It’s a two week DOH history this time around as lack of time stopped last weeks edition.
2018 (4 Years Ago)
1984 – Part 1
I was doing a review of the year 1984, Read here for my thoughts on Dokken – “Tooth And Nail”, Van Halen – “1984”, Twisted Sister – “Stay Hungry”, RATT – “Out of the Cellar”, Iron Maiden – “Powerslave”, Bruce Springsteen – “Born In The USA” and Stryper – “The Yellow and Black Attack”.
“Being original doesn’t require being the first to do something. It just means being different and better.”
Adam Grant, Originals
History is always written by the winners. If you read any story about Metallica today, it more or less states that “Kill Em All” came out in 1983 and took over the world on release day.
Ritchie Blackmore has been instrumental in influencing guitarists.
But between Deep Purple and Rainbow and three different vocalists, Ritchie Blackmore, blew the paradigm open of what a heavy rock vocalist should sound like. And it’s something he doesn’t credit for.
He pushed Ian Gillian to the limits to record the ohhs and ahhs on “Child In Time” influencing a young Bruce Dickinson to start practicing hard, and getting another unknown singer called Rob Halford to change his vocal style.
Both of these singers would come out with styles that would also influence a generation.
With David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio he pushed the boundaries even more who influenced another generation of Metal singers.
From a guitarist perspective, it’s hard not to be influenced by Blackmore. Blackmore’s fusion of blues, rock and roll, classical and medieval Influences was so commercially successful, he more or less spawned a new style of guitar playing called Euro Rock/Metal.
And from a band perspective, every single Metal guitarist at that point in time was inspired by Blackmore to find a vocalist who had similar/better talents to the vocalists Blackmore used.
lf the band was started by a drummer and a bassist, they would be looking for a guitarist like Blackmore and a vocalist like Gillian, Coverdale or Dio.
“Here’s a challenge for you (and no using the internet for the answer): Can you name all 7 (unsuccessful) albums I’ve done solo or been a part of with a band since I left Twisted Sister in 1987?
A Twitter post from Dee Snider.
For a very long time, the record labels convinced everyone that the only way to define success was by sales. But people might have purchased an album, heard it once and never heard it again.
Dee said further on;
“While I’m proud of all the work I’ve done, YES success is defined by sales. I’m long past “making music for my own head”. Once you’ve had public acceptance of your art, you yearn for it.”
The truth is, there is no secret formula for hits.
Artists always had a short life span at the top. Most of the 70’s acts would have been dead and forgotten if there was no MTV television in the 80s.
Which someone else replied that Dee’s album, “We Are The Ones” was excellent with the following questions;
“Do you consider it unsuccessful? Is success only defined by album sales or rather by the quality of the product?”
Another person commented that just because it isn’t popular it doesn’t mean it’s not valid and that music touches people in different ways.
And here we are again wondering what success is.
“Blood and Bullets” from Widowmaker is still Dees best album post Twisted Sister. For me, it’s highly influential.
Dee delivered a stellar vocal performance and Al Pitrelli also produced the goods in the guitar department, while Joey Franco and Marc Russell underpinned it all.
Of course, Desperado (the post TS band that got stiffed by Elektra on release day) guitarist Bernie Torme co-wrote 7 of the 12 songs on the album, so he deserves a huge 10 out of 10 for his stellar riffage and songwriting.
If you’ve read Dee’s book, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” Dee had to buy back the Desperado songs from Elektra who claimed ownership of them due to the label financing the demo song writing sessions.
The thing is, a lot of the albums which are really influential to people are rarely commercially successful.
2014 (8 Years Ago)
I remember the day that I got the “Tribute” tab book.
Studying the style of Randy Rhoads, I learned all about modes and the different scales that are made from each note of the mode, like Ionian, Phyrgian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. I even named my son Dorian after one of the modes. It’s so easy to dismiss musical theory, however when you have an actual song that you can refer to, it makes it so much sense.
Wolf Marshall did an unbelievable job with the book transcription and on the commentary on each song. Actually Wolf Marshall was the transcription god back then. Another was Dave Whitehill. Experienced, super-talented and knowledgeable guitar players that broke down so many doors with their transcriptions and made it easier for young guitar players to pick up the guitar and practice.
“Crazy Train” was the first song I mastered. At the time, Alex Sklonick also had a column in the magazine “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. In one of those columns, Skolnick also talked about modes and how “Crazy Train” is in the key of A Major and how it switches between the minor and major modes throughout the song. At the time it was a lot to take in however once you get it, you get it. Plus having a song like “Crazy Train” to refer too, who wouldn’t get it.
That one song has all the tools that every guitarist should possess.
And then when you start to go through all of the other songs, you see/hear all of the above tools re-used, which re-enforces all the techniques. Some songs had finger picking and arpeggios. Randy Rhoads was the definition of completeness.
By creating great music, he also taught us how to be better guitar players. Everything made sense. You can take a teacher and make them a rock star, however you can never stop the rock star from being a teacher and that is exactly what Randy Rhoads was. A teacher.
His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.
Remember “Popcorn Time”. It had no registrations to use it and there was no restrictions on content. It looked like Netflix and it was free. The user just presses play. It’s easy to use and its design was elegant.
And the entertainment industries killed it instead of employing the people behind it.
“Popcorn Time” was designed by programmers in Argentina, where the movie “There’s Something About Mary” was still classed as a new release by the movie studios in that country.
The development team created an innovative piece of software to meet a service problem for their country because the content industries failed to make content available.
We all know that piracy is wrong, however it opens up the conversation to the larger issue.
THE BAD – It made the RIAA spend millions suing music customers.
THE GOOD – But, Apple saw a market here and began to turn those Napster digital natives into iTunes buyers by making it easy to grab the latest music, anywhere, at any time. Same deal with Spotify, who put money into a market that didn’t exist before.
They are a hard rock band. When are they going to realise that and drop the stupid screamo vocals.
RECORD LABEL CONTRACTS and ROYALTIES
Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell had this to say about Roadrunner Records and its founder Cees Wessels;
“I still get royalties. It comes in, but it depends how much we work, how much we tour. If we tour a lot I see better royalties, if we don’t then I don’t.
I have no idea when we’ll get the rights back [to our catalog], because that Roadrunner contract is bullshit.
I literally signed a deal with a Dutch devil. But when you’re young, you don’t care. You’re 23 years-old and ‘we’re going to give you an advance to make your first record, we’re gonna put you on tour, sell your shirts in all the stores. You are gonna to be famous!’’Alright, make it happen!’
Every single label failed their artists by not innovating. The analog dollars vs digital cents mess they got themselves in, is purely of their own doing.
The Macklemore Lessons
Be in it for the long haul. The career of Macklemore has been a long one (21 years and counting). There’s no such thing as an overnight success.
Michael Poulsen from Volbeat started his first death metal band Dominus in 1991. During that time, Dominus released an album called Vol.Beat. When the band broke up in 2001, Volbeat was born. It wasn’t until 2005 that the first Volbeat album dropped. It wasn’t until Metallica picked em up as openers in 2009, that their US career kicked into overdrive. 30 years in the business. That is a lifer.
Work ethics of the current music business.
Check out the list of releases from George Lynch between 2008 and 2014.
2008 – George Lynch – Scorpion Tales
2008 – Souls Of We – Let The Truth Be Known
2009 – Lynch Mob – Smoke And Mirrors
2010 – Raven Quinn – self-titled debut
2010 – George Lynch – Orchestral Mayhem
2011 – George Lynch – Kill All Control
2012 – T & N – Slave To The Empire
2012 – George Lynch – Legacy (EP)
2012 – Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Sessions (EP)
2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged – Live From Sugar Hill Studios
2014 – KXM – KXM
Apart from the high volume output, Lynch is also immersing himself with different band set ups. Different dynamics. Sort of like the seventies musicians who just got together over a weekend and made an album.
The modern internet rule is here today, gone tomorrow. In order to survive, you need to show up and create. The music business is not in trouble. Only dumb labels and artists are.
But all things evolve, and if you are not open to change, you will be forgetten.
Remember John Sykes.
RANTS ON COPYRIGHT, RRHOF and THE WALKING DEAD
BUSINESS MODEL PROTECTIONISM
It’s pretty pathetic how the entertainment industries need to get governments to pass laws every time there is a shift in technology. Back in the Eighties, the boss of the MPAA Jack Valenti proclaimed at a Senate Congressional Hearing that the VCR’s are to the American film producer like the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.
Fast forward a decade later and VHS sales of movies proved to be a very large income source for the movie industry.
So when it comes to negotiating new laws for copyright, it is these large and cashed up business entities that are lobbying politicians.
Copyright is too distorted and removed from what it was intended to do. It needs a rethink and a massive re-write. The kids of today, the ones that pirate, will one day step up into government and then, change will happen.
THE WALKING DEAD
It’s passed its prime.
The last half of Season 4 was by far the worst. It is a yawn fest of massive proportions.
The main show runners in Frank Darabont and Glen Mazzara got booted for various reasons, with TWD comic creator Robert Kirkman being behind the Mazzara booting.
One thing I can say is that comic book writers should stick to comic books. They are not TV show runners.
ROCK’N’ROLL HALL OF FAME
They call themselves “leaders in the music industry” that joined together to establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.
Joe Elliott from Def Leppard called it as it is. Elliot called them a “board room of faceless tuxedo-wearing morons” who decide such things based on their own determination of what’s cool.
One of the big comparisons that people make is the status of sales right now vs sales more than 30 years ago. And everyone today, especially artists or media personalities, always say that the Eighties was so much better. It is a bold claim to make, especially when the Eighties is known as the era that ripped off artists.
Let’s look at Metallica and Megadeth compared to Avenged Sevenfold.
Metallica released “Kill Em All” in 1983. It wasn’t until 1989 (yep six years later) that the album was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. After six months, Metallica was back in the studio recording the follow up.
But, on the back of the Black album juggernaut, by 1999, “Kill Em All” was certified 3 x Platinum, Still it happened, 16 years after it’s release.
Megadeth released “Killing Is My Business (And Business Is Good) in 1985 and to this day it hasn’t been certified at all.
Avenged Sevenfold released “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” in 2001 and like Megadeth’s debut, it still hasn’t passed the 500,000 Gold barrier.
Compare the first album release of each band and all of them failed to achieve GOLD status within the first five years of release.
But…. Bands had way more sales in the Eighties than today…. The answer is NO, they didn’t.
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS
Jared Leto was born to be in the arts.
I watched “Thirty Seconds To Mars” live at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 29 March 2014. Leto had the crowd in his hands from the word go and he manipulated the audience to jump, chant and sing with him throughout the whole performance.
They are a success story.
Sales on the board. Streams. YouTube plays. Box office score. Merchandise.
THE UGLY TRUTH
Record Labels want to sell a lot right now, while an artist is looking to have a career and live forever in the hearts and minds of music lovers.
Hit songs/albums are not made by marketing or an artist telling the world it is their best work. They are made by cultures of people who connect with the song and then share their love of that music with others.
Cheap mediocre goods might sell millions in retail businesses however mediocre doesn’t cut it in music. Hence the death of the album format.
Record Labels are all about the wealth, the Forbes Rich List and flying private. Artists are about the essence and then when they see the talentless executives living it up on the backs of their creations, artists change and become obsessed with the same trappings that consume the Record Label hierarchy.
Record Labels think of how they can monetise the album/song. That is why they strike corporate deals with other entities for crappy pre-release streams and so forth. Artists just want their fans to hear the new music and hit the road to promote it.
Record Labels cease to be when they run out of money, however an artist never stops creating.
Record Labels judge success by how much money the artist made for them. The artist judges their success by how many people their music touched and what impact it had on society and culture.
If a record label exec screws up they could lose their job, however there is a good chance that they will find another high-powered well-paying job. If an artist messes up, there is a good chance they could lose their career.
Way underrated and way under-appreciated, it’s almost criminal.
In the beginning GUN got lumped in with the hard rock/glam rock style of bands, however GUN had way more substance. Way more character.
Coming from Scotland, they didn’t conform to the LA Sunset Strip scene. The songs didn’t focus on “Cherry Pies” or “Slipped Her The Big One”. They didn’t focus on spelling Rock, ROK. They didn’t have to compete with any band in the scene for the fastest licks and biggest hair.
Instead they focused on their own brand of rock’n’roll. And their lyrical themes didn’t deal with the usual rubbish that the hard rock bands started to serve towards the end of the decade.
Check out my review on “Taking On The World”.
GENE THE WEREWOLF
Check out my review of the “Rock N Roll Animal” album.
I knew nothing about them. Back in the Eighties, we got the press releases, the interviews, the promo spots and the musicians appeared larger than life. Today, we get the music first and then we go back to investigate who the hell created it.
If you are into hard rock, then this is the album for you.
The whole album is an example of progress being derivative.
Taking your influences, blending them and the output is your style and your sound. That is what music is all about. The whole album reminds me of “The Night Flight Orchestra” project. It is a fun album to listen to.
Of course they are on Frontiers Records, who seem to be on a roll surrounding themselves with talent. At first hearing, I thought the band came from Sweden as most of the hard rock bands I have been getting into are from there. However, that is not the case. They are from Pittsburgh, USA.
It is the usual lifer story.
All of the members had done time in previous semi-successful bands from the Pittsburgh area. Some of those bands toured nationally and internationally. There is a lot of history there. A super group from Pittsburgh area bands. In a way like “Night Ranger”. A super group of Californian bands.