers” cartoon movie. The movie started off with all of the Autobots fans knew getting killed off in the first 15 minutes. And it’s got a wicked soundtrack, along with Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, this remake of the cartoon theme into a hair metal track also works.

Lion was formed when two UK artists, vocalist Kal Swann and guitarist Tony Smith located to the U.S and teamed up with bassist Alex Campbell and drummer Mark Edwards from Steeler. After the demo was recorded, Doug Aldrich (yes the same Doug Aldrich that went on to join Dio, Whitesnake and now plays with Revolution Saints) was recruited to replace Smith on guitar and basses Jerry Best replaced Campbell.

Now check out the connections between Lion and some of the bands above.

Aldrich would replace Robert Sarzo in Hurricane for one album, “Slave To The Thrill”. Swan and Aldrich would get together with former Hericane Alice members Jackie Ramos and Ian Mayo to form Bad Moon Rising. Jerry Best would later re-appear in Freak of Nature, featuring former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp.

Lioooooon, more than meets the eye…

Hearts On Fire – John Cafferty
No Easy Way Out – Robert Tepper
The Sweetest Victory – Touch

The above three tracks are from the unbelievable and super melodic rock “Rocky IV” soundtrack. Stallone sure knew how to pick a song for his movies. From memory, I believe the movie and soundtrack came out in 1985. I still have the cassette to it and in the 90’s I found the LP in a second-hand record shop. Hell, the Rocky IV soundtrack kick started the melodic rock revolution, especially in Europe.

John Cafferty is the cheaper version of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. If a movie needed a song that sounded like a Springsteen or Adams song, Cafferty was your man. I first came across his music with the “Eddie and The Cruisers” movie and what a soundtrack he wrote for it. “On The Dark Side”, “Season In Hell” and “Tender Years” are as good as all of the hits from the 80’s.

“Hearts On Fire” is not written by Cafferty. In this case he’s just the performer. Actual songwriters are Vince DiCola, Ed Fruge and Joe Esposito. Vince DiCola is the person responsible for the excellent training montage and the end fight music between Rocky and Drago.

Silent darkness creeps into your soul
And removes the light of self-control
The cave that holds you captive has no doors
Burnin’ with determination to even up the score

Doubt leads us to the cave with no doors and even though the cave has no doors, we still cannot escape the darkness of it. Because of doubt and how we let our thoughts control our actions.

How many of our heroes took their own lives?

How many of our friends have taken their own lives?

How many people turn to narcotics to deals with situations?

Dealing with doubt, fear, loneliness, anger and shame is part of life. Those same emotions drive us and they separate us.

And things that give deep passions are your sword
Rules and regulations have no meaning anymore
Let the disappointment lead to inspiration.

Another find from Stallone was Robert Tepper who ended up contributing “No Easy Way Out” to “Rocky IV” and “Angel Of The City” to the “Cobra” movie.

There’s no easy way out there’s no shortcut home
There’s no easy way out givin’ in can’t be wrong

I know the song is about a relationship, however the way Stallone used it in Rocky IV is brilliant. This is the part as he is driving his car. Apollo was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago and Rocky just agreed to fight him in Russia. He gets home and Adrianne confronts him, not happy about that he decided to fight Ivan Drago. So he jumps in his car to clear his head, the music comes on and all these flashbacks start coming back.

And the message the song conveys is that to avenge Apollo’s death, there is no easy way out. Rocky must fight and beat Ivan Drago, which at the point in time in the film looked super impossible.

“The Sweetest Victory” from Touch is another melodic rock gem. I have no other music from this band, except for this one song on the soundtrack. The song has an iconic keyboard riff and a vocal melody that hits the mark.

What Does It Take

By Honeymoon Suite and their “Big Prize” album released in 1986.

If I could grow wings I would do anything
Just to keep you with me
Can’t you see
If I could fly high I would give you the sky
Don’t you make that mistake
It’s your love that I need
What does it take

What a Chorus. Big. Anthemic. Melodic. Tick x 3.

And I just realised that each song I have selected above has some very good guitar playing. Guess I’m a biased listener.

Enjoy.

More parts will follow.

I’m having a shitload of fun living in the 80’s.

Standard
Music

Cry For Freedom

White Lion had the balls to tackle the subject of apartheid when all the other bands in 1989 didn’t. That was a long time ago. 1989. The Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Blues Rock, Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal movements where all riding high, at the peak of their mainstream successes.

It is unfortunate that the Eighties degenerated into a state of generic and clichéd derivative lyrical themes and subjects involving sex, partying and drugs.

When bands branched away from that, it was very hit and miss.

White Lion fell into that crowd of misses as the label “Atlantic” would still push the pop metal or pop rock edge of the band. The tours and marketing had White Lion sandwiched amongst bands like Motley Crue, Skid Row, Kiss, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Blue Murder and Badlands.

Of course, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Kiss, Alice Copper all had big wins in 1989. Whitesnake released a great album however it didn’t get traction. Call it karma for David Coverdale killing off the promotion on the John Sykes, Blue Murder album.

Actually, Blue Murder and Badlands released timeless and serious albums that in 2013 are seen as cult albums.

Music culture was built by artists taking a stand on a subject. The history of rock and metal is littered with bands that made big statements.

It’s the guitar sound. The way it swells and hallucinates with each shifting chord change. You cant help but be drawn in.

“The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free”

Growing up in democracy it was hard to fathom how people could be suppressed and denied rights for such a long time. South Africa was never in the news in Australia. It was like a decision was made from the powers that be that South Africa will not be reported at all costs.

Despite the song having a thread of hope, there is still desperation and the idea that freedom was still far away.

“So stand up and cry for freedom
And keep the dream alive”

“Cry For Freedom” is the kind of track that can be played when any uprising to oppression happens. It could have been played during the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Syrian Civil War. It never loses its power.

“Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed i face my fellow man”

“The children are taken away
And families destroyed
And millions have died from starvation
We can’t go on this way”

And the way it ends, it just makes you want to play it all over again.

Credit Michael Wagener, who produced it and still captured a sound that was rock enough to satisfy the rock community. In the end it makes the track connected to the rest of the album.

The “Cry For Freedom” video has 730,603 views on the 80s Classic Metal channel.

White Lion really tried hard to depart from the rock clichés however the public at that time didn’t want to be reminded about the world. All we wanted back then was to let our hair down and escape from the working week.

Vito Bratta mentioned in his 2007 Eddie Trunk interview that the songs from “Big Game” didn’t really work in a live setting, especially in a rowdy hard rock setting.

It was a concert at the Wembley Arena on Wednesday 01 November 1989 that decided the fate of the album and the rest of the tour.

Mötley Crüe where the headliners with White Lion and Skid Row supporting.

Sandwiched between a wild and energetic Skid Row and a newly sober but still dangerous Motley Crüe, White Lion didn’t have a chance.

Skid Row sang about belonging (“Youth Gone Wild”), sex (“Big Guns”, “Sweet Little Sister”, “Rattlesnake Shake”), street violence (“Piece Of Me”, “18 & Life”) and relationships (“Can’t Stand The Heartache”, “I Remember You”).

White Lion sang about Greenpeace (“Little Fighter”), broken homes (“Broken Home”), organized religion (“If My Mind Is Evil”) apartheid (“Cry For Freedom”), broken romances (“Wait”), sex (“Dirty Woman”, “Hungry”), life on the road (“Radar Love”, “Goin Home Tonight”), a mystic healer (“Lady Of The Valley) and the state of the world (“When The Children Cry”).

All important subjects however the majority of the rock crowd didn’t want to hear heavy themes in 1989 from a rock band. Those kind of heavy themes were coming from thrash metal bands. With the death of Nelson Mandela, this song is back in my life.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

It’s Not The Media’s Job To Keep Artists In The Public Eye. The Difference Between The Past and The Present.

By September 1986, Yngwie Malmsteen had released Trilogy. As a solo artist that was his third long player in the same amount of years. In total, if you include the Steeler and Alcatrazz releases, that made it six long players in four years. You see, back in the Eighties, it was all about the music. That was the only way that artists could get traction back then. It was Malmsteen’s job to keep himself in the public eye.

So what has changed in 2013. Nothing really. It still is about the music. This is what every artist should be doing in this day and age. Releasing music and doing it frequently.

A big difference between the Eighties and Now is the label support. Back in the Eighties, a label would front the money for recording and tour support, with a view to recoup those monies through sales of the long players. It was a deal stacked in the record labels favour. Today, the labels are all about the safe bet, so even though the recording costs are at super lows, it is expected that the artists would front this cost.

Continuing with the Malmsteen example, he released “Odyssey” in 1988 with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. The album became Malmsteen’s most successful album of his career. As soon as he became commercially successful, he fired the singer and started over again.

When shredding and neo-classical went out of fashion in the record label controlled U.S market, Malmsteen still forged a successful career in Europe and Japan during the 1990’s. He remained true to himself and he never sold out to cash in. People might disagree with his comments, I sure do, however when everyone is trying so hard to be liked by all, fans never really get to see the artist beneath the silt.

The world is going through a revolution and it is all about intelligence. That is why when an artist makes a remark, one side of the Internet calls it uneducated. That is why people jumped on Malmsteen’s remarks about piracy.

However it’s not about winning every time. The metal record labels and the artists they sign are still clueless. If the first album is not a success, the label just lets them go. They are playing it safe. What the labels should be doing is allowing the artist they sign to take multiple chances. The artist is not going to take risks if they have only one chance with the Record Label.

That is why all the risk takers in metal music are the outliers, the DIY’ers. Then when they break through, the majors come knocking. Look at the Djent movement. It started in forums and soundboards back in 2004 and just kept on growing. By 2009, most of the labels had a Djent artist on their roster.

Look at Machine Head during 2002 and 2003, financing their own sessions and recording of “Through The Ashes of Empires.” When the album started to get traction, Roadrunner U.S came knocking again.

Look at the TV networks from the Eighties. You had 3 to 4 networks, and they all played it safe. In 2013, you have hundreds of TV channels, all looking for an edge. They are all looking for content, and they are giving cash to talented people to deliver. Netflix is a perfect example of taking risks with innovation and content.

If the record labels want listeners, they need to let artists push the envelope and try some stuff out.

If an artist wants listeners, they need to understand that there is just too much information out there. That is why there are over 4 million songs on Spotify that haven’t even been heard yet. No matter how big a story artists have, they will be pulled under by all the information coming down the cyber pipeline, if their music is not great.

Suddenly the album that the artist worked so hard for is in the rear view mirror, 3 to 4 weeks after it’s been released. The only way that sales and charts matter today, is that it shows all the new product released. That is what the public wants. Something new.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Artists need to create constantly now. That’s the only way you can stay in the public eye, in people’s minds. Robb Flynn is doing this with his journals while the world waits for the album. An artist doesn’t want to be forgotten and the album format unfortunately works against the artist today. Somehow other musicians just don’t know it. They want someone else to do the work for them. They don’t want to try new ways and the new way is to bond with the fans. Robb Flynn gets it.

It’s not the media’s job to keep him in the public eye, it’s HIS!

The number one thing a fan wants is more music by their favourite act.

Dream Theater released an album for a new audience. It is the only thing that John Petrucci talked about. “If someone is hearing the band for the first time” was the catch cry in all the press releases. Forget about the new audience, focus on the old. The old will sell the artist to the new. It’s done through music and connection.

If the artist thinks that they gain traction by hanging with the record label, then they are idiots. They are better off blogging, responding on Facebook, spreading news on Twitter. However, there is a still a misconception that getting your story in the newspaper or in the magazines is a sign of traction. Forget that. When a magazine comes out with a three-month lead time, it’s already old news. The magazine is dead on arrival. No one cares about the stories written by the PR/marketing team of the artist.

The way I see it, if an artist is making an album-length statement, they need to have a story or a concept around it. Otherwise ten tracks strung together is not a concept. If you look at society in general, there is almost no place to buy a CD. The world is moving to streaming. Via mp3’s, people will still download/ cherry pick their favourites and there is nothing that artists can do about it.

Nikki Sixx asked his fans to immerse themselves in the whole album experience. In order for them to do, the album needs to be phenomenal, otherwise the fans will just cherry pick the great and leave the rest to be.

We live in a direct to consumer society. Amazon and Google get it. Some artists get it. What about the rest?

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Angus Young – Guitar World – March 1986 – Part 3

ANGUS YOUNG – RAW ENERGY IS ALL YOU NEED
Guitar World March 1986
By Joe Lalaina

(All parts in Italics and Quotes are from the March 1986 issue of Guitar World)

To this day. Angus continues to play in shorts, every show. However a lot of AC/DC fans say it s a worn-out routine,

“I guess it depends on which fans you talk to,” counters Angus. To me, it’s comfortable. If I took the stage and dressed like any other guitar player. I don’t think I would be able to be myself. The shorts are as much a part of me as my guitar.”

Lalaina is trying to get a reaction from Angus.  I lived through the Eighties, and during this period, glam and hard rock was becoming king.  All the bands had a similar look.  AC/DC didn’t fit this look and a lot of the journalists tried to put AC/DC down.  Even the sales of AC/DC albums started to tank during the Eighties.  It wasn’t until 1990 when AC/DC released The Razor’s Edge that their career was resurrected.  The response from Angus is typical of the attitude in AC/DC.  They never cared for trends.  To quote Frank Sinatra, the did it their way.

“When I first started playing in shorts, it was a challenge. People would say, Hey, this guy’s a clown—here comes Peepo or something. As a result, it made me work harder to prove to the people that I really did know how to play guitar. I just plugged it into the amp and played. I never used any of those wangy’ bars or stuff like that.”

These days, an artist would change who they are, just so they can please.  No one wants to be hated.  Instead of working harder to stay true to who they are like Angus, 99% of wannabe musicians would change.

In fact, Angus hates tremolo units.

” Those things never appealed to me,” he says. “If I want to get a similar kind of sound, I just de-tune the strings. Cliff Richard used to have this guy in his backing band, Hank Marvin, who used that thing on almost every note. He was like a Buddy Holly clone—he used to do these silly little steps. Guys like Hank set the music world back twenty years. I couldn’t believe guitarists like Beck looked at him as inspiration. Whenever I saw guys like Hank Marvin, I would always go in the complete reverse of what they were doing.”

That is what I am talking about.  By 1986, everyone was doing tapping, whammy dive bombs, sweep picking and had racks of gear to rival NASA.  Angus is totally against it, staying true to who he is, keeping it simple, keeping it real.

Angus says his biggest musical inspiration was his brother George Young, who together with Harry Vanda produced the first few AC/DC albums. Vanda and Young, you may recall, were the guitarists in the Easybeats, one of the most successful Australian pop bands of the late sixties.

That is what a lot of people seem to forget or don’t even know about.  Angus and Malcolm Young had a successful older brother. Does anyone remember the working class anthem, Friday On My Mind?

“We learned a lot from George.” says Angus. “He was the first one who said to us, To be different, you must do everything your own way. When he first heard us, he was impressed with the fact that we could take someone’s song—an old standard like ‘Lucille’ or something and make it sound like a new song altogether. George just let us do what we wanted. He didn’t make us put nice melodies in. If anything, he made us toughen our music up.”

“Although George had more experience as a guitarist and a songwriter, he was also a good producer. A lot of people call themselves producers, but in fact they may be more of an engineer, since they know more about sound than about songs or arranging. George knew about everything. A lot of producers can’t even tell you if your guitar is out of tune.”

“George was great to work with in the studio.” adds Angus. “He always said that since we’re a rock and roll band, the less gimmickry, the better. The last album he did with us was our live album back in 78, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It. I remember George saying, “This is the last AC/DC album I’m gonna produce, since you guys already know enough about the type of sound and songs you want.”

I have a strong viewpoint on producers.  A good, smart producer can really get the best out of a band, and to me, they are the real unsung heroes in the history of hard rock and heavy metal music.  George Young, didn’t try to change AC/DC into another Easybeats.  He made them play to their strengths.  He assisted them in making their sound tougher, rawer, edgier and grittier.

After considering a few producers (whom Angus says he would rather not name), AC/DC settled for Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who produced the bands next three albums, Highway To Hell, Back In Black and For Those About To Rock We Salute You. Of these, Back In Black was the most successful, selling a whopping eight million copies.

“That album is our biggest selling album in America,” acknowledges Angus, “but our European fans preferred our early albums. A lot of the sounds on Back In Black are very much like the sounds you hear on the radio these days.”

Mutt Lange, another master producer.  Of course he went on to massive things with Def Leppard, Bryan Adams and Shania Twain.

How many AC/DC fans knew that Lange, produced three AC/DC albums.

Of course, Back In Black has now moved over 30 million units worldwide since its release.  Highway To Hell, the last Bon Scott album has now moved over  10 million units worldwide since its release and For Those About To Rock We Salute You, has now moved over 7 million units worldwide since its release.

It was another super producer, Bruce Fairbairn that helped re-establish AC/DC in the Nineties with the excellent Razors Edge and the classic Thunderstruck.

Could this be why AC/DC decided to produce their last two albums themselves?

“Not really,” says Angus. “We went from working with Mutt to producing ourselves simply because we wanted to. All the material was ready before we went into the studio albums we did with Matt. He left the music to us because he knew what we wanted. But the difference between us and any other band he’s worked with is that he likes to spend a lot of time in the studio, we don’t. I mean, he’s a good producer and he’s good at getting a great performance out of a band, but he spends too much time recording. We can’t stay in a studio for six months to a year on an album – that’s ridiculous.”

Is Angus happy with how Fly On The Wall turned out?

“We think we’ve done a good job and we achieved what we wanted. We just wanted to make a tough and exciting rock and roll record. And that’s what we made.”

Fly On The Wall had two stand out tracks and the rest was filler.  That is why the Who Made Who soundtrack album that came next sold a lot.  Even though it had a two new songs, it was sort of like a greatest hits album, featuring the best AC/DC songs from Back In Black, For Those About To Rock We Salute You and Fly On The Wall.  It also had Ride On from the Bon Scott era.

It wasn’t until The Razors Edge album released in 1990 that AC/DC recaptured the public’s love affair with them.  Since then they have never looked back.  If any young artist is starting out, these articles form the key component to the A to Z of Making It.  Stay true to who you are.  If you do that, and you write great music, an audience will find you.

Standard