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

1982 – Part V – Rising Up To The Challenge Of Our Rival

Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
It’s the third album from Survivor and it sold because of one song.

“Eye Of The Tiger”.

The opening track and the one that broke them around the world.

The song and the “Rocky III” movie that it appears in are one of the same.

The song defines the band. It was a cultural hit.

And it all came about because Queen wouldn’t license “Another One Bites The Dust”. So Stallone asked Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan and keyboardist Jim Peterik to write a song. The song you hear in the movie is the demo version. This is viral marketing done, 1982 style. Have a cool song and put it in a movie series that is part of our culture and you have a bonafide hit. The difference between the 1980’s viral marketing and the current Internet viral marketing is that the artists followed up with other successes.

Anyone heard of PSY recently?

Case closed.

For certifications and awards and high stream counts, “Eye Of The Tiger” has done it all and is doing it all.

Who can forget that palm muted C note to kick off the song, and then the power chords come crashing down.

But what about the rest of the album. Surely there would be other songs worthy of a mention. Of course, “Eye Of The Tiger” kicks the album and it sets a very high standard.

Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

Eternal lyrics, they will forever be engraved into society and culture.

“Feels Like Love” is Journey style AOR rock with the synth more prominent than the guitars. It’s another Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan composition. “The One That Really Matters” is a Jim Peterik composition. That intro is brilliant and groovy, but it doesn’t appear again throughout the song.

“Ever Since the World Began”
It’s another Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan composition but it’s probably more known as a Jimi Jamison song, who joined Survivor in 1984 as a vocalist and recorded his own version for the Stallone film “Lock Up” in 1989.

I’ll never know what brought me here,
As if somebody led my hand,
It seems I hardly had to steer,
My course was planned

Great lyrics.

“American Heartbeat”
It’s another Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan composition. It’s a copy of “Eye Of The Tiger”. The only difference is the synth carries out the tasks of the guitar. And I dig this song and the groove the synths create.

Wheels are turning fast and hard,
Hearts are burnin’ on the Boulevard,
Hear them pound – young and proud,
It’s the American heartbeat,

It’s just about life in the late Seventies and early Eighties when getting a car was a rite of passage. The American part can be changed to Australian, European, Canadian, British, etc… It’s very different today. The latest gadgets have become the new rite of passage and the teens are quite happy to drive the cars of mum and dad.

Unfortunately, the rest of the songs like “Hesitation Dance”, “I’m Not That Man Anymore”, “Children of the Night” and “Silver Girl” are forgettable. Even the other songs mentioned above pale compared to the monolith that is “Eye Of The Tiger”.

And Survivor never got to be as big as a live act as Journey or Bon Jovi, but they did have a song that crossed over and a career that went decades deep in the music and recording industry.

Scorpions – Blackout
The Scorpions are a perfect example of patience. Their whole career was built bit by bit, country by country, continent by continent. By the time they really broke through in the U.S with “Love At First Sting”, it was with their 9th album.

How many bands today stick it out for that long?

Most bands form and if they don’t have instant success, they break up. Some members will leave the industry all together, focussing on jobs that pay a consistent wage, while others would move on to other projects and collaborations.

Blackout is album number 8. It started the momentum in the U.S.

During the writing and recording process, Klaus Meine lost his voice and underwent surgery on his vocal chords. While he was recovering, it was uncertain whether he would be able to record again. Don Dokken was hired to work on the demos.

I ended up getting the full album in the late 90’s, again via the second-hand record shop which had also morphed into a second-hand CD shop.

All music is composed by Rudolf Schenker.

“Blackout” kicks off the album in style. Schenker establishes himself as a guitar hero and riff meister. Lyrics are written by Klaus Meine, Herman Rarebell and Sonja Kittelsen.

My head explodes my ears ring
I can’t remember just where I’ve been
The last thing that I recall
I got lost in a deep black hole

The morning after just a little bit too much of everything.

And then the song ends with glass shattering.

“Can’t Live Without You” sounds like “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” from Judas Priest. Quick, bring out the lawyers and start screaming plagiarism. Klaus Meine wrote lyrics on this one. How addictive is the chorus riff by Schenker?

Can’t live, can’t live without you

A melodic and simple chorus chant. But songs like these get clichéd.

“No One Like You” is the “hit song” of the album. It’s the stop start of the rhythm guitar and that lead break from Herman Rarebell that seal the deal on this song. Klaus Meine wrote lyrics on this one.

There’s no one like you
I can’t wait for the nights with you
I imagine the things we’d do
I just wanna be loved by you

Again, great chorus, but the best songs that live for eternity, have lyrics that are not dated to a particular point in time. “Rat Tailed Jimmy” that antagonist from “Dr Feelgood” is a person that we hear about and read about constantly. “Tommy and Gina”, the working class heroes from Living On A Prayer are everywhere. The “Winds Of Change” from Scorpions, keep blowing constantly and can be used as a reference point for any uprising happening around the world. That boy from Detroit that wanted to escape to the bright lights in “Don’t Stop Believin” is in every one. That drifter that was born to walk alone from “Here I Go Again” is in all of us. And David Coverdale had two attempts at bringing “Here I Go Again” to the masses. The first cut of the song that the word “HOBO” instead of “DRIFTER”.

See what I mean when you have better lyrics.

“You Give Me All I Need” sounded too much like “No One Like You” so it didn’t get the respect it deserved on the album. Herman Rarebell is writing lyrics on this one.

“Now!” is a Led Zep “Rock and Roll” rip off merged with their very own “Blackout”. Klaus Meine and Herman Rarebell are the lyric writers.
It’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be wild
It’s gonna be wild
Now!

The vocal melody to the above lyrics are just too much like Led Zep’s “Rock and Roll”. But still, I like it.

Side two kicks off with “Dynamite”. Meine and Rarebell are the lyric writers on this one. By far the best song on the album. The intro and chorus, the music feels like “Ace Of Spades” from Motorhead to me and in the verses it feels like “Let There Be Rock” from AC/DC.

When Keith Olsen was working with the Scorpions on Crazy World, he mentioned that the lyrics from Klaus were very dumb downed and stupid and they didn’t do the songs any justice. So he called in songwriters like Jim Vallance and Desmond Child in to assist.

Dynamite is one of those songs that musically it is excellent. The vocal melodies are excellent, but the words that form those melodies needed more thought.

Kick your ass to heaven
With rock’n’roll tonight

It starts off fantastic and the song could have been about the rock and roll show being an analogy of dynamite going off. But then it gets silly.

I’ll make this night a special one
Make you feel alright
Shoot my heat into your body
Give ya all my size
I’m gonna beat the beat tonight
It’s time to break the ice

See what I mean at the lyrics not doing the song any favours.

“Arizona” is “No One Like You” part 3. A cool song, but lost on the album because of “No One Like You”. Herman Rarebell is the lyrics writer.

“China White” has Klaus Meine is the lyric writer. But it’s the music and the groove that get me. My second favourite on the album. “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” from Dio follows this kind of groove. Stuff like this is never going to make the radio, but it’s the kind of music I play that satisfies, that makes me want to see the band live.

Now, I don’t know how a title that is a reference for heroin can be linked to a song that lyrically talks about humans destroying the world with wars and calling for tolerance and peace.

How long will it take
To make the world a flaming star
How long will it take
Till they stop their senseless wars
How long will it take
Till everybody will understand
That we need to fill our hearts with love again

How long will it take
To make the earth a fireball
How long will it take
Till no more life exists at all
How long will it take
Till everybody will understand
That we need to fill our hearts with love again

See what I mean. The song just should have been called “How Long Will It Take?”

“When the Smoke Is Going Down” has Klaus Meine is the lyric writer. Musically, Three Doors Down had a hit called “Kryptonite” using the same chord progression, two decades later.

Aldo Nova
Like Survivor and their mega hit “Eye Of The Tiger”, Aldo Nova was another that came and went with “Fantasy”.

Whereas Survivor kept on going and had a few more defining moments, Aldo Nova never had another hit again, even when Jon Bon Jovi signed him to his own Jambco label and wrote/produced a stiff/formulaic album as a payback for Aldo Nova writing the main guitar riff in “Blaze Of Glory” that he is not credited for, sort of like how Sting takes all the money for “Every Breath You Take” when in fact it’s the way Andy Summers arranged his guitar parts that hooked everyone in.

“Fantasy” is Aldo’s debut single from his self-titled debut and the song that classed Aldo Nova as a one hit wonder. Upon release it was a hit, going Gold within the same year. But it wasn’t until 1989 that it went platinum and by 1994 it was double platinum.

The guitars to kick it off and the synth in the verses are brilliant.

Is the song about cocaine?

Outta sight, buy your kicks from the man in the white
Feels alright, powder pleasure in your nose tonight

Lyrics make me think it is.

“Hot Love” is excellent musically, but terrible, lyrically. “Ball and Chain” and “Heart to Heart” are really good AOR rock songs. Musically, Nova is brilliant but the lyrics do let a lot of the songs down.

Love, Love feels like a ball and chain
What a fool I’ve been to fall in love again

And “Heart To Heart” follows the same theme from “Ball And Chain”.

And he weeps, for a love that he has lost
And the man left a love

Side two continues the tradition of having melodic rock music and “Foolin’ Yourself” continues with the “Ball and Chain” and “Heart to Heart” themes.

I saw you walk down the street with somebody new
It’s funny people I meet they talk about me and you

“Under the Gun” is the B-side to “Fantasy” and by now the lyrical themes of a love lost and thoughts of revenge are getting too much.

Cause the girl that he loved went away and ran off with another man
But he followed them both and he shot at the throat, couldn’t stop his hand.

And “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” is again good musically, but the lyrical message of a lost love by know is just too much. Bring back the cocaine tinged “Fantasy” anytime.

Stay tuned for 1982 – Part 6.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Headed For A Heartbreak

Blame Beavis and Butthead. Blame Grunge. The truth is a bit more complex.

Winger was good. Real good, however the band suffered the same unjust fate as all the other Eighties bands. Billy Squire made one ridiculous video with a pink top. A pink top that was recommended by a plethora of enablers, including record label execs. And just like that an amazing voice, with a catalog of songs was gone.

Winger had Kip Winger. A Playgirl pictorial was too outlandish and as glam music was committing suicide by cloning itself over and over again and despite Kip being a great musician, Beavis and Butthead came along and trashed the band. Metallica threw darts at Kip Winger while they recorded the “Black” album.

“Headed For A Heartbreak” is a hell of a good song. On the “Official Winger” YouTube channel the song has 1,506,304 views. On the “80’s Metal Videos” channel it has 347,590 views. On another channel, a live version that appeared on MTV has 245,624 views. On Spotify the song has 173,229 streams.

The song is written by Kip Winger, however it is the performances from the band that captured the imagination and connected on all levels. “Madalaine” was the first single and it failed to get traction. The the track “Seventeen” came out and interest in the band started to grow and while it softened all the hard heads to Winger, it was “Headed For A Heartbreak” that sealed the deal commercially. This business model worked well during this time. Who knew that in 5 years time the band would be headed for a heartbreak.

MTV was king of the airwaves and most people owned little music. The CD’s remained expensive so people only purchased with they really loved or saw as great. Then we would go to the show to hear the songs. Now we only have time for the best. When an album is released we can cherry pick what we like and in a lot of cases it isn’t the single that the record label decided to go with.

People are quick to blame piracy for all the issues currently happening in the music business however the truth is that the audience has outgrown the album format. Why should that outdated format work for us, especially when we can go on YouTube or Spotify to get the hit song we desire.

The audience is king today. Not the artist, not the songwriter, not the record label or the producer. That is why the cycle is so fast. Albums come and by three to four weeks they are gone. Except the real good ones. In the eighties, the big effort was marketing and getting people to buy the record. Today it is all about getting people to listen to the music over and over again.

Winger’s debut didn’t come from out of nowhere. Kip Winger did his time as a songwriter and studio session musician working very closely with Beau Hill who would of course go on to produce the first two Winger albums that went platinum. It is during those studio sessions that he came across Reb Beach. It was still going to be another 4 years before the self titled Winger album was released.

So Winger did time with Alice Cooper’s band, recording and writing two albums. Then in 1987, he left to form Sahara which would go on to become Winger after Alice Copper suggested it.

Guitarist Reb Beach is a graduate from the esteemed Berklee College of Music. He also did his time in backing bands and studio work, until he met up with Kip Winger and started writing demos.

Drummer Rod Morgenstein was the most experienced. Active since joining jazz fusion legends “The Dixie Dregs” in 1974, he was a very accomplished drummer to bring into the fold.

Keyboard player and back up guitarist Paul Taylor was the x factor. He was the touring keyboardist for Aldo Nova during his “Fantasy” success. He did his time with Alice Cooper’s backing band at the same time with Kip Winger and played on the “Constrictor” and “Raise Your Fist and Yell” albums.

Winger like Night Ranger was a pseudo super group of musicians that connected on all levels and it’s important to mention this point to all the wannabe musicians out there.

Another important point to mention is that the songs that made up the debut album were written during a 3 year period by musicians that had experience and that had lived. I rate Winger the same as White Lion, however Winger did have a better all star team, whereas White Lion had Vito Bratta and to some extent Mike Tramp.

Winger is a band that has the songs that you can play forever. In a world that is suffering from information overload, Winger produced a body of work that we can all continue to listen to. Go on Spotify and check them out. Go on YouTube and check them out. Focus on the music and not on the pretty boy images put out there in the video clips.

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