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

1983 – V – The Midnight Madness Script Is Built To Destroy While The Victims Of The Future Cry A Jesters Tear

Prior to MTV, we had radio in many different formats. Rock stations played rock, metal stations played metal late at night, top 40 played top 40 and so forth. But MTV played everything and suddenly a monoculture was created. Without warning, AOR was fighting with hard rock, glam rock, metal, hip hop, dance and every other format for people’s attention. And like all changes, some people win and some people lose.

The once trusted filter known as the Radio DJ was replaced by the MTV DJ. However in time, MTV became a PR machine with songs pre-programmed to suit those who paid the most. So we doubled down to the music magazines to be our filters and tell us what’s good.

For me it was;

  • Faces, Hit Parader and Circus up until 1988.
  • Guitar World from 1986 to current day.
  • Guitar For The Practicing Musician from 1987 to when it was absorbed by Guitar One and then until Guitar One was absorbed by Guitar World in the early 2000’s.
  • Metal Edge between 1989 to about 1998.
  • RIP for a few years around 1989 and 1990 and I think it also went bust.
  • Hot Metal (an Australian mag) from 1989 to when it ended and in the early 2000’s Metal Hammer became a filter.
  • Kerrang was another mag I purchased here and there.

But when the internet came and took our attention, changes happened again. Suddenly, our filters couldn’t be trusted anymore, because they had to compete with the noise. Instead of focusing on long form journalism, they focused on page visits and crappy articles.

So who do we trust in 2017?

Do we trust the playlists of the streaming service?

  • Spotify’s music playlists feel like they are based on which marketing team pays the most.
  • Who makes them?
  • Is it an algorithm or an actual person?

We live in an era where everyone wants to be a star however the creators of these playlists are unknown. If the streaming company wants us to trust these filters, shouldn’t we know who makes the lists?

Do we have any filters these days to believe in?

When I started writing what 1983 meant to me, I thought it would be easy as I had a lot of good music to write about. And that proved to be the problem. Here are parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Say hello to Part 5 and I still feel I am scratching the surface with this year. Maybe once I am done, I might go and do some stuff on the 60’s and 70’s music that made its way to my ears during the 80’s and 90’s. It would be much quicker than the 80’s.

Night Ranger – Midnight Madness
For some insane reason, “Midnight Madness” is not on Spotify. Actually, apart from “Dawn Patrol”, the whole commercially successful period of the band is not on Spotify.

Maybe some of those albums are close to an RIAA certification and they want to get there with sales, not streams. Maybe they are in dispute with the label over how they should be paid, like Def Leppard. Whatever the reason is, the legitimate paying fans get ripped off again, while the whole Night Ranger discography is on YouTube and pirate sites for free. It’s a typical recording industry story. The enemy is the service (Spotify) and the public. The majority of music consumers don’t want to own music. Access is king. Hell, people don’t even want to own their homes anymore. Once upon a time, a person who owned their home, ruled. Then the banks lost billions, the economies plummeted, people lost their job and suddenly people’s homes were taken away. And the ones that still own homes have their kids, who are approaching their 30’s, still living with them.

By 1983, Night Ranger went from an opening act to a headlining act with the release of their second album “Midnight Madness” album. And everyone was thinking how the hell did that happen?

He (Michaelangelo) was a promising but little-known artist until he produced the “Pieta” at age twenty-four. People called the “Pieta” pure genius, but its creator begged to differ. “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery,” Michelangelo later said, “it would not seem so wonderful at all.”
Dan Coyle – The Talent Code

The road is long and heavy in music. Age and experience count. The musical roots of each member goes back to the mid/late 60’s. Jack Blades along with Brad Gillis experienced fame in America with funk rockers Rubicon in 1978, however by 1979, Rubicon was no more. They had to start again. Lucky for them, Kelly Keagy was Rubicon’s touring drummer and the band Stereo was formed.

But Stereo ceased to be when a roommate of Blades called Alan Fitzgerald (bassist for Montrose and keyboardist for Sammy Hagar) suggested they form a rock band. Alan also knew a virtuoso guitarist called Jeff Watson from Sacramento. The band Ranger was formed in 1980; a supergroup of lifers, committed to be musicians.

“Dawn Patrol” came out in 1982, and it got some traction with the single “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”. As the future looked bright, their record label Boardwalk went under. In the space of half a year, Night Ranger had released their debut album, got traction and then suddenly, they had no record deal.

However, Night Ranger had a believer in former Boardwalk vice-president Bruce Bird, who organised a deal with Irving Azoff to sign the group to MCA. Azoff at the time became chairman of MCA, a position he held until 1989. In the process, Azoff turned the label around. Those MCA losses became profits and Azoff’s skills at finding talent and pairing the talent with other talent to make hit records became the stuff of legend. Night Ranger would be the first signing to Bird’s new imprint under MCA, Camel Records Inc.

“Midnight Madness” came out in 1983. Think about the ages of the guys in the band. Jack Blades is 29, Brad Gillis is 26, Jeff Watson is 27, Kelly Keagy is 31 and Alan Fitzgerald is 34. The overnight success came in the form of the members paying their dues in other bands since the start of the Seventies. They had the experience and the 10,000 hours and in 1983, luck came in the form of music television. MTV would turn club acts into arena acts instantly on the back of a song, and “Sister Christian” along with “(You Can Still) Rock In America” became the songs that launched Night Ranger.

(You Can Still) Rock in America
The album kicks off with this Jack Blades and Brad Gillis composition about going out, having a good time and rocking it all night long. It was Jack Blades response to all of the magazines of the time, stating “Rock Is Dead”.

“I was just sitting around in my hotel room in Springfield, Illinois, in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s house, and we were on tour with Sammy Hagar. We were on tour behind our first album, doing the Dawn Patrol tour, and we were with Sammy, he was out playing his Three Lock Box tour, so it was ’83. We were sitting in this bad little Travelodge, that motel that has that sleeping bear with the sleeping hat on top of it. And we had a day or two off, and I went and bought a bunch of rock magazines. And at that time all these magazines were saying, “Rock is dead.” Because we were still coming out of the Cars, and Blondie, and A Flock of Seagulls, and Haircut 100, and Boy George, and all this kind of stuff. And all these magazines were saying that basically rock and roll as we know it – Deep Purple, all that kind of stuff – was dead, and all this new music was coming out. At least that’s what they were trying to jam down everybody’s throat to convince everybody that this is the music you should listen to; the Thompson Twins, the Cure, everything that wasn’t like real rock and roll. But everywhere we were playing with Hagar, it was thousands of people out there and everybody was just rocking and rolling and screaming, and we were just jamming. And I’m like, Man, I don’t get this. Everybody’s saying rock is dead, but as far as I’m concerned, you can still rock in America.”
JACK BLADES 

How do you follow-up this song?

You don’t.

You change tact and go into the melodic AOR Rock format, popularised by Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx.

Two Jack Blades compositions come next in “Rumours in the Air” and “Why Does Love Have to Change”.

Rumours In The Air
It starts off quietly as the volume swell lick that reminds me of “Cathedral” from Van Halen builds in volume. But it’s the keyboard groove that hooks me in.

Used to call me
By my first name
Now you never even call me at all
Used to say
I was your only flame
It was so simple
I believed it all

We are screwed. Relationships are tough to get and tough to keep going once the initial spark/lust factor dies away.

Now I hear
You’ve got a new friend and lover
Who keeps you warm
On the cool cool nights
There’s a rumor in the air
Don’t seem right

In 2017, there’s a text out there that don’t seem right.

And how good is the keyboard lick after the 1st chorus.

Why Does Love Have to Change

Why does love have to change (x3)

I always dug simple chorus lines.

The old place
Don’t seem the same anymore
Yesterday’s dreams
Lie discarded on the bedroom floor

I understand that the song uses the word “love” in a relationship setting however I didn’t. I connected love with passion. Like a love to be a professional footballer, or a professional musician. And as we grow older, life events get in the way, and we are asking, “why does our love of music have to change?”

Sister Christian
It’s the closer to side 1. The single. The tour-de-force. This is the era of the LP, when sequencing mattered. And for Night Ranger, it was a perfect four punch combination knockout.

This song was not a favourite of mine when it came out, and I’m still not a fan of it because the lyrics fail to connect with me, however I understand it’s place in hard rock and MTV history while the song went on to become the high school prom graduation song that year for millions of U.S kids.

The song is composed by Kelly Keagy about his sister Christy. A demo was recorded for “Dawn Patrol” but it wasn’t used.

Side 2 opens up with two more Jack Blades compositions in “Touch of Madness” and “Passion Play”.

Touch Of Madness
She say’s
“I get high when I want to
Don’t ya think you need it too”
I need a touch, I need a touch of madness

All of the religious leaders in the 80’s got it right, that the youth of the world had been seduced by the devil’s music. We liked to experiment and Mister Juana was a favourite.

When You Close Your Eyes
The big ballad written by Jack Blades, Alan Fitzgerald and Brad Gillis is next.

“I remember we were doing the Midnight Madness album. Kelly had written “Sister Christian” before, but we hadn’t put that on our first album for some reason or another, I don’t know why. So we were doing the second album, we had a bunch of songs done, and I was sitting in the back room of the recording studio, Image Recording, and I started playing this chorus on the piano…I started singing, “When you close your eyes, do you dream about me?” So I showed it to our keyboard player, Fitz (Alan Fitzgerald), and he started banging around with some stuff. And I showed it to Brad (Gillis), and we kind of worked it up with the band, but we didn’t have the lyrics. We recorded the music, and then we didn’t have the lyrics for, I think, several songs. And we were in Hollywood and there was a lot of distractions going on when we were cutting the record; the guys from Motley Crüe were down all the time at our studio, and we were always up at the Rainbow, and always running around. There was a lot going on, a lot of partying, everything like that. So I got on a plane and flew to my parents’ house in Scottsdale, Arizona. I flew there late Thursday evening, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday I just sat around a pool. It was beautiful sunny days, and I sat around a pool where I could just focus with nobody around me, and no chatter going on, no parties. And I ended up writing, finishing up the lyrics to 3 songs, one of which was “When You Close Your Eyes.”
JACK BLADES

Chippin’ Away
Written by Jack Blades and Brad Gillis.

Chipping away
At my heart every day
You got me
Hanging by my window

Musically and melodically it’s catchy, but lyrically it made no connection.

Let Him Run
The album closer, written by Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy and Jeff Watson.

Strap on your safety belt
Blazing in the sky
Thinking of nothing
No disguise

The end of Night Ranger happened with the success of “Midnight Madness.” Suddenly, the band was on the radar of the record label who wanted another “Midnight Madness” so they could capitalise on the cash. It came in “7 Wishes”, a carbon copy of the breakthrough album. Then Bon Jovi blew up the airwaves with “Slippery When Wet” and suddenly the labels wanted Night Ranger to write their own “Slippery When Wet” and to look like Bon Jovi in the process. Two years later, Jack Blades was in a new supergroup with Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent called Damn Yankees and a stripped down sound and look, while Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis released forgettable shred albums.

Gary Moore – Victims Of The Future
On 6 February 2017, it will be 6 years since Gary Moore passed away.

“My favourite of those is Wild Frontier because it was made just after Phil [Lynott] died. I was thinking about him a lot at the time, hence its Celtic influences. It’s a reflective record, whereas this [picks up Victims Of The Future] is just one of my feeble attempts at heavy rock.”
GARY MOORE

Feeble or not, “Victims Of The Future” is a pretty good heavy rock record.

In the 80’s I never owned any LP’s from Gary Moore, however I did own a few 7 inch singles like “Friday On My Mind”, “After The War” and “Ready For Love”. I also owned a few 12 inch singles (does anyone remember the 12 inch) of “Wild Frontier”, “Out In The Fields” and “Over The Hills And Far Away”. I picked this album up on LP via a second-hand music shop in the 90’s and it was an interview with guitarist Al Pitrelli in 1992 that got me interested.

You see, back in 1992, Al was in Widowmaker. For those that don’t know, Widowmaker was Dee Snider’s second attempt to kick-start his post – Twisted Sister music career. So of course, “Blood and Bullets” hits the streets and the obligatory press and interviews follow. At that time I purchased an issue of “Guitarist” and Al spoke a lot about Phyrgian mode scales in the interview. He referenced Gary Moore a lot and his emotive lead in “Empty Rooms”.

So it was a no-brainer when I saw the album for $2 and the supergroup of musicians recording it. Apart from Gary Moore, you had, Ian Paice (Deep Purple) on drums, Neil Carter (UFO) on keyboards, Neil Murray, Mo Foster and Bob Daisley all contributing bass parts.

The problem with the album to me was the marketing.

The labels in 1983 still had no idea how to market metal/rock acts. Virgin in this case decided the singles to be released as; “Hold on to Love”, “Shapes of Things To Come” (a cover), “Teenage Idol” and “Empty Rooms”. But to me, it should have been the darker political songs, “Victims Of The Future” and “Murder In The Skies” along with “Empty Rooms” as the singles.

But in the end, Gary Moore’s success came because he switched labels. He started off with MCA for “Back On The Streets” and changed to Virgin for “Corridors Of Power” and he remained on Virgin until 1997. He started to have hits because he was allowed to experiment. Virgin Records was originally known in the 70’s for signing progressive rock bands and by the late Seventies/Early 80’s, they had punk rock bands and new wave bands. It was only a matter of time before they started to accumulate hard rock and metal bands and gave them the freedom to do what they please.

And “Victims Of The Future” gave Gary Moore traction but no certifications. They came with the next album “Run For Cover” and continued well into the late 90’s.

Victims of the Future
It’s a brilliant song written by Moore, Neil Carter, Ian Paice and Neil Murray.

Searching each day for the answers
Watching our hopes disappear
Set on a course for disaster
Living our lives in fear
Our leaders leave us in confusion
For them there’s only one solution

Caught in the fight for survival
Trapped with our backs to the wall
Are we just lambs to the slaughter?
Who wait for the axe to fall?
Our world is headed for destruction
Our fate is in the hands of fools

I gotta confess that I plagiarized/stole the whole first two verses for my major art project as it was based on “War”. It was a mixed media project that involved me making a miniature coffin and on top of the coffin, I had the two verses written there, sort of like an Eulogy. Inside the coffin, I had drawings of all things war. Of course, Rattlehead and Eddie made appearances in there as well. Quick call the lawyers.

Shadows of the past,
Victims of the future
How long will it last?
Victims of the future

You would think our leaders would learn from their mistakes or the mistakes from the past, but no, they don’t. It’s just further proof that serial killers go into politics.

Into the verbal arena,
Armed with the lies that they tell
They’re fighting for world domination
Backed by the weapons of hell
Is there no end to all this madness?
Is there no hope for us at all?

Nothing has changed in 30 plus years and nothing will change in 30 plus years, like nothing has changed the last 3000 plus years.

Teenage Idol
It’s written by Moore and lyrically, it’s one of those typical early 80’s anthems, so no surprise that the label decided to release the song as a single.

Never did much good when he went to school
Too many teachers, there were too many rules

Oh yes, those stupid rules from the 60’s, just didn’t gel with the youth growing up in the 80’s.

But when he heard that guitar on the radio,
He knew one day he was gonna be a teenage idol.

MTV replaced the radio and made artists into global stars.

He dumped his chick and he sold his car.
He bought himself a hot guitar.
He joined a band and they cut some tracks.
He hit the road and he’s never looked back, oh no.

And to be honest, that’s how it was once upon a time. Today, they join a band, cut some tracks, build up a social presence so when they play a one-off show, a big crowd is in attendance.

Empty Rooms
It’s written by Moore and Carter and the second song on the album to be over 6 minutes long. This was the song that Al Pitrelli mentioned and man, he was right. The track is lyrical, melodic, it has movements and that lead break from Gary Moore is brilliant, full of emotion and feel. I guess Al Pitrelli was right.

Loneliness is your only friend
A broken heart that just won’t mend is the price you pay.
It’s hard to take when love grows old,
The days are long and the nights turn cold when it fades away.

We spend our lives searching for it, then spend our days working on it and hopefully it will remain forever. But when love takes a walk and never comes back, then those days are long and the nights are cold.

You hope that she will change her mind
But the days drift on and on
You’ll never know the reason why – she’s gone.

Sometimes people just grow out of love. Sometimes their views are years apart from each other. What she wants/desires now, he doesn’t, but probably will in a few years’ time. And when it breaks down and one side walks away without a real good reason, questions are asked as to why.

Empty rooms – where we learn to live without love

So true.

Over at the SongFacts website, co-writer Neil Carter mentions how the scratch vocal track was originally laid down by Glenn Hughes. I wouldn’t mind hearing that demo.

Murder in the Skies
Another song written by Moore and Carter. It’s the opening track of Side 2 on the LP and it’s the third song on the album to be over 6 minutes long.

It’s about those bloody Russian’s shooting down passenger planes. latter being a protest against the Soviet Union’s shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.

Does history repeat?

Of course it does. In 2014, they shot down a Malaysian Airplane.

The Russians have shot down a plane on its way to Korea.
Two hundred and sixty-nine innocent victims have died

Murder in the skies came without a warning
Murder in the skies, black September morning

Time was running out for everyone,
Flying over the Sea of Japan
None would live to see the rising sun,
Death was following close at hand

It’s a newspaper story. It’s not a single, it’s not a hit, it’s an album cut, back in the day, when artists still experimented with different lyrics.

MSG – Built To Destroy
We all knew who Michael Schenker was from his time in UFO and Scorpions, but none of us could name his MSG tunes correctly because we didn’t own his albums. He wasn’t on MTV and there was no Spotify, no YouTube, no BitTorrent, no internet where we could go and look up his MSG output. Radio in Australia never played MSG. So basically if you didn’t own his albums or know someone who did, it’s like he didn’t even exist.

But he was all over the guitar magazines. Weird that. That’s how I came across him. I am still undecided if his coverage was based on his past glories with UFO or was it due to the emergence of shredders in the Eighties who credited Michael Schenker as an influence.

The first MSG album came out in 1980 and it stiffs in the major U.S market. Japan however was another story for Schenker where his popularity remained high on the back of his Scorpions and UFO contributions.

The second album came out in 1981 and it did nothing as well. Something had to change. Someone had to be blamed. So original singer Gary Barden was fired in 1982 and Graham Bonnet fresh from his stint in Rainbow was hired. Album number 3 came out the same year (along with the Live at The Budokan album) and again, it did nothing. Bonnet was fired and Barden was back in for the tour. And here we are at album number 4. And although it has some great moments, commercially, it didn’t do great numbers. Maybe the problem lay with the lyrical content. Gary Barden went from a broken-hearted singer to a social conscience singer and then to a rock and roll preacher.

Rock My Nights Away

Far from home
Who’s gonna rock my nights away!

Is it about groupies?

I’m Gonna Make You Mine

You said you’d come back again
I never knew exactly when

Is it about the groupie who said she has to get some fresh air and ends up in someone else’s bed or is it about the girlfriend he left behind to go on tour and screw groupies. In case people are not aware, it’s my poor attempt at sarcasm here.

The Dogs Of War

To buy someone’s freedom’ who pays?

A brilliant lyric and so relevant even today. Democracy means that there are winners and losers after each election.

Red Sky

Laughing in the face of destruction
With nowhere to go

In the 80’s, the nuclear bomb scared us, today bio-terrorism scares us.

Rock Will Never Die (Walk The Stage)

So come walk the stage with me tonight
Rock will never die

Marillion – Script For A Jester’s Tear
I had no idea about Marillion until Dream Theater came out with “Images and Words” and Mike Portnoy was interviewed. He spoke so highly of the band, it got me interested. So it was the early Nineties and off I went to the second-hand record shop, where I picked up “Script For A Jester’s Tear”. I actually had my eye on it for a while, because of its cover, but never laid out the $2 to purchase it as there was so much other 80’s music that I needed to have.

The cover, based on idea from lead vocalist Fish and created by Mark Wilkinson, introduced “The Jester” and it is actually a brilliant piece of art.

“It was a struggle to get noticed. We weren’t fashionable. I discovered a long time ago that ‘fashionable’ is for short people. But there was a real arrogance about us: ‘We’re gonna make it.’”
FISH – Marillion

I was literally blown away by the moods and how they made songs that didn’t really have a VERSE – CHORUS structure into a cohesive statement of emotions and melodies.

Script For A Jester’s Tear
It’s the middle section of the song that gets me, from about 2 minutes to the 4 minute mark. It has a cool verse section, with a really good lead break and it segues back to the same verse section before the lead. The mood in the section always nails it for me.

So here I am once more in the playground of the broken hearts
One more experience, one more entry in a diary, self-penned
Yet another emotional suicide overdosed on sentiment and pride
Too late to say I love you, too late to re-stage the play
Abandoning the relics in my playground of yesterday

I’m losing on the swings, I’m losing on the roundabouts

Seriously, how good are the lyrics, the imagery, the metaphors.

I never did write that love song, the words just never seemed to flow

Lead singer, Fish had decided that Marillion would become his first love, so it was no surprise his love life suffered.

He Knows You Know
Listening to Marillion is an experience, because they didn’t sound quite the same like other bands and you can hear them testing limits with their song structures, lyrics and vocal phrasing.

What a hallucinating guitar riff to kick off a song about drug use and the views of the older generation of the time towards drug users.

Light switch, yellow fever, crawling up your bathroom wall
Singing psychedelic praises to the depths of a china bowl
You’ve got venom in your stomach, you’ve got poison in your head

And when that Rush inspired synth lead comes in at 2.30, the mood alters again. It’s simple, moody progressive rock, a style that Dream Theater used to great extent for Images and Words.

Chelsea Monday
The keyboard riff sets the mood on a song about fame or dreaming of fame.

Patience my tinsel angel
Patience my perfumed child
One day they really love you
You’ll charm them with that smile
But for now it’s just another Chelsea Monday

And then the solo kicks in and it’s Dave Gilmour-esque. The lead guitar notes and phrasing from 3.25 to 3.38 is brilliant.

Thanks for reading.

I guess Part 6 of 1983 will be coming up soon.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Michael Schenker

The Eighties was very different from today. All the energy came from MTV. Once MTV broke you to the masses, radio then took over and promoted you. The labels priority shifted. A&R and allowing an artist to build a fan base was gone. In its place came the search for that elusive hit.

We all knew who Michael Schenker was from his time in UFO and Scorpions, but none of us could name his MSG tunes correctly.

Because we didn’t own the albums. He wasn’t on MTV and there was no Spotify, no YouTube, no BitTorrent, no internet where we could go and look up his MSG output. Radio in Australia never played MSG. So basically if you didn’t own his albums or know someone who did, it’s like he didn’t even exist. But he was all over the guitar magazines. That is how I came across him.

Was his coverage based on his past glories with UFO more than his MSG career. Or was it due to the emergence of shredders in the Eighties who credited Michael Schenker as an influence.

The first album came out in 1980 and it stiffs in the major U.S market. Japan is another story for Schenker where his popularity has remained high.

The second album came out in 1981 and it did nothing as well. Something had to change. Someone had to be blamed. So original singer Gary Barden was fired in 1982. Graham Bonnet fresh from his stint in Rainbow was hired. Album number 3 came out the same year (along with the Live at The Budokan album) and again, it did nothing. Bonnet was fired and Barden was back in for the tour. Album number 4 came out in 1983 and a live album followed in 1984. Again nothing. Barden departed again.

So Michael Schenker changed direction. He pushed aside his unique fusion of blues/rock combined with European classical music that morphed into Euro Metal and embraced the commercial hard rock sound that MTV was promoting. “Perfect Timing” was released in 1987 by the McAuley Schenker Group. It was three years in development and it cost a lot of money. Andy Johns (an expensive producer) was on hand to produce. That appointment cost money. Even more money was spent on the marketing, the MTV video clips and the glammed up look.

And suddenly Michael Schenker wasn’t what he was presented as originally. Rather than the blues rock euro metal slinger, he was just another faceless guitarist playing mediocre riffs and solos to suit a video format all in the search of that crossover hit, that one song that could turn a mediocre album into a Platinum seller. After three albums, Schenker and McAuley parted company.

And when Michael Schenker returned to who he was, his own style, very few people noticed. There was enough interested to keep him on the road, but not enough to bring him back to prominence.

Schenker is a musician, unlike so many of today’s stars. He really could play the guitar, he did have roots and he did have a style. He inspired a whole school of 80’s guitarists. And like the classic bluesmen who preceded him, Schenker had his ups and downs. But he stuck with it. He delivered for those who cared. Even though he is too often overlooked, he is still working.

The truth is every career is unique and Michael Schenker is a product of the records era. A soldier in the rock and roll army when only the best and the brightest were signed up.

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

1982 – VI – Rough And Ready Rider In A Supersonic Sound Machine

 

Van Halen – Diver Down

“I’d rather have a bomb with one of my own songs than a hit with someone else’s.”

EVH

It was well into the Nineties that I finally gave money for “Diver Down”. The fact that it had so many cover songs on it, made me ignore it.

The album cover displayed the red and white colours that EVH is famous for and up until the internet era, I had no idea that it was the “diver down” flag which indicates a SCUBA diver is currently submerged in the area.

The Eighties was the era when records ruled the world and Van Halen (along with some hidden coaching from the label and management) decided to came out with this album.

But there is a story behind it.

The “Fair Warning” tour finished and the band recorded “Oh Pretty Woman” and released it as a single, just to tell its fan’s the band is still here. But, “Pretty Woman” started climbing the charts and the label started pressuring VH for an album. 12 days later, “Diver Down” was complete.

Van Halen was on target to have another hit with someone else’s song.

From an original point of view, “Hang Em High”, the instrumental “Cathedral”, “Little Guitars (with the intro)” and the country blues tinged “The Full Bug” are good cuts. The rest, not so much…

From the cover songs, “Oh Pretty Woman” is okay and it was the song that gave the record label the idea to push VH into the studio for a full album.

“Hang Em High”

“Hang ‘Em High” can trace its roots back to the band’s 1977 demos as “Last Night”, which had the same music but different lyrics. It’s funny how that first demo tape had so many songs that would come to life many years later, and in the case of “A Different Kind Of Truth”. Seven tracks that appear on the album are based on material written between 1975 and 1977.

And David Lee Roth is not the greatest vocalist or lyricist. ATTITUDE! That’s what DLR was good at delivering. And Van Halen songs had plenty of attitude.

“Cathedral”

EVH had been doing ‘Cathedral’ live prior to putting it on a record. From a guitar point of view, he is using his volume knob to get the volume swells happening.

“Little Guitars (plus the classical sounding introduction)

This is Eddie cheating at playing flamenco based on hearing Carlos Montoya. With a pick he is doing the trills on the high E string, pull offs with his left hand and slapping with his middle finger on the low E.

It was all about getting a clip onto MTV. Suddenly bands saw record sales jump and they played to full houses nearly everywhere. By 1982, it was a new golden era that was beginning.

MSG – Assault Attack

As I get older, I am starting to realize almost no one is remembered. Michael Schenker is one such person that is unknown to a lot of kids aged 25 and under.

It didn’t used to be that way.

It was 1982, when Michael Schenker received a call from Ozzy about joining after Randy Rhoads died in the plane crash. But Schenker was in the middle of making the “Assault Attack” album with Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell. Peter Mensch (Manager) wanted David Coverdale to front the band. This caused a disagreement, and Mensch was out. A couple of bad moves by Schenker here.

As Mensch is still rocking and managing in 2015 to great success and if he joined Ozzy, who knows what kind of career he would have had post Ozzy. However, Schenker has been reduced to playing clubs and theatres.

He never really had any hits with MSG like he did with UFO.

Martin Birch is on hand to produce, fresh from doing “The Number Of The Beast” with Iron Maiden. But the album only has two decent songs.

“Desert Song”

It kicks of Side 2 on the vinyl. It’s written by Schenker and Bonnet. Musically, the song is excellent. Melodically the song is excellent. Can’t say I am a fan of the lyrics, but I’ll let that slide, because the music is magical.

A great riff is a great riff, never forget it! UFO fans would note that Schenker used his riff from “Love To Love” to maximum rock effect on this one.

“Assault Attack”

It kicks of Side 1 on the vinyl. It’s written by Schenker, Bonnet, Chris Glen and Ted McKenna. It’s got a good groove and the cool chorus.

History has shown that not a lot of guitarist reached the same level of success as they did with previous bands because in the end, it don’t matter how great you play guitar, if you don’t have a vocalist that can sell your message and connect with people lyrically, it all goes to crap.

But Schenker is still out there doing it. He has been ripped off, survived bankruptcy, survived addictions and he still gets up on stage and produces the goods.

Schenker is an individual.

He is a survivor.

Rainbow – Straight Between The Eyes

Ritchie Blackmore is another that is unknown to a lot of kids under the age of 25. This album was another purchase via the various record fairs that used to pop up at Parramatta Town Hall every three months. Dio led Rainbow is brilliant, however I also hold the Joe Lynn Turner (JLT) led version of the band high as well.

It’s because the heart and soul of the band, Ritchie Blackmore was still there and firing on all cylinders and JLT was a more of a AOR style of singer, which worked perfectly for the early Eighties. A lot of people think that Joe Lynn Turner pushed Rainbow into a more AOR type band however it was a combination of Ritchie wanting to pursue that direction as well and Joe Lynn Turner being on board.

Side one kicks off with the Blackmore and Turner composition known as “Death Alley Driver”.

Joe Lynn Turner said the following about the song:

That song was about drug runs on 1 and 9. Springsteen wrote about Highway 9. That highway goes all the way through from the pier to New York. That song, I wrote about going on a drug run on Highway 9. I was with a friend, who I found out I really didn’t know that well. I ended up in this place where there were all these machine guns. This guy was a doctor that was brought in to analyze the cocaine that was coming in from Columbia. There were pounds of it. I stood there and I was thinking, “What did you get me into to?” He was all coked out and I was like, “Get me outta here.” I was sweating bullets. I wrote the song about that. Highway 9 is a crap highway. It is a two lane highway about as wide as an alley but it was the run where you went to get the Columbian blow, which was the best blow around.

Rough and ready rider, in a supersonic sound machine
Rock and roll survivor, chrome pipes between your knees

It’s an excellent opening to introduce the album. It has so many words relevant to the era. The rite of passage in 1982 was to own a car, a fast muscle car was preferred. Then insert a cool stereo so that rock and roll music can play from it, all day and all night.

Another dirty angel, heading straight to hell

The song is full of good lines like the above.

Next up is “Stone Cold”. This cut is written by Blackmore, Turner and Roger Glover. It’s a broken heart type of song, written in the middle of a snow storm.

This is what Turner had to say about the song:

“We were out on the first tour and Roger had been left by his wife for a famous race car driver. He was very, very broken up over it. I looked in his room and I said, “Rog, let’s go to the bar.” He looked up at me and he had crying eyes.” I said, “What happened?” He just looked at me and said, “She just stone cold up and left me.” I knew there was a song there. I ran back to my room and started writing the lyrics. It didn’t come to fruition until we got the music. Ritchie would record a bunch of tracks and Roger and I would go through them and we would find the song and then we would teach it back to Ritchie. All Ritchie would do is jam on music and then we would take these pieces of music and make songs. We would then rehearse the song and work it all out.”

 Familiar strangers with nothing to say

So true, when the relationship goes bad.

Track number 3 is “Bring On the Night (Dream Chaser)”. This cut is also written by Blackmore, Turner and Glover.

This is what Turner had to say about the song:

Ritchie wrote the music and Roger had a part during the B section but the lyrics are all about me. It is all about trying to get into this business. All of those verses were about me.

I was taking a chance on a tight-rope
Walking the line to the end

If you want to be a musician, you need to be in it until the end. You don’t check out because there is no money. You keep on persisting because you believe in the music, the message of your songs, the thrill of the performance or online adulation.

“Tite Squeeze”

Love the riff and groove of this song, but hate the lyrics and song title.

“Tearin’ Out My Heart”

I actually dig this one. It’s got a lot of drama around the peaks and lows.

Side two kicks off with “Power”.

JLT mentioned that “Power” is an autobiographical song.

I get knocked down…get right back up again
Cause I never give up and I never give in…

Refer to “Bring On The Night (Dream Chaser)”.

Midnight Oil – 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

I finally listened to all of Midnight Oil’s albums on Spotify. I never owned any of their albums, but I knew their singles. I had most of them recorded on a VHS cassette tape from the various TV stations that played music videos. Hell, in the early Nineties I even watched a few of their shows.

Was I fan of the band?

Yes I was.

Did I own any of their music?

No I didn’t.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is the fourth album by Midnight Oil.

Coming into making the album, the Oils had their backs to the wall. They wanted to achieve their success in their own way, while the label had their own ideas. A commitment was made to roll the dice one last time. If they failed, the band would break up.

But they didn’t fail.

In Australia the album remained on the chart for 3 years and it was certified 7 times platinum. By the time “Diesel and Dust” came outthree years later, they would become international stars.

Again I only knew of the singles and after listening to the full album on Spotify, I can say that the singles are miles ahead the rest of the album.

“Short Memory”.  It’s written by Peter Garrett, drummer Rob Hirst and guitarist Jim Moginie. It’s built around Moginie’s “SundayBloody Sunday” style riffing. Lyrically, the song deals with a lot of human tragedy.

The story of El Salvador, The silence of Hiroshima, , Destruction of Cambodia, Short memory

Can any artist get three different events that happened in three different places all in a verse?

Midnight Oil always wrote lyrics with a nod to politics and how politics affected our way of life. In the end, what a short memory we have when it comes to human actions and the suffering humans have caused to other humans.

“Read About It” and it’s written by the Garrett, Hirst and Moginie team. That intro riff is brilliant. I wanted it to play forever.

The rich get richer, The poor get the picture, The bombs never hit you when you’re down so low

The working class of Australia latched on to the Oils. They wrote about what we felt.

You wouldn’t read about it, Read about it

Rupert Murdoch, with his newspapers in Australia, report an agenda that suits the profits of News Limited. There is nothing impartial in their articles. Just recently, News Limited lost the EPL hosting rights in Australia to Optus, so how does Murdoch respond. He launches a campaign against football in the country, just because he lost the rights.

The hammer and sickle, The news is at a trickle, The commisars are fickle but the stockpile grows

Love this verse.

The commies controlled the story and in democratic countries the corporations control the story. Both will report on whatever suits their own agenda. Especially, when the news outlets went onto the stock exchange, got shareholders and profits became the be all and end all, instead of the story.

“U.S Forces”

A protest song against US foreign policy, “US Forces” is written by Garrett and Moginie. It was a song that was brought up when Garrett became a Federal Minister.

U.S. forces give the nod, It’s a setback for your country

Perception is powerful. The U.S has done itself no favours in putting itself into situations with no favourable outcome. Hell, the recent Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, was written by US Senators with the Corporations, and now the rest of the Countries need to sign it. All to suit U.S corporation interests.

Now market movements call the shots, Business deals in parking lots, Waiting for the meat of tomorrow

“Power and the Passion”

The hit making machine of Garrett, Hirst and Moginie churned out another Aussie classic.

You take what you get and get what you please, It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees

Great lyric.

Rush – Signals

It is album number 9 for Rush and the follow-up to the mega successful “Moving Pictures” album. It’s not a favourite that’s for sure, but each song has some cool sections.

“Subdivisions”

The intro synth is pretty cool and when the guitar comes in to mimic the groove of it, it’s all systems go.

“The Analog Kid”

It’s very Led Zeppelin like. Think of “Achilles Last Stand”.

 

“Losing It”

Neil Peart wrote it about how tough it is when someone who has been at the top of their game starts to lose their ability to reproduce that.

“Countdown”

I wish the synth riff at the start (and that continues through into the verses) was distorted guitar.

Stay tuned for Part 7 of 1982.

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

The Derivative Effect In Action with Avenged Sevenfold and Hail To The King.

All hail. The King has arrived. Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. I am really digging the new Avenged Sevenfold album. A7X said they wanted to make a classic rock/metal album in the vein of AC/DC – Back In Back, Metallica – Master of Puppets and Black, Megadeth – Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction, Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz, Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast and Powerslave, Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance, Vah Halen – 1984, Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction, Dio – Holy Diver and Black Sabbath – Heaven And Hell.

On release, it went to Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Once upon a time going to Number 1 was important, however these days, it is a fad. Longevity is the new importance. Does the album have the longevity? Will it be streamed forever and a day? My answer is YES it will.

On first listen you will hear influences (and on some tracks it is really obvious) from quite a few of the albums and bands mentioned above. They do it so well, it is hard to not like it. The lead breaks are brilliant and very Maiden like. They have gone for that sing along lead break. It will be interesting to see how those lead breaks translate to the very passionate and vocal South American fan bases. Overall, all the songs will work well in a live setting.

In the end A7X has definitely given a “popular band’s feel” to all the songs along with their own A7X bits and twists in between.

All metal and rock music and popular music in general has come to exist because of evolution, because of progress being derivative. It is never the result of creating something out of nothing that it is so original, it would blow everyone away.

“Live Wire” from Motley Crue released in 1981 borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right” also released in the same year.

“My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to the A Flock Of Seagulls song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.

“The Ghost Inside” from the band Vendetta released in 2012 is very similar to Michael Schenker’s “Desert Song” released in 1981. “Desert Song” is then very similar to what Michael Schenker did with UFO on the song “Love to Love” released in 1976.

“Hey Hey My My from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song” I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”

“Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.

“Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows it’s Chorus from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993. The song “Beautiful” from the band Since October released in 2006 has a verse that is influenced by “Come Undone” from Duran Duran. The chorus riff also borrows from the same song. In addition, the song Come Undone is a derivative work from an earlier Duran Duran song called “First Impression” released in 1990.

The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.

Anyone that listens to the above examples, will be able to note the similarities from beginning to end. This is what I mean by the term progress is derivative.

By taking similar phrasings and chord structures, A7X was able to reinvent a past work with a fresh perspective. They have created new songs that are rooted in the past. That is why we as fans appreciate music so much. It is all built on something that came before. What makes the song unique and great is the musicians ability to express it and play it. If James Hetfield was a flawless virtuoso, I am sure the Metallica songs would have sounded a touch different, maybe less personalised and more sterile. If Motley Crue was a bunch of virtuosos then I am sure it would have been a different band. Good or bad, we will never know, however what we do know is that musicians sound the way they do because they are influenced by emotions and by their technical ability on the instrument.

It is produced by Mike Elizondo. Mixed by Andy Wallace and Engineered by Adam Hawkins.

Management is Larry Jacobson and Alex Reese for World Audience.

Shepherd Of Fire

The rain and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The main riff is very “Enter Sandman” like and it also has touches of Megadeth like the songs “Disconnect” from “The World Needs A New Hero” and “Trust” from Cryptic Writings. Since Metallica got the “Enter Sandman” riff from a band called Excel, we can safely say that progress is derivative. The drumming in the Intro, After The Solo and Outro is very “Enter Sandman” like, which Lars Ulrich said is based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track:
“We intentionally wrote it as an intro track. The idea was that the arrangement would evoke a sense of imagery with the tribal yet primordial drums. It seemed to resonate from Hell almost. It’s something of an apocalyptic call to arms. I love the arrangement. We wanted to set up the album and foreshadow what was to come, being that it’s a groove-based, riff-oriented record. We haven’t really done Zeppelin-style or Sabbath-like riffs before, so this is our version of an album that’s along those lines.”

Hail To The King

From the outset this song has that Iron Maiden vibe. The intro reminds me of “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere In Time” album. The chorus reminds me of the song “Sign Of The Cross” from “The X Factor” album. Synester Gates said that he was playing a lot of “gypsy jazz guitar – Django Reinhardt and a few others”, so for the intro, he took those techniques and metalized it. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track:
“The whole solo is based on minor blues changes. I like it when it transfers to that regal feel, which aligns with the lyrics. A lot of people get confused and think that it’s neo-classical, but it’s really gypsy jazz.” 

Doing Time
This song is a Guns N Roses merged with WASP. The whole intro has got that “You Could Be Mine” / “Welcome To The Jungle” vibe. The vocals in the verse remind me of GNR and The Cult. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track;

“This was a Mike Elizondo suggestion. He was hearing a kind of low vocal, swagger-based rock song, sort of a quintessential ‘80s or ‘90s vibe but with a very modern approach. It’s a bad freight train that never stops.

“For this solo – and for all of them, actually – I tried to just jam with the songs instead of being overly analytical about what I was doing. I sat with Mike and the rest of the guys, and I would play until everybody was on board with the way it was going. The main thing was that I wanted the songs to influence my playing rather than me imposing a signature style on the music.”

This Means War

Three words. “Sad But True”. With each listen I keep on enjoying the album just a little bit more. The songs flow well together and with similarities aside (seriously “This Is War” is a very ballsy song to release due to how similar it sounds to “Sad But True”) the album has a pretty epic feel to it. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website about the track;
“We wanted a really impactful, riff-based intro but one that would also feature our dual lead harmony approach. It’s pretty cool how it fits into the slow groove of the track and just hammers through.

“This song is becoming one of my favourites. I’ve been really enjoying watching people listen to it because it so fits the vibe of the album. When they hear it, they start moving, and they don’t stop. Sometimes, with more progressive songs, you lose that feel somewhere along the line, but This Means War never quits – the energy is always there.”

“All of my solos were improvised initially – I would go in and get my bearings and see what I came up with. I was hearing something chaotic in the intro, a machine-gun spray that would build into something more melodic.”

Requiem

This is classic Euro metal. It has that vibe. It’s got that Yngwie Malmsteen / Swedish metal influence. The choir at the beginning reminds of Carl Orff “O Fortuna”. The Metal Sucks website calls this song a “Kashmir” rip off and while I get that aspect, this song is one of those songs that is a little harder to pin down. The vocal part were Shadows screams “In Flames” reminds me of “No More Lies” from Iron Maiden, that came out on the “Dance Of Death” album in 2003. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Rader website;

“The choir in the beginning is great. I’m very excited about how this song turned out. We wanted the foundation to be a metal band’s approach to classical orchestration.”

“Matt’s vocal is more like a lead violin part, and when my guitar chugs underneath the riff, it’s almost like what low brass would do. We layered each element very carefully, and the result is one of the more cinematic tracks on the record.”

“The solo was a fun one. I don’t do a lot of wah stuff, so I had a great time playing around with that. The wah gave it an added dimension and colours, some new life.”

Crimson Day

This is what Synester Gates had to say about this song on the Music Radar website.

“That’s a clean-sounding electric guitar on the opening, not an acoustic – there were no mics on the guitar involved, just on the amps. It’s one of my favourite clean tones I’ve ever fucking heard.”

 “We stumbled onto it by accident, actually. There were a few secrets in getting it, mainly that it’s a baritone guitar with a capo on it so I could play it in open E standard tuning. It has a really sick, rich, sparkly sound. Seriously, I’m so proud of how it turned out.”

“We wanted the song to have huge drums and be an epic rock ballad. It has a sombre vibe, but it doesn’t make you fucking sad all the way through. We were listening to a lot of Elton John, some Ozzy ballads and some Zeppelin. Actually, the lyrics are inspired by my nephew, so the song has a very personal meaning to me.

Heretic

Like This Is War, the song is very ballsy as it is like Megadeth’s – Symphony Of Destruction. Overall it has that Megadeth feel to it and yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates said on the Music Radar website:
“This was probably the first song that we wrote for the album, so there’s a bit of a throwback to the old, traditional Avenged stuff. It’s a little progressive, but we wanted to maintain some space in the arrangement so the drums could shine and the riffs and vocals could breathe.”

 “That’s a pretty important point, really, because we tend to fill things to the brim with guitar harmonies, vocal harmonies, lead things going in and out. Leaving a feeling of air made a big difference in how all of the parts stood out.”

“This is a lot of guitar, though, some big moments. If you’re not the biggest groove fan – and it you’re not, you should be – there’s still a progressive element. So it’s a mix, this song, and it worked out really well.”

Coming Home

This song is weird. I am getting an overall Iron Maiden feel but its hart to pin point exactly what. I’m sort of getting “Ghost of Navigators” for the verse but there is something else, which might not even by Maiden, maybe WASP? I am starting to sound like a psychic. The Harmony guitars at the end is Megadeth, “A Toute Le Monde.” Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates said about the song;
“Another Mike suggestion. He wanted us to do something upbeat, but we wanted to make sure that it didn’t get hokey – we’ve done upbeat before, and sometimes things can get a little too cutesy and sugary. Our goal was to have a darker, more serious tone, which can get lost when you increase the tempo.” 

“It’s very adventurous, but it maintains that upbeat vibe. There’s some great drumming on it, and I’m really excited about the guitar work. The solo is big. Instead of doing a vocal bridge, we decided to do one with the guitar and have it take you places. I think it fits with the imagery of the lyrics, which are very personal but still presented in a way that people can relate to it. The words are very ‘storytellery,’ concerning travel and endeavours, but they’re not necessarily concerned with present time. The guitar stuff goes hand-in-hand with all of that.”

Planets

The way the drums are in the Intro it reminds me of a song that I cant put my finger on. Kiss comes to mind, something from the Psycho Circus album. Also the riff. Yep familiar, not sure what like though, riff is similar to the outro of “Broken” except heavier, Bridge bit is Pantera: “Mouth of War” for the drums. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Radar website;
“To me, the last two songs, in addition to being my favourites, make up the best ending to a record we’ve ever had. Lyrically, Planets is the precursor to Acid Rain; it’s about a meteoric, intergalactic war that results in an apocalypse and the human species aligning together to go fight something much better than us, our individual trials and tribulations.”

“Musically, the song was incredibly difficult to write and pull off – the elements of dissonance, tension and resolution. We wanted to have that friction throughout, but it still had to be palatable; it couldn’t be like listening to Penderecki or Stockhausen. There had to be a relate ability and connect ability to it.”

“We really toiled over the track, but it turned out great. I’m so fucking excited about it.”

Acid Rain

This is Gary Moore – “Still Got The Blues/Parisienne Walkways” merged with GNR – “November Rain”. The Solo is definitely “November Rain’ish.” Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Radar website;
“It’s a cool way to end the record – not a typical ballad, but it’s not soft or sugary, either. The song takes you to an emotional place, especially if you pay attention to the lyrics, which are some of the best Matt has ever written.

“The song is about coming to the realization that you’ve lost the battle, but at least you’re with that one special person who matters. It’s something of an apocalyptic love story, which is pretty unique for us.”

In the end what we are hearing is a mish mash of different artists, a verse from one artist, a chorus from another artist, an intro riff from another and with the A7X little elements chucked in.

Of course, it’s not a bad form to go with, the only issue here is that some sound so close that they are unmistakably obvious, or perhaps that was the point. I wonder if they are going to see some action over it?

When I first heard the album, the first thing I did was Google, “Avenged Sevenfold copied” and heaps of pages come up. To me, it all comes down to this. Music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music can say that what they created is original as they have not heard anything else before that. However for all of us, music is a sum of what we have heard, mixed in with our style and ability to play those influences.

So will there be any action of these “similarities.” I see it as a double edged sword.

Because the bands they are “ripping off” are popular I don’t see how those bands can bring some action against A7X. They haven’t taken anything away from the original versions of those songs. If anything it’s made me interested to go back and listen to those songs to see if I can pick up more similarities. Those bands should be posting things like, “Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold for bringing attention to our song Symphony Of Destruction on the song Heretic from their new album Hail To The King. Check out the Megadeth version here.” That is what they should be doing.

However, if they borrowed or where influenced from unknown bands, like how Metallica and Led Zeppelin did, then I am sure that the unknown band/artist would be bringing action to the band, however I still believe it is a stupid idea. Use it to your advantage in other ways. Point to it. Market yourselves like the example above.

In the end Avenged Sevenfold released an album that has people talking about. We are engaged with it, talking about the influences we hear on it and the similarities to other artists. Some are negative, some are positive. In the end we are engaged with the product and we are forming a relationship with it.

For the record, I ripped the CD of the album and then I gave the CD to a few friends to rip on their own computers so that he can listen to it. WHY? I wanted them to listen to it so that we can talk about it.

Nah, people are talking about it on the web. The first thing I did was Google, “Avenged Sevenfold copied” and heaps of pages come up. To me, it all comes down to this. Music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music can say that what they created is original as they have not heard anything else before that. However for all of us, music is a sum of what we have heard, mixed in with our style and ability to play those influences. Show me someone who says what they wrote is “original” and I’ll show you a liar. Everything has been written, we are just a sum of our influences and how we interpret those influences through our own individualism, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

For action against them it’s a double edged sword.

Because the bands they are “ripping off” are popular I don’t see how those bands can bring some action against A7X. They haven’t taken anything away from the original versions of those songs. If anything it’s made me interested to go back and listen to those songs to see if I can pick up more similarities. Those bands should be posting things like, “Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold for bringing attention to Symphony Of Destruction on the song Heretic.” That is what they should be doing.

However, if they borrowed or where influenced from unknown bands, like how Metallica and Led Zeppelin did, then I am sure that unknown band would be bringing action to the band, however I still believe it is a stupid idea. Use it to your advantage in other ways. The same way the big bands should use it. It’s always better to enforce positive approaches in order to take advantage of whatever scenarios are encountered.

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Piracy Was Rampant Even In The Eighties

Back in the Eighties, piracy was rampant. Most of my music collection during that period was made up of music taped onto blank cassettes. My “wealthier” older cousin in Sydney always seemed to have his finger on the pulse on the latest releases and every time I visited, I was armed with blank cassettes and proceeded to copy (download) albums that he recommended to me. There was also another shadier character locally that used to sell dubbed cassettes from 50 cents to $1 dollar. He then used the money obtained from his buyers to purchase more albums that he would sell to us on dubbed cassettes.

I was not alone in doing this, nor was I the first. Most of the music from the seventies that was passed down to me by my brothers was in the same format (blank cassettes that got filled with music).

So what did my brothers do in the Eighties, when they were old enough and had their own incomes. They started purchasing the music they listened to in the seventies. It worked like this; for example, they would purchase “Destroyer” from Kiss on LP or CD and once they did that I would get the cassette copied version that they had.

Another interesting thing in the Seventies was that while we all lived together, we only needed one version of the album to listen to the music. So what happens when family members move out. One brother purchases the album, the other brother purchases the album and then I need to purchase the album and so on. You can see the exponential growth here when children grow up and move out.

So what did I do in the Nineties, when I had more cash at hand. I purchased every album I had on dubbed cassettes on CD. I re-purchased every LP I had on CD. I went to second hand record shops and purchased LP’s from the Eighties and Seventies very cheap. If I found a real gem in those purchases, I then purchased that album on CD.

I went to the Record Fairs and Collector Fairs that started to gain traction during this period. Again, I purchased a lot of LP’s very cheap at those Fairs. I saw it as a try before you buy. If I found a real gem, I then purchased that album on CD.

I was not the only one that did the above. Based on sales figures during this period, the Record Labels had their largest ever profits to date. Everything that came after 1999 has been linked back to the unbelievable profits the record labels made during 1998 and 1999.

In the end, did all the piracy from the Seventies and Eighties hurt any of the bands that I supported. These are the bands that where pirated heavily on cassettes (from a list of the shady dealer selling them for 50 cents to $1 dollar);

Motley Crue
Bon Jovi
Iron Maiden
Metallica
Megadeth
Guns N Roses
Van Halen
David Lee Roth
Poison
Warrant
Skid Row
Twisted Sister
Kiss
Dio
Europe
Def Leppard
Dokken
Whitesnake
Judas Priest
Yngwie Malmsteen
Night Ranger
Queensryche
Ozzy Osbourne
Rush
Savatage
Stryper
Scorpions
WASP
Y&T
White Lion
Fastway
Joe Satriani
Loverboy
Meatloaf
Queen
Slayer
Survivor
UFO
Michael Schenker
Quiet Riot
Black Sabbath
Rainbow
Deep Purple
Anthrax
Motorhead

The answer is a resounding NO. All of those bands mentioned above are still around today in some form or another. All of those bands are part of pop culture in some form or another. They still have a loyal cult following and that cult following happened because of piracy.

If it wasn’t for cassette piracy, I never would have heard the full length albums of bands that did the rounds on MTV. I never would have heard “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica (I know own “Master Of Puppets” on CD, mp3 and LP).

The real hurter of bands was the Record Label. It was never piracy. Due to the labels having all the power in breaking a band, plus having all the control over the distribution, they would offer bands an unfair deal that stacked the deck in the Record Labels favour. For any musician that wanted their music exposed to a greater audience, it was the only option they had.

A lot of studies have come out stating that “pirates actually purchase the most.” I know it is a cliché statement at the moment however back in the Eighties I went to an Iron Maiden concert without actually owning an original copy of any of their albums. I went to a Megadeth concert without owning an original copy of their albums. The same with Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, Guns N Roses and Stryper.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Rudolf Schenker – Guitar World – March 1986

RUDOLF SCHENKER ON THE AESTHETICS OF HEAVY METAL GUITAR
By Bruce Nixon

The below article in italics appeared in the Guitar World March 1986 issue.  I have re-typed here and added my bits and pieces to it.

The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar?  Well, think about it.  Rudolf Schenker was intrigued.  He was sitting in a backstage dressing room, a litter of soda cans, ashtrays and half filled beer bottles on the low table in front of him, quietly noodling on his trusty black-and-gold Flying V.  He balanced the guitar on his knees and spread his arms out wide, smiling broadly, his eyes sparkling.  Already, conversation had drifted over Vs and V players, and the Scorpions’ well-known axeman had displayed a deep and interested passion for the guitar life.

That is the iconic look, Rudolf Schenker with a trusted flying V.  This issue is from March 1986.  Rudolf had been in the game for over 26 years by now.  Rock You Like A Hurricane from 1984’s Love At First Sting album was a monster hit for the Scorpions.  Winners never quit.  They persist.  They persevere.  Sure, the Scorpions had an audience in Europe and Asia, but it wasn’t until 1984 that they broke through in the US.

“The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar…” His accent was middling thick with a slightly skewered command of idiom, but it didn’t set in the way of his enthusiasm. The idea had captured his attention, in any case.  

“I know of several different kinds of players,” he said. “There is Van Halen, very technical and very creative.  Him I like very much, because he has put new things into guitar playing.  He is very good rhythm-wise. And the other I like very much is my brother Michael.”  

This, of course, referring to Michael Schenker, the Scorpions’ original lead guitarist, now fronting his own band.

“He can play melodically—but he puts the three parts of the guitar together, the melodic, the technique and the feel. Some have more technical skill, but in my brother, all three parts are equal.  He has feel, but he keeps the melody inside and the exact rhythm inside.”

The impact of Edward Van Halen to rock music is immense.  Back in 1986, it was still at a level of what he brought to the guitar playing circles and how an expectation was made that any band with desires to make it, had to have a guitar hero.  Of course afterwards, EVH would branch out into guitars, amps and gear.

I am the youngest of three boys, so to hear Rudolf talk about his younger brother in such high regard, is cool.  His words ring true.  Michael Schenker was a monster player.  UFO couldn’t contain him.  Their best works happened when Michael Schenker was in the band.  (We will forget about the crappy 90’s reunion album and the bad Vinnie Moore reincarnation, even though i am a fan of Vinnie Moore as well).  His solo work in the eighties as part of MSG and McAuley Schenker Group was a stand out as well.

Going back to March 1986, Rudolf’s summation of his brothers ability made me curious to find out more about Michael Schenker.  This is artists promoting other artists.  I don’t believe that form of promotion happens these days anymore?  Growing up in Australia, the nineties brought a certain elitism ideal to certain local scenes, where each band only looked out for themselves as they where worried that another band might take their fans.  What artists failed to realise is that fans of music always like more than one band.  That is how fan bases are made, a common love of music across different bands.

“You see, metal is a new style.  Heavy rock is based on guitar and drums together.  If you want aesthetics, when you go looking for a good guitar player, you will find them in heavy rock.  This is a place where the guitar player has the most openings.  Look at Rick Springfield—his guitar player is good, but the music is based on the singer.  In heavy rock, the guitar player has more parts than the singer has.  In heavy metal, the players are young and fresh, too, open to new styles and new sounds, new everything!  Whole roads are open to them.  We all used to copy Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but bands don’t do that anymore.”

Bands started to copy their peers.

Motley Crue hit the LA scene in 1980 with a mix of Seventies Punk, Americana Rock / Pop and British Classic Rock.  Bands like Poison, Warrant, Bullet Boys and Tuff came out influenced by bands like Motley Crue and Ratt.

Bon Jovi came out influenced by Seventies Classic Rock, Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey keyboard driven pop scene.  Then you had every band writing songs in a pop metal vein.

Van Halen came out influenced by the English Blues Rock and Americana Rock/Pop.  Name me one band in the eighties that didn’t try to sound like them.

Def Leppard wanted to record an album that mixed Queen style pop harmonies with the NWOBM sound they were involved in.  They achieved that with Pyromania and perfected it on Hysteria, spawning thousands of imitators.  

Guitar players became the ones that got the attention as well.  The band dynamic had evolved.  It started in the Seventies and continued with the Hard Rock / Glam Rock movement in the Eighties.

“I like to listen to heavy rock very much,” he added. “Jimmy Page, in his good days, was so good.  Now, Jeff Beck has always been good, and I like his solo album very much.  I hear Malmsteen—he s very fast, very technical, much into classical.  Take Ritchie Blackmore—of course, he is from the older generation of players, but he doesn’t get older  in his sound.  Beck is more for older people these days.  Ritchie is one of those guys who has old and young kids in his audience.  He has that fresh energy.”

Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow is one guitarist that appealed to both old and young guitarist.  The older crowd that is into the blues rock style loved what Blackmore did with it, the middle-aged got the best of both worlds and the younger crowds maybe didn’t appreciate the blues rock vibe of Blackmore however they related to his classical technicality that fit perfectly with the rise of the Eighties shred.  That is where Michael Schenker also comes into the picture.  He also accommodated both audiences.

He suggested that the greatest heavy rock players were European-except for Jimi Hendrix and Leslie West.  America has not been highly nourishing soil for metal guitarists.  In metal, at least.  Europeans maintain more of a purists approach to the genre.  

“I think European guitarists have been more original.” he remarked matter-of-factly.  Page—Beck—Clapton- Ritchie—my brother. In heavy rock. English players, especially, have had a more original feel. In coming from Germany, when I watch television over here, I see everything is made for posing—the advertisements and stuff.  In Europe, people are more natural, they are relaxed.  They don’t pay as  much attention to those things. Maybe the guitar players are like that, too.”

There is that name again Jimi Hendrix and who the hell is Leslie West.  It was years later that i heard Mississippi Queen, if you know what I mean.

By 1986, America had a decent amount of heavy rock players.  Going back to the Seventies, you had players like Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon and Eddie Van Halen.  By the Eighties you had players like Randy Rhoads, Warren DeMartini and George Lynch join the ranks.

It was hard to come up with any more American guitarists who fit the bill.  At the mention of Randy Rhoads, Schenker nodded enthusiastically, and then shook his head sadly.

If it wasn’t for Randy Rhoads, I wouldn’t have been able to play the way I play.  His dedication and precision on the two Ozzy albums will be forever remembered.

“Blues is the basis of all good guitar playing in this style of music,” Schenker concluded.  The Americans are not as bluesy as the English are.  Clapton, Beck, Page—they’re all influenced by the blues.  English players found the right combination for bringing blues and modern rock together.”

Artists speaking their minds.  If you agree with Rudolf’s point of view or not, one thing is clear, he is not afraid to get it out there.  Maybe it is that famed German arrogance, or maybe it is truth.

I honestly believe that music captured in its purest form is magical.  The  purest form is when music is written without the thoughts of profits in minds.  In the late sixties and early seventies, this is what music was.  It was pure.  It wasn’t tainted by Wall Street, by profit margins and balance sheets.

According to his guitar technician, Vince Flaxington, Rudolf Schenker keeps it simple. The Scorpions’ veteran rhythm player carries six Flying Vs on the road, his favorite of the bunch being a black and white 1964 model that his brother gave him about a year or so ago; he also likes the black and gold model, an ’82 reissue, while the remaining four are strictly backups.  

Schenker is a Flying V fanatic, having forty-odd variations of the instrument at home, about a third of which are original issue models.  Indeed, he doesn’t own anything else. He saw his first V in the hands of Johnny Winter and became an instant convert to its sleek good looks.  The best one he ever had, he said, went with his brother when Michael Schenker left the Scorps.  His guitar tech says every one is stock, Rudolf uses only Gibson pickups and refuses to let anyone alter his beloved Vs.  Not even with Strap-Loks.

Onstage, the guitarist uses three 50-watt Marshall heads that drive six 4 x 12 cabinets.  The Marshalls are “quite old”—a ’67, a 1970, and a 1980, all stock.  The volume is set at 9; the EQ knobs are all full-tilt.  His sole effect is a Vox wah-wah, one of the first made, although Schenker only uses it for about five numbers in the current set.  The cabinets also are stock.  He uses a Nady wireless system. 

“His tone is like broken glass,” Flaxington grinned. “That’s the way he wants it—sharp, clear and raunchy.”

Simply and effective set up.  He is a purest.  He didn’t go searching for that sound the way others did.  He just plugged in and let it rip.

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