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

Forgotten 80s Part 4

I read an article about how a computer system was only shown how the pieces move in a chess game. Then the system was told to learn how to play the game. 24 hours later, the system had all the chess moves worked out and it was beating strong chess programs convincingly.

Then I watched the “Metalhead” episode from Black Mirror and then I read a story about how Nissan wants to create a car that reads your mind and it got me thinking of the original Terminator movie and suddenly I was in the mood for 80’s music.

So here is another list of forgotten songs from the era. Just click on the number for the previous Forgotten lists, one, two and three.

Better Days
Taking On The World
The Feeling Within
Gun

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal. With their debut album, GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands because that’s the only way the record labels knew how to promote music. Compare it to something else which is popular and hopefully you get 10% of that audience to buy blind. 30 years later, it’s still the only way record labels know how to promote music.

Better Days

The groove captures me instantly and the vocal melody is so far removed from the LA Sunset strip, it’s perfect.

Living in the same scene way too long
Everybody hopes that one of these days
Everything you want is gonna come your way
Everybody knows what they have to do
Everybody dreams like me and you

Dreaming and hoping is easy. Deciding how to make those dreams and hopes come true is hard because making decisions is exhausting. It means you need to investigate, analyse and most importantly take responsibility for making a decision. We all know what we need to do, but so few do it.

Things could be heaven but this feels like hell
So hold your head high cause you know I’d die
For better days

And sometimes, decisions made with good intent could end up going bad. It doesn’t mean it’s the end. It just means a re-calibration is necessary and further analysis is needed, because our dreams and hopes for better days, make us push through the worry and fear.

Taking On The World

The acoustic strumming sets the sombre tone, but it’s the vocal melody which is captivating. It’s unique and catchy.

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away
You’re taking on the world

Life is a process. You try things and you fail. You get into a relationship and you separate. In ten years’ time you would be using a technology that hasn’t been developed yet. The world evolves and you need to evolve with it, if you want to take it on.

And the lead break is full of thought out phrases that outline the chord progression under it.

The Feeling Within

The vocal tone of this song sounds like a cross between Jim Kerr (Simple Minds singer) and Michael Hutchence (INXS singer RIP).

You don’t know what silence means (you can pray for me)
You don’t know about shattered dream
You don’t know that I can’t run (you can set me free)
Set me free from the feeling within

Those lyrics in the brackets are sung by vocalist Mark Rankin’s cousin Sharleen Spiteri, of the band Texas.

Now Forever After
Stargazer
Kingdom Come

The most well-known version of the band only lasted two albums and one touring cycle. By the late 80’s the record labels didn’t care about artist development. It was all about platinum certifications. If the band got one, they had another shot. If they didn’t get one, they got dropped. Kingdom Come went platinum with their debut and their follow up didn’t set any sales record alight, even though it was better musically than the debut.

Musically, Kingdom Come had three sides. One side was the 70’s inspired classic rock of Led Zeppelin. The other side was the blues rock of AC/DC, while the third side was the Euro melodic rock inspired by Deep Purple, Scorpions and Rainbow combined with a little bit of Toto and Styx.

Now Forever After

“Now Forever After” is from the debut album released in 1988 and it falls into that melodic rock side of the band.

It’s now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
For better or worse
Until we die
Now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
Until the end of time

If only it’s true. Actually for some it is, for others it takes a few goes to get it right.

Stargazer

“Stargazer” is from “In Your Face” released in 1989. That keyboard intro which blends into the guitar lead just works brilliantly. This is another that falls into the Euro melodic rock side of the band.

Ooh, just to know what’s the reason for making us
Is what I would like to know

How did we come to be? So many theories out there, rooted in science and religion.

Stargazer
Live it out
Meet the Maker

Our ancestors looked to the stars for answers. Then they changed to religion. As humans got wiser they turned to nature and science for answers. Everything ends, including you and me. We thought we would live forever, but this proved to be untrue. And you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I Believe In You
Knock You Out
Hands Of Time
Y&T

For many, “Earthshaker” was a landmark album. In my opinion, it also became a major influence to any hard rock musician around the world who heard it. It you took all of the different rock stylings happening at the time, and put them into the Y&T blender, “Earthshaker” would be the result.

For Y&T, they were just happy to have a deal with A&M, after two albums on a different label who had had no clue what to do with the band. Coming into the album, Y&T had already played the songs live quite a bit, hence the reason why everyone who heard the album said, “wow, these songs would really work live”.

By 1981 bands didn’t really do ballads or power ballads. They did songs with slower tempos that just kept on building up to a huge ending.

I Believe In You

“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well along time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us, so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record; well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship so the song inspired itself more or less.”

Dave Meniketti

The music business is full of rip offs. There are so many stories of former managers claiming the rights on songs from artists written while they managed the artist, but released many years later, while the band had new management. So many people who contribute nothing to the Arts make money from the Arts.

Even record labels do it. They sign an artist and they will spend some money for the artist to record a demo. They might give the go ahead for the songs to be recorded for a release or they might not release them at all. If they are not released, the artist is in limbo. Ask Tom Keifer, Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner, just to name a few. And if they leave the label they need to buy back their songs at an extortionist fee the label sets themselves.

Your phony friends, they all counsel you
The things they say
Oh, you know aren’t true

Ahh, yes, who doesn’t have friends like these in our lives?

Breaking up with your partner is a lot more than just breaking up with one person. When a relationship ends, people take sides. Suddenly the friends you believed you had are not there anymore.

Knock You Out

How good is the riff that kicks off this song?

Up against the ropes
I’ve been there before
I’ve been hit by the best, but never hit the floor

Proving you’re at the best when you do it your way. Never forget that. You can make your own decision. Awards are irrelevant. It’s the art that remains. Y&T remain more relevant than some of their 80’s peers who achieved platinum sales. Y&T never did.

Hands Of Time

This appears on “Down For The Count” released in 1985. I swear that intro riff was used by Winger in “Headed For A Heartbreak” to platinum glory. Progress is derivative right.

Don’t be a prisoner of your memories
They steal from your future
And fill you with lies

Negative thinking stops us from taking action. And our tendency to attach an emotion to a past event is our biggest downfall.

‘Cause you can’t turn back the Hands Of Time

What is done, is done, so move forward because time keeps marching forward.

Abandon
Heartbreaker
Dare

Both songs are from the “Out Of The Silence” album released in 1988 on A&M records. Wikipedia tells me Dare was formed in 1985 by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton after Phil Lynott had dissolved the band. They had some success and when their second album “Blood From Stone” released in 1991 tanked in the sales department, the band was dropped.

Abandon

I can’t forget the things that you said to me

We rarely forget. We move on but we don’t forget. Actually, we can’t forget, because if we do forget, then how did we learn from those events.

I wish I could say that the rest of the song had some earth shattering lyrical message but it didn’t. A lot of the problems with the 80’s rock bands are the lyrics. Even Dare, coming from some experienced musicians couldn’t get decent lyrics written. Some people are good with words and others not so much. But the music is still good.

Heartbreaker

It’s got a riff that reminds me of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” merged with “Fantasy”.

She got no money and she got no pride
Don’t let her tell you she got nothing to hide
So full of passion with a wounded heart
I still remember when our love fell apart yeah
And when everything’s right, how could I be so wrong? so wrong?

While it was right for you, it was all wrong for the other half. They just haven’t had the courage to tell ya yet.

Lovers
Fate

It’s from the “Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ album released in 1988. A friend of mine had this album and he dubbed it on a blank cassette for me around 1992. I knew nothing of the band back then and I still don’t know anything about the band today, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for a derivative and clichéd melodic rock song and as soon as the Aldo Nova “Fantasy” influence kicked the song off, I was hooked.

Future World
We Came To Rock
Yellow Rain
Loud’N’Proud
Rodeo
Pretty Maids

They should have had more mainstream success. Not sure if the band name helped their chances or hindered them.

Future World

It’s the title song of their 1987 album.

Oh future world
There’s nothing left to save
They blew it all away

We will in troubled times and even more so today where “stable geniuses” are in power.

In troubled times
We saw the writing on the wall
We heard the fools
Who brought the human race to fall?

The human race always suffers because of a few individuals. Released in 87, this would have been referencing the Cold War between the US and USSR. Today, it’s the US vs North Korea. Leaders out of touch with reality and the people they claim to support and serve.

We Came to Rock

It’s from the “Future World” album and it’s one of those clichéd songs about going to the rock and roll show and joining the cavalcade.

If you’re feeling out of nowhere
If you got no place to go
If you’re feeling lost and lonely
When you’re down the open road

The heavy metal community is the most loyal and there is always a place for you and everyone else.

We are the faces
We are the guardians of the night
We’ll rock the ages
It’s all right
We’ve seen the fire
We are defenders of your rights
We’ll take you higher
Gonna take you to the sky

It’s easy to say in words that you are a defender of our rights, but only Dee Snider went to the US Senate hearings and defended the rights of US metal head citizens. It cost him dearly at the time, but today, he’s seen as the defender he set out to be in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Yellow Rain

Also from “Future World” and this one references Vietnam. Musically it starts off acoustically, like Gary Moore’s “Victims Of The Future” before it becomes a speed metal song.

Left home as heroes
Fools when they returned
Blamed for all the damage
And the villages they burned
Betrayed by their leaders
Murderers they were called
Denounced as crazy maniacs
And locked behind the walls

It was the first war that was all over TV and the prime time news. Everyone saw the burning children, the napalm bombs and Agent Orange. And the poor soldiers didn’t come home to a ticker tape parade. They came home in pieces, mentally and physically.

Loud’N’Proud

It’s also from “Future World” and it wouldn’t be out of place on the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

Gonna hit this town tonight
Let your troubles out of sight
Scream out, spread the word around
Get all up and stand your ground

Again, it’s all about going to the rock and roll show, being part of community and don’t let institutions get in your way of living out your dreams.

Rodeo

Also from “Future World”

I was born and raised on the street
I grew up in a jungle of stone

Like all of us. All social circles have become concrete jungles.

I walked my own directions
For fortune and fame

The ones, who made it, walk their own path and the ones who follow might make it, but they don’t last.

Life is a rodeo
Somebody makes it
Somebody don’t
And even though
You feel like losing
Don’t ever let it go

It’s the unwritten rule of life. Never give up, keep on going. From when we are born, we fight for every breath, for every step, every single day.

And sometimes when I came to a crossroad

Should I stick to the left or the right?

We always try to make the best decision with the information we have at the point in time. It might be right, it might be wrong, but we still make it. Because we need to.

Under The Gun
Turn It On
Danger Danger

For a band formed in 1987, they had Al Pitrelli on guitar for a brief time, then after they got a recording contract, Pitrelli left and was replaced by Saraya guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey (who actually played on the debut album) before returning to Saraya and Andy Timmons replaced him and played on the rest of their debut album, which was released in the same year.

Under The Gun

From the debut album released in 1989 and its the same lyrical theme as “Runaway” and “Fallen Angel”. But musically and melodically it’s addictive.

Turn It On

Also from the debut and the guitar playing from Andy Timmons is what hooks me. The way he colours each bar with arpeggios, power chords, palm-muted pedal tones and double stop inversions is brilliant.

Long Way From Home
Angel In My Heart
Britny Fox

Carbon copy of Cinderella, Britny Fox formed in 1986 in Philadelphia. In fact, the band had former members of Cinderella in its roster and their connections to Cinderella allowed the band to secure a major recording contract.

Long Way From Home

The debut album is not on Spotify, however the follow-up “Boys in Heat” released in 1989 is.

My love’s with you always, oh yeah.
Long way from home.

On the road is a killer. You are away from friends and family and the band mates are suddenly not as likeable as you thought they were when you saw em only a few hours a day for practice.

Angel In My Heart

Also from “Boys in Heat”, it’s a simple hooky song.

Misery Loves Company
Nobody Knows
Hard Luck
Letters In The Rain
Lillian Axe

Formed in 1987, they caught the attention of Ratt’s management which led to a record deal with MCA and Ratt’s Robbin Crosby producing the band’s first album, Lillian Axe.

As Wikipedia tells me, neither the debut nor the 1989 follow-up, “Love + War”, met commercial expectations and the group was quickly dropped.

Misery Loves Company

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

The intro riff is a derivative version of “Breaking The Chains” from Dokken.

The poor get nothing while the rich get fat
Start living good, the I.R.S. takes that
I kinda wonder if there’s really any good at all, at all

While the rich pay nothing and hide their billions in offshore tax havens.

Nobody Knows

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

Nobody knows when there’s clouds in the skies
When there are tears in your eyes
Nobody knows when you’re hurting so bad
So what if they had?

Exactly. So what if people knew how bad your hurting or how low your feeling. What can they do to change it? How people deal with pain and disappointment is very subjective. Each person has their own unique way of overcoming obstacles.

Hard Luck

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988. The lyrics are forgettable, but the music and melodies work.

Letters in the Rain

From the follow up, “Love + War”, released in 1989, the lyrics deal with a person reading letters his ex-partner left in the rain, and after being heartbroken for so long, he finally moves on, only to have the ex-partner return asking for a second chance. But the music and melodies are cool.

The Right To Rock
United Nations
King Of The Rock
Don’t Say You Love Me
Keel

The rock is strong with Keel.

The Right To Rock

Released in 1985, it’s the title track.

All my life I’ve been fighting
For the right to make my stand

So what happened? How did we go from fighting and making a stand, to not caring?

Don’t internet users in the U.S care about net neutrality?

Don’t people in Australia care about the power corporations have with the courts and our leaders?

Don’t let anyone tell you
How to live your life

But they do tell us how to live our lives. If you have a credit card, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. If you have a mortgage, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. God forbid if you are late. If you have are employed, you are told how to live your live every single day, just so you get that fortnight or monthly pay into your account.

‘Cause it’s our way of life
I’m fighting for freedom
For the golden rule
The right to say what I feel

But we are too scared to say what we feel in case we get ravaged by the social media righteous police.

United Nations

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

We are the new generation
We got the inspiration
We’re feelin’ strong so spread the news
The youth of every nation
Will make this declaration
This is the way of life we choose
Together we will rock
Forever we will roll

We thought hard rock would last forever but it didn’t. All great empires fall, and rock was no different.

And someday we will rise
To take control

1986 was the year metal and rock took control.

We are united nations
Under the flag of rock and roll
We are united nations
United we will stand

If only we remained united, but we didn’t.

King Of The Rock

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

In the arena is the kingdom I call home
This coliseum is my dome, whoa!
I make my own rules, I call the shots
I’m not afraid of you and I’ll fight for what I’ve got

By 1987, we had moved on. The call to arms about the rock and roll show got old.

This concrete battleground is where I’ll make my stand
If you’re with me, raise your hands

We had splintered by now. Metallica went on tour with James Hetfield having a sticker on his guitar that said something like “Kill Bon Jovi”. Mustaine called Queensryche “Yuppie metal”. Any artist that introduced keyboards or had keyboard players got labelled as sell-outs. Any artist that brought in outside writers also got labelled sell-outs. The label marketing machine was in overdrive creating new genres. We had Glam Rock, Pop Metal, and Glam Metal.

We had hard rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and pop rock. We had thrash metal and speed metal. We had heavy metal and technical metal and progressive metal. Death metal was becoming a thing. Europe was having their own thing happening with power metal, progressive classical metal, folk metal and the embers of a black metal scene were beginning.

In the states, hard core was a thing and when it became heavy, grindcore became a genre. Punk was just punk, once upon a time. Then it became post punk, punk rock, punk metal and punk pop.

It’s like that scene in “The Warriors” with Cyrus trying to unite the gangs. It didn’t end well.

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The Swagger of GUN

As I have mentioned before, GUN are way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.

In the beginning GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands. Then with the death of that movement, they sat in limbo land in relation to genres and from a label point of view this was not good, as the labels love to group/tag artists as part of a genre and the press would like to report it like that.

Coming in to 1994, GUN needed to make a statement. After a well-received debut album in “Taking On The World” that established a cult following, the follow-up “Gallus” didn’t set the world on fire in relation to sales and back in 1992, sales was the barometer of success. Before the release of “Swagger” GUN was getting a reputation as a band that focused more on social issues. Look at some of the themes running through the songs from their last two albums.

But I was taught that there’s a time in your life
When you’ve got to stand proud
So tell me don’t you think that it’s time we put an end to it all
—“Better Days”.

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away
You’re taking on the world
—“Taking On The World”

I’m sick of this world and it’s greed for gold
I’m sick and tired of being bought and sold
—“Steal Your Fire”

Some people lie for it, some people die for it
Some people risk their lives and do time for it
—“Money To Burn”

And I say life is like a long road
With open arms we walk this long road
—“Long Road”

Swagger was released in 1994 and to great success.

How could that be?

Because the band didn’t fit the conventions of the now defunct hard rock and glam rock movement. The band also didn’t fit the conventions of the Seattle sound.

They fitted the conventions of a rock band. It is that simple. It is that pure. And it was a rocked up version of an R&B Funk hit from 1986 by Cameo that connected.

“Word Up”

Who would have thought that a cover of an R&B/Funk song from 1986 would prove to be so popular. When Korn covered it, they more or less copied this version.

“Don’t Say It’s Over”

Reminds of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” merged with The Cult merged with Bon Jovi’s “Hey God”. When you have a song that does that to you, it means that the song has formed a connection with you on more than one level.

“Crying Over You”

Melodic rock at its best. It’s written by Giuliano Gizzi, Dante Gizzi and Mark Rankin. It sounds like Rankin is throws his voice out in singing the chorus.

The first 3 albums, “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger” are the career albums. No shredding or weird time signatures. Just an honest, arse kicking album with gutsy vocals and prominent guitars.

However, the line-up changes kept on coming. In this case, guitarist Rob Dickson left before the release of “Swagger” to join Bruce Dickinson’s solo band. Drummer Scott Shields also left before the release of “Swagger” with Mark Kerr brother of Jim Kerr from Simple Minds replacing Shields on drums. Music is a relationship business and GUN benefited from a lot of relationships.

0141 632 6326

Released in 1997. Three years is a long time in the music business. Especially in the mid-nineties and especially after the success of a cover song.

Radiohead released “O.K Computer”.

Blur, Third Eye Blind, Days Of The New and Sevendust all released their self titled albums.

The Verve released “Urban Hymns”.

The Offspring released “Inxay On The Hombre”.

Live released “Secret Samadhi”.

Collective Soul released “Disciplined Breakdown”.

Foo Fighters released “The Colour and the Shape”.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd released “Trouble Is…”.

Creed released “My Own Prison” and Megadeth released “Cryptic Writings”.

In order to compete, the album needed to be strong. It needed to be very strong and instead it was a weak affair. The only song that makes the cut is “Always Friends”.

And then they were gone.

Break The Silence

Released in 2012. A long time passed. Front man Mark Rankin isn’t part of the band and since GUN reformed, the line-up has constantly changed. First it was Little Angels vocalist Toby Jepson as the new singer and after six months, bassist Dante Gizzi was left to pick up the microphone stand.

In the end it is an inconsistent album with two gems.

“Break the Silence”

It is a worthy addition to the GUN history. It has this new modern rock touch, ala, Kings Of Leon merged with Coldplay and GUN has still kept it in the roots of classic rock.

“Last Train”

It’s got this Seventies feel ala David Bowie and Rolling Stones.

And with that, here is my playlist of a super album from GUN. No album filler there.

1. Money To Burn
2. Better Days
3. Word Up
4. Long Road
5. Don’t Say It’s Over
6. Break The Silence
7. Taking On The World
8. Inside Out
9. Crying Over You
10. Always Friends
11. Feeling Within
12. Last Train

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Gun: Daringly Release A Classic Rock Album called Gallus in 1992.

It’s 1992 and the only terms on people’s lips are Metallica, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Grunge, Seattle, Vince Neil leaving/fired from Motley Crue and Mr Big.

And then you have this rock band from Scotland called GUN releasing a straight-ahead hard rock album that had more roots in the Seventies era than the dying Eighties era.

Other acts from the late eighties that released an album or two, either called it a day or tweaked their sound to be more “grunge-like”.

With an album cover featuring, Benny Lynch, who was Scotland’s first boxing World Champion and who also remained undefeated throughout his career, “Gallus” was a defiant record. Serving as Gun’s second album, they let the music do the talking. The lyrical themes didn’t stray too much from the debut and like its predecessor, it is loaded with a shitload of attitude and energy. By not adopting certain American Glam looks, instead focusing on a general functional casual dress sense, also helped the band survive the big cull.

When the Rock’N’Roll history is written by the Whiggish winners, Gun will be relegated to a mere footnote. But their presence at a time when everyone was selling out to become mainstream darlings was a welcomed relief.

“Steal Your Fire”

It’s got this “AC/DC” meets “The Cult” attitude in the verse and chorus, while the Pre-Chorus has this INXS vibe. It’s a blend of rock’n’roll that is so distant from the LA Glam Rock scene however I love that Dokken “It’s Not Love” vibe after the solo section.

(You better listen to me while you can)
I’m sick of this world and it’s greed for gold
(It can never be the same again)
I’m sick and tired of being bought and sold
(There’s nothing left I’ve taken everything)
Life’s a gamble, nothing’s sure
(Why don’t you face it you can never win)
I can see it for the first time

Sounds like the recording business right there.

Greed came from the high profit margins that the CD was bringing in. Remember when CD’s came into effect the record labels explained that the high prices had to do with the start up costs of getting the CD warehouses and machinery operational and in time the prices would reduce.

Yep they sure didn’t.

“Money To Burn”

I love the “When The Levee Breaks” groove in this song. Progress is derivative is the catch cry.

“Some people lie for it, some people die for it,
Some people risk their lives and do time for it”

The real message coming out in 1991 and 1992 was the same. Skid Row said that we can’t be kings of the world if we are slaves to the grind. And why are we slaves to the grind. Because we were led to believe that we need money.

Metallica said that new blood is quickly subdued, learning the rules of life the hard way. Why are newborns disciplined this way? It’s because they need to learn that money rules the game.

Gun was saying that we shouldn’t focus too much on the attainment of money, as it is just there, purely to be spent (aka burnt).

(In the end all we are)
Is just a face in a crowded street
(In the end all we are)
Is just a soul on the open road
(In the end all we are)
Is just a pawn in a losing game
(In the end all we are)
One world that’s got money to burn

Aint nobody said it any better than that. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many dollars or zeroes sit in a persons bank account. Money is there to be earned and lost. When judgement happens, we are all just faces in the crowd.

“Long Road”

The tone of the vocals just resonate. It’s got that powerful “Jeff Martin/Tea Party” kind of tone vocally and the music is very melodic, like Def Leppard.

And I say life is like a long road
With open arms we walk this long road

“Welcome to the Real World”

“I see the poor man left with nothing, the rich man wanting more
And I ask myself a question, saying “What the hell are we living for?”

Again, the catch cry of the early nineties. Australia was coming out of Recession at this time and I tell ya, it was tough. My dad still held onto his job at BHP Steel, however my brother didn’t and it was my brother who had a mortgage to pay off when the interest rate hit over 15%.

With the expectations placed onto the band after the cult like success of “Taking On The World”, “Gallus” didn’t really break through like the record label hoped and it more or less sank like a stone until the success of their next album, “Swagger” got people re-interested in “Gallus”. Adding to the disruption, was the constant line up changes.

“Taking On the World” from 1989 had the following credited lineup;

Mark Rankin on vocals, Guliano Gizzi on guitar, Stephen “Baby” Stafford on guitar, Dante Gizzi on bass and Scott Shields on drums.

By 1990, the line up changed with Stafford out and Dickson in. This line up would go on to record the “Gallus” album.

Mark Rankin on vocals, Guliano Gizzi on guitar, Alex Dickson on guitar, Dante Gizzi on bass and Scott Shields on drums.

And it would change again. But that story is for another day.

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GUN – Taking On The World

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.

In the beginning GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands, however GUN had way more substance. Way more character.

Coming from Scotland, they didn’t conform to the LA Sunset Strip scene. The songs didn’t focus on “Cherry Pies” or “Slipped Her The Big One”. They didn’t focus on spelling Rock, ROK. They didn’t have to compete with any band in the scene for the fastest licks and biggest hair.

Instead they focused on their own brand of rock’n’roll. And their lyrical themes didn’t deal with the usual rubbish that the hard rock bands started to serve towards the end of the decade.

When the band first came together in 1987, it called itself “Phobia” and played Metallica style thrash-metal.

Eventually the style went to a melodic rock style.

And that wasn’t an easy feat to achieve. A rock band from Glasgow, Scotland in the late eighties was very rare. They were the only guitar-orientated rock band in an area dominated by synthesizer dance bands. Even Radio didn’t play rock music at that time, and the ones that did normally stuck to bands like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns N Roses, etc.

This depressing dance scene would have destroyed other rock groups, however not the members of GUN. They proved to be resilient. No one expected them to do anything with their music careers. They didn’t have the right contacts and they didn’t have any radio support.

From low expectations, GUN became leaders of the Scottish rock revival. That is what makes their debut album even more special. “Taking On The World” has got the story of “backs against the wall” attitude.

After being signed, the group was offered a chance to record in London with Mick Ralphs (Bad Company) as producer. They went in but didn’t like the completed tracks and spent more time back in Glasgow, re-recording the album again by themselves. Ballsy move that a lot of other bands would never have made.

Taking On The World

Released in 1989 on A&M Records at a time when A&M was negotiation ink on a sale deal to Polygram Records. It was a chaotic time and so far removed from business as usual. The Record Label business was going through another consolidation process as takeovers and mergers happened left, right and centre during this time.

The industry was starting to see greater profits from compact discs and since their introduction in 1983, the prominent record companies had been completely or partially acquired by large media companies vying to expand their market share.

GUN’s debut album was also released at a time when the musical landscape was chaotic and changing.

A&M in 1989 released “Louder Than Love” from Soundgarden. It also released the debut album from Extreme and in the following 12 months released “Pornograffitti”. Hard Rock band “Giant” released “Last of the Runaways” also in 1989 and on A&M. Marketing dollars in 1989 could break a band to the masses or make them go unnoticed.

Competition was also fierce amongst other bands. Skid Row released their debut album. Danger Danger and Warrant also released their debut albums. Then you had the following releases to also compete against;

After the War – Gary Moore
The Great Radio Controversy – Tesla
Alannah Myles – Alannah Myles
Sonic Temple – The Cult
…Twice Shy – Great White
The Headless Children – W.A.S.P.
Blue Murder – Blue Murder
Full Moon Fever – Tom Petty
Badlands – Badlands
Trash – Alice Cooper
The Real Thing – Faith No More
The End Of Innocence – Don Henley
Mr Big – Mr Big
Dr Feelgood – Motley Crue
Storm Front – Billy Joel
Hot In The Shade – Kiss
Slip Of The Tongue – Whitesnake
…But Seriously – Phil Collins

However, not to be deterred, GUN is the definition of resilience. You can hear the “Born To Run” lyrical influence in vocalist Mark Rankin. The “resilient, get somewhere on your own and don’t let anybody else run your life” theme.

Add to that the AC/DC meets Def Leppard hard-rock guitar of Guiliano Gizzi, and you get a feel for what GUN is trying to accomplish.

In Australia it was obvious that the label and the radio stations thought that no one would be interested in an album like this. It got no exposure whatsoever.

“Better Days”

It’s co-written by lead guitarist Guiliano Gizzi and vocalist Mark Rankin.

Read a story in the paper last night people living in fear
It’s easy saying nothing it’s easy just to watch things fall
But I was taught that there’s a time in your life
When you’ve got to stand proud
So tell me don’t you think that it’s time we put an end to it all

Things could be heaven but this feels like hell
So hold your head high cos you know I’d die
For better days

It’s easy to keep our mouths shut. Less involvement in situations equals less complications.

However, ignorance is never bliss. Eventually someone will have to deal with the situation.

Look at all the Copyright and piracy issues today. The public didn’t really care about what laws got passed or if terms got extended. However, when the Copyright extremists started pushing for laws like SOPA and PIPA and it involved peoples’ freedoms, internet access and privacy, something amazing happened.

PEOPLE GOT TOGETHER ON-LINE AND STOOD PROUD, PREPARED TO FIGHT FOR BETTER DAYS.

“Feelin Within”

It’s got this Michael Hutchence vocal style.

What’s lost, nothing’s gained
Eye to eye in the city rain
I’m fighting in a war I can never ever win
The pain that pleasure brings leaves you cold, skin on skin

Ain’t that the truth. We knew about love from music. It is a love song, however it steered away from the normal hard/glam rock cliches.

“Taking On The World”

You’re holding out your hand, are you falling?
You’re talking to yourself, nobody’s there
There’s a burning in your heart like a hunger
There’s something on your mind, nobody cares

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away

You’re taking on the world

1989 was the last year from the decade of greed. It was a decade of the corporations taking control of the music industry. It was a decade of radio becoming beholden to the advertisers and the PR firms, putting profits in front of music and culture. And to me “Taking On The World” captures that mood and feeling of 1989. Change was a coming.

In a Kerrang interview with Derek Oliver, singer Mark Rankin said the following;

“Before the ball started to roll we couldn’t get record company interest at all. I really sympathise with any up and coming band because it’s really hard knocking your head against a brick wall trying to get people to listen. Very soul-destroying indeed. We worked hard and got a break.”

That was 1989.

Has anything really changed for any new up and coming band in 2014. They still need to knock their head against a brick wall trying to get people to listen.

Music is a lifer game. Nothing has changed for a band trying to make it.

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