Music, My Stories

2021 – Not As Good As I Expected

It’s always unpopular to have an opinion on an album that isn’t favorable.

Liquid Tension Experiment – III

John Petrucci delivered a great solo album in 2020, but when LTE reformed with Petrucci, Portnoy, Ruddess and Levin, the “III” album didn’t have the same impact as the first two LTE albums which I saw as ground breaking instrumental albums.

The first two albums were released in the late 90s and they came out at a time when most instrumental artists brought in an industrial sound to their albums because that sound is what was popular however LTE didn’t conform to what was popular.

Songs like “Acid Rain”, “Paradigm Shift” and my favourite “Universal Mind” which Petrucci borrowed from for “Happy Song” are instrumental masterpieces.

And the deeper you dig into the first two albums you’ll hear other awesome tracks like “Kindred Spirits”, “Freedom Of Speech” and “When The Water Breaks”.

But if you do want to press play on a track from this album, then “Blink Of An Eye” is the one. It’s got this groove that it’s intoxicating and it sets the foundation.

Trivium – In The Court of The Dragon

I’m a big fan of Trivium and in April 2020 just when lockdowns started around the world, they dropped the excellent “What The Dead Men Say”.

And they couldn’t tour behind it. Matt Heafy did a side project and the band got together and wrote another album.

Which didn’t have the same impact as “What The Dead Men Say”.

Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The World

I will buy it as a Dream Theater fan so I can have it in my collection but it didn’t connect with me.

But like previous releases there are some nice instrumental sections.

I’m also not a fan of riffs created on the super heavy gauge of an 8 string guitar. It’s too low and muddled for my ears.

Black Veil Brides – The Phantom Tomorrow

It’s their third rock opera.

I really want to like it, but I couldn’t wait for each song to finish.

Bullet For My Valentine – Bullet For My Valentine

We fall in and out with our favorite artists.

At the moment I’m out with BFMV who I think are suffering an identity crisis.

George Lynch – Seamless

I purchased it as I have all of his recordings and while it was okay, I was expecting something else.

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Top 10 – 2021: Part 2

And we continue the journey of 2021 releases.

Daughtry – Dearly Beloved

In 2012 Chris Daughtry had a decision to make after “Break The Spell”.

Should he stay with the same sound?

Should he change the sound completely?

Should he stay with the same sound but experiment with a few songs by bringing in different sounds?

“Baptized” came out in in November 2013 on RCA Records and it was an electro synth pop sounding album, a significant departure from the hard rock sound on their first three albums.

Like the previous albums, RCA farmed Chris Daughtry out to work with different writers. But while the writers previously had some rock pedigree, the writers on “Baptized” album specialized in other styles.

There is a song called “Long Live Rock N Roll” and it doesn’t even rock, as it’s more in the vein of “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker”, an acoustic folk song which tells a story of growing up with a certain type of music.

Then came a “Greatest Hits” album in 2016 with two new songs called “Torches” and “Go Down.

“Torches” is actually a good bridge between the old sound and the “Baptized” sound,

The song “Go Down” has your typical catchy Daughtry vocal melody but it’s instrument sounds are routed in synth pop and electronica. Think of the band “Garbage”.

“Cage To Rattle” came out in 2018. 10 songs that total 38 minutes. RCA again was spending a lot of money for Chris Daughtry to write with so many outside writers in the quest to find hits.

But the record executives failed to understand is that Daughtry’s audience is predominantly made up of rockers. And there is a saying, when you’re chasing hits it don’t mean the hits would come.

Then Daughtry and RCA parted ways.

And Daughtry was back, louder and meaner.

“Dearly Beloved” is a return to form which shows the world that Daughtry still knows how to rock!!

Machine Head – Arrows In Words From The Sky

In October, Machine “Fucking” Head made 30 years! It’s a long time in the business. Music is a lifers game.

In the early 90s, Robb Flynn decided to quit the band he was in, to start Machine “Fucking” Head, so he could call the shots and not have to answer to anyone.

Throughout the years he’s had different versions of the band with “The Blackening” line up being the most favored and then the “Burn My Eyes” line up.

Over the last three years, Robb’s motto is simple. If he has a song, or two, he’s going to get it recorded and released.

In 2019, “Do Or Die” was released.

In February 2020, “Circle The Drain” came out.

In June 2020, the “Civil Unrest” single, featuring the tracks “Bulletproof” and the Jesse Leach collaboration “Stop The Bleeding” came out.

In November 2020, the stand alone “My Hands Are Empty” was released.

And on 11 June 2021, the 3-Song digital single, “Arrows In Words From The Sky” dropped.

In total 8 songs have been released. They could represent an album that came out today, but we all got to spend time with these songs when they came out and make em special at that particular point in time.

Centuries of pain, under a paper sword
Arrows in words from the sky

Check it out.

Joel Hoekstras 13 – Running Games

I am a Russell Allen fan. I knew of Allen long before I heard of Joel Hoekstra. Allen has a voice which can suit power symphonic bands, metal bands, melodic rock bands, hard rock bands, nu-metal bands and blues rock bands.

And I’m also a Jeff Watson fan, so I wasn’t too thrilled with any Night Ranger version without Watson. Then again Watson hasn’t done much being away from the band and I still want to hear new Night Ranger music.

So I still listened to Night Ranger and Hoekstra impressed but I felt he was restrained within that band as Blades and Keagy are the alphas.

And with Whitesnake, Coverdale has two great guitarists to write tunes with but they need to comply with what Coverdale desires.

Which means that Hoekstra 13 is the true Joel Hoekstra.

“Running Games” is album number 2 for his Frontiers label contract.

The band for the album is a supergroup are Russell Allen on vocals, Tony Franklin on bass, Vinny Appice on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards with Jeff Scott Soto doing backing vocals. Yep, you read that right, the great JSS is doing backing vocals.

Overall Hoekstra’s songwriting is top level and the performances from the guys are excellent.

Check it out.

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Top 10 – 2021: Part 1

2021 Top Ten

I suppose it’s that time to start providing some EOY lists.

I’ll start with what I see as my favourite ten albums, EP’s or Singles released for the year. And then there will be another posts on my Spotify listening habits for the year.

So here it goes.

Here is Part 1, which features my go to artists with 2021 releases and it’s not an numerical order.

The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

“80’s Miami Vice Pop”.

Two of my favourite Kiss albums are “Dynasty” and “Unmasked” because they brought in other styles of music into the Kiss rock sound and somehow Kiss still made it sound like hard rock.

So I wasn’t surprised to hear that “Dynasty” and “Unmasked” are also the favourite albums for the guys in TNFO and how they see the song “Easy As It Seems” as the blueprint for a TNFO song.

And how can you knock back a song called “How Long” which has been described as “90s Deep Purple on cocaine”.

So if you grew up in the 80’s listening to hard rock and melodic rock, then you need to listen to this.

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Tom Englund is the mainstay, the founder, the main writer, the vocalist and also one of the guitarists.

Opener and first pre-release single, “Forever Outsider” showcases the power of the band at its metal best, while the second pre-release single “Eternal Nocturnal” showcases the power of the band at its hard rock best with sing-along Choruses and Henrik Danhage stealing the spotlight with his unbelievable, shredalicious and memorable solo spotlight.

“In Absence Of Sun” is heartfelt, melancholic, mournful and emotive while “You From You” has this Michael Schenker ballad like vibe in the intro.

Check it out.

Dee Snider – Leave A Scar

Dee Snider has a voice for heavy metal.

A simple dare from Jamey Jasta, brought forth “For The Love Of Metal” and it caught a lot of people by surprise.

“Leave A Scar” carries forth the metal torch.

With tracks like “I Gotta Rock (Again)” the intro riff from Bellmore is excellent and the drum groove smashes you awake.

Be a lifer til I’m done

But “Silent Battles” is my favorite track on the album.

The guitar riff to kick off the song reminds me of all the good things I like about the 80’s. I’m hearing George Lynch, EVH, a bit of Vito Bratta and Nuno Bettencourt.

Don’t leave your mark, leave a scar

There aren’t a lot of artists in their mid-60’s producing quality music like this. Dee Snider is doing it and he’s making it look very easy.

The Bellmore brothers are underrated talents as songwriters and instrumetalists, on the guitar and drums.

Check em out.

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1996 – Part 4.6: Steve Vai – Fire Garden

I sort of lost track of Steve Vai in the mid 90’s along with all the other instrumental guitarists I was into.

“Fire Garden” is his fourth studio album, released on September 17, 1996 through Epic Records.

As described by Vai in the liner notes, Fire Garden is a concept album divided into two “phases”.

“Phase 1” comprises tracks 1–9 and is entirely instrumental while “Phase 2”, features Vai on vocals on every song except the instrumental “Warm Regards”.

There’s a Fire in the House

The start of Phase 1.

This feels like it could have come from a Whitesnake album. David Coverdale would have had a nice time coming up with lyrics to the riffs here as it’s got that heavy rock feel from the “Slip Of The Tongue” album which although Steve Vai didn’t co-write, he recorded all the guitars for.

The Crying Machine

I like the funky rock on this and Vai’s lead for what I call the “verses” is excellent.

Then it moves into a Blues and Funk Rock fusion solo section.

Dyin’ Day

This song is listed as a co-write with Ozzy Osbourne as it was written during the writing sessions for Osbourne’s 1995 album “Ozzmosis”.

Another song from those sessions, “My Little Man”, made its way onto the “Ozzmosis” record and is credited on that album as being co-written by Vai.

I don’t know what Osbourne could have written on an instrumental song, however I am pretty sure contractually Vai had to add him as a co-writer.

How good is the acoustic guitar riff to start it off?

Whookam

Useless track of backward vocals.

Blowfish

Great track, with a groovey riff which wouldn’t be out of place on a Joe Satriani album.

The Mysterious Murder of Christian Tiera’s Lover

A minute of Steve Vai doodling and it’s somehow a track. More like a solo section spot light.

Hand on Heart

It’s a romantic power ballad instrumental. Press play on it.

Bangkok

Written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice. Yep it’s those Abba dudes. The sound of flies starts it all off and the flies get louder and louder and louder and then the music comes in, more soundtrack like with a classical exotic feel.

It’s a great track which segues into the best track on the album.

Fire Garden Suite

It clocks in at 9.56 and it has four parts in “Bull Whip”, “Pusa Road”, “Angel Food” and “Taurus Bulba”.

It reminds me of the progressive rock fusion of Al DiMeola and Dream Theater. It’s some of his best music.

Definitely press play on this.

This song also has Mike Mangini playing drums on it.

And Phase 1 ends here.

Deepness

Phase 2 begins here.

A 47 second song that features some vocals from Devin Townsend, actually more yeahs and ahhs then vocals.

Little Alligator

Vai’s take on the Blues is very Mixolydian and Lydian like instead of Pentatonic.

All About Eve

Vocally, Vai sounds very Alternative Rock like. But musically, it feels like I am listening to a Dream Theater album.

Aching Hunger

It sounds like a Prince song, like “When Doves Cry”.

Brother

Emotional song, with Vai’s attempt on Southern Country Rock sounding modern and great.

Damn You

I like the riff that starts it, and before bands like Stone Temple Pilots blew us away, I guess Steve Vai was already doing it.

When I Was a Little Boy

It’s a skip for me.

Genocide

It’s a weird title for a song which sounds like a stadium rock song.

Warm Regards

A relaxed ballad instrumental jam to end the album.

And the personnel for the album is extensive. Steve Vai plays a lot of instruments plus he produced it and engineered it and wrote it. He had five drummers come in. The bulk of the drums are done by Deen Castronovo, with Mike Mangini playing a couple of tracks and Chris Frazier, Greg Bissonette and Robin DiMaggio providing drums on a track each. Steve Vai plays most of the bass, but that funky bass on “The Crying Machine” is played by John Avila and Stuart Hamm appears on “Dyin’ Day”.

Phase 1 is exceptional.

Phase 2 is Vai trying to do things a bit different and add vocals to his solo career which didn’t connect.

In the end, the album is a fusion of so many different styles that it almost can be labelled a prog rock record.

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2001 – Part 4.6: Within Temptation – Mother Earth

Within Temptation is a Metal band from Holland.

Their style of Metal has symphonic influences.

It was “The Heart Of Everything” album released in 2007 that made me a fan especially the song “What Have You Done”. And I wanted to hear more.

“Mother Earth” is the second studio album released on 24 December 2000 in the Netherlands, and 21 August 2001 in other parts of Europe.

It was a sleeper hit in Holland, reaching the number 3 spot, two years after it’s release and in the backs of the second single “Ice Queen”.

Wikipedia tells me how the band was enthralled by a movie at that time called “Braveheart” and the Celtic influences are very evident.

The band is Sharon den Adel on vocals, Robert Westerholt on rhythm guitar and vocals on “Mother Earth” and spoken words on “The Promise”. Michiel Papenhove is on lead guitar, Jeroen van Veen on bass, Martijn Westerholt on keyboards and Ivar de Graaf on drums.

Mother Earth

It’s soundtrack music. Medieval like “Braveheart”.

Ice Queen

It’s a hard rock song, with the symphonic elements. Vocally Sharon den Adel is very Kate Bush like and early Pat Benatar.

Our Farewell

It’s a piano piece. Evanescence would become famous on their “My Immortal” ballad, but Within Temptation was doing it earlier.

Caged

The start reminds me of “The Last Samurai”.

The Promise

When the distorted guitar riff kicks in with the Symphony, I am reminded of S&M from Metallica.

Never-ending Story

A piano riff that keeps reminding me of movies.

Deceiver of Fools

The symphonic choir starts it off. When the vocals come in, they are operatic.

But Press play on this to hear how the guitars kick in at the 2 minute mark. Powerful and emotive.

Intro

It’s like a horror/thriller soundtrack.

Dark Wings

This song is excellent. A mixture of progressive Metal with the symphonic

Arjen Lucassen from Ayreon plays the guitar solo.

But press play to hear Sharon den Adel do these exotic like ohs and ahs vocals between 1.50 and 2.20.

In Perfect Harmony

The song is in a Major key so it has that happy vibe to end the album. You know those end scenes in movies when the goodies have won and the end credits roll.

By the end of it, I felt like I was at the movies. The music is cinematic and grand.

And the rise was starting. Austria, Belgium, Holland, German, Norway and Switzerland were on board. This is how artists did it. A few places at a time.

In relation to certifications, the album was certified Platinum in Holland and Gold in Belgium and Germany.

Check em out.

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Australian Method Series: Voyager – Colours In The Sun

Voyager is a band from the state of Western Australia. The band is made up of vocalist Daniel Estrin, guitarists Simone Dow and Scott Kay, bassist Alex Canion and drummer Ashley Doodkorte.

“Colours In The Sun” was released on 1 November 2019 via the label Season Of Mist. And for all my North American pals, please take note of the proper spelling of colours.

And they’ve been at for a while, since the early 2000’s. On Spotify I can see seven studio albums and I think there are a few EP’s in there as well which are not on the streaming services. I must admit, their band name reminded me of Star Trek, so I had to check em out.

Colours

A synth intro. Upbeat and danceable.

Once the vocals kick in there is a sense of euphoria to em.

And there is a lot of syncopated guitar, bass and bass drum like riffs. Perfect.

Severomance

More synths.

But it’s the drum/bass and guitar work which I like, with a pop like vocal melody.

This one just kept growing on me to become my favourite track.

And I like the guitar solo on this.

Brighstar

The keyboard/synth riff to start it off with the metronomic kick drum reminds me of Toto and I like it.

In the process it quickly become a favourite.

Saccharine Dream

A shimmering effect and a riff made up of single notes starts the song off.

Then a distorted guitar kicks in.

At 2.15, a normal 4/4 drum beat kicks in and from all the frantic beats, it’s amazing to hear just a simple beat. A stock beat.

Who would have thought?

So far a four punch knockout combo.

Entropy

A fast keyboard riff is played, with the guitars providing a djent like rhythm as its foundation.

Einar Solberg from Leprous (which is another favourite progressive metal act I am into) guests.

And I expected more from this song.

Reconnected

The fast alternate picking and double kick lines reminds me of Evergrey and its cabaret like piano line makes it sound unsettling.

It’s more like Power Metal.

Now or Never

It’s like a 90 second intermission, a short song to transition with. It has layers of synths with digital delay and a poppy vocal melody.

Sign Of The Times

The synths again and I like how they give the song a techno Ibiza like feel. But make no mistake, this is a progressive metal band.

And the Chorus can definitely etch out a living on the pop charts.

Water Over The Bridge

Man this song is heavy.

“The Distance” from Evergrey comes to mind during the Intro.

The video clip is hilarious as it shows the guitarists putting on some serious “stink-face” looks as they jam it.

Runaway

The synths again. They feel uplifting.

Then the guitars, bass and drums come in, to support the synth riffs.

And press play for the keyboard solo.

It’s a concise album, coming in less than 45 minutes and by the time it’s done, I’m thinking where did the time go, as it all finished so fast.

So if you’re into progressive music, then Voyager deserves your ear.

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The Record Vault: Al Di Meola – Electric Rendezvous

In 1980, Di Meola released the double album “Spendido Hotel”. Keeping with the Miami Vice covers theme.

And then the subsequent tour was captured live and released at the start of 1982 as “Tour De Force – Live”.

Towards the end of 1982, “Electric Rendezvous” was released.

The band for the album is Al Di Meola on electric and acoustic guitars, Anthony Jackson on bass guitar, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Steve Gadd on drums and Mingo Lewis on percussion.

God Bird Change

Percussionist god Mingo Lewis is still writing a track per album. This is his contribution.

The bass and drum groove throughout the song is a favorite as there is so much energy.

And of course there is a percussion interlude.

Electric Rendezvous

The title track at almost 8 minutes long.

The Intro is essential listening, with a clean tone guitar playing fast arpeggios while a nice relaxing guitar melody plays over it.

From 1.12 it changes. More Jazz fusion and alot of chromatics over time signatures changes.

From 2.11, a bass riff begins which the distorted guitars then copy. This creates a foundation for Di Meola to solo over, but it’s brief as they groove on the riff.

At the 4 minute mark, a metal sounding riff is played which allows Di Meola and Hammer to solo one after each other.

Passion, Grace & Fire

Paco de Lucia appears and the title of this song would be used to promote the run of acoustic shows that Di Meola, de Lucia and John MacLaughlin would do.

So there’s a lot of acoustic playing, fast fingers and lush arpeggios.

Cruisin’

Written by Jan Hammer it’s got a keyboard hook that is addictive and catchy.

It rocks and perfect for doing exactly what the title says.

Black Cat Shuffle

Written by Philippe Saisse, who also plays keyboards on this, it’s a blues groove with Di Meola’s Lydian and Mixolydian soloing.

The last 60 seconds has some great hard rock soloing from Di Meola.

Ritmo de la Noche

Lounge Waltz music with a Flamenco flavor.

Then some fast shred and make to the Waltz music.

Somalia

A short 90 second instrumental. Arpeggios and an exotic guitar melody as it’s centerpiece.

Jewel Inside a Dream

A riff that reminds me of ELP and their song “From The Beginning” dominates the song.

And you have Hammer and Di Meola trading licks on the keyboard and guitar.

I’m the end it’s a different album from its predecessors but still worthy.

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The Record Vault: Al Di Meola – Casino

Its album number 3 for Al Di Meola, released in 1978.

This time around its more of a band with Al Di Meola on all things guitar related, Barry Miles on keyboards, Anthony Jackson on bass, Steve Gadd on drums, Mingo Lewis with Eddie Colon on percussion.

While the first two albums had a lot of rock and metal overtones to it, this one leans more in the jazz fusion domain, in which Rock and Metal is not the dominant fusion partner as it was on the first two albums.

Egyptian Danza

An exotic riff made up of single notes begins this song. If you’ve listened to the first two albums it would be familiar, however if this was your first exposure to Di Meola it would be unusual and innovative, full of time changes, Arabic like influences and unison bass/guitar riffs.

It’s progressive and the drumming from Gadd thunders throughout the song.

Chasin’ The Voodoo

Percussionist extraordinaire Mingo Lewis is back again, with another excellent composition. He is the one that wrote “The Wizard” on the debut album and “Flight Over Rio” on the second album. From the whole album, this song is the progressive rocker and a favorite.

As expected, the song begins with percussion before a progressive bass riff kicks in. The drumming is frantic. Then the guitars kick in with chords and Di Meola’s superfast machine gun alternate picking.

There is a lot to unpack here, but my favourite section is brief, between 4.15 and 4.25.

And you’ll be pressing play on this, for the very underrated bass guitar playing.

Dark Eye Tango

A slow groovy bass line begins and when the drums come in, it’s like a wedding waltz, which Di Meola solos over appropriately.

At 1.38 it goes into a Latin/Flamenco feel, as the tempo increases and the solos while repetitive are catchy like a good Chorus.

Then at 2.57, a brief distorted guitar riff begins, which reminds me of Rush and Alex Lifeson, before it moves back to the Latin Flamenco feel, 15 seconds later.

On a sidenote, the keyboard riffs are great to play on guitar as well.

Senor Mouse

It’s a Chick Corea cover from Di Meola’s days in Return To Forever before he went solo. But he slows this one down and it doesn’t have the manic interplay of the original.

Regardless it’s still a good interpretation and it feels like the start of a movie.

Some sections are atonal and some sections are locked into a mode, with some chromatic notes being used as passing notes.

I like the bass riff at the 5 minute mark which Di Meola then goes into a flamenco like lead to complement. His palm muting technique is excellent.

Fantasia Suite For Two Guitars

It has four movements, in “Viva La Danzarina”, “Guitars of the Exotic Isle”, “Rhapsody Italia” and “Bravoto Fantasia”.

While all the ingredients are there for a flamenco sounding track, it’s more classical and Tuscany, then Spanish/Portuguese.

The section which I think is “Rhapsody Italia”, has strummed major chords with sevenths and ninths added while Di Meola throws in a fast machine gun lick here and there.

Casino

The closer. 9 plus minutes.

How good is the opening riff?

This album is a lot more experimental than the previous two albums and while “Elegant Gypsy” is the jewel in the crown, “Casino” shows a style that he would carry through from the mid 80’s and into the 90’s.

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1986 – Part 3.2: Queensryche – Rage For Order

“Rage for Order” is the second album by Queensrÿche, released on June 27, 1986.

The Queensryche Cyber Army are really good at keeping the bands Wikipedia pages up to date and super detailed. Everything that can be found on the a internet is included along with print media and newspaper articles.

Go to the Wikipedia page on this album and you’ll get heaps of information.

MTV was becoming a huge promotions vehicle for artists and 1986 was clearly becoming the last year that bands would experiment with the songwriting. After 1986, albums would become very MTV Friendly because all the artists wanted a piece of that pie.

Musically it’s an excellent album. Each song has a riff or a vocal melody that I like. From a song point of view, “Walk In The Shadows” is close to perfect.

Lyrically the album touches on subject matters I’m interested in, like government intrusion and corruption, technology and social issues.

Management and the Label must have felt threatened at the experimental progressive album delivered by the band, so it’s no surprise that there is a cover song, which then became the lead single.

And no one knew how to handle Queensryche.

They had opening spots with Ratt and Bon Jovi (seriously, what the….), AC/DC (good gig to have if you play similar styles but they are very different styles) and maybe the most compatible one in relation to “Metal”, Ozzy Osbourne.

The Tri-Ryche logo makes it’s first appearance as well.

I never understood how this album was ever labeled as a “glam metal” album, but the label had to make them fit somewhere along with some questionable clothing and hairspray.

Queensrÿche is the classic line up of Geoff Tate on vocals, Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton on guitars, Eddie Jackson on bass and Scott Rockenfield on drums.

Neil Kernon is Producing, Engineering and Mixing. Man of many hats.

Walk In The Shadows

Written by Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton.

It’s as good as anything that came from “Operation Mindcrime” and “Empire”.

I’m a big fan of the Intro riff (it’s great to play) and that Chorus is massive.

I Dream in Infrared

Written by Tate and Wilton.

It reminds me of Rush in the Intro and I feel like Crimson Glory took this song and used it as a foundation to build on.

But you need to press play on this for the acoustic guitar arpeggios and the haunting vocal melody from Tate in the verses.

Is it just me or does this track remind you of “Breaking the Silence” and “Waiting for 22” from the “Mindcrime” album?

The Whisper

Written solely by DeGarmo and the Celtic inspired Intro definitely gets me interested. Something that Maiden would use a lot in the Dickinson Part 2 era.

The whole song is what Metal should sound like.

Gonna Get Close to You

A Dalbello cover, although I didn’t know it at the time.

To cover a song from outside the genre you are classified in, is a sign of respect to the artist who wrote it.

Many years later, Lisa Dalbello would do guest vocals on Alex Lifeson’s “Victor” album.

Check out the way the verses are constructed, it feels ominous.

The Killing Words

Written by DeGarmo and Tate.

The keyboard Intro gives way to the guitar, before it goes into a soundtrack like verse. It’s very Marillion like and the vocals remind me of Fish and I like it.

But you’ll be pressing play to this song, for the section when Tate sings “Over”.

Surgical Strike

Written by DeGarmo and Wilton it feels more like a cut from “The Warning”.

And there are sections here which remind of “Speak” and “The Needle Lies”.

Press play for the Outro that begins from 2.40. You won’t be disappointed.

Neue Regel

Written by DeGarmo and Tate.

When I heard “A Perfect Circle” for the first time, I thought of this song. It has all of those atmospheric elements and outside the box sounds and composition elements.

This is how progressive music should sound like and it’s the embryo of what the “Promised Land” album would be.

But press play on this just to hear the power of Geoff Tate.

Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)

Written by Tate and Wilton, who brings the heavy metal riffs to the rebellion.

It’s put together in a progressive way as it doesn’t just follow the standard verse and chorus narrative.

London

Written by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton and it reminds me of the “Mindcrime” album musically and the song “I Don’t Believe In Love”.

It’s got a great Chorus, so press play to hear “London” sound like “Young Boy”.

And then hang around for the harmonies and individual lead breaks.

Screaming in Digital

Written by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton, musically it also reminds me of different songs from the “Mindcrime” album.

The electronic synths are dominant and Tate is very Peter Gabriel like in the verses.

But press play for the vocal melodies from 2.15 to 2.40 and stick around for the guitar hero lead breaks. And then those unbelievable vocal melodies come back.

I Will Remember

Written by DeGarmo, it has some nice acoustic playing from DeGarmo, a sign of things to come.

It was Certified Gold in the U.S.

To this Australian, it’s a criminally underrated jewel that was way ahead of its time and no one really knew what to do with it.

And I’m not sure if Marillion was an influence to the band at this point in time but goddamn this album reminds me so much of “Script for a Jester’s Tear”. Maybe it’s the similarities in vocal styles between Fish and Tate.

Anyway press play and let the sounds of love, politics and technology wash over you.

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

1996 – Part 3.5: Victor

If you search for Alex Lifeson in Spotify, this album would not come up, because even though “Victor” is a solo album by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, its released under the name of “Victor” and filed away under V.

Released in January 1996 on Anthem Records and recorded between the Rush albums “Counterparts” and “Test for Echo”, two of my favourite Rush records of the 90’s.

The musicians behind “Victor” are Alex Lifeson on guitars, bass and keyboards, plus spoken vocals on a few songs. Les Claypool makes an appearance on bass for “The Big Dance” while other bass tracks are handled by Peter Cardinali. Bill Bell is a Canadian guitarist who has toured and recorded with Jason Mraz, Tom Cochrane, Alex Lifeson and Danko Jones to name a few, also appears on guitar and Blake Manning is on drums.

For vocalists, Lifeson speaks on a few tracks, and a singer called Edwin (who I found out later is from a Canadian Rock band called “I Mother Earth”) does vocals on “Don’t Care”, “Promise”, “Sending Out a Warning”, “The Big Dance” and “I Am the Spirit”.

Another Canadian singer called Dalbello (otherwise also known as Lisa Dal Bello) appears on “Start Today”

“Don’t Care”

The track is written by Alex Lifeson.

The sound is grungy. But take away the studio sounds of the day and play the riffs through a 5150 amp, you’ll hear how heavy metal they are.

Some of the open string riffs do bring back memories of 70’s Rush.

Lyrically it’s so different from what Peart would write for a RUSH album. Its crude, full of fuck words and it’s basically about sex. The Rush elitists crucified him on the Rush boards back in the day for the lyrics. But Lifeson didn’t care.

“Promise”

Written by Lifeson and Bill Bell, it’s got this REM/Tragically Hip feel in the verses with a bit of “Limelight” in the Chorus.

I like the solo section. It has a riff which keeps repeating, while Lifeson does ambient like guitar noises and various note bends. It’s not technical, but its more abstract and it fits the vibe of the song. Then again it could be Bell on the solo. I don’t know.

“Start Today”

Written by Lifeson, check out the intro riff on this. Its huge, simple and yet progressive.

And Dalbello sounds a lot of like Geddy Lee when she hits her highs. A young Geddy Lee.

“Mr. X”

An Instrumental written by Lifeson. It sounds like a King Crimson cut, very Avant-garde, but the lead breaks are like blues jazz fusion.

“At the End”

Written by Lifeson and his son Adrian Zivojinovich. Adrian actually provides most of the computer programming which gives the songs he’s involved in, that Industrial tone.

Check out the riff at 2.24. I went straight for the guitar.

“Sending Out a Warning”

Another track written by Lifeson and Bell. And the riffs are interesting enough to get me to try and jam along.

The main riff by the way is excellent.

“Shut Up Shuttin’ Up”

Written by Lifeson and Bell, along with Lifeson’s wife Charlene and a person credited as Esther who basically provide the talking voices complaining about their husbands.

Musically, its funky, a bit bluesy and full of soul and every time the female voice overs say “Shut Up And Play The Guitar”, Lifeson begins to wail.

By the end of it, Lifeson is screaming back at em to “SHUUUT UUUP!”

For some reason, “The Audience Is Listening” from Steve Vai comes to mind.

“Strip and Go Naked”

Another Instrumental written by Lifeson and Bell.

The intro riff is one of this “Copperhead Road” riffs. Even Maiden used a similar riff on “Writings On The Wall”. Aerosmith on “Hangman Jury”.

But a Lifeson song moves within different musical pieces and this song is no other.

Check out the bluesy licks from the 2 minute mark over an ascending like bass riff and a strummed acoustic riff. And at 2.48 it goes back to the “Earle/Maiden” like riff.

But from 3.28 to the end, Lifeson takes that simple riff and makes it sound progressive. Listen to it.

“The Big Dance”

Written by Lifeson and Adrian Zivojinovich.

Man, that intro riff, so heavy.

And Les Claypool is on this, so the bass is prominent, syncopated with the kick drum.

“Victor”

Written by Lifeson and W.H Auden as the song is based on a poem written by Auden.

Its more experimental, with programmed drums and synths being prominent throughout while Lifeson recites the poem to us. It does nothing for me.

“I Am the Spirit”

My favourite song on the album and a perfect closer.

Written by Lifeson and Bell, it’s the most Rush sounding song on the album but the heavy rock sounding Rush.

“Tragically Hip” comes to mind here for the Verses with the vocal delivery, but musically, its Rush through and through.

The Chorus shows “The Spirit Of Radio”.

At 2.40, it quietens down and you hear some synth chords being played. Then Lifeson comes in with a clean tone guitar riff and man, what a riff it is. Different variations of it are heard throughout the song, but the way its delivered in this section, really brings it to life. One of his best riffs for the 90’s.

Then he goes into a guitar lead, which is emotive and perfect. But too short.

A great way to close the album.

Overall it’s not a perfect album and the spoken work melodies don’t really do much for me, but it’s that outside the box thinking which also draws me in, plus Lifeson always includes a riff or two in a song which makes me want to pick up the guitar and play along.

Check out this eclectic mix of blues rock, soul, funk, progressive, grunge, hard, industrial and alternative rock.

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