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

Australian Method Series: Dragon – Body And The Beat

Dragon is a New Zealand rock band which was formed in January 1972 and relocated later to Sydney, in May 1975.

“Body and the Beat” is album number seven. The album was released in June 1984, peaking at number 5 on the Australian charts and gained a platinum certification.

But it’s their first album since 1979.

At the time, Dragon was on the verge of breaking through worldwide but vocalist Marc Hunter was out of control with his heroin addiction and on stage antics, offending everyone, including audiences, other acts and label heads.

They had a US tour opening up for Johnny Winter that went pear shaped when Hunter called Winter’s blues rock audience rednecks and faggots. Then again it was another stupid decision to place Dragon on this bill, it’s like Imagine Dragons opening up for Iron Maiden.

Actually when I watched Maiden on the “Somewhere Back In Time”, the opening act “Behind Crimson Eyes” was the support. Now they are an Australian metalcore band with screaming vocals and they got booed after each song, until they played a cover of “Ace Of Spades” and the crowd cheered. Again, another misplaced opening act.

Anyway, back to Dragon, the band which included his brother Todd, fired him. This brought to an end the first period of Dragon which also involved the heroin overdose of drummer Neil Storey in 1976.

Hunter went solo and had some success and then the band got together again.

“Rain” was the output in 1983. Written by Johanna Pigott, Marc Hunter and Todd Hunter, it’s 3 minutes and 40 seconds of hard rock glory. Make sure you stick around for the “if you go out in the rain” melody.

Due to its success, the band went into the studio to record an album worth of songs.

It’s worth noting that the songwriting team of Johanna Pigott and her partner, Todd Hunter (Dragon bass player) also wrote the smash hit title track “Age Of Reason” for John Farnham.

The album kicks off with “Rain”. “Promises” and “Wilderworld” are melodic rock songs perfect for a summers day.

If it wasn’t for “Rain”, then “Cry” would be a favorite.

“Body And The Beat” has a bass groove and a feel that bands like INXS were making popular.

“Magic” feels like a driving song, with the window down and the warm winds blowing through.

But.

Apart from “Rain”, this album is forgotten.

Everyone told the band the album would break the band overseas. But it didn’t. Within a year they were back in the studio recording another album..

A year after this album came out, keyboardist Paul Hewson and the writer of their classic songs “April Sun In Cuba” and “Are You Old Enough” was found dead in a friends car, hours after he told the band he wanted to leave.

Dragon continued and released the super successful (in the Australia market), “Dreams Of Ordinary Men” in 1986 and my favourite “Bondi Road” in 1989. A few greatest hits and acoustic re-recordings hit the shelves. And then tragedy struck again.

Marc Hunter was diagnosed with throat cancer in November 1997 and he died on 17 July 1998. Dragon have continued on with Todd Hunter still the driving force.

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

1986 – Part 1.3: Metallica – Master Of Puppets

It’s the album that defined the Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Burton line up. By 1986, they had been together for three years and the musical creativity between the guys was at an all-time high.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted any Metallica reviews at all. When I started this blog I tried to focus on artists who didn’t get a lot of love and stayed away from acts like Metallica because the internet is littered with stories and reviews. But each story and review is personal to the person who wrote it.

For me, Hetfield and his commitment to down picking and writing killer riffs is a huge influence when it comes to guitar playing. The lyrics he wrote, living in corporate Reagenomics showed a maturity far surpassed for his young years. There is and never was, no tease and please in his lyrical lines.

The cover foreshadows that other unseen masters control our lives from the cradle to the grave. Designed by Metallica and Peter Mensch and painted by Don Brautigam, it depicts a cemetery field of white crosses tethered to strings, manipulated by a pair of hands in a blood-red sky.

With “Master Of Puppets”, Metallica took the diverse musical elements of “Ride The Lightning” and raised the bar even higher. Live, they performed even faster and looked like your friend standing next to you watching the show, so far removed from the image put out by Ratt and Motley Crue, to name a few.

“Battery”

The ominous Ennio Morricone themed intro kicks off this monster track. It’s even classical sounding in nature as James Hetfield creates a melody that moves from F to E to D while the low notes move up chromatically from E to F to F# and to G. And while those chords ring out, a subtle harmony guitar outlines a different melodic idea.

Eventually, the power chords start crashing in and those subtle harmony guitar licks come to the fore.

Then all hell breaks loose at the 1.05 mark, when a chainsaw galloping riff smashes through the boundaries and James starts singing with his four day alcohol infested throat. The song isn’t pretty, but its message is about a light that burns within despite the violence and darkness around.

It could be seen as a bastard, a collision between punk and metal.

“Smashing through the boundaries / lunacy has found me / cannot stop the battery”

And a sea of bodies run, circle and smash each other into bits, creating scars to prove that the battery cannot be stopped.

How good is that hard rock like groove and lead from 2.58 to 3.18 before the breakneck solo section.

And make sure you bang your head on the military foot stomping chromatic riff from 3.49 to 4.00.

Which also closes the song. I guess battery is found in me.

“Master Of Puppets”

They wanted to write another “Creeping Death”.

Hetfield grew up in a Christian Science house. The person here is controlled by the religion first, then the family, the social circles of the family and the cultural values of the family and their circle of friends. Hetfield explored these themes of control and subjugation in “Dyers Eve” and “The Unforgiven”.

In its essence, it’s asking for sanity to prevail in a control-freak society/world. Then again, it could be seen as a band saying to their audience, “taste our music and you will see, more is all you need”, because once everyone got a taste of em, they more or less stayed hooked and agreed with Hetfield.

After a few descending and chromatic power chords, the intro riff kicks in at the 3 second mark. Hetfield’s combination of syncopated chromatic lines with a driving low E pedal at 220 beats per minute creates an urgent feeling.

The verse riff has so much power because of the vocal line. They complement each other.

The song could have ended at the 3.32 mark. A 3 minute thrash-a-thon. But this was Metallica, and suddenly we get a haunting Em arpeggio riff, with harmony guitars and James Hetfield breaking out into an individual solo before joining back up with the harmony lead.

Then the clean tone arpeggio riff is played menacingly with distortion while power chords crash down around your senses, while Lar’s just keeps building into the “master, master” chant section.

“The Thing That Should Not Be”

An ominous D to E clean tone chord rings out. On this they drop the E down to D and all the other strings remain the same. It was my first exposure to the DADGBE tuning.

Lyrically, I read a track by track analysis book from Mick Wall and Malcolm Dome, who said the song is about the madness that lives at the bottom of the well of all human souls. And it stuck with me, because even though it could be about the mythical creature Cthulhu, I always saw lyrics from a personal and social point of view.

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”

This song is the definition of taking the best things of what has come before and merging those things all together to come up with something unique, original and innovative.

INTRO (0.00 to 0.20)
Back in 1971, Yes released “Roundabout”. The intro is more or less a droning note, with some harmonics and a hammer on/pull off lick on the E string.

Take something from the past and make it better.

INTRO 2 and VERSE (0.21 to 1.48) and (2.10 to 3.10)
Anyone heard of a New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) band called Bleak House?

If the answer is NO, then you are in the majority. However, a certain person called Lars Ulrich has heard of this band. James Hetfield has even said in an interview that the band shall remain anonymous.

So Bleak House release a song called “Rainbow Warrior” as a seven-inch single in 1980 via Buzzard Records. By 1982, the band called it a day. The intro riff of “Rainbow Warrior” is catchy. It was so good that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are influenced by it. They start to jam on it and they start to tweak it into “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.

Hetfield and Ulrich made this riff the centrepiece, as Hetfield arpeggiates a serious of 5th power chords on the A and D strings, surrounding them with the Open G and E strings, which forms like a double pedal point. The lead break from Hammett is phrased perfectly.

Metaphorically, I saw the world as a lunatic asylum and you know how truth is meant to set you free, but in this song, truth actually imprisons you. In a cruel twist of fate, knowledge is maddening, instead of being powerful. I’ve definitely overanalyzed the lyrics, but god damn, what else was I meant to do during this time except listen to music, analyse the music, read the interviews in the mags I purchased and since I played an instrument, learn the music and write my own music.

In the “Guitar Legends” #108 issue, Hetfield said that the idea for the song came from the move “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and that “the riff was lifted from some other band, who shall remain anonymous.”

OUTRO (4.05 to 4.26) and (04.48 to end)
Metallica have taken the intro from “Tom Sawyer” and used it as their outro. The feel and the phrasing of the two songs are almost identical.

Again, take what has come before and make something new.

“Disposable Heroes”

One of the most underrated cuts on the album. This song is a blast to play on guitar with so many different movements and bone crunching riffs, like the open string palm muted chugging riff after the power chords intro.

And that open string palm muted riff comes back in the verses.

At 8 plus minutes, it’s a tour de force, another metal classic, the way metal should sound.

“Back to the front / you will die / when I say / you must die” as even in war, the soldiers are controlled by masters. These kind of concepts Hetfield explores a little bit more in “One”.

Make sure you stick around for the various lead breaks between the 4.50 and 5.25 mark.

And the lyric, “I was born for dying” scared the hell out of me, because it’s true. Everything that is born will die eventually.

“Leper Messiah”

The song is written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. The title comes from a David Bowie lyric in “Ziggy Stardust”.

It’s worth noting that Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song’s main riff and was not given credit by Metallica. Hammett denies this, saying that just before the guitar solo there is a less than 10 seconds of music that could be his and that it was actually Lars Ulrich that came up with the main motif.

For all of those haters that said Metallica had sold out with the “Black” album obviously didn’t know that Metallica had similar style songs on their earlier albums. “Leper Messiah” is one of those songs.

The best part comes in around the 30 second mark. Cliff’s trademark bass lines just rumble along while James lays down palm muted staccato power chords.

“Send me money, send me green / Heaven you will meet / Make a contribution / And you’ll get a better seat / Bow to leper messiah”

Turn on the TV and you see some evil right there. These TV evangelists made some serious bank, using heavy metal and hard rock music as topics of discussion, while spending a lot of their time in seedy motels doing drugs and hookers.

Make sure you check out the section between the 3.20 to 3.35 mark.

“Orion”

The drums are stock standard while the bass plays phased out chords, but when the distorted guitars kick in, that riff is head banging, back breaking and desk breaking worthy.

At the 4 minute mark, the song slows down into a Sabbath like blues rock riff courtesy of Burton and the guitars really shine here, with their harmonies. From the 5.13 mark, a lone lead starts but its quickly harmonised. This whole section was written by Burton.

At the 5.41 mark, there is another melodic lead which keeps on repeating and it builds into a single lead break. Then you get a bass solo. At the 7 minute mark its back to the thrashing mad lead sections, but here Hammett is all Michael Schenker like.

“Damage Inc.”

I will leave this review with the following lines from “Damage Inc.”;

“Following our instinct / not a trend / go against the grain / until the end”

Amen.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – Second Stage Turbine Blade

I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.

The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.

Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.

Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.

As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.

The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.

The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.

This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.

From a story point of view, there is a great summary over at the Coheed and Cambria fan wiki.

In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.

A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.

“Second Stage Turbine Blade”

It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.

“Time Consumer”

The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.

“Devil In Jersey City”

It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.

“Everything Evil”

This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums

Delirium Trigger”

The heaviest song on the album.

“Hearshot Kid Disaster”

It has a funky riff.

“33”

A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.

“Junesong Provision”

“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.

“Neverender”

The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.

“God Send Conspirator”
A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.

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

1986 – Part 1.1: Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time

The first thing that grabs you is the Bladerunner style cover. Bruce Dickinson mentions the same in his book, “What Does This Button Do?”

Apart from buying the album, the fan is also buying a great piece of art by Derek Riggs, who took 3 months to come up with the painting.

During this 80s era, the UK government decided to tax the entertainment industry over 80% of what they earn so this meant that the band and other UK artists had to go into exile and were caught somewhere, far away from home for nine months of the year. So the album ended up being written and recorded in different places and in different studios.

When the sessions started, Bruce Dickinson wanted to do something different, which made everyone laugh. He wanted Maiden to lead instead of delivering just another Iron Maiden album.

But, the fans got “just another Maiden album”. And we loved it.

Steve Harris contributed “Caught Somewhere In Time”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” and “Alexander The Great”. Adrian Smith contributed “Wasted Years”, “Sea Of Madness” and “Stranger In A Strange Land” while Dave Murray brought in “Déjà Vu”.

A chord is strummed, a synth chord rings out and a harmony lead is heard. This repeats for a few times and then a drum groove comes in. Subdued it percolates, changes key and at the fifty two second mark, it explodes.

“Caught Somewhere In Time” had really started. And that exploding intro comes back in the solo section at the 4.50 mark. As Harris once said, it’s about a nightmare trip through time due to a malfunction in the time machine.

The iconic open E pedal point riff starts off “Wasted Years”, Maiden’s contribution to the tales of touring and being on the road for a long time. It’s no surprise that this song was written straight after their biggest and longest tour for the “Powerslave” album which resulted in the “Live After Death” album.

The intro lead riff was rejected by Smith but Harris heard it and told him to work on it.

And the whole solo section is head banging, fists in the air, desk breaking material. Check out the way they build up the intro E pedal point riff into the solo section.

The solo section of “Sea Of Madness” is one of my favourite pieces of music on this album.

“Heaven Can Wait” is the story of a person who is struggling to transition to Heaven. The song just moves along, but when the whole “Take my hand, I’ll lead you to the promised land” section starts off, its pay attention time. Then those “woh oh oh” chants kick in and its desk breaking time. And how good is the clean tone guitar riff under the “woh-oh-oh”.

The guitar intro to “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” is inspiring, There is a film with the same title and Harris once said in an interview something like, “you always have to run in life, move forward, and you do it alone.”

The way Bruce Dickinson carries the vocal melody for the Chorus is excellent, and then the harmony leads kick in while Nicko McBrain is doing double time on the drums.

Then at the 3.30 mark, a blues rock like lead kicks in with pentatonic bends before it morphs into a metal like solo. And the song ends the way it started, with a tonne of memorable harmony leads.

The open E bass shuffle of “Stranger In A Strange Land” gets me interested, but it’s the Adrian Smith riff that seals the deal.

And how good is the lead break.

While the title shares the same name as the Robert Heinlein book, Adrian Smith based it on a story he read about an old sailor John Torrington, a member of the mysterious 1845 Sir John Franklin expedition that attempted to find the Northwest Passage from America to Asia. More than a century later in 1984, he’s perfectly preserved body was found in the ice of the North Pole.

Check out “Déjà Vu” from the 30 second mark, when that harmony lead kicks in. It’s like “The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner” part 2 and it morphs into a riff that reminds me of “Die With Your Boots On”.

How good is the pre chorus vocal melody when Dickinson starts to sing, “cause you know this happened before”?

And that harmony lead from the 2.50 mark. Brilliant.

There is blowing wind, a slow military march tempo and a clean guitar solo. That is how the album closer, “Alexander The Great” starts, and it percolates musically, until it explodes into the verses.

The lyrics are somewhat like a children’s encyclopaedia article however there is enough detail there line by line.

And that groove and feel change at the 4.50 mark is excellent, with more leads and more harmonies.

Not bad for just another album.

But.

For all its excellence, the tracks on “Somewhere In Time” (apart from “Wasted Years” and “Heaven Can Wait”) are really underplayed when it comes to the set lists.

P.S. This issue of Guitar Legends is one of my favorites with a heap of information. But that will be for another day.

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

Australian Method Series – BB Steal

BB Steal was Australia’s entry for world domination in the hard rock movement. But did the world need a new Def Leppard.

Their association with the band wasn’t just inspiration. They opened up for Def Leppard during the “Adrenalize” Tour and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen produced the title song on their “Heartbeat Away” EP and co-produced their first full-length album “On The Edge”, which also features a version of the song “Heartbeat Away”. Collen also played some guitar and sang backing vocals on the album, but is not credited.

BB Steal (otherwise known as Beg Borrow Steal) was spawned from the NWOBHM sounding “Boss” band. In typical Australian hard rock fashion, they lived in development EP hell for at least 4 years before the album came out. 4 years is a long time in the music and recording industry.

And the album definitely racked up the bills as recording took place in Los Angeles and Montreal with various engineers and studio players.

Formed in 1987, they released the 4 song EP “Heartbeat Away” in 1988. The title track of this EP set the tone for the sound and feel the band would pursue. The Def Leppard “Hysteria” album sound.

So, “On The Edge” was released in 1991. It’s one of those should have and would have and could have stories. It should have done better commercially, and it would have if Grunge didn’t come, and it could have done great numbers if it came out a few years earlier.

If you love Def Leppard then you will love BB Steal. Critics praised em and also drilled em, calling em a poor version of Def Leppard. But the band was a lot more than the Def Leppard comparisons.

“On The Edge (Lizzy Town)” has this “Led Zeppelin III” acoustic vibe before it moves into a Def Leppard like groove and vocal.

“Big On Love” is probably the best song not written by Def Leppard that sounds like it belonged on “Hysteria”. At one stage I thought it was “Animal”.

Then “Hysteria” starts. Wait, it’s called “Ride On”. They are similar but derivative enough to stand on its own.

“Suffer In Silence” is another track which is very Def Leppard like.

“Live It Up” has a guitar intro that could have come from a Van Halen album, before it goes into an AC/DC like groove. The vocals of Craig Csongrady on this album are just too much like Joe Elliot, in the same way that Marc Storace from Krokus was too much like Bon Scott.

“Shot Full Of Love” feels like a cut from Babylon AD. “Precious Love” has that “Stand Up” vibe.

“Don’t You Love Me and Leave Me” is an AC/DC song musically, with a bit of The Cult added in vocally and musically.

“Heartbeat Away” is from the Phil Collen produced EP, released in 1988 and “Troubled Child” closes the album, with a Journey like feel musically and a Joe Elliot like vocal.

In the 2019, re-issue, it comes with three songs from the original 1988 EP in “I Believe” (very Journey like), “Hold On” (has a guitar hero solo moment) and “Heartbeat Away” (the Phil Collen produced and the song which set the stone for the album to come a few years after).

And when the album did nothing commercially, the band disappeared along with thousands of other hard rock bands.

But in 2012, they returned with a new album called “Resurrection”. But that’s for another day and another “Australian Method Series” post.

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

1996 – Part 1.4: Bush, Deep Purple and Bruce Dickinson

Without even realizing, it’s a special U.K edition.

Bush – Razorblade Suitcase

I got this album a few years after it came out on cassette tape, via a 3 for $10 bin, so it was a no brainer.

Gavin Rossdale got a lot of crap from journalists and critics.

Like he was too handsome to be considered grunge but then he’s labelled a Nirvana clone. And when the debut album sold in the multi-millions, the band was labelled as slick rock.

He got worse treatment in his homeland. As the U.K ignored them initially, Bush landed a U.S deal and became successful in the North American market first before their album was released in their home country.

He mentioned that Pixies are an influence, and the press called him a Kurt Cobain poseur as Cobain also said that the Pixies are a massive influence. So he said “fuck it”.

“Swallowed” is the lead single. My favorite on the album.

“Greedy Fly” is basically an artist writing a song, without a thought of it being a hit. And somehow it gets released as a single and it’s seen as a hit.

“Cold Contagious” has a cool drum groove, with the guitars decorating the song in a nice way, as Rossdale is singing, “you will get yours” with the volume and intensity increasing. And at six minutes long, it’s the anti-single, but it still got released as a single.

And the band toured for 14 months to promote the album. In the process they moved 6 million copies of the album in the U.S alone.

But with every peak, there is a valley waiting below.

A fight with the label delayed “The Science Of Things” and when the album came out, their sound was suddenly seen as “old” by the press, in the same way that hard rock became old circa 1991/92.

Deep Purple – Purpendicular

It’s not on Spotify but YouTube has it. It’s ridiculous why some albums are missing from digital services.

“Purpendicular” is the fifteenth studio album. It is their first album with guitarist Steve Morse. His injection was seen a breath of fresh air.

“Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic”

The blues boogie is excellent and the Mixolydian lead break from Steve Morse is guitar hero worthy.

What a way to introduce yourself to the Purple fans.

“Loosen My Strings”

Arpeggios kick off the song, but its Roger Glover’s bass line that takes this song to a new level and then Morse starts to play a distorted chord riff which complements the bass riff.

The riff before the lead break is excellent, but make sure you check out the lead break and the outro lead break, which sounds like a Boston outro, ala “Don’t Look Back”.

“Soon Forgotten”

It’s a strange song, with a riff that sounds a little bit exotic and a bizarre staccato like vocal melody on top of it. The organ work on this track is stunning and you are reminded why Jon Lord is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.

“Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”

The intro guitar from Morse is haunting and sad. He then plays this melodic lead in between the verses which is memorable.

The guitar solo is amazing.

It’s one of their best and should be known with their classic songs.

Did I mention that the guitar solo is amazing?

It is.

Do yourself a favour, check it out and start playing air guitar to it.

And did I mention there is an outro guitar solo as well?

There is. So check that one out as well. In other words, Steve Morse rules on this track.

“Cascades: I’m Not Your Lover”

The churchy organs of Jon Lord kick it off, while Steve Morse plays a bendy melodic lead, before it takes a left turn and a U-turn and becomes a hard rock song with a “Highway Star” like vibe.

The guitar/organ harmony solo from 2.15 to 3.15 is one of the great moments on this album as Lord/Morse go to town playing arpeggios, in a similar way that Lord and Blackmore did for “Burn”, just a lot faster.

“The Aviator”

Morse brings out the country and folk influences to create a major key “good vibes” medieval arrangement. Make sure you check out “Highland Wedding” from Steve Morse’s “High Tension Wires” from 1989 as Morse has been dabbling with these kind of melodies previously.

“A Castle Full of Rascals”

The beginning sounds like a cross between ELP and Led Zeppelin in the blues rock vein.

And the song changes at 1.58 mark with a bass groove, lush keys and a progressive like vocal melody. Morse at first is playing single note lines before crashing in with power chords and distorted single notes, paving the way for Jon Lord and his Hammond Organ solo.

“A Touch Away”

It’s got that feel good 70’s progressive vibe.

“Hey Cisco”

It sounds like “Hit The Road Jack” on steroids. Hell, it could have come from a Van Halen album. Make sure you stick around for the guitar and organ harmonies from about 4.08 and then Morse breaks loose with his fast alternate picked Mixolydian lines.

“Somebody Stole My Guitar”

What a riff to introduce the song. It grooves, its heavy and bluesy. I haven’t mentioned the swing and soul feel of Ian Paice yet, but man, this dude can play.

At the 2 minute mark, Morse starts this palm muted arpeggio riff, while Lord plays these Organ chords before Morse launches into the solo, while Lord plays the palm muted arpeggio riff on the Organ.

Brilliant.

“The Purpendicular Waltz”

It’s a blues shuffle built around a cool groove and a great closer to the album.

For all the debate about Blackmore and Morse, forget it.

Listen without prejudice.

Bruce Dickinson – Skunkworks

I didn’t like this album when I first heard it. And it stayed on the shelf for a long time before I pulled it out and re-listened. I still didn’t like it and back on the shelf it went. But over the last 8 years, the album has taken a life on its own.

I didn’t get it back then, but goddamn this album sounds progressive. The cover design from Storm Thorgerson (RIP) should have been an indication of its progressive intentions, but it escaped me.

It was meant to be a band album but the label wouldn’t release it under anything except Bruce Dickinson. Jack Endino a Seattle producer who worked on Nirvana’s “Bleach” is producing. The sound is like an amalgamation of 80’s Rush with alternative rock and metal.

And I’ve never heard of Alex Dickson again after this album but he does a stellar job on the guitar and as a co-writer on all the songs. But as Rod Smallwood said, “Bruce Dickinson is a heavy metal singer and that will never change”. His attempt to shake off the image of his Maiden past was futile.

“Back From The Edge” has double time drumming over a jangly chord progression, but it’s the bridge and solo section which gets me interested.

“Inertia” could have come from any Maiden album, past or future.

How good is the riff to kick off “Faith”?

At times I feel like I am listening to a Dream Theater cut from the “Falling Into Infinity” album with this song.

Make sure you check out the solo section.

“Dreamstate” in the verses sounds like a Nirvana cut. Yes, that’s right folks, Bruce is channeling Cobain.

How good is “I Will Not Accept The Truth”. Listen to the repeating arpeggios in the verses. Sinister and melodic in the same breadth.

The whole mood and groove in the interlude/solo section of “Strange Death In Paradise” while Dickinson sings the title is a must listen for any Dickinson fan.

In the end, unless you were interested in what Dickinson was up to, there was nothing really here to get you to commit. Then again, the 90’s was an interesting time for 80’s artists and the fans of those artists.

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1996 – Part 1.1: Def Leppard – Slang

There was no way Def Leppard could continue in the same vein of “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” without a reset. It became a heavy burden to carry on the style of those albums. They had to change or die.

I was surprised when the opening musical notes of “Truth” started off, and the distorted “why don’t you tell me” vocal line. It was more in the vein of Brit Alternative Rock/Pop than Blues Heavy Rock.

Check out the exotic sounding lead break. And the demo version of the song sounds more natural and it’s my go to version as the mix is in the heavy rock category that I like.

I like the exotic middle eastern sounds on “Turn To Dust” before a groovy Rick Savage bass riff kicks in and the Chorus is classic Def Lep, with the layered vocals.

“Slang” always felt like an INXS song to me as it’s got that fun pop vibe.

How good is the repeating lick intro to “All I Want Is Everything”?

Then when the drums and bass come in, it’s got a perfect groove and Joe Elliot’s haunting vocal melody takes it to another level.

This track could have come from a Tom Petty album.

“Work It Out” is Vivian Campbell’s first songwriting contribution and it’s a high point on the album. The song reminds me of the sounds of British bands like Gun who had a brief moment in the spotlight between 1989 and 1995.

The chugging guitar sound was made by running Campbell’s guitar through a drum machine gate.

In the June, 1996, Guitar issue, Campbell said that when he was in Dio, he wrote some of the music, but writing a song for Dio was basically writing a guitar riff and 32 bars of a guitar solo. That was his world, as Dio would then arrange the pieces as he saw fit.

Campbell mentioned that Def Leppard is not about that. It’s about getting the song right for the record. Campbell further said that;

“In the 80’s there was more than just doing what was appropriate for the song. There was the plus, you know, that I had to do a solo for a record but also had to advance my career as a guitarist in the eyes of all guitarists.”

Make sure you stick around for the interlude section. It starts off funky, there’s a repeating palm muted guitar lick with ambient noise and then a bone crunching riff.

That’s right people, no guitar solo, but still plenty of guitar melodic licks and riffs played throughout.

That small fingerpicked intro for “Breathe A Sigh” is excellent. This is Def Leppard going more rhythm and blues with their unmistakable layered harmony vocals in the Chorus.

In a June 1996, Guitar issue, interviewer Rich Maloof mentioned how the hip hop groove is reminiscent of TLC’s “Diggin’ On You”.

How good is the arpeggio picked guitar riff and the vocal melody from the start in “Deliver Me”?

And that Chorus is heavy rock with the melodic layered vocals that I expect from Def Lep.

“Gift Of Flesh” has a slamming wah solo by Phil Collen done in one take.

“Blood Runs Cold” is another classic Def Lep track. The actual version and the “Rough Mix” version are both excellent.

How cool is the New Wave style of guitar on “Pearl Of Euphoria”?

And yes there had to be a song title with a word that ends in “ia”.

The June 1996 Guitar piece from Rich Maloof ends with these words;

As guitarists in a band that found success in a doomed era of rock, Collen and Campbell have adopted the Darwinian notion that survival is dependent on change. The new era is just as doomed, of course, but it speaks well for this pair that they knew to change and had the reserve of talent needed to grow.

As Collen concludes, “We’ve picked up a lot of experience on the way and we found a way to get it out of our system with an album we think is right. To us, that is the biggest thing. We weren’t even slightly worried, and we think anyone who likes us will like it. And hopefully we’ll get some new fans as well.”

Crank “Slang” and enjoy an excellent Def Leppard record.

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The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

Released in 2005, Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, Michael Todd and Josh Eppard are back for “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”, putting in a serious challenge to Meatloaf on the length of album titles.

I call it “Good Apollo IV”.

“Keeping The Blade”/”Always And Never”

It starts off with violins and an ominous piano riff. After about 90 seconds, a piece of music which is familiar appears.

Then an acoustic guitar riff starts for “Always And Never”, while Sanchez sings a haunting vocal melody. But these tracks are a set up for what is about to come.

“Welcome Home”

This is the big one, at 73.7 million streams on Spotify.

That intro. Listen to it.

Then the Kashmir like feel and riff comes in which ends up being the main riff. Listen to it.

That outro. With the Kashmir riff, the lead break and the whoa, oh chants. Listen to it.

And when the song ends, listen to it again.

“Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)”

It’s a major key rock song with a funky bass groove. Songs like these keep popping up on their albums and most reviewers call em EMO songs, which never made sense to me. They are just great rock songs.

“Crossing the Frame”

It continues the major key pop rock vibe of “Ten Speed”.

“Apollo I: The Writing Writer”

After some synths, the riff which kicks off the song is excellent, based on palm muted arpeggios and single notes, with a progressive bass groove.

And the major key Chorus, so catchy and poppy.

The song moves between these progressive verses and poppy choruses, never losing my interest.

“Once Upon Your Dead Body”

The song continues some of those major key pop vibes from earlier songs.

“Wake Up”

At 12.2 million streams on Spotify, the song is another star from the album.

It’s a ballad, but with no cliches. And seriously the hook is around the words “Kill anyone for you“.

Take that, pop singles with 15 writers.

“The Suffering

“The Suffering” is the next high point after “Welcome Home” and at 22 million Spotify streams, it’s also one of the big songs from the album.

The most catchiest, especially the vocal line, “listen well, will you marry me and are you well in the suffering” which sounds like the hook from Three Evils’s, “pull the trigger and the nightmare stops“.

And we like it.

“The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court”

Nothing really connected with me on this one.

“Mother May I”

It’s probably the best Police song written in the 2000’s, that Sting, Copeland and Summers didn’t write.

The final 4 songs are part of a suite called “The Willing Well”.

“The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End”

Not one of their best.

“The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”

At the 3.15 mark there is this section with whoa oh oh backing vocals that reminds me of Maiden. Musically it’s got all these other little Maiden sections.

“The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth”

The guitar and bass both play unique progressions and it works so good together, all held tight by the unorthodox drumming of Josh Eppard.

“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”

“The Final Cut” closes it nicely, more slower, doomy even. There’s a church organ in the background and the guitars sound like they came from the 70s.

And that wah drenched solo needs to be heard. After it goes into a Gilmour like clean tone solo, which again needs to be heard.

Vocally Sanchez is in the zone.

Press repeat on this one as well.

And now for the story, if you’re interested. Plot spoiler warning.

It takes place in the real world of “The Writer”, the person writing the story and it mixes up the reality of The Writer with the fictional story and I’m not a fan of stories that are written like this.

But in the process of the two stories being told, the sci-fi story progresses as the mental health of The Writer regresses. And I will do my best to summarise what it’s all about.

So from the story point of view, Claudio works out that the Keywork is powered by the energy of enslaved souls who want to be set free, and the only way to free them is by destroying Heaven’s Fence.

From The Writer’s point of view, he wants to do bad things to his cheating ex, Erica Court and his mental health deteriorates even further.

Back to the story, a rebel strike team has disabled a generator on a planet, which allows a rebel spaceship to land.

Sound familiar.

Claudio realises he’s “The Crowing” which is sort of like “The Chosen One” to bring peace to the galaxy.

But the bad guys in the story, Wilhelm (aka The Emperor) and his General (aka Darth Vader) have a trap waiting.

Back to The Writer, he has become like Caligula, and is now talking to his bike called “Ten Speed” (Caligula spoke to his horse and made the horse a Senator). Ten Speed tells the Writer not to murder his ex, but to exact his vengeance metaphorically by killing Ambellina, who represents Erica’s good side in the story, and is the love interest for Claudio, which will in turn cause Claudio to accept his destiny as the Crowing and destroy the Keywork.

Back to the story, Claudio and Ambellina arrive at a meeting place, the Willing Well, in which they can see the Writer’s argument with Ten Speed take place.

The Writer eventually uses the Willing Well to pass into his own story. The Writer explains to Claudio he must kill Ambellina for his own peace of mind, so that the story may have an ending. Claudio refuses and The Writer (who has God like powers in his own story) kills Ambellina, and walks off into the distance with his bicycle, Ten Speed, leaving Claudio with the message “all worlds from here must burn,” implying that it is the Crowing’s duty to destroy the Keywork.

And the next album “No World For Tomorrow” is set up.

Here is the box set the two albums came in.

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Influenced, Music, My Stories

Billboard Album Rock Tracks For Week Ending March 6, 1993

These posts are very time consuming but well worth it, as it gets me listening to songs I hadn’t heard yet, I know how is that possible in this day and age, but it is possible.

Number 1
Pride And Joy – Coverdale/Page

This song had no traction in Australia when it came to the charts but all the American mags I purchased had it advertised.

David Coverdale even made the front cover of a Guitar World issue with Jimmy Page.

And what’s the deal with its digital release. It’s on Spotify Australia, then its removed, then it’s there and now removed again. But YouTube has it.

And everyone said it “sounds like Led Zep” and I’m like, “yeah it will”, because Jimmy Page is a pretty large part of the Led Zep song writing team, so anything he writes will always sound like Led Zep.

Since Led Zep wasn’t doing anything, Coverdale/Page filled the void nicely.

Number 2
Two Princes – Spin Doctors

While “Pride And Joy” from Coverdale/Page got no traction in Australia, “Two Princes” went all the way to Number One here and it was everywhere. 278 plus million streams on Spotify and the song still has value and life in its ecosystem.

Number 3
Don’t Tear Me Up – Mick Jagger

I’d never heard this song until today.

It has that “Walk On The Wild Side” feel in the music.

More U2 like than anything else.

Number 4
Won’t Get Fooled Again – Van Halen

The VH marketing team always tried to keep VH in the Charts. Their live album didn’t really do anything in Australia and neither did their cover of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

Number 5
Man On The Moon – R.E.M

R.E.M was massive in Australia during the album “Automatic For The People”, to the point that I started to hate every single song on the album. Radio stations played em relentlessly and it didn’t matter to which station you switched.

But time heals all wounds and I’m okay with it.

Number 6
Black – Pearl Jam

My favourite Pearl Jam song, especially that whole 2 minute outro. And to this day, Pearl Jam are massive in Australia.

They would play 5 to 6 sold out shows in the same city during each tour. I had a work friend who followed them around Australia on one of their tours circa 2005/6.

Number 7
Good Lovin’s Hard To Find – Lynyrd Skynyrd

I never got back into the reformed Skynyrd, so today is my first day hearing “Good Lovin’s Hard To Find” and it swings with the horns and the rockabilly blues.

Number 8
Cats In The Cradle – Ugly Kid Joe

Massive in Australia, a cover of Cat Stevens.

The message of a kid, wanting to spend time with his father and the father being too busy to do so because of work or tiredness, resonated with a lot of people.

And as the song nears the end, the father now old and retired, calls up his son to spend time, but the son is too busy because family life and pressures of the workplace and creditors keeps em estranged.

Number 9
If I Ever Lose My Faith In You – Sting

Disturbed covered it recently, trying to cash in on their success of “The Sound Of Silence”.

Sting’s solo career was hit and miss for me. This song is more rooted to his rock ways than some of the other stuff he did and I like it.

Number 10
Sometimes Salvation – The Black Crowes

Ballad like and bluesy with a 70’s Rod Stewart like vocal line. Black Crowes delivered on their earlier albums.

Number 11
Driven By You – Brian May

It’s that usual rock-a-billy style riff in the verses but it wasn’t something that captured my attention for long.

Number 12
Turn It Up Or Turn It Off – Drivin’N’Cryin’

A perfect rock and roll title for 1993. It’s got that heartland style chord progressions that John Mellencamp made famous.

Number 13
Somebody Knockin’ – Izzy Stradlin And The Ju Ju Hounds

The laidback jam like hard rock of Izzy Stradlin and his Ju Ju Hounds was perfect for 1993 and so far removed from what was happening on the main commercial charts.

And it struck a chord with people.

Number 14
Down On Me – Jackyl

And then you have Jackyl who took a riff from The Who and a riff and vocal style from AC/DC. They got no traction in Australia, but the U.S magazines had em featured.

Number 15
Pull Me Under – Dream Theater

When I saw the title, I thought, blah, another band with titles about sexual innuendo and metaphors. But my cousin kept saying, listen to it, it’s got nothing to do with that.

And I still remember hearing the opening arpeggio notes of the intro riff at my cousin’s place. Then the drum tom pattern came in and I was already taping over Side A on a cassette of new music which I just taped a minute before. I was hooked immediately and within a few weeks I would have the original CD in my possession, becoming a lifelong fan in the process.

Eventually the names of Petrucci, Portnoy, Myung, Moore and Labrie would roll of the tongue like the surnames of my best mates.

Number 16
The One I Am – Dan Baird

For a song that was Number 16 on the Charts back in 1993, I would have expected a lot more streams than 25,790 on Spotify.

First time listener today.

I remember seeing the name, but I never invested time or funds to listen. And I like the blues rock vibe. So similar to what the Black Crowes were doing, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Drivin N Crying and Izzy Stradlin.

Number 17
Somebody To Shove – Soul Asylum

It was an MTV Awards performance of “Runaway Train” that made me a fan. When I did some research I saw that this overnight sensation was a decade in the making.

How good is the intro and the verses?

Number 18
Mister Please – Damn Yankees

This band didn’t do much on the charts in Australia. But I was still a buyer based on my fandom of Night Ranger. I didn’t mind Styx and Nugent, but I did like Night Ranger.

And Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent, worked well together. The two albums they did are excellent hard rock albums.

Number 19
Eileen – Keith Richards

So we had Mick Jagger at Number 3 and good ole Keith Richards at 19.

How can that be?

Both songs are good Rolling Stones songs.

Number 20
Heart Of An Angel – The Jeff Healy Band

Every time I listen to Jeff Healy (RIP), I think of the “Roadhouse” movie with Patrick Swayze. TJFB is the bar band in the movie and they play behind a Perspex screen so they don’t get destroyed when a fight breaks out.

Healy plays his heart out on the guitar and his soulful bluesy voice fits in perfect.

Crank this one.

Number 21
Waiting For The Sun – Jayhawks

First time, I’m hearing this song. I’ve seen the name “The Jayhawks” mentioned but was never interested at that point in time. And I like the Led Zepp influences and the solo section which sound like it came from “Stairway To Heaven”.

And speaking of solos, you get an outro solo as well.

Number 22
Courage – The Tragically Hip

I have been listening to The Tragically Hip recently as fellow bloggers Buried On Mars and Caught Me Gaming are doing tandem reviews of their discography. They are early in, just up to the “Road Apples” album, released in 1991.

This is the opening track of the next album due “Fully Completely”. And I’m a bit torn comparing it to the tracks from the previous albums I like.

Number 23
She Got Me – Masters Of Reality

First time listener today and it feels like a lot of songs I know. Just think of “Ballroom Blitz” merged with “Radar Love” and a bit of “Let There Be Rock”.

And goddamn it, I like it.

Number 24
Stand – Poison

Poison doing this kind of Country, Rhythm and Blues is perfect for their style. At times it feels like a U2 song and how good are the Gospel singers.

Number 25
In Bloom – Nirvana

This song spawned so many copycat bands in a few years’ time.

Number 26
Return To Serenity – Testament

This song is excellent. The clean tone intro, those little melodic leads and then it goes into a progressive 12/8 swing feel, with a bluesy lead.

This is the Testament I like.

Number 27
Bed Of Roses – Bon Jovi

It’s not my favourite Jovi song, nor is it in my top 100 Bon Jovi songs.

Number 28
Here Comes Trouble – Bad Company

Obviously by this time, I had thought that Bad Company was broken up. But they continued and I heard this album a few years ago.

Brian Howe (RIP) on vocals revitalised the band. This album was mainly written by Howe and guitarist Terry Thomas who also did work with Foreigner, Tommy Shaw and Tesla.

Number 29
Leave It Alone – Living Colour

Great groove rock with a bit of prog added for spice.

Number 30
Say Hello 2 Heaven – Temple Of The Dog

I heard this in the late 90’s as one of the drummers in the band at the time was a big Soundgarden and Pearl Jam fan. It’s like this song was lost in a time warp and resurfaced in the 90’s.

Number 31
Steam – Peter Gabriel

Gabriel tried to re-write “Sledgehammer”.

Number 32
Too Many Ways To Fall – Arc Angels

There is a 10 minute live version on Spotify, with some jamming in the middle section and I like it.

Number 33
Sweating Bullets – Megadeth

Musically, it’s like an Alice Cooper cut, more theatre like but done in a Megadeth way.

How good is that intro?

Number 34
Kiss That Frog – Peter Gabriel

I was way off the Gabriel Express by the 90’s and hearing this song for the first time today, tells me why.

Number 35
Sad But True – Metallica

“Hey, I’m the album that will never stop selling”.

Even in 2021, the self-titled album still moves more units than new releases.

Number 36
Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion) – Def Leppard

It’s typical Def Leppard, but by 1993 and after being exposed to this kind of Lep on “Hysteria” and a bit on “Pyromania” it was time for a reset.

And “Slang” in three years’ time was the perfect antidote.

Number 37
I’ll Hate You Better – Suicidal Tendencies

First time listener today, as I never really got into the whole Suicidal Tendencies thing. I know that Rob Trujillo came from em, but even after he joined Metallica, I still didn’t go back and explore his past.

But after hearing this track, I like it. I think some time will be found to listen to “The Art Of Rebellion”.

Number 38
Nearly Lost You – Screaming Trees

First time listener today. I had seen the albums advertised but I never handed cash over. It’s that whole alternative rock vibe, which is okay, but there’s nothing here to get me to commit any further.

Number 39
Stop The World – Extreme

“III Sides To Every Story” is the best Extreme album.

How good is that whole “Stop The World” section, when they repeat the title name over an A, A/G#, A/F# and E chord progression.

All of the vocal layering feels like Queen but it’s not.

Listen to the solo section and how they build it back up.

Number 40
Runnin’ On Faith – Eric Clapton

It’s got that feel from “Wonderful Tonight”. If you like that song, you will like this one.

One thing that is prominent listening to these songs is that the 80’s bands classed as hair metal or glam metal, didn’t get killed by grunge, but by blues rock artists who returned to the source of rock and roll for inspiration.

It also didn’t help all of the 80’s hard rock bands that the labels signed a million other artist that sounded all the same and then saturated the market with D level product.

But in Australia, the alternative and grunge takeover was more prominent, as suddenly the charts and radio stations dropped hard rock bands from their playlists, (except for a few classic acts) and replaced them by alternative acts.

“Peaches” is still played very heavily in Australia.

So many peaches to eat.

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2000 – Part 12

Wow, 12 posts on the Year 2000. And one more to come after this.

Sammy Hagar – Ten 13

I was just listening to his “Lockdown 2020” album released with “The Circle”. Cant say I’m a fan. It’s not the album I wanted to hear from him.

Then again, how can you not listen to a record featuring Sammy Hagar?

Check out “Let Sally Drive”. The riffs, the vocal melodies and that Acca Dacca vibe.

Then “Serious JuJu” kicks off with a Tool like vibe/feel in the riffs and the variety between the songs is intoxicating.

“All politicians speak in jive, they lie to keep the lie alive”

It’s not just the politicians these days. A lot of people are trying to get ahead by putting down others.

“The Message” is one of those slower type rockers. Think of “Right Now”. It still rocks as hard as it rolls.

“Little Bit More” has Sammy showing all those Alt Rockers how it’s really done.

“Protection” is “Humans Being”, with a bit more soul and boogie instead of the fast paced rocker that Van Halen delivered. And Sammy is singing about how we all need “protection from the system”.

Check it out.

U2 – All You Can’t Leave Behind

It was the perfect time for a comeback and they delivered.

“Beautiful Day” is classic U2. Musically, they had returned to the well of rock, after dabbling in electronica, techno and dance synths previously. It came out in Australia, just after the Olympics finished and it was a beautiful time.

I know a lot of us sang it as “it’s a beautiful day when you got bills to pay”, smiling and laughing while we sung it.

“Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” sounds like one of those soul blues rock tunes that hangs around for a while. It’s slower in tempo, almost ballad like, but it still rocks for me.

“Elevation” continues the knockouts and “Walk On” makes it four from four. “Kite” at track 5 and its melancholic mood captures me. Five from five.

And this album was a high peak for the band.

“All That You Can’t Leave Behind” went to number one in 32 countries and won seven Grammy Awards, including Best Rock Album.

Bono kept on saying in interviews how U2 was “re-applying for the job of ‘biggest band in the world'” with this album. And in my view they succeeded.

Oasis – Standing on the Shoulder of Giants

It still did good business in Australia, coming in at number 6 on the ARIA charts.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing for Noel Gallagher, who didn’t want to make the album as he was devoid of inspiration, and had no reason or desire to make music, but Liam kept pushing him to write as the band needed a new album to go on tour.

And for an album which Noel sees as uninspired, I think it’s pretty good.

“Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is” has this “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep” riff and a “Roadhouse Blues” vocal line, which connected with audiences. It’s one of my favourites from the album. “Go Let It Out” wouldn’t be out of place on earlier Oasis album.

“Gas Panic!” is an underrated gem, exotic and progressive in feel and atmospherics. At almost 7 minutes long, its anti-pop.

“Where Did It All Go Wrong?” could have crossed over onto the country rock charts. Hell, I will even call it Southern Rock. “I Can See A Liar” starts off with an AC/DC style riff before it moves into the psychedelic rock from The Beatles.

The album closes with the six minute and thirty seconds “Roll It Over”, another melancholic track which percolates slowly. Make sure you stick around for when the guitar solo starts and the gospel singers kick in. It’s worth it.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Machina/The Machines of God

All albums that came after “Siamese Dream” and “Mellon Collie” would be compared to those albums instead of standing on their own. Regardless, the album still did good business in Australia and most major music markets. But poor business when compared to the other albums.

“The Everlasting Gaze” is a bloody good song. Listen to that intro riff, which re-appears in the verses and don’t tell me it’s not metal.

“Stand Inside Your Love” is different, more Brit Pop like The Cure and “Heavy Metal Machine” has this massive blues rock groove, all fuzzed up and heavy as lead.

“Glass And The Ghost Children” feels like a Neil Young song, when he went electric and all fuzzed up and experimented. “This Time” is one of their signature ballads. “Blue Skies Bring Tears” percolates at a slow tempo.

Overall, “Machina” at that point in time was the second lowest-selling Pumpkins album. Their label made sure they told them the same. Maybe it was the reason why they broke up.

Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, who returned to the band for this album, said it was like watching your kid get straight A’s for ten years, and suddenly flunk out of school. Billy Corgan, said the album wasn’t heavy enough or alternative enough to compete with Korn and Limp Bizkit, plus it was a concept story which nobody understood.

But their viewpoints are based on sales, not art.

For “Machina”, Billy Corgan delivered a piece of musical theatre, that is still waiting for the massive double album reissue in the way it was always meant to be.

Queens Of The Stone Age – Rated R

As soon as the bass groove starts of for “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer”, I was hooked. Of course a certain Dave Grohl used that same pattern for the Foo Fighters.

“Better Living Through Chemistry” feels like a cut from “The Tea Party”. And I like it. Make sure you check out the riff in the middle of the song. “Tension Head” is another that has a riff that gets me to pick up the guitar. “I Think I Lost My Headache” is a lost cut from Black Sabbath.

Porcupine Tree – Voyage 34

Only four songs are on the album. Each one at least 10 minutes or more. Phase 1 kicks it off and Phase 4 ends it. You can guess the song titles of the other two songs.

And after the spoken intro which mentions participants eating sugar cubes laced with LSD, the Pink Floyd inspired single note echo riff kicks off. And the themes of experimenting on humans while they consume drugs continues. It’s not the album I wanted from em at this point in time, but I am a fan of the courage Steve Wilson had to experiment and push boundaries.

Catherine Wheel – Wishville

“Sparks Are Gonna Fly” has this wah wah tremolo riff to kick it off, before it explodes without any effects. Its blues rock and its foot stomping. “What We Want To Believe In” has a fuzz wah drenched intro lead to kick off the song, and I like.

“All Of That” is a favourite. So is “Idle Life”. They are both slower tempo, ballad like.

Spiritual Beggars – Ad Asra

The retro looking cover and band name graphic was good enough to get me interested. Like QOTSA and other acts that brought back the heavy rock from the 70’s, Spiritual Beggars did it Euro style.

And Michael Amott on guitars and founder of the band after he left Carcass, is a true guitar hero when it comes to riffs and leads.

If the name sounds familiar, he also founded Arch Enemy and if you read his interviews he talks very highly of his influences like Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Tipton, Adrian Smith, Tony Iommi, Frank Marino, Michael Schenker, Kerry King, Dave Mustaine, and Uli Jon Roth.

Opener “Left Brain Ambassadors” is a heavy blues rock tune.

“Wonderful World” has a verse which drips Sabbath and a Chorus that comes from Swedish pop and a solo section which is brilliant.

The outro solo section in “Sedated” needs to be heard, if you haven’t heard it already.

“Angel Of Betrayal” is your typical 70’s Hard Rock tunes, more like Blue Oyster Cult.

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

There are the fast riffs (“Save Your Soul” comes to mind as I type this), the melodic riffs (“Per Aspera Ad Astra”) and the slower heavier than lead riffs (“Until the Morning” comes to mind, which has an acoustic opening and then a big heavy riff that reminds me of Sabbath. The vocals are distorted and perfect.)

And for a closer, check out “Mantra” is it plods along acoustically with an eerie keyboard before it explodes like “Stairway To Heaven” explodes.

Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes – Live at the Greek

Chris Robinson said he “didn’t have fun doing it”, but regardless of what he thinks, the team up of Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes is brilliant. And Robinson actually does a wonderful job on the vocals. Even though he didn’t have fun doing it.

It’s a shame that contractual issues stopped a lot of The Black Crowes songs from being released officially, so what we get are a lot of Led Zep classics and some standard blues songs.

“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is still a favourite for me.

Check it out.

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