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

2000 – Part 5

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip

Five years after “Ballbreaker” they return with the very underrated “Stiff Upper Lip”.

The title track starts off like blues band jamming at the local pub and then the romp and stomp kick in.

How good is “House Of Jazz”?

That riff groove is so sleazy and foot stomping.

And “Safe In New York City” has this E to G, E to A and E to B flat style chord progression that reminds me of the “Tommy Gunn” riff, but the song vibe is like “Let There Be Rock”.

“Satellite Blues” is an underrated gem in the AC/DC canon.

And its towards the back of the album that it gets bluesy and dirty with “Damned” and “Come And Get It” being excellent additions. Listen to those sharp 7 and flat 9 chords in the Pre Chorus.

“All Screwed Up” is 5 minutes of blues rock while “Give It Up” is a rewrite of “Highway To Hell” but it stands on its own.

Not as big as other albums in sales but it got em on the road again, which is the place that AC/DC rule.

Axel Rudi Pell – The Masquerade Ball

He was labelled a Malmsteen clone, but if anything, he’s more in the mould of German guitarists like Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth, along with Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker with a nod to the British rockers of the 70’s which involves, Paul Kossoff from Free, Jimmy Page from Led Zep, Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow and Mick Ralphs plus Jimi Hendrix who is from the US but went to the UK to make it.

Johnny Gioeli is on vocals as well.

And the album is not on Spotify Australia, but it’s on YouTube which pays less.

“Earls Of Black” and that intro lead break. Check it out.

“Voodoo Nights” sounds like “Big City Nights” from Scorpions. Plus Gioeli delivers a vocal performance.

“The Black Masquerade” at 10 minutes doesn’t get boring (especially the violins in the Chorus) while “Tear Down The Walls” reminds me of his other songs like “Warrior” and a melodic lead break after the Chorus.

Scorpions – Moment Of Glory

And this album is also not on Spotify Australia. It’s Scorpions with the Berliner Philharmoniker. It was meant to be Michael Kamen scoring it, but then left to pursue the Metallica project.

“Hurricane 2000” kicks it off, which is basically “Rock You Like A Hurricane” about a bitch being hungry and how Klaus is going to feed her inches and feed her well.

“Crossfire” really kicks in to overdrive when the “Crossfire” section starts. If your not ready to take up swords and go to war than you’re too uptight.

“Deadly Sting Suite” is also an instrumental merging the Scorpions songs, “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man” with “Dynamite”. And it’s done brilliantly.

And the concert ends with “Still Loving You”, “Big City Nights” and “Lady Starlight”. “Big City Nights” is pretty impressive.

The Berlin Philharmoniker really does a great job with it, and how good are the backing vocalists and the symphonic/choir vocalists.

Black Label Society – Stronger Than Death

The title alone makes me laugh and it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Killed By Death”.

Zakk Wylde wrote all the songs, played all the guitars, did all the vocals and also played the bass and piano. Plus he produced it as well. And mixed and mastered it.

“All For You” has basically a riff which the NuMetal movement “used to death”, but Zakk makes it sound “shiny metal fresh”.

“Phoney Smiles And Fake Hellos” is a favourite.

And he went back to the world of “Miracle Man” for the lyrical inspiration on “Counterfeit God” and when the verse riff kicks in, its down tuned and “heavier than death”.

“Just Killing Time” is those Zakk tunes on the piano and delivering a CCR like vocal.

“Stronger Than Death” is a slow dirge, full of grooves, but interchangeable with a few of the other tracks on this album and “Love Reign Down” closes the album, another groove riff laden cut

Mr Big – Get Over It

I heard this album many years after it came out. I was even surprised the band was still recording after “Bump Ahead” which was released in 1993. And I had to see who was still in the band, because I knew Paul Gilbert left to do Racer X again.

So Eric Martin still wails away and on this one, he is very bluesy, sort of like the Badlands second album. On guitars this time around is Richie Kotzen, with Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey rounding out the rhythm section.

Songwriter Marti Frederiksen is called in and while the bluesy tunes are nice to listen to, they start to become repetitive. Interchangeable in fact.

I suppose I was over it by then.

Dio – Magica

Ronnie James Dio had enough goodwill in my book to warrant eternal fandom. But I didn’t really get into his 90’s output after “Dehumanizer”.

But many years later in the 2000’s (and after Heaven And Hell released “The Devil You Know” album) I started to listen and “Magica” was first because I was always a sucker for a concept album.

The band is a good one for the release with Simon Wright on drums, Jimmy Bain on bass and Craig Goldy on guitars.

“Lord Of The Last Day” is classic Dio, merging his Sabbath time with the dirgy “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” groove.

“Fever Dreams” instantly became a favourite because its riff reminds me of “Dream Evil” and “Long Live Rock N Roll”.

“Challs” is one of the characters in the story and the song is a blues rock groove blended with melodic rock and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. Maybe because it also sounds like the songs from “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” album, like “Rainbow In The Dark” mixed with “Dream Evil”.

“As Long As It’s Not About Love” has this Hendrix “Little Wing” style intro and a haunting vocal line from Dio before it gets into the dirge like groove similar to “Sign Of The Southern Cross” from his Sabbath days.

“Losing My Insanity” is pirate metal and I like it.

“Otherworld” has this Middle Eastern riff, distorted and fuzzed. The riff makes me want to pick up the guitar to learn it. And Dio is telling his stories.

If you like Dio in the 80’s, then you will like this album. There is enough there to keep you interested.

Off to 1985, for Part 5.

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

Sign Of The Times

It was a Metal Hammer magazine in 1989 which had a two page interview with a young German guitarist called Axel Rudi Pell.

I thought what a cool name. The interview was all about his debut album, “Wild Obsession” released in 1989

And I had this “buy list” that I kept in my wallet of records to buy, so I added it to the list. But I never found it available and I never ordered it. And he kept releasing albums and he kept appearing in the European magazines. The U.S and Aussie mags gave him no love and neither did any of the Guitar mags, but the Metal Hammers’ and Kerrangs’ did.

And I kept reading of the albums he kept making, like “Nasty Reputation” released in 91 with Rob Rock on vocals and the albums between 1992 and 1997 which had Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. And I kept adding his albums to the “buy list” and then I stopped.

In 1998, Johnny Gioeli joined on vocals and never left. Remember Hardline and its debut album with Neal Schon, Deen Castronovo and the Gioeli brothers. Yep that same dude. He has done 13 studio albums with Axel Rudi Pell, plus Hardline albums and Crush 40 albums for video games. If you want a hard worker in the music business, Johnny Gioeli is one.

Keeping a stable vocalist has made me a fan of ARP’s works, because he’s unlike other hot shot guitarists who just kept changing singers with each album. Actually only two come to mind at the moment, in Malmsteen and Lynch.

So I’m listening to the new album, “Sign Of The Times” and I don’t know if it’s the mood I am in, or the quarantine for the last 10 weeks, but this album is hitting all the spots for me. Every single song has something which connects.

Like in “Gunfire”, the song reminded me of Motorhead in the riffs, and you had Gioeli pulling out some cool metal vocals and then the guitar solo started and it just kept going and I kept banging that head and I was in love with the song.

“Bad Reputation” is all major key and it’s got that summertime love feel. This could have come from an ELO album, or an early Whitesnake, or Bad Company album, or even Sweet. Hell, Kiss covered this style on “Dynasty” and “Unmasked”.

The Choir voices and the violins kick off “Sign Of The Times” but when the distorted riff comes in on its own, it’s like “Heaven And Hell” and Gioeli is singing about “being on our way to better times”, and it’s got Dio all over it.

“Looking down on the ashes, we are moving on to a new world”

If you call this an unprecedented time, a time of ashes, then we hope to be moving to a new world. Time will tell how we navigate these uncharted waters.

And for all the heaviness of the song with its riffage, the guitar solo section is just drums, keyboards and bass. No rhythm guitar. It’s exactly how it will sound live and of course ARP doesn’t disappoint in the lead.

“The End Of The Line” just rolls along at about 140bpm and my foot is tapping and Gioeli is telling us that “we are running out of time”.

Any song with a title like “As Blind As A Fool Can Be” just screams epic. Before the song even started I was already thinking, “All The Fools Sailed Away”, “Blindman”, “Soldier Of Fortune”, “Sailing Ships” and “When A Blindman Cries”. And it rolls along like any ballad should.

On “Wings Of The Storm” (I know, it’s an overused title), the world gets weirder every day, so Gioeli is looking to fly far away on the wings of the storm. And the riffage by ARP is exactly how it should be. It’s got this bluesy feel in the verses, but it’s still metal. And when the Chorus kicks in, the riffs are excellent but Gioeli is the star with the vocal performance.

And no ARP song is complete without a minute and a half guitar solo. There’s actually two of em on this one. In the middle and in the outro.

“Waiting For Your Call” sounds like an awesome Scorpions song that Scorpions didn’t write.

“Into The Fire” (another overused title, I know) has this groove which reminds of “Kashmir” and “Egypt(The Chains Are On)”. And of course, the solo is worthy for a track which closes the album.

Listening to this album and hearing Gioeli on vocals has got me thinking that I really need to go back and listen to the Hardline albums I haven’t heard since the first album, which happens to be a lot albums.

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