Every label head said Schenker was finished, washed up.
It’s 1991 and a supergroup called Contraband drop their debut album. And it keeps on dropping because it is so bad. The nice advance payment that Schenker got to be involved in the project didn’t do much to enhance or move forward his career. In fact his manager and ex-partner took most of it.
But he stays alive, because he’s a lifer. When you have been in the game for this long, the only thing you know how to do is play. And play he did. He jumped on board the unplugged bandwagon and released an album. He called up Robin McAuley and released another McAuley Schenker studio album.
Then he re-unites with Phil Mogg and they start writing. The songs got the labels interested and the “Walk On Water” album from UFO, released in 1995 surprised everyone. Suddenly Schenker was back on the agenda and he’s getting money thrown at him again. He had a lot of bad people in his life at this point in time, from managers and partners, so it was always going to happen that MSG would return.
I didn’t think it would be that quick. Because a year after “Walk On Water”, “Written In The Sand” is released, the eighth full-length studio album that falls under the MSG brand.
The only thing consistent with all of these MSG albums is the name and Michael Schenker himself. The other members are in a constant flux. For this album, Schenker is joined by Leif Sundin on vocals, Shane Gaalaas on drums, and Barry Sparks on bass. All the music is by Michael Schenker and all lyrics by Leif Sundin.
Ron Nevison is doing all the Producing, Engineering and Mixing.
It’s not on Spotify which irks me, but YouTube has it.
Brave New World
It’s got groove, swing and lot of rock and roll. And the first thing that grabs my attention are the vocals from Leif Sundin. His voice is very melodic, fluid and unique. I would say he’s up there as one of the best singers in MSG.
The lead breaks are impressive, with Schenker even soloing over a harmony solo which acts as a rhythm guitar.
Cry No More
Press play to hear the intro. Its heavy and a lot of acts who went alternative to survive weren’t doing riffs like this during this period. The song could have been on a Deep Purple album and it wouldn’t be out pf place.
It’s a ballad that turns into a rocker. It’s not original, yet it is an easy listen.
Back to Life
No one was writing riffs like this in 1996. Its old school and I like it. Barry Sparks is massive on the bass here as well.
Written in the Sand
This track is essential MSG. It has a sleazy bluesy riff and a lot of melody. And Schenker delivers a tasty guitar-solo in the middle and for the outro.
It wouldn’t be an MSG album without an instrumental. This one has an “Eruption” vibe before moving into a fast blues. Think of “Hot For Teacher” when it picks up.
Love Never Dies
Imagine “Finish What Ya Started” merging with the melodic rock genre. Well this is the outcome. Another close favourite with a killer Schenker lead break.
I Will Be There
Press play to hear the verse riff. Schenker makes it sound technical, yet it rocks so fluidly.
Take Me Through the Night
Its classic heavy metal while the singing is happening and the solo section is barroom blues brawling.
It wouldn’t be out of place on any metal album from the early 80’s.
Down the Drain
The album closer showcases how Schenker decorates in a creative way. You cannot ignore how good it is.
While Schenker’s North American career had stalled, he was still a big draw in Japan and certain European markets. And just like that, the whole “Contraband” affair was forgotten. That is if you heard the album. Which wasn’t easy to do.
I was a fan back in the day and I still enjoy cranking their tunes. They released two official albums that I am aware off, in “Rise” (2008) and “iMerica” in 2010. There was an “Unplugged EP” in 2012 and a Kickstarter project that release new songs to the backers only in 2014.
I hope Anew Revolution make more music. They have fans. We probably won’t make the band millions, but we will listen.
Once upon a time, it used to cost a lot of money to record. Very few acts, got signed and even less acts got a chance to record and get distributed. Getting inside the record label machine was hard, however if an act could penetrate, they could have a long career even if they never had a hit on the charts.
The label did have good intentions to keep you in the business and the label would promote you. All at your cost of course. But the truth is, it was harder to keep a record deal than to get a record deal. Especially if you didn’t sell. And even more so, once MTV came out and you didn’t sell.
Kiss benefited from this business model. They relied on the label putting some money upfront for the recording of the album, for the film clips and for tour support.
Then Napster came, then torrents, the iTunes store and streaming and Gene and Paul just kept on shouting it loud to everyone about how there is no music business, while they toured non-stop and made money from the music business.
In the process they recorded two albums during this period.
Yep, two albums. “Sonic Boom” and “Monster”. But for all of the complaining about streaming they did, the Kiss catalogue was on Spotify Australia. Then half of it was off. Then it was back on after a few weeks off. Madness.
I’m against bands withholding their music from a service that people legitimately pay for.
It’s all about consumption. Funds are tight, but Google and Spotify is not the problem. The artists are getting squeezed by the consumer. The consumer either listens or doesn’t want to listen to your music.
For any artist thinking of withholding their music from a streaming service, don’t do it. Don’t hold back progress. Because if you look at the past, you will see people who said the internet would kill the incentive to make music. Wrong, there’s so much more music than ever before. People said streaming would kill the business. Wrong, revenues are up and streaming is seen as it’s saviour.
Coming into 1984, hard rock and metal bands started popping up everywhere in the mainstream. Magazines moved their reporting from different styles of music to cover only hard rock. The labels even started promoting rock music as different genres. Eventually, the heavy metal section of the record store would be divided to include hard rock, speed metal and extreme metal. In a few more years after that, glam metal and melodic rock would also be listed as categories. But in 1984, regardless of what “genre” a band got labelled with after, we still found the albums in the heavy metal section of the record shop.
Judas Priest still had the world in the palm of their hands with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” and then they dropped “Defenders Of The Faith”. “The Sentinel” is my favourite track on the album. I could listen to it over and over again.
The debut album from the “guys from Jersey” is tiny compared to the albums that came after, but it still has some worthy riffs to talk about. So press play on Bon Jovi’s debut.
The fury known as Yngwie Malmsteen dropped his debut album “Rising Force” and neo-classical got an adrenaline shot.
The Fish led era of Marillion dropped “Fugazi”. It was an acquired taste and I enjoyed the music more than the vocals.
When I first heard “Ride The Lightning”, I didn’t even know what kind of music it was. I felt like a chainsaw assaulted my earbuds. It didn’t sound like the hard rock mixes I was used to, as my ears were conditioned to enjoy the Tom Werman, Keith Olsen, Bruce Fairbairn produced albums.
It was original, progressive and it set the track list running template for the future albums which followed.
I didn’t know it then, but Y&T would became one of my favourite bands ever. Their big money Geffen move didn’t happen until the late 80’s and A&M was the wrong label for their classic era. Regardless, Y&T’s is part of my DNA. “In Rock We Trust” I say.
From a copyright point of view, how the hell would David Coverdale do the accounting for the “Slide It In” album. There are the songwriters who would deserve their royalty and then there are the two versions of the album, with different members who would get a performance royalty.
The final Cold Chisel album “Twentieth Century” came out months after they played their final show in December of 83.
And it had three classics in “Saturday Night”, “No Sense” and “Flame Trees”. It’s also hard to believe that “No Second Prize” from Jimmy Barnes solo album that followed this, was submitted and rejected from this album.
I absolutely support that musicians should be paid for their work.
What I don’t get is how the record labels and misguided artists feel entitled to push for stronger copyright enforcement as a way to guarantee an income which is contrary to the foundations of what copyright was designed to do.
The song “Happy Birthday” goes all the way back to 1893 and it was under Copyright protection until 2030 because someone decided to retroactively place it back under copyright. Then there was outrage and then it was part of the public domain.
Copyright protectionism is about protecting old business models. Stronger Copyright has nothing to do about supporting thriving new industries. Stronger Copyright has nothing to do about finding new ways of doing things.
And people do pay for music.
Metallica’s self-titled Black album is still moving on average 2000 units a week. And it is doing this even though millions of copies of the album are available to be downloaded for free. It is doing this even though it is available for streaming on Spotify and YouTube.
Volbeat has been selling records on a weekly basis in the U.S since 2011. They are doing these numbers even though their album/s are available to be downloaded on peer-to-peer networks. They are doing these numbers even though their albums are available for streaming. Same deal with Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Skillet. Still selling, regardless of the state of piracy.
So what is it. Do artists need stronger copyright laws or better business models and terms that pay them a fair days pay for a fair days work?
What a great band name, using a police slang term for a motorcyclist crashing and skidding along the road at high speed. Their so called overnight success was 14 plus years in the making that began in different states and different cities, far removed from the Sunset Strip of LA.
Vocalist Gary Jeffries has a huge story to tell. He put in a lot of time playing the bar circuit and his origin story dates back to the Seventies. Eventually he came to L.A in the mid Eighties to audition for QUIET RIOT after original vocalist Kevin DuBrow left. He didn’t get that gig, losing out to Paul Shortino from Rough Cutt.
Start with the debut album. They wanted to call the album “Mood Swing” and once you sink your teeth into it, that is exactly what you will get.
It was produced by Greg Edward who paid his dues as an engineer on big albums like “Scarecrow” from John Cougar Mellencamp and “Like a Rock” from Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Virgin Records released the album and it looks like they had no idea how to promote the band or the album in a changing musical landscape.
It was a million dollar blockbuster and the mythology around Motley Crue by 1989 supported and underpinned this blockbuster movie. The drug overdoses, the return from death, the crashed cars, the women, the drugs, the partying, the clashes with the law and the eventual “sobriety”.
It is their first album with Bob Rock, who Nikki found via Ian Astbury from “The Cult”. Remember that music is a relationship business. That is how we are meant to roll. It was recorded in Canada at Little Mountain Studios at the same time that Aerosmith was recording “Pump”. Both of the biggest party bands had committed to a healthy lifestyle, going on jogs together.
The piece de resistance is “Dr Feelgood”. Musically, it is a Mick Mars composition, that he had completely mapped out on his own. He had to take the song to the band a few times before they started to pay attention to it and it was the song that started the ball rolling with Bob Rock, after the band sent him a demo.
Can you imagine Vince Neil singing for a whole day and only having one line of a lyric that was deemed usable?
Yep, that was the standard set by Bob Rock. Of course a million dollar budget didn’t hurt. And didn’t they come a long way from the seven days recording session for “Too Fast For Love”. Album number five left no loose ends.
“Dr Feelgood” set a new standard for hard rock and a lot of the bands like Dokken, Great White, Firehouse, Poison, Ratt and so many others just didn’t take that next step. And of course, shortly after the album was released, Metallica went to Bob Rock and said that they want their own “Dr Feelgood”.
“Today I Caught the Plague” was first. I thought the band name was crap but the debut album “Lore” was a real stand out for 2011. I came across the band by sheer luck when I saw a tour poster from “Protest The Hero” and it had “Today I Caught The Plague” as one of the supports.
While “Lore” was an independent release, “Life In Lucidity” is on Sumerian Records. A label that is perfect for them. Because labels are still the answer to get your name out to the masses. As much as the internet was meant to level the playing field, the labels have more power than ever. So if you want to be on a label, you need to be on a label that specialises and deals with bands that are of similar styles.
The first song I listened to was “Heritage” and I bought the album on iTunes not long after, ordered the CD from Amazon and put it as a favourite on my Spotify playlist.
A very long post covering Zakk’s long career with Ozzy, Pride And Glory, Ozzy again and Black Label Society up to 2014. Check out what I think are essential songs that people should listen to from Mr Berserker Wylde.
And I just kept talking about “Angel Of Mercy”, spreading the gospel on the song from Black Label Society.
Great music must contain emotion. That is why “Angel Of Mercy” connected with me. It hits me emotionally and it makes me feel something. All the great songs do? And because I care for the song, I can’t stop sharing it and talking about it with people who want to listen. And when music is done right, it sells itself.
And that’s a wrap for a month’s worth of DoHistory. Let’s get back to reading blog posts and posting some more content.
You paid your dues from hotel to motel, got ripped off on the pay from the promoter, had some fights and some good times and maybe, just maybe, you might have gotten a recording contract.
Which didn’t guarantee success, but it gave you a chance to play in the field of dreams.
Suddenly, MTV made people believe that if they got a recording contract, success was guaranteed. And the live show became a clone of the recordings, because artists took their time to get the recordings perfect.
Music is cultures greatest invention and the record labels signed artists based on the music more than the commercial potential. With some A&R development, smart marketing, an audience would come and a career is built. But streaming put the public in control. It took away the power of scorched earth marketing tactics from the labels.
Songs that go nuts on streaming happen months before the rest of the mainstream picks up on them. And every so few years something new comes along that becomes mainstream. Classic rock gave birth to prog rock to punk to metal to hair rock to grunge to industrial to nu metal and so forth.
Alice Copper had a string of hit albums in the Seventies. Towards the end of the decade and in the early Eighties his output was of a lesser standard while he dabbled in new wave rock. Then he started to gain some momentum with two underrated hard rock/metal releases in “Constrictor” and “Raise Your Fist and Yell”. But the massive mainstream comeback happened with “Trash”, his Eighteenth studio album. Yep, Alice’s career was eighteen albums deep.
So when it came time to record the follow-up to “Trash”, another star-studded cast was assembled.
A lot of cash was thrown at every body. It was a who’s who of hard rock royalty.
I don’t understand why people go to a rock show or a metal show to film the whole thing on a smart phone.
I have also been known to break out my iPhone and capture some footage or a few photos for posterity. But I’ve never gone back and referred to my amateur filming or photography.
The reasons are simple, those captures can never accurately reflect the concert as I witnessed it.
Once upon a time it was a big thing to go to a concert and talk about it, but these days it’s no big deal.
So is videoing a concert with a phone a violation of an artist’s copyright. Don Henley says it is, however he also said that he doesn’t want the shows posted on YouTube because it spoils it for people who are going to come to a show in the future and that he doesn’t want to see Eagles content out there that sounds horrible.
Some use it as a form of a diary record, to remember or relive that moment when their favourite song came on. Some do it to share the moment and their love for the artist. Some do it because they simple can. A smart phone or an iPad or Tablet, allows us the convenience to do so.
Sweden is a massive exporter of cultural content. Most of the bands I like are from Sweden and one of the biggest Pop songwriters over the last 25 years is also from Sweden.
Isn’t it funny how the home country of Spotify also has one of the most vibrant rock and metal scenes in the world. But wait a second. I am sure I have heard the RIAA and their proponents scream that because music has been devalued, no one will create anymore.
Well it looks like someone forgot to tell the Swedes, a country that has embraced streaming and guess what, their musical scene is flourishing.
I don’t mind my fix of Power Metal. Here is my own 10 second wrap up of a whole genre beginning from the Seventies.
It started with Deep Purple, Rainbow and Iron Maiden. Then Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween came along. They both increased the tempos and Yngwie Malmsteen exaggerated the classical elements which led to the current Power Metal movement which is just a higher tempo version of the beast that Yngwie Malmsteen and Helloween inspired.
The thing with power metal at the moment is that there are so many acts out on the market that are just not good enough to be there. They think by playing at break neck speeds it makes them good enough.
Kamelot is not one of them. Because Kamelot is not all about higher tempos. There is more variation in their music. Credit Thomas Youngblood, one of the bands original founders.
I’m listening to “Silverthorn”, Kamelot’s tenth studio album and their third concept story.
It’s the song “Veritas” that connected with me. And the connection comes in the form of a band called Savatage, who I am a big fan off, especially the era of Criss Oliva. Because it sounds like something that could have been recorded for a Savatage album.
I can’t say that I like everything that Kamelot has put out, however they have done enough on each album to keep me interested to come back and invest my time to hear each new album. And that is what matters today.
I really enjoyed Daybreak Embrace’s 2010 EP “Tomorrow Awaits”. From that EP “Thirty–Six” is a dead set classic and “Sanctuary” is not that far behind. This is where people should start.
So I was curious as to what new music they had released since then.
I go to Spotify, type in their name and I see that they have new music. The “Mercury” EP was released in 2013. Damn, how did I miss that. The Modern Rock scene in the U.S is a very crowded marketplace. With all the beautiful things that the Internet has brought us, one thing hasn’t changed. It is still difficult for a band to get attention and the odds of success are still very low.
By 1993, everything changed. The Record Labels threw their lots in with the Grunge movement, abandoning the majority of the hard rock and heavy metal bands they had on their roster. But, hard rock and metal releases still kept on coming. The only issue was that they became harder to get in Australia.
And “Sacred Groove” from George Lynch would probably never get booted out of the Top 10 list for that year. It’s an album that has guitar instrumentals with hard rock songs featuring some of the best singers. Slash did something similar with his Solo album a decade later.
The best instrumental track by far on the album is “Tierra Del Fuego”. A six-minute tour de force in Flamenco Hard Rock music.
The best vocal track on the album is “We Don’t Own The World”, that has vocals by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. But the song is actually written by George Lynch and Don Dokken. Dokken was supposed to sing on the track, however he failed to show up at the studio. So Lynch got the Nelson twins who were in the studio next door recording their ill-fated “Imaginator” album, which got rejected by Geffen and John Kalodner.
“Flesh And Blood” is written by George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and Ray Gillen is on vocals. This is a rare gem as Ray was to pass away that same year. That awesome groove sets it up and Lynch owns that solo.
Glenn Hughes involvement with George Lynch goes back to the Lynch Mob days, when he recorded scratch vocals on the second album, so that new singer Robert Mason could follow. On Lynch’s first proper solo outing, he sings on two songs, “Not Necessary Evil” and “Cry Of The Brave”. Both of the songs have music written by Lynch and lyrics by Hughes. This period of Hughes’s career is the one I like the most. He was everywhere with his own solo project, with George Lynch, with John Norum, with a Blues project and many more.
Back then I asked the question “If we stop using Spotify or Netflix, would we miss them?”
Since then a lot of other players have taken market share in the steaming world.
I am a heavy user of Spotify. For Netflix its hit and miss. Sometimes I could go weeks without using it and on other occasions it’s every day.
At the moment, in 2022, I also have subscriptions to Stan, Amazon, Paramount+ and Disney.
Being missed when you’re gone is a worthy objective for any organisation. It also should be an objective for any artist. If I stopped listening to music in general, I would miss it. If I stopped listening to music from certain artists I would really miss it.
And the ones who will survive are not those looking for short term profits, but those that realize it’s a war of attrition.
Metallica wanted to re-issue their 1982 demo “No Life To Leather”. Dave Mustaine on Twitter, said the talks broke down because Lars wanted song writing credits on two songs that Mustaine wrote every note and word to. So instead of agreeing to share the song writing, Mustaine passed.
Song writing is always an issue with bands.
Van Halen had all the band members listed as songwriters on all of their albums. Suddenly, when the band re-negotiated their publishing deals for their earlier David Lee Roth albums, Michael Anthony was removed as a song writer.
Skid Row’s Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan said that Sebastian Bach didn’t contribute to the Skid Row debut album as most of the songs were written before Bach joined. Bach countered to say, that the way he sung the songs, and the way he decided to hold certain notes was enough of a contribution to the debut album and he should be listed as a songwriter. Manager Doc McGhee said Bach has no idea how copyright works.
Nikki Sixx said one of the reasons for Vince Neil’s departure from Motley was due to his lack of song writing contributions, which Vince countered to say he had enough co-writes on Motley’s classic 80’s era to counter that.
100% of the time, when an individual writes a song, there will be music, words and melodies written at the same time.
I went in cold on this as well. The first thing that came to mind was “A Perfect Circle”. So I Googled it and of course it is Billy Howerdel’s project. And he sings on it. The album came out in 2008 and the first time I heard it was May, 2014.
“Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” is the album name and there is no filler here. Check it out.
“Angel Of Mercy” from Black Label Society always gets me to pay attention.
The song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society.
And the lead break is pure magic. Just listen.
It builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display.
The song was never a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.
Ozzy probably didn’t know it, but in Zakk, he had a guitarist who could do Black Sabbath better than Black Sabbath, do the works of Randy Rhoads justice. (Of course, as a diehard RR fan, no one could do RR better than RR himself) and Zakk could play Jake E Lee better than Jake E Lee. Zakk once called his Ozzy gig the most glorified covers gig ever, where he gets to play some cool shit written by others and he also gets to play his own shit.
The follow-up self-titled Lynch Mob album had Keith Olsen producing. I suppose anything to do with George Lynch, includes a saga with a lead singer.
Dokken was 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 had Lynch scoring some points with the excellent “Wicked Sensation” coming first. However, Don Dokken and John Kalodner were still building their all-star cast for “Up From The Ashes” and even though the album was an exemplary piece of melodic hard rock, it failed commercially. I suppose Don’s $1 million advance sign on fee didn’t help the budget. But it is still a favourite to me.
And 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 on the demos and then new singer Robert Mason would record em.
Fun fact for the day is that Glen Hughes did co-write a few tunes with Don Dokken for the “Up From The Ashes” album, with “When Love Finds A Fool” making it to the final cut.
But the album failed to match the sales of “Wicked Sensation” even though “Tangled In The Web” was a Top 10 hit.
Lynch Mob went 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 he was discriminated against because of his age.
And then George Lynch returned to Dokken 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.
The recording industry tells us that we need more Copyright for music to thrive and survive. But nursery rhymes survived all this time without the recording industry and copyright.
Say bye-bye to the old and say hello to the new. Here is a list of the new nursery rhymes that my two-year old loves.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It”
Back in the Eighties, the PMRC listed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as number 7 on their filthy fifteen list. And the reason why it was on the list. Violence. Yep, Tipper Gore and her housewives found the song to be violent while millions upon millions of adolescent teens found it empowering.
“Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Rock and Roll”, “Rock N Roll All Nite”
Songs about letting your hair down.
“Livin On A Prayer” and “Don’t Stop Believin”
Two songs are about never giving up and believing in yourself. And those people are still believing with billion plus streams for these songs.
“Eye Of The Tiger”
The “Rocky III” producers wanted to use “Another One Bites The Dust” however they could not get permission to use the song, so Sylvester Stallone hired Survivor to write an original song instead.
“We Will Rock You”
The boom boom cha. It’s undeniable.
And these songs get passed on via word of mouth. It’s how culture rolls.
Six years had passed since Death Magnetic was released.
Led Zeppelin Reissue’s
Seriously. How many times can someone own the original three albums or the songs contained within those albums.
Seriously. Is this still an issue in 2014?
Streaming Doesn’t Pay
It does pay. If you are not getting any of the pie speak to the label or the organisation that holds your rights.
They are irrelevant. All they do is give the old guard a way to measure something that is irrelevant because the new way to measure an artist’s reach is just too hard to fathom for them.
Are people listening to the album?
Press Releases for new albums
People can see through the hype. We don’t care when bands say “how great this new album is” or “how it is a definitive statement of the band right now”. All we care about is if we like it. If we do like it, we will talk about and we will push it. If it is crap, expect it to disappear.
Because if publicity does increase sales, then bands should be selling by the millions and selling out their shows. But they don’t.
And that’s another wrap of DoH history for a week.
My favourite album from Stabbing Westward. It was my first proper listening experience from them. I purchased the single, “So Far Away” and then downloaded a copy of the album before purchasing it.
And it’s not on Spotify which pisses me off. But of course YouTube has all the music.
What’s the deal with the cover?
If your making a statement about a self-titled album, is that the cover you want to advertise it?
After this album, I went back to listen to their earlier stuff via various Cyberlockers, Limewire, AudioGalaxy sites.
They needed to press the reset switch on their career.
How much more darker do they want to go?
The first album was called “Ungod,” the second was called “Whither, Blister, Burn and Peel” and the third was called “Darkest Days.” And for a name like “Stabbing Westward” I didn’t expect to hear a pop rock album.
They had three albums with Sony and two of em achieved a Gold certification from the RIAA. But they signed with an independent label after that in Koch Records.
Their new manager wanted the band to create an album with a heavy pop influence. Christopher Hall, Walter Flakus, and Mark Eliopulos fought against this decision. Somehow the manager had more power within the band than the actual band members and guitarist Mark Eliopulos was fired by the manager who brought in Derrek Hawkins as both a studio and live musician, as well as a new producer, Ed Buller.
For this album, Stabbing Westward is Christopher Hall – vocals, Derrek Hawkins – guitar, Jim Sellers – bass, Walter Flakus – keyboards and Andy Kubiszewski – drums.
Released on May 22, 2001, the album did well in Australia, but ultimately failed to sell worldwide like their previous albums. They got put on a tour opening up for “The Cult” however the label told them to drop out as they were wasting their money being the opening band on a tour that wasn’t setting any attendance records and to wait around for a better offer.
So Far Away
The themes of anger, hurt, regret and despair are still there in the lyrics, however the music is straight ahead heavy rock and the vocal melodies could have come from an 80’s hard rock album.
A strummed acoustic guitar which reminds me of Tonic. It’s a happy song about Hall’s girlfriend. I guess she was just perfect.
My favourite song on the album. It’s a soft rock song with a simple D to Bm to A to G chord progression and a haunting vocal melody. It also reminds me of tracks from Porcupine Tree like “Lazarus” and “Trains” hence the reason why I probably like it.
As good as any hard rock song that did the charts before and after. Most people associate it with drugs, but it’s not. It’s about looking back at your life so far and seeing how the decisions you made in the past lead to you burning so many bridges and feeling lonely.
Oasis wasn’t writing songs like this anymore.
Do the same old demons haunt just me?
Sometimes it’s hard to escape the past and the feelings you have to those occasions.
The Only Thing
It reminds me of The Verve and that alternative soft rock.
Very similar to “Wasted” in feel.
Breathe You In
An acoustic guitar riff reminiscent to The Verve and Oasis.
A short drum intro and then an aggressive Bush/Live like vibe kicks in with the main riff.
It sounds like a cut from “The Tea Party” and it’s a nod to their past albums.
Is anyone alive / Or am I lost in a world where nothing matters / Am I lost in a world where no one cares
I suppose the question can be asked about again about social media and all the noise that comes with that.
A bonus track for the Australian and Japanese edition. It has a “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” vocal vibe in the verses.
This record made me a fan. But. Before a fifth LP could be recorded, the band disbanded on February 9, 2002.
Vocalist Christopher Hall started a band called “The Dreaming” and by 2016, that band had Walter Flakus and Mark Eliopulos in the fold. In other words, three/fifths of Stabbing Westward. So it was just a matter of time before Stabbing Westward reunited. First for a reunion tour and in 2022, they dropped a new album called “Chasing Ghosts”.
Life always throws curveballs. I have reached the stage in my life where I don’t have the time to do my full time IT job. I wouldn’t have it any other way with all of the family distractions, however my blogging has suffered a fair bit in 2022, from the usual daily posts to a post or two in a week and then back to daily posts and then to one or two a week again. Even reading and commenting on posts has gone a bit slack, but I will get around to reviewing it all.
So here is a two week review of Destroyer Of Harmony History.
4 Years Ago (2018)
Copyright was designed to protect the artist and to enhance culture. It did this, by giving the artist a monopoly on their works, so they could make money from their works and have an incentive to create further works. This monopoly was for a short period with the option to renew. Once the expiry date passed, the works became part of the public domain for future generations to build on and use. Like how the 60’s musicians took all the Blues classics from the 30’s that had terms which expire in the 50s and the “British Invasion” was born.
Corporations started to rise because of these monopolies and what we have now is a copyright standard so far removed from what copyright was meant to be. For over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning.
“Why would a label be insisting on keeping a property that has stopped selling, that they don’t have any plans to re-promote except when the artist dies?” Todd Rundgren
“Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device” Lawrence Lessig
The songwriters and the actual artists will never be properly compensated because of poor record keeping from the record labels and the publishing organisations, but these same organisations blame the technology companies for not doing enough to seek out the songwriters.
But the labels licensed their catalogues to the techies, so wouldn’t they have the information as to who wrote what. Especially for the lesser artists.
There is a scene in the “Uncensored” video with Vince Neil cruising down the Sunset Strip in a limo with a spa pool and he’s talking about the name of the next album, called “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
On May 15, 1987, “Girls Girls Girls” comes out and the world was treated to two video clips. The “Censored” clip and the “Uncensored” one. MTV had a ball with it.
And the clip is misleading. While it looks like the guys are having fun, attending strip clubs and dropping bills into knickers, Nikki Sixx was in the spiralling grip of a heroin addiction, Mick Mars was blacking out from alcoholism, Tommy Lee was coking it up, screwing anything that moved and somehow managed to get married and still screw anything that moved, while Vince Neil was still on probation from his car crash homicide and pretending to be sober. In other words, life in the Crue was chaos with a capital MC.
The best track on the album is the opener, Nikki’s religious sermon to the street life of L.A. “Wild Side” is perfect, from the riffs, the drum groove, the vocal melodies and of course, the lyrics.
Kneel down ya sinners to streetwise religion Greed has been crowned the new king
From a commercial perspective, “Girls” was competing against “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi, “The Final Countdown” from Europe and Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album for listeners attention. “Look What the Cat Dragged In” from Poison was also rising. But it not only competed, it went toe to toe with all of those releases and Motley came out on top in the live box office. Hell, even Whitesnake was opening up for them.
And who can forget the words from management, that if the band went to Europe to tour, they will come home in body bags. “Girls” would be the end of the Motley band as we knew it. A snapshot of how a band can take alcohol and drugs to the limits.
Artists always had a lot of songs in the bank. Sometimes they didn’t even release their best song. They always withheld some for the next album and the album after. And they kept on writing.
Majority of artists are intrinsically motivated. The joy of creating a new song is what motivates them. If the song gets public acceptance, and it brings in money, great. As long as they are still motivated by the joy of creating a new song, they will be fine. As soon as they are motivated by the need to match or better the popularity of the “hit” song, then they are in trouble.
Social media is there to give you instant feedback. After the show is over, people are commenting. After a song is released, people are commenting. It gives you the ability to connect and know your fans, to interact with them and to get a feel for what they like and want from you.
Remember music is forever, and it needs people to like it. Be creative and never stop.
It takes artists a while, but they eventually realise how much their copyrights are worth. Nikki Sixx on Twitter said that the best industry lesson he learned was that Motley Crue didn’t really need a record label after the first two albums. And this antipathy towards labels ended up with Motley Crue getting their rights to the Masters back in 1998 from Elektra.
And then you have instances where artists need to sell their songwriting credits because of bad business decisions. K.K. Downing, founded Judas Priest. He left the band in 2011 due to issues with the other members and he purchased a golf course, which went into administration. As part of bankruptcy, Downing sold the rights to 136 songs he co-wrote. According to the article, these songs generate $340K to $400K in royalty payments annually back in 2018. Those numbers are only growing and the Copyright holders, (the Labels and The Publishers) are making their money back tenfold.
On the other side, is the graphic artists who normally get paid a flat fee for their services to create/design an album cover. At the time of designing the cover, no one really knows the impact the album might have on culture. So is the graphic artist to get paid extra when the album they designed the cover for broke through and sold millions. Case in point, Jethro Tull and the iconic “Aqualung” cover.
In the 70’s a young artist was hired by Chrysalis for $1,500 via a handshake deal to create three paintings to his style and content for Jethro Tull’s new album. The album went on to become Jethro Tull’s best-selling album, with over 7 million copies sold and so many anniversary editions issued. And apart from the great music, the album cover has become iconic, being re-issued on cassettes, CD’s, T-shirts and what not. And the artist who painted it, well, the label contends it was a “work for hire” agreement. And with no written contract, the label can say anything, so Chrysalis (now Warner Brothers) said the copyright for the paintings belonged to them. Fancy that. A label claiming to own the artistic rights to art.
When it comes to artists and copyright law, it’s very messy, especially for famous works as the companies don’t want to lose the rights to valuable works. So the corporations always try to extend Copyright terms.
As much as I like using Spotify, once they reach critical mass, the prices will go up. But it’s easier said than done, as there is a lot of competition in streaming these days. And one of the key role of our governments is to make sure monopolies don’t exist, but every time they pass a piece of legislation, they more or less give rise to monopolies. Copyright monopoly anyone.
And back in 2018, my Netflix subscription went up and it went up again last year, while the shows I watched they keep cancelling like “Altered Carbon” or “Sense8”. But like all technology companies, once you reach critical mass, the price goes up. Maybe it’s time to reassess my financial commitments to these organizations.
Cinderella’s “Long Cold Winter” had its 30th Anniversary on May 21, 1988. It’s was good then and it’s still good today, a timeless album.
And on May 23, 1979, Kiss released “Dynasty”. It was my first Kiss album on LP and of course, due to having so little product to listen to, it became a favourite. However, my brothers friends who had the earlier Kiss albums hated this album.
On May 24, 1988, Van Halen released “OU812”. The piece d’resistance is “Mine All Mine”. It wasn’t just competing with the singles from this album for attention, it was competing with “Jump”, “Panama”, “Dreams”, “Summer Nights” and “Why Can’t This be Love” for attention. Because in the MTV era, songs had some legs.
And everything these bands represent is opposite to what is popular on the charts today. Today it’s all about the beat and it doesn’t feel personal which is opposite of what music should be.
Playing in a band is tough. Everyone wants to do it, but the long road to make some money and no safety net scared a lot of people off. And the ones who stuck it out, are still sticking it out.
Some broke through, some got signed and released music on a label and some still play the bar/club scene. These days, artists can record and release their music themselves, while holding down a full time job that pays.
Music is a lifers game. Because it’s alienating. When you write music, you are normally alone, surrounded by feelings. When you are on the road, you end up alone in a hotel room and for some artists they never come home alive. It’s hard to even speak about depression today, especially when you are surrounded by social media and it’s “everybody’s a winner” message.
So while society might base itself around the winners on social media, the truth is we all lose, each and every one of us at some point in time.
Did anyone hear about the copyright infringement suit between The Script and James Arthur.
Back in 2018, James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” released in 2016 had 846 million streams on Spotify and on YouTube it had over 600 million views.
Meanwhile “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” from The Script, released in 2008, doesn’t even rate a mention in the Top 10 streamed songs for The Script and even their biggest song, “Hall of Fame” released in 2012 is sitting at 419 million streams on Spotify. On YouTube, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” has 172 million views.
G, D, Em and C is the chord progression under question. The Script are adamant that the way they use the Chord progression with the vocal melody is unique and original and they are the first ones EVER to do it. Go to a Christian church and a lot of the songs they sing there use this chord progression. Pick up any album from any era and this chord progression will be there.
The songs do sound similar, but any song which uses this chord progression will sound similar. Of course it’s no surprise that the attorney’s representing “The Script” are the same ones Marvin Gaye’s heirs used for “Blurred Lines”. According to The Script’s legal team, at stake is $20 million dollars.
The reason why music became such a large commercial force is because songs sounded similar. In the book “Hitmakers” by Derek Thompson, it mentions how our tastes in music are based on something we’ve heard before with some slight variation.
How many times have we stumbled upon a new song that we like, listen to it constantly on repeat while we try to figure out what other song it sounds like?
But we live in a world that if someone is winning, someone must be losing. So in this case, James Arthur is winning and The Script are losing, because he is winning with a song that sounds similar to their song and their song sounds similar to another song and that other song sounds similar to another song and so on.
8 Years Ago (2014)
Remember the days of purchasing an album based on a heavily marketed opening track and to find out that the album had 1 great song and 2 to 3 maybe 4 decent songs. And the rest were there as pure filler.
After being burnt so many times on purchases like these, did the labels or artist need any more evidence as to why people took to cherry picking when the mp3 became available. And with streaming, we have taken it up a notch.
The big songs just keep getting bigger and the album cuts are forgotten. A lot of music listeners wouldn’t even be able to name the album that had “Don’t Stop Believin’”.
Yep the labels are at it again. Using money that should be paid to their artists to buy shares in another technology company.
This time around Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment have each bought $3 million in shares in Shazam Entertainment on top of the stake they own in Spotify.
The record labels still scream that there is no money in the recording business because of piracy. Yet, Universal Music has also purchased shares in Beats Music and when the Apple billion dollar purchase is complete of Beats, it will be even richer.
Yet, a recent IFPI report shows that the labels invested $4.5 billion in artist and repertoire. If there is no money in the recording business,then why would the record labels spend so much money on artist and repertoire.
Because artists are the lifeblood of the music industry. And it is artists that make the labels money. No one buys an album because Elektra released it.
The labels have purchasing power because of the artists.
The labels have status because of the artists.
The artists have made the label executives more wealthy than the best-selling artists.
So if the record labels own shares in Spotify and Shazam, does that mean by default, the artists also own those shares. The answer should be YES.
Every corporation in power, when faced with the inevitabilities of competition, have a nasty habit of pushing backwards. They assume that by killing off any competition before it gets some momentum, they have done enough to protect their business models. They assume that if they lobby or bribe hard enough and get even more draconian laws passed, it will give them more power to prevent any further problems down the line.
But change is eternal. It is progress and it cannot be stopped. Try as the corporations will, change always happen.
The recording industry built an empire decades ago based on the control of the media and the distribution chains. Teenage kids from 1999 built a better system.
And the system allows for the transitioning of power and control back to the audience and the actual creators. But the artists want to apply the old charging system to the new system.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person still buys a physical CD or LP of the artists, that same person should be able to download that whole album via a download site that the artist controls. Coheed and Cambria did this with “The Afterman” releases. Amazon offers it via the AutoRip option however not all artists opt in.
It should be the norm that in 2014, if a person wants to download an MP3 rip of an album for free, they should be able to do it. If Pirate sites make so much money from advertisements, then why don’t the record labels provide the same service that they pirate sites provide and even reward those uploaders for continuing to spread culture instead of locking it up. These people would never have purchased physical anyway.
Music is cultural. It was always possible to identify people’s musical tastes by the clothes they wore and the style of their hair. Our musical identity was a source of pride.
The definition of a casual music fan twenty to thirty years ago meant having a high music IQ and typically purchasing a seven inch single on a weekly basis. The definition of a casual music fan today means having a lower music IQ about who was involved in the song’s creation and focusing all on the song.
Nobody owes a musician a living and what is valuable is subjective.
From the beginning of time, musicians always made money from public performances.
Copyright at its basic level ensures that people receive compensation for a valuable good that they spend time and energy to create. This creates an incentive to put more time and energy into producing new work. Longer Copyright terms do not benefit the original creator in any way whatsoever.
People start to create for the sake of creation rather than money.
Whether people want to admit it or not, every song that is written relies on some sort of connection to past works.
Piracy has never been the problem. The RIAA just found it convenient to blame Piracy. It was all a smokescreen to fool the politicians into action so that they can get control back over the distribution/gatekeeper monopoly they had.
Recording revenues never recovered because it turns out that most people just want the best songs and not all of the songs.
There is a big difference between getting paid a “living wage” and earning one. Just because a musician creates a song or records an album, it doesn’t mean that you need to get paid a living wage. You need an audience that believes that you have provided a service to them by releasing your music.
Music is something people choose to do free and money is a by-product of doing music. A wage is something your employer pays you for doing your part in bringing him profit. If you want a wage for playing music and you are not a superstar act, then you need to put in your 40 hours a week. Be a music teacher, gig every day.
Being paid is good, but being known is better.
You could say wrong time, wrong place.
I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such a band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.
A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.
The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.
While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.
They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.
The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.
Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.
Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.
But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.
It’s there Eighth album.
How many bands out there had their biggest album on their 8th release?
Just to put it into context. Metallica’s 8th album was “St Anger”. Motley Crue’s 8th album was “New Tattoo”. Aerosmith’s 8th album was “Done With Mirrors”. Black Sabbath’s 8th album was “Never Say Die”. Ozzy’s 8th album was “Down To Earth”. Bon Jovi’s 8th album was “Bounce”.
When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.
I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.
What I did know was the music. And the music was great.
In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off.
The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.
The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.
“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.
Then the album blew up.
Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.
This week in 2018, the Tygers Of Pan Tang were getting a listen. And the cut “Mirror” written by John Sykes got a post.
It’s a forgotten Sykes cut, released in 1981 on the “Spellbound” album.
2014 (8 Years Ago)
This week in 2014 was all about advice.
So the first piece of advice is; “Each style of music regardless of the genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.”
The 80’s hard rock scene began in 1981 and the freeze happened in 1992. Some bands found success again many years later and some acts never recovered.
Crossfade is a band I like but singer/guitarist Ed Sloan is a slow worker when it comes to new music. The review of their album “We All Bleed” is here.
It came out in 2011, five years from the last album. Five years is a long time to be gone from the music industry these days. A lot of living takes place. Fans grow older. Tastes change. At the moment they are 11 years gone with no new product. But Ed Sloan did release a few solo singles around 2017.
Glen Hughes is a survivor, a lifer who has survived a lot.
I’m a big fan of the melodic AOR rock style of Glenn Hughes so I wrote a “Primer” post on his melodic rock career with the disclaimer, “by no means is the list complete”.
Check it out. It covers a lot of ground and different artists like Deep Purple, John Norum, Don Dokken, Hughes Thrall, and Glenn Hughes.
Music used to be about finding some Avant garde musical and lyrical edge and pushing yourself and that edge to the limits.
Want to be as big as Metallica. Forget about the Napster court case and remember that Metallica was a band that had an edge. They were an outlier versus the LA Glam Rock movement.
And credibility is everything.
That is why Rock/Metal bands didn’t really last forever. Most acts had a shelf life of less than 10 years.
Credibility equals musical differences.
How long were The Beatles together? Eight or nine years.
What about the original line up of Kiss? Eight or nine years.
Twisted Sister (the version of Dee Snider, Jay Jay French, Eddie Ojeda, Mark Mendoza and AJ Pero) had a run of 7 years before AJ Pero was booted and another year after that the band itself was goneski for a long period of time.
Motley Crue had a run of 11 years before Vince Neil was outed.
Dokken had a run of 7 years before they went down in flames because George Lynch couldn’t get over the fact that the band he was in was called after the lead singer.
Niches. There are lots of them.
There’s always an audience that sees their scene as a sense of belonging and a badge of honor. In some cases, that sense of belonging is more important than the quality of the music.
If you really want to have success, you need to know as much information on music publishing. Because the longer you control your own publishing, the more power you will hold in negotiations if you have a hit song.
If you really want to have success, don’t hand over your copyright unless you are aware of the consequences of doing so.
Because there is so much music available we gravitate to what is great. And that could happen the instant you put out a new song or it could happen years after. Sometimes decades.
Which means there will be fewer acts that will reach critical mass. And for the ones that miss the old days guess what, they are never coming back. A career in the music business was always about that one song.
It was a lifestyle of round ’em up from whatever place or establishment they were in, go on the road, and see what happens.
In between trips they will write songs, try em out live, and then go and record the tracks that worked the best in a live setting. Some people got rich in the process and others got rich from the lifestyle.
Towards the end of the seventies, artists ceased doing it this way.
Because of the “Blockbuster” record label business model.
In the music business, the Blockbuster Business Model refers to a method of spending large amounts of money on recording and marketing, with the hope that the music will become a blockbuster, generating high returns. If a band had some traction, then they were perfect candidates for the “Blockbuster Record”. Plus it also helped that before the Soundscan era, the record labels found a loophole in the certification process that was based on distribution numbers instead of sales numbers.
Artists started to spend 12 months in a studio and albums started to cost millions.
The record labels knew what they were doing. Spend millions recording it, then print up a million copies of it and you have a platinum record to give to the band.
So do you want to know what being in a band is really like now?
It is a lifestyle of writing and releasing songs, connecting with fans and being as human as possible. Some people will make money in the process, some people will walk away and complain that piracy is killing everything and then others will still get rich from the lifestyle. When the song turns into a great song, the band will hit the road.
Produced and Engineered by Duane Baron and John Purdell who were still riding the wave of success from the “No More Tears” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Dave Prater who produced “Images And Words” was not considered due to the difficult working relationship between the band and producer.
“Awake” is the third studio album but the first album for the band, written knowing that there was an audience for their music. Artists would like us to believe that they write music to please themselves but they are lying. Once an artist experiences public acceptance of their music, their minds want to experience more of it. That in itself leads to a different kind of pressure. And the guys in the band were still young, so they didn’t know how to deal with this pressure and the pressure from the label.
Released on October 4, 1994, the album came out at the peak of the Seattle movement. The heaviness was evident and the label wanted it, but the label also wanted a song like “Pull Me Under” even more, a combination of that Iron Maiden meets Metallica sound. But that song never came.
But with this album, Dream Theater unknowingly went from a progressive rock band with roots in hard rock, to a progressive rock band, with roots in groove metal, paving the way for a fertile new genre known as progressive metal. But the critics were mixed on it and even the fans were split. But the years that have passed have been kind to the album, and now it is seen very differently.
The writing sessions began in February, after a small 4 week break after the “Images And Words” tour. Each song had weird working titles like “Kittens On Crack”, “Blowfish”, “Beach House Reality” and “Squid”. A lot of music was written and when this happens, a band leader would need to decide as to what is kept and what is discarded. Dream Theater had no band leader. So the creative disagreements started.
Once the demos were completed, the tracks were given to their A&R Rep, Derek Oliver to listen to. While the songs were good, Oliver didn’t see a marketability to them, however he still gave the go ahead to record the album, as his boss Sylvia Rhone wanted the album done so she could show orders for the album.
It’s also the last album to feature original keyboardist Kevin Moore, who announced his decision to leave the band during the mixing process of the album.
Larry Freemantle, who had designed the cover of “Images and Words”, provided the artwork for “Awake”. As with “Images and Words”, the band instructed Freemantle to include several lyrical references in the cover, such as a clock showing the time 6:00, a mirror and a spider in the middle of a web.
“It’s 6 o clock on a Christmas morning”.
I’m not sure what I expected from Dream Theater for the follow up to “Images And Words”. But voiceovers saying it’s six o’clock on a Christmas morning was probably not it.
A Mike Portnoy drum groove kicks it off, rooted more in freeform jazz fusion.
And there is a Rush like groove that reminds me of “Natural Science”.
The lyrics are written by Kevin Moore about routine, duty and commitments in a person’s life, like cutting wood to keep a family warm and working to put food on the table. It’s so far removed from Rat Tailed Jimmy in “Dr Feelgood” or Metallica’s evil Sandman.
Caught In A Web
The 7 string guitar with the Low B string is in action here.
Truth be told, I saw the 7 string as a fad. I never saw a reason why a guitarist would need one. If you wanted a low B, increase the gauge on your strings and tune the E string down to B.
While someone like Iommi tuned down to C# out of necessity to make the strings easier to bend due to cutting off the tips of his fingers in a work accident, I still didn’t get why artists needed to go lower.
Because it sounds muddled when you play fast riffs, but press play to hear the killer lead.
Would you expect anything else from Petrucci?
Petrucci wrote the lyrics of “Innocence Faded” with Wikipedia telling me “it was inspired by his deteriorating friendship with Moore”.
When Dream Theater do major melodic rock, they do it well.
Press play to hear the outro.
Petrucci comes in with an outro riff with triads over an E pedal point. And if that wasn’t good enough, he starts to solo over it in a Steve Morse and Paul Gilbert manner.
Next up we have the “A Mind Beside Itself” Trilogy featuring the three separate songs, “Erotomania”, “Voices”, and “The Silent Man”.
A large section of this song was written for the song “Pull Me Under” however it was removed from the song before they went into the studio to record it. And those sections which were removed ended up in this song.
The intro. Press play to hear it.
An acoustic song during the unplugged craze. It deserved more attention.
Its heavy courtesy of the 7 string and its ready to challenge all the groove metallers. Here the 7 string works because the riffs are slower.
There is a section in this song, when they play the main piano riff from “Space Dye Vest”. Brilliant.
Portnoy wrote the lyrics to “The Mirror”, describing his battle with alcoholism. He would return to the subject on later Dream Theater albums with the group’s so-called “Twelve-step Suite.”
It was the leadoff single. Not sure if this should have been the song as lyrically its poor. “The Mirror” was a better choice.
But the lead is killer.
And it ends the same way “The Mirror” started as the two songs are connected. But this time around the heavy groove sets the foundation for Petrucci to solo over.
Lifting Shadows Of A Dream
It began as a poem and two chords brought to the band by Myung. They worked on it, hated it and the next day they liked it.
This is DT being like U2 and Marillion. Myung sets the foundation with his bass riff and Petrucci brings out his Marillion and The Edge influences with digital delay melodic riffs, while Kevin Moore lays a keyboard riff which is sad but hopeful.
The blues jazz fusion intro hooks me. For an 11 minute song there are so m at good sections.
Like the Metal verses and the solo and the outro.
Space Dye Vest
Kevin Moore is listed as the sole writer here, much to the protest of Mike Portnoy who in hindsight wanted to leave this track of it.
But it was one of my favorites because it had a soundtrack like quality to it. I could feel the sadness in the music. And James LaBrie is like Peter Gabriel in his vocal delivery.
It’s a style that I liked from em.
To tour they had to find a keyboard player.
Jens Johansson from Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo band was the first to be approached. While the label and management were keen on Johansson, the band wasn’t.
Jordan Rudess was the second and the band were blown away by him at the audition. Jordan agreed to play a small gig with them (which went terribly) and then rejected the offer to join them at that point in time. He had a gig with the Dixie Dregs, a full time job with Kurzweil and a very young family. He chose to be around his family during this period.
Enter the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher (as described by Gene Simmons), the one known as Derek Sherinian. By this point of time, Sherinian had worked with Lita Ford, Alice Cooper and Kiss.
John Petrucci and Al Pitrellil are both from Long Island and they used to teach at the same guitar store. Pitrelli put a call to Petrucci and basically said to him, “you got to hire this keyboard player”. And Sherinian was hired on a temporary basis to begin with.
In relation to the album, the label considered the album a commercial failure, which would lead to the band being pressured to write more radio-friendly songs on their next studio album. For Dream Theater, the label situation was never easy. Their Atco seven album deal was moved to East West Records, a division of Atlantic Records and then to Elektra.
This would lead to more problems. But that’s for another post.
Sykes first official band was an outfit called “Streetfighter”. They played mainly cover songs and an original song called “She’s No Angel” appeared on a compilation album called “New Electric Warrior”. There was also an EP released which can be found on YouTube with Sykes playing guitar and doing vocals.
In 1980, Sykes saw an ad for a lead guitar position. He auditioned and ended up joining Tygers Of Pan Tang for two albums, “Spellbound” and “Crazy Nights”. Although good albums, they didn’t sell like the record label wanted them to sell.
Meanwhile, Sykes was getting some recognition and was even asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne’s band.
In the book “Thin Lizzy” by Alan Byrne, its mentioned how Sykes was brought into Thin Lizzy on the suggestion of producer Chris Tsangarides who had worked with Sykes in Tygers Of Pan Tang, and also secured a deal for Sykes with MCA to release a song that Sykes had written.
“Thunder and Lightning” started to re-establish Thin Lizzy in the 80’s as they album had a metal heavy rock edge. At the same time, David Coverdale tried to hire Adrian Vandenberg and Mama’s Boys Pat McManus on guitar however they both rejected the offer. John Sykes was then offered a million dollars advance payment to join Whitesnake.
Mel Galley eventually left the band during the tour and Sykes went on to handle the guitar parts himself. Jon Lord also left to reunite with Deep Purple, thus making Whitesnake a four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell.
Money plays a part in every band and Whitesnake was no different. Cozy Powell didn’t like what he was offered to continue with the band and left. Aynsley Dunbar got his chance and ended up being the drummer for Whitesnake’s most successful album.
The 1987 Whitesnake sessions had delays, illnesses and personality issues. Murray didn’t know if he was in the band or out of the band, however he kept on turning up to the studio and completing his bass parts. Coverdale told them all to explore other projects if they got a chance as the money from Geffen was running out and Coverdale couldn’t keep them on the payroll.
The 87 album was rumoured to have cost $3M dollars to write and record. This financial pressure destroyed the song writing partnership known as Coverdale/Sykes. It could have been one of the best song writing partnerships in hard rock music for many years after, but we’ll never know. David Coverdale called the writing process a “musical conversation” between Sykes and himself. And we got to hear the results of the musical conversation.
Remember in “The Social Network”, the final scene, Zuckerberg is alone in his house, surrounded by darkness except from the light coming from his computer and he is still sending friend requests to his ex-girlfriend who told him she doesn’t want to see him or hear from him again because he is a sociopath. It sure seems a very social way to communicate with someone.
But he was a misfit in his circle and a lot of people identify with misfits. It’s a big reason why rock music became a commercial force. Today, those metal and rock T-shirts are available everywhere as designer clothing, but once upon a time, they were patches earned from a lifestyle lived. Because it was all about the music. Divided we lived, but united we stood.
Then we grew up, started to earn money, started to borrow money and suddenly we became part of the rat race. And no one forced us to enter the rat race. We tried to climb a greasy pole, believing if we worked hard enough, we would get to the top.
We might live in a country that is a democracy, however as long as you are living to please others and to build other people’s dreams then you are not free. Without realising it, your whole life is tied to a job.
Everyone has a story and the less you have in possessions and dollars, the more you have struggled, the better the story is. So the story of this generation should be about standing up against injustice. When pushed to the wall, how do you react?
Life is a process, with ups and downs. We fall in and out of love. We make money, lose money. We have children, watch them grow up and then we are alone. And somehow through it all we survive almost anything thrown at us and come out of it for the better. As long as we made a choice.
You can choose a ready guide In some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide You still have made a choice You can choose from phantom fears And kindness that can kill; I will choose a path that’s clear- I will choose free will Free Will by Rush
So many people have grown up in countries where free speech is respected. But today, people are scared to speak freely, scared to be attacked by the bots, the trolls, the politically correct hipsters, the angry left, the angry right and whatever else the internet social media predators can throw at you.
Maybe it’s time to say we’re not gonna take it anymore.
There was a saying that if you followed enough of the rules, you would get a recording contact, millions of dollars and the red carpet. Perhaps one in a 1,000,000 acts pull this off. Actually you have a higher probability of being hit by a comet than making a lot of money in music.
So, the record labels wanted to maintain the sales model but they got dragged kicking and screaming to downloads. Credit Apple for pushing it and credit Warner Music for being the first major to sign. Suddenly their revenues went up. But they still complained. They screamed to their friends in politics for laws to be passed. Then streaming came out and they got dragged kicking and screaming to streaming. They even got a percentage of the streaming company and surprise, surprise, the revenues went up again.
Times are changing. Nothing will look the same in relation to labels and streaming companies in the next ten years.
As for the labels, they are not going away. Morphing more into marketing companies, who could help with your world domination ideals, but do you need them.
But for over a century the record label has built up a history of owning songs it shouldn’t be owning. It’s ridiculous. An artist signs a deal, pays off all the costs associated with the album and somehow, the label still owns the copyright. The battle for artists to regain their rights is happening.
According to Nielsen Music, almost 70% of the monies received by the labels is because of older catalogue items. So giving back the artist their copyrights as dictated by law is bad business for the labels. As the article states, around 20 artists have reclaimed their rights from the thousands who are entitled to.
And the labels pull out all the tricks, like telling the artist they will pay them a higher royalty rate (which is useless if the label does nothing to re-promote the tunes) or paying the artist a large advance to hold on to profitable masters.
Then came hedge funds and investment houses, purchasing older catalogues for a lot of money.
It seems that the ones who passed away before the internet age are more or less forgotten by the masses unless they were part of a superstar act or where the superstar act themselves.
Criss Oliva who tragically passed away on October 17, 1993 when a drunk driver crossed the road and hit Criss Oliva and his wife head on in a motor vehicle accident.
The “Gutter Ballet” LP was my first introduction to Savatage. Without knowing how the band sounded, the excellent album cover by Gary Smith was the decisive factor.
This album was a true turning point for the band.
It didn’t sell in the millions, but a classic album it is none the less. As a by-product it also became a leader for a new genre that incorporated power metal with orchestral/symphonic flourishes.
“Of Rage And War” kicks off proceedings with helicopters and other sounds from the various war machines. The whole intro reminds me of Megadeth. The song is about transforming powerlessness into anger.
“Gutter Ballet” is the epic six-minute anthem. It starts off with that melancholic piano intro in the key of D minor and then when the guitars come in along with the head stomping drums, the song transitions into a unique groove of “hard rock” clashing with “classical” and “classical” clashing with “symphonic” elements. It leaves an everlasting memory.
In the end it is the guitar the drives the song along. Check out the whole section before the lead break, then the lead break itself and then the syncopated parts coming out of the lead break. It’s perfect and the legato phrasing is liquid like melodic.
The title “Gutter Ballet” actually came from a play that producer Paul O’Neill had written in the early seventies, which of course went on to become the basis for the “Streets” concept album that followed “Gutter Ballet”.
“Temptation Revelation” follows and it is an instrumental. At one stage it was the original title for the LP. The guitar work from Criss Oliva again makes it. It has this Euro-Vibe style of guitar playing.
“When The Crowds Are Gone” is one of the best ballads, ever. Jon’s melancholic voice carries the song as it is filled with genuine emotion.
“Silk And Steel” is another instrumental and it reminds me of “Air” from Jason Becker. Another guitarist that in this case was tragically struck down with a terminal illness. “Silk And Steel” is a highlight as it features Criss Oliva’s at his “Segovia” best. A virtuosic, lively and carefree performance.
Side one ended and I needed to replay it before I moved onto side two. That is how music should be. Replayable over and over again.
“She’s In Love” kicks off side 2. The only song with weak lyrics, however it is important to note its place in the Savatage canon and an ode to the Accept style of Hard Rock/Metal that Savatage also dabbled in.
“Hounds” was an inspiration to me as a guitarist. I used the songs structure as a template for songs that I would write back then. I loved it’s epic feel and under it all there is this doomy technical atmosphere.
“The Unholy” could be from any classic metal album. The whole intro at first reminds me of “Lucretia” from Megadeth.
“Mentally Yours” sounds like an Alice Cooper song. Even the lyrical themes are very shock-rock Cooperish.
“Summer’s Rain” is another great ballad.
Criss Oliva is one of the most emotive and eclectic metal guitarists. The album is littered with so many different guitar techniques.
All in all, if metal is your taste then you need to hear this album. If you are a genre hopping musical fan, then this album is a must for the metal genre.
Who remembers watching interviews or reading interviews from their favourite bands about how much the band members loved each other, how they are brothers and so forth.
The cold hard truth is this. Bands/artists want to show a solidarity, a unity. They don’t want people and fans of the band to see weaknesses, so they try their best to make it look like everything appears fine on the surface.
However underneath it is a different story.
Every biography I have read, from “The Dirt” about Motley Crue, to “Enter Night” about Metallica, to “Lifting Shadows” about Dream Theater, to “Face The Music” about Kiss or to Dave Mustaine’s bio about his career. The same theme is prevalent throughout. The band members didn’t like each other.
No one really speaks their mind as it would cause problems in the band. And when dollars are at stake, management is doing their best to suppress what people think.
Song writing is the main reason. When you see artists leaving an act due to musical differences, its because they wanted to have their songs included on an album, however the other members kept on rejecting the songs or changing the song loses it’s soul.
Look at a few bands that are doing the circuit today and they have their own issues with members.
Volbeat – holding on to lead guitarists is problematic.
Five Finger Death Punch – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic. And recently they changed drummers.
In This Moment – holding on to bass players, guitar players and drummers is proving problematic.
Shinedown – holding on to bass players and lead guitar players is problematic.
Dream Theater – vocalist change after one album, three different keyboardists and a drummer change.
Trivium – changing drummers on a regular basis, however over the last few years it looks they have settled on that issue.
Evergrey – only Tom Englund is the original member.
Machine Head – only Robb Flynn is the original member.
The way we improve as humans is by finding a better way of doing things. In other words we copy what we see and we improve upon it. We do that from the day we are born.
The whole English rock movement in the sixties was born from copying the blues and folk movements and improving on them.
Keith Richards even went on to say that you can’t copyright the blues as all of the blues standards were copied over and over again so that thousands of derivative works existed.
Deep Purple built a career on taking certain sections from jazz standards that Jon Lord knew and turning them into rock songs.
Led Zeppelin built a career on taking certain sections from obscure folk songs, unsigned aritsts they toured with, blues standards and blending them into definitive masterpieces.
Black Sabbath had their roots in blues, classical and jazz. They borrowed from those genres. Listen to Bill Ward’s drumming on the early records. It’s almost got a swing, jazz feel to it.
Metallica initially built a career on taking certain sections from obscure New Wave Of British Metal acts and turning them into thrash metal masterpieces. For the self-titled BLACK album, the lead off track “Enter Sandman” has an intro that is copied and improved on from a local Californian band.
It is human nature that we are always looking at ways to improve. And copying something that came before, and then adding incremental improvements to it is how we do it.
One thing I do know is that copying is a key ingredient in the process of creating new works and it is a shame that the corporations that owe the majority of the copyrights are destroying this culture so that they can protect their bottom lines.
Look at any artist or band you like and you will notice one important element. They are lifers in the music business.
Dee Snider went through a long and drawn-out bankruptcy after Twisted Sister imploded. This is his big low from the platinum highs of “Stay Hungry” three years earlier. After bankruptcy he was free to make a new record and re-negotiate publishing deals.
The next high came when he signed a high pay deal with Elektra Records for the project that would become “Desperado”.
The next low started when Dee got that call that Elektra Records had dropped “Desperado” and shelved the album. That kicked off a process of more lows. Elektra didn’t just drop Desperado, they also prevented Dee from recording for any other label. Basically a record label that claims they are here to protect artists was destroying the career and personal finances of an artist.
Dee Snider just kept on going, trying to get the rights to his songs returned to him. He kept on going trying to get the right to license the Desperado record to another label for a fair price. In the end, the only thing that Elektra Records would accept was full reimbursement of the money they’d laid out for the deal—$500,000 or $50,000 per song.
But, but, the record labels are here to protect their artists.
The truth is, the record labels are there to make money from the lifers in the music business. It’s that simple.
It is those outliers, those misfits that end up changing the world.
Metallica got traction when they first came out because they didn’t fit in. And then when the “thrash scene” started to become saturated, Metallica delivered an album that didn’t fit into that scene and sold 25+ million in the U.S alone. Suddenly, elitists of that movement labelled them as sell outs.
Same goes for Motley Crue. Love em or hate em, when all the labels were looking for Devo style post rock acts in the early Eighties, along comes Motley Crue. Merging punk attitude with classic rock they paved the way for another band with a bigger appetite for destruction.
Guns N Roses came in an era when every label wanted a band like Bon Jovi. They came in an era when every label wanted their current roster of bands to deliver an album like “Slippery When Wet”. How anti-Bon Jovi was the classic Guns N Roses line-up? And guess what, they sold millions upon millions of albums. And they did it by not fitting in.
Dream Theater got traction in the era of Grunge. Even the analysts are still scratching their heads at that one. How could a progressive rock band break through when the record labels along with the media perpetuated the myth that knowing how to play your instrument was uncool.
The thing is most of the artists that we like never really fit into any circle/genre when they came out.
Foxy Shazam and “Welcome To The Church Of Rock And Roll”.
Who’s that guy singing?
That was my first impression. I was hearing Geddy Lee from Rush. I was hearing Freddie Mercury from Queen. I was hearing Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin.
“Your music sucks including us It’s time we cleared our name”
Rock N Roll is a virus that never leaves the body. We all always return to it over and over again.
“All you suckers are a flock of sheep I’ll be your shepherd, follow me”
Hallelujah is what I say.
And then as soon as I got into the song it was over after 2 minutes. It was like a freight train going off the rails and screaming the message for the “Church Of Rock N Roll”. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I replayed it over and over again. And the magic went through me one more time.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS!
It is that kind of album. It had me interested to find out more. When I heard it in 2012, I had no idea who was in the band, who produced it or how long the band had been together. It’s always cool to hear a fresh sounding retro album while most of the other acts chase modern rock hits that they still don’t have. The first eight tracks are special.
The album is produced by Justin Hawkins from “The Darkness” fame and you can hear the vocal influence on Eric Sean Nally.
And “Welcome To The Church of Rock ‘N’ Roll” is a classic because it hops genre’s so effortlessly and Foxy Shazam get away with doing a good job at it. It doesn’t sound like pop music but it does sound like the classics on radio. And back in 2012, it had me spreading the gospel of Foxy Shazam.
You are an artist performing solo or within a band.
You decide to record an album.
You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.
You do some promo and release it.
It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.
And the streams are growing slowly but not enough in the first week. But after a year or two, the streams start growing and growing and growing.
Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy/streaming era, and that hasn’t stopped the band from racking up Platinum and Gold certifications. But it took time. It wasn’t an overnight, first week sales success.
And fans consume music differently. They will buy music. They will stream music. Some will do both, buy and stream. They will download music without paying for it. They will download and pay for it. They will buy a concert ticket or a T-shirt or a book from the artist. They might miss the first few albums and then invest a lot of dollars in a limited/deluxe edition release.
WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything to get a certification. But it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.
Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell to get a certification, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.