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

2001 – Part 2.4: Live – V

To me it’s all just rock music in the end.

“V” is album number five, released in 2001. The band for the album is Ed Kowalczyk on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Chad Taylor on lead guitar, Patrick Dahlheimer on bass and Chad Gracey on drums. Like most of the albums, the majority of tracks are written by Ed Kowalczyk.

Wikipedia tells me that the collection of songs that became “V” was never intended to be released as an album. Guitarist Chad Taylor said, “The goal was to prepare songs for the next studio session. MCA got a hold of the material and pushed us to call it an album.” The songs were originally going to be released free to fans as a collection called “Ecstatic Fanatic”.

“Deep Enough”

One of their most creative songs. I was hooked from the intro.

It basically starts off with a music box piano riff, and then a Middle East music melody crashes in, which keeps repeating under a catchy verse vocal line which I’m pretty sure Karnivool was influenced by for the verse melody on “Themata”.

And the track was meant to be the album’s first single but the record company pulled rank and released “Simple Creed” instead which proved to be a big mistake.

Maybe they got scared from the lyrical nature of the song, about skirts rising and male appendage excitement rising with it.

“People Like You”

It feels like a Guns N Roses song from the “Use Your Illusion” album. In the Chorus, Ed even sounds like Axl.

In a dream I had you were standing all alone
With a dyin’ world below and a microphone
Singin’ hallelujah
I finally broke their mold

We take and cop so much crap as we go through life. People try to shape us to some version that they believe is true. Be unique, be free and don’t let others drag you down.

People like you! people like you! Motherfuckers like you! people like you!

It’s my favourite part of the song, when Ed sings the melody for the above lyrics and the guitar plays the octave guitar melody. And yes, he does say “motherfuckers”

“Transmit Your Love”

This track could have been an album cut on “Secret Samadhi”.

“Forever May Not Be Long Enough”

The piano riff to start the song is excellent.

It’s a co-write with Glen Ballard, who everyone wanted to work with after “Jagged Little Pill” blew up around the world in 1995.

In 1997, Aerosmith worked with him on the very underrated “Nine Lives” album and it’s the song “Taste Of India” which Ballard co-wrote with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, that I’m reminded off when I hear this song, which was also played during the closing credits of “The Mummy Returns” movie.

“Call Me A Fool”

The Beatles influences come through on this.

“OK”

Musically, this is Live bringing the funk and soul.

Take away my TV
don’t want your fuckin’ therapy
it’s all decay decay decay
not today, not today

Kids listening to this song today, won’t even know why someone would want their TV taken away. For them, the TV is like how the radio was for others, background noise. Most of our attentions are fixated on our small black screens.

“Overcome”

It’s got a piano riff and violins to set the mood and a nice vocal melody, but the lyrics about “holy water in lungs” are way to pretentious.

“Hero of Love”

The Beatles are back again for the album closer. Listen to this song for the Chorus.

“Throwing Copper” at 8x Platinum in the U.S was never going to be topped. It was part of a cultural movement. And “Secret Samadhi” is a great album, but it only went 2x Platinum in the U.S.

No small feat, but a massive drop in commercial expectations. “The Distance To Here” is at Platinum for U.S sales. “V” has no certification, not even a Gold.

And their commercial trajectory was similar to the 80’s bands on albums four and five except Metallica who had their biggest success with album number 5.

But they still do good live business, when live shows used to happen.

Because of “Throwing Copper”.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Record Vault: Creed – Live (DVD)

It’s just called “Live”.

This concert was filmed on their “Full Circle” tour in 2009. Joining the usual 4 members, Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti, Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall, is Eric Friedman on guitar.

Friedman has an interesting story.

Tremonti really got behind him around 2002/3 but his journey starts in 1996, when Kenny Wayne Shepherd pulled him onstage for a jam session. He got a Fender deal at 13 and a developmental record deal with Steve Vai’s label Favored Nations at 15. He appeared on the excellent Submersed album “In Due Time” (released in 2004) and as the rhythm guitarist with Creed on their reformation tour. He’s also in the Tremonti band.

Creed gets blasted for various reasons by critics and haters, but if you look at their output and the years those albums came out, you will notice that their releases acted like a bridge between eras.

“Human Clay” is that album that bridged the 80’s and early 90’s with the newer sounds from the late 90’s. After “Human Clay” we would get hundreds of derivative bands, in the same way we got hundreds of hard rock bands in the early 90’s.

I think of “Human Clay” in the same way I think of “Sad Wings Of Destiny” from Judas Priest which bridged the derivative blues rock from the early 70’s and space prog rock into a sound that I know as metal.

“Bullets”

It’s a great opener, very metal like. Check out the intro riff for aggression.

It’s also the second single from Creed’s third album, “Weathered”.

When I watched em in Sydney on the “Weathered” tour, they also opened with this one.

“Overcome”

“Please allow us to re-introduce ourselves. We have overcome”, Stapp said as he introduced the song.

From the new album, and it was like Creed never broke up. But it was a different Creed as well, as Tremonti delivers a killer lead break.

“My Own Prison”

“When we got back into the room after six years of not playing together, I asked Mark, “what do you want to play” and he said, “let’s go back to the beginning”” was how Stapp introduced this song.

And “My Own Prison” begins. Its slower tempo groove fits perfectly in the set list after two heavy openers.

“Say I”

One of my favourite tracks from Creed as it incorporates a few different feels and styles. If you like Tool, then the verses would remind you of Tool. If you like hard rock, then the pre-chorus will remind you of hard rock. If you like metal, then the intro and chorus riff will remind you of metal.

For me, this is a deep album cut and to see it in the set list, I wish I was in Houston watching the show.

And they jam the interlude groove, which I didn’t think they would do. But they did, making the concert experience different from just playing the song as per the recording.

“Never Die”

“This song is about innocence”, Stapp said in his introduction. I still reckon this is an awesome Pearl Jam song. Maybe more so for the vocal than the music, as the riffs from Tremonti incorporate so many different styles. And if you read his interviews, you will feel like you had the same upbringing as him and his discovery of music.

“Torn”

One of my favourite songs to jam to. Tremonti is a master at creating a great riff.

“A Thousand Faces”

This is another album cut, which defines the Creed sound and make sure you check out the Tremonti solo towards the end of the song.

“What If”

How good is the Chorus and that chromatic Metallica/Megadeth like interlude?

Then they jam. The solo section has Tremonti and Friedman trading licks and none of it is from the studio recording. It’s all part of the live show.

“Unforgiven”

If you are a fan of Creed because of “Higher” and “What’s This Life For” then you will be bored by this song. It’s basically speed metal and aggressive.

And Creed brought back the big Rock N Roll show. Check out the photo below.

They had a similar stage design with pyro and flames in 2003, which at the time was “anti trends” as most bands from 1994 and onwards operated in shadows.

“Are You Ready?”

The groove of the riff is head banging stuff.

“What’s This Life For”

One of my favourite songs from the debut. It’s a ballad, but those last two minutes of the song, are excellent.

“Faceless Man”

“This next song is very personal to me”, Stapp said as he introduced this.

Its cinematic and this part of their music always get overlooked. This track was hidden behind the hits, “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open” but this track is the piece d’resistance on the album as it moves between rock and ballad and rock and ballad.

And I hated learning it, because I had to change my tuning to an open D5 tuning. But, I believe the open D5 tuning just makes you play with an eastern feel, so make sure you check out the main eastern sounding riff.

This song is Creed folks.

Put it on and crank it.

“With Arms Wide Open”

The anthem, with its “Dust In The Wind” inspired progression. And while it was written for the birth of a child, the song has taken on many different meanings. Tremonti’s finger picking gets a highlight moment, but that defining moment would come with “One Last Breath” a bit later on.

“My Sacrifice”

This song doesn’t get the respect it should. The riffs are stellar and the vocal melody is iconic.

“One”

From the debut album, another song with a killer riff that is fun to jam.

“One Last Breath”

On Songfacts, Tremonti mentioned that “One Last Breath” is one of his favourite riffs. On YouTube it’s got a massive amount of views. On Spotify, it’s at 135.3 million streams, even more than “Higher” which is sitting at 110.1 million streams or “My Sacrifice” at 127.3 million streams.

This song really highlights Tremonti’s clean fingerstyle.

In a Guitar World issue, Tremonti mentioned how he would have devoured all the Classical/Baroque stuff, but subliminally his style developed by devouring the acoustic pieces from metal and rock artists, like “Mechanical Resonance” and the style of Frank Hannon or the fingerstyle stuff from Metallica on their slower tempo songs and instrumentals like “Call Of Ktulu”.

“Higher”

The closer. If you don’t know it, then you haven’t been part of the mainstream.

By the end of it, the band is drenched in sweat, Stapp went shirtless and the thousands of fans in attendance would have gone away happy. It’s not always perfect, but hey, that’s why it’s called the live show. And no live show is the same as the last show. If we wanted perfect, we would listen to the studio albums.

P.S. I forgot that I had this DVD when I did the original Record Vault post on Creed.

Standard
Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Black Label Society – Extra

I used to call this band Black Wylde Society or Boozed Wylde Society or Boned Wylde Society or Brusied Wylde Society.


All because of this cover.

I love Zakk.

He can play, he solos and he writes killer riffs and songs.

He went from a scraggy pretty boy into a fierce Viking like warrior. He never pigeon holed himself, bringing his southern rock influences and piano, playing into the world of metal.

And the form of groove metal he plays with Black Label Society has influenced countless artists.

In this DVD, Robert Trujilo is on bass for the Detroit concert footage and Mike Inez is on bass for the Tokyo concert footage. Nick Catanese is on guitar and Craig Nunenmacher is on drums. Such a great band, it deserved to be captured on film.

The gig was that insane they ran out of alcohol at the bar.

And Zakk promotes it like a bikie gang, calling the Detroit Chapter to go insane and drink the place dry.

Well god damn it, they did.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Number 13 – Metallica Monday

Filmed at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia on March 1, 2013 on the Soundwave Tour (which is basically a travelling festival around Australia during the summer, but it doesn’t exist anymore due to increased demands from artists to be paid upfront as the promoter didn’t always pay, a dwindling turnout and a promoter that uses Twitter like Trump).

The thing with this show is that Metallica are not really touring on an album as “Death Magnetic” is 5 years old by now. So it’s like a best off. And after watching this show, it’s a best off, based on songs which work really well in the live arena.

Hit the Lights

It’s become their standard opener in the YouTube live recordings I’ve seen. It’s simplicity is its energy.

Master of Puppets

There is no denying the power of that intro riff.

And the tempo of the song is increased a few more beats per minute. To put it into context, a 7 plus minute song at its normal tempo is reduced to a 6 plus minute song because of the tempo increase.

And as is the norm, the crowd singalong in the slow harmony lead is Maiden-esque from “Rock In Rio”.

The Four Horsemen

As the feedback from “Master Of Puppets” keeps ringing out on James’s guitar, and after asking “if Melbourne is ready” (we pronounce it Mel-Burn while James pronounces it as its spelt, Mel-Bourne), James launches into the opening riff.

And I forgot to mention how Lars is the master of the facials.

And finally there is a pause after the triple knockout of the first three songs.

Harvester of Sorrow

Lars cops a lot of crap for his drumming, but the dude can play and his drum parts are uniquely his.

This song is heavy, and the drum patterns from Lars definitely add to it. Simplicity at its finest.

And I’ve always said that if this song wasn’t written, then “Enter Sandman” wouldn’t have been written to become the beast it became.

The slower tempo, the open string arpeggio riff which grooves and the intro drumming pattern all combine to become the embryo of what “Enter Sandman” is. Check out the version on YouTube from Moscow on the Black tour.

Then there is a two minute “Guitar Doodle” where Kirk plays a few riffs and a lead guitar spotlight, but to me these kind of things are best left in the warm up room.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

But the “Guitar Doodle” was a side piece, a sleight of hand, while they set up James with the acoustic guitar for “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.

And Lars owns the ending with the harmony guitars as he nails the double bass drumming.

Leper Messiah

There is a section in this song during the intro, when the bass just plays and the guitars play a heavily palm muted E5 power chord, staccato like.

And the title came from the late Mr Cliff Burton (RIP).

To reiterate, I’ve always said to all of the people who dissed the “Black” album for “selling out” to refer to songs like “Leper Messiah”, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Harvester of Sorrow”, “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Trapped Under Ice”. They are all slower tempo songs, like the “Black” album songs.

My Friend of Misery

One of my favourite tracks on the “Black” album. My actual favourite is “Holier Than Thou”.

The bass riff is “iconic” and that slow breakdown section with that emotive lead is my favourite part of the song. It’s the norm now for the crowd to sing the harmony part but Melbourne (pronounced Mel-Burn) was the first to do it.

I gotta admit, this is the shit for an artist.

Hearing the Metallica family sing back their riffs and leads, is moving and emotional. If you don’t feel it, check for a pulse.

Sad But True

Its heavy and you can tell the band enjoys playing it.

Then a little “Bass Doodle” is another sleight of hand as the band gets ready for “Fade To Black”.

Fade to Black

For a song that generated so much controversy in the 80’s during that whole “kid commits suicide so let’s sue the heavy metal artist the kid likes” period, it’s become one of their biggest songs ever.

And that whole outro section is some of my favourite piece of music.

All Nightmare Long

I haven’t heard this song for almost a decade, and man, I’m asking myself “why”. It’s a good song. So many riffs in it and that Chorus is excellent.

Then I played “Death Magnetic” and I remembered why I stopped listening to it.

“The Loudness Wars”.

This is when bands compressed their mixes so much to get maximum volume in the master.

Ouch

One

I don’t think there will be a set list that will not have this song on it.

The clean tone intro with the leads, the “landmine” double kick section and that finger tapped outro along with the harmony guitars.

How can you not like it?

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The intro in this song is head banging stuff. A perfect song for the live arena and they played it a bit quicker.

Blackened

The backing tape of the backwards harmony guitars starts it off and it’s one of my favourite Metallica cuts and man, don’t they bring it.

It’s 7/4 staccato intro riff is thrash metal prog. Even in the Chorus it moves between 4/4 and 2/4. It leaves all other pretenders behind as it begins whipping the dance of the dead.

Then there is another “Guitar Doodle” which then sets up, “Nothing Else Matters”.

Nothing Else Matters

Even though Kirk plays the intro live, this is James’s song. It’s his spotlight moment and he takes the Dave Gilmour like lead with a guitar hero gusto.

And I remember when the “Black” album came out, I was reading some of the comments about this song from artists of the thrash genre and writers for magazines like Metal Mania.

Like it was a sell out or whatever.

Tell that to the 50,000 people in attendance who sang every word of it.

One thing about Metallica is that they never remained fixed.

There was always growth in their music.

If you want an example of a growth mindset in music then this band is it. IF you want an example of a fixed mindset in music then AC/DC is it.

There is no right or wrong. It all works.

Enter Sandman

So James lets his guitar feedback ring out, shows his Australian minted guitar picks to the camera which the audience sees on the big screen and they raise their voices in appreciation and “Enter Sandman” begins.

This song is a live powerhouse.

Creeping Death

The “Die By My Hand” chant evolved in the live arena.

This song was also mentioned in one of those “Satanic Panic” articles and documentaries I read in a newspaper written by clueless journalist or saw on TV like 60 minutes.

I remember a lawyer saying, “what kind of band tells their audience to “die” in a concert”.

It’s unbelievable shit to see and hear how desperate people became to blame someone.

Damage, Inc.

It’s not my favourite song but I love the title for its uniqueness.

Seek & Destroy

And the closer, sending the Metallica family on their way to seek and destroy.

You can take it literally or you can use it as growth, to seek new knowledge, gain new skills and destroy your old self as you create a new self, stronger and better.

Metallica, once again is doing something different and not fixed during this COVID break.

Breaking out the archives for free.

Most artists would release these as DVD releases. For a fee. But not Metallica. There is a reason why they are on top.

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

Release Day Friday

A few surprises in the Release Day playlist from Spotify.

The 2020 Remix of “Still Of The Night” kicks it all off. And for those who don’t know who Chis Collier is, he is the one, doing the mixing. Recently he’s worked a lot of with George Lynch on his KXM, Ultraphonix, Lynch Mob and Sweet Lynch projects. And he’s been in the biz for a long time, especially as a mixer.

Even though I have overdosed on “Still Of The Night”, I can’t skip it. My fingers don’t allow me to. And the solo from Sykes has an effect added which wasn’t needed.

“Step Into The Light” from Dokken is next. I didn’t even know that Dokken had any new music in the works. Or what version of Dokken it is. So I had to Google for more information. And it’s not really new music at all, but old music that’s never been heard and before the band Dokken got a record deal. I actually have an EP of this version of the band called “Back In The Streets”.

Anyway, these songs that Don Dokken wrote in the early days will be released on an album called “The Lost Songs : 1978-1981”. And the song is forgettable but if you are fan and you want a prequel of what Don Dokken was like before Dokken, then it will be a good start. I already have the Lynch early days on a CD. The songs that Lynch and Brown wrote in The Boyz are the songs that Don Dokken used to get himself signed, which started the resentment between Lynch and himself.

There are live songs from Def Leppard, Rush, Black Crowes and Pretty Maids with “We Belong”, “A Passage To Bangkok”, “Sister Luck” and “Long Way To Go”.

Then there are some Warner Music Archives releases, so I got White Lion, Winger and Saigon Kick show up in the list, with “Wait – Extended Remix”, “All I Ever Wanted” and “Dear Prudence”. The White Lion track is over 6 minutes long and Reb Beach with Winger is always enjoyable to listen to, like the section before the solo and then his guitar solo.

And one of my favourite guitarists these last five years is Andy James, and his latest track “Dual” is on the playlist. He can play, he can shred and the difference between him and other guitarists/shredders is the song. Andy James writes songs with killer riffs, and then the solos he plays are melodic, even sing-a-like in the verse/chorus structure of instrumental music. And when it’s time to shred in the solo section, he delivers.

Blacktop Mojo have been pretty consistent with their songs, but “Leave It Alone” didn’t resonate today.

Vandenberg drops “Let It Rain” as the album also drops today, so this will take up my listening today, as I’ve enjoyed all the pre-release songs so far.

Trapt dropped another song, a ballad called “Far Enough Away”.

Aldo Nova dropped a groovy and bluesy tune which I like called “When All Is Said And Done”.

The Gathering Of Kings had another song called “Revelation” appear in the playlist, and I saw that their new album had dropped as well. So this would take some of my time to sink my teeth into.

The piece d’resistance is “Death Diviner” from Soilwork, because on this song Bjorn Strid brings his clean tone hard rock voice that he uses for The Night Flight Orchestra to the metal music of Soilwork. Previous albums and songs had him moving between death and melodic vocals, but on this song, he’s all melodic.

Standard
Music

Metallica: Live in Nickelsdorf, Austria, – June 10, 2012

Here is the YouTube link.

I was doing some boring things, which involved data entry of receipts for tax returns and I needed some music. So I went to YouTube and I came across a few of the recent live concerts Metallica have released while we have been in isolation.

This one came out a week ago and they play the full “Black” Album (for the 20th Anniversary tour), but a year later, which Lars makes mention in his introduction.

Some of the songs are pedal to the metal aggression and energy, some songs have tempo changes in between courtesy of Lars, some songs like “Hell And Back” from the “Beyond Magnetic” EP sound great, and James getting the crowd to sing harmonies during the “My Friend Of Misery” solo is brilliant.

Hearing the whole “Black” album played from last song to first is brilliant, and I forgot how powerful some songs are, like “Holier Than Thou”. For that song, the guys brought it. Damn did they bring it.

Let’s unpack the set list.

“Hit the Lights” sounded fresh even though at this point in time in 2012 it’s 30 years old. “Master of Puppets” never gets old and neither does “The Four Horsemen”.

Now “For Whom The Bell Tolls” should be a powerful statement, but it was patchy with the tempo swinging around a few times, and Kirk doing ad-libs in that awesome intro solo.

“Hell and Back” was a surprise at how good it sounded live. Then they started with the “Black” album and “The Struggle Within” showed why they never really played it live as it was a struggle.

“My Friend of Misery” was great with James getting the crowd to sing harmonies. “The God That Failed” is also one of my favourite cuts because of the groove and it didn’t disappoint. The intro to “Of Wolf & Man” is perfect for the live arena.

“Nothing Else Matters” is a staple but not their best performance of it on this gig.

The next three cuts all rocked, “Through the Never”, “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Wherever I May Roam”.

“The Unforgiven” has one of Kirk’s best solos. “Holier Than Thou” had so much energy and “Sad But True” is so heavy and a great live song.

“Enter Sandman” was played with the tempo a bit quicker and man, it worked so good. I was tapping my foot and nodding my head the whole time.

Now if you want to hear how Death Metal came to be a thing, check out “Fight Fire With Fire”. While the recorded version still had a young James singing, the voice that James brings out live is guttural.

“One” is a great live song, especially when that double kick section begins and it’s all just a little bit faster.

And “Seek & Destroy” closes it out, so all the fans can cruise the city looking for a fight.

And the thing is, Metallica travels with a professional camera crew and the footage they film is quality. While bands release these kind of concerts on DVD, Metallica bootleg their own concerts and release selections on YouTube or if you subscribe to their “own” streaming service you get all of these concerts, and albums and demos and what not.

So there is a reason why Metallica is staying on top. They are innovating on their own.

How many other big artists have their own streaming service?

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Maiden Live

On Friday, 6 May, 2016, I took my wife and three boys aged 10,9 and 4 to watch Iron Maiden on “The Book Of Souls World Tour” at the Qudos Bank Arena, formerly known as the Allphones Arena, formerly known as the Acer Arena in Homebush, Sydney.

The last time I saw Maiden was on the “Somewhere Back In Time Tour”. I went to both shows then, on February 9 and 10, 2008. The venue was then known as the Acer Arena and there wasn’t a spare spot on the floor or in the stands. But this time I saw red seats and spaces on the floor. Is it a sign of fading popularity?

I don’t think so, because prior to the show, Maiden got a “Gold” Certification for recorded music sales in Australia for “The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015.

As in 2008, the lights went out as soon as “Doctor Doctor” started playing from UFO on the backing intro music. And then it started with the little movie of the Maiden plane stuck in vines in a jungle.

“If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light” was the 1-2 punch from the “The Book of Souls” album to kick off the album.

When you have a legacy like Maiden’s, it’s a double-edged sword to spend the first 15 minutes of the concert playing tracks from the new album. There was some debate afterwards if this was a good thing or a bad thing especially when the audience was made up of people like me, dads and mums bringing their children to watch Maiden for the first time and children who were raised on the classic Maiden songs.

Anyway, the Dickinson penned “If Eternity Should Fail” is a great opener, and when the band kicks in with the intro lead is game on.

Waiting in line for the ending of time
If eternity should fail

It’s got a great sing a long chorus and that’s why it works live. By the time the “Ace Of Spades” influenced interlude kicks in, the floor is swaying with bodies. This song worked well live.

But the Smith/Dickinson composition, “Speed Of Light”, like “From Here To Eternity” and “Holy Smoke” before it, just don’t work as live songs. Boring and pedestrian.

“Children of the Damned”
Maiden takes us back to 1982 and we are all “Children of The Damned” again.

It’s the first of three songs from “The Number of the Beast” album and the first time, I am hearing this song live, as it wasn’t played on the 2008 “Somewhere Back In Time” tour. “Live After Death” was my first exposure to Maiden, and this song proved to be a favourite.

You’re Children of The Damned
Your back’s against the wall

Steve Harris wrote it about a book/movie, but those two lines above speak to me.

Because back in the Eighties, metal heads and rock heads got discriminated against. Since everyone that listened to metal and hard rock got classed as “devil worshippers” you can say that we were all damned and our backs were against the wall, trying to prove to others that we matter and have something better to offer this world.

Great live track and the quicker live tempo suited the song.

“Tears of a Clown” and “The Red And The Black” came next.

So Maiden went back to the new album. While I understand the importance of the song to Maiden and how it’s about comedian Robin Williams, “Tears of A Clown” just didn’t work as a live song. It’s best kept as a studio track.

Which brings me to the Steve Harris penned “The Red and the Black”. When I first heard this song on the album, I loved certain sections of it and after a few listens could honestly say it could do with some edits. Hearing the song, live, I can honestly say they should have been creative and exercised some control and edited the song down to 6 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

There is a harmony lead section of the song towards the end of the song that is excellent, however I think Maiden missed big time with these songs. Even the chants felt forced. “Fear Of The Dark” has the chants because the people/fans decided to chant along with the leads, not because Maiden wrote a song that has chants in it.

By now my four-year old fell asleep, which was a shame as his favourite song is “The Trooper” and that came up next. Actually I was surprised he fell asleep with the loud volumes.

“The Trooper”
So Maiden take us back to 1983 and the “Piece of Mind” album and play a speed metal version of the song. It was funny because in the car on the way up to the show my kids were singing the song super fast as well .

Actually, the song was that fast, that even Bruce couldn’t get all the words out in time.

Did it matter?

Not at all. My ten-year old and nine-year old lapped it up.

You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too
You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through
So when you’re waiting for the next attack
You’d better stand there’s no turning back.

The stop of the music and the start of the vocal line is done brilliantly. It will remain a classic forever because of it.

“Powerslave”
The Dickinson penned title track from their 1984 album was up next and it’s one of my favourites.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.

Has our world progressed since the time of the Pharaohs?

Instead of whips and chains to work, we have wages and loans to keep us as slaves.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death.

Then we are back to two more songs from “The Book Of Souls”. This time “Death or Glory” is up and to be honest it is another miss. But, “The Book of Souls” written by Gers and Harris deserves to be in the Maiden set forever and a day. It’s epic and grandiose and on par with “Powerslave”.

By know the clichéd stage antics of Janick Gers was bordering on “Dark Helmet” ludicrous proportions. Foot on the monitors like he’s doing ballet, swinging the guitar around his neck like anyone in 2016 cares about it, the Richie Blackmore splits and grabbing the guitar so the pick-up side faces the floor proved to be silly and funny at the same time.

But there was no escaping the power of  “Book Of Souls”.

A life that’s full of all the wealth and riches
Can never last an eternity

Sort of sounds like our current world. According to certain media reports we are living in a gold age of prosperity. I am sure that people in third world countries would disagree, but as the lyric states, what we have currently cannot last forever. But what is guaranteed is that the people in power and wealth would pay tooth and nail to ensure it does last forever.

The set is rounded off by “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from “The Number of the Beast”, “Fear of the Dark” from the album of the same name released in 1982 and “Iron Maiden” from the debut Maiden album released in 1980.

Now, “Hallowed Be They Name” to me, is a classic and man, the audience resonated with it.

Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time

When the end is near, all you can do is go back through your memories one last time because once it ends, those memories will be forever lost. It’s pretty sad when you think of the knowledge we could have if memories in our brains can somehow be preserved.

When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me

In order to write “The Trooper”, Maiden had to write “Hallowed Be Thy Name” because both songs have very similar elements, especially the stop start sections of the verses, where the music stops and the vocals start.

The Harris penned “Fear Of The Dark” has achieved a new sense of immortality courtesy of the “Rock In Rio” performance on the “Brave New World” tour. Every section in the song is more or less a sing/chant along.

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something’s always near

I always saw “Fear Of The Dark” as an analogy for fear of the future, the unknown and how the world is always throwing good and bad times into our lives. And to be quite honest it’s pretty scary sometimes.

But “Iron Maiden” to me is a big letdown. I understand its historical importance but in the end it’s a really average song.

The encore kicked off with “The Number of the Beast”, then “Blood Brothers” from the “Brave New World” album released in 2000 and the set finished off with “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere in Time” album released in 1986.

I’m coming back I will return
And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn

Metal music was known as “The Beast” in the 80’s, because it possessed our bodies and minds. And when the establishments thought it was dead and buried, a bigger beast in Grunge, Industrial, Metalcore, NuMetal, Death Metal, Black Metal all came forth, until Metal music returned once again.

Bruce made special mention that the audience and Iron Maiden are “Blood Brothers” and how in the audience he is seeing parents with children and so forth. At this time I got a lot of high fives from people around me, that I had the balls to bring my children to the show. So without any surprises, the Steve Harris penned “Blood Brothers” was up.

Maybe all the things that you know that are precious to you
Could be swept away by fate’s own hand

Live each day to the best that it can be lived, because the world doesn’t care about the houses, cars, iPads and record collections when it comes calling for you.

Finally the big one and the favourite of my eldest son, the Adrian Smith penned “Wasted Years”. I always associated this song as another “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. And it’s also a love song.

The guitar intro is legendary and Adrian Smith as a songwriter has contributed to a lot of “classics” from the Maiden 80’s era. I would call him the unsung hero of Iron Maiden.

I close my eyes, and think of home
Another city goes by in the night
Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it ’til it’s gone away
And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day

So Maiden came to Australia. For some reason I feel that it was for the last time. I hope not.

My eldest son, he loved the show and enjoyed it along with me. My middle son, got super tired half way and just kept on yawning. My youngest son fell asleep at the concert by “Tears Of A Clown”. My wife held him the whole time.

What kind of father buys concert tickets for a Friday night show, which is the end of a school week and the start of a sport filled week playing football. We got home at 1am and by 7am we all got up for the morning Saturday games.

Metal all the way.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Machine Head Experience

By 9.24pm, on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 at the Metro Theatre, I had consumed my sixth beer in one hour waiting for Machine Head to hit the stage. A pretty awesome metal playlist was doing the rounds that had songs like “Sad But True” from Metallica and “In Due Time” from Killswitch Engage.

Then “Diary Of A Madman” started playing. It was ominous. The volume was initially low and the house lights were still on. Then the outro of “Diary” kicked in with the choir voices and the volume got cranked and the lights went out.

The chant went up, “Machine Fucking Head, Oh” (a point that Robb Flynn made later on in the show, that Australia is the only country to say Machine Fucking Head OH..) and the clean guitars started for “Imperium”. Everyone in the sold out venue knew that all hell was going to break loose. I was standing close to the mixer and I had a great view to the stage and to the circle pit. It was pandemonium.

Machine Head’s career was re-built upon “Imperium” and the 2003 album “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that it came from. The song is even more special based on Robb’s journals that covered the hardships in getting the album recorded.

“Through The Ashes of Empires” was released in December 2003 in Europe only. It took months to gain some traction and be discovered. In April, 2004, it got a U.S release and a subsequent world-wide release. Suddenly everybody knew it and everybody wanted to go see Machine Fucking Head live.

The knockouts kept on coming with “Beautiful Mourning” from “The Blackening” and “Now We Die” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds”.

“The Blackening” was another game changer for Machine Head. Released in 2007, it put them on the road for three years and in the process it cemented Machine Head’s reputation as a solid unit. That trend continued with “Unto The Locust” and “Bloodstone And Diamonds”.

I still think “Now We Die” should have been called “Now We Rise”. It would have been perfect in my eyes.

“Bite The Bullet” came next and then “Locust” sent everyone into a frenzy. It’s no coincidence that the first five songs all came from their last four albums.

I saw a person on crutches enter the circle pit and I said to myself that is not going to end well. Later on, I saw that dude on someone’s shoulders. He was okay, the Head Cases took care of him.

“From This Day” from 1999’s “The Burning Red”, “Ten Ton Hammer” from 1997’s “The More Things Change” and “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” from “The Blackening” kept the knockout punches coming.

How good is that “fight” part in “Clenching”?

“Beneath The Silt” from “Bloodstone and Diamonds” was slow and groovy and “Crashing Around You” from 2001’s “Supercharger” album picked it all back up.

When I first heard “Crashing Around You”, I said to myself what an awesome rock song. It was better than anything that was mainstream back then. However, Roadrunner didn’t know what to do with the song, or how to market Machine Head and because of record label stupidity the song didn’t cross over. It’s one of my favourite cuts on “Supercharger”.

“The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears” from “The Burning Red” came next.

But it’s all about “Darkness Within” from “Unto The Locust”.

What a song, what a groove, what a melody and what a guitar solo by Phil. Along with “Bulldozer” from “Supercharger” and “Killers and Kings” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds” those three songs proved another killer trilogy in the set.

How good are the lyrics in “Bulldozer”? Another unheralded cut from “Supercharger”,

Somebody told me, I should do what they told me
But there’s a hole in their plan, and I’m tearing it down

You can almost picture the scene. Record label A&R douche telling Robb to wear an orange jumpsuit. Robb agrees for the greater good but…..

Trust our guts, follow our hearts, no one can break these nuts
These lips ain’t kissin’ asre
The path of most resistance tests all of our strength
The strength will not be denied

It’s like Robb foresaw the crap that would come their way post “Supercharger” and the mission involved to get “Through The Ashes Of Empires” recorded and then released.

Bulldozer goes against the odds
Bulldozer goes against the grain

You can interchange “Bulldozer” with “Machine Head” as both have three syllables. Machine Head goes against the odds. Machine Head goes against the grain. And thank god they did. It’s like their story before it even happened, getting dropped, then rejected. What makes the track rock is the groove.

“Sail In The Black” was excellent (although in some sections the backing synths overpowered the intro vocals) and “Davidian” from the 1994 debut “Burn My Eyes” followed.

You would think it would be over, but, NO it wasn’t.

“Now I Lay Thee Down” from “The Blackening”, “Aesthetics Of Hate” from “The Blackening” again, “Game Over” from “Bloodstone And Diamonds”, “Old” from “Burn My Eyes” and “Halo” from “The Blackening” again rounded out the night.

I didn’t see a phone or a camera recording the show. Everyone was there to experience it.

If they played “A Farewell To Arms” from “The Blackening” I would have completely lost it.

From the set list, you can see how important “The Blackening” is to Machine Head and to the Head Cases.

Yeah, Machine Head did have a catalogue before and after “The Blackening”, however their entire career will be attributed to this one album, showing the power of excellence.

A defining album, and in time it will be held in the same light as Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets” or Pantera’s “A Vulgar Display Of Power”.
By the end of the night, I had consumed 13 beers and still had room for many more.

To Machine Head, thanks for another great night in Sydney.

The future looks good, as the band is constantly replenishing their audience base. The crowd was a mixture of teens, twenty something’s, thirty something’s and forty plus. It was also a mixture of dudes and chicks. Like the song “Truckin” from The Grateful Dead, Machine Head just keep on truckin’ along and winning new fans along the way.

Two days later my ears are still ringing and I am still talking about the experience. That is what live music is all about. The experience

Standard
Music

Black – Some Songs Just Cannot Be Covered

I had a pretty crazy 36 hours that involved a three-hour drive (with toilet stops and breakfast stops) to Canberra, the Australian National Museum, some shopping, dinner and then the next morning, we took in Questacon, some more shopping and another three-hour drive home (this time I made sure that I laid down the law on the toilet breaks).

I have three boys, aged 8, 7 and 2. I love em to death, but they drive me mad. Especially on holidays. For example, today, we had breakfast at the hotel. My eldest and me were the last ones to leave and from the looks of it, he looked pretty full. So we go back to the room and we start packing. I open the fridge to grab the few items we had in there and he asks me, “Can I have a coke?”

I am thinking to myself “WTF”. Didn’t he just tell me, two minutes ago that he is so full he cannot breathe. Now he wants to drink a bottle of coke and it’s not even 10am. I turn to look at him, with an upset angry face and reply a stern, “NO”. I hate doing that, however I am seeing that the kids have no self-control when it comes to soft drink.

Quick getaway’s are stressful. I don’t even call them getaways. I call them stressaways. Sometimes going back to work is more of a holiday than the actual holiday. Especially when kids are involved, however I wouldn’t even dream of going somewhere without them. The room we stayed in at the Grand Mercure had two levels. I don’t know what the hell my wife and I were thinking when we booked the room. For the short time that we actually stayed in the room, all we did was walk the 2 year old up and down the freaking stairs. Then towards the end of the stay, he started screaming the room down to go solo on the stairs. Fun and games. Fun and games.

So in all of the craziness of today, I had a small window, a small opportunity, a small chance to read some emails and one of them was an email from YouTube, telling me that the song “Black” is up for viewing from the Smith and Myers acoustic project.

For those that don’t know, Brent Smith and Zach Myers are from Shinedown. In order to pass time between albums, the band asked fans to vote and recommend songs that they would like to see the guys cover. The final agreed list was finalised and in April 2013, Smith and Myers went in and recorded the final ten songs acoustically.

We are finally seeing the songs starting to filter through on YouTube. What a 9 month build up to the release? Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Pearl Jam and Adele didn’t approve the YouTube releases because that meant that Smith and Myers are effectively giving the performances away. For the original artist (or whoever owns the rights at this point in time), this means no income.

So the original 10 song release is down to six for the time being. “Acoustic Sessions” will be released digitally on Jan. 28, and the list of songs are as follows;

“London Calling” by the Clash
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallic
“She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes
“Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
“Blue On Black” by Kenny Wayne Shephard

The other 4 songs that will be released at another time are;
“Black” by Pearl Jam
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bob Jovi
“In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
“Someone Like You” by Adele

So I was very surprised to see the email that “Black” from Pearl Jam was up. Thinking that it was a mistake and that the song would get taken down, I suddenly made sure I found some time on my holiday to check it out.

First, let me tell you a story about Pearl Jam and “Black”. I really didn’t like “Even Flow” or “Alive” when they hit the air waves back in 1991. They just didn’t connect with me at that point in time. In addition, I was really anti-grunge because all of the rock bands that I was into started to disappear. So I was staying loyal to my team. The hard rock team.

Then in 1993, I saw an live performance of the band doing “Jeremy” going into “Rockin In The Free World” with Neil Young at the MTV Awards and I was suddenly interested. Loyalty to hard/glam rock was still strong, however in the end I am a fan of music and if there is great music to hear from other genre’s I will dig deep and hear it. So I asked a previous hard rock friend of mine who switched to the grunge side to copy the album onto a cassette for me.

Oh, the shame of admitting defeat. My mate made sure that he dug in the hooks, while twisting the knife. On my way home, I pressed play on the Sony Walkman and there it was, hidden away at track 5. “Black” had entered my life. “Her legs spread out before me”. What a hard rock lyric, however it doesn’t sound cliche or derivative of the hard rock genre. It is original and fresh.

By the time “Black” finished, I wanted to hear the whole song again, just to hear that unbelievable outro this time around. And when it finished for the second time, I rewinded the tape again and heard it again. I did that non stop for about two weeks, until the tape got tangled up (or chewed up – the people that had tapes would totally understand what I mean by this) and then I was off to the record shop to purchase the CD. I paid $27, just to hear the song “Black” over and over again, almost 2 years after it was released.

“Black” was the car that put me on the road to Seattle.

So now I am listening to the Brent Smith and Zach Myers cover of that song. It takes a lot of guts taking on a song that was a hit, however it was never released as an official single. The fans made this song go viral back in the early nineties, by spamming radio stations to play it and since the Billboard charts have some funny connection with radio plays, the song hit number 3 on the Billboard Rock Charts, beating out songs that had actual single sales on the board.

So Smith and Myers have shown a lot of guts taking on a song that has over 50 million YouTube views from all the various channels that host it. One channel from Nothingman54 has the song at 33,717,347 views.

Aaron Lewis from Staind has also taken the song on. He slowed it down a little bit and his version would have been a definite keeper if the ad lib Eddie Vedder outro was nailed. Again it was a good version, but the pure raw emotion that the original version invokes is not achieved.

For Brent Smith to cover the song and to do it justice he needed to have lived the song before covering it. I always say that some songs cannot be covered. And I have always said that Pearl Jam’s “Black” is such a song.

While the Smith and Myers version is good, it leaves me feeling a bit empty. Maybe I expected a lot more. Maybe they should have included a piano into their acoustic version, as the piano is an integral part of the song. Maybe Brent should have strummed some chords while Myers took the song on in the outro with the piano that wasn’t there.

I really really like Shinedown, so to be critical of Brent Smith (who to me is Shinedown) is painful. I actually went back to hear the original Pearl Jam version after this. Spotify has the “Ten Redux” album up and I was transported back to the same day in 1993, pressing repeat over and over again to hear the song. Then I went to the 2004 remixed version that appeared on “rearview mirror” and set it to repeat.

So even though the Smith and Myers version didn’t connect with me, they did make me go back and listen to the original version, over and over and over again. And that is the power of music. Du Du Duu D Du Du Duu

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

What Can Lorde and Spotify Teach The Metal World? Plus The Ones That Control The Talent Will Win In The Long Run

Record labels were dependent upon record sales and when the profit margins from recorded sales shifted from high margin returns to low margin returns, they screamed piracy. To them the only way they could remain in business was to have laws passed that protected their gatekeeper based business models.

However technology and innovation is always moving forward, so while the record labels are lobbying hard for new laws, at the same time they were being pulled into the future, kicking and screaming all the way.

Spotify to me is just a legal version of Napster, that has arrived in most markets. However before Spotify was even allowed to operate in certain markets, they needed to make licensing deals with the relevant record labels and publishing groups.

Spotify came into the market with the idea that they need to compete with free. And compete they did. The service even started to break artists to the masses, something that the record labels are clueless to do in current times.

Look at Lorde.
Her song “Royals” was added to Spotify on March 19th. It did nothing.

On April 2nd the song was added to the popular Hipster International Playlist by Napster founder Sean Parker. Isn’t it amazing what a little help can do and this was achieved without any dollars going into marketing. This was purely a stakeholder of Spotify, liking a song and sharing that song with the masses.

What’s that word again? Sharing.

On April 8th “Royals” appeared on the Spotify Viral Chart. What does this mean? It means that people have started to share it.

In relation to metal, I have posted previously how Dream Theater is doing it all wrong with their album release, putting money into marketing and believing that the old school scorched earth policy would bring results. It doesn’t. Sharing is what brings results. Fans sharing your music. Hey didn’t Napster do just this. Didn’t Napster allow fans to share music.

On June 10th “Royals” started to appear on radio. Remember when radio was cutting edge and used to be hip. This is proof that radio is a format that is dead and buried. This is proof that radio is always late to the party. This is proof that radio is clueless. This is proof that radio only plays what the record labels pay them to play.

So if you are an artist and your idea is to get your song onto radio, forget it. It is pointless. It does nothing for your career today.

Go on Dream Theater’s Facebook page and they are telling fans to contact their radio stations, so that “The Enemy Within” can be added to the playlist.

To use a quote from Flying High;
“Surely you can’t be serious.”
“I am and don’t call me Shirley.”

On July 9th “Royals” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 – three months after debuting on the Spotify Viral Chart.
See how important sales are. By July 9th, Lorde was already a super mega star. It didn’t matter if she finally made enough physical sales to enter the Billboard Hot 100. She was already a success.

This is another lesson that the metal and rock world fail to learn. They still focus on the sales in the first week and the chart position. This is so old school and not a great measuring tool of reach or success, especially for new acts starting out.

But the metal world is still clueless. This is what we get from the bands, their PR companies and the various news outlets that report on metal and rock. Here are a few examples.

Loudwire: Dream Theater’s new DVD ‘Live At Luna Park’ recently entered at No 1 on the Soundscan music DVD chart.

Loudwire: Volume 2 of Five Finger Death Punch’s ‘Wrong Side Of Heaven; lands at No. 2 on Billboard 200.

Blabbermouth: “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones” sold 42,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 7 on The Billboard 200 chart.

See what I mean. They are still reporting on the old system. What those websites are saying is that the first week of sales is a measure of success, which I totally disagree with. If that was the case, then the first Five Finger Death Punch album was a dud, after first week sales.

August 6 – Lorde plays her first US gig in NYC.

Slow and steady wins the race. You play where there is demand. Humanity wins out in the end. Those that can play, perform live and write their own songs will win. It’s a return to the song writer. Expect a back lash against the over processed songs written by a committee.

Forget about acts that focus on big screens and pyro technics. The people are looking for human performances. It is an escape from our increasingly digital world.

“Royals” is the most shared track in the US by a new artist this year. This is what matters. The track is SHARED. It means the fans are spreading the word, getting more people to invest time and money into you.

Spotify has finally released some information as to how they pay and it sure makes an interesting read. I have posted previously about the greed of the record labels and how that greed will ultimately kill the streaming star.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Spotify pays 70% of their revenues to rights holders. The rights holders in 90% of the cases are the record labels and publishers. The same people who lobbied hard to extend copyright terms and are lobbying hard again for longer copyright terms.

So in 2013 so far, Spotify has paid out $500 million dollars to rights holders in royalties. That’s right $500 million. When Spotify pays royalties to a rights holder they provide all the information needed to attribute royalties to each of their artists. Check out the post, it sure makes interesting reading.

http://www.spotifyartists.com/spotify-explained/

So it got me thinking about business models. It looks like to me that the new record label business model of today is to ensure that they have the talent. The one with the most talent wins.

The Record Labels are the only ones putting money out there and the rule of thumb is that if you want to dominate in the music business in the future, you have got to spend. So if record labels are spending, the talent ends up on a label.

That talent brings to the record label the following;

Any songs that BAND A writes will end up with the record label for the life of the artist plus 70 years after their death (the U.K has 90 years). So if the artist is say 30 years of age when they write HIT A, then the copyright of that song will be owned by the record label for 120 years (assuming the artist lives to 80 years of age). Talk about securing their future. Now multiply BAND A or ARTIST A by all the millions of artists who are getting into deals where they sign away their copyrights.

SECURE the most talent and be a winner in the long run.

Has anyone noticed the large push from Frontiers Records in signing up talent past and present? Has anyone noticed how they are getting the Eighties legends to re-record their classics by creating modern forgeries and in the process handing over the copyrights to Frontiers? Has anyone noticed how they are getting all of these artists together for special one-off projects like Michael Sweet from Stryper and George Lynch?

Since managers and other entities are afraid to spend on artist, the ones that do so will win. If a label is not spending money, then they are not in the game. If they are not in the game, then they do not control any talent.

Standard