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

November 2020 – Part 1

A lot of music has been released in November so far. So here we go with my review of it.

Black Stone Cherry

I have a bias towards BSC, so it’s not surprise they lead off my November posts of new releases.

“The Human Condition” is the album. They are like my modern day heavy rock ZZ Top.

“The Chain” grooves its way through until the solo section riff kicks in and the speed picks up. “Ringin’ In My Head” and “Again” flow into each other, catchy and groovy tracks that remain ringing in my head after they’ve finished.

“When Angels Learn To Fly” is a bit removed from their blues rock and more in Shinedown like territory. And one of my favourite tracks on the album.

As soon as the intro lead break starts for “In Love With The Pain” I was all in.

“Ride” sounds like it came from the Sunset Strip. “Don’t Bring Me Down” is a cover from ELO and it works perfectly.

System Of A Down

“Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” is SOAD’s response to Azerbaijan and Turkey’s bombing of an Armenian settlement inside Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh which the Armenians call Artsakh.

All of the SOAD members are from Armenian ancestries and this conflict has gotten the band to write and record new music.

At it its highest level, it’s a conflict based on religious divides first. Armenia is Christian and Azerbaijan is Islam.

From 1988 to 1994, the original war broke out, with the area being liberated into Armenian hands. But in Europe, these kind of small liberations are rarely forgotten by the losing side. Clashes have occurred throughout the years, from 2008 onwards and in 2020, it escalated again.

“Protect The Land” is a tribute to the soldiers and people of Artsakh who are risking their lives to protect their homes.

Orianthi

“O” is the new album.

It’s on Frontiers.

I read ten reviews of the album and all of them hated it. One review even went to town on how the marketing team are promoting Orianthi, and they used an image from one of the music videos of her slithering on a bed in undies and all that.

For me, it’s great to see Orianthi back out on her own.

And from the outset, “Contagious” gets me rocking, a cross between blues rock and a bit of Muse chucked in. “Sinners Hymn” is a nice amalgamation of the devils blues music with modern rock to create a sinners anthem. “Sorry” is a contemporary pop song.

“Crawling Out Of The Dark” is on acoustic, it’s quite, subdued and melancholic.

“Streams Of Consciousness” is a co-write with Nikki Sixx and Marti Frederiksen. Country rock at its best. And then there is a track like “Company” which has blues guitar but the background foundation is very synth driven. And a chorus that would not be out of place on an album from “The Cure”. “Moonwalker” has got this Latin vibe.

In other words there is a lot of variation here and a little bit for everyone.

Fates Warning

On Metal Blade Records.

One of the first progressive metal bands I got into. For a prog band to succeed there has to be a song. If there isn’t a song, then all of the flash and technical interludes over complex time changes means nothing. Jim Matheos can craft a song and he doesn’t need to create complex interludes with millions of notes. Sometimes an atmospheric mood or groove is enough.

“Long Day Good Night” is their newest album and they’ve been on form since their comeback 5 years ago after a long hiatus.

“The Destination Onward” percolates for the first few minutes as it builds into a rocker. “Shuttered World” and “Alone We Walk” establish grooves and move on with em. This is as straight forward as Fates Warning get. “The Way Home” builds for 4 minutes before the band smashes in and rocks their way for another three or so minutes.

“Glass Houses” brings the prog metal that Fates Warning is known for.

The piece d’resistance is “Longest Shadow of the Day”. At the start it combines a King Crimson like progression with flamenco style guitars and a bass solo. And as the song percolates and builds, its fusion of styles clash into the Fates Warning style, I like. And this happens around the 3 minute mark.

At 5 and a half minutes, it all quietens down with some mournful arpeggios and it’s time for Ray Alder’s voice to shine.

Then at 8.42, Joey Vera takes over with a bass riff that makes me want to take up bass. Drummer, Bobby Jarzombek also shines, with Matheos and new guitarist, Michael Adbow decorating.

And did I mention it has a great guitar solo as well?

It does.

And for those Armored Saint fans, bassist Joey Vera has been doing work with Fates Warning since 2000 and he’s still rocking and progging away with em.

Jeff Scott Soto

Otherwise known as JSS from here on in. One of my favourite rock voices when it comes to melodic rock, and I am also digging the work he’s doing with Sons Of Apollo.

The album “Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)” kicks off in melodic rock style with “Someone To Love”. From the opening intro lead, I am hooked. “Mystified” is more L.A Sunset Strip than Euro Melodic Metal with a shred-a-licious solo.

“Love’s Blind” rocks in the intro and verses. The Chorus is a bit clichéd but hey JSS has a lot of goodwill in my book, so it doesn’t really detract.

“Without You” is one of those Euro like ballads that borders on classical music. Listening to it, I’m hearing, Zep, Bruce Dickinson, ELO and Swedish acts like Roxette and ABBA.

“Paper Wings” has guitar work that reminds me of the work that JSS did with Malmsteen and is an instant favourite for me. I know that Malmsteen has dissed JSS in the press, but Malmsteen is known as a revisionist and whatever he says doesn’t diminish the work that JSS did with him, especially on the excellent “Marching Out”.

Album closer “Desperate” also captures that 80’s metal vibe that I like.

Part 2 is coming up.

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

October 2020 – Part 2

Reach

They dropped another song called “Young Again” and it has this feel good vibe with a chord progression influenced by “Stand By Me”. I know, the C to Am to F to G riff has been around for ages and used in other songs, but I always associate it with “Stand By Me”.

One Less Reason

I’m a fan of the band because of piracy and they got me off side when they took over 1 year to deliver the CD’s I purchased from their website. It took countless follow ups and I still didn’t get what I ordered. But their music is that good that I keep checking em out.

“Treason” is a new one. I’m interested.

Corey Taylor

It’s a diverse album, as “Hwy 666” is basically a country hillbilly rock song which wouldn’t be out of place on the “Ghostrider” movie and then it goes into “Black Eyes Blue” which has this 70’s hard rock vibe. “Silverfish” sounds like a Stone Temple Pilots song. “Kansas” sounds like a Hootie And The Blowfish song.

“Culture Head” is typical of his Stone Sour output and so is “Everybody Dies On My Birthday”.

Linkin Park

They released a 20 year anniversary edition of “Hybrid Theory” with a lot of tracks.

Back in 2000, this album was given to me by a singer from a band I was in and Chester’s voice is a very big reason why I became a fan. His sense of melody and aggression is/was perfect. And on repeated listens, the riffs started to become memorable and I was hooked. Suddenly my song writing started to have a nu-metal like feel.

Listen to the riffs on tracks like “Papercut” and “One Step Closer”. Guitarist Brad Delson is a virtual unknown in guitar circles but he shouldn’t be. His riffs dominate the streaming services and the old school radio airwaves more than all of the guitar heroes I grew up with.

12 x platinum in the U.S and 4x Platinum in Australia, along with certifications in nearly every other country. No one expected the album to be that big.

From the unreleased stuff, it’s the mellow stuff like “My December”, “She Couldn’t” and “Pictureboard” that got me interested.

Ozzy Osbourne

“Blizzard Of Ozz” got its 40 Year Anniversary release this year.

This album is huge in my life so this ain’t going to be a review as I’ve more or less reviewed it on different occasions in the past.

For something new and for people who maybe haven’t heard em, it’s always cool to hear “You Said It All” (which I placed after “Goodbye To Romance” in the album list) and “You Looking At Me, Looking At You” (which I placed after “Crazy Train”).

And it’s a reminder of how unbelievably talented Randy Rhoads is and how sad it is that the music we have from RR is just down to a few albums with Ozzy and Quiet Riot.

Lee Kerslake on the drums is like a battering ram and unsung hero Bob Daisley holds down the foundations.

The Swedish Funk Connection

This band was formed in the 80’s but didn’t really release anything on a label until recently. In 2018, they released an album called “1987” that had this AOR sound. And in 2020, they are gearing up for another release.

“Centre Of My Universe” is the song, more like Toto and Survivor in there soft rock period.

Angeline

From Sweden.

“Helpless” is the single and its melodic hard rock. They have been on my radar since they released their “Life E.P, Vol 1” but I lost em for quite a few years.

Wolves At The Gate

I didn’t know it when I heard the songs, but the “Dawn” EP, is a stripped down counterpart to their 2019 metalcore album “Eclipse”.

The term “reimagined” was used in the promotion. I remember when Lynch Mob reimagined “Wicked Sensation” and I hated it. Maybe there are fans of Wolves At The Gate that hate this EP, but I like it and this EP is getting me interested in the band.

Check out tracks like “The Cure”, “Face To Face” and “Drifter”.

And the standout track is “Alone”, recorded live during quarantine.

Ihsahn

Ihsahn has come a long way from his black metal days with “Emperor”. “Pharos” is the name of this five song EP. It has electronica, moody landscapes and atmospheric and distorted guitars.

For example, when the distorted guitars kick in on “Losing Altitude” it enhances the mood and its jarring, almost like you’re hitting the dirt at high speed. Or in “Pharos”, the distorted guitars hit you in the face with its tribal ancient stampede. Think of those epic 60’s movies and the music during battles.

And my favourite track is “Roads”. Just listen to it and let the moods take you on whatever road you want to go on.

Machine Head

“Circle The Drain” is released as an acoustic track.

This all comes down to Robb Flynn doing his acoustic drinking podcast series each Friday. Each week he covered songs and always did a few Machine Head songs as well. The fans liked em, so the fans encouraged him to release some officially and here we are.

Part 3 coming up.

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

2000 – Part 8

Fuel – Something Like Human

Like Matchbox 20, Fuel became my fix for hard rock music. I don’t know why they still aren’t around. Listening to this album I just assumed they would be doing the rounds 20 years later.

“Something Like Human” is the second album, released on Epic Records. It did great business in sales, double platinum in the U.S and Gold in Canada. In case you don’t know who Fuel are, its Carl Bell on guitar. Brett Scallions on vocals, Jeff Abercrombie on bass and Kevin Millar on drums.

On this album, 9 of the songs are just written by Carl Bell and two of em are Bell and Scallions co-writes.

The “Last Time” kicks it off with a memorable Chorus melody and guitar riff. “Haemorrhage (In My Hands)” is an 80’s rock song all dolled up for the 2000’s. Just listen to the verse arpeggios and you’ll know what I mean.

“Empty Spaces” is a metal like cut with a grunge like Chorus. And its cuts like this that bridged the gap between the 80’s hard rock scene and the 90’s grunge scene. Then “Scar” kicks in and the “Scar” intro riff has got groove and sleaze. Listen to it, it wouldn’t be out of place on a GnR record.

“Bad Day” is a favourite. It’s a ballad, with that C-Am-F-G chord progression (in a different key for this song). Its memorable and hooky.

“Slammed the door and said, sorry, I’ve had a bad day again”

And after 5 Carl Bell penned tracks, I’m on the floor. He is one hell of a songwriter.

The song “Prove” feels like it came from a Gunners album and it gave the album its title with its lyrics and “Easy” is probably the best song that Stone Temple Pilots didn’t write. It’s got that “Plush” vibe.

“Innocent” is my favourite cut. That sombre clean tone electric strumming gets me interested and the lyrics.

Satan, you know where I lie
Gently I go into that good night

All of us sinners are reporting for duty Mr Satan, because our innocent smiles from young are replaced with lies and hidden truths and some backstabbing along the way, because that kind of shit happened to us before, so we need to pay those people back.

All our lives get complicated / search for pleasures overrated

Status became a thing. Reagan and other leaders in the 80’s told our parents they need two cars in the driveway and investment properties and suddenly, people started to outdo each other with possessions.

Never armed our souls for what the future would hold / when we were innocent

Truth in these words. Youth doesn’t bring wisdom and we rarely practiced what we wanted our future selves to be like. And as we got older, we got smacked down by life, society and the rat race and the grind of making a living to keep the lights on.

Never were we told we’d be bought and sold, when we were innocent

More so today. Hell, we didn’t even get bought out to hand over our online activities to Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook and all the rest. We are giving it all away for free, while these companies make billions selling it to advertisers.

On the special edition, there are two cover tracks in “Going To California” from Led Zep, which Fuel nails and “Daniel” from Elton John and I can hear how the acoustic riffs for “Patience” came about.

Spineshank – The Height Of Callousness

A bass player from the band I was in, recommended Spineshank to me. And they got me out of rut.

A lot of the songs have that hard core style of vocals that Slipknot and Mudvayne brought to the table, with some of the electronics that Disturbed brought and some good ole head banging.

Tracks 1 and 2 lost me, and then the intro to track 3, “Synthetic” exploded out of the speakers. And I was hooked with the intro riff which reappears in the Chorus. The song is delivered with a clean tone like vocal which is probably why it stuck with me.

And that clean tone vocal trend continues with “New Disease” and its these two songs that got me interested in the band.

The rest of the album while great for others was lost on me melodically, but each song had little riffs here and there that proved interesting.

Pearl Jam – Binaural

After the first couple of albums and their project with Neil Young, Pearl Jam had enough goodwill in my book to warrant listens of all subsequent albums after.

“Nothing As It Seems” is the song here that gets me interested, with its strummed acoustic guitar riff, some distorted guitar embellishments and Vedder delivering a hypnotic vocal.

Halford – Resurrection

“Reeeeeeeee-surrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-rectionnnnnnnnnnnnnnn” screams Rob Halford and then it’s all guns blazing again once the music kicks in. And just like that, heavy metal was back in my life, exactly the way I knew it.

This is the best way to re-announce your return to the fold which by this time the metal I grew up with was known as traditional heavy metal as heavy metal in 2000 proved unrecognisable to me.

Then “Made In Hell” kicks off with its harmony guitars, and lyrics about 1968 and how metal came to be from foundries and coalmines.

The head banging continues with “Locked and Loaded” and “Night Fall”. Even though it’s a Halford album, it’s the best Judas Priest song that JP never released.

“Silent Screams” starts off with acoustic guitar arpeggios and a vocal line about “tempting fate, losing friends along the way, but still standing tall with no regrets” and then that Chorus kicks in for Halford to deliver a classic heavy metal track. The song morphs into a metal cut around the 3 minute mark before returning to its melancholy.

“The One You Love To Hate” continues the head banging with a riff that reminds me of “Lightning Strikes Again” from Dokken. It can be interchanged with the next track “Cyberworld” with Halford referencing his “Electric Eye” lyrics as inspiration.

How good is that harmony solo?

And to make it better, Halford sings a vocal melody which acts like an extra guitar lead over the harmony lead. I skip “Slow Down” and then we are into “Hell’s Last Survivor” which is another cut you can interchange with “The One You Love To Hate” and “Cyberworld”.

“Temptation” is one of those more mainstream cuts that Judas Priest has been known to do. “God Bringer Of Death” has this “Gates Of Babylon” feel from Rainbow.

The Wallflowers – Breach

Their 96 album, “Bringing Down The Horse” was everywhere in Australia and their cover of Bowie’s “Heroes” kept em in the news.

Then they dropped “Breach” and I was on the fence with it. “Sleepwalker” has some Springsteen like influences which I liked. “I’ve Been Delivered” has a synth lick which is memorable. “Mourning Train” has a drum pattern with handclaps and foot stomps with an acoustic guitar and a vocal line which I like, but that’s it.

The Offspring – Conspiracy Of One

They had momentum coming into this album with the “Smash”, “Ixnay On The Hombre” and “Americana” albums. I was in various bands that covered “Pretty Fly”, “Gone Away” and “Come Out And Play”.

So coming into this album, it was no surprise that some of the songs sounded like part 2 of previous successful songs.

For example, “Original Prankster” sounds like part 2 of “Pretty Fly”. But opening track “Come Out Swinging” is fast as punk can be with metal like riffs and picking.

“Want You Bad” sounds like those major key 80’s hard rock songs, which work so well with the power punk rock of The Offspring. “Million Miles Away” is another singalong anthem.

How good is that intro riff to “Dammit, I Changed Again”?

John Petrucci used it for “Happy Song” on his recent “Terminal Velocity” album.

And if the album could had ended after this track and I would have been okay with it as the next few tracks proved skipable.

Then “Denial, Revisited” started and it had my attention again. “Vultures” then kicks off with a riff that reminds of BoC, “Don’t Fear The Reaper”. And the title track, “Conspiracy Of One” closes the album with its “Blitzkrieg” style riff.

Zebrahead – Playmate Of The Year

It’s not on Spotify Australia, which irks me, but hey, we still have YouTube, even though the labels are fighting hard to kill off the free ad supported version of it.

That clean tone digital riff to kick off “I Am” is excellent. Then there is a bit of hip hop in the verses as that same clean tone riff plays.

“Playmate Of The Year” is now a go to song for all things to do with “Playmate” even replacing “Centrefold”.

“Go” is a hard rock cut. “Now Or Never” has an intro riff which is heavy, a hip hop verse and an anthemic melodic chorus. “Wasted” has that riff which John Petrucci brought back into our lives via “Happy Song”. A similar riff appeared on The Offspring album.

“What’s Goin On?” is one of those cuts that sums up the pop punk movement between 1998 and 2004. “All I Need” is a sneaky derivative version of “Run To The Hills” in the intro. Check it out. Then it morphs into a Nu-Metal cut.

And now we move to 1985 for part 8.

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

1977 – Part 7

Blue Oyster Cult – Spectres

Their commercial breakthrough was the album before, “Agents of Fortune”, so it’s no surprise that BoC stuck with the same formula, like Jovi did with “New Jersey” after “Slippery When Wet” or Metallica with “Master Of Puppets” and “Justice For All” after “Ride The Lightning”.

I think for most, Blue Oyster Cult are known for three songs, which their Spotify account confirms. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” at 272 million streams, “Burnin For You” at 77 million streams and “Godzilla” at 37 million streams. And of course, Metallica brought “Astronomy” into the public conversation.

And “Spectres” opens up with “Godzilla”, a monster riff that shuffles and rumbles along like the monster it’s named after.

“Golden Age of Leather” has a crap intro but it’s a pretty good song overall with tempo changes that seem like they don’t even happen. And along with album closer “Nosferatu”, these two songs are like the progressive tracks.

“Death Valley Nights” stands out and is a favourite and “Fireworks” sounds like a re-write of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and I’m all in, with some nice harmonies.

“R. U. Ready to Rock?” is “American Woman” and “Mississippi Queen” all rolled into one to kick off side 2. “Going Through the Motions” is co-written by Eric Bloom and ex Mott the Hoople member Ian Hunter. It’s got hand claps and it’s like Sweet.

“I Love the Night” has an hypnotic clean tone arpeggio riff. It’s my favourite from the album, a love song to a female vampire when vampires actually scared us and “Nosferatu” continues the vampire theme, with its Mellotron riffs and it reminds me of trippy 70’s art rock.

Riot – Rock City

The first Riot album, with the band unleashing a metal sound that would be seen as the “traditional” sound many years later.

Think of Sweet’s heavier songs, along with Led Zeppelin’s heavier songs and with a little ZZ Top and UFO chucked in for good measure. Judas Priest had this traditional sound on “Killing Machine”.

It’s a shame their covers never matched the awesome covers from other bands of the era, like Maiden, Priest, ZZ Top and so on.

It’s a two punch knockout with “Desperation” and “Warrior”.

As soon as the intro riff starts for “Desperation” I’m thinking of Metallica and their early riffs around “Kill Em All”. But once the verses kick in, its standard hard rock.

Then the riff starts for “Warrior” and I’m not sure who influenced who, Judas Priest or Riot.

And the chorus is so catchy. A future power metal movement is built on this.

When “Rock City” kicks off, the riff is another blues romp.

And there isn’t a bad song on the album.

When people talk about great debut albums, Riot is very rarely in the conversation, but they should be.

Traditional Metal.

That’s Riot on the debut.

Quartz – Quartz

The album is not on Spotify, but YouTube has it.

Quartz are a British heavy metal band.

They came onto my radar when I was doing some research on the past of Geoff Nicholls. For those who don’t know, Nicholls was involved with Black Sabbath and is unofficially credited as the person who came up with the bass groove on “Heaven And Hell”.

They got a deal with Jet Records in the mid 70’s as Bandy Legs and supported Sabbath and AC/DC. In 1977, they changed their name to Quartz and released their self-titled debut album.

This album is produced by Tony Iommi. It wasn’t mentioned on the record because of contractual obligations but it was the worst kept secret. Iommi even mentions them in his “Iron Man” bio. A young Chris Tsangarides is the Engineer. Ozzy even sang on the song “Circles” but Iommi removed Ozzy’s contributions from the final mix and then the song was cut from the album. Brian May even offered to do a Queen type re-mix of the song which didn’t pan out to good.

The band is Mick Taylor on vocals, Geoff Nicholls on guitar and keyboards, Dek Arnold on bass, Mike Hopkins on guitar and Mal Cope on drums.

Writers for various magazines have credited this album as one of the earliest NWOBHM releases even though the phrase NWOBHM came in 1979, via journalist Geoff Barton and Sounds magazine.

“Mainline Riders” kicks it off and it sounds like this track is the inspiration for the songs “Heaven and Hell” and “Holy Diver”.

If you need proof that even our heroes are influenced, then look no further than this song. Tony Iommi was clearly influenced by this.

After reading how Jet Records operated, I would be surprised if Nicholls got any song writing credits or payments for his contributions.

Because Jet Records were in a bad state financially and Quartz suddenly found themselves without a deal.

By 1979, Geoff Nicholls left to join Black Sabbath. He contributed keyboards and song writing to that band from 1980s “Heaven and Hell” to 2004.

“Sugar Rain” is different, more ELO orientated. This one and the next track “Street Fighting Lady” are progressive rock and metal masterpieces. The flute even makes the appearance like Jethro Tull. And I’ve read that Iommi is the flute master.

And the riff to kick off “Street Fighting Lady” is brilliant, bringing back memories of “Woman From Tokyo”. “Hustler” has this hard rock Bee Gees vibe in the verse, which I dig, with layered emotive harmony guitar lines and an angry metal like Chorus.

Four songs in and the guitar work from Hopkins and Nicholls is stellar.

“Devil’s Brew” has an “American Woman” influenced riff, but once the synths come in, it’s a different beast, more like hard rock and a bit progressive. Then the verse kicks in and it feels like a Sweet song with a hard driving Chorus that feels like it came Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” album.

“Smokie” is a medieval classical acoustic song. “Around and Around” kicks off with a palm muted riff and some nice harmony guitars.

“Pleasure Seekers” and “Little Old Lady” close off the album and I wonder if this album was the missing link to my ears between “Never Say Die” and “Heaven And Hell” from Black Sabbath.

Uriah Heep

Two albums came out in the same year, “Firefly” and “Innocent Victim” with new vocalist, John Lawton.

The excellent “The Hanging Tree” kicks off the “Firefly” album. “Do You Know” is a loud rocker with a riff that is so fun to play. “Rollin On” is an excellent cut that reminds me of Bad Company and “Sympathy” clearly influenced Europe and their “Wings Of Tomorrow” album. Think of the song “Stormwind”.

“Innocent Victim” did good business in Germany, Australia (especially the single “Free Me”) and New Zealand, however in the U.S market, it disappointed. Actually both albums did terrible in the North American market.

The feel good bass groove of “Keep On Ridin’” kicks off the “Innocent Victim” album. It’s more like a Bad Company song than a Uriah Heep song, but I’ve always been a fan of artists incorporating sounds and feels of what is popular. “Flyin’ High” kicks off with a harmony guitar intro that would rival any Thin Lizzy intro.

I’m all in when “Free ‘N’ Easy” kicks off, it’s basically a speed metal song. I could imagine a young Mustaine or Hetfield listening to those verse riffs, thinking, imagine if I took that and played it even faster. While the next track “Illusion” is hypnotic and more subdued.

Then “Free Me” starts and it’s got that C-Am-F-G style chord progression. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song with that progression that wasn’t catchy. And of course, it charted really well in Australia and New Zealand.

Then “The Dance” starts and that lead to kick it off is brilliant, while the guitar plays a jazzy staccato style riff in the verse.

And then “Choices” starts and what is it with this band and their god damn excellent intros that keep hooking me in. Lee Kerslake owns this song on the drums and Mick Box solos tastefully, while Ken Hensley lays down a wall of synths.

Eric Clapton – Slowhand

How good is this album?

Triple Platinum in the U.S and nothing in the Australian market, but Clapton was always in the Guitar Mags I used to buy, so it was only a matter of time before he became an influence.

“Cocaine” kicks it off before it moves to one of Clapton’s most emotive leads in “Wonderful Tonight”. This is Clapton’s second song to Pattie Boyd. The first one is the famous “Layla” when she was married to George Harrison, and when she divorced Harrison, she became Clapton’s muse.

“Lay Down Sally” is one of those blues songs that has a snare shuffle as it rolls along, something that Dire Straits did a fair bit off. “Next Time You See Her” is like a Bad Company song, merging folk and rock.

Then “The Core” starts and that funky bluesy riff has me picking up the guitar.

Colosseum II – Wardance

I’ve already done a post for this album in my Record Vault posts.

In case you are not aware, Gary Moore is on guitars and vocals, Don Airey is on all things piano related, John Mole is on drums and John Hiseman on drums. It’s basically all instrumental except for one forgettable vocal track.

My favourites are “Wardance” which is one of those gladiatorial tunes, ready to inspire you to gear up and go to war.

“Inquisition” is like an Al DiMeola track and I love it. Gary Moore really shreds on this on both electric and acoustic. And at 6 minutes long, I wasn’t bored.

And the closer.

“Last Exit”. The guitar solo from Gary Moore is one of my favourites of his.

Colosseum II – Electric Savage

Album number 2, which came out earlier in the year. Not sure how acceptable the album cover would be today, a semi nude dark skinned lady with fluro lights shining on her body, especially on her breasts and the words “Electric Savage”.

Check out “The Scorch” which has a pulsing bass from John Mole and Don Airey shredding away for the first 2 minutes and then its Moore’s time. The drumming from John Hiseman is busy, more jazz improv but it all works. At the end of the 6 minutes I’m still blown away that this is Gary Moore.

“Lament” has this doom feel with bells, a slow bass and a drum beat so simple. But when Gary Moore starts playing it sounds like an Irish folk ballad. Its moving and heartfelt.

“Am I” is my favourite. The way it starts, with that bass groove and those quite drums, with Moore and Airey playing these little two note melodic arpeggios over it. It’s perfect, its haunting and its memorable. Then Moore lets lose. Bringing in some Mixolydian Blues into the mix.

The closer “Intergalactic Strut” is one of those hard rock jazz fusion gems. Just listen to it and you will know what I mean. And remember, its Gary Moore playing like this, a mixture of art rock, progressive rock and whatever else he had in his arsenal.

Well that’s a wrap for Part 7. We move back to 2000 for Part 8.

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

2000 – Part 7

Dokken – Live From The Sun

So George Lynch was out again after the disastrous “Shadowlife” album and whatever stuff Lynch was smoking at the time, fertilized with the terrible hip hop album from Lynch Mob called “Smoke This” in 99, while Dokken regrouped with Reb Beach from Winger on guitar and released the excellent hard rock album, “Erase The Slate”.

“Live From The Sun” is a perfect capture of the Reb Beach era of Dokken and the excellent return to form album “Erase The Slate” from Dokken.

So no surprises here as the concert kicks off with “Erase The Slate”, a fast rocker with a brilliant lead break from Mr Beach himself.

Is it just me hearing “Race The Snake” instead of “Erase The Slate”?

Fake crowd noise then chimes in, as Reb Beach moves effortlessly into “Kiss Of Death” and it’s a one-two knock out combo.

That’s all followed with “The Hunter” and “Into The Fire” before “Madhatter” is played from the “Erase The Slate” album and so far it’s a pretty stellar set list.

But it gets better.

“Too High To Fly” is up next from the underrated “Dysfunctional” album, followed by some Lynch era classics in “Breaking The Chains”, “Alone Again”, “It’s Not Love”, “Tooth And Nail” and “In My Dreams”.

Don Dokken still cared about how he sung live during this period, and he’s pushing himself. On some songs, he’s struggling like “Breaking The Chains” but hey, his jeans needed to be tighter to pull off the highs he did back in 83.

And if he struggled, the backing vocals of Brown and Pilson gave him enough cover. And Reb Beach remained faithful to the Lynch classic solos with some improvisation here and there.

And I wanted to hear the Mark II line-up of Don Dokken on vocals, Reb Beach on guitar, Jeff Pilson on bass and Mick Brown on drums make new music again, but it didn’t happen.

Matchbox Twenty – Mad Season

This band really filled a hard rock void for me with the album “Yourself Or Someone Like You” released in 1996. Then Rob Thomas did “Smooth” with Santana and it was a smash everywhere. And so was Rob Thomas.

Then in 2000, four years after the debut was released, they dropped “Mad Season” and I was like, what happened to the hard rock on it. There’s still distorted guitars and a rock feel, but its more experimental. Which I also like as well.

And it went straight to number 1 in Australia.

Of course it’s got enough songs on it to satiate the fans of the debut with “If You’re Gone”, but “Rest Stop” is a lot better and more or less forgotten.

And “Bent” is grossly underrated.

As well as “Leave”, which is one of those pop style ballads that percolates and you feel like its gonna explode but it doesn’t, but the guitars keep getting layered and Rob Thomas keeps it going with a heartfelt vocal. And that passion continues with the closer, “You Won’t Be Mine”.

But there wasn’t enough on this album to keep me interested and I fell off the Matchbox Twenty train.

Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet

I really liked “The Last Temptation”. But that album came out in 1994 and I was like, when is Alice Cooper going to release his next album.

Well that happened six years later with “Brutal Planet”.

Its Alice being brutally heavy.

I’m a fan when artists incorporate the sounds of what is current into their style and this album suited the menacing voice of Alice Cooper to a tee.

Songs like “Brutal Planet”, “Sanctuary”, “Pick Up The Bones” and “It’s The Little Things” keep the album interesting.

And the band for the recording is excellent. Eric Singer is pounding away on the drums, while Phil X (future Bon Jovi guitarist) and Ryan Roxie (who started working with Alice Cooper in 1996 and is still there assisting) are on guitars. Bob Marlette rounds out the band as rhythm guitarist, keyboardist, bass player and producer.

Listen to the industrial groove metal infused riff of “Brutal Planet” and then go to the punk grunge infused “Sanctuary” with its speed rock style riff. You’ll either be banging your head in glee and the “Poison” loving fans will be spitting in their cups in disgust. “Eat Some More” musically, could have come from a Black Sabbath album in the 70’s with its doom riff.

My favourite is “Pick Up The Bones” and the way it moves between the clean tone arpeggios to the arena rock Chorus all within the sounds and grooves of Industrial Metal, but it’s a hard rock song at its core.

VAST – Music For The People

VAST stands for Visual Audio Sensory Theatre.

The drummer from a band I was in shared the CD with me. The influence of world music instruments and chants from different people and religions reminded me of Led Zeppelin (Kashmir) and The Tea Party, so I was immediately interested.

And “Touched” was the song that really got me. It starts off with a strummed acoustic guitar and a Pink Floyd’ish like vocal. Then these Afghan like voices kick in and I’m all in, as the drums kick in and out and in again adding power and stillness to the song.

“Flames” is an acoustic guitar, a violin and some synth strings with a sombre vocal melody. “Temptation” sounds like it could have come from The Tea Party album.

“Three Doors” has that exotic middle eastern sound and “The Niles Edge” has Gregorian Chants with a percolating tribal hand drum and an melancholic acoustic riff.

“You” is the album closer and it has this TonePad lick that keeps repeating almost metronomically, with choir voices and a guitar riff. Its slow, its atmospheric and it’s a great closer.

I do recall another album afterwards and then nothing, but by looking at Spotify, there seems to have been quite a few albums. I guess it’s time to dig in and see what’s been happening. In between listening to Van Halen of course.

Well, I guess it’s time to go back to 1985 for its part 7.

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

September 2020 – Part 7

Here is the final post for September 2020.

Black Stone Cherry

“Ringin’ In My Head” is one of the lead off singles from their upcoming album “The Human Condition” which will be released on October 30, 2020.

And the riff and the melody go back to 2017.

People, people, your attention, please
I need to tell all y’all about a new disease
It’s crept right up from beneath our nose
And what happens next, we already know

Lockdown, and quarantine and then more lockdowns and then masks and a lot of alcohol on our hands than inside our bodies, and sadly infections and deaths.

Rise Against

It was the Guitar Hero game which got me into this band and I’ve been a fan since. Their form of punk borders on fast metal like riffs, with melodic vocals.

“Broken Dreams, Inc.” is the song.

What a great title?

They contributed the song to the “Dark Nights: Death Metal” Soundtrack, DC’s new Batman comic-book series. The song deals with levelling the playing field for everyone to have a chance at achieving the American dream.

People vote our leaders in so our leaders should work for the people and put power in the people’s hands. Instead our leaders put power into the hand of businesses.

When we owe more than we’re worth
And they’re changing the locks on the doors

In Australia, each household is in so much debt it’s not even funny. The banking industry got wealthy from selling debt.

How’s that for a career?

How does it feel to make billions because you gave mortgages to people who never shouldn’t have got one.

When the factories are automated
Broken dreams incorporated
Gather your things, but there’s nowhere to go

When one business closes, a new one begins. Kids starting school this year, will be working jobs that haven’t even been created.

Tygers Of Pan Tang

I’m an original fan of this band because of John Sykes. And throughout the years, they’ve kept on going with some breaks here and there. But in the last twelve years, I’ve jumped back in with TOPT.

Original guitarist and founder Robb Weir re-started the band back in 2001 and from 2008’s “Animal Instinct”, I’ve been on board. Italian born signer, Jacopo Meille is brilliant and very melodic as he brings a Jeff Scott Soto / Robert Plant / Paul Rodgers like feel, with Craig Ellis on drums and Gavin Gray on bass.

The “Ambush” album is good. Produced by Chris Tsangerides.

“Keeping Me Alive” kicks it all off, with a riff straight from the Sunset Strip.

“These Eyes” is an excellent Dokken/Lynch inspired cut which isn’t written by Dokken/Lynch.

Do you reckon the band would have succeeded if it was called Lynch Dokken instead of Dokken?

“Rock N Roll Dream” is a roller alright, with a rumbling bass riff in the verse and a Freddie Mercury style vocal line.

“Play To Win” sounds like the old TOPT with a nod in the direction of AC/DC.

“Burning Desire” is an excellent Bad Company inspired song, which isn’t written by Paul Rodgers or Mick Ralphs. And the lead break had me playing air guitar.

“Hey Suzie” feels like a Guns N Roses cut from the Appetite era.

“Mr Indispensable” sounds like a song from The Cult and the closer “Cruel Hands Of Time” is my favourite cut.

Basically TOPT are still delivering the goods, 40 years later.

Bad Juju

I checked these guys out based on the album cover.

There is a normal looking human hand reaching out from dark grey water and another human hand trying to pull up that person who is submerged. Then there are two other hands, withered and decaying and white, trying to keep the submerged person in the water and trying to bring the unsubmerged person also into the water. And this takes place in front of a red moon.

And I pressed play and became a fan.

So I did some reading.

They are from Melbourne, Australia. There ya go, from my own back yard. Even though the websites have them listed as emo, to me this album is basically anthemic rock.

“Disappoint” opens the album, with its layered guitar riffs and melodies courtesy of Abe Miller and Armarin Saengsri with aggressive drumming by Drue Herring and solid bass playing by Matt John, which allows Russell Holland to wail.

“Picture Us” feels like a Brit Pop 90’s song, mixing The Cure with My Chemical Romance and Blink 182.

“Dawn” deals with being lonely at night and giving life to those dark thoughts. Again, it’s a on a bed of layered guitars.

“Say It” feels like a track from “Mellon Collie” from The Smashing Pumpkins.

“The truth is I’m not fine and it’s not okay / tell what you want to be hearing I will say it like I mean it” is the hook in the Chorus.

It’s basically a fuck you to “Are You Okay?” day.

“Let’s Talk” is a pop song about giving up on a toxic relationship.

And that’s a wrap for the massive month that was September 2020.

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

September 2020 – Part 5

I feel weird even writing about other bands after the death of EVH.

My first born is even named after him, with a V instead of the W because my wife didn’t like Edward, she liked Edvard.

But life goes on and I just got my ears around AC’s new song “Shot In The Dark”. But that’s for a different post.

The Pineapple Thief

From Somerset, England.

This is their self-produced thirteenth album.

And I only got onto their train a few years ago and I’m slowly going through their back catalogue. And as much as I want to have my finger on the pulse to all new music and to what is good, I am always late to the party.

The band is made up of the main songwriter Bruce Soord on guitars and vocals, Steve Kitch on keyboards, Jon Sykes on bass and Gavin Harrison on drums.

It’s hard to explain their sound, with influences ranging from Porcupine Tree, A Perfect Circle, Pink Floyd, Muse, Radiohead, The Police, Marillion, Queensryche (Promised Land era) and Genesis.

“Versions Of The Truth” is moody and progressive, with the Chorus catch-cry of “It’s not how I remembered it”.

And they are pushing the boundaries that Pink Floyd created on this song, especially the sounds and moods from the “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” album.

Then “Break It All” sounds like it came from the “Promised Land” album from Queensryche.

“Demons” sounds like the best Porcupine Tree song that they didn’t write and “Driving Like Maniacs” has a pretty basic music foundation with an emotive vocal line. In the old days this piano led tune would be on the charts. Check out the Chorus.

“Leave Me Be” sounds like a song from Powderfinger, one of Australia’s premier hard rock bands before they called it quits while “Out Of Line” is impressive. It has this acoustic guitar pattern that keeps on repeating and a vocal melody which is addictive. It’s very Porcupine Tree like, more in the vein of tracks like “Trains” mixed with A Perfect Circle with Gilmour like vocals.

“Stop Making Sense” has sounds that appear on “The Police” and Marillion albums. Even Gotye used those sounds on “Somebody I Used To Know” and “The Game” closes the album off, with a subliminal message to press repeat and listen to the album again.

The Smashing Pumpkins

“The Colour Of Love” is a good song.

It reminds me of “Love Song” from The Cure, so it’s very different from the Pumpkins sound I like, which is more or less captured on two albums, “Siamese Dreams” And “Mellon Collie”.

Nevertheless, I am interested to hear more.

Smile Empty Soul

They always stick around in my life with a song or two from each release. The glory from this EP goes to “Land Of The Lost”.

Billy Raffoul

“Big City” has this Springsteen and Gaslight Anthem vibe which I dig, so it was a pretty easy save. Musically its an acoustic guitar, harmonica and a vocal line. And that’s all you need sometime.

The Score

From New York City, which is going through a decent second wave of COVID-19 illnesses.

So how did The Score come into my life?

Well, my kids were listening to the song “Best Part” from em. It had enough there to get me curious to check em out.

Their sound is like the Imagine Dragons sound when they broke out big and a sound which Shinedown would push on their last few albums.

And I had no idea how massive the band is. On Spotify they have 4.28m monthly listeners. Some of their earlier songs are over a 100 million streams, while the songs “Stronger” and “Born For This” which appear on this album are at 54m and 34m streams respectively on Spotify.

So I did some reading.

The Score is basically two dudes.

Eddie Anthony sings and plays guitar and drums. Edan Dover sings, plays keyboards and produces.

I think this is the sign of the times. You don’t need any extras who don’t contribute to the song. The days of just being a drummer or just a bass player or just a guitarist in a band are over, unless you play instrumental music. And in the history of music it was always one or two and maybe three writers in a song.

So I’m listening to the “Carry On” album, released towards the end of August 2020.

“Golden” is basically an 80’s song, all dolled up and ready for a night out in 2020.

Take be back to my youth, bring me back to my roots
I don’t know where I am going, but I know that its golden

It doesn’t matter that we got older because our youth and our roots are what made us who we are. Those innocent and hopeful dreams, every single one of em, golden till the end.

“Running All Night” is another song worth of attention.

“Alone in the dark just my thoughts in a room”

That’s the scary part of life. We could be at our worst or at our best. We could be the most creative or the most depressed.

“I’ve been running all night in my head”

And that’s what we seem to do on a daily basis. Our thoughts move from different paradigms into a blend of paradigms and into a single paradigm. Running through different scenarios of certain events and what if’s.

And there are songs like “Fire” and “Stronger” which sound like they came from the recent Shinedown album.

Well Part 5 is done and from the looks of my playlist, there will be one more part to close off the September releases.

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

September 2020 – Part 2

Sevendust

I purchased my first Sevendust record back in 99 because I read the reviews about crashing guitars and melodic vocals, so I was keen to check em out. I took the CD home, unwrapped it, and looked at the album credits and the thank you credits before hearing a note. And I saw a name I was familiar with.

Jay Jay French was their manager. The same Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister.

Their first three albums (the self-titled debut released in 97, “Home” released in 99 and “Animosity” released in 2001) all went Gold in the U.S. and they got some traction in Australia as well.

I have been on and off the Sevendust train over the last 20 plus years and “Blood From A Stone” the lead single from their upcoming album is good enough to get me back on the train.

Starset

Their most streamed song, “Trials” has been reimagined.

And I didn’t like the original cut of the song, but I like the reimagined one. Which could be strange for fans of the original cut, because when George Lynch reimagined the “Wicked Sensation” album, I hated it, but other people could hear that reimagined version first and like it.

I guess like me with this band.

Khemmis

From Denver, Colorado, USA.

They took their name from an Ancient Egyptian city and more or less their whole Spotify collection is on this list as I really got into em over the month of September.

It was the blog “The Great Southern Brainfart” that got me interested.

The “Absolution” album was released in 2015.

That down-tuned, sludge like, fuzzed out, doom is all over this album but it’s the last track, the sombre “The Bereaved” which grabs me. It starts off with clean tone arpeggios before moving to a doom riff conjured from the darkest places a person could find.

And there is shred over the intro, so I wasn’t sure if this song is an 8 minute instrumental or if this was just one super long intro, because at 3 minutes in, no vocals had been heard.

And then they start at 3.11.

The “Hunted” album was released in 2016.

“Beyond The Door” and “Hunted” are the standout tracks. At 9 minutes and 12 minutes long, they roll along as an amalgamation of the “IV” album from Black Sabbath merged with the Gothenburg metal scene.

Especially the title track.

The “Desolation” album was released in 2018.

“Bloodletting” gets things off to a nice start but it’s the second track “Isolation” which gets me interested.

But “From Ruin” is the star of the album. That intro is so depressingly heavy it feels like lead on my shoulders.

Out of the darkest night / no one could help me find a way / but in the new spring dawn / I find the strength to carry on

Each new day is a new way to do things. To be seen, to learn, to own what you do and to do it better next time.

Then the song picks up with a 12/8 style riff that reminds me of “Phantom Of The Opera” with some killer leads.

“Doomed Heavy Metal” was released in 2020.

It’s a six song EP, with two originals, an awesome cover of “Rainbow In The Dark” (which sounds like how Ghost would cover it) and three live tracks.

And 2020 also gave us a doomy cover version of “Down In A Hole” from Alice In Chains as well.

They are a band on my radar. I’m interested, let’s see what comes next.

Andy James

From England.

One of my favourite instrumental guitarists going around at the moment.

He started off in the heavy metal band “Sacred Mother Tongue” between the years of 2004 and 2013. In between he also did some solo albums, instructional videos and classes and once he went solo, he also set up his Andy James Guitar Academy.

“Lock N’ Load” has this aggressive Five Finger Death Punch riff, with impressive leads, especially that sing along lead which appears in what I call the Chorus section.

Arctic Rain

From Sweden.

The album is very derivative which is okay for my taste, but “Night After Night” is a melodic rock song that really stands out.

Another act on Frontiers.

I’m also interested, let’s see what comes next.

Shiraz Lane

From Finland and another release on Frontiers.

“Broken Into Pieces” is the lead-off single from the soon to be released third album and I think this could be the album that makes me a fan.

Part 3 for September music coming up soon.

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

September 2020 – Part 1

Protest The Hero

From Canada.

They just dropped an album a few months ago and now they dropped a 2 song single of tracks that didn’t appear on the album.

If you like technical progressive metal, with vocals ranging from clean tone to death metal, then Protest The Hero is a band you need to check out.

My favourite album is “Volition”. This is the album after they got dropped by their label and they went the fan funded route, which we (the fans) had no problem helping with. But that was almost 7 years ago. In between they did an innovative Bandcamp project.

“Gift Horse” has some serious playing, with clean melodic vocals while “The Duelling Cavalier” continues the technical playing with a memorable guitar intro and corny lyrics, but hey, these dudes write songs about dog laws, Star Trek vs Star Wars, artists ripping fans off at the merchandise stand while they mime on stage, playing a bar in Newfoundland and getting drunk there with the locals plus topics on philosophical and stoic viewpoints on life.

Smith & Myers

I’m a fan of this acoustic side project. If you don’t know, it’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers from Shinedown.

“Not Mad Enough” is a song of the times, living with lockdown, police brutality and protests.

I can’t forgive what I can’t forget
And I can’t forget

It resonates straight away. I can’t forgive what I still remember. It’s a scar, but I move on and I learn from what happened, because it’s easy to blame the moment when things go bad, but really it’s the system that needs to be overhauled. The system that got me to that place in the beginning.

Face down, I can taste the blood
It’s hard to breathe, someone let me up

Whoever lived and saw the footage of George Floyd face down on the pavement, screaming “help me please, I can’t breathe” will never forget it. Because the person who held him down was a Police Officer, a person meant to protect him. And the other police officers just watched on, without doing anything to stop it.

In Flames

They remastered their brilliant “Clayman” album. Musically they are a heavy rock and metal band and the riffs are so catchy and memorable.

Vocally they move between clean tone and death metal, hence the term melodic death metal.

“Bullet Ride” and “Pinball Map”, musically, will not be out of place on a Judas Priest album.

“Only For The Weak” is a doom metal cut. Think of the album “Draconian Times” by Paradise Lost.

“Square Nothing” has this clean tone arpeggio riff with harmony guitars that remind me of Scorpions pre 80’s.

“Clayman” musically is brilliant and at first, the crackled growl vocals didn’t capture me, but the music is that good, that the song became a favourite.

“Satellites And Astronauts” musically could have come from an Iron Maiden album.

“Swim” just makes me pick up the guitar to learn it and “Another Day In Quicksand” has this “The Fire Still Burns” from Twisted Sister groove and riff.

Corey Taylor

He’s one of the better vocalists to have come out in the last 20 years. He can destroy his voice with Slipknot and he can bring the melody, the attitude and the AC/DC barroom brawl whenever he wants to other projects like Stone Sour, various cover songs and now to his own name as a solo act.

“Black Eyes Blue” is basically a hard rock track and I’m interested to hear more.

Redemption

Tom Englund from Evergrey is on vocals for this live recording and as an Evergrey fan I’m all in to the music Englund puts out, but Redemption came on my radar in the early 2000’s because Ray Adler from Fates Warning was on vocals.

The self-titled debut was released in 2003, “The Fullness Of Time” in 2005, “The Origins Of Ruin” in 2007, “Snowfall On Judgement Day” in 2009 and “This Mortal Coil” in 2011. Then a five year gap, and “The Art Of Loss” was released, the last album with Ray Adler on vocals and in 2018 a “Long Nights Journey Into Day” came out with Tom Englund on vocals.

But the band isn’t built around vocalists.

It’s built around guitarist and songwriter Nick Van Dyk, who has Chris Quirarte on drums, Sean Andrews on bass, Simone Mularoni on guitar and Vikram Shankar on keys.

There is a cover of Megadeth’s “Peace Sells” with drummer Chris Quirarte doing an unbelievable Dave Mustaine impression, all the way to the snarls and Chris Poland also guests on the guitar.

“The Echo Chamber” is still a favourite as it has an intro riff that reminds me of “Ytse Jam” from Dream Theater and lyrics so relevant of the time, because the echo chamber phenomenon is real in today’s world, as people expose themselves to information from like-minded individuals and they refuse to believe any other view-points or to research other view-points. The 5G Covid Conspiracy, the No Global Warming outcomes, the QAnon rabbit hole and whatever else that comes out around anti vaccinations and other conspiracies.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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

1985 – Part 6

Fates Warning – The Spectre Within

I picked up their first three albums really cheap in the early 90’s via a second hand record shop. The youthful exuberance approach to song writing is clear, with extravagant structures and riff-a-ramas in each song. Better albums and songs would come later however those songs would not be possible if they didn’t get these early albums and the styles out of the way. Put simply, this is Fates Warning, sounding heavier, faster and more complex.

The band is also different to the band that I would come to like. John Arch is on vocals, Victor Arduini and Jim Matheos are on guitars, Jim Arch is on keyboards, Steve Zimmerman on bass and Joe DiBiase on drums.

“Orphan Gypsy”, musically is an underrated progressive metal cut. If it appeared on a Megadeth or Metallica or Slayer album, it would be seen as a classic. Lyrically, the melodies are hit and miss, but the music is a thrash-a-thon. “Without A Trace” has an intro riff which could have come from Malmsteen’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” before it morphs into a galloping riff like Iron Maiden.

But its “The Apparition” which fuses their Maiden influences (especially “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”) with their other influences which really gets my attention. Even the vocal delivery, could be said to inspire Midnight from Crimson Glory.

Musically, the piece d resistance is “Epitaph”. It sounds like its inspired by “Heaven And Hell” from Sabbath. And at 12 minutes long, it has different movements and moods and it’s a great way to close the album. This song is a giant leap for progressive metal. 

Vocally, John Arch, is a tenor, a cross between Geoff Tate and Dickinson, with a bit of Robert Plant, Rob Halford falsetto and King Diamond chucked in for good measure. But his choice of melodies are a bit of a let down on some of the songs.

Loverboy – Loving Every Minute of It

If you listened to rock music, there is no way that you would have not heard of Loverboy and their songs. This is their first album to not feature Bruce Fairbairn in the producers chair, and Tom Allom was hired.

The album is not on Spotify Australia which irks me, but hey, YouTube has it.

Mutt Lange is on hand to write the big hit, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It”. This dude couldn’t do nothing wrong for a long time.

Jonathan Cain from Journey is on hand to co-write the soft rock influenced “This Could Be The Night” with Paul Dean, Mike Reno and Bill Wray.

Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are on hand to write “Dangerous”, a melodic rock classic.

The riff in “Friday Night” is to my liking. This one is written by Bill Wray, Paul Dean, Davitt Sigerson and Patrick Mahassen.

And the lyric, “Friday Night, I just got paid, no sleep till Monday”. Truth right there, folks.

The good songs keep coming, with the hard rocking “Too Much Too Soon” and the ballad like “Destination Heartbreak” (with its heartbreak emotive guitar solo). But it’s the Lange penned title cut that moved units.

Heart – Heart

This album was massive in the U.S with 5 plus million in sales and a who’s who of songwriters behind it. Not sure if that was the intention of the Wilson sisters or the label, but the addition of songs from outside writers enhanced the band. 

“If Looks Could Kill” is a perfect opener. There is a “Live In Memphis” release on Spotify which is recorded in 1985 for a radio broadcast, and this opens it. Its raw rock and roll without all the studio polish and perfect. It’s written by Jack Conrad and Bob Garrett. And Conrad played bass in The Doors after the death of Jim Morrison and became a songwriter later on.

“What About Love” is a cut written by Sheron Alton, Brian Allen and Jim Vallance. I like the verses more than the Chorus. “Never” and “All Eyes” are written by Holly Knight and Gene Bloch, along with Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis. “These Dreams” is written by Elton John’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin and Martin Page. It was a hit, but it’s not on my radar.

“The Wolf” (the side 1 closer) and “Shell Shock” (the side 2 closer) are written by the band with Sue Ennis. Both songs are aggressive and loud and I like em, but they wouldn’t push the album past the 5 million mark in sales. 

DLR – Crazy From The Heat

Roth got a lot of money to go solo, but the real solo album would come with “Eat Em And Smile”, then again, that album also had a lot of cover songs on it as well, so the real solo album, free of covers was “Skyscraper”.

For “Crazy From The Heat”, I own it on cassette and LP, but I never play it.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth

The title makes me laugh now, but in the 80’s it was badass. Even the band name referenced my favourite movie, “Warriors”. They had the whole dystopian metal look happening, and that intro riff, used in a million songs, but so effective in this song. 

And vocalist Paramore McCarty is one hell of a vocalist. If you haven’t heard Warrior, then you would have heard his singing with Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 2017, he resurfaced with the band “Radiation Romeos” and released an album on Frontiers. If the name sounds familiar, well it appeared in the lyrics of the song “Atomic Playboys”. Musically, it sounds very similar to the song.

And when you want to talk about connections, Robin Crosby from Ratt kick started his career by getting him to sing in his pre-Ratt bands and getting him noticed. 

And Joe Floyd is an excellent guitarist/songwriter. If you’ve seen a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford album, well he is listed in the production credits as either a mixer or engineer.

Immortal enemy, has come to challenge man / Secret science out of control

Who knew the immortal enemy is a virus. We cannot eradicate it, so we need to learn with it.

We are fighting for the earth

But no one is listening. As long as money rules the game, the Earth suffers.

Blood and corruption, hideous crimes / Lying leaders, controlling our minds

It feels like the rich and powerful don’t have to answer to anyone. Rules don’t apply to them. Then you have the news outlets who no one seems to fact check, also spreading lies like our elected leaders.

“Defenders of Creation” starts off with a riff that reminds me of “It’s Not Love” by Dokken. What came first, we will never know.

Leatherwolf – Endangered Species

In Europe it was released as “Leatherwolf” and in America it was released as “Endangered Species”. To confuse matters even more another self-titled album was released in 1987, which is different to this one.

But it was “Streetready” released in 89 that really got me interested in the band and I couldn’t find any of their early stuff at that point in time. But many years later, the internet made sure I did.

And this album is not on Spotify Australia but it’s on YouTube.

Musically, it’s metal the way I know it from a band trying to find where they fit into things. The tracks I like are “Endangered Species”, “Season Of The Witch” and “Leatherwolf”. But better songs would come after.

Mr Mister – Welcome To The Real World

Like Loverboy, but lighter in rock and roll. Like Marillion, but more poppy. Like Toto and their Africa period. Like U2 but not big on the social conscience lyrics.

That’s basically how I described em.

And there was no denying “On Broken Wings”. It was everywhere and I liked it. 134 million streams on Spotify demonstrates how big it is. And maybe because it reminded me of U2, I gravitated to it.

“Kyrie” is another song which still does the rounds at 33 million plus streams. This one reminds me of “Africa” from Toto and Marillion and I like it.

The labels tried their best to break up the band by offering vocalist Richard Page the vocalist gig in Toto to replace Bobby Kimball and then to replace Peter Cetera in Chicago.

But Page refused both offers.

In the end, this album (their second) was its biggest.

Once album number three “ Go On” stalled in sales a few years later, the writing was on the wall. Guitarist Steve Farris left in 88 and the remaining members went to work on album number 4 with session guitarists.  This was ready for release in 1990 but the label refused to release it and that was that. 

John Fogerty – Centrefield

I had no idea at the time the troubles he had with the labels and his old CCR songs but there was no denying that John Fogerty is a star. And the songs, “Vanz Kant Danz” and “Mr Greed” sum it up nicely about his struggles.

That opening lick in “The Old Man Down The Road” gets the foot tapping. Its instant and memorable. “Rock and Roll Girls” transports you back to those 60’s movies, hanging out on the boardwalk. “Mr Greed” is a blues rock slap down of his former label boss and the title track is a 12 bar blues romp. 

And that’s a wrap for 1985 part 6, and I’m off to 1977 for part 6.

Standard