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

Australian Method Series – Dead Letter Circus – Dead Letter Circus (2018)

There first EP released in 2007 is also called Dead Letter Circus. Hence why I put 2018 in the title of this LP.

Dead Letter Circus is a well loved prog rock band. To me their music is hard to describe as the songs are all in the 3 to 5 minute range, something that bands listed as prog don’t really do. They don’t have a million notes per minute sections either. It’s all music and vocals. And awesome drumming.

The band is Kim Benzie on vocals, Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer on guitars, Stewart Hill on bass, and Luke Williams on drums.

The Armour You Own

The bass and drums set the groove and the guitar locks in with em. It’s familiar and I like it, in the same way AC/DC play it safe within their blues rock style, DLC do the same in their prog alternative rock style.

You will reach
You will fall down
Every time you fail you will change

Truth.

It’s how we learn.

At 2.50 it quietens down before it builds up again. You need to hear it, to feel it.

The Real You

Hey you there
Show me the real you
Here in the physical
Because I see right through

Social media allows us to portray an image that is fake. Take a photo from above your head and suddenly you look slim and with deep fake photos and videos doing the rounds, no one can tell what is real anymore.

People need to get back to what was real. F

ace to face communication. And we can’t even do that in 2021 because of social distancing and lockdowns.

Change

Another song with a familiar sound from the earlier albums.

You alone the reason
The architect of all this time
Now you own this life
Build it
Fill it

It starts with you and no one else. Don’t blame others. It’s your life, own it and if something is not right, you have the power to change it.

It starts with you.

Running Out Of Time

How good is the Intro?

It’s an anthem. This is the band at their best.

Hoping maybe one day everything you want will fall into your hands
You don’t need to try

Life doesn’t work that way. Being a good student and then getting a job to pay bills and a mortgage will not give you what you want. You need to seize it.

We Own the Light

After four rockers, this one is almost ballad like.

No one else can understand my headspace
I’ve been slipping from my happiness
This whole time

We can only fake it for so long before we hit the wall. And we are not alone. So many others experience the same.

Heartline

The vocal melodies are memorable and hooky. This song just needs to be listened to, so it can be fully understood. one of my favorites.

Ladders For Leaders

Another song that lives in ballad like territory. It percolates and simmers.

Somehow they defeated us with no one even bleeding
No resistance or debate
They just covered our eyes
Villains created, become ladders for leaders
To keep us from asking who’s holding the strings coming from their backs

A brilliant verse.

We like to be comfortable and that means we like to have a stable income to get us through life. And for a lot of us, stability is good and we are happy building someone else’s dream while we believe we are building ours.

But for a small percentage of us, stability is not what we desire and we change the world.

Trade Places

This song would not be our of place on their debut album “This Is The Warning” released in 2010.

Yeah if you and I and them trade places
Make our stand in generation
Let the truth collide

Say It Won’t Be Long

This is the best track on the album and it’s deep in the album order.

The way it percolates and builds towards the end, it needs to be listened to.

Now I feel my confidence is growing
My sense of self worth is unfolding
I am now fearless facing forward
So I start crawling

The mental awakening when you stop pretending to be someone else.

Home

I love the grooves and riffs on this one.

I know I’m chasing something I can find home in
Think of all that I’ve been through
Every scar that I’ve grown through
There is nothing to fear now
I am ready for change now
To find my soul in it

What a great message to end the album with.

Lay back, crank it and have the lyric sheet or the lyrics via the net in front of you.

Let the album intoxicate you.

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

2001 – Part 2.6: Nickelback – Silver Side Up

The early 2000s were a great time to be making rock and roll, in the same way the ‘70s were a great time for rock bands. Labels just couldn’t stop signing rock bands. Rock festivals were gargantuan. It was a great time to be a singer in the rock band. And there were a lot of rock bands. Rock was at a pinnacle. Country music was nowhere to be seen and nowhere to be found.
Chad Kroeger – Billboard interview

“Silver Side Up” hit the streets on September 11, 2001. Yep, that September 11.

But nothing was going to stop this album from going 2x platinum in Australia, 3x platinum in the U.K, 6x platinum in the U.S and 8x Platinum in Canada. It was a monster album for the Roadrunner label.

And they had momentum.

Paying their dues since the mid 90’s, “The State” made inroads and their songs “Leader Of Men” and “Breathe” were doing the rounds on radio. In the guitar mags, those songs also got transcriptions, and those transcriptions got me interested in the band.

Rick Parasher is producing. He worked with Zakk on the Pride And Glory album in 1994, as well as “Ten” for Pearl Jam and “Sap” for Alice In Chains.

Never Again

The rumbling bass and drum groove kick off the song. It percolates until the octave guitar riff kicks in. It’s a riff that’s as good as any of the riffs that became Guitar Store staples.

Its metal, in the 2000 way.

Lyrically, it covers domestic violence. With all the knowledge available to people, it’s an issue that doesn’t seem to go away.

How You Remind Me

Billboard celebrated the 2001 year recently and they interviewed Chad Kroeger, asking him a lot of questions about this song and how it came to be.

Woke Up This Morning

Check out the intro/verse groove and riff.

Its heavy metal and a perfect fit for a song about feeling like crap when you wake up in the morning, because life has gotten the better of you.

Too Bad

It deals with abandonment from a child’s perspective. The Kroeger brothers had their father leave when they were young and like all relationships, the father came back into their lives after “Silver Side Up”.

Just For

This song would not be out of place on a Fuel album.

Nickelback had a knack for merging metal with hard rock with grunge with nu-metal with alternative. This song is living proof.

Hollywood

The riff is heavy, reminding me of the “Sad But True” groove. Vocally, its more alternative, grunge like.

Money Bought

It could have appeared on a Nirvana album. These crossover tracks got purists upset.

Where Do I Hide

It sounds like Shinedown took this sound for their debut. Check out the verses call and response vibe.

Hangnail

It’s got a real heavy blues groove. And this part of their style gets missed or forgotten.

And it’s got a chorus which sounds really similar to “How You Remind Me”.

Good Times Gone

Country blues rock before it became massive again in the mid 2000’s and way before Jovi took the “Lost Highway”. Goddamn, it could have come from the vintage fingertips of Tom Keifer and his 1990 “Heartbreak Station”.

In the end, Nickelback had an algorithm. “Physical Graffiti” + “Eliminator” + “Nevermind” + “Superunknown” + “Ten” + “The Joshua Tree” + “Metallica Black” = good popular songs and potential success.

And this album captures the algorithm nicely but “All The Right Reasons” in 2010 would perfect it.

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

2001 – Part 2.4: Live – V

To me it’s all just rock music in the end.

“V” is album number five, released in 2001. The band for the album is Ed Kowalczyk on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Chad Taylor on lead guitar, Patrick Dahlheimer on bass and Chad Gracey on drums. Like most of the albums, the majority of tracks are written by Ed Kowalczyk.

Wikipedia tells me that the collection of songs that became “V” was never intended to be released as an album. Guitarist Chad Taylor said, “The goal was to prepare songs for the next studio session. MCA got a hold of the material and pushed us to call it an album.” The songs were originally going to be released free to fans as a collection called “Ecstatic Fanatic”.

“Deep Enough”

One of their most creative songs. I was hooked from the intro.

It basically starts off with a music box piano riff, and then a Middle East music melody crashes in, which keeps repeating under a catchy verse vocal line which I’m pretty sure Karnivool was influenced by for the verse melody on “Themata”.

And the track was meant to be the album’s first single but the record company pulled rank and released “Simple Creed” instead which proved to be a big mistake.

Maybe they got scared from the lyrical nature of the song, about skirts rising and male appendage excitement rising with it.

“People Like You”

It feels like a Guns N Roses song from the “Use Your Illusion” album. In the Chorus, Ed even sounds like Axl.

In a dream I had you were standing all alone
With a dyin’ world below and a microphone
Singin’ hallelujah
I finally broke their mold

We take and cop so much crap as we go through life. People try to shape us to some version that they believe is true. Be unique, be free and don’t let others drag you down.

People like you! people like you! Motherfuckers like you! people like you!

It’s my favourite part of the song, when Ed sings the melody for the above lyrics and the guitar plays the octave guitar melody. And yes, he does say “motherfuckers”

“Transmit Your Love”

This track could have been an album cut on “Secret Samadhi”.

“Forever May Not Be Long Enough”

The piano riff to start the song is excellent.

It’s a co-write with Glen Ballard, who everyone wanted to work with after “Jagged Little Pill” blew up around the world in 1995.

In 1997, Aerosmith worked with him on the very underrated “Nine Lives” album and it’s the song “Taste Of India” which Ballard co-wrote with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, that I’m reminded off when I hear this song, which was also played during the closing credits of “The Mummy Returns” movie.

“Call Me A Fool”

The Beatles influences come through on this.

“OK”

Musically, this is Live bringing the funk and soul.

Take away my TV
don’t want your fuckin’ therapy
it’s all decay decay decay
not today, not today

Kids listening to this song today, won’t even know why someone would want their TV taken away. For them, the TV is like how the radio was for others, background noise. Most of our attentions are fixated on our small black screens.

“Overcome”

It’s got a piano riff and violins to set the mood and a nice vocal melody, but the lyrics about “holy water in lungs” are way to pretentious.

“Hero of Love”

The Beatles are back again for the album closer. Listen to this song for the Chorus.

“Throwing Copper” at 8x Platinum in the U.S was never going to be topped. It was part of a cultural movement. And “Secret Samadhi” is a great album, but it only went 2x Platinum in the U.S.

No small feat, but a massive drop in commercial expectations. “The Distance To Here” is at Platinum for U.S sales. “V” has no certification, not even a Gold.

And their commercial trajectory was similar to the 80’s bands on albums four and five except Metallica who had their biggest success with album number 5.

But they still do good live business, when live shows used to happen.

Because of “Throwing Copper”.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

The KISS that rocks

Revenge made Kiss relevant again.  1982’s Creatures of The Night and 1983’s Lick It Up, re-established Kiss as a force to be reckoned with in the Eighties.

MTV was the outlet, and every time Lick it Up came on, it made me stop and watch.  This was all about the music.  The band had removed their make-up and they needed to make a statement.  Lick It Up was that statement.   That crunchy and distorted guitar from Vinnie Vincent is what makes the song roll.  Of course, it wouldn’t be long before Vincent was shifted. It’s like Gene Simmons can’t handle having talented people around me for a long period of time. Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.

Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.

By the time the keyboard heavy Crazy Nights (1987) and the pop metal Hot In The Shade (1989) came out, fans started to accuse the band of following whatever MTV trend was popular at the time. 

Crazy Crazy Nights to me was so hooky and it was as good as anything else that was in the Charts at that time. I personally love the song, and this is in the era, post the Slippery When Wet explosion.  It just reminds me of good times and crazy days, sort of like how Tesla’s Lazy Days and Crazy Nights song does.  Listening to the Crazy Crazy Nights song today (I did an Eighties’ CD for my wife and this song was one of the songs I put on it) it just reminds me of how busy my life has come to be, where most of the time I am running on empty or caffeine.  It would good to be able to kick back and relax. 

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

A song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here. Crazy Crazy Nights was co-written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Going back to the well that gave birth to quality previously, is a good thing.   

Going back to the Revenge album. The Nineties had a massive paradigm shift in the music business.  Kiss, now had to compete with bands that released game changing albums.  Nirvana released Nevermind and Pearl Jam released Ten bringing Grunge and Alternative Rock to the masses.  U2 released Achtung Baby, Red Hot Chilli Peppers released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Metallica released the Black album, The Cult release Ceremony, Guns N Roses released the Use Your Illusion I and II albums, Ozzy Osbourne released No More Tears, Skid Row released Slave To The Grind, Pantera released A Vulgar Display of Power and Van Halen released For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  The majority of the albums had a heavy rock feel and in the case of Van Halen it was return to the brown sound. 

Coming into the recording process of Revenge, Kiss already had some momentum going with God Gave Rock N Roll To You, which appeared in the movie, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991. The song is an Russ Ballard composition for the band Argent, however additional credit is given to Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Bob Ezrin.  Argent at that time was trying to follow up their mega hit, Hold Your head Up, so when God Gave Rock And Roll To You came out, it bombed.  However the song is a great song, and it is a good thing that Kiss rescued it and turned it into a hit.

For Kiss to be relevant in the Nineties, they had to do something different, so they hired a marketing consultant firm to find out what the fans wanted. The answers came back.  The fans wanted more Demon, more heaviness, more rock and an album to rival 1976’s Destroyer. It was time to get the team together.  Bob Ezrin who produced the epic Destroyer and the terrible Music From The Elder was hired to produce.

The biggest decision made was to use the fantastic, talented and egotistical Vinnie Vincent as a songwriter.  Simmons and Stanley realised that Vincent’s contributions to the Creatures of The Night and Lick It Up albums, had produced songs that have become some of the best and well known Kiss songs in recent memory.  The sinister single opener Unholy was written by Simmons and Vincent.  It is heavy, it is evil and it fit perfectly in the current music climate at the time. 

You send your children to war
To serve bastards and whores

It’s a tough lyric line.  There is that devilish theme throughout the song.   

Other classic Vincent penned songs that appear on Revenge are Heart of Chrome is written by Paul Stanley, Vinnie Vincent and Bob Ezrin, while I Just Wanna is written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent.

It is a shame that this song writing partnership went sour so quickly again, and they haven’t collaborated since. 

Revenge is Kiss being themselves and by doing that, they made a record that satisfied the hard core fan bases and somehow also fitted in with the times,

Of course, the album is also in memory to drummer Eric Carr, who passed away due to cancer, before the recording process started.  Eric Singer took his place in the band and he has been with Kiss, since then.  How good was the Badlands project that Eric Singer was in, with Jake E.Lee, Ray Gillen and Greg Chaisson?  However that is for another day.

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