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

1986 – Part 2.7: Crimson Glory – Crimson Glory

I’ve posted on Crimson Glory before when I was doing my Record Vault posts.

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.

“Mayday”

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.

“Valhalla”

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.

“Azrael”

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.

“Dragon Lady”

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.

“Lost Reflection”

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.

“Dream Dancer”

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.

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

Harem Scarem – The First Three Albums

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.

How Long

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.

No Justice

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.

Empty Promises

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.

Had Enough

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.

Candle

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.

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