Influenced, Music, My Stories

Spin Review

I always like reading reviews and different people’s takes on new albums from artists.

In this Spin Review from August 1989, the reviewer decided its good practice to group, “In Your Face” from Kingdom Come (on Polydor), Blue Murder’s self-titled debut (on Geffen) and Badlands self-titled debut (on Atlantic). He’s probably thinking, why waste print space on three separate reviews when he can do it quicker with one review and have some fun with it.

So here we go with a Spin Review from Jon Young in italics.

“Sales figures suggest otherwise but heavy metal can be as quaint as doo wop or rockabilly. The endless shouting about loose ladies and glories of the road, punctuated by sweaty guitars, recalls a more innocent era, especially after the revisionist antics of Metallica and other killjoys.

Which probably matters not a whit to the innocent, hard-working dudes of Kingdom Come, Blue Murder and Badlands. They’re too busy pursuing “the blazing heart of rock and roll” (to quote KC’s Lenny Wolf).”

Things changed by 1989.

The reviewers of music had been exposed to so many records from “so many similar” sounding bands, that everything would have sounded the same to them. And their reviews started to reflect the sameness in a scathing way. Then again, controversy always got people’s attention, so maybe it was their way to get some traction.

Also this review mentions the revisionist antics of Metallica, who had a line of journalists eager to rewrite music history on their behalf and claim that every album from Metallica swept all that came before and led the way for so many different styles of music, when in fact, the first two albums “Kill Em All” and “Ride The Lightning” had a cult following but were ignored by the larger music buying public. It took the Ozzman to take em on tour for the “Master Of Puppets” album for them to begin commence their crossover.

“Ridiculed last year for the Led Zeppelin fixation, Kingdom Come seizes he moment to refute the doubters on their sophomore effort; “In Your Face” kicks off with “Do You Like It”, a churning rave up totally unlike Zep. It’s also the dullest cut of the bunch.

After this bold departure we’re happily back to the sincerest form of flattery, as Lenny Wolf portrays Robert Plant to a fare-thee-well, expertly replication his idol’s sighs, moans and grunt.

If only he had some flair – you need real style to sing convincingly about lemon squeezes and big legged woman, after all. His bandmates lack the chops to follow suit, contenting themselves with generic plodding. When lead guitarist Danny Stag finally summons up the nerve to try a Pagesque solo on “Perfect O”, you’ll want to have a copy of “Houses Of The Holy” handy as an antidote.”

The Wolfster might have glanced his eyeballs over this review, because he fired his whole band soon after, to replace them with German musicians. Or maybe it was a move for money’s sake as Lenny Wolf was the one who got the recording contract.

“At least Kingdom Come has a vision, albeit an unoriginal one.

The aimless Blue Murder exudes the unmistakable aroma of instant disaster. Decked out in swashbuckler gear from Adam Ant’s rummage sale, stone-faced vets John Sykes (Whitesnake), Tony Franklin (The Firm) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, etc) raise a ruckus to little effect.

Blame front man Sykes, who tries to touch every base imaginable and ends up nowhere. A shrill vocalist and hyperactive guitarist, he ranges from thudding sword and sorcery epics reminiscent of Rainbow (“Valley Of The Kings”) to bloated pop tailored for airplay in hell (“Jelly Roll”).

Sykes hits a ghastly pinnacle of sorts on the weepy “Out Of Love”, seven minutes of aggressive self-pity guaranteed to inspire fond thoughts of Steve Perry and Journey.

No about these gents will move on to more rewarding gigs, Appice remains a sharp drummer, though he looks too old for this nonsense and hide Blue Murder at the bottom of the resume.”

The pirate look was a massive screw up for Blue Murder. It was so out of touch with everything. Even Dio, who was sort of into that black clothed sorcerer look, was moving towards street clothing, which Guns N Roses and Motley started with “Appetite” and “Girls”. I agree with the review that the sound was big and bloated, and that is where our agreeance ends. The debut album was exactly what my ear drums needed.

“The Badlands boys make a show of their own inauspicious trappings; they’ve got a lame motto (“Feels so Good to be so Bad”) and singer Ray Gillen claims credit for blues harp. I doubt the guy ever studied with James Cotton.

Well, shut my mouth, cause their self-titled debut is hot stuff.

Led by guitarist Jake E.Lee, who paid dues with Ozzy Osbourne, the lads turn the usual ingredients into big, beaty entertainment, part stomping metal and part belch-rock in the spirt of early Bad Company. “Dreams In The Dark” and “Seasons” qualify for actual tunes, not just inflated riffs and Lee adds welcome shades of color here and there, augmenting the electric guitars with dobro, sitar, mandolin and other exotica.

A genuinely inventive guitarist, he really makes his strings talk on the struttin, “Rumblin’ Train” and the rip-snortin’ “Dancing On The Edge”.

After the muddled clichés of their peers, Badlands’ clean attack is inviting. There’s more constructive sounds around, but never underestimate the pleasures of good trash. Now ‘scuse me while I boogie one time.”

The Badlands debut is a killer debut. There isn’t a bad song on it, except for the egos, which Eric Singer more or less alluded to when he left because the band environment wasn’t to his liking.

And it (along with Voodoo Highway) will never be on a streaming service as the Atlantic Reps have killed it, due to the daughter of one of their contracting the HIV virus from Ray Gillen.

But since Jake E. Lee is on Frontiers, expect a re-recording to happen as Frontiers President Serafino Perugino, is trying to get all the artists on his roster to re-record their best songs (especially the artists who made it big during the 70’s and 80s) so Frontiers can lock up these versions for at least another 100 years under Copyright.

And for the record, all three records are excellent.

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The Record Vault – Black Veil Brides

Let’s talk about Jinxx and Jake Pitts.

Jinxx and Jake Pitts, are the guitarists in Black Veil Brides (from here on, known as BVB). Jinxx plays rhythm guitars and violins and Jake Pitts is the lead guitarist.

Jinxx (real name is Jeremy Ferguson) is also classically trained, but the first album, he ever owned was “And Justice For All” from Metallica. Great mix in my book. His influences are of course, Randy Rhoads, Metalica and the various classical composers that inspired Malmsteen.

Meanwhile Jake Pitts learnt music and harmony theory from his mum, who is also an accomplished classical pianist in her own right. And of course, his influences are people like Randy Rhoads, Paul Gilbert, EVH, Dimebag Darrel, the Schenker brothers, the various Dio guitarists and of course Metallica.

And these two dudes are very big reasons why I am a BVB fan. Plus Bob Rock produced their self-titled fourth album and what an album it is.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Courtesy of The Pirate Bay, I downloaded their first two albums. I liked em and I purchased them from Amazon U.S as it was cheaper to purchase from the U.S and pay for delivery than to buy them here in Australia. It’s insane how physical products are priced in Australia.

Even the Guitar World magazines. A subscription from the U.S would get me 12 issues for $70 Australian. That comes to $5.83 an issue. To buy that same issue from the newsstands, the cost was $15 an issue.

Anyway, back to BVB.

We Stich These Wounds

Released in 2010, it starts off with a scratchy vinyl record playing and a small talking piece called “The Outcasts (Call To Arms)”. And then the riff for the title track, “We Stich These Wounds” kicks off and I was hooked.

The guitar playing in BVB is exactly what I like. And the “outcasts” theme is what BVB would build their songs around. Metal and hard rock bands from the 80’s had these themes as well.

Vocalist Andy Biersack is not as confident on this album as he is on the albums which followed, but heavy metal music was never about perfect pitch. It’s about the rawness, the attitude, the melody and the aggression. Of course when bands got bigger, they actually got better as well.

Then again, for all of the vocal lessons that someone like James Hetflied had for the “Black” album because Bob Rock requested it, I still prefer his chainsaw like vocals from the first four albums.

In “Beautiful Remains” the guitar solo is a shred-a-licious.

“Children Surrender” has a fast paced intro, with an excellent melodic lead and a chorus with harmony guitars and lots of wohhhs. There is screaming in the pre-chorus which I’m not a fan off, but the music is enough to get me going. And before I forget, the drumming is metronomic precision by Christian “CC” Coma.

“Perfect Weapon” and “Knives And Pens” have the best riffs on the album. On the Reddit forum’s it’s been mentioned that “Knives And Pens” is a rip off from an Avenged Sevenfold song. To me, the riff is from the NWOBHM, one of those derivative riffs that just can’t be copyrighted, so if people are looking for a well-known song, “Electric Eye” from Judas Priest comes to mind.

And the Chorus in both songs is worthy of attention.

The creepy title of “The Morticians Daughter” disguises an acoustic song which borders on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Ballad Rock.

And the best solo on the album is on the song, “All Your Hate”. Listen to it and put the guitar back in the box. It reminds me of the solo in “Afterlife” by Synester Gates in A7X.

And all of the classical influences from Jinxx and Jake Pitts comes out in “Heaven’s Calling”. Crank it and enjoy it. It’s a song that deserves more attention. “Never Give In” also breaks out the classical references with a digital delay melodic riff. “Carolyn” is written by Jake Pitts dealing with his mother’s illness. Listen to it as it has so much beautiful guitar moments.

Basically, the debut has enough musical moments to get me interested. On to album number two.

Set The Word On Fire

Released in 2011.

The album kicks off with a monster in “New Religion”, full of double time riffage. It’s all an album without any song writing credits from Jinxx, however the two producers Josh Abraham and Lucien Walker get a few credits here and there, and Marti Frederiksen, who is well known for his song writing contributions to Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and other artists of the hard rock genre.

It moves into “Set The World On Fire” with more excellent riffage and you know that by track 2, Andy Biersack has found his Mr Sparrow swagger. “Fallen Angels” is track 3 and it’s a three punch combo knockout. It also has 28.4 million streams on Spotify.

“Rebel Love Song” keeps the up-tempo vibe of the album going with more riffage and killer leads. Plus Choruses that are memorable. “The Legacy” is a thrash song crossed with a pop song chorus.

“Die For You” is probably my favourite. It’s the Chorus which seals the deal. Its written by Biersack, Pitts, bassist Ashely Purdy and Frederiksen. No surprise there that the co-writing credit Frederiksen has, delivers my favourite song on the album.

After the album was finished and recorded, the guys put Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” on and starting mixing the album with the “Hysteria” vibe. They are ticking all of the boxes in my book so far of paying homage to their roots or to the best-selling hard rock albums.

The Wretched and Divine

The concept album with the “Mad Max” and “Shout At The Devil” look was released in 2012. They even had a movie made that told the story of the “The Wretched And The Divine” uprising against F.E.A.R, the overlords who protect and watch over the citizens in this dystopian Mad Max wasteland.

“I Am Bulletproof” is a perfect opener and “Wretched and Divine” is a metal track, the way I know metal. It’s guitar heavy and I like it. The guitar solo is a guitar hero spotlight full of melody, and brought to life by fast alternative picking, sweep picking, bends and legato lines.

“We Don’t Belong” is the best Bon Jovi chorus that Jon Bon Jovi didn’t write, with its woohs and ohs. “Devils Choir” has another guitar hero spotlight solo while “Resurrect The Sun” moves between being a ballad and a rocker.

“Overture” is a violin instrumental and it showcases the impressive violin skills of guitarist Jinxx. He layers those violins and creates a symphony. “Shadows Die” is up next, with its very sounding Avenged Sevenfold arrangement. “Days Are Numbered” has got this up-tempo “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) inspired riff, which connects and gets me interested.

“Done For You” is just a laid back ballad and man, it reminds me of Coheed and Cambria. And the Chorus has a repeating line of “it’s all done for you” and the ohhh backing vocals. Its haunting and hopeful. The yin and the yang.

“Lost It All” has this piano intro which immediately connects. And Biersack sings with a bass-baritone voice, which is perfect for the melancholy that the first part of the song brings out. Then the band comes in, and man, this is a good song. That’s it. It’s a good song. The way Jinxx and Jake Pitts decorate the verses with their palm muted arpeggios and Jinxx is also wailing away on his violin. And then the violin takes centre stage from about the 3 minute mark, with female gospel like vocals.

Then the big one starts, “In The End” with 84.6 million streams on Spotify and counting. Plus it has a Gold certification from the RIAA, for over 500,000 sales in the U.S.

Black Veil Brides

The self-titled album came out in 2014.

Bob Rock is producing and man, this dude takes it to another level in the sonics and the sound. It’s perfect. If you are a fan of the 80’s music or grew up during the 80’s and want an introduction to Black Veil Brides, then let this album be it. I swear it’s like a different band, that’s how good Bob Rock is in capturing everything.

“Heart Of Fire” is the opening track and it plummets your brain with the sonics, the heaviness and its super catchy chorus. And on this album, there are a lot of outside songwriters. For example, this song is written by Andy Biersack, Jake Pitts and Jinxx, along with Justin Cordle and Mark Holman. Don’t know who these dudes are or their background, but who cares, as the song is doing the talking.

“Faithless” is a thrash metal piece in the intro. Listen to it. Metallica hasn’t written anything this heavy and this good in the 2000’s. The first 40 seconds is a circle mosh pit. This song has a song writing committee of Biersack, Pitts and Christian Coma from the band, along with Tommy English and Nick Long. Again, no idea who these extra song writing dudes are from.

From about 2.50 there is this military style snare beat, which sort of sets up the song for the interlude and solo section. Again, it’s a thrash metal mosh. Did I mention the guitar solo is another entry into the guitar hero spotlight?

“Devil In The Mirror” again brings out the heaviness. This one is written by Biersack, Pitts and Jinxx from the band, along with Tommy English and Josh Moran as the outside writers.

“Goodbye Agony” is my favourite. That clean tone intro riff reminds me of “Tears Of A Dragon” from Bruce Springsteen merged with “Nobody’s Fool” from Cinderella. It’s a good song.

“World Of Sacrifice” has this bridge section from about 2.20 which gets my head nodding and there is no guitar solo spotlight on this one. Because it didn’t need one, the riffage and all the guitar melodies over it was enough.

“Last Rites” is a head banging hard rock song.

“Walk Away” is written by Biersack, Pitts and Jinxx from the band, along with Marti Frederiksen and Mark Holman. It’s a ballad, but it’s not clichéd or boring or all mushie. Just listen to the last two minutes of this song. You will know what I mean.

“Drag Me To The Grave” has another head banging and foot stomping riff along with an arena rock chorus. “The Shattered God” has another bone crunching riff in the intro. And the album closers with “Crown Of Thorns” another rocker.

After this album, Andy Biersack released two solo albums which lived in the pop and acoustic domain, under the name of Andy Black.

Then “Vale” came out from Black Veil Brides in 2018, a prequel to “The Wretched And Divine” album. And a two song single called “The Night” came out towards the end of 2019. But the band became a bit different, with bassist, Ashley Purdy leaving in 2019, replaced by Lonny Eagleton.

I’m interested to hear what’s next.

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You Want A Battle (Here’s A War)

“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)” from Bullet For My Valentine (BFMV) starts off with a call to arms which is familiar to people who grew up in the 80’s.

“We will not take this anymore, These words will never be ignored, You want a battle? Here’s a war”

And the band blasts in with some head banging riffage.

The message based on the first three lines, is the same message from Twisted Sister’s war cry of “we’re not gonna take it”, to Bullet For My Valentine’s “we will not take this anymore”.

But the subject matter is a bit different if you look at the music videos.

While in the 80’s, the enemy for Dee Sninder and Co. was the disciplinary parent while the BFMV music video, the enemy is the abusive parent and the violence in the family, until the victims get their revenge.

And the Genus lyrical annotations state the song is about bullying. Which is basically what the Twisted Sister song is about as well. Standing up to the oppressors.

Don’t suffer in your silence
Know you are never alone

Vocalist and guitarist, Matt Tuck, said that he suffered a lot of bullying at school because he was the heavy metal kid with long hair that didn’t fit in and how it took him a lot of time to finally stand up for himself.

You see, back in the 80s, there was a lot of metal heads in just the one area/school. The music and the metal movement was like a juggernaut and all of us sick motherfuckers helped propel it.

But as the years went by, the metal head unity got more fragmented.

Suddenly a fan of Death couldn’t like Motley Crue or Bon Jovi. But I did. If you liked Metallica or Slayer, how could you like Poison and Warrant. But I liked all of em.

Suddenly a Pearl Jam fan couldn’t be a Dream Theater fan or a Yngwie Malmsteen fan. But I was.

Suddenly a Smashing Pumpkins fan couldn’t be an AC/DC fan. But I was.

But to the elitist, it was sacrilege and man they and their little stooges sure knew how to let you know. And all I can say to these elitists with fixed mindsets and surrounded by their echo chambers, they missed out on experiencing different things.

From about the 2.50 minute mark there is this bridge like section which I like and then when the outro chorus kicks in with an open string melodic lick under it, its head banging stuff.

Check it out.

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Up All Night

Slaughter is a forgotten band.

The people who normally read and comment on this blog would know that Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum were in Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion, which was signed to Chrysalis, when a person called John Sykes ran the label (not the John Sykes that we all know from Whitesnake, Blue Murder, Thin Lizzy and Tygers Of Pang Tang fame), but what a bloody coincidence.

Anyway, Vincent’s diva like demands didn’t sit well with the label and they offered the rest of his deal to Slaughter and Strum and the rest is history.

For two albums, Slaughter ruled because the band could rock, could croon like Michael Bolton and they could also bring out the metal, with Mark Slaughter belting out a triple octave voice.

And they even had a 25 year old Michael Bay direct the music video clip for this song. In 5 years’ time, he would become well known with the first “Bad Boys” movie.

Up all night
Sleep all day

This is an anthem.

It still has the same power 30 plus years later as it did back in the day. We tried to live to this. Artists lived this life, they didn’t care about their brand, their endorsements, their promo on Morning Breakfast shows. They kept it mysterious. All to themselves. With a lot of groupies.

Which doesn’t even exist anymore in music, because the techies and the financers are now breaking the rules and living the rock star lifestyle. When Steve Jobs hit the stage at an Apple launch event, he was greeted with an applause that was normally reserved for rock stars. When Oprah or Ellen or Lettermen walked onto their sets, they had a bigger applause than rock stars.

And musicians just kept signing their rights away for another chance to record and to be in a state of never recouping with the labels, while the labels laughed their way to billions in profits. Those same label execs who contributed nothing to culture, fly private, while the artists who made them billions don’t. There is no way a techie would have given away their rights the same way the music artists did.

When evening comes
I am alive

I feel I am most productive at night. Sometimes its past midnight and I don’t want to sleep because I am in the zone.

Up all night, sleep all day.

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Interesting Times

Interesting times we are living through. We have gotten so used to everything just happening. Flick on a switch and the light comes on instantly. It doesn’t matter where you go, you are connected to the internet and to all of the good and bad things that comes with it. Book a holiday and it happens.

But now, everything is getting cancelled or postponed.

Machine Head just cancelled their European tour, so did Sons Of Apollo a week earlier. Festivals are cancelled. NBA cancelled its season, football leagues in Europe and the US have either suspended their leagues or cancelled their leagues or are having matches/events go ahead behind closed doors.

Goes to show how much dollars the TV rights are.

In Australia, the Formula 1 Grand Prix was on with an audience, then it was on with no audience and now it is off, when McLaren pulled out because they had members in their team with Coronavirus.

Holidays have been cancelled, my Euro trip in April has been postponed to sometime in September, whatever that means and countries have shut down people movements and from all of this, there is no toilet paper in Australia but plenty of alcohol to buy.

And this will be a hard time for artists who make their coin on the road and the crew that also rely on these tours to make coin.

Brian Slagel posted on Twitter how fans should purchase something from the artist, like buying music or merchandise. It’s a nice suggestion, but then again Slagel is in the business of selling recorded music, while the world has gravitated to streaming, which based on the streams that rock artists get, it doesn’t pay enough to be split between band members, management, legal and labels.

But, the people who buy, have already purchased something. The people who stream, will continue to stream, regardless of the pleas. It’s just the way it is of the interesting times we are living in.

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February 2020 – Part 3

And with this post, February 2020 is wrapped up. You can find the Spotify playlist here and posts one here, and post two here.

Tension
Afterlife – Alternate Version
Avenged Sevenfold

These old cuts are from their B sides re-release on Spotify.  “Tension” is a favourite of mine.

I sit in traffic every single morning
Just as I arrive, im slaving to the grind
Making the money so I feed my family
But I can’t raise them, cause I aint got the time

God damn, that was my life for 7 years as I commuted 90 minutes (on a good day) to work one way.

And what is the point of making money for your family when you can’t spend time with them.

By the way, the outro solo in “Afterlife” makes me want to break my guitar and never touch it again. The speed, the precision and the melody.

Bubbles
Framing Hanley

It reminds me of Chevelle and I like it.

There’s a revolution coming’
Fuelled by years of giving’ in

These kind of revolutions are always long overdue, but giving in for too many years is not how one should live their life. The song could be about a relationship, but society at large is no different. We give in to the demands of teachers, employers, corrupt politicians and everyone else who tries to exploit someone.

And then the fuel turns to fire.

I’ve sat in silence
burning up my tongue

Man, I have been there so many times. I wanted to say the words, I wanted to step in, but I didn’t. I am thankful I didn’t bite, but man, my tongue was on fire.

All our lives in a bubble
Losing sight of reality
We paint the lie in pretty colors
And blur the lines and what’s between

So many people I know are separating because their bubble burst and reality took over. There is only so much bull shit a relationship can take. Even in society, when the GFC happened, the bubble burst big time and its bursting again now because of COVID-19. And people need to face this shit, it’s real and it’s here.

Your confusion
Has got you twisting’ facts
Your fantasy intact
Tell the story how you want to
But we both know the truth

This could be about any Facebook news site or website, which is filled by the same voices, saying the same thing, in a constant echo chamber.

Eventually, people who are not sure what to believe, come across these viewpoints and stories, and start to believe that it is all true.

If there is one thing I can recommend, read critically. Read points of view that differ to your own, read points of view that you agree with and read points of view that are totally out there. Somewhere in between the lines of what you expose yourself to, there will be your truth.

Under The Graveyard
All My Life
Eat Me
Straight To Hell
Goodbye
Ozzy Osbourne

These are my favourite tracks from the album at this point in time.

For a 70 year old artist, to deliver an album this good, it’s amazing. The people around Ozzy, like his family, the label, management and so forth, they know that Ozzy is marketable. Surround him with creativity and good musicians/producers, it can’t really go that bad, could it.

“Under The Graveyard” has a clean tone intro which could end up on any pop song, that’s how much crossover appeal the riff has. The chorus is heavy, and that “Children Of The Grave” solo section fits.

“All My Life” is similar to songs that have appeared on previous Ozzy albums. The album “Scream” has a few songs with this major key vibe. “Eat Me” came from the depths of Ozzy’s Delta Blues Sabbath past. “Straight To Hell” rocks out of the gate and “Goodbye” starts off like “Iron Man” but it sounds like a track from “Ozzmosis” which is an album I dig.

Get well Ozzy, scrap touring and keep recording and releasing.

Create a final legacy and based on current Copyright laws (which I disagree with anyway) your music and image will be with your family for another 70 plus years after death (there is an RIAA push to extend this to 90 years).  

Dangerous Ground
Come Clean
Victory
We Are Gods
Adrenaline
One By One
Heaven Must Have Won An Angel
Under The Gun
Rise
H.E.A.T

This album surprised me at how good it is. I can’t even explain all the influences on it that I hear.

Songs feel like they come from Harem Scarem, Skid Row, White Lion, Van Halen, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Kiss, Whitesnake, DLR, Dokken, Queensryche, Europe, Scorpions, Nelson, Lynch Mob, Firehouse, Ozzy “Bark At The Moon” and “The Ultimate Sin” era, Malmsteen “Trilogy” and “Odyssey” era, Judas Priest, Poison and Motley Crue albums.

There is just so much good stuff happening, and if you really like the 80’s, then man, this album is for you.  

“Dangerous Ground” kicks off with the sound of an high performance motor vehicle starting. It’s perfect for a Mad Max movie. “Come Clean” has a Chorus which remains with me long after the song is finished. “Victory” kicks off with an instantly memorable guitar lick before morphing into a heavy riff. “We Are Gods” sounds like it came from the movie “Rockstar”. “Adrenaline” has this Journey vibe, but the more rockier Journey than the ballad Journey.

Heartless Madness
Dynazty

I love the Swedes. The music that comes out of the country is something which resonates with me. This one is like a symphonic classical rock song, with some Vito Bratta style soloing. And we get treated to two solos, in the middle and the outro. Check em out and be blown away.

I Will Not Fall
King King

From Scotland, their cover of a song called “Jealousy” by Frankie Miller made me a fan and I have been following them ever since. This one is more funky and I like it.

Catastrophist
Trivium

I love Trivium. The riffage from these guys gets me head banging all the time. This song just came into my life at the end of Feb so it’s in my March list as well.

Wait
Earshot

This is from 2004 and it came back into my life this year. If you like Tool, then you will like Earshot. If you hate Tool because they don’t know how to edit their songs, then Earshot is the band for you, who write nice 4 minute songs with arena rock choruses chucked in but with a Tool like vibe.

Underwater Silence
Audiovent

I checked this band out because of the blog, 2Loud2OldMusic.

This is from 2002, a one off album before they argued over the direction of the second album and broke up. This song is a mixture of all the best things I like about Muse, hence the reason why it stuck with me.

Man Or Ash
Corrosion Of Conformity

This is from 1996.

Mike Ladano started reviewing Corrosion of Conformity albums on his blog, I commented that I got into the band because James Hetfield spoke very highly of em in various interviews and suddenly I am overdosing on this song.

The riffs on this song, a cross between Sabbath, Metallica, Soundgarden and Pantera, gets me moving, gets me frowning and gets my head banging. And once the lead break kicks in, the speed of it comes from out of nowhere before it morphs into a wah drenched bluesy break.

Plus did I mention that James Hetfield provides backing vocals and he sounds as angry as ever.

Day At The Beach
Joe Satriani

This is from 1989 and I was showing my son a song that has tap harp like harmonics. Listen to the intro of this song and get blown away.

The mighty Satriani never disappoints. 30 plus years in the business as a solo artist playing primarily, instrumental music. That’s Legend status for me.

And that’s a wrap for February 2020 releases with a few oldies but goodies chucked in.

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Value

When you create something, what value do you attach to that creation?

I like wine and the experience with wine is like music, totally subjective and personal. I even like drinking wine with music. A bitter shiraz for the more heavier and thrashier Metal, a smooth Cabernet Merlot blend for hard rock music, a spicy Cabernet Sauvignon for heavier and progressive rock and a Merlot for my favorite guitar solos.

A winemaker makes a wine and believes it’s worth a $100 a bottle. It doesn’t mean it’s really worth that much to the public, but to the winemaker who put their blood, sweat and tears in making it, it is worth that much.

The artists who put their blood, sweat and tears into their works also believe their works are valuable.

But the winemakers can test the market with prices. Eventually that wine bottle will hit a price and people will buy it, because alcohol is alcohol and we like to consume alcohol (well the majority does) and it’s a billion dollar industry in each country. Basically alcohol sells. Period.

So the winemaker releases the wine at $99 a bottle and nothing. No one is interested.

The winemaker reduces it by 20% and a few sales come, but not enough.

The winemaker reduces it by another 20% to $55 and still the sales are not enough.

Suddenly the winemaker is faced with a dilemma.

Do they go down to 60% off the normal price they wanted per bottle and see how it performs in the market place or do they stick to their guns and keep it at $55?

Well after careful thinking and planning, the winemaker is in the business of selling wines, so they go down to $45 and suddenly people are interested in trying this wine, 60% off its normal retail price. It’s a smart marketing move and people are suckered in by these kinds of deals.

And they sell out of wines, believing they have a customer base and that the next wine they release will sell out like this one. But it doesn’t sell out. Actually no one is really aware of the next releases because people like drinking wine not the brand.

Only a few brands have become household names in wine making around the world and people wait each year for their next release.

But for the rest of the winemakers, they start from scratch with each release, mining their email lists for sales, using online wine distributors for sales and so forth. And people buy wine without trying it based on the label on the bottle, the grapes used and maybe some reviews or awards. Like how we used to buy music without hearing it.

If we lived in the old CD distribution world and we had to purchase CDs to hear music, I would have purchased a lot more CD’s or LP’s than I do right now just based on covers and interviews.

But after hearing the album on streaming services I decided to not purchase the album, like the new Tool album, the recent Revolution Saints and Sons Of Apollo albums or from a few years back, the only album missing from my Dream Theater collection is “Distance Over Time”. Maybe I will get around to adding it to my collection but then again as I get older I don’t have the same need to have a complete collection.

So in all of this, the value an artist attaches to their work is never the same value the public sees in the work or wants to pay for the work.

A fan of your music will stream it and those streaming payments will be the value that part of the public attached to your works. Other fans will buy the physical releases and that’s the value they attach while others will either download it for free or pay for digital downloads or attend a show if you Tour.

Each fan is unique in their connection to you and the monies they are prepared to spend on you.

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Music, My Stories

Music And Life

I couldn’t imagine life before the TV much like my kids today can’t imagine life without the internet and everything being available.

Anyone who was around at the beginning of the MTV revolution, would have purchased a guitar or some other instrument. That’s what I did.

I bugged my Dad to buy me a guitar so he got me a classical guitar with the hope I could learn to play classical songs. He paid $15 for a 30 minute lesson with a man called Niccolini, who instead taught me how to play metal and rock songs because I asked him to.

And Niccolini, man he could play. He had the longest fingernails on his right hand and I was in awe at his classical playing. But I was a metal head.

I used to tell Niccolini which songs I would want to learn, he would then go away and learn those songs and then at the next lesson he would show me. But I also took lessons, to get the techniques right. I’m big on foundations. If the foundations are not right, everything else that comes after is not right either.

And I would fool my Dad by playing metal and hard rock songs in a classical way. Like anything from Randy Rhoads or Yngwie Malmsteen.

And music was my everything, something the generation of today doesn’t get. I talked about artists the same way people talk about tech devices today and their social media status.

And my record collection was a source of pride. I played them through and through. They are part of my DNA.

I used to have the collection under lock and key, in an alarmed room because once upon a time, if someone broke in, they would steal part of the collection. I couldn’t have that happen. Today, they’ll walk straight past it and go for the tech.

Music is part of my life. It will always be.

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

Stand Your Ground

For a long time, we had no idea how we looked. Then mirrors came about and then we knew how we looked.

For a long time, we had no idea how we really sounded. Then recording techniques came out and over the last 80 years, cassettes showed us how we really sounded.

Cameras also came about and people could suddenly see how they looked and sounded at the same time.

And right now, we are surrounded by sounds and mirrors. If you have a social media account, you have a mirror looking back at you. If you filmed yourself doing something, you have a mirror looking back at you along with sound.

Our personal lives are out there for the whole world to see, regardless of your social media security settings. Even if your posts are secure and only for friends, other people who are not your friends could still potentially see them, because if your friends don’t have the same security as you and you tag them, then it’s on their wall as well.

And how dumb are we. We gave away our privacy and our lives for free to social media platforms like Facebook, who then went and made billions of dollars from our lives. And when people post something on Facebook, they either get likes or blowback. And no one wants blow back these days. Everyone wants to be liked. Even musicians.

Musicians fall into many categories via their lyrics. Some address social ills, some address loss and grief, some address relationships, some address mythology or history and some address partying and having a good time. And it takes guts to put yourself into a mix where your opinions and viewpoints can be attacked. But real artists will look to find a place that creates the change they seek and they will push boundaries in order to do it.

Freedom. It’s our fundamental right.

So what do we do when the politicians we voted in work for the corporations instead of the people?

What do we do when the politicians pass laws to benefit the corporations instead of the people?

This is a world-wide problem.

Our governments are using private companies to harvest our data from social media, based on our posts, comments, likes and friends, these private companies can determine which way you vote.

Stand your ground, don’t let the bastards grind you down, be bold, be strange, don’t let their fears make you afraid

Bastards from Machine Head

We need to stand our ground. The message is nothing new, but we have forgotten it. Machine Head is dealing with some flack in the U.S about their “Catharsis” album. But it’s only in the U.S as the rest of the world relates to the message that Robb Flynn is saying.

And Robb is sending out his message because he cares.

From birth we are taught to follow instructions, comply, obey and to avoid taking risks. The parental system likes it this way. The schooling system likes it this way. The corporate system likes it this way. The Police system likes it this way. And overall, the Government prefers it this way. But sometimes, a change happens.

And when change happens, someone feels it’s for the better and others feel it’s for the worst. And the people who feel the change is wrong, speak up.

The youth of the world have decided they will not wait anymore for adults to solve problems, so they have taken to the streets to demonstrate against guns and call for gun control.

Imagine when these kids get a chance to vote and a chance to enter politics. Change is a happening. Be prepared to change or move out of the kids ways.

We’ve got the right to choose it, there’s no way we’ll lose it

We’re Not Gonna Take It from Twisted Sister

It’s a simple assertion from Dee Snider that mobilised a generation. It’s Dee’s take on society and it comes with an action. Critics blasted the song because it doesn’t define who the “it” is. But that’s the beautiful part of the song. The “It” can be anyone who seeks to control you and take away your freedom.

But to take a stand isn’t easy. Artists are too afraid to stand up for something.

But hang on a second, that’s what being an artist is all about. However the pushback is so ferocious, especially in a social media world, artists just don’t go there.

Well popular artists don’t.

Stand your ground.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Fortnite

There are still complaints about the monies streaming services pay to the rights holders of music. There are still complaints about how YouTube and Spotify have a free tier and how it devalues music.

My kids play a game called “Fortnite” on the PS4. It’s “Battle Royale” mode is free to download.  The free mode works by all players starting with no equipment except a pickaxe for resource gathering and they parachute onto the map. Once they land, they can scavenge for weapons and resources.

Over time, a “storm” surrounds the area and the players need to get to a safe area. Those caught outside the safe area take damage and potentially die if they remain outside it too long. Players can use real money to purchase in-game currency, which can be used to purchase cosmetic items. The last one standing is the winner.

I was interested in how a game which is free to download, is making some serious dollars for the development company.

Freemium

Since the game is free to download, it’s already at everyone’s price point. It can’t get any lower so it costs nothing to try it.

But hang on a second, an artist put their blood, sweat and tears into their music and because they did, they should charge for it. Then again, so did the video game developers, and they haven’t charged for it. Actually video game developers spend years on games only to see them disappear on release day, because like music, no one knows which game or song/album will be a hit or a miss.

Fortnite was originally a game for purchase. Within a six months of its release in 2017, it had over a million users, that means user = sale. But then in September 2017, Epic (the game developer behind it) did something different. They released a free-to-play “Battle Royale” mode. Within 2 weeks of its release, it had over 10 million players.

On any given day, it has over 500,000 players playing the game. By January 2018, Epic added a micro transaction system to purchase items for the game. For Epic, the “Battle Royale” mode is a major hit. It’s like Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA” or Bon Jovi, “Slippery When Wet” or Europe, “The Final Countdown” style of a hit.

And it’s still going strong. And Epic is hoping the more support they give it, the better the experience will become and players will stick around.

You need to get people’s attention first.

So you have a product, release it for free and nothing happens.

How do you get people’s attention?

In Epic’s case, they had a well known brand and released the free Battle Royale mode for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms on the same day. By doing it like this, they beat out other games with similar Battleground concepts tied in to a console. In other words, they were everywhere.

Then they controlled the narrative themselves. No one was waiting for a website or a magazine to interview anyone. The company controlled the story.

In music, we still get staggered releases to digital services. Hell there is a lot of music of bands I like which isn’t even on Spotify Australia, so in this case, I even get geo-blocked, which is ridiculous in our digital age. I can transact with Amazon US, purchase the album, but I cannot get legal access to music available in the US in Australia via a streaming service.

And in music, artists still do interviews with various press outlets, which means the press outlet controls the story.

Your best marketing tool is word of mouth.

Fortnite spread because the people who played it, enjoyed it and then they asked their friends to create an account and play with them online.

And their friends said “why not”, it’s free, let’s give it a try. And the ones who became hooked and enjoyed the online social experience, did the same to their circle of friends. And the process kept on repeating. 10 million users in 2 weeks.

Some people believe that marketing is about advertisements. It’s not.

Be social.

The game works because it connects people socially (albeit in a digital world). And when these people get together, face to face, they talk about it. Good music connects fans socially and crosses borders. There is a pretty good chance you would find an Iron Maiden fan in every country on planet Earth. For music, the social connection comes in two ways. In the digital world, it’s online communities and in reality it’s the live show.

Imagine listening to the song on a streaming service and you have the chance to view the sheet music and play along with it. Imagine listening to the song on a streaming service and you have the chance to remix a 5 second snippet of the song with someone else from another part of the world and make your own song.

Follow up the initial offering with more content.

The game keeps growing in popularity because its upgrades happen on a regular basis. In other words, the fans of the game are not waiting 2 years for a new upgrade. In some cases, it’s monthly and in the worst case it’s quarterly. And the upgrade enhances the original game and it doesn’t take away from it. Remember PokemonGo.

In music, fans are divided into camps of people who want albums or camps who just want content.

I come from the era of the album, but all I want is frequent content. It’s the reason why the bootleg industry was huge in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, my record collection has hundreds of bootlegs, from live recordings, to demo recordings, to sound check jams and what not. It was the need to fill the gap between albums.

Build On What Came Before

And like all hit’s there is a writ. The developers of another game have threatened Epic over the game due to its similarities. But the other game has similarities to other games and those games had similarities to other games and the process just keeps on repeating.

One thing is certain. What used to work to break bands doesn’t work and artists need to think differently and take control of their story.

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