A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Persistence Part 2

There is a recent Dear Guitar Hero article with Tommy Thayer in the Guitar World, May 2013 issue.  The interview was conducted by Brad Angle.

QUESTION: Is it true that you did manual labor tasks at Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s houses before becoming a member of Kiss? (Tony Ratoni)

ANSWER: Those are kind of urban myths.  Sure, I started working for those guys part time in the late Eighties, an my credo was that I’d do whatever needed to be done.  And a lot of times when you’re in those situations you do all kinds of things.  I think, somehow, through all the speculation on the internet, people started saying that i did all these strange jobs.  But nothing was strange.  I was just a go-getter that would do whatever task was at hand, which is normal if you wanna get somewhere in your life.  I’m proof that persistence works.  

So all you wannabe artists, are you prepared to persevere.  If you want to be rich, take up banking or get involved technology.  Hell, tech heads are the new rock stars.  They are the cool ones, the ones that people want to hang with as they are rolling in the cash.  If you want to be somebody in music, you need to persevere.  Tommy Thayer was a go-getter for Kiss.  Gene Simmons signed his band Black and Blue and produced two mediocre albums.  He even took one of the Black N Blue songs he co-wrote and called it Domino on Revenge with only himself as the writer.  Tommy Thayer then played the tribute circuit in a Kiss cover band.  This is a period now that is spanning from 84 to 2000.  In 2002 he made his debut as the new Spaceman for Kiss.  He didn’t quit.  He kept on making connections.  He kept at it.

There is a comment on the Persistence and the Meaning of making it post, where Robakers mentioned the persistence of Lars Ulrich in getting Metallica off the ground.  This is so true.  Everyone seems to forget that part of Lars.  He was once a kid, that built connections around the NWOBM music that he was interested in.  He surrounded himself with like minded people.  Eventually one of those people started a label.  Then they where doing a compilation album.  The rest is history.

These days, everyone remembers Lars as the guy that sued his own fans when Napster came on the scene.  That is because, Lars wanted to be part of the corporate elite.  Lars wanted to hang with the rich because he thought it was cool and the rich wanted to hang with Lars as they thought it was cool to hang with a rock star.  Instead of Lars being the stiff middle finger hero to his fans against the corporations, he became one of them.

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Music, My Stories

Motley Crue and Kiss at the Allphones Arena, Sydney 9th March 2013 – Part 2 – Kiss’s Set

Getting late
I just can’t wait
Ten o’clock and I know I gotta hit the road
First I drink, then I smoke
Start up the car, and I try to make the midnight show

Get up
Everybody’s gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody’s gonna leave their seat

Its all about the show.  A lot of bands just write songs and then you have Paul Stanley who wrote songs for the show.   The intro is built for explosions, pyro and fire.  The story behind Detroit Rock City is legend by now and from tragedy you get a song stands the test of time.  37 years later it is still relevant and the Kiss fan that got killed on his way to the concert will never be forgotten.  Credit must be given to Bob Ezrin as well.  Apart from being the producer, he also was a co songwriter on this song, and the task master on Destroyer.  Coming into the Destroyer album of 1976, Bob Ezrin was coming off his recent successes with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed.  Of course Ezrin would go on to greater fame with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. 

It doesn’t matter what you do or say
Just forget the things that you’ve been told
We can’t do it any other way
Everybody’s got to rock and roll, whoo, oh, oh

Shout It Out Loud is one of those songs that just endure.  Rock N Roll was all about doing things that the conservatives wouldn’t do.  The history of rock music is littered with the same themes.  It doesn’t matter what the people in power say, we will try to do it in our own way.  This song was penned by Paul, Gene and Bob.  All the big songs from Destroyer had an Ezrin co-write.  These themes popped up again in I Wanna Rock and You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll from Twisted Sister. 

You know your man is workin’ hard
He’s worth a deuce

As described by Gene Simmons Deuce was a popular street term in the early 1970s meaning fellatio and full sex afterwards. This song is penned by Gene Simmons only.  It has also endured through the 40 odd years.  Will a song be written like Deuce these days?  Probably not.  Everyone wants to be liked these days and they do stuff that is politically correct.  Music is never about toeing the line.  There are artists out there that do it their own way but these are outliers.  They could rise amongst all the others or they could be forgotten or they could change and be part of the masses. 

She can move you and improve you
With her love and her devotion
And she’ll thrill you and she’ll chill you
But you’re headed for commotion

And you’ll need her so you’ll feed her
With your endless dedication
And the quicker you get sicker
She’ll remove your medication

Get the firehouse
‘Cause she sets my soul afire
Get the firehouse
And the flames keep gettin’ higher

The usual concert staple where Gene Simmons ‘spits’ fire and sings about the slaves men have become to women, relationships and sex.  It’s so true, we are so addicted to being loved or to having a sexual relationship, we will change and bend who we and then we get burned.  You can even see we think a lot with our penises.  Another Kiss classic penned by Paul Stanley, who to me is an underrated songwriter when he goes it alone. 

I rode the highway to heartache
I took a trip on the ship of fools, woah yeah!
And I paid the price to have my way
‘Cause money makes the rules, yeah!

Hell or Hallelujah is probably the best song Kiss has written since the Revenge album.  Psycho Circus is a close second.   It’s good to see Paul Stanley going alone again with the writing, instead of a list of outside writers, like he has done for a long time.  Life is about paying your dues, it’s about accumulating experiences.  What price are we prepared to pay to have it our own way?

How true is the last lyric line?  Money makes the rules.  There is a story at the Wall Street Journal stating that “nine executives at private-equity firms together will take home more than $1 billion in dividends and compensation from last year”.  Money buys rules.  How many of the architects of the GFC got punished.  Instead they got bailouts, generous severance payments and are doing College tours of the US.  On the other side of the coin, you had people lose their houses, their families, their lives and their sanity.     

So if you please get on your knees
There are no bills, there are no fees
Baby, I know what your problem is
The first step of the cure is a kiss

So call me (Dr. Love)
They call me Dr. Love (calling Dr. Love)

Calling Dr. Love is rock n roll all the way through. With its Cold Ethyl borrowed riff and the usual subject matter about sex, this Gene Simmons penned tune follows all the rhyming clichés. This was on the Eddie Kramer produced Rock N Roll Over.  That album didn’t stand a chance as a follow up to Destroyer. 

I was born to the human race
Livin’ life feelin’ out of place
People said I was wasting my time
Looking to find my kind

Outta This World is a song that sounds forced and fake.  This Tommy Thayer penned tune is a sad imitation to the real Space Man.  As much as Gene and Paul spin it, there is only one space man and that is Ace Frehley. It is a shame that Ace doesn’t recognise his value to the Kiss Army.  Even the banks are foreclosing on his home.  So you have an ex member of one of the biggest bands in the land, that sell everything that they can think off, and his home is getting foreclosed.  Are Gene and Paul doing creative accounting in this or is Ace just silly with his money.   

Get up!
Now it’s time for me to take my place
The make-up runnin’ down my face
We’re exiled from the human race.

You’re in the psy
You’re in the psycho circus
I say welcome to the show.

Step up!
No one leaves ’til the night is done
The amplifier starts to hum
The carnival has just begun.

Psycho Circus is about the rock experience.  It’s about the rock heads.  It’s about how the establishments treated us as exiles from the human race, before the bankers all wanted a piece of it and made it mainstream.  Then our rock idols also wanted to become bankers.  The rock show was a circus, it was a place to let our hair down and be as one.  This was penned by Paul Stanley and Curtis Cuomo.  Cuomo also co wrote a lot of songs on the Carnival of Souls album that didn’t get any attention due to all the hoopla of the original band reunion.  Psycho Circus was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and in the end he couldn’t save it either.  As much as it was hyped as a reunion Ace was more or less absent again from most of the recordings with Tommy Thayer doing most of the leads.  I didn’t mind Psycho Circus but as with every follow up album to a mega successful one it has a lot to live up too.  The intention of Psycho Circus was never to sell truckloads of albums.  It was all about putting the make up on again and being KISS.     

I love it loud, I wanna hear it loud, right between the eyes
Loud, I wanna hear it loud, I don’t want to compromise

Turn it up, hungry for the medicine
Two fisted to the very end
No more treated like aliens, we’re not gonna take it ‘cos

I Love It Loud, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It and many other songs shared similar themes.   Kiss need to really credit Vinnie Vincent for their resurrection in the early 80’s.  I Love It Loud was penned by Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent.  This song is from Creatures of The Night.  Even though Ace is credited on album sleeves it was Vinnie Vincent that brought the guns and had Kiss firing on all cylinders again.

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights

Again another song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here.  Crazy Nights was co written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Live this song didn’t go down to good.  They key they where doing the song in was all wrong, Paul even had a capo on his guitar (which isn’t very ROCK N ROLL) and everything was just out of key.  You can tell that the band was put off. 

Better watch out ’cause I’m a war machine

That is how the rockers and metal heads felt.  Indestructible war machines.  It was an elite club once, and when the bankers and others wanted a piece of it, we didn’t like it.  Our heroes took the bankers in and they started to treat the real fans like cattle.  There is no other way to describe it.  Just look back to our record collection of the mid 80’s onwards and what you have is an album with 2 to 4 good songs and the rest is pure filler.  Of course there where always albums that rose above this, like Slippery When Wet, New Jersey, Dr Feelgood, Hysteria, Appetite for Destruction, Master of Puppets and many others.  Thank god the internet came and levelled the playing field once again.  War Machine is one of the most heaviest songs in the Kiss arsenal, up there with Unholy, yet it was co-written by Gene Simmons, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.  The heaviest song Kiss has was written by a pop duo. 

You pull the trigger of my
Love gun, (love gun), love gun

Another Paul Stanley classic, penned on his own.  It’s part of pop culture now.  You pull the trigger of my love gun.  Growing up in the 80’s I cant recall how many times I used this line on the opposite sex, only to get laughs instead of the actual deed. 

You show us everything you’ve got
You keep on dancing and the room gets hot
You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy

You keep on shouting, you keep on shouting
I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day

Rock and Roll All Nite was co-written by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  These two guys need to do more co-writing together. This is what we wanted to do.  No one wanted to work nine to five jobs.  We all wanted to be musicians.  Kiss wrote the anthem for it.  To me the Rock n Roll all night isn’t about rocking per se, it is about getting down and having dirty sex. 

Lick It Up – kneel at the altar of Vinnie Vincent.  Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.  The songs that have Vincent’s involvement are a step above the other songs Kiss released in the 80’s and the 90’s.  Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent wrote this song.  The good thing about the Lick It Up album is that it was all written within the band.  That is why it works.   Lick It Up was their big album in the 80’s.  The best songs on Creatures of the Night were also co – written by Vincent and the best songs on Revenge where also co- written by Vincent.  Of course Revenge was their big album of the 90’s. 

Don’t wanna wait ’til you know me better
Let’s just be glad for the time together
Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.  This song killed it when it got started. 

Black Diamond is another Paul Stanley penned tune.  In the concert Eric Singer sang the song, and I must say I was impressed with his vocal abilities. 

Out on the streets for a living
Picture’s only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb

I must say Eric Singer played the part of Catman perfectly.  If Peter Criss was there or not, I don’t think it matters, however for some reason, Tommy Thayer pretending to be the Spaceman, matters.  I am still trying to work this one out.

And the show comes to an end.  I looked over at my boys and they had Joker style grins from ear to ear.  They were tired at midnight, but pumped.  For an eight and seven year old, they are just starting out.  To me, it was great to experience the concert with them.  Kiss and Motley have the biggest arena shows and it was a perfect first concert for my boys.  Kiss where far superior on the night, more professional and tighter.

To me, one of the best concerts i went to was a Black Crowes gig at the Wollongong Entertainment Center where about 1000 tickets where sold in a venue that holds about 10,000.  The band went on and they played and they jammed, extending their songs and just having fun.  They played all of their hits, but they didn’t play them the same as the album.  The band had fun doing their extended jams and the audience had fun along with them.  This is an important fact that seems to be missing from concerts these days.  Kiss might as well have lip synced as they didn’t really do anything different with the material.

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