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

Some Songs Starting With ‘Y’

YOUNGBLOOD Audrey Horne

There is something unique when members from death/extreme metal bands end up crafting retro sounding rock albums.

Sweden’s “The Night Flight Orchestra” featuring members of Soilwork and Arch Enemy are one such band. Actually TNFO’s new album due out in June was a pure blind pre-order for me. I know some artists lament the internet and wish for the good old days of record label gatekeepers and monopolies. However if those days still existed, bands like The Night Flight Orchestra and Audrey Horne would never have been released in Australia. To me there is no doubt that the internet is there to spread music on a global scale and it is a shame that the record labels have been dragged kicking and screaming into this global world.

Going back to the story, the original band that came from extreme metal bands is Norway’s “Audrey Horne”. The band was formed in 2002. “Youngblood” is their fourth album released in 2013. That intro groove especially when the drums come in remind me of early Black Sabbath. Hell, even the vocal tone reminds me of Ozzy.

They say he’s been around forever
I’m pretty sure he taught the devil to steal
And somewhere down the line… they cut a deal

The solo section reminds me of the Thin Lizzy harmonies merged with Scorpions Euro Metal influence and that retro sounding lead in the outro is brilliant. And no one even knows it. The YouTube clip is approaching close to 14,000 views.

YEAR TO THE DAY Van Halen

The biggest change to Eddie Van Halen’s unique style of crafting rock songs was Sammy Hagar. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Van Hager period of pop metal/rock songs. It was a total departure from the more chaotic rock abandonment style of the Roth era. Of course I know that there are songs from the Roth era that follow a pop formula like “Jump” and both eras bring back a lot of great memories.

Then the split with Hagar happened. Roth was back in, talking/singing over “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic” from the 1996 “Best Off – Volume 1” compilation. You can hear musically where EVH was progressing. It was more a throwback to the beautiful chaos of the pre-Hagar era, however with a touch of progressiveness.

Then the split with Roth happened again and Gary Cherone was chosen to write lyrics over the bed of chaotic musical progressions created by EVH.

The period of the “Van Halen III” album is bitterly debated amongst people and always compared to the previous versions of the band. To me it was just another era for the band and good enough to stand on its own feet. However it is not as glorious as the other eras and the 36,880 views this song has on YouTube is proof of that.

I woke up to yet another day
Grown to expect, expect more of the same

Conformity. It’s the new suicide these days. The song peaks at the right time and then it quiets down when it needs to. The 12/8 blues groove just adds to the pull and release tension of the music. Underpinning it all is EVH. He owns this song. From fingerpicked verses, to fleet fingered solos to holding down a blues groove, the song has it all.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE Revolution Saints

The supergroup project featuring Deen Castronovo on vocals/drums, Jack Blades on bass and Doug Aldrich on guitars playing songs written by Alessandro Del Vecchio. This is a good song for a ballad. There are two versions on the album, I actually enjoy the version that features Arnel Pineda on vocals.

It’s a ballad for the ones that haven’t heard it. Check it out.

YOU’VE GOT TO STAND FOR SOMETHING John Cougar Mellencamp

From the mega selling “Scarecrow” album released in 1985.

You’ve got to stand for something
Or you’re gonna fall for anything

Although I don’t agree with John Cougar Mellencamp’s views on blaming search engines for piracy/copyright infringement, I at least admire him for taking a stand on a situation, much like the lyrics above exemplify.

In the end copyright infringement/piracy is an availability problem not a search engine problem. See how all of the large-scale piracy is now related to locked up TV content. Streaming and Spotify’s free tier is a piracy killer.

The “Scarecrow” album had a lot of other “MTV” songs, however “You’ve Got The Stand For Something” was my favourite.

I saw Miss America
In a girly magazine
I bet you saw that too

Love it. It’s a brilliant lyric as it is so tongue in cheek and funny that it doesn’t come across as cheesy at all. Everyone would get it. The whole song is littered with moments in time.

YELLOW TEETH Protest The Hero

“Yellow Teeth” is from the fan funded “Volition” album and man the songs lyrics are littered with truths about people’s judgement of others.

A man is nothing more than what others claim he is,

Judgement by others…

I can’t be the only one losing sleep
over things I should or shouldn’t have done.

The lies spread by others.

YYZ Rush

If you want to hear the major influence on Dream Theater’s sound on the first two albums “When Dream And Day Unite” and “ Images And Words” then look no further than ‘YYZ’ from Rush. For an instrumental it is packed with what I call today Dream Theaterism’s.

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

Saints (Winners) and Sinners (Losers)

WINNER
Machine Head are doing the opposite of what all the other bands are doing. Playing smaller venues, selling them out and doing “An Evening With..” extravaganza. The prices of tickets are affordable and not extravagant. This is one band that realizes their niche place in the metal music business and they play to their core audience, the Headcases.

In Robb Flynn, they have one of the best frontmen in thrash/metal circles that is not afraid to take a stance on an issue. He speaks to his core audience via his journals. He controls his own narrative and not the press, which is the downfall of a lot of other artists.

Flynn, along with Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast have realized that music is all about the souvenirs. The “Killers and Kings” single release for Record Store Day with the four different tarot covers proved once again that if people believe in the artists, they will spend their money. Machine Head weren’t selling music, they were selling collectibles. I purchased all four and I still haven’t opened them.

WINNER
Megadeth. As a guitarist I didn’t really dig Broderick’s uninspired lead breaks so I am pretty happy that he has left. Just because a person is super technical it doesn’t mean they are good songwriters. Seriously put those lead breaks up against the jazzy shred work of Chris Poland, the neo – classical shred metal of Marty Friedman, the tasteful phrasing of Al Pitrelli and the pentatonic chaos of Dave Mustaine and you will see where Broderick stacks up. Drummers are plentiful so I am sure that Megadeth will have no issues here finding one that will suit.

LOSERS
Chris Broderick and Shaun Drover.

The history of guitarists and drummers that have departed Megadeth is vast. The real good ones have had stellar careers pre and post Megadeth. Marty Friedman had a fan base before he joined and then he became a Japanese musical icon post Megadeth. Al Pitrelli also had an established fan base prior to joining and he was already in demand as a session guy and touring guitarist for various projects. Chris Poland did “Damn The Machine” which was an unbelievable album/band that wasn’t embraced by the waves of change that happened to metal in 1993 and Poland’s instrumental album “Return To Metalopolis” was also a favourite back in the day.

WINNER
Streaming. Fans of music didn’t care at all that The Pirate Bay got raided or that Kickass Torrents got taken down. Those raids/takedowns are all pure PR stunts by the associations and a waste of money/legal resources because copyright for the last 15 years has been hijacked and used purely for criminal pursuits and nothing to do with aiding the artist.

LOSERS
Artists and entities that compare the streaming dollars earned today to those pre 1999 sales dollars without understanding that streaming is all about scale. The more people using the platform, the higher the payments will be in the future. But no one can look that far, when everyone thinks about “right now”. The ones complaining about streaming royalties just don’t have enough fans interested in listening to their music consistently.

WINNER
Slash. He has shown that he is more Guns N Roses than Axl Rose is. His output has been solid via his many projects, like Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Slash (the guest vocalist album) and now Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. He is doing what every other musician should be doing, which is releasing product and touring.

LOSER
Duff McKagan. His views on piracy/copyright infringement are restricting him from doing what he needs to do, which is, to create music.

WINNER
Dee Snider. His views on Doug Aldrich are spot on.

LOSER
Doug Aldrich. He’s a good guitar player but nowhere in the league of the Eighties guitarist he was competing against when he was with “Lion”. For the years he has been involved in music, there is not one definitive song/riff that can be attributed to Doug Aldrich.

WINNER
Data. The era of feeling it or rorting the charts is over. It’s all about the fans and what they listen too.

LOSER
Sales. Just because Spotify is killing off piracy, it doesn’t mean that people will start to buy physical CD’s, vinyls or pay to download MP3’s again. Seriously there is a lot of rubbish reporting out there stating something like “sales are worse now since Spotify has entered the market”. Well, hello genius, Spotify and streaming for that matter are also competing with sales.

WINNER
George Lynch. He realizes it’s all about the music and without making new music, he has no career. That’s why people come back. Lynch Mob, his solo career, KXM, Sweet and Lynch and now the announcement of a new project called “The Infidels” which is another pseudo-supergroup.

LOSER
Don Dokken. Without the involvement of Lynch and Pilson in the songwriting department, the band Dokken is a shadow of its former self.

WINNER
Indegoot Entertainment. They have a roster of bands that make up a very large portion of the U.S Hard Rock market, that have proven to be consistent sellers in a recorded music sales market that is contracting instead of expanding. Shinedown, In This Moment, Halestorm, Chevelle, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of A Deadman and Story of The Year.

Rock is far from dead when you have rock artists like these. And with a good roster of talent comes power on the live circuit. That is why Indegoot is a winner.

LOSER
Any metal or rock band that is spending months upon months creating their new album and being out of the public consciousness. The modern way is to be in our head space every day. If an artist today takes a break then they are on their way to being forgotten. And you don’t want to be in the news if it is not about your music. No one can forget what their core business is.

Slipknot took almost seven years to release their new album, only to have “The Devil In I” rack up 9.6 million streams. What about the other songs?

Yngwie Malmsteen has delivered a lot of dud albums in the last ten years and he still takes his time before issuing the next one.

WHY?

You would think after one crap album, he would get going with delivering a better song quickly to make amends. Malmsteen can be doing much more to keep in touch with his fan base which doesn’t revolve around issuing ten to twelve songs every two years under his own name.

Take a leaf out of George Lynch’s or Michael Sweets or Marc Tremonit’s or Russell Allen’s playbook.

WINNER
Kevin Churko. Everyone wants to work with him. He is the modern-day version of Tom Werman or Keith Olsen. Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Hellyeah, Papa Roach are all bands that have used the might Churko as producer and on some occasions as songwriter. If you want to use sales as a statistic of reach, then bands produced by Kevin Churko are some of the best sellers in the genre.

LOSER
EVH.

My EVH Peavey 5150 Combo that I purchased back in 1995 is still my favourite amp to record with. So it is a shame that the greatest and most innovative guitarist cannot get it together to deliver new music worthy of his stature. Reading Sammy Hagar’s bio recently cemented my views on EVH who has become a person that is so out of touch with reality and a victim of his own vices. His future without any doubt is with Sammy Hagar as the front man.
WINNER
Allen Kovac’s move from management to the label business has paid off. Eleven Seven Music is another label doing their bit in bringing hard rock back to the masses. Artists involve Hellyeah, Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M, Nothing More, Art Of Dying, Apocalyptica, Escape The Fate and Drowning Pool.

LOSER
AC/DC without Malcolm Young have lost their foundation. Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC and always will. They will make a killing on the live circuit however no one cares for their new music. On top of all that their views about withholding their music from certain digital outlets (while it is available for free on pirate sites) shows how out of touch they are. They are leaving money on the table.

WINNER
Marc Tremonti. He showed the world that he was the brains and driving force behind Creed. He kept his career going with Alter Bridge. He started his own solo band. He went away and mastered the art of shred. His PRS guitars are state of the art and brilliant to play. Trust me on that one as I have one. The PRS through the 5150 is the perfect sound for me.

LOSER
Metallica. They are trying to replicate the corporate deals of U2 and the product saturation of Kiss. This in turn leaves the hard-core fan base squeamish. Meanwhile it has been seven years since they released “Death Magnetic” and music is the very reason why Metallica is in the powerful position they are in right now. However it seems they have forgotten that part of their career. “Lords Of Summer” will most probably be turned into a totally different song however if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t bode well for Metallica as they sit down to write the next album.

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Music

Angus Young – Guitar World – March 1986 – Part 1

ANGUS YOUNG – RAW ENERGY IS ALL YOU NEED
Guitar World March 1986
By Joe Lalaina

(All parts in Italics and Quotes are from the March 1986 issue of Guitar World)

The little guy with the big SG is unconcerned with current guitar hero fashions.  His stock in trade has always been the hard rock shuffle to a boogie beat.  Before you drop the needle on any new AC/DC album, you know what to expect. Rarely has a band maintained such a consistent sound as AC/DC, they’ve been pretty much making the same album for the past ten years. Fly On The Wall, the group’s eleventh release, is no exception.

“I’ve heard people say all our music sounds the same,” says soft-spoken lead guitarist Angus Young, “but it’s usually just the people who don’t like us who say it.”

Not true. It’s just that ever since the band’s High Voltage debut back in 76, AC/DC has been playing the same relentlessly raw and straightforward style on every succeeding album. And that’s the way their fans like it.

I like AC/DC.  They are a talisman to consistency.  Each album is the same, however that doesn’t mean that each album was successful.  You need great songs, and that is what AC/DC delivered on High Voltage, Highway To Hell, Let There Be Rock, Back In Black and on The Razors Edge.  Credit both Mutt Lange for Back In Black and Bruce Fairbairn for The Razors Edge.  Actually, The Razors Edge album is the most crucial album AC/DC ever did.  After a steady decline in fortunes and sales since Back In Black, they kicked off the 1990’s with a bang.  It made them relevant again.  The Razors Edge album sustained them throughout the 90’s and into the now.

“We never go overboard and above people’s heads,” says Angus, who took some rare time out from his recent American tour to discuss musical and other matters.

“We strive to retain that energy, that spirit we’ve always had. We feel the more simple and original something is, the better it is. It doesn’t take much for anyone to pick up anything I play, it’s quite simple. I go for a good song. And if you hear a good song, you don’t dissect it, you just listen and every bit seems right.”

For any guitarist that is starting off, AC/DC wrote the book on beginners guitar.  In the process, they also created songs that are timeless and a soundtrack to a whole generation of people in the seventies, eighties and nineties.  I am just teaching my kids to play guitar and the first song i showed them was Long Way To The Top from AC/DC.

Although this stripped-to-the-bone approach has made AC/DC internationally successful, thirty million albums sold worldwide ain’t bad!, Angus is more concerned with having a  good time than with album sales.

“We don’t go around the world counting ticket and record sales,” he says, “nor do we glue our ears to the radio to hear what’s trendy at the moment; we’re not that type of band. We do run our own careers, but we leave the marketing stuff to the record company. We make music for what we know it as, and we definitely have our own style.”

AC/DC defined a style and in the process spawned a million imitators.  What a lot of people don’t understand, especially the international fans, is that Australia rock bands where all playing the same style.  Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Daddy Cool, Stevie Wright all had that pub rock vibe.  AC/DC just stood out a bit more.  Credit Bon Scott and Angus Young.  Brian Johnson walked into the house built by Bon and Angus.

Is there anything Angus considers special about his playing style?

“In some ways, yeah.” he says. “I know what guitar sound I want right away. And if I put my mind to it, I can come up with a few tricks. I mean, I just don’t hit the strings that my
fingers are nearest to. But the most important thing, to me, is I don’t like to bore people. Whenever I play a solo in a song, I make sure that the audience gets off on it as much as I do.”

Angus exerts more energy in the course of one song than most guitarists do in an entire show.

“I’m always very nervy when I play.” he says. I usually settle down after the first few songs, but it’s hard for me to stand still. I suddenly realize where I am, onstage in front of thousands of people; so the energy from the crowd makes me go wild.  I’m always very careful, though. If you bump an arm or twist an ankle, there s no time for healing on the road. You can t tell the crowd. Hey, people, I can t run around tonight I have a twisted ankle.”

I have mentioned before about bands writing great songs and how that is very different to bands that write great songs that go down great live.  AC/DC is another band, that has that foresight.  The songs are all meant for the arena.  To be honest, i don’t really remember a recorded song fading out, i am sure some do, however it is testament to the band that they write a start and an end.

Malcolm Young, AC/DC s rhythm guitarist and Angus older brother, would rather just stand in one spot and bang out the beat with thuddingly repetitive chord structures.  

“Malcolm makes the band sound so full”, says Angus, “and it’s hard to get a big ego if you play in a band with your brother, it keeps your head on the earth. Malcolm is like me, he just wants the two of us to connect. Although he lets me take all the lead breaks, Malcolm’s still a better guitarist than Eddie Van Halen.  Van Halen certainly knows his scales, but I don’t enjoy listening to very technical guitarists who cram all the notes they know into one song.  I mean, Van Halen can do what he does very well, but he’s really just doing finger exercises. If a guitarist wants to practice all the notes he can play, he should do it at home. There’s definitely a place for that type of playing, but it’s not in front of me.”

Big call by Angus.  Dishing on King Eddie.  Back then, I was like WTF?  How dare he?  Eddie was king back in 1986.  He was untouchable.

I didn’t even like AC/DC back in 1986 and I am Australian.  I was so into the U.S. Glam/Hard rock scene, I failed to see the talent that was AC/DC.  I am glad I made up for it in the nineties, when Grunge allowed me to drop out of the mainstream and go searching for classic rock bands.

These days, no one speaks their mind.  They all want to be loved.  No one wants to be hated.  Guess what people, we can see right through it.  We can tell the fakes from the real dealers.  (Nice lyric line by the way, I will keep it)

Angus would much rather listen to old time players like Chuck Berry or B B King. 

“Those guys have great feel, ” says Angus. “They hit the notes in the right spot and they know when not to play. Chuck Berry was never a caring person. He didn’t care whether he was playing his tune, out of tune or someone else’s tune. Whenever he plays guitar, he has a big grin from ear to ear. Everyone always used to rave about Clapton when I was growing up, saying he was a guitar genius and stuff like that. Well even on a bad night Chuck Berry is a lot better than Clapton will ever be.  Clapton just sticks licks together that he has taken from other people – like B B King and the other old blues players—and puts them together in some mish-mashed fashion. The only great album he ever made was the Blues Breaker album he did with John Mayal and maybe a couple of good songs he did with Cream. The guy more or less built his reputation on that. I never saw what the big fuss was about Clapton to begin with.”

That is what made Angus a legend, he always spoke his mind.  The world we have today is all about yes people and making sure that we don’t offend.  We all want to be loved, hence the reason why one person has 5000 Facebook friends.  Yeah Right.  5000 Friends.  What a load of B.S?  No one speaks their mind these days.  The kids grow up these days, being told by mum and dad what a great game they had in football, and how great they are at reading and how great they are at this, when all they did was touch the ball once and play with the grass most of the time.

It’s easy to get lost in those comments against Clapton and Van Halen.  If you do, you miss the point Angus is trying to make.  He has no time for technical players, but he has time for Chuck Berry.  In relation to Eric Clapton, he didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about, he believed that others where better, like Jeff Beck.

“There are guys out there who can play real good without boring people.  Jeff Beck is one of them.  He’s more of a technical guy, but when he wants to rock and roll he sure knows how to do it with guts.  I really like the early albums he did with Rod Stewart.”

There is that name again Jeff Beck.  When I was reading this magazine, Jeff Beck’s name came up a few times.  I had to check him out.  This is 1986.  No internet to Google Jeff Beck.  No YouTube or Spotify to sample him.  I had to walk down to the local record shop and look for it.  Good times.  I am glad I lived them and I am glad they are not coming back.

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Music, Treating Fans Like Shit

Stone Music Festival, Sydney – The people on Facebook have spoken

The Stone Music Festival could have, should have, would have been great.  It had the makings of a great event.  Taking its name from the cult followed Stone movie, one of the best pieces of Australian cinema, it had everything going for it.  From reading people’s reactions on social media, it is safe to say that organisers missed the mark on this one. They have suffered some serious brand damage on this one, so i don’t believe that another Stone festival will happen.

VH sound was the worst mix I’ve heard in 25 years of watching and playing in bands. Bloody disgrace. Flew up from Melbourne to hear them and walked out after 30 mins.  

Any chance of a free Van Halen concert for those who paid to see one of the greatest bands, and got the worse sounding gig ever?  But only after the sound guy is sacked & replaced with a capable one.

For those that are complaining about Van Halen’s performance last night take note that their music is always turned up loud! I remember the 1998 concert my ears were ringing for one week after seeing them. And being an outdoor arena there’s going to be a lot of echo which most times people may think is distortion. Personally I think their performance was great.  A couple of negatives is that Dave should stick to singing in a lower range as it suits his voice better, and they’ll refuse to play some Van Hagar songs like “Dreams, Right Now and Why Can’t This Be Love”.. They never played them in the ’07-’12 tours.. Overall I think they played great.

The Van Halen’s played great, Eddie is still the guitar God he always was. David Lee Roth had vocal issues, but it was still a great performance overall. Heard no sound issues where I was on the floor, and the set was a great selection of Roth era old and new.

Can someone explain to me how one of the largest bands in the world, have an incompetent sound engineer behind the desk?  Van Halen are getting paid $3 million for this performance, and it’s their only Australian performance, so i would expect some care and precision to be taken with the sound.  Does the band care?  EVH and AVH have not made one public appearance in Australia, nor have they done any interviews recently.  All of the PR is done by DLR.  I grew up on Van Halen, the 1984 and 5150 albums sit behind the Randy Rhoads tribute album as bibles in hard rock guitar playing (also need to add John Sykes playing on Whitenake’s 1987 album).

Aerosmith was the most amazing thing I have seen! Best night of my life by far! Seeing my sexy toxic twins up there blew me away! And Aerosmith shat all over van halen! FUCK YES!

Aerosmith – Amazing, possibly the best band on the day

Mind blowing performances today…. Sooooooo Goood.
Kings of Chaos and Aerosmith stole the showww…

OMG What a totally awesome day/night we had but WOW Aerosmith were fantastic!!! Kings of Chaos were brilliant as well as Noiseworks, Living End, Buck Cherry…. Thoroughly had the best time 🙂

Aerosmith still have it.  Like Kiss, they are seasoned and professional when it comes to performing live, plus Steve Tyler still has the vocal chops.

Just one question about today – why did the merchandise stand not open until 3.00pm? I waited in the queue for 3/4 hour missing Kings of Chaos to get t-shirts not good!

A lot of people expressed their frustration at the merchandise stores and they couldn’t understand why once inside the stadium, no merchandise could be purchased.

How do I go about officially complaining about this event or the promoters? Or whoever I can complain about/to.  Lifehouse was the ONLY reason I bought the $279 ticket and spent $300+ on accommodation and flights.What am I supposed to do now??!?  

Due to Lifehouse pulling out…Selling platinum ticket for tomorrow. $280 ONO.  Section A2 row L seat 6.  Lifehouse was the only reason I bought the ticket. Been waiting 8 years to see them. Won’t be able to get a refund on flights and accommodation already booked, but I can at least sell the ticket (for the price I bought it for) to someone who wants to be there. Inbox me if interested.

Lifehouse must have known that they were not going to do the show for a while, however they announced it on Friday via their Facebook page, with really a pretty shite post.  Fans want the truth, they want answers.  They don’t want stupid PR produced messages that mean nothing.  As mentioned above, fans purchased tickets to watch Lifehouse.  That is one part.  If they came from different states, they would have purchased flight tickets, hotel tickets and so much more.  I like Lifehouse.  I got into them because my wife like them.  However, they have let their fans down by not explaining properly why they pulled out.   The times have changed, however the Lifehouse PR team seems to have missed the memo.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Rudolf Schenker – Guitar World – March 1986

RUDOLF SCHENKER ON THE AESTHETICS OF HEAVY METAL GUITAR
By Bruce Nixon

The below article in italics appeared in the Guitar World March 1986 issue.  I have re-typed here and added my bits and pieces to it.

The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar?  Well, think about it.  Rudolf Schenker was intrigued.  He was sitting in a backstage dressing room, a litter of soda cans, ashtrays and half filled beer bottles on the low table in front of him, quietly noodling on his trusty black-and-gold Flying V.  He balanced the guitar on his knees and spread his arms out wide, smiling broadly, his eyes sparkling.  Already, conversation had drifted over Vs and V players, and the Scorpions’ well-known axeman had displayed a deep and interested passion for the guitar life.

That is the iconic look, Rudolf Schenker with a trusted flying V.  This issue is from March 1986.  Rudolf had been in the game for over 26 years by now.  Rock You Like A Hurricane from 1984’s Love At First Sting album was a monster hit for the Scorpions.  Winners never quit.  They persist.  They persevere.  Sure, the Scorpions had an audience in Europe and Asia, but it wasn’t until 1984 that they broke through in the US.

“The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar…” His accent was middling thick with a slightly skewered command of idiom, but it didn’t set in the way of his enthusiasm. The idea had captured his attention, in any case.  

“I know of several different kinds of players,” he said. “There is Van Halen, very technical and very creative.  Him I like very much, because he has put new things into guitar playing.  He is very good rhythm-wise. And the other I like very much is my brother Michael.”  

This, of course, referring to Michael Schenker, the Scorpions’ original lead guitarist, now fronting his own band.

“He can play melodically—but he puts the three parts of the guitar together, the melodic, the technique and the feel. Some have more technical skill, but in my brother, all three parts are equal.  He has feel, but he keeps the melody inside and the exact rhythm inside.”

The impact of Edward Van Halen to rock music is immense.  Back in 1986, it was still at a level of what he brought to the guitar playing circles and how an expectation was made that any band with desires to make it, had to have a guitar hero.  Of course afterwards, EVH would branch out into guitars, amps and gear.

I am the youngest of three boys, so to hear Rudolf talk about his younger brother in such high regard, is cool.  His words ring true.  Michael Schenker was a monster player.  UFO couldn’t contain him.  Their best works happened when Michael Schenker was in the band.  (We will forget about the crappy 90’s reunion album and the bad Vinnie Moore reincarnation, even though i am a fan of Vinnie Moore as well).  His solo work in the eighties as part of MSG and McAuley Schenker Group was a stand out as well.

Going back to March 1986, Rudolf’s summation of his brothers ability made me curious to find out more about Michael Schenker.  This is artists promoting other artists.  I don’t believe that form of promotion happens these days anymore?  Growing up in Australia, the nineties brought a certain elitism ideal to certain local scenes, where each band only looked out for themselves as they where worried that another band might take their fans.  What artists failed to realise is that fans of music always like more than one band.  That is how fan bases are made, a common love of music across different bands.

“You see, metal is a new style.  Heavy rock is based on guitar and drums together.  If you want aesthetics, when you go looking for a good guitar player, you will find them in heavy rock.  This is a place where the guitar player has the most openings.  Look at Rick Springfield—his guitar player is good, but the music is based on the singer.  In heavy rock, the guitar player has more parts than the singer has.  In heavy metal, the players are young and fresh, too, open to new styles and new sounds, new everything!  Whole roads are open to them.  We all used to copy Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but bands don’t do that anymore.”

Bands started to copy their peers.

Motley Crue hit the LA scene in 1980 with a mix of Seventies Punk, Americana Rock / Pop and British Classic Rock.  Bands like Poison, Warrant, Bullet Boys and Tuff came out influenced by bands like Motley Crue and Ratt.

Bon Jovi came out influenced by Seventies Classic Rock, Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey keyboard driven pop scene.  Then you had every band writing songs in a pop metal vein.

Van Halen came out influenced by the English Blues Rock and Americana Rock/Pop.  Name me one band in the eighties that didn’t try to sound like them.

Def Leppard wanted to record an album that mixed Queen style pop harmonies with the NWOBM sound they were involved in.  They achieved that with Pyromania and perfected it on Hysteria, spawning thousands of imitators.  

Guitar players became the ones that got the attention as well.  The band dynamic had evolved.  It started in the Seventies and continued with the Hard Rock / Glam Rock movement in the Eighties.

“I like to listen to heavy rock very much,” he added. “Jimmy Page, in his good days, was so good.  Now, Jeff Beck has always been good, and I like his solo album very much.  I hear Malmsteen—he s very fast, very technical, much into classical.  Take Ritchie Blackmore—of course, he is from the older generation of players, but he doesn’t get older  in his sound.  Beck is more for older people these days.  Ritchie is one of those guys who has old and young kids in his audience.  He has that fresh energy.”

Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow is one guitarist that appealed to both old and young guitarist.  The older crowd that is into the blues rock style loved what Blackmore did with it, the middle-aged got the best of both worlds and the younger crowds maybe didn’t appreciate the blues rock vibe of Blackmore however they related to his classical technicality that fit perfectly with the rise of the Eighties shred.  That is where Michael Schenker also comes into the picture.  He also accommodated both audiences.

He suggested that the greatest heavy rock players were European-except for Jimi Hendrix and Leslie West.  America has not been highly nourishing soil for metal guitarists.  In metal, at least.  Europeans maintain more of a purists approach to the genre.  

“I think European guitarists have been more original.” he remarked matter-of-factly.  Page—Beck—Clapton- Ritchie—my brother. In heavy rock. English players, especially, have had a more original feel. In coming from Germany, when I watch television over here, I see everything is made for posing—the advertisements and stuff.  In Europe, people are more natural, they are relaxed.  They don’t pay as  much attention to those things. Maybe the guitar players are like that, too.”

There is that name again Jimi Hendrix and who the hell is Leslie West.  It was years later that i heard Mississippi Queen, if you know what I mean.

By 1986, America had a decent amount of heavy rock players.  Going back to the Seventies, you had players like Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon and Eddie Van Halen.  By the Eighties you had players like Randy Rhoads, Warren DeMartini and George Lynch join the ranks.

It was hard to come up with any more American guitarists who fit the bill.  At the mention of Randy Rhoads, Schenker nodded enthusiastically, and then shook his head sadly.

If it wasn’t for Randy Rhoads, I wouldn’t have been able to play the way I play.  His dedication and precision on the two Ozzy albums will be forever remembered.

“Blues is the basis of all good guitar playing in this style of music,” Schenker concluded.  The Americans are not as bluesy as the English are.  Clapton, Beck, Page—they’re all influenced by the blues.  English players found the right combination for bringing blues and modern rock together.”

Artists speaking their minds.  If you agree with Rudolf’s point of view or not, one thing is clear, he is not afraid to get it out there.  Maybe it is that famed German arrogance, or maybe it is truth.

I honestly believe that music captured in its purest form is magical.  The  purest form is when music is written without the thoughts of profits in minds.  In the late sixties and early seventies, this is what music was.  It was pure.  It wasn’t tainted by Wall Street, by profit margins and balance sheets.

According to his guitar technician, Vince Flaxington, Rudolf Schenker keeps it simple. The Scorpions’ veteran rhythm player carries six Flying Vs on the road, his favorite of the bunch being a black and white 1964 model that his brother gave him about a year or so ago; he also likes the black and gold model, an ’82 reissue, while the remaining four are strictly backups.  

Schenker is a Flying V fanatic, having forty-odd variations of the instrument at home, about a third of which are original issue models.  Indeed, he doesn’t own anything else. He saw his first V in the hands of Johnny Winter and became an instant convert to its sleek good looks.  The best one he ever had, he said, went with his brother when Michael Schenker left the Scorps.  His guitar tech says every one is stock, Rudolf uses only Gibson pickups and refuses to let anyone alter his beloved Vs.  Not even with Strap-Loks.

Onstage, the guitarist uses three 50-watt Marshall heads that drive six 4 x 12 cabinets.  The Marshalls are “quite old”—a ’67, a 1970, and a 1980, all stock.  The volume is set at 9; the EQ knobs are all full-tilt.  His sole effect is a Vox wah-wah, one of the first made, although Schenker only uses it for about five numbers in the current set.  The cabinets also are stock.  He uses a Nady wireless system. 

“His tone is like broken glass,” Flaxington grinned. “That’s the way he wants it—sharp, clear and raunchy.”

Simply and effective set up.  He is a purest.  He didn’t go searching for that sound the way others did.  He just plugged in and let it rip.

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Music, My Stories

C.C. DeVille – Guitar World September 1989 – Part 1

The below article (which I have re-typed in italics) was written by Brad Tolinski and it appeared in the Guitar World issue of September 1989.  

When Poison colleague Bret Michaels was asked to suggest an appropriate alternative career for the flamboyant C.C. DeVille, he immediately replied: “C.C. is obnoxious, so he’d be a great game show host.”

C.C. DeVille, I remember was the winner of the Worst Guitarist Polls in the Guitar mags back in the late eighties and early nineties.  When guitar playing got exposure via Shrapnell Records,  a new audience niche was born.  I called that niche, the Guitarist Elite.  This new niche hated guitarists like Mick Mars, C.C. DeVille, Scotti Hill, and many others from successful hard rock bands, as they where too sloppy and too safe (always referring to the Pentatonic scale).  The funny thing here is that this same elite revered Ace Frehley, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and other players that also had strong roots with the Pentatonic scale.

GW – Who are your favorite guitar players?
Jimmy Page.  Not because he’s trendy at the moment, but because when I was eighteen I thought he sucked.  I had to mature as a player to really appreciate him.  Youth never understands nuance or phrasing.  I initially hated all the great guitarists. The local players would say, “Dude, listen to this.”  They’d play some Page or Hendrix, but I wasn’t able to comprehend it.  I wanted to hear speed.  When you’re young you approach things from a different perspective.  There’s peer pressure to always burn and your emotional thing isn’t very developed.

I will admit that when i was starting off, I couldn’t get into Hendrix and Page.  Growing up in the Eighties, I loved the hard rock / glam scene.  At that time it was all about Warren DeMartini, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Eddie Van Halen, Mick Mars, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Sykes and David Mustaine (I actually like Megadeth first before i liked Metallica, and that was courtesy of Mega).   I didn’t get into Page and Hendrix until 1993.  That was when the Labels abandoned the eighties scene in favour of grunge.  I took that as a cue to delve deeper into the Seventies.

My next major influence would have to be Jeff Beck.  “Because We Ended As Lovers” off Blow By Blow is the pinnacle of confidence on a guitar.  It’s a brilliant example of the guitar as an emotional medium.

To be honest, C.C. is spot on here.  Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow album was another album that I explored in the nineties.  I remember reading a lot of interviews from Slash, where he talks the world of Jeff Beck.  Then he appears on Blaze Of Glory from Jon Bon Jovi.  Then he was set to appear with Guns N Roses on the song Locomotive, but didn’t because of a cymbal crash sending him partially deaf for a while.   I was interested and i wasn’t disappointed.  Try telling a current Metalcore guitarist that can sweep over eight strings and play a million tapped notes a minute to go and give Jeff Beck a listen.

Jimi Hendrix was amazing because he destroyed all conventional knowledge of what it meant to play guitar.  We all tend to play it safe.  If someone says a song is in A, we immediately jump to a familiar scale in that key.  Hendrix didn’t think that way, he just followed his own vision.  My favorite cut by him is Little Wing.

Again, my nineties “Seventies Boot Camp” began with Jimmy Page.  Hendrix was next.  Clapton was third.  Beck was fourth.  Tommy Bolin was fifth.  Paul Kossoff was sixth.  I was already aware of Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ace Frehley.  They where the big three for me originally.  Now it involves so many other great guitarists/songwriters like Steve Lukather from Toto, Ted Nugent, Neal Schon, Carlos Santana, Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and so many other’s.

I first heard Little Wing when Skid Row covered it.  Then I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version.  I liked the little differences between each.  Nothing can compare to Hendrix’s version.  Even the vocal line is sorrowful.  You can feel the sadness and the hope all rolled into one.

If guitar playing has turned into an athletic event, then Eddie Van Halen is the Olympic champion – he lit the flame.  Speed is a great thing to have when you need it and something I’m always trying hard to develop, but Edward is the master at using it properly.  You’d have to be a fool to deny his influence  on every rock player in this decade.  Eddie saved Rock N Roll.  In 1979 music was starting to head towards synthesizers and skinny ties, and Van Halen came out and made it very chic to play guitar.  He’s still the greatest.  You hear kids saying he’s not good anymore, but they can’t appreciate what a good songwriter he’s turned into.

This is true.  Rock N Roll was always in the scene, buried with the coming of disco and ignored with the movement into new wave.  Van Halen made it cool again to be a rock band.  They had the stiff middle finger raised and we all wanted to be part of that attitude.  They paved the way for the eighties destruction that was too come.

Another major influence was a guy named Lee Pickens who played with a band called Bloodrock in the early Seventies.  He was way ahead of his time.  It was lucky for me that my brother bought their record or I would  have never known about him.  My favorite track was something called Cheater.  One of the greatest solos of all time.

This is what we want as fans.  Musicians telling us their influences.  Cheater was on the second Bloodrock album.  From the 5.10 mark, Lee lets it burn.  Its melodic and its brilliant.  The cowboy style yeahs, just add to the climax.  Its the like the end of the world.  Apocalypse will happen when the song is over.  Check it out.  Just click on Cheater.

As I get older I understand that the guitar is not about showing off, it’s a conduit for emotion.  I’m a stylist, not a size of your penis type player.  Playing guitar is about music, it’s not a contest.

The Nineties made me re-evaluate what it is to be a guitar player.  When i started playing in the mid 80’s my main focus was rhythm.  Then when i picked up the Randy Rhoads Tribute album, my focus initially was on the wonderful RR riffs.  Then i started to delve into the leads.  The Nineties was a time with no bass player.  Due to that I had to adapt the way i write riffs so that i always had a bass note running, so that when we jammed a song, it sounded complete.  So the solo breaks ended up turning into riff driven breakdowns.

 

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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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