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

Random Listening 2.0

A few of the people I follow on WordPress had their 2017 lists up and it got me interested to check out the music which made their lists.

So these random listens are from the WordPress site ….THUNDER BAY.

Greta Van Fleet – From The Fires

For the last four months, people have been telling me to check this band out. And when I did, I thought it was Wolfmother, an Aussie band who had a similar 70’s classic rock/metal feel to their music. All I know of them is that they are young. That’s all. How different to before, when we read the interviews in the magazines, saw the advertisements and basically knew how the album was made before we even purchased it or listened to it or dubbed it from a mate.

“Edge Of Darkness” is the song that hooked me. It’s feel and groove, which is a cross between Southern Rock and Led Zep’s style of rock is infectious. “A Change Is Gonna Come” is heavy in Led Zep influences vocally, but musically, I am not sure if people have heard the song “Jealousy” by Frankie Miller. Well it sounds like that crossed with a little bit of Bob Seger.

“Highway Tune” is another one of those songs that sounds familiar, but it’s done in such a way, it sounds unique. “Talk On The Street” could have appeared on a Blue Oyster Cult album. “Black Smoke Rising” is a more dirtier and up-tempo “Dyermaker” from Led Zep.

Anyway, even though the album was released in 2017, the songs above have been added to my 2018 playlist. Let’s see which ones remain until the end of the year.

Headstones – Little Army

The lyrics. Wow. Check out some beauties.

  • “We’ll I’m a red meat eater, liar and cheater”… from “Devils On Fire”.

Take that all you politically correct wannabes.

  • “We’re fundamentally broken, we no longer question ourselves and nobody noticed the quiet is a call for help”… from “Broken”.

Truth in these words, but we deny it, posting the happiest pics onto our social media account, so everyone can see how great our life looks.

  • “You won’t lift your finger to get your s!!t out of this” … from “Little Army”.

Blaming others when something goes wrong and doing nothing to fix the problem.

  • “Driving now with no headlights until the sunlight kills the stars” …. “Sunlight Kills The Stars”.

Sometimes in life you just don’t want to be seen or noticed.

  • “It’s so hard to find the positive again and again, it’s so hard to really listen to your friends when your mind just spins”… from “For Your Consideration”.

Picking yourself up from a hole you are in.

  • “You’re singing the same old song, it’s called “sucking the life outta me”… from “Dead To Me”.

You gotta love relationships.

Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright

“Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo” is an excellent song title and the song is pretty cool as well. “Floating Down” rocks hard for a mid-tempo song, and the vocal line is infectious and “If You Still Want My Love” is a bonus track on the deluxe version that probably no one would hear.

I was never a Cheap Trick fan.

Bands I liked always mentioned them as influences, but when you have limited funds to purchase music, I usually avoided Cheap Trick until the 90’s and I picked up their LP’s up to “Lap Of Luxury” for $2 each.

And youngsters won’t care about this album and the millions who purchased “Lap Of Luxury” because of “The Flame” won’t care either. But there are people who will care!

Europe – Walk The Earth and The Final Countdown 30th Anniversary live

I really enjoyed “The Final Countdown” 30th Anniversary show. Europe nailed it. They started off with the whole “War Of Kings” album and then played the while “The Final Countdown” album. When Joey Tempest screams, “Are you ready London?” the answer is a unanimous cheer.

And for “Walk The Earth”, my thoughts on the album are already on this blog. Europe’s creativity is at an all-time high and I’m loving it.

Stephen Pearcy – Smash

Does anyone care if Stephen Pearcy is running solo, the same way Vince Neil is running solo? Okay bad comparison, because Vince is just playing Motley songs live, while Pearcy is still being creative.

The “Unchained” sounding “Ten Miles Wide” is cool while “Rain” is interesting musically and it has some decent lyrics. “Want Too Much” works but the piece d’resistance is “Passion Infinity”. Everything just fits and works brilliantly together. Finally “Summers End” is another song that surprised me with its epic “Kashmir” feel. Not bad from the Rattster.

Collective Soul – Live

It took me a while to get into this band. It was actually a guitar transcription in Guitar World or Guitar School magazine for the song “Disciplined Breakdown” that got me interested.

After playing it through without hearing it, I enjoyed it so much, I went through a few earlier editions of the mag and found another transcription for the song ”Precious Declaration”.

So I sat down and started playing the riff the way it was transcribed and I’m thinking, man, this sounds like “Walk This Way”. Anyway, the song moves into different sections for the pre chorus and chorus and I was like blown away at the groove. So I went out and purchased. Afterwards, I was hooked.

Moving forward, I sort of forget about the band after “Dosage” was released in 1999. And I never thought of them as a live band however the Thunder Bay blog had the live album in a 2017 list, so I was interested to hear it.

They don’t disappoint and they have the catalogue of songs to keep the live show ticking over. I also dig the change to have “Shine” starting off with the piano and how they jam it out “Lynyrd Skynyrd” style at the end, turning one of their biggest songs into a 7 minute jam epic is worth the price of admission alone.

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

Dokken, Motley Crue and Ratt. More examples of the Progress Is Derivative Model

This isn’t a story about who ripped off who. To me those arguments are irrelevant as I am a great believer in the “progress is derivative” principle which is that all artists take a little bit of what came before and create something that to them is original.

It’s funny how you can have three songs that have pretty similar main riffs however each song has a totally different reach and impact with the audience.

Listen to “Young Girls” from Dokken’s first album “Breaking The Chains” and then listen to “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue.

Now ask yourself the following question;

Do the opening riffs sound very similar?

If you answered YES then read the below, however if you answered NO then go back and repeat the above exercise until you hear that they do sound very similar.

Now listen to “Tell The World” from RATT.

Does the opening riff also sound similar albeit with a few small variations?

If you answered YES then read the below, however if you answered NO then go back and repeat the above exercise.

Musically, the three songs have a definitive riff that is very similar. However, one song is clearly forgotten, one song is considered a classic and the other one is a fan favourite.

The Dokken song was destined for the scrap heap just by the song title alone. Add to that some really crap lyrics, plus a really lazy uninspired vocal melody from Don Dokken and you have a disaster of mass distortion regardless of how good the bed of music is from Lynch. This is a perfect example of how good musicianship doesn’t shine due to bad lyrics.

In sports you are as strong as your weakest link and in this case the weakest link was the song title and the lyrics/vocal melodies.

Then you have the Motley Crue version that has lyrics drenched in sleaze, attitude and danger. The vocal melodies are simple with three or four syllable phrases, clustered together and barked out with venom. Add to that a song title that screams attention. Without even taking into account the video clip images and what not, “Looks That Kill” is far superior because of the way Nikki Sixx phrases his vocal melodies.

Then you have the Ratt’s “Tell The World”. Stephen Pearcy lived the L.A lifestyle. He immersed himself in the scene, along with his San Diego cohort Robin Crosby.

The main drivers behind all three songs are George Lynch, Don Dokken, Nikki Sixx, Robin Crosby and Stephen Pearcy. George Lynch was a constant L.A performer towards the late seventies and early eighties. Nikki Sixx and Robin Crosby would go on to be best friends. Both were consistent performers on the L.A scene. Stephen Pearcy was also a constant on that scene.

The music in these songs is not about who ripped off who. It is about how the sound of the L.A scene influenced all of the musicians involved.

In a nutshell playing two open string pedal points and then a power chord straight after was pretty basic Hard Rock/Metal 101.

This type of playing was very synonymous with bands like Judas Priest, UFO (Michael Schenker) and Scorpions.

In the U.S, you had the mighty Ted Nugent pushing out songs with definitive riffs based around open pedal points and power chords. Check out “Stranglehold”.

If you want to see that type of figure on steroids and totally original, check out the Randy Rhoads opening riff in “Steal Away The Night” . Rhoads starts it off with two open notes and then an inversion of a power chord. Then instead of doing two more open E’s he plays the B and A notes in lieu of the two open E’s.

In the end, as humans we are a sum of our influences and our cultures. The L.A scene was a culture based around a decadent lifestyle. In between all of that, the bands involved ended up crafting some great tunes along the way.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

How Can You Jam Together With Different Goals and Different Viewpoints?

The nucleus of my first band was together was for about three years. After that, it was more unstable. My second band lasted two years, my third band made four years and my fourth band made two years. So when they all fizzled out in arguments, I was always answering questions to my doubters as to why the latest band I was in never made it.

My answer was always the same, “Each musician had a different goal and a different definition of success and because of those differing viewpoints we didn’t have a lot of time together and we never really gelled as a band”.

So I was surprised and heartened to hear Mike Inez say something similar. He made a few good points about the Seattle scene and the LA scene towards the end of the Eighties and the dawn of the Nineties. There are lessons to be learnt here.

“Soundgarden was a band for 10 years before they got signed to a major label. So they had a lot of time to get together and gel as a band. Even all the bands like Nirvana and Alice in Chains in their early days and Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone – they had a lot of time to jam together before they released their music to the world. So I think that was very important. Where here in Los Angeles, they were just trying to mix and match bands by ‘Oh, we need a bass player with long, blonde hair,’ or ‘We need a singer with curly hair.’ They were just trying to do that. So the music started lacking, I think.”

I always say it. What people might see as an overnight success is a long time in the making.

I am currently reading the Stephen Pearcy book and like many other rock star books, there is a process involved of building your brand and developing your sound. That process involves a few key figures. In the case of RATT, the version that started off as Mickey Ratt is not the one that recorded the classic “Out Of The Cellar” album. As they continued to gel as a band, as they spent their time jamming together, the musicians that didn’t have the goods or the drive would fall by the wayside.

And throughout it all, there is always the main driver. In RATT’s case it was Stephen Pearcy. In Kiss’s case it was Paul Stanley. Hell, the most famous song that Gene Simmons is known for is “God Of Thunder” and it is penned by Stanley. In Motley Crue’s case it was Nikki Sixx. For Soundgarden it was Chris Cornell and Kim Thayill. For Alice In Chains it was Jerry Cantrell.

In Whitesnake it was Dave Coverdale. He kept the flame burning until John Sykes came on the scene to assist in the creation of the classic 87 album. In Deep Purple it was Richie Blackmore. Don’t believe me, then tell me all the albums without Richie Blackmore?

And for me, I didn’t have the drive to deal with anymore egos and bullshit. One of the bands I was in was exactly the same as what Ozzy said recently. When I said to the drummer lets jam and see where it takes us, he was like, “WHY. That is time wasting.” He wanted a song to be written out with melodies before he sat down to drum to it.

And that is why I am sitting behind a keyboard and writing this.

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