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

1979 – The Highway To Hell Begins

I’ve been doing a lot of 80’s reflection on this blog and currently I am up to the year, 1984. As I type up the first blog post for 1984, I also decided to start a 70’s one in tandem. But with a different touch. While the 80’s post ascend yearly, the 70’s posts will descend yearly. So when I start 1985, in tandem I will also start 1978.

So here is the kick off from 1979.

AC/DC – Highway to Hell

Who would have thought that six months after the album release date, Bon Scott would be dead. There is no denying what a massive force he was in the band and since his departure, AC/DC got stuck in recreating the formula of Bon’s intensity with the band. Even down to the lyrics Bon wrote in 1979. Yes, the version of AC/DC post Bon, just wrote songs which had knees rhyming with please and what not.

Mutt Lange is on board to produce at the strong insistence of their U.S record label and it was the start of the holy trinity of albums. Malcolm was less than pleased because it meant older brother George, was no longer involved.

I never purchased this album until the early 2000’s. I just went over to a friends place with a bunch of blank cassettes and I taped every album he had, while we drank beers.

“Highway To Hell” is a rite of passage. It might have been about touring, however timeless songs have lyrics that can be interpreted in many different ways. The riff to kick it off is iconic. Credit Malcolm.

Livin’ easy, Livin’ free

Those words are exactly how we want to live life. Easy living. Free living. But it isn’t so. Nothing is free in life and nothing is easy. The people born between 1948 and 1962 inherited a rich country and bankrupted it. They first got into government by the early 80’s and by the mid 90’s they had the power.

What did they do when they had the power?

Pass laws and regulations to benefit their bank accounts and the bank accounts of their sponsors. If they did something wrong, the taxpayer would bail them out.

I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell

The Satanic panic begins. If this was played backwards, the subliminal message would say, “lleh ot yawhgih eht no”. Ohh, it’s so dangerous.

No stop signs
Speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down

Nobody does this anymore. I tell my kids they go to school to learn, not to get a job. But people I speak to always tell me that schools are there for people to get a job. You see, money is more important than developing yourself and experiencing life.

Payin’ my dues
Playin’ in a rockin’ band
Hey, mamma
Look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land

It’s why music was great. People paid their dues. It didn’t mean they would make it, or be global superstars. Hell, it didn’t mean they would make a living wage. But they could have. Bon’s lyrics are a lifestyle and six months later, Bon Scott, would be on his way to the promised land.

“Girls Got Rhythm”

I been around the world
I’ve seen a million girls
Ain’t one of them got
What my lady she got

Only Bon could get away with confessing his cheating ways to his real love back in Oz via a song and still be in a relationship.

Love me till I’m legless
Achin’ and sore

Is this even possible anymore?

Everyone is too busy parading on social media, joining movements of empowerment. There is no time for loving until the morning light.

“Touch Too Much”

Seems like a touch, a touch too much
Too much for my body
Too much for my brain

Only Bon can put his bedroom ways into a song like this. In this case, the woman is just too much for him. He can’t handle her.

“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”

It’s animal
Livin’ in the human zoo
Animal
The shit that they toss to you
Feelin’ like a Christian
Locked in a cage
Thrown to the lions
On the second page

Quick, call in the political correct activists.

Life is like living in a cage that you pay for, your whole life and you never really own it. The crap they toss at us, is the wage we get for building someone else’s dream and we have three options, leave and try to build our dreams, stay and work on the side to build our dreams or just stay and be a slave. Because the system is designed to benefit the companies. If you don’t have a weekly wage, you cannot get a loan.

Pink Floyd – The Wall

“The Wall” is Roger Waters lasting legacy. But the best song on the album to me is “Comfortably Numb” written by Gilmour and Waters. Credit producer Bob Ezrin for persisting to get Gilmour’s music on the record. But it was “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” that was all over the radio.

“Another Brick In The Wall, Pt 2”

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control

The rally cry against the institutions. Producer Bob Ezrin also produced some of Alice Cooper’s earlier work. On “School’s Out”, Ezrin had children sing on a chorus. On the “Destroyer” album from Kiss, Ezrin used his own kids to tell horror stories, on “God of Thunder”. It worked before and with “Another Brick In The Wall” it worked even better.

All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

More so today than before. We might have had stricter teachers and parents in the past, but we still explored and made our own way. The kids these days are told they need to go to University to get a job. It wasn’t the case when I was young. People went to higher education to expand their minds and walk different paths. Instead today, our universities are factories to produce like-minded individuals.

All I hear today is how education rules, but once upon a time people became self-educated without education, and they had the heart and voice to question authority and all the established norms.

“Goodbye Blue Sky”

It’s the inspiration for “Fade To Black” from Metallica.

Did did did did you see the frightened ones
Did did did did you hear the falling bombs
Did did did did you ever wonder
Why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky

I studied WWII in History, however our focus was more on Australia’s involvement. But we still read the text about the London Bombings. And if we didn’t read the text, we had “Aces High” to listen to and digest, which also covered the London Bombings. And who can forget “Churchill’s Speech”. Only a metal band can take a politicians speech and make it even more legendary.

“Goodbye Cruel World”

You can hear the inspiration for “In the Presence Of My Enemies” by Dream Theater, and lyrically, you can hear similar themes and rhymes appearing in Metallica’s lyrical output on the “Ride The Lightning” album.

Goodbye cruel world
I’m leaving you today
Goodbye
Goodbye all you people
There’s nothing you can say
To make me change
My mind
Goodbye.

So many people are checking out these days.

Is it the upbringing?

From the 90’s, every kid was told how perfect they are, how great they are and even when they failed or didn’t succeed, they still got told how great and perfect they are.

How is a child meant to build resilience and a growth mindset if there is no challenge set in front of them?

There are no easy answers.

“Hey You”

Hey you, out there on the road
Always doing what you’re told
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall
Breaking bottles in the hall
Can you help me?
Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall

So much power in the final verse. It covers obedience, living a life controlled by the state and dreaming of a revolution.

“Comfortably Numb”

It’s written by Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters and my favourite song because of the excellent outro lead break.

Hello
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?

The mind, the spirit and the soul are three powerful revolutionaries. They need to be suppressed if governments want to exist.

O.K.
Just a little pinprick
There’ll be no more aaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick

The injection to numb and control.

I have become comfortably numb

Nothing else needs to be said and then the end lead break from Dave Gilmour kicks in. Just sit back, close your eyes and enjoy.

“I banged out five or six solos. From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’”
David Gilmour https://www-guitarworld-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.guitarworld.com/.amp/artists/100-greatest-guitar-solos-no-4-comfortably-numb-david-gilmour?

Judas Priest – Hell Bent for Leather/Killing Machine

This album had two different titles depending on the region it was released. “Killing Machine” all around the world and “Hell Bent for Leather” in the U.S. I didn’t get this album until well into the 90’s.

Delivering The Goods

It’s written by the holy trinity song writing team of Rob Halford, K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. The first time I heard this song was via Skid Row’s “B-Side Ourselves” EP. I enjoyed the Skid’s live take on it, so I went seeking for the album in the second hand record stores. I actually own both copies, the “Killing Machine” version and the “Hell Bent For Leather” version.

Shake down, rock ’em boys, crack that whip strap mean
Pulse rate, air waves, battle lies in every place we’ve been
Stealing your hearts all across the land
Hot blood doing good, we’re going to load you with our brand

It’s exactly how heavy metal and hard rock took over the world in the 80’s. Place by place, city by city, house by house.

Leaving your heads
Crushed out on the floor
Begging for mercy
Be careful or we’ll do it some more

Quiet Riot might have had a hit song with “Bang Your Head” and Drowning Pool in the late 90’s/early 2000’s hit the mainstream with “Bodies” and the catchcry, “Let the bodies hit the floor” but Judas Priest from day zero always had moshing and head banging in their songs.

You better watch out and hold on tight
We’re heading your way like dynamite
Uhhh, Delivering the goods

And the live show was just that. A band, turning up and delivering the goods. AC/DC’s first U.S show was played to less than ten people. After the first set, those people vacated the building only to return minutes later with many more. And the rest is history.

Hell Bent For Leather

This one is written by Glenn Tipton.

The riff is iconic. If you want to understand how iconic and how many derivative versions this derivative riff spawned, check out my post on it..

Wheels! A glint of steel and a flash of light!
Screams! From a streak of fire as he strikes!

Any fan of “Under The Blade” from Twisted Sister would also know the above lyric.

Hell bent, hell bent for leather

Simple and effective.

Black as night, faster than a shadow
Crimson flare from a raging sun
An exhibition, sheer precision
Yet no one knows from where he comes

The song’s story has been re-written many times by Judas Priest. A few that come to mind are “Screaming For Vengeance”, “The Sentinel” and “Painkiller”.

In relation to guitar playing, Glenn Tipton always kept an eye and ear out for what was hot in guitar circles and he would go away, master these new styles and incorporate those influences and styles into his guitar playing. In this case, he breaks out a tapping lick which was obviously influenced by EVH. On albums from the mid 80’s, Tipton would start to incorporate sweep picking courtesy of Yngwie Malmsteen’s influence.

Burnin’Up

How can you not like the “Walk This Way” riff merged with the “Superstition” riff from Stevie Wonder merged with the “Play That Funky Music White Boy” riff?

The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)

It’s a Fleetwood Mac cover song written by their original and largely forgotten guitarist Peter Green, and it works pretty cool in the hands of Judas Priest. It’s not out of place at all in the pantheon of songs written by Judas Priest.

I had to Google “manalishi” and the first search item that comes up is a Wikipedia page for the song. This is what Wikipedia tells me;

“The song was written during Green’s final months with the band, at a time when he was struggling with LSD and had withdrawn from other members of the band. While there are several theories about the meaning of the title “Green Manalishi”, Green has always maintained that the song is about money, as represented by the devil. Green was reportedly angered by the other band members’ refusal to give away their financial gains.”

There was something really out there about the late 60’s and early 70’s period. Every songwriter was experimenting with different narcotics so they could tap into some state of the brain, which would help them be even more creative.

Running Wild

The intro riff is another riff to rule them all. You can hear where Iron Maiden took inspiration from for the “The Wicker Man”. Quick call the lawyers. Then again, i am sure someone will. It’s another cut written solely by Glenn Tipton and he covers themes which in the 80’s became the norm.

No chains can hold me down
I always break away
I never hear society
Tell me what to do or say

The idea of being able to live your life the way you want to live it is our greatest invention. It is the bedrock of our culture. And these days more than ever, these ideals and rights have become inconvenient to our leaders who only serve the corporations or come from the corporations. And it’s precisely why we have to work so hard to defend them.

I rebel but I walk tall
And I demand respect

Fitting in seems like a good way to earn trust. How many people sit back and don’t do anything to draw attention to themselves, just in case they are left out. The philosophy is simple, go along with the crowd and you will get ahead. But the truth is, no one can fit in all the way. People can choose to stand out, be respectful and challenge the status quo.

Journey – Evolution

It has “Lovin, Touchin’ Squeezin’” but it’s not my favourite. The three listed songs are for various reasons.

Lovin’ You Is Easy

The music is upbeat and infectious and it’s always good to hear Schon rocking out.

Do You Recall

The melodies in this song appear in a lot of Jovi songs.

Yes, it’s the lovin’ things
That keeps us wondering

Lady Luck

This song grooves, taking its cues from the hard rock stylings of Led Zeppelin.

The Police – Reggatta de Blanc

The Police to me, didn’t really write a perfect album from start to finish, but man could they write classic tracks.

Message In A Bottle

The intro is the first thing that hooks me. And it’s guitarist Andy Summers who saves the day with his add9 chord voicings over a simple bass groove.

I’ll send an SOS to the world

Sending out a message to the world today is easier than ever. We are all hooked up, ready to go.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Who knows, but to participate, we need to give away some of our privacy and people get a look into our lives.

Walked out this morning, I don’t believe what I saw
Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone in being alone
Hundred billion castaways looking for a home

Today we live in a social media society. We have friends and likes. For some, this is fulfilling and for others they feel even more isolated and lonely. In the end, we all castaways looking for a home. Sometimes we find it, sometimes it takes a few turns to find it. Eventually we find our home.

Whitesnake – Lovehunter

I didn’t hear this album until very late in the 90’s. Hell, I was buying so many second hand LP’s from record fairs and second hand book shops, I can’t even place a memory as to when I purchased it. I was always a sucker for the $1 bins.

Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues

Written by David Coverdale and the underrated Bernie Marsden.

I love the blues, they tell my story
If you don’t feel it you can never understand

It all started with the blues. Rock was built on the bones of the 30/40’s blues artists. Metal was also built on the bones of those same artists, along with the defiance and rebellion of rock music. Without the blues, the music I listen to, would not be possible.

‘Cause I love the life I live, I’m gonna live the life I choose

My Dad knew what he was talking about, but I was too full of youthful energy to really listen and heed his warnings. You only have one life, so live it the way you want to live it. It’s easier said than done, but achievable and it starts with control.

Do you have control of your life, so you can make the right decisions or is your job and your commitments to banks and credit companies controlling you?

Once you give up control, your life path changes.

All of my life I’ve had the same reputation
I’ve been the black sheep of the family all along
I never know if in my heart I’m really guilty
But I’ve been accused of never knowing right from wrong

The themes are still relevant. When the youth don’t conform to the wishes of the elders, they are always seen as black sheep’s.

Medicine Man

It’s written by David Coverdale who is a pretty cool guitar player in his own singer/songwriter way. Lyrical, he’s the doctor of love, the medicine man who is always there to satisfy. Musically, it’s just a feel good jam song.

Mean Business

Lyrically Coverdale has his love gun loaded and ready to fire if the lady he’s with doesn’t mean business. Musically, it’s very “Ballroom Blitz” like in its pace and feel.

Love Hunter

In “Love Hunter”, DC is needing a woman to treat him good and to give him everything a good woman should, because she would be waiting for her brown eyed boy to come home and treat her right.

Do you reckon these lyrics will work today?

Maybe not.

Then again what about this one?

In my time I’ve been a back door man

Outlaw

I took to the highway,
Chasing my dream down the line

Does anyone do this anymore?

I keep on reading reports of kids staying at home with their parents well into their 30’s. Is this because parents have too much control and have taken away the right for their child to make a decision.

Outlaw – born outside of the law,

All the rockers and metal heads are outlaws.

I’ve always been a dreamer,
Dreamers find it hard to survive

You need to act if you want your dreams to come true.

Rock N Roll Women

About groupies.

I’m looking for the promise of a one night stand
So I’m going looking for those rock ‘n’ roll women tonight

That’s all DC wants, a good time with no strings attached.

KISS – Dynasty

One of the first albums I owned from Kiss and i played it to death, so it’s no surprise I have a few songs from it on my list. Other friends I know hate this album and the debates between albums is always fun. I always saw the debates like this.

“Dynasty” is my first Kiss album, so by default I dropped the needle on it a lot. However, most of friends had “Love Gun” or “Destroyer” as their first Kiss album and they dropped the needle on those albums a lot.

“I Was Made for Loving You”

It was the obvious single, and the unexpected hit, written by Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia and Desmond Child. Stanley also performs bass duties on this one. Seriously, if you were a fan of Kiss before this song, how can you not like the poppy chorus. Some of the best pop songwriters hung up their pens and pads after this. (Maybe not, but you get the point).

For me, the melodies are great, but the lyrics are crap.

Sure Know Something

Written by Stanley and Poncia, this is another song hated by “fans” who cried sell out. To me, it’s a mixture between melodic rock, disco and new wave. In the end, it’s still Kiss. It has all the ingredients of crap lyrics and great melodies. The bass groove is unique and the lead guitar break from Stanley is worth the listen.

Dirty Livin’

This is an excellent track. It could have been on a Steely Dan album or a Doobie Brothers record. Instead it’s on a Kiss record and it rocks. Peter Criss sings, it and he co-wrote it with Stan Penridge and Vini Poncia.  It’s actually the only track that Peter Criss drums on. Anton Fig played drums on all of the other songs.

Magic Touch

Solely written by Paul Stanley this track comes loaded with a melodic riff and a pop melody. Still to this day it’s a favourite, purely for its sense of melody.

Hard Times

Ace Frehley wrote it, he sings it and he plays all the guitars. It’s another Kiss rocker. All the pieces are here.

The hard times are dead and gone
But the hard times have made me strong

Damn right they did.

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

Forgotten 80s List Part 3

Here is the playlist.

Forgotten songs from the Eighties are still on my mind. Here is another list of songs that should end up on your playlist one way or another.

The problem with the below songs is they were dwarfed by other “MTV” single songs or just bad promotion from the record label.

Out On The Streets
King Of The Fools

Twisted Sister

Twisted Sister knew which road they needed to take to make it. Now that they made it, what was next? Which road should they take? Bob Ezrin was approached to produce the album and after hearing the demos he didn’t hear a hit, so he passed. Hindsight and the passage of time points to Dee losing his way and anger at the world, but to me, the songs on “Come Out and Play” (except for “Leader” and “Be Cruel”) are as strong as the songs on “Stay Hungry”.

I believe it was poor record label decisions to release “Leader of the Pack” as the opening single. And to be honest “Be Cruel to Your School” is one of the weaker tracks on the album for me and never should have been a single.

“Come Out And Play”, “The Fire Still Burns” and “I Believe In Rock’N’Roll” are favourites of mine from the album and they got played live. “Out On The Streets” and the bonus track “King Of The Fools” do not get any love, hence they are on this list.

I’ve always dug a song that starts off with bass and drums. Then the vocal melody kicks in and then the guitars. “Lost Behind A Wall” from Dokken also comes to mind.

Searching for something in this human zoo
Kaleidoscope of faces, maybe, it might be you

I had to look up “kaleidoscope” in the dictionary. I had no idea what it meant. After I digested the meaning, it made the lyric even better.

Someone listen to my prayers
Can’t help feeling no one cares

The biggest fear is loneliness. We want someone to care for us, even more so for people who reached the top in their chosen field.

You’re out on the streets, living on your own

I’ve always taken this lyric to mean; away from home and the comforts of our loved ones. Look at any lyric from a rocker who spends a lot of time on the road touring and you will see how much it pains them. They turn to drugs as a supplement and sometimes when they are alone in their hotel room, away from everyone, their thoughts get the better of them.

My cousin Mega is a huge Twisted fan. He even tattooed the logo on his shoulder. So Mega had the album upon release, plus the VHS video. So I dubbed the LP on cassette and I also dubbed the VHS video onto a blank video tape until I had enough funds to purchase the original. So a few months after release, I purchased the LP. Many years later, well into the 90’s I came across a CD version of “Come Out And Play” via the second hand record shops. The almost faded sticker of “Bonus Track” was enough incentive. And “King Of the Fools” is that bonus track and man what a track it is.

The harmony guitars to kick it off, remind me of “Bringin On The Heartbreak” by Def Leppard. They sound epic, grand and they set the tone for a monster of a song that for some reason, the guys in the band nor the record label didn’t see fit to put on the normal album release. Sort of like how Bon Jovi left “Edge Of A Broken Heart” off the “Slippery When Wet” album and left “Social Disease” on it.

Look around me all I see
Thousands of faces wanting me
How can I lead?
How can I rule?
When I’m the king of the fools

We strive to make it, to be successful. And when we get there, we suddenly have people waiting to see what our next word will be, our next song and so forth. Suddenly doubt is everywhere. Conflict is everywhere. We turn to addictions to numb the pain. We want to be on the road, we want to be adored, we want to play shows, yet we don’t want to be away from our families.

The outside world can’t understand
Just who we are or what I am
Well, we don’t want their life or rules
I’ll be the king, king of the fools

Again, it’s the us (the SMF’s) vs them (the institutions, the government, the mainstream) mentality. It’s the expectations of society vs the dreams of youth. We have different viewpoints, we have different needs so we are seen as fools by the institutions. If the institutions see us as fools, then our idols are our Kings’.

Fight For Your Rights
Motley Crue

Sometimes it makes you wonder how a band with so many addictive personalities can get it together to churn out an album. “Theater of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” have a certain reputation as the “more filler” albums in Motley Crue’s 80’s output. It comes as no surprise that these “more filler” albums occurred at the height of the bands addictions.

But putting aside people’s viewpoints, each album has a few cult like gems. On a previous “Forgotten” post, I sang the praises of “Dancin On Glass” from the “Girls” album. On this post, “Fight For Your Rights” from the “Theater” album gets some love.

How good is the intro/verse riff?

Who wrote the Bible?
Who set the laws?
Are we left to history’s flaws?

We live in a world created by the religion institutions’ and the ones who control the wealth. And throughout the ages of times, documents got produced on how people should live. Eventually those documents became important to the detriment of any other document that challenged it.

Fight (fight) for your rights

Dee Snider turned up to the hearings against censorship, others wrote songs about it.

Martin Luther
Brought the truth
The color of our blood’s the same

So true. We all bleed red.

So break the chains
And solve the pains
And we all become one race

It’s easier said than done. These days it’s everybody against everybody. People of the same colour are against people of their own colour as well as people of different races. Then you have people against people because of religious beliefs or relationship preference. Then you have people against people because of social status. In my view, money is a bigger evil today.

Waiting For Darkness
Ozzy Osbourne

Even though Ozzy Osbourne is listed as the only songwriter, it’s well known that Bob Daisley wrote the lyrics and Jake E. Lee along with Daisley wrote the music. The guitar playing is what hooked me onto this song. The palm muted staccato lines in the verses from Jake over a syncopated bass/drum groove is just brilliant. So once I unpacked the riffage, I started listening to the lyrics and the vocal melodies.

Waiting for darkness
Why doesn’t anybody see now?
Deafened by silence
Why doesn’t anybody hear?

It’s easy to place this lyric with the lifestyle of Ozzy. Due to his addictions and constant toxic state, you can imagine many days and nights spent in a drug induced darkness. Deafening silence means a lack of response that reveals something significant, such as disapproval or a lack of enthusiasm from those who surround you or love you. So you have Daisley writing about a darkness to come, and everybody is too busy to care. Sort of like how people don’t care how their private data is gathered and sold by the large internet corporations. Sort of like how people don’t care about net neutrality. Until it’s too late.

We’re hardwired to believe and understand the things we experience, so we experience the internet and we like it. But there is a battle happening over the control of the internet and people just don’t care.

I know what they’ll find
It’s in their mind
It’s what they want to see
Spare me from the light
Here comes the night
And here I’ll stay waiting for darkness

This is all about people who don’t care to see the truth. What they’ve been told from birth and from their tribe is what will remain with them forever.

Promise me rebirth
And then you tear me from the womb
Give me my freedom
And then you lock me in a tomb

The way of the world is more pure in books of fiction. The non-fiction reality version is very different. A lot of the songs I like deal with how “we believe we are free but really are not”. It’s not coincidental. The more I get older, the more I realise how free I’m not. Like how Hetfield sang in “The Unforgiven”, “New blood joins this Earth and quickly he’s subdued”.

That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ‘ N’ Roll
AC/DC

From 1988’s “Blow Up Your Video” album. It was released as a single, however “Heatseeker” was doing a decent job taking all the limelight, this little ditty got ignored.

Party gonna happen at the union hall
Shaking to the rhythm ’til everybody fall
Picking up my woman in my Chevrolet
Glory hallelujah, gonna rock the night away

The scene is set. We have Brian picking up his woman, to take her to a party at Union Hall and rock the night away until they fall.

Told boss man where to go
Turned off my brain control
That’s the way I want my rock and roll

There it is again. The “We’re Not Gonna Take It” call to arms. We will not be used and we will not allow the people in power to control us.

Young Lust
Aerosmith

Like “Permanent Vacation” before it, “Pump” had some monster songs that stole all the glory like “Love In The Elevator”, “Janie’s Got A Gun”, “The Other Side” and “What It Takes”. And when that happens, it’s easy for songs to get lost or become forgotten. But “Young Lust” is the opener. In the minds of Tyler and Perry, it was good enough back then to open the god damn “Pump” album and today it gets no listens. To me, it’s just a pure party rock and roll anthem and Joey Kramer again goes to town on the drums, with his double kick underpinning the groove and tempo of the song.

A little bit o’ nasty
You look a little sleazy
But don’t get any on you

Is that what Bill said to Monica?

Young lust
Once you had it you can never go back

It’s totally wrong this lyric.

Checkin’ out the ladies
Who didn’t bring their boyfriends
Who love to get in trouble
I got to say I’ll see you later, meet me in the elevator

Tyler’s elevator fetish gets a prequel.

Young lust
I’m a-pushin’ and a-shovin’ it

Only Tyler can get away with lyrics like these.

One In A Million
Guns N Roses

This one is from the “Lies” EP released I think in 1989. I can Wikipedia it, but screw it, I’m running on fumes at the moment. I remember reading the stories about the “controversial” lyrics, especially the lines around “Immigrants and faggots” and “police and niggers”. But really, are the lyrics that controversial. There is always someone who gets upset at something. Basically, there is just no way one person/artist can make every single person in the world love them. It’s impossible.

Police and Niggers, that’s right
Get out of my way
Don’t need to buy none of your
Gold chains today

Is Axl a racist?

Maybe.

Is he trying to address some social ills with the verse above about a class divide?

Maybe.

You need to remember, this song came out in 1989 and there is a good chance the lyrics were written sometime in the 80’s. The L.A police during this period made a name for themselves as being pretty heavy when it came to dealing with citizens. And from the stories we kept seeing on the news, the police in L.A didn’t do themselves any favours. NWA wrote a cult classic about doing something with the police in LA. All of this bubbled to the surface when a video was released of the police beating Rodney King with clubs. What happened after that? Riots in L.A. A “Hooligan’s Holiday”. The nigger part is playing to a stereotype and a better word could have been used, but Axl was never about conforming.

You’re one in a million
Yeah, that’s what you are
You’re one in a million, babe
You’re a shooting star
Maybe someday we’ll see you
Before you make us cry
You know we tried to reach you
But you were much too high

The Chorus didn’t make much sense due to the extreme nature of the verses, but many years later it does. It’s basically saying, if you want to be a star, you are one of many in this world. And if you want your 15 minutes of fame, you are in competition with all of the problems of the world for people’s attention.

Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini Iran,
Or spread some disease
They talk so many goddamn ways
It’s all Greek to me

What a verse?

Talk about moving a conversation forward. I remember reading how ignorant Axl is and what not because of this verse, but in the end he was speaking a truth that he saw.

Isn’t that the artists credo, to knock down doors and be yourself.

I am sure millions will agree with what Axl meant about “starting a mini Iran”. Each race has a small faction of people who are so far removed from the conversation, their ideology is the only way. The problem is when that race has 100 million people worldwide, 10% is a small faction as a percentage, but in people numbers it’s large. And I always wonder. People come to democratic countries to escape the horrors of their own home and then they try their best to turn the streets of the democratic country that took them in, into the war torn streets of their homeland.

Radicals and Racists
Don’t point your finger at me
I’m a small town white boy
Just tryin’ to make ends meet
Don’t need your religion
Don’t watch that much TV
Just makin’ my livin’, baby
Well that’s enough for me

If we want a better future, it helps to be able to see the world as it is. Watching a news program is seeing the world as the news program wants you to see it. Reading a news article is seeing the world as the writer of the news article wants you to see it. Seeing a Travel video is seeing the world as the people who made the travel video want you to see it. You need to get out and see with your own eyes the world. Just don’t get run over by a mad man in a van.

Mine All Mine
Van Halen

I know it was a single, but in all seriousness, a lot of the singles from “5150” were still on the airwaves along with “When It’s Love” and “Finish What Ya Started” from “OU812”. “Jump” and “Panama” also had traction. So “Mine All Mine” just percolated outside the Van Hagar Halen hit factory.

The drumming is frantic, making a clichéd keyboard riff sound heavy as hell.

Oh, you’ve got Allah in the east
You’ve got Jesus in the west
Christ, what’s a man to do?

The problem with the world summed up in three lines. And it all boils down to a belief system.

Stop lookin’ out, start lookin’ in
Be your own best friend
Stand up and say, “Hey! This is mine!”

There it is in a nutshell. Stop looking out and start looking in. Don’t worry about what the person next door does or what they have. Focus on what you have and focus on what you can control. In the end, if you don’t like the state of the world, with the whole world at your fingertips, you will be able to find other voices to stand up with you when the time comes to raise your voice.

How good is the guitar solo from EVH?

Sometimes he goes all crazy and plays leads with reckless abandonment and sometimes he delivers melodic gems within his own theatrical style.

Standing In The Shadow
Guilty Of Love
Kittens Got Claws
Wings Of The Storm

Whitesnake

Is there a more broken hearted person than David Coverdale?

“Standing In The Shadow” is from 1984’s “Slide It In” album and it’s written by Coverdale.

I’m running away from a feeling
Hiding my face in the sand
I’m scared to love and lose again
I don’t know if I can

It’s that moment in time after a relationship has ended. You are hurting and you feel betrayed. Then you come across someone who rekindles the fire. But you are still hurting and after being burned once, you are fearful to jump in, just in case it leads to another broken heart.

Life is short, so you need to live it. And that means, putting the fear away.

Too many people
Standing in the shadow
Standing in the shadow of love

It’s like sitting on the sidelines and assessing the situation for the right time to re-join the game.

“Guilty Of Love” is from the same album and how cool are the guitar harmonies at the start, which again are written by Coverdale.

I believe my love for you
Is a love that will last forever?
And I’m here to testify
I’m a prisoner of your heart

When you fall in love, your heart becomes a captive to the other half. And when the relationship ends, it hurts.

Baby, don’t you believe when I tell you I love you
That I really mean it
Don’t you walk away?
Don’t you turn your back on me?

I guess we don’t really know what we got until it’s gone.

“Kittens Got Claws” is from “Slip Of The Tongue”, the follow-up to the mega 1987 self-titled album. Coverdale selected Adrian Vandenberg as his co-writer for this album. It would have been interesting to see how the songs would have sounded if Coverdale used Vivian Campbell as well, but it was not to be. Regardless, Vandenberg as co-writer is involved in some epic songs. Let’s not forget the title track “Slip Of The Tongue”, “Judgement Day”, “Sailing Ships”, “Now You’re Gone” and “The Deeper The Love”. But to me “Kittens Got Claws” is just a fun track to listen to and tap your foot to.

Walking down the street
You’re the center of my universe
You got the world in your pocket,
My manhood in your purse
You ain’t a bad girl, honey,
No matter what the neighbours say,
It’s just that you were those skin-tight dresses
With your G-string tuned to “A”

How good is the “G-string tuned to A” line?

Brilliant.

“Wings Of The Storm” is another little gem largely forgotten. It’s heavier and speedier and far removed from the blues based Whitesnake but man it’s a pretty good listen. It’s pedal point heaven for a guitarist.

On an’ on, the road goes on,
An’ it’ll go on forever,
Time will show if you and I
Will walk that road together

Almost 6 years later, Coverdale is still in a spot of bother when it comes to his love life.

It’s unfortunate that Geffen Records became a label that focused more on the results, totally ignoring the community and what customers of their artists could like. David Coverdale built a community around Whitesnake and a trust with the fans. And the labels just abandoned the artists at will. To me community and trust is more important than results, hence the reason why Whitesnake still rolls today.

Rock Me To The Top
Before My Eyes

Tesla

“Rock Me To The Top” is written by vocalist Jeff Keith and estranged guitarist Tommy Skeoch. The riff is foot stomping hard rock to a tee.

I’ll take command, take control
Now I see you comin’ back for more
I see you like it, but you don’t need it
Ooh you wanna feel it

Yep, I’m pretty sure Jeff Keith is singing about the original meaning of rock and roll and not the musical form.

“Before My Eyes” is written by guitarist Frank Hannon, along with Jeff Keith, Tommy Skeoch and drummer Troy Luccketta. To me, it’s the feel of the song that captures my attention more so than the lyrics. It reminds me of Y&T and it feels sad and spacey. Lyrically I’m not a fan, but musically I am all in.

Tomorrow
Naked City
Exciter
I’ve Had Enough
King Of The Mountain
My Way
Silver Spoon

Kiss

Kiss didn’t sell a lot of recorded music product compared to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and other large 70’s acts. But they are still seen as one of rocks biggest groups in the 70’s and maybe the entertainers of that decade. But by the end of 70’s and the start of the 80’s they got eclipsed by Disco, New Wave Pop, the NWOBHM and the L.A scene. Suddenly it looked like the band was in the rear view mirror. Original band members “officially left” even though they really left recording new music with the band a long time again. But with each album they dropped in the 80’s, they continued their evolution. “Lick It Up”, “Creatures Of The Night”, “I Still Love You”, “I Love It Loud”, “Crazy Crazy Nights” and “War Machine” are concert staples.

Here are a few gems a bit outside of Kiss’s comfort zone which had enough rock in em to keep me satisfied.

“Tomorrow” and “Naked City” come from the “Unmasked” album released in 1980. Both tracks merge the current pop trend with the distorted rock they are known for. I was late to the party on this album, hearing it in its entirety in the early 90’s.

“Tomorrow” is written by Paul Stanley and Vince Poncia and Stanley even plays bass guitar. You need any more evidence of dysfunction, here you have it.

I didn’t know just what to say
When you turned and you looked my way
It doesn’t happen to me every day
Can we talk a while?

I used to think that all of the rock stars had all the lines and moves covered when it came to love. In the end, they are all tongue-tied and error prone like all of us when it comes to love.

You didn’t have to say a word
I tried to tell you, but I lost my nerve
You know I wanted just to slip away
For a little while

An opportunity missed. Who hasn’t been there?

“Naked City” is written by a song writing committee of Gene Simmons, Vince Poncia, Bob Kulick and Pepe Castro. This one is an interesting track. It’s got a super heavy bass riff and that riff continues throughout the song. However the guitars set the vibe. In the Chorus its all “Arena Rock” and in the intro/verses it’s a “reggae shuffle”. And when it comes together it all works.

In the naked city (in the city)
There are ten million stories (naked city)

Once upon a time, stories travelled by word of mouth and the press. Now stories travel via a cable all around the world in a matter of seconds. It each city, millions of people live their lives and a new story is created every second.

Lonely people looking’ for someone
Lonely people going’ their way

It sums up life to a tee. We are all lonely people looking for someone to be with us to the end. We are all lonely people trying to find our way in life. Hopefully with someone.

“Exciter” is the opening track to the “Lick It Up” album in 1983. It’s a speed metal song and Vinnie Vincent brings out the metal and the shred and the delay. Actually what a waste of a great talent the Vinnie Vincent story is. His ego burned so many bridges; eventually people just turned away and refused to work with him. Even his record label turned him down and dropped him.

Passion and fire, lust and desire
Exciter
Pleasure and pain, this is my name
Exciter

Enough said. The lyrics are a waste and fail to deliver justice to the riffage.

“I’ve Had Enough” is also the opening track from “Animalise” released in 1984. It’s written by Desmond Child and Paul Stanley. Stanley was always an underrated guitarist who actually churned out some killer riffage in his 40 plus years creating music. Mark St John (RIP) just copied what Stanley wrote and played it on the album. Or maybe Mark just did the leads, while Paul did all the rhythm, sort of like how James Hetfield does all the harmonies and rhythms, while Kirk does all the solos.

How many times have they lied with the truth in their eyes?
Treat you like dirt, wasting the days of our lives
They try and deny it, ain’t gonna buy it, just look around
Before it’s all over, it’s gonna get rough
I’ve had enough

I always assumed the “they” in the song are people who abuse their power, people who put you down, people who make your life hell, people who you trust the most talking crap about you behind your back and so forth.

(Out of the cold, into the fire)
Nothing and no one is stopping me now

Attitude is the most important choice we have to make every single day. We have the choice to be optimistic, the choice to participate, and the choice to challenge the powers that be and find hope when fear and uncertainty is rampant. We select these attitudes. It’s our choice and when we do, nothing can stop us.

Wishing’ and hoping’ won’t get you nothing’
Praying’ and scheming’, no time for dreaming’
I’ve got the power, this is the hour now

You need to take action. If you don’t take action, nothing will transpire. A small change today leads to a large change in the future. Are you ready to make the change?

“King Of The Mountain” is the opening track from “Asylum” released in 1985 and the first album to feature Bruce Kulick. Kulick actually co-wrote the song with Desmond Child and Paul Stanley and the music is very close to “Creatures Of The Night”. It’s funny how a simple guitar riff sounds so heavy because of the drum groove laid down by Eric Carr.

I’m gonna climb the mountain
I’m gonna hit the top
I wanna go where nobody’s ever been
I’m never gonna stop

Isn’t that the spirit of human adventure? Reach the top, go where nobody’s ever been.

I’m the king of the mountain
And the winner takes it all

The bane of any existence is laziness and fear, the belief that we can’t make it so were better off not trying. We can make excuses because we are surrounded winners doing everything. In reality, nothing in our daily lives is a winner takes all competition. Yeah, there always be someone smarter, faster and more popular than you. And you will be smarter, faster and more popular than others. And those others you are far ahead are far ahead of others and so forth. The difference is how high is each individual mountain?

How good is the lead break from Kulick?

Man he shreds tastefully. Still his moment of guitar hero glory came on the much hated, or tolerated or loved album (depending on which side of the fence you sit) “Crazy Nights” which came two years after “Asylum”.

“My Way” is written by Desmond Child, Paul Stanley and Bruce Turgon (he played bass in Warrior, played bass and co-write most of the songs on Lou Gramm’s solo releases plus Shadow King’s 1991 release and Foreigner’s 1994 album) and it comes from the keyboard heavy “Crazy Nights” released in 1987. Depending on your point of view, this album is hated, tolerated or loved. And this song is also hated, tolerated or loved.

Oh the heat is on
And my back’s against the wall
You know it’s tough to be strong
In a world that makes you crawl

Clichéd. Yes. Original. No. Commercial. Yes. Sounds like Kiss. Umm, it sounds like Kiss in the 80’s. The lyrical message has been done to death about being strong and being yourself in a world that’s controlled by institutions who want you to be something else.

I’m gonna talk like I talk
Walk like I walk my way
I’m gonna go where I go
Ain’t takin’ no, my way

It’s easy to silence your voice. We’ve been battered by all the noise, problems and hassle that come with raising our voice. So sometimes we just sit back because it’s easier. Eventually, we find our voice again and as the Chorus goes, we will talk like we talk and walk like we walk and we will do it on our terms and our way.

What about Stanley’s highs in this one. Do you reckon he had someone in the studio squeezing his balls to hit those highs?

“Silver Spoon” comes from 1989’s “Hot In The Shade” and Paul Stanley had come full circle writing with Vince Poncia again. Like “Crazy Nights” this album is hated, tolerated or loved.

In a city where the buildings rise
I was just another face
But mama told me when somebody dies
No one else can take your place

It’s a really cool verse. I don’t know who came up with those lines but they are pretty solid and full of truth. In cities that have millions of people, we are all just bodies and faces in a sea of faces. But each person is unique and they bring their own light to this world. Our thoughts are all different and when we pass, our light goes out and no one can replicate it.

It’s a shame the rest of the song didn’t follow a similar lyrical thread. Instead it went to a girl, with an attitude because she was born with a silver spoon.

Had Enough
Mr Big

It’s the feel of the song. It’s like a ballad but it’s not a ballad. Having super shredders like Gilbert and Sheehan colouring the song with some great rhythms is great to hear.

Ain’t like any other day
Finally comes a time to decide
I won’t spend another day
Stuck here in the same old bind

The first two verses could be about any life situation and then the song devolves into a relationship situation. Missed opportunity to connect much wider.

What’s It Gonna Be
Ratt

It’s from 1988’s “Reach For The Sky” album and it’s written by Robbin Crosby, Juan Croucier, Warren DeMartini, Beau Hill and Stephen Pearcy.

The promises were empty and your blood runs cold
So tell me
What’s it gonna be, sweet Elena
Just give it to me straight, is it him or me?

I can’t remember if Elena was Peacy’s wife, but the question is simple, what’s it gonna be?

Rock And Roll’s Gonna Save The World
Y&T

Y&T is one of those bands that just hook me with their sense of melody and feel. “Rock and Roll’s Gonna Save The World” is from their 1984 album called “In Rock We Trust”.

Kings and queens and presidents
Are tryin’ to take the world in hand
Jokers and freaks and Arab sheiks
Are fightin’ over chunks of sand

The same problems that exist today existed 30 years ago and way before that. Guess they never really went away.

Rock & Roll’s gonna save the world
Don’t you know that’s the way we’re gonna change it?
Rock & Roll’s gonna save the world
Rock & Roll

We believed we could change the world. Then we got jobs and got loans and became exactly what the institutions wanted us to be. Slaves by choice.

Tin soldiers march around the world
No matter what the people say
One man makes all the policies
While the rest of us get blown away

It’s what our leaders are fighting about right now. Who should make the policies? Who should tell others what to do? And democratically elected leaders want to dictate how people should live and then they take up arms against dictators. Ironic isn’t it.

Gutter Ballet
When The Crowds Are Gone
Hounds
Summer’s Rain

Savatage

All the songs are written by the holy trinity of Criss Oliva (RIP), Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neill (RIP).

Another sleepless night
A concrete paradise
Sirens screaming in the heat
Neon cuts the eye
As the jester sighs
At the world beneath his feet

It’s that click track piano that makes it unique as Jon sings about the way of the streets in a circus setting.

Another death to mourn
Another child is born
Another chapter in the play

The cycle of life, a death, a birth and a new story to tell.

How good is the instrumental lead break section in the song?

“When The Crowds Are Gone” is the song that sealed the deal, the song that made me love the album. It’s the vocal outro, the lyrics and Jon Olvia’s vocal delivery. The outro is that good, Savatage used it for other songs on future albums. It’s easy to get caught up in it.

I don’t know where the years have gone
Memories can only last so long
Like faded photographs, forgotten songs

Artists who have been on the road for a long time, miss out on so much from their personal lives. It’s a sacrifice.

Where’s the light, turn then on again
One more night to believe and then
Another note for my requiem
A memory to carry on
The story’s over when the crowds are gone

When the crowds are gone, the career of an artist is over. When the show is over and the crowds are gone, the night is over and the journey begins to a new city and a new show.

All my friends have been crucified
They made life a long suicide true
Guess we never figured out the rules
But I’m still alive and my fingers feel
I’m gonna play on till the final reel’s through
And read the credits from a different view

It’s about a clarinet player who chooses to retire from playing on his own terms. But in the song, his own terms are too late, because as the song goes, the crowds are no longer there.

I never wanted to know
Never wanted to see
I wasted my time till time wasted me
Never wanted to go
Always wanted to stay
Cause the person I am are the parts that I play
So I play and I plan
And hope and I scheme
To the lure of a night
Filled with unfinished dreams
And I’m holding on tight
To a world gone astray

The big ending and it works so well with the music, the vocal melody and the pain in Jon Oliva’s voice as the clarinet player finally understands it’s all over.

In “Hounds”, Criss Oliva becomes a guitar hero with some wicked riffage and wicked shredding.

Do you hear the hounds they call
Scan the dark eyes aglow
Through the bitter rain and cold
They hunt you down
Hunt you down

The word “hounds” is just another word for the predatory people in our lives. And if we are not too careful, eventually they will hunt us down. Of course the song is about hounds, but it’s very easy to interchange the two.

How good is that melody lead under the chorus vocal melody in “Summers Rain”?

Standing alone in a dream
Where nothing is real
But oh how real it feels
There were times I lost my way
I was alone, lost in a haze
Where are you now
I’ll find you somehow

A song about a relationship that doesn’t sound clichéd and lazy.

And do I stand alone
Like a fool out in the rain
Hanging on somehow
To an ancient vow
Where there’s nothing left to gain
And do you know
How it feels inside
To be all alone
A fool and his pride

When you don’t want to let go, even though the other half has already moved on. But life is more about doors closing, not opening. And when doors close and new opens open we are forced to go in a certain direction.

Metal Heart
Accept

It is 1999
The human race has to face it
They are confronted with the truth
It’s secret — mysterious

For Accept the truth is and always will be heavy metal. But in all seriousness, the human race needs to confront the truth and make some changes. Our planet is warming. There is no way people can deny it. The normal winds we get are more destructive and last longer than ever before. The rain that falls is a lot more destructive than ever before.

Downhearted
Reckless – Don’t Be So
The Boys Light Up

Australian Crawl

I left my heart back in the Orient
Down on Bali bays
It’s not the way that I should feel
But it’s the way I’m gonna stay
Downhearted
Broken dreams that never really started

Holiday romances and the feeling of loneliness when you get back home. Back in the 80’s once you left, the connection was lost. Not like in today’s connected world. And Australian’s always go to Bali for a holiday. It’s seen as a cheap overseas holiday.

In “Reckless”, the band maps out the journey into Sydney from Manly via the ferry via the first verse.

Meet me down by the jetty landing
Where the pontoons bump and sway
I see the others reading, standing
As the Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay

Anyone who has done the ferry journey can relate to the above.

So, throw down your guns
Don’t be so reckless

The iconic chorus lines. Don’t be so reckless to destroy a relationship that took years to build.

Finally, we have the pub rock classic. In steel city Wollongong, we always assumed “The Boys Light Up” meant lighting up a reefer. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I really unpacked the lyrics and found some brilliant lines.

Silently she opens the drawer
Mother’s little helper is coming out for more
Strategically positioned before the midday show
Her back is arched; those lips are parched, repeated blow by blow

Mmm, I wonder what mothers little helper is. Zzzzzzzzz…

Later at the party
All the MPs rave
About the hummers she’s been givin’
And the money that they save
To her it is skin lotion
Him promotion to
That flat in Surfers’ Paradise with the ocean view

For all of the political scandals that made headline news from the late Nineties onwards, the above verse seemed prophetic to say the least. Seriously, what a creative, tongue in cheek verse. And all Australians know Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

The boys light up

I guess the boys lighting up is all about getting hard and coming alive.

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Dollars And Cents

Everyone today knows “Charles Goodyear” as the inventor of vulcanised rubber. But what they don’t know is that he spent his whole life on struggle street, in and out of prison because of his money problems and six of his twelve children died because he couldn’t support them.

And when he perfected his vulcanised rubber, he couldn’t take out a patent because another scientist called Thomas Hancock took out a patent eight weeks earlier. You see, Hancock had gotten a hold of a sample of Goodyear’s final product and reverse engineered it. Goodyear tried the courts, however the judge couldn’t understand how Hancock could have reverse engineered the invention and awarded all rights and royalties to Hancock.

It wasn’t until his journals were read by others that the following was found: “Life should not be estimated exclusively by the standard of dollars and cents.”

The Goodyear name would be recognised many years later. His achievements are world-changing but he never got paid for it while he was alive.

Hancock thought he won. He cheated a little bit and got his way. 

Culture is built by people losing in the short-term only to win in the long-term. That loss right now, builds a connection, solidifies a reputation and creates trust. And those three things are more valuable than the one victory early on.

Remember a time when writers created their works, while working other jobs. And a lot of those great writers still kept those other jobs.

F. Scott Fitzgerald gave the world “The Great Gatsby” while he also worked in advertising.

William Faulkner worked as a postal worker and during that time he wrote “The Sound And The Fury”, a book that was largely forgotten upon its release and only made famous when a book Faulkner wrote many years later for a decent pay check became popular, which in turn brought interest into his earlier works. After his postal gig he worked as a night manager in a power plant. Writing between the hours of midnight and 4am, he also produced “As I Lay Dying”. Both books are in the Top 100 Literacy Classics.

Ken Kesey wrote “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”. The story about CIA sponsored mind control came about because Kesey worked as a cleaner in a mental hospital and for some extra cash he volunteered to be in a CIA sponsored mind control study which was promoted as something different to its participants. Those experiences formed the words of his novel.

JRR Tolkien worked as a Professor at Oxford while he wrote “Lord Of The Rings”. George Orwell worked for the BBC as a propagandist, which gave him the inspiration for his 1984 work.

After Dream Theater recorded their debut album, the label went bust. While they tried to get a new deal, they kept on writing songs and they had to get jobs to support themselves. During this period of work and jam, they wrote enough quality material to give the world “Images And Words”, their breakthrough album and the one that would give them a career.

Led Zeppelin’s debut album was funded by Jimmy Page and their manager Peter Grant. Once completed, it was shopped around to labels and rejected, until Atlantic US picked it up. On its release it wasn’t successful, but as we all know by now, time has a funny way of changing people’s views.

There is no easy way to cut through the noise and be heard. Paying your dues has been there from day one. Michelangelo was portrayed as being blessed to paint. The fact that he was paying his dues from the age of 7 by mixing paint, cleaning paint brushes and learning brush techniques working with a master should never be forgotten.

Convert six people instead of trying to convert 60 people. Start small and build. AC/DC were booked to open up a basement gig for Paul Kossoff’s Back Street Crawler in the U.S. Kossoff unfortunately died on his way to the gig, but AC/DC still took the stage and put on their normal act to six people. After a few songs, the six people bolted to the nearest payphone to call their friends. Within an hour the club was at capacity and history was made.

Tell your story and be truthful. Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” are two of their most popular songs and it’s James opening up about a relationship breakdown and his upbringing with religious parents. There is a reason why “Kick Start My Heart” is iconic. It references Nikki’s almost fatal overdose. The story you want to tell can be political like “Peace Sells” and “And Justice For All” or inspirational like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” or a call to arms like “SMF” and “We Will Rock You”.

Keep creating and recording. Al Kooper, produced the self-titled debut from Lynyrd Skynyrd. It just came out and it wasn’t really setting any sales charts on fire. “Free Bird” was still months away from becoming the boss of FM radio. Ronnie Van Zant called Kooper and told him the band had written a new song and they wanted to come in and record it ASAP. The song was “Sweet Home Alabama” and it sat in the vaults for a year before it was released on album number 2.

In the pre-internet era of scarcity, less music got made and even less got properly promoted. The history of music is littered with good bands or good musicians that didn’t quite make it or never even got a chance to make a record. And these days, every town has thousands of bands who are recording themselves and releasing their music themselves. And it’s all dollars and cents until you have that iconic hit that breaks on through.

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1983 – VI – No Parole From The Born Again, Bent Out Of Shape, Rock And Roll Frontiers As The Never Switch Is Flicked For Steeler Siogo’s Surrender.

Listening back to all of the music from 1983 got me thinking about life and time. Even though 1983 is 34 years in the past, it feels like it was more recent.

How time flys?

And I am trying to work out how certain events pushed me onto different paths and how those paths became far removed from the path I wanted to be on.

And while life might seem chaotic in 2017, it wasn’t much different in 1983. We still had terrorism back them. The IRA was very active in the U.K and we had acts of terror in Lebanon. We had changes in government that didn’t appeal to the status quo.

The frontiers are a changing.

Journey – Frontiers

“I gotta tell you that I’m not hurtin’ for a place to live and I’m not hurtin’ for money, no, but filthy rich – no. You’ve got six people in the band, you’ve got unions in this country, you’ve got people who want a big hunk of what you make all the way down the line. It’s a big circus. It takes five semis and a lot of lights, a lot of sound, a lot of crew and a lot of busses and gas! When you talk 107 shows and you talk 30,000 miles, you’re talking a lot.”
Steve Perry 

Coming into the recording of “Frontiers”, Journey was riding the waves of “Don’t Stop Believin”. The Jonathan Cain era was in full swing.

So what was next for Journey?

How do you follow up “Escape”?

They began their career as progressive rockers in the 70’s, and by the start of the 80’s they had moved into hard rock. With the addition of Jonathan Cain on keyboards and with the success of “Escape” they moved into superstar territory. And with “Frontiers”, Journey kept on polishing their sound and moving further away from their progressive blues roots. Plus they also gave a certain person in Italy a name for his future record label.

Separate Ways
It’s been covered by metal bands ad infinitum because it’s such a good song. The opening keyboard lick would work well as a guitar lick. Then when the drum groove comes in, it’s quality all around.

I would have preferred to hear some more grunt in the verses from the guitar, but this is Journey coming off the success of “Escape” and Neal Schon transitions into a song decorator.

Someday, love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched and went our separate ways

The chorus melody was so good, that Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon re-used it/plagiarised it/copied it or let themselves be influenced by it on the song “Message of Love” from their 1997 comeback album, “Trial By Fire”.

Faithfully
It’s the signature ballad and the last track recorded for the album. Prince even asked Journey for permission before releasing “Purple Rain” because the chord changes are close to “Faithfully” and he didn’t want to get sued.

“I thought it was an amazing tune and I told him, ‘Man, I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.’”
JONATHAN CAIN 

“We all talked about it, and everybody said, ‘Nah, it’s the highest form of flattery. Let it go.’”
NEAL SCHON 

And Cain could have requested a co-writing credit on “Purple Rain,” but he didn’t.

“No, no, that’ll just bring bad juju on you, and you don’t want to do that. I just thought it seriously showed the kind of caring, classy guy Prince was.”
JONATHAN CAIN

All music is a sum of a person’s influences.

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile

It’s a brilliant lyric comparing the rock and roll touring lifestyle with the life of a carnie.

Steve Perry did a great job on the vocals, especially that outro. In This Moment also use this song as an influence for the outro of their song “World In Flames”.

Troubled Child
This song is one of those underrated gems on an album. Those little nuggets.

Voices echo, from the past
Decisions made for you

The whole song is great lyrically, but it’s the above that sticks out. Something that James Hetfield constantly sings about, especially in “The Unforgiven” songs.

Ask The Lonely
It was a bonus track on the 2006 re-issue. It should have been on it.

Black Sabbath – Born Again
At the start of the 80’s, Black Sabbath re-invented themselves with the Dio led version of the band. However after the success of “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules”, Ronnie James Dio said see ya later to Tony Iommi and took drummer Vinny Appice with him. Bill Ward was back in alongside Iommi, Butler and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (RIP). So the search began for a vocalist. We all know the story of how this was meant to be a new supergroup project however their new manager Don Arden (who was also Ozzy’s ex-Manager and the father to Ozzy’s wife, Sharon) would not even contemplate it. His grudges against Ozzy and Sharon and the fact that he wanted to better them with the groups he managed would be the death knell of this project.

David Coverdale and Robert Plant were talked about as vocalists. They even received an audition tape from Michael Bolton who at that time was unknown. But it was Arden who recommended Gillian. And that is the problem. Ian Gillian is more or less terrible on it. And that album cover is now part of folklore. According to Wikipedia, Don Arden was fond of telling Osbourne that his children resembled the “Born Again” album cover.

But the songs “Disturbing The Priest” and “Zero The Hero” are pretty good musically. The lyrics are neither here or there, but the music is excellent.

Disturbing the Priest
According to Wikipedia, “Disturbing the Priest” was written after a rehearsal space set up by Iommi in a small building near a local church received noise complaints from the resident priests.

It’s underpinned by a bass groove reminiscent of “Heaven And Hell” and “The Sign of The Southern Cross”. Add to that, the eeriness of early Sabbath.

The devil and the priest can’t exist if one goes away

Damn right.

Zero the Hero
Accept the fact that you’re second rate life is easy for you

Conformity in one simple statement.

Rainbow – Bent Out Of Shape
MTV changed the way bands wrote albums. Suddenly experimentation, longer guitar solos or longer songs in general went out the window. Every band was trying to make that arena rock song. So it was no surprise that Rainbow would follow suit, especially after they had a few unexpected hits in “Since You’ve been Gone” from 1979’s “Down To Earth” album with Graham Bonnet on vocals, “I Surrender” from 1981’s “Difficult To Cure” with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and “Stone Cold” from the 1982 album “Straight Between the Eyes”.

The band for the recording of this album was Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, David Rosenthal on keys and Chuck Burgi on drums. But the single here should have been “Stranded” instead of “Street of Dreams”.

Stranded
It’s the only good song on the album. That bass just keeps the pedal point note going, while Blackmore is free to explore so many different musical palettes.

Dog night, I’m so alone
A million miles out on my own
No one to talk, no one to care
Searching for someone, they could be anywhere

Life of a rock and roller.

AC/DC – Flick Of The Switch
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. Simon Kirke from the band Free also auditioned, as well as 699 other drummers. It would have been cool if it was 666 drummers.

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. There are no classic songs on the album. But there is a lot of groove and swagger. The slower tempo’s make it sound HEAVY. But the songs don’t get played live, so the album remains largely forgotten to the masses.

“Basically what Mal had said was that he wanted to try and get that feeling of being in a room with it all happening. I don’t think it really worked entirely.”
Engineer Tony Platt in the book Maximum Rock & Roll

Rising Power
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.

Flick Of The Switch
With a flick of the switch
She’ll blow you sky high

Johnson is still rolling out the metaphors with innuendo.

Nervous Shakedown
It’s a dirty lie
It’s a shakedown
It’s lookin’ like a set-up

There is a lot of this happening today, with copyright trolls trying to shakedown internet users. The trolls put up the content and then take note who downloads the content via the public torrent trackers. Once they have a list of IP addresses, they go to the courts, so the courts could give approval for the Telcos to unmask their users and provide address details. If the courts approve, the trolls send the users letters, saying if they pay $50 to $100 and admit guilt, it all goes away, if they choose to fight it in court and they lose, then the users could be liable for thousands in fees. It’s a shakedown, a set-up.

Guns For Hire
Look out woman
I got gun’s for hire
Shoot you with desire

I wonder what Johnson means here.

Badlands
It sounds like Tom Keifer is singing this song. Musically, it’s a cross between George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone”, 70’s ZZ Top and AC/DC’s roots in the blues.

Again, it’s the groove that hooks me in.

“In the badlands”

Triumph – Never Surrender
I never heard this album in 1983. It became part of my collection much later on via Record Music Fairs and so forth and it was the more ambitious and melodic tracks that appealed to me.

A World Of Fantasy
How good is this song’s intro especially when the harmony guitars kick in?

Lost in your world of fantasy
Look what you’ve done to me

A Minor Prelude
It’s just a nice 90 second instrumental on acoustic guitar.

All The Way
How good is the intro?

Lyrical the theme is clichéd but the lyrics are just excellent.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Every dog will have his day
Those who wait are only wasting’ time

It’s all about the effort. In the 1900’s, research said that to achieve greatness you need to put in 10 years of practice. This was then enhanced to include 10,000 hours of practice, which was then further enhanced to say 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, which means breaking down a skill you want to learn into chunks and learning it slowly before increasing the speed.

That’s why the metronome is the best tool for any wannabe musician. Learn the song slowly and then increase the speed to its normal speed and just for fun, push the speed even faster to see how you go playing the song. Sometimes, ballads like “Alone Again” end up sounding pretty wicked at 150bpm.

That’s why the Senseball is the best tool for any wannabe football player. You start of slowly, focusing on the task at hand and slowly build it up.

Pray for wisdom – dig for gold
Can’t buy freedom by selling your soul

Recording contracts are designed to benefit the entity forking out the money to produce the works. So any wannabe artist needs to sell their soul for a shot at the brass ring.

You better watch out, you better look around
Cause what goes up is gonna come down
Everybody lives by the law of supply and demand

So true. Even the record labels live by the law of supply and demand. When people got fed up with the corrupted and very pricey supply chain, technology allowed mp3’s to be created. Suddenly music was everywhere.

Once you’ve set a course don’t change it
Luck will come to those who chase it
Don’t let anything get in your way

What a brilliant verse. Hell, the whole “Talent Code” book is based around the theory that you need to love what you do, to practice deep for a long time, so you can become an expert in your field.

Never Surrender
In the verses, it reminds me musically of Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love”. But at almost 7 minutes in length, it has a lot of musical movements and a groove that’s hypnotic.

How good are the lyrics in this?

Jivin’, hustiln’, what’s it all about?
Everybody always wants the east way out
Thirty golden pieces for the Judas kiss
What’s a nice boy doin’ in a place like this?

Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be famous. But is everyone willing to put the hard work in. Is everyone willing to be surrounded by people who will lie and deceive?

Today you found a hero tomorrow you’ll forget

This is so relevant in 2017. The speed at which we move on to new things is astonishing.

Never Surrender – we cannot be denied
Never Surrender – spread your wings and fly

To become an expert and have a chance of success, you need to be in it for the long run. The 10 years. The 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. There are no short cuts.

Writing On The Wall
It’s got that 80’s metal pedal point vibe, but in a major key instead of a minor key.

I am up here
Walking on a tight rope
But I never pause to think
That I could fall

Damn right, there is no safety net in life, especially in music.

I’ve got one short dance
On this planet
But I’ll carve my message deep into the wall

Long-time dead, short time alive. Don’t waste your days on what you can’t control.

Blackfoot – Siogo
The first time I heard Blackfoot was via a Spotify Discover playlist and it was the song “Send Me An Angel”.

Send Me An Angel
I can’t live with all this doubt

Are we good enough?

Is this song good enough?

Do I look good enough?

So many expectations we place on ourselves just to please others. And then we wonder, why so many doubt themselves. It’s even worse today with social media.

Teenage Idol
Standing in his hometown
Waiting for the bus that’ll take him
Farther than he’s ever been

I’ve shown them what a pretty life I’ve made
Even though I’ll miss you badly

It’s the ultimate sacrifice. A career in music vs loved ones you need to leave behind. As Jonathan Cain wrote in “Faithfully”, the road is no place to raise a family.

Alcatrazz – No Parole from Rock N’ Roll
When I was starting out in bands, one of the guitarists in the band was a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan. The drummer of the band was also a fan of Malmsteen and he had this album on LP, so I dubbed it on cassette from him. Home taping was spreading the music.

But the Alcatrazz story is much deeper than Malmsteen’s brief appearance. Like a lot of other bands in the 80’s it was a pseudo supergroup of musicians. You had a 20 year old guitar hero in Yngwie Malmsteen, a 30 year old experienced bassist in Gary Shea, a 33 year old experienced drummer in Jan Uvena, a 24 year old keyboardist in Jimmy Waldo and a 35 year old vocalist with major label experience in Graham Bonnet.

The story starts with bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo. After their band “New England” lost their singer, they moved out to L.A to work with a guitarist called Vinnie Vincent and a new band called Warrior. Vinnie Vincent at the time also had a deal in place to co-write songs for Kiss. ‘Boyz Gonna Rock” and “I Love It Loud” appeared on the first Warrior demo. On the strength of that demo and the songs that Vinnie had written, he was asked to join KISS. We all know how big “I Love It Loud” became.

And from the ashes of Warrior, the embryo of Alcatrazz was formed.

With a dodgy manager on board, who took royalties meant for the band into his own pocket, Alcatrazz was a go. Shea actually reckons Malmsteen lost a lot of money when he left due to the thievery of their manager.

Island In The Sun
It’s the opening track and a Malmsteen classic. Actual songwriters are listed as Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimmy Waldo and Graham Bonnet but there is no denying the Malmsteen sound.

In their nine by five rooms, became inspired
By the silence in sight of the city

Is it about prison or something else?

Jet To Jet
It’s a Malmsteen and Bonnet composition. It’s pretty safe to say that all the music is from Malmsteen and Bonnet wrote the lyrics.

How they stared as we made our exit
We’re white they’re all brown
Dr. Livingstone where are you when we need you the most
We’re white as ivory on the Ivory Coast

Is the song about the arrival of white men in Africa?

Is the “Jet To Jet” title referring to the colour black (as jet is a shade of black)?

Hiroshima Mon Amour
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition. Bonnet was inspired by the 1959 French film Hiroshima Mon Amour, (translation: “Hiroshima My Love”), which he had seen in school. The film recounts the Hiroshima bombing and tells of the human suffering in the aftermath.

“I was always horrified by what happened. And Hiroshima, my love, it was like, goddamn, you know, I didn’t want that to happen again. So I read up a little bit about it, and that’s how that came about. It was something I thought should never have happened. It was just a horrible thing. I couldn’t believe that the Americans would do this, or anybody would do that to anybody. It was sort of a protest song in a way.”
Graham Bonnet 

The fireball would dim the sun,
Promising death in its cruellest form

There is no good in war, but man, when you read about the fall out and the cancers still happening even today, you get to understand the gravity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima Mon Amour
As we beg to be forgiven do you spit
In our face and curse us all.

Incubus
A short Malmsteen instrumental that he would use in his solo career.

Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition.

Chemical kids lost in the street,
Looking for some kind of saviour
Perverted minds lead them like sheep
Into the slaughter they have to face

Chemicals once upon a time = alcohol. Today, chemicals on the streets mean so many different things.

There’s time to die but she just needs more time to live

A brilliant line. In the last six months I have attended 4 funerals. Two for people aged 40, one for a person in their 60’s and one for a person a few weeks short of their 80th birthday. 40 is way too young to die.

Years from now
Look how they change
They’re so mature and respected
Makes them laugh
They were such fools
So unaware of the real live world

Some made it to an older age so they could look back, others didn’t.

Steeler – Steeler
From interviews in Guitar mags, I knew that Yngwie Malmsteen was in the band Steeler. Also in the band was vocalist Ron Keel (from Keel) and former W.A.S.P. bassist Rik Fox. The band produced only one album.

The album was released September 25, 1983 but I didn’t hear it until very much later.

“Steeler was formed by in Nashville and fought our way to the top of the LA hard rock scene in the early 80’s – it’s a great story, and if you want to know all the details, I suggest you check out my official autobiography “Even Keel: Life On The Streets Of Rock & Roll,”. Success is a relative term – Steeler sold a couple hundred thousand albums, while my band KEEL has sold several million albums.”
Ron Keel 

It was Ron Keel and then guitarist Michael Dunigan who came out to L.A to scout gigs. Once they got a feel for the place, the whole band and crew came out. Eventually the original line up splintered because Ron Keel felt threatened by the level of musicianship on the L.A scene and he believed he needed to get better musicians.

Mike Varney, the owner of Shrapnel Records played Ron Keel a demo tape of Malmsteen and he was on a ship from Sweden to L.A. Rik Fox looked like a rock star and got the bassist gig. By making changes, Keel lost the camaraderie and chemistry within the band.

For Malmsteen, this was a four month stopover in his grand vision for greatness. The stop-over involved 9 shows, the recording session for the album and two song contributions in “No Way Out” and “Abduction”.

Cold Day In Hell
It’s listed as a Ron Keel song and it’s one hell of good rock song. More in vein with what Keel would sound like, but without a Malmsteen lead break.

Empty eyes of heartless friends
The night is mine again
Bitter streets of evil stares
No one listens, no one cares

The lead break from Malmsteen is a classic.

No Way Out
It’s written by Ron Keel, Mark Edwards and Yngwie Malmsteen and although the lyrics are hit and miss, it’s still a good listen.

Click the link to listen to 1983-Part6

1. Separate Ways (Words Apart) – Journey
2. A World Of Fantasy – Triumph
3. Send Me An Angel – Blackfoot
4. Island In The Sun – Alcatrazz
5. Stranded – Rainbow

6. Disturbing The Priest – Black Sabbath
7. Rising Power – AC/DC
8. A Minor Prelude/All The Way – Triumph
9. Faithfully – Journey
10. Jet To Jet – Alcatrazz

11. Flick Of The Switch – AC/DC
12. Never Surrender – Triumph
13. Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alcatrazz
14. No Way Out – Steeler
15. Writing On The Wall – Triumph

16. Cold Day In Hell – Steeler
17. Badlands – AC/DC
18. Ask The Lonely – Journey
19. Incubus / Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live – Alcatrazz
20. Zero The Hero – Black Sabbath

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

1991 Goodies Lost In The Noise

1991 was a monumental year for music. Shifts in musical tastes aside, career defining albums by Nirvana with “Nevermind”, Metallica with their self-titled “Black” album and Pearl Jam with “Ten” came out.

Guns N Roses released “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2”, the long-awaited follow-up to “Appetite For Destruction” and Ozzy Osbourne resurrected his solo career with “No More Tears”.

U2 had “Achtung Baby”, Van Halen went back to heavy guitars with “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers came out with “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”.

Competing against these mega selling albums with massive marketing budgets to scorch the Earth, was the rest of the music industry. And while I am on my European holiday, I have been listening to hard rock music released in 1991. And man, there are some goodies in the list.

Rock and Roll Nights – Roxus
A band like Roxus from Australia, never had a chance to break through on the international melodic rock scene in 1991. A lot of hard work went into building the band, from standalone singles to an EP to the debut album; the whole journey took 4 plus years.

And they started getting some traction in 1991 but they came up against some stiff opposition for the attention of listeners. With all of that against them, Roxus did chart well in Australia.

But they had to compete against the changing of the guard. When U.S record labels started signing up Seattle acts, it was no surprise when the Aussie labels started to sign up Australian bands that suddenly started to sound like Seattle bands. To my amazement, hard rock, thrash metal and glam rock bands on the scene down tuned, stop playing solos, changed their look and their sound. All in the quest for a recording contract.

A chance is all that we’ve got
Without a moment to choose
We’ve got to take it
Young hearts in the night
With nothing to lose
We can make it

It’s nothing original but the message was the same throughout the decade. Chances are far and few, so when opportunity presents itself, we’ve got to take the chance. Like Tommy and Gina. Like the small town kid in Detroit.

I’m glad to be around in Rock ‘n’ Roll nights
You and me

It was a moment in time, a period of almost 10 years when the 80’s version of Rock and Roll became a commercial force.

Stand Back – Roxus

The synth intro is addictive and once the guitars kick in from Dragan Stanic, it’s all systems go. “Stand Back” came out as a standalone single in July 1989 and it was also on their debut album “Nightstreet”, which came out in September 1991.

Taking a chance on a night flight
Knowing just where we ought to be

A lot of times in my youth I knew where I should be, but I couldn’t take that chance to get there. That midnight train out of my hometown was missed. That night flight never happened.

I’ve been on this road now for so long
It’s making me harder now

Living and getting older either hardens you or breaks you.

Stand back, human racing
There’s no change, we’re all facing
Stand back, time is racing now

And that is all we seem to do. Just standing back and watching the world go by.

Pretty Maids – Savage Heart

It’s from the “Jump the Gun” album released in 1990. Actually in the U.S it was released as “Lethal Heroes”. Produced by Roger Glover from Deep Purple, it was told that the album was one of the most expensive albums in Danish history. And after it failed commercially, three fifths of the band would leave.

But it wasn’t the music which let the band down. It was the band name. Many times I avoided purchasing this album because of the band name. One time it was down to Bonfire and Pretty Maids and my money went on Bonfire.

The song reminds me of “Is This Love” from Whitesnake.

Whenever we lose someone
Whenever we say goodbye
And after the fire’s gone
When every flame has died
There will beat a savage heart

After so many loses and failures, a savage heart is all that is left.

Another soldier falls
Dies for God and country
When there’s no time for talking
It’s time for the guns

A symptom of our society is the use of guns. If talking cannot prevent it, our leaders believe violence and force is the next solution.

 

And that massive ending, with the gospel backing vocals is excellent. 

AC/DC – The Razors Edge

The title track written by Malcolm and Angus Young got lost behind the behemoth known as “Thunderstruck”. It’s a killer track. One of their best.

How good is that open string riff that drives the song? It’s a simple A to B to C on the G-string progression with the open strings of B and E just droning along. Angus pulls of this lick while Malcolm just thunders along with the E5 power chord.

There’s fighting on the left
And marching on the right
Don’t look up in the sky
You’re gonna die of fright
Here comes the razors edge

AC/DC have never been known to be a political/social conscience band, however if you look at a lot of the lyrics that Bon Scott wrote in the 70’s, you will see a certain social awareness. You will notice that quiet a few of the songs mentioned in this list talk about war.

Harem Scarem – Hard To Love and Slowly Slipping Away

Both tracks are from the self-titled debut album, the music in both songs rocks.

It wasn’t until well into the 2000’s that I got a hold of some music from Harem Scarem. While the first album is very AOR, the second album “Mood Swings” packs some serious metal overtones and some wicked guitar playing.

The band name doesn’t do the music and the songs justice. Like Pretty Maids I bypassed this album because of the band name.

Badlands – The Last Time

Jake E Lee revs it up again for the follow-up “Voodoo Highway” album to the self-titled debut. And what an opening track, where Lee weaves blues based riffs with his metal pedigree to come up with this heavy boogie riff to kick off the track. Rooted in the key of A minor, the track rocks from the outset.

Lyrically the song is about a broken heart (nothing really earth shattering) however the vocal performance by Ray Gillen is also top-notch. Not long after, the band splintered and “The Last Time” is forgotten in the history of times. The song was resurrected by the Red Dragon Cartel, however Lee is not having much luck with his singers.

Stryper – All For One

From the commercially disappointing “Against The Law” that was released on Enigma Records, a label going thru merger talks.

But there is no denying the song, written by Michael Sweet and produced by Tom Werman.

United we will stand up tall
United we will never fall
If it’s all for one and one for all

The chorus is huge and the message is strong.

United we will never fall. Even Dee Snider mentioned recently that metal heads need to unite again, in the same way we did between the years of 1982 to 1987. We made hard rock and heavy metal a commercial force. After that we fragmented into so many different metal genres, it was ridiculous.

Ratt – Shame, Shame, Shame

The opening riff from Warren DeMartini is speed boogie metal. It’s full on Ratt and Roll and DeMartini even drops the E string down to D, something he did to great effect in “Lay It Down”.

But terrible lyrics again let the song down and the overall power of the music is lost. But this song is all about the music to me and it gets constant spins because of it.

Asphalt Ballet – Soul Survive

It’s written by guitarist Danny Clarke, from their 1991 debut album released on Virgin Records who at the time had no interest in marketing bands as they were in negotiation talks with EMI. That merger happened in June 1992 and a lot of bands lost their deals because of it.

I’ve seen the system fall apart from the rules
And all our Presidents lie
I’ve seen the needle and the damage it’s done
The wreckage left behind

These are social conscience lyrics that a lot of rock bands just didn’t do at the turn of the century. Or if they did do songs like this, the record label wouldn’t release them as singles. How good is that verse riff?

My soul survives
Forever doing time on a dead-end street
My soul survives
Blood like wine running down to my feet, yeah-yeah, yeah!

And for the majority of us, that is how we live our days, doing time in the same old place with the same old faces.

Skid Row – Quicksand Jesus

Written by Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo, it’s from the gigantic “Slave To The Grind” album, but for some reason this song went under the radar but it’s a masterpiece.

Quicksand Jesus I need you
Quicksand Jesus I believe you
Quicksand I’m so far away

The song is about trying not to lose faith in God with all the crap that goes on in the world. The music is brilliant and Sebastian’s vocals from the “Where do we go” section are sublime.

Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town

Written by Richie Sambora and his Bon Jovi cohort Dave Bryan, you cannot escape this addictive track that is heavily influenced by “With A Little Help From My Friends”.

Everybody loves a winner
Till the winners lose
And then it’s front page news
Nobody loves a loser
When you’re down and out
You know there ain’t no doubt

This is Richie, unsure of his future. He just finished two gruelling album and world tour cycles with Bon Jovi. He was a winner. Then, the uncertainty came as the band went on a break. He had no record deal, no management, nothing.

“Song And Emotion” from Tesla has a similar message. Where are all the “friends” when you are down and out? Dee Snider’s bio tells a similar story. When he had nothing, he had no one except his family.

Tesla – Song and Emotion
Tesla – Freedom Slaves
Tesla – Had Enough

Even though the “Psychotic Supper” album was eventually certified platinum, on release it didn’t have a chance to break through to the masses. Within 30 days of its release it had to contend with “Ten” from Pearl Jam, “Nevermind” from Nirvana, “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2” from Guns N Roses and the self-titled “Black” album from Metallica.

Tesla is a legendary band in my book. Each album has songs that have remained with me to this day. “Psychotic Supper” gave me these three beauties. All of them are so different, yet so infectious.

“Song and Emotion” is killer. It’s written by Frank Hannon, Jeff Keith, Michael Barbiero (producer) and Tom Skeoch.

All alone on his way to the top
Somehow, somewhere, something was lost
Through it all he knew his only friend was
Song and emotion
Know he’s got to his dying day

Read all of the bios of the artists you like and there is a common theme of loneliness. They turn to drugs, booze and other vices to cope with the loneliness especially when they are on the road for long periods of time.

Where are they now?
Where are those people who promised him his dreams?
Where are they now for this lonely creature on the streets?
Broken, humbled by the cold reality?

The song is dedicated to Steve Clark from Def Leppard. The bigger Def Leppard got, the more isolated their lives became. The price of stardom meant they couldn’t leave their house without an entourage.

Life at the top ain’t always what it seems

It’s a common critique of artists when they’ve made it.

“Freedom Slaves” is a foot stomper with another killer mid-section and solo. It’s written by Frank Hannon, Tommy Skeoch and Brian Wheat.

I pledge no allegiance to your flag
I feel I got me some damn good reasons for feelin’ bad
If you want freedom now, it’s got to be won
It’s only bullets. It’s just a gun

1991 had songs about war, especially with the Gulf War looming over our heads.

Can’t ya see that we’re all freedom slaves?

Freedom comes at a human cost, but then when our freedoms are hijacked by corporations and leaders in the pocket of lobbyists, we become capitalist slaves.

Welcome to freedom. Now, there’s work to be done.

There is work for the ones that have no alternative. They don’t have the degrees, the fortune 500 jobs or some other helping hand.

I don’t know what next they’ll be killin’,
Rapin’ the land with pollution and spillin’.
Here’s to the tired, to the hungry, to the helpless and the poor.
Is there no glory for blisters and sores?

The world was in GFC turmoil, six years ago. The perpetrators got out without any losses, while the working class, lost houses and their jobs. As the lyric states, there is no glory in blisters and sores.

“Had Enough” opens up with a beer can opening and then the riff kicks in. It’s a head banger about downing a few and smoking some weed.  It’s written by Jeff Keith and Tommy Skeoch.

Me and the boys are gonna rock tonite.
Drinkin’ double shots, feelin fine. Mmmm, I like it!
I like the way, the way it makes me feel.
Now, I’m in love witcha, Lady Mary Jane.
You put my mind at ease, make me feel no pain.
Keep takin’ me; keep takin’ me higher, well, and higher.
Light my fire!

The song is all about the high at the start and by the end the character in the song has passed the point of no return and is now addicted.

Have I reached the point, the point of no return?
When will I learn?

White Lion – Warsong
White Lion – It’s Over

Almost five months after “Mane Attraction” came out, White Lion split up and one of the most melodic and expressive guitarists was lost to us.

Mike Tramp wrote good social consciousness lyrics but his take on clichéd rock and roll themes fell short and failed to compliment the outstanding musicianship of Vito Bratta.

In all of this craziness, two songs stand out to this day.

“Warsong” shows the metal side of Bratta, while “It’s Over” shows the classic blues rock side of Bratta.

What are we fighting for?
When the price we pay is endless war
What are we fighting for?
When all we need is peace

When you look at the wars our homelands have been in and for what purpose, you start to question, why.

I know that I was wrong to treat you like I did
But don’t you think our love deserves a second chance 

The above is from “It’s Over”. The blues 12/8 boogie lays the foundations for Bratta to showcase his prowess.

Once the mirror breaks it’s never the same. Same deal with a relationship. Once you break apart once, it’s over. White Lion fragmented without even arguing. It was just time to say “It’s Over”.

Europe – Seventh Sign

“Prisoners In Paradise” album cycle was a lesson in record label politics. Europe wrote 20 songs and the record label rejected a lot of them. Outside writers got the call and Europe kept on writing songs. Eventually after 12 months, the album was done.

It cost a lot and once it was released it was left to fend on its own, without any record label support.

We could all come together
And gather all around
What good is war when we
All go down

Another song with a reference to war.

Savatage – If I Go Away

The whole rock opera from Savatage was an ode to making it, the vices that come with success and the loneliness once the crowds are gone.

Somewhere on that long lonely road
We all stand alone
Looking for clues
From our different views

That’s why we turn to music and the messages in our favourite songs. We are looking for clues from our artists. Maybe they’ve experienced the same.

If I go away
What would still remain of me?

What memories will people carry forward if they go away?

Screaming Jets – Better
Screaming Jets – Fat Rich Cunt

Screaming Jets is an Australian band that basically has legendary pub status within our shores.

They said you’d never get anywhere,
Well they don’t care and it’s just not fair
That you know, and I know better.

“Better” became like a national anthem in Australia. The whole groove of the song is infectious.

Fat Rich Cunt

It’s one of my favourites on the album. The message in the song, is even more relevant in 2016.

You drive your fast car,
All over the town,
You got your offices up 50 floors from the ground.
You hire your slaves to bid for you,
You’ve got a couple of wives and a mistress or two.
And I can’t wait to see you tumble and fall.

When I worked as an insurance broker, all of the people around me had second or third marriages, mistresses on the side and a cocaine habit to match.

You fat, fat, fat rich cunts.

The war cry.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ripped Off – Here Is My Middle Finger Salute

“Gettin’ ripped off, underpaid” ….. from “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll”

Bon Scott knew his stuff. For a person who had been trying to make it for a long time, he was well seasoned and experienced enough to come up with some great lyrics. He was a perfect fit to the youthism of the Young brothers. If you take the time to dig deep into his lyrics, you will notice a certain theme of being ripped off by promoters and record label execs, which is polar opposite to what artists are saying today. With so much backlash against streaming services and royalty payments, more and more artists are going on record to state that the “fan doesn’t support and respect music”.

So how can the music industry explain how bands that have performed live have not been paid the monies owed to them by the promoters?

The fans that supposedly “don’t support and respect music” purchased their $180 plus concert ticket. Surely this is a show of support to the acts on the bill that people value and respect music.

“So if you’ve got the money, we’ve got the sound,
You put it up and we’ll put it down,
If you got the dollar, we got the song,
Just wanna boogie woogie all night long” ….. from “Aint No Fun (Waiting Around To Be A Millionaire)”

For those that don’t know, the 2016 Soundwave Festival in Australia has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. However, the roots of the problems go back. From the 2015 edition of Soundwave, a lot of bands are still owed money from their festival appearance.

For the full list, click on this link.

Here is a selection of a few;

The main artists;

  • Soundgarden — $2,132,075.00
  • Slipknot — $1,645,299.29
  • The Smashing Pumpkins — $1,267,446.43
  • Faith No More — $751,076.20
  • Marilyn Manson — $588,000.56
  • Incubus — $571,428.58
  • Slash — $484,628.00
  • Fall Out Boy — $394,107.14
  • Judas Priest — $349,560.55
  • Ministry — $203,952.01
  • Godsmack — $200,000.00
  • Lamb of God — $161,323.33

The medium-sized and self-financed artists;

  • Papa Roach — $93,050.93
  • Steel Panther — $92,517.57
  • Fear Factory — $78,263.96
  • Apocalyptica — $65,601.90
  • Falling In Reverse — $54,064.98
  • Atreyu — $52,044.64
  • New Found Glory — $43,279.88
  • Nothing More — $35,000.00
  • Of Mice and Men — $29,040.00
  • Killer Be Killed — $24,513.00
  • Escape the Fate — $21,985.68
  • Dragonforce — $21,000.00
  • Monuments — $19,153.00
  • Animals as Leaders — $16,607.14
  • Nonpoint — $8,137.54
  • Ne Obliviscaris — $5,720.60

Commissions to an agency for organising acts;

  • Live Nation Worldwide, Inc — $1,180,325.56

That’s some serious dollars taken from the hard-working hands of the fans and not paid to the artists. You see, a fan believes that the act would be getting their cut. It’s an unwritten law that it will happen. The fan also knows that the promoter, venue and so forth would also get their cut. Which in a lot of cases is more than the acts cut.

“Living on a shoe string,
A fifty cent millionaire,
Open to charity,
Rock ‘n’ roller welfare” ….. from “Down Payment Blues”

Life is tough and when you don’t get paid, it’s even tougher, because we all have other commitments that we need to make. So are the fans to blame again for not supporting music.

Are the fans to blame when managers, promoters and record labels rip off the artists?

“It’s a song (“I Believe In You) I wrote a long time ago. Well a long time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing (on) the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote “I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship I had with a girl so the song inspired itself more or less.”
Dave Meniketti 

There is a lot of money to be made in music and the fans are spending. The fans respect music and value music. It’s a shame that the corporate entities that benefit largely from the music that artists create don’t value and respect music in the same way.

Unless Artists make a stand and take back their copyrights or organise better rates for themselves when they sell/license their rights to the corporations, then that copyright royalty pay rise will just end up with the corporate entity the artists sold their copyrights too.

SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties is considering an appeal at the Copyright Tribunals decision to increase the royalty rate that Pandora and other stations needs to pay.

Now why would SoundExchange want to do that?

It’s because they have collected over $3 billion dollars in royalties since 2003 and once you take their standard 30% administration costs, it adds up to a lot of money for SoundExchange for doing absolutely nothing. But they want more of that pie.

Artists as usual get short-changed by all of the corporations taking their cut. And even when they perform live, it looks like they are still being shafted by the promoters.

In Australia, the recording industry revenues are growing and have been since 2012. And what was the defining moment in 2012 that caused this shift in revenue.

Of course, it was the arrival of Spotify in May 2012.

And that is what fans of music do. We double dip. I like to stream and on occasions I love owning something physical from the artists that I support.

Since 2008, those physical purchases include only the special deluxe pieces of art that bands produce. To pay $30 for a DVD/CD special edition album release is just not worth it. I would rather pay the $12 a month Spotify subscription and access that digitally. Recently, I was one of 40,000 people who purchased Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before The Sun” Super Deluxe Edition for $70US and I am one of many who have pre-ordered Dream Theater’s new album “The Astonishing” for $170.

Music doesn’t exist without its best customer; the fan. So as a fan, here is a big middle finger salute to all of those comments about fans of music not respecting music.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

1981 – Part IV – Took The Midnight Train Goin’ Anywhere

 

Journey – Escape
It’s Journey’s first album with keyboardist Jonathan Cain and what a way to make your Journey debut. The album was certified 9x platinum by the RIAA and the single “Don’t Stop Believin” has moved over 7.5 million units (digital and physical combined) in the U.S alone.

The album was co-produced by former Lynyrd Skynyrd soundman Kevin Elson and one-time Queen engineer Mike Stone, who also engineered the album. But the main driver/decorator of the album is Neal Schon. His playing by 1981 was an amalgamation of so many styles and his phrasing and note selection was spot on.

“Escape”
This is my favourite on the album. You can hear the origins of the melodic rock movement (that gained momentum many years later), right here in this song. Like most of the album, it’s a Cain, Perry and Schon composition.

“He’s just a young boy out of school
Livin’ his world like he wants to
They’re makin’ laws, but they don’t understand
Turns a boy in to a fightin’ man”

This song is buried away. In 2015, any new fan will need to dig deep into their catalogue to hear “Escape”.

“They won’t take me
They won’t break me”

No one wanted to give in to the establishments like the schools, the governments and the corporations. We all wanted to go our own way and do our own things the way we wanted to do them.

“Who’s Crying Now”
This one is a Cain and Perry composition. When Neal Schon breaks out that little lead line from the 3.30 minute mark, the song starts kicking for me. Schon is at the peak of his powers and the Escape album is evidence of those powers.

“Don’t Stop Believin'”
The big one. 158 million streams on Spotify.

As good as the piano riff is, check out what Schon does with it. The palm muted legato pull of lick at the intro, whammy bend is enough to stop the intro from getting boring. The whole song has Schon complimenting and adding to the original piano riff. By doing that, the song becomes a bonafide classic rock song.

“Took the midnight train goin’ anywhere”

Everyone dreams of leaving their city behind for bigger and better things, thinking that if they do, they will be happy, because they see happiness is some attainable goal. Although this song has been played to death in my household because it has been licensed to nearly every movie or TV commercial, the message is still crystal clear. Don’t stop trying, regardless of your age.

And the piece d’resistance of the song is when Schon actually plays the vocal line “Don’t Stop Believin” as a lead break before it even comes in at the end. Brilliant.

“Stone In Love”
If you persist with the song and get the 2.30 minute mark, it transitions into a melodic lead outro, which for a band with so much commercial appeal, it was excellent to hear, Schon break out some chops.

“Mother, Father”
This song is interesting and very progressive like Genesis. It’s written by Jonathan Cain, Joe Perry, Steve Perry, Matt Schon and Neal Schon.

AC/DC – For Those About to Rock We Salute You
The follow-up to “Back in Black” and Mutt Lange completes his trilogy of career defining albums with the band, that began with “Highway To Hell”. The labels, as usual started to flood the market with AC/DC music. First, Atlantic Records in the United States released the Australian version of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” to the U.S market, while another label released Geordie recordings, from Brian Johnson’s old band.

With any success, more money gets thrown into the recordings and what you get is an album that is over-produced. Still, it gave the world the title track, which more or less closes every AC/DC gig with the stage prop canons firing away. The song and the name of the album was inspired by a book Angus Young read, entitled “For Those About to Die, We Salute You”, about Roman gladiators.

And the certification armies came forth and bestowed upon the band many sales certifications. 4x Platinum in the U.S, 5 x Platinum in Australia and Platinum certifications in most of Europe.

“Stand up and be counted
For what you are about to receive
We are the dealers
We’ll give you everything you need” ….. from “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Phil Collins – Face Value
One song sums up this album; the 50 million plus streamed “In The Air Tonight”. If 1981 proved one thing, it was the year of the big hit song.  Eric Clapton is also on hand to play some guitar on “The Roof Is Leaking” which is a cult fave of mine.

Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog
A lot of people don’t know that Rick Springfield started getting in the music business officially in 1969 via pop rock group “Zoot” and from 1972 as a solo artist. Keeping with the 1981  theme, one song sums up this album, and that is “Jessie’s Girl”. It’s a shame that the album has been withheld from Spotify.

King Crimson – Discipline
The birth of “Tool”, “Between The Buried And Me” and “djent” is heard on this classic album. Like “Tool”, King Crimson does not participate in Spotify streaming, so the album is not available for streaming.

However, YouTube has it.

Yep folks, that’s the world we live in.

Now, if you are looking for big arena rock choruses than King Crimson is not the band for you. However, if you are looking for a band that pushed musical boundaries and inspired a whole new generation of progressive, math and technical rock/metal bands, then King Crimson is the band to sink your teeth into.

Check out the instrumental title track “Discipline” and the similar sounding “Frame By Frame” and you’ll hear what I mean. “Elephant Talk” lyrically is garbage, however the bass playing from Tony Levin on his Chapman Stick is worth a listen.

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