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

Nov 9, 1985

I follow Circus Magazine on Twitter. Every day they mention hard rock or metal albums that came out on the same day. And back on Nov 9, 1985, the following albums came out;

  • Y&T – Down For The Count
  • Dokken – Under Lock and Key
  • Twisted Sister – Come Out And Play
  • W.A.S.P – The Last Command

In Australia, we had to wait. A geographical windowed release is the business name for it. And it’s funny how the labels still want to revert to these kinds of releases for music in the digital world. They don’t like world-wide releases. Hell, one of the main drivers of piracy was windowed releases. Fans of music in other parts of the world, wanted access to new music on the same day, U.S fans had access to it.

One thing that is common across all four albums is the sequencing and how the albums flow.

TRACK 1 – The Killer Opening Track

“In The Name Of Rock” has a great riff to kick off the album about a kid who heard a guitar scream and he knew he wouldn’t be the same.

“Unchain The Night” musically is unbelievable, but Don Dokken’s lyrics of running around in circles and never crossing some line and then not wanting to touch someone and then never wanting to unchain the night.

Seriously, how much blow was Don doing?

And how can you chain the night up to then not wanting to unchain it.

“Come Out And Play” starts off with an ode to “The Warriors” movie before Dee starts telling people to not be afraid of the night as it builds into an anthem for the SMF’s to join the Twisted Sister cavalcade and enter the world TS made. It’s basically a speed metal song.

“Wild Child” is a classic. It’s a simple riff, it sounds massive and it builds nicely under the Em, D, C chord progression. And Blackie had a certain lyrical style that worked about riding winds that bring rain because he’s a wild child who needs to be loved.

The winner here is “Wild Child”.

TRACK 2 – The Relaxed Track

“All American Boy” is cool musically and lyrically it might have worked in the U.S but it didn’t really work in Australia. Then again, Bruce Springsteen sold 10 million plus by telling everyone he’s born in the U.S.A. So there goes that theory.

“The Hunter” is a cool track musically and lyrically.

“Leader of the Pack”. Next.

“Ballcrusher” is just one of those songs that’s a blast lyrically about a vicious voodoo woman who crushes balls and manages to skull all of his JD. Hell, Steel Panther has made a career of using lyrics like these.

The winner here is “The Hunter”

TRACK 3 – Meant To Be the Big Hit

“Anytime At All” is a cool melodic arena rock song about a woman who can call Dave anytime at all.

“In My Dreams” is also a cool melodic arena rock song about a relationship that still works in Don’s dreams but not in real life. I believe Jeff Pilson wrote the lyrics to this song, so they make way more sense than Don’s lyrics.

And that solo from Lynch, it’s like he knew this song was going to be a single so let’s put every melodic idea and technique into it. And it works.

“You Want What We Got” is a cool sing along arena rock song about a person called you, who wants something that Twisted Sister has got and because that person called “you” can’t have it, the person called “you” constantly puts them down.

“Fistful of Diamonds” musically sounds like it’s from The Rocky Horror Show. And how relevant are the lyrics about money and how people go crazy for it because they want it all.

The winner here is “In My Dreams”.

TRACK 4 – The Ballad Song or Experimental Song or We Don’t Know What to Do With Song

“Anything for Money” is good musically and let down by crap lyrics.

“Slippin’ Away” just doesn’t work for me.

“I Believe In Rock N Roll” is a great song, musically and lyrically. Hell, one of my first band names “Iron Fist” came from the lyrics. The best line is pledging allegiance to the United States of Rock. The pre-chorus sums up life about working hard and constantly being told what to do.

“Jack Action” musically is like “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Lyrically it’s a mess.

The winner here is “I Believe In Rock N Roll”.

TRACK 5 – The Killer Side 1 Closer

“Face Like An Angel” has a cool musical groove and a top notch lead break. Even the vocal melodies are good, but those lyrics “she’s got a face like an angel but the devils inside her again.” Seriously. What the?

“Lighthin’ Strikes Again” has awesome riffage, so musically it’s pretty strong and the vocal melodies are spot on as well. Lyrically, is it about lightning striking you for inspiration? I’m not sure, but I think it is. Anyway, the music is perfect.

“The Fire Still Burns” burned so bright that it spawned the extreme black metal scene of Europe. The song is a masterpiece that could rival thrash speed metal tunes. And the lyrics deal with the pain and anger in Dee’s brain to last a whole lifetime and how he can’t have peace of mind because the fire still burns.

I’m a big fan of the “Widowmaker” song. The whole intro sounds epic and when the whole band kicks in, it’s breaking desk time. It’s the only way to kick off a song about some entity that has roamed the desert plains for thousands of years.

The winner here is “The Fire Still Burns”.

TRACK 6 – The Killer Opening Track of Side 2

Track 6 is always the first track on SIDE B. So it had to be a strong one. Kids these days will not understand how sequencing an album was super important back in the day.

“Summertime Girls” I heard in a movie. I can’t remember if it was a Porky’s movie or one of those other 80’s flicks that mimicked the Porky’s formula. Anyway the movie is set in summer, girls are wearing very short shorts and it was perfect for the scene. It’s probably the reason why the song has remained a favourite. Then I heard it on the “Baywatch” TV series. So how can you not forget it?

The video clip to “It’s Not Love” remains with me because it reminded me of ACCA’s “Long Way To The Top”. The riffs grab me again and the lyrics work with the melodies.

“Be Chrool To Your Scuel” just didn’t work for me. And the zombie film clip got banned from MTV for being too violent and gore which didn’t help its cause.

“Blind In Texas” is your basic 12 bar blues drinking song. Blackie is very creative with his lyrics, referencing Texas towns.

The winner here is “Summertime Girls”.

TRACK 7 – The Song That Will Not Be Played Live

“Looks Like Trouble” is excellent musically. But I hate the lyrics about how Dave gave a woman his Ferrari and got no response, because he’s a fool in love who doesn’t know when to give up.

“Jaded Heart” rocks musically. And you know what, even the lyrics work, about a jaded heart that looks and can’t see the beauty of life in front of it.

“I Believe In You” is a ballad that actually has Don Dokken doing some ohhhs and ahhhhs during the Chorus. Lyrically it’s about looking for acceptance.

“Cries In The Night” is actually a pretty cool tune about a person hearing cries in the night that tell no lies.

The winner here is “Cries In The Night”.

TRACK 8 – The “Cover” Song or The “We Are Running Out Of Ideas” Song or The” Melodic Rock Song We Are Not Sure Our Fans Will Like”

I’m not a fan of “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. I didn’t even like Poison’s version. I was like, why would you cover that song. It’s a timestamp of an era and not relevant at all in the 80’s.

“Don’t Lie To Me” is a great melodic song, with a great harmony that mimic’s the vocal line and even the lyrics work.

“Out On The Streets” to me is a pretty cool melodic rock song and one of those TS songs that are forgotten.

For a title track, “The Last Command” is very different for WASP’s 1985 standards as it’s in a major key. Lyrically I believe it’s about the sounding of the seventh trumpet before the end begins.

The winner here is “Out On The Streets”.

TRACK 9 – The “We Ran Out Of Time” Song

Musically, “Don’t Tell Me What To Wear” feels like it’s a carbon copy of “Blackout” from Scorpions. Lyrically, it works for me, about a kid who likes to wear his blacks and is constantly told what to wear.

“Will the Sun Rise” is another classic that doesn’t get enough love. I also don’t mind the lyrics about setting sail to find new wonders and memories.

Musically, “Looking Out For Number 1” is a rewrite of “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Lyrically, Dee is re-using themes of a person doing what they want to do and living a life they want to live.

“Running Wild In The Streets” should be retitled running out of time.

The winner here is “Don’t Tell Me What To Wear”.

TRACK 10 – “The Killer Speed Metal Closer to Side 2” and Album” or “The Killer Epic Power Ballad Closer to Side 2 and Album”

“Hands Of Time” closes the album and that palm muted harmony guitar riff just blows my mind for how massive it sounds and how simple it is to play.

“Till The Livin End” is basically a speed metal song and that is the beauty of Dokken that I liked. They could be metal, hard rock, blues rock, pop rock and speed metal all on one album.

“Kill Or Be Killed” is also a speed metal song about fighting the good fight, throwing punches in the name of rock first and asking questions later.

“Sex Drive” is basically a re-write of “Blind Of Texas” and “Fistful Of Diamonds”. A big miss here to close the album with a killer tune.

The winner here is “Till The Livin End”.

TRACK 11 – The Bonus Track

“King Of The Fools” is probably the best power ballad from Twisted Sister about how stardom, while great, is also pretty lonely and frightful because people are now looking at you to lead them.

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

Difference Between A Million and 7 Million

It’s great to see David Coverdale celebrate the 20 and 30 year anniversary of the 1987 self-titled Whitesnake album.

Dokken and the work Lynch did with the band is another favourite of mine during this period and Lynch’s guitar work is a huge influence on my guitar playing and style. But “Back for the Attack” released on November 2, 1987 gets no anniversary treatment. It gets no attention and is rarely part of the conversation.

But back in 1987 it was everywhere. The momentum started with “Dream Warriors” which was released in February 1987 to promote “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”. Back in those days, fans from different regions had to deal with windowed releases. The U.S got it first, then a few months later Europe got it and a few months after that Asia/Australia got it. Basically, for nine months, Elektra Records flogged “Dream Warriors” to death over a staggered windowed release.

So when the album dropped, people purchased. I was one of those people who devoured all the credits on albums. I don’t know why, I just found it interesting to see who wrote the songs, who produced the album, who mixed it and the places used for recording it. And I always asked myself why a band would use so many different recording studios to record an album. It doesn’t make sense to set up, pack up and reset up at another studio. And I saw a lot of different studios on the “Back For The Attack” credits and I had to google it to be sure.

The band recorded in 5 different studios around LA. The record labels are not stupid. They get the studios at a discounted rate and then charge the band the general rate + 20% for using them, which the labels will then recoup from the sales of the album. Even though the album sold in excess of a million copies in the U.S, I bet ya, the band was still in debt to the label.

So what does 1 million sales in 1987 mean in 2017.

Well if i use Spotify stats, 1 million sales in 1987 leads to 1.7 million streams of “Dream Warriors”. “Alone Again” has the most streams on Dokken’s Spotify account at 6 million plus streams. Being on a Spotify playlist of 80’s Power Ballads does help. What the stats do show is how a million sales in 1987 doesn’t equal a million fans. The same way a million illegal downloads don’t equal a million lost sales. As I’ve said many times on this blog;

  • A person could have purchased the album, heard it once and traded it
  • Another person could have purchased the album, heard it 10 times and then just added it to the collection or traded it.
  • Another person could have purchased the album, listened to it and still listens to it today.

Even in YouTube, “Alone Again” has 1.5 million plus views. “Dream Warriors” (official music video on RHINO’s account) has 985,000 plus views and on the 80sRockClassics account it has 2.72 million plus views. Compared to how big Dokken was in the 80’s, these numbers are anaemic, because “Is This Love” from Whitesnake has 37 plus million streams while the “Here I Go Again” version from “Saints and Sinners” has 40 plus million streams and when you add the 60 million streams from the 1987 radio edit version and 1987 remastered version, “Here I Go Again” is topping 100 million streams.

Why the large disconnect?

Coverdale sang about not knowing where he is going, but he knew where he had been. And he’s made up his mind that he needs to keep going over and over again, so he can keep those promises he made to himself in the past.

And people from all walks of life and different musical genres could relate and connect with the words of Coverdale.

Don Dokken on the other hand sang about how there’s no justice in falling in love because it gives someone blindness when they are the one because a group called “they” are holding the gun. Seriously, they are the dumbest lyrics I have seen/heard, which is a shame because “Heaven Sent” has excellent music and melodies.  Meanwhile in “Kiss Of Death” Don’s telling us about a brief encounter in the woods with a female vampire and in “Dream Warriors” Don’s weary eyes couldn’t face the unknown and he doesn’t want to dream no more. I’ve heard soundtrack songs that don’t follow the movie storyline which work and I’ve heard soundtrack songs that follow the movie storyline which also work and some which don’t work. Musically, Dokken the band was top-notch, but lyrically, not so good. Seriously, “Unchain The Night”. How can you do that?

And the choice of words, my friends, is the major difference between 7 million in sales and 1 million in sales. The major difference between 100 million streams and a million streams. The major difference between albums getting the anniversary treatment or not.

There’s a reason why “Livin’ On A Prayer” is more popular than “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and the rest of Jovi’s songs. There’s a reason why “Kickstart My Heart” is more popular than all the other Crue songs. For Metallica, “Enter Sandman” is the most streamed with 185 million streams due to it being on Spotify’s own playlists of metal essentials and also by being very high up on the playlist. However, “Nothing Else Matters” is the song with the words that connect and it has 163 million streams.

In the end lyrics matter and that’s why people who don’t play in bands and write songs for others have a career in music. Because they can write good lyrics. It’s why Sharon Osbourne hired Bob Daisley over and over again to write lyrics for Ozzy. You can beat a good lyricist.

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

Forgotten 2

The Playlist

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)
Twisted Sister

How fortunes change for artists?

Twisted Sister was the top band in 1984. Dee Snider was everywhere, on the cover of magazines, newspapers and even hosting a show on MTV that would go on to become “Headbangers Ball”. For a band that toughed it out for a decade, success came and went in half of that.

Who cares if “Love Is For Suckers” was meant to be a solo album?

Who cares if Mark Mendoza and Jay Jay French hate the album?

Who cares if studio musicians contributed to it?

It’s listed as a Twisted Sister album, it sounds like a Twisted Sister album and like all Twisted Sister albums, Dee is still the main songwriter and it should be given its dues as a Twisted Sister album. That means, playing the excellent “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” live.

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

Dee was always good at writing the anthem of the SMF’s vs the world. “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” is no different. The WE in the song is the fans, the black sheep, the ones that everyone was calling devil worshippers in 1984.

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

It’s the war cry against the censorship taking place against heavy metal and hard rock music. 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 boss’s fault because we are not making our mortgage repayments. If only we earned more.

It’s our leaders fault because we have our rights taken away a little bit at a time.

We like to have someone else in control.

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.

Snider’s message is good. It’s right, but the SMF misfits had grown older and they had responsibilities. Rising up against the institutions wasn’t their mission anymore. It changed to performing duties and keeping a roof over their head or their own families head.

The more metal inclined fans of Twisted Sister moved their loyalties to the thrash and metal movements and the more pop rock casual fans moved their loyalty to Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Whitesnake’s 1987 release. And in that climate, the album couldn’t compete.

Magic Touch
Aerosmith

With “Dude Looks Like A Lady”, “Rag Doll” and “Angel” taking all the attention, this little classic had no chance. Which is a shame, as the song is up there when it comes to Aerosmith. It’s got the classic bluesy groove the band is well-known for and a wickedly good vocal melody. Plus Joey Kramer sounds louder than hell on the drums.

It’s written by Tyler, Perry and Jim Vallance (yep, that same Jim Vallance who co-wrote “War Machine” with Bryan Adams, plus the majority of Bryan Adams catalogue).

Don’t need no wedding with a shotgun, shotgun

Ahh, the problem with the male species is our basic load control. An innocent moment of explosion and that accidental shotgun wedding might be very real. Then again, that’s how it was in the past. In today’s age not so much.

Dancing On Glass
Motley Crue

Man, that riff from Mick Mars, is sleazy and dangerous. You can safely call “Dancing On Glass” the prequel to “The Heroin Diaries”.

In 1987, Nikki was asking if he is in Persia or just insane. In 2005, Nikki via Sixx A.M was reminiscing about how a girl with golden eyes talks to him in Persian, telling Nikki, she loves him.

There are plenty of other auto biographical lines about Sixx’s drug life.

“Valentines in London, found me in the trash”
“One extra push, last trip to the top”
“Silver Spoon and needle, witchy tombstone smile
“I’m no puppet, I engrave my veins in style”

“Wild Side” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” sold the album but to me, the third track is just as good.

Breakin’ All The Rules
Ozzy Osbourne

I know there was a film clip for it and it was a single, but “Miracle Man” was that strong and Ozzy’s earlier catalogue was still selling well, “Breakin’ All the Rules” was just ignored.

But what a riff to kick it off, under a rumbling Randy Castillo groove.

Nobody thinks the way I do
I guess that nobody dares

I read an article about a computer scientist guy who took all the google searches people make and found that we basically lie when it comes to everything public. The only place we don’t lie is within our Google searches because we believe we are alone and they are private. And Google Searches show what we really think and really like. And guess what, Google sells this data to marketeers.

And I know
That you would love to know the answers
But to you
The truth is just another lie

Some people don’t care about reason or a different point of view. With Ozzy being the whipping boy for all the religious institutions, you can see where Bob Daisley was going with the lyric. Funny how the religious entities classed Ozzy as satanic when his whole house is littered with crucifixes.

Rising Power
AC/DC

It’s a solid album, coming out after the holy trinity of albums, their U.S breakthrough “Highway To Hell” in 1979, the mega selling “Back In Black” from 1980 and it’s 1981 successor “For Those About To Rock”. Some personnel changes happened as well. Simon Wright is in the drummers’ chair, replacing Phil Rudd. The producer of their holy trinity albums, Mutt Lange was also out. Their manager Peter Mensch was also out.

Angus and Malcolm stepped up to give the world a live and raw version of AC/DC and the result is a lot of groove and swagger but no classics.

My body’s blown a fuse
Rising power
We’ll raise the night
Rising power

Rise/Rising = hard on. Blow a fuse = climax. Johnson is rolling out the metaphors.

Rocket Queen
Guns N Roses

The closing track to the epic “Appetite For Destruction” album. It was never a single, but the audience knows the lyrics. It’s just one of those songs on an album full of audience classics.

I’ve got a tongue like a razor
A sweet switchblade knife
And I can do you favors
But then you’ll do whatever I like

Ahh, yes, Axl and his tongue… Guess someone is going down.

Here I am
And you’re a Rocket Queen

The opening lines of the Chorus. Every Gunner’s fan knows it.

I’ve seen everything imaginable
Pass before these eyes
I’ve had everything that’s tangible
Honey you’d be surprised

The rock and roll debauchery and decadence summed up in four lines.

And then that outro. It’s basically another song within a song. First the power chords and then the open E and B string arpeggios over shifting notes on the G string, mapping out the E major scale.

I see you standing
Standing on your own
It’s such a lonely place for you
For you to be
If you need a shoulder
Or if you need a friend
I’ll be here standing
Until the bitter end

You think you have friends and lovers when you’re a star and then when the lights go away, who is left.

Or think I, I mean you harm
Of those that take you
Leave you strung out
Much too far

Law enforcement efforts to stop cocaine and heroin increased the narcotic production ten-fold. The use of narcotics today is high and the war against drugs is 50 plus years old. And it’s the vulnerable/lonely people who turn to it. And the most vulnerable are our heroes, on the road, playing theaters or arenas and surrounded by people who profit from them.

Good Enough
Get Up

Van Halen

Any album (especially a Van Halen album) that kicks off with “Hello Baby”, you know you’re in for a ride. In “Good Enough” Sammy Hagar compares a great looking woman to a premium cut of beef. I’ll have another cut please.

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

“Get Up” is basically a speed rock song. And EVH breaks out some excellent riffage in this one as well.

Feel like throwin’ in the towel?
Don’t be a fool
They’re out to knock you out
And put you down for the count

I feel like throwing in the towel a lot of times. Some days feel like a battle against the forces of society. Making people believe that working hard and paying things off will get you freedom is a dream promoted by the banking sector and the 1% that control it.

Ah, there’s still some fight in me
That’s how it’ll always be
Hold your head up high, look ’em in the eye
Never say die

It’s the human spirit. Never say die, never give up. The thing with “5150” is the pop rock songs got so much attention. I’ll be honest, all of the pop songs are excellent, however it was a shame the real heavy rock songs like “Good Enough” and “Get Up” got lost in the noise.

Blindman
Aint Gonna Cry No More
Looking For Love
You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again

Whitesnake

Coming into 1980, Whitesnake was putting out an album a year and touring consistently. Then the Martin Birch produced “Ready an’ Willing” dropped, launching the song “Fool For Your Loving”, a piece written by Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and David Coverdale.

To me, “Ready an’ Willing” is the album that started Whitesnake’s rise which culminated in the 1987 self-titled album selling millions around the world.

My two favourites are “Blindman” (which is a derivative version of the Coverdale/Blackmore penned “Soldier Of Fortune”) and the very Led Zeppelin sounding, “Aint Gonna Cry No More”. Those songs also nail it lyrically for me. Talk about completely forgotten, no one under forty would know these songs.

“Chasing rainbows that have no end, The road is long without a friend….” from BLINDMAN
“Like a Blindman, I can feel the heat of the sun, But like a Blindman, I don’t know where it’s coming from…” from BLINDMAN

“Aint Gonna Cry No More” is White Led Zep Styx Snake and I swear Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades built Damn Yankees on the backs of songs like these. Influences aside, it’s a track that’s good enough to stand on its own

“Memories of broken dreams, As distant as the sun, Are drifting like an echo in the wind….” from AIN’T GONNA CRY NO MORE

Then fast forward to 1987 and two of the best tracks didn’t end up on the normal world-wide release.

I didn’t hear “Looking For Love” until many years later. It’s better than “Is This Love” however at over 6 minutes long, it wasn’t a commercially viable song. David Coverdale was shocked when he heard that John Kalodner would be cutting the song from the final album release.

The candle is burning, it’s way down low
I just need someone
To show me the way, the way to go
Which way to go

Isn’t life like that. We are always looking for some guidance. That’s why tarot card readers, astrologists, clairvoyants, psychologists have a career.

“You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”, “Don’t Break My Heart Again”. David Coverdale was the master song title re-user.

How huge is the riff in “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”.

Sykes goes to town on this song, a derivative version of “Children Of The Night”. It’s got all of his uniqueness in it, from fast palm muted staccato runs, a shredelicious and melodic lead and to using thirds and minor chord inversions instead of the standard power chords.

Perfect Timing
Knucklebones

David Lee Roth

“Perfect Timing” is written by David Lee Roth and keyboardist Brett Tuggle, so it’s got that melodic rock vibe happening.

I’m thinkin’ this is the right time
I’m hoping you feel the same
‘Cause that light at the end of the tunnel
Is the front of an oncoming train

It had to be David Lee Roth that linked love to standing on the train line in front of an oncoming train. Then again, he always had a way with words.

“Knucklebones” is written by Gregg and Matt Bissonette along with David Lee Roth.

So we’re hittin’ the road
And we’re pumpin’ thunder
Mama look out for down below
Get the show on the road
It’s the feeling we’re under
You can feel it right down to your knucklebones

One of a million songs about the rock and roll show.

One of these dark nights, as the saying goes
There’s some dirty work
To be done down by the crossroads
And I know it’s true

Always love a supernatural tale at the crossroads. There’s some dirty work to be done.

Livin’ For The Minute
Poison

It wasn’t even on the album. A B-side on the “Nothin’ But A Good Time” 7 inch single.

“Open Up and Say…Ahh!” was huge for Poison. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, “Nothin’ but a Good Time” and “Fallen Angel” took all the glory. Hell, even a cover of “Your Mama Don’t Dance” charted okay. But “Livin’ For The Minute” is just perfect.

Magazine covers always shootin’ poor Billy’s face
He kept a score of his ladies chalked up on his guitar case
He was a bad-ass rockin’, baby, always rollin’ out the sounds
Like some freight train come and did a six-string strut and just tore the damn place to the ground

It’s a character driven story about a guitar slinger called Billy, who kept a groupie monument in his guitar case and man, he could play. Sort of like Johnny. There is no doubt the song is influenced by “Johnny Be Goode” in the lyrical department. Quick! Call the lawyers.

Slave To Love
Quiet Riot

A great piece of melodic pop rock, however like many other bands that broke through in 1983/84, by 86/87 they became old news. Forgotten.

We made a slave to love
That’s what I’ll always be
A victim of your touch
You stole my soul and now I’m just a slave to love, yeah

DuBrow was never known as a great lyricist and I suppose that became his downfall. There are only so much clichéd and generic rhymes a fan could take. But for some reason AC/DC seemed to get away with it.

All The Fools Sailed Away
Dio

Music is written by Dio and Goldy, while lyrics are all done by Dio.

What can I say about this song that I haven’t said before about classic Dio songs?

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.

There’s perfect harmony
In the rising and the falling of the sea
And as we sail along
I never fail to be astounded by
The things we’ll do for promises

If our ancestors never set sail to find new lands, who knows what the world would be like. Our sense of adventure is the backbone of the human psyche.

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 haves and the have-nots. The divide is only getting bigger.

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.

They say you’re beautiful
And they’ll always let you in
But doors are never open
To the child without a trace of sin

I watched “Split” recently and the James McEvoy split personality character wouldn’t kill a person that was as beautiful as him (which meant scarred from some past abuse). And I suppose sin is what makes us who we are. How can we learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of others if we don’t make them or don’t believe we make them?

Stand Up And Fight
Fantasy

M.A.R.S

Putting this band, supergroup, one-off project together proved to be one of the best decisions ever made by Shrapnel Records supremo Mike Varney.

You have hotshot newcomer Tony MacAlpine on guitars. Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge are on bass/drums. Another newcomer in Rob Rock is on vocals. The potential is unlimited. The melodic rock is amped up to 11. Yeah, the lyrics are clichéd and some of the melodies and rhymes are overused, however don’t let that get in the way of a good listen.

The big X-factor, star quarterback, star centre forward is Tony MacAlpine. He’s a virtuoso keyboardist and guitarist all rolled into one. He churns out brilliant riff after brilliant riff. Craig Goldy was their original guitarist, but he left to join Dio and I think Tony MacAlpine had a better and more creative musical career than Goldy.

Isn’t it funny how a no-brainer decision in the past, in hindsight maybe didn’t pan out to be such a great decision?

“Stand up and fight for your rights, stand up and be free”

Prisoner
Dokken

From the excellent “Back For The Attack” album and it’s sequenced straight after “Kiss Of Death”. And it works. The basic Am to F to G chords underpin the song, while the double stop bends in the intro lead make it sound unique.

Then it slows down in the verse, only to build it all back up to the arena rock chorus. A great piece of song writing.

“I’m a prisoner chained by love”

Long Cold Winter
Cinderella

Blues music is simple however to make it sound simple is a challenge. In this case, Keifer and Co. show the hard rock MTV world how to play the blues and they make it sound simple.

“A long cold winter without your love”

Winds Of Change
Y&T

1981’s “Earthshaker” started Y&T’s rebirth. “Black Tiger” released in 1982 would enhance and refine their signature sound. The album was recorded in England and produced by Max Norman. At that time, he had just finished working with Randy Rhoads on two career defining albums, so he knew how to work with excellent Californian guitarists.

Winds of change
Blowing strongly

The song has this “Kings and Queens” Aerosmith vibe. I dig it.

Far From Over
Frank Stallone

Sly Stallone’s nepotism to family members is evident here. His brother Frank is singing one of the signature songs from the “Staying Alive” movie, which is the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever”.

I dig this song a lot. It’s written by Frank Stallone and Vince DiCola.

I’m diggin’ in,
I want it more than anything I’ve wanted

How bad do you want it and how far are you prepared to go to sacrifice to get it.

I am down but I am far from over

An unwritten rule of life.

On The Line
Tangier

After doing the Philadelphia scene for 5 plus years, the band finally got a chance to showcase for a few labels. ATCO head, Derek Schulman was successful in getting their signature and he got producer Andy Johns from Led Zeppelin fame on board for “Four Winds.”

“On The Line” has a good feel and groove, but man the lyrics about a stranger waiting in the alley way to take your life just don’t do it for me. Only Dee Snider could get away with lyrics like that.

Free’N’Easy
Devils Toy

The Almighty

Ricky Warwick is known today as the lead singer/guitarist for “Black Star Riders” but back in the 80’s/90’s he had a pretty cool band called “The Almighty”.

They were signed by Polydor in March 1989 and recorded their first album, “Blood, Fire and Love” the same year. These songs are from their second album “Soul Destruction” which was released in March 1991. I know I cheated by chucking these ones in the list.

“Everything is so Free ‘N’ Easy”

The modern-day slogan.

Love, only love,
Love is the devils toy

Yes, something so pleasurable has to be evil.

Driving Wheels
Last Frontier
Too Much Ain’t Enough Love
Walk On

Jimmy Barnes

I bet a lot of Journey fans would have no idea the influence of the Journey songwriters on this album. “Freight Train Heart” is the third studio album by Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes.

“Driving Wheels” is written by Barnes, Jonathan Cain and David Roberts. Yep, the same David Roberts who wrote songs for Bad English, Lee Aaron, House of Lords, Signal and Starship.

“Too Much Aint Enough Love” is written by Barnes, Cain, Neal Schon, Randy Jackson (bass player and recently known for his work on American Idol) and Tony Brock (drummer for The Babys and Jimmy Barnes).

“Do or Die” and “Last Frontier” are written by Barnes and Cain.

“I Wanna Get Started with You” is written by Barnes, Cain and Schon.

“I’m Still on Your Side” is written by Barnes, Cain and Jim Vallance. Yep the same Jim Vallance from Aerosmith and Bryan Adams fame.

“Lessons in Love” is written by Barnes, Vallance, Cain and Jeff Neill (Canadian guitarist who had success with Shama and Streetheart. He toured with Jimmy Barnes before dedicating his time to song writing and producing.

“Waitin’ for the Heartache” is written by Barnes and Desmond Child. Yep the same Desmond from Kiss, Jovi and Aerosmith fame.

“Walk On” is written by Desmond Child and Joe Lynn Turner. Yep the same Joe Lynn Turner from Rainbow fame. The track also appears on a Sunstorm album from 2009.

“Seven Days” is a track Bob Dylan wrote for Ronnie Wood.

Jonathan Cain was on hand to produce, however due to interference from Geffen Records and Cain’s creative vision being different to Barnsey’s vision, the album production was brought back to Australia, with Mick Stone producing and a supergroup of musicians playing on it.

It’s the rhythm of the highway
As he rolls on down
And city lights as they fade from sight
Drives the man behind the driving wheels

Truckie lifestyle, hell in the modern world it’s the morning two-hour commute to work for a lot of people.

Well he’s thought about settling down
A little diner on the edge of town
But in this world of push and shove
He’s still got freedom in his blood

The corporations, the banking industry and our leaders don’t like people like this. Hard to control and bring into the system.

The below is from “The Last Frontier”.

The lawless and the brave, searching for a dream
When all they found was sand and stone
Where rivers once had been

Australia was populated by the convicts and the ones who had dreams of a better life outside of the UK.

And suffered in a sunburnt land
Down in the last frontier

Australia is known as the sunburnt land.

And they sent them to another land
Into the greatest fear
To fight and die for freedoms cry
And for the last frontier

The U.K goes to war and their front lines are made up of soldiers from their colonies.

You Won’t See Me Cry
Signal

And if my world should end tonight
When you walk out of my life
You won’t see me cry

And that’s the end of another Forgotten playlist from the 80’s with an exception for “The Almighty” who even though the album was released in 91, it feels like it was heard in the 80’s.

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

On Fire and Not So On Fire

On Fire

The Night Flight Orchestra (the brilliant classic rock project from Swedish extreme metallers) have released three scorching pre-release singles from their third album, due in May. It started off with the Deep Purple inspired “Midnight Flyer”. Then came the super poppy “Gemini” with its Blondie feel and disco vibes and on Friday, we got the Steely Dan/Rolling Stones inspired “Sad State Of Affairs”.

Any concept story that has males fighting female commandos with pearl necklaces has my attention. Bring on TNFO.

Not So On Fire

Record labels are still fighting to block music piracy websites.

In Australia, it will cost the record labels $50 per name to have the website’s domain names blocked. The labels wanted the ISP’s to cover the costs, however the ISP’s argued the point and the courts agreed. But as numerous research has shown, the labels should be spending their money on ensuring that music is accessible to all instead of fighting piracy. And artists should be negotiating better streaming payments from their label instead of complaining about Spotify.

On Fire

Sweden’s music scene.

Call it the Max Martin effect. Call it government investment into the creative arts. For those that don’t know, Martin controls the pop charts, with 70% of the songs in the Top 10 written by Martin and his team of writers. Of course, Martin’s real name is Karl Martin Sandberg, and he’s from Sweden and he was a singer in a hard rock band which had a deal in the early 90’s.

His successes, coupled with the Swedish Government (along with other Northern European countries) investing heavily in the Arts sector equals a very healthy music scene of many genres.

Not So On Fire

Jail time for copyright infringement is on par with jail times for drug trafficking and murder. A 22-year-old in Sweden is facing a 5 year sentence for copyright infringements, while a serious drug trafficker in the same country gets a maximum of 3 years.

In the UK, 10 years in jail for copyright violations is now a reality as well.

On Fire

Blistered Earth have a career spreading the gospel of Metallica as a tribute band. One unfortunate night, they had their gear stolen. As a muso who has had gear stolen, it doesn’t feel too good. It actually feels like crap. Especially, when you don’t have the funds to replace the stolen gear. Well, straight from a scene from the movie “Pay It Forward”, Metallica ended up coming to the rescue and replaced the gear.

Not So On Fire

Australia is going all crazy on Copyright these days. Even to the stage where a copyright collection agency is “diverting payments intended for journalists and authors to a [$11 million] “future fund” to fight changes to the law.

And the world will still get the same bullshit messages about the service being to blame for low payments or the format. On Fire Adrenaline Mob is back. After the death of AJ Pero and the previous departure of Mike Portnoy, the band is still rolling. “King Of The Ring” just hit the streaming scene and it’s doing the rounds.

Not So On Fire

A few years back when Adrian Vandenberg tried to restart his pre-Whitesnake band called “Vandenberg” with new musicians, his 80’s bandmates went to court to stop him from using his own surname with new musicians. So Vandenberg became “Vandenberg’s Moon Kings”.

Actually a similar thing happened to Don Dokken after Dokken splintered in the late 80’s. Even though George Lynch hated the band name Dokken, he still stopped Don from using it after the break up. Go figure.

Anyway, on my Spotify New Release Radar, a song came up from a band called Vandenberg. I was intrigued and it looks like Vandenberg got to use his surname after all. But it wasn’t Adrian Vandenberg. It’s some techno group called Vandenberg and Spotify couldn’t differentiate between the rock band and the techno band. Not so on fire for Spotify, but also “not so on fire” to the courts and band mates that prevented Adrian from using his surname. Instead, we have a techno band using it.

On Fire

Netflix.

A hacker threatened to post online episodes of the “Orange Is The New Black” online if Netflix didn’t pay a ransom. The leak would have meant that the series was released one month ahead of its official June 9 release. Netflix did nothing and the hacker released the episodes. Netflix opted to do nothing and nothing really happened post release. The people who are Netflix subscribers and like the show, have no interest in downloading the episodes. They would rather wait. Even the “kitchen talk” social aspect the next day after an episode won’t start until Netflix airs the episodes. Some people might be ahead of the pack and post spoilers on-line, but the majority of fans will wait.

Not So On Fire

The Billboard Chart or any chart for that matter.

Do we still need this metric?

Charts are still there for the “old way of doing things” record companies to see who is succeeding or losing, because in today’s world they have no idea what’s happening. The chart might measure an instant impact, but it will not measure what is around for years.

It’s all about if people are listening. And if they are listening, are they throwing money down to see you live. And if they come to see you live, are they throwing money down for your merchandise. And SoundScan/Billboard without investing in anything, are trying to remain current. So they come up with a formula that so many streams equal a sale. But streams are not sales. They are listens. So it’s all a mess. What we need are charts that combine sales, streams, concert grosses, Google search items and torrents.

We live in a land of data, however when it comes to music, it’s always muddled. Because it’s fans that make the monies roll in music and no one is asking them who should be on top of the charts.

On Fire

For the sake of music and creativity, let’s hope that the courts finally throw out the stupid “Blurred Lines” plagiarism suit. While the Record labels talk about a music community when they do their own PR statements (which in other words they are talking about themselves), the real music community is in the latest filing condemning that a judge in the previous case believed a groove and an idea is copyrightable.

Not So On Fire

Artists are still mad at Spotify for the streaming rates they pay when people listen to their music.

But the fact that Spotify and Universal Music (just one record label) agreed to a new licensing deal, which means multi millions of dollars to the record label, the artists are silent.

Why?

They should be getting a cut from this licensing arrangement, as it’s their songs the labels are using as leverage in its negotiations with Spotify.

And for the songwriters who write songs that other artists perform and songs that record labels use as leverage in negotiating deals, you can hear their complaints about the pennies paid to them on news stories from time to time.

There are a few things these songwriters can do;

  1. Write a new song that is a hit. You don’t hear Max Martin complaining about the streaming rates coming his way.
  2. Renegotiate their royalty arrangement with the label and their publisher.

Remember in 2008, when 30 Seconds To Mars, ended up $1.4 million in debt to their label, even though they had sold over two million records. They took each other court. EMI for breach of contract and the band for unpaid royalties.

“Spotify is giving up 70 percent of all their revenues to rights owners. It’s just that people don’t know where the money is because the record labels haven’t been transparent.” Bono – U2 

Spotify is not the enemy; piracy is the enemy,” Quincy Jones

“Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny. We’re trying to build a new music economy that works for artists in a way the music industry never has before.” Daniel Ek 

On Fire

TV shows.

Do a great TV show with no filler episodes and watch people gravitate. As a fan of the “American Gods” book, the first episode is a win.

Not So On Fire

The Album.

Being a Spotify Premium user for 2 and a half years, I can honestly say that the album is irrelevant. Even for bands I like, I hear it once, select my favourite songs on the initial listen and add those to playlists.

As an artist, is it better to get four to five songs out every 4 to six months or 10 to 14 songs every 2 years?

In 2017, whatever is new lasts for minutes. So a new album, will last for a few minutes before we move on. But a great collection of songs more frequently that inspires people to spread the word is a better alternative.

No one cares that Bon Jovi’s new album stiffed. It was just an event to go and sell out stadiums and arenas. It’s a hit game.

Even when albums sold a lot in the 80’s it was still a hit game. “Home Sweet Home” and “Smokin In the Boys Room” sold a poor Motley Crue album. Let’s not forget the follow-up which only had “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side”. Speak to any fan of the band and it’s very rare they would say they purchased “Theatre Of Pain” because of “City Boy Blues”.

Even Five Finger Death Punch who sell albums today need to produce hits to sell the albums.

Even Metallica’s new album is selling on the backs of a few songs, like “Spit Out The Bone”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Now That We’re Dead”, “Atlas Rise” and “Here Comes Revenge”. But Metallica is a niche themselves, in total control of their destiny as they control their own copyrights.

But without a hit, you’re a niche artist, like Dream Theater. The album cycle works for them and their fans. And they still tour. Because they have a legacy, but every artist can build a legacy.

Release more frequently and watch your catalogue build on Spotify. While sales are good, they tell only part of the story. Streams (listens) are important and if they are growing, it means people are taking the time to listen.

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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

Dokken 2016

It’s October 1989 and the issue of “Guitar World” hits the newsstands. It was a period of change for a lot of guitarists. Steve Stevens was on the cover with the headline, “Life After Billy Idol” and right next to Stevens was a boxed picture of George Lynch with the headline “Bye-Bye Dokken”.

Hard rock and metal was a commercial behemoth in the 80’s and in a lot of the bands that tasted “success”, you always had a guitarist that could have, should have, would have, stolen the spotlight from the lead singer. So it was no surprise towards the end of the Eighties, those guitarists actually breaking free from the band and going out on their own or via a new band where they are the band leader.

Think Jake E. Lee, Steve Vai, George Lynch, Steve Stevens, Zakk Wylde and Slash all going their own ways.

But this post is about Dokken, a very talented band mired in chaos and resentment. The fact that Don Dokken got a record deal under his own name via songs written by George Lynch and Mick Brown was enough of an earthquake to shake the foundations.

So when a band from this era gets back together for the money, what should we expect?

As Don Dokken puts it;

“I approached George and Jeff, and I said, ‘You guys wanna make a s—load of money for about one week of work?’ And I told them the price, and I told them how much I wanted and how much they’d make, and, basically, they could make more money in one week than they’d probably make in several years. And so everybody said, ‘Okay,’”. So I said, ‘Well, I’ll do it on the condition that I don’t wanna do it in America or Europe or anywhere else. Just six shows in Japan.’ ‘Cause we were very big in Japan, and it’s just a reunion tour. So they agreed, and we’re gonna do six shows in Japan.”

25 plus years from 1989, one thing is certain; the sound and the songs do not remain the same. I for one would pay to see the band live if they came to Australia, however it would be for nostalgic reasons more than anything.

The last time the members of the classic 1980s lineup got together was for on November 29, 2009 at the House of Blues in Anaheim, California for a two-song encore of “When Heaven Comes Down” and “In My Dreams”. Reunion talks happened and went.

A recent set list from Lynch Mob show attended by 200 fans, shows that George Lynch should be in fine form to play the songs.

Included in the 12 song Lynch Mob set are “When Heaven Comes Down”, “Into the Fire”, “The Hunter”, “Mr. Scary” and “Tooth and Nail” from Lynch’s Dokken days. Would “Mr Scary” make an appearance in a Dokken concert in 2016. Even Don Dokken had a dig at the Lynch Mob “bar gigs”.

“I feel bad for my agents, ’cause they’re getting bombarded from these offers for us to play these big festivals all over the world as a reunion, but I’m just not interested. I’m sorry, I’m just not. Jeff’s busy. He plays like crazy in Foreigner. He’s on the road. George is out, you know, playing the bars with Lynch Mob, so everybody’s busy.”

I am just picturing Lynch asking Dokken why he said what he said before the first show of the reunion. Because if you believe what Jeff Pilson said on Mitch Lafon’s podcast, there should be no more digs at each other;

“We’re actually working really hard to try and pull something together right now. It has to fall in spaces where there is time off [from my gig with FOREIGNER], so I don’t know for sure whether it’s gonna happen. So let’s just say we’re all friendly now, we’re all past all the decades-old crap, and we all talk and everything’s great. Now it really is just down to scheduling and trying to figure it out. Because, you know, you’ve gotta do it right, if you’re gonna do it. We all feel that way.”

Guess Don Dokken has gotten over the decades old crap.

Is the drama of Dokken worth it?

A Japanese promoter believes so. But being huge back in the 80’s doesn’t mean you are still huge right now because bands need to replenish their fan base with the younger generations.

Has Dokken done enough to replenish its 80’s fanbase with kids born in the Nineties and Two Thousands?

Is it about the fans or more about the payday?

So many questions, yet so few answers. One thing is certain, expect to hear more Dokken stories as the shows get closer.

Pilson is already talking about a musical track that he and Lynch wrote and sent to Don for lyrics and vocal melodies. If Don, doesn’t complete it, would there be resentment?

For me, Dokken holds a special place and the fact that on their day they could be one of the heaviest speed metal bands around (think “Tooth and Nail”, “Turn On The Action”, “Lightning Strikes Again”, “Kiss Of Death”, etc…) or the most melodic poppy metal band out there with “In My Dreams”, “Just Got Lucky”, “Alone Again”, “Into The Fire”, “Heaven Sent”, etc.. is brilliant.

I suppose we all should get ready for Dokken 2016 and the stories the reunion would bring to our lives.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Branding

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

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

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

So was Dokken really a band?

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

Think about it for a second.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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