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

Coming Home

The song “Home” from Daughtry came on via Spotify’s Family Mix. Actually, it’s a pretty cool concept/algorithm which organizes a playlist based on tracks the family members listen to.

“Home” is courtesy of my wife. I introduced her to Daughtry’s music and then she became a bigger fan than I. The more he moved away from the rock roots, the more I moved away.

And I thought Daughtry changed his sound because he wrote with too many different writers and producers, but that wasn’t it, because Daughtry had always written with different writers. But he had an ability to still make the songs sound dirty, raw and full of attitude and emotion, with a touch of modern rock and pop.

But “Baptized” released in 2013 sounded too sterile, too polished. It was lacking the grit of earlier albums. And when you have a song called “Long Live Rock and Roll” on the album, it needs to rock. But it didn’t. It was electro pop at best. A greatest hits package came afterwards and then in 2018, “Cage To Rattle” came out.

And again, I wasn’t sure what the intention was. While an improvement over “Baptized” it was still missing the special Daughtry ability to take whatever pop trend was in and make it rock hard.

And this kind of relationship cycle continues. We fall in and out with the artists we like, hoping that eventually they will return home to that rock and roll store and order up another serve.

Or the way Nikki Sixx wrote on Motley Crue’s “New Tattoo” album.

“I promise you this. One day you’ll walk into the tattoo shop of life and say “I’m back”. I’m ready for my new tattoo and her name is rock and roll. Now it’s time to make it permanent.

You will have been thru all the temporary 15 minutes of flash, you’ll have come to realize that you’ve been served fast food music and disposable heroes for so long. You’ve somehow forgotten what is real and what is not. And you know what the man behind the counter will say;

“We knew you’d be back.”

Amen.

I’m going home, back to the place where I belong.

And that home for me is rock and roll.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Piracy

“Why Do You Do What You Do?” And Guess What! “Rock Is Not Dead”

Gene Simmons from KISS declared that “Rock is finally dead” which stirred up a lot of debate in the music industry. Dee Snider was one of the first to post a rebuttal. Then came Dave Grohl’s rebuttal and recently it was a diplomatic Slash. Basically everything that he said I more or less agree with.

“The music business itself is not catering to rock ‘n’ roll at all. And if you’re aspiring to be a guitarist or a drummer or a singer in a rock band and trying to make your way up the ladder, the obstacles are much bigger than they were when I first started.”

The music business does cater to rock’n’roll however it is the recording business that doesn’t cater that much to it. The majority of the labels monies are focused on the pop stars singing Max Martin songs.

“The rock ‘n’ roll audience is rabid. It’s huge and just as alive and kicking as it ever was.”

That’s god damn right. The audience for rock music is there. Also with so much rock music coming out right now, that is the evidence right there to prove that rock is very much alive and kicking.

And that is a biggy.

With so much rock music being released every day, how is the rabid rock audience going to find it and hear it. Apply simple supply and demand economics to the equation. When the record labels controlled the distribution, the music that was released and when it was release, the actual supply to the fans was limited even though demand was high. Now with all of those barriers of entry torn down, the supply of new music is constant. And even though demand is still high, our time is limited.

Another big difference is that the way we consume music. It is still a very fragmented marketplace. Think about it for a second.

There are the usual CD sales. Amazon is still a big player in this regard along with the record labels and the unique limited deluxe editions they offer. In addition the brick and mortar stores still exist that cater in sales. Then there is the sales of MP3’s. Apple is the big player here, while Amazon offers AutoRip features on CD’s sold.

Then there is streaming. You have Spotify type streaming and the radio style streaming of Pandora. Terrestrial Radio is still there as well. So as an artist it is a confusing time. Hell, even the cashed up labels are confused as to what needs to be done as they still rely on the nuclear bomb style of marketing to push new acts or new music from established artists.

“If you’re really passionate about the kind of music you wanna do and you’re not looking at it from a dollars and cents point of view, but you just want to create new music and somehow go out there and play live and get it out there, that passion has to be honed in and it has to be real.”

So what is your view of success?

Do you have a short-term view on measuring success or a long-term view? Is success your main motivator for creating music because if it is, there are risks in a short-term view of measuring success and there are risks in having success as your main motivator?

It comes down to the “Golden Circle” idea from Simon Sinek. “How” is in the centre, surrounded by the “Why” which is then surrounded by a larger circle called the “What”.

Apply those principles to a musician. A musician knows that what they do is to write and perform music. A musician knows how to write and perform music but do they know WHY they do it. If a musician’s “WHY” is solely to make money then they need to be reminded that their “WHY” is a “RESULT” of “WHAT” they do.

As Sinek explained, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And if you don’t’ know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get someone to buy into it, and be loyal, or want to be a part of what it is that you do.

A perfect example of a simply WHY can be found in Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. The WHY is to get dressed in your BLS Chapter colours, get together at the show and drink a lot of god damn beers. And guess what. People responded to that WHY in the thousands. They want to let their hair or goatees or beards down and down a few brewskis.

Protest The Hero focused on the WHY on their fan funding campaign for the “Volition” album. They told their fan base that their time with record labels has resulted in the labels telling the band that they have no fan base and that they are not a viable option for a label to support. The fans wanted to show that is not the case. And the best way was for the fans to be a part of what Protest The Hero wanted to do, which was to record an album, promote it and tour on the back of it. The fans didn’t care how they did it because we bought into the WHY they were doing it.

Claude Sanchez’s WHY for Coheed and Cambria is to tell the Amory Wars story and guess what, thousands upon thousands of people bought into it. Comics, Albums, Novels, T-Shirts, Deluxe Packages, Live Shows and Vinyl Re-Issues. You name it, we have supported it.

So ask yourself, why do you want to be  a musician?

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Things That Bug Me With Rock And Metal

ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME

Dave Mustaine should have been inducted with Metallica. A real RNR Hall Of Fame Assessor would look into the band’s career and see that all the evidence is there for Dave Mustaine to be inducted. The style of technical thrash that Mustaine brought to Metallica would end up influencing their first four albums.

The induction criteria does state that the committee looks at the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll. So, I take it that Dave Mustaine’s contribution to Metallica and to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll wasn’t influential enough.

BUT for some reason Jason Newsted’s and Rob Trujilio’s contribution to the development and perputation of rock and roll in Metallica was enought.

Same goes for Vinnie Vincent, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick. The Eighties for Kiss wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for the three individuals mentioned. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer also played very important roles within Kiss.

BANDS THAT FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THAT SUCCESS IS BASED ON MUSIC

A lot of the metal and rock bands have better marketing campaigns than actual albums. You need a great song first. The marketing comes after.

Dream Theater had a pretty expansive marketing campaign leading up to the album release, however they didn’t have the quality to support it. Good songs don’t equate to great songs and we only have time for great.

Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch had way less marketing and their albums are still on people’s tongues. If you still use sales as a barometer of success, then these bands are still moving units.

NICHES

Metal and hard rock are niches. Accept it and focus on it. It will be a lucrative business for you if you do. It will not bring back the glory days of the Seventies and Eighties, however it will give you a career.

Sometimes a metal band can cross-over into hard rock, or even the pop market. Or a hard rock band could cross over into metal or pop.

Look at Volbeat. They are a metal band, however with the style of music they play the have a certain cross over element.

Shinedown crossed over into the pop market back in 2008, with the “The Sound of Madness” album, however with “Amaryllis” they remained in the hard rock market with a small cross over into the metal market. They still had great success, even though the “sales” didn’t match the previous. But who cares about sales these days.

Killswitch Engage cross-over into a few genres, like metal, metalcore, thrash, hard core, melodic death metal and in some cases they cross over into technical djent style metal.

Dream Theater can cross-over into a few genres and it is their cross over between progressive music and hard rock that reaped the most benefits with “Images and Words” and “Scenes From A Memory” being stand outs.

VIRALITY

A song takes off because fans start to spread the word. They share links to it, they talk about it, they blog about it. A marketing campaign can never achieve this. Only great music can.

QUEENSRYCHE

When are the people involved (apart from Chris DeGarmo) going to realise that Queensryhce is no more. Move on, forge a new career and a new identity. I’m tired of hearing how great the new singer is, what a team we now have and all of that.

The Todd LaTorre band should do something similar to what the Ronnie James Dio version of Black Sabbath did before his death. Take a new name from one of their songs. As for Geoff Tate, he should go to Vegas and do a cabaret residency. His metal/rock days are over. And seriously, when you carry on like a child when people use their smart phones at a gig, you don’t belong.

VINYL, CD’s, DIGITAL DOWNLOADS

Streaming has won. The rest of us that actually purchase any music in physical form do it as a hobby. We just don’t think of it as a hobby.

I listen to most of my music on Spotify or YouTube or via the mp3’s on my iPhone, however I still purchase CD’s of bands that I like. BUT I haven’t even opened the shrink wrapping as yet. I have no need to. Buying CD’s is like collecting toys and keeping the toys in their boxes unopened. Maybe the CD’s will be worth something one day or maybe they will be beer coasters. Who knows.

MONEY IN MUSIC

There is still a lot of money in the business. Streaming pays the labels well. It’s just doesn’t filter down to the artists. Revenues from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube surpassed the $1bn mark.

ENTERTAINMENT LOBBY GROUPS ASKING GOOGLE TO DO MORE TO PROTECT THEIR BUSINESS MODELS

Seriously after almost 15 years post Napster we are still hearing about this. The latest is The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). It is the usual b.s. about how Google “could do so much more” or that Google have “not been effective” in preventing illegal music downloading.

HELLO, Google is a search engine.

It is not a protector of business models.

Innovate or die.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/10704766/Music-industry-claims-Google-is-failing-to-stamp-out-piracy.html

RECORD STORE DAY

Do artists really expect their hard core fans to travel decent distances to go to a Record Store Day Event and then not find all 4 of the (let’s just use Machine Head as an example since I am a fan) new Machine Head singles, “Killers and Kings”. It’s 2014. If we can’t buy it online or if we can’t find it to buy online, then artists are leaving money on the table.

Collectors want to buy, so make it easy for us to buy. Record Store Day is not easy for everyone.

TV SHOWS THAT STILL PLAY ON THE OLD BUSINESS MODELS

My kids love “Arrow” however they hate the fact that they have to wait each week. Will any of the actual TV shows or Cable Networks follow the “House Of Cards” Netflix example and let people overdose on all of the episodes over a weekend.

Having shows appear weekly for 8 episodes, then breaking for what seems like forever and then re-starting again, then breaking again, then finishing it all off, is old school.

Embrace the new.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, Piracy, Stupidity

James Hetfield – Semi Obscure Metallica Songs – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

Metallica have done a lot of work to try and restore their battered image since the Metallica vs. Napster debacle circa 1999/2000. While people see this court case as Metallica taking up arms against their fans and innovation, I saw it as a case where Metallica tried unsuccessfully to get back control as to how their music is distributed and consumed. In the end, the whole debacle was handled poorly by Lars Ulrich.

So in 2003, they started Metallicavault.com, an online site, controlled by the band. It could be accessed by purchasing the terrible St Anger CD. Each CD came with a unique code. The band had live mp3’s and videos available for fans to download. It was nothing spectacular and the promise that more content would be uploaded weekly never came to be.

In 2006, Metallica joined iTunes and finally made their music available digitally in a legal sense. Prior to that, to get Metallica mp3’s you had to either rip your own CD or download illegally. This was done on their own terms and on a separate payment arrangement than other artists. At first it was just in the US and Canada as their overseas label wanted a bigger slice of the pie than they deserved. They basically controlled the negotiations as iTunes wanted them.

Then in 2008 they launched Mission : Metallica. The band advertised that any users that signed up to the Platinum package, will be allowed to download live shows, the new album (plus a physical copy of it), along with the normal membership of watching (heavily edited) footage of the band in the studio. Again this was all controlled by the band.

In 2012, they finally joined Spotify and the streaming revolution, again under their own terms and rules.

Anyway, the reason for this post is to highlight some Metallica tracks that could be classed as obscure.

Leper Messiah

It’s written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. It’s worth noting that Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song’s main riff and was not given credit by Metallica.

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 from the Master of Puppets album 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 staccato power chords.

The messiah refers the ministers or evangelists and the lepers refers to the lowly people who give their money believing whatever they are told.

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

Phantom Lord

It’s written by Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich and it was released on Kill Em All. Mustaine even used the Phantom Lord progression from about 2.30 to 3.10 in the Megadeth song, This Is My Life from the Countdown To Extinction album.

Overall the song is very influenced by Ace of Spades from Motörhead.

Hear the cry of war
Louder than before
With his sword in hand
To control the land

When metal music came out screaming in the Eighties, every band had a song about the movement. Twisted Sister called it Rock N Roll whereas Metallica called it Metal. The sword in hand is the instrument of choice.

Escape

Kirk Hammet gets a credit on this song on top of the usual Hetfield / Ulrich combination.

That intro. It’s brilliant. The song is more rock than metal. Like Leper Messiah, this song would not be out of place on the Black Album and it was released on Ride The Lightning. Lars wanted a more commercial sounding song.

The song is about escaping from the prison that is someone else’s reality for you. You can call it another anthem for living the way you want to. It’s the first of a string of songs that references James childhood. The prison mentioned is his home.

Rape my mind and destroy my feelings
Don’t tell me what to do

Take note of a theme in this song that will appear again on later Metallica albums.

Feed my brain with your so called standards
Who says that I ain’t right

This theme of control and manipulation will come up again in Dyers Eve and The Unforgiven.

Dyers Eve

It’s written by Hetfield, Ulrich and Hammett and it closes the ..And Justice For All album.

The song lyrics are one of struggle. In this case, James is struggling against the efforts of the ones who want to control him. The theme was used again for The Unforgiven.

“Pushed onto Me What’s Wrong or Right” can be replaced by “They dedicate their lives to running all of his.”
“Hidden from this Thing That They Call Life” can be replaced by “With time the child draws in, this whipping boy done wrong.”
“Always Censoring My Every Move” can be replaced by “Deprived of all his thoughts.”
“Cannot Face the Fact I Think for Me” can be replaced by “What I’ve felt, what I’ve known, never shined through in what I’ve shown.”
“Clipped My Wings Before I Learnt to Fly” can be replaced by “New blood joins this earth and quickly he’s subdued.”

The Unforgiven III

The Unforgiven from the Black album set a new standard for the modern power ballad. It has been imitated by a thousand bands. Even Metallica referenced themselves with The Unforgiven II, however The Unforgiven III was unique and powerful enough to grab my attention. From all the other songs on Death Magnetic, you can say that The Unforgiven III has slipped into obscurity.

The piano intro that references Ennio Morricone sets the sadness and it is a different take to the acoustic intro of The Unforgiven (which borrowed from Ennio Morricone as well).

These days drift on inside a fog
Its thick and suffocating
This seeking life outside is hell
Inside intoxicating

James is documenting his battles with alcohol.

How can I blame you when it’s me I can’t forgive?

Reflection and hindsight. How can a person learn forgiveness if they cannot forgive themselves?

Holier Than Thou

It’s a Hetfield, Ulrich composition. It was supposed to be the leadoff single to the Black album, however Lars had different ideas.

It’s not who you are it’s who you know
Others lives are the basis of your own
Burn your bridges build them back with wealth
Judge not lest ye be judged yourself

The theme continues on from the corrupted justice themes of money buys immunity from persecution. Just like Leper Messiah and Escape would not be out of place on the Black album, Holier Than Thou would not be out of place on any of the earlier Metallica albums.

The God That Failed

The most saddest song on the Black Album is also the most grooviest. The God That Failed deals with Hetfield’s mother’s death from cancer and her Christian Science beliefs which kept her from seeking medical treatment. It’s another Hetfield/Ulrich composition, however I am sure this one is all Hetfield.

I see faith in your eyes
Never you hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
Broken is the promise betrayal
The healing hand held back by the deepened nail
Follow the god that failed

Prince Charming

Prince Charming is written by Heltfield and Ulrich and it appeared on the Reload album. It is on this list for a few reasons. The most important one for me, is that James Hetfield breaks out his Ride The Lightning era voice in the verses. That melodic Ride The Lightning bark comes in at 1.13 to 1.23 (lyrics below). It continues during the Chorus and then appears again at 2.13 to 2.23 (lyrics below).

I’m the suit and tie that bleeds the street and still wants more
I’m the 45 that’s in your mouth in a dirty Texan whore

I’m a nothing face that plants the bomb and strolls away
I’m the one who doesn’t look quite right as children play

The song structure of Prince Charming is no different to the Kill Em All song structures. It’s based on the NWOBM style. The only difference is that the tempo is slower and the drumming is more rock driven then metal driven. Otherwise, you add those two elements to Prince Charming and you have a song that would not be out of place on Kill Em All.

The Outlaw Torn

Its written by Hetfield and Ulrich.

This song is heavy as hell. The F to E intro groove is super heavy (pay special attention to when Newsted does it during the solo breaks – it’s the swampy delta blues clashing with a heavy groove) and when the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath riff kicks in at the 30 second mark, it makes me feel like I want to break stuff.

Hear me
And if I close my mind in fear
Please pry it open
See me
And if my face becomes sincere
Beware
Hold me
And when I start to come undone
Stitch me together
Save me
And when you see me strut
Remind me of what left this outlaw torn

Don’t Tread On Me

With all the other classic songs on the Black album, this is just another song that was easily overlooked. This is classic Metallica, in the vein of For Whom The Bells Toll and The Thing That Should Not Be.

Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail
Once you provoke her, rattling of her tail
Never begins it, never, but once engaged..
Never surrenders, showing the fangs of rage

I like the lyrics, democracy never begins war, but once you engage it, prepare for its wrath. James said that after putting down the U.S for so long, he wanted to write a positive song for America, sort of a “no place like home.”

To secure peace is to prepare for war

It’s doublethink like the classic 1984 novel.

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Music

Vito Bratta – White Lion – Pride Review

File:WhiteLionPride.jpg

1987 – Pride

This the album that brought White Lion and Vito Bratta to the masses.  According to stats from the RIAA it ended up selling two million copies in the US alone

Stand Outs

Hungry – the intro riff is heavy, the lead break fillers between gaps in the verse are killers.  The arpeggio bridge before the lead break, complete with volume swells is a good calm before the storm.  The lead break, is very Van Halen’ish, complete with tapping and whammy bar antics.  This song would inspire Firehouse.  Basically is about sex.  The original demo of the song had the lyric Hungry for your sex.

Lonely Nights – you can hear the pop formula working.  As with Hungry the chorus is very stadium like.  Similar structure to Hungry, with a clean arpeggio bridge before the Bratta solo section.  Where normally the tapping of Van Halen is chaotic, Bratta in this solo section is very melodic.  Song about heartbreak, clichéd yes, but Tramp does well to paint the picture in the mind of this little broken hearted girl standing in the rain.

Lady Of The Valley – epic song on the album, the Dm riff to kick it off is a classic.  Then the clean tone verses.  Tramp actually sounds like he is about to cry.  Even the lyrics are open to interpretation, its almost like the lady of the valley is this mystic healer and the treasure is the rebirth of the dead.  The solo section that begins after the lyric “Yes, I’ve laid him at your feet” can make the hairs rise on your neck is that good.

All Join Our Hands – Great intro.  “Lets all join our hands, Raise them together, Fight for the light that we feel”.  People can relate to this.  When I first heard it back in 1988, I was under the impression it was about starvation in Africa, as that came to the forefront, with We Are The World and HearNAid’s Stars.

When The Children Cry – the acoustic finger picking style of Vito was different to a lot of the 80’s guitarists, and very reminiscent to Dee from Randy Rhoads.  Anyway a song that can have multiple meanings my view is from an older person looking at the state of the world and saying to themselves, how did we mess this up for the next generation coming through in this world.

Clichéd Songs

Wait – with lyrics straight from a Michael Bolton album “Wait-wait – I never had a chance to love you, wait-wait – if only our love could show you”  Still cool song, and Bratta rocks it out.  Solo section is worth waiting for. 

Average Songs with Great Bratta Moments

Don’t Give Up – a lot of great Bratta moments in this song, I just cant get over the clichéd vocal delivery and the chorus of Don’t Give Up doesn’t inspire me to not give up.  The solo sections is full of arpeggio moments, as well as rehashing the vocal melody in a shredorado kind of way.  When artists write songs about doing it tough, working nine to five and not having enough to pay the bills, they can either get hit the mark or miss the mark with the listener.  In this instance Tramp, misses the mark big time.

Sweet Little Loving – saved by Vito’s solo section.  Again this is a demonstration of a song within a song.  It’s a shame that Mike Tramp couldn’t be more creative with his lyrics and melodies.

All You Need Is Rock N Roll – Vocal delivery and lyrics are lame.  Bratta keeps it in control with his riffing.  This song is meant to say, if you are feeling down and lonely, all you need is rock n roll.  The message is cool, but just like Don’t Give Up, Tramp fails to connect with me.  I don’t feel it.

Tell Me – Its got that summertime riff like Y&T’s Summertime Girls, Ratt’s – One Step Away.  But then you have the singer saying Tell Me Baby, you will never let me go.  Again lack of imagination from Tramp.  Bratta again kills it in this song.

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