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

Prog Music And Disconnected From Fates Warning

In the Year 2000, the mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands and progressive music was really at opposite ends of the spectrum.

On one side, you had the Dream Theater style of progressive music. This involved a lot of time changes, with the focus on high-octane technical musical workouts and each song exhibited a smorgasbord of riffs.

In this period, Dream Theater was also rebuilding their brand into something that matters. After breaking through with “Images and Words” in the early 90’s, they kept on moving into a more “record label” pressured sound, which alienated their fan base and even the band members themselves. Mike Portnoy expressed his disgust that John Petrucci was sent by the label to work with song doctor Desmond Child on the song “You Not Me”.

But the creative arts history is littered by artists tricked into taking the wrong path by label executives who chased dollars instead of career longevity. Bigger is merely bigger. “If it’s better”, is a debate for another day.

In the end, the best way to re-build their brand was to stand for something, instead of standing for everything. That meant that Dream Theater stood up for progressive music instead of standing up for progressive music that could have commercial appeal with the hope that it crosses over into the mainstream. And they reset their career with “Scenes From A Memory”.

On the other side of the progressive music spectrum, you had the Tool style of progressive music. This involved time changes, but the focus was on groove and atmospherics, with each song building on a unique riff or bass line or drum pattern. Tool always stood by their brand and never wavered from it.

In between you had Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics and on the extreme end you had Meshuggah with their focus on groovy, technical polyrhythms.

The missing link is Fates Warning.

Fates Warning released an album called “Disconnected” in 2000. With “Disconnected”, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender. It’s a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish.

With so much access these days, it’s only natural that albums are overlooked, especially albums that didn’t really set the commercial charts on fire. Hell, the press behind the album was even a whisper.

But the album sticks with me, in the same way that each lick and melody from “Images and Words” by Dream Theater sticks. In other words, both of those albums made progressive music sound simple on the ear. Other people might have the view that progressive music is about doing something different (like not following the verse – chorus structure) and pushing musical boundaries (like time signatures, exotic scales and different musical styles). I would add that making something technical sound simple to the ear should also be part of the definition.

Metallica did it with each album up to “…And Justice For All”. They got technical with each release, but it still sounded simple to the ear. Rush are the original kings of pushing the technicality with each release, until they reset their career with “Signals”. Dream Theater nailed it with “Images And Words”. Fates Warning nailed it with “Disconnected”. Tool nailed it with “Lateralus”.

Who is going to nail it next?

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Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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