A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Dokken – Tooth And Nail

Elektra wanted to drop em. Lynch and Dokken wanted to drop each other. Croucier dropped them for Ratt. Werman dropped the producing gig because of the baggage that came with it. Lynch dropped in and out of the band a lot of times. Eventually Pilson dropped into the band to replace Croucier on the recommendation of Shrapnel Records boss Mike Varney. Michael Wagner dropped in to record the vocals, while Roy Thomas Baker dropped in to do the rest.

For a band threatened to be dropped, the production team was top notch in Werman, Roy Thomas Baker and Michael Wagner. And then you have the record deal that Don Dokken got by using the songs Lynch and Brown had written. Imagine being in a band where Don Dokken would get the money and then he would need to pay Lynch, Brown and Pilson.

But they had Q Prime Management in their corner. In Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch, Dokken had an influential team who could build them up into global superstars, organise the tours, the record deals, the funding, the video clips and what not.

The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.

The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.

“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. Released in 1984. The band recorded it and Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.

Then the album blew up.

Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.

“Without Warning” kicks it off the one/two punch, with its ominius minor key build, before it breaks into the frantic “Tooth N Nail”.

The song is written by Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and it is a definitive piece of hard rock and heavy metal. To me , the song is up there in the same throne room as the work that Randy Rhoads did with Ozzy.

Desperate living, driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall

What a lyric.

Dokken’s last chance. The hopes of a musical career are hanging in the balance.

Dokken delivered a speed metal anthem to open up their do or die album.

And with the rise of the “Guitar Hero”, George Lynch really announced his presence, when he delivered a Randy Rhoads inspired lead break that is reminiscent to “Flying High Again”.

Also isn’t it funny how in 1984, the same theme resonated. It was always that “us versus them” attitude. The “We’re Not Gonna Take It” message of Twisted Sister. In this case, “Tooth and Nail” is a protest song against the record label that wanted to drop them.

Seriously, what kind of life is it, when someone has so much power to make or break a career. But that is exactly what the recording business came to be. A business with gatekeepers who could crush dreams or make dreams. Like “Chainsaw Charlie” in “The Crimson Idol”. Or like “Mr Recordman” from Ugly Kid Joe.

MTV took the artists from the magazines and brought them into our lounge rooms. And it was free. Yeah I know there was radio, but if people wanted information on artists, they had to buy magazines or their albums. Suddenly, their TV set was doing it all for them. The reason why blank VHS cassettes sold like crazy was music and movies. People dubbed/taped their favourite clips from TV or from VHS to VHS.

“”Just Got Lucky” written by Lynch and Pilson came next and it was the single that announced the arrival of the album but it didn’t get as lucky as the label wanted it to on the charts. George Lynch’s playing is excellent.

“Heartless Heart” written by Brown, Lynch and Pilson deals with a heartless baby who lied.

And finally, lead singer Don Dokken gets a song writing credit for the side 1 closer “Don’t Close Your Eyes” co-written with Lynch and Pilson. Lyrically it could have been used for the first “Nightmare On Elm Street” movie.

“When Heaven Comes Down” is another Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition. This time they veer into heavy metal territory.

Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame

Again, when you don’t have the pressure to write to a formula and when you throw everything against the wind, you end up with something great. In this case the subject matter is darker. It is not the usual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

“Into the Fire” is a Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition and this is more in line with the LA Glam sound hence the reason why it became a single.

“Bullets to Spare” is written by the band and seriously it’s terrible lyrically, linking bullets to spare to a certain substance that comes out of a male.

“Alone Again” is a Don Dokken and Jeff Pilson composition and for a power ballad it is wicked.

How good is that solo section?

It is a song within a song lead break.

“Turn On the Action” is another speed metal song by the Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition.

I’m looking over my shoulder
I’m running reckless through the night
Forever young not getting older
Satisfaction guaranteed tonight

Who didn’t do something naughty or slightly illegal in their youth and when we made our great escape, we laughed but constantly looked over our shoulder in case someone was chasing us.

“Tooth And Nail” was released at the right time of the hard rock movement and within 12 months it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. It paved the way for Dokken to become a household name.

On “Tooth And Nail”, Pilson is a co-writer on all of the 10 tracks and he is the true unsung hero of this album, the glue between George Lynch and Don Dokken. And if you listen to the album, you will hear speed metal (“Tooth And Nail” and “Turn On The Action”, heavy metal (“Don’t Close Your Eyes”, “When Heaven Comes Down” and “Bullets To Spare”), hard rock (“Just Got Lucky” and “Heartless Heart”), ballads (“Alone Again”) and mixtures of all those styles in (“Into The Fire”).

And while Lynch got a lot of press and front covers in the guitar mags, and Don Dokken got a lot of press and covers in Hit Parader, Metal Edge, Faces and what not, the real hero is Jeff Pilson.

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

1996 – Part 2.1: Tool – Aenima

“We’ve never been a radio friendly band, which is three minutes, a three minute song. Our label always wants us to edit songs and we refuse to do that.

We grew up in a time when all our favourite albums by bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd weren’t quite radio friendly.

They were working out a lot of emotions in their music, and as long as it took for them to record the songs, whether it was three minutes or 12 or 24 or a whole side of an album, that was fine. We’re sort of getting back to that approach.”
Adam Jones – Tool; Guitar World – August 1996

“Aenima” is the follow up to the platinum selling “Undertow”. That album spawned the single “Sober” and a memorable video involving a creepy little meat puppet guy.

Released in 1996, but I heard it a year later.

It was such an eye opening album for me. Musically and sonically. An hour and 17 minutes in length. Pushing the limits of time on a CD.

And people responded. 3x Platinum in Australia and the U.S.

It’s also the first album to feature bassist Justin Chancellor, replacing Paul D’Amour, who became a victim of indie guilt as the band was getting bigger then D’Amour was comfortable with.

Chancellor joins guitarist Adam Jones, vocalist Maynard James Keenan and drummer Danny Carey. And this version of the band would go on to remain the same to this day.

Another big change is Dave Bottrill producing in place of Sylvia Massey. Jones in various interviews said he would never work with Massey again. They had outgrown what she could offer.

“Stinkfist”

Written by Keenan, Jones, Carey and the departed bassist Paul D’Amour.

The general impression I got from the lyrics (“finger deep inside the borderline”, “knuckle deep inside the borderline”, “elbow deep inside the borderline”) and the title is that the song is about “fisting” but other interpretations mentioned that is about getting your hands dirty with hard work.

A weird effect is added to the guitar for the intro just before the heavy distorted groove riff fades in. Watching em live, I saw how powerful this groove riff is, as a sea of bodies swayed and jumped in unison with it.

At 3.30 a different riff and groove comes in which makes me want to break my desk in half.

And by the end of the song, Maynard is “shoulder deep inside the borderline” as he tells the person to relax, turn around and take his hand.

Okay.

“Eulogy”

Also written by Keenan, Jones, Carey and D’Amour.

Another weird effect starts it off, which sounds like it’s coming from drum pads. But it’s musical. It percolates as it builds and at 1.58 the song starts. The bass is playing a middle eastern like bass riff while the guitar is jamming on a pedal point. Maynard is singing through a loudspeaker while Carey sets a solid foundation.

When the Chorus riff kicks in at 2.40, its powerful and electric, a complete contrast to the subdued verses.

Make sure you check out the section from 6.10, when Maynard is singing “don’t you step out of line”. Allow the power of the music to fill you.

“H.”

Also written by Keenan, Jones, Carey and D’Amour. It was the song that hooked me in. The fuzzed out groove in the intro had me turning the volume knob higher. But it’s the King Crimson and Pink Floyd like verses that got me to pick up the guitar to learn it.

I don’t know lyrically what it is all about, but from the various interpretations I have read, it’s got to do with those angels or devils sitting on your shoulder, that whole Ego and Id and Super Ego argument from Sigmund Freud.

Venomous voice, tempts me,
Drains me, bleeds me,
Leaves me cracked and empty.
Drags me down like some sweet gravity.

Which part do we allow to control us?

Which voice do we listen to?

When the Chorus kicks in. Its powerful and head banging.

Then there is the “I don’t mind” section from 4.50. Check it out.

“Forty Six &2”

Now we get to the first song on the album that is written by the band that recorded it, which is Keenan, Jones, Carey and Chancellor.

And what a way for Justin Chancellor to announce himself.

The bass riff to start off this song.

Wow.

If you like “Stockholm Syndrome” from Muse, then you’ve heard Tool. If you like “Home” and “The Great Debate” from Dream Theater then you’ve heard Tool. If you like “Live Or Die” from Reach then you’ve heard Tool. This riff spawned a lot of songs across metal, hard rock, melodic rock and progressive rock.

And the title.

Doesn’t it make you curious. It sure made me curious from the outset. It’s so bizarre.

So, if you like theories then check this one out from Carl Jung. The premise is humans would deviate from the current state of human DNA which contains 44 autosomes and two sex chromosomes. The next step of evolution would likely result in human DNA being reorganized into 46 autosomes and two sex chromosomes. And by doing so, it changes everything. Check out people’s views on 46 and 2.

Change is coming.
Now is my time.
Listen to my muscle memory.
Contemplate what I’ve been clinging to.
Forty-six & 2 ahead of me.

“Hooker With A Penis”

I met a boy wearing Van, 501, And a dope Beastie T,
Nipple rings, New tattoos that claimed that he Was OGT,
Back from ’92, From the first EP.
And in between sips of Coke he told me that he thought we were sellin’ out,

The song refers to a fan who accused the band of selling out after their first EP.

I sold out long before you’d ever even heard my name
I sold my soul to make a record, dipshit, then you bought one

Truth right there.

Before anyone accuses a band of selling out, remember they had to sell their rights for a very long time just so people could hear them in the first place.

“Jimmy”

A character from an earlier song on “Undertow”.

Eleven and she was gone.
Eleven is when we waved good-bye.
Eleven is standing still,
Waiting for me to free him,
By coming home.

The ghost known as Eleven is waiting to show him the truth. Very different to “Charlotte The Harlot” and “22 Acacia Avenue”. By the 90’s Tool was singing about “Prison Sex” and “Jimmy”.

“Pushit”

Another song written by the “Undertow” band in Keenan, Jones, Carey and D’Amour.

The title is a combination of “Put Shit”.

How good is the intro riff?

When the drums come in, they set a slow percolating groove. The song could be a non-identical twin of “H.” musically.

Pushing and shoving
Pushing me
There’s no love in fear

Can the song be as simple as an argument in a relationship and that the relationship ends with one saying to the other “I love you” while they claw at their throat. Because it can’t end in no other way.

“Aenima”

An earthquake comes to wash away the fake and superficial people of Los Angeles. This one is also written by the “Undertow” version of the band, in Keenan, Jones, Carey and D’Amour. New bassist Chancellor had to audition with this song.

The title Ænima is a combination of the words ‘anima’ (Latin for ‘soul’ and associated with the ideas of “life force”, and a term often used by psychologist Carl Jung) and ‘enema’, the medical procedure involving the injection of fluids into the rectum.

Take whatever meaning you want from that.

Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away
Any fucking time, any fucking day
Learn to swim, I’ll see you down in Arizona bay.

And the band goes to town against everything that is celebrity culture, drug addicts, rappers and even Scientology (“Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones”) and asking Mother Earth to just wash em all away

“Third Eye”

The spiritual “Third Eye”.

Can magic mushrooms be the key to opening the third eye?

You have 13 minutes and 50 seconds to find out.

Crank it, take some drugs and enjoy.

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Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – May 31 to June 6

4 Years Ago (2017)

Ready An’ Willing” came out on 31 May in 1980. In 2017 it was its 37 year anniversary. Just recently it had it’s 41st birthday.

Like many others, my Whitesnake fandom started with the 1987 album. I went forward with them and the “Slip Of The Tongue” period and backwards after that.

But I had heard “Fool For Your Loving” as the B-side track to the 7 inch single of “Give Me All Your Love”. And eventually I got the album it was on.

I believe that most metal and hard rock fans have relatively wide musical tastes. A lot of times we come across music that doesn’t necessarily form part of our normal listening habits, but we are still happy with it and enjoy it. The saying normally goes; meet a person rooted in metal and you will find other non-metal music that form their listening habits.

And I wrote about my rambles and thoughts here.

Which lead to the “One Riff To Rule Em All” post.

The “One Riff To Rule Them All” is a perfect example of how a lot of songs can have the same riff conceptually and still be able to stand on their own.

The riff is heard in “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest released in 1978, in “Power And The Glory” from Saxon released in 1983, in “Stand Up And Shout” from Dio released in 1983, the intro and main riff in “Two Minutes To Midnight” from Iron Maiden released in 1984 and the main riff to “Skin O My Teeth” by Megadeth released in 1992.

A small variation of “the riff to rule them all” morphed into “Welcome To Hell” from Venom released in 1981.

And this morphed into “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue released in 1983 and became known as the Sunset Riff. So it was no surprise that other Sunset guitarists started using it.

“Young Girls” from Dokken in 1983 and “Tell The World” from Ratt, also have it.

Fans of Kiss smiled when they heard “Sex Type Thing” from Stone Temple Pilots. The main riff is influenced by “War Machine”.

Music is and always will be derivative. Enjoy.

8 Years Ago (2013)

I was appreciating the lyrics of Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch.

Did you hear the one about me giving a shit?Cause if I ever did I don’t remember it.

I shared a photo of my Dream Theater collection. The soundtrack to my life.

And I was putting out Nostradamus like predictions about what would happen with certain bands and I was terrible with all of em.

I watched “The Great Gatsby” which got me googling about it and I was surprised to read that author Scott Fitzgerald, started planning the novel in 1923 and when the book is released in 1925, it sells poorly.

In 1940, Fitzgerald died, seeing himself as a failure and believing his work is forgotten. And at the time of his death, “The Great Gatsby” had sold only 25,000 copies. By 2013, “The Great Gatsby” had sold over 25 million copies worldwide and it still sells 500,000 copies annually.

And I wrote about “The Pirate Bay” and how it was still operating after so many raids and web blockades. And I imagined an alternative history if the music and movie labels purchased the technology in 2003 when it started operating.

I was listening to Dave Nadolski who has a voice similar to Chris Daughtry.

For those who don’t know, Dave Nadolski is the lead singer of the band Under The Flood.

Under The Flood have been doing the hard roads since forming in 2005 by brother’s Matt (guitars) and Dave (vocals) Nadolski.

The first album, “The Witness” was released in May 2008. “Alive In The Fire” was released in June 2010 and “A Different Light” in February 2012.

And I felt they would break through like Shinedown and Chris Daughtry did but they didn’t and I haven’t heard anything new from em since 2013.

“Revenge” made Kiss relevant again so I wrote my thoughts on it.

And I reminisced how I felt every time “Lick it Up” came on TV. It made me stop and watch. This was all about the music. The band had removed their make-up and they needed to make a statement. That crunchy and distorted guitar from Vinnie Vincent is what makes the song roll.

And I did another douche blog post on Mike Portnoy because he did nothing wrong except change bands from Adrenaline Mob to Winery Dogs but I knew it would be clickbait.

Douchebag posts are not what I would want the site to be so I stopped doing em. But then I blasted “Supercollider” from Megadeth. Lol.

Apart from the opener, “Kingmaker” and the cover, “Cold Sweat” from Thin Lizzy, I didn’t like it. For me to say that, it’s a big thing. If anything, I’m a Mustaine Fanboy. But the post then went on a tangent as to why are creators still following the old rules.

Since I was listening to a lot of a Five Finger Death Punch, I wanted to show my appreciation to Kevin Churko, the unsung hero behind the band.

And from Five Finger Death Punch to Imagine Dragons.

How good is “It’s Time”?

“It’s Time” and “Demons” are two songs that are just stuck in my head. They are catchy and they have enough rock in them to get my attention and keep it. But they haven’t done anything remotely close to those songs.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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

2001 – Part 2.5: System Of A Down – Toxicity

Guitar World (September 2001 issue): What guitarists have been most inspirational to you?

Daron Malakian: Dave Murray of Iron Maiden and Randy Rhoads. The thing about Maiden’s solos was they were melodic, tasteful and easier to play than Yngwie Malmsteen’s. But as much as I loved Randy Rhoads or Eddie Van Halen when I was young, I still never wanted to play like them. I always wanted to play like myself.

The answer made me depart with $20 for the “Toxicity” album. But System Of A Down took me a while to get into.

This band is capable of delivering whacked out but accessible instrumental passages, enormous riffs and bone shaking grooves, augmented by a vocalist with a style which is hard to describe.

“Toxicity” came out in September 2001 with Rick Rubin overseeing the production. The terror attacks couldn’t stop the album from selling and going Platinum within 2 weeks in the U.S.

In Australia, we made it 5x platinum. It was basically huge.

Let’s start with my favourites.

“Aerials”

I call it “Whisper A Prayer For The Dying” as the clean tone arpeggio riff in dropped D reminds me of the Coverdale/Page song. This familiarity made it a favourite straight away.

Hang around until the 2.30 minute mark, when that intro riff is played with power chords and Serj starts singing “Aerials, in the sky”. It’s powerful and a sing along.

Aerials in the sky
When you lose small mind
You free your life

“Toxicity”

The power of the music and the drumming.

Serj is again delivering a killer vocal.

Conversion, software version 7.0
Looking at life through the eyes of a tire hub

How can you not like it?

No one was writing shit like this.

At the 2.40 minute mark, this Iron Maiden like riff comes in, which they then jam on.

“Chop Suey”

It opens with an acoustic guitar strummed riff, then the drums come in and a Spanish flamenco like feel is created. Then the madness starts when the distortion riff kicks in.

And the verses.

WTF..

The way the vocal line is delivered, it just doesn’t make sense. Then the pre chorus kicks in and it’s all melodic and somehow it all hangs together.

But it’s a song about suicide and they are trying to capture the frantic killer thought process about putting on your make up and leaving the keys on the table.

But the outro.

Wow.

Serj is nailing those melodies and when you think he couldn’t get higher, he goes higher. And Malakian is there as well, harmonizing. At 3.27, it ends. So I pressed repeat on my CD player just to hear it again.

And now for the rest.

“Prison Song”

It’s the opening track.

It has clean tone singing, rapping, death metal growls, high pitched falsetto funk and talking. They cover so much ground with this song.

They’re trying to build a prison for you and me

The private prison system needs inmates, so there are people doing time for minor drug offenses instead of being treated for their addictions.

Serj always writes about politics and this is basically a song on the three strikes law. The three-strikes law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously been convicted.

“Needles”

I usually skip it.

Then again just listen to it, as the lyrics talk about pulling a tapeworm out of your arse.

Which Serj has explained is symbolism for releasing yourself from the toxic control of society.

Okay.

Next.

“Deer Dance”

This is what SOAD is about. Weirdness and still making it sound like a rock or metal song. At some stages it sounds like a Rammstein cut, with weird vocal lines.

Then at 1.41, this palm muted riff kicks in, and a vocal line from Serj which is catchy.

“Jet Pilot”

The way the music sounds, if you play it with clarinets and accordions, it sounds like an Eastern European folk dance.

But in this case it’s all distorted and Serj’s manic vocal line brings a crazed intensity about wiring eyes of a horse on a jet pilot while he flew over the bay.

Yes.

“X”

It’s less than 2 minutes long. Actually the majority of the songs are short. It’s like SOAD knew that streaming is on its way and having shorter songs means that you get paid more.

For example, you still the same cents if the song is 2 minutes or 4 minutes or 8 minutes long. The only difference is that 2 minute song can be played a lot more within the hour than the 4 minute or 8 minute song.

Then again they did mention that The Beatles songs structures played a huge part in condensing these songs . And if you look at the times of The Beatles songs, most are under 3 minutes.

“Bounce”

A song about a pogo stick and orgies.

And Disney had no idea on the content when they used it for the family-friendly animated film “The Secret Life of Pets”.

“Forest”

It’s got this Dio “Gates Of Babylon” vocal melody when Serj sings “Why can’t you see that you are my child / Why don’t you know that you are my mind”.

“ATWA”

It’s melodic and heavy and the vocals are chaos personified.

“Science”

The riffs in this song are excellent, hard rock like.

And the vocal melody is hypnotic, about science failing the Earth and the people and how letting the reigns go is what faith is about, not control.

Make sure you stick around to the 1.40 mark. That whole exotic feel.

“Shimmy”

It’s like classical and punk which rhymes education and fornication and indoctrination with nation.

“Psycho”

It movies between aggression and melody.

Like the lyrics which go “Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy”.

“Arto”

An instrumental using traditional Armenian instruments.

Check out the first three songs I mentioned and if you like then go deep and pull out that tapeworm.

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

The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – The Last Supper: Live at Hammerstein Ballroom (2006) DVD

This my second copy.

The first copy I gave to the drummer from a band I was in, along with “The Dirt” hardcover book and the “Rush In Rio” DVD. But when we had an argument, he wouldn’t return the items. So I repurchased “The Dirt” but this time in paperback, and this DVD. The Rush DVD price was extravagant when I was looking for it and I haven’t relooked since.

Now, live albums have been known to have a lot of studio overdubs or in some cases, total re-recording of some of the tracks in the studio. From what I can hear, nothing feels fixed or redone in a studio on this. So what you get, is a band that can deliver live, the chaos they create in the studio. If anything, I believe the guitars are tuned down ½ a step as Claudio’s voice was strained during this period. But man, he still delivers.

Coming into this release, Coheed and Cambria had released three studio albums, in “The Second Stage Turbine Blade”, “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” and “Good Apollo”. For the hardcore Coheed fans, yes, I’ve abbreviated the names of the album titles.

It’s the only live release with the original line up of Claudio Sanchez on vocals/guitars, Travis Stever on guitar and backing vocals, Michael Todd on bass and backing vocals and Josh Eppard on drums and backing vocals. Michael Petrak does additional percussion and Dave “Wavis” Parker is performing keyboards, backing vocals, some extra guitar and samples.

In a perfect world, the audio of this concert would be available on Spotify, but it isn’t. YouTube has the live concert footage and some of the YouTube users have created just the audio.

“In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”

A perfect opener. It’s just a bit faster than the studio recording, but hey, that’s why I love the live show. And the crowd gets involved with the who-oh-oh chant towards the end.

“Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”

This version is electrifying. Again, a bit sped up than the studio, but I feel the energy smack me in the face.

“Blood Red Summer”

It follows the poppy rock vibes of “Ten Speed” perfectly.

“The Crowing”

This version is a metal beast and this live version is my go to track for it. As mentioned previously, its downtuned a little bit more from the studio cut and it sounds menacing.

After the two pop rock songs in “Ten Speed” and “Blood Red Summer” the placement of this is perfect to get the live concert back into progressive and metal like territory.

“Wake Up”

One of the best ballads from Coheed and Cambria, and live, you just hear the clean tone electric guitar, Claudio’s voice and the crowd singling along with him. It’s chilling, emotive and perfect.

“Delirium Trigger”

From the debut album, the intensity of the song grabs my attention quickly. Hearing it played alongside songs from two of my favourite albums, works perfectly. The middle subdued section offers a calm before the song picks up again. With so much musical movements, nothing is lost and missed.

“A Favor House Atlantic”

It’s faster. When I watched the band live, this song is sing-a-long. You can’t make out the audiences here and you sort of lose the power of when Claudio drops out and the crowd sings. But the energy is still there. “Bye, bye, beautiful” alright.

“The Suffering”

The pop punk energy comes through. I wanted a bigger impact for the “wishing well, will you marry me” part but not all songs can be winners.

“Everything Evil”

I don’t think this song worked well live.

“Welcome Home”

The best cut and I like the sped up vibe of the song. And even though its quicker, the intensity of the vocals is still there. I would have loved to be able to hear the crowd cheering the who-oh-oh at the end.

“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”

At 14 minutes long, its eight minutes longer than the CD version and the jam aspect vibe they bring to this track is brilliant.

When there jamming the middle section lead break, they play this lead break that I swear comes from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” lead break.

And when they come out of the jam back into the normal song, its powerful and beautiful. The crash cymbals are smashing, the guitars are screaming and all hell is breaking loose as they finish off the concert.

In the end, “The Last Supper” leaves you wanting more of the Coheed and Cambria supper.

Rock out.

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

November 2020 – Part 6

Gene The Werewolf

“I Should’ve Known Better” appeared on my Release Radar playlist on Spotify. I remember hearing “Rock N Roll Animal” back when it came out in 2012 and liking it, but then I lost track of the band.

But when I went to the Spotify account and saw all these releases since 2012, well I went into a rabbit hole with it. The bands take on ZZ Top’isms, with the AC/DC blues riffs mixed with hard rock and southern rock is interesting.

“Love And Touch” is a single released in 2019 which was a quick save based on the riff.

The following songs are from “The Loner” album, released in 2016.

“Too Kool For Skool” is a ZZ Top like track in the verses. “The Loner” is a 12 bar blues romp. “Fortune And Fame” could have come from an AC/DC album.

The following songs are from the “Rock N Roll Animal” released in 2012.

“Wicked Love” needs to be listened to, to be appreciated. “I Only Wanna Rock N Roll” sounds like a certain song called “Long Way To Top (If You Want To Rock N Roll” and I like it. “Heart Of Steel” is one of those major key pop rock songs that I like. The title track, is a party anthem. “Light Me Up” is one hell of a ballad, a glorious collision between The Cars and hard rock.

“Give It Up” could have come from “Unmasked” or maybe there is more “Beat It” from Michael Jackson than Kiss.

The album closes with “The Ballad Of Gene”, an Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and Beatles mash up, about trying to make it.

It’s perfect.

But there is still more, “Make Love” is an iTunes bonus track, and it could have come from the pens of the Madden brothers.

David Lee Roth

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill” is Roth’s tribute to EVH. These dudes changed the game for hard rock music and EVH changed the game for all guitarists.

Press play and enjoy.

Doro

Doro is a powerhouse singer and Warlock was the vehicle for her voice to break into the lucrative U.S market back in the late 80’s.

And Warlock did have some success, but she built her career as Doro after Warlock.

I liked “All We Are” back then and when “All We Are” (The Fight Version) kicks off this 56 song, set called “Magic Diamonds – Best Of Rock, Ballads & Rare Treasures” I was all in because I haven’t heard much of Doro’s work after Warlock.

“Haunted Heart” gets me with the riffs, the vocal delivery and melody and the double kick metronomic drumming throughout the whole song.

“I Rule The Ruins” from the Warlock albums appears a few times, as a live version and as a classical version with all the guitars and bass played by violins and cellos. There is an excellent cover of “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” from “The Last In Line” album by Dio. And another bone crunching cover of “Nothing Else Matters”.

Raven

I never gave em a chance back in the day. But in 2020, I gave the “Metal City” album a listen and it was the title track that got me to press save.

And the rest of the tracks seemed interchangeable with each other, which is a good thing as it shows consistency.

And then “When Worlds Collide” started, with a Sabbath like groove as its foundation,

Durbin

From when I saw clips of James Durbin covering “You Got Another Thing Comin’” on American Idol many years ago, I became a fan and have followed his solo career and his time with Quiet Riot with interest. Now he has gone to Durbin, which is being promoted as a Dio like project.

“Kings Before You” is the pre-release track of this project which features, Phil Demmel on guitars and Chris Jericho on backing vocals and second verse duties.

Lyrically, it’s about castles, skies, horizons and wizards.

I’m interested to hear what comes next.

Joel Hoekstra’s 13

“Hard To Say Goodbye” is the first pre-release of Hoekstra’s next album release. This is in Night Ranger territory, which isn’t a surprise considering he spent time with em before joining Whitesnake.

Apart from crafting a great melodic rock song, Hoekstra uses it as a springboard to some superb guitar moments in the bridge before the solo and the solo itself.

I’m interested to hear what comes next.

David Hodges

I went into a rabbit hole with David Hodges.

Hodges, along with Ben Moody and Amy Lee wrote/co-wrote a monster album called “Fallen”. Then Moody and Hodges became a song writing team, writing songs for other artists and for themselves.

While none of these albums came out in November, I did give them time.

AVOX is an instrumental cinematic rock project between David Hodges and John Campbell. The album “The Fragile World” came out in 2010.

Opening song “The War” had this piano riff that kept on repeating while the guitars, drums and orchestra kept building. “The Fuse” borrows from that same template. “The Legacy” gets me thinking of the “Intermission” movie from Christopher Nolan. “The Breach” reminds of the first “Transformers” movie. “The Source” feels sad, yet hopeful.

Trading Yesterday is a band project, like a melancholic acoustic rock with different moods. They released “The Beauty And The Tragedy” album in 2004 and “More Than This” in 2011.

Songs from this project which made it to instant saves are “The Beauty And The Tragedy”, “She Is The Sunlight”, “World On Fire”, “Love Song Requiem”, “Shattered” and the haunting “For You Only”.

And five of these songs (except “World On Fire”) appear on the “More Than This” album.

“Revolution” opens the “More Than This” and this time around, the mood is still slower, but there are rocking guitars and busier drums. Like “Lifehouse”. “One Day” reminds me of “The Calling”.

Arrows To Athens is a band project that I am aware of. The “Kings And Thieves” album from 2011 is an essential rock album for me which I have covered on this blog before. Tracks like “Stars”, “Used To Be” and “Alive” are prefect. And then there is the six song “Exile” EP which was unknown to me.

And finally there are David Hodges albums.

These are made up of “The December Sessions” Volumes 1 to 5 albums, released separately over the years. “Volume 1” came out in 2011, “Volume 2” in 2013, “Volume 3” in 2015, “Volume 4” in 2016 and “Volume 5” in 2017.

And there EP’s. “Passengers: Sirens” and “Passengers: Weapons” came out in 2014. “Discrepancies In The Recollection Of Various Principles/Side A” and “Discrepancies In The Recollection Of Various Principles/Side B” came out in 2019. Also in 2019, a single release called “Waking Up With You” with Armin Van Buuren also came out.

Hodges is one hell of a talent.

Part 7 is coming up.

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

August 2020 – Part 4

Use My Voice – Evanescence

Amy Lee is a musician I would want around for a long time. The sound of her voice (which can be mournful, aggressive, rageful and happy) always gets me interested and the messages in the songs are genuine.

Relationships are difficult and they become even more difficult when one side tries to force their personality onto the other, speaking for them and even questioning them in a negative way in front of others.

Use your voice people, don’t suppress it. Its special and unique to you. This applies to everything in life and not just to relationships. Because no one is entitled to speak for you except you.

Space – Biffy Clyro

This band is hit and miss for me. They have me interested, then they lose me and then they get me again.

And this song has me back again about having a space in your heart for the special someone who is in and out of your life.

Maybe It’s Time – Sixx AM with guests

I liked this song when it appeared on their 2016 album “Prayers For The Blessed”.

It’s been redone now with a lot of guest vocalists to raise awareness of addiction and recovery.

“When I was young, I was dumb”

Indestructible. 

Getting old was never in my thoughts. 

Jumping out of moving cars, getting drunk and generally mucking around, sometimes dangerously, was bred out of pure boredom.

And not of all of us got out alive. People committed suicide and others got addicted to drugs, living a hard life right now with shakes and aliens in the fridge. 

“Maybe it’s time to deal with the pieces in my life”

There has to be a reawakening, a turning point. Some people believe they need to help you see it, but I believe you need to get to that point yourself.

For me, it was lying in a hospital bed with my foot broken and my face bruised and bleeding because I was drunk and jumped out of a moving car. I just had surgery to insert screws and a long road to recovery.

Cruel Hands Of Time – Tygers Of Pan Tang

It’s a crazy world we live in when “Tygers Of Pan Tang” are putting out some of their best music. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member left from the 80s.

The riffage on this song is straight from the Sunset strip and I’m pretty sure it’s from the fingers of Michael Crystal who has been in the band since 2013 and vocalist Jacopo Meille has some nice pipes, so the melodies are infectious.

Talk To Me – Apocalyptica with Lzzy Hale

These dudes from Finland have been on my radar since they covered Metallica songs on the cellos. And they have done everything, from the covers, the instrumental originals and the vocal originals.

This time they have Lzzy Hale, the best rock voice.

Satellites – Andy James

That chorus lead melody that kicks in at about the minute mark is emotive and the harmonies just add a nice complexity to it.

One of the best instrumental guitarists right now.

World On Fire – Daughtry

It’s so good to have Daughtry knocking on the door of hard rock again. He’s angry and the addictive melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings So when society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

The final part to August 2020 is coming up.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Cerebus


It was a random purchase at a record fair in the 90’s. The bin had a large sign that said 7 records for $10.

How could I refuse that offer?

The dystopian landscape cover painting got my attention, as its reminded me of various movies.

I dropped the needle and I was pleasantly surprised.

I was hearing early Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and Riot.

The raw production and the treble biased mix had me thinking of those Metallica albums. Which means that the bass player is hardly heard, which is a shame as Eric Burgess is the main songwriter in the band.

Cerebus is an American act. There is also a deathcore band with the same name that came out in the 2000’s who have nothing to do with this 80’s version.

They released a Demo in 1985, a full length album “Too Late To Pray” in 1986 on a label called New Renaissance Records, an EP in 1987 called “Like a Banshee On The Loose” on a local North Carolina label, another demo in 1988, another EP in 1991 called “Regression Progression” on a local label and a best of album in 2019 called “From Beyond The Vault Door” on a label called “Heaven And Hell”.

And their label “New Renaissance Records” was created by Ann Boleyn after her band Hellion had a record in the British Music Charts, but was unable to find an American deal. So Boleyn sold her car and musical instruments to fund the initial pressings of compilation albums and eventually full releases by bands. King Kobra (the band founded by Carmine Appice and Mark Free) was an act that was on the label as well.

So the label signed the band to an 2 album deal, but the label offered no tour support. Cerebus played an extensive US tour on their own budget but going to Europe proved impossible as they didn’t have the means, which is a shame, as the majority of their sales were in Germany and Western Europe. After the U.S run of shows, the band and label parted ways.

The band kept writing and releasing, but in a market dominated by gatekeepers, they needed a label and a distributor. Which didn’t come as easy as they thought.

And as the EP releases kept coming, the band kept tweaking their sound, moving from their Iron Maiden/Saxon style to a more Deep Purple, Whitesnake and UFO sound.

Running Out Of Time

Its speed metal and those harmony leads from Andy Huffine and Chris Pennell (RIP) in the solo section sound like they came from a Saxon album.

The vocal lines from Scott Board are like the chainsaw vocals of James Hetfield from the first two Metallica albums, with the Rob Halford banshee wail.

And the double bass drumming from Joby Barker just keeps pummelling along.

Taking Your Chances

A different style of cut, in the hard rock vein with a melodic rock style chorus.

Distant Eyes

Acoustic arpeggios kick it off with a guitar solo before it explodes into a UFO style cut merging “Lights Out” and “Too Hot To Handle”.

Too Late To Pray

It also starts off with acoustic guitar arpeggios, before it moves into a military style drum beat. Then the harmony guitars kick in, but it’s all part of a long intro, before the main song kicks in with a head banging riff.

And the vocal line is ball tearing.

Rock The House Down

It has the “One Riff To Rule Em All”, which a lot of people would know as “Two Minutes To Midnight” but it goes back all the way to the 70’s.

Catch Me If You Can

Sounds like “Running Out Of Time”.

Talk Is Cheap

It sounds like “Running Out Of Time”, but with no singing, and bass solos which you can actually hear.

Longing For Home

It has these “I Still Love You” arpeggios in the intro which I like.

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The Pirate Vault #11

The Mix Tape

I did this mix tape as an album of songs I like from different artists, as I wanted to get the feel of those songs into my song writing.

Kiss – I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)

It’s a perfect album opener with a fast palm muted and aggressive riff. It’s a Paul Stanley and Desmond Child composition, appearing on the “Animalize” album released in 1984.

Y&T – Temptation

For track 2, it was always the most accessible tune, so here is a pop rock tune, with big harmonies.

Y&T worked hard on A&M Records and built a career. Then the big labels came calling and Geffen Records got the signature for a lot of money. And Y&T also got a label rep, who told them what songs should be worked on and what songs shouldn’t.

This one is written by Al Pitrelli and Bruno Ravel during the early Danger Danger days, with Phil Kennemore adding some lyrics and it appeared on their 1987 album “Contagious”, which Geffen earmarked to sell a lot to cover the costs of the Whitesnake 87 album.

Kansas – One Man, One Heart

The Kansas tracks on this mix tape are from the Steve Morse era of Kansas between 1986 and 1988. Steve Morse was involved in the “Power” album released in 1986 and “In The Spirit Of Things” released in 1988.

These two tracks are from the “In The Spirit Of Things” album and even though I’m a Steve Morse fan, he wasn’t involved in writing em.

This one is written by Mark Spiro and Dan Huff (the same Dan Huff from Giant) and what you get is a melodic rock song, worthy of a place on the imaginary album.

Kansas – Stand Beside Me

This one is written by Mark Jordan and Bruce Gaitsch and it’s like the ballad track.

Hericane Alice – I Walk Alone

This band was good and this track is a stompy 12/8 bluesy romp, perfect to close off Side 1 of the imaginary album.

Kiss – Love Gun

You open up Side 2 with another aggressive album opener. Can’t go wrong with a Kiss cut.

Sammy Hagar – Remember The Heroes

This is a very underrated song from the mighty Sammy Hagar. It appeared on the “Three Lock Box” album, released in 1982 and Jonathan Cain (who was having an unbelievable run of high profile songs with Journey and other artists) is a co-writer with Sammy Hagar.

Kansas – Silhouettes In Disguise

It’s from the “Power” album released in 86. This track is written by Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. And it’s the fast past riff that hooks me.

Kansas – Three Pretenders

This cut is also from the “Power” album. This track is written by Billy Greer, Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. The way the guitar and synth chords work in the intro hooks me in and the vocal line from Steve Walsh is perfect.

Bad English – Possession

And it closes with a melodic rock AOR song.

Side B

And here is another take of an imaginary album.

Blue Murder – We All Fall Down

Another fast and aggressive opener to kick off the album about Louie who lost his daughter behind the tracks, as the sweet brown sugar took her.

John Sykes pulled out his Phil Lynott experiences vocally and lyrically.

David Coverdale – The Last Note Of Freedom

Hans Zimmer wrote the music and Billy Idol wrote the lyrics. I’ve read that David Coverdale has been credited as well, but I am pretty sure he wasn’t credited on the original Days Of Thunder soundtrack.

It’s a melodic rock gem, bordering between, pop and rock.

George Lynch – We Don’t Own This World

The Nelson twins sing on this track, and man, they deliver.

It’s actually written by Pilson and Lynch, so it’s definitely got their Dokken vibe, but the Nelson twins are the difference. It’s a melodic rock hit with an intro riff that reminds me of “Women From Tokyo” from Deep Purple.

Dream Theater – Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

Its Dream Theater bringing their U2 and Marillion influences to their form of progressive hard rock, and it works so good to close Side 1.

Vince Neil – The Edge

The side 2 opener is fast, a bit progressive in its structure as it moves between Spanish/Flamenco guitar riffs to metal Uli Jon Roth style of riffs. Steve Stevens played some of this best riffs with Vince Neil.

Stryper – Calling For You

After an aggressive opener, you always need a little melody. And Stryper is at their melodic best on this song.

Tesla – Cry

From the excellent “Bust A Nut” album released in 1994.

And for those who said that grunge killed hard rock artists, well it didn’t kill Tesla.

In a volatile market, made hostile by the record labels who dumped hard rock bands and then had their puppets in the press lambast the style, Tesla, stood tall and worked hard touring on this album and even got a certification in the process.

And then the labels tried to kill em off.

Megadeth – Tornado Of Souls

This is a fast rocker and the solo from Friedman is a “wow” moment.

Aerosmith – Living On The Edge

The simple riff in D, that just keeps repeating is addictive and the vocal melody from Tyler captures you.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell II – Back Into Hell

The longest song titles in the world brought the mighty Loaf back into our lives.

And even though he released 4 or 5 albums after “Bat Out Of Hell”, all of those albums ceased to exist and it was like his career was “Bat Out Of Hell” 1 and 2.

The Jimi Hendrix Story / Def Leppard – Pyromania

A friend of mine had a Jimi Hendrix compilation and I recorded it over a few different tapes. I can’t even remember what was on this side before I taped Hendrix over it.

And of course, “Pyromania” on side 2, a perfect Walkman companion. This Def Lep album is the perfect bridge between the 70’s British Rock and Glam artists merged with the NWOBHM and the LA Sunset Strip.

I also added “King Of Fools” from Twisted Sister, “Sleepin In The Fire” from WASP and “Love Gun” from Kiss to the end of it. I think you get the drift that I really liked “Love Gun”.

I even wrote a song called “Love Gin” and “Cold Gun”. I know, merging two Kiss song titles is pretty desperate.

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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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