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

Release Day Friday

The Release Day Friday Spotify playlist offered a lot of goodies this time around.

It kicks off with Dee Snider and his new song, “Prove Me Wrong”.

In my book, Dee Snider is a huge part of my youth growing up. I followed him in Twisted Sister, waited for Desperado to release their album, then that album got canned and the band was dropped from Elektra. He then hooked up with Al Pitrelli for the Widowmaker albums, and I waited for those albums, thinking they would never come out. Finally the two albums dropped, the hard rock influenced “Blood And Bullets” and the grungier sounding, “Stand By For Pain”.

And this song is basically about how he has proven people wrong his whole life. He just kept going and going and trying to make it. He made it in music, he made it in radio, he made movies, he was key in getting Headbangers Ball up and going, and he spoke out against censorship while everyone else kept quiet.

I came, I saw, I rocked
I left it all upon the stage
For almost fifty years
Now it’s time to turn the page

It’s a long time to be in the business and in the 80’s he was only on top for a few short years. And the record labels like Neglektra did their best to kill his career afterwards.

I’ve been abused and used
Been over, under, sideways, down
But still my head’s unbowed
Was there ever any doubt?

If you want a definition of grit and perseverance, look no further than Dee Snider. There is a cool lyrical reference to his Desperado album on Elektra called “Bloodied But Unbowed”, where they spent a long time writing, then recording, then a week before the release, the album is pulled and Dee is dropped, but Elektra is holding on to the master tapes because they don’t want Dee to take em to another label and have a hit album. So Dee has the option to just walk away from his songs or buy some of his masters back.

How they tried, but couldn’t prove me wrong

You want to knock off the monster chip on Dee’s shoulder, go right ahead and prove him wrong.

The best revenge is none
Just be happy and live well
Knowing for your enemies
There is a special place in hell
No one could hold me back
Those who tried, I laid to waste

Truth in these words. The best revenge is to be happy and live well. That’s it.

They had every chance to prove me wrong

And they’ve all failed.

“Atlas Falls” from Shinedown was a surprise drop and it’s a nod to their sound up to 2012 which I like. It doesn’t have the “Imagine Dragons” pop sounds from the last two albums.

So I did some reading and found that “Atlas Fall” is an unreleased track from their 2012 album “Amaryllis”. And it just hit Spotify today, but has been out since 23 March 2020 as a digital download to raise funds for Direct Relief (who provides medical supplies to people in need).

Don’t give up now, there’s already so much at stake
If Atlas falls, I’ll rise up and carry us all the way

We need to support each other more these days than ever. If the world we know, crashes down around us, we need to find a way to survive.

“Skyfall” from Vandenberg really got my attention. I repeat, really got my attention.

Adrian has gone back to his roots. This song is epic 70’s style as the riffs ooze grandeur. A five plus minute song. If you like how Europe went back to their roots in “War Of Kings” then you will enjoy this album. If you like Rainbow, then you will like this song. Plus if you like Adrian Vandenberg’s style, which I do, it’s a no-brainer.

When the sky falls down
Fields are burning all around
I’ll be right beside you

Haken dropped another song “Invasion” and their form of groove/riff driven progressive rock gets me interested and so does the atmospheric groove instrumental music of Long Distance Calling and their song “Voices”.

Reach dropped “The Law”. Metallica dropped an acoustic “Blackened 2020”, which James plays with a nod to the style of Ennio Morricone. There is FM and a song called “Change For The Better”.

The melodic rock “Gathering Of Kings” project keeps ticking all the boxes for catchy choruses with “Highway To Paradise”. Scorpions released “Sign Of Hope” which didn’t really give me hope, but they have a lot of goodwill in my book, so it’s okay. “Ghosts” from Paradise Lost also appeared on the playlist, telling me (subliminally) to check out their new album.

Trapt also released “Tell Me How You Really Feel” which is more in the vein of pop than the alt-rock they have been known for, however I’m still interested to see what the full album

P.S.
Spotify still can’t tell the difference between Helix the rock band and Helix (the dance act).
P.S.S.
Spotify still can’t tell the difference between RSO (Richie Sambora Orianthi) and RSO (some dance act).
P.S.S.S.
Spotify still can’t tell the difference between Jasta (American metal singer) and an Eastern European act called Jasta.

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

Hexes

“Hexes” is from the Tesseract album called “Polaris” released in 2015.

For those who don’t know, Tesseract are an U.K. act, who play a form of progressive rock. If you like genre titles, then they started off as a djent band which then morphed into a math rock style with atmospheric rock elements.

“Hexes” according to a quick search on the internet, means to cast a spell on/put a curse on.

And in this instance, our own decisions and past histories are the hexes we put on our lives.

It’s a progressive, atmospheric tune.

At its core, is a digital delay riff, which just keeps on building into an explosive syncopated progressive riff.

But let’s not forget the vocal melody and that haunting soft piano which just rumbles under the surface.

And that half time section from about 3.22 to the end.

It isn’t a secret this mind’s shrouded in history
It isn’t a secret this mind spirals in disarray
It isn’t a secret this mind shatters in mystery
It isn’t a secret I find terror in memory

Our thoughts are a secret. Unless we talk about em. But we don’t. Because we feel exposed and we don’t like to be exposed.

So we keep thinking and building more thoughts. Which we store away like memories. Fantasy clashes with reality and the mind is confused as to what is real.

History hexes us
I breathe again
History hexes us
I live again

Whatever happened in our past, it doesn’t mean our future is fixed. Each day is a new chance to breathe and live again.

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

Providence

“That’s (thrash metal) what developed my style as a child, and that’s what I grew up listening to. It’s funny that my newest music is showing my oldest techniques, but one of the reasons I wanted to do this solo band is there’s a huge side of my playing that I never got to put out there. It’s something that the other guys [in Alter Bridge] weren’t really into; they’re more classic and hard-rock guys and were never into speed metal, so I wanted to do a band that I could put my biggest influences on my playing into.”
Mark Tremonti

“Providence” is from the “Cauterize” album by Tremonti released in 2015.

It’s one of my favourite songs because of that riff that comes in at 2.25. Then it gets doubled, then the rest of the band comes in, then a cool vocal line comes in and then the shred begins..

For those that don’t know, Mark Tremonti became known to us via Creed, then Alter Bridge and in between Alter Bridge albums, he did Tremonti albums, while Alter Bridge vocalist, Myles Kennedy did albums and tours with Slash plus a solo album for good measure. If you want an example of hard working musicians and what it takes to survive in the current music industry, then look no further.

And another thing that Tremonti has become known for post Creed is his shredding skills. There wasn’t much of it in Creed, a little lick here and there. And I was like telling people, this dude can shred. He just needs the outlet.

Then he would do the interviews in Guitar World and Guitar (which was formerly known as Guitar for the Practicing Musician) and he would talk about his influences like Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rusty Cooley and how he likes thrash music and bands like Slayer, Celtic Frost and King Diamond.

“I consider these records to be the building blocks as far as my being a rock and metal guitarist,” he says. “They’re all classics, but they’ve really been important influences for me as I came up as a player.”

Mark Tremonti at Classic Rock

He lists “AC/DC – Back in Black” released in 1980 and he mentions how Angus Young has got such feel and that this album is wrapped around monster riffs and memorable solos.

“Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV” released in 1971 is next, and other than “Kashmir” not being on it, it’s a perfect album. And from a guitar playing point of view, it has riffs, it has folk open string tunings, it has classical fingerstyle picking and underpinning it all, is Jimmy Page’s swagger in how he plays and John Bonham’s behind the beat drumming.

“Boston – Boston” released in 1976 is part of everyone’s DNA. Every song on the album was more or less played on radio. This is the template for mainstream rock and roll music and underpinning it all is Tom Scholz’s quest for the perfect guitar tone, hence why guitar synthesizers became a big thing in the 80’s. Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere In Time” use em and so does “Turbo” from Judas Priest.

“Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction” released in 1987. As Tremonti states, “from top to bottom, it’s one of the most solid rock records ever made”. It didn’t change the game straight away but it prolonged the LA Sunset Strip for a few more years.

Finally “Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath” released in 1970 as nobody had this sound in the 70’s except for Tony Iommi.

And Tremonti sums it up by stating, “a lot of the metal that followed, like black metal, was directly influenced by Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi‘s riffs are and his guitar tone are so scary and gloomy. If anybody ever asks, ‘What does heavy sound like?’, this is the answer.”

“Shield what you love and hope it’s enough and pray that your providence comes”….

From “Providence”

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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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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Metal Journey

I grew up in a time when AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden were classified as metal acts. Black Sabbath was seen as a bit more extreme and darker. Venom even more so. But as the years went on, the way people viewed metal music had changed.

Suddenly it’s faster or groovier or math like or whatever else you like and depending on the act, you wouldn’t be able to understand a word they are saying, without referring to the lyrics. So on occasions I cannot resonate with all the acts today classed as metal.

But one thing I do know is that music labelled as “metal” is made for loyalists.

You hook in a fan, they would be along for the ride, dedicating their lives because they believe. And hearing a song just once, is never enough. To become a fan of an artist, it meant you had to invest time and be prepared to take the journey.

Recently the Evergrey album became a journey, exploring the depths of darkness, depression and hope. Every 13 years, the Tool Comet comes past Earth and a new album drops and when it does, that in itself is a journey. Rival Sons took me on a journey deep into the Delta and Volbeat showed there is still life in streets of the 60s.

Take us on a journey and we are fans for life.

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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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