It’s the last studio album by James Gang, released in 1976. Joe Walsh was 5 years into his Eagles slot and the band had continued on with a variety of line-up changes.
Their first album in 1969 was recorded as a power trio consisting of Joe Walsh (guitars, lead vocals), Tom Kriss (bass), and Jim Fox (drums). One of my favourite guitarists Tommy Bolin recorded two albums with the Gang called “Bang!” (released in 1973) and “Miami” (released in 1974) before he accepted the Deep Purple offer.
Only drummer Jim Fox remains. This album is the only one recorded with lead guitarist Bob Webb and keyboardist Phil Giallombardo. Giallombardo was in the Gang’s first ever line up with Fox, however he had left prior to the recording of their first album.
The cover features an atmospheric painting of the folk hero riding off into the sunset, an image which fans had identified as evidence that the band had known this album to be its last.
The players on this album are Bob Webb on guitars and lead vocals on three tracks, Phil Giallombardo on keyboards and lead vocals on the other 6 tracks, Dale Peters on bass guitar and Jim Fox on drums.
I Need Love
Written by keyboardist and co-vocalist Phil Giallombardo.
A simple syncopated bass and kick drum groove starts off the song. It’s almost funky but I feel like its hard rock.
The vocal melodies are overused.
Some of the critics said that the playing is uninspired but these guys can play and groove as evidenced here.
Written by guitarist and co-vocalist Bob Webb. It’s a typical 70’s cut, with a dreamy acoustic guitar shimmering with some emotive leads that remind me of “While My Guitar Gently Sleeps”.
Written by the band, it’s also the most streamed track at 196,915 streams on Spotify. Press play to hear the lead break.
Written by Phil Giallombardo, it’s a piano ballad with strings and this song feels like a bad Hollywood movie soundtrack, and it doesn’t connect at all.
Written by Bob Webb and I like the rhythm and groove of the blues. It’s almost metal and its forgotten at 46,590 streams on Spotify.
Written by Andrew Gold who was an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He played on a lot of albums from other artists and wrote songs for artists as well. He died in 2011 at age 59 from heart failure.
It’s is an overused title.
The piano is back again, so far removed from the funk and blues of what the band was known for.
It’s a skip for me.
Pick Up The Pizzas
An instrumental track written by Bob Webb. A terrible title for one of the best riffs on the album. Press play and enjoy another forgotten track.
Stealin’ The Show
When Bob Webb writes a track there is guitar on it. On this one the acoustic guitar is back and Bad Company comes to mind.
When I Was A Sailor
The closer, at 6 plus minutes long and written by keyboardist Phil Giallombardo. This song is more Styx than James Gang.
The album is forgotten, with most songs being streamed less than 50,000 times. Especially when you compare those numbers to the Joe Walsh penned tunes like “Funk #49” with 47.382 million streams on Spotify and “Walk Away” with 29.297 million streams.
In the end, this album is just a bunch of musicians who wanted a record deal. Unfortunately for them, it was under the name of James Gang, which would always be known as Joe Walsh’s band, even though he wasn’t a founder. But the label still saw value in the project, however they also pulled the plug on it after the album stiffed.
I like doing these review posts as it gives me the opportunity to read my earlier writing. Some of it is okay, some of it is crap and some of it is good. But the life Reno’s I went through recently put a stop to these weekly posts.
So here is a review of a few months of history.
4 Years Ago (2018)
You can read my review of Redemption’s new album at the time, “Long Night’s Journey Into Day”. Vocals on this album were provided by Tom Englund from Evergrey, while previous efforts had Ray Adler from Fates Warning fronting them.
Being a fan of Redemption before Englund joined, I was always keen to hear a new Redemption record, however I was even more keen to hear it when I knew Englund would be singing.
STANDING FOR SOMETHING
Back in 2018, we had gas poisoning and acid attacks in the UK, Russia meddling in politics (and still meddling via a pointless war in Ukraine) and mother nature taking back her lands via fires, volcanoes, hurricanes/twisters and earthquakes. We have a problem with pollution in the air and plastics in our waters. We have people carrying out mass shootings or driving vehicles into crowds of people. We have wars over religion and poverty/famine in Africa is still happening and as much as big business want to deny it, climate change is real.
And then of course we got lockdowns due to COVID-19.
The past is littered with bands and music in general taking a stand against a problem, a situation, injustice and war. But what about now. What is upsetting musicians enough that they feel compelled to write about it?
Remember, you can’t be liked by everyone.
Take a stand.
LOCK UP THE WOLVES
A ticking clock sounds in the distance.
Suddenly it starts to get more louder as the speed increases.
It’s time for something to happen but what.
Then a syncopated guitar, drum and bass riff kicks in. And there is a pause. It happens again. And another pause.
“Lock Up The Wolves” doesn’t get the notice it should.
“Dr Feelgood” came out on the first of September, 1989. 33 years ago. The album cost me $19.99. I pay just a little bit more than that a month now for my whole family to listen to almost the history of music on Spotify.
The drug overdoses, the death and subsequent return from death for Nikki Sixx, the drugs, the crashed cars, the lawsuits, the drugs again, the imposter, Vince escaping jail, the women, the drugs again times two, the partying, the clashes with the law and the eventual “sobriety”.
“Dr Feelgood” had to be number 1. If the music didn’t do it, the stories would have. Apart from the big songs, the other songs on the album were not mere filler.
“Sticky Sweet” has a wicked solo section, “She Goes Down” has a great bass and drums verse section after the solo section, which ends with the sound of a zipper going down, “Slice Of Your Pie” is so Aerosmith, but it’s the Beatles “She’s So Heavy” outro that hooks me, while “Rattlesnake Shake” has a riff reminiscent to the 60’s blues guitarists that influenced Mick.
“Live After Death” on cassette was my first Maiden. I even high speed dubbed the album, just in case the cassette deck chewed up the original tape. “Powerslave” was released a year before “Life After Death” but it came into my collection a few years after because if you had “Live After Death” you didn’t really need the earlier albums.
The thing with “Powerslave” which makes it great is that it has the power and energy of a live album and the line-up is finally stable. When you don’t have to look for new musicians to fill the void, you can focus on writing great songs as they did with the “Peace Of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time”, “Seventh Son of A Seventh Son”.
For an album which is 38 years old, it’s still so relevant today as it was back then. That is the power of music and great song writing.
1979 – Part 3
1979 was a year of transition. While some bands were on their last legs, some were just starting to find their own.
Led Zeppelin were coming to an end while Thin Lizzy was on the ascendancy. The Scorpions had bigger things waiting with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Winds Of Change” while Fleetwood Mac and Bad Company delivered stellar albums that unfortunately got compared to their previous mega gazillion selling albums.
Aerosmith became a shell of the band they were with “Night In The Ruts”, while Motorhead after a few up’s and downs with record label crap, got lumped in with the NWOBHM movement starting off and started their brief commercial rise.
Uli John Roth left Scorpions and created Electric Sun, but in all honesty he should of stayed with Scorpions, while a supergroup of “musicians who all had small record deals” got together and called themselves Survivor. “Eye Of The Tiger” was a few years away, but you get to hear a band allowing their influences to shape their sound.
Basically, all the bands on this list just kept on creating, regardless of their status on the record label commercial tree. Because that’s why people get into music, to create. Not because copyright terms are forever or because some label said I will give you money to create.
Led Zeppelin – In Through the Out Door Scorpions – Lovedrive Thin Lizzy – Black Rose: A Rock Legend Fleetwood Mac – Tusk Bad Company – Desolation Angels Aerosmith – Night in the Ruts Motorhead – On Parole Motorhead – Bomber Motorhead – Overkill Electric Sun – Earthquake Survivor – Survivor Susan – Falling In Love Again
11 CRUE YEARS
“Generation Swine” and “Saints Of Los Angeles” both came out on June 24, 11 years apart.
How fortunes change for a band in a decade?
Before 1997, Motely Crue was riding high after “Dr Feelgood”. They renegotiated their Elektra contract for a lot of money and dropped “Decade Of Decadence” with 3 new studio recordings. Life was good.
Then Vince left or was fired (depending on whose story you believe). Regardless, the Crue got Corabi and delivered a stellar self-titled album in 94. But it didn’t sell the way Elektra wanted it too, and since they were footing the bills, they wanted the blond guy back in. Yep, Elektra Records A&R Reps in 1995, referred to Vince Neil as the blond guy.
The Crue camp remained defiant and went ahead writing songs for an album to be called “Personality #9” with Corabi. But money wins in the end and Corabi was out and Vince was back in.
It’s never been confirmed, but the Chinese whispers were in full voice, and the story doing the rounds mentioned how Corabi’s wage was coming from the other guys. Basically, Elektra paid Nikki, Tommy and Mick. Management took their cut, legal took their cut, Corabi got paid a wage and the rest was shared between the other three based on the band agreement.
“Generation Swine” came out, you heard it was a confused album. During the tour, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil punched on and Tommy leaves, then comes back and leaves again. Nikki gets into a slanging match with Elektra and eventually the contract was terminated and somehow Nikki managed to get the copyrights of the Crue songs back in the hands of the band. They form their own label and away they go.
Randy Castillo comes in, “New Tattoo” comes out, Randy dies, Samantha fills in on drums, Nikki gets it going with Samantha and his marriage goes to pieces while the Crue play theatres and cancel shows all over the world. I know, their Australian tour got canned. And after “New Tattoo”, the Crue went on hiatus.
In between, they got some stories together and a book called “The Dirt” came out. The band got back together for a few select shows and demand was so huge, those few shows turned into a huge world tour which was encapsulated in the “Carnival of Sins” DVD release.
If you want to have a career as an artist, you need to be a lifer, and be ready to ride the journey. It’s not always bright lights and success after success. There are hard times and good times. Doors shut and other doors are opened. And when everyone wrote them off, they came back stronger than ever.
For a band who were just average musicians at best, they built a career 40 plus years long. And that period between 1997 and 2008 could have been the end, but it wasn’t.
I was overdosing on a band called Kingcrow and their new album at the time “The Persistence”.
A FEW MILLION
I came across an interview from Vince Neil in Faces USA 1993. Post Crue departure, Vince was the man, the centre of attention. Here are some sections in italics.
Faces: What surprised you the most about the reception you received upon your departure from Motley Crue?
Vince: How quickly I was accepted. A lot of the labels had faith in me. I had a lot of different labels that were interested. It was a really exciting process, walking in there and talking with the different companies, like the heads of Geffen and Giant and Epic.
All these corporate presidents were like “Come on, come and be with us.”
I sat in with Mo Ostin at Warner Brothers and all these dudes and I felt so much power in the room. When I made the deal, went “Okay, give me the money I want and a Warner Bros jacket with Bugs Bunny on it and I will sign the deal.”
I went with a Warner Brothers basically because they gave me the money I wanted and the security of being on the Warner’s label.
Faces: Can you tell us what the deal was?
Vince: Eighteen million dollars for 5 records.
Think about it. Motley Crue signed a 5 album deal with Elektra worth $35 million and the singer who wasn’t even the main songwriter of the band, then goes and signs a solo deal with Warner Bros for $18 million and 5 albums. And the “Exposed” album is a great slab of hard rock during a time when hard rock albums started to disappear from the record store shelves. But in music, these long term deals very rarely are seen to the end. Two years later in 1995, Vince was no longer accepted, and he had no record deal and no management after “Carved In Stone” disappointed commercially.
The person who signed him, Mo Ostin left Warner Bros in 1994, so it’s safe to say the new team, didn’t really like some of the signings that the old team did.
Even Motley Crue didn’t see the end of their Elektra deal. The people who negotiated the Motley deal in 1992, were no longer at Elektra by 1995 and the new Elektra management team didn’t really care for Motley. All they cared about was the bottom line and Nikki Sixx constantly called out current Elektra boss, Sylvia Rhodes at the groups concerts, even calling her from the stage, so the crowd could tell her to fuck off.
So what’s a few million when bands make the labels multi-millions.
I expressed my disappointment at the SOLO movie, which basically put into images the words that Han Solo said in the original Star Wars movies.
Did we really need $300 million spent on that?
The problem these days is movies have a lot of action scenes and hardly any good dialogue scenes. Meanwhile TV shows are winning the story script war hands down.
And do movies need to cost $300 million plus to make. In my view the higher the cost of the movie, the less story it has. And people are attached to a story.
It’s sad reading stories about how far removed Copyright Law is from what it was intended to be.
Copyright battles are happening everywhere. Most of the news is on how the record labels and movie studios are calling on governments to pass stronger dictatorship style copyright laws which would give these organisations police like powers.
But Copyright was originally designed to help the creator of the art. However, it’s assisting the corporations to make billions of dollars while the creators make a lot less.
Remember the movie, “This Is Spinal Tap”. Well, the movie has made over $400 million in profits, however the co-creators have received $81 from merchandise sales and $98 from record sales. If you think those amounts are pretty low, well the co-creators thought so as well, and off they went to court, for fraudulent accounting and to get the copyright back in the hands of the creators. And lucky for them they got a judge that saw their side, so the case is going to get interesting. Unfortunately for UMG/Vivendi, the co-creators in this case, also found fame with “The Simpsons” and they have a voice in the market as powerful as the corporation.
8 Years Ago (2014)
I was in the middle of our holiday around Eastern Europe and you know what, piracy is king in these countries. CD and DVD shops exist with forgeries. Clothing shops exist with forgeries.
But in all of this piracy, thousands of people turn up to watch artists perform live. Every artist tours Eastern Europe and I am pretty sure that sales of recorded music now and in the past didn’t correlate to the thousands who attended the shows.
PROTEST THE HERO
I got back from Eastern Europe on a Thursday morning and by Friday night I was at the Manning Bar at the Sydney Uni watching Protest The Hero. The ticket for the night was $45 Australian plus booking fee of about $6. Compared to some of the prices I have paid for tickets, this was a good deal.
And that’s a wrap of about a months’ worth of posts from the past.
It’s not even on Spotify. I guess when the hard core fans classed this album as the weakest album of the April Wine catalogue, the band took notice. Then again there was no band when this album was recorded. Read on.
“Walking Through Fire” is album number 12. It is listed as being released in 1985 and in 1986. Remember those days when albums would have staggered releases based on geography.
As the Wikipedia page for the album states, it was essentially a contractual obligation to the band’s record label, to whom they still owed one album. And the label made sure that they would never recoup this album, getting songs from outside songwriters and booking expensive studio time.
By this time, the band had broken up, and the album features only Myles Goodwyn and Brian Greenway from April Wine’s “classic line-up” with some session musicians. For those wondering, Myles Goodwyn is on lead vocals and guitar, Brian Greenway is on guitar, Daniel Barbe is on the keys, Jean Pellerin is on bass and Marty Simon is on drums.
Rock Myself to Sleep
A lifeless opener and the first single released from the album, a tune written by two members of Katrina and the Waves in Kimberley Rew and Vince De la Cruz. It failed to make the charts.
Wanted Dead or Alive
This is a great Melodic AOR Rock. Press play to hear the Chorus.
Written by Jeff Cannata and Michael Soldan when they were in band Arc Angel together.
The song was actually released on their self-titled first and only album in 1983 on CBS Records. For those interested, a number of session musicians performed on the album, like, James Christian, Jeff Bova and Hugh McDonald. If you follow hard rock music, those names would be familiar to you. Of course, their brand of AOR Melodic Rock proved very popular in Europe but did nothing in the US as their brand of rock was dismissed by music writers as a Boston/Kansas clone.
Beg For Your Love
Clichéd song written by Canadian songwriter Eddie Schwartz.
You probably heard his song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” getting a lot of air time courtesy of Pat Benatar recording it.
Half of the songs he recorded for his solo album, “No Refuge”, released in 1981 have been covered by other artists like “Hearts On Fire” by Honeymoon Suite on their self-titled 1984 debut and “All Our Tomorrows” by Joe Cocker on his “Unchain My Heart” album from 1987 to name a few.
Love Has Remembered Me
A ballad written by Myles Goodwyn. It was a minor hit and time has been kind to it.
Written by Myles Goodwyn, it’s a skip for me.
Open Soul Surgery
Written by Jim Vallance, who has got a certain hard rock and roll sound and it’s the best track on the album.
You Don’t Have to Act That Way
Written by Myles Goodwyn, this track is a skip for me and I had an uneasy feeling that the rest of the album would follow this vibe. But I was wrong.
Written by Myles Goodwyn this song is a hit, however it wasn’t promoted at all. Press play to hear the AOR Chorus.
All It Will Ever Be
Written by Myles Goodwyn rocks hard in the verses while it goes all major key “Life Is A Highway” like in the Chorus. It’s an underrated cut in my book.
Wait Any More
Written by Myles Goodwyn it’s got this summertime major key vibe which I like.
I grew up in the 80’s and this album can compete with a lot of albums that came out during this time. It’s basically a few good songs surrounded by filler, like most of the albums.
If you are interested, start with “Open Soul Surgery”, then go to “Wanted Dead Or Alive” and finish off with “Hold On”.
The Screaming Jets released the single “Better” and two months later, their debut album “All For One” came out. Their sound is made up of an amalgamation of Australian acts like AC/DC, The Angels, INXS, The Choirboys and Cold Chisel, with a little bit of blues, a little bit of Classic Rock and Punk Rock thrown in. And it connected with the people of Oz.
Dave Gleeson always like to push censorship issues, and I remember when he appeared in the MTV Studios in Sydney for an interview, wearing a Metallica T Shirt with the “Metal Up Your Ass” design on it. The MTV guys weren’t too impressed and when he sat for the interview he had to strategically cover the offending images with his hands.
The group then relocated to the United Kingdom for over two years. The wanted to break into a European market first, before attempting their assault on the massive North American market. Doc McGhee was very keen to be the one to break them in the U.S
In the meantime, their youthful energy was getting them into trouble with other artists. The Divinyls wanted them off the Australian tour they were doing together, because lead singer Dave Gleeson insulted Chrissy Amphlett on stage, when he said, “Are you here for a rock and roll show or just a tasteful flash of the vag?”
Warrant copped it as well, when they turned up at a Club that the Jets were playing in Kings Cross, Sydney.
However Skid Row and Motley Crue liked the Jets and the Jets like them back.
As a warm up for their sophomore release, the label decided to release an EP called “Living in England” in June 1992. It included cover versions of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and AC/DC’s “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)” along the three album tracks. And we loved it. It wetted our appetite for more.
In October 1992, “Tear of Thought” dropped.
The band was unchanged with Dave Gleeson on vocals, Richard Lara on guitar, Grant Walmsley on guitar, Paul Woseen on bass guitar and Brad Heaney on drums. Continuing on from the debut album, bassist Paul Woseen and guitarist Grant Walmsley carried the bulk of the song writing.
And for some stupid reason the European release had a different cover.
No, it’s not an Aerosmith cover. Written by Paul Woseen, it’s got this U2 vibe to start off, with backward sounding guitar effects and delays while the drums and bass slowly build it up, until the whole band kicks in.
And suddenly it feels like a post pop punk cut with a nod to The Angels and a 12 bar blues solo that George Thorogood would be proud off.
Here I Go
The intro riff. Heavy fucking Metal.
Please play just to hear it.
The song is written by Paul Woseen and its one of my favorites.
Especially the last 80 seconds, when they go into the main intro riff, the ohhs and ahhs vocal chants begin, the tempo increases, a lead breaks out and the tempo keeps on increasing until chaos reigns and the song ends.
Written by guitarist Grant Walmsley.
It has a vibe from The Angels, but man, the verses sit in the LA Sunset Strip style of writing.
When the Chorus kicks in, it’s got that Albert Productions sound. Press play and enjoy.
Another Grant Walmsley cut which reminds me of Cold Chisel and The Angels, with a head banging rocking solo section.
Written by Paul Woseen, the songs music is rooted in the sounds of ACCA DACCA, however if you play the main riff with the distortion set to max, it sounds like it came from the fingertips of the NWOBHM bands.
Written by Paul Woseen, this song was the unexpected hit.
It’s got this Crime Noir feel in the verses almost jazz blues, but when the bluesy Chorus kicks in, its singalong and infectious, remaining with you long after its finished.
Written by Grant Walmsley and I feel like he channels Ian Moss from Cold Chisel with the main riff.
Living in England
Also written by Grant Walmsley, its two minutes of relentless punk speed metal power. It’s heavy and it has a Lemmy/Motorhead vibe all over it. I guess that’s what “Living In England” meant to them. You just become influenced by Lemmy. And Brad Heaney on drums is a powerhouse here.
Written by Paul Woseen it’s got an Alice Cooper “Only Women Bleed” feel with a lot of pub rock decadence. For a ballad, it’s not wimpy and it rocks hard.
Press play to hear what I mean, or you can watch the film clip on YouTube with all the surrealism images.
Best of You
Written by Paul Woseen, this song makes me think of other songs but I can’t remember what they are right now.
Written by Paul Woseen, its an attempt to do Fat Rich Cunt Part 2. George Thorogood would be proud.
Written by vocalist Dave Gleeson and guitarist Richard Lara.
The riff from Lara is excellent. The horns in the Pre-Chorus and Chorus enhance the song. Think “Tangled In The Web” from Lynch Mob.
Musically it’s a cross between The Angels, Bad Company and AC/DC.
Written by Grant Walmsley its channelling The Angels.
Sick and Tired
Written by Paul Woseen it’s got that jazzy rhythm and blues feel that you hear on “Helping Hand”.
Rowland Howard wrote a post punk masterpiece in the form of a ballad. For those that don’t know, it’s a cover from the band he was in called Boys Next Door who had Nick Cave as the vocalist for them.
The opening lyrics “I’ve been contemplating suicide / but it really doesn’t suit my style” immediately grab you by the throat and make you pay attention.
Written by Grant Walmsley, the album closer is a different cut, moving between a post punk mood at the start, to a ballad like mid-section, before picking up the fast post punk feel. .
In Australia, it received a Platinum certification and charted as high as 3 on the ARIA chart.
The group supported Ugly Kid Joe on their European tour in 1993, when Heaney was fired mid-tour as he thought that all the band members had turned gay and that the girlfriends they had were just decoys to trick him that they were not gay.
Heaney was temporarily replaced by ex-Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland until former BB Steal drummer Craig Rosevear became the permanent drummer in July 1993.
For those who don’t know, BB Steal were meant to be Australia’s Def Leppard. Singer Dave Gleeson wasn’t too impressed to hear that a hair band drummer was being considered, but after meeting and jamming with Rosevear, he changed his mind.
And that wouldn’t be the end of the changes. In January 1994, after a US tour backing Def Leppard ended, guitarist Richard Lara was replaced by Melbourne guitarist Jimi “The Human” Hocking (ex-Spectre 7).
“Enough Is Enough” came out a few years after the music video for “Rock Me Tonite” hit MTV screens. The 2011 book “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story Of The Music Video Revolution” described it as the worst ever music video. And I’ve seen some bad ones in my time but to see Squier prancing around a bed and acting all feminine = a decline in ticket sales.
To show what a career killer that video was, the songs he made after the first three albums didn’t even make it to a guitar transcription book.
And Squier stayed out of the spotlight for the majority of 1985, taking some time off and preparing his next album with British producer Peter Collins, who was known for his work with Gary Moore and Rush.
The label, Capital Records spent a lot of money on the album. The personnel involved is a big list. Joining Squier is Jeff Golub and Robin Jeffrey on guitars, Jeff Bova, David Frank, Andy Richards and Alan St. John on keyboards/synthesizers. T.M. Stevens on bass and Jimmy Bralower, Bobby Chouinard and Steve Ferrone on drums. Jody Linscott is on percussion and Mitch Weissman on backing vocals.
Production is handled by Peter Collins as producer, Jimbo “James” Barton as engineer, Steve Boyer and Paul Wright as assistant engineers, Brian Gulland on arrangements and sound recording, David Thoener on mixing, Tim Leitner as the mixing assistant and George Marino on mastering.
All of the people involved would need to get paid. The recording studio would need to be paid. The label people would need to be paid.
And the cover. It’s more of an alpha male cover.
Released on September 27, 1986, it was the first album to be released under his second seven-year Capitol Records recording contract.
Shot o’ Love
Written by Danny Kortchmar and Billy Squier
The intro riff is feel good rock and roll. It’s like Bryan Adams with the influence of Mutt Lange.
Love Is the Hero
A Billy Squier track that sounds like a Queen track. And if you have a track that sounds like Queen, why not get Freddie Mercury to contribute vocals. This song deserves more attention.
Lady with a Tenor Sax
And then why not get Freddie Mercury to co-write a song with you.
This song has a cool blues groove and the horn section gives it a swinging rock feel. It was a minor hit, but it is largely forgotten.
All We Have to Give
Written by Squier.
A ballad, but then a section from 2.20 to 3.10 kicks in, and it rocks hard. Press play to hear it.
Written by Bobby Chouinard and Squier and Squier is trying way too hard to rock hard.
Break the Silence
Written by Squier, a keyboard/synth riff kicks it off, with the guitar playing more of a decorative role. While the riffs sound cool, the melodies are lacking.
Written by Squier and I am sure that CC DeVille was listening here as I can hear “Unskinny Bop”. It’s one of my favourite Squier tracks. Loud, funky and hard rocking.
Written by Squier, this track could have appeared on the “Top Gun” movie. It’s the pulsing bass line which reminds me of the movie.
Press play on this as it’s a melodic rock masterpiece.
Til It’s Over
Written by Squier, it’s the longest track on the album at 6 plus minutes long. It’s one of those 70’s style of tracks which percolates acoustically until it explodes.
Wink of an Eye
Written by Squier and I feel like it’s a complex pop hard rock for Squier. Ideas like these worked well in the hands of Eddie Van Halen.
Most of the music critics liked the album, but critics don’t buy albums. They get their review albums for free. It’s the fans who buy albums and there wasn’t enough fans buying it compared to the money spent on “Enough Is Enough” by the label.
So it was stamped as a commercial disappointment, selling about 300,000 copies in the United States, making it Squier’s first album since 1980’s “The Tale of the Tape” to not reach platinum status. Squier didn’t even embark on a tour in support of the album as no promoter wanted to touch him after the decline in ticket sales during the “Signs Of Life” tour.
Press play to hear “Powerhouse”, “Lonely One”, “Shot o’ Love”, “Til It’s Over” and the middle section of “All We Have To Give”.
Back in 1980 they self-released a single which included the songs “Wild Summer Nights” and “Tender Years”. They sold over 10,000 copies, had radio play and they toured up and down the Atlantic seaboard. But the act was still ignored by the labels due to persistent comparisons to Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band.
They finally achieved international success when producer Kenny Vance, a long-time fan, offered them the opportunity to score a movie soundtrack he was in charge of, based on the best-selling novel about a legendary bar band, “Eddie and the Cruisers”.
Vance wanted to use the music of Bruce Springsteen, but it was too expensive to license, so he got an act that sounds like Springsteen. The world was finally introduced to “John Cafferty And The Beaver Brown Band”.
In 1983, “Eddie And The Cruisers” came out and the singles “On The Dark Side” and “Tender Years” from the soundtrack cracked the Top 10 Billboard Charts. The soundtrack was released on CBS Records and you would think that CBS would sign the act, however it was independent label Scotti Brothers who signed them. They had distribution via CBS and the label was known for launching the career of Survivor.
“Tough All Over” was first released in 1985 and it was Cafferty’s first attempt to pull his band away from the “Eddie and the Cruisers” franchise. As soon as you heard his voice, you imagined it was actor Michael Pare, who did a pretty good job lip syncing in the movie. Well that is how I remember it.
And the album did okay business, but the label decided to re-release it in 1986 with a different album cover and “The Voice of Eddie and the Cruisers” added to the title. Maybe they thought it would sell more if it had this extra add on. Hence the reason why it is listed as an 1986 release for me.
All songs are written by John Cafferty who also does vocals and rhythm guitar. The Beaver Brown Band is made up of Pat Lupo (RIP) on bass, Kenny Jo Silva on drums, Gary Gramolini on guitar, Robert Nicholas Cotoia (RIP) on keys and Michael Antunes on saxophone.
Voice of America’s Sons
The fourth and last single released from the album. If you are a Stallone fan, you would remember this song from the 1986 movie “Cobra”.
As a side note, John Cafferty also sang the song “Hearts On Fire” for the “Rocky IV” movie. It was used during the training montage music in Russia.
The major chords immediately give you a feelgood vibe, and John Cafferty is bringing back the summery sounds of the 70’s in the 80’s.
Spent those years dreaming, but the dreams didn’t last, time is moving much too fast, turn the radio on
The radio was an escape into the world of music and the emotions which music brings.
Well they built those factories, with blood sweat and steel, coming down fast under, the weight of the wheel
My Dad worked in those same factories in Australia, until a broken back retired him.
Tough All Over
The first single from the album.
It’s basically a hard rock song built on a synthesizer riff, the song describes the struggles of young working individuals. Sort of like how “Living On A Prayer” described the lives of Tommy and Gina a year later.
“Well, she’s waiting for the bus down on the boulevard / Pretty little working girl / She ain’t got no fancy clothes don’t drive no fancy car / She’s the waitress at the bar and grill”
“Well, he’s drinking at the bar down by the old boat yard / He sits and he talks to strangers / The factory laid him off and life’s been getting hard / It’s enough to make a good man bad”
I guess we haven’t progressed much since the 80’s in relation to doing it tough. We still have our addictions and we are still trying to win something in this game of life.
The second single. You can’t deny the rock and roll Bruce Springsteen and Huey Lewis influence on this track.
“On the South side of Detroit city, I’m working all night on the line, Under black smoke stacks, building Cadillacs, Jack, not one of them will ever be mine”.
How good are the lyrics?
Immediately an image forms in my head.
“Living in the C-I-T-Y, life here ain’t no dream”
Where the Action Is
The drumming reminds me of those 60’s beach songs, like “Wipeout” and the guitar playing reminds me of Dick Dale. Overall, the song would not be out of place on any 60’s Rock soundtracks.
I know John Cafferty probably hates it, but goddamn this song is Springsteen through and through.
Strangers in Paradise
It continues with the similar major key riffing that appears on “Voices Of America’s Sons”. Think of the keys riffs from Jonathan Cain.
Small Town Girl
The third single about working a late shift in his Dads shop and how he finally meets a girl that lives across town that drives him crazy. It’s got that 60’s ballad feel. The song wouldn’t be out of place on the “Grease” soundtrack.
More Than Just One of the Boys
This one is probably the most current sounding track that isn’t dated to any era. It has all kind of influences, with Billy Joel coming to mind.
Tex-Mex (Crystal Blue)
I thought it would be a greasy blues tune like ZZ Top, but it’s a ballad with a Mexican influence. Johnny Cash comes to mind.
John Cafferty never broke big in Australia with his American Heartland lyrics, while artists like Mellencamp and Springsteen did, however I was a fan. His Beaver Brown band could rock with the best of the backing bands at the time.
They got their name from a Johnny Warman song called “Screaming Jets”. Peter Gabriel also appears on the song, delivering a haunting vocal. It was a hit in Australia and singer Dave Gleeson was singing it when the rest of the band said, “that’s it. That’s the band name”.
I saw The Screaming Jets live on Friday, July 29. They celebrated the 30 Year Anniversary of their debut album, “All For One” and played it in its entirety. You can read my review of that album here. I got tickets for the concert last year, when it was actually the 30th Year Anniversary, however due to the Delta wave and our third lockdown, the show was postponed.
All I can say is that bassist Paul Woosen is a beast on the groove. His bass rumbled and rocked at the gig, laying down the foundations for the rest of the band to roll.
But let’s go back in time here to 1992.
Following the “All For One” album release, the band relocated to the United Kingdom, which they called home for two and a bit years.
They remained unchanged from the debut album, with Dave Gleeson on vocals, Grant Walmsley and Richard Lara on guitars, Paul Woosen on bass and Brad Heaney on drums. But this would change once the album that carried these songs came out in October 1992. However that is for another post.
“Living in England” was released as an EP, in June 1992. The band was hot and still selling good numbers from their “All For One” album in Australia. So the label thought, why not make some extra cash by offering up an EP before the album “Train Of Thought” is released.
And I was all in.
I love this EP.
It’s got three original songs which would appear on the album, and cover versions of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and AC/DC’s “Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)” which haven’t appeared anywhere else expect on this EP release.
Actually a live version of “Folsom Prison Blues” appeared on another EP in 2017.
Written by vocalist Dave Gleeson and guitarist Richard Lara.
The riff from Lara is excellent. And the horns in the Pre-Chorus and Chorus enhance the song. Think “Tangled In The Web” from Lynch Mob.
Musically it’s a cross between The Angels, Bad Company and AC/DC.
Written by guitarist Grant Walmsley.
It has a vibe from The Angels, but man, the verses sit in the LA Sunset Strip style of writing. Then when the Chorus kicks in, it’s got that Albert Productions sound.
And you know which bands I am talking about when I mention Albert Productions.
There is this bridge section which reminds of how Vita Bratta plays. Press play and just enjoy.
Living in England
Also written by Grant Walmsley, its two minutes of relentless punk speed metal power. It’s heavy and it has a Lemmy/Motorhead vibe all over it. I guess that’s what “Living In England” means to them. You just become influenced by Lemmy. And Brad Heaney on drums is a powerhouse here.
Folsom Prison Blues
Written by the great Johnny Cash. It was my first time hearing this song and yes, it made me a fan of Johnny Cash. The Jets version can be labelled “speed country” if there is such a thing.
Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)
Young, Young, Scott. Own any AC/DC album pre “Back In Black” and those were the names that you would see as songwriters.
They could have covered the bigger songs, but they selected an obscure album track and made it there’s, performing it live as well.
They play the whole concept album in its entirety (with some improvisation) and cast extras join the band to do the voiceovers of the characters.
They are very precise in their playing, but they also leave room for jamming and improvisation, which is something a lot of acts don’t do. Go watch a Metallica or Iron Maiden concert and you don’t get a lot of improvisation during the songs. The songs are more or less played the same way they are recorded. But if you watch Dream Theater, you will get a lot of jamming.
Some of Petrucci’s best solo moments are from live recordings. Like the solo on “Hollow Years” from the “Live In Budokan” release. He takes the normal solo with a bit of improvisation and then they extend it, to go into a hard rock “guitar hero” solo for about two minutes as part of the song. If you like guitar playing at its finest, then you will need to check this moment out.
On this album, his improvised solo on “Through Her Eyes” is exceptional.
James LaBrie cops a lot of hate for his vocals.
One thing about live performances and when I say live, I mean live, (not a live album sold as a live album with the instruments and vocals recut in a studio) is that it is really difficult to be consistent vocally.
A vocalist will always be pitchy live due to the volumes and how the noise of the other instruments and the crowd bleed into the ear pieces, making it hard to hear if they are hitting the right pitch all the time.
There are a few “what the” moments here.
One that comes it mind is when Mike Portnoy screams out “who wants to cum” at the climax of some love making samples which segues into the solo section of “Home”.
“The Dance Of Eternity” is seen as the definitive Dream Theater instrumental. It has all the trademarks of what makes Dream Theater unique and that whole “swinging 20’s show tunes” section from 2.30 minutes shows growth and diversity. Hearing it back today, it amazes me how effortlessly they just fused different eras and genres.
A highlight for me is the ballad “The Spirit Carries On”. The solo on the recording was a “Guitar Hero” moment and Petrucci delivers a masterclass here.
“Finally Free” is more or less a forgotten track when it comes to Dream Theater lore, but musically it is one of their best. Most of it is in 4/4 timing and very easy to digest. Plus it has an ending where Portnoy unleashes some unique and technical fills in the studio recording. Hearing him do that live and also improvising a little bit, without missing the beat is what live music is all about. And at 9.30, they go into a familiar section that wasn’t part of the studio recording, but is part of the live show at this point in time. Again, this is what live music is all about.
After the “Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory” album is played, they begin the other songs.
And is starts with “Metropolis – Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper”. The audience knows it and they cheer it. The guitars from Petrucci sound so much more heavier than the studio recording of a decade before. Rudess was not even part of the band then, but the keyboard parts sound like they are his. The Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir” first verse is still my favourite part of the song.
They go into “The Mirror” and I am a fan of how Petrucci employs the 7 string here, more Tool like in its rhythms. “Just Let Me Breathe” is my least favourite from the “Falling Into Infinity” album so I don’t really care for it here. “Acid Rain” from The Liquid Tension Experiment appears. This is from the side project that Portnoy put together after the “Falling Into Infinity” album, which involved, Petrucci, Rudess and Tony Levin on bass. From this side project, Rudess ended up joining Dream Theater.
While Petrucci and Portnoy did “LTE”, bassist John Myung did Platypus with ex Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian and guitarist Ty Tabor of King’s X (who also sang lead vocals) and drummer Rod Morgenstein of Dixie Dregs/Winger fame.
Singer James Labrie also did Mullmuzzler. The record company would not allow LaBrie to use his own name, so he created the name of MullMuzzler and defined it as: “to gag or silence an individual’s thought before it can be expressed in any manner”. Joining Labrie in this project was future Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini, guitarist Mike Keneally who did time with Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa and Steve Vai. Bryan Beller was on bass and his background includes Dweezil Zappa. Matt Guillory played the keys and wrote a lot of the songs with Labrie.
“Caught In A New Millennium”, “Another Day” and a 6 minute Jordan Rudess keyboard solo (which the show didn’t really need) closes out disc 2. “Another Day” is such a good song and it should have been a massive hit. They probably should have shopped the song around to other artists to redo. For the live version, they even bring out a saxophone player.
Disc 3 is like the encore of the show.
It begins with “Erotomania”, “Voices” and “The Silent Man”. This trilogy of songs is known as the “A Mind Beside Itself” a three-part song cycle first released on their 1994 album “Awake”. When the separate songs are combined, the Trilogy clocks in at 22 minutes.
“Erotomania” is an instrumental. There is a section in the song which was originally written for “Pull Me Under” but removed before recording took place. So it got added to this instrumental. It’s a guitar hero moment with a lot of string skipping and fast alternate picking. Petrucci has no issue doing this live. Another masterclass.
The lead break in “Voices” is so bluesy in origin and of course Petrucci spices it up with some fast alternate picked runs between soulful bends.
“The Silent Man” starts off a bit different and I like it. If you want to hear Dream Theater Unplugged then press play on this. The solo section is extended and the whole band is in. It moves between ragtime and country leads.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is why I go to the live show.
“Learning To Live” which clocks in at 14 minutes is next. It’s my favourite track from the “Images And Words” album. The song originally is about 11 minutes long, so they improvise for an additional 3 minutes. There is a reggae like section in the solo section that is added. And the outro is extended. You should actually press play on this outro. Myung lays down the groove on the bass and the rest of the band builds on that, decorating it to a crescendo.
Their encore so far, is at 36 minutes.
They close the show with “A Change Of Seasons”, which at that point in time was their longest song at 24 minutes. Bringing the total encore to 60 minutes. A lot of metal and rock bands just do a 90 minute show (80 minutes and a 10 minute encore), or a 120 minute show (100 minutes and a 20 minute encore). Dream Theater delivered a 180 minute show.
In a case of Nostradamus clairvoyance, the original album cover had the Dream Theater logo over a burning New York skyline with the World Trade Towers on fire. It was all printed and packaged for its release date of September 11, 2001.
It all started with trying to find 20 tiles to match the existing tiles in the bathroom and ensuite. This led to putting tiles up, tearing the new tiles down, finding different tiles and different designs, putting up those tiles and then deciding I should be painting the whole house and then sanding/polishing the floorboards.
It was basically chaos. Four weeks of chaos.
I’m not a big fan of spending time on home renovations. And while I did have tradies come in and do some of the painting and floorboards polishing, I still had to move everything out of the house for it to happen (including my music) and then I had to move everything back in, with extra care to not scratch or damage any of the newly minted surfaces.
And I still have work to do, like the wardrobes in the kids rooms and the linen cupboards in the hallway. I’m not sure why my wife had to gut the wardrobes for the walls to be painted. All I’m gonna do is cover the newly painted walls.
During it all, I was listening to music.
Machine Head’s new album “Of Kingdom and Crown” and Long Distance Calling’s new album “Eraser” got a lot of spins. Both will be in my Top 10 albums. And while Ozzy’s best years are behind him, I enjoyed listening to “Patient Number 9” and the different textures the guest guitarists added to it.
One of my favourite Australian artists, “The Butterfly Effect” dropped a new album called “IV”. Their first since 2008. And it’s good. I also gave “Darker Still” from Parkway Drive a few listens and there are a lot of anthemic riffs in this. I just need to sit down and start learning em. And the album is written from what works live for them. They have spent a lot of years on the road, so they know what kind of riffs and leads resonate live.
It’s the same deal with “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead” from Megadeth. Musically, Mustaine and crew nail the old school thrash feel with a bit of technicality added to it. It’s another album that has a lot of cool riffs and melodic leads to unpack and learn.
Slowly I am returning to things I like. Like blogging and commenting on blogs.
From disillusionment with the “Falling Into Infinity” saga, Mike Portnoy got an opportunity via Mike Varney’s “Magna Carta Records” to assemble a supergroup of progressive rock musicians in 1997. The Liquid Tension Experiment was born, consisting of Portnoy on drums, John Petrucci on guitar, Tony Levin on bass, and keyboardist Jordan Rudess, who had finished his commitments with the Dixie Dregs.
Portnoy and Petrucci used this little get together to keep on convincing Rudess to join Dream Theater. If you remember, Rudess was asked to replace Kevin Moore, however he declined that offer and Derek Sherinian was brought in. But in 1999, he accepted the offer to become the third full-time Dream Theater keyboardist, replacing Sherinian.
With Dream Theater assembled, the band would enter the studios with complete creative control for the first time.
They assembled an inspiration corner in the studio, made up of concept albums from The Who (“Tommy”), Genesis (“The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”), Roger Waters (“Amused to Death”), Radiohead (“OK Computer”) , Queensryche (“Operation: Mindcrime”), The Beatles (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), Marillion (“Misplaced Childhood”) and Pink Floyd (“The Wall” and “The Final Cut”).
The band began by revisiting a song called “Metropolis – Part II”, which had been partially written during the “Falling into Infinity” sessions but not completed or used on that album.
At 21 minutes in length as a demo, they decided to expand the song into a complete concept album.
The album was originally mixed by David Bottrill, but only a few of his mixes made it on the final album. After playing the mixed album to Kevin Shirley, Petrucci kept asking Shirley for his opinion. Shirley kept telling Petrucci that the mixes are fine, however Petrucci did not believe him. Eventually Shirley said that the mixes could be better and suddenly Shirley had a job to remix the album. This of course was of a concern to Elektra who felt that the band was just throwing money away.
The album is seen as a sequel to the song”Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper'”, but the “Part I” was added by Petrucci as a joke and there was no intention to make a “Part II”.
But in 1999, “Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory” was released on Elektra Records. While it didn’t set the Billboard Charts on fire, it is seen as the bands masterpiece and it did exceed the sales target that Elektra had for it.
The story follows a character called Nicholas, who has recurring dreams, so he visits a hypnotherapist. During the sessions, he discovers that he is the reincarnation of Victoria Page, who was murdered in the 1920’s. The story takes place in the 1920’s and the 1990’s as all the characters are still in each other lives. For example, the person who killed Victoria is called Edward and in his reincarnation, he is the Hypnotherapist treating Nicholas.
Scene One: Regression
A ticking metronomic clock.
“Close your eyes and begin to relax” are the first words you hear. The voice of the Hypnotherapist is Terry Brown (yes that Rush producer Terry Brown) although he is uncredited.
“Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Concentrate on your breathing. With each breath you become more relaxed.”
There is a story here as well. Terry recorded his voice as a rough guide. Instead the band put it on the album, didn’t give him credit and then used it in the live setting. This didn’t impress Terry, so he lawyered up and set em a bill for using his voice. The band paid the bill and then had to get a new Hypnotherapist voice for the tour.
As the Hypnotherapist counts down, the acoustic guitar of John Petrucci starts up and gets louder as the countdown gets lower.
Then James LaBrie comes in with the vocal melody.
Safe in the light that surrounds me / Free of the fear and the pain / My subconscious mind / Starts spinning through time / To rejoin the past once again
Scene Two: I. Overture 1928
An instrumental, with a lot of cool riffs and some nuggets from the first Metropolis song.
I like the way it starts off but the best part is the George Lynch influenced tritone riff that cames straight after.
Check out the small lead section at 2.32.
Scene Two: II. Strange Deja Vu
“Overture” segues into “Strange Déjà Vu”.
“In her eyes – I sense a story never told / Behind the disguise – There`s something tearing at her soul”.
Nicholas learns that Victoria was murdered, and that he was actually Victoria in a past life. He believes that he needs to solve her murder.
Check out the “Carry On My Wayward Son” influences at 2.40.
Scene Three: I. Through My Words
The piano riff is haunting and I like it.
“We’re sharing one eternity / Living in two minds”
Scene Three: II. Fatal Tragedy
“This fatal tragedy was talked about for years” / Victoria`s gone forever / Only memories remain / She passed away / She was so young”
The last 40 seconds of the song has this cool open string harmony solo section which I like.
And it ends with the voice of the Hypnotherapist;
“Now it’s time to see how you died. Remember that death is not the end but only a transition.”
Scene Four: Beyond This Life
The opening riff is wicked. Heavy almost grungy in sound yet progressive. And the fast downstroke picking gives way to a single note variation.
“Murder, young girl killed. Desperate shooting at Echoes Hill. Dreadful ending, killer died. Evidently suicide”
The lyrics are written like a newspaper article.
Vocally it feels like a Tool/Maynard vocal melody in the verses. Really focused on the correct syllables.
Scene Five: Through Her Eyes
I’m learning all about my life By looking through her eyes
Petrucci knows how to construct an emotive song and to nail an emotive lead.
Almost countryish in its acoustic strum and Portnoy’s restraint drumming, its Petrucci and LaBrie that shine here.
This is the part of the story where Nicholas realises that he is unable to get on with his life until he solves the murder of his past life.
Scene Six: Home
My favourite song on the album because its Dream Theater taking something contemporary like Tool and making it their own. If you want to press play on a track, this is the one.
The city – it calls to me Decadent scenes from my memory Sorrow – eternity My demons are coming to drown me
From a story point of view, Julian is giving in to his cocaine and gambling addictions, which drives Victoria away from him. Edward feels guilty about deceiving his brother, but decides that his love for Victoria is greater than his guilt, and he seduces her when she is vulnerable following her breakup.
Scene Seven: I. The Dance of Eternity
It’s an instrumental, seen as their best.
Scene Seven: II. One Last Time
Are these her memories Awakened through my eyes
A ballad with lyrics by James LaBrie.
Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On
I used to be frightened of dying I used to think death was the end But that was before I`m not scared anymore I know that my soul will transcend
The guitar solo on here is excellent and the gospel choir afterwards (orchestrated by Rudess) gives me goose bumps.
Scene Nine: Finally Free
It begins with the voice of the Hypnotherapist.
“You are once again surrounded by a brilliant white light. Allow the light to lead you away from your past and into this lifetime.”
The narrative moves between different perspectives, revealing that Edward wished his romance with Victoria was more than a simple affair. As Victoria begins to reconcile with Julian, Edward confronts the two of them, murders them, then stages the scene and assumes the role of the witness for the newspaper column. The flashback includes Edward telling Victoria to “open [her] eyes” before killing her, echoing the same choice of words the hypnotherapist used to wake Nicholas from his hypnotic trance.
In the present, Nicholas arrives home, followed by the Hypnotherapist. Nicholas is startled by another request to “open [his] eyes”, before the album cuts to (and concludes on) phonographic static. You don’t hear the killing, but the hypnotherapist is Edward’s reincarnation, and he has killed Nicholas to complete the cycle yet again.
The drumming of Mike Portnoy on the last three minutes of this song is essential listening for any drummer on how to add texture and technicality and still sound accessible.
The World Tour to promote the album was their biggest. The whole album was played in its entirety along with actual footage on the big screen.
A show was filmed and released as a DVD in 2002. Even Kevin Moore was invited to participate in this show, to perform “Space Dye Vest” and “Learning To Live”. But he declined the offer and every other Dream Theater offer since his departure.