Music, My Stories

The Record Vault – Bulletboys

They had the album covers down, especially the “Freakshow” one. I said to myself if the songs are crap at least the cover is worth keeping.

The debut dropped in 1988 and “Hard As A Rock” kicked it off. Which was okay.

“Smooth Up In Ya” is pretty cool musically and melodically. But the lyrics and title certainly got a lot of attention. And at almost 5 million streams on Spotify, it’s their hit.

The best song is “F#9” And it’s buried deep in the album. This one sounds a lot like something Jake E Lee wrote for Ozzy. Crank it and listen to the riff.

And I wasn’t sure what to make of the first album. It had some nice riffage scattered throughout like “Crank Me Up” and “Hell On My Heels”. But overall, there wasn’t enough.

But I gave em one more chance because of the cover.

So“Freakshow” was released in 1991. And I listened and I moved onto the next song and I listened and I kept moving onto the next song.

Then “Say Your Prayers” started and I was tapping my foot at the riff, but the vocal melody just didn’t capture me. So I listened.

And when I was done listening I knew that I wouldn’t be going back to Bulletboys.

And I heard that Motley Crue were auditioning Marq Torien on vocals and I was curious to hear how that would sound because with a bit of assistance in the lyrical department and the melody department, well, anything is possible.

But it didn’t eventuate. And that was that.

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

The Record Vault – Black Roses Soundtrack

“Trick Or Treat” and “Black Roses” played on the fears of the bible belters. This fear, that rock and roll music and now heavy metal music was causing kids to commit suicide and live disobedient and decadent lives led to fertile story telling in film.

I didn’t see “Black Roses” or know about it or purchase the soundtrack until sometime between 94 and 96 even though it came out in 1988.

I purchased the LP first and then many years later, I didn’t know that I had the LP, so I purchased the CD for it.

So in the movie, a heavy metal band named “Black Roses” turns a sleepy towns kids into rockers first and secretly into demonic monsters.

Wikipedia mentions how the soundtrack features many prominent bands at the time such as King Kobra, Tempest, Hallow’s Eve, Lizzy Borden among others. I wouldn’t say prominent but hey the past is always rewritten to suit a narrative.

But the reason why I wanted to hear the album is because of guitarist Alex Masi who had a lot of advertisements running in the guitar magazines when his “Attack Of The Neon Shark” album came out in 1989, plus he got a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Rock Album.

But then again, I’m not sure if getting a Grammy is a good thing when it comes to metal and rock music, because, Jethro Tull did get an award over Metallica and then recently, the Grammy sound people played “Master Of Puppets” when Megadeth got the award. Ouch.

Anyway, the Black Roses band is Carmine Appice on drums, Mick Sweda on guitars, Chuck Wright on bass and Mark Free on vocals with Alex Masi assisting on some guitar tracks.

And because we didn’t have the internet to research stuff, I found out that Masi only played the Rhythm’s after purchasing the album.

Damn, No Leads. That was Mick Sweda.

But when I heard the songs, Sweda was never known for having sweep picking in his repertoire of licks, and when you go deep into the credits of each song, you see that Masi is the shredder on the songs from the band titled Black Roses/Masi.

Anyway, lets unpack this soundtrack (which is not on Spotify), but hey YouTube has it. By the way, there is a user called DannyWaysted who has a lot of 80’s album on the account. Some very obscure favourites of mine. Check it out. Just search for the user name.

“Dance on Fire” kicks off the album and it is from the Black Roses band. The riff is derivative, basic and nothing original. But it’s still a good listen.

The next track “Soldiers of the Night” is mentioned as Black Roses/Masi. This song could have appeared on a Manowar album. The difference that production makes to a song is huge. In a Manowar environment, it would have sounded metal, cranked to a Spinal Tap’ish’ 11. In the hands of lesser mortals, it sounds like a pop rock song with keyboards with a catchcry of raising our fists forever high.

Then we get a song “I’m No Stranger” from an underrated hard rock group in Bang Tango. This song rocks.

There was something about Bang Tango that I liked. I once said to a friend that the band takes something from Motley Crue, Y&T, Guns N Roses, Ratt, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Poison and puts them in a blender. That’s Bang Tango to me.

The Black Roses/Masi version is back with “Rock Invasion”. Of course the song is going to kick off with a lot of shred from Masi. And the chorus is derivative, but hey, rock did really invade the masses in the 80’s.

There is this cool bass and drum groove from Carmine Appice and Chuck Wright in the middle when Masi gets a chance to play with his whammy and force out a million notes in 20 seconds.

And Black Roses closes off Side 1 with the ballad “Paradise (We’re on Our Way)”.

And it reminds me of those Stan Bush ballads he did for various movies.

Now Stan Bush was an 80’s movies voice. Who can forget “The Touch” which basically is another derivative version of “Jump”?

The lead break from Mick Sweda is emotional and perfect, but the star on this song is Mark Free, known since 1993 as Marcie Free, who delivers a vocal hero performance. And if you want to know which band does music like this today, look no further than Revolution Saints.

Lizzy Borden’s, “Me Against the World” kicks off side 2 and it’s basically “Rock N Roll’s Gonna Save The World” from Y&T done in Lizzy’s way. I never got into Lizzy Borden and I don’t why, because I do like this song. Especially the harmony solo section. If you haven’t heard it, find the song on YouTube and crank it. It rivals the harmony solo from “Round and Round” by Ratt.

“Take It Off” from King Kobra is okay. I always gave King Kobra a chance because Johnny Edwards is one hell of a vocalist.

The only time I’ve seen and heard of David Michael-Phillips is via this soundtrack. “King of Kool” is the song. And it’s AC/DC in the verses with a melodic rock style chorus attached. But in the end, I kept thinking of Britny Fox and I couldn’t bite.

Tempest with “Streetlife Warrior” is up next and it was the first time I heard the band. That 10 second intro had me interested, the verses lost me, and the chorus really lost me, then that brief melodic lead after the chorus had me interested again. So I listened through the verses and chorus again to see what else they could do instrumentally. But I didn’t commit any further than this song on the soundtrack.

The NWOBHM was alive and well with Hallow’s Eve and their song “D.I.E.”.

Even early Metallica was alive and well in Hallow’s Eve.

I really liked this song and I have no idea why I didn’t go deeper into their catalogue in the mid 90’s when I got this soundtrack. There are lyrical themes like don’t live your life worrying about things you can’t stop (in this instance it’s about death) because if you give into your fears, you became a slave to them.

D.I.E
Death in effect…..

And that’s it, the “Black Roses” soundtrack is a wrap….

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Influenced, Music, My Stories

Hair Metal

There is no doubt that artists who played the Strip had a certain dominance on the charts until a new sound from up the Pacific coast, washed em away. And when people started to write about the 80’s, there was nothing positive said. All of these new indie writers tried to re-write history in favour of their preferred musical taste and all they wrote about was the bad hair, the bad music, the lipstick and hairspray, the bad hair again, the lifestyles, the bad hair again x2 and the bad music again.

Would “Guitar Hero” have existed if it wasn’t for the 80’s?

Van Halen is one of the first bands that I know that came from the Strip, more because they played up and down the Strip like crazy instead of living on the Strip. And even though they had long hair, it wasn’t teased and hair sprayed and glammed up. Only David Lee Roth would take that on, even though the poster boy look upset the Van Halen brothers. When the band became Van Hagar, they still had a down to earth look, with Sammy even wearing an interesting red outfit.

Motley Crue is the first prominent band to came from the Strip, living and breathing it. While “Too Fast For Love” was done independently with songs written before the Crue was formed, it wasn’t until “Shout At The Devil” hit the streets, that the sound of the strip was born.

The generic sounding “Shout At The Devil” sets up the “Shout” call and response vocal, while “Looks That Kill” pulverises you with its down tuned riff and razor sharp women ready to slice the little boys apart. Even “Helter Skelter” sounds like it came from the Strip, instead of the clubs of Liverpool, England. In “Ten Seconds To Love” Vince is telling his girl to wait a little bit more, because here he comes and how he can’t wait to tell the boys about her, while she shines his pistol a little bit more.

Glam metal then left the Sunset Strip and moved to Sheffield England and an album called “Pyromania” from Def Leppard.

From the opening notes of the AC/DC influenced “Rock Rock (Til You Drop)”, to the harmonies of “Photograph” and “Rock Of Ages”, to the grooves of “Billy’s Got A Gun” and “Die Hard The Hunter”, Def Leppard changed the game. They brought the sounds of the NWOBHM, mixed em with AC/DC, Queen, The Sweet and Mott The Hoople and suddenly, the glam hair sound is developing even further.

The glam sounds returned to the Sunset Strip and a band called RATT took over with a song called “Round and Round” from “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984.

It’s got streets, where people meet, to cross lines and get into fights. And we loved it, even though the chorus of “love finding a way” didn’t really match the threatening verses of picking a fight. The Rat gang also got a mention in “Wanted Man” and my favourite track, “The Morning After” comes roaring out of the speaker.

WASP is another Sunset act, which was thrown in with glam, but to me, that’s like placing Motorhead as a glam act as well. Then again, with songs like “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)” and “L.O.V.E Machine”, they got traction and Tipper Gore added the band to her filthy list.

At the same time, a band that played the New Jersey/New York State area for a decade broke big with big hair and a glam rock look from the 70’s and film clips about standing up for your rights, like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock”.

And the term hair band and glam metal got even messier.

Poison moved to the Sunset Strip, dragged the cat in, played dirty and screamed for action with their 1986 debut album, and their 1988 follow up “Open Up And Say Ahh” cemented big hair.

Bon Jovi showed how slippery it really gets when things get wet and “New Jersey” in 1988 further cemented the big hair look.

Suddenly, we had Skid Row going wild with their big guns, looking for a piece of everyone. Def Leppard poured even more sugar on their sound with “Hysteria” and finally, a bunch of highly strung musicians got it together to write and record an album called “Appetite For Destruction”.

You know where you are, you’re in the jungle baby, and that jungle proved so easy to please, with cheap booze on the Nighttrain, while talking to Mr Brownstone on our way to the Paradise City.

Regardless of what you think of the music from these artists, or how you want to label them, this form of rock and roll was loud, in your face and it didn’t really care what you thought, sort of like how Axl said, if you think your so cool, you can just fuck off.

The journal that inspired this post.

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