A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Def Leppard And The Digital World

There is a Def Leppard story that did the rounds at the start of August. Almost four weeks later, it’s forgotten. That’s how fast people move on. If you are an artist and you spend 12 plus months on an album, just be mindful that it could be forgotten within a month, especially if it’s not part of a cultural movement or crossed over into the mainstream.

Anyway, back to the Def Leppard article.

No one can forget how big Def Leppard was from 1983 to 1994. Huge. Even their sound was huge with multi-layered vocals and instrumentation.

Like all the 80’s heroes, they had a bit of a back lash in the 90’s and maybe alienated some of their fan base with their 90’s sounding “Slang” album. But like all great bands from the 80’s they had a renaissance. I wrote a while back about how I believe piracy made Twisted Sister relevant again from 2000 and onwards and that viewpoint is still held for Def Leppard.

It’s actually even more relevant for Def Leppard, because the band refuses to have their 80’s output on digital services due to a payment dispute with the record label. The label (Universal) wants to pay the band a royalty based on a sale, whereas the band wants the licensing royalty payment which is much higher. The band even found it easier to create their own forgeries (re-recording some of their classics) easier than dealing with the record label.

This leads to an interesting position.

If you cannot purchase the Def Leppard 80’s output legally or stream it legally (apart from the few forgeries the band did themselves and the live releases), what should people do?

Well in this case, they obtain the music illegally (provided they haven’t purchased a legal physical copy)?

In other posts, I have mentioned how bands survive by replenishing their fan base with younger fans. It’s the reason why bands like Ratt and Dokken haven’t really gone well in the 2000’s compared to Crue, Leppard and Jovi. Well, it turns out that Def Leppard is doing a pretty fantastic job at doing just that.

“In recent years, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve seen this new surge in our popularity. For the most part, that’s fuelled by younger people coming to the shows. We’ve been seeing it for the last 10, 12 or 15 years, you’d notice younger kids in the audience, but especially in the last couple of years, it’s grown exponentially. I really do believe that this is the upside of music piracy.”
Vivian Campbell

While the band is on the road, it works and their popularity is as big (maybe even bigger) as their 80’s popularity. The band is also a heavy user of YouTube, even though the site is the punching bag for the RIAA and the record labels. As YouTube recently said, they pay $3 per 1000 streams in the U.S. If it’s true or not, we will never know until we see proper financials from both YouTube and the labels. But if it is true, Def Leppard would be getting that cut themselves, and I haven’t heard of them taking YouTube to task over their payments. Even Metallica who controls their own copyrights don’t take YouTube to task. Both bands are heavy users of the platform, constantly putting up new content. But if you believe the RIAA and the record labels, YouTube is evil and due to its high volume of users, the payments are not enough.

But in Def Leppard’s case, you could say that YouTube is seen as a more likely driver of new fans than pirate torrent sites. Because all the research shows that YouTube has a user base made up of young people. They are also fostering a true connection with fans again which for a lot of artists who made it in the 80’s is a frightening prospect.

This model will not work for every band. In this case, each creator needs to look at the problem and find a solution that works for them. Eventually Def Leppard’s music will come to streaming services as the band will not be able to tour. But it will be on their terms and their terms only. Like AC/DC and Metallica. They signed their own streaming deal themselves and it’s got nothing to do with the record label.

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

1983 – Volume 3 –Pyromania and Metal Health Are Breaking The Chains In Europe.

Being different was a uniqueness when I was growing up and it was the space heavy metal and rock musicians occupied. It was us vs. them mentality. The “them” was always a moving target. It could have been teachers, parents, police officers, neighbours or anyone else that did the wrong thing.

I grew up in a time where heavy metal music and long hair was frowned upon, where a person with a sleeve of tattoos was considered to be a freak in a circus show. Society bullied us. You couldn’t get a “real” job if you had piercings.

Music is best when it’s created and led by the outcasts, those artists that sit on the fringes. Record Labels and suits believe they know best, because all they care about is profits. When Quiet Riot exploded with Metal Health in 1983, it took everyone by surprise, but not the metal fans. Suddenly, our favourite form of music was becoming a mainstream commercial behemoth.

As soon as the bands started to find an audience that connected with their message, money started to roll in from large record label advances and tour revenue. Suddenly, everyone’s afraid to lose friends. Our favourite bands suddenly tried to have a career instead of destroying their career. All of those rough edges that made our heroes unique got polished off. And by the end of the Eighties, we had every band sounding the same, trying to cash in on the MTV Bon Jovi/Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Whitesnake/Guns’N’Roses formula.

But we still have 1983, when a lot of the bands recorded albums to build careers on. We still have 1983, when the record store section had one section called METAL and all of the bands fitted in.

Welcome to Part 3 of my 1983 saga.

It’s a few months late and if you want to revisit Part 1, click here.

If you want to revisit Part 2, click here.

Quiet Riot – Metal Health
“Metal Health” holds a special place in the canon of 80’s metal and hard rock and so it should for it’s the first album of that sound and culture to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. In doing so, a band that got rejected a hundred times in the late seventies, pushed The Police from the top spot.

I never owned any Quiet Riot music until the mid-nineties, when I picked up their 80’s albums, along with the Randy Rhoads era at second-hand record stores and record fairs. So the only music I had from Quiet Riot in the 80’s was the video clips, that I recorded onto a VHS cassette tape staying up late at night. “Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Bang Your Head”, “Mama Were All Crazee Now” and “The Wild And The Young”. That was it.

And it was two songs in constant rotation on music television that sold this album. “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Bang Your Head”.

Metal Health (Bang Your Head)
The opener and the united metal head soundtrack, when we all believed in the same form music and didn’t segregate into little factions that the record labels like to call “Genres”.

“Bang your head, metal health will drive you mad”

Enough said.

The whole musical structure is tasty but that chorus riff has enough power to crush the power chords from Malcolm Young.

I’m like a laser 6-streamin’ razor
I got a mouth like an alligator
I want it louder
More power
I’m gonna rock ya till it strikes the hour

It’s clichéd and a thousand bands had similar themes. You were either a long-haired rocker or a black t-shirt metal head standing up against the establishments so you could listen to the music you love. And we congregated to the churches of the record stores and the arena’s, to show our love and appreciation to this godly music.

Cum On Feel The Noize
A lot of the metal fans had no idea this was a cover. Hell, I didn’t when I first heard it. We didn’t own a lot of music back then. Only the credits on the album (if you owned it) would have told you it was a cover, or the reviewer of the album would mention it.

So you think my singin’s out of time
It makes me money
I don’t know why

A lot of the bands in the 80’s didn’t have the most technically gifted singers. It was more of a lifestyle than a job. DuBrow was not the best singer on the planet, yet he became he star.

So cum on feel the noize
Girls rock your boys
We’ll get wild, wild, wild

All the boys wanted to rock and roll with the girls.

Don’t Wanna Let You Go
It’s got potential musically, but lyrically, DuBrow serves up crap.

Breathless
Musically it’s good, but the lyrics let it down.

Run For Cover
It’s a speed metal song and musically I love it.

How good is the whole solo section?

It starts off with the frantic drums, then the lead guitar kicks in, then the whole band joins.

Let’s Get Crazy
What came first, “Fight For Your Right” from the Beastie Boys or “Let’s Get Crazy” from Quiet Riot?

While “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” reached no. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Quiet Riot’s “Let’s Get Crazy” is virtually unknown.

The riffs are identical and the vocal melodies are more or less pretty close.

Lookin’ for some action, want a mean machine
Gettin’ hot ‘n’ nasty, climbin’ in-between

Both songs are great and a perfect indication of how music is the sum of our influences. But in today’s world, these songs are perfect for a plagiarism claim.

I’m-a rockin’ in the mornin’ and in the night
I’m gonna find a mama makes me feel right

For the other songs, I preferred the Randy Rhoads version of “Slick Black Cadillac” and while “Thunderbird” is mentioned as a tribute to Randy Rhoads, I believe it wasn’t really written to honour Randy. I believe the song was written before Randy’s death and it was just a cash grab from DuBrow or the label to capitalise on it. Seriously, DuBrow has the lyrics, “leave your nest baby” in the song.

Every album after, got worse and eventually DuBrow left Quiet Riot and Paul Shortino was in. But the debut of the 80’s version of the band stands as a testament to paying your dues.

Def Leppard – Pyromania
Def Leppard doesn’t exist in the world of iTunes and Spotify except for a few re-cut versions of some of the classics.

The reason is money.

The record label wants to pay Def Leppard a royalty based on vinyl sales for streaming, however Def Leppard believe they should be paid at the higher licensing rate. And the labels are paid a monza to license the music they hold the copyrights on but then pay the band a royalty on sales and listens. Def Leppard said FU to the offer and because of it, we have no classic Lep on Spotify.

In 1983, there was “Pyromania” and everything else. The Lep’s wanted to be on top of the pop charts. That was their mission. The rise was slow but gradual. If you like rock and metal music, you would like this album. If you liked pop and other forms of music, you would still like this album. And the people responded in the millions, with sales breaking through the million barrier all over the world.

There is a great write-up over at the teamrock.com website which I have taken some sections from.

The “Pyromania” story begins with “High’N’Dry”. The album and the tour didn’t do anything spectacular in the sales department.

“That album didn’t do what we all hoped it would. And touring the UK was a complete waste of time. We were pulling in 400-500 people in 2000-seat theatres.”
Joe Elliot

Def Leppard was then given a supporting slot on the European Leg “Point Of Entry” tour by Judas Priest. But they never had a chance to make an impact, coming on second after Accept and their “Balls To The Wall”. The tour finished in December, 1981 and by February 1982, the band had most of the songs written for their third album.

As the article over at teamrock.com states;

Some of the songs were brand new, built from a stockpile of riffs the band had worked through after the “High ‘N’ Dry” tour. But they also remodelled a couple of older songs that hadn’t made the cut for “High ‘N’ Dry”: “Medicine Man” was beefed up and renamed “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)”, and a previously unfinished track, described by Joe as “a dual-guitar pop song”, was finally completed, and titled “Photograph”. Aside from drummer Rick Allen, every band member contributed to the writing, as did Mutt Lange, who co-wrote all of the album’s 10 tracks. Guitarist Pete Willis wrote the riff to “Rock Rock (Till You Drop)”. Their other guitarist, Steve Clark, a Jimmy Page fan, created the Zeppelin-styled epic “Billy’s Got A Gun”. Rick Savage came up with the express-train rocker “Stagefright”.

Recording began in March, and money was tight. The band was in debt to their record company to the tune of £700,000, and each band member was on wages of £40 a week.

A cold hard fact on the realities of the recording business and their creative accounting is the debts bands incur. It was this “money is tight” situation that led to Pete Willis getting the boot from the band and Phil Collen joined. However, as the article states;

Elliott is keen to stress the importance of Pete Willis’s contribution to Pyromania. The guitarist co-wrote four of the album’s 10 tracks, including Photograph, the key hit single. And despite his run-ins with Mutt Lange, Willis also played the rhythm guitar parts on every track. Phil Collen joined the band for the final stages of recording, when they returned to London for overdubbing and mixing at Battery Studios. Collen played solos on five of the tracks, with Steve Clark taking the other five.

The album finally hit the streets in January 1983. But.

In the UK Pyromania was still selling slow. It peaked at No.18. And after a showcase gig at London’s Marquee club on February 9 the band’s British theatre tour drew disappointingly small audiences. Joe called it “The Nobody Cares Tour”. In America, however, it was a different story.

MTV put the songs “Photograph,” “Foolin’” and “Rock of Ages” on constant rotation. So did the other video shows. And in all honesty they looked geeky compared to the American bands but with the help of Mutt Lange, they blew up the rock/metal paradigm. Suddenly rock and metal bands changed the way they recorded. NWOBHM bands started to sing more melodically and with backing vocals. They had too, if they wanted to survive in the new world.

“Pyromania” takes its pop rock cues from Journey’s “Escape”, Loverboy’s self-titled debut, Foreigners “4”, Reo Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity”, .38 Special’s “Special Forces” and Boston’s larger than life Chorus’s from their self-titled debut released in 1976 and the follow-up “Don’t Look Back” released in 1978. The rock and swagger comes from AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, Queen’s and Led Zeppelin’s 70’s output.

More pop rock influences came from Slade, The Sweet, Mott The Hoople, T-Rex and David Bowie. The metal overtones come from Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Scorpions.

Joe Elliot once said that he wanted the power of AC/DC mixed with the variety of Queen for Def Leppard.

Rock Rock (Till You Drop)
Mutt Lange is digging in to his AC/DC “Back In Black”/“For Those About To Rock” and Foreigner “4” experiences with “Rock Rock (Till You Drop). It’s a sound and groove that Cinderella and Kix and many other wannabe acts would put to good use to build careers’ on.

Hold on to your hat, hold on to your heart
Ready, get set to tear this place apart
Don’t need a ticket, only place in town
That’ll take you up the heaven and never bring you down

Anything goes
Anything goes

Are they singing about the rock and roll show or the real meaning of what rock and roll meant back in the 30’s to the Black Blues artists of that era.

Women to the left, women to the right
There to entertain and take you through the night
So grab a little heat and come along with me
Cause you mama don’t mind, what you mama don’t see

Anything goes
Anything goes

It looks like the “rock” in this song is not the musical “rock” at all.

Photograph
There is no denying the riff. It’s as good as any of the classic riffs that guitarists play in guitar shops and so forth. Structurally, the song goes all AC/DC style riffing in the verses and pop rock like in the Chorus.

I see your face every time I dream
On every page, every magazine
So wild and free, so far from me
You’re all I want, my fantasy

This is Def Leppard trying to bottle the magic of the song “Centrefold” in a rock/metal context or it could be just a stalk like anthem of someone Joe had seen in a magazine.

Stagefright
It’s got this Sweet “Action” vibe merged with metal riffage in the verses with a pop chorus.

You’re going for my head, you’re going down
Gettin’ good at being bad, you’re hangin’ ’round
A fun inspired asylum, toys for the boys
Love on the rocks, forget-me-nots, you got no choice

Is it about groupies?

Too Late For Love
As soon as this song starts off, I swear I’ve heard it somewhere else. The Em – C – D, G – D, C – Em is instantly recognisable.

Somewhere in the distance I hear the bells ring
Darkness settles on the town as the children start to sing
And the lady ‘cross the street she shuts out the night
There’s a cast of thousands waiting as she turns out the light

The lyrics are interesting to say the least as they set up different scenes with each verse.

Die Hard The Hunter
Let’s welcome home the soldier boy (far away, far away)
No angel of mercy, just a need to destroy (fire away, fire away)
Let’s toast the hero with blood in his eyes
The scars on his mind took so many lives

You feel sad as soon as the Emadd9 clean tone arpeggios kick in and it gets even sadder when Joe starts singing “Let’s toast”. Then it goes into a riff that Queensryche used when they wrote “Revolution Calling”.

That section from 4.05 to 5.05 always gets me to stop what I’m doing and start paying attention.

Foolin
The opener to Side 2, with that majestic guitar part.

“Foolin” was not my favourite song on the album, but hearing it almost 20 years, I realised the magic was in the arpeggiated intro and the eventual build up with the layered backing vocals singing “Is anybody out there?”. And I now dig it. It stands the test of time.

Lady Luck never smiles
So lend your love to me awhile
Do with me what you will
Break the spell, take your fill
On and on we rode the storm
The flame has died and the fire has gone
Oh, this empty bed is a night alone
I realized that-ah long ago

The music and the vocal melody are top-notch in this intro section.

Is anybody out there?
Anybody there?
Does anybody wonder?
Anybody care?

The backing vocals in this section are brilliant. We spend so much of our life looking into the past that we don’t see what’s right in front of us.

The lead break begins with a call and response. It reminds me of “Over The Mountain” from Randy Rhoads and Ozzy.

Rock Of Ages
The first time I heard em. My cousin Trajko had a lot of VHS tapes full of metal and rock music videos he taped from the TV stations or from friends. On a visit to his place, he dubbed me three of them. For those who grew up in the 80’s, we dubbed videos by connecting two videos together, so while one video played the image on the TV, the other video was recording it.

Yeah, it’s better to burn out
Yeah, than fade away

A rock and rollers creed.

Rise up, gather ’round
Rock this place to the ground
Burn it up, let’s go for broke
Watch the night go up in smoke

Rock on (rock on)
Drive me crazier
No serenade, no fire brigade
Just the pyromania, come on

This is the embryo of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and they take inspiration from Queen, by using songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites The Dust” as influences for the verse delivery/structure.

When the Chorus comes in after two verses, it’s well worth the wait. “Don’t Stop Believin’” from Journey also used this kind of song structure.

Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, keep a-rollin’
Rock of ages, rock of ages
Still rollin’, rock ‘n’ rollin’

You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along with the chorus.

Comin Under Fire
This song is a must for any wannabe guitarist. It merges 70’s classic rock, with NWOBHM with Scorpions Euro Metal.

The intro alone has it all. Arpeggiated guitar lines hook you in and then the pedal point riff blasts through the speakers. When the verses come in, we are greeted with volume swells that outline the different chords.

Is it any wonder?
You got me comin’ under fire
Comin’ like thunder
You know you make me walk the wire

Like the pre-chorus of “Foolin”, the chorus of “Comin Under Fire” has excellent layered backing vocals. Lyrically, it’s not the best, but musically, it rules.

Billy’s Got A Gun
Never underestimate the ability of a song to paint a picture.

This is my favourite Def Leppard cut and it has so many good bits.

The verse bass riff reminds me of “Heaven and Hell”. The backing vocals are so layered, melodic and operatic. The overall drum groove reminds of “Kashmir”. And I guarantee you that Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton all had this album and paid particular attention to this song as the “Operation Mindcrime” album is very influenced by “Billy’s Got A Gun”.

Billy’s got a gun, he’s on the run
Confusion in his mind, the blind leads the blind
Yeah, Billy’s got a gun, he’s gonna shoot ya down
He’s got evil in his eyes, got a reason to despise
There’s danger in the air

It sets the scene of what Billy is about to do as he is hell-bent on revenge for doing time, for a crime, he didn’t commit.

In a world of black and white, they were wrong and he was right

A powerful lyric.

And you get an unbelievable solo and an ending that makes you press play again, so you hear the album over and over and over again.

As time marches forward, the greatness and power of this song is being forgotten. Not on my watch.

Europe – Europe
When Europe broke through into the mainstream in 86’ with “The Final Countdown”, the triumph seemed like it happened overnight. But the reality is so much different. And once word started to spread, people took notice and the band would never be the same.

But before “The Final Countdown”, there are two albums. The self-titled debut released in 1983 (and it’s not on Spotify) and 1984’s “Wings Of Tomorrow” (also not on Spotify).

There is always something unique and interesting to hear a bands early music. To me, it always captures a point in time when a band is free to write what they want and develop their style away from the mainstream and record label know it all’s.

The debut doesn’t have the sale numbers as “The Final Countdown” or “Out of This World”, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock as hard. Hell, it was finally released in Australia in the 90’s, which I picked up as a cassette.

To me, the album captures a form of classical inspired metal, drawing influences from U.F.O, Randy Rhoads era Ozzy, Scorpions, Accept, Rainbow and Deep Purple.

In the Future to Come
John Norum goes to town on this song. It’s guitar heavy and it’s littered with so many good things.

  • A classical inspired intro that ends with double stop bends.
  • Power chords over a galloping pedal tone.
  • A shred like lead break.

Drummer on this album is Tony Reno, not Ian Haugland. And there is no Mic Michaeli on keys either.

So many years ago the people on this earth, they were laughing
They didn’t think of anything else than love and peace
But generations failed to see that they were causing trouble for the future
They didn’t know that one single war would continue to increase

For a young band, these are very social conscience lyrics.

Oh lord, where will it end
When tomorrow is gone
Oh lord, can we stop to pretend
That we can survive in the future to come

How much freedom do we really have when our governments are spying on us and we are so busy working we haven’t got time to think or care about the loss of our liberties?

Seven Doors Hotel
A piano riff rooted in classical music kicks the song off. It’s the calm before the storm. It’s a great riff that kicks in.

Seven Doors Hotel
One of seven gates to Hell

The seven seals to open before a judgement is released or the apocalypse begins.

Do always watch out for things
That you see but don’t understand
The Devil is there always somewhere
Ready to command

In Australia and the U.S, the use of the “devil” in lyrics would have caused some controversy. However, in Europe and it’s million churches, it looked like it was accepted.

The King Will Return
Another song with roots in classical music and the Phrygian Dominant scale.

The king will return with gold in his hands

But he didn’t return alive.

Children of This Time
It’s got the gallop that Iron Maiden put to good use in “The Trooper”. Again, the overall roots of the song is inspired by classical music and the Phrygian Dominant scale.

You are the children of this time
You are the bread and the wine
You are companions ’till the end
You’ve got yourselves to defend

Another song with social conscience lyrics, that has Joey Tempest asking people to be there for each other and support each other until the end. I really dig the lead break from Norum.

There is a pretty cool review of the album over at mikeladano.com

Dokken – Breaking The Chains
I didn’t get this album in 1983. I got it in the 90’s. Dokken was another band introduced to me in 1986 via a dubbed VHS copy of their “Unchain the Night” video and to be honest it was a great introduction.

“Into the Fire”, “Alone Again” and “Just Got Lucky” from “Tooth and Nail”, “Breaking the Chains” and “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams” and “It’s Not Love” from “Under Lock and Key” all appeared on it.

I was an instant fan and I started to notice George Lynch appearing in the guitar magazines I was buying at the time. Also that year, a badly dubbed copy of “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” came my way and it interviewed people before a Dokken and Judas Priest concert.

Then “Dream Warriors” came out via the “Nightmare on Elm Street 3” movie and suddenly Dokken was on my radar of bands I needed to purchase. So my first actual purchase was the “Back For The Attack” album.

Even back in the 80’s we didn’t have any time. Lifestyles were different and we went out more than what we do today. Our music wasn’t really portable, so we didn’t take it with is. But when something great starts spreading by word of mouth, we find time. You can see how an accumulation of events via word of mouth and pirated video tapes led me to Dokken fandom. If there’s no word of mouth about your act, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Breaking The Chains
The riff is excellent and far removed from the L.A sound that was happening at the time. But what I remember most about this song is the tacky camera angles on the chain like strings on Lynch’s guitar, plus Don’s terrible lyrics.

“Breaking The Chains” had the title for another teen angst anthem however Don delivered very confused lyrics loosely based on heartbreak.

How can you take these lines seriously!!

Got this letter
Came today
From my baby
Who left me yesterday
Said she loves me
She’ll come back
She wants to try

But it was the 80’s and it was cool to be this tacky once upon a time.

In The Middle
This is more in the vein of the L.A sound.

In the middle
Of love

I dig the music, the vocal melodies, but not the choice of words.

Live To Rock (Rock To Live)
Another speed metal song. This one is written by Lynch, Croucier and Dokken.

Run out of breath
And I feel I’m moving too slow
Backwards and forwards
I don’t know which way I should go

You know the feeling. You worked hard all week and you spent so much time away from loved ones and things that you like. You get paid and nothings really paid off. Outstanding bills still remain and to top it off, your car broke down. And you ask yourself the question, “Did you live up to your promise?”

Live to rock
Rock to live
It’s all you got when
You’re down on the skids
Live to rock
Rock to live
One way or another
Survive until the end

Pop music, written by a committee of writers, rules the mainstream. But we live in a world of chaos. We have so much music on hand, we don’t where to start. Hell, we don’t even know what is out there most of the time. I dig this modern era, but in the 80’s it wasn’t like that. We had gatekeepers, self-appointed people who would act as filters. And the youth just wanted to rock. So we looked for artists who would inspire those passions.

“Live to Rock” is one of many songs that capture’s this feeling. It was an innocent era, with great ideals, before our heroes became busy chasing the dollars.

There is a reason why the 80’s produced acts who are still going strong and it’s called scarcity.

When we purchased an album, we stayed up all night listening to it. Even though it had one good song on it. Our view was, if we gave our money, we had to get a return on our investment because we knew we didn’t have any more funds to purchase new music for at least another fortnight (if we were lucky), so we had to listen to it.

Feeling it flow through my veins
Rock will never get old

Damn right. It’s always been there in the undertow. And in some era’s it’s the raging river.

Nightrider
Musically it’s excellent, but the lyrics are stupid.

In the car, slam the door, turn the key and I’ll be free
On that highway tonight

See what I mean.

Paris Is Burning
The original studio version didn’t cut it, so a “live version” was used instead. Live is not really live, as all of the tracks get re-recorded in a studio, along with the vocals. So after some doodling by Lynch that made me want to go back in time and unplug his guitar cable, good ol’ Mick Brown blasts the song off.

I don’t get the lyrics but I love the music and the vocal melodies. I just wished they used better words for the melodies.

The first two lines in the opening verse deal with getting out of his town, sort of like “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and then the verse finishes off with two lines about a woman who became so hard and cold. Check it out for yourself.

This town I’m in can’t take no more
Decadence and sin
You were my woman
Why’d you have to be so hard and cold

And then we are into a Chorus that again doesn’t make sense or have any logical flow.

Paris is burning
Want to see it from afar
Paris is burning
Want to get to where you are

But that was the 80’s and it was allowed.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Metal Loyalty

Why is it a surprise to people that heavy metal or hard rock fans are the most loyal fans?

There is a pretty good chance that every metal fan has purchased the same album, from acts they like, more than three times.

I am talking from my own experience here. I have the Crue’s Eighties albums on Cassette, LP and on CD.

In the Nineties, these albums got remastered and had some bonus tracks added to them. So I purchased them again. The same albums then got repackaged into Box Sets and guess what I did? I purchased them again.

All up, I purchased each Eighties Motley Crue album five times. Just typing it all out makes me sound silly. Now apply the same counts to Metallica, Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Bon Jovi, Europe, Cinderella, Kiss, Whitesnake, Def Leppared, Guns N Roses, Skid Row and so on.

Others call it dumb, others call it silly, however I call it loyalty. And guess what? There are millions more people out there the same as me.

Talking about the Eighties, let’s look at the year 1987. The biggest hit singles for that year according to Wikipedia are “La Bamba” from Los Lobos, “Never Gonna Give You Up” from Rick Astley, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” from Whitney Houston, “It’s A Sin” from Pet Shop Boys and “Who’s That Girl” from Madonna.

However during the year, Guns N Roses unleashed their record-breaking “Appetite For Destruction” album and Def Leppard also unleashed their own record-breaking album in “Hysteria”. Both albums are known as slow-burners, meaning that they took their time to hit it big. Something today’s know it all musicians fail to understand.

For Guns N Roses, it wasn’t until “Sweet Child O’Mine” came out as a single in August 1988 that the album really started to sell. And that was 14 months after it was released. Using the RIAA certification system as a metric for success, by August 1988, Appetite For Destruction was certified three times multi-platinum. Not bad, hey. Then “Sweet Child O’Mine” came out as a single in the same month. By December 1988, (four months later) the album was six times multi-platinum.

You see what happens when one song connects.

Continuing on, by July 1989, almost 12 months since “Sweet Child O’Mine” was released as a single and two years since the album came out, the album was certified eight times multi-platinum. Five million units were sold after “Sweet Child O’ Mine”.

For Def Leppard, it wasn’t until the “Love Bites” single came out in 1988 that the “Hysteria” album started to sell by the truckloads.

Also in 1987, Bon Jovi was still riding high from 1986’s “Slippery When Wet” album. Meanwhile, Motley Crue came out with “Girls, Girls, Girls” and U2 released “The Joshua Tree”. All three bands proved massive drawcards on the live circuit.

White Lion came out with “Pride” and surprised everyone with “Wait”. Suddenly Vito Bratta was in everyone’s lounge rooms courtesy of MTV. And because of MTV, White Lion also became a multi-platinum act.

Ozzy Osbourne paid a “Tribute” to Randy Rhoads while Kiss jumped on the Bon Jovi band wagon with “Crazy Nights”. Blues rockers Great White took the charts by storm with their “Once Bitten” album.

1987 also saw Whitesnake released their mega selling self – titled album, Heart released “Bad Animals” and the single “Alone” and Gary Moore released “Wild Frontier”.

Aerosmith also released “Permanent Vacation” signalling that their comeback was complete, while Pink Floyd did the same with “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”.

Marillion released “Clutching at Straws”, Y&T released “Contagious” and Rush released “Hold Your Fire”.

Savatage started to make a dent in the metal world with “Hall of the Mountain King” and Alice Cooper’s comeback was picking up steam with “Raise Your Fist and Yell”.

I own all of the above albums, more than once.

Metal and Rock music is a lifestyle. Metal and rock bands appealed to my belief systems. It is that lifestyle and belief system that inspires loyalty. Cultural movements have happened on the backs of metal music.

The term heavy metal in the Eighties was used a lot. A record store lumped bands with very different styles into one Metal category. I could walk into a heavy metal section of a record shop and find Bon Jovi, Metallica, Twisted Sister, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Poison, Van Halen and even Boston.

Judging by how big metal became, I guess I was not the only one that had the same belief systems. One thing that metal and rock bands did better than every other genre is the branding. Once we connected with the artists, we wanted to become to a member of the gang. We wanted to be patched in and sworn in. It was a tribe mentality.

You don’t need Spotify to know that metal fans are loyal. Looking at the releases in 1987, artists like Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Pink Floyd, Whitesnake, Heart, Rush, Y&T and Aerosmith had been around since the early Seventies. Yep, 17 years later, they still had loyal fans waiting for new music. Almost twenty years later, those same bands still have millions of fans waiting for a tour or new music. Can’t say much for Rick Astley.

Other artists like Def Leppard, Gary Moore, U2, Marillion, Great White and Motley Crue had been around since the late Seventies or early Eighties.

The reason why the loyalty of metal heads becomes part of the conversation is that us metal heads/rock heads are stereotyped as antisocial who contribute nothing to society. So how does that explain the numbers that metal and rock bands do on the live circuit, sales circuit, streaming numbers and merchandise sales. That is a lot of money that the anti-social misfits are putting into society.

As the saying goes, pop artists come and go, but metal artists remain forever. Once we are a fan of a band, we are fans for life.

I strongly believe that this metal global audience was achieved because of piracy. Illegal P2P in the early days led to bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue earning a whole new audience. Suddenly their music was available to people who couldn’t get it. Suddenly these bands who had waning careers, had new markets to hit.

Nicko from Iron Maiden summed it up the best in the Flight 666 documentary. In the documentary, Nicko was mentioning that Iron Maiden hasn’t sold any recorded music in Costa Rica, however they had a sold out show that night.

There is an article over at Mashable that is quoting from Vince Edwards, the head of publicity for Metal Blade Records.

Edwards says that to book live shows, bands need to be able to demonstrate sales, which means using Nielsen’s SoundScan. Spotify streams don’t factor into SoundScan, so any streams that take away from sales also take away from touring. Touring, he says, is “mission critical” for bands. Streams, he says, just aren’t yet incorporated into the system. “It’s such a new metric that people aren’t really sure how to measure that yet,” Edwards said.

Spotify does have some data that can be used to inform bands where it might be best to tour, but Edwards says that doesn’t help metal artists much, since they tend to play smaller venues.

“I think that’s kind of the big disconnect between our world and the mainstream world,” he said.

Seriously, you would think in this day and age that the label bosses would have figured out how to incorporate streaming or even piracy data into their analysis. Online piracy has been around since 1999 and Spotify streaming has been around since 2008. To rely on SoundScan data in 2015 is ridiculous.

Lucky for these clueless label heads that the metal fans are loyal and generate dollars for them.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The B-Sides For Engaging With Fans

Remember how cool it was to discover new bands or songs from the B-sides of singles.

Like when I purchased the “Creeping Death” single and I first heard “Am I Evil” from Diamond Head and “Blitzkrieg” from Blitzkrieg. Or picking up the Whitesnake singles to “Here I Go Again” (and hearing “Guilty Of Love), “Give Me All Your Love” (and hearing “Fool For Your Loving and Don’t Break My Heart Again”), “Is This Love” (and hearing “Bad Boys” and “Standing in the Shadow”) and “Still Of The Night” (and hearing “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”).

Europe also promoted their back catalog with the release of “The Final Countdown” single. On the B-side there was the excellent “On Broken Wings”. Def Leppard also went into the archives when they put non album tracks “Ride Into The Sun” and “I Wanna Be Your Hero” as the b-sides to “Hysteria” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” respectively.

Throughout music history, the b-side has often thrown up an extra, unexpected treat. And with technology advancing, the vinyl b-side is a thing of the past, and when CD singles started coming out, the B-side was relegated to a four song EP while the MP3 introduced the era of cherry-picking and the b-side was dead forever.

One of my favourite rock acts from Australia “Candy Harlots” had real good single releases. I still have the original 7 inch single of the Leeno Dee penned “Danger” that was with Ron Barrett (RIP), Mark Easton, Leeno Dee, Tony Cardinal and Marc DeHagar. On the B-side was the Ron Barrett penned “Wrap 2 Arms”.

Then a few years later came the “Danger” CD Single. However this time the B-side was another Ron Barrett penned song called “Hot Love Child”.

The intention of the single was for artists to double up with releasing two great songs at a time.

“The Beatles” single releases came to be known as the “Double A-sides”. In the Seventies, the second cut was even seen to overtake its a-side: “Beth” from Kiss comes to mind. It was their biggest hit and it was a b-side to “Detroit Rock City”. By the Eighties, the B-side started to become a method for releasing versions of songs that were not officially released. Some bands used demos of unreleased songs, while others used live recordings of released songs or demos of released songs. Other bands used the B-side as a way to record cover songs.

Bon Jovi took the “unreleased demos of songs plus liver versions of released songs” route initially with each single, while Metallica took the “demos of released songs plus cover songs route”. Both formats worked and fostered a connection with fans that ended up with both bands releasing  albums that celebrated their own paradigm.

Bon Jovi came out with the boxed set” 100,000,000 Fans Cant Be Wrong” which focused on the unreleased songs. They did it again with the 2014 re-issue of “New Jersey”.

Metallica brought out “Garage Inc” which further built of the culture that both bands created.

Motley Crue tried to get in on the act with their “Supersonic And Demonic Relics” release.

Just recently Machine Head did a similar concept with “Killers and Kings” and their cover of Ignite’s “Our Darkest Days”/Bleeding”. It was a creative release that had four different covers based on Tarot Cards. As a fan, I purchased all four of the covers and they are still wrapped in plastic.

Coheed and Cambria released all the demos plus a few unreleased songs as part of the Super Deluxe release for “The Afterman” releases.  We, (the fans) lapped it all up.

Those albums that I purchased, I played them over and over (especially the demo/unreleased songs). However, all that time and devotion from all the fans was not counted by any metric so the artist had no idea the engagement the fans had with those releases.

All that mattered was the flawed business model of the initial purchase.

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

Vivian Campbell Compendium

In June 2013, Vivian Campbell announced that he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In November 2013, Campbell said he was in remission from the disease. Then the cancer was back and Campbell is undergoing stem-cell treatments for it. In the meantime, Trixter’s Steve Brown will be filling in for at least four shows while Campbell undergoes treatment.

Killing Time
The first time I heard “Killing Time” was when I purchased the single for “The Unforgiven” from Metallica. So I went looking for the original band’s version which back in 1992 proved impossible. Sweet Savage was Vivian’s first band at the age of 16. The guitar styling’s included a heavy dose of Thin Lizzy with blues inspired leanings courtesy of Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck and Gary Moore with a quickened punk-escue tempo. Add to that mix the Northern Ireland upbringing of the members. Two members were Catholic and the other two were Protestants. That was Sweet Savage and with time they became seen as one of the true unsung pioneers of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

As bands from the NWOBHM started to break out and make it, Sweet Savage were still knocking on every door and exhausting all their possibilities. By 1982, Campbell knew Sweet Savage was not going to make it. Determined to make a living playing guitar, Campbell actively looked for another gig. Sweet Savage never made it big but in a way they did, they just changed their name to Metallica.

All of our heroes need to start somewhere and it was through Sweet Savage that Jimmy Bain heard Vivian play.

Rainbow In The Dark
He co-wrote “Rainbow In The Dark. 1983 was a big year for the rise of heavy metal and hard rock as a commercial force. While “Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” (which Vivian didn’t co-write) warmed up the fan base it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal. After the “Holy Diver” album went gold in the U.S., Campbell gave his father the framed gold album, which he hung proudly in his office. In relation to money, the road crew was making more than what the band was making.

The Last In Line
One year later and you are hearing another masterpiece. That guitar intro, the vocal, it’s like we were all children stepping out in the big world and never knowing if we will come home, but the magic we feel at that moment is worth a lifetime. The power of rock and roll. Once upon a time, music was the anti to the establishment. Forget the Top Forty charts, they were nearly meaningless for metal and rock bands until MTV took a stranglehold. The bands had hit songs but those hit songs lived in our hearts and minds as well as on the concert stage.

Egypt (The Chains Are On)
And the final track on album has an undeniable guitar riff. It is slow and all about the groove. And then there is Dio’s dreamy vocal. Now that is a rock star.

King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll
Another year later takes us to 1985 and this is my anthem…

Sacred Heart
The title cut off the third album, a satisfying cut that is made special by its nod to classic rock. But this was ’85, and bands like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth started making an impact. And unfortunately, the band at this time couldn’t replicate the quality of the first two records. Was it the money equity issues or something else? And when you talk about the band Dio, you talk about the classic line-up, one of the best in rock and roll.

Stars
This would burn up Spotify if released today as the whole pop market is built around telling teenagers that they are stars. It’s written by Dio, Campbell and Bain however Campbell and Bain where the initial drivers. Stupid record label politics delayed the release of the song until 1986 which diminished its impact.

Campbell has stated in numerous interviews that his departure in 1986 stemmed mostly from Ronnie’s unfulfilled promises of equity ownership in the band after the third album. It was the difference between being a salaried musician and dividing up a pool of performance revenues and royalties in the millions.

There is a YouTube clip where Ronnie James Dio says “I hope he f***** dies, he is an asshole.” Dio further goes on to tell the eager autograph hunters if they have heard some of the things that Vivian has said about him. And then Dio answers his own question, by saying that Campbell called him the most despicable human being and from listening to it, Dio believes that Campbell should be grateful because Dio believes that it was him that made Campbell a star. Basically, money is the root of all evil.

Vivian then hooked up with Whitesnake in 1987, and played on the bands most successful world tour ever. However he didn’t stay with the band because when it came time to submit music for the follow-up album to the mega successful 1987 album, Campbell saw that he was not needed. During this time the past came knocking again. Wendy Dio called to see if he was interested in joining forces with Ronnie again. However the bitter split over money still lingered and nothing eventuated. So by 1989, Campbell was out of another band. A production gig came up with Riverdogs and a Lou Gramm appearance on his solo album. The production gig led to Vivian becoming a permanent member in Riverdogs, who released an album to critical acclaim but had lacklustre support from their record label. The Lou Gramm appearance led to “Shadow King” Lou Gramm’s new band, which had limited success, and Gramm eventually returned to Foreigner.

Water From The Moon
It’s from the Riverdogs debut. It is track two on side 2 of the LP version or track number 7 on the CD. It was also the B-side to the “Toy Solider” single. You had to go deep into the album to hear it. The song is written by Vivian Campbell and Rob Lamothe. Rob Lamothe on vocals sounds like a cross between John Mellencamp, David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers.

I picked up the “Riverdogs” album along with the “Shadow King” album at a second-hand store for $4. It’s totally forgotten today. The classic line up was Rob Lamothe on vocals/guitars, Vivian Campbell on guitars and Nick Brophy on bass. It came out on EPIC Records and it fizzled out due to lack of label support. It was a big step away from the 80’s metal/glam genre and more of a nod to the gritty rock albums of the 70’s. However, the label marketed it as another hair metal album and then a week after its release they shelved it.

And of course there’s outstanding guitar playing from Vivian Campbell. Not only is the guitar playing phenomenal, it is full of emotion and feel. Also credit deserves to go to bassist Nick Brophy who stepped aside as the lead guitarist to make room for Vivian Campbell.

The only way I knew about Riverdogs in Australia was via interviews in the Guitar Magazines with Vivian Campbell. Otherwise they didn’t get on radio or any store promo whatsoever. So if people don’t know about it, how can they invest their time in it.

Shadow King came next. The members included Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, guitarist Vivian Campbell, Lou Gramm’s former Black Sheep and then future Foreigner bandmate bass player Bruce Turgon, and drummer Kevin Valentine. Bruce Turgon, was the secret ingredient, being a long-time friend of Lou and co-writer of the majority of the songs. Vivian actually co-wrote a couple of songs however the majority Lou Gramm and Bruce Turgon wrote the majority of the album. While other “supergroups” like Bad English and Damn Yankees were tearing up the charts, Shadow King got ignored. It’s a forgotten release by one of rock’s greatest vocalists.

They released a self-titled album in 1991 on Atlantic Records. Keith Olsen was on hand to produce. My other favourite tracks like “What Would it Take”, “Once Upon a Time”, “Anytime, Anywhere”, “Don’t Even Know I’m Alive”, “I Want You”, “This Heart of Stone” and “Danger in the Dance of Love” are written by Bruce Turgon and Lou Gramm.

Russia
Great acoustic playing and vocal melody – what is the lyrical message… It comes in at track 10 and it’s written by Vivian Campbell and Lou Gramm. It’s actually the only song that has a Campbell co-write.

One Dream
From 1991, a classic AOR gem. From the delayed guitar intro, to the Bad Company style verses, to the Def Leppard style choruses, the song is brilliant throughout. Add to that mix the brilliant voice of Lou Gramm and you have a classic rock song. Vivian Campbell delivers a stellar lead break as well. It’s a shame it got lost in a crap movie soundtrack. For the uninitiated it was on the “Highlander II: The Quickening” soundtrack.

Shortly afterward, Vivian Campbell announced he was leaving Shadow King to join Def Leppard. Although replacements were considered, the band members eventually went their separate ways, with Gramm and Turgon joining the reunited Foreigner in 1993.

That first year, Campbell was a salaried player. Then by the “Slang” album he became a full-fledged partner in the band.

Work It Out
“Work It Out,” is one of the more quality songs on “Slang” which came out in 1996. It’s got that cool tremolo guitar line happening throughout the start and a very heavy leaning towards a certain Scottish band called “GUN” and their song “Better Days”.

It was bittersweet. “Slang” was the first Def Leppard album that did not achieve platinum success in the U.S. It was too much in left field. Radio stations wouldn’t play Def Leppard because the songs from the new album did not sound like Def Leppard. They also wouldn’t play the old songs because they represented the ’80s.

Truth
It’s also a Vivian Campbell composition. The album version has nothing on the demo version. That is where it was at. It rocked and it rolled. Great guitar intro, but that overall industrial drum sound just doesn’t sit right with me. Then the whole Eastern Arabic lead break and breakdown reminds of “The Tea Party” which is a cool connection.

The “Slang” album was quickly forgotten. The ’90s was a tough time for all the Eighties rock bands. Some broke up and some just gave up music all together.

To Be Alive
The band’s next record, “Euphoria,” went gold in the U.S. It featured Campbell’s song, “To Be Alive,” from his solo band, “Clock” and their album “Through Time”, and a return to their signature sound. It’s got beautiful guitar playing and that classic major key feel from songs like “Two Steps Behind” and “Hysteria”. Great ballad and great lyrics. The songwriters are listed as Vivian Campbell and P.J. Smith.

Paper Sun
It’s 1999 and the recording business is in the throes of Limp Bizkit, Britney Spears and every other act that didn’t have roots in the Eighties. This is a song that just screams “HEAR ME”. It is a forgotten Def Leppard classic. From start to finish it is a masterpiece. It’s written by Vivian Campbell, Phil Collen, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and producer Pete Woodroffe.

Guilty
Up tempo derivative version of “Hysteria” merged with “Animal”. It is written by Phil Collen, Rick Savage, Joe Elliott, Vivian Campbell and Pete Woodroffe

Day After Day
Another forgotten Def Leppard gem. How good is that break down riff before the solo and then that solo is a nice little song within a song composition. This one is written by Phil Collen, Joe Elliott and Vivian Campbell.

Then came “X” and outside hit makers were brought in, but unfortunately the vocal melodies just didn’t do justice to the excellent music. When I picked up X with the black background cover and the white X, I had in my head that it would sound something like Bad Company’s self-titled debut, as I was really hoping that Joe Elliot would try to push his voice in more of a Paul Rodgers/John Mellencamp direction. It wasn’t to be.

“Songs from the Sparkle Lounge” was done rather quickly compared to Def Leppard standards and it stands as a favourite of Viv’s. However it is another forgettable album. The Vivian Campbell cut “Gotta Let It Go” has a cool and very heavy “Have A Nice Day” chorus.

Vivian Campbell still has more to say, so here’s to a speedy recovery.

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Music

Bands Will Have That One Big Product, and Then They Will Write Some Sequels To It

There is a story over at the NewYorker from a while back about the One Hit Wonder known as “Candy Crush Saga”.

As we all know by now millions upon millions of people around the world play Candy Crush Saga.

– It is a free download and it has been downloaded over half a billion times.

– A person can play the game for free.

– However, certain users of the game are willing to pay for extra lives and various performance boosting tools while the other users are happy to remain on the game without paying for any extras.

– The Irish company “King Digital Entertainment” who is the maker of the game had close to two billion dollars in sales, with a pure profit margin of $567 million.

It seems like there is a lot of money to be made if there is a freemium option available especially if you have a star product to push.

King Digital has over a hundred different games that are available, however it is Candy Crush that brings in the money. It is King Digital’s “star product”.

Even in music, bands normally have hundreds of other songs or countless albums in existence, however it is that one star product that they are known for, except for the few great acts who would have multiple star products.

Metallica had “Master Of Puppets” and “The Black” album.

Motley Crue had “Shout At The Devil” and “Dr Feelgood”.

Dream Theater had “Images and Words” and “Scenes For A Memory”.

Machine Head had “Burn My Eyes” and “The Blackening”.

AC/DC had “Back In Black”.

Def Leppard had “Pyromania” and “Hysteria”.

Ronnie James Dio was a true legend by having a few star products in different acts. First off was Rainbow then Black Sabbath and then as a solo artist with “Holy Diver”.

Kingdom Come had their self titled debut.

Skid Row had “Slave To The Grind”.

Bon Jovi had “Slippery When Wet”.

Twisted Sister had “Stay Hungry”.

RATT had “Out Of The Cellar”.

Quiet Riot had “Metal Health”.

Ozzy Osbourne had “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “No More Tears” as a solo artist.

The world of heavy metal and hard rock contains many more examples. In the end luck plays a huge part in breaking music to the masses.

And as the article eludes too, most new products fail in general. In the music industry, the failure rate of new music is amplified and as it is an industry that faces a lot of competition between the acts alone.

And as with everything that rises it eventually falls. The true greats pick themselves up and rise again, while the ones in it for the money just fade away. Check out this quote;

“Typically, companies will have that one big product, and then they’ll sell some sequels to it. But, unless they manage to become the center of an ecosystem, over time they tend to weaken and disappear.”
By Michael Cusumano, a professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management

There is a lot of truth in that.

Remember when Bon Jovi rewrote “Slippery When Wet” and called it “New Jersey”.

Or when bands rewrote their main hit song over and over again trying hard to recapture the success

Music is a competitive, hit-driven industry and there is no guaranteed recipe for success. But in order to give it a shot you need to know how to play your instrument and you need to practice your songwriting skills.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

What Happened to The Guitar Riff?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

Like a true champion it rises up from the canvas. That sound through glass tubes and cones made from paper. What can beat it?

To quote Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

Try as the trend setters might to eliminate distortion, the power chord and it’s many different versions remain unique. The human feel of a guitar is the essential element that makes a song unique and intimate enough to form a connection with a listener. You don’t see people growing up wanting to be clarinet and flute players.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar;

Dire Straits – “Brothers In Arms”
Stryper – “To Hell With The Devil”
Def Leppard – “On Through The Night”
AC/DC – Take your pick of the many classic album covers that involve Angus and his trusty Gibson SG.
The Cult – “Sonic Temple”
Van Halen – “Women And Children First”
Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
Jeff Beck – “Guitar Shop”
MSG – “Built To Destroy”
Boston – The self titled debut and “Dont Look Back” covers are iconic.

At the moment, the number 1 hits around the world are “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and Happy by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

It is not the main instrument in popular culture anymore.

The guitar is disappearing from popular culture.

So what happened.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we can play air guitar to.

Commercial sensibilities are trumping artistic sensibilities.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff. For those who don’t know what the “der, der der” is, it is “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album. And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

Machine Head nailed it with “Be Still and Know” and “Unto The Locust”. But because of their niche, popular culture would never even know about it. Too ignorant to care.

Maybe it is the downtuning. Maybe it is the speed. Maybe it is the focus on the melody to be catchy.

One thing is certain, there are no riff driven songs, with a great hook doing 100,000,000 streams on Spotify. All of those numbers belong to Imagine Dragons, Avici, Daft Punk and a whole host of EDM artist and pop artists that have songs written by Max Martin.

And one last thing, for all the doubters that Spotify is hurting artists.

Check out this story.

Yep an independent artist that uses Tunecore as its digital distributor has earned from September 2010 to November 2013, $334,636 for over 57 million plays. It’s easy money earned by people listening to his music on a consistent basis. It’s that simple. It’s that pure. We create music so people can listen to it. First and foremost. And Spotify along with YouTube are here, telling the creators which songs are being listened too.

Isn’t that a great thing.

But hey, Spotify doesn’t pay artists said the old guard. Bullshit I say.

Spotify pays. It pays well. It is the record labels that don’t filter it down to the artists. It is the same old argument like before of Record labels not paying artists.

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