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

Lynch Mob

The follow-up self-titled Lynch Mob album had Keith Olsen producing. And it comes from the legend known as George Lynch and his continuing saga of the lead singer revolving door. It’s 1992. One of my favourite bands in Dokken was close to four years dead. In between that time George Lynch and Mick Brown shacked up together with Lynch Mob and remained with Elektra Records. Jeff Pilson went to War and Peace and lead singer Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and jumped ship.

The first post Dokken battle between Lynch and Dokken was won by Lynch who released the excellent “Wicked Sensation” first and scored a big win from the Dokken faithful. However, Don Dokken and John Kalodner assembled an all-star cast for “Up From The Ashes” and even though the album was an exemplary piece of melodic hard rock, it failed commercially.

However the great momentum built up by the Mark 1 version of Lynch Mob was taken back a few steps with the ousting of vocalist Oni Logan. The story goes that Lynch had a problem with the way Logan sounded live. So after letting Logan go, the band had Glenn Hughes come in. He would sing the songs and then new singer Robert Mason would also go in and he’d sing the songs.

Then Hughes and Mason would pick apart both performances and come up with one final definitive vocal take that Mason would go back in and sing again.

“Jungle Of Love”

It’s a crime that it sounded too much like everything else. Suddenly, towards the end of the Eighties and early Nineties, all of the hard rock bands started bringing back the Seventies blues influences/boogies, however it was Jake E.Lee and Badlands that did it best.

“Tangled In The Web”

It’s the horns that make this track and along with the hallucinogenic guitar sound they blend in nicely, making the track swing. Billboard Magazine in their 13 June 1992 issue said that it the song “May prove to be a hard sell, but well worth a spin nevertheless.” By 18th July, 1992 the song was a fast mover on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks, sitting at 16.

It’s a classic. And classics never go stale. It is unique enough to sound fresh as every year goes on. Listening to it today, i can honestly say it feels fresh and not dated. In other words, it is not rooted into that hard rock sound of the Eighties.

The song writing credits read that all the music came from George Lynch. Lyrics on the other hand came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.

“Hypnotizing
My temperature’s rising
As the sweat rolls
From my head to your lips”

It’s a bastardized riff taken from “The Hunter”. Is there a genre called Hard Rock Swing.

One thing that was prominent on this album was the “cleaning up” of Lynch’s distorted tones. Which is a good thing. As a guitarist, I am all too aware how a lot of gain can mask a lot of imperfections. So to play with a cleaner distortion, you need to be on your game. The riffs are more defined and “Tangled In The Web” is a fine example.

In the lead break, Lynch was asked to be like Eric Clapton and he winged it. The producer loved it, Lynch hated it. The producer won out in the end.

“No Good”

“I’m the evil in the bible,
Go to church but never pray
I’m a sister with a habit,
a preacher never saved”

Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.

AC/DC eat your heart out. Actually, if people remember the excellent Australian band, “Baby Animals” led by Suze DeMarchi then you can say that this song is taken from their debut album.

“Dream Until Tomorrow”

Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.

“Trust in my love
You know only time can separate us”

Love the clean tone that kicks it off. I remember reading in an interview that three different guitars got used, with different amp settings in order to achieve that clean tone.

Again the cleaner tones came as a breath of fresh air for the year that was 1992. The song was a precursor to the “Sacred Groove” album in the same way that “Mr Scary” was.

And just when you think the song is over, it restarts and builds for the last-minute and a half.

“Cold Is The Heart”

Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics again came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.

“Icy hand behind a velvet glove
As she sits on the face of the world”

Again the cleanliness of the distorted tones really stand out. The song could be on any Dokken album and not be out-of-place. That was always the Achilles heel of George Lynch. He hated the fact that he was always referred to Dokken’s guitarist.

“Tie Your Mother Down”

Yep, it is a cover. Brian May wrote it. Lynch Mob recorded it as a tribute to Freddie Mercury. God damn that lead section is pure bliss with that basic diminished shape shifted up the neck

The jam like attitude grabs me from the get go.

“Heaven Is Waiting”

It’s a pop song and its a very underrated song that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and George Lynch.

“I ain’t nothing but the devil’s fool”

“I Want It”

Van Halen and AC/DC merged with “Empire” era Queensryche comes to mind. Another classic hard rocker, that got lost in all of the other generic crap from 1992. It’s also hidden deep in the album, so you had to be a fan to get this deep into the album. As usual the music came from Lynch and the lyrics came from Brown, Mason and Esposito.

“When Darkness Calls”

“You can’t resist it
It’s black or white”

Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito and Robert Mason.

I am hooked from the get go. That phased out/flanged out guitar arpeggios with the backward echoed sounding lead lines and all merged with a killer vocal melody. It’s a classic metal song and along with “Tangled In The Web” they are the stand outs of this album by far. Songs to build careers on.

“The Secret”

Music was written by George Lynch. Lyrics came from Mick Brown, Anthony Esposito, Robert Mason and Keith Olsen.

“Eyes once open never closed
That’s the gateway to the soul”

Great riffs and great melodies but it is more of the same of what came before.

In the end, the album while great failed to match the sales of “Wicked Sensation”. When that happened in 1992, it was more or less the beginning of the end. As a guitarist George Lynch was in my Top 5 of influences, however it was clear that he had a lead singer firing complexion.

Lynch Mob was on tour and Lynch was “not feeling it” with Mason and he wanted to get another singer. That singer was Ray Gillen, who at the time wasn’t interested because he had just completed “Voodoo Highway” with Badlands and was keen to push and promote that album.

If only Gillen knew the fall out that would happen between him and Jake a few months later. Glenn Hughes was considered, however due to his age, that was discarded.

The image of Lynch Mob being a band was non-existent and the legend of George Lynch being a control freak just kept on growing. The band never took off as it should have based on the quality of the musicians and the song writing. But in the end, like every George Lynch project, it self-imploded before it even had a chance to take off, because George Lynch is George Lynch.

And then George Lynch returned to the Dokken fold for the already written “Dysfunctional” album and even though as a hard core fan, I thoroughly enjoyed it, the truth of the matter is the band was spent. And we can speculate or argue why or just revel in the greatness of what came before.

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

High Wire – The Streets Cry Badlands, Till The Day That I Die

With Jake E Lee excommunicated from the Osbourne camp no one was sure what he would do next. In 1988, Badlands formed however the connections that made this happen go back to the years that Jake spent with Ozzy.

The original Badlands line up was Ray Gillen on vocals, Eric Singer on drums, Greg Chaisson on bass and of course Jake E Lee on guitar. And we will never be able to see the band that cut the self-titled debut album reunite. Ray Gillen has passed and Eric Singer said in an interview on the Daves on Tour website that his memories of Badlands aren’t good ones.

“I saw a lot of potential with really talented people turn into a sad situation.”

Eric Singer auditioned for Ozzy back in 1985 and he didn’t get the gig. Greg Chaisson also auditioned for Ozzy around the same period and he also didn’t get the gig. Both of them lost out to Randy Castillo and Phil Soussan. The outcome for both Singer and Chaisson was that they got to meet Jake E Lee and have a jam with him. That is the Jake E Lee connection.

Eric Singer also did a stint in Black Sabbath during the Glenn Hughes/Ray Gillen era. That is the Ray Gillen connection. Music is a relationship business and it was these relationships, albeit small ones once upon a time, that ended up getting together to create one hell of a debut album.

In an interview with Kerrang from May 1989, this is what Ray Gillen had to say on the bands beginnings;

“I was particularly keen on the project because I had to pick myself up off the floor after my involvement with the Blue Murder project had gone sour. I was basically asked to leave the band due to outside record company pressure. John Kalodner, one of the top people at Geffen Records, simply said that I couldn’t sing!”

John Sykes’s search for a singer for his post Whitesnake project was legendary and in the end it was John Kalodner who decided it.

By 1989, metal music needed a re-invention. The answer was a new breed of bands with guitar gods as their centrepiece. Enter, Badlands, along with Blue Murder, Mr Big and Lynch Mob.

Wearing their Seventies classic rock influences on their sleeves and very cleverly merging the minor key riff remnants of the mid-Eighties heavy metal sound, Badlands hit the target. Each song was unique. Engineer James A. Ball mentioned in a Guitar World interview from July 1989, that the album was recorded in about ten studios. Each studio brought its own sound to the songs and you can hear it.

This is what Jake E Lee had to say on the band in an interview with Guitar World from July 1989;

Badlands is purer because I didn’t have to filter my ideas through Ozzy. Ozzy encouraged a flashier, trick-oriented style. Badlands is definitely more blues-based. When we got together we started by playing old Cream, Free, Led Zeppelin—the things we all grew up on. When we started writing songs, it carried over. I naturally went back to my pre-Ozzy approach. Our bassist, Greg Chaisson, says he’s relieved. He used to see me in my club days when I was playing in Ratt and Rough Cutt, and said I was his favourite. When he heard “Bark At The Moon”, he was disappointed.

Paul O’Neill was also the producer and was also their manager. He is well-known today with his work with Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. One thing that Paul O’Neill does not credit for, is his song writing skills. He didn’t have mainstream hits like Desmond Child or Jim Vallance or Max Martin, however he was involved in writing some hard rock and heavy metal classics.

The standout song on the debut is “High Wire” and that song is a Jake E Lee and Ray Gillen composition. It cemented Jake’s reputation. You can’t keep a super star down and what a great way to open the album.

How good is that opening riff?

If anyone has heard the song “Transatlantic Blues” from The Night Flight Orchestra, you will hear this riff re-used. It is a hidden gem and a piece of kick ass hard rock. Adrenaline Mob also covered it last year on “Coverta” and paid tribute to the original in a damn good way.

The beauty of the song is the simplicity. It is a simple A to C, A to D riff, the cornerstone to all classic blues/classic rock songs.

“Winter’s Call” is written by Jake E Lee, Ray Gillen and Alex Gonzalez. It is the most Zeppelinesque song on the album, especially in the verses, combining Middle Eastern drones with Celtic modes. It is also one of the oldest songs on the album, as the song’s roots go back to 1983.

“Streets Cry Freedom” is the next gem and the song is written by Jake E Lee, Ray Gillen and Paul O’Neill. What a great way to close off side one. When vinyl was king, albums got sequenced by having a great opening track and a great closing track.

“Till the day that I die”.

The comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie and Bad Company are prevalent in this song. The song’s verses are a typical 12 bars blues. Instead of playing it in the standard way, Jake E Lee shows his guitar smarts by arpeggiating the verses.

Again, the song sounds complex, however it is simple, especially the way it picks up towards the end.

“Seasons” is a gem on the second side. It is another song by the Jake E Lee, Ray Gillen and Paul O’Neill song writing team and man, it reminds me a lot of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”.

This was 1989 and MTV ruled. Bands needed a hit to get recognition. So while “Dreams In The Dark” did the video rounds, as the record label decided it had the most “hit” potential, songs like “Winters Call”, “Seasons” and “Streets Cry Freedom” slipped under the radar. This is Jake E Lee at his best. He soars on these songs, like a free bird. And Ray Gillen made John Kalodner eat his words.

Then there are the stories about how “Hard Driver” reminds me of “Death Alley Driver” from Rainbow. How Jake E Lee used a black Les Paul Custom originally owned by Carlos Santana for “Rumblin’ Train” and how the song was written while Jake E Lee was tuning up his guitar.

The self titled album is brilliant. While other artists went with the one hit single per album and the rest as filler, Badlands delivered an album strong from start to finish. I sort of forgot about these albums and it was Jake’s re-appearance last year that re-awakened all of these memories.

Standard
Uncategorized

Jake E. Lee and The Red Dragon Cartel. They Are Doing It All Wrong

Did you also hear that Jake E Lee is making a comeback with a new project titled Red Dragon Cartel?

As a fan of Jake E. Lee and the work he did with Ozzy and Badlands, I am glad that he is made the decision to record music again. Man, those two Badlands albums rocked hard. Tried to find them on Spotify and no dice. Even the new Red Dragon Cartel song is nowhere to be found. Lucky YouTube has the Badlands albums streaming in full.

He is doing it all wrong. He is doing it the same way he did in 1986. This is 2013 and the music business model that worked when Jake E. Lee was at the peak of his fame does not work today.

Frontiers Records signed the project. Are there any Classic Eighties metal/rock bands or stars that Frontiers haven’t signed?

Of course the new slab of songs will move a couple of thousand in sales due to hard-core Jake E. Lee fans from the Ozzy and Badlands days and then what. Go on a small club tour, do a few festivals and then what.

Jake E. Lee needs a presence online at the minimum. Release a couple of songs and get people talking about them. See how the songs connect. Having only a Facebook account today just doesn’t cut it. If no one is biting it’s because they are not interested and that the songs are not good enough.

The lyric video for Feeder has over 48,000 views. The song is nothing really earth shattering. There is no classic riff that will stick around forever and a day to haunt my eardrums. The comments on YouTube are varied. People dig Robin Zander on vocals, but don’t like the guitars on the song. Then the comments started on the other song, Deceived. That song has the touring vocalist, Darren Smith singing. And the comments are not pretty. Maybe Jake needs a re-think on the vocalist. Maybe the fans are used to the pipes on Ray Gillen. Whatever the case is, Jake E. Lee needs to communicate with his fans if he wants to make an impact.

Sales are a one to one relationship. It starts and ends with a single transaction. The band/label gets the money and the fan gets the music.

What is the streaming policy? That is a one to many relationship that can be tracked. Data is the new currency in the music business. More so than the record sales. As an artist, you need to know who your fans are? Are they listening to your music.

If they sell less than 10,000 units, does that make the project a dud?

If anything, Jake E. Lee is basically an independent artist again. Frontiers Records doesn’t go out of its way to market any of their releases. Trust me, I am on their mailing list and all I get is the obligatory press release email saying a new release is coming out for so and so band. That’s it.

The reality that escapes Frontiers Records and the acts they sign is that music consumption and marketing have changed dramatically.

Try telling that to musicians. All musicians place a certain value on what they do. It is the usual “we poured our heart and soul” cliché. The funny thing is that worked once upon a time, when the Record Labels acted as Gatekeepers. It doesn’t work today and that is where the problems begin for musicians. They have no idea how to properly market themselves and they fail to understand the simply economics of supply and demand.

Marketing is difficult. Look at the musicians that make up Red Dragon Cartel. On vocals you have Darren Smith from Harem Scarem and Warmachine. In July he was involved in another project called Heavens Fire. How is he going to market himself? He is the lead vocalist and he has no presence. Jonas Fairley is doing his Twitter thing which is cool to see and Ronnie Mancuso is part of the same Eighties brigade as Jake E.Lee, expecting their names and the label to push the band.

You see each musician needs to market themselves in their own way. Look at Five Finger Death Punch. Each member markets themselves. The same for Motley Crue, Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Machine Head and so on.

The 2013 music world is littered with new releases. This is a far cry from the gatekeeper controlled release windows of the record labels. With so much supply of hard rock, blues rock and heavy metal music, the demand to listen to it all is just not there. That is why we gravitate to what people talk about. We feel like someone has done the homework for us.

The expectation that most artists have is that since they have talent, can write a song and love what they do, they should be able to charge people to listen. The reality is that there are thousands of bands trying to reach the same fans that are very careful with the money they spend on music.

Music was never a sure thing. The music world is grown bigger and way more competitive.

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

It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Don’t Have The Grit To Rock N Roll)

I just finished reading a “Wall Street Journal” article that had a section about Angela Lee Duckworth, about how “GRIT TRUMPS TALENT” and the GRIT scale that she designed.

Grit means the passion and perseverance for long-term goals. In other words, the grittiest person will end up achieving much more than the talented person who doesn’t exhibit any grit. The career of an aritst is all about the taking risks, putting it all on the line and on occasion experiencing defeat. Add to that mix, “GRIT”.

So in every facet of our lives we will face a person that has super talent and grit. We will face a person who possess some talent, but a lot of grit. Finally, we will face a person who has no talent and no grit.

When I think of GRIT, I think of Mick Mars and Twisted Sister.

Starting off with Mick Mars.

Was he supremely talented? No.

Did he have the GRIT? Hell yeah.

Just think about it for a moment. Mick Mars started off doing the band circuit around 1971 and it was 11 years later when Motley Crue got picked up Elektra. Then came the shred era with the release of Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Rising Force” in 1983 and poor old Mick Mars was blasted by the new guitar fans of the movement.

He was too sloppy, he was too old, he was too slow, he wasn’t technical enough and it just went on and on. The last laugh is being had by Mick Mars. He is still around. Regardless of what you think about Motley Crue, or the band members within, one thing they do have is GRIT.

Let’s look at Twisted Sister, the best bar band doing the tri-state scene. For Jay Jay French, it was a long way to the top. He started off Twisted Sister in 1972. Dee Snider joined in 1976. The band came to world-wide attention in 1983, with the release of “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” and the follow-up “Stay Hungry” in 1984.

Was Twisted Sister the most talented heavy metal band doing the rounds at this time? Of course not.

Did Twisted Sister have the grit to make it? Hell Yeah.

One could argue that the band ceased to be in 1987, so what happened to the GRIT? It lived on with Dee Snider. Regardless of the success of his post Twisted Sister bands, Dee Snider continued to battle it out. He never gave up.

Looking at some other artists, I immediately think of Vito Bratta from White Lion.

Vito Bratta is a favourite of mine and a massive influence. He is a supremely talented guitarist and songwriter, however with his exile from the music business since 1992, it looks like he just didn’t have the GRIT.

Mike Tramp on the other hand, has the GRIT (Freaks Of Nature, a new version of White Lion, plus a tonne of solo releases), but without Vito, he doesn’t have the talent in the compositions.

Jake E. Lee is another favourite of mine that has sort of disappeared from the public conversation. A very talented musician, who got the boot from Ozzy Osbourne because he couldn’t agree with Sharon Osbourne over the publishing rights of Ozzy’s music. So he goes on to form Badlands with Ray Gillen (RIP) and they release two excellent albums before calling it a day with ego tantrums and arguments.

Is Jake E. Lee talented? Of course

Does he have any GRIT? I am going to answer YES on this one. Since the end of Badlands, Jake E Lee has gone on to appear on a lot of tribute albums, along with a few solo releases and a couple of projects that he demoed songs with. The bottom line is, he never really stopped creating.

Currently, he is recording songs for a new project called Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel.

To finish off, the immortal words of Bon Scott (RIP) from AC/DC;

Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks

Standard
Music

Mike Portnoy

I am a Dream Theater fan. If you look at the original pressing of Lifting Shadows, my name is in that book. I am one of those super fans. If you look at all the bootleg Ytse Jam recordings released, I have them all, the CD’s and DVD’s. I have all of their albums, all of their video releases, DVD releases, as well as single editions. I even purchased their fan club editions from EBAY for $50 a pop. I saw Dream Theater in Australia on the two tours they did and I saw John Petrucci (with Mike Portnoy on drums) on the G3 tour with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

I am a fan of Dream Theater because of the songs. That is why I purchased their products, their merchandise and that is why I paid to watch them live. It is a well-known fact that all the band members have technique and chops. Other bands have come out with greater technical abilities, however if the songs are not there, then no one cares.

It was Pull Me Under that caught my attention. It was the music. Music comes from the guitar, keyboards and the bass. Drums don’t create music. Drums provide a beat. So I have no idea why Mike Portnoy thought he was the star of Dream Theater and bigger than the band. He is just a drummer. That’s it. When is he going to realise that people do not come to watch him drum. People come to the show to hear music. Strip away all the music, all you have is a beat. Dream Theater is a sum of its parts. Together, they created stand out genre defining progressive rock/metal albums.

I don’t really know what part Portnoy could have played in writing the music. I am sure his ideas where more about arranging or approving what riffs made it and what didn’t. His lyrics didn’t hit the mark either. Regardless, he is just a drummer. Even someone as big as Tommy Lee, can’t go out alone. It’s not the same. He tried it and he realised that his home sweet home is Motley Crue. An exception to the rule is Phil Collins and Dave Grohl. They are artists, not just drummers.

I really like what Adrenaline Mob does. It’s just good old heavy metal/rock. It sounds pure, it sounds nostalgic, it sounds fresh and it sounds epic. More importantly, the songs are there. They have the riffs that stand out, and the catchy vocal melodies provided by THE DON. It is a great package. To me Adrenaline Mob is a big thumbs up. Even the recent Coverta EP, had a cover of High Wire from Badlands one of the all-time biggest underrated bands. Badlands featured the talents of Jake E Lee post Ozzy and the masterful voice of Ray Gillen.

However, Flying Colors was complete garbage. Is there any chance I can get my money back on that one? I don’t know how they sat around in the studio, creating that album and looked at each other saying, these songs are great. I understand, Portnoy is trying to sow the seeds on a few different projects, however this one just didn’t grow.

So I get in my inbox the latest news from Mike Portnoy, another band he is kicking off , post his departure from Dream Theater. This one is called The Winery Dogs, featuring Billy Sheehan on bass and Richie Kotzen on guitars/vocals with Portnoy on drums. This is the project that was supposed to feature John Sykes. The song was called Elevate. I checked it out on YouTube. I don’t mind it, but I don’t like it.

First, Richie Kotzen can’t sing. He can mimic other voices made popular by real singers. In this song he sounds like Chris Cornell during the Audioslave era.

Secondly, as a guitarist that writes music Richie Kotzen hasn’t written a good song. Okay I lied. I liked what he did with Poison on Native Tongue, giving Poison a very bluesy soul feel, however his solo albums (the ones with the singing) are lame, and the work he did with Mr Big after Paul Gilbert left was also lame.

Thirdly they are all trying to show that they are skilful, that they can shred, that they can play. Hello, its 2013. Everyone can play these days. The grunge and nu metal days are over. Hell you have a six year old playing Sweet Child O Mine on YouTube, where even the songwriter was blown away.

New bands starting off these days have killer guitar players. Look at the stuff that Synester Gates and Zacky Vengeance come up with, the Trivium guys, the Bullet For My Valentine guys and so on.

Mike thought his career would skyrocket and that he was the man. Guess what Mike. You are just a drummer. You best bet is to go back to Dream Theater however from the press that happened when you left, I don’t think that will happen.

So your next bet, is to focus on Adrenaline Mob and deliver to the world, an album that can rival Black Sabbath’s – Heaven and Hell, Metallica’s – Black, AC/DC’s – Back In Black, Led Zeppelin’s – Physical Graffiti, Whitesnake’s – 1987 and Aerosmith’s – Get A Grip. The musicians are there and the talent is there. Stop spreading yourself too thin. Focus on one and get it right. I know you can. It takes time. Look at how long you persisted with Dream Theater. It’s back to those days again

Standard