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

The Record Vault: The Black Crowes – Amorica

The band is unchanged. Chris Robinson is on vocals and harmonica, Rich Robinson and Marc Ford are on guitar, Johnny Colt is on bass guitar, Steve Gorman is on drums and Eddie Harsch is on keyboards.

Released in 1994, “Amorica” took a while to come to fruition. It wasn’t a hazy 8 day recording session like “The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion”.

You see, in 1993, the band worked on an album called “Tall”. But the recordings got scrapped because Chris and Rich Robinson didn’t see eye to eye during the sessions. Rich felt that Chris alienated him from the rest of the band. Chris reckons that Rich was upset because he was leading the sessions and was rejecting his riffs and ideas.

Well, Rich ended up winning the argument and the “Amorica” album is the result of moving forward with the ideas of Rich and not Chris.

And man, the cover caused a stir in even in the more progressive 90’s.

Who would have thought that a picture which was deemed offensive in 1976 when it appeared on a cover of Hustler was still seen as offensive almost 20 years later?

Well in Australia, we didn’t really see anything wrong with it so we got the cover as intended, while the U.S got two covers.

Gone

It sounds like they had a few drinks, wrote some riffs and then jammed em. It’s complicated blues, as there is so much going on but it didn’t set my world on fire.

A Conspiracy

They tried to recreate the groove and infectious melody of “Remedy” with this. While they didn’t get close, they still got a very rocking song out of it.

High Head Blues

A sleazy soul blues rock riff starts it off. It’s almost funky and I like it. One of the best songs on the album.

Cursed Diamond

A piano like slow rhythm and blues tune, very Rolling Stones like and the solo section gets all aggressive and swampy.

Nonfiction

An acoustic track with a vocal that sounds like 70’s Rod Stewart. But it’s a skip for me.

She Gave Good Sunflower

Chris is asking a babe to do him and the track could be interchanged with any song from the previous albums.

Press play to hear some nice wah wah soloing from Marc Ford over a thundering Johnny Colt bass riff. And stick around to hear the outro soloing as well.

P. 25 London

A throwaway track.

Ballad in Urgency

Another ballad, with some unique blues/jazz like chords, nicely phrased guitar fills and Johnny Colt’s bass thundering in the background.

The song then fades into a piano section along with Mr Colt’s bass.

Wiser Time

Steve Gorman brings it here, showcasing that even though the Robinson brothers write the songs, the performances of the band members are just as important. This one is also a favourite.

Rich Robinson plays some tasty slide and he also duets on lead vocals.

And each section has so much variation. The verses are based on a three chord “Sweet Home Alabama” like chord progression. The Chorus is classic blues rock.

But.

It’s the later sections which takes the track and makes it a signature song.

It’s not for the crossover fans who just liked “Remedy” and nothing else.

This is for the hard core fans. It starts off with a swampy Delta bluesy acoustic slide solo, which is followed by an electric piano solo, very Doors like.

This then gives way to an electric guitar solo, very B.B. King like with a bit more grit and it all crashes in to a Lynyrd Skynyrd soaring lead, full of harmonized guitars.

After five minutes and thirty seconds, the only thing you can do is press repeat.

Downtown Money Waster

Old time blues with a ragtime piano and acoustic slide guitar.

Descending

Another favourite and another five plus minute ballad-esque song, which starts off with a piano riff. And when the band kicks in, it gets the head moving and the foot tapping. If it doesn’t, feel for a pulse.

Chris Robinson is on fire vocally and Mr Colt’s bass is thumping throughout, synced up to the bass drum of Gorman’s.

The track closes with a ramped up piano solo over another thundering bass riff from Mr Colt.

The album did good business in Australia again, charting at 11 which they also replicated in the U.S and a Gold Certification.

But it took the record buying public by surprise because it didn’t really have that “accessible” song that people could latch on to. The debut album had “Hard To Handle” and the follow up had “Remedy”. But this one had some deep cuts and some fan favourites.

Crank it.

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Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1976 – Part 4.4: Grand Funk Railroad – Born To Die

The name “Grand Funk” and “Grand Funk Railroad” started to appear in interviews with guitarists via the Guitar mags circa 1988 to 1992, as bands started to incorporate more blues rock into their music. Then I purchased an encyclopaedia called “The Rolling Stones Encyclopaedia of Rock and Roll” and they are listed.

But I had never heard their music and it was only a few years ago that I started to listen via Spotify.

“Born to Die” is the 10th studio album, released in January 1976.

Released on Capitol Records and produced by Jimmy Ienner.

Ienner was briefly considered for the role of producer on the “Destroyer” album because he was the producer of one of Paul Stanley’s favourite bands, the Raspberries who had broken big on the backs of an Ienner produced album. While Ienner lost out to Bob Ezrin for the “Destroyer” gig, he did a job with Kiss, as Executive Producer on “Double Platinum”.

The band for the album was Mark Farner on Guitar/Vocals, Craig Frost on Keyboards, Mel Schacher on Bass, Don Brewer on Drums/Vocals, Jimmy Hall on Saxophone/Harmonica and Donna Hall on Background Vocals.

Born To Die

What a track with the feel of the song “Bad Company”, written by Mark Farner in memory of his cousin who died in a motorcycle accident.

The Hammond Organ has this tremolo style effect which makes it sound menacing. The bass playing grooves and the vocals are multi-layered in the Chorus.

Lived his life of freedom, exactly the way that he wanted to.
But there’s always that one thing, we never do count on.
You was born for it to happen to you …

Dues

Written by Don Brewer and Mark Farner. As soon as the syncopated bass and bass drum start off the song, I was interested.

I tried religion and some holy roller steals my tenth

Press play to hear the music played under the melody of “can we ever stop paying dues?”

And then the lead break kicks in and I’m playing air guitar to it. And they keep soloing until it fades out.

Sally

It’s the sugar gum commercial pop song for the album written by Mark Farner for his then love interest, the actress/singer Sally Kellerman.

But it’s a skip for me.

I Fell For Your Love

Written by Don Brewer and Craig Frost and there is too much soul and not enough rock.

Talk To The People

Written by Mark Farner and Craig Frost.

I’m not a fan of the music or the melodies.

But there is a great solo to end.

Take Me

Written by Don Brewer and Craig Frost.

Take me and make me feel your music..

And there is some great soloing .

Genevieve

I expected this to be a ballad, but I got an instrumental of fusion of jazz, funk and rock. And I like it.

Love Is Dyin’

Written by Don Brewer.

It’s got this “All Along The Watchtower” vibe, the Hendrix version vibe, not Dylan.

Politician

Written by Mark Farner.

Mr. Politician please don’t deceive us.
Mr. Politician you’re there to relieve us.
Just how can we tell, mister,
When to believe in you.

I guess some things never change.

Press Play to hear the solo break and the bass playing under it.

Good Things

It’s a slow Blues Rocker that starts off like a Bad Company cut, but once the intro lead melody kicks in, it feels like a Jeff Beck cut.

Written by Mark Farner there is plenty of guitar soloing happening.

The album just broke the Top 50 on the Billboard charts and was seen as a disappointment.

It’s not held in high regard by the hard core fans.

It was the last Capitol Records album they did so maybe the title was prophetic in a way.

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

The Record Vault: Arc Angels

In August 1990, Blues Rock Guitar Hero, Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. His Double Trouble rhythm section of Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums) were devastated and with SRV’s death, out of a gig.

They dealt with the pain by jamming. They called in guitar prodigy Charlie Sexton and another guitarist in Doyle Bramhall ll. Bramhall’s father, Doyle Bramhall, Sr. is also steeped in the blues, playing drums for Lightnin’ Hopkins and Freddie King. And Bramhall, Sr. also collaborated on songs with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan, who he knew since childhood.

The jam sessions took place at the Austin Rehearsal Complex. This is how the “Arc” in the band name is derived.

I heard “Living In A Dream” on Letterman and I thought it was Badlands via the sound, but the look definitely wasn’t Jake E Lee and Ray Gillen (RIP). But I couldn’t get their album, even though it was on Geffen Records. I suppose the year of 1992 didn’t help either.

“Arc Angels” is the self-titled debut album released in 1992.

Production is handled by Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul.

Living In A Dream

What an opening cut, with a feel of “When The Levee Breaks” and just think of “Stormbringer” played in a blues based way.

It’s written by Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton. They both share vocal duties and they put their guitar skills on display, riff wise and lead wise.

‘Cause there’s nothing wrong here
I’m just living, living in a dream

And sometimes we don’t want to escape that dream.

Paradise Café

Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K, this song reminds me of the Roadhouse movie. You can imagine the band playing the song behind a Perspex cage to protect them from glass bottles.

Well now everything is rosy
And the money’s so well spent
This kind of education
Is worth every cent
When your momma pays the tuition
And your daddy pays the rent
You could learn a lot in college
Although you never went

Sometimes the silver spoon is not enough to satisfy.

Sent by Angels

Written by Doyle Bramhall II.

I like the Bad Company vibe on this. Black Crowes also comes to mind.

Sweet Nadine

Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.

The acoustic guitar riff reminds me of “Little Suzi” from Tesla. Even the titles are similar. The drum beat is more surf rock and Iggy Pop like than Blues Rock.

Sweet Nadine
That ain’t her real name
But you know what I mean

I suppose every artist has a “Sweet Nadine” somewhere.

Good Time

Written Doyle Bramhall II and Sammy Piazza, it’s got this Stevie Wonder “Superstition” funk rock happening, with a bit of “Play That Funky Music White Boy”.

I was hangin’ out with some friends of mine
Down in Hollywood just a-wastin’ time
I knew right then nobody could get me down
‘Cause I’m takin’ myself out on the town
We’re gonna have a good time

See What Tomorrow Brings

Written by Doyle Bramhall II and as soon as the opening arpeggio chords started I was interested.

At 6 minutes long, it’s hard to explain the song, a mixture of “Little Wing”, “Free Bird” and “With A Little Help From My Friends”, the Joe Cocker version. And when slow blues ballads are done right, they leave their presence with you. This song does just that.

Wait just long enough
See what tomorrow brings

What a great line. Patience is hard to attain, because its original meaning is “to suffer”. So to ask someone to “wait” is to ask them to be “patient”.

Always Believed in You

Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K. the cut could be interchanged with songs on a John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams or Don Henley album.

I was born back in the sixties
I was born and raised to win
We had beaten, beaten back the darkness
But somehow the darkness slipped back in

Truth right there. People thought that we had broken through the injustice and prejudice however people just doubled down into their echo chambers, percolating until they exploded again.

The Famous Jane

Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.

It’s a mid-tempo rocker about heroin.

She was probably born in Hollywood in the era of the King
She hitchhiked Highway 61 and got elected Queen
She ended up on Bleeker Street down in the underground
And then somebody there called her sweet, and the story got around

The lyrics more or less sum up its possible introduction into Hollywood.

Spanish Moon

Written by Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton and Chris Layton. This is a great song with a similar riff and groove to “Living In A Dream”.

Everybody’s looking for a little bit of love
Not a lot of love being given

No one wants to be alone, but people associate companionship with love. But if love doesn’t happen, having a circle of friends to talk with, laugh with and go out with, is every bit good enough.

Carry Me On

Written by Doyle Bramhall II who brings out the Southern Classic Rock.

Shape I’m In

They bring out the Chuck Berry “Johnny Be Goode” feel on this cut, written by Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton and Marc Benno.

I tried so hard to get back in the race
I’d just be satisfied if I could place
There’s so much competition but the best don’t always win
I’m doing pretty good for the shape I’m in

Be you and don’t let the rat race dictate to you who you should be.

Too Many Ways to Fall

Written by Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.

This is another of those percolating blues rock tunes.

‘Cause there’s just one way that we can stand
Too many ways to fall

Truth right there.

The outro reminds me of what Pearl Jam would do.

The band didn’t last long. Geffen jumped into bed with Seattle, Bramhall’s heroin addiction was out of control and by 1993, the band broke up.

But we have this album.

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

1986 – Part 4.6: The Rolling Stones – Dirty Work

I liked the 80’s Stones. They were like a pseudo melodic rock band. But Keith Richards hated it.

You see, Mick Jagger had just released his first solo album, “She’s the Boss” in 1985 and Richards saw this as a betrayal. Richards believed that Jagger’s first priority should be the Rolling Stones and not to pursue a career as a pop star.

“Dirty Work” was released on 24 March 1986. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, he didn’t have an easy job to do as he had to call in various other musicians to get the album done. It was also rare that all the band was in the studio at once.

The band for the album is listed as Mick Jagger on vocals, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on all things guitars, Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums.

But.

Jagger was often absent from the sessions while Richards recorded with Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.

Jagger added his parts after.

And Charlie Watts was addicted to heroin and alcohol so Steve Jordan and Anton Fig played drums on some tracks (uncredited) and Ronnie Wood on others.

One Hit (To The Body)

It’s that “Rockin In The Free World” vibe in the verses that hooks me.

The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood and Jimmy Page also plays on it. The best song on the album.

Fight

This is old Stones, with 80’s production and I like it. The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood.

Harlem Shuffle

This sounds like Mick and Keith turned up to a Blues whiskey bar and started jamming with the house band and I like it.

You can feel the soul and blues drip off every note and every melody. It’s a cover from Bob & Earl, written by Bob Relf and Ernest Nelson.

Hold Back

This Jagger and Richards cut feels like a mess.

The only thing that isn’t a mess is the metronomic drumming from Sir Watts (RIP). Then again I don’t know if it was him or the other uncredited drummers.

Too Rude

It feels like a track from the “Cocktail” movie or a Beach Boys track.

It’s also a cover from Half Pint, a Jamaican Reggae artist who released the song (called “Winsome”) on his 1984 album. Lead vocals are handled by Richards on this and drums are played by Ronnie Wood.

It’s also a skip.

Winning Ugly

It’s a Jagger and Richards composition. Musically, it’s got a bass riff which is like a 12 bar blues, but the soul feels like a soul rock track.

Back To Zero

It’s a funk rock tune, written by Jagger, Richards and Chuck Leavell who was a member of The Allman Brothers during their 70’s heyday. A bit different, but by this stage, the album is more filler than killer.

Dirty Work

The tempo is increased and the band is rocking out of the gate. The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood.

Had It With You

A 12 bar blues track, bringing back their 60’s output into the 80’s. Aerosmith is another band that would write tracks like this in the 80’s and well into the 90’s. The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood.

Sleep Tonight

A ballad written by Jagger and Richards, which feels like a jam at a Roadhouse Bar late at night when everyone has had too many drinks. Lead vocals are handled by Richards on this and drums are played by Ronnie Wood.

In the end, the first three tracks set the bar high, the title track joins them and the rest of the tracks are there as filler.

And because of the animosity between members, there was no supporting tour for this album. Jagger would later say that it was Watts’ personal state as one of the reasons he vetoed a tour but Richards reckons it was vetoed so that Jagger could start working on his second solo album, “Primitive Cool”. The way Richards saw it, they toured in worse states previously.

The critics panned it, however the album sold well.

In Australia it was a number 2 album, going Platinum on the backs of the singles.

It was a Top 10 album in Austria, Canada, Holland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K and the U.S.

It was also certified Platinum in Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. It was certified Gold in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen. If you’ve heard it, give it a re-listen.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Deep Purple – Stormbringer

“Stormbringer” came out about 9 months after “Burn”. In the space of a year, Deep Purple were busy writing and recording frequently.

What a novel idea.

Try and tell that to a lot of acts, who want to record an album every three to five years. And the usual argument of ‘no money from recordings’ doesn’t work, because even back in the 70’s, the acts were getting ripped off on the sales part. So they had to tour to make coin. Then again it was normal in the 70’s to release an album a year. It was expected.

The album cover also has a story, about a tornado in a U.S town during the 1920s which was photographed and added to the Copyright free archives, which allowed the image to be used.

And the same photograph was used for Miles Davis’ album “Bitches Brew” in 1970.

And Siouxsie and the Banshees’ album “Tinderbox” in 1986.

MK3 Deep Purple is Ritchie Blackmore on Guitars, David Coverdale on Vocals (except “Holy Man”), Glenn Hughes on Bass and Vocals (except “Soldier of Fortune”), Jon Lord on Organ and Keys and Ian Paice on Drums.

Its Produced by Deep Purple and Martin Birch again.

Stormbringer

Another thunderous opener written by Blackmore and Coverdale.

If there wasn’t a Heavy Metal movement before, well there was one now. By 1974, each major rock act like Led Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company and Black Sabbath had a heavy song or two on each album that young blue collared youths would take and run with to create even heavier tracks.

I like the exotic flavouring in the solo. It’s not fast, but goddamn, it sounds progressive.

Love Don’t Mean A Thing

Written by Blackmore, Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord and Ian Paice.

This is the whole funk blues soul jam that Glenn Hughes brings. In saying that, the riffs here work so well within the Deep Purple sound.

Holy Man

The Bad Company/Free brand of hard rock had caught on and suddenly Deep Purple was doing a cut that wouldn’t be out of place on the first two Bad Company albums or Free albums.

If the intro sounds familiar, it should, as it’s a common progression used throughtout the 70s, but it went missing a bit in the 80s and came back in the 90s.

I recall Motley Crue using it for “Misunderstood”.

And Blackmore was not the main writer anymore as this song was written by Coverdale, Hughes and Lord.

Hold On

The funk blues rock in the verses grooves and the Chorus is like Soul Rock Music. Blackmore again is missing from the song writing credits, with Coverdale, Hughes, Lord and Paice listed as the writers.

Coverdale and Hughes share vocal duties here and Blackmore brings out his rockabilly Chuck Berry licks which gives way to a Jon Lord solo.

Lady Double Dealer

It’s that fast blues rock that Deep Purple was known for and something that David Coverdale would do a fair bit with the early versions of Whitesnake.

There is a cool Blackmore solo as well.

You Can’t Do It Right

Play that funky blues music white boys.

High Ball Shooter

I like the Intro as it always reminds me of another song which I can’t thing off right now.

The Gypsy

The riffs on this are metal like, but the way Blackmore delivers em, it’s almost progressive like, with a fusion of blues, southern rock and metal like grooves.

Soldier Of Fortune

A great acoustic ballad to end the album, something which David Coverdale would recreate with “Sailing Ships”.

The long jam sessions from the past had disappeared. Replaced with a more structured song arrangement. It’s a bridge between this album and their next album.

Blackmore obviously didn’t like this new direction and left after the tour. And he wasn’t one to keep his thoughts to himself, so he publicly declared his dislike for the funky direction the band was taking and made it clear that was the reason why he left.

But Scandinavian Melodic Rock and Metal was being born with the MK3 albums as they did big business in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Austria and Germany also liked this era, along with the UK, France and the U.S.

Check it out.

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Music

Teaser

Teaser

I first heard Teaser when Motley Crue covered it for the Stairway to Heaven/Highway To Hell  compilation album for the Moscow Peace Festival.  This was back in 1989, and I saw the writer was a T.Bolin.  Pre Internet era, meant I had to go to the record shop (which in my case was Rings Music World) and ask them if they have anything on T.Bolin?

The lady knew me well  as I was a chronic asker of music that she never had in stock and she knew very well, that she was going to spend time looking through massive folders from different distributers.

Lo and behold, she told me that she can import it in and it was going to cost $40 to get it in on LP.  I said import in.  Think about that for a second.  I spent $40 on an album that I only one song on it.  That is the power of music and the need to have that one song.  And it was the last song on Side A.  It was written by Tommy Bolin and Jeff Cook who was in the band American Standard and Energy  with Bolin in the late sixties.

The first thing that grabs you is that funky sleazy riff and the wolf whistle slide guitar.

That woman’s got a smile
Puts you in a trance
And just one look at her
Makes you wanna dance
Those dark and those red ruby lips
Only a fool would pass them by
With just a hint of ruthlessness
Sparklin’ in her eye

After hearing that first verse I was reminded how similar Bon Jovi got to it with You Give Love A Bad Name.   And then the chorus comes in.

She’s a teaser and she’s got no heart at all
She’s a teaser and she’ll tempt you ’till you fall.
Yeah she’ll tempt ya ’till ya fall.

Who hasn’t come across a woman like that?

She sips gin from a teacup, wears those fancy clothes
And somebody always knows her no matter where she goes
She’ll talk to you in riddles that have no sense or rhyme
And if you ask her what she means, says she don’t got no time

The second verse reminds me of T-Rex’s Get It On,

Well you’re dirty and sweet
Clad in black, don’t look back and I love you
You’re dirty and sweet, oh yeah
Well you dance when you walk
So let’s dance, take a chance, understand me
You’re dirty sweet and you’re my girl

Then the solo breakdown section kicks in where it’s just the bass and drums simulating an excited heartbeat at the beginning and it moves into a free form jazz fusion lead break.  Jeff Porcaro from Steely Dan and Toto fame played drums and Stanley Sheldon from Peter Frampton’s band played bass.

As I listened to the album over and over again, I found other gems in the instrumental Homeward Strut, with its James Gang Funk inspired verses and its unbelievable harmony lick that acts as a Chorus.

The piano ballad Dreamer with Glen Hughes singing the last verse (even though he is uncredited) and piano played by David Foster, the same David Foster that would go on to produce and compose songs for Whitney Houston, Michael Buble and many others.

You have the blues funk of Savannah Woman with Phil Collins even providing percussion.

Side 2 doesn’t have the same impact as Side 1.  People People is lacklustre, while Marching Powder is a jazz fusion instrumental, reminiscent of Return to Forever. Wild Dogs is so so, but the closer Lotus makes up for it with its fusion of hard rock, blues, jazz, funk  and synth orientated pop.

Similar in structure to Teaser, it has that unbelievable breakdown solo section, which closes the album.

In 1975, he released Teaser and Come Taste the Band with Deep Purple, and in 1976 he released Private Eyes in September.  By December he was dead.  His music forever lives.

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