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

The Force Is Strong In The Kashmir Effect

Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” is the type of song that is so good, that it has become part of pop culture. The song was released in 1975 on the “Physical Graffiti” album.

Even “Kashmir” is a result of Jimmy Page creating derivative versions of previous ideas and songs. The first thing is the CIA tuning that Jimmy Page first employed with “The Yardbirds”. CIA stands for Celtic-Indian-Arabic and the exact tuning is known as DADGAD, a tuning that Davy Graham used for his 1963 rendition of an old Irish folk song “She Moved Through The Fair” which in turn saw Jimmy Page come along and derive a new song called “White Summer”, and another derivative version called “Black Mountain Side”.

If you don’t know who Davy Graham is, go to YouTube right now and type in “Anji” and prepare to be mesmerized. For all the music geeks out there, check out one of the riffs from “Anji” (that comes in at about the 14 second mark) and then go and listen to Queens Of The Stone Age song “No One Knows”. Hear the riff. While “Anji” wallows in internet obscurity, “No One Knows” has 17,883,776 views on the Queens Of The Stone Age Vevo account.

“Black Mountain Side” was recorded in October 1968 and released in January 1969 on the first Led Zeppelin album. It is credited to Jimmy Page as a writer, however the guitar arrangement closely follows Bert Jansch’s version of “She Moved Through the Fair”, recorded on his 1966 album “Jack Orion” which more or less was a cover of Davy Graham’s 1963 version.

All of these songs are in the same DADGAD tuning that was used for “Kashmir”. I am not saying that these songs sound similar to “Kashmir” however these songs needed to be jammed on, so that Jimmy Page could get used to the DADGAD tuning. You see great songs don’t happen overnight or by a committee. They happen by derivative jamming and by derivative accidents.

If there was any doubt about the power of “Kashmir”, then look no further than the metal and rock movements during the Eighties.

Kingdom Come’s derivative version “Get it On” helped the self-titled Kingdom Come album released in 1988 move over a million units in the U.S. Whitesnake employed the same technique in “Judgement Day” from the “Slip Of The Tongue” album, which even though it didn’t reach the sale heights of the self-titled 1987 album, it still moved over a million copies in 1989.

As Yoda would say, the force is strong in “Kashmir”. Kashmir’s legacy in pop culture was solidified in the Nineties when the main riff was used by Puff Daddy in the song “Come with Me”.

The defining part of the song is the ascending chromatic riff over a pedal point which is made even greater by the drumming from John Bonham, playing slightly behind the beat.

Dave Mustaine is a great employer of this technique. “In My Darkest Hour” and “The Call Of Ktulu/Hanger 18” both employ this technique, however there are other Mustaine penned songs that also include this technique. Progress is derivative is the mantra that I employ.

“Mary Jane” from the “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988 has that riff that comes in at 0.46 and continues throughout the song. If it sounds familiar, it should, it is a very close derivative version of “In My Darkest Hour”. Both songs are similar and both songs have the ascending bass line over a pedal point.

“This Was My Life” from the “Countdown To Extinction” album released in 1992 has the main verse riff.

“Public Enema Number 1” from the “Th1rte3n” album released in 2011 has the main verse riff.

“The Kingmaker” from the “Super Collider” album released in 2013 has the Chorus riff.

Billy Squier also employed “The Kashmir Effect” and “The Ramble On Effect” in his song, “Lonely Is the Night” from the album “Don’t Say No” released in 1981. The music is “Ramble On” and the beat is “Kashmir”.

Guess progress really is derivative.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Hands In The Sky Big Shot – Great Music Will Live On Forever

I have been on a Sons Of Anarchy binge lately. Just recently I finished Season 2 and the final episode had an unbelievable piece of music that complemented and enhanced the desperation of the final scenes. You need to see it, to understand what I mean.

Of course I wanted to know more about this piece of music. So I Google “Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Music”. I come across a WIKIA page that shows me each episode and the songs that played on each episode. I click on the final episode of Season 2 and I see that the last song listed is from a band called “Straylight Run” and that the song is called “Hands In The Sky”.

So I go onto YouTube, type in the band name, and there it is. I came across 16 videos with a combined play count of 1,498,818. Spotify streams have the count as 110,507.

I want to go deeper, because that is what we do, when we come across something that connects with us.

The song was released on an EP, called “Prepare To Be Wrong” from 2005. God damn. I am hearing this song in 2013. That is 8 years after its release.

The audience (both legal and illegal) who watched “Sons Of Anarchy” on December 1, 2009 heard the song for the first time. If you dig deeper you will see that the actual song hit YouTube from December 4, 2009, which is right after the “Sons Of Anarchy” episode.

By February 2010, the band went on indefinite hiatus due to money complications. This is strange, especially when “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” was doing the rounds courtesy of the TV show.

Of course, with Victory Records being the label that released the EP, it would be safe to assume that Victory Records would have kept their reputation intact by pocketing handsomely and not giving a cent to Straylight Run.

Straylight Run started off on Victory Records due to a contract that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper had with the label courtesy of their other band “Taking Back Sunday.” That contract was fulfilled with the EP release in 2005. Then Universal Republic picked them up for their 2007 release “The Needles The Space” only to be dropped when vocalist, guitarist and pianist Michelle DaRosa left. They went all independent for their next two EP releases and then called it a day after that.

Great music will always be found. “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” will live on forever. It is now a part of pop culture. It really captured the desperation of the scenes and now I can’t stop playing the song, along with Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My, My” which was used to close Season 3.

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Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Rudolf Schenker – Guitar World – March 1986

RUDOLF SCHENKER ON THE AESTHETICS OF HEAVY METAL GUITAR
By Bruce Nixon

The below article in italics appeared in the Guitar World March 1986 issue.  I have re-typed here and added my bits and pieces to it.

The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar?  Well, think about it.  Rudolf Schenker was intrigued.  He was sitting in a backstage dressing room, a litter of soda cans, ashtrays and half filled beer bottles on the low table in front of him, quietly noodling on his trusty black-and-gold Flying V.  He balanced the guitar on his knees and spread his arms out wide, smiling broadly, his eyes sparkling.  Already, conversation had drifted over Vs and V players, and the Scorpions’ well-known axeman had displayed a deep and interested passion for the guitar life.

That is the iconic look, Rudolf Schenker with a trusted flying V.  This issue is from March 1986.  Rudolf had been in the game for over 26 years by now.  Rock You Like A Hurricane from 1984’s Love At First Sting album was a monster hit for the Scorpions.  Winners never quit.  They persist.  They persevere.  Sure, the Scorpions had an audience in Europe and Asia, but it wasn’t until 1984 that they broke through in the US.

“The aesthetics of heavy metal guitar…” His accent was middling thick with a slightly skewered command of idiom, but it didn’t set in the way of his enthusiasm. The idea had captured his attention, in any case.  

“I know of several different kinds of players,” he said. “There is Van Halen, very technical and very creative.  Him I like very much, because he has put new things into guitar playing.  He is very good rhythm-wise. And the other I like very much is my brother Michael.”  

This, of course, referring to Michael Schenker, the Scorpions’ original lead guitarist, now fronting his own band.

“He can play melodically—but he puts the three parts of the guitar together, the melodic, the technique and the feel. Some have more technical skill, but in my brother, all three parts are equal.  He has feel, but he keeps the melody inside and the exact rhythm inside.”

The impact of Edward Van Halen to rock music is immense.  Back in 1986, it was still at a level of what he brought to the guitar playing circles and how an expectation was made that any band with desires to make it, had to have a guitar hero.  Of course afterwards, EVH would branch out into guitars, amps and gear.

I am the youngest of three boys, so to hear Rudolf talk about his younger brother in such high regard, is cool.  His words ring true.  Michael Schenker was a monster player.  UFO couldn’t contain him.  Their best works happened when Michael Schenker was in the band.  (We will forget about the crappy 90’s reunion album and the bad Vinnie Moore reincarnation, even though i am a fan of Vinnie Moore as well).  His solo work in the eighties as part of MSG and McAuley Schenker Group was a stand out as well.

Going back to March 1986, Rudolf’s summation of his brothers ability made me curious to find out more about Michael Schenker.  This is artists promoting other artists.  I don’t believe that form of promotion happens these days anymore?  Growing up in Australia, the nineties brought a certain elitism ideal to certain local scenes, where each band only looked out for themselves as they where worried that another band might take their fans.  What artists failed to realise is that fans of music always like more than one band.  That is how fan bases are made, a common love of music across different bands.

“You see, metal is a new style.  Heavy rock is based on guitar and drums together.  If you want aesthetics, when you go looking for a good guitar player, you will find them in heavy rock.  This is a place where the guitar player has the most openings.  Look at Rick Springfield—his guitar player is good, but the music is based on the singer.  In heavy rock, the guitar player has more parts than the singer has.  In heavy metal, the players are young and fresh, too, open to new styles and new sounds, new everything!  Whole roads are open to them.  We all used to copy Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, but bands don’t do that anymore.”

Bands started to copy their peers.

Motley Crue hit the LA scene in 1980 with a mix of Seventies Punk, Americana Rock / Pop and British Classic Rock.  Bands like Poison, Warrant, Bullet Boys and Tuff came out influenced by bands like Motley Crue and Ratt.

Bon Jovi came out influenced by Seventies Classic Rock, Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey keyboard driven pop scene.  Then you had every band writing songs in a pop metal vein.

Van Halen came out influenced by the English Blues Rock and Americana Rock/Pop.  Name me one band in the eighties that didn’t try to sound like them.

Def Leppard wanted to record an album that mixed Queen style pop harmonies with the NWOBM sound they were involved in.  They achieved that with Pyromania and perfected it on Hysteria, spawning thousands of imitators.  

Guitar players became the ones that got the attention as well.  The band dynamic had evolved.  It started in the Seventies and continued with the Hard Rock / Glam Rock movement in the Eighties.

“I like to listen to heavy rock very much,” he added. “Jimmy Page, in his good days, was so good.  Now, Jeff Beck has always been good, and I like his solo album very much.  I hear Malmsteen—he s very fast, very technical, much into classical.  Take Ritchie Blackmore—of course, he is from the older generation of players, but he doesn’t get older  in his sound.  Beck is more for older people these days.  Ritchie is one of those guys who has old and young kids in his audience.  He has that fresh energy.”

Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow is one guitarist that appealed to both old and young guitarist.  The older crowd that is into the blues rock style loved what Blackmore did with it, the middle-aged got the best of both worlds and the younger crowds maybe didn’t appreciate the blues rock vibe of Blackmore however they related to his classical technicality that fit perfectly with the rise of the Eighties shred.  That is where Michael Schenker also comes into the picture.  He also accommodated both audiences.

He suggested that the greatest heavy rock players were European-except for Jimi Hendrix and Leslie West.  America has not been highly nourishing soil for metal guitarists.  In metal, at least.  Europeans maintain more of a purists approach to the genre.  

“I think European guitarists have been more original.” he remarked matter-of-factly.  Page—Beck—Clapton- Ritchie—my brother. In heavy rock. English players, especially, have had a more original feel. In coming from Germany, when I watch television over here, I see everything is made for posing—the advertisements and stuff.  In Europe, people are more natural, they are relaxed.  They don’t pay as  much attention to those things. Maybe the guitar players are like that, too.”

There is that name again Jimi Hendrix and who the hell is Leslie West.  It was years later that i heard Mississippi Queen, if you know what I mean.

By 1986, America had a decent amount of heavy rock players.  Going back to the Seventies, you had players like Ted Nugent, Ace Frehley, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon and Eddie Van Halen.  By the Eighties you had players like Randy Rhoads, Warren DeMartini and George Lynch join the ranks.

It was hard to come up with any more American guitarists who fit the bill.  At the mention of Randy Rhoads, Schenker nodded enthusiastically, and then shook his head sadly.

If it wasn’t for Randy Rhoads, I wouldn’t have been able to play the way I play.  His dedication and precision on the two Ozzy albums will be forever remembered.

“Blues is the basis of all good guitar playing in this style of music,” Schenker concluded.  The Americans are not as bluesy as the English are.  Clapton, Beck, Page—they’re all influenced by the blues.  English players found the right combination for bringing blues and modern rock together.”

Artists speaking their minds.  If you agree with Rudolf’s point of view or not, one thing is clear, he is not afraid to get it out there.  Maybe it is that famed German arrogance, or maybe it is truth.

I honestly believe that music captured in its purest form is magical.  The  purest form is when music is written without the thoughts of profits in minds.  In the late sixties and early seventies, this is what music was.  It was pure.  It wasn’t tainted by Wall Street, by profit margins and balance sheets.

According to his guitar technician, Vince Flaxington, Rudolf Schenker keeps it simple. The Scorpions’ veteran rhythm player carries six Flying Vs on the road, his favorite of the bunch being a black and white 1964 model that his brother gave him about a year or so ago; he also likes the black and gold model, an ’82 reissue, while the remaining four are strictly backups.  

Schenker is a Flying V fanatic, having forty-odd variations of the instrument at home, about a third of which are original issue models.  Indeed, he doesn’t own anything else. He saw his first V in the hands of Johnny Winter and became an instant convert to its sleek good looks.  The best one he ever had, he said, went with his brother when Michael Schenker left the Scorps.  His guitar tech says every one is stock, Rudolf uses only Gibson pickups and refuses to let anyone alter his beloved Vs.  Not even with Strap-Loks.

Onstage, the guitarist uses three 50-watt Marshall heads that drive six 4 x 12 cabinets.  The Marshalls are “quite old”—a ’67, a 1970, and a 1980, all stock.  The volume is set at 9; the EQ knobs are all full-tilt.  His sole effect is a Vox wah-wah, one of the first made, although Schenker only uses it for about five numbers in the current set.  The cabinets also are stock.  He uses a Nady wireless system. 

“His tone is like broken glass,” Flaxington grinned. “That’s the way he wants it—sharp, clear and raunchy.”

Simply and effective set up.  He is a purest.  He didn’t go searching for that sound the way others did.  He just plugged in and let it rip.

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Music, My Stories

Storm Thorgerson – Off to the Bright Side of The Afterlife

The album cover was an important part of each album release.  A lot of the times we purchased albums based on how the cover looked.  Iron Maiden immediately comes to mind.  Most of the times people are unaware who the artists are that create these iconic images.  In this case, Storm Thorgerson is a name that people either know or don’t know.

I guarantee if you mention to anyone the name Storm Thorgerson they would look at you like you are speaking a different language.

However if you mentioned Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon, then you get a reaction.  You can say that he is best known for creating the prism-spreading color spectrum on the front of Pink Floyd‘s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ album.  (All images are sourced from Wikipedia, so that I can showcase my favourite album covers by Storm).

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Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was the first Pink Floyd album I purchased in the late eighties.  From this album I started to go back and explore the others.

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Storm passed away, on Thursday 18th April after a long illness with cancer and the after effects of a stroke in 2003. He was in his 69 years old.

If you have Dream Theater’s – A Change of Season EP, Falling Into Infinity album or Once In A Livetime album, then the cover art was all designed by Storm.  Dream Theater is one of my favourite bands at the moment.

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Megadeth’s – Rude Awakening DVD cover, was designed by Storm.  This cover is a dead set classic.

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Europe – Secret Society – again very creative, the secret society is faceless people pulling you in all directions.

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Thornley – Come Again – this is one of his best covers, the trap door exit into another world or an alternate reality.

Peter Gabriel – I love the ghostly face in the car with the raindrops. The light and dark shades capture the moment.

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Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy – this one was a rare one from Storm, as most of his album covers involved photographs and manipulation of photographs.  This one is more or less a drawing.

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Muse – Absolution – the shadows of the people falling down from the sky, while the person looks up.  Brilliant. Or are the people finding absolution and are being taken up the sky.  Again it makes you think.

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Led Zeppelin – Presence – I always took this photo as showing a side of the wealthy/powerful and the black presence in the middle of the table.  I am sure others have a different take on it.  It has been known the Jimmy Page dabbled in black magic, and could this be the presence that the album cover refers too. It makes you think.

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The Mars Volta – Frances The Mute – we are all faceless people bypassing each other, just to get ahead.

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Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions – i love the contrast of the Red and the Blue.  Very war like.

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There are a lot of other covers out there, so delve deep and remember the man who is iconic to pop culture.  He worked with the best and he is the best.  Rest in Peace and thanks for the memories.  

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