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

The Record Vault: Dio – Lock Up The Wolves

The band changed. There was no one left except for Ronnie James Dio. 18 year old guitar wiz, Rowan Robertson was on guitars, Jens Johansson on keys, Teddy Cook on bass and Simon Wright on drums who left his AC/DC gig that he held from 1983 to 1989 to join.

Actually Robertson was only 17 when Dio announced to the world that he was the new guitarist in July 1989 after more than 5,000 guitarist submitted audition tapes.

“I saw an item in Kerrang! about Craig Goldie leaving Dio, so I knew they needed a guitarist. I sent in a tape just for the hell of it, you know, not expecting much, but figuring I had nothing to lose.

I was 16, learnt to play guitar in my bedroom by banging around to Bad Company records and the only stage experience I had was with a couple of pub bands that were going nowhere. I thought if I was lucky, maybe I’d get an audition”.
Rowan Robertson

I was surprised to see that Jimmy Bain was out. But he was fired (along with Claude Schnell) in mid-1989 and Vinny Appice was let go two weeks before work began on the album.

The production team also changed a little bit, with Tony Platt in the producers and engineer’s chair along with Ronnie. Suddenly the sound became better thanks to Tony Platt’s engineering experience.

According to guitarist Rowan Robertson and mentioned on Wikipedia, two more songs were written and demoed for the album but left off at the decision of Wendy Dio: “Hell Wouldn’t Take Her” and “The River Between Us”. Maybe she felt the songs were too personal.

In 1990, MTV still ruled.

It was simple. You get a music video in mass rotation and watch the album go Platinum. And the Dio camp tried. They really tried.

The photos of the band had them with a bit of a tease and hairspray in their hair. They spent some decent money on a clip for “Wild One”.

And MTV still avoided Dio, who at 48 years of age was seen as a relic of the past with nothing new to offer. My Dad turned 46 that year and I saw him as old.

Also Dio’s lyrics of jesters, clowns, gypsies and rainbows had run its course for the TV station but not for the fans.

While I ignored the “Dream Evil” album when it came out in 1987, I purchased this one.

It was a tab of “Wild One” in the “Guitar School” magazine which got me interested. I was playing along to the song before I even heard it and the guitar solo was a highlight. And I was like, “man, this dude is of a similar age and he’s smoking on the guitar, I need to get practicing”.

Wild One

Written by Dio and Robertson, it’s a great fast song to kick off the album and announce the new guy in town.

That Pre-Chorus, reminds me so much of Savatage.

And the lead break starts off as a blues-a-metal-thon, almost jazz fusion like. Then it goes into the super-fast tapping section. Another great way to announce the new gun slinger .

Check out the head banging outro. How can you not like it?

Lyrically, it was another “stand your ground and be who you want to be” message, although done in a very Dio way full of riddles.

Born On The Sun

A mixture of “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and “Holy Diver” but with Rowan Robertson providing a more EVH approach to decorating simple grooves.

Check out the drumming on this.

The song is credited to Dio, Robertson, Bain and Appice. It sounds like Appice wrote the drum parts but its Wright who plays em.

You can hide in a circle
It’s a way to survive
Be another number
At least you’d be alive

Great lyrics. So much truth in the words.

Scared to be different or speak our minds because of the resistance and the blowback. Especially these days, with social media and how a point of view can blow up and suddenly we have trolls and haters all spamming our inboxes.

Hey Angel

Written by Dio and Robertson.

The majority of stories I read when Grunge came, was how the lyrics from the Seattle bands were more deeper and darker, focusing on depression and anxiety and rooted in real life. It’s like the Seattle artists were the only artists doing stuff like that. Sort of like how the heirs to Marvin Gaye believe he was so original that they sue everyone to oblivion.

Well, heavy metal and hard rock artists did have songs dealing with isolation, loneliness, depression, conformity and being in dark places after a relationship breakdown.

How do you feel right now?
How does it feel to be alone?

My parents never asked me how I feel. These kind of emotions and questions are frowned upon when your ancestry comes from Eastern Europe.

I also grew up in life being told that angels are these all powerful beings that shine a bright light and can’t be hurt.

I suppose if you feel, you can get hurt. If you bleed, you can die. Or in the words of Schwarzenegger in “Predator”, “if it bleeds, we can kill it”.

The solo is excellent on this.

From just one album, Robertson was given a chance to do an instructional tape. His “Speed Picking” VHS tape is out there on the Net.

Between Two Hearts

Another song written by Dio and Robertson. It starts off with an acoustic arpeggio riff that reminds me of “Children Of The Sea”.

Then the slow groove kicks in, it’s almost like a blues dirge.

Check out the way Robertson plays the riffs in the second verse, combine palm muted arpeggios, diads and pedal tones.

Put on your party faces and come along
Join in the big parade
Here comes the camera
Do you look as good as your sister
Smile at the animals
They should be the ones in the cages
Turn the pages

A photo for Instagram before it was even invented.

Or a song about the paparazzi and the price of fame when we lived in a monoculture. These days, we live with many different sources informing us, and a person could be making millions from music and be walking the streets and shopping aisles with us and we wouldn’t even know.

Night Music

This one is written by Dio, Robertson and Bain.

So open up your arms
Let the night time in
Say the word and it begins

I love the night. I feel the most inspired then and there was nothing better than listening to music at night, reading the lyrics and singing out aloud, like the lyrics to this song, “Night music, you’re singer and I’m the song”.

Lock Up The Wolves

Another song written by Dio, Robertson and Bain.

The sound of a clock ticking. Its normal paced. Then it picks up in speed, almost frantic like. The music is ominous, giving the listener a feeling that time is running out. By the time the distorted guitars kick in, the ticking is relentlessly fast.

And the doom feel of the song reminds me of “Sign Of The Southern Cross”.

In the houses of the holy
To the middle of the mystic sea
At the cradle of the world

Its back to his fantasy places, about wolves, screaming for sanctuary and how there is no back door to heaven, just a front door to hell. I guess we’ll meet again.

Evil On Queen Street

Written by Dio, Robertson and Cook. It’s like a 12 bar blues dirge with another killer solo by Robertson.

Walk On Water

Written by Dio, Robertson and Johansson, it reminds me of “Stand Up And Shout” but while “Stand Up And Shout” screams rebellion, “Walk On Water” tells ya to not even try because you can’t “Walk On Water”.

The lead break is guitar hero worthy.

Twisted

A Dio, Robertson, Bain and Appice cut.

And when I told the truth
They were sure it was a lie

What would you do if no one believes you?

When your truth is seen as a lie.

Why Are They Watching Me

A Dio and Robertson cut.

It’s confusing lyrically, about being ready to rock and someone watching.

My Eyes

A Dio, Robertson and Johansson cut.

I’ve seen it from heaven and hell
I’ve seen it from the eyes of a stargazer

Great song titles to drop into a song.

Rock and roll eyes
Tell rock and roll lies
And rock and roll lies
Never end

I guess what happens in rock and roll stays in rock and roll.

“I think obviously, my defining moment is the “Lock Up the Wolves” album, and I feel very fortunate for it. It was a good album…it captured excitement and I played really well on it.”
Rowan Robertson

From memory it’s Robertson’s only album.

As soon as the album was released it was met with mixed reviews. Early sales were positive in the U.S and then the album spiralled down the charts as it disappeared altogether.

But it had longevity in the European markets as Dio’s brand was still big business there. So it was no surprise that the first leg of the tour was in Europe.

And Black Sabbath was a just a phone call away, and when that call came, the “Lock Up The Wolves” band was put on ice and never re-awakened after the Sabbath gig fell apart.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Six Degrees Of Separation – Marc Ferrari, Oni Logan and Rowan Robertson

Did you know that Marc Ferrari featured on Pantera’s “Power Metal” album that came out in 1988?

“Proud To Be Loud” was written by Marc Ferrari  and it was originally intended for Keel’s 1987 self-titled album. The song didn’t get used, however the Pantera guys heard the song back in 1985 when Keel was in town for a live performance and wanted to record it. Ferrari then went to Texas to produce the vocal on that track and he ended up playing rhythm guitar on the song and also lead guitar on another song called “We’ll Meet Again”.

Marc Ferrari then left Keel in February 1988, after the touring cycle ended for the self-titled album. After the tour, the band were about to change labels from MCA to Atlantic Records. With anything that is record company related, the band started getting pressure from the label to get that hit single like Bon Jovi. Ron Keel’s vision for the band was much different from Marc Ferrari’s vision and when a keyboard player was brought in, Marc Ferrari stepped out.

Then Ferrari discovered Oni Logan who at the time was working in Florida. Logan moved out to California to do some demos and showcases. The band was originally called Ferrari, then Crying Shame until they were told that they couldn’t use the name. Since they had a cool logo with the C and S intersecting, they tried to keep within the C and S theme and Cold Sweat came out of that.

Enter George Lynch.

Being a higher profile guitarist than Marc Ferrari, Logan was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and left Cold Sweat on the day they either entered the studio to record their debut album / or were meant to sign their major label contract (there are differing stories). Logan for his departure more or less slowed down the Cold Sweat project, nevertheless, he went off to create the excellent “Wicked Sensation” album with Lynch Mob that came out in 1990 on Elektra. The funny thing is that Cold Sweat’s debut “Break Out” which came out on MCA Records also came out the same year. However, the Lynch Mob album did far better than the Cold Sweat album.

Marc Ferrari then started working on another project called Medicine Wheel who recorded three records and had a decent following in Japan. The records were issued on a number of small independent labels in Germany and Japan. All of this happened between the years of 1992 and 1999.

Logan on the other hand was out of a job by 1991.

Enter Wendy Dio who suggested that Logan work with Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson. The “Lock Up The Wolves” era of Dio was put on hold while Ronnie James Dio reconnected with Tony Iommi for the “Dehumanizer” album that came out in 1992. The writing sessions between Logan and Robertson spawned the band Violets Demise.

Violets Demise managed to get a major record deal with Atlantic, however by the mid-nineties, the label money makers considered hard rock music not a commercially viable product, so the album that Violets Demise recorded with Alice In Chains producer Dave Jerden never saw the light of day officially, until 2002, when it was released as Logan/Robertson Revisited on Oni Logan’s website.

After disbanding Cold Sweat and while working with Medicine Wheel, Marc Ferrari started to get some of his songs placed in films and on TV, so he developed a business called MasterSource which is a music catalogue company that licenses its music primarily in films and on TV shows. And that gig along with the work that he does for Universal is still Ferrari’s main thing. Rather than waiting for things to happen Ferrari made things happen for himself.

So by the mid-nineties, while Logan took the big offer money deal from the Lynch camp to jump ship, it was actually Marc Ferrari that had a stable source of income and in general was better off. Just goes to show that the instant payola might be gratifying when it happens however in the long-term not so much.

Then by 1998, Logan was back with Lynch Mob and recording a demo (that ended up being released as the Syzygy EP on Lynch’s website) for the sole purpose of shopping to record labels to listen to and decide whether or not they wanted to sign the band. Meanwhile, Marc Ferrari also got back together with Ron Keel to finish and complete some of the unfinished tracks the band had lying around in the vault for the “Back In Action” album however his main gig was and is the MasterSource business. While Logan was involved in an EP to obtain a deal, Ferrari was involved in a full album release on an independent Canadian label.

Meanwhile Rowan Robertson fell into a slump after the demise of Violet Demise. However by 1998, he got an audition for a band called VAST. If you haven’t heard the excellent song “Touched” from the also excellent “Visual Audio Sensory Theater” that came in 1998, then you need to give it a listen.  The best way to explain VAST is Enigma meets Metallica meets The Beatles. Even though VAST was seen as Jon Crosby’s project, it was also seen as Robertson’s entry back into the music industry.

Comparing all three, by 1998, Marc Ferrari was way better off. He didn’t have the high-profile gig as Dio’s lead guitarist, nor was he as high-profile as George Lynch however what he did do was create for himself a position in the music business. He created opportunities when they didn’t exist and he diversified, focusing on licensing opportunities and music for television, films and games.

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Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

June, 1993

It’s June 1993 and I am flicking through the new issue of Hot Metal Magazine, which at the time was Australia’s premier metal and rock magazine. For $3.50 it was an excellent alternative to the overpriced American and British magazines.

On the cover there was the John Bush fronted Anthrax. Three members are wearing white t-shirts with blue Jeans, and two members are wearing black t-shirts with blue jeans. It was a sign of the changing times as publicists and record labels pushed their artists to have a more grungy look.

“The Sound Of White Noise” got 5 skulls in the magazine review, which equates to ‘KILLER’. A few months after it’s release the album was certified GOLD. This is probably the album that Scott Ian was referring too when he made his comments that in the past they would sell a shitload of albums.

It was a hungry album. John Bush’s transition from a struggling band to a major label act was the catalyst. It was an album chock full of metal “hits”. “Only” comes to mind straight away. Even James Hetfield called it the perfect song. “Black Lodge” didn’t sit out-of-place with the current crop of chart toppers in Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Credit producer Dave Jerden who produced both “Dirt” from Alice In Chains and “The Sound Of White Noise”. It was the last good Anthrax album and it is not even up on Spotify. Actually none of the John Bush-era of Anthrax is on Spotify which is a shame.

And the critics that said “Worship Music” is a great album cannot understand why it didn’t resonate with the audience. Look at the top ten songs on Spotify for Anthrax. Not one song from “Worhsip Music” is on the list. Same goes for YouTube.

Then you have the bloodbath from the Eighties scene.

Jani Lane (RIP) and Warrant had split and both acts had their contracts reduced to demo deals. So even though you had three albums that had moved 500,000 plus units each, they still ended up on the scrap-heap. Kik Tracee also split with vocalist Stephen Shareaux (bet he wished he tried harder for that Motley Crue vocalist spot) and both of them had been reduced to a demo deal. Looks like all the promo to sell the act just didn’t connect with the audience because in the end the songs where rubbish.

Meanwhile Rowan Robertson from “The Lock Up The Wolves” Dio era inked a deal with Atlantic Records for his new band that had Oni Logan from Lynch Mob on vocals. We all know that this didn’t end up going anywhere.

While, Roberston’s former employer, Dio (RIP) was working with WWIII guitarist Tracy G after his “Dehumanizer” venture with Black Sabbath went sour. These sessions would go on to create the “Strange Highways” album while Jake E.Lee was working with WWIII singer (and i use that term loosely) Mandy Lion.

Reports coming through at that time spoke about the new Bruce Dickinson solo album being an “updated, toughened up Santana vibe with a heavy leaning towards Peter Gabriel type atmospherics and experimentation.”  That album would become “Balls To Picasso” and apart from the song “Tears Of The Dragon” which sounds like an Iron Maiden song the rest of the album was a listen best avoided.

On the drug front we had David Lee Roth getting busted in New York after purchasing a $10 bag of weed. Seriously, for someone like his stature surely he could have done it more discreetly or gotten that $10 bag delivered to the studio. However, Roth is Roth and he decided that he should go out into the town and look for a dealer. On the other drug front, there was news that started coming out about Tim Kelly (RIP) from Slaughter who was alleged to have been involved in a major drug smuggling ring that was busted after a five-year investigation by the F.B.I.

Then we had the Motley Crue vs Vince Neil shenanigans.

The Vince Neil “Exposed” album got a good review in the magazine. I suppose it was inevitable that the solo album from Vince Neil would sound a lot like Motley Crue, even though NIkki Sixx insisted that Vince Neil had nothing to do with the creation of the songs in Motley Crue or the Motley sound. I think Nikki Sixx missed the memo that the actual voice plays a big part in the sound. Credit music business vet Phil Soussan for delivering a stellar performance in the songwriting department that helped kick-start Vince’s solo career.

Then on the other side you had “The Scream” with new singer Billy Scott battling to get their album done in time so that they can tour with Motley Crue as part of the singer transfer deal. For the uninitiated John Corabi from “The Scream” replaced Vince Neil in Motley Crue. However, the Crue’s album was REJECTED by Elektra Records. It wouldn’t be until the following year that the self-titled Motley Crue album saw the light of day. And within 6 months it disappeared from the public conversation and the tour got reduced from arena’s to theaters to getting cancelled.

Finally Pride and Glory was still on hold while Zakk Wylde worked with Ozzy Osbourne on the follow-up to “No More Tears”. Producers John Purdell and Duane Baron took over from Michael Wagener (who produced the first few songs and was then retained to mix the album until Micheal Beinhorn got involved). James Lomenzo was being used as a bass replacement for the recording sessions. The album that would become Ozzmosis would take another two more years before it saw the light of day and the style of the songs would be re-imagined into the modern sound of the day.

In the end the majority of artists mentioned above are still part of the music business in some way. And for the ones that aren’t, only death could separate them from the music world.

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