Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

1976 – Part 1.1

I started this series with the Part 1 posts of 2001, then 1996 and most recently 1986. Now we go back in time another 10 years to 1976. And after this we go back to 2001 for Part 2 and the process repeats.

Rainbow – Rising

Album number two for Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Actually that was the title of the debut album, so the buying public would have some idea of who was leading the group. For this album, it’s just called Rainbow.

Coming into to this album, only Blackmore and vocalist Ronnie James Dio remain from the debut. Basically, Blackmore booted out, the Elf members. Cozy Powell is on drums, replacing Gary Driscoll. Jimmy Bain is on bass, replacing Craig Gruber and Tony Carey is on keys, replacing Micky Lee Soule.

“Tarot Woman”

It starts off with an Hammond or Moog organ.

But it’s that fast alternate picked riff of four note lengths and a small pause which gets the foot tapping. And once the drums and walking bass groove kick in, its blues rock heaven. But metal as well. The way I know metal.

Blackmore’s lead break moves between pentatonic licks and harmonic minor licks.

And I remember trying to learn the organ lead break in the outro on the guitar. Its worthy, check it out.

“Run With The Wolf”

This is basically a blues song however Dio’s choice of lyrics take it into a fantasy place about a hole in the sky and something evil passing bye.

How good is that foot stomping verse riff?

And it feels like Blackmore is playing slide guitar in the lead break.

Dio is a master at ad-libbing the outro’s with his vocals.

“Starstruck”

A great blues rock song.

It’s got everything a song should have. A harmony guitar intro. A memorable Chorus riff and a foot stomping 12 bar blues verse on steroids.

And while my first exposure to Dio was “Rainbow In The Dark”, I really dig his blues strut vocal style.

“Do You Close Your Eyes”

The Pre-Chorus is excellent, musically and melodically. But the lyrics are blah around asking the question “if your partner closes their eyes while they make love to you”.

“Stargazer”

After the drum solo like intro, the guitar riff kicks in. It’s got groove and it’s fun to play.

How good are the exotic sounding keys and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in the Pre Chorus and Chorus?

Dio is in his element here, singing about whips and chains, towers of stone, flesh and bone and rhyming fly, with die and why.

Blackmore’s lead is excellent. His use of vibrato and effects to kick off the solo, sounds like a sitar, and when he goes into the fast alternate picked lines around the harmonic minor scale, it sounds like a guitar solo spotlight at a concert. But the whole could have sounded flat, if it wasn’t for the powerful drumming of Powell.

“A Light In The Black”

A brilliant song, featuring another classic riff from Blackmore in the verses and Dio’s powerful vocals.

How good are the vocals when Dio sings “coming home”?

I like the nod to the past with its “Burn” like lead break with the organ and guitar in harmony. And the drumming from Powell is relentless. Ian Paige worthy.

For the next album, “Long Live Rock’N’Roll”, Bain was out, replaced by Blackmore on most tracks with Bob Daisley doing a few. Tony Carey also did keys on a few tracks with David Stone doing the other half.

And if you want to know what happened between Dio and Blackmore, well here is Blackmore’s point of view over at Louder Sound.

“I was always very close to Ronnie until, to be quite honest, he met up with Wendy [Dio’s future wife and manager], then it got very strained. She was a nice enough woman, but we didn’t really click. I remember trying to sort out a song.”

I was playing an effect, trying to get the song down, and both of them walked by and one of them said: “We want to talk to you.”

Ronnie said. “I’ve just heard from Wendy that you’re on the front page of Circus and we’re not.”

“Really? I had no idea.”

The three of us had done the photo session, but the photographer did a couple of me on my own, and one of these got on the cover.

And Cozy [Powell, drummer] or Ronnie said: “If we’re gonna be your sidekicks then we’ll act accordingly.”

That really pissed me off, cos that was nothing to do with me. After that it went downhill, cos I had no respect for either of them after that. I didn’t like that.

“We’re not on the front cover with you!” Is that my fault?”

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music

1986 – Part 1.5: Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin

Boris Vallejo is on hand to create the cover art.

I did a recent post on this album in February 2021.

This album gets no love. The people who run the Ozzy Osbourne machine are trying their best to kill “The Ultimate Sin” because of the complicated relationships they have with the people involved in creating it and the various disputes over royalty payments.

Jake E. Lee circa, 1989 when he was promoting Badlands, blasted the sound of the album and the fixed mindset of producer Ron Nevison to not allow him to try any different sounds. Bob Daisley in his book blasted the album as the worst Ozzy Osbourne album he’s been involved in. And recently Ozzy, in a Rolling Stone interview, said the songs were just put down weird and that everything felt and sounded the same. Ozzy further mentioned that “The Ultimate Sin” is his least favourite solo release.

By 1986, Ozzy was in rehab and the people that held it all together were Bob Daisley and Jake E Lee. Lee got burned on the song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, so he demanded a contract up front before he even started writing. By the time Ozzy came out of rehab, Jake had already compiled 12 songs and the contract issues from the past made for a tense recording session.

Apart from “Shot In The Dark” (which is credited to Phil Soussan and Ozzy Osbourne) all of the lyrics on “The Ultimate Sin” are written by Bob Daisley to vocal melodies and titles put to him by Ozzy. But as usual, Daisley had a falling out with the Osbourne’s and was fired again and in spite, the first 500,000 copies of the album don’t have Daisley credited. This was corrected after the Osbourne’s were served with court papers.

But for all of the backroom band and business politics, this is one of my favourite albums from Ozzy.

“The Ultimate Sin”

The drum intro from Castillo sounds like it’s recorded on paper skins, but as soon as the riff kicks in from Lee, it’s head banging time. The song is credited to Daisley, Osbourne and Lee.

Overkill, enough is enough
There’s nothing left of me to devour
You’ve had your fill, I’m all I have left
What can stop your hunger for power?

Intoxicated Ozzy gave the media and the religious zealots a lot of material to work with. Daisley had been around Ozzy long enough to see how the headlines played out.

Check out the solo and the outro section with the double kick drumming.

“Secret Loser”

I’ve written about this track before, but who remembers the Charlie Sheen movie “The Wraith”?

In the movie, Charlie Sheen plays a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers one by one, by car racing each gang member and then setting them up to crash and die. “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.

How good is the intro riff?

Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease / I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees

Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.

Check out the guitar solo from Lee.

“Never Know Why”

If we’re offensive and pose a threat
You fear what we represent is a mess
You’ve missed the message that says it all
And you’ll never know why

I guess too many people judged heavy metal and hard rock music without really getting to know it and the people involved with it. I guess they will never know why we rock.

Make sure you check out the outro solo.

“Thank God For The Bomb”

The intro riff from Lee, is sleazy and sinister at the same time.

The title is almost Alice Cooper like, and musically, it feels like a Van Halen track from back in the David Lee Roth days.

“Never”

An underrated track.

The “I Don’t Know” meets “Suicide Solution” verse riff is the link to the past which gets me interested.

“It is the chain that you’re dragging that was once your relief”

That house you wanted, is now the thing that gives you worry. The family you wanted, is now the thing that gives you happiness but also stress and fear.

How good is the Chorus!

Did I mention the solo is killer.

“Lightning Strikes”

It’s so creative what Lee did here.

Take the riff from “Crazy Train” and play the higher notes in a different order over the F#m pedal point. It’s the essence of creativity. Take something that came before and tweak it.

I’m not apologizing
I am what I am
There is no compromising
I don’t give a damn

Ozzy was rocking all night, alright and he didn’t give a damn.

“Killer Of Giants”

The acoustic/clean tone electric intro grabs my attention straight away.

But how good is the fingerpicked verse when Ozzy sings “if none of us believe in war, then what are the weapons for?”

The vocal melody and guitar riff for the Chorus gets me out of chair, singing, “mountain of protests for not stopping the war”.

And that guitar solo. So emotive and really bluesy.

“Fool Like You”

Another underrated deep album cut.

How good is that intro?

If it doesn’t get you up and banging that head, then you have no heartbeat.

You’re hearing what you want to hear
Misunderstanding all you see
An attitude in all of us
Is it really you and me

As much as we tell ourselves we don’t have a bias, we do. All of us.

Did I mention that the lead break is a killer?

It is.

Lee goes all exotic and harmonic minor.

And how good is the section, when they come out of the solo, with Lee allowing the power chords to ring out, while Castillo goes to town with drum fills.

And there is an outro solo, which is too brief as someone made the dumb decision to fade it out.

“Shot In The Dark”

The big hit.

The way Lee decorates the song with the riffs, melodic fills and leads is excellent and of course Soussan keeps the bass line driving along.

The album is 35 years old and no re-release has happened.

But the fans don’t forget.

And for me, it was my entry point to Ozzy.

Play it loud.

\::/

Part 1.1 on Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time is here.

Part 1.2 on David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile is here.

Part 1.3 on Metallica – Master Of Puppets is here.

Part 1.4 on Europe – The Final Countdown is here.

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1986 – Part 1.4: Europe – The Final Countdown

The media loved to play off Bon Jovi and Europe against each other, but they operated in different spheres. Europe always had the Euro/classical vibe to their music. Even at their commercial zenith, this Euro/classical vibe was still prevalent.

In Australia, the album was double platinum. In other parts of the world, it was the same, if not more.

Apart from the mainstays in vocalist Joey Tempest and bassist Jon Leven, “The Final Countdown” is the first album to feature keyboardist Mic Michaeli and drummer Ian Haugland, and the last to feature original guitarist John Norum until Europe’s 2000’s reboot.

“The Final Countdown”

At 294.7 million streams on Spotify, it’s a monster track. It’s on every Spotify playlists when it comes to hard rock and the 80’s and number ones and what not.

That intro. Iconic and memorable.

Wikipedia tells me it was a riff composed by Joey Tempest in 1981/82. It sat on the backburner until 1985, when bassist Jon Leven, asked Tempest to bring it back in the mix and write a song around it.

An interview that Tempest did with the BBC he mentions the following;

“I was in college and keyboards had started to make their way into rock music. I thought that could be a good idea and so I borrowed this keyboard from the only guy in school that had a keyboard. I went home and tried a few sounds on it and I came up with that riff. I thought it was very special and I kept it in the drawer until we did the third album many years later.

By then, there were some other bands experimenting with keyboards, like Van Halen with “Jump”. So on the third album, I gave this demo to the guys and said maybe we can do something nice with the demo and then we had an opening for the show.

I can trace bands like UFO in it, sort of a galloping theme like Iron Maiden had on “The Number of the Beast” album on quite a few songs.”

I like how Tempest mentions the influences of the song. It’s how we create. Take something that came before and make it better. And it also shows how ballsy the move was from EVH to create a song based around a synth riff. It inspired other bands to do the same.

How good is that lead break from John Norum?

He left the band as the album was being released. The original album cover has him on it, however subsequent versions afterwards had Kee Marcello, his replacement.

“Rock The Night”

50.46 million streams on Spotify.

A great “Rock You Like A Hurricane” inspired intro kicks off this song.

It was already a fan favourite, as it was played live on the “Wings Of Tomorrow” tour, and in Sweden, it was on the soundtrack of a Swedish film called “On The Loose”, along with the songs “On The Loose” and “Broken Dreams”.

Just don’t watch the video clip.

“Carrie”

123.96 million streams on Spotify. It’s also on a lot of playlists from Spotify, with the main one being the “Power Ballads” playlist.

Listen to the lead break from Norum. It’s the style of lead breaks that Vito Bratta would become known for.

“Danger On The Track”

The lyrics are silly but the vocal melodies are infectious.

But the interlude. It’s got everything. Norum plays a bluesy riff while the keyboard solos, and when he gets his chance, he delivers.

“Ninja”

The intro melodic lead hooks me in straight away. Or maybe it was the “Lights Out” groove from UFO.

This song, along with “Rock The Night” were the first songs written for the album and played live during the “Wings Of Tomorrow” tour.

Make sure you check out the lead break. Norum brings his Michael Schenker and Uli John Roth influences to the table on this one.

It’s a perfect closer for Side A.

“Cherokee”

Artists that weren’t American, were writing about American issues and the treatment of the Native Indian tribes. The idea for this song came from a book that the wife of producer Kevin Elson had and it was the last song written for the album.

The intro riff, which is also the Chorus riff is excellent.

And how good are the small leads in the Outro chorus. Tempest sings “Cher-o-kee” and Norum plays three notes after it, to mimic it.

“Time Has Come”

It’s like a soundtrack song. “Drive” from The Cars comes to mind.

But the bomb in this song is the whole solo movement. It is orchestrated brilliantly. It starts off with a Def Leppard like inspired riff before it goes into the lead.

“Heart Of Stone”

This track is one of those “deep album cuts” which is a fan favourite. The riffs are heavy metal like and that Chorus vocal melody is infectious.

And the solo.

Man, check it out as Norum pours his creativity in it.

“On The Loose”

It’s the “Blackout” feel from Scorpions that gets me to pay attention.

“Love Chaser”

It’s a combination of “The Final Countdown” riff and “Danger On The Track”.

And what a shred-a-licious lead break to close the album with.

Europe would go on and release the excellent “Out Of This World” in 1988 which had more of a classic rock and metal vibe to it, and after a lot of delays and demanded re-writes by the label, “Prisoners In Paradise” in 1991, before calling it quits for the rest of the 90’s. But when they returned in the 2000’s, they returned with power, fully in control of their masters and their careers.

Part 1.1 on Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time is here.

Part 1.2 on David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile is here.

Part 1.3 on Metallica- Master Of Puppets is here.

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1986 – Part 1.2: David Lee Roth – Eat Em And Smile

I had no idea who Steve Vai was until I saw him in the “Yankee Rose” clip, making his guitar answer questions that Dave Lee Roth put forward. And if you think it was a fluke, make sure you check out the cat/kitten noises Vai did for the intro on “Kittens Got Claws” on the Whitesnake “Slip Of The Tongue” album a few years later. The way Vai could manipulate the guitar with the whammy bar, bends and slides and effects to create animal and human like voices is unique.

“Eat ‘Em and Smile” is the debut full-length solo album by original Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth, released on July 7, 1986. The band on the album is Steve Vai on guitars, Billy Sheehan on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums.

Produced by Ted Templeman, it’s got all the bells and whistles of a party about to go out of control.

“Yankee Rose”

Penned by David Lee Roth and Steve Vai. The intro is iconic with the walking bass line and of course the “talking guitar” which seems to have a conversation with David Lee Roth.

From a musical viewpoint, Vai is in cruise control here, making a very simple guitar riff sound interesting with his additions of arpeggios, legato lines, bends and whammy bar manipulations towards the end of the fourth bar of the riff.

The video clip was also designed with MTV in mind, with moves orchestrated to show the technical abilities of the individual band members.

“Shyboy”

The Talas track penned by Billy Sheehan got some added muscle on this album with Vai’s virtuosic playing complimenting Sheehan. And of course, Gregg Bissonette on drums is in his element here.

“I’m Easy”

From Aussie artist, Billy Field who he co-write the song with Tom Price. The whole big band sho-be-bop is not my thing however I don’t mind when rock artists take a song from that style and rock-ify it.

But this isn’t really rock-i-fied.

“Ladies’ Nite In Buffalo?”

Another Roth and Vai cut, this one sounds like it came from the fingertips of Joe Walsh.

The blues rock boogie from Sheehan and Bissonette is excellent and the funky guitar riff by Vai compliments it perfectly. It’s tracks like this that made Dave Lee Roth’s solo career interesting and exciting.

And that lead break from Vai is outta this world.

“Goin’ Crazy!”

It’s another Roth/Vai penned song.

Vai brings the goods with an iconic guitar riff to kick it off. If you think the riff sounds like something you’ve heard before, I always said that the riff in “Finish What Ya Started” which came a few years after, is very similar to this.

The synths compliment instead of detracting.

Check out Vai’s solo and then go to YouTube to watch the video clip put together from the movie that never came to see the light of day.

“Tobacco Road”

A cover song written by John D. Loudermilk, it’s got that big blues rock feel and the way the DLR and the guys in the band do it, is excellent.

“Elephant Gun”

Another track penned by Roth/Vai and this one is full of great Van Halen inspired riffs. Vocally, Roth sings in a deep baritone, something which Axl Rose would do a lot within the Guns catalogue.

The solo section starts off with an impressive bass solo, which keeps happening, when Vai starts shredding the guitar lead.

“Big Trouble”

The “Big Trouble In Little China” film always come to mind when I see this song title.

Does anyone remember the Kurt Russel and Kim Cattral film?

The song has nothing to do with the film except that it’s a sleazy little rumble, written by Roth/Vai with a rap like vocal melody in the verses and a progressive like Chorus.

Check out the blistering Vai solo full of his trademarks fast legato lines with finger taps.

“Bump And Grind”

Another Roth/Vai composition.

Great title with a riff which bumps and grinds its way through the song and Roth is being Roth, having fun and talking his way through the song.

“That’s Life”

A big band cover song written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon. What can I say, is Roth being Roth.

And this line up wouldn’t do another album again or perform together once the tour ended. However a reunion show was planned recently, and it was killed seconds before the band took the stage by a fire marshal who was worried at the size of the venue and the amount of people in the venue.

The free spirited nature of “Eat ’Em and Smile” is attractive and exciting as it feels like the whole album could just go off the rails and crash at any time.

At 31 minutes, man, its short for a release, which was strange for a highly anticipated and expected album. But the impact it left behind is huge, introducing Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan to large rock audiences, along with drummer Gregg Bissonette.

After this, Vai and Roth would do one more album in “Skyscraper” while Sheehan formed Mr Big with another ace guitarist in Paul Gilbert. Both acts had huge success with their releases.

Vai would finally release his second solo album “Passion and Warfare” and he also got a chance to decorate the songs that Adrian Vandenberg wrote for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album after a cool million dollar advance.

Meanwhile Roth hooked up with various guitarist to write the follow up, eventually settling on 19-year-old guitar virtuoso Jason Becker to replace Vai.

“A Little Ain’t Enough” was released in 1991, produced by Bob Rock. It did okay business in sales but before the tour started, Becker was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, rendering him unable to perform onstage. Guitarist Joe Holmes stood in for Becker during the tour.

But the audience just wasn’t there for DLR to fill arenas in 1991, After 15 years in the spotlight, Roth’s brand of hard rock became unfashionable.

And the original era of Roth’s solo career fractured shortly after.

P.S. this is the second part of a post that was meant to be just one post. Here is the link to the Maiden post covering “Somewhere In Time”.

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The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – Second Stage Turbine Blade

I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.

The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.

Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.

Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.

As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.

The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.

The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.

This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.

From a story point of view, there is a great summary over at the Coheed and Cambria fan wiki.

In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.

A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.

“Second Stage Turbine Blade”

It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.

“Time Consumer”

The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.

“Devil In Jersey City”

It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.

“Everything Evil”

This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums

Delirium Trigger”

The heaviest song on the album.

“Hearshot Kid Disaster”

It has a funky riff.

“33”

A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.

“Junesong Provision”

“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.

“Neverender”

The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.

“God Send Conspirator”
A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.

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1986 – Part 1.1: Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time

The first thing that grabs you is the Bladerunner style cover. Bruce Dickinson mentions the same in his book, “What Does This Button Do?”

Apart from buying the album, the fan is also buying a great piece of art by Derek Riggs, who took 3 months to come up with the painting.

During this 80s era, the UK government decided to tax the entertainment industry over 80% of what they earn so this meant that the band and other UK artists had to go into exile and were caught somewhere, far away from home for nine months of the year. So the album ended up being written and recorded in different places and in different studios.

When the sessions started, Bruce Dickinson wanted to do something different, which made everyone laugh. He wanted Maiden to lead instead of delivering just another Iron Maiden album.

But, the fans got “just another Maiden album”. And we loved it.

Steve Harris contributed “Caught Somewhere In Time”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” and “Alexander The Great”. Adrian Smith contributed “Wasted Years”, “Sea Of Madness” and “Stranger In A Strange Land” while Dave Murray brought in “Déjà Vu”.

A chord is strummed, a synth chord rings out and a harmony lead is heard. This repeats for a few times and then a drum groove comes in. Subdued it percolates, changes key and at the fifty two second mark, it explodes.

“Caught Somewhere In Time” had really started. And that exploding intro comes back in the solo section at the 4.50 mark. As Harris once said, it’s about a nightmare trip through time due to a malfunction in the time machine.

The iconic open E pedal point riff starts off “Wasted Years”, Maiden’s contribution to the tales of touring and being on the road for a long time. It’s no surprise that this song was written straight after their biggest and longest tour for the “Powerslave” album which resulted in the “Live After Death” album.

The intro lead riff was rejected by Smith but Harris heard it and told him to work on it.

And the whole solo section is head banging, fists in the air, desk breaking material. Check out the way they build up the intro E pedal point riff into the solo section.

The solo section of “Sea Of Madness” is one of my favourite pieces of music on this album.

“Heaven Can Wait” is the story of a person who is struggling to transition to Heaven. The song just moves along, but when the whole “Take my hand, I’ll lead you to the promised land” section starts off, its pay attention time. Then those “woh oh oh” chants kick in and its desk breaking time. And how good is the clean tone guitar riff under the “woh-oh-oh”.

The guitar intro to “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” is inspiring, There is a film with the same title and Harris once said in an interview something like, “you always have to run in life, move forward, and you do it alone.”

The way Bruce Dickinson carries the vocal melody for the Chorus is excellent, and then the harmony leads kick in while Nicko McBrain is doing double time on the drums.

Then at the 3.30 mark, a blues rock like lead kicks in with pentatonic bends before it morphs into a metal like solo. And the song ends the way it started, with a tonne of memorable harmony leads.

The open E bass shuffle of “Stranger In A Strange Land” gets me interested, but it’s the Adrian Smith riff that seals the deal.

And how good is the lead break.

While the title shares the same name as the Robert Heinlein book, Adrian Smith based it on a story he read about an old sailor John Torrington, a member of the mysterious 1845 Sir John Franklin expedition that attempted to find the Northwest Passage from America to Asia. More than a century later in 1984, he’s perfectly preserved body was found in the ice of the North Pole.

Check out “Déjà Vu” from the 30 second mark, when that harmony lead kicks in. It’s like “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” part 2 and it morphs into a riff that reminds me of “Die With Your Boots On”.

How good is the pre chorus vocal melody when Dickinson starts to sing, “cause you know this happened before”?

And that harmony lead from the 2.50 mark. Brilliant.

There is blowing wind, a slow military march tempo and a clean guitar solo. That is how the album closer, “Alexander The Great” starts, and it percolates musically, until it explodes into the verses.

The lyrics are somewhat like a children’s encyclopaedia article however there is enough detail there line by line.

And that groove and feel change at the 4.50 mark is excellent, with more leads and more harmonies.

Not bad for just another album.

But.

For all its excellence, the tracks on “Somewhere In Time” (apart from “Wasted Years” and “Heaven Can Wait”) are really underplayed when it comes to the set lists.

P.S. This issue of Guitar Legends is one of my favorites with a heap of information. But that will be for another day.

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2001 – Part 1.1: Evergrey – In Search Of Truth

It’s time to start a new year in review.

And I normally have about six to ten records on a post but in this case it had to be one album as it’s one of my favorite Evergrey albums.

So Part 1 is broken up into 1.1 and 1.2.

“In Search of Truth” is the third studio album and first concept album by Evergrey. It is the first album to feature guitarist Henrik Danhage and bassist Michael Håkansson, as well as the only one to feature keyboardist Sven Karlsson. Founder and mainstay, Tom Englund is on vocals and guitars with the very underrated Patrick Carlsson on drums.

Produced by Andy LaRocque, who had produced all the band’s previous albums up to now.

The album deals with alien abductions, based on the allegedly factual account of alien abduction victim Whitley Strieber’s book “Communion”.

The album cover was created by Swedish graphic designer Mattias Norén, who I once contacted for a possible album cover for an album I was involved in, before I decided to go with Brazilian artist, Gustavo Sazes.

An alien abduction story can be sort of blah, but Englund is the master at showcasing his personal side in the lyrics. So what we hear lyrically is how the main character struggles to understand what is happening and how scared and confused they are.

“The Masterplan”

Less than 5 minutes and what an opener. One of my favourite songs from Everygrey. Make sure you check out the live version on “A Night To Remember”. They do a Maiden “Running Free” singalong after the lead section which is perfect.

And the music video clip, with people painted to blend in the walls is unsettling as their eyes open, as the main character is being watched at all times.

“I have decided to keep this tape recorder with me at all times. Just so that I maybe one day can explain all the strange things happening to me. The lack of sleep…the loss of time. But most of all, the sensation of never being lonely…always being watched…”

And then the 7/8 syncopated intro blasts off.

Then that Chorus. The constant double kick, the power chords and the vocal melody which sings;

We are all a part off, forced to live within, a conspiracy for ages, the masterplan

The next time the second chorus rolls around, there is a little melodic lead before it. It’s a “why not” moment, to break up the verse and chorus structure.

The instrumental section in the interlude, the lead break and how they come out of this interlude and back into the Chorus. A masterpiece.

Make sure you check out Henrik Danhage’s outro lead break.

“Rulers Of The Mind”

It has another memorable intro.

The stomping drumming in the verses reminds me of “Kashmir”.

There is this orchestral choir happening over one of the lead breaks, which is unsettling.

And how good is the Chorus vocal melody and we had to live through an intro, two verses and a solo before we got to it. And then there is silence and a piano line. And slowly, it rebuilds up.

Make sure to check out the lead break at the 3.50 mark. Then at 4.21 those orchestral choirs come back in. They are cinematic and desperate. And the last 50 seconds, the Chorus reappears.

At 6 minutes long it didn’t get boring and I press repeat.

“Watching The Skies”

It feels like a Malmsteen or Dream Theater cut with the keyboard solo. And the double kick drumming from Patrick Carlsson is relentless, fast when it needs to be and syncopated when it needs to be.

Check out the section from 4.05 and the excellent lead break kicks in at 4.45.

“State Of Paralysis”

It has a haunting piano riff to kick it off and Englund is in theatre mode as he plays a fearful and confused abductee.

“They’re coming, they’re coming”

Englund keeps repeating those words.

“The Encounter”

“State of Paralysis” and “The Encounter” are basically the same song split into two different tracks. This one is progressive. Like Dream Theater “Awake” style of album.

Make sure you check out the guitar solo at the 3 minute mark and there is this ten second guitar melody that plays between 3.50 and 4.00.

And those same words, “they’re coming” keep reappearing.

“Mark Of The Triangle”

This is probably Evergrey at its progressive best, with tempo changes and technical playing. But still accessible.

The start alone has the bass locking in with the kick drum while the synth plays chords and the guitars play a lead.

This morphs into the guitars syncopating, with double kick drumming and the keyboard playing a melodic lead.

And it quietens down to the verse, which is just bass, piano and drums with a vocal melody.

At 1.30 the trademark Evergrey syncopated riff kicks in. It’s their style.

The whole guitar solo section from 3.55. Listen to the piano riff that kicks it off. All the pop songs from Max Martin use it. It’s a Sweden thing.

At the 5 minute mark the synths become dominant and its cinematic.

“Dark Waters”

The symphonic choir is haunting.

At 2.44 there is a different symphonic choir for a few seconds that reminds me of “Suite Sister Mary” from Queensryche. Which isn’t surprising as Queensryche is listed as an influence.

And the last three minutes of the song is epic, reminding me of songs like “The Aftermath” and “The Storm Within” from their recent albums.

“Different World’s”

How good is the piano intro?

And then Englund sings, with all his emotion.

The piano takes centre stage again at the 50 second mark with another iconic riff.

Then it goes back to the piano intro and an acoustic guitar with more vocals.

At 3.26, it’s the tape narrative again about, “oh god, it’s happening again”. The piano is haunting and at the 4 minute the guitar solo begins with big bends.

“Misled”

The album closer. It starts off with a piano riff and then the band cranks in.

Listen to the ahh choir before the Chorus and then there is a blast beat section of furious double kick before the Chorus kicks in.

Each verse has a different riff but within the same chord structure. Its creative and a progressive way of thinking.

At 2.59, it’s the style of Evergrey that they have carried to this day, syncopated staccato guitar riffs with a keyboard melody over the top.

The whole guitar solo section and coming out of it needs to be heard.

And then its silence, with a taped piano riff playing and Englund singing, “I’m crawling back to sleep” before the whole band kicks in.

I have to mention again that Tom Englund is a very underrated vocalist. Each song bears his emotion and soul. You hear anger, sadness, hope, fear and happiness. His voice is strong, ballsy, unique to him and it avoids sounding like a Geoff Tate or Ray Adler or Bruce Dickinson or David Coverdale copycat which a lot of artists started doing to get a break in the market. And throughout this album, his voice moves between strong and bold to panic, crying and whimpering in “Different Worlds” as he narrates, “Oh, god, it’s happening again / I don’t wanna be here / I wanna go home”.

This was also Evergrey’s first release on German label, “Inside Out”, a move up to a bigger label from their previous independent label. For the label, Inside Out, 2001 was a big year as they released “Burn the Sun” from Ark, “Terria” from Devin Townsend and “In Search Of Truth” from Evergrey, all seen as defining albums in the progressive metal genre.

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Phil Demmel on The Jasta Show

Here’s the link to the Jasta Show interview with Phil Demmel.

Phil Demmel, lead guitar player for VIO-LENCE, formerly of Machine Head is on The Jasta Show. For hard rock fans, Jamey Jasta is the person who wrote the majority of material for Dee Snider’s “For The Love Of Metal” album and working with Dee on a new album. Plus he has albums out as a solo artist and as part of Hatebreed.

I didn’t know of Demmel until he joined Machine Head and I then saw a past link between him and Robb Flynn, when they both did time in the band VIO-LENCE.

It’s a great easy chat between em. Just two muso’s talking and catching up.

Demmel talks about the moment he passed out on stage in Europe at the same time his Dad passed away in the U.S. And he’s spiritual, taking into his life the concepts he likes from Christianity, Buddhism and other religions.

He talks about children.

He found out he has a 33 year old daughter who messaged him via Facebook while he was on tour with Machine Head in the 2000’s and is a product of a 1987 one night high school romance. He has another child from a previous relationship as well.

He also had a vasectomy in 2009, which he then reversed when he got engaged to Bleeding Through keyboardist Marta Peterson in 2012. They have one kid via IVF and another one which “is a miracle”, according to Demmel.

Demmel laughed about never taking the easy route in life.

And both Jasta and Demmel talk about how kids give them focus. Jasta got into podcasting because his daughter wanted to get into it. And I can relate. My kids wanted to make stop motion mini movies so I learned about stop motion. I started to blog because my kids wanted to blog and I did it to show them how. They blogged a few times and stopped.

He talked about his earlier high school bands playing covers of Maiden, AC/DC and Def Leppard. He plays aggressive music and is known for his work with Machine Head but his influences are the same as all of ours, when everything was known as Metal before the labels made up different titles for every sound.

He joined Machine Head in 2002 and he was still working a tradie job, up until 2011. Once the Jackson endorsement money started coming in, he could become a full time musician.

Think about that for a second.

He played and toured the world for a 9 year period and in downtime, had to hustle on a building site for a payday. He remained in Machine Head up until 2018 and he laid down a lot of crushing riffs and a lot of iconic solos, ala Randy Rhoads song within song solo moments.

A listener asked him some of his favourite tracks he’s been involved in.

Demmel mentioned “Farewell To Arms” as he wrote the intro and outro and those sections still give him chills, the Chorus to “Locust” and some of the melodic contributions to “Darkness Within”. “Killers and Kings” was also mentioned as a song he wrote 95% of music to.

He loved being in Machine Head, it was a band he wanted to be in and stay in, but it got to the point where Robb Flynn was going in one direction musically and Phil Demmel was going in another direction musically. So he bailed.

He’s still emotional about the way it ended, the awkward tour and the goodbyes. It wasn’t a clean break, and Demmel mentioned how none of his past break ups have been clean. They’ve all been pretty professional in relation to the departures. He spent 16 years in the band and 98% of it was good, so he’s not going to let the 2% take over the 98%.

If you havent heard him play check out “Darkness Within” and “Locust”.

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Albums That Influenced Jake E Lee

The great Martin Popoff released a book a while ago called “10 Albums That Changed My Life”.

Jake E Lee was one of the artists who gave Popoff his top 10.

The albums “Bark At The Moon” and “The Ultimate Sin” with Ozzy Osbourne introduced Jake E Lee to the masses, but its “Badlands” and “Voodoo Highway” which really showed what Jake E Lee is all about.

But that all ended by 1991.

Since Badlands, he became a recluse and did a few solo releases here and there and he sold some gear for extra cash. He eventually re-appeared with the “Red Dragon Cartel” which didn’t set my world on fire, but as a fan, it was great to have him back, recording and releasing music. And with every release he does I’m still interested to hear it.

So here are the 10 albums which changed Jake E Lee’s life?

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

His first album with Ozzy Osbourne, who told the world he wrote the album with one finger and a piano.

Lee said that this record changed his life. It was exciting to work with pro musicians like Bob Daisley and Tommy Aldridge and to write with Bob Daisley (but Ozzy is credited as the only songwriter on the album) and to record in a foreign country.

The song “Bark At The Moon” is almost at 72 million streams on Spotify. And who can forget that intro riff and the outro solo.

Scorpions – Virgin Killer

This is what Lee said about the album.

“I was in bands by this point. I was going through a lot of different bands.

I was in a funk band and we had a full horn section and I loved playing that stuff.

I was also in a fusion band, where we did a lot of Return To Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra. It wasn’t a popular band, but it was a fun one to play in.

I was in a rock band and for me, at that point, Ted Nugent was huge but he was not really my cup of tea. He sort of simplified everything and it was making it less interesting and I was getting a little bit tired of rock.

So I think the only band I really enjoyed back then at that moment was Scorpions. Uli Jon Roth was a beast on guitar. But like I say, I was not 100% in rock. I was in other bands that interested me more.”

When “Bark At The Moon” came out, Lee came across as very accomplished and experienced, but when you look at the hours he put in with different styles and different bands, you get an idea of the work ethic in place to expand his mind outside of just rock music.

Led Zeppelin – III

Lee saved up his allowance to buy this album and it became his favourite Led Zeppelin album. This is what he had to say on it.

“I heard “Immigrant Song” on the radio and it was such a nasty riff and a spooky song and I was like, great, this album’s going to be bitchin’.

And I took it home and that’s the only song like it on the whole record. It pissed me off.

I tried to take the record back and they wanted to know why.

And I said, “Because I don’t like it”.

“You can’t bring a record back just because you don’t like it”. And I was stuck with it for the next month, until I could buy another new album. So it was the only new music I could listen to then.

And then it grew on me.

After a month, it was and still to this day is, my favourite Led Zeppelin record. And the reason I wanted to address that is, I kind of feel like our Red Dragon Cartel record “Patina” is like that, most of the songs on there aren’t immediately accessible.”

That’s how it was when you had to buy a physical album. Like it or not, you were stuck with it, so you listen to it a little bit more and you start to like it a little bit more. But from the mid 80’s, a lot of filler started coming onto records and it didn’t matter how many times you listened to the album, you just couldn’t like all of it.

And what are people’s views of “Patina”?

I listened to it once and filed it away. It’s time to get it out and give it a re-listen.

Deep Purple – Machine Head

Lee listened to “Machine Head” a lot as he liked Ritchie’s blues influence and how he made a Strat sound so big and powerful. At this stage, Lee was a Gibson guy.

But when he made his debut to the world with Ozzy he was a Strat guy.

Montrose – Montrose

Lee talks about Ronnie Montrose and how he should have been more applauded than he was, because he was a monster guitar play, with a great tone who could write solid songs.

Aerosmith – Rocks

The first record he got from Aerosmith was “Get Your Wings”. It made him a fan, but it was “Rocks” that became his favourite because of the looseness in the guitar playing of Joe Perry.

Van Halen – Van Halen

Lee basically said, when Van Halen came along, they changed his life.

When this record first came out, he quit the other bands he was in and just stayed within the rock bands. They did a lot of Van Halen covers and he started to write songs in this style.

He goes on to say “Eddie’s playing really turned everybody’s thoughts on how to play guitar upside down”.

Long live the King. RIP. EVH.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – Band Of Gypsies

Lee mentions how “Are You Experienced” is the reason he picked a guitar up, but “Band Of Gypsies” is the album he can’t get enough of.

Lee mentioned how Hendrix was so much harder to learn than the other guys like Page and Clapton, and I agree with him. The other guitar players stuck within normal shapes and patterns when it came to leads and playing, whereas Hendrix was different. Lee called him “John Coltrane on guitar”.

Iron Butterfly – In A Gadda Da Vida

This was Lee’s first rock record he purchased. Before that, he was exposed to James Bond soundtracks. He thought it was the heaviest thing he ever heard.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Lee thought Iron Butterfly was the heaviest thing he ever heard and then he heard the Black Sabbath debut. Nobody sounded like that according to Lee.

I posted another post previously when Jake E Lee mentioned his Top 5 guitar solos in a July 1989 Guitar World interview. And he more or less has stayed true to what his top 10 albums are.

The list is Jimi Hendrix and “Red House” from the “Hendrix In The West” album released in 1971.

“Crossroads” from Cream’s “Wheels Of Fire” featuring Eric Clapton.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” from Led Zeppelin “III” featuring Jimmy Page which shouldn’t be a surprise.

“Mean Town Blues” from Johnny Winter and “Stratus” from a Spectrum album featuring Tommy Bolin.

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Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – March 15 to March 21

4 Years Ago (2017)

I wrote about heavy metal music.

In 2018, it was 50 years from when Steppenwolf, screamed the words, “Heavy Metal Thunder” in their iconic “Born To Be Wild” song. And while the reference to “heavy metal thunder” was the loud sound of the motorbike, it seemed to stick for a style of music that was just around the corner.

But heavy metal goes back a bit further than that. I go back to the 1930s to talk about Django Reinhardt and how a certain guitarist from Birmingham used him as a reference to deal with losing the tips of his fingers.

8 Years Ago (2013)

I was on a Jovi kick as they had just released “What About Now”, which I didn’t like, so I did a deep dive into their catalogue. It brought back a lot of memories. And I wrote a post on what made “Slippery When Wet” explode?

But it wasn’t all back catalogue songs, as I posted about how the old scorched earth marketing policy also got Jovi a Number 1 album for “What About Now” and I asked the question if it would be around for a month.

And I can tell ya, the album within 4 weeks was almost out of the Billboard 200.

Then I moved to Vito Bratta and his Guitar World, September 1989 interview.

And I came back to Bon Jovi to talk about two classic Bon Jovi songs waiting to be discovered in “BrokenPromisedLand” and “This Is Love, This Is Life” and having a few gamesmanship digs at the band.

Finally there was a two part review of the Kiss and Motley concert.

To close off this post, there was a personal post on my cousin called “Remembering Mega” during this period.

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