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

April 2020 – Part 1

April 2020 has finished and a lot of new music has hit my earbuds and I am still listening to tunes released between January and March 2020. While the last post started off with the songs from previous months, this post will start the new ones;

Here is the Spotify link.

Sever
From The Ashes
Red

From the album “Declaration”.

“Sever” and “From The Ashes” have been added to the excellent “The War We Made”.

There is something about the voice tones and the vocal melodies of Michael Barnes which always hook me in. But if I look at the writers or co-writers, Barnes isn’t even listed as a songwriter. The majority of the songs are written by guitarist Anthony Armstrong along with producer Rob Graves.

In case you are not aware, Red is made up of Barnes on vocals, the Armstrong brothers, Anthony on guitars and Randy on bass and piano with Dan Johnson on drums. I have been a fan of this band since 2008. Their first three albums are my favourites and the albums that came afterwards had some cool songs, but they also lost me a little bit with their direction, but “Declaration” is a step back into my headspace and a direction I like.

Time won’t stop another setting sun
Facing this pain like a loaded gun

There’s no escape from problems. The more they are ignored, the bigger they become.

Sever these fraying ties

Break away instead of mending. It’s easier said than done, because while one part of the mind knows it’s right, the other part holds on to the memories, the good ones and the heart wants everything to stay as it is.

Agonize alone in the cold again
I loved more than I could hold

You think you could have it all, a relationship, a family, a career and a life as a touring musician or a high paying job.

But it’s hard.

Having so many commitments, something or someone will suffer.

I Would Love To Rock The World
Moon Of Forever
Free Spirits Rising

“A call to the promoters, trying to get a show, messages left are unanswered, trying to give rock a go” is how “I Would Love To Rock The World” starts off.

You can tell they are having fun with this song as it tells the story of trying to get a gig because even though they have failed or been burned many times, they would do it again if given the chance.

“Castles are burning as mother earth cries, her message of love is etched forever in blue” is how “Moon Of Forever” starts off, which has more of a 70s feel. In the 5 minutes, it has three verses and a lot of music with different moods.

From what I can gather, Free Spirits Rising is an Australian artist (just one dude who plays all the instruments). At this point in time he has released 10 stand-alone songs on streaming services since April last year. Sort of like a song a month policy.

The Black
Hologram
Dynazty

The Swedes are back with a new album called “The Dark Delight”.

“The Black” and “Hologram” stand out for me.

That harmony lead lick to kick off “The Black” is excellent and the vocal lines in the chorus which are inspired by classical and old folk pirate songs.

Meanwhile “Hologram” is a pop metal gem, if there is such a term. The lead break in “Hologram” is one of my favourites for this year so far. You need to hear it, to know what I mean.

Ride The Blade
Rock’N’Roll Survivors
Bonfire

For two albums (“Fireworks” released in 1987 and “Point Blank” released in 1989), Bonfire was one of my favourite acts.

The riffage and the songs were exactly to my liking. Then all hell broke loose with record labels dropping hard rock bands and suddenly Bonfire’s 1991 record, “Knock Out” was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t even get it imported into Australia and I couldn’t even get any news from em, because the usual metal mags I was buying didn’t mention em.

But Napster and its users gave me their 90’s output, and streaming now has some of their albums, but not the ones I like. “Fistful Of Fire” is their 17th studio album and man it’s been a long ride for founding guitarist Hans Ziller, the only original member since 1972.

So it’s probably a big reason why “Rock ‘N’ Roll Survivors” resonated plus the riffs and lead breaks played a pretty big part.

And the intro to “Ride The Blade”. Crank it loud and start to play air guitar.

She Dragoon
Conception

“By The Blues” has been doing the rounds for a few months on my playlists and now, “She Dragoon” is added to the list. This is one of the best Queensryche songs that Queensryche didn’t write.

In case you are not aware, Conception is from Norway and they came into my life via the excellent “In Your Multitude” released in 1995. which reminded me of Dream Theater’s “Images and Words” and “Awake” era albums, but with the songs more accessible. They also released another good album in “Flow” in 1997 and then they disbanded between 1998 and 2018.

Awaken Me
Spoken

I like this band.

They are marketed as an American Christian Rock band.

But to me, they are pretty awesome hard rock band who has been doing the rounds since 1997. The last new music from the band was back in 2017 and in February, they released a nu-metal song, called “The Way Back Home” with a massive melodic chorus.

“Awaken Me” is not as aggressive in the riffage as “The Way Back Home”. It’s more melodic and the chorus remains with me.

Awaken me to you
Cover me with the fire of your love
Take me with you
Forever, forever
With you

The “YOU” can be a lover, a parent, a child or a God. Just insert which one you want. And its catchy. Hence the reason why the song is in the list.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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

The Record Vault – Bonfire

From Germany.

My older brothers had a friend called Greeny. He had funds and he liked metal and rock music. It was from his car stereo I heard bands like Cinderella, Great White, Leatherwolf and Bonfire for the first time. 

I really got into this band. I thought they would be the next big thing. But they didn’t get there. Not for a lack of trying.

And it pisses me off that these two albums are not on Spotify Australia.

Fireworks

Released in 1987.

There isn’t a bad track on this album. Maybe when it came to the charts and the hearts and minds of consumers, its many years too late in sound and style, as the public by 1987 was hooked on Jovi, Van Halen, U2, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, GNR and soon, Metallica.

And then you get the Bonfire sound, which is rooted in melodic heavy metal circa 1982 to 1985.

The album tracks are written by vocalist Claus Lessmann, guitarists Hans Ziller and Horst Maier and bassist Jörg Deisinger.

“Ready 4 Reaction” is the opening track and it blasts out of the speakers. “Never Mind” continues the melodic rock. “Sleeping All Alone” is an attempt to hit the charts as Jack Ponti and Joe Lynn Turner have a co-write. It didn’t chart, however it’s a good song.

“Sweet Obsession” also has Joe Lynn Turner and Jack Ponti as co-writers. I got the single and then I couldn’t find the album for years. So I dubbed it.The current version of the band doing the rounds these days always reference this album in the live arena and they totally ignore the follow up.

Point Blank

Released in 1989.

A big shift in personnel happened on this album with founder Hans Ziller being fired even though the album features his music. And before Ziller was fired, guitarist Horst Maier-Thorn was also let go.

Desmond Child was brought in. Bob Halligan Jnr was brought in and Jack Ponti was brought back. Desmond Child even recovered the song “The Price Of Loving You” for his own solo album, that’s how high he held it.

Even Michael Wagener was hired to produce. It was an all assault to get the music buying public into the band.

And the album did nothing.

There was no promo in Australia for it and a little paragraph in the Metal Edge magazine many months after it was released tipped me off.

Like the debut, the album sound was out of date by a few years. By 1989, the tastes and sounds morphed even more. This album would have done great if it was released in 1987.

Acoustic/Unplugged was becoming a thing and the Blues had come back into the sounds of rock and metal with bands going back to their roots.

Of course, Motley Crue released a thunderous sounding album dripping with groove and GNR was still riding the wave of their punk boogie oriented debut album, furnished with an EP of acoustic songs.

And somewhere in between Bonfire sat, without one of its founding members.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Bonfire – Fireworks

When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.

I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.

What I did know was the music. And the music was great. It brought Bonfire from the minors into the majors for me. And as much as the press labeled them overnight sensations, overnight sensations they were not.

Claus Lessman and Hans Ziller started to work together in a band called Cacumen in 1978. “Fireworks” came out in 1987. Yep, this overnight sensation was nine years in the making. And to top it off, “Fireworks” was Bonfire’s second album, and if you add the releases from Cacumen, this overnight sensation was a five album veteran.

And here is one for those copyright maximalist. In the late nineties, Lessman and Ziller had a six-year legal battle to get back the album copyrights of their pre-Bonfire band Cacumen. The court case finished up in 2004, with a win to them.

Yep, the companies that originally released the Cacumen albums ceased to exist. They did nothing with the music while they existed. However the people who still worked at those companies held the copyrights for those releases instead of the songwriters in the band. And when the band wanted them back, they fought tooth and nail to keep them.

I can hear people asking what is the sense for holding the copyright of albums and not releasing them?

The answer is plain and simple. GREED. The record label owners were waiting for someone to come and give them enormous loads of money for the Cacumen albums they still controlled. Thank god the courts saw in Bonfire’s favour.

The band for the release consisted of Claus Lessmann on vocals, Hans Ziller and Horst Maier-Thorn on guitar and Jörg Deisinger on bass.

Who you say?

That was exactly the same thing that I said when I found out the band member names.

“Ready 4 Reaction” and “Never Mind” are a great one/two punch to kick off the album. This is what the Eighties album delivered once upon a time. That knockout one/two punch. The great albums delivered even more knockout punches on subsequent tracks and to be honest Bonfire delivered a great album.

Both songs are composed by the band members and you get that Euro Metal Scorpions/MSG vibe immediately.

The lead break and the harmonies in “Ready 4 Reaction” provided an instant connection to me. How good is Hans Ziller. The Eighties was the era of the guitar hero. While other guitarists took the limelight and the instructional tape offers, Hans Ziller let the music do the talking.

Michael Wagener’s production is also crisp and clear.

If you are a fan of music that like genre’s “Ready 4 Reaction” well here is a new one for you, melodic speed metal.

Then the tempo goes into rock territory for “Never Mind” with the pinch harmonics riff that gives Zakk Wylde a challenge for who can do better pinch harmonics. And that lead break is another powerful piece of composition.

“Sleeping All Alone” and “Sweet Obsession” are both written by a songwriting committee like the current songs that make up the top 40 pop charts. Jack Ponti and Joe Lynn Turner this time are included as songwriters along with the four band members.

“Champion”

Some people hate him
but a winner never quits
when he’s rollin’ he’s a one man blitz – look out

Aint that the truth. Everyone hates a winner, thinking that it should have been them instead. People always think that they had the better song, the better look, the better story and so on. But the reason why people win, is that they never stop.

In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off. If you have read any interview with Hans Ziller and Clauss Lessman, they say the same. A small consolation is that Bonfire was not the only band who were ripped off. But it took its toll and Hans Ziller left the band in 1989.

And one more mention as it is not on an official Bonfire album.

Sword and Stone

It’s written by Desmond Child, Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick. By the late eighties, Desmond Child was rock royalty. Riding high on the charts with hit songs from Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Kiss.

“Sword and Stone” sounds like a lot of other songs that came before it and a lot of songs that came after sound like it, but, man, I tell ya, there is something about this song that just makes me play it on a regular basis.

You can hear the “Crazy Crazy Nights” and “Hot In The Shade” pop metal stylings in this song. It was originally a demo for the KISS album “Crazy Nights”. Paul Dean from Loverboy also used the song for his “Hardcore” album. But the Bonfire version is the one that I like.

It appeared on the “Shocker” soundtrack which to be honest is a pretty wicked soundtrack and having “Timeless Love” from Saraya coming after “Sword and Stone” it was another one/two punch.

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