Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Bloodied But Unbowed – Passing Time with Dee Snider, Desperado and Shut Up And Give Me The Mic

I am about 200 pages deep into the Dee Snider bio, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic.” It got me into a Snider mood, so I turned to “Desperado – Bloodied But Unbowed”. You cant find it on Spotify, however all the songs are available on YouTube, the original unofficial streaming site. You see, while the Record Labels procrastinated over licensing Spotify, YouTube slipped in through the back door and won the streaming war. If you want to buy it, iTunes also has it for sale.

Bloodied But Unbowed means “harmed but not defeated by an unpleasant situation or competition”. It is a typical Dee Snider statement especially coming off the Twisted Sister meltdown. For the uninitiated Desperado also includes Clive Burr (RIP) on drums, Bernie Tormè on guitars and Marc Russel on bass.

The project never saw a proper release due to the record label Elektra, pulling the CD from the shelves, two weeks before its release. The quote from Bernie Tormè more or less sums it up; “Well, it took years out of all our lives, though for me 99.9% was pure pleasure. It was a great album, great singer, great band, but unfortunately for us, a shit record company.”

Dee sums up his feelings in “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic”;

“I was literally packing to leave for England to shoot our video when I received a devastating call from my manager, Mark Puma. Elektra Records had dropped Desperado and shelved our album.

The news hit me as if I’d been told a family member died. I collapsed in a chair and listened to an explanation of how my record—which already had a catalog number and was in the Elektra database and slated for release in just weeks—had come to an end. Brian Koppelman—the fan who had signed us—had left the label for a better offer at a new record company called Giant Records. Insulted by Brian’s move, Elektra got even with him by “shelving” all the projects he was working on. As if we were inanimate objects, Elektra Records shut down our careers. I couldn’t believe it.”

Back in the heyday of the record labels, as a musician, your career was in the hands of the record labels. The record company moguls had the power to make or break not only musical careers but the financial lives of individuals. Even though the Desperado project started in 1988, the story of their album getting shelved goes back to 1983, when Bob Krasnow was put in charge of Elektra and given the task of turning the Label’s fortunes around.

So what happens when making music and making profits collides? Careers get destroyed and careers get put on hold. Bob Krasnow came into power, destroyed the careers of many artists between 1983 and 1993. Desperado wasn’t the first project that Bob Krasnow left nor would it be the last. By 1994, he abruptly resigned (aka for pushed to resign) from Elektra, after he was excluded from the new Warner Music corporate inner circle. How does it feel to be on the outer, sucker? Payback

Emaheevul

Clive Burr lays the foundation for the song after the harmonica intro. The version on “Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker, is a modern radio friendly take, however the Desperado version has that Bluesy Classic Rock rawness that I like. This is the same feeling I had when I compared the Atlantic re-issue of “Under The Blade” with the original Secret Records version. For me the Secret Records version had that rawness that was just perfect.

Big credit to Bernie Torme and Clive Burr for the Classic Rock touch. Dee always wrote great melodies and with Torme on the scene, he now had a person that could write music that was more intricate.

Never thought much about right or wrong
Never thought much about what I’ve done
Never think much about what I’ll do

You know the story. Our upbringing is all about living as a member of the family, the community and the nation. It’s all about doing the right thing instead of the wrong thing and so on. Pursuing your own dreams and pleasures is frowned upon and seen as selfish, especially if it doesn’t involve earning a weekly wage.

Then you have Dee spitting out the words of Emaheevul. Don’t think about it, don’t procrastinate about it, just do it.

Am I evil?
What’s it to you?
Am I evil?
Compared to who?
Am I evil?
Death, where’s thy sting?
How you dare
Point and stare
Who made you king?

A funny thing happens to all the ones that point and stare. Their life eventually ends up in the doldrums because it isn’t as great as they make it out to be. The ones that judge end up being judged.

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

It’s 7 minutes long and it’s got that large Def Leppard style chorus ala, “Headed For A Heartbreak”. Bernie Torme is allowed to take centre stage on this song, with his leads and fills.

Dee has said that “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is his proudest moment as a writer and nobody even knows the song. I know about and a lot of others know it. In time, millions more will know it. The music business model has always been about creating great music now, only to get recognition years later. Then the record labels got powerful and made the music business all about creating music now and expecting to be paid handsomely now. No wonder Dee has lost his motivation to create new material.

But a man ain’t a man if he don’t take a stand
And he won’t put it all on the line

One thing that I am taking out of the Dee Snider bio so far, is that he always put everything on the line just to make it. He was a leader. Leaders question authority, while followers obey the rules. Leaders have no safety net, while followers have a back-up plan. Leaders, start the corporation, while followers work for the corporation. Leaders do it their own way, while followers have conformity as their way of doing things.

I can’t see any band in today’s times, hanging in for seven to nine years before they get international recognition. The kids these days don’t have that mindset. Furthermore, the music model is totally different. Look at the band Heartist. They built their following online and then when they played their first gig, the buzz was there, the record labels came out in force and so did all the prospective managers.

The book also highlights the difference between “breaking through” in the 70s/80s and today. Fame and fortune in the music business can be gone in an instant no matter how hard a person works at it. The music industry is a brutal machine. From 1976 to 1992, Dee Snider was chewed up and spat out numerous times and he still made it through. The music business is about survival.

Ain’t the only one to ever lose
Ain’t the only man who had to choose
I’m no stranger to that kind of news
But a man ain’t a man if he don’t make a stand
And he won’t put his heart on the line

If you are afraid to lose, then you are a follower and you don’t belong in the music business. If you believe that you are destined to win and are not afraid to lose, then you belong in the music business. While followers plan, leaders make it up as they go.

This song is written before the “Desperado” album was pulled. It’s like Dee could see the future. Great music and great messages are timeless. The themes in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” were relevant in 1988/89 when the song came to fruition. The same theme was relevant when Widowmaker came to be in 1992 and in 2013 the message is still relevant. You will never be a winner if you don’t put everything on the line.

Calling For You

95% of the love ballads that came out during the Eighties I found corny. I really liked “Love Song” from Tesla. It was a whole different take on the format, with many different movements, like the Randy Rhoads inspired classical guitar intro, to the normal stock standard hard rock ballad and the big “Hey Jude”, “love will find a way” ending.

The original version of “Calling For You” leaves me speechless and the Widowmaker version is also top notch. When you have a quality song, the output will always be quality. Its great to hear Bernie Torme’s style in this song as I was so used to Al Pitrelli’s take. Clive Burr is hitting the skins, like it is his last day on this Earth especially on the pre chorus part of the song, when Dee starts singing, “Girl I want you to stay / I beg you, I pray / Don’t leave me this way / I’ve so much to say / Oh, don’t walk away / How long must I pay?”

There is that familiarity in the lyrics. The lyric line of “How long must I pay?” is referencing the song “The Price” from the Stay Hungry album. Back in 1984 it was a price that Dee had to pay and in 1988/89 he is asking the question, for how long must he pay the price.

See You At Sunrise

Classic solo by Torme. The lead break alone is one of those songs within a song compositions. It’s melodic and shredilicous. It goes on for about two minutes and it closes the song. No one has got the balls these days to go with a two minute lead break in a song. Everything is about conformity. Followers play the political game. Leaders on the other hand, play their own game. I really like how Dee uses the cowboy showdown analogy for the breakdown/showdown of a relationship.

See you at sunrise
See you in the morning’s light
There won’t be any compromise when I’m blowin’ you away

I was reading some reviews on Dee’s bio, and quite a few of them had the words that Dee’s ego is still uncontrollable. Maybe it is. While followers conform their personalities to get along, Dee just got to be himself. There was no compromise. That is what leaders do.

In the end, Twisted Sister became international stars because of Dee Snider. No one cares about the hard work that Jay Jay French put in behind the scenes. In the end, artists are judged by their songs and the songwriter in Twisted Sister was/is Dee Snider. Case closed.

Gone Bad

It’s perfect for 1989. It’s pop metal and it’s sleazy as hell. Again, both versions between Desperado and Widowmaker have their own uniqueness. The Desperado version, is edgier and rawer. If anything it is under produced. Torme again shines with his Guitar Heroics. The lead break is again a “song within a song” composition. Torme was really in his element working with Dee.

So I’m bad, cut off from the rest
So I walk alone, everything you detest
Why should I play the games you play
Should I worry ’bout all the things people say
Tell me why should I care
Won’t you tell me what should I prove
That I’m just as feeble and lost as you?

The Maverick (Run Wild, Run Free)

This is probably as close as Dee got to his Twisted Sister days with Desperado. It reminds me of the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” period. The song to me is autobiographical.

It stood in the meadow, wind blowin’ through its mane
Cryin’ go, go, go, go and do it
He stares out the window, anger feeds his flame
Cries oh, oh, oh I can’t lose it
And he asks no questions why ’cause he knows it’s do or die
He got colder and tough, now he’s hard to the stuff
He’s got to go and try

While the majority of society argues about their pay, for Dee Snider money was secondary. The mission statement was always about succeeding. It was about making it. Any price would be paid in order to succeed.

Run wild, run free on the road to nowhere
No one’s gonna change your life

The mission statement is about running wild and running free and doing things your own way. Do not expect a shining light to arrive from out of nowhere and change your life. You are in control of your own life. If something is not working then something needs to change. It always starts with you.

But she asks no questions why ’cause she knows it’s do or die
She just smiles and hangs tough ’cause she’s hard to the stuff
She knows he’s got to try

The other side to the mission statement. In chasing dreams, how much are you willing to sacrifice. When it comes to music, a lot.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Dee Snider – Widowmaker – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

I saw Dee Snider as the spokesperson for Metal music in the Eighties’. Apart from writing generational anthems, he could also string sentences together like no one else could, and this led him all the way to Washington.

Reason To Kill is from the excellent Widowmaker debut, Blood and Bullets, released in 1992.

This is an angry Dee Snider, and that anger is directed at Bob Krasnow, the head of Elektra Records and the person responsible for killing off the Desperado project. It is a far cry of the anthemic Stay Hungry era.

For those that don’t know, Snider teamed up with guitarist Bernie Torme (Ozzy/Ian Gillan), drummer Clive Burr (Iron Maiden) and bassist Mark Russell to form Desperado, his first project post Twisted Sister. The album Bloodied But Unbowed was shelved at the last minute by Bob Krasnow.

Songs like Hang Em High, Cry You A Rainbow, Calling For You, Gone Bad and Emaheevull would be released on other Dee Snider projects. Dee even had to buy back his own songs from Elektra in order to re do them in Widowmaker, which features the excellent Al Pitrelli on guitar.

Pitrelli was coming off a run of high profile gigs with Alice Cooper (as musical director, songwriter and touring guitarist), Great White (fill in guitarist) and Michael Bolton (backing band guitarist). Also he started to become an accomplished songwriter, contributing to Y&T and Alice Cooper albums. On top of that, he had people like Steve Vai, recommending him as an artist to work with.

Widowmaker also included former Twisted Sister drummer Joe Franco and bassist Marc Russell from Dee’s Desperado project. The band name was suggested by producer Ric Wake because he liked the Dee Snider song called “The Widowmaker”. Snider even contacted bassist Bob Daisley (Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne), who played in the original Widowmaker, about using the name and got a “who cares if you use the name” reply. Rick Wake produced the album and that was an interesting choice as his experience at that time was purely pop artists like Taylor Dayne, Mariah Carey, Diana Ross and Sheena Easton.

So you used me
Then threw me away

That is the slogan of the Label Run Music Business. Actually it still is, especially to the ones who still chase major label gigs.

All my life it seems
Been spent building’ dreams
I knew would be broke by you

Think about the circumstances. Dee left Twisted Sister in 1987. He spent three years writing, demoing and recording the Desperado album, only to have it pulled from release in 1990. The band splintered apart and he was left in no man’s land. Three years out of the public eye in the music business is like a life time, and prior to Desperado, Dee spent his whole life building up Twisted Sister only to have that broken as well, by label and management pressure. Love Is For Suckers was always meant to be a Dee Snider solo release, however the powers that be had other ideas.

Dee was also upset with Atlantic when the label announced it was putting together a best-of Twisted Sister album, which was released a few months before the Widowmaker album. It was typical of the labels. Releasing music as best offs. The maths are simple. Zero Cost = Pure Profit.

Dee mentioned once in an interview, that he has grown musically and was into more heavy rock, and that he hoped, that the fans of Twisted Sister’s heyday had grown with him.

“You’ve got to remember that people who were fans in (Twisted Sister’s) heyday six or seven years ago were 16 then and are 23 now. The 12-year-olds are 18 or 19. Just as I’ve grown (musically), hopefully they have grown as well.”

Widowmaker didn’t have the same commercial success as Twisted Sister, however as a Dee Snider and Al Pitrelli fan, I loved the project and the combination of two talents.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Classic Album Closing Songs

Diary Of A Madman (1981)

Entries of confusion
Dear diary, I’m here to stay

What can I say, it had to be a Randy Rhoads song.  Diary shows the monster that Randy was becoming.  Despite being seen as Ozzy’s band, the star of the band is Randy Rhoads.

Diary Of A Madman is the perfect fusion of progressive metal, technical rock and sinister classical all rolled into one potent song.  As much as Sharon Osbourne tries to re-write Ozzy’s history, she can never re-write the music that was created.  The music comes from the guitar, bass and the keys, all instruments her beloved Ozzy doesn’t play.

Australian Bob Daisley as the lyricist and bassist is the unsung hero in Ozzy’s second coming.  He doesn’t even get credited as playing on the album, thanks to a spiteful Sharon Osbourne.  He was recruited from the Dio fronted Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.  How ironic, that Dio would leave Rainbow to sing for Black Sabbath, and Daisley would leave Rainbow to join the singer that Black Sabbath fired.

Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

Mark my words believe my soul lives on
Don’t worry now that I have gone
I’ve gone beyond to seek the truth

When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll begin to understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion

It’s a Steve Harris composition, however the voice of Bruce Dickinson is the savior. It gave Iron Maiden the fire to break away from the New Wave of British Metal image and forge a new direction.  It made them relevant.

Iron Maiden became a household name on the back of The Number of The Beast along with it’s anthem Run To The Hills.

However the real star on this album is the closer, Hallowed Be Thy Name.  The definitive version is the live version featured on Live After Death (1985).  The tempo is increased slightly and Nicko McBrain (who replaced Clive Burr) on the drums, gives the song the fury it needs.  The song is about the last moments of a prisoner before the execution.

Who We Are (2011)

We are the young
And young at heart
The strong and the brave that are destined to start
We are the change
The world needs to see
Look in our eyes and see our belief

This is who we are
This is what I am
We have nowhere else to go
Divided we will stand

The mighty Machine Fucken Head.  It’s a Robb Flynn composition.  He should have changed the Divided We Will Stand to UNITED WE WILL STAND.  It would have fit the lyrical message of the song to a tee.  The only time we metal heads stand united as a metal show.  Apart from that, we are in a elite class of the genres we like.  I like Black Veil Brides.  Try telling that to my elite Slipknot and Mudvayne friends.  Do you get what I mean.

S.M.F (1984)

Black sheep of the family, nothing like the rest
Separate from the others, failing all their tests
Can’t they see you’re different, so hungry and so lean
You’re a walking wonder, you’re a metal machine
Look and you’ll see you’re a lot like me

You’re an S.M.F.

Any closing song that abbreviates the term Sick Mutha Fucker has my attention.  Twisted Sister was one band, that knew how to write songs for the live show.  Put that down to their 9 years of playing the club scenes before they even got a shitty independent deal.  Dee Snider was a master.

Of course the Stay Hungry album was known for the smash hits, We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock.  However the real star of the album is the ode to all of those Twisted SMF’s who supported the band.

The lyrical theme follows the same theme as We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock. It’s about metal fans versus the system and the family dynamic. This time the band is telling me, it’s okay to be different, it’s okay that I don’t fit a mold made for me.  There are others out there, that are experiencing the same and let our love of music, find us a home.

Shogun (2008)

Time has come to face all evil

It’s an epic.  The musicianship is excellent.  Trivium to me are part of the current Big 5 of metal bands, along with Machine Head (actually Machine Head to me are part of the Nineties Big 4 as well as the 2000’s Big 5), Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch.

That time to face all evil came to me in 2010, however I should have faced it in 2008.  Avoiding it, only made it worse.

If you succeed in this battle
You still will lose so much more

Ain’t that the truth.  Winning a battle (albeit a court case, a street fight or a real battle) is one thing, dealing with the aftermath is another thing.

Aerials (2001)

Life is a waterfall
we’re one in the river
and one again after the fall…

life is a waterfall
we drink from the river
then we turn around and put up our walls

System Of A Down nailed it on Aerials.  They really captured their European Armenian minor key arrangements and fused it with modern metal. The music is written by guitarist and backing vocalist, Daron Malakian and the lyrics are shared between Serj Tankian and Malakian.  I got into SOAD because of the unique vocal style of Serj.  In bands, it doesn’t matter how great the music is, if the singer cannot connect with the listeners and deliver, then it’s time to find someone who can.

How true is the statement?  We flow into each day, into each routine without any effor and we could flow like that for days.  Then one day, it all changes and we are going down the waterfall.  It’s quick, it’s crazy and when we come out of it, we will flow again like we did, but we will be different.

 

The Count Of Tuscany (2009)

Could this be the end?
Is this the way I die?
Sitting here alone
No one by my side

I don’t understand
I don’t feel that I deserve this
What did I do wrong?
I just don’t understand

Dream Theater deserves a mention for this beauty.  The lyrics by Petrucci could have been better, however the last section makes up for it.  Furthermore, there is no denying the impact of the music.  I also have my own edited version, where I cut out that atmospheric 4 minute keyboard and guitar interlude.

The stars of the band have always been the guitarist and the keyboardist for me.  John Petrucci and Kevin Moore was Mark 1.  John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess is Mark 3.

The great fear in humans. Death.  There isn’t a subject on it.  Hell, there even isn’t a subject about getting old.  I know that the lyric lines quoted above are about how John Petrucci as a child, got lost on a family holiday in Italy and he was fearing for his life, in an Italian cellar with a strange-looking Christopher Lee.  The beauty of lyrics done right, means that they can also be taken in a different way.

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