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

The Record Vault: Dio – Sacred Heart

“Sacred Heart” is album number three.

By know Vivian Campbell was an unhappy camper. From his point of view he was promised a larger piece of the pie and that wasn’t forthcoming. Plus he had an issue with the publishing. So it’s no surprise that this is the last album to include Vivian Campbell, who Dio fired midway through the tour, replacing him with Craig Goldy.

Released on August 13, 1985, almost a year after “The Last In Line”, it wasn’t just competing against all the other new releases from other artists, it was competing against the previous two Dio albums. It wasn’t a smart decision from Warner Bros.

The band for the album is the classic line up, known as Ronnie James Dio on lead vocals, Vivian Campbell on guitars, Jimmy Bain on bass, Claude Schnell on keyboards and Vinny Appice on drums.

The King Of Rock And Roll

How can you not like this song, fake crowd noise or not?

Campbell’s riffs are excellent to play, Dio’s melodies rock, Bain rumbles and Vinny Appice powers all over this.

Bad boy always on the cover gettin’ the story told

It could have been about anyone in the rock business. By 1985, a lot of bad boys graced the cover of magazines.

He’s got the midnight madness / he’s got a soul
’cause he’s the king of rock and roll / king of rock and roll

I used to keep my own book of rhymes before I realised that a rhyming dictionary existed. Well, Dio albums and most hard rock and metal albums provided plenty of source material.

Sacred Heart

The riff sounds epic on this and the keys from Schnell enhance it. But its Vinny Appice on the drums that turns this song into a powerhouse. The mix is perfect and I’m drawn to the groove of the drums.

Plus the lead break from Campbell is different from his earlier albums, better phrasing.

Oh running into nowhere turning like a wheel and a year becomes a day

Truth right there. Without a plan, the days just slip away.

Whenever you dream you’re holding the key it opens the door to let you be free yeah

Infinite possibilities when you let your imagination run wild. Why do you think mindfulness and meditation is so massive?

Another Lie

Its more blues rock but Campbell decorates a simple blues groove with pedal points and diads and suddenly it sounds like heavy metal.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Children

Does anything else think that “Shot In The Dark” from Ozzy sounds like this?

Anyway, it’s a melodic rock anthem with a killer Campbell lead break.

Rock ‘N’ Roll children alone again
Rock ‘N’ Roll children without a friend but they got rock’n’roll

Damn right.

As much as rock and roll lyrics are about parties, most fans of the music spent a lot of time alone with it, and the music was a form of escapism.

Hungry For Heaven

The solo break from Campbell on this is excellent.

So just hold on
You can make it happen for you
Reach for the stars and you will fly

It’s the same message as in other songs. You are responsible for your success, so what are you waiting for.

Like The Beat Of A Heart

It’s an inferior re-write of “One Night In The City” but still a good listen, especially the outro riff and groove.

There’s a beast that lives inside you and it’s screaming to get out

Just Another Day

Its “King Of Rock And Roll” part 2, and I like it. The riffs are excellent, while Bain and Appice hammer out an energetic foundation.

The guitar arpeggios after the solo.

Fallen Angels

The blues rock riffs on this just don’t get the credit they deserve.

Remember that the evil will rule / it’s waiting outside / bringing’ pain / for you fallen angels

Shoot Shoot

An AC/DC style cut.

Yes you know the feeling all alone your back to the wall
And all the doorways are starting to close in front of you

It’s more of the same that we are responsible for our own journey and that it all starts with us.

The high points on the album are definitely “Sacred Heart”, “King Of Rock And Roll”, “Rock N Roll Children” and “Hungry For Heaven”.

But like all Dio albums there is a little bit of everything in the other songs.

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The Record Vault: Dio – The Last In Line

The Vinyl Cover
The Cassette Cover.

Did anyone else think that the Dio logo upside down spelled Devil?

I did.

“The Last In Line” was my first Dio purchase and I played the cassette a lot. There isn’t a song I don’t like on it and if you want an introduction to Dio, then this is the album to sink your teeth into. Vivian’s guitar work also became very influential to me.

To this day, I still have the original cassette.

But I cannot locate the LP and the CD which I purchased much later on. As part of my many house moves I lost a lot of music.

The band is the same as the “Holy Diver” album with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Vivian Campbell on guitars, Jimmy Bain on bass and Vinny Appice on drums.

We Rock

How good is the Intro?

Appice is working away on that snare while Campbell plays the A minor pedal point riff.

And that solo from Vivian Campbell is perfect. It’s fast and melodic and it has a bluesy feel with doublestop bends and pentatonic licks.

The best part is the outro chorus when Vivan is playing the Am pedal point riff and the chords change from Am to F under it via Jimmy Bain whole Dio is ad libbing his vocals and Appice is driving the song home.

You can’t get better at that.

On Spotify it’s got 22 million streams.

The Last In Line

Sitting at 33.2 million Spotify streams.

That fingerpicked intro.

How good is the section when Dio holds the “home” vocal note and the band comes crashing in around him with an epic “Kashmir” like groove.

And the stop start music in the verse so the vocal melody is the centerpiece, goes to show how a strong melody can carry a song.

“Well know for the first time if were evil or divine” is one of the best lines Dio has put to paper.

For so many of us we live a life which we think we’ve done good and when it comes to judgement at the pearly gates, the almighty one might have other views.

Breathless

If the sound of a person being breathless in the intro isn’t enough to get you interested, then that groovy riff that kicks in will do it.

Dio’s strength (apart from his voice and good business sense) was the addition of a young guitarist that resonated with the youth and all the new young shredders who wanted to make their mark in Hard Rock and Metal.

Even though they parted ways bitterly, the three albums Dio did with Vivian set up Dio’s solo career, in the same way the two albums Ozzy did with Randy Rhoads set up Ozzy’s solo career.

Check out Campbell’s solo on this and the snare work from Appice to come out of the solo.

One other thing that I always enjoyed with Dio songs is Dio’s ability to ad lib in the Outro.

I Speed At Night

A speed metal song before speed metal became a thing or a genre. If you don’t believe me, then press play on this song.

If the riff sounds familiar, it should. It’s “Stand Up And Shout” re-imagined.

And that solo again from Vivian. It’s perfect.

One Night In The City

The music is head banging material for a song that introduces a dark child called Johnny, who was promised but seemed to get into trouble and then found some form of love.

Did you get that?

Cool. I’m still confused.

And what about the drum fills from Appice after the solo and into the outro.

Who said drummers are not important?

I can even air play the fills.

Evil Eyes

They promise you treasure if you fly and fly Dio did. It’s a perfect combination of fast blues and metal.

And Campbell again steals the spotlight with his guitar hero solo.

Mystery

It’s in the key of Dm and it moves between major and minor keys throughout like F major in the chorus and D minor in the verses.

The Intro has moments of “Rainbow In The Dark”.

And Vivian is on form again in the guitar solo department.

Eat Your Heart Out

In the key of Em and Vivian is all over this one. From a guitar point of view there is a lot to unpack in the riffs department.

And for the guitar solo, what can I say. Vivian kicks it off with a tapping lick before blazing into some arpeggios and finishing it all off with some pentatonic lines.

It might not be Dio’s most famous song but it’s a guitar players delight.

Egypt (The Chains Are On)

The best track on the album for me and the drumming from Vinnie Appice is excellent under the epic and groovy guitar riff.

The verse riff is basically the feel of “Heaven And Hell” and Dio references his singing style from the same song in the verses.

I love the lyric line, “when the world was milk and honey”. Dio puts it out there that the world was nice and sweet once upon a time and so far removed from the warmongering, greed and ills that came after. For singer well known for introducing the Devil horns salute, his lyrics are influenced by the Bible.

Did I mention that Appice lays down some serious groove?

Well he does. It’s so effective, so simple and fucking frightening.

And in the outro, Vivian plays the intro riff and the Jimmy Bain changes the chords under it, like in “We Rock” and it’s brilliant.

This is a band in form and on top of their game. Vinny Appice on the drums is an unsung hero on this.

For such an influential album in hard rock and heavy metal circles it’s certifications are at platinum for US sales.

By the end of the album I was doing the Devil horns. \::/

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The Record Vault: Dio – Holy Diver

I got “The Last In Line” album first (on cassette) and then went back to “Holy Diver”.

Ronnie James Dio success came from hard work and a commitment to stay the course. A true lifer in the music business.

Check out his release schedule.

Elf’s self-titled debut was released in 1972, “Carolina Country Ball” in 74 and “Trying To Burn The Sun” in 75.

Also in 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s “Rainbow” was released, “Rising” in 76, “On Stage” in 77 and “Long Live Rock N Roll” in 78.

With Black Sabbath, “Heaven and Hell” came out in 1980, “Mob Rules” in 81 and “Live At Last” in 82.

By 1983, the “Holy Diver” release would be his 11th album in 11 years. An album I have on vinyl and CD.

And it’s funny how artists today are complaining that streaming services are forcing em to release more albums frequently but that’s how it was done, especially prior to MTV.

The band that Dio assembled involved some experienced players in Jimmy Bain on bass and Vinnie Appice on drums and an unknown youngster called Vivian Campbell on guitar, who was recommended to Dio by Bain after he saw Campbell tearing up the stage with Sweet Savage, his NWOBHM band that was struggling to get a record deal. Their song “Killing Time” would become another Metallica cover, used as a B side for one of the Black album singles.

Jake E Lee also auditioned but he missed out, only to get the Ozzy gig soon after.

Stand Up And Shout

You’ve got the power, stand up and shout

The opening song and it’s a call to arms right off the bat.

Written before Vivian Campbell joined the band, the opening riff has appeared in a lot of songs. I did a post called “The One Riff To Rule Them All”.

It’s fast and energetic.

Lyrically the song deals with breaking away from conformity.  It was the same theme that Twisted Sister sold millions of albums on.

It’s the same old song
You gotta be somewhere at sometime
And they’ll never let you fly

The mysterious “they” could be your teachers, employers, leaders, mortgage brokers or some other entity/establishment holding you back.

You are the driver
You own the road
You are the fire — go on, explode

Damn right, we are our own driver but how many can truly say we made decisions without any influence from others.

Holy Diver

The lead single, sitting at 130.6 million streams on Spotify.

It’s “Heaven And Hell” re-cut in a new way.

How good is that groove from Appice and Bain under the iconic riff?

Vocally, Dio is fantastic and the guitar solo from Campbell is shredalicious.

Foo Fighters used it in the pre-chorus of their song “Something From Nothing”.

Gypsy

“LA Connection” comes to mind.

And the solo from Campbell is a standout.

Caught In The Middle

As soon as the opening chords ring out I was all in.

Looking inside of yourself
You might see someone you don’t know
Maybe it’s just what you need
Letting the river in you flow

And the song goes verse and pre, then verse and pre, so when the Chorus comes in it’s well worth the wait.

You’re caught in the middle
Just like the way you’ve always been
Caught in the middle
Helpless again

And how good is Dio’s ad-libing in the outro.

Don’t Talk To Strangers

The acoustic Intro. It’s enough for me to like it.

And the song percolates for a minute before the speed metal riff kicks in. If that fast riff sounds familiar, it should as they reused it again for “We Rock”.

This style of songwriting would also be used to perfection with “The Last In Line”.

The lead break is one of my favorites. It goes on for a while but I wanted it to go on longer.

And the song is then back to the acoustic intro before the speed metal “We Rock” riff kicks in to close it out.

Straight Through The Heart

I like the groove on this and the lead break from Campbell is another killer, especially towards the end of it when he harmonizes.

Invisible

A rewrite of “Straight Through The Heart”.

It wasn’t doing anything for me and then at 2.28, this Heaven and Hell like groove kicked in and Campbell is soloing over it and I’m playing air guitar to it and head banging.

Rainbow In The Dark

Sitting at 107.7 million streams on Spotify.

“Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” warmed up the fan base but it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal.

Dio is using the term rainbow as an analogy for a “light” in the dark.

Shame On The Night

The song is like “Sign of The Southern Cross”.

But it’s the ascending outro that rocks. I’m ready to take up arms and go to war.

This album unleased a new guitar hero in Vivian Campbell. But he would go on to leave the band bitterly. Only to join Whitesnake as a touring guitarist, then leave when David Coverdale told him he only wanted to write with Adrian Vandenberg, to Shadow King and then Riverdogs, before grabbing the Def Leppard gig in the 90’s.

Dio also knew how long an album should be.

“Heaven And Hell” is 39 minutes long and “Mob Rules” is 40 minutes. “Holy Diver” is at 42 minutes.

You don’t need 60 to 90 minutes’ worth of new music to be released at one time every two to three years. People don’t have spare hours. They have spare minutes. Release 30 to 40 minutes of new music on a frequent basis.

And Ronnie James Dio did exactly just that.

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1996 – Part 2.4: Dio – Angry Machines

“Angry Machines” came out in 1996.

By now, Dio’s glorious 80’s highs ceased to be. He was already struggling during the “Dream Evil” and “Lock Up The Wolves” eras. Even though fans like those albums, they didn’t translate commercially and the label was not happy.

His return to Black Sabbath was inevitable and with “Dehumanizer”, they released a critically acclaimed album, which the hard core Dio and Sabbath audience liked, but the same old issues of playing second fiddle to Ozzy reared its head again and Dio left, as he didn’t want to be an opening act to Ozzy.

“Strange Highways” came out in 1993 and it was well received by the hard core fans, but there wasn’t a mainstream market for 90’s Dio, let alone a 90’s Dio trying to sound relevant.

My mate, “Nick The Stick” (6ft 4 of just bones) worshipped at the altar of Dio and he burnt me a copy of this. I didn’t listen to it right away, because I had lost interest in Dio at this point in time.

Apart from Ronnie James Dio on vocals, the band is Tracy Grijalva (a.k.a. Tracy G) on guitars, Jeff Pilson on bass, Vinny Appice on drums and Scott Warren on keys.

Most reviews I have read cited this album as carrying grunge like influences, however, it is more groove metal (think Pantera) and progressive metal than a hard rock artist attempting to add Grunge influences to their sound.

And most artists who had successful careers in the 80’s didn’t really know what metal sounded like in the 90’s.

In the 80’s everything with a distorted guitar was classed as metal. Then by the mid 80’s, different genres started to come out. By the 90’s, bands advertised as metal didn’t even sing in clean tone anymore. Suddenly Black Sabbath sounded like a pop band compared to the metal bands of the 90’s, but in the 70’s Sabbath was seen as an “extreme” metal act.

On “Angry Machines”, there isn’t a perfect song or a great song or a good song. There are good bits in the songs.

“Institutional Man”

Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G. Dio sounds uninspired and tired. But the biggest problem is the lack of good riffs.

In saying that, the verse riff would sink “Sad But True” for heaviness and in between the verses, there is this chromatic riff which came from the fingers of Iommi and the song “Buried Alive”.

“Don’t Tell the Kids”

Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G, it’s speed metal, done in a 90’s Pantera way.

“Black”

Written by Dio, Tracy G, Appice and Jeff Pilson. On my initial first listen, I was ready to press stop. I didn’t like it. It was to atonal.

Hearing it again today, I like it for what it is. A way to keep Dio relevant. It’s got this E7#9 sounding shape in the intro riff which makes it sound almost progressive in its song writing.

Tracy G. shines in the lead department here.

“Hunter of the Heart”

Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G, this song has potential.

The bass grooves to start it off are worthy, very Sabbath sludge like. When the band crashes in, it’s head banging time. The verse riff’s remind me of songs from the “Dream Evil” album.

“Stay Out of My Mind”

It again showcases Pilson’s strength as a songwriter (he is solely credited), bringing in psychedelic rock and heavy metal influences into this.

And in the middle, it’s almost theatre “Andrew Lloyd Weber” like.

Check out the outro, it’s like “She’s So Heavy” from The Beatles getting a 90’s makeover.

It could have used some editing, but… it is what it is.

“Big Sister”

It starts off with a vocal line that says, “Who controls your mind?”

Written by Dio, Tracy G., Appice and Pilson, this is when Big Brother turns into Big Sister, and you are given a number and another name, while others watch what you do.

If you like Tool, then you will like the Tool like riffs between 3.20 and 3.40.

“Double Monday”

Written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G.

Check out the awesome acoustic guitar mid-section. It’s only 30 seconds long, but totally worth the listening experience.

“Golden Rules”

It starts off eerie like, as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is played on a music box. The song is written by Appice, Dio and Tracy G.

It then has a chugging riff and drum groove which kicks in and I like it.

“Dying in America”

Written by Dio, Tracy G., Appice and Pilson. They delivered a nice piece of groove metal.

“This Is Your Life”

Its written by Dio and Tracy G and it’s more Beatles like. The track remained ignored, only to be noticed after Dio’s death.

If you haven’t heard this album, there is no reason to go out and invest time into it. It’s not classic Dio. People claim he sold out, but he didn’t sell out chasing trends, he just didn’t know what metal was meant to sound like, so he went in and tried to create something different.

P.S.

For an album that did terrible commercially, it put Dio on the road from November 1996 to November 1997. There was a U.S leg, a European leg, another U.S leg, a Canadian leg, a Japanese leg and finally a South American leg.

The venue sizes ranged from 400 people to 3000 people and Dio had quite a few sellouts.

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2000 – Part 5

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip

Five years after “Ballbreaker” they return with the very underrated “Stiff Upper Lip”.

The title track starts off like blues band jamming at the local pub and then the romp and stomp kick in.

How good is “House Of Jazz”?

That riff groove is so sleazy and foot stomping.

And “Safe In New York City” has this E to G, E to A and E to B flat style chord progression that reminds me of the “Tommy Gunn” riff, but the song vibe is like “Let There Be Rock”.

“Satellite Blues” is an underrated gem in the AC/DC canon.

And its towards the back of the album that it gets bluesy and dirty with “Damned” and “Come And Get It” being excellent additions. Listen to those sharp 7 and flat 9 chords in the Pre Chorus.

“All Screwed Up” is 5 minutes of blues rock while “Give It Up” is a rewrite of “Highway To Hell” but it stands on its own.

Not as big as other albums in sales but it got em on the road again, which is the place that AC/DC rule.

Axel Rudi Pell – The Masquerade Ball

He was labelled a Malmsteen clone, but if anything, he’s more in the mould of German guitarists like Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth, along with Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker with a nod to the British rockers of the 70’s which involves, Paul Kossoff from Free, Jimmy Page from Led Zep, Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow and Mick Ralphs plus Jimi Hendrix who is from the US but went to the UK to make it.

Johnny Gioeli is on vocals as well.

And the album is not on Spotify Australia, but it’s on YouTube which pays less.

“Earls Of Black” and that intro lead break. Check it out.

“Voodoo Nights” sounds like “Big City Nights” from Scorpions. Plus Gioeli delivers a vocal performance.

“The Black Masquerade” at 10 minutes doesn’t get boring (especially the violins in the Chorus) while “Tear Down The Walls” reminds me of his other songs like “Warrior” and a melodic lead break after the Chorus.

Scorpions – Moment Of Glory

And this album is also not on Spotify Australia. It’s Scorpions with the Berliner Philharmoniker. It was meant to be Michael Kamen scoring it, but then left to pursue the Metallica project.

“Hurricane 2000” kicks it off, which is basically “Rock You Like A Hurricane” about a bitch being hungry and how Klaus is going to feed her inches and feed her well.

“Crossfire” really kicks in to overdrive when the “Crossfire” section starts. If your not ready to take up swords and go to war than you’re too uptight.

“Deadly Sting Suite” is also an instrumental merging the Scorpions songs, “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man” with “Dynamite”. And it’s done brilliantly.

And the concert ends with “Still Loving You”, “Big City Nights” and “Lady Starlight”. “Big City Nights” is pretty impressive.

The Berlin Philharmoniker really does a great job with it, and how good are the backing vocalists and the symphonic/choir vocalists.

Black Label Society – Stronger Than Death

The title alone makes me laugh and it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Killed By Death”.

Zakk Wylde wrote all the songs, played all the guitars, did all the vocals and also played the bass and piano. Plus he produced it as well. And mixed and mastered it.

“All For You” has basically a riff which the NuMetal movement “used to death”, but Zakk makes it sound “shiny metal fresh”.

“Phoney Smiles And Fake Hellos” is a favourite.

And he went back to the world of “Miracle Man” for the lyrical inspiration on “Counterfeit God” and when the verse riff kicks in, its down tuned and “heavier than death”.

“Just Killing Time” is those Zakk tunes on the piano and delivering a CCR like vocal.

“Stronger Than Death” is a slow dirge, full of grooves, but interchangeable with a few of the other tracks on this album and “Love Reign Down” closes the album, another groove riff laden cut

Mr Big – Get Over It

I heard this album many years after it came out. I was even surprised the band was still recording after “Bump Ahead” which was released in 1993. And I had to see who was still in the band, because I knew Paul Gilbert left to do Racer X again.

So Eric Martin still wails away and on this one, he is very bluesy, sort of like the Badlands second album. On guitars this time around is Richie Kotzen, with Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey rounding out the rhythm section.

Songwriter Marti Frederiksen is called in and while the bluesy tunes are nice to listen to, they start to become repetitive. Interchangeable in fact.

I suppose I was over it by then.

Dio – Magica

Ronnie James Dio had enough goodwill in my book to warrant eternal fandom. But I didn’t really get into his 90’s output after “Dehumanizer”.

But many years later in the 2000’s (and after Heaven And Hell released “The Devil You Know” album) I started to listen and “Magica” was first because I was always a sucker for a concept album.

The band is a good one for the release with Simon Wright on drums, Jimmy Bain on bass and Craig Goldy on guitars.

“Lord Of The Last Day” is classic Dio, merging his Sabbath time with the dirgy “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” groove.

“Fever Dreams” instantly became a favourite because its riff reminds me of “Dream Evil” and “Long Live Rock N Roll”.

“Challs” is one of the characters in the story and the song is a blues rock groove blended with melodic rock and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. Maybe because it also sounds like the songs from “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” album, like “Rainbow In The Dark” mixed with “Dream Evil”.

“As Long As It’s Not About Love” has this Hendrix “Little Wing” style intro and a haunting vocal line from Dio before it gets into the dirge like groove similar to “Sign Of The Southern Cross” from his Sabbath days.

“Losing My Insanity” is pirate metal and I like it.

“Otherworld” has this Middle Eastern riff, distorted and fuzzed. The riff makes me want to pick up the guitar to learn it. And Dio is telling his stories.

If you like Dio in the 80’s, then you will like this album. There is enough there to keep you interested.

Off to 1985, for Part 5.

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Jeff Pilson Talks

Blabbermouth always has clickbait headlines that hook me in. If I was a fish, I would have been someone’s dinner a long time ago. This story is from April 2020, and I’ve had it sitting there to write a blog post on.

“If there’s one record for me with DOKKEN, it would be the ‘Tooth And Nail’ [1984] record, just because we were still very hungry.

It’s a pretty raw record, but there’s a lot of great writing on there. It’s not the best-sounding record we ever did, sonically. We kind of changed horses in the middle of the stream, so we had to do some damage control, sonically.

But there’s something about it that’s very real and it’s very hungry, like I said. There’s energy and angst in that record that we never quite matched again. So that’s probably the record I’m most proud of, but there’s [other] great ones.”
Jeff Pilson

Changing horses in the middle is another word for changing producers because one bailed (Tom Werman) due to the aggressive wrestling and punching between two band members. So others (Roy Thomas Baker and Michael Wagener) got brought in to finish off the recording as producer and mixer.

On “Tooth And Nail”, Pilson is a co-writer on all of the 10 tracks and he is the true unsung hero of this album, the glue between George Lynch and Don Dokken. And if you listen to the album, you will hear speed metal (“Tooth And Nail” and “Turn On The Action”, heavy metal (“Don’t Close Your Eyes”, “When Heaven Comes Down” and “Bullets To Spare”), hard rock (“Just Got Lucky” and “Heartless Heart”), ballads (“Alone Again”) and mixtures of all those styles in (“Into The Fire”).

“We did a record in 1999 called ‘Erase The Slate’ that I was actually very, very proud of, with Reb Beach on guitar. A fabulous record.

Then there was a DIO record that I did called ‘Strange Highways’ [1993] that I still think was just a hugely underrated record, because when it came out, people were expecting a more traditional DIO record, and I think over time, people have come to appreciate it more.

But that was such an inspired period, and working with Ronnie [James Dio] at that point was such a game changer for me. And the chemistry of that band and the writing chemistry that we had was so powerful and I still think ‘Strange Highways’ really holds up.”
Jeff Pilson

“Erase The Slate” is a perfect comeback album for Dokken after the terrible “Shadowlife” album they did with George Lynch. Reb Beach gave the band an injection it really needed and with all of the songs written by the four dudes in the band, my favourites are “Erase The Slate”, “Change The World”, “Maddest Hatter” and “Voice Of The Soul”.

Meanwhile George Lynch went from bad to even worse with his reboot of Lynch Mob into a nu-metal rap act. I purchased it, listened to it and never played it again.

“It’s a crazy world we live in and I’m leaving it today”
From Strange Highways

It sure is crazy. The protests happening in the U.S and now other parts of the world, all under the cloud of a pandemic show just how crazy and desperate it is. Time will tell how all of this plays out. Then again, history is always written by the winners, so…

“Strange Highways” released in 1993 from Dio is a heavy comeback album. I guess the time Dio spent with Black Sabbath and the “Dehumanizer” album brought out a more heavier approach. And Pilson again rises to the occasion with 9 co-writes on this album out of 11 tracks. But the surprise to me was Tracy G on guitars, who co-write the music on all of the 11 tracks. I had heard of his WWIII project from 1990 and seen the ads in the music mags, but never heard any music from it.

A soccer mate, “Nick The Stick”, was (and still is) a mad Dio fan, so he dubbed the CD on a cassette for me as I wasn’t sure I was back on the Dio train. I enjoyed “Lock Up The Wolves” (1990) and “Dehumanizer” (1992) so I don’t know why I wasn’t interested in a new Dio album. But I do know that my musical tastes were developing and looking for different ways and styles to learn and incorporate into hard rock.

The search for something different was linked to my journey as a practicing guitar player. It’s a big reason why “Images and Words” from Dream Theater (1992), “Undertow” from Tool (1993) and “Promised Land” from Queensryche (1994) resonated with me.

Do the crime, then write the law, there’s no wrong, you can change it
From Here’s To You

It sure seems that way. The people in power and their advisors keep breaking the laws and then after a few years they are in a position of power to write new laws. The GFC villains/architects all went on college speaking tours, while millions around the world lost their homes.

And the purpose of this post was to bring back some great albums that an artist holds up high. Plus it’s always cool to hear and read interviews from artists who talk about their previous works.

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1984 – III – Are We Evil Or Divine?

Music television was everywhere which meant music in general was everywhere and since we had so much access than what we had before, it was no surprise that certain styles started to become popular.

At the time I was looking for a sound, a look and a feel that resonated and I wasn’t the only one. But some times great songs came from artists that didn’t have the metal look so in my head there was a war going on.

Should the LPs of Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Bryan Adams and U2 just to name a few artists be standing side by side with Dio, WASP, Motley Crue and so forth.

In the end, a great song is a great song and I’m content I didn’t succumb to peer pressure. Even to this day I still cop shit for having Madonna next to Metallica, Motley Crue, Marillion, Molly Hatchet, MSG and Megadeth.

Anyway here is the playlist and here are the previous 1984 reviews to date.

Part 1

Part 2

Dio – The Last in Line

Did anyone else think that the Dio logo upside down spelled Devil?

I did.

“The Last In Line” was my first Dio purchase and I played this album to death. There isn’t a song I don’t like on it and if you want an introduction to Dio, then this is the album to sink your teeth into. And Vivian’s guitar work at the time became very influential to me.

To this day, I still have the original cassette, plus the LP and the CD which I purchased much later on.

We Rock

The key of A minor gets a good work out on “We Rock”.

And that solo from Vivian Campbell is perfect. It’s fast and melodic and it has a bluesy feel with doublestop bends and pentatonic licks.

The best part is the outro chorus when Vivan is playing the riff and the chords change from Am to F under it and Dio is ad libbing his vocals in the outro.

You can’t get better at that.

The Last In Line

That fingerpicked intro.

Man, that’s what I call music and when Dio holds the “home” vocal note and the band comes crashing in around him with an epic Kashmir like groove.

Well what can I say?

And the stop start music in the verse so the vocal melody is the centerpiece, goes to show how a strong melody can carry a song.

“Well know for the first time if were evil or divine” is one of the best lines Dio has put to paper.

For so many of us we live a life which we think we’ve done good and when it comes to judgement at the pearly gates, the almighty one might might have other views.

Breathless

If the sound of a person being breathless in the intro isn’t enough to get you interested, then that groovy riff that kicks in will do it.

Dio’s strength (apart from his voice and good business sense) was the addition of a young guitarist that resonated with the youth and all the new young shredders who wanted to make their mark in Hard Rock and Metal.

And even though they parted ways bitterly, the three albums Dio did with Vivian set up Dio’s solo career, in the same way the two albums Ozzy did with Randy Rhoads set up Ozzy’s solo career.

One other thing that I always enjoyed with Dio songs is Dio’s ability to ad lib in the Outro.

I Speed At Night

A speed metal song before speed metal became a thing or a genre. If you don’t believe me, then press play on this song.

And that solo again from Vivian. It’s fucking perfect.

One Night In The City

The music is fucking head banging material for a song that introduces a dark child called Johnny, who was promised but seemed to get into trouble and then found some form of love.

Did you get that?

And what about the drum fills from Appice after the solo and into the outro.

Who said drummers are not important?

I can even air play the fills.

Evil Eyes

They promise you treasure if you fly and fly Dio did. It’s a perfect combination of fast blues and metal.

Mystery

It’s in the key of Dm and it moves between major and minor keys throughout. It’s F major in the chorus and D minor in the verses.

And Vivian is on form again in the guitar solo department.

Eat Your Heart Out

In the key of Em and Vivian is all over this one. From a guitar point of view there is a lot to unpack in the riffs department.

And for the guitar solo, what can I say. Vivian kicks it off with a tapping lick before blazing into some arpeggios and finishing it all off with some pentatonic lines.

It might not be Dio’s most famous song but it’s a guitar players delight.

Egypt (The Chains Are On)

The best track on the album for me and the drumming from Vinnie Appice is excellent under the epic and groovy guitar riff.

And then Dio references his singing style on “Heaven And Hell” in the verses.

I love the lyric line, “when the world was milk and honey”. Dio puts it out there that the world was nice and sweet and so far removed from the warmongering and ills that came after.

Did I mention that Appice lays down some serious groove?

Well he does. It’s so effective, so simple and fucking frightening.

And in the outro, Vivian plays the intro riff and the chords under it change, like in “We Rock” and it’s brilliant.

Kiss – Animalize

Mark St. John (RIP) makes his appearance on a Kiss album. It’s a shame that he was just hired to play leads and not even asked to be a co-writer because I believe there was untapped potential there.

But Kiss was in such a state at this point in time, you could say “Animalize” is a combination of songs written for Paul and Gene’s solo albums.

I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)

You can see how co-writing with Vinnie Vincent, showed Stanley how easy it is to write a metal riff. Because I guarantee you, his co-writer Desmond Child didn’t come up with it.

And the lead by Mark St. John is a plethora of scales and repeating licks much in the same way Vincent wound attack a lead break. It’s okay to learn as a warm up exercise.

Heavens On Fire

To me, this is how AC/DC would sound if they went all pop rock.

And it’s because of this AC/DC groove, the song has survived to this day in KISS’s live show.

It’s also another Stanley and Child composition.

Under The Gun

It’s dumb, fast and fun and for some reason it reminds me of Y&T. And I dig it.

This is a Stanley, Child and Eric Carr composition.

Thrills In The Night

A Stanley composition in conjunction with Jean Beauvoir, who had a song called “Feel The Heat” which was in the “Cobra” movie, starring Stallone. Beauvoir actually plays bass on this song as well as on “Under The Gun” and another track I can’t remember right now.

And for the “Cobra” movie here is my favorite quote:

Supermarket Baddie: I got a bomb here! I’ll kill her! I’ll blow this whole place up!

Stallone’s character: Go ahead. I don’t shop here.

Only Stallone can pull that line off.

U2 – The Unforgettable Fire

“Pride (In The Name Of Love)” and “The Unforgettable Fire” got played every day on radio and the music video programs. They also got played on rock radio programs because U2 always got lumped in with hard rock bands.

In other words the band was fucking everywhere and these two songs are forever engraved in my mind.

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers

“Knocking at Your Back Door” and “Perfect Strangers” are the two that stand out here because I had those songs on compilation albums like “Headbangers Heaven”.

And to be honest “Knocking On Your Back Door” musically could have come from a Rainbow session. Especially the sing along Intro/Chorus riff.

For “Perfect Strangers”, distorted keyboards kick it off and that groove that comes in, is simple and effective.

Queen – The Works

This album has some cool rock tunes.

Tear It Up

It reminds me of a Billy Squier song with a simple stop/start riff and vocal groove. Rock fans satisfied.

I Want To Break Free

The big hit that was all over radio and TV. Pop fans satisfied.

Is This The World We Created…?

This a song that crosses genres. I think Queen introduced unplugged before it became a thing. Basically it doesn’t matter what kind of music you are into, the message of the lyrics is enough to connect.

Hammer To Fall – Headbangers Mix

As the title states, this mix is loud for Queen’s standards. And it’s a great song that reminds me of all these other songs that came before it, but I can’t put a name to those songs and that’s why I love music.

Tina Turner – Private Dancer

She is a rock goddess.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

There is excellence in simplicity and this song is evidence. This song is from the “Private Dancer” album. I cant claim I’ve heard the whole album but this song was played that many times on radio and music television it’s part of my Eighties days.

We Don’t Need Another Hero

I know it came out in 1985 but I’ve always associated it with the “Private Dancer” release cycle. As mentioned previously there is excellence in simplicity. Simple musical grooves propelled by strong vocal melodies.

It’s Only Love

It’s from Bryan Adams “Reckless” album however I always saw it as a Tina Turner song with Bryan co-singing and man she can rock it as good as the boys.

Part 3 is done and onto part 4.

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Lock Up The Wolves

A ticking clock sounds in the distance.

Suddenly it starts to get more pronounced as the speed starts to increase.

It’s time for something to happen but what.

Then a syncopated guitar, drums and bass riff kicks in. And there is a pause. It happens again. And another pause.

And that my friends is how “Lock Up The Wolves” starts off. This song, doesn’t get the notice it should.

It’s 1990 and after going through thousands of guitar tapes, Dio settled on unknown guitarist Rowan Robertson and dropped this beauty on a record buying public that became slaves to MTV and slick anthems.

So it’s no surprise, this release doesn’t get the notice it should. Maybe because it was up against “Painkiller” from Judas Priest and “Rust In Peace” From Megadeth for people’s Metal attention. Maybe because MTV kept playing his older stuff over the newer stuff.

Maybe Dio fans expected more. As a solo artist, Dio delivered four huge albums and when you combine the Sabbath and Rainbow albums to that list, you can see it’s a brilliant body of work, spanning 14 years.

I always wondered what the song is about. And the way Dio writes is always open to interpretation. It’s written by Dio, Rowan Robertson and Jimmy Bain. But bass on the album is played by Teddy Cook.

At first I thought it was about the inner struggles people have and to not let those inner Wolves get the better of you.

But the Wolves can be politicians, bad people, drugs/addictions or any other dangers in your life. There is a lyric line which states;

Don’t you let em get away

Lock up the Wolves before you play or it’s over

Because if you do, there is only a front door to hell waiting for you.

To me this song is a masterpiece. The riff is simple and effective. The lead break is bluesy and full of emotion. Simon Wright holds a dirgy tempo on the drums as good as Ward and the Appice brothers. Teddy Cook grinds away on the bass recreating Bain’s parts.

If you haven’t checked it out, do so. YouTube has various videos with combined view counts over 2 million. Spotify has it. It’s one of Dio’s best but

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Daily Mix

My Spotify daily mix was full of niceties today. It started me off in 1994 (Motley Crue), went back to 1986 (Van Halen), then to 1987 (Whitesnake), then back to 1986 (Tesla), then back to 1988 (Europe), then back to 1987 (Dio and Twisted Sister), 1991 (Skid Row) and back to 1987 (Great White)

Power To The Music

The Motley Corabi line up kicks off my day. Tommy Lee kills it behind the kit as he grooves this song to perfection. The self-titled album is the forgotten album in the Motley Crue revisionist history. It’s like 1993 to 1996 never happened.

Power To The Music
Who said the music’s dead in the streets?
Don’t know what they talk about.
They gotta put a bullet in my head if they want to keep me down

When I first heard this song, the message was load and clear. The record labels might have put their support behind new musical movements, but rock music was far from dead.

Good Enough

“Hello baby”, screams Sammy, before the Van Halen brothers and Michael Anthony thunder in and Sammy starts singing about how a fine woman is like U.S prime grade beef. Totally 80’s and totally male.

Wow, U.S. Prime, grade A stamped guaranteed
Grease it up and turn on the heat
You gotta throw it down and roll it over once, maybe twice
Then chow down, down, down, down

Don’t Turn Away

It’s a forgotten song from the mega selling 1987 album. I love it because of the up tempo ending. It reminds me of the ending of “Still Of The Night” and you don’t want it to end.

Rock Me To The Top

Tesla’s music to me is timeless. It doesn’t sound dated or tied to a particular era. Yeah, I know they got lumped in with the Sunset Strip bands, but Tesla was so much more. And they proved it in the 90’s, when all of the Sunset Strip bands got dropped, Tesla continued to make records and tour to great success. They took risks and backed themselves to deliver acoustically. Not a lot of bands could have done that to the quality Tesla did.

“Rock Me To The Top” is written by vocalist Jeff Keith and estranged guitarist Tommy Skeoch. The riff is foot stomping hard rock to a tee.

I’ll take command, take control
Now I see you comin’ back for more
I see you like it, but you don’t need it
Ooh you wanna feel it

Yep, I’m pretty sure Jeff Keith is singing about driving a car.

Sign Of The Times

That keyboard riff is as iconic as “The Final Countdown” riff. It’s a tragedy the song is not well known.

All The Fools Sailed Away

What a voice? Rest in peace Ronnie James Dio, you’ll be forever missed.

The drumming is epic, great vocal melodies, great movements between loud and soft and when the chorus comes in with the backing vocals; it’s time to sing along.

We are the innocent
We are the damned
We were caught in the middle of the madness
Hunted by the lion and the lamb

Society is founded on the persecution of races. And as we get more advanced, persecution exists between the have and the have nots.

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Sailed away

People need to move and find new lands/cities to thrive and survive.

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)

It’s another anthem for the SMF’s, the black sheep and the down trodden to wake up and stand together against corruption and oppression.

Who the hell are they to say?
What we can do and how we can play
We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

It’s the war cry against censorship. Freedom comes with a choice and sometimes, we sign away our freedom because we like to create an enemy, someone to blame when it all goes to hell.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

Around the world, our internet is under attack from governments and corporations. They want to control it, regulate it and charge a premium for it. The Net Neutrality war is real and it’s happening and only a handful of people are speaking up against it. The rest are ignorant.

Slave To The Grind

It’s the thrash metal title track from album number 2, which went straight to number 1 on release. Skid Row could do no wrong musically, even though the internal politics and bickering between Bach and Bolan/Sabo had reached Don Dokken/George Lynch volume levels.

Rock Me

After a few verses, I was thinking what’s next and then the Chorus kicked in. I became a fan instantly.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

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

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1983 – The Holy Roller, The Devil Rocker, The Synchronised Eliminator and The Moon Rebel

From May 29, 1983 up until sometime in 1992, metal/rock ruled and it all started with the US Festival (sponsored and orchestrated by Apple’s Steve Wozniack). For the bands involved it was a pivotal moment. For the movement as a whole, it was massive. For a fledgling TV service called MTV, it showed them a market to tap into.

Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” was released on March 11, 1983 however it didn’t really do anything. The album then started to take off after the US Festival in May 1983 and after the release of “Cum On Feel The Noize” as a single in August 1983, it exploded. I will talk more about this album in one of the other installments of my 1983 saga.

Motley Crue already had some momentum going with “Too Fast For Love”. The U.S Festival in May, helped cement their status as Sunset Strip favourites and when “Shout At The Devil” hit the streets in September 1983, the momentum became a tidal wave to platinum glory. Motley Crue played the perfect set, including a few of the new songs that would appear on “Shout At The Devil”, so as a concert goer, you heard those songs and you wanted them.

Triumph, Scorpions and Judas Priest already had some serious momentum going.

1981’s “Allied Forces” for Triumph was a success and the follow-up “Never Surrender” released in January 1983 was no slouch either and it was certified Gold on September 30, 1983 by the RIAA. You can easily conclude that the festival had a hand in boosting sales.

Judas Priest had their 1982 “Screaming For Vengeance” album doing the rounds and in April 1983 it was certified Platinum in the U.S.

Scorpions had their 1982 album “Blackout” out in the market and their visibility at the US Festival in May 1983, assisted in “Blackout” reaching Platinum status in March 1984. This success didn’t come instantly either, working since the start of the Seventies.

Van Halen at the time were kings of LA however their last album “Diver Down” didn’t do them any favours. However the visibility from the May 1983 festival along with Eddie Van Halen featuring in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” song would help their “1984” album released in January 1984 reach the lofty Diamond certification.

Anyway, enough of the U.S. Festival and time for a look at some albums.

Dio – Holy Diver

Ronnie James Dio success came from hard work and a commitment to stay the course. Check out his release schedule.

From when Elf’s self-titled debut album came out in 1972 he was constantly writing, releasing and touring. In 1974, “Carolina Country Ball” came out and in 1975, “Trying To Burn The Sun” came out.

Also in 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was released. In 1976, “Rising” came out. In 1977, “On Stage” came out. In 1978, “Long Live Rock N Roll” came out.

With Black Sabbath, he was involved with the “Heaven and Hell” release in 1980. In 1981, “Mob Rules” came out. In 1982 “Live At Last” came out.

By 1983, he was about to release his eleventh album in 11 years.

While much of the talk these days is on Dio hiring Vivian Campbell, it was actually Jimmy Bain who had a larger influence on Holy Diver. It was Jimmy Bain that was hired first. It was Jimmy Bain who contributed musically to “Stand Up And Shot” and “Rainbow In The Dark”. It was Jimmy Bain who saw Vivian Campbell play with Sweet Savage.

Actually, if you look at the song writing credits you will see “Holy Diver” was written solely by Dio and “Stand Up And Shout” was written by Dio and bassist Jimmy Bain. Vivian Campbell’s contributions are “Gypsy” (with Dio), “Caught in the Middle” and “Invisible” (with Appice and Dio), “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Shame on the Night” (with Appice, Bain and Dio).

So have a drink for an unsung departed hero in  Jimmy Bain.

Stand Up And Shout
You’ve got the power, stand up and shout

The opening song and it’s a call to arms right off the bat. Written before Vivian Campbell joined the band, the opening riff was used again to great success by Iron Maiden in “2 Minutes To Midnight”. Quick, get the lawyers involved.

Lyrically the song deals with breaking away from conformity.  It was the same theme that Twisted Sister sold millions of albums on.

It’s the same old song
You gotta be somewhere at sometime
And they’ll never let you fly

The mysterious “they” could be your teachers, employers, leaders, mortgage brokers or some other entity/establishment who are holding you back.

You are the driver
You own the road
You are the fire — go on, explode

Damn right, we are our own driver but how many can truly say we made decisions without any influence from others.

Holy Diver
The lead single.

How good is that groove from Appice and Bain under the iconic riff. It’s the selling point of the song. Vocally, Dio is fantastic and the guitar solo from Campbell is shredalicious.

Ride the tiger, you can see his stripes but you know he’s clean

Only Dio knows what those lyrics mean however if you are looking for an explanation then go to SongMeanings. A user called “Nightrain50” posted the following;

“Holy Diver is about Jesus Christ’s descent into Hades after being crucified”.

Once you read the users lyrical breakdown, it sounds plausible.

The “Holy Diver” riff is that good, that the Foo Fighters used it in the pre-chorus of their song “Something From Nothing”.

Between the velvet lies
There’s a truth that’s hard as steel
The vision never dies
Life’s a never-ending wheel

The below is an example of the SongMeanings users break down of the above verse.

“Between the velvet lies” = velvet is gentleness or caution, often concealing strength or determination and a profit or gain beyond what is expected or due. Jesus is the velvet lie. His intentions are not clear. Satan has been fooled, he thought he had won when he had Jesus crucified, in fact he has sealed his own fate. Jesus is here to claim what’s his. All the souls of the fallen that will but believe in him can now be saved from Adam until now. Remember all fell short of the glory of God but one (Jesus), this means that all the prophets of the Old Testament were not reaching heaven. Not yet, but they are now.

“There’s a truth that’s hard as steel” = Truth is the word of God. Steel is the sword of Jesus’s mouth Rev 2:16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

“The vision never dies”= The vision is the law, Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. The law will never die because Jesus has finally fulfilled the law, allowing us to have eternal life with God through him.

“Life’s a never-ending wheel” = Death has been defeated. 1st Corinthians 15:56 “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” Romans *:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

It’s funny how a biblical interpretation has been made on “Holy Diver” that is pro-Jesus, and the person that wrote the song is known as the creator of the devil horn salute. Metal all the way is what I say.

Rainbow In The Dark
While “Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” warmed up the fan base it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal.

So depending on who you ask, it is pretty clear that a rainbow cannot exist in the dark, as rainbows require light. So is Dio using the term rainbow as an analogy for a “light” in the dark. Also, think of a rainbow as an entity and it found its way into the night. Is it lost? Is it lonely? Did someone abandon it?

It’s typical Dio, where the meaning can take many paths. Each verse line deals with a certain emotion.

When there’s lightning
You know it always bring me down

It’s about feeling down.

Do your demons,
Do they ever let you go?

It’s about giving in to our vices because they are always there.

We’re a lie
You and I
We’re words without a rhyme

It’s about a relationship going sour.

No sign of the morning

It’s like the light will never return into his life.

“Don’t Talk To Strangers” and “Shame On The Night” musically are fantastic songs, but lyrically they are terrible.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Dee Snider wrote the tracks for “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” while “Under The Blade” was getting mixed. At that stage, Snider was a 10 year vet in the music business. He didn’t rely on sales of recorded music to provide him with a living. He earned his coin by delivering the goods on stage, night after night.

The band was a consistent crowd puller on the live circuit. You would think that would get them signed, however it didn’t. All the labels rejected them, until an independent label in Europe called “Secret” signed them. This in turn eventually led to Atlantic’s European division signing them for the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” album which in turn led to the U.S arm of Atlantic picking them up, once imported versions of the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” LP started selling in the U.S.

And if you want to hear about record label mistreatment look no further than Dee Snider.

The Kids Are Back
The opening track.

My cousin Mega is a hard-core Twisted Sister fan. He is the one that got me into the band. He even has the TS logo tattooed on his shoulder. This was my first exposure to the band. The sound of the marching feet. It was perfect for the time.

We walk the streets
In tattered armies
We got the lion in our heart
We’re not lookin’ for trouble
Just for some fun
But we’re all ready if you wanna’ start

How can I put in words the trueness of this verse?

We just wanted to have fun, but man, if someone wanted to roll with us, we didn’t take a backward step. You can hear the anger build in Dee’s vocal delivery. It’s raw and it is honest. It is not auto tuned like all the other crap released today. It has a certain life to it.

I Am (I’m Me)
It’s a song that needed to be written, so that Dee could go on and write, “S.M.F”, “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. To me, it is like a back story to the main movie. It’s message is one of standing up for yourself.

Who are you to look down
At what I believe?

Notice how most of the lyrics have a certain trend showing. If you don’t believe me, compare the lyrics between these songs;

“Stand Up And Shout”, “The Kids Are Back”, “I Am (I’m Me)”, “Your No Different”, “Rock And Roll Rebel”, “Red Hot” and “Rebel Yell”.

The eighties were a time when the youth didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of what their fathers did. I didn’t want to work in the steel mills. I wanted something different, but I didn’t know what. For too long I had been conditioned to want something else.

We’re Gonna Make It is another song that needed to be written so that Dee could go on to write the classics.

The power of the people
Ain’t been showin’
It’s never what you know
It’s who you’re knowin’
Sure it ain’t right,
But as the saying goes its might
That decides who stays behind
And who’ll be goin’

It’s the A to Z in making it.

You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll

Lift up your hands in praise
You can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll

You know, those words are so true because rock just keeps on evolving. Even when hard rock stopped being a dominant commercial force in the Nineties, another form known as Grunge Rock took over with Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Then Alternative Rock took over with Foo Fighters and a renewed Pearl Jam. Then Modern Rock took over with Matchbox Twenty and Tonic. Nu-Metal came and it morphed into Heavy Rock. We had Rap Rock, then Pop Rock and Glam Rock came back again via “The Darkness” and we even had Industrial Rock via “Filter”, “Stabbing Westward” and others of that ilk.

It’s an angry steed,
On a never ending course

Damn right.

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

There is a lot of septic crap around this album especially around the politics of the song writing.

By 1983, Ozzy had lost the momentum that the Blizzard Of Ozz band started. From the original crew, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake were fired and Randy Rhoads died tragically and if the tragedy didn’t happen, Rhoads was putting plans in place to leave Ozzy.

Ozzy’s saving grace was the US Festival. After the US Festival, Bob Daisley, along with Jake E. Lee, Tommy Aldridge and Ozzy Osbourne went to New York and started writing. It could have been George Lynch instead of Jake E. Lee. Maybe on Earth 2, there is a version with George Lynch replacing Randy Rhoads.

For Daisley, coming back into the Ozzy camp meant certain conditions. He wanted to be paid for writing the songs and to be paid to play on the album. He wanted bonuses when the sales reached a half a million and then a million and so on. However, as usual, he got screwed again and no bonuses came.

Writing by Daisley and Lee continued in London and recording started at Ridge Farms with Max Norman engineering again. Tommy Aldridge struggled in the studio. Sharon Osbourne was constantly on his case as to why the drum parts took so long to record. Time is money. After Aldridge recorded the album and just before the tour, he got fired.

That is when Carmine Appice entered the fold. If you see the “Bark At The Moon” video, Appice is on drums. He had a contract to do the tour and he got fired as well, because he was sneaking off and doing drum clinics.

Bark At The Moon
What a way for Jake E. Lee to introduce himself to the fans of Ozzy Osbourne. Jake E. Lee came up with the riff, Ozzy with the title and Bob
Daisley wrote the lyrics based on a Hammer Horror film story.

But Lee or Daisley are not credited as songwriters. Only Ozzy is.

With so much talk these days about plagiarism and other people taking credit for something they didn’t do, this is exactly what Sharon orchestrated for Ozzy. As it stands, Ozzy is listed as the sole songwriter and by default taking full credit for someone else’s work.

Bark at the moon
Ha ha ha ha ha…

One of my favourite lyrical lines is;

He finds his heaven
Spewing from the mouth of hell

There are a lot of people like that, who find their happiness by putting others down. Hell, the whole bully system is designed in this way. Internet trolls are exactly like this.

And if there was any doubt to the guitar mastery of Jake E. Lee then just listen to the outro solo.

“You’re No Different”
A lot of hate for this song because;

a) it’s a ballad,
b) it has keyboards,
c) it’s a ballad and
d) it’s a ballad with keyboards.

But man, coming off the stellar opening title track, it was a WTF moment, but it’s still a good song and there is no denying the lyrics from Daisley that deal with how people judged and perceived Ozzy.

Everything that I say and do
In your eyes is always wrong
Tell me where do I belong in a sick society

Where do we belong when everyone has their own thoughts and ideas? And why should our thoughts, ideas and words be so wrong, just because we are lower in the status chain.

Your’re no different, no different to me

Last time I checked, we all have a mortality of about 80 years and we all end up in the same place when it all comes to an end.

Living my life in a way that I choose
You say I should apologize
Is that envy in your eyes reflecting jealousy

I’ve said sorry many times when I never should have. It was purely an attempt to put a situation to rest and move on.

Tell me the truth and I’ll admit to my guilt
If you’ll try and understand
Is that blood that’s on your hand from your democracy?

Is there such a thing as pure truth as what I see from my point of view and my cultural upbringing is different to what another sees.

And again that outro has a lot of cool Jake E. Lee’isms.

“Rock And Roll Rebel”
It needed to be written so Jake could go and write “Lightning Strikes” because the riffs are identical except in different keys.

I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel
I’ll tell you no lies
They say I worship the devil
They must be stupid or blind
I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel

It’s a national anthem for us metal heads. “I’m a rock and roll rebel” was my favourite comeback line to my school teachers.

They live a life of fear and insecurity
And all you do is pay for their prosperity

Damn right, it’s called tax and mortgages. The best way to ensure that the majority still serve rich masters like in ancient empires is to create wages, income tax and credit loans. That way, the rich will get even richer and the rest of us will just pay for their prosperity.

That lead break from Jake again is brilliant. Arpeggios, bluesy pentatonic lines, fast legato lines and anything else he could fit in, he did.

“Waiting for Darkness”
The excellent album closer. It’s how Jake E. Lee decorates the song by palm muting and double-picking each note to create a staccato style effect. It’s very similar to how Andy Summers from The Police decorated songs.

Promise me rebirth
And then you tear me from the womb
Give me my freedom
And then you lock me in a tomb

The way of the world is more pure in books of fiction. The non-fiction reality version is very different. A lot of the songs I like deal with how “we believe we are free but really are not”. It’s not coincidental. The more I get older, the more I realise how I’m not free. Like how Hetfield sang in “The Unforgiven”;

“New blood joins this Earth and quickly he’s subdued”

Motley Crue – Shout At The Devil
Motley Crue is another band that benefited greatly from the U.S Festival. 1983 is when the LA Sunset Strip Scene broke out as a commercial force.

On the backs of Motley Crue and Quiet Riot, suddenly the labels were looking for bands that looked and sounded like Motley Crue and Quiet Riot. Ratt, Dokken WASP, Kix, Krokus and Mamas Boys are a few bands that benefited from Motley Crue breaking out of the L.A Sunset Strip scene.

Other labels that had established bands made their bands look like Motley Crue. Y&T, Accept, Fastway, Whitesnake, Helix, Saxon, Kiss and Tygers of Pan Tang are a few bands that had a look and feel change to their wardrobes. But for the Crue, their changes had a lot to do with what was popular at the time. Metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were riding a wave of commercial prosperity. The Crue had the metal look and all they needed was the metal sound.

Enter the pentagram.

The “Shout At The Devil” album was primarily written while the band was still unknown and striving for success. You can hear the angst, rebellious youth and aggression in the music. You can hear the kilos of cocaine and decadent lifestyle in the music.

Tom Werman is on hand to produce. There is no denying the fact that Werman had a certain touch to get the albums sounding radio friendly.

Around this time there was a satanic backlash happen in the U.S. Motley Crue played into the controversy and as Vince Neil once said, they did anything that would get them attention.

Werman advised them that they could record their tracks separately and then fix up any mistakes after. This in turn led to a lot of down time. Down time equals partying. In the end, the Crue managed to get it together to record an album that was a product and snapshot of 1982/83.

“Shout At The Devil”
The funny thing is the band is accused of being satanic however they had the most Christian sounding title in “Shout At The Devil”. It is no different to “To Hell With The Devil” from Stryper. The main riff is a bluesy classic, in the vein of ZZ Top’s if played with a boogie feel.

But in the seasons of wither
We’ll stand and deliver
Be strong and laugh and
Shout-shout-shout
Shout at the devil

Nikki is channelling his love of Aerosmith and his rebellious street punk nature in the lyrics. He is part of the disenfranchised generation.

“Looks That Kill”
The L.A sound is all over this. The opening riff of “Looks That Kill” was copied from somewhere and then all of the LA bands copied each other with different variations. If you don’t believe me, check out Ratt and Dokken. The “Breaking The Chains” album has a song with a very similar riff and so does ”Out Of The Cellar”.

As good as the riff is; it’s the foot stomping beat from Tommy Lee that gets the song going. It’s metronomic and G-string tight.

Now listen up
She’s razor-sharp

Now she’s bulletproof
Keeps her motor clean
If Nikki was channelling Aerosmith in “Shout At The Devil”, well for “Looks That Kill” he was channelling Brian Johnson and “Back In Black”.

“Bastard”

Bastard
Won’t get screwed again

Written about their manager who funded their debut album and then split with the Elektra advance.

“Red Hot”
Tommy Lee is channelling “Overkill” from Motorhead with the drums.

Shout at the devil
We’ve laughed at your wars

The title track appears again in another song. It’s such a strong statement.

“Too Young to Fall in Love”

Again, it’s Tommy’s foot stomping and metronomic drumming that gets the song rolling and grooving.

Run for the hills
We’re both sinners and saints

“Knock Em Dead, Kid”
That intro riff from Mick Mars and the build-up from Tommy Lee is a foot stomper. It’s a call to arms.

In the heat of the night
You went and blackened my eyes
Well now I’m back, I’m back, I’m back
And I’m coming your way”

Lyrics about a fist fight. Nikki took a few hits and now he’s back for retribution. Brilliant

“Ten Seconds To Love”
Touch my gun
But don’t pull my trigger
Let’s make history
In the elevator
Or lock the door
Shine my pistol some more
Here I cum
Just ten seconds more

Sixx is a master at the tongue and cheek bubblegum sexual lyrics.

Bring a girlfriend
Maybe bring two
I got my camera
Make a star outta you

The Crue guys made stars of themselves and others with those camera’s many years later. How prophetic.

“Danger”
This one is one of those gems that is forgotten, telling a story about the bands early days.

“Danger, you’re in danger when the boys are around”

The Motley Crue lifestyle. It was danger. Hotel rooms got destroyed, cars got destroyed, Razzle died, Nikki Sixx died.

Billy Idol – Rebel Yell

“Rebel Yell” is written by Billy Idol and Steve Stevens.

Steve Stevens is merely a footnote in the pages of rock/pop and Digitech whammy noises. Tom Morello is seen as an innovator for doing the same thing that Steve Stevens was doing a decade before. Stevens only crime was big hair and big hair is not in to the people who write pop culture history.

In the midnight hour, she cried more, more, more
With a rebel yell she cried more, more, more, wow!

The Police – Synchronicity

It goes to show how one great song and two good songs could move millions upon millions of albums. Tracks 7, 8 and 9 are the ones.

“Every Breath You Take”
The big one. The songwriting credits state it was all Sting, however the way guitarist Andy Summers plays the stock A – F#m – D – E progression is what defines the song and sets it apart from all of the other pretenders.

“King Of Pain”
Gotye took the feel and chordal structure of this song and made it a hit again almost 30 years later. Quick, call the lawyers, we have plagiarism at its best.

There’s a king on a throne with his eyes torn out
There’s a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt
There’s a rich man sleeping on a golden bed
There’s a skeleton choking on a crust of bread

I’ll always be king of pain

Brilliant lyrics. All of those characters could have been Sting.

“Wrapped Around Your Finger”
Again, Summers takes centre stage with his intricate, melodic and delicious sounding guitar lines.

I can see the destiny you sold
Turned into a shining band of gold
I’ll be wrapped around your finger

ZZ Top – Eliminator

“Gimme All Your Lovin’”
It kicks off the album that turned ZZ Top into superstars. And as all things to do with the Eighties it was on the back of MTV and their stylish videos that all kept the same theme going throughout.

You got to whip it up
And hit me like a ton of lead
If I blow my top
Will you let it go to your head?

Are the lyrics dealing with cumming on her face.

“Got Me Under Pressure”
All the trademarks of classic ZZ Top are here. The riffs, the solos, the jam like structures.

I’m gonna give her a message,
here’s what I’m gonna say:
“It’s all over.”

Man, it’s good the ZZ Top guys don’t take themselves too seriously. Premature ejaculation gets a verse.

“Sharp Dressed Man”
If “Gimme All Your Loving’” and “Got Me Under Pressure” were the combinations, then “Sharp Dressed Man was the knockout.
It’s a technological refined Southern Blues Rock boogie merged with a lot of pop sensibilities.

They come runnin’ just as fast as they can
‘Cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man

“Legs”
Six songs would have been enough for this album.

She’s got legs, she knows how to use them

The immortal lyric that everyone knows. But what about this one;

She’s got hair down to her fanny
She’s kinda jet set, try undo her panties

Fanny makes it in a hit song. Brilliant.

And based on the above, here is a sequenced list of songs for a 20 song double album. All killer, no filler.
Side 1
1. Bark At The Moon
2. Stand Up And Shout
3. Looks That Kill
4. Rainbow In The Dark
5. Every Breath You Take
Side 2
1. Rebel Yell
2. Shout At The Devil
3. Legs
4. You Cant Stop Rock And Roll
5. Holy Diver
Side 3
1. Red Hot
2. I Am (I’m Me)
3. Too Young To Fall In Love
4. Gimme All Your Lovin’
5. Waiting For Darkness
Side 4
1. The Kids Are Back
2. Wrapped Around Your Finger
3. Sharp Dressed Man
4. King Of Pain
5. Got Me Under Pressure

Stay tuned for Part II.

In case you didn’t get the title;

  • The Holy Roller is a combination of “Holy Diver” and “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll”.
  • The Devil Rocker is a combination of “Shout At The Devil” and “You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll”.
  • The Synchronised Eliminator is a combination of “Synchronicity” and “Eliminator”
  • The Moon Rebel is a combination on “Bark At The Moon” and “Rebel Yell”.
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