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

Rewind : Fast Forward

In the Guitar November 1996 issue I mentioned in a previous post, there is another section called “Rewind/Fast Forward”, that catches up with “guitar veterans” who have new projects in the works, or the section can be used as a one stop shop to check out and see what these guitarists from the past are up to.

So the three “veterans” the magazine caught up with are; Brad Gillis, Jeff Watson and Adrian Vandenberg.

How the mid 90s became so unkind to these kind of players is beyond me?

So Brad Gillis toured with Ozzy during 1982 and was on Ozzy’s “Speak Of The Devil” live album of Sabbath cuts. Night Ranger broke big a year later and suddenly he’s on MTV and trading 64 bar licks with Jeff Watson. This only lasted a short time, as by 1988, Night Ranger was dead.

I purchased his solo album, heard it once and never heard it again, and then Gillis reformed Night Ranger with a new line up only to see it get booed off stage. At this point in time, he had reconnected with Jack Blades with the aim to reform the original Night Ranger.

The interviewer, Greg Pederson asked him the question; can a band who relied on guitar heroics flourish in the 90’s?

Gillis answered with, “guitar solos are history, so who knows how we’ll fit in. But were going to kick butt and try to get a record deal.”

Isn’t it funny how a new breed of young guitarist in the 2000s brought guitar solos back to the masses while the 80’s dudes felt they needed to say something like “guitar solos are history”. Sounds like Gillis is choosing, commercial song writing over being true to himself and it doesn’t work, because Gillis is a guitar player that solos.

Jeff Watson showed the world how easy it was to execute eight finger tapping and it was a technique he learned by pure accident, because all Watson did was to try and figure out a way to play one of Alan Fitzgerald’s keyboard licks on the guitar. So Night Ranger break up in 1988 and Watson gets busy, laying down guitar on Chris Issak ‘s albums, a solo album and the Mothers Army project with Joe Lynn Turner singing.

His solo album showcased his impressive techniques but as he said to the interviewer, “my acoustic playing has gotten critical acclaim but it doesn’t pay the bills”, so back to Night Ranger he want as well, and when the interviewer asked him the same question about the “non-solo conscious society”, Watson answered with, “That’s what Night Ranger is about – guitars.”

Now that’s how you answer that question. And Jeff Watson went back to Night Ranger only to leave and go back and then leave for good. His replacement Joel Hoekstra would also leave to join Whitesnake, which leads me to Adrian Vandenberg.

Adrian Vandenberg back in 1985 was voted as a “Metal God In Waiting” in the same magazine. At that time, the magazine praised him for stretching the neoclassical style, which led to him disbanding Vandenberg, because every other artist started doing it. And in 1986, a certain David Coverdale asked Vandenberg to became his new guitarist, replacing John Sykes in Whitesnake. His moment of achieving Metal God status was at hand.

But it wasn’t to be, because Vandenberg’s guitar playing didn’t grace the “Slip Of The Tongue” album, due to a bizarre hand injury. But in 1996, Vandenberg was finally on a Whitesnake record.

The Whitesnake album, “So Many Tears” mirrored the Blues rock direction of previous Whitesnake albums, as well as his Manic Eden band, which released a superb self-titled album in 1994.

“The sound is rootsier. I even play acoustic slide on an open tuned song called “Woman Trouble Blues”. There are very few guitar overdubs on the new Whitesnake album and on a couple of times we didn’t even put a rhythm guitar underneath the solos.

And while Vandenberg was committed to Whitesnake, there was talk of a collaboration with John Waite in the future. But Vandenberg finished up with Whitesnake and went into hiatus, for almost 15 years until Vandenberg’s Moonkings brought him back into the public eye.

There was one more special interview with Vinnie Vincent and that one deserves a separate post.

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

The Pirate Vault #7

The little box of cassette tapes keeps bringing back some memories.

Guns N Roses mix and 7th Son of A 7th Son

The Gunners mix is a weird one, a combination of live tracks from B sides and “Use Your Illusion” tracks, along with “Patience” from the “Lies” EP.

I chucked in “Breaking The Law” from Judas Priest towards the end because the band I was in was covering it, and in the 90’s when we played the song, people thought it was our own song. Totally clueless to the songs origin or we played it that bad, they couldn’t recognize it.

And “So Tired” from Ozzy’s “Bark At The Moon” album is one of the best songs Ozzy has written with just one finger and a piano.

Side 2 has the excellent “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” album from the mighty Iron Maiden.

I remember sitting down and learning “Moonchild”, “Infinite Dreams”, “Can I Play With Madness”, “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” and my favourite track, “The Evil That Men Do”.

Living on the razors edge alright.

Savatage Mix and Fates Warning Mix

My cousin “Mega” is four years older and at this point in time, he had more money at his disposal and was devouring new music like a sumo having breakfast.

And I had the Savatage albums with Criss Oliva up to “Gutter Ballet” on LP and “Streets: A Rock Opera” on CD, but hadn’t heard “Edge Of Thorns” and then I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after his death with the next album, but upon hearing that Alex Skolnick from Testament was involved, I was interested.

As for Fates Warning, I had the first three albums on LP and Mega was purchasing all the CD’s after that.

So on a visit to his place, I spent some time listening and cherry picking songs to fill up a side over a few albums. I guess Apple was onto something with their iTunes Store.

The Savatage tracks are made up of “Edge Of Thorns” and “Handful Of Rain” tracks, while the Fates Warning tracks are made up of “Perfect Symmetry” and “Parallels” songs.

Guitars From Hell Part I and II

I don’t know why I selected that title for this mix tape.

Side 1

“Take Me For A Little While”

It’s one of my favourite cuts from the “Coverdale/Page” album, because it could have been a massive radio hit if it was shorter, but these two legends just kept going and the song ended up almost 7 minutes long.

“Song For Love”

Nuno Bettencourt has some real good guitar moments in this song and it’s here because of it.

“You Don’t Remember , I’ll Never Forget” and “Queen In Love”

I was having a Yngwie Malmsteen moment and these two songs are accessible and Malmsteen plays for the song, with stellar riffing and picking the right moment to break loose.

“Dr Rockter”, “Love Machine” and “Sleepin In The Fire”

WASP aka Blackie Lawless just knew how to satisfy the core. These 3 songs I can put em on, and never once do I think to press skip.

“Breaking The Chains”

I had overdosed on the Dokken albums from “Tooth N Nail” so I went back to the debut.

“Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Island In The Sun”

Did I mention I was having a Malmsteen moment?

These are tracks from the excellent and very underrated “Alcatrazz” band before Malmsteen went solo.

Notice the guitar heroes in the list on side 1. Jimmy Page, Nuno Bettencourt, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch and Chris Holmes/Blackie Lawless (bassist who moved to guitar). Maybe the whiskey swilling Holmes didn’t get as much attention, but he could play and he could party. Sort of like the underrated Robin Crosby from Ratt.

Side 2

“You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come” kicks it off, a cut written by Shaw and Blades for Vince Neil, but the guitar you hear is from Steve Stevens. And the solo break is worthy.

“Reason To Kill” has the excellent Al Pitrelli on guitar. It was released on “Blood And Bullets”, the excellent album from Dee Snider’s “Widowmaker” project.

“Outlaw” is from the pre Motley John Corabi fronted “The Scream” band.

“Devils Toy” is from the excellent “The Almighty” and it can be found on their “Soul Destruction” album.

“Stand Up And Fight” is from MARS, the supergroup project featuring Tony MacAlpine on guitars, Tommy Aldridge on drums, Rob Rock on vocals and Rudy Sarzo on bass.

“To Hell With The Devil” is one of my favourite cuts from the album of the same title and all those harmonies courtesy of Michael Sweet.

“Here I Go” is from “The Screaming Jets” a hard rock band from Australia. This song appears on their “Tear Of Thought” album. Guitarists, Grant Walmsley and Richard Lara really worked well together and nailed their parts, however credit needs to go to the main songsmith in bassist, Paul Woseen, who wrote the majority of songs for the band.

“Midnight/Tornado” is from the Skid Row debut. I always liked this song, but other songs got my attention early on, so I put it on a mix tape to overdose on it.

“Don’t Lie To Me” is another obscure Dokken cut that features some tasty work from George Lynch.

And to close, a Cinderella classic in “Don’t Know What You Got (Until It’s Gone)”.

And even on this list, you see a list of guitar heroes. Steve Stevens, Al Pitrelli, Bruce Bouillet, Ricky Warwick, Tony MacAlpine, Michael Sweet/Oz Fox, Grant Walmsley/Richard Lara, Dave Sabo/Scott Hill, George Lynch again and Tom Keifer/Jeff LeBar.

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Music, My Stories

C.C. DeVille – Guitar World September 1989 – Part 1

The below article (which I have re-typed in italics) was written by Brad Tolinski and it appeared in the Guitar World issue of September 1989.  

When Poison colleague Bret Michaels was asked to suggest an appropriate alternative career for the flamboyant C.C. DeVille, he immediately replied: “C.C. is obnoxious, so he’d be a great game show host.”

C.C. DeVille, I remember was the winner of the Worst Guitarist Polls in the Guitar mags back in the late eighties and early nineties.  When guitar playing got exposure via Shrapnell Records,  a new audience niche was born.  I called that niche, the Guitarist Elite.  This new niche hated guitarists like Mick Mars, C.C. DeVille, Scotti Hill, and many others from successful hard rock bands, as they where too sloppy and too safe (always referring to the Pentatonic scale).  The funny thing here is that this same elite revered Ace Frehley, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and other players that also had strong roots with the Pentatonic scale.

GW – Who are your favorite guitar players?
Jimmy Page.  Not because he’s trendy at the moment, but because when I was eighteen I thought he sucked.  I had to mature as a player to really appreciate him.  Youth never understands nuance or phrasing.  I initially hated all the great guitarists. The local players would say, “Dude, listen to this.”  They’d play some Page or Hendrix, but I wasn’t able to comprehend it.  I wanted to hear speed.  When you’re young you approach things from a different perspective.  There’s peer pressure to always burn and your emotional thing isn’t very developed.

I will admit that when i was starting off, I couldn’t get into Hendrix and Page.  Growing up in the Eighties, I loved the hard rock / glam scene.  At that time it was all about Warren DeMartini, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Eddie Van Halen, Mick Mars, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Sykes and David Mustaine (I actually like Megadeth first before i liked Metallica, and that was courtesy of Mega).   I didn’t get into Page and Hendrix until 1993.  That was when the Labels abandoned the eighties scene in favour of grunge.  I took that as a cue to delve deeper into the Seventies.

My next major influence would have to be Jeff Beck.  “Because We Ended As Lovers” off Blow By Blow is the pinnacle of confidence on a guitar.  It’s a brilliant example of the guitar as an emotional medium.

To be honest, C.C. is spot on here.  Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow album was another album that I explored in the nineties.  I remember reading a lot of interviews from Slash, where he talks the world of Jeff Beck.  Then he appears on Blaze Of Glory from Jon Bon Jovi.  Then he was set to appear with Guns N Roses on the song Locomotive, but didn’t because of a cymbal crash sending him partially deaf for a while.   I was interested and i wasn’t disappointed.  Try telling a current Metalcore guitarist that can sweep over eight strings and play a million tapped notes a minute to go and give Jeff Beck a listen.

Jimi Hendrix was amazing because he destroyed all conventional knowledge of what it meant to play guitar.  We all tend to play it safe.  If someone says a song is in A, we immediately jump to a familiar scale in that key.  Hendrix didn’t think that way, he just followed his own vision.  My favorite cut by him is Little Wing.

Again, my nineties “Seventies Boot Camp” began with Jimmy Page.  Hendrix was next.  Clapton was third.  Beck was fourth.  Tommy Bolin was fifth.  Paul Kossoff was sixth.  I was already aware of Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ace Frehley.  They where the big three for me originally.  Now it involves so many other great guitarists/songwriters like Steve Lukather from Toto, Ted Nugent, Neal Schon, Carlos Santana, Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and so many other’s.

I first heard Little Wing when Skid Row covered it.  Then I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version.  I liked the little differences between each.  Nothing can compare to Hendrix’s version.  Even the vocal line is sorrowful.  You can feel the sadness and the hope all rolled into one.

If guitar playing has turned into an athletic event, then Eddie Van Halen is the Olympic champion – he lit the flame.  Speed is a great thing to have when you need it and something I’m always trying hard to develop, but Edward is the master at using it properly.  You’d have to be a fool to deny his influence  on every rock player in this decade.  Eddie saved Rock N Roll.  In 1979 music was starting to head towards synthesizers and skinny ties, and Van Halen came out and made it very chic to play guitar.  He’s still the greatest.  You hear kids saying he’s not good anymore, but they can’t appreciate what a good songwriter he’s turned into.

This is true.  Rock N Roll was always in the scene, buried with the coming of disco and ignored with the movement into new wave.  Van Halen made it cool again to be a rock band.  They had the stiff middle finger raised and we all wanted to be part of that attitude.  They paved the way for the eighties destruction that was too come.

Another major influence was a guy named Lee Pickens who played with a band called Bloodrock in the early Seventies.  He was way ahead of his time.  It was lucky for me that my brother bought their record or I would  have never known about him.  My favorite track was something called Cheater.  One of the greatest solos of all time.

This is what we want as fans.  Musicians telling us their influences.  Cheater was on the second Bloodrock album.  From the 5.10 mark, Lee lets it burn.  Its melodic and its brilliant.  The cowboy style yeahs, just add to the climax.  Its the like the end of the world.  Apocalypse will happen when the song is over.  Check it out.  Just click on Cheater.

As I get older I understand that the guitar is not about showing off, it’s a conduit for emotion.  I’m a stylist, not a size of your penis type player.  Playing guitar is about music, it’s not a contest.

The Nineties made me re-evaluate what it is to be a guitar player.  When i started playing in the mid 80’s my main focus was rhythm.  Then when i picked up the Randy Rhoads Tribute album, my focus initially was on the wonderful RR riffs.  Then i started to delve into the leads.  The Nineties was a time with no bass player.  Due to that I had to adapt the way i write riffs so that i always had a bass note running, so that when we jammed a song, it sounded complete.  So the solo breaks ended up turning into riff driven breakdowns.

 

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