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

Progress Is Derivative – One Riff To Rule Them All

Spotify Playlist

Remember “Progress Is Derivative” means to take the best things of what has come before and merge it all together to come up with something new. In some cases it might sound similar to something in the past and in other cases it might sound unique, original and innovative. And the “One Riff To Rule Them All” is a perfect example of how so many songs can have the same riff conceptually and still be able to stand on their own.

One Riff To Rule Them All…
Yep, it’s the A pedal point riff… It all started with a motor city madman called Ted Nugent, and his song “Stranglehold” released in 1975 (actually it’s a bluesy groove that has been around for a lot longer before then). Since then, the riff has morphed to inspire the following songs.

  • “Hell Bent For Leather” by Judas Priest released in 1978.
  • The intro to “Swords and Tequila” from Riot released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Never Surrender” by Saxon released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Riding With Angels” by Samson (with Bruce Dickinson on vocals), released in 1981.
  • The main riff to “Hellbound” by Tygers of Pan Tang released in 1981.
  • The main riff for “Flash Rockin’ Man” by Accept released in 1982.
  • The Intro in “Curse Of The Pharaohs” from Mercyful Fate released in 1983.
  • The main riff in “Power And The Glory” from Saxon released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Stand Up And Shout” from Dio released in 1983.
  • The main riff to “Seek And Destroy” by Raven released in 1983.
  • The intro and main riff in “Two Minutes To Midnight” from Iron Maiden released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Heavy Metal Breakdown” by Grave Digger released in 1984.
  • The main riff to “Phantoms Of Death” by Helloween released in 1985.
  • The main riff to “Skin O My Teeth” by Megadeth released in 1992.
  • The main riff to “Break The Chains” from Tokyo Blade.
  • A small variation of “the riff to rule them all” morphed into “Welcome To Hell” from Venom released in 1981.
  • And this morphed into “Looks That Kill” from Motley Crue released in 1983 and became known as the Sunset Riff. So it was no surprise that other Sunset guitarists started using it.
  • “Young Girls” from Dokken in 1983 has a riff that’s similar.
  • “Tell The World” from Ratt, released in 1983 also has it.

I guess you can’t keep a good riff down. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Music is derivative. Always has been and always will be.

Ted Nugent’s originality in the 70’s is due to him writing derivative versions of blues grooves. There would be no metal music without rock and roll and there would be no rock and roll without country and blues. In the early blues (circa 30’s), copying and transforming was the norm. The same blues song would be recorded by different artists in different states. Sometimes, the titles would change. No lawyers got involved and especially no courts. In return, this allowed the blues sound to grow.

If you look at the bands above, they all built careers from the same patterned riff without a lawsuit to be seen.

What an amazing concept?

Stone Temple Pilots
Fans of Kiss smiled when they heard “Sex Type Thing” from Stone Temple Pilots. The main riff is influenced by “War Machine”. How strange it is, that one of Kiss’s heaviest songs is co-written by pop rock songwriters, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance with Gene Simmons.

Motley Crue
The Chorus riff to “Ten Seconds to Love” sounds like it was influenced by a certain riff in “Rock & Roll” by The Plasmatics. Actually they sound the same, but who cares. Both are different songs and unique and as you all know, I am a fan of the “progress is derivative” viewpoint.

The Led Zeppelin Effect Again
The impact of “Immigrant Song” cannot be underestimated.

Recently I heard it in “Siberian Queen” (2012) from The Night Flight Orchestra. The drum pattern is Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” (1970) and the guitar riffs reference “Achilles Last Stand” in the intro and verse riff.

Meanwhile, John Sykes re-invented himself as Jimmy Page when he combined “Black Dog” with “Immigrant Song” in “Still Of The Night” (1987). In case you are not sure, it’s the riff that comes in after the intro singing.

Then there are the obvious clones of “Immigrant Song” in “Hold Her Tight” by The Osmonds (1972) and “Burning” by Sweet (1973).

Music is and always will be derivative. Enjoy.

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The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic

“We sound like cocaine”
Bjorn Strid

If you have stopped by the blog previously, you will know of my appreciation for The Night Flight Orchestra.

“Amber Galactic” is their third release and their big label debut on Nuclear Blast.

It all started in 2012 with the excellent debut. “Internal Affairs”. It continued in 2015, with “Skyline Whispers” and in 2017, we have “Amber Galactic”. While we live in an era where the big bands don’t even take the stage without a huge investment up front from promoters and what not, it’s good to hear a band jamming and having fun.

“For me personally, song writing is one of my favourite jobs. This is something I do very often in my spare time. That’s why I always have a lot of songs lying around waiting to be realized. This time, I wrote half of the songs of “Amber Galactic”, Sebastian Forslund, our second guitarist, wrote three, Björn wrote two and “Domino” we wrote together when we were on tour bus in Austria.”
David Andersson 

Midnight Flyer

“When you find yourself on a night flight across the oceans, you’ve just left everything you love behind and once you land you know that nothing will ever be the same. You’ve got nothing left to lose, and you just want to escape reality, no matter the cost. A melancholic over the top party anthem, about the deep personal insights you can only get at 36,000 ft. with a stiff drink in your trembling hands, and the mysterious beauty that you hope will be there waiting for you when you arrive.”
Bjorn Strid 

It was the first song recorded for the album, the first single released to promote the album and it kicks the album off in a frantic style.

From the start, it reminds me of a cross between “Highway Star/Speed King” from Deep Purple and “Death Alley Driver” from Rainbow. The drum groove reminds me of a steroid versioned “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin.

I remember reading an early interview that Deep Purple’s “Made In Japan” and “Made In Europe” are favourites and you can hear it in “Midnight Flyer”, how it builds from the keyboard intro, similar to how “You Fool No One” builds on the “Europe” live album or “Speed King” on the “Japan” live album.

I’m not leaving
I’m just going somewhere else
Far from the sighs and whispers
And the weakness of myself
Now is not the time
To think of all I’ve lost
There are skylines left to conquer
There are oceans left to cross

The work ethic of the TNFO members is high. Multiple bands mean more touring, more time in recording studios, more time song writing and lots of champagne. Meanwhile they are all trying to keep relationships going or families going.

I’m a midnight flyer rushing through the storm
I got lost without your loving and I can’t find my way home

I can’t function and get lost when all hell is breaking loose in my family/love life. We are all creatures of love and acceptance.

Star Of Rio
The guitar riff is infectious and the up tempo drums remind me of early Kiss like “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce”. Actually this drum groove appears on this album a few times as well as their previous albums. Refer to “Sad State Of Affairs”.

The chorus on this song is full on rocking, with gospellish female vocals and what not.

My Star Of Rio
You always light my empty skies

I have no idea what the star of Rio is, except for being a cool song title and an excellent song.

Gemini

“Amber Galactic” takes place in a future in where humanity explores and conquers space. The twist is that the commanders are actually commanders, just like the leaders on Earth are all female. The men are mainly responsible for mundane tasks. They worship the women. They also always fall in love with the women of the highest rank, although they are always out of reach for the men. “Jennie” and “Gemini” are both such stories, which in the case of “Gemini” is also presented in the form of the animated music video.”
David Andersson 

On each album they have a disco pop metal rock track. “West Ruth Ave” took the spot on the first album, “Living For The Night-time” took the spot on the second album and “Gemini” takes the spot on the third album.

“I just looked to the sky and sought for a sigh of glimpse of you”

In a time of terror and reality stars as leaders, all we can do is look to the sky and dream away of being with the person that doesn’t want to be with you. Brilliant.

“Bodies in orbit and a signal from a far
As I look to the skies I’m dying to be right where you are”

Relationships drive us forward.

“I’m fighting not to lose control”

It doesn’t take much for humans to lose control.

So many influences are present in this song, like Styx, The Police, Divinyls and Blondie.

Sad State Of Affairs

The drum groove from “Star In Rio” is back and musically the song reminds me of “California Morning” from their debut album, “Internal Affairs”. Additional influences that come to mind are the Rolling Stones “Jumpin Jack Flash”, “Unmasked” KISS era with a bit of Steely Dan thrown in. When the song hits the bridge its Steely Dan meets Billy Joel. Brilliant.

It’s a sad state of affairs now that my heart aint going anywhere

Lyrically, it’s a song about being in love and not being able to get out of being in love.

Jennie
It’s got a bass groove influenced by “Burning Heart” from Survivor and some strong influences from Supertramp and Elton John.

Who’s Jennie?

It’s one of those mysterious women the band likes to write about.

Any other day I would long for the sound
Every little noise that was you
But it was silence we used to come by
Just simply sharing the truth

Relationships are a tough gig. We love being in one and we hate it when it doesn’t go as plan.

And I saw your face on the screen just tonight
Telling us all what to do

Is Jennie one of those female leaders that the men are all in love with but can’t have?

Domino

The keys are superb and the bass playing is groovy and brilliant. The whole song has this vibe from the Sylvester Stallone directed movie “Staying Alive”. The intro also reminds me of “Lorelei” from Styx and there is a Toto “Africa” vibe happening as well under a disco pop rock feel.

I was lost in Vienna with the devil on my trail
I just arrived from Venice, got your letter in the mail

The scene is set.

Domino
For games we play I fell away
It’s time you know
You can’t play with my heart

Gene Simmons had a man size predicament about Domino. I guess it still continues.

Josephine
Here is a song about another mysterious woman. According to the guys in the band the song has this “Hill Street Blues” TV theme happening. And I don’t disagree.

Trying to get me some action
I was drunk and lost in a dream
I was asking the DJ to play
Edge of Seventeen

“Edge Of Seventeen” is a Stevie Nicks song. Love the reference to it and how trying to get some action meant playing a song that the opposite sex would like and dance to.

Josephine
Your song was written long ago

Digging the guitar solo and Richard Larsson rocks the keys on the outro.

Space Whisperer

There’s that drum groove again that appears multiple times throughout the album.

Why not?

It’s the best groove in town.

And the riffs just enhance it.

Like a shadow in your sunset
Radiating from your gaze
I could feel you in the distance

“Space Whisperer” is about being alone in space.

A satellite transmission from a world I didn’t see
Space Whisperer

The section before the guitar solo that’s like a drum solo reminds me of “Radar Love” and the guitar solo is one of those “songs within a song” guitar solos.

Something Mysterious

The intro is a cross between “Reason To Live” from Kiss and “Burning Heart” from Survivor. But when the verse rolls around, it’s full on like “Burning Heart”. It’s fantastic how they tie up so many influences into a super catchy song.

“Light up the sky like something mysterious”

Plus it’s got a cool retro 80’s film clip to go with it.

Saturn In Velvet
The normal epic closer and a verse riff that reminds me of another song and it’s killing me because I cannot come up with the title.

What ya trying to do with me
I never saw it coming
You left me dragging my own misery
Around the circle of habit

I am pretty sure Bjorn sings the above. Maybe he doesn’t sing it, but my ears want to hear the last two lines in that way.

Remember back in the day, when you would get music dubbed from a friend and then you would spend hours deciphering/writing the lyrics of the song. Well, we are back to those days with streaming. You see, with less physical product doing the rounds and access to music at all-time highs, the lyric sheet is a thing of the past. Yeah I know the bigger artists have their lyrics all over the web and eventually the lyrics to this song would also get there, but a week has passed since the album release and still no lyrics.

Just Another Night
A cover of Mick Jagger’s solo hit from “She’s The Boss” released in 1985 and to be honest it bloody rocks. In saying that, I am a fan of Jagger’s original version as well. It was a song that crossed over to the hard rock audiences.

Just another night
Just another night with you
Just another kiss
Just before the dark breaks through

Brilliant.

On a final note, David Andersson churns out basically any guitar style and for me he deserves special praise here. Bjorn Strid on vocals cements himself as the most versatile and fun-loving singer on planet Earth. The rhythm section of Sharlee D’Angelo on bass and Jonas Kallsback is tighter than a G-string tuned to A. Keyboardist Richard Larsson has become an important cog in the TNFO machine while newest member Sebastian Forslund delivers any other instrument needed plus he wrote a few songs for the record.

Overall, it’s one of the best listens I have had since their debut “Internal Affairs” caught me by total surprise and suckered punched me into fandom.

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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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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

On Fire and Not So On Fire

On Fire

The Night Flight Orchestra (the brilliant classic rock project from Swedish extreme metallers) have released three scorching pre-release singles from their third album, due in May. It started off with the Deep Purple inspired “Midnight Flyer”. Then came the super poppy “Gemini” with its Blondie feel and disco vibes and on Friday, we got the Steely Dan/Rolling Stones inspired “Sad State Of Affairs”.

Any concept story that has males fighting female commandos with pearl necklaces has my attention. Bring on TNFO.

Not So On Fire

Record labels are still fighting to block music piracy websites.

In Australia, it will cost the record labels $50 per name to have the website’s domain names blocked. The labels wanted the ISP’s to cover the costs, however the ISP’s argued the point and the courts agreed. But as numerous research has shown, the labels should be spending their money on ensuring that music is accessible to all instead of fighting piracy. And artists should be negotiating better streaming payments from their label instead of complaining about Spotify.

On Fire

Sweden’s music scene.

Call it the Max Martin effect. Call it government investment into the creative arts. For those that don’t know, Martin controls the pop charts, with 70% of the songs in the Top 10 written by Martin and his team of writers. Of course, Martin’s real name is Karl Martin Sandberg, and he’s from Sweden and he was a singer in a hard rock band which had a deal in the early 90’s.

His successes, coupled with the Swedish Government (along with other Northern European countries) investing heavily in the Arts sector equals a very healthy music scene of many genres.

Not So On Fire

Jail time for copyright infringement is on par with jail times for drug trafficking and murder. A 22-year-old in Sweden is facing a 5 year sentence for copyright infringements, while a serious drug trafficker in the same country gets a maximum of 3 years.

In the UK, 10 years in jail for copyright violations is now a reality as well.

On Fire

Blistered Earth have a career spreading the gospel of Metallica as a tribute band. One unfortunate night, they had their gear stolen. As a muso who has had gear stolen, it doesn’t feel too good. It actually feels like crap. Especially, when you don’t have the funds to replace the stolen gear. Well, straight from a scene from the movie “Pay It Forward”, Metallica ended up coming to the rescue and replaced the gear.

Not So On Fire

Australia is going all crazy on Copyright these days. Even to the stage where a copyright collection agency is “diverting payments intended for journalists and authors to a [$11 million] “future fund” to fight changes to the law.

And the world will still get the same bullshit messages about the service being to blame for low payments or the format. On Fire Adrenaline Mob is back. After the death of AJ Pero and the previous departure of Mike Portnoy, the band is still rolling. “King Of The Ring” just hit the streaming scene and it’s doing the rounds.

Not So On Fire

A few years back when Adrian Vandenberg tried to restart his pre-Whitesnake band called “Vandenberg” with new musicians, his 80’s bandmates went to court to stop him from using his own surname with new musicians. So Vandenberg became “Vandenberg’s Moon Kings”.

Actually a similar thing happened to Don Dokken after Dokken splintered in the late 80’s. Even though George Lynch hated the band name Dokken, he still stopped Don from using it after the break up. Go figure.

Anyway, on my Spotify New Release Radar, a song came up from a band called Vandenberg. I was intrigued and it looks like Vandenberg got to use his surname after all. But it wasn’t Adrian Vandenberg. It’s some techno group called Vandenberg and Spotify couldn’t differentiate between the rock band and the techno band. Not so on fire for Spotify, but also “not so on fire” to the courts and band mates that prevented Adrian from using his surname. Instead, we have a techno band using it.

On Fire

Netflix.

A hacker threatened to post online episodes of the “Orange Is The New Black” online if Netflix didn’t pay a ransom. The leak would have meant that the series was released one month ahead of its official June 9 release. Netflix did nothing and the hacker released the episodes. Netflix opted to do nothing and nothing really happened post release. The people who are Netflix subscribers and like the show, have no interest in downloading the episodes. They would rather wait. Even the “kitchen talk” social aspect the next day after an episode won’t start until Netflix airs the episodes. Some people might be ahead of the pack and post spoilers on-line, but the majority of fans will wait.

Not So On Fire

The Billboard Chart or any chart for that matter.

Do we still need this metric?

Charts are still there for the “old way of doing things” record companies to see who is succeeding or losing, because in today’s world they have no idea what’s happening. The chart might measure an instant impact, but it will not measure what is around for years.

It’s all about if people are listening. And if they are listening, are they throwing money down to see you live. And if they come to see you live, are they throwing money down for your merchandise. And SoundScan/Billboard without investing in anything, are trying to remain current. So they come up with a formula that so many streams equal a sale. But streams are not sales. They are listens. So it’s all a mess. What we need are charts that combine sales, streams, concert grosses, Google search items and torrents.

We live in a land of data, however when it comes to music, it’s always muddled. Because it’s fans that make the monies roll in music and no one is asking them who should be on top of the charts.

On Fire

For the sake of music and creativity, let’s hope that the courts finally throw out the stupid “Blurred Lines” plagiarism suit. While the Record labels talk about a music community when they do their own PR statements (which in other words they are talking about themselves), the real music community is in the latest filing condemning that a judge in the previous case believed a groove and an idea is copyrightable.

Not So On Fire

Artists are still mad at Spotify for the streaming rates they pay when people listen to their music.

But the fact that Spotify and Universal Music (just one record label) agreed to a new licensing deal, which means multi millions of dollars to the record label, the artists are silent.

Why?

They should be getting a cut from this licensing arrangement, as it’s their songs the labels are using as leverage in its negotiations with Spotify.

And for the songwriters who write songs that other artists perform and songs that record labels use as leverage in negotiating deals, you can hear their complaints about the pennies paid to them on news stories from time to time.

There are a few things these songwriters can do;

  1. Write a new song that is a hit. You don’t hear Max Martin complaining about the streaming rates coming his way.
  2. Renegotiate their royalty arrangement with the label and their publisher.

Remember in 2008, when 30 Seconds To Mars, ended up $1.4 million in debt to their label, even though they had sold over two million records. They took each other court. EMI for breach of contract and the band for unpaid royalties.

“Spotify is giving up 70 percent of all their revenues to rights owners. It’s just that people don’t know where the money is because the record labels haven’t been transparent.” Bono – U2 

Spotify is not the enemy; piracy is the enemy,” Quincy Jones

“Piracy doesn’t pay artists a penny. We’re trying to build a new music economy that works for artists in a way the music industry never has before.” Daniel Ek 

On Fire

TV shows.

Do a great TV show with no filler episodes and watch people gravitate. As a fan of the “American Gods” book, the first episode is a win.

Not So On Fire

The Album.

Being a Spotify Premium user for 2 and a half years, I can honestly say that the album is irrelevant. Even for bands I like, I hear it once, select my favourite songs on the initial listen and add those to playlists.

As an artist, is it better to get four to five songs out every 4 to six months or 10 to 14 songs every 2 years?

In 2017, whatever is new lasts for minutes. So a new album, will last for a few minutes before we move on. But a great collection of songs more frequently that inspires people to spread the word is a better alternative.

No one cares that Bon Jovi’s new album stiffed. It was just an event to go and sell out stadiums and arenas. It’s a hit game.

Even when albums sold a lot in the 80’s it was still a hit game. “Home Sweet Home” and “Smokin In the Boys Room” sold a poor Motley Crue album. Let’s not forget the follow-up which only had “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side”. Speak to any fan of the band and it’s very rare they would say they purchased “Theatre Of Pain” because of “City Boy Blues”.

Even Five Finger Death Punch who sell albums today need to produce hits to sell the albums.

Even Metallica’s new album is selling on the backs of a few songs, like “Spit Out The Bone”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Now That We’re Dead”, “Atlas Rise” and “Here Comes Revenge”. But Metallica is a niche themselves, in total control of their destiny as they control their own copyrights.

But without a hit, you’re a niche artist, like Dream Theater. The album cycle works for them and their fans. And they still tour. Because they have a legacy, but every artist can build a legacy.

Release more frequently and watch your catalogue build on Spotify. While sales are good, they tell only part of the story. Streams (listens) are important and if they are growing, it means people are taking the time to listen.

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Release Radar

Spot On Spotify

These are the songs that Spotify’s algorithms got spot on. Click the link to listen

Midnight Flyer by The Night Flight Orchestra
My favourite Swedish supergroup of metal heads is back, playing the classic rock music I love. This time around, it’s about a galactic space opera, where the human race is pitted against female space commanders with pearl necklaces. Brilliant

“I’m a stranger to myself
But still I long for the unknown”

Our love of adventure is what drives the world around.

Sinking Ship by Harem Scarem
What a funky groovy foot stomping riff?

How good is Pete Lesperance on guitar?

Along with Harry Hess they have navigated 30 years of Harem Scarem and 14 studio albums, plus their solo work and side projects. As a fan, I’m looking forward to the release of “United”.

When there’s no one out
When there’s nothing left
I’m gonna stand my ground
On a sinking ship

It sums up the career of Harem Scarem. When everyone abandoned hard rock, Harem Scarem, stood their ground. And the sinking ship of the genre is back on the ocean sailing to new horizons.

It’s The Right Time by Mitch Malloy featuring Van Halen
The long lost audition tapes between Van Hager and Van Cherone. As a guitarist, I dig the verses and the way EVH plays it, with palm muted arpeggios and staccato chords. It’s creative and innovative and that improvisation factor makes EVH unique.

In the end, I guess it wasn’t the right time for Malloy to join Van Halen.
“I go on gut feelings, and it was clear to me that something was amiss, so why continue?” It seemed like they were uneasy, and that whole presentation with Dave thing that they did for MTV … I mean everybody kind of knows now … that they were forced to [do that]. But I didn’t know they were going to do that, it was kind of like, ‘What is going on right now?’ It was a very strange time, and it didn’t feel good. [So] I was like, well, if they don’t want me, let me do them a favour and bow out.”
Mitch Malloy on why he didn’t join Van Halen 

Snakes In Paradise by Crazy Lixx
Great melodic rock from Sweden about snakes in paradise that feed you lies. What more do you want?

Never Was A Forever by Honeymoon Suite
It’s a good return to form for an old favourite of mine.

Don’t say you’re sorry
It’s an empty word when you don’t know what it means

It’s a brilliant lyric.

Light Me Up by Doom Unit
It’s got this swampy bluesy feel which I really dig. Plus the vocal melodies are addictive. And they are from Finland. I’ll be honest, there is something in the culture water’s around Northern Europe because there is so much good music coming out of the region.

When I start another day
I’m slowly drowning all the way
Light me up

Straight To The Top by Creye
Creye is another melodic rock band from Sweden with big keys and big 80’s chorus’s.

All the way to the end
This is your life
Don’t give up, don’t give in
Give it all you got
All the way to the end
Just follow your heart
Don’t give up, don’t give in
You’re going straight to the top

Yeah I know it’s clichéd and been used a million times, but it works.

Underneath by Blacktop Mojo
It’s a nice acoustic piece from these Texas boys who started off playing old country covers, and from time to time they would throw in some of their own stuff. With time, their originals got less twang and more distortion.

I trade this cloud for a hurricane
With enough water to wash away

What great lyrics to kick off the song.

Big Sky Country by KXM
There are some good musical movements. It actually sounds pretty similar to Metallica’s “Now That We’re Dead” in the intro, just a touch slower and a lot more groove.

“Shoot before you run”

It’s relevant to what is happening right now, with governments spying on their own citizens and terrorists driving their vehicles into crowds of people.

Undecided

These are the songs that have done enough to have me interested to check out some more. So I suppose it’s close to “Spot On Spotify” than “Misses”.

Broken by Falling In Reverse
I think this band has the potential to go really high and once they realise it, their classic metal masterpiece will come.

Age Of The Raven by The Raven Age
It’s aggressive and in a modern metal style I like. Just the lyrics are not connecting with me right now.

Stand My Ground by Adrenaline Rush
Musically it’s good, melodic rock but the vocals ruin it.

Remain Violent by Warbringer
It’s got that “Fight For Your Right to Party” vibe..

Half As Dead by Demonhunter
I’ve never heard any music from Demonhunter before this song, and with a name called Demonhunter, I expected a certain style. But I was surprised at the quality of the song, and that groovy riff.

Welcome To The Night by Night Demon
Again, I wasn’t sure what style I expected, but the New Wave Of British Of Heavy Metal merged with melodic rock was not the style I expected. At one stage it reminded me of Iron Maiden’s first album.

Warrior by Dead By April
This band kills me. Drop the screamo vocals, because musically the song is brilliant and when the clean tone vocals happen, it’s on.

Eating Lies by Blaze Bayley
Musically the song is brilliant, but man Blaze’s vocals really don’t connect with me.

How Could I Let You Go by Confess
The song is a typical power melodic rock ballad, however I am interested to hear how they rock, because even though the ballad doesn’t move my world, it’s done well.

Only The Dead by Westfield Massacre
It’s got enough there to get me interested.

Misses

Only Broken Heart by Warrant
Not too sure what to make of their Thin Lizzy inspired vibe. I suppose Warrant will forever be remembered as Jani Lane’s Cherry Pie instead of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and April 2013. Hence the reason to retire the Warrant name and start afresh, in the same way, Black Star Riders retired the Thin Lizzy name and started new.

Day and Night by Night Ranger
They have released a few songs from the new forthcoming album. “Truth” and “Comfort Me” are okay, this one is a big miss.

Lonely Nights by Bonfire
These are 50 year old men, singing about “Lonely Nights” and believing they are 20 again. Such a shame, as Bonfire between 1988 and 1994 was essential listening for me.

All I Got Is You by Deep Purple
Sorry guys, as good as the music is, the lyrics just don’t connect.

Shimmering Status by Cellador
Epic speed power metal just doesn’t do it for me. Dragonforce made sure of that.

Trouble by Tesseract
It’s a dance act that uses the same name as the progressive rock band I follow. Lame Spotify, surely you are able to distinguish between dance acts and rock acts.

Song For The Dead by Carach Angren
Don’t know why this would be in my release radar as I don’t listen to artists that could be even similar nor do I even follow this band.

Here’s To The Crazy Ones by John 5
“The Black Grass Plague” was a brilliant instrumental fusing country with metal. This one is a miss.

Hand Of Hell by The Doomsday Kingdom
The riffs are okay.

Click the link to listen

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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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

2015

“Progress is made by improving on what came before”.

Music is no different. If you want a career, if you want to make progress, you need to improve on what came before. The class of 2015 so far is doing just that.

NUMBER 0:
Protest The Hero – Pacific Myth Subscription Series

PTH is one band (of many) that are using different ways of connecting and engaging with their fan base.

I was one of those fans that contributed to their Indiegogo campaign for the “Volition” album, watched em live when they came to Oz, purchased merch and now I am one of those fans that is contributing to the “Pacific Myth” subscription series. The way PTH geared it up is they have two packages for a one of fee of $12 and $25. On both packages, the subscriber would receive a monthly song (for a period of 6 months) to stream, or download. In addition, you will also receive the instrumental version, along with artwork, lyrics, music scores and notes. The $25 package also includes a six part doc series.

As vocalist Rody mentioned in the video launching the series, “think of it as an EP spread over six months”.

“We have done the full-length album and ensuing record cycle four times now. While they all had their benefits, they all dragged on. Most record cycles are at least 2 years. That’s two years of promoting 40-or-so minutes of music. Music that you may have written two years before that! We have never been able to release what we want to release NOW. So that’s exactly what this is. These are songs we love now, songs we are proud of now, and songs which are inherently more candid than our other material. Don’t get us wrong, this is very much the pth you either know and love or know and hate. If you like what we do, we are pretty sure you are going to dig this crap. I guess we’ll let these little lullabies speak for themselves…”

This again is another innovative way for the band to connect directly with the fans. It’s a brave new world out there for monetizing your fan base. You can scream and complain about royalty payments or you can innovate, adapt and connect with your audience like PTH, for it is your audience that sustains you, keeps you employed.

Now, if you like a hard rock song or a metal song that sticks to formula, then you will probably not like Protest The Hero. If you are into progressive and technical music with different moods, that could have melodic vocals and harsh vocals (especially in the earlier days) with intelligent lyrics, then PTH is a band you would like.

“Begging the questions “why?””, why do we work until we die” ….. from “Tidal”
“A drop into the sea whose ripple turns to a tidal wave and sweeps the shores it once forgave” ….. from “Tidal”
“The sun, the moon, the Earth, conversed and agreed, the people of the world must pay for its atrophy” ….. from “Tidal”

Here is the link for “Tidal”.
Here is the link for “Ragged Tooth”.

NUMBER 1:
The Night Flight Orchestra – Skyline Whispers
This is the best album for 2015 by far.

For the ones that don’t know, TNFO is a very classic AOR rock sounding side-project. From “Soilwork”, Björn “Speed” Strid and David Andersson are on vocals and guitar. From “Arch Enemy”, Sharlee D’Angelo is on bass. From Swedish rock group “Von Benzo” comes Richard Larsson on keyboards. From Swedish metal band “Meanstreak and Swedish rock group “Orchid” comes Jonas Källsbäck on drums. Rounding out the band for the second album is Sebastian Forslund from “Kadawatha” on congas, percussion and guitar.

So way back in 2012, TNFO released an incredible album called “Internal Affairs”. It was a throwback to the Classic Rock era of the Seventies and a joy to listen to from start to finish. Fast forward to 2015, and we have the second album, “Skyline Whispers”. Like the debut album, it is a trip down memory lane. However in this case, instead of being a throwback to the sounds of the Seventies, it is a throwback to the sound those Seventies bands did towards the end of the Seventies and into the Eighties.

Check out “Sail On”, “Living for the Night-time”, “I Ain’t Old, I Ain’t Young”, “Spanish Ghosts” and “The Heather Reports” for essential listening.

“I have crossed too many oceans
I was born a rambling man
And I’ve caused a lot of heartaches
But I never gave a damn

Now the road that lies before me
Gives no answers to my prayers
But I still have hopes that surely
Things will add up in the end

Sail on, sail on”

NUMBER 2:
Whitesnake – The Purple Album

To be honest, Whitesnake has had a tough run. When the band and Coverdale got that huge success in the U.S (thanks to MTV) between 1987 and 1989, no one really had a clue about Coverdale’s origin story.

The majority of the 7 million people in the U.S that purchased the 1987 album were clueless that Coverdale had released over 10 albums prior to that and that he was even in Deep Purple. And who would have thought that “Here I Go Again”, “Still Of The Night” and “Is This Love” would take that much mindshare and become a soundtrack to people’s lives.

Which brings me to “The Purple Album”.

I have read a lot of comments on social media that either hate “The Purple Album” or love it. There is no in-between. I’m confused as to why it is causing such a great divide. “The Purple Album” is the perfect bridge to bring Coverdale’s Deep Purple legacy into his Whitesnake legacy.

Who better to do remakes of those great songs than Coverdale himself?

With the help of John Kalodner at Geffen Records, Coverdale proved himself a master at doing remakes. Remember “Crying In The Rain” and “Here I Go Again”.

People also forget that Jimi Hendrix’s biggest songs were remakes of songs already released. Think “Hey Joe” and “All Along The Watchtower”. Hell, Def Leppard did their own remakes of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Rock Of Ages”, due to a record label “licensing vs sales monies to be paid dispute”. Anyway, whatever peoples’ views on remakes/forgeries are, “The Purple Album” is a classic modern sounding album with no filler, that a new generation of fans would gravitate to.

“The Purple Album” project was birthed by tragedy. After the death of Jon Lord, Coverdale reached out to Ritchie Blackmore to discuss a possible get together and to thank Blackmore for giving an unknown an opportunity to be the lead singer in Deep Purple. When that new collaboration didn’t eventuate, the project would go on to become a new Whitesnake project. With the backing of Frontiers Records, who just love to wrap up new sound recordings of songs written in the Seventies and Eighties for another 100 years of copyright, the project was a go.

“People are sayin’ the woman is damned, She makes you burn with a wave of her hand” ….. from “Burn”

“Ride the rainbow, Crack the sky, Stormbringer coming, Time to die” ….. from “Stormbringer”

“Many times I’ve been a traveller, I looked for something new” ….. from “Soldier Of Fortune”

“My mama showed me how to rock in the cradle, but I learned how to roll along,
My papa said “son, gotta git some fun, Cos when your old it ain’t too good on your own” ….. from “Coming Home”

NUMBER 3:
Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
What can I say, it’s the mighty Maiden. Hell, the football Summer Comp team my boys are in is called Iron Maiden. Plus I purchased 5 tickets to their concert next year, so that I can take my whole family to watch them. Enough said.

It’s been five years from the “The Final Frontier” album. During that period, Maiden has hit the road in support of “The Final Frontier” and they hit the road to celebrate a milestone from the past. Add to that, live DVD releases, the writing and recording process of the new album, Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis, and the result is “The Book Of Souls”.

First, the album doesn’t sound like a professional mega band recording. It is raw and with mistakes.

Second, I do wish that on some of the songs some editing was employed. And that is a difficult thing for me to say as a lot of my favourite songs clock in at over 10 minutes. However, the Maiden concerts are known for fans chanting and singing along with the riffs and the chants, and “The Book Of Souls” is full of songs that have those chants.

It’s funny, but Iron Maiden is one of those bands that has a fan base that loves them. That is evident by the ticket sales and merch sales they rack up in each city they hit. They could make a career of revisiting their legacy on each tour, like the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour. But Maiden doesn’t want to be a nostalgic act.

The album is number three on my list because each song has an idea that is like a lightning strike, a moment that makes me tap my foot, nod my head and take notice. And it could have been a perfect 60 minute album, instead of a 93 minute album.

“The red and the black
People don’t want the truth
Look in their eyes and you send them away” ….. from “The Red And The Black”

“If you should sell your soul as cheaply as I did then
The road to ruin is a long road to hide in
We signed our lives away to have an escape
It’s something that will be whatever our fate” ….. from “When The River Runs Deep”

“We must go now, we must take our chance with fate” ….. from “Empire Of The Clouds”

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