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

Australian Method Series – Dead Letter Circus – Dead Letter Circus (2018)

There first EP released in 2007 is also called Dead Letter Circus. Hence why I put 2018 in the title of this LP.

Dead Letter Circus is a well loved prog rock band. To me their music is hard to describe as the songs are all in the 3 to 5 minute range, something that bands listed as prog don’t really do. They don’t have a million notes per minute sections either. It’s all music and vocals. And awesome drumming.

The band is Kim Benzie on vocals, Clint Vincent and Luke Palmer on guitars, Stewart Hill on bass, and Luke Williams on drums.

The Armour You Own

The bass and drums set the groove and the guitar locks in with em. It’s familiar and I like it, in the same way AC/DC play it safe within their blues rock style, DLC do the same in their prog alternative rock style.

You will reach
You will fall down
Every time you fail you will change

Truth.

It’s how we learn.

At 2.50 it quietens down before it builds up again. You need to hear it, to feel it.

The Real You

Hey you there
Show me the real you
Here in the physical
Because I see right through

Social media allows us to portray an image that is fake. Take a photo from above your head and suddenly you look slim and with deep fake photos and videos doing the rounds, no one can tell what is real anymore.

People need to get back to what was real. F

ace to face communication. And we can’t even do that in 2021 because of social distancing and lockdowns.

Change

Another song with a familiar sound from the earlier albums.

You alone the reason
The architect of all this time
Now you own this life
Build it
Fill it

It starts with you and no one else. Don’t blame others. It’s your life, own it and if something is not right, you have the power to change it.

It starts with you.

Running Out Of Time

How good is the Intro?

It’s an anthem. This is the band at their best.

Hoping maybe one day everything you want will fall into your hands
You don’t need to try

Life doesn’t work that way. Being a good student and then getting a job to pay bills and a mortgage will not give you what you want. You need to seize it.

We Own the Light

After four rockers, this one is almost ballad like.

No one else can understand my headspace
I’ve been slipping from my happiness
This whole time

We can only fake it for so long before we hit the wall. And we are not alone. So many others experience the same.

Heartline

The vocal melodies are memorable and hooky. This song just needs to be listened to, so it can be fully understood. one of my favorites.

Ladders For Leaders

Another song that lives in ballad like territory. It percolates and simmers.

Somehow they defeated us with no one even bleeding
No resistance or debate
They just covered our eyes
Villains created, become ladders for leaders
To keep us from asking who’s holding the strings coming from their backs

A brilliant verse.

We like to be comfortable and that means we like to have a stable income to get us through life. And for a lot of us, stability is good and we are happy building someone else’s dream while we believe we are building ours.

But for a small percentage of us, stability is not what we desire and we change the world.

Trade Places

This song would not be our of place on their debut album “This Is The Warning” released in 2010.

Yeah if you and I and them trade places
Make our stand in generation
Let the truth collide

Say It Won’t Be Long

This is the best track on the album and it’s deep in the album order.

The way it percolates and builds towards the end, it needs to be listened to.

Now I feel my confidence is growing
My sense of self worth is unfolding
I am now fearless facing forward
So I start crawling

The mental awakening when you stop pretending to be someone else.

Home

I love the grooves and riffs on this one.

I know I’m chasing something I can find home in
Think of all that I’ve been through
Every scar that I’ve grown through
There is nothing to fear now
I am ready for change now
To find my soul in it

What a great message to end the album with.

Lay back, crank it and have the lyric sheet or the lyrics via the net in front of you.

Let the album intoxicate you.

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

2001 – Part 2.4: Live – V

To me it’s all just rock music in the end.

“V” is album number five, released in 2001. The band for the album is Ed Kowalczyk on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Chad Taylor on lead guitar, Patrick Dahlheimer on bass and Chad Gracey on drums. Like most of the albums, the majority of tracks are written by Ed Kowalczyk.

Wikipedia tells me that the collection of songs that became “V” was never intended to be released as an album. Guitarist Chad Taylor said, “The goal was to prepare songs for the next studio session. MCA got a hold of the material and pushed us to call it an album.” The songs were originally going to be released free to fans as a collection called “Ecstatic Fanatic”.

“Deep Enough”

One of their most creative songs. I was hooked from the intro.

It basically starts off with a music box piano riff, and then a Middle East music melody crashes in, which keeps repeating under a catchy verse vocal line which I’m pretty sure Karnivool was influenced by for the verse melody on “Themata”.

And the track was meant to be the album’s first single but the record company pulled rank and released “Simple Creed” instead which proved to be a big mistake.

Maybe they got scared from the lyrical nature of the song, about skirts rising and male appendage excitement rising with it.

“People Like You”

It feels like a Guns N Roses song from the “Use Your Illusion” album. In the Chorus, Ed even sounds like Axl.

In a dream I had you were standing all alone
With a dyin’ world below and a microphone
Singin’ hallelujah
I finally broke their mold

We take and cop so much crap as we go through life. People try to shape us to some version that they believe is true. Be unique, be free and don’t let others drag you down.

People like you! people like you! Motherfuckers like you! people like you!

It’s my favourite part of the song, when Ed sings the melody for the above lyrics and the guitar plays the octave guitar melody. And yes, he does say “motherfuckers”

“Transmit Your Love”

This track could have been an album cut on “Secret Samadhi”.

“Forever May Not Be Long Enough”

The piano riff to start the song is excellent.

It’s a co-write with Glen Ballard, who everyone wanted to work with after “Jagged Little Pill” blew up around the world in 1995.

In 1997, Aerosmith worked with him on the very underrated “Nine Lives” album and it’s the song “Taste Of India” which Ballard co-wrote with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, that I’m reminded off when I hear this song, which was also played during the closing credits of “The Mummy Returns” movie.

“Call Me A Fool”

The Beatles influences come through on this.

“OK”

Musically, this is Live bringing the funk and soul.

Take away my TV
don’t want your fuckin’ therapy
it’s all decay decay decay
not today, not today

Kids listening to this song today, won’t even know why someone would want their TV taken away. For them, the TV is like how the radio was for others, background noise. Most of our attentions are fixated on our small black screens.

“Overcome”

It’s got a piano riff and violins to set the mood and a nice vocal melody, but the lyrics about “holy water in lungs” are way to pretentious.

“Hero of Love”

The Beatles are back again for the album closer. Listen to this song for the Chorus.

“Throwing Copper” at 8x Platinum in the U.S was never going to be topped. It was part of a cultural movement. And “Secret Samadhi” is a great album, but it only went 2x Platinum in the U.S.

No small feat, but a massive drop in commercial expectations. “The Distance To Here” is at Platinum for U.S sales. “V” has no certification, not even a Gold.

And their commercial trajectory was similar to the 80’s bands on albums four and five except Metallica who had their biggest success with album number 5.

But they still do good live business, when live shows used to happen.

Because of “Throwing Copper”.

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

November 2020 – Part 5

Stan Bush

If you’ve watched any 80’s movie with a hard rock soundtrack, there is a very high chance that you would have heard a song from Stan Bush.

My first encounter was “The Touch” from “The Transformers” cartoon movie, when Hot Rod grabbed the matrix of leadership, opened it and became “Rodimus Prime”.

And Jean Claude Van Damme was a big name once upon a time in the action genre, and Stan Bush songs appeared in his movies. But apart from soundtracks, there was nothing else I could get my hands on and information on him was scarce.

So here we are in 2020 and “Dare To Dream” is released.

“Born To Fight” is more melodic metal than AOR rock, with a guitar solo section that reminds of “The Final Countdown” from Europe. And the song is being used to promote a few anime shows on Netflix.

“Dare To Dream” is more in vein with his AOR rock with a bit of Rick Springfield chucked in.

“The Times Of Your Life” is basically the guitar verse riff from “Run To You” from Bryan Adams, played on a piano. And I like it.

“A Dream Of Love” is a cross between Whitesnake and Def Leppard. Think of “The Deeper The Love” and “Hysteria” with a guitar solo that is John Norum level quality, very Euro influenced.

So I had to Google who is playing guitar. And that person is Holger Fath, a German guitarist. He basically does all the guitars and bass, as well as the production.

“The 80’s” sounds like it came from the 80’s. A cross between “Summer Of 69”, “Hysteria”, “Animal” and various Night Ranger songs. It’s a fun clichéd track to listen to.

“Live And Breathe” sounds like those Heart piano ballads with a bit of Michael Bolton thrown in.

“Heat Of Attack” has a bass groove like “Heaven And Hell” which is a perfect canvas for Stan Bush to take over with his melodic rock vocals, about fighting to stay alive and keeping the flame burning inside.

“Dream Big” has a lot of keyboard hooks and an outro guitar solo which I like and “True Believer” has a groovy bass riff with a staccato keyboard riff in the Chorus.

“Never Give Up” has a keyboard riff that reminds me of Bush’s biggest song, “The Touch”, which is very similar to “Jump” from Van Halen.

“Home” closes the album. A ballad straight from the Mutt Lange written cuts, like “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You”.

In the end, it’s all these old sounds from the 80’s done in a modern way and I like it.

Wytch Hazel

“III: Pentecost” is the album. The feel is a throwback to those 70’s acts that current bands like Audrey Horne do.

So I did some digging and took in some interviews and reviews about how the band sounds like a cross between Angelwitch and Thin Lizzy. I haven’t heard Angelwitch, so I can’t comment there, but I can hear Thin Lizzy. In the interviews, it was mentioned that Fleetwood Mac and the “Rumours” album was being spun while the writing was happening.

“He is the Fight” kicks off the album with harmony leads and its followed by “Spirit And Fire”. It’s a one two knockout punch musically, so I did some more digging to see who these guitar heroes are. Alex Haslam and Colin Hendra. I’m sure like me, no one has heard of em, but the point of writing blogs is to spread the word. Let the “spirit and fire” lead the way. And listening to the lyrics, it’s a very Christian album. The real Pentecostal kind, so when you hear the lyrics, you know that every word is meant with heart.

“I Am Redeemed” starts off with a bass riff similar to “Wrathchild” from Iron Maiden but once the harmony guitars kick in, its living in Thin Lizzy territory with nods to Maiden in the verses.

“Archangel” has an excellent clean tone intro before it moves into a riff that reminds me of “Ghost BC”. Then the chorus kicks in and it’s memorable straight from the outset. “Dry Bones” has this interlude/solo riff which is just head banging material.

“Sonata” has church organs and a cello/violin before the clean tone arpeggios kick in. And it’s a moody 2 minute instrumental which bleeds into “I Will Not” and that riff. It’s time to pick up the guitar and learn it.

The album closes the way it started with “Ancient Of Days” a high energy hard rock song with harmony guitars and the drumming from “The Ides Of March”.

Within Temptation

I’ve been a fan of this band since the early 2000’s. Their blend of Euro metal and symphonies into cohesive 4 minute hard rock songs is just to my liking.

“The Purge” is a pre-release single drop of a new album. And as soon as it started, I was hooked. It has the riffs, the synths, the almost metronomic drums and the powerhouse vocals of Sharon den Adel.

Avandra

I saw the cover on a blog, liked the way it looked and added the album to my November playlist. Going in blind, the music is progressive rock, with touches of metal and other styles.

“Life Is Not A Circle, But A Sphere” got me to pay attention. It’s track three.

And then “Eternal Return” starts, with its Pink Floyd style of digital delay riffing.

And while I was listening, I did some more digging.

From Puerto Rico.

The beauty of the internet and allowing everyone to create. As a fan of music, I am exposed to artists from all over the world.

“Procgen” has these various moods which I like and then there is this vocal melody that goes with the harmony guitars towards the end of the song, which makes me press repeat.

“Afferent Realms” starts off with some serious shred, which makes me want to break my guitar. It’s all over a polyrhythm riff and drum beat.

Here’s a review for ya from the blog manofmuchmetal, that I agree with (plus it’s the blog that I saw the cover on).

Volbeat

“Die To Live” was a favourite from the album, and the same energy captured there is captured live. It’s just a powerhouse rock-a-billy metal cut.

Crank and let it intoxicate you.

Black Veil Brides

“Scarlett Cross” is the new pre-release single of a forthcoming album. If you read this blog, you will know that I am a fan of the band, especially guitarists Jinxx and Jake Pitts.

These two dudes can play and are modern day guitar heroes.

So I wait..

Trixter

Trixter got labelled pretty quick when they came out with the glam/hair metal tag. Unfortunately labels stick, which in reality wasn’t a right label for them, as they had more of a blues rock sound with AOR rock choruses now and then. After a few albums in the early 90’s they disappeared for a long time only to be resurrected on Frontiers around 2010.

“New Audio Machine” was released in 2012 on Frontiers Records and it features the original line up of the band which is Pete Loran on lead vocals, Steve Brown on lead guitar, P. J. Farley on bass guitar and Mark “Gus” Scott on drums and percussion.

I liked the album then and in 2020 it got a remaster, plus a bonus track thrown in, hence the reason why it appears in my 2020 list.

“Drag Me Down” is a blues southern rock ditty while “Get On It” has this foot stomping blues rock groove. The riffs in “Dirty Love” are influenced from Pasadena and a certain EVH. Steve Brown on guitars is another excellent guitarist who remains ignored by the wider public. Listen to his lead break on “Dirty Love” to get a feel for his abilities.

When Trixter did AC/DC, they did it an way that is more melodic. Listen to the excellent guitar riffs in “Machine” from Brown with arpeggios, palm muted chromatic lines and double stops with an AC/DC feel.

“Live for the Day” is an acoustic/electric ballad, which bands like Matchbox 20, Live and Tonic would be proud to call their own.

“Ride” is a rocker with a heavy riff. “Physical Attraction” and the lead break. Give it a listen.

“Tattoos & Misery” could have come from a Lifehouse album and one of my favourite tracks on the album.

“Walk With a Stranger” is an unused Skid Row song written by Bolan and Sabo, before Sebastian Bach even joined the band. There is a demo of Matt Fallon singing it, released in 1987 on YouTube. It’s a great melodic rock song which has been on the Skid Row backburner for a long time, until Trixter brought it officially back. Coming from the same area as the Skid Row guys, guitarist Steve Brown remembered it from back in the day and this cover is brilliant. One of my favourite tracks.

“Find a Memory” is the European Bonus track and it sounds like “Love Me Back To Life” from Bon Jovi’s “Bounce” album in the intro. Another favourite track for me. “Heart of Steel” is an acoustic cover from a song on their debut album released in 1990. It’s listed as a U.S Bonus track.

If you haven’t heard Trixter before, start with this album. If you like it, then dig deeper.

Stay tuned for part 6 as November was a huge month for releases.

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

August 2020 – Part 4

Use My Voice – Evanescence

Amy Lee is a musician I would want around for a long time. The sound of her voice (which can be mournful, aggressive, rageful and happy) always gets me interested and the messages in the songs are genuine.

Relationships are difficult and they become even more difficult when one side tries to force their personality onto the other, speaking for them and even questioning them in a negative way in front of others.

Use your voice people, don’t suppress it. Its special and unique to you. This applies to everything in life and not just to relationships. Because no one is entitled to speak for you except you.

Space – Biffy Clyro

This band is hit and miss for me. They have me interested, then they lose me and then they get me again.

And this song has me back again about having a space in your heart for the special someone who is in and out of your life.

Maybe It’s Time – Sixx AM with guests

I liked this song when it appeared on their 2016 album “Prayers For The Blessed”.

It’s been redone now with a lot of guest vocalists to raise awareness of addiction and recovery.

“When I was young, I was dumb”

Indestructible. 

Getting old was never in my thoughts. 

Jumping out of moving cars, getting drunk and generally mucking around, sometimes dangerously, was bred out of pure boredom.

And not of all of us got out alive. People committed suicide and others got addicted to drugs, living a hard life right now with shakes and aliens in the fridge. 

“Maybe it’s time to deal with the pieces in my life”

There has to be a reawakening, a turning point. Some people believe they need to help you see it, but I believe you need to get to that point yourself.

For me, it was lying in a hospital bed with my foot broken and my face bruised and bleeding because I was drunk and jumped out of a moving car. I just had surgery to insert screws and a long road to recovery.

Cruel Hands Of Time – Tygers Of Pan Tang

It’s a crazy world we live in when “Tygers Of Pan Tang” are putting out some of their best music. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member left from the 80s.

The riffage on this song is straight from the Sunset strip and I’m pretty sure it’s from the fingers of Michael Crystal who has been in the band since 2013 and vocalist Jacopo Meille has some nice pipes, so the melodies are infectious.

Talk To Me – Apocalyptica with Lzzy Hale

These dudes from Finland have been on my radar since they covered Metallica songs on the cellos. And they have done everything, from the covers, the instrumental originals and the vocal originals.

This time they have Lzzy Hale, the best rock voice.

Satellites – Andy James

That chorus lead melody that kicks in at about the minute mark is emotive and the harmonies just add a nice complexity to it.

One of the best instrumental guitarists right now.

World On Fire – Daughtry

It’s so good to have Daughtry knocking on the door of hard rock again. He’s angry and the addictive melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings So when society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

The final part to August 2020 is coming up.

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

Rock Rap

Rock was/is built on sex.

Like “Slide It In”, “Slow And Easy” from Whitesnake style of sex. Or the “Liquor And Poker” tour from Whitesnake on the back of the “Slip Of The Tongue” album.

Or “She Goes Down” for some “Sticky Sweet” from Motley Crue.

Or pulling the trigger of someone’s “Love Gun” while getting a “Plaster Caster” done from Kiss.

Or how she’s got the “Big Guns” from Skid Row.

But Rap is also built on sex and it has taken over rock when it comes to the mainstream.

Rap artists used any means necessary to spread the word and they embraced the internet.

They had their tracks on SoundCloud for people to listen to and they gave away mix tapes for free to download. This Vice story covers what a mixtape is/means in the world of rap.

In case you don’t read the article, MixTapes are “street albums,” that don’t use the label distribution process for albums. In comparison, albums are designed to move units and issue singles. They are designed to chart. And depending on the artist/label, an approval is needed from the label, before the artist can start recording it.

MixTapes are not designed to do that. They operate outside this sphere.

Mixtapes bring in new fans and provide something for the core fan base to talk about on social media.

MixTapes give the artist a reason to tour.

MixTapes can be jams with other arists.

Basically in the rap world, MixTapes move a rapper’s career forward and it’s done without selling a single copy. Although Bootleg copies of these MixTapes do make their way to iTunes and Spotify from opportunistic people. But the rappers don’t care.

“Embrace the future and don’t complain about it”, is a phrase I hear a lot. The general view from journalists is that rock and metal artists didn’t embrace this future and that’s why the genre is in the rear view mirror but it makes bank on touring.

And there’s been a lot of discussions recently on social media about the comments of Daniel Ek for artists to create more content.

But rock and metal fans are loyal and if they have the means, they will find a way to support the artists they like.

There’s a cool post at Seth’s Blog about deliberate lo-fi.

He talks about communication and how it’s gone downhill.

Like face to face contact went to landline phone calls to cell phone calls to text messaging and to Zoom calls.

And how music went from a live setting to vinyl to cassettes to CD’s to mp3 to streams.

This transition is because people want more and more, so things get condensed to fit this new norm.

But there’s always a shift. Because something that was better in the past will always be better in the future.

Maybe it’s a pretty good reason as to why vinyl has a Cult following. It won’t overtake streaming revenues but it will exist because it’s better.

Standard
Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Biffy Clyro

I wanted to know what the deal was for this band. They had a lot of write ups in Australia.

And they had this album (along with some others) in a 3 for $20 bin a long time ago.

I already did some research and I knew that the cover was designed by the great Storm Thorgerson, so this album got the nod.

And…

“Mountains” stood out and so did “Many Of Horror”. Actually “Many Of Horror” is a real good song.

It’s you and me ’til the end of time, when we collide we come together

But I never went and checked em out further.

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

Survival

For those that don’t know, TesseracT is a British progressive metal band formed in 2007.

All up they have released four full-length albums, one live album and three EPs. And they are building their audience, city by city, stream by stream, show by show, release by release.

The thing about TesseracT is the labelling.

A band called Meshuggah and Sikth came out many years ago and someone labelled their form of progressive music as djent. Seriously what the hell is djent or math core or math metal.

Who comes up with this rubbish?

Nikki Sixx said on Twitter once that all labels are from record label marketing.

Anyway, TesseracT started off as a metal act, with progressive time changes and feels and vocals with ranged between aggressive and melodic.

Then by the time they got to “Altered State” in 2012, it was like a different band. The music was more textured, subdued and melancholic. The progressive time changes were still there, but so were the clean tone vocals this time around, courtesy of new vocalist Ashe O’Hara, who left and old vocalist, Dan Tompkins came back.

Which brings us to “Polaris”. It was listed as sixth in my 2015 list.

“Survival” was the first track released to streaming services. It got a lot of press on the metal sites.

And if you want an introduction into the album, then “Survival” is the song. It’s got a bendy off-time single note riff with a catchy rock chorus.

Musicians never have “overnight” success. We all know that news stories like these headlines but behind every headline like that, there are artists who have worked tirelessly for a long time and committed to many days apart from their to families so they could exist as a band.

This is what “Survival” is about.

Ten years of hope have passed, you felt alone
And pictured life a little differently

Ten years trying to build a music career and you are still in the same apartment or house from where you started. And your loved ones are there, supporting you and giving you advice and hope.

And people say that life has just begun
When you’re not a part of me I feel dead inside

It’s not your “standard touring life” or “trying to make it in music” song like “Turn The Page” or “Wanted Dead Or Alive” or “Home Sweet Home”.

It’s a bit more intellectual because post Napster, there was no record label whisking you away from your family with millions of dollars. There never was.

But people believed their was.

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

Spotify 2016

In 2016, Spotify tells me I listened to 25,538 minutes of music. On average, this equates to 70 minutes of music per day. The listening minutes are made up of 958 unique artists and 3,277 unique tracks got a spin.

Remember back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, when only a handful rock and metal artists would get our attention.

  • It could be because we laid out money for their record, so we had to spin it.
  • It could be we saw the music video on TV and recorded it to VHS tape and watched it over and over again.
  • It could be due to the record labels promotional campaigns we got caught up in their scorched earth PR policy.
  • It could be due to radio playing the songs non-stop.

In the process, we made the small number of artists into global superstars and lined the pockets of the record labels in the process.

Well in 2016, I am just one fan who listened to 958 unique artists on Spotify and I am sure I am not the only one. In my case, those 958 artists came from the rock and metal genres, which means the current bands, with their current releases are competing with the history of music, plus their past hits for our attention.

And my time listening to music is fragmented between iTunes, CD’s, Vinyl, CD and Spotify. I listened to a lot of music in the 8 weeks I spent in Europe but it all came from iTunes.

My five top artists for the year are;

  • Kingdom Come – does anyone even remember them? While the commercially successfully version of the band lasted between 1987 and 1991, vocalist and main songwriter, Lenny Wolf kept the band name going with German/European musicians until he retired the band in August 2016. And since the majority of their releases are on Spotify, it was happy days listening for me.
  • Sixx:A.M. – as a Motley fan from the 80’s it was only natural I gravitate to this and it’s the best of the side projects apart from Vince Neil’s first solo album back in the 90’s. And they are a band who had new product out in 2016 and it was good enough to compete with the history of music.
  • Saxon – there was a period between April and June this year that Saxon got a lot of listens as I got myself re-acquainted with their 80’s output and then I started to delve into their 90’s plus output.
  • Whitesnake – no new product in 2016 but still a big favourite of mine.
  • Tremonti – a lot of new product over the last few years so it’s no surprise the band ended up on this list.

My top 5 genres are;

Rock, Hard Rock, Album Rock, Metal and Glam Metal.

I always hated the genre labels and their stupid pigeon holed definitions.

Seriously, what the hell is Album Rock?

To me, it’s either Metal or it’s Rock.

Friday was my favourite day to listen, followed by Saturday and Sunday. Then came Wednesday and Thursday, with Monday and Tuesday been my least favourite days to listen to music.

And finally, here is a selection of my top tracks for the year from Spotify are;

Prayers For The Damned – SIXX:A.M
The album came out in April this year and this song was the lead single that hit streaming sites in February. It’s more or less a perfect modern hard rock song like “Life Is Beautiful” and a constant on my playlists.

Run To The Hills – Vitamin String Quartet
My kids prefer this version over the original and they found it by accident by searching for “Run To The Hills” on Spotify. To be honest, the eastern European vibe is intoxicating and since I was never really a fan of the original song to start off, the Vitamin String Quartet version has become a staple.

Twilight Cruiser – Kingdom Come
It’s 21 years old and the title track to the 1995 album. The feel and the groove and that guitar lead that sounds like a wolf howling are just perfect.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
Another track courtesy of my boys, especially my 4-year-old. I hear it and i remember Huey Lewis.

Back In Black – Vitamin String Quartet
Another track courtesy of my boys and my four-year old loved hearing the vocal melody played by a violin, which he then sang along with.

Hall Of Fame – The Script
It was the reason why I got a family premium account. The song must have screwed up the Spotify algorithm because since this was listened to by my kids, my Discover playlist has been a mess.

Dust – Tremonti
The brilliant title track of the new album.

In The Fading Light – Andy James
He came up in a Discover Playlist. It’s an instrumental from an EP released in 2013 and it’s been on my Drive Home from work playlist since i heard. The guitar lead melody is perfect and I find myself chanting it as I drive home.

Sail On – The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project from guys in Soilwork and Arch Enemy.

Funky Town – Pseudo Echo
My kids again, however I was a fan of this version in the 80’s, so it was cool to be re-acquainted with it.

Iron Man – Black Sabbath
My kids again, because of the Iron Man/Marvel movies.

Slip Of The Tongue – Whitesnake
It’s one of my favourite cuts and it’s Led Zeppelin on steroids.

War – Live – Bruce Springsteen
My kids again and it was good that they pulled up Bruce Springsteen performing live as I wouldn’t have listened to this song or the other live songs this year if it wasn’t for the kids.

Living Out Of Touch – Kingdom Come
Quick call the stupid plagiarism lawyers. Yes, I know it sounds like Led Zeppelin. Gary Moore even wrote a song called “Led Clones” about Kingdom Come. But there is no denying that Lenny Wolf was a master of re-creating classics, in the same way the Gallagher brothers recreated Beatles classics.

Good Enough – Van Halen
The boys were watching “Spaceballs” and this song came up. I totally forgot about it as it’s been 30 years since it came out and “Dreams” proved to be the cross over hit. But the Van Halen I like is the distorted groovy rock version of the band and this song is one of the best opening tracks for an album.

So I searched it up on Spotify and added it to my Drive Playlist.

“Hello Baby”. And all hell breaks loose. Enough said

Distance – Evergrey
The opening track from their new album “The Storm Within”. As the lead single, it got a lot of listens.

My Way – Kiss
It’s from 1987’s keyboard heavy “Crazy Nights” album. It’s a cool track, I dig the clichéd lyrics and it’s cool to hear Paul Stanley squeeze his balls even tighter for some of those highs. And now my kids dig it and it’s getting constant listens.

Stargazer – Kingdome Come
My kids had one of those toy keyboards and they figured out the intro, so it became a constant song we listened to on Spotify.

Rise – Sixx AM
The lead single to Part II – Prayers For The Blessed.

Trains – Porcupine Tree
Steven Wilson just did what he wanted and wrote songs the way he wanted. He wasn’t a songwriter that was locked in to a particular genre and that is why Porcupine Tree is a favourite of mine. Love the groove, the feel of the acoustic guitars and that epic ending.

Black Rose – Volbeat
I was hooked on that 60’s bubble-gum pop vibe in the Chorus.

My Last Mistake – Tremonti
The heaviness of the music.

We Are The Ones – Dee Snider
The title track and the opening track to Dee’s solo album.

Live In Love – Times Of Grace
Does melodic pop rock heavy death metal make even sense. If it does, then this track is for you.

The Threat Is Real – Megadeth
You get the Arab voices at the start and the chainsaw pedal point riff. The threat is indeed real.

Do You Like It – Kingdom Come
A simple ode to rock music and the live show and yes, I really like it.

The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – Volbeat
This song is a favourite of mine, because it’s a boogie-fied version of “Children Of The Grave”.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

Albums

“Blizzard Of Ozz” is 39 minutes long. A year later, “Diary Of A Madman” comes out and it clocks in at 42 minutes.  Ozzy built his career on these albums. Two albums in two years.

“You Can’t Stop Rock’N’Roll” from Twisted Sister is 38 minutes long. A year later, “Stay Hungry” comes out as a tight, nine-song, 37-minute set. Like Ozzy, Twisted Sister built their career on the backs of these albums.

“Kill Em All” is 51 minutes long. “Ride The Lightning” is 47 minutes long. “Master of Puppets” is 54 minutes long. Three albums in the space of three years and Metallica’s career is defined and built. In comparison, “Death Magnetic” is 75 minutes long and we are approaching EIGHT years between releases with the opus scheduled for an October release.

“The Number Of The Beast” is 39 minutes long . “Piece Of Mind” is 45 minutes long and “Powerslave” is 51 minutes long. In the space of three years, Iron Maiden built a career on the backs of these three albums. In comparison, “Book Of Souls” is 92 minutes long and it was released six years after their previous album.

“Highway To Hell” is 41 minutes long. “Back In Black” is 42 minutes long. “For Those About To Rock” is 40 minutes long. Three defining albums in the space of three years and AC/DC went from an Australian band to global superstars. In comparison, “Black Ice” is 55 minutes long and “Rock Or Bust” is a return to a normal time length of 35 minutes long. Although the quality is just not there and their main riff meister is missing in action.

“Heaven And Hell” is 39 minutes long and a year later “Mob Rules” came in at 40 minutes in length. Two albums in two years and Black Sabbath’s career is resurrected as a commercial force. For Ronnie James Dio, it was 5 studio albums and six years, and when the 42 minute long “Holy Diver” dropped in 1983, the foundations to Dio’s solos career are set.

What are these figures trying to say?

You don’t need 60 to 90 minutes’ worth of new music to be released on one slab at one time every two to three years. People don’t have spare hours. They have spare minutes. You need 30 to 40 minutes of new music to be released more frequently. Based on the past, bands got traction by releasing new music every 12 months.

Labels want albums because it is easier to charge money RIGHT NOW when there is a bundle of songs involved. Artists want albums, because they grew up on them and they want to be like their heroes and make a statement.

However the album means nothing to the listener who has a digital music collection. While the label heads and the artist want to be paid right now, the fan/listener thinks differently. And the difference between now and the past, is that the listener can influence the outcome.

You buy a track or an album and you could play it once. Maybe you could play it a hundred times or a thousand times or a million times. The artist and their label will never know how many times you played the track. All they will know is the ONE sale and all the money they would have received is from the ONE sale. But if you stream a track a million times, the artist will know. But listens pay less than sales and listens pay when a track is streamed! And if it is streamed a lot it will pay.

So…

Focus on listens. Fans are made by listens. We can talk about albums, but most people are listening to songs. And if a track has longevity, then so does the career of the artist.

Like when I go to “Blizzard Of Ozz”, I listen to “Goodbye To Romance”, “Mr Crowley” and “Crazy Train” as a must.

When I go to “The Number Of The Beast”, I listen to “Children Of The Damned” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” as a must.

Of course there are other tracks that I like depending on moods, but the ones mentioned are essentials for me.

Listens are everything and based on how copyright law is designed to last the life of the artist plus 70 years after death, the copyright holder will get paid on each and every listen, forever. And the focus should not be on making an album-length statement of 60 to 90 minutes. It should be about putting out a song that can be listened to, over and over again.

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Just Some Thoughts on Copyright, YouTube and Rock Music

Nikki Sixx and many others want Google to pay more for each YouTube stream so they could bring their payment rates up to the same standard of other streaming providers.

You notice how the people who are now speaking out against YouTube, are the ones who control the rights to their music. It’s because they know exactly what payments they are getting compared to other streaming services. The rest of the artists are clueless and at the whim of the record label creative accounting machine.

In case you were not aware, both Motley Crue and Metallica own their copyrights. Peter Mensch on behalf of Metallica spoke out about YouTube and called it the devil. Nikki Sixx is now calling out YouTube on payment rates.

Anthrax on the other hand are clueless. They kept their new album off Spotify for a few weeks, but it was all over YouTube via fan uploads. As a band, you cannot control what your fans do with your music and how they choose to share it but what you can control is how you release it. Anthrax can’t have the release cycle the way they want it to be (pre-Napster), much the same way any business that has customers, can’t run their business the way they did back in the past. Look at Apple as a perfect example of a business trying to operate like it did when Steve Jobs was alive, while Amazon, Facebook and Google have moved on and surpassed Apple as a leader.

Because the customers are king and they decide what is of value and what isn’t.

Imagine Prince’s post death stats if his music was actually available to be streamed on Spotify. In case you were not aware, every news outlet reported how his sales increased post death. It’s fantastic that his sales have gone through the roof again, as it will benefit his current management team/label. Not him.

And trust me when I say this, the people that will end up controlling Prince’s music will orchestrate a rich licensing deal for his music to be on streaming services. Because it’s all about the greed. Then the lawsuits would come against any artist who has a song that might feel and sound like a Prince song.

If people want to respect Copyright again, then all of Prince’s songs and his catalog of unreleased songs should be part of the Public Domain.

So which way do artists want.

Do they want strong Copyright enforcement forever and a day which leads to censorship and Corporate monopolies and billions of dollars in the hands of executives who created no art and fly in their own private jets, while the actual artists are paid pennies and fly economy?

Do they want the Tidal exclusives and making copyright infringement/piracy relevant again in the process?

Do they want their fans to purchase their music only, have big first week sales and to make copyright infringement/piracy relevant again in the process?

Do they want to make it as easy as possible for fans to access their music forever in any format the fan desires and as easily as possible?

Because in music there is a lot of value in recorded music, regardless if it’s streaming or mp3 purchases or actual vinyl/CD sales.

If you want to look at the value of recorded music and how you can make money when legal alternatives are better than the pirated alternatives, look no further than China. As a music market based on recorded sales, China, had no transactional recorded music business. Piracy was huge. However it is now bringing in some serious dollars. The difference here is that the record labels have built partnerships with the techies and ISP’s, instead of litigating them to death in the courts with stupid troll like suits and take down notices.

They tried a paid model in 2012, it failed. They tried again and again, until they got it exactly right for the CUSTOMER to buy in. Now digital music revenues in China brings in millions of dollars which were not there before at all. This is a good thing, but again, how much of it is going back to the actual artists.

Standard