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

Criss Oliva – Even When The Crowds Are Gone, The Orchestra Will Never Stop Playing

With all the memories and tributes to fallen rockers that have passed away during the internet age, it seems that the ones that passed away tragically previously are more or less forgotten by the masses unless they were part of a superstar act or where the superstar act themselves.

And this brings me to the guitarist known as Criss Oliva who tragically passed away on October 17, 1993 when a drunk driver crossed the road and hit Criss Oliva and his wife head on.

The “Gutter Ballet” LP was my first introduction to Savatage. I actually purchased the album based on the excellent album cover by Gary Smith. The picture of the guitar through the top part of the piano was the initial connection and then the picture of the guitar in the trashcan with a rat climbing on it on the back was the final deal breaker that made me decide that I had to part with my money to purchase the album.

I purchased it from a market stall for $10 which was cheap for Australian standards as the retail shops were selling LP’s for $20. Hence, every Saturday, I would catch a train or a bus to the Saturday markets and stock up on LP’s. A lot of the cases it would be LP’s that I had a copy of on cassette and in some cases it would be a “leap of faith” purchases.

Yes, fans of music pirated back then as well. That is why blank cassette tapes proved to be lucrative business for the manufacturers.

I remember staring at the cover on the trip home, then walking briskly up the hill, getting into the house all sweaty from the hill walk, breaking the shrink-wrap and dropping the needle.

I was immediately blown away.

I found out years later that it was the bands fifth full length album. How many bands in 2014 would stick around for five albums? I was reading the album credits, looking for names I might know from previous albums.

Jason Flom seemed familiar, however it was the name Paul O’Neill that made a connection with me as he was also part of the debut Badlands album.

This album was a true turning point for the band.

It didn’t sell in the millions, but a classic album it is none the less. When I talk about Savatage to people, this is the album I put on. The reason why it is so magical is that it captures the transition that the band was going through perfectly. It still pays its respect to their past sound and it also paved the way for their future-direction. And that is what music is all about, a snap shot of a certain point in time.

“Gutter Ballet” also became a leader for a new genre that incorporated power metal with orchestral/symphonic flourishes.

“Of Rage And War” kicks off proceedings with helicopters and other sounds from the various war machines. The whole intro reminds me of Megadeth. The song is about transforming powerlessness into anger.

Better listen to me you son of a bitch
Better disarm those missiles sleeping in the ditch
You have no goddamn right to do the things you do
The world would be a better place if we were rid of you

It’s progressive and aggressive. It’s thrashy and snarly. It’s melodic and chromatic. It is a metal song of the angriest order and it made the impression on me that I purchased a full-blown thrash metal album.

Wasn’t I wrong.

“Gutter Ballet” is the epic six-minute anthem. It starts off with that melancholic piano intro in the key of D minor and then when the guitars come in along with the head stomping drums, the song transitions into a unique groove of “hard rock” clashing with “classical” and “classical” clashing with “symphonic” elements. It leaves an everlasting memory.

After the brutal power of ‘Of Rage and War’, the quiet piano intro surprised me as well as the subject matter that deals with the reality of the streets.

In the end it is the guitar the drives the song along. Check out the whole section before the lead break, then the lead break itself and then the syncopated parts coming out of the lead break. It’s perfect and the legato phrasing is liquid like melodic.

The title “Gutter Ballet” actually came from a play that producer Paul O’Neill had written in the early seventies, which of course went on to become the basis for the “Streets” concept album that followed “Gutter Ballet”.

Another sleepless night
A concrete paradise
Sirens screaming in the heat
Neon cuts the eye
As the jester sighs
At the world beneath his feet

“Temptation Revelation” follows and it is an instrumental. At one stage it was the original title for the LP. The guitar work from Criss Oliva again makes it. It has this Euro-Vibe style of guitar playing. A favourite of mine at that time was John Norum who in 1989 was the ex-Europe guitarist, who was also moving onto a solo career and in between he worked with Don Dokken, Glenn Hughes and other high-powered vocalists.

“When The Crowds Are Gone” is one of the best ballads, ever. Jon’s melancholic voice carries the song as it is filled with genuine emotion. To explain what the song is about, this is what Jon Oliva told Metal Hammer in February 1990;

“It’s the life story of a musician who has been trying to become successful all his life. In vain, of course and so finally he breaks down. How, that’s not the main issue, because this can happen in many different ways. Suicide, an overdose of drugs…

I’ve seen it happen around me, so I know what I’m talking about. And that goes for our producer, Paul O’Neill, who helped me write the lyrics, as well. He also knew musicians who went down because of the lack of success.

The musician that this song is about spent his whole life composing one song, that was meant to be his absolute masterpiece. Finally, he completes the song, but then he’s too old himself to accomplish anything with it. He’s past the height of his glory.

Then finally when the song gets airplay, it is too late, because it is at his own funeral. The way its written, it is of course purely imaginative, but the reasons to write the lyrics the way they were, unfortunately are very true. It has cost me a lot to sing this song. Because it was so personal, and because I wanted it to carry the right emotion, vocally. Listen to the end of the song, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.”

I don’t know where the years have gone
Memories can only last so long
Like faded photographs, forgotten songs

“Silk And Steel” is another instrumental and it reminds me of “Air” from Jason Becker. Another guitarist that in this case was tragically struck down with a terminal illness. “Silk And Steel” is a highlight as it features Criss Oliva’s at his “Segovia” best. A virtuosic, lively and carefree performance.

Side one ended and I needed to replay it before I moved onto side two. That is how music should be. Replayable over and over again.

“Shes In Love” kicks off side 2. The only song with weak lyrics, however it is important to note its place in the Savatage canon and an ode to the Accept style of Hard Rock/Metal that Savatage also dabbled in.

She likes what she sees
Starts to drop to her knees
Gazing with an appetite
Licks her lips in sheer delight

“Hounds” was an inspiration to me as a guitarist. I used the songs structure as a template for songs that I would write back then. I loved it’s epic feel and under it all there is this doomy technical atmosphere.

The lyrics are pure fantasy, however if you want to attach it to a rock n roll story, look no further than Robert Johnson and the hell hounds chasing him.

Do you hear the hounds they call
Scan the dark eyes aglow
Through the bitter rain and cold
They hunt you down
Hunt you down

“The Unholy” could be from any classic metal album. The whole intro at first reminds me of “Lucretia” from Megadeth.

Another song that deals with fantasy, and about the way evil came to earth.

In distant ages long ago
Before the birth of Christ
Lived a race trapped in soul
Terror on the rise
United beyond the storm
They ruled the astral plane
No one could stop them
They wouldn’t fall
In a while they would soon reign

“Mentally Yours” sounds like an Alice Cooper song. Even the lyrical themes are very shock-rock Cooperish and it kicks off a concept suite, however since I was the owner of the LP version, I never heard the final song until years later.

His tension life
He beats the wife
Doused the cat with gasoline
He’s rather try
The other side
He just has to get away
That’s when it all began
Timmy lost his mind
Was just a matter of time
Before he went crazy

“Summer’s Rain” is another great ballad. In the theme of the concept story, this is how Jon Oliva explained in that Metal Hammer February 1990 interview.

“‘Summer’s Rain’ gets deeper into the relationship between Timmy and his girlfriend from ‘Mentally Yours’ (the previous track on Gutter Ballet). Timmy already is twisted, but when he finds out that she’s cheating on him he totally loses control. In the end, she leaves him and Timmy ends up in a mental institution. Like I said, totally made up, but these things happen all the time here in the States.”

Scars are the wounds that we show
Time only heals
If you’re letting go

Criss Oliva is one of the most emotive and eclectic metal guitarists. The album is littered with so many different guitar techniques.

– Emotive guitar leads on “Temptation Revelation”
– Acoustic Fingerpicking on “Silk And Steel”
– Thrash, angry snarly riffs on “Of Rage And War”
– Classicalisms and hard rockisms on “Gutter Ballet”
– Melodic harmonies on songs like “Summers Rain” and “When The Crowds Are Gone”
– Epic progressive metal on “Hounds” along with a bit of Black Sabbath doom.
– Classic power metal on “The Unholy”.
– AC/DC meets ACCEPT style of hard rock on “Shes In Love”

All in all, if metal is your taste then you need to hear this album. If you are a genre hopping musical fan, then this album is a must for the metal genre.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

What Happened to The Guitar Riff?

The mighty Guitar is still in the forefront of all the main hard rock and metal music. Regardless of what music style came and regardless what technological new medium came to kill it off, (like the Eighties midi craze), the mighty guitar has fought its way back time and time again.

Like a true champion it rises up from the canvas. That sound through glass tubes and cones made from paper. What can beat it?

To quote Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

Try as the trend setters might to eliminate distortion, the power chord and it’s many different versions remain unique. The human feel of a guitar is the essential element that makes a song unique and intimate enough to form a connection with a listener. You don’t see people growing up wanting to be clarinet and flute players.

It is an integral part of culture, both past and present. Think of Jimi Hendrix burning one or Pete Townsend smashing one or Randy Rhoads playing that immortal polka dot guitar or Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar.

Think of all of the album covers that featured a guitar;

Dire Straits – “Brothers In Arms”
Stryper – “To Hell With The Devil”
Def Leppard – “On Through The Night”
AC/DC – Take your pick of the many classic album covers that involve Angus and his trusty Gibson SG.
The Cult – “Sonic Temple”
Van Halen – “Women And Children First”
Bruce Springsteen – “Born To Run”
Jeff Beck – “Guitar Shop”
MSG – “Built To Destroy”
Boston – The self titled debut and “Dont Look Back” covers are iconic.

At the moment, the number 1 hits around the world are “The Monster” by Eminem/Rihanna, “Timber” by Pitbull/Keisha and Happy by Pharrell Williams. Not a lot of guitar in those songs and if there is guitar, it is in the background, relegated to a support act.

It is not the main instrument in popular culture anymore.

The guitar is disappearing from popular culture.

So what happened.

So what happened to that riff that connects. The one that we can play air guitar to.

Commercial sensibilities are trumping artistic sensibilities.

Rock and Metal bands are churning out songs. Good songs. Great choruses. But no definitive riff. We hum the melodies, we tap the groove, but we don’t do the der, der, derr on the riff. For those who don’t know what the “der, der der” is, it is “Smoke On The Water” from Deep Purple.

Avenged Sevenfold came close with the “Hail To The King” album. Pissed off a lot of people in the process. They called them copycats. But they had the balls to create a classic rock album. And Classic Rock albums are created from influences.

Machine Head nailed it with “Be Still and Know” and “Unto The Locust”. But because of their niche, popular culture would never even know about it. Too ignorant to care.

Maybe it is the downtuning. Maybe it is the speed. Maybe it is the focus on the melody to be catchy.

One thing is certain, there are no riff driven songs, with a great hook doing 100,000,000 streams on Spotify. All of those numbers belong to Imagine Dragons, Avici, Daft Punk and a whole host of EDM artist and pop artists that have songs written by Max Martin.

And one last thing, for all the doubters that Spotify is hurting artists.

Check out this story.

Yep an independent artist that uses Tunecore as its digital distributor has earned from September 2010 to November 2013, $334,636 for over 57 million plays. It’s easy money earned by people listening to his music on a consistent basis. It’s that simple. It’s that pure. We create music so people can listen to it. First and foremost. And Spotify along with YouTube are here, telling the creators which songs are being listened too.

Isn’t that a great thing.

But hey, Spotify doesn’t pay artists said the old guard. Bullshit I say.

Spotify pays. It pays well. It is the record labels that don’t filter it down to the artists. It is the same old argument like before of Record labels not paying artists.

Standard
Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Power Of User Transcriptions and the Death Of Sheet Music

I can honestly say that with the rise of the internet, the need to use my ear and figure out a song has more or less gone out the window. All I need to do is go to UltimateGuitar.com or to an iPhone app and search for the song.

There is a 100% chance that it is there, especially the popular ones. The beauty of it all is that the transcriptions are free and made by musicians who are fans of the band. Some of the more complex progressive stuff is also out there and massive kudos to the guys and gals who sit down to transcribe Dream Theater, Periphery, Sikth, Animals As Leaders and Protest The Hero because they love it, not because they get paid to do it.

However, it wasn’t always UltimateGuitar for me. My fascination with other people transcribing tabs started off with “Harmony Central” back in 1999 which had basic and crude text tabs. However that interest went up a large notch with this website:

THE POWER TAB DUNGEON

The website is littered with PowerTabs from bands in the Eighties and Nineties. In some cases it has the whole album from a band or in some rare cases it has the whole discography for a band, even going into the Nineties and Two Thousands. It is simply as well. Click on the song and it downloads straight away. Nice and easy, just the way that I love it where as UlitmateGutiar.com has way too many clicks involved in order to get the song transcription.

If you are in the business that sells sheet music, your business model is challenged. Not because of piracy, but because of users wanting to show the world that they can transcribe music that they love. If you are in the business that sells magazines with transcriptions like Guitar World or Total Guitar, your business model is also challenged. I am a Guitar World subscriber and the last 16 months worth of issues are still sitting on my shelf with the plastic wrapping still on them.

When my subscription expires I will be letting it lapse. There is no need for it in the current world and their fascination with ass-kissing the classic rockers is getting too much. For example, i can honestly say that i have over 15 transcriptions of the same song from either Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Ozzy/RR era, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.

I digress. You will notice that I mentioned PowerTab earlier. It’s a piece of software which I still use today to capture riffs and turn them into songs. It is not the best piece of software out there on the market right now, however I was a very early adopter of PowerTab (circa 2003 or 2004) and it served my purpose well when my kids came into my life between the years of 2005 and 2011. Instead of plugging in and playing riffs, I opened up the lap top and fired up the PowerTab software. It more or less became my guitar.

And this brings me back to the the Power Tab Dungeon website. It is pure Eighties heaven. Even the hard to find stuff. Back then, when this site came out, a lot of the other tab sites didn’t have this collection of material. Now if you go onto UltimateGuitar.com you will more or less see it all there. However the original leader in Eighties tab was the Dungeon.

If you wanted to know how to play songs from “Shotgun Messiah” they are there. Or “Babylon A.D”. Or “Steelheart”. Or “Jackyl”. Or “XYZ”. Or “Ugly Kid Joe”. Even “Vince Neil’s” solo albums.

Also on the flip side you still have Hal Leonard selling Note For Note books for between $50 to $70 plus dollars in Australia. And they wonder why no one is buying. Let’s blame piracy. Why not, everyone else does.

Of course, there was a time when the Music Publishers Association freaked out about PowerTab and went all nuclear on the software.

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

All Aboard: The Randy Rhoads Guitar Train

I remember the day that I got the Tribute tab book.

I put the head phones on and listened to the album over and over while my index finger pointed out/followed the notes. After that first listen I went to the guitar, tuned up and started to play the basic riffs. After playing through the tab book in that fashion, I went back to the head phones and started following the notes again. I didn’t know it at the time but by doing this I was storing the image of the progressions in my mind. In a weird way, that is how I started to remember the songs.

Then I went back to the guitar and played through the whole album again with a lot of mistakes around the lead breaks.

I did this routine for months until I perfected the album. The music of Randy Rhoads became my bible. It was a religion. 32 years have passed and the legend remains. The memories remain. The teacher remains.

I remember the time when I traded my cousin a few Twisted Sister 12 inch singles for the “Quiet Riot II” album with Randy Rhoads. I needed to have it. My cousin wouldn’t part with it. I kept on persisting and finally he agreed. I was on a train to his place the same day.

Studying the style of Randy Rhoads, I learned all about modes and the different scales that are made from each note of the mode, like Ionian, Phyrgian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. I even named my son after one of the modes. It’s so easy to dismiss musical theory, however when you have an actual song that you can refer to, it makes it so much more easier to learn.

Wolf Marshall did an unbelievable job with the book transcription and on the commentary on each song. Actually Wolf Marshall was the transcription god back then. Another was Dave Whitehill. Experienced, super-talented and knowledgeable guitar players that broke down so many doors with their transcriptions and made it easier for young guitar players to pick up the guitar and practice.

“Crazy Train” was the first song I mastered. At the time, Alex Sklonick also had a column in the magazine “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. In one of those columns, Skolnick also talked about modes and how “Crazy Train” is in the key of A Major and how it switches between the minor and major modes throughout the song. At the time it was a lot to take in however once you get it, you get it. Plus having a song like Crazy Train to refer too, who wouldn’t get it.

That one song has all the tools that every guitarist should possess.

Power Chords. CHECK. The All- Aboard part, the pre chorus and the chorus.
Pedal Point Riff. CHECK. The Intro F#m riff, along with the verse riff.
Movable Chord Shapes over a Pedal Point. CHECK. The whole verse riff that moves from A to E to D.
Finger Tapping. CHECK. Lead Break
Hammer Ons and Pull Offs. CHECK. In the Chorus and the Lead Break and sprinkled throughout the verse riffs.
Legato Lines. CHECK. In the Lead Break.
Palm Muting. CHECK. In the F#m riff and the lead break.
Alternate Picking. CHECK. Throughout the whole song.
Bends. CHECK. In the Chorus lead interludes and the Lead Break.

And then when you start to go through all of the other songs, you see/hear all of the above tools re-used, which re-enforces all the techniques. Some songs had finger picking and arpeggios. Randy Rhoads was the definition of completeness.

By creating great music, he also taught us how to be better guitar players. Everything made sense. You can take a teacher and make them a rock star, however you can never stop the rock star from being a teacher and that is exactly what Randy Rhoads was. A teacher.

Bob Daisley on his website released some snippets of what he calls the “Holy Grail”. Small snippets of jam sessions with Randy Rhoads. Hearing them just made me crank the Blizzard, Diary and Tribute albums again.

If something like Spotify was around in the Eighties, imagine the stream metrics these songs would have by now. It’s no surprise that “Crazy Train” is Ozzy’s most played track on Spotify with 15 million plus streams. “Mr Crowley” is up there with 4.9 million streams. Go on YouTube and there are hundreds of channels that have the song, with a lot of views on each channel. One fan channel has over 15 million views. Another has 5 million.

That is Randy Rhoads. His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.

Standard
Uncategorized

Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley and the Blizzard Of Ozz

To me, Randy Rhoads was a huge influence. My first introduction to Randy Rhoads was the “Tribute” album and the tablature book that came with it formed my bible for a long time.

He was just unique. Rhoads formed Quiet Riot when he was 16 years old however as good as Randy Rhoads was, the band couldn’t get a record deal in the U.S and they ended up releasing two albums (QR I and QR II) in Japan. Of course this incarnation of Quiet Riot was a totally different line up that sang “Cum On Feel The Noize” which in turn brought metal to the mainstream.

Most people know his musical legacy from the two landmark albums he made with Ozzy Osbourne.

While Quiet Riot focused on a more pop rock vibe, Rhoads was allowed free reign to draw on all his interests with Ozzy. It should be noted that Bob Daisley played a very important part in this project as well as the lyrical writer and musical contributor.

The two years he spent in Rainbow before joining the Blizzard of Ozz project put him in good stead to continue the style of music that Ritchie Blackmore was creating.

Listen to the style of music on the first three Rainbow albums and then listen to the first two Ozzy albums and you will hear that the styles are very similar. The song structures are very similar. The biggest difference is the LA flash of Randy Rhoads.

Randy Rhoads with Bob Daisley as his bass player and songwriter equals superstar.

Tragically, Rhoads died far too young in a plane crash on March 19, 1982 while on tour with Osbourne.

10
I Don’t Know
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

This riff would be the first thing that people heard who went and purchased the “Blizzard of Ozz” album without hearing a single note.

What an introduction riff it is. It is a simply ascending pedal point riff however it so effective because of Bob Daisley’s staccato bassline which he synchronized with Lee Kerslake’s bass drum. Back in the day it sounded so original.

This is Randy Rhoads announcing to the world that there is a new guitar hero in town.

This is what Bob Daisley said in an interview with the website Undercover (that was reposted on Blabbermouth).
“I got inspired for that when OZZY told me a story about BLACK SABBATH. Because they were considered to be an occult band and into all sorts of things, it was a reputation they had, people used to ask OZZY, “Tell my fortune” and I just wrote a simple song saying, “Don’t ask me, I don’t know. I’m just a singer”.

9
Suicide Solution
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

The whole intro riff is just full of attitude and defiance. And guess what, it is only three chords. If you are familiar with the work that Randy Rhoads did with Quiet Riot, you would have noticed the influence of the song “Force of Habit”.

While most of Rhoads earlier material with Quiet Riot was less adventurous, it did allow him to be a songwriter and a riff creator and he used derivative versions of his earlier riffs in his later work with the Blizzard Of Ozz band that was changed at the last minute to Ozzy Osbourne. This is one such song.

This is what Bob Daisley said in an interview with the website Undercover (that was reposted on Blabbermouth);

“I wrote that song about OZZY drinking himself into an early grave. He was pretty disturbed that he was thrown out of BLACK SABBATH and he described it as like going through a divorce. He was drinking heavily because of it and getting stoned and wasn’t very productive which is why he got thrown out of BLACK SABBATH in the first place. The word solution had a double meaning, meaning solution to a problem or liquid solution meaning booze. OZZY did come up with one line in that song “wine is fine, but whiskey’s quicker”.”

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the song in an interview with the Classic Rock Revisited website when the interviewer mentioned to Daisley that Ozzy has mentioned in interviews that Ozzy wrote the song about Bon Scott;

“That is bull5h!t. I knew Bon Scott and so did Ozzy and we did find out about Bon Scott’s death during the recording of that album but I wrote “Suicide Solution.” I wrote the freaking words so he can say all he likes about who I wrote it about but I wrote it about him killing himself with alcohol. It was a warning song. It is stupid to drink yourself into the ground. It is not a solution to a problem as it is really just hiding. Solution also has a double meaning in that it is a liquid like alcohol. I wrote about Ozzy just drinking too much at the time. We all liked to drink but he was really getting into it sometimes.”

8
You Looking At Me, Looking At You
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

This song doesn’t get the attention it deserves because it was left off the album. Plus it was written for an album that had so many other songs that are just great. However if this song appeared on any other bands album it would have been a hit as well.

The intro is Seventies Arena Melodic Rock. I can understand why the song didn’t get included on the album as it could have been deemed to poppy from the very metal sounding Blizzard album, however the riff is infectious.

Even in the pre chorus Randy Rhoads plays palm muted arpeggios (like Eddie Van Halen) and something that Vito Bratta employed on a constant basis. And that lead break just comes out of nowhere like another song within the same song composition. Again it reminds me of what Vito Bratta would end up doing.

This song shows what a band “Blizzard Of Ozz” was. Yes, that band had Randy Rhoads on guitar, Bob Daisley on bass, Lee Kerslake on drums and Ozzy Osbourne on vocals.

An argument can be put forward as to why “No Bone Movies” made it on the album and not this song.

By the way, if anyone is familiar with the work that Randy Rhoads did with Quiet Riot, they would have noticed the rhythm guitar riff coming from a Quiet Riot song called “Kiss of Death”, that was only performed live, and the lead intro part is from the Quiet Riot song called “Trouble.” Also, the same structure can be heard on the song “Breaking Up Is A Heartache” also from Quiet Riot.

7
Steal Away The Night
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

That intro is similar to the chorus riff in “Suicide Solution” at a higher tempo. Whereas in “Suicide Solution” it is a climbing motif, in “Steal Away The Night” it is a repeating motif.

There is also another nod to the Quiet Riot song “Breaking Up Is A Heartache” in the riff that comes after the chorus.

Remember that progress is derivative and Randy Rhoads was very good at that technique. Sometimes he would take bits and pieces from a lot of different songs to form one cohesive riff.

6
Mr Crowley
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

The “was it polemically sent” part before the outro solo is just goose bumps stuff. The harmony guitar lines that interweave over a classical chord progression. The calm before the storm. From a lead guitarist point of view, Mr Crowley served as a showcase of the talent that is Randy Rhoads.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the song in an interview with the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“Ozzy already had the idea for that but he just had the title. He wanted to write it about Aleister Crowley who was into black magic and witchcraft and all that.”

And from the same interview, we find out how the organ riff came about;

“One of the auditions we had was a keyboard player who had an idea that went something like that. We got that idea and wrote that part for the beginning of “Mr. Crowley.”

When the interviewer asked if that person would sue, Daisley commented back to state that he thinks that they changed it enough to make it a derivative version.

5
Goodbye To Romance
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

This song connects from the very first note but it is that descending chorus riff that is pure gold.

Listening to the studio version of the song with its many layers and then hearing the way Randy composed his live performance is awe inspiring.

Though Rhoads was best known for the heavier side of his guitar playing, his ambition was to devote his time to classical music. “Dee” served as an example of his devotion to classical/flamenco music however it was songs like “Goodbye To Romance”, “Revelation Mother Earth” and “Diary of A Madman” that showcased how powerful classical music is in a heavy metal setting.

“Goodbye To Romance” was Ozzy’s title and it came from an Everly Brothers song called “Bye Bye Love.” The lyrics were written by Bob Daisley and the subject matter was Ozzy’s “divorce” from Black Sabbath. On the “Don’t Blame Me” video, Ozzy does mention that he was humming the vocal melody, and that Randy heard it and developed the chords around the melody. That part is true, as even Randy recounted the same story. However the way Ozzy recounts it makes it sound like that Bob Daisley was not involved at all in the song writing process. It is a well-known fact that history is written by the powerful and the winners. That is what Sharon and Ozzy are trying to do. Rewrite history. Bob Daisley wrote the lyrics and assisted Ozzy with the melodies.

4
Crazy Train
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

After getting blown away by “I Don’t Know”, the ear drums were assaulted once again with “Crazy Train.”

The intro is a sing along riff and immediately identifiable. You can call this song Ozzy’s biggest hit and according to the chart makers it never was a hit.

The verse – Back in the Eighties, this was the first major key progression I heard that sounded heavy. It is perfect for the song, as the verses deal with hope so the major key is perfect and then the chorus deals with the world losing it over nuclear arms and by then it has switched to the minor mode.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say about the song in a Bravewords interview;

“The thing that comes to mind is that Ozzy gets too much credit for it! Randy had the riff and chord structure, I wrote the chord structure for Randy to solo over. Ozzy came up with the vocal melody, and I wrote all the lyrics. Randy and I were both fans of trains and railways. We bought model trains and used to go to railway exhibitions together. Ozzy used to have a saying ‘you’re off the fucking rails’ and Randy had this effects pedal and it was making this sort of psychedelic chugging sound, like a train in his amp. And that’s when I came up with ‘Crazy Train’. With Ozzy’s saying, ‘I’m going off the rails on a crazy train’ came from. The lyrics were a statement of the world we live in or lived in as children, the cold war we lived through.”

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the song in an interview with the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“What I am most proud of is “Crazy Train.” Randy came up with the riff and Ozzy came up with the vocal melody and I wrote the lyrics and the musical section that Randy soloed over in the middle. It has become a Rock N Roll anthem and I am really proud of that. When I was with Rainbow, one of my Rock N Roll ambitions was to write a hit single or to be involved in writing one with somebody else. In Rainbow, Ritchie and Ronnie wrote everything and they didn’t need anyone else. When Blizzard Of Oz happened it was great because I got to realize one of my ambitions.”

“Crazy Train” is really a peace song about how crazy it is that people are brainwashed and mind controlled by the powers that be over freaking stupid religion and stuff like that. That is why the opening lines, are “Crazy but that’s how it goes/Millions of people living as foes.” We have inherited all the BS from all of the cold wars and all of the crap. The young people inherited it and back then I was still young.”

3
Over The Mountain
From: ‘Diary of a Madman’ (1981)

As the “Blizzard Of Ozz” album kicked off with a pedal point riff, so did the “Diary Of A Madman” album. What a great drum intro by Lee Kerslake. A dead set classic. It has become a real trademark.

This song is the “progress is derivative” model in action. Did anyone pick up on the “Black Sabbath” riff used before the solo break?

The intro/verse riff is a musical mish mash of heavy seventies rock and decorated with Rhoads’ unusual voicing’s.

The bridge is very Rush sounding, which is simple power chords played over a shimmering and ringing of the open E and B strings.

The melody is pop all the way. It is infectious.

2
Revelation (Mother Earth)
From: ‘Blizzard of Ozz’ (1980)

“Revelation (Mother Earth)” is a song that needed to be written so that a masterpiece like “Diary Of A Madman” could exist. It is full of great riffs from Rhoads.

The intro/verse riff from 0.00 to 1.24 is just timeless. Hearing this song today and it doesn’t sound dated at all.

Then 03.03 to 3.21 just before the acoustic interlude.

Then from the 5 minute mark to the end is just brilliant. It is a merge of heavy riffing and classical / baroque influenced lead break that twists and turns into each other.

On the “Tribute” live album, the tempo is increased, further increasing the status of the song to legendary.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the song in an interview with the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“Some of the words came from the book of Revelations in the bible. I had been in the rehearsal room and I had been playing a song by John Lennon called “Mother.” Ozzy came in when we were doing the backing and he went “Mother” just like the John Lennon song. We started calling it ‘Mother Earth.’ I wrote that about the dangers of us destroying our own planet.”

1
Diary Of A Madman
From: ‘Diary of a Madman’ (1981)

This is progressive metal before the term became associated with bands like Fates Warning, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater. The song was a giant leap forward in composition and technicality. It is dominated by Randy Rhoads from when the first note starts and the last note ends.

The song is a cacophony of dark dissonant chord voicing’s, unusual time signatures, serene acoustic driven interludes, heavy groove orientated rock and metal riffs and dissonant atonal passages, all combined with an eerie dark, mysterious mix. It is experimental music and it broke through to the masses. It has all of the elements that made Rhoads’ playing special.

The whole song is like a Randy Rhoads master class. Stand out sections is the whole intro section up to the first verse, and the heavy distorted riff before the dissonant solo break.

This is what Bob Daisley had to say on the song in an interview with the Classic Rock Revisited website;

“I really wrote that one about myself. When I was 16 I had my first nervous breakdown and it really fucked me up. I was a sensitive kid and I have always been a sensitive person. I suppose you have to be sensitive being in the arts. I wrote the words about myself. Quite often we have problems and we are our own worst enemies and that is why “Enemies fill up the pages one by one in the diary. Are they me?” I am my own worst enemy.”

Bob Daisley also mentioned the following in relation to the composition of the “Diary Of A Madman” album pm the same Classic Rock Revisited website.

“We just worked five days a week, all day. Randy had riffs that he was working on. For Diary Of A Madman it was Lee, Randy and myself. A lot of times Ozzy wasn’t there as he either had hangovers or he was off to see his family. Lee came up with several of the vocal melodies for that album. I know he came up with the vocal melody for “Flying High Again.” He used to have a microphone at the side of his drums and he would sing while we put the songs together. The other thing was that Randy had the rough idea for the song “Diary Of A Madman” and I came up with title. I wrote all of the lyrics as well on the album. Ozzy would come and go from rehearsals. One day he came in and we played him “Diary Of A Madm an” and because it had funny timing he couldn’t get his head around. He said, “Who the fuck do you think I am? Frank Zappa!” We said, “You sing in this part but you don’t sing here. This timing goes like this ect.” He started to like it when he got his head around but at first he was like, “This is not for me.”

There you have it, my top ten Randy Rhoads riffs with Ozzy.

http://www.bravewords.com/features/1000971

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/bob-daisley-would-the-real-ozzy-osbourne-please-stand-up/

http://www.classicrockrevisited.com/Bob%20Daisley%20Interview.htm

Standard
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.

Standard