Music, My Stories

Systems 

The Playlist is here.

Systems of play are everywhere. Before the internet became a commercial force and one of the best copy systems ever, humans served different systems like the royal system, the democratic system, the communist system, the fascist system, the slavery system, the social system, the tax system, the credit system, the workforce system, the pension system, the religious system, the criminal system, the police system and so forth. We went from working in assembly lines to being the cogs in the assembly line. We went from using paper and pens and put files away in shelves to typing into a digital screen and saving files.

Everything we do today is controlled, stored and read by a machine.

Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And they’re scanning all their databases, hunting terrorists
Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this
And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist
“Are You Interested?” By Cog

Freedom is raped by war like whore like technology
Technology, technology of materialism
Personal freedom only an obstruction
“Figure It Out” by Serj Tankian

There is no doubt that technology rules our lives. Our posts are tagged, our books have ISBN numbers, our purchases have barcodes, our searches are saved, our electronic transactions are logged to be analysed, our mobile calls are stored, our email/text messages are stored and everything is optimised for marketing and obedience. In other words everything we do becomes a piece of data stored in a database.

For how long this data will be stored will never be known. What security this data has and who controls it, will never be known.

You want the world to be free? WHAT THE HELL IS FREE ABOUT IT?
“Come Whatever May” by Stone Sour

The Government has passed a lot of laws that allow organisations to store our information in the name of national security. And guess what, we have given up so much of our privacy and the laws have failed to stop the attacks. We vote our leaders in, but they serve the corporations who pay the most. We pay our taxes while the elite pay none via off-shore tax havens and dodgy deals.

Why pretend that we don’t know
CEOs are the disease
“Figure It Out” by Serj Tankian

If machines controlled the world right now, we would be pigeon holed into categories.

Up here in space
I’m looking down on you
My lasers trace
Everything you do
You think you’ve private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
I’m watching all the time
“Electric Eye” by Judas Priest

Hell, my Spotify.me algorithm tells me I must be a traveller.

Did it make that assertion based on the length of my playlists or is it taking into account my location/s when I’m listening to music. If it’s using my location, then it must have a tracking tool that runs in the background. I don’t recall giving the app permission to track my location.

My “Maps” app on the iPhone tells me if there is a traffic incident every Monday to Friday on my route to work. It tells me this before I have even left home.

How did it come to this knowledge?

Well it’s tracked the route I take to work. Since I’ve done it thousands of times it’s worked out my route. Should I care that a machine knows what time I leave home for work and what time I get to work. I also don’t recall agreeing to share this information. I even checked my security settings and I cannot see anything that gives the machine approval to track me. But it does.

It’s pretty scary if you ask me.

And scary is only getting faster.

Messages will travel faster and more people will be sending them to even more machines. The time we spend on devices would increase and the time we spend on other activities will decrease.

At the end of the day I know,
That we work all our lives to pay for a cage they own
It ain’t no coincidence that the whole world is caught in an endless debt
“Problem Reaction Solution” by Cog

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Review in 40 Words, Unsung Heroes

80’s Forgotten Playlist

Spotify Playlist

A lot of good music came out in the 80’s that is more or less lost or forgotten or known as semi-obscure. Hell, there is no way the Spotify algorithm will be able to find it and pick it up.

Blame MTV. The show became popular because it had “hit video clips”. In order to get onto the show, bands needed a hit single. So even though bands went away and recorded a very solid album without any hit singles, the most commercial sounding song and sometimes with the most clichéd lyrics would end up as the single. And if the song resonated, people would highly likely go and check out the album or the back catalogue. This was good for sales and the record labels made a lot of money.

However, the MTV rules still apply today. We’ve come full circle. If you have a hit single today, you will rack up a billion streams on Spotify, which might get people interested into checking out the whole album or the back catalogue. But in most cases, people will be happy with the “hit” single and a lot of music is not heard. Remember a few years ago when Spotify did a check on their data and found over 20 million songs that haven’t even been heard. Think about the number. 20 million songs not even heard. That’s the competition for any new band. With so many bands/artists creating music, how do you rise above the 20 plus million songs that no one has even heard?

Does your latest release just add to the 20 million never heard pile or does it rise above?

And you need people to push it, talk about it and promote it.

Secret Loser
Killer Of Giants

Both tracks are from Ozzy Osbourne’s forgotten “Ultimate Sin” album released in 1986.

“Shot In the Dark” got the glory as the lead single and is probably the reason why the album is not available on CD anymore depending on who you believe. Overland brothers vs Osbourne, or Soussan vs Osbourne, or Overland vs Soussan.

At one stage in the late 90’s, this album was deleted and you couldn’t get any new copies. One of the Australian mags mentioned it’s because of Sharon Osbourne’s contract disputes with Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee. Maybe it was the authorship issue of “Shot In The Dark”.

Who remembers the movie “The Wraith”?

Charlie Sheen stars in it, as a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a car gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers by racing each gang member to death. Well, “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.

How good is the riff?

Trapped in a lonely body
I’m losing control
Can’t show my emotions
And I’m losing my soul
Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease
I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees

Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.

I can understand that what you see
You think is real
But underneath the surface is a wound
That cannot heal

It’s almost like being a fly on a wall in a shrink therapy session. Just imagine the big bad rock star with an image of decadence and debauchery breaking down within the confines of four walls and a chair.

“Killer Of Giants” is as good and as classic as “Diary of A Madman” in my view. Musically, it’s excellent. It’s got that acoustic introduction, social and political lyrics courtesy of Bob Daisley, a great chorus and excellent guitar playing from Jake E. Lee

If none of us believe in war
The can you tell me what the weapon’s for
Listen to me everyone
If the button is pushed
There’ll be nowhere left to run

Daisley, grew up with the threat of the button being pushed. For the generation of today, the threat of nuclear war is in the past, forgotten. Then again, my kids asked me recently, what would happen if we go to war with North Korea?

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Rising so proudly it has nowhere to fall
This killer of giants

At the moment our leaders are having a war of words with “rogue nations”. While sticks and stones hurt, a barrage of words can undo all truth. Especially words tainted with lies. Sometimes, people never recover. Say the right words, make a difference and doors can open. Say the wrong words and watch doors shut and a very darker difference will be seen.

Jake E. Lee got really shafted with his time in Ozzy. He has no song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, which he should. And for “The Ultimate Sin” he has the credits, however the Osbourne camp are doing their best to kill off the album and hide it.

Little Fighter
Cry For Freedom

What can I say about White Lion that I haven’t said before?

With Vito Bratta, the band had one of the best guitarists ever. He knew how to decorate a song and his leads are little masterpieces themselves. The other key ingredient to me was when Mike Tramp wrote lyrics about society, the injustices in society and how if we don’t do something right now to protect our world, there will not be a world to protect.

And maybe these serious themes proved to be the downfall of White Lion. I remember Vito Bratta saying in an interview when White Lion played Castle Donnington. They came on after Skid Row and before AC/DC and while the crowd got into the party lifestyle lyrics of Skid Row and Acca, they just didn’t resonate when White Lion sang about Greenpeace or apartheid in South Africa.

Rise again little fighter
And let the world know the reason why
Shine again little fighter
And don’t let ’em end the things you do

The lyrics are written in a way that it can be about many different situations. It could be an inspirational message to a person who is down on their luck. It could be the words in the head of a boxer after he/she have been knocked to the canvas or words to a child who didn’t make the elite team.

The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free

“Cry For Freedom” is very Dylan’esque in it’s lyrics. South Africa and it’s apartheid policies always made the news in Australia. And when people have nothing else left except to fight for freedom and equality, then there is a high chance they would do so. The truth is, we are never free. Speak to anyone in debt and ask them if they feel free. Our lives are at the mercy of the banking system. In South Africa, racism was used to imprison people.

Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed I face my fellow man

Even in our democratic countries people are jailed for no crimes and unfortunately racism will not go away.

Musically, Vito Bratta kills it. All of those people calling him an EVH clone got no idea. It’s like calling LeBron James the next Jordan. Both can shoot threes, slam dunks and do all of the wonderful things players do. But both are different. Same deal with EVH and Bratta. EVH was technical but more aggressive in his style. Hearing EVH play sometimes, I used to get an image of him punching his guitar. The sense of melody that Bratta exhibits is fluent and theoretical. He worked within the modes most of the time, like Rhoads did which made it very melodic.

Bang Go The Bells
Desperate

Babylon A.D is one of those bands that fall into the “should have made it” category. They even caught the attention of Arista Records president and industry music mogul Clive Davis, who signed them at a live showcase in Los Angeles. Hell, their lyrics suited the era to a tee and the musicianship was/is top-notch. The problem (and not really their fault) is too many bands sounded the same and the music consumers/the fans started to get burned on the scene. “Bang Go The Bells” and “Desperate” are from the debut album, released in 1989.

Here we sit in this smoky bar
Two souls drifting through the world alone
Here we talk about life and love

Loneliness is humanities greatest disease. If someone is there, we wouldn’t be lost in the dangers of our own thoughts.

When your dreams seem far away
Take a moment to look over your shoulder
‘Cause, honey, you know I’m desperate too
Everybody’s desperate just like you

It’s not a sign of weakness to say we don’t want to be alone.

“Bang Go the Bells” is written by vocalist Derek Davis, guitarist Ron Freschi and bassist Robb Reid. “Desperate” is written by Derek Davis and songwriter Jack Ponti. Yes, the same Jack Ponti who co-wrote “Shot Through The Heart” with Jon Bon Jovi and went on to co-write the majority of the “Hey Stoopid” album with Alice Cooper and Vic Pepe.

From a guitar point of view, Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi bring all of the hard rock flavourings to both songs.

Speak For Yourself
Blood Of Emeralds

From Gary Moore. The songs are from “After The War” released in 1989. “Speak For Yourself” is written by Neil Carter and Gary Moore.

How good is the riff?

It’s a speed rock song and it’s lyrics are still relevant today.

Look around across the nation
Another league of morons marching,
Banners in hand.
Looking for another scapegoat,
Try to take away the things they don’t understand.

The older I get, the more I realize, I’ve got no idea where it’s all going and neither do the people we vote in, who are all beholden to the corporation which pays the most.

Somewhere in the darkness,
There’s a voice that’s crying to be heard.
You feel it deep inside you,
A voice that just won’t be denied.

Speak for yourself.
Someone will hear you,
Someone will listen.
Speak for yourself.
Who knows, you might change your world.

So true and so relevant today. People have exercised their voices with votes, but our leaders are not the problem. It’s the rich corporations in the background that are the problem. Then again when you get leaders who came from rich corporations, mmm, what does that say about the state of the world?

But in all seriousness, people power stopped bad legislation in SOPA and PIPA. People power started to ramp up to stop the Trans Pacific Agreement legislation because it was negotiated in secret and with the corporations present and then Trumpy came into power and killed it dead. Only to replace it with something worse, which we don’t know about yet.

They try to take away your freedom.
They try to tell you what you can
Or what you can’t hear.
Don’t let this moral suffocation
Make you turn out just like them,
Is that what they fear?

The internet has given people a voice. In the process a new on-demand culture was created. People are connected socially over vast distances instantly. And we love it. But corporations who have business models based on control don’t like it and they go straight to their lobby groups to get laws written to benefit their business models. They use laws promoted to benefit the people to take away the freedoms of the people.

For example, in Australia, the large retailers lobby group didn’t like Australians purchasing products from overseas at a cheaper price, so they lobbied hard to get a tax added to overseas purchases. In the end, this tax just made the overseas companies set up a presence in Australia as a big FU.

Copyright is morphing into a censorship law. Videos and posts get taken down due to copyright complaints, however when it’s investigated why the video or the post got taken down, it’s found that the person complaining didn’t like what was being said so they used copyright as a censorship tool.

“Blood Of Emeralds” is written by Carter and Moore again and its more or less an autobiographical song about his time with Phil Lynott.

I was down and out on Skid Row,
But I held on to my pride.
The darkest son of Ireland,
He was standin’ by my side.
We would sail the stormy seas.
Never looking back,
We were afraid of what we’d see.
Through the thunder and the rain,
The deepest blood of emeralds
Was running through our veins.

He covers his time in “Skid Row” (not the U.S band), moving on to Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott, the darkest son of Ireland and how they would cross into the U.S.

I was angry, I was sad,
Just thinking about the times we had.
I felt so lost and lonely too,
What could I say, what could I do?
And after all, the time goes by.
No one knows the reasons why.
You lived each day like there was no tomorrow.
You spent those years living on time you borrowed.
And in your eyes, all I could see was sorrow.

Phil’s passing and how it affected him.

Gary Moore in the 90’s went all blues and in interviews after the success of “Still Got The Blues”, he was very hateful to his original (he spoke highly of his covers) 80’s hard rock output. Regardless, Gary Moore (along with John Sykes, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch and Vito Bratta) are big influences to me. My guitar style is basically an amalgamation of those 5 guitarists.

With Spotify these days, I have no idea who plays on the songs, like I did in the past. On this album, Gary Moore had Neil Carter on keyboards, Bob Daisley on bass, Cozy Powell on drums, but Cozy didn’t drum on the two songs mentioned above. That was Simon Phillips, who would do also do work with AC/DC during the “Blow Up Your Video” era and Dio during the “Lock Up The Wolves era plus a tonne of sessions for other artists. Don Airey is also on keys for three songs. Hell, what a supergroup.

I Walk Alone
Badboy Breakout

I must admit I am a sucker for polished hair metal as it became known. “Tear the House Down” was the debut and only release from Hericane Alice and released in 1990 I believe, so I cheated on putting this one in this list. Anyway the band is one of many that got a major label deal late in the 80’s and were largely ignored by the record buying public.

The band was formed in Minneapolis in 1984 and after relocating to LA in 88, they got a deal with Atlantic Records in 1989. After the debut, the band recorded some demos with producer Neal Kernon for album number 2, however the shift in music happened and Atlantic passed on the option.

Sometimes your dreams can come true
You’re in heaven, for so long
Nightmares could happen to you
Just remember, life is long

The above is from “I Walk Alone”.

The career trajectory of Hericane Alice was like a dream come true, getting signed and recording an album with major label backing. However, the heaven of a major label turned into a nightmare.

No one can make it alone. We all need someone to listen to us, someone to speak to when we are down and out. Life is scary. Just google all the studies after studies that talk about suicides. People are killing themselves because they’ve lost all hope.

Meanwhile “Badboy Breakout” while great musically has lyrics about a load that’s ready to explode. Still, I am a fan of hair metal. (what a stupid name for music that’s more or less rock).

Ready Or Not
Sign Of The Times

“Out Of This World” was the follow-up to “The Final Countdown” and Europe needed hits to keep the momentum going.

Released in 1988, “Superstitious” took all the glory right off the bat, while a re-recording of “Open Your heart” failed to inspire the record buying public, except me, who has a 7 inch single of it, along with “Superstitious”. Other singles, “Let The Good Times Rock” and “More Than Meets The Eye” also failed to connect and the album didn’t do as well commercially as the previous album.

But to me, “Ready Or Not” and “Sign Of The Times” are the stand out tracks. But you had to be a fan to hear them as they only appeared on the album.

Rock me till I hit that floor
Rock me till I take no more
Rock this hungry heart of mine
Rock me down right to the ground
Rock me like you never done before
Then rock me just a little more

It more or less sums up the rock and roll show.

“Sign Of The Times” also has a signature keyboard lick that should have been as popular as “The Final Countdown” riff.

It’s the way that we make things right
It’s the way that we hold on tight
I know, it’s the sign of the times
It’s the way that we make things turn
It’s the way that we live and learn
I know, it’s the sign of the times

The sign of the times to me is when all our hope’s run out we just need to love one another to get through the day. It’s the way we live and learn. I guess we need a lot more of it these days.

The World Of You and I

It’s from “In God We Trust” released in 1988. The title track, “Always There For You” and “I Believe In You” might have had the attention and the MTV dial a song codes, but this song is a little melodic rock gem hidden on Side 2. And Stryper didn’t need auto tune to sound so in tune. It was all natural and kudos to Michael Sweet for penning such a gem.

You’re out there all alone
Searching endlessly for a home

There’s nothing like been away from home to actually miss what you have.

We Are Strong

Hurricane had some big name pedigree in it’s ranks. The brothers of Rudy Sarzo (Robert Sarzo) and Carlos Cavazo (Tony Cavazo) took the guitar and bass positions in a role reversal to what their older brothers played. If Rudy played bass, Robert played guitar and if Carlos played guitar, Tony played bass.

“We Are Strong” has got that “You Give Love A Bad Name” vibe and it’s a great piece of melodic arena rock.

Facing hard times
Hold on
Time’s still on our side

It’s easy to walk away and destroy what’s been built. So many walk away for reasons that are important to them and some need to do it to escape a hostile situation.

We’ve got to stick it out

Some might be saying for what. Sometimes people are stronger when they go their own ways, reset and restart.

Cry In Shame

It’s from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors, an Australian guitarist/singer who has this bluesy soul rock vibe that just works. And the problem with Australian artists breaking big in the U.S is the deals they sign with Australian labels, who then make it hard for the U.S labels to get a bigger piece of the contract.

Pickin’ up the pieces
Up off the floor
How was I to know
There was gonna be a war
Words of sorrow
Words of spite
Ringin’ in my head
Right through the night

Who hasn’t been in this situation? For me, it was more in the earlier days. As I get older, certain things that used to bother me don’t even get a blip on my radar.

Up all night
With a conscience fight
Just can’t sleep
So I put on the light

It’s so true after an argument. You can’t sleep as you replay it in your head and you get angry at the missed opportunity to say your piece properly when it mattered.

Time To Surrender

Poor, Kip Winger. His face was on a dart board as Lars Ulrich threw darts at him while Beavis and Butthead created a whole show around him. But man, the dude could sing and along with Reb Beach, they became a pretty good songwriting team, crafting some brilliant AOR/Rock gems. But this song is more in the vein of the hair metal vibe and it works.

The lyrics deal with leaving and someone needing to surrender to keep the relationship going, which at the start it looks like Kip is asking the woman to surrender, but by the end of the song, it’s Kip who has surrendered.

Regardless of the lyrics, the melodies and the music work and it’s a good hidden Winger gem from a pretty excellent debut album.

Rock Me

From Great White’s 1987 album “Once Bitten”.

We’d be so good together if we had the time
‘Cause being alone is a nowhere state of mind

Relationships need time investment. If you are not committed to invest, it normally ends.

I search the world for someone I’ll never find
Someone who ain’t the hurting kind

People get hurt all the time. Physical injuries heal, but our thoughts and feelings also get injured. These hidden injuries never really heal. The anxiety and doubt our thoughts and feelings put forth, amplify if they are not checked.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

When the big chorus comes in, it works to a tee.

Great White in the 80’s and 90’s produced some good output even when the musical climate shifted to Seattle.

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

Run To Paradise

Choirboys are from Australia. This is from their 1987 album “Big Bad Noise”. The song is a classic in Australia, however in other parts of the world it’s unknown or it doesn’t exist. But it should. The song more or less sums up life for a lot of people. It has the partner you liked and how they sort of liked you, the friend who has an addiction problem, the parent who is losing control of their child as they get older and the other friend who drifts away as they get older.

And Paradise can be a city, a town or a place in time in the past that was just perfect, before the big bad world got in the way.

Baby, you were always gonna be the one
You only ever did it just for fun
But you run to paradise

The immortal opening lines of the song. The chord progression is similar to “Crazy Train” moving from the A to the E to the D.

Jenny, I’ll meet you at the grocery store
You don’t need a friend when you can score
You run to paradise

About the friend who isn’t a friend when they are high.

Jesus say’s it’s gonna be all right
He’s gonna pat my back so I can walk in the light
But it’s not alright sometimes.

The Morning After
Closer To My Heart
Looking For Love

“The Morning After” is from the 3x U.S platinum “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. “Closer To My Heart” is from the 2x U.S platinum “Invasion Of Your Privacy” album released in 1985 and “Looking For Love” is from the 1x U.S platinum “Dancing Undercover”.

Let’s start off with “The Morning After”.

How good is that intro riff?

The song is credited to Crosby, DeMartini and Pearcy so I have no idea who wrote the intro riff but as a betting man and after reading Pearcy’s biography, I’ll put money on Crosby as Pearcy described him as the Ratt and Roller Riff Meister.

Also that little harmony lead at the end of the solo is brilliant.

Lyrically, Pearcy talks about going home with someone, lifting skirts and then leaving the morning after, when it’s time.

“Closer To My Heart” is written by Crosby and Pearcy and while it may be classed as a ballad today, it was never viewed as a ballad back in the day.

I listen to you, are you listening to me
The way that you are, it’s easy to see
Feelings for you, now I feel free
I’m lost in time

Love is a two-way street. Both sides have a chance to speak and both sides are meant to listen. In the Ballad of Stephen Pearcy, his partner is not listening to him anymore and he’s fallen out of love.

Indecision, it’s all been heard
No more confusion, the page has turned

Moving on is the hardest thing to do in relationships. Friends pick sides and a sense of familiarity is replaced with the unfamiliar.

“Looking For Love” is written by Crosby, Pearcy and bassist Juan Croucier.

I’m lookin’ for you
You’re lookin’ for me
It’s nothing new
You’re only looking for love
I know it’s true
You know it’s me
I know it’s you
You’re only looking for love

It’s a pop chorus full of clichés and overused rhymes and as good as any pop chorus today. Croucier was also an underrated songwriter within the band, producing a lot of songs and due to whatever politics those songs wouldn’t get considered. So while the singles from the album took all the thunder, the above three tracks should not be seen as poor cousins.

Makin Magic
Flight To Nowhere

Tesla. A massive favourite of mine. Their hard rock vibe mixed with southern rock mixed with Randy Rhoads/Michael Schenker/Angus Young/Eric Clapton guitar playing was huge on my song writing. Hell, I even re-wrote “The Great Radio Controversy” in my own way, meaning I wrote songs similar to all of the songs on this album. And man didn’t this album have some big tunes in “Love Song”, “The Way It Is”, “Heavens Trail”, “Paradise” and “Hang Tough”. But these two songs “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have enough metal in em, to break some teeth and they need more love.

Musically, “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have no filler and are chock full of riffs and great leads and great harmonies. Especially the arpeggiated pull off lick in the “Making Magic” chorus.

Now, I don’t wanna waste your time
I only want to satisfy
So wind me up and watch me go
I’m gettin’ crazy as the night unfolds

Men don’t need much winding up to get going.

I got you, now you got me
Feels so good to be
Makin’ magic, makin’ magic
It ain’t no mystery, come on

Bring on the clichés with heaps of melody. Love it. Moving on to “Flight To Nowhere” .

Look at me, I’m young and bold
Even though I may be growin’ old
I’m never slowin’ down

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it, as you are a long time gone.

Opinion is a piece of mind
Some are good, some are just like
Where the sun don’t shine

So true. Unfortunately, people allow opinions to get the better of them. Treat opinions as just that, opinions, not truth.

Now there’s one more thing I would like to say
This is everybody’s world
And everybody’s gonna live it their own way
No matter what we say, yeah

Be tolerant of all, it’s much better. The sad part is money rules the day and as long as people care more about money, hate will thrive and indifference will not be tolerated.

Troubled minds are full of hate
Willin’ to destroy the human race

The world has vehicles being driven into crowds and bombs going off in crowded market places. What’s next, back to public executions?

(Goin’ down) On a flight to nowhere

Are we too far gone to save ourselves? I don’t believe so.

Midnight/Tornado

From Skid Row’s debut album. After a lot of false starts trying to find the right lead singer that was MTV friendly, Skid Row finally got it going with Sebastian Bach and the recording contract was enacted. But to be honest, I prefer the Brain Fallon demo version found on YouTube. The rawness in Fallon’s voice gave the song what it needed.

Musically and melodically the song is brilliant. Lyrically it talks about a person prowling the streets and coming alive after midnight. Can’t say I am a fan of the words and I would love to hear this song with better lyrics.

Hard As Iron

From the much maligned “Ram It Down” album released in 1988.

I’m blazing on to glory
There’s thunder in my veins
And nothing stands before me
Forever I’ll remain
Hard as iron
Sharp as steel
Stop for no man
You better beg and kneel

Is Halford singing about the metal movement or some mysterious being that’s hard as iron and sharp as steel?

Who cares right?

The song is a five-star speed metal ditty that has all the things in it, people in the 90’s came to hate.

Set The World Afire

From Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988.

Red flesh cloud’s choking out the morning sky
They said it’d never come, we knew it was a lie

Once upon a time nuclear war was the threat in people’s minds. That 80’s TV movie about a nuclear bomb being dropped on a normal U.S town didn’t help either. Today, global warming is a threat. People either don’t care about it or they do, but they shouldn’t ignore it.

Distorted figures walk the street, it’s 1989
Weeds once underneath your feet have grown to vines

It makes me think of the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”.

Dig deep piles of rubble and ruins
Towering overhead both far and wide
Einstein said ‘ We’ll use rocks on the other side ‘
No survivors set the world afire

For all of the drugs and alcohol Mustaine consumed, you would think he would be a vegetable. But he isn’t and his lyrics are evidence of a person who has read far and wide and digested information.

The Transformers Theme

From the 1986 “Transformers” cartoon movie. The movie started off with all of the Autobots fans knew getting killed off in the first 15 minutes. And it’s got a wicked soundtrack, along with Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, this remake of the cartoon theme into a hair metal track also works.

Lion was formed when two UK artists, vocalist Kal Swann and guitarist Tony Smith located to the U.S and teamed up with bassist Alex Campbell and drummer Mark Edwards from Steeler. After the demo was recorded, Doug Aldrich (yes the same Doug Aldrich that went on to join Dio, Whitesnake and now plays with Revolution Saints) was recruited to replace Smith on guitar and basses Jerry Best replaced Campbell.

Now check out the connections between Lion and some of the bands above.

Aldrich would replace Robert Sarzo in Hurricane for one album, “Slave To The Thrill”. Swan and Aldrich would get together with former Hericane Alice members Jackie Ramos and Ian Mayo to form Bad Moon Rising. Jerry Best would later re-appear in Freak of Nature, featuring former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp.

Lioooooon, more than meets the eye…

Hearts On Fire – John Cafferty
No Easy Way Out – Robert Tepper
The Sweetest Victory – Touch

The above three tracks are from the unbelievable and super melodic rock “Rocky IV” soundtrack. Stallone sure knew how to pick a song for his movies. From memory, I believe the movie and soundtrack came out in 1985. I still have the cassette to it and in the 90’s I found the LP in a second-hand record shop. Hell, the Rocky IV soundtrack kick started the melodic rock revolution, especially in Europe.

John Cafferty is the cheaper version of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. If a movie needed a song that sounded like a Springsteen or Adams song, Cafferty was your man. I first came across his music with the “Eddie and The Cruisers” movie and what a soundtrack he wrote for it. “On The Dark Side”, “Season In Hell” and “Tender Years” are as good as all of the hits from the 80’s.

“Hearts On Fire” is not written by Cafferty. In this case he’s just the performer. Actual songwriters are Vince DiCola, Ed Fruge and Joe Esposito. Vince DiCola is the person responsible for the excellent training montage and the end fight music between Rocky and Drago.

Silent darkness creeps into your soul
And removes the light of self-control
The cave that holds you captive has no doors
Burnin’ with determination to even up the score

Doubt leads us to the cave with no doors and even though the cave has no doors, we still cannot escape the darkness of it. Because of doubt and how we let our thoughts control our actions.

How many of our heroes took their own lives?

How many of our friends have taken their own lives?

How many people turn to narcotics to deals with situations?

Dealing with doubt, fear, loneliness, anger and shame is part of life. Those same emotions drive us and they separate us.

And things that give deep passions are your sword
Rules and regulations have no meaning anymore
Let the disappointment lead to inspiration.

Another find from Stallone was Robert Tepper who ended up contributing “No Easy Way Out” to “Rocky IV” and “Angel Of The City” to the “Cobra” movie.

There’s no easy way out there’s no shortcut home
There’s no easy way out givin’ in can’t be wrong

I know the song is about a relationship, however the way Stallone used it in Rocky IV is brilliant. This is the part as he is driving his car. Apollo was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago and Rocky just agreed to fight him in Russia. He gets home and Adrianne confronts him, not happy about that he decided to fight Ivan Drago. So he jumps in his car to clear his head, the music comes on and all these flashbacks start coming back.

And the message the song conveys is that to avenge Apollo’s death, there is no easy way out. Rocky must fight and beat Ivan Drago, which at the point in time in the film looked super impossible.

“The Sweetest Victory” from Touch is another melodic rock gem. I have no other music from this band, except for this one song on the soundtrack. The song has an iconic keyboard riff and a vocal melody that hits the mark.

What Does It Take

By Honeymoon Suite and their “Big Prize” album released in 1986.

If I could grow wings I would do anything
Just to keep you with me
Can’t you see
If I could fly high I would give you the sky
Don’t you make that mistake
It’s your love that I need
What does it take

What a Chorus. Big. Anthemic. Melodic. Tick x 3.

And I just realised that each song I have selected above has some very good guitar playing. Guess I’m a biased listener.

Enjoy.

More parts will follow.

I’m having a shitload of fun living in the 80’s.

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

Discover Playlist

We still live in an environment where artists insist on making albums and then spending time promoting a body of songs, believing if they yell loud enough people will care. But we don’t. Volbeat singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen hit the nail on the head, when he said “kids these days have a new favourite artist each week”.

Sometimes it takes months or years for excellence to rise to the top. So it’s always interesting to see what songs the Discover Playlist comes up with, because I have been pretty slack at following or liking or saving some of my favourite artists in Spotify.

I am always surprised when songs from artists I normally support come up, or from artists I haven’t heard in a while. Sometimes, it’s from an artist I have heard off, but haven’t heard any music from. Other times it’s from artists where I have heard an album or a song, but never really got into it. Other times it’s from artists where I own an album or two and the songs are from an album I don’t own or haven’t heard.

Alter Bridge – Slip Into The Void
I have the CD’s of Alter Bridge and their music on my iTunes, however the Spotify service had no idea I liked Alter Bridge. But, from my listening habits on the service, its algorithms worked out that Alter Bridge could be a band I would be interested in. That’s one point for the algorithms.

It’s from 2010’s “ABIII”.

How good does the song start off?

It’s a hypnotic riff, and when Myles comes in with the vocals, it feels dangerous.

Slip to the void
To the dark
To the fall
Crawl to the life you shouldn’t know
You should never come this way
To test the hands of fate
You don’t belong here

In our life we have highs and lows and as much as we believe or want to be happy all the time, none of us can be all the time. “Slip Into The Void” is a dark song

Then from 1.30 the intro is over and the song cranks to eleven.

John Norum – Love Is Meant To Last Forever
An important ingredient to Europe’s breakout success in 1986 is John Norum. He played on the album, was on the original cover and is included in “The Final Countdown” video clip but never toured behind the album support.

Who knows why Norum left Europe at that time.

Having a step father who was high up at CBS/Sony at Sweden might have influenced him, while on the other hand, the death of a close friend in a drowning accident while Europe filmed a concert for live broadcast might have affected him.

My John Norum exposure post Europe goes something like this. He played with Don Dokken on the excellent “Up From The Ashes” album, and then he went solo again with “Face The Truth”. That album I do have because of Glenn Hughes doing guest vocals on it. It’s an excellent piece of melodic rock. However, “Love Is Meant To Last Forever” is from “Total Control”, Norum’s first solo album released in 1987 and post his departure from Europe. I remember seeing the album advertised in the Guitar magazines I purchased during the time, but I never picked it up.

From the intro, I am hooked.

I always enjoy melodic rock/metal music. A lot of the times the lyrics in those songs would make me grind my teeth, but musically, the genre is spot on. Future Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Goran Edman provides vocals for the song.

You are my best friend
And I will try to understand
The moment you need me
I’ll be there so just take my hand

We are all just visitors to this world, so our time is short and one thing we are all looking for is a love that will last forever.

Dynazty – Titanic Mass
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all.

Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. The band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

The whole song is a perfect example of the style of music I enjoy and that Chorus reminds me of “The Fire Still Burns” from Twisted Sister.

As an added bonus, how good is the harmony interlude section that kicks in at 2.30.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Rev Theory – We Own The Night
I got into this band with their 2008 release “Light It Up” and the songs “Hell Yeah”, “Broken Bones”, “Wanted Man”, “Ten Years”, “You’re The One” and “Far From Over”. After that I heard the “Justice” album and it just didn’t connect with me, so I sort of lost them afterwards. But this track is up there with my favourites.

The band’s journey has been going since 2002.

They released “Truth Is Currency” in 2005, on Element Records, an EMI subsidiary. In 2007, they got a major label deal with Interscope Records and released “Light It Up” in 2008. “Justice” had the big name producer in Terry Date and it was released in 2011 on Interscope Records. In 2012, they release an EP called “Take ‘Em Out” on Killer Tracks, a subsidiary of Universal.

In August, 2014, Rev Theory signed with Another Century Records a subsidiary of Century Media/Sony Music and here we are in 2016, with “The Revelation”.

“We Own The Night” has a groove that I dig. It starts off with a distorted arpeggiated guitar riff. Then a simplistic “We Will Rock You” drum groove comes in, along with the emotive and catchy vocal line. When the Chorus kicks in, I’m hooked.

Head down
Walk the line with no opinion

Ideas and opinions can shape the world but our degree factories condition us to believe we don’t have an opinion and as soon as we get into debt, we fail to voice any opinion, just in case it gets us dismissed from work, because without work, we cannot pay our debt.

Turn up the audio, lose yourself and all control tonight
I’ll keep on clawing my way until there is a change

An old message of turning it up appears in 2016. Quick call the plagiarism lawyers.

Place Vendome – Streets of Fire
The song begins with a beautiful sounding piano lick merging the chorus chords with the vocal line. After 25 seconds, the song moves into melodic rock territory.

Frontiers Records is doing its best to keep melodic rock and metal going. Place Vendome is one of the many “supergroup” projects put together by Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugino and one of his earliest that dates back to 2004.

Michael Kiske from Helloween fame is on vocals while Denis Ward from Pink Cream 69 is bassist, producer, mixer and engineer. The songs are all written by outside writers. In the end, it is a full on AOR project, where the music decisions are made by the A&R departments of Frontiers and not the artists themselves.

Our time has come, we must take justice in our hands
I feel heavy and hard, but that’s just the way it is
There out to steal our dreams, our pride, our dignity
Will we find in the art we play, will we roll the dice?

It’s the rebellion theme of the 80’s.

Streets of fire
The rise and the fall
In the streets of fire
War raging on

Once the fight begins it never really ends. The loser will bide their time, until they strike again.

Also check out the tasty finger tapped lick in the solo.

Days of Jupiter – Bleed
The do Disturbed better than Disturbed and I mean that in a good way. The song is from their “Secrets Brought To Life” album released in 2012. Of course they are from Sweden. Where else would good heavy rock bands come from these days?

Life will make you
Bleed
It’s down to who you wanna be
It’s down to you
You wanna
Take another bite from insanity
Take another bite from reality
Bleed
Step up to who you wanna be
Step up to who you wanna
Take another bite from insanity
Take another bite from reality

Life will make you bleed. There is no doubt about it. Decisions made in the past will make you bleed. But it is down to the person as to how they respond to the insanity that reality throws at them.

Black Trip – Die With Me
It’s heavy rock and it has this Seventies attitude that I dig.

No loss, no life, let go and die with me

The Chorus. Once it comes in, it just hooks me in.

The will is struggling in a state of despair
These broken pieces I cannot repair
There’s nothing here that I can argue about
It’s just a shame I couldn’t figure it out

I know nothing about this band. Spotify tells me the song is from an album called “Shadowline” released in August, 2015. So I went to their website and saw the band is no more due to a band member departure, however the band will continue under a new name. It comes as no surprise that they are from Sweden.

A few press releases found their way to Blabbermouth explain the band a bit more.

So the genesis of the band goes back to 2003. Like Audrey Horne, Volbeat and The Night Flight Orchestra, the artists wanted to create a band based on their musical upbringing. But things don’t go as smooth and the project got put on the back burner until 2011. There is another album called “Goin Under” that came out in 2013 that I will check out as well.

Marillion – Hooks In You
Love the intro riff on this. Guitar player, Steve Rothery is excellent and he deserves more attention for his deeds.

It’s from the “Seasons End” album released in 1989 and the first to feature current lead singer Steve Hogarth, following the departure of former vocalist Fish in late 1988. I have the Marillion LP’s and nothing of them on digital, so another bonus point to the Spotify algorithm for recommending Marillion based on my listening habits.

She’s got her hooks in you

No one else ever sounded like Marillion, either then or now. As a result we’re left with a body of work from 1983 to 1989, which really gets no accolades today. A cult like fan base sustains Marillion and to the hard-core fans they will never be forgotten.

David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise
Wow, it’s been 20 plus years since I’ve heard this song. It’s amazing how time makes you forget but as soon as you hear a song from your past, you are familiar with it, you know every word and it takes you back to a point in time, to MTV, to the video clip, to Steve Vai and his heart guitar, to big hair, to over the top lead singer antics and just a feel good innocent time where I believed I was indestructible.

The power of music.

Rockin’ steady in her daddy’s car
She got the stereo with the big guitars
And that’s all right

The scene is set with lyrics no one will ever forget.

This must be just like livin’ in paradise
And I don’t wanna go home

The undeniable chorus hook .

“Just Like Paradise” appeared on 1988’s “Skyscraper” album and the last to feature Steve Vai. I saw the album for sale when it came out but passed on it for AC/DC’s “Heatseeker”. I suppose Angus coming out of a television was a better marketing angle than David Lee Roth hanging on a mountain. Then that night, I caught the clip on MTV and I went back to the store the next day. I was afraid I’d missed my chance. Was that one LP still available?

It was. The impact of a song to sell an album cannot be underestimated. So I came home and dropped the needle and fell into confusion again. Like “Eat Em And Smile”, it was a very hit and miss album. But there is no denying the star of the album. It was a perfect MTV song for a band who’d paid their dues with previous artists, because, once upon a time paying your dues mattered.

Eclipse – Bleed and Scream
That intro riff over the foot stomping drum beat is addictive. This is from 2012.

Now you’re begging on your knees
And you’re begging me to stay
You beg me to look past your little mistake
There’s nothing you can say to me
No nothing you can say to me

Did she sleep with someone else?

I can handle the pain
Handle the betrayal
Handle the knife you stabbed in my back
You’re nothing but a memory
Someone I’m gonna forget

Man, this is an angry break up song and that solo takes me back to the 80’s. It’s structured and well thought out.

Another band from Stockholm, Sweden, formed in 1999. Currently they are on Frontiers Records and singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson is constantly used by the label to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints covered an Eclipse song.

Marys Creek – Hypnotized
Mary’s Creek hail from (drum roll………) Sweden. Formed in 2004, they have a Euro Pop vibe happening in the Chorus and the verses are a combination of heavy rock Euro metal.

The song is from the “Infinity” album released in 2016.

The intro to this song is like a commercialised edited version of “Seasons In The Abyss” from Slayer. Then from the 30 second mark, it goes into a very heavy AC/DC, “Long Way To The Top” vibe.

I try to love
I try to hate
Don’t give me pain
Cause my soul can’t take no more

You Want It, You Want It So Bad,
I will never let you go,
Come take it, you can take what you want, you’ve got me hypnotized

So I was curious to check out the album. Of course “Hypnotized” is the opening track and an excellent introduction to the band.

The next track to grab my attention is “So Afraid (To Live). Musically it’s a foot stomper and a modern take on the grooves of AC/DC.

So afraid you can’t go on this way
You have to live your life, you have to live

“The First Day” is up next and it’s pretty hooky.

This is the first day of the rest of my life

“The Ghost Inside” is more of what I expected from the album based on the song “Hypnotized”. It has that metallic edge and the cowbell comes out in the interlude.

Insanity is the ghost inside

“Forever Lost” is another track that deserves more attention, however it is buried at the tail end of the album. It crosses between metal and rock.

Could it be today I take my final breath?

You just don’t know when that day will be, so it goes without saying, don’t waste any time.

Slash – Wicked Stone
From 2014’s “World On Fire” album.

It starts off like a Van Halen song, but then when the main riff comes in, it reminds me of “Locomotive” from “Use Your Illusion II” and the vocals of Myles Kennedy are instantly recognisable.

I have this on CD, so I never told Spotify that I liked the band. Another bonus point for the algorithm.

It’s a great song, with a groovy swagger and an arena rock chorus.

Once a rolling stone
Now a falling star
Was so close to home
Now so far

Fame is fleeting. Each artist has a peak which is followed by a low. Some make it back to new highs, some just make it back and some just get off the grid.

Work Of Art – How Will I Know?
To be honest, with power been taken away from the labels as to who can release music, it has brought about a new era of artists who have no real reason to try to sound a certain way. Artists don’t have to worry about trends.

And that’s how Work of Art comes into the picture.

This song just brings back memories of the 80’s for me. It’s from the “Framework” album, released in 2014 and of course they are from Sweden. The bands origins go back to 1992 and the project got put on hold. They tried again in 1998. It got put on hold. Then they tried again from 2002.

How can I know if this love can be true?

We don’t and we never will. From what I have experienced, love changes as the years go on. That lustful love at the beginning changes a lot as time goes on.

The track was good enough to make me go to the album and hear it. And it was a cool listen. It’s classic melodic rock from the 80’s done at its best and for any fans it’s a worthwhile listen.

Other stand-out tracks are “How Do You Sleep At Night” and “The Machine”. Both songs have excellent guitar playing and that jazz fusion lead in “The Machine” is sublime.

Thunderstone – Through The Pain
How good is that groove in the intro?

That Chorus.

Melodic metal from Helsinki, Finland at its best. Formed in 2000 but the member’s origins go back even further. In 2001, they got a deal with Nuclear Blast. Their self-titled debut came out in 2002 and since then they have released 5 albums and changed members.

Give me your heart, give me your soul
You’ll feel alive again, take my hand, I’ll set you free
I will take your through the pain with me

The song is from the “Apocalypse Again” album released in 2016 and based on the strength of it, I immediately went to hear the album on Spotify.

After a generic power metal opening track, I was hooked by “The Path”. Wow, what a track. A foot stomping intro riff leads into a subdued verse, which is followed by a middle eastern sounding pre-chorus and capped off by a massive arena rock chorus.

You will always find your way back to your home
This is the path you’ll always roam

Damn right, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Higher” is the next track that hooks me in with the intro guitar lick that reminds me of Ozzy era “Hellraiser meets Zombie Stomp meets Welcome To The Jungle intro”. It doesn’t have that big power metal chorus and it relies solely on the groove and that intro lick.

“Days Of Our Lives” is another foot stomper. For some reason, when Thunderstone move away from the fast power metal songs the songs are just better and more addictive. This one has a Kashmir like drum groove.

These are the days of our lives
The time to be alive
Get wings and learn to fly
Soar up in the sky

I know, it’s been said so many times before, but who cares. This is heavy metal. Fly on your way like an eagle. Oh, wait a minute that was “Flight of Icarus” from Maiden. It doesn’t end well for poor Icarus.

UFO – Rock Bottom
At 7 plus minutes, you forget how powerful this track is. No one has the time these days to spend 7 minutes on a track. But back in the 80’s, all we had was time. And to anyone who wanted to listen, I’ve always said this track is the embryo that gave birth to the NWOBHM and speed metal movements in general.

Almost 40 years later the track still gets the head nodding and the foot tapping.

In the solo you can hear why Michael Schenker became an influence to a million guitarists. And he’s still doing it tough financially due to bad contracts, bad management deals and bad accountants who took large chunks while they drip fed him pennies.

Rock bottom (x6)

From a time when Choruses had the title repeated over and over again.

Lucifer goes walkin’
Down for you to meet

Good old Luci gets a mention. How did this song pass the censors back in the 70’s?

Warlock – All We Are
It’s from 1987’s “Truimph And Steel” album and it was perfect for MTV. A hot looking blonde front woman decked out in black leathers and an MTV friendly backing band.

Think of Warlock as the record label experiment that would lead to Mr Big a few years later. All of the members were recruited from bands that had either a good guitar player, a good bass player or a good drummer and nothing else. So the label A&R heads decided to keep the talent and eventually something will come along.

All we are
All we are, we are
We are all, all we need

How catchy is that Chorus?

That was the hook. A call to arms to all rock and metal heads to realise that all we need to make it or to be somebody is the unity. The strength of the pack.

Harem Scarem – Slowly Slipping Away
I passed on the LP because of the band name and that doll on the cover. Many years later, I heard the record and I was an instant fan.

We’ve had our share of confusion
We’ve been let down so many times before

Simple, yet so right.

Black Country Communion – One Last Soul
I’m a big fan of Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa, so I was very interested when I heard they got together. The usual outlets wrote a lot of good things about their little project, that also includes Jason Bonham. But I didn’t know where to start musically. I didn’t want to invest time into the whole album. I wanted recommendations. So thank you Spotify Discovery for bringing me “One Last Soul” from the debut self-titled album, released in 2010.

You’re the one last Soul
Who can win it
You’re the one last Soul
If you try
You’re the one last Soul
If you live it

The solo has this classic rock, Michael Schenker vibe.

And after three albums, they are on hiatus or broken up. I read some interviews with Glenn. He was angry at Joe’s commitment during the recording of the third album recording.

Sacred Mother Tongue – Evolve/Become
The song is from the album “A Light Shines” released in 2012.

This one is interesting. It’s got a huge arena rock melodic rock/metal chorus, with thrash style riffing and barking lyrics in the verses. I dig it.

Reflection of our failings, and all we’ve done
Our power is in numbers, unite as one
We’ll wash away destruction, when said and done
Evolve in forward motion / We must Become

Fates Warning – One
From the addictive “Disconnected” album, released in 2000 and to me is a perfect blend of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Tool and “Images and Words” era Dream Theater. This one is very influenced by Porcupine Tree.

Under the spotlight
I feel our world becoming one

You know the feeling when the spotlight shines on you. You cannot see anyone else and you feel like you’re the only one.

 

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