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80’s Forgotten Playlist

Spotify Playlist

A lot of good music came out in the 80’s that is more or less lost or forgotten or known as semi-obscure. Hell, there is no way the Spotify algorithm will be able to find it and pick it up.

Blame MTV. The show became popular because it had “hit video clips”. In order to get onto the show, bands needed a hit single. So even though bands went away and recorded a very solid album without any hit singles, the most commercial sounding song and sometimes with the most clichéd lyrics would end up as the single. And if the song resonated, people would highly likely go and check out the album or the back catalogue. This was good for sales and the record labels made a lot of money.

However, the MTV rules still apply today. We’ve come full circle. If you have a hit single today, you will rack up a billion streams on Spotify, which might get people interested into checking out the whole album or the back catalogue. But in most cases, people will be happy with the “hit” single and a lot of music is not heard. Remember a few years ago when Spotify did a check on their data and found over 20 million songs that haven’t even been heard. Think about the number. 20 million songs not even heard. That’s the competition for any new band. With so many bands/artists creating music, how do you rise above the 20 plus million songs that no one has even heard?

Does your latest release just add to the 20 million never heard pile or does it rise above?

And you need people to push it, talk about it and promote it.

Secret Loser
Killer Of Giants

Both tracks are from Ozzy Osbourne’s forgotten “Ultimate Sin” album released in 1986.

“Shot In the Dark” got the glory as the lead single and is probably the reason why the album is not available on CD anymore depending on who you believe. Overland brothers vs Osbourne, or Soussan vs Osbourne, or Overland vs Soussan.

At one stage in the late 90’s, this album was deleted and you couldn’t get any new copies. One of the Australian mags mentioned it’s because of Sharon Osbourne’s contract disputes with Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee. Maybe it was the authorship issue of “Shot In The Dark”.

Who remembers the movie “The Wraith”?

Charlie Sheen stars in it, as a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a car gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers by racing each gang member to death. Well, “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.

How good is the riff?

Trapped in a lonely body
I’m losing control
Can’t show my emotions
And I’m losing my soul
Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease
I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees

Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.

I can understand that what you see
You think is real
But underneath the surface is a wound
That cannot heal

It’s almost like being a fly on a wall in a shrink therapy session. Just imagine the big bad rock star with an image of decadence and debauchery breaking down within the confines of four walls and a chair.

“Killer Of Giants” is as good and as classic as “Diary of A Madman” in my view. Musically, it’s excellent. It’s got that acoustic introduction, social and political lyrics courtesy of Bob Daisley, a great chorus and excellent guitar playing from Jake E. Lee

If none of us believe in war
The can you tell me what the weapon’s for
Listen to me everyone
If the button is pushed
There’ll be nowhere left to run

Daisley, grew up with the threat of the button being pushed. For the generation of today, the threat of nuclear war is in the past, forgotten. Then again, my kids asked me recently, what would happen if we go to war with North Korea?

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Rising so proudly it has nowhere to fall
This killer of giants

At the moment our leaders are having a war of words with “rogue nations”. While sticks and stones hurt, a barrage of words can undo all truth. Especially words tainted with lies. Sometimes, people never recover. Say the right words, make a difference and doors can open. Say the wrong words and watch doors shut and a very darker difference will be seen.

Jake E. Lee got really shafted with his time in Ozzy. He has no song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, which he should. And for “The Ultimate Sin” he has the credits, however the Osbourne camp are doing their best to kill off the album and hide it.

Little Fighter
Cry For Freedom

What can I say about White Lion that I haven’t said before?

With Vito Bratta, the band had one of the best guitarists ever. He knew how to decorate a song and his leads are little masterpieces themselves. The other key ingredient to me was when Mike Tramp wrote lyrics about society, the injustices in society and how if we don’t do something right now to protect our world, there will not be a world to protect.

And maybe these serious themes proved to be the downfall of White Lion. I remember Vito Bratta saying in an interview when White Lion played Castle Donnington. They came on after Skid Row and before AC/DC and while the crowd got into the party lifestyle lyrics of Skid Row and Acca, they just didn’t resonate when White Lion sang about Greenpeace or apartheid in South Africa.

Rise again little fighter
And let the world know the reason why
Shine again little fighter
And don’t let ’em end the things you do

The lyrics are written in a way that it can be about many different situations. It could be an inspirational message to a person who is down on their luck. It could be the words in the head of a boxer after he/she have been knocked to the canvas or words to a child who didn’t make the elite team.

The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free

“Cry For Freedom” is very Dylan’esque in it’s lyrics. South Africa and it’s apartheid policies always made the news in Australia. And when people have nothing else left except to fight for freedom and equality, then there is a high chance they would do so. The truth is, we are never free. Speak to anyone in debt and ask them if they feel free. Our lives are at the mercy of the banking system. In South Africa, racism was used to imprison people.

Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed I face my fellow man

Even in our democratic countries people are jailed for no crimes and unfortunately racism will not go away.

Musically, Vito Bratta kills it. All of those people calling him an EVH clone got no idea. It’s like calling LeBron James the next Jordan. Both can shoot threes, slam dunks and do all of the wonderful things players do. But both are different. Same deal with EVH and Bratta. EVH was technical but more aggressive in his style. Hearing EVH play sometimes, I used to get an image of him punching his guitar. The sense of melody that Bratta exhibits is fluent and theoretical. He worked within the modes most of the time, like Rhoads did which made it very melodic.

Bang Go The Bells
Desperate

Babylon A.D is one of those bands that fall into the “should have made it” category. They even caught the attention of Arista Records president and industry music mogul Clive Davis, who signed them at a live showcase in Los Angeles. Hell, their lyrics suited the era to a tee and the musicianship was/is top-notch. The problem (and not really their fault) is too many bands sounded the same and the music consumers/the fans started to get burned on the scene. “Bang Go The Bells” and “Desperate” are from the debut album, released in 1989.

Here we sit in this smoky bar
Two souls drifting through the world alone
Here we talk about life and love

Loneliness is humanities greatest disease. If someone is there, we wouldn’t be lost in the dangers of our own thoughts.

When your dreams seem far away
Take a moment to look over your shoulder
‘Cause, honey, you know I’m desperate too
Everybody’s desperate just like you

It’s not a sign of weakness to say we don’t want to be alone.

“Bang Go the Bells” is written by vocalist Derek Davis, guitarist Ron Freschi and bassist Robb Reid. “Desperate” is written by Derek Davis and songwriter Jack Ponti. Yes, the same Jack Ponti who co-wrote “Shot Through The Heart” with Jon Bon Jovi and went on to co-write the majority of the “Hey Stoopid” album with Alice Cooper and Vic Pepe.

From a guitar point of view, Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi bring all of the hard rock flavourings to both songs.

Speak For Yourself
Blood Of Emeralds

From Gary Moore. The songs are from “After The War” released in 1989. “Speak For Yourself” is written by Neil Carter and Gary Moore.

How good is the riff?

It’s a speed rock song and it’s lyrics are still relevant today.

Look around across the nation
Another league of morons marching,
Banners in hand.
Looking for another scapegoat,
Try to take away the things they don’t understand.

The older I get, the more I realize, I’ve got no idea where it’s all going and neither do the people we vote in, who are all beholden to the corporation which pays the most.

Somewhere in the darkness,
There’s a voice that’s crying to be heard.
You feel it deep inside you,
A voice that just won’t be denied.

Speak for yourself.
Someone will hear you,
Someone will listen.
Speak for yourself.
Who knows, you might change your world.

So true and so relevant today. People have exercised their voices with votes, but our leaders are not the problem. It’s the rich corporations in the background that are the problem. Then again when you get leaders who came from rich corporations, mmm, what does that say about the state of the world?

But in all seriousness, people power stopped bad legislation in SOPA and PIPA. People power started to ramp up to stop the Trans Pacific Agreement legislation because it was negotiated in secret and with the corporations present and then Trumpy came into power and killed it dead. Only to replace it with something worse, which we don’t know about yet.

They try to take away your freedom.
They try to tell you what you can
Or what you can’t hear.
Don’t let this moral suffocation
Make you turn out just like them,
Is that what they fear?

The internet has given people a voice. In the process a new on-demand culture was created. People are connected socially over vast distances instantly. And we love it. But corporations who have business models based on control don’t like it and they go straight to their lobby groups to get laws written to benefit their business models. They use laws promoted to benefit the people to take away the freedoms of the people.

For example, in Australia, the large retailers lobby group didn’t like Australians purchasing products from overseas at a cheaper price, so they lobbied hard to get a tax added to overseas purchases. In the end, this tax just made the overseas companies set up a presence in Australia as a big FU.

Copyright is morphing into a censorship law. Videos and posts get taken down due to copyright complaints, however when it’s investigated why the video or the post got taken down, it’s found that the person complaining didn’t like what was being said so they used copyright as a censorship tool.

“Blood Of Emeralds” is written by Carter and Moore again and its more or less an autobiographical song about his time with Phil Lynott.

I was down and out on Skid Row,
But I held on to my pride.
The darkest son of Ireland,
He was standin’ by my side.
We would sail the stormy seas.
Never looking back,
We were afraid of what we’d see.
Through the thunder and the rain,
The deepest blood of emeralds
Was running through our veins.

He covers his time in “Skid Row” (not the U.S band), moving on to Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott, the darkest son of Ireland and how they would cross into the U.S.

I was angry, I was sad,
Just thinking about the times we had.
I felt so lost and lonely too,
What could I say, what could I do?
And after all, the time goes by.
No one knows the reasons why.
You lived each day like there was no tomorrow.
You spent those years living on time you borrowed.
And in your eyes, all I could see was sorrow.

Phil’s passing and how it affected him.

Gary Moore in the 90’s went all blues and in interviews after the success of “Still Got The Blues”, he was very hateful to his original (he spoke highly of his covers) 80’s hard rock output. Regardless, Gary Moore (along with John Sykes, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch and Vito Bratta) are big influences to me. My guitar style is basically an amalgamation of those 5 guitarists.

With Spotify these days, I have no idea who plays on the songs, like I did in the past. On this album, Gary Moore had Neil Carter on keyboards, Bob Daisley on bass, Cozy Powell on drums, but Cozy didn’t drum on the two songs mentioned above. That was Simon Phillips, who would do also do work with AC/DC during the “Blow Up Your Video” era and Dio during the “Lock Up The Wolves era plus a tonne of sessions for other artists. Don Airey is also on keys for three songs. Hell, what a supergroup.

I Walk Alone
Badboy Breakout

I must admit I am a sucker for polished hair metal as it became known. “Tear the House Down” was the debut and only release from Hericane Alice and released in 1990 I believe, so I cheated on putting this one in this list. Anyway the band is one of many that got a major label deal late in the 80’s and were largely ignored by the record buying public.

The band was formed in Minneapolis in 1984 and after relocating to LA in 88, they got a deal with Atlantic Records in 1989. After the debut, the band recorded some demos with producer Neal Kernon for album number 2, however the shift in music happened and Atlantic passed on the option.

Sometimes your dreams can come true
You’re in heaven, for so long
Nightmares could happen to you
Just remember, life is long

The above is from “I Walk Alone”.

The career trajectory of Hericane Alice was like a dream come true, getting signed and recording an album with major label backing. However, the heaven of a major label turned into a nightmare.

No one can make it alone. We all need someone to listen to us, someone to speak to when we are down and out. Life is scary. Just google all the studies after studies that talk about suicides. People are killing themselves because they’ve lost all hope.

Meanwhile “Badboy Breakout” while great musically has lyrics about a load that’s ready to explode. Still, I am a fan of hair metal. (what a stupid name for music that’s more or less rock).

Ready Or Not
Sign Of The Times

“Out Of This World” was the follow-up to “The Final Countdown” and Europe needed hits to keep the momentum going.

Released in 1988, “Superstitious” took all the glory right off the bat, while a re-recording of “Open Your heart” failed to inspire the record buying public, except me, who has a 7 inch single of it, along with “Superstitious”. Other singles, “Let The Good Times Rock” and “More Than Meets The Eye” also failed to connect and the album didn’t do as well commercially as the previous album.

But to me, “Ready Or Not” and “Sign Of The Times” are the stand out tracks. But you had to be a fan to hear them as they only appeared on the album.

Rock me till I hit that floor
Rock me till I take no more
Rock this hungry heart of mine
Rock me down right to the ground
Rock me like you never done before
Then rock me just a little more

It more or less sums up the rock and roll show.

“Sign Of The Times” also has a signature keyboard lick that should have been as popular as “The Final Countdown” riff.

It’s the way that we make things right
It’s the way that we hold on tight
I know, it’s the sign of the times
It’s the way that we make things turn
It’s the way that we live and learn
I know, it’s the sign of the times

The sign of the times to me is when all our hope’s run out we just need to love one another to get through the day. It’s the way we live and learn. I guess we need a lot more of it these days.

The World Of You and I

It’s from “In God We Trust” released in 1988. The title track, “Always There For You” and “I Believe In You” might have had the attention and the MTV dial a song codes, but this song is a little melodic rock gem hidden on Side 2. And Stryper didn’t need auto tune to sound so in tune. It was all natural and kudos to Michael Sweet for penning such a gem.

You’re out there all alone
Searching endlessly for a home

There’s nothing like been away from home to actually miss what you have.

We Are Strong

Hurricane had some big name pedigree in it’s ranks. The brothers of Rudy Sarzo (Robert Sarzo) and Carlos Cavazo (Tony Cavazo) took the guitar and bass positions in a role reversal to what their older brothers played. If Rudy played bass, Robert played guitar and if Carlos played guitar, Tony played bass.

“We Are Strong” has got that “You Give Love A Bad Name” vibe and it’s a great piece of melodic arena rock.

Facing hard times
Hold on
Time’s still on our side

It’s easy to walk away and destroy what’s been built. So many walk away for reasons that are important to them and some need to do it to escape a hostile situation.

We’ve got to stick it out

Some might be saying for what. Sometimes people are stronger when they go their own ways, reset and restart.

Cry In Shame

It’s from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors, an Australian guitarist/singer who has this bluesy soul rock vibe that just works. And the problem with Australian artists breaking big in the U.S is the deals they sign with Australian labels, who then make it hard for the U.S labels to get a bigger piece of the contract.

Pickin’ up the pieces
Up off the floor
How was I to know
There was gonna be a war
Words of sorrow
Words of spite
Ringin’ in my head
Right through the night

Who hasn’t been in this situation? For me, it was more in the earlier days. As I get older, certain things that used to bother me don’t even get a blip on my radar.

Up all night
With a conscience fight
Just can’t sleep
So I put on the light

It’s so true after an argument. You can’t sleep as you replay it in your head and you get angry at the missed opportunity to say your piece properly when it mattered.

Time To Surrender

Poor, Kip Winger. His face was on a dart board as Lars Ulrich threw darts at him while Beavis and Butthead created a whole show around him. But man, the dude could sing and along with Reb Beach, they became a pretty good songwriting team, crafting some brilliant AOR/Rock gems. But this song is more in the vein of the hair metal vibe and it works.

The lyrics deal with leaving and someone needing to surrender to keep the relationship going, which at the start it looks like Kip is asking the woman to surrender, but by the end of the song, it’s Kip who has surrendered.

Regardless of the lyrics, the melodies and the music work and it’s a good hidden Winger gem from a pretty excellent debut album.

Rock Me

From Great White’s 1987 album “Once Bitten”.

We’d be so good together if we had the time
‘Cause being alone is a nowhere state of mind

Relationships need time investment. If you are not committed to invest, it normally ends.

I search the world for someone I’ll never find
Someone who ain’t the hurting kind

People get hurt all the time. Physical injuries heal, but our thoughts and feelings also get injured. These hidden injuries never really heal. The anxiety and doubt our thoughts and feelings put forth, amplify if they are not checked.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

When the big chorus comes in, it works to a tee.

Great White in the 80’s and 90’s produced some good output even when the musical climate shifted to Seattle.

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

Run To Paradise

Choirboys are from Australia. This is from their 1987 album “Big Bad Noise”. The song is a classic in Australia, however in other parts of the world it’s unknown or it doesn’t exist. But it should. The song more or less sums up life for a lot of people. It has the partner you liked and how they sort of liked you, the friend who has an addiction problem, the parent who is losing control of their child as they get older and the other friend who drifts away as they get older.

And Paradise can be a city, a town or a place in time in the past that was just perfect, before the big bad world got in the way.

Baby, you were always gonna be the one
You only ever did it just for fun
But you run to paradise

The immortal opening lines of the song. The chord progression is similar to “Crazy Train” moving from the A to the E to the D.

Jenny, I’ll meet you at the grocery store
You don’t need a friend when you can score
You run to paradise

About the friend who isn’t a friend when they are high.

Jesus say’s it’s gonna be all right
He’s gonna pat my back so I can walk in the light
But it’s not alright sometimes.

The Morning After
Closer To My Heart
Looking For Love

“The Morning After” is from the 3x U.S platinum “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. “Closer To My Heart” is from the 2x U.S platinum “Invasion Of Your Privacy” album released in 1985 and “Looking For Love” is from the 1x U.S platinum “Dancing Undercover”.

Let’s start off with “The Morning After”.

How good is that intro riff?

The song is credited to Crosby, DeMartini and Pearcy so I have no idea who wrote the intro riff but as a betting man and after reading Pearcy’s biography, I’ll put money on Crosby as Pearcy described him as the Ratt and Roller Riff Meister.

Also that little harmony lead at the end of the solo is brilliant.

Lyrically, Pearcy talks about going home with someone, lifting skirts and then leaving the morning after, when it’s time.

“Closer To My Heart” is written by Crosby and Pearcy and while it may be classed as a ballad today, it was never viewed as a ballad back in the day.

I listen to you, are you listening to me
The way that you are, it’s easy to see
Feelings for you, now I feel free
I’m lost in time

Love is a two-way street. Both sides have a chance to speak and both sides are meant to listen. In the Ballad of Stephen Pearcy, his partner is not listening to him anymore and he’s fallen out of love.

Indecision, it’s all been heard
No more confusion, the page has turned

Moving on is the hardest thing to do in relationships. Friends pick sides and a sense of familiarity is replaced with the unfamiliar.

“Looking For Love” is written by Crosby, Pearcy and bassist Juan Croucier.

I’m lookin’ for you
You’re lookin’ for me
It’s nothing new
You’re only looking for love
I know it’s true
You know it’s me
I know it’s you
You’re only looking for love

It’s a pop chorus full of clichés and overused rhymes and as good as any pop chorus today. Croucier was also an underrated songwriter within the band, producing a lot of songs and due to whatever politics those songs wouldn’t get considered. So while the singles from the album took all the thunder, the above three tracks should not be seen as poor cousins.

Makin Magic
Flight To Nowhere

Tesla. A massive favourite of mine. Their hard rock vibe mixed with southern rock mixed with Randy Rhoads/Michael Schenker/Angus Young/Eric Clapton guitar playing was huge on my song writing. Hell, I even re-wrote “The Great Radio Controversy” in my own way, meaning I wrote songs similar to all of the songs on this album. And man didn’t this album have some big tunes in “Love Song”, “The Way It Is”, “Heavens Trail”, “Paradise” and “Hang Tough”. But these two songs “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have enough metal in em, to break some teeth and they need more love.

Musically, “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have no filler and are chock full of riffs and great leads and great harmonies. Especially the arpeggiated pull off lick in the “Making Magic” chorus.

Now, I don’t wanna waste your time
I only want to satisfy
So wind me up and watch me go
I’m gettin’ crazy as the night unfolds

Men don’t need much winding up to get going.

I got you, now you got me
Feels so good to be
Makin’ magic, makin’ magic
It ain’t no mystery, come on

Bring on the clichés with heaps of melody. Love it. Moving on to “Flight To Nowhere” .

Look at me, I’m young and bold
Even though I may be growin’ old
I’m never slowin’ down

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it, as you are a long time gone.

Opinion is a piece of mind
Some are good, some are just like
Where the sun don’t shine

So true. Unfortunately, people allow opinions to get the better of them. Treat opinions as just that, opinions, not truth.

Now there’s one more thing I would like to say
This is everybody’s world
And everybody’s gonna live it their own way
No matter what we say, yeah

Be tolerant of all, it’s much better. The sad part is money rules the day and as long as people care more about money, hate will thrive and indifference will not be tolerated.

Troubled minds are full of hate
Willin’ to destroy the human race

The world has vehicles being driven into crowds and bombs going off in crowded market places. What’s next, back to public executions?

(Goin’ down) On a flight to nowhere

Are we too far gone to save ourselves? I don’t believe so.

Midnight/Tornado

From Skid Row’s debut album. After a lot of false starts trying to find the right lead singer that was MTV friendly, Skid Row finally got it going with Sebastian Bach and the recording contract was enacted. But to be honest, I prefer the Brain Fallon demo version found on YouTube. The rawness in Fallon’s voice gave the song what it needed.

Musically and melodically the song is brilliant. Lyrically it talks about a person prowling the streets and coming alive after midnight. Can’t say I am a fan of the words and I would love to hear this song with better lyrics.

Hard As Iron

From the much maligned “Ram It Down” album released in 1988.

I’m blazing on to glory
There’s thunder in my veins
And nothing stands before me
Forever I’ll remain
Hard as iron
Sharp as steel
Stop for no man
You better beg and kneel

Is Halford singing about the metal movement or some mysterious being that’s hard as iron and sharp as steel?

Who cares right?

The song is a five-star speed metal ditty that has all the things in it, people in the 90’s came to hate.

Set The World Afire

From Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988.

Red flesh cloud’s choking out the morning sky
They said it’d never come, we knew it was a lie

Once upon a time nuclear war was the threat in people’s minds. That 80’s TV movie about a nuclear bomb being dropped on a normal U.S town didn’t help either. Today, global warming is a threat. People either don’t care about it or they do, but they shouldn’t ignore it.

Distorted figures walk the street, it’s 1989
Weeds once underneath your feet have grown to vines

It makes me think of the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”.

Dig deep piles of rubble and ruins
Towering overhead both far and wide
Einstein said ‘ We’ll use rocks on the other side ‘
No survivors set the world afire

For all of the drugs and alcohol Mustaine consumed, you would think he would be a vegetable. But he isn’t and his lyrics are evidence of a person who has read far and wide and digested information.

The Transformers Theme

From the 1986 “Transformers” cartoon movie. The movie started off with all of the Autobots fans knew getting killed off in the first 15 minutes. And it’s got a wicked soundtrack, along with Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, this remake of the cartoon theme into a hair metal track also works.

Lion was formed when two UK artists, vocalist Kal Swann and guitarist Tony Smith located to the U.S and teamed up with bassist Alex Campbell and drummer Mark Edwards from Steeler. After the demo was recorded, Doug Aldrich (yes the same Doug Aldrich that went on to join Dio, Whitesnake and now plays with Revolution Saints) was recruited to replace Smith on guitar and basses Jerry Best replaced Campbell.

Now check out the connections between Lion and some of the bands above.

Aldrich would replace Robert Sarzo in Hurricane for one album, “Slave To The Thrill”. Swan and Aldrich would get together with former Hericane Alice members Jackie Ramos and Ian Mayo to form Bad Moon Rising. Jerry Best would later re-appear in Freak of Nature, featuring former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp.

Lioooooon, more than meets the eye…

Hearts On Fire – John Cafferty
No Easy Way Out – Robert Tepper
The Sweetest Victory – Touch

The above three tracks are from the unbelievable and super melodic rock “Rocky IV” soundtrack. Stallone sure knew how to pick a song for his movies. From memory, I believe the movie and soundtrack came out in 1985. I still have the cassette to it and in the 90’s I found the LP in a second-hand record shop. Hell, the Rocky IV soundtrack kick started the melodic rock revolution, especially in Europe.

John Cafferty is the cheaper version of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. If a movie needed a song that sounded like a Springsteen or Adams song, Cafferty was your man. I first came across his music with the “Eddie and The Cruisers” movie and what a soundtrack he wrote for it. “On The Dark Side”, “Season In Hell” and “Tender Years” are as good as all of the hits from the 80’s.

“Hearts On Fire” is not written by Cafferty. In this case he’s just the performer. Actual songwriters are Vince DiCola, Ed Fruge and Joe Esposito. Vince DiCola is the person responsible for the excellent training montage and the end fight music between Rocky and Drago.

Silent darkness creeps into your soul
And removes the light of self-control
The cave that holds you captive has no doors
Burnin’ with determination to even up the score

Doubt leads us to the cave with no doors and even though the cave has no doors, we still cannot escape the darkness of it. Because of doubt and how we let our thoughts control our actions.

How many of our heroes took their own lives?

How many of our friends have taken their own lives?

How many people turn to narcotics to deals with situations?

Dealing with doubt, fear, loneliness, anger and shame is part of life. Those same emotions drive us and they separate us.

And things that give deep passions are your sword
Rules and regulations have no meaning anymore
Let the disappointment lead to inspiration.

Another find from Stallone was Robert Tepper who ended up contributing “No Easy Way Out” to “Rocky IV” and “Angel Of The City” to the “Cobra” movie.

There’s no easy way out there’s no shortcut home
There’s no easy way out givin’ in can’t be wrong

I know the song is about a relationship, however the way Stallone used it in Rocky IV is brilliant. This is the part as he is driving his car. Apollo was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago and Rocky just agreed to fight him in Russia. He gets home and Adrianne confronts him, not happy about that he decided to fight Ivan Drago. So he jumps in his car to clear his head, the music comes on and all these flashbacks start coming back.

And the message the song conveys is that to avenge Apollo’s death, there is no easy way out. Rocky must fight and beat Ivan Drago, which at the point in time in the film looked super impossible.

“The Sweetest Victory” from Touch is another melodic rock gem. I have no other music from this band, except for this one song on the soundtrack. The song has an iconic keyboard riff and a vocal melody that hits the mark.

What Does It Take

By Honeymoon Suite and their “Big Prize” album released in 1986.

If I could grow wings I would do anything
Just to keep you with me
Can’t you see
If I could fly high I would give you the sky
Don’t you make that mistake
It’s your love that I need
What does it take

What a Chorus. Big. Anthemic. Melodic. Tick x 3.

And I just realised that each song I have selected above has some very good guitar playing. Guess I’m a biased listener.

Enjoy.

More parts will follow.

I’m having a shitload of fun living in the 80’s.

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Thrash Musics Three M’s. Metal, Metallica, Mustaine!!

According to “The Guardian”, Metallica is seen as a band that revolutionized the metal genre. According to “The Rolling Stone”, Metallica are kings at everything they do.

Metallica for me was an extreme act when I got into them by the mid Eighties. Extreme in the sense that their style was so departed from the “metal” music I knew, which at that time consisted off bands like Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot. When i first heard the opening riff of “Fight Fire with Fire” I felt like me head got chopped off with a chainsaw. It was brutal. By the time “Ride The Lightning” started with its harmony guitars I was ready to snap my desk in half.

So based on the bands I was listening too, Metallica was pretty extreme. Megadeth even more so. Slayer even more and more so. After that, my tastes became elective and depending on my moods, certain styles would win over the other. In the end, as long as it had distorted guitars, I was into it.

Anyway, there was a story doing the rounds a few weeks ago about how Scott Ian believes that Dave Mustaine is the godfather of thrash music or something along those lines.

And to be honest, I don’t agree with anything Mr Ian says about the internet and piracy, but for this, he is not far off the mark.

All you need to do is hear the songs written on the debut “Kill Em All” album and you will hear that the Dave Mustaine led compositions (“Mechanix/The Four Horseman”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Phantom Lord” and “Metal Militia”) had a certain technical and progressive edge to them.  Especially “Metal Militia” which for a young band full of energy, booze and in Mustaine’s case “drugs” it was a surprise to hear a young act attempt a song with time and tempo changes.

And “Metal Militia” is the style that Metallica went with, up until the Justice album. Technical, progressive thrash metal.

Actually going back even further, you need to look at the songs Hetfield and Ulrich had written prior to Mustaine joining Metallica. “Hit The Lights” was not really thrash metal and more a take on the NWOBHM and a chugging riff that was ripped off from “Detroit Rock City”.

But what about Jeff Hanneman (RIP). To me, the songs he wrote for Slayer are songs that pushed the boundaries of the genre. Thrash metal also had socially relevant lyrics over a bed of chainsaw of guitars and fast drumming. The disenfranchised youth of the blue-collar workers understood this message and suburbia was awash with rebellion and revolutionary ideals.

So even though Metallica (the band) are seen as the leaders of the movement, I think it’s a safe bet to say that Mustaine played a pivotal role in shaping the Metallica style. In turn, they took a lot of the noise happening around them and turned it into a career.

But the term thrash proved to be a barrier to commercial success and by the mid 90’s, the Eighties fans of the thrash bands screamed sell outs as they believed their heroes had abandoned the movement. But as Dylan sings in his songs, you need to keep on rolling, keep on changing and keep on exploring.

We all know what the “Black” album did, however Testament followed suit with “The Ritual”, Megadeth with “Countdown To Extinction”, Anthrax were already experimenting with their sound, moving to a more traditional sound with “Persistence Of Time” and a more modern groove sound with “Sound Of White Noise”. Meanwhile, Slayer delivered a typical Slayer album with “Divine Intervention”. Thrash had re-invented itself as a commercial force.

To say that one band revolutionized a genre is like saying one man invented all of Apple’s products, which we all know is not true. All cultural movements are products of many events coming together but in metal and thrash metal circles, it’s one band that is getting all of the accolades because of their commercial success. And history is written by the winners.

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Second Comings

Music history is littered with artists having second or even third careers after their original claim to fame band splintered.

In some cases, artists re-invent themselves and the music they write. In other cases, artists just continue to write what they normally write, in the same genre and experience a second coming.

Like David Grohl and his little pet project called “The Foo Fighters” which today is one of the biggest rock bands around. Like, Ozzy Osbourne who went from Black Sabbath to a solo career and surrounded himself with excellent songwriters in Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde and the mighty Lemmy Kilmister. Like Rob Trujilo who went from Suicidal Tendancies to Ozzy Osbourne to Metallica. Like Nikki Sixx who did Motley Crue and Sixx A.M at the same time and now is exclusively focusing on Sixx AM.

Dave Mustaine from Metallica to Megadeth
Mustaine is one of the many unsung heroes who pushed thrash metal guitar playing to new levels. His influence on Metallica cannot be underestimated. The songs “Call Of Ktulu”, “Ride The Lightning”, “Phantom Lord” and “Metal Militia” all brought in a certain technicality to the thrash world that was different from just playing metal at break neck speeds. The foundations that these songs set up would reach its zenith with the “…And Justice For All” album for Metallica and with Megadeth, he would reach that lofty height with the classic “Rust In Peace”. The first true Metallica album for me without any strands of influence from Mustaine is their biggest one to date, “1991’s self-titled “Black” album.

If Metallica are recognised as Hall of Famers, then Dave Mustaine is a must to be included on his own merits and technical song writing contribution to the world of thrash metal.

Marc Tremonti from Creed to Alter Bridge to Tremonti
Tremonti is a guitar hero, as good as any of the Eighties shredders. He had multi-platinum success with Creed, an act that was devoid of guitar solos and lumped in with the Nu-Metal, Alternative Rock scene. It brought out the haters, jealous that a person who could shred, didn’t shred. In the end, people live and breathe on the songs they write, not on the guitar solos they write and Tremonti has built a consistent legacy. The pinnacle of his career in my eyes would be when his second act, Alter Bridge played the Wembley Arena.

Here is a band that doesn’t have any platinum awards. In the past only platinum acts would be booked to play the Wembley Arena. It goes to show if people have access to your music, they will pay eventually. Spotify and streaming in general is very popular in the UK, so is it any surprise that Alter Bridge sold out the Wembley Arena.

Amir Derakh from Rough Cutt to Orgy to various soundtracks to guitar designer and Producer
This re-invention or second coming is one of the more special ones. In the majority of cases, artists go from one band to another and play the same style of music within the same era. In this case, Amir went from a hard rock band into an alternative industrial metal band.

“Rough Cutt” was a hard rock pet project by Wendy Dio. Even Ronnie appeared as a co-writer on a few songs. They had Tom Allom and Jack Douglas produce album number 1 and number 2 respectively, but they never caught on. Shortino would leave to join Quiet Riot and that would be the end of the band.

Many years later the industrial rock band Orgy would break through.

Apart from Orgy and Rough Cutt, he was involved in releases by Coal Chamber, Spineshank, Danzig, Julien-K and Dead By Sunrise. From a soundtrack point of view, Amir has been involved with Strangeland, Bridge Of Chucky, Scream 3, Zoolander, Freaky Friday, Sonic Heroes, Transformers, Underworld and many others. Like Marc Ferrari, he never was on the cover of magazines, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t successful in what he did. He’s had a longer career in the music business than a lot of the platinum stars of the Eighties.

Jack Blades from Rubicon to Night Ranger to Damn Yankees to Shaw/Blades to a solo career, back to Night Ranger and Revolution Saints
Tommy Shaw from Styx to a solo career to Damn Yankees to Shaw/Blades to a solo career and back to Styx
Ted Nugent from The Amboy Dukes to a solo career to Damn Yankees and back to a solo career

Damn Yankees were huge. As a super group, they really lived up to the hype and the name. It was no frills classic rock, with a modern pop twist. It was removed from the hair and glam metal at the time. It was a project that was able to stand on its own two feet and build on the foundations of the three creative forces in the group.

There is no escaping Jack Blades commitment to having a career in the music business. He tasted limited success with Rubicon in the 70’s, hit MTV stardom with Night Ranger in the early 80’s and by the late 80’s and early 90’s, he furthered his career with Damn Yankees. Add to that, the song writing partnership he struck up with Tommy Shaw. Their songs would grace albums from Aerosmith, Vince Neil, Ozzy Osbourne and Cher.

The mighty Nuge is a constant on the live circuit. That is how he made his money in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties and that is how he is still making his money. You don’t see the Nuge worry about piracy. As far as he is concerned, the more people who hear his music equals a bigger pool of people who could come to his shows.

Joe Leste from Bang Tango to Beautiful Creatures
DJ Ashba from Bullet Boys to Beautiful Creatures to Sixx A.M. and Guns N Roses live guitarist

Joe Leste had minor success with “Someone Like You” from Bang Tango’s debut album “Psycho Café”. “Dancin’ On Coals” was a much better album, but it just didn’t sell. By 1995, the band split up. By 1999, Joe Leste formed Beautiful Creatures with DJ Ashba and had the same level of success as he did with Bang Tango. From 2003, Bang Tango is still going with a revolving door of musicians. There is actually a Bang Tango movie coming out or it’s already out.

Beautiful Creatures claim to fame is the licensing of their songs to various movies and television shows, like Smallville and Sons Of Anarchy. They had a major label deal with Warner Bros. Then the merger happened between Time Warner and AOL and Beautiful Creatures suddenly had no record deal.

DJ Ashba on the other hand has gone on to bigger and better things. He was a solo artist to begin with, then he joined Bullet Boys in the late nineties, when no one even cared if the band existed. Then he was in Beautiful Creatures for two years, went solo and hooked up with Nikki Sixx. Along with James Michael, they have become a force to be reckoned with in the song writing world. They have written songs for Marion Raven, Drowning Pool, the whole “Saints Of Los Angeles” album, James Durbin, The Last Vegas plus their own project Sixx A.M. Add to the list a lucrative spot in Guns N Roses as one of their live guitarists and you can see why life is good for DJ Ashba.

There are many more who have changed and moved on to greater things or long careers. Some others that come to mind quickly are;

John Sykes went from Tygers Of Pan Tang to Thin Lizzy to Whitesnake to Blue Murder to Sykes to a Thin Lizzy tribute band and back to a solo career.

Ronnie James Dio went from Elf to Rainbow to Black Sabbath to a solo career and back to Black Sabbath, which would morph into Heaven And Hell.

Vivian Campbell went from Savage to Dio to Whitesnake to Def Leppard.

Gary Moore went from Thin Lizzy to a solo career.

Slash went from Guns N Roses to Slash’s Snakepit to Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators and now back to Guns N Roses.

George Lynch went from Dokken to Lynch Mob to George Lynch to Lynch/Pilson to Sweet and Lynch to Shadowtrain to Souls Of We and always stepping back into the Lynch Mob scene.

There are many more.

This could come as a shock to all of the kids forming bands and recording songs in their own studios. There is a pretty good chance that the people you are making music with right now, will not be the same people you will make music with, years later. That’s just how it the music business rolls.

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Dystopia

Dave Mustaine is a legendary songwriter. His fame is not as big as Metallica’s but artistically, he has pushed so many boundaries with each release. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes his words get him in trouble. But one thing is clear when it comes to Mustaine. He is real and he speaks his mind. Which is against what everyone tries to be today. Everyone wants to be liked, so they hold their tongue.

Which brings me to “Dystopia”.

In thrash metal circles, it’s up there. Each song is chaotic and expertly crafted, which means after 4 to 5 minutes, when the song ends, your ears are bleeding and you are left trying to remember how the song began.

Welcome back Mr Mustaine and one of the best decisions you’ve ever made is getting Chris Adler to beat the skins and Kiko Loureiro to decorate the songs with his tasteful leads and a few co-writes. Adler by far is the best drummer to appear on a Megadeth album and from hearing the work that Loureiro did on the album, he is up there as well as one of the best guitarist. He is more complete and well-rounded than all who came before him.

It would have been easy and maybe profitable to get the “Rust In Peace” line up back together. Hell, all of the press about it, sealed the fate for Broderick and Drover.

But Mustaine had the balls to bring in new talents who grew up on Megadeth and respect the band’s history and place in metal history.

It’s a triple knockout, right off the bat. “The Threat Is Real” is classic old school thrash metal, while “Dystopia” is classic melodic metal and “Fatal Illusion” is classic technical thrash metal.

THE THREAT IS REAL
As soon as the riff kicks in after the middle-eastern style voices, you know you’re in for a classic Megadeth song. Chris Adler drives the song forward, with his galloping beats.

Justified obliteration
No one cares anymore
The messiah or mass murderer
No controlling who comes through the door

It’s typical Mustaine. Angry and snarly.

The clock runs out, the weakest link
A deadly strike, the threat is real

Brilliant lyrics over a chaotic bed of war like riffing.

DYSTOPIA
That intro riff and the controlled double kick under it, is enough to get the blood pumping. Add to that the lead breaks, and what you have is the foundations for another classic Megadeth song. Words cannot describe the power of that intro and the way it fills my head space.

The combination of the vocal melody over the “Hanger 18” inspired verse over the double kick gallops from Adler is fist pumping stuff. Do you reckon Mustaine would sue himself for copying himself?

“What you don’t know” the legend goes “can’t hurt you”
If you only want to live and die in fear
They tell us to believe just half of what we see
And absolutely nothing that we hear

This resonates.

Dystopia
And then a lead break.

Dystopia
And then another lead break. It’s an inventive way to do a chorus. Each time it appears, the lead breaks from Kiko are different, which makes each Chorus new.

And then that outro. As with the intro, words cannot describe how that outro makes me feel. The riffs are spectacular, but the moment belongs to Chris Adler. It’s the way he aggressively builds it to a climax with his drum patterns. It’s a note to all drummers to sit up and take notice. As soon as the song is over, I press repeat.

FATAL ILLUSION
This is classic progressive/technical Megadeth. The proggy intro, the double bass drumming, shredding between the verses (which is what Chris Poland did on the first two albums) and the lack of a song structure. It feels like each section is verse after verse. A drug trip

Guilty of the crime of nonconformity

Then when the Motorhead sounding flat line bit kicks in, the groove makes me want to snap the table in half.

DEATH FROM WITHIN
It’s got that “Kingmaker” vibe, which is the same vibe and feel as Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”, which I dig. Actually the whole album has that triplet 12/8 feel. Maybe it’s due to Adler bringing a certain galloping swing to it all.

Its judgment time… when death comes from within

That lead break in the song is wicked. Kiko brings out a lot of Petrucci inspired lead breaks. No Megadeth guitarist has done that before. Chris Poland brought a jazz fusion element, Friedman brought a neo classical edge at the beginning, while Pitrelli brought his classic rock influences, Drover and Broderick brought a technical scholarly element to Megadeth and now Kiko brings all of his influences to the fore, and one of them being Petrucci.

BULLET TO THE BRAIN
It’s got this Draiman Disturbed like feel in the Chorus. I love it.

The start of the lead break again feels like it’s written by Petrucci.

POST AMERICAN WORLD
It’s got this “Symphony Of Destruction” feel in the first verse. It’s the first song on the album to feature a co-write with Loureiro.

We see each other through different eyes
Segregating ourselves by class and size
It’s me against you in everything that they do
This planet’s become one big spinning disaster

If you don’t like where we’re going
Then you won’t like what’s coming next
What will we look like?
In a post American world

And that Chromatic riff after the Chorus is typical Mustaine. It started with “Phantom Lord” from his Metallica days, continued with “This Was My Life” from Countdown and now that riff is all over this album. Each time it sounds different because of what Adler does under it with the drums. His patterns and phrasing are unique and it makes a normal derivative riff sound original and awesome.

POISONOUS SHADOWS
That classical like intro and the lead break that comes after is brilliant. It’s a Mustaine and Loureiro composition.

Is it my face you see, do I haunt you in your sleep
On your hands and knees, when you crawl through your nightmares
When there’s no more grace, does your heartbeat start to race?
Clawing everywhere in the dark, poisonous shadows

It’s a great mid tempo song, more in the vein of the “The World Needs A Hero”.

CONQUER OR DIE
It’s an instrumental written by Mustaine and Loureiro. For under 3 minutes its a cool little intermission in the album sequencing.

LYING IN STATE
This is the song that is my favourite on the album purely for a certain section in the song.

Another day, another manufactured crisis keeping the people distracted

The “new normal” or just more of the same?

The section from 2.21 to 2.54 is infectious. What a groove. It makes me want to break stuff. And then when Kiko chimes in with a Maiden like lead break from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” at 2.32 to 2.54, I’m ready to elevate.

Get ready to have your mind blown.

THE EMPEROR
Because you make me sick, you prick
Don’t you know… don’t you know who I am?
You know I like your face, to kick
If your lips are moving, I know you must be lying

Fucking brilliant lyrics by Mustaine.

The album is near perfect and monstrous. And yes, it’s a comeback album from Megadeth and Dave Mustaine. He’s recaptured the magic of metal and thrash in general. It’s an artistic triumph.

Will enough people care?

Time will tell.

I sure do.

It has been on constant rotation on Spotify for me, plus I purchased the CD from Amazon. And when will people just stop complaining about Spotify payments. We went from vinyl to CD’s to Napster to iTunes to and to streaming. And the enemy is copyright infringement, otherwise reframed as piracy or theft. Get more people to pay for Spotify and listen on it and watch the payments grow. Then you’ll need to negotiate a better rate with your label.

“Dystopia” is a love letter to a metal past that everybody over forty remembers and now everyone under 40 will also remember that same past.

History will show Metallica as legends of rock/metal and Megadeth/Dave Mustaine as a mere footnote.

However, history is judged and re-written by what is popular and there is no album more popular in the Soundscan era than Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album, which is an excellent album. Meanwhile, Megadeth never had sales as high as Metallica.

But. Megadeth and Mustaine were always first.

First to make a video clip. First to do a thrash titans tour.

Does anyone remember the “Clash Of The Titans” tour?

I can tell you, not a lot of people do, however everyone remembers “The Big 4” tour. Funny how an innovative tour featuring thrash bands and headlined by Megadeth and Slayer in the Nineties is largerly forgotten, but a similar tour, almost 20 years later, organised and headlined by Metallica is legendary, innovative and original.

Welcome back Megadeth.

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Branding

“Initially when we put the band together in ’89, like all bands, I guess, our intentions were to put it together to keep it together. Man, we’ve had such a revolving door… I think this is really the final version of the band that has the same elements that it initially was conceived to have in 1989; it just works, the chemistry works. I haven’t had that in a long, long, long time.”
George Lynch on a revolving door of members

“If people are still in the band it either means they wanted to stay or I wanted them around. If they’re not, it means they didn’t want to stay or I didn’t want them around. It doesn’t mean they’re not good players or that they’re not nice people. Sometimes things run their course — sometimes things are meant to be, and sometimes they’re not.”
Dave Mustaine on departing members

As much as we want our bands to tough it out and stay together, the reality is very different. On some occasions, a record deal and immediate success would make some tough it out, but it would also make people argue over money splits and what not.

So was Dokken really a band?

It’s been a debate I have been having with people for a while now.

Think about it for a second.

The “band” was made up of veterans from different scenes. When Dokken started to get mindshare in 1983 and 84, and mainstream success by 1985, the band members had been trying to “make it” for over a decade in separate bands. In the end, it took Don Dokken (who was tapped to replace Klaus Meine in the Scorpions once upon a time) to get a European recording contract by using songs that George Lynch and Mick Brown had written in Xciter. So the marriage of convenience was already seethed in resentment, which would lead to their break up in 1989 at the peak of their commercial powers.

“Of course, everything we (Lynch Mob) release is always compared to the benchmark “Wicked Sensation” – and that’s a pretty high mark. That record took probably at least a year or more to make, and about a half a million dollars or more.”
George Lynch

George Lynch via Lynch Mob went first with “Wicked Sensation”. Meanwhile, Don Dokken was holed up in a studio with a supergroup of musicians recording “Up From The Ashes”. But he had the backing of Geffen Records and the large advance.

But Lynch was marketable. He was in Guitar Magazines and normal music magazines. Oni and Mick were also in the mags.

Meanwhile, Don Dokken had a supergroup of musicians, however, the magazines didn’t want to interview them. John Norum is a fantastic guitarist, but in the U.S he was virtually an unknown. Most of the public at that time believed Kee Marcello played on “The Final Countdown”, much in the same way, the majority of the new Whitesnake fans had no idea who John Sykes was.

Don Dokken is a great singer, but he wasn’t a marketable singer in 1990. At the time, the magazines glorified, Sebastian Bach, Jani Lane and so forth. He couldn’t use the Dokken name for the new band, because Lynch and Co.. wouldn’t let him and even took him to court.

In the end, a combination of riffs and melodies would sell the “Wicked Sensation” album. The guitar magazines dissected the songs, devoting pages to the makeup of the riffs and the leads. These articles alone sold the album to the legion of guitarists. None of that PR happened with Don Dokken and his supergroup.

That’s not to say that the Don Dokken album is terrible. It is good, but it was no different to the thousands of other melodic rock releases that came out in 1990. In the end, the brand of the “band” Dokken, wasn’t tied to Don Dokken. It was more tied to George Lynch than anyone else. He was the one selling the brand Dokken because everyone wanted to interview him.

When it comes to Megadeth, did anyone know that ex-members of Megadeth formed a band called “Act Of Defiance” and released an album. As a fan of Megadeth, and based on the two songs I have heard so far, I am officially back on the band wagon. Chris Adler on drums is a machine. The songs are proggy which is so early Megadeth and exactly what a Megadeth song should be.

Did it matter that Mustaine had an ever revolving door of musicians?

Of course it doesn’t matter, because the brand of Megadeth is Mustaine.

And if you are an artist, the brand is where it’s at.

“So much of branding is repetition: Repeat, repeat, repeat. I understood why they (other Twisted Sister band mates) wanted to change it up, but they didn’t understand why I didn’t. My face became the face. I carry the legend of Twisted Sister. Nobody knows who the other guys are.”
Dee Snider

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Copyright Pension/Annuity

When I started to write my own songs back in the late Eighties, copyright was not even in my mindset. You see, when you start to do something creative you do it because there is a sense of fulfillment and a desire to create.

From my own experiences, I never sat down with my guitar and said to myself, “Gee, lucky for me, there is a copyright law in place that lasts my whole lifetime, plus another seventy years after I die, to give me an incentive to create”.

Those kinds of thoughts never enter the mindset.

Which brings me to today and how the very nature of what Copyright is has been hijacked by large corporations and greedy next of kins.

The whole “Blurred Lines” case is a joke. For the record, it is a crap song that made a lot of cash. So what we have is a jury deciding if a song sounds similar to another song and for them to decide that it does sound similar, it more or less indirectly infers that Marvin Gaye was so original that his song “Got To Give It Up” came out of some celestial vacuumed place that only Marvin Gaye had access to. However, everyone knows that is not the case. All artists are the sum of their influences.

And what a said state of affairs for Copyright. You have the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who haven’t contributed anything to the arts and are living off the proceeds of a stupid law that extends Copyright 70 plus years after death. There are millions upon millions of songs out there that sound similar, however once a song makes some serious cash, the knives come out.

What I took out of the court case and what bodes well for music in general is the amount of money the track made.

$5.6 million in profits went to Robin Thicke while $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, $700,000 to the other writer T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits went to the  record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. Since Napster, we have been hearing the same rhetoric from the recording industry and out of touch artists.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are renowned for their viewpoints on rock being dead and piracy killing off any chance a new artist has of making some money. Scott Ian wanted to disconnect people from the Internet. Nuclear Blast want to shakedown people who downloaded the music from “All Shall Perish”.

Meanwhile the record labels kept the propaganda machine going that they just can’t make any money because of piracy. So here is just one song that has made close to $17 million dollars in profits. One song, remember that.

So it goes back to the same old saying, create something that people gravitate too and watch it make you money. There is a shitload of money out there if artists can create a great song that people gravitate to.

Actually speaking of plagiarism, listen to the “Funky Town” vocal melody and then listen to the verse vocal melody in Kiss’s “Lick It Up”. They are identical. Hell, the whole “Sonic Highways” album from Foo Fighters is a case of influences. Same goes for the whole “Hail To The King” album from Avenged Sevenfold. Let’s add  “Kill Em All” from Metallica which was more or less a rip off the NWOBHM movement. Subsequent Metallica songs afterwards would further borrow from other cult/unknown artists.

Recently Five Finger Death Punch lifted “The Ultimate Sin” verse vocal melody and used it for the “Lift Me Up” verse. Dave Mustaine did the same both musically and vocally by lifting “Children Of The Grave” and using it for “Kingmaker.”

Thank god that Dave Grohl, A7X, Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine or Metallica didn’t decide to let a Marvin Gaye song influence them, otherwise they would be in the courts as the well.

I think it is pretty safe to say a lot of songs sound the same regardless of genre. I see it more as a tribute than a rip off and to be honest in no way does the new composition take away from the original. For example, there is no way that “Something From Nothing” from the Foo Fighters takes away from Dio’s “Holy Diver”.

But when you have a whole copyright industry that makes money of the works created by others, you get a lot of bullshit happening, especially when a song makes a lot of money.

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Thrash Metal

I am a great believer that certain musical styles rise to prominence on the backs of social change or a social movement. There is a quote from Deena Weinstein who is a Professor at DePaul University in the Metal Evolution Thrash Episode that goes something like this;

“When Thrash started in the early eighties Thatcher and Reagan were in charge and we had a highly conservative very restrictive kind of society and if you’re a teenager especially a teenage male, yuck, you don’t want to live in a place where they are in charge. This made males feel like they had to fight against the system just to stay in place and that kind of aggression leads to a sense of wanting to be louder and faster.”

By 1988, Thrash Metal in Australia was becoming huge. There was a substantial underground movement of thrash bands or bands that dabbled in rock, thrash and traditional heavy metal and there was an audience for it. Suburban garages became jam rooms for a million wannabe thrash bands.

And then came Metallica to our shorelines for the “Justice” tour.

All of those suburban teens who had seen their parents deal with the Black Monday Wall Street crash purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens from immigrant families that had seen their parents get dicked around and racially abused purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get shafted from various long-term state governments that dealt in corruption purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get fired from companies that dealt in corruption and bribery of politicians purchased tickets

 

All of those suburban teens who didn’t fit in to the new divide between the haves and the have-nots purchased tickets.

All of those suburban teens who had finished high school or dropped out and couldn’t hold down any jobs or get work, scrapped up enough cash to purchase tickets.

We even made the news. In our excitement to get into the venue, we broke down gates and fences. When the police came we resisted. So many misfits, that just wanted to fit in.

We all stood together with people wearing Venom, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, first two albums Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Slayer tops. This was our moment and the “…And Justice For All” album with its lyrical themes of corruption and truth being sold to the highest bidder was the same shit that we faced or our parents had faced. We all related to the “injustice” themes throughout the album.

I have always debated with people who was the biggest band in the genre. I always saw it from an influential musical point of view and others saw it from a sales point of view. Metallica and Megadeth to me are the two bands that had their feet in so many genres. With each album they kept on crossing over into new markets. That is why to me, the Black album wasn’t outside of the norm for what the Metallica sound is.

In the doco, Sam Dunn (the interviewer) felt betrayed when Metallica came out with the “Black” album. He wasn’t alone in that view-point. A lot of my peers also felt betrayed at the album however I couldn’t understand their viewpoint.

Metallica always had more accessible shorter songs on every single album leading up to the “Black” album.

What about, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape” and “Trapped Under Ice” from the “Ride The Lightning” album.

What about, “Leper Messiah” (how good is that bass riff (RIP: CLIFF BURTON) over the E5 power chords from 0.33 to 0.55) and “The Thing That Should Not Be” from the “Master Of Puppets” album while the “…And Justice For All” album had the big one, “Harvester Of Sorrow.”

All of those songs are more or less at the same tempo that the “Black” album songs are at.

I for one am glad that Metallica had the balls to make the “Black” album instead of “And Justice For All Part Two”, which if you look closely at it, the Justice album was more or less, “Ride The Lightning Part III”.

Megadeth on the other hand, in between their drug addictions and overdoses created some definitive songs. All of the thrash fans that felt betrayed at the Black album liked “Peace Sells”. That is why their view points just didn’t make sense.

Yes people, the mighty Dave Mustaine was way ahead of his time. He gave Metallica that technicality and their sound in the early years and by 1986, he gave the Thrash movement a crossover hit song in “Peace Sells”. It was all over MTV.

And that is the reason why this sub-genre has survived and grown. The two biggest bands of the movement just kept on crossing over and those two biggest bands had two super influential songwriters in Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time they were in the same band.

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