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

Coverdale/Page, Cinderella and Winger

The Spotify AI is recommending artists based on Whitesnake.

Yesterday, the first recommendation was “Mechanical Resonance” from Tesla, then “Live At Sweden Rock – 30th Anniversary Show” from Europe, then “Meanstreak” from Y&T, then “Slave To The Grind” from Skid Row and then Coverdale/Page.

After Coverdale/Page it was “Euphoria” from Def Leppard, “Bent Out Of Shape” from Rainbow, “Standing Hampton” from Sammy Hagar, “Eat Em And Smile” from David Lee Roth and finally “Erase The Slate” from Dokken.

What, no Deep Purple?

Surely the AI is programmed to look at previous bands of artists?

I guess not.

Today, the AI recommended “Erase The Slate” from Dokken again, “Winger” self-titled debut as second, “Night Songs” by Cinderella as third. Then “Hysteria” by Def Leppard, “Absolute Hits” by Great White, “Slave To The Grind” by Skid Row, “Coverdale/Page” again (even after I streamed it a few times the day before), “Outlier” by Kingdom Come, “Simplicity” by Tesla and “Prisoners In Paradise” from Europe (which is not even available to stream in Australia).

And what the AI seems to be doing is just replacing the albums of artists. Like “Euphoria” and “Hysteria”.

Anyway, over to Coverdale/Page.

The album came out in 1993 and for me it was a stellar album. I loved the guitar work on it, like the opening string pull off lick for “Shake My Tree”. Simply, yet effective and Coverdale follows the riff with the vocal lead. Then when it gets heavy, it’s a cross between “Still Of The Night” and “Communication Breakdown”.

The lead break on “Waiting On You” is simple and effective and the riffs groove behind it. Plus I dig the lyric line, “till the rivers run dry”, a metaphor for change.

And although the song has nothing to do with climate change, it got me thinking how bizarre the situation is, our oceans are rising, getting ready to swallow coastal lands while the water on our lands via rivers and rainfall is drying.

Take Me For A Little While” is one of Coverdale’s best songs. Jimmy Page breaks out one of his best lead breaks and that little lead lick in the Chorus, makes me press repeat on this song.

Pride and Joy” could have come from Led Zep III, as Jimmy Page brings his open string tunings to David Coverdale. And while it rocks acoustically, it’s the heavy open string verse riff which connects, and when it goes back into the open tuning acoustic bit, it’s just perfect.

Four tracks in and I’m on the floor. When “Over Now” kicks in, I am digging the psychedelic nature of the vocals and the exoticism of the music. And artists tried to recreate their 70’s influences in the late 80s and 90s like Jake E Lee in Badlands, however, it still sounded like stuff they would have done within a modern rock context.

Because the 70’s artists, used their 60’s influences to create their 70’s sounds, hence why the songs from these artists like Page don’t follow the typical verse, chorus, verse, chorus. “Over Now” has  no real structure as it moves between verses and something which resembles a chorus and an outro which feels like a cool jam.

You talked to me of virtue
And sang a song so sweet
But all I know is I could smell
The perfume of deceit
And it’s over now

Coverdale is referencing his break up with the Jaguar dancer Tawny Kitaen. And there are quite a few songs on the album which reference the relationship.

Feeling Hot” is the sped up child of “Johnny Be Goode” crossed with “Hit The Road Jack”.

And the comparison to Led Zep is always going to happen, because Jimmy Page is Led Zep’s main musical writer and it doesn’t matter with who he works with, his riffs will always sound like Page and Page’s career is held within his work with Led Zep.

Like “Easy Does It”. It is one of the best Led Zeppelin tracks that Led Zeppelin didn’t write. And when it morphs into a rocking track from about 2.40 mark, it’s so cool to hear Coverdale steer away from the typical verse and chorus format.

Of course, songs which follow that format will give you success if they cross over into the mainstream, but for me, it’s these kinds of songs that get me to commit. Like for Whitesnake, it was “Still Of The Night” which got me to commit, and it didn’t follow the conventional verse and chorus format.

Absolution Blues” has David Coverdale delivering a near perfect Led Zep vocal line in the verses.

Come the dawn of judgement day
I’ll get down on my knees and pray
The Good Lord don’t send me away
I’ll never ever go

No one wants to leave the land of the living. They realize then how much living they really need to do.

Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” is one of my favourite songs on the album. That dropped D intro riff is excellent. Even System Of A Down used a very similar style riff for their awesome song “Aerials” from the mega selling “Toxicity” album.

Also the idea of the song happened back in 1982-83 as their is an acoustic demo of the song on the “Slide It In” Deluxe reissue. And when you combine various wars for lyrical inspiration and Jimmy Page”s dropped D riff, you get a classic.

The suffocating heat of jungles, burning desert sands
Where everything reminds you, you’re a stranger in a strange land
The soothing words of politicians, those bodyguards of lies
While guardian angels waste their time and every mother cries

There is a whole generation of people who wouldn’t even know about the Vietnam War or the Gulf War. And when leaders from around the world decide to send in their troops to a place, well those troops already have a target on their back, as strangers in a strange land.

Machine gun, battle cry
You pray to God when the bullets fly
The bombs fall like black rain
And all your dreams take you home again
Nothing but bad dreams

At the end of the first Gulf War, the Iraqi forces set an oilfield alight, which burned black toxic smoke for months. And when it rained all those black toxins came back down as black rain.

And the ones who survived, are struck with PTSD.

You can’t read, you can’t write
You’re so scared, you can’t sleep at night
You try to carry the heavy load
Walking down Armageddon road, oh, Armageddon road

In reality what did all of the Wars achieve?

Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia and all the democratic countries rushed to the Saudi aids so their young Prince could grow up and order the dismemberment of a journalist who spoke out against him. And Iraq along with Afghanistan is still a hotspot of violence and extremism.

Would you have gone there for a holiday when these countries were controlled by dictators?

Would you fly there now, that these countries have been liberated by the good democratic countries?

I’m pretty sure the answer would be NO to both questions.

How good is Cinderella?

They are a lot more than just a hair band, a stupid genre they got lumped in. Maybe it’s their fault for allowing their image to look like a hair band but then again when you are trying to make it, you will listen and do what the A&R department tells you to do.

Anyway, “Night Songs” opens the album which carries its name and it’s a hooky slow dirge.

Workin’ this job ain’t payin’ the bills
Sick and tired rat race takin’ my thrills
Kickin’ down the road not a dime in my pocket
Nightime falls and I’m ready to rock it

It’s a game of collusion. Governments and corporations ensure that the wages paid are just enough to live a frugal lifestyle, however as the cost of living goes up, the wages don’t seem to follow the same trajectory. My land rates go up 4% each year for the last 3 years. My wage has gone up 1% each year.

Which then means we need to find a second job, or a higher paying job or we need to borrow money from the banks.

And before payday, I used to have just a dime in my pocket but regardless of what state I was in financially, I always had my music and was always ready to rock it.

Forget the day ’cause we’re gonna scream

And that is exactly what we did.

Night songs
Makes the day right

Even in the comfort of your own home, when you drop the needle and the sound surrounds you and bounces off the walls, it normally happens at night and when you are alone with your thoughts.

When “Shake Me” rolls into town, you know the party is just getting started.

And Tom Keifer’s raspy voice is the difference. He didn’t sound like any other singer out on the market. Maybe a bit like Brian Johnson. Hell, the band Hinder had a career in the music business many years later because their singer had the same raspy voice like Keifer.

Then, those clean tone Am arpeggios start and “Nobody’s Fool” fills the room. For a debut record, Keifer has knocked me out with a triple left hook.

And how good is the vocal melody and riff in “Nothin’ For Nothin’”?

You got nothin’
Nothin’ for nothin’
You’re hurtin’ overtime
Nothin’ for nothin’
And we don’t need your kind
Nothin’ for nothin’
Pushin’, shovin’, got no time
Nothin’ for nothin’

Kids these days have a lot more rights in life and in the workplace than what their parents and grand parents had. But the mindsets are different. They always get something.

Once Around The Ride” is a classic heavy metal track, with an air guitar pedal tone riff, a wicked lead break from Jeff LeBar and a vocal melody from Keifer which sticks around long after the song has finished.

Hell On Wheels” could have come from any NWOBHM act, but with better melodies and vocals from Kiefer.

We’ve had enough of the raw deals
Hit the road and tell ya how it feels

Like hell on wheels

Somebody Save Me” is my favourite. The “Knock Em Dead Kid” riff merged with “Looks That Kill” works a treat and Keifer delivers vocally.

Somebody save me
I lost my job, they kicked me out of my dream

The Australian dream is to own your home. And once upon a time people did just that and then passed it down to their next of kin. And Governments didn’t like that because they didn’t get any tax on it, so they passed laws that to change the name on the deed you still had to pay a stamp duty tax.

But these days people are buying, paying the minimum repayments and then selling it when they need to move because they lost their job and the next job is in a different state or in a city hours away. And if they don’t sell it in time, the bank will sell it for them and kick them out of their dream.

And the house prices are so high it’s hard to even enter the market.

Well, everybody’s got opinions
But nobody’s got the answers
And the shit you ate for breakfast
Well, it’ll only give you cancer

So true. A while back, I was in a meeting at work and I had my opinionated vent in it. Then I was asked how I would do the job that needs to be done and I had no fucking answer. So I made a note to myself that if I’m going to question others I need to also have answers and solutions.

And what about all the research coming out about processed meats giving you cancer, how too much red meat will give you cancer and all those cereals that the corporations said were healthy in the 80s (backed by Government research financed by the cereal makers) proved to be full of sugar and bad for you.

Somebody get the doctor
I think I’m gonna crash
Never paid the bill
Because I ain’t got the cash

You can’t pay a bill when you don’t have the funds. And you don’t have the funds because you either don’t have a job or you have a job but are over committed to a lot of debt. Either way, it’s a pivotal moment in your life when you are in this place. And you understand that life is not fair and the game is rigged.

“In From The Outside” has an excellent outro and it’s the reason why I go through the whole song, just to hear the outro and how they fit in this metal like section to a 12 bar blues. Brilliant.

And “Back Home Again” is a great way to bookend the album. An open string riff kicks it off and the vocal melody from Keifer is brilliant.

I hit the road wide open at seventeen
Mama cried herself to sleep
Lost a dad I’d never seen
Took all my childhood friends
Guitar, and a dream

It doesn’t happen like that anymore or does it. These days it’s let’s hit the internet and build an online social presence and you play live if their is demand. Once upon a time you played to get better and you took what gig you could get in order to build your fan base.

And for the sake of it, I streamed Winger (released in 1988), because of Reb Beach. He is a phenomenal guitarist and he always interviewed well, with a great grasp of techniques when it came to the guitar. And the Winger debut is full of Reb Beach.

Madalaine” kicks off the album and the first time I heard it, I was really surprised at how good the vocals sounded.

Hungry” is one of my favourites on the album and I always compared it to “Hungry” from White Lion’s which is a bit more superior because that riff from Bratta rocks hard and is brilliant to play.

But the way, “Hungry” starts off with the violin like orchestra, then it morphs into a syncopated groove for the pre –chorus and in the chorus, listen to how Reb Beach takes a stock chord progression and decorates it.

Now the piece d resistance in this song, is the prog rock bit after the solo, which goes into an acoustic bit of the 1st verse, then Reb Beach and the drums take over, playing just the chorus riff and then the whole band comes in as they move into the ending of the song. For such a commercial sounding track with a big arena rock chorus, it has a lot of movements which people either didn’t notice because the band made it sound so seamless.

Seventeen” is the best Van Halen track that EVH didn’t write. Just check out the opening riff. But that lead break from Reb Beach. Wow.

Time To Surrender” has a wicked guitar riff and a 12/8 groove feel in the dreams. The vocal melody from Kip is also on the money, but man, the lyrics, about it being time to surrender because his love don’t live there anymore just didn’t do the music any justice.

Hangin On”. Listen to it, to hear Reb Beach decorate again.

Headed For A Heartbreak” is a song that is not forgotten easy. I think it’s that keyboard lick in the Chorus (after they sing “Headed For A Heartbreak”) which remains. Maybe even the solo section. Or that outro guitar solo from Reb Beach or the offbeat drumming. Whatever it is, something always remains with me after hearing this song.

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

Across The Years In May

I knew that Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. So I went to Spotify to give it a listen and it’s no longer there. But it was there before. I can’t understand why artists withdraw their albums and then bring them back when they feel like it. Go on YouTube, and the whole album is there, and it pays less. Talk about leaving money on the table. I guess it’s Cinderella’s loss.

Anyway, I also knew that on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums up to “Love Gun” hated this album. And the good thing is, when I went to Spotify, it was there, available, to be listened too. Gene and Paul are very critical of the current business models, but they are also business minded people who don’t want to leave any source of income unattended.

It’s like going back in my room, dropping the needle and being greeted with the fast picked E note that is “I Was Made For Loving You”. While “Loving” is modern and of the times, “2,000 Man” is a rock and roll relic out of place on this glitzy melodic rock disco album. And back then, the year 2000 seemed so far away and now we are 18 years past it.

“Sure Know Something” has that groovy sleazy bass line in the verses and when the guitars start crunching in the Chorus the song moves from a disco R&B feel to Hard Rock. And when “Dirty Livin’” starts up, I am floored by the diversity of the album. It’s covered a lot of ground musically. Actually, when I heard “The Night Flight Orchestra’s” debut album back in 2012, I was immediately reminded of “Dynasty”.

“Charisma” and “Magic Touch” keep the momentum going. “Hard Times”, “X-Ray Eyes” and “Save Your Love” bookend the album, but I would have been happy if the album finished at “Hard Times”, with one of my favourite lyrical lines in “the hard times are dead and gone, but the hard times have made me strong”. Damn right they did.

Continuing with May releases over different timespans, on May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”.

The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”.  It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Cant This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.

The drumming is frantic, making a clichéd keyboard riff sound heavy as hell.

Oh, you’ve got Allah in the east
You’ve got Jesus in the west
Christ, what’s a man to do?

Exactly, what is a man to do when belief systems go to war. Sort of like Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s famous film clip “Two Tribes” when Reagan and Gorbachev went at it.

And how good is the guitar solo from EVH?

Then the single “When It’s Love” keeps the pop metal momentum going, but “AFU(Naturally Wired)” is vintage EVH. Its chaotic and yet so focused. And how cool is that bridge riff just before the crazy solo. I know Sammy loves “Cabo Wabo” and I love the solo section of the song and I dig the music, but man, I don’t like the lyrics.

“Source Of Infection” is wild abandonment on the steroid level scales of “Hot For Teacher”.  “Feels So Good” is a favourite of mine and “Finish What Ya Started” is groovy and sleazy. To be honest, I’ve overdosed on these songs as the clips always appeared on the TV shows, but man, those verses on “Feels So Good” just get me all the time.

“Black and Blue”, “Sucker In A 3 Piece” and “A Apolitical Blues” close out the album, and the star here is “Sucker In A 3 Piece”. It should have come after “Finish What Ya Started”.

And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is adored today by the masses. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be. Music is personal. So while some people go to the show to have a good time, the majority of people still go to connect with the band on the stage.

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

Cinderella – It’s Been A Long Cold Winter Without Your Music

In my weekly Spotify Discover list, it had “Gypsy Road” from Cinderella. I own all the two 80’s albums on LP and “Heartbreak Station” on CD, however I can’t say I have really listened to them over the last 20 years. So let’s call the Spotify Discovery selection a Re-Discovery.

I went straight to the “Long Cold Winter” album. The bluesy feel and the rawness was excellent for 1988, plus it was a good chance to hear Cozy Powell play drums again. For the ones that don’t know, Fred Coury was still very young and green, plus he was a new addition to the band. For “Night Songs”, Cinderella had a session drummer and Coury came in for the tour. Coury’s time would come on the next record “Heartbreak Station”. In addition, producer Andy Johns was notorious for being tough on drummers.

“Bad Seamstress Blue/Falling Apart” sets the blues groove from the outset.

“Look at the winner who hit the ground,
It comes around and then it goes back down”

How good is that lyric!! It’s like the saying goes, what goes up must come down. But hey, life is all about highs and lows.

“Gypsy Road” is up next and it’s probably the closest the band get to the sounds of their debut “Night Songs”.

“My gypsy road can’t take me home
I drive all night just to see the light”

Life of a rock n roll touring band. The whole “Long Cold Winter” album was written on the road in, while touring on “Night Songs”.

“Don’t Know What You Got Till Its Gone” is a great power ballad and Keifers voice was so unique and gravelly, it made a cliched song sound original. It’s funny, I thought when Hinder came out, the vocalist was Tom Keifer. And of course his vocal style would lead to surgery.

“Heartaches come and go and all that’s
left are the words I can’t let go”

Another brilliant lyric from Keifer.

“The Last Mile” is upmarket AC/DC. Keifer sounds like a polished up Brian Johnson.

“Don’t know where I’m going
But I know where I’ve been
Look around me everybody’s trying to win”

The catchphrase used by David Coverdale in “Here I Go Again”.

“Long Cold Winter” is ahead of its time. A few years later Gary Moore went to number 1 with “Still Got The Blues” which wasn’t a far departure from the feel of  “Long Cold Winter”. Jeff LeBar goes to town on the solo section. Underrated guitar hero in my mind.

Gonna be a long cold winter
Long cold winter without your love

The ultimate love song.

“Coming Home” is classic seventies.

“I took a walk down a road
It’s the road I was meant to stay
I see the fire in your eyes
But a man’s got to make his way”

A perfect song for an album written on the road. When you so far away from home, all you wanna do is get back home.

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Influenced, Music, My Stories

Don’t Know What You Got (Until It’s Gone)

It was a combination of events that cemented Cinderella as superstars.

The main event was the supporting slot on the Bon Jovi “Slippery When Wet” tour. Bon Jovi had just broken through and started selling out all of the arenas. Apart from opening all the North American dates, Bon Jovi had a little jam session during each gig where the Cinderella guys would come out and do a song with them. Sort of like how in the recent Sydney show, Jon Bon Jovi brought out Kid Rock, his sax player and his back up singers for a version of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock N Roll”.

Jon Bon Jovi even had a hand in getting the band signed with Polygram, by convincing Derek Schulman to check them out. By 1985, Schulman was four years into his A&R gig with Polygram and he was slowly proving himself at signing great talent. Of course he would also go on to sign such important acts like Pantera and Dream Theater in the years to come.

This is how Tom Keifer told it in a “Screamer Magazine” interview;

“We barely knew who he was because this was before Slippery When Wet. He was in Philadelphia making the 7800° Fahrenheit record, their second record, so we had no idea he was going to be there” stated Keifer. “He came back to the dressing room afterwards and introduced himself, Runaway was a hit, and he had a video on MTV so we knew who he was and for us at that point in our career, it felt like a big deal.”

“He was very complimentary, he really liked the band and enjoyed the show, nice to meet you and on his way he went. And we had no idea that he was y’know gonna get back to Polygram and he put in some very nice words to his A&R guy Derek Shulman who signed him. Derek had already had our demo tape as our manager had given it to him; and he was riding the fence. I don’t blame him because our demos were just god awful. We were pretty young and green and didn’t know how to record music. We didn’t really have much guidance. It’s a whole different thing to walk into rehearsal room or onto a live stage and blast out what you do, and then it’s another thing to walk in a recording studio and try to capture it!”

“So Derek’s riding the fence and basically what Jon did was, he said forget the demo tape, I just saw them live, and you should go down check them out.”

So the Bon Jovi tour gave Cinderella real exposure. Of course, they had the songs to capitalise on that exposure. While, lead off single “Shake Me” failed to make a dent, the second single “Nobody’s Fool” went nuclear, pushing the album to move 50,000 units a week. MTV put it in rotation and Cinderella became the new platinum darlings.

“Night Songs” was originally released in June 1986. In October 1986, the “Nobody Fools” video hit MTV and by December that same year, the “Night Songs” album is certified platinum. By February 1987, it was certified double platinum. So when it came time to record the follow-up, the pressure was on for the band to deliver.

Deliver they did. Within two months from when it was released, “Long Cold Winter” was certified platinum. “Don’t Know What You Got (Until It’s Gone)” certified Tom Keifer as a serious songwriter. Andy Johns (RIP) was on deck again to deliver another big sounding album. Drummer, Fred Coury didn’t even play on the album as Andy Johns kept on finding timing issues. The album is a blues rock classic that can rival all the best output from seventies bands like Bad Company and it celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

It’s got that piano riff that’s instantly memorable and secondary to Tom’s raspy voice. The song had everything that all the glam rock/metal bands where selling, but at the same time it was different enough to be stand out amongst the noise.

“Don’t know what you got till it’s gone
Don’t know what it is I did so wrong
Now I know what I got
It’s just this song
And it ain’t easy to get back
Takes so long”

That’s what being an artist is all about. A need to express yourself. This is something that songs written by a committee cannot really achieve. The real stars of the Eighties wrote and performed their own material.

When you hit bottom, the first thing we turn to is music. Tom Keifer’s raspy voice brings the emotion out and connects on all levels. Truer words have never been spoken especially when in a few years, Tom Keifer would be diagnosed with a collapsed vocal chord. That still didn’t stop them from delivering “Heartbreak Station” and it would be another 4 years until “Still Climbing” hit the streets to a hostile musical climate. It quickly disappeared and their next project ended in a legal mess.

In an interview with Metal Sludge dated June 12, 2001, A&R Guru John Kalonder had this to say about Cinderella;

“Tom Keifer is a very talented musician and has always taken a long time to write a record. In two years, he demo’d some songs, only one of which I thought was good enough to be on a new album after so many years away. Just before we attempted to record some material last winter, I dropped them due to the lack of support from people at my company. Cinderella is one of my favorite bands and I hope they record a record and have great success with it.”

This is what Tom Keifer had to say on it on the matter of new music on Blabbermouth.

“We attempted that in ’98 with Sony and [former A&R executive] John Kalodner and it turned into a big legal hassle and lawsuit, which prevented us from recording the material that they claimed they owned, for five years. . . . Even though they didn’t want to record it. It’s typical in recording contracts. It’s called re-record rights. Once they claim they own the songs, you can’t re-record it for five years. They claimed ownership and decided not to make the record. It was like two years of writing and demos of material that we weren’t allowed to record. Needless to say, we had a slightly bad taste in our mouth. . .”

That’s the music business. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. When the history of hard rock is written by the winners, Cinderella needs to be there. Their first three albums are all masterpieces. Tom Keifer’s vocal style is his life style. When everyone was going for high range vocals in the Eighties, Cinderella brought it all back to basics. With each album they became rawer and dirtier, which was the opposite of what their contemporaries where doing.

Hearing them again today, it sure brought back a lot of memories. Guess you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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Music

Andy Johns – Rest In Peace and Thanks For the Music

Does anyone remember the band Cinderella?  Tom Keifer had the best blues rock voice ever.  Andy Johns, produced and engineered their first two albums, Night Songs and Long Cold Winter.  Both albums where hits.  That was my first introduction to Andy Johns.  He nailed the glam hard rock sound for Night Songs and then he got he got the blues rock (Bad Company/Aerosmith) inspired sound that the band was going for on Long Cold Winter.

Then came For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge by Van Halen.  Ted Templeman was on board to record Sammy Hagar, as Andy Johns was too demanding for Sammy.  Eddie returning to his hard rock roots and Andy Johns on board to capture it.  It spawned the hit Right Know.

Majority of music lovers will remember the artists and the songs attached to them.  Key players in the history of recorded music are the producers, engineers and the mixers.  They are the ones tasked with getting the ideas of the artist recorded.  They need to please the artists and the record label at the same time.  They do not get the credit they deserve. Alan Parsons deserves more credit for his engineering role, especially on Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd.  Martin Birch should be credited as the god father of heavy metal and hard rock.  Andy Johns alongside him.

Rest in Peace Andy Johns and thanks for contributing to my soundtrack

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Music

What made Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet Explode?

What made Slippery When Wet explode?

A lot of people credit Bruce Fairbairn for it.  Others credit the influence of Desmond Child, while others would credit the sound engineering and mix by Bob Rock.  Others put it down to Jon and Richie finally finding their niche as songwriters and finally others put it down to the Pizza Parlour Jury.   Could it have been the labels release schedule and marketing plan?  Could it have been that the scene needed a shake up and this album was right time, right place?

First let’s put into context where the band was at in 1985.  They had just finished a nine-month world tour for 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit.  The band was in debt to the record label for a couple of million bucks.  The guys where living at their mom and dad’s, and wrote most of the songs for Slippery When Wet in Richie’s mom’s basement. 

There is a common myth that once a band is signed, they are showered with untold riches and that they have money coming out of their arse.  That is so far from the truth.   Bon Jovi where in debt and they were lucky that the label gave them a third chance.

From the 90’s onwards, labels didn’t give bands three chances.  One chance was all they had.  If they failed they will get someone else.   These days the labels are irrelevant.  They need to compete on a playing field where the rules change at the same rate technology changes and to be honest, they are so out of touch, it’s almost laughable watching them trying to hold on to the old way of doing things. 

Let’s start with Bruce Fairbairn.  Before he started doing Slippery he was coming off a multi-platinum run of releases with Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite, plus a Gold release with Krokus.   According to Paul Dean from Loverboy, Bruce is super organized.  He charts everything out and every song is broken into parts. 

Slippery would go on to multi – multi platinum sales and New Jersey (also produced by Bruce would do the same).  From Slippery, Bruce would move on to Aerosmith.  Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get A Grip all went multi – multi platinum.  He resurrected AC/DC’s career with the 5x platinum The Razors Edge after a steady decline in sales after Back In Black.  It is safe to say that Bruce had a certain knack for getting the best out of the artists he produced.  His track record is envious to say the least.

Then you have Desmond Child.  

Jon and Richie wanted to write with another song writer, so that other people can perform the songs.  Jon heard Tina Turner singing a song that Bryan Adams had written and wanted to do the same.  That is how Desmond Child came on the scene.  However the plan got skewed, as the songs that came out of those sessions where that good, that it was decided they will be kept for Jovi instead.

The first song Jon and Richie wrote with Desmond in Richie’s mother’s basement was “The Edge Of A Broken Heart”.  The second song they wrote was “You Give Love A Bad Name” by referencing a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler called If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man).  The melodies and chord progressions are very similar.

He used the story of his 70’s girlfriend, Maria Vidal who used to work a diner and was called Gina, for Livin On A Prayer.  In interviews, Richie has stated that Jon didn’t want the song on the album, while Richie was trying to convince him it was the best song they had.

I’d Die For You and Without Love where two other songs penned by Jon, Richie and Desmond.  I’d Die For You even has a cult status as a fan favourite.  Desmond brought the pop side to Bon Jovi’s form of hard rock, glam metal overtones. 

The engineer and mixer Bob Rock 

Jon heard Honeymoon Suite’s The Big Prize (another Bruce and Bob production) and that sealed the deal for Bon Jovi to also seek out Bob Rock.

The Pizza Parlour Jury

When Jon and Riche were making the demos in New Jersey, they would go across the street to the pizza parlour. They would ask a bunch of kids to hear some stuff.   As Richie puts it, “It was like a marketing test .  They came in and said, “Yeah, we like this one. This one gets through and that one doesn’t.”

They sure needed it as they wrote a truck load of songs.  Apart from the 10 songs that ended up on the album, other songs that never made it include;

Never Enough For You, Borderline, Edge Of A Broken Heart, Heat Of The Night, Give My Heart, Lonely Is The Night, Too Much Too Soon, Game Of The Heart, Deep Cuts The Night, Stand Up, Walk Don’t Run, Out of Bounds, There Is No Answer, Promise, Take Me All.

Bouncing songs off different independent ears that are not related to the band, helped Bon Jovi focus on the songs that where stronger.

Polygram Records

Doc McGhee the Bon Jovi manager at the time has stated that putting out a record at the right time is very important.  He further mentioned that the label looked at what other labels where releasing and picked a window where there was nothing really there competing against it.

August was the month that was selected and competing against Slippery When Wet where other August releases from Motorhead – Orgasmatron, Vinnie Vincent – Invasion, Warlock – True As Steel and Great White – Shot In The Dark. 

If it was released in July, it would have been up against DLR’s – Eat Em and Smile for listeners’ attention.   If it was released in June, it would have had to compete against Queen – A Kind of Magic, Genesis – Invisible Touch, Rod Stewart – Every Beat of My Heart, Madonna – True Blue and Cinderella – Night Songs.  If it was released in May as originally intended, it would have been up against AC/DC – Who Made Who, Journey – Raised on Radio and Europe – The Final Countdown. 

The Album

Let It Rock kicks it off Side 1.

The weekend comes to this town
Seven days too soon
For the ones who have to make up
What we break up of their rules

This song is written purely for the concert experience.  That is foresight in itself.  Apart from delivering a good album of songs, Jon and Richie are mindful of how they will go down live.  The song is about rebellion, getting that fist pumping in the air, just to let your hair down on the weekend.  Much like Loverboy’s Working for The Weekend.  But in this case the rock is a fire that is burning out of control.  Another analogy to melting rock temperatures (7800 degrees Fahrenheit).  It’s funny where Let It Rock has that keyboard intro, Lay Your Hands On Me from New Jersey, is almost identical riff wise to Let It Rock and it has that long drum intro.  It must be a Bruce thing, as even Turn Me Loose had a long keyboard intro.  A good start by the Jon and Richie song writing team.

“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darling you give love a bad name.”  The iconic a capella chorus.  Then the band kicks in and Richie does his vocal melody lead until they start the strip bar sleazy verse riff.

I remember when I saw the clip, I was glued to my TV screen.  I never got the name of the song and I thought it was called Shot Through The Heart, so I purchased the cassette album that had the song Shot Through The Heart.   Of course that was the wrong song.  Right band, but wrong song.   The clincher for me was the chorus part after the guitar solo, where it’s just the voice and the drums (sort of reminded me of Queen’s We Will Rock You).  You Give Love A Bad Name was the one that got the door opened and once the band unleashed Livin On A Prayer, the band started selling 700,000 records a month.    It also featured the song writing talents of Desmond Child, who borrowed the vocal melody and chords from a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler, called If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man).

Livin On A Prayer was the song that Jon wasn’t even sure should be on the album. 

Bob Lefsetz posted that Livin On A Prayer is where Bon Jovi got the girls and that is what has kept the band going.  He aint wrong there and Jon knew that, hence the reason why he rewrote the song over and over again for each album that came after.   New Jersey had Born To Be My Baby (again a co-write with Desmond Child).  Keep The Faith had the title track (the chorus chord progression is identical, except in a different key and again a co-write with Desmond Child).  These Days had Hey God, Crush had Its My Life (Max Martin comes into the fold now), Bounce and Have A Nice Day had the title tracks.  The Circle had We Weren’t Born To Follow and the Greatest Hits had This is Love, This is Life.  For What About Now, the whole album is following the themes from Livin On A Prayer.  If you are on a winning formula, do it right again and you will hit pay dirt.

Tommy used to work on the docks
Union’s been on strike
He’s down on his luck…it’s tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man, she brings home her pay
For love – for love

It’s a movie in words.  Life is tough but as long as we love each other, we will be okay.  A lot of people were not okay, but Livin On A Prayer made them feel that they were, as Tommy and Gina were also living the same life they were living.    

Social Disease is the pure filler that needed to be written so that Bad Medicine could be written. 

So you telephone your doctor
Just to see what pill to take
You know there’s no prescription
Gonna wipe this one away

In never should have ended up on Slippery.  Edge of A Broken Heart is far superior.  I know that Jon apologised for that omission.  To be honest the song never had a chance with the listeners coming off three winners already.  It was a poor song from the Jon and Richie team.  At least they made up for it in the next song.

Wanted Dead or Alive was the 80’s version of Turn The Page which Jon more or less copied again for the Young Guns soundtrack and had another number one hit in Blaze of Glory with a cool Jeff Beck solo.    Wanted was written by Jon and Richie.  This song didn’t reach number one, but it is a number one song.  A cult classic.  A radio staple.  When the song was released as a single, the multi-million fan base had already digested it.  They didn’t need to buy the single to make it No. 1.  It was already that in their hearts and minds.      

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it’s not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways

Life on the road is just that.  I am just finishing off reading a Randy Rhoads bio, and it’s pretty clear that Randy started to hate the road.  He wanted to quit Ozzy’s band and study classical music.  He worked his whole life to achieve rock stardom and now that he had it, he was going to give it all up to follow his dream of classical music.  Sadly he never got there.  That is another thing that seems to be forgotten, the road also kills. 

Raise Your Hands (Let It Rock part 2) kicks off side 2.  Another Jon and Richie composition.  The motto of this song is simply.  Come to the show, raise your hands and get wild.  It doesn’t repeat what Let It Rock started, it takes it into overdrive. 

Raise your hands
When you want to let it go
Raise your hands
And you want to let a feeling show

Without Love is the second track after Raise Your Hands on side 2.  This was a Jon, Richie and Des composition and is forgettable.  The first side was pretty much spot on, that it was hard to get into Side 2.    

I saw a man down on lonely street
A broken man who looked like me
And no one knows the pain that he’s been living
He lost his love and still hasn’t forgiven

I’d Die for You is another Jon, Richie and Des composition.  It has become a cult classic for Bon Jovi, with fans hoping that it gets played each night, like Runaway. 

I might not be a savior
And I’ll never be a king
I might not send you roses
Or buy you diamond rings

We are not perfect in relationships, however we try our best.  A lot of the times our best is not good enough and it all ends bad.

Never Say Goodbye doesn’t get out of second gear

As I sit in this smokey room
The night about to end
I pass my time with strangers
But this bottle’s my only friend

And Wild in the Street is a song that could have ended up on a Bruce Springsteen B sides album.    

In here we got this code of honor
Nobody’s going down

As Bob Lefsetz puts “if you want to relive 1986, if you want to know what it was like way back then… You play “Slippery When Wet.”

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