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

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

Somewhere back in time, an Iron Maiden album would be purchased, listened to and the cover/lyrics digested, day after day after day, until the next album.

And I kept doing it like this up to their Bruce II era albums “Brave New World” released in 2000 and its follow up “Dance Of Death” released in 2003, along with the “Rock In Rio” and “Death On The Road” live releases.

And then things started to change. “A Matter Of Life and Death” released in 2006 and “The Final Frontier” released in 2010 are like unknown albums even though I own em and have heard them more than a few times.

“The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015 is one that I listened to a lot more and I also watched em playing half the album on tour, so it’s more familiar.

Now in 2021, we have “Senjutsu”.

A lot of the reviews I have read mention how there are no Dave Murray contributions to this album, in the same way reviews mentioned how Kirk Hammett didn’t have a co-write on “Death Magnetic”. But James Hetfield summed it up when he said, “Hammett’s riffs just weren’t there at that point in time”. And if Murray was struggling to be creative or stuck in a rut, lucky for Maiden, they have other songwriters who can step up in Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers and of course, Steve Harris.

Kevin “Caveman” Shirley is producing and mixing again.

And once upon a time, Iron Maiden artwork was just Derek Riggs. Now it’s a team of artists. There is a person leading the Art Designs, there are illustrators, calligraphists and translators.

But Eddie still remains. The constant throughout it all.

“Senjutsu”

It’s an Adrian Smith and Steve Harris composition, and you can immediately hear the Smith riffage, its almost Tool like.

How good is the melodic lead in the Chorus?

The section from 3.30 to 5.20 is pure Tool in the way Nicko McBrain sets the groove with Steve Harris. But the way the guitars decorate the section is more metal and hard rock and Bruce Dickinson’s melodies also stay within the hard rock and metal domain.

The minute outro returns to the Tool groove while the guitars lay down riffs which could come from the “Gates of Babylon”. After eight minutes and twenty seconds, the title track is down.

“Stratego”

A Janick Gers and Harris composition with a riff that reminds me of the “Fear Of The Dark” album and songs like “Judas Be My Guide” with a bit of the Iron Maiden gallop chucked in.

Listen to the section from 1.28, which I think is the Chorus and how the vocal melody and the guitar melody are the same.

“The Writing on the Wall”

A Smith and Dickinson composition.

I like the Steve Earle – “Copperhead Road”/Aerosmith – “Hangman Jury” like influence in the intro and main riff, Then again “Scars” from Smith/Kotzen also comes to mind.

But my favourite part of the song is the lead break from Adrian Smith between 4.26 and 5.08. Its emotive and it gets me playing air guitar.

It brings back the same feeling of the solo in “2 Minutes To Midnight”, the section between 3.26 and 4.06. You know the section I’m talking about, as they build back up into the main riff.

“Lost in a Lost World”

Steve Harris equals nine minutes and thirty one seconds on this one.

The acoustic intro with the vocal reminds me of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and their song “From The Beginning”, which Dokken also covered on their “Dysfunctional” album.

At the 2 minute mark it blasts out into the typical Maiden metal sound.

Listen to the section between 3.38 and 4.14 and tell me if it reminds you of “The Evil Than Men Do” musically.

And I like it, especially the “Revelations” section straight afterwards.

As the song flows, the “Revelations” riff becomes the backing riff for a bunch of harmony solo’s that remind me of “The X Factor” and “Dance Of Death” albums.

The last minute, Harris showcases how tasty bass arpeggios can be when done right, with Synths, a Celtic inspired guitar line and a haunting vocal.

“Days of Future Past”

A Smith and Dickinson composition and the shortest song on the album at 4 minutes. It’s also my least favourite.

“The Time Machine”

The disc 1 closer.

It’s a 7 minute Gers and Harris composition. The fingerpicked clean tone intro gives way to another Southern Rock inspired riff at the 1.10 mark. If anything, Jethro Tull comes to mind.

At 3.11, the galloping feel is back and a Celtic like harmony lead kicks in, something which Maiden have done before, but still enjoyable to hear over and over again.

But the piece d resistance is that change at the 4.30 mark, it’s still in 4/4 but it sounds progressive. Then it goes into an ascending riff for a guitar solo.

At 5.24, the Celtic like harmonies are back and Dickinson kicks in with his melodies.

At 6.20, the Celtic harmony is played in clean tone and I’m thinking of “The Clansman”.

“Darkest Hour”

A Smith and Dickinson composition which clocks in at 7.20 and it’s the disc 2 opener.

The intro has echoes of “Paschendale” and I like it. At the minute mark, the verses kick in.

As soon as the Chorus kicks in, I’m reminded of “Tears Of A Dragon” from Dickinson’s solo career and I’m ready to break my desk.

At 4 minutes, the intro is back in and the lead break starts.

Wow. Brilliant.

I don’t have my CD delivered yet, but I am presuming it’s Smith on the lead break as he is the most technical of the three guitarists and the flow of the solo sounds like a nice worked out Smith solo, a song within a song.

And as the Chorus kicks back in, different melodic guitar leads lay underneath the vocal melody, bringing the song to a close.

“Death of the Celts”

Harris equals ten minutes and twenty seconds.

Again, Harris showcases how musical the bass guitar can be as the whole intro is driven by the bass.

But the song is way too long, lacking a distinctive vocal section and it does get boring.

However I do like the solo section from 7.20 to 7.50. I think it’s Smith and then Gers kicks in.

“The Parchment”

Harris bookends the album with songs over 10 minutes. On this one, Harris equals 12:39.

The start of this song reminds me of “Sign Of The Cross”.

Guitar wise, there is a Ritchie Blackmore “Rainbow” influence.

And how good is that head banging verse riff?

The lead section that starts from 6.40 is familiar and I like it. It comes back in at the 9.28 mark.

The song speeds up for the last three minutes, as different shred lead breaks kick in. But by the end of it, it also could have used some editing.

“Hell on Earth”

The closer, in which Harris equals 11:19.

I think they should have done away with “Death Of The Celts” and “The Parchment” and gone straight into this for after “Darkest Hour”.

The intro is haunting, yet familiar, reminding me of “Alexander The Great” and “Seventh Son”.

At 2.16, the Maiden brand of rock and metal kicks in. The galloping riffs are there and a Celtic like harmony lead is also there.

At 2.49 to 3.08, there is a melodic lead which is a favourite.

The vocals kick in at 3.31.

The chorus (I think it’s a Chorus) comes in at 5 minutes.

Man, check out that section from 9.10 to 9.40. Those harmony guitars are perfect and sing-a-long like.

Then the song quietens down and returns to the haunting intro, reminding me again of “Alexander The Great” and “Seventh Son”.

And the album ends. Iron Maiden is like an old friend that returns for a visit now and then.

So welcome back old friend, let’s have a drink and catch up.

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The Writing On The Wall

It’s good to hear Iron Maiden music.

They are one of the rare bands from the 80’s who keep writing and recording new albums. Although the time spans between albums has become bigger over the last 15 years, it’s not because they are lazy, they are just on the road or in the air, touring and doing what they do.

And a pandemic put a halt to their touring plans in 2020. So when artists have time, they normally write and here we are in 2021, with new music.

They have been teasing this new music for about a fortnight, and a lot of internet sleuths started piecing together all the clues about “Belshazzar’s Feast” from a T-shirt that Bruce Dickinson was wearing in an interview he did on Sky News.

And like all things Maiden, I am sure we will get to know more about Belshazzar’s Feast, because that’s what Maiden does, they get people like me into researching and learning.

It’s written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson, with production by Kevin Shirley.

The country blues rock in the intro has me interested. It’s a new style into the Iron Maiden family.

The verse riff reminds me of “Stormbringer” from Deep Purple played with a bluesy swagger. Vocally Dickinson is still a powerhouse.

How good are those guitar harmonies after the first chorus?

The lead that comes at the 4.27 mark, I am pretty sure it’s Adrian Smith as it sounds like his style, is excellent.

I keep re-listening to this song just to keep hearing the lead break.

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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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The Number Of The Beast

You know it’s going to be a good day when you see “The Number Of The Beast” trending on Twitter. Without even seeing why it’s trending, I went straight to Spotify and pressed play on the album.

I wished I logged the hours I spent staring at the cover and I wish I kept the drawing journal of the many attempts to draw it. I eventually got there after a few years.

The 70’s fast blues rock of “Invaders” kicks off the album. It didn’t blow me away, but the next song did.

I heard the live version of “Children of The Damned” first. I lived with it for a long time. It felt a bit quicker and I liked it.

But the studio version is my definitive version now. The vocal melody from Bruce Dickinson is haunting and chilling. Only he can make “Children of The Damned”, repeated four times, sound musical.

Then from 3 minutes, the harmony guitar comes in. Drop whatever you’re doing and start to play air guitar. And Dickinson again takes centre stage, as he takes a simple “who oh” vocal and he makes it sound so musical. You want to know from which song Metallica took the ending for “Fade To Black” from, then here it is.

“Prisoner” continues the fast blues rock from “Invaders”. The Pre Chorus riffs from Adrian Smith/Dave Murray and the vocal melody are wicked. Make sure you check out the bass playing from Steve Harris and the major key chorus is the embryo for “Wasted Years”. And how good is the whole solo section. Listen to Clive Burr on the drums here.

“22 Acacia Avenue” is one of my favourite tracks. So many different moods and feels.

How good is the “Friday On My Mind” inspired intro?

“15 quid is all she asks for” Dickinson tells us.

And then the song changes from the minute and thirty second mark. It gets more aggressive, more metal like. Then at the three minutes and fifty second mark it changes again. It gets slower while the solos happen. And it builds up again to a new mood, a new groove and some more leads. My favourite part of the song. Especially the last 40 seconds. The band is in their element here, jamming it out to a finale.

Then we get the spoken word intro to “The Number Of The Beast” and that immortal intro riff. At two minutes and thirty seconds, a classic 70’s like riff comes in before it goes into a lead break.

“Run To The Hills” is way overplayed. It’s in that category for me to not listen to again. But if it comes on, I don’t turn it off or skip it. From 2.34, the riff comes in and Bruce starts doing his yeah and ahhs. I guess it’s time to sing along, out of key.

“Gangland” is speed metal. Maybe even thrash metal. A bit of “Overkill” from Motorhead merged with some Thin Lizzy sped up.

And how good is that middle solo section?

“Hallowed By Thy Name” closes the album. For me, one of the best Maiden songs ever. The “Live After Death” is the definitive version, as it is a bit quicker.

“When the priest comes to read me my last rites”.

And with that, I close my eyes and let the music and melodies take me away.

Crank it and the reason why its trending, is because its 39 years old.

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Killers At 40

I saw a Twitter post about “Killers” turning 40, so I did what every Iron Maiden would have done or should have done. Call it up on a streaming service and press play, or find the CD/Vinyl/Cassette, put it in the tray/turntable/deck and press play.

While the album is 40 years old, I didn’t really hear it until the early 90’s. And I didn’t listen to it a lot, so if you asked me to name the order of tracks from start to finish, I would stuff it up.

“Killers” sits in that purgatory state for me, between the end of the DiAnno era and the start of the Dickinson era. Thinking about it, I became a fan of Maiden during the Dickinson era, so I heard Dickinson sing “Wrathchild” before I heard the original DiAnno version.

So how good is that bass riff to kick off “Wrathchild”?

While “Killers” doesn’t have my favourite Maiden songs, each song has a riff or a musical section that just hooks me in.

Steve Harris wrote the whole album except for the song “Killers” and he got a chance to try out his progressive way of song construction. Instead of sticking to the verse and chorus formula, he would have a verse and then music for the chorus. Or verse, verse, interlude solo section.

He experimented on this album and we got to hear better versions of those experiments with each subsequent release.

“Murders In The Rue Morgue” is a Thin Lizzy cut through and through, just a little bit faster. If you don’t believe me, listen to those verses.

“Genghis Khan” has this harmony section from about the 2 minute mark and while that harmony pattern is being played, another harmony lead starts over it, with just a few notes and bends.

“Innocent Exile” has two sections that hook me. The musical Chorus between the verses and that whole interlude/solo section. “Killers” has the intro with the David Lee Roth like wails and then it morphs into the verse riffs.

“Prodigal Son” always stands out for me, because it reminds me of “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll” from Ozzy Osbourne in the arpeggio intro. They both came out the same year.

The strumming part also reminds me of another song, but I just can’t remember it. And the solo, its brilliant, with its Clapton like bluesy lines.

The intro/verse riff in “Purgatory” is speed/thrash metal heaven. And how good is that harmony section when DiAnno sings “Take me away”?

Clive Burr never got his dues when it came to his drumming skills. The dude could play so many styles and merge them all into one song. He definitely set a standard for the Iron Maiden drum position which Nicko McBrain elevated.

Happy 40th Killers. \::/

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November 2020 – Part 4

Ellefson

“No Cover” is an excellent covers album, just for the “On Through The Night” cover. And to make it even better, there is a blistering cover of “Wasted” by Def Leppard as well.

Ellefson is a band, made up of David Ellefson on bass, Thom Hazaert on vocals, Andy Martongelli and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal  on guitars and Paolo Caridi on drums. They started doing a few B side covers for a new music release next year and they had so much fun doing it, they did a double albums worth.

Hazaert does the majority of singing with the guest singers contributing in harmonies and trade off verses while the band members do most of the music with the guests appearing.

The album blasts off with “Freewheel Burning” from Judas Priest. This track has Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys on vocals, ex-Machine Head/Sacred Reich drummer Dave McClain, and guitarists Gus G and Andy James.

Then “Tear it Loose” from Twisted Sister begins and this one features good ole, Eddie OJ Fingers followed by a Motorhead cut. Three songs in, Ellefson has combined three speed metal songs from different bands onto one album and made it sound original in the process. 

Other favourites are “Say What You Will” from Fastway, “Love Machine” from WASP and “Over The Mountain” from Ozzy.

Iron Maiden

How many live albums from Maiden do you own?

For me, it’s a lot, but two of em really stand out. They are “Live After Death” and “Rock In Rio”.

Releasing live albums on a consistent basis after each tour, means that a lot of songs keep re-appearing on the set list, especially on tours that are not album tours. So here we are in 2020 with “Legacy Of The Beast”, celebrating 40 years of Maiden and recorded in Mexico City.

We get some Blaze material (“Sign of the Cross” and “The Clansman”) and one DiAnno track (“Iron Maiden”) plus “For The Greater Good Of God” gets its first live release.

Killer Be Killed

A super group of thrash/extreme/death metallers. Founded by The Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato and Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and ex-Sepultura front man Max Cavalera in early 2011. The line-up also features Mastodon bassist and co-vocalist Troy Sanders and Converge drummer Ben Koller. 

I didn’t mind the first album (released in 2014) musically, so I was interested to see what would happen next. And album number 2, “Reluctant Hero”, got me even more interested. The vocals are less abrasive and the chorus’s in my favourite songs work well. 

“Deconstructing Self Destruction” opens the album aggressively and melodically with a great little harmony solo. “Dream Gone Bad” continues the melody, with some punk and thrash thrown in for good measure. “Left Of Center” blasts out of the gate with a riff that reminds me of Judas Priest. 

“From A Crowded Wound” has a head banging riff and groove throughout the song and the album closes with the moody and smouldering title track, “Reluctant Hero”.

Phenomena

“Phenomena” was like a hard rock “The Alan Parsons Project” with songs written by a few key members and guest vocalists appearing on different songs.

Which brings us to “Still The Night”, a brand new compilation of all the tracks that feature Glenn Hughes on vocals. The 17 tracks here are pulled from the “Dream Runner” and “Psycho Fantasy” albums. If you like the voice of rock like I do, then this one is a must. Plus you get to hear Cozy Powell thundering on the drums, Neil Murray holding down the bass (with Glenn Hughes on some tracks), Richard Bailey on keys and Mel Galley doing the guitars.

Everything is remastered and it sounds huge. 

“Still The Night” which originally appeared on the Thrall Hughes album is still a massive favourite. “Surrender” with its melodic rock synth keys always gets me to pay attention. “Touch My Life” has a heavy metal riff in the verses that John Sykes would be proud.

The way Hughes sings the verses on “Phoenix Rising” still stops me in my tracks. “Who’s Watching You?” sounds like a Y&T cut from the “Meanstreak” album. “Kiss Of Fire” sounds like a cut from The Alan Parsons Project. “Higher” feels down tuned and heavy but Glenn Hughes voice makes it melodic. “Hell On Wings” reminds me of Thin Lizzy with the harmony leads and in the verses it reminds me of Y&T.

And everything is held together by the fantastic voice of Glenn Hughes.

Sole Syndicate

A hard rock band from <<insert drum roll>> …… “Sweden”.

Such a small country but a massive exporter of cultural content.

“Last Days Of Eden” is their second album, with their first “Garden Of Eden” being released in 2016.

“…and the Truth Will Set You Free” is traditional heavy metal in the verses (think Scorpions) and melodic in the chorus. Then it’s got a head banging breakdown section which modern metallers do. And the lead break is melodic.

“We All Fall Apart” has some Judas Priest in the mix. “Glory Days” has an strummed acoustic guitar and a David Coverdale vocal line with a nice acoustic guitar solo in the intro and in the middle.

“We Came to Rock” is unoriginal in its title, but it has a Vivian Campbell/Dio like riff and a Klaus Meine vocal melody which gets me interested. Did I mention the song has a nice guitar solo? 

“Have You Heard It All Before?” is a rocker. “Bring Us A Hero” starts of like a “Metallica” Black album cut. And that groove continues through the verses. “When Darkness Calls” sounds like its inspired by Europe. Definitely a band that’s on my radar.

Part 5 is coming up. 

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No Prayer For The Dying

30 years old.

How does it hold up as a Maiden album?

Would any of the songs on the album replace a song in the classic concert set list?

And why the two different covers when they remastered it a decade later?

I purchased it on day one on cassette.

How can you not purchase it after “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”?

I had a tape deck that used to chew tapes up so I demanded my Dad let me use his pristine Toshiba cassette player.

He said “no”, because he believed that tapes with heavy metal music would somehow wreck his tape deck.

I went to Mum to smooth him over and that didn’t work, but I had a plan.

When he was at work, I would use his tape deck. But Dad was smart. He caught on.

He woke me up early when he was leaving for work and told me that it’s okay to use his tape deck because he had a feeling that I would use it while he’s at work as that’s exactly the same thing he would do.

I already heard the lead off single in “Holy Smoke” and the “flies round shit, bees around honey”.

So I pressed play.

And “Tailgunner” started.

How good is the bass playing on it?

That whole intro is built by Steve Harris and his four fingers.

“No Prayer For The Dying” is super underrated with the powerful ending around “God give me the answer to my life…”

“Public Enema Number One” has lyrics relevant to what’s happening today.

In the cities in the streets / there’s a tension you can feel / the breaking strain is fast approaching / Guns and riots.

The politicians gamble / and lie to save their skins / and the press get fed the scapegoats / Public enema number one

“Fates Warning” feels like it could have come from the “Somewhere In Time” album. Check out that harmony solo.

“Mother Russia” sounds like it came from the “7th Son” album but it felt unfinished.

“Bring Your Daughter” was a hit.

And all the other songs had some good sections.

I labeled the album, the worst of the Bruce Dickinson era at the time.

And then they released “Fear Of The Dark” and I kept that viewpoint.

Then Bruce left and Blaze came in.

Then Bruce came back and they released a shitload of albums from “Brave New World” to “The Book Of Souls”.

And I still have that view point even though I believe that “The Book Of Souls” could have used some John Kalodner editing.

But I enjoy listening “No Prayer”. I can’t explain it.

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The Book Of Souls

“The Book Of Souls” is 5 years old.

This album is special for me because it’s on “The Book Of Souls” tour that I took my whole family to watch the mighty Maiden.

My youngest was only 4. He kept singing “The Trooper” on the way ya up, the Chorus wooh part and he didn’t even stay awake long enough to hear it live.

Yep, he crashed out at a Maiden concert. My wife held him the whole time.

My other two kids were 10 and 9, and this album is there first Maiden album experience.

Nowadays they have their own playlists which incorporates all the Maiden albums. I think I did okay in fostering their love for metal music and Iron Maiden.

Once the album was done, Bruce was diagnosed with cancer and the album was delayed while Bruce got treated.

It wasn’t even mastered as the band wanted the raw mix.

And what an album to get stuck into.

Adrian was writing shorter songs like “Speed Of Light” and “Death Or Glory”.

“If Eternity Should Fail” is a great Maiden song once the dramatic 2 minutes is done with.

“The Red And The Black” has the chants like it’s a football match, a perfect tribute for the Maiden fan base by Steve Harris.

And management wanted a single album but Bruce had other ideas for the album with a piano he won at an auction and his two finger technique proving the catalyst for the longest Maiden song “Empire In The Clouds”.

Then the massive tour happened with the Aztec Culture and the classics.

And maybe it would have been the last album for the band, but CoVid has given em all time off.

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Learning

Dee Snider once said “nothing lasts forever”. You are on top today and forgotten the next. The news cycle is so fast that no one even remembers what happened last week.

And I’m constantly in a state of learning. I like to read and learn new things. I like to acquire new skills. More so now than ever before.

I’ve always told everyone that Maiden made me want to learn, because of their songs. And I always got blank stares when I said that.

So I started to explain.

I read the Bible because of “Revelations” and “Number Of the Beast”.

I researched “Alexander The Great” because of the song. I read the poem of the Ancient Mariner because of them and the story of the “Phantom Of The Opera” and the mythology of the “Flight Of Icarus”.

I got an A when we studied Ancient Egypt because “Powerslave” made me interested in that era. I read up on the Battle Of Britain because of “Aces High”. I got to understand the Doomsday Clock and what it actually meant to forecast “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

“Mother Russia” got me reading up on the Tsars. “The Trooper” got me reading up on the “Crimean War” and “Where Eagles Dare” got me interested in World War II again, hence the reason why I kept getting A’s in history. Plus let’s not forget Churchill’s speech which is used to great effect in “Live After Death”. As I type this I’m hearing “we will never surrender” as the band launches into “Aces High”.

“Genghis Khan” was an unknown name back then so I had to check it out and I had to look up the meaning for “Purgatory”.

And the covers. I stared at em for long periods of time and tried to draw em myself. Another source of learning a new skill. Same deal with the logo.

That band was huge in getting me curious.

And I see that same sense of learning happening with my children today. From the TV shows and movies they’ve watched, they have built their own LEGO creations, wrote their own stories and filmed their own stop motion movies.

Be influenced and never stop learning.

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

2000 – V1

I’ve been doing these yearly revision posts on and off for the last four years. Basically when I’ve felt like it.

I started with 1980, as that was a pivotal year when it all began for me. And then I went forward and back at the same time. I did a post for 1981, and then a post for 1979. Then a post for 1982 and a post for 1978.

Currently I am up to 1985 and 1977 for those eras. They are in a various states of drafts and on hold for a little bit because I get excited about other posts and it felt like I was just writing about the same bands (like AC/DC, who had releases on both sides of the 80’s and 70’s).

So I wanted to start up another year and work my way forward on that one.

Plus other bloggers who I follow have also been summarizing various years from their own personal experiences.

So a few days ago, I had a vision and in my madness I decided to also kick off a 2000 series.

So there will be a 2000, 1985 and 1977 series running in parallel.

Then there will be a 2001, 1986 and 1976.

But when I started to write the 2000 post, the world has a funny way to show me, that I’m still writing about the same bands I was writing about in the 80’s with a few additions here and there.

So h is Part 1 of 2000.

Bon Jovi – Crush

“It’s My Life” was everywhere. The single got a lot of traction in Australia. It was on radio, on the music TV stations and the various CD single editions were selling out quickly.

The resurrection of Bon Jovi was complete after a pretty relaxed period between 1996 and 1999. Then again, Sambora and Jovi did release solo albums in between and toured, so maybe it wasn’t so relaxed.

Songsmith Max Martin got a co-write, however it’s hard to know what he actually did because Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora didn’t use him again. Also just ask Steven Tyler, how much song writing some of the outside writers did. Holly Knight got a writing credit for “Rag Doll”, and all she did was come up with the song title. Thanks Deke for that one.

And although I like the derivative sounding “It’s My Life”, my favourites (like most of the Bon Jovi albums) are more of the deeper cuts, like “Just Older”, “Two Story Town”, “Mystery Train”, the six plus minutes of “Next 100 Years”, the laidback feel of “She’s A Mystery” and probably the best live song they have written in “Old Wild Night”, which gets no love these days but it should.

Disturbed – The Sickness

There was a sticker on the CD, which had a quote from “Ozzy” calling Disturbed “the future of Heavy Metal”. I don’t know if Ozzy actually said that, but it was a cool bit of marketing, because I bit and handed over $20.

The thing that got me from the start, is the staccato vocals from David Draiman, which was so different from the 80’s type of singers I was used to plus it helped that the music was pretty cool as well. And I kept listening, became a fan, seen em live on two occasions and today, I hold David Draiman in some unique company of metal voices and Disturbed as one of my favourite acts.

And this album really put em on the map. In the U.S alone (and if you like to use the RIAA sales metric as a gauge for success) then 9 million is the number so far.

For me, the cross between groove metal and heavy metal and that thing people called Nu-Metal is excellent and it got me out of a rut.

“Voices” talks about some freaky shit, and that vocal delivery from Draiman was so unique it captured me. Then “The Game” starts off with the NIN style of electronics, and when the guitar riff comes in, its heavy metal all the way.

“Stupify” has this guitar riff that takes the style of Korn and guitarist Dan Donegan has this ability to make it sound like a metal riff.

And his ability to take influences from what was current like NIN, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Tool and put it into his metal influenced blender, that’s the magic brew of Disturbed. By the way check out the section from about 2.52 for a breakdown.

“Numb” is taking the moodiness of Tool and making it accessible in a 4 minute song. “Shout 2000” gives an old 80’s song a new lease of life and the title track “Down With The Sickness” is that song in the concert when the musician looks at the sea of faces jumping up and down and head banging, like an ocean swell about to hit the stage.

Fates Warning – Disconnected

I was always on the fence with Fates Warning. My cousin Mega loved em and he had all of their albums. But for me, I just taped the songs I liked from those albums and never really got into a whole album.

But this album changed all of that. As soon as the first ringing guitar notes started which to my ears mimicked a warning siren, I was hooked.

For me, it feels like a perfect blend of what was current, like Tool and Porcupine Tree and a nod to what Dream Theater was creating (they even have Kevin Moore guesting on keyboards) and it’s all surrounded by a hard rock progressive feel.

Also while the earlier albums showed guitarist Jim Matheos evolving with each release from raw NWOBHM, to Power Metal, to technical thrash metal, to Queensryche style rock to atmospheric progressive rock and on this one, he is digging deep into his well and bringing out everything he knows into well-structured songs and a cohesive album.

And the album is ignored by the masses.

But not by me.

“Disconnected, Pt 1” kicks it off with its ominous warning siren guitar bends. And the synth keys make it sound even more dystopian. Then again, if you look at the cover of the album, its people in gas masks under an orange sky. For me, it’s like our Australian summer, which had orange and red skies, and our air quality was crap, for a very long time.

“One” blasts out of the gates with its Porcupine Tree/Tool influenced riff.

“So” is groove heavy, with a hint of a Tool influence, but Jim Matheos makes it sound metal. When it quietens down in the verses, it just reminds me of the song “Black Sabbath”. The bridge section from about 4.30 also quietens down and then that Tool like groove from 5.50 hits you like a sledgehammer. “Pieces Of Me” is a derivative version of “One”, with small changes here and there to make it stand on its own.

And the two big bookends.

“Something For Nothing” and “Still Remains”. They are quality, as a melancholic and atmospheric groove leads the way. It’s progressive and it doesn’t have or need a thousand notes per second nor complex time signatures pieced together and added like fractions. On both songs, it’s a feel and a groove which lays the foundation and the songs keep building from there.

The album closes with “Disconnected, Pt 2”, with the guitar warning siren bends and some nice keys.

Iron Maiden – Brave New World

There was “The Ed Hunter Tour” of 1999, which announced the latest and upgraded hardware version of Iron Maiden from 5.0 to 6.0. And it’s been the same line up since.

And no one really knew how this 6.0 upgrade would go with new music. But they delivered.

Each song has a section which makes it connect.

From the opening Em chord of “The Wicker Man”, the song is full of the things that make Maiden great, like the repeating chorus line of “your time will come” and the singalong “woh-oh-oh” in the outro which is then followed by harmony guitars.

And I like the “Fear Of The Dark” section between 5.00 and 5.42 in “Ghost Of The Navigator” and the harmony solos in “Brave New World”.

“Blood Brothers” is a classic Maiden song, driven by an awesome bass riff, synth strings, harmony guitars (especially that harmony section from 3.29 to 3.57 and again from 4.22 to 6.20) and a vocal performance from Bruce Dickinson to rival his 80’s output. It feels like only a few singers could pull off repeating the same chorus line over and over again and make it sound unique. Dio comes to mind, Dee Snider as well and Bruce Dickinson.

“The Mercenary” has a head banging intro to rival the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro. And that Chorus, when Bruce starts to sing “Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run”. Brilliant. “Dream Of Mirrors” and that “Phantom Of The Opera” intro. But when it quietens down and it’s just the bass rumbling along, with the closed high hats and a clean tone guitar melodic lick. That’s when the hairs on the back of my neck rise up. And by the end of it, I’m also dreaming in black and white because Bruce repeats it so many times, you get hypnotized. Also listen to when Bruce sings woh – oh from the 7.20 minute mark.

“The Fallen Angel” with its “Wrathchild” style intro. Then that open string pull of lick in the Chorus. The intro in “The Nomad” which is also the Chorus riff and then that epic sounding exotic/barbarian/viking like lead from about the 4 minute mark. The intro to “Out Of The Silent Planet”.

Version 6.0 was off to the good start and the “Rock In Rio” DVD put any doubt to rest.

Everclear – Songs From An American Movie, Vol 1: Learning How To Smile

This is another album that got my attention.

The song “Wonderful” was all over the charts in Australia, and I suppose that “Star Wars” poster on the bedroom door lyric got me to bite. And the album is excellent. Again, it came at a perfect time to get me out of a rut, musically. It was different and removed from the 80’s and 70’s music I was so into. Then again, I was still overdosing on Maiden, but that’s another story.

“Here We Go Again” has these jazzy 7th style chords played in a pattern like “I Love Rock N Roll” in the verses, and it got me interested straight away. And there is a horn section which reminded me of “Tangled In The Web” from Lynch Mob. And that bridge section about sitting on a mattress in the corner and eating Chinese food. Its conversationlist and I like it.

“AM Radio” has a lot of great lyrics about the 70’s and listening to that AM Radio or just laying in bed with the radio on and listening to it all night long.

The VCR and the DVD
There wasn’t none of that crap back in 1970
We didn’t know about a World Wide Web
It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid

Even if you weren’t born then, you already get a picture in your head of some of the technology that wasn’t around.

Flashback, ’72
Another summer in the neighbourhood
Hangin’ out with nothing to do

Even in the 80’s, we had days like these with nothing to do. It changed in the 90’s when parents had an agenda of things their kids had to do or achieve or attend.

Cruisin’ with the windows rolled down
We’d listen to the radio station

Damn right.

I remember 1977
I started going to concerts and I saw the Led Zeppelin
I got a guitar on Christmas day
I dreamed that Jimmy Page would come from Santa Monica
and teach me to play

There is always a defining “aha” moment, which sets of the correct adrenaline kick.

I like pop, I like soul, I like rock, but I never liked disco

Not many who liked pop, soul and rock liked disco. Remember Bob Seger and his old time rock and roll to soothe the soul.

“Learning How To Smile” is my favorite track on the album.

Five miles outside of Vegas when we broke down
Threw my keys inside the window and we never looked back
Got all drunk and sloppy on a Greyhound bus
We passed out, all them losers they were laughing at us

Youthful enthusiasm, leave the past behind (the car) and move forward to something new. The oldsters would have organised a tow truck to retrieve the car and then spend money to fix it, because every possession was precious. Tell that to the throwaway generation, who upgrade their Tech yearly or bi-yearly.

We got lost in Phoenix, seemed like such a long time
Seven months of livin’ swimming on those thin white lines
Did some time for sellin’ acid to the wrong guy
Life just keeps on gettin’ smaller and we never ask why

Taking and selling drugs and doing what they could to get by, with no safety net.

Why there is no perfect place, yes I know this is true
I’m just learning how to smile
That’s not easy to do

Life is not all sunshine and a bed of roses. And the more older we get, the harder it is to smile sometimes, even though you want to smile.

We was broke outside of Philly when the storms came
I was working in New Jersey, hitchin’ rides in the rain
You was happy talkin’ dirty at that phone sex place
Life just keeps on gettin’ weirder for us every day

Tommy and Gina have nothing on Art and his girl.

We can leave it all behind like we do every time
Yes we both live for the day
When we can leave and just go runnin’ away

Escapism. I remember when I first got my car license. I felt a freedom, I’d never felt before.

Five miles outside of Vegas, five years down the line
We got married in the desert and the sunshine

Through all the ups and downs, I guess they learned how to smile.

And to close off the album, “Thrift Store Chair” has this acoustic 70’s feel, which reminds me of Bad Company and “Wonderful” kicks off with a simple drum groove, and then the piano which outlines the chords. And the song just keeps on building.

Well 2000 is officially kicked off. Now I’m going back in time to 1985. And then 1977. And then back to 2000, in ludicrous speed.

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