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

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

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

Recovering with The Eagles, Thirty Seconds To Mars, AC/DC and Iron Maiden

I had my ACL Reconstruction on my left leg on Tuesday 1 September. So I have been at home recovering since then. And I am thinking about what the surgeon said before the operation.

The surgeon said that I would walk out of the hospital the next day after the surgery. Well that was complete bullshit.

On day one I was so drugged up on morphine and other painkillers that my head was spinning every time I tried get up. Plus the fact that I probably won’t shit for a month due to all of the painkillers. So how the fuck would I be able to walk out the hospital if the Earth can’t stop spinning.

So I was wheeled out on a wheelchair.

But not before the Physio girls tried to make me walk with crutches on a straight line and up and down stairs. With my head spinning. Some would say I have managed to walk up stairs before with a spinning head.

So I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and other TV shows. And the following documentaries are still stuck in my head.

  • The History of the Eagles Part 1.
  • Artifact – The Thirty Seconds To Mars documentary about the label lawsuit against them for $30 million dollars.
  • Blood and Thunder Documentary about Ted Albert’s search for the Australian sound with a focus on “The Easybeats”, “AC/DC”, “Rose Tattoo”, “The Angels” and the songwriting/production of “Young/Vanda”.

All three documentaries have four common threads.

  • The path to stardom isn’t overnight.

Let’s not kid around when we talk about “The Eagles”. The main drivers and creative forces of the band are Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Their journey started in different parts of America. It took some time paying their dues with different acts, until they ended up as backing musicians to Linda Ronstandt and then finally into their own act.

And when “The Eagles” formed, the band was rounded out by seasoned and well rehearsed musicians.

Success is dependent upon education and hard work. Henley and Frey educated themselves by working with different artists, learning different traits and building on their skills.

Thirty Seconds To Mars main driver is Jared Leto. AC/DC’s main driver in the early days was Malcolm Young. Jared would go and do movies, educating himself a little bit more. Malcolm Young and Angus Young would do session work for songs his older brother wrote for other artists.

The difference between successful artists and not successful artists is recognition always came LAST! The music and the show came first.

Since the rise of MTV, a certain belief came over the mindsets of musicians that if they are not famous on their first track, cut moments after they picked up an instrument, then someone else is to blame. It wasn’t always that way.

  • Keeping that stardom is not easy.

You’ve got to want it. And you’ve got to be willing to do the work.

How many bands have failed to reach the lofty heights of a previous album again?

Metallica will never top the “Black” album. AC/DC will never top the “Back In Black” album. Twisted Sister will never top the “Stay Hungry” album.

And the successful never stop working. Those classics on other albums didn’t come by accident.

  • The middlemen who make more than the acts.

All of the bands mentioned in the documentaries built their audience with a dependence on middlemen. The labels had it rigged that whatever they produced from their studios would get radio airplay and in stores. They would put the band on tour. All of this label love to the acts would mean that all monies received from the sales of recorded music would end up on the labels profit and loss, with very little given back to the artists.

There is a conversation in the “Artifact” documentary between Jared Leto and Irving Azoff, which Azoff abruptly ends. Leto questions how much that call is going to cost him. He questions how he could be millions in debt to his label when the “A Beautiful Lie” album moved over 3.5 million units in the U.S.

And the guys in Thirty Seconds To Mars, they are financing the recording of the album that would become “This Is War”. If you think this is common, it’s not. Again, due to some creative propaganda by the labels, musicians believe they need someone else to pay. Independent artists normally finance their own recordings.

Are you willing to do this?

Now, more than ever in the modern era, no one else is gonna pay.

 

  • Belief

The Eagles wanted to be a rock band. Their producer of choice “Glyn Johns” who worked with Led Zeppelin and Cream, didn’t think so. This is why people hate The Eagles. Their desire to do it their way. They didn’t allow other people to drag them down into a hole.

The Eagles didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a folk rock act, the same way Led Zeppelin didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a blues rock act.

To truly be king you have to believe in yourself and play by your own rules. You’ve got to stick it out.

Sort of like Iron Maiden. They just kept at it and believed in what they did. A massive corporate empire has been formed around that belief.

So I am getting into “The Book Of Souls” album. It is my bedtime music. At the moment I last to track five before I dose off to sleep.

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

INTERESTING: In A World Of Free, Metal and Rock Music Still Continues To Sell

There is a great article over at the Metal Insider website.

If you are too lazy to click on the link, the article covers the biggest selling metal and rock albums for 2015.

From the results, it’s pretty obvious that metal and rock fans like to purchase music. There is still a collectors mindset there. What’s even more fascinating is that a lot of the albums that have sold a decent amount in 2015 were not even released in 2015.

NOTE: The figures are based on U.S sales.

“Master of Puppets” was released in 1986 and in 2015 it sold 107,800 units. The self-titled “Metallica” album released in 1991 has sold another 77,100 units in 2015. It is well on its way to 17 million units sold in total.

Now think about for a second.

All of Metallica’s music is available on streaming services for paid subscriptions and for free. All of their music is available for downloading via legal options and illegal options. And they still continue to sell.

A band’s longevity is based around the need to replenish their fan base year after year. If you are not doing that then expect to play smaller venues. Dokken and Ratt are two bands that come to mind who haven’t replenished their fan bases from the Eighties. Both bands in the Eighties had platinum sales and played arenas. Today, they have almost no sales and play clubs.  Of course, not having the main creative forces in the current version of the band plays a part, however, even if Lynch and Pilson or Pearcy and Croucier did rejoin Dokken and Ratt respectively, it doesn’t mean that millions of people would be interested.

Metallica,  however is doing a good job at replenishing their fan base based on their selected live performances in new markets and in markets that have high rates of piracy.  They basically have a whole new generation of music fans who more or less consumed the music of Metallica for free and in most cases illegally. However, that still hasn’t stopped them from selling music and concert tickets.

As business people, the move to their own label “Blackened Recordings” was a no-brainer.

The record is how it all starts. It hooks the audience in. Anyone born in the Nineties, will know Metallica as the conformist poster artist for the labels in the Napster case. Anyone born in the Seventies and early Eighties know Metallica as a non-conformist band that pushed boundaries.

The whole Napster kerfuffle in the end just showed why it was not a good idea for Metallica to get in the way of people experiencing their music. However, they have learnt that by making their music available everywhere, they see better returns in other areas.

As an artist, it is a privilege for people to listen to your music. Respect that.

“Back In Black” from AC/DC was released in 1980. In 2015 so far, it has sold 110,000 units in the U.S.  The new album, “Rock Or Bust”, released in 2014, has sold 143,400 units in 2015.  Put it down to the band being on the road and building awareness of the new album. It just goes to show that the blanket marketing campaigns before the album release date, the Grammy appearance and all of the other medical issues/jail issues in the media meant nothing in 2015.

You see, when the music eco system was controlled by the record labels, the marketing blitz by the labels meant something. In 2015, it means nothing.

From the 2015 releases, Breaking Benjamin’s “Dark Before Dawn” has sold 209,000 units so far, Marilyn Manson’s “The Pale Emperor” has sold 124,200 units so far and Halestorm’s “Into The Wild Life” has sold 114,500 units so far.

From the 2014 releases, Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways” album has sold 87,800 in 2015, for total sales in 480,000 so far. Slipknot’s “5: The Gray Chapter” has sold 84,000 units in 2015, for total sales of 344,000 units. Nickelback’s “No Fixed Address” album has sold 101,000 units in 2015. Like the Foo Fighters it is approaching Gold status.

Led Zeppelin continues to be a selling machine, so why would they create new music when Copyright grants them and the owners of their songs, rights for the next 110 years to exploit the works.

In case you are wondering “Led Zeppelin 4” sold 75,000 units and “Physical Graffiti” sold 112,400 units in 2015.

Kid Rock’s debut “Devil Without A Cause” is still selling. For 2015 alone, it has moved 86,000 units. Add that to the other 10 million units it has sold so far.

So what is all of the above telling us.

Eventually people will pay, however if a piece of music that people want to check out is not available for free, they will turn away until it becomes convenient. Don’t expect people to pay just because you want them too.

And for all of those critics saying the new bands cannot attain the same level of success as their Seventies and Eighties counterparts, well have a look at some other stats.

 

As influential as Black Sabbath was to metal music, they are being outsold by Linkin Park, Korn and even Limp Bizkit.

Also for all of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s comments about rock being dead because no one is buying recorded music, well, Kiss has never really been a big seller of recorded music anyway. Their 21 million is pretty tame compared to Metallica’s 62 million. In the end, the live show is where it’s at. Deliver there and make that show a cultural event, the sky is the limit.

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