Music

Black Sabbath’s Version of Children of The Grave And Ozzy/Randy Rhoads Tribute Version

The difference between the songs is the groove/feel.

Black Sabbath started off as a blues band and blues songs are built on grooves and swing feels. As history tells us, the guys saw a horror movie being played across the road from their rehearsal space and decided to write songs that scared people. But no matter how low they tuned, they still kept the swing groove/feel from the blues in the process.

So when Ozzy decided to cover some Black Sabbath songs for the “Blizzard Of Ozz” tour, he picked some of the classics, like “Paranoid”, “Iron Man” and “Children Of The Grave”. And from reading a few bios, Randy Rhoads (RR) was against covering these songs, as he didn’t want the project to be an extension of Ozzy’s previous band.

Regardless, “Children of The Grave” with Randy Rhoads (RR) is a stand out. RR ignored the triplet swing feel that Sabbath had on their “Masters Of Reality” version and went straight for the metal tempo feel of 146 beats per minute. RR also refused to tune down, so he fretted the C#m note instead of playing it as an open string the way Iommi does. By doing this, it allowed RR to me more precise with his picking and little melodic motifs.

And there is no doubt in my mind that by learning to play some of the Sabbath songs, RR used em all as influences for “Over The Mountain”.

If you don’t believe me, check out the Black Sabbath riff just before the “Over the Mountain” solo. And RR plays the intro/verse riff of “Over The Mountain” more or less the same as he plays “Children Of The Grave”. The only difference being, “Children of The Grave” is in C#m and “Over The Mountain” is in G#m.

And the solo break that RR throws in for the outro, made me want to learn the song. It starts from 3.15 and ends at 4.40.

There is also a little nod to all of the blues players from about 3.56, as RR plays a standard blues lick that even Ace Frehley used in “Love Gun”.

One song doesn’t take away from the other and both songs stand on their own.

If you want groove, then Black Sabbath’s version is for you. If you really like the NWOBHM and the LA Scene, then the live Ozzy/RR version is for you.

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Tribute

It’s my bible.

I played the cassette tape to death trying to learn every riff and lick. And when I couldn’t pick it all up, I shelled out $50 on Wolf Marshal’s transcription of the “Tribute” album and I spent a lot of hours woodshedding to it. Even though Ozzy re-cut his vocals for the release there is no denying Randy Rhoads and his love for his instrument. The way he re-imagines his multi-layered guitar riffs from the studio versions and turns it all into one definitive guitar cut is brilliant. For any guitarist, new or old, this is it. It gets no better than this.

I Don’t Know

The “A” pedal point riff in the intro is an example of effective simplicity that Randy flourishes with harmonic pinches, artificial harmonics, legato licks and whammy bar dives.

Crazy Train

The demonic scary F#m intro merges into an A major trippy/happy major key verse before it morphs back into the minor key for the pre-chorus and chorus. How can you not like it?

And then you have that logically laid out, super melodic and shred happy solo section. What more can be said?

Listen and enjoy and play air guitar.

Believer

The bass line is hypnotic and sets the tone for RR to colour and decorate.

Mr Crowley

This is the first song I got stuck into. It has two shred leads and the way Randy combined those guitar lines into one definitive track for the “was he polemically” section is brilliant. 

Then the outro lead is just one of those songs within a song lead breaks.

Flying High Again

The AC/DC style groove allows Randy to flourish the spaces with trills and little licks. Again the solo section is one of those lead breaks that just blows you away.

Revelation (Mother Earth)

The finger picked part at the start is breathtaking, the interlude is subdued and relaxing but that outro is breathless. And the live tempo is much better than the studio tempo. 

Steal Away The Night

I love the intro riff and how the outro of Revelation (Mother Earth) transitions into this song. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing for drum solos or guitar solos just on their own. I would rather hear those things along with music. John Petrucci on the live Budokan album nails it with his extended guitar solo as part of “Hollow Years” song.

Suicide Solution

The riff and the groove just nails it for me, plus the lyrics from Daisley about Ozzy’s addictions are brilliant. Again, would have loved to hear Randy solo while the band played the main riff of “Suicide” instead of being on his own.

Iron Man

Would you believe that the first time I heard these Sabbath song’s is via Ozzy?

Children Of The Grave

After “Mr Crowley” this was the next song I needed to devour. I loved the way Randy plays the riff in C#m on the 5th string. That’s how I learned this song. It wasn’t until many years later I heard the Sabbath version and Iommi is down tuned to C#. I must say, I love the tempo of this live version. 

And that outro improv lead is brilliant especially when Randy starts to reference Ace ala “Love Gun”.

Paranoid

Again, Randy goes to town on the lead and he fills the spaces of the main riff with trills and licks. Brilliant improv.

Goodbye To Romance

The piece d’resistance in guitar playing. The jazz like chords in the verses, the arpeggio chorus riff and that guitar solo.

No Bone Movies

For a last minute addition to the album, the song rocks hard in a live setting. It’s sleazy and perfect for the era.

The album ends with some outtakes of Randy playing his acoustic instrumental “Dee”.

These day’s guitarists can do unbelievable and very advanced things on the guitar but none of them have the magic and song sense of Randy Rhoads.

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All Aboard: The Randy Rhoads Guitar Train

I remember the day that I got the Tribute tab book.

I put the head phones on and listened to the album over and over while my index finger pointed out/followed the notes. After that first listen I went to the guitar, tuned up and started to play the basic riffs. After playing through the tab book in that fashion, I went back to the head phones and started following the notes again. I didn’t know it at the time but by doing this I was storing the image of the progressions in my mind. In a weird way, that is how I started to remember the songs.

Then I went back to the guitar and played through the whole album again with a lot of mistakes around the lead breaks.

I did this routine for months until I perfected the album. The music of Randy Rhoads became my bible. It was a religion. 32 years have passed and the legend remains. The memories remain. The teacher remains.

I remember the time when I traded my cousin a few Twisted Sister 12 inch singles for the “Quiet Riot II” album with Randy Rhoads. I needed to have it. My cousin wouldn’t part with it. I kept on persisting and finally he agreed. I was on a train to his place the same day.

Studying the style of Randy Rhoads, I learned all about modes and the different scales that are made from each note of the mode, like Ionian, Phyrgian, Dorian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian. I even named my son after one of the modes. It’s so easy to dismiss musical theory, however when you have an actual song that you can refer to, it makes it so much more easier to learn.

Wolf Marshall did an unbelievable job with the book transcription and on the commentary on each song. Actually Wolf Marshall was the transcription god back then. Another was Dave Whitehill. Experienced, super-talented and knowledgeable guitar players that broke down so many doors with their transcriptions and made it easier for young guitar players to pick up the guitar and practice.

“Crazy Train” was the first song I mastered. At the time, Alex Sklonick also had a column in the magazine “Guitar For The Practicing Musician”. In one of those columns, Skolnick also talked about modes and how “Crazy Train” is in the key of A Major and how it switches between the minor and major modes throughout the song. At the time it was a lot to take in however once you get it, you get it. Plus having a song like Crazy Train to refer too, who wouldn’t get it.

That one song has all the tools that every guitarist should possess.

Power Chords. CHECK. The All- Aboard part, the pre chorus and the chorus.
Pedal Point Riff. CHECK. The Intro F#m riff, along with the verse riff.
Movable Chord Shapes over a Pedal Point. CHECK. The whole verse riff that moves from A to E to D.
Finger Tapping. CHECK. Lead Break
Hammer Ons and Pull Offs. CHECK. In the Chorus and the Lead Break and sprinkled throughout the verse riffs.
Legato Lines. CHECK. In the Lead Break.
Palm Muting. CHECK. In the F#m riff and the lead break.
Alternate Picking. CHECK. Throughout the whole song.
Bends. CHECK. In the Chorus lead interludes and the Lead Break.

And then when you start to go through all of the other songs, you see/hear all of the above tools re-used, which re-enforces all the techniques. Some songs had finger picking and arpeggios. Randy Rhoads was the definition of completeness.

By creating great music, he also taught us how to be better guitar players. Everything made sense. You can take a teacher and make them a rock star, however you can never stop the rock star from being a teacher and that is exactly what Randy Rhoads was. A teacher.

Bob Daisley on his website released some snippets of what he calls the “Holy Grail”. Small snippets of jam sessions with Randy Rhoads. Hearing them just made me crank the Blizzard, Diary and Tribute albums again.

If something like Spotify was around in the Eighties, imagine the stream metrics these songs would have by now. It’s no surprise that “Crazy Train” is Ozzy’s most played track on Spotify with 15 million plus streams. “Mr Crowley” is up there with 4.9 million streams. Go on YouTube and there are hundreds of channels that have the song, with a lot of views on each channel. One fan channel has over 15 million views. Another has 5 million.

That is Randy Rhoads. His reach on one song is huge. Add to that all the others and it’s a crazy train alright. Rest in peace brother.

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C.C. DeVille – Guitar World September 1989 – Part 1

The below article (which I have re-typed in italics) was written by Brad Tolinski and it appeared in the Guitar World issue of September 1989.  

When Poison colleague Bret Michaels was asked to suggest an appropriate alternative career for the flamboyant C.C. DeVille, he immediately replied: “C.C. is obnoxious, so he’d be a great game show host.”

C.C. DeVille, I remember was the winner of the Worst Guitarist Polls in the Guitar mags back in the late eighties and early nineties.  When guitar playing got exposure via Shrapnell Records,  a new audience niche was born.  I called that niche, the Guitarist Elite.  This new niche hated guitarists like Mick Mars, C.C. DeVille, Scotti Hill, and many others from successful hard rock bands, as they where too sloppy and too safe (always referring to the Pentatonic scale).  The funny thing here is that this same elite revered Ace Frehley, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and other players that also had strong roots with the Pentatonic scale.

GW – Who are your favorite guitar players?
Jimmy Page.  Not because he’s trendy at the moment, but because when I was eighteen I thought he sucked.  I had to mature as a player to really appreciate him.  Youth never understands nuance or phrasing.  I initially hated all the great guitarists. The local players would say, “Dude, listen to this.”  They’d play some Page or Hendrix, but I wasn’t able to comprehend it.  I wanted to hear speed.  When you’re young you approach things from a different perspective.  There’s peer pressure to always burn and your emotional thing isn’t very developed.

I will admit that when i was starting off, I couldn’t get into Hendrix and Page.  Growing up in the Eighties, I loved the hard rock / glam scene.  At that time it was all about Warren DeMartini, Randy Rhoads, George Lynch, Eddie Van Halen, Mick Mars, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Sykes and David Mustaine (I actually like Megadeth first before i liked Metallica, and that was courtesy of Mega).   I didn’t get into Page and Hendrix until 1993.  That was when the Labels abandoned the eighties scene in favour of grunge.  I took that as a cue to delve deeper into the Seventies.

My next major influence would have to be Jeff Beck.  “Because We Ended As Lovers” off Blow By Blow is the pinnacle of confidence on a guitar.  It’s a brilliant example of the guitar as an emotional medium.

To be honest, C.C. is spot on here.  Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow album was another album that I explored in the nineties.  I remember reading a lot of interviews from Slash, where he talks the world of Jeff Beck.  Then he appears on Blaze Of Glory from Jon Bon Jovi.  Then he was set to appear with Guns N Roses on the song Locomotive, but didn’t because of a cymbal crash sending him partially deaf for a while.   I was interested and i wasn’t disappointed.  Try telling a current Metalcore guitarist that can sweep over eight strings and play a million tapped notes a minute to go and give Jeff Beck a listen.

Jimi Hendrix was amazing because he destroyed all conventional knowledge of what it meant to play guitar.  We all tend to play it safe.  If someone says a song is in A, we immediately jump to a familiar scale in that key.  Hendrix didn’t think that way, he just followed his own vision.  My favorite cut by him is Little Wing.

Again, my nineties “Seventies Boot Camp” began with Jimmy Page.  Hendrix was next.  Clapton was third.  Beck was fourth.  Tommy Bolin was fifth.  Paul Kossoff was sixth.  I was already aware of Richie Blackmore, Tony Iommi and Ace Frehley.  They where the big three for me originally.  Now it involves so many other great guitarists/songwriters like Steve Lukather from Toto, Ted Nugent, Neal Schon, Carlos Santana, Larry Carlton, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and so many other’s.

I first heard Little Wing when Skid Row covered it.  Then I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version.  I liked the little differences between each.  Nothing can compare to Hendrix’s version.  Even the vocal line is sorrowful.  You can feel the sadness and the hope all rolled into one.

If guitar playing has turned into an athletic event, then Eddie Van Halen is the Olympic champion – he lit the flame.  Speed is a great thing to have when you need it and something I’m always trying hard to develop, but Edward is the master at using it properly.  You’d have to be a fool to deny his influence  on every rock player in this decade.  Eddie saved Rock N Roll.  In 1979 music was starting to head towards synthesizers and skinny ties, and Van Halen came out and made it very chic to play guitar.  He’s still the greatest.  You hear kids saying he’s not good anymore, but they can’t appreciate what a good songwriter he’s turned into.

This is true.  Rock N Roll was always in the scene, buried with the coming of disco and ignored with the movement into new wave.  Van Halen made it cool again to be a rock band.  They had the stiff middle finger raised and we all wanted to be part of that attitude.  They paved the way for the eighties destruction that was too come.

Another major influence was a guy named Lee Pickens who played with a band called Bloodrock in the early Seventies.  He was way ahead of his time.  It was lucky for me that my brother bought their record or I would  have never known about him.  My favorite track was something called Cheater.  One of the greatest solos of all time.

This is what we want as fans.  Musicians telling us their influences.  Cheater was on the second Bloodrock album.  From the 5.10 mark, Lee lets it burn.  Its melodic and its brilliant.  The cowboy style yeahs, just add to the climax.  Its the like the end of the world.  Apocalypse will happen when the song is over.  Check it out.  Just click on Cheater.

As I get older I understand that the guitar is not about showing off, it’s a conduit for emotion.  I’m a stylist, not a size of your penis type player.  Playing guitar is about music, it’s not a contest.

The Nineties made me re-evaluate what it is to be a guitar player.  When i started playing in the mid 80’s my main focus was rhythm.  Then when i picked up the Randy Rhoads Tribute album, my focus initially was on the wonderful RR riffs.  Then i started to delve into the leads.  The Nineties was a time with no bass player.  Due to that I had to adapt the way i write riffs so that i always had a bass note running, so that when we jammed a song, it sounded complete.  So the solo breaks ended up turning into riff driven breakdowns.

 

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