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

August 2020 – Part 5

Jessie’s Girl 2 (feat Rick Springfield) – Coheed And Cambria

I’ve been a fan from when I was given a CD rip of the “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” album in 2005 and a few months later I was consuming the brand new “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV”.

Their song structures and the riffs got me interested. And the voice of Claude Sanchez got me to commit. That voice rocks out like Geddy Lee, but still sounds unique and different enough.

And the hair. Man that hair. It’s massive. 

And to top it off, there is the big SciFi saga about a mystical energy source known as “The Keywork”.

Starting Over – Chris Stapleton

Rock bands used to do ballads like this, an acoustic guitar, a light drum shuffle and lyrics that take you down the sidewalk of life.

Chris Stapleton is a country artist and he came across my radar because my kids were listening to a collaboration he did with Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran, “BLOW”. And I was interested because it’s a blues rock monster with a wicked guitar riff.

Then I checked out his other songs, like “Parachute” which has over 135 million streams and “Tennessee Whiskey” which has 315+ million streams.

And became a fan.

The Lost Tapes – Dokken

“This was when I was on my own, and I was playing with Juan Croucier [Ratt] on bass. We went to Germany in ‘79 and did a tour, so these were all the demos we did.”

Don Dokken

Don Dokken never should have re-recorded some of the songs but he did because the tapes were bad.

But all is not lost. There are some early gems here, without any re-recordings.

So if you have the “Back In The Streets” EP, which I do, you don’t really need to buy “The Lost Tapes”, however, the “Back In The Streets” EP was released as a bootleg, so Don Dokken never got any royalties from the sale of the EP but he will get payment for this release.

So it’s no surprise that my favourite tracks on “The Lost Tapes” are from the “Back In The Streets” EP.

And I heard that Don Dokken used these actual songs (co-written by Lynch and Brown) to get a record deal under the name of Dokken and this started the rift with Lynch.

“Were Going Wrong” is written by Dokken and Lynch. It has a riff that came straight from “Hot N Ready” by UFO and a certain Rainbow track.

“Day After Day” is a brilliant ballad like the 70’s ballads, with a bluesy guitar solo that Don Dokken should be proud off.

“Felony” is a Dokken, Lynch and Brown cut and this song re-appeared on the “Breaking The Chains” album.

“Back In The Streets” is a Dokken and Lynch cut and it’s got that Sunset Strip vibe. “Liar” is a Dokken cut and its recorded live in the late 70’s, and a version of it appears on the “From Conception” album, a live recording of the early days with Lynch and Brown. 

For the following cuts I don’t have any info on at all. 

“Rainbows” is not on the EP I have and it’s a song I haven’t heard before, but it feels like a re-recording. The intro riff is good. And I don’t know who wrote it.

“Hit And Run” appeared on the “From Conception Live 1981” released in 2007. This song was written for the “Breaking The Chains” album. I’m pretty sure that Lynch is playing on this version and how this song didn’t make the album confuses me. 

S&M 2 – Metallica

I thought this was unnecessary. 

But when artists suddenly cannot tour because of COVID-19, this album suddenly took on a different meaning to me.

It’s a celebration of Metallica. It’s a celebration of gathering and cramming into a venue to let our hair down and be infected with live music. It’s a celebration of bands performing live and bringing their circus to town. This time with a whole symphony.

And since 1998 they have released other albums, so it was good to hear those tracks get the orchestra treatment.

Songs like “The Day Never Comes”, “Confusion”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Halo On Fire”, “The Unforgiven III” and “All Within My Hands”.

Plus there are two symphonies in “The Iron Foundry” from composer Alexander Mosolov and “Scythian Suite” from composer Sergei Prokofiev.

“The Memory Remains” was a favourite of mine when it came out on “Reload” but over the last 15 years, it’s become one of those powerful singalong concert moments like “For Whom The Bells Toll”.

“The Outlaw Torn” is a favourite from the “Load” album, and it’s also a song which translates well with the whole symphony. Plus that outro groove/riff is essential listening.

And “No Leaf Clover” is always a blast to listen too. 

Another World – Gojira

From France.

What a journey it’s been for them. 

Their style morphed from being a technical death metal band to a heavy metal band and now to a hard rock act.

Regardless of style, it’s the riffage that gets me interested.

And their lyrics deal with society and the environment.

Manhattan Skyline – Ihsahn, Einar Solberg

I’ve been a fan of Ihsahn for a long time.

My cousin was into Black Metal. I never got the industrial vocals part, but the movement did give us blast beats to incorporate into normal metal songs and it also introduced symphonic elements to metal music. 

It’s a long way from the Norwegian Black Metal movement he was involved in as the co-founder and guitarist with Emperor.

They wore corpse paint and he didn’t spend any time in prison, while his other Emperor band members committed murder and arson. And his views on Satanism and Christianity always got people talking, even the very open minded Norwegians.

But don’t let the stories detract from listening. Listen with your ears and an open mind as his solo releases just keep pushing the boundaries. 

On this song, Einar Solberg from Leprous (or his sister in law) is guesting with him and it feels like the Euro Pop songs from the 80’s. Its catchy and infectious.

Scars – Fates Warning

There will always be a bias towards Fates Warning. 

This band has been a part of my life for a long time and I still rate their 2000 album “Disconnect” as a perfect connector between the hard rock and metal prog of their earlier albums with the prog of Tool and Porcupine Tree which relied more on groove and atmospheric textures. 

And with “Scars” they continue on their own prog journey, fusing different styles and elements and more emphasis on expression than technicality and even more emphasis on progressive song writing than the standard verse and chorus structure.

Kill The Lights

The album is called “The Sinner” and it’s from a metalcore supergroup band which features members from bands who all had record deals and some success in the past.

Vocalist James Clark (Throw The Fight), guitarist Jordan Whelan (Still Remains), drummer ‘Moose’ Thomas (Bullet For My Valentine) and bassist Travis Montgomery (Threat Signal).

And I had the impression that the album would be screaming verses and melodic Choruses. While that is true for some songs, it’s does have some subtleness.

Stand out songs are “The Faceless”, “Through The Night”, “Tear Me Apart”, “The Enemy”, “Sober”, “Rest” and “Unmoved”.

They worked over the last two and a half years to put the album together and it’s a good mix of songs with different emotions and feelings. Fearless Records signed them after a whole year of negotiations.

“The Enemy” is a great track with a fast guitar opening riff and a foot stomping chorus.

“Through The Night” deals with the anxiety and depression that vocalist James went through. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and that really kicked off his struggles and they kicked in again when his children came into the world.

Adelitas Way and Seether also dropped albums this month, but they will be reviewed in next month’s list.

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

August 2020 – Part 4

Use My Voice – Evanescence

Amy Lee is a musician I would want around for a long time. The sound of her voice (which can be mournful, aggressive, rageful and happy) always gets me interested and the messages in the songs are genuine.

Relationships are difficult and they become even more difficult when one side tries to force their personality onto the other, speaking for them and even questioning them in a negative way in front of others.

Use your voice people, don’t suppress it. Its special and unique to you. This applies to everything in life and not just to relationships. Because no one is entitled to speak for you except you.

Space – Biffy Clyro

This band is hit and miss for me. They have me interested, then they lose me and then they get me again.

And this song has me back again about having a space in your heart for the special someone who is in and out of your life.

Maybe It’s Time – Sixx AM with guests

I liked this song when it appeared on their 2016 album “Prayers For The Blessed”.

It’s been redone now with a lot of guest vocalists to raise awareness of addiction and recovery.

“When I was young, I was dumb”

Indestructible. 

Getting old was never in my thoughts. 

Jumping out of moving cars, getting drunk and generally mucking around, sometimes dangerously, was bred out of pure boredom.

And not of all of us got out alive. People committed suicide and others got addicted to drugs, living a hard life right now with shakes and aliens in the fridge. 

“Maybe it’s time to deal with the pieces in my life”

There has to be a reawakening, a turning point. Some people believe they need to help you see it, but I believe you need to get to that point yourself.

For me, it was lying in a hospital bed with my foot broken and my face bruised and bleeding because I was drunk and jumped out of a moving car. I just had surgery to insert screws and a long road to recovery.

Cruel Hands Of Time – Tygers Of Pan Tang

It’s a crazy world we live in when “Tygers Of Pan Tang” are putting out some of their best music. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member left from the 80s.

The riffage on this song is straight from the Sunset strip and I’m pretty sure it’s from the fingers of Michael Crystal who has been in the band since 2013 and vocalist Jacopo Meille has some nice pipes, so the melodies are infectious.

Talk To Me – Apocalyptica with Lzzy Hale

These dudes from Finland have been on my radar since they covered Metallica songs on the cellos. And they have done everything, from the covers, the instrumental originals and the vocal originals.

This time they have Lzzy Hale, the best rock voice.

Satellites – Andy James

That chorus lead melody that kicks in at about the minute mark is emotive and the harmonies just add a nice complexity to it.

One of the best instrumental guitarists right now.

World On Fire – Daughtry

It’s so good to have Daughtry knocking on the door of hard rock again. He’s angry and the addictive melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings So when society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

The final part to August 2020 is coming up.

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

1977 – V1

All of these albums I got many years later. Actually all of my 70’s music came well into the 90’s

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

I knew the songs before I even heard the album. There was no way you could escape AC/DC.

“Dog Eat Dog”, “Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be” and “Whole Lotta Rosie” were always on in car stereos and jukeboxes. The only tracks that were new to me, were “Go Down”, “Overdose” and “Crabsody In Blue” (which was substituted by “Problem Child” for the North American market.

And some of favourite AC/DC riffs are on this album, along with the lyrics, especially the social conscious themes of “Dog Eat Dog”. Plus for a blues based rock band, “Let There Be Rock” is an early precursors of speed metal.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell

In Australia, this album was still massive in the 80’s and it got even bigger in the 90’s when Meatloaf dropped Part 2. Like 25x Platinum like massive for Australia. And my favourite track (apart from the title track) is the ballad, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”.

It was also weird for me to read that another songwriter who is not part of the band solely wrote all the music.

I believe that the success of this album around the world is also down to the resilience that Steinman and Meat Loaf showed to get the album recorded, the band signed and eventually the album released.

Because the project started in 1972 and the songs got rejected because the label heads wanted to hear the typical “verse – chorus” arrangement, which as we know, Jim Steinman didn’t really abide by. Instead he relied more on the theatre/opera style of arrangements and the rest is history. In the US alone, the album is 14 x Platinum.

Queen – News Of The World

How do you follow up two successful albums with multi-tracked harmonies?

You go back to basics and rock out, which is exactly what Queen did with “News Of The World”.

There was no escaping “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” but my favourite track on this album is the John Deacon penned “Spread Your Wings”.

And a bonus mention for the Roger Taylor penned “Fight From The Inside”. Listen to it and you will hear how groovy and hard rock Queen could be. “American Woman” also comes to mind when I hear it. Slash said the guitar riff on this song is one of his favorites and it’s not even played by Brian May, but by drummer Roger Taylor, who also plays bass on the track.

Kansas – Point Of Know Return

I picked up the first five Kansas albums all in one swoop for less than $10. The covers got me interested and all I knew about the band was a few mentions by other artists in interviews from the progressive rock family.

That was it.

I had no idea about “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind”. And I played “Point Of Know Return” first because the cover was the best of all em and the song titles interested me.

So I dropped the needle and listened and read the credits and lyrics and became a fan.

Musically it’s a fusion of so many styles, blended in with the distorted sounds of hard rock and a band in top form.

Without Wikipedia or any form of internet to guide me, I had no idea how successful this band was or how their songs became radio staples in America. But it didn’t matter to me, because it these kind of discoveries when you go record hunting that remain.

Rush – A Farewell To Kings

After I was exposed to “Exit Stage Left” I was hooked and I started to seek out the Rush records I could find at the used record shops as CD’s in Australia, were still selling for $30. At one stage they got to $38. Seriously, the recording industry really over estimated their value.

This is album number 5 and the follow up to “2112” which was their make or break album. This fertile period of Rush would last to “Moving Pictures” in 1981 and then the synths would take over for about six years before they brought back the three piece sound.

And as a prog fan, I am always into songs which have sections, so “Cygnus X-1” was on my radar, but I was surprised by “Closer To The Heart” and that arpeggio guitar intro.

Foreigner – Foreigner

No one knew Mick Jones until this album dropped. No one knew the pipes on Lou Gramm until this album dropped.

Released in 1977, no one was sure if disco was ending or rock was starting.

And the album has some songs which are forgotten, but they rock as hard as anything I have heard.

A song like “Starrider” would work on any Deep Purple/Rainbow/Whitesnake album. Even on an Y&T or Scorpions album.

“The Damage Is Done” has this outro solo ending that reminds me of Santana or even “Winds Of Change” from Y&T. “At War With The World” could have come from a Rush album. There is so much variety on this album. It’s a shame that the first two cuts ruled everything.

Did I mention that “Cold As Ice” is also on this album?

Check out the debut.

That’s it for 1977 Part 1 and now we go back into the future for 2000 Part 2.

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

Release Day Friday

The Release Day Friday Spotify playlist offered a lot of goodies this time around.

It kicks off with Dee Snider and his new song, “Prove Me Wrong”.

In my book, Dee Snider is a huge part of my youth growing up. I followed him in Twisted Sister, waited for Desperado to release their album, then that album got canned and the band was dropped from Elektra. He then hooked up with Al Pitrelli for the Widowmaker albums, and I waited for those albums, thinking they would never come out. Finally the two albums dropped, the hard rock influenced “Blood And Bullets” and the grungier sounding, “Stand By For Pain”.

And this song is basically about how he has proven people wrong his whole life. He just kept going and going and trying to make it. He made it in music, he made it in radio, he made movies, he was key in getting Headbangers Ball up and going, and he spoke out against censorship while everyone else kept quiet.

I came, I saw, I rocked
I left it all upon the stage
For almost fifty years
Now it’s time to turn the page

It’s a long time to be in the business and in the 80’s he was only on top for a few short years. And the record labels like Neglektra did their best to kill his career afterwards.

I’ve been abused and used
Been over, under, sideways, down
But still my head’s unbowed
Was there ever any doubt?

If you want a definition of grit and perseverance, look no further than Dee Snider. There is a cool lyrical reference to his Desperado album on Elektra called “Bloodied But Unbowed”, where they spent a long time writing, then recording, then a week before the release, the album is pulled and Dee is dropped, but Elektra is holding on to the master tapes because they don’t want Dee to take em to another label and have a hit album. So Dee has the option to just walk away from his songs or buy some of his masters back.

How they tried, but couldn’t prove me wrong

You want to knock off the monster chip on Dee’s shoulder, go right ahead and prove him wrong.

The best revenge is none
Just be happy and live well
Knowing for your enemies
There is a special place in hell
No one could hold me back
Those who tried, I laid to waste

Truth in these words. The best revenge is to be happy and live well. That’s it.

They had every chance to prove me wrong

And they’ve all failed.

“Atlas Falls” from Shinedown was a surprise drop and it’s a nod to their sound up to 2012 which I like. It doesn’t have the “Imagine Dragons” pop sounds from the last two albums.

So I did some reading and found that “Atlas Fall” is an unreleased track from their 2012 album “Amaryllis”. And it just hit Spotify today, but has been out since 23 March 2020 as a digital download to raise funds for Direct Relief (who provides medical supplies to people in need).

Don’t give up now, there’s already so much at stake
If Atlas falls, I’ll rise up and carry us all the way

We need to support each other more these days than ever. If the world we know, crashes down around us, we need to find a way to survive.

“Skyfall” from Vandenberg really got my attention. I repeat, really got my attention.

Adrian has gone back to his roots. This song is epic 70’s style as the riffs ooze grandeur. A five plus minute song. If you like how Europe went back to their roots in “War Of Kings” then you will enjoy this album. If you like Rainbow, then you will like this song. Plus if you like Adrian Vandenberg’s style, which I do, it’s a no-brainer.

When the sky falls down
Fields are burning all around
I’ll be right beside you

Haken dropped another song “Invasion” and their form of groove/riff driven progressive rock gets me interested and so does the atmospheric groove instrumental music of Long Distance Calling and their song “Voices”.

Reach dropped “The Law”. Metallica dropped an acoustic “Blackened 2020”, which James plays with a nod to the style of Ennio Morricone. There is FM and a song called “Change For The Better”.

The melodic rock “Gathering Of Kings” project keeps ticking all the boxes for catchy choruses with “Highway To Paradise”. Scorpions released “Sign Of Hope” which didn’t really give me hope, but they have a lot of goodwill in my book, so it’s okay. “Ghosts” from Paradise Lost also appeared on the playlist, telling me (subliminally) to check out their new album.

Trapt also released “Tell Me How You Really Feel” which is more in the vein of pop than the alt-rock they have been known for, however I’m still interested to see what the full album

P.S.
Spotify still can’t tell the difference between Helix the rock band and Helix (the dance act).
P.S.S.
Spotify still can’t tell the difference between RSO (Richie Sambora Orianthi) and RSO (some dance act).
P.S.S.S.
Spotify still can’t tell the difference between Jasta (American metal singer) and an Eastern European act called Jasta.

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

Hexes

“Hexes” is from the Tesseract album called “Polaris” released in 2015.

For those who don’t know, Tesseract are an U.K. act, who play a form of progressive rock. If you like genre titles, then they started off as a djent band which then morphed into a math rock style with atmospheric rock elements.

“Hexes” according to a quick search on the internet, means to cast a spell on/put a curse on.

And in this instance, our own decisions and past histories are the hexes we put on our lives.

It’s a progressive, atmospheric tune.

At its core, is a digital delay riff, which just keeps on building into an explosive syncopated progressive riff.

But let’s not forget the vocal melody and that haunting soft piano which just rumbles under the surface.

And that half time section from about 3.22 to the end.

It isn’t a secret this mind’s shrouded in history
It isn’t a secret this mind spirals in disarray
It isn’t a secret this mind shatters in mystery
It isn’t a secret I find terror in memory

Our thoughts are a secret. Unless we talk about em. But we don’t. Because we feel exposed and we don’t like to be exposed.

So we keep thinking and building more thoughts. Which we store away like memories. Fantasy clashes with reality and the mind is confused as to what is real.

History hexes us
I breathe again
History hexes us
I live again

Whatever happened in our past, it doesn’t mean our future is fixed. Each day is a new chance to breathe and live again.

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

A Nightmare To Remember

“Black Clouds and Silver Linings” is Dream Theater’s last album with Mike Portnoy.

The opening track “A Nightmare To Remember” is 16 minutes plus. Four songs in one to sink your teeth into.

The opening 2 minutes could have come from a black metal act or a thrash metal act. But it didn’t. It came from these Jersey dudes. Then from about 1.50 to 2.20 some of the best hard rock bands in the world wished they were writing head banging riffs like this.

The first verse riff is palm muted, with the swagger of Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” album. Then John Petrucci brings out the wah wah pedal, showing Kirk Hammett how it should be used and the. its back into the head banging verse riff.

And the song’s music just keeps morphing as the lyrics detail a car accident that John Petrucci’s family had when he was young.

I really like the clean tone section from the 5 minute mark. It’s very “Diary Of A Madman” and it connects immediately. It’s like a different song, and that chorus like section when James LaBrie sings “hopelessly drifting” is super melodic.

And by 8.30 that clean tone part is done, as Petrucci moves into a jazz fusion solo, then Jordan Rudess starts to solo on the keys and the instrumental section of the song is before us.

They trade solos until the 10.30 mark and the song is back to the black metal style intro with a lot of chromatic style soloing. Portnoy takes over on the vocals here, bringing a growl element to it. It was hated by reviewers and elitists but we liked it. As I’ve said before, you need to accept the cheese elements with Dream Theater.

Then at about 12.10 it moves to another instrumental section. This section has got more of a “Learning To Live” vibe from “Images And Words” which I like.

And at 13.20 its back into the singing, before it moves into a few familiar riffs played throughout the song and then back to the intro black metal riff to close the song off. This time, Portnoy brings out the blast beats.

And at 16 minutes, the ride is over.

Standard
Music, My Stories

Which Band has hidden their Spotify Stream Count?

So I am on Spotify right now and I am curious to see how many streams “Dream Theater” had after 1 week of their album release.  So I bring up the “Dream Theater” Spotify account and I see a Top 10 list.

1 – The Looking Glass
2 – The Enemy Inside
3 – False Awakening Suite
4 – Enigma Machine
5 – The Bigger Picture
6 – Behind The Veil
7 – Illumination Theory
8 – Surrender To Reason
9 – Along For A Ride
10 – On The Backs Of Angels with a 1,120,058 count.

That’s it. The new album streams are not even on the account. I have my suspicions as to why.

Maybe progressive rock fans don’t want to use Spotify so the numbers are too low, and it doesn’t look cool to show them. However back on the 19 Sept 2013, the Dream Theater Spotify Top 10 was made up of the following songs;

1. Wither – 1,838,066 streams
2. A Nightmare To Remember – 1,185,005 streams
3. On The Backs Of Angels – 1,102,232 streams
4. Pull Me Under – 1,060,769 streams
5. The Count Of Tuscany – 909,535 streams
6. Build Me Up, Break Me Down – 713,216 streams
7. Lost Not Forgotten – 518,814 streams
8. This Is The Life – 515,134 streams
9. Bridges In The Sky – 406,309 streams
10. Breaking All Illusion – 404,721 streams

Despite all the marketing, the album just hasn’t penetrated deeply.

Anyway, it is a far cry compared to Avenged Sevenfold’s Spotify streams after the album was out. Back on September 12, 2013, Avenged Sevenfold had the following numbers from the new album songs;

1. Hail TO The King – 1,884,995 with YouTube views of 3,904,022
2. Shepherd Of Fire – 495,889
3. This Means War – 394,868
4. Doin Time – 372,238
5. Requiem – 333,633
6. Crimson Day – 310,412
7. Coming Home – 288,366
8. Heretic – 277,498

Dream Theater had first week US sales of 33,950 units sold and a top 10 album on the Billboard charts. It gets some ink in the papers and of course every website, is reporting on it. However what does it all mean? If bands are focusing on the album sales, they are missing the point?

As a history lesson, here are the stats from 2009 and 2011.

Dream Theater – Black Clouds And Silver Linings had the following 7 week run;

Week 1 – ending 7 July 2009 – 40,300 units sold
Week 2 – ending 15 July 2009 – 5,800 units sold
Week 3 – ending 21 July 2009 – 4,600 units sold
Week 4 – ending 29 July 2009 – 3,500 units sold
Week 5 – ending 5 Aug 2009 – 3,100 units sold
Week 6 – ending 12 Aug 2009 – 2,500 units sold
Week 7 – ending 19 Aug 2009 – 2,200 units sold

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events had the following 5 week run;

Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

In the end, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” sold in total 95,000 units.

 

 

Standard