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

1984 – Ep 1

I bought a few CD’s recently. They are still in the plastic wrapping. I don’t even think I will be opening them as I am listening to the music via Spotify.

I used to buy CD’s weekly once upon a time. It wasn’t really news, but hey we are in 2018 and just buying a CD is news. Even though I stream, the itch to buy is still there. Old habits die hard. And the majority of music fans are collectors, so we collect CD’s and vinyls the same way people collect stamps, coins, sports cards, instruments and what not.

The recording industry did an incredible job in brain washing us to believe we needed to purchase these products. They did have a few false starts in the 40’s and 50’s, however the post WW2 rebuilding phase started to put people into jobs, which meant money to spend in society. And once they got a foothold, their Government granted monopoly just kept on growing.

Anyway, buying CD’s got me thinking about vinyl records and how I was pretty peeved that vinyl records got stopped. And just like that, I was in an 80’s mood.

So here is the playlist.

Dokken – Tooth And Nail
Elektra wanted to drop em. Lynch and Dokken wanted to drop each other. Croucier dropped them for Ratt. Werman dropped the producing gig because of everything that came before. Lynch dropped in and out of the band a lot of times. Eventually Pilson dropped into the band to replace Croucier on the recommendation of Shrapnel Records boss Mike Varney. Michael Wagner dropped in to record the vocals, while Roy Thomas Baker dropped in to do the rest.

For a band threatened to be dropped, the production team was top notch. Werman would have got his cut, Roy Thomas Baker and Michael Wagner, would also get their cut. And then you have the record deal that Don Dokken got by using the songs Lynch and Brown had written. Imagine being in a band where Don Dokken would get the money and then he would need to pay Lynch, Brown and Pilson.

But they had Q Prime Management in their corner. In Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, Dokken had an influential team who could build them up into global superstars, organise the tours, the record deals, the funding, the video clips and what not.

Side one kicks off with the instrumental “Without Warning”. For a song that’s 1:35 long, it’s showing Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson as songwriters. Seriously. Three dudes for a minute and thirty five seconds. I don’t think so. Moving on, the title track “Tooth and Nail” kicks in, delivering a 1-2 knockout punch. It’s basically a speed metal song written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson.

Desperate living- driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall

Such powerful words from people about to call it quits.

“”Just Got Lucky” written by Lynch and Pilson came next but it didn’t get lucky in the charts. “Heartless Heart” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson deals with a heartless baby who lied. And finally, lead singer Don Dokken gets a song writing credit for the side 1 closer “Don’t Close Your Eyes” co-written with Lynch and Pilson. Lyrically it could have been used for the first “Nightmare On Elm Street” movie.

Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame

Side two fires up with “When Heaven Comes Down” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson and it’s followed by “Into the Fire” written by Dokken, Lynch and Pilson about a relationship which is wrong and somehow it goes sour and now he is falling into the fire. I had a theory once, it’s about Lucifer.

“Bullets to Spare” is written by the band and seriously it’s terrible lyrically, linking bullets to spare to a certain substance that comes out of a male. The big power ballad “Alone Again” is written by Dokken and Pilson and it’s underpinned by a great lead from Lynch. The album closes with another speed metal song in “Turn On the Action” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson, the same team that wrote “Tooth and Nail”.

I’m looking over my shoulder
I’m running reckless through the night
Forever young not getting older
Satisfaction guaranteed tonight

Who didn’t do something naughty or slightly illegal in their youth and when we made our great escape, we laughed but constantly looked over our shoulder in case someone was chasing us.

And while Lynch got a lot of press and front covers in the guitar mags, and Don Dokken got a lot of press and covers in Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Faces and what not, the real hero of this album is Jeff Pilson. While others let egos get in the way of creating, Pilson went on with the task of creating and he co-wrote every single song on the album and paved the way for Dokken (the band) to have a career.

Van Halen – 1984
I will try my best to keep this review as short as possible as this album is highly influential to me, especially the songs “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”. Actually, this album and “5150” are the ones I always go back to. And there is no denying that EVH was at the peak of his powers between 1983 and 1987. It’s like everything he touched turned to gold.

It’s also the last VH album to feature David Lee Roth until 2012’s “A Different Kind of Truth” and it’s also their biggest album to date in relation to sales and now streams. However as Sammy Hagar likes to point out to DLR, the Van Hagar albums went to Number 1 on the charts, while the Van Roth albums didn’t. But Van Roth albums outsell Van Hager albums. And the VH fan base streams more of the Roth era songs than the Hagar era songs.

Like many bands which start out, each album shows songs written by all members, however it’s rarely the case that all members contributed to the song writing. Van Halen kept this going for every album, even with Hagar. However, when Van Halen, which is now a company run in conjunction with management, renegotiated their royalty deal with Warner Bros in 2004, Michael Anthony was left off the song writing credits. People argued that Alex Van Halen also should have been left off as a songwriter, as all the music came from EVH and all the lyrics from Roth except for “I’ll Wait”.

Jump
I wrote “Jump” on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-10 in my bedroom while the studio was being built. Every time I got the sound that I wanted on the right-hand split section of the keyboard, it would start smoking and pop a fuse. I got another one and the same thing happened. A guy I knew said I should try an Oberheim OB-Xa, so I bought one of those and got the sound I wanted.
EVH

A band I was in from the 90’s wanted to cover it. The problem was, we had no keyboard player, so I had to learn the synth riff and lead on the guitar. The riff was cool to play and the lead was 70% of the recording with the other 30% improv.

For those who want to know, the synth hook was inspired by the Hall & Oates track “Kiss on My List”. Producer Templeman hated it. Roth hated it. Funny how Roth’s biggest hit as a solo artist “Just Like Paradise” also revolves around a keyboard riff.

Panama
The riff.

I remember pausing and rewinding the cassette tape to learn it. Only I didn’t do a very good job as I couldn’t make out all the nuances of the different triad chords moving under the pedal tones.

When the guys once asked me to write something with an AC/DC beat, that ended up being “Panama.” It really doesn’t sound that much like AC/DC, but that was my interpretation of it.
EVH

Oh, but it does sound like AC/DC. Listen to the riff just before the verse kicks in. It’s AC/DC on steroids.

Top Jimmy
It’s a swinging/out there Van Halen track.

For “Top Jimmy” I had a melody in my head and I tuned the guitar to that melody. Steve Ripley had sent me one of his stereo guitars that had 90 million knobs and switches on it. That was too much for me to comprehend, so I asked him for a simpler version. He sent me one with a humbucker in the bridge and two single-coils at the middle and neck positions. It was just a prototype.
EVH

Drop Dead Legs
That was inspired by AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” I was grooving on that beat, although I think that “Drop Dead Legs” is slower. Whatever I listen to somehow is filtered through me and comes out differently. “Drop Dead Legs” is almost a jazz version of “Back in Black.” The descending progression is similar, but I put a lot more notes in there.
EVH

Remember progress is derivative.

Take what came before, tweak it, slow it down, alter it, swing it, mash it and what you have as the end result is something that is yours. It’s the way art evolves and it’s the way music has evolved. Don’t let no one tell you any different and all of those artists and heirs of artists who believe they are so original, they aren’t. They are full of crap. We are all a sum of our influences.

Hot for Teacher
The film clip came first for me. It’s brilliant and who can forget the teacher.

If you want to hear this song’s embryo, then check out the 70s demo from Van Halen called “Voodoo Queen”. Actually you will hear riffs in that song that appeared in other Van Halen album songs as well.

I’m a shuffle guy. I love fast shuffles. I think that stems from my dad’s big-band days. Every Van Halen record has a song like that—“I’m the One,” “Sinner’s Swing.” It was an extension of that—more of me! I distinctly remember sitting in front of Al on a wooden stool and playing that part during my solo where it climbs. Well, I can’t count, so Al needs to follow me. I’d sit right in front of him, and then he’d look at me like, “Now!”
EVH

It’s a full on jam song. If you don’t believe me, check out the solo section. There is no backing guitar. It’s just bass and drums holding down the rhythm, while EVH wails.

I’ll Wait
Co-written with Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan veteran Michael McDonald. Roth and Templeman both voted it out, however Eddie and engineer Donn Landee prevailed. As a guitarist, the keyboard riff is pretty cool to play on guitar.

Ted hated that song. When I played it for him, he kept humming “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent just to piss me off. It doesn’t sound anything like that.
EVH

And that keyboard riff before the solo belongs in a Rocky movie, especially in the training montages.

Girl Gone Bad
This song is basically Rush merged with “Achilles Last Stand” from Led Zep.

I always carried a microcassette recorder with me. I recorded my idea for “Girl Gone Bad” by humming and whistling into it in the closet of a hotel room while Valerie was sleeping.
EVH

The beauty of Van Halen was their unhinged jams and this song sounds exactly like that.

House of Pain
“House of Pain” originally dates back to the demos Van Halen recorded for Warner Bros.

The only thing that’s the same is the main riff. The intro and verses are different, I guess because nobody really liked it the way that it originally was.
EVH

Always taking what came before and tweaking it for something better. It’s the way we create art. EVH is a master at it.

Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
The film clips hooked me in and I became a fan. While those film clips sold the album, my first TS purchase was “Come Out And Play” on LP and man, I played that album to death. This album was purchased on cassette tape at the start of 1986.

I remember as a kid it struck me as unusual that all songs are written by Dee Snider, because he’s only listed as vocals. I was like, how come Jay Jay and Eddie don’t have no credits as the music is dominated by guitars. We’ll it’s been explained in great detail in Dee’s bio how the song writing process worked for him.

Stay Hungry
A nod to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If your fire has faded and you can’t feel it no more
If your tired and overrated, let me show you to the door
Expect no sympathy, There’s none to be had

In other words, you never quit.

We’re Not Gonna Take It
The film clip was into every TV screen around the world at that point in time. And we all resonated with the “right to choose our own paths and fight the powers that be” message of the song. Hell, my little guy learned how to talk by saying “Twishhted Shishter,  Vere Not Gonna Hake It” into the YouTube microphone.

Eventually he started to pronounce the words perfectly.

Burn in Hell
This is the Twisted Sister I became a fan off. Cuts like this, “S.M.F”,  “Run For Your Life”, “Under The Blade”, “The Fire Still Burns”, “Come Out And Play”, “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” and “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll”.

The doomy start is a perfect welcoming for all the listeners coming into the abandoned hand. And from 1.17, the song really shifts gear.

Take a good look in your heart, tell me what do you see
It’s black and its dark, now is that how you want it be
It’s up to you what you do will decide your own fate
Make your choice now for tomorrow will be way too late

Great lyrics. Our fates are tied to the choices we make. If we hate, we walk the path to hate. If we love and help others, we walk a different path.

Horror-Teria (The Beginning):
a) Captain Howdy
b) Street Justice
I didn’t appreciate these songs back in the 80’s. After “Burn In Hell” I would press the fast forward button on the cassette deck and wait until the reel went to the end. I would open the tape deck and change the side of the cassette from side 1 to side 2. Oh, how my kids have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.

But these songs are a concept story within a song. Progressive rock bands do this a lot. Hell even Greenday did it.

I Wanna Rock
And I was greeted with this. The opener on Side 2. Another song with a film clip to match and with a message of don’t tell us to turn it down and cut our hair. We are the youth of rock and we wanna rock.

The Price
The intro lead break hooked me in. I loved it. It wasn’t highly technical, it wasn’t a thousand notes, but it was emotive.

And the lyrics showcase the emotions involved for a person to have a career in music.

Don’t Let Me Down
A relationship song on an album which is littered with songs about standing up for your rights was confusing. Nevertheless, it’s still a cool song and it rocks along at a cool speed as well.

The Beast
It’s “Destroyer” part 2. I never associated this song with some natural force moving in like a predator to take someone’s life. I always associated “The Beast” as the “Hard Rock and Heavy Metal” movement happening at the time and how it was so natural.

So when Dee sings “You are his only target, you’re his only goal”, it’s like an analogy for how Rock and Roll has set its sights on a person and it will not leave that person alone until it converts them into a fan.

S.M.F.
The massive closer for all of the SMF’s and one of my favourites. The real TS anthem, the hit that never was about the black sheep of the family being a metal machine and when they went to the rock and roll show, they saw thousands of others just like them.

The album was released as “Still Hungry” in the 2000’s with all of the above songs re-recorded along with a couple of new ones.

“Never Say Never” is more or less a speed metal punk song. “Blasting Fast and Loud” is a groovy 12 bar blues punk song however if both songs were actually written for “Stay Hungry” they didn’t cut it.

“Come Back” is a good listen but not worthy of album inclusion while “Plastic Money” is a miss. “You Know I Cry” I always enjoyed from the Club Daze live performances. Actually you can hear the embryo of “Stay Hungry” on this track in the riffing and drumming.

“Rock N Roll Saviors” starts of like “Children Of The Grave” from Sabbath. Even in the verses, it’s got that feel.

“Heroes Are Hard To Find” is a classic Twisted Sister song. It made its appearance on the “Strangeland” soundtrack in the late 90’s, however I don’t know if it was written during the “Stay Hungry” period.

The album was then re-issued as a deluxe edition with the demos of the album appearing on the second side.

“Death from Above” has a decent riff and “Prime Motivator” has a decent bass groove. Both songs have good melodies but the lyrics don’t do em justice. “Death Run” was re-written and it became “Kill Or Be Killed”. “This One’s for You” has a sleazy riff but you can hear why it never made the album. “We’re Coming On” is an interesting one. I reckon it could have worked on the album. It has all the ingredients of a classic Twisted Sister song. And when you have a chorus that screams “We’re Coming On like a mf”, you can’t go wrong.

“Call My Name” and “Our Voice Will Be Heard” got a remake for Dee’s solo album, “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down” and to be honest, both songs are favourites of mine. “Pay the Price” is a song from their “Club Daze” which is probably why it never made a Twisted album. It just wasn’t good enough as Dee became a better songwriter as he got older. “What’s Love Without You” is also a miss.

“You Got to Fight” has all of the classic elements of the “youth of the world” fighting for their futures and their voices against the institutions and our leaders and maybe they should have taken it to the studio to finish off.

“30” is a cool AC/DC style track released with this edition, however it wasn’t written for the “Stay Hungry”. It was written as a 30 year anniversary track and it was released as a stand-alone single. It’s a cool song to have in the Twisted Sister catalogue.

There is always the argument between quality and quantity. I believe if you write 30 songs for an album, you will be able to get 10 quality tracks. And once upon a time, this kind of thing happened. I know some bands wrote 10 songs for the album and all 10 appeared on the album.  So it’s no surprise that Twisted Sister’s most successful album had a lot of different songs considered for it before the final nine got selected.

RATT – Out of the Cellar
I had “Out Of The Cellar” dubbed on a cassette. Before I got the album dubbed, Ratt was purely a video band for me. The video clip for “Round and Round” was played on every TV station. I always had blank VHS cassettes and my finger on the record button.

And revisiting this album, it’s no surprise that Ratt’s biggest album has a lot of song writing contributions from Robbin Crosby, the real Ratt’N’Roller.

Wanted Man
Side 1 opens up with this track. The credits show Robbin Crosby and Stephen Pearcy as songwriters, however bassist Joey Cristofanilli, who had briefly substituted for Juan Croucier is also a co-writer, however it’s never been properly clarified.

What a shredalicious lead break?

Round and Round
The other good song on Side 1. This one is written by Robbin Crosby, Stephen Pearcy and Warren DeMartini.

What a riff to kick it off?

It’s big, hooky and melodic. It’s also good enough to please the metal audience and the rock audience. And when Stephen Pearcy starts singing about meeting out on the streets, our simple brains resonated. Those lyrics today would be something like, “Out on these cyber streets, its where we meet”.

And when that harmony lead break comes in, it’s just a perfect end to the solo section.

Lack of Communication
Side two opens up with this track written by Pearcy and Juan Croucier. The riff is that good, Pearcy and co mimicked the vocal chorus line off it.

And for a Ratt song, it’s got some good lyrics.

Too many problems, the world can’t solve
Too many people, no one wants to be involved

People want to be involved but no one listens to them. School children are demonstrating for gun-reform and the adults in power are failing to listen. People are demonstrating against the FCC changing net neutrality laws to benefit corporations and no one in power is listening. In Cape Town, South Africa, they are going to run out of water and no one in power is doing anything. In Nigeria, 100 plus schoolgirls get kidnapped from a school and no one does anything. 5 years ago, the same number also got kidnapped and they still haven’t returned.

Put up our boundaries, we build our walls
It’s alright, no-ones gonna change us at all

In the past, kings and queens had their castles fortified behind walls and walls, to keep undesirable people and invaders out.

How did that work out as a long term policy?

Back for More
It’s a Crosby and Pearcy cut, under pinned by a fantastic melodic riff. From memory, I think the song was in the key of A minor.

The Morning After
One of my favourite cuts because of the riff and it’s also written by the same song writing committee that produced “Round and Round”.

The lead break is also structured like “Round and Round”, where it starts off with some shredding and then it goes into a harmony break, which by the way is all killer.

I’m Insane
It’s a cut Robbin Crosby wrote in his pre-Ratt band. It’s basically a speed metal song straight from the NWOBHM scene.

While side 1 had the hits, side 2 was stronger.

And every good song on this album was underpinned by a memorable riff.

Iron Maiden – Powerslave
I had this on cassette. I actually had “Live After Death” on cassette first and after “Somewhere In Time” came out, I purchased this album on cassette.

Seriously, how good is the cover. Remember when you used to purchase an album based on the cover alone.

And the 13 month world tour had Maiden visiting 28 countries and in the process, they kick started South and Central America’s devotion to the band.

Aces High
Side one opens up with this. But I enjoy the Live version with Churchill’s Speech before it.

Written by Steve Harris, this song is relentless. It’s got key changes and what not. The intro starts in the key of A minor, the verse riff is in E minor with a key change to G minor. The Chorus also has a Em to Gm key change.

Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die
Run, live to fly, fly to live, Aces high

When Maiden reformed, this chorus become a sing along arena rock chorus. Who would have thought? Credit the fanatical South American fan base and the “Rock In Rio” DVD.

Minutes to Midnight
It’s basically a killer one/two knockout punch and like the “Live After Death” release, these two songs go hand in hand.

Adrian Smith’s addition to Maiden made them a lot better. This song is written by Smith and Bruce Dickinson and the One Riff to Rule Em All is also the main riff for this song.

Go to war again, blood is freedom’s stain
Don’t you pray for our soul anymore

The borders that we know exist because of the blood our ancestors spilt for freedom.

2 minutes to midnight,
The hands that threaten doom.

Nuclear war was once a reality. Maybe it is again between the US and North Korea.

The body bags and little rags of children torn in two
And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you
As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song
To the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun.

More like starving billions.

Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)
It’s listed as written by Harris, so if you believe his haters, it means he copied it from someone or stole their intellectual property. I seriously can’t believe our world has come to this.  The section from 2.34 to about 3.20 is why this song is on this list. If it doesn’t lift you up and inspire you, then I have no words.

Flash of the Blade
Written by Dickinson about a young boy chasing dragons. Did he write the cool open string intro riff?

Who knows, but it’s a pretty cool riff.

The Duellists
Another Harris track about a swordfight to the death.

Back in the Village
Side 2 opens up with this cool track, written by Smith and Dickinson.

Turn the spotlights on the people
Switch the dial and eat the worm
Take your chances, kill the engine
Drop your bombs and let it burn

Is it about Vietnam and the Napalm bombing of villages?

Powerslave
It’s up there as one of Maiden’s best songs and it’s written by Dickinson.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death

For all the wealth and power people have, they cannot buy or negotiate their way out of death. It’s the only certainty in life, for every human who is born, will eventually die.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.
So bring me the blood and
Red wine for the one to succeed me,
For he is a man and a God –
And He will die too.

And the circle of life keeps on repeating. A person dies, a successor is made and in time they will die as well.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Another Harris track to close the album and what about the music. It’s got everything, great riffs for both bass and guitar, a cool drum groove and vocal melodies to match.

That section from about 8.30 that starts building up from the bass interlude into the lead feels like it’s desk breaking time.

And that harmony lead break from about the 10 minute mark. It’s perfect.

To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.

So many evils are unleashed due to the killing of the albatross. Don’t disrespect the old wives tales. There is truth there.

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA
I got this on LP as a gift and spun it to death.

It’s rock and roll music for the bars and the pubs and in my opinion it’s a pretty good reason why the album is so successful. Everyone in those venues played the album on the jukebox and every band that played covers in those venues played songs from the album.

It was my first Springsteen album and I was blown away at how solid and catchy each song is. Seven Top 10 singles and 15 million plus sold in the U.S alone. Not bad for a rock and roll album and not bad for a guy from Jersey. Hell, even John Cougar Mellencamp’s career got a boost from Springsteen. With every genre defining album, the labels are quick to jump on genres. American Heartland music was the term and suddenly “Scarecrow” has a budget to be recorded and a year later it’s everywhere. Same deal with Tom Petty and “Southern Accents”.

Born in the U.S.A
The album opens up with the snare and keyboard riff and the iconic lines of “Born down in a dead man’s town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground, end up like a dog that’s been beat too much, till you spend half your life just covering up now”.

So many of us are born in these towns which boomed while the factories boomed after the wars. But all towns have their rogue element and kids get into trouble and adults get into trouble. And those factories experience hard times and suddenly, the great town is losing its soul.

And that chorus. Man, even people not born in the U.S.A were screaming it in their bedrooms and at the gig. And there’s no lead break, just a band jamming on a riff and Springsteen coming up with once in a lifetime generational lyrics.

Cover Me
The times are tough now, just getting tougher
This old world is rough, it’s just getting rougher

Springsteen sums up it all up with these two opening lines. And as much as we smile and put our happiest faces on social media, the reality is different. Times are tough. Try living without using your credit card and just your wages. Try buying a house with your savings and no loan from the bank. It’s tough, I know.

This whole world is out there just trying to score
I’ve seen enough, I don’t want to see any more

The other epidemic in civilization is narcotics.

I get up in the morning and do a cleaning job close to home from 5am to 7am. I come home, have a shower, put on my office suit and then do my normal job from 8am to 4pm. After work, I coach kids in soccer. U7’s from 4.30pm to 5.30pm and U14s from 5.30pm and 7pm. I come home and the cycle repeats the next day. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meanwhile, the drug dealers poison other people’s children, while they get to be around their children, provided they haven’t been arrested.

Darlington County
It’s a cool tune about two dudes called Bruce and Wayne from NY City, whose Dad’s own each of the World Trade Towers (remember them – actually who can forget them and how they came down), driving down to Darlington County on the fourth of July for a little fun and it ends up with Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a State Trooper’s Ford.

Working on the Highway
Springsteen is showing his 60’s influences on this one.

Friday night’s pay night, guys fresh out of work
Talking ’bout the weekend, scrubbing off the dirt
Some heading home to their families, some are looking to get hurt
Some going down to Stovell wearing trouble on their shirts

There was a working factory class once upon a time. Now the kids of that class are bankers or techies, while the factories moved to Bangladesh, Taiwan and China.

I work for the county out on 95
All day I hold a red flag and watch the traffic pass me by

Working on the highway, laying down the blacktop
Working on the highway, all day long I don’t stop
Working on the highway, blasting through the bedrock
Working on the highway, working on the highway

And the working factory class is replaced by a new class called infrastructure building. Our governments are constantly zoning land for new developments, which means more roads, bigger roads and more motorway’s connecting these areas. If they can’t build the motorways on land, they will tunnel it.

Downbound Train
This song is my favourite. I think it’s because I always caught the train into the city, so it was a memory of walking to the train station, the 90 minute ride, the laugh with friends and just the pure innocence of it all.

For the song, the guitar groove and the lyrics just connect from the outset.

I had a job, I had a girl
I had something going, mister, in this world
I got laid off down at the lumber yard
Our love went bad, times got hard

And people wonder why Springsteen was called “The Boss”. So much truth in the lyrics. He’s reflecting society back at us.

Now I work down at the car wash
Where all it ever does is rain
Don’t you feel like you’re a rider
On a downbound train?

When it goes bad, it really goes bad. And sometimes, the only way out of a bad situation is to have the guts and move to a different city because if you stay in your hometown, there is a good chance you will be screaming, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”.

I’m on Fire
Again, everyone was singing, “Hey little girl is your daddy home” from the top of their lungs. And not bad for a song that was demoed and good enough to keep as is.

No Surrender
And side two kicks off with another favourite.

Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school

It’s how I learned about life. Drop the needle on an album, kick back and digest the lyrics. Any word I didn’t know the meaning, I would look it up. Any reference to something as an analogy, I would find it in the library. But in the end, the records told me that love is great when it’s good and pretty sad when it goes bad. The records told me that everyone who is born, will have an end. The records told me about social problems, history and fantasy.

Bobby Jean
Now, you hung with me when all the others
Turned away, turned up their nose
We liked the same music, we liked the same bands
We liked the same clothes

Friendships or relationships with mutual tastes are killers when they end.

I’m Goin’ Down
I wonder what kind of “going down” Springsteen was singing about.

Glory Days
Another cool story about catching up with two friends and talking about glory days. One was a big baseball player in high school and the other was a girl who turned the boys heads back.

Dancing in the Dark
Springsteen at his catchiest and cheekiest, basically saying, he’s home after a night out, he has a loaded gun and he needs a little help to make it fire. So in other words, Dancing In The Dark is a clean way to say “let’s have sex”.

My Hometown
Everyone could relate to this.

In ’65, tension was running high at my high school
There was a lot of fights between the black and white, there was nothing you could do
Two cars at a light on a Saturday night, in the backseat there was a gun
Words were passed, in a shotgun blast troubled times had come

In my hometown
My hometown

I never grew up with these kind of tensions, but on some days in the 80’s, I swear it could have exploded. Because there are still people aggrieved with what happens. There are black people who feel the push to equality is not enough or too late. There are white people who still believe they should enslave black people. And year after year, the eggshells which people walk on, start to break. Until it explodes.

Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more
They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says, these jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back

To your hometown

I grew up in a steel city. The factories employed over 30,000 people. European migrants came to Australia to work in these factories. But then, it started to change. By the mid 90’s my hometown was vacant stores. We had three banks on the Main Street and suddenly we had none. All the fruit and veg shops and convenience shops shut up shop, as a large shopping centre was built 5 minutes away. But we still had three Pubs, a RSL club and a Leagues Club. All with pokie machines and a lot of alcohol.

Last night me and Kate, we laid in bed, talking about getting out, Packing up our bags, maybe heading south

I actually did get out and go south, about 30 minutes’ drive from my hometown, while my parents still live in the same house they purchased when they arrived from Europe. And suddenly a house which sold for $80K in 1998 across the road from my parents now sold for $600K. You see, my hometown is right on the beach. It has views of the Pacific Ocean. My parent’s house is on top of the hill. And when I moved out, I knew it was only a matter a time before my hometown became great again. The shutting of the steel factories and cooper smelters did hurt it. But in time, new businesses have come about. And Main Street has been getting a revitalisation over the last 10 years, with café’s, restaurants, hairdressers and a lot of other businesses popping up. And we still have two Pubs out of three left and a Leagues club.

Stryper – The Yellow and Black Attack
I got this album from a Saturday market on the same day I purchased the “To Hell With The Devil” album.

Loud ‘N’ Clear
I dig the guitar riff written by Michael Sweet. And yeah, I know in the verses he sings about wearing his hair long and looking like a freak, but he will always praise His name. Well, I always took His name to be Rock and Roll.

Loud, clear, let the people hear
Scream, shout, show what it’s all about

Like so many other songs from the 80’s. It was all about a statement, about accepting people for who they are.

C’mon Rock
Another Michael Sweet composition.

We’re here to rock for you an rock is what we’ll do
Until your body feels the sound
So don’t be afraid to shout cause that’s what it’s all about
We’ve got to spread it all around

C’mon rock, rock, rock
C’mon never stop

Like Keel, there is a lot of rock in this song. But it was a sign of the times. As the 60’s had Presley, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Woodstock, we had a whole metal and rock movement sweeping across the globe courtesy of MTV.

Manowar – Sign Of The Hammer
I wasn’t sure if I should laugh at this band or take them seriously when my cousin Mega played me their albums. Their manly Viking look and their battle charged lyrics just didn’t really connect, however a few songs did. “Fighting The World” is my favourite, and “All Me Play On Ten” is not far behind.

All Men Play on Ten
The album opener and the best track on the album. Written by bassist Joey DeMaio, but it’s Ross The Boss on guitar and Eric Adams on vocals that steal the thunder, while Scott Columbus lays down a great groove.

I made a Rock’N’Roll sin when I tried givin’ in to
Make money had to turn down low
They said, “Why be proud, don’t play so loud
Be like us and get a sound that’s real thin
Wear a polyester suit, act happy look cute
Get a haircut and buy small gear”
That’s when I turned to them and said
“Hold it, right there!”

You could just imagine a confrontation between the Club owner and Manowar over “turning it down”. I played a gig once were I got told to turn it down, so I just walked over to my amp, touched the nob and pretended to turn it down.

Nobody tells a man how to play
It just ain’t that way hey, hey, hey
Can you hear me say…
All men play on ten
Never gonna turn down again

LOL. Nobody tells a man how to play. But Spinal Tap went to eleven.

Kick Axe – Vices
I picked it up from a second hand shop on vinyl. Spencer Proffer from Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” album is on board to produce so it convinced me to buy.

I didn’t like side 1 and after a few tracks on side 2, I was about to give up and then “Cause For Alarm” started. Yep, it wasn’t until track 8, that I heard what I liked.

Cause for Alarm
It’s got that “Neon Knights” Sabbath vibe in the verses merged with a little bit of Priest, a catchy chorus and a good finger tapped lead break.

What more does a song need?

All the Right Moves
It’s a cross between “Ten Seconds To Love” and AC/DC which suits the lyrics about a woman with all the right moves.

Just Passing Through
And this one has got this ZZ Top vibe that hooks me in. Three songs and three different musical styles. Hence the reason why I hated genre labels like metal and rock. To me, it’s all rock.

The personnel in the band never had the stardom that other artists had, but they could play. Larry Gillstrom and Raymond Harvey formed a wicked twin guitar team while vocalist George Criston can be a rock god or metal god, depending on the song. And under pinning it all is bassist Victor Langen and drummer Brian Gillstrom.

Well that’s the first part of 1984 Done.

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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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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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