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

1979 – The Highway To Hell Begins

I’ve been doing a lot of 80’s reflection on this blog and currently I am up to the year, 1984. As I type up the first blog post for 1984, I also decided to start a 70’s one in tandem. But with a different touch. While the 80’s post ascend yearly, the 70’s posts will descend yearly. So when I start 1985, in tandem I will also start 1978.

So here is the kick off from 1979.

AC/DC – Highway to Hell

Who would have thought that six months after the album release date, Bon Scott would be dead. There is no denying what a massive force he was in the band and since his departure, AC/DC got stuck in recreating the formula of Bon’s intensity with the band. Even down to the lyrics Bon wrote in 1979. Yes, the version of AC/DC post Bon, just wrote songs which had knees rhyming with please and what not.

Mutt Lange is on board to produce at the strong insistence of their U.S record label and it was the start of the holy trinity of albums. Malcolm was less than pleased because it meant older brother George, was no longer involved.

I never purchased this album until the early 2000’s. I just went over to a friends place with a bunch of blank cassettes and I taped every album he had, while we drank beers.

“Highway To Hell” is a rite of passage. It might have been about touring, however timeless songs have lyrics that can be interpreted in many different ways. The riff to kick it off is iconic. Credit Malcolm.

Livin’ easy, Livin’ free

Those words are exactly how we want to live life. Easy living. Free living. But it isn’t so. Nothing is free in life and nothing is easy. The people born between 1948 and 1962 inherited a rich country and bankrupted it. They first got into government by the early 80’s and by the mid 90’s they had the power.

What did they do when they had the power?

Pass laws and regulations to benefit their bank accounts and the bank accounts of their sponsors. If they did something wrong, the taxpayer would bail them out.

I’m on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell

The Satanic panic begins. If this was played backwards, the subliminal message would say, “lleh ot yawhgih eht no”. Ohh, it’s so dangerous.

No stop signs
Speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down

Nobody does this anymore. I tell my kids they go to school to learn, not to get a job. But people I speak to always tell me that schools are there for people to get a job. You see, money is more important than developing yourself and experiencing life.

Payin’ my dues
Playin’ in a rockin’ band
Hey, mamma
Look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land

It’s why music was great. People paid their dues. It didn’t mean they would make it, or be global superstars. Hell, it didn’t mean they would make a living wage. But they could have. Bon’s lyrics are a lifestyle and six months later, Bon Scott, would be on his way to the promised land.

“Girls Got Rhythm”

I been around the world
I’ve seen a million girls
Ain’t one of them got
What my lady she got

Only Bon could get away with confessing his cheating ways to his real love back in Oz via a song and still be in a relationship.

Love me till I’m legless
Achin’ and sore

Is this even possible anymore?

Everyone is too busy parading on social media, joining movements of empowerment. There is no time for loving until the morning light.

“Touch Too Much”

Seems like a touch, a touch too much
Too much for my body
Too much for my brain

Only Bon can put his bedroom ways into a song like this. In this case, the woman is just too much for him. He can’t handle her.

“If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”

It’s animal
Livin’ in the human zoo
Animal
The shit that they toss to you
Feelin’ like a Christian
Locked in a cage
Thrown to the lions
On the second page

Quick, call in the political correct activists.

Life is like living in a cage that you pay for, your whole life and you never really own it. The crap they toss at us, is the wage we get for building someone else’s dream and we have three options, leave and try to build our dreams, stay and work on the side to build our dreams or just stay and be a slave. Because the system is designed to benefit the companies. If you don’t have a weekly wage, you cannot get a loan.

Pink Floyd – The Wall

“The Wall” is Roger Waters lasting legacy. But the best song on the album to me is “Comfortably Numb” written by Gilmour and Waters. Credit producer Bob Ezrin for persisting to get Gilmour’s music on the record. But it was “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” that was all over the radio.

“Another Brick In The Wall, Pt 2”

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control

The rally cry against the institutions. Producer Bob Ezrin also produced some of Alice Cooper’s earlier work. On “School’s Out”, Ezrin had children sing on a chorus. On the “Destroyer” album from Kiss, Ezrin used his own kids to tell horror stories, on “God of Thunder”. It worked before and with “Another Brick In The Wall” it worked even better.

All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

More so today than before. We might have had stricter teachers and parents in the past, but we still explored and made our own way. The kids these days are told they need to go to University to get a job. It wasn’t the case when I was young. People went to higher education to expand their minds and walk different paths. Instead today, our universities are factories to produce like-minded individuals.

All I hear today is how education rules, but once upon a time people became self-educated without education, and they had the heart and voice to question authority and all the established norms.

“Goodbye Blue Sky”

It’s the inspiration for “Fade To Black” from Metallica.

Did did did did you see the frightened ones
Did did did did you hear the falling bombs
Did did did did you ever wonder
Why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky

I studied WWII in History, however our focus was more on Australia’s involvement. But we still read the text about the London Bombings. And if we didn’t read the text, we had “Aces High” to listen to and digest, which also covered the London Bombings. And who can forget “Churchill’s Speech”. Only a metal band can take a politicians speech and make it even more legendary.

“Goodbye Cruel World”

You can hear the inspiration for “In the Presence Of My Enemies” by Dream Theater, and lyrically, you can hear similar themes and rhymes appearing in Metallica’s lyrical output on the “Ride The Lightning” album.

Goodbye cruel world
I’m leaving you today
Goodbye
Goodbye all you people
There’s nothing you can say
To make me change
My mind
Goodbye.

So many people are checking out these days.

Is it the upbringing?

From the 90’s, every kid was told how perfect they are, how great they are and even when they failed or didn’t succeed, they still got told how great and perfect they are.

How is a child meant to build resilience and a growth mindset if there is no challenge set in front of them?

There are no easy answers.

“Hey You”

Hey you, out there on the road
Always doing what you’re told
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall
Breaking bottles in the hall
Can you help me?
Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall

So much power in the final verse. It covers obedience, living a life controlled by the state and dreaming of a revolution.

“Comfortably Numb”

It’s written by Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters and my favourite song because of the excellent outro lead break.

Hello
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?

The mind, the spirit and the soul are three powerful revolutionaries. They need to be suppressed if governments want to exist.

O.K.
Just a little pinprick
There’ll be no more aaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick

The injection to numb and control.

I have become comfortably numb

Nothing else needs to be said and then the end lead break from Dave Gilmour kicks in. Just sit back, close your eyes and enjoy.

“I banged out five or six solos. From there I just followed my usual procedure, which is to listen back to each solo and make a chart, noting which bits are good. Then, by following the chart, I create one great composite solo by whipping one fader up, then another fader, jumping from phrase to phrase until everything flows together. That’s the way we did it on ‘Comfortably Numb.’”
David Gilmour https://www-guitarworld-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.guitarworld.com/.amp/artists/100-greatest-guitar-solos-no-4-comfortably-numb-david-gilmour?

Judas Priest – Hell Bent for Leather/Killing Machine

This album had two different titles depending on the region it was released. “Killing Machine” all around the world and “Hell Bent for Leather” in the U.S. I didn’t get this album until well into the 90’s.

Delivering The Goods

It’s written by the holy trinity song writing team of Rob Halford, K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. The first time I heard this song was via Skid Row’s “B-Side Ourselves” EP. I enjoyed the Skid’s live take on it, so I went seeking for the album in the second hand record stores. I actually own both copies, the “Killing Machine” version and the “Hell Bent For Leather” version.

Shake down, rock ’em boys, crack that whip strap mean
Pulse rate, air waves, battle lies in every place we’ve been
Stealing your hearts all across the land
Hot blood doing good, we’re going to load you with our brand

It’s exactly how heavy metal and hard rock took over the world in the 80’s. Place by place, city by city, house by house.

Leaving your heads
Crushed out on the floor
Begging for mercy
Be careful or we’ll do it some more

Quiet Riot might have had a hit song with “Bang Your Head” and Drowning Pool in the late 90’s/early 2000’s hit the mainstream with “Bodies” and the catchcry, “Let the bodies hit the floor” but Judas Priest from day zero always had moshing and head banging in their songs.

You better watch out and hold on tight
We’re heading your way like dynamite
Uhhh, Delivering the goods

And the live show was just that. A band, turning up and delivering the goods. AC/DC’s first U.S show was played to less than ten people. After the first set, those people vacated the building only to return minutes later with many more. And the rest is history.

Hell Bent For Leather

This one is written by Glenn Tipton.

The riff is iconic. If you want to understand how iconic and how many derivative versions this derivative riff spawned, check out my post on it..

Wheels! A glint of steel and a flash of light!
Screams! From a streak of fire as he strikes!

Any fan of “Under The Blade” from Twisted Sister would also know the above lyric.

Hell bent, hell bent for leather

Simple and effective.

Black as night, faster than a shadow
Crimson flare from a raging sun
An exhibition, sheer precision
Yet no one knows from where he comes

The song’s story has been re-written many times by Judas Priest. A few that come to mind are “Screaming For Vengeance”, “The Sentinel” and “Painkiller”.

In relation to guitar playing, Glenn Tipton always kept an eye and ear out for what was hot in guitar circles and he would go away, master these new styles and incorporate those influences and styles into his guitar playing. In this case, he breaks out a tapping lick which was obviously influenced by EVH. On albums from the mid 80’s, Tipton would start to incorporate sweep picking courtesy of Yngwie Malmsteen’s influence.

Burnin’Up

How can you not like the “Walk This Way” riff merged with the “Superstition” riff from Stevie Wonder merged with the “Play That Funky Music White Boy” riff?

The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)

It’s a Fleetwood Mac cover song written by their original and largely forgotten guitarist Peter Green, and it works pretty cool in the hands of Judas Priest. It’s not out of place at all in the pantheon of songs written by Judas Priest.

I had to Google “manalishi” and the first search item that comes up is a Wikipedia page for the song. This is what Wikipedia tells me;

“The song was written during Green’s final months with the band, at a time when he was struggling with LSD and had withdrawn from other members of the band. While there are several theories about the meaning of the title “Green Manalishi”, Green has always maintained that the song is about money, as represented by the devil. Green was reportedly angered by the other band members’ refusal to give away their financial gains.”

There was something really out there about the late 60’s and early 70’s period. Every songwriter was experimenting with different narcotics so they could tap into some state of the brain, which would help them be even more creative.

Running Wild

The intro riff is another riff to rule them all. You can hear where Iron Maiden took inspiration from for the “The Wicker Man”. Quick call the lawyers. Then again, i am sure someone will. It’s another cut written solely by Glenn Tipton and he covers themes which in the 80’s became the norm.

No chains can hold me down
I always break away
I never hear society
Tell me what to do or say

The idea of being able to live your life the way you want to live it is our greatest invention. It is the bedrock of our culture. And these days more than ever, these ideals and rights have become inconvenient to our leaders who only serve the corporations or come from the corporations. And it’s precisely why we have to work so hard to defend them.

I rebel but I walk tall
And I demand respect

Fitting in seems like a good way to earn trust. How many people sit back and don’t do anything to draw attention to themselves, just in case they are left out. The philosophy is simple, go along with the crowd and you will get ahead. But the truth is, no one can fit in all the way. People can choose to stand out, be respectful and challenge the status quo.

Journey – Evolution

It has “Lovin, Touchin’ Squeezin’” but it’s not my favourite. The three listed songs are for various reasons.

Lovin’ You Is Easy

The music is upbeat and infectious and it’s always good to hear Schon rocking out.

Do You Recall

The melodies in this song appear in a lot of Jovi songs.

Yes, it’s the lovin’ things
That keeps us wondering

Lady Luck

This song grooves, taking its cues from the hard rock stylings of Led Zeppelin.

The Police – Reggatta de Blanc

The Police to me, didn’t really write a perfect album from start to finish, but man could they write classic tracks.

Message In A Bottle

The intro is the first thing that hooks me. And it’s guitarist Andy Summers who saves the day with his add9 chord voicings over a simple bass groove.

I’ll send an SOS to the world

Sending out a message to the world today is easier than ever. We are all hooked up, ready to go.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Who knows, but to participate, we need to give away some of our privacy and people get a look into our lives.

Walked out this morning, I don’t believe what I saw
Hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone in being alone
Hundred billion castaways looking for a home

Today we live in a social media society. We have friends and likes. For some, this is fulfilling and for others they feel even more isolated and lonely. In the end, we all castaways looking for a home. Sometimes we find it, sometimes it takes a few turns to find it. Eventually we find our home.

Whitesnake – Lovehunter

I didn’t hear this album until very late in the 90’s. Hell, I was buying so many second hand LP’s from record fairs and second hand book shops, I can’t even place a memory as to when I purchased it. I was always a sucker for the $1 bins.

Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues

Written by David Coverdale and the underrated Bernie Marsden.

I love the blues, they tell my story
If you don’t feel it you can never understand

It all started with the blues. Rock was built on the bones of the 30/40’s blues artists. Metal was also built on the bones of those same artists, along with the defiance and rebellion of rock music. Without the blues, the music I listen to, would not be possible.

‘Cause I love the life I live, I’m gonna live the life I choose

My Dad knew what he was talking about, but I was too full of youthful energy to really listen and heed his warnings. You only have one life, so live it the way you want to live it. It’s easier said than done, but achievable and it starts with control.

Do you have control of your life, so you can make the right decisions or is your job and your commitments to banks and credit companies controlling you?

Once you give up control, your life path changes.

All of my life I’ve had the same reputation
I’ve been the black sheep of the family all along
I never know if in my heart I’m really guilty
But I’ve been accused of never knowing right from wrong

The themes are still relevant. When the youth don’t conform to the wishes of the elders, they are always seen as black sheep’s.

Medicine Man

It’s written by David Coverdale who is a pretty cool guitar player in his own singer/songwriter way. Lyrical, he’s the doctor of love, the medicine man who is always there to satisfy. Musically, it’s just a feel good jam song.

Mean Business

Lyrically Coverdale has his love gun loaded and ready to fire if the lady he’s with doesn’t mean business. Musically, it’s very “Ballroom Blitz” like in its pace and feel.

Love Hunter

In “Love Hunter”, DC is needing a woman to treat him good and to give him everything a good woman should, because she would be waiting for her brown eyed boy to come home and treat her right.

Do you reckon these lyrics will work today?

Maybe not.

Then again what about this one?

In my time I’ve been a back door man

Outlaw

I took to the highway,
Chasing my dream down the line

Does anyone do this anymore?

I keep on reading reports of kids staying at home with their parents well into their 30’s. Is this because parents have too much control and have taken away the right for their child to make a decision.

Outlaw – born outside of the law,

All the rockers and metal heads are outlaws.

I’ve always been a dreamer,
Dreamers find it hard to survive

You need to act if you want your dreams to come true.

Rock N Roll Women

About groupies.

I’m looking for the promise of a one night stand
So I’m going looking for those rock ‘n’ roll women tonight

That’s all DC wants, a good time with no strings attached.

KISS – Dynasty

One of the first albums I owned from Kiss and i played it to death, so it’s no surprise I have a few songs from it on my list. Other friends I know hate this album and the debates between albums is always fun. I always saw the debates like this.

“Dynasty” is my first Kiss album, so by default I dropped the needle on it a lot. However, most of friends had “Love Gun” or “Destroyer” as their first Kiss album and they dropped the needle on those albums a lot.

“I Was Made for Loving You”

It was the obvious single, and the unexpected hit, written by Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia and Desmond Child. Stanley also performs bass duties on this one. Seriously, if you were a fan of Kiss before this song, how can you not like the poppy chorus. Some of the best pop songwriters hung up their pens and pads after this. (Maybe not, but you get the point).

For me, the melodies are great, but the lyrics are crap.

Sure Know Something

Written by Stanley and Poncia, this is another song hated by “fans” who cried sell out. To me, it’s a mixture between melodic rock, disco and new wave. In the end, it’s still Kiss. It has all the ingredients of crap lyrics and great melodies. The bass groove is unique and the lead guitar break from Stanley is worth the listen.

Dirty Livin’

This is an excellent track. It could have been on a Steely Dan album or a Doobie Brothers record. Instead it’s on a Kiss record and it rocks. Peter Criss sings, it and he co-wrote it with Stan Penridge and Vini Poncia.  It’s actually the only track that Peter Criss drums on. Anton Fig played drums on all of the other songs.

Magic Touch

Solely written by Paul Stanley this track comes loaded with a melodic riff and a pop melody. Still to this day it’s a favourite, purely for its sense of melody.

Hard Times

Ace Frehley wrote it, he sings it and he plays all the guitars. It’s another Kiss rocker. All the pieces are here.

The hard times are dead and gone
But the hard times have made me strong

Damn right they did.

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

1983 – VI – No Parole From The Born Again, Bent Out Of Shape, Rock And Roll Frontiers As The Never Switch Is Flicked For Steeler Siogo’s Surrender.

Listening back to all of the music from 1983 got me thinking about life and time. Even though 1983 is 34 years in the past, it feels like it was more recent.

How time flys?

And I am trying to work out how certain events pushed me onto different paths and how those paths became far removed from the path I wanted to be on.

And while life might seem chaotic in 2017, it wasn’t much different in 1983. We still had terrorism back them. The IRA was very active in the U.K and we had acts of terror in Lebanon. We had changes in government that didn’t appeal to the status quo.

The frontiers are a changing.

Journey – Frontiers

“I gotta tell you that I’m not hurtin’ for a place to live and I’m not hurtin’ for money, no, but filthy rich – no. You’ve got six people in the band, you’ve got unions in this country, you’ve got people who want a big hunk of what you make all the way down the line. It’s a big circus. It takes five semis and a lot of lights, a lot of sound, a lot of crew and a lot of busses and gas! When you talk 107 shows and you talk 30,000 miles, you’re talking a lot.”
Steve Perry 

Coming into the recording of “Frontiers”, Journey was riding the waves of “Don’t Stop Believin”. The Jonathan Cain era was in full swing.

So what was next for Journey?

How do you follow up “Escape”?

They began their career as progressive rockers in the 70’s, and by the start of the 80’s they had moved into hard rock. With the addition of Jonathan Cain on keyboards and with the success of “Escape” they moved into superstar territory. And with “Frontiers”, Journey kept on polishing their sound and moving further away from their progressive blues roots. Plus they also gave a certain person in Italy a name for his future record label.

Separate Ways
It’s been covered by metal bands ad infinitum because it’s such a good song. The opening keyboard lick would work well as a guitar lick. Then when the drum groove comes in, it’s quality all around.

I would have preferred to hear some more grunt in the verses from the guitar, but this is Journey coming off the success of “Escape” and Neal Schon transitions into a song decorator.

Someday, love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched and went our separate ways

The chorus melody was so good, that Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon re-used it/plagiarised it/copied it or let themselves be influenced by it on the song “Message of Love” from their 1997 comeback album, “Trial By Fire”.

Faithfully
It’s the signature ballad and the last track recorded for the album. Prince even asked Journey for permission before releasing “Purple Rain” because the chord changes are close to “Faithfully” and he didn’t want to get sued.

“I thought it was an amazing tune and I told him, ‘Man, I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.’”
JONATHAN CAIN 

“We all talked about it, and everybody said, ‘Nah, it’s the highest form of flattery. Let it go.’”
NEAL SCHON 

And Cain could have requested a co-writing credit on “Purple Rain,” but he didn’t.

“No, no, that’ll just bring bad juju on you, and you don’t want to do that. I just thought it seriously showed the kind of caring, classy guy Prince was.”
JONATHAN CAIN

All music is a sum of a person’s influences.

Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile

It’s a brilliant lyric comparing the rock and roll touring lifestyle with the life of a carnie.

Steve Perry did a great job on the vocals, especially that outro. In This Moment also use this song as an influence for the outro of their song “World In Flames”.

Troubled Child
This song is one of those underrated gems on an album. Those little nuggets.

Voices echo, from the past
Decisions made for you

The whole song is great lyrically, but it’s the above that sticks out. Something that James Hetfield constantly sings about, especially in “The Unforgiven” songs.

Ask The Lonely
It was a bonus track on the 2006 re-issue. It should have been on it.

Black Sabbath – Born Again
At the start of the 80’s, Black Sabbath re-invented themselves with the Dio led version of the band. However after the success of “Heaven and Hell” and “Mob Rules”, Ronnie James Dio said see ya later to Tony Iommi and took drummer Vinny Appice with him. Bill Ward was back in alongside Iommi, Butler and keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (RIP). So the search began for a vocalist. We all know the story of how this was meant to be a new supergroup project however their new manager Don Arden (who was also Ozzy’s ex-Manager and the father to Ozzy’s wife, Sharon) would not even contemplate it. His grudges against Ozzy and Sharon and the fact that he wanted to better them with the groups he managed would be the death knell of this project.

David Coverdale and Robert Plant were talked about as vocalists. They even received an audition tape from Michael Bolton who at that time was unknown. But it was Arden who recommended Gillian. And that is the problem. Ian Gillian is more or less terrible on it. And that album cover is now part of folklore. According to Wikipedia, Don Arden was fond of telling Osbourne that his children resembled the “Born Again” album cover.

But the songs “Disturbing The Priest” and “Zero The Hero” are pretty good musically. The lyrics are neither here or there, but the music is excellent.

Disturbing the Priest
According to Wikipedia, “Disturbing the Priest” was written after a rehearsal space set up by Iommi in a small building near a local church received noise complaints from the resident priests.

It’s underpinned by a bass groove reminiscent of “Heaven And Hell” and “The Sign of The Southern Cross”. Add to that, the eeriness of early Sabbath.

The devil and the priest can’t exist if one goes away

Damn right.

Zero the Hero
Accept the fact that you’re second rate life is easy for you

Conformity in one simple statement.

Rainbow – Bent Out Of Shape
MTV changed the way bands wrote albums. Suddenly experimentation, longer guitar solos or longer songs in general went out the window. Every band was trying to make that arena rock song. So it was no surprise that Rainbow would follow suit, especially after they had a few unexpected hits in “Since You’ve been Gone” from 1979’s “Down To Earth” album with Graham Bonnet on vocals, “I Surrender” from 1981’s “Difficult To Cure” with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals and “Stone Cold” from the 1982 album “Straight Between the Eyes”.

The band for the recording of this album was Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, David Rosenthal on keys and Chuck Burgi on drums. But the single here should have been “Stranded” instead of “Street of Dreams”.

Stranded
It’s the only good song on the album. That bass just keeps the pedal point note going, while Blackmore is free to explore so many different musical palettes.

Dog night, I’m so alone
A million miles out on my own
No one to talk, no one to care
Searching for someone, they could be anywhere

Life of a rock and roller.

AC/DC – Flick Of The Switch
It’s a solid album, coming out after the holy trinity of albums, their U.S breakthrough “Highway To Hell” in 1979, the mega selling “Back In Black” from 1980 and it’s 1981 successor “For Those About To Rock”.

Some personnel changes happened as well. Simon Wright is in the drummers’ chair, replacing Phil Rudd. Simon Kirke from the band Free also auditioned, as well as 699 other drummers. It would have been cool if it was 666 drummers.

The producer of their holy trinity albums, Mutt Lange was also out. Their manager Peter Mensch was also out. Angus and Malcolm stepped up to give the world a live and raw version of AC/DC. There are no classic songs on the album. But there is a lot of groove and swagger. The slower tempo’s make it sound HEAVY. But the songs don’t get played live, so the album remains largely forgotten to the masses.

“Basically what Mal had said was that he wanted to try and get that feeling of being in a room with it all happening. I don’t think it really worked entirely.”
Engineer Tony Platt in the book Maximum Rock & Roll

Rising Power
My body’s blown a fuse
Rising power
We’ll raise the night
Rising power

Rise/Rising = hard on. Blow a fuse = climax. Johnson is rolling out the metaphors.

Flick Of The Switch
With a flick of the switch
She’ll blow you sky high

Johnson is still rolling out the metaphors with innuendo.

Nervous Shakedown
It’s a dirty lie
It’s a shakedown
It’s lookin’ like a set-up

There is a lot of this happening today, with copyright trolls trying to shakedown internet users. The trolls put up the content and then take note who downloads the content via the public torrent trackers. Once they have a list of IP addresses, they go to the courts, so the courts could give approval for the Telcos to unmask their users and provide address details. If the courts approve, the trolls send the users letters, saying if they pay $50 to $100 and admit guilt, it all goes away, if they choose to fight it in court and they lose, then the users could be liable for thousands in fees. It’s a shakedown, a set-up.

Guns For Hire
Look out woman
I got gun’s for hire
Shoot you with desire

I wonder what Johnson means here.

Badlands
It sounds like Tom Keifer is singing this song. Musically, it’s a cross between George Thorogood’s “Bad To The Bone”, 70’s ZZ Top and AC/DC’s roots in the blues.

Again, it’s the groove that hooks me in.

“In the badlands”

Triumph – Never Surrender
I never heard this album in 1983. It became part of my collection much later on via Record Music Fairs and so forth and it was the more ambitious and melodic tracks that appealed to me.

A World Of Fantasy
How good is this song’s intro especially when the harmony guitars kick in?

Lost in your world of fantasy
Look what you’ve done to me

A Minor Prelude
It’s just a nice 90 second instrumental on acoustic guitar.

All The Way
How good is the intro?

Lyrical the theme is clichéd but the lyrics are just excellent.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way
Every dog will have his day
Those who wait are only wasting’ time

It’s all about the effort. In the 1900’s, research said that to achieve greatness you need to put in 10 years of practice. This was then enhanced to include 10,000 hours of practice, which was then further enhanced to say 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, which means breaking down a skill you want to learn into chunks and learning it slowly before increasing the speed.

That’s why the metronome is the best tool for any wannabe musician. Learn the song slowly and then increase the speed to its normal speed and just for fun, push the speed even faster to see how you go playing the song. Sometimes, ballads like “Alone Again” end up sounding pretty wicked at 150bpm.

That’s why the Senseball is the best tool for any wannabe football player. You start of slowly, focusing on the task at hand and slowly build it up.

Pray for wisdom – dig for gold
Can’t buy freedom by selling your soul

Recording contracts are designed to benefit the entity forking out the money to produce the works. So any wannabe artist needs to sell their soul for a shot at the brass ring.

You better watch out, you better look around
Cause what goes up is gonna come down
Everybody lives by the law of supply and demand

So true. Even the record labels live by the law of supply and demand. When people got fed up with the corrupted and very pricey supply chain, technology allowed mp3’s to be created. Suddenly music was everywhere.

Once you’ve set a course don’t change it
Luck will come to those who chase it
Don’t let anything get in your way

What a brilliant verse. Hell, the whole “Talent Code” book is based around the theory that you need to love what you do, to practice deep for a long time, so you can become an expert in your field.

Never Surrender
In the verses, it reminds me musically of Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love”. But at almost 7 minutes in length, it has a lot of musical movements and a groove that’s hypnotic.

How good are the lyrics in this?

Jivin’, hustiln’, what’s it all about?
Everybody always wants the east way out
Thirty golden pieces for the Judas kiss
What’s a nice boy doin’ in a place like this?

Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to be famous. But is everyone willing to put the hard work in. Is everyone willing to be surrounded by people who will lie and deceive?

Today you found a hero tomorrow you’ll forget

This is so relevant in 2017. The speed at which we move on to new things is astonishing.

Never Surrender – we cannot be denied
Never Surrender – spread your wings and fly

To become an expert and have a chance of success, you need to be in it for the long run. The 10 years. The 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. There are no short cuts.

Writing On The Wall
It’s got that 80’s metal pedal point vibe, but in a major key instead of a minor key.

I am up here
Walking on a tight rope
But I never pause to think
That I could fall

Damn right, there is no safety net in life, especially in music.

I’ve got one short dance
On this planet
But I’ll carve my message deep into the wall

Long-time dead, short time alive. Don’t waste your days on what you can’t control.

Blackfoot – Siogo
The first time I heard Blackfoot was via a Spotify Discover playlist and it was the song “Send Me An Angel”.

Send Me An Angel
I can’t live with all this doubt

Are we good enough?

Is this song good enough?

Do I look good enough?

So many expectations we place on ourselves just to please others. And then we wonder, why so many doubt themselves. It’s even worse today with social media.

Teenage Idol
Standing in his hometown
Waiting for the bus that’ll take him
Farther than he’s ever been

I’ve shown them what a pretty life I’ve made
Even though I’ll miss you badly

It’s the ultimate sacrifice. A career in music vs loved ones you need to leave behind. As Jonathan Cain wrote in “Faithfully”, the road is no place to raise a family.

Alcatrazz – No Parole from Rock N’ Roll
When I was starting out in bands, one of the guitarists in the band was a huge Yngwie Malmsteen fan. The drummer of the band was also a fan of Malmsteen and he had this album on LP, so I dubbed it on cassette from him. Home taping was spreading the music.

But the Alcatrazz story is much deeper than Malmsteen’s brief appearance. Like a lot of other bands in the 80’s it was a pseudo supergroup of musicians. You had a 20 year old guitar hero in Yngwie Malmsteen, a 30 year old experienced bassist in Gary Shea, a 33 year old experienced drummer in Jan Uvena, a 24 year old keyboardist in Jimmy Waldo and a 35 year old vocalist with major label experience in Graham Bonnet.

The story starts with bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo. After their band “New England” lost their singer, they moved out to L.A to work with a guitarist called Vinnie Vincent and a new band called Warrior. Vinnie Vincent at the time also had a deal in place to co-write songs for Kiss. ‘Boyz Gonna Rock” and “I Love It Loud” appeared on the first Warrior demo. On the strength of that demo and the songs that Vinnie had written, he was asked to join KISS. We all know how big “I Love It Loud” became.

And from the ashes of Warrior, the embryo of Alcatrazz was formed.

With a dodgy manager on board, who took royalties meant for the band into his own pocket, Alcatrazz was a go. Shea actually reckons Malmsteen lost a lot of money when he left due to the thievery of their manager.

Island In The Sun
It’s the opening track and a Malmsteen classic. Actual songwriters are listed as Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimmy Waldo and Graham Bonnet but there is no denying the Malmsteen sound.

In their nine by five rooms, became inspired
By the silence in sight of the city

Is it about prison or something else?

Jet To Jet
It’s a Malmsteen and Bonnet composition. It’s pretty safe to say that all the music is from Malmsteen and Bonnet wrote the lyrics.

How they stared as we made our exit
We’re white they’re all brown
Dr. Livingstone where are you when we need you the most
We’re white as ivory on the Ivory Coast

Is the song about the arrival of white men in Africa?

Is the “Jet To Jet” title referring to the colour black (as jet is a shade of black)?

Hiroshima Mon Amour
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition. Bonnet was inspired by the 1959 French film Hiroshima Mon Amour, (translation: “Hiroshima My Love”), which he had seen in school. The film recounts the Hiroshima bombing and tells of the human suffering in the aftermath.

“I was always horrified by what happened. And Hiroshima, my love, it was like, goddamn, you know, I didn’t want that to happen again. So I read up a little bit about it, and that’s how that came about. It was something I thought should never have happened. It was just a horrible thing. I couldn’t believe that the Americans would do this, or anybody would do that to anybody. It was sort of a protest song in a way.”
Graham Bonnet 

The fireball would dim the sun,
Promising death in its cruellest form

There is no good in war, but man, when you read about the fall out and the cancers still happening even today, you get to understand the gravity of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima Mon Amour
As we beg to be forgiven do you spit
In our face and curse us all.

Incubus
A short Malmsteen instrumental that he would use in his solo career.

Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
It’s another Malmsteen/Bonnet composition.

Chemical kids lost in the street,
Looking for some kind of saviour
Perverted minds lead them like sheep
Into the slaughter they have to face

Chemicals once upon a time = alcohol. Today, chemicals on the streets mean so many different things.

There’s time to die but she just needs more time to live

A brilliant line. In the last six months I have attended 4 funerals. Two for people aged 40, one for a person in their 60’s and one for a person a few weeks short of their 80th birthday. 40 is way too young to die.

Years from now
Look how they change
They’re so mature and respected
Makes them laugh
They were such fools
So unaware of the real live world

Some made it to an older age so they could look back, others didn’t.

Steeler – Steeler
From interviews in Guitar mags, I knew that Yngwie Malmsteen was in the band Steeler. Also in the band was vocalist Ron Keel (from Keel) and former W.A.S.P. bassist Rik Fox. The band produced only one album.

The album was released September 25, 1983 but I didn’t hear it until very much later.

“Steeler was formed by in Nashville and fought our way to the top of the LA hard rock scene in the early 80’s – it’s a great story, and if you want to know all the details, I suggest you check out my official autobiography “Even Keel: Life On The Streets Of Rock & Roll,”. Success is a relative term – Steeler sold a couple hundred thousand albums, while my band KEEL has sold several million albums.”
Ron Keel 

It was Ron Keel and then guitarist Michael Dunigan who came out to L.A to scout gigs. Once they got a feel for the place, the whole band and crew came out. Eventually the original line up splintered because Ron Keel felt threatened by the level of musicianship on the L.A scene and he believed he needed to get better musicians.

Mike Varney, the owner of Shrapnel Records played Ron Keel a demo tape of Malmsteen and he was on a ship from Sweden to L.A. Rik Fox looked like a rock star and got the bassist gig. By making changes, Keel lost the camaraderie and chemistry within the band.

For Malmsteen, this was a four month stopover in his grand vision for greatness. The stop-over involved 9 shows, the recording session for the album and two song contributions in “No Way Out” and “Abduction”.

Cold Day In Hell
It’s listed as a Ron Keel song and it’s one hell of good rock song. More in vein with what Keel would sound like, but without a Malmsteen lead break.

Empty eyes of heartless friends
The night is mine again
Bitter streets of evil stares
No one listens, no one cares

The lead break from Malmsteen is a classic.

No Way Out
It’s written by Ron Keel, Mark Edwards and Yngwie Malmsteen and although the lyrics are hit and miss, it’s still a good listen.

Click the link to listen to 1983-Part6

1. Separate Ways (Words Apart) – Journey
2. A World Of Fantasy – Triumph
3. Send Me An Angel – Blackfoot
4. Island In The Sun – Alcatrazz
5. Stranded – Rainbow

6. Disturbing The Priest – Black Sabbath
7. Rising Power – AC/DC
8. A Minor Prelude/All The Way – Triumph
9. Faithfully – Journey
10. Jet To Jet – Alcatrazz

11. Flick Of The Switch – AC/DC
12. Never Surrender – Triumph
13. Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alcatrazz
14. No Way Out – Steeler
15. Writing On The Wall – Triumph

16. Cold Day In Hell – Steeler
17. Badlands – AC/DC
18. Ask The Lonely – Journey
19. Incubus / Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live – Alcatrazz
20. Zero The Hero – Black Sabbath

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My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Football Reality

I coach junior football. I’ve been doing it since 2011 when my six and five-year old started playing. I didn’t want to be the coach because I was never a good player. If anything I played more reserve grade than first grade. But I love the game. I watched a lot of games and a lot of training sessions (as my middle brother was a first grader).

In 2011, small sided games was just a few years old in Australia. It made perfect sense why it was introduced but it was a totally foreign concept to me to have six kids in a team and play 4 v 4. What was even stranger was the fact that the 50% of the kids who registered that year to play U6’s couldn’t even get themselves into a position to kick a ball let alone run with the ball or take a player on.

But I took on the role to coach and god damn it, I will coach. I only trained them once a week in 2011 so I structured the sessions in the same way I learnt about football from my brothers.

Ball mastery, 1 v 1’s and a game at the end. My main mission was to have all the players comfortable with the ball and taking players on. It was tough. And I was disheartened. I was spending so much time with trying to develop the other kids, I neglected my own.

You see when I was playing football back in the 80’s only the real committed kids would sign up. And all the teams had just one team per age group, so if you didn’t make the team you either;

  • Trained harder to make the team the following year
  • Tried to find another club in the area (pending your local Club’s approval, even though they didn’t select you
  • Or you gave the game away and played another sport.

So the coaches back then never worked on skills. It was assumed you would already have ball mastery skills and excellent 1 v 1’s before you even started. One coach told me my job is to not let the striker score and when I win the ball to pump it forward to our striker. I once took four touches before I played a long ball forward and I was subbed. I never took four touches again.

And I’m thinking about my past while I’m training the other kids in the team who have never watched a game of football to stop booting the ball when they get it and to take a touch and try to take a player on.

I’m seeing all these articles about kids engagement and making it fun for them, so they don’t give the sport away and I’m comparing these stories to the 80’s.

I know for a fact, the Club my kids play for had;

  • 84 kids register in U6 to play 4 v 4. Six kids per team x 14 teams.
  • Six years later in the U12’s 48 are left, with 4 teams of 12 players each.
  • The gap between the “A” team and the “B” team is huge.

So effectively isn’t the end result the same as running that one high performing team like it was in the 80’s. By introducing small sided games, more kids register, which mean more fees for the federations. The high number of teams per age group, means more coaches are required. These coaches need to get qualified, so more money for the federations. The qualifications are valid for 3 years, so if those coaches are still in the game, more money is spend on getting qualified. But it doesn’t mean the best kids will be found or retained.

In 2012, I did the FFA Grassroots, Junior and Youth Licence. I knew I needed more knowledge if my coaching journey was to continue. The cost was $160, however if you passed it, the club or the local FA was meant to refund you half of the monies. I passed it and never got a refund. While the course was good it wouldn’t help dad’s or mum’s who didn’t know football. Because there was no ball mastery. Back in 2005 I was given a burnt copy of Coerver “Make Your Move”. It became my bible for teaching the kids “Ball Mastery”. This made a big difference on the kids I coached compared to the other coaches who just did the course/s.

In U7’s I trained them twice a week. Ball Mastery, 1 v 1’s and 5 v 1 Rondos formed part of the sessions with a game at the end. I had to replace two kids who left the team to join another team with their friends in it. But I was given two kids who have never played, so i was back at the start again.

U8’s in 2013 was 7 v 7. That meant four new kids given to me by the club. I know some clubs did skill assessments to place kids, but the Club I was involved in didn’t do it for this age group. So I had 10 kids and it was hard. I had kids again who just booted the ball forward and did not feel comfortable at all with the ball. Even after two years in a 4 v 4 format, it was like these four new kids just started. And again, I felt like I was back at the start.

U9’s in 2014 was still 7 v 7. I took an extra kid so I had 11 kids. It was a lot of subs, but I as going on a family holiday to Europe for the last 7 games and my absence would leave the team with 9 players.

In 2015, it was U10’s and it was 9 v 9. For the first time, the Club had trials to place the kids in Advanced, Intermediate High, Intermediate Low and Social teams. My son born in 2005 trialled and made the U10 Advanced team for the Club. I kept my other son born in 2006 in the U9’s again. He also trialled for the Advanced team and made it.

I coached the U9 Advanced team and a person who played at NSL level coached the U10’s. It’s safe to say that my son, along with others went backwards in their development because of this coach. While this coach played at a high level and he made sure he mentioned it, he couldn’t coach kids for shit. Eventually the parents of the kids in the U10 team got in touch with me to train their kids. I swore this was would be the last time that I would feel intimidated by people who played a high level.

In 2016, I did my Asian C Licence. It cost $1800. A big price to pay. All I have left to do is submit my final video assessment of my game training session to receive the qualification. I have two years to do this. I remember the odd looks I got from the others doing it. On the first day, all the participants had to introduce themselves and every single person except me, played in the old NSL or the A-League. Every single person was skinny except me. I had an ACL reconstruction a few months before, so I couldn’t even participate. And I made a promise to myself, this would BE the last time I would fee intimidated.

Also in 2016, I coached the U11 Advanced team, which had by son in it. My other son, born in 2006 son trialled and got selected for the U10 Skill Acquisition Program (SAP) team. A cost of $1500 to be an elite player in Australia for one year. Imagine my shock when I saw the sessions for an elite program. The coach had the kids playing ball tag and other rubbish like that. The fact that 3/4 of the kids couldn’t receive the ball with their back foot and face forward was not an issue.

Back at my Club, I trained the kids three times a week and I coached both the Advanced A and Advanced B teams. I had my rep kid train one of the sessions. This meant he trained 4 times a week and I was mindful of over training him as I was really subscribing to the research of Raymond Verheijen. His name came about in a discussion due to a football periodisation session he held in Australia where he turned the aircon off and wouldn’t let the people go to the toilet for 4 hours. I was interested as to why he would do that and what was he trying to achieve.

And here I am in 2017, I coach the U12A team (with my two boys back together again and loving it) and two U7 teams (with my youngest in it).

It’s funny that my team doesn’t have any kids born between Jan and May, as the good athletic ones born in those months are in the rep teams. The players in my team have the birth months from June 2005 to July 2006.

And I’m still not happy with the kids 1 v 1 actions. I have taught them all I know but they need more. So I called in an Obi Wan Kenobi like mentor to assist me with this. Back in his day he was brilliant and only injuries derailed his career. His own kids are in the professional youth teams and lot of the other kids he has coached have also joined NPL1 teams. It looks like it’s one of my best decisions. And while the journey is hard, long, stressful and very time-consuming when you are planning sessions and what not, it’s totally worth it.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

1981 – Part IV – Took The Midnight Train Goin’ Anywhere

 

Journey – Escape
It’s Journey’s first album with keyboardist Jonathan Cain and what a way to make your Journey debut. The album was certified 9x platinum by the RIAA and the single “Don’t Stop Believin” has moved over 7.5 million units (digital and physical combined) in the U.S alone.

The album was co-produced by former Lynyrd Skynyrd soundman Kevin Elson and one-time Queen engineer Mike Stone, who also engineered the album. But the main driver/decorator of the album is Neal Schon. His playing by 1981 was an amalgamation of so many styles and his phrasing and note selection was spot on.

“Escape”
This is my favourite on the album. You can hear the origins of the melodic rock movement (that gained momentum many years later), right here in this song. Like most of the album, it’s a Cain, Perry and Schon composition.

“He’s just a young boy out of school
Livin’ his world like he wants to
They’re makin’ laws, but they don’t understand
Turns a boy in to a fightin’ man”

This song is buried away. In 2015, any new fan will need to dig deep into their catalogue to hear “Escape”.

“They won’t take me
They won’t break me”

No one wanted to give in to the establishments like the schools, the governments and the corporations. We all wanted to go our own way and do our own things the way we wanted to do them.

“Who’s Crying Now”
This one is a Cain and Perry composition. When Neal Schon breaks out that little lead line from the 3.30 minute mark, the song starts kicking for me. Schon is at the peak of his powers and the Escape album is evidence of those powers.

“Don’t Stop Believin'”
The big one. 158 million streams on Spotify.

As good as the piano riff is, check out what Schon does with it. The palm muted legato pull of lick at the intro, whammy bend is enough to stop the intro from getting boring. The whole song has Schon complimenting and adding to the original piano riff. By doing that, the song becomes a bonafide classic rock song.

“Took the midnight train goin’ anywhere”

Everyone dreams of leaving their city behind for bigger and better things, thinking that if they do, they will be happy, because they see happiness is some attainable goal. Although this song has been played to death in my household because it has been licensed to nearly every movie or TV commercial, the message is still crystal clear. Don’t stop trying, regardless of your age.

And the piece d’resistance of the song is when Schon actually plays the vocal line “Don’t Stop Believin” as a lead break before it even comes in at the end. Brilliant.

“Stone In Love”
If you persist with the song and get the 2.30 minute mark, it transitions into a melodic lead outro, which for a band with so much commercial appeal, it was excellent to hear, Schon break out some chops.

“Mother, Father”
This song is interesting and very progressive like Genesis. It’s written by Jonathan Cain, Joe Perry, Steve Perry, Matt Schon and Neal Schon.

AC/DC – For Those About to Rock We Salute You
The follow-up to “Back in Black” and Mutt Lange completes his trilogy of career defining albums with the band, that began with “Highway To Hell”. The labels, as usual started to flood the market with AC/DC music. First, Atlantic Records in the United States released the Australian version of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” to the U.S market, while another label released Geordie recordings, from Brian Johnson’s old band.

With any success, more money gets thrown into the recordings and what you get is an album that is over-produced. Still, it gave the world the title track, which more or less closes every AC/DC gig with the stage prop canons firing away. The song and the name of the album was inspired by a book Angus Young read, entitled “For Those About to Die, We Salute You”, about Roman gladiators.

And the certification armies came forth and bestowed upon the band many sales certifications. 4x Platinum in the U.S, 5 x Platinum in Australia and Platinum certifications in most of Europe.

“Stand up and be counted
For what you are about to receive
We are the dealers
We’ll give you everything you need” ….. from “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Phil Collins – Face Value
One song sums up this album; the 50 million plus streamed “In The Air Tonight”. If 1981 proved one thing, it was the year of the big hit song.  Eric Clapton is also on hand to play some guitar on “The Roof Is Leaking” which is a cult fave of mine.

Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog
A lot of people don’t know that Rick Springfield started getting in the music business officially in 1969 via pop rock group “Zoot” and from 1972 as a solo artist. Keeping with the 1981  theme, one song sums up this album, and that is “Jessie’s Girl”. It’s a shame that the album has been withheld from Spotify.

King Crimson – Discipline
The birth of “Tool”, “Between The Buried And Me” and “djent” is heard on this classic album. Like “Tool”, King Crimson does not participate in Spotify streaming, so the album is not available for streaming.

However, YouTube has it.

Yep folks, that’s the world we live in.

Now, if you are looking for big arena rock choruses than King Crimson is not the band for you. However, if you are looking for a band that pushed musical boundaries and inspired a whole new generation of progressive, math and technical rock/metal bands, then King Crimson is the band to sink your teeth into.

Check out the instrumental title track “Discipline” and the similar sounding “Frame By Frame” and you’ll hear what I mean. “Elephant Talk” lyrically is garbage, however the bass playing from Tony Levin on his Chapman Stick is worth a listen.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

A Clash Of Singles

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

So the public, after being burnt so many times on purchases like these really took to the whole cherry picking idea when the mp3 became available. It wasn’t the artists fault, it was the fault of the greedy record labels.

And now with streaming, we have taken it up a notch.

Look at the streaming count of Journey.

“Don’t Stop Believin” is at 70.8 million streams on Spotify. Nothing else even comes close from Journey’s catalogue to that one song and how many albums have Journey released so far. A lot. But “Don’t Stop Believin” is the song.

It has also sold over six million digital copies and when it was released back in the early Eighties it didn’t even hit Number 1.

Bon Jovi have the usual suspects.

“Livin On A Prayer” is approaching 30 million streams and “It’s My Life” is at 21.3 million streams. “You Give Love A Bad Name” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive” are also up there. That is why “Slippery When Wet” was a strong album.

Name me the Journey album that had “Don’t Stop Believin” on it without Googling it.

I expect the fans of the band to know, however in 2014, I also guarantee you that a lot of people would not know that the album was called “Escape” and that the song goes back all the way to 1981. “Don’t Stop Believin” even though it wasn’t a number one hit, pushed the “Escape” album to Number 1. And it was a Blockbuster of a song. Just the way the record label liked it.

Journey was touring Australia a few years back and my work friend got tickets and asked me if I was going. I said that I am not interested in seeing Journey without Steve Perry. And their response was;

“What is it with me and my appreciation for guitarists”.

Here is a person, that purchased two Journey tickets and he didn’t know who Steve Perry was and I couldn’t believe that he actually thought that Steve Perry is the guitarist in the band. Your honour, I rest my case. But the truth of the matter is this, no one cares these days who wrote the song, who played on the song, who produced the song and so forth.

All they care about is THE SONG.

And music is a cultural beast. Nobody owes a musician a living, never mind the executives trying to keep enslaved musicians as cash cows. But if you create that song, expect a living.

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

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, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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