Music, My Stories

Remembering The Music

The problem with writing about 80’s music is those who remember it, care about it and those who don’t remember it or did not grow up in it, don’t care about it.

From the 60’s, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones survived.

From the 70’s The Eagles have survived. Black Sabbath had a golden run with the reunion of the Dio line up in the 2000’s and then with the Ozzy led line up (except Bill Ward got duped out of playing because he was told by them he was unfit. Maybe they should have got an expert opinion). Deep Purple are still creating however depending on who you ask, it’s hit and miss, while their live shows are doing okay numbers, but paling in comparison to Sabbath. Kiss are still a draw on the live circuit while Gene and Paul whinge about album sales being anaemic, so in the last 12 years, we got two albums with two good songs. Rush are retired and the Scorpions maybe should retire as well. Meanwhile Queen are still touring with Adam Lambert.

From the 80’s Metallica dominate everything. Megadeth want to dominate everything. Van Halen are somewhere, doing nothing. Motley Crue are retired and so is Twisted Sister. AC/DC will retire. Skid Row refuse to get back together even though all living members are alive. Bon Jovi still rakes it in on the live circuit, but are creatively bankrupt. Guns’N’Roses will never write another hit again, but will rake it in on the live circuit.

Def Leppard are doing big business on the live scene and now with their music on digital services, expect their tunes to pop up everywhere. Europe took control of their career and their copyrights and are laughing all the way to the bank. Night Ranger exists but no one knows it. Journey gave an unknown a dream gig and toured everywhere because their songs are everywhere and they are timeless. Cinderella had the charts sown up and no one knows their songs these days. Kingdom Come plagiarised everyone, made the record label millions, while they got squat and then got dropped. David Lee Roth, was once the poster boy, in every magazine and now he’s an old man with a tattoo of Elvis on his elbow that talks when his elbow moves.

Whitesnake and Judas Priest are experiencing a renaissance creatively and on tour. Iron Maiden have the live game sown up and still churn out a decent long player. Motorhead are all in heaven or in hell or in purgatory. Ozzy will be retiring as Zakk joins him on his farewell tour. Yngwie Malmsteen is unleashing the fury and Slayer are missing Jeff Hanneman. Stryper asked for Gods help to take back control of their songs and are having a wicked ride enjoying a new creative period.

But for so many of the old hit bands, they have faded into the pages of history. Maybe streaming services will make people access their works easier, but I don’t think they’re going to rise through the noise and time constraints of people’s lives. Bands like Ratt and Dokken are shadows of their former selves. Quiet Riot has no original members in it, but delivered a solid album with James Durbin on vocals which no one has heard.

Slaughter can’t get themselves together to record an album, because it’s easier for ¾ of the band to go on the road with Vince Neil and play Motley hits. Dio songs are in car commercials. Poison, Warrant and Extreme ruled the charts once and now they play their greatest hits to a few hundred people. Queensryche exists in two different versions and so does Great White.

Anthrax and Scott Ian are still lamenting that sales are not the metric anymore for a successful album, while Volbeat have shown that streams lead to sales and an aggressive live show conquers all. Y&T rock Europe and do okay business. WASP cannot eclipse their debut album, even though “The Headless Cross” and “The Crimson Idol” are better albums. White Lion and Vito Bratta ruled everything for 36 months between 87 and 89 and when sales started to go downhill, so did Vito’s drive.

But for those of us who lived it, these artists inhabit a special place inside us, where our memories are triggered by the melodies and distortion. Play a Top 100 Rock list from the 80’s and you’ll be surprised how many songs you can sing along to.

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

Forgotten 80s Part 4

I read an article about how a computer system was only shown how the pieces move in a chess game. Then the system was told to learn how to play the game. 24 hours later, the system had all the chess moves worked out and it was beating strong chess programs convincingly.

Then I watched the “Metalhead” episode from Black Mirror and then I read a story about how Nissan wants to create a car that reads your mind and it got me thinking of the original Terminator movie and suddenly I was in the mood for 80’s music.

So here is another list of forgotten songs from the era. Just click on the number for the previous Forgotten lists, one, two and three.

Better Days
Taking On The World
The Feeling Within
Gun

Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal. With their debut album, GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands because that’s the only way the record labels knew how to promote music. Compare it to something else which is popular and hopefully you get 10% of that audience to buy blind. 30 years later, it’s still the only way record labels know how to promote music.

Better Days

The groove captures me instantly and the vocal melody is so far removed from the LA Sunset strip, it’s perfect.

Living in the same scene way too long
Everybody hopes that one of these days
Everything you want is gonna come your way
Everybody knows what they have to do
Everybody dreams like me and you

Dreaming and hoping is easy. Deciding how to make those dreams and hopes come true is hard because making decisions is exhausting. It means you need to investigate, analyse and most importantly take responsibility for making a decision. We all know what we need to do, but so few do it.

Things could be heaven but this feels like hell
So hold your head high cause you know I’d die
For better days

And sometimes, decisions made with good intent could end up going bad. It doesn’t mean it’s the end. It just means a re-calibration is necessary and further analysis is needed, because our dreams and hopes for better days, make us push through the worry and fear.

Taking On The World

The acoustic strumming sets the sombre tone, but it’s the vocal melody which is captivating. It’s unique and catchy.

When you feel that life is dragging you down day by day
You’ve gotta break away
You’re taking on the world

Life is a process. You try things and you fail. You get into a relationship and you separate. In ten years’ time you would be using a technology that hasn’t been developed yet. The world evolves and you need to evolve with it, if you want to take it on.

And the lead break is full of thought out phrases that outline the chord progression under it.

The Feeling Within

The vocal tone of this song sounds like a cross between Jim Kerr (Simple Minds singer) and Michael Hutchence (INXS singer RIP).

You don’t know what silence means (you can pray for me)
You don’t know about shattered dream
You don’t know that I can’t run (you can set me free)
Set me free from the feeling within

Those lyrics in the brackets are sung by vocalist Mark Rankin’s cousin Sharleen Spiteri, of the band Texas.

Now Forever After
Stargazer
Kingdom Come

The most well-known version of the band only lasted two albums and one touring cycle. By the late 80’s the record labels didn’t care about artist development. It was all about platinum certifications. If the band got one, they had another shot. If they didn’t get one, they got dropped. Kingdom Come went platinum with their debut and their follow up didn’t set any sales record alight, even though it was better musically than the debut.

Musically, Kingdom Come had three sides. One side was the 70’s inspired classic rock of Led Zeppelin. The other side was the blues rock of AC/DC, while the third side was the Euro melodic rock inspired by Deep Purple, Scorpions and Rainbow combined with a little bit of Toto and Styx.

Now Forever After

“Now Forever After” is from the debut album released in 1988 and it falls into that melodic rock side of the band.

It’s now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
For better or worse
Until we die
Now, forever after
Now, sharing our laughter
Until the end of time

If only it’s true. Actually for some it is, for others it takes a few goes to get it right.

Stargazer

“Stargazer” is from “In Your Face” released in 1989. That keyboard intro which blends into the guitar lead just works brilliantly. This is another that falls into the Euro melodic rock side of the band.

Ooh, just to know what’s the reason for making us
Is what I would like to know

How did we come to be? So many theories out there, rooted in science and religion.

Stargazer
Live it out
Meet the Maker

Our ancestors looked to the stars for answers. Then they changed to religion. As humans got wiser they turned to nature and science for answers. Everything ends, including you and me. We thought we would live forever, but this proved to be untrue. And you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I Believe In You
Knock You Out
Hands Of Time
Y&T

For many, “Earthshaker” was a landmark album. In my opinion, it also became a major influence to any hard rock musician around the world who heard it. It you took all of the different rock stylings happening at the time, and put them into the Y&T blender, “Earthshaker” would be the result.

For Y&T, they were just happy to have a deal with A&M, after two albums on a different label who had had no clue what to do with the band. Coming into the album, Y&T had already played the songs live quite a bit, hence the reason why everyone who heard the album said, “wow, these songs would really work live”.

By 1981 bands didn’t really do ballads or power ballads. They did songs with slower tempos that just kept on building up to a huge ending.

I Believe In You

“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well along time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us, so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record; well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship so the song inspired itself more or less.”

Dave Meniketti

The music business is full of rip offs. There are so many stories of former managers claiming the rights on songs from artists written while they managed the artist, but released many years later, while the band had new management. So many people who contribute nothing to the Arts make money from the Arts.

Even record labels do it. They sign an artist and they will spend some money for the artist to record a demo. They might give the go ahead for the songs to be recorded for a release or they might not release them at all. If they are not released, the artist is in limbo. Ask Tom Keifer, Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner, just to name a few. And if they leave the label they need to buy back their songs at an extortionist fee the label sets themselves.

Your phony friends, they all counsel you
The things they say
Oh, you know aren’t true

Ahh, yes, who doesn’t have friends like these in our lives?

Breaking up with your partner is a lot more than just breaking up with one person. When a relationship ends, people take sides. Suddenly the friends you believed you had are not there anymore.

Knock You Out

How good is the riff that kicks off this song?

Up against the ropes
I’ve been there before
I’ve been hit by the best, but never hit the floor

Proving you’re at the best when you do it your way. Never forget that. You can make your own decision. Awards are irrelevant. It’s the art that remains. Y&T remain more relevant than some of their 80’s peers who achieved platinum sales. Y&T never did.

Hands Of Time

This appears on “Down For The Count” released in 1985. I swear that intro riff was used by Winger in “Headed For A Heartbreak” to platinum glory. Progress is derivative right.

Don’t be a prisoner of your memories
They steal from your future
And fill you with lies

Negative thinking stops us from taking action. And our tendency to attach an emotion to a past event is our biggest downfall.

‘Cause you can’t turn back the Hands Of Time

What is done, is done, so move forward because time keeps marching forward.

Abandon
Heartbreaker
Dare

Both songs are from the “Out Of The Silence” album released in 1988 on A&M records. Wikipedia tells me Dare was formed in 1985 by former Thin Lizzy keyboard player Darren Wharton after Phil Lynott had dissolved the band. They had some success and when their second album “Blood From Stone” released in 1991 tanked in the sales department, the band was dropped.

Abandon

I can’t forget the things that you said to me

We rarely forget. We move on but we don’t forget. Actually, we can’t forget, because if we do forget, then how did we learn from those events.

I wish I could say that the rest of the song had some earth shattering lyrical message but it didn’t. A lot of the problems with the 80’s rock bands are the lyrics. Even Dare, coming from some experienced musicians couldn’t get decent lyrics written. Some people are good with words and others not so much. But the music is still good.

Heartbreaker

It’s got a riff that reminds me of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” merged with “Fantasy”.

She got no money and she got no pride
Don’t let her tell you she got nothing to hide
So full of passion with a wounded heart
I still remember when our love fell apart yeah
And when everything’s right, how could I be so wrong? so wrong?

While it was right for you, it was all wrong for the other half. They just haven’t had the courage to tell ya yet.

Lovers
Fate

It’s from the “Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ album released in 1988. A friend of mine had this album and he dubbed it on a blank cassette for me around 1992. I knew nothing of the band back then and I still don’t know anything about the band today, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for a derivative and clichéd melodic rock song and as soon as the Aldo Nova “Fantasy” influence kicked the song off, I was hooked.

Future World
We Came To Rock
Yellow Rain
Loud’N’Proud
Rodeo
Pretty Maids

They should have had more mainstream success. Not sure if the band name helped their chances or hindered them.

Future World

It’s the title song of their 1987 album.

Oh future world
There’s nothing left to save
They blew it all away

We will in troubled times and even more so today where “stable geniuses” are in power.

In troubled times
We saw the writing on the wall
We heard the fools
Who brought the human race to fall?

The human race always suffers because of a few individuals. Released in 87, this would have been referencing the Cold War between the US and USSR. Today, it’s the US vs North Korea. Leaders out of touch with reality and the people they claim to support and serve.

We Came to Rock

It’s from the “Future World” album and it’s one of those clichéd songs about going to the rock and roll show and joining the cavalcade.

If you’re feeling out of nowhere
If you got no place to go
If you’re feeling lost and lonely
When you’re down the open road

The heavy metal community is the most loyal and there is always a place for you and everyone else.

We are the faces
We are the guardians of the night
We’ll rock the ages
It’s all right
We’ve seen the fire
We are defenders of your rights
We’ll take you higher
Gonna take you to the sky

It’s easy to say in words that you are a defender of our rights, but only Dee Snider went to the US Senate hearings and defended the rights of US metal head citizens. It cost him dearly at the time, but today, he’s seen as the defender he set out to be in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Yellow Rain

Also from “Future World” and this one references Vietnam. Musically it starts off acoustically, like Gary Moore’s “Victims Of The Future” before it becomes a speed metal song.

Left home as heroes
Fools when they returned
Blamed for all the damage
And the villages they burned
Betrayed by their leaders
Murderers they were called
Denounced as crazy maniacs
And locked behind the walls

It was the first war that was all over TV and the prime time news. Everyone saw the burning children, the napalm bombs and Agent Orange. And the poor soldiers didn’t come home to a ticker tape parade. They came home in pieces, mentally and physically.

Loud’N’Proud

It’s also from “Future World” and it wouldn’t be out of place on the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

Gonna hit this town tonight
Let your troubles out of sight
Scream out, spread the word around
Get all up and stand your ground

Again, it’s all about going to the rock and roll show, being part of community and don’t let institutions get in your way of living out your dreams.

Rodeo

Also from “Future World”

I was born and raised on the street
I grew up in a jungle of stone

Like all of us. All social circles have become concrete jungles.

I walked my own directions
For fortune and fame

The ones, who made it, walk their own path and the ones who follow might make it, but they don’t last.

Life is a rodeo
Somebody makes it
Somebody don’t
And even though
You feel like losing
Don’t ever let it go

It’s the unwritten rule of life. Never give up, keep on going. From when we are born, we fight for every breath, for every step, every single day.

And sometimes when I came to a crossroad

Should I stick to the left or the right?

We always try to make the best decision with the information we have at the point in time. It might be right, it might be wrong, but we still make it. Because we need to.

Under The Gun
Turn It On
Danger Danger

For a band formed in 1987, they had Al Pitrelli on guitar for a brief time, then after they got a recording contract, Pitrelli left and was replaced by Saraya guitarist Tony “Bruno” Rey (who actually played on the debut album) before returning to Saraya and Andy Timmons replaced him and played on the rest of their debut album, which was released in the same year.

Under The Gun

From the debut album released in 1989 and its the same lyrical theme as “Runaway” and “Fallen Angel”. But musically and melodically it’s addictive.

Turn It On

Also from the debut and the guitar playing from Andy Timmons is what hooks me. The way he colours each bar with arpeggios, power chords, palm-muted pedal tones and double stop inversions is brilliant.

Long Way From Home
Angel In My Heart
Britny Fox

Carbon copy of Cinderella, Britny Fox formed in 1986 in Philadelphia. In fact, the band had former members of Cinderella in its roster and their connections to Cinderella allowed the band to secure a major recording contract.

Long Way From Home

The debut album is not on Spotify, however the follow-up “Boys in Heat” released in 1989 is.

My love’s with you always, oh yeah.
Long way from home.

On the road is a killer. You are away from friends and family and the band mates are suddenly not as likeable as you thought they were when you saw em only a few hours a day for practice.

Angel In My Heart

Also from “Boys in Heat”, it’s a simple hooky song.

Misery Loves Company
Nobody Knows
Hard Luck
Letters In The Rain
Lillian Axe

Formed in 1987, they caught the attention of Ratt’s management which led to a record deal with MCA and Ratt’s Robbin Crosby producing the band’s first album, Lillian Axe.

As Wikipedia tells me, neither the debut nor the 1989 follow-up, “Love + War”, met commercial expectations and the group was quickly dropped.

Misery Loves Company

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

The intro riff is a derivative version of “Breaking The Chains” from Dokken.

The poor get nothing while the rich get fat
Start living good, the I.R.S. takes that
I kinda wonder if there’s really any good at all, at all

While the rich pay nothing and hide their billions in offshore tax havens.

Nobody Knows

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988.

Nobody knows when there’s clouds in the skies
When there are tears in your eyes
Nobody knows when you’re hurting so bad
So what if they had?

Exactly. So what if people knew how bad your hurting or how low your feeling. What can they do to change it? How people deal with pain and disappointment is very subjective. Each person has their own unique way of overcoming obstacles.

Hard Luck

The song is from the self-titled debut released in 1988. The lyrics are forgettable, but the music and melodies work.

Letters in the Rain

From the follow up, “Love + War”, released in 1989, the lyrics deal with a person reading letters his ex-partner left in the rain, and after being heartbroken for so long, he finally moves on, only to have the ex-partner return asking for a second chance. But the music and melodies are cool.

The Right To Rock
United Nations
King Of The Rock
Don’t Say You Love Me
Keel

The rock is strong with Keel.

The Right To Rock

Released in 1985, it’s the title track.

All my life I’ve been fighting
For the right to make my stand

So what happened? How did we go from fighting and making a stand, to not caring?

Don’t internet users in the U.S care about net neutrality?

Don’t people in Australia care about the power corporations have with the courts and our leaders?

Don’t let anyone tell you
How to live your life

But they do tell us how to live our lives. If you have a credit card, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. If you have a mortgage, you are being told how to live your life with each monthly repayment. God forbid if you are late. If you have are employed, you are told how to live your live every single day, just so you get that fortnight or monthly pay into your account.

‘Cause it’s our way of life
I’m fighting for freedom
For the golden rule
The right to say what I feel

But we are too scared to say what we feel in case we get ravaged by the social media righteous police.

United Nations

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

We are the new generation
We got the inspiration
We’re feelin’ strong so spread the news
The youth of every nation
Will make this declaration
This is the way of life we choose
Together we will rock
Forever we will roll

We thought hard rock would last forever but it didn’t. All great empires fall, and rock was no different.

And someday we will rise
To take control

1986 was the year metal and rock took control.

We are united nations
Under the flag of rock and roll
We are united nations
United we will stand

If only we remained united, but we didn’t.

King Of The Rock

From the self-titled album released in 1987.

In the arena is the kingdom I call home
This coliseum is my dome, whoa!
I make my own rules, I call the shots
I’m not afraid of you and I’ll fight for what I’ve got

By 1987, we had moved on. The call to arms about the rock and roll show got old.

This concrete battleground is where I’ll make my stand
If you’re with me, raise your hands

We had splintered by now. Metallica went on tour with James Hetfield having a sticker on his guitar that said something like “Kill Bon Jovi”. Mustaine called Queensryche “Yuppie metal”. Any artist that introduced keyboards or had keyboard players got labelled as sell-outs. Any artist that brought in outside writers also got labelled sell-outs. The label marketing machine was in overdrive creating new genres. We had Glam Rock, Pop Metal, and Glam Metal.

We had hard rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock and pop rock. We had thrash metal and speed metal. We had heavy metal and technical metal and progressive metal. Death metal was becoming a thing. Europe was having their own thing happening with power metal, progressive classical metal, folk metal and the embers of a black metal scene were beginning.

In the states, hard core was a thing and when it became heavy, grindcore became a genre. Punk was just punk, once upon a time. Then it became post punk, punk rock, punk metal and punk pop.

It’s like that scene in “The Warriors” with Cyrus trying to unite the gangs. It didn’t end well.

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

Rock/Metal in the early 90s

In 1990, the biggest hit singles in relation to sales and chart placement where “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor, “Vogue” by Madonna, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer and “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette.

In 1991, the biggest hit singles where “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams, “Black Or White” by Michael Jackson, “Joyride” by Roxette, “Wind Of Change” by Scorpions and “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.

In 1992, the biggest hit singles where “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men, “Rhythm Is A Dancer” by Snap! and “To Be With You” by Mr Big. And of course let’s not forget “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus.

By the early 90’s, I always believed that the remnants of the dominant 80’s rock movement was looking for ways to fit in and get back people’s attention. A lot of the acts signed towards the late 80’s had already splintered. Some got dropped and tried to get a new deal or they just left the recording business for good. And you had a lot of acts from the 80’s, who had platinum success and somehow were still together and looking for ways to survive in the 90’s. You also had the 70’s acts that re-invented themselves in the 80’s thanks to MTV and were looking to keep the momentum going well into the 90’s. Aerosmith and Kiss come to mind here.

However, rock and metal bands was a big album business. Because in 1987, after Bon Jovi’s and Europe’s explosion in 1986, the biggest hit singles in relation to sales and chart placement where, “La Bamba” by Los Lobos, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me” by Whitney Houston, “It’s a Sin” by Pet Shop Boys and “Who’s That Girl” by Madonna. But Jovi was selling “Slippery” by the truckload.

In 1989, the biggest hit singles where “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles, “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins, “The Look” by Roxette and “Love Shack” by The B-52s. So rock and metal music did do well commercially selling albums, but it paled significantly compared to the pop world.

Meanwhile, the recording business was in a race to the bottom with a winner take all mentality. Label after label started to get sucked into the vacuum of the larger label. Changes in personnel happened so fast that once an artist was signed, a few weeks or few months later, the people who signed the artist are no longer working at the label and the interest to develop and promote the artist disappeared. So the artist is in limbo. But the label is not letting the artist go, just in case the artist makes it with another label. It’s one of the big no-no’s in the recording industry.

A record company in the 80’s would get you on radio, music television, magazines and they would push the album hard enough to achieve platinum sales. If it didn’t “sell”, they would put you in the studio again, get you further in debt and if you failed again, you would be dropped. A record label in the 90’s would sign you and then drop you before you even released anything or had a chance to get your message across.

And in today’s world it’s getting even harder to get your message across. It’s weird, because everyone has smartphones and everyone is connected however this great digital era also means that the users are the product. Facebook makes billions selling your data. 

 

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Speed Of Moving On

Once upon a time, there was the BlackBerry. It was the phone for professionals with a full miniature keyboard and an operating system that provided emails and messaging functionality. But, the iPhone’s launch with apps in 2007 changed the game. It showed the world, that people didn’t just want a phone for emails and messaging. They wanted to do more. And that more came from apps. This brand new ecosystem, put tools into the hands of their users. Developers and companies rose up all around the world, just to create apps for the iPhone. But they couldn’t do the same on the Blackberry.

So while the Blackberry executive brass said that users would not want an iPhone, they totally missed the boat on how app developers increase the value of their own product.

In 2007, Blackberry was number 8 in global smartphones sold. Fast forward 10 years later, it has 0.0% market share.

Google dominates the numbers game because it gives out Android to phone makers for free, making it the operating system of choice for low-cost handsets in the developing world like India and China. Apple, on the other hand, keeps iOS in-house and its prices high — limiting its reach but maximising its profits.
BUSINESS INSIDER ARTICLE

The speed at which people abandon one thing and move on to another is huge. Remember MySpace. Remember Yahoo. Remember dot-matrix printers. Remember film cameras.

We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. A generation who wants to consume music but not in the same way that their parents did. Their sense of community is all online. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

And the biggest story of the past five years that hasn’t been told is the seas of information that makes it nearly impossible to get any message heard. The main newspapers articles are written by publicists. The artists chime in to help Metal Hammer rise again, but they keep on forgetting that it’s the people who used to purchase the magazine that have moved on. We are sick and tired of the publicist articles. There is nothing new there. We can get all of that information from Wikipedia. Hell, artists who have a following, don’t need to do interviews, just start-up a blog and control your own news.

Success tomorrow means having an opinion today.

Attention is first. The money comes later.

This is 2017, where even the biggest acts in certain genres are unknown to many. It’s different to the mid 80’s, when MTV ruled and a limited number of acts had constant rotation on the channel.

I dare most people to sing two Shinedown songs and the average person has no idea who Five Finger Death Punch is, however both bands get as many RIAA certifications as bands in the 80’s did. In the same way, that most people don’t know which is the biggest video game, or the biggest online game or the biggest app or the biggest book. There’s just too much information.

Businesses depend upon customers. If no one is buying, companies fail. Artists depend upon audiences. If no one is listening, artists fail because the money is in the mass. The more people who listen, the more money the artist will make. But they need to get people’s attention.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

Piracy Incorporated

The Pirate Bay (TPB) is going to turn 14 years this year.

From its inception, it was a facilitator, spreading the disruption caused by Napster years earlier to even larger audiences. It showed the entertainment industries how they needed to change. But they didn’t change and it took companies like Netflix and Spotify to make this happen. And they did it by using the same technology made famous by The Pirate Bay. But while Netflix realised that money is in producing your own content, Spotify and other streaming providers have not. Licensing content from someone is not a satisfactory business model. Just ask HBO, formerly known as Home Box Office. Their early business model was all licensed content and they lost money year after year, while the movie studios got richer. It wasn’t until HBO went into original content, that they started making some serious cash. As soon as Spotify, Apple, YouTube and Pandora realise that they need to enter the recording business to produce their own content, the music industry will change and disrupt even more.

TPB had to stand strong against the pressure put on it by the MPAA and the RIAA and their sister organisations throughout the world. It has stood firm against government officials (loaded up in lobbyist dollars) trying to prosecute it. It was taken down, raided and it still survives. And it keeps on innovating even when court orders become the new normal, requesting ISP’s to block the web address or domain registries to deny any applications for TPB domains. Even in it’s home country of Sweden, court appeals and cases are still ongoing. Google was even pressured to alter (in my view censor) its search algorithm, so TPB doesn’t come up.

But TPB is still alive. It has become a vessel for people to access content they normally wouldn’t have access too. In the process, it has made the world a better place.

Metal music in general has grown to all corners of the world. Suddenly, every country has a metal scene and the larger metal bands that have the means to tour are suddenly hitting markets they’ve never hit before.

The high rates of software piracy in Eastern Europe caused an IT skills explosion.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, once told Bill Gates that digital pirating helped his nation build a budding software industry.
REUTERS Article on Eastern European Piracy

The high rates of music creation software piracy led to the electronic dance explosion coming out of Europe.

In the process, artists have gained decent followings. However, while bands in the past had followings, it was assumed that every single follower had purchased recorded music and that the band had made money. But that was not the case in the past and it still isn’t today.

I had music recorded on cassette tapes and video tapes to begin with.

  •  If the radio played a song I liked, I recorded it on cassette. I did this by pressing record every time a song started or was about to start and if I dug the tune, I kept the recording going. If I didn’t dig it, I stopped the recording and rewinded the tape to the last song, so I can start again. The rewinding part was easy when the tape was new, but when you started to record after a previously recorded song, you had to rewind to that point in time. The same process was carried out with video tapes. I was explaining this to my kids and they didn’t look amazed at all by my rewinding abilities.
  • I had friends of my brothers who had dubbed music on a cassette from someone else who copied it from someone else who copied it. So on some occasions the music I got was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. It sure sounds like mp3 downloading to me.
  • My brothers had one friend who purchased a lot of music, but he wouldn’t let no-one copy it. I remember one time I borrowed the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire and “Blow My Fuse” from Kix from him, without asking or telling him. He reckons I stole it. What kind of thief am I, when I returned the borrowed goods?

So what can artists learn from The Pirate Bay?

The Pirate Bay spread via word of mouth. It didn’t embark on a scorched earth marketing policy. For an artist there is no better marketing strategy than word of mouth. That is how virality works. With social media, it can spread even faster. But you need to be able to follow it up, quickly and with quality.

  • Volbeat got traction in the U.S in 2012 on the backs of a song they released in 2008. This in turn started to bring attention to their previous albums. Success comes later in today’s world. In some cases, much later.
  • This is very different to say, Galactic Cowboys. Back in the late eighties, Geffen Records signed them to a deal and just kept on pushing the band onto the public with a pretty high-profile marketing campaign. The marketing budget was huge, the recording budget was huge, but the public just didn’t take to them. There was no word of mouth. No one spoke about them and when you brought them up in a conversation, it was a “who”. In saying that, I thought the band was innovative and excellent.

The Pirate Bay’s user base is growing and replenishing.

  • For the thousands that stop using the service, another thousand start using the service.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Metallica, another thousand started listening to Metallica.
  • For the thousands that stop listening to Ratt, another 10 started to listen to em.

You do the math as why certain things get bigger or remain bigger, while other things reduce in scale.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

In The Name Of Metal

Y&T sang “In The Name Of Rock’N’Roll” but if you wanted to find their music, you had to go to the heavy metal section of the record shop. You see, it was all one of the same, once upon a time. Hell, even Bon Jovi could be found in the metal section.

Metal music, much like the politics of today, was the very unpopular movement that took the mainstream by surprise in the 80’s. In the process it became a commercial behemoth. The record labels got rich and suddenly metal music went from the unacceptable to the acceptable. Isn’t it funny how billions in revenue from sales of metal music changed the people’s viewpoint.

But religious leaders hated metal. “Satan was on the loose”, they told their followers. These fanatics needed an enemy to push their sermons and there was no easier target than metal bands. The Government’s of the world sided with these religious group and certain factions came about, who also hated it, because of its anarchist lyrics and themes of violence, decadence and drug use. But the music got louder, the bands more popular and suddenly and suddenly the artists became as powerful as the leaders of nations. So it was only a matter of time before laws needed to be passed to censor or slap down the movement.

Society was suddenly at a crossroads.

How did the children of the baby boomers become so disobedient?

Why couldn’t these kids just conform to the system like their parents did?

A rethink of beliefs was happening.

Heavy metal bands questioned religion and made comments on politics. And the “metal fad” that most magazines predicted would die, didn’t. Instead, the message got louder. Metal music was alive in all parts of the world.

Music critics at first labelled it noise. Led Zeppelin’s first three albums (even though they are not metal, are still seen as influences of the metal movement) were labelled as disjointed and noise by Rolling Stone magazine. Black Sabbath’s first album was reviewed as a discordant jam that never finds it’s synch by the same magazine. However many years later, Rolling Stone would rewrite their own history and they put the albums in the 1001 albums you must hear before you die lists.

If you were a fan of heavy metal or hard rock, there was a system of persecution at play from unsupportive teachers, clueless leaders and an out of touch mainstream. But the music survived, it thrived and maintained a fan base for over 40 plus years.

Was it the roots to the blues that made metal appeal to the people?

Was it the borrowing from the Classical genre that made metal appeal to the people?

Was it the borrowing from the Jazz genre that made metal appeal to the people?

Was it the roots and upbringing of the artists that made metal appeal to the people? In other words, the majority of metal and rock fans came from the blue-collar social class. The people who keep the country they live in, running and producing goods.

It’s no surprise that the bands that would influence the metal genre the most originated in Europe. You had Led Zeppelin a supergroup of musicians who dabbled with the supernatural and borrowed from every genre known at that point in time. You had Black Sabbath, coming from industrial Birmingham with their sludgy and aggressive bluesy sound merged with the devil chord (the tritone) from classical music. You had Deep Purple who along with Led Zeppelin showed ambition and virtuosity in their music. If you go back further, you have The Beatles and Rolling Stones in the 60’s. ABBA and David Bowie showed the pop world how to write ambitious pop songs in the 70’s and pop music was never the same again. What the European artists did was introduce virtuosity into music that wasn’t there before.

Then there was UFO with their virtuoso guitarist Michael Schenker who would go on to influence all of the 80’s guitarists. Judas Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden flew the European metal flag in the early 80’s along with songs that sounded faster and more abrasive. A lot of critics called this a merging of punk rock with metal, however that wasn’t the case. I remember watching the Metal Evolution docu-series and Steve Harris totally disagreed with this viewpoint. As far as Harris was concerned, he hated punk music and he couldn’t see why he would merge the speed of punk with rock music to create the Iron Maiden sound. The U.S had Van Halen break through on the backs of the Van Halen brothers, who were born in Europe and grew up with the European technicality and the influences of classical music.

But metal had another genre hiding within which would go on to become bigger and more profitable. Its name became known as glam metal/rock. It was full of arena rock chorus’s, guitar solos by guitar heroes and “having a good time” lyrics. Combining the over the top glam look with MTV, proved to be a platinum move. Suddenly mediocre acts became platinum acts. A new cultural movement was born. The charts became a metal/rock paradise. Due to its crossover appeal, metal’s audience changed from male teenagers to include females, pre-teens and college teens.

While rock music in the 50’s changed society, metal music in the 80’s did exactly the same. And the world is better from it. I kneel at the altar of metal.

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

Spotify 2016

In 2016, Spotify tells me I listened to 25,538 minutes of music. On average, this equates to 70 minutes of music per day. The listening minutes are made up of 958 unique artists and 3,277 unique tracks got a spin.

Remember back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, when only a handful rock and metal artists would get our attention.

  • It could be because we laid out money for their record, so we had to spin it.
  • It could be we saw the music video on TV and recorded it to VHS tape and watched it over and over again.
  • It could be due to the record labels promotional campaigns we got caught up in their scorched earth PR policy.
  • It could be due to radio playing the songs non-stop.

In the process, we made the small number of artists into global superstars and lined the pockets of the record labels in the process.

Well in 2016, I am just one fan who listened to 958 unique artists on Spotify and I am sure I am not the only one. In my case, those 958 artists came from the rock and metal genres, which means the current bands, with their current releases are competing with the history of music, plus their past hits for our attention.

And my time listening to music is fragmented between iTunes, CD’s, Vinyl, CD and Spotify. I listened to a lot of music in the 8 weeks I spent in Europe but it all came from iTunes.

My five top artists for the year are;

  • Kingdom Come – does anyone even remember them? While the commercially successfully version of the band lasted between 1987 and 1991, vocalist and main songwriter, Lenny Wolf kept the band name going with German/European musicians until he retired the band in August 2016. And since the majority of their releases are on Spotify, it was happy days listening for me.
  • Sixx:A.M. – as a Motley fan from the 80’s it was only natural I gravitate to this and it’s the best of the side projects apart from Vince Neil’s first solo album back in the 90’s. And they are a band who had new product out in 2016 and it was good enough to compete with the history of music.
  • Saxon – there was a period between April and June this year that Saxon got a lot of listens as I got myself re-acquainted with their 80’s output and then I started to delve into their 90’s plus output.
  • Whitesnake – no new product in 2016 but still a big favourite of mine.
  • Tremonti – a lot of new product over the last few years so it’s no surprise the band ended up on this list.

My top 5 genres are;

Rock, Hard Rock, Album Rock, Metal and Glam Metal.

I always hated the genre labels and their stupid pigeon holed definitions.

Seriously, what the hell is Album Rock?

To me, it’s either Metal or it’s Rock.

Friday was my favourite day to listen, followed by Saturday and Sunday. Then came Wednesday and Thursday, with Monday and Tuesday been my least favourite days to listen to music.

And finally, here is a selection of my top tracks for the year from Spotify are;

Prayers For The Damned – SIXX:A.M
The album came out in April this year and this song was the lead single that hit streaming sites in February. It’s more or less a perfect modern hard rock song like “Life Is Beautiful” and a constant on my playlists.

Run To The Hills – Vitamin String Quartet
My kids prefer this version over the original and they found it by accident by searching for “Run To The Hills” on Spotify. To be honest, the eastern European vibe is intoxicating and since I was never really a fan of the original song to start off, the Vitamin String Quartet version has become a staple.

Twilight Cruiser – Kingdom Come
It’s 21 years old and the title track to the 1995 album. The feel and the groove and that guitar lead that sounds like a wolf howling are just perfect.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
Another track courtesy of my boys, especially my 4-year-old. I hear it and i remember Huey Lewis.

Back In Black – Vitamin String Quartet
Another track courtesy of my boys and my four-year old loved hearing the vocal melody played by a violin, which he then sang along with.

Hall Of Fame – The Script
It was the reason why I got a family premium account. The song must have screwed up the Spotify algorithm because since this was listened to by my kids, my Discover playlist has been a mess.

Dust – Tremonti
The brilliant title track of the new album.

In The Fading Light – Andy James
He came up in a Discover Playlist. It’s an instrumental from an EP released in 2013 and it’s been on my Drive Home from work playlist since i heard. The guitar lead melody is perfect and I find myself chanting it as I drive home.

Sail On – The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project from guys in Soilwork and Arch Enemy.

Funky Town – Pseudo Echo
My kids again, however I was a fan of this version in the 80’s, so it was cool to be re-acquainted with it.

Iron Man – Black Sabbath
My kids again, because of the Iron Man/Marvel movies.

Slip Of The Tongue – Whitesnake
It’s one of my favourite cuts and it’s Led Zeppelin on steroids.

War – Live – Bruce Springsteen
My kids again and it was good that they pulled up Bruce Springsteen performing live as I wouldn’t have listened to this song or the other live songs this year if it wasn’t for the kids.

Living Out Of Touch – Kingdom Come
Quick call the stupid plagiarism lawyers. Yes, I know it sounds like Led Zeppelin. Gary Moore even wrote a song called “Led Clones” about Kingdom Come. But there is no denying that Lenny Wolf was a master of re-creating classics, in the same way the Gallagher brothers recreated Beatles classics.

Good Enough – Van Halen
The boys were watching “Spaceballs” and this song came up. I totally forgot about it as it’s been 30 years since it came out and “Dreams” proved to be the cross over hit. But the Van Halen I like is the distorted groovy rock version of the band and this song is one of the best opening tracks for an album.

So I searched it up on Spotify and added it to my Drive Playlist.

“Hello Baby”. And all hell breaks loose. Enough said

Distance – Evergrey
The opening track from their new album “The Storm Within”. As the lead single, it got a lot of listens.

My Way – Kiss
It’s from 1987’s keyboard heavy “Crazy Nights” album. It’s a cool track, I dig the clichéd lyrics and it’s cool to hear Paul Stanley squeeze his balls even tighter for some of those highs. And now my kids dig it and it’s getting constant listens.

Stargazer – Kingdome Come
My kids had one of those toy keyboards and they figured out the intro, so it became a constant song we listened to on Spotify.

Rise – Sixx AM
The lead single to Part II – Prayers For The Blessed.

Trains – Porcupine Tree
Steven Wilson just did what he wanted and wrote songs the way he wanted. He wasn’t a songwriter that was locked in to a particular genre and that is why Porcupine Tree is a favourite of mine. Love the groove, the feel of the acoustic guitars and that epic ending.

Black Rose – Volbeat
I was hooked on that 60’s bubble-gum pop vibe in the Chorus.

My Last Mistake – Tremonti
The heaviness of the music.

We Are The Ones – Dee Snider
The title track and the opening track to Dee’s solo album.

Live In Love – Times Of Grace
Does melodic pop rock heavy death metal make even sense. If it does, then this track is for you.

The Threat Is Real – Megadeth
You get the Arab voices at the start and the chainsaw pedal point riff. The threat is indeed real.

Do You Like It – Kingdom Come
A simple ode to rock music and the live show and yes, I really like it.

The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – Volbeat
This song is a favourite of mine, because it’s a boogie-fied version of “Children Of The Grave”.

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