Music

Cry For Freedom

White Lion had the balls to tackle the subject of apartheid when all the other bands in 1989 didn’t. That was a long time ago. 1989. The Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Blues Rock, Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal movements where all riding high, at the peak of their mainstream successes.

It is unfortunate that the Eighties degenerated into a state of generic and clichéd derivative lyrical themes and subjects involving sex, partying and drugs.

When bands branched away from that, it was very hit and miss.

White Lion fell into that crowd of misses as the label “Atlantic” would still push the pop metal or pop rock edge of the band. The tours and marketing had White Lion sandwiched amongst bands like Motley Crue, Skid Row, Kiss, Whitesnake, Alice Cooper, Blue Murder and Badlands.

Of course, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Kiss, Alice Copper all had big wins in 1989. Whitesnake released a great album however it didn’t get traction. Call it karma for David Coverdale killing off the promotion on the John Sykes, Blue Murder album.

Actually, Blue Murder and Badlands released timeless and serious albums that in 2013 are seen as cult albums.

Music culture was built by artists taking a stand on a subject. The history of rock and metal is littered with bands that made big statements.

It’s the guitar sound. The way it swells and hallucinates with each shifting chord change. You cant help but be drawn in.

“The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free”

Growing up in democracy it was hard to fathom how people could be suppressed and denied rights for such a long time. South Africa was never in the news in Australia. It was like a decision was made from the powers that be that South Africa will not be reported at all costs.

Despite the song having a thread of hope, there is still desperation and the idea that freedom was still far away.

“So stand up and cry for freedom
And keep the dream alive”

“Cry For Freedom” is the kind of track that can be played when any uprising to oppression happens. It could have been played during the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Syrian Civil War. It never loses its power.

“Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed i face my fellow man”

“The children are taken away
And families destroyed
And millions have died from starvation
We can’t go on this way”

And the way it ends, it just makes you want to play it all over again.

Credit Michael Wagener, who produced it and still captured a sound that was rock enough to satisfy the rock community. In the end it makes the track connected to the rest of the album.

The “Cry For Freedom” video has 730,603 views on the 80s Classic Metal channel.

White Lion really tried hard to depart from the rock clichés however the public at that time didn’t want to be reminded about the world. All we wanted back then was to let our hair down and escape from the working week.

Vito Bratta mentioned in his 2007 Eddie Trunk interview that the songs from “Big Game” didn’t really work in a live setting, especially in a rowdy hard rock setting.

It was a concert at the Wembley Arena on Wednesday 01 November 1989 that decided the fate of the album and the rest of the tour.

Mötley Crüe where the headliners with White Lion and Skid Row supporting.

Sandwiched between a wild and energetic Skid Row and a newly sober but still dangerous Motley Crüe, White Lion didn’t have a chance.

Skid Row sang about belonging (“Youth Gone Wild”), sex (“Big Guns”, “Sweet Little Sister”, “Rattlesnake Shake”), street violence (“Piece Of Me”, “18 & Life”) and relationships (“Can’t Stand The Heartache”, “I Remember You”).

White Lion sang about Greenpeace (“Little Fighter”), broken homes (“Broken Home”), organized religion (“If My Mind Is Evil”) apartheid (“Cry For Freedom”), broken romances (“Wait”), sex (“Dirty Woman”, “Hungry”), life on the road (“Radar Love”, “Goin Home Tonight”), a mystic healer (“Lady Of The Valley) and the state of the world (“When The Children Cry”).

All important subjects however the majority of the rock crowd didn’t want to hear heavy themes in 1989 from a rock band. Those kind of heavy themes were coming from thrash metal bands. With the death of Nelson Mandela, this song is back in my life.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Gremlin Day, Generic Metal & Protest The Hero’s “Underbite”

You ever had a gremlin day. I have. You know one of those days when conventional wisdom falls over. One of those days when things that always worked ceased working the same as they always have for no real reason.

It makes you question everything. It makes you feel paranoid and you start to believe that everything you have done up until that point is rubbish.

From my perspective, I work in IT and I have been working on a project since August. We implemented successfully over the weekend, however on Thursday before the weekend implementation I questioned everything and I was about to pull the plug on it.

This is what normally begins to happen when you spend so much time on the one piece of work. This is why Top 40 sounds so bland and processed. Using I.T. speak “the Top 40 has been tested to death.”

The songs go through so many rewrites it’s not funny. That is why you have as many names as “The Last Supper” listed as songwriters of the generic and lifeless Top 40.

However Heavy Metal and Hard Rock music is generally written “in-house”, meaning that most of the material is written within the band. So why are we getting a similar generic output as the Top 40. Why are we getting lifeless and soulless songs that mean nothing and say nothing and to be honest if I heard them live I would probably yawn. The artists that created something great always lived on the edges, merging various influences and styles. However, when one artist sees another artist strike a pot of gold, they follow suit, believing that the same pot of gold would come to them if they replicated what the other artist did.

For example, every band wanted to be like Bon Jovi in 1987 and by 1988 every band wanted to be like Guns N Roses and by 1989 every band wanted to be sober like Motley Crue and by 1991 every band wanted to be Metallica and by 1992 every band started to incorporate grunge influences.

I started thinking about the above, after listening to the song “Underbite” from Protest The Hero and after watching the hilarious puppet clip. The Protest The Hero channel is showing that the clip has had 112,436 views. Not bad for a fan funded band that was told by their record label that are washed up.

Underbite means the projection of the lower teeth beyond the upper teeth. Protest The Hero have taken that term and twisted it up to include the rock n roll show. They are focusing on the generic mediocrity of artists who go out there and fake it. They are focusing on artists and labels that couldn’t care less about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists and labels that care about maintaining the status quo and the profits that came with that.

Jon Bon Jovi is one such artist that comes to mind. Eventually the shows sell out on this tour however for the first time ever, Bon Jovi concert tickets got the reduced treatment on Living Social and other web outlets. If he tours again next year and charges the same high prices, he will be in for a shock.

The Rolling Stones is another.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same marketplace again and again since 2008’s “Saints Of Los Angeles” and with each re-iteration they are getting less and less to the show.

Metallica needs new music to come out. It has been a 5 year victory lap for Death Magnetic and with 2014 approaching, that will make it 6 years.

Black Sabbath is another. Watching Ozzy sing live was a joke and he had the balls to say in interviews that Bill Ward couldn’t perform live because he was old, overweight and he had to use post it notes to remember his drum tracks. Well Ozzy is old, out of key and he never strayed too far from the prompts as he struggled to remember the lyrics.

The song Underbite also focuses on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It has lyrics like “An understanding between you and I that the ground that you stand on is somehow less than mine” and “Now you comprehend our complex relationship—consumer/consumed, You’re just some stupid kid and I’m a megalomaniac.”

The part in the film clip where the fan goes to purchase the merchandise is so spot on. I could relate as it happens to me all the time.

First, the merchandise stand rarely has the size that a person wants. Good luck to all the ones that rush in and get it early and bad luck to the fans who get their later or the fans who just want to purchase merchandise later.

Then the prices are ridiculous. So as the clip shows, you end up forking out a decent amount of cash for a band t-shirt that doesn’t fit or is too large.

I really like the lyrics about “You’re disgracing your effort by conforming to textbook performance of music to fill in the gaps.” This is about going through the same motions and the same dialogue and the same songs day in and day out.

“Let’s not repackage the same old performance, Original content is so much more rewarding.”

While I love Twisted Sister, I don’t agree with the viewpoints put out by them, that there is no need for them to create new music. Dee Snider has mentioned that there is no motivation to write any new songs while Jay Jay French and Mark Mendoza have talked about giving the fans what they want in the live show and how if a new song is played these days from the classic rock bands, the fans see it as a toilet break. While each performance is unique due to Dee Snider’s banter, the songs however don’t stray too far from the first three albums era.

How many times can Iron Maiden revisit their past and repackage past tours as current ones. “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” and “Maiden England” are two that come to mind in the last 4 years. While the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour broke box office records, the “Maiden England” tour not so much.

Their show at the San Manuel Amphitheater, Devore, California on September 13, Iron Maiden got 27,000 fans in a venue that fits 41,000. Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Sabaton also appeared on the bill. Of course 27,000 is a massive attendance however the venue is just over 50% full. Iron Maiden needs new content and great content at that.

Listen to the song. There are some hard truths in there and Protest The Hero try to cover them all.

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