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

1982 – Part 3 – The Winds Of Change Are Blowing Softly

Y&T – Black Tiger
1981’s “Earthshaker” started Y&T’s rebirth. “Black Tiger” released in 1982 would enhance and refine their signature sound.

The album was recorded in England and produced by Max Norman. At that time, he had just finished working with Randy Rhoads on two career defining albums. He obviously knew how to work with excellent Californian guitarists.

It was a perfect combination, merging the hunger and melodicism of Y&T with the producer of the moment. Norman has stated that he wanted to do the “Meanstreak” record however, he believed that Y&T were mad with him, so they got Chris Tsangarides instead.

The sad harmony guitars from “Forever” introduce the album via “From The Moon” and then “Open Fire” kicks it off.

The ultimate song for the stage. It has elements of Deep Purple in the rhythm section. It’s very derivative of “Highway Star” from Purple, and Meniketti does a mean Sammy Hagar impersonation. It’s your typical, waiting for the weekend to let your hair down and have a good time song.

“Don’t Wanna Lose You” is up next and musically it’s very melodic. Polar opposites to the AC/DC vibe of “Open Fire”.

The super melodic and groovy “Forever” is up and the whole melodic rock movement is built upon this song. It’s the best cut of the album by far.

“Winds Of Change” could have been the best cut, but man the lyrics don’t do the song justice. Musically, Y&T did ballads / slow rockers the best. I would even put it out there, that the popular power ballad moniker could have originated with Y&T.

Winds of change
Blowing strongly

I know that “Barroom Boogie” and “Black Tiger” are known as essential Y&T songs. For me, other bands did those kind of songs better. Y&T is a favourite and a big influence to me because of how they did the melodic songs.

It was after the “Black Tiger” tour with AC/DC that Ozzy and Sharon approached Meniketti to join his band.

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast

The band had come a long way from that Melody Maker 1979 ad for a second guitarist that said;

“Iron Maiden (Based In East London) want 2nd Guitarist capable of tight fast harmonies, tasty chordwork and the occasional ripping solo. Must have good gear and be a fast learner. Only dedicated, image conscious people need apply. We’re still semi-pro as yet, so no breadheads please”.

So I looked up what breadhead meant and it is a person who is motivated by, or obsessed with, making money. And in essence, that is the truth. Great everlasting music is never created by people who are obsessed with money. Great everlasting music is created by people who have a need to create and a story to tell. The ad is all class by Steve Harris.

And I was struck by the power of Steve Harris, to make things happen. One person, with a vision, excellent execution and a desire to stay the course can achieve success. He got rid of members when they didn’t execute properly or strayed from his vision. After each band member change, he moved on. To bigger and better things.

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” is my favourite Maiden cut. However the best version of the song is the live version on “Live After Death”. It was the first Maiden album I got (on double cassette), and I played it over and over and over again. The speed is also a bit quicker and it works well for the song. Plus who can forget Bruce yelling “Scream for me Long Beach”.

So when it came to purchasing the full “The Number Of The Beast” album, I was very late to the party.

How come no one believes in a riff anymore?

Once upon a time, songs stood on the shoulders of the guitar riff and “The Number of The Beast” is full of those riffs.

“Children Of The Damned” is a damn good song. Structurally it is brilliant.

He’s walking like a small child
But watch his eyes burn you away

“22 Acacia Avenue” is all class for a song about a brothel. The “Number Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills” need no introduction.

Selling them whiskey and taking their gold
Enslaving the young and destroying the old

But the album and all of its everlasting glory belongs to “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.

I’m waiting in my cold cell, when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time
‘Cause at 5 o’clock, they’ll take me to the gallows pole
The sands of time for me are running low

Death row ain’t a good place to be.

As the guards march me out to the courtyard
Somebody cries from a cell “God be with you”
If there’s a God, (then) why has he let me go?

What a powerful line. It brings back memories of James Hetfield’s man at losing his mother in “The God That Failed”.

Frankie Miller – Standing On The Edge

One of the best bluesy singers that no one even knows. This 1982 album is one of those recordings that I picked up in a discount bin for $5 and played over and over and over again. Then I forgot about it, until the internet made me search him up again and I was still blown away by the album.

“Danger Danger” is the reason why this album became a classic for me.

There is a movie called “Thunder Alley”. I watched that movie a lot. You could say I was a fan.

The story of the movie is about a hard rock band that tries to make it in the music business. In between, people need to choose between a normal job and the rock and roll dream. They need to decide if the drugs and party lifestyle is for them. And in the end, what they think they have achieved is nothing because as they climb the ranks of the gatekeepers, each gatekeeper wants to bring in their own favourite musicians into the band. And it was in “Thunder Alley” that I heard the song “Danger Danger”.

I was hooked.

It’s a Frankie Miller composition. The album would also have co-writes with a certain Andy Fraser, who was in a band called Free once upon a time and a long time friend of Frankie. The album is pretty solid and how Capitol Records managed to fuck up the promotion of the album is beyond me.

There is a review of the album at Martin Leedham’s WordPress site. You can find it here.

Stay tuned for 1982 – Part 4.

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A to Z of Making It, Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Revisionist History when it comes to Metallica

Kill Em All, Metallica’s first album is celebrating 30 years this month. It was released in July 25, 1983. At the time of its release it didn’t really set the world on fire, however if you look at the reviews and praises the album is getting now, it is like the album came out and created a movement called thrash metal right off the bat.

Let’s put into context the lifespan of Kill Em All. It came out on July 25, 1983. By February 1984, seven months since Kill Em All was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording the Ride The Lightning album. The victory lap of Kill Em All was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to have a career, they needed to get back into the studio and record a new album.

Of course when the 1991 Black album exploded, new fans started to dig deep and purchase the bands older material. It is for this reason that the bands older catalogue from Kill Em All to Justice started to get RIAA certifications.

Kill Em All finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999. That pales in comparison to the Ride The Lightning and Master of Puppets albums which have moved over 6 million units in the U.S alone by 2012. The ..And Justice for All album has moved over 8 million copies in the U.S and the Metallica black album is pushing close to 17 million units sold in the U.S alone by the close of 2012.

As a Metallica fan, the Kill Em All album is not a bad album. It is a product of its time and its era. However in 1983, heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a force to be reckoned with. So by 1983 standards, Kill Em All was up against some hard competition.

Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Def Leppard had break through albums with Shout At The Devil, You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll and Pyromania.

Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and Dio had new bands and you can call their 1983 releases as comeback albums. Bark At The Moon showcases Jake E.Lee, Lick It Up showcased Vinnie Vincent and Holy Diver showcases Vivian Campbell. In relation to Dio he was continuing his upward trajectory that started with Rainbow, then continued with Black Sabbath and now with his solo band.

ZZ Top hit the mainstream with Eliminator.

Iron Maiden followed up the breakthrough success of their 1982 album, The Number of The Beast with Piece of Mind.

Quiet Riot had a number one album on the back of the Randy Rhoads back story and connection with the band, a cover of Slade’s – Cum on Feel The Noize and a catchy original called Bang Your Head, which was perfect for the time.

Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called Screaming For Vengeance.

Going back to Metallica, the RNR history is written by the winners. Since Metallica is now inducted into the Hall of Fame, everyone that can put fingers to letters on a keyboard is rewriting their back story. Bands like Quiet Riot will be written out. Artists like Vinnie Vincent and Jake E.Lee will be forgotten by the clueless revisionists. The impact of other bands will be diminished because Metallica won.

Is anyone talking about Judas Priest and their impact to the American metal scene? Quiet Riot’s Metal Health was the first American heavy metal debut album to ever reach No. 1 in the United States on the Billboard album charts.

History is written by the winners.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Classic Album Closing Songs

Diary Of A Madman (1981)

Entries of confusion
Dear diary, I’m here to stay

What can I say, it had to be a Randy Rhoads song.  Diary shows the monster that Randy was becoming.  Despite being seen as Ozzy’s band, the star of the band is Randy Rhoads.

Diary Of A Madman is the perfect fusion of progressive metal, technical rock and sinister classical all rolled into one potent song.  As much as Sharon Osbourne tries to re-write Ozzy’s history, she can never re-write the music that was created.  The music comes from the guitar, bass and the keys, all instruments her beloved Ozzy doesn’t play.

Australian Bob Daisley as the lyricist and bassist is the unsung hero in Ozzy’s second coming.  He doesn’t even get credited as playing on the album, thanks to a spiteful Sharon Osbourne.  He was recruited from the Dio fronted Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.  How ironic, that Dio would leave Rainbow to sing for Black Sabbath, and Daisley would leave Rainbow to join the singer that Black Sabbath fired.

Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

Mark my words believe my soul lives on
Don’t worry now that I have gone
I’ve gone beyond to seek the truth

When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you’ll begin to understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion

It’s a Steve Harris composition, however the voice of Bruce Dickinson is the savior. It gave Iron Maiden the fire to break away from the New Wave of British Metal image and forge a new direction.  It made them relevant.

Iron Maiden became a household name on the back of The Number of The Beast along with it’s anthem Run To The Hills.

However the real star on this album is the closer, Hallowed Be Thy Name.  The definitive version is the live version featured on Live After Death (1985).  The tempo is increased slightly and Nicko McBrain (who replaced Clive Burr) on the drums, gives the song the fury it needs.  The song is about the last moments of a prisoner before the execution.

Who We Are (2011)

We are the young
And young at heart
The strong and the brave that are destined to start
We are the change
The world needs to see
Look in our eyes and see our belief

This is who we are
This is what I am
We have nowhere else to go
Divided we will stand

The mighty Machine Fucken Head.  It’s a Robb Flynn composition.  He should have changed the Divided We Will Stand to UNITED WE WILL STAND.  It would have fit the lyrical message of the song to a tee.  The only time we metal heads stand united as a metal show.  Apart from that, we are in a elite class of the genres we like.  I like Black Veil Brides.  Try telling that to my elite Slipknot and Mudvayne friends.  Do you get what I mean.

S.M.F (1984)

Black sheep of the family, nothing like the rest
Separate from the others, failing all their tests
Can’t they see you’re different, so hungry and so lean
You’re a walking wonder, you’re a metal machine
Look and you’ll see you’re a lot like me

You’re an S.M.F.

Any closing song that abbreviates the term Sick Mutha Fucker has my attention.  Twisted Sister was one band, that knew how to write songs for the live show.  Put that down to their 9 years of playing the club scenes before they even got a shitty independent deal.  Dee Snider was a master.

Of course the Stay Hungry album was known for the smash hits, We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock.  However the real star of the album is the ode to all of those Twisted SMF’s who supported the band.

The lyrical theme follows the same theme as We’re Not Gonna Take It and I Wanna Rock. It’s about metal fans versus the system and the family dynamic. This time the band is telling me, it’s okay to be different, it’s okay that I don’t fit a mold made for me.  There are others out there, that are experiencing the same and let our love of music, find us a home.

Shogun (2008)

Time has come to face all evil

It’s an epic.  The musicianship is excellent.  Trivium to me are part of the current Big 5 of metal bands, along with Machine Head (actually Machine Head to me are part of the Nineties Big 4 as well as the 2000’s Big 5), Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch.

That time to face all evil came to me in 2010, however I should have faced it in 2008.  Avoiding it, only made it worse.

If you succeed in this battle
You still will lose so much more

Ain’t that the truth.  Winning a battle (albeit a court case, a street fight or a real battle) is one thing, dealing with the aftermath is another thing.

Aerials (2001)

Life is a waterfall
we’re one in the river
and one again after the fall…

life is a waterfall
we drink from the river
then we turn around and put up our walls

System Of A Down nailed it on Aerials.  They really captured their European Armenian minor key arrangements and fused it with modern metal. The music is written by guitarist and backing vocalist, Daron Malakian and the lyrics are shared between Serj Tankian and Malakian.  I got into SOAD because of the unique vocal style of Serj.  In bands, it doesn’t matter how great the music is, if the singer cannot connect with the listeners and deliver, then it’s time to find someone who can.

How true is the statement?  We flow into each day, into each routine without any effor and we could flow like that for days.  Then one day, it all changes and we are going down the waterfall.  It’s quick, it’s crazy and when we come out of it, we will flow again like we did, but we will be different.

 

The Count Of Tuscany (2009)

Could this be the end?
Is this the way I die?
Sitting here alone
No one by my side

I don’t understand
I don’t feel that I deserve this
What did I do wrong?
I just don’t understand

Dream Theater deserves a mention for this beauty.  The lyrics by Petrucci could have been better, however the last section makes up for it.  Furthermore, there is no denying the impact of the music.  I also have my own edited version, where I cut out that atmospheric 4 minute keyboard and guitar interlude.

The stars of the band have always been the guitarist and the keyboardist for me.  John Petrucci and Kevin Moore was Mark 1.  John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess is Mark 3.

The great fear in humans. Death.  There isn’t a subject on it.  Hell, there even isn’t a subject about getting old.  I know that the lyric lines quoted above are about how John Petrucci as a child, got lost on a family holiday in Italy and he was fearing for his life, in an Italian cellar with a strange-looking Christopher Lee.  The beauty of lyrics done right, means that they can also be taken in a different way.

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