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

So What Is It With Bands And Producers Not Liking Each Other After An Album Explodes?

What is it with artist’s dishing out hate on a producer that was involved in producing their greatest triumph?

A good producer is meant to be tough and opinionated. They are meant to challenge the artist, so that the artist delivers the goods. Look at what Bob Rock did to Kirk Hammet in Metallica, especially around “The Unforgiven” solo piece. If you look at Kirk’s legacy that will be the solo that he will be remembered by. I remember in the “Classic Albums” documentary of the “Black” album, as well as in the video, “A Year and A Half With Metallica”, Bob Rock said something similar like, “it is a great song and it needs a great lead. What Kirk is playing at the moment is not great. He has to live and breathe this solo.”

Bob Rock got the guys to slow down the tempo on “Sad But True” and detune everything down a whole step. He told Lars Ulrich to take drum lessons before he started to record his parts. Which producer does that? Lars Ulrich is coming off 4 definitive thrash albums and there is Bob Rock telling him to take drum lessons. He questioned James on his lyrics and his melodies, something that hasn’t been done before. He recommended vocal lessons as well to the formidable front man.

Lars even said that once the Black album was finished, he couldn’t talk or see Bob Rock for over 12 months. Bob Rock has even gone on record saying that it was a tough album to make. The end result is every bands dream coming true. The biggest selling album of the SOUNDSCAN era with a total of 16 million sales as at December 2012. The Black album still to this day moves 2,000 units per week in the U.S. A a lot of websites pointed out that it outsold, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider”.

As much as Nikki Sixx dishes on Tom Werman, the facts are out there. With Tom Werman, Motley Crue had three multi-platinum albums in “Shout At The Devil”, “Theatre of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Each album has sold 4 million copies plus in the U.S. That is a total of 12 million plus sales in the U.S market. Furthermore, the bulk of the “Decade Of Decadence” album is made up of songs from these albums, and that album also sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. In addition, the “Music To Crash Your Car” box sets also had the three albums produced by Tom Werman on them.

If all the stories about the drug use from the Motley Crue members are to be believed, then Tom Werman deserves special recognition for getting anything musical onto tape.

Dee Snider also doesn’t have many kind words for Tom Werman. If anyone has read Dee’s bio, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic,” you can connect the dots and come to a conclusion that Dee is also blaming Tom Werman for the failure of Twisted Sister’s next album even though Tom Werman never worked on it. The routine used to be that Dee Snider would be working on songs for the next album, while the current album is being mixed.

According to Dee, in his bio “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” due to Werman being difficult to work with and Mark Mendoza doing his best to sabotage everything that Dee was working on, he couldn’t take the time out from the studio to work on songs for the next album. So when it came time to write the songs for Come Out And Play after the hugely successful “Stay Hungry” tour, Dee’s mindset was in a different place. He had money, he had fame, he had success and he didn’t have the same hunger, anger and motivation that he had during the Stay Hungry recording. If he wrote the songs during the “Stay Hungry” sessions, the output could have been very different. Super producer, Bob Ezrin even passed on working on “Come Out And Play”, because he didn’t hear any great songs.

However, the facts are there. The Tom Werman produced “Stay Hungry”, sold over 3 million copies in the U.S alone. The singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” also sold by the truck load and they sounded great on radio, due to special radio mixes that Tom Werman did for them. It’s funny that the song “The Price”, didn’t get the same radio mix and it tanked as a single, even though it is the strongest of all three songs.

In relation to Nikki Sixx and Dee Snider, Werman said the following on Popdose.com;

“There were two individual musicians who had a problem with me in the studio out of about 200 musicians I produced. Nikki Sixx was a friend until he revised history in his book. Dee Snider was a friend, until the Twisted Sister album became a hit, and he couldn’t deal with sharing the credit for its success. Both of these guys were literally back-slapping glad-handers; years later, they soured badly. I had fine relationships with all the other members of those two bands.”

Kix was another band that was critical of Tom Werman. Bassist and band leader, Donnie Purnell hated and distrusted Werman.

George Lynch from Dokken also had a problem with Tom Werman, when Werman requested that he play a better lead break on a particular song. If you believe Don Dokken, George Lynch has an uncontrollable ego. If you believe George Lynch, Don Dokken has an uncontrollable ego. Regardless who you believe, when Lynch was asked to play a better lead break, he had a dummy spit.

And now here are the facts for Dokken’s “Tooth N Nail” and Kix’s “Blow My Fuse”. Both albums on release went to GOLD status within a year. “Tooth N Nai”l was released in 1984 and ended up reaching PLATINUM status in the U.S in 1989 (yep that’s right, four years after its release), after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album, got people interested in Dokken’s back catalogue. “Back For The Attack” reached PLATINUM status within 2 months of its release date.

“Blow My Fuse” was released on September 12, 1988. By November 2, 1988, seven weeks later, the album was certified GOLD by the RIAA. In May 1989, the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was released. By February 5, 1990, eight months later, the single was certified GOLD by the RIAA. Finally, on August 28, 2000, the “Blow My Fuse” album was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. Yep, that is almost 12 years from when it was released. This is what the artist of today need to take into account. Great music will live on and it will keep on selling for a long time.

However, so many artists and record label executives want the platinum sales with the first release. Dokken’s back catalogue sold well after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album (their 4th album). Metallica’s back catalogue sold even more, after the mega successful “Black” album (their 5th album). Motley Crue’s back catalogue sold well again after the mega successful “Dr Feelgood” album (their 5th album). However in today’s mindset of profits before creativity, most bands will not get to the fourth or fifth album. Most bands will not have a comeback like Aerosmith or Alice Cooper did in the Eighties. I digress.

Dream Theater, especially Mike Portnoy blasted Dave Prater on the “Images and Words” sessions, however with Prater at the helm, Dream Theater had their biggest album to date. Read the book “Lifting Shadows”. The interviews with Prater are brilliant. The rebuttals of the band members are in some cases subdued but fiery at the same time. Somewhere in between all of the stories is the truth.

Of course, Dream Theater with Dave Prater at the helm have had their most success in relation to album sales. “Images And Words” is the album that Dream Theater is still doing victory laps with in 2013.

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The Story Of The Album – From Not Having Enough Money to Not Having Enough Time

“I don’t have the time anymore to play a 70 to 80 minute CD of a band unless it is great”.

I am constantly hearing the above statement from my peers. I am sure they are not alone. To use myself as an example, when my life was all about me, time was plentiful. Then I got married and then we started to have kids. The time that was plentiful in my youth is spread out between my wife, my three kids, my job and then doing anything in between that I could fit in for me.

So is time the reason why the album format has declined?

Going back in time, I remember going to the record store with about $20 to $30 in my back pocket. I always looked forward to those days. It was what I lived for. However as exciting as the experience was, it always had to end with me deciding which albums to buy today and which albums to buy next time around as I could never afford everything that I wanted.

So there I am thumbing my way through all the rock and metal albums. I am starting to formulate my algorithm as to what albums would end up at the register. Sometimes it could be an overpriced new release, which would mean just one album, or it could be a few older releases that I have been meaning to get and now that the price is right, I purchase them from the bargain bins.

Arriving home, I would rip off the shrink wrapping, drop the needle, sit back and enjoy the album with the lyrics to stare at while it played.

Those albums would do the rounds for what would seem like an eternity in today’s day and age.

I grew up in the Eighties and it was all about the LP. Labels always tried to maximise their sales, so they kept on releasing singles, picture singles and picture 12 inch singles and just 12 inch singles.

Of course the hard core lapped everything up, even though nothing new was on offer. The big difference in the Eighties was MTV. With the rise of music television, bands had to have that single song that would have mass appeal. So what the fans ended up getting was an album with two to three good songs and the rest was pure filler. However, we still needed to buy the expensive LP, just to listen to three songs. With the rise of the CD, this only got worse and more expensive.

When the CD first came out it was way more expensive than LP’s. The Recording Industry said that the higher prices would be temporary, due to set up costs and so forth. Guess what, the prices never went down and CD’s got pumped out in the millions. That is why the album format became unpopular to fans and very popular to record label executives.

So then the Internet comes along and changes the rules of the games. While the recording industry kept on sticking with the CD format, the fans of music showed them that they wanted innovation. When Napster exploded, the record labels failed to notice the following;

– Fans didn’t like the high CD prices

– Fans wanted back catalogue items that the record labels didn’t want to release. That is why obscure bands or bands available only on Import started to get some traction.

– Fans wanted portability

– Fans wanted convenience

– Fans wanted all of the above to be available 24/7 to them

– Fans wanted to pick and choose

The fan dynamic is changed forever by Napster. Fans used to look forward to the new releases of their favourite artists. After spending money on that new release, I played it to death because I paid for it. Somehow in the back of my mind, I needed to convince myself that I made a good decision, especially when someone else would say to me, “why would you waste your money on that, it was a crap album.”

So there I am, along with a million of other fans, playing the album over and over and over again, looking for a track or two to hook me in. When I heard Dr Feelgood from the outset, I only liked the song, Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away). With each listen, I started to appreciate other tracks. However, to this day, I still don’t like Sticky Sweet, Rattlesnake Shake, She Goes Down, Same Ol Situation and Without You.

The Crue comes to town and I needed to go. It wasn’t cheap, however I knew that they wouldn’t play certain tracks from the album ever again. Well to my surprise, the same songs that Motley Crue played in 1990, they played again in 2005 and in 2013. The Dr Feelgood tour was like a greatest hits tour, with most of the songs made up from Shout At The Devil, Too Fast For Love and Girls, Girls, Girls.

So where am I going with this?

In 2013, an album comes out. The cost of hearing it is ZERO. Spotify has it, within a day or two, YouTube will have a complete version of it. Instead of listening to each take from start to finish, I skim through. It sort of goes like this, hear the first 30 seconds. If I am hooked I normally end up listening to the whole song. If I am not hooked I move the song cursor into about 2 minutes of the song and listen for another 10 seconds. If still nothing, I move on to the next track.

This even occurs with my favourite acts. I played A Dramatic Turn Of Events from Dream Theater for about a week in 2011 and then moved on. I haven’t returned to the full album and I never will. I know that I like bits in certain songs. Breaking All Illusions has got some wicked sections and so those Outcry. On The Backs of Angels is not bad either, but not great. On the other hand, Unto The Locust from Machine Head, gets a re-spin every three to four weeks. It’s seven songs that really stand up on their own and as part of an album.

With so much music out there to digest and play, we seem to ignore our favourite acts in search of another great act to become our favourite. So to bring the story full circle, when I used to purchase albums, money was the factor as to what I decided to purchase and listen too. Fast forward to 2013, time is the factor as to what I decide to listen too.

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Call Me – Shinedown

This song is a hit, however it was never released as an “official” single. How can that be? The fans have spoken. “Call Me” has racked up 12.83 million streams on Spotify and 11.2 million plays on YouTube. These are the numbers that matter. It is the most played/streamed song from Shinedown.

In a recent interview with the website “artistdirect”, Brent Smith, the vocalist from Shinedown was asked the question if they had played “Through The Ghost” live yet.

“We have not. We’ve actually been asked if we’re going to do that. “Call Me” also gets asked for quite a bit. It wasn’t a single, but it is asked for. There might be a possibility of adding a few songs.”

I can understand the reasons why the band is not playing the song, as it is deemed a ballad and probably not suited for the high energy show that Shinedown puts on, plus they already play a ballad in “Second Chance”. However based on the numbers above, it is a fan favourite.

When I first heard “Call Me”, I immediately thought of Tracy Chapman. The vocal style and the phrasing was the trigger. It is written by Brent Smith and Tony Battaglia.

Tony Battaglia is an interesting choice. He is a frequent colloborator with Shinedown and has also co-written songs for Puddle of Mudd and Submersed (a very underrated band that is sadly no more. Eye Empire has the vocalist and Creed has the original guitarist as its backing guitarist). He also played guitar and composed songs with the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. He was the vocalist in a band called BlackJack that goes back to 1978.

Having the additional song writer can be a double edged sword. The song could be clichéd or it could sound forced or it could lack personality. In this case, it works well. The song is perfect with as a piano/orchestra style song, as the vocal melody is so strong, it doesn’t need anything else.

Wrap me in a bolt of lightning
Send me on my way still smiling
Maybe that’s the way I should go,
Straight into the mouth of the unknown

If you have been addicted to something in your life, you would understand the bolt of lightning reference. You are charged up, electrified.

I left the spare key on the table
Never really thought I’d be able to say
I merely visit on the weekends
I lost my whole life and a dear friend

Coming into this album, Shinedown took 18 months to get it right. Brent Smith wanted “The Sound Of Madness” to be the record that would define him. You know the saying, that an artist gets their whole life to do their first record and then they are given about three months to do their second one.

That is what happened to Shinedown. The first album, “Leave a Whisper” took a lifetime and it achieved platinum status. The follow up “Us and Them” had all the writing, recording and everything else done in six months and it achieved gold status. While all of this “success” is happening, the main creative force behind Shinedown is getting burned. Two band members would leave before “The Sound Of Madness” was even started.

That is what you hear on the album and in the strained voice of Brent Smith. His experiences. This is what Rock Music got right once upon a time. It was about music that defined culture. Then came the dollar signs and that is where Rock Music has remained. Shinedown’s “The Sound of Madness” is a monster of an album on the same playing field as Motley Crue’s “Dr Feelgood” and Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

I’ve said it so many times
I would change my ways
No, nevermind
God knows I’ve tried

When Brent Smith decided he wanted no time limit for this album, he wasn’t looking for anything connected with money. He was looking for that raw and honest connection. The music became the vehicle for it. That is why songs like “If You Only Knew”, “Second Chance” and “Call Me” resonate with people. We have lived it and we have experienced something similar.

Call me a sinner, call me a saint
Tell me it’s over I’ll still love you the same
Call me your favorite, call me the worst
Tell me it’s over I don’t want you to hurt
It’s all that I can say. So, I’ll be on my way

Great music will last forever. Five years since “The Sound of Madness” was released, “Call Me” is still being played/streamed/viewed. “Call Me” wasn’t the hit song from the album, however it is the song from the album that will not be an obscure footnote in history.

I finally put it all together,
But nothing really lasts forever
I had to make a choice that was not mine,
I had to say goodbye for the last time

When you are at rock bottom, you find something to get you through. As much as people talk about support from family and friends, in the end if you don’t want to fix yourself, no one else can make you. Music is always there for you. There is a reason why Motley Crue didn’t give us “Dr Feelgood” as a debut album.

I kept my whole life in a suitcase,
Never really stayed in one place
Maybe that’s the way it should be,
You know I live my life like a gypsy

Are we settled in life? Are we happy with what we have in life? We always want something else, that when we are asked what we want, we answer back that we don’t know, but we know that we want something else.

Brent Smith broke down a lot of walls on “The Sound Of Madness.” It’s personal and as a fan it is an emotional roller coaster ride. It’s evolution through experiences.

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Motley Crue: Flashback to Metal Edge – 1988. From “Monsterous” to “Sex, Sex and Rock’N’Roll” to “Dr Feelgood”.

I remember picking up the Metal Edge magazine from 1988 and seeing the update from Motley Crue. In the pre-Internet era, the only way we got information from our favourite bands was via magazines and MTV. The last news I heard was that all the guys in the band attended rehab and that they are all clean and sober.

Impatient Crue fans have been ceaselessly inquiring as to the whereabouts, health, and progress of their favorite foursome, and Metal Edge is happy to report that they’re alive, well, and busy at work on their fifth album.

We caught up with Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars in LA. as they worked on tracks for the LP, which they’re sure will be a monster—in fact, Monsterous is one title they’re toying with. Another is SSRR—Sex, Sex, and Rock ‘N Roll, appropriate considering the subjects of the 17 songs they’ve written.

In the end, I don’t think the title of the album would have mattered. Obviously, “Dr Feelgood” is a strong title, however if the title was “Monsterous” or “Sex, Sex and Rock N Roll”, I still believe the album would have had the same impact. The secret was Bob Rock. Motley Crue had a good batch of songs and Bob Rock was on hand to sonically capture it.

Some typically Motley titles: “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kick Start My Heart,” and two hot numbers we got an early preview of, “Rodeo” and “She Goes Down.” “That’s about back seat love.” says Nikki. who describes the music’s sound in general as having “a lot of groove to it.”

Mick came up with a major share of the music, refined and reworked with Nikki. “We’re getting better, writing better songs,” says the axe slinger, and Nikki agrees: We’re the best we’ve ever been.”

When the history of Motley Crue is told, the contribution of Mick Mars to the “Dr Feelgood” would be forgotten. Coming into the Dr Feelgood sessions, the majority of songs from the previous albums had “words and music by Nikki Sixx” as the composer. On “Dr Feelgood”, Mick Mars’s name is all over it.

“Rodeo” was eventually released on the expanded re-issue of the “Girls Girls Girls” album. The article makes you believe that the song was written during the “Dr Feelgood sessions, however it was a leftover from the “Girls Girls Girls” sessions.

The band will spend the winter recording in Vancouver with producer Bob Rock. “We needed a change. We were getting too much in a rut.” says Nikki. explaining why they opted not to work closer to home in L.A. As on “Girls, Girls, Girls”, the background vocals of the Nasty Habits will be featured on the album, which should be out some time in the first part of ’89.

The partnership with Bob Rock would end up changing the course of hard rock and heavy metal music forever. It was the “Dr Feelgood” album that fell into the hands of Lars Ulrich and it got the ball rolling for Bob Rock to work with Metallica on the 20 million plus “Black” album.

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Create Something That Is Forever

There is an article doing the rounds on TorrentFreak about Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto.

The part that interests me is the below quote;

“In fact, from our perspective you want to create a game that people will want to keep and keep playing for a long time. That’s the approach that we always take and that’s the best way to avoid used games.”

As an artist/creator that is what you need to do. Metallica created Master of Puppets, Mötley Crüe created Shout At The Devil, Dream Theater created Images and Words, Queensryche created Empire.

What will you create?

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Nikki Sixx – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics?

Nikki Sixx is one of the most active artists there is.  Apart from doing the Motley Crue shows, he does Sixx A.M., he does photography, he has a presence on social media and he does his radio show.  Somewhere in between he finds time to also be a family man.

A few days ago, his mother passed away, and from that tragedy, it got me to go back and listen to the music that Nikki Sixx has created.

Dancing On Glass (1987) from Girls, Girls, Girls

Going way too fast
Gonna burn and crash
Valentine’s in London
Found me in the trash

I’m no puppet
I engrave my veins with style

It is the Mick Mars guitar riff that hooked me first, using the renowned devil tri-tone.  It’s rock ‘n’ evil and  it’s Nikki’s memoir to his heroin addiction.  Life Is Beautiful (2007) from The Heroin Diaries by Sixx A.M. goes a step better (plus the chorus line gives a nice nod to Duran’s Duran’s Come Undone).

 

There’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive

How true is that? We complain about our life, sometimes even wishing that we are dead and then when tragedy strikes, we realise how alive we really are.

Find Myself (1997) from Generation Swine and Heart Failure (2007) from The Heroin Diaries from Sixx A.M. explore the addictions of Nikki Sixx with lyrics like “I gotta find myself some drugs, I gotta find some liquid sunshine” and “I miss today I miss the past, I miss my veins ’cause they’ve collapsed.”

However the best song that captures Nikki’s addiction is Girl With Golden Eyes (2007) from The Heroin Diaries by Sixx A.M.

She speaks to me in Persian
Tells me that she loves me
The girl with golden eyes
And though I hardly know her
I let her in my veins
And trust her with my life

I love the heroin and girl romance analogy. Credit also goes to James Michael and DJ Ashba.

On With The Show (1981) from Too Fast For Love

Frankie died just the other night
Some say it was suicide

Nikki has gone on record to say that On With The Show is about him leaving his birth name behind and taking on the Nikki Sixx name.  The reference to Frankie is a reference to himself.

Dr Feelgood (1989) from Dr Feelgood

Cops on the corner always ignore
Somebody’s getting paid
Jimmy’s got it wired, law’s for hire
Got it made in the shade

It’s a movie scene. It paints a picture. It’s Scarface and Jimmy is Al Pacino. Music done right is timeless. Dr Feelgood is timeless and it is Nikki Sixx at his sober best for the first time. 

Primal Scream (1991) from Decade Of Decadence

Broke dick dog
My head slung low
Tail knocked in the dirt
Time and time of being told
Trash is all I’m worth

Primal Scream was rewritten again as Face Down In The Dirt (2008) from Saints Of Los Angeles. 

All I ever heard as a kid was “you’re born to lose”
All I ever wanted was a shot at breakin’ the rules

Stick To Your Guns (1981) from Too Fast For Love is the original Primal Scream. 

You got to stick to your guns
What’s right for you, ain’t right for everyone

What’s It Gonna Take (2008) from Saints Of Los Angeles

So we wrote another song cut a demo on a dime
They didn’t like the sound, we didn’t fit the times
The radio station said “it’s way too loud”

I really like the autobiographical nature of songs.  Down At The Whisky (2008) from Saints Of Los Angeles covers the same theme of the band trying to make it.

We slept all day in our clothes
That’s OK in hollywood
Another shot, another show
All night long at the whisky a-go-go

Poison Apples (1994) from Motley Crue

Took a Greyhound Bus down to Heartattack and Vine with a fistful of dreams and dimes
So far out didn’t know that I was in
Had a taste for a life of slime

When push came to shove, the music was the drug and the band always got to play
Sex, smack, rock, roll, mainline, overdose
Man, we lived it night and day

Poison Apples and Danger also tell the story of the band’s early days.

Danger (1983) from Shout At The Devil

So we took our dreams
Ran like hell
Lived our youth
From the wishing well
Me and the boys
Made a pack
To live or die
No turning back

Then the band finally gets signed and become slaves to the machine with a stiff middle finger raised at all authority.

Welcome To The Machine (2008) from Saints of Los Angeles

 

 

Welcome to the machine
Once it sucks you in you’ll never leave
Grind you up spit you out
After all you’re just a piece of meat
Welcome to the machine

Saints Of Los Angeles (2008) from Saints of Los Angeles

We are…we are the saints
We signed our life away
Doesn’t matter what you think
We’re gonna do it anyway
We are…we are the saints
One day you will confess
And Pray to the saints of Los Angeles.

Home Sweet Home (1985) from Theatre Of Pain

 

Just one more night
And I’m comin’ off this
Long & winding road

Every band that spends a lot of time on the road ends up writing a song about the road.  Bob Seger did it with Turn The Page, Bon Jovi did it with Wanted Dead or Alive, Motley Crue did it with Home Sweet Home and the unreleased track Rodeo from the Girls, Girls, Girls sessions.

Rodeo (1987) from Girls, Girls, Girls

Another day, another night on stage
Lights go down, time to turn the page
Was this all I ever wanted to be
Six hundred miles, the highway calls
Another long day, now the hours get small
Riding out this rock n roll rodeo

No accolade to Nikki Sixx would be complete without reference to his favourite topic, SEX.

Girls, Girls, Girls (1987) from Girls, Girls, Girls

I got the photos, a menage a trois

Ten Seconds To Love (1983) from Shout At The Devil

Bring a girlfriend
Maybe bring two I got my camera
Make a star outta you
Let’s inject it
Photograph it

It’s like Nikki new that Tommy Lee and Vince Neil would end up in their own sex tapes.  That’s what happens when you have keepsakes.

Punched In The Teeth By Love (2000) from New Tattoo

Construction work it’s silicone
Lights are on but no one’s home (wow)
She’s painted blue like a cartoon
Every man in town went on the honeymoon

I really like the cartoonish vibe in this song.  The lyrics are witty and funny.  Was Nikki referencing Pamela Anderson.

THEN comes the new Holy Bible, Nikki Sixx style.

Wild Side (1987) from Girls, Girls, Girls is Save Our Souls part 2. 

Kneel down ye sinners, to
Streetwise religion
Greed’s been crowned the new King
Hollywood dream teens
Yesterday’s trash queens
Save the blessings for the final ring-
AMEN

Save Our Souls (1985) from Theatre of Pain

Black Angels laughing in the city streets
Street toys scream in pain and clench their teeth
The moonlight spot lights all the city crime
Got no religion, Laugh while they fight

Save our souls for the heavens
For a life so good it sure feels bad
Save our souls for the heavens
Save our souls for the promised land

Sure Feels Right (2011) from This Is Gonna Hurt by Sixx A.M.

I’m driving down Sunset Boulevard,
Sex Pistols on the radio in my car,
And I must be high,
I just saw Jesus walk by.

Again, a picture is painted with these four lines.  I can relate. I can’t even recall how many times I have seen Jesus look a likes among the homeless.  Oh My God covers this theme even better.

Oh My God (2011) from The Heroin Diaries by Sixx A.M.

And we sit in our highrise apartments and complain about things that don’t matter,
And we race through this life just to see who can die with as much as we can gather,
And a few blocks away a teenage mother plays Russian Roulette with her daughter,
Is this the best that we can do, is this the best that we can do.

We focus on all the wrong things.  Nikki even eluded to it, in his recent Facebook posts.

Thank you for all the supportive posts here and on Twitter about the passing of my Mom.Her and my grandfather Tom’s recent passing is a gentle reminder of how fragile time is and a not so gentle sledgehammer to the heart that non of us get out of this life alive.If your wasting time procrastinating on anything trust me when I say “You’ll be sorry”.

I waited too long after a rocky road with my mother to try and rebuild the broken fence’s.You can never get time back.We all make mistakes and that was mine…..Again,thank you because it reminds me reading your posts how much we’re all alike…….

And of course that post, reminded me of a song that was released by the Brides of Destruction.

Life (2004) from Here Comes The Brides by Brides of Destruction

This is life this is it
It’s not everything you want
It’s everything you get believe it
It’s not worth leaving
Yeah this is life once again
It’s been knocking at your door
You ought to let it in
Don’t waste it it’s time you faced it

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Vince Neil – Exposed

A few of my favorite albums from back in the day are having anniversaries this year.

Let’s start with the Vince Neil release, Exposed.  As a massive Motley Crue fan, let’s say that I wasn’t impressed with the ousting of Vince Neil.  For some reason, I always took Vince’s story as the source of truth.

Back in 1992, it was hard to get current information.  So I hear that Vince was fired from Motley, and next I am seeing his Exposed album in Utopia in April 1993.  Without question I purchased it, took it home and put it on the CD player.  Before I pressed play, I took out the booklet and I see that Phil Soussan is credited with writing quite a few songs.  This got me even more interested.

For those that don’t know, Phil Soussan was responsible for writing Shot In The Dark when he was in Ozzy’s band.  Shot In The Dark appeared on the Ultimate Sin album, released in a time where Hard Rock and Metal was starting to hit its commercial peak.  To give some back story to Shot In The Dark, Soussan had this song written years before he joined Ozzy’s band.  It was inspired by the Pink Panther movies.  Ozzy loved the lyrics, but wanted Soussan to make the song darker, while trying to keep with the original idea.

Then Jake E. Lee left the band.  Soussan and his best friend Randy Castillo (RIP) who was also the drummer in Ozzy’s band, started to hold auditions to find a new guitarist, while Ozzy went out to promote the Tribute album.  That is where a young Zachary Weilandt came into the picture based on a recommendation from Mark Weiss (this is the guy who photographs everything to do with rock n roll). That is how Zakk Wylde was born.

Phil Soussan was just another talented musician and songwriter that had to leave a band he wanted to be in because of  business disagreements with Sharon Osbourne regarding future publishing arrangements.  I am sure Jake E. Lee was also forced out in this way.

To get back on track, I am a fan of Phil Soussan.  So I find out that many of the songs that he had written for Ozzy’s next album, ended up on Exposed.

I then find out that it was Soussan that was responsible for putting together the Vince Neil band.  The original band line up was Vince Neil on vocals, Phil Soussan on bass, Adrian Vandenberg (from Whitesnake) on guitar, Vik Foxx (Enuff Z’Nuff) on drums and Robbie Crane on guitar.

Soussan and Neil also put the Warner Bros deal together along with Vince’s manager Bruce Bird who passed away in 1993.

Then it all went sour when Steve Stevens (Billy Idol and Atomic Playboys) was asked to replace Vandenberg. Stevens already had a personal issue with not having written the songs and it looks like Stevens held a grudge against Soussan for working with Billy Idol, who was Stevens former employer.  So all hell broke loose after the death of Bruce Bird.  

Soussan started to be on the outer, especially when Stevens wanted to play bass and eventually Soussan had no option but to leave again.  Imagine his dismay, when his manager showed him a draft sleeve of the album where Stevens had tried to put his name as the songwriter and remove Phil Soussan’s credit from his own songs.  Songs that Soussan wrote all the original demos and titles from back in the Ozzy days.  

The matter was addressed and legally resolved, in favor of Soussan.  So much drama and the album hasn’t even come out.  Isn’t that just the nature of Rock N Roll.    

Look in Her Eyes is the opener and it is listed as being written by Vince Neil, Steve Stevens and Phil Soussan.  Other songs written by this combination are The Edge, Gettin’ Hard and Forever.

Look In Her Eyes is a classic. The intro riff has that Euro Metal vibe, the verse has that Dr Feelgood vibe and the Chorus is melodic and catchy as hell.  You can hear that Phil wrote this song with Ozzy’s style in mind.  Steven Stevens contribution to this song, was to make the lead break a centerpiece and it goes for well over a minute and a half.

An ocean of temptation
With every drop of wine
Shadows meeting face to face
The tentacles entwine
One look from the jezebel
Phony valentine
Now you see the wanderer
Frozen in the corridors of time

 

For some reason I love the way that second verse is written.  Maybe it is the Medusa reference, done in such a rock n roll way.  That is why the song has that big epic classic rock feel.  Men are creatures of temptation, from the Garden of Eden to now.

The Edge is another uptempo riff fest of a song.  From its flamenco intro, to its pedal point driven verses and its climbing arpeggio choruses.  This song is a dead set classic.  It reminds me of Red Hot from the Crue for some reason.  It reminds of Deep Purple. It reminds me of Scorpions.  The lead break is pure class, breaking down into the acoustic flamenco passages again, before building up again, with the orchestra strings in tow into a wah shred fest of a lead break.

There is no tomorrow i live my life today
Luck is my religion to the lady i will pray
I fail to see the black in every tinsel town
They can try and take my pride
But they can never take my crown

Listen to the phrasing of the vocal line.  It’s done the same way Ozzy sings.  It was meant for Ozzy.  Of course Vince has a totally different voice, so it sounds unique.  It’s totally different to what Vince did in Motley.  Living your life on the edge of time, is what the song is saying.

Fine, Fine Wine is written by Vince Neil and Phil Soussan.  This song would fit perfectly on Dr Feelgood.  It is classic Motley Crue.  The lyrics, the riffs, the sex and the sleaze.  Vince is in his element here.

Baby’s long and tall man she’s got it all she’s alright
alright
Hips have got a sway shakin’ it my way it alright
alright
Full bodied curves with her legs she serves oh yeah
oh yeah
Lips that say it all turn and hear her call oh yeah
oh yeah
Ain’t no cheap and nasty liquor dripping down her vine 
Taste of golden honey sweet as candy money
Bottle it up and make her mine

Give me a taste of your fine fine wine

The bass line just rolls the song along, keeping it low and dirty.  Steven Stevens delivers another great solo on this song.  Even though he was a dick to Soussan, he still played his arse off on this album.

Sister of Pain and You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come) was written by the Vince Neil, Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw combination.  It is steeped in the blues hard rock vibe that Damn Yankees brought back to the charts.  The same blues hard rock vibe made famous by Free, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent and many others.  Again both songs would not be out-of-place on a Motley Crue album.  

Can’t Change Me is a Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw composition, very similar to Damn Yankees, the super group project they had with Ted Nugent.

Can’t Have Your Cake and Living Is A Luxury is written by Vince Neil and Steve Stevens.  I don’t really rate these two songs.

Finally there was a Sweet cover in Set Me Free, that is written by Andrew Scott.

The album was produced by Ron Nevison.  That is why it has that AOR feel, very radio friendly, arena rock feel and the performances are top-notch.

Ron was coming off multi platinum success with Heart, Survivor, Bad English, Europe and Ozzy’s The Ultimate Sin.  Actually Ron played a part in getting Phil Soussan to depart, as he started to support Steve Stevens in the decision-making.

1993 was a year of big change in the music business.  Vince Neil delivered an album that didn’t get the promotion it deserved.  The only way I could have purchased the album was from Utopia Records, which was a hard rock/heavy metal record store.  Utopia records is located in the Sydney CBD and back then they where on Clarence Street.  I had to take a 90 minute train ride from my country town to the Sydney CBD.  

The usual major stores back then didn’t even stock it.  Makes it hard to compete if the fans can’t find it.  It can be found today, by everyone.  

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