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

1979 – IV – Lights Out In America

I’m really enjoying revisiting this 1979 period.

For Parts 1, 2 and 3 just click on the numbers.

Here is the playlist for Part 4.

UFO – Strangers In The Night

Michael Schenker’s solo career was my first listening experience and UFO came much later in the 1990’s when I went seeking out the 70’s.

I got this album and “Lights Out” at a Record Fair in the late nineties for next to nothing.

Record fairs are very different beasts today, charging way too much and above retail. But once upon a time it was worth going.

Love to Love

How good is it?

The piano lines and how it all just builds and comes together. I do prefer the studio version because the guitar is more abrasive and higher in the mix.

Did you know that Schenker took his riff from this song and used it on “Desert Song”?

Quick, let’s get the lawyers on it.

Doctor Doctor

The first time I heard this song was on this album. And it reminded me of Maiden for some reason.

Lo and behold when I saw Maiden on the “Somewhere Back In Time” tour they had this song on the backing intro tape just before they started the concert.

Lights Out

The energy and attitude on this live version is electric and I dig.

And how good is that F#m riff groove from Schenker.

Damned If I Do – The Alan Parsons Project

It’s from the album “Eve” and I illegally downloaded his discography in the early 2000’s and before YouTube, because I was interested to hear the music of a person who was involved in capturing the sounds on such landmark albums like “Abbey Road” and “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

It was interesting to say the least.

Lyrically the song deals with loving someone else but that person you love doesn’t have the same feelings, hence the conflict of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

And it’s the vocal melody that hooked me in, sung by Lenny Zakatak and while The Alan Parsons Project used more than one vocalist on each album, Zakatak was known as the real voice of the band.

Cold Cold Change – Midnight Oil

It’s from the “Head Injuries” album and the riff has a fuck you punk attitude that I like.

Is it a forewarning to climate change or a song dealing with the Australian political climate and using the weather as a metaphor or is it dealing with the Cold War (there is a lyric line that states;

We jumped in the air to see over the wall
No master plan, it’s a bad design
Significant time in spite of us all

Don’t Bring Me Down – Electric Light Orchestra

It’s from their “Discovery” album and man, it was huge.

It’s also the only good song on an album which was littered with strings and ballad like songs.

Styx – Cornerstone

Here is a review from Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock that I totally agree with.

Lights

Tommy Shaw is on vocals for a song that sounds like it could have appeared on an ELO album.

Borrowed Time

It’s a prog Rock song with its Pink Floyd inspired intro. Then it’s ELO and Boston in the verses and in the chorus, the dudes must have worn the tightest leather pants as there is some of the highest pitch harmonies ever committed to tape.

Living high on borrowed time indeed.

Eddie

It’s “All Right Now” sped up and its perfectly all right with me about telling Eddie not to run because it’s the end of his fun.

Yep, that’s the lyrical theme, so thank god the music connected.

Love In The Midnight

Its that section after the acoustic intro that hooks me. The groove and feel is perfect.

And then that bass groove while the choir like chants and then that keyboard solo and the guitars come in with a solo straight from the book of pentatonics.

It’s progressive in the vein of Yes and I fucking dig it.

The Knack – Get the Knack

The album that spawned “My Sharona” onto the world has some pretty cool Sixties retro tunes as well. But no one would know em, because “My Sharona” was everywhere.

Oh Tara

It was different and it reminded me of those 60s movies but when I heard it, it actually reminded me of Hanoi Rocks.

My Sharona

You can’t deny it’s catchy. From the drum intro to the bass/guitar riff.

Even the simple lead break is a lesson on effectiveness and simplicity as it builds to the repeated pull off lick towards the end of it.

And for a song that went to Number 1, the lead break goes over a minute long.

Fucking AAA, if you ask me, because in the 80s we started to get singles edit cuts and the first thing cut or shortened was the lead break.

That’s What the Little Girls Do

Again it’s got that 60s vibe which is cool.

Supertramp – Breakfast in America

One of the best albums of 1979.

This is the one that Supertramp built a career on, the one album that allows them the victory lap many years later. And it’s also their sixth album, which goes to show you need to be a lifer. Your greatest work always comes after and very rarely with your first release.

And it’s funny how I gravitated to the songs with vocals by Roger Hodgson.

And for those conspiracy theorists, the cover has been said to have forecasted the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers. Sometimes people have two much time on their hands.

The Logical Song

That keyboard riff and the unique vocal melody is what music is about. Plus this song worked well as a hard rock cover.

When I was young,
It seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical

The innocence of childhood and every day is an adventure.

But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, oh responsible, practical

The schooling factory is all about dollars and conditioning. Whichever lobby group pays the most, gets the curriculum they want, that would benefit their business models.

And higher education was about expanding your mind and doing things differently until it changed as an essential qualification to get a job.

I said now what would you say
Now we’re calling you a radical,
A liberal, oh fanatical, criminal

And different viewpoints scare people, so we are given labels. If we don’t agree we are radicals, from the left or whatever other stupid term people come up with.

Breakfast In America

Another song that works well in a hard rock setting.

Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

I’m pretty sure there was a time when every soul around the world wanted to go to America once upon a time.

Is it still the case today?

I’m a winner, I’m a sinner
Do you want my autograph

All winners have a dark side.

To win in sport, players are required to border on the dark arts, which means playing on the edges of the rules.

To win in music, for every famous musician there is an aggrieved musician, especially when bands start out, most musicians write and play some of their most famous songs with others.

CC Deville lifted the “Talk Dirty To Me” riff from his previous band and gave them no credit.

“Hit The Lights” was written by James and another person in his previous band before Metallica but it’s credited to Hetfield and Ulrich. Even the Dave Mustaine compositions should not have any Ulrich credits but they do.

Take The Long Way Home

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
you take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home

Love these lyric lines. I can’t recall how many times I’ve taken the long way home because the drive was relaxing and the music playing on the stereo or my headset was spot on. I was like just one more song and after that I’ll drive towards home.

One time I had to return a video to the video store. Yep, video rentals was a thing once upon a time. The video store was only 3 minutes away from my house at the time, so all up, it would be 6 minutes for a return trip.

Well after I dropped the video off, I proceeded to drive towards Sydney, decided to stop at Coogee for Pizza and eventually I would get home 5 hours later.

Take the long way home indeed.

Tycoon – Tycoon

Sometimes a band releases an album that should have been popular however their label didn’t really know how to market them.

I don’t even remember how this album came into my life. Maybe it was the Freddie Mercury look a-likes on the cover.

Anyway for me, “Such A Woman” is the track that sealed the deal. It’s melodic and better than the songs that made up the Billboard Top 10. But it’s generic lyrically.

And final say goes to Dean Sciarra, who posted the below review on Amazon for this album.

First things first – this album has gotten a bad rap from certain people, one that it doesn’t deserve in my opinion. It may not be the best Classic Rock album in the world but it certainly has its moments.

As does “Turn Out The Lights” – the second album even though Tycoon was forced by the label to make this record under duress to comply with what the label thought would fly with what the market was buying at the time. They were wrong and subsequently the band was bumped from the label.

What they had wanted to do instead is reflected in the album “Opportunity Knocks” which is a rockin’ masterpiece that no label at the time would sign off on because everyone wanted the new Talking Heads kind of bands. Bad idea!

On a personal note, lead singer and main songwriter, Norman Mershon passed away in November of 2007. He was one of my best friends and a more wonderful person you will never meet. His death was tragic and avoidable due to doctors’ error. I managed Tycoon after they left Arista and was a part of the recording of “Opportunity Knocks” which to this day blows away all other Tycoon recordings. This could have been a big band had Arista not gotten in their way. I saw the future back then and it certainly included Tycoon still being around today had it not been for unfortunate bad luck

Little River Band – First Under The Wire

The fifth album by the Australian act.

Lonesome Loser

Have you hear about the lonesome loser?
He’s a loser but he still keeps on trying.

That my friends is life in a nut shell. We fall down and we get back up.

Hard Life

How good is the start?

Man it reminds me of Y&T so much.

It’s a hard life
We’ve just gotta learn to understand
That we’ll be alright
If we help everybody here
It’s a hard life
We just gotta learn to understand
That we’ll be alright
We just got to lend everybody here a helping hand

The problem is we are more divided than other over religion, politics, race and social standing.

Well that’s part four done, stay tuned for part five.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

West Ruth Ave – The Night Flight Orchestra

It’s the Kiss – I Was Made For Lovin You guitar riff that grabs your attention. It hooks you in along with the staccato drumming.

The Bee Gees style drumming that comes in after along with the congas give it that decadent seventies feeling. You also hear the Bon Jovi Living On A Prayer Em-C-D piano chords under it. However in this case the song is in Dm.

It’s on the 2012 album Internal Affairs released via Coroner Records.

When I hear of side projects, I normally say, crap. Not this one. The Night Flight Orchestra side project is brilliant.

It’s the brain child of Soilwork‘s Bjorn “Speed” Strid on vocals and Arch Enemy‘s Sharlee D’Angelo on bass.

First the name. Night Flight is a Led Zeppelin song. They have merged it with Electric Light Orchestra to come up with The Night Flight Orchestra. They also use the same abbreviation; ELO vs NFO.

The fact that this song is written by guys that play in melodic death / metal bands makes it even better.

I always tell people that the most gifted musicians end up playing in the metal arena. This is further proof.

The NFO captures the magic of classic rock and they make it sound so authentic. Each song can be used in pop trivia, to “name the band or song that influenced a certain part of the song.”

You can hear the fun, it’s like an infection in the music giving it a soul that a lot of bands that write for money can never achieve.

“Im obsessed with the thought of all the things we could do.”

The lyrics are rock n roll. It’s about telling a story. In this case, Bjorns escape along West Ruth Avenue. It’s not even auto tuned. It’s human.

And then the outro kicks in referencing the Layla outro.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Nuno Bettencourt – Guitar World, September 1989

The article was written by Andrew Hearst, and it appeared on page 17 of the September 1989, Guitar World Issue.

“Be sincere.  Whatever you do.  If its Lawrence Welk you’re into or if its Eddie Van Halen, just be honest about it and love what you’re doing.”   Words of wisdom from Nuno Bettencourt, guitarist for Extreme, a Boston – based hard rock band whose self titled debut album was recently released on A&M Records.

A guitarist speaking his mind.  How many people speak their minds these days?  Not a lot, and if they do, they are scared of the haters.  Well guess what, if you seek the limelight, there will always be haters.  Remember, not everyone will love you, but your audience will.  If you love what you are doing, the audience will be able to feel it, they will be able to relate.  Your fans are not stupid, they will know if you are faking it.  Like when Def Leppard delivered Slang, or Motley Crue delivered Generation Swine, or Bon Jovi delivered What About Now or Metallica with Load and ReLoad.  We know that these albums are about chasing some fools gold, chasing an idea implanted in the musicians head by a manager, an agent or a producer.  That is why the people didn’t respond.

Extreme’s first album was produced by the super experienced Reinhold Mack, aka Mack.  His resume is a list of who’s who of classic albums.  Some of my all time favorite albums like Scorpions – Fly to the Rainbow, Deep Purple – Stormbringer, Deep Purple – Come Taste the Band, David Coverdale – White Snake and most of the ELO and Queen albums from 1975 to the mid 80’s had Mack involved, either as sound engineer or as a producer.

Born in Portugal 22 years ago, Bettencourt moved to Boston with his family when he was four.  As a freshman in high school he heard Edward Van Halen and was inspired to pick up the instrument.  Soon he was playing covers and originals in a succession of casual local groups; he calls Extreme his “first really serious band”.

Back in the eighties, bands normally were formed, they would chop and change musicians until within a few months a stable line up was confirmed.  It was expected that once you had a stable line up, you would start to play shows, build an audience and write killer songs.  By doing that, you are creating a buzz, and with that buzz, the good old Mr Record Man Gatekeeper, would come along and make you famous.  What no one told these poor suckers, is that the good old Mr Record Man Gatekeeper will also make them sign contracts that where far from fair for the band.   To put this into context, Extreme, were formed in 1985, signed in 1987, assigned to work with a master producer in Mack so that they develop their songs and sound and their first album hit the streets in 1989.  That is what bands expected in those days.

It doesn’t happen like this anymore.  Labels in the old sense do not exist.  They do not spend money on artist development anymore.  Why? Wall Street.  Labels need to answer to a board of directors and shareholders.  Their memo is to make money, not waste money on artist and development.  Remember Warner Music is going into business with Kickstarter.

“The biggest lack in eighties’ guitar playing is rhythm,” he says.  “There’s a whole other three minutes of a song to be enjoyed.  I love playing solos, but there’s a time and place for that.  There’s a whole other world out there to play with and people are missing it.”

Such balls.  Here is a new up and comer hot-shot guitarist and he is blasting 80’s guitar playing.  To be honest, he is not wrong.  I cannot list the amount of albums i purchased where the songs are lame as, however the guitar solo spot is a song within a song.  Keel is one band that comes to mind.  Yeah they had a few good songs on each album, however the rest of the songs where shite with good solo spots.  MacAlpine is another.  This was Tony’s attempt at having a vocal oriented band around his guitar playing.  The only problem is, you need to have the songs to make it work, not just the guitar solos.  He did it well with Project Driver (the supergroup featuring Rob Rock, Tommy Aldridge and Rudy Sarzo), however that was with more accomplished musicians.   Not a lot of people show balls these days.  We all want to be loved, even by the people who only like to hate.

Extreme headlined a scheduled 15 city club tour in April and May.  The group now hopes to land the opening spot on an arena tour.  “We just want a fair shake,” says Bettencourt.

That is what every band wanted back in the day.  Their careers where in the hands of the people who controlled them behind the scenes.  The label, the manager, the booking agent and so on.  They had to rely on all of the above to get a fair shake.  Seriously how fair was that shake to begin with.  All of the above mentioned people, take a generous cut from what the band makes.

These days, the fair shake is up to you.  You determine how high or how low your career goes.  You determine your definition of success.  Adam Duce got fired from Machine Head, because his heart wasn’t in it anymore.  His definition of success was different to what Robb Flynn’s was.  He felt like he toiled for over 25 years and still hadn’t made.  He wanted to be like Metallica.  But there is only one Metallica.  And since he wasn’t as famous as them, he didn’t see the point in continuing.

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