Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Be Influenced. It’s Okay.

Screw all the heirs of dead artists and their lawyers who believe that the music their ancestors created was so original and free from influence. Here is a quick list that I compiled off the top of my head from some large songs and all the artists they borrowed from or got influenced from had successful careers without a plagiarism court case.

Metallica – Fade to Black (1984)
A fan made music video on YouTube has 32,538,942 views, while a fan posted mp3 has 44,032,321 views. In other words it’s a monster of a song. But where did this monster come from.

The intro is influenced by the intro in Pink Floyd – “Goodbye Blue Sky” from 1979. The start of the outro when James is singing is influenced by the intro from Black Sabbath – “A National Acrobat” from 1973. And the song still sounds original.

Poison – Unskinny Bop (1991)
The song has over 7 million streams on Spotify.

The guitar riff is influenced by the intro guitar riff in Billy Squier – “Powerhouse” from 1986. The bass lines are very similar to the bass line from 45 seconds onwards in Great White – “Mista Bone” from 1989. Then again, that running bass line is pretty common in most songs. You hear it in “Disturb The Priest” from Black Gillian’s album “Born Again”. And the song still sounds original.

Gotye – Somebody I Used To Know (2011)
Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” has close to 400 million streams on Spotify. It’s popular and catchy and it borrowed heavily from other songs. The music and vocal melodies are from the verse riff in Billy Squier – “Reach For The Sky” from 1984 and the verse riff from The Police – “King Of Pain” from 1983. And the Gotye song still sounds original.

Motley Crue – SEX (2012)
Motley Crue’s “SEX” borrowed its main riff from “Evie” (1974) by Stevie Wright (which has 1,037,491 streams on Spotify). “Evie” is also similar to “Mississippi Woman” by Mountain (almost 23,000,000 streams on Spotify), which is also similar to “Sweeter Than Honey” by Jefferson Starship (1975) and “Train” by 3 Doors Down borrows from all of them.

And all of the songs still sound unique and original, regardless of the obvious influences.

Bullet For My Valentine – “Waking The Demon” (2008)
“Waking The Demon” borrowed its main intro riff from the intro/verse riff in Slayer’s “Spirit In Black” released in 1990 on the “Seasons In the Abyss” album.

On Bullets Vevo account, “Waking The Demon” has 48 million views, while “Spirit In Black” has 96,000 views on a fan YouTube account and 462,000 views on another fan YouTube account. Be influenced and make it better.

One Song To Inspire Them All
That goes to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. For a band that used the music of other artists to build a career, they ended up creating a definitive song that a lot of other bands would use as a template to build their career on.

  •  Kingdom Come – “Get In On” verse riff is similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Megadeth – “In My Darkest Hour” verse riff is similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Whitesnake – “Judgement Day” verse riff similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Coheed and Cambria – “Welcome Home” verse riff similar to Led Zeppelin Kashmir.

A live version of Kashmir on the Led Zeppelin YouTube account has 28 million views and an mp3 on a fan YouTube account has 19 million views.

And yet all of the above mentioned songs still sound unique. If you delve into the origins of each song, you will see some influences or borrowing from other songs and the cycle just keeps on going. So here’s a big “up yours” to the all of those people who scream plagiarism in music.

Click the link to listen to the Progress Is Derivative 1 playlist.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Death, Money, Consistency and Originality

DEATH

AJ Pero died a few days ago. That iconic drum beat at the start of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that was him. A.J Pero wasn’t the pretty boy in the band that is for sure. He was the street dog that could groove. Dee Snider might have grabbed all the fame but that doesn’t mean that A.J Pero wasn’t a star. If he didn’t roll, the Twisted machine didn’t rock. And man he was a perfect fit for Adrenaline Mob as well.

Remember that it is tough being in the music business. A.J Pero from what I know didn’t write not one song however he had a career that spanned 40 plus years. It’s because he didn’t get into music for the riches and the fame. He got into music because he loved it and he kept that love going for his whole career. He even died while on tour.

RIP.

And the piece d’resistance A.J. Pero song for me is “The Fire Still Burns” from the “Come Out And Play”.

MONEY

I really enjoyed Revolution Saints and when I looked at the song writing credits, it’s all Alessandro Del Vecchio. There is not ONE Doug Aldrich credit. Maybe the money incentive to do Revolution Saints from Sergio Perufino was too good compared to what Whitesnake had on offer.

Speaking of money, everyone reckons Metallica is losing it. Maybe its true and maybe it’s not. But what I do know is that in every business as soon as you forget about the tasks that bring in the bread and butter, two things begin to happen. Stagnation and bankruptcy. Leave the festivals to the promoters and leave the movies to Hollywood. Metallica’s bread and butter is music and it has been now 7 years since we had any new tunes from them.

Continuing with the money topic, the recording industry wants to rip apart Spotify’s freemium model.

Which is typical?

Instead of working with Spotify to make the premium option super enticing that fans of music feel the need to purchase a subscription, they want to make the premium option the freemium option and place restrictions on the freemium option. What’s even worse, studies are coming out showing that the spending on streaming music is outperforming CD sales. And in countries that adopted streaming much earlier than the U.S and Australia, streaming is even outperforming digital sales.

I had this debate with others. A lot of people would be happy to pay an annual subscription amount to listen to music of their favourite artists, provided that they KNOW that the money would be divided among those artists and not others.

This is typical of the recording business, trying to be paid multiple times for the same product. That is why all of the record labels had class action suits brought against them from artists. The label is applying the same vinyl math to digital music and the artists don’t like it.

CONSISTENCY

Getting people to pay attention just once is not enough. The ones that have a music career have done it over again and again and again. Quiet Riot got me hooked with “Metal Health” and then disappointed the fans with “Condition Critical”. Then they disappointed the fans even more with the one after “Condition Critical”. So guess what happened to them. They started a steep downhill slide.

Meanwhile, Motley Crue hooked people in with “Too Fast For Love” and then blew them away with “Shout At The Devil”.  Then, even though they kept on making albums, they became a video/singles band, with “Smokin In The Boys Room”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side” making decent inroads into our head spaces. There was still enough consistency there, that when “Dr Feelgood” came out, it blew us away.

Metallica was the same. “Kill Em All” was different and energetic however it was a tribute album to the NWOBHM. “Ride The Lightning” kept that energy and started to make it technical. “Master Of Puppets” refined the “Ride The Lightning” format and then “And Justice For All” took it to a whole new progressive technical thrash level. Then the paradigm shift happened and groove was back in with the self-titled “Black” album.

Currently, bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are showing that they are no one album/hit wonders. Machine Head was a bit inconsistent after “Burn My Eyes”, but since “Through The Ashes of Empires” they have been on song and in the process, Robb Flynn re-established the Machine Head brand.

ORIGINALITY

I am a great believer that original music is a sum of the creator’s influences. That craziness over a stupid Marvin Gaye song and his greedy heirs has reinforced my views.

For the last time YOU CANT COPY A FEEL OF THE SONG.

In other words, all music is derivative. The aim is to make it sound fresh. Look at the biggest albums or biggest songs of any bands career and you will hear similarities to other works.

Metallica’s piece d’resistance album amongst fans is “Master Of Puppets”.

We all know that “Welcome Home” is an amalgamation of songs from an obscure NWOBHM band and Rush. The format/flow of the album is based on “Ride The Lightning”. The songs are also constructed in the same way. Even their biggest selling album led off with a riff that was taken from another obscure skate punk metal band albeit this one being from California instead of England.

“The Unforgiven” had the same chords in the Chorus as the “Fade To Black” verses. “One” had an intro that was taken from “Fade To Black” and “Fade To Black” had an intro taken from “Goodbye Blue Sky” from Pink Floyd. And it goes on and on.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Technique x (Emotion + Feel) = Angel Of Mercy from Black Label Society

I just finished doing some hard late nights and early mornings watching the FIFA World Cup tournament for the last four weeks.

As a football youth coach, it was great to see a positive attacking mindset employed by the teams. And football coaching is getting better all the time as the modern-day managers and their coaches try to find a balance between technique and understanding the game. I have seen coaches spend a lot of time on technique that the players train in isolation for such long periods that they get lost when it comes to a game.

The problem is that too much focus on technique takes away time spent on the deeper aspects of the game. Players might be great at performing drills. But without understanding how the game is played, they can’t use their technique effectively. Sure, they can take on a player and beat them with incredible technique however soccer is a team game. While Brazil has Neymar and Argentina has Messi and Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany has a team. And it was that team that won the FIFA World Cup.

Musicians are no different. There are millions of guitarists out there that have unbelievable technique. But how many of them are great songwriters. Because we all know someone with an amazing voice or great guitar talent. And maybe they should have made or could have made it. But they didn’t make it. Because the best and the brightest don’t make it the top on technical abilities alone. Music is a game and it needs to be played like one.

I just finished watching a YouTube view of Kelly Valleau playing an acoustic cover of “Fade To Black” from Metallica. The technique exhibited at pulling off the arrangement involved him combining the rhythms with the vocal lines and the lead breaks. It’s first class. All up the video has had 463,658 views on Youtube. Has anyone else heard of this phenomenal guitar player.

And the thing is, “Fade To Black” was written and arranged by James Hetfield who is the anti-hero of a technical player however his style of fast palm-muted down-picking ushered in a new style of rhythm playing. Look at any Metallica story out there and you will see that James more or less learned/mastered his craft in a band environment instead of spending countless days performing drills on his own. That’s not to say that if you woodshed you will not get far.

A favourite of mine is Zakk Wylde and he woodshedded from the age of fourteen, amassing an amazing technique. And no one can say that Zakk hasn’t created or being involved in creating some memorable songs. Just listen to “Angel Of Mercy” from the “Catacombs” album and you will see what I mean. It demonstrates unbelievable technique in the solo section while the verses and the chorus show the emotive side.

Hell, listen to his whole career and you will see what I mean. Same goes for a lot of other guitarists.

Great music must contain emotion. That is why “Angel Of Mercy” connected with me. It hits me emotionally and it makes me feel something. All the great songs do? And because I care for the song, I can’t stop sharing it and talking about it with people who want to listen. And when music is done right, it sells itself.

I am a great believer that technical abilities are a good tool to have in your arsenal as a musician, however it should be just one tool of many tools that are employed in the creation of your latest masterpiece. Don’t lose focus that a song has many moving parts and the vocal melodies along with the actual lyrics go a long way to making that connection with the audience as much as the riff.

Like the new Judas Priest album “Redeemer Of Souls”. A lot of the songs have some great musical moments and some cool riffs however the vocal melodies just missed the mark on the majority of the songs. “Halls Of Valhalla”, “Sword of Damocies”, “Secrets Of The Dead”, “Battle Cry” and “Beginning Of The End” are the exception, especially “Battle Cry”. And most of these songs are part of the deluxe edition.

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