A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Progress Is Derivative 3

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Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. We can paraphrase it to “Good artists try to sound original by hiding their influences”, while “great artists let their influences show”. It’s how the language of music is learned. We imitate our influences.

If you don’t believe me, what is the first thing a person does when they are learning an instrument?

We start by learning songs created by other artists.

Inspiration is not theft. Theft is me taking something and you not having it to use anymore, like your apple or your car. Taking a musical expression and using it in your own song is not theft, as the original musical expression is still there. Here are some examples of taking musical expressions and re-using them in different songs. And in each example, the original expression is still there.

  • Five Finger Death Punch in the verses of “Lift Me Up” paid homage to Ozzy’s vocal melody from “The Ultimate Sin”.
  • Megadeth in the verses of “Kingmaker” paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”.
  • Dave Mustaine wrote “This Was My Life” from his “Phantom Lord” progression that appears from about 2.30 to 3.10.
  • “Live Wire” from Motley Crue borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right”.
  • “My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to “A Flock Of Seagulls” song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.
  • “Hey Hey My My” from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song “I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” from 1980 is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”
  • “Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.
  • “Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993.
  • Even the song “Come Undone” is an amalgamation of other songs. Duran Duran wrote a song called “First Impression” and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was creating a re-interpretation of the song for a covers album the band was doing which would include some re-interpreted songs. The bass line and drum groove came from producer John Jones and a song demo he did called “Face to Face”.
  • The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.
  • “Shepherd Of Fire” borrows from everything. The fire and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The drum pattern is very “Trust” like from Megadeth which is based on based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. The guitar riffs are also very Megadeth like and also based on “Trust” from “Cryptic Writings”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative” effect in action.

The list is just a summary of how the creative arts work.

We take what came before and we build on it. And for creativity to flourish and for cultures to grow like the British 60’s explosion, a healthy public domain is needed which means shorter copyright terms or even no copyright terms.

Copyright is never about paying artists/creators. Copyright was designed by the distributors (book publishers, record labels and movie studios) so who do you think benefits most from Copyright.

For centuries, the distributors have campaigned hard to promote how Copyright is there to help writers and artists. They have PR writers who tell the story of the poor artist who needs Copyright to pay the rent and how dare do people, copy a song instead of paying a price set by the industry for it. These PR writers have turning copying a song, (two songs exists) into theft (now product A is not in your possession).

Yes, Copyright operators do pay artists as a means to make it look like it’s doing the right thing, however more monies end up in the pockets of the organisations than artists.

And all of the great PR work the labels, movie studios and book publishers did in selling the copyright story is biting back at them, via the heirs of dead artists (who in reality should have no rights to songs they didn’t create) taking them to court with plagiarism law suits and what not.

Sort of like our governments who finance revolutionaries, only to have those revolutionaries rise up against their financiers once they seize power.

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Perpetual Copyright and The Public Domain

There is a lot of hate for the Public Domain from the corporations that hold the Copyrights to a lot of culture and also to creators who created those cultural icons. But without the Public Domain, those creators wouldn’t have a bed of influences that allowed them to create their works without fear of lawsuits and copyright infringement.

Hell, even all of the blockbusters coming out these days are story boarded by using scenes from films that maybe should be in the Public Domain. Check out this article from The Guardian about how “Rogue One” and “War For The Planet Of The Apes” came together. As the article states;

“.. the film’s initial “cut”, designed to map out the movie before any shooting took place, was cobbled together by editor Colin Goudie using footage from hundreds of other existing films. For protagonist Jyn Erso’s early encounter with Mon Mothma and her comrades on the Rebel council, Goudie substituted in the interrogation scene from the beginning of Aliens; for the bit where Erso and her pals break into the Imperial data vault, the editor inserted a similar scene from 1983’s WarGames. Old Star Wars movies were also pilfered from. Using this celluloid patchwork quilt, director Gareth Edwards was able to devise a working template for Rogue One (albeit one that would later be ripped apart and stitched back together following extensive reshoots).”

Yes people, it’s okay to be influenced. It’s okay to take an existing work and use it as a template to build upon. No art is created in a vacuum. As the article further states;

“We watched every Planet of the Apes movie, war movies, westerns, The Empire Strikes Back,” Reeves told About Movies. “We just thought, ‘We have to pretend we have all the time in the world,’ even though we had limited time. We got really inspired.”
Matt Reeves – Director of “War For The Planet Of The Apes”

Just because they used other films for inspiration doesn’t make the movie crap. As the article further states;

The fact that many of the above movies are derivative does not make them bad films. Plagiarism, in many ways, is the oil that greases the cogs of the studio machine. Each film-maker takes something from the last, and hopefully passes something on to their successor. It has been ever so since the early days of silent film, and indeed even the era of Shakespeare.

Progress is derivative has been my motto since I started creating music. Be influenced by what you see, hear and read.

And all of this leads me to the Public Domain.

Each year on January 1, certain works should be entering the Public Domain. But in the biggest market, the U.S, the large movie studios and record labels, lobbied hard to change the Copyright laws and since 1978, nothing really enters the Public Domain in the U.S.

The below works from 1960 should all be in the Public Domain in 2017, however they aren’t. And we will not see them in the Public Domain for another 39 years.

The team over at Duke University always put together a comprehensive list. If the below works entered the public domain, creators could use them to build new works without fear of a copyright infringement case. Fans could make their own clips and homages or new movies without fear of copyright infringement.

Here are some movies that should be in the Public Domain that I recognise;

  • The Time Machine
  • Psycho
  • Spartacus
  • Exodus
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Ocean’s 11
  • The Alamo
  • The Andy Griffith Show (first episodes)
  • The Flintstones (first episodes)

Here are some books that should be in the Public Domain that I recognise;

  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • John Updike, Rabbit, Run
  • Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

In the period these works were created, the writers and movie studios had a thriving public domain which they could call upon. They all created the above works, knowing that in time, the works would fall into the Public Domain and people would be free to use these books and movies in their own stories.

But the money in perpetual copyright created business that make millions, which in turn led to these businesses to pump politicians full of money, so they write and vote for laws that grants them a government monopoly.

There is research out that shows only 2% of works between 55 and 75 years old continue to retain commercial value. So apart from the famous works, the 98% remainder of the books and movies do not have any dollar value, however people cannot use them to build new works. No one benefits from perpetual copyright.

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Using Our Influences

From the 50’s onwards, the Copyright industry morphed into large corporate entities. These corporations got laws passed which gave them a powerful monopoly instead of the artist. Laws which changed when copyright expires had the intention to purely to benefit the record labels and no one else. But in order to hide what the true intent of the law was, the labels sold it as a benefit for the heirs of the artist.

So what we have happening right now are lawsuits orchestrated by the heirs of the artists along with their serpent eyed lawyers. And then we have judges and juries deciding how music is created. And suddenly, the music of the departed artist is showcased as being so original and without influence that anything which came after had copied the departed artists’ music.

However, one thing cannot be disputed, all music is a sum of our influences. There is not a single musician alive who creates music without hearing any music whatsoever before. But in 2016, to be influenced by what you have heard in the past is reclassified as “plagiarism”.

Led Zeppelin built a career on copying blues and folk standards while Metallica built their career by copying their NWOBM influences and many others. Oasis built a career on copying from “The Beatles”. The Beatles built a career on copying from blues and rock standards that by the 60’s had become copyright free.

Bon Jovi built a career because Desmond Child re-used songs he already wrote for Bonnie Tyler and others. Then when Jovi had hits, they went to town, re-writing their hits. Seriously, if you look at their catalogue, “Living On A Prayer” has been rewritten for every album that came after “Slippery When Wet.” “New Jersey” had “Born To Be My Baby”. “Keep The Faith” had the title track. “Crush” had “It’s My Life”. “Have A Nice Day” had the title track. “Bounce” had the title track. “The Circle” had “We Weren’t Born To Follow”.

Five Finger Death Punch – “Lift Me Up” has a vocal melody in the verses similar to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy Osbourne. A lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery. The song is getting the plays. People are paying attention and that is what artists want. It is not about sales anymore, it is about listening. Are people listening to your music?

Megadeth paid homage to Black Sabbath’s, “Children of the Grave” in their new song “Kingmaker”. Alter Bridge also paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Revelation Mother Earth” in their song “Fortress”. Continuing on with Alter Bridge, the song “The Uninvited” has a strong resemblance to Tool’s “Schism”. And all of Tool’s songs have similarities in groove and feel to King Crimson. Motley Crue borrowed from Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and Stevie Wright’s “Eve” for their song “S3”.

Do these odes to their influences make them unoriginal?

The history of metal and rock music occurred because of some serious copying. My favourite saying is that all “progress is derivative.” What I mean by this term, is that all the music we love is an amalgamation of music that has come before. In a lot of the cases, this amalgamation involved some serious copying.

It is a shame that we have a generation of people who have grown up with a belief that music is created in a vacuum and they decide that legal threats is the best way forward.

Songs are not created in vacuums. The fun and games for the listener is in pointing out the resemblance.

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Thrash Musics Three M’s. Metal, Metallica, Mustaine!!

According to “The Guardian”, Metallica is seen as a band that revolutionized the metal genre. According to “The Rolling Stone”, Metallica are kings at everything they do.

Metallica for me was an extreme act when I got into them by the mid Eighties. Extreme in the sense that their style was so departed from the “metal” music I knew, which at that time consisted off bands like Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot. When i first heard the opening riff of “Fight Fire with Fire” I felt like me head got chopped off with a chainsaw. It was brutal. By the time “Ride The Lightning” started with its harmony guitars I was ready to snap my desk in half.

So based on the bands I was listening too, Metallica was pretty extreme. Megadeth even more so. Slayer even more and more so. After that, my tastes became elective and depending on my moods, certain styles would win over the other. In the end, as long as it had distorted guitars, I was into it.

Anyway, there was a story doing the rounds a few weeks ago about how Scott Ian believes that Dave Mustaine is the godfather of thrash music or something along those lines.

And to be honest, I don’t agree with anything Mr Ian says about the internet and piracy, but for this, he is not far off the mark.

All you need to do is hear the songs written on the debut “Kill Em All” album and you will hear that the Dave Mustaine led compositions (“Mechanix/The Four Horseman”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Phantom Lord” and “Metal Militia”) had a certain technical and progressive edge to them.  Especially “Metal Militia” which for a young band full of energy, booze and in Mustaine’s case “drugs” it was a surprise to hear a young act attempt a song with time and tempo changes.

And “Metal Militia” is the style that Metallica went with, up until the Justice album. Technical, progressive thrash metal.

Actually going back even further, you need to look at the songs Hetfield and Ulrich had written prior to Mustaine joining Metallica. “Hit The Lights” was not really thrash metal and more a take on the NWOBHM and a chugging riff that was ripped off from “Detroit Rock City”.

But what about Jeff Hanneman (RIP). To me, the songs he wrote for Slayer are songs that pushed the boundaries of the genre. Thrash metal also had socially relevant lyrics over a bed of chainsaw of guitars and fast drumming. The disenfranchised youth of the blue-collar workers understood this message and suburbia was awash with rebellion and revolutionary ideals.

So even though Metallica (the band) are seen as the leaders of the movement, I think it’s a safe bet to say that Mustaine played a pivotal role in shaping the Metallica style. In turn, they took a lot of the noise happening around them and turned it into a career.

But the term thrash proved to be a barrier to commercial success and by the mid 90’s, the Eighties fans of the thrash bands screamed sell outs as they believed their heroes had abandoned the movement. But as Dylan sings in his songs, you need to keep on rolling, keep on changing and keep on exploring.

We all know what the “Black” album did, however Testament followed suit with “The Ritual”, Megadeth with “Countdown To Extinction”, Anthrax were already experimenting with their sound, moving to a more traditional sound with “Persistence Of Time” and a more modern groove sound with “Sound Of White Noise”. Meanwhile, Slayer delivered a typical Slayer album with “Divine Intervention”. Thrash had re-invented itself as a commercial force.

To say that one band revolutionized a genre is like saying one man invented all of Apple’s products, which we all know is not true. All cultural movements are products of many events coming together but in metal and thrash metal circles, it’s one band that is getting all of the accolades because of their commercial success. And history is written by the winners.

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George Lynch and Michael Sweet

George Lynch. As much as he probably despises it, he will always be known as the lead shredder for Dokken. Yep, his greatest claim to fame is under the surname of a person he doesn’t really like.

In guitar circles he is known for losing out to Randy Rhoads for the Ozzy gig, however he was good enough to take over from him at Musonia. Gene Simmons told Lynch once (during the Xciter days) that with a name like George Lynch he would never make it. I guess Simmons didn’t take into account the power of determination and perseverance.

In a roundabout way Lynch ended up with a record deal and recorded “Breaking The Chains” in Europe in 1981. He auditioned again for Ozzy after Randy’s passing however the job went to Jake E.Lee this time around. With nothing to lose, he had one more crack at the big time. With the addition of Jeff Pilson, a new formidable song writing team would be formed in Lynch, Pilson and Mick Brown.

What can’t be taken away from Lynch is that he is a man of many projects. If you want to survive in the music business you need to create. And that is what George Lynch does each year. He creates, plays live and creates some more and plays live again.

But the part that impresses me more is his foresight.

Back in the early two thousands he started “Guitar Dojo” an online guitar instructional course that was way ahead of its time. Hell, Skype and YouTube were not even around at all. Today, every artist has some lessons out there that they conduct via Skype or YouTube. And without knowing it, Lynch was finding different ways to connect with his fan base. The Guitar Dojo became a community that would end up seeing the guitar students turn up at shows, purchase merchandise and recordings.

He self-funded his “Kill All Control” album, which had the song “Son of Scary”. The band agreement in Dokken meant that they split up all the songs equally. “Mr Scary” an instrumental that Lynch wrote by himself was also split four ways. Back in the Eighties it was probably no big deal.

Fast forward to 2008/9 and “Guitar Hero” comes calling, wanting to use “Mr Scary” for the game. According to Lynch, Dokken had a problem with it and he made Guitar Hero’s legal department very uncomfortable. In order to work around this problem, Lynch re-wrote the song on a 7 string and called it “Son Of Scary”. In the end “Guitar Hero” didn’t end up using the track.

He also released “Sun Red Sun” that is a record he started more than two years ago with the last incarnation of the band. On top of that he is also just finishing up the music for another new Lynch Mob record that will be coming out next spring. This version of the band has Jeff Pilson on bass, Brian Tichy on drums along with Oni Logan on vocals. Lynch also has the Shadow Nation documentary and Shadow Train band project to come in 2015.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post!

There is no doubt that George Lynch is a wonderful talent. As good as he is, he doesn’t sing and for that you need a vocalist that is also talented in writing great vocal melodies. And he found that vocalist in Michael Sweet, who is another musician that is also creating and working non-stop.

Check out Michael Sweet’s output since 2005.

2005: Stryper – Reborn
2006: Michael Sweet – Him
2007: Michael Sweet – Touched
2007: Stryper – Live In Puerto Rico
2007: Stryper – The Roxx Regime Demos
2008: Boston Tour
2009: Stryper – Murder By Pride
2011: Stryper – The Covering
2013: Stryper – Second Coming
2013: Stryper – No More Hell To Pay
2014: Michael Sweet – I’m Not Your Suicide
2014: Stryper – Live At The Whisky
2015: Sweet & Lynch – Only To Rise

And that is what I am doing right now. I am listening to the Sweet and Lynch album “Only To Rise”.

From all of his projects since Lynch Mob’s second album, this is the best one by far. Michael Sweet as always delivers a killer vocal performance and in some cases, his melodies take pedestrian songs into a whole new stratosphere. “Recover” is one example. The intro and verses are okay, but when that chorus crashes down around the ear drums and Sweet’s glass shattering vocals hit the spot, all bets are off. The album has got twelve songs, however nine songs would have made a perfect album.

The Wish
This song is the star of the album. That chorus vocal melody and the guitar melody under it are brilliant.

“Girl I want to love you just like Hollywood
Like a New York Times best-selling fairy tale
A knight in shining armour who’s defending you
The wish within your well”

Dying Rose
Michael Sweet mentioned in an interview that he asked George Lynch to give him music with a Dokken vibe/feel like “The Hunter” (track number 2 from the Under Lock and Key album). That song ended up being “Dying Rose”.

Lynch further stated in a Guitar World interview that “Dying Rose,” has a “country-esque, Nashville element to it. It’s a beautiful melody and chorus with a nice hook.”

Love Stays
Michael Sweet mentioned that “Love Stays” is one of his favourites. He likes the vibe, the feel, the drum groove and just the way it sounds. The funny thing is that they are all the bits I dig as well.

As soon as that guitar riff comes in to start the song, I knew I was listening to something special especially when it transitions into a Beatles/ELO “Mr Blue Sky” bridge. Overall, the song could have come from the Max Martin stable of pop rock songs. Give it to any pop star of the week and watch it rise.

Time Will Tell
It reminds me of a band that is a huge influence on me musically and that band is Y&T.

Rescue Me
I read that Michael Sweet asked Lynch to give him something a little Journey-ish. The reply was a bunch of riffs titled “Bad Journey”. It might have that old-school Journey vibe however it’s got that Led Zep/Bad Company blues rock vibe as well.

Me Without You
The way the guitar transitions between chords reminds me of Michael Schenker for some reason. I really dig this song. The intro and the vocal melody are just brilliant. Haunting even.

Recover
One of the best rock/metal songs I have heard in a while. When that chorus crashes down around the ear drums and Sweet’s glass shattering vocals hit the spot, all bets are off.

September
I’ve read some comments and reviews that mention it’s hard not to think of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” during the intro and choruses of “September”.

Only To Rise
This song is the “Hey, dude. Give me something that’s a little Van Halen-ey.” And it sure is.

The whole album is an example of the progress is derivative model.

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The Legend of Vito Bratta

When it comes to the Eighties and the so-called “Hair” bands, many people saw the image and failed to dig deep into the album and listen to the music. White Lion was such band that was labeled a hair band. Did they have hair? Of course they did and it was teased to the hilt. Did they wear tight clothes that looked dorky? Of course they did. They did all of that and they rocked hard.

The lifeblood of the band without a doubt was Vito Bratta. He is a dead set superstar. Even today, if you look on YouTube and you come across any White Lion clips, the majority of the comments are about Vito Bratta. Mike Tramp gets a passing mention as an average talent, however Vito Bratta is held in such high regard.

It is a shame that Vito Bratta walked away from it all and it is a shame that there is no control around their music in the digital world. On YouTube, all of the White Lion clips are by users. The clip for “When The Children Cry” is by a user called “Louvers” and it has 8,627,861 views in the four years that it has been up.

10.All The Fallen Men

Go on YouTube and the song is more or less forgotten. Mike Tramp brings it out for his acoustic performances, however the few channels that have this song, all have views less than 10,000. The song is a metal masterpiece and a perfect product of the time. Musically, you can’t get any better. The vocal melody is top-notch, however in 1984, people didn’t want to listen about “All The Fallen Men” and “El Salvador”. The lyrical themes needed to be better and that is what Mike Tramp struggled with. In 1984, only Dio could have gotten away with these kind of themes, along with the bands from the thrash movement like Metallica.

“All The Fallen Men” is written by Vito Bratta and Mike Tramp and it was released on the 1984 “Fight To Survive” album.

The intro reminds me of Dokken’s”Breaking The Chains” from 1983 and Dio’s “Evil Eyes” from 1984. It’s got a verse riff that Neil Young would make famous in “Rockin In The Free World”. Of course, Neil Young’s song was released 5 years later in 1989. Progress is derivative.

Listen to the interlude riff before the solo section. The Thrash movement would have been proud.

9. Wait

“Wait” as a song didn’t connect with me right away however the Vito Bratta lead break made me want to smash my guitar in pieces. It was my first introduction to White Lion and back in 1988, it would be a while before I heard the full “Pride” album.

You see, once upon a time there was MTV (when it used to play music clips only) and man that show had some serious traction. We were addicted to it. Once MTV put a video clip in rotation, the band associated with the video clip would be brought to the masses. If we liked the band/act, we could purchase their music. It was exciting and it got people talking.

This is what “Wait” did for White Lion, and the lead break cemented Vito Bratta as a Guitar Hero. The path that “Wait” travelled was a product of the Gatekeeper controlled music business.

“Wait” was released on June 1, 1987, however it took another seven months before MTV picked it up and started airing it. With the internet, after the initial publicity burst is over, most people are ready for the next thing. And if the songs are not of blockbuster quality, the act will not last seven months on the same 10 tracks. Look at Dream Theater, all the marketing dollars and corporate deals in the lead up for an album that had a six-week sales life.

On YouTube, “Wait” is available on two channels, with a combined view count of 335,387. On Spotify it has 615,593 streams. Isn’t that bizarre, how the song that broke White Lion in the Eighties doesn’t have the same traction today. Songs like “You’re All I Need” has 1,039,523 views on one channel and “Till Death Do Us Part” has 1,393,139 views on another. This is what fan power brings to the table.

8. Love Dont Come Easy

“Love Dont Come Easy” is the natural progression from “Wait”. The chord inversions sum up Vito’s style. He starts off with a D5 power chord, then that moves to the 2nd inversion which is D5/F#, then D5/G and finishing it off with an Asus4 chord.

And did anyone pick up the Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ vibe in the intro. Neal Schon does pull offs, Vito does tapping with hammer – ons and pull offs. That idea would have to have come from Zito as he was working with Bad English and Neal Schon in 1989.

It is a great pop song however the audience outside of the hard rock circle don’t know about it. On YouTube, it has 595,733 views on one channel and on Spotify it doesn’t rate in the Top 10.

7. Fight To Survive

Fight To Survive – musically brilliant. It’s got that Randy Rhoads “Believer” merged with “Suicide Solution” vibe in the intro. That is the connection for me.

Who isn’t a sucker for a verse that has volume swells over a driving bass and drum groove. It is a very underrated song that got lost in all the noise.

The song is written by Vito Bratta, Mike Tramp and Nicky Capozzi. One of those rare songs that breaks away from the Tramp/Bratta team.

If you go on YouTube and search for the song you will see that it has been forgotten. However it should be remembered. This is Vito in a metal mood. The solo section as usual is unbelievable. You need to hear it to understand it. The biggest Achilles Heel for White Lion was the lyrical message. With a song like “Fight To Survive”, the message that Mike Tramp tried to get across didn’t really resonate. Which is a shame due to the fact that the vocal melody is really strong.

6. Hungry

After purchasing the “Pride” album, breaking the shrink-wrap and dropping the needle, my ears got assaulted with that riff. That intro riff. I love it. It is heavy and melodic.

“Hungry” was perfect for 1987. It fit the time and the vibe. Bratta really goes to town on this song. On YouTube, six user channels have it up for a combined view count of 274,679. The version that has the most views is the White Lion 2005 version without Vito, performing it live.

Listening to this song again I have come to the conclusion that Vito is the star in all of the songs. The guitar takes centre stage on everything.

5. When The Children Cry

I love acoustic guitar and Vito showed himself to be a true master of it. It was very reminiscent of Randy Rhoads. Of course, Malmsteen was no slouch either when it came to playing the acoustic.

A song that can have multiple meanings and my interpretation of the song is that it from the viewpoint of an older person looking at the state of the world and saying to themselves, how did we mess this up for the next generation coming through in this world.

This is the star of the show in relation to YouTube and Spotify. White Lion’s biggest hit based on fan power alone.

4. Cry For Freedom

White Lion had the balls to tackle the subject of apartheid when all the other bands in 1989 didn’t. It is unfortunate that the Eighties degenerated into a state of generic and clichéd derivative lyrical themes and subjects involving sex, partying and drugs. When bands branched away from that subject matter, it was very hit and miss.

White Lion fell into that crowd of misses as the label “Atlantic” would still push the pop metal or pop rock edge of the band. Music culture was built by artists taking a stand on a subject. The history of rock and metal is littered with bands that made big statements. White Lion made that big statement however it got missed.

It’s the guitar sound. The way it swells and hallucinates with each shifting chord change. You cant help but be drawn in.

“Cry For Freedom” is the kind of track that can be played when any uprising to oppression happens. It could have been played during the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Syrian Civil War. It never loses its power.

The “Cry For Freedom” video has 738,582 views on the 80s Classic Metal YouTube channel.

3. Lady Of The Valley

“Lady Of The Valley” is an epic song. What a classic intro riff. It is the sleeper hit of the “Pride” album. For some insane reason, Spotify will not play the “Pride” version and it plays a really bad version from some Greatest Hits package. Then you go on YouTube and one version is really sped up, however there is a version that is from the “Pride” album and at the right speed.

It was the perfect closer to Side A on the album.

The solo section that begins after the lyric “Yes, I’ve laid him at your feet” can make the hairs rise on your neck is that good. It’s a full blow metal song, even progressive at some stages. So many shifts and the guitar work is just amazing.

2. Little Fighter

My kids love this song. They associate themselves as “the little fighters” trying to rise up and get the world’s attention.

This is a great song because even though the song is about the Rainbow Warrior Greenpeace ship, anyone can relate to it. Any person that has been down trodden, abused and down and out for the count can relate to it.

You were one of a kind
One who’d never give it up

Any musician out there trying to make it you need to be the one that never gives up.

Rise again little fighter and let the world know the reason why

That’s all we are in life, fighters. Even Bon Jovi released a song called “Fighter” on the “What About Now” album. We fight from the day we are born to breathe, to grow, to learn and to be somebody.

1. Warsong

This is the band writing for the band and not listening to their label about writing ‘hit songs’. This song has many different styles into one 6 minute plus song. It gets the number one spot for its melodic brutality.

What are we fighting for?
When the price we pay is endless war
What are we fighting for?
When all we need is peace

As Axl Rose sang in Civil War, “I don’t need your “Civil War”, “it feeds the rich while it buries the poor”. As Bruce Springsteen sang in his cover version of the song “War”, “War, what is good for, absolutely nothing”. As Metallica sang in “Disposable Heroe’s”, “Back to the front, You will die when I say, you must die.”

We can all see the cost of war these days however we still go to war.

In the end I had a hard time picking 10 songs for this post as each song that Vito has played on all have unbelievable sections.

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

John Sykes

How do you follow-up “Still Of The Night, Bad Boys, Give Me All Your Love and Is This Love”?

You don’t. You change tact and form a super group with musicians that have some real rock credentials.

Forming a new band or going solo (depending on how people see the Blue Murder project) after being fired from Whitesnake before the huge success of the 1987 self-titled album, John Sykes believed the world was his oyster. Surrounded by the expertise of John Kalodner and a big money offer from Geffen Records, he believed he would have instant success now that he could play by his own rules.

However that was not to be. The Blue Murder self-titled debut got stiffed from the outset, due to the Geffen label bosses doing everything to please David Coverdale. David Coverdale even threatened to withhold the next Whitesnake album if the label didn’t pull its marketing of the Blue Murder project.

The self-titled Blue Murder album is a classic album. It was an accumulation of who John Sykes was at the time. Can’t say much about the pirate swash buckling image, however the music was epic and majestic. The songs. First class.

It is a shame that it is not on Spotify, however the follow-up “Nothin But Trouble” is on Spotify along with a folk band called Blue Murder. If you don’t own or haven’t heard it before, go to YouTube and you can hear the full album in a high quality stream.

Released in 1989 it was produced by Bob Rock. It kicks off with “Riot”. There is so much intensity and drama in this song and I remember when I heard John Sykes’s vocals, I was like damn, this guy can sing. I couldn’t believe that John Sykes considered getting someone else to do vocals.

It contains the majestic “Valley Of The Kings” which ironically was co-written with Tony Martin. Of course, if you listen to the Black Sabbath album “The Headless Cross” with Martin singing, you will hear a lot of similar melodies to “Valley Of The Kings”.

“You’re workin’, slavin
Into death every day
Set us free”

Depending on how people view a 9 to 5 job, not much has changed since the time of the Pharoah kings.

How heavy is “Ptolemy”? What about that groove!

“Black Hearted Woman” is co-written by with Carmine Appice and Tony Franklin and it is a derivative version of “Children Of The Night” and “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again” from Whitesnake.

“Out Of Love” is the result when John Sykes combined “Is This Love” and “Looking For Love”.

“Billy” is the Thin Lizzy influence coming through.

It’s nine songs and no filler, however this great album was still eclipsed by the work that John Sykes did with David Coverdale.

Look at the track list to the John Sykes “Bad Boy Live” CD, and you will see “Bad Boys”, “Crying In The Rain”, “Is This Love” and “Still Of The Night” on the track list. Those songs still get played live by Whitesnake and by John Sykes.

Listening to Blue Murder it doesn’t sound dated. The music has lost none of its power in the decades that have passed. That is the power of the riff and John Sykes was damn good at creating an awesome riff.

The album is heavy without being bleak. You can listen to it while driving and you can listen to it in the comfort of your home. It reminds me of a time when music ruled.

It is such a shame that the Blue Murder album got stiffed by David Coverdale playing record label politics and it’s follow up “Nothin But Trouble” got stiffed by the record label playing grunge politics. While “Nothing But Trouble” didn’t have the same impact has its predecessors, it is still a very satisfying album and it’s a John Sykes album I still listen to today.

“You promise heaven, but hell is all I see
(Mojo rising on the wind)
If there’s a lord above
Come rescue me
(Mojo rising on the wind)”

Any song that starts of with the above lyrics has my attention. “Cry For Love” is another derivative version of the “Valley Of The Kings”, “Crying In The Rain” and “Still Of The Night” style that John Sykes is renowned for, however it doesn’t sound like a forgery.

“We All Fall Down” is Thin Lizzy heaven and this track would have satisfied all fans of Thin Lizzy in John’s vocal delivery and lyrical style.

“I Need An Angel” is one of the best power ballads that John Sykes has composed.

“Runaway” is a clichéd lyrical theme however there is nothing clichéd about the song and it’s delivery.

“Dance”, “I’m On Fire” and “Love Child” are no different to “Sex Child” and “Jelly Roll” from the debut.

All of these songs can stand on their own. Anyone that listen’s today, cannot help but nod their head and tap their foot, because the music is so good!

It’s the guitar work, it’s hypnotic, it’s majestic, it’s all riff-a-delicious, it’s heavy, it’s melodic and it’s passionate. It’s like Sykes didn’t care who was paying attention, he was just going to go off and do his thing. If he wanted to chuck in a 2 minute guitar solo, he would.

So it is 1994 and John Sykes is without a record deal. What does he do next? He goes solo. In a gatekeeper controlled market, interest in John Sykes was still high in Japan and Europe. The U.S market got pushed onto the grunge and alternative band wagon. Hard Rock fans had to pay top dollar for imports to satisfy their musical needs. What can I say, the people who run the record labels are complete idiots.

In 1995, “Out Of My Tree” drops. I didn’t hear this album until Napster hit in 1999. I couldn’t justify paying the $80 for it in Australia, just because it was a Japanese import. So when Napster hit the Australian shoreline, John Sykes was the first name I searched out and to my delight, I found all the songs that made up the “Out Of My Tree”, “20th Century” and “Loveland” albums.

“Soul Stealer” opens the album with a very sleazy and groovy riff. Again it is derivative and it is perfect. There is a swing and it’s infectious. “I Don’t Want To Live My Life Like You” is next, with it’s very punky Sex Pistols vibe and super catchy chorus.

“Standing At The Crossroads” channels the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. Following that is the slow “I Don’t Believe In Anything”. It sounds psychedelic, very Beatles like and it sounds like it came from an era when everything on an album didn’t sound the same. It’s not a glam rock or pop metal power ballad. It is jazzy and the bass line is even funky. You believe that Sykes truly feels it. It’s structure is classic rock all the way, with a verse, chorus, lead break, back to the chorus and we are only half way through the song.

The piece de resistance is “Black Days”. It harkens back to the classic rock riffs that John Sykes creates. The groove behind the music is undeniable. It gets the foot tapping and the head tapping. It’s got a small drum solo, a classic Sykes solo and a slow, “Whole Lotta Love” style breakdown, before building up to that epic riff. Then we get a classic outro complete with Sykes soloing over a repeating vocal line and the drums building it up nicely until they are in a double time frenzy.

“Jesus and Mary” has an ascending riff like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. The lyrics let the song down in my opinion as the music is so good.

“Do Or Die” is a derivative version of “We All Fall Down” and “If You Ever Need Love” is a derivative version of “Is This Love”.

John Sykes even reformed Thin Lizzy as a tribute to Phil Lynott however some of his best work is on albums that have more or less been wiped from the map. Everyone should check those albums out.

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