Uncategorized

This Is Love, This Is Life – The Story Of The Greatest Hits Package

The story of the Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits” album goes back to 2007. At that time, Jon was very interested in developing the country rock sound that he experimented with on the unexpected hit single, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” which was featured on the 2005 album, “Have A Nice Day”. The label, Universal Music wasn’t interested in allowing Jon to follow his muse, and instead wanted a “Greatest Hits” package from the band.

Jon Bon Jovi rang Lucian Grainge, the CEO of Universal Music, asking for approval to go ahead with the recording of the country rock album that would go on to become “Lost Highway”. In the end, Grainge couldn’t stop Jon from going ahead with the album; however he believed that it would lose Universal a lot of money. He made Jon promise that once the album bombs, Jon will deliver a “Greatest Hits” album. Jon agreed to the terms. The album’s success surprised both Bon Jovi and Grainge, and the “Lost Highway” world tour ran from October 25, 2007 to July 15, 2008. It grossed in total $189,106,454.

After the “Lost Highway” tour, Jon and Richie got together and started writing five songs for the promised “Greatest Hits” package that was to come next. Then the global financial crisis happened, and according to Richie Sambora, he and Jon just continued writing more than the required amount of songs needed for the “Greatest Hits” package. Another argument was put forward to the label to release a new album, which in turn would postpone the “Greatest Hits” release again. From the songs written, most of them would end up on “The Circle” album, with five songs left over for the “Greatest Hits” package.

The “Greatest Hits” release in October 2010, occurred while the band was still touring on “The Circle” album cycle. The “Circle Tour” started on the February 11, 2010 and finished on December 19, 2010. It grossed $201,100,000 and each show was sold out. With the release of the “Greatest Hits” package, it gave the band further momentum to hit the road again in 2011.

“WHAT DO YOU GOT”

Everybody needs just one, someone… to tell them the truth

“What Do You Got,” written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Brett James, became the first single from the Greatest Hits package. Jon always liked to work with other songwriters. Brett James is a new addition to the Bon Jovi team, and “What Do You Got” is the end result. Brett’s specialty is country, as well as crossing over into the pop world,; similar to what Mutt Lange and Shania Twain achieved.

Jon told Billboard magazine that he actually favoured “No Apologies” to be the lead-off single and that “What Do You Got” was his least favourite.

The message is simple: “what do you have if you don’t have love, because if you don’t have love whatever you do have, just isn’t enough.” A lot of people go searching for something that was always right next to them and in the end they burn the ones they love the most.

“NO APOLOGIES”

Seems like everybody’s selling you dreams ’round here
But no one’s buying and its closing time

This is a song written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and the message is simple:. “Do not apologise for who you are, it’s your life, live it the way you want to live it and not by another person’s design. Don’t back down from your beliefs.”

If the lyrical theme sounds familiar, it’s because the smash hit “It’s My Life” has the same message.

This is a song that should have been on The Circle as well. It was a leader. Houses went up for sale, and when no one was interested in buying them, the banks came in and foreclosed. The ownership dream was foreclosed on.

“THIS IS LOVE, THIS IS LIFE”

We ain’t got much but what we got is all that matters

It’s written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and producer John Shanks. Producers are the unsung heroes in the music industry.

John Shanks, at first is a guitarist. He toured with Melissa Etheridge before he then started writing songs for other artist and eventually fell into Producing. He is experienced and seasoned. Shanks has been Bon Jovi’s producer since 2004. Another notable credit to Shanks’s name is the production credits for Van Halen’s, “A Different Kind Of Truth”, their comeback album with David Lee Roth.

To prove a point about the unsung hero status of producers, ask anyone, who produced, Bon Jovi’s – “Slippery When Wet”, Aerosmith’s – “Permanent Vacation” and AC/DC’s – “The Razors Edge”?

Ninety- nine percent of those people would not be able to tell you. The answer is Bruce Fairbairn. He resurrected Aerosmith’s career in the eighties, as well as AC/DC’s career in the nineties after falling album sales since “Back In Black”. In Bon Jovi’s timeline, Bruce launched the band to the masses. However, the songs remain, the band remains and the producer is long forgotten.

“This Is Love, This Is Life”, is not all that original. You can say that it is derivative, a variation of “Livin’ On A Prayer”; however it is that exact duplication that works for this song. “Livin’ On A Prayer” talks about sticking together, loving each other and if we hold true to those ideals, we will make it in the end.

Coming out of the Global Financial Crisis, this is the song Bon Jovi should have had on “The Circle”. This is the song that mattered. A lot of people didn’t have much left. Many people where picking up the pieces again and trying to rebuild their lives. Everybody was affected by the crisis,. All they had left was the realisation that this is it.

This is life. We rise, we fall and we rise again.

Back in the sixties, people turned to music for answers with the artists leading the way. Somehow all of that got lost in the changes that occurred in the music business. Artists went from leaders to followers. The “middle-finger-to-the-establishment/you-can’t–tell-me-what-to-do” artist, put on a three-piece suit and made friends with Wall Street. Music was relegated to a second-class citizen.

The world needed an artist to lead the way again.

This is what people wanted to hear post GFC. This is what they wanted their heroes in music to tell them: “It’s going to be alright. We will tough it out. We will keep the fight alive and we will rebuild what we started.”

Music needed to be a leader again. The song has the talk box throughout, like “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “It’s My Life.” The chords in the chorus are the same as the two aforementioned songs, just in a different key.

Bon Jovi had the song to lead the way, but they didn’t have the vision. They left the vision in the hands of the record label. The song appeared on their “Greatest Hits” compilation; however, it was on the two discs “Ultimate Edition”, buried away as the second last track on disc two. Anyone that purchased the single disc edition missed out on this song, unless they purchased the song via iTunes, as a single track.

“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE”

‘Stead of records, now it’s MP3s

This song is “Someday, I’ll Be Saturday Night”, part two. The vocal melodies and the chord progression in the verses are identical. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

Jon has a history of recycling formulas that work. For example, “Livin’ On A Prayer” was rewritten and it became “It’s My Life,” which was rewritten again as “This Is Love, This Is Life.” The rock star to cowboy themed “Wanted Dead or Alive” was rewritten and it became “Blaze of Glory.”

The message in “The More Things Change” is simply. It doesn’t matter how much the world changes around us, people are still the same. We still listen to music. Instead of records, the radio, CD’s or cassettes, its MP3’s. We still wear our same tattered jeans from the past, and then when they rip, we pay top dollar to buy replicas. We download digitally, instead of going to the record store to purchase.

“THIS IS MY HOUSE”

This is our house
These are my people, listen, this is my town

This Is My House was only included as an iTunes bonus edition. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child.

In Australia, the song was used as the theme song for the National Rugby League in the 2011 season. Jon Bon Jovi, even appeared in the advertisements for the game.

It has been said that the song was intended as a theme song for the Philadelphia Soul, an American Football team where Bon Jovi is a co-owner (and Richie Sambora is a minor owner). It could also be about the Bon Jovi fans, and that the house, is the concert hall or stadium where the band is playing.

Regardless, the song is written for the people to sing. It’s basic, it’s catchy, it’s the battle cry in the rally.

THE MUSICAL LANDSCAPE

In an interview with Larry King that aired on December 9, 2010, Jon Bon Jovi was very open about his feelings towards the changing landscape of the music business and social media.

“My business is not what we knew. I do believe that the record industry will rediscover itself in time – not now, but in 10 or 15 years from now the kids that own those social media networks, I think that they’ll take those catalogues of music and monetize them. But not now. I don’t believe that the old guard are ready to give up those catalogues to those guys. And they’re still holding to an old, antiquated model.”

Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres mentioned the same in a December 9, 2010 interview with Paul Cashmere that ran on Undercover.fm.

“We are still on a major label but we can see the writing on the wall. Part of the problem, is that the old model doesn’t work in the current world. It was a conglomerate machine that was invented many years ago which in essence owned and manipulated bands but also gave bands a chance to get some upfront money that was again recoupable. The companies always made a lot of money of it. It got to a point where the price of records were so dear for the buying public that as soon as the internet came in there was there was another avenue for people to listen to music”.

THE GREATEST HITS TOUR

Taking a break for the Christmas period and January, the band was back on the road again beginning February 9, 2011.

“The Bon Jovi Live” tour took in the United States, Canada and Europe, with the final last show played on July 31, 2011.

Jon has stated numerous times that he doesn’t like to tour for long periods of time. The tour was used to promote the new songs. Songs like “We Weren’t Born To Follow,” “When We Were Beautiful,” “ Work For The Working Man,” “No Apologies” and “What Do You Got” were talked up during the shows, selectively placed between all the hits.

All shows on the tour sold out, with 1.5 million people attending. It grossed $142,977,988.

WHO KILLED THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

The Greatest Hits tour wasn’t without incident. Apart from doing big business again at the box office, certain band members found themselves at the centre of a controversy.

First up, Jon Bon Jovi, blamed Steve Jobs for the fact that people don’t buy records any more.

According to Jon, “Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it…. God, it was a magical, magical time… I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: ‘What happened?’ Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business.”

It looks like Jon was taking a page out of the Lady Gaga book of marketing, by using the press and the internet, to bring attention to himself. This cuts out the marketing team and the dollars that go into marketing.

If the comments were meant to bring attention to the band and it’s tour, it sure did, as the tech heavy internet users, quickly took to forums and blogs to blast Jon’s comments on this issue.

A lot of people put forward the question, “What about people who bought the album based on the jacket and it turned out to be crap?”. From a fan perspective, this rings true. The album format was always designed for the money. It doesn’t fit the modern world, however it remains because the artists and labels believed it is the only way they can make money.

To stay in the public eye is the new challenge. An artist can be flavour of the day and then be gone the next day in the current paradigm.

Jon’s comments about the old album system, is his way to stay in the public eye. He doesn’t want to be forgotten. He wanted a reaction and a reaction is what he got. Of course by the next day, it was all done and dusted, however for one day, he was the flavour of the month.

While Jon might be better off releasing a song a week, trying out different ways to connect with his audience, the truth is that he longs for the old way. The labels don’t want the old way to change, as that is why they released an album for $20, forcing people to pay top dollar for one good song. When people had the option to purchase what they wanted, album sales began to fall and digital singles soared. The fans have spoken: they don’t have time to hear bad music, only great music.

HELLO REHAB, SO NICE TO SEE YOU MY FRIEND

Another incident, and an unexpected one, was Richie Sambora leaving the tour in April, to check into rehab. Richie had already spent a month in rehab back in 2007, following the break-up of his marriage, the end of his high profile fling with Denise Richards and the death of his father from lung cancer; all within the same month. The reason for the trip to rehab was Richie’s love of alcohol.

The interesting part in all of this, is that Jon Bon Jovi decided to continue with the tour and play the shows with another guitarist, Phil X. Phil’s real name is Theofilos Xenidis. He is from Canada and his relationship with Jon Bon Jovi goes back to 1991 and Aldo Nova’s, “Blood on the Bricks” album that Jon Bon Jovi produced and co-wrote for Jambco.

Actually Phil X, didn’t even play a note on the album, however he did tour behind it, and the tour involved guest appearances by Jon Bon Jovi.

In that same year, Phil played with Jon and Tico on an Elton John tribute album.

Moving on from that, Phil became the go-to guitarist for producer Scott Humphrey. Phil had a job, painting the garage of Scott’s, and when Tommy Lee needed a guitar player for the Methods of Mayhem project, Scott recommended Phil. Phil took the shot and never looked back. Instead of playing on one song, he played on the whole album.

His ability on the guitar far outstrip Richie’s, though one can make the case that – as a songwriter – Richie is irreplaceable. In the end, that is what matters.

Jon said that cancelling the shows was never an option; and that a lot of people that work on putting the show together would be out of work, and that fans who booked tickets, air fares and hotels to the shows, would also be disadvantaged.

This led to speculation about the morale as fans questioned how brotherly it all is in the Bon Jovi camp. Jon is renowned for using the “brother” tag a lot when it comes to describing the relationship between the members, though this is seemingly contradicted by calling himself the CEO of Bon Jovi. The last comment made by Jon on the departure of Richie’s departure is that the show will always go on, as he is not beholden to no one.

The shows went well without Richie. Some fans complained, however it was clear, Phil X did a fantastic job. Even an MCL strain suffered by Jon on his left knee in June couldn’t stop the juggernaut of the Bon Jovi show. After surgery, Jon finished the remainder of the tour with a knee brace.

Richie even re-joined the tour in June and by July, 31, 2011, the tour had ended. That same month, Spotify launched in the U.S.

SPOTIFY

The rise of music stream technologies was a game changer in 2011. Spotify launched in July 2011 in the U.S. Prior to the U.S. launch, Spotify was dominant in the European market, especially in Sweden where it was first launched.

For Spotify to do business in the U.S, it needed to get approvals from the Big 4 labels (Universal Music Group, Sony, Warner Music and EMI). The labels are not known for their innovation, and when it came to technologies, they did their best to kill off any technology that threatened their bottom lines. However, Daniel Ek, the Spotify mastermind, surrendered half of the company to the labels and by doing so; Spotify was approved by the Big 4 to do business in the U.S.

The arrival of Spotify in the U.S. market changed the recorded music business model again. It challenged the ownership of music ideals and by doing so it put forward the rental (streaming) of music argument.

The main point is this; if a fan buys a song from the iTunes store or a CD from the Amazon store, that is where the transaction begins and concludes for the band. It is the exchange model of handing money over to receive a good. The fan owns the product. They can listen to the songs over a thousand times and the band has only transacted once with the fan which was back at the money exchange.

However, if a fan, streams a song from a band, they can stream the same song again. Each time a song is streamed, the band gets paid. The transactions between fan and band never cease in a streaming model. The relationship between fan and music never ends.

The argument from labels and artists is that Spotify streams don’t amount to a lot. The main issue with that line of thinking is that the labels and artists are looking at the now. Everyone wants to be paid now, and they want to be paid a lot. Streaming is about longevity. Streaming is digging the hole for piracy. People will always pirate; that is a given.

However, if fans of music are faced with a better legal alternative, then they will take it. Spotify free has ad’s but it is free. If you don’t want the ad’s, you buy a premium package.

Bon Jovi (the band), needed to rethink their strategy. The band has always favoured the old model, of spending three to six months recording a new album, releasing that album, using sledgehammer mainstream marketing and touring for a year and a half on it. The point of the tour was to also push the new album, hoping that it would drive sales of it. They still measured their success on how many full albums were sold.

Towards the end of 2011 the band released their Bon Jovi app on iTunes and Android. It was a pretty basic application; however, it was their first step into new territory: Technology.

Standard
Uncategorized

Bon Jovi – ANZ Stadium, December 14, 2013

The rain stayed away. When I left the “Gong” with my wife and two boys, the rain was coming down hard. Driving for 30 minutes, the sun came out. After driving for two hours to get to the venue, the sun was still out and it was very humid. This is my boys second concert. The first one being the Kiss and Motley Crue “Monster” tour of Australia in April this year.

Before we left for the trip, I went onto Setlist.fm and made up a playlist for our trip up to the venue. I assumed that since Melbourne and Sydney are treated more or less the same in relation to how overseas acts see the two cities, that the set lists would be very similar. And they were. Basically we listened to the set as we where driving up.

So we get to Homebush and apart from the normal rips’ like $25 parking, $50 a top (which meant I handed over $150 to merchandise) and $15 for a chips, drink and sausage roll deal, the first thing I noticed was the stage design. Seeing the stage design in pictures or on fan filmed YouTube footage doesn’t do it justice. It is a great concept and a great idea.

It is fitting that they opened up with the best song from the “What About Now” album. “That’s What the Water Made Me” is the only tune they should be pushing from that new album. It took the mixer crew about 3 seconds to realise that they needed to press a button so that the rest of the stadium hears the sound. So you can say that the start didn’t have the WOW factor.

That’s what the water made me That’s who I am and what I’ll be

We can’t change how we are made, how we have grown up and what we believe in. Of course we can adapt to situations and sometimes we can fake a different personality but in the end, we all fall back to how we were made and what we are.

This world, it’s cracked and crazy
Say one of your pretty prayers for me
No roles in the garden? Or Wishing well?

Life is no Garden of Eden. It never was and it never will be. We have copyright granted monopolies fighting hard to control the internet. We have people working 12 hour days just to see all of their money go to the mortgage, to the utility companies and just to basic survival goods. At night, we might feel better saying a pretty prayer, but that is all it is. The World is cracked and Crazy.

So after opening up with a new one, they went back to 1986 with two classics “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Raise Your Hands” from the “Slippery When Wet” album.

Both songs are designed for the live show and they work a treat. While “You Give Love A Band Name” gets people singing, “Raise Your Hands” gets people moving, with 50,000 plus hands raised as one each time the Chorus hit.

Then we had “Lost Highway” and “Whole Lot of Leavin'” from 2007’s “Lost Highway” album. While “Lost Highway” has become a live staple of the Bon Jovi show, I cant say that “Whole Lot of Leavin'” deserves the same treatment. I am sure a better song could have been inserted, like “Runaway” or “In And Out Of Love” or my personal favourite “This Is Love, This Is Life.”

The next song was a cover of the Bob Seger classic “Old Time Rock & Roll” with Kid Rock assisting, along with his backing singers and sax player. Watching the performance on the big screen, the camera dude really focused on the bouncy chest of Jessie Wagner, who was one of Kid Rock’s back up singers.

“It’s My Life” from the “Crush” album was next and apart from the missing 10 second talk box and some other sound problems, the song was another sing along anthem for the crowd.

“Because We Can” and “What About Now” came next. I really don’t like “Because We Can” and when Jon tried to get the crowd to sing it back to him towards the end, he was more or less greeted with silence. It just didn’t connect. “What About Now” however is a good song, however when it is put up against the other Bon Jovi songs, it doesn’t look that good anymore.

“We Got It Goin’ On” is a real damn good song from the “Lost Highway” album with a real sleazy groove happening. It is a great song for the live show.

Is there anybody out there looking for a party? Yeah!!

Any song that starts off with that opening lyric, is designed purely for the concert. It is the call and response. A great pick me up after the lackluster double whammy from the new album.

“Keep the Faith” didn’t hit the mark. Jon really struggled with the Gm key of the song. However, the outro jam session between the band sure made up for the vocal shortcomings.

The next four songs, was the toilet break and drink break period of the concert. As much as Jon is trying to rewrite the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah” with “Amen” it just doesn’t hit the mark. I made a mention to my wife the amount of people walking toward the exit doors to stock up on booze when the song started.

So “Amen” was followed by “Someday I’ll Be A Saturday Night” in an acoustic format which was followed by “Diamond Ring” and the very underrated “(You Want to) Make a Memory”. From the catalogue of songs that Bon Jovi has, the 4 song acoustic part of the show was a let down.

However, they finished the set strong. “Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars”, “Born to Be My Baby”, “We Weren’t Born to Follow” all followed.

“Who Says You Can’t Go Home” came next, followed by “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” that had a great medley of “Great Balls of Fire”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Wipe Out” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” which showcased the vocal chops of fill in guitarist, “Phil X”.

Since AC/DC are Aussie legends, you can’t go wrong when you cover AccaDacca. Even Billy Joel covered AC/DC for his Stone Festival performance, playing “Long Way To The Top”.

“Bad Medicine” finished off the set (also with a small detour that included “Oh, Pretty Woman”.

I saw that for the second Melbourne show, Bon Jovi played “Dry County” which is my favourite Bon Jovi track by far and I was hoping that would be the case in Sydney.

So when the opening chords for “In These Arms” kicked off the encore, I guessed it wasn’t to be. “Wanted Dead or Alive” followed, this time without the usual Richie Sambora acoustic theatrics to kick it off. Finally the night ended with “Have a Nice Day” and of course “Livin’ on a Prayer”. We (along with the other 50,000 plus crowd) sung the last two songs that hard and for long parts of those songs the crowd drowned out Jon’s actual vocals.

So did the audience miss Richie Sambora? As much as it pains me to say it, NO, he wasn’t missed. Apart from about 5 poorly selected song choices, it was a solid set, with the actual songs as the STARS. No one cared who wrote the songs.

Will Bon Jovi do the same numbers again if they return with the current incarnation of the band? My view is NO. Watching some of the facials and the way Jon was carrying himself, it is like he knew this could be the last time Bon Jovi graces Australia.

Was it an enjoyable night? It was. The looks on my kids faces was worth it. I still would have loved to see some of the earlier stuff, as well as the “This Is Love, This Is Life.”

Thanks for the 30 years, let’s hope that the Richie Sambora issues get all sorted for a return performance, (hopefully it will be easier on the pocket).

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

The old rock star is dead. Its time to create a new rock star that is a product of the times

Influences/Inspiration

Nobody exists in a vacuum. Inspiration comes from what you read, watch and experience.  Inspiration is the merging of these experiences and influences into something new. When Metallica came on the scene they were inspired and influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They were influenced by Punk. They were inspired and influenced by Classic Rock. They were excited and this made them nervous. Nerves made them play faster.

When Black Sabbath came on the scene they were originally influenced by the Blues. Just another blues band among the many blues bands doing the rounds at that time. Then they applied their gloomy industrial upbringing and the rest is history.

Experience

Inspiration doesn’t take place in a vacuum. All day long you are experiencing.

Could Nikki Sixx have written Kick Start My Heart if he didn’t experience death and life? Could James Hetfield have written The Unforgiven if he was brought up in a wealthy household that didn’t have Christian Science beliefs? Could Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi have written Wanted Dead Or Alive if they never toured? Could Dee Snider have written We’re Not Gonna Take It, if he was rich?

If you think you can write a hit song with no prior experience, you’re dreaming.  Our whole life is information. Be ready to reference it.  Trust your first initial feeling.

Sign Of The Times

Don’t get caught up in doing things in the old way. Today’s medium is the Internet. No one wants to hear new music from their favourite artist every two years. We surf the net each day, looking for new music and information.  If there is a demand for your music, you should create and distribute constantly.

The days when we used to have very little music are over. The days of saving up to buy an album and the playing the same album over and over again are also gone.  Now, we’ve got the history of recorded music at our fingertips. YouTube has everything that you want, Spotify has almost everything that you could want and if all of that fails cyber lockers and The Pirate Bay fill the void.

Product Of The Times

The old rock star is dead. Its time to create a new rock star that is a product of the times. Keep innovating.  Embrace the new reality that is being born. Stop playing by the rules of the Classic Rock artists.

Look at the band Heartist. When they formed, they decided that they would not play by the old rules of playing as many gigs as possible just to get noticed.  They decided to not play by the old rules of guaranteeing promoters 50 presales for each gig (which more or less meant, the band either had to beg people to come to their show that didn’t want to be there or they basically paid to play).  They decided to write songs.  They decided to keep on writing. They started posting demos on YouTube. They started building a buzz. The songs had quality. People started to spread them, share them, talk about them. They played ONE gig and got signed by Roadrunner and management.

What Does Music and Success Mean These Days?

Music is for the fans. Music is for the people. Music is not for a record executive to make billions so that they can compete with the Forbes 100 Rich List.  If you want to be in the music business, you need to focus on what music means. Be inspired! Create!  You have to practice, be original and wait for your moment, when you have to deliver.

Def Leppard’s Hysteria was out for over a year before it exploded on the back of the Love Bites single. A sleeper hit that no one saw coming. If the song is really damn good it will get people’s attention.

If you want success, you need to get people’s attention. If you want success you need to work hard and don’t plan for it. If you want success, practice and be ready to turn that inspiration into a product.  If you want success, you need to know that you have no control over what spreads and what doesn’t. Don’t judge the success of your project straight away. Success is always ten steps behind. It takes a while for it to happen.  Don’t just the success of your project in dollar terms. Success is about laying a solid foundation and building on it.

Your music has to be accessible. It needs to make an instant impact. Fans do not have the time to spend on letting an album sink into our brain like the old ways. These days there are so many options and people don’t endure that which is not pleasing to them, They move on. Repetition is not an artist’s friend in the current times. The life span of a song is different these days.

Most of the time you get one shot for each new fan. It is that one time when people will hear what you have created. One time where you need to satisfy them, so that they can respond and share.

Today, you need to have that one unbelievable cut, that makes the people need to hear it over and over again. That one cut that makes the people want to go and find out more about you.

Whether it be Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, Dio’s “Holy Diver”, Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”, Kiss “Lick It Up”, Shinedown’s “Second Chance” or Metallica’s’ “One”. It works in every genre of music.

Connections

Artists can go straight to their audience, there are no restrictions. Artists by now should know that their career depends on building a loyal relationship with as many fans as possible. In order to build relationships, you need to get people’s attention. You need to find a way to be heard over all the noise.

Standing Out – Visuals and Music

You want to be remembered. You want to be talked about. How can you achieve that? Society is a visual culture. That is why we watch TV shows, movies, take pictures and film ourselves.

Why do you think, when you see a preview for a new movie coming out, the studio marketeers have music with it? Why do you think TV shows and movies have soundtracks? They are re-enforcing the visuals with music, as people take more notice when that happens. If people notice they will talk about.

Putting your music with visuals is a big step forward to getting people’s attention. How many times have you walked out of a movie, thinking, what a tough score. I just watched World War Z and I loved the track that Muse did for it.  Man Of Steel had an unbelievable score by Hans Zimmer, that captured the emotion in each scene. It was also inspiring and uplifting. I still remember the preview to the Captain America movie, where they had the music (46&2) from Tool playing and that was almost three years ago.

Standing Out – Opinions

No artist can please everyone. So don’t try. All artists stand for something. If you write a song that is anti-(insert topic here), you will alienate some, and connect more with others. When people get fired up (via positive or negative feelings) they pay attention.

Standing Out – Different = Success

If you look at all of your heroes, they are there for a reason. They are different. When they came on the scene, they were different. Twisted Sister was different to all the other bands in the Eighties in how they dressed and looked. Their style was a combination of AC/DC style rock, mixed with Judas Priest metal, with a dose of punk chucked in. Metallica was different to all the metal and rock bands when they came onto the scene. Motley Crue was different to all the new wave music that was popular at the time. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were all different to the Eighties Glam Rock movement. Black Sabbath was different to all the hippie folk music at the time.

Different also includes doing cover versions of popular songs. Take jazz songs and turn them into rock songs. Take pop songs and make them into rock songs.  The original artist’s fans will be curious to hear these versions.  Led Zeppelin did a lot of covers, Metallica the same. Van Halen had cover songs on their first five albums. Motley Crue did Smokin In The Boys Room and Helter Skelter.

What Does It Mean to be an Artist Today?

You don’t want to be an artist that becomes who others want them to be. You don’t want to be an artist that whores themselves out to make money. You don’t want to be an artist that does what they have to do to keep the status quo.

It’s okay to not be liked by everybody.

Real artists don’t believe in conforming. Real artists stay true to who they are. Real artists play to their fans and allow the fans to talk about them. Do not change for all the new people that could tag along to your success train, that’s death. You need to keep playing to the hard core fan base. A great artist is someone who leads us into the unknown who we can’t help but follow.

Dream Theater is one artist that comes to mind, that did it their way or the hard way. Signed as a progressive band, they released When Dream and Day Unite, which the label ignored and then went on a long search for a vocalist. When Pull Me Under got traction on MTV and Radio, the band was then a commercial prospect for the label. So the label now wants more crossover songs, and this lead to the issues with the label around the Falling Into Infinity project. After that the band stayed true to who they are and they have grown with each album and are more successful now than ever.

Standard
Music

What made Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet Explode?

What made Slippery When Wet explode?

A lot of people credit Bruce Fairbairn for it.  Others credit the influence of Desmond Child, while others would credit the sound engineering and mix by Bob Rock.  Others put it down to Jon and Richie finally finding their niche as songwriters and finally others put it down to the Pizza Parlour Jury.   Could it have been the labels release schedule and marketing plan?  Could it have been that the scene needed a shake up and this album was right time, right place?

First let’s put into context where the band was at in 1985.  They had just finished a nine-month world tour for 7800 Degrees Fahrenheit.  The band was in debt to the record label for a couple of million bucks.  The guys where living at their mom and dad’s, and wrote most of the songs for Slippery When Wet in Richie’s mom’s basement. 

There is a common myth that once a band is signed, they are showered with untold riches and that they have money coming out of their arse.  That is so far from the truth.   Bon Jovi where in debt and they were lucky that the label gave them a third chance.

From the 90’s onwards, labels didn’t give bands three chances.  One chance was all they had.  If they failed they will get someone else.   These days the labels are irrelevant.  They need to compete on a playing field where the rules change at the same rate technology changes and to be honest, they are so out of touch, it’s almost laughable watching them trying to hold on to the old way of doing things. 

Let’s start with Bruce Fairbairn.  Before he started doing Slippery he was coming off a multi-platinum run of releases with Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite, plus a Gold release with Krokus.   According to Paul Dean from Loverboy, Bruce is super organized.  He charts everything out and every song is broken into parts. 

Slippery would go on to multi – multi platinum sales and New Jersey (also produced by Bruce would do the same).  From Slippery, Bruce would move on to Aerosmith.  Permanent Vacation, Pump and Get A Grip all went multi – multi platinum.  He resurrected AC/DC’s career with the 5x platinum The Razors Edge after a steady decline in sales after Back In Black.  It is safe to say that Bruce had a certain knack for getting the best out of the artists he produced.  His track record is envious to say the least.

Then you have Desmond Child.  

Jon and Richie wanted to write with another song writer, so that other people can perform the songs.  Jon heard Tina Turner singing a song that Bryan Adams had written and wanted to do the same.  That is how Desmond Child came on the scene.  However the plan got skewed, as the songs that came out of those sessions where that good, that it was decided they will be kept for Jovi instead.

The first song Jon and Richie wrote with Desmond in Richie’s mother’s basement was “The Edge Of A Broken Heart”.  The second song they wrote was “You Give Love A Bad Name” by referencing a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler called If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man).  The melodies and chord progressions are very similar.

He used the story of his 70’s girlfriend, Maria Vidal who used to work a diner and was called Gina, for Livin On A Prayer.  In interviews, Richie has stated that Jon didn’t want the song on the album, while Richie was trying to convince him it was the best song they had.

I’d Die For You and Without Love where two other songs penned by Jon, Richie and Desmond.  I’d Die For You even has a cult status as a fan favourite.  Desmond brought the pop side to Bon Jovi’s form of hard rock, glam metal overtones. 

The engineer and mixer Bob Rock 

Jon heard Honeymoon Suite’s The Big Prize (another Bruce and Bob production) and that sealed the deal for Bon Jovi to also seek out Bob Rock.

The Pizza Parlour Jury

When Jon and Riche were making the demos in New Jersey, they would go across the street to the pizza parlour. They would ask a bunch of kids to hear some stuff.   As Richie puts it, “It was like a marketing test .  They came in and said, “Yeah, we like this one. This one gets through and that one doesn’t.”

They sure needed it as they wrote a truck load of songs.  Apart from the 10 songs that ended up on the album, other songs that never made it include;

Never Enough For You, Borderline, Edge Of A Broken Heart, Heat Of The Night, Give My Heart, Lonely Is The Night, Too Much Too Soon, Game Of The Heart, Deep Cuts The Night, Stand Up, Walk Don’t Run, Out of Bounds, There Is No Answer, Promise, Take Me All.

Bouncing songs off different independent ears that are not related to the band, helped Bon Jovi focus on the songs that where stronger.

Polygram Records

Doc McGhee the Bon Jovi manager at the time has stated that putting out a record at the right time is very important.  He further mentioned that the label looked at what other labels where releasing and picked a window where there was nothing really there competing against it.

August was the month that was selected and competing against Slippery When Wet where other August releases from Motorhead – Orgasmatron, Vinnie Vincent – Invasion, Warlock – True As Steel and Great White – Shot In The Dark. 

If it was released in July, it would have been up against DLR’s – Eat Em and Smile for listeners’ attention.   If it was released in June, it would have had to compete against Queen – A Kind of Magic, Genesis – Invisible Touch, Rod Stewart – Every Beat of My Heart, Madonna – True Blue and Cinderella – Night Songs.  If it was released in May as originally intended, it would have been up against AC/DC – Who Made Who, Journey – Raised on Radio and Europe – The Final Countdown. 

The Album

Let It Rock kicks it off Side 1.

The weekend comes to this town
Seven days too soon
For the ones who have to make up
What we break up of their rules

This song is written purely for the concert experience.  That is foresight in itself.  Apart from delivering a good album of songs, Jon and Richie are mindful of how they will go down live.  The song is about rebellion, getting that fist pumping in the air, just to let your hair down on the weekend.  Much like Loverboy’s Working for The Weekend.  But in this case the rock is a fire that is burning out of control.  Another analogy to melting rock temperatures (7800 degrees Fahrenheit).  It’s funny where Let It Rock has that keyboard intro, Lay Your Hands On Me from New Jersey, is almost identical riff wise to Let It Rock and it has that long drum intro.  It must be a Bruce thing, as even Turn Me Loose had a long keyboard intro.  A good start by the Jon and Richie song writing team.

“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darling you give love a bad name.”  The iconic a capella chorus.  Then the band kicks in and Richie does his vocal melody lead until they start the strip bar sleazy verse riff.

I remember when I saw the clip, I was glued to my TV screen.  I never got the name of the song and I thought it was called Shot Through The Heart, so I purchased the cassette album that had the song Shot Through The Heart.   Of course that was the wrong song.  Right band, but wrong song.   The clincher for me was the chorus part after the guitar solo, where it’s just the voice and the drums (sort of reminded me of Queen’s We Will Rock You).  You Give Love A Bad Name was the one that got the door opened and once the band unleashed Livin On A Prayer, the band started selling 700,000 records a month.    It also featured the song writing talents of Desmond Child, who borrowed the vocal melody and chords from a song he wrote for Bonnie Tyler, called If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man).

Livin On A Prayer was the song that Jon wasn’t even sure should be on the album. 

Bob Lefsetz posted that Livin On A Prayer is where Bon Jovi got the girls and that is what has kept the band going.  He aint wrong there and Jon knew that, hence the reason why he rewrote the song over and over again for each album that came after.   New Jersey had Born To Be My Baby (again a co-write with Desmond Child).  Keep The Faith had the title track (the chorus chord progression is identical, except in a different key and again a co-write with Desmond Child).  These Days had Hey God, Crush had Its My Life (Max Martin comes into the fold now), Bounce and Have A Nice Day had the title tracks.  The Circle had We Weren’t Born To Follow and the Greatest Hits had This is Love, This is Life.  For What About Now, the whole album is following the themes from Livin On A Prayer.  If you are on a winning formula, do it right again and you will hit pay dirt.

Tommy used to work on the docks
Union’s been on strike
He’s down on his luck…it’s tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day
Working for her man, she brings home her pay
For love – for love

It’s a movie in words.  Life is tough but as long as we love each other, we will be okay.  A lot of people were not okay, but Livin On A Prayer made them feel that they were, as Tommy and Gina were also living the same life they were living.    

Social Disease is the pure filler that needed to be written so that Bad Medicine could be written. 

So you telephone your doctor
Just to see what pill to take
You know there’s no prescription
Gonna wipe this one away

In never should have ended up on Slippery.  Edge of A Broken Heart is far superior.  I know that Jon apologised for that omission.  To be honest the song never had a chance with the listeners coming off three winners already.  It was a poor song from the Jon and Richie team.  At least they made up for it in the next song.

Wanted Dead or Alive was the 80’s version of Turn The Page which Jon more or less copied again for the Young Guns soundtrack and had another number one hit in Blaze of Glory with a cool Jeff Beck solo.    Wanted was written by Jon and Richie.  This song didn’t reach number one, but it is a number one song.  A cult classic.  A radio staple.  When the song was released as a single, the multi-million fan base had already digested it.  They didn’t need to buy the single to make it No. 1.  It was already that in their hearts and minds.      

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it’s not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways

Life on the road is just that.  I am just finishing off reading a Randy Rhoads bio, and it’s pretty clear that Randy started to hate the road.  He wanted to quit Ozzy’s band and study classical music.  He worked his whole life to achieve rock stardom and now that he had it, he was going to give it all up to follow his dream of classical music.  Sadly he never got there.  That is another thing that seems to be forgotten, the road also kills. 

Raise Your Hands (Let It Rock part 2) kicks off side 2.  Another Jon and Richie composition.  The motto of this song is simply.  Come to the show, raise your hands and get wild.  It doesn’t repeat what Let It Rock started, it takes it into overdrive. 

Raise your hands
When you want to let it go
Raise your hands
And you want to let a feeling show

Without Love is the second track after Raise Your Hands on side 2.  This was a Jon, Richie and Des composition and is forgettable.  The first side was pretty much spot on, that it was hard to get into Side 2.    

I saw a man down on lonely street
A broken man who looked like me
And no one knows the pain that he’s been living
He lost his love and still hasn’t forgiven

I’d Die for You is another Jon, Richie and Des composition.  It has become a cult classic for Bon Jovi, with fans hoping that it gets played each night, like Runaway. 

I might not be a savior
And I’ll never be a king
I might not send you roses
Or buy you diamond rings

We are not perfect in relationships, however we try our best.  A lot of the times our best is not good enough and it all ends bad.

Never Say Goodbye doesn’t get out of second gear

As I sit in this smokey room
The night about to end
I pass my time with strangers
But this bottle’s my only friend

And Wild in the Street is a song that could have ended up on a Bruce Springsteen B sides album.    

In here we got this code of honor
Nobody’s going down

As Bob Lefsetz puts “if you want to relive 1986, if you want to know what it was like way back then… You play “Slippery When Wet.”

Standard
Music

Motley Crue and Kiss at the Allphones Arena, Sydney 9th March 2013 – Part 1 – Motley Crue’s Set

Motley Crue and Kiss at the Allphones Arena, Sydney 9th March 2013 – Part 1 – Motley Crue’s Set

Tonight, there’s gonna be a fight
So if you need a place to go
Got two room slum, a mattress and a gun
And the cops don’t never show

The mighty Crue kicked off their set with the excellent Saints of Los Angeles.  Artists these days are not prepared to live the life their heroes lived.  We are all comfy in our middle class homes.  Not the Crue. Anyone who has read The Dirt knows that the Crue’s lifestyle determined their musical style.

I took two of my boys to the concert.  Their first ever RNR concert.  The sound for the Crue was muddled and the drums where very difficult to be heard (whereas Kiss had a far superior mix).  Vince as usual was short of breath and off key.  Maybe the five kidney stones that knocked him out on the next night was the cause.  One thing I can say is that the live show is spectacular, with the lights, the pyro, the backup singers/dancers and Tommy Lee’s rollercoaster. 

So come right in ’cause everybody sins
Welcome to the scene of the crime
You want it? Believe it? We got it if you need it
The devil is a friend of mine

The party line was the scene of the crime.  They lived it, they felt it, they sang it and they made every adolescent kid in the eighties want to do it.    

We are, we are the saints, we signed our life away
Doesn’t matter what you think, we’re gonna do it anyway
We are, we are the saints, one day you will confess
And pray to the saints of Los Angeles

Yes, every band that dreams of fame and fortune, sign their lives away to the Record Label.  From Motley’s perspective, they were four headstrong individuals that wanted to drink and fuck the world.  , It didn’t matter to them what the label said or their manager or agent said they are going to do things their own way.  Not a lot of artists trying to make it these days have that attitude.  It is the ones that do not sell out that end up having a lasting and profitable career.    

Red line tripping on a land mine, sipping at the Troubadour
Girls passed out naked in the back lounge, everybody’s gonna score
She’s all jacked up, she’s down on her luck
You want it, you need it, the devils gonna feed it

The decadence.  Getting tanked at the Troubadour.  I have never been to LA, but listening to this song, made me feel like I have been there and experienced what the Crue did.  The power of music.  It is forever and it touches us all in different ways.  The reference to the devil once again in a song with Saint in the song title.  The Yin and the Yang.  Sharing the groupies with each other and whoever else was in the room.  The debauchery. 

Kneel down ye sinners, to streetwise religion
Greed’s been crowned the new king
Hollywood dream teens, yesterday’s trash queens
Save the blessings for the final ring, Amen

I can’t believe that Nikki Sixx wrote those lyrics when he was shooting up twenty four seven back in 86.  Wild Side is the street man’s bible.  In 1987, Greed had been crowned the new king.  The world was changing.  Technology was starting to get traction and the bankers started to get more power.  Everyone and everything was thrown away as soon as they or it stopped making money for the Corporations. 

I carry my crucifix under my death list
Forward my mail to me in hell
Liars and the martyrs lost faith in the Father
Long lost is the wishing well

Who can we believe in these days?  It seems that evil deeds and good deeds go hand in hand and are committed by the same person.  We lose more and more of our innocence as we get older.  We make choices that are heavily influenced by money. 

Shout shout shout
Shout shout shout
Shout at the devil

Could Shout At The Devil be the best Christian song ever.  Even Stryper would be proud.  Nevertheless, the Crue started the show with three winners.  Ah yes, I still remember the criticism that the Crue took in the 80’s for this album because of the pentagram on the cover.  But as Nikki Sixx described in the Dirt, “It just looks cool. It’s meaningless symbols and s–t. I’m just doing it to piss people off.”  A lot of the artists these days, don’t do this.  They all want to be loved.  It upsets them when they see hate or criticism thrown their way. 

She’s got an alligator bag
Top hat to match
Dressed in black on black
She’s got a Philipino girlie
She claims is her friend
I tell you boys, you just gotta laugh
Now I used to call her Cindy
She changed her name to “Sin”
I guess that’s the name of her game
I really used to love her
Then, the kitty she discovered
It’s got to be a sexual thing

The perfect love song, boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, only for girl to leave boy for another girl.  Only the Crue could have pulled a song off like this and with Nikki’s witty street gutter lyrics, it comes off as a treat.  And they gave a new meaning to what SOS stands for.  Same Ol’ Situation

Everybody wants some, what the hell
Everybody needs some, everybody yell
Ohh (Ohh) , No (No)
Don’t need no lovin, no respect
Cos it’s all about the sex (SEX!)
Cos it’s all about the
Ohh (Ohh) Yeah (Yeah)
What gets me off is a little neglect
Cos it’s all about the sex (SEX!)
It’s all about the

Finally a Crue song about what they like doing best.  Sex.  Two of their stars even stared in their own movies.  Could this be the reason why the Crue returned in 2004 bigger and better?  I think those two sex tapes combined with The Dirt re-launched the Crue and made them relevant again.   They where all over the internet. 

Home Sweet Home didn’t go down to well.  As Tommy Lee was playing the piano, either Vince’s mike got cut or he forgot when to come in.  To me it sounded like he forgot when to come in and this put the band off.  Home Sweet Home was the Turn The Page of 85, and by 86 – Wanted Dead Or Alive by Jovi would have replaced it.

That’s alright, that’s okay
We were walkin’ through some youth
Smilin’ through some pain
That’s alright, that’s okay
Let’s turn the page

Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) was the first song on Dr Feelgood that I repeated constantly.  I loved the title and the way the song starts off as a Rob Stewart Maggie May, before kicking in to a Boston – Don’t Look Back / T Rex style groove.  It was one of those songs that put growing up out there.  It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be happy.  It’s okay to love and it’s okay to leave.  Just turn the page and move on. 

The Drum solo and guitar solo parts are the weakest part of the shows.  It would have been way cooler if Tommy Lee actually drummed to Primal Scream while doing the drum coaster.  And it would have been way cooler if Mick Mars did an extended solo break on the Home Sweet Home solo with the band and all as his back up, sort of like how John Petrucci does in Hollow Years.

Broke dick dog
My head slung low
Tail knocked in the dirt
Time and time of being told
Trash is all I’m worth
When I was just a young boy
Had to take a little grief
Now that I’m much older
Don’t put your shit on me

Primal Scream was a 90’s version of We’re Not Gonna Take It.  The kid from 1985 is now six years older.  And I didn’t take shit.  I knocked a kid out because he stepped on my school bag.  It was an accident that he stepped on my bag, but man I was an angry kid.  I was angry at the system.  My home life was good, but teachers just didn’t understand me. 

Plug me in
I’m alive tonight
Out on the streets again
Turn me on
I’m too hot to stop
Something you’ll never forget
Take my fist
Break down walls
I’m on top tonight
No, no
You better turn me loose
You better set me free
Cause I’m hot, young, running free
A little bit better than I use to be 

Cause I’m alive
Live Wire

When I first heard Live Wire, I was just a kid.  As I got older, I got stronger.  As I got stronger, I felt invincible.  I believed that I was invincible.  This is before marriage and before kids.  That is when a person’s life becomes complicated in the sense that it is not about them anymore.  Until that day came to me, I was feeling alive and was trying to break down as many walls as I could. 

He’s the one they call Dr. Feelgood
He’s the one that makes ya feel alright
He’s the one they call Dr. Feelgood

Cops on the corner always ignore
Somebody’s getting paid
Jimmy’s got it wired, law’s for hire
Got it made in the shade
Got a little hideaway, does business all day
But at night he’ll always be found
Selling sugar to the sweet
People on the street
Call this Jimmy’s town

The Dr. Feelgood album has gone into history as Motley Crue’s best album and also the album that Metallica wanted to emulate in its sound.  This in turn led to Metallica working with Bob Rock, and the best-selling album of the Sound Scan era.  How cool did Nikki Sixx sum up corruption?  That is why we can never win the war on drugs.  There is too much money going around, and a person on a shitty wage will always be tempted to look the other way.  This is also why the RIAA and MPAA will never win the war on people sharing.  If people want to share, they will share, regardless of the laws and fines around copyright infringement.  If people want to sell drugs and take drugs, they will, regardless of the rules and jail time around it. 

Friday night and I need a fight
My motorcycle and a switchblade knife
Handful of grease in my hair feels right
But what I need to make me tight are

Girls, Girls, Girls
Long legs and burgundy lips
Girls, Girls, Girls
Dancin’ down on Sunset Strip
Girls, Girls, Girls
Red lips, fingertips

Only the Crue could release a song like this.  Again their lifestyles determined their musical styles.  They talk about LA and the Sunset Strip.  It made you want to go there.  Just to see those girls with the long legs and burgundy lips. 

When I get high
I get high on speed
Top fuel funny car’s
A drug for me
My heart, my heart
Kickstart my heart
Always got the cops
Coming after me
Custom built bike doing 103
My heart, my heart
Kickstart my heart

This is the song where Vince sings the words When I, speed and me from the first four lines.  That’s it, that is all he sang.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  Kickstart My Heart = taking things we do in life and doing then to the extreme.  A lot of people link this song to Nikki Sixx’s overdose and resurrection and the title does make you believe that is so.  However the only reference to that part of his life is the lyric Adrenalin running through my veins.  To me this how we should live our lives.  If we are not doing things out of our comfort zone and pushing ourselves we could end up like the billions around the world, toeing the same line of live, work and die.  

Crue set is over, my two boys are like WOW.  And that in itself is worth the $800 i paid for 4 tickets.  This is my third time seeing the Crue.  This show for me was all about experiencing them with my kids.  Hopefully when they come around again a few years time my one year old will be old enough to come.

Next up KISS.

Standard