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

1985 – Part 2

With a DeLorean and a Flux Capacitor, the year is set for 1985.

Here we go.

Bon Jovi – 7800 Fahrenheit

JBJ hates this album as none of the songs get played live anymore. But to the fans who were there before “Slippery When Wet”, they either like it, understand it or ignore it.

For me, the band needed to get this album written as it pushed the melodic rock/metal sound from the debut to the limit, so a new clean slate was needed.

Check out the melodic guitar work of Richie Sambora on tracks like “The Price Of Love”, “Only Lonely”, “The Hardest Part Is The Night” and “Always Run To You”. And when it comes to balls to the wall riffing, “Tokyo Road”, “In And Out Of Love” and “King Of The Mountain” showcase that AC/DC vibe. The only track I don’t like is “Silent Night”.

Stryper – Soldiers Under Command

I heard “The Rock That Makes Me Roll” on a “Headbangers Heaven” compilation and I became a fan because of the riffs.

“Soldiers Under Command” (the track) is a metal tour de force. That intro riff, influenced by Judas Priest is excellent. “Makes Me Wanna Sing” is another song influenced by Judas Priest and their song “Running Wild”. Then again, so is Maiden with “The Wicker Man” intro riff.

“First Love” is a cool ballad. Probably one of their best ones, but it doesn’t get the dues it deserves because bigger cheesy ballads came after which got some MTV love.

“Waiting For A Love That’s Real” reminds me of “Faithfully” from Journey and “Purple Rain” from Prince, but in a rocking way. And the lead break in this song is guitar hero worthy.

“Surrender” is one of my favourite tracks. It’s got this progressive metal/power metal vibe in the vocals.

The riffs are excellent.

Y&T – Down For The Count

I played this album a few days ago for my boys. They are 15 and 14. And they started pressing “like” and saving songs to their playlists. Songs like “Summertime Girls”, “Anytime At All”, “Hands Of Time” and “In The Name Of Rock”.

I guess there is something about this album that makes 14/15 year old teens like it.

From a guitar point of view “Hands Of Time” stood out straight away and I still like it.

And the band that we knew as Y&T was on their way to breaking up. Leonard Haze would depart after this album and Joey Alves would depart after their 87 “Contagious” album. The fan base would also move on and there wasn’t enough new fans replacing the ones moving on.

Night Ranger – Seven Wishes

“Midnight Madness” is my favourite Night Ranger album, but “Seven Wishes” really tried to compete with it.

After this album, Night Ranger never captured that attitude and energy they had on the first three albums. And you know the saying, your attitude determines your altitude.

The guitar solos on “Seven Wishes” are wow. “Faces” has an awesome synth inspired chorus. “Four In The Morning” has an addictive vocal melody and the guitar leads, man, if they don’t get you playing air guitar, please check yourself for a pulse.

“If “I Need A Woman” was recorded by Robert Palmer, it would have been number 1.

“Sentimental Street” and the solo from Brad Gillis. Triple A, all the way.

“This Boy Needs To Rock” gets that rocking vibe happening again and another guitar solo that makes me play air guitar.

“Night Machine” has some cool guitar riffage and another Triple A lead break.

And I don’t know why these Night Ranger albums are not on Spotify. It’s the dumbest move ever to withhold em, unless you are in dispute with the label about what you should be paid.

Rush – Power Windows

Even if you don’t like the music, you would like the stories in the lyrics.

“Big Money” goes around the world, spreading greed and consuming all. “Big Money” weaves a mighty web and draws the flies. In “Grand Designs” there is so much poison in power.

The “Manhattan Project” tells us about a weapon that would settle the score and how the big bang shook the world at the Rising Sun.

“Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world, than the pride that divides when a colourful rag is unfurled” is classic Neil Peart from the song “Territories”.

In “Middletown Dreams”, dreams transport the ones who need to get out of town.

Accept – Metal Heart

Critics panned it, but hey, who listens to critics. The record label told them it’s a dud because it didn’t reach or outsell their previous efforts. But it’s my favourite Accept record.

“Metal Heart” has this open string riff, which defines the song. Lyrically, it’s 1999 and the human race needs to face some mysterious truth, like “judgement day” style, man versus machine.

Even when Metal bands tried to be serious or sound serious they still ended up sounding comedic.

With the Beethoven licks in the solo, you either like it or hate it.

“Midnight Mover” is basically Scorpions. The arpeggio lick/riff in the intro gets me interested. The single note riffs with pinch harmonics in the verse keeps the interest going. And even though the Chorus sounds very AOR, it’s still heavy metal.

Finally the lead break.

Wolf Hoffman doesn’t get the guitar hero crowns he deserves.

“Up To The Limit” is basically AC/DC. The bass from Peter Baltes just rolls along in the verses, while Hoffman and Fischer play staccato like power chords.

“Wrong Is Right” is basically Judas Priest. That verse riff could have come from the “Screaming For Vengeance” album.

“Screaming For A Love Bite” is a terrible title for a song, but I suppose that’s what makes it memorable. I’ve always enjoyed it when metal bands take major key riffs and put them into their mix. In keeping with themes of other bands, this one could have fitted nicely on a Journey album, even a Night Ranger album.

And like that Side 1 ends, with no filler whatsoever.

Side 2 kicks off with the very AC/DC sounding “Too High To Get It Right”. And how can you not like it, especially that gang like vocal in the Chorus.

“Dogs On Leads” is so underrated and also in the vein of AC/DC. The bass just rumbles while Hoffman plays jangly chords before it kicks into overdrive. Again, the gang like vocals are so loud, they remain with me long after the song is finished.

“Teach Us To Survive” sounds like it came from a Pink Panther movie. Jazz fusion metal.

Artist’s used to do this on albums before, like write a song that was a bit out there, but still rooted in metal. Then when albums became a two to three year cycle, it changed. Suddenly artists either played it safe and stayed true to what came before or they went completely different for the whole next album, not just for a track or two.

“Living For Tonite” has this pulsing bass, guitar and drum groove.

How can you not like it?

“Bound To Fail” is basically a power metal tune in the intro, but when the verses roll around, it’s got that blues rock swagger in the Chorus that Guns N Roses would bring to the masses on “Welcome To The Jungle”.

Again, how can you not like it?

And that’s a wrap for 1985, Part 2.

See you in 1977.

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1977 – V1

All of these albums I got many years later. Actually all of my 70’s music came well into the 90’s

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

I knew the songs before I even heard the album. There was no way you could escape AC/DC.

“Dog Eat Dog”, “Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be” and “Whole Lotta Rosie” were always on in car stereos and jukeboxes. The only tracks that were new to me, were “Go Down”, “Overdose” and “Crabsody In Blue” (which was substituted by “Problem Child” for the North American market.

And some of favourite AC/DC riffs are on this album, along with the lyrics, especially the social conscious themes of “Dog Eat Dog”. Plus for a blues based rock band, “Let There Be Rock” is an early precursors of speed metal.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell

In Australia, this album was still massive in the 80’s and it got even bigger in the 90’s when Meatloaf dropped Part 2. Like 25x Platinum like massive for Australia. And my favourite track (apart from the title track) is the ballad, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”.

It was also weird for me to read that another songwriter who is not part of the band solely wrote all the music.

I believe that the success of this album around the world is also down to the resilience that Steinman and Meat Loaf showed to get the album recorded, the band signed and eventually the album released.

Because the project started in 1972 and the songs got rejected because the label heads wanted to hear the typical “verse – chorus” arrangement, which as we know, Jim Steinman didn’t really abide by. Instead he relied more on the theatre/opera style of arrangements and the rest is history. In the US alone, the album is 14 x Platinum.

Queen – News Of The World

How do you follow up two successful albums with multi-tracked harmonies?

You go back to basics and rock out, which is exactly what Queen did with “News Of The World”.

There was no escaping “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” but my favourite track on this album is the John Deacon penned “Spread Your Wings”.

And a bonus mention for the Roger Taylor penned “Fight From The Inside”. Listen to it and you will hear how groovy and hard rock Queen could be. “American Woman” also comes to mind when I hear it. Slash said the guitar riff on this song is one of his favorites and it’s not even played by Brian May, but by drummer Roger Taylor, who also plays bass on the track.

Kansas – Point Of Know Return

I picked up the first five Kansas albums all in one swoop for less than $10. The covers got me interested and all I knew about the band was a few mentions by other artists in interviews from the progressive rock family.

That was it.

I had no idea about “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind”. And I played “Point Of Know Return” first because the cover was the best of all em and the song titles interested me.

So I dropped the needle and listened and read the credits and lyrics and became a fan.

Musically it’s a fusion of so many styles, blended in with the distorted sounds of hard rock and a band in top form.

Without Wikipedia or any form of internet to guide me, I had no idea how successful this band was or how their songs became radio staples in America. But it didn’t matter to me, because it these kind of discoveries when you go record hunting that remain.

Rush – A Farewell To Kings

After I was exposed to “Exit Stage Left” I was hooked and I started to seek out the Rush records I could find at the used record shops as CD’s in Australia, were still selling for $30. At one stage they got to $38. Seriously, the recording industry really over estimated their value.

This is album number 5 and the follow up to “2112” which was their make or break album. This fertile period of Rush would last to “Moving Pictures” in 1981 and then the synths would take over for about six years before they brought back the three piece sound.

And as a prog fan, I am always into songs which have sections, so “Cygnus X-1” was on my radar, but I was surprised by “Closer To The Heart” and that arpeggio guitar intro.

Foreigner – Foreigner

No one knew Mick Jones until this album dropped. No one knew the pipes on Lou Gramm until this album dropped.

Released in 1977, no one was sure if disco was ending or rock was starting.

And the album has some songs which are forgotten, but they rock as hard as anything I have heard.

A song like “Starrider” would work on any Deep Purple/Rainbow/Whitesnake album. Even on an Y&T or Scorpions album.

“The Damage Is Done” has this outro solo ending that reminds me of Santana or even “Winds Of Change” from Y&T. “At War With The World” could have come from a Rush album. There is so much variety on this album. It’s a shame that the first two cuts ruled everything.

Did I mention that “Cold As Ice” is also on this album?

Check out the debut.

That’s it for 1977 Part 1 and now we go back into the future for 2000 Part 2.

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Working Man

Alex Lifeson really gets to work on this song in the riffs and the guitar solos.

The opening riff could easily be used on a Metallica or Pantera album, it’s that heavy.

I get up at seven, yeah
And I go to work at nine
I got no time for livin’
Yes, I’m workin’ all the time

And when you add overtime to the mix which everyone would say yes to, as it added that little bit of extra in the pay, then there is zero time for living because you are working all the time.

But hey, you are thinking that the holidays are coming soon and you will have time for living then and you will go away with your family, but suddenly, you and your partner are disconnected because of all the time you spent away and your kids just don’t have that connection with you either.

It seems to me
I could live my life
A lot better than I think I am
I guess that’s why they call me
They call me the working man

Live to work or work to live. Jobs in the past provided security. It was the norm that someone would start and retire in the same job. My Dad did. These days it’s very different. There is a gig economy, part time work, casual work, full time work and most people have been in more than one job. Sometimes a lot of jobs.

The thing I like about music is when artists are creative.

From the 2 minute mark “Working Man” changes. That whole lead section and that riff from 3.10 is basically a song within a song. And it keeps going, so far removed from the pop formula of verse, chorus and bridge.

Then at the 5.20 mark the song comes back to the original music. After 7 plus minutes, the only option left is to press repeat.

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2112

It’s back in the charts.

Death is a business and the death of a member always gets new people listening because of curiosity and old fans reminiscing about the album which we all know, was a make or break album for the band.

If there is a lesson here, it’s to do things your way. Don’t give up your vision and your identity and stay true to yourself. This viewpoint led Rush to a 40 plus year career.

And they’ve sold more albums recently than new releases have in the last week.

As the article states;

From January 10th through January 16th, the band sold 24,600 albums in the U.S., an increase of more than 1,000 percent compared with the previous week. The “2112” LP led the way, moving 12,800 total album units last week.

As for streaming, it’s as expected with “Tom Sawyer”, “Limelight”, “The Spirit of Radio” and “YYZ” leading the way. Because what else would the Spotify algorithm recommend except the most listened to songs.

And the “2112” story about a musician in an oppressive regime gets all the attention, but “A Passage To Bangkok”, “Tears” and “Twilight Zone” are also worthy.

That guitar riffs from “A Passage To Bangkok” gets me to pick up the guitar. The intro riff is a great riff and the movable D shape chord progression in the Chorus.

“Tears” has that F major to A major chord progression with an unbelievable vocal melody.

“Twilight Zone” has that Am7 riff in the Chorus when Geddy is singing “Na Na Na, you have entered the twilight zone” section which always gets me to stop and pay attention. It’s the mood.

But the best part is Alex Lifeson’s emotive guitar solo from about the 17 minute mark in “2112”.

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Driven

It was one of the first tracks finished for the “Test For Echo” album, featuring three separate bass tracks; the main part, the harmony part and the sub bass bottom end, which sound as one massive bass track. If you need any more evidence about the abilities of Geddy Lee, look no further.

Neil Peart also plays a little bit behind the beat which gives the riffs a heavier character.

Driven up and down in circles
Skidding down a road of black ice

You know the saying of “going round in circles” well in this case, the feeling is that we are not achieving anything because someone else is controlling the wheel and we keep coming back to the same point or problem.

But it’s my turn to drive

We need to take the wheel and be in control of our choices and decisions. We need to learn from them, grown with them and take ownership of our choices and actions. There is no one to blame when it’s our turn to drive.

And how the change from distortion to acoustic in this section is soothing before the fuzz kicks in again. Plus the simple chord progression of F, G and Am makes it so accessible.

Driven to the margin of error
Driven to the edge of control
Driven to the margin of terror
Driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole

How driven or ambitious can we be, that we find ourselves driven to the edge of control, or a deep dark hole?

Driven on
By the road to somewhere I’ve never been

A simple meaning of what it means to drive. It offers us the freedom to leave our city limits and go to another city and another.

And these days, technology companies scan between 150 million and 200 million photos of license plates captured by cameras in malls, parking lots, and residential neighborhoods every month, to amass huge information on the data point locations of cars, which they then use to sell to the police.

If the police want to know the whereabouts of a number plate and where that plate had been in the past, this company can tell them.

That’s why we drive on to roads we’ve never been and cameras have never been.

The road unwinds before me
And I go riding on

It’s what we always do, we get up and live and go riding on. And we sacrifice or give up control, a little bit of our freedom each time which brings us back to the first verse and the words of being driven up and down in circles.

And the cycle repeats.

And after the “Test For Echo” tour, the band was put on hold as Neil Peart would see tragedy with the passing of his daughter and a year later, his wife.

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Test For Echo

Here we go in slow mo

To me, it’s the best Rush song from the 90’s.

The guitar riffs from Alex Lifeson are so easy to digest, powerful, heavy and groovy, even when they are down tuned a whole step.

 “There’s a lot of different stuff on there. I tuned the guitar down a whole step to a D standard tuning. I got a new Les Paul Custom with beautiful sustain, a heavy tone and a compact, but not too small, sound. In the choruses I used a Godin Acousti-Caster, which has a really interesting sound that is at the same time almost acoustic but definitely electric.
Alex Lifeson In Guitar World

Lifeson begins the song with interesting arpeggios. He achieves the unique sounds by combining root five power chords and leaving the 1st and 2nd strings open.

The song works in any style and it could have fitted on any of their earlier albums from “Fly By Night” to “Signals” and it would not have been out of place.

Geddy Lee and Neil Peart lay down a solid foundation, especially in the Chorus, when Lifeson just plays those arpeggios and Lee and Lifeson, set the groove.

Also check out how Peart plays a subdued half time beat in the verses and then starts to pick it up double time. A good drummer could make a simple riff sound fresh by doing just that.

 “I feel like we arrived with this record. There’s a particular feel that I don’t think we had before—a nice groove and a lot of really good Rush songs. I feel like we were all really together on this album. Although we strive for that all the time, it’s not always achievable. The mood was so good in the studio, and we were so unified in direction.”
Alex Lifeson In Guitar World

And of course, no Rush song is complete without the lyrics of Peart, a critique of the American justice system which turns criminals into media stars.

“It’s about the numbing process that happens when we are exposed to great tragedies and then were exposed to moments of hilarity. I feel that that’s the condition of contemporary man now – when we read the paper or when we watch TV, were not sure if were supposed to laugh.”
Geddy Lee

Some kind of trouble on the sensory screen
Camera curves over caved-in cop cars

As technology progressed so did the coverage of real time situations. It’s one of the big reasons people watched the news to begin with, to see what was breaking.

Don’t touch that dial,
We’re in denial

We didn’t touch the dial at all, we just kept upgrading our TVs, giving the TV makers billions of dollars in revenue. Because we loved having all of this entertainment in our houses.

Now crime’s in syndication on TV

Crime and sex always got eyeballs. It didn’t matter the medium. And now with the internet, where everything is available, it feels like we are all so desensitized to it.

Here we go, vertigo
Video vertigo
Test for echo

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1978 – Part 2 – “Never Say Die To Infinity” said the Hemispheres

It’s hard to believe that in 2019, I still listen to albums released in 1978, 41 years ago, but in the 80’s like 1986, I couldn’t fathom listening to music from 1945. And I still cant.

My eldest one, who is is 14, listens to 70’s music. Last night, “Free Bird” from Lynyrd Skynyrd was cranked. The middle child, who is 13, has been cranking “Sultans Of Swing”, “Aint Talkin Bout Love” and “Eruption” as they both fumble around the fretboard learning the songs on guitar. So the 70s are back baby.

Here is part one and now for Part two.

And here is the Spotify playlist.

Journey – Infinity

The wheel in the sky keeps on turning alright. Robert Fleischman was hired as the new vocalist before being un-hired and Steve Perry was in. Fleischman would resurface many years later as part of Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion.

This is Journey before the mainstream hits, but the start of what would become the commercial beast. And the bluesy Hendrix like “Lights” kicks it off.

How good is the guitar solo from about the 2 minute mark from Neal Schon?

“Anytime” sounds like an ELO/Eagles song merged with “Who Are You” from The Who. And I like it, especially when Schon comes to town with his bends and legato during the solo.

“La Do Da” comes from out of nowhere, a speed rock track, the anti-hero to the laid back Southern Rock vibe of the first three tracks.

“Patiently” is one of my favourite tracks from Journey, especially from about 2.10 and to the end. Listen to Schon wail with a bunch of sing along licks. And it’s progressive in its song writing.

And the piece d resistance is “Wheel In The Sky”. It hypnotised me to pick up the guitar and start learning it, from the opening notes. And Perry’s vocals are perfect, sorrowful and emotive.

How good is the intro to “Winds Of March”?

It’s like “Battery” from Metallica to me. And I am sure Dave Meniketti was listening and being influenced here, for “Winds Of Change”. Then it changes into a rocker from about 2.50 minute mark and I am tapping my fingers, and Schon begins to wail about the 3.50 minute mark and its beautiful and inspirational.

Whitesnake – Trouble

David Coverdale is rolling along with his post Deep Purple career. “Trouble” is known as the first Whitesnake album, however after the success of the 1987 album, the David Coverdale solo albums “White Snake” and “Northwinds” got re-released and some still see those as the beginning.

The album is a product of its era.

“Take Me With You” kicks off the album and it’s a blast. You just need to listen to it for the lyrics. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Slash was listening to this track, as it sounds like certain riffs made their way into “Appetite For Destruction”.

“Love To Keep You Warm” ended up as a lyric on the road to “Judgement Day”.

“Nighthawk (Vampire Blues) will never sound dated. It’s one of those tracks that sounded good in 1978 and it will still sound good in 2019. Greta Van Fleet should cover it.

“The Time Is Right For Love” is a good track that is relevant in any era and I thought it would have been re-recorded for a Whitesnake album in the 80’s, going into the 90’s, but after “Slip Of The Tongue”, Coverdale, dissolved Whitesnake to team up with Jimmy Page, and then when Page went back to Robert Plant for a side project, Whitesnake came back with Adrian Vandenberg and Warren DeMartini on guitars. (Takes a breath).

“Trouble” is very Bad Company like, and I like it, especially the lyrics, “on the road again, looking for a place to hide, everywhere I look, there is trouble, trouble always coming my way.”

“Free Flight” is a jazz fusion blues rocker that could have come from “Come Taste The Band”. And while it doesn’t contain the hits, the album does contain some serious riffage and jamming, which I dig.

Judas Priest – Stained Class

This album was really ignored by the media and the fans, until the 80’s satanic panic and subsequent lawsuits brought it back into the public conversation.

For those who don’t know the story, and according to Wikipedia, Judas Priest got taken to trial in a civil suit, by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered into a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after allegedly listening to “Better by You, Better than Me” on 23 December 1985.

Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left critically injured after surviving a self-inflicted gunshot to the facial area, eventually dying of a methadone overdose three years later.

In this case, the events and outcomes are tragic, but there is always someone looking to blame someone else for their predicament. And there are always people (like lawyers and prosecutors) looking to prey on people’s weakness and sense of loss.

A lawyer tried to convince a judge that the “Stained Class” album and the song “Better by You, Better than Me” (which isn’t even a Judas Priest song, it’s a cover) had subliminal messages on it, that said “do it” and that would make kids take their lives. In the name of free speech and the ludicrous nature of the suit (seriously, why would a band want to kill the very people who would buy their product), it was dismissed.

But the album is important in a few ways;

  • The iconic Judas Priest logo made its debut.
  • It’s seen as an early thrash metal album, with wannabe artists all over Europe lapping up the fast picking and surgical precision of the riffs.
  • Its darkness and aggression is fuelled by the anti-metal movement that started happening in the UK, as Punk and New Wave was getting all the attention and metal had a few comical mentions.

“Exciter” kicks off the album with double kick and speed pedal point riffs. “Stained Class” has a cool “Barracuda” pedal point riff. “Saints In Hell” is not in the live repertoire of Judas Priest, but the song has a lot of movements, which keeps it interesting.

“Beyond The Realms Of Death” is a favourite, especially with its nod to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” but also for its song writing and various movements. Chris De Garmo would have been listening very intently to this, as it sounds like “The Warning” album came from influences like this.

“Fire Burns Below” is the embryo of what Judas Priest would become in the 80’s.

The Metalian was starting to form.

Rush – Hemispheres

One of their best albums and their most progressive. They knew they had reached a pinnacle here and what would come next would be much shorter and concise songs, sort of like how Metallica reached a pinnacle with the “Justice” album and needed to strip it back, which they did with the self-titled and mega gazillion selling “Black” album.

And the reason why I call this one of their best albums is because of “La Villa Strangiato”, a song that took them longer to record than the whole “Fly By Night” album.

I didn’t give Rush a good shake until I really got into Dream Theater on the “Images And Words” album.

Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres

18 minutes and all the different musical movements are enough to get me interested for a few reasons. And it’s all because of Alex Lifeson.

Alex Lifeson’s use of open strings (the high E and B strings) with moving power chords was inspirational. It just made sections sound bigger than what they should. It was a style I incorporated straight away.

His combination of using palm muted arpeggios and single note riffs also proved to be very inspirational. At that point in time, I was very heavily into playing open string pedal point riffs with power chords underneath.

His use of acoustic guitars was unique, bordering on his Eastern European Serbian folk roots, Spanish flamenco, pop music and classical music.

Finally, his unique guitar solos made him sound very different to the blues rock and classical shred like soloists I was used to hearing.

“Circumstances” sounds like the hard rock I listened too, with pedal point riffs in the intro. But from about 50 seconds, the song morphs and I was entranced to pick up the guitar and learn the section. By a 1.15 seconds, 25 seconds later it was all over.

And that’s how my Rush relationship is. Sections of certain songs hook me in.

Like the intro to “The Trees”. It’s acoustic intro sounds like it came from medieval England. And after 40 seconds, the song changes into a rocker. The lyrics made me laugh when I was younger, and they still make me laugh now, especially when Geddy Lee sings, “why can’t the maples be happy?” or “the maples scream oppression” or “the maples formed a union”. 

Goddamn Maples, they can never be happy.

And that section from about 2.20 when Lifeson starts to play this repeating arpeggio lick/riff. Again, I was picking up the guitar to learn it and jam it, but then I started learning Geddy’s bass riff, as it sounded so good on distorted guitar and very different to Lifeson’s guitar riff.

“La Villa Strangiato” sums up everything about Rush which I love and I am so glad they didn’t try to repeat it or try to rewrite it for another album.

It stands out as the RUSH song for me, and if anyone asks what’s the big deal about Rush, I play them this song and I comment about each section and movement for a few seconds and allow them to bask in the sounds filling the room.

It’s an instrumental but there is no way you could ever be bored by it. It doesn’t have any guitar wankery. It just grooves and rolls until it comes up to the 3.18 minute mark where the song slows down.

This is when Alex Lifeson becomes a god.

He starts off the solo with volume swells.

It’s eerie, before he brings in a few blues licks to make it sorrowful.

At 4.27, it gets louder, and his bending those strings, bleeding pain out of those frets. In the background Neal Peart, is building the beast.

At 5.15, Lifeson starts this palm muted Am to F arpeggio. Peart is double-time on the drums, and Lee is playing the bass synth until they all join in and start the Swinging 30’s section. This is when Bugs Bunny is running away from Elmer Fudd. That is the memory I got from it.

Then there’s a bass solo.

Then a drum solo.

Then an unconventional guitar solo at the 6.50 minute mark.

At 7.29, it changes again.

At 7.53, the Swinging 30’s is back. First at half time, then at full speed.

And the song transitions back to the main intro riff to close out a 9 plus minute song in perfection.

And the album is over.

Until I dropped the needle again onto the last track.

Scorpions – Tokyo Tapes

I got this dubbed on a cassette from a mate, who had dubbed it onto a cassette from a cousin, who dubbed it onto a cassette from his girlfriend’s brother. Quick, call the cops, piracy is on the loose and killing the recording industry.

The end of the Uli Jon Roth era on guitar and a band in top form.

Stand out live performances along with fake crowd noises and claps are “Pictured Life”, “In Trance”, “Well Burn The Sky”, “Fly To The Rainbow”, “He’s A Woman – She’s A Man”, “Top Of The Bill” and “Steamrock Fever”.

Scorpions – Taken By Force

The last studio album with Uli Jon Roth, kicks off with “Steamrock Fever” and I like the music a lot more than the lyrics. “We’ll Burn The Sky” is better lyrically and musically.

Two of my favourite Scorpion tracks are up next in “I’ve Got To Be Free” and “The Riot Of Your Time”.

“I’ve got to be free to live my life alone” is the catch cry, a very Hendrix inspired song musically and it doesn’t sound dated at all.  And the acoustic guitars in “The Riot Of Your Time” are perfect, but the chorus, musically and lyrically is brilliant. Listen to it if you don’t believe me.

The piece d’resistance from a guitar point of view, is “The Sails Of Charon”. But I listen to “Your Light” more, because of its sexy groove, which makes me want to pick up the guitar, especially in the verses. And the way it rolls, it’s a rock song, but I feel like I’m sipping Pina Colada’s on an island in the Caribbean’s.

“He’s A Woman – She’s A Man” has got some Metallica like breakdowns in it, which is cool.

Black Sabbath – Never Say Die

It’s not like it’s such a bad album, it’s just that they lost their darkness. “Never Says Die” sounds like it could have come from Thin Lizzy or ELO or Styx. “Johnny Blade” musically sounds like a Rush song, hell, the riff in the verses sounds like it came from “La Villa Strangiato”.

“Junior’s Eyes” is classic Sabbath in everything except the title. “A Hard Road” sounds more like a Status Quo track but it’s roots are from the placenta of “Children of The Grave”. “Shock Wave” is a Sabbath song through and through.

The best track on the album is “Air Dance”. It has this harmony intro which is too good to not like. Then it morphs into an acoustic/piano piece for the verses. It’s progressive in its song writing and as fans of artists, you want them to grow a little bit and add some different textures.

Especially at the 3.56 mark, it goes into a prog rock style piece, which is some of the best stuff Sabbath has written. Because that is what Sabbath was/is. A band that pushed boundaries and defied categorisation. Hell, there is a synth lead in it, as I start to cough out the sweet leaf.

“Over To You” was re-written and called “Little Dolls”. If it works for Ozzy’s solo career, it works for Sabbath for me. “Breakout” has the brass instruments, but there is no denying the power of that riff as it sludge’s sleazily along.

Styx – Pieces of Eight

I like Styx as a progressive rock band which has a few “simply” rock songs here and there. This album is a favourite, because it hits both those points for me. It’s progressive in its song writing and it has “accessible” songs.

“Great White Hope” gallops along in the intro and it’s a product of its time.

“I’m O.K” is interesting with its major key uplifting riffs, and “Walk This Way” style drums in the intro, and then the verses sound like a church sermon.“Sing For The Day” has a progressive synth intro which I dig. And the multi-layered Chorus melody is cool, but I’m more of a fan of the music.

“Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) has a riff which is tasty to play on guitar. And how good is the Chorus, musically, lyrically and melodically. Makes me press repeat instantly. “Queen Of Spades” is a combination of progressive song writing and accessible melodies. And the breakdown section from about the 3.20 minute mark is perfect.

But the piece d resistance here is “Renegade”.

First the acapella vocals and it sounds like it’s coming from the Mississippi Delta.

Then the funk rock fusion riff kicks in and it’s time to rock and funk.

And the solo. The music stops, and a dirty sounding guitar unleashes a flurry of pentatonic lines which wash over me. Then the band comes in and it’s all systems go. And when you think it’s over, it keeps going for a little but more.

Then the drums and vocals section. Jon Bon Jovi would have been listening intently as “You Give Love A Bad Name” has a similar set up after the solo.

Play that funky rock and roll, I say.

“Pieces Of Eight” is a brilliant piece of song writing. It has so many movements in the song, especially from the 2.20 minute mark. It’s pure bliss.

The Alan Parsons Project – Pyramid

Alan Parsons got no love in Australia or non that I could remember. I started to hear his work in the early 2000’s. And I became a fan. I got what he was trying to do, I really enjoyed the song structures, the jams and atmospherics.

The way “Voyager” starts off in the first 20 seconds, it’s how thrash metal acts build their clean tone intros. And the song segues into “What Goes Up”, a laid back tune which segues into “The Eagle Will Rise Again” and one of my favourite acoustic arpeggio riffs because it sounds so powerful.

Play four notes, stop and let them ring. But the rest of the song is not as strong as that verse riff. At one stage, I swear I thought “Listen To My Heart” from Roxette came from this song. “One More River” has a clean tone single note riff, which sounds wicked when played with distortion.  

“In The Lap Of Gods” is a cinematic instrumental. Well, that’s what I call it. It feels like it’s written to moving pictures and I like it. Especially from the 4.10 minute mark when those Latin style “Excalibur” voices come in, along with the violins.

I press repeat, to hear it one more time, and to close off Part 2 of 1978.

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

1984 – V – Grace Under Pressure

If you are curious here are parts one, two, three and four of the 1984 series.

Pretty Maids – Red Hot And Heavy

I didn’t hear this album until the early two thousands. I had “Future World” on LP, however any other release by the band was available via an expensive IMPORT price of $50 to $70 Australian. And then Napster came along, and then Audio Galaxy, LimeWire and cloud sites like Rapid Share. Suddenly, people’s music collections were available everywhere and at any time.

For this album there was no dropping the needle, it was all about putting on my headphones, plugging them into the computer and pressing play to the mp3 tracks, lined up WINAMP.

It kicks off with what I know as the “Excalibur” theme, and others know as ‘O Fortuna’.

“Back To Back” and “Cold Killer” have cool riffs and show off their NWOBHM influences.

“Red Hot and Heavy” shows off it’s Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest and Scorpions influences.

“Waitin’ For The Time” and “A Place In The Night” are AOR Melodic Rock to a tee.

And that’s why I always enjoyed the albums from “Pretty Maids”. Like Dokken and Y&T, they lived somewhere in between heavy metal and hard rock and melodic pop.

Rush – Grace Under Pressure

Ernest Hemingway said “Courage is grace under pressure.”

And when you are pushing towards the mid 80s, Rush showed true courage in delivering another album full of synth rock. Hell, talk about courage, some songs don’t even feature any bass guitar.

“Distant Early Warning” has a keyboard riff which sounds excellent played on a distorted guitar.

“Afterimage” is my favourite track and “Red Sector A” has this riff from about the 1.10 mark, which makes me press repeat on this track.

This is also the track which has no bass guitar

“Are we the last ones left alive? Are we the only human beings to survive?”

And its these first three tracks which still get played to this day.

The Alan Parsons Project  – Ammonia Avenue

The album came out in February 1984 and it was meant to capitalize on the platinum success of “Eye In The Sky”. And although it went Gold, the album was seen as a failure. MTV was a game changer and if you looked like a studio band, you didn’t stand a chance with a new empowered generation of rock and metal heads.

But to me there are always a few cool tracks on APP albums which I can relate to.

On this one, “Let Me Go Home”, “Dancing On A High Wire” and Pipeline” are stand outs.

Chris DeBurgh – Man On The Line

Chris DeBurgh doesn’t get enough credit as a Rocker because his ballad, “Lady In Red” was so huge, it dwarfed everything else he released. Then again, each album he did release always had more ballads than rockers.

“The Ecstasy Of Flight (I Love The Night)” is the song which stood out for me and I remember hearing it on a music video show and taping it.

Midnight Oil – Red Sails In The Sunset

They write songs about Australia, our environment, our history, our culture and our attitudes.

And it resonated and connected with people.

“Kosciusko” and “When The Generals Talk” are the standouts here.

Meatloaf‘s “Bad Attitude” didn’t have anything earth shattering on it, but the title track and “Surfs Up” are derivative versions of previous Meatloaf songs and are a cool listen.

Billy Squier – Signs Of Life

It all comes back to the “Rock Me Tonite” video.

Cheesy; yes, terrible idea; yes, but did it really kill Squier’s career because in the 80s there was a lot of cheesy bad videos for artists.

Squier like many others had some success early on and then struggled to duplicate it. Twisted Sister comes to mind immediately and so does Quiet Riot. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have good songs, it’s just the audience had moved on.

“All Night Long” is excellent while “Reach For The Sky” has a feel and groove borrowed from The Police and Gotye used a similar groove and feel for “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Quick call the lawyers.

“Hand Me Downs” borrows from “Long Way To The Top” in the verses. Quick call the lawyers again.

Don Henley – Building The Perfect Beast

“The Boys Of Summer” was everywhere and what a song. I didn’t hear the rest of the album until the late 90s. Other tracks which stand out to me are “Not Enough Love In The World”, “Driving With Our Eyes Closed” and “Land Of The Living”.

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

1982 – VI – Rough And Ready Rider In A Supersonic Sound Machine

 

Van Halen – Diver Down

“I’d rather have a bomb with one of my own songs than a hit with someone else’s.”

EVH

It was well into the Nineties that I finally gave money for “Diver Down”. The fact that it had so many cover songs on it, made me ignore it.

The album cover displayed the red and white colours that EVH is famous for and up until the internet era, I had no idea that it was the “diver down” flag which indicates a SCUBA diver is currently submerged in the area.

The Eighties was the era when records ruled the world and Van Halen (along with some hidden coaching from the label and management) decided to came out with this album.

But there is a story behind it.

The “Fair Warning” tour finished and the band recorded “Oh Pretty Woman” and released it as a single, just to tell its fan’s the band is still here. But, “Pretty Woman” started climbing the charts and the label started pressuring VH for an album. 12 days later, “Diver Down” was complete.

Van Halen was on target to have another hit with someone else’s song.

From an original point of view, “Hang Em High”, the instrumental “Cathedral”, “Little Guitars (with the intro)” and the country blues tinged “The Full Bug” are good cuts. The rest, not so much…

From the cover songs, “Oh Pretty Woman” is okay and it was the song that gave the record label the idea to push VH into the studio for a full album.

“Hang Em High”

“Hang ‘Em High” can trace its roots back to the band’s 1977 demos as “Last Night”, which had the same music but different lyrics. It’s funny how that first demo tape had so many songs that would come to life many years later, and in the case of “A Different Kind Of Truth”. Seven tracks that appear on the album are based on material written between 1975 and 1977.

And David Lee Roth is not the greatest vocalist or lyricist. ATTITUDE! That’s what DLR was good at delivering. And Van Halen songs had plenty of attitude.

“Cathedral”

EVH had been doing ‘Cathedral’ live prior to putting it on a record. From a guitar point of view, he is using his volume knob to get the volume swells happening.

“Little Guitars (plus the classical sounding introduction)

This is Eddie cheating at playing flamenco based on hearing Carlos Montoya. With a pick he is doing the trills on the high E string, pull offs with his left hand and slapping with his middle finger on the low E.

It was all about getting a clip onto MTV. Suddenly bands saw record sales jump and they played to full houses nearly everywhere. By 1982, it was a new golden era that was beginning.

MSG – Assault Attack

As I get older, I am starting to realize almost no one is remembered. Michael Schenker is one such person that is unknown to a lot of kids aged 25 and under.

It didn’t used to be that way.

It was 1982, when Michael Schenker received a call from Ozzy about joining after Randy Rhoads died in the plane crash. But Schenker was in the middle of making the “Assault Attack” album with Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell. Peter Mensch (Manager) wanted David Coverdale to front the band. This caused a disagreement, and Mensch was out. A couple of bad moves by Schenker here.

As Mensch is still rocking and managing in 2015 to great success and if he joined Ozzy, who knows what kind of career he would have had post Ozzy. However, Schenker has been reduced to playing clubs and theatres.

He never really had any hits with MSG like he did with UFO.

Martin Birch is on hand to produce, fresh from doing “The Number Of The Beast” with Iron Maiden. But the album only has two decent songs.

“Desert Song”

It kicks of Side 2 on the vinyl. It’s written by Schenker and Bonnet. Musically, the song is excellent. Melodically the song is excellent. Can’t say I am a fan of the lyrics, but I’ll let that slide, because the music is magical.

A great riff is a great riff, never forget it! UFO fans would note that Schenker used his riff from “Love To Love” to maximum rock effect on this one.

“Assault Attack”

It kicks of Side 1 on the vinyl. It’s written by Schenker, Bonnet, Chris Glen and Ted McKenna. It’s got a good groove and the cool chorus.

History has shown that not a lot of guitarist reached the same level of success as they did with previous bands because in the end, it don’t matter how great you play guitar, if you don’t have a vocalist that can sell your message and connect with people lyrically, it all goes to crap.

But Schenker is still out there doing it. He has been ripped off, survived bankruptcy, survived addictions and he still gets up on stage and produces the goods.

Schenker is an individual.

He is a survivor.

Rainbow – Straight Between The Eyes

Ritchie Blackmore is another that is unknown to a lot of kids under the age of 25. This album was another purchase via the various record fairs that used to pop up at Parramatta Town Hall every three months. Dio led Rainbow is brilliant, however I also hold the Joe Lynn Turner (JLT) led version of the band high as well.

It’s because the heart and soul of the band, Ritchie Blackmore was still there and firing on all cylinders and JLT was a more of a AOR style of singer, which worked perfectly for the early Eighties. A lot of people think that Joe Lynn Turner pushed Rainbow into a more AOR type band however it was a combination of Ritchie wanting to pursue that direction as well and Joe Lynn Turner being on board.

Side one kicks off with the Blackmore and Turner composition known as “Death Alley Driver”.

Joe Lynn Turner said the following about the song:

That song was about drug runs on 1 and 9. Springsteen wrote about Highway 9. That highway goes all the way through from the pier to New York. That song, I wrote about going on a drug run on Highway 9. I was with a friend, who I found out I really didn’t know that well. I ended up in this place where there were all these machine guns. This guy was a doctor that was brought in to analyze the cocaine that was coming in from Columbia. There were pounds of it. I stood there and I was thinking, “What did you get me into to?” He was all coked out and I was like, “Get me outta here.” I was sweating bullets. I wrote the song about that. Highway 9 is a crap highway. It is a two lane highway about as wide as an alley but it was the run where you went to get the Columbian blow, which was the best blow around.

Rough and ready rider, in a supersonic sound machine
Rock and roll survivor, chrome pipes between your knees

It’s an excellent opening to introduce the album. It has so many words relevant to the era. The rite of passage in 1982 was to own a car, a fast muscle car was preferred. Then insert a cool stereo so that rock and roll music can play from it, all day and all night.

Another dirty angel, heading straight to hell

The song is full of good lines like the above.

Next up is “Stone Cold”. This cut is written by Blackmore, Turner and Roger Glover. It’s a broken heart type of song, written in the middle of a snow storm.

This is what Turner had to say about the song:

“We were out on the first tour and Roger had been left by his wife for a famous race car driver. He was very, very broken up over it. I looked in his room and I said, “Rog, let’s go to the bar.” He looked up at me and he had crying eyes.” I said, “What happened?” He just looked at me and said, “She just stone cold up and left me.” I knew there was a song there. I ran back to my room and started writing the lyrics. It didn’t come to fruition until we got the music. Ritchie would record a bunch of tracks and Roger and I would go through them and we would find the song and then we would teach it back to Ritchie. All Ritchie would do is jam on music and then we would take these pieces of music and make songs. We would then rehearse the song and work it all out.”

 Familiar strangers with nothing to say

So true, when the relationship goes bad.

Track number 3 is “Bring On the Night (Dream Chaser)”. This cut is also written by Blackmore, Turner and Glover.

This is what Turner had to say about the song:

Ritchie wrote the music and Roger had a part during the B section but the lyrics are all about me. It is all about trying to get into this business. All of those verses were about me.

I was taking a chance on a tight-rope
Walking the line to the end

If you want to be a musician, you need to be in it until the end. You don’t check out because there is no money. You keep on persisting because you believe in the music, the message of your songs, the thrill of the performance or online adulation.

“Tite Squeeze”

Love the riff and groove of this song, but hate the lyrics and song title.

“Tearin’ Out My Heart”

I actually dig this one. It’s got a lot of drama around the peaks and lows.

Side two kicks off with “Power”.

JLT mentioned that “Power” is an autobiographical song.

I get knocked down…get right back up again
Cause I never give up and I never give in…

Refer to “Bring On The Night (Dream Chaser)”.

Midnight Oil – 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

I finally listened to all of Midnight Oil’s albums on Spotify. I never owned any of their albums, but I knew their singles. I had most of them recorded on a VHS cassette tape from the various TV stations that played music videos. Hell, in the early Nineties I even watched a few of their shows.

Was I fan of the band?

Yes I was.

Did I own any of their music?

No I didn’t.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is the fourth album by Midnight Oil.

Coming into making the album, the Oils had their backs to the wall. They wanted to achieve their success in their own way, while the label had their own ideas. A commitment was made to roll the dice one last time. If they failed, the band would break up.

But they didn’t fail.

In Australia the album remained on the chart for 3 years and it was certified 7 times platinum. By the time “Diesel and Dust” came outthree years later, they would become international stars.

Again I only knew of the singles and after listening to the full album on Spotify, I can say that the singles are miles ahead the rest of the album.

“Short Memory”.  It’s written by Peter Garrett, drummer Rob Hirst and guitarist Jim Moginie. It’s built around Moginie’s “SundayBloody Sunday” style riffing. Lyrically, the song deals with a lot of human tragedy.

The story of El Salvador, The silence of Hiroshima, , Destruction of Cambodia, Short memory

Can any artist get three different events that happened in three different places all in a verse?

Midnight Oil always wrote lyrics with a nod to politics and how politics affected our way of life. In the end, what a short memory we have when it comes to human actions and the suffering humans have caused to other humans.

“Read About It” and it’s written by the Garrett, Hirst and Moginie team. That intro riff is brilliant. I wanted it to play forever.

The rich get richer, The poor get the picture, The bombs never hit you when you’re down so low

The working class of Australia latched on to the Oils. They wrote about what we felt.

You wouldn’t read about it, Read about it

Rupert Murdoch, with his newspapers in Australia, report an agenda that suits the profits of News Limited. There is nothing impartial in their articles. Just recently, News Limited lost the EPL hosting rights in Australia to Optus, so how does Murdoch respond. He launches a campaign against football in the country, just because he lost the rights.

The hammer and sickle, The news is at a trickle, The commisars are fickle but the stockpile grows

Love this verse.

The commies controlled the story and in democratic countries the corporations control the story. Both will report on whatever suits their own agenda. Especially, when the news outlets went onto the stock exchange, got shareholders and profits became the be all and end all, instead of the story.

“U.S Forces”

A protest song against US foreign policy, “US Forces” is written by Garrett and Moginie. It was a song that was brought up when Garrett became a Federal Minister.

U.S. forces give the nod, It’s a setback for your country

Perception is powerful. The U.S has done itself no favours in putting itself into situations with no favourable outcome. Hell, the recent Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, was written by US Senators with the Corporations, and now the rest of the Countries need to sign it. All to suit U.S corporation interests.

Now market movements call the shots, Business deals in parking lots, Waiting for the meat of tomorrow

“Power and the Passion”

The hit making machine of Garrett, Hirst and Moginie churned out another Aussie classic.

You take what you get and get what you please, It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees

Great lyric.

Rush – Signals

It is album number 9 for Rush and the follow-up to the mega successful “Moving Pictures” album. It’s not a favourite that’s for sure, but each song has some cool sections.

“Subdivisions”

The intro synth is pretty cool and when the guitar comes in to mimic the groove of it, it’s all systems go.

“The Analog Kid”

It’s very Led Zeppelin like. Think of “Achilles Last Stand”.

 

“Losing It”

Neil Peart wrote it about how tough it is when someone who has been at the top of their game starts to lose their ability to reproduce that.

“Countdown”

I wish the synth riff at the start (and that continues through into the verses) was distorted guitar.

Stay tuned for Part 7 of 1982.

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

1981 – Part 2: Punching In, I Feel Like Punching Em Out

Van Halen – Fair Warning

Van Halen’s “Jump” was everywhere in Australia, however the first albums I owned from the band came from the Van Hager edition. So it wasn’t until the late Eighties/Early Nineties that I started to get my hands on the earlier Van Halen albums via the good old’ Second Hand Record Shop.

Coming into “Fair Warning” Eddie had racked up a reputation as a riff maker. “Runnin’ With The Devil”, “Dance The Night Away” and “And The Cradle Will Rock” come to mind. That tradition continued with “Meanstreets” and “Unchained”.

I think it’s safe to say that “Fair Warning” is their hitless album and their most metal sounding album. As soon as the frantic tapped intro kicks in for “Meanstreet” you get the feeling it’s going to be heavy. Then the ZZ Top Blues Groove kicks in and the head is nodding and the foot is tapping while the drums make it swing.

How good is that little breakdown that Eddie fills with volume swells? It then morphs to an outro riff that all of the NuMetal bands used over and over again in every god damn song, 20 years later.

“Unchained” is a classic melodic rock/metal tune that would inspire many bands in the mid to late Eighties. That flanged dropped D intro is “music store” heaven.

“Push Comes To Shove” is one of my favourites (musically) because it’s different and I dig that “I Shot The Sherriff” reggae/funk groove that is happening. Musically, the song has so many cool movements. The lead break alone is a song within a song movement.

The ideas from “So This Is Love?” would eventually morph into a certain song called “Hot For Teacher” a few years later.

And David Lee Roth does manage to write some lyrics that are pretty good.

“At night I walk this stinkin’ street past the crazies on my block
And I see the same old faces and I hear that same old talk
And I’m searching for the latest thing, a break in this routine
I’m talkin’ some new kicks, ones like you ain’t never seen” ….. From “Mean Street”

“Change, nothin’ stays the same
Unchained, and you hit the ground runnin’” ….. From “Unchained”

“And then one night in stunning victory
She decides and you agree, she’s leaving” ….. From “Push Comes To Shove”

Rush – Moving Pictures

Now Rush was a band that I got into during those years of 1994 and 2000. Again, this album came into my collection via the “second hand record store”. I credit Dream Theater and the countless interviews and song transcriptions in the Guitar Magazines where Rush and Alex Lifeson are mentioned as inspiration.

So “Tom Sawyer” kicks off the album and immediately I am hearing something familiar that I couldn’t link too. Eventually, I realised I was hearing the end of “Welcome Home” from Metallica. Then that keyboard lead break which kicks in at about 1.30 has appeared in many Dream Theater songs.

“Red Barchetta” has this riff from 2.30 to about 3.00 that I reheard again many years later in the outro to “Innocence Faded” from Dream Theater.

“YYZ” kicks off with what Geddy Lee once described as a “Morse Code Rhythm”. Again, there are a lot of bits here that I have heard other prog rock bands in the Nineties use as inspiration.

“Limelight” was the first song I sat down to learn thinking it would be easy. The hard part is the movements, the stops on the off-beat, the 5/4 timing in the intro, the arpeggios cleanly picked in the Chorus and so forth. And what about that emotive and moody lead break, with the busy underlying bass groove, which picks up the section from balladesque to rock in under a minute.

Then you have a song like “Witch Hunt” which I didn’t really rate, and then Machine Head covered it as part of the bonus tracks for the “Unto The Locust” album and suddenly I was digging it.

And to close the album, “Vital Signs” is the dark horse with its New Age, reggae feel.

And as usual Peart comes out with some great lyrics about thinking for yourself and dealing with fame.

“No, his mind is not for rent, to any god or government, Always hopeful, yet discontent, He knows changes aren’t permanent” ….. from “Tom Sawyer”

“Living in a fisheye lens, caught in the camera eye, I have no heart to lie,
I can’t pretend a stranger, Is a long-awaited friend” ….. from “Limelight”

“All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players, performers and portrayers” ….. from “Limelight”

MSG – MSG

His influence on guitarist coming through the Eighties is huge. Kirk Hammet and Marty Friedman are two that come to mind immediately that have spoken highly of the German.

There is no denying his output with UFO is world-class and it was only natural that a person like Schenker would get the big money offer to go solo. In a years’ time he would also audition for the Ozzy Osbourne gig. But the Axeman had his eyes set on a solo career. The first albums I purchased from MSG were the “Perfect Timing” album and from that commercial sounding album, I went back and purchased the earlier stuff. All thanks to the second-hand record store.

There’s no mistake, no denying, we’re just one of a kind, there’s no conceit, seems like we’re all black sheep” ….. from “Are You Ready To Rock”

“Dreams just fade away, realities soars” ….. from “On And On”

“When voices of innocents cry out, Seeking the justice to come, Lies that’s all I ever get from you” ….. from “I Want More”

Foreigner – 4

In 1985, “I Want To Know What Love Is” was everywhere, but at the time I didn’t pay attention to it or the band. It wasn’t until “Say You Will” hit MTV that I started to pay attention to Foreigner. This was around 1988. So in a few years, by way of the second-hand record store, I would end up with Foreigner’s back catalogue.

Mutt Lange had really wanted to do 1978’s “Double Vision” however Mick Jones, didn’t believe he was ready at the time, nor was he considered for 1979’s “Head Games”. So Lange goes away and he proves himself to Foreigner. He takes on AC/DC and produces “Highway to Hell” in 1979 (their American breakthrough album) and “Back in Black” in 1980 (their first with Brian Johnson and their biggest album in regards to sales to date). He also produced “For Those About To Rock We Salute You” in 1981. So by now Mutt Lange is more than ready and the result is one of Foreigner’s biggest albums.

How’s that for committment?

So it was no surprise that Mutt Lange would go on to greater things.

“Night Life”, “I’m Gonna Win” and “Break It Up” are excellent rock songs and it’s easy to forget them under the noise of the “hit songs” like “Urgent”, “Jukebox Hero” and “Waiting For A Girl Like You”.

“And that one guitar made his whole life change” ….. from “Jukebox Hero”

Men At Work – Business As Usual

Who would have thought that almost 30 years after the song “Down Under” was released, a publishing company would become a part owner of the song. I called it “The Great Copyright Hijack” in the land down under.

For those who don’t know, the song “Down Under” has a flute riff in it that was inspired by a vocal melody of a 1940’s children song. The fact that the creator of the song is long gone, should mean that the song and its sheet music is out of copyright. However Copyright was hijacked by the Corporations in the Sixties and Seventies, so that is why we have this sad situation of Copyright lasting for the life of the owner, plus 70 years to 90 years after death. So in this case, a Publishing Company purchased the rights of the 1940’s Children song and eventually opened a court case for plagiarism.

“Buying bread from a man in Brussels, he was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”, he just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich” ….. from “Down Under”

Australian Crawl – Sirocco
“Sirocco” was the Crawl’s first US and European release and it was coming off the success that “The Boys Light Up” album set in motion. The album recently has resurfaced back into the public conversation, as fans of Australian Crawl believe that “Sweet Child O Mine” from Guns N’ Roses ripped off “Unpublished Critics”.

“My finger on the pulse, and my hand around a beer” ….. from “Unpublished Critics”

“Too many people need a pseudonym” ….. from “Can I Be Sure”

Y&T – Earthshaker

Y&T is another band that came into my collection via the second-hand record shop.

In case people don’t know, Yesterday and Today became Y&T on 1981’s “Earthshaker”, their first album for A&M Records. Since forming in 1972, with Dave Meniketti joining in 1973, Y&T honed their craft on the stage and the “Earthshaker” album perfectly captures their live sound to a tee.

“Punchin in, I feel like punchin ’em out, It makes me scream, it makes me wanna get up and shout” ….. from “Hungry For Rock”

Ahh, the Monday morning after the weekend and the last place anyone wants to be is at work. A simple lyric that sums up the early Eighties. Hell, it’s still relevant now.

“I was down, I was barely makin’ it, She was gone and I couldn’t take it, I was lookin’ for a new way of thinkin’” ….. from “Rescue Me”

“Your phony friends, they all counsel you” ….. from “I Believe In You”

“It’s a song I wrote a long time ago. Well a long time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way, because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing on the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote” I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us so when I put it on the Earthshaker record well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for I Believe In You Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship I had with a girl so the song inspired itself more or less.”
Dave Meniketti

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