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

1985 – Part 3

Here we are for Part 3 of 1985.

WASP – The Last Command

I always thought WASP was huge in the U.S, because they always appeared in magazines.

But they weren’t.

This album and the self-titled debut, got a Gold certification from the RIAA in June 1998, 14 and 13 years after their release. Maybe their claim to fame was due to the controversy of their song titles, lyrics and the overall decadence.

Regardless, WASP has a special place in my music life.

Those opening arpeggios for “Wild Child” hooked me in. And when Blackie tells us he rides the winds that bring the rains, I was interested and the Chorus about being a wild child, so turn the flames higher and be touched and loved.

Well, how can you not like it, even if it doesn’t make sense.

And the Vodka/Budweiser Swilling Chris Holmes breaks out a mean little lick from about 3.50 minutes which brings back memories of the “2 Minutes To Midnight” solo from Maiden, that slow little breakdown section before it picks up again into the intro riff.

How can you not like “Ballcrusher” about a vicious voodoo women who drank all of Blackie’s JD and stole his car?

“Fistful of Diamonds” is Blackie’s social song about the corruption of Wall Street and how the bankers/investors are tied in with the Governments. Because power rules the game. And the power is with the banks. It’s why the Government bailed out the banks when the GFC happened. And the banks gave themselves bonuses and had luxury parties while people lost their homes.

I like the intro to “Widowmaker”. The clean tone section sounds so doomy that when the distortion kicks in, it’s as bleak and dirgey like a Paradise Lost song.

“Blind In Texas” is not my favourite WASP tune, but I do like its high tempo ZZ Top”isms”.

“Cries In The Night” makes me want to pick up the guitar and play it as it moves between acoustic and distortion.

Spencer Proffer was the “producer of the moment” for a few years because of “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot and he was on hand to produce this album, going for crispness in sound.

John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow

How good is the “Rain On The Scarecrow” start?

“Small Town” resonated and was overplayed on radio.

“Lonely Ol’ Night” is excellent and so is the reggae appropriated “The Face Of The Nation”.

“Between A Laugh And A Tear” sounds like a cross between Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen done Mellencamp style.

“You’ve To Stand For Something” is the best song on the album for me. Lyrically, its excellent, dropping cultural references in each verse. And how much truth is in the Chorus.

“You’ve got to stand for something or you will fall for anything”.

And the album closes with “R.O.C.K In The U.S.A”, a track which transports your mind to the 60’s even though you didn’t live it.

Dio – Sacred Heart

The trilogy ends with the Mark 1 Dio band.

The first two were definitely a lot more fun than the third. ‘Sacred Heart’ was a very very difficult record to make for many reasons. I also think that musically it’s a little overly complex for the band. I think we started to kind of wander off course a bit.

I know that Jimmy and Vinny feel the same about that. It was a more difficult record to write and it was a more difficult record to record.

Ronnie was going through some very dark personal issues at the time; he was separating from his wife Wendy who was also the manager of the band. But Ronnie was in a very very dark place and he wasn’t easy to be around at that time. Ronnie was also producing the record…that made it exceptionally difficult for everyone involved. So that was a dark time.

Maybe that kind of clouds my being able to reflect objectively on that record, I don’t have great feelings for that record. But ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘Last in Line’ are two great records. They were very easy to write, they were very easy to record.”
Vivian Campbell

Vivian Campbell would be fired mid-tour, replaced by Craig Goldy. This led to Campbell and Dio going after each other in the press. Campbell would then disappoint a lot of his fans (the same way Gary Moore did ) when he said that he hated all the three albums he did with Dio (the same way Gary Moore said he hated all of his rock records) but in the last few years, Campbell has made amends with his past and acknowledged his heritage.

“King Of Rock N Roll”, “Hungry For Heaven” and “Sacred Heart” are classic Dio songs.

“Rock N Roll Children” rivals “Rainbow In The Dark”. “Like The Beat Of My Heart” has a solo section that makes me play air guitar. “Just Another Day” has a classic up-tempo riff with a classic Dio vocal melody.

And to finish off, how good is the intro to “Hide In The Rainbow”. Another Kashmir like groove to close off an album with a shred-a-licious solo.

And the album is more mature and the arrangements a bit more complex, but it’s still a worthy album.

Vandenberg – Alibi

The last album before Adrian put the band on hold, joined Whitesnake for a decade, disappeared from the scene for about a decade and a half, then tried to resurrect Vandenberg and was told he couldn’t by his ex-bandmates, so Vandenberg became Vandenberg’s Moonkings and in 2020, its Vandenberg again.

“All The Way” kicks it off, with its arena rock riffs and chorus. The way Vandenberg decorates the verses, is Hendrix guitar hero stuff, moving between power chords, arpeggios, single note melodic lines.

Did the Def Leppard guys listen to “Once In A Lifetime” and then went away to write “Hysteria”? Then again these kind of progressions started to become common.

“Voodoo” has an intro and verse riff which reminds me of Michael Schenker. “Dressed To Kill” has a speed metal riff in the vein of Deep Purple’s “Speed King” and “Highway Star”.

“Fighting Against The World” is that classic Euro Rock I like which reminds me of the Uli Jon Roth “Scorpions” era. And Adrian, brings out the guitar hero in him for the lead break.

“How Long” is one of those ballads that moves between rock and classical in the arpeggios and chord voicings.

“Alibi” sounds like it came from the 70’s. Actually “Because Of You” from Storm Force has this same feel in the verses.

The very “Into The Arena” sounding “Kamikaze” closes off the album.

Marillion – Misplaced Childhood

They came into my headspace when Michael Portnoy from Dream Theater kept talking about em in a lot of interviews that he did in the early 90’s. And when I checked em out, Steve Rothery entered my life as an influence.

And this album is a monster.

The synth riff to kick of “Pseudo Silk Kimono” is haunting. And Fish is unique with his vocals and his lyrical phrasing/messages, something that Geoff Tate would take and run with as well.

“Pseudo Silk Kimono” moves into the beautiful strummed guitar for “Kayleigh”, before the arpeggios start and Fish starts singing “Do you remember?”.

And the lead break in “Kayleigh” is so melodic, melancholic and hopeful at the same time.

“Kayleigh” segues into “Lavender” with its major key piano riff.

“Bitter Suite” has this section from 3.45 which always gets me to pay attention when it comes along. “Heart Of Lothian” and “Waterhole” contrast each other between slow and fast tempo’s. “Lords Of The Backstage” sounds like a certain Rush song. And when the 9 plus minute “Blind Curve” begins, I am intoxicated by the various moods of the song and the album overall.

The U2 influenced “Childhoods End” just keeps adding to the variety of the album. And it’s a big reason why I like Marillion. The variety. You get a mix of so many different styles.

Helloween – Walls Of Jericho

The Helloween guys kept on saying that they were like Judas Priest, Scorpions and Iron Maiden, only faster.

And they sure were.

Helloween came into my life because of the song “I Want Out” a few years later and that got me interested to check em out. This album came in various editions. The track listing on this one is from the 1987 edition. Hell, due to a manufacturing error, one of the sides on several cassette copies had the music of Celtic Frost’s “To Mega Therion” on it. And it confused a lot of people.

This is the only album to feature guitarist Kai Hansen on lead vocals as well.

“Warrior” starts off with the same machine gun noises and bomb explosions that Metallica also uses for “One” when they play it live.

The lead breaks in each of the songs are songs within songs compositions, moving between classical influences like Uli Jon Roth Scorpions era and Pentatonic/Modal influences like Michael Schenker UFO era, merged between Iron Maiden’s NWOBHM sounds. Just faster.

“Victim Of Fate” sounds like it came from an Iron Maiden jam session with riffs that remind me of “Phantom Of The Opera”. Just faster.

And after 2 minutes of 150km speeds, the song slows down like a traffic jam. This part of the song is my favourite, as it starts to build up again.

And the lead break that follows gets me playing air guitar. Then it picks up again to a harmonized lead break.

Like “Phantom Of The Opera”. Just faster.

And there is another open string harmony lead break to close the song off. But it didn’t, because with 40 seconds to go, a new lead break was created.

And by the end of the 6 minutes, a classic Helloween song is born and Power Metal with it.

“Cry For Freedom” has this haunting acoustic guitar riff to start it off. “Walls Of Jericho/Ride The Sky” starts off with a trumpet version of “London Bridge Is Falling Down” before a blistering speed metal riff kicks in (which is the start of “Ride The Sky”) to rival anything thrash related that Metallica was doing at that point in time.

“Reptile” sounds like an unfinished demo from “Piece Of Mind”. Only faster.

“Guardians” is patient zero of the Power Metal pandemic. It has it all, the fast riffs, the soaring vocals, the progressive time changes in the solo section and the major key “battle cry” Chorus.

“Phantoms Of Death” sounds like the “The One Riff To Rule Em All” which is known as the “Two Minutes To Midnight” riff but it goes back to the 70’s because it was that common. And a harmony lead break which reminds me of “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”. Only faster.

“Gorgar” has this head banging riff that reminds me of Accept. This is the song, which is the slowest on the album. And Wikipedia tells me that “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” is referenced here. Similar to how Accept referenced Beethoven in “Metal Heart”.

And you know the wrestler Chris Jericho who is also the singer in a band called Fozzy, well he took his name and wrestling manoeuvre from the title of this album.

And into the time machine we go for 1977 – Part 3.

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

Kamelot

I don’t mind my fix of metal that is now known as a whole separate genre called power metal or symphonic metal. Back in the Eighties it was just metal. Pure and simple. I think that the press at that time just needed something to define certain styles of metal. So they started to come up with different names like Pop Metal, Thrash Metal, Hard Rock, Glam Metal, Death Metal, Power Metal and so on.

In relation to 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. They think by having a hot female opera singer in the band makes them good enough. Basically if the song is shit, then the whole band is shit. Like in Sport, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Kamelot is not one of them. Because Kamelot is not all about higher tempos. There is more variation in their music.

Symphonic – CHECK
Progressive – CHECK
Groove – CHECK
Classic NWOBHM – Check
Hard Rock – CHECK
Classical – CHECK

Credit Thomas Youngblood, one of the bands original founders. In 1991 he along with drummer Richard Warner founded a band steeped in technical guitar playing. He stayed with that style during and after the Grunge wave. Eventually in 1995, Kamelot released their first album on the German Record Label “Noise”.

Yep, it’s that same label that specialised in melodic speed metal and they also had Helloween on its roster. It’s also the same label that took Helloween to court and won a seven digit payout in their favour when Helloween broke ranks and went to the majors direct.

So 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. And the song is not even well-known. YouTube has a few fan audio videos with numbers less than a thousand. Spotify doesn’t even rate it in the Top 10.

The next song that appeals to me is “My Confession” and its the Within Temptation and In Flames connection that hits home. On YouTube, the video to “My Confession” is at 1,176,127 views. The other single from the album, “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)” is at 1,141,127 views. Actually, the bands YouTube numbers are way better than their Spotify numbers. If I was the band’s manager I would be taking note of this. The fans like the clips and the visuals that go with it.

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.

Are people listening to your music on a daily basis?

That is more important than how many first week sales are achieved.

One final note, when the cover by Stefan Heilemann reminds me of a cover that Gustavo Savez did for the last band I was in. I just found it bizarre that the styles are so similar.

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Music Isn’t Just About Record Sales

Change is hard and in the end it is always worthwhile. There is a cliché that goes that after being fired or rejected or dumped one door closes and a million other doors open that will lead to a better place. It is true, however the main part that nobody talks about is how long it’s going to take to get to that better place.

The highs of success and fame are brief. It begins to fade and then what are you going to do next?

Vince Neil

On July 6, 2013, Vince Neil played a solo show in Mexico City. The venue was Jose Cuervo Salon. The capacity of the venue is 1,500. The attendance was 64 people. That’s right, less than 5% of the total venue size. Total Gross sales for the night was $2,286. There was only one ticket price at $35.72. So does anyone really care about Vince Neil outside of Motley Crue? Based on the ticket sales, Mexico sure don’t.

What a hard truth that is? Music is a tough business and this is what happens when you go out every night with Motley Crue and sing out of tune. Also why is he touring. He hasn’t released anything new recently. Also when he does tour, all he does is play Motley Crue songs. No one wants to hear Vince Neil do Motley again. I don’t know why, as there are some great songs in the Vince Neil catalogue that fans would love to hear live.

His debut album “Exposed” celebrated 20 years this year. He should have commemorated that release? It is a great album and there is an audience for it. It might mean he plays smaller venues that fit a couple of hundred. However he needs to sing in tune to get people to come back time and time again.

It is a good thing he is getting into the restaurant business and the Tequila/Wine business.

Classic Rock and Southern Rock Rule in Gilford, New Hampshire

On July 3, 2013, the Gigantour tour hit Gilford, New Hampshire. The venue was Meadowbrook. The capacity of the venue is 6,657. The attendance was 1,308. That’s right, 1,308 people turned up to watch Megadeth, Black Label Society, Device and Hellyeah. Total Gross sales for the night was $49,860. There was three tiers of ticket prices ranging from $42, $33 and $23.75.

My first opinion was that the low attendance is due to the poor recent albums put out by the bands involved. Don’t get me wrong, all of those albums are worthy of a listen, but there is nothing really engaging to go back for seconds.

This show should have been a sell-out. The Gigantour tour has never hit Gilford, New Hampshire before. So it is not a market that has seen the Gigantour tour before. However, if you take just the town of Gilford and its population of 7000, then you see it is a small market and the attendance of 1,308 people is not a bad result. Add to the mix that other rock shows are playing the same venue in the weeks leading up to the Gigantour show and in the weeks after, you start to form a different viewpoint.

With most shows a lot of people come from surrounding towns as well. I know in Australia that Sydney is the place that most bands play, however the audience is derived from places in NSW that are a decent hour or three or five away from Sydney.

On July 9, 2013, Daughtry, 3 Doors Down, Halestorm and Bad Seed Rising also played the Meadowbrook at Gilford, New Hampshire. The attendance was 2,718 in a venue that fits 6,219 (for this shows the capacity was reduced due to the stage size). Total Gross sales for the night was $142,431. There was four tiers of ticket prices ranging from $59.50, $49.50, $39.50 and $29.50.

Again not even half full. Daughtry is a platinum selling major label backed super star. 3 Doors Down are also in the same league, although they haven’t reached the same heights as the early two thousands and Halestorm are Grammy award winners. So what’s gone wrong. Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company is what went wrong.

On July 26, 2013, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company also played the Meadowbrook at Gilford, New Hampshire. The attendance was 6,671 in a venue that fits 6,671 (that’s right people, classic rock and southern rock sold out the venue). Total Gross sales for the night was $407,641. There was three tiers of ticket prices ranging from $79, $59 and $33.25.

Classic rock and southern rock trumped everyone. Lynyrd Skynyrd released “Last of a Dyin’ Breed” in August 2012 however that album was dead and buried by the July 2013. Bad Company on the other hand haven’t released anything worthwhile for a long time. However when you combine the two acts, put a 40th Anniversary name to the tour and you have people from that era interested. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first album release and Bad Company’s formation happened 40 years ago. To prove my point, I am going to watch Bon Jovi in Sydney, because I want my kids to experience it.

Classic Rock Rules Part II

On July 19, 2013, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band played a show in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The venue was the MTS Centre. The capacity of the venue is 8,397. The attendance was 8,397. Total Gross sales for the night was $724,948. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $107.15 and $63.31.

Talk about turning the page. What a comeback from the man with the golden voice? Thank Metallica for their cover of “Turn The Page” in 1998. The Metallica version made Bob Seger cool with the metal community and who can forget the Metallica clip with Ginger Lynn.

Another turning point for Bob Seger’s comeback was 3 Doors Down and heir song “Landing In London” that Bob Seger sang on.

Once “Landing In London” came out in 2005, interest in Bob Seger was renewed. It was followed by a new album in 2006 and a few Greatest Hits / Live packages in between.

Guess what else is happening in the world of Bob Seger? A new album is on its way. Isn’t that like the old guard. He is hot at the moment so let’s release a new album. Why don’t the people that advise Seger release a new song first and see how it resonates with the public before dropping a slab of them.

Classic Rock III

On July 2, 2013, Alice Cooper played a show at South Bend, Indiana. The venue was Morris Performing Arts Center. The capacity of the venue is 2,552. The attendance was 1,662. Total Gross sales for the night was $77,967. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $69.50 and $39.50.

This is Alice Cooper fresh from his run with Marilyn Manson that ended in June. This show was billed as “An Evening With Alice Cooper” and it was his first show in South Bend in 4 years. There is still juice in the tank of a cultural icon.

On July 28, 2013, Ted Nugent and Laura Wilde played a show in Nashville, Tennessee. The venue was the Ryman Auditorium. The capacity of the venue is 2,037. The attendance was 1,254. Total Gross sales for the night was $67,893. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $59.50 and $39.50.

Just like Alice Cooper, Ted was coming off a Classic Rock run with REO Speedwagon and Styx. As with Alice, there is still life left in our favourite gun toting / wildlife hunter.

Wish they would take a leaf out of the Black Star Riders playbook? Their album, “All Hell Breaks Loose” is a great slab of classic rock songs. I was always a fan of Rick Warwick from The Almighty days so it was great to hear him rocking out again with a Phil Lynott swagger this time around, instead of a Brian Johnson swagger.

What Does A Grammy Award or Nomination Mean in 2013?

Halestorm (along with Age Of Days) played a show on June 26, 2013 at Edmonton, Alberta. The venue was the Starlite Room. The capacity of the venue was 700. The attendance was 492 and the total gross sales for the night was $12,778. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $27.61 and $24.76.

Halestorm are still paying their dues. The Grammy win means nothing to today’s music public. The record labels that pay the entry fee are the ones that can compete. It’s got nothing to do with public opinion.

Hell, Dream Theater and Megadeth were nominated for Grammies last year and their current albums can’t move past the 100,000 mark in sales. If the music is great it will sell itself.

Both Dream Theater and Megadeth should look up the Wikipedia entry of “Instant Karma” from John Lennon.
“It ranks as one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history, recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios the same day it was written, and arriving in stores only ten days later. Lennon remarked to the press, he “wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner.”

This is what both bands need to be doing. Writing some new material ASAP. Forgot about the next album or the tour coming up and go back into the studio and churn a couple of songs out. Surprise us for Christmas.

Alice In Chains is still powerful

On July 11, 2013, Alice In Chains played a show in London, Ontario, Canada. The venue was Budweiser Gardens. The capacity of the venue is 5,248. The attendance was 4,801. Total Gross sales for the night was $237,558. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $56.57 and $30.90.

I can’t say I am a fan of the new Alice In Chains album. It’s pedestrian. However the fans are there. If they are there because of the old or the new or both, it doesn’t matter. The band is a quarter of a million per show band.

Power Metal Rules In Europe

On April 18, 2013, Helloween, Gamma Ray and Shadowside played a Power Metal feast in Hamburg, Germany. The venue was the Docks. The capacity of the venue is 1,500. The attendance was 1,171. Total Gross sales for the night was $51,299. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $52.52 and $43.33.

You have German bands playing in Germany. Enough said. The thing with power metal bands is that they know the size of their audience. You won’t see them playing venues larger than the above size. Maybe 3000 max. it is a niche and it has a hard core and devoted fan base. They even have power metal outdoor festivals where fans even get dressed up in medieval clothing and enact sword fights and so forth.

This is a good indication of bands still carving out a living in a time where they have no promotion in the large US market. This is a good indication of bands still carving out a living in a time where people download music illegally or stream it legally.

The Black Crowes still do good business

On July 19, 2013, The Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band and The London Souls played a show in Nashville, Tennesse. The venue was the Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel. The capacity of the venue is 4,056. The attendance was 3,273. Total Gross sales for the night was $215,641. There was two tiers of ticket prices ranging from $115 and $49.50.

I watched The Black Crowes at the Wollongong Entertainment Centre on April 1, 2008. The venue had less than a thousand people in attendance in a venue that has a capacity of around 10,000, so the stage was moved heaps forward to accommodate for the smaller audience.

It was the best show I saw. They jammed, they extended songs and just had fun. Rich Robinson was the sheriff. He was the one they all looked too for when the jam starts and when the jam ends.

That is a sign of a true champion. The night before, they played to a sold out Sydney audience 70 minutes away. They could have chucked a hissy fit at the small turn out for the Wollongong show, however they didn’t. They came out and they rocked.

There is plenty of money available in music and the more people that have access to your recorded music means more fans that could turn into customers.

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