I like doing these review posts as it gives me the opportunity to read my earlier writing. Some of it is okay, some of it is crap and some of it is good. But the life Reno’s I went through recently put a stop to these weekly posts.
So here is a review of a few months of history.
4 Years Ago (2018)
You can read my review of Redemption’s new album at the time, “Long Night’s Journey Into Day”. Vocals on this album were provided by Tom Englund from Evergrey, while previous efforts had Ray Adler from Fates Warning fronting them.
Being a fan of Redemption before Englund joined, I was always keen to hear a new Redemption record, however I was even more keen to hear it when I knew Englund would be singing.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
Back in 2018, we had gas poisoning and acid attacks in the UK, Russia meddling in politics (and still meddling via a pointless war in Ukraine) and mother nature taking back her lands via fires, volcanoes, hurricanes/twisters and earthquakes. We have a problem with pollution in the air and plastics in our waters. We have people carrying out mass shootings or driving vehicles into crowds of people. We have wars over religion and poverty/famine in Africa is still happening and as much as big business want to deny it, climate change is real.
And then of course we got lockdowns due to COVID-19.
The past is littered with bands and music in general taking a stand against a problem, a situation, injustice and war. But what about now. What is upsetting musicians enough that they feel compelled to write about it?
Remember, you can’t be liked by everyone.
Take a stand.
LOCK UP THE WOLVES
A ticking clock sounds in the distance.
Suddenly it starts to get more louder as the speed increases.
It’s time for something to happen but what.
Then a syncopated guitar, drum and bass riff kicks in. And there is a pause. It happens again. And another pause.
“Lock Up The Wolves” doesn’t get the notice it should.
“Dr Feelgood” came out on the first of September, 1989. 33 years ago. The album cost me $19.99. I pay just a little bit more than that a month now for my whole family to listen to almost the history of music on Spotify.
The drug overdoses, the death and subsequent return from death for Nikki Sixx, the drugs, the crashed cars, the lawsuits, the drugs again, the imposter, Vince escaping jail, the women, the drugs again times two, the partying, the clashes with the law and the eventual “sobriety”.
“Dr Feelgood” had to be number 1. If the music didn’t do it, the stories would have. Apart from the big songs, the other songs on the album were not mere filler.
“Sticky Sweet” has a wicked solo section, “She Goes Down” has a great bass and drums verse section after the solo section, which ends with the sound of a zipper going down, “Slice Of Your Pie” is so Aerosmith, but it’s the Beatles “She’s So Heavy” outro that hooks me, while “Rattlesnake Shake” has a riff reminiscent to the 60’s blues guitarists that influenced Mick.
“Live After Death” on cassette was my first Maiden. I even high speed dubbed the album, just in case the cassette deck chewed up the original tape. “Powerslave” was released a year before “Life After Death” but it came into my collection a few years after because if you had “Live After Death” you didn’t really need the earlier albums.
The thing with “Powerslave” which makes it great is that it has the power and energy of a live album and the line-up is finally stable. When you don’t have to look for new musicians to fill the void, you can focus on writing great songs as they did with the “Peace Of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time”, “Seventh Son of A Seventh Son”.
For an album which is 38 years old, it’s still so relevant today as it was back then. That is the power of music and great song writing.
1979 – Part 3
1979 was a year of transition. While some bands were on their last legs, some were just starting to find their own.
Led Zeppelin were coming to an end while Thin Lizzy was on the ascendancy. The Scorpions had bigger things waiting with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Winds Of Change” while Fleetwood Mac and Bad Company delivered stellar albums that unfortunately got compared to their previous mega gazillion selling albums.
Aerosmith became a shell of the band they were with “Night In The Ruts”, while Motorhead after a few up’s and downs with record label crap, got lumped in with the NWOBHM movement starting off and started their brief commercial rise.
Uli John Roth left Scorpions and created Electric Sun, but in all honesty he should of stayed with Scorpions, while a supergroup of “musicians who all had small record deals” got together and called themselves Survivor. “Eye Of The Tiger” was a few years away, but you get to hear a band allowing their influences to shape their sound.
Basically, all the bands on this list just kept on creating, regardless of their status on the record label commercial tree. Because that’s why people get into music, to create. Not because copyright terms are forever or because some label said I will give you money to create.
Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door
Scorpions – Lovedrive
Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend
Fleetwood Mac – Tusk
Bad Company – Desolation Angels
Aerosmith – Night in the Ruts
Motorhead – On Parole
Motorhead – Bomber
Motorhead – Overkill
Electric Sun – Earthquake
Survivor – Survivor
Susan – Falling In Love Again
11 CRUE YEARS
“Generation Swine” and “Saints Of Los Angeles” both came out on June 24, 11 years apart.
How fortunes change for a band in a decade?
Before 1997, Motely Crue was riding high after “Dr Feelgood”. They renegotiated their Elektra contract for a lot of money and dropped “Decade Of Decadence” with 3 new studio recordings. Life was good.
Then Vince left or was fired (depending on whose story you believe). Regardless, the Crue got Corabi and delivered a stellar self-titled album in 94. But it didn’t sell the way Elektra wanted it too, and since they were footing the bills, they wanted the blond guy back in. Yep, Elektra Records A&R Reps in 1995, referred to Vince Neil as the blond guy.
The Crue camp remained defiant and went ahead writing songs for an album to be called “Personality #9” with Corabi. But money wins in the end and Corabi was out and Vince was back in.
It’s never been confirmed, but the Chinese whispers were in full voice, and the story doing the rounds mentioned how Corabi’s wage was coming from the other guys. Basically, Elektra paid Nikki, Tommy and Mick. Management took their cut, legal took their cut, Corabi got paid a wage and the rest was shared between the other three based on the band agreement.
“Generation Swine” came out, you heard it was a confused album. During the tour, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil punched on and Tommy leaves, then comes back and leaves again. Nikki gets into a slanging match with Elektra and eventually the contract was terminated and somehow Nikki managed to get the copyrights of the Crue songs back in the hands of the band. They form their own label and away they go.
Randy Castillo comes in, “New Tattoo” comes out, Randy dies, Samantha fills in on drums, Nikki gets it going with Samantha and his marriage goes to pieces while the Crue play theatres and cancel shows all over the world. I know, their Australian tour got canned. And after “New Tattoo”, the Crue went on hiatus.
In between, they got some stories together and a book called “The Dirt” came out. The band got back together for a few select shows and demand was so huge, those few shows turned into a huge world tour which was encapsulated in the “Carnival of Sins” DVD release.
If you want to have a career as an artist, you need to be a lifer, and be ready to ride the journey. It’s not always bright lights and success after success. There are hard times and good times. Doors shut and other doors are opened. And when everyone wrote them off, they came back stronger than ever.
For a band who were just average musicians at best, they built a career 40 plus years long. And that period between 1997 and 2008 could have been the end, but it wasn’t.
I was overdosing on a band called Kingcrow and their new album at the time “The Persistence”.
A FEW MILLION
I came across an interview from Vince Neil in Faces USA 1993. Post Crue departure, Vince was the man, the centre of attention. Here are some sections in italics.
Faces: What surprised you the most about the reception you received upon your departure from Motley Crue?
Vince: How quickly I was accepted. A lot of the labels had faith in me. I had a lot of different labels that were interested. It was a really exciting process, walking in there and talking with the different companies, like the heads of Geffen and Giant and Epic.
All these corporate presidents were like “Come on, come and be with us.”
I sat in with Mo Ostin at Warner Brothers and all these dudes and I felt so much power in the room. When I made the deal, went “Okay, give me the money I want and a Warner Bros jacket with Bugs Bunny on it and I will sign the deal.”
I went with a Warner Brothers basically because they gave me the money I wanted and the security of being on the Warner’s label.
Faces: Can you tell us what the deal was?
Vince: Eighteen million dollars for 5 records.
Think about it. Motley Crue signed a 5 album deal with Elektra worth $35 million and the singer who wasn’t even the main songwriter of the band, then goes and signs a solo deal with Warner Bros for $18 million and 5 albums. And the “Exposed” album is a great slab of hard rock during a time when hard rock albums started to disappear from the record store shelves. But in music, these long term deals very rarely are seen to the end. Two years later in 1995, Vince was no longer accepted, and he had no record deal and no management after “Carved In Stone” disappointed commercially.
The person who signed him, Mo Ostin left Warner Bros in 1994, so it’s safe to say the new team, didn’t really like some of the signings that the old team did.
Even Motley Crue didn’t see the end of their Elektra deal. The people who negotiated the Motley deal in 1992, were no longer at Elektra by 1995 and the new Elektra management team didn’t really care for Motley. All they cared about was the bottom line and Nikki Sixx constantly called out current Elektra boss, Sylvia Rhodes at the groups concerts, even calling her from the stage, so the crowd could tell her to fuck off.
So what’s a few million when bands make the labels multi-millions.
I expressed my disappointment at the SOLO movie, which basically put into images the words that Han Solo said in the original Star Wars movies.
Did we really need $300 million spent on that?
The problem these days is movies have a lot of action scenes and hardly any good dialogue scenes. Meanwhile TV shows are winning the story script war hands down.
And do movies need to cost $300 million plus to make. In my view the higher the cost of the movie, the less story it has. And people are attached to a story.
It’s sad reading stories about how far removed Copyright Law is from what it was intended to be.
Copyright battles are happening everywhere. Most of the news is on how the record labels and movie studios are calling on governments to pass stronger dictatorship style copyright laws which would give these organisations police like powers.
But Copyright was originally designed to help the creator of the art. However, it’s assisting the corporations to make billions of dollars while the creators make a lot less.
Remember the movie, “This Is Spinal Tap”. Well, the movie has made over $400 million in profits, however the co-creators have received $81 from merchandise sales and $98 from record sales. If you think those amounts are pretty low, well the co-creators thought so as well, and off they went to court, for fraudulent accounting and to get the copyright back in the hands of the creators. And lucky for them they got a judge that saw their side, so the case is going to get interesting. Unfortunately for UMG/Vivendi, the co-creators in this case, also found fame with “The Simpsons” and they have a voice in the market as powerful as the corporation.
8 Years Ago (2014)
I was in the middle of our holiday around Eastern Europe and you know what, piracy is king in these countries. CD and DVD shops exist with forgeries. Clothing shops exist with forgeries.
But in all of this piracy, thousands of people turn up to watch artists perform live. Every artist tours Eastern Europe and I am pretty sure that sales of recorded music now and in the past didn’t correlate to the thousands who attended the shows.
PROTEST THE HERO
I got back from Eastern Europe on a Thursday morning and by Friday night I was at the Manning Bar at the Sydney Uni watching Protest The Hero. The ticket for the night was $45 Australian plus booking fee of about $6. Compared to some of the prices I have paid for tickets, this was a good deal.
And that’s a wrap of about a months’ worth of posts from the past.