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

The Science Of Things

There is a saying that by the time an artist reaches album number 3 or 4, they are at the peak of their powers. It’s not because of some mystical power or magical power or magical powder; it’s basically a combination of having enough life experiences to create better art.

And if you look at the history of music, there is a consistent trend about the 3rd or 4th album being the album which makes it happen.  Some artists deliver again a few albums after and some artists deliver again as solo artists or via a new band they formed.

If you study history, you will know that beyond every fall of an empire, there is a rise and beyond every rise, there is a fall. And the cycle just keeps repeating. An artist’s career is no different.

But the third Bush album “The Science Of Things”, released in 1999, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The glory or the rise, went to “Sixteen Stone” and “Razorblade Suitcase”. But the third album is also worthy, however it falls into the side of “the fall”. It doesn’t have hits, it has songs. And albums were designed to be a statement of songs, not cherry picked songs, released as singles.

The whole recording industry blamed Steve Jobs for allowing people to cherry pick songs and just buy them. Well, the label bosses had been doing it for decades in order to make people believe they needed an album. Which is why for me, it was always special to buy an album, when I had no idea what was on the album. But I wouldn’t invest that time today.

“Warm Machine” and “The Chemicals Between Us” satisfies the fans of the debut album. “Spacetravel” is a bit more progressive, an artist writing to fulfil their creative urge, rather than writing for a song to be a hit. Even “40 Miles From The Sun”, it’s the a song The Doors didn’t write.

“Prizefighter” is a favourite, with the jangling guitar strumming over a fuzzed out guitar, and nicely decorated with another shimmering guitar playing natural harmonics. “Disease Of The Dancing Cats” is a terrible title, but that’s what also makes it unique, plus its “Zero” like riff from Smashing Pumpkins. “Letting The Cable Sleeps” also has this melancholy like vibe, it starts off with two major chords and ends with a minor chord, giving the song a yin and yang of happy and sad.

Gavin Rossdale sings in his normal baritone voice. There is no need to copy or mimic another singer whereas on the first two albums, people compared his voice on some songs to Kurt Cobain. And you definitely won’t hear Rob Halford wails on a Bush record, then again Halford went more industrial and guttural during this period with “Fight”.

And an album doesn’t need to be number one on the charts to be a good album, nor does it need to have diamond like sales. But it always happens, when everything is judged against the commercial appeal of an album.

For U2, everything is judged against “Achtung Baby”, for Pearl Jam its “Ten”, for Metallica it’s the self-titled Black album, for AC/DC its “Back In Black”, for Bon Jovi its “Slippery When Wet”, for Europe its “The Final Countdown” however, I believe Europe has surpassed “The Final Countdown” on many occasions musically, but not commercially. For Van Halen, its 1984, but their Sammy Hagar albums sold less, but gave them an even larger audience because of the mainstream sound of the songs.

For Aerosmith, well they had a few mega sellers, like “Pump” and “Get A Grip” in the 80’s as sales of recorded music in the 70’s is really hard to see as accurate, as it’s based on shipping rates and other creative payola ideas.

But there are bands who more or less remain consistent in relation to their output and sales but still play to packed houses, like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Ozzy solo era, Deep Purple, Motley Crue, Rush and Judas Priest. Well Judas Priest did have a big album with “Screaming For Vengeance” and everything else that came before and after supported their legacy.

The problem is when an artist has commercial acceptance of their music, they chase it a little bit more and want it again and again. But it rarely works that way, and some artists, bite the bullet and sell their creative juices to outside writers.

Bush, up until this point, kept everything in house and you can hear that they didn’t really chase the Billboard Hot 100 chart parade with this album. Maybe to their detriment financially, but respect is earned when you play the game your own way.

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

The Record Vault – Bush

I was a bit late to the Bush party. It took the single “Comedown” to get me to pay attention and then “Glycerine” came out and I was “yep I like it and I will purchase the album on my next outing”, but that didn’t transpire as I kept pushing the album out of my purchase list in lieu of hard rock and metal bands. Then “Machinehead” came out as a single and I committed financially.

Sixteen Stone

The album came out towards the end of 1994, but it was in 1995 that it started to get people’s attention and for me, it was around May/June 1996 that I committed financially.

The picture you see is not the original. I gave the CD to a friend circa 2001, who then claimed that he lost it, and then gave me back a copy, with the cover printed on an inkjet printer and the CD burned onto a blank disc. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until many years later, other friends told me, he did the same to them, so the prick was scamming us.

As soon as the “Rockin In A Free World” vibe of “Everything Zen” kicked in, I was very interested. And then a bit lost with “Swim” and “Bomb” and “Little Things” brought it back into focus with its “Smell Like Teens Spirit” vibe merged with a Tom Petty “Free Fallin” vibe.

But the piece d resistance is “Comedown” with its bass riff which reminds me of the “You Give Love A Bad Name” verse riff. And Grunge purists are probably gagging at the thought of this, but yes, the riffs are very similar.

And there is no escaping the power of “Machinehead”. The intro riff octaves, along with the power chords crashing all over the place is perfect.

“Breathe in, breathe out” and the way its sung, with a loudspeaker/telephone vibe, captures the frenetic pace of life, and how we don’t have enough time to take a breath.

And I realised that the accessible singles of the album, got me interested, sort of like how the accessible singles of hard rock bands got people interested who would otherwise enjoy other musical styles.

And with this debut, Gavin Rossdale showed he is a force to be reckoned with as a songwriter.

Razorblade Suitcase

The cassette was in a 3 for $10 bin, so it was a no brainer. I didn’t get it when it came out in 1996, but circa 1998.

“Swallowed” is the lead single, and it followed a “Live (band) vibe”. “Greedy Fly” is basically an artist writing a song, without a thought of it being a hit. And somehow it gets released as a single and it’s seen as a hit.

“Cold Contagious” has a cool drum groove, with the guitars decorating the song in a nice way, as Rossdale is singing, “you will get yours” with the volume and intensity increasing. And at six minutes long, it’s the anti-single, but it still got released as a single.

And like “Sixteen Stone”, it was the accessible singles of the album that got me interested again. Then the band lost me with an electronic remix album and I’ve never really checked out anything afterwards, however friends have told me that “The Science Of Things” is worthy.

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Music

In This Moment and Atlantic

“In This Moment” will regret signing with Atlantic Records. Atlantic Records under the reign of the departed Ahmet Ertegun were well known for not paying their artists. Throughout the Eighties, Atlantic capitalised big time on the success of the metal and rock bands, and once those bands dad a drop in sales, Atlantic started dropping the bands left, right and centre and moved on to the next thing that could make them money.

Let’s look at some of the bands that Atlantic have signed;

The story of the band “Bush” is very similar to “In This Moment”. After three successful releases on a smaller label, “Bush” signed with Atlantic for their fourth release and in return they had their least successful album. So with no mainstream success and a lack of label support, “Bush” called it quits. Which is a shame as the band was coming of three great albums.

“Winger” was signed by Atlantic and they had success with Atlantic Records, there is no doubt about that. However, Atlantic signed a band that had musicians already developed and experienced. There was no artist and development costs associated with “Winger”. With that experience Atlantic reaped in millions from the first two “Winger” albums. After “Winger” delivered their best album “Down Icognito”, “Beavis and Butthead” also happened, and after hanging a Winger loving family in one of their episodes, Atlantic Records suddenly developed amnesia and claimed that they had never heard of “Winger”.

“Collective Soul” already had a demo version of their massive hit “Shine” doing the rounds on radio for about six months before Atlantic picked them up and re-released the same demo album under the Atlantic brand. What an artist and development program at Atlantic. While the band kept selling, Atlantic loved them. Then when the sales started to decline (although still great numbers compared to other bands), the label started to lose interest and after 7 years of making Atlantic wealthy, once their contract ended, it wasn’t renewed.

“White Lion” also experienced a similar fate to “Winger”. When the band was signed, they already had seven years under their belts, plus an independent release. What an artist and development program at Atlantic. So when “Pride” broke out, Atlantic pushed them to write more hit singles. This added pressure to create “hit songs” caused a conflicted Vito Bratta even more conflict and when the record label advice failed to provide an increase in sales for “Big Game”, the label just stopped caring. As a last resort, they gave them a lot of money for the “Mane Attraction” album and while “White Lion” was out of the music scene recording that album, their label had already moved on. So it was no surprise when the album was released with no marketing budget and within 5 months of the album being released the band was over. No one from the label called them and it just ended.

“Twisted Sister” had a huge local following, however US labels just kept on rejecting them. Eventually, they went looking for a deal in Europe and after a false start with Secret Records, they ended up getting signed to Atlantic Europe. Then they started to get traction in the US with “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll”. As an import album, it was selling like hot cakes in the US. So of course, Atlantic US came knocking, signed them (even though they ignored and rejected them for ten years prior to that), made a huge amount of money of the “Stay Hungry” album and then dropped them three years later. Again, what an artist and development program at Atlantic.

“Zebra” had a huge local following before they got signed with Atlantic Records. Then the “Zebra” debut album became one of the fastest selling releases on the Atlantic roster. Again, what an artist and development program at Atlantic. Not one of the bands that I have mentioned above got signed and developed. They where all developed. Three years later, Atlantic dropped the band, however they kept an option open on Randy Jackson. Randy Jackson finished the “China Rain” record in 1990 and Atlantic Records decided not to release it. Sound familiar. Gatekeepers controlling the fate of musicians. Dee Snider suffered the same fate with his “Desperado” project after experiencing the same shafting when he was in “Twisted Sister”.

“Badlands” was signed by Atlantic. The self-titled debut came out and it achieved cult like status among the jaded metal community. “Voodoo Highway” came next however Atlantic was not impressed with what “Badlands” delivered. It was during the making of “Voodoo Highway” that Lee and Gillen started to disagree over the direction the band was taking. The label wanted hit songs. The label wanted songs written to a strict radio formula. Ray Gillen apparently had songs that suited what the label was looking for. Those frustrations came to a head when Jake E. Lee accused Ray Gillen of going behind his back to the record company in a revealing Kerrang interview. In the end, Atlantic broke the band up and then dropped them when they went chasing the grunge dollars.

Atlantic has a history of extorting hard rock and metal bands. Testament, Skid Row, P.O.D, Mr Big, Taproot, Savatage, The Cult, Kix, Kings X and Queensryche are other bands that come to mind.

“In This Moment” will be next. Their music is a niche style and that style has a niche audience. For them to cross over, they really need to diverge from their style. Their most recent album “Blood” has moved over 250,000 units. For a metal band, that is a great result. For Century Media that is a great result. For Atlantic, that is not a great result, especially when you are on a label that has Bruno Mars, who has sold over 58 million singles. Especially when you are on a label that has Shinedown who are a multi-platinum selling band.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Music My Companion

I watched Australia beat Iraq last night, with my family. I watched 80,000 people celebrate as the 2014 theme song, Bellini – Samba De Janeiro started to play on the loudspeakers. It got me thinking about the role music plays in defining moments. If there is a celebration to be had, music is at the forefront.

After the 2014 World Cup theme song finished, the famous A chord groove from Malcolm Young started, introducing Long Way To The Top from AC/DC. The crowd responds. We know the words. Long Way To The Top is slowly becoming another unofficial Australian anthem. It is the video clip that pushed Long Way To The Top into the stratosphere. It’s the band, on a back of a truck, riding down the CBD of Melbourne. It’s raw, it’s honest. More importantly, it captures the band at what they do best. Perform.

So I am driving home, and the family is asleep. I notice that my wife had put the radio on. It’s 104.9. Triple M. Once upon a time, Triple M was on the bleeding edge. It played music that the DJ’s wanted. It broke new bands. Then like all the radio stations, it started to please advertisers and board members. The playlists became the same regurgitated garbage over and over again. However at 10.30pm it was different. Kick Start My Heart is playing. I haven’t heard Motley Crue on the radio since the late eighties.

Then Bush came on. It was the song Comedown. That bass riff in Comedown, is the same as the verse guitar riff in You Give Love A Bad Name. It’s basic, it’s within the Pentatonic scale and it has authority. It screams PAY ATTENTION.

I had forgotten what a great song Comedown is. I really liked Bush when they came out. I still can’t work that one out. I didn’t like Nirvana a lot, but I liked Bush and after hearing Nirvana and then hearing Bush, you can pick up a lot of vocal similarities. Puddle of Mudd is another band that had a large Nirvana influence.

Pearl Jam was up next with Better Man, however after Bush, I already made up my mind to switch to the iPod. The football game finished with music and then I had music on the 90 minute drive home to keep me company.

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