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

Who Do You Think RPWL Are?

Lost in all the noise that is the music business, is a German neo progressive rock band called RPWL. They started of their career as a Pink Floyd cover band.

That is how all bands start off. Playing the songs of our favourites. Eventually, they started to create their own music, heavily influenced by the music they covered. Singer, Yogi Lange has the Gilmour tone to his voice and guitarist Karl Heinz Wallner gets very close to Gilmour’s signature sound.

However, the RPWL story didn’t start in 1997. It goes back to 1992 and a band called Violet District. On their debut and only album, “Terminal Breath”, Pink Floyd influences abound, however the influence of Marillion is more predominant. The nucleus of Violet District are the talents of Karl-Heinz Wallner, Chris Postl and Yogi Lang who of course went on to become members of RPWL. So from the ashes of Violet District, RPWL is born. Like Bon Scott said, it is a long way to the top if you want to prog and roll.

God Has Failed (2000)

This album should have done better in recognition. The world needed some Pink Floyd, and while the original band was on hiatus, RPWL stepped up to fill the void. Remember the catchy cry; progress is derivative. RPWL’s “God Has Failed” is Pink Floyds “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason Pt. 2”. Tempus Fugit the record label said that with the release of the RPWL debut album, it was their first album that made some money in sales and it gave the label the chance to invest the profits in other artists.

This album got the band labelled as Pink Floyd clones, much the same way Kingdom Come was labelled Led Zeppelin clones after their debut. The difference between the two in sales is staggering, as Kingdom Come went on a multi-platinum victory lap and RPWL didn’t.

This is RPWL raw and showing the world their influences. If you don’t like it I don’t care. If you don’t know it, you should.

“Who Do You Think We Are”
Great title to sum up the band, and I believe the song also sums up the musical style of the album. This is The Beatles crossed with Pink Floyd. The Beatles are a big influence that went largely unnoticed when this album came out. George Harrison could have written this track. It is a pop song with a progressive chorus.

Who do you think we are
There’s nothing left
But the shades of our past

When you reach that point in a relationship or a friendship and each side has gone in different directions. Where do we stand at this point in time? How do we fit in each other’s lives right now? When you can’t find the answer, the only thing left is the past.

We both know the sun will rise again
We both thought that it will never end
But somewhere deep inside
Life as got a bitter taste
When not a single friend is here to stay

Isn’t that always the case. When a break up happens, either in a relationship or a friendship, people take sides. There is always one that will be left all alone.

“In Your Dreams”
This follows on with The Beatles meets Pink Floyd theme set in “Who Do You Think We Are”. It’s the seventies merged with the eighties in the Year 2000. Think of the song “Sorrow” from “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”. The song has those moments of recognition, however as the track goes on, it becomes its own track and it evolves into the heaviest bit of the album.

Tell me what do you feel
When you die in your dreams

Who hasn’t woken up from a dream state, with that terrible sinking feeling. You have just dreamt your death, and that sick feeling lingers.

“Farewell”
It should have been the closer on the album. If anything the album is just a tad too long. 45 minutes would be sufficient, however RPWL released 71 minutes worth of music. It looks like they couldn’t part with some of the material. In this song, I am hearing King Crimson influence’s merged with Pink Floyd.

Remember all the time when life
Was only china in our hands

What a way to sum up how fragile life is, by comparing it to valuable china plates. You know, those plates that your parents bring out on special occasions to serve dinner when people are around. Then they are hand washed carefully, and dried in a safe place, so that the gold edge doesn’t get damaged.

When the Master calls
Don’t be afraid to say Farewell

In the end when the maker calls, the negotiations are over. It doesn’t matter how much you argue and try to buy more time, the end is the end. Death is just a transition.

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