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

1983 – Episode 8 – A Mixed Bag

We keep marching forward and what seemed important once upon a time may be irrelevant tomorrow.

My physical music collection (LP, Cassettes, VHS videos, magazines and CD’s) seemed important once upon a time.

In one of the houses I lived in, I even had my physical music collection locked in a room, in the middle of the house, that was alarmed. That’s how important my physical music collection was. Actually I still have my physical in a place that’s pretty secure. But those physical copies just don’t hold the same value as they once did. Those feelings and opinions I had about holding a physical copy got totally ignored by the future. I still love music, but it’s all about access for me. Even back when I started buying music, I never woke up in the morning and said to myself I need to go out and buy some music. I always said, I want to hear, this song or that song.

In 2017, I can look back at 1983 and sort of loosely trace what the world would become with the internet. Back then, the magazines and the TV music channels started to push us to listen/watch to what was the “hit” of the day. A lot of music consumers forgot about the album and started to take in the popular. This led to many consumers missing out on what was important or useful.

Because if the aim was to write pop songs, the writer normally dumbs it down and leaves out the “message” of the song. It’s an exchange that needs to be made for attention. But if every music fan looks into their music catalogues, they will see the soundtrack of their life is not made up of the Chart Hits. As the saying goes, popularity doesn’t mean it’s the best, it just means it’s popular.

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is popular today and known as one of the best-selling Ozzy albums on par with “No More Tears”. The truth is “No More Tears” sold more quickly while “Blizzard Of Ozz” percolated and kept on breaking through to a new audience for two reasons. New fans of Ozzy went to check out his back catalogue and new guitar players went to check out the influential albums of Randy Rhoads.

Anyway, here is part 8 of my 1983 historical review and here is the Spotify playlist for it.

The previous parts can be found by clicking on the number. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The Revölution By Night – Blue Öyster Cult

There is a saying that the most common way to deal with the future is to try to predict it. The techies have morphed this saying to be, “The most common way to deal with the future is to invent a small part that’s big enough to make a difference”.  And I believe Blue Oyster Cult was trying to do just that with “The Revolution By Night”. To me, the album is a new wave/hard rock mash-up and it works for a few songs and not for others.  If only other bands got creative and experimental and innovative. But then again, being experimental doesn’t always lead to dollars and dollars is what the record labels are after.

Bruce Fairbairn is on hand to produce, before his massive “Slippery When Wet” success.

Take Me Away

It has a cool groove, a new wave rock riff that just works for me, cool vocal melodies and a pretty progressive solo middle section. But it has no attention from listeners. It’s co-written by Eric Bloom with Aldo Nova.

Strange shapes light up the night
Never seen them though I hope I might
Don’t ask if they are real
The men in black, their lips are sealed

It’s way before the “Men In Black” movies.

I turn my hopes up to the sky
I’d like to know before I die
Memories will slowly fade
I lift my eyes and say
Come on, take me away

Umm, I don’t think many of us did say to the sky for it to take us away.

Eyes On Fire

It kicks off like a piano jamming and then it goes to melodic rock AOR heaven. It’s got all the check boxes ticked for a bonafide hit, but it wasn’t to be. It’s written by Gregg Winter who is from Long Island and contributed several songs to one of Blooms side project. “Eyes of Fire” was written for that project and when it ended, it became a Blue Oyster Cult song.

But she don’t look at me
With eyes on fire
Glowing like coals in the night
Hungry eyes
Burning with love and desire

Un-requited love.

The album is always referred to “the album didn’t do go Gold in the U.S after the success of the previous two albums.” And sales equalled success once upon a time. No wonder people at the top are struggling to comprehend listens = success.

The Hurting – Tears For Fears

I got this album in 90’s and again via the second-hand record/book shop.

“Pale Shelter” stuck out straight away and “Memories Fade” (with that drum/bass groove) was a close second. The main singles like “Suffer The Children”, “Mad World” and “Change” didn’t really connect and still don’t.

Pale Shelter

It’s basically a rock track recorded as a new wave pop song.

And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I wanna be is
Completely in command

So true. There is always someone who wants to be in charge of the relationship.

You don’t give me love

God damn love. We are in it, we are out of it, we seek it, we find it and the cycle repeats until our time comes to check out of life.

Memories Fade

That bass/drum groove is played throughout the song and it’s progressively addictive.

There’s only need
I love your need
So much I’m losing me

Relationships are like this. One partner’s light sometimes gets lost in another partner’s light. And they do it willingly, without really knowing it’s happening. So when it all goes to hell, what’s left.

Engulfed by you
What can I do?
When history’s my cage
Look forward to a future in the past

We all look back into the past and see it in a different light today. Like it was better. Do we really want to go back to an era without the internet, only three TV stations and all the rest that goes with the era.

Mercyful Fate – Melissa

Isn’t it funny how Mercyful Fate ended up on the Filthy list in the U.S and lead vocalist King Diamond had no idea he or his band was on the list. Goes to show the Filthy 15 list had a zilcho effect on the artists involved.

Evil

The “Evil” intro reminds me of “The Four Horseman” intro and then other sections of the song remind me of Metallica. Did Lars have a demo copy of an EP that had this song?

I was born on the cemetery
Under the sign of the moon
Raised from my grave by the dead
I was made a mercenary
In the legions of Hell
Now I’m king of pain, I’m insane

It’s structured like a blues verse and it tells a story like a blues song. The words form a visual in the mind.

You know my only pleasure
Is to hear you cry
I’d love to hear you cry
I’d love to feel you die

I never took lines these seriously. It’s art. It’s no different to a graphic painting or a horror movie. You can look at it, appreciate it or be disgusted by it. Lyrics are the same.

Love the musical section from 2.48 to 3.32 along with the vocal melody. And that lead break fits the song to a tee. It includes Thin Lizzy style harmonies that segues into an UFO inspired blues rock lead.

Curse Of The Pharaohs

The “Curse Of The Pharaohs” intro reminds of the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro, which reminds me of “The Power And The Glory” intro from Saxon, which reminds me of two Ted Nugent songs called “Out Of Control” and “Stranglehold”, which reminds me of “Welcome To Hell” from Venom, which reminds me of “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue, which reminds me of “Young Girls” from Dokken, which reminds me of “Tell The World” from Ratt. I guess you can’t keep a good riff down.

All that’s needed is a person who didn’t create anything to own the rights of one of those songs and start suing all the others for plagiarism.

Away out in Egypt in the valley of kings
Where the mummified pharaohs
Pretend dead in their sleep

Again, the scene is set with story-telling lyrics.

Don’t touch, never ever steal
Unless you’re in for the kill
Or you’ll be hit by the curse of the pharaohs

The long-held belief that anyone who disturbed the tombs of the pharaohs ends up dead.

Into The Coven

The intro is baroque to a tee. Then the riff comes in as the drums build it up and once the whole band is in, the music and the groove of the song makes me want to snap my desk in half.

Howl like a wolf
And a witch will open the door
Follow me and meet our high priestess
Come, come into my coven
And become Lucifer’s child

You can see why Mercyful Fate was on the Filthy list. Even though the band only had a limited audience in the U.S at the time, the lyrics in this song went against the Bible belters beliefs. Suddenly, challenged by artists preaching for the fallen one, the Bible belters built up a coalition of Senators to fight this evil.

Undress until you’re naked
And put on this white coat
Take this white cross and go to the middle of the ring

Again, art is art. How many movies have people watched with a scene like the above and not cared much about it?

The harmony lead break was used by Metallica as inspiration for another lead break.

Melissa

“Melissa” has a great intro. You can hear where Metallica got the idea for an intro lead in “Fade To Black” over the Pink Floyd inspired riff. Influences and homages lead to new little creations, which will become future influences. And I’ll pre-empt that other artists had lead breaks over an arpeggio riff before Mercyful Fate, but those artists weren’t a large influence to early Metallica in the way Mercyful Fate was/is.

The section from about 2.40 to 3.20, you can say the section influenced “Aerials” from SOAD. It’s that good that it appears again from about the 5.30 mark to the end.

So Melissa was a witch, killed by a priest and her followers are seeking revenge. Again, storytelling at its simplest and finest.

Genesis – Genesis

Phil Collins solo success was the prequel/catalyst for the pop stardom to befall Genesis.

Mama

It’s a great song as it builds consistently over a synthed out electronic drum machine loop until it merges with a real drum groove in the “We Will Rock You” style vibe merged with Phil Collins solo hit “In The Air Tonight”. And Phil Collins is on fire vocally. I also believe that the “Mama” he refers to is not his real Mama, sort of like how Mama is a nickname for Sharon Osbourne, so when Ozzy sing’s “Mama I’m Coming Home”, he’s really saying, Sharon, I’m coming home.

That’s All

It’s got a feel good pop hook.

Truth is I love you
More than I wanted to
There’s no point in trying to pretend

I read on one of Seth Godin’s post that truth is real, it’s measurable and it happened. Truth is not in the eye of the beholder. So can “how much you love someone” ever be truth? To me it is not measurable, so it can’t be real truth, which means its truth in the eye of the beholder. It’s truth based on a belief. Sort of like how, if you believe that the music you are listening too is great, then it’s true. It’s a placebo and it works. I believe in nurture over nature. I believe that no one is born with gifts or is a prodigy. I believe that with the right practice, all of us can achieve greatness. And our beliefs give us joy. And it’s enough to make us do amazing things. But it’s not truth.

Men at Work – Cargo

Coming off their mega hit, “Down Under”, Men At Work delivered a social conscience album in “Cargo”.

Overkill

It’s the standout track, with a sleazy saxophone lead.

I can’t get to sleep
I think about the implications
Of diving in too deep
And possibly the complications
Especially at night
I worry over situations
I know will be all right
Perhaps it’s just imagination

Laying in bed and unable to sleep leads to anxiety because our brains are so good at turning smoke into fires.

Day after day it reappears
Night after night my heartbeat shows the fear
Ghosts appear and fade away

Over thinking things.

220 Volt – 220 Volt

220 Volt formed in 1982 and of course are from Sweden. CBS signed them on the strength of their own independent single release and by 1983 their self-titled debut hit the streets.  This album is a great hard rock listen musically. It’s melodic and hard/heavy enough to satisfy the metal heads. It wasn’t as popular as other releases of the era however it doesn’t mean it isn’t quality.

Lonely Nights

I’ve tried so many times
To reach you by the phone
But your line is always busy
And I can’t get through

The song starts off with a platonic love relationship and due to constantly being ignored it ends up hateful.

How true are the verse lines above?

In the days when households had just one phone and service was far from perfect, the busy dial tone was a common thing.

No Return

The main riff is familiar and I am sure I have heard something similar in bands that came afterwards. The feel of this song reminds me of the John Sykes “Spellbound” era of Tygers of Pang Tang.

You broke my heart
When I needed you most
But you just turned and walked away
I thought that we
Could work out together
But you didn’t even wanna try

Once it’s broken, it’s broken. Move on, even if it hurts like hell.

Running around
I’m so restless, don’t know what to do

You suddenly have time and don’t know what to do with it.

The End Of The World

I swear Malmsteen would have had to be influenced by this band. The main riff in this song is similar to a lot of the songs on Malmsteen’s first three solo albums.

Think of these days
That we are living
And try to find out
What’s right or wrong
Your highest dream
Is peace everywhere
But there’s no chance
For that at all

Even in 1983, artists questioned the world they lived in. The every elusive “peace” is what everyone wants. But how can that be when our brains are designed to be negative in order to survive.

‘Cause the world is full of evil
And there’s nothing we can do

Yes the world is made to believe evil exists. Religion thrives on it and for democracy to survive, it needs an enemy. In my time, war has been a constant. When I did history at school, we studied the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the two World Wars.

From the 80’s, off the top of my head, we’ve had the Iran-Iraq war, Falklands War, Lebanon War, invasion of Grenada, Invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Rwandan Civil War, Balkan Wars (Slovenia, Croatian and Bosnia), Algerian Civil War, Somali Civil War, Georgian Civil War, Chechen War, Afghanistan Civil War and Iraq War after 9/11. Add to the list, all of the uprisings, revolutions and even drug wars. Guess the world is full of evil.

Gypsy Queen

It’s a good listen about boy finding girl who then finds out the girl he found can look into her crystal ball and see the future.

Nightwinds

The time we had
Was the happiest part of my life
But you’re not gone
There will always be a light in my heart

He’s not ready to let go of the relationship.

Child Of The Night

Child of the night
You’re looking so lonely
Why did you ever leave home

A lot of people left school early and left home early, trying to find their place in life. Some did and others didn’t.

Stop and Look Back

You fight so hard
You wanna be a superstar
Dreamin’ daydreams of your own
You won’t be pleased
Until you reach the top
You won’t give up, never stop
Never stop

What is the top when it comes to being a superstar? Some would say Metallica reached the top with the “Black” album. I would say yes to that for recorded sales, however from a live point of view, they are getting bigger and bigger. You would think the 5 year “Death Magnetic” World tour would be the top, but their show and tour looks bigger.

You’re ready now
To meet the big success
You worked so hard for many years
Let’s hope that you
Can stand the pressure
So your dream will come true
Will come true

Once people taste success, they try to recreate it, forgetting that their success originally came from being creative and not re-creative.

Woman In White

Musically, it’s impressive. Melodically it’s impressive. Lyrically, it’s not impressive about a woman in white who steals the light and guarantees satisfaction.

Marc Jordan – A Hole in the Wall

While the whole album is too light for my liking, “A Hole In The Wall” is a good crossover melodic rock song, similar to the Jersey Jovi sound that would appear on the debut in a years time.

Robert Plant – The Principle Of Moments

Basically, the stand out tracks for me on this disc, are the ones that continue in the vein of what Plant did with Led Zep. The other more drum machine stuff and new age synth rock doesn’t work for me.

Other Arms

One of the better ones written by Plant and Robert Blunt.

Lay down your arms
Oh, now baby let me sleep at night

Is Robert Plant saying shut the fuck up and let me sleep?

Words you been using, hurting me so
Someday you’re gonna regret
Way friends are talking, I guess you’ll never know
This battle ain’t been won yet

Interpretation of words is a relationship killer. How many apologies are started with the words “I didn’t mean to say”?

Fussing and fighting is leaving me sad
That’s not the way it should be

We argue over the rubbish, the toilet seat, the cleanliness of the house, what people said, why people said what they said, how come people didn’t say what they should have said or why you didn’t stand up for them. And then kids come along and the same arguments exist with a few new ones.

Wreckless Love

It’s basically a Led Zep track with reference to Page’isms’ throughout the whole song, but for me, it’s the groove and feel of the verses. It’s progressive and exotic and cool. Basically, it’s “an unsafe” style of verse for a musical world moving into an MTV world. It’s also written by Page and Blunt.

Dance through the coloured razzamatazz
Spin alone desert affairs
Reckless love is creeping on you

As usual Plant is cryptic as ever in his lyrics. I got no idea what razzamatazz, desert affairs and a creeping reckless love have to do with each other, but somehow, Plant makes it work.

Horizontal Departure

It’s got the “Kashmir” riff in the verse. You know the riff I’m talking about. The one that moves up chromatically. Then in the verses, it feels like The Police and the solo break is like Dire Straits and “Sultans of Swing”.

And you said you’d never leave me
In fact you said you’d be my only one
I said you’d never grieve me baby
For things done when you are only having fun, fun.

It’s hard to keep a relationship going when you spend a lot of time away.

I don’t know, so you turned around and found another

And by the end of song, they had gone their separate ways.

Big Log

One of the better ones and even though it’s got a drum machine, the guitar lines and the bass playing set up a moody song that would make Chris Issak proud. Plant as usual delivers a stellar vocal.

My love is in league with the freeway
Its passion will ride as the cities fly by
And the taillights dissolve in the coming of night
And the questions, in thousands, take flight

A very un-clichéd look at life on the road.

1983 was a year that kicked off a lot of careers, however it also resurrected a lot of 70’s careers. And MTV was the airplane that accomplished it. While others complained about the gatekeepers, the unfairness, others who played the game got on board and reaped the rewards.

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Randy Jackson from Zebra

No, not the American Idol judge. Randy Jackson from the band Zebra. He does Robert Plant better than Robert Plant!

It was Dream Theater’s cover of their song “Take Your Fingers From My Hair” in 2009 that re-awakened my interest in Zebra. Isn’t it funny how a cover song brings back the original song and the band into the psyche. Something that Jon Bon Jovi doesn’t have the foresight for, as he thought tooth and nail to stop Shinedown covering “Wanted Dead or Alive”, believing that Shinedown’s cover song would take away income from the Bon Jovi original.

In an interview with The Great Southern Brainfart Randy Jackson was asked how did he feel about Dream Theater’s version and has Zebra seen a new horde of young fans because of it.

“Certainly. A lot of people who were unaware of Zebra were definitely made aware of us by Dream Theater doing that cover. We were really flattered that they did it. They stuck to the original version but added their own touch to it so I thought they did a great job with the song. I really liked it.”

Jackson founded Zebra in 1975. They had a very large following before their first record ever came out in 1983 on Atlantic Records. Like most bands in the later part of the Seventies and the early part of their Eighties, most of their fan base had been developed from their live shows.

In addition, the majority of the bands had been slugging it out for a decent time in the clubs before getting their recording contract. Look at Twisted Sister. How many artists today are prepared to put in 8 years of hard work before they actually get a chance to record. The answer is NONE. Artists today record straight away, release it and expect something to happen. They might do it that for a few years and when nothing happens 90% of those artists would walk away. The 10% that continue are the ones that become lifers.

The follow-up album “No Tellin Lies” in 1984 stalled in the U.S and by 1986, their 3.V album wasn’t even noticed and Atlantic dropped them.

Zebra should have toured Europe after the second record got released, instead they stayed in the U.S and as Randy has said in a few interviews, it was probably their worst decision ever made. Maybe they never should have released the second album. As with all things in the music business, once a band has an unexpected hit, they are put under serious pressure to release a follow-up.

Zebra fell into this category, pressured and rushed to get album number 2 out. The label also didn’t ball in the promotion game. The fan base of Zebra was still in New York and Louisiana and that is where the promotion efforts should have been focused on. A lot of Zebra’s hard core fans didn’t even know that they had album number 2 out. .

As history would have it, they put out their second album and went on tour with “REO Speedwagon” and “Sammy Hagar” during 1984. Air play for the new album was not a lot compared to the self-titled album, so after the US tours, the band had to go back in and record album number 3.

This was February 1985. As Randy Jackson was writing the third album they also looked for a producer. The band couldn’t come up with anybody. For five months the band was in limbo. It wasn’t until December 1985 that the band hit the studio for album number 3. That was a false start and the band went back into pre-production to work on the material. Finally in February 1986 they went into the studio and stayed there until August of the same year. By then it was all over.

If Atlantic was hanging out Twisted Sister to dry, what did that mean for a band like Zebra?

The album “3.V” just died. Radio ignored it. The week that it was released was the same week that Bruce Springsteen released his live box set. Three months earlier, Bon Jovi released “Slippery When Wet” and that album was picking up some serious momentum by November 1986, Europe’s “The Final Countdown” had broken world-wide as well. Radio put them in constant circulation.

The press didn’t want to give Zebra the time of day as “The Boss”, Bon Jovi and Europe became the darlings at that time. At this time as well, a lot of the radio program directors weren’t in charge of the play lists anymore and this really Zebra because back in 1986, bands really need airplay in order to get record sales. In addition, another program called MTV also ignored the band.

While most people would know Zebra by the songs “Tell Me What You Want” which Randy wrote it 1978 at 6:30 am after a gig at “Speaks” (New York) and “Who’s Behind the Door” that deal with the big questions about life there are other songs to sink your teeth into. There is the “Yes” inspired “The La-La Song”, “Take Your Fingers From My Hair”, “Lullaby”, “Time”, “Hard Living Without You”, “But No More” and “One More Chance”.

Then it was over. China Rain never got a fair shake. Randy Jackson finished the China Rain record in 1990 and Atlantic Records decided not to release it. Sound familiar. Gatekeepers controlling the fate of musicians. Dee Snider suffered the same fate with his “Desperado” project.

From 1992 to 1996, Randy was involved in the development of an interactive musical instrument called “The Key”. The instrument allowed anyone to play a guitar-like instrument (The Key) along with videos or CDs.

“Zebra IV” started recording in 1996. The drums were done in a week in 1996 and the rest of the album was done sporadically after that. In a MelodicRock.com interview, Randy said it was “a good 9 months of actual studio time but spread over a period of 7 years”.

The album didn’t see the light of day until 2003.

Throughout the Nineties, Randy built up his acoustic shows. Nobody wanted to book him in the beginning, even his trusted agents in New Orleans who had booked Zebra for 20 years rejected him. Now he is playing places like Japan and criss crossing the US and he hasn’t even put out a recording of the acoustic project. Yep, while labels and artist still believe it is about the album, here is Randy Jackson delivering a show that is spreading via word of mouth.

The same major labels who have been scared to search out and develop new music and bands. The rock that kids listen to today is the rock that we listened to growing up. Record execs are so afraid of losing their jobs that they wouldn’t think of trying something new. All they want is for their profits to sustain or get better, because in the corporate world that we live in today, everyone is replaceable.

In between Randy did “The Sign”, a melodic rock supergroup. He also handles the vocals for the wildly successful Symphonic Music shows of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Eagles performing to packed houses across the country (from 1996).

He is a lifer in the music business. Prepared to do what he needs to do to get. He is 38 years deep in his music career. He didn’t get the fame that other bands did, however it didn’t mean he didn’t have success.

http://www.famousinterview.ca/interviews/randy_jackson.htm
http://thegreatsouthernbrainfart.com/?p=7752

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Copyright Inc

There has been a lot of talk about Copyright and the Public Domain in the last month.

There was the whole Iron Maiden story about the band rewarding Copyright Infringers with Concerts. The website that ran with it issued an apology for falsely attributing Musicmetric quotes to the band, yet if you look at the markets that Iron Maiden has hit over and over again along with the “new markets”, all of those places are on the Musicmetric list of places that download Iron Maiden’s recorded music illegally. So even though the story proved to be false, there is some form of data out there that Iron Maiden is utilising to hit places where they have a low record sale amount but a high download rate.

Even their drummer, Nicko McBrian stated the same in the “Flight 666” documentary about their shows in India and Costa Rica. To paraphrase, he said something in the vein that Iron Maiden hasn’t sold any albums in Costa Rica however they sold out the sports stadium. So how did those fans get the music then.

Look at Metallica. They are also utilising some form of data to identify which new markets to hit or which markets deserve to be revisited. Their recent concerts in China proved this. The sale of Metallica music in China is low, however each concert was sold out. Peru is another new market that Metallica hit and will return too despite the fact that they have very low recorded sales.

I also just finished watching the Rush documentary, “Beyond The Lighted Stage” and in the documentary, Neal Peart is talking about their Vapour Trails tour of South America and how they didn’t know what to expect and in the end they played to their biggest ever concert attendance at Sao Paulo.

In other words, the Brazil tour took place in November 2002 . Napster launched in June 1999 and operated up to July 2001, Audiogalaxy launched in 1998 and operated up until 2002 as a file sharing system that indexed MP3 files. Limewire started operating in May, 2000 and Kazaa in March, 2001. So in three years of peer to peer mp3 sharing, Rush’s fan base grew extraordinarily.

At the beginning of each year, numerous works will have their Copyright expire and they will enter the Public Domain. There is an excellent post up at Techdirt titled, “The Grinch Who Stole The Public Domain” and it covers the works that should have entered the Public Domain in the U.S on the 1st January 2014, however for reasons that are still not clear to the public, these works have been taken away from the public due to a copyright extension that is in place up until 2019.

In the U.S, up until 1978, the maximum amount of time that a work in the US could be covered by copyright was 56 years. As the article states, a creator initially received a 28 year copyright term, which could be renewed for another 28 years.

So back in 1957, Ayn Rand knew that when she created “Atlas Shrugged” that it would be given back to the public to share and build on by January 1, 2014. Same goes for Ian Fleming and his James Bond book, “From Russia With Love.” The same goes for Dr. Seuss and his two books, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Cat in the Hat”. All of these authors went on to create further works, so it is safe to assume that that the 56 year Copyright monopoly the creator would have was more than enough incentive to create further works.

In relation to music, the following songs should have appeared in the Public Domain in the U.S.

“That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, and Norman Petty),
“Great Balls of Fire” (Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer),
“Wake Up, Little Susie” (Felice and Boudleaux Bryant)
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 in G minor (Opus 103; subtitled The Year 1905).
Elvis Presley’s: “All Shook Up” (Otis Blackwell and Elvis Presley) and “Jailhouse Rock” (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller).

The above musical works remain copyrighted until 2053 however based on their initial copyright terms, the works should be in the Public Domain.

The purpose of Copyright law was always to encourage the creation of works that would be put into the public domain to promote learning, knowledge and understanding. However, with large organisations controlling a lot of the Copyrights (and their power is growing each day), the law has been twisted into a system that is used to lock works up.

Then you have someone like Jimmy Page, who is really enjoying his Copyright monopoly by continuing to re-issue the same Led Zeppelin works he created between 1968 and 1980. Jimmy Page is a huge influence on my guitar playing. His body of work with Led Zeppelin, along with Coverdale/Page album were all brilliant. The new music he created with Robert Plant, “Walking In Clarksdale” was also a decent effort.

However, “The Firm” and his solo album, “Outrider” didn’t rattle any bones in me. Compared to Robert Plant who constantly creates new works, Jimmy Page has more or less sat back and monetised his copyright monopoly. Since 1993, Jimmy Page has overseen more than twenty three re-issues, re-mastered editions, live releases, greatest hits releases and more from the Led Zeppelin body of work.

While Jimmy Page is entitled to do what he does, Copyright’s intention was to give the artist incentive to create more works, not an incentive to rely on past works.

So while Jimmy Page is doing his thing on one side of the Copyright fence, on the other side there is the shameless releasing of songs by the big labels, purely to extend the copyright term of them.

In January, 2013, Sony released the “Bob Dylan Copyright Collection Volume” so that it could take advantage of an EU law to extend the copyright term on these recordings from 50 to 70 years. So instead of these works expiring in 2013 and entering the Public Domain, they got locked up for another 20 years. Nice one.

When Bob Dylan created these songs, Copyright was in place to offer him an incentive to create new works which he did. However, he also sold or licensed his copyrights to Sony and that is where the abuse kicks in.

Just recently (like December 2013 recent) Apple Records released 59 tracks from The Beatles for downloading on iTunes. These songs include outtakes, demos and live BBC radio performances. A Beatles fan and Blogger by the name of Roger Stormo said the following;

“The only reason why they are doing this is to retain the copyright of this material.”

You see, when “The Beatles” recorded the tracks back in 1963, they made a deal with the public. In return for a government-backed monopoly lasting 50 years, they would allow their music to enter the public domain at the end of that time. Like Bob Dylan, Copyrights got sold or licensed to the record labels. The recording industry then employed politicians as lobbyists and now European fans of “The Beatles” must wait another 20 years before they are able to enjoy and use the tracks as part of the public domain.

The biggest abuse here is that the tracks weren’t even available beforehand (in a legal way). They were safely locked away. Therefore it is safe to assume that the tracks weren’t earning any money for Apple Records. So releasing the tracks into the public domain would have resulted in no loss of revenue whatsoever to the label. However, for reasons only known to the label, they had an opportunity to extend the copyright of the songs for another 20 years and they did.

What about Saul Zaentz, the Fantasy Records label owner who passed away recently. For those that don’t know, he is famous for suing Creedence Clearwater Revival front man John Fogerty for plagiarising John Fogerty.

Yep, Zaentz was that upset that Fogerty struggled for years to free himself from the one sided contract he signed with Fantasy, following the breakup of CCR, that when it finally happened, Zaentz called his lawyers to arms.

Zaentz and Fantasy alleged that Fogerty’s 1985 hit “The Old Man Down the Road” was essentially the same as “Run Through The Jungle” from CCR’s “Cosmos Factory” album released in 1970. Since Fogerty had traded his rights to CCR’s songs in 1980 to cancel his remaining contractual obligations, Fantasy and Zaentz now owned the rights to “Run Through the Jungle”. Under Fogerty’s old CCR contract, Fogerty owed Fantasy eight more records. In the end, he refused to work for the label. The impasse was resolved only when Asylum Records’ David Geffen bought Fogerty’s contract for $1,000,000 on top of the rights that Fogerty sold away.

So when the “Centerfield” album topped the charts in 1985, Zaentz sued. How is that for Copyright abuse?

During the tour, the fans complained that he didn’t play any CCR songs, however Fogerty said that playing the CCR songs meant that he would have to pay performance royalties to copyright holder Saul Zaentz, and he didn’t want to do that. Copyright is used as an incentive to not play songs.

During the tour, Fogerty also spent time in court and in the end Fogerty played the two songs on guitar right on the witness stand and won the case.

On the theme of suing, Evanescence singer Amy Lee is also suing her ex-label Wind Up Records for more than $1 million over unpaid royalties. Of course there is more to the suit than just the unpaid royalties, however one the theme is the same. The abuse of copyright by large organisations.

So next time you read about the need for stronger copyright protection, ask yourself the question; For whom is that stronger copyright protection needed for. Remember that if I write a song today, it is copyrighted for the rest of my life plus 70 years. If I sell the copyright to an organisation for a fee, then they own this copyright until then.

I will leave you with the parting words of James Hetfield as he spits them out in Damage Inc..

Living on your knees, conformity
or dying on your feet for honesty

Which side are you on?

Techdirt – Public Domain – http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131231/23434825735/grinch-who-stole-public-domain.shtml#comments

Led Zeppelin Reissues Will Continue in 2015 – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/led-zeppelin-reissues-2/

Techdirt – Beatles – http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131216/09582225579/57-beatles-bootleg-tracked-released-officially-all-wrong-reasons.shtml?pid=110#c110

John Fogerty Responds to Death of Creedence Label Owner Saul Zaentz With Stinging Video – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/saul-zaentz-dead-john-fogerty-reaction/

Evanescence Singer Amy Lee Reportedly Suing Record Label – http://loudwire.com/evanescence-amy-lee-reportedly-suing-record-label/

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Alternate Reality, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Imagine A World With Copyright Terms Reduced To 40 Years..

Should songs still be under Copyright forty years after they have been released?

In Australia (as well as a lot of other countries) a copyright for a sound recording or a film lasts for the life of the creator + 70 years.

In my opinion this is ridiculous.

Is this what Copyright has become? A pension fund for the creator and their family members. Also with large Corporations technically owning a lot of the copyrights of creators, it is safe to say that Copyright has become a weapon to stifle creativity.

It is common for people to see that the purpose of Copyright as a means to compensate the creator of the content. Hell, that is what Wikipedia states as well, along with the large labels and movie studios . In fact, Copyright was never designed solely for this purpose.

In Australia it was stated that the purpose of Copyright law was;
…to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. On the other hand, as copyright in the nature of a monopoly, the law should ensure, as far as possible, that the rights conferred are not abused and that study, research and education are not unduly hampered.”

In the U.S, the Constitution’s clause on Copyright and patents states:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

In today’s terms, both countries are saying that the purpose is to reward the creator and to ensure that maximum creativity is happening.

John Lennon didn’t sing imagine a world with reduced copyright terms however he should have.

Let’s just say that the copyright of a song is 40 years from when it was first released. To make the law even simpler, let’s just say that the 40 years starts from when the song is first released. So if the song is remastered 10 years later or released as a live version, it doesn’t matter. The 40 years starts from when the song is released.

That would mean that all songs from 1972 and before would have been in the public domain at the start of 2013.

That would mean albums from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Cream, Rolling Stones, Yes, Pink Floyd and many others would be in the Public Domain.

Would that affect those bands in any way?

Would it affect the people who wrote the songs?

Lets look at Led Zeppelin. If copyright is 40 years from when the song was first released that would mean that Led Zeppelin I to Led Zeppelin IV would be copyright free. That means all of those songs are available to use.

Imagine all the music that would be created by building on the material. Image all the music that would be created by remixing, sampling and re-using the songs. All of those songs would available for people to re-record without any restrictions. It will not diminish the original songs in any way. It would give them a second life and a new audience.

Why should any creator in 2013 be stifled by over-reaching copyright laws when it comes to creating art?

The acts from the Sixties and Seventies, brazenly borrowed and built upon songs that already existed. Keith Richards even said that you can’t copyright the blues. All of those bands infringed heavily on other people’s copyright. However back then the Copyright monopolies didn’t exist, so it was okay.

Surely the 40 year monopoly that artists from the Sixties and Seventies have on the music they created is sufficient compensation for their creations. However copyright is still seen as a major profit line in the business model of artists. Since the Government and the large players have focused almost exclusively on monetizing via copyright, they will argue until they are black and blue any attempt to change copyright as they see change as an attack on their incomes.

Seriously, who do you think will be holding the copyright to the Led Zeppelin songs, 10 years after Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have passed. Trust me, it will not be the family members. It will be the corporations and the record labels. They will hold the monopoly on these songs. You can see it happening now with Disney and how they are stopping Mickey Mouse from entering the public domain by lobbying for longer copyright terms.

So what new songs would these corporations be creating by holding a monopoly on the copyright. The answer is simple. NOTHING.

Remember that Copyright was also designed so people are inspired to create more. So what has Jimmy Page created in the last 15 years. The answer is nothing. There is nothing wrong with that either, because he can rely on his copyright monopoly and issue box sets every 2 to 3 years. Since 1990, Jimmy Page has issued 13 box sets of Led Zeppelin’s seventies output. In 23 years, Jimmy Page has released the same music, over and over again 13 times.

Remember, copyright is to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works. So what happened to the further creative works.

I love Jimmy Page and he is a huge influence on me. However, apart from the excellent Coverdale/Page project and his reunion with Robert Plant, his creative output has been poor since the start of the Nineties. Even in the Eighties, Jimmy Page’s output pales in comparison to Robert Plant’s recorded output and work ethic.

By the way did you see that BitTorrent traffic is down in the U.S? How can that be, especially when the labels and the movie studios are still screaming piracy and copyright infringement.

It’s funny what some innovation can do. That is how you compete today. You innovate, not stagnate. NetFlix and YouTube account for 50% of all net traffic.

However in Europe and other parts of the world, access to the latest films and TV shows is not as instant so unauthorised BitTorrent users continue to grow there.

The labels and their back-handed politicians will argue that their six strike policy is the reason why BitTorrent traffic is down. I would argue back that all that has done is increase the use of Dark Nets.

This is what the article said on that;
“The use of “dark nets” such as Tor and encrypted digital lockers is growing in popularity. These can be harder to track.”

So get ready for the next round of b.s from the labels and their lobby groups. We need Google to do more to stop copyright infringement, we need dark nets to be busted to save our children, we need cloud services stopped because they encourage racketeering and copyright infringement on a grand scale.

They will complain about everything, except innovate. Spotify wasn’t created by the music industry. Pandora wasn’t created by the music industry. iTunes wasn’t created by the music industry. The iPod wasn’t created by the music industry. NetFlix wasn’t created by the movie industry. Napster wasn’t created by the music industry. YouTube wasn’t created by the music business.

But the entertainment industries spin it like it was them that created these legal alternatives. The truth is they where dragged kicking and screaming into these new technologies.

BitTorrent traffic down: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24911187

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Stargazer – Kingdom Come – Classic Song waiting to be discovered

It’s the keyboard synth intro.  It grabs you from the outset and by the time the whole band kicks in with the guitar line playing the same keyboard intro, you are hooked.

Lenny Wolf was the Eighties Robert Plant.  He did Robert Plant better than Robert Plant.  Regardless of how critics and fans saw Kingdom Come, one thing is undeniable, they wrote songs that are catchy as hell.

Stargazer is not a charting song.  It was never designed to be.  It is a classic rock song.  It is written by singer Lenny Wolf, guitarists Danny Stag / Rick Steier and bassist Johnny B Frank.   The song was produced by Keith Olsen fresh from Whitesnake’s smash 1987 album and Ozzy’s No Rest For The Wicked.  It has an epic feel to it, however it is only 5 minutes long.

Sitting in the dark
Staring at the sky
Within all of heavens eyes
Wondering where and why
Who made all of this come alive
Who knows what will come in time

The ultimate question, the why are we are, and what is our purpose in life.

Ooh, just to know what’s the reason for making us
Is what I would like to know
Ooh, just to know where we go when the earth is cold
We may never know

If only we had a crystal ball that could tell us the answers.  If only we had a crystal ball to look into the future.

All the mystery dreams and fantasy
We touched on our way to see

Living day by day trying to getaway
Dream on to another space

We always wanted to be somewhere else.  We are like the small town boy or girl from Don’t Stop Believing.  Trying to catch the last train out of our current lives and into a better life.  Of course life is nothing like that.

Ooh, just to know that you are not the only one
Who is searching on
Ooh, just to know that beyond there is something more
For the rich and poor

Live, work, die.  Three words that sound familiar to everybody.  When said together like that, it is the easiest summation of every single persons’ life.  We just want to know if there is some afterlife, something after death that makes this life worth it.

Check it out.. YouTube

Within three months of the In Your Face album coming out, the band had called it a day.  What an implosion?  At least they left us with two classic albums, with the classic line up.

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Music

UK Stars want anti piracy action

Just yesterday, Torrentfreak ran a post which had the following (at the bottom of the post) letter;

Isn’t it funny how Robert Plant signed it.  Yes the same Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin who ripped off other artists and didn’t credit them in during Led Zeppelin’s heydey.  Just check out the brilliant documentary “Everything is A Remix”.  vimeo.com/14912890

And now Robert Plant wants a strong domestic copyright framework, so that UK creative industries can earn a fair return on their huge investments creating original content.  Its a bit of a double standard.

But the thing i struggle to understand here, is how stronger copyrights will benefit these people.  How will censorship of the internet and litigation benefit these people.

Will it stop piracy?  Will it even reduce piracy?  I don’t think so.

Dear Prime Minister,

As the world’s focus turns to the UK this summer, there is an opportunity to stimulate growth in sectors where the UK has a competitive edge. Our creative industries represent one such sector, which creates jobs at twice the speed of the rest of the economy.

Britain’s share of the global music market is higher than ever with UK artists, led by Adele, breaking through to global stardom. As a digitally advanced nation whose language is spoken around the world, the UK is well positioned to increase its exports in the digital age. Competition in the creative sector is in talent and innovation, not labour costs or raw materials.

We can realise this potential only if we have a strong domestic copyright framework, so that UK creative industries can earn a fair return on their huge investments creating original content. Illegal activity online must be pushed to the margins. This will benefit consumers, giving confidence they are buying safely online from legal websites.

The simplest way to ensure this would be to implement swiftly the long overdue measures in the Digital Economy Act 2010; and to ensure broadband providers, search engines and online advertisers play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites.

We are proud of our cultural heritage and believe that we and our sector can play a much bigger role in supporting UK growth. To continue to create world beating creative content, we need a little bit of help from our friends.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Cowell
Roger Daltrey CBE
Professor Green
Sir Elton John CBE
The Lord Lloyd Webber
Dr Brian May CBE
Robert Plant
Roger Taylor
Tinie Tempah
Pete Townshend

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