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

Vivian Campbell Compendium

In June 2013, Vivian Campbell announced that he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In November 2013, Campbell said he was in remission from the disease. Then the cancer was back and Campbell is undergoing stem-cell treatments for it. In the meantime, Trixter’s Steve Brown will be filling in for at least four shows while Campbell undergoes treatment.

Killing Time
The first time I heard “Killing Time” was when I purchased the single for “The Unforgiven” from Metallica. So I went looking for the original band’s version which back in 1992 proved impossible. Sweet Savage was Vivian’s first band at the age of 16. The guitar styling’s included a heavy dose of Thin Lizzy with blues inspired leanings courtesy of Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck and Gary Moore with a quickened punk-escue tempo. Add to that mix the Northern Ireland upbringing of the members. Two members were Catholic and the other two were Protestants. That was Sweet Savage and with time they became seen as one of the true unsung pioneers of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

As bands from the NWOBHM started to break out and make it, Sweet Savage were still knocking on every door and exhausting all their possibilities. By 1982, Campbell knew Sweet Savage was not going to make it. Determined to make a living playing guitar, Campbell actively looked for another gig. Sweet Savage never made it big but in a way they did, they just changed their name to Metallica.

All of our heroes need to start somewhere and it was through Sweet Savage that Jimmy Bain heard Vivian play.

Rainbow In The Dark
He co-wrote “Rainbow In The Dark. 1983 was a big year for the rise of heavy metal and hard rock as a commercial force. While “Holy Diver” and “Stand Up And Shout” (which Vivian didn’t co-write) warmed up the fan base it was “Rainbow In The Dark” that mobilised them and sealed the deal. After the “Holy Diver” album went gold in the U.S., Campbell gave his father the framed gold album, which he hung proudly in his office. In relation to money, the road crew was making more than what the band was making.

The Last In Line
One year later and you are hearing another masterpiece. That guitar intro, the vocal, it’s like we were all children stepping out in the big world and never knowing if we will come home, but the magic we feel at that moment is worth a lifetime. The power of rock and roll. Once upon a time, music was the anti to the establishment. Forget the Top Forty charts, they were nearly meaningless for metal and rock bands until MTV took a stranglehold. The bands had hit songs but those hit songs lived in our hearts and minds as well as on the concert stage.

Egypt (The Chains Are On)
And the final track on album has an undeniable guitar riff. It is slow and all about the groove. And then there is Dio’s dreamy vocal. Now that is a rock star.

King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll
Another year later takes us to 1985 and this is my anthem…

Sacred Heart
The title cut off the third album, a satisfying cut that is made special by its nod to classic rock. But this was ’85, and bands like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth started making an impact. And unfortunately, the band at this time couldn’t replicate the quality of the first two records. Was it the money equity issues or something else? And when you talk about the band Dio, you talk about the classic line-up, one of the best in rock and roll.

Stars
This would burn up Spotify if released today as the whole pop market is built around telling teenagers that they are stars. It’s written by Dio, Campbell and Bain however Campbell and Bain where the initial drivers. Stupid record label politics delayed the release of the song until 1986 which diminished its impact.

Campbell has stated in numerous interviews that his departure in 1986 stemmed mostly from Ronnie’s unfulfilled promises of equity ownership in the band after the third album. It was the difference between being a salaried musician and dividing up a pool of performance revenues and royalties in the millions.

There is a YouTube clip where Ronnie James Dio says “I hope he f***** dies, he is an asshole.” Dio further goes on to tell the eager autograph hunters if they have heard some of the things that Vivian has said about him. And then Dio answers his own question, by saying that Campbell called him the most despicable human being and from listening to it, Dio believes that Campbell should be grateful because Dio believes that it was him that made Campbell a star. Basically, money is the root of all evil.

Vivian then hooked up with Whitesnake in 1987, and played on the bands most successful world tour ever. However he didn’t stay with the band because when it came time to submit music for the follow-up album to the mega successful 1987 album, Campbell saw that he was not needed. During this time the past came knocking again. Wendy Dio called to see if he was interested in joining forces with Ronnie again. However the bitter split over money still lingered and nothing eventuated. So by 1989, Campbell was out of another band. A production gig came up with Riverdogs and a Lou Gramm appearance on his solo album. The production gig led to Vivian becoming a permanent member in Riverdogs, who released an album to critical acclaim but had lacklustre support from their record label. The Lou Gramm appearance led to “Shadow King” Lou Gramm’s new band, which had limited success, and Gramm eventually returned to Foreigner.

Water From The Moon
It’s from the Riverdogs debut. It is track two on side 2 of the LP version or track number 7 on the CD. It was also the B-side to the “Toy Solider” single. You had to go deep into the album to hear it. The song is written by Vivian Campbell and Rob Lamothe. Rob Lamothe on vocals sounds like a cross between John Mellencamp, David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers.

I picked up the “Riverdogs” album along with the “Shadow King” album at a second-hand store for $4. It’s totally forgotten today. The classic line up was Rob Lamothe on vocals/guitars, Vivian Campbell on guitars and Nick Brophy on bass. It came out on EPIC Records and it fizzled out due to lack of label support. It was a big step away from the 80’s metal/glam genre and more of a nod to the gritty rock albums of the 70’s. However, the label marketed it as another hair metal album and then a week after its release they shelved it.

And of course there’s outstanding guitar playing from Vivian Campbell. Not only is the guitar playing phenomenal, it is full of emotion and feel. Also credit deserves to go to bassist Nick Brophy who stepped aside as the lead guitarist to make room for Vivian Campbell.

The only way I knew about Riverdogs in Australia was via interviews in the Guitar Magazines with Vivian Campbell. Otherwise they didn’t get on radio or any store promo whatsoever. So if people don’t know about it, how can they invest their time in it.

Shadow King came next. The members included Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, guitarist Vivian Campbell, Lou Gramm’s former Black Sheep and then future Foreigner bandmate bass player Bruce Turgon, and drummer Kevin Valentine. Bruce Turgon, was the secret ingredient, being a long-time friend of Lou and co-writer of the majority of the songs. Vivian actually co-wrote a couple of songs however the majority Lou Gramm and Bruce Turgon wrote the majority of the album. While other “supergroups” like Bad English and Damn Yankees were tearing up the charts, Shadow King got ignored. It’s a forgotten release by one of rock’s greatest vocalists.

They released a self-titled album in 1991 on Atlantic Records. Keith Olsen was on hand to produce. My other favourite tracks like “What Would it Take”, “Once Upon a Time”, “Anytime, Anywhere”, “Don’t Even Know I’m Alive”, “I Want You”, “This Heart of Stone” and “Danger in the Dance of Love” are written by Bruce Turgon and Lou Gramm.

Russia
Great acoustic playing and vocal melody – what is the lyrical message… It comes in at track 10 and it’s written by Vivian Campbell and Lou Gramm. It’s actually the only song that has a Campbell co-write.

One Dream
From 1991, a classic AOR gem. From the delayed guitar intro, to the Bad Company style verses, to the Def Leppard style choruses, the song is brilliant throughout. Add to that mix the brilliant voice of Lou Gramm and you have a classic rock song. Vivian Campbell delivers a stellar lead break as well. It’s a shame it got lost in a crap movie soundtrack. For the uninitiated it was on the “Highlander II: The Quickening” soundtrack.

Shortly afterward, Vivian Campbell announced he was leaving Shadow King to join Def Leppard. Although replacements were considered, the band members eventually went their separate ways, with Gramm and Turgon joining the reunited Foreigner in 1993.

That first year, Campbell was a salaried player. Then by the “Slang” album he became a full-fledged partner in the band.

Work It Out
“Work It Out,” is one of the more quality songs on “Slang” which came out in 1996. It’s got that cool tremolo guitar line happening throughout the start and a very heavy leaning towards a certain Scottish band called “GUN” and their song “Better Days”.

It was bittersweet. “Slang” was the first Def Leppard album that did not achieve platinum success in the U.S. It was too much in left field. Radio stations wouldn’t play Def Leppard because the songs from the new album did not sound like Def Leppard. They also wouldn’t play the old songs because they represented the ’80s.

Truth
It’s also a Vivian Campbell composition. The album version has nothing on the demo version. That is where it was at. It rocked and it rolled. Great guitar intro, but that overall industrial drum sound just doesn’t sit right with me. Then the whole Eastern Arabic lead break and breakdown reminds of “The Tea Party” which is a cool connection.

The “Slang” album was quickly forgotten. The ’90s was a tough time for all the Eighties rock bands. Some broke up and some just gave up music all together.

To Be Alive
The band’s next record, “Euphoria,” went gold in the U.S. It featured Campbell’s song, “To Be Alive,” from his solo band, “Clock” and their album “Through Time”, and a return to their signature sound. It’s got beautiful guitar playing and that classic major key feel from songs like “Two Steps Behind” and “Hysteria”. Great ballad and great lyrics. The songwriters are listed as Vivian Campbell and P.J. Smith.

Paper Sun
It’s 1999 and the recording business is in the throes of Limp Bizkit, Britney Spears and every other act that didn’t have roots in the Eighties. This is a song that just screams “HEAR ME”. It is a forgotten Def Leppard classic. From start to finish it is a masterpiece. It’s written by Vivian Campbell, Phil Collen, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage and producer Pete Woodroffe.

Guilty
Up tempo derivative version of “Hysteria” merged with “Animal”. It is written by Phil Collen, Rick Savage, Joe Elliott, Vivian Campbell and Pete Woodroffe

Day After Day
Another forgotten Def Leppard gem. How good is that break down riff before the solo and then that solo is a nice little song within a song composition. This one is written by Phil Collen, Joe Elliott and Vivian Campbell.

Then came “X” and outside hit makers were brought in, but unfortunately the vocal melodies just didn’t do justice to the excellent music. When I picked up X with the black background cover and the white X, I had in my head that it would sound something like Bad Company’s self-titled debut, as I was really hoping that Joe Elliot would try to push his voice in more of a Paul Rodgers/John Mellencamp direction. It wasn’t to be.

“Songs from the Sparkle Lounge” was done rather quickly compared to Def Leppard standards and it stands as a favourite of Viv’s. However it is another forgettable album. The Vivian Campbell cut “Gotta Let It Go” has a cool and very heavy “Have A Nice Day” chorus.

Vivian Campbell still has more to say, so here’s to a speedy recovery.

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

The Music Careers of the “Young Guns” from Guitar World September 1991

So I am flicking through an old issue of Guitar World that goes back to September 1991 and there is a D’Addario ad with the title “Young Guns II”. Pictured on the ad are the following guitar players;

Gary Hoey
John Axtel and Atom Ellis from Psychefunkapus
Tommy Bolan from Freight Train Jane
Gerard Zappa and Adam Holland from Valentine
Black Eyed Susan guitarists
Tristan
Matt Prudoehl

So what happened to these “Young Guns.”

Gary Hoey auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne in 1988, during the search for Jake E.Lee’s replacement. We all know that Zakk Wylde got that gig. He also auditioned for Def Leppard, which ended up going to Vivian Campbell. Then he teamed up with a few LA vets in “Heavy Bones” who released one album in 1992 and when it did nothing, they broke up shortly.

Good musicians never quit. He went solo and had a hit with “Hocus Pocus” a cover of the Focus hit. This led to some chart success, some soundtrack work and a monthly column in Guitar World called “Hocus Pocus” which I found informative and helpful to my guitar playing.

Although Extreme became famous for the funk rock in the early nineties, Hoey broke it down to a teachable lesson called “Get The Funk Out” from Guitar World June 1994 issue. But the best lesson for me was “Arpeggio Acrobats” that appeared in the November 1994 which involved playing string skipping arpeggios. Since then he has more or less released an album each year.

A true warrior of the music industry and a diversified artist. He doesn’t have the world-wide recognition but he has what a lot of musicians that had world recognition wish they had. A career in the music industry.

John Axtel (guitarist) and Atom Ellis (bass) from Psychefunkapus got together in 1986 and by 1992 it was all over. Two albums came out on Atlantic. 1990’s self titled debut and “Skin” in 1991. Then it was all over.

John Axtel has been around the scene with various projects and the same for Atom Ellis.  They also have shown their diversity and that is why they have been around in various bands and different genre’s.

Tommy Bolan was part of “Warlock” and then joined the solo band of “Black N Blue” vocalist Jamie St. James, which in the end became “Freight Train Jane”. “Mitch Perry” was the first choice however he was unavailable. Then Tommy Bolan auditioned and St.James had his “guitar guy”.

The band got together around 1991 as the ad for the “D’Addario” strings shows. The album “Hallucination” didn’t come out until 1994 and it did nothing.

Everyone is quick to blame “Grunge” however the decline of glam rock and hard rock bands has a lot to do with the songs and their messages just didn’t connect with the new generation of kids. For example, “You” from the album is great song musically but lame vocally. And when you compare it to another song called “You” from Candlebox, you would understand why connected and one didn’t. Tommy Bolan for all of his talent has been hit and miss. His most recent execursion was an instructional video/book out called “Metal Primer”.

This is one person that should have achieved more however for some reason didn’t.

Valentine started with Adam Holland (guitarist), Craig Pullman (keyboardist) and Gerard Zappa (bassist) in 1986. Once all the other band members joined they moved to LA and did some demos. Columbia Records came knocking only to see a record label re-shuffle put the band in a tough position which then turned out okay as their original A&R rep took the band with him to Giant Records who then released Valentine’s debut CD in 1990.

They they became Open Skyz, a new label deal with RCA eventuated and another self-titled album came out in 1993. Another label re-organisation meant no label and compounded with fatigue after almost a decade of music industry ups and downs, they called it a day.

However they have all remained in the music business and to this day continue to have a career in the music business. A new album called “Soul Salvation” came out in 2008 after a positive response to their Firefest appearance. Adam Holland is also the guitarist in the Steve Augeri Band (former Journey lead vocalist).

Blackeyed Susan had Dizzy Dean Davidson on vocals/guitar, Rick Criniti on guitar and Tony Santoro (RIP) also on guitar. Critini and Santoro both did time together in the band “Rage” while Dizzy Dean Davidson was fresh from his “Britny Fox” stint. Criniti also worked as a live keyboardist for Cinderella.   This band was talented and they had pedigree, however it wasn’t to be. The band split after their label Mercury pulled the plug and stopped the touring support dollars from filtering down in late 1991. However all three have had a career in the music business that lasted decades, even Santoro until his untimely death at 40 due to a heart attack.

Tristan and Matt Prudoehl I haven’t even heard off. Not back then and not now. Probably a reason why they failed to have a music career.

 

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1991 – The Year Of Disruption

1991.

What a year of disruption. I was reading two Hot Metal magazines from October and November 1991 and it got me thinking about 1991. Hard Rock, Power Metal, Glam Rock and the pedal point Heavy Metal that we got used too was facing obliteration. The smarter acts started building their Ark’s. They saw the warnings. The rest all drowned in the flood. Castle Donnington in August had AC/DC, Metallica, Queensryche, Motley Crue and Black Crowes. All of those bands survived the flood, however Queensryche managed to commit hara-kiri many years after.

Guitar Heroes Looking For Work

Jimmy Page
He announced that he was working with David Coverdale. The media reported it as White Zeppelin and Led Snake. The band was filled out with Denny Carmassi (Heart) on drums, Ricky Phillips (Bad English) on bass with Johnny and Joe Gioeli from the band Brunette rounding out the band. Fast forward to March 1993, “Coverdale/Page” finally came out. The wheels of motion in the recording business travelled slowly once upon a time.

Of course the following month, it was also announced that Neal Schon along with Deen Castronovo signed a band to MCA. The band at the time didn’t have a name however it featured Johhny and Joe Gioeli from the band Brunette, whom Schon discovered when he started dating their sister. The bands line up was completed by Todd Jensen (DLR) on bass. Of course that band would go on to become “Hardline”.

Vinnie Vincent
It was announced that he was writing songs with Gene and Paul. Most of those songs would end up 1992’s “Revenge” including the excellent “Unholy”.

John Sykes
Rumours started circulating that he joined Def Leppard to replace Steve Clark and those rumours started to earn some credibility when Carmine Appice and Tony Franklin quit Blue Murder. Then the rumours started that he would be a touring guitarist for them, as Def Leppard had plans to bow out at the top. Of course we all know how that panned out.

Adrian Vandenberg
Was out of a gig after David Coverdale disbanded Whitesnake. Rumours started circulating that he was forming a project with
John Waite as Bad English was more or less over. Then he had a solo deal with Victory Records. Then rumours persisted that he was tapped to join House Of Lords who also had a deal with Victory.

Of course, Adrian Vandenberg went on to be involved in the supergroup “Manic Eden” that had Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge as well as Little Caeser vocalist Ron Young. Of course, the House Of Lords connection was there in the early incarnation of the band, as James Christian was the original vocalist.

Steve Stevens
Another guitar hero in between employers. He was also on the radar to fill the guitarist slot with House Of Lords and then he was working on a solo record and then he was announcing plans to work with Michael Monroe. Of course the Monroe project went on to become Jerusalem Slim.

Randy Jackson
He spent almost 5 years working on the “China Rain” project, assembling a brilliant band that included Brian Tichy on Drums, Ronnie Snow supporting Randy on guitar and Teddy Cook on Bass. Then the label decided to not release it.

Lita Ford
Released “Dangerous Curves” which got her a Grammy nomination. However it was a big price to pay to have that all-star backing band for a tour that didn’t take off. The band included Myron Grombacher (Pat Benater) on drums, Dave Ezrin on keys, Matt Bisoneette (DLR) on bass and Joe Taylor on guitars. Joe Taylor suffered the indignity of being fired by Jim Gillete, Lita’s husband at the time because Jim wanted to cut Taylor’s pay.

Dave Navarro
Rumours at the time stated that he was asked to replace Izzy Stradlin in Guns N Roses as rumours started circulating that Janes Addiction was more or less over as Perry Farrell and Eric A started to hate each other over their views on drugs.

Vivian Campbell
Was in a new hard rock band called Shadow King, with Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Bruce Turgon on bass and Kevin Valentine on drums. Eventually went on to become a Def Leppard main stay.

Vito Bratta
At that point in time it was known that Bratta had tied down a solo deal with Atlantic. Of course in 2014, we know that nothing panned out.

Jeff Watson
Was rumoured to be in a project with Carmine Appice, Bob Daisley and Derek St Holmes. That project ended up becoming “Mother’s Army” and the final line up consisted of vocalist Joe Lynn Turner, guitarist Jeff Watson, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Carmine Appice. Again this news was out in 1991 and it wasn’t until 1993 that the self titled debut hit the market.

Neal Schon
Along with Deen Castronovo signed a band to MCA. The band at the time didn’t have a name however it featured Johhny and Joe Gioeli, whom Schon discovered when he started dating their sister. The bands line up was completed by Todd Jensen (DLR) on bass. Of course that band would go on to become Hardline.

Richie Sambora
He didn’t know if Bon Jovi would continue and released a solo album based on the blues infused with a little bit of pop and rock. He never achieved the platinum sales that he got with Bon Jovi, however he got to show a side of himself that could never have been shown in Bon Jovi.

Cemented Their Guitar God Status In An Hostile Environment

Zakk Wylde
Cemented his status as a guitar god with “No More Tears”. Every track is rock solid.

Paul Gilbert
Guitar players knew him from Racer X, however it was “Lean Into It” that brought him to the mainstream. Shame that it was a ballad that did it. Regardless the album is guitar heavy.

Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill
They came into their own on “Slave To The Grind”. Fusing rock, metal and blues with a shitload of groove. Add to that Rachel Bolan, the Nikki Sixx type persona of Skid Row.

James Hetfield
The whole “Black” album. Enough said.

Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch
They ramped it up on “Psychotic Supper”. Check out “Song and Emotion”, “Freedom Slaves” and “Had Enough”.

The New Winds

Nirvana dropped “Nevermind”. Earache Records had the big three in Napalm Death, Morbid Angel and Massacre.

Pearl Jam gave us “Ten” and it started to get some traction.

Soundgarden dropped “Badmotorfinger” and NIN was slowly rising in the background with “Pretty Hate Machine”.

Smashing Pumpkins released “Gish” to little fanfare and Prong released the critically acclaimed “Prove You Wrong.”

Alice In Chains sure did it tough, appearing on a few tours were even the people said “WTF”. Clash of The Titans saw them get pelted with rubbish and the Van Halen shows had people saying “What The”.

A Band Ahead Of The Times

Galatic Cowboys
Showed that diversity didn’t belong in the music business as at 1991. Mixing gospel, thrash, punk, bluegrass, rock and metal with a touch of prog and signed to Geffen. What could go wrong????

Tours

“Clash Of The Titans” did terrific business in major cities and dismal turnouts in rural cities and even cancelled a few gigs due to terrible advance sales.

“Operation Rock N Roll” with Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Dangerous Toys and Metal Church earned the reputation as the biggest travelling failure of the summer.

GNR and Skid Row operated on a 70% of tickets sold tour.

Lollapalooza blitzed all comers.

The shift was happening.

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

Revisionist History when it comes to Metallica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZZ Top hit the mainstream with Eliminator.

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

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

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

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

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

History is written by the winners.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Thin Lizzy – Cold Sweat – Classic Song to be discovered

I am a big fan of John Sykes.  It was the Whitesnake 1987 album that had me converted.   It was very guitar heavy and I loved it.  I was dismayed when I found out he got fired from the band before the album was released.  I couldn’t even stand to watch Adrian Vandenberg and Vivian Campbell pose around like they where the creators of the music.

So I started to ask people about John Sykes and no one could answer me.  This is in 1988.  There was no Google.  There was no internet.  You had to find out this information by yourself.  I then picked up a magazine of Metal Edge and I saw the information I needed.  Metal Edge was sold in Australia for $10, so it was an expensive purchase.

The article spoke about John Sykes and his new band, Blue Murder.  It also mentioned his beginnings.  Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy.

The record shop was next door to the newsagent.  I went in and of course in the hard rock / heavy metal section there was no Thin Lizzy album that had John Sykes playing on it.  Nor did it have any Tygers of Pan Tang.  Regardless I was on a mission to find out more.  That is how super fans are made.  We needed to know more about the artists we liked, so we went searching, we asked people, we spread their name.  I asked the lady at the counter if she can tell me what albums John Sykes played on with Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang.  She gave me this look.  Was I speaking a different language apart from English.  I mentioned the album, Whitesnake.  I pulled it from the hard rock section to show her the guitarist.  She answered back, “who cares, he is only the guitarist.  He doesn’t even matter.”  Doesn’t matter.  I go to her, “what instrument makes music”.  She answers back “the guitar”.  Enough said.  I knew I was going to get anywhere with her.

Imagine my surprise when my cousin Mega called me to tell me he picked up Tygers Of Pan Tang – Spellbound and Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning for me for $5 each from a second-hand record shop and that John Sykes plays on those albums.  I was on the train to Sydney (a 90 minute journey) in a heartbeat.

Cold Sweat.  It’s written by John Sykes and Phil Lynott.  It’s the only one on the album that has a John Sykes co-write.  The riff is heavy and sleazy.   Phil Lynott’s vocals reek of desperation.  It was like he really owed some money to a mafia style bookie.  The lead section from John Sykes, confirmed my suspicions.  He wasn’t plucked from out of nowhere by David Coverdale, he was paying his dues.    He nails so many different styles, and also makes it sound human.

Stone cold sober and stone cold sweat running down the back of my neck.  

The Thin Lizzy influence on John Sykes would re-surface in later years, especially the Phil Lynott style of lyric writing and vocal line delivery.  We All Fall Down from Blue Murder’s – Nothing But Trouble comes to mind immediately.

Here it now.  Revisit a classic song.

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