Music

1984 – Ep 2

the playlist

Coming into 1984, hard rock and metal bands started popping up everywhere in the mainstream. Magazines moved their reporting from different styles of music to cover only hard rock. The labels even started promoting rock music with glam metal, hair metal, glam rock, heavy rock and melodic rock suddenly becoming genres. And regardless of what “genre” a band got labelled with, we still found the albums in the heavy metal category of the record shop.

Part 1 is here.

Judas Priest still had the world in the palm of their hands with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” released two years before. And then they dropped “Defenders Of The Faith”.

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith

Before Judas Priest there was metal music, but the mighty Priest woke us all up and got us addicted. With “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”, they infected television, radio and the jukeboxes around the world. So the world was waiting with what they would unleash next.

“We’ve always maintained that albums are important from year to year, but especially after topping the platinum mark in the States, we knew that we had to come up with a follow-up which was going to carry on from there and take us to even greater heights.”
Rob Halford, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

What an album.

Rising from darkness where hell hath no mercy and the screams for vengeance echo on forever. Only those who keep the faith shall escape the wrath of the Metallian… Master of all metal.

Freewheel Burning

How good is this song?

The speed, the lyrics, the riffs and those lead breaks. It’s all break neck stuff. I am pretty sure a few members from a band called “Helloween” were listening intently.

Fast and furious / Look before you leap has never been the way we keep / Our road is free / Charging to the top / And never give in never stops the way to be

The words that leap off the vinyl instantly capture the essence of the metal spirit of never giving in and dealing with whatever comes our way. And it sets the tempo for what the album is, fast and furious all the way.

Jawbreaker

There are no radio hits on this album, just songs made for the artist and the fan.

Rock Hard Ride Free

That guitar intro and harmony lead is enough to hook me in. And the lyrics sum up the 80’s movement to a tee.

No denying we’re going against the grain
So defiant they’ll never put us down

By this stage, rock and roll wasn’t becoming part of the grain and by 1986 it was the grain. But we still loved the “us versus them” lyrics.

Rock hard, ride free
All day, all night
Rock hard, ride free,
All your life

It’s what we wanted to do all day, to rock hard and be free.

The Sentinel

My favourite track on the album. I could listen to it over and over again.

This is music made for the sound system and not the earbuds. I would crank it up and the whole room would be filled with the sound. And it felt good. Halford sets the scene along deserted avenues with figures primed and ready for a quick surprise.

Sworn to avenge
Condemn to hell
Tempt not the blade
All fear the sentinel

It’s an arena rock chorus but it’s lyrical message is so far removed from the pop charts and the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Cum On Feel The Noize” type of messages.

And how good are the riffs underneath the Chorus vocal melody.

Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

If the man with the power cant keep it under control
Some heads are gonna roll

So relevant today as it was back in the 70’s and 80’s. Especially with so many men in power with ego’s to match.

The power mad freaks who are ruling the Earth
Will show how little they think you’re worth

And these power mad freaks are not just the leaders in charge, they are the giants in control of the biggest global corporations we have ever scene.

Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith

The simple drum intro reminds me of “I Love It Loud” from Kiss and then the riffs come crashing down. Brilliant. It sounds heavy and it suits the title to a tee.

And prove to all the world
Metal rules the land
We’re heavy duty
So come on let’s tell the world

And for a brief moment in time in the 80’s metal did rule the world.

Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi

The debut album from the “guys from Jersey” is tiny compared to the albums that came after, but still has some worthy riffs to talk about.

Runaway

The keyboard riff and the synchonrised drums and guitar all work together.

As much as Jovi hates playing this song or any song from the first two albums live because of the silly lyrical themes, “Runaway” has become a favourite amongst the “Slippery” fans who purchased the back catalogue once “Slippery” exploded.

And yeah, the lyrics are clichéd, but no can deny it’s catchiness.

Roulette

I actually dig the riffs on this, hence the reason why it’s on here.

She Don’t Know Me

It’s a cover song, and it’s perfect for Jovi’s first album.

Shot Through The Heart

Funny story, when I heard “You Give Love A Bad Name” on the TV music channels, I came in halfway through, so I thought the song was called “Shot Through The Heart”. So when I went to purchase the album, I saw the “Slippery When Wet” album first and it didn’t have a song on it called “Shot Through The Heart”. I picked up the debut album and saw it on there, so I purchased that instead.

“Shot Through The Heart” is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Jack Ponti and the track has this infectious piano riff in the intro and Sambora goes to town in this song, showing his melodic chops in decorating the song.

Burning For Love

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. As with all of the earlier stuff, Sambora goes to town during the lead breaks, showcasing his abilities as a melodic shredder.

Come Back

It’s got some cool riffs and the lead break is very different.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force

For some insane reasoning, this album is not on Spotify Australia. It still blows me away how artists or the label/corporation who hold the copyright believe that geo-restrictions are a good thing in a world where we are all connected to each other. But it’s on YouTube, which pays less. Yep, it sure sounds like good business logic.

Marillion – Fugazi

The Fish led era of Marillion was an acquired taste and I enjoyed the music more than the vocals. Actually, certain sections of music, which I even used as templates for interludes for my own songs.

Punch and Judy

How good is the start from 0.00 to 0.22? Yep, those 22 seconds hooked me. That’s all it took.

Emerald Lies

Again, the intro hooks me in from 0.00 to 0.42.

Cinderella Search – 12” Version

And again, the intro hooks me.

And then from 3 minutes onwards, the piano starts playing a riff that is addictive, as the drums and guitars start to pick it up and I am hooked all the way to the end, while Fish is singing, “Welcome To The Circus”.

Assassing – Alternate Mix

Dream Theater have used this song as influence for quite a few DT songs. I think it’s one of Marillion’s best songs, combining a lot of influences and genres into one song, as it moves from Pink Floyd like grooves into more progressive adventures and new wave pop.

Three Boats Down From The Candy

Again the first minute of the song gets me interested and then when that guitar melodic lead comes in at 2.49, I am all in.

Metallica – Ride The Lightning

When I first heard the album I was blown away lyrically. Musically I didn’t even know what kind of music it was. I felt like a chainsaw assaulted my earbuds. Because it didn’t sound like the hard rock mixes I was used to, it took me a while to get used to it. What can I say, my ears were conditioned to enjoy the Tom Werman, Keith Olsen, Bruce Fairbairn produced albums.

And I still contend that “Ride The Lightning” is the album that should define Metallica. It was original, progressive and it set the track list template for future albums which followed.

Fight Fire With Fire

Man, those acoustic guitars at the start is the calm before the storm. Because once the chainsaw riff starts, it’s circle pit time and James Hetfield’s vocal delivery is bordering on death metal.

And it ends with a nuclear bomb going off, just before the harmonies of “Ride The Lightning” kick in.

Ride The Lightning

The harmony guitars and the drums in the intro hook me straight away.

For Whom The Bells Toll

A bell tolls. And there is a pause.

A bell tolls again. And there is another brief pause.

Then the staccato F#5 power chord comes crashing down, before it goes to the E5 power chord to ring out. Then the bass solo . Then the descending chromatic riff which mimics the bass solo. And when you think the first verse is about to come in, a harmony guitar lead happens, which is repeated over and over again, until the riff which underpins the Chorus comes in.

And then the first verse happens. 2 plus minutes after the song started. The approach to song writing is progressive and impressive, especially when you take into account the ages of the members.

Fade To Black

It’s a game changer song. The intro is influenced by the intro in “Goodbye Blue Sky” by Pink Floyd from 1979. The start of the outro when James is singing is influenced by the intro from Black Sabbath’s, “A National Acrobat” from 1973. And from all of these influences, the song still sounds original.

By the end of Side 1, I was floored by a four punch knock out. The needle went back to the start and I had to turn over the LP to side 2. But I played Side 1 again and again and again, until I basically overdosed on it.

Then I switched to side 2.

Trapped Under Ice

This song doesn’t get any love, but it’s a tribute to their NWOBHM roots. Kirk also provided the verse riff, which originally appeared in the Exodus song “Impaler”.

I don’t know how to live through this hell
Woken up, I’m still locked in this shell
Frozen soul, frozen down to the core
Break the ice, I can’t take anymore

Yeah, it could be about being trapped under ice or could be all metaphors. The “ice” is the home and the “frozen soul” is a life controlled by others.

Escape

The intro is excellent.

For the “fans” who criticised the “Black” album, they should really not forget tracks like “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape” and “Leper Messiah” from “Master Of Puppets”. Slower tempo songs that would not be out of place on the “Black” Album. The theme of control and manipulation will come up again in “Welcome Home”, “Dyers Eve” and “The Unforgiven”.

Feed my brain with your so called standards
Who says that I ain’t right

Creeping Death

So let it be written that I loved covering this track with the bands I was in. It’s a classic metal song for the ages. “Am I Evil” and “Blitzkrieg” are covers that ended up as B sides to the “Creeping Death” single, but still worthy additions to be included here as people believed these to be proper Metallica songs.

The Call Of Ktulu

Another game changer track, a progressive 7 minute instrumental track. It’s got a bit of everything, written when Mustaine was still in the band and it’s got the embryonic riff of what will become “Hanger 18” in Megadeth many years later.

Y&T – In Rock We Trust

I didn’t know it in the Eighties, but Y&T would became one of my favourite bands in the Nineties, as I managed to pick up all of their albums up to “Ten” from a second hand record shop. Their big money Geffen move didn’t happen until the late 80’s and A&M was the wrong label for these classic albums. Regardless, Y&T’s music goes through my brain on a regular basis. They’re embedded there, part of my DNA.

Rock And Roll’s Gonna Save The World

Y&T always started off with a strong cut. This was even more important in the CD era as there was only one side and a lot of people never made it to the end of the album.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life, Life, Life

It’s a bloody scene
Hear the population scream
As the missile rushes in
Can’t you feel the flames of hell?

What’s changed in 2018 from 1984? Missiles are still rushing in and for people living in these war zones, it is hell. And for all of our technological advancements to integrate and socialise, we are even more divided.

We let the insane play their fools game
They’re runnin’ a race for death

These lyrics might have referenced a dictator, however democratic leaders today are no better.

It’s time to make a stand for
Life, Life, Life
It’s time to break down the chain of command

We are the only ones who can make change happen, but we choose to opt out so we don’t upset other people.

Masters And Slaves

What a song and how good are the lyrics.

It’s such a dirty game
That it fills you with rage
There’s only kings and queens
And you’re a pawn in their game

Truth in these words. If you don’t believe me, name me the one thing keeping you up at night. Money, security, safety. Kings and queens don’t have that problem. And if you borrow money, guess what, you become even a bigger pawn in the game.

Of masters and slaves
We’re divided that way
Are you a master or slave?
Do you rule or obey?

We are born, our parents rule and we obey. We go to school and our teachers rule, while we obey. We go to work and the boss rules, while we obey. We get married, and the other partner rules while we obey.

When they tell you it’s the home of the free
Well, they must be insane

Who would have thought that living in a free country would be so expensive?

‘Cause it’s dog eat dog from morning ’till night
And only the strongest survive
It’s the law of the jungle, only winners have rights
The losers relinquish their lives

There is no story about the losers. Only the winners. And they re-write history to suit their point of view.

So, you think you’re made
When you have your fortune and fame
But don’t you realize
Oh, someone’s running the game

These lyrics reference life, experience, skin in the game. It’s not all about being a red hot live wire, wanting to feel the noise. How many artists lost all the money they made when their career and the public acceptance of their music started to fade.

I’ll Keep On Believin’ (Do You Know)

I’ll keep on believin’
I won’t let our love slip away

Again, words of life, about being out on the road for long periods, leaving relationships and friends behind, only to find out when you come back home, they have moved on.

Break Out Tonight

The streets are misty in the mornin’ light
The fog hides everythin’ from view
It’s time to make a move to change my life
I gotta make my dreams come true

The song is simple, like the band just rolled the tape in the studio and when Dave Meniketti opens his mouth, truth comes out (courtesy of the lyrics written by bassist, Phil Kennemore). If you want to make your dreams come true, it rarely happens when you are sitting in the comforts of your hometown. You need to break out.

Don’t Stop Runnin’

Ahh, yes a song about being with someone as you are rising up the ladder of stardom and suddenly when you hit a rough patch, that person leaves, and as soon as your fame star starts to rise again, they want to come back into your life.

Umm, no.

When I had the world in the palm of my hand
You never looked at another man
But when I started to slip, you said bye, bye, bye

With you one day, gone the next.

Well you heard I got my big break
So now you’re sayin’ that you made a mistake
And you wanna come back for the ride, ride, ride

Does it really happen like this? I’m still not convinced. Once it’s over, it’s over. For me there are no second chances.

Well the word is out all over town
You’re not the only girl that’s chasin’ me down
Take your place at the end of the line, line, line

It’s a cool revenge song.

This Time

I always dig a good power ballad with cool music. And this one has got some nice guitar playing with clean tone apreggios and distorted chords crashing together to create a cool foundation to build the melodies on.

Darling, I’ve been so afraid
To share what’s on my mind
But I believe you’re just like me
And I can trust in you this time, this time

Safety is what connects us and when you find someone with similar values, you feel connected and by default you feel safe.

The past is full of fallen stars
Of love that I’ve denied
But somehow I know we won’t make
The same mistake this time

Oh, all those missed chances or words unsaid.

Whitesnake – Slide It In

From a copyright point of view, how the hell would David Coverdale do the accounting for it. There are the songwriters who would deserve their royalty and then there are the two versions of the albums, with different members and because those members played on the album, they would get a performance royalty.

The remixed US version of the album had John Sykes replacing the guitar parts of Mel Galley and Micky Moody, while Neil Murray replaced the bass parts of Colin Hodgkinson.

Good luck in working out the percentages.

Gambler

This little bluesy rocker opens the UK edition of the album, but not the U.S one. It’s written by David Coverdale and the very underrated and not very MTV friendly looking Mel Galley.

Slide It In

The Free/Bad Company style of blues rock influences this Coverdale composition about sliding a knife in butter right to the top. The lead breaks are different between the US and UK versions. For me, I prefer the UK version lead break as its more melodic and more sing-along.

Slow an’ Easy

The heavily influenced Led Zep “Slow an’ Easy” is written by Coverdale and Micky Moody. Lyrically it deals with a superstitious woman who will be taken down slow and easy. The US mix has a few pinch harmonic screams that the UK version doesn’t have.

Love Ain’t No Stranger

This classic is written by Coverdale and Galley. I liked the way Coverdale, had a slow intro before the whole band crashes in.

Give Me More Time

Another Coverdale and Galley cut that takes its cues from AC/DC in the verses. And the lead break is excellent and very reminiscent to the “Slide It In” lead break.

Standing in the Shadow

Another Coverdale composition. Seriously, is there a more broken hearted person than David Coverdale?

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

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

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

Spit It Out

Another Coverdale and Galley composition, which is basically saying if she doesn’t like it, she can “Spit it Out” while Kiss was singing, “Lick It Up”. I guess people just couldn’t make up their minds.

Guilty of Love

How cool are the guitar harmonies at the start, which again are written by the very underrated guitarist known as David Coverdale.

Cold Chisel – Twentieth Century

The final studio album for Australian band Cold Chisel before they went their separate ways in the 80’s. Hell the album even came out months after they played their final show in December of 83.

Side 1 had three Chisel classics in “Saturday Night”, “No Sense” and “Flame Trees”. Hard to believe that “No Second Prize” from Jimmy Barnes solo album that followed this was rejected from this album.

Saturday Night

Piano player and band founder, Don Walker wrote it about his views of Sydney’s King Cross district, with vocals shared between guitarist Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes.

“The band I’d been in for ten years was breaking up. I think it’s just a ‘kissing all that goodbye and moving on into the unknown’ song.”

Don Walker

No Sense

A Jimmy Barnes composition, with a very reggae feel about people that make no sense at all.

Flame Trees

Drummer Steve Prestwich co-wrote the music on a bass and Walker added the lyrics, about growing up and his dreams of leaving his birthplace behind.

The Game

It’s the only track I like on Side 2, written by bassist Phil Small and lyrics by Walker, about losing your place in the game, which to me, the game could be life, a relationship, a workplace or even a gambling table.

Well that’s it for Part 2, stay tuned for Part 3.

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

New Jersey

I felt like listening to Jovi, so I called up “New Jersey” on Spotify. 

“Slippery When Wet” was written while Jovi and Sambora still lived at home and had a million dollar debt to the record label. The start of the “New Jersey” song writing process began as soon as the band came off a gigantic 18 month world tour with millions to their name. A double album was demoed and rejected. Desmond Child was brought in and a few more songs got written. Other outside songwriters like Dianne Warren and Holly Knight also contributed. The double album then became a single album and months after the conclusion of the “Slippery” tour, Bon Jovi had a new album ready to release and another world tour on the cards.

Jovi once said in an interview (and I am paraphrasing here) “What I didn’t get out of New Jersey was the pure pleasure of it”.

“Slippery” changed everyone around the band before it changed the band. Suddenly people around them started to make money because the band was making money. It was only natural that the band was sent right back into the studio.

Also after working so hard to make it, Jovi and Sambora realised that it’s even harder to stay on top. The success they had post “Slippery” could not be there tomorrow. “Slippery When Wet” moved 9 million copies in the U.S between 1986 and 1988 so the pressure was on to repeat it. Suddenly the band needed to deliver hits, where in the past they delivered songs that became hits. It’s a big difference in the mindset of the writer. Gone was the ignorance problem and in was the fame problem.

The problem that record labels don’t understand is people don’t always care about what the bands care about. And the reason they don’t care is because they don’t believe what the band believes in at certain points in time. In some cases, people just grow up and fall out of love with the soundtrack of their youth. And Bon Jovi’s challenge was to engage with their fan base and communicate in a way that shares the same emotion, values and beliefs. The fan base was also much larger than the fan base they had coming into the “Slippery” sessions.

They did their homework, looking at what Mutt Lange did with “Hysteria”. In addition, Aerosmith used Bruce Fairbairn for their 1987 smash “Permanent Vacation” so they had a fair idea as what kind of production was required.  

“Lay Your Hands On Me” was meant to be Bon Jovi expressing the feeling to the fans, that the band is still accessible. The same old dudes with new shoes, but the song was marketed as something totally different. Plus it kept in line with Bruce Fairbairn’s methodology that each opening track needs to have a cool intro for the live show.

“Bad Medicine” was a simple little romp linking making love to bad medicine. It might taste bad but you keep on going back.

“Born To Be My Baby” was a title Sambora came up with while Jon was playing the chord progression. It was more Dylanesque in the demo version with harp and harmonica in the mix than the final amped up version released on the album. 

“Living In Sin” is Springsteenesque. It had a pretty cool film clip with a decent amount of skin showing and Jovi is trying to move away from sugar pop into more serious territory lyrical.

“Blood On Blood” drew inspiration from the Stephen King film “Stand By Me” with River Phoenix and Keifer Sutherland. Jon had the draft, Sambora and Desmond Child further developed it. It’s also another song that’s very Springteenesque. “Blood On Blood” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” are two songs Jon Bon Jovi would like to be remembered by.

“Homebound Train” is a rolling rocking good time song, perfect for the live show. But in an era that was controlled by MTV it would never have been a hit to the record label machine.

“Wild Is The Wind” and “Stick To Your Guns” are good pieces of AOR and occupy a similar place that “Without Love” and “I’d Die For You” occupy on “Slippery”. Both are fan favourites.

“I’ll Be There For You” was the unexpected hit on the album, buried deep at track number 10. “99 In The Shade” and “Love For Sale” close off the album. To be honest “Love For Sale” along with “Ride Cowboy Ride” should have remained off the album.

The foundation of any good record is the SONG. The song is meant to hit you in the heart, bring up some sentimental feeling or some feeling about the now. And the music we like accompanies us throughout our life. Human songs about what we go through in life are what end up sticking with us in the long run. 

“Jersey” came out, another 2 year tour happened and in between Jon Bon Jovi got married. Once the tour ended, Jon Bon Jovi went on a road trip, released a solo album for a movie and achieved even more success. Richie Sambora was left in limbo, picked up the pieces and also released a solo album. While “Jersey” didn’t have the same sales success as “Slippery”, it is a solid album and the band earned its keep as one of the best live shows.

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

Score Card Inc V2.0

Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora
“Aftermath of the Lowdown” is way better than any Bon Jovi music released from 2007 onwards. It’s deep and personal and there was no way that Jon Bon Jovi would have put his vocals to those songs, so they ended up being Richie Sambora songs. But it did nothing commercially and Sambora is from the cloth of sales and charts. So he went back to the comfort zone of Bon Jovi, but he wasn’t feeling it, so he went solo again,which has morphed into a duo called RSO.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi continued on as business as usual, making huge profits at the box office. However, all was not well with the label and “Burning Bridges” was meant to be the goodbye letter, but money talks. And Jovi is back in league with the label they hated and a new album called “This House Is Not For Sale” is out. Suddenly the press is going gaga over its number 1 charting and since the legacy labels still control the news cycle. But the album is a flop. It’s second week was a disaster and nothing has been mentioned about its third or fourth week. But, the ones that control news cycle are doing their best to rewrite history, seizing on a few words that Jovi said “down playing Richie’s role in the song writing”. Suddenly, Richie wasn’t involved as much.

The truth is they are better together than apart.

But then again, all of the good bands had a high creative span of about 10 years before they split or went on hiatus. The Beatles, The Eagles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss and Aerosmith all had close to 10 years of mega creativity in the 70’s.

Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith (again), Slayer, Megadeth, Skid Row, Van Halen and many others had a good run from 1980 to 1992.

But the MTV era gave bands a longer shelf life and what we have in the modern age is sub-standard music.

But past success is no guarantee of future success. Our lives and society in general is more fluid, especially when it comes to new music. And Jovi is selling c grade re-writes of past hit songs, and using his brand to do it. There are just not enough new things there to convince people to listen and there’s not enough new things there to convince people who weren’t paying attention before to pay attention now. And Jovi along with Universal are hoping that people pay attention to the marketing and not to what’s inside the album. And the media is out of touch with consumers and the people in general. In all democratic countries, the media is consistently getting it wrong. Hell, they couldn’t even get Brexit and Trump correct because they fail to understand that success or failure is in the hands of the people and not the celebrities. And why haven’t all of the celebrities left UK or the US when Brexit and Trump happened.

What Jovi needed was a hit single. Instead we got 17 songs (that is if you got the deluxe edition) requiring too much of our time. Only diehard super fans will have the time, however, even those fans will have competing priorities these days. U2 is in the same boat and let’s not talk about the mess that was Aerosmith’s last album.

Because bands shouldn’t forget, that their newest release is competing with the history of recorded music and their old hits. I can easily switch from Metallica to Led Zeppelin to Dream Theater to Motley Crue to Ratt to Kiss to Machine Head to Dokken, etc.

Europe
Europe broke through to the mainstream about the same time Bon Jovi did in 1986 and that is where the similarity ends. While Jovi had commercially successful albums in “New Jersey” and “Keep The Faith”, Europe had modest success with “Out of This World” and “Prisoners of Paradise”. Europe then went on hiatus and lost their record deal with Epic in the process, while Jovi went on to more albums and eventually a comeback hit with “It’s My Life”.

But when Europe got their act together in 2003 and got control over their music catalogue, a funny thing happened. They started to make more money then what they did at the peak of their commercial success.

And Europe in 2016, is a better creative entity than Bon Jovi is.

Since 2003, the band has released five albums. The very modern and down tuned “Start from the Dark” album came out in 2004. Then in 2006, the very modern and melodic “Secret Society” album came out. The very modern but retro sounding “Last Look At Eden” album came out in 2009, followed by their jam record in “Bag Of Bones” in 2012. Then in 2015, their classic rock album “War Of Kings” came out.

And suddenly, Europe is getting traction again in the U.S and Australia, but this time it’s on their own terms and their own control. By doing what they do best. Be musicians first and create. They didn’t try and be tech entrepreneur, football club owners, gadget makers and so forth.

Digital Summer
One of the best DIY bands out there. In 2013, they were riding the wave of their fan funded “Breaking Point” album, released in 2012. 2013 also gave us “After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired”, which was followed by a stand-alone single called “50 Shades” in 2015. In between keeping a band going, the guys still hold down full time jobs.

Meanwhile, a new hashtag #DSAquarius has been doing the rounds on their Facebook page while new family additions in the DS world has led to a halt of the songwriting process for the follow up album. That’s how DIY Indie bands roll.

Don Dokken/George Lynch/Jeff Pilson/Mick Brown
In 2013 there was talk of a Dokken reunion but it never happened. Then finally in 2016 it happened and they all got paid well.

Since 2013, George Lynch has been the most creative of the four even though Don Dokken keeps on telling everyone that these projects didn’t do well commercially. Surely an artist should create because of a need to create, not because of a need to make millions.
• 2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live from Sugarhill Studios
• 2014 – Lynch Mob – Sun Red Sun
• 2014 – KXM (featuring Doug Pinnick from King’s X and Ray Luzier from Korn)
• 2015 – Lynch Mob – Rebel
• 2015 – George Lynch – Shadow Train
• 2015 – Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
And Lynch has new releases coming out for Project N Fidelikah, Lynch Mob and KXM in 2016 and 2017 and it looks like Sweet and Lynch will have another album coming out as well.

Dokken on the other hand, released Broken Bones in 2012 and a rumoured project with Michael Schenker is still being talked about. Meanwhile, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown have become touring go to guys for Foreigner and Ted Nugent.

Black Veil Brides
So in January 2013, the Black Veil Brides told us “The Story Of The Wild Ones”, their concept rock opera about standing up against the army of F.E.A.R., which was also adapted into a film called “Legion of the Black”. The lead single, “In the End” became a streaming behemoth for the band with 32,301,515 streams and still counting.

Then in October 2014, they released their self-titled album, otherwise known as “Black Veil Brides IV” with Bob Rock as the producer. It gave birth to a favourite of mine in “Goodbye Agony” and on Spotify it has racked up 7,105,442 streams. Sonically it’s one of their best recordings. Since then Andy Biersack issued a solo release and we wait for new music from BVB. Like a lot of other bands in music, having new music out on a yearly basis is the new thing, like how it was in the seventies and eighties.

Zakk Wylde/Black Label Society
In 2013, Zakk dropped “Unblackened” a live acoustic album, which was forgettable, but no one can forget “Angel Of Mercy” (currently it has over 1.5 million streams) and that unbelievable lead section from Zakk.

“Angel Of Mercy” appeared on the “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” album released in 2014. Then in 2016, we got another acoustic album in “Book Of Shadows II”, but what we want is another groove metal Black Label Society album.

Dynazty
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted once that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all. Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, the band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

And they sum up what it means to be involved in the music business. You exist today completely off the radar screen. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Black Stone Cherry
It’s the era of the bands with Black in their band name. Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Black Label Society and Black Stone Cherry just to name a few. Vocalist Chris Robertson on the earlier recordings sounded better than Chris Cornell ever did. In 2013, the band was recording “Magic Mountain” and it came out in 2014. While 2016 gave us the “Kentucky” album (the band’s 5th album) and the ten year anniversary of their debut album.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Withholding From Spotify

It’s a dumb decision when bands/artists withhold their new album/music from Spotify. Case in point is Bon Jovi and their new album, “This House Is Not For Sale”.

Four days have passed since the album was released and it’s still not on Spotify, however it is all over the pirate sites, on YouTube and I am sure CD manufacturing plants in China are doing up forgeries, ready to sell the damn thing on Amazon or some other site.

Are first week sales so important that it’s become the reason why artists do albums in the first place?

It sure is the main reason why labels exist. Spotify pays the artist per listen while the pirate sites pay nothing. So where does the artist need to be?

Does it ever occur to artists and their label that fans have chosen a paid streaming subscription over purchasing a CD or an LP or an mp3?

The profit and loss statements of the labels show streaming as a big source of revenue, yet, streamers are still victimised as artists and their labels play lip service to the sales charts. The action is in streaming, where we can see if anybody is listening. And if your album is not on there, how can people listen.

Click on the Global top 50 and there is no Bon Jovi there. But they have four songs from the new album out on Spotify as part of their pre-release promotions.

How is it going so wrong?

“What About Now” was a flop and “Burning Bridges” was exactly that. But Jovi’s career was made on the back of a hit, not on an album. It’s all about listens and our on demand culture has a new hero called “Data”. Data tells the people if something will be successful. The data doesn’t lie and it can’t be manipulated. Labels can influence radio with their marketing budgets and the PR companies can write the stories for the media to report, but all of those games mean nothing when it comes to what people are listening to or not.

“This House Is Not For Sale” song is not bad. There is quality there, but not enough. “Born Again Tomorrow” and “Knockout” are also not bad while “Labour Of Love” is poor.

However, Bon Jovi can still sell tickets.

Will there be instant sell outs like in the past?

It’s a question of how many hard-core fans want to pay the big dollars to see the band up close and how many fans on the periphery get caught up in the excitement of the rock and roll show coming to town or in the ticket discounts period.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

It’s Always Been About The Songs

“The biggest thing that surprised me about fame was that it was fleeting. You work so hard to get there and you just assume that it’s some sort of finish line, or you take a victory lap and maybe spike the ball, run around the field screaming ‘Goal,” I don’t know.”
Dee Snider 

It is pretty well-known how long and hard Twisted Sister worked at getting their sound and image out to the masses. It is also pretty well-known how short their fame was in the Eighties and how quickly they faded from the conversation.

You see, the biggest untold story in music is that when an artist hits a high with one album/song, it doesn’t mean that the next album/song will also hit that same high.

“Stay Hungry” sold over 2 million copies when “Come Out And Play” was released in 1985. At that point in time, “Under The Blade” was still selling, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was still selling and so was “Stay Hungry”. Because when an album crosses over into the mainstream, the back catalogue of the artists suddenly become popular.

Then a new album drops and suddenly the sales are not as high as the previous album. It doesn’t mean the band is not famous or popular anymore, it just meant that a re-adjustment was going on with the fans.

A lot of fans were still digesting the back catalogue and a lot of fans moved on to the next flavour of the year.

So instead of Twisted Sister’s management team booking a normal theatre and shed tour, they booked an arena tour for “Come Out And Play”. And when the arena shows failed to sell out, the tour got canned which cost the band money. The merchandise agreement for the tour became null and void which cost the band money.

“The reality is that rock and roll, in the mainstream, it’s in a difficult place right now. People don’t buy music, and they certainly don’t buy rock bands’ music in the way that they used to. And so, for our genre, it’s kind of… We’re limping along when it comes to public appeal. I believe that rock and roll is alive and well. I just think that people need to show their support and let the genre keep thriving.”
Andy Biersack – Black Veil Brides

People never wanted to buy music. I know I never did. I wanted to listen to music. However, corporations got involved with music, and a big business was born from it. Guess how many records Kiss sold from their first album, before they started to record their second album.

If you answered 70,000 units, then you are correct. If you don’t believe me, read Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music”. Metallica’s “Kill Em All” didn’t set any sales records when it came out either. Nine months after the album’s release, Metallica went back into the studio to record “Ride The Lightning”.

But today, bands want instant success. They want their first album to sell like Metallica’s “Black” album or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

“Metal was really strong in the 80s and kind of had hard times in the 90s. I think we treaded water and kept alive and kept focused on being Testament, and writing songs that we wrote without thinking or trying to change and play with what’s current at the time. It really hurt a lot of bands trying to do that. Fortunately, we didn’t do that. We went opposite. We went a little darker and heavier at that time. Then the metal got healthy again, and coming out the other end, we were in the right spot with the direction we were going, and the history we had, it just carried through. Metal has been real strong since the early 2000s. It’s been gradually picking up. I see the generation changing with a lot more younger fans coming to shows now over the last ten years.”
CHUCK BILLY – Testament

The crux of longevity is the replenishing of your fan base, year after year. And you do that by being in the game. Each album release will do some of the following;

  • Pick up new fans and keep all of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose some of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose all of the old fans
  • Keep all of the old fans
  • Lose some of the old fans

It’s just the way it is. You see for me, I lost interest in Testament after Alex Skolnick left. My cousin Mega, still purchased their albums, I heard them and forgot them. It was just part of getting older. Musical tastes changed for a while. That is why in 2015, my music collection has everything from folk, blues, classic rock, metal, hard rock, glam rock, thrash metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive rock, etc…

So in 2015, the album is just not as important as it was once was. With streaming it is all about the songs. For all the artists that complain about sales, the truth is if you’re popular, people want to listen to your music and they want more of it, if it is good. My kids don’t even care if the songs all came from the same album.

Today, the artists get paid every time we listen.

Elektra sold Metallica’s self-titled album and the band only got paid once for the sale. Today, Metallica is cleaning up, as fans are streaming their tracks over and over again. They are getting paid continuously. And right now payments are low, but they will grow as more people subscribe. And if we are listening to our favourites music, they will get paid forever.

So it all comes down to listens and good songs have a long listening life, a long time to make money.

And it’s always been about good songs.

Metallica did not break big until “Enter Sandman” crossed over. Twisted Sister did not break big until “We’re Not Gonna Take It” crossed over.

We all want more if the artists are great and the hard truth is that very few are.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

P.S.T (Piracy, Streaming and Touring)

All the talk in the media from the old gatekeepers is that piracy is bad for the artists or that Spotify’s free music-tier is bad for artists.

So can someone tell me how Motley Crue is playing in Abu Dhabi?

If we lived in the world of the old gatekeepers, the record labels would be in control and Motley Crue would have sold hundreds of thousands of albums (on a consistent basis) in the UAE before it was even considered to tour there.

However, in the internet age, it is a much different world.

Motley Crue suddenly has an audience in the UAE.

Is this audience courtesy of piracy or legit sales or legit streams?

There is a strong indication that Motley Crue’s UAE audience is due to piracy.

Do you know the Middle East is a huge region when it comes to illegal P2P downloading?

The following statement found in the book “Introduction to Private Security” by John Dempsey sums it up perfectly;

In Europe, Middle East, and Australia, P2P traffic consumes anywhere between 49 percent and 89 percent of all Internet traffic in the day. At night, it can spike up to an astonishing 95 percent.

You can do some further reading on countries where P2P piracy is very high at the following link.

Even though it is from 2011, the data tells us a few things.

Eastern/Central Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East have high rates of P2P piracy as regions.

When you break it up to countries, China, Colombia, India, Russia, Malaysia, Turkey, Taiwan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Italy lead the way.

So let’s look at some of the recent tours bands have undertaken.

Metallica in 2011 did the “2011 Vacation Tour” that focused on Europe, South America, Asia and for the first time ever, they took in India.

In 2012, Metallica undertook the “European Black Album Tour” that focused solely on Europe.

In 2013, Metallica undertook the “Summer Tour 2013” which took in again Asia, Europe, South America along with North America.

In 2014, Metallica did the “Metallica by Request” tour which again took in Europe and South America.

Is it coincidence or shrewd planning that Metallica has taken in those markets. Hell, India is known as a nation of P2P downloaders, however it hasn’t stopped Metallica or Iron Maiden touring there.

Iron Maiden’s “The Final Frontier” tour (2010/11)  took in Eastern Europe, along with Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico.

The “Maiden England World Tour” (2013), took in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Eastern Europe again.

The “Somewhere Back In Time” tour  (2008/09) took in (apart from the North American and European markets) India, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Puerto Rico. Then on the second leg it took in Dubai (UAE), New Zealand, India (again), Mexico (again), Costa Rica (again), Venezuela, Colombia (again), Ecuador, Brazil (again), Chile (again), Peru, Argentina (again).

The Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour from 2013 took in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Japan, Australia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, China (again), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Israel.

This was on top of the normal European and North American markets.

The “Bon Jovi Live” tour set to kick off in September 2015, takes in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Israel.

Five Finger Death Punch haven’t been around as long as Metallica, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi, however it still hasn’t stopped them from hitting Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand on their recent “Wrong Side Of Heaven” tour.

Avenged Sevenfold’s “Far and Middle East Tour” from 2012, took in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and UAE.

Their “Hail To The King” from 2014 took in Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina on top of the normal European and North American markets.

Their “Asian Tour 2015” will cover China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Again the question must be asked, is it coincidence or shrewd planning. Streaming services can tell the bands which countries or even cities are streaming their songs and at what rates. Other firms out there like Music Metrics can tell bands, which countries or even cities are illegally downloading their music.

All of this data, once in the hands of a person that knows what to do with it, is a marketers dream.

Articles always point out that “pirates” are the biggest spenders and after seeing large bands hit markets with high piracy rates and still sell out shows, I would agree with that assertion.

Piracy, Streaming and Touring go hand in hand.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Musical Cloning

I was reading a Motley Fool newsletter about investments and in that newsletter they talk about a process called “Capital Cloning”.

So the 3 Steps to “Capital Cloning” as mentioned in the newsletter are as follows;
1. EXTRACT a business model with a track record of profitability from an established company in a mature market.
2. IDENTIFY an immature, fertile market in which that business model can be successfully planted/recreated.
3. Watch your “Capital Clone” grow and HARVEST a second heaping of profits from a single business strategy along the way

So does the above “Cloning” template sound familiar when it comes to music. Let’s put into a musical context;

1. EXTRACT a group of songs with a track record of profitability.
2. RECREATE those group of songs.
3. WATCH your “Musical Clones” grow and HARVEST another round of profits from them.

The funny thing is that if you look at the largest bands today, that is the exact thing they have done.

Let’s start with Metallica.

“Fight Fire With Fire” -> “Battery” -> “Blackened”
See a trend there. Each song kicks off slowly and builds into a thrashathon. If I had to pick a standout, it would be “Battery”.

“Ride The Lightning” -> “Master Of Puppets” -> “And Justice For All”
The title track of each album always came in at number 2.

“For Whom The Bells Toll” -> “The Thing That Should Not Be” -> “Eye Of The Beholder”
The more mainstream groove song came in at number 3, so it would be no surprise when songs like these were heard on the “Black” album.

“Fade To Black” -> “Welcome Home” -> “One”
The power ballads that always ended with a WOW statement. On the “Black” album, “The Unforgiven” also came in at number 4, while “Until It Sleeps” and “The Unforgiven II” had that honor on “Load” and “Reload”.

“Trapped Under Ice” -> “The Shortest Straw”
Two little misunderstood songs in Metallica folklore.

“Escape” -> “Leper Messiah” -> “Harvester of Sorrow”
This is the groove of the “Black” album right here on these three songs.

“Creeping Death” -> “Disposable Heroes” -> “The Frayed Ends of Sanity”
A win-win and then a miss.

“The Call Of Ktulu” -> “Orion” ->”To Live Is to Die”
If one instrumental worked, why not re-create it and do another two more.

“Damage, Inc.” -> Dyers Eve”
The “Ride The Lightning” album didn’t really have a supersonic speed metal song. However “Master of Puppets” did in “Damage Inc” and it worked so well, the band re-created it on the follow-up album with “Dyers Eve”.

All of these musical clones set Metallica up for the self-titled black album that is still talked about today.

There are fans that wanted “Ride The Lightning” Part 4, while other fans wanted “Kill Em All” Part 2. But the biggest talking point was James vocals. It looks like a lot of the fans really enjoyed his unique snappy bark style as heard on the first four albums and were really upset because he actually sang on the “Black” album.

Of course when the “Black” album came out, what do you think Metallica tried to do next. Re-create the “Black” album with “Load” and “Reload”. Then they threw a curveball at us with “St Anger” and surprise, surprise, they went and cloned their back catalogue for “Death Magnetic”.

Let’s look at a few Bon Jovi clones.

“Let It Rock” -> “Lay Your Hands On Me” -> I Believe
They all have intro build ups. One is by keyboards, one is by drums and the other is by guitar.

“Livin On A Prayer” -> “Born To Be My Baby” –> “Keep The Faith” -> “It’s My Life” -> “Bounce” -> “Have A Nice Day” –> “We Weren’t Born To Follow”
Now here is some serious cloning going on. We need the President/Prime Minister to pass some new laws that bans it.

“Wanted Dead Or Alive” –> “Stick To Your Guns” -> “Blaze Of Glory”
Two number one hits there and one miss.

But then I look at Motley Crue and I cannot hear any musical cloning happening there. Blame it on the drugs, whatever. Each album is unique in its own way and according to who you talk too, full of filler as well.

Even when they had their big album in “Dr Feelgood”, they didn’t even try to replicate it. Hell, the Motley Crue album that came next with John Corabi on vocals is one hell of an album. Then they went all electronic industrial rock with “Generation Swine” and returned back to hard rock on “New Tattoo” and went all modern rock with “Saints Of Los Angele”

In the end, all progress in music is based on derivatives. In other words, musical cloning.

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