A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories

In Songs We Trust

Every person who picks up an instrument can or will eventually play it. But can they write songs. The talents to play an instrument and to write a song with music, lyrics and melodies are very different talents.

Spotify’s Discover Weekly is based on recommending songs from artists I could like based on my listening habits. Song’s is the key word here.

When bands start the marketing push for a new album, they release a song or two or three or four in the lead up to the album release.

And when I come across a song from a band/artist I haven’t heard off, I normally go to their Spotify catalogue to hear more. And sometimes, I am surprised at how good the band/artist is, so I dig deeper into the back catalogue. Sometimes, I can’t believe how poor the other songs are, compared to the one that Spotify Discover recommended. Other times, I enjoy the listening experience, but when it’s over, I can’t really remember the titles or the melodies the next day.

So it got me thinking, why?

Music to me is all about emotions. It needs to give me an emotion, a feeling or a message that connects. If the song doesn’t connect, then all the marketing and promotions is pointless.

I heard “The Stage” from Avenged Sevenfold and the song just didn’t connect. Give me “Shepherd of Fire”, “Hail To The King” or “Coming Home” any day over “The Stage”. I was going to check the whole album out, but at almost 75 minutes long, it’s a decent investment of time, so I deferred it. And when I did hear the album, I heard some brilliant sections but no real song.

And in 2016, it’s hard to sort through the noise and there is some quality, some not so quality and some almost quality, if you know what I mean.

I remember towards the end of the Eighties, hard rock and glam rock bands got signed all the time. The greedy labels over saturated the market with diluted quality. They got talented musicians and sold them the dream of fame and fortune. Once they had their signature on paper, they told them to go and write songs like “Cherry Pie”.

Have you read or heard what Jani Lane (RIP) said about “Cherry Pie”?

Google, “Jani Lane wishes he never wrote Cherry Pie”.

The album was done and it was going to be called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” but the label wanted a hit song or they wouldn’t release the album. Jani had two options, tell the label to go “Fuck themselves” and he knew his songs would never be heard or he could comply with their request, write them a sugar pop song and get the album out.

We all know how the “Cherry Pie” story goes!

And when Warrant released a mature and super heavy follow up album that didn’t contain a hit in “Dog Eat Dog”, it bombed commercially. Suddenly the band had no major record deal.

If you look back at Warrant’s career, it was a song that sold the album to the masses.

Europe broke through the mainstream with “The Final Countdown” and the label then wanted them to write more hits, even calling in outside writers to assist with the process. I am pretty sure when Joey Tempest sat down to write “The Final Countdown”, he didn’t say to himself, “okay, it’s time to write a hit song”. He just wrote a song and that was it.

Kiss (who was already working with outside writers) decided to replicate the “Slippery When Wet” formula with “Crazy Nights” and “Hot In The Shade” and didn’t really succeed commercially, although I do dig this era of Kiss.

Meanwhile Aerosmith’s career got resurrected when Joe Perry and Steven Tyler started to work with Jim Vallance and Desmond Child for “Permanent Vacation” and “Pump”. When “Get A Grip” came out, each track had contributions from different songwriters.

In the end, a song or two would sell an album past the million mark. In other words, songs sell, albums don’t.

The same deal goes for prog bands. They need great songs to draw the listener in.

“Pull Me Under is the song which broke Dream Theater to the masses. It is also the most simplest Dream Theater song to learn and play. The whole “Images and Words” album is full of great songs with the progressive technical passages fine-tuned to small sing along sections. I swear I can hum “Learning To Live”, “Metropolis”, “Take The Time” and “Under A Glass Moon” to you. Dream Theater built a career off this album. If Dream Theater’s career started off with the technical wizardry of the Jordan Rudess era, they wouldn’t be as big as they are right now.

When Ozzy’s career was relaunched with the Blizzard Of Ozz band (that became the Ozzy band when the record was released), it was on the back of great songs, not on controversy. A simple catchy AC/DC style song like “Flying High Again” got radio airplay. It was only a matter of time before “Crazy Train” and “Goodbye To Romance” would become radio staples, along with “I Don’t Know”.

When the Whitesnake album exploded in 1987, it was really on the back of “Here I Go Again”. It was a cross over hit. Credit John Kalodner, who signed Whitesnake to Geffen and knew what needed to happen.

When Def Leppard released “Slang” in 1996, it was an attempt to play to a new audience that never liked them to begin with, and never would. But what had disappeared from “Slang” was the song. I purchased the album and played it to death over an eight week period. Three songs got more attention than others, but for the life of me, I am struggling to think of the titles. I think “Deliver Me” was one title. I could go to Google and check, but music should be instant recognizable if it is great. And “Slang” had nothing great on it.

When Megadeth released “Risk”, I was curious as to what audience they were trying to win over? It definitely wasn’t the core audience. Industrial fans wouldn’t embrace them and the speed metal fans would abandon them. But if the album had some quality tunes, then maybe a different story would be told. But it didn’t.

In songs we trust.

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

Say Hello To Lemmy From Motorhead

Lemmy Kilmister has been in the news again for ill-health and for some reason Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears” album came to mind. Great album and if you want a great review of it, look no further than the one that Bob Lefsetz did.

You see, while Ozzy Osbourne went onto another victory lap with the “No More Tears” album, selling millions, Lemmy continued his niche career, putting out “1916”, “March Or Die” and “Bastards” within a year of each other.

History will show that if it wasn’t for good old Lemmy writing some killer lyrics, the album would have been a different beast as two of his tracks proved cross-over hits.

Several of the tracks “I Dont Want To Change The World”, “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, “Desire” and “Hellraiser” were all co-written with Lemmy from Motorhead. In a Hot Metal interview from October 1991, this is what Ozzy said about the Lemmy Kilmister connection;

“The reason I got Lemmy to help out with some of the lyrics is that I like his tongue in cheek attitude. He’s cynical, but he can say fuck you in four sentences. One the greatest lines he wrote was “Tell me I’m a sinner, I got news for you, I spoke to God this morning and he don’t like you.” I’d hum a melody and sing “Mama I’m coming home” and he would take it from there. It’s really weird coz I listen to that song and it’s as if i wrote it. It’s as he’s read my mind.”

Lemmy further recalls the arrangement in his autobiography “White Line Fever”.

“That was one of the easiest gigs I ever had – Sharon rang me up and said, ‘I’ll give you X amount of money to write some songs for Ozzy’, and I said, ‘All right – you got a pen?’ I wrote six or seven sets of words, and he ended up using four of them…I made more money out of writing those four songs than I made out of fifteen years of Motörhead – ludicrous, isn’t it?!”

Ludicrous alright.

The “No More Tears” album was meant to be called “Say Hello To Heaven”. At the last-minute, it got changed. Ozzy said in a Hot Metal interview from November 1991, that the album was originally scheduled to be released at the beginning of 1991, however it took a significantly longer time to see the light of day. It finally came out in September 1991.

First there was the change of producers from “Thompson/Barbiero” to “Rick Rubin” to “Duane Baron/John Purdell”. The shift from Thompson/Barbiero to Rick Rubin involved the scrapping of all the work on the grounds that it was too much like Black Sabbath.

 

As with previous Ozzy projects, a certain bass player from the past was also involved up to a certain point.

Bob Daisley got another SOS call from Ozzy’s camp after all of the songs were written and played on the whole album. Daisley was also the original lyrical writer for the songs, however according to Daisley, Sharon Osbourne didn’t want to pay him and that is where Lemmy came into the picture.

However, Lemmy would also experience some of the pain that Bob Daisley and Jake E.Lee experienced about not been credited for their work. In an interview on Banger.com, this is how Lemmy put it.

“I wrote two songs on that album (Ozzmosis)-one they didn’t fucking credit me for! And I did four on “No More Tears”. So that’s six. Ozzy and I are old friends and he asked me to give him some songs for the new album-I gave him ten, he used two. It’s not a very inspiring album, I didn’t think, especially after “No More Tears”

History will show that Ozzy Osbourne wrote every song on the “Bark At The Moon” album and history will also show Lemmy as having one songwriting credit on Ozzmosis.

That’s show business, where the people with the money get to do what they want and the ones that actually contribute something worthwhile get shafted.

And Lemmy is a true superhero. For him it was all about the music. His output is massive.

Live long Lemmy.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Songs Based On Inspiration Rather Than Logic

That is the difference between everlasting music and throwaway crap. You wanna know why Shinedown had a lot of success with “The Sound of Madness” in 2008. It’s because the songs were inspired and genuine. The audience loved the throwbacks to the classic rock of the Seventies. The fan base connected with the lyrical themes. Look at Spotify and YouTube and you will see that one of the most streamed/viewed songs from the album is “Call Me” and it wasn’t even a single.

You see, when fans get behind a band there are so many reasons why they do it. It could be a lifestyle choice. It could be a song connection. There is no exact formula, however the labels will still try to re-create those successes by signing many other bands in an attempt to emulate what Shinedown achieved with “The Sound Of Madness”.

Sort of like how Daughtry and James Durbin went off into the sunset to chase the pop trends of Coldplay, Casting Crowns and Train. Logic will tell you that if you write a song that is of similar calibre it will connect with an audience. But for both of those artists, it failed to pay off. “Baptism” and “Celebrate” both took a long time to complete and they more or less disappeared from the conversation within a week.

Why is “The End Of Heartache” from Killswitch Engage seen as an important album?

The reason why this album is seen as an important album and a classic is that it gave every guitar player hope for a future. The guitar playing on the album is phenomenal and it brought back metal to the masses in a major way. And with anything that is successful, people copy it and try to emulate that same success with other bands. The record labels saturated the market with copycat acts which more or less ensures that the metalcore movement suffers the same fate as the glam/rock movement. The media labelled it as metalcore. For Adam Dutkiewicz and crew, “The End Of Heartache” is basically a band that was refusing to dance to someone else’s tune.

“It’s almost like today’s songs are all written with the same formula – they have the same snare sound, the same bass sound and that generic heavy rock guitar tone.”
Jake E Lee said the above in an interview with Guitar World September 1991 issue.

Why do I mention it?

Because it is TRUTH.

Anyway remember the bands at the forefront of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal. Bands like Bleeding Through, Shadows Fall and Chimaira. All gone. God Forbid is also gone. After 15 years plus in the game, they couldn’t work out how to stay relevant, how to find new fans, how to maintain existing fans and how to create new music that cuts through the noise.

On a personal level, I supported Chimaira and Shadows Fall. On their last couple of releases I was getting the feel that their songs started to focus on a more logical structure. Robb Flynn recently referred to this situation as “samey”.

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Music

All I Want Is That Wicked Sensation

Towards the end of 2013, I started going back to the Eighties/early nineties bands I was into. That meant bringing out albums from Blue Murder, Badlands, Lynch Mob, Whitesnake and Dio. I call the Blue Murder, Badlands and Lynch Mob albums as “The Three Kings”. Each band had a guitar player that either left (or was fired) from a bigger band. Blue Murder had John Sykes post Whitesnake, Badlands had Jake E Lee post Ozzy and Lynch Mob had George Lynch post Dokken.

Dokken didn’t get much traction in Australia so you rarely saw them on the music television shows in Australia. So my first introduction to Dokken was a movie called “A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors” released in 1987. I rarely stayed to watch the end credits of movies, however when that Am power chord to tri tone riff started I remained seated.

“Dream Warriors” is written by George Lynch and Jeff Pilson. That is why Dokken worked and in the end that is why Dokken imploded. They had a trio of great songwriters in George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Don Dokken. They had two guitar players in George Lynch and Don Dokken. Listen to the live recording “From Conception: Live 1981” to hear Lynch and Dokken trading licks. Jeff Pilson was a multi-instrumentalist, playing bass, guitar and piano, as well as being a very competent singer.

I found the single and purchased it. Side 1 had “Dream Warriors” and as B-sides there was a song called “Back For The Attack” and “Paris Is Burning”. Then I saw George Lynch on the cover of Guitar World. Guitar God was a term used a lot in the Eighties. In 2014, it doesn’t have the same weight as it used to have back in 1987. So I purchased the “Back For The Attack” album and then I went looking for their back catalogue.

So just when Dokken had the world in their hands, unresolved internal conflicts made the members part ways. The internal conflicts stem back from the beginning of Dokken. This is how drummer Mick Brown summed up the conflicts;

“I ran into George Lynch in Northern California. I was real serious about becoming a professional musician, a famous musician a ROCK STAR if you know what I mean and George went along with it. Now George was originally from Southern California and he moved back down there and said “If you really want to do it, this is where you gotta be”. So as soon as I finished High School I raced down to LA and we started chasing our careers there.”

“Then running into Don Dokken, and a few years after that he took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract. So he called me up to play. I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs. But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started. I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” (laughing) but he did anyway.”

“So there became the problem right away, but even in spite of that, in spite of the difficulties of the inner workings of the band, we never really had problem making music it was always the personality issues that we seemed to fail at.”

So Dokken ends up imploding and George Lynch formed “Lynch Mob”. This is how bassist, Anthony Esposito words it, in an interview on the Metal-Rules website;

“Everybody picked sides when Dokken broke up; Elektra said “We’re going to stay with George. Don, we’re letting you go, we don’t care.”, so Don went to Geffen. The management company Q Prime said “We’re going to stay with Don. George, you’re free to go.” because they figured Don would get to keep the name Dokken, which he didn’t because the other three guys sued him. When the sides were picked up, Elektra was like “We think George has got something more to offer than Don does, so we’re going to go with him.” and we made “Wicked” and it went gold and Don’s record didn’t do nearly as well, so I guess Bob Krasnow did the right choice. That label was brilliant back then, they had Metallica, Mötley Crue, us, Faster Pussycat, there was like five gold, platinum bands. It was a good label.”

In relation to Elektra being a good label, I am sure Dee Snider and Joe Lynn Turner would have different viewpoints.

If there was any doubt to Lynch’s guitar god status, “Wicked Sensation” cemented it. As good as Lynch is, I always saw Lynch Mob as a band. Oni Logan on vocals steals the show on the recording. He was the perfect voice for Lynch’s first project post Dokken however rumours persisted that his lifestyle got in the way of the live show.

I didn’t even know that Lynch Mob had a new album out or that George Lynch had a new band. It was a school friend of mine that was a mad Dokken fan that told me, because he had older brothers, who had more money, who could afford to buy magazines and so forth. That is how we found out our musical information in 1990. If we had the funds, we would purchase the expensive music magazines or we will stand in the newsagent all day reading them. If we didn’t have funds, then the information was passed down from people who had funds.

In an interview on the Liberty and Justice website this is what Oni Logan said on how he got the gig;

“So here’s the truth, believe it or not: “I wished it.” That’s right, I’m not kidding. You see when you want something so badly, the power and energy that you release has its way of working for you. Thoughts about the recording: I love it! It was probably one of the most exciting times to be in a rock n’ roll band. Think about it. America was rocking.”

By jumping ship to Lynch Mob, Logan walked out on his “Cold Sweat” bandmates who had just secured a major label contract and were so close to recording the debut. “Cold Sweat” was the band that former Keel guitarist Marc Ferrari started up once Keel broke up. The industry at the time was controlled by gatekeepers and Logan’s decision to jump to the Lynch Mob camp made a lot of people angry.

This is what Marc Ferrari had to say on Oni Logan’s departure in an interview on the SleazeRoxx website;

“George Lynch was obviously a higher profile guitarist than me. Oni was promised the moon by George and it was a decision that he made. Yeah it was rather unfortunate for us because he left our band the day we went into the studio to record the debut album. I can’t say that it was the proper thing or the right thing to do because he put a lot of people’s careers on hold while he made that decision. Things have worked out though, I have spoken with Oni since then and I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with George, so everything’s good between us now.

I discovered Oni, not like Columbus discovered America or anything, but he was putting up dry walls in Florida when he came to my attention. He moved out to California with me and he did his first professional demos with me. We did a handful of shows around here showcasing the band. He felt he needed to make that move for his career, obviously Lynch Mob made a great record.”

Another key factor was the addition of a new bassist. During a recent concert performance in 2012, Lynch told the audience that the first bass player in Lynch was Robbie Crane. This is what the actual bass player Anthony Esposito had to say on how he got the gig in an interview on Metal-Rules.com;

“They (Beggars and Thieves) auditioned like 70 bass players and it was down to me and Phil Soussan. He had played with Billy Idol, Jimmy Page and Ozzy and I was 19 at the time and hadn’t played with anybody, so they went with him. And then I got Lynch Mob right after that. That was how I met the girl at Atlantic, because Beggars and Thieves was on Atlantic, so she got me like seven auditions in seven days, it was Lynch Mob, it was Don Dokken, it was Ronnie James Dio, it was like Alice Cooper, There was something like seven top options to choose from.”

“I got everyone and the only one that wasn’t a salary, that was a band member, that was partnership percentage was Lynch Mob, so I went with Lynch Mob. So I did that and we made “Wicked Sensation”. That was a really great time in my life, we released WICKED, my son Tyler was born and we did the first world tour, all in the same year. I knew that we were making a special record and I just kept saying in the back of my head “If this record came out three years earlier, this band would be huge.”, but because we released it the same year that Nirvana, it was done. If that would have come out like Whitesnake’s “1987”, if it had come out three years earlier, Lynch Mob would have been huge.”

Actually Nirvana released “Nevermind” in September 1991 and Lynch Mob released “Wicked Sensation” in October 1990, so that comparison from Esposito is incorrect.

It is a common theme within the hard rock circles that grunge killed off the hard rock movement. That is just an easy way to look at it. The bottom line is this; hard rock was killing itself off. By 1990, the hard rock market was saturated with so many bands, it was overkill. The supply was there, however the demand was shifting. Society was changing. Originally there was Heavy Metal. That then diverged into different genre’s like glam metal, thrash metal, pop metal, hard rock, pop rock, soft rock. Then those genre’s got diluted even more and some merged with other genres. Fans started to gravitate to certain styles of music. In my area there was a split, between the thrash/death metal heads and the rock heads. Once upon a time we where all together, united as the metal militia. Now we had taken up arms against each other.

“Wicked Sensation”, “All I Want”, “Hell Child”, “No Bed of Roses”, “For A Million Years” and “Through These Eyes” steal the show in my opinion.

“Wicked Sensation” and “Hell Child” had Lynch writing the music with Logan the lyrics. “All I Want” had Lynch writing the music with Logan, Esposito and Brown writing the lyrics. “No Bed Of Roses” had Lynch and producer Norman writing the music with Logan the lyrics. “Through These Eyes” had Lynch writing the music, and Logan, Lynch and Esposito writing the lyrics. “For A Million Years” had Lynch writing the music, and Logan and Lynch writing the lyrics.

The credits mentioned above are written against each individual song, however in another area of the CD sleeve after all the production credits finish and just before the thank you’s start it states; “All compositions written and arranged by Lynch Mob.” So who gets credited for what on this album.

This is what Anthony Esposito had to say on the writing of the album;

It was all new material, none of that was ever going to be a Dokken record. George plays the way George plays and there are always little turnarounds that he’ll always throw in. Oni [Logan] is a genius at taking little things, like “Do that little lick, George. Give me that.” and making that the verse or… you’ll hear it in VIOLET’S DEMISE when he did it with Rowan [Robertson]. Oni’s very talented with that; you can hear what Oni did to George. My argument is that George goes around telling everybody that he wrote all the music, listen to every record George did after that and it doesn’t come close. WICKED SENSATION was completely a band effort and the reason why it came out so great is you had [Wild] Mick [Brown], Mick is like the king of the chorus, he writes these big choruses, these hooks, he’s like a Beatle guy. It was all of our colours and I’m the dark guy, I was always like the punk rock guy. I think I brought in the dark textures like “For a Million Years” and “Hell Child” that are like dark, you know, because Dokken wasn’t dark, Dokken was “foofoo”, with a great guitar player. Lynch Mob had none of that, it’s all the elements of the four of us and that made that record so awesome because it wasn’t just one guy writing it all.

Producer, Max Norman was Dimebag’s original choice to produce Pantera’s major label debut and Norman was actually offered the Pantera production gig, however he turned it down to work with Lynch Mob instead. As history would show, Terry Date produced “Cowboys From Hell” and Max Norman produced “Wicked Sensation”.

”Wicked Sensation” is a blues metal boogie with Mick Brown delivering a rattlesnake drum beat over a sleazy tri-tone boogie in C#minor. Oni Logan delivers a sleazy vocal line, dripping in innuendo and continues it was “River Of Love”.

“All I Want” is a real stand out on the first side. It’s got that bluesy 12/8 boogie laid down by Brown and Esposito and a ballsy arena rock chorus that puts Bon Jovi to shame. When the lead break kicks in, its shredalicious. It’s got trills, taps, legato, open string licks, string skipping and a lot of feel.

Side 2 has a few gems. “No Bed Of Roses” is up there as one hell of good melodic rock song. Everything about it is perfect.

The stand out is “For A Million Years”.

In 1990, I was in a rut in relation to my guitar playing. “Wicked Sensation” re-awakened my desire and showed me new ways to play chords, create rhythms and structures. Much in the same way that the “Randy Rhoads Tribute” album became my bible, “Wicked Sensation” was next in my evolution.

http://www.libertynjustice.net/gettoknow_oni.php

http://www.sleazeroxx.com/interviews/marcferrari.shtml

http://www.metal-rules.com/metalnews/2008/05/13/anthony-esposito-part-ii-ace-frehley-band-ex-lynch-mob/

http://dbgeekshow.blogspot.ca/2012/11/wild-mick-brown-talks-t.html?m=1

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Review in 40 Words

Review in 40 Words – Alter Bridge – Fortress (2013)

Brilliant album. Tremonti and Kennedy are a formidable songwriting team. This album is an extension of ABIII with extra influences added. “Fortress” solo section is worth the price of the album. “Children of The Grave” merged with “Revelation (Mother Earth)”.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

So What Is It With Bands And Producers Not Liking Each Other After An Album Explodes?

What is it with artist’s dishing out hate on a producer that was involved in producing their greatest triumph?

A good producer is meant to be tough and opinionated. They are meant to challenge the artist, so that the artist delivers the goods. Look at what Bob Rock did to Kirk Hammet in Metallica, especially around “The Unforgiven” solo piece. If you look at Kirk’s legacy that will be the solo that he will be remembered by. I remember in the “Classic Albums” documentary of the “Black” album, as well as in the video, “A Year and A Half With Metallica”, Bob Rock said something similar like, “it is a great song and it needs a great lead. What Kirk is playing at the moment is not great. He has to live and breathe this solo.”

Bob Rock got the guys to slow down the tempo on “Sad But True” and detune everything down a whole step. He told Lars Ulrich to take drum lessons before he started to record his parts. Which producer does that? Lars Ulrich is coming off 4 definitive thrash albums and there is Bob Rock telling him to take drum lessons. He questioned James on his lyrics and his melodies, something that hasn’t been done before. He recommended vocal lessons as well to the formidable front man.

Lars even said that once the Black album was finished, he couldn’t talk or see Bob Rock for over 12 months. Bob Rock has even gone on record saying that it was a tough album to make. The end result is every bands dream coming true. The biggest selling album of the SOUNDSCAN era with a total of 16 million sales as at December 2012. The Black album still to this day moves 2,000 units per week in the U.S. A a lot of websites pointed out that it outsold, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider”.

As much as Nikki Sixx dishes on Tom Werman, the facts are out there. With Tom Werman, Motley Crue had three multi-platinum albums in “Shout At The Devil”, “Theatre of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Each album has sold 4 million copies plus in the U.S. That is a total of 12 million plus sales in the U.S market. Furthermore, the bulk of the “Decade Of Decadence” album is made up of songs from these albums, and that album also sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. In addition, the “Music To Crash Your Car” box sets also had the three albums produced by Tom Werman on them.

If all the stories about the drug use from the Motley Crue members are to be believed, then Tom Werman deserves special recognition for getting anything musical onto tape.

Dee Snider also doesn’t have many kind words for Tom Werman. If anyone has read Dee’s bio, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic,” you can connect the dots and come to a conclusion that Dee is also blaming Tom Werman for the failure of Twisted Sister’s next album even though Tom Werman never worked on it. The routine used to be that Dee Snider would be working on songs for the next album, while the current album is being mixed.

According to Dee, in his bio “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” due to Werman being difficult to work with and Mark Mendoza doing his best to sabotage everything that Dee was working on, he couldn’t take the time out from the studio to work on songs for the next album. So when it came time to write the songs for Come Out And Play after the hugely successful “Stay Hungry” tour, Dee’s mindset was in a different place. He had money, he had fame, he had success and he didn’t have the same hunger, anger and motivation that he had during the Stay Hungry recording. If he wrote the songs during the “Stay Hungry” sessions, the output could have been very different. Super producer, Bob Ezrin even passed on working on “Come Out And Play”, because he didn’t hear any great songs.

However, the facts are there. The Tom Werman produced “Stay Hungry”, sold over 3 million copies in the U.S alone. The singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” also sold by the truck load and they sounded great on radio, due to special radio mixes that Tom Werman did for them. It’s funny that the song “The Price”, didn’t get the same radio mix and it tanked as a single, even though it is the strongest of all three songs.

In relation to Nikki Sixx and Dee Snider, Werman said the following on Popdose.com;

“There were two individual musicians who had a problem with me in the studio out of about 200 musicians I produced. Nikki Sixx was a friend until he revised history in his book. Dee Snider was a friend, until the Twisted Sister album became a hit, and he couldn’t deal with sharing the credit for its success. Both of these guys were literally back-slapping glad-handers; years later, they soured badly. I had fine relationships with all the other members of those two bands.”

Kix was another band that was critical of Tom Werman. Bassist and band leader, Donnie Purnell hated and distrusted Werman.

George Lynch from Dokken also had a problem with Tom Werman, when Werman requested that he play a better lead break on a particular song. If you believe Don Dokken, George Lynch has an uncontrollable ego. If you believe George Lynch, Don Dokken has an uncontrollable ego. Regardless who you believe, when Lynch was asked to play a better lead break, he had a dummy spit.

And now here are the facts for Dokken’s “Tooth N Nail” and Kix’s “Blow My Fuse”. Both albums on release went to GOLD status within a year. “Tooth N Nai”l was released in 1984 and ended up reaching PLATINUM status in the U.S in 1989 (yep that’s right, four years after its release), after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album, got people interested in Dokken’s back catalogue. “Back For The Attack” reached PLATINUM status within 2 months of its release date.

“Blow My Fuse” was released on September 12, 1988. By November 2, 1988, seven weeks later, the album was certified GOLD by the RIAA. In May 1989, the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was released. By February 5, 1990, eight months later, the single was certified GOLD by the RIAA. Finally, on August 28, 2000, the “Blow My Fuse” album was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. Yep, that is almost 12 years from when it was released. This is what the artist of today need to take into account. Great music will live on and it will keep on selling for a long time.

However, so many artists and record label executives want the platinum sales with the first release. Dokken’s back catalogue sold well after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album (their 4th album). Metallica’s back catalogue sold even more, after the mega successful “Black” album (their 5th album). Motley Crue’s back catalogue sold well again after the mega successful “Dr Feelgood” album (their 5th album). However in today’s mindset of profits before creativity, most bands will not get to the fourth or fifth album. Most bands will not have a comeback like Aerosmith or Alice Cooper did in the Eighties. I digress.

Dream Theater, especially Mike Portnoy blasted Dave Prater on the “Images and Words” sessions, however with Prater at the helm, Dream Theater had their biggest album to date. Read the book “Lifting Shadows”. The interviews with Prater are brilliant. The rebuttals of the band members are in some cases subdued but fiery at the same time. Somewhere in between all of the stories is the truth.

Of course, Dream Theater with Dave Prater at the helm have had their most success in relation to album sales. “Images And Words” is the album that Dream Theater is still doing victory laps with in 2013.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Vito Bratta: A Rock N Roll Technician That Got Lost In All The Noise

Vito Bratta is one of the most searched artists on the internet, especially around what he is doing right now. Like me, thousands of other people that visit this blog, can’t believe that a talent like Vito, just walked away from it all.

In order to understand why Vito Bratta walked away from it all and stopped writing music, I went back into the past and I started re-reading a lot of the interviews I have from him.

THE STATE OF SONGWRITING

In a “Guitar World” interview from July 1991, Vito had the following to say on the state of his guitar playing vs. song writing.

“A weird thing happened to me this year I started thinking less in terms of guitar and more about song writing. I’ve never been the kind of player to showboat, but more and more I’ve been concerning myself with structuring and orchestrating.

On the last record, everyone commented on my playing, but hardly anyone said anything about the songs. That really bothered me. This year people have been saying. “Man, that song killed me.” which I prefer. When I heard the last Van Halen record, my comment was. “It’s not Eddie any more, but the songs sure are great.” That’s the way it should be.”

Vito thought he needed to change to accommodate the expectations of the fans and the label. In the end, the fans didn’t want him to change. We loved him exactly as he was. His guitar playing made the songs.

So Vito changes the way he thinks around songwriting. The results don’t generate into sales. In 1991, success in the music business was relative to the sales of the record. The confidence and the self-doubt that comes with disappointment is enough to kill a career.

Brad Tolinski, the person who was conducting the interview mentioned to Vito that it seemed that he made a conscious effort to play differently on “Mane Attraction” and that there are less broken arpeggios and other styling’s that Vito is renowned for.

Vito answered that with the following words;

“I don’t play like myself on this record. My sound is much heavier. For example, the lead break on “The Warsong” marks one of the first times I really explored what I call those “Zakk Wylde Pentatonic’s” and “Ace Frehley Bends”. It was just a mood I was in. While on tour with Ozzy last year, we started feeling like we weren’t the hard rock band that we used to be. On this record I just wanted to rock out.”

Remember back in 2007, when Vito appeared on the Eddie Trunk show. One of the comments he made on that show, was that he realised during the “Big Game” tour, that White Lion need heavier songs that worked more in a live setting. So instead of having a mindset about writing songs, Vito now has a mindset that he needs to write better songs, heavier songs, rockier songs and songs that work in the live show.

Vito’s whole thought process is now putting unwanted pressure on the song writing process, which to me should be natural and not forced.

In the “Guitar World” interview from July 1991, Vito also said the same when Brad Tolinski mentioned, that he could understand why Vito is frustrated as the tonal subtleties of his best work, like the solos in “Wait” and “Little Fighter,” tend to get lost in an arena.

Vito responded with the following; “Yeah, I agree. But I think “The Warsong” will kick ass in any situation. The real subtle tasty stuff seems to get lost outside the studio, and that’s a real problem.”

This is an important distinction to make between bands that have gone through the stratosphere and bands that stagnated.

On the Justice tour, it was noted that Metallica fans were seen yawning during the longer complex songs from the Justice album. So what did Metallica do next? They released the monster known as the “Black” album. Shorter songs, less complex and songs that rocked hard.

All the Classic Rock bands used to perform their songs live before they recorded them. That is why all of those albums from the Seventies had songs that rocked hard in the studio and in the live arena. In the end a musician’s level of success depends on their ability to entertain. It is never about their level of technical proficiency. Bands like Kiss, Motley Crue, Metallica, Van Halen and Bon Jovi are mega successful in the business because they can entertain. Are they the most virtuosic bands out there. Of course not, however they have had a career at a level that the most virtuosic artist out there dreams to have.

THE PROBLEM WITH OVERTHINKING

Brad Tolinski mentioned that the “opening track, “Lights And Thunder,” is interesting. It’s epic in length and structurally complex, yet the solo is relatively simple and minimal.”

Vito responded with the following;
“The lead part is simple, but I think it fits. When I was listening to some of our old records, I noticed a few lead breaks that struck me as being inappropriate. It’s not that they were bad; in fact, most of them were melodic and performed well. But in retrospect, some of them struck me as being too busy or ornate. When I first played the lead to “Lights And Thunder,” I thought, “God, I can’t play that. It’s bullshit. It’s too easy.” But everybody in the studio loved it and told me to sleep on it and listen to it again when I was fresh. The next day I came in and thought, “It still doesn’t sound like anything I would play, but it sure fits the bill.”

He is not sure and he is doubtful. He is over analysing his past work. It is all counter-productive. The interview with Guitar World was in the issue from July 1991. By September 1991 it was all over. When you overthink things too much, you second guess everything you do and in the end, you lose your fire, the motivation that kept you hungry.

THE STATE OF HARD ROCK MUSIC

In the June, 1989 issue of “Kerrang”, Vito states the following on his views of the current state of hard rock;

“I know a lot of bands who’ll write a song and their guitar players will say I’ve got to do a lead break here, I’ve got to let rip there. It’s an ego thing. When I write, I say well, the song will sound better if I have an acoustic here or a clear sounding guitar, maybe no lead. I think it’s really annoying when a melodic song is ruined by a guitar player blasting away, it grates on my nerves.”

In an issue of “Guitar World”, dated July, 1991, Bratta more or less stated the same view point as he did a few years ago.

“You can see the guitarist thinking. “Forget the song, forget the band, I just want to get my name in Guitar World.” That’s not where it’s at anymore. Everybody can play these days.

While I was living in L.A. last year, I went into a local music store to pick up an issue of your magazine, and I heard this incredible guitar player. It turned out to be some little kid with his dad! I mean, he had twice the chops I had. He came up and asked for my autograph, and I said, “Sure, one minute.” Then I snuck out the back door before he had a chance to ask me to jam.

I’ve run into kids that can play “Wait” better than I can, but what’s the point? Being a technician is only part of the equation, and I’m trying to study the other half: song writing.

I hate it when people say things like, “I know you write songs that are heard by millions of people, but are you really happy?” I mean, yeah. Don’t be absurd. I want as many people as possible to hear the band. I’m convinced that the reason people like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton and the reason why they have endured is that they have composed memorable songs as well as solos.”

I have always said that Grunge didn’t kill the hard rock / glam rock movement. The rock movement killed itself. Hard Rock in the Eighties started off with the first wave of L.A bands. Then the second wave of L.A bands came along with the Classic seventies rockers who started to rebrand themselves to fit the scene. Then the third wave came and the fourth and the fifth further diluting the pool. Every two years, new cities got identified as the next big hub. So the Record Labels swarmed and so many inferior derivative bands got signed, that in the end, it all imploded. The real good acts couldn’t be heard from all the noise of the crap acts.

The current state of affairs in the music business bothered Vito. It played on his mind. He was a technician trying to find out how he fitted into the current climate. Should he write they way he also had or should he change and adapt so that he can meet expectations placed on him.

Unfortunately, Vito gave in to the expectations. He gave in to all the leaches that made multiple millions from his hard work.

VITO BRATTA RIG 1991

The “Mane Attraction” record was done with his trusty Steinberger guitar. In the “Guitar World” interview from July 1991, Vito said that he was planning on using something different when White Lion goes on tour as the Steinberger was starting to bother him because it was almost too easy to play.

“I’m not fighting for the notes anymore and I miss that tension. This may sound bizarre, but if you give me a Les Paul or a Strat I’m lost, and that bums me out. Lately I’ve been using an old ESP Strat that I’ve had laying around, just to get me back in shape.”

His amplification was basically the same system he has used for the last few years. The heart of Vito’s rack consists primarily of three units: an ADA MP-1 preamp, a BBE 422A Sonic Maximizer and a Digitech DSP 256 multi effects processor. The system is powered by a Carvin FET Series amplifier, and a Rocktron Hush keeps the lid on any excess noise.

“It’s a relatively simple rig, but it’s very effective. I put it together with Michael Wagener, who produced Pride and Big Game.”

THE GUITAR WORLD REVIEW

Mane attraction is Top 40 stuff, for sure. But not quite as gooey as the usual radio fare more like what the Baby’s used to do. Except White Lion has Vito Bratta. Though you have to wade knee-deep through patently clichéd arena rock-ioms for that Bratta burn, when he does cut loose it’s worth turning up the volume knob a decibel or three. But in bands where song writing is the chief concern, really exceptional guitarists always end up getting be shrouded like a lace covered end table. Your little sister is gonna buy it, so borrow it when she’s watching Dance Fever. And try to figure out how Vito manages to retain his credibility.

It’s funny reading the Guitar World interview first and then the review (They both appeared in the same issue). In the interview, Vito is talking about how he wants people to say that the song knocked them out, and then you have the reviewer saying that you need to “wade knee deep through patently clichéd arena rock-ioms for that Bratta burn.”

TRIBUTE TO SRV

In the same Guitar World interview from 1991, Vito commented on his tribute to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“”Blue Monday” was my way of paying tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. I’m not really a lyricist, but I figured I could try to express my gratitude to him through my guitar. To this day I can’t even figure out why Stevie meant so much to me. He was just a guitarist, but his playing destroyed me. He was probably my favourite. You don’t really hear him in my playing, but I could listen to him night and day. I wasn’t trying to show off my blues chops. It was just a simple memorial to someone I admired very much. I don’t care if people think it’s the worst thing they’ve ever heard. It was my tribute to a great man.”

FINAL WORDS FROM MIKE TRAMP

Mike Tramp had the following to say on Vito in an interview with the website Metal Sludge; http://www.metalsludge.tv/?p=36727

“I had made a public statement that I was not willing to talk about all this anymore, and I don’t know what he is doing, but as far as Vito the guitar player and Vito the songwriter and musician, he was in a calibre all by himself. It shows in his great solos, and so many people love the way he played like Eddie with the hammer-ons and all that stuff like the Van Halen solo on “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.” I just love the way Vito played solos on “Wait” and “Little Fighter” and some of the others. He was like Mozart.

We tried to do new White Lions with Warren DeMartini and Paul Gilbert and all these others, and no one wanted to do Vito. He was unlike anyone else, he had his own way of doing thing, and plus he was a great songwriter. Had he remained in the business, Vito would have been bigger than Steve Vai and all those types of guys. With him the melody came before anything else, and that’s nothing but the highest praise. I loved the sound of his guitar and I loved writing songs with him and stuff like that, but we had nothing else in common, unfortunately. There isn’t any bad blood between us. It’s just frustrating that I’ve had to carry on White Lion all by myself 100 percent. I just want to set in on record once again: We were White Lion once, but never again. But as for Vito, I am surprised he isn’t a million percent bigger in the music business. I don’t have an answer. No one ever will.”

Could you imagine White Lion with Warren DeMartini on guitar or Paul Gilbert? Great players, however as Mike said, they wouldn’t touch Vito. He was better then all of them and the above words from Mike prove that. The difference between them is the mindset. Vito confused thought process with what was expected of him, instead of what he expected of himself. That is the difference between followers and leaders.

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