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

1984 – IV – The Warning

It’s time for another 1984 post. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 can be found here and Part 3 can be found here.

And here is the Spotify playlist.

Quiet Riot – Condition Critical

This album was always going to be a hard sell. Kevin DuBrow had troubles controlling his ego. He slagged off other LA bands who got signed to major labels post Quiet Riots success.

He said Ozzy sings like a frog, then Nikki Sixx and Rudy Sarzo got in a slanging match, with Rudy winning the day, with his quote of “the only difference between Quiet Riot and Motley Crue is that QR had a hit with somebody else’s song and Crue didn’t. But Nikki Sixx won everything else after that. And Peter Mensch who was managing Def Leppard at the time, said that QR had already peaked. If you don’t believe me, check out the article over at LouderSound.

So how do you follow up a number 1 album that had a cover song which also went to number 1?

You release an album with a different cover song but from the same band the first cover song came from.

All Quiet Riot did was make a shitload of money for the original writers of the songs from the band Slade.

The rewards go to those testing the limits. And Slade got the rewards, while Quiet Riot got their 15 minutes of fame, because apart from Bang You Head, Quiet Riot (the 80s version) really struggled in the songwriting department.

On this album, “Mama, Were All Crazee Know” and “Condition Critical” are worth a mention.

Actually what came first “Condition Critical” or Motley Crue’s “Louder Than Hell” (as it was called “Hotter Than Hell”) for the “Shout At The Devil” demos. Even the drum feel reminds me of “Too Young To Fall In Love”. And I dig the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Bridge/Solo section.

In the end, the audience might like where you’ve been, but if you stay where you are, others pass you by. That’s the Quiet Riot story.

And according to Wikipedia, this album is famous for a two word review: “Prognosis: Terminal”.

Strangeways – Strangeways

Not sure when this was released 1984 or 1986. Regardless, I’ll take the earlier date.

Tony Liddell is on vocals on this one and he would be replaced by Terry Brock who would be known as fronting the “classic” line up.

When I heard the debut, the following three tracks rock hard.

“Hold Back Your Love”, “Power Play” and “More Than Promises”.

Helix – Walking The Razors Edge

My cousin Mega likes the whole album, but for me, it’s these four songs; “Young and Restless”, “Animal House”, “When The Hammer Falls” and “My Kind Of Rock”.

Actually I dig the typical head banging riff, in “My Kind Of Rock” as it’s in the vein of Y&T.

Anthrax – Fistful Of Metal

The definitive story is over at loudersound.

Give it a read, but be warned, you just need to survive all the ads.

“Deathrider”, “Metal Thrashing Mad” and “Death From Above” are the standouts for me. And vocalist Neil Turbin is a bit over the shop, but hey, it’s energetic and trashy and that’s exactly what we wanted.

Hanoi Rocks – All Those Wasted Years

I don’t know what to make of this band or album. During my reefer days, “Up Around The Bend” always got me laughing and I thought “I Can’t Get It” was a Rolling Stones song.

Alcatrazz – Live Sentence

I picked this up on vinyl at a record fair in the 90s. I enjoyed listening to it and hearing Malmsteen before he became the fury.

Hiroshima Mon Amour has got the dumbest lyrics about a serious subject matter, but musically Malmsteen brings it.

There are a lot of Rainbow songs like “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “All Night Long” and “Lost In Hollywood” plus a cool cover of Michael Shenker’s “Desert Song”. The last two mentioned songs are not on the vinyl version.

And of course, Malmsteen is the star here, so he gets to introduce “Evil Eye” an instrumental song which would appear on his debut album.

Queensryche – The Warning

It was a game changer. Fates Warning built a career on this style. Mike Portnoy made the decision he wanted a Geoff Tate like vocalist for a band he was about to start up called Majesty after hearing this album.

“The Warning had a prophetic tinge, with an apocalyptic element. I suppose you could say it was a mystical look into the future.” Chris DeGarmo, Raw, November 1988

The Warning

“The song was about this gifted child who could see everything and knew what was coming, and it wasn’t a very good picture. A warning was being issued.” Chris DeGarmo, RIP, October 1991

Now see the hands of the working man
He’s leaning back against the wall
Once busy hands are idle.
Standing ready for the fall

We attach our status to the money we earn, the job we have and the life we portray to others. Unemployment is real and scary. And in the times of today, nothing is certain, not even employment.

En Force

The battered remains of a world gone insane

What’s happening to the world?

Money rules the day while all sides of religion are trying to keep their control. In the end, the ones who control the money will get a win in the short term but in the process there will be long term pain.

Deliverance

It’s the embryo of “Speak” from the “Operation Mindcrime” album.

This one is about a king who will die, to be reborn, so he can deliver them from the wrongs.

No Sanctuary

Oh, can’t you see the lies in front of you

A lot of us try, and the rest surround them selves with people who hold the same point of view as them.

Until the end I’ll fight and die to be free

No you won’t. You’ll do what you need to do to remain comfortable. No one likes to operate without a safety net these days and the ones who do, end up changing the world.

NM 156

It could have been on a Megadeth album about a dystopian Orwellian future.

Now social control requires population termination

When social control is needed, a war is just around the corner. Anyone seen the movie “The Purge”. For a 12 hour period, all murder and crimes are legal, so basically you have the poor and homeless who can’t afford security systems get eradicated.

Is that future closer to becoming a reality?

Microchip logic
Have we no more thought

I see people everyday spend forever on their Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat feeds. Just aimlessly scrolling without any thought, squandering their potential and power by clicking and following instead of innovating and leading. It’s exactly like they have no more thought and the microchips are the social tools who make billions from our personal data.

Take Hold Of The Flame

You can hear the embryo of the ‘Operation Mindcrime” album in this song.

“The song is about people who have missed opportunities. The opening line is, “We see the line of those who find the world has passed them by / Too late to save a dream that’s gone cold.” It’s about people who have missed their chance; they didn’t capitalize on their potential for whatever reason. The light just seemed to pass them by. We felt that we had ahold of the light, and when Geoff wrote the chorus, he rewrote it as, “Take hold of the flame.”
Chris DeGarmo, RIP, October 1991

So take hold of the flame
You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain

People don’t realize how much power they actually have. Our data made Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram billions. We watch YouTube videos instead of making them.

But it’s uncomfortable to take hold of the flame and the majority of people don’t like this responsibility.

Child Of Fire

It’s like “Children Of The Damned” from about the 2 minute mark.

Conquering masses in wonton deception
Blood red your black flag waves high

Any leader in a democracy who does the bidding of the Corporations instead of the people.

Road To Madness

Most of this is memory now
I’ve gone too far to turn back now
I’m Not quite what I thought I was but
Then again I’m maybe more

You know those times when people tell ya “trash is all your worth”. But it’s not the case. No one is special but everyone is worth so much more.

Foreigner – Agent Provocateur

Yeah, everyone knows the story about how “I Want To Know What Love Is” sold this album, but man, I was really surprised by the other songs, which are more or less ignored and “Tooth And Nail” became a staple for me.

Tooth And Nail

It sounds over produced on the album but I used to cover this song in one of my bands and that opening riff on my 5150 amp sounded heavy as fuck. People even thought it was an original.

Other tracks outside the mega ballad worthy of a listen are “That Was Yesterday”, “Growing Up The Hardway” and “Reaction To Action”.

That’s it for Part 4, stay tuned for Part 5.

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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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Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Message of 1983 Appeared Again Between 1990 and 1992

What do “Photograph”, “Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Rainbow In The Dark”, “Looks That Kill”, “You Can’t Stop Rock’N’Roll”, “Bark At The Moon”, “Rebel Yell”, “Every Breath You Take”, “Lick It Up”, “Tell Me What You Want” and “Sister Christian” all have in common?

Man, 1983 was quite a year, maybe the most revolutionary year since the 60’s and The Beatles invasion. It’s also the year that metal and rock music became a commercial force and a massive influence on society. Along with the rise of MTV, culture changed dramatically.

Metal and rock music made governments introduce censorship stickers on new releases. Leaders and their wives thought they knew better, so they lobbied hard to make sure we knew if the album had rude or vulgar or violent lyrical themes. Preachers and TV evangelists became rich and famous when they condemned the art form and told their followers the devil is on the loose, only to be caught with their pants down in seedy motels.

The satanic panic might sound funny today, however back then it was real. Lawyers took artists to the civil courts because suddenly when records got played backwards some scientist found they had subliminal messages telling kids to kill themselves.

Band T-shirts had been around before, but nothing like the 80’s. A whole new billion dollar industry came about, because of the imagery. We wanted the T-shirts. It told the world we are a member of the club. It was like being sworn in at a bikie gang and getting your patches. Today, the same T-shirts are found in Kmart and Target stores. Hell, one of the Jenner girls put her face on em for publicity. But back then, you had to go to the concert or to a specialised record store that sold them to get them.

And as the genre became more popular it became a part of pop culture. And people in the know keep telling us it became diluted because popular doesn’t mean it’s the best. It just means popular. And the more popular it got, the more dumbed down the music and the lyrics became. Everyone keeps on saying that hard rock and metal committed suicide because the lyrics that addressed society got hidden in the background for lyrics about having a good time, rock and roll and having a good time.

Maybe that was the case for a certain between 1986 and 1992 for some bands, but in my view,  rock and metal music got some popularity credibility back both musically and lyrically, with the excellent “Slave To The Grind” from Skid Row, Metallica’s self-titled black album, “Empire” from Queensryche, “Seasons In The Abyss” by Slayer and “Countdown To Extinction” by Megadeth.

These five albums released between 1990 and 1992 addressed a lot of issues lyrically and it also foretold the rise of a new scene that would address similar lyrical concerns like depression, anxiety, paranoia and dark thoughts.

“Foreclosure Of A Dream” is about predatory banks foreclosing on people’s houses, while “Della Brown” is about poverty/homelessness in an advanced society. Guess not much has changed in the 25 plus years.

“The Unforgiven” is about parental control of the infant, who is growing up in a family with views out of touch with reality. We are all products of our tribes. The viewpoints of people who are around us, rub off on us. There is no escaping it.

“Countdown To Extinction” addresses our quest to destroy the food chain for trophies which in the end leads to our extinction while in “Resistance”, Geoff Tate is singing about the environment and how this is our world, we all share it, we need to stop abusing it, we need to stop neglecting it and we need to co-operate in trying to save it. “Skeletons of Society” address the aftermath of nuclear war as the fools become the wise and the rich become the beggars as nothing here remains because the end came so fast.

Climate change and extinction of certain species is a divisive topic. You either believe the evidence or you don’t. Corporations that stand to lose money are doing their best to hijack the conversation to suit themselves and the environmentalists are seen as roadblocks to human advancements.

What is clear to me is that nature always win. As much as humans try to control nature, nature always strikes back with storms, cyclones, rains, earthquakes, rising sea waters, tsunamis, heat waves, wild fires, cold fronts and hurricanes. Believe what you want, but remember, nature is forever while we are not.

“Architecture of Aggression” and “War Ensemble” address war while “Ashes in Your Mouth” addresses the aftermath of war. And in 2017, war is still present. Budgets for war and counter terrorism teams is more than education and health.

“Slave To The Grind” is about working 9 to 5 and not wanting to do so, but fearing if you don’t do it, you will get left behind in the rat race. Even more so today. With our lives in so much debt that we cannot pay it back while we are alive, the rat race is becoming a race to the bottom of the bankruptcy barrel. People lie about how much they earn just to be a member of an exclusive club.

“Best I Can” addresses gun control and how accidentally discharging a gun at home can lead to serious consequences. “Hallowed Point” also addresses guns and what guns can do the body. In the words of Araya, guns can turn flesh into confetti.

This is a controversial topic in the U.S as the Constitution gives the people the right to bear arms and the gun lobby is powerful in Washington and leaders are too scared to pass/support laws because they would lose the support of the Gun lobby in their own electorates. So every President is faced with doing press conferences after a massacre and no President has passed laws to reduce the deaths of gun violence.

In Australia, we had the Port Arthur Massacre and after that gun ownership laws got changed and a lot of automatic weapons got banned and surprisingly the Government leaders stood firm against the lobby groups.

“Symphony Of Destruction” is basically summing up a simple man’s rise to become a leader of a nation which is run by a faceless government and then letting that power get to their head as they destroy the world as we know it.

“Quicksand Jesus” addresses a person losing faith in their God and then feeling lost without that layer of support they believed they had in God. Then you have “The God That Failed” which James Hetfield wrote about his Mum’s belief that God would cure her cancer instead of science and medicine.

“Monkey Business” addresses street social life.

“In A Darkened Room” addresses child abuse.

“Captive Honour” addresses doing time for crime.

“Don’t Tread On Me” addresses U.S pride while “Wherever I May Roam” addresses the human spirit of travel/adventure and having no place to call home.

“Wasted Time tackles the effects of drug use on people close to you. “Skin o’ My Teeth” addresses suicide by wrapping your car around a tree while “My Friend Of Misery” addresses depression.

“Get The F Out” and “Riot Act” tackle censorship. “Blood Red” is about supporting citizens in their fight for freedoms and rising against totalitarian regimes.

“Creepshow” addresses how people put it all out there for fame, which more or less is summing up Facebook and other social media sites 15 years before they happened while “Mudkicker” is basically about what trolls do on the internet today.

“Empire” address gangs and their rise to societal power while “Expendable Youth” addresses inner city gang violence.

Cycles come and cycles go in music. It was just unfortunate that the record labels abandoned musicians who got classed in a record label genre for a new record label genre called Grunge.

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

1983 – VII – Choirboy Lemmy Is Making Contact With Slayer and Queensryche

The Vinyl Story

By 1994, the compact disc industry (CD) had taken over. The most cherished vinyl collections of people became a distant memory. Add to that list cassettes. But something unexpected also happened in 1994. The third album from Pearl Jam called “Vitalogy” was released on vinyl for the first two weeks. And it sold and it showed the recording industry that there is life in vinyl. Fast forward to 2017 and vinyl releases are now becoming the norm.

But in 1983, vinyl and cassettes ruled. But the story of vinyl is more nuanced. In the same way 1998 was the peak of the CD, 1978, was the peak of Vinyl, according to the RIAA. Sales of vinyl decreased each year after 1978 until 1993.

By 1983, the mighty cassette overtook vinyl sales and it stayed this way until 1991..

And speaking of vinyl, check out the back cover of the first Metal Massacre album. Look at the Ratt, Steeler and Metallica line up. Hard rock bands, metal bands and more abrasive metal bands are all together. United.

The Punk and Speed Metal Crossover Story

It all started with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. As Punk music became a commercial force in the late Seventies, metal bands had to adjust their sounds and tempo’s in order to compete with it. So even though most metal bands hated punk bands, there is no denying an unconscious influence on the metal genre. As the article at Vice states;

“Consciously or not, a lot of the anger, aggression and speed of punk started seeping into the music, and Iron Maiden even showed their mascot, Eddie, with punked-out, spiked red hair on the cover of the band’s debut album. NWOBHM bands also adopted the DIY ethic of the punk scene, putting out their own albums and singles instead of waiting for the mainstream to catch up to their sound and give them a record deal.”

In the State’s the crossover of punk and metal happened around 1983.

As the Vice article states, each band had a member who liked punk and brought it in.

“In Slayer, it was the late Jeff Hanneman, and in Anthrax it was Scott Ian (and it also has to be said that even though Cliff Burton was a bell-bottomed hippie, he had more of a punk attitude than anything). As Hanneman recalled in a 2004 documentary, “I was really into punk when we were getting together… I forced it on the other guys…I loved the speed and energy, but I didn’t want to go with just playing chord patterns all the time, because that’s basically what punk is. I wanted to make it fast with good, heavy riffs.”

So what a fitting way to being Part 7 of my 1983 series with Slayer’s “Show No Mercy”. If you want to get re-acquainted with the other parts, here they are.

For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here. For Part 4, click here. For Part 5, click here. For Part 6, click here.

Slayer – Show No Mercy
Slayer’s debut hits the shelves in 1983, but I didn’t actually hear it until the late 90’s. This whole thrash movement has one unsung hero in Brian Slagel and his Metal Blade label. It all started from the “Metal Massacre” compilation and it kept on growing. A whole genre owes its success to Slagel.

It was Slagel who saw Slayer opening a show for Bitch (a band that was on the original “Metal Massacre” album. Impressed, Slagel asked the band to submit a song for “Metal Massacre III”. Soon after, Slayer had a recording contract and a few months later, “Show No Mercy” hits the streets.

“We did it every night from 11PM to seven in the morning. It was the only time this guy could get away with charging us next to nothing. We paid him for his time and for the tape. ‘Here’s a $400 check.’ We spent $1,500 for it in total. Kerry borrowed money from his dad to pay for half, and I paid half.”
Tom Araya – Loudwire

Evil Has No Boundaries
When certain scenes happen, the majority of the bands have the same influences or similar influences, so they start to do the same thing as other bands and there is a lot of copying going on. You can hear the NWOBHM (Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) in Slayer, with a special nod to Venom and Danish metallers Mercyful Fate.

Can someone tell me the difference between “Whiplash” from Metallica and “Evil Has No Boundaries”?

Who cares anyway, both songs are relentless and anarchic. The next re-iteration of the “heavy metal thunder” was faster heavy metal thunder.

Lyrics in the song are written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) and Kerry King, while King is responsible for the music.

Midnight has come and the leathers strapped on
Evil is at our command
We clash with God’s angel and conquer new souls
Consuming all that we can

I’ve always classed the “WE” in the song as a movement/musical culture. In this case, it’s the aggressive speed metal movement taking on the status quo.

Die by the Sword
It’s written by Jeff Hanneman (RIP) way before they were signed and it’s brilliant. The song has so many movements and so many different guitar styles/elements in it. It’s basically the style that Metallica would push even further between “Ride The Lightning” and “Justice For All”.

Mindless tyranny, forgotten victims

Governments create systems and Corporations create ways to make money from these systems. The Corporations then employ us to work. The banks then offer us ways to borrow from them and once we are in debt we are no better than slaves, the forgotten victims.

Metalstorm/Face the Slayer
The first 19 seconds is the embryo of the “Creeping Death” intro. James Hetfield or Kirk Hammett would have been influenced by it. Musically, it is a Kerry King composition and lyrically, it’s written by King and Hanneman

Your life is just another game

For the Corporations the game is to make money. How many lives they destroy in the process, is insignificant.

Queensrÿche

There is something unique about hearing the early recordings of bands. It could be the youthful enthusiasm or the fact that they wrote songs without thought of reward. When Queensryche started back in the early Eighties, they were called the Mob. Once they got management and a label interested, a simple search found another band with  that name.

“At the time, Chris DeGarmo, had the song “Queen of the Reich,” which was [inspired by] a nightmare that he’d had. We combined “queen” and “reich” and gave the result a new spelling. There weren’t many bands in the Q section of record stores back then, so that helped us stand out.”
Michael Wilton

Between 1981 and 1983, The Mob worked hard to save up enough cash to record a four-song EP. But they still couldn’t find a singer. They called up Tate who was still in the band Myth, and asked him to lay down the vocal tracks for the EP, and Tate agreed.

At the time of the recording, The Mob had three finished songs in “Queen of the Reich,” “Nightrider,” and “Blinded.” The music for another song was complete, but it had no lyrics. Tate liked the music and decided to write lyrics for it. The song would become “The Lady Wore Black.”

The completed EP generated a buzz in the Seattle scene, however major labels rejected it and Geoff Tate went back to Myth.

“We had four songs that we recorded at a local studio called Triad Studios. It was an eye-opener for us to be in such a big room and use analog tape and a big mixing board. We had a lot of fun, and it was a learning experience. Then we pressed about 20,000 EPs. Soon after, we got this amazing review in Kerrang! magazine, and that’s when everything took off. We all had day jobs—I was a resistor twister at this electronics place—and all of a sudden I hear “Queen of the Reich” on the local radio station. People thought it was some European band. They didn’t realize it was us!”
Michael Wilton 

It was the Kerrang review along with the sales of the EP that sealed Tate’s fate and he decided to leave Myth and join Queensryche full-time.

Queen of the Reich
While the demo was released in 1983, the songs are originally recorded in 1981. It’s a progressive metal composition that was way ahead of its time. The world also got to hear Geoff Tate, and they got to know one of the best songwriters in Chris DeGarmo via this song. I think it’s safe to say that Queensryche started off a New Wave Of American Metal Mastery.

“A lot of people don’t know about that song. A lot of people don’t care about that song. It’s an early song that was written and it shows. It’s funny the reaction you get, because it’s a lot of blank stares. In fact, it’s the same stare you get when you play a new song that nobody’s heard before. People just aren’t that familiar with it. Given there are a few hard-core fans that might know that song, or like that song, and know what it is, but the majority of the people there don’t. So it’s not really a song that I enjoy singing, strictly because, lyrically, it’s pretty adolescent. It was the first song written thirty-some-odd years ago and obviously I cannot relate to it anymore. I think, for performance, it’s always best for the performer to really believe in the material they’re singing or playing. If you don’t believe in it, it’s really difficult to get behind a song, do it well and do it at a level that comes across with any kind of believability. For me, I honestly can’t relate to the whole dungeons-and-dragons lyrical content of that song; it’s really cartoonish and juvenile to me”.
Geoff Tate 

While musically, the song is brilliant, it’s easy to understand why artists as they get older seem to steer away from certain songs because of the lyrics.

The Lady Wore Black

We sat for some time together in silence
Never speaking in words
Of all her thoughts she spoke with her eyes
And I listened remembering all I heard

All songs rooted in mysticism have their roots in real life situations and I am sure “The Lady Wore Black” would be no different. Hell, the verse above could be about a relationship going sour.

UFO – Making Contact
UFO is one of those bands who worked and toured quite hard and got stiffed on the money by managers and record labels. Even to this day, the re-releases of their classic albums just means a bigger pay-day to the record label instead of the songwriters.

To understand “Making Contact” you would need to go back to 1980 and Neil Carter is looking for a new gig, while still in “Wild Horses”. Phil Collen introduces Carter to UFO, who had just gotten rid of Paul Raymond. An audition was set up and Carter joined in the middle of recording “The Wild, The Willing and The Innocent”. Carter’s input came via backing vocals and the sax solo.

Then came the expensive “Mechanix” album, written and recorded at Queens’ studio in Montreux, Switzerland. After another commercial disappointment, Pete Way just stopped turning up and Paul Chapman with Neil Carter took over the bass duties for “Making Contact”.

“If there had been an offer I would have gone long before UFO made a move, to be honest. I have to credit them for giving me my first rock break, but the band were very limited on song writing ability and were always regarded as a pale THIN LIZZY clone. They were rock ‘n’ roll with a capital “R” and that led to some crazy times, poor performances and excess as you can imagine. I cannot imagine these days how I got through some of the situations that I was faced with over that period, and in UFO!”
Neil Carter

The line-up was Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Chapman on guitars, Neil Carter on keyboards/bass and Andy Parker on drums while Gary Lyons was on board originally and then replaced by Mick Glossop as producer.

They had a bizarre way of working as a lot of the songs were basically written as backing tracks with little or no thought of the melodies or lyrics until Phil Mogg actually did the vocals. A lot of the tracks were written and formed in the studio which is rather an expensive way of doing things! Sad in a way, but we had to get on with it and musically it made no real difference, surprisingly. I read a few things that Pete said about the direction the music was heading and, under my influence, how there were more keyboards etcetera, but UFO had always tried different things in the studio, long before I joined. For “Making Contact” Paul [Chapman] and I had to take control and use the studio time effectively. We were a bit more organized on that one and spent several weeks writing at a hotel in Sussex before recording it at the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. A lot of “Mechanix” was written in QUEEN’s studio in Montreaux… and that was expensive!
Neil Carter 

Blinded By A Lie
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg and it’s got a pretty wicked riff.

I got the information from a friend last night
And it looks so very different in black and white
I was “part of the second party”, that was me
Signed away my life, really couldn’t see

Is it about those dubious recording contracts artists signed in their quest for fame.

Call My Name
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

I met you watching the cars go by
You were there, every night, at the corner of elm and vine
And you had nothing to hide
For just a few bucks and you know it’s a free ride

One of the biggest problems for UFO was their lyrics. In 1983, we wanted the “rebellious, standing up to the authority” lyrics. Instead Mogg is singing about being in love with a lady of the street.

All Over You
It’s written by Neil Carter and Phil Mogg.

Dumb lyrics ruin a good musical song.

By 1983, UFO was playing the MTV catch up game and their past 70’s success was not enough to keep them going, so it was no surprise that they disbanded. Billy Sheehan started off the “Making Contact” tour, but things didn’t go too well and after Phil Mogg performed wasted in Athens, Greece, UFO was no more.

Motorhead – Another Perfect Day
Another band that was playing the MTV catch up game was Motorhead. Although Lemmy was a legend of all legends, the Chuck Norris of the metal world, he wasn’t a superstar in a commercial sense and would never really become one. But the man had a way with words. Eventually, he would make more money writing lyrics for Ozzy than what he did with Motorhead.

Here is a quick snapshot of some golden words in each track from “Another Perfect Day”.

I really like this jacket but the sleeves are much too long
From “Back At The Funny Farm”
Lemmy’s take on a straight jacket.

Bet ya thought I wouldn’t have no style
From “Shine”
Don’t judge Lemmy based on his looks and appearance.

But you know you ran out of money
Wound up on your knees
From “Dancing On Your Grave”
A Lemmy tale for a cold winters night, about Lemmy’s favourite topic, a woman out of money and resorting to a career on her knees to make it through.

Rock’n’roll music gonna stop the world
From “Rock It”
The start instantly reminds me of “Under The Blade” from Twisted Sister. I would have used the words, rock and roll music gonna change the world.

Two faced women, two black eyes
From “One Track Mind”
The social lynch mobs would tear this line apart for promoting violence against women.

The truth is only black and white
No shade of grey
From “Another Perfect Day”
The legal profession deals with the grey.

Never rise again, we lost a million friends
From “Marching Off To War”
World War 1 and the end of worlds’ innocence.

Here’s the story, there’s only me
From “I Got Mine”
Damn right, it’s only Lemmy and no one else.

You’ll find that I’m real bad luck
From “Tales Of Glory”
It’s as heartfelt as Lemmy would get.

Deal with the misfits, wipe ’em out
From “Die You Bastard”
Lemmy’s take on governments trying to wipe out the punks.

Musically, this album is excellent. The problem was MTV and Motorhead didn’t fit the MTV bill of marketable bands that looked good on video. So Motorhead would be that cult band that is forever respected but not as commercially successful as they should be.

Heavy Pettin – Lettin Loose

“Glasgow in the 1970s was all about learning through meeting people, going to gigs (Nazareth included), running around wild, listening to KISS, getting drunk and learning to play guitar, and meeting lovely creatures that produce little people from their insides. Most of my learning about music came from three distinct places during the 70s: The Glasgow Apollo (an amazing place to experience live music at the time), Listen Records, and my mates Mick and Stu (incidentally, I played in a band with these guys – we almost started World War III in Scotland with our band the Criminal Minds). Had it not been for these three elements I’d have struggled with learning about music and the music business. Glasgow itself was made up of many crazy people who lived in dreary rundown council estates. I was born in the backroom of a tenement house on one of those estates in a place called Castlemilk. I remember Castlemilk as a place of violence and early deaths. I also remember it as a place of adventure.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Heavy Pettin are from Scotland and “Lettin Loose” is their debut album. Brian May was on board to produce and then disappoint three-quarters of the band with the final product. Roger Taylor was even asked to leave the room as his presence intimidated Punky Mendoza from recording a lead.

“When I joined Pettin the band was actually called Weeper. But it was only used as a transitional band name. I only played in one band before Pettin. It was basically a bedroom headache called Zero Trap. Incidentally, if you have heard of the band The Almighty, the original guitarist, Tantrum, was the bass player in Zero Trap.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Music is a lifers game. You can’t enter it when you want and expect something gold to happen. It’s a long process full of highs and lows.

“We actually did better in America than anywhere else. The name was accepted in America without any problems. The record company had better fries to cook than Pettin. That was why we never made it in the States.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza 

A lot of people asked why Heavy Pettin never made it. Was it the band name, was it the lack of a single or as a record label exec would say, was it the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice of their lead vocalist”.

In the 80’s, for a band to make it, they needed a large push from their record label. If that didn’t happen, their recorded product would not get out to listeners. I didn’t hear Heavy Pettin until the 90’s, when I picked up their first two albums in a second-hand record shop.

“There is no doubt at all that most of the band wanted to sound like a Mutt Lange production. In fact, partly due to the influence of Def Leppard, Pettin lost the chance to be managed by Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein – Leppard’s management team at that time.”
Guitarist Punky Mendoza

Why have two of the same acts, especially when Def Leppard in 1983 are still very current and active.

In And Out of Love
The first 17 seconds sets up the song by using minor key (sad) with major key (happy). Overall, it’s a great song musically and the Chorus is pretty cool.

As a bonus, the “Minnie Mouse on helium voice” was not really relevant on album number 1, but it would be on Album number 2.

(In and out of love) she told me she loved me
(But love is not enough) oh, lead me away
(In and out of love) I’ve gone all to pieces
She can’t hear a word that I say

It’s a cool Chorus. Nothing original, but melodically its good.

Victims Of The Night
The 90 second intro is quality metal and for any people who said to me that Heavy Pettin is too light for them, I always tell them to check out this song. Because for 1983 standards, this song is as metal as it gets.

Can you hear the cries as they scream out in the night
The children live in fear, the victims of the night
(Raging like thunder) flashes line the sky
(They’re going under) too many young were born to die

The only time the title of the song is mentioned, and that’s in the first verse.

Take no prisoners
No-one stands in your way
Fight for your life here today

It seems like that every single day, especially right now. We are all so over committed with our banks/lenders, it’s a fight every day to keep a roof over our heads. Our leaders like to make war and in the process invite war back to the streets of suburbia. The war on drugs has been going on since the 70’s and almost 50 years later, more drugs are on the streets than ever before.

Rock Me

(They’re out there waiting) anticipating
(No turning back now) so get on with the show

The Rock N Roll show.

Once upon a time everyone could get a ticket at a reasonable price. Today, everyone can get a ticket at a premium price and depending on which credit card company you are with, you might have access to early pre- sales.

Roll The Dice

It’s basically a speed metal song.

You can’t get it all in your life
It’s the way you roll the dice

Damn right. Small actions each day lead to great changes in the future.

For an audience that was eating up the pseudo-Satanic barbed-wire pop metal of Crue’s Shout at the Devil, Pettin’s breezy melodic rock didn’t quite deliver the goods.
Classic Rock Magazine 

Choirboys

“We used to rehearse in a friend’s parents’ garage. Then we went into a shop that was in a deserted building that we rented from somebody for about a year. We did recordings in there and we did rehearsals there. That was at Rosebery in Sydney. It was a classic garage band. We literally rehearsed in a garage.”
Mark Gable

Choirboys is an Australian band, formed in 1976 on the Northern Beaches, about 90 minutes away from where I live on the Southern Beaches. By 1983, they had a record deal with Albert Productions, after a demo found its way to George Young.

“And then George rang me up and said ‘I like what you’re getting together Mark’ and away we went… And then there was no turning back. As George described it, ‘you’re on the treadmill’ and it’s a wonderful treadmill.”
Mark Gable

As soon as they got some momentum going, Mark Gable’s vocal cords ruptured and 1984/85 was spent in hiatus. Of course, once “Run to Paradise” came out in 1987, the Choirboys, would go on to fulfil the potential they showed 4 years earlier.

Never Gonna Die
“Never Gonna Die” is the lead single from their self-titled debut.

When the Fridays bring the weekends
The night will be our home again

It’s a pub rock song, about playing in a pub. You can’t get any more Aussie then that. Maybe our PM Turnbull can add Pub Rock to his list of Australian values.

The smell of beer and perfume

All of these places still smell on beer and perfume and whatever else ends up on the floor these days.

I don’t live for music, no
I say I live for rock ‘n’ roll
We won’t let them push us
We won’t let them touch us

It’s a melodic rock anthem.

Other tracks of note on the debut album is the AC/DC inspired “Talk Big” with some cool lyrics about people I am sure we have all come across in our lives.

And I’ve seen you kiss the feet
Of someone better than you

Yes, how many of those people have we met in life?

Well you Talk Big
But you ain’t got nothing to say
All that big talk
But your mouth gets in the way

In the end, all of that big talk lends to empty houses and loneliness.

Your With The Big Boys Now (Carrie)
The riffs in this song are brilliant and it’s got some tasty shred at the end.

You’re sleeping with a rock star
You’re with the big boys now

It’s all about trying to grow up to fast.

Fight by the Book

Another tasty guitar lead over an AC/DC inspired rhythm.

He gets his clothes
At the best store
He gets his hair cut for free
He never walks with the riff raff
He wouldn’t like to talk to me

We are the riff raff and we are the ones that drive society and culture. It would be great if we all realised it.

Bull Shit

I say the politics
Well they’re lunatics
They say it’s right
But we know it’s wrong
Spread the word

It’s all just
Bull shit to me

We used to call it once upon a time. These days, we still like to call it, however with social media and the need for everyone to be liked, we are hesitant.

On Twitter I see Zoltan Bathory get into a few exchanges with followers/trolls on his political and social views. Robb Flynn calls out Anselmo for racism and he gets his life threatened. Artists who supported Clinton, slam Trump and his followers and alienate a percentage of their fan base who voted for Trump.

Saxon – Power And The Glory

It’s their fifth studio album produced by Jeff Glixman and their last album on Carerre before their supposedly big money move to EMI Records in 1984.

Well, I always thought that was one of our best albums, because it was great to do it. We did it in Atlanta with Axis Studios with a guy called Jeff Glixman, and Jeff was great to work with, because he was sort of a pretty easy-going type, but he knew how to keep the band happy. So we’d go into the studio, and…he was a keyboard player and he’d have his Hammond organ, and he’d just say, “C’mon, let’s go jam some songs!” So we’d be there jamming some songs, and then he’d get off the keyboard, run into the control room, and say, “Right, we’re gonna do a take now!”
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

That’s a cool vibe to have recording an album, but not so cool when the band is forking out the cost of the recording. No wonder bands never recoup.

But Jeff got a good vibe out of us. But I could never understand why the critics didn’t like it, to be honest. It didn’t get really great reviews. But I like it. “Watching the Skies” is one of my favourites. And the actual title track, “Power and the Glory,” is brilliant to play live, absolutely. One of the best things ever.
Steve Dawson from Saxon 

The Power And The Glory
It kicks off the album with a riff that would have influenced Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes To Midnight”.

The General says we’ll will win the war,
Just sacrificed a thousand more

We just commemorated Anzac Day in Australia and if you read Anzac history, you will see how the British Generals sent the soldiers of their Commonwealth countries into battle first. While the young men got cut down by machine gun fire, the Generals watched from afar, safe from all the hell.

Nightmare
This song has got a cool groove.

That my nightmare begins where reality ends

“Take the blue pill or the red pill”, Morpheus said to Neo.

The Eagle Has Landed
It’s very Sabbathy in the Intro, just plodding along and building. And when the very “Stormbringer” influenced riff from Deep Purple comes in, it’s time to bang that head. Actually, when I heard “The Outlaw Torn” from Metallica, I immediately thought of “The Eagle Has Landed” from Saxon. The songs are very similar in structure.

The world’s in celebration
As we wait for your return
You took a giant leap for mankind
On another, on another world

The moon landing fascinated people. After another half a dozen more trips, the moon trips got canned. People got bored and didn’t really care anymore.

I had Helix, Great White, HSAS, Krokus, Arc Angel and I-Ten on this list as well, but the albums are not on Spotify Australia, so no commentary about them.

And if you want to listen to 1983-Part 7, click here.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Invasion Of Our Privacy

Heritage artists are outraged that people have moved to streaming and piracy instead of buying CD’s and vinyl. So they speak up about it and take a stand. But when it comes to their internet privacy being sold to a corporation, there is nothing. Not even a word. Is it perfectly acceptable to them to have their ISP giving up their browser history for profit?

Where is the anger, the protests, the outrage?

People are outraged that a reality TV show actor has become President and all they talk about are his links to Russia. But when it comes to their internet privacy there isn’t a word. Nothing. It must be perfectly acceptable to them to have the Republican’s allow their ISP to sell their browser history.

Where is the anger, the protests, the outrage?

Governments pass laws that discriminate against minorities and people speak up. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a show. So did Pearl Jam. But when governments pass laws abusing our privacy, nothing.

Where are the music heroes now, standing up for the majority of the citizens, instead of the minority?

Governments issue executive orders banning certain races from travelling to their country and there’s an uproar. But when that same government allows their own citizen’s browsers history to be sold for profit, there is nothing heard from the people.

Where is the uproar?

Metal and rock artists rallied to save the staff at Team Rock when they were all made redundant before Christmas 2016. But nothing from no one around internet privacy.

Why is it when it comes to protecting ourselves as individuals, we remain silent.

Governments deny climate change and people scream in protest. Governments take away our privacy and there is silence.

The reason why we have anti-consumer rules in the first place is because of corporation corruption. Verizon (along with other ISP’s around the world) decided it was a good idea to secretly change the wireless packets of its customers, so Verizon could track them on the internet without telling them. Or about how other ISP’s like AT&T and Comcast (along with other ISP’s around the world) who decided it was a good business model to charge their customers a higher premium for privacy. Or how CableONE thought it was a good idea to use the financial data they have on their customers to provide their customer service. If a customer had a good credit rating that meant good customer service and a bad credit customer meant bad customer service.

Geoff Tate/Queensryche nailed it with “Speak”.

The rich control the government, the media the law

Laws are getting written every day to benefit corporations who already have billions. And a little bit more of our privacy disappears more and more each time. And right now, elected officials worldwide are enacting laws that allow corporations to invade our privacy a little bit more, figuring we just didn’t care and are not paying attention.

So what happened to the voices now? The artists who decided to stand up against censorship, but not privacy.

We need more of them to speak up for our rights, like how in 1985, Dee Snider spoke up against censorship while the rest of the metal heads remained silent.

But in the end, the lyrics from Cog’s “Problem, Reaction, Solution” sum it all up.

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

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

Jet City Woman

It’s a Chris DeGarmo and Geoff Tate composition and another Queensryche single that clocks in over 5 minutes. It’s basically a love song and a road song rolled into one, but devoid of clichés and overused words. On the Japanese edition of “Empire”, Chris DeGarmo said that the song was inspired by “being on the road for a very long time and Geoff Tate was thinking about a woman he loves”.

In the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge, Geoff Tate basically said “”Jet City Woman is about a woman from Seattle.” Wikipedia tells the story that it was written about Geoff Tate’s first wife, who was a flight attendant

The song has so many mood changes that are absent from so many of today’s “hits”. Hell, the first 43 seconds of the song is all instrumental. In the FFDP/Shinedown world they would be into their second chorus by then.

INTRO A
0.00 to 0.07
The simple bass and high hats groove has me nodding my head almost instantly. It is not made for radio, but a radio hit it became.  It’s interesting how Eddie Jackson employs picks for the studio and uses his fingers for performing live. Using a pick, just brings out the mids so that the bass line stands out.

INTRO B
0.08 to 0.25
Then Chris DeGarmo comes in with a little lead break.

INTRO C
0.26 to 0.43
Then Michael Wilton comes in, with power chords crashing all around and the energy of the song picks up, with a lead break full of bluesy double stop bends. Check out the progressive way Scott Rockenfield drums this simple 4/4 section, especially towards the end as it phases from the intro into the verse.

I’m hooked by know.

VERSE 1
0.44 to 1.17
Then the verses come. The arpeggiated chords with the B and E as open strings, showed me a different way to play. Years later, I would learn that this method is something that Alex Lifeson employed a lot in Rush. Anyway, hearing the clean tone arpeggios, over the intro bass guitar line is familiar and new. Rockenfield makes the verses rock when they shouldn’t. For any drummer in the scene, listen and learn.

Every time I leave
You say you won’t be there.
And you’re always there.

The road songs are a dime a dozen. The best ones, live forever. “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Long Cold Winter” and “Turn The Page” are a few that come to mind immediately.

PRE CHORUS
1.18 to 1.33
The last word of the verse leads into the pre-chorus. Brilliant

Over a simple chord progression, I love the way DeGarmo and Wilton employ octaves to enhance this section. I never used power chord octaves prior to learning “Jet City Woman”.

What you do to me!
Waited so long I can’t wait another day without you.

CHORUS
1.34 to 1.52
There’s so much to learn as a guitarist in this chorus, like the phrasing of the power chords, the use of octaves to enhance the melody of the music and act as a counterpoint to the vocal melody, the way the drums groove and the bass locks in either with the drums or with the guitars.

Jet City Woman.
It’s a long way, home to my
Jet City Woman.
I see her face everywhere, can’t get her out of my mind.

1990 was an exciting time for bands who wanted to push boundaries. I had no idea that “Jet City” referred to Seattle. Listening to music and coming across unknown terms, led to research.

DOWNER SECTION
1.53 to 2.04
Back to the Intro B section lead guitar but this time with the arpeggios of the first verse.

By now, I was thinking, how the hell did this band ever open up for Metallica.  “Empire” was the only piece of music I had from them and three songs into the album, it was progressive pop rock, which is a far cry from Metallica’s technical thrash metal.

Then we are back to the verse and the song goes on.

GUITAR SOLO SECTION
3.38 to 4.12

A 30 second guitar solo is unheard of today from bands on the rock radio charts.

Tremonti and Alter Bridge are pushing some boundaries there. Sixx AM with DJ Ashba are also breaking out some shred. Avenged Sevenfold don’t mind going for a minute or two, however for the rest it’s like a 10 to 15 second section, if any. Unless you are on the fringes and have a cult following like Black Label Society, Evergrey, Protest The Hero and so forth. But this was a guitar solo from a band at their commercial peak.

“Jet City Woman” is a brilliant song that’s been completely forgotten. One YouTube user account has racked up 2,079,291 views. On Spotify, it has 1,525,122 streams. Compared to some of the junk songs that have over 100 million streams, these amounts come to nothing.

Megadeth’s “Symphony Of Destruction” has five times more streams than “Jet City Woman” and Megadeth didn’t sell anywhere near what Queensryche sold during the same period. It just goes to show that multi-platinum sales in the nineties mean nothing 20 years later if you don’t release music consistently and on occasions of a certain quality, the artist ends up a shadow of themselves or in some cases, they end up in the history books.

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

Best I Can – Chris DeGarmo

By the late eighties, Queensryche had broken through in the U.S, however failed to make a dent in the Australian market. I came across their name, when Dave Mustaine called them “Yuppie” metal in a Guitar World magazine, and Metallica had them opening on the “…And Justice For All” tour.

I wanted to hear their music. Records were expensive, so radio thrived. However Queensryche never got played on the radio in Australia. Then “Empire” came out and it was all over the record store. It was my first purchase of the band. A blind purchase based on the press I read.

“Best I Can” is the opening track of Queensryche’s biggest album. It clocks in at 5.30, which for the time was a rarity to have a song clock in over 4 minutes.

Chris DeGarmo is listed as the sole songwriter, in the same way, he is listed as the main songwriter on “Silent Lucidity”, the track that pushed the “Empire’ album to multi-platinum sales. So how do you follow-up your breakthrough album, which against the odds, was a concept album.

You follow it up with a kick ass rock album that tackles serious subject matter. And “Best I Can” has some serious issues to bring forth.

As DeGarmo once said in the October issue of RIP

“Empire was a change of direction, in that we just wrote about whatever it was we wanted to write about. It was all written while we were at home, so there’s a lot of inspiration from Seattle.”

In the Kerrang, June 1990 issue, Chris DeGarmo said the following for “Best I Can”;

“It’s about a young boy who has a tragic accident as a child, and has to overcome his handicaps to make something of his life, and overcome what others perceive to be a handicap. It’s a song, basically, about beating the odds.”

“Don’t worry, dear. He’ll never find the gun.”

And then, the ominous piano line kicks in and the child like operatic voices come in.

Brilliant.

Queensryche had my attention.

A child alone in daddy’s room
The gun was hidden here
No one home to catch me when I fall

Then the band kicks in. It’s a stop start of music and vocals, sort of like “Crying In The Rain” and “Still Of The Night” from Whitesnake but still it’s unique, it doesn’t sound like anyone else.

A young man now in a private chair
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare
But my dream is still alive
I’m going to be the best I can

There is the positive message that DeGarmo is talking about. The dream to be somebody is still alive, regardless of the situation. We are always looking for more, not satisfied with what we have. And music always opened up my horizons. “Best I Can” isn’t mindless dancing and money music. It’s grim, truthful and hopeful.

Geoff Tate had the following to say in the December 1990 issue of Hit Parader;

“Best I Can touches on gun control, but it’s really the story of a young boy who gets shot and is paralysed. He just strives to be the best he can be – it’s really an upbeat story.”

Tate further elaborated on the song in the December 1990 issue of Metal Edge;

“Best I Can touches on gun control, how a young child finds a gun in his parents’ room, maims himself with it and becomes handicapped but doesn’t give into his handicap. He keeps pushing ahead to be a better person and achieve his goals.”

I want to be a busy man
I want to see a change in the future
I’m gonna make the best of what I have
I want to write for a magazine
I’m gonna be the best they’ve ever seen
I know I’ll win if I give it all I can

The piano groove is back and it’s magic.

The man in the chair and the man that’s in my dream
I’m going to melt the two men into one

Chris DeGarmo’s idea to tackle subjects so far removed from the hard rock infrastructure proved to be Queensryche’s X factor in the musical industry.

It’s worth noting that DeGarmo’s musical influence far exceeded the amount of units Queensryche moved.

He inspired legions of guitar players to step up and be more complete songwriters. If I look at my favourite guitarists from the Eighties, not many of them wrote any lyrics and vocal melodies. They wrote riffs and leads.

For all of Eddie’s innovative guitar playing, David Lee Roth and then Sammy Hagar had sole responsibility over the lyrics and vocal melodies. John Sykes’s biggest career songs are co-writes with David Coverdale and Phil Lynott. Randy Rhoads needed the magical words of Bob Daisley to bring his riffs to the masses. George Lynch needed Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown to write lyrics and vocal melodies for his riffs. And the list goes on.

But Chris DeGarmo didn’t need a vocalist to write a complete song. He wrote the vocal melodies, lyrics and music to “Best I Can” and of course to “Silent Lucidity” which proved to be Queensryche’s biggest song.

I see the influence of DeGarmo in another favourite of mine, John Petrucci from Dream Theater.

I see the influence of DeGarmo in different genres. In the mid-nineties, Fuel came out with Carl Bell on guitars and of course as the main songwriter. Once Carl Bell left Fuel, the same thing happened to Fuel as to Queensryche, after DeGarmo left.

And Chris DeGarmo gave it all he can and he won.

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