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

March 2020 – Part 3

Here is the final post of March 2020 releases that have interested me in some way. Here is the playlist.

Higher Ground – Reach
It was their song “Live Or Die” from a few years ago which got me interested in the band as it was a cross between all the good things I like from Muse and melodic rock.

“Higher Ground” has more of that pop vibe, a fusion of jazz/reggae in the verses and Swedish rock choruses inspired by classical music.

The First Time – Khymera
The intro just hooks me in. I’ve heard similar songs with these kind of melodic intros and still to this day I stay riveted and interested.

“You’ve got me running for the first time” is the hook and in the second verse, “the price of love is misery”.

What The Dead Men Say – Trivium
I’m really digging the first two single drops from Trivium.

“What the dead men say is just between us” is the hook here, and the music just goes for the throat at full throttle with some wicked shredding along the way.

Shadows of The Night – Vandenberg
Adrian Vandenberg knows how to write some killer songs and the dude can play, referencing some classic heavy metal riffs on this one. Plus he’s finally allowed to use his surname again, so gone is the Moonkings and its just Vandenberg again.

Verdict: I like.

Wings Of the Storm – Axel Rudi Pell
Here is another dude who can play.

The world we are in gets weirder every day

Damn right it does. Who would have thought that we would be in lock down. So many businesses that I thought were resilient are closing doors. Looks like nothing is left in reserves for a rainy day.

And we are working from home, the kids are doing school from home and we leave the house for essentials only.

Fly eagle fly
Far away on the wings of the storm

It’s easier said and done these days.

Shadowman – One Desire

This is a good song, the full 6 minutes of it.

One Desire came into my radar a few years ago and I saved a few songs and now they have a new album about to drop and I’m digging what I am hearing so far.

“A shadow in the window hiding”

It’s descriptive but hey who hasn’t seen a shadow when we’ve walked past a window which reflects back to us our surroundings.

Broken – FM
FM came into my life because of Phil Soussan. Soussan was in band called Wildlife with Steve Overland and Chris Overland who would go and form FM a few years later.

Soussan wrote “Shot In The Dark” with the Overland brothers who wrote the original lyrics and they demoed a version of the song. And Ozzy was gifted a hit that he somehow magically co-wrote and no credit was given to the Overland brothers.

And This is one good song.

Let’s not pretend there’s nothing to mend

Been reading how relationships are turning sour due to the COVID-19 lockdown. I guess people didn’t really want to be with each other

Devil You Know – Electric Mob
The bluesy groove is old and it’s been used by thousands of other songs. Electric Mob amp it up, modern it up and they get my attention with it.

I’m interested. What comes next.

Outlaws and Outsiders – Cory Marks
There are a few guest musicians here. Travis Tritt, Ivan Moody and Mick Mars all appear.

The riffs between “Devil You Know” mentioned above and this one are very similar, with a Nickelback/Shinedown style chorus.

I’m interested. What comes next.

Actually, I just listened to “Hangman Jury” from Aerosmith and the riffs are similar.

In The Blood – Dizzy Miss Lizzy
I’m really digging the groove on this song.

There is this bridge like section from about 2.54 to 3.07 which they bring back as a solo from about 3.40 to 4.05 which really gets the foot tapping and the head moving. And to top it off, they finish the song with it.

And I always like a song which makes me want to pick up the guitar to learn it and this song ticks all the boxes.

IWSYA – Voices
Footsteps – Voices
Unknown – Voices

Heavy Metal Overlord did a review of this album and it got me interested to check these guys out. Thank you HMO.

The acoustic riff in “IWSYA” is melancholic and the melodic vocals add to it. From about 2.55 it gets these scattered reverbed black metal like screams, but the song sounds like a progressive song that bands like Haken and Tesseract are known for.

“Footsteps” is the closer and a two note arpeggio riff rings throughout in the intro as the drums play a math metal like tom roll.

It kicks in after that and the song rolls forward with an unbelievable three note violin lead riff which starts to become prominent from the middle of the song and it keeps on repeating to the end.

“Unknown” has an intro which gets me interested.

I think it’s the bass that does it for me on this song. It drives the groove, while the drummer and the guitarist decorate, if that makes sense.

Mother (Album) – In This Moment
I am a fan of the “The Dream” and “A Star Crossed Wasteland” albums and that style of hard rock with melodic vocals. But those musicians on those recordings have moved on except for Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth and the new band kept morphing their sound, into the atmospheric, tribal beat driven style they have now. And I wasn’t expecting much from this album, but I was blown away.

“Fly Like An Eagle” is a Steve Miller cover and its done in a way which is unique to “In This Moment”. The drums establish the tribal war cry and the song keeps building. “Legacy” has a vocal melody that could have come from either “The Dream” or “A Star Crossed Wasteland”. And the way the song rolls, with its Def Leppard/Journey style of guitar decorating works for me.

“We Will Rock You” is another cover, and again done in a way which is unique to In This Moment with guest vocals from Taylor Momsen and Lzzy Hale. “Mother” is powerful, as soon as the anguished “Mother” chant starts. “Holy Man” has this section which reminds me of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and I like it.

“Lay Me Down” sounds like it came from “The Hu” with an infectious chorus and a “Lay Me Down” gospel chant which I like. “Into Dust” is the third cover on the from alternative rock act Mazzy Star and like all of the covers on the album, it is done in a way which captures the tribal roots style drumming and atmospheric build of what In This Moment is like now.

When “In This Moment” signed with Atlantic, I thought their career would be over because labels are always willing to play the short-term game. Labels are willing to cut more corners, to make money now than in the future. But it looks like “In This Moment” is given freedom to do what they want, to build their career even further. There’s plenty of room to win if someone takes a longer view than the others.

And that’s a wrap for March.

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

March 2020 – Part 2

And now for the releases that came into my life in March. By the way here is the overall playlist.

Future World (Live) – Pretty Maids
Pretty Maids have been making music for 35 plus years. Although they might not have the same superstar status as other acts from the 80’s, 35 plus years In the business is no small feat. The fire still burns to create and release new music and recently they have been mining their vaults for live recordings.

And “Future World” was written back in the late 80’s about listening to the fools who brought the human race to fall.

And in the era of COVID-19, we will come out of this much different to what we were before we went in. A new generation will be created and a new wonderland will come. A future world.

Signs (Live At Abbey Road Studios) – Tesla
Tied To The Tracks (Live At Abbey Road Studios) – Tesla

Do we need another Tesla acoustic album?

For me, anything from Tesla gets my attention.

If it’s good, it will get my attention for a lot longer.

“Signs” was a hit for the band, and “Tied To The Tracks” is a brilliant cut to bring out in an acoustic format and to show your audience that you are still writing great songs. In case you weren’t aware, this track is on their “Shock” album.

Signs and rules do restrict our freedoms. While it may not seem like a big thing these days, once upon a time, long haired people couldn’t apply for a job and not everyone could enter restaurants/eateries in the same way we can today.

The original song was written in the late 60’s and it was released as a B side by the group “Five Man Electrical Band”, but became bigger than all of their songs.

Fake News – Shakra
Thousand Kings – Shakra
Turn The Light On – Shakra
New Tomorrow – Shakra

These songs are from Shakra’s new album “Mad World”. 25 plus years in the business for these Swiss veterans.

“Fake News” has a riff which brings back the swagger of “Appetite For Destruction”. It’s funny how as a term used by legitimate news sources to describe the fake news of news outlets pushing the political agenda of their owner has been turned around to be used by people and organisations to describe every news source which is critical of them.

“Turn The Light On” has this Scorpions “Rock You Like A Hurricane” vibe.

All Eyes On You – Smash Into Pieces
This could have appeared on the new Ozzy album. It’s a pop rock / pop metal gem with lyrics about a mercenary.

Killer for hire, soldier of fortune
Gotta walk thru fire for what’s important

Again – Earshot
This is from 2004 and Earshot has come back into my life again this month. This band merged the grooves of Chevelle and Tool and the melodies of Staind into awesome modern rock songs ranging between 3 to 5 minutes in length.

As I ponder my
Thoughts and fears in life
I stand tempted to throw it all away

2004 seems so distant in 2020 and with all the problems happening.

Why would you want to throw your life away when the world is trying its best to take it from you?

Mr Big Shot – Collateral
Promiseland – Collateral

This band from the UK came from out of nowhere via a Spotify playlist.

Vocally the singer sounds like a cross between Sebastian Bach and Mike Matijevic from Steelheart. Musically, it sounds like Dan Huff’s Giant with an 80’s vibe.

All Over But The Cryin’ – The Georgia Satellites
Deke over at Thunder Bay posted a review of “The Georgia Satellites” barroom brawl, debut album from the mid 80’s.

“Keep Your Hands To Yourself” from the debut album in 1986, is the song which got them noticed and it’s a great song title. And the way the song is structured and performed, it has the crossover appeal into country/southern rock, which it did perfectly. Of course it was no surprise that in the 90’s, quite a few country artists rocked it up like these guys.

But my favourite song is from their third album, “In the Land Of Salvation And Sin” released in 1989. It’s like a cross between Tom Petty and something that Lynyrd Skynyrd would write. It sounds fresh today even though it is over 30 years old.

The War We Made – Red
I’ve liked Red since I heard their first album “End Of Silence” in 2006.

Hear a voice when the light is gone
Never know whose side it’s on
Think you’re gonna see someone
But you are the only one

I see this songs message as the war was made by the one person and the two voices within that one person.

The Reckoning – Silvera
This song has a wicked intro. And I have no idea who is in the band or their origins.

Desperado (Radio Edit) – Soilwork
Bjorn Strid is one hell of a vocalist, moving from his death metal voice to soaring melodicism.

The first person to do this was Rob Halford. He moved between baritone and falsetto. King Diamond took it to another operatic level. Then everything in the 90’s went to rap, melodic or guttural. There was no crossover. And then everything started merging again.

Lost (feat Sully Erna) – Stitched Up Heart
Sully Erna pops up everywhere as a guest vocalist.

It’s how this song came onto my radar. I am a Godsmack fan.

The thing with these kinds of song is that once Evanescene nailed it with “Bring Me To Life”, every band with a female singer started to try to recreate the formula. And 17 years later, people are still trying to recreate that same magic.

And “Lost” has a massive chorus.

Habit – Adelitas Way
This band is good. They’ve now put some serious years on the board and their growth as artists in evident in their song writing. This song has so many pop like elements, yet it still rocks hard.

I can’t help myself, I got a habit.

It’s a wicked line. So simple and yet so effective.

Yep, habits are hard to break. Some habits I don’t want to break even though the moral police and health police tell me to do so.

It’s got this lick in the intro and in the solo which lingers after the song is finished.

The Sweet Escape – Poets of The Fall

I really like Poets Of The Fall. The Alexander Theatre sessions is basically them playing some of their favourite songs in an acoustic setting. And the melancholy of those songs, comes through even more in this kind of set up.

Under a canopy of stars
Where thought and truth divorce
In that latticework of dreams we are shameless

Seriously, how good and descriptive are these lyrics.

There is no attempt to rhyme or to find words to rhyme, just a story to be told about making a sweet escape.

By The Blues – Conception

Now Conception came into my life in the 90’s with their album “In Your Multitude”. It had this concise form of song writing that took all of the best elements of progressive bands into 4 to 5 minute length songs.

And then they disappeared. I couldn’t find anything on em, although the internet many years later did highlight that they did a few more albums and then broke up or went on hiatus.

But in the last few years they have reformed and it’s good to have them back in my life. If you like metal and rock with a dose of Euro feel, then Conception is the band to check out.

Part 3 coming up.

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

March 2020 – Part 1

So my March listening started off with tracks from January and February that I liked. I have written about these tracks already.

Here is the March playlist.

Circle The Drain – Machine Head
I like the melodic metal side of Robb Flynn. And he crushes on this song, as it moves between melodicism, nu metal and groove metal.

Feeling Whitney – Royal Bliss
The original Post Malone version is pretty good as well, a cross between “Dust In The Wind” style fingerpicking and modern rock.

Royal Bliss turn it into a modern pop rock song. And that also works.

Naked City – Jorn
Running Up That Hill – Jorn
Lonely Nights – Jorn

What does Kiss, Kate Bush and Bryan Adams have in common?

Bubbles – Framing Hanley
“I hear the nervousness in every word that is said” and in these pandemic times, I hear it and I see it loud and clear as our leaders make panic policies and suspend the sitting of parliament. I guess the bubble has burst and what comes next no one knows.

We are in uncharted waters here.

Come Clean – H.E.A.T
Dangerous Ground – H.E.A.T

Melodic Rock at its best. The Chorus in “Come Clean” is super catchy, with a R nought of 2.

Under The Graveyard – Ozzy Osbourne
At this point in time, it’s on the playlist.

Will it be in 10 years’ time?

Maybe. And on the COVID-19 news front, writer, guitarist and producer of this album, Andrew Watt has been diagnosed as having it.

Let’s hope for a speedy recovery as other musicians have already died, from an ex-Riot member, Fountains Of Wayne bassist and a country songwriter/guitarist.

Catastrophist – Trivium
I have been a Trivium fan for 13 years now.

It’s funny how fast time goes and it’s funny how many haters this band gets as well, because the old school metal fans don’t like the screaming, the old school death metal fans think it’s too fake and they just can’t win. But they can play their instruments, and they can play it well.

Singer Matt Heafy even put in time with former Emperor guitarist and vocalist, Ihsahn, learning the art of Black Metal and progressive songwriting. Not a lot of artists can lay claim to that.

F8/Inside Out – Five Finger Death Punch
These two songs work brilliantly together.

“I stand alone, I guess I knew it all along” and it feels more like that these days than ever before. We look at our leaders and our heroes from music and entertainment to give us some insights, but in the end, the decisions made are ours to make alone. And our heroes are as clueless as us.

Because Of You – Storm Force
This song just refuses to go away from my life. The music, the verse lyrics and that chorus. All so familiar and i like it.

“The world is yours today always something going down”. For me 2020 has seen; devastating bush fires which brought forth air quality issues, then came the rains and the floods. And now, we are at the start of the biggest threat in my lifetime, COVID-19. So we look to our families, our partners, our children and our friends for inspiration and reflection.

Dear Agony – Breaking Benjamin
The mood of this song gets me. This song gives me hope, even though it’s a depressing song itself.

“Dear Agony, just let go of me, suffer slowly, is this the way it’s gotta be”.

No it didn’t have to be this way. Fighting for life is more important than anything else in the world.

Aeromantic (Album) – The Night Flight Orchestra
Let’s just say that this album would most probably appear in all of my monthly reviews, because it is so damn good.

Songs like “Aeromantic” and “Taurus” pick up the energy. My favourites are the closer “Dead of Winter” and “Transmissions” with that violin solo.

Change The World (Album) – Harem Scarem
Have I mentioned that Pete Lesperance is one hell of a guitar player?

Part 2 for March coming up.

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Music

Angus Young – Guitar World – March 1986 – Part 1

ANGUS YOUNG – RAW ENERGY IS ALL YOU NEED
Guitar World March 1986
By Joe Lalaina

(All parts in Italics and Quotes are from the March 1986 issue of Guitar World)

The little guy with the big SG is unconcerned with current guitar hero fashions.  His stock in trade has always been the hard rock shuffle to a boogie beat.  Before you drop the needle on any new AC/DC album, you know what to expect. Rarely has a band maintained such a consistent sound as AC/DC, they’ve been pretty much making the same album for the past ten years. Fly On The Wall, the group’s eleventh release, is no exception.

“I’ve heard people say all our music sounds the same,” says soft-spoken lead guitarist Angus Young, “but it’s usually just the people who don’t like us who say it.”

Not true. It’s just that ever since the band’s High Voltage debut back in 76, AC/DC has been playing the same relentlessly raw and straightforward style on every succeeding album. And that’s the way their fans like it.

I like AC/DC.  They are a talisman to consistency.  Each album is the same, however that doesn’t mean that each album was successful.  You need great songs, and that is what AC/DC delivered on High Voltage, Highway To Hell, Let There Be Rock, Back In Black and on The Razors Edge.  Credit both Mutt Lange for Back In Black and Bruce Fairbairn for The Razors Edge.  Actually, The Razors Edge album is the most crucial album AC/DC ever did.  After a steady decline in fortunes and sales since Back In Black, they kicked off the 1990’s with a bang.  It made them relevant again.  The Razors Edge album sustained them throughout the 90’s and into the now.

“We never go overboard and above people’s heads,” says Angus, who took some rare time out from his recent American tour to discuss musical and other matters.

“We strive to retain that energy, that spirit we’ve always had. We feel the more simple and original something is, the better it is. It doesn’t take much for anyone to pick up anything I play, it’s quite simple. I go for a good song. And if you hear a good song, you don’t dissect it, you just listen and every bit seems right.”

For any guitarist that is starting off, AC/DC wrote the book on beginners guitar.  In the process, they also created songs that are timeless and a soundtrack to a whole generation of people in the seventies, eighties and nineties.  I am just teaching my kids to play guitar and the first song i showed them was Long Way To The Top from AC/DC.

Although this stripped-to-the-bone approach has made AC/DC internationally successful, thirty million albums sold worldwide ain’t bad!, Angus is more concerned with having a  good time than with album sales.

“We don’t go around the world counting ticket and record sales,” he says, “nor do we glue our ears to the radio to hear what’s trendy at the moment; we’re not that type of band. We do run our own careers, but we leave the marketing stuff to the record company. We make music for what we know it as, and we definitely have our own style.”

AC/DC defined a style and in the process spawned a million imitators.  What a lot of people don’t understand, especially the international fans, is that Australia rock bands where all playing the same style.  Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Daddy Cool, Stevie Wright all had that pub rock vibe.  AC/DC just stood out a bit more.  Credit Bon Scott and Angus Young.  Brian Johnson walked into the house built by Bon and Angus.

Is there anything Angus considers special about his playing style?

“In some ways, yeah.” he says. “I know what guitar sound I want right away. And if I put my mind to it, I can come up with a few tricks. I mean, I just don’t hit the strings that my
fingers are nearest to. But the most important thing, to me, is I don’t like to bore people. Whenever I play a solo in a song, I make sure that the audience gets off on it as much as I do.”

Angus exerts more energy in the course of one song than most guitarists do in an entire show.

“I’m always very nervy when I play.” he says. I usually settle down after the first few songs, but it’s hard for me to stand still. I suddenly realize where I am, onstage in front of thousands of people; so the energy from the crowd makes me go wild.  I’m always very careful, though. If you bump an arm or twist an ankle, there s no time for healing on the road. You can t tell the crowd. Hey, people, I can t run around tonight I have a twisted ankle.”

I have mentioned before about bands writing great songs and how that is very different to bands that write great songs that go down great live.  AC/DC is another band, that has that foresight.  The songs are all meant for the arena.  To be honest, i don’t really remember a recorded song fading out, i am sure some do, however it is testament to the band that they write a start and an end.

Malcolm Young, AC/DC s rhythm guitarist and Angus older brother, would rather just stand in one spot and bang out the beat with thuddingly repetitive chord structures.  

“Malcolm makes the band sound so full”, says Angus, “and it’s hard to get a big ego if you play in a band with your brother, it keeps your head on the earth. Malcolm is like me, he just wants the two of us to connect. Although he lets me take all the lead breaks, Malcolm’s still a better guitarist than Eddie Van Halen.  Van Halen certainly knows his scales, but I don’t enjoy listening to very technical guitarists who cram all the notes they know into one song.  I mean, Van Halen can do what he does very well, but he’s really just doing finger exercises. If a guitarist wants to practice all the notes he can play, he should do it at home. There’s definitely a place for that type of playing, but it’s not in front of me.”

Big call by Angus.  Dishing on King Eddie.  Back then, I was like WTF?  How dare he?  Eddie was king back in 1986.  He was untouchable.

I didn’t even like AC/DC back in 1986 and I am Australian.  I was so into the U.S. Glam/Hard rock scene, I failed to see the talent that was AC/DC.  I am glad I made up for it in the nineties, when Grunge allowed me to drop out of the mainstream and go searching for classic rock bands.

These days, no one speaks their mind.  They all want to be loved.  No one wants to be hated.  Guess what people, we can see right through it.  We can tell the fakes from the real dealers.  (Nice lyric line by the way, I will keep it)

Angus would much rather listen to old time players like Chuck Berry or B B King. 

“Those guys have great feel, ” says Angus. “They hit the notes in the right spot and they know when not to play. Chuck Berry was never a caring person. He didn’t care whether he was playing his tune, out of tune or someone else’s tune. Whenever he plays guitar, he has a big grin from ear to ear. Everyone always used to rave about Clapton when I was growing up, saying he was a guitar genius and stuff like that. Well even on a bad night Chuck Berry is a lot better than Clapton will ever be.  Clapton just sticks licks together that he has taken from other people – like B B King and the other old blues players—and puts them together in some mish-mashed fashion. The only great album he ever made was the Blues Breaker album he did with John Mayal and maybe a couple of good songs he did with Cream. The guy more or less built his reputation on that. I never saw what the big fuss was about Clapton to begin with.”

That is what made Angus a legend, he always spoke his mind.  The world we have today is all about yes people and making sure that we don’t offend.  We all want to be loved, hence the reason why one person has 5000 Facebook friends.  Yeah Right.  5000 Friends.  What a load of B.S?  No one speaks their mind these days.  The kids grow up these days, being told by mum and dad what a great game they had in football, and how great they are at reading and how great they are at this, when all they did was touch the ball once and play with the grass most of the time.

It’s easy to get lost in those comments against Clapton and Van Halen.  If you do, you miss the point Angus is trying to make.  He has no time for technical players, but he has time for Chuck Berry.  In relation to Eric Clapton, he didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about, he believed that others where better, like Jeff Beck.

“There are guys out there who can play real good without boring people.  Jeff Beck is one of them.  He’s more of a technical guy, but when he wants to rock and roll he sure knows how to do it with guts.  I really like the early albums he did with Rod Stewart.”

There is that name again Jeff Beck.  When I was reading this magazine, Jeff Beck’s name came up a few times.  I had to check him out.  This is 1986.  No internet to Google Jeff Beck.  No YouTube or Spotify to sample him.  I had to walk down to the local record shop and look for it.  Good times.  I am glad I lived them and I am glad they are not coming back.

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