A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Twitter Thoughts

As soon as Dee Snider and his Twisted Sister band mates threw the teacher for a three-pointer in the “I Wanna Rock” video, I was hooked. Yeah, he looked all wrong but his attitude and message stuck with me. So it’s no surprise I follow Dee on Twitter and recently a few tweets got some discussions happening.

“Here’s a challenge for you (and no using the internet for the answer): Can you name all 7 (unsuccessful) albums I’ve done solo or been a part of with a band since I left Twisted Sister in 1987? You can use initials. Bonus points for naming the 1 live album. Good freakin; luck.”

You struggle your whole life to “make it”. And once you “make it”, you need to struggle to “keep it”.

And then “keeping the fame” ends up “breaking up” the band that “made it”. So you go solo but it’s many years later from your “making it” moment. And there are people who still crave your product but not as many as before.

For a very long time, the record labels convinced everyone that the only way to define success is sales. But people might have purchased an album, heard it once and never heard it again. The record label never considered that statistic because the sale has given them a monetary value, something they can count.

But as Dee said further on;

“While I’m proud of all the work I’ve done, YES success is defined by sales. I’m long past “making music for my own head”. Once you’ve had public acceptance of your art, you yearn for it. You want the world to see and hear “your children””.

The truth is, there is no secret formula for keeping the hits coming.

Artists always had a short life span at the top. Most of the 70’s acts would have been dead and forgotten if there was no MTV television in the 80s.

But the biggest obstacle is obscurity.

Someone tweeted back, “Didn’t know you did one, lol” in response to Dee’s post about the seven unsuccessful albums to which Dee re-tweeted with the following comments;

“This is the #1 response to my name the seven albums I’ve done since leaving Twisted in 1987. Which brings us to the age old question: “If someone puts out an album and nobody hears it…did it make a sound?””

Which someone else replied that Dee’s last album, “We Are The Ones” was excellent with the following questions;

“Do you consider it unsuccessful? Is success only defined by album sales or rather by the quality of the product?”

Another person commented that just because it isn’t popular it doesn’t mean it’s not valid and that music touches people in different ways.

And here we are again wondering what success is.

Is it sales?

Is it streams?

Is it video views?

Is it concert ticket sales?

Is it just people interacting with you on social media?

For Dee, he hit the mainstream with Twisted Sister and for a three year period he was on top. Success is defined as that same public acceptance for his other music.

So let’s talk about “Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker.

Post Twisted Sister, it was deafening silence. From being everywhere, Dee was nowhere. My cousin Mega, who has the TS logo tattooed on his shoulder told me about his Desperado project. It was mentioned in a shorts column of a U.S magazine. That’s it. One of the biggest voices between 1983 and 85 was reduced to a paragraph.

Then there was silence again. We got nothing Dee Snider related in Australia.

I then read a “Blood And Bullets” review in a magazine, three months after the Widowmaker album was out. It was in a Guitar magazine, because of Al Pitrelli’s involvement. Nothing from the mainstream metal rags.

So I went looking for it in the mainstream record stores and I couldn’t find it. I asked at the counter if they could get it and they could get it as an import and charge me $50.

I went to Utopia in Sydney, the home of heavy metal, who only had a few copies of the album and already sold them. They said they would order it in for me and it would cost me $30. It took another 3 months for it to “arrive” in Australia and into my hands. Imagine that. 3 months to arrive.

So six months after the album was released I had it. And I played it non-stop and I still play it and I told everyone I could about it. It’s angry, it’s hopeful, it’s sombre and it’s tongue’n’cheek.

For me, it’s highly influential. It’s got the kind of music I like making, all over the album.

“Reason To Kill”, “Blue For You”, “Calling On You”, “Snot Nosed Kid” and “Emaheevul” straight away stood out for me. “Blood And Bullets” and “Widowmaker” grew on me with every listen. The cover of “Evil” surprised me with its energy and increased tempo while another pop rock cover called “The Lonely Ones” was a sleeper hit waiting to smack me in the face. “Gone Bad”, “You’re A Heartbreaker” and “We Are The Dead” while sounding clichéd on earlier listens grew into unique contributions to the album.

Dee delivered a stellar vocal performance and Al Pitrelli also produced the goods in the guitar department, while Joey Franco and Marc Russell underpinned it all. Of course, Desperado guitarist Bernie Torme co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on the album, so he deserves a huge 10 out of 10 for his stellar riffage and songwriting.

If you’ve read Dee’s book, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” Dee had to buy back the Desperado songs from Elektra who claimed ownership of them due to the label financing the demo song writing sessions and the failed Desperado album release.

But the problem with the album not setting the sales department on fire was not Grunge. It was obscurity. People didn’t know about it because there wasn’t a source of truth anymore.

Even in 1992 going onto 1993, we had a lot of different sources for information. The magazines were struggling to sell like they did in the 80’s, hence the reason why so many of them finished up.

So in order to stay relevant, the magazines only reported what was popular so they could sell. And no one bought all the magazines but in the 80s if you purchased Faces, Hit Parader or Circus or Metal Edge, you more or less had your rock/metal “source of truth” covered.

And MTV was moving into reality TV and out of music, especially music made by the metal community.

And speaking of the metal community, we had fractured into different styles. Once upon a time we liked metal. We listened to metal bands.

Suddenly metal (courtesy of magazines and record label A&R reps) had different genres like Glam, Pop, Thrash, Heavy, Hard, Death, Black, Industrial, Hardcore, Grindcore, Rap and whatever other term someone could think of like Sludge, Weed, Fart, etc.

So those metal bands in the early 80s got relabeled to something else.

And it shits me because the Widowmaker debut album is not on Spotify (well I don’t know about the rest of the world, but it’s not on Spotify Australia) and people who are fans of the band and who pay for Spotify cannot listen to it.

But it’s on YouTube and I don’t do YouTube. But I have a CD mp3 rip of the album on my devices and I listen to it that way.

The thing is, a lot of the albums which are really influential to people are rarely commercially successful.

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

2016

2016 will be seen as the year when the populations of the world, fresh from dealing or seeing terror hit their streets, decided to enforce change with their vote. Whatever side of the fence people sat, it was shown in major countries that the major cities and the governments are out of touch with the rest of their country. When people voted in 2016, it was a protest against the last 30 years of democracy and how the ruling classes became richer while the middle classes became poorer.

Megadeth kicked the year off with “The Threat Is Real” and it sure was. Megadeth released the better album this year, however Metallica’s “Hardwired To Self Destruct” would be more popular.

The messiah or mass murderer
No controlling who comes through the door
THE THREAT IS REAL – Megadeth

The shepherd led, we blindly followed
Into the world of no tomorrow
THE ENDLESS KNOT – Haken

Tyrants overtaking intoxicate with lies
There is no escaping, not this time
The simple man receiving, defending every crime
Somehow still believing they are right
THE LAST HERO – Alter Bridge

Omnipresent endless knot
The architect of every thought
Through the prison walls made by your design
A chameleon hides behind Orwellian eyes
THE ARCHITECT – Haken

We give up more of our liberties and privacy, but how secure are we?

For all the spying our governments do, they have no idea when an event will happen. Sure, they might identify persons of interest and then what. No one stopped the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels but somehow the mainstream media and the police read and believed the fake news sites on the internet.

We will grow strong from this
We will not be defeated
However hard they try
Over and over and over a thousand times
RISE OF THE MELANCHOLY EMPIRE – Sixx A.M.

With hands held high, we can rule the world
RULE THE WORLD – Dee Snider

It’s a call to arms for the “good” people of the world to band together and defeat the “bad” people of the world.

When terrorist bombs go off, the lines between good and bad are clear, we are the good ones and the terrorists are the bad ones. During the U.S election lead up, Trump was portrayed as the bad one and Hillary as the good one by the mainstream media. The fact that over half of the country voted for him, does it mean that all of those people are bad.

The bottom line is everyone is clueless and the future is exactly that, with endless possibilities and outcomes.

So together we’ll build a new world
A better world
OUR NEW WORLD – Dream Theater

But for all of Petrucci’s clichés, the world is much more complex. Robb Flynn asked “Is Anybody’s Out There” that feels just like him. One simple song, with two powerful verses addressing abandonment and racism.

Now I stand as a father, to men with no honor
Ashamed of the racists I used to call brothers
Cause no flag can mean bravery,
when bloodied by slavery,
The rebel, a devil, disguised as a savior
IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? – Machine Head

And he didn’t stop there. After Trump’s election win, he released (via YouTube) an acoustic song called “Bastards”. A simple D to A to Bm to G chord progression, underpins some personal viewpoints about the state of his world. And “Bastards” generated some heated discussions amongst the Machine Head fans, especially the ones who voted for Trump.

I am disconnected from a system I’ve rejected.
ALONE WE STAND – Killswitch Engage

A sign of things to come with Brexit, Trump and the Italian referendum serving as perfect examples of the disconnected people rejecting the current systems in place.

  • And the system allows Volkswagen to cheat on their emissions tests.
  • And the system allows the banks to get away with running the country into the dirt.
  • And the system allows lobbyists to lobby/bribe elected officials into writing laws to benefit corporate profits.
  • And the system allows the CEO’s to scream help to the government for a bail out, while the people, the workers, need to sell because they lost their jobs or they can’t make repayments.

I’ve seen rock bottom and I’ve smashed my fists against it
Just keep telling yourself it will be alright
STRENGTH OF THE MIND – Killswitch Engage

And there’s nowhere to turn
At the end of the road, I can’t hold on
MY ALLIED OCEAN – Evergrey

I’m just a creature of a broken past
We’re all looking for a second chance
PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED – Sixx A.M.

Who hasn’t been there?

You know the moment, when you feel like you are not winning and everything you do just turns to crap. And you cant get out of the rut, because you’re spending your days doing things for others, through obligation or duty to the family. And your life is so far away from the world of possibilities you had when you where young.

Somehow through it all
We carry on (we carry on)
WE CARRY ON – Killswitch Engage

And that’s our lives in a nutshell. We overcome setbacks, deaths in the family, wins and losses. Through it all, we still carry on. We rise.

Speak out, don’t let the status quo define you
This is your world, just put the fear back in their eyes
RISE – Sixx A.M.

Did I decide
Or did the road choose me?
1985 – Haken

Free will is an illusion. We believe we have it, but it ceases to exist when we start to follow the rules set by institutions.

 

Falling from the sky
Cast out from heaven’s light
Drenching the soil with blood
Baptized in the fire hole
THE DEVIL’s BLEEDING CROWN – Volbeat

I always looked for acceptance
I understood what it’s like to be different
PASSING THROUGH – Evergrey

From the day we are born we are looking for acceptance especially those outliers cast out from heaven’s light who do not conform to what the institutions what from them. The key is to stay true to who you are and be accepted and not be the artist who created safe art, looked safe, walked away from their fans to be in partnership with the corporation and so forth.

What have I got to lose
When I’ve already lost it all
PRAYERS FOR THE DAMNED – Sixx A.M.

When you’re at the bottom, the only way is up. For a lyric to work for me, the person writing it, has to have experienced it.

It’s the worse when you lose when you know how hard you tried
BELIEVE – Dee Snider

So many times when I was misunderstood
I just wish we had spoken so much sooner
DISTANCE – Evergrey

Life is funny in hindsight and sometimes painful to replay. We all would love to live with no “what if’s” however it never happens that way.

Just like tragedy
Folks line up to see
We forget and the problem’s gone
It just ain’t right to move on
MY LAST MISTAKE – Tremonti

We show outrage initially and then we move on like it never happened. It’s a sick symptom of society where we fail to hold to account, the people responsible for the tragedy. The GFC perps went on college speaking tours and high-five jobs at the financial firms they organised laws to benefit. They escaped unscathed, while the middle class and lower class got their homes foreclosed.

Every time there is a shooting there is outrage, however nothing is done after on gun reform.

For all of the laws passed to spy on citizens in the name of terror, not one terrorist act have they stopped. And after each terrorist attack, our privacy and liberties erode a little bit more.

The people need to hold to account the people responsible. But we cannot devote the time because the people responsible have us hooked line and sinker. We can’t take time of work because the income means more to us than the cause.

Sold my soul and signed my name in blood
Stole it back, now praying in the dark
Fooled the devil, begging for a fight
Count the dollars, make your bet tonight
SEAL THE DEAL – Volbeat

Seduced by fame
A moth into the flame
MOTH INTO FLAME – Metallica

Infamy
All for publicity
Destruction going viral
MOTH INTO FLAME – Metallica

If you wanna lead or be a star
They’ll expose all that you are
Are you sure you want this now?
They will only tear you down
CROWS ON A WIRE – Alter Bridge

Facebook and social media has created a culture wherein everything is on show. Ask yourself the question. Is it fame you want or a career as a musician/artist?

Middle fingers in the air, singing we don’t f….. care, when we say “So What”
SO WHAT – Dee Snider

It’s become the soundtrack to “Standing Rock” in 2016, but it’s been my motto since I got into hard rock/heavy metal music.

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

We Are The Ones

“Forget anything from the past. Most of my heavy metal fans are gonna hate it; I’ve abandoned my past to move forward.”
Dee Snider

The key to this project working is Dee Snider’s voice. He doesn’t sound like a whiny teen. He doesn’t sound like he’s auto-tuned to robotic levels. He doesn’t sound like he hasn’t lived and experienced life’s ups and downs. He sounds like a rock star. He sounds like a man who battled rejection after rejection for over 10 years to get mainstream fame. He sounds like a man who had it all and then lost it all and then got it back it again. His voice has an attitude and a grit that is hard to explain in words.

We Are The Ones
When everything else counts us out, we are the ones

On my Spotify Release Radar playlist, Dee Snider’s “We Are The Ones” came up as the first song. I was aware he had new music coming out via my Google Alerts, but to be honest I was caught by surprise. It felt like yesterday, when Dee offered up “To Hell And Back” as a free download from his website and everyone ignored it because it wasn’t convenient for them to download it like that on their phones. And back then, the new album was promised for a February 2016 release. Fast forward to October and it is finally here although very different to what was intended.

“We Are The Ones” is an amalgamation of rock, punk and pop. Dee Snider nails the vocal and I wanted to hear more. So I went to listen to the album on Spotify. It’s also the opening track and a great introduction to the album. To be honest it’s not a far departure from what Dee Snider is known for. Dee also mentioned in a Billboard article, that the first song producer Damon Ranger brought to him was “We Are The Ones” and it set the tone of the album.

We are the ones who are taught to hate
We are the hearts that were born to break
We live our lives from all of your lies
We wear our scars like a badge of pride

It’s a new anthem for me.

Our kids these days are taught at school to not bully, to not be racist and to not discriminate. Well something has gone terribly wrong, because what we have in 2016 is the exact opposite of what our kids are being taught. We have the highest incidences of bullying being reported. Racism is back in the media like it was the 60’s and all those laws about discrimination have given useless organisations power they don’t what to do with.

So what we have is a generation told they are the best and when the best doesn’t come knocking, we start to have disappointment. Like the words of Master Yoda, disappointment leads to hate and hate leads to suffering and suffering leads to the dark side.

We are the first, we are the free, we are the suffering

The vocal delivery and how Dee sings sufffffffering nails it for me.

Have you ever been afraid?
We live in fear everyday

As much as social media connects us, we feel more lonely than ever. And it’s our greatest fear. Being lonely, with no one to talk too and share stories with.

Over Again
This reminds me of the Widowmaker song “The Lonely Ones” merged with The Foo Fighters. It’s got that major key rock vibe which I dig.

So easy to fall back in your bed

Damn right. It takes courage to get out of your comfort zone.

Close To You
Dee’s vocal delivery borders on demented Jon Bon Jovi levels. I swear I couldn’t tell the difference. Have a listen to how the song builds over a simple guitar riff before it starts to rock. In the end, it’s hard to explain this song. It sounds like Stabbing Westward from the late nineties.

I’m watching every move, your standing next to me

Is it a love song, a stalk song, a song about unrequited love?

Rule The World
It’s 30 Seconds To Mars but with Dee Snider singing. Because of it, the song has an attitude that rocks.

With hands held high, we can rule the world

It’s a call to arms to the rock heads and the metal heads to all join together and rule the world again.

We’re Not Gonna Take It
I’m not gonna take this version at all.

Crazy For Nothing
This song is a cross between Foo Fighters and what Sixx AM are trying to do.

What’s the use of trying if your only gonna shut me down?

We overthink a lot and it stops us from trying.

Believe
This is a great song, a cross between Imagine Dragons and Thirty Seconds To Mars and it has a lyric that has so much truth in it.

It’s the worse when you lose when you know how hard you tried

I remember I once went to a football trial to get into a rep team. I played out of my skin, every pass found a player, I overlapped, I underlapped, I pressed and won the ball back. And I wasn’t picked. And I was gutted for the first time. I had failed before many times, but in those times I knew I didn’t do my best. But on that day, I tried my hardest, I stood up to be counted and I didn’t get noticed.

But I never stopped trying and I kept building my experiences.

Head Like A Hole
I never really got into NIN.

Superhero
Is this song a departure? It sounds like those songs the kids mime to on Musicly.

There aint nobody better than you
Got to fight and make your dreams come true
Don’t let em hold you down try an push you around
Because you got something to prove

I don’t know who wrote all of the songs on the album as Spotify doesn’t mention any credits. Regardless if Damon Ranger wrote it, it’s classic Dee Snider. It’s been his message all along and a perfect example

Raise your voice and let the whole world know

Dee Snider raised his voice against censorship in 1985. Now in 2016, he is raising his voice for better payment rates for musicians.

So What
It’s the emotion that gets me. It kicks off with an acoustic guitar and a classic Dee Snider vocal delivery.

“Middle fingers in the air, singing we don’t f….. care, when we say “So What”.

A fitting farewell message.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Fame Game

“You let them know you are large and in charge. It’s the way you stand, the way you carry yourself. Being a front man is less about your voice than your ability to connect with a crowd. A front man is a salesman. Steve Jobs was a front man. Wozniak was the great songwriter, but he couldn’t sell the thing he created. He needed the cock rocker Jobs to say, “Pay attention to this!” I wasn’t always confident, but confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It starts as false bravado—you’re acting like you’re cool and confident even when you’re not—but if you’re convincing enough, people start to believe it. Then you start to believe it and then it’s the reality.”
Dee Snider on his philosophy on how to connect with an audience

You see, fame ain’t what it used to be. In the past, very few people made it and when they did, we all knew their name, regardless of their style of music. Now, no one even knows who the “stars” are. The odds of breaking through your inner circle are tiny, but people keep trying.

So where does that leave the artists who are trying to sustain a career in an ever-changing marketplace because fame is a game. It’s not always about the music, but more about communication and participation.

Sully Erna is a salesman. He goes on a radio show and Nikki Sixx becomes the topic of his conversation. He generates a ton of interest, a lot of discussion and he played the fame game. But that was weeks ago. The feud is old news again. Forgotten for the time being. The audience moved on to another topic, to another artist.

Remember when music records and singles used to be number one for ages. Well, that doesn’t happen anymore in music and it definitely doesn’t happen when it comes to information. News is an on demand item. The only question is where are we going to get it from. The usual suspects are far from impartial. Look at the Top 20 lists at Loudwire and Noisecreep and Ultimate Classic Rock and you will see that the lists are made up of the bands that had big PR campaigns with the website; not because the albums are worthy of being in the top 20.

Music is not the leader anymore. Information is. And with a million ways to occupy ourselves, artists need to find a different way to make us pay attention. So with everything available, we are drawn to very few.

Like James Hetfield.

The “SoWhat” fan club magazine interviews offer up personal viewpoints and feelings that people can connect with. He doesn’t do side projects because it needs to add to what he is about and not detract from Metallica. However he is now okay with his band mates side projects. He told us that Metallica lost millions doing the Orion Music + More festivals and he offers his insights as to why that might be the case. He gives us his feelings on “Lulu”. Then there is the movie “Through The Never” that cost the band millions. Again more insights or “excuses” as some metal websites called them.

So even though Metallica hasn’t released new music in seven years, Hetfield is constantly out there playing the fame game.

Whether you agree with the viewpoints or not, it’s actually good to listen to artists having a say instead of not saying anything. Even artists like Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley who fail to understand or realise that the record company model is based on stealing everything from the artist, are good at playing the fame game, especially when they have nothing new to offer musically.

Because it is virtually impossible to get mindshare in todays cluttered and chaotic world. We had MTV, Hit Parader, Circus, Rip and Metal Edge magazines and they reached everybody. Today, we get the popular squeezing out the less popular and what we have are people complaining there is no money in music.

And who cares what sales record is broken. Adele is all over the news about her sales figures. Star Wars the same. Michael Jackson and Thriller just passed 30 million.

Does anyone know who many records Black Sabbaths “Paranoid” sold, or Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil” or Dream Theater’s “Images and Words” or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” or Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” or Journey’s “Escape”.

Hell, even the bands won’t know how many albums they would have sold, as the accounting of it all was dodgy and secretive. But the music has maintained. Dream Theater is still doing victory laps from the success of “Images and Words”. I just forked out $170 for “The Astonishing” pre order of the deluxe edition.

In the end, everything is a game, with winners and losers.

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Politics and Music

“We also license our music very aggressively. This is for two reasons: We derive a huge income stream from this exploitation, and our music reaches listeners in new ways, building more fans.”
Jay Jay French

There has been a bit of backlash to politicians and other movements using popular songs as backing tracks to their campaigns and demonstrations. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was exploited by Arnie for his California Governor campaign and recently by Trump for his presidential bid. Both times, the TS machine allowed it to happen. However, in 2012 Dee Snider asked Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to stop using the song, because he did not support Ryan.

Prior to Trump using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” he used songs from other artists.

Steven Tyler asked Donald Trump to stop using the power ballad “Dream On” at his campaigns. Trump responded by saying that he found a better song to take its place.

Trump was also asked to stop using, R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in The Free World”.

In Australia, anti-Islam rally groups started to use a song from Cold Chisel at their rallies, which had Jimmy Barnes (the vocalist) taking to his Facebook page to state that he did not support these groups using the music.

So what right do artists have if any, to stop these exploitations from happening?

Did you know that Neil Young was asking Trump for money for his stupid PONO music player before Trump decided to enter politics. Then months later, Young is asking Trump to stop using his music because he doesn’t agree with his viewpoints nor does he want to be associated with it.

How can it be that it is okay for people to purchase the music of the artists, but not okay for those same people to use the music of the artists to prove a point or get a message through.

Don’t we live in a democratic society, where freedom of speech is valued?.

And then that Copyright word is put out there. If an artist sells their copyright to a corporation for a fee, then what right do they have to “use copyright” as a censorship tool. They have sold their right. You can’t have it both ways.

If anyone has the right to complain, then it is the corporation.

So which way do artists want?

I have read articles where Dee Snider is even contemplating telling Trump to not use “Were Not Gonna Take It” anymore, however I hope he doesn’t do so.

Because, in the end, music needs people to thrive and it can be used by the people in many different ways. Many supporters of political campaigns and movements are music fans. So while the artist thinks that they are taking a stand against the politician or the movement, as a by product of taking that stand they are also taking a stand against their own fan base.

Now, people might come from different walks of life and have differing viewpoints on a range of issues. Just because an artist doesn’t agree with a viewpoint it doesn’t mean the people should be stopped from using songs that they grew up with or songs that could get their message across in a way no speech could.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

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

Standard
Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1985

Coming into 1985, Quiet Riot, still had constant MTV rotation with “Cum On Feel The Noize” released in 1983. Judas Priest was also all over the channels with “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Twisted Sister’s anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” along with Ratt’s “Round and Round” also had constant rotation. Scorpions and Motley Crue also had constant MTV rotation with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Looks that Kill”. Meanwhile, Van Halen’s “Jump” crossed over into the mainstream.

So it was safe to say that metal and rock bands were showing the music world that metal works well in a singles orientated format.

Music videos became the new tool to sell music. Suddenly we listened with our eyes and ears. “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” music video became another MTV favourite. It went under the radar from PMRC and it also kept with the mid-eighties theme of metal/rock music as a liberator to teen oppression.

The follow-up “Home Sweet Home,” showed that rock and metal was really a singles games. When the song blew up on MTV, the sales of the “Theatre of Pain” album, went through the roof. Yep, a single was selling the album.

That’s not to say that the “Theatre Of Pain” album is a bad one, it’s just that the other songs on the album where either not as good as the songs that came before or the message/tone of the songs were too deep or dark at that point in time.

Tonight (We Need a Lover)”,” Save Our Souls”, “Louder Than Hell” and “Fight for Your Rights” proved that the “Shout At The Devil” metal vibe was alive and well in the Crue. “Raise Your Hands to Rock” should have been a crossover smash but it wasn’t as the Crue was told to go back into the recording studio and capitalise on the interest that MTV had brought to the band.

“Who wrote the Bible, Who set the laws, Are we left to history’s flaws” ….. from “Fight For Your Rights”

The ones in power did. Otherwise, who the hell gives a bunch of politician housewives a say as to what should be allowed or banned. In case you lived under a rock, 1985 was also the year that a lot of different sporadic events came together in a big way.

The PMRC Satanic Panic was in full swing, with the Filthy Fifteen List and the Senate Congressional hearings. More than anything, this brought metal and rock music even more to the masses. While artists did fight for their rights, a lot of other artists had no idea what was happening.

“I was Young and restless, Living on the edge of a dream, When someone somewhere said, Ya just gotta believe”….. from “Raise Your Hands To Rock”

That is what the metallers did. They believed in their music, their songs and their lifestyles. The below quote is from “The Guardian”;

“By the time 1985 hit, thrash metal itself was off to a healthy head start, beginning several years prior with the rise of the Bay Area titans-to-be Metallica, Exodus and Megadeth, LA’s Slayer and New York City’s Anthrax. That year saw Exodus release “Bonded by Blood”, which remains their most hallowed work. Anthrax released “Spreading the Disease”, their first album to feature legendary vocalist Joey Belladonna. Slayer unleashed “Hell Awaits” upon the unwitting masses. Megadeth released their brazen debut, “Killing Is My Business … and Business Is Good!” while frontman Dave Mustaine’s former bandmates in Metallica were holed up writing the follow-up to 1984’s “Ride the Lightning”, an album that would become 1986’s watershed “Master of Puppets”.

It was a shame that in four years’ time, it would get so commercialised, conformist and fake, that it managed to relegate itself into the back ground by 1994.

Continuing on with 1985 releases, how do you follow-up a multi-platinum album and two iconic MTV video clips?

That was the predicament Twisted Sister was in when Dee Snider sat down to write the songs that would be released on “Come Out And Play”. Bob Ezrin was interested in producing and after hearing the rough versions, opted out. Dieter Dierks from Scorpions fame was brought in instead.

Now, I need to get this out in the open. The two worst songs on the album are “Leader of the Pack” and “Be Cruel to Your School” (screw the misspelling). I wasn’t even going to buy the album and then my cousin “Mega” played me “The Fire Still Burns”, “Out On The Streets”, “I Believe in Rock N Roll” and the title track “Come Out And Play”. I was sold and laid out my hard-earned dollars.

What an album?

What was the label and Dee thinking, leading off with two gimmicky tracks, especially in a time when metal music started to fragment into different genres?

Seriously, the three singles from the album had to be, “Come Out And Play”, “I Believe In Rock N Roll” and “The Fire Still Burns”. It would have satisfied all of the genres.

“Come Out And Play” was already set up to have a Warriors themed video clip in my opinion, while “I Believe In Rock N Roll” in my eyes was set up to have a court inspired PMRC theme. And finish it all off with a live rendition of “The Fire Still Burns” and ka-chow.

But it wasn’t to be.

“When you laugh and put us down, you’re tryin’ to cover up your fears”….. From “You Want What We Got”

“Every day, I work so hard, Every day, I’m dealt the cards, Every day, I’m told exactly what to do”….. From “I Believe In Rock N Roll”

Success really is addictive and once your personality is consumed by your value of ‘what you do’, instead of ‘who you are’, you are most likely to continue to follow that intoxication and believe that you are invincible.”
Jay Jay French

If you are a fan of Twisted Sister, you would know about the “invincibility” of Dee Snider after “Stay Hungry” crossed over.

“I’m just another number, Somethin’ just ain’t right”….. from “Out On The Streets”

A decade of struggling to make it led to a burnout. Dee Snider would quit and go solo in 1987. In the end he was just a number to the record label machine. Another rocker used up and spat out down at “Chainsaw Charlies” morgue.

“They always told me I must try to be, like everyone in the nation”…. From “Lookin Out For Number 1”

Conforming leads to expectations and in my opinion, expectation is a burden that kills creativity. Dee always wrote the draft of the next album, while mixing was happening on the previous album. For example, during Under The Blade mixing, Dee wrote the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” album. During the “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” album mixing, Dee wrote the “Stay Hungry” album. During the “Stay Hungry” album mixing, Dee wrote nothing.

 

Standard