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

1983 – Episode 8 – A Mixed Bag

We keep marching forward and what seemed important once upon a time may be irrelevant tomorrow.

My physical music collection (LP, Cassettes, VHS videos, magazines and CD’s) seemed important once upon a time.

In one of the houses I lived in, I even had my physical music collection locked in a room, in the middle of the house, that was alarmed. That’s how important my physical music collection was. Actually I still have my physical in a place that’s pretty secure. But those physical copies just don’t hold the same value as they once did. Those feelings and opinions I had about holding a physical copy got totally ignored by the future. I still love music, but it’s all about access for me. Even back when I started buying music, I never woke up in the morning and said to myself I need to go out and buy some music. I always said, I want to hear, this song or that song.

In 2017, I can look back at 1983 and sort of loosely trace what the world would become with the internet. Back then, the magazines and the TV music channels started to push us to listen/watch to what was the “hit” of the day. A lot of music consumers forgot about the album and started to take in the popular. This led to many consumers missing out on what was important or useful.

Because if the aim was to write pop songs, the writer normally dumbs it down and leaves out the “message” of the song. It’s an exchange that needs to be made for attention. But if every music fan looks into their music catalogues, they will see the soundtrack of their life is not made up of the Chart Hits. As the saying goes, popularity doesn’t mean it’s the best, it just means it’s popular.

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is popular today and known as one of the best-selling Ozzy albums on par with “No More Tears”. The truth is “No More Tears” sold more quickly while “Blizzard Of Ozz” percolated and kept on breaking through to a new audience for two reasons. New fans of Ozzy went to check out his back catalogue and new guitar players went to check out the influential albums of Randy Rhoads.

Anyway, here is part 8 of my 1983 historical review and here is the Spotify playlist for it.

The previous parts can be found by clicking on the number. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The Revölution By Night – Blue Öyster Cult

There is a saying that the most common way to deal with the future is to try to predict it. The techies have morphed this saying to be, “The most common way to deal with the future is to invent a small part that’s big enough to make a difference”.  And I believe Blue Oyster Cult was trying to do just that with “The Revolution By Night”. To me, the album is a new wave/hard rock mash-up and it works for a few songs and not for others.  If only other bands got creative and experimental and innovative. But then again, being experimental doesn’t always lead to dollars and dollars is what the record labels are after.

Bruce Fairbairn is on hand to produce, before his massive “Slippery When Wet” success.

Take Me Away

It has a cool groove, a new wave rock riff that just works for me, cool vocal melodies and a pretty progressive solo middle section. But it has no attention from listeners. It’s co-written by Eric Bloom with Aldo Nova.

Strange shapes light up the night
Never seen them though I hope I might
Don’t ask if they are real
The men in black, their lips are sealed

It’s way before the “Men In Black” movies.

I turn my hopes up to the sky
I’d like to know before I die
Memories will slowly fade
I lift my eyes and say
Come on, take me away

Umm, I don’t think many of us did say to the sky for it to take us away.

Eyes On Fire

It kicks off like a piano jamming and then it goes to melodic rock AOR heaven. It’s got all the check boxes ticked for a bonafide hit, but it wasn’t to be. It’s written by Gregg Winter who is from Long Island and contributed several songs to one of Blooms side project. “Eyes of Fire” was written for that project and when it ended, it became a Blue Oyster Cult song.

But she don’t look at me
With eyes on fire
Glowing like coals in the night
Hungry eyes
Burning with love and desire

Un-requited love.

The album is always referred to “the album didn’t do go Gold in the U.S after the success of the previous two albums.” And sales equalled success once upon a time. No wonder people at the top are struggling to comprehend listens = success.

The Hurting – Tears For Fears

I got this album in 90’s and again via the second-hand record/book shop.

“Pale Shelter” stuck out straight away and “Memories Fade” (with that drum/bass groove) was a close second. The main singles like “Suffer The Children”, “Mad World” and “Change” didn’t really connect and still don’t.

Pale Shelter

It’s basically a rock track recorded as a new wave pop song.

And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I wanna be is
Completely in command

So true. There is always someone who wants to be in charge of the relationship.

You don’t give me love

God damn love. We are in it, we are out of it, we seek it, we find it and the cycle repeats until our time comes to check out of life.

Memories Fade

That bass/drum groove is played throughout the song and it’s progressively addictive.

There’s only need
I love your need
So much I’m losing me

Relationships are like this. One partner’s light sometimes gets lost in another partner’s light. And they do it willingly, without really knowing it’s happening. So when it all goes to hell, what’s left.

Engulfed by you
What can I do?
When history’s my cage
Look forward to a future in the past

We all look back into the past and see it in a different light today. Like it was better. Do we really want to go back to an era without the internet, only three TV stations and all the rest that goes with the era.

Mercyful Fate – Melissa

Isn’t it funny how Mercyful Fate ended up on the Filthy list in the U.S and lead vocalist King Diamond had no idea he or his band was on the list. Goes to show the Filthy 15 list had a zilcho effect on the artists involved.

Evil

The “Evil” intro reminds me of “The Four Horseman” intro and then other sections of the song remind me of Metallica. Did Lars have a demo copy of an EP that had this song?

I was born on the cemetery
Under the sign of the moon
Raised from my grave by the dead
I was made a mercenary
In the legions of Hell
Now I’m king of pain, I’m insane

It’s structured like a blues verse and it tells a story like a blues song. The words form a visual in the mind.

You know my only pleasure
Is to hear you cry
I’d love to hear you cry
I’d love to feel you die

I never took lines these seriously. It’s art. It’s no different to a graphic painting or a horror movie. You can look at it, appreciate it or be disgusted by it. Lyrics are the same.

Love the musical section from 2.48 to 3.32 along with the vocal melody. And that lead break fits the song to a tee. It includes Thin Lizzy style harmonies that segues into an UFO inspired blues rock lead.

Curse Of The Pharaohs

The “Curse Of The Pharaohs” intro reminds of the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro, which reminds me of “The Power And The Glory” intro from Saxon, which reminds me of two Ted Nugent songs called “Out Of Control” and “Stranglehold”, which reminds me of “Welcome To Hell” from Venom, which reminds me of “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue, which reminds me of “Young Girls” from Dokken, which reminds me of “Tell The World” from Ratt. I guess you can’t keep a good riff down.

All that’s needed is a person who didn’t create anything to own the rights of one of those songs and start suing all the others for plagiarism.

Away out in Egypt in the valley of kings
Where the mummified pharaohs
Pretend dead in their sleep

Again, the scene is set with story-telling lyrics.

Don’t touch, never ever steal
Unless you’re in for the kill
Or you’ll be hit by the curse of the pharaohs

The long-held belief that anyone who disturbed the tombs of the pharaohs ends up dead.

Into The Coven

The intro is baroque to a tee. Then the riff comes in as the drums build it up and once the whole band is in, the music and the groove of the song makes me want to snap my desk in half.

Howl like a wolf
And a witch will open the door
Follow me and meet our high priestess
Come, come into my coven
And become Lucifer’s child

You can see why Mercyful Fate was on the Filthy list. Even though the band only had a limited audience in the U.S at the time, the lyrics in this song went against the Bible belters beliefs. Suddenly, challenged by artists preaching for the fallen one, the Bible belters built up a coalition of Senators to fight this evil.

Undress until you’re naked
And put on this white coat
Take this white cross and go to the middle of the ring

Again, art is art. How many movies have people watched with a scene like the above and not cared much about it?

The harmony lead break was used by Metallica as inspiration for another lead break.

Melissa

“Melissa” has a great intro. You can hear where Metallica got the idea for an intro lead in “Fade To Black” over the Pink Floyd inspired riff. Influences and homages lead to new little creations, which will become future influences. And I’ll pre-empt that other artists had lead breaks over an arpeggio riff before Mercyful Fate, but those artists weren’t a large influence to early Metallica in the way Mercyful Fate was/is.

The section from about 2.40 to 3.20, you can say the section influenced “Aerials” from SOAD. It’s that good that it appears again from about the 5.30 mark to the end.

So Melissa was a witch, killed by a priest and her followers are seeking revenge. Again, storytelling at its simplest and finest.

Genesis – Genesis

Phil Collins solo success was the prequel/catalyst for the pop stardom to befall Genesis.

Mama

It’s a great song as it builds consistently over a synthed out electronic drum machine loop until it merges with a real drum groove in the “We Will Rock You” style vibe merged with Phil Collins solo hit “In The Air Tonight”. And Phil Collins is on fire vocally. I also believe that the “Mama” he refers to is not his real Mama, sort of like how Mama is a nickname for Sharon Osbourne, so when Ozzy sing’s “Mama I’m Coming Home”, he’s really saying, Sharon, I’m coming home.

That’s All

It’s got a feel good pop hook.

Truth is I love you
More than I wanted to
There’s no point in trying to pretend

I read on one of Seth Godin’s post that truth is real, it’s measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. So can “how much you love someone” ever be truth? To me it is not measurable, so it can’t be real truth, which means its truth in the eye of the beholder. It’s truth based on a belief. Sort of like how, if you believe that the music you are listening too is great, then it’s true. It’s a placebo and it works. I believe in nurture over nature. I believe that no one is born with gifts or is a prodigy. I believe that with the right practice, all of us can achieve greatness. And our beliefs give us joy. And it’s enough to make us do amazing things. But it’s not truth.

Men at Work – Cargo

Coming off their mega hit, “Down Under”, Men At Work delivered a social conscience album in “Cargo”.

Overkill

It’s the standout track, with a sleazy saxophone lead.

I can’t get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications
Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know will be all right
Perhaps it’s just imagination

Laying in bed and unable to sleep leads to anxiety because our brains are so good at turning smoke into fires.

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away

Over thinking things.

220 Volt – 220 Volt

220 Volt formed in 1982 and of course are from Sweden. CBS signed them on the strength of their own independent single release and by 1983 their self-titled debut hit the streets.  This album is a great hard rock listen musically. It’s melodic and hard/heavy enough to satisfy the metal heads. It wasn’t as popular as other releases of the era however it doesn’t mean it isn’t quality.

Lonely Nights

I’ve tried so many times
To reach you by the phone
But your line is always busy
And I can’t get through

The song starts off with a platonic love relationship and due to constantly being ignored it ends up hateful.

How true are the verse lines above?

In the days when households had just one phone and service was far from perfect, the busy dial tone was a common thing.

No Return

The main riff is familiar and I am sure I have heard something similar in bands that came afterwards. The feel of this song reminds me of the John Sykes “Spellbound” era of Tygers of Pang Tang.

You broke my heart
When I needed you most
But you just turned and walked away
I thought that we
Could work out together
But you didn’t even wanna try

Once it’s broken, it’s broken. Move on, even if it hurts like hell.

Running around
I’m so restless, don’t know what to do

You suddenly have time and don’t know what to do with it.

The End Of The World

I swear Malmsteen would have had to be influenced by this band. The main riff in this song is similar to a lot of the songs on Malmsteen’s first three solo albums.

Think of these days
That we are living
And try to find out
What’s right or wrong
Your highest dream
Is peace everywhere
But there’s no chance
For that at all

Even in 1983, artists questioned the world they lived in. The every elusive “peace” is what everyone wants. But how can that be when our brains are designed to be negative in order to survive.

‘Cause the world is full of evil
And there’s nothing we can do

Yes the world is made to believe evil exists. Religion thrives on it and for democracy to survive, it needs an enemy. In my time, war has been a constant. When I did history at school, we studied the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the two World Wars.

From the 80’s, off the top of my head, we’ve had the Iran-Iraq war, Falklands War, Lebanon War, invasion of Grenada, Invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Rwandan Civil War, Balkan Wars (Slovenia, Croatian and Bosnia), Algerian Civil War, Somali Civil War, Georgian Civil War, Chechen War, Afghanistan Civil War and Iraq War after 9/11. Add to the list, all of the uprisings, revolutions and even drug wars. Guess the world is full of evil.

Gypsy Queen

It’s a good listen about boy finding girl who then finds out the girl he found can look into her crystal ball and see the future.

Nightwinds

The time we had
Was the happiest part of my life
But you’re not gone
There will always be a light in my heart

He’s not ready to let go of the relationship.

Child Of The Night

Child of the night
You’re looking so lonely
Why did you ever leave home

A lot of people left school early and left home early, trying to find their place in life. Some did and others didn’t.

Stop and Look Back

You fight so hard
You wanna be a superstar
Dreamin’ daydreams of your own
You won’t be pleased
Until you reach the top
You won’t give up, never stop
Never stop

What is the top when it comes to being a superstar? Some would say Metallica reached the top with the “Black” album. I would say yes to that for recorded sales, however from a live point of view, they are getting bigger and bigger. You would think the 5 year “Death Magnetic” World tour would be the top, but their show and tour looks bigger.

You’re ready now
To meet the big success
You worked so hard for many years
Let’s hope that you
Can stand the pressure
So your dream will come true
Will come true

Once people taste success, they try to recreate it, forgetting that their success originally came from being creative and not re-creative.

Woman In White

Musically, it’s impressive. Melodically it’s impressive. Lyrically, it’s not impressive about a woman in white who steals the light and guarantees satisfaction.

Marc Jordan – A Hole in the Wall

While the whole album is too light for my liking, “A Hole In The Wall” is a good crossover melodic rock song, similar to the Jersey Jovi sound that would appear on the debut in a years time.

Robert Plant – The Principle Of Moments

Basically, the stand out tracks for me on this disc, are the ones that continue in the vein of what Plant did with Led Zep. The other more drum machine stuff and new age synth rock doesn’t work for me.

Other Arms

One of the better ones written by Plant and Robert Blunt.

Lay down your arms
Oh, now baby let me sleep at night

Is Robert Plant saying shut the fuck up and let me sleep?

Words you been using, hurting me so
Someday you’re gonna regret
Way friends are talking, I guess you’ll never know
This battle ain’t been won yet

Interpretation of words is a relationship killer. How many apologies are started with the words “I didn’t mean to say”?

Fussing and fighting is leaving me sad
That’s not the way it should be

We argue over the rubbish, the toilet seat, the cleanliness of the house, what people said, why people said what they said, how come people didn’t say what they should have said or why you didn’t stand up for them. And then kids come along and the same arguments exist with a few new ones.

Wreckless Love

It’s basically a Led Zep track with reference to Page’isms’ throughout the whole song, but for me, it’s the groove and feel of the verses. It’s progressive and exotic and cool. Basically, it’s “an unsafe” style of verse for a musical world moving into an MTV world. It’s also written by Page and Blunt.

Dance through the coloured razzamatazz
Spin alone desert affairs
Reckless love is creeping on you

As usual Plant is cryptic as ever in his lyrics. I got no idea what razzamatazz, desert affairs and a creeping reckless love have to do with each other, but somehow, Plant makes it work.

Horizontal Departure

It’s got the “Kashmir” riff in the verse. You know the riff I’m talking about. The one that moves up chromatically. Then in the verses, it feels like The Police and the solo break is like Dire Straits and “Sultans of Swing”.

And you said you’d never leave me
In fact you said you’d be my only one
I said you’d never grieve me baby
For things done when you are only having fun, fun.

It’s hard to keep a relationship going when you spend a lot of time away.

I don’t know, so you turned around and found another

And by the end of song, they had gone their separate ways.

Big Log

One of the better ones and even though it’s got a drum machine, the guitar lines and the bass playing set up a moody song that would make Chris Issak proud. Plant as usual delivers a stellar vocal.

My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride as the cities fly by
And the taillights dissolve in the coming of night
And the questions, in thousands, take flight

A very un-clichéd look at life on the road.

1983 was a year that kicked off a lot of careers, however it also resurrected a lot of 70’s careers. And MTV was the airplane that accomplished it. While others complained about the gatekeepers, the unfairness, others who played the game got on board and reaped the rewards.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Piracy

2013 Metal and Rock Releases. Are they Derivative, Evolutionary, Original or Clones?

Artists need to think about their music as a product. In the end we (the fans) are all suckers for good products. Give us a good product and we will reciprocate.

So I am listening to the new Protest The Hero album, “Volition”. What a product it is! For the record, I was one of those fans that contributed to the Indiegogo campaign so you can say that my views are biased.

And what about this for a piece of PR? As soon as they were made aware of a few leaks hitting the internet in bad quality, Protest The Hero hastily arranged a download site for their Indiegogo contributors, sent an email to everyone about it with instructions on how to get their unique download pin and away we went, downloading the album.

The best way to fight piracy is to communicate with your fan base. They are your only concern. In relation to people downloading the album some will come to a show and some will download it and hate it.

So what was my immediate thought on the new album?

Original and evolutionary. This is Protest The Hero continuing on from what they have created in the past by adding a few more bells and whistles. The decision to go the fan funded route was just the beginning. During the recording process they lost a drummer and got an even better drummer in Chris Adler. They then got some friends to build some IT support to store all the data of the fans that contributed via Indiegogo.

So to sum up, Protest The Hero were able to record, mix, master and produce an album without having any record label support and without the need of a record label advance that they would have had to pay back AND they are still able to use the record labels to distribute the standard release worldwide.

Going back to the drumming, what a brilliant job from Chris Adler? It’s inspiring in the sense of “I Want To Break Stuff” inspiring. It just feels very metal like.

While Dream Theater and Korn get a lot of ink in the press, it is bands like Protest The Hero, Machine Head and Digital Summer that are stealing the thunder by reaching out to their fans, connecting and doing it the new way. They are cutting out everyone that gets in the way of them and their fans. It is a band to fan connection. It is a fan to band connection.

On a side note, when I listen to new music from bands, I normally place the music in the following categories;

1. Progress is derivative (to others this is the stolen or copied bucket).

2. Evolutionary (this is bands building on their past a little bit each time. It is the iterative approach)

3. Original (this is something that is so divergent or out there that it hasn’t been done before)

4. Maintenance (this is where the band delivers the same album over and over again)

So looking at my top 20 list of music so far from 2013, in which categories do they fall in.

Progress Is Derivative
Avenged Sevenfold with the “Hail To The King” album.

“Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and “Kingmaker” from Megadeth also fit into this category.

Evolutionary

This list has quite a few releases in it.

Protest The Hero leads the way with “Volition”. It builds on all of their previous efforts.

“Vengeance Falls” from Trivium is also an evolutionary album, building on the shorter song structure from “In Waves” with better melodies and technical precise riffage.

The concept album from Black Veil Brides falls into the evolutionary bucket for me. While the overall musical themes of the album are still rooted in the previous releases, there was enough growth to show a band evolving.

Mutiny Within hit the evolutionary path with the release of “Synchronicity” which shows the band moving further away from the metalcore stigma that Roadrunner put on them.

30 Seconds To Mars went all world music on “Love Lust Faith Dreams” which is again an evolution of “This Is War.” My wife loves this album.

Audrey Horne released “Youngblood” which is a further evolution from their previous album, moving more into a blues rock/metal vibe.

The next two albums are debut albums and the reason why I saw them as evolutionary is that the evolve from the sounds of Korn and Genesis/Pink Floyd.

Brian Welch’s solo project, Love and Death released the excellent “Between Here and The Lost” which is an evolution of what Korn was doing prior to Head’s departure. If i had to pick between Korn’s new one and Love and Death, my vote goes to Love and Death.

Sound Of Contact released a sci-fi concept album with “Dimensionaut” that captures the eerie spirit of sci-fi soundtracks merged with Pink Floyd/Genesis and Marillion prog.

Original

I see Volbeat as an original band.

With “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” they merge country with their metal/rockabilly style. This album could have fitted in the evolutionary bucket as well, however in my opinion there is another of a blend of different music styles to class it as another original release.

I just finished reading a post on the Classic Rock Magazine website with Michael Poulsen, the lead singer from Volbeat. In that interview, he states that artists cant make any more money from record sales and that selling records doesn’t put food on the table anymore.

This is strange coming from a band that shifted 300,000 units in the U.S with their previous album. So if you do the math 300,000 at $10 a CD comes to $3MIL gross earnings on the CD. The current album is sitting at about 130,000 units in the U.S so far. So if Volbeat are not getting any money from the sales of recorded music, they should be speaking to their label about re-negotiating their deal.

TesseracT’s “Altered State” to me is a great piece of work. It isn’t just a bunch of songs put together and called an album. This is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish, with high quality headphones. There is so much happening that each listen is a new experience. It’s original to me.

Maintenance

All of these releases are good releases showcasing what the band does best. In a lot of cases, bands produce their greatest album by doing this and in some cases bands produce a few forgettable albums as well.

Coheed and Cambria – “The Afterman –  Descension”

Dream Theater – “Dream Theater”

Bullet For My Valentine – “Temper Temper”

Stone Sour – “House Of Gold And Bones Part 2”

Alter Bridge – “Fortress”

Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”

Five Finger Death Punch – “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1”

Pretty Maids – “Motherland”

Buckcherry – “Confessions”

An artist and their music can move up or down in these categories throughout their careers.

The lessons here are that bands don’t have to be ground breaking original to be successful. They just need a well thought out approach that is executed well.

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Music

What made Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet Explode?

What made Slippery When Wet explode?

A lot of people credit Bruce Fairbairn for it.  Others credit the influence of Desmond Child, while others would credit the sound engineering and mix by Bob Rock.  Others put it down to Jon and Richie finally finding their niche as songwriters and finally others put it down to the Pizza Parlour Jury.   Could it have been the labels release schedule and marketing plan?  Could it have been that the scene needed a shake up and this album was right time, right place?

First let’s put into context where the band was at in 1985.  They had just finished a nine-month world tour for 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit.  The band was in debt to the record label for a couple of million bucks.  The guys where living at their mom and dad’s, and wrote most of the songs for Slippery When Wet in Richie’s mom’s basement. 

There is a common myth that once a band is signed, they are showered with untold riches and that they have money coming out of their arse.  That is so far from the truth.   Bon Jovi where in debt and they were lucky that the label gave them a third chance.

From the 90’s onwards, labels didn’t give bands three chances.  One chance was all they had.  If they failed they will get someone else.   These days the labels are irrelevant.  They need to compete on a playing field where the rules change at the same rate technology changes and to be honest, they are so out of touch, it’s almost laughable watching them trying to hold on to the old way of doing things. 

Let’s start with Bruce Fairbairn.  Before he started doing Slippery he was coming off a multi-platinum run of releases with Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite, plus a Gold release with Krokus.   According to Paul Dean from Loverboy, Bruce is super organized.  He charts everything out and every song is broken into parts. 

Slippery would go on to multi – multi platinum sales and New Jersey (also produced by Bruce would do the same).  From Slippery, Bruce would move on to Aerosmith.  Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get A Grip all went multi – multi platinum.  He resurrected AC/DC’s career with the 5x platinum The Razors Edge after a steady decline in sales after Back In Black.  It is safe to say that Bruce had a certain knack for getting the best out of the artists he produced.  His track record is envious to say the least.

Then you have Desmond Child.  

Jon and Richie wanted to write with another song writer, so that other people can perform the songs.  Jon heard Tina Turner singing a song that Bryan Adams had written and wanted to do the same.  That is how Desmond Child came on the scene.  However the plan got skewed, as the songs that came out of those sessions where that good, that it was decided they will be kept for Jovi instead.

The first song Jon and Richie wrote with Desmond in Richie’s mother’s basement was “The Edge Of A Broken Heart”.  The second song they wrote was “You Give Love A Bad Name” by referencing a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler called If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man).  The melodies and chord progressions are very similar.

He used the story of his 70’s girlfriend, Maria Vidal who used to work a diner and was called Gina, for Livin On A Prayer.  In interviews, Richie has stated that Jon didn’t want the song on the album, while Richie was trying to convince him it was the best song they had.

I’d Die For You and Without Love where two other songs penned by Jon, Richie and Desmond.  I’d Die For You even has a cult status as a fan favourite.  Desmond brought the pop side to Bon Jovi’s form of hard rock, glam metal overtones. 

The engineer and mixer Bob Rock 

Jon heard Honeymoon Suite’s The Big Prize (another Bruce and Bob production) and that sealed the deal for Bon Jovi to also seek out Bob Rock.

The Pizza Parlour Jury

When Jon and Riche were making the demos in New Jersey, they would go across the street to the pizza parlour. They would ask a bunch of kids to hear some stuff.   As Richie puts it, “It was like a marketing test .  They came in and said, “Yeah, we like this one. This one gets through and that one doesn’t.”

They sure needed it as they wrote a truck load of songs.  Apart from the 10 songs that ended up on the album, other songs that never made it include;

Never Enough For You, Borderline, Edge Of A Broken Heart, Heat Of The Night, Give My Heart, Lonely Is The Night, Too Much Too Soon, Game Of The Heart, Deep Cuts The Night, Stand Up, Walk Don’t Run, Out of Bounds, There Is No Answer, Promise, Take Me All.

Bouncing songs off different independent ears that are not related to the band, helped Bon Jovi focus on the songs that where stronger.

Polygram Records

Doc McGhee the Bon Jovi manager at the time has stated that putting out a record at the right time is very important.  He further mentioned that the label looked at what other labels where releasing and picked a window where there was nothing really there competing against it.

August was the month that was selected and competing against Slippery When Wet where other August releases from Motorhead – Orgasmatron, Vinnie Vincent – Invasion, Warlock – True As Steel and Great White – Shot In The Dark. 

If it was released in July, it would have been up against DLR’s – Eat Em and Smile for listeners’ attention.   If it was released in June, it would have had to compete against Queen – A Kind of Magic, Genesis – Invisible Touch, Rod Stewart – Every Beat of My Heart, Madonna – True Blue and Cinderella – Night Songs.  If it was released in May as originally intended, it would have been up against AC/DC – Who Made Who, Journey – Raised on Radio and Europe – The Final Countdown. 

The Album

Let It Rock kicks it off Side 1.

The weekend comes to this town
Seven days too soon
For the ones who have to make up
What we break up of their rules

This song is written purely for the concert experience.  That is foresight in itself.  Apart from delivering a good album of songs, Jon and Richie are mindful of how they will go down live.  The song is about rebellion, getting that fist pumping in the air, just to let your hair down on the weekend.  Much like Loverboy’s Working for The Weekend.  But in this case the rock is a fire that is burning out of control.  Another analogy to melting rock temperatures (7800 degrees Fahrenheit).  It’s funny where Let It Rock has that keyboard intro, Lay Your Hands On Me from New Jersey, is almost identical riff wise to Let It Rock and it has that long drum intro.  It must be a Bruce thing, as even Turn Me Loose had a long keyboard intro.  A good start by the Jon and Richie song writing team.

“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darling you give love a bad name.”  The iconic a capella chorus.  Then the band kicks in and Richie does his vocal melody lead until they start the strip bar sleazy verse riff.

I remember when I saw the clip, I was glued to my TV screen.  I never got the name of the song and I thought it was called Shot Through The Heart, so I purchased the cassette album that had the song Shot Through The Heart.   Of course that was the wrong song.  Right band, but wrong song.   The clincher for me was the chorus part after the guitar solo, where it’s just the voice and the drums (sort of reminded me of Queen’s We Will Rock You).  You Give Love A Bad Name was the one that got the door opened and once the band unleashed Livin On A Prayer, the band started selling 700,000 records a month.    It also featured the song writing talents of Desmond Child, who borrowed the vocal melody and chords from a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler, called If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man).

Livin On A Prayer was the song that Jon wasn’t even sure should be on the album. 

Bob Lefsetz posted that Livin On A Prayer is where Bon Jovi got the girls and that is what has kept the band going.  He aint wrong there and Jon knew that, hence the reason why he rewrote the song over and over again for each album that came after.   New Jersey had Born To Be My Baby (again a co-write with Desmond Child).  Keep The Faith had the title track (the chorus chord progression is identical, except in a different key and again a co-write with Desmond Child).  These Days had Hey God, Crush had Its My Life (Max Martin comes into the fold now), Bounce and Have A Nice Day had the title tracks.  The Circle had We Weren’t Born To Follow and the Greatest Hits had This is Love, This is Life.  For What About Now, the whole album is following the themes from Livin On A Prayer.  If you are on a winning formula, do it right again and you will hit pay dirt.

Tommy used to work on the docks
Union’s been on strike
He’s down on his luck…it’s tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man, she brings home her pay
For love – for love

It’s a movie in words.  Life is tough but as long as we love each other, we will be okay.  A lot of people were not okay, but Livin On A Prayer made them feel that they were, as Tommy and Gina were also living the same life they were living.    

Social Disease is the pure filler that needed to be written so that Bad Medicine could be written. 

So you telephone your doctor
Just to see what pill to take
You know there’s no prescription
Gonna wipe this one away

In never should have ended up on Slippery.  Edge of A Broken Heart is far superior.  I know that Jon apologised for that omission.  To be honest the song never had a chance with the listeners coming off three winners already.  It was a poor song from the Jon and Richie team.  At least they made up for it in the next song.

Wanted Dead or Alive was the 80’s version of Turn The Page which Jon more or less copied again for the Young Guns soundtrack and had another number one hit in Blaze of Glory with a cool Jeff Beck solo.    Wanted was written by Jon and Richie.  This song didn’t reach number one, but it is a number one song.  A cult classic.  A radio staple.  When the song was released as a single, the multi-million fan base had already digested it.  They didn’t need to buy the single to make it No. 1.  It was already that in their hearts and minds.      

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it’s not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways

Life on the road is just that.  I am just finishing off reading a Randy Rhoads bio, and it’s pretty clear that Randy started to hate the road.  He wanted to quit Ozzy’s band and study classical music.  He worked his whole life to achieve rock stardom and now that he had it, he was going to give it all up to follow his dream of classical music.  Sadly he never got there.  That is another thing that seems to be forgotten, the road also kills. 

Raise Your Hands (Let It Rock part 2) kicks off side 2.  Another Jon and Richie composition.  The motto of this song is simply.  Come to the show, raise your hands and get wild.  It doesn’t repeat what Let It Rock started, it takes it into overdrive. 

Raise your hands
When you want to let it go
Raise your hands
And you want to let a feeling show

Without Love is the second track after Raise Your Hands on side 2.  This was a Jon, Richie and Des composition and is forgettable.  The first side was pretty much spot on, that it was hard to get into Side 2.    

I saw a man down on lonely street
A broken man who looked like me
And no one knows the pain that he’s been living
He lost his love and still hasn’t forgiven

I’d Die for You is another Jon, Richie and Des composition.  It has become a cult classic for Bon Jovi, with fans hoping that it gets played each night, like Runaway. 

I might not be a savior
And I’ll never be a king
I might not send you roses
Or buy you diamond rings

We are not perfect in relationships, however we try our best.  A lot of the times our best is not good enough and it all ends bad.

Never Say Goodbye doesn’t get out of second gear

As I sit in this smokey room
The night about to end
I pass my time with strangers
But this bottle’s my only friend

And Wild in the Street is a song that could have ended up on a Bruce Springsteen B sides album.    

In here we got this code of honor
Nobody’s going down

As Bob Lefsetz puts “if you want to relive 1986, if you want to know what it was like way back then… You play “Slippery When Wet.”

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