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

1979 – IV – Lights Out In America

I’m really enjoying revisiting this 1979 period.

For Parts 1, 2 and 3 just click on the numbers.

Here is the playlist for Part 4.

UFO – Strangers In The Night

Michael Schenker’s solo career was my first listening experience and UFO came much later in the 1990’s when I went seeking out the 70’s.

I got this album and “Lights Out” at a Record Fair in the late nineties for next to nothing.

Record fairs are very different beasts today, charging way too much and above retail. But once upon a time it was worth going.

Love to Love

How good is it?

The piano lines and how it all just builds and comes together. I do prefer the studio version because the guitar is more abrasive and higher in the mix.

Did you know that Schenker took his riff from this song and used it on “Desert Song”?

Quick, let’s get the lawyers on it.

Doctor Doctor

The first time I heard this song was on this album. And it reminded me of Maiden for some reason.

Lo and behold when I saw Maiden on the “Somewhere Back In Time” tour they had this song on the backing intro tape just before they started the concert.

Lights Out

The energy and attitude on this live version is electric and I dig.

And how good is that F#m riff groove from Schenker.

Damned If I Do – The Alan Parsons Project

It’s from the album “Eve” and I illegally downloaded his discography in the early 2000’s and before YouTube, because I was interested to hear the music of a person who was involved in capturing the sounds on such landmark albums like “Abbey Road” and “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

It was interesting to say the least.

Lyrically the song deals with loving someone else but that person you love doesn’t have the same feelings, hence the conflict of damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

And it’s the vocal melody that hooked me in, sung by Lenny Zakatak and while The Alan Parsons Project used more than one vocalist on each album, Zakatak was known as the real voice of the band.

Cold Cold Change – Midnight Oil

It’s from the “Head Injuries” album and the riff has a fuck you punk attitude that I like.

Is it a forewarning to climate change or a song dealing with the Australian political climate and using the weather as a metaphor or is it dealing with the Cold War (there is a lyric line that states;

We jumped in the air to see over the wall
No master plan, it’s a bad design
Significant time in spite of us all

Don’t Bring Me Down – Electric Light Orchestra

It’s from their “Discovery” album and man, it was huge.

It’s also the only good song on an album which was littered with strings and ballad like songs.

Styx – Cornerstone

Here is a review from Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock that I totally agree with.

Lights

Tommy Shaw is on vocals for a song that sounds like it could have appeared on an ELO album.

Borrowed Time

It’s a prog Rock song with its Pink Floyd inspired intro. Then it’s ELO and Boston in the verses and in the chorus, the dudes must have worn the tightest leather pants as there is some of the highest pitch harmonies ever committed to tape.

Living high on borrowed time indeed.

Eddie

It’s “All Right Now” sped up and its perfectly all right with me about telling Eddie not to run because it’s the end of his fun.

Yep, that’s the lyrical theme, so thank god the music connected.

Love In The Midnight

Its that section after the acoustic intro that hooks me. The groove and feel is perfect.

And then that bass groove while the choir like chants and then that keyboard solo and the guitars come in with a solo straight from the book of pentatonics.

It’s progressive in the vein of Yes and I fucking dig it.

The Knack – Get the Knack

The album that spawned “My Sharona” onto the world has some pretty cool Sixties retro tunes as well. But no one would know em, because “My Sharona” was everywhere.

Oh Tara

It was different and it reminded me of those 60s movies but when I heard it, it actually reminded me of Hanoi Rocks.

My Sharona

You can’t deny it’s catchy. From the drum intro to the bass/guitar riff.

Even the simple lead break is a lesson on effectiveness and simplicity as it builds to the repeated pull off lick towards the end of it.

And for a song that went to Number 1, the lead break goes over a minute long.

Fucking AAA, if you ask me, because in the 80s we started to get singles edit cuts and the first thing cut or shortened was the lead break.

That’s What the Little Girls Do

Again it’s got that 60s vibe which is cool.

Supertramp – Breakfast in America

One of the best albums of 1979.

This is the one that Supertramp built a career on, the one album that allows them the victory lap many years later. And it’s also their sixth album, which goes to show you need to be a lifer. Your greatest work always comes after and very rarely with your first release.

And it’s funny how I gravitated to the songs with vocals by Roger Hodgson.

And for those conspiracy theorists, the cover has been said to have forecasted the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers. Sometimes people have two much time on their hands.

The Logical Song

That keyboard riff and the unique vocal melody is what music is about. Plus this song worked well as a hard rock cover.

When I was young,
It seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical

The innocence of childhood and every day is an adventure.

But then they sent me away
To teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, oh responsible, practical

The schooling factory is all about dollars and conditioning. Whichever lobby group pays the most, gets the curriculum they want, that would benefit their business models.

And higher education was about expanding your mind and doing things differently until it changed as an essential qualification to get a job.

I said now what would you say
Now we’re calling you a radical,
A liberal, oh fanatical, criminal

And different viewpoints scare people, so we are given labels. If we don’t agree we are radicals, from the left or whatever other stupid term people come up with.

Breakfast In America

Another song that works well in a hard rock setting.

Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

I’m pretty sure there was a time when every soul around the world wanted to go to America once upon a time.

Is it still the case today?

I’m a winner, I’m a sinner
Do you want my autograph

All winners have a dark side.

To win in sport, players are required to border on the dark arts, which means playing on the edges of the rules.

To win in music, for every famous musician there is an aggrieved musician, especially when bands start out, most musicians write and play some of their most famous songs with others.

CC Deville lifted the “Talk Dirty To Me” riff from his previous band and gave them no credit.

“Hit The Lights” was written by James and another person in his previous band before Metallica but it’s credited to Hetfield and Ulrich. Even the Dave Mustaine compositions should not have any Ulrich credits but they do.

Take The Long Way Home

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
you take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home

Love these lyric lines. I can’t recall how many times I’ve taken the long way home because the drive was relaxing and the music playing on the stereo or my headset was spot on. I was like just one more song and after that I’ll drive towards home.

One time I had to return a video to the video store. Yep, video rentals was a thing once upon a time. The video store was only 3 minutes away from my house at the time, so all up, it would be 6 minutes for a return trip.

Well after I dropped the video off, I proceeded to drive towards Sydney, decided to stop at Coogee for Pizza and eventually I would get home 5 hours later.

Take the long way home indeed.

Tycoon – Tycoon

Sometimes a band releases an album that should have been popular however their label didn’t really know how to market them.

I don’t even remember how this album came into my life. Maybe it was the Freddie Mercury look a-likes on the cover.

Anyway for me, “Such A Woman” is the track that sealed the deal. It’s melodic and better than the songs that made up the Billboard Top 10. But it’s generic lyrically.

And final say goes to Dean Sciarra, who posted the below review on Amazon for this album.

First things first – this album has gotten a bad rap from certain people, one that it doesn’t deserve in my opinion. It may not be the best Classic Rock album in the world but it certainly has its moments.

As does “Turn Out The Lights” – the second album even though Tycoon was forced by the label to make this record under duress to comply with what the label thought would fly with what the market was buying at the time. They were wrong and subsequently the band was bumped from the label.

What they had wanted to do instead is reflected in the album “Opportunity Knocks” which is a rockin’ masterpiece that no label at the time would sign off on because everyone wanted the new Talking Heads kind of bands. Bad idea!

On a personal note, lead singer and main songwriter, Norman Mershon passed away in November of 2007. He was one of my best friends and a more wonderful person you will never meet. His death was tragic and avoidable due to doctors’ error. I managed Tycoon after they left Arista and was a part of the recording of “Opportunity Knocks” which to this day blows away all other Tycoon recordings. This could have been a big band had Arista not gotten in their way. I saw the future back then and it certainly included Tycoon still being around today had it not been for unfortunate bad luck

Little River Band – First Under The Wire

The fifth album by the Australian act.

Lonesome Loser

Have you hear about the lonesome loser?
He’s a loser but he still keeps on trying.

That my friends is life in a nut shell. We fall down and we get back up.

Hard Life

How good is the start?

Man it reminds me of Y&T so much.

It’s a hard life
We’ve just gotta learn to understand
That we’ll be alright
If we help everybody here
It’s a hard life
We just gotta learn to understand
That we’ll be alright
We just got to lend everybody here a helping hand

The problem is we are more divided than other over religion, politics, race and social standing.

Well that’s part four done, stay tuned for part five.

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

The “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Effect – Another Progress Is Derivative Example

The history of metal and rock music occurred because of some serious copying. My favourite saying has always been that all “progress is derivative.” What I mean by this term, is that all the music we love is an amalgamation of music that has come before. In a lot of the cases, this amalgamation involved some serious copying. To use a common term that is banded about today, the history of music as I know it involved a lot of “stealing.”

Previously, I posted on “The Kashmir Effect” in hard rock and heavy metal music. This was my take on the legacy that the Led Zeppelin song “Kashmir” had on hard rock and heavy metal.

In this post, I am focusing on that descending bass line that I first heard on the George Harrison penned “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The way that it descends is that it goes down by a whole tone first and then four semi tones in a chromatic progression. So if the song was in the key of Am, then the progression would be A – G – F# – F – E

Since the Sixties, that descending passage has appeared in countless songs that are all seen as classics in this day and age.

Recently it was “Trial Of Tears” from Dream Theater that triggered this study into the descending bass line.

So where do we begin. The beauty of progress in music never begins in one place. It begins in many places and then there is always a creator or an artist that starts to bring it all together.

In one instance, it all started in the fifties when an unknown folk singer by the name of Anne Bredon wrote a song called “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” By 1962, Joan Baez had popularised the song.

In another instance, in 1966, an American band called The Loving Spoonful released a song called “Summer In The City”, that had a verse riff in the key of Cm that descended.

Also in that same year, a British band called The Kinks released “Sunny Afternoon.”

Both songs have a lot of similarities, especially that descending bass line. Back in those days it was common for artists to release similar sounding songs across two continents, or for artists to cover a song that was popular on one continent and unheard of in the other.

In 1967, the mighty Cream released “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” another “progress is derivative” gem that featured a similar bass line to The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” and a vocal melody inspired by Judy Collins’ version of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.”

Then in 1968 came “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles with a definitive guitar solo from Eric Clapton, who had more or less worked out a similar solo the previous year on the “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” song.

So at this point in time, you have two separate stages of music happening. The US “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You and Summer In The City” stage and The British “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” stage.

In 1969, another British band by the name of Led Zeppelin took these two stages and merged them together in their re-interpretation of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”. A perfect example of progress being derivative.

That is how the language of music is learned. We imitate our influences. Some will call it “theft” and others will call it “inspiration.” In the end, there is a saying that goes something like “Talent Imitates, True Genius Steals.”

However, the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” effect doesn’t end there. An American band called Chicago more or less copied the aggressive part of Led Zeppelin’s version of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” for their song “25 or 6 to 4.”

It was just another song that proved successful using the same descending bass line that I will always know as the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” bass line.

So moving on, in 1971, The Grass Roots released “Temptation Eyes”. Another song that proved successful that was tied up with the descending bass line and the “Summer In The City” groove established years earlier.

Culture is all about emulation. Copyright is about governments intervening and this is when Copyright started to become a force to be reckoned with.

Up until 1971, music culture had 11 years of unbelievable progress by copying what came before and making it better. Look at the quality of music released around a descending bass line.

It didn’t end there. I am sure there are many other examples in between, however to my knowledge the next time the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” effect was heard occurred in 1975. At this time Styx released “Suite Madame Blue.”

The Eighties had a real pop element to it.

Then in 1993, I purchased an album called “Countdown To Extinction” from Megadeth. The opening track, Skin Of My Teeth had a chorus riff that reminded me of The Beatles classic. Dave Mustaine was well known for taking his influences from the Seventies and converting them to thrash and metal music. He even got a mention for the Kashmir influence in the song “In My Darkest Hour.”

Then in 1995, Oasis released “She’s Electric” and there it was again. The “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” effect was in action again in the Nineties after going largely unnoticed in the Eighties.

Green Day then released “Brain Stew” in 1996 and there it was again, the definitive descending bass line.

The following year, 1997 saw two releases that had the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” descending bass line. This time is was progressive masters, Dream Theater and their song “Trial Of Tears”. Pop rock band Texas also had a song called “Black Eyed Boy.”

Remember songs are not created in vacuums.

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Music

The Night Flight Orchestra – Internal Affairs (2012)

2012 Album released that should not be forgotten.

Wow – what a classic rock album released in June 2012.

Internal Affairs

The Night Flight Orchestra (NFO) is a side project / super group of Bjorn Strid (Soilwork) on vocals, Sharlee D’Angelo (Arch Enemy) on bass, David Anderson (Meanstreak and Soilwork session player) on guitars, Jonas Kallsback (Meanstreak) on drums and Richard Larsson (Von Benzo) on drums.

Imagine Kiss, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Bee Gees, Boston, Deep Purple, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin and Journey thrown into a blender.  The result is The Night Flight Orchestra.

1. Siberian Queen kicks it off with its combination of Led Zep’s Immigrant Song and Achilles Last Stand.  This icy princess from the Russian wilderness, starts to do the opposite and warm the ear buds for more.

2. California Morning kicks off with a Boston meets Kiss guitar riff to tell the story about  tearful goodbyes on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

3. Glowing City Madness – This has an Elton John style vocal melody to tell the story of an Asian Dancer.

4. West Ruth Ave – Wow, what a catchy hook on this song.  This song is hit potential and it deserves to go viral so that everyone hears Bjorn’s story of fleeing Ft Lauderdale and ending up in Phoenix. It has that Gotye levels of catchy, a Kiss Dynasty / Foreigner / Bee Gees rock disco vibe and a Layla esque outro.

5. Transatlantic Blues – The first part is very Styx like and then it moves into a heavy Deep Purple meets Kiss War Machine style riff.  Even Jake E Lee referenced the same classic rock material for his Badlands project with Ray Gillan on vocals.

I read somewhere on the net that this song is about embarking on an inner journey and ending up in the middle of nowhere, shitfaced and listening to KANSAS.

6. Miami 5:02 – This is what happens when Van Halen meets Deep Purple.  Waking up in Florida in your birthday suit and a pair of Ray Bans.

7. Internal Affairs – Play That Funky Music White Boy meets Stevie Wonder Superstitious.  Nothing more should be said.  This funky ode is to a mysterious women from the age of the Cold War.

8. 1998 – is the 2012 version of Bob Seger’s classic 70’s recordings like Turn The Page and Night Moves crossed with the best of the Michael Stanley Band.  This song tells the story of travelling the endless highways of America.

9. Stella Ain’t no Dove – The threesome party anthem.

10. Montreal Midnight Supply – This is Deep Purple, 38 Special and Kiss Detroit Rock City stomping shuffle.  In the chorus it even sounds like Y&T’s Midnight In Tokyo.  Throughout the whole song you get that classic twin guitar feel of Thin Lizzy.

11. Green Hills of Glumslöv – Glumslöv is the small village in Sweden where Bjorn is from.  When you hear this song, you will get the instant sensation of the Warriors returning to Coney Island and Joe Walsh’s In The City playing in the background.  There is also a large Queen influence in this.

12. American High is the digital bonus track.

Overall its a great album.

What could have NFO done differently with this release?

Since they embraced the 70’s vibe in the music, in my view they should have embraced the 70’s vibe for marketing and released an 8 song album (Tracks 1 to 8) and then released ‘4 singles with a B side’.  Tracks 9 to 12 could have been the B sides.  Single material songs are West Ruth Ave, Internal Affairs, California Morning and Transatlantic Blues.

 

 

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