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

Take These Ten Rockmandments

Anyone seen Mel Brook’s “History Of The World” movie and that scene of Moses descending down the mountain yelling, ” Lord, take these fifteen commandments” and then one block of stone drops and then he starts to yell “Lord, take these Ten, Ten Commandments.”

Classic cinema. So as on ode to that movie, I have been listening to some tunes on the iPod. Each of these songs has a lyrical line that should be a new commandment.

1. THOU SHALT LIVE AND NEVER LIVE JUST TO KILL TIME.

City Limits

The band is “I Am Giant” and it is from the album, “The Horrifying Truth” released in 2011, however the song goes back a few years more as it came out on an EP.

“These city limits keep on getting bigger
Just when you thought you had made it out”

Anyone had that feeling before. Just when you thought that you had made it, the city limits are suddenly greater than what you thought they would be. Like that small town boy and girl in “Dont Stop Believin” or like those tramps in “Born To Run”.

“Are we living or merely killing time”

A brilliant lyric line, one of the best. It’s that good, it is self explanatory.

2. THOU SHALT MAKE THEIR ENEMIES INTO FADED MEMORIES.

Dearly Departed

From the 2014 “Men Of Honor” album by Adrenaline Mob. I love the mob. Russell Allen and Mike Orlando really do justice to this project. This song connects on all levels because we have all known someone like the person they sing about.

“And now your my enemy, soon to be a memory”

No one likes to be around people who drag them down. Enemies hang around if you let them. The best response to an enemy is to make them a memory.

“We were the best of friends, thought it would never end
I curse the day when they said you were selling me out”

There is a pretty good chance that the people you hang with right now are not the ones that you grew up with or spent a lot of time with.

3. THOU SHALT NOT FIGHT SOLO. THERE IS A STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.

Draw The Line

From the album, “O God Save Us All”. Disciple is like an enigma to me. They range from pop rock to heavy rock. This song connects on so many levels.

“Another crash, another fall
Another failure
Another choice i don’t want to remember
I been here too many times”

Who hasn’t been in a situation like this. Some more so than others. Me personally, I have been in a lot of situations like this. Choices I made that even know when I look back, i don’t want to remember.

“This is where I draw the line
This is where the old me dies
Light a match let it burn kiss it goodbye”

In a hospital room in 2010. That is where I drawed the line.

“Another battle I lost fighting solo”

It should be a commandment. Nothing is achieved in a vacuum. Ask for help and count on your loved ones.

4. THOU SHALT NOT WAKE ALONE. LOVE YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. BE MERCIFUL.

Angel Of Mercy

The mighty Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. What can I say about this song that I havent said already. It is a masterpiece and that lead break gives me goosebumps.

“I woke alone today
For all the birds have flown”

“No Angel Of Mercy
Is gonna hear my call

It’s that vocal melody and the tone of the voice that makes it work. When you take into account the recent blood clot saga it just ups the emotional stakes a little bit more.

5. THOU SHALT NEVER CHANGE WHO THEY ARE. DON’T LET OTHERS DICTATE WHO YOU SHOULD BE AND WHAT YOU SHOULD DO.

It’s Time

Imagine Dragons and their mega selling “Night Visions” album. I can’t say I am a fan of the whole album but this song just stuck with me. Maybe because the vocal melody in the Chorus is identical to an instrumental song I wrote back in 1998 called “Moonlight Tango” which I used as one of my wedding waltz songs.

I am just the same as i was
Now don’t you understand that
I am never-changing who I am

6. THOU SHALT NOT BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO THE WAY IT USED TO BE. TIME MOVES ON. CHANGE IS CONSTANT. EVOLUTION IS ALL ABOUT CHANGE. EMBRACE CHANGE AND MOVE FORWARD.

Used To Be

From the band “Arrows To Athens” and their 2007 album “Kings And Thieves”. It is a David Hodges project. Yes, the same David Hodges that co-wrote the majority of the “Fallen” album by Evanescence with Ben Moody and Amy Lee.

“Take a breath
Take a long look around
Before you step
Because the tide is coming
Swallowing the ground
And there is no way to tell
If we will drown tonight”

It’s almost biblical with references to a tide that is coming and the uncertainty that the tide brings.

“We cannot go back to the way it used to be”

The commandment right there.

7. THOU SHALT NOT FAIL EVEN THOUGH FAILURE EXISTS.

Moth

From the new 2014 Hellyeah album “Blood For Blood” produced by the great man Kevin Churko. It could have come from a Mudvayne album. It was one of the first pieces of music that vocalist Chad Gray gravitated too for lyrics. And he goes to town on it.

“Treated like an animal since the day I was born”

A person born with a silver spoon will never relate however millions upon millions of others will.

“Like a moth to a flame
My wings burn away”
“Failure is not an option
But the option exists”

What a fucking line! What more can be said.

8. CHERISH WHAT YOU HAVE BECAUSE ONCE IT IS GONE, IT IS GONE FOREVER. 

Until It’s Gone

From the new Linkin Park album “The Hunting Party”.

“You don’t know what you got (x3)
Until its gone”

Pause.

Then BANG. The song groove kicks in again. Linkin Park are masters of the heavy pop rock song and Chester Bennington has the voice for it. Without him, Linkin Park would be just another band trying to make it. Chester is the X FACTOR.

9. DO NOT DWELL ON THOSE THAT NO LONGER CARE

Denial Waits

From Ashes Divide only album released in 2008, “Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright.”

“If I saw you right now
I’m embarrassed to say
I’d take you back
And we could just pretend you never went away”

It’s pathetic how we continue to dwell on someone who no longer cares for us in the vain hope that maybe they’ll come around and realize what they’ve left behind.

10. THERE IS NOTHING TO LOSE WHEN YOU ARE DOWN TO A POCKET FULL OF CHANGE

End Of My Rope

From Asphalt Ballet and their excellent debut album released in 1991.

Well it’s a ruthless world with a painted face
Ain’t nothing’ gonna change but the time and place

That’s the “History Of The World” in a nutshell.

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Music, My Stories

Adrenaline Mob

“Men Of Honour” is a really good solid hard rock / heavy metal album in the same vein as all of the great hard rock albums of this genre from the Eighties. And that is what Adrenaline Mob essentially is. Seasoned professionals collaborating on a hard rock project. For some reason they remind me of Night Ranger.

The debut album “Omerta” was number 4 on my list for releases in 2012. I hold the vocal talents of Russell Allen and the guitar talents of Mike Orlando in high regard. Add to those talents the powerhouse drumming from Mike Portnoy on the first album (and the two EPs) and of course the mighty AJ Pero appears on the second album. As a Twisted Sister fan, this is a great thing to see happen. And finally John Moyer from Disturbed is providing the bottom end.

Listening to “Men Of Honour”, it comes across as a band having fun and man it rocks hard and it is saturated with groove.

In the U.S, Soundscan tells us that it sold 3,600 copies in its first week of release. Seriously does anyone care about the sales. Go on Spotify. You will see that with all the songs combined, Adrenaline Mob has racked up a total stream count of 98,177 streams. On YouTube, the “Come On Get Up” (LYRIC VIDEO) on the Century Media Records has had 184,489 views. The “Mob Is Back” and “Feel The Adrenaline” lyric videos are both over 50,000 views each.

Of course compared to the numbers that the mainstream pop artists are getting, it pales, however Adrenaline Mob are not trying to do battle with Imagine Dragons or One Republic. They want to be kings of their hard rock niche.

I had heard of Mike Orlando but I never knew any of his music. He is like that star guard that slips under the radar, doing his thing. “The Mob Is Back” has that Eddie Van Halen “Eruption” thing for the first minute before it moves into the actual song. Remember the era when bands used to write songs purely for the rock n roll show instead of the charts. Well, this is one such song. It is a live song. A song to let our hair down to and rock away.

“Turn out the lights, we are all here tonight, We came to throw down, the Mob’s back in town.”

I don’t know what to call Orlando’s guitar style. One term I have for it is “Technical Chaos”. He has the chops, but he plays more with improvised abandonment then precision and I like that.

How good is the bridge like part in “Come On And Get Up”. The part I am talking about has the following lyrics;

This is the bed you made
You got one foot in the grave
And you’re slowly dying
Now here’s where you make your stand
Cause your life is in your hands
And there’s no denying
So quit your crying

It’s the arena rock like chorus (and it is a bridge) intertwined with the current modern rock radio verses.

“Dearly Departed” keeps the momentum going. The vocal phrasing reminds me of the great Ronnie James Dio. The track starts off with power, full of attitude and then when they hit the chorus, it’s like Russell Allen is kneeling at the altar and testifying.

When it’s time to die
You can cry your heart out when you’re lying face down
The chords they never lie
Don’t tell me that you’re sorry
‘Cause no-one else is sorrier than me

Adrenaline Mob are a band that will make their money from touring and merchandise. They know that and that is why they write songs specifically for the live show. It is their own niche radio station.

Century Media is their North American and European label. They do great work for metal and rock in general, however I still think they are a label that doesn’t get the current recording business. For example, Century Media did all the things that worked two decades ago.

The album had two different release dates for the US and Europe. Corporate Deals got organised for album streams and track streams. Back in the day, these used to be radio promo singles. Lyric Videos (aka Music Videos) got released in the lead up.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Having Mike Portnoy in your band a good thing or a bad thing these days?

Mike Portnoy is a hard worker. There is no doubt about that. However, the question needs to be asked. With so many projects running, where is the quality control?

Of course, I know that quality is in the eye of the beholder and since Portnoy is just a drummer, the quality is in the music.

Music comes from the guitarists/keyboardists he chooses to work with. The guitar player in the band has the same value as a Number 1 draft pick for a losing team. You build a championship winning team around a great guitar player.

In Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy had the Michael Jordan of guitar players in John Petrucci. When Portnoy left the DT team, he committed career suicide in my view.

In Adrenaline Mob, he had the wild card roughie, Mike Orlando, who in my view is getting really close to the greatness of Iommi and I seriously believe this band is capable of producing a classic album like Heaven and Hell from Black Sabbath.

In Transatlantic he has a minor league player in Roine Stolt on guitar and another minor league/division two songwriter in Neal Morse. (Anyone remember Morse, Portnoy, George project, it was a deadest joke). If you want to hear quality spread thin, listen to Neal’s solo albums.

In Flying Colors he has the veteran superstar in Steve Morse, who has done his victory lap already and is now also spreading himself too far and too thin with Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, Flying Colors and the Steve Morse band.

And that brings us to The Winery Dogs. For this project to be special, it needs to bring something different to the table, so that it stands out amongst the noise.

Richie Kotzen is a good guitar player, however there is nothing special about him. If I keep with the sporting analogies, this player wouldn’t win any trophies for you. He wouldn’t be a bad player to have on your team, but he is not the champion that you need. As a draft pick he would be way down the order.

When Kotzen came out with his first self-titled solo album in 1989 and with Fever Dream in 1990, he was just another shredder on the Shrapnel label. I have both of those albums and I can’t really remember much from them. I even purchased the Mr Big album he played on after Paul Gilbert left and that was also forgettable.

Just like Hard Rock and Glam Rock killed itself by cloning itself over and over again, the same thing happened to the Shred Movement.

Kotzen was a clone of the shred heroes that came before him like Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Paul Gilbert and Jason Becker (who also produced Kotzen’s first album).

There was also a Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughan blues influence, however that part of his playing didn’t really come out until he joined Poison. Maybe he was told to conform to the shred sweep picking style. The point. He is a clone of the shred era. He got his deal, because he could shred. Yes, he had talent. Yes, he practiced. Does he have the songs? No.

Even in his vocal delivery he clones Chris Cornell. There is nothing different or special about what he does and he is the centrepiece of the band as the guitarist and vocalist.

The point I am making is that there is no signature sound from Kotzen and since he is the frontman and the main songwriter, it is a troubling fact.

Which brings me to Mike Portnoy. Dream Theater success is because of the music. The musical instruments in the band are the guitars, keys and bass. Drums are a percussive instrument. If Mike Portnoy had never met John Petrucci, he would be just another talented drummer trying to make it.

Is Portnoy a great songwriter? Does he have the ability to write a great song on his own? My answer is NO.

Billy Sheehan is the bassist, and as good as he is, all good bassists need great guitar players. With Talas, Sheehan was the man, and that band was a product of its time, where it was cool to be a different and a leader and that is what Billy Sheehan was, a leader. However that band never really had success.

Then he found commercial success with two supergroups. First with David Lee Roth and then with Mr Big. In both of those bands, he had two monsters on the guitar. With David Lee Roth, he had Steve Vai (at one stage Yngwie Malmsteen was considered for the DLR slot) and with Mr Big, he had Paul Gilbert.

However is Billy Sheehan a great songwriter? Does he have the ability to great write a song on his own?

In DLR’s band, he had one song writing credit in Shy Boy, which is from his Talas’s days. In Mr Big, his name is over a lot of songs, and they are okay songs, however the main hit songs (which gave Billy Sheehan a career) are not written by him.

James Hetfield once said that he is anti-side projects for a very good reason. It dilutes the quality of the main product.

And in the end it is quality that the people want. That is the reality.

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