A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Compendium – Zakk Wylde

Before the Ozzy gig, Jeffrey Wielandt (aka Zakk Wylde) was just another guitarist among thousands of guitarists that worked day jobs, gave guitar lessons to make extra cash and spent their nights playing the local bar scene. In Zakk’s case, his night gig was a band called “Zyris”. And it was after a “Zyris” performance at a club in Sayreville, New Jersey that got the attention of a person called Dave Feld.

Feld asked Zakk to put together a demo tape with some press photos and he will try his best to get his friend Mark Weiss (fresh from just doing a Ozzy shoot), to hand it over to the Osbourne camp.

Eventually the tape found its way to the Osbourne camp and an audition was organised in L.A. Present at the audition were drummer Randy Castillo and bassist Phil Soussan.

In the end it came down to Wylde and one other candidate, a guitarist named Jimi Bell who had worked previously with Joan Jett. Bell would go on to play with Geezer Butler’s solo band and, more recently, design the Shredneck guitar practice tool.

Before the Ozzman audition, Zakk had already changed the spelling of his last name from Wielandt to Wylant as no one could ever pronounce the original. The Zack part came after his wife mentioned that it would be a cool name if they have a kid. The final piece of the name came after a drinking session with Ozzy, and hearing a song from Kim Wilde, the British Pop Singer.

“Miracle Man”

It’s 1987. Ozzy, Zakk, Phil Soussan and Randy Castillo had just begun writing songs for the “No Rest for the Wicked” album in Brighton, England. In the end, “Miracle Man” is credited to Zakk Wylde, Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Daisley.

The riff. A metal classic. Taking its cues from Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”, Zakk did what any metal player would do. Add some fast F# pedal point 16th notes, give it some distortion, give it some attitude and the rest is history. Make sure that you pay attention to the Aeolian/Pentatonic lead break.

“Breaking All The Rules”

This is Zakk Wylde referencing a lot of Lynch’isms and Rhoads’isms. As a fan, it is a damn good listen.

“Devil’s Daughter”

It’s the chicken picking licks merged with the traditional pentatonic licks that shatter this song out of the stratosphere. The song works because it’s structure is not the usual pop format.

Coming into the “No More Tears” sessions Ozzy’s piece d’ resistance was still the “Blizzard Of Ozz” album and it was an album that came from a band firing on all cylinders. While the albums that came after still sold a million plus, it was purely because we liked a few songs. Until 1991’s “No More Tears”. I was blown away. There is no filler and each track is killer.

“No More Tears” gave Zakk Wylde a career and Ozzy another re-birth.

“Mr. Tinkertrain”

Musically, it is a great opener, from the Jewelry Box intro, to the groovy verses and the heaviness of the chorus. It’s like a Big Top, Step-Right-In Circus opener. And Ozzy’s voice was the ringmaster. Step right in if you are brave. And the drumming from the departed Castillo is just powerful.

It’s written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Randy Castillo with a sinister lyrical theme that borders on the uncomfortable. But hey, if anyone can get away with it, it’s Ozzy and maybe Alice Copper.

“I Don’t Want To Change The World”

It was the lead-off single and it more or less summed up what it was to be a metal head.

I don’t want to change the world
I don’t want the world to change me

Just leave us be. Don’t try to change us. The song is written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Randy Castillo and Lemmy Kilmister. And Lemmy delivered the killer lyrics;

Tell me I’m a sinner I got news for you
I spoke to God this morning and he don’t like you

Musically, the song takes its structure from the Randy Rhoads classic “I Don’t Know” even all the way down to the slow interlude. Zakk was very good at referencing Randy and he did it tastefully.

“Mama, I’m Coming Home”

Only Zakk Wylde could have written the music to this song. It has all of his trademarks over it. The Southern Rock intro, the pinch harmonics, pentatonic runs. You name it, this song has it. And yes, this song is way ahead of its time. Hell, all of those country artists that crossed over with Rock songs had a perfect template right here.

The song is written by Zakk Wylde, Lemmy Kilmister and Ozzy Osbourne. Legend has it that the term “Mama” is a nickname that Ozzy has for Sharon.

Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come, but I ain’t the same

“Desire”

It’s another metal head classic written by Zakk Wylde, Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Castillo.

I always knew what I wanted to be
I knew for sure, I knew for sure

All we wanted was our music and we wanted it loud.

I gotta keep rocking cause it makes me crazy
It makes me crazy who needs to be cool

Being a metal head is all about being uncool. That is why so many genres started to appear. When metal became mainstream and cool, other more extreme genres started to appear so that people could be uncool again.

“No More Tears”

“No More Tears” has a song writer committee all over it. Listed on the credits are Zakk Wylde, Randy Castillo, Ozzy Osbourne, Mike Inez and producer John Purdell.

The bass intro just gets the groove happening and it sucks you in. Again another song that only Zakk Wylde could have written over one hell of a bass riff.

It’s got that Black Sabbath down tuned grunt. CHECK.
It’s got slide guitar. CHECK.
It’s got a descending chromatic riff in the Chorus. CHECK
It’s got a melodic lead break just before a wicked Pentatonic lead break. CHECK

And at seven minutes long, there is no filler. Every second counts.

The light in the window is a crack in the sky
Then the riff.
A stairway to darkness in the blink of an eye
Then the riff.
A levee of tears to learn she’ll never be coming back
Then the riff.

Brilliant.

“S.I.N”

The song is written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Randy Castillo. It’s the Randy Rhoads “Goodbye To Romance” reference that grabs me in the PRE-CHORUS.

And what about the chorus?

Whoa – Who turned off the lights ?
Whoa – A shadow in the night
Whoa – It wasn’t meant to be
I can’t take this alone
Don’t leave me on my own tonight

As popular as Ozzy is, the reason why we love him is because of his flaws. A tragic hero.

Shattered dreams lay next to broken glass
I wonder if tonight will be my last
I need an angel who can rescue me
To save me from my mental symphony

Yep, the morning after a rampage.

“Hellraiser”

Legend has it that Killerwatt bassist Terry Nails wrote the bass riff that kicks the song off. Nails was one of the bassists on the “No More Tears” sessions and he is uncredited for his role is shaping some of the songs on the album. In the end “Hellraiser” is listed as being written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Lemmy Kilmister.

With the song sitting at number 7 on the track list, only the real fans would have gone this deep in. And it is another great track. It shows just how good “No More Tears” is as an album.

I’m living on an endless road
Around the world for rock and roll

This is what every aspiring musician wanted to do. Travel around the world, playing the music that they created, getting up to mischief and just living the life. It was never about the money, but about the lifestyle.

Walking out on another stage
Another town, another place

Motorhead also did their own version, however you need to be fan of Lemmy’s voice to appreciate it.

People keep telling me it’s bad for my health
But kicking back don’t make it

Don’t know how people could have bought the stories of Ozzy’s retirement. He more or less states that he just can’t kick back.

“Time After Time”

A ballad. Not as good as “Road To Nowhere” or “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, but still a worthy addition. It is written by Zakk Wylde and Ozzy Osbourne.

Day after day
I watched love fade away
I wanted love to stay

Yep, what one desires in love doesn’t mean that the other desires the same.

“Zombie Stomp”

It is written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Randy Castillo.

I don’t need no doctor
But I need something to kill the pain
Don’t know what I’m after
But the pressure driving me insane

The life of an addict is summed up right there. Finding issues and fires were fires and issues do not exist.

“A.V.H”

It is another song written by Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Randy Castillo.

Never forsaking what a dreamer needs to know
Rules meant for breaking and the seeds I have to sow
Riding on a train that I can’t control
No one else to blame and I can’t let go

Don’t forget what you want to be, because if you do, you are going to be on a train that you can’t control. And there will be no one to blame.

“Road To Nowhere”

Another ballad and at song number 11, the quality is still there. It’s better than “Mama I’m Coming Home”. The song is written by Osbourne, Wylde and Castillo.

The wreckage of my past keeps haunting me
It just won’t leave me alone
I still find it all a mystery
Could it be a dream?

One part of the legacy of Ozz will be the drunkenness. The bat, the dove, the Alamo, the line of ants and the rest. In other words, the wreckage of the past just keeps on coming back. The other will the music.

“Pride And Glory” is Zakk’s most underrated work. The self-titled debut came out in 1994 and it was way ahead of its time. Hell, Kid Rock made the style of merging Country, Southern Rock and Metal into a multi-million dollar business. People said that Zakk Wylde was crazy to leave Ozzy. They said to him that he could have played arenas forever, instead he is going to be playing small clubs from now on. But those people just didn’t understand. Zakk Wylde is in the business to play the god damn guitar.

Pride and Glory’s musical equation was one for the mathematicians’. This is what happens when the Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Al DiMeola, Randy Rhoads, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream and the Marshall Tucker Band are all added and multiplied and divided together.

“Horse Called War”

The groove and that riff are heavy as hell and the title was perfect. The track could have been done on a Ozzy record, hell it could have appeared on a Metallica record as it’s got a real thrash rhythm.

And that solo was recorded all live. Yep, there is no backing rhythm guitar track. It’s just Zakk, James and Brian.

If the end be a comin’
I soon be a bummin’
All you Jesus freaks I hope you’re wrong
I’ve got so much left to live for

The humour.

“Harvester Of Pain”

Again, it’s got a killer groove and a great nod to some tasty southern rock in the verses and the chorus just rocks it out of the ballpark.

Every day’s a living hell
The reaper be weaving his spell
Sergeant take me aside
Tell me son, Peace ain’t what we’re here to sell…

War is not pretty, but you know what, neither is the six-o-clock news.

“The Chosen One”

It’s got that Dazed and Confused feel, and as is the norm with Zakk, he keeps the Southern Rock grooves rooted in Black Sabbath grooves. Checkout the strings from Paul Buckmaster in the Chorus. The song also pays tribute to Zakk’s father.

So glad I got to know you papa
I’m so glad I was the Chosen One

“Cry Me A River”

If Kings Of Leon recorded the song it would have been a hit. Hell the vocal line sounds like Kings Of Leon and it is almost 10 years before they broke through. It’s very Creedence and the solo starts out as a pedal steel lick that Zakk borrowed from Jerry Donahue of The Hellecasters. And then the song develops into a country metal tour de force. And it was the oldest song to be included on the album, written back in 1990.

Tell me now girl
Where have all the good times gone?

How many times have we said those same words throughout your life.

“Found A Friend”

Road To Nowhere Part II. A great song.

And no one said it was gonna be easy
I found out that ain’t no damn lie

Brilliant. You know when I was young my father kept on telling me that life is never easy. But back when I was young I was bullet proof. No one could tell me any different. Fast forward to now, I’m with a job, a mortgage and a family to support, I can tell you that life is not easy. It is beautiful, but never easy.

“Fadin Away”

A great piano ballad in remembrance of Zakk’s mother and a real testament to the talent of Zakk Wylde. He is a fantastic guitar player that has a great knack for riffing and soloing and he is also a very competent piano player. Check out his acoustic solo as well. Brilliant.

Ossmosis was next. It was a troubled album with a lot of changes. Ozzy was working with Steve Vai at one stage, then with other hit maker writers and then with Zakk Wylde back in the fold. Michael Wagener was first hired to produce.

“Perry Mason”, “See You on the Other Side”, “Tomorrow”, “Old LA Tonight”, “Aimee”, “Living with the Enemy” and “Slow Burn” got the Wagener treatment. Of these tracks, both “Aimee” and “Living with the Enemy” have been released as B-Side singles. The track “Slow Burn” has never been released. The label initially wanted the new album to sound exactly like “No More Tears” however they then changed their mind and they wanted the album to sound like “Soundgarden”. In came Michael Beinhorn.

“Perry Mason”

Musically, the song is brilliant. Lyrically it is terrible. It is credited to Zakk Wylde, John Purdell and Ozzy Osbourne. The song is packed with plenty of Zakkisms from the bends over the bass riff in the intro/chorus to that shredelicious lead break.

“See You on the Other Side”

Another gem that Zakk and Ozzy co-wrote with Lemmy Kilmister. How good is that simple syncopated bass drum/bass intro and then Zakk cuts in with a G to Em to C arpeggios.

“Thunder Underground”

This is the birth of Black Label Society right here. It’s heavy, it’s aggressive and its violent. And it’s written by Zakk Wylde, Geezer Butler and Ozzy Osbourne.

Your Appetite For Power
Subvert Your Every Hour
But Every Time The Mighty Fall

Lyrics that ring true today.

“Old L.A. Tonight”

Another world-class ballad. It is another Wylde, Purdell and Osbourne composition. The pentatonic lead breaks from Zakk kill it.

Tell Me Where We’re Going
I’m So Afraid ‘Cos I Don’t Know
What’s Going On With My Life

Yep, when you are young you don’t care about the future. As you get older you start to care.

“Throwin It All Away”

“Book Of Shadows” tried but it didn’t get out of second gear except for “Throwin It All Away” which is about the passing of Shannon Hood from Blind Melon.

“The Rose Petalled Garden”

1999 saw the release of “Sonic Brew” and the arrival of Black Label Society. It was one of the heaviest and most hostile record ever made. And it shredded, just when Nu-Metal made it even more uncool to shred.

“All For You”

A year later, “Stronger Than Death” came to be. It was a violent album and “All For You” got the violence started.

“Counterfeit God”

Also from the STD album.

We’ve washed your brain and cleansed your soul
Till’ nothing’s all you need to know
Hand over your will and then you’ll see
Now get on your knees and worship me

It looks like the Miracle Man or Metallica’s “Leper Messiah” got out of his cell and is back to his old tricks of getting

“Bleed for Me”

1919 Eternal came in 2002 and it is one of my favourite Black Label Society releases. And what a story behind the making of it. Like how some of the songs came from the “Down To Earth” sessions or how the original title of the album was Deathcore WarMachine Eternal. Or how the album is dedicated to Zakk’s father, who passed away before the release of the album. 1919 was the year his father was born and Zakk described his fathers credo of strength and determination as the basis for Black Label Society. Then there his fathers story of being raised in an orphanage, going off to fight in World War 2, coming back from war, getting married, raising a family and then outliving his wife.

By now the Black Label Society tours became campaigns. Recruitment drives. There was no such thing as fans as all of the fans became chapter members. When BLS went out on stage, the venue resembled a clubhouse. They made it their own.

The lyrics say it all. Zakk’s bleeding for you and you are bleeding for him.

“Lords of Destruction”

By track 2, it was clear that 1919 Eternal was a more pissed off and angrier album than the last two albums. Musically, it was a revolution against the Nu Metal movement led by Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. “Lords Of Destruction” has two classic lyrical lines.

Peace is a word that no one cares of knowing
Death is the drug of choice amongst the masses

“Bridge to Cross”

Another Black Label motto that life is just another bridge to cross. You ask no questions. Whatever work it is you gotta do, you gotta do it.

Just think about the bridges Zakk needed to cross. He got dropped from Geffen. Then he tried to play nice, kiss ass and secure a deal with Interscope. They wanted him to drop the denim and leather, wear shorts and get a haircut. Just the fact that Black Label Society exists is a testament to the bridges that needed to be crossed.

And what about the emotive lead break.

“Berserkers”

It’s the Tool like groove that got me hooked. While other songs like “Mass Murder Machine”, “Genocide Junkies” and “Graveyard Disciples” had great intros or a great groove, “Beserkers” has it all.

Drinkin’, pukin’, pissin’, and fightin’
Startin’ all over again

It’s comedy. Like the fictitious band Bad News and their song, “Warrior”.

“Raping, rooting, looting and a shooting”

“Doomsday Jesus”

“The Blessed Hellride” came a year later in 2003 and it looked like Zakk went out riding that horse called war again.

Horsemen rolls, tomorrow’s fading fast
Make damn sure, aint nothings gonna last

“Stillborn”

It’s got Ozzy Osbourne guesting. Bet ya that you can’t differentiate between Zakk’s vocal style and Ozzy’s. And what a F#m groove that Zakk locks down.

“Fire It Up”

“Mafia” came in 2005 and it is one of the band’s most commercially successful releases. And what about this little beauty. It’s like Cream on peptides and steroids.

“In This River”

The track “In This River” was written before the death of Zakk Wylde’s friend and fellow guitarist Dimebag Darrell, but it has since been dedicated to him

“Concrete Jungle”

“Shot to Hell” is one hell of an underrated album. After the successful sales of “Mafia” a bigger label came knocking in Roadrunner Records. Coming out in 2006, it was the band’s first (and only) record to have been released by Roadrunner.

“Hell Is High”

This is the offspring of “Paranoid” and “No More Tears”.

“New Religion”

Great 2 minute piano intro and then it goes into a Tool like groove.

“Faith Is Blind”

Chaotic and heavy.

“Blood Is Thicker Than Water”

Beatles like vibe.

“Lead Me to Your Door”

Reminds me of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”.

“Not Going Away”

By the time “Black Rain” came out in 2007, you can tell that Zakk’s style and abilities had far outgrown the Ozzman. Written by Zakk Wylde, Kevin Churko and Ozzy Osbourne. Again the BLS style swampy groove is prominent.

Get out of my way
There’s nothing you can do to change what I say

“I Don’t Wanna Stop”

Another song written by Zakk Wylde, Kevin Churko and Ozzy Osbourne.

All my life I’ve been over the top
I don’t know what I’m doing
All I know is I don’t wanna stop

What does the Chorus sound like?

“Countdown’s Begun”

The song is written by the normal trio of Osbourne, Wylde and Churko. It starts of like a Zakkified version of “Rock N Roll Aint Noise Pollution”. During the verse riffs, it sounds like the “Facing Hell” intro. Then the Chorus references the “No More Tears” chorus.

I see the death and the disaster
There is no happy ever after
The time has come
Countdown’s begun

“Godspeed Hellbound”

“Order of the Black” came out in 2010 and this should have been the opening track. Instead it was track number 8 on the album and it is one damn good album. The song is fast and groovy and how good is that ode to “Diary Of A Madman” that comes in at the 2.20 minute mark.

“War of Heaven”

It comes right after “Godspeed Hellbound”. It shows the depth of the album were some of the best tracks appear very late.

“Overlord”

It’s track 2. The song has Black Sabbath influences all over it. Hell, Zakk does Ozzy and Black Sabbath better than Ozzy and Black Sabbath. How good is that “Children of The Grave” section and lead break.

“Parade of the Dead”

It comes after “Overlord” and it has a violent bastard riff that reminds me of “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin.

“Shallow Grave”

I always dig a piano style ballad from the Zakkster and man for some reason I can’t shake the Coldplay resemblance.

“My Dying Time”

“Catacombs of the Black Vatican” was written in 25 days. And “My Dying Time” sums up the 25 credo. It is groove heavy and very jam like. The lead breaks again take the song to a whole new level, from the calculated harmonies to the pure shred abandonment that comes in between. Plus the song sounds references the musical feel of “Stillborn”.

“Angel of Mercy”

It’s one of the best ballads Zakk has recorded and it’s the solo that takes it into the stratosphere. It is thematic, and it builds dramatically. Back in the Nineties, people looked down on artists who worked out their solos. Well they should listen to the worked out solo on “Angel Of Mercy”. The intro is like a “Stairway”-type thing with a bend, A minor pentatonics, and then some Al Di Meola scales. All of them are written. I can play any one of them for you note-for-note, back-to-back.

“Damn the Flood”

High energy blues boogie that breaks down into a half-time groove just before Wylde takes the best solo.

“Empty Promises”

The drum groove sets it up and Zakk starts to reference “Would” from Alice In Chains and then it goes into a “Heaven And Hell” style riff. Brilliant.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Glenn Hughes

Mention the name Glenn Hughes to a lot of people and you will get a different answer each time as to who he is. Some don’t know of him, some mistake him with a sporting identity, some get it right and some just get it so wrong. However, if you are a fan of music, there is a pretty good chance that you would have come across the works of Glenn Hughes.

Especially the melodic AOR rock style of Glenn Hughes.

This primer course is based on showing a few of the big songs Glenn Hughes was involved in and then it moves over to that fertile Nineties post addiction period that was more or less ignored due to the musical landscape. However by no means is the list complete.

“Burn”

Released in 1974.

I found out about the “Burn” album by back tracking the origins of David Coverdale after the Whitesnake album from 1987 exploded. Yep, in 1987, I had no idea that David Coverdale was in Deep Purple. Actually the only Deep Purple song I knew at that stage was “Smoke On The Water” and that is because Triple M, the local rock radio station played it to death. For kids that grew up with Google, guess what it didn’t exist back then.

So it was harder to find out information about our favourite artists. Not impossible, just harder.

This meant purchasing expensive U.S magazines and reading the interviews and the reviews. Or if I didn’t have the money it meant grabbing the magazine at the newsagency and reading it there, much to the disgust of the newsagency owner.

He was a Portuguese fellow and he saw me that many times in his shop that he eventually started mentioning to me when the latest, “Hit Parader” or “Circus” or “Faces” or “Metal Mania” or “RIP” or “Metal Edge” was in.

Then he told me a little important secret about the newsagency business. That whatever doesn’t sell for the month, he returns back to the publishers. So he said that he will give me the magazines that I like then albeit with the front cover desecrated.

“Burn” was also my first introduction to Glenn Hughes. It was an immediate hit for me.

The song is credited to Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord and Ian Paice and you can hear the jam ethos throughout it. The performances are all top notch and the song showcases all of the members’ abilities.

There is also a version of Glenn Hughes singing it from start to finish that appeared on his solo album, “From Now On…” as a bonus track.

“When Love Finds a Fool”

It is a co-write between Glenn Hughes and Don Dokken and it was on the Don Dokken “Up From The Ashes” solo album that was released in 1990 on the Geffen label. There was a lot of money spent on that album by the Geffen company, however the interest in Don Dokken’s career was already dwindling down to just the hard core fans only.

On the Don Dokken recorded version, Hughes provides backing vocals only. It was the first song I clicked play on when I got home due to the Glenn Hughes writing credit.

And I loved it. To paraphrase like Yoda “A ballad it was” however it was delivered with a passion that was undeniable.

“The Only One”

It’s written by Glenn Hughes and Swedish guitarist Eric Bojfeldt and produced by Bruce Gowdy.

The song appeared on Hughes’s solo album titled “From Now On…” released in 1994. The album is a favourite of mine and the album has a well-rounded, polished and melodic AOR sound. And what a backing band.

Hughes was supported by a band of Swedish musicians including Europe members John Levén, Mic Michaeli and Ian Haugland as well as guitarists Thomas Larsson and Eric Bojfeldt.

Let the Viking invasion begin. Max Martin might get all the press for his pop songs, however the Swedes always had great musicians and songwriters.

“Crying For Love”

A brilliant ballad that appeared on the 1996 album “No Strings Attached” by the band Liesegang. Actually Liesegang is guitarist Bill Liesegang and his roots go back to the early Eighties NWOBHM movement and the band Xero. Actually his roots go back even further, to 1969, when he was asked to join David Bowie’s band.

Liesegang is renowned for being a guitarist that was doing all the guitar theatrics in the late Seventies that Steve Vai and Joe Satriani became famous for years later.

“Still The Night”

It’s history goes back to 1982. Originally planned for the second Hughes/Thrall album, the song ended up appearing on several other releases. It was recorded by the super group “Phenomena” project in 1984.

The version that I like is the John Norum version that appeared on Norum’s solo album, “Face The Truth” in 1992.

The song is written by Glenn Hughes, Pat Thrall and Paul Delph (RIP). Paul Delph was another talent who worked with an eclectic bunch of musicians before his death from HIV/AIDS complications.

“The Look In Your Eye”

It appeared on the “Hughes/Thrall” album released in 1982. The vocal is the starring element. How good is the pre chorus and then the falsetto melodies in the chorus.

“I don’t need anybody else
To try to run my life
I don’t need the way they try
To tell me what they think is right
We don’t need anybody else
To take what’s yours and mine
We don’t need anybody else
It’s just a waste of time”

I didn’t hear this album until a decade later. Because I didn’t get into the whole Grunge and Alternative scene. What I did do is get into purchasing records from second-hand Record Shops and the Hughes/Thrall album was one such gem. It is definitely a hidden gem of melodic hard rock.

Pat Thrall is a very underrated guitarist. A craftsmen who understands what the song needs and plays to suit.

“Surrender”

It appeared on the “Phenomena II – Dream Runner” album from 1987. Music and Lyrics came from Mel Galley. Actually Phenomena is a super group formed by record producer Tom Galley, Metal Hammer magazine founder Wilfried Rimensberger] and Tom’s brother, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Mel Galley who played with Glenn Hughes in Trapeze and on Hughes’s Seventies solo album.

What a super group line up for the recording of Surrender.

Vocals – Glenn Hughes
Guitars – Mel Galley
Keyboards – Leif Johansen
Bass – Neil Murray
Drums – Michael Sturgis

It is one of my favourite cuts.

“Face The Truth”

It’s from John Norum’s solo album of the same name released in 1992 and the he song is written by Glenn Hughes and John Norum. For those that don’t know, John Norum was the original guitarist in the band “Europe” and played on their first three albums including the mega one, “The Final Countdown”. He is also in the film clip? Then he was replaced by Kee Marcello for the tour, and the two follow-up albums that came in “Out Of This World” and “Prisoners In Paradise”. He is back as the guitarist of Europe when they reformed back in 2004.

How good is that guitar riff?

It just rocks and rolls the song to glory. If you have listened to early Europe, you will hear that “Euro-Metal Sound” that John Norum is famous for.

The song is a melodic rock gem and it is post the excellent work that Norum did with Don Dokken on the “Up From The Ashes” solo project.

“You Keep On Movin”

It goes back to 1975 and the “Come Taste The Band” era of Deep Purple with another guitarist that departed way too young. Tommy Bolin. Now that was another talent that is no more. Tommy Bolin and Paul Kossoff are my two heroes. Guitarists that just wanted to jam and play.

The song is actually written by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. The version that I was listening to is from the 1994 solo album “From Now On….”.

This is what we’ve lost in the transition from capturing spontaneous creations to capturing well thought out and analysed rewritten over and over again creations. That effortless feel in a song as it builds to a crescendo.

“So Much Love To Give”

Very Hendrix like and that is not surprising at all when you see that Hendrix devotee Craig Erickson is the guitarist and the songwriter.

It’s up there in the blues rock vibe of “Mistreated” from the Coverdale/Hughes era of Deep Purple.

It’s a Glenn Hughes and Craig Erickson composition.

Actually Craig Erickson is a very underrated guitarist in the blues rock genre.

The song was released on Hughes’s first solo album titled “L.A. Blues Authority II: Glenn Hughes – Blues” after he kicked his drug habits in 1991 and it is another all-star line up of musician friends that assist in the album’s creation. As Glenn once stated it was his first album since finding his higher power. And of course it was Mike Varney who got the project rolling. For those that don’t know, Shrapnel Records was founded in 1980 by Mike Varney.

And Shrapnel was different from all of the other labels because it focused on bands featuring guitarists of extraordinary ability and it was the main label leading the neo-classical shred movement.

If it wasn’t for Shrapnel Records artists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore would have either not been identified or taken longer to identify.

“King Of The Western World”

It is the opening track on the 1996 Liesegang album “No Strings Attached” that also has the excellent “Crying For Love” that I mentioned above.

It’s the GUITAR!

The Steve Stevens inspired “Atomic Playboys” riff that kicks it off. Talk about a riff!

Then it goes into a Journey style verse. For those that don’t know Bill Liesegang, make sure you check him out. Another underrated musician and songwriter.

“Not Necessary Evil” and “Cry Of The Brave”

Both of these songs appear on “Sacred Groove” the first solo album from George Lynch released in 1993. As a fan of George Lynch, I really enjoyed these little gems.

Glenn Hughes came into the Lynch stratosphere back when Glenn Hughes was hired to sing on the demos that would become the self-titled Lynch Mob album, released in 1992. The album features the vocals of Robert Mason who legend has it, had Glenn Hughes teaching him how to sing the songs.

There are just so many connections and relationships in the career of Glenn Hughes. And really, that is what having a music career is all about.

Building connections and fostering relationships.

Just look at the body of work that I have mentioned so far and all the different musicians that have been involved with it. How many musicians in the last 10 years have achieved anything close to those relationships?

It’s all about the band they are in and just that band. God forbid if someone tried to jam with another band. That would be cause for instant dismissal.

Mike Portnoy comes to mind as the only musician that is putting his name out there on different styles of music and with different musicians.

“Make My Day”

It’s the opening track from the “Amen” album by Manfred Ehlert. Written and arranged by Ehlert it is Glenn’s vocal performance that brings the song home.

There is a keyboard riff there that reminds me of “The Final Countdown” from Europe.

“Phoenix Rising”

The song is written by Tom Galley, Richard Bailey and Mel Galley, but it is the vocal performance by Glenn Hughes that knocks it out of the ball park.

Mel Galley is another guitarist that deserves more attention for his work output. Maybe not having the look of a glam rocker hurt his career in the Eighties, but there is no denying the work that he did with Trapeze, Whitesnake and Phenomena.

This song appeared on the supergroup “Phenomena” project in 1984.

“Lay My Body Down”

It is written by Glenn Hughes and virtuoso guitarist Thomas Larsson.

Another musician from Sweden and the land of the midnight sun. It is a musical Viking conquest.

The song appeared on Hughes’s solo album titled “From Now On…” released in 1994.

“In Your Eyes”

It is from the 1992 John Norum solo album “Face The Truth”.

It is a song written by a super group committee. The writers are Glenn Hughes, John Norum and Peter Baltes from Accept fame, who along with John Norum just finished a stint with Don Dokken.

One thing that is clear is the many relationships that Glenn Hughes as formed. Music is a common language for all walks of life and there is no greater ambassador than Glenn Hughes.

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Semi Obscure Bon Jovi Songs – Part 1

Bon Jovi did big business at the box office this year. During the turmoil of Sambora’s departure, Jon Bon Jovi said that he is not beholden to anyone and that the show will go on. This view point was even more evident when the final Australian leg of the tour was renamed to “Because We Did” from “Because We Can”.

I remember watching them at the recent Sydney show and thinking, man it would be so cool if they brought some of their more obscure songs and made a real night of it. The running time for the show was just over two and a half hours. So I started thinking about some semi-obscure tracks. Then again, are there really any obscure Bon Jovi tracks. Of course everyone knows the singles and even some of those songs have now slipped into obscurity and the radio platforms never go deep enough when they curate their playlists.

THE HARDEST PART IS THE NIGHT

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan and Richie Sambora. It is from the “7800 Degrees Fahrenheit” album released in 1985.

What makes the track is the synths however there is still that Richie Sambora grit with some tasty virtuoso guitar work in the metallic interlude and solo section.

And let’s not forget the harmonies. This is what the album experience is all about. I’ve never heard “The Hardest Part Is The Night” anywhere else except in my own comfort. Then I saw a live performance video clip of it on the “Breakout” video and it cemented itself as a favourite. Yes, we live in a world of Top Forty charts that focus on the songs that moguls believe are hits however ask anybody and they will tell that the non-hit tracks from an album had as much impact as the “hits”.

“Your just a pawn in a losing game
You lose at life it aint no game”

This theme of working hard and still struggling in life would be done to multi-platinum success with “Livin On A Prayer” and “Born To Be My Baby”. This is where it all started. The main character is battling to succeed however he is just a pawn in a losing game.

“Stay alive, the hardest part is the night”

This is when you lay in bed and you just can’t sleep. Things at work could be worrying you, financial matters could be worrying you, health issues could be worrying you. This is when we contemplate, in the night, laying there in the dark.

The hardest part is the night, as we torture ourselves mentally.

Listen to how Sambora plays the Chorus riff. It is a technique that he will employ again in “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “I’d Die For You”.

It is up on YouTube on various channels. The “LoveYouAlec” channel has 192,509 views. The “bonjovi608” channel has 51,236 views. Numerous other channels also have different versions up.

What do the YouTube stats tell me? It is telling me that the song is slowly slipping into obscurity. Even though it has a small fan base that connects with it, compared to other numbers that Bon Jovi are achieving, this song is in the nose bleeds section of the stadium.

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART’

From the debut album released in 1984. “Runaway” took most of the glory as it became a radio staple however to me “Shot Through The Heart” was the reason why I got into Bon Jovi. They even used the title in the “You Give Love A Bad Name” chorus. When I first heard “You Give Love A Bad Name” I came in halfway through, so I thought the song was called “Shot Through The Heart”, so when I went to purchase the album, I saw the “Slippery When Wet” album first and it didn’t have a song on it called “Shot Through The Heart”. I picked up the debut album and saw it on there, so I purchased that instead.

It was written by Jon Bon Jovi and Jack Ponti. Jack Ponti was the guitarist in the band “The Rest” that also featured a very young Jon Bon Jovi on vocals. Despite having some serious endorsements from Southside Johnny and Billy Squier, the band failed to obtain a recording contract and split up. Is the song a leftover from those days?

In an interview with The Aquarian website, this is what Ponti had to say on “The Rest”.

“It was too much time spent on the edge of making it that lead to the frustration and ultimate breakup. It was an important part in the development of my career and Jon Bon Jovi’s career.”

In a separate interview on the Dry County website, this is what Ponti had to say about “Shot Through The Heart.”

“Jon and I remained friends after the Rest. He came over and said “I want to write a song with the title, Shot Through The Heart”, so we did. He was getting songs together for his demo. I know it was over 29 years ago because my wife was pregnant and my daughter is 29. It was written in NJ of course, Toms River to be exact. I think the hook was stronger than on the record, but it’s fine. It’s an important song for both Jon and me in many ways. All your songs are like your children.”

Jack Ponti of course would go on to write with a string of other artists and went on a platinum/Grammy winning home run multiple times.

The track has this infectious piano riff. As the track soldiers it becomes more powerful, especially during the chorus. Again Sambora goes to town in this song, showing his melodic chops.

When you go on YouTube and search for “Shot Through The Heart” the first video that comes back is the official clip of “You Give Love A Bad Name” that has 42,667,226 views on the Bon Jovi Vevo channel.

However, the song “Shot Through The Heart” from the self-titled debut album has the following numbers on different user channels. User “Chris R” has the song at 355,075 views. User “bobjovilover98” has the song at 182,818 views. User “bobsnidery” has the song at 219,479 views. User “xxis16” has the song at 157,683 views. User “ichigo6232” has the song at 123,763 views. User “The Music4Life01” has the song at 148,540 views. It total, 1,187,358 views.

It was good to see the song get some concert time during “The Circle” tour.

HOMEBOUND TRAIN

It’s written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and it’s got this heavy blues rock swagger that just makes it connect.

On “Slippery When Wet” it all came together for Bon Jovi and suddenly they were playing arenas and in some cases stadiums. Then with New Jersey, what can I say. If you were in Australia in the summer of ‘88, “New Jersey” played from every car and every house window. This song came from left field. It was on “New Jersey” released in 1988 and sandwiched amongst all the top 10 singles in “Bad Medicine”, “Born To Be My Baby” and “I’ll Be There For You.”

The track is good but the magic is at the three minute mark when it goes into this Elvis Presley meets James Brown meets Rolling Stones vibe. The guitar drops out and it is the bass and drums that keep the groove going and Jon does a few voice impersonations, while Sambora keeps it funky and they build up the song again when Jon keeps singing “Here I Come”. The interlude is filled with church organ and harmonica lead breaks.

On “The Circle” tour, “Homebound Train” came back into the mix with Richie Sambora on vocals. It is a fitting tribute as Richie is the main creating force on this song. Go on YouTube and watch the band have some fun rocking out to it.

“When I was just a boy
The devil took my hand
Took me from my home
He made me a man”

It’s that whole Robert Johnson legend again. It’s also playing on the term that “Rock N Roll” is the devils music. Listening to the music and letting it take you away. The power of music when done right.

STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN

It’s got this “Rock N Roll Aint Noise Pollution” style intro. This song was released as a bonus track on the Australian version of “Keep The Faith” along with the very U2ish sounding “Save A Prayer”. It is another song written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team

“I been waiting
Standing in the dark of hours
Trying to find the faith and the power
To get back home to you”

It’s got that loneliness vibe that we all feel when we get homesick. “Starting All Over Again” was written after the marathon “New Jersey” tour that more or less happened straight after the marathon “Slippery When Wet” tour.

Jon really throws his voice out in this song and it nails the emotion perfectly. You feel the pain of the constant album/tour cycle that he was on since 1983 to 1990.

“Do you remember
Remember the odds we were given
When we had nothing
And we thought that was living”

Once Bon Jovi made it, the haters came out. When everything gets bigger, the hate is bigger. For a musician to make it in the music business, the odds are really stacked against them.

First and foremost, back in 1983, bands needed to get that record deal to get their music out. So, getting signed is one obstacle. Then once you get signed, it doesn’t mean the record label will give you the all clear to go in and record. They could reject all the demos. That is another obstacle. Once you make a record, it doesn’t mean that people will hear it. That all depends on marketing and word of mouth recommendations. That is another obstacle. Once people hear it, it doesn’t mean that they will like it as all art is subjective. That is another obstacle.

Bon Jovi by album number three overcame all of these obstacles and created a fan base that borrowed from all kinds of genres. When you think of cultural icons, Bon Jovi (the band) is one of them. You also need to remember that just because Bon Jovi had a record deal, it didn’t mean that he had money. When Richie and Jon started to write songs for Slippery When Wet, they were still living with their parents and owed their record label $500,000. Like the lyric states “When we had nothing and we thought that was living.”

“Here’s to our old friend
Who helped us get by
Here’s to the dreamers
May dreams never die
If we believe
We can keep the good times alive”

Let’s have a drink in celebration to all of the people that assisted and let’s have another drink to all the people that are trying to make it. In a way, “Don’t Stop Believin”. If YouTube is a sign of virality then this song has none. Like “The Hardest Part Is The Night” it is slowly being forgotten. For a lot of Bon Jovi fans, they haven’t even heard it.

THE RADIO SAVED MY LIFE TONIGHT

Another tune written for the “Keep The Faith” album that never made it. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

It’s got that major key vibe and it connects with my youth as a regional city kid with dreams. Putting on the radio to listen to the latest in rock. To buy all the music that I like was expensive, so I always purchased blank cassettes and kept my finger ready on the record button to record the latest song.

The radio gave me and many others the freedom and the opportunity to enjoy the music that we liked. This was before advertisers and shareholders strangled it to death by creating playlists based on who pays the most.

“I tried to sleep but in my mind I heard that song
Like a friend in need, the melody keeps me hanging on”

I always went to sleep with music roaming in my headspace. Once a melody captures the imagination, it is forever engraved. This song is vintage Jovi. That is when music works best. When the artist reveals all their insecurities and lets us know that they may not be exactly just like us, but they’re just as screwed up. We are all flawed. The most famous rock and metal stars are messed up like all of us.

The days of the past are gone. The hopes and dreams of youth are also gone, however, the music from the past still lives on. It is our soundtrack.

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Avatar

It’s hard to believe that “Black Waltz” is Avatar’s fourth release. Of course as is the norm these days for me, they are another band from Sweden and the famous Gothenburg melodic death metal scene. It looks like my love affair with Sweden continues. Of course, no one can touch my favourite band, which is the mighty “Evergrey”.

I was interested to check this band out after the guys from Five Finger Death Punch mentioned in an interview that Avatar’s new album is doing the rounds while they are on tour and that it is influencing them in the riff department.

The best way to describe their music is like a circus freakshow. Even one of their songs is titled “Smells Like A Freakshow”. Like Blowsight, Avatar has just so many elements in their music.

Industrial rhythms (like Rammstein) – check

Old Time Rock N Roll boogie – check

Swedish melodic death metal scene (like In Flames) – check

Twisted evil persona’s (like Marilyn Manson) – check

Hyperactive metal (like System of A Down) – check

Modern Metal elements (like Disturbed) – check

Technical Metal elements (like Meshuggah, Sikth) – check

Melodic, arena sized choruses – check

And that is what I got from listening to Black Waltz. A bizarre, melodic, psychotic freakshow.

They started out as a traditional melodic death metal band back in 2001. Since then they have tweaked their sound up to something very unique. Vocalist Johannes Eckerström (the Clown), growls his way through verses and when the choruses come, he turns on the melody.

“Paint Me Red” is about a girl hurting inside and pictures suicide. “Smells Like A Freakshow” is about standing up for yourself and not letting people get you down because they think you are an oddball or a freak. Other favourites include “In Napalm”, “Let It Burn” and “Torn Apart.” Seriously that section from 3.43; it’s like Enya/Enigma with a gothic metal touch. If anyone claims that part doesn’t get their attention they are lying.

So I went on Spotify to see how the band rates there.

So all the above songs except “In Napalm” are in the Top 10 of songs streamed the most.

“Paint Me Red” has 126,338 streams.

“Let It Burn” is the champion at 630,427 streams.

“Torn Apart” has 259,870 streams.

“Smells Like A Freakshow” has 229,755 streams.

We are all looking for greatness. We all want to share what we love. The biggest strength of the album is how it is able to be experimental, yet feel perfectly designed.

That is how you triumph today. You need to be experimental and spontaneous, however it needs to feel cohesive. The Top 40 is all about committee writers and generic songs. When an artist comes from left field, the Top 40 is shocked to its core.

The world today has people paying to get their story spread. Anyone heard the recent viral sensation called “Batkid”. It turns out that viral sensation had a lot of help from some paid friends. Read the story yourself. It was manufactured.

http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2013/11/22/Batkid-Brand-112213.aspx

There is always someone ready to take someone’s money, however what does all of it really do for an artists’ career and what does it do for an artists’ longevity. Manufactured superstars do not have a long shelf life.

Hell, even Bob Seger knew that when he wrote the words to “Old Time Rock N Roll”.

“Today’s music aint got the same soul, I love my old time rock n roll.”

Robb Flynn is doing wonders with his General Journals. It is working for him, and it is engaging his fan base. It doesn’t mean that it will work for every artist however artists need to play in order to win.

That is what Avatar encompasses for me. An eagerness to play and try out some new moves. Like all game winners, it is those moves that come from left field that end up winning the game.

So now that everybody is watching, what will Avatar do?

It comes down to the music. That is what builds careers. Today being an artist means that you need to be creating constantly, building an audience and holding it.

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What does Protest The Hero’s – Volition album teach us about life?

After the success of their debut album “Kezia” back in 2005, Protest The Hero was expected to go into a more commercially viable and poppy influence. So what did the band do? They released “Fortress” in 2008, which was less poppy and more technical. As lead sing Rody Walker put it, “a natural progression into further obscurity.” Basically they wrote what they wanted to write and in the process created something so far removed from a commercial album than expected.

Let’s start with the song “Underbite” as the hilarious puppet clip is doing the rounds on YouTube right now. If you have seen the clip, you will note how the song focuses on artists that fake it. It is focusing on artists that don’t care about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids, who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It is focusing on the merchandise rip off.

In other words don’t rip off your fans. Work with them. Connect with them. Also from an artistic point of view, you need to write what you want to write NOT what you think people will like. Watch the clip and be humoured by their scathing satire of the rockstar mentality.

My favourite song on the album is “Mist.” The song is basically talking about Newfoundland and Rody Walker’s love for it and how once it is all over in music for him it is the place that he wants to settle down in. The lyrics about the “India” showing up back stage before the gig are hilarious and when they hit the stage after pulling a few beeries, it was the like the best show ever. Life throws up all these different paths. Try as many paths as you can, because in the end we are all as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.

“Skies” is what progressive music should be. It is a perfect amalgamation of so many different progressive styles. It’s about uncertainty and the only thing we know is that the “descent is all there truly ever is.”

Then you have the message in “Drumhead Trial.” The drumhead trial is noted for its lack of impartiality. Basically, you are judged by someone who likely hates you. A recent military trial from the US comes to mind.

“Tilting Against Windmills” is basically about the Catholic Church and how it deals with sexuality.

“Without Prejudice” deals with the fixation that people have on wealth. To extend the message to music bands existed once upon a time to create music and for people to hear that music. Then came the corporations and turned music into a monopolistic business. Then bands became fixated with wealth. Fast forward to the now and it’s back to what it was. Bands need to get people to listen again. Hence the reason why Spotify is a big player.

“Yellow Teeth” deals with people judging other people and basically bullying them, either verbally or on line or on blogs.

“Animal Bones” focuses on how Protest The Hero are proud of their past albums like “Kezia” and “Fortress” and while they are proud of those albums, they don’t want to be defined by them forever.

“A Life Embossed” covers new legislation against pitbulls.

Finally the album title. “Volition,” means “the power to make your own choices.” The band made the choice to not lock themselves in for another three album record deal. The band made a choice to use Indiegogo as a fundraiser campaign to record their album. They reached their target instantly. Eight thousand fans made the choice and dedicated their money to make sure another album happened without even hearing a single note of new music.

Then drummer, Moe Carlson, made the choice to leave the band and pursue a different career. Then the band made the choice to get Chris Adler of Lamb of God to track the drums for Volition.

Then the album cover has a message of how the media seems to glorify horrible situations. The media has the power to make choices and it seems they make the choice that involves making profits. The song “Plato’s Tripartite” covers this topic as it looks like it deals with how rape victims are turned into the villains and the monsters that commit the rape aren’t held responsible for their actions.

As an artist you have the power to make your own choices. Make them and live by them. Protest The Hero have. They are a special band. Support them.

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The Unexpected Slow Metal Hit

We live in a world that is all about the NOW. Music quickly comes and it quickly goes. Look at all the Top 10 Lists or the Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up.

For example, I didn’t get a chance to get into the new Trivium album because a week later, I had the new Protest The Hero album and that has taken all of my attention.

However, there are always songs that sit on the outside. Songs that the artist or the band didn’t believe could be a “hit” (I use that term lightly) or a song that should be used as a promotion tool.

But they didn’t count on the fan choices. The fan that today has the power. The fan that could pick and choose what track they could listen too.

Killswitch Engage released “As Daylight Dies” in 2006 and it is there cover of “Holy Diver” that proved to be the sleeper hit. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. it has 6,136,523 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see it has 9,013,222 views.

Alter Bridge released “One Day Remains” in 2004. “Open Your Eyes”, “Find the Real” and “Broken Wings” followed as promotional singles. However it was the metal heavy “Metalingus” and the moving ballad “In Loving Memory” that the fans selected as the hits. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. “Metalingus” has 3,362,193 streams and “In Loving Memory” has 2,690,909 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see that “Metalingus” has over 5,500,000 views from all the combined channels and “In Loving Memory” has over 6,000,000 combined views.

In 2011 Trivium got blasted for the “In Waves” album, however the title track is their biggest so far. On Spotify “In Waves” the song has 3,038,061 streams. On YouTube, the Official Video on the Roadrunner Records channel has 3,423,215 views and a live version of the song on the Trivium Official channel has 2,767,455 views.

Volbeat broke through in the U.S on the back of “Still Counting”. The song was released in 2008 on the “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” album and on 21 July 2012 “Still Counting” was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks US chart. Go on Spotify and it has been streamed 19,779,202 times. Go on YouTube and count the views from all the various channels. They add up.

Bullet For My Valentine led the promotional campaign for their “Temper Temper” album with the song “Riot”, however the fans didn’t care about that song as much as they cared about “Breaking Point” and “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”.

As much as Dream Theater is trying to promote the current version of the band, they can’t escape their past. The Spotify Top 10 of Dream Theater has the 9 songs from the new self titled album (that proved to be a dud), plus “On The Backs Of Angels” from the previous album. However if you go on YouTube the fans don’t care about the new album currently. “Wither”, “Pull Me Under” and “Another Day” still get the attention.

This is very different to Avenged Sevenfold, who have people very interested in their new album. In addition, all the other media outlets and bands that are talking about the album, all they are doing is adding to the legend of it. Hail To The King I say. “Shepherd Of Fire” is doing the rounds on my iPod.

Protest The Hero have led the promotional campaign of their new album “Volition” with “Clarity”, “Drumhead Trail” and “Underbite” however, it is “Mist” and “Skies” that is getting the conversation.

The market place today isn’t about the hit song now. It is about new songs vs old songs. Metal and rock songs are always late bloomers. There is no formula as to why certain songs resonate more than others with fans.

I like the story about how Dave Mustaine assisted Stryper in selecting their lead off single from the “No More Hell To Pay” album. They had a different song choice for the lead single and changed their minds after they had a chat with the Megadeth front man. Dave told them that his favourite track is “Sympathy”. This made Michael Sweet change his mind for the lead off single. That track is listed as Number 11 on the album and to be honest it is a kick arse song.

Sure, back in the day when the record labels ruled, they would employ a scorched earth policy to market a band and the lead off single and naturally we would bite as we had the time to invest and there was nothing really else out there.

YouTube and Spotify play a big part today in transforming a song into a phenomenon. Television also plays it’s part. Look at all the hit shows and they all have a section where a certain song plays and it conveys the emotion of the scene that no other music can.

Sons Of Anarchy comes to mind here, especially at the end of Season 2, when the song “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” from Straylight Run played in the epic last 5 minutes of the final episode.

Look at what Breaking Bad did for “Baby Blue” by Badfinger.

My wife was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and because of that show she got into Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

In the end all artists need to do is create great music. The fans will latch onto it eventually.

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Who Is the Real Star? The Band Name or the Personnel In The Band

There is an article doing the rounds at the Hollywood Reporter about how “The Walking Dead” is TV’s number 1 show and that the stars of the show are still largely unknown.

So it got me thinking. I was very interested to check out the show based on my love of the Horror genre. Once I checked it out, I was hooked. I didn’t start watching the show because they had certain actors in it. The only actor I was aware of was Daryl’s brother and that was from the movie Cliffhanger with Stallone and that was after watching a few episodes. So I got into the show because i was a fan of the horror genre.

However I got into “Sons Of Anarchy” because hard-core friends eventually got me to invest some time in it.

The point I am trying to make is that we get into certain TV shows, movies or artists based on a thousand different reasons. One thing is clear; we don’t get into these cultural icons because of the people in them.

For example, when Metallica started on the scene, no one was walking around saying that they got into Metallica because James Hetfield was such a cool cat or Lars Ulrich was the man. We got into Metallica for multiple reasons. For example, we were fans of the metal genre, the songs connected with us; we wanted to be part of the conversation and so on. From the outset, we become fans because of the music we hear.

That is what culture is all about. Sharing stories about the things we love.

Of course some outliers do exist and some artists have a cultural influence that transcends their music. They become institutions themselves. For example, Slash is now a cultural institution. Ozzy Osbourne is a cultural institution albeit with a lot of help from his “friends”. Nikki Sixx is a cultural institution. Robb Flynn is a cultural institution. Dee Snider is a cultural icon. These artists can all survive on their own. They are brand names themselves.

It’s taken Slash almost 14 years from when he left Gunners to re-establish and re-brand himself as a force to be reckoned with. That happened in 2010 with the release of his solo album and with a little help from his friends.

Randy Rhoads and Bob Daisley helped Ozzy Osbourne break the shackles of Black Sabbath. Jake E. Lee and Phil Soussan enhanced what Randy Rhoads and Bod Daisley created. Zakk Wylde turned it all into a blockbuster with “No More Tears” being the pinnacle.

Nikki Sixx re-invented himself and Motley Crue by first gaining control of Motley Crue’s back catalogue from Elektra Records. A task that no other artist had accomplished before. Then he pushed for the writing of “The Dirt”. Since then, he has become a solo artist with Sixx AM, a song writer for other artists, a social media junkie, a photographer, a literary writer and a radio personality.

Robb Flynn showed the world that he can survive. He really went out of his comfort zone recently and performed acoustically. He survived the “Through The Ashes of Empires” era and lived to tell the tale. Talk about Grit and Roll. It was music all the way, with no safety net. No plan B. His Journals are pure gold. Even if you don’t like Machine Head’s music, you can still appreciate the Journal Ramblings. For any artist starting off, there is information in there that is real. There is information there that is not sugar-coated by a mainstream writer.

Dee Snider, what else can be said. Read his bio.

These artists have all connected with us on different levels. They have become so large in people’s lives that they have become cultural institutions themselves. We then stick with these institutions through the good times and the bad times.

So what about all the other artists. Well for the remainder of the artists it is still about the music. They need to have the music pumping out and they need to make connections.

Dee Snider once said that there are no more rock stars in this day and age. I took that to mean, that in the internet age, there are no real recognizable faces to put to certain bands. While I agree with that comment in parts, I also disagree with it.

For example, Coheed and Cambria has Claudio Sanchez. Watch them live and you get to see the hair. Instantly recognizable.

Five Finger Death Punch has Zoltan Bathory with the dreadlocks and the UFC/mixed martial arts look. They have Ivan Moody and the Mohawk.

Shinedown has Brent Smith, who performs like an adrenaline injected Steve Tyler.

Black Veil Brides have, well they have the whole band.

Avenged Sevenfold have Eighties rock star stage names with instantly recognisable faces.

However if any of the band members in the above mentioned bands, decide to go on their own, it will be a tough slog for them as the bands they are in have all become cultural institutions. Then you have a band like Protest The Hero who look like normal guys going to University.

So going back to “The Walking Dead”. The show is the rock star. That is the cultural institution.

So for any wannabe rock stars, think about all of the above for a second. No one is going to wake up tomorrow morning and think to themselves, “damn, I want to hear some music from Zoltan Bathory, or “Insert New Artist name here””.

We wake up in the morning and think to ourselves, “damn, we want to hear some Five Finger Death Punch. We wake up and go “damn its “The Walking Dead” tonight.”

That is what a lot of misguided artists fail to grasp when they leave a certain cultural institution citing musical differences. They (meaning the person) were never the stars. The band name is the star and it always will be.

That is why Guns N Roses is still rolling along, playing to large audiences.

That is why Tommy Lee returned to Motley Crue.

That is why James Hetfield returned to Metallica after rehab. That is why Lars Ulrich never contemplated anything else except Metallica during this period.

That is why Dave Mustaine resurrected Megadeth after he disbanded the band.

That is why Dimebag didn’t want Pantera to end. He knew that Pantera was the star.

That is why David Lee Roth worked with Van Halen again. That is why Sammy Hagar wants to work with Van Halen again.

That is why Alex Skolnick returned to Testament.

That is why there is a fight over who owns the right to the Queensryche name.

That is why Benjamin Burnley went all legal for the right to use the Breaking Benjamin name.

That is why Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to Iron Maiden.

That is why Rob Halford returned to Judas Priest.

That is why Black Sabbath reformed with three of the original members and released ’13’.

That is why bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Poison and Skid Row are still continuing.

That is why Joey Belladonna returned to Anthrax and why Scott Ian is still continuing the band.

That is why Slayer is continuing without Jeff Hanneman.

To finish off with the immortal words of Ronnie James Dio “And on and on and on and on it goes….”

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