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

Diary Of A Madman

Back in the 80’s, I remember when songs of the 60’s and early 70’s used to come on the radio and I used to say, “really, play something more current.”

They sounded old. Fast forward to today and all I play is old tunes. Actually 70 percent of the music I listen to is pre 1995. More specifically; 1980 to 1992.

It’s hard to believe that “Diary Of A Madman” is 36 years old. 

Like the “Blizzard” album before it, “Diary” is a listening experience from start to end. And because of my addiction to the “Tribute” album, I was blown away by the depth of material on “Diary” that didn’t appear on the live album, like “Over The Mountain”, “SATO”, “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”, “Tonight” and the unbelievable title track.

To top it off, it clocks in at 43 minutes which meant back in the 80’s I could dub it one side of a 45 cassette tape and the other side I could devote to the “Blizzard” album. Those other 80s cassette dubbers will know how cool it was to dub.

Over The Mountain
The underrated drumming of Lee Kerslake kicks off the album, before Randy kicks in with the G#m pedal point riff. At a high level, the song is the evolution of RR covering Sabbath songs. The main riff is inspired by “Children Of The Grave”.

When it morphs into the instrumental interlude, the key moves to D#m and it’s a standard harmonic movement in baroque music. This time however, pull offs and hammer-ons are added to the 16th note pulse. 

Did anyone pick up on the “Black Sabbath” riff used before the solo break?

The bridge is very Rush sounding, which is simple power chords played over a shimmering and ringing of the open E and B strings.

The melody is pop all the way.

It is infectious and did anyone pick up Daisley’s reference to songs from the past like “Ticket To Ride” from Beatles, “Magic Carpet Ride” from Steppenwolf and “Shooting Star” from Bad Company. Maybe it was coincidental.

“Over the mountain, take me across the sky”
“Don’t need no astrology; it’s inside of you and me”
“You don’t need a ticket to fly with me, I’m free, yeah”

And that solo. It’s a masterpiece of Randy’s guitar style, combining Vivaldi inspired lines with tremolo bar dives, open string pull offs like in “The Lemon Song” from Led Zeppelin or like “Jeff’s Boogie” from Jeff Beck and combining it all with chromatics.

Flying High Again
The AC/DC style groove allows Randy to colour the spaces. I also do recall reading that Lee Kerslake came up with the vocal melody for “Flying High Again”. I am sure if I Google it, I would be able to find the link.

When Grunge came out, a lot of the reporters wrote articles that expressed how the Grunge players played with feel. And they generally compared these grunge players to all of the guitar players in the 80’s. What the reporters should have done is compared the “Grunge” feel players to the guitar players they wanted to compare them too, instead of generalising because Randy Rhoads played with feel and melodicism.

This song is a beautiful example of “compositional” guitar work. The solo is constructed and performed in the tradition of a classical piece.

“Got a crazy feeling I don’t understand
‘Gotta get away from here
Feelin’ like I should have kept my feet on the ground
Waitin’ for the sun to appear”

You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll
Daisley wrote the lyrics over an Ozzy hummed melody. Lyrically, it deals about record companies being greedy and trying to tell the artist what to do.

“Leave me alone; don’t want your promises no more
‘Cos rock and roll is my religion and my law”

Believer
The bass line is hypnotic and sets the tone for RR to colour and decorate a song about moving mountains with the power of belief. And there are some good lyrical lines from Daisley.

“Watching time go and feeling belief grow, Rise above the obstacles”
“You’ve got to believe in yourself, Or no one will believe in you”
“Their disbelief suppresses them, But they’re not blind, It’s just that they won’t see”

Little Dolls
It’s a track that belongs on an Alice Cooper album of the seventies, like “Billion Dollar Babies”.

Musically, it’s a derivative version of “Suicide Solution” in the main riff, a pre-chorus that sounds the same from “Over The Mountain”, a chorus section that sounds like it belongs on an ELO album and a bridge section ripped from “I Don’t Know”.  

Randy Rhoads did say in an interview that this song felt rush or the solo felt rushed (like he had to do it in one take). Whatever the case, this is probably the least known songs from the Randy era with Ozzy.

“The pins and needles prick the skin of little dolls”

Tonight
This song has two killer leads; the usual middle solo section and the outro solo.

“I hear the questions surface in my mind, of my mistakes that I have made
Times and places I have left behind and am I ever gonna make the grade?”

Daisley’s bass playing is also unique. It’s like a lead instrument over the arpeggios and piano lines.

S.A.T.O
Is the song, the initials of Ozzy’s two love interests at the time?

As good as the song is it’s the solo section that takes the song out of the stratosphere.

First, it’s over a 12/8 shuffle used more in the Blues genre (which Zakk Wyle used again in “Perry Mason” and it’s got all of Randy’s trademarks, from how he starts it off in the E Major Pentatonic scale and then he shifts into the C#m Aeolian scale which allows the listener to still believe it’s in E major, however RR has shifted diatonically to C#m.

It’s well known RR was no stranger to music theory, but he was one of those few individuals that put much of what he studied into practice.

Wind is high, so am I, as the shore sinks in the distance
Dreams unfold, seek the gold, gold that’s brighter than the sunlight

Diary Of A Madman
It’s a prog metal tune before prog metal became a term and a giant leap forward in composition and technicality.

“Diary of a madman, walk the line again today
Entries of confusion, dear diary, I’m here to stay”

At a high level, it is experimental music. The whole song is like a Randy Rhoads master class. Stand out sections is the whole intro section up to the first verse, and the heavy distorted riff before the dissonant solo break.

Bob Daisley wrote lyrics that referenced his own life.

“Enemies fill up the pages, are they me”

Daisley and Kerslake did not get any credit for having played on the album. On the sleeve, Rudy Sarzo is credited as playing bass and Tommy Aldridge is credited as drummer, however both people have come out and said that they didn’t play a note on the album.

13 years after its release it crossed the 3 million sale mark in the U.S. It took its time but all great things do take time to rise.

“A sickened mind and spirit, The mirror tells me lies, Could I mistake myself for someone, Who lives behind my eyes?”

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Tribute

It’s my bible.

I played the cassette tape to death trying to learn every riff and lick. And when I couldn’t pick it all up, I shelled out $50 on Wolf Marshal’s transcription of the “Tribute” album and I spent a lot of hours woodshedding to it. Even though Ozzy re-cut his vocals for the release there is no denying Randy Rhoads and his love for his instrument. The way he re-imagines his multi-layered guitar riffs from the studio versions and turns it all into one definitive guitar cut is brilliant. For any guitarist, new or old, this is it. It gets no better than this.

I Don’t Know

The “A” pedal point riff in the intro is an example of effective simplicity that Randy flourishes with harmonic pinches, artificial harmonics, legato licks and whammy bar dives.

Crazy Train

The demonic scary F#m intro merges into an A major trippy/happy major key verse before it morphs back into the minor key for the pre-chorus and chorus. How can you not like it?

And then you have that logically laid out, super melodic and shred happy solo section. What more can be said?

Listen and enjoy and play air guitar.

Believer

The bass line is hypnotic and sets the tone for RR to colour and decorate.

Mr Crowley

This is the first song I got stuck into. It has two shred leads and the way Randy combined those guitar lines into one definitive track for the “was he polemically” section is brilliant. 

Then the outro lead is just one of those songs within a song lead breaks.

Flying High Again

The AC/DC style groove allows Randy to flourish the spaces with trills and little licks. Again the solo section is one of those lead breaks that just blows you away.

Revelation (Mother Earth)

The finger picked part at the start is breathtaking, the interlude is subdued and relaxing but that outro is breathless. And the live tempo is much better than the studio tempo. 

Steal Away The Night

I love the intro riff and how the outro of Revelation (Mother Earth) transitions into this song. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing for drum solos or guitar solos just on their own. I would rather hear those things along with music. John Petrucci on the live Budokan album nails it with his extended guitar solo as part of “Hollow Years” song.

Suicide Solution

The riff and the groove just nails it for me, plus the lyrics from Daisley about Ozzy’s addictions are brilliant. Again, would have loved to hear Randy solo while the band played the main riff of “Suicide” instead of being on his own.

Iron Man

Would you believe that the first time I heard these Sabbath song’s is via Ozzy?

Children Of The Grave

After “Mr Crowley” this was the next song I needed to devour. I loved the way Randy plays the riff in C#m on the 5th string. That’s how I learned this song. It wasn’t until many years later I heard the Sabbath version and Iommi is down tuned to C#. I must say, I love the tempo of this live version. 

And that outro improv lead is brilliant especially when Randy starts to reference Ace ala “Love Gun”.

Paranoid

Again, Randy goes to town on the lead and he fills the spaces of the main riff with trills and licks. Brilliant improv.

Goodbye To Romance

The piece d’resistance in guitar playing. The jazz like chords in the verses, the arpeggio chorus riff and that guitar solo.

No Bone Movies

For a last minute addition to the album, the song rocks hard in a live setting. It’s sleazy and perfect for the era.

The album ends with some outtakes of Randy playing his acoustic instrumental “Dee”.

These day’s guitarists can do unbelievable and very advanced things on the guitar but none of them have the magic and song sense of Randy Rhoads.

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1981

Motley Crue – Too Fast For Love
I never heard the full album until well into the late Eighties. Coming into the “Girls, Girls, Girls” era of Motley Crue, the only songs I knew were the clips, “Live Wire”, “Looks That Kill”, “Too Young To Fall In Love”, “Smokin In The Boys Room” and “Home Sweet Home”. On top of that, I had digested interviews from Circus magazine and watched a very bad dubbed copy of the “Uncensored” video. The decadence of the Crue was already legendary.

So after purchasing the “Girls, Girls, Girls” album, I was walking out of the record shop, when a double cassette edition of the “Shout At The Devil” and “Too Fast For Love” albums in a discount bin caught my eye. So I stopped at the discount bin, picked up the double cassette, and by weight alone I knew that it had the cassettes in the covers. Thinking to myself that Motley Crue is worth it, I just slipped the double cassette album into my plastic bag and just kept on walking calmly out of the shopping centre. Once I was out of the building I sprinted for the next 10 minutes all the way home.

Needless to say, I didn’t return to the shop for a long time, just in case. So the version that I picked up was the Elektra release (without “Stick To Your Guns”). Many years later I would pick up the Leathur Records edition at a second-hand record store for $10.

Most of the songs had mostly been written while Nikki Sixx was in “London” (the band). “Live Wire” leads the album off with its “Girlschool”/“NWOBHM” inspired riff. Two so and so songs come after and them Side 1 closes brilliantly with “Merry-Go-Round” and “Take Me to the Top”. Nikki Sixx has stated previously that “Merry Go Round” was written about a person he knew in Seattle, who due to so many life pressures, just cracked and wound up sitting on the merry-go-round outside the apartment block that Nikki Sixx grew up in.

Side 2, to me, is the stronger side. It kicks off with “Piece of Your Action”, followed by the excellent and underrated “Starry Eyes”, which leads into the title track “Too Fast for Love” and closes with the real hit song of the album in “On with the Show”.

And for a young adult, Nikki Sixx did comp up with some brilliant lyrics that didn’t deal with their usual themes.

“You know he’s gotta get away to the merry-go-round and round, Count the times that he laid awake at night thinkin’, Am i goin down now” ….. from “Merry Go Round”

“With his six string knife and his street wise pride, The boy was a man before his time”…. from “On With The Show”

“But ya see, Frankie was fast, too fast to know, he wouldn’t go slow, until his lethal dose” ….. from “On With The Show”

Helix – White Lace and Black Leather
I didn’t get into this band until the 90’s when albums could be picked up cheap at second-hand record stores. Formed in 1974, it wasn’t until 1979 that Helix released “Breaking Loose” on their own independent label H&S Records. Then came “White Lace and Black Leather” in 1981. I gravitated to the longer non-formula songs on the album. The best tracks are always the ones that are not made for radio.

“Long Distance Heartbreak”

“I never meant to live this way
But somehow you are there and I am here
Somehow I just couldn’t stay
We changed so much with the passing of the years”

“Time For A Change” – with the chorus catch cry of;

“Mother Nature’s calling, can’t you see the signs,
Mother Nature’s calling, don’t you know it’s time”

And “Thoughts That Bleed” – that has that “Let It Be” Beatles feel with Thin Lizzy twin guitar harmonies during the intro and solo sections.

“You gotta live for what you believe”

From the first two albums you get the idea, that the RNR dream is proving to be a hard life for Helix, always on the road, away from loved ones and partners. By this stage, Brian Vollmer was the only original member of the band from its humble 1974 beginnings. And then Helix got a major label deal, signing to CAPITOL records after three previous rejections. This was in 1983.

Brian Vollmer put in 9 years of his life into Helix up until this point. It’s easier to be an accountant, a banker or an IT worker than in music. At least you get paid a fortnightly or monthly wage from doing those jobs. By the time “No Rest For The Wicked” came out in 1983, Helix’s image was polished up and the logo was redesigned to coincide with a new identity. Jeans and T-shirts (the street look they had previously) was replaced with leathers and chains (their new metal look) which in the end was the same as hundreds of other bands.

Ozzy Osbourne – Diary Of A Madman

The title track is one of those songs that summaries the style of Randy Rhoads.

  • Classical inspired metal riffs. Check.
  • Open string flamenco/classical sounding passages. Check
  • Dissonant jazz like chords in the verses. Check.
  • Arpeggios. Check
  • Shred lead. Check
  • Rock style riffing and power chords. Check.
  • Pedal point riffing. Check
  • Groove. Check.

But I get ahead of myself here.

As I have mentioned before, the “Tribute” album came first for me. The tablature book was my bible. So many nights spent practicing all of the licks and riffs in that book.

Eventually in the early Nineties, I got around to purchasing “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman”.

Like the “Blizzard” album, the “Diary” album is an experience from the first song to the last song. And because of my addiction to the “Tribute” album, I was blown away by the depth of material on “Diary” that didn’t appear on the live album, like “Over The Mountain”, “SATO”, “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”, “Tonight” and the unbelievable title track.

It’s a shame that the Ozzy and Sharon haven’t given proper credit where it is due. On the initial release, people believed that Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge played bass and drums. But it was Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake. In 2002, the album was re-issued with Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin re-recording the bass and drums parts so that Daisley and Kerslake get no payment.

And how good are the lyrics from Bob Daisley.

“Looking through eyes of time, Mirrors reflecting their stories untrue” ….. from “You Can’t Kill Rock N Roll”

“Watching time go and feeling belief grow, Rise above the obstacles” ….. from “Believer”

“You’ve got to believe in yourself, Or no one will believe in you” ….. from “Believer”

“Their disbelief suppresses them, But they’re not blind, It’s just that they won’t see” ….. from “Believer”

“Diary of a madman, Walk the line again today” ….. from “Diary Of A Madman”

“A sickened mind and spirit, The mirror tells me lies, Could I mistake myself for someone, Who lives behind my eyes?” ….. from “Diary Of A Madman”

Whitesnake – Come And Get It
The follow-up to the excellent “Ready An’ Willing” from 1980. Martin Birch is on hand to produce again. If you want to read a review that has a similar viewpoint to mine, go to Mike Ladano.

While the previous album had “Fool For Your Loving”, “Aint Gonna Cry No More” and “Blindman”, this one is loaded with the excellent “Don’t Break My Heart Again”, the “All Right Now/Feel Like Making Love” sounding “Come An’ Get It”, the groovy “Lonely Days and Nights”, the bluesy and moody “Child Of Babylon” and the “Led Zep” sounding “Till The Day I Die”.

As I have mentioned before, the rise of Whitesnake started with “Ready An Willing” in 1980, continued with “Come And Get It” and by constantly working hard, recording and touring, 1982’s “Saints and Sinners” would build on the momentum with the ultimate road/breakup song “Here I Go Again”.

“Every day of my life, it seems, Trouble’s knocking at my door, It’s hard to try and satisfy, When you don’t know what you’re fighting for” ….. from “Don’t Break My Heart Again”

“I’ve heard all the wisdom of prophets and seers, It don’t soothe my passion and it don’t ease my fears” ….. from “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights”

“On my day of judgement, I know how it will be, I’m prepared to meet my maker with no hope for charity, I’ll stand alone and pay the price, For everything I’ve done, ‘Cos there ain’t guardian angel, For a child of Babylon” ….. from “Child of Babylon”

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1980

A lot of my favourite albums from the past are always having some kind of anniversary each year. Since we are in 2015, I am feeling nostalgic, so I am going back to 1980.

Now let me be clear, all of these 1980 albums didn’t end up in my collection until the mid to late Eighties. Finances always proved a problem when it came to deciding what music to purchase.

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

To me, “Ready an’ Willing” is the album that started Whitesnake’s rise. It holds a special place in my life as it was the first album I purchased from Whitesnake’s back catalogue after the 1987 album exploded. And I was impressed. While the “1987” album is a classic, I really loved the raw sound on this one and the working bands attitude. You can hear it in the notes.

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

“Chasing rainbows that have no end, The road is long without a friend….” from BLINDMAN

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

In that same year, the Ronnie James Dio fronted Black Sabbath released their version of “Heaven and Hell”. As with all things record label related, this project was always meant to be a new band.

The first song written by Iommi and Dio for the new band was “Children of the Sea”. Geezer Butler was so set against continuing without Ozzy, so Iommi had Geoff Nicholls on hand to play bass on those initial sessions. It was actually Nicholls that came up with the “Heaven and Hell” bass line.

On board to produce “Heaven And Hell” was Martin Birch. That’s right, the same Martin Birch in charge of Whitesnake’s “Ready an’ Willing’ album.

“The world is full of kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams…..” from HEAVEN AND HELL

I purchased this album very late. It was actually after “Lock Up The Wolves” from Dio came out in 1990.

At that time, I had the cash and my plan was to get stuck into Dio’s past works starting with Rainbow. However, I also came across the Black Sabbath releases in the second hard record store and purchased all five albums, the three Rainbow albums and the two Sabbath albums.

I was blown away. I couldn’t believe I was that late on hearing this unbelievable music.

Who can forget “British Steel” from Judas Priest?

I purchased it on cassette, which I still have today. It was right after “Painkiller” came out. I knewe of “Breaking The Law” and Livin After Midnight” but man, there are so many other good cuts on this album, I was again blown away.

Produced by Tom Allom, it started a winning campaign for Judas Priest that still sustains them to this day. After “British Steel” came “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Defenders of the Faith”. They are still doing victory laps on the backs of these three albums.

“British Steel” came out at a time when “The New Wave of British Heavy Metal” was starting to gain momentum. Even though Judas Priest was around way before, “British Steel” set up a certain sound for the many bands that would follow.

It was also an album recorded with a tour already booked to promote it. So when the band went into the studio with a handful of ideas, it was up to Glenn, KK and Rob to sit around and bang out the songs. From that pressure, great songs was the outcome.

In relation the tour, it featured a young band by the name of “Iron Maiden”.

“There I was completely wasted, out of work and down…..” from BREAKING THE LAW

“Living after midnight, rockin’ to the dawn…..” from LIVING AFTER MIDNIGHT

“I’ve had enough of being programmed, And told what I ought to do…..” from YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE OLD TO BE WISE

Which brings me to Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut, an album I purchased after “No Prayer For The Dying” came out.

It was recorded in 13 days, aided by the fact that all of the songs had been well-rehearsed live staples. They fired two other producers before settling on the disinterested Will Malone, who basically gave the band free-reign to do whatever they wanted.

I first heard “Running Free”, “Iron Maiden” and “Phantom Of The Opera” on 1985’s “Live After Death” album with Bruce Dickinson singing, so when I first heard the debut I was taken aback by Paul DiAnno’s vocals. I hated them, as I was so used to Bruce Dickinson. But man, like everything, the harsher street style of DiAnno grew on me. And what about that wah riff to kick off “Prowler”.

It was also the album that gave people a glimpse into Iron Maiden and the artwork of Derek Riggs.

“Unchain the colours before my eyes, Yesterday’s sorrows, tomorrow’s white lies…..” from REMEMBER TOMORROW

Just sixteen, a pickup truck, out of money, out of luck, I’ve got nowhere to call my own, hit the gas, and here I go…..” from RUNNING FREE

“You’ve been living so long in hiding in hiding behind that false mask…..” from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

So what do you get when you finish the music for an album in six days and the entire album in eight?

Van Halen’s “Women and Children First” is the answer.

I actually heard “1984” first, then “5150” and “Eat Em And Smile”. So it was only natural that I went deeper into Van Halen’s back catalogue after that. There are a lot of stories about the making of the album, the photo shoot, which can be found here.

“Well, they say it’s kinda fright’nin’ how this younger generation swings…..” from AND THE CRADLE WILL ROCK

“Don’t want no class reunion, this circus just left town, Why behave in public if you’re livin’ on a playground?…” from FOOLS

“I’m takin’ whiskey to the party tonight, and I’m lookin’ for somebody to squeeze….” from ROMEO’S DELIGHT

The album holds a special place for me because of its jam orientated vibe. It’s basically saying to me, this is Van Halen and this is who we are in 1980. As a guitarist learning to shred in 1987, any piece of Van Halen music was seen as a must learn, however I never really sat down to learn anything from “Women And Children First”. I always said, I will learn “And The Cradle Will Rock”, but never did. That is why it is special in a silly way.

It’s actually funny, but the songs that I do play from Van Halen are from the debut album, the “1984” album, the “5150” album and the “Balance” album. Those are the albums I actually sat down and learned. I suppose, subconsciously, that I preferred the more pop orientated structures than the wild jam orientated structures.

What does a band do after releasing two massive science fiction progressive albums in “2112” and “Hemispheres”?

In Rush’s case, and Metallica’s a decade later, they both scaled back the arrangements and veered to shorter track lengths and more personal lyrical topics.  Longtime Rush producer Terry Brown was on hand again to assist. The songs from “Permanent Waves” are all over “Exit Stage Left” which was the only Rush album I had in the Eighties.  “The Spirit Of Radio”, “Freewill” and “Jacobs Ladder” all appear on the live album.

And when I purchased the album, “Natural Science” became a must song to add to my bible of guitar songs to learn.

This album also hold a special place in my life, because it was the first album I purchased based on a Dream Theater interview I read in the Nineties where they talk about their influences and it cemented my love for Rush. After this album, I was all in. It was only a matter of time before I purchased all of their other albums. If I had purchased something like “Hold Your Fire” first, then the love for Rush would have been very different.

So many great lyrics from Peart on this one as well.

“One likes to believe in the freedom of music, but glittering prizes and endless compromises, shatter the illusion of integrity….” from THE SPIRIT OF RADIO

There are those who think that, they’ve been dealt a losing hand, the cards were stacked against them, they weren’t born in Lotus-Land…..” from FREEWILL

You can choose a ready guide, in some celestial voice, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice…..” from FREEWILL

I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose free will…..” from FREEWILL

‘Freewill’ continues that sprightly pace, navigating a bouncy chorus hook and a theme about mankind’s lack of moral evasion.

 “We’re linked to one another, by such slender threads, we are planets to each other, drifting in our orbits….” from ENTRE NOUS

“Different eyes see different things, Different hearts beat on different strings…..” from DIFFERENT STRINGS

“Time after time we lose sight of the way, our causes can’t see their effects…..” from i. Tide Pools – NATURAL SCIENCE

“Computerized clinic for superior cynics, who dance to a synthetic band, in their own image their world is fashioned, no wonder they don’t understand…..” from ii. HyperSpace – NATURAL SCIENCE

“Science, like nature, must also be tamed, with a view towards its preservation…..” from iii. Permanent Waves – NATURAL SCIENCE

“The most endangered species – the honest man , will still survive annihilation, forming a world, a state of integrity, sensitive, open, and strong…..” from iii. Permanent Waves – NATURAL SCIENCE

“Wave after wave will flow with the tide, and bury the world as it does, Tide after tide will flow and recede, Leaving life to go on as it was…..” from iii. Permanent Waves – NATURAL SCIENCE

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is what happens when a technically gifted guitarist teams up with a well-travelled and experienced bassist to form a band around a washed up and intoxicated singer. It sounds like a plot line for a movie.

In order to go back to 1980, I need to go forward to 1988.

The “Tribute” album came first for me. The tablature book was my bible. So many nights spent practicing all of the licks and riffs in that book. Eventually in the early Nineties, I got around to purchasing “Blizzard Of Ozz”.  So many iconic songs on the album and the legend of Randy Rhoads will never be forgotten. Credit Bob Daisley, the unsung hero and creative lyricist.

The special part for me on hearing the “Blizzard Of Ozz” album is understanding the work that Randy Rhoads did to blend/merge so many different layers of guitars from the studio album into ONE DEFINITIVE GUITAR TRACK for performing live.

Brilliant.

I was left speechless.

It was an album that you needed to get to hear all the songs. These were not songs that could be purchased as singles and these songs were not promoted heavily on radio. We knew them only if we purchased the albums.

From the start to the end, the album is an experience.

And how good are the lyrics from Bob Daisley. So many brilliant lines.

“Everyone goes through changes, Looking to find the truth, Don’t look at me for answers, Don’t ask me, I don’t know…..” from I DON’T KNOW

“How am I supposed to know, Hidden meanings that will never show, Fools and prophets from the past, Life’s a stage and we’re all in the cast…..” from I DON’T KNOW

“Crazy, But that’s how it goes, Millions of people, Living as foes…..” from CRAZY TRAIN

“Maybe, It’s not too late, To learn how to love, And forget how to hate…..” from CRAZY TRAIN

“I’ve listened to preachers, I’ve listened to fools, I’ve watched all the dropouts, Who make their own rules…..” from CRAZY TRAIN

“One person conditioned, To rule and control, The media sells it, And you live the role…..” from CRAZY TRAIN

“I’ve been the king, I’ve been the clown, No broken wings can hold me down, I’m free again…..” from GOODBYE TO ROMANCE

“And the weather’s looking fine, And I think the sun will shine again, And I feel I’ve cleared my mind, All the past is left behind again…..” from GOODBYE TO ROMANCE

“Take a bottle, drown your sorrows, Then it floods away tomorrows…..” from SUICIDE SOLUTION

“Heaven is for heroes, And hell is full of fools, Stupidity, no will to live, They’re breaking God’s own rules…..” from REVELATION MOTHER EARTH

I remember playing pool at the local pub and the jukebox cranking ACCA DACCA’s “Back In Black” constantly. That is how I heard the album from start to finish, by waiting for the older crowd with more disposable incomes to get the jukebox cranking. And people wondered why we started to cherry pick songs from iTunes. We have been doing it since the jukebox.

The Eagles “Hotel California” and Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” are two other albums that I heard via the jukebox.

It was the antidote to New Wave and whatever else was popular at the time. Even in 2015, it still sells over 150,000 units a year.

“If you’re into evil you’re a friend of mine….” from HELLS BELLS

“I got nine lives, Cat’s eyes, Abusin’ every one of them and running wild…..” from BACK IN BLACK

“She was a fast machine, She kept her motor clean, She was the best damn woman that I ever seen…..” from YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG

“Hey there, all you middlemen, Throw away your fancy clothes, Way out there, sittin’ on a fence, So get off your ass and come down here…..” from ROCK AND ROLL AIN’T NOISE POLLUTION

“We’re just talkin’ about the future, Forget about the past, It’ll always be with us, it’s never gonna die…..” from ROCK AND ROLL AIN’T NOISE POLLUTION

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Curse of 27

I am sure that everyone has heard or read stories about rock/pop stars dying at the age of 27 and how that age group is cursed. Seriously, the question that needs to be asked is why aren’t all the of the ages in which a person dies cursed. Why isn’t there an age 24 curse, or an age 25 curse, or an age 29 curse, or an age 34 curse, or an age 38 curse and so on?

Why is the suicide by gunshot of Kurt Cobain at the age of 27 more relevant than the tragic plane crash death of Randy Rhoads at the age of 25, or the tragic bus crash death of Cliff Burton at the age of 24 or the tragic overdoses of Tommy Bolin and Paul Kossoff also at the age of 25?

Why is the drug induced heart attack of Jim Morrison at the age of 27 more relevant than the shooting murder of Dimebag Darrell at the age of 38?

Why is it that overdose of Jimi Hendrix at the age of 27 be more relevant than the cancer death of one of the most inspirational guitarists in the thrash/death genres in Chuck Schuldiner at the age of 34?

Why is the alcohol poisoning death of Amy Wineshouse at the age of 27 more relevant that the AIDS related death of Robin Crosby at the age of 42 or the alcohol related death of Bon Scott at age 33 or John Bonham at age 32?

What about the death of Marc Bolan a few days before his 30th birthday or Phil Lynott at the age of 36 or the death of Jeff Hanneman at 49?

I can go on and on.

It goes to show how clueless the mainstream reporters and news outlets are. The scary thing is that these so-called reporters/news outlets have the numbers and the reach, so whatever narrative they put out there, people accept it as gospel because the majority of people are generally too lazy to their own research.

In some of the discussions I have had with people, one of the arguments put forward about the 27 age curse is that those people who died at that age had exceptional talent and made a large innovative contribution to their musical genre. I tell them that I have no issues with their viewpoints, however there are also other artists with exceptional talent that made a large innovative contribution to their musical genre that died at different ages.

For example, Randy Rhoads.

Name me a guitarist right now that doesn’t list Randy Rhoads as an influence.

Name me a European born guitarist that doesn’t list Randy Rhoads as their only inspiration. Hell, look at most of the extreme metal guitarist and you will see a reference to Randy Rhoads in their playing styles. If you know who Alexi Laiho is, then you will know of his devotion to the school of Randy Rhoads. Dimebag Darrell also loved Randy Rhoads (along with Ace Frehley and EVH).

And it is good to see that every year there is a Randy Rhoads Remembered Tribute, so that we never forget the legend that he is.

The same can be said about Chuck Schuldiner who introduced a new level of technical playing to the death metal genre. Dimebag Darrell via his love for the blues introduced a groove to thrash metal that was never there before and in the process spawned thousands of bands in it’s wake. I love Machine Head and if you look at all of their albums, there is always a song on there that has the Dimebag Groove. Or is that the Dimebag Swagger.

Then you have some artists who at the time of their peak really went under the radar however their influence on the band they were in was mammoth. The artists I am talking about are Paul Kossoff and Robin Crosby from FREE and RATT respectively.

RATT rolled because Robin Crosby rocked and when he didn’t rock anymore, RATT ceased to ROLL. If you don’t believe me, then look at the songwriting credits on all of RATT’s biggest songs. The music scene is toxic and when artists fall, they fall hard. Robin Crosby is a perfect example of how toxic it really is.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Era Of The Song

The whole “we know how our favourite artists look” era is over. Blame MTV for making it happen in the first place.

Music television made the musicians mega stars. They took them from the magazines and the concert stages and put them into our TV rooms. It made an act that would maybe move 100,000 units in the pre-MTV era and turned them into Platinum superstars during the MTV era.

But the MTV era is history.

The era of recognising an artist and mobbing them is history. No one even cares how artists look these days. The song is back at the forefront as it should be.

It’s all about the song. Without it, you have nothing.

Pop Music might be in the press and reality TV shows might get the ink, the good thing (from a metal/rock head perspective) about those products is that their lifespans are limited. Their whole deal is the look. The song is irrelevant.

Meanwhile, the real good rock and metal artists are just working away and crafting their art, year after year. Music is a game of survival.

I remember I had a VIP pass for Coheed and Cambria’s Sydney show a few years ago. At that point in time we (my cousin and I) were not sure if it was going to be a meet and greet or an acoustic show. I was going up to the concert with my cousin and we were talking about the other band members. Apart from the distinctive look of Claude Sanchez, the other band members look like computer programmers.

If we saw the other band members in a line up we wouldn’t be able to make them out.

Which was a far contrast to the month before and the larger than life personas of Motley Crue and Kiss.

So we started talking about other current bands that we like. We both agreed that Robb Flynn and Adam Dutkiewicz are unique enough to be recognisable.

Yesterday’s hero is forgotten today. The internet machine makes them and spits them out. The only thing that survives is the song and that song needs to be great. It’s an artists greatest weapon in the battle for people to pay attention to you and to hang on your every world.

That is why I find Top 10 album lists interesting, because while they place the album high on a list, the ink attached to the album is all about the song on the album that connects with them. On occasions a few songs hit the mark. Very rarely do all of the songs on an album hit the mark.

For example, I am a pretty hard-core Zakk Wylde fan. The first reason was that he paid a true homage to Randy Rhoads (whom I am even a bigger fan off) when he joined Ozzy. While Jake E Lee and Brad Gillis tweaked and changed Randy’s solos, Zakk Wylde played them note for note. I remember a quote he made in “Guitar World” years ago when the magazine interviewer asked what is the thing that he likes the most about being with Ozzy. He said it was like being in a glorified cover band where you get to play your own shit along with songs from Black Sabbath, Randy Rhoads and Jake E.Lee in front of thousands of people each night.

Last year, Black Label Society released “Catacombs Of The Black Vatican”. The song “Angel Of Mercy” stood out right away. It is a constant on my playlist. If I had to do a Top Ten album list, then the album would be in that list purely because of that one song.

I dare anyone to name the full track list of their top ten albums for 2014 without having to refer to a visual aid to remember. It’s because we can’t. I would love too, like times of old, but I guess things change.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

George Lynch and Don Dokken

The history of George Lynch is a complex one to say the least. He auditioned for Ozzy’s band at the same time as Randy Rhoads did. Once Randy got the gig, Lynch got Randy’s teaching gig. He auditioned again after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads and this time he lost out to Jake E.Lee.

And then Dokken broke through with “Tooth And Nail”. They continued that momentum with “Under Lock And Key” and “Back For The Attack”.

And then it was over. Don Dokken said that it was the ego of George Lynch that broke up Dokken. Ego is a very ambiguous word to use. Ego means a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance, so I can’t see how if a person has a high self-esteem it can be seen as a negative or bad enough to break up a band.

What we do know is that Don Dokken was the one that got the original recording deal with Elektra Records. He got that recording deal based on songs that George Lynch and Mick Brown had written in their earlier bands.

This is the way Mick Brown told it:

“He took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract. So he called me up to play. I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs. But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started. I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” but he did anyway.”

And this is the way Don Dokken told it:

“When I went to Germany to get the record deal, they wanted to sign me as a solo artist. The original album, Breaking The Chains originally came out in Europe and the band was called was called Don Dokken. It was pretty rare. There were 500 copies of it that said “Don” on the cover. So when we got the band together, I just dropped the “Don” and we became Dokken.”

INSERT: Disagreement Number one.

The label then would not give any extra shares to George Lynch or Mick Brown, so the monies came from Don Dokken’s slice of the pie which was already pretty shitty and that pie got diminished even further when Jeff Pilson joined. This battle for an equal split proved to be a source of animosity.

INSERT: Disagreement Number two.

Remember Vivian Campbell. He was livid that he didn’t get an equal split from Dio. Randy Rhoads confronted Ozzy about the “Blizzard Of Ozz” band and why the album was going to be marketed as Ozzy Osbourne’s solos act.

However the most stupid thing any band could do is split up at their commercial peak.

On a press tour for the “Back For The Attack” Don Dokken said the following about George Lynch:

“I don’t dig him and he don’t dig me. But we respect each other as musicians. He can be a total jerk, but I’m not that easy to get along with either.”

Dokken (the band) at the time of the split were ready to re-negotiate their deal. They had the leverage and the sales on the board. They had Q-Prime Management on board. According to Lynch, Don Dokken didn’t want to share any new deal. He saw it as his band, with his name on it and any new deal would involve Don Dokken only with the remaining band members reduced to hired guns.

According to Lynch, Dokken told the band the following:

“I’m gonna try to take the whole thing and run with it, and you guys are gonna get left in the dust, and if you’re lucky, I might hire you.”

In the end, the band split. George Lynch and Mick Brown got a deal with Elektra Records while Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and eventually signed a deal with them. Jeff Pilson, who was in my mind the better songwriter got going with various other creative outlets. According to Pilson, the band had a lot of egos and it was those egos that got in the way.

“It wasn’t really that different from other bands with the exception that we aired our dirty laundry in public.”

That is true.

After the split, the bickering didn’t end there.

In 1990, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown went to court to stop Don Dokken from using his surname for any new solo band. They heard that Don Dokken was planning to release his first solo album as Dokken II. This didn’t sit well with them and they went to court to get an injunction to stop Don Dokken from using the name Dokken or Dokken II.

However, what Lynch and Dokken did was shoot each other in the foot. A good vocalist will always need a good guitarist and a good guitarist will always need a good vocalist. This is the secret of a lot of the bands successes. Vivian Campbell had Ronnie James Dio. George Lynch had Don Dokken. John Sykes had David Coverdale. Jimmy Page had Robert Plant. Paul Kossoff had Paul Rodgers. Mick Ralphs had Paul Rodgers.

And being in a band is not a guarantee. In the October 1989 issue of Guitar World it was a period of change for a lot of guitarists. Steve Stevens was on the cover with the headline, “Life After Billy Idol”. There was also a boxed picture of George Lynch with the headline “Bye-Bye Dokken”. Jake E.Lee was also featured talking about Badlands and life after Ozzy.

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