A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Little Streams Of Heaven

Streaming is good for labels and artists. Indie labels are on the rise and artists have options everywhere on which digital aggregator to use when releasing music.

Taylor Swift and Neil Young’s music is back on Spotify and the normal PR outlets are silent but when they took their music off, well the narrative was very strong about poor artists vs big bad faceless tech giving the masses inferior sound quality and not paying enough.

But Pandora is declining in users, looking for a new owner and Spotify is not making money yet because its business model of a streaming service only does not allow it.

Spotify needs to diversify into a record label (like how Netflix diversified into its own content) because it can’t survive as it currently operates.

Apple has its own ecosystem and it bundles music with Apps and hardware sales.

YouTube is still there but viewership of music videos pales compared to streaming listens. Plus Google (apart from search) does everything half-hearted.

In the end streaming is king. The irrelevant sales charts had to amend their formula to include streaming and suddenly an artist is controlling all positions.

The old certification awards now include streaming in their formula and guess what, artists are getting platinum awards on streams alone. That’s right, no sales. Just listens. What a brilliant concept.

But those record label execs and publishing rights organisations want to strangle the streaming golden goose. They have a percentage stake in it, they get upfront license fees and they get royalty payments. Their profits are boosted by streaming and they still want more.

Meanwhile artists and songwriters keep on blaming the tech for the payments made instead of blaming the corporation who controls their copyrights.

Forgetting that Spotify is the new MTV. It’s influential. Think about it. Get onto a Spotify created playlist and watch your streams go into the million to 100 million territory.

Spotify controls data. It knows instantly when songs are skipped and when songs are listened to. The songs that people listen too are added to various playlists it controls. Suddenly those songs become hits.

Jasta’s “Chasing Demons” is the first track on Spotify’s “New Metal Tracks” playlist. It has 227,182 streams. The closest track from the same artist “This Is Your Life” has 22,433 streams.

“Lights Out” from Royal Blood is on 5 plus Spotify playlists and it has 6,435,533 streams whereas “Hook, Line & Sinker” has close to 2 million streams and it’s on 2 Spotify playlists.

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

Release Radar Recap

Gemini by The Night Flight Orchestra

What a classic rock song from my favourite supergroup of metal heads. It’s so catchy. If you haven’t seen the animated film clip, head over to YouTube and check it out. 

The album “Amber Galactic” is out so expect a review to come.

House On Fire by Rise Against

A good listen but not as good as the first single release “The Violence” and the politically charged lyrics, “The bombs are getting closer everyday, That can never happen here we used to say, have these wars come to our doorstep?”..

Blister by Hell Or Highwater

 Another solid track from Atreyu’s drummer Brandon Saller’s other project who takes vocal and guitar duties. Really impressed with this band. 

Chasing Dragons by Adrenaline Mob

Great band. Enough said.

American Dreams by Papa Roach

This is similar to what Papa Roach became famous for. Nu Metal with a dose of Pop.

Halfway Right by Linkin Park

Next…

While You Wait by Dead Letter Circus

Nice acoustic guitars and a Tool/Perfect Circle style vocal delivery makes for a pretty good song.

Choose Your Fate by Warrant

Actually the song is the best one so far from the release but they need to call the project something else guys. It didn’t work for Sabbath without Ozzy, Lizzy with Phil and it will not work for Warrant with Jani.

Indestructible by Harem Scarem

Not as solid as the other tracks released on my radar so far from Harem Scarem but still a good listen.

Something Else by Seether

This band has some great tracks, some good tracks and some tracks that don’t resonate with me. This one falls into the good listening tracks.

Oh Lord by In This Moment

I guess I am a fan of the melodic version of the band and the albums, “The Dream” and “A Star Crossed Wasteland”.

Ever After by Andy James

He’s been around for a while but to me he is one of the new breed of guitar heroes doing the rounds. You can put words to his guitar melodies and have some super catchy syncopated metal songs happening.

God Of Temptation by The Unity

Don’t’ know much about the band, but it’s a pretty good listen.

Stargazer by Seven Kingdoms

Power Metal. Just not in the mood for it. Next

Love Is The Remedy by Jorn

It’s got a tasty riff. For those that don’t know, Jorn is the Norwegian singer that can sound like Dio, Dickinson, Tate or Coverdale on a whim. And all of those vocal influences make him unique. There are some good songs, but this one is a miss.

Still Standing Up by The Ferrymen

The fantasy cover of a masked man ferrying skeletons is hit and miss, but musically, this band is good. Again I know nothing of them, except I have heard three songs over the last three weeks on my Release Radar playlist and saved each song.

Ashes by dEMOTIONAL

Again I know nothing about this band, however each song I have heard on the Release Radar is a good listen, so I will be following up on them.

Days Of Self Destruction by CKY

They have a cool cover in red and shades of black making out dragons. The song is a miss.

Will You Want Me by 7 Days Away

The cover is black with some shades of grey making out the band logo and name. Does it remind you of some other “black” album covers?

I got into this band via illegal downloads. And when I came across them in Spotify, I clicked follow. I’m glad I did.

Skin – Kove Remix by Rag’n’Bone Man

Elton John reckons Rag’n’Bone man has the best new music out there. If you haven’t heard “Human” then you should. It’s a hit and it’s getting there slowly, as all good music does its converting people like me into it. This song is “Skin” and the Kove remix is garbage. Hear the original. Accept no substitute.

New Slaves by Vitamin String Quartet

My kids love the Vitamin String Quartet, especially their take on rock and metal bands. The Iron Maiden tribute brings back memories. For this song, it’s a NO from me.

Clouded Minds by JD Miller

Next.

Endless Roads by Liv Sin

Sister Sin was good. Liv Sin is also good. The music is excellent and rooted in that Euro Melodic Metal sound. Also check out “Endless Roads” and “The Beast Inside”.

Runaway by Bai Bang

Next. Just a bit too clichéd and poppy for me.

I’m Alive by Art Nation

It’s a good listen with a big chorus.

Wolves Reign by Wolfpakk

Musically the song is good. It just needed that Bruce Dickinson style vocal delivery.

Meet My Maker by Life Of Agony

It’s groovy and a good listen.

Blood Sick by Wednesday 13

Skip.

Genesis by Aethere

Next.

Prologue (Deep Sleep) by Lonely Robot

 The end.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

The Big Money In Streaming Licensing Deals

Everyone is blaming Spotify for bringing in windowed exclusives. But in reality it’s not their fault.

Spotify is a service, that provides music to users. It was created by techies because the record labels didn’t have the clout to do what was required for their artists and the vast copyrights they hold. But for Spotify to work, it needed access to the vast libraries of copyrights the record labels hold. And this is how Spotify as a service will cease to work unless they move in and start creating their own content and developing their own artists. Like how Netflix has, like how HBO went from licensing movies from the movie studios to creating their own content.

And Spotify now has owners that are interested only in making money. Hell, the record labels even have a stake in Spotify, so Daniel Ek is at the mercy of these owners, who are all waiting for Spotify to go public so they could rake in billions for their millions investments.

But the record labels control the story and Spotify is portrayed as the baddie, while the faceless record labels hide behind the artists who decry Spotify and other streaming services. The record labels have done such a great job with their fake news story about streaming rates killing music, but they forget that the numbers don’t lie. Maybe they can explain why did their revenue go up to double digits and it’s back to those billions of the CD era?

But it’s the record labels who are not paying back to artists and songwriters the cash they are flush with.

For those that don’t know, Spotify and Universal Music Group (UMG) have come up with a new licensing agreement which forced Spotify to restrict new albums from Universal artists to the premium service for a two weeks as a minimum. So what about the artists who withhold their music from streaming services for a month. That could mean a six-week gap for the free tier ad-supported users of Spotify. Take a guess as to what that means. Piracy will be back with a vengeance. But then, the record labels via the RIAA will just scream and lobby hard for laws to change and stricter enforcement to happen. You can do more time in prison for a copyright offence then an actual crime.

Daniel Ek should have told Universal to go and shove it. The only streaming options for Universal would be Tidal, Pandora and Apple Music. Let’s see how far they would have gone with that.

Then Daniel Ek, should have gone after the big artists and made deals with them exclusively, cutting out the record label in the process. Yeah, I know contracts play a part, but the labels are nothing without the ARTISTS. It’s the artists that make the record labels money and not the other way around. And if the artists all challenge the status quo, then different outcomes would happen. But all of these are difficult conversations to be had and no one wants to lose out on any money.

Every artist should be suing their label for negligence and unpaid wages. How can a label not be seen as negligent by restricting access to music?

Research continues to show that people don’t like to be told how to do things. But the labels believe they know what people want.

The labels are delusional if they think the public would just take out a premium streaming offering, because of windowed releases. It will not happen, the same way, analog phones are not going to happen. Once we move on, we move on. There is no going back. Anyone remember MySpace or Yahoo or even Netscape.

There’s no doubt that ad-supported free tier will end. The labels would make sure of that in the next round of licensing deals in a few years time.

But for an artist, fans these days, don’t want to pay high rates for recorded music. They want the history of music for a low price. They would rather pay for the experience of the show. And in all of these boardroom deals between techies and record labels, it’s the artists who don’t control the rights to their music that get burned. And for some reason, Rush’s “The Big Money” comes to mind.

Big money make a million dreams
Big money spin big deals

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Playlists And Streaming

Spotify is growing. The pop artists or the cross-over artists from other genres into the pop world are getting into the 100 plus millions/billions listens. And the high counts are due to two things;

  • Spotify Playlists.
  • Listeners Playlists

If a song is added to the most followed playlists, then the listens go up.

There is a “Rock In The 2000’s” playlist created by Spotify and if you check the songs on it and then check the streams the songs have on the artist account, you will see those songs on the playlist dwarf the rest of the catalogue. For example, “Chop Suey” from System Of A Down is on the Spotify playlist and the listens of Chop Suey is exponentially higher than the remainder of SOAD’s catalogue.

“Drake doesn’t lock himself into an album cycle. When Drake wants to put out music and he feels like it’s ready, Drake puts out music. So it’s not the typical, “I’m gonna put out two singles, then launch my album, then go on tour, then wait two years and go back in the studio and release this music.” I think he really has captured that rhythm of how fans want to consume music.”
Spotify’s Troy Carter on Drake’s Streaming Success

Drake is as metal and rock as the soap in the bathroom is metal, however the lesson should be applied to all. New music is an invitation into the world of the artist. It’s not the only thing. Capture the moment and release when the song is ready, not many months later when the album is ready.

Platinum selling artist Mark Tremonti has released three albums in 2 years, and while Tremonti and Alter Bridge are on tour, he is spending his free time giving guitar lessons/doing guitar clinics as an additional income stream.

It is easier to find and less costly to release new music, leading to unpredictable successes from artists who might not have been discovered or produced an album in an earlier era.
Michael Luca and Craig McFadden – Harvard Business Review

And that’s the cold hard truth about music in 2016. Artists who normally wouldn’t be signed can suddenly record and release music into the world. The supply of new music over the last 10 years is way higher than the demand for new music. Hell, I listened to 950 plus unique artists on Spotify this year. I grew up in the 80’s with no more than 50 or so unique artists. Spotify has over 20 million songs that haven’t been listened to yet.

Sure, some of the Spotify playlists might be a PR exercise for the labels, in the end, it still comes down to the user, who still likes to have some a filter to push new music on them. But then the record labels would like to mislead people about how much it costs them to break an artist to the mainstream.

The truth is the labels don’t break artists. They can spend monies on the artist, the promotions and put them out into the market place, however it is the people who decide if the artist will break on through. And what we are seeing more are artists making it on the back of streaming and no radio support.

But times have changed: in a landscape dominated by services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon, it is possible to have a hit without the press and radio (or much of the public) even noticing you. Kiiara, hardly a household name, is currently enjoying a global hit with Gold, off the back of 312m streams on Spotify alone. (Other services don’t make their numbers public.) You could look at British artist James TW, whose song When You Love Someone has 35m streams. Then there’s Australian teen Joel Adams, whose one and only song Please Don’t Go has chalked up 320m streams on Spotify.
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Yeah, I got no idea who the above artists are and none of them are really rock or metal, but the possibilities are there for unknown metal and rock bands to become streaming behemoths without the support of record labels and radio stations. However, having a high streaming listen count doesn’t automatically correlate to concert ticket sales or sales of recorded music, much in the same way Facebook likes/followers never equal sales. The artist will need to work even harder to convert those listeners into real fans, because a lot of streaming users are casual fans who like to check songs out.

 

In the back-end of Spotify, for instance, fans are split into three categories: streakers (who have listened to the artist every day in the last week), loyalists (who have listened to them more than to any other over the past 20 days), and regulars (who listened to the artist on the majority of the days in the month
Peter Robinson – Guardian Writer

Spotify is building the data banks instead of the labels. Apple already has the databank. The labels have done nothing in this regard. So as an artist, who do you want to partner with?

And finally, there are the playlists. The more playlists the songs are added to, the more exposure the songs will get and this is where the old gatekeeper model comes into play. How does a rock or metal band get their songs onto a Spotify created playlist that has over a million followers?

STREAMING – changing the music business again
STREAMING – artists who made it huge without radio support
STREAMING – Swedish artists benefiting from streaming 
RECORD LABELS – breaking an artist 
SONGWRITER WHO SOLD HIS SONGS FOR A FEE AND IS UNKNOWN

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

Spotify 2016

In 2016, Spotify tells me I listened to 25,538 minutes of music. On average, this equates to 70 minutes of music per day. The listening minutes are made up of 958 unique artists and 3,277 unique tracks got a spin.

Remember back in the 80’s and even the 90’s, when only a handful rock and metal artists would get our attention.

  • It could be because we laid out money for their record, so we had to spin it.
  • It could be we saw the music video on TV and recorded it to VHS tape and watched it over and over again.
  • It could be due to the record labels promotional campaigns we got caught up in their scorched earth PR policy.
  • It could be due to radio playing the songs non-stop.

In the process, we made the small number of artists into global superstars and lined the pockets of the record labels in the process.

Well in 2016, I am just one fan who listened to 958 unique artists on Spotify and I am sure I am not the only one. In my case, those 958 artists came from the rock and metal genres, which means the current bands, with their current releases are competing with the history of music, plus their past hits for our attention.

And my time listening to music is fragmented between iTunes, CD’s, Vinyl, CD and Spotify. I listened to a lot of music in the 8 weeks I spent in Europe but it all came from iTunes.

My five top artists for the year are;

  • Kingdom Come – does anyone even remember them? While the commercially successfully version of the band lasted between 1987 and 1991, vocalist and main songwriter, Lenny Wolf kept the band name going with German/European musicians until he retired the band in August 2016. And since the majority of their releases are on Spotify, it was happy days listening for me.
  • Sixx:A.M. – as a Motley fan from the 80’s it was only natural I gravitate to this and it’s the best of the side projects apart from Vince Neil’s first solo album back in the 90’s. And they are a band who had new product out in 2016 and it was good enough to compete with the history of music.
  • Saxon – there was a period between April and June this year that Saxon got a lot of listens as I got myself re-acquainted with their 80’s output and then I started to delve into their 90’s plus output.
  • Whitesnake – no new product in 2016 but still a big favourite of mine.
  • Tremonti – a lot of new product over the last few years so it’s no surprise the band ended up on this list.

My top 5 genres are;

Rock, Hard Rock, Album Rock, Metal and Glam Metal.

I always hated the genre labels and their stupid pigeon holed definitions.

Seriously, what the hell is Album Rock?

To me, it’s either Metal or it’s Rock.

Friday was my favourite day to listen, followed by Saturday and Sunday. Then came Wednesday and Thursday, with Monday and Tuesday been my least favourite days to listen to music.

And finally, here is a selection of my top tracks for the year from Spotify are;

Prayers For The Damned – SIXX:A.M
The album came out in April this year and this song was the lead single that hit streaming sites in February. It’s more or less a perfect modern hard rock song like “Life Is Beautiful” and a constant on my playlists.

Run To The Hills – Vitamin String Quartet
My kids prefer this version over the original and they found it by accident by searching for “Run To The Hills” on Spotify. To be honest, the eastern European vibe is intoxicating and since I was never really a fan of the original song to start off, the Vitamin String Quartet version has become a staple.

Twilight Cruiser – Kingdom Come
It’s 21 years old and the title track to the 1995 album. The feel and the groove and that guitar lead that sounds like a wolf howling are just perfect.

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
Another track courtesy of my boys, especially my 4-year-old. I hear it and i remember Huey Lewis.

Back In Black – Vitamin String Quartet
Another track courtesy of my boys and my four-year old loved hearing the vocal melody played by a violin, which he then sang along with.

Hall Of Fame – The Script
It was the reason why I got a family premium account. The song must have screwed up the Spotify algorithm because since this was listened to by my kids, my Discover playlist has been a mess.

Dust – Tremonti
The brilliant title track of the new album.

In The Fading Light – Andy James
He came up in a Discover Playlist. It’s an instrumental from an EP released in 2013 and it’s been on my Drive Home from work playlist since i heard. The guitar lead melody is perfect and I find myself chanting it as I drive home.

Sail On – The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project from guys in Soilwork and Arch Enemy.

Funky Town – Pseudo Echo
My kids again, however I was a fan of this version in the 80’s, so it was cool to be re-acquainted with it.

Iron Man – Black Sabbath
My kids again, because of the Iron Man/Marvel movies.

Slip Of The Tongue – Whitesnake
It’s one of my favourite cuts and it’s Led Zeppelin on steroids.

War – Live – Bruce Springsteen
My kids again and it was good that they pulled up Bruce Springsteen performing live as I wouldn’t have listened to this song or the other live songs this year if it wasn’t for the kids.

Living Out Of Touch – Kingdom Come
Quick call the stupid plagiarism lawyers. Yes, I know it sounds like Led Zeppelin. Gary Moore even wrote a song called “Led Clones” about Kingdom Come. But there is no denying that Lenny Wolf was a master of re-creating classics, in the same way the Gallagher brothers recreated Beatles classics.

Good Enough – Van Halen
The boys were watching “Spaceballs” and this song came up. I totally forgot about it as it’s been 30 years since it came out and “Dreams” proved to be the cross over hit. But the Van Halen I like is the distorted groovy rock version of the band and this song is one of the best opening tracks for an album.

So I searched it up on Spotify and added it to my Drive Playlist.

“Hello Baby”. And all hell breaks loose. Enough said

Distance – Evergrey
The opening track from their new album “The Storm Within”. As the lead single, it got a lot of listens.

My Way – Kiss
It’s from 1987’s keyboard heavy “Crazy Nights” album. It’s a cool track, I dig the clichéd lyrics and it’s cool to hear Paul Stanley squeeze his balls even tighter for some of those highs. And now my kids dig it and it’s getting constant listens.

Stargazer – Kingdome Come
My kids had one of those toy keyboards and they figured out the intro, so it became a constant song we listened to on Spotify.

Rise – Sixx AM
The lead single to Part II – Prayers For The Blessed.

Trains – Porcupine Tree
Steven Wilson just did what he wanted and wrote songs the way he wanted. He wasn’t a songwriter that was locked in to a particular genre and that is why Porcupine Tree is a favourite of mine. Love the groove, the feel of the acoustic guitars and that epic ending.

Black Rose – Volbeat
I was hooked on that 60’s bubble-gum pop vibe in the Chorus.

My Last Mistake – Tremonti
The heaviness of the music.

We Are The Ones – Dee Snider
The title track and the opening track to Dee’s solo album.

Live In Love – Times Of Grace
Does melodic pop rock heavy death metal make even sense. If it does, then this track is for you.

The Threat Is Real – Megadeth
You get the Arab voices at the start and the chainsaw pedal point riff. The threat is indeed real.

Do You Like It – Kingdom Come
A simple ode to rock music and the live show and yes, I really like it.

The Devil’s Bleeding Crown – Volbeat
This song is a favourite of mine, because it’s a boogie-fied version of “Children Of The Grave”.

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Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Withholding From Spotify

It’s a dumb decision when bands/artists withhold their new album/music from Spotify. Case in point is Bon Jovi and their new album, “This House Is Not For Sale”.

Four days have passed since the album was released and it’s still not on Spotify, however it is all over the pirate sites, on YouTube and I am sure CD manufacturing plants in China are doing up forgeries, ready to sell the damn thing on Amazon or some other site.

Are first week sales so important that it’s become the reason why artists do albums in the first place?

It sure is the main reason why labels exist. Spotify pays the artist per listen while the pirate sites pay nothing. So where does the artist need to be?

Does it ever occur to artists and their label that fans have chosen a paid streaming subscription over purchasing a CD or an LP or an mp3?

The profit and loss statements of the labels show streaming as a big source of revenue, yet, streamers are still victimised as artists and their labels play lip service to the sales charts. The action is in streaming, where we can see if anybody is listening. And if your album is not on there, how can people listen.

Click on the Global top 50 and there is no Bon Jovi there. But they have four songs from the new album out on Spotify as part of their pre-release promotions.

How is it going so wrong?

“What About Now” was a flop and “Burning Bridges” was exactly that. But Jovi’s career was made on the back of a hit, not on an album. It’s all about listens and our on demand culture has a new hero called “Data”. Data tells the people if something will be successful. The data doesn’t lie and it can’t be manipulated. Labels can influence radio with their marketing budgets and the PR companies can write the stories for the media to report, but all of those games mean nothing when it comes to what people are listening to or not.

“This House Is Not For Sale” song is not bad. There is quality there, but not enough. “Born Again Tomorrow” and “Knockout” are also not bad while “Labour Of Love” is poor.

However, Bon Jovi can still sell tickets.

Will there be instant sell outs like in the past?

It’s a question of how many hard-core fans want to pay the big dollars to see the band up close and how many fans on the periphery get caught up in the excitement of the rock and roll show coming to town or in the ticket discounts period.

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

Discover Playlist

We still live in an environment where artists insist on making albums and then spending time promoting a body of songs, believing if they yell loud enough people will care. But we don’t. Volbeat singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen hit the nail on the head, when he said “kids these days have a new favourite artist each week”.

Sometimes it takes months or years for excellence to rise to the top. So it’s always interesting to see what songs the Discover Playlist comes up with, because I have been pretty slack at following or liking or saving some of my favourite artists in Spotify.

I am always surprised when songs from artists I normally support come up, or from artists I haven’t heard in a while. Sometimes, it’s from an artist I have heard off, but haven’t heard any music from. Other times it’s from artists where I have heard an album or a song, but never really got into it. Other times it’s from artists where I own an album or two and the songs are from an album I don’t own or haven’t heard.

Alter Bridge – Slip Into The Void
I have the CD’s of Alter Bridge and their music on my iTunes, however the Spotify service had no idea I liked Alter Bridge. But, from my listening habits on the service, its algorithms worked out that Alter Bridge could be a band I would be interested in. That’s one point for the algorithms.

It’s from 2010’s “ABIII”.

How good does the song start off?

It’s a hypnotic riff, and when Myles comes in with the vocals, it feels dangerous.

Slip to the void
To the dark
To the fall
Crawl to the life you shouldn’t know
You should never come this way
To test the hands of fate
You don’t belong here

In our life we have highs and lows and as much as we believe or want to be happy all the time, none of us can be all the time. “Slip Into The Void” is a dark song

Then from 1.30 the intro is over and the song cranks to eleven.

John Norum – Love Is Meant To Last Forever
An important ingredient to Europe’s breakout success in 1986 is John Norum. He played on the album, was on the original cover and is included in “The Final Countdown” video clip but never toured behind the album support.

Who knows why Norum left Europe at that time.

Having a step father who was high up at CBS/Sony at Sweden might have influenced him, while on the other hand, the death of a close friend in a drowning accident while Europe filmed a concert for live broadcast might have affected him.

My John Norum exposure post Europe goes something like this. He played with Don Dokken on the excellent “Up From The Ashes” album, and then he went solo again with “Face The Truth”. That album I do have because of Glenn Hughes doing guest vocals on it. It’s an excellent piece of melodic rock. However, “Love Is Meant To Last Forever” is from “Total Control”, Norum’s first solo album released in 1987 and post his departure from Europe. I remember seeing the album advertised in the Guitar magazines I purchased during the time, but I never picked it up.

From the intro, I am hooked.

I always enjoy melodic rock/metal music. A lot of the times the lyrics in those songs would make me grind my teeth, but musically, the genre is spot on. Future Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Goran Edman provides vocals for the song.

You are my best friend
And I will try to understand
The moment you need me
I’ll be there so just take my hand

We are all just visitors to this world, so our time is short and one thing we are all looking for is a love that will last forever.

Dynazty – Titanic Mass
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all.

Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. The band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

The whole song is a perfect example of the style of music I enjoy and that Chorus reminds me of “The Fire Still Burns” from Twisted Sister.

As an added bonus, how good is the harmony interlude section that kicks in at 2.30.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Rev Theory – We Own The Night
I got into this band with their 2008 release “Light It Up” and the songs “Hell Yeah”, “Broken Bones”, “Wanted Man”, “Ten Years”, “You’re The One” and “Far From Over”. After that I heard the “Justice” album and it just didn’t connect with me, so I sort of lost them afterwards. But this track is up there with my favourites.

The band’s journey has been going since 2002.

They released “Truth Is Currency” in 2005, on Element Records, an EMI subsidiary. In 2007, they got a major label deal with Interscope Records and released “Light It Up” in 2008. “Justice” had the big name producer in Terry Date and it was released in 2011 on Interscope Records. In 2012, they release an EP called “Take ‘Em Out” on Killer Tracks, a subsidiary of Universal.

In August, 2014, Rev Theory signed with Another Century Records a subsidiary of Century Media/Sony Music and here we are in 2016, with “The Revelation”.

“We Own The Night” has a groove that I dig. It starts off with a distorted arpeggiated guitar riff. Then a simplistic “We Will Rock You” drum groove comes in, along with the emotive and catchy vocal line. When the Chorus kicks in, I’m hooked.

Head down
Walk the line with no opinion

Ideas and opinions can shape the world but our degree factories condition us to believe we don’t have an opinion and as soon as we get into debt, we fail to voice any opinion, just in case it gets us dismissed from work, because without work, we cannot pay our debt.

Turn up the audio, lose yourself and all control tonight
I’ll keep on clawing my way until there is a change

An old message of turning it up appears in 2016. Quick call the plagiarism lawyers.

Place Vendome – Streets of Fire
The song begins with a beautiful sounding piano lick merging the chorus chords with the vocal line. After 25 seconds, the song moves into melodic rock territory.

Frontiers Records is doing its best to keep melodic rock and metal going. Place Vendome is one of the many “supergroup” projects put together by Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugino and one of his earliest that dates back to 2004.

Michael Kiske from Helloween fame is on vocals while Denis Ward from Pink Cream 69 is bassist, producer, mixer and engineer. The songs are all written by outside writers. In the end, it is a full on AOR project, where the music decisions are made by the A&R departments of Frontiers and not the artists themselves.

Our time has come, we must take justice in our hands
I feel heavy and hard, but that’s just the way it is
There out to steal our dreams, our pride, our dignity
Will we find in the art we play, will we roll the dice?

It’s the rebellion theme of the 80’s.

Streets of fire
The rise and the fall
In the streets of fire
War raging on

Once the fight begins it never really ends. The loser will bide their time, until they strike again.

Also check out the tasty finger tapped lick in the solo.

Days of Jupiter – Bleed
The do Disturbed better than Disturbed and I mean that in a good way. The song is from their “Secrets Brought To Life” album released in 2012. Of course they are from Sweden. Where else would good heavy rock bands come from these days?

Life will make you
Bleed
It’s down to who you wanna be
It’s down to you
You wanna
Take another bite from insanity
Take another bite from reality
Bleed
Step up to who you wanna be
Step up to who you wanna
Take another bite from insanity
Take another bite from reality

Life will make you bleed. There is no doubt about it. Decisions made in the past will make you bleed. But it is down to the person as to how they respond to the insanity that reality throws at them.

Black Trip – Die With Me
It’s heavy rock and it has this Seventies attitude that I dig.

No loss, no life, let go and die with me

The Chorus. Once it comes in, it just hooks me in.

The will is struggling in a state of despair
These broken pieces I cannot repair
There’s nothing here that I can argue about
It’s just a shame I couldn’t figure it out

I know nothing about this band. Spotify tells me the song is from an album called “Shadowline” released in August, 2015. So I went to their website and saw the band is no more due to a band member departure, however the band will continue under a new name. It comes as no surprise that they are from Sweden.

A few press releases found their way to Blabbermouth explain the band a bit more.

So the genesis of the band goes back to 2003. Like Audrey Horne, Volbeat and The Night Flight Orchestra, the artists wanted to create a band based on their musical upbringing. But things don’t go as smooth and the project got put on the back burner until 2011. There is another album called “Goin Under” that came out in 2013 that I will check out as well.

Marillion – Hooks In You
Love the intro riff on this. Guitar player, Steve Rothery is excellent and he deserves more attention for his deeds.

It’s from the “Seasons End” album released in 1989 and the first to feature current lead singer Steve Hogarth, following the departure of former vocalist Fish in late 1988. I have the Marillion LP’s and nothing of them on digital, so another bonus point to the Spotify algorithm for recommending Marillion based on my listening habits.

She’s got her hooks in you

No one else ever sounded like Marillion, either then or now. As a result we’re left with a body of work from 1983 to 1989, which really gets no accolades today. A cult like fan base sustains Marillion and to the hard-core fans they will never be forgotten.

David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise
Wow, it’s been 20 plus years since I’ve heard this song. It’s amazing how time makes you forget but as soon as you hear a song from your past, you are familiar with it, you know every word and it takes you back to a point in time, to MTV, to the video clip, to Steve Vai and his heart guitar, to big hair, to over the top lead singer antics and just a feel good innocent time where I believed I was indestructible.

The power of music.

Rockin’ steady in her daddy’s car
She got the stereo with the big guitars
And that’s all right

The scene is set with lyrics no one will ever forget.

This must be just like livin’ in paradise
And I don’t wanna go home

The undeniable chorus hook .

“Just Like Paradise” appeared on 1988’s “Skyscraper” album and the last to feature Steve Vai. I saw the album for sale when it came out but passed on it for AC/DC’s “Heatseeker”. I suppose Angus coming out of a television was a better marketing angle than David Lee Roth hanging on a mountain. Then that night, I caught the clip on MTV and I went back to the store the next day. I was afraid I’d missed my chance. Was that one LP still available?

It was. The impact of a song to sell an album cannot be underestimated. So I came home and dropped the needle and fell into confusion again. Like “Eat Em And Smile”, it was a very hit and miss album. But there is no denying the star of the album. It was a perfect MTV song for a band who’d paid their dues with previous artists, because, once upon a time paying your dues mattered.

Eclipse – Bleed and Scream
That intro riff over the foot stomping drum beat is addictive. This is from 2012.

Now you’re begging on your knees
And you’re begging me to stay
You beg me to look past your little mistake
There’s nothing you can say to me
No nothing you can say to me

Did she sleep with someone else?

I can handle the pain
Handle the betrayal
Handle the knife you stabbed in my back
You’re nothing but a memory
Someone I’m gonna forget

Man, this is an angry break up song and that solo takes me back to the 80’s. It’s structured and well thought out.

Another band from Stockholm, Sweden, formed in 1999. Currently they are on Frontiers Records and singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson is constantly used by the label to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints covered an Eclipse song.

Marys Creek – Hypnotized
Mary’s Creek hail from (drum roll………) Sweden. Formed in 2004, they have a Euro Pop vibe happening in the Chorus and the verses are a combination of heavy rock Euro metal.

The song is from the “Infinity” album released in 2016.

The intro to this song is like a commercialised edited version of “Seasons In The Abyss” from Slayer. Then from the 30 second mark, it goes into a very heavy AC/DC, “Long Way To The Top” vibe.

I try to love
I try to hate
Don’t give me pain
Cause my soul can’t take no more

You Want It, You Want It So Bad,
I will never let you go,
Come take it, you can take what you want, you’ve got me hypnotized

So I was curious to check out the album. Of course “Hypnotized” is the opening track and an excellent introduction to the band.

The next track to grab my attention is “So Afraid (To Live). Musically it’s a foot stomper and a modern take on the grooves of AC/DC.

So afraid you can’t go on this way
You have to live your life, you have to live

“The First Day” is up next and it’s pretty hooky.

This is the first day of the rest of my life

“The Ghost Inside” is more of what I expected from the album based on the song “Hypnotized”. It has that metallic edge and the cowbell comes out in the interlude.

Insanity is the ghost inside

“Forever Lost” is another track that deserves more attention, however it is buried at the tail end of the album. It crosses between metal and rock.

Could it be today I take my final breath?

You just don’t know when that day will be, so it goes without saying, don’t waste any time.

Slash – Wicked Stone
From 2014’s “World On Fire” album.

It starts off like a Van Halen song, but then when the main riff comes in, it reminds me of “Locomotive” from “Use Your Illusion II” and the vocals of Myles Kennedy are instantly recognisable.

I have this on CD, so I never told Spotify that I liked the band. Another bonus point for the algorithm.

It’s a great song, with a groovy swagger and an arena rock chorus.

Once a rolling stone
Now a falling star
Was so close to home
Now so far

Fame is fleeting. Each artist has a peak which is followed by a low. Some make it back to new highs, some just make it back and some just get off the grid.

Work Of Art – How Will I Know?
To be honest, with power been taken away from the labels as to who can release music, it has brought about a new era of artists who have no real reason to try to sound a certain way. Artists don’t have to worry about trends.

And that’s how Work of Art comes into the picture.

This song just brings back memories of the 80’s for me. It’s from the “Framework” album, released in 2014 and of course they are from Sweden. The bands origins go back to 1992 and the project got put on hold. They tried again in 1998. It got put on hold. Then they tried again from 2002.

How can I know if this love can be true?

We don’t and we never will. From what I have experienced, love changes as the years go on. That lustful love at the beginning changes a lot as time goes on.

The track was good enough to make me go to the album and hear it. And it was a cool listen. It’s classic melodic rock from the 80’s done at its best and for any fans it’s a worthwhile listen.

Other stand-out tracks are “How Do You Sleep At Night” and “The Machine”. Both songs have excellent guitar playing and that jazz fusion lead in “The Machine” is sublime.

Thunderstone – Through The Pain
How good is that groove in the intro?

That Chorus.

Melodic metal from Helsinki, Finland at its best. Formed in 2000 but the member’s origins go back even further. In 2001, they got a deal with Nuclear Blast. Their self-titled debut came out in 2002 and since then they have released 5 albums and changed members.

Give me your heart, give me your soul
You’ll feel alive again, take my hand, I’ll set you free
I will take your through the pain with me

The song is from the “Apocalypse Again” album released in 2016 and based on the strength of it, I immediately went to hear the album on Spotify.

After a generic power metal opening track, I was hooked by “The Path”. Wow, what a track. A foot stomping intro riff leads into a subdued verse, which is followed by a middle eastern sounding pre-chorus and capped off by a massive arena rock chorus.

You will always find your way back to your home
This is the path you’ll always roam

Damn right, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Higher” is the next track that hooks me in with the intro guitar lick that reminds me of Ozzy era “Hellraiser meets Zombie Stomp meets Welcome To The Jungle intro”. It doesn’t have that big power metal chorus and it relies solely on the groove and that intro lick.

“Days Of Our Lives” is another foot stomper. For some reason, when Thunderstone move away from the fast power metal songs the songs are just better and more addictive. This one has a Kashmir like drum groove.

These are the days of our lives
The time to be alive
Get wings and learn to fly
Soar up in the sky

I know, it’s been said so many times before, but who cares. This is heavy metal. Fly on your way like an eagle. Oh, wait a minute that was “Flight of Icarus” from Maiden. It doesn’t end well for poor Icarus.

UFO – Rock Bottom
At 7 plus minutes, you forget how powerful this track is. No one has the time these days to spend 7 minutes on a track. But back in the 80’s, all we had was time. And to anyone who wanted to listen, I’ve always said this track is the embryo that gave birth to the NWOBHM and speed metal movements in general.

Almost 40 years later the track still gets the head nodding and the foot tapping.

In the solo you can hear why Michael Schenker became an influence to a million guitarists. And he’s still doing it tough financially due to bad contracts, bad management deals and bad accountants who took large chunks while they drip fed him pennies.

Rock bottom (x6)

From a time when Choruses had the title repeated over and over again.

Lucifer goes walkin’
Down for you to meet

Good old Luci gets a mention. How did this song pass the censors back in the 70’s?

Warlock – All We Are
It’s from 1987’s “Truimph And Steel” album and it was perfect for MTV. A hot looking blonde front woman decked out in black leathers and an MTV friendly backing band.

Think of Warlock as the record label experiment that would lead to Mr Big a few years later. All of the members were recruited from bands that had either a good guitar player, a good bass player or a good drummer and nothing else. So the label A&R heads decided to keep the talent and eventually something will come along.

All we are
All we are, we are
We are all, all we need

How catchy is that Chorus?

That was the hook. A call to arms to all rock and metal heads to realise that all we need to make it or to be somebody is the unity. The strength of the pack.

Harem Scarem – Slowly Slipping Away
I passed on the LP because of the band name and that doll on the cover. Many years later, I heard the record and I was an instant fan.

We’ve had our share of confusion
We’ve been let down so many times before

Simple, yet so right.

Black Country Communion – One Last Soul
I’m a big fan of Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa, so I was very interested when I heard they got together. The usual outlets wrote a lot of good things about their little project, that also includes Jason Bonham. But I didn’t know where to start musically. I didn’t want to invest time into the whole album. I wanted recommendations. So thank you Spotify Discovery for bringing me “One Last Soul” from the debut self-titled album, released in 2010.

You’re the one last Soul
Who can win it
You’re the one last Soul
If you try
You’re the one last Soul
If you live it

The solo has this classic rock, Michael Schenker vibe.

And after three albums, they are on hiatus or broken up. I read some interviews with Glenn. He was angry at Joe’s commitment during the recording of the third album recording.

Sacred Mother Tongue – Evolve/Become
The song is from the album “A Light Shines” released in 2012.

This one is interesting. It’s got a huge arena rock melodic rock/metal chorus, with thrash style riffing and barking lyrics in the verses. I dig it.

Reflection of our failings, and all we’ve done
Our power is in numbers, unite as one
We’ll wash away destruction, when said and done
Evolve in forward motion / We must Become

Fates Warning – One
From the addictive “Disconnected” album, released in 2000 and to me is a perfect blend of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Tool and “Images and Words” era Dream Theater. This one is very influenced by Porcupine Tree.

Under the spotlight
I feel our world becoming one

You know the feeling when the spotlight shines on you. You cannot see anyone else and you feel like you’re the only one.

 

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