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

1979 – V – It’s Just A Game

If you are super keen to see the previous 4 posts, here they are;

1979 – The Highway To Hell Begins

1979 – II – Somebody Get Me A Doctor

1979 – III

1979 – IV – Lights Out In America

And here is part five.

Toto – Hydra

Toto got success with their debut, and there were expectations they would repeat the hits. I guess no one told the Toto guys, who went and tried something different.

The band came into my life because of Steve Lukather. He was always in the guitar magazines and he interviewed really well. But I didn’t start buying or getting access to the albums until well into the 90s.

There are a few songs on this album which are progressive and man, they work great in Rock and Metal circles and credit to Dave Paich for bringing the prog.

Hydra

At 7 minutes, this song shows a band following their muse and not conforming to what the label desired.

Like all good songs, the intro hooks me in.

And seriously, you wouldn’t expect lyrics about a Dragon lord, a summer solstice and a young man in love with a lady who descends down into darkness, especially after they hit the charts with “Hold The Line”.

99

It’s a love song about a futuristic movie made by George Lucas before Star Wars. You can hear the embryo of “Africa” in this.

The piano arpeggios with the subtle jazz fusion lead break works good.

All Us Boys

It’s just a feel good technical rock and roll song. And that repeating line from 3.10 up to the end (with a lead break chucked in) is super melodic and addictive.

Molly Hatchet – Flirtin’ with Disaster

The cover didn’t give me the impression that this album or band would be a rock and roll boogie band.

One Mans Pleasure

The intro musically blew me away. It started off with a “Another One Bites The Dust”, before morphing into an Aerosmith groove like “Sweet Emotion” and a Chorus from “Sweet Home Alabama”.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain.
One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain.

It’s about hitting the road with the band and leaving your woman behind. Your loss is another mans gain, because she ain’t waiting around.

Boogie No More

It’s got this Rolling Stones vibe merged with Bowie’s “Suffragette City” in the intro. Then it morphs into a speed blues jam song with a guitar solo that references “Free Bird”.

Flirting With Disaster

The way the song starts off with the drummer playing a 16th high hat beat hooks me in. It’s unconventional from the Southern Rock vibe and very Rush like.

I’m out of money, out of hope, it looks like self-destruction
Well, how much more can we take with all of this corruption

Corruption and money go hand in hand. People will lie, cheat, kill and steal for it and the ones who have it would also lie, cheat, scheme and kill, just to keep it.

And the way we run our lives, it makes no sense to me

Living from pay to pay, building someone else’s dream and believing that if you put in more hours, you might just get your turn to make it.

I’m travelin’ down that lonesome road
Feel like I’m dragging a heavy load
Yeah, I’ve tried to turn my head away
Feel about the same most every day

In the end, the road is lonesome and you might walk it with a lot of regrets or “what if’s”.

Long Time

It’s got this “Don’t Fear The Reaper” vibe in the verses which hooks me in.

Triumph – Just a Game

Ric Emmett, underrated guitarist and songwriter. Like, Toto and Asia and Yes, Triumph came into my life because of interviews in the Guitar mags I purchased with their prospective guitarists.

Moving On

That intro riff is in every 70s song. Free, Bowie and Rolling Stones immediately come to mind.

And that section when the backing vocals are singing “on and on”, the tempo is slowed down, Emmett is in the groove bending and picking those strings and I’m reminded of The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” but its just a small reminder.

On and on and on
You’ve got to keep on movin’ on

It’s what life is about, moving on, taking chances, failing and succeeding, embracing changes and doing it all again.

Lay It On The Line

A simple catchy repeating chorus line with chords that would become famous with “I Love Rock N Roll” and you have the gift that keeps giving royalties.

Young Enough To Cry

I once thought that only the Brit guitarists could play this kind of blues rock. Emmett shows that Canadians are more than capable.

And how good are the lines “I’m too old to get hurt baby, Oh but I’m young enough, young enough to cry”.

Just A Game

And that slowed down tempo from “Movin On” which reminds me of The Beatles kicks off the title track. It has enough of a progressive touch to make me listen. And the lyrics are the reason why this song grabs me.

But the corporate strings that make them dance
Lead up to an ivory tower

We sing the song of the corporation daily, so we turn to music as an escape, only to see our heroes suffer the same fate.

And those bosses who we dance for, and pretend to like, live in a world so fake and so out of touch with reality.

Try hard to remember all that glitters is not gold
You can pay the piper, but you cannot buy his soul

Remember the legend of the Pied Piper who abducted all of the children in the village because the people of the town refused to pay him for catching all their rats. Well if you don’t pay your debts, someone will come and collect.

It’s just a game, and all I can do…is play

Play the long game. More so now. Streaming pays over the long run and it pays forever. Be in it and get your fans to stream because no one wins by dominating the news or being the social star or TV star for a month.

Who remembers “The Voice” winners?

And the labels are here to sell the same mainstream pop, hoping that sales and dollars makes them winners. Hell, this derivative method alone killed hard rock, hair metal and whatever kind of metal you want to call it back at the start of the 90s. A market saturated with rubbish is due to be cleaned up.

What you do choose, now, what do you believe, now
Who are you gonna trust?
All you dreams and fancy schemes
Just crumble into dust

To me it’s about free will and free choice. And it’s a touchy subject. People believe because they live in a democracy they are free. But they have a loan, which they need to pay monthly for the next 30 years. It doesn’t sound so free right now when you have a 30 year sentence. And I get it, they had freedom to make the choice to get into debt. But to counter-argue, that choice wasn’t so free because the only way a person could enter the housing market is to get a loan, or a large family donation or an inheritance.

And then in order to pay the loan, they need to ensure they have a job which pays a steady income. Which if they lose the job, all of their dreams and fancy schemes just crumble into dust.

Calm and cool and computerized to calculate and collect
We wait and watch and wonder
Just which puppet they’ll select

Like the movie “Dark City”, their are people we cannot see who manipulate and control what happens.

Science tells us global warming is real and leaders from democratic nations ignore it and call it a lie. Someone with deep pockets controls the narrative, and money rules this game.

Like the moth, too near the flame,
Who learned his truth too late
We’re all too deep into the game
That is the master of our fate

Learn to play the game better than others and maybe we’ll succeed. But remember our time on Earth is limited, and the game ends when we take our last breath.

Blackfoot – Strikes

The melodic rock side of the band is what I liked.

Left Turn On A Red Light

And as I buy myself another ticket, Lord
For somewhere else on down the line
Well I’ll always be a rambler
Well the ones I love always keep tellin’ me

It was a rite of passage once upon a time, to leave home and go your own way. It’s why so many songs with those themes connected. Today, the majority stay at home, because it’s comfortable and risk free.

Wishing Well

How good is this song from Free?

It’s been covered to death, but, what can I say, you can’t keep a good song down. So kick off your shoes and lose yourselves.

Highway Song

The lead breaks from about 4 minutes to the end is the reason why this song is here.

“Solo to the end” was a musical sectional once upon a time. Lost when MTV took power. In saying that, Skid Row brought out the “solo to the end” section in “Quicksand Jesus” and “In A Darkened Room” from “Slave To The Grind”.

Blue Öyster Cult – Mirrors

The album is ordinary except for “Lonely Teardrops”.

That funky riff which reminds me of “Superstitious” and “Play That Funky White Music White Boy” is catchy.

I seem to see a rose
I reach out then it goes
Now in its thorns I roam

Brilliant lines to describe the pain of being away from home.

38 Special – Rockin’ Into the Night

For me, only “Stone Cold Believer” is the highlight.

I speak my mind. I don’t hold it back,
That’s how I am, and I’m hopin’ that’s where you’ at.

Do we really speak our minds?

Research out there reckons that Google and other search engines know more truth about us via our search results than our partners know.

And these days what is truth?

We have battle lines drawn, our view points backed up with our research and away we go, trying to shout louder than the others. It makes great viewing, it might be fun, but it will not change the other persons view.

Viewpoints can change, but not by picking a fight.

Wanna climb that ladder, y’ wanna make it to the top,
Takes only one thing, gotta give it all y’ got.
Knew a man who couldn’t lose, ’cause he never gave in,

You get to the “top” or to your “defined top” by being a lifer. You need to be in it, even when the times are tough and you feel like you should leave.

In saying that if the business venture is costing you money, you’ll need to walk away and cut your losses, but still be in the game and restart again.

Amazon walked away from developments that cost them billions and restarted again. It’s okay to fail and succeed.

Well that’s it for another 1979 section. I think I have a few more to do before 79 is a wrap and I move to 78.

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

The Record Vault – Asia

The cover artwork for the albums I have is created by Roger Dean. His art made the “Yes”, “Uriah Heap” and “Asia” albums iconic. He even sued James Cameron for using one of his covers as an inspiration for an Avatar scene.

So how did Asia come into my life?

It started with the magazines “Guitar World” and “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. Steve Howe always made an appearance and the storytelling in the interviews always revolved around the influential “Yes” albums and his pop “Asia” career.

So into the 90s when everyone traded in their record collection and purchased CDs instead, I managed to pick up the first three “Asia” albums and most of the “Yes” catalogue up to the early 80s at a very cheap price.

By cheap, I mean each record was $3 but buy 10 records for $20.

And when I got home, I played “Asia” first because hey, those albums came out in the 80s and I was an 80s child.

Asia

The debut album released in 1982.

Heat Of The Moment

I dropped the needle and I heard “Heat Of The Moment” and I was like, fuck, is this Asia. At that point in time I’d heard the song heaps but never knew the artist.

Only Time Will Tell

I love the way it starts. Then it’s AOR Journey like in the verses and very Euro like sounding in the pre-Chorus.

You can hear why Asia had huge sales in 82, as fans of rock music gravitated to this style.

Time Again

It’s progressive rock mixed with jazz and it’s perfect. It could have been a format to go with but it didn’t seem to be.

Wildest Dreams

It has this middle jazz like drum solo with some simple chords behind it which gets me playing air drums.

Without You

That guitar lead from 3.05. Yeah, it’s the most simplest lick Howe has played, but the most powerful.

Cutting It Fine

The intro leads are brilliant, going over three octaves.

Asia – Alpha

“Alpha” (released in 83) sold a lot but it was still seen as a failure by the record label.

For me, Steve Howe was in the band, but he wasn’t really part of the song writing, so you don’t hear his progressive jazzy bluesy fusion vibe in the songs.

John Wetton and Geoff Downes did most of the songwriting and it’s pop rock all the way.

Don’t Cry

For some reason the start just hooks me in. It’s like a REO Speedwagon song merged with the groove/chord progression from “Stand By Me”.

Musically and melodically it connects. Lyrics, not so much.

The Heat Goes On

Again how cool is the intro. It reminds of the “Staying Alive” movie which Stallone directed, merged with Aldo Nova and Billy Squier. I dig the melodies and music, but as bands overused the word “rock” in song titles, Asia overused the word “heat”.

True Colors

As soon as I heard the start of the song I thought of Marillion, but Asia came first.

And all those people you call friends
See who defends you when you’re down again
Don’t count on money-spinners then

The truth is no one defends you when you’re down. Everyone is serving their own interest.

Open Your Eyes

And see the world that stands before you now

So true. Open your eyes people and see what stands before you. Do your own research. Read far and wide and listen to arguments for and arguments against your views.

Astra

Released in 1985 and Steve Howe is missing, because of a power play by vocalist John Wetton, as part of his return to the band. Mandy Meyer from Krokus is on guitar duties for an album which is really lacking.

A song called “Rock and Roll Dream” had no rock and roll. And when Brits write a song called “Voice Of America”, well it comes across as a money grab for the US market. So it was no surprise the album failed commercially and the tour was pulled.

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

The Goal Is To Get People To Believe What You Believe

Ask any artist why they didn’t get more recognised, or signed and the answers are variations of the same three things;

– Lack of support
– Didn’t have the right people involved
– Wrong place, wrong time

Ask any record label A&R rep why the act they signed didn’t achieve worldwide domination and you will hear the same three things. If the three excuses for not making it sound familiar, then they should as they are derivative versions of Simon Sinek’s failure reasons from his TED talk. The music world is littered with these kinds of examples. Let’s go back to the Eighties.

Steve Howe left ASIA at the peak of their commercial success to form GTR in 1984. It was a big budget band that Clive Davis from ARISTA touted as the next big thing. It had all the right people in place. The band was well-connected and they had access to funds and support. Apart from Steve Howe on guitar, the band also had Jonathan Mover on drums, Steve Hackett on guitars, Phil Spalding on bass and Max Bacon on vocals. The market conditions were favourable and the timing was perfect. After spending millions on the over produced debut album, it was a commercial disappointment when compared to ASIA’s multi-platinum success.

Nobody knows, anymore, that a band called GTR even existed.

What about Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys?

He had the big backers in Warner Bros Records. He had a talented front man in Perry McCarty. All the right people were in place. Ted Templeman and Beau Hill assisted with the production. Thommy Price and Anton Fig drummed on the album. The market conditions in 1989 suited hard rock music to a tee. The album comes out and disappears as quickly as it was released. Steve Stevens later would refer to this band as an expensive project. Personally I think the album is very good, however the general public at large just didn’t connect with it. Another commercial failure.

What about the band Tangier?

So the story goes something like this. Jon Bon Jovi after his multi-platinum success convinces Polygram to sign Cinderella. Cinderella also strike it big and Tom Keifer then convinces Derek Schulman from ATCO to sign Tangier. Super producer Andy Johns (RIP) was on hand to produce. They had a good band and in Doug Gordon a very compenent and underrated guitarist. They delivered a classic rock AOR album in “Four Winds”. I loved it. The market conditions suited. The funding was there. And it failed commercially.

What about Lynch Mob?

Like Steve Stevens before him, George Lynch left the band that brought his name to the masses. In this case it was Dokken. Elektra bidded to retain his services and proceeded to pay over a million dollars to first get the band members in place and then to get “Wicked Sensation” written, recorded and distributed. So the band had the right support and the funding. George Lynch said in the October 1989 issue of Guitar World that the toughest thing about forming Lynch Mob was finding a great lead singer because that either makes or breaks a band. So it is safe to say that all of the right people were in place within the band. They had a super experienced producer in Max Norman. The songs were perfect. A bit more blues based than the Dokken output but still of high quality. I loved the album. The market conditions suited them. Hell, it was 1989, the era of Hard Rock. And the band still failed commercially.

What about the band Nitro?

Michael Angelo Batio had the endorsements, the quad guitars, instructional videos, a plethora of support  and a banshee vocalist in Jim Gillette. Check out the Guitar World review from October 1989 by Joseph Bosso.

“This album is a wonder – a wonder that anybody thought these guys could play or sing, that they looked good, that they deserved a gig, studio time or worse yet a record deal (with Rampage/Rhino). Utter trash. The worst.”

And of course that band also failed. And yes, I agree totally with the review. That album was pure garbage.

The thing is this. The people who believed in the artists above did it just for the pay check. And it failed to pay off.

While in Seattle, a movement was growing who didn’t have any of the ingredients for success. They had a small local independent record label that supported them and that was it. But those artists were not driven by the RICHES. And we found out years later about the Seattle scene when everyone jumped on its bandwagon.

And to show that so many artists/record label execs of the Eighties were not in the music business for the right thing, the day that Grunge broke out to the masses so many rockers got dropped or just quit. Music is more than just the song. It is about the lifestyle as well. The heavy metal movement morphed into the hard rock movement and its roots/fan base came from the industrial heartlands of the developed economies. At one stage it was a lifestyle to be a metal head. The record labels took that lifestyle away with their overproduced pop metal bullshit and of course we watched it die a horrible death from over saturation.

Be in the game to create masterpieces. That is how you build a body of work. One song at a time. Don’t over analyse what you do as there is no formula for what connects and what doesn’t. You just need to have to right reasons to be in place for why you want to be a musician.

Standard