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

Asphalt Ballet

It’s 1991 and “Use Your Illusion” parts one and two have hit the charts. However it was Asphalt Ballet’s debut album that initially had the most radio take up, beating out the juggernaut that was Guns N Roses.

And what a great band name, using a police slang term for a motorcyclist crashing and skidding along the road at high speed.

Their so called overnight success was over 14 years in the making that began in different states and different cities, far removed from the Sunset Strip of LA.

Vocalist Gary Jeffries has a huge story to tell. He put in a lot of time playing the bar circuit and his origin story dates back to the Seventies. Eventually he came to L.A in the mid Eighties to audition for QUIET RIOT after original vocalist Kevin DuBrow left. He didn’t get that gig, losing out to Paul Shortino from Rough Cutt.

After that he played with guitar virtuoso Alex Masi, Passion, Baronette and Broken Rule. That eventually led to a group called Mistreated which by sheer luck rehearsed next to Jeffries other bands. Guitarists, Danny Clarke and Julius J. Ulrich along with bassist Terry Phillips and drummer Mikki Kiner all came from “Mistreated”.

And before recruiting singer Gary Jefferies in 1989, Mistreated had a Bon Jovi meets Warrant pop rock sound. As they once said, “it wasn’t a believable thing and that they were doing it make a buck.” With Jeffries in the fold, Mistreated became King Kong and then Asphalt Ballet and the sound went to a more organic southern delta blues rock vibe.

As was the norm back then, bands needed to get a buzz happening and Asphalt Ballet did just that on the Los Angeles bar circuit, which eventually got the attention of Virgin Records via a recommendation from Myron Grombacher, drummer for Pat Benatar.

Start with the debut album. They wanted to call the album “Mood Swing” and once you sink your teeth into it, that is exactly what you will get.

It was produced by Greg Edward who paid his dues as an engineer on big albums like “Scarecrow” from John Cougar Mellencamp and “Like a Rock” from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Virgin Records released the album and it looks like they had no idea how to promote the band or the album in a changing musical landscape.

“Soul Survive”

What a song and what a groove. It gets the head nodding and the foot tapping. It’s written by guitarist Danny Clarke and it’s rooted in the AC/DC style of blues rock.

“I’ve seen the system fall apart from the rules
And all our Presidents lie
I’ve seen the needle and the damage it’s done
The wreckage left behind”

The system has gotten worse and the war on drugs has been lost. We have our own democratic governments spying on us and storing our information in massive data banks.

“I’ve seen the broken dreams and broken hearts
I’ve seen the strong be cruel
I’ve seen a man driven by success
And break the golden rules”

It seems that all we read about today are people committing some form of crime. All in the name of money. The RIAA claims that they are victims of copyright infringement. Then you get the minority and the poor claim that they are victims of corrupted or over zealous law enforcement officers. And the list of injustice just goes on and on. All the name of money.

Instead of singing “WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?”, the catch cry of 2014 should be “MONEY, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?”

“Tuesday’s Rain”

It’s the complete opposite of “Soul Survive” and this one is written by guitarist Julius Ulrich. It’s the Yang to Clarke’s Yin.

“As I wait for my new high
And sit on my mood swing
And drift out like the tide
Into the deep blue sea”

That’s what life in general is all about. Mood swings and reactions that move us about each day.

“End Of My Rope”

Another melancholic rocker written by Julius Ulrich.

“Well it’s a ruthless world with a painted face
Ain’t nothin’ gonna change but the time and place”

Aint that the truth. Different cities and different people all over the world are experiencing the same pain. Heartbreak, the loss of a loved one and so on.

“Winners and losers, beggars and choosers
Talkers, doers lost in illusion
Lawyers, villains, hometown killings
It’s all the same to me down at the end of my rope

Well lord, I’m losing hope, yeah!
Down at the end of my rope”

That’s it, right there, the unwritten law of the street. There are winners and there are losers. There are beggars and there are choosers. People that talk it up and there are people who actually do it. But when you are always hanging on, all of the shit that goes on up top is all the same. It doesn’t make a difference to you down at the bottom.

“Heaven Winds Blow”

Another song written by Danny Clarke and this time it’s got this Southern Skynyrd vibe happening.

He said you can’t stop and worry about the things that you’ve done
There’ll be no more looking back when the judgment day comes
Judgment day is coming, yeah!

A conversation with the Lord Almighty. We are a long time dead, but alive for a little while. So live it up until the heaven winds blow.

“Blood on the Highway”

Written by Julius Ulrich and Gary Jeffries. The “When The Levee Breaks” groove is hypnotizing and it hooked me in from the get go. Bon Jovi and their Nashville songwriting team ripped them off for “We Got It Goin On” from the Lost Highway album in 2007. But then again, it is a typical blues rock groove and Keith Richards once said, “YOU CANT COPYRIGHT THE BLUES”.

Living like there’s no tomorrow
Lovin when it comes my way
Well it’s a lonely road, a new town to go every day

So many songs written about life on the road. It isn’t a pop culture phenomenon like “Turn The Page” or “Wanted Dead Or Alive” but man, this song is a classic song just waiting to be discovered.

“Goodbye Yesterday”

It is written by guitarist Danny Clarke and Julius Ulrich. It is “Tuesday’s Rain” merged with “Soul Survives”. And for some reason I can’t stop shaking that Tesla connection from my mind when I hear this song.

“Wasted Time”

People might not know this song, but man its got the best lyric line ever committed.

Life done wait for you
Precious wasted time

Julius Ulrich, West Arkeen and Danny Clarke wrote this song. West Arkeen (RIP) also did some work with Guns N Roses and the “Use Your Illusion” albums. It’s got that Blues Gospel vibe that I dig.

Hearing this song again today, seventeen years after West Arkeen’s death due an accidental drug overdose, it sure is wasted time. The Skid Row song of the same name just hits home.

“Is it all, just wasted time
Can you live with yourself
When you think of what
You left behind”

“Taking a Walk”

This is a great song, again written by Julius Ulrich. The whole album is showing the eclectic style of Ulrich. In this case, he has crafted a song that merges the Van Halen SoCal vibe, with some pedal point metal riffing and a lot of swing.

“Do It All Over Again”

It’s a simple 12 bar blues acoustic ditty written by guitarists Clarke and Ulrich.

I’m no social grace, I’m no millionaire
I don’t wear a tie, I don’t comb my hair
If I sing out loud to myself, give me the stage

I’ve got a few things I can call my own
My TV’s broke, I ain’t got no phone
I’m doin’ just fine and I thank you just the same

Don’t mind the shape I’m in
I don’t mind if you let me in
‘Cause if I had the chance
I’d do it all over again

I get by on caffeine and alcohol
Some days I walk and there’s some I crawl
A few bad moves, it’s just a part of the game, yeah it is

A lot of artists just stopped soldiering on once they lost their deals in the wake of Grunge or they changed their styles to match the Seattle Grunge sounds.

The Record Labels and their predatory exploitive practices are to blame here, more so than Grunge or the saturation of the market place with inferior hard rock bands. The artists slaved away without a chance in hell of recouping because no one monitored or regulated the creative accounting practices of the labels.

Vocalist Gary Jeffries decided to leave during the tour for the debut album. The band had been out on the road for 12 months and in the majority of the cities they played, no one could find a copy of their album.

They did in stores and acoustic gigs in record stores and there wasn’t a copy of the CD in the store.

Back in 1991/1992, the rule of thumb was that if a band plays a city and rocks the audience, then those fans would go out and buy the album. In the case of Asphalt Ballet, the album wasn’t in the stores so how can the fans buy it. Basically, the record label failed their artist. To top it off, the label then pulled the plug on any further touring because sales weren’t high enough. How ironic.

That was when their manager stepped up and financed a tour with “Shotgun Messiah” which as the headlining act, had no pull. Eventually, after living on $160 a week and with Virgin pushing the band to get a little bit more grunge sounding, vocalist Jeffries went back to Louisiana and a few days later he was working a normal job, trying to make an income to support his pregnant wife.

The band was thousands in debt based on the recouping label formula. Asphalt Ballet’s manager sweet talked Virgin to front up enough cash for a new album and after doing the CD, “Pigs”, they were dropped before any tour began.

But we have the debut album. Cherish it as a great piece of rock and roll music.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Thank God For The Truth

“The Ultimate Sin” is a misunderstood album. It is loved by many as much as it is hated.

By 1986, the legend of Ozzy Osbourne was growing. After writing the “Bark At The Moon” album with one finger on the piano (I mean this is a sarcastic way), the heavy metal community waited with anticipation as to what he would do next.

Amongst the fans, Randy Rhoads and his tragic death was still getting all the attention. Magazines focused more on Randy Rhoads than Jake E.Lee. Ozzy was in rehab once again after going off the rails once again. The person that held it all together during this period was Bob Daisley. He was the glue. Sharon Osbourne managed Ozzy; however, if it wasn’t for Bob Daisley coming back over and over again, Ozzy’s solo career in the Eighties would have been a different story.

Daisley brought back the Ozzy legend from obscurity. Ozzy had the controversial headlines, but it was Daisley with his uncredited lyrics that connected with us. And it was a Daisley track called “Flying High Again” that broke Ozzy to the U.S market. When people see a song written by a singer, a guitarist and the bassist, 99.9% of the people will believe that the musical players wrote the music and that the singer wrote the lyrics. However that was not the case with Ozzy.

“Flying High Again” paved the way for what was to come. It was a radio staple and it is Bob Daisley’s title and lyrics. As is often the case, Ozzy became a brand name and the individuals around him became forgotten.

Yet all of Bob Daisley’s Blizzard Of Ozz tunes stay in rotation. And we loved them back then; however we didn’t know the truth. We assumed that what was written on the album sleeve was correct and what was said in an interview was the truth. Seriously, why would our heroes lie?

And none of the tracks were hits like the hits that Billboard and the mainstream press trump up as hits.

So coming into “The Ultimate Sin” album process, the Osbourne camp needed ideas. Jake E. Lee got burned on the song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, so he demanded a contract up front before he even started writing. It’s not an ideal way to commence the album development cycle however this litigious house is the house that Sharon built.

Ozzy of course was in a bad shape and had a stint in rehab. When he came out of rehab, Jake had already compiled 12 songs ready. This is what Jake E. Lee said in a Guitar World interview from November 1986;

“On the Ultimate Sin, while Ozzy was in the Betty Ford clinic, I got a drum machine, one of those mini-studios, a bass from Charvel-a really shitty one-and I more or less wrote entire songs. I didn’t write melodies or lyrics because Ozzy is bound to do a lot of changing if I was to do that, I just write the music. I write the riff and I’ll come up with a chorus, verse, bridge and solo section, and I’ll write the drum and bass parts I had in mind. I put about 12 songs like that down on tape and when he got out of the Betty Ford clinic it was, “Here ya go, here’s what I’ve got so far.” And I’d say half of it ended up on the album.”

The other piece in the puzzle was Bob Daisley. Apart from “Shot In The Dark” (which is credited to Phil Soussan and Ozzy Osbourne) all of the lyrics on “The Ultimate Sin” are written by Bob Daisley. This is what Bob Daisley said on the album in an interview on the BraveWords website;

“I did write the album with Jake and then Ozzy and I had a falling out and he fired me and he was going to fire Jake as well. I’ve never been a ‘yes’ man. So a few weeks later, he called me and he had Phil Soussan on bass but I’d already written a lot of the music with Jake so they knew they had to credit me on the songs anyway so I guess he thought he may as well get his money’s worth and asked me to come back and write the lyrics also. I did that as sort of a paid job. I write it, you pay me and take it and go. So I spent a few weeks writing the lyrics for the whole album. Then they recorded it. In a way, I am glad I am not on that album. It’s the one album I didn’t really like”

Of course, the Osbourne’s didn’t credit Daisley for his song writing contributions on the initial 1986 pressing of the album, though this was corrected on subsequent pressings. So there are 500,000 albums out there that doesn’t credit Bob Daisley.

Another form of controversy centered around “Shot In The Dark”.

“Shot in the Dark”

This is what Phil Soussan said about the song on the Songfacts website;

“It is metaphorical for someone who wants to change. He wants to end what has been and start from new but only has so much control! Literally, he turns his back on what has been his life!”

In a Noiscreep interview, Phil Soussan stated the following;

“The original song version and lyrics was what I presented to Ozzy at that time. I have always been a huge Pink Panther fanatic and the title and song subject were written as such. The idea was originally a fast tempo track and Ozzy loved the lyrics. He made some changes to it; added some melody and the part just before the solo. He wanted me to come up with some lyric changes here and there to make it “darker” while keeping the original premise.”

This is what Jake E Lee said in a Guitar World interview from November 1986;

“I write a lot of songs like that-most of the songs I’ve kept have been really commercial or really weird-and I wasn’t so sure of that when Phil (Soussan-bassist and writer of “Shot In The Dark”) first presented it. It was getting kind of commercial and Ozzy wasn’t too sure of it either. But Ron Nevison (producer) gunned for that one and it worked out alright.”

The Great Song Writing Controversy Revisited

This is what Jake E Lee had to say in an interview on Ultimate Classic Rock on the song writing credits controversy that seemed to plague the Osbourne camp in the Eighties;

“On ‘The Ultimate Sin,’ I did get credit because I got screwed out of the first one. I was promised that I would get [credit]. Because I was young and I was in the middle of Scotland recording, I didn’t have a manager or a lawyer — it was just me. From the beginning, every musician, it’s always hammered into them, “Keep your publishing” and “Keep your writing.” So those were the only conditions that I had was “OK, I’m getting song writing credit, right?” I was always assured that “Yes, I’m getting publishing — of course you are!” When I didn’t on the first record, it was upsetting. But I figured OK, what am I going to do? I got screwed — what am I going to quit? We’re about to tour on a record that I finally got to make. There’s no problem for Ozzy to find another guitar player — am I just going to be that guy that played on that record, didn’t even get credit on the record and then refused to tour because I had a problem with Ozzy? No. I had to go out and tour. It would have been stupid not to. So I was only able to put my foot down at the end of the tour. “Let’s make another record” and I was like, “OK, but this time, you know what? I want the contract first before we start recording. I don’t want to be a dick, but I don’t want to get screwed again either.”

In relation to the screwed part, this is what Jake told Steven Rosen in a Guitar World interview from November 1986, when he was asked the question, how much input did you have on “Bark At The Moon”;

“Most of the music was mine. “Rock N’ Roll Rebel”, “Bark At The Moon”, “Now You See It, (Now You Don’t)”, “Waiting For Darkness” and “Slow Down” were mine.”

Ron Nevison

This is what Jake E Lee had to say about working with Ron Nevison in a Guitar World interview from November 1986;

“….he was hard to work with. He doesn’t have a very open mind; he hears things his way and he thinks that’s the way it should be done. And I heard things my way and I think that’s the way it should be done. And there wasn’t a whole lot of compromise. It was mostly who felt the strongest about something and argued the longest won out.”
“I didn’t go into the studio with the attitude of, “Oh boy, I get to play today, let’s see what I can put down!” I went in there thinking, “Oh sh*t, what are we going to argue about today?”

In an interview on the Crappy Indie Music Blog, Ron Nevison answered in the following manner, when he was asked about his thoughts on Jake’s comments;

“(laughs) Well, he would like to be his own producer. But what you don’t know is that he wanted to come in at midnight. He wanted to work midnight to 8am. There’s more than one person in a band, though. What about all the people at the front desk… and the second engineers, and maintenance people. So I said no. I’m all for working with people when they want to work, so we compromised and started at like 6 at night. I said that I can’t do it… not even speaking for the rest of the band, but if I work for you at midnight to 8am, I have to take a couple of days off to turn my life around be able to work with someone else again. But he was a strange guy. He was… no drugs; he was into Zen stuff, martial arts… I don’t know what he was into. But he was a fantastic guitar player; I never had a problem with him. If he had a problem with me he never told me. Doesn’t surprise me.”

The Jake E Lee Origin Story Revisited

Doing time with Ratt and then Rough Cutt he was contacted to audition for Ozzy’s band. This is how Jake E Lee summed it up in the November 86, Guitar World interview;

“I went down there anyway and I think there was a list of 25 guitar players and we all spent 15 minutes in the studio, each doing whatever we wanted to do. We had our pictures taken and they were given to Ozzy and he picked three of us: George (Lynch-Dokken) was one of them and he was flown to England and given first crack at it. And there was me and Mitch Perry left in L.A. Ozzy came down and we auditioned at S.I.R. and I got it. And I was 45 minutes late! The guy who found the guitar players (Dana Strum) said that Ozzy almost walked out the door; he said, “”f**k it, if this guy doesn’t care enough to show up on time and he’s going to be this kind of problem, forget it. I don’t care how good he is.” But the guy kept him there.”

The Phil Soussan Origin Story

Phil got his first big break playing with Simon Kirke’s Wildlife project that was signed to Led Zeppelin’s boutique record label. Record Label politics and members moving on more or less put an end to this project; however “Shot In The Dark” was born during this process. YouTube has a demo version up and various forums put up arguments for Steve Overland to be given a song writing credit.

In a 2006 interview with the dmme.net website, this is what Soussan had to say about working with Simon Kirke;

“Simon was great to play with. He really educated me in the style of “back-beat” playing. Knowing how to place your bass notes just behind the beats separates “feel” players from the masses and I credit Simon for that. Sure we felt as though we were going to be part of the big time but it was not meant to be. After the politics between our label, Swan Song and Atlantic, caused the fall apart of our deal, Simon left and we continued for a while. I suggested that we take our brand of American AOR rock to the USA and try to finance our own visit and tour, but the rest of the band disagreed. We eventually split up and went our separate ways.”

After Wildlife, Soussan began working with Jimmy Page. This is how Soussan explained this part of his career in an interview with Noisecreep;

“From the get go, and from when Jimmy started playing again after his long hiatus (following the sad passing of John Bonham, RIP), the plan was always to start playing and to put a band together that would feature Paul Rodgers as the singer. We formed a band that we initially called The McGregors around Jimmy, Chris Slade and myself. When Chris went out to tour with David Gilmour we brought in Rat Scabies to fill in. Jimmy loved Rat’s playing; he said that if Bonham had been a punk he would have sounded like Rat! Eventually we began to refer to the band as “The Firm.”

“Eventually I got asked to audition for Ozzy and when I was offered the gig I had the dilemma of if whether I wanted to stay with Jimmy or go out with Ozzy. I discussed with Jimmy and he told me that they were still not going out for another year and I decided to go with Ozzy. Jimmy had started to use Tony Franklin on bass and we parted as great friends. In a way I had mixed emotions as I was so fond of Jimmy, but we still speak and it is always great to see him.”

Where Are They Now? Bassist Phil Soussan of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Beggars & Thieves – http://noisecreep.com/phil-soussan/

RON NEVISON, PART 1 – http://crappyindiemusic.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/jess-interviews-ron-nevison-part-1.html?m=1

Interview with PHIL SOUSSAN – http://dmme.net/interviews/soussan1.html

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