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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – June 6 to June 19

4 Years Ago (2018)

As much as I try to have a buffer of posts, sometimes life and other events get in the way so my days become a matter of priorities.

And 4 years ago, my blogging suffered. Sort of like how it is suffering around this time again.

WHAT’S NEXT

You paid your dues from hotel to motel, got ripped off on the pay from the promoter, had some fights and some good times and maybe, just maybe, you might have gotten a recording contract.

Which didn’t guarantee success, but it gave you a chance to play in the field of dreams.

Suddenly, MTV made people believe that if they got a recording contract, success was guaranteed. And the live show became a clone of the recordings, because artists took their time to get the recordings perfect.

Music is cultures greatest invention and the record labels signed artists based on the music more than the commercial potential. With some A&R development, smart marketing, an audience would come and a career is built. But streaming put the public in control. It took away the power of scorched earth marketing tactics from the labels.

Songs that go nuts on streaming happen months before the rest of the mainstream picks up on them. And every so few years something new comes along that becomes mainstream. Classic rock gave birth to prog rock to punk to metal to hair rock to grunge to industrial to nu metal and so forth.

What’s next.

8 Years Ago (2014)

HEY STOOPID

Alice Copper had a string of hit albums in the Seventies. Towards the end of the decade and in the early Eighties his output was of a lesser standard while he dabbled in new wave rock. Then he started to gain some momentum with two underrated hard rock/metal releases in “Constrictor” and “Raise Your Fist and Yell”. But the massive mainstream comeback happened with “Trash”, his Eighteenth studio album. Yep, Alice’s career was eighteen albums deep.

So when it came time to record the follow-up to “Trash”, another star-studded cast was assembled.

A lot of cash was thrown at every body. It was a who’s who of hard rock royalty.

Listen to it and re-evaluate.

COMPLICATED COPYRIGHTS

I don’t understand why people go to a rock show or a metal show to film the whole thing on a smart phone.

I have also been known to break out my iPhone and capture some footage or a few photos for posterity. But I’ve never gone back and referred to my amateur filming or photography.

The reasons are simple, those captures can never accurately reflect the concert as I witnessed it.

Once upon a time it was a big thing to go to a concert and talk about it, but these days it’s no big deal.

So is videoing a concert with a phone a violation of an artist’s copyright. Don Henley says it is, however he also said that he doesn’t want the shows posted on YouTube because it spoils it for people who are going to come to a show in the future and that he doesn’t want to see Eagles content out there that sounds horrible.

Some use it as a form of a diary record, to remember or relive that moment when their favourite song came on. Some do it to share the moment and their love for the artist. Some do it because they simple can. A smart phone or an iPad or Tablet, allows us the convenience to do so.

BANDS

The years of practicing and writing do not prepare you for the realities of the music business.

To me the big one is the sense that bands just can’t get along. The odds of success are so rare no one wants to give an inch just in case that inch was their chance at making it.

It got to the point where fans of other bands were told to wait outside while the other bands played, just in case some record label rep was in the audience and saw people having a good time.

INVASION OF THE SWEDES

Sweden is a massive exporter of cultural content. Most of the bands I like are from Sweden and one of the biggest Pop songwriters over the last 25 years is also from Sweden.

Isn’t it funny how the home country of Spotify also has one of the most vibrant rock and metal scenes in the world. But wait a second. I am sure I have heard the RIAA and their proponents scream that because music has been devalued, no one will create anymore.

Well it looks like someone forgot to tell the Swedes, a country that has embraced streaming and guess what, their musical scene is flourishing.

KAMELOT

I don’t mind my fix of Power Metal. Here is my own 10 second wrap up of a whole genre beginning from the Seventies.

It started with Deep Purple, Rainbow and Iron Maiden. Then Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween came along. They both increased the tempos and Yngwie Malmsteen exaggerated the classical elements which led to the current Power Metal movement which is just a higher tempo version of the beast that Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween inspired.

The thing with power metal at the moment is that there are so many acts out on the market that are just not good enough to be there. They think by playing at break neck speeds it makes them good enough.

Kamelot is not one of them. Because Kamelot is not all about higher tempos. There is more variation in their music. Credit Thomas Youngblood, one of the bands original founders.

I’m listening to “Silverthorn”, Kamelot’s tenth studio album and their third concept story.

It’s the song “Veritas” that connected with me. And the connection comes in the form of a band called Savatage, who I am a big fan off, especially the era of Criss Oliva. Because it sounds like something that could have been recorded for a Savatage album.

I can’t say that I like everything that Kamelot has put out, however they have done enough on each album to keep me interested to come back and invest my time to hear each new album. And that is what matters today.

DAYBREAK EMBRACE

I really enjoyed Daybreak Embrace’s 2010 EP “Tomorrow Awaits”. From that EP “Thirty–Six” is a dead set classic and “Sanctuary” is not that far behind. This is where people should start.

So I was curious as to what new music they had released since then.

I go to Spotify, type in their name and I see that they have new music. The “Mercury” EP was released in 2013. Damn, how did I miss that. The Modern Rock scene in the U.S is a very crowded marketplace. With all the beautiful things that the Internet has brought us, one thing hasn’t changed. It is still difficult for a band to get attention and the odds of success are still very low.

GEORGE LYNCH – SACRED GROOVE

By 1993, everything changed. The Record Labels threw their lots in with the Grunge movement, abandoning the majority of the hard rock and heavy metal bands they had on their roster. But, hard rock and metal releases still kept on coming. The only issue was that they became harder to get in Australia.

And “Sacred Groove” from George Lynch would probably never get booted out of the Top 10 list for that year. It’s an album that has guitar instrumentals with hard rock songs featuring some of the best singers. Slash did something similar with his Solo album a decade later.

The best instrumental track by far on the album is “Tierra Del Fuego”. A six-minute tour de force in Flamenco Hard Rock music.

The best vocal track on the album is “We Don’t Own The World”, that has vocals by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. But the song is actually written by George Lynch and Don Dokken. Dokken was supposed to sing on the track, however he failed to show up at the studio. So Lynch got the Nelson twins who were in the studio next door recording their ill-fated “Imaginator” album, which got rejected by Geffen and John Kalodner.

“Flesh And Blood” is written by George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and Ray Gillen is on vocals. This is a rare gem as Ray was to pass away that same year. That awesome groove sets it up and Lynch owns that solo.

Glenn Hughes involvement with George Lynch goes back to the Lynch Mob days, when he recorded scratch vocals on the second album, so that new singer Robert Mason could follow. On Lynch’s first proper solo outing, he sings on two songs, “Not Necessary Evil” and “Cry Of The Brave”. Both of the songs have music written by Lynch and lyrics by Hughes. This period of Hughes’s career is the one I like the most. He was everywhere with his own solo project, with George Lynch, with John Norum, with a Blues project and many more.

THAT 1994 MOTLEY CRUE ALBUM

I had mixed feelings when I heard that John Corabi was the new Motley vocalist. Twenty Eight years on the album has survived the test of time. Darker, bluesier, ballsier, kick-ass rock and roll.

It has some of the best playing the band had and has ever done. And it was so ahead of its time that the record label just didn’t know what to do with it and how to market it.

People said they ripped off Alice In Chains because it packed serious groove. Umm, listen to the Girls and Feelgood albums. They also grooved.

People said they jumped on the grunge bandwagon because they down tuned. For most of their career Motley Crue down tuned.

What about all the scattered Zeppelin and Beatles influence all over the record? Nikki Sixx said that he was trying to write his own Physical Graffiti. And he succeeded.

It’s a great record with the unfortunate truth that it was released by Motley Crue and the album remains hidden from any new fans connecting with it.

And that’s a wrap for the fortnight that just passed.

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

Australian Method Series: Andrew Stockdale – Keep Moving

Released on 7 June 2013 and recorded in various studios in Byron Bay, New South Wales. Coming from the Steel City of Wollongong, Byron Bay is a 9 hour drive up the coast.

The Producer is Andrew Stockdale.

It was written with the idea that it would be the third Wolfmother album, however the group was already in disarray after Stockdale fired the original band before the 2nd album, and any musicians that joined the fold afterwards were on Stockdale’s payroll, not the labels.

The album process started in 2010 with updates on social media and then it went silent. By February 2012, we knew that rhythm guitarist Aidan Nemeth and drummer Will Rockwell-Scott had left the band. Universal was also not really interested in what was been delivered at that point in time.

Remaining members Stockdale and bassist Ian Peres called in Vin Steele (rhythm guitar), Elliott Hammond (keyboards, percussion) and Hamish Rosser (drums) to complete the band line-up. Universal still wasn’t interested but Stockdale planned to re-record and self-release the album as a Wolfmother album.

By March 2013, front man Andrew Stockdale announced that he would be releasing the album under his own name.

The Personnel for the album is Andrew Stockdale on vocals and guitar, Ian Peres on all things bass related plus other instruments, with drums shared by Elliot Hammond, Hamish Rosser, Will Rockwell-Scott and Dave Atkins. Additional guitar tracks were recorded by Vin Steele and Alex “Rudy” Markwell.

All tracks are written by Andrew Stockdale, except where noted.

Long Way to Go

It could be a Bachman Turner Overdrive tune. It could a Rolling Stones tune as there is a riff in the song heavily inspired by “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”.

And there is a solo here, brief but bluesy.

Keep Moving

Lenny Kravitz is going to come your way. You know what I mean. And I like it, with other influences from Hawkwind and a riff from the fingertips of Paul Kossoff (RIP).

Within the first two songs, Stockdale is making a statement. He is moving on from the past, but he has a long way to go to make the break.

Vicarious

The fuzzed out bass sets the groove. The drums thunder along with it. Its subdued and Stockdale croons over the verses, before lifting in the Chorus.

“You’re living vicariously / Tell me what’s it’s like to be me?”

Three out of three so far.

Year of the Dragon

It’s classic Wolfmother in riff, with a Bill Ward style swinging beat and a feel that gets the foot tapping and the head banging.

Somebody’s Calling

Stockdale co-wrote this with multi-instrumentalist Elliott Hammond who plays drums, electric piano and harmonica on this album.

Hand clapping Rock and Roll that reminds me of The Doors, Sweet, The Easybeats, Free and all of those great bands. And at 1.50, it goes into a half time feel, which I like and it picks up again at 2.16.

Meridian

Stockdale co-wrote this with bassist Ian Peres. My favourite song on the album and by far the heaviest song Stockdale has committed to release.

The Intro reminds me of Black Sabbath at their heaviest and the verse riff reminds me of Led Zeppelin at their heaviest. A pure classic old school heavy metal cut and although released on a Stockdale solo album, it is a worthy Wolfmother cut.

Ghetto

Another foot stomping groove. And it gets repetitive but hey, the reason why I listen to Andrew Stockdale is because he can jam on a familiar repetitive riff for ages.

Let It Go

“Symptom Of The Universe” has a love child with “Achilles Last Stand”. And I like it.

And if the album ended here, it would have been 8 from 8.

But it continued.

Let Somebody Love You

It’s got this rhythm and blues feel, maybe a little bit of Aerosmith.

Standing on the Corner

The “hit the road jack” vibe is prominent but more countryish than blues.

Country

The title says it all, a ballad.

Black Swan

Yeah, it’s a skip for me.

Everyday Drone

Hey Mr’s Robinson. Can Andrew Stockdale be influenced by you?

Yes, he can.

It Occurred To Me

The fuzzed out psychedelic riffs are back to close out the album. It’s got groove and sleaze, but coming off the acoustic like tracks, it doesn’t flow.

The Foo Fighters released a double album that had rockers and acoustic stuff on each disc. Stockdale suffers here because he released two distinct albums as one.

But for the first 8 tracks, press play on em.

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Influenced, Music

2001 – Part 5.6: Static X – Machine

A singer from a band I was in burnt me a copy.

“Machine” is the second studio album by Static-X, released on May 22, 2001.

The Personnel for the album is Wayne Static (RIP) on Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards and Programming. Tony Campos is on bass, Ken Jay is on drums, Tripp Eisen is on guitar, with ex-lead guitarist Koichi Fukuda credited as a keyboard player and Ulrich Wild contributing keyboards to different songs.

The writing for the songs happened while on tour for the “Wisconsin Death Trip” with Wayne Static writing all the songs by himself on the tour bus while the other band members lived it up and partied hard. When the band went in to record the album, Wayne Static told the guys that the royalties for the song writing would not be split four ways this time around.

How do you think that went down with the other members?

It lead to lead guitarist Koichi Fukuda’s departure before recording began, and drummer Ken Jay’s eventual departure a few years later.

While Static played all the guitars on the album, Tripp Eisen (Fukuda’s replacement) was involved with the album’s photoshoot and promotional materials, the music videos, the world tour for support of the album, and he helped arrange the Static-X comic book deal.

The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on November 10, 2003. It was a pretty big deal to achieve this certification, in a market dominated with peer to peer downloading.

As was the norm with bands during this Nu-Metal period, the album was free of guitar solos.

Bien Venidos

A short 30 second intro of people having a party.

Get To The Gone

The vocals are deep, almost Rob Zombie like.

Musically, its heavy rock with a lot of Dimebag Pantera style influences and Rammstein/Ministry/NIN industrial metal overtones.

Permanence

The electronics are prominent here, with the Digitech Whammy providing new sounds for the riffs.

This one is more NIN than anything.

Black And White

I like the intro riff on this. Its dissonant and it reminds me of Megadeth for some reason.

This Is Not

Yeah, this is not a song that has made its way to my playlists of liked songs. But they seemed to like it.

Otsego Undead

It’s got this Black Betty drum beat with a lot of electronica and some other weird stuff. The riff kicks in and it’s the same as the other riffs before that.

Cold

What a song.

The best track, hidden deep into the album at track 7.

The riff and the keys melody over it work brilliant. The whispering vocal reminds me of Type O Negative.

And if the song sounds familiar it’s because it appeared in the film “Queen of the Damned”. It was also featured on the film’s soundtrack album, performed by Wayne Static for the soundtrack who replaced Jonathan Davis who sings it in the movie.

Structural Defect

An open string riff that reminds me of Metallica who weren’t playing riffs like these anymore at this time.

…In A Bag

More of the same, fast open string riffs, some electronica and Rob Zombie style vocals.

Burn To Burn

It’s got a cool chromatic riff.

Machine

The title track. I was expecting big things and it was a let down

A Dios Alma Perdida

The riffs are demented, heavy, very Sabbath tritone like. It almost experimental, horror soundtrack like. I had to Google what it meant.

Alma Perdida means lost soul. Adios means bye.

Bye Lost Soul.

By the end of it, my view point of this album is one heavily marketed good song that sold the album. When the singer in my band asked me about it, I said that I went “Cold” on it. I know, it’s a bad joke.

Press play on it for the song “Cold”. If you like that, listen to “Get To The Gone” and “A Dios Alma Perdida”.

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

Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 31 to June 5

4 Years Ago (2018)

War Of Attrition

Back then I asked the question “If we stop using Spotify or Netflix, would we miss them?”

Since then a lot of other players have taken market share in the steaming world.

I am a heavy user of Spotify. For Netflix its hit and miss. Sometimes I could go weeks without using it and on other occasions it’s every day.

At the moment, in 2022, I also have subscriptions to Stan, Amazon, Paramount+ and Disney.

Being missed when you’re gone is a worthy objective for any organisation. It also should be an objective for any artist. If I stopped listening to music in general, I would miss it. If I stopped listening to music from certain artists I would really miss it.

And the ones who will survive are not those looking for short term profits, but those that realize it’s a war of attrition.

Who Should Be Listed As A Songwriter For A Song?

Metallica wanted to re-issue their 1982 demo “No Life To Leather”. Dave Mustaine on Twitter, said the talks broke down because Lars wanted song writing credits on two songs that Mustaine wrote every note and word to. So instead of agreeing to share the song writing, Mustaine passed.

Song writing is always an issue with bands.

Van Halen had all the band members listed as songwriters on all of their albums. Suddenly, when the band re-negotiated their publishing deals for their earlier David Lee Roth albums, Michael Anthony was removed as a song writer.

Skid Row’s Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan said that Sebastian Bach didn’t contribute to the Skid Row debut album as most of the songs were written before Bach joined. Bach countered to say, that the way he sung the songs, and the way he decided to hold certain notes was enough of a contribution to the debut album and he should be listed as a songwriter. Manager Doc McGhee said Bach has no idea how copyright works.

Nikki Sixx said one of the reasons for Vince Neil’s departure from Motley was due to his lack of song writing contributions, which Vince countered to say he had enough co-writes on Motley’s classic 80’s era to counter that.

100% of the time, when an individual writes a song, there will be music, words and melodies written at the same time.

8 Years Ago (2014)

Arrows To Athens

I went in cold to listen to “Arrows To Athens”.

I had no idea what style of music they played, who was in the band, who produced em and which label if any released it.

After listening to the album I was a fan. It’s simple and effective modern rock. Catchy.

So I Googled the band and I came across the name of David Hodges. He walked away from Evanescence before “Fallen” exploded and become a songwriter for other artists in the world of modern/pop rock.

David’s problem is that he is too talented. He can easily write hit singles and all the songs here are infectious.

Do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s on Spotify and on YouTube.

Ashes Divide

I went in cold on this as well. The first thing that came to mind was “A Perfect Circle”. So I Googled it and of course it is Billy Howerdel’s project. And he sings on it. The album came out in 2008 and the first time I heard it was May, 2014.

“Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” is the album name and there is no filler here. Check it out.

Angel Of Mercy

“Angel Of Mercy” from Black Label Society always gets me to pay attention.

The song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society.

And the lead break is pure magic. Just listen.

It builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display.

The song was never a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

Ozzy probably didn’t know it, but in Zakk, he had a guitarist who could do Black Sabbath better than Black Sabbath, do the works of Randy Rhoads justice. (Of course, as a diehard RR fan, no one could do RR better than RR himself) and Zakk could play Jake E Lee better than Jake E Lee. Zakk once called his Ozzy gig the most glorified covers gig ever, where he gets to play some cool shit written by others and he also gets to play his own shit.

Lynch Mob

The follow-up self-titled Lynch Mob album had Keith Olsen producing. I suppose anything to do with George Lynch, includes a saga with a lead singer.

It’s 1992.

Dokken was four years dead. In between that time George Lynch and Mick Brown shacked up together with Lynch Mob and remained with Elektra Records. Jeff Pilson went to War and Peace and lead singer Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and jumped ship.

The first post Dokken battle between had Lynch scoring some points with the excellent “Wicked Sensation” coming first. However, Don Dokken and John Kalodner were still building their all-star cast for “Up From The Ashes” and even though the album was an exemplary piece of melodic hard rock, it failed commercially. I suppose Don’s $1 million advance sign on fee didn’t help the budget. But it is still a favourite to me.

And the great momentum built up by the Mark 1 version of Lynch Mob was taken back a few steps with the ousting of vocalist Oni Logan. The story goes that Lynch had a problem with the way Logan sounded live. So after letting Logan go, the band had Glenn Hughes come in. He would sing the songs on the demos and then new singer Robert Mason would record em.

Fun fact for the day is that Glen Hughes did co-write a few tunes with Don Dokken for the “Up From The Ashes” album, with “When Love Finds A Fool” making it to the final cut.

But the album failed to match the sales of “Wicked Sensation” even though “Tangled In The Web” was a Top 10 hit.

Lynch Mob went on tour and Lynch was “not feeling it” with Mason and he wanted to get another singer. That singer was Ray Gillen, who at the time wasn’t interested because he had just completed “Voodoo Highway” with Badlands and was keen to push and promote that album.

If only Gillen knew the fall out that would happen between him and Jake a few months later. Glenn Hughes was considered, however he was discriminated against because of his age.

And then George Lynch returned to Dokken for the already written “Dysfunctional” album and even though as a hard core fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it, the truth of the matter is the band was spent. And we can speculate or argue why or just revel in the greatness of what came before.

The New Nursery Rhymes

The recording industry tells us that we need more Copyright for music to thrive and survive. But nursery rhymes survived all this time without the recording industry and copyright.

Say bye-bye to the old and say hello to the new. Here is a list of the new nursery rhymes that my two-year old loves.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Back in the Eighties, the PMRC listed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as number 7 on their filthy fifteen list. And the reason why it was on the list. Violence. Yep, Tipper Gore and her housewives found the song to be violent while millions upon millions of adolescent teens found it empowering.

“Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Rock and Roll”, “Rock N Roll All Nite”

Songs about letting your hair down.

“Livin On A Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin”

Two songs are about never giving up and believing in yourself. And those people are still believing with billion plus streams for these songs.

“Eye Of The Tiger”

The “Rocky III” producers wanted to use “Another One Bites The Dust” however they could not get permission to use the song, so Sylvester Stallone hired Survivor to write an original song instead.

“We Will Rock You”

The boom boom cha. It’s undeniable.

And these songs get passed on via word of mouth. It’s how culture rolls.

What I Am Over Reading ….?

Metallica’s New Album

Six years had passed since Death Magnetic was released.

Led Zeppelin Reissue’s

Seriously. How many times can someone own the original three albums or the songs contained within those albums.

Piracy

Seriously. Is this still an issue in 2014?

Streaming Doesn’t Pay

It does pay. If you are not getting any of the pie speak to the label or the organisation that holds your rights.

Sales

They are irrelevant. All they do is give the old guard a way to measure something that is irrelevant because the new way to measure an artist’s reach is just too hard to fathom for them.

Are people listening to the album?

Press Releases for new albums

People can see through the hype. We don’t care when bands say “how great this new album is” or “how it is a definitive statement of the band right now”. All we care about is if we like it. If we do like it, we will talk about and we will push it. If it is crap, expect it to disappear.

Because if publicity does increase sales, then bands should be selling by the millions and selling out their shows. But they don’t.

And that’s another wrap of DoH history for a week.

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Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

2001 – Part 5.5: Opeth – Blackwater Park

“Blackwater Park” is the fifth studio album Opeth released on March 12, 2001 in Europe and a day later in North America through Music for Nations and Koch Records.

I never got too involved with the death metal elitists who seemed to label the band, not “death metal enough”. Their view points sound like an episode in “Dethklok” when the fictional cartoon death metal band was writing a song and it wasn’t brutal enough for the singer.

The album marks the first collaboration between Porcupine Tree front man Steven Wilson and the band, as Wilson had been brought in to produce the album. The influences of Porcupine Tree can be heard here and this contributed to a shift in Opeth’s musical style with more mellow passages, while Porcupine Tree would also get some heaviness out of it as well.

“Blackwater Park” did not chart in the United States or United Kingdom but it is seen as the commercial breakthrough for the band.

Opeth at this point in time was Mikael Åkerfeldt on vocals, guitar and acoustic guitar, Peter Lindgren on guitar, Martín Méndez on bass and Martin Lopez on drums.

Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree does clean and backing vocals on “Bleak”, “Harvest”, “The Funeral Portrait”, and “The Drapery Falls”, piano, additional guitar, record producer, engineering and mixing.

The Leper Affinity

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

First, I am not a huge fan of death metal vocals. I tolerate them because I want to hear good riffs. And there are a lot of good riffs and leads here. On occasions it feels like I am listening to a Megadeth album or a Dream Theater/Fates Warning album.

At 4.50, there is an acoustic section that comes in with clean tone vocals. It sounds ominous. And when they build it up, the ominous sound is still there.

Then at 6.10, this Tool like riff kicks in. Press play to hear it.

The last minute is a sombre piano lounge piece.

At 10.26 it’s a massive opening song for an album.

Bleak

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

I like the way this starts. Its progressive but groove orientated.

At 3.28, it’s got this alternative metal vibe with clean tone vocals from Wilson and I like it. And it moves in between acoustic rock and heavy metal. But. By the end of it, its chaotic dissonance.

At 9.15, the first two songs clock in over 20 minutes.

Harvest

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

The second shortest song at 6 minutes with strummed acoustic riffs.

The Drapery Falls

Another 10 plus minute track with music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

It’s got acoustic guitars, psychedelic fuzzed out leads and clean tone singing.

It’s got progressive riffs and death metal singing.

And more grooves than a vinyl record.

Dirge for November

Written by Mikael Akerfeldt and Peter Lindgren. The dirge comes out to 8 minutes.

The acoustic guitar is there again and it feels like a Led Zeppelin cut in the first two minutes, think “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”.

That section at 4.30 to 4.40 is brief but I like its classical feel. The last two minutes is similar to the intro, but more jazzy.

The Funeral Portrait

Music and lyrics written by Mikael Åkerfeldt.

At almost 9 minutes long, its full of riffs and acoustic guitars.

The dissonance of the tritone is all over this track.

The whole acoustic intro reminds me of Slayer and “Seasons In The Abyss” while the riff that crashes in afterwards is very Dream Theater like from the “Images And Words” album.

And I like it.

Patterns in the Ivy

A 2 minute instrumental written by Mikael Akerfeldt.

Think of the intro of “Diary Of A Madman” with some piano melodic leads.

Blackwater Park

The title track at 12 minutes long. Written by Mikael Akerfeldt and Peter Lindgren.

The intro that starts it of is hard rock.

There is this clean tone instrumental section which is a fusion of jazz and classical. The riff that crashes in after it is perfect and head banging.

If there is a complaint, there are too many long songs with not a lot of variation. But from a guitar players point of view, there are a lot of cool riffs to unpack and learn.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, Unsung Heroes

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

There is always a track or two or three on each album from Evergrey that becomes an instant favourite.

On this album at the moment, it is “Call Out The Dark”, “Midwinter Calls” and “Blindfolded”. On the previous album and depending on mood, it was either “In The Absence Of Sun” and “Eternal Nocturnal”.

The whole COVID era of 2020 and 2021 got a lot of artists off the road, back into society, connecting with family and friends and then into the studios. After the brutality of “The Atlantic” in 2019, “Escape Of The Phoenix” came out in February 2021, a live recording “Before The Aftermath” on 28 January 2022 and in May 2022, “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)”.

I have the Vinyl Die Hard edition and a separate Limited Edition box set on its way from Napalm Records in Germany, which I will unbox when they get here.

Their five album run (made up of 4 studio albums and one Live Album) on AFM Records came to an end. And what a run it was, with some of their best work like, “Hymns For The Broken” and “The Storm Within” included in that run.

The sound of the band is made up of the low tuned guitars of Henrik Danhage who uses Charvel Guitars and Tom Englund who is loyal to Caparison Guitars. But not all riffs come from the fingertips of these two. Drummer Jonas Ekdahl is a riff-meister himself and so is bassist Johan Niemann. Rounding out the band is keyboardist Rikard Zander.

The writing of “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)” continued after the release of “Escape of the Phoenix”. Englund has even referred to the new album as “Part II”. In the producers chair is, Englund and Ekdahl again. These two have been producing the last few albums, so why change it. Keep it all within the band.

Save Us

A chugging downtuned metal like riff opens the album. It’s heavy and the octaves give it a sense of melody.

The fans participated in the gang like vocals.

The idea came to Englund while he was on a walk. He uses his iPhone to sing his ideas and the voice memos capture sounds pretty good as the phones have decent compression algorithm.

So they put a call out for their fans to sing the words based on a video guide the band provided into their iPhones and submit it. They got 700 plus submissions and those voices became the gang choir you hear when they say “Hey, save us”.

Lyrically, its Englund’s observation of watching people around him who feel they are not good enough to exist in this world, because they are hostages to the social media sites and feel like they need to portray perfection.

Midwinter Calls

“Midwinter calls…”

There is a slight pause.

“Home..”

And then the Chorus riff kicks in.

It’s my favourite part of the song.

The double kick is in unison with the riff from the fingertips of drummer Jonas Ekdahl.

This song also has a gang like vocal chant, utilising more voices from the fans. While in “Save Us” it was actual words, here it is wo-ohs.

Ominous

There is this four note progression played by another four note progression that underpins the main riff. It’s almost djent math like and progressive but very accessible.

Keyboardist Rikard Zander decorates nicely here over the thunderous groove set up by drummer Ekdahl and bassist Johan Niemann.

The guitar solos howl like wolves in the night.

Actually the whole guitar solo sections are guitar hero moments. I’m pretty sure both Englund and Danhage take turns here.

Call Out the Dark

As soon as the musical box piano sound riff started I was hooked. Once the guitars thunder in and the keys turn symphonic, I was ready to break desks. My favourite song on the album. By far.

The solo came is fantastic.

It’s got this classic “Rainbow In The Dark”, Vivian Campbell style from his Dio days. Initially there was a lot of tapping and shredding from Danhage and after receiving feedback from a friend about what he was trying to say with his lead coming after Englund’s lead, he rewrote the first half and kept the crazy shred ending. Press play to hear two virtuosos having conversations musically.

And it ends the way it started, with the musical box piano riff.

The Orphean Testament

Englund’s take on Greek Mythology where Orpheus had a chance to save his loved one from hell, by just walking away and never looking back, but he turns back to look.

Englund takes this view and applies it to modern life, where our ego’s get in the way of making good decisions and how it’s hard to fit in to a world which has different ideals to your own.

The song starts with fast double kick drumming and fast 16th note picking before it moves into a Dimebag style groove riff. Englund has a unique way of singing his melodies and this is no different.

Reawakening

I read on other reviews that the writers saw this track as filler. And I was like WTF. Its melodic heavy rock influences still remain with me after its finished.

The intro is melodic rock, with the keyboards in the lead. The song then quietens down, Queensryche like for the verses, while it builds up in the pre-chorus for the big Chorus.

I’m broken but breathing
I’m still alive but did a lot of bleeding
I’m open to reasons to feel alive

The Great Unwashed

The intro is made up single notes playing in an ominous way. Then a groove like riff kicks in, made from the fingertips of drummer Jonas Ekdahl. While they are chugging along on that riff, Zander plays the ominous intro on the keys and Englund does his vocal melodies.

There is a section after the Chorus that reminds me of “A Change Of Season” from Dream Theater.

And the lead breaks are killer, over a section that reminds me of “The Aftermath” from “Hymns Of The Broken”.

We’ll always unite in the end
We’re stronger than most just pretend
We never mind the dark

We’re the great unwashed

Heartless

Instant connection with the keyboard lick over the thundering distorting chords. The verse riffs are major key, hopeful, but the lyrics are dark, with words like “I can’t find reasons to keep feeding this soul”.

So tired of feeling
I’m tired of feeling you
And all this time that I’ve lost
I’ve lost to you

Relationships take up a lot of time and when they are over, there is regret at the time lost.

There is a section just before the 3 minute mark, with piano chords and Englund’s haunting vocal melody. Then the lead break crashes in, and I am playing air guitar.

Blindfolded

It’s classic Evergrey.

Powerful and technical.

And there is another arena rock chorus. Press play to listen to the phrasing of “Dark nights / coming / we are lost in fragile moments / falsehood / soulless / we run through this blindfolded”.

And if all of that isn’t enough, queue in some killer lead breaks in which the guitars and the keys trade off each other.

Wildfires

Evergrey have always had songs like these, and Tom Englund explores these kind of sparse arrangements even further with the “Silent Skies” side project. The only difference here is that the acoustic guitars replace the keys.

If the sun fell down
And burnt us down to the ground
Would the wildfires remind me of

The album is excellent.

And there is also a trilogy of video clips, released in reverse chronological order, so you would need to watch the last video first to experience the cinematic journey.

Press play on it.

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

The Record Vault: Dream Theater – A Change Of Seasons (EP)

Mike Portnoy was not happy when the song “A Change of Seasons” was pulled from being recorded in the studio for the “Images And Words” album.

So Portnoy kept asking Derek Oliver to provide funding so the band could record it. Portnoy tried to include it with the “Awake” album and again, Oliver said “no”.

And that’s when the fans stepped in. Dream Theater fans started to connect online via the Ytsejam Mailing List and suddenly, a petition was created to convince the label to give the go ahead for the band to record the song.

Yep, Dream Theater was one of those bands to have a direct to fan connection via their fan club and message boards in the early days of the Internet. Mike Portnoy was key here, as a fan of Marillion, who was also another band which kept engaging with their fans via their fan clubs and much later, Marillion were one of the earlier bands to get fans to fund an album before it became a thing.

At 23 minutes, it was their longest song at that point in time, but the way it is written and constructed, the seven parts of the song, can be listened to individually as separate tracks, if you wanted to splice the track. Lyrics are written by Mike Portnoy.

But.

If the band wanted to record this track in the studio, Derek Oliver said the track must be produced by Dave Prater. As described in the book “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Oliver believed that Prater really understood what Dream Theater was about and when Prater zeroed in to the bands weakness, the band couldn’t hack it, hence the animosity. Prater was the producer for the “I&W” album and he was having serious run ins with Mike Portnoy over triggered drum sounds and with Kevin Moore over his reluctance to do anything that the Producer asked.

While the band disagreed with the Prater suggestion, they relented. as the only way to get funding was to do it the label way. Since Prater was told to not use triggers on the drums, it meant Portnoy wouldn’t be an adversary anymore and his main adversary during “I&W”, Kevin Moore was not in the band anymore. But Prater and James LaBrie didn’t connect this time around and they started to argue. But, in the end, LaBrie’s vocal performance on the track is excellent, so all the pushing and yelling, ended up in a fantastic vocal take.

The EP was released on September 19, 1995, through East West Records.

Apart from the title track, it has a collection of live cover songs performed at a fan club concert on January 31, 1995 at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, England. It’s also their first recording with Derek Sherinian on keyboards.

I know what most people are thinking,

23 minutes of a million notes a minute over complex time signatures. If you are thinking that, you are mistaken. The sections are all songs within a song and one thing that producer Dave Prater has going for him was his questioning of why they want to overplay certain parts.

Like when he said to John Petrucci (as mentioned in the book “Lifting Shadows”), “why are you trying to impress Steve Vai” with those fast technical licks as your first improvised take of the lead was way better than the stuff you worked out days later.

I. The Crimson Sunrise (instrumental)

The song begins and ends with an acoustic guitar. A seven string acoustic guitar with the low B and while I am critical of the 7-strings on fast picked stuff, I really like em on groove orientated stuff, and this is what this song is. A Groove Heavy Rock beast with progressive elements.

As soon as I heard the first notes of the intro acoustic riff I was hooked.

Did they try and recreate “Pull Me Under” with this whole intro piece?

Maybe.

Because there is melody, power and aggression here in the acoustics and when the distortion kicks in, you definitely feel it in your bones.

The first 3 minutes is essential listening. All instrumental but never boring.

II. Innocence

It begins at the 3.50 mark.

And how good is that arena rock chorus, that begins with “Innocence caressing me / I never felt so young before / There was much life in me / Still I longed to search for more” and when it repeats the second time, it’s worded a bit different. “Ignorance surrounding me / I’ve never been so filled with fear / All my life’s been drained from me / The end is drawing near.

III. Carpe Diem

It begins at the 6.54 mark with the start of the acoustic guitar arpeggios, almost classical. Portnoy is now referencing the last moments he had with his mother before she left to catch a plane which crashed.

The last few lyrical lines, “preparing for her flight / I held with all my might / fearing my deepest fright / she walked into the night / she turned for one last look / she looked me in the eye / I said “I love you, / goodbye”.

IV. The Darkest of Winters (instrumental)

I’m pretty sure this section kicks in at the 9.47 mark. It’s got metal and a jazz fusion like lead from Petrucci. There are a lot of elements from “I&W” here especially from the songs “Metropolis” and “Take The Time”. The riff at 11.50 would have been a foundation for a song for any other band. But from Dream Theater, it’s just a riff in a 23 minute song.

At 12.54, Petrucci starts the melodic lead that leads into “Another World”.

V. Another World

It kicks in at 13.03. It’s the big power ballad part of the song with LaBrie delivering one of his best vocals and Petrucci on the lead at 15.39 is perfect with his phrasing, delivering big bends and vibrato lines with short bursts of alternate picking.

VI. The Inevitable Summer (instrumental)

It starts at the 16.58 mark. Myung plays this bass groove which allows Petrucci to bring out the Lydian and Mixolydian scales. This section reminds me of the solo section in “Under A Glass Moon” from “I&W”. Even Sherinian gets a solo moment.

VII. The Crimson Sunset

The final section. It starts at the 20.12 section with a melodic lead that should have been harmonised, Maiden style.

“I’m much wiser now a lifetime of memories run through my head”.

Then there is a complete tempo and feel change for the final verse and the intro acoustic guitar riff appears to bookend a masterpiece.

And while everyone purchased this EP for the original song, the live recordings also deserve a mention.

“Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John cover)

I didn’t know about this songs until I heard them here. Written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John. At 10:46, the song was originally recorded by Elton John as the opener on the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album from 1973, which I then purchased after hearing this version.

And it’s even longer on the Elton John version at 11.09, which came as a surprise to me, as Elton John’s 80’s hits are all within the 4 minute range of commercial radio. I can definitely hear how this song influenced Jim Steinman and “Bat Out Of Hell”.

Who said that cover songs take away from the original?

“Perfect Strangers” (Deep Purple cover)

Written by Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover. It’s the title track from their 80’s comeback album in 1984. This version is very faithful to the original version, and guess what, I went out and purchased this Deep Purple album based on this cover.

“The Rover” / “Achilles Last Stand” / “The Song Remains the Same” (Led Zeppelin cover)

The songs used here for the medley are written by Robert Plan and Jimmy Page. Dream Theater took the best bits of these songs and made a 7.30 minute track that is worthy.

“The Rover” is a song from the “Physical Graffiti” album, with a good bluesy groove which is played to lead into “Achilles Last Stand” which is from the “Presence” album. Here we get most of the singing section of the song, the interludes and that progressive like riff which is played during the solo. Finally, the song is rounded out with some sections from “The Song Remains The Same” from the “Houses Of The Holy” album.

LaBrie proves that you can still pay homage to Robert Plant without sounding like him (remember Lenny Wolf) and Petrucci must have made a deal with Aliester Crowley as he is basically Jimmy Page.

“The Big Medley”

The last song. A mash up of songs from a diverse list of artists that clocks in at around 10 minutes.

It starts off with “In the Flesh?” a Pink Floyd cover.

At the 2.30 minute mark, the awesome riffage of “Carry On Wayward Son” from Kansas kicks in.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen kicks in 4.35 that whole hard rock section after the operatic vocals. Petrucci then goes into the lead break.

“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” from Journey kicks in at 6.00. It shouldn’t work here, but it does. Its 12/8 bar room boogie riff works perfectly after “Bohemian Rhapsody”. LaBrie croons as good as Steve Perry and what else can be said about Petrucci who can move between Jimmy Page, Richie Blackmore, Dave Gilmour, Brian May, Kerry Livgren and Neal Schon so effortlessly. And then he covers Steve Morse and Steve Hackett easily.

“Cruise Control” from Dixie Dregs kicks in at 8.11. This music was new to me back then.

“Turn It On Again” (Genesis cover)”

This part kicks in at 9.14. The riff is immediately memorable, yet familiar as I feel that it influenced some sections on “Innocence Faded” from the “Awake” album.

By the end of the medley, I was out and about seeking albums from Genesis, Dixie Dregs, Journey. I already had the Queen and Kansas albums that had those songs.

If you haven’t heard this EP (which by the way is an hour long), press play on it.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 16 to May 29

Life always throws curveballs. I have reached the stage in my life where I don’t have the time to do my full time IT job. I wouldn’t have it any other way with all of the family distractions, however my blogging has suffered a fair bit in 2022, from the usual daily posts to a post or two in a week and then back to daily posts and then to one or two a week again. Even reading and commenting on posts has gone a bit slack, but I will get around to reviewing it all.

So here is a two week review of Destroyer Of Harmony History.

4 Years Ago (2018)

Copyright was designed to protect the artist and to enhance culture. It did this, by giving the artist a monopoly on their works, so they could make money from their works and have an incentive to create further works. This monopoly was for a short period with the option to renew. Once the expiry date passed, the works became part of the public domain for future generations to build on and use. Like how the 60’s musicians took all the Blues classics from the 30’s that had terms which expire in the 50s and the “British Invasion” was born.

But.

Corporations started to rise because of these monopolies and what we have now is a copyright standard so far removed from what copyright was meant to be. For over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning.

“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?”
Todd Rundgren

“Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device”
Lawrence Lessig

The songwriters and the actual artists will never be properly compensated because of poor record keeping from the record labels and the publishing organisations, but these same organisations blame the technology companies for not doing enough to seek out the songwriters.

But the labels licensed their catalogues to the techies, so wouldn’t they have the information as to who wrote what. Especially for the lesser artists.

There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down the Sunset Strip in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The “Censored” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV had a ball with it.

And the clip is misleading. While it looks like the guys are having fun, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow managed to get married and still screw anything that moved, while Vince Neil was still on probation from his car crash homicide and pretending to be sober. In other words, life in the Crue was chaos with a capital MC.

The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.

Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion
Greed has been crowned the new king

From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.

And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.

Artists always had a lot of songs in the bank. Sometimes they didn’t even release their best song. They always withheld some for the next album and the album after. And they kept on writing.

Majority of artists are intrinsically motivated. The joy of creating a new song is what motivates them. If the song gets public acceptance, and it brings in money, great. As long as they are still motivated by the joy of creating a new song, they will be fine. As soon as they are motivated by the need to match or better the popularity of the “hit” song, then they are in trouble.

Social media is there to give you instant feedback. After the show is over, people are commenting. After a song is released, people are commenting. It gives you the ability to connect and know your fans, to interact with them and to get a feel for what they like and want from you.

Remember music is forever, and it needs people to like it. Be creative and never stop.

It takes artists a while, but they eventually realise how much their copyrights are worth. Nikki Sixx on Twitter said that the best industry lesson he learned was that Motley Crue didn’t really need a record label after the first two albums. And this antipathy towards labels ended up with Motley Crue getting their rights to the Masters back in 1998 from Elektra.

And then you have instances where artists need to sell their songwriting credits because of bad business decisions. K.K. Downing, founded Judas Priest. He left the band in 2011 due to issues with the other members and he purchased a golf course, which went into administration. As part of bankruptcy, Downing sold the rights to 136 songs he co-wrote. According to the article, these songs generate $340K to $400K in royalty payments annually back in 2018. Those numbers are only growing and the Copyright holders, (the Labels and The Publishers) are making their money back tenfold.

On the other side, is the graphic artists who normally get paid a flat fee for their services to create/design an album cover. At the time of designing the cover, no one really knows the impact the album might have on culture. So is the graphic artist to get paid extra when the album they designed the cover for broke through and sold millions. Case in point, Jethro Tull and the iconic “Aqualung” cover.

In the 70’s a young artist was hired by Chrysalis for $1,500 via a handshake deal to create three paintings to his style and content for Jethro Tull’s new album. The album went on to become Jethro Tull’s best-selling album, with over 7 million copies sold and so many anniversary editions issued. And apart from the great music, the album cover has become iconic, being re-issued on cassettes, CD’s, T-shirts and what not. And the artist who painted it, well, the label contends it was a “work for hire” agreement. And with no written contract, the label can say anything, so Chrysalis (now Warner Brothers) said the copyright for the paintings belonged to them. Fancy that. A label claiming to own the artistic rights to art.

When it comes to artists and copyright law, it’s very messy, especially for famous works as the companies don’t want to lose the rights to valuable works. So the corporations always try to extend Copyright terms.

As much as I like using Spotify, once they reach critical mass, the prices will go up. But it’s easier said than done, as there is a lot of competition in streaming these days. And one of the key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but every time they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Copyright monopoly anyone.

And back in 2018, my Netflix subscription went up and it went up again last year, while the shows I watched they keep cancelling like “Altered Carbon” or “Sense8”. But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.

Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. It’s was good then and it’s still good today, a timeless album.

And on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums hated this album.

On May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”. The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”. It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Can’t This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.

And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is popular on the charts today. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be.

Playing in a band is tough. Everyone wants to do it, but the long road to make some money and no safety net scared a lot of people off. And the ones who stuck it out, are still sticking it out.

Some broke through, some got signed and released music on a label and some still play the bar/club scene. These days, artists can record and release their music themselves, while holding down a full time job that pays.

Music is a lifers game. Because it’s alienating. When you write music, you are normally alone, surrounded by feelings. When you are on the road, you end up alone in a hotel room and for some artists they never come home alive. It’s hard to even speak about depression today, especially when you are surrounded by social media and it’s “everybody’s a winner” message.

So while society might base itself around the winners on social media, the truth is we all lose, each and every one of us at some point in time.

Did anyone hear about the copyright infringement suit between The Script and James Arthur.

Back in 2018, James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” released in 2016 had 846 million streams on Spotify and on YouTube it had over 600 million views.

Meanwhile “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” from The Script, released in 2008, doesn’t even rate a mention in the Top 10 streamed songs for The Script and even their biggest song, “Hall of Fame” released in 2012 is sitting at 419 million streams on Spotify. On YouTube, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” has 172 million views.

G, D, Em and C is the chord progression under question. The Script are adamant that the way they use the Chord progression with the vocal melody is unique and original and they are the first ones EVER to do it. Go to a Christian church and a lot of the songs they sing there use this chord progression. Pick up any album from any era and this chord progression will be there.

The songs do sound similar, but any song which uses this chord progression will sound similar. Of course it’s no surprise that the attorney’s representing “The Script” are the same ones Marvin Gaye’s heirs used for “Blurred Lines”. According to The Script’s legal team, at stake is $20 million dollars.

The reason why music became such a large commercial force is because songs sounded similar. In the book “Hitmakers” by Derek Thompson, it mentions how our tastes in music are based on something we’ve heard before with some slight variation.

How many times have we stumbled upon a new song that we like, listen to it constantly on repeat while we try to figure out what other song it sounds like?

But we live in a world that if someone is winning, someone must be losing. So in this case, James Arthur is winning and The Script are losing, because he is winning with a song that sounds similar to their song and their song sounds similar to another song and that other song sounds similar to another song and so on.

8 Years Ago (2014)

Remember the days of purchasing an album based on a heavily marketed opening track and to find out that the album had 1 great song and 2 to 3 maybe 4 decent songs. And the rest were there as pure filler.

After being burnt so many times on purchases like these, did the labels or artist need any more evidence as to why people took to cherry picking when the mp3 became available. And with streaming, we have taken it up a notch.

The big songs just keep getting bigger and the album cuts are forgotten. A lot of music listeners wouldn’t even be able to name the album that had “Don’t Stop Believin’”.

Yep the labels are at it again. Using money that should be paid to their artists to buy shares in another technology company.

This time around Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have each bought $3 million in shares in Shazam Entertainment on top of the stake they own in Spotify.

The record labels still scream that there is no money in the recording business because of piracy. Yet, Universal Music has also purchased shares in Beats Music and when the Apple billion dollar purchase is complete of Beats, it will be even richer.

Yet, a recent IFPI report shows that the labels invested $4.5 billion in artist and repertoire. If there is no money in the recording business,then why would the record labels spend so much money on artist and repertoire.

Because artists are the lifeblood of the music industry. And it is artists that make the labels money. No one buys an album because Elektra released it.

The labels have purchasing power because of the artists.

The labels have status because of the artists.

The artists have made the label executives more wealthy than the best-selling artists.

So if the record labels own shares in Spotify and Shazam, does that mean by default, the artists also own those shares. The answer should be YES.

Every corporation in power, when faced with the inevitabilities of competition, have a nasty habit of pushing backwards. They assume that by killing off any competition before it gets some momentum, they have done enough to protect their business models. They assume that if they lobby or bribe hard enough and get even more draconian laws passed, it will give them more power to prevent any further problems down the line.

But change is eternal. It is progress and it cannot be stopped. Try as the corporations will, change always happen.

The recording industry built an empire decades ago based on the control of the media and the distribution chains. Teenage kids from 1999 built a better system.

And the system allows for the transitioning of power and control back to the audience and the actual creators. But the artists want to apply the old charging system to the new system.

It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person still buys a physical CD or LP of the artists, that same person should be able to download that whole album via a download site that the artist controls. Coheed and Cambria did this with “The Afterman” releases. Amazon offers it via the AutoRip option however not all artists opt in.

It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person wants to download an MP3 rip of an album for free, they should be able to do it. If Pirate sites make so much money from advertisements, then why don’t the record labels provide the same service that they pirate sites provide and even reward those uploaders for continuing to spread culture instead of locking it up. These people would never have purchased physical anyway.

Music is cultural. It was always possible to identify people’s musical tastes by the clothes they wore and the style of their hair. Our musical identity was a source of pride.

The definition of a casual music fan twenty to thirty years ago meant having a high music IQ and typically purchasing a seven inch single on a weekly basis. The definition of a casual music fan today means having a lower music IQ about who was involved in the song’s creation and focusing all on the song.

Nobody owes a musician a living and what is valuable is subjective.

From the beginning of time, musicians always made money from public performances.

Copyright at its basic level ensures that people receive compensation for a valuable good that they spend time and energy to create. This creates an incentive to put more time and energy into producing new work. Longer Copyright terms do not benefit the original creator in any way whatsoever.

People start to create for the sake of creation rather than money.

Whether people want to admit it or not, every song that is written relies on some sort of connection to past works.

Piracy has never been the problem. The RIAA just found it convenient to blame Piracy. It was all a smokescreen to fool the politicians into action so that they can get control back over the distribution/gatekeeper monopoly they had.

Recording revenues never recovered because it turns out that most people just want the best songs and not all of the songs.

There is a big difference between getting paid a “living wage” and earning one. Just because a musician creates a song or records an album, it doesn’t mean that you need to get paid a living wage. You need an audience that believes that you have provided a service to them by releasing your music.

Music is something people choose to do free and money is a by-product of doing music. A wage is something your employer pays you for doing your part in bringing him profit. If you want a wage for playing music and you are not a superstar act, then you need to put in your 40 hours a week. Be a music teacher, gig every day.

Being paid is good, but being known is better.

You could say wrong time, wrong place.

I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such a band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.

A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.

The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.

While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.

They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.

The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.

Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.

Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.

But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.

It’s there Eighth album.

How many bands out there had their biggest album on their 8th release?

Just to put it into context. Metallica’s 8th album was “St Anger”. Motley Crue’s 8th album was “New Tattoo”. Aerosmith’s 8th album was “Done With Mirrors”. Black Sabbath’s 8th album was “Never Say Die”. Ozzy’s 8th album was “Down To Earth”. Bon Jovi’s 8th album was “Bounce”.

When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.

I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.

What I did know was the music. And the music was great.

In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off.

The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.

The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.

“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.

Then the album blew up.

Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.

And that’s a wrap.

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

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 9 to May 15

2018 (4 Years Ago)

This week in 2018, the Tygers Of Pan Tang were getting a listen. And the cut “Mirror” written by John Sykes got a post.

It’s a forgotten Sykes cut, released in 1981 on the “Spellbound” album.

2014 (8 Years Ago)

This week in 2014 was all about advice.

So the first piece of advice is; “Each style of music regardless of the genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.”

The 80’s hard rock scene began in 1981 and the freeze happened in 1992. Some bands found success again many years later and some acts never recovered.

Crossfade is a band I like but singer/guitarist Ed Sloan is a slow worker when it comes to new music. The review of their album “We All Bleed” is here.

It came out in 2011, five years from the last album. Five years is a long time to be gone from the music industry these days. A lot of living takes place. Fans grow older. Tastes change. At the moment they are 11 years gone with no new product. But Ed Sloan did release a few solo singles around 2017.

Glen Hughes is a survivor, a lifer who has survived a lot.

I’m a big fan of the melodic AOR rock style of Glenn Hughes so I wrote a “Primer” post on his melodic rock career with the disclaimer, “by no means is the list complete”.

Check it out. It covers a lot of ground and different artists like Deep Purple, John Norum, Don Dokken, Hughes Thrall, and Glenn Hughes.

Music used to be about finding some Avant garde musical and lyrical edge and pushing yourself and that edge to the limits.

Want to be as big as Metallica. Forget about the Napster court case and remember that Metallica was a band that had an edge. They were an outlier versus the LA Glam Rock movement.

And credibility is everything.

That is why Rock/Metal bands didn’t really last forever. Most acts had a shelf life of less than 10 years.

Credibility equals musical differences.

How long were The Beatles together? Eight or nine years.

What about the original line up of Kiss? Eight or nine years.

Twisted Sister (the version of Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and AJ Pero) had a run of 7 years before AJ Pero was booted and another year after that the band itself was goneski for a long period of time.

Motley Crue had a run of 11 years before Vince Neil was outed.

Dokken had a run of 7 years before they went down in flames because George Lynch couldn’t get over the fact that the band he was in was called after the lead singer.

Niches. There are lots of them.

There’s always an audience that sees their scene as a sense of belonging and a badge of honor. In some cases, that sense of belonging is more important than the quality of the music.

If you really want to have success, you need to know as much information on music publishing. Because the longer you control your own publishing, the more power you will hold in negotiations if you have a hit song.

If you really want to have success, don’t hand over your copyright unless you are aware of the consequences of doing so.

Because there is so much music available we gravitate to what is great. And that could happen the instant you put out a new song or it could happen years after. Sometimes decades.

Which means there will be fewer acts that will reach critical mass. And for the ones that miss the old days guess what, they are never coming back. A career in the music business was always about that one song.

It was a lifestyle of round ’em up from whatever place or establishment they were in, go on the road, and see what happens.

In between trips they will write songs, try em out live, and then go and record the tracks that worked the best in a live setting. Some people got rich in the process and others got rich from the lifestyle.

Towards the end of the seventies, artists ceased doing it this way.

Because of the “Blockbuster” record label business model.

In the music business, the Blockbuster Business Model refers to a method of spending large amounts of money on recording and marketing, with the hope that the music will become a blockbuster, generating high returns. If a band had some traction, then they were perfect candidates for the “Blockbuster Record”. Plus it also helped that before the Soundscan era, the record labels found a loophole in the certification process that was based on distribution numbers instead of sales numbers.

Artists started to spend 12 months in a studio and albums started to cost millions.

The record labels knew what they were doing. Spend millions recording it, then print up a million copies of it and you have a platinum record to give to the band.

So do you want to know what being in a band is really like now?

It is a lifestyle of writing and releasing songs, connecting with fans and being as human as possible. Some people will make money in the process, some people will walk away and complain that piracy is killing everything and then others will still get rich from the lifestyle. When the song turns into a great song, the band will hit the road.

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

Al Pitrelli – 1993 to 1996

And we continue with Al Pitrelli’s story.

By 1993, a lot of artists who got their break in the 80’s had nothing doing. Even his band Danger Danger was struggling. Their album “Screw It”, released in 1991 got zero skulls out of 5 in the reviews I came across. The reviewers had enough of song titles like “Slipped Her The Big One” and “Horny S.O.B”.

The million bucks spent on the album would never be recouped, the band got dropped and it took another four years for Danger Danger to resurface with “Dawn” in 1995 on an unknown label.

But before they got dropped by Epic, there was an attempted album called “Cockroach” scheduled for 1993, however vocalist Ted Poley sought legal action to prevent it from being released as Bruno Ravel fired Poley after the album was completed and then got Paul Laine to re-sing it.

Due to the court case, Epic shelved the album but money talks and in 2001, it was finally released with Disc 1 being the Paul Laine version and Disc 2 being the Ted Poley version.

But while old friends had their various issues, Al Pitrelli was steaming ahead.

He was doing studio work with artists like Taylor Dayne. At this point of her career, Dayne was on fire, and a lot of money was thrown her way by the label for her third album. A lot of great songwriters were commissioned to work with Dayne and they bring their own players. Pitrelli on this case, played guitar on two tracks “Dance With A Stranger” and “I Could Be Good For You” on Dayne’s “Soul Dancing” album released in 1993. And like his previous studio work, Pitrelli was asked to perform again on a cut written by Diane Warren (“I Could Be Good For You”). I guess he had the soft rock mojo Warren was looking for.

His “Coven Pitrelli O’Reilly” project released “CPR” in 1993.

His “Morning Wood” project finally saw a self-titled release in 1994 (in Japan only and it wasn’t until 2002 that it saw a European release), along with Asia (“Aria”), Widowmaker (“Stand By For Pain”), the self-titled “Ten Ton Tide” album and “Out Of Control” by TM Stevens.

The “Morning Wood” band was Pitrelli’s old pal, Chuck Bonafante on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars, Tony Harnell from TNT on vocals and Danny Miranda on bass and keyboards. The album was all acoustic, mainly covers with a few originals.

The “Stand By For Pain” by Widowmaker is an album to be spoken of highly in relation to Hard Rock/Groove Metal. But like the heavy rock Widowmaker debut, it is largely ignored or forgotten. Dee Snider couldn’t catch a break post Twisted Sister, however he has shown his resilience, slowly rising back up year by year, first by a radio show, then as a screenwriter/director and when Twisted Sister reformed in the piracy decades, they were surprised to see that their music was more popular than ever.

Pitrelli also helped an old mate in Derek Sherinian get the keyboard job with Dream Theater after the departure of Kevin Moore. Al Pitrelli and John Petrucci used to teach guitar at a Long Island Guitar store, and Pitrelli put a call in to Petrucci to hire Sherinian who Gene Simmons described as the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher.

Pitrelli was also back in Asia for another album called “Aria” released in 1994. This period is known as the John Payne period. Al Pitrelli played on the previous album “Aqua” but didn’t tour. He played on “Aria” and went on tour this time, however after 4 concerts the tour was cancelled. Pitrelli left the tour early (how early can you leave a 4 show tour) and was replaced by ex-Simply Red guitarist Aziz Ibrahim for the other few shows. The album was also a complete commercial failure.

Another project called Ten Ton Tide released their self-titled debut. The band is listed as “Hard Rock” and “Prog Rock”. If you like Rush, then this band definitely fits the bill. This YouTube video is the only thing I could find on the project but it’s not the album that Pitrelli played on.

The band for the debut album is Jim Toscano on drums, Anthony Tirado is on Bass and Rhythm Guitar, Rob Glick is also on Bass and Guitar, Dan Gibson is on keyboards, Al Pitrelli and Zak Rizvi are on Lead and Rhythm Guitars and Dennes Cynd is on Vocals and Violin. One review mentioned the singer as a cross between Mick Jagger and Kip Winger. But I don’t hear that.

1994 or 1995 also saw a release from “TM Stevens – Out Of Control” called “Boom”, a fusion of hard rock, funk, rhythm and blues and metal.

For those who don’t know, TM Stevens is an American bass guitarist from New York City. He was a go to session guy and if you purchased a Billy Squier album, there is a chance you heard TM playing bass on it. The same goes for Pretenders, James Brown, Joe Cocker, Taylor Dayne, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Riot, Billy Joel and Steve Vai. And it was James Brown who got TM to sing. You know the track, “Living In America”. One of the voices on it is TM.

Apart from Al Pitrelli playing on the first album “Boom”, Richie Kotzen and Al Pitrelli both play on “Sticky Wicked” released in 1996.

In relation to “Boom”, check out the songs, “Supernatural”, “I’m A Believer” (a totally different song to the one you are probably thinking off), “The Gift”, “Hair”, “What About Love” and “Freedom (Never Gonna Give It Up)”.

Savatage were about to be dropped by Atlantic. They had given the band advances for each album and to the label, they never recouped that advance. Pitrelli was the studio player Paul O’Neill brought in to play lead guitar on their last album, “Dead Winter Dead”, released in 1995.

He went on a European tour with them as a hired gun and was to have no more involvement with the band after that.

But.

Something happened.

The song “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) was a hard rock mash up of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Carol Of The Bells”. The guitar leads you hear on the track that a violin normally plays are from the fingers of Al Pitrelli. And when Savatage returned to the U.S, this song had crossed over into the Charts and became a holiday favourite.

When there is a hit, expect a new album to come out. Savatage went back into the studio with Paul O’Neill producing again, but this time around, Pitrelli was a fully-fledged member, playing all the guitars and he was known as the “musical director” of the band. But Savatage was seen as a heavy metal band, and some due diligence by the label suggested that they should change the name of the band for this Christmas themed album.

And “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” was born. Otherwise known as “TSO”.

Also in 1995, a few other projects that Pitrelli was involved in got a release. The band “Place Called Rage” released their self-titled debut. Joe Lynn Turner released “Nothing’s Changed” and “Mojo Bros.” released their self-titled debut.

The “Place Called Rage” band had a few friends from the 80’s, like Chuck Bonafante on drums, Danny Miranda on bass and Tommy Farese on vocals. Released in 1995, it’s a great slab of hard rock rooted in the 70’s Rock movement with a lot of Springsteen style “Americana Rock” thrown in.

The Joe Lynn Turner album “Nothing’s Changed” is also rooted in 70’s Rock. Almost Bad Company like. Pitrelli co-wrote 4 tracks with JLT and also Co-Produced the album with JLT. Other musicians to play on it are Greg Smith on bass, John O’Reilly on drums, with keys being provided by Gary Corbet, Derek Sherinian and Al Pitrelli. This is another great slab of hard melodic rock, lost in the noise of 1995.

The Mojo Bros. self-titled debut is hard to find. A few YouTube clips exist and that’s it. Joe Lynn Turner and TM Stevens even appear on their Temptation’s cover “Ball Of Confusion”. The music is mostly instrumental except when they get in a guest singer for a cover song. The band is Danny Miranda on bass, Joe Franco on drums, Al Pitrelli on guitars and Derek Sherinian on keyboards. These three albums released in 1995 are not on Spotify.

1996 brings us to Vertex.

The “A/2” album from Arcade disappeared from stores as soon as it was released. The music that Stephen Pearcy made a living off was out of style. So Vertex was born when Pearcy was asked to be part of an industrial band by Japanese drummer Hiro Kuretani. Al Pitrelli joined on guitar and Juan Croucier from Ratt was meant to be the bassist, however that spot went to Robbie Crane from Vince Neil’s solo band for the tour. Al Pitrelli plays the bass parts on the album except for two songs (“Time And Time” and “Aint Gonna Be”) in which Bob Daisley plays the bass. Fate would have it that Crane would became the Ratt bassist as well afterwards. In a dropping the names moment, the guitarist in Arcade Johnny Angel had a connection with Al Pitrelli from their brief Talas days.

Vertex was way ahead of their time. Musically, Vertex sounded like a cross between Rammstein (before anyone knew of Rammstein globally), the hard rock genre and Megadeth. Pearcy even sounds like Dave Mustaine in the vocal department. I believe critics just saw it as a glam rocker faking his way through the 90’s pretending to be industrial. But Pearcy is really good on this and the album is forgotten. “Industrial RATT” is a term that I came across a fair bit in the YouTube comments section. The bands Orgy, Coal Chamber, Snot, Static X, Powerman 500, Stabbing Westward and early Filter all sounded very similar to what Vertex was doing.

Another release that happened in 1996, was from the “Trans-Siberian Orchestra” (TSO) who dropped the “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album around the Holiday season and man, it sold. 3 plus million is sales in the U.S for a triple platinum certification. A tour was organised in the U.S and it sold like crazy as well. The fusion of hard rock, progressive rock, classical and Christmas themed music with a bit of blues rock and jazz found itself an audience. A large one at that. And for the audience it was all about the experience.

After a long time as a journey man, a session guru and as a band member/leader trying to get a project up and running, Pitrelli had a project that would provide him with stability and success.

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