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

High Wire – The Streets Cry Badlands, Till The Day That I Die

With Jake E Lee excommunicated from the Osbourne camp no one was sure what he would do next. In 1988, Badlands formed however the connections that made this happen go back to the years that Jake spent with Ozzy.

The original Badlands line up was Ray Gillen on vocals, Eric Singer on drums, Greg Chaisson on bass and of course Jake E Lee on guitar. And we will never be able to see the band that cut the self-titled debut album reunite. Ray Gillen has passed and Eric Singer said in an interview on the Daves on Tour website that his memories of Badlands aren’t good ones.

“I saw a lot of potential with really talented people turn into a sad situation.”

Eric Singer auditioned for Ozzy back in 1985 and he didn’t get the gig. Greg Chaisson also auditioned for Ozzy around the same period and he also didn’t get the gig. Both of them lost out to Randy Castillo and Phil Soussan. The outcome for both Singer and Chaisson was that they got to meet Jake E Lee and have a jam with him. That is the Jake E Lee connection.

Eric Singer also did a stint in Black Sabbath during the Glenn Hughes/Ray Gillen era. That is the Ray Gillen connection. Music is a relationship business and it was these relationships, albeit small ones once upon a time, that ended up getting together to create one hell of a debut album.

In an interview with Kerrang from May 1989, this is what Ray Gillen had to say on the bands beginnings;

“I was particularly keen on the project because I had to pick myself up off the floor after my involvement with the Blue Murder project had gone sour. I was basically asked to leave the band due to outside record company pressure. John Kalodner, one of the top people at Geffen Records, simply said that I couldn’t sing!”

John Sykes’s search for a singer for his post Whitesnake project was legendary and in the end it was John Kalodner who decided it.

By 1989, metal music needed a re-invention. The answer was a new breed of bands with guitar gods as their centrepiece. Enter, Badlands, along with Blue Murder, Mr Big and Lynch Mob.

Wearing their Seventies classic rock influences on their sleeves and very cleverly merging the minor key riff remnants of the mid-Eighties heavy metal sound, Badlands hit the target. Each song was unique. Engineer James A. Ball mentioned in a Guitar World interview from July 1989, that the album was recorded in about ten studios. Each studio brought its own sound to the songs and you can hear it.

This is what Jake E Lee had to say on the band in an interview with Guitar World from July 1989;

Badlands is purer because I didn’t have to filter my ideas through Ozzy. Ozzy encouraged a flashier, trick-oriented style. Badlands is definitely more blues-based. When we got together we started by playing old Cream, Free, Led Zeppelin—the things we all grew up on. When we started writing songs, it carried over. I naturally went back to my pre-Ozzy approach. Our bassist, Greg Chaisson, says he’s relieved. He used to see me in my club days when I was playing in Ratt and Rough Cutt, and said I was his favourite. When he heard “Bark At The Moon”, he was disappointed.

Paul O’Neill was also the producer and was also their manager. He is well-known today with his work with Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. One thing that Paul O’Neill does not credit for, is his song writing skills. He didn’t have mainstream hits like Desmond Child or Jim Vallance or Max Martin, however he was involved in writing some hard rock and heavy metal classics.

The standout song on the debut is “High Wire” and that song is a Jake E Lee and Ray Gillen composition. It cemented Jake’s reputation. You can’t keep a super star down and what a great way to open the album.

How good is that opening riff?

If anyone has heard the song “Transatlantic Blues” from The Night Flight Orchestra, you will hear this riff re-used. It is a hidden gem and a piece of kick ass hard rock. Adrenaline Mob also covered it last year on “Coverta” and paid tribute to the original in a damn good way.

The beauty of the song is the simplicity. It is a simple A to C, A to D riff, the cornerstone to all classic blues/classic rock songs.

“Winter’s Call” is written by Jake E Lee, Ray Gillen and Alex Gonzalez. It is the most Zeppelinesque song on the album, especially in the verses, combining Middle Eastern drones with Celtic modes. It is also one of the oldest songs on the album, as the song’s roots go back to 1983.

“Streets Cry Freedom” is the next gem and the song is written by Jake E Lee, Ray Gillen and Paul O’Neill. What a great way to close off side one. When vinyl was king, albums got sequenced by having a great opening track and a great closing track.

“Till the day that I die”.

The comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie and Bad Company are prevalent in this song. The song’s verses are a typical 12 bars blues. Instead of playing it in the standard way, Jake E Lee shows his guitar smarts by arpeggiating the verses.

Again, the song sounds complex, however it is simple, especially the way it picks up towards the end.

“Seasons” is a gem on the second side. It is another song by the Jake E Lee, Ray Gillen and Paul O’Neill song writing team and man, it reminds me a lot of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”.

This was 1989 and MTV ruled. Bands needed a hit to get recognition. So while “Dreams In The Dark” did the video rounds, as the record label decided it had the most “hit” potential, songs like “Winters Call”, “Seasons” and “Streets Cry Freedom” slipped under the radar. This is Jake E Lee at his best. He soars on these songs, like a free bird. And Ray Gillen made John Kalodner eat his words.

Then there are the stories about how “Hard Driver” reminds me of “Death Alley Driver” from Rainbow. How Jake E Lee used a black Les Paul Custom originally owned by Carlos Santana for “Rumblin’ Train” and how the song was written while Jake E Lee was tuning up his guitar.

The self titled album is brilliant. While other artists went with the one hit single per album and the rest as filler, Badlands delivered an album strong from start to finish. I sort of forgot about these albums and it was Jake’s re-appearance last year that re-awakened all of these memories.

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Music, My Stories

Motley Crue and Kiss at the Allphones Arena, Sydney 9th March 2013 – Part 2 – Kiss’s Set

Getting late
I just can’t wait
Ten o’clock and I know I gotta hit the road
First I drink, then I smoke
Start up the car, and I try to make the midnight show

Get up
Everybody’s gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody’s gonna leave their seat

Its all about the show.  A lot of bands just write songs and then you have Paul Stanley who wrote songs for the show.   The intro is built for explosions, pyro and fire.  The story behind Detroit Rock City is legend by now and from tragedy you get a song stands the test of time.  37 years later it is still relevant and the Kiss fan that got killed on his way to the concert will never be forgotten.  Credit must be given to Bob Ezrin as well.  Apart from being the producer, he also was a co songwriter on this song, and the task master on Destroyer.  Coming into the Destroyer album of 1976, Bob Ezrin was coming off his recent successes with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed.  Of course Ezrin would go on to greater fame with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. 

It doesn’t matter what you do or say
Just forget the things that you’ve been told
We can’t do it any other way
Everybody’s got to rock and roll, whoo, oh, oh

Shout It Out Loud is one of those songs that just endure.  Rock N Roll was all about doing things that the conservatives wouldn’t do.  The history of rock music is littered with the same themes.  It doesn’t matter what the people in power say, we will try to do it in our own way.  This song was penned by Paul, Gene and Bob.  All the big songs from Destroyer had an Ezrin co-write.  These themes popped up again in I Wanna Rock and You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll from Twisted Sister. 

You know your man is workin’ hard
He’s worth a deuce

As described by Gene Simmons Deuce was a popular street term in the early 1970s meaning fellatio and full sex afterwards. This song is penned by Gene Simmons only.  It has also endured through the 40 odd years.  Will a song be written like Deuce these days?  Probably not.  Everyone wants to be liked these days and they do stuff that is politically correct.  Music is never about toeing the line.  There are artists out there that do it their own way but these are outliers.  They could rise amongst all the others or they could be forgotten or they could change and be part of the masses. 

She can move you and improve you
With her love and her devotion
And she’ll thrill you and she’ll chill you
But you’re headed for commotion

And you’ll need her so you’ll feed her
With your endless dedication
And the quicker you get sicker
She’ll remove your medication

Get the firehouse
‘Cause she sets my soul afire
Get the firehouse
And the flames keep gettin’ higher

The usual concert staple where Gene Simmons ‘spits’ fire and sings about the slaves men have become to women, relationships and sex.  It’s so true, we are so addicted to being loved or to having a sexual relationship, we will change and bend who we and then we get burned.  You can even see we think a lot with our penises.  Another Kiss classic penned by Paul Stanley, who to me is an underrated songwriter when he goes it alone. 

I rode the highway to heartache
I took a trip on the ship of fools, woah yeah!
And I paid the price to have my way
‘Cause money makes the rules, yeah!

Hell or Hallelujah is probably the best song Kiss has written since the Revenge album.  Psycho Circus is a close second.   It’s good to see Paul Stanley going alone again with the writing, instead of a list of outside writers, like he has done for a long time.  Life is about paying your dues, it’s about accumulating experiences.  What price are we prepared to pay to have it our own way?

How true is the last lyric line?  Money makes the rules.  There is a story at the Wall Street Journal stating that “nine executives at private-equity firms together will take home more than $1 billion in dividends and compensation from last year”.  Money buys rules.  How many of the architects of the GFC got punished.  Instead they got bailouts, generous severance payments and are doing College tours of the US.  On the other side of the coin, you had people lose their houses, their families, their lives and their sanity.     

So if you please get on your knees
There are no bills, there are no fees
Baby, I know what your problem is
The first step of the cure is a kiss

So call me (Dr. Love)
They call me Dr. Love (calling Dr. Love)

Calling Dr. Love is rock n roll all the way through. With its Cold Ethyl borrowed riff and the usual subject matter about sex, this Gene Simmons penned tune follows all the rhyming clichés. This was on the Eddie Kramer produced Rock N Roll Over.  That album didn’t stand a chance as a follow up to Destroyer. 

I was born to the human race
Livin’ life feelin’ out of place
People said I was wasting my time
Looking to find my kind

Outta This World is a song that sounds forced and fake.  This Tommy Thayer penned tune is a sad imitation to the real Space Man.  As much as Gene and Paul spin it, there is only one space man and that is Ace Frehley. It is a shame that Ace doesn’t recognise his value to the Kiss Army.  Even the banks are foreclosing on his home.  So you have an ex member of one of the biggest bands in the land, that sell everything that they can think off, and his home is getting foreclosed.  Are Gene and Paul doing creative accounting in this or is Ace just silly with his money.   

Get up!
Now it’s time for me to take my place
The make-up runnin’ down my face
We’re exiled from the human race.

You’re in the psy
You’re in the psycho circus
I say welcome to the show.

Step up!
No one leaves ’til the night is done
The amplifier starts to hum
The carnival has just begun.

Psycho Circus is about the rock experience.  It’s about the rock heads.  It’s about how the establishments treated us as exiles from the human race, before the bankers all wanted a piece of it and made it mainstream.  Then our rock idols also wanted to become bankers.  The rock show was a circus, it was a place to let our hair down and be as one.  This was penned by Paul Stanley and Curtis Cuomo.  Cuomo also co wrote a lot of songs on the Carnival of Souls album that didn’t get any attention due to all the hoopla of the original band reunion.  Psycho Circus was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and in the end he couldn’t save it either.  As much as it was hyped as a reunion Ace was more or less absent again from most of the recordings with Tommy Thayer doing most of the leads.  I didn’t mind Psycho Circus but as with every follow up album to a mega successful one it has a lot to live up too.  The intention of Psycho Circus was never to sell truckloads of albums.  It was all about putting the make up on again and being KISS.     

I love it loud, I wanna hear it loud, right between the eyes
Loud, I wanna hear it loud, I don’t want to compromise

Turn it up, hungry for the medicine
Two fisted to the very end
No more treated like aliens, we’re not gonna take it ‘cos

I Love It Loud, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It and many other songs shared similar themes.   Kiss need to really credit Vinnie Vincent for their resurrection in the early 80’s.  I Love It Loud was penned by Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent.  This song is from Creatures of The Night.  Even though Ace is credited on album sleeves it was Vinnie Vincent that brought the guns and had Kiss firing on all cylinders again.

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights

Again another song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here.  Crazy Nights was co written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Live this song didn’t go down to good.  They key they where doing the song in was all wrong, Paul even had a capo on his guitar (which isn’t very ROCK N ROLL) and everything was just out of key.  You can tell that the band was put off. 

Better watch out ’cause I’m a war machine

That is how the rockers and metal heads felt.  Indestructible war machines.  It was an elite club once, and when the bankers and others wanted a piece of it, we didn’t like it.  Our heroes took the bankers in and they started to treat the real fans like cattle.  There is no other way to describe it.  Just look back to our record collection of the mid 80’s onwards and what you have is an album with 2 to 4 good songs and the rest is pure filler.  Of course there where always albums that rose above this, like Slippery When Wet, New Jersey, Dr Feelgood, Hysteria, Appetite for Destruction, Master of Puppets and many others.  Thank god the internet came and levelled the playing field once again.  War Machine is one of the most heaviest songs in the Kiss arsenal, up there with Unholy, yet it was co-written by Gene Simmons, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.  The heaviest song Kiss has was written by a pop duo. 

You pull the trigger of my
Love gun, (love gun), love gun

Another Paul Stanley classic, penned on his own.  It’s part of pop culture now.  You pull the trigger of my love gun.  Growing up in the 80’s I cant recall how many times I used this line on the opposite sex, only to get laughs instead of the actual deed. 

You show us everything you’ve got
You keep on dancing and the room gets hot
You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy

You keep on shouting, you keep on shouting
I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day

Rock and Roll All Nite was co-written by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  These two guys need to do more co-writing together. This is what we wanted to do.  No one wanted to work nine to five jobs.  We all wanted to be musicians.  Kiss wrote the anthem for it.  To me the Rock n Roll all night isn’t about rocking per se, it is about getting down and having dirty sex. 

Lick It Up – kneel at the altar of Vinnie Vincent.  Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.  The songs that have Vincent’s involvement are a step above the other songs Kiss released in the 80’s and the 90’s.  Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent wrote this song.  The good thing about the Lick It Up album is that it was all written within the band.  That is why it works.   Lick It Up was their big album in the 80’s.  The best songs on Creatures of the Night were also co – written by Vincent and the best songs on Revenge where also co- written by Vincent.  Of course Revenge was their big album of the 90’s. 

Don’t wanna wait ’til you know me better
Let’s just be glad for the time together
Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.  This song killed it when it got started. 

Black Diamond is another Paul Stanley penned tune.  In the concert Eric Singer sang the song, and I must say I was impressed with his vocal abilities. 

Out on the streets for a living
Picture’s only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb

I must say Eric Singer played the part of Catman perfectly.  If Peter Criss was there or not, I don’t think it matters, however for some reason, Tommy Thayer pretending to be the Spaceman, matters.  I am still trying to work this one out.

And the show comes to an end.  I looked over at my boys and they had Joker style grins from ear to ear.  They were tired at midnight, but pumped.  For an eight and seven year old, they are just starting out.  To me, it was great to experience the concert with them.  Kiss and Motley have the biggest arena shows and it was a perfect first concert for my boys.  Kiss where far superior on the night, more professional and tighter.

To me, one of the best concerts i went to was a Black Crowes gig at the Wollongong Entertainment Center where about 1000 tickets where sold in a venue that holds about 10,000.  The band went on and they played and they jammed, extending their songs and just having fun.  They played all of their hits, but they didn’t play them the same as the album.  The band had fun doing their extended jams and the audience had fun along with them.  This is an important fact that seems to be missing from concerts these days.  Kiss might as well have lip synced as they didn’t really do anything different with the material.

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