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

Random Listening

Happy new year to everyone. 2018 is here, so let the listening begin.

I started off my working day with Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Trilogy” album. I really dig the songs “You Don’t Remember (I’ll Never Forget)”, “Queen In Love”, “Magic Mirror”, “Fire” and the instrumentals “Crying” and Trilogy”. So many great riffs and leads in those songs. Hell chuck in “Liar” and “Fury”.

Actually does anyone remember the plane incident with Malmsteen where he said to the flight attendant they’ve unleased the fucking fury?

I am sure there is an internet meme out there.

When the U.S record labels went anti shred in the 90’s, the Japanese and South American markets kept his career going. But there is no denying his 80’s output and it’s a shame that a rumoured collaboration with Ronnie James Dio never happened. Actually not sure how true that was as it was in the rumors section of Metal Edge or Hot Metal.

Then I moved to “Trash” from Alice Cooper. It’s been a long time since I heard the full album from start to finish and man I still dig it. I know its commercial sounding and that Desmond Child is producing, but man, its chock full of good songs.

And it’s Alice Fucking Cooper singing. How can it not be good?

The real gems are “Spark In The Dark”, “This Maniac Is In Love With You”, “I’m Your Gun”, “Why Trust You” and “Trash”. They are Alice all the way and when you add the pop metal tunes in “Poison”, “House Of Fire”, “Only My Heart Talkin”, “Bed Of Nails” and “Hell Is Living Without You”, you get to understand why it the album was so popular and moved a lot of units around the world.

Afterwards, “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche got a listen. This is a monster concept album. It’s funny how Mustaine once called em “Yuppie metal” and at the same time Metallica put them as openers on their “Justice” U.S trek. Maybe having the same management team in Q Prime helped. But there is no denying the power of the album and the lyrical message.

“Revolution Calling”, “Operation Mindcrime”, “Speak”, “The Mission”, “Spreading The Disease”, “Suite Sister Mary”, The Needle Lies”, “Breaking The Silence”, “I Don’t Believe In Love” and “Eyes Of A Stranger” all have excellent guitar playing and the album gave me a tonne of great ideas and phrases to use as influences in my own song writing.

It was only ten past eleven (just before noon) and I clicked on Spotify’s recommendations. “Flesh and Blood” from Poison was recommended. Even though I listened to the vinyl a lot in the 90’s, I haven’t cranked it on Spotify at all.

It starts off with the pointless “Strange Days of Uncle Jack”, before it goes into “Valley Of Lost Souls”, which to me is one hell of good song and the best on the album. “(Flesh and Blood) Sacrifice” comes next and it’s a one-two knock-out punch. The pointless “Swampjuice” (Soul-O) is up before “Unskinny Bop” starts rolling. I know it was a single and one of their big songs, but I wasn’t really a fan.

“Let It Play” could have been on a John Cougar Mellencamp or Bryan Adams album while “Life Goes On” is a good power ballad and CC plays a tasty intro lead to the song and in the main lead section. “Come Hell or High Water” is another underrated tune in the vein of the Classic Rock of the 70’s that doesn’t get its dues.

“Ride The Wind” is another sleeper, while “Don’t Give Up An Inch” is a bit derivative of “Come Hell or High Water”. “Something To Believe In” copies the “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” country bluesy vibe, however this time, the piano is the main driver instead of the acoustic guitar.

“Ball And Chain” is unfinished. “Life Loves A Tragedy” is another sleeper song that deserves more attention. “Poor Boy Blues” sounds like a drunken 12 bar blues jam which ended up on the record.

“Blow My Fuse” from Kix was up next. Now this album is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative model”.

It starts off with “Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT” which sounds very familiar like something from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. “Get It While It’s Hot” is heavily influenced by “You Shook Me All Night Long” from AC/DC. Actually it’s very heavily, heavily influenced.

“No Ring Around Rosie” is a beefed up “La Grange” from ZZ Top in the verses. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is taking its cues from “Home Sweet Home” and “Dream On”. “She Dropped Me The Bomb” is again heavily influenced by AC/DC with a touch of The Who.  “Cold Blood” is a very similar to “Long Way To The Top” from AC/DC in the verses.

“Piece Of The Pie” is very heavily influenced by Aerosmith. “Boomerang” is influenced by Led Zeppelin. “Blow My Fuse” is such a good track where the influences are not as obvious as the other tracks. “Dirty Boys” is influenced by “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC.

Finally, Winger is up, with “Kip Winger” becoming a face on a dartboard when Metallica was recording the “Black” album. All in all, Winger (the band) was a powerful unit of brilliant musicians. If you purchased Winger for earth shattering lyrics, this wasn’t the band. But if you wanted to hear great music and good melodies and arena rock choruses, well you wouldn’t be disappointed.

The groovy “Can’t Get Enough” kicks off the album and it’s followed by “Loosen Up” which probably should have been lost from the album. When “Miles Away” came on, I wasn’t sure if it was Bad English or Def Leppard. It’s one of those slow tempo melodic rock songs. “Easy Come Easy Go” has a cool groove and I dig the horn section in the verses.

The next two songs are two of my favourite songs. “Rainbow In The Rose” is an interesting song, a cross between Toto and Journey. It’s very mature musically. “In The Day We’ll Never See” is another mature song and to be honest it’s a shame that these kinds of songs get lost behind the generic MTV songs that each band recorded.

There are a few misses and then the title track bookends the album, which again is another mature track lost behind the more commercial tunes.

I must say, not a bad day at work.

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

Forgotten 2

The Playlist

Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)
Twisted Sister

How fortunes change for artists?

Twisted Sister was the top band in 1984. Dee Snider was everywhere, on the cover of magazines, newspapers and even hosting a show on MTV that would go on to become “Headbangers Ball”. For a band that toughed it out for a decade, success came and went in half of that.

Who cares if “Love Is For Suckers” was meant to be a solo album?

Who cares if Mark Mendoza and Jay Jay French hate the album?

Who cares if studio musicians contributed to it?

It’s listed as a Twisted Sister album, it sounds like a Twisted Sister album and like all Twisted Sister albums, Dee is still the main songwriter and it should be given its dues as a Twisted Sister album. That means, playing the excellent “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” live.

Who the hell are they to say
What we can do and how we can play
We got the numbers, yeah,
We got the might
We got the strength and
We got the right
We got the reason, yeah,
We got the night
So wake up the sleeping giant

Dee was always good at writing the anthem of the SMF’s vs the world. “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” is no different. The WE in the song is the fans, the black sheep, the ones that everyone was calling devil worshippers in 1984.

It’s our rights they’re abusing,
It’s our right to fight back
So rally the troops and
Let’s start the attack

It’s the war cry against the censorship taking place against heavy metal and hard rock music. Freedom comes with a choice and sometimes, we sign away our freedom because we like to create an enemy, someone to blame when it all goes to hell.

It’s our boss’s fault because we are not making our mortgage repayments. If only we earned more.

It’s our leaders fault because we have our rights taken away a little bit at a time.

We like to have someone else in control.

Around the world, our internet is under attack from governments and corporations. They want to control it, regulate it and charge a premium for it. The Net Neutrality war is real and it’s happening and only a handful of people are speaking up against it. The rest are ignorant.

Snider’s message is good. It’s right, but the SMF misfits had grown older and they had responsibilities. Rising up against the institutions wasn’t their mission anymore. It changed to performing duties and keeping a roof over their head or their own families head.

The more metal inclined fans of Twisted Sister moved their loyalties to the thrash and metal movements and the more pop rock casual fans moved their loyalty to Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Whitesnake’s 1987 release. And in that climate, the album couldn’t compete.

Magic Touch
Aerosmith

With “Dude Looks Like A Lady”, “Rag Doll” and “Angel” taking all the attention, this little classic had no chance. Which is a shame, as the song is up there when it comes to Aerosmith. It’s got the classic bluesy groove the band is well-known for and a wickedly good vocal melody. Plus Joey Kramer sounds louder than hell on the drums.

It’s written by Tyler, Perry and Jim Vallance (yep, that same Jim Vallance who co-wrote “War Machine” with Bryan Adams, plus the majority of Bryan Adams catalogue).

Don’t need no wedding with a shotgun, shotgun

Ahh, the problem with the male species is our basic load control. An innocent moment of explosion and that accidental shotgun wedding might be very real. Then again, that’s how it was in the past. In today’s age not so much.

Dancing On Glass
Motley Crue

Man, that riff from Mick Mars, is sleazy and dangerous. You can safely call “Dancing On Glass” the prequel to “The Heroin Diaries”.

In 1987, Nikki was asking if he is in Persia or just insane. In 2005, Nikki via Sixx A.M was reminiscing about how a girl with golden eyes talks to him in Persian, telling Nikki, she loves him.

There are plenty of other auto biographical lines about Sixx’s drug life.

“Valentines in London, found me in the trash”
“One extra push, last trip to the top”
“Silver Spoon and needle, witchy tombstone smile
“I’m no puppet, I engrave my veins in style”

“Wild Side” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” sold the album but to me, the third track is just as good.

Breakin’ All The Rules
Ozzy Osbourne

I know there was a film clip for it and it was a single, but “Miracle Man” was that strong and Ozzy’s earlier catalogue was still selling well, “Breakin’ All the Rules” was just ignored.

But what a riff to kick it off, under a rumbling Randy Castillo groove.

Nobody thinks the way I do
I guess that nobody dares

I read an article about a computer scientist guy who took all the google searches people make and found that we basically lie when it comes to everything public. The only place we don’t lie is within our Google searches because we believe we are alone and they are private. And Google Searches show what we really think and really like. And guess what, Google sells this data to marketeers.

And I know
That you would love to know the answers
But to you
The truth is just another lie

Some people don’t care about reason or a different point of view. With Ozzy being the whipping boy for all the religious institutions, you can see where Bob Daisley was going with the lyric. Funny how the religious entities classed Ozzy as satanic when his whole house is littered with crucifixes.

Rising Power
AC/DC

It’s a solid album, coming out after the holy trinity of albums, their U.S breakthrough “Highway To Hell” in 1979, the mega selling “Back In Black” from 1980 and it’s 1981 successor “For Those About To Rock”. Some personnel changes happened as well. Simon Wright is in the drummers’ chair, replacing Phil Rudd. The producer of their holy trinity albums, Mutt Lange was also out. Their manager Peter Mensch was also out.

Angus and Malcolm stepped up to give the world a live and raw version of AC/DC and the result is a lot of groove and swagger but no classics.

My body’s blown a fuse
Rising power
We’ll raise the night
Rising power

Rise/Rising = hard on. Blow a fuse = climax. Johnson is rolling out the metaphors.

Rocket Queen
Guns N Roses

The closing track to the epic “Appetite For Destruction” album. It was never a single, but the audience knows the lyrics. It’s just one of those songs on an album full of audience classics.

I’ve got a tongue like a razor
A sweet switchblade knife
And I can do you favors
But then you’ll do whatever I like

Ahh, yes, Axl and his tongue… Guess someone is going down.

Here I am
And you’re a Rocket Queen

The opening lines of the Chorus. Every Gunner’s fan knows it.

I’ve seen everything imaginable
Pass before these eyes
I’ve had everything that’s tangible
Honey you’d be surprised

The rock and roll debauchery and decadence summed up in four lines.

And then that outro. It’s basically another song within a song. First the power chords and then the open E and B string arpeggios over shifting notes on the G string, mapping out the E major scale.

I see you standing
Standing on your own
It’s such a lonely place for you
For you to be
If you need a shoulder
Or if you need a friend
I’ll be here standing
Until the bitter end

You think you have friends and lovers when you’re a star and then when the lights go away, who is left.

Or think I, I mean you harm
Of those that take you
Leave you strung out
Much too far

Law enforcement efforts to stop cocaine and heroin increased the narcotic production ten-fold. The use of narcotics today is high and the war against drugs is 50 plus years old. And it’s the vulnerable/lonely people who turn to it. And the most vulnerable are our heroes, on the road, playing theaters or arenas and surrounded by people who profit from them.

Good Enough
Get Up

Van Halen

Any album (especially a Van Halen album) that kicks off with “Hello Baby”, you know you’re in for a ride. In “Good Enough” Sammy Hagar compares a great looking woman to a premium cut of beef. I’ll have another cut please.

Wow, U.S. Prime, grade A stamped guaranteed
Grease it up and turn on the heat
You gotta throw it down and roll it over once, maybe twice
Then chow down, down, down, down

“Get Up” is basically a speed rock song. And EVH breaks out some excellent riffage in this one as well.

Feel like throwin’ in the towel?
Don’t be a fool
They’re out to knock you out
And put you down for the count

I feel like throwing in the towel a lot of times. Some days feel like a battle against the forces of society. Making people believe that working hard and paying things off will get you freedom is a dream promoted by the banking sector and the 1% that control it.

Ah, there’s still some fight in me
That’s how it’ll always be
Hold your head up high, look ’em in the eye
Never say die

It’s the human spirit. Never say die, never give up. The thing with “5150” is the pop rock songs got so much attention. I’ll be honest, all of the pop songs are excellent, however it was a shame the real heavy rock songs like “Good Enough” and “Get Up” got lost in the noise.

Blindman
Aint Gonna Cry No More
Looking For Love
You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again

Whitesnake

Coming into 1980, Whitesnake was putting out an album a year and touring consistently. Then the Martin Birch produced “Ready an’ Willing” dropped, launching the song “Fool For Your Loving”, a piece written by Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and David Coverdale.

To me, “Ready an’ Willing” is the album that started Whitesnake’s rise which culminated in the 1987 self-titled album selling millions around the world.

My two favourites are “Blindman” (which is a derivative version of the Coverdale/Blackmore penned “Soldier Of Fortune”) and the very Led Zeppelin sounding, “Aint Gonna Cry No More”. Those songs also nail it lyrically for me. Talk about completely forgotten, no one under forty would know these songs.

“Chasing rainbows that have no end, The road is long without a friend….” from BLINDMAN
“Like a Blindman, I can feel the heat of the sun, But like a Blindman, I don’t know where it’s coming from…” from BLINDMAN

“Aint Gonna Cry No More” is White Led Zep Styx Snake and I swear Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades built Damn Yankees on the backs of songs like these. Influences aside, it’s a track that’s good enough to stand on its own

“Memories of broken dreams, As distant as the sun, Are drifting like an echo in the wind….” from AIN’T GONNA CRY NO MORE

Then fast forward to 1987 and two of the best tracks didn’t end up on the normal world-wide release.

I didn’t hear “Looking For Love” until many years later. It’s better than “Is This Love” however at over 6 minutes long, it wasn’t a commercially viable song. David Coverdale was shocked when he heard that John Kalodner would be cutting the song from the final album release.

The candle is burning, it’s way down low
I just need someone
To show me the way, the way to go
Which way to go

Isn’t life like that. We are always looking for some guidance. That’s why tarot card readers, astrologists, clairvoyants, psychologists have a career.

“You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”, “Don’t Break My Heart Again”. David Coverdale was the master song title re-user.

How huge is the riff in “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”.

Sykes goes to town on this song, a derivative version of “Children Of The Night”. It’s got all of his uniqueness in it, from fast palm muted staccato runs, a shredelicious and melodic lead and to using thirds and minor chord inversions instead of the standard power chords.

Perfect Timing
Knucklebones

David Lee Roth

“Perfect Timing” is written by David Lee Roth and keyboardist Brett Tuggle, so it’s got that melodic rock vibe happening.

I’m thinkin’ this is the right time
I’m hoping you feel the same
‘Cause that light at the end of the tunnel
Is the front of an oncoming train

It had to be David Lee Roth that linked love to standing on the train line in front of an oncoming train. Then again, he always had a way with words.

“Knucklebones” is written by Gregg and Matt Bissonette along with David Lee Roth.

So we’re hittin’ the road
And we’re pumpin’ thunder
Mama look out for down below
Get the show on the road
It’s the feeling we’re under
You can feel it right down to your knucklebones

One of a million songs about the rock and roll show.

One of these dark nights, as the saying goes
There’s some dirty work
To be done down by the crossroads
And I know it’s true

Always love a supernatural tale at the crossroads. There’s some dirty work to be done.

Livin’ For The Minute
Poison

It wasn’t even on the album. A B-side on the “Nothin’ But A Good Time” 7 inch single.

“Open Up and Say…Ahh!” was huge for Poison. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, “Nothin’ but a Good Time” and “Fallen Angel” took all the glory. Hell, even a cover of “Your Mama Don’t Dance” charted okay. But “Livin’ For The Minute” is just perfect.

Magazine covers always shootin’ poor Billy’s face
He kept a score of his ladies chalked up on his guitar case
He was a bad-ass rockin’, baby, always rollin’ out the sounds
Like some freight train come and did a six-string strut and just tore the damn place to the ground

It’s a character driven story about a guitar slinger called Billy, who kept a groupie monument in his guitar case and man, he could play. Sort of like Johnny. There is no doubt the song is influenced by “Johnny Be Goode” in the lyrical department. Quick! Call the lawyers.

Slave To Love
Quiet Riot

A great piece of melodic pop rock, however like many other bands that broke through in 1983/84, by 86/87 they became old news. Forgotten.

We made a slave to love
That’s what I’ll always be
A victim of your touch
You stole my soul and now I’m just a slave to love, yeah

DuBrow was never known as a great lyricist and I suppose that became his downfall. There are only so much clichéd and generic rhymes a fan could take. But for some reason AC/DC seemed to get away with it.

All The Fools Sailed Away
Dio

Music is written by Dio and Goldy, while lyrics are all done by Dio.

What can I say about this song that I haven’t said before about classic Dio songs?

The drumming is epic, great vocal melodies, great movements between loud and soft and when the chorus comes in with the backing vocals, it’s time to sing along.

There’s perfect harmony
In the rising and the falling of the sea
And as we sail along
I never fail to be astounded by
The things we’ll do for promises

If our ancestors never set sail to find new lands, who knows what the world would be like. Our sense of adventure is the backbone of the human psyche.

We are the innocent
We are the damned
We were caught in the middle of the madness
Hunted by the lion and the lamb

Society is founded on the persecution of races. And as we get more advanced, persecution exists between the haves and the have-nots. The divide is only getting bigger.

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Sailed away

People need to move and find new lands/cities to thrive and survive.

They say you’re beautiful
And they’ll always let you in
But doors are never open
To the child without a trace of sin

I watched “Split” recently and the James McEvoy split personality character wouldn’t kill a person that was as beautiful as him (which meant scarred from some past abuse). And I suppose sin is what makes us who we are. How can we learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of others if we don’t make them or don’t believe we make them?

Stand Up And Fight
Fantasy

M.A.R.S

Putting this band, supergroup, one-off project together proved to be one of the best decisions ever made by Shrapnel Records supremo Mike Varney.

You have hotshot newcomer Tony MacAlpine on guitars. Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge are on bass/drums. Another newcomer in Rob Rock is on vocals. The potential is unlimited. The melodic rock is amped up to 11. Yeah, the lyrics are clichéd and some of the melodies and rhymes are overused, however don’t let that get in the way of a good listen.

The big X-factor, star quarterback, star centre forward is Tony MacAlpine. He’s a virtuoso keyboardist and guitarist all rolled into one. He churns out brilliant riff after brilliant riff. Craig Goldy was their original guitarist, but he left to join Dio and I think Tony MacAlpine had a better and more creative musical career than Goldy.

Isn’t it funny how a no-brainer decision in the past, in hindsight maybe didn’t pan out to be such a great decision?

“Stand up and fight for your rights, stand up and be free”

Prisoner
Dokken

From the excellent “Back For The Attack” album and it’s sequenced straight after “Kiss Of Death”. And it works. The basic Am to F to G chords underpin the song, while the double stop bends in the intro lead make it sound unique.

Then it slows down in the verse, only to build it all back up to the arena rock chorus. A great piece of song writing.

“I’m a prisoner chained by love”

Long Cold Winter
Cinderella

Blues music is simple however to make it sound simple is a challenge. In this case, Keifer and Co. show the hard rock MTV world how to play the blues and they make it sound simple.

“A long cold winter without your love”

Winds Of Change
Y&T

1981’s “Earthshaker” started Y&T’s rebirth. “Black Tiger” released in 1982 would enhance and refine their signature sound. The album was recorded in England and produced by Max Norman. At that time, he had just finished working with Randy Rhoads on two career defining albums, so he knew how to work with excellent Californian guitarists.

Winds of change
Blowing strongly

The song has this “Kings and Queens” Aerosmith vibe. I dig it.

Far From Over
Frank Stallone

Sly Stallone’s nepotism to family members is evident here. His brother Frank is singing one of the signature songs from the “Staying Alive” movie, which is the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever”.

I dig this song a lot. It’s written by Frank Stallone and Vince DiCola.

I’m diggin’ in,
I want it more than anything I’ve wanted

How bad do you want it and how far are you prepared to go to sacrifice to get it.

I am down but I am far from over

An unwritten rule of life.

On The Line
Tangier

After doing the Philadelphia scene for 5 plus years, the band finally got a chance to showcase for a few labels. ATCO head, Derek Schulman was successful in getting their signature and he got producer Andy Johns from Led Zeppelin fame on board for “Four Winds.”

“On The Line” has a good feel and groove, but man the lyrics about a stranger waiting in the alley way to take your life just don’t do it for me. Only Dee Snider could get away with lyrics like that.

Free’N’Easy
Devils Toy

The Almighty

Ricky Warwick is known today as the lead singer/guitarist for “Black Star Riders” but back in the 80’s/90’s he had a pretty cool band called “The Almighty”.

They were signed by Polydor in March 1989 and recorded their first album, “Blood, Fire and Love” the same year. These songs are from their second album “Soul Destruction” which was released in March 1991. I know I cheated by chucking these ones in the list.

“Everything is so Free ‘N’ Easy”

The modern-day slogan.

Love, only love,
Love is the devils toy

Yes, something so pleasurable has to be evil.

Driving Wheels
Last Frontier
Too Much Ain’t Enough Love
Walk On

Jimmy Barnes

I bet a lot of Journey fans would have no idea the influence of the Journey songwriters on this album. “Freight Train Heart” is the third studio album by Australian rock singer Jimmy Barnes.

“Driving Wheels” is written by Barnes, Jonathan Cain and David Roberts. Yep, the same David Roberts who wrote songs for Bad English, Lee Aaron, House of Lords, Signal and Starship.

“Too Much Aint Enough Love” is written by Barnes, Cain, Neal Schon, Randy Jackson (bass player and recently known for his work on American Idol) and Tony Brock (drummer for The Babys and Jimmy Barnes).

“Do or Die” and “Last Frontier” are written by Barnes and Cain.

“I Wanna Get Started with You” is written by Barnes, Cain and Schon.

“I’m Still on Your Side” is written by Barnes, Cain and Jim Vallance. Yep the same Jim Vallance from Aerosmith and Bryan Adams fame.

“Lessons in Love” is written by Barnes, Vallance, Cain and Jeff Neill (Canadian guitarist who had success with Shama and Streetheart. He toured with Jimmy Barnes before dedicating his time to song writing and producing.

“Waitin’ for the Heartache” is written by Barnes and Desmond Child. Yep the same Desmond from Kiss, Jovi and Aerosmith fame.

“Walk On” is written by Desmond Child and Joe Lynn Turner. Yep the same Joe Lynn Turner from Rainbow fame. The track also appears on a Sunstorm album from 2009.

“Seven Days” is a track Bob Dylan wrote for Ronnie Wood.

Jonathan Cain was on hand to produce, however due to interference from Geffen Records and Cain’s creative vision being different to Barnsey’s vision, the album production was brought back to Australia, with Mick Stone producing and a supergroup of musicians playing on it.

It’s the rhythm of the highway
As he rolls on down
And city lights as they fade from sight
Drives the man behind the driving wheels

Truckie lifestyle, hell in the modern world it’s the morning two-hour commute to work for a lot of people.

Well he’s thought about settling down
A little diner on the edge of town
But in this world of push and shove
He’s still got freedom in his blood

The corporations, the banking industry and our leaders don’t like people like this. Hard to control and bring into the system.

The below is from “The Last Frontier”.

The lawless and the brave, searching for a dream
When all they found was sand and stone
Where rivers once had been

Australia was populated by the convicts and the ones who had dreams of a better life outside of the UK.

And suffered in a sunburnt land
Down in the last frontier

Australia is known as the sunburnt land.

And they sent them to another land
Into the greatest fear
To fight and die for freedoms cry
And for the last frontier

The U.K goes to war and their front lines are made up of soldiers from their colonies.

You Won’t See Me Cry
Signal

And if my world should end tonight
When you walk out of my life
You won’t see me cry

And that’s the end of another Forgotten playlist from the 80’s with an exception for “The Almighty” who even though the album was released in 91, it feels like it was heard in the 80’s.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Be Influenced. It’s Okay.

Screw all the heirs of dead artists and their lawyers who believe that the music their ancestors created was so original and free from influence. Here is a quick list that I compiled off the top of my head from some large songs and all the artists they borrowed from or got influenced from had successful careers without a plagiarism court case.

Metallica – Fade to Black (1984)
A fan made music video on YouTube has 32,538,942 views, while a fan posted mp3 has 44,032,321 views. In other words it’s a monster of a song. But where did this monster come from.

The intro is influenced by the intro in Pink Floyd – “Goodbye Blue Sky” from 1979. The start of the outro when James is singing is influenced by the intro from Black Sabbath – “A National Acrobat” from 1973. And the song still sounds original.

Poison – Unskinny Bop (1991)
The song has over 7 million streams on Spotify.

The guitar riff is influenced by the intro guitar riff in Billy Squier – “Powerhouse” from 1986. The bass lines are very similar to the bass line from 45 seconds onwards in Great White – “Mista Bone” from 1989. Then again, that running bass line is pretty common in most songs. You hear it in “Disturb The Priest” from Black Gillian’s album “Born Again”. And the song still sounds original.

Gotye – Somebody I Used To Know (2011)
Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” has close to 400 million streams on Spotify. It’s popular and catchy and it borrowed heavily from other songs. The music and vocal melodies are from the verse riff in Billy Squier – “Reach For The Sky” from 1984 and the verse riff from The Police – “King Of Pain” from 1983. And the Gotye song still sounds original.

Motley Crue – SEX (2012)
Motley Crue’s “SEX” borrowed its main riff from “Evie” (1974) by Stevie Wright (which has 1,037,491 streams on Spotify). “Evie” is also similar to “Mississippi Woman” by Mountain (almost 23,000,000 streams on Spotify), which is also similar to “Sweeter Than Honey” by Jefferson Starship (1975) and “Train” by 3 Doors Down borrows from all of them.

And all of the songs still sound unique and original, regardless of the obvious influences.

Bullet For My Valentine – “Waking The Demon” (2008)
“Waking The Demon” borrowed its main intro riff from the intro/verse riff in Slayer’s “Spirit In Black” released in 1990 on the “Seasons In the Abyss” album.

On Bullets Vevo account, “Waking The Demon” has 48 million views, while “Spirit In Black” has 96,000 views on a fan YouTube account and 462,000 views on another fan YouTube account. Be influenced and make it better.

One Song To Inspire Them All
That goes to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. For a band that used the music of other artists to build a career, they ended up creating a definitive song that a lot of other bands would use as a template to build their career on.

  •  Kingdom Come – “Get In On” verse riff is similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Megadeth – “In My Darkest Hour” verse riff is similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Whitesnake – “Judgement Day” verse riff similar to Led Zeppelin – Kashmir.
  • Coheed and Cambria – “Welcome Home” verse riff similar to Led Zeppelin Kashmir.

A live version of Kashmir on the Led Zeppelin YouTube account has 28 million views and an mp3 on a fan YouTube account has 19 million views.

And yet all of the above mentioned songs still sound unique. If you delve into the origins of each song, you will see some influences or borrowing from other songs and the cycle just keeps on going. So here’s a big “up yours” to the all of those people who scream plagiarism in music.

Click the link to listen to the Progress Is Derivative 1 playlist.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Tom Werman

I have read a few rock bio’s and man, these rock stars go to town on the producers that were involved with their hit albums. Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater goes to town on Dave Prater who produced “Images and Words” which to this day, is Dream Theater’s most successful album. Dee Snider and Nikki Sixx go to town on Tom Werman, who for Twisted Sister was involved in “Stay Hungry” and for Motley Crue, he was involved in “Shout At The Devil”, “Theatre Of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

Let’s look at Tom Werman. The facts are out there. Most of the bands that he produced, achieved great commercial success. The majority of these successes happened during the heyday of hard rock music on MTV and when the recording industry abandoned hard rock acts to chase alternative grunge acts, Werman was part of the collateral damage.

Which is a shame as Werman is a rarity.

He forged a successful career as a heavy metal and hard rock producer because he was able to identify and feature the pop elements in the music of the bands that he was producing. Coming from an A&R background his whole set up was to get the band onto radio. He knew the game. If a band he worked with could get a hit single, it would translate into sales of millions of albums.

He also was a producer that didn’t really have an engineering background like Ron Nevison, Andy Johns, Jack Douglas, Bob Rock and so forth which freed him up to focus on other tasks like refining the songs and getting the artists to decorate the songs accordingly. To be a Producer is a tough gig. You are there to realise the bands musical vision. The producer is basically a hired independent consultant, paid by the band through a label advance and the band is perfectly free to replace the producer at any time, which is why the stories against Werman lack authenticity.

Werman is probably best known these days for producing Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” (4x Platinum by 1997), “Theatre of Pain” (4x Platinum by 1995) and the “Girls, Girls, Girls” (4x Platinum by 1995) albums. Werman has gone on record to claim that Nikki Sixx was a friend until he revised history and created a work of total fiction in the “Heroin Diaries” book. John Corabi even questioned the authenticity of “The Heroin Diaries” along with Dee Snider.

However, Werman worked on other projects as well.

“Tooth N Nail” was released on 1984 and the album reached PLATINUM status in the U.S in 1989, after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album along with MTV, got people interested in Dokken’s back catalogue. Tom Werman produced the “make or break” album and according to Don Dokken, Werman, almost came to blows with George Lynch during the recording. It got that bad, that at one stage, Lynch said to Werman that he will kill him. The issue arose when Werman asked Lynch to play a more substantive lead break for a particular song, which Lynch objected to.

Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” came out in 1984. In that same year the album went GOLD and then PLATINUM. Twisted Sister was everywhere, largely thanks to their clips doing the constant rotation on MTV. Dee Snider was a star who was also everywhere. Finally after paying his dues for 10 years, he was in the mainstream. By March, 1985, the album achieved 2 x PLATINUM status March 19, 1985. Then 10 years later, in November, 1995, the album achieved 3 x PLATINUM status.

Werman has stated in interviews that he feels that Dee Snider was unable to share credit for a hugely successful LP hence that is the reason why Snider has spoken negatively about Werman.

Snider has a different view. In his book “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic”, Snider goes into detail about his relationship with Werman.

First, Werman wasn’t their choice at all for producer. He was pushed onto them by Atlantic Records.

Second, in a meeting, Werman was asked a question by Snider that if Werman was to put his A&R hat on, would he had signed Twisted Sister. Werman answered NO.

Then there are further stories on the recording process and how Dee Snider had a routine to write songs for the next album, while the current album was getting mixed and finalised. However this didn’t pan out because Mark Mendoza who normally handled all of the production and sound duties refused to get involved due to friction with Werman which then left Snider to deal with it, which in turn meant, no new songs got written.

A point to note about Werman is that while he was at Epic Records his specific job was to get the bands on the radio. In order to get bands onto the radio, they needed to have singles. That is why Doug Morris (while he was president of Atlantic Records) called Werman to make a hit with Twisted Sister. That is why Doug Morris refused to hear Snider’s pleas to remove him. A general rule of thumb for Werman was to ensure that each record had at least two “singles” as he knew that hit singles would sell several million albums.

Kix released their self-titled debut album in 1981 and it wasn’t until their fourth studio album “Blow My Fuse” released on September 12, 1988 that they broke through.

By November 2, 1988, seven weeks later, the album was certified GOLD by the RIAA. In May 1989, the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was released and by February 5, 1990, eight months later, the single was certified GOLD by the RIAA. Finally, on August 28, 2000, the “Blow My Fuse” album was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. Yep, that is almost 12 years from when it was released. Don Purnell of Kix (who was the main songwriter) distrusted Werman, however as others have mentioned, that was who Purnell generally was.

For Kix the success of “Blow My Fuse” came from a change to Tom Werman, a change to a better and aggressive manager in Mark Puma who got Atlantic to get behind the record and promote it, a natural progressing in the songwriting department and perfect timing.

Poison’s “Open Up and Say Ahh..” was supposed to be produced by Paul Stanley however due to schedule conflicts, Stanley was unavailable and Tom Werman was in. Keeping with Werman’s credo ensuring that each album he works on will have at least two hit singles, “Open Up And Say Ahh…” had three. “Nothin’ but a Good Time” is still a party anthem decades after its release, “Fallen Angel” is the clichéd moving to the big city to chase your dreams and the timeless classic “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.

The album sold over 5 million copies in the U.S and Werman has stated that it was not an easy record to make. According to Werman in an interview with the Legendary Rock website, “Bobby was the brains behind Poison, while Brett was the single most important individual in the band. CC did give the band its personality and its sound, but was so distracted by the recreational side of rock that he didn’t realize his potential. He was a lovable guy, but suggesting musical directions and recording his leads were formidable tasks.

Other albums that Werman worked on during the eighties are LA Guns “Cocked and Loaded” (their most successful), Junkyard’s self-titled debut (a cult classic), Love/Hate “Blackout In The Red Room” (should have been more successful), Babylon A.D “Nothing Sacred” (a very underrated album that deserved more attention), Steelheart “Tangled In Reins” (a solid follow-up that did well just before the Grunge movement), Lita Ford “Dangerous Curves” (she was on a downward career trajectory) and Stryper “Against The Law” (their least successful in sales however the album is chock full of fan favourites and live staples).

In the end his hit ratio was on average 1 out 3. Which means that one album out of three reached at least a GOLD status in the U.S. That is a respectable stat and if there is a history of Glam / Hard Rock, Tom Werman will and should be part of it.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Who Is the Real Star? The Band Name or the Personnel In The Band

There is an article doing the rounds at the Hollywood Reporter about how “The Walking Dead” is TV’s number 1 show and that the stars of the show are still largely unknown.

So it got me thinking. I was very interested to check out the show based on my love of the Horror genre. Once I checked it out, I was hooked. I didn’t start watching the show because they had certain actors in it. The only actor I was aware of was Daryl’s brother and that was from the movie Cliffhanger with Stallone and that was after watching a few episodes. So I got into the show because i was a fan of the horror genre.

However I got into “Sons Of Anarchy” because hard-core friends eventually got me to invest some time in it.

The point I am trying to make is that we get into certain TV shows, movies or artists based on a thousand different reasons. One thing is clear; we don’t get into these cultural icons because of the people in them.

For example, when Metallica started on the scene, no one was walking around saying that they got into Metallica because James Hetfield was such a cool cat or Lars Ulrich was the man. We got into Metallica for multiple reasons. For example, we were fans of the metal genre, the songs connected with us; we wanted to be part of the conversation and so on. From the outset, we become fans because of the music we hear.

That is what culture is all about. Sharing stories about the things we love.

Of course some outliers do exist and some artists have a cultural influence that transcends their music. They become institutions themselves. For example, Slash is now a cultural institution. Ozzy Osbourne is a cultural institution albeit with a lot of help from his “friends”. Nikki Sixx is a cultural institution. Robb Flynn is a cultural institution. Dee Snider is a cultural icon. These artists can all survive on their own. They are brand names themselves.

It’s taken Slash almost 14 years from when he left Gunners to re-establish and re-brand himself as a force to be reckoned with. That happened in 2010 with the release of his solo album and with a little help from his friends.

Randy Rhoads and Bob Daisley helped Ozzy Osbourne break the shackles of Black Sabbath. Jake E. Lee and Phil Soussan enhanced what Randy Rhoads and Bod Daisley created. Zakk Wylde turned it all into a blockbuster with “No More Tears” being the pinnacle.

Nikki Sixx re-invented himself and Motley Crue by first gaining control of Motley Crue’s back catalogue from Elektra Records. A task that no other artist had accomplished before. Then he pushed for the writing of “The Dirt”. Since then, he has become a solo artist with Sixx AM, a song writer for other artists, a social media junkie, a photographer, a literary writer and a radio personality.

Robb Flynn showed the world that he can survive. He really went out of his comfort zone recently and performed acoustically. He survived the “Through The Ashes of Empires” era and lived to tell the tale. Talk about Grit and Roll. It was music all the way, with no safety net. No plan B. His Journals are pure gold. Even if you don’t like Machine Head’s music, you can still appreciate the Journal Ramblings. For any artist starting off, there is information in there that is real. There is information there that is not sugar-coated by a mainstream writer.

Dee Snider, what else can be said. Read his bio.

These artists have all connected with us on different levels. They have become so large in people’s lives that they have become cultural institutions themselves. We then stick with these institutions through the good times and the bad times.

So what about all the other artists. Well for the remainder of the artists it is still about the music. They need to have the music pumping out and they need to make connections.

Dee Snider once said that there are no more rock stars in this day and age. I took that to mean, that in the internet age, there are no real recognizable faces to put to certain bands. While I agree with that comment in parts, I also disagree with it.

For example, Coheed and Cambria has Claudio Sanchez. Watch them live and you get to see the hair. Instantly recognizable.

Five Finger Death Punch has Zoltan Bathory with the dreadlocks and the UFC/mixed martial arts look. They have Ivan Moody and the Mohawk.

Shinedown has Brent Smith, who performs like an adrenaline injected Steve Tyler.

Black Veil Brides have, well they have the whole band.

Avenged Sevenfold have Eighties rock star stage names with instantly recognisable faces.

However if any of the band members in the above mentioned bands, decide to go on their own, it will be a tough slog for them as the bands they are in have all become cultural institutions. Then you have a band like Protest The Hero who look like normal guys going to University.

So going back to “The Walking Dead”. The show is the rock star. That is the cultural institution.

So for any wannabe rock stars, think about all of the above for a second. No one is going to wake up tomorrow morning and think to themselves, “damn, I want to hear some music from Zoltan Bathory, or “Insert New Artist name here””.

We wake up in the morning and think to ourselves, “damn, we want to hear some Five Finger Death Punch. We wake up and go “damn its “The Walking Dead” tonight.”

That is what a lot of misguided artists fail to grasp when they leave a certain cultural institution citing musical differences. They (meaning the person) were never the stars. The band name is the star and it always will be.

That is why Guns N Roses is still rolling along, playing to large audiences.

That is why Tommy Lee returned to Motley Crue.

That is why James Hetfield returned to Metallica after rehab. That is why Lars Ulrich never contemplated anything else except Metallica during this period.

That is why Dave Mustaine resurrected Megadeth after he disbanded the band.

That is why Dimebag didn’t want Pantera to end. He knew that Pantera was the star.

That is why David Lee Roth worked with Van Halen again. That is why Sammy Hagar wants to work with Van Halen again.

That is why Alex Skolnick returned to Testament.

That is why there is a fight over who owns the right to the Queensryche name.

That is why Benjamin Burnley went all legal for the right to use the Breaking Benjamin name.

That is why Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to Iron Maiden.

That is why Rob Halford returned to Judas Priest.

That is why Black Sabbath reformed with three of the original members and released ’13’.

That is why bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Poison and Skid Row are still continuing.

That is why Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax and why Scott Ian is still continuing the band.

That is why Slayer is continuing without Jeff Hanneman.

To finish off with the immortal words of Ronnie James Dio “And on and on and on and on it goes….”

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Piracy Was Rampant Even In The Eighties

Back in the Eighties, piracy was rampant. Most of my music collection during that period was made up of music taped onto blank cassettes. My “wealthier” older cousin in Sydney always seemed to have his finger on the pulse on the latest releases and every time I visited, I was armed with blank cassettes and proceeded to copy (download) albums that he recommended to me. There was also another shadier character locally that used to sell dubbed cassettes from 50 cents to $1 dollar. He then used the money obtained from his buyers to purchase more albums that he would sell to us on dubbed cassettes.

I was not alone in doing this, nor was I the first. Most of the music from the seventies that was passed down to me by my brothers was in the same format (blank cassettes that got filled with music).

So what did my brothers do in the Eighties, when they were old enough and had their own incomes. They started purchasing the music they listened to in the seventies. It worked like this; for example, they would purchase “Destroyer” from Kiss on LP or CD and once they did that I would get the cassette copied version that they had.

Another interesting thing in the Seventies was that while we all lived together, we only needed one version of the album to listen to the music. So what happens when family members move out. One brother purchases the album, the other brother purchases the album and then I need to purchase the album and so on. You can see the exponential growth here when children grow up and move out.

So what did I do in the Nineties, when I had more cash at hand. I purchased every album I had on dubbed cassettes on CD. I re-purchased every LP I had on CD. I went to second hand record shops and purchased LP’s from the Eighties and Seventies very cheap. If I found a real gem in those purchases, I then purchased that album on CD.

I went to the Record Fairs and Collector Fairs that started to gain traction during this period. Again, I purchased a lot of LP’s very cheap at those Fairs. I saw it as a try before you buy. If I found a real gem, I then purchased that album on CD.

I was not the only one that did the above. Based on sales figures during this period, the Record Labels had their largest ever profits to date. Everything that came after 1999 has been linked back to the unbelievable profits the record labels made during 1998 and 1999.

In the end, did all the piracy from the Seventies and Eighties hurt any of the bands that I supported. These are the bands that where pirated heavily on cassettes (from a list of the shady dealer selling them for 50 cents to $1 dollar);

Motley Crue
Bon Jovi
Iron Maiden
Metallica
Megadeth
Guns N Roses
Van Halen
David Lee Roth
Poison
Warrant
Skid Row
Twisted Sister
Kiss
Dio
Europe
Def Leppard
Dokken
Whitesnake
Judas Priest
Yngwie Malmsteen
Night Ranger
Queensryche
Ozzy Osbourne
Rush
Savatage
Stryper
Scorpions
WASP
Y&T
White Lion
Fastway
Joe Satriani
Loverboy
Meatloaf
Queen
Slayer
Survivor
UFO
Michael Schenker
Quiet Riot
Black Sabbath
Rainbow
Deep Purple
Anthrax
Motorhead

The answer is a resounding NO. All of those bands mentioned above are still around today in some form or another. All of those bands are part of pop culture in some form or another. They still have a loyal cult following and that cult following happened because of piracy.

If it wasn’t for cassette piracy, I never would have heard the full length albums of bands that did the rounds on MTV. I never would have heard “Master Of Puppets” from Metallica (I know own “Master Of Puppets” on CD, mp3 and LP).

The real hurter of bands was the Record Label. It was never piracy. Due to the labels having all the power in breaking a band, plus having all the control over the distribution, they would offer bands an unfair deal that stacked the deck in the Record Labels favour. For any musician that wanted their music exposed to a greater audience, it was the only option they had.

A lot of studies have come out stating that “pirates actually purchase the most.” I know it is a cliché statement at the moment however back in the Eighties I went to an Iron Maiden concert without actually owning an original copy of any of their albums. I went to a Megadeth concert without owning an original copy of their albums. The same with Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, Guns N Roses and Stryper.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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