Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Review in 40 Words, Unsung Heroes

80’s Forgotten Playlist

Spotify Playlist

A lot of good music came out in the 80’s that is more or less lost or forgotten or known as semi-obscure. Hell, there is no way the Spotify algorithm will be able to find it and pick it up.

Blame MTV. The show became popular because it had “hit video clips”. In order to get onto the show, bands needed a hit single. So even though bands went away and recorded a very solid album without any hit singles, the most commercial sounding song and sometimes with the most clichéd lyrics would end up as the single. And if the song resonated, people would highly likely go and check out the album or the back catalogue. This was good for sales and the record labels made a lot of money.

However, the MTV rules still apply today. We’ve come full circle. If you have a hit single today, you will rack up a billion streams on Spotify, which might get people interested into checking out the whole album or the back catalogue. But in most cases, people will be happy with the “hit” single and a lot of music is not heard. Remember a few years ago when Spotify did a check on their data and found over 20 million songs that haven’t even been heard. Think about the number. 20 million songs not even heard. That’s the competition for any new band. With so many bands/artists creating music, how do you rise above the 20 plus million songs that no one has even heard?

Does your latest release just add to the 20 million never heard pile or does it rise above?

And you need people to push it, talk about it and promote it.

Secret Loser
Killer Of Giants

Both tracks are from Ozzy Osbourne’s forgotten “Ultimate Sin” album released in 1986.

“Shot In the Dark” got the glory as the lead single and is probably the reason why the album is not available on CD anymore depending on who you believe. Overland brothers vs Osbourne, or Soussan vs Osbourne, or Overland vs Soussan.

At one stage in the late 90’s, this album was deleted and you couldn’t get any new copies. One of the Australian mags mentioned it’s because of Sharon Osbourne’s contract disputes with Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee. Maybe it was the authorship issue of “Shot In The Dark”.

Who remembers the movie “The Wraith”?

Charlie Sheen stars in it, as a person who comes back to life to avenge his death at the hands of a car gang (who got away with the murder). He kills his murderers by racing each gang member to death. Well, “Secret Loser” appears during one such car race and it connected right away with me.

How good is the riff?

Trapped in a lonely body
I’m losing control
Can’t show my emotions
And I’m losing my soul
Could it be that I’m obsessed with feeding my disease
I couldn’t make it known the hidden things no one sees

Daisley was pretty good at writing autobiographical stories of Ozzy. I think this one is no different, especially the line about how Ozzy is obsessed with feeding the disease and in this case, the disease is the persona of Ozzy being constantly intoxicated, drugged out and doing something publicly embarrassing.

I can understand that what you see
You think is real
But underneath the surface is a wound
That cannot heal

It’s almost like being a fly on a wall in a shrink therapy session. Just imagine the big bad rock star with an image of decadence and debauchery breaking down within the confines of four walls and a chair.

“Killer Of Giants” is as good and as classic as “Diary of A Madman” in my view. Musically, it’s excellent. It’s got that acoustic introduction, social and political lyrics courtesy of Bob Daisley, a great chorus and excellent guitar playing from Jake E. Lee

If none of us believe in war
The can you tell me what the weapon’s for
Listen to me everyone
If the button is pushed
There’ll be nowhere left to run

Daisley, grew up with the threat of the button being pushed. For the generation of today, the threat of nuclear war is in the past, forgotten. Then again, my kids asked me recently, what would happen if we go to war with North Korea?

Killer of giants threatens us all
Mountains of madness standing so tall
Rising so proudly it has nowhere to fall
This killer of giants

At the moment our leaders are having a war of words with “rogue nations”. While sticks and stones hurt, a barrage of words can undo all truth. Especially words tainted with lies. Sometimes, people never recover. Say the right words, make a difference and doors can open. Say the wrong words and watch doors shut and a very darker difference will be seen.

Jake E. Lee got really shafted with his time in Ozzy. He has no song writing credits for the “Bark At The Moon” album, which he should. And for “The Ultimate Sin” he has the credits, however the Osbourne camp are doing their best to kill off the album and hide it.

Little Fighter
Cry For Freedom

What can I say about White Lion that I haven’t said before?

With Vito Bratta, the band had one of the best guitarists ever. He knew how to decorate a song and his leads are little masterpieces themselves. The other key ingredient to me was when Mike Tramp wrote lyrics about society, the injustices in society and how if we don’t do something right now to protect our world, there will not be a world to protect.

And maybe these serious themes proved to be the downfall of White Lion. I remember Vito Bratta saying in an interview when White Lion played Castle Donnington. They came on after Skid Row and before AC/DC and while the crowd got into the party lifestyle lyrics of Skid Row and Acca, they just didn’t resonate when White Lion sang about Greenpeace or apartheid in South Africa.

Rise again little fighter
And let the world know the reason why
Shine again little fighter
And don’t let ’em end the things you do

The lyrics are written in a way that it can be about many different situations. It could be an inspirational message to a person who is down on their luck. It could be the words in the head of a boxer after he/she have been knocked to the canvas or words to a child who didn’t make the elite team.

The fire is burning
We lay our weapons down to rest
This war ain’t over
‘Till all the people will be free

“Cry For Freedom” is very Dylan’esque in it’s lyrics. South Africa and it’s apartheid policies always made the news in Australia. And when people have nothing else left except to fight for freedom and equality, then there is a high chance they would do so. The truth is, we are never free. Speak to anyone in debt and ask them if they feel free. Our lives are at the mercy of the banking system. In South Africa, racism was used to imprison people.

Our brothers in prison
But no crime was ever done
I call it racism
Ashamed I face my fellow man

Even in our democratic countries people are jailed for no crimes and unfortunately racism will not go away.

Musically, Vito Bratta kills it. All of those people calling him an EVH clone got no idea. It’s like calling LeBron James the next Jordan. Both can shoot threes, slam dunks and do all of the wonderful things players do. But both are different. Same deal with EVH and Bratta. EVH was technical but more aggressive in his style. Hearing EVH play sometimes, I used to get an image of him punching his guitar. The sense of melody that Bratta exhibits is fluent and theoretical. He worked within the modes most of the time, like Rhoads did which made it very melodic.

Bang Go The Bells
Desperate

Babylon A.D is one of those bands that fall into the “should have made it” category. They even caught the attention of Arista Records president and industry music mogul Clive Davis, who signed them at a live showcase in Los Angeles. Hell, their lyrics suited the era to a tee and the musicianship was/is top-notch. The problem (and not really their fault) is too many bands sounded the same and the music consumers/the fans started to get burned on the scene. “Bang Go The Bells” and “Desperate” are from the debut album, released in 1989.

Here we sit in this smoky bar
Two souls drifting through the world alone
Here we talk about life and love

Loneliness is humanities greatest disease. If someone is there, we wouldn’t be lost in the dangers of our own thoughts.

When your dreams seem far away
Take a moment to look over your shoulder
‘Cause, honey, you know I’m desperate too
Everybody’s desperate just like you

It’s not a sign of weakness to say we don’t want to be alone.

“Bang Go the Bells” is written by vocalist Derek Davis, guitarist Ron Freschi and bassist Robb Reid. “Desperate” is written by Derek Davis and songwriter Jack Ponti. Yes, the same Jack Ponti who co-wrote “Shot Through The Heart” with Jon Bon Jovi and went on to co-write the majority of the “Hey Stoopid” album with Alice Cooper and Vic Pepe.

From a guitar point of view, Dan De La Rosa and Ron Freschi bring all of the hard rock flavourings to both songs.

Speak For Yourself
Blood Of Emeralds

From Gary Moore. The songs are from “After The War” released in 1989. “Speak For Yourself” is written by Neil Carter and Gary Moore.

How good is the riff?

It’s a speed rock song and it’s lyrics are still relevant today.

Look around across the nation
Another league of morons marching,
Banners in hand.
Looking for another scapegoat,
Try to take away the things they don’t understand.

The older I get, the more I realize, I’ve got no idea where it’s all going and neither do the people we vote in, who are all beholden to the corporation which pays the most.

Somewhere in the darkness,
There’s a voice that’s crying to be heard.
You feel it deep inside you,
A voice that just won’t be denied.

Speak for yourself.
Someone will hear you,
Someone will listen.
Speak for yourself.
Who knows, you might change your world.

So true and so relevant today. People have exercised their voices with votes, but our leaders are not the problem. It’s the rich corporations in the background that are the problem. Then again when you get leaders who came from rich corporations, mmm, what does that say about the state of the world?

But in all seriousness, people power stopped bad legislation in SOPA and PIPA. People power started to ramp up to stop the Trans Pacific Agreement legislation because it was negotiated in secret and with the corporations present and then Trumpy came into power and killed it dead. Only to replace it with something worse, which we don’t know about yet.

They try to take away your freedom.
They try to tell you what you can
Or what you can’t hear.
Don’t let this moral suffocation
Make you turn out just like them,
Is that what they fear?

The internet has given people a voice. In the process a new on-demand culture was created. People are connected socially over vast distances instantly. And we love it. But corporations who have business models based on control don’t like it and they go straight to their lobby groups to get laws written to benefit their business models. They use laws promoted to benefit the people to take away the freedoms of the people.

For example, in Australia, the large retailers lobby group didn’t like Australians purchasing products from overseas at a cheaper price, so they lobbied hard to get a tax added to overseas purchases. In the end, this tax just made the overseas companies set up a presence in Australia as a big FU.

Copyright is morphing into a censorship law. Videos and posts get taken down due to copyright complaints, however when it’s investigated why the video or the post got taken down, it’s found that the person complaining didn’t like what was being said so they used copyright as a censorship tool.

“Blood Of Emeralds” is written by Carter and Moore again and its more or less an autobiographical song about his time with Phil Lynott.

I was down and out on Skid Row,
But I held on to my pride.
The darkest son of Ireland,
He was standin’ by my side.
We would sail the stormy seas.
Never looking back,
We were afraid of what we’d see.
Through the thunder and the rain,
The deepest blood of emeralds
Was running through our veins.

He covers his time in “Skid Row” (not the U.S band), moving on to Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott, the darkest son of Ireland and how they would cross into the U.S.

I was angry, I was sad,
Just thinking about the times we had.
I felt so lost and lonely too,
What could I say, what could I do?
And after all, the time goes by.
No one knows the reasons why.
You lived each day like there was no tomorrow.
You spent those years living on time you borrowed.
And in your eyes, all I could see was sorrow.

Phil’s passing and how it affected him.

Gary Moore in the 90’s went all blues and in interviews after the success of “Still Got The Blues”, he was very hateful to his original (he spoke highly of his covers) 80’s hard rock output. Regardless, Gary Moore (along with John Sykes, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch and Vito Bratta) are big influences to me. My guitar style is basically an amalgamation of those 5 guitarists.

With Spotify these days, I have no idea who plays on the songs, like I did in the past. On this album, Gary Moore had Neil Carter on keyboards, Bob Daisley on bass, Cozy Powell on drums, but Cozy didn’t drum on the two songs mentioned above. That was Simon Phillips, who would do also do work with AC/DC during the “Blow Up Your Video” era and Dio during the “Lock Up The Wolves era plus a tonne of sessions for other artists. Don Airey is also on keys for three songs. Hell, what a supergroup.

I Walk Alone
Badboy Breakout

I must admit I am a sucker for polished hair metal as it became known. “Tear the House Down” was the debut and only release from Hericane Alice and released in 1990 I believe, so I cheated on putting this one in this list. Anyway the band is one of many that got a major label deal late in the 80’s and were largely ignored by the record buying public.

The band was formed in Minneapolis in 1984 and after relocating to LA in 88, they got a deal with Atlantic Records in 1989. After the debut, the band recorded some demos with producer Neal Kernon for album number 2, however the shift in music happened and Atlantic passed on the option.

Sometimes your dreams can come true
You’re in heaven, for so long
Nightmares could happen to you
Just remember, life is long

The above is from “I Walk Alone”.

The career trajectory of Hericane Alice was like a dream come true, getting signed and recording an album with major label backing. However, the heaven of a major label turned into a nightmare.

No one can make it alone. We all need someone to listen to us, someone to speak to when we are down and out. Life is scary. Just google all the studies after studies that talk about suicides. People are killing themselves because they’ve lost all hope.

Meanwhile “Badboy Breakout” while great musically has lyrics about a load that’s ready to explode. Still, I am a fan of hair metal. (what a stupid name for music that’s more or less rock).

Ready Or Not
Sign Of The Times

“Out Of This World” was the follow-up to “The Final Countdown” and Europe needed hits to keep the momentum going.

Released in 1988, “Superstitious” took all the glory right off the bat, while a re-recording of “Open Your heart” failed to inspire the record buying public, except me, who has a 7 inch single of it, along with “Superstitious”. Other singles, “Let The Good Times Rock” and “More Than Meets The Eye” also failed to connect and the album didn’t do as well commercially as the previous album.

But to me, “Ready Or Not” and “Sign Of The Times” are the stand out tracks. But you had to be a fan to hear them as they only appeared on the album.

Rock me till I hit that floor
Rock me till I take no more
Rock this hungry heart of mine
Rock me down right to the ground
Rock me like you never done before
Then rock me just a little more

It more or less sums up the rock and roll show.

“Sign Of The Times” also has a signature keyboard lick that should have been as popular as “The Final Countdown” riff.

It’s the way that we make things right
It’s the way that we hold on tight
I know, it’s the sign of the times
It’s the way that we make things turn
It’s the way that we live and learn
I know, it’s the sign of the times

The sign of the times to me is when all our hope’s run out we just need to love one another to get through the day. It’s the way we live and learn. I guess we need a lot more of it these days.

The World Of You and I

It’s from “In God We Trust” released in 1988. The title track, “Always There For You” and “I Believe In You” might have had the attention and the MTV dial a song codes, but this song is a little melodic rock gem hidden on Side 2. And Stryper didn’t need auto tune to sound so in tune. It was all natural and kudos to Michael Sweet for penning such a gem.

You’re out there all alone
Searching endlessly for a home

There’s nothing like been away from home to actually miss what you have.

We Are Strong

Hurricane had some big name pedigree in it’s ranks. The brothers of Rudy Sarzo (Robert Sarzo) and Carlos Cavazo (Tony Cavazo) took the guitar and bass positions in a role reversal to what their older brothers played. If Rudy played bass, Robert played guitar and if Carlos played guitar, Tony played bass.

“We Are Strong” has got that “You Give Love A Bad Name” vibe and it’s a great piece of melodic arena rock.

Facing hard times
Hold on
Time’s still on our side

It’s easy to walk away and destroy what’s been built. So many walk away for reasons that are important to them and some need to do it to escape a hostile situation.

We’ve got to stick it out

Some might be saying for what. Sometimes people are stronger when they go their own ways, reset and restart.

Cry In Shame

It’s from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors, an Australian guitarist/singer who has this bluesy soul rock vibe that just works. And the problem with Australian artists breaking big in the U.S is the deals they sign with Australian labels, who then make it hard for the U.S labels to get a bigger piece of the contract.

Pickin’ up the pieces
Up off the floor
How was I to know
There was gonna be a war
Words of sorrow
Words of spite
Ringin’ in my head
Right through the night

Who hasn’t been in this situation? For me, it was more in the earlier days. As I get older, certain things that used to bother me don’t even get a blip on my radar.

Up all night
With a conscience fight
Just can’t sleep
So I put on the light

It’s so true after an argument. You can’t sleep as you replay it in your head and you get angry at the missed opportunity to say your piece properly when it mattered.

Time To Surrender

Poor, Kip Winger. His face was on a dart board as Lars Ulrich threw darts at him while Beavis and Butthead created a whole show around him. But man, the dude could sing and along with Reb Beach, they became a pretty good songwriting team, crafting some brilliant AOR/Rock gems. But this song is more in the vein of the hair metal vibe and it works.

The lyrics deal with leaving and someone needing to surrender to keep the relationship going, which at the start it looks like Kip is asking the woman to surrender, but by the end of the song, it’s Kip who has surrendered.

Regardless of the lyrics, the melodies and the music work and it’s a good hidden Winger gem from a pretty excellent debut album.

Rock Me

From Great White’s 1987 album “Once Bitten”.

We’d be so good together if we had the time
‘Cause being alone is a nowhere state of mind

Relationships need time investment. If you are not committed to invest, it normally ends.

I search the world for someone I’ll never find
Someone who ain’t the hurting kind

People get hurt all the time. Physical injuries heal, but our thoughts and feelings also get injured. These hidden injuries never really heal. The anxiety and doubt our thoughts and feelings put forth, amplify if they are not checked.

Rock me, rock me, roll me through the night

When the big chorus comes in, it works to a tee.

Great White in the 80’s and 90’s produced some good output even when the musical climate shifted to Seattle.

Today two versions exist, Jack Russell’s Great White and Mark Kendall’s version of Great White. And unfortunately, they are more remembered recently for the Station nightclub fire in 2003 that killed a lot of their fans when pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager ignited plastic foam used as sound insulation in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.

Run To Paradise

Choirboys are from Australia. This is from their 1987 album “Big Bad Noise”. The song is a classic in Australia, however in other parts of the world it’s unknown or it doesn’t exist. But it should. The song more or less sums up life for a lot of people. It has the partner you liked and how they sort of liked you, the friend who has an addiction problem, the parent who is losing control of their child as they get older and the other friend who drifts away as they get older.

And Paradise can be a city, a town or a place in time in the past that was just perfect, before the big bad world got in the way.

Baby, you were always gonna be the one
You only ever did it just for fun
But you run to paradise

The immortal opening lines of the song. The chord progression is similar to “Crazy Train” moving from the A to the E to the D.

Jenny, I’ll meet you at the grocery store
You don’t need a friend when you can score
You run to paradise

About the friend who isn’t a friend when they are high.

Jesus say’s it’s gonna be all right
He’s gonna pat my back so I can walk in the light
But it’s not alright sometimes.

The Morning After
Closer To My Heart
Looking For Love

“The Morning After” is from the 3x U.S platinum “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. “Closer To My Heart” is from the 2x U.S platinum “Invasion Of Your Privacy” album released in 1985 and “Looking For Love” is from the 1x U.S platinum “Dancing Undercover”.

Let’s start off with “The Morning After”.

How good is that intro riff?

The song is credited to Crosby, DeMartini and Pearcy so I have no idea who wrote the intro riff but as a betting man and after reading Pearcy’s biography, I’ll put money on Crosby as Pearcy described him as the Ratt and Roller Riff Meister.

Also that little harmony lead at the end of the solo is brilliant.

Lyrically, Pearcy talks about going home with someone, lifting skirts and then leaving the morning after, when it’s time.

“Closer To My Heart” is written by Crosby and Pearcy and while it may be classed as a ballad today, it was never viewed as a ballad back in the day.

I listen to you, are you listening to me
The way that you are, it’s easy to see
Feelings for you, now I feel free
I’m lost in time

Love is a two-way street. Both sides have a chance to speak and both sides are meant to listen. In the Ballad of Stephen Pearcy, his partner is not listening to him anymore and he’s fallen out of love.

Indecision, it’s all been heard
No more confusion, the page has turned

Moving on is the hardest thing to do in relationships. Friends pick sides and a sense of familiarity is replaced with the unfamiliar.

“Looking For Love” is written by Crosby, Pearcy and bassist Juan Croucier.

I’m lookin’ for you
You’re lookin’ for me
It’s nothing new
You’re only looking for love
I know it’s true
You know it’s me
I know it’s you
You’re only looking for love

It’s a pop chorus full of clichés and overused rhymes and as good as any pop chorus today. Croucier was also an underrated songwriter within the band, producing a lot of songs and due to whatever politics those songs wouldn’t get considered. So while the singles from the album took all the thunder, the above three tracks should not be seen as poor cousins.

Makin Magic
Flight To Nowhere

Tesla. A massive favourite of mine. Their hard rock vibe mixed with southern rock mixed with Randy Rhoads/Michael Schenker/Angus Young/Eric Clapton guitar playing was huge on my song writing. Hell, I even re-wrote “The Great Radio Controversy” in my own way, meaning I wrote songs similar to all of the songs on this album. And man didn’t this album have some big tunes in “Love Song”, “The Way It Is”, “Heavens Trail”, “Paradise” and “Hang Tough”. But these two songs “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have enough metal in em, to break some teeth and they need more love.

Musically, “Makin Magic” and “Flight To Nowhere” have no filler and are chock full of riffs and great leads and great harmonies. Especially the arpeggiated pull off lick in the “Making Magic” chorus.

Now, I don’t wanna waste your time
I only want to satisfy
So wind me up and watch me go
I’m gettin’ crazy as the night unfolds

Men don’t need much winding up to get going.

I got you, now you got me
Feels so good to be
Makin’ magic, makin’ magic
It ain’t no mystery, come on

Bring on the clichés with heaps of melody. Love it. Moving on to “Flight To Nowhere” .

Look at me, I’m young and bold
Even though I may be growin’ old
I’m never slowin’ down

Life is fleeting. Enjoy it, as you are a long time gone.

Opinion is a piece of mind
Some are good, some are just like
Where the sun don’t shine

So true. Unfortunately, people allow opinions to get the better of them. Treat opinions as just that, opinions, not truth.

Now there’s one more thing I would like to say
This is everybody’s world
And everybody’s gonna live it their own way
No matter what we say, yeah

Be tolerant of all, it’s much better. The sad part is money rules the day and as long as people care more about money, hate will thrive and indifference will not be tolerated.

Troubled minds are full of hate
Willin’ to destroy the human race

The world has vehicles being driven into crowds and bombs going off in crowded market places. What’s next, back to public executions?

(Goin’ down) On a flight to nowhere

Are we too far gone to save ourselves? I don’t believe so.

Midnight/Tornado

From Skid Row’s debut album. After a lot of false starts trying to find the right lead singer that was MTV friendly, Skid Row finally got it going with Sebastian Bach and the recording contract was enacted. But to be honest, I prefer the Brain Fallon demo version found on YouTube. The rawness in Fallon’s voice gave the song what it needed.

Musically and melodically the song is brilliant. Lyrically it talks about a person prowling the streets and coming alive after midnight. Can’t say I am a fan of the words and I would love to hear this song with better lyrics.

Hard As Iron

From the much maligned “Ram It Down” album released in 1988.

I’m blazing on to glory
There’s thunder in my veins
And nothing stands before me
Forever I’ll remain
Hard as iron
Sharp as steel
Stop for no man
You better beg and kneel

Is Halford singing about the metal movement or some mysterious being that’s hard as iron and sharp as steel?

Who cares right?

The song is a five-star speed metal ditty that has all the things in it, people in the 90’s came to hate.

Set The World Afire

From Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What” album released in 1988.

Red flesh cloud’s choking out the morning sky
They said it’d never come, we knew it was a lie

Once upon a time nuclear war was the threat in people’s minds. That 80’s TV movie about a nuclear bomb being dropped on a normal U.S town didn’t help either. Today, global warming is a threat. People either don’t care about it or they do, but they shouldn’t ignore it.

Distorted figures walk the street, it’s 1989
Weeds once underneath your feet have grown to vines

It makes me think of the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend”.

Dig deep piles of rubble and ruins
Towering overhead both far and wide
Einstein said ‘ We’ll use rocks on the other side ‘
No survivors set the world afire

For all of the drugs and alcohol Mustaine consumed, you would think he would be a vegetable. But he isn’t and his lyrics are evidence of a person who has read far and wide and digested information.

The Transformers Theme

From the 1986 “Transformers” cartoon movie. The movie started off with all of the Autobots fans knew getting killed off in the first 15 minutes. And it’s got a wicked soundtrack, along with Stan Bush’s “The Touch”, this remake of the cartoon theme into a hair metal track also works.

Lion was formed when two UK artists, vocalist Kal Swann and guitarist Tony Smith located to the U.S and teamed up with bassist Alex Campbell and drummer Mark Edwards from Steeler. After the demo was recorded, Doug Aldrich (yes the same Doug Aldrich that went on to join Dio, Whitesnake and now plays with Revolution Saints) was recruited to replace Smith on guitar and basses Jerry Best replaced Campbell.

Now check out the connections between Lion and some of the bands above.

Aldrich would replace Robert Sarzo in Hurricane for one album, “Slave To The Thrill”. Swan and Aldrich would get together with former Hericane Alice members Jackie Ramos and Ian Mayo to form Bad Moon Rising. Jerry Best would later re-appear in Freak of Nature, featuring former White Lion vocalist Mike Tramp.

Lioooooon, more than meets the eye…

Hearts On Fire – John Cafferty
No Easy Way Out – Robert Tepper
The Sweetest Victory – Touch

The above three tracks are from the unbelievable and super melodic rock “Rocky IV” soundtrack. Stallone sure knew how to pick a song for his movies. From memory, I believe the movie and soundtrack came out in 1985. I still have the cassette to it and in the 90’s I found the LP in a second-hand record shop. Hell, the Rocky IV soundtrack kick started the melodic rock revolution, especially in Europe.

John Cafferty is the cheaper version of Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. If a movie needed a song that sounded like a Springsteen or Adams song, Cafferty was your man. I first came across his music with the “Eddie and The Cruisers” movie and what a soundtrack he wrote for it. “On The Dark Side”, “Season In Hell” and “Tender Years” are as good as all of the hits from the 80’s.

“Hearts On Fire” is not written by Cafferty. In this case he’s just the performer. Actual songwriters are Vince DiCola, Ed Fruge and Joe Esposito. Vince DiCola is the person responsible for the excellent training montage and the end fight music between Rocky and Drago.

Silent darkness creeps into your soul
And removes the light of self-control
The cave that holds you captive has no doors
Burnin’ with determination to even up the score

Doubt leads us to the cave with no doors and even though the cave has no doors, we still cannot escape the darkness of it. Because of doubt and how we let our thoughts control our actions.

How many of our heroes took their own lives?

How many of our friends have taken their own lives?

How many people turn to narcotics to deals with situations?

Dealing with doubt, fear, loneliness, anger and shame is part of life. Those same emotions drive us and they separate us.

And things that give deep passions are your sword
Rules and regulations have no meaning anymore
Let the disappointment lead to inspiration.

Another find from Stallone was Robert Tepper who ended up contributing “No Easy Way Out” to “Rocky IV” and “Angel Of The City” to the “Cobra” movie.

There’s no easy way out there’s no shortcut home
There’s no easy way out givin’ in can’t be wrong

I know the song is about a relationship, however the way Stallone used it in Rocky IV is brilliant. This is the part as he is driving his car. Apollo was killed in the ring by Ivan Drago and Rocky just agreed to fight him in Russia. He gets home and Adrianne confronts him, not happy about that he decided to fight Ivan Drago. So he jumps in his car to clear his head, the music comes on and all these flashbacks start coming back.

And the message the song conveys is that to avenge Apollo’s death, there is no easy way out. Rocky must fight and beat Ivan Drago, which at the point in time in the film looked super impossible.

“The Sweetest Victory” from Touch is another melodic rock gem. I have no other music from this band, except for this one song on the soundtrack. The song has an iconic keyboard riff and a vocal melody that hits the mark.

What Does It Take

By Honeymoon Suite and their “Big Prize” album released in 1986.

If I could grow wings I would do anything
Just to keep you with me
Can’t you see
If I could fly high I would give you the sky
Don’t you make that mistake
It’s your love that I need
What does it take

What a Chorus. Big. Anthemic. Melodic. Tick x 3.

And I just realised that each song I have selected above has some very good guitar playing. Guess I’m a biased listener.

Enjoy.

More parts will follow.

I’m having a shitload of fun living in the 80’s.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1991 Goodies Lost In The Noise

1991 was a monumental year for music. Shifts in musical tastes aside, career defining albums by Nirvana with “Nevermind”, Metallica with their self-titled “Black” album and Pearl Jam with “Ten” came out.

Guns N Roses released “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2”, the long-awaited follow-up to “Appetite For Destruction” and Ozzy Osbourne resurrected his solo career with “No More Tears”.

U2 had “Achtung Baby”, Van Halen went back to heavy guitars with “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” and Red Hot Chilli Peppers came out with “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”.

Competing against these mega selling albums with massive marketing budgets to scorch the Earth, was the rest of the music industry. And while I am on my European holiday, I have been listening to hard rock music released in 1991. And man, there are some goodies in the list.

Rock and Roll Nights – Roxus
A band like Roxus from Australia, never had a chance to break through on the international melodic rock scene in 1991. A lot of hard work went into building the band, from standalone singles to an EP to the debut album; the whole journey took 4 plus years.

And they started getting some traction in 1991 but they came up against some stiff opposition for the attention of listeners. With all of that against them, Roxus did chart well in Australia.

But they had to compete against the changing of the guard. When U.S record labels started signing up Seattle acts, it was no surprise when the Aussie labels started to sign up Australian bands that suddenly started to sound like Seattle bands. To my amazement, hard rock, thrash metal and glam rock bands on the scene down tuned, stop playing solos, changed their look and their sound. All in the quest for a recording contract.

A chance is all that we’ve got
Without a moment to choose
We’ve got to take it
Young hearts in the night
With nothing to lose
We can make it

It’s nothing original but the message was the same throughout the decade. Chances are far and few, so when opportunity presents itself, we’ve got to take the chance. Like Tommy and Gina. Like the small town kid in Detroit.

I’m glad to be around in Rock ‘n’ Roll nights
You and me

It was a moment in time, a period of almost 10 years when the 80’s version of Rock and Roll became a commercial force.

Stand Back – Roxus

The synth intro is addictive and once the guitars kick in from Dragan Stanic, it’s all systems go. “Stand Back” came out as a standalone single in July 1989 and it was also on their debut album “Nightstreet”, which came out in September 1991.

Taking a chance on a night flight
Knowing just where we ought to be

A lot of times in my youth I knew where I should be, but I couldn’t take that chance to get there. That midnight train out of my hometown was missed. That night flight never happened.

I’ve been on this road now for so long
It’s making me harder now

Living and getting older either hardens you or breaks you.

Stand back, human racing
There’s no change, we’re all facing
Stand back, time is racing now

And that is all we seem to do. Just standing back and watching the world go by.

Pretty Maids – Savage Heart

It’s from the “Jump the Gun” album released in 1990. Actually in the U.S it was released as “Lethal Heroes”. Produced by Roger Glover from Deep Purple, it was told that the album was one of the most expensive albums in Danish history. And after it failed commercially, three fifths of the band would leave.

But it wasn’t the music which let the band down. It was the band name. Many times I avoided purchasing this album because of the band name. One time it was down to Bonfire and Pretty Maids and my money went on Bonfire.

The song reminds me of “Is This Love” from Whitesnake.

Whenever we lose someone
Whenever we say goodbye
And after the fire’s gone
When every flame has died
There will beat a savage heart

After so many loses and failures, a savage heart is all that is left.

Another soldier falls
Dies for God and country
When there’s no time for talking
It’s time for the guns

A symptom of our society is the use of guns. If talking cannot prevent it, our leaders believe violence and force is the next solution.

 

And that massive ending, with the gospel backing vocals is excellent. 

AC/DC – The Razors Edge

The title track written by Malcolm and Angus Young got lost behind the behemoth known as “Thunderstruck”. It’s a killer track. One of their best.

How good is that open string riff that drives the song? It’s a simple A to B to C on the G-string progression with the open strings of B and E just droning along. Angus pulls of this lick while Malcolm just thunders along with the E5 power chord.

There’s fighting on the left
And marching on the right
Don’t look up in the sky
You’re gonna die of fright
Here comes the razors edge

AC/DC have never been known to be a political/social conscience band, however if you look at a lot of the lyrics that Bon Scott wrote in the 70’s, you will see a certain social awareness. You will notice that quiet a few of the songs mentioned in this list talk about war.

Harem Scarem – Hard To Love and Slowly Slipping Away

Both tracks are from the self-titled debut album, the music in both songs rocks.

It wasn’t until well into the 2000’s that I got a hold of some music from Harem Scarem. While the first album is very AOR, the second album “Mood Swings” packs some serious metal overtones and some wicked guitar playing.

The band name doesn’t do the music and the songs justice. Like Pretty Maids I bypassed this album because of the band name.

Badlands – The Last Time

Jake E Lee revs it up again for the follow-up “Voodoo Highway” album to the self-titled debut. And what an opening track, where Lee weaves blues based riffs with his metal pedigree to come up with this heavy boogie riff to kick off the track. Rooted in the key of A minor, the track rocks from the outset.

Lyrically the song is about a broken heart (nothing really earth shattering) however the vocal performance by Ray Gillen is also top-notch. Not long after, the band splintered and “The Last Time” is forgotten in the history of times. The song was resurrected by the Red Dragon Cartel, however Lee is not having much luck with his singers.

Stryper – All For One

From the commercially disappointing “Against The Law” that was released on Enigma Records, a label going thru merger talks.

But there is no denying the song, written by Michael Sweet and produced by Tom Werman.

United we will stand up tall
United we will never fall
If it’s all for one and one for all

The chorus is huge and the message is strong.

United we will never fall. Even Dee Snider mentioned recently that metal heads need to unite again, in the same way we did between the years of 1982 to 1987. We made hard rock and heavy metal a commercial force. After that we fragmented into so many different metal genres, it was ridiculous.

Ratt – Shame, Shame, Shame

The opening riff from Warren DeMartini is speed boogie metal. It’s full on Ratt and Roll and DeMartini even drops the E string down to D, something he did to great effect in “Lay It Down”.

But terrible lyrics again let the song down and the overall power of the music is lost. But this song is all about the music to me and it gets constant spins because of it.

Asphalt Ballet – Soul Survive

It’s written by guitarist Danny Clarke, from their 1991 debut album released on Virgin Records who at the time had no interest in marketing bands as they were in negotiation talks with EMI. That merger happened in June 1992 and a lot of bands lost their deals because of it.

I’ve seen the system fall apart from the rules
And all our Presidents lie
I’ve seen the needle and the damage it’s done
The wreckage left behind

These are social conscience lyrics that a lot of rock bands just didn’t do at the turn of the century. Or if they did do songs like this, the record label wouldn’t release them as singles. How good is that verse riff?

My soul survives
Forever doing time on a dead-end street
My soul survives
Blood like wine running down to my feet, yeah-yeah, yeah!

And for the majority of us, that is how we live our days, doing time in the same old place with the same old faces.

Skid Row – Quicksand Jesus

Written by Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo, it’s from the gigantic “Slave To The Grind” album, but for some reason this song went under the radar but it’s a masterpiece.

Quicksand Jesus I need you
Quicksand Jesus I believe you
Quicksand I’m so far away

The song is about trying not to lose faith in God with all the crap that goes on in the world. The music is brilliant and Sebastian’s vocals from the “Where do we go” section are sublime.

Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town

Written by Richie Sambora and his Bon Jovi cohort Dave Bryan, you cannot escape this addictive track that is heavily influenced by “With A Little Help From My Friends”.

Everybody loves a winner
Till the winners lose
And then it’s front page news
Nobody loves a loser
When you’re down and out
You know there ain’t no doubt

This is Richie, unsure of his future. He just finished two gruelling album and world tour cycles with Bon Jovi. He was a winner. Then, the uncertainty came as the band went on a break. He had no record deal, no management, nothing.

“Song And Emotion” from Tesla has a similar message. Where are all the “friends” when you are down and out? Dee Snider’s bio tells a similar story. When he had nothing, he had no one except his family.

Tesla – Song and Emotion
Tesla – Freedom Slaves
Tesla – Had Enough

Even though the “Psychotic Supper” album was eventually certified platinum, on release it didn’t have a chance to break through to the masses. Within 30 days of its release it had to contend with “Ten” from Pearl Jam, “Nevermind” from Nirvana, “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2” from Guns N Roses and the self-titled “Black” album from Metallica.

Tesla is a legendary band in my book. Each album has songs that have remained with me to this day. “Psychotic Supper” gave me these three beauties. All of them are so different, yet so infectious.

“Song and Emotion” is killer. It’s written by Frank Hannon, Jeff Keith, Michael Barbiero (producer) and Tom Skeoch.

All alone on his way to the top
Somehow, somewhere, something was lost
Through it all he knew his only friend was
Song and emotion
Know he’s got to his dying day

Read all of the bios of the artists you like and there is a common theme of loneliness. They turn to drugs, booze and other vices to cope with the loneliness especially when they are on the road for long periods of time.

Where are they now?
Where are those people who promised him his dreams?
Where are they now for this lonely creature on the streets?
Broken, humbled by the cold reality?

The song is dedicated to Steve Clark from Def Leppard. The bigger Def Leppard got, the more isolated their lives became. The price of stardom meant they couldn’t leave their house without an entourage.

Life at the top ain’t always what it seems

It’s a common critique of artists when they’ve made it.

“Freedom Slaves” is a foot stomper with another killer mid-section and solo. It’s written by Frank Hannon, Tommy Skeoch and Brian Wheat.

I pledge no allegiance to your flag
I feel I got me some damn good reasons for feelin’ bad
If you want freedom now, it’s got to be won
It’s only bullets. It’s just a gun

1991 had songs about war, especially with the Gulf War looming over our heads.

Can’t ya see that we’re all freedom slaves?

Freedom comes at a human cost, but then when our freedoms are hijacked by corporations and leaders in the pocket of lobbyists, we become capitalist slaves.

Welcome to freedom. Now, there’s work to be done.

There is work for the ones that have no alternative. They don’t have the degrees, the fortune 500 jobs or some other helping hand.

I don’t know what next they’ll be killin’,
Rapin’ the land with pollution and spillin’.
Here’s to the tired, to the hungry, to the helpless and the poor.
Is there no glory for blisters and sores?

The world was in GFC turmoil, six years ago. The perpetrators got out without any losses, while the working class, lost houses and their jobs. As the lyric states, there is no glory in blisters and sores.

“Had Enough” opens up with a beer can opening and then the riff kicks in. It’s a head banger about downing a few and smoking some weed.  It’s written by Jeff Keith and Tommy Skeoch.

Me and the boys are gonna rock tonite.
Drinkin’ double shots, feelin fine. Mmmm, I like it!
I like the way, the way it makes me feel.
Now, I’m in love witcha, Lady Mary Jane.
You put my mind at ease, make me feel no pain.
Keep takin’ me; keep takin’ me higher, well, and higher.
Light my fire!

The song is all about the high at the start and by the end the character in the song has passed the point of no return and is now addicted.

Have I reached the point, the point of no return?
When will I learn?

White Lion – Warsong
White Lion – It’s Over

Almost five months after “Mane Attraction” came out, White Lion split up and one of the most melodic and expressive guitarists was lost to us.

Mike Tramp wrote good social consciousness lyrics but his take on clichéd rock and roll themes fell short and failed to compliment the outstanding musicianship of Vito Bratta.

In all of this craziness, two songs stand out to this day.

“Warsong” shows the metal side of Bratta, while “It’s Over” shows the classic blues rock side of Bratta.

What are we fighting for?
When the price we pay is endless war
What are we fighting for?
When all we need is peace

When you look at the wars our homelands have been in and for what purpose, you start to question, why.

I know that I was wrong to treat you like I did
But don’t you think our love deserves a second chance 

The above is from “It’s Over”. The blues 12/8 boogie lays the foundations for Bratta to showcase his prowess.

Once the mirror breaks it’s never the same. Same deal with a relationship. Once you break apart once, it’s over. White Lion fragmented without even arguing. It was just time to say “It’s Over”.

Europe – Seventh Sign

“Prisoners In Paradise” album cycle was a lesson in record label politics. Europe wrote 20 songs and the record label rejected a lot of them. Outside writers got the call and Europe kept on writing songs. Eventually after 12 months, the album was done.

It cost a lot and once it was released it was left to fend on its own, without any record label support.

We could all come together
And gather all around
What good is war when we
All go down

Another song with a reference to war.

Savatage – If I Go Away

The whole rock opera from Savatage was an ode to making it, the vices that come with success and the loneliness once the crowds are gone.

Somewhere on that long lonely road
We all stand alone
Looking for clues
From our different views

That’s why we turn to music and the messages in our favourite songs. We are looking for clues from our artists. Maybe they’ve experienced the same.

If I go away
What would still remain of me?

What memories will people carry forward if they go away?

Screaming Jets – Better
Screaming Jets – Fat Rich Cunt

Screaming Jets is an Australian band that basically has legendary pub status within our shores.

They said you’d never get anywhere,
Well they don’t care and it’s just not fair
That you know, and I know better.

“Better” became like a national anthem in Australia. The whole groove of the song is infectious.

Fat Rich Cunt

It’s one of my favourites on the album. The message in the song, is even more relevant in 2016.

You drive your fast car,
All over the town,
You got your offices up 50 floors from the ground.
You hire your slaves to bid for you,
You’ve got a couple of wives and a mistress or two.
And I can’t wait to see you tumble and fall.

When I worked as an insurance broker, all of the people around me had second or third marriages, mistresses on the side and a cocaine habit to match.

You fat, fat, fat rich cunts.

The war cry.

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

Robin Crosby

“Sexy, sinister fun – that’s what Ratt is all about”
Robin Crosby

History is always written by the winners, the ones in power, the ones with the money, the ones that control culture. It is always written to suit a certain point of view or ideal many years after the events.

It is a shame that history will show Robin Crosby as a chronic drug user, junkie, who eventually died from AIDS related complications. If you don’t believe me, then read this excellent article from Chuck Klosterman on the tales of two rock deaths.

“Dee Dee Ramone and Robin Crosby were both shaggy-haired musicians who wrote aggressive music for teenagers. Both were unabashed heroin addicts. Neither was the star of his respective band: Dee Dee played bass for the Ramones, a seminal late-70’s punk band; Crosby played guitar for Ratt, a seminal early-80’s heavy-metal band. They died within 24 hours of each other last spring, and each had only himself to blame for the way he perished. In a macro sense, they were symmetrical, self-destructive clones; for anyone who isn’t obsessed with rock ‘n’ roll, they were basically the same guy.”

“Yet anyone who is obsessed with rock ‘n’ roll would define these two humans as diametrically different. To rock aficionados, Dee Dee and the Ramones were ”important” and Crosby and Ratt were not. We are all supposed to concede this. We are supposed to know that the Ramones saved rock ‘n’ roll by fabricating their surnames, sniffing glue and playing consciously unpolished three-chord songs in the Bowery district of New York. We are likewise supposed to acknowledge that Ratt sullied rock ‘n’ roll by abusing hair spray, snorting cocaine and playing highly produced six-chord songs on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.”

The story of the Ramones and Ratt are not that different.

Ratt came together in 1981 however the roots of the band go back to 1978. And while they came out of the LA scene, the band was originally from San Diego. Prior to breaking out, they lived together in a garage, starved and overworked themselves.

“It came from being young, frustrated, hard- working punk rockers and not having any food or beers or any money or anyone trying to get in our pants.”
Robin Crosby

Instead of RATT being seen as part of the New Wave Of American Hard Rock (a name which never actually existed for the LA scene), RATT are seen as Glam Metallers or Glam Rockers. But is RATT’s origin story any different to The Ramones origin story.

Is it RATT’s fault that MTV took an immediate interest in the band and the “Round And Round” video became a constant?

RATT album covers featured women; Tawny Kitaen was on the EP and the “Out Of The Cellar” cover and model Marianne Gravatte is on the “Invasion Of Your Privacy” cover whereas The Ramones just featured the guys in the band. Maybe RATT’s provocative fun-loving image made them a joke to the powerful counter culturists. Klosterman further states;

“The Ramones never made a platinum record over the course of their entire career. Bands like the Ramones don’t make platinum records; that’s what bands like Ratt do. And Ratt was quite adroit at that task, doing it four times in the 1980’s. The band’s first album, ”Out of the Cellar,” sold more than a million copies in four months. Which is why the deaths of Dee Dee Ramone and Robin Crosby created such a mathematical paradox: the demise of Ramone completely overshadowed the demise of Crosby, even though Crosby co-wrote a song (”Round and Round”) that has probably been played on FM radio and MTV more often than every track in the Ramones’ entire catalogue. And what’s weirder is that no one seems to think this imbalance is remotely strange.”

“Out of the Cellar” released in 1984 had seven songs written/co-written by Crosby, including the big singles “Wanted Man”, “Round and Round” and “Back For More”. It is RATT’s premiership album, the one they get to do a victory lap with, over and over again. “Invasion of Your Privacy” released in 1985 had five songs written/co-written by Crosby, including “Lay It Down”. By 1985, “Out Of The Cellar,” went double platinum (sales of more than 2 million), and “Invasion Of Your Privacy,” was the second heavy metal album of 1985 to go platinum (sales of 1 million).

“Dancing Undercover” released in 1986 had six songs written/co-written by Crosby. “Reach for the Sky” released in 1988 took seven months to record. RATT started the record with Mike Stone and then decided to go with their old producer, Beau Hill. The album has four Crosby co-writes and “Detonator” released in 1990 has one Crosby co-write. It’s plain to see that when one of their main songwriters goes missing mentally and physically, the quality is just not there. That’s not saying that “Reach For The Sky” or “Detonator” are bad albums, it’s just they weren’t ‘RATT ’n’ ROLL’ albums.

The “Reach For The Sky” tour was cancelled due to poor ticket sales and the break-up with Berle Management. DeMartini stated the following;

“The album did platinum and stuff, but it felt like there wasn’t any communication from the people that were managing us and the promoters to make sure the thing was advertised right. We’d play in my home town — Chicago — and here’s my family saying, ‘We didn’t know you were playing here. Can you tell us, because there’s nothing on the radio and nothing on the TV?!’. The album was in the Top 20, and we’re very much a live band — we put a lot of work into that — so we knew it wasn’t us. We knew we didn’t have the right people in the right positions. We’d done well live and on vinyl in the past, and we had to get people of a similar calibre to manage us.”

For “Detonator”, Desmond Child was on hand to produce and help with the arrangements of verses and so forth. According to DeMartini in an interview with Hot Metal back in November 1990; 

“I think every song on the album sounds like a Ratt song; I don’t think there’s a Desmond Child song. He mainly helped with the arrangement of verses — we had the songs, and his input was in pre-production.”

But the main ingredient in RATT was and still is, Robin Crosby.

“The reason Crosby’s June 6 death was mostly ignored is that his band seemed corporate and fake and pedestrian; the reason Ramone’s June 5 death will be remembered is that his band was seen as representative of a counterculture that lacked a voice. But the contradiction is that countercultures get endless media attention: the only American perspectives thought to have any meaningful impact are those that come from the fringes. The voice of the counterculture is, in fact, inexplicably deafening. Meanwhile, mainstream culture (i.e., the millions and millions of people who bought Ratt albums merely because that music happened to be the soundtrack for their lives) is usually portrayed as an army of mindless automatons who provide that counterculture with something to rail against. The things that matter to normal people are not supposed to matter to smart people.”
Chuck Klosterman

You see, in the Sixties and the Seventies, hard rock and heavy metal was its own counter-culture that rejected the mainstream culture at the time. Examples of bands that led the counterculture movement are The Doors, Black Sabbath, Neil Young, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Yes, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Cream and King Crimson. The lyrical themes involved standing up for yourself, do your own thing and enjoy yourself.

Fast forward to the Eighties and hard rock/metal is now mainstream and a counter-culture is formed against it. And that counter-culture is now writing stories that put bands like The Ramones in a bigger and more important role in the history of music than what they really deserve. And like how hard rock became mainstream, these counter culturist are now mainstream. This alone leads to a new counter-culture movement against them.

There are a lot more people who have grown up with hard rock music as the soundtrack to their life than the music of The Ramones and it’s time the musicians like Robin Crosby get the respect they deserve.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Dokken, Motley Crue and Ratt. More examples of the Progress Is Derivative Model

This isn’t a story about who ripped off who. To me those arguments are irrelevant as I am a great believer in the “progress is derivative” principle which is that all artists take a little bit of what came before and create something that to them is original.

It’s funny how you can have three songs that have pretty similar main riffs however each song has a totally different reach and impact with the audience.

Listen to “Young Girls” from Dokken’s first album “Breaking The Chains” and then listen to “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue.

Now ask yourself the following question;

Do the opening riffs sound very similar?

If you answered YES then read the below, however if you answered NO then go back and repeat the above exercise until you hear that they do sound very similar.

Now listen to “Tell The World” from RATT.

Does the opening riff also sound similar albeit with a few small variations?

If you answered YES then read the below, however if you answered NO then go back and repeat the above exercise.

Musically, the three songs have a definitive riff that is very similar. However, one song is clearly forgotten, one song is considered a classic and the other one is a fan favourite.

The Dokken song was destined for the scrap heap just by the song title alone. Add to that some really crap lyrics, plus a really lazy uninspired vocal melody from Don Dokken and you have a disaster of mass distortion regardless of how good the bed of music is from Lynch. This is a perfect example of how good musicianship doesn’t shine due to bad lyrics.

In sports you are as strong as your weakest link and in this case the weakest link was the song title and the lyrics/vocal melodies.

Then you have the Motley Crue version that has lyrics drenched in sleaze, attitude and danger. The vocal melodies are simple with three or four syllable phrases, clustered together and barked out with venom. Add to that a song title that screams attention. Without even taking into account the video clip images and what not, “Looks That Kill” is far superior because of the way Nikki Sixx phrases his vocal melodies.

Then you have the Ratt’s “Tell The World”. Stephen Pearcy lived the L.A lifestyle. He immersed himself in the scene, along with his San Diego cohort Robin Crosby.

The main drivers behind all three songs are George Lynch, Don Dokken, Nikki Sixx, Robin Crosby and Stephen Pearcy. George Lynch was a constant L.A performer towards the late seventies and early eighties. Nikki Sixx and Robin Crosby would go on to be best friends. Both were consistent performers on the L.A scene. Stephen Pearcy was also a constant on that scene.

The music in these songs is not about who ripped off who. It is about how the sound of the L.A scene influenced all of the musicians involved.

In a nutshell playing two open string pedal points and then a power chord straight after was pretty basic Hard Rock/Metal 101.

This type of playing was very synonymous with bands like Judas Priest, UFO (Michael Schenker) and Scorpions.

In the U.S, you had the mighty Ted Nugent pushing out songs with definitive riffs based around open pedal points and power chords. Check out “Stranglehold”.

If you want to see that type of figure on steroids and totally original, check out the Randy Rhoads opening riff in “Steal Away The Night” . Rhoads starts it off with two open notes and then an inversion of a power chord. Then instead of doing two more open E’s he plays the B and A notes in lieu of the two open E’s.

In the end, as humans we are a sum of our influences and our cultures. The L.A scene was a culture based around a decadent lifestyle. In between all of that, the bands involved ended up crafting some great tunes along the way.

Standard
Music, My Stories, Piracy

We Gravitate To What We Believe Is Popular

Artists like Sebastian Bach and Robb Flynn have asked the question, What does a Facebook like mean these days? In the words of Dark Helmet, “Absolutely Nothing”.

Music is a popularity contest. There is no doubt about that, however popularity doesn’t mean Facebook likes. What we do know is that likes are unreliable indicators of a band’s impact. The music business is all about connecting so many different dots to solve the puzzle. This is where we’ve arrived, the data-centric world and these raw statistics leave a lot of artists out. And they don’t like it.

The number one complaint in the music business is that artists can’t make any money. If you want to make money then make music that people want to listen to. Difficult but not impossible.

Revolutions occur in music all the time. Normally those revolutions happened in musical styles. However when it comes to the reporting side of things, well that was all controlled and monopolised by the recording industry.

The Billboard charts reported what was sold and what was played. All the parties involved lied and bribed each other to play certain records or to promote certain albums. This led to an era that if we believed that a song or album was popular we were more likely to buy it. Hell the same parties even controlled MTV.

Now everyone is looking at charts based on what we are listening.

Seen Ratt’s Spotify stats recently. Even though each album from the Eighties moved over a million units, what the fans really wanted was the great songs. And lucky for Ratt, each album had a great or decent song that would be used to market the album.

I want to go back to 1985. Twisted Sister released “Come Out And Play”. The fans of the band purchased it and played it death (maybe except for “Be Cruel To Your School” and “Leader Of The Pack”). However the album was deemed a commercial failure according to the reporting arms of the recording industry.

While the big albums “You Cant Stop Rock N Roll” and “Stay Hungry” are on Spotify, “Come Out And Play” is not available for streaming officially. But that is typical of the industry because Spotify is controlled by corporations and some of those corporations are the record labels. So as is the norm, those record labels think they know best when it comes to music. However on YouTube the whole album is there.

Why is it on YouTube?

Because the fans of the album put the music up. The fans are sharing their love of the album and people are listening to it because while fans have a history of music at their fingertips and can search for any artist they like the biggest playlist on Spotify is “Today’s Top Hits”. On the rock side, there is a rock playlist called “Rock Classics” that has close to 530,000 followers.

So with everything available under the sun, music fans still prefer to listen to what we think everyone else is hearing. Much like how we purchased albums in the Eighties based on what we thought everyone else was buying.

 

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Arc

All of our favourite acts have an arc, their popularity comes and goes, no matter how talented they might be. Sometimes it’s got nothing to do with the quality of their music, rather the scene just changes. The fans will let them come back once. Our devotion and the pull of nostalgia are the reasons. After that, they need to stand or fall based on the quality of their work.

Machine Head had a brilliant debut with “Burn My Eyes”, then stumbled a bit with “The More Things Change”, “The Burning Eyes” and “Supercharger” only to return bigger and better than ever with “Through The Ashes Of Empires”. After that they have stood tall based on their quality of their work. Just look at the releases that came after in “The Blackening”, “Unto The Locust” and “Bloodstone And Diamonds”. For me, being a fan since day dot, those stumbles that other people see are all part of a bands evolution.

A favourite band of mine from the Eighties was Ratt. I really liked the DeMartini/Crosby guitar team. So they came onto the scene running out of the blocks with “Out Of The Cellar”. They kept the momentum going with “Invasion Of Your Privacy”, “Dancing Undercover” and “Reach For The Sky”. They then started working with Desmond Child on the “Detonator” album and even though it moved units, it was seen as a stumble. Then the band imploded and they never really came back as a recording force. A 1999, self-titled album came out that did nothing and “Infestation” came out in 2010 which to be honest, based on the calibre of players involved, it was a dead set let down. It looks like “King” Crosby (RIP) was the X-Factor behind Ratt’s success.

Motley Crue had notched up a lot of wins and then in 1992 they dropped a bombshell and Vince was out. They dug in deep and delivered a stellar album in 1994, with John Corabi on vocals, however the market didn’t reciprocate. Blame the times, blame the change of vocalist, blame the lack of record label support. Then Vince was back in and “Generation Swine” followed that further alienated the majority of the fan base with its industrial leanings. Then Tommy was out and “New Tattoo” followed which led to a club tour and talks that the band was washed up.

No one saw the comeback that would come on the backs of “The Dirt”. The “Carnival of Souls” tour with the original band captured that new-found fame and a whole new generation of fans along with the old generation came out to see the Crue. This was followed up by the excellent “Saints Of Los Angeles” album in 2008 and their arc was complete. And now instead of standing or falling based on their new musical output, Motley Crue decided to not participate in making an albums worth of music. We got a single in 2012 and maybe another single will follow next year.

And in 2014, new music is a common theme of contention with artists. Musicians are digging down deep and delivering what they believe is their best work and without the usual old sales metrics not truly capturing the impact of the new music, they believe that the reaction to their new music is…nothing.

In some cases that might be the truth. And in this confusion and fragmented music industry they find it hard to keep soldiering on. But the truth is if they are good, they will have fans that will believe in them. It may not be the platinum armies that the MTV generation grew up with, but just because a musician doesn’t break through to the masses that does not mean they should change direction. A lot of the times it takes a while for the marketplace to catch up with what a musician is doing.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

What Happens After The Pinnacle?

Want some advice.

Each style of music regardless of what genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.

The bands involved in the growth of the will have their best memories and the most defining moments of their musical careers during this growth period. We can use any scene however let’s look at the Eighties LA scene. It began in 1981.

Motley Crue, RATT, WASP and Quiet Riot had the LA Scene cornered at that point in time.

Quiet Riot was a twelve-year overnight success story when they had the first big breakthrough, going to Number 1 with “Metal Health” in 1983 and becoming the first “metal” band to do so in the U.S. That was the bands pinnacle. Within 3 years the band was over.

RATT was also a ten-year overnight success story, when they had their big breakthrough with “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. That was the bands pinnacle and within 8 years the band was over.

WASP was an eight year overnight success story when they had their big break through with their self-titled debut in 1984. The band never really stuck together, however Chris Holmes and Blackie Lawless remained until 1990. At that stage, WASP more or less became Blackie Lawless’s solo project and I define “The Crimson Idol” as Blackie Lawless’s and by default WASP’s defining moment.

Motley Crue was a six-year overnight success story when they had their big breakthrough with “Shout At The Devil”, however their defining album was by far “Dr Feelgood” and that album was a twelve-year journey. However a few years after that Vince Neil was out.

Once the pinnacle is reached, after that, a freeze sets in. That freeze happened in 1992 for hard rock music.

It took Motley Crue another 12 years before they achieved the same heights as they did in the Eighties. In between, the members worked hard at their own home movies, cough cough, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. Solo projects like Methods of Mayhem for Tommy Lee, Vince Neil solo albums, 58 and Brides Of Destruction for Nikki Sixx and eventually finding time to record three Crue albums. One with John Corabi on vocals, one with the band reunited and another with Randy Castillo (RIP) on drums. Then came the all-encompassing book. “The Dirt”. And the resurrection started. If you’re not afraid to go through one door, many more will open there after. And that is what happened to Motley Crue. The book was the door they went through.

And that is what Motley Crue have done, played the game their own way and ended up with riches and power.

Quiet Riot and RATT never re-covered.

WASP/Blackie Lawless realised early on in the Eighties that WASP was a cult band, with a hard-core audience, and it was that audience who Blackie has played for. He didn’t change the WASP sound when Grunge was king. He didn’t change the WASP sound when Industrial and Nu-Metal became king. He just kept on going, realising WASP albums and I am proud to say that I own all of them.

And after the hard rock ice-age was over a new status quo existed.

The previously successful acts need to work even harder to stay successful. The new acts starting off in the new frontier had to work ten times harder.

Because the people that we think are star’s many people around us have no idea who they are.

Standard