A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

What Happens After The Pinnacle?

Want some advice.

Each style of music regardless of what genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.

The bands involved in the growth of the will have their best memories and the most defining moments of their musical careers during this growth period. We can use any scene however let’s look at the Eighties LA scene. It began in 1981.

Motley Crue, RATT, WASP and Quiet Riot had the LA Scene cornered at that point in time.

Quiet Riot was a twelve-year overnight success story when they had the first big breakthrough, going to Number 1 with “Metal Health” in 1983 and becoming the first “metal” band to do so in the U.S. That was the bands pinnacle. Within 3 years the band was over.

RATT was also a ten-year overnight success story, when they had their big breakthrough with “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. That was the bands pinnacle and within 8 years the band was over.

WASP was an eight year overnight success story when they had their big break through with their self-titled debut in 1984. The band never really stuck together, however Chris Holmes and Blackie Lawless remained until 1990. At that stage, WASP more or less became Blackie Lawless’s solo project and I define “The Crimson Idol” as Blackie Lawless’s and by default WASP’s defining moment.

Motley Crue was a six-year overnight success story when they had their big breakthrough with “Shout At The Devil”, however their defining album was by far “Dr Feelgood” and that album was a twelve-year journey. However a few years after that Vince Neil was out.

Once the pinnacle is reached, after that, a freeze sets in. That freeze happened in 1992 for hard rock music.

It took Motley Crue another 12 years before they achieved the same heights as they did in the Eighties. In between, the members worked hard at their own home movies, cough cough, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. Solo projects like Methods of Mayhem for Tommy Lee, Vince Neil solo albums, 58 and Brides Of Destruction for Nikki Sixx and eventually finding time to record three Crue albums. One with John Corabi on vocals, one with the band reunited and another with Randy Castillo (RIP) on drums. Then came the all-encompassing book. “The Dirt”. And the resurrection started. If you’re not afraid to go through one door, many more will open there after. And that is what happened to Motley Crue. The book was the door they went through.

And that is what Motley Crue have done, played the game their own way and ended up with riches and power.

Quiet Riot and RATT never re-covered.

WASP/Blackie Lawless realised early on in the Eighties that WASP was a cult band, with a hard-core audience, and it was that audience who Blackie has played for. He didn’t change the WASP sound when Grunge was king. He didn’t change the WASP sound when Industrial and Nu-Metal became king. He just kept on going, realising WASP albums and I am proud to say that I own all of them.

And after the hard rock ice-age was over a new status quo existed.

The previously successful acts need to work even harder to stay successful. The new acts starting off in the new frontier had to work ten times harder.

Because the people that we think are star’s many people around us have no idea who they are.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Top 10

My 8 year old and my 7 year old love Twisted Sister. It’s the video clips that hooked them, so they started to dig deep into my LP and CD collection. Actually, the first LP they ever saw, was Twisted Sister’s “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll.” So here it is, the Top 10 list of Twisted Sister songs, by an 8 year old and a 7 year old.

1. We’re Not Gonna Take It

When Quiet Riot topped the charts with “Metal Health” and it became the first heavy metal album to do so, it was a game changer for metal in general. For better or for worse a lot of bands got picked up by major labels in the U.S.

Twisted Sister on the other hand were still struggling to get ahead without any real support from their Atlantic U.S.

Not to be deterred Twisted Sister took this new fan interest in metal to a new level. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is all pop and a little glam infused with a lot of rock. It’s tongue in cheek video ensured that MTV played it non stop.

Dee Snider finally fine tuned that Chorus melody he had written back in 1979.

2. I Wanna Rock

Who would have thought that in 1987 when “Love Is for Suckers,” came out that it would be a long time before Dee Snider rocked out again.

Desperado proved unsuccessful due to record label politics taking up Dee’s time between 1988 and 1989. Widowmaker came out in the midst of the Seattle Revolution and an excellent band was ignored.

3. Shoot Em Down

This can be the new anthem for the fight against censorship by the Copyright Monopolies and the Corporations that issue DMCA takedowns.

In 1985, Dee Snider along with Frank Zappa and Bob Denver appeared before a Senate committee to testify against the Parents Music Resource Center’s demands for music censorship legislation.

All of this is happening while Twisted Sister was burning to the ground with low ticket sales and crowd animosity.

In 2013, this fight is still going on. This time it is the RIAA, the MPAA and the Copyright monopolies that are trying to silence free speech with bogus takedowns.

Shoot em down I say.

4. You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll

“You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” laid the groundwork for the things to come. With the release of “Under The Blade” before it, the band was getting some serious respect with the metal crowd.

During the “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” tour in Europe, especially England, Twisted Sister was the hottest “new” group.

They where selling out 3500 seaters all over the country, they had two hit singles, been on national TV in England and had been in all the papers.

Twisted Sister tour these days and they are more popular than they have ever been. It’s true, “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll”.

5. SMF

This is the ode to the original tri-state headbangers who would talk at length about the shows that Twisted Sister played in New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester before Twisted Sister became a huge act nationally via MTV. This is their song.

When the band broke through and toured extensively behind “Stay Hungry” the band and Dee Snider especially became overexposed. After being the underdog that gave a voice to every angry teenager in America, Twisted Sister would end up losing the respect of their loyal and possessive core metal fan base.

In other words the SMF’s abandoned them only to return in greater numbers years later.

6. The Kids Are Back

While the record industry proclaims that the industry is dead without any evidence, the kids are all plugging away and creating.

Maybe we will never see another superstar act like the Eighties however we are living in a golden time for creators.

7. Burn In Hell

From reading all the press, it always came across that ”Twisted Sister” was in control of their lives and future. I saw them as a new generation of rock bands due to their hard work ethic to make it.

8. Come Out And Play

When I hear this song, I immediately think of the bands history playing the bar scene, especially when Dee screams out “Join our cavalcade / Enter the world we made.” That cavalcade started when Dee Snider joined in early 1976. That cavalcade kept on growing along with a growing collection of record company rejection letters.

The critics called “Come Out and Play” an uneven album. The weakest tracks on the album like “Leader Of The Pack” and “Be Cruel To Your Skuel” got released as singles. The singles that should have been released are the title track, followed by “The Fire Still Burn” and then “I Believe In Rock N Roll.” Imagine the film clip of “Come Out And Play” if Twisted Sister paid homage to “The Warriors” movie.

In the end “Come Out And Play” didn’t fit the “Michael Jackson business model” of the labels. Twisted Sister went from being hot to being the whipping boys again.

9. The Price

People have a lot of trouble dealing with failure. Twisted Sister had been through so much rejection it made them even more determined to make it. Everything comes at a price.

10. Stay Hungry

It was difficult for Twisted Sister to land a record deal, and the band ended up struggling for nearly a decade before finally getting their big break in the early ’80s.

Unfortunately, when this break finally came, the band would end up being the poster child of record company overexposure.

Stay Hungry stands as a reminder. With each rejection, you need to stay hungry and find the fire again.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Angus Young – Guitar World – March 1986 – Part 3

ANGUS YOUNG – RAW ENERGY IS ALL YOU NEED
Guitar World March 1986
By Joe Lalaina

(All parts in Italics and Quotes are from the March 1986 issue of Guitar World)

To this day. Angus continues to play in shorts, every show. However a lot of AC/DC fans say it s a worn-out routine,

“I guess it depends on which fans you talk to,” counters Angus. To me, it’s comfortable. If I took the stage and dressed like any other guitar player. I don’t think I would be able to be myself. The shorts are as much a part of me as my guitar.”

Lalaina is trying to get a reaction from Angus.  I lived through the Eighties, and during this period, glam and hard rock was becoming king.  All the bands had a similar look.  AC/DC didn’t fit this look and a lot of the journalists tried to put AC/DC down.  Even the sales of AC/DC albums started to tank during the Eighties.  It wasn’t until 1990 when AC/DC released The Razor’s Edge that their career was resurrected.  The response from Angus is typical of the attitude in AC/DC.  They never cared for trends.  To quote Frank Sinatra, the did it their way.

“When I first started playing in shorts, it was a challenge. People would say, Hey, this guy’s a clown—here comes Peepo or something. As a result, it made me work harder to prove to the people that I really did know how to play guitar. I just plugged it into the amp and played. I never used any of those wangy’ bars or stuff like that.”

These days, an artist would change who they are, just so they can please.  No one wants to be hated.  Instead of working harder to stay true to who they are like Angus, 99% of wannabe musicians would change.

In fact, Angus hates tremolo units.

” Those things never appealed to me,” he says. “If I want to get a similar kind of sound, I just de-tune the strings. Cliff Richard used to have this guy in his backing band, Hank Marvin, who used that thing on almost every note. He was like a Buddy Holly clone—he used to do these silly little steps. Guys like Hank set the music world back twenty years. I couldn’t believe guitarists like Beck looked at him as inspiration. Whenever I saw guys like Hank Marvin, I would always go in the complete reverse of what they were doing.”

That is what I am talking about.  By 1986, everyone was doing tapping, whammy dive bombs, sweep picking and had racks of gear to rival NASA.  Angus is totally against it, staying true to who he is, keeping it simple, keeping it real.

Angus says his biggest musical inspiration was his brother George Young, who together with Harry Vanda produced the first few AC/DC albums. Vanda and Young, you may recall, were the guitarists in the Easybeats, one of the most successful Australian pop bands of the late sixties.

That is what a lot of people seem to forget or don’t even know about.  Angus and Malcolm Young had a successful older brother. Does anyone remember the working class anthem, Friday On My Mind?

“We learned a lot from George.” says Angus. “He was the first one who said to us, To be different, you must do everything your own way. When he first heard us, he was impressed with the fact that we could take someone’s song—an old standard like ‘Lucille’ or something and make it sound like a new song altogether. George just let us do what we wanted. He didn’t make us put nice melodies in. If anything, he made us toughen our music up.”

“Although George had more experience as a guitarist and a songwriter, he was also a good producer. A lot of people call themselves producers, but in fact they may be more of an engineer, since they know more about sound than about songs or arranging. George knew about everything. A lot of producers can’t even tell you if your guitar is out of tune.”

“George was great to work with in the studio.” adds Angus. “He always said that since we’re a rock and roll band, the less gimmickry, the better. The last album he did with us was our live album back in 78, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It. I remember George saying, “This is the last AC/DC album I’m gonna produce, since you guys already know enough about the type of sound and songs you want.”

I have a strong viewpoint on producers.  A good, smart producer can really get the best out of a band, and to me, they are the real unsung heroes in the history of hard rock and heavy metal music.  George Young, didn’t try to change AC/DC into another Easybeats.  He made them play to their strengths.  He assisted them in making their sound tougher, rawer, edgier and grittier.

After considering a few producers (whom Angus says he would rather not name), AC/DC settled for Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who produced the bands next three albums, Highway To Hell, Back In Black and For Those About To Rock We Salute You. Of these, Back In Black was the most successful, selling a whopping eight million copies.

“That album is our biggest selling album in America,” acknowledges Angus, “but our European fans preferred our early albums. A lot of the sounds on Back In Black are very much like the sounds you hear on the radio these days.”

Mutt Lange, another master producer.  Of course he went on to massive things with Def Leppard, Bryan Adams and Shania Twain.

How many AC/DC fans knew that Lange, produced three AC/DC albums.

Of course, Back In Black has now moved over 30 million units worldwide since its release.  Highway To Hell, the last Bon Scott album has now moved over  10 million units worldwide since its release and For Those About To Rock We Salute You, has now moved over 7 million units worldwide since its release.

It was another super producer, Bruce Fairbairn that helped re-establish AC/DC in the Nineties with the excellent Razors Edge and the classic Thunderstruck.

Could this be why AC/DC decided to produce their last two albums themselves?

“Not really,” says Angus. “We went from working with Mutt to producing ourselves simply because we wanted to. All the material was ready before we went into the studio albums we did with Matt. He left the music to us because he knew what we wanted. But the difference between us and any other band he’s worked with is that he likes to spend a lot of time in the studio, we don’t. I mean, he’s a good producer and he’s good at getting a great performance out of a band, but he spends too much time recording. We can’t stay in a studio for six months to a year on an album – that’s ridiculous.”

Is Angus happy with how Fly On The Wall turned out?

“We think we’ve done a good job and we achieved what we wanted. We just wanted to make a tough and exciting rock and roll record. And that’s what we made.”

Fly On The Wall had two stand out tracks and the rest was filler.  That is why the Who Made Who soundtrack album that came next sold a lot.  Even though it had a two new songs, it was sort of like a greatest hits album, featuring the best AC/DC songs from Back In Black, For Those About To Rock We Salute You and Fly On The Wall.  It also had Ride On from the Bon Scott era.

It wasn’t until The Razors Edge album released in 1990 that AC/DC recaptured the public’s love affair with them.  Since then they have never looked back.  If any young artist is starting out, these articles form the key component to the A to Z of Making It.  Stay true to who you are.  If you do that, and you write great music, an audience will find you.

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Music

Bon Jovi – What About It’s Over

Just finished listening to Bon Jovi’s new album What About Now (deluxe edition).

Lucky I purchased the deluxe addition as the best song on the album is Every Road Leads Home to You, the Sambora penned track from his equally forgettable solo album, Aftermath of The Lowdown.

The next song worth any note is That’s What the Water Made Me. So this is what happens, when 50 year old rockers try to chase the money from the twenty something’s.  Instead of writing for their hard core audience, they are focusing on a different market.

Bon Jovi doesn’t even know who their audience is anymore.  They have lost complete touch with them.  In a world where one to one connections is the new normal (take a leaf out of Nikki Sixx’s twittering and Facebook offerings), Bon Jovi is entrenched in the old paradigm.  Spend months creating an album for an audience they don’t even know. I am not a hater.

I am a big Bon Jovi fan.  I am displeased with this effort.  Hell, the best song they have written in the last 5 years is This is Love, This Is Life from the Greatest Hits CD.  You would only hear this song if you purchased the deluxe edition that had disc 2 and another two bonus songs on that.  The carbon copied Someday I’ll Be A Saturday Night morphed into The More Things Change is also a stand out.

Yeah I know Jovi sell shows out on a regular basis, but you tell me a fan that goes to the show to hear the new songs and I will call them a liar.  A set list of their most recent show (via setlist.fm) on March 10 shows only 3 songs played from the new album (Because We Can, Amen and That’s What The Water Made Me).  That is two too many.

The only tune that they should be pushing is That’s The Water Made Me.

Cause devils in heaven
There’s angels in hell

You don’t know these days, who is righteous or not.  We live in a world of fakes, a world of avatars.  Where people who think they have 1000 Facebook friends are cool, where people pay $800 for a meet and greet just to say they did.  The lines between good and evil are blurred these days.  

Love is like fingerprints It don’t wash away

No one forgets their first love or their greatest love.  It stays forever with them.  Look at the band Hinder.  They have made a career singing about the one that got away. 

That’s what the water made me That’s who I am and what I’ll be

This is it.  We can’t change how we are made, how we have grown up and what we believe in.  Of course we can adapt to situations and sometimes we can fake a different personality but in the end, we will fall back to how we were made and what we are.  Look at how the 80’s glam bands thought they had to go all Industrial or grunge like to keep an audience, further alienating their fan base, until the said Fuck that and returned to their roots. 

This world, it’s cracked and crazy
Say one of your pretty prayers for me
No roles in the garden? Or Wishing well?

Life is no Garden of Eden.  It never was and it never will be.  We have copyright granted monopolies fighting hard to control the internet.  We have people working 12 hour days just to see all of their moneys go to the mortgage, to the utilities, to basic survival needs.   At night, we might feel better saying a pretty prayer, but that is all it is.  The World is cracked and Crazy. 

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