Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Tom Werman

I have read a few rock bio’s and man, these rock stars go to town on the producers that were involved with their hit albums. Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater goes to town on Dave Prater who produced “Images and Words” which to this day, is Dream Theater’s most successful album. Dee Snider and Nikki Sixx go to town on Tom Werman, who for Twisted Sister was involved in “Stay Hungry” and for Motley Crue, he was involved in “Shout At The Devil”, “Theatre Of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”.

Let’s look at Tom Werman. The facts are out there. Most of the bands that he produced, achieved great commercial success. The majority of these successes happened during the heyday of hard rock music on MTV and when the recording industry abandoned hard rock acts to chase alternative grunge acts, Werman was part of the collateral damage.

Which is a shame as Werman is a rarity.

He forged a successful career as a heavy metal and hard rock producer because he was able to identify and feature the pop elements in the music of the bands that he was producing. Coming from an A&R background his whole set up was to get the band onto radio. He knew the game. If a band he worked with could get a hit single, it would translate into sales of millions of albums.

He also was a producer that didn’t really have an engineering background like Ron Nevison, Andy Johns, Jack Douglas, Bob Rock and so forth which freed him up to focus on other tasks like refining the songs and getting the artists to decorate the songs accordingly. To be a Producer is a tough gig. You are there to realise the bands musical vision. The producer is basically a hired independent consultant, paid by the band through a label advance and the band is perfectly free to replace the producer at any time, which is why the stories against Werman lack authenticity.

Werman is probably best known these days for producing Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” (4x Platinum by 1997), “Theatre of Pain” (4x Platinum by 1995) and the “Girls, Girls, Girls” (4x Platinum by 1995) albums. Werman has gone on record to claim that Nikki Sixx was a friend until he revised history and created a work of total fiction in the “Heroin Diaries” book. John Corabi even questioned the authenticity of “The Heroin Diaries” along with Dee Snider.

However, Werman worked on other projects as well.

“Tooth N Nail” was released on 1984 and the album reached PLATINUM status in the U.S in 1989, after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album along with MTV, got people interested in Dokken’s back catalogue. Tom Werman produced the “make or break” album and according to Don Dokken, Werman, almost came to blows with George Lynch during the recording. It got that bad, that at one stage, Lynch said to Werman that he will kill him. The issue arose when Werman asked Lynch to play a more substantive lead break for a particular song, which Lynch objected to.

Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” came out in 1984. In that same year the album went GOLD and then PLATINUM. Twisted Sister was everywhere, largely thanks to their clips doing the constant rotation on MTV. Dee Snider was a star who was also everywhere. Finally after paying his dues for 10 years, he was in the mainstream. By March, 1985, the album achieved 2 x PLATINUM status March 19, 1985. Then 10 years later, in November, 1995, the album achieved 3 x PLATINUM status.

Werman has stated in interviews that he feels that Dee Snider was unable to share credit for a hugely successful LP hence that is the reason why Snider has spoken negatively about Werman.

Snider has a different view. In his book “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic”, Snider goes into detail about his relationship with Werman.

First, Werman wasn’t their choice at all for producer. He was pushed onto them by Atlantic Records.

Second, in a meeting, Werman was asked a question by Snider that if Werman was to put his A&R hat on, would he had signed Twisted Sister. Werman answered NO.

Then there are further stories on the recording process and how Dee Snider had a routine to write songs for the next album, while the current album was getting mixed and finalised. However this didn’t pan out because Mark Mendoza who normally handled all of the production and sound duties refused to get involved due to friction with Werman which then left Snider to deal with it, which in turn meant, no new songs got written.

A point to note about Werman is that while he was at Epic Records his specific job was to get the bands on the radio. In order to get bands onto the radio, they needed to have singles. That is why Doug Morris (while he was president of Atlantic Records) called Werman to make a hit with Twisted Sister. That is why Doug Morris refused to hear Snider’s pleas to remove him. A general rule of thumb for Werman was to ensure that each record had at least two “singles” as he knew that hit singles would sell several million albums.

Kix released their self-titled debut album in 1981 and it wasn’t until their fourth studio album “Blow My Fuse” released on September 12, 1988 that they broke through.

By November 2, 1988, seven weeks later, the album was certified GOLD by the RIAA. In May 1989, the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was released and by February 5, 1990, eight months later, the single was certified GOLD by the RIAA. Finally, on August 28, 2000, the “Blow My Fuse” album was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. Yep, that is almost 12 years from when it was released. Don Purnell of Kix (who was the main songwriter) distrusted Werman, however as others have mentioned, that was who Purnell generally was.

For Kix the success of “Blow My Fuse” came from a change to Tom Werman, a change to a better and aggressive manager in Mark Puma who got Atlantic to get behind the record and promote it, a natural progressing in the songwriting department and perfect timing.

Poison’s “Open Up and Say Ahh..” was supposed to be produced by Paul Stanley however due to schedule conflicts, Stanley was unavailable and Tom Werman was in. Keeping with Werman’s credo ensuring that each album he works on will have at least two hit singles, “Open Up And Say Ahh…” had three. “Nothin’ but a Good Time” is still a party anthem decades after its release, “Fallen Angel” is the clichéd moving to the big city to chase your dreams and the timeless classic “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”.

The album sold over 5 million copies in the U.S and Werman has stated that it was not an easy record to make. According to Werman in an interview with the Legendary Rock website, “Bobby was the brains behind Poison, while Brett was the single most important individual in the band. CC did give the band its personality and its sound, but was so distracted by the recreational side of rock that he didn’t realize his potential. He was a lovable guy, but suggesting musical directions and recording his leads were formidable tasks.

Other albums that Werman worked on during the eighties are LA Guns “Cocked and Loaded” (their most successful), Junkyard’s self-titled debut (a cult classic), Love/Hate “Blackout In The Red Room” (should have been more successful), Babylon A.D “Nothing Sacred” (a very underrated album that deserved more attention), Steelheart “Tangled In Reins” (a solid follow-up that did well just before the Grunge movement), Lita Ford “Dangerous Curves” (she was on a downward career trajectory) and Stryper “Against The Law” (their least successful in sales however the album is chock full of fan favourites and live staples).

In the end his hit ratio was on average 1 out 3. Which means that one album out of three reached at least a GOLD status in the U.S. That is a respectable stat and if there is a history of Glam / Hard Rock, Tom Werman will and should be part of it.

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

Junkyard

You could say wrong time, wrong place hurt Junkyard. Being from Australia, I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.

Guitarist Chris Gates came up with the name Junkyard. One name that was floated around was ‘Crack’ however they decided against that when the actual drug named crack became mainstream news.

They came from a hardcore punk scene into a scene that was splintering into a few different genres/groups.

One group was the bands that wanted to be like Motley Crue and Poison.

The other group was bands that wanted to be like Bon Jovi and Journey.

Then you had another group that didn’t mind if they merged and criss crossed between genres. Underrated bands like “Junkyard”, “Raging Slab”, “Dangerous Toys” and “Circus Of Power”.

This time the genre mash-up revolves around the following ingredients;

Bad Company/Free Classic Rock – CHECK

AC/DC Hard Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock Attitude – CHECK

Aerosmith Hard Rock – CHECK

ZZ Top Blues Boogie Rock – CHECK

Southern/Country Rock – CHECK

Guns N Roses Current Flavour Influence – CHECK

A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.

One other point to note is that the media always emphasised the fact that Junkyard got signed nine months after forming. However, the origins of the band and the respective musicians go back even further.

All of the band members were paying their dues way before Junkyard started. Guitarists Chris Gates and Brian Baker have been at it since 1980 beginning with punk bands “Minor Threat” and “The Big Boys”. Bass player Todd Muscat and drummer Patrick Mazingo had been at it since 1983 with the band “Decry”.

So they get together and form a new band in 1987. Labels started to become interested. Virgin came knocking first based on an 8 track demo the band did. However during a gig with Jane’s Addiction and Green River, they got approached by Geffen. The A&R rep at that time also knew about the members previous punk bands and a deal was made.

The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.

While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.

“Blooze”

It is the album opener and it kicks it off in style.

“Simple Man”

“Throwing pennies into the wishing well”

Chris Gates wrote it before the band even got together. I love that lyric line. So simple but effective.

“Shot In The Dark”

Not the Ozzy version. This one is more raucous and sleazy. I think the term they used in the Eighties was “Snotty”.

“Hollywood”

Looks like Zakk Wylde was listening to Junkyard as the intro and feel of the song could have inspired Ozzy’s “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”. Chris Gates tells that story that the idea for the riff came from a “Cheech & Chong” movie however after the song was finished he went back to see if he could find the scene where Tommy Chong played the riff and he couldn’t find it.

Credit insane French Canadian video director Jean Pellerin for the cool “Hollywood” clip that MTV picked up and put into rotation.

“Life Sentence”

Musically it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”.

“Texas”

“More uptempo driven re-write of “La Grange” from ZZ Top.

“Hands Off”

It continues with the Southern Rock/Gospel Rock style feel. But the lyrics. Man they take the cake for some of the most funniest shit ever committed to music.

The darker “Sixes, Sevens & Nines” came next and by 1992 the band was dropped from Geffen. That is how quickly fortunes changed in the era of record label control. The band knew what was up. The writing was on the wall. All of their contemporaries were getting dropped.

This is what drummer Patrick Muzingo said in an interview with SleazeRoxx.

“We decided it’s about time for us to face reality and get real jobs. Sure, we were bummed and still wanted to be a band but we also were extremely responsible adults and, from the get go, knew we weren’t gonna become millionaires doing this. We all got REAL jobs and went our separate ways. Some of us continued on with new bands for a few years, others got careers. There was no drama when we spilt up. No BS.”

If you are a musician and have dreams of making millions, then I will give you a second to digest the above comments because that is reality. Even the musicians today that complain that the past was better are misleading people. Junkyard had a major label contract and when it all ended they had to go get real jobs.

They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.

The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.

Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.

Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.

But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

While The Music Has Achieved Worldwide Acclaim (the people behind the scenes have not)

I went to “The Powerhouse Museum” in Sydney today with the family. It was the “Game Masters” exhibition that sealed the deal. Video games are one of those peculiar cultural items where the games are well-known, however the actual designers are only known to the geeks.

This is what the “Game Masters” exhibition is trying to highlight; the key designers who have had a large influence on video games and video game culture.

I loved the exhibition (my only gripe is that you are not allowed to take photos inside the exhibition as I wanted to snapshot my boys playing Outrun). The retro arcade games made me relive some of my youth. Seeing “Outrun”, “Galaga”, “Space Invaders”, “Pac-Man”, “Donkey Kong” and “Elevator Action” in all of their glory, ready to be played, reminded me of visiting the local bowling alley with a pocket full of change.

Even my kids enjoyed themselves. This is when game play was simple. Insert a coin, move the joystick and press the only button you have to kill the baddies. How simple. I remember a comment from the Steve Jobs bio, that his motto about Apple products had to have the same ease of use as a Star Trek game that Steve Jobs played as a kid. The instructions where, insert coin and kill Klingons.

As the exhibition states, “While the games have achieved worldwide acclaim, their makers have yet to become household names.”

Does anyone know the names of Tomohiro Nishikado (“Space Invaders”) or Toru Iwatani (“Pac-Man”) or Yu Suzuki (“Outrun”)? I didn’t, however I knew the games. I spoke about the games to my kids.

And it got me thinking about some names behind some of the great music that I love.

Tom Werman is one person that comes to mind immediately. Regardless of the different versions of history out there from some of the artists that he worked with, one thing is clear; Tom Werman was a pop producer who got selected by the A&R people of the labels as the man to get hard rock acts on the radio.

This is what Werman had to say about it;

In those days, AM radio sold records and FM didn’t. FM played only album tracks, and AM played only singles. So I made singles with bands who were only being played on FM radio. This is why Doug Morris called me when he was the president of Atlantic Records and said I was the only producer he knew who could make a hit with Twisted Sister, who up to that point was a little known band in America. So I made sure there were two singles on the record, and they sold several million albums as a result. Same with Ted Nugent. Same with Cheap Trick. Same with Molly Hatchet. Same with Mötley Crüe. Same with Poison.

The first album I came across with a Tom Werman production was Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil”. Werman said that it was a hard record to make because Nikki Sixx had broken his shoulder when he drove his car off the road and that in turn affected his bass playing. However he credits Tommy Lee as the second-greatest drummer he’s ever worked with and Mick Mars as a guitarist who doesn’t get the recognition he should. History has shown that this album was a career defining album for the Crue in the same way that Master Of Puppets was a career defining album for Metallica. What a coincedence that both bands would go on to make their biggest albums with Bob Rock producing.

The second album I came across was Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” album. Tom Werman said that Dee Snider was a solid writer and that his songs were almost like nursery rhymes as Dee wanted everybody to understand his melodies. And didn’t we enjoy them, sending the band to the top.

The third album was Dokken’s “Tooth N Nail” and then it was a torrent.

Motley Crue’s “Theatre of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” followed. Krokus “Change of Address”, Poison “Open Up And Say Ahhh”, Kix “Blow My Fuse”, Junkyard’s self titled album, LA Guns “Cocked and Loaded”, Love/Hate “Black Out In The Red Room”, Stryper “Against The Law” and Babylon A.D. “Nothing Sacred” and Steelheart’s “Tangled In Reins”.

Michael Wagener is another that comes to mind. He was a producer, an engineer and a mixer.

He produced’s Dokken’s “Breaking The Chains” and then mixed the follow up “Tooth N Nail”, the same album that Tom Werman produced. He was on deck again to produce and mix “Under Lock and Key”. He then produced and mixed Stryper’s “Soldiers Under Command” and was on deck to also mix Poison’s “Look What The Cat Dragged In”. He then mixed Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”

Other production credits include Alice Cooper’s “Constrictor” and “Raise Your Fist N Yell”. White Lion’s “Pride” and “Big Game”. Skid Rows self titled debut and “Slave To The Grind”. Bonfire’s “Point Blank” and “Fireworks” albums. Extreme’s “Pornograffiti”. Ozzy Osbourne’s “Ozzmosis” and Warrant’s “Dog Eat Dog” followed.

He mixed WASP’s “Inside The Electric Circus”, Warlock’s “True As Steel”, Megadeth “So Far, So Good, So What”, Motley Crue’s “Decade of Decadence” and Ozzy Osbourne “No More Tears”.

What about Randy Staub? He engineered “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue, the black album from Metallica, “Keep The Faith” from Bon Jovi, Motley Crue’s self titled album, “Subhuman Race” from Skid Row, “Load” and “Reload” from Metallica, “Satellite” from POD and many others like Five Finger Death Punch’s “War Is The Answer.”

Mike Fraser is another whose name is in the majority of albums that I like as mixer. The two John Sykes/Blue Murder albums, “Blue Murder” and “Nothin But Trouble”. Most of AC/DC’s stuff, especially all of the remixes for digital transfer, Metallica, The Cult and many more.

Looking at the above list, I guarantee that you have at least 80% of the albums that the names mentioned have worked on in your collection. Of course there was Max Norman, Roy Thomas Baker, Jack Douglas, Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock, Duane Baron/John Purdell, Dave Prater and many more that shaped the albums that we have come to known to love. The music has achieved worldwide acclaim, the bands and the song writers have achieved worldwide acclaim however a lot of the people behind the scenes that captured the sounds, mixed them, edited them, spoke out about arrangements and so forth, have not.

What they have done is work on a consistent basis? That is what artists need to do today. Release on a consistent basis. It’s back to the single format. The great song.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

So What Is It With Bands And Producers Not Liking Each Other After An Album Explodes?

What is it with artist’s dishing out hate on a producer that was involved in producing their greatest triumph?

A good producer is meant to be tough and opinionated. They are meant to challenge the artist, so that the artist delivers the goods. Look at what Bob Rock did to Kirk Hammet in Metallica, especially around “The Unforgiven” solo piece. If you look at Kirk’s legacy that will be the solo that he will be remembered by. I remember in the “Classic Albums” documentary of the “Black” album, as well as in the video, “A Year and A Half With Metallica”, Bob Rock said something similar like, “it is a great song and it needs a great lead. What Kirk is playing at the moment is not great. He has to live and breathe this solo.”

Bob Rock got the guys to slow down the tempo on “Sad But True” and detune everything down a whole step. He told Lars Ulrich to take drum lessons before he started to record his parts. Which producer does that? Lars Ulrich is coming off 4 definitive thrash albums and there is Bob Rock telling him to take drum lessons. He questioned James on his lyrics and his melodies, something that hasn’t been done before. He recommended vocal lessons as well to the formidable front man.

Lars even said that once the Black album was finished, he couldn’t talk or see Bob Rock for over 12 months. Bob Rock has even gone on record saying that it was a tough album to make. The end result is every bands dream coming true. The biggest selling album of the SOUNDSCAN era with a total of 16 million sales as at December 2012. The Black album still to this day moves 2,000 units per week in the U.S. A a lot of websites pointed out that it outsold, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider”.

As much as Nikki Sixx dishes on Tom Werman, the facts are out there. With Tom Werman, Motley Crue had three multi-platinum albums in “Shout At The Devil”, “Theatre of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Each album has sold 4 million copies plus in the U.S. That is a total of 12 million plus sales in the U.S market. Furthermore, the bulk of the “Decade Of Decadence” album is made up of songs from these albums, and that album also sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. In addition, the “Music To Crash Your Car” box sets also had the three albums produced by Tom Werman on them.

If all the stories about the drug use from the Motley Crue members are to be believed, then Tom Werman deserves special recognition for getting anything musical onto tape.

Dee Snider also doesn’t have many kind words for Tom Werman. If anyone has read Dee’s bio, “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic,” you can connect the dots and come to a conclusion that Dee is also blaming Tom Werman for the failure of Twisted Sister’s next album even though Tom Werman never worked on it. The routine used to be that Dee Snider would be working on songs for the next album, while the current album is being mixed.

According to Dee, in his bio “Shut Up and Give Me The Mic” due to Werman being difficult to work with and Mark Mendoza doing his best to sabotage everything that Dee was working on, he couldn’t take the time out from the studio to work on songs for the next album. So when it came time to write the songs for Come Out And Play after the hugely successful “Stay Hungry” tour, Dee’s mindset was in a different place. He had money, he had fame, he had success and he didn’t have the same hunger, anger and motivation that he had during the Stay Hungry recording. If he wrote the songs during the “Stay Hungry” sessions, the output could have been very different. Super producer, Bob Ezrin even passed on working on “Come Out And Play”, because he didn’t hear any great songs.

However, the facts are there. The Tom Werman produced “Stay Hungry”, sold over 3 million copies in the U.S alone. The singles, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” also sold by the truck load and they sounded great on radio, due to special radio mixes that Tom Werman did for them. It’s funny that the song “The Price”, didn’t get the same radio mix and it tanked as a single, even though it is the strongest of all three songs.

In relation to Nikki Sixx and Dee Snider, Werman said the following on Popdose.com;

“There were two individual musicians who had a problem with me in the studio out of about 200 musicians I produced. Nikki Sixx was a friend until he revised history in his book. Dee Snider was a friend, until the Twisted Sister album became a hit, and he couldn’t deal with sharing the credit for its success. Both of these guys were literally back-slapping glad-handers; years later, they soured badly. I had fine relationships with all the other members of those two bands.”

Kix was another band that was critical of Tom Werman. Bassist and band leader, Donnie Purnell hated and distrusted Werman.

George Lynch from Dokken also had a problem with Tom Werman, when Werman requested that he play a better lead break on a particular song. If you believe Don Dokken, George Lynch has an uncontrollable ego. If you believe George Lynch, Don Dokken has an uncontrollable ego. Regardless who you believe, when Lynch was asked to play a better lead break, he had a dummy spit.

And now here are the facts for Dokken’s “Tooth N Nail” and Kix’s “Blow My Fuse”. Both albums on release went to GOLD status within a year. “Tooth N Nai”l was released in 1984 and ended up reaching PLATINUM status in the U.S in 1989 (yep that’s right, four years after its release), after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album, got people interested in Dokken’s back catalogue. “Back For The Attack” reached PLATINUM status within 2 months of its release date.

“Blow My Fuse” was released on September 12, 1988. By November 2, 1988, seven weeks later, the album was certified GOLD by the RIAA. In May 1989, the single “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was released. By February 5, 1990, eight months later, the single was certified GOLD by the RIAA. Finally, on August 28, 2000, the “Blow My Fuse” album was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA. Yep, that is almost 12 years from when it was released. This is what the artist of today need to take into account. Great music will live on and it will keep on selling for a long time.

However, so many artists and record label executives want the platinum sales with the first release. Dokken’s back catalogue sold well after the mega successful “Back For The Attack” album (their 4th album). Metallica’s back catalogue sold even more, after the mega successful “Black” album (their 5th album). Motley Crue’s back catalogue sold well again after the mega successful “Dr Feelgood” album (their 5th album). However in today’s mindset of profits before creativity, most bands will not get to the fourth or fifth album. Most bands will not have a comeback like Aerosmith or Alice Cooper did in the Eighties. I digress.

Dream Theater, especially Mike Portnoy blasted Dave Prater on the “Images and Words” sessions, however with Prater at the helm, Dream Theater had their biggest album to date. Read the book “Lifting Shadows”. The interviews with Prater are brilliant. The rebuttals of the band members are in some cases subdued but fiery at the same time. Somewhere in between all of the stories is the truth.

Of course, Dream Theater with Dave Prater at the helm have had their most success in relation to album sales. “Images And Words” is the album that Dream Theater is still doing victory laps with in 2013.

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Alternate Reality, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Is Nikki Sixx A Revisionist?

When I was studying a subject called Science and Technology at Uni, one of the topics dealt with a term called “Whig history.” For the uninitiated, this term in pop culture means, looking back at the past, with the mindset and views that you have now, and rewriting the history to suit your view points at this point in time. Of course the meaning of Whig history is more detailed, however unpacking the full history behind it, in this blog, is for another day.

Anyway here is an example of a Whig history (especially made up by me for this blog post);
“Motley Crue changed the way bands would record music videos with the release of Smokin In the Boys Room in 1985. Their fearless leader, Nikki Sixx turned the clichéd video clip into a mini movie format. The rest of the music world needed to follow suit or they would be left behind. Video clips by Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Michael Jackson would all follow the new mini movie format made popular by Nikki Sixx.”

The above is factually incorrect. In addition, the time line of events are incorrect. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” came first, in December 1983. Then in April 1984, Twisted Sister unleashed “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and not soon after “I Wanna Rock.” Also in the same year came “Hot For Teacher” from Van Halen. “Smokin In The Boys Room” didn’t come until 1985.

The above example is to illustrate a revisionist view on history, that takes the view point of a “super hero” and how that super hero changed the course of the music industry.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Motley Crue. Growing up in the Eighties, Motley Crue and the attitude they exhibited was something that I could relate too. I have read “The Heroin Diaries”, “This Is Gonna Hurt” and “The Dirt”. I have also read “Tommyland” and “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen.”

Since Motley Crue was the top band in the Eighties for me, I devoured as much information as I could on the band. This included taping interviews from all the various music shows, buying the expensive U.S magazines and trading with other hard rock fans in my local area. For example, I would give them a Poison poster and they would give me stuff on Motley Crue that I didn’t have.

So after reading the books above, especially the solo books, I was confused with some of the information that was put out there. Vince Neil’s is the worst one and his book was a very painful one to read. For the casual fan they wouldn’t notice these changes to the mythology of Motley Crue, however for the hard core, some things just didn’t sit right.

Doing the rounds at the moment are comments by Sebastian Bach. To recap, Bach claims that he was asked to join Motley Crue, before they fired Vince Neil. Nikki Sixx said that was not true. Bach took offence to that, you know that whole “don’t call me a liar” argument. In his rebuttal, Bach makes a reference to Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries” book as being inaccurate and he also mentions that a jam session took placed between Nikki, Tommy, Mick and Sebastian. Nikki Sixx has yet to respond to this. This isn’t the first time that Nikki Sixx’s version of events has been questioned.

John Corabi, the vocalist that ended up replacing Vince Neil has also disputed certain sections of “The Dirt.” In addition, Phil Lewis from L.A Guns has called “The Heroin Diaries” a fraud. The most famous of all rebuttals is Tom Werman’s which calls Nikki Sixx a “revisionist.” Even Dee Snider, in his opening forewarning of “Shut Up And Give Me The Mic” alludes to a book written by a junkie as not being factually correct.

So how much of the truth did Nikki Sixx tweak and re-envision for the sake of a story line?

At least the soundtrack to “The Heroin Diaries” was mind blowing.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Dee Snider – Stay Hungry – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll preceded Stay Hungry, and it was this album that started to give the Twisted Sister machine some momentum. It was the You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll video clip that set the wheels in motion. It was the prequel of what was to come. The calm before the storm.

So Stay Hungry comes out and it’s huge. This is the period were the image of bands started to become bigger than the music. MTV was rising as a force to be reckoned with and Twisted Sister had the songs and the video clips/mini movies for this new market. Tom Werman was on deck to produce. He is also credited as a writer and arranger, however this has been disputed by Dee Snider. Tom Werman has even said in interviews that Dee could never deal with any credit given to anyone but him.

The band has also mentioned in interviews that they never liked the sound on Stay Hungry, however a stipulation from Tom Werman is that he always wants a member of the band in the control room during the mix, and an approval of the final mix by the band before the album was turned in to the label.

We’re Not Gonna Take It became the anthem for the teenagers of 1984. The clip featured actor Mark Metcalf, from the movie Animal House. If anyone has watched Animal House Metcalf plays the sadistic and military orientated Doug Neidermeyer. Both of the video clips (I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna take It) have dialogue that references dialogue from the Animal House movie. The “Twisted Sister pin, on your uniform” and “you are all worthless and weak” appear in the movie and the Twisted Sister video clips. In Animal House, the Twisted Sister reference is for something else. A connection is made immediately with me.

We’ll fight the powers that be just
Don’t pick our destiny cause
You don’t know us, you don’t belong

Rising up against authority. Rising up against the unwritten creed of Live, Work, Die. Rising up against the life that our parents, our teachers, our employers want from us. While other bands sang songs about reaching for the sky and all your dreams would come true, Twisted Sister brought it all back to reality. This is the street reality. The line is drawn, and we are saying, we are not going to take it anymore. Screw, reaching for the sky. All of that is fantasy rubbish. This is real. Making a stand right now.

I Wanna Rock is anthem number two for the disenchanted youth of the Eighties.

Turn the power up
I’ve waited for so long so I could hear my favourite song so, lets go!
GO! GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!

That is all we wanted to do. Turn it up, kick back, have a drink or two or three, have a smoke and enjoy.

I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It and Smokin In the Boys Room from Motley Crue, were in constant rotation on the music TV channels in Australia circa 1985. All three clips had the same theme and story to tell. All three clips are brilliant. All are produced by Tom Werman.

The Price

How long I have wanted
For this dream to come true

The Price is seen as the first Dee Snider solo piece. There are many songs about life on the road, and this is just another to add to that list. This is Dee’s take on touring Europe. It was written four months into that tour and by then Dee was getting homesick. He even wanted to re-record The Price with Widowmaker as he never believed that the song reached its full potential.

OH, it’s the price we gotta pay
And all the games we gotta play
Makes me wonder if it’s worth it to carry on

This is the part that no one tells you about. Life on the road, away from loved ones. This is the part where loneliness leads to addictions for many. This is the part where we question if it’s worth it to carry on. The people around you (like your band mates) are starting to get on your nerves. Are you prepared to pay the price?

S.M.F.

The best song on Stay Hungry by far. This song spoke to me. It connected on so many levels. Even in the metal and rock community, divisions existed. If someone liked Metallica, they hated people that liked Motley Crue, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Ozzy, Twisted Sister and so on. If someone like Slayer, they hated Metallica lovers. I liked all things metal and rock, however depending with which crowd I was hanging with, I could have been seen as a black sheep.

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.

In the end I am a music lover. I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t believe that to like Black Metal you need to worship Satan. I don’t believe that to like blues music, you need to have done it tough. I don’t believe that to like metalcore, you need to have a thousand tattoos and weird piercings. I don’t believe that to like glam rock, I need to wear lipstick and tease my hair. To me music is greater than the image.

And If They Think That We’re Sick
Then Sick Is What We’ll Be
Scream It Loud
Know What You Are Be Proud

A fitting end to it all. Be proud.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Dee Snider – Come Out And Play – What Fo You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

I really like Come Out And Play. I remember lying in bed, staring at the album back art, reading the lyrics and singing the songs as they played on the turntable. I remember the day I purchased the album, going into my parents room, finding my mums purse and taking $20 out to buy the album. The actual album was $10, so I knew that I was going to come back with two albums. Going through the hard rock/metal section, I decided on Twisted Sister, Come Out and Play and Motley Crue, Theatre Of Pain. When I came home, mum was far from impressed to find $20 missing. My dad, who I feared more, understood me. He was a musician as well.

Coming into the Come Out And Play period, Twisted Sister was coming off the Stay Hungry juggernaut.

The first big change was the producer. Gone was Tom Werman and in came Dieter Dierks. Tom Werman was the go to producer back then. He was achieving multi-platinum sales with the majority of his releases between 1983 and 1989. In addition, Werman also contributed unofficially to the songs arrangements and melodies. So in comes Dieter Dierks from Scorpions fame.

Come Out And Play was released in 1985. By now Twisted Sister was on an album per year cycle, with Ruff Cutts and the first independent release of Under The Blade coming out in 1981, then the major label release of Under The Blade in 1982, then You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll in 1983 and Stay Hungry in 1984. You can tell the band was starting to burn out. To lead off with Leader Of The Pack as the first single, was an act of desperation. It was seen as the band recycling the past. It failed.

Come Out And Play kicks off with bottles clashing together. It is an ode to one of my favourite movies, The Warriors. Instead of the chant, “Warriors, Come Out And Play”, we get “Twisted Sister, Come Out and Play”. Brilliant. The connection is made for me.

Join our cavalcade
Enter the world you made

The cavalcade is the SMF army of Twisted Sister. This is the Twisted Sister world, that we the fans made.

A place where fallacy
Becomes reality
We’ll spin you head around
We’re programmed to astound, stand by
Prepare to fly

Oh, welcome to our show
Oh, welcome to our life

Much in the same vein as other Twisted Sister anthems, this is all about the rock n roll show. The concert experience. The place where fallacy becomes reality. The place where the band does what we want them to do and that is to play, to put on a show. You can say that Dee already wrote this song, in What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You), however he did it better this time around and in my view even better with Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant). AJ Pero is the unsung hero in this song. The pedestrian riffs are balanced by the frenetic drumming and it works.

I Believe In Rock ‘N’ Roll

What a great tongue and cheek song. Dee merges the marriage oath (Do you take this music, to be your lawfully wedded rock, to have and hold in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, together until death comes to yourself?) with allegiance (I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the united states of rock, and to the point of view for which it stands, one music under one god, yes, even god loves rock ‘n’ roll, with liberty and justice for all lands) to come up with a new creed, “Belief In Rock N Roll.”

Every day
I work so hard
Every day
I’m dealt the cards
Every day
I’m told exactly what to do
Every day
I lose control
Every day
I rock ‘n’ roll
Every day
It’s gonna help to see me through

I believe in rock ‘n’ roll

Has life changed for the working class man since 1985? We still work hard every day, we still deal with the hand we are given, we still do what we are told to do and we still look forward to the weekend where we can rock n roll and relax. Praise the lord, I believe.

The Fire Still Burns

By far the best song on Come Out and Play and in my view, one of the best songs Dee Snider has written. Extreme Metal bands have even covered this song.

Get out of my way
I’m the hangman today
And the judge and jury

The victim and the punisher. The Yin and the yang. The constant battle we have in life. We are happy, and we are sad. We laugh and we cry. In the end, the ones that make it through have that fire that burns forever.

King Of The Fools is a bonus track on the CD version and on the Tape version. It is a classic.

Look around me all I see
Thousands of faces wanting me
How can I lead?
How can I rule?
When I’m the king of the fools

It’s almost like Dee is regretful at his fame. The song is a continuation from The Price, where Dee tries to capture life on the road and how it is a price he needs to pay for success. Of course, the prices is time away from family and loved ones. Doubt is everywhere. Conflict is everywhere. You want to be on the road, you want to play shows, yet you don’t want to be away from your family. You are travelling from town to town, with people that you realise you don’t really like anymore, however you can’t stop. The call of the road and music is too great to resist.

The outside world can’t understand
Just who we are or what I am
Well, we don’t want their life or rules
I’ll be the king, king of the fools

Again, it’s the us (the SMF’s) vs them (The Mainstream) mentality. It’s the expectations of society vs the dreams of youth. We have different viewpoints, we have different needs so we are seen as fools by the mainstream. If the mainstream sees us as fools, then Dee is our King.

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