A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

It’s Always Been About The Songs

“The biggest thing that surprised me about fame was that it was fleeting. You work so hard to get there and you just assume that it’s some sort of finish line, or you take a victory lap and maybe spike the ball, run around the field screaming ‘Goal,” I don’t know.”
Dee Snider 

It is pretty well-known how long and hard Twisted Sister worked at getting their sound and image out to the masses. It is also pretty well-known how short their fame was in the Eighties and how quickly they faded from the conversation.

You see, the biggest untold story in music is that when an artist hits a high with one album/song, it doesn’t mean that the next album/song will also hit that same high.

“Stay Hungry” sold over 2 million copies when “Come Out And Play” was released in 1985. At that point in time, “Under The Blade” was still selling, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was still selling and so was “Stay Hungry”. Because when an album crosses over into the mainstream, the back catalogue of the artists suddenly become popular.

Then a new album drops and suddenly the sales are not as high as the previous album. It doesn’t mean the band is not famous or popular anymore, it just meant that a re-adjustment was going on with the fans.

A lot of fans were still digesting the back catalogue and a lot of fans moved on to the next flavour of the year.

So instead of Twisted Sister’s management team booking a normal theatre and shed tour, they booked an arena tour for “Come Out And Play”. And when the arena shows failed to sell out, the tour got canned which cost the band money. The merchandise agreement for the tour became null and void which cost the band money.

“The reality is that rock and roll, in the mainstream, it’s in a difficult place right now. People don’t buy music, and they certainly don’t buy rock bands’ music in the way that they used to. And so, for our genre, it’s kind of… We’re limping along when it comes to public appeal. I believe that rock and roll is alive and well. I just think that people need to show their support and let the genre keep thriving.”
Andy Biersack – Black Veil Brides

People never wanted to buy music. I know I never did. I wanted to listen to music. However, corporations got involved with music, and a big business was born from it. Guess how many records Kiss sold from their first album, before they started to record their second album.

If you answered 70,000 units, then you are correct. If you don’t believe me, read Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music”. Metallica’s “Kill Em All” didn’t set any sales records when it came out either. Nine months after the album’s release, Metallica went back into the studio to record “Ride The Lightning”.

But today, bands want instant success. They want their first album to sell like Metallica’s “Black” album or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

“Metal was really strong in the 80s and kind of had hard times in the 90s. I think we treaded water and kept alive and kept focused on being Testament, and writing songs that we wrote without thinking or trying to change and play with what’s current at the time. It really hurt a lot of bands trying to do that. Fortunately, we didn’t do that. We went opposite. We went a little darker and heavier at that time. Then the metal got healthy again, and coming out the other end, we were in the right spot with the direction we were going, and the history we had, it just carried through. Metal has been real strong since the early 2000s. It’s been gradually picking up. I see the generation changing with a lot more younger fans coming to shows now over the last ten years.”
CHUCK BILLY – Testament

The crux of longevity is the replenishing of your fan base, year after year. And you do that by being in the game. Each album release will do some of the following;

  • Pick up new fans and keep all of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose some of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose all of the old fans
  • Keep all of the old fans
  • Lose some of the old fans

It’s just the way it is. You see for me, I lost interest in Testament after Alex Skolnick left. My cousin Mega, still purchased their albums, I heard them and forgot them. It was just part of getting older. Musical tastes changed for a while. That is why in 2015, my music collection has everything from folk, blues, classic rock, metal, hard rock, glam rock, thrash metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive rock, etc…

So in 2015, the album is just not as important as it was once was. With streaming it is all about the songs. For all the artists that complain about sales, the truth is if you’re popular, people want to listen to your music and they want more of it, if it is good. My kids don’t even care if the songs all came from the same album.

Today, the artists get paid every time we listen.

Elektra sold Metallica’s self-titled album and the band only got paid once for the sale. Today, Metallica is cleaning up, as fans are streaming their tracks over and over again. They are getting paid continuously. And right now payments are low, but they will grow as more people subscribe. And if we are listening to our favourites music, they will get paid forever.

So it all comes down to listens and good songs have a long listening life, a long time to make money.

And it’s always been about good songs.

Metallica did not break big until “Enter Sandman” crossed over. Twisted Sister did not break big until “We’re Not Gonna Take It” crossed over.

We all want more if the artists are great and the hard truth is that very few are.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

It’s “2015 Chaos AD” and People Are Seeking Filters

A common question today is “How do musicians make money?”

Depending on which side of the argument you are, you either focus on the positives of today’s music market or on the negatives of today’s music market. Artists like Paul Stanley, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Perry, Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Kirk Hammett focus on the headlines that read;

  • Album sales are down
  • iTunes single downloads are down
  • Streaming services are decimating artists incomes
  • Technology and the internet has killed the rock star

But it’s not gloom and doom. The old ways are not coming back. You don’t see people going back to dial up internet, three TV channels and landline telephones. So why do you expect them to start buying albums again on vinyl and plastic.

So what do artists do?

Well you can complain like others for the old ways to come back or you can look at new ways and models to increase your brand and exposure.

In the link, there is a story about Linkin Park. In 2013, they decided that they needed to change their business model to accommodate the changing recorded music market. They restructured their organisation to run like a tech start-up. They parted ways with outside management and brought everything in-house

Prior to that they released music consistently, did video games, art and they licensed their grassroots marketing service to other bands, film studios, TV stations and brands.

They studied other successful artists who diversified. They studied other brands from different markets. They formed a new strategy where creating and selling music plays a supporting role instead of being the main role.

So what about someone just starting off?

A lot of people would say “Linkin Park is huge so they have the power to do things differently.” Read the article. Everything that they have going for them started with the team that was assembled to pack and send CD’s before they made it big.

For anyone starting off, the product is first. If you have no product, you have no publicity. And publicity comes from word of mouth. It’s 2015 Chaos AD and people are seeking filters. And the cold hard truth is that in order to be heard above the noise, you still need someone to promote you and your product.

I remember reading an article about word of mouth and it stated that Google, Facebook and Amazon grew because of word of mouth. Motley Crue and even Metallica had people spreading the word for them. And people will always listen to their friends.

Look at “Phish”. Their business thrives without any media attention and their career is decades deep.

And for the ones whinging about streaming profits, the goal is to get people to stream for years. Instant payola is gone.

There is another story over at the Times called “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t”.

The article states, creative artists are thriving “in complicated and unexpected ways.”

Remember the words of Lars Ulrich on July 11, 2000, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

‘‘We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians. We rent time for months at recording studios, which are owned by small-­business men who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record companies’ employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. … It’s clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs I just talked about will be lost, and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear.’’

So 15 years have passed.

Have artists disappeared? NO

Has the music industry died? NO

But what we have are artists using a business model from the 1950’s. Spend time in a studio, record an albums worth of songs and release it. Hope that it penetrates the market and you go on a continuous victory lap celebrating the fact.

Look at any band in the history of music and they all have the definitive crossover album.

Bon Jovi has “Slippery When Wet”, Led Zeppelin has “IV”, Metallica has the “Black” album, Motley Crue has “Dr Feelgood”, Judas Priest has “Screaming For Vengeance”, Eagles have “Hotel California”, AC/DC has “Back In Black”, Kiss has “Destroyer”, Poison has “Open Up and Say Ahh..” and so on. You get the hint.

What we do know is that any record that gains traction will last longer than ever before in the current climate.

Metallica spent close to 18 months on the “Black” album and over a million dollars on it. Depending on which side of the debate you are on, it was either totally worth it or not worth it. From a band perspective, it was totally worth it. The “Black” album explosion also increased awareness in their back catalogue, which if you read my posts, you will note that even in 2015, “Master Of Puppets” is outselling the “Black” album.

But do the fans of 205 want their favourite artists to spend so much time out of the market?

While artists complain about technology changing their income streams from sales of recorded music, they seem to forget that technology has also changed the cost of recording an album/song?

If your main gig is to write songs for others, then we will be hearing your depressing stories in the press, unless you’re a Max Martin. However, if you like to play live, then the new world is for you. It’s simply economics. Recorded music is a product and performing live is also a product. Once upon a time both products were limited. Now recorded music is in infinite supply and live music is still limited. So when one product experiences a price decline, the other product which is limited, experiences an increase.

We don’t care about the corporations when it comes to music. We care about the music and the artist?

And it is unfortunate that the corporations attached the sales metric of record music as f fans caring for artists. So of course, if sales are reduced and music is illegally obtained, the same corporations with some dumb artists toe the line that fans don’t care. However, the fans do care, they just show it in different ways. But the same corporations don’t know how to make sense of the data and the artists are too poor or too far down the chain to obtain any substantial data.

Maybe that is why the direct to fan relationship has become such a focus lately. It means a leaner artist with less handlers. As the Times article states, more people are involved in music today than the glory years of the Nineties.

They are just doing it very different to what artists of yesteryear did.

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

INTERESTING: In A World Of Free, Metal and Rock Music Still Continues To Sell

There is a great article over at the Metal Insider website.

If you are too lazy to click on the link, the article covers the biggest selling metal and rock albums for 2015.

From the results, it’s pretty obvious that metal and rock fans like to purchase music. There is still a collectors mindset there. What’s even more fascinating is that a lot of the albums that have sold a decent amount in 2015 were not even released in 2015.

NOTE: The figures are based on U.S sales.

“Master of Puppets” was released in 1986 and in 2015 it sold 107,800 units. The self-titled “Metallica” album released in 1991 has sold another 77,100 units in 2015. It is well on its way to 17 million units sold in total.

Now think about for a second.

All of Metallica’s music is available on streaming services for paid subscriptions and for free. All of their music is available for downloading via legal options and illegal options. And they still continue to sell.

A band’s longevity is based around the need to replenish their fan base year after year. If you are not doing that then expect to play smaller venues. Dokken and Ratt are two bands that come to mind who haven’t replenished their fan bases from the Eighties. Both bands in the Eighties had platinum sales and played arenas. Today, they have almost no sales and play clubs.  Of course, not having the main creative forces in the current version of the band plays a part, however, even if Lynch and Pilson or Pearcy and Croucier did rejoin Dokken and Ratt respectively, it doesn’t mean that millions of people would be interested.

Metallica,  however is doing a good job at replenishing their fan base based on their selected live performances in new markets and in markets that have high rates of piracy.  They basically have a whole new generation of music fans who more or less consumed the music of Metallica for free and in most cases illegally. However, that still hasn’t stopped them from selling music and concert tickets.

As business people, the move to their own label “Blackened Recordings” was a no-brainer.

The record is how it all starts. It hooks the audience in. Anyone born in the Nineties, will know Metallica as the conformist poster artist for the labels in the Napster case. Anyone born in the Seventies and early Eighties know Metallica as a non-conformist band that pushed boundaries.

The whole Napster kerfuffle in the end just showed why it was not a good idea for Metallica to get in the way of people experiencing their music. However, they have learnt that by making their music available everywhere, they see better returns in other areas.

As an artist, it is a privilege for people to listen to your music. Respect that.

“Back In Black” from AC/DC was released in 1980. In 2015 so far, it has sold 110,000 units in the U.S.  The new album, “Rock Or Bust”, released in 2014, has sold 143,400 units in 2015.  Put it down to the band being on the road and building awareness of the new album. It just goes to show that the blanket marketing campaigns before the album release date, the Grammy appearance and all of the other medical issues/jail issues in the media meant nothing in 2015.

You see, when the music eco system was controlled by the record labels, the marketing blitz by the labels meant something. In 2015, it means nothing.

From the 2015 releases, Breaking Benjamin’s “Dark Before Dawn” has sold 209,000 units so far, Marilyn Manson’s “The Pale Emperor” has sold 124,200 units so far and Halestorm’s “Into The Wild Life” has sold 114,500 units so far.

From the 2014 releases, Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways” album has sold 87,800 in 2015, for total sales in 480,000 so far. Slipknot’s “5: The Gray Chapter” has sold 84,000 units in 2015, for total sales of 344,000 units. Nickelback’s “No Fixed Address” album has sold 101,000 units in 2015. Like the Foo Fighters it is approaching Gold status.

Led Zeppelin continues to be a selling machine, so why would they create new music when Copyright grants them and the owners of their songs, rights for the next 110 years to exploit the works.

In case you are wondering “Led Zeppelin 4” sold 75,000 units and “Physical Graffiti” sold 112,400 units in 2015.

Kid Rock’s debut “Devil Without A Cause” is still selling. For 2015 alone, it has moved 86,000 units. Add that to the other 10 million units it has sold so far.

So what is all of the above telling us.

Eventually people will pay, however if a piece of music that people want to check out is not available for free, they will turn away until it becomes convenient. Don’t expect people to pay just because you want them too.

And for all of those critics saying the new bands cannot attain the same level of success as their Seventies and Eighties counterparts, well have a look at some other stats.

 

As influential as Black Sabbath was to metal music, they are being outsold by Linkin Park, Korn and even Limp Bizkit.

Also for all of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s comments about rock being dead because no one is buying recorded music, well, Kiss has never really been a big seller of recorded music anyway. Their 21 million is pretty tame compared to Metallica’s 62 million. In the end, the live show is where it’s at. Deliver there and make that show a cultural event, the sky is the limit.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Hard Working Musicians and Some Not So Hard Working Musicians

When I sit down to write a song, I write a song. That means, I have a vocal melody, chords and a certain feel behind it. In the bands I used to be in, I would then play the song for them. Now, my vocals are limited, so when I play the original song there are some notes I cannot hit. However the singer in the band can hit those notes.

Now according to Sebastian Bach, because he can sing better than Matt Fallon, he should get a song writing credit.

Come on man, this sense of entitlement that everyone has is getting downright stupid.

I love the Sebastian Bach era of Skid Row and I love Sebastian’s solo stuff. I saw Skid Row play at Eastern Creek in Sydney back in 1993. I purchased their debut album because I saw that Michael Wagener was listed as the producer. I remember dropping the needle and being blown away.

I remember also picking up a bootleg of the Matt Fallon era of Skid Row and being amazed at how good the songs sounded in demo form. Of course, Sebastian Bach is the better singer and he is the difference between a good band and a great band. Plus he is Skid Row. As good as Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan are at writing the songs, people will always associate their band with Sebastian Bach.

But, in the case of getting a song writing credit just because he sang the vocal melody better, Sebastian has it wrong.

The Skid Row guys know the truth. History has always shown people trying to rewrite the past to suit a current point of view. But seriously, based on Sebastian’s definition, then guitarist Scotti Hill should also be credited as a songwriter for the Skid Row debut. Why not, hey?

Hill’s lead playing is all over the album and in “18 and Life”, the lead work is very definitive. But it doesn’t work that way. It never did, however in the new world we live in with plagiarism lawsuits everywhere, anything is possible.

Another person that keeps on getting it wrong is Yngwie Malmsteen. When is he going to realise that as good as a guitarist he is, without a great lead singer, his band and his songs are just average. Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto are the right vocalists for Yngwie however those bridges have burnt.

The problem with Yngwie and other artists like Kiss, is that they haven’t created anything worthwhile recently that would make us pay attention. So no one is interested in obtaining their new music. In Kiss’s case, they can still make good money on the road. In Yngwie’s case, he is playing clubs and bars.

You see, in music you work your ass off to get a break and to build an audience. Then you need to work even harder to keep that audience and to replenish it. The big dirty secret that eludes artists is that fans drop off, lose interest or just move on to other bands or different styles especially if the music coming out fails to connect.

If you want to listen to Malmsteen at his best, the first four albums are essential listening. Anything after that is for the hard-core fans.

These days it seems that the popular artists forget why they became famous. It’s because of the music, stupid. It amazes me when I read interviews with artists who don’t feel it is necessary to make new music. The latest is Paul Stanley. The reason why he is a somebody, is because he wrote music. And a lot of it.

Look at guys like Mark Tremonti or even Joel Hoekstra. Both guys are super hard workers.

Tremonti has two albums coming out within a 12 month period from his band Tremonti, plus another Alter Bridge album. Chuck into that mix the Fret 12 guitar instructional DVD’s that he has been doing for the last 10 years and you can see how hard he is working at releasing content on a consistent basis.

Hoekstra just released “The Purple Album” with Whitesnake, has a project called VHF that will be releasing an album soon and another project called Joel Hoekstra 13 that will also be releasing an album soon. In addition to that, he released music with Night Ranger just last year and toured with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All of that hard work is paying off for him at the moment.

So what do we know?

It’s hard work being a musician. It always has been and it always will be. Tremonti and Hoekstra are perfect examples of hard work.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Copyright Pension/Annuity

When I started to write my own songs back in the late Eighties, copyright was not even in my mindset. You see, when you start to do something creative you do it because there is a sense of fulfillment and a desire to create.

From my own experiences, I never sat down with my guitar and said to myself, “Gee, lucky for me, there is a copyright law in place that lasts my whole lifetime, plus another seventy years after I die, to give me an incentive to create”.

Those kinds of thoughts never enter the mindset.

Which brings me to today and how the very nature of what Copyright is has been hijacked by large corporations and greedy next of kins.

The whole “Blurred Lines” case is a joke. For the record, it is a crap song that made a lot of cash. So what we have is a jury deciding if a song sounds similar to another song and for them to decide that it does sound similar, it more or less indirectly infers that Marvin Gaye was so original that his song “Got To Give It Up” came out of some celestial vacuumed place that only Marvin Gaye had access to. However, everyone knows that is not the case. All artists are the sum of their influences.

And what a said state of affairs for Copyright. You have the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who haven’t contributed anything to the arts and are living off the proceeds of a stupid law that extends Copyright 70 plus years after death. There are millions upon millions of songs out there that sound similar, however once a song makes some serious cash, the knives come out.

What I took out of the court case and what bodes well for music in general is the amount of money the track made.

$5.6 million in profits went to Robin Thicke while $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, $700,000 to the other writer T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits went to the  record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. Since Napster, we have been hearing the same rhetoric from the recording industry and out of touch artists.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are renowned for their viewpoints on rock being dead and piracy killing off any chance a new artist has of making some money. Scott Ian wanted to disconnect people from the Internet. Nuclear Blast want to shakedown people who downloaded the music from “All Shall Perish”.

Meanwhile the record labels kept the propaganda machine going that they just can’t make any money because of piracy. So here is just one song that has made close to $17 million dollars in profits. One song, remember that.

So it goes back to the same old saying, create something that people gravitate too and watch it make you money. There is a shitload of money out there if artists can create a great song that people gravitate to.

Actually speaking of plagiarism, listen to the “Funky Town” vocal melody and then listen to the verse vocal melody in Kiss’s “Lick It Up”. They are identical. Hell, the whole “Sonic Highways” album from Foo Fighters is a case of influences. Same goes for the whole “Hail To The King” album from Avenged Sevenfold. Let’s add  “Kill Em All” from Metallica which was more or less a rip off the NWOBHM movement. Subsequent Metallica songs afterwards would further borrow from other cult/unknown artists.

Recently Five Finger Death Punch lifted “The Ultimate Sin” verse vocal melody and used it for the “Lift Me Up” verse. Dave Mustaine did the same both musically and vocally by lifting “Children Of The Grave” and using it for “Kingmaker.”

Thank god that Dave Grohl, A7X, Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine or Metallica didn’t decide to let a Marvin Gaye song influence them, otherwise they would be in the courts as the well.

I think it is pretty safe to say a lot of songs sound the same regardless of genre. I see it more as a tribute than a rip off and to be honest in no way does the new composition take away from the original. For example, there is no way that “Something From Nothing” from the Foo Fighters takes away from Dio’s “Holy Diver”.

But when you have a whole copyright industry that makes money of the works created by others, you get a lot of bullshit happening, especially when a song makes a lot of money.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

The Paul Stanley Article

The Article
Paul Stanley reckons that if KISS started today they wouldn’t stand a chance because the music industry as it exists today isn’t even an industry, it’s just shambles.

KISS didn’t really blow up until “ALIVE” came out. So in today’s standards or even the late eighties standards they wouldn’t stand a chance to reach their fourth or fifth album. The thing with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons is that they base a lot of their decisions on what piracy and peer-to-peer downloading has done to the industry.

Now if you search the RIAA database for the band KISS, you will see that “Destroyer” is 2x Multi-Platinum and that happened in September 2011. Two other KISS albums have been certified 2x Multi-Platinum and they are “Smashes, Thrashes and Hits” and “Alive II”.

They don’t have an official album that has been certified more than 2x Multi-Platinum and piracy has been around since 1999. So even in the heyday of record label control, KISS were not large sellers of recorded music as they would like you to believe. Especially when you compare them to Pink Floyd, Eagles, Bon Jovi, Metallica and Motley Crue. It wasn’t until the KISS Reunion in the late nineties that KISS finally went from playing to 10,000 people to 40,000 people. Credit Doc McGhee with the vision to make that happen.

As for Stanley’s comments on file sharing, it just shows how out of touch he is.

“File sharing is just a fancy way of saying stealing. You can’t share what you don’t own. It’s like me saying, ‘transportation borrowing,’ and I steal your car.”

If a person illegally shares or downloads the song “Lick It Up” what that person has done is infringe on the copyright of the song. The song is still available on iTunes for downloading. The song is still available on Spotify for streaming. The song is still available on YouTube for listening. The song is still available on the “Lick It Up” album that is gathering dust in the record store waiting to be purchased. No one has stolen anything.

Paul Stanley also reckons like Yngwie Malmsteen, Kirk Hammet and Gene Simmons that younger bands don’t have a chance in hell of ever getting that pot of gold.

What about Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, In This Moment, Bullet For My Valentine, Skillet, Red, Trivium, Halestorm, Black Veil Brides and many more others that are releasing albums and going from success to success.

What about musicians/bands who have been doing the rounds since the eighties and nineties who have all seen an upswing in recognition and success like Slash with Myles Kennedy, Godsmack, Stryper, Volbeat, In Flames, Machine Head, 10 Years, Coheed and Cambria, Lamb Of God, Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage.

Now, Ed Sheeran has nothing to do with heavy metal or hard rock music however the work ethic and ideas that he exhibits should be noted. His current tour of Australia has one ticket price at $99. All of his fans will have the chance to sit in the front row.

This in a way takes out the elitist tickets. It makes it affordable for people with rich parents and not rich parents. This is in contrast to say Kiss who sell front row tickets for a premium of around $2000 for some shows. In Ed Sheeran’s case he keeps the front row tickets and gives them out on the day. He and his team try to find fans outside of the venue of fans in the nosebleed seats and give them front row tickets. And what an artist to fan connection he is establishing.

And for hard work, Ed Sheeran is up there. It took two years to sell two million copies of the first album through constant touring and intimate acoustic gigs and now it’s taken 14 weeks for his new album “X” to do the same.

This more or less proves the piracy argument decimating the music business is invalid. People still purchase albums along with streaming and downloading the songs. The great thing about musicians being worldwide right away is that if a song’s not successful in one country like Australia it usually is in another. Different countries have different tastes. You can always have a hit somewhere. But Paul Stanley doesn’t get that. Which is a shame.

I actually finished reading his book Face The Music last week and the impression I got from it was an out of touch and sheltered rock star. Guess his comments sum it up.

And the thing is Kiss’s best song in the last fifteen years has been “Hell Or Hallelujah”. So how about coming up with more songs like that instead of the other garbage that has done the rounds.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

The KISS that rocks

Revenge made Kiss relevant again.  1982’s Creatures of The Night and 1983’s Lick It Up, re-established Kiss as a force to be reckoned with in the Eighties.

MTV was the outlet, and every time Lick it Up came on, it made me stop and watch.  This was all about the music.  The band had removed their make-up and they needed to make a statement.  Lick It Up was that statement.   That crunchy and distorted guitar from Vinnie Vincent is what makes the song roll.  Of course, it wouldn’t be long before Vincent was shifted. It’s like Gene Simmons can’t handle having talented people around me for a long period of time. Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.

Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.

By the time the keyboard heavy Crazy Nights (1987) and the pop metal Hot In The Shade (1989) came out, fans started to accuse the band of following whatever MTV trend was popular at the time. 

Crazy Crazy Nights to me was so hooky and it was as good as anything else that was in the Charts at that time. I personally love the song, and this is in the era, post the Slippery When Wet explosion.  It just reminds me of good times and crazy days, sort of like how Tesla’s Lazy Days and Crazy Nights song does.  Listening to the Crazy Crazy Nights song today (I did an Eighties’ CD for my wife and this song was one of the songs I put on it) it just reminds me of how busy my life has come to be, where most of the time I am running on empty or caffeine.  It would good to be able to kick back and relax. 

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

A song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here. Crazy Crazy Nights was co-written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Going back to the well that gave birth to quality previously, is a good thing.   

Going back to the Revenge album. The Nineties had a massive paradigm shift in the music business.  Kiss, now had to compete with bands that released game changing albums.  Nirvana released Nevermind and Pearl Jam released Ten bringing Grunge and Alternative Rock to the masses.  U2 released Achtung Baby, Red Hot Chilli Peppers released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Metallica released the Black album, The Cult release Ceremony, Guns N Roses released the Use Your Illusion I and II albums, Ozzy Osbourne released No More Tears, Skid Row released Slave To The Grind, Pantera released A Vulgar Display of Power and Van Halen released For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  The majority of the albums had a heavy rock feel and in the case of Van Halen it was return to the brown sound. 

Coming into the recording process of Revenge, Kiss already had some momentum going with God Gave Rock N Roll To You, which appeared in the movie, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991. The song is an Russ Ballard composition for the band Argent, however additional credit is given to Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Bob Ezrin.  Argent at that time was trying to follow up their mega hit, Hold Your head Up, so when God Gave Rock And Roll To You came out, it bombed.  However the song is a great song, and it is a good thing that Kiss rescued it and turned it into a hit.

For Kiss to be relevant in the Nineties, they had to do something different, so they hired a marketing consultant firm to find out what the fans wanted. The answers came back.  The fans wanted more Demon, more heaviness, more rock and an album to rival 1976’s Destroyer. It was time to get the team together.  Bob Ezrin who produced the epic Destroyer and the terrible Music From The Elder was hired to produce.

The biggest decision made was to use the fantastic, talented and egotistical Vinnie Vincent as a songwriter.  Simmons and Stanley realised that Vincent’s contributions to the Creatures of The Night and Lick It Up albums, had produced songs that have become some of the best and well known Kiss songs in recent memory.  The sinister single opener Unholy was written by Simmons and Vincent.  It is heavy, it is evil and it fit perfectly in the current music climate at the time. 

You send your children to war
To serve bastards and whores

It’s a tough lyric line.  There is that devilish theme throughout the song.   

Other classic Vincent penned songs that appear on Revenge are Heart of Chrome is written by Paul Stanley, Vinnie Vincent and Bob Ezrin, while I Just Wanna is written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent.

It is a shame that this song writing partnership went sour so quickly again, and they haven’t collaborated since. 

Revenge is Kiss being themselves and by doing that, they made a record that satisfied the hard core fan bases and somehow also fitted in with the times,

Of course, the album is also in memory to drummer Eric Carr, who passed away due to cancer, before the recording process started.  Eric Singer took his place in the band and he has been with Kiss, since then.  How good was the Badlands project that Eric Singer was in, with Jake E.Lee, Ray Gillen and Greg Chaisson?  However that is for another day.

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