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

On Fire and Not So On Fire

On Fire

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

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

Not So On Fire

Record labels are still fighting to block music piracy websites.

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

On Fire

Sweden’s music scene.

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

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

Not So On Fire

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

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

On Fire

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

Not So On Fire

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

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

Not So On Fire

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

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

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

On Fire

Netflix.

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

Not So On Fire

The Billboard Chart or any chart for that matter.

Do we still need this metric?

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

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

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

On Fire

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

Not So On Fire

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

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

Why?

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

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

There are a few things these songwriters can do;

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

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

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

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

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

On Fire

TV shows.

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

Not So On Fire

The Album.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1983 – Episode IV: Drastic Measures As The WASP Heading Out For A Storm Kills Em All

As more people got disillusioned with their institutions, the more heavy metal grew. A small niche was starting to reign. The middle working class, suddenly had an outlet. Artists wrote lyrics about what they felt and it connected with the youth of the 80’s.

But these artists didn’t just come out of nowhere. These artists had a certain confidence and perseverance. Most people gave up instead of staying the course.

But the bigger secret to metals breakthrough as a commercial force was MASS. The fans supported metal. Bands classed as thrash metal, speed metal, power metal, heavy metal, hard rock, heavy rock, glam rock, glam metal, etc…these days could all be found in the Metal section of a record store back in the 80’s. Bon Jovi next to Black Sabbath. Motley Crue next to Metallica and Megadeth. Van Halen next to Venom. Twisted Sister next to Thin Lizzy, Tygers of Pan Tang. It was all metal.

The fans remained together and united even though it was for a few short years, like 1982 to 1986. Sort of like how Facebook grew as the ONE dominant player. Apple tried to compete and failed. Ping and Connect are a distant memory. MySpace disappeared like new wave music disappeared when metal started to grow.

Since Facebook’s rise, (like Metal’s rise) other products (like different genres created by record label marketing reps) have come out. Instagram, Snapchat, Musicly, Tumblr and Twitter just to name a few. Suddenly, Facebook’s membership starts to slow down dramatically. People stop visiting the site and people start closing accounts. Fragmentation has occurred.

You see the public wants to belong, have something to talk about. Facebook provided that and to the youth of the 80’s, metal music provided that same outlet.

Pre 90’s era, on average, five thousand albums were released a year. Just getting a record deal was a near-impossibility. A lot of artists couldn’t even compete and the ones that did knew they had to deliver something special.

For those that missed Episodes 1, 2 and 3, just click on the numbers for a recap.

WASP – WASP
It’s a triple knock out combination in “Animal”, “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “Love Machine”. There is a saying that you have your whole lifetime to write your first album and only three months for your next, if you get a chance. Blackie wasn’t saving any songs for the next album. He went all out on the first.

“Animal”
Blackie doesn’t perform this song anymore as it clashes with his current faith, but back in the 80’s it was a different story.

I’m the wolf with the sheepskins clothing
I lick my chops and you’re tasting good

Blackie doesn’t mind living it up while he’s going down.

“I Wanna Be Somebody”

I wanna be somebody
Be somebody too

Yep, we all wanted to be somebody and MTV made us all believe that we could become global superstars in the same way that the internet has made us all DIY musicians, bloggers, film creators, novelists, etc. But showing up to work doesn’t mean I get a pay increase. Same deal with music. Just because you create something, it doesn’t mean people will pay attention and untold riches would fall before you.

You don’t want no nine to five
Your fingers to the bone

But we still put in the hours. I came across a marketing campaign called “Real estate tips from the terminally ill”. In a nutshell, the terminally ill wished that they didn’t skip spending time with their family in order to work longer hours to pay off their mortgage. Once you are in debt, the only way out is to work hard and pay it off, or to sell.

Persistence is the key to being somebody. You believe it doesn’t matter, but it does. Because sometimes in life, you feel like the wind is at your back, your sails are up and you are achieving what you want. But good karma doesn’t hang around forever and that golden sunset you are sailing to proves to have some issues. And suddenly, you have your back against the wall, the wind is against you and all of those opportunities have ceased and your momentum to the top has halted.

It’s in these moments that those who want to be somebody keep on rising and all the wannabe’s become train wrecks, chucking tantrums and blaming others for their failures.

“Love Machine”
L.O.V.E All I need’s my love machine
L.O.V.E All I need’s my love machine tonight, tonight

This was my first introduction to W.A.S.P. as the film clip was doing the rounds on music television. They looked like Mad Max Horror Movie Rejects. The 12/8 triplet drumming pattern over a simple power chord riff is what makes this song unique musically and the L, O, V, E chant in the Chorus is iconic.

“School Daze”
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American.
And to the republic for which it stands. One nation under god, indivisible… with liberty and justice for all!”

It gets your attention right away.

A text-book mad-house, twelve years
I’m here in a rage
A juveniles jail and I’m here locked up in their cage

It’s how we saw school, not really knowing that you have some of your best years in school and that after we leave school, we keep on learning new things every day.

School Daze, school daze, I’m here doin’ time
School daze, school daze, my age is my crime

Today we have access to all of the information we want and with that access, we are constantly researching and learning. But we couldn’t do what we do know back in the 80’s. Access was restricted and we didn’t want to be a cog in the education degree factory machine however many of us ended up becoming cogs in the workforce. Some of us got to make decisions while a lot of us had to follow decisions.

A blackboard jungle toed the line the rulers made

School is a foundation but it’s not everything. The truth is we never stop learning. What makes us unique is the lifelong informal education we undertake.

Hellion
I am assuming “Love Machine” came first, so I will call “Hellion” a derivative version of L.O.V.E.

Wild child, you’re sweatin’ and you’re stoned

Just add drunk to it as well.

“Sleeping (In The Fire)”
There was always something about WASP and ballads that just worked brilliantly. Not sure if it’s Blackie’s vocal tone or the fact that he just writes excellent ballads that are not clichéd.

Taste the love
The lucifer’s magic that makes you numb
The passion and all the pain are one
You’re sleeping in the fire

It’s a simple Dm to B flat to C to Dm progression.

What does it all mean?

Who cares? Bad boy Lucifer gets a mention and for 1983 that was enough to get people into a panic.

Metallica – Kill Em All
At the time of its release “Kill Em All” didn’t set the world on fire. And because Metallica are still a force to be reckoned with in 2016, the history around the “Kill Em All” album is being rewritten, but the truth is much different.

The lifespan of “Kill Em All” was short. It came out on July 25, 1983 and by February 1984, seven months after it was released, Metallica was in the studio, writing and recording “Ride The Lightning”. The victory lap for the debut album was seven months. That’s it. If the band wanted to continue with their music 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 “Kill Em All” started to get RIAA certifications. It finally reached U.S sales of 3 million units in 1999.

“Kill Em All” is a product of its time and its era. Heavy metal and hard rock music was becoming a commercial force to be reckoned with, so by 1983 standards, “Kill Em All” was up against some hard competition for people’s attention.

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 brand new bands. “Bark At The Moon” showcases Jake E.Lee, “Lick It Up” showcases Vinnie Vincent and “Holy Diver” showcases Vivian Campbell. 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 a cover of Slade’s “Cum on Feel The Noize”. Judas Priest was also riding high on the charts and selling well from a 1982 release called “Screaming For Vengeance”.

When I first got my hands on the album, “Jump In The Fire”, “The Four Horsemen”, “Phantom Lord” and “Seek And Destroy” had me hooked. Those four songs got constant rotation and if I was making mix tapes, those four songs would always end up scattered through the list.

In time, I have appreciated what the other tracks bring to the mix.

“Hit The Lights”
The song that started it all for Metallica. It’s full of speed and youthful exuberance.

No life till leather, we’re gonna kick some ass tonight
We got the metal madness when our fans start screaming,

It was a cult like following that sustained Metallica and gave the band life.

When we start to rock, we never want to stop again
Hit the lights

Being classified as a thrash metal band never sat well with Metallica. To them it was just rock and metal. To be classed as a thrash band was anathema, as it meant they had to conform to a certain style and tempo.

We know our fans are insane, we’re gonna blow this place away
With volume higher than anything today, the only way

It wasn’t just volume. It was energy, youthful abandonment and a nervous tempo that made the songs faster. For the metal fans, all we had was each other. And it was enough. We knew it and we worked with what we had.

“The Four Horsemen”
An embryo of what Metallica would become with each album release up to the “Black” album.

You have been dying since the day you were born
You know it’s all been planned

It might be a throwaway lyric but to me this is James Hetfield of “The Unforgiven” fame and the lyrics;

“New blood joins this earth and quickly he’s subdued, through constant pained disgrace, the young boy learns the rules”.

Did anyone pick up on the very heavily influenced “Sweet Home Alabama” section from the 3.27 mark?

“Motorbreath”
Motorbreath, it’s how I live my life
I can’t take it any other way
Motorbreath, the sign of living fast
It is going to take your breath away

When I saw James speeding away from the studio in the “Some Kind Of Monster” movie, this song instantly came to mind.

Those people who tell you not to take chances
They are all missing on what life is about
You only live once, so take hold of the chance
Don’t end up like others, the same song and dance

And there is the mantra of the rebellious youth.

To a lot of people in 2016, it would be hard for them to believe that “Kill Em All” was a DIY/Indie release. Metallica was indie before indie was cool. Hell, those 4 lines might sound clichéd, but when you look at the young Metallica and their work ethic, you start to see some truth in those words.

We take chances on what we don’t know. So if we start to change what we do know and believe, it’s one step forward to starting to change our behaviours. That’s the challenge, to find our way, to keep on going and pursue the dream, even when no one cares.

“Jump In The Fire”
This song, along with “Seek And Destroy” became the first two songs that I gravitated too on the album.

Follow me now my child, not the meek or the mild but do just as I say

So come on… Jump In the Fire.

“Whiplash”
A song designed to break your neck.

Adrenalin starts to flow
You’re thrashing all around
Acting like a maniac
Whiplash!

It was all about making music just to go on the road, via the tour bus or to fly in economy class. Then when MTV made artists global superstars, it became about the royalty statement and flying private. Because if the label heads could do it, then why couldn’t the artists.

Bang your head against the stage like you never did before
Make it ring, make it bleed, make it really sore

And millions did do exactly that. It was all about that hour to two at the show. That’s what the artists lived for and that’s what the fans lived for.

But we’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, ’cause we’re Metallica

And in 2016, they are still here, cause they are METALLICA.

“Phantom Lord”
This song is Dave Mustaine’s baby as so many of the riffs here appear in Megadeth songs.

Hear the cry of war, louder than before
With his sword in hand to control the land
Crushing metal strikes on this frightening night
Fall onto your knees for the phantom lord

You can just imagine the metal lord with a metal sword, bringing metal to the masses. There is just so much metal in “Kill Em All”, it makes Spinal Tap sound like a weak rock band.

The leather armies have prevailed
The phantom lord has never failed
Smoke is lifting from the ground
The rising volume metal sound

From 1983 to 1992, the leather armies ruled.

“Seek And Destroy”
I remember learning how to play the riffs to the song and I normally did my own thing during the lead break. This song and “Jump In The Fire” are the only two songs from the debut album that made it onto a Metallica mixtape I had happening around 87, just before “Justice” came out.

Scannin’ the scene in the city tonight
Lookin’ for you to start-up a fight
There’s an evil feeling in our brains
But it is nothing new, you know it drives us insane

People were scared of dudes with long hair and black clothes once upon a time. Now it’s the norm.

Searchin’, seek and destroy

The call to arms.

“Metal Militia”
We are as one as we all are the same
Fighting for one cause
Leather and metal are our uniforms
Protecting what we are
Joining together to take on the world
With our heavy metal
Spreading the message to everyone here
Come let yourself go

Again, just so much metal on the album, however for anyone that didn’t live through the 80’s the message is the same. It was “us versus them” mentality.

Kansas – Drastic Measures
This version of Kansas is very far removed from the early Kansas. After commercial success with “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust In The Wind”, it’s expected that the band would be pressured to write more “hits”. But what the labels failed to understand is bands never sit down to write hits. They sit down to write songs.

“Drastic Measures” is the ninth studio album and the one that would see the great Kerry Livgren leave Kansas. He only submitted three tracks for the album and held back a lot of his songs for his next project post Kansas. The album was John Elefante’s attempt to stamp his mark on Kansas and his compositions dominate the album.

The album was produced by Neil Kernon along with Kansas.

“Fight Fire With Fire”
Man, that opening riff is a groove stomper. It sounds familiar, but I can’t put a name to the influence. It’s written by John Elefante and his brother Dino Elefante.

There’s a hole in the wall
With a light shining in
And it’s letting me know to get up
It’s time to begin

A new day has begun. It’s time to get up and live it.

Oh there is nothing to lose
‘Cause it’s already lost
In a runaway world of confusion
I’m gonna take it

The day you are spending at work, the song that you are creating in your spare time, the discussions you are having with friends and peers, are they just actions to get you through the day or are they the actions you will be remembered by. And when we have nothing left to lose, our actions become greater.

“Everybody’s My Friend”
Another track written by the Elefante brothers about an unknown getting a recording contract.

Someone calls out my name
They ask me how I’ve been
So what’s it like in the big time?
Will you be my friend?

Suddenly people you have never known come out and pretend to be your friend.

“Across the board, from the bottom to the top, the music industry is built on people pretending to be bigger than they are.”
Zoe Keating

Have you met Mick Jagger?
Ringo, George or Paul?
Do you have my number?
Will you give me a call?

People want to attach themselves to famous people and people who are famous are lying to themselves and to their fans, believing they have friends when really, if it all goes away, they will have no one.

They all want to know
Do you make a lot of money?
They all want to know
Will you change your name?
They all want to know
What’s it like to be a rock star?
Everybody wants to know if they can hang around

As far as the fans of music were concerned, if an artist had a record deal, they had money. But that wasn’t the case. It was all a mirage. The image of fame put out there by MTV and the record label PR machines, made us believe, sort of like how Facebook likes makes you believe you have a lot of people who enjoy your product. Then why is your bank account so low.

Everybody wants to have a little piece of the action
Everybody wants to get into the show
Everybody falls in love with the main attraction
Everybody wants to know if they can hang around

Jodi Mitchell described the recording business in the “FREE MAN IN PARIS” with the following lyrics.

“There’s a lot of people asking for my time
They’re trying to get ahead
They’re trying to be a good friend of mine”

People like that are spread in all walks of life. Our social media lives are riddled with networking shenanigans. We have to have a lot of friends and a lot of likes and a lot of comments. And for some reason if we don’t we are losers.

“Mainstream”
Kerry Livgren is on hand to give the album some of that old Kansas spirit.

It’s so predictable and everybody judges by the numbers that you’re selling
Just crank ’em out on the assembly line and chart ’em higher (higher, higher)
Just keep it simple boys it’s gonna be alright as long as you’re inside the

There’s money in music, if you’ve got fans. But the record label heads believed they knew more and they’d get what they wanted by dangling dollars in front of the artists. This a version of Kansas looking to restore its sales success from the late 70’s. But the casual fans moved on and the hard-core fans who purchased the album and listened to it, didn’t know what to think of it. To me, the album is a testament to the effect mainstream success had on the band.

The market is dead, accounts in the red
Media saturation
We’re deep in a rut, the arteries cut
Sensory deprivation
Really loved it, didn’t earn a cent
No one’s buying your experiment

We live in a world of listens, which is a way overdue metric in music. To gauge a band’s success on sales was always wrong. If sales was the be all, end all, then there wouldn’t have been a second-hand market for unwanted albums. But there was a second-hand market and it was big business.

“Don’t Take Your Love Away”
It sounds like a “Peter Cetera” song in the Verses and then it moves into “The Police” territory, think of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” released in 1980 in the Chorus. It’s also another song written by the Elefante brothers. The move to AOR is complete.

You can take away the money
Take away the flame
Take away the things that I possess

You can take all my dreams away
The things that I need to survive
You can have it all

Sometimes all that matters are the simple things, like having someone be there for you each night.

The years are passing by me
Like a fast train that’s here and gone
It’s gone
Where they go, I just don’t know

Time is our greatest enemy. It stops for no one and it’s the one thing humans cannot control.

“Incident On A Bridge”
Musically, it’s got a “Cold As Ice” vibe in the intro and it’s one of the songs written by Kerry Livgren.

The world has a lot to give, but it’s worthless if you don’t live
And life only comes from the one who made it
When I look back and see the plan, when I retrace the race we ran
The course was so clear and true, each bridge that we crossed led me straight to you

What is living these days?

Life was different in the 80’s. it was more about personal fulfilment. Then Reagan’s U.S policies worked their way into Australia and suddenly it was all about remuneration. I could see it with my fathers’ peers. While we remained in our single storey house, the rest of them played keeping up with the Jones’s and six bedroom houses for a family of four became the norm.

“End of the Age”
The third and final Livgren penned track on the album.

The clock winds down and the bells will toll
For the dawn that follows may require your soul

The lyrics would work brilliant on a Metallica album.

When the mountains fall and the heavens roar
Then the reign of man will end forevermore
And the fools who believed in their empty ways
Will be witness to a world that’s set ablaze

The four horseman of the apocalypse are here.

Vandenberg – Heading For A Storm
This is the band Adrian Vandenberg stayed loyal to, when Dave Coverdale approached him to join Whitesnake in 1984. It was the same band that sued him and stopped him from using the Vandenberg name, hence the reason why his newest project is called Vandberg’s Moonkings

“Friday Night”
It’s got that “Dancing The Night Away” from Van Halen vibe.

During the week I’m only half alive, wasting my time all day from 9 to 5
They think I’m slow and I’m a lazy guy

I’m not sure the generation of today looks forward to Friday nights as much as we did. A lot of kids these days have weekend jobs and they would need to be at work on Saturday. So why would they go out on a Friday night.

But it never was like that.

Friday’s okay, I get my pay, spending all night on rock, women and wine

The lead break again is well thought out, well planned and perfectly executed.

“Time Will Tell”
Pedal point riffs merged with the AC/DC style of power chords merged with Def Leppard pop sensibilities. A great mix.

You read in the papers that it’s all a mess
That life isn’t what it used to be
They say that we all have to get used to less, recession strikes society

And people in 2016 think that Brexit and Trump in power is bad. As world-renowned investor Warren Buffet said when he was asked about Trump’s win;

“The stock market will be higher 10, 20 and 30 years from now and it would have been with Hillary [Clinton] and it will be with Trump.”

Time will tell if we are in trouble

We had issues with elections, governments, recessions and uprisings in the 80’s and we still made it through.

“Heading For A Storm”
A good title track musically. Like a lot of the songs from the Eighties, musically they connected however the choice of words or topics left a lot to be desired.

Can’t stop, nowhere to run – I’m heading for a storm, no way left to turn

This is very similar to what early Europe would sound like. Lots of Michael Schenkerism’s in the lead breaks, even the main riff could have come from a MSG or UFO album. Always blown away by the lead guitar compositions.

“Waiting For The Night”
Again the acoustic guitar comes to the fore as a prelude and then the Deep Purple “Highway Star” rhythms kick in with a lead break tour de force. The very definition of Euro Metal.

When the darkness falls and the night-time calls, that’s when I’ll be around

It’s more of that Friday night “let our hair down and rock” vibe.

People say we’re strange, don’t accept our ways, we don’t fit in their world

Damn right. Long haired and black t-shirt wearing rock heads didn’t even get a chance to fit in. Teachers already labelled us and employers in the manufacturing industry only employed us.

They’ve got their values and I have got mine, I’m not their kind

It looks like the values of the metal head still rule.

Friendship, togetherness, uniqueness, simplicity and freedom.

And here is my 20 song track list.
SIDE A
1. Hit The Lights – Metallica
2. The Four Horseman – Metallica
3. I Wanna Be Somebody – W.A.S.P
4. Sleeping In The Fire – W.A.S.P
5. Phantom Lord – Metallica
SIDE B
6. Animal – W.A.S.P
7. L.O.V.E Machine – W.A.S.P
8. Jump In The Fire – Metallica
9. Seek and Destroy – Metallica
10. Metal Militia – Metallica
SIDE C
11. Fight Fire With Fire – Kansas
12. Friday Night – Vandenberg
13. Everybody’s My Friend – Kansas
14. Don’t Take Your Love Away – Kansas
15. Waiting For The Night – Vandenberg
SIDE D
16. Heading For A Storm – Vandenberg
17. Mainstream – Kansas
18. Incident On A Bridge – Kansas
19. Different Worlds – Vandenberg
20. End Of The Age – Kansas

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

Adrian Vandenberg Compendium. “It’s Hard To Reach The Sky When You’re On Your Knees”.

Adrian Vandenberg came to my attention from his tenure in Whitesnake. At first I saw him as an imposter.

Why?

Because John Sykes became like a mythical saint to me. How dare these imposters like Vivian Campbell and Adrian Vandenberg mimic Sykes’s creations?

But then I came across a Vandenberg LP in a second hand record shop. And that brought back a memory of an interview in which it was stated that Adrian Vandenberg was actually David Coverdale’s first choice for the lead guitar slot, however Vandenberg turned the gig down and John Sykes was given the gig instead.

1985’s “Alibi” was the last album from the Vandenberg group before Adrian Vandenberg was poached from his own group to join the MTV Friendly Line Up of Whitesnake. And you know what I was very pleasantly surprised at the “Alibi” album. It was also the first album I heard from original music that Adrian Vandenberg had created and suddenly he was cool.

“All The Way”

The way it starts off with the city noises and that clean tone guitar riff you can just picture a guitar player busking on a street corner. A great opener. How good is that lead harmony melodic line for the second verse? Brilliant.

Goin’ all the way, I’m goin’ all the way
Reached the point where there ain’t no way back
Goin’ all the way, gotta go all the way, I’m in this right up to my neck

“How Long”

This track and “All The Way” are the two tracks that really connected with me musically from the initial listen and I played them constantly on the LP. I was a master at dropping the needle in the right spot. The classical overtones in “How Long” are really subtle and connect. Lyrically it is a brilliant heartbreak song

And that lead break. Wow. I always love a lead break that paraphrases the vocal melody. That in itself is an art form. Vandenberg does a stellar job at it. If Spotify and YouTube was around back in the Eighties I reckon I would have cracked up some decent play counts on these two songs.

Used to spend my time, breaking hearts now I find that I’m paying my debt
Now it’s my heart that breaks and it hurts so bad

Words so true.

“Fighting Against The World”

Once I burned out on “All The Way” and “How Long” I started to give the other album songs a spin.  “Fighting Against The World” is a real good song and perfect for 1985. Again the Classical influences pound the headspace and that Chorus just kicks some serious arena butt. Love the phrasing of the vocal melody.

And as is the norm, Vandenberg puts all of his chops to good use for another outstanding lead break.

I don’t agree
With the way some people make all the rules, control society
No rules for me, I wanna live my life the way I want

By 1985, everyone was doing standing up for something. There are so many things in life that are worth fighting for and your dreams and desires are one of those things.

“Alibi”

Now that there is nowhere to run, need an alibi

The album polarised me because it covered so many different styles. “Alibi” is a song that I class in the Def Leppard style of rock. It shares a lot of similarities to “Photograph”.

The lead break. What can I say? It is unique enough to be original and it shows its influences enough to connect musically.

“Once In A Lifetime”

The song is way ahead of its time. “Once In A Lifetime” is the template that Def Leppard used for “Hysteria” a few years later. The similarities are striking. Musically the song is brilliant.

Yesterday in and out another town, suddenly saw your face
Right out there in the crowd
You said you were happy, you got someone who treats you right
And I recognize that fire in your eyes, oh girl you should be mine, ‘cos

So after being pleasantly surprised back in 1989 with the purchase of “Alibi” (albeit 4 years too late), I started to seek out more music from Adrian Vandenberg. A record store clerk told me that two other albums exist however it will be an import and imports to Australia were very expensive. So I added them to my list of LP’s to search out at second hand record shops and record fairs. It took a few years however I did manage to find them.

Isn’t it funny how today, we can YouTube or Spotify our favourite artist and we will have their whole history at our fingertips. Before it wasn’t like that.

“Friday Night”

It is from 1983’s “Heading For A Storm” LP by Vandenberg. It is very Eddie Van Halen in the verses ala “Dance The Night Away”. Lyrically the song doesn’t connect but musically it speaks to me. The lead break again is well thought out, well planned and perfectly executed.

“Time Will Tell”

Pedal point riffs merged with the AC/DC style of power chords merged with Def Leppard pop sensibilities. A great mix.

As is the norm, the lead break from Vandenberg is brilliant.

“Heading For A Storm”

A good title track musically. Like a lot of the songs from the Eighties, musically they connected with me however the choice of words or topics left a lot to be desired.

This is very similar to what early Europe would sound like. Lots of Michael Schenkerism’s in the lead breaks, even the main riff could have come from a MSG or UFO album. Always blown away by the lead guitar compositions.

“Waiting For The Night”

Again the acoustic guitar comes to the fore as a prelude and then the Deep Purple “Highway Star” rhythms kick in with a lead break tour de force. The very definition of Euro Metal.

“Burning Heart”

Going deeper into the debut Vandenberg album from 1982, this is the first song I dropped the needle on because it was the single. And the other reason why I wanted to hear this song is that I read in an interview back in the early nineties that Vandenberg and Coverdale where working on a Whitesnake version of the song for the “Slip Of The Tongue” album. However when Vandenberg was suddenly confronted with a wrist problem, the song got put on the shelf.

And you know what. On hearing “Burning Heart”, “Sailing Ships” came to mind straight away.

“Nothing To Lose”

This is the best song on the debut album and it comes in at track number 7.

“Too Late”

The Judas Priest influence connects. Even the vocal melody is phrased very similar to what Rob Halford would do. And the Randy Rhoads influenced lead break showed some serious chops.

1990’s “Slip Of The Tongue” should have been Vandenberg’s pinnacle however the final script said otherwise. No offense to Steve Vai but the decorating he did over the bluesy hard rock riffs from Vandenberg was never a good fit for Whitesnake. Granted it is still an enjoyable listen but man seeing the making off DVD just highlights how blues rock the album originally was.

Fate would have it that a hand injury prevented Vandenberg from playing on the album which was the culmination of physical tension caused by his playing posture over the years and further aggravated by a series of wrist exercises Vandenberg started doing to fix the previous problem.

At one stage the working title was “Liquor and Poker”.

“Slip Of The Tongue”

Bring out the Zeppelin’isms. One listen and I was floored with a one two.

“Judgement Day”

Bring out the Zeppelin’sims Part II. Or in other words say hello to “Kashmir”.

“Sailing Ships”

The best song on the album. The big hit that wasn’t given a proper chance.

“Kittens Got Claws”

Blues Rock from start to finish. Coverdale delivers a simple Blues vocal line with all of his gutso. Classic Whitesnake.

“Wings Of The Storm”

A metal masterpiece.

“Cheap An’ Nasty”

AC/DC would be proud.

“Now You’re Gone”

Coverdale and Vandenberg tried to re-write “Here I Go Again”.

“The Deeper The Love”

A chorus that Coverdale had for a long time finally gets turned into a song.

“Sweet Lady Luck”

A B-side but how good is that intro.

It’s like Manic Eden and its music have been forgotten. You can’t find them on Spotify, however YouTube has the whole album.

Manic Eden came about during the Coverdale-Page project. Apart from Adrian Vandenberg on guitar, Manic Eden also included Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge on bass and drums, while vocals were provided by Ron Young. Their self-titled debut came out in 1994 at the height of the grunge movement and the start of the industrial movement. Manic Eden features some of the best blues rock playing from Adrian Vandenberg.

“Ride The Storm”

It’s a derivative version of Led Zeppelin’s “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” in the verses and it is very good. Ron Young delivers a Rod Stewart-esque like performance and Vandenberg owns the song on the guitar.

It’s your turn to fly on your own

“Do Angels Die”

Why does this sound so good?

This one is a derivative version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and Rolling Stones ‘Wild Horses”.  And as with “Ride The Storm” it is a damn good song. The track is atmospheric and then so powerful, one of my favorite tracks ever. It’s also got one of the best lyric lines ever.

“It’s hard to reach the sky, when you’re on your knees”.

This is what music is all about. If you’re sitting at home believing you deserve attention? Listen to this and make sure that what you are doing is just as good!

Then David Coverdale came into the picture again. When Coverdale let Vandenberg go, the reasons given range. The one that is most consistent is that Vandenberg presented Coverdale with a selection of songs that Coverdale described as “more suited to Chicago or Poison!”

The funny thing is that one of those songs got turned into a killer blues number called “Too Many Tears” many years later.

So after putting the past to bed, Coverdale and Vandenberg still needed a band. They immediately called Rudy Sarzo for the bassists position who then recommended Warren DeMartini from Ratt as the other guitarist. Denny Carmassi came from the Coverdale/Page project and a former crew associate suggested Paul Mircovich for the keyboardist position.

This is the version of Whitesnake I saw when they played the old Horden Pavilion in Sydney for their Australian tour.

“Restless Heart”

Then in 1997, the “Restless Heart” album dropped. It was originally intended to be more of a Coverdale-Vandenberg project but EMI insisted that it be released as a Whitesnake album. Regardless of people’s views, three songs stand out as worthy additions to the Whitesnake body of work. They are the title track, “Too Many Tears” and “Crying”.

“Too Many Tears”

The emotion hits the mark and Vandenberg shows what an accomplished guitarist and songwriter he is.

“Crying”

A derivative version of the song “Mistreated” from the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple of the David Coverdale. And what a dirty rocking guitar sound!

“Breathing”

2014. The return this time with Vandenberg’s MoonKings after his former Vandenberg bandmates refused to allow Vandenberg to use the Vandenberg name.

This is an album from an artist who wants to show that he can still rock and that he can still deliver live. Because in 2014, sales don’t mean shit. What matters is if people are listening to the music.

Vandenberg does ballads at a 1000 percent. So intimate and uplifting.

“Line Of Fire”

Vandenberg is famous for his Eighties output however this song sounds like it was written in the Seventies.

“Out Of Reach”

A personal song for Vandenberg that deals with his daughter who has lived with her mother since she was 12 years old. “Out Of Reach” means that he doesn’t get to see her as often as he would like.

“Sailing Ships (Acoustic)”

Vandenberg also intended for this song to be more laid back and acoustic orientated. In the end if I had to pick whose return was better between Jake E. Lee and Adrian Vandenberg, than Vandenberg wins without any competition.

“Lust And Lies”

Another brilliant addition to Vandenberg’s body of work. It’s Led Zeppelin meets Humble Pie.

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