1976 saw AC/DC’s first internationally-released album, “High Voltage”. The demand for Oz Rock was already on the up.
Enter Cold Chisel.
After years of hitting every place and pub in Australia and drinking those places dry with their road crew, or getting banned due to fighting, Cold Chisel finally got a record deal and released their first album on WEA/Elektra in 1978.
If you ever caught the band live, the self-titled debut sounded nothing like the band did on stage.
They also had a producer that kept telling em that live is live and the studio is the studio. They cannot intersect. Well tell that to Bob Rock who made it his mission to capture how good a band sounded live, in the studio.
Before the album was even released “Khe San” was already a crowd favourite however it was a lot faster live than the studio version. But there is something special about the slowed down studio version as well.
It’s a rocker, more STYX like with a little bit of “Evie” from Stevie Wright and “Mississippi Queen” from Mountain.
“Khe Sanh” was released as a 45 rpm single in May 1978. It captures, the despair and the anger of an Australian Vietnam war veteran. There were no parades for these guys. They came back home, hated. And the promises made by the Government to look after them never came to be.
It was banned from commercial radio as the lyrics had references of sex and drugs. Lines like these were scandalous. “And their legs were often open/But their minds were always closed”.
But a great song is never born from marketing. It’s from word of mouth.
And the Battle of Khe Sanh was fought mainly by US Marines but this didn’t matter.
The piano riff is rocking and the best part of the song is when Jimmy Barnes sings, “the last plane out of Sydney is almost gone”.
And maybe all of us were a bit damaged as well so the song resonated with a lot of people who had addictions and couldn’t make meaningful contact with woman, and the need for casual sex with East Asian women.
Home And Broken Hearted
The verse riff reminds me of AC/DC, who were influenced by Chuck Berry.
One Long Day
The bass rumbles while the piano plays a jazzy riff that reminds me of “Long Way To The Top”. And it takes a left turn when it changes to lounge rock.
Blues rock at its best
It could be a STYX or Bee Gees cut. It’s almost progressive the way Don Walker plays the piano.
Its fast and aggressive.
Almost Rose Tattoo like and when “they speak her name in cheap hotels/From Turkey to Marseille” we get an understanding as to who Daskarzine is.
Just How Many Times
Its lounge jazz blues rock, slow and relaxed. The lyrical message is more important than the rest. Barnesy is a crooner on this, an R&B style of crooner.
They never got the big break in North America that they wanted, but it’s pretty hard to sell your act when your lyrics paint a picture of Australia.
The debut Baby Animals album was everywhere in Australia. Before the album was released in September 1991, they had some serious momentum over 15 months coming in to the album. The Angels was one of the biggest bands in Australia during this time and the Baby Animals was the opening act between 1990/91.
The album debuted at number six on the ARIA Album Charts and spent six weeks at number one, eventually going eight times platinum and becoming the highest-selling debut Australian rock album of all time (until the release of Jet’s album, “Get Born” 12 years later).
I saw em live at the Revesby Workers Club on the tour. An up and coming band called Judge Mercy was opening for them. They were excellent, but they unfortunately disappeared when the labels started dropping metal and rock acts in a years’ time.
And the Baby Animals rocked. Drummer Frank Celenza was huge behind the kit, laying down the foundations along with bassist Eddie Parise. Dave Leslie on guitar is so underrated, playing a chicken picking style and Suze DeMarchi on guitar rocks hard. Everyone raves about Lzzy Halestorm, but I’m pretty sure she would have been influenced by DeMarchi. And on vocals, DeMarchi is bluesy and soulful.
The album was produced by task master Mike Chapman and engineered by Kevin Shirley. The personnel alone shows the albums intention.
And my favourite track is “Working For The Enemy”, that whole break down section, lead break and build up is excellent. My second favourite is the metal like “Waste Of Time” with its energetic double kick intro and heavy blues boogie rock riffs.
“One Too Many” is “Rock N Roll Noise Pollution” in spirit and influence, while “Aint Gonna Get” is AC/DC on steroids and highway speed tempos with a Chorus that reminds me of “I Love Rock And Roll”.
And I haven’t even gotten into the singles yet.
How good is the intro to “One Word”?
But DeMarchi didn’t like the song after it was finished and asked the label to keep it off the album. The song went through a transformation, from a country-ish rock feel in the demo (which can be heard on the 25th Anniversary Edition) to the melodic rock beast it became, as Chapman kept asking them to work on it.
Guitarist Dave Leslie paid his dues in a Cold Chisel covers band called Swingshift, playing Australian pub rock classics on a nightly basis and he knew what worked with audiences. His chicken finger picked intro to “One Word” is guitar hero worthy.
“Rush You” is the opener as the power chord crashes down and the cymbals ring before it goes into a double time beat and some series riffage and how cool is that “Back in Black” walking chromatic riff just before the verse.
“Early Warning” begins with the drums while a slide guitar plays a rock riff and the music then stops while DeMarchi sings, “Too Young To Know and Too Old To Listen”.
The band kicks in again. Then the verses come and it’s like a Jimi Hendrix song, before it moves into the power of the Chorus.
“Painless” has this funk blues boogie which I like. If you haven’t heard it, today is a great day for it.
They toured hard on this album, playing all the major cities and regional towns in Australia, and once Bryan Adams heard the album, he added them to his European leg.
The Black Crowes added them to their Australian and New Zealand tour, while Eddie Van Halen, asked for them to be the support act on the “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” tour after he heard the album via his wife Valerie Bertinelli.
By the time their touring commitments ended for the album in August 1992, they had played over 500 shows.
In August 1990, Blues Rock Guitar Hero, Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. His Double Trouble rhythm section of Tommy Shannon (bass) and Chris Layton (drums) were devastated and with SRV’s death, out of a gig.
They dealt with the pain by jamming. They called in guitar prodigy Charlie Sexton and another guitarist in Doyle Bramhall ll. Bramhall’s father, Doyle Bramhall, Sr. is also steeped in the blues, playing drums for Lightnin’ Hopkins and Freddie King. And Bramhall, Sr. also collaborated on songs with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan, who he knew since childhood.
The jam sessions took place at the Austin Rehearsal Complex. This is how the “Arc” in the band name is derived.
I heard “Living In A Dream” on Letterman and I thought it was Badlands via the sound, but the look definitely wasn’t Jake E Lee and Ray Gillen (RIP). But I couldn’t get their album, even though it was on Geffen Records. I suppose the year of 1992 didn’t help either.
“Arc Angels” is the self-titled debut album released in 1992.
Production is handled by Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul.
Living In A Dream
What an opening cut, with a feel of “When The Levee Breaks” and just think of “Stormbringer” played in a blues based way.
It’s written by Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton. They both share vocal duties and they put their guitar skills on display, riff wise and lead wise.
‘Cause there’s nothing wrong here I’m just living, living in a dream
And sometimes we don’t want to escape that dream.
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K, this song reminds me of the Roadhouse movie. You can imagine the band playing the song behind a Perspex cage to protect them from glass bottles.
Well now everything is rosy And the money’s so well spent This kind of education Is worth every cent When your momma pays the tuition And your daddy pays the rent You could learn a lot in college Although you never went
Sometimes the silver spoon is not enough to satisfy.
Sent by Angels
Written by Doyle Bramhall II.
I like the Bad Company vibe on this. Black Crowes also comes to mind.
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.
The acoustic guitar riff reminds me of “Little Suzi” from Tesla. Even the titles are similar. The drum beat is more surf rock and Iggy Pop like than Blues Rock.
Sweet Nadine That ain’t her real name But you know what I mean
I suppose every artist has a “Sweet Nadine” somewhere.
Written Doyle Bramhall II and Sammy Piazza, it’s got this Stevie Wonder “Superstition” funk rock happening, with a bit of “Play That Funky Music White Boy”.
I was hangin’ out with some friends of mine Down in Hollywood just a-wastin’ time I knew right then nobody could get me down ‘Cause I’m takin’ myself out on the town We’re gonna have a good time
See What Tomorrow Brings
Written by Doyle Bramhall II and as soon as the opening arpeggio chords started I was interested.
At 6 minutes long, it’s hard to explain the song, a mixture of “Little Wing”, “Free Bird” and “With A Little Help From My Friends”, the Joe Cocker version. And when slow blues ballads are done right, they leave their presence with you. This song does just that.
Wait just long enough See what tomorrow brings
What a great line. Patience is hard to attain, because its original meaning is “to suffer”. So to ask someone to “wait” is to ask them to be “patient”.
Always Believed in You
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K. the cut could be interchanged with songs on a John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams or Don Henley album.
I was born back in the sixties I was born and raised to win We had beaten, beaten back the darkness But somehow the darkness slipped back in
Truth right there. People thought that we had broken through the injustice and prejudice however people just doubled down into their echo chambers, percolating until they exploded again.
The Famous Jane
Written by Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.
It’s a mid-tempo rocker about heroin.
She was probably born in Hollywood in the era of the King She hitchhiked Highway 61 and got elected Queen She ended up on Bleeker Street down in the underground And then somebody there called her sweet, and the story got around
The lyrics more or less sum up its possible introduction into Hollywood.
Written by Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton and Chris Layton. This is a great song with a similar riff and groove to “Living In A Dream”.
Everybody’s looking for a little bit of love Not a lot of love being given
No one wants to be alone, but people associate companionship with love. But if love doesn’t happen, having a circle of friends to talk with, laugh with and go out with, is every bit good enough.
Carry Me On
Written by Doyle Bramhall II who brings out the Southern Classic Rock.
Shape I’m In
They bring out the Chuck Berry “Johnny Be Goode” feel on this cut, written by Doyle Bramhall II, Charlie Sexton and Marc Benno.
I tried so hard to get back in the race I’d just be satisfied if I could place There’s so much competition but the best don’t always win I’m doing pretty good for the shape I’m in
Be you and don’t let the rat race dictate to you who you should be.
Too Many Ways to Fall
Written by Chris Layton, Tommy Shannon, Charlie Sexton and Tonio K.
This is another of those percolating blues rock tunes.
‘Cause there’s just one way that we can stand Too many ways to fall
Truth right there.
The outro reminds me of what Pearl Jam would do.
The band didn’t last long. Geffen jumped into bed with Seattle, Bramhall’s heroin addiction was out of control and by 1993, the band broke up.
Daughtry dropped a new album recently and it’s great to hear the hard rock side kick back in after a couple of albums that lived in a popular rock/beats area. Even the metal sites are reviewing the new album.
A review of the new Daughtry will come soon, but it did get me in the mood to listen to earlier Daughtry and so let’s kick off the next Record Vault series with the debut album.
Daughtry is the debut album, released in 2006 by RCA Records. He came to fame by competing in American Idol, but he didn’t win Idol, however he’s had a bigger career then the actual winner Taylor Hicks. I guess the kiddies voting don’t really purchase records.
It’s Not Over
The Bm to A to G chord progression is familiar (think “Kryptonite” from Three Doors Down) but it’s the tone of Chris Daughtry’s voice which hooks me in.
Chris Daughtry, Gregg Wattenberg, Mark Wilkerson and Brett Young are listed as the songwriters and what a song they wrote, sitting at 90.325 million streams on Spotify. But it’s not the most streamed from Daughtry. That goes to “Over You”.
And if the songwriter names are familiar, well, if you own a Train or John Legend or Goo Goo Dolls album, you will see Gregg Wattenberg listed as a producer and writer. Mark Wilkerson was the lead singer and guitarist for Course Of Nature, a rock band which was also known as COG. The Chorus was written by Brett Young, a singer in the same season of American Idol as Daughtry.
It’s also certified 2x Platinum as a single in the U.S. Back in 2007, it got a Gold certification for CD physical sales of the single in the U.S.
Daughtry, Howard Benson and Zac Maloy are listed as the songwriters.
A simple drum and bass groove start the song, but it’s the repeating guitar arpeggios in the verse which moves the song along.
Another infectious chorus.
We used to have this figured out / We used to breathe without a doubt
So what changes as we get older. As we learn more, do we fear more.
Sitting at 76.8 million streams on Spotify. Certified 3x Platinum in the U.S as a digital single, with its most recent certification happening in September 2019. Back in 2008, it got a Gold certification for CD physical sales of the single in the U.S.
And as an artist, this is exactly what you want. People still consuming your songs, many years after they’ve been released.
It’s written by Chris Daughtry.
My favourite song on the album. It crosses over to so many different styles and genres. If you like Southern Rock, you’ll like this. If you like Country Rock, you’ll like this. If you like Hard Rock, you’ll like this.
And the message of returning home after been away for a while is a message that everyone can understand and relate to.
This is the most streamed Daughtry track, at 116.8 million streams. And it also has a 2x Platinum in September 2019, for digital sales in the U.S.
Written by Daughtry and Brian Howes it could have appeared on a Jovi album at the time.
It’s a mid-tempo rocker and Daughtry’s vocals are excellent.
And Brian Howes is a Canadian songwriter who has written songs with Adelitas Way, Airbourne, Caleb Johnson, Halestorm, Hedley, Hinder, Nickelback, Rev Theory and Skillet to name a few. A lot of chart cred right there. So if the song sounds familiar, I’m sure some of the melodies from Howes would have been reused.
Written by Daughtry, Nina Ossoff, Dana Calitri and Kathy Sommer and the Chorus is catchy.
Feels Like Tonight
Max Martin, Luke Gottwald and Shep Solomon are the writers. These guys wouldn’t come cheap. I would be surprised if Daughtry is listed as re-couped for this album. I am sure the record label creative accountants still have him in debt, even though its 6x Platinum in the U.S.
It starts off like “Chasing Cars”. That’s what writers of hits do. Take what came before and tweak it.
And of course, a Max Martin /Dr Luke song, isn’t a song without a massive Chorus.
What I Want
Written by Daughtry and Howes and features Slash.
Just by featuring Slash, the song already has a hard rock swagger to it more like the “Velvet Revolver” swagger. But it’s short. Just over 2 minutes long.
The songs which are solely written by Chris Daughtry highlight his skills and style as a writer. “Home” showcases his story telling and use of simple chords to deliver an emotive vocal melody.
“Breakdown” is also written by Chris Daughtry.
It’s actually a rewrite and combination of two songs “Conviction” and “Break Down” previously recorded by Daughtry’s former hard rock/alternative metal band, “Absent Element”.
This one percolates, living in the grey area between soft rock and hard rock.
Check out the head banging riff at 2.30.
Written by Chris Daughtry, it starts off slow, ballad like but by the end of it, it becomes a great melodic rock song.
There and Back Again
Written by Daughtry and Brent Smith from Shinedown who also plays guitar on it.
It feels like a track that would appear on “The Sound Of Madness”. It’s heavy and it rocks hard.
All These Lives
Written by Daughtry and Mitch Allan, it’s in the soft rock domain moving between acoustic verses and distorted choruses.
What About Now
Written by Ben Moody, David Hodges and Joshua Hartzler.
Moody and Hodges had a certain style of writing. They both came to fame via the “Fallen” album from Evanescence and when Moody left the band mid tour, he became a songwriter for other artists. Kelly Clarkson recorded a few of their songs, I think, “Because Of You” was written by Moody and Hodges.
Well this one follows in that vein. It has a piano riff which at the start reminds me of “Alone” from Heart.
Written by Daughtry, Alexander Rethwisch, Christopher Langton, Konstantin Rethwisch and Matthias Weber. A lot of writers.
It lives in this acoustic Fuel/Alice In Chains space because it reminds me of Fuel’s “Something Like Human” album and “Sap” from Alice In Chains.
For a debut album from an American Idol contestant who came 5th, every cent was spent by the label on getting the correct songs as evidenced by the different songwriters on each song.
And he had a lot of musicians on the debut album. Phil
X who performs with Bon Jovi now, is on lead and rhythm guitars. The excellent Josh Freese is on drums. Paul Bushnell plays bass except on “What About Now” which is Chris Chaney. Producer Howard Benson also plays keyboards on the album and Chris Lord-Alge is mixing. These guys and production team don’t come cheap.
In an era of low sales, Daughtry also showed that great music can still sell. In Australia and New Zealand it went Gold. In the UK its certified Silver. In Canada its certified 2x Platinum and in the U.S, its certified 6x Platinum.
The album produced 7 singles. Yep, 7, but then again, every song on the album could be a single, hence the different writers.
And Daughtry sings for most of the album so his voice is left, front and right.
Critics did write, what is the point of having Slash appear on a 2 minute track. Or what would have happened if music took the lead in a song instead of Daughtry singing over everything.
But then again, critics don’t normally sell 6 million albums in the U.S.
Sometime in 2000, founding members Andrew Stockdale on guitar and vocals, Chris Ross on bass/keyboards and Myles Heskett on drums got together to jam.
But it was in 2004, when Wolfmother was born.
And suddenly things started to happen. After playing a gig in April 2004 in Sydney, they got a record deal with Aussie independent label Modular Recordings with whom they released their (EP) “Wolfmother” in September.
While touring on the EP, Universal Music came in and signed em to an international recording deal.
The self-titled debut produced by Dave Sardy was originally released in Australia via their independent deal on 31 October 2005.
The album was later released internationally by Universal in early 2006.
Like other Aussie artists who got a later international release, the album had an additional track and a rearranged track listing. Spotify carries the international release listing and release date.
As an owner of a book of Frank Frazetta paintings, seeing “The Sea Witch” on the album cover grabbed my attention immediately.
Prior to the release, the band had some serious momentum in Australia. They had the EP out on the charts, they toured and nationwide radio station Triple J, had the band in constant rotation.
The bass and drum groove reminds me of an amalgamation of Sweet and Cream in the verses before a Chorus kicks in that sounds like a Sabbath cut.
And a new game is created here in which the listener has to guess which band or song influenced the next song.
And I like games like these.
You know that section half way through in “Stairway To Heaven” when Jimmy Page starts to play major sounding triads over a droning D note.
Well that’s how “The White Unicorn” starts off. And I like it. Take something that came before and create something new from it.
Its basically a Sabbath cut with that driving galloping groove from “Children Of The Grave”.
Then again “Roadhouse Blues” comes to mind as well.
The addition of the keyboards makes it sound like a demented Doors cut.
And like other Aussie bands, (Airbourne comes to mind) they capitalized on the video game phenomenon that was happening. “Woman” was licensed to appear in over 12 video games which came out between 2006 and 2008.
Where Eagles Have Been
The beginning reminds of “Goin To California” from Led Zep or “Mother Nature’s Son” from The Beatles or “Brain Damage” from Pink Floyd.
This is the beauty of music. Familiarity is in every song which is created.
Check out the sound effect which increases in intensity at 3.42 and then the guitar solo. This is the best part of the song.
At 4.24 to 4.46 reminds of me of “Dazed and Confused” from Led Zep.
It has a punk style “My Generation” feel from The Who in the Intro and first verse.
Joker & the Thief
This song has crossed over onto a higher astral plane. It’s everywhere. If you sit down to watch a movie or a TV show, there is a chance you’ll hear it. If you buy a video game, there is a chance you’ll hear it.
When I hear “Detroit Rock City” by Kiss, it reminds me of this song.
“The Hangover” and “Shrek” movies have scenes in the movie, which has this song playing.
It feels like a Sabbath cut that hadn’t seen the light of day.
How good is the riff that comes in at the 3.30 mark?
It reminds me of “Ace Of Spades” from Motörhead.
My favorite track.
The arpeggios to start it off are hypnotic. Metallica used a similar progression for “The Day That Never Comes”.
When the verses come in, simplicity at its best. It’s just a single strummed chord and a haunting vocal melody.
I like the simple ascending chord progression just before the Chorus. And it comes back again after the Chorus.
How good is the organ riff?
And they jam on it till the end.
Another song that became a favorite amongst people that didn’t even like this kind of music because it appeared in the “FlatOut 2” car racing game.
A flute solo. Jethro Tull anyone.
It’s not a favorite.
Listen to “Moby Dick” from Led Zep. Imitation is a form of flattery.
A simple drum metronome style click and an acoustic guitar playing a sort of Country Blues Delta riff start off the song.
Swampy it is and the album is done.
I’ve read reviews that they are copyists and unoriginal. But music is judged on the fun and enjoyment you get out of it. And this album is a whole lotta fun.
Going back to the originality question, the bands that influenced em where also copyists. Led Zeppelin’s first album is a great cover album rebranded as a Zep album.
After all was said and done, the album was certified 5× Platinum in Australia, Gold in Canada, Gold in Germany, Gold in the U.K and Gold in the U.S.
By the time the band started to record album number 2, it was just Andrew Stockdale who remained. But the sound and the songs still remained.
I saw a tab of “Crawling In The Dark” in a Guitar World magazine and the notes in the Intro Riff had a lot of similar notes and feel from the 80’s riffs I played like “Crazy Train” and “Lightning Strikes Again” from Ozzy and “Fighting For The Earth” by Warrior.
So I was interested.
The self-titled debut, released in 2001, is their first album on a label, however Hoobastank did release an album independently in 1998, called “They Sure Don’t Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To” which was more funk metal and ska punk in sound that the alternative rock of this album.
Hoobastank is Doug Robb on lead vocals, Dan Estrin on guitars, Markku Lappalainen on bass and Chris Hesse on drums.
The album is produced and engineered by Jim Wirt.
Vocalist Doug Robb grew up learning guitar and names Faith No More and Van Halen as his favourite bands.
Guitarist Dan Estrin grew up listening to his Dad’s 70’s and 80’s vinyl collection and he’s mentioned that “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns ‘N’ Roses inspired him to take up guitar.
Drummer Chris Hesse’s grew up playing the piano, guitar and then drums while bassist Markku Lappalainen had Finnish parents who exposed him to Iron Maiden and Megadeth. That’s parenting 101. He also discovered techno music and somehow all of those influences make up his style.
But Hoobastank sounds nothing like those bands, but if you listen you will hear bits and pieces of those bands in the Hooba-Mix.
Crawling in the Dark
It’s only 2.55 long. No filler on this song, just great riffage.
The intro/verse riff is based around 80’s riffs, played with a phaser/flanged effect and palm muted. Guitarist Dan Estrin showcases his abilities, but its bassist Markku Lappalainen and the way he phrases his bass riff which makes the different.
The Chorus is almost Staind like, when they are melodic.
The interlude/bridge part is head banging.
It’s a great crossover track and at 70+ million streams on Spotify, it’s a favourite on the service as well.
From a guitar point of view, Estrin rented several guitars for the recording of the first album and the PRS Custom 24 guitar became his mainstay as it sounded killer. A few years later, while on tour, PRS touched base with him and he got a custom PRS built.
Estrin shines again on this track.
After 22 seconds of ambient noise, the bass and drums kick in with the verse groove. But the song really shines when Estrin kicks in. His guitar playing reminds me of Carl Bell from Fuel on this track.
The riff in the Chorus when Robb sings, “do you remember me?” reminds me of Stabbing Westward.
At 2.26, it kicks into a Bridge. At first it’s clean tone and when Estrin kicks in with the distortion at 2.48, its head banging time with Robb singing “you’re never going to be a part of me”. And they close the song off with that riff.
At 2.58, it’s all killer music and no fat at all as an acoustic guitar starts the song, strummed.
The Chorus. Excellent and anthemic with a riff which ascends, like “Hero Of The Day” does from Metallica when Robb sings, “Why are you running away?”.
Check out the fast arpeggios after the Chorus. I want em to go longer, but Hoobastank is a lean machine on this record, delivering concise songs, with the majority of em under 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
So much happening in the intro riff here. It’s like Faith No More, Linkin Park, Fuel and Incubus amalgamated.
The interlude from 1.58 is head banging and loaded with groove. When Robb starts singing “suffocating, sinking further” it reminds me of the melodies of Maynard Keenan from Tool.
Four punch combo so far.
Let You Know
Clean tone arpeggios but it’s not a ballad.
The bass playing from Lappalainen is excellent and the drums from Hesse are on an acoustic kit but with a techno element in the verses.
But the Chorus. Brilliant. Hard rock to a tee and sounding like 90’s Aerosmith.
At 1.58, Estrin goes into a melodic passage with a digital delay added and it’s the best thing The Edge had created during this period that didn’t come from this fingertips.
The intro riff is the standard derivative Nu-Metal riff.
The Chorus with its mix of clean tone arpeggios and distortion reminds me of Fuel.
Ready for You
A Mark Tremonti inspired riff appears in the first 19 seconds before it moves to a major key riff that reminds me of songs that Autograph did on the debut album. Good Charlotte used these kind of riffs on their albums as well. And every Frontiers release over the last two years would have a song with a riff like this.
And the Tremonti inspired riff is all over the song, popping up between sections.
Up and Gone
An octave and busy bass riff kicks the song off.
Listen to when Estrin kicks in with this riffs, how he decorates a super heavy distorted riff with open strings, natural harmonics, bends and fast palm muted chords on his dropped D guitar.
And Jim Matheos was doing a similar style of riff decorating in Fates Warning during this time. Just listen to the “Disconnect” album released in 2000. Then again, Steven Wilson was doing the same in Porcupine Tree from the late 90’s.
The album could have ended here.
But there’s still more.
Too Little Too Late
It could come from a Creed album.
Another track with a Creed like sound.
To Be With You
It’s got an Incubus feel, rock with a jazz/funk feel. Estrin shows his varied guitar style, purely within a clean tone setting.
Give It Back
This track is ferocious and full of energy, like the Collective Soul heavy grooves. The interlude reminds me of “Linkin Park”,
Losing My Grip (Japanese Bonus Track)
This track should have been on the normal release. When the distorted riff kicks in from the 40 second mark, it reminds me of Papa Roach and “Last Resort” which also reminds me of Bruce Dickinson/Iron Maiden and “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter”.
The Chorus is like those Oasis/Alanis Morissette type of Chorus’s.
The last thirty seconds sees Estrin kick in with a little melodic riff/lead.
The Critic (Japanese Bonus Track)
A jazz style drum groove starts the song before the acoustic guitar kicks in, for a song which reminds of Incubus.
For their label debut, this is an excellent album. By October 2002, it was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
Then in 2003, “The Reason” came out. And we all know what happened after that. But that story is for another time.
The line-up which is known to me as the classic line up had vocalist Midnight, guitarist Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords and drummer Dana Burnell.
They never broke out big in North America, with Asia and Europe being their main market. Their presence in Europe was probably due to Roadrunner Europe being their label and they got behind the band, booking them to play shows in major markets like Germany, France, UK, Holland, Belgium and Sweden.
Their overnight European success was 5 years in the making.
The masquerade mask angle along with hard rock perms and teased hair and leather vests was strange to begin with, but I understood their message, that the music should lead the way, not how they looked but by the third album the masks ceased to be and hard rock abs were on display in photo shoots.
The self-titled debut came out in 1986 but I didn’t hear it until 89, after I purchased “Transcendence” and I went back and got the debut.
Also by 1989, a lot of the bands I liked started to change or were past their heyday.
Scorpion’s didn’t really amuse me with “Savage Amusement” in 87, UFO still powdered their noses and had no recording contract, Queensryche went hard rock (which was a good thing) but I also liked their metal style and I was seeking bands like that, Iron Maiden lost an important band member and went even more streamlined with “No Prayer For The Dying” and Black Sabbath was still trying to replenish their worth and value after the “Born Again” debacle while Dio was starting to lose his star power from 5 years before.
So I went looking elsewhere for my unique metal fix and Crimson Glory filled the void.
And I like to play the guitar, so any album that makes me pick up the guitar to learn the songs gets my attention, and this is what the Crimson Glory albums do.
There is a countdown. Then a chromatic moving arpeggio/lick in harmony.
And the speed kicks in.
The fastest song on the album, relentless like “Screaming For Vengeance” and that ball tearing falsetto from Midnight rattled my windows. A mixture between King Diamond and Rob Halford on this.
The lead breaks are Judas Priest like.
“Queen of the Masquerade”
It’s more hard rock than heavy metal with the “I Love Rock N Roll” chords in the verses and some serious shred.
The intro gets me with the harmony leads.
At the 2.00 mark, there is this guitar riff which moves up chromatically, reminding me of how “The Call Of Ktulu” does the same thing. Mustaine actually used that chromatic movement for “In My Darkest Hour” and then he took his “The Call Of Ktulu” riff and made it “Hangar 18”.
Check out the harmony solo’s on this.
Along with “Valhalla”, it’s a two punch combo knockout.
The intro is a mix of acoustic guitars, symphonic voices, violins and Midnight’s unique voice which sounds like Geoff Tate from “The Warning” album.
This then leads in to one of the best metal tracks I have heard with harmony guitars and galloping riffs.
Check out the riff at 2.23, done in harmony. It goes for about 10 seconds, a brief change between verses.
The lead break from 3.11. It’s guitar hero worthy but guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson are virtually unknown to the masses as Crimson Glory didn’t really cross over like Queensryche in the U.S market.
It starts off with a Midnight wail, harmony guitars and then a Deep Purple “Stormbringer” like riff in the verses.
Make sure you check out the Chorus, which has a combination of harmony guitars and an AOR rock chorus.
But it’s the harmony lead lick that comes after the Chorus that really gets me hooked.
Plus the outro lead break. Check it out. It as good as Jake E Lee’s “Bark At The Moon” outro.
A haunting acoustic piece, built on two chords and Midnight’s gloomy and mournful vocals.
From 3.10, distorted guitars crash in with reverbed drums and after 30 seconds it fades out to how it started.
“Heart Of Steel”
It starts off with acoustic guitars and harmony leads.
It reminds me of 70’s Scorpions with Uli Jon Roth on guitars, with a nod to the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. And it’s probably their most catchiest.
I like the way Midnight sings “Heart of steeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeel” with an increase in pitch as he holds steel.
Check out the little harmony lead at around the 4.10 mark. And the last 15 seconds is that good, the only thing you can do is press repeat.
At 5 minutes long it doesn’t get boring.
Especially the guitar playing and those harmony leads.
“Angels of War”
It’s very reminiscent of Iron Maiden.
There is a lot of great guitar playing but the little section from 3.25 is excellent.
And my favourite is when the bass and drums kick in at 3.55, then the harmony guitars start and then the Chorus vocal. A perfect minute to end the song.
It’s not on the vinyl version that I have. But it’s on Spotify.
Like other songs, it is a mixture of acoustic guitars in the verses with an anthemic chorus full of distorted chords. It feels like Dio vocally, but musically, it’s more in the spirit of the 70’s.
The section from 3.45 is brief but so good.
And then the lead breaks start.
“Dream Dancer can fly away / wings of fire she burns the nightshade”
And like that, the 1986 part 2 series comes to an end as I fly away to 1976.
From Canada. Not the early Eighties Australian band with the same name. And that is all the similarities that there is between the two.
No one even heard of the Canadian version in Australia. The first time I heard them was when I went to a blog that doesn’t exist anymore and that blog had zip files available to be downloaded via the Cyberlocker sites like Megaupload or Rapidshare or Hotfile.
The first three albums have a powerhouse set list. I was a fan of Honeymoon Suite and Loverboy, so Harem Scarem was right up my alley, however I didn’t hear their music until this year.
1991 – Harem Scarem
It is a strong debut with a terrible album cover. Actually all of their albums in the nineties had bad album covers.
Coming out in 1991, it was not out-of-place. Guitarist Pete Lesperance showed what a talent he is, hence the reason why he is still creating music in 2014. Hearing this album in 2014, I was attempting to shift my mindset back to 1991 and how I would have viewed it at that time. Basically it was just another standard melodic rock release in a genre that started to sound the same.
You see, when the classic rock bands sang about love they were breaking down taboo’s. It was a complex subject once upon a time. So when bands started singing about love and sex in the late eighties and early nineties, the barriers were all torn down. The subject wasn’t taboo anymore. The audience had moved on. Sure, some love songs could resonate with an audience, however you couldn’t build a metal and rock career based on love songs.
Artists needed to rock. And when Harem Scarem rocked, they rocked with the best of them.
Hard To Love
Written by songwriter Christopher Ward, vocalist Harry Hess and guitarist Pete Lesperance. Ward was already a hit maker, with the song “Black Velvet” from 1989 that he co-write with another Canadian songwriter in Dave Mason and sung by another Canadian, Alannah Myles.
When it comes to Canadian hard rock, it is about two to three degrees of seperation between artists, songwriters and producers. Just to give you an example.
Co-Producer Kevin Doyle was the engineer and mixer on the Alannah Myles album released in 1989. Christopher Ward was one of the main co-writers on the Alannah Myles album and he was also a co-writer on “Hard To Love”. Ward’s long time friend and songwriting partner on occasions, Stephen Stohn was executive producer on the TV show “Degrassi: The Next Generation” which also featured a lot of songs from Harem Scarem.
And for the song, it’s a classic melodic rock song. That Journey meets Bon Jovi vibe and the guitar playing from Pete Lesperance is liquid like.
As soon as the lead guitar kicks in, I am reminded of Boston. Chord wise, it’s got a basic Em to C to D progression in the verses and a G to D to C progression in the Chorus. When it comes to any song ever created these are the progression that artists/songwriters revert too.
White Lion’s “Hungry”, Bon Jovi’s “Livin On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name (albeit in a different key), Van Halen
“Aint Talkin’ Bout Love”, every Iron Maiden song, Led Zeppelin’s outro in “Strairway To Heaven” and a lot of others.
The difference is always the vocal melodies. That is what makes each song unique enough to stand on its own two legs.
With A Little Love
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
When Harem Scarem do melodic rock ala Def Leppard, they do it well. “With A Little Love” set the standard for these type of songs however the songs that followed afterwards on subsequent album didn’t match up. For example, “Stranger Than Love” from the follow-up, didn’t cut it.
Like all melodic rock songs in the major key, “With A Little Love” is no different. The movement from G to Em brings back memories of “The Deeper The Love” from Whitesnake.
All Over Again
A major key rocker written by Harry Hess. Reminds me of Journey “Anyway You Want It”. The chord progression of D to A to G is a very common progression. A lot of my favourites have this kind of progression.
From a hard rock perspective, you can’t go past Randy Rhoads “Crazy Train”. It is in the key of A, so the chord progression is A to E to D in the verses.
From a ballad point of view, you can’t go past “Knocking On Heavens Door” moves with this progression in the key of G, so the chord progression is G to D to C.
From a musical theory point of view it is a I to V to IV progression.
Written by Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance and another Candadian songwriter called Dean McTaggart who also worked with an Australian singer called Tina Arena with great success.
From 3.03 it goes into overdrive. The riff under the solo is not just power chords. It is a riff, structured around a groove first and then a guitar solo tailor-made to fit the riff.
Something To Say
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
The first minute and 25 seconds is a classical/flamenco intro that shows the talents on display. After it’s got this “Mr Bojangles” vibe merged with The Beatles “Yesterday” in the same major key as the mentioned songs.
1993 – Mood Swings
Released at a time when Grunge was taking over the world, it was the definitive album from Harem Scarem. It is by far the fan favourite.
Saviours Never Cry
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
What a song to open the album. By far my favourite. That palm muted hammer-on intro has so much groove its undeniable. And the song just goes into overdrive. The heaviness of the track and the balls to the wall attitude makes this song a contender.
If your lips never move
You’re bound to lose the war
What a lyric. Stay silent and prepare to suffer the consequences versus speaking up and preparing to make changes.
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
“No Justice In The World” is the catch cry and ain’t that the truth.
The piece de resistance as a guitar player is that Spanish/Arabic feel in the solo section. It is not clichéd and it fits the song perfectly.
Change Comes Around
Another song written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
It’s like “Ballroom Blitz” merged with Van Halen esque rock. Even the lyrics are spoken in a David Lee Roth baritone style. Unintentional connections are what music is all about. How our minds and ears perceive a song and connect with it.
One more song written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
Again the groove and the rock attitude resonates. It connects from the opening notes. “Screw the System” is the catch cry here and twenty years later we are still trying to screw the system however on occasion the system is screwing us.
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance and those Eddie Van Halen overtones just keep connecting with me.
1995 – Voice Of Reason
Two years passed and we get a heavier/experimental version of Harem Scarem.
Voice Of Reason
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance. The heaviness, the progressive elements and the harder edge immediately connects with me. And the groove just keeps the head nodding and the foot tapping. That solo/bridge section has this Beatles “She’s So Heavy” vibe. Love it.
Warming A Frozen Rose
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
It’s got this Circus Big Top feel to it and the possibilities that offers in the world of rock and metal are huge. And what about that swing jazz like solo section.
It’s written by Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
Euro Metal. Love the heaviness and that wicked slow groove tempo.
Reminds me of the styles of Axel Rudi Pell and Yngwie Malmsteen.
If you need an introduction into the world of Harem Scarem, then the first three albums are essential listening.