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

Nov 9, 1985

I follow Circus Magazine on Twitter. Every day they mention hard rock or metal albums that came out on the same day. And back on Nov 9, 1985, the following albums came out;

  • Y&T – Down For The Count
  • Dokken – Under Lock and Key
  • Twisted Sister – Come Out And Play
  • W.A.S.P – The Last Command

In Australia, we had to wait. A geographical windowed release is the business name for it. And it’s funny how the labels still want to revert to these kinds of releases for music in the digital world. They don’t like world-wide releases. Hell, one of the main drivers of piracy was windowed releases. Fans of music in other parts of the world, wanted access to new music on the same day, U.S fans had access to it.

One thing that is common across all four albums is the sequencing and how the albums flow.

TRACK 1 – The Killer Opening Track

“In The Name Of Rock” has a great riff to kick off the album about a kid who heard a guitar scream and he knew he wouldn’t be the same.

“Unchain The Night” musically is unbelievable, but Don Dokken’s lyrics of running around in circles and never crossing some line and then not wanting to touch someone and then never wanting to unchain the night.

Seriously, how much blow was Don doing?

And how can you chain the night up to then not wanting to unchain it.

“Come Out And Play” starts off with an ode to “The Warriors” movie before Dee starts telling people to not be afraid of the night as it builds into an anthem for the SMF’s to join the Twisted Sister cavalcade and enter the world TS made. It’s basically a speed metal song.

“Wild Child” is a classic. It’s a simple riff, it sounds massive and it builds nicely under the Em, D, C chord progression. And Blackie had a certain lyrical style that worked about riding winds that bring rain because he’s a wild child who needs to be loved.

The winner here is “Wild Child”.

TRACK 2 – The Relaxed Track

“All American Boy” is cool musically and lyrically it might have worked in the U.S but it didn’t really work in Australia. Then again, Bruce Springsteen sold 10 million plus by telling everyone he’s born in the U.S.A. So there goes that theory.

“The Hunter” is a cool track musically and lyrically.

“Leader of the Pack”. Next.

“Ballcrusher” is just one of those songs that’s a blast lyrically about a vicious voodoo woman who crushes balls and manages to skull all of his JD. Hell, Steel Panther has made a career of using lyrics like these.

The winner here is “The Hunter”

TRACK 3 – Meant To Be the Big Hit

“Anytime At All” is a cool melodic arena rock song about a woman who can call Dave anytime at all.

“In My Dreams” is also a cool melodic arena rock song about a relationship that still works in Don’s dreams but not in real life. I believe Jeff Pilson wrote the lyrics to this song, so they make way more sense than Don’s lyrics.

And that solo from Lynch, it’s like he knew this song was going to be a single so let’s put every melodic idea and technique into it. And it works.

“You Want What We Got” is a cool sing along arena rock song about a person called you, who wants something that Twisted Sister has got and because that person called “you” can’t have it, the person called “you” constantly puts them down.

“Fistful of Diamonds” musically sounds like it’s from The Rocky Horror Show. And how relevant are the lyrics about money and how people go crazy for it because they want it all.

The winner here is “In My Dreams”.

TRACK 4 – The Ballad Song or Experimental Song or We Don’t Know What to Do With Song

“Anything for Money” is good musically and let down by crap lyrics.

“Slippin’ Away” just doesn’t work for me.

“I Believe In Rock N Roll” is a great song, musically and lyrically. Hell, one of my first band names “Iron Fist” came from the lyrics. The best line is pledging allegiance to the United States of Rock. The pre-chorus sums up life about working hard and constantly being told what to do.

“Jack Action” musically is like “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Lyrically it’s a mess.

The winner here is “I Believe In Rock N Roll”.

TRACK 5 – The Killer Side 1 Closer

“Face Like An Angel” has a cool musical groove and a top notch lead break. Even the vocal melodies are good, but those lyrics “she’s got a face like an angel but the devils inside her again.” Seriously. What the?

“Lighthin’ Strikes Again” has awesome riffage, so musically it’s pretty strong and the vocal melodies are spot on as well. Lyrically, is it about lightning striking you for inspiration? I’m not sure, but I think it is. Anyway, the music is perfect.

“The Fire Still Burns” burned so bright that it spawned the extreme black metal scene of Europe. The song is a masterpiece that could rival thrash speed metal tunes. And the lyrics deal with the pain and anger in Dee’s brain to last a whole lifetime and how he can’t have peace of mind because the fire still burns.

I’m a big fan of the “Widowmaker” song. The whole intro sounds epic and when the whole band kicks in, it’s breaking desk time. It’s the only way to kick off a song about some entity that has roamed the desert plains for thousands of years.

The winner here is “The Fire Still Burns”.

TRACK 6 – The Killer Opening Track of Side 2

Track 6 is always the first track on SIDE B. So it had to be a strong one. Kids these days will not understand how sequencing an album was super important back in the day.

“Summertime Girls” I heard in a movie. I can’t remember if it was a Porky’s movie or one of those other 80’s flicks that mimicked the Porky’s formula. Anyway the movie is set in summer, girls are wearing very short shorts and it was perfect for the scene. It’s probably the reason why the song has remained a favourite. Then I heard it on the “Baywatch” TV series. So how can you not forget it?

The video clip to “It’s Not Love” remains with me because it reminded me of ACCA’s “Long Way To The Top”. The riffs grab me again and the lyrics work with the melodies.

“Be Chrool To Your Scuel” just didn’t work for me. And the zombie film clip got banned from MTV for being too violent and gore which didn’t help its cause.

“Blind In Texas” is your basic 12 bar blues drinking song. Blackie is very creative with his lyrics, referencing Texas towns.

The winner here is “Summertime Girls”.

TRACK 7 – The Song That Will Not Be Played Live

“Looks Like Trouble” is excellent musically. But I hate the lyrics about how Dave gave a woman his Ferrari and got no response, because he’s a fool in love who doesn’t know when to give up.

“Jaded Heart” rocks musically. And you know what, even the lyrics work, about a jaded heart that looks and can’t see the beauty of life in front of it.

“I Believe In You” is a ballad that actually has Don Dokken doing some ohhhs and ahhhhs during the Chorus. Lyrically it’s about looking for acceptance.

“Cries In The Night” is actually a pretty cool tune about a person hearing cries in the night that tell no lies.

The winner here is “Cries In The Night”.

TRACK 8 – The “Cover” Song or The “We Are Running Out Of Ideas” Song or The” Melodic Rock Song We Are Not Sure Our Fans Will Like”

I’m not a fan of “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. I didn’t even like Poison’s version. I was like, why would you cover that song. It’s a timestamp of an era and not relevant at all in the 80’s.

“Don’t Lie To Me” is a great melodic song, with a great harmony that mimic’s the vocal line and even the lyrics work.

“Out On The Streets” to me is a pretty cool melodic rock song and one of those TS songs that are forgotten.

For a title track, “The Last Command” is very different for WASP’s 1985 standards as it’s in a major key. Lyrically I believe it’s about the sounding of the seventh trumpet before the end begins.

The winner here is “Out On The Streets”.

TRACK 9 – The “We Ran Out Of Time” Song

Musically, “Don’t Tell Me What To Wear” feels like it’s a carbon copy of “Blackout” from Scorpions. Lyrically, it works for me, about a kid who likes to wear his blacks and is constantly told what to wear.

“Will the Sun Rise” is another classic that doesn’t get enough love. I also don’t mind the lyrics about setting sail to find new wonders and memories.

Musically, “Looking Out For Number 1” is a rewrite of “You Got Another Thing Comin”. Lyrically, Dee is re-using themes of a person doing what they want to do and living a life they want to live.

“Running Wild In The Streets” should be retitled running out of time.

The winner here is “Don’t Tell Me What To Wear”.

TRACK 10 – “The Killer Speed Metal Closer to Side 2” and Album” or “The Killer Epic Power Ballad Closer to Side 2 and Album”

“Hands Of Time” closes the album and that palm muted harmony guitar riff just blows my mind for how massive it sounds and how simple it is to play.

“Till The Livin End” is basically a speed metal song and that is the beauty of Dokken that I liked. They could be metal, hard rock, blues rock, pop rock and speed metal all on one album.

“Kill Or Be Killed” is also a speed metal song about fighting the good fight, throwing punches in the name of rock first and asking questions later.

“Sex Drive” is basically a re-write of “Blind Of Texas” and “Fistful Of Diamonds”. A big miss here to close the album with a killer tune.

The winner here is “Till The Livin End”.

TRACK 11 – The Bonus Track

“King Of The Fools” is probably the best power ballad from Twisted Sister about how stardom, while great, is also pretty lonely and frightful because people are now looking at you to lead them.

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

W.A.S.P – Post “Crimson Idol” Cuts

I consider “The Crimson Idol” to be WASP’s (and by default Blackie Lawless) crowning achievement. It’s funny how the person that wanted to be somebody in 1983 ended up singing about a person that didn’t want to be the idol of millions.

From my own musical evolution, there is no one higher in my own personal church of rock n roll than Blackie Lawless.

So here is a COMPENDIUM list of post “Crimson Idol” cuts.

Heavens Hung In Black
The masterpiece in Blackie’s career. It is from the “Dominator” album released in 2007. It’s seven plus minutes long and it is not pretentious or wankery. The way it goes from the synths to the outro solo is excellent and emotive. Go on YouTube and you will see that the song has over 10 million views. This is what Blackie said of the song in an interview with Blabbermouth:

“The title is from a quote from American President Abraham Lincoln when he saw the casualty reports from the battle of Gettysburg, and after reading that he said, ‘Tonight the Heaven’s are hung in black.’ So I took that idea and I wrote it from a point of view of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who’s on the verge of dying and he’s standing at the Gates of Heaven but St. Peter tells him that because of all the fighting that has been taking place, they have no more room in Heaven, and that he must come back some other time. So based on that understand that the verses are St. Peter talking, and the chorus is the soldier.”

Some artists need others to write music with however Blackie Lawless is an anomaly that doesn’t subscribe to that paradigm.

Mercy
It’s also from 2007’s “Dominator” album. Love that open string palm muted pedal point riff to kick it off. Blackie rewrote this song and called it “Crazy” for 2009’s “Babylon” album. Both of the songs are just good old rockers.

Take Me Up
One of my favourites. The whole digital delay intro is subtle and powerful. When the clean town first verse comes in, I still have no idea what’s coming. Then the heavy grinding and groovy second verse kicks in and when the hooky chorus kicks in, I am all in. Nodding my head and tapping my foot. It’s also from 2007’s “Dominator” album. “Take Me Up” is a tour de force.

The “Dominator” album is a classic like W.A.S.P’s other classic albums. It’s perfect and without the big hit single, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. However for those fans who have heard, we can never forget it.

And then there was the album cover, with the American flag partially in flames, a skull take up a corner and nameless headstones taking up another corner. Focusing on the foreign policies of the U.S, Blackie delivered a mind-blowing experience. This is what he said about the album title:

“It is based on the idea of Western imperialism and about what’s wrong with Washington D.C. It’s important that people understand this is not about the American people and it is not a critique on the American people — it is a critique on the government in the United States. If someone looks at the lyrics of ‘Dominator’, they’ll think it’s a man talking to a woman. And I like the interesting concept of that because that’s what bigger countries do to smaller countries — they toss them like they’re their bitch.”

My Wicked Heart
It’s from the “Dying For The World” album released in 2002. The intro is a combination of “Iron Maiden” and “Judas Priest”. Then it morphs into a derivative version of Love Machine in the verses merged with Arena Of Pleasure in the Chorus. Then the Interlude is “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)”. Totally brilliant.

“Nothing can change my wicked heart”

Hallowed Ground
It’s also from the “Dying For The World” album released. Just think of the song as “The Idol” part 2. I wouldn’t be surprised that sometime in the future, the publisher who would hold the copyright for this song would probably get sued by the publisher who holds the copyright on “The Idol”. That is how messed up Copyright law is.

Charisma
It’s from the “Unholy Terror” album released in 2001. It has this Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” groove, but it’s classic WASP. Thank God that Blackie Lawless didn’t use the “feel” from a Marvin Gaye song otherwise he would have been in the courts as well if the song made some serious cash.

Raven Heart
The song is also from the “Unholy Terror” album and it is a cross between Alice Cooper’s “School Out” and WASP’s “Love Machine”.

Babylon’s Burning
From 2009. It’s a combination of “The Invisible Boy” and “I Am One” from “The Crimson Idol” album. I love it.

Into The Fire
One more power mid tempo ballad from Blackie. It’s also from the “Babylon” album.

Asylum #9
It’s from the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 1 – The Rise” released in 2004.

What I’ll Never Find
It’s also from the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 1 – The Rise” released in 2004. As usual Blackie Lawless is in top form pounding out his epic power ballads. This song reminds me as an amalgamation of “The Idol” and “Hold On To My Heart”.

The Running Man
It’s funny how “The Running Man” (TRM) sounds like another song with the first letters of each word as T R M (The Real Me). Add to that flavours of “Doctor Rockter” and you have another perfect WASP song.

The Raging Storm
“Sleep In The Fire” merged with “The Idol” over a 12/8 blues rhythm. Brilliant. When I hear Blackie scream “give me love” I am immediately reminded of the “No Love to shelter me” from “The Crimson Idol” album.

The Demise
It’s from the second part of the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 2 – The Demise” released in 2004. It’s “The Titanic Overture” merged with “The Great Misconception Of Me”.

The Last Redemption
The finale from the double concept album “The Neon God” and it’s as good as “The Great Misconception of Me” which is the finale on “The Crimson Idol”. At 13 plus minutes long it sums up the influences of Blackie Lawless.

Damnation Angels
From 1999’s “Helldorado” album. Coming after the disappointing KFD album I was already getting disappointed three songs into “Helldorado”. I started believing that WASP and Blackie were finished. Then came track number 4, with is AC/DC “Hells Bells” intro and I had faith again in the power of Lawless.

Still Not Black Enough
This song is a 4 minute version of “The Great Misconception of Me” from “The Crimson Idol”.

Actually “Still Not Black Enough” and “Black Forever” from the same album have a lot of similarities in the music (the intro’s are identical).

The “Still Not Black Enough” album released in 1995 was the one that followed “The Crimson Idol”. I didn’t know what to expect at this point in time as a lot of the bands I liked delivered more contemporary sounding albums as the commercial musical landscape threw in their lot with the Seattle sound.

Was there a place for WASP in this new environment?

Of course there was. Blackie, re-wrote “The Crimson Idol” and stayed true to the old ways.

Scared To Death
It’s got this “Eye Of The Tiger” vibe merged with “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Another classic from Blackie.

Goodbye America
A remake of “Chainsaw Charlie” and “The Titanic Overture”. The reason why W.A.S.P resonated with me is that as Blackie got older, I felt like he didn’t have to fit a formula to succeed. The hit parade that the mainstream writes about was just not for him. He instead focused on the thousands of cult fans that gravitate to W.A.S.P.

Keep Holding On
A derivative version of “Hold On To My Heart” from “The Crimson Idol”.

Breathe
A derivative version of “Forever Free” merged with “Hold On To My Heart”.

In the end, the “Still Not Black Enough” album was just a perfect remedy for 1995.

W.A.S.P (and by default Blackie Lawless) may never be cool and Blackie may never be a tastemaker. I don’t expect to see W.A.S.P to have any hits on the top 40. However, what I do know is that when W.A.S.P puts out an album and goes on tour, there are fans there ready to listen and to attend.

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The Great Misconceptions Of Me Are Hung In Black

I totalled my knee a couple of days ago playing over 35’s football/soccer. I should have brushed up on my physics equations and worked out how my injury ravaged knees would be able to stop a body that weights 100kg plus running at full speed and then change direction in an instant. Because that is what happened in a nutshell and what went down was a loud snap.

Suddenly I was on the ground in agony. I got up and limped off. I tried to get the feeling back in my lower left leg. The calve muscle started spasming. Nausea came and a cold sweat hit me. I steadied myself against the fence. Eventually, I returned from the land of confusion.

I drove home, iced it and as the hours ticked over, it started to get stiffer and sorer.

The next day I got X-rays done. Thank god there is no break or fracture. I now have an ultrasound to determine ligament damage or muscle tear or fluid build up. The doctor reckons the symptoms and the pain area is consistent with ligament damage.

This knee of mine has been a thorn in my side since 1995, which was the year I totalled it in two places playing football. Getting injured is a part of life, but man the mental scars are just tough. Recovery from an injury is hard especially when you are older and have responsibilities and kids.

You see, the injury happened at a point in my life where I felt happy and right now I don’t feel happy at all. Other factors have come into play to bring about this new low and all of these conditions when compounded together makes me realise how quickly happiness comes and goes.

When I am in these ruts, it feels like my last days on earth. That is how dark it gets. I ask myself over and over again, what is the point?

And as I am thinking these thoughts, “The Great Misconceptions Of Me” is playing in the headphones. For those that don’t know, it is the last song on “The Crimson Idol” concept album from the excellent Blackie Lawless, otherwise known as W.A.S.P.

While the song is dark in nature (the actual character of the story, Jonathan takes guitar strings and hangs himself), it somehow manages to lift me up.  At over nine minutes long, it’s not a song that would be played on the radio. Hell, in Australia, I have not heard not one WASP song on the radio.

One YouTube user called “pwnzerleet” has an mp3 of the song and it has close to 284,000 views. Another user called “crackpippi” has an acoustic version up and it has close to 140,000 views. “Waspqueen” has a user made video up of the song and it has 106,000 views. So even though the song isn’t a radio hit, it is a hit amongst the metal W.A.S.P heads.

“There is no love, to shelter me
Only love, love set me free”

That is what we are looking for. To be loved. That is why social media is popular amongst people. It gives us a sense of being loved. That is why we keep on picking ourselves up off the floor, relationship after relationship. We want to be loved and we want to love back. No one wants to be alone.

“I am no idol, no crimson king
I’m the imposter, the world has seen”

You see as we grow up in life we change a lot. The pressures of belonging and the fear of being ostracised or left out of the group are too great that we become imposters to the real people that we should be. I am evidence of that. I know exactly when I made those choices in life that lead me astray from the path called “Who I Want To Be”. The scary thing is that I have learned to live with and accept those choices which in turn leads to other choices that further seperates me from the main path.

Across the bridge of sighs
Your losing heaven’s light
Heavens hung in black

The above lyric is from the excellent “Heavens Hung In Black”. This song is a super hit. It is from 2007’s “Dominator” album.

YouTube user “ComeTakeMeHome” has a self-made clip of the song up and it has close to 1.24 million views. “WASPQueen” has it up and the video has close to 624,000 views.

The bridge of sighs once upon a time carried prisoners to their execution. It again reinforces the choices we make in life and the paths those choices lead us on. The further we deviate from the path we should be on, the closer we are to the bridge of sighs.

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Music Business Brewtality

Put all the myths aside and lets not carry the delusion on any longer.

The music scene is brutal.

Anyone heard the song “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)” from WASP.

For those that have heard the song you would know what I mean. For those that haven’t heard the song, Charlie is the President of show biz who feeds on the pop stardom dreams in wannabe artists by promising to make them a star. After those artists make Charlie millions, their careers are chopped up by Charlie and his Chainsaw and discarded to the morgue just for someone younger to take their place.

In other words the junkyard of broken rock n roll dreams is piled high with the souls of artists who didn’t meet the commercial milestones that the record labels were after.

And when an artist sees that all they are worth is just an income generating machine, they start to change. Some can’t handle it and they may end up dead. Others deliver albums that polarized their fan base. Others just play the game and keep on delivering the same album over and over again. And then there are others that deliver more ground breaking work.

We all know that in the pre-Internet era, signing with a label was the only choice an artist had if they wanted to have a career in the music industry and of course, like all great monopolies the labels exploited that power and position. And I use the “career” word loosely, because we should all know by now that the monies earned by 1% of the artists prop up the whole business which in turn means that a lot of artists never really had musical careers. Sure they rode on a wave and had some cash thrown at them, however once the wave crashed down, so did their so called careers.

But the internet was supposed to level the playing field and in a way it did, however what didn’t change was the need for artists to still require a record label to be heard above the noise. Of course there are a lot of artists that are DIY artists and are quite happy to be so. However they are competing with a shitload of other artists that are DIY and Label artists.

From October last year you had Sixx:A.M, Exodus, Slipknot, Sanctuary, Texas Hippie Coalition, Scar Symmetry, Devin Townsend, Sister Sin, At The Gates, Black Veil Brides, Cavalera Conspiracy, Machine Head, Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters, In This Moment, Nickelback, AC/DC, Angels And Airwaves, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, Papa Roach, Periphery, Blind Guardian, Lynch Mob, Alpha Tiger, Sweet and Lynch, Serious Black, Eclipse, Harem Scarem, Level 10, Crazy Lixx, Rated X, Allen/Lande, Vega, Dalton plus a plethora of re-issues, best offs and live releases. All of these releases are on labels.

Then you go onto Bandcamp and you start to see hundreds more being self-released.

Just in one day, February 4, 2015 there were over 40 new metal releases. Now think about all of the new music hitting the net in this fashion and that was just for the metal tag on bandcamp. So with so much new music out there, how can fans find an artist and if they do, how much time will these fans invest in the artist before new music from another artist comes their way.

And that is why the music business is brutal.

Brutality Number 1:

We all know about record label mistreatment and greed. Seen this study recently about streaming monies and how they are actually distributed from the streaming platform. Click on the link and find out who is keeping the majority of the money. Trust me there are no surprises there however the take away of the study is that it was commissioned by a Record Label association and they state that it is perfectly okay for the labels to keep the majority of the streaming money because of the costs they incur to record and  upload the actual music.

Brutality Number 2:

But the real brutality in the music business is finding and then keeping an audience and once that audience is found, it needs to be replenished year after year as original fans drop out, so new ones need to come on board.

The biggest killer of the Eighties bands like Dokken, Kingdom Come, Anthrax, Skid Row, Yngwie Malmsteen and many others that had platinum albums is that their fan base didn’t get replenished as quickly as it was dissipating.

Seen interviews recently of some of the above artists. They are confused and wondering what the hell happened to those million plus fans who purchased some of their Eighties LP’s. They assumed that just because they sold a million records they had a million fans. They cant compute that people might have purchased their record, listened to it once and then never played it again. They cant compute that people might have purchased their record, listened to it once and then hocked it to a second hand store. And seriously how accurate are those stats anyway.

Soundscan metrics came in around 1991 and at least these metrics are based on sales from shops. But the fact that a large part of my metal and rock collection is from second-hand shops, well those sales don’t even rate a mention as an official sale/fan. Dokken and Malmsteen are two artists that came into my life in this fashion. Hell, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Blind Guardian, WASP and Megadeth came to me via dubbed copies of their albums on cassettes. So how does that compute as a sale/fan.

How much money do you think I have invested in those bands afterwards in merch, ticket sales and recorded music purchases? Trust me a lot.

So that is why the music business is BRUTAL towards the artists as the artists who create the music are clueless and the labels are more so, because FANS don’t just come from sales of recorded music.

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The Work Of The Devil

It’s funny how originally rock and roll, then blues rock, then heavy metal, then hard/glam rock, then thrash metal and so on were seen as the work of the devil.

Growing up, I wore my heavy metal and hard rock T-shirts with pride, ready to defend myself if anyone decided to have a dig. Thankfully I didn’t have a situation like that present itself.

Growing up in a city that employed thousands upon thousands at the local steelworks, the majority of the children of those workers were all metal and rock heads. Plus by wearing the colours of your favourite band, by default people just saw you as dangerous.

In other words, if I wore an Iron Maiden “The Number Of The Beast” t-shirt or a Motley Crue “Shout At The Devil” t-shirt it was a shorthand way of informing the public to not mess with me.

I know in my circle of friends, we all came from religious backgrounds. All of us are baptised.

Crucifixes, Mother Mary and Jesus Christ ornaments decorated our walls and cabinets. My olds were cool however they also had very conservative friends who kept on judging them for the musical tastes of their children.

But my Dad, he is a deadest legend. He allowed me to be who I wanted to be growing up, giving me a hell of a lot of freedom. He was a musician as well so he understood my mantra of “music being my religion” and when he would come home from a gig he would have about $500 to $1500 in cash on him.

The usual routine was that he would hand over the cash to me to count and then he would give me a couple of twenties for my efforts. Of course those twenty-dollar notes went straight into the cash till at the local record shop the next day. I was a music junkie, consuming the expensive U.S magazines and whatever vinyl I could get my hands on.

My Dad would talk to me about the family name, our history, what it means to have a good reputation and the most important lesson was that people will judge you no matter what you do. He said that if I conform to what others want me to be, people will still judge me. If I remain true to myself and be who I want to be, people will still judge me. He said if you fail in life there will be people there ready to talk about you and to throw more mud in your face. He said that if I am happy then there will people there ready to drag me down into the same hole that they live in.

And every time we spoke about matters like these I always had a song in the back of my head that connected with the message. That is why I gravitated to metal and rock music. The messages connected.

“Stand Up And Shout” from Dio. You see as good as “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” are it was the more simpler lyrical songs from Dio that really connected with audiences, like “Stand Up And Shout”.

It’s the same old song
You’ve got to be somewhere at sometime
And they never let you fly

The daily grind, the nine to five. How can we fly and reach for the sky when we always have to be somewhere each day and do the same old song and dance. Credit Jimmy Bain for the great riffs.

“I Believe In Rock And Roll” from Twisted Sister’s “Come Out And Play” album. A very underrated album and “I Believe In Rock And Roll” is one such song that hasn’t been given it’s proper due.

Every day
I work so hard
Every day
I’m dealt the cards
Every day
I’m told exactly what to do
Every day
I lose control
Every day
I rock ‘n’ roll
Every day
It’s gonna help to see me through

Dee Snider sure knows how to tell it. If anyone tells you that their days are not like the above, then they are liars.  The first six lines deal with the daily grind, the nine to five routine. It was a common theme in the Eighties. Then the next six lines deal with music and how it helps get through the days.

“I Wanna Be Somebody” from WASP. Blackie Lawless is a great songwriter and WASP has a special place in my heart. The pinnacle to me was “The Crimson Idol” however “The Last Command” and the debut album are not that far behind.

You’re nobody’s slave, nobody’s chains are holdin’ you
You hold your fist up high,
And rule the zoo

Conformity is a disease. If you don’t believe me then look at the symptoms. You are alive but mentally chained to some ideal pushed on you and you don’t know if its a good ideal or a bad ideal. In the end, we should all bang our heads and use our fists to break down the walls.

(P.S. Do you like what I did there, merging WASP, with Quiet Riot and Motley Crue.)

“You’re No Different” from the “Bark At The Moon” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Bob Daisley wrote some excellent lyrics about Ozzy’s reputation and how people judge him.

Everything that I say and do
In your eyes is always wrong
Tell me where do I belong
In a sick society

You’re no different to me

The judgemental people can put themselves up on some imaginary pedestal but in the end they are as pathetic as the rest of the us. We are all no different to each other. We all end up in the same prison with a tombstone above our heads. Let’s see them judge other’s then.

And how good is that outro. It reminds me of the “Escape From New York” theme, while Jake E.Lee starts to unleash.

“Fighting The World” from Manowar. Founder Joey Demaio always had a song about metal and brotherhood. This one is a classic in my eyes.

Now people keep asking if we’re going to change
I look’em in the eye
Tell’em no way
Stripes on a tiger don’t wash away
Manowar’s made of steel not clay

I must admit I always found Manowar’s lyrics laughable because they delivered them so seriously. But seriously who else could get away with a lyrical line, “stripes on a tiger don’t wash away, Manowar’s made of steel not clay.”

Brilliant and perfect for the times.  And then the call to arms with the marching drums;

Fight for a living – Fighting the World

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

What Happens After The Pinnacle?

Want some advice.

Each style of music regardless of what genre will reach its pinnacle within 3 to 8 years and then a freeze would come across it.

The bands involved in the growth of the will have their best memories and the most defining moments of their musical careers during this growth period. We can use any scene however let’s look at the Eighties LA scene. It began in 1981.

Motley Crue, RATT, WASP and Quiet Riot had the LA Scene cornered at that point in time.

Quiet Riot was a twelve-year overnight success story when they had the first big breakthrough, going to Number 1 with “Metal Health” in 1983 and becoming the first “metal” band to do so in the U.S. That was the bands pinnacle. Within 3 years the band was over.

RATT was also a ten-year overnight success story, when they had their big breakthrough with “Out Of The Cellar” released in 1984. That was the bands pinnacle and within 8 years the band was over.

WASP was an eight year overnight success story when they had their big break through with their self-titled debut in 1984. The band never really stuck together, however Chris Holmes and Blackie Lawless remained until 1990. At that stage, WASP more or less became Blackie Lawless’s solo project and I define “The Crimson Idol” as Blackie Lawless’s and by default WASP’s defining moment.

Motley Crue was a six-year overnight success story when they had their big breakthrough with “Shout At The Devil”, however their defining album was by far “Dr Feelgood” and that album was a twelve-year journey. However a few years after that Vince Neil was out.

Once the pinnacle is reached, after that, a freeze sets in. That freeze happened in 1992 for hard rock music.

It took Motley Crue another 12 years before they achieved the same heights as they did in the Eighties. In between, the members worked hard at their own home movies, cough cough, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. Solo projects like Methods of Mayhem for Tommy Lee, Vince Neil solo albums, 58 and Brides Of Destruction for Nikki Sixx and eventually finding time to record three Crue albums. One with John Corabi on vocals, one with the band reunited and another with Randy Castillo (RIP) on drums. Then came the all-encompassing book. “The Dirt”. And the resurrection started. If you’re not afraid to go through one door, many more will open there after. And that is what happened to Motley Crue. The book was the door they went through.

And that is what Motley Crue have done, played the game their own way and ended up with riches and power.

Quiet Riot and RATT never re-covered.

WASP/Blackie Lawless realised early on in the Eighties that WASP was a cult band, with a hard-core audience, and it was that audience who Blackie has played for. He didn’t change the WASP sound when Grunge was king. He didn’t change the WASP sound when Industrial and Nu-Metal became king. He just kept on going, realising WASP albums and I am proud to say that I own all of them.

And after the hard rock ice-age was over a new status quo existed.

The previously successful acts need to work even harder to stay successful. The new acts starting off in the new frontier had to work ten times harder.

Because the people that we think are star’s many people around us have no idea who they are.

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

How Do You Know If An Album Is Successful?

You are an artist performing solo or within a band.

You decide to record an album.

You spend time and effort writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering your latest opus.

You do some promo and release it.

Then what do you do.

It doesn’t sell what you expected. Once upon a time, the definition of a successful act was based on how many records they sold.

Sebastian Bach still can’t get his head around why he has 800,000 Facebook Followers and only 6000 people in the U.S purchased his new album “Give Em Hell” in the opening week. For the record, it is a great album. I have heard the album, but I didn’t purchase it. I went to Spotify and streamed it.

So if it doesn’t sell as expected, it doesn’t that mean the album didn’t do well. What it means is that fans of music have consumed it in many different ways. I actually liked it enough to go onto Amazon and add it to my shopping cart. I haven’t purchased it yet. I will wait until the price drops below $10 before I do. And then it will go on the shelve in its wrapper.

In this day and age sales can never be used a metric for success. However, if there are songs there that are undeniable and an audience starts to resonate with those songs, then expect to sell.

Five Finger Death Punch came out in the piracy era. In the same era that has greedy corporations telling politicians that piracy is decimating the music industry.

Well, this piracy era hasn’t stopped Five Finger Death Punch from moving over 500,000 units in the U.S alone for each album. Yep that’s right, Five Finger Death Punch have been selling records since their debut album came out in 2007. Even the recent “Wrong Side of Heaven” Volumes 1 and 2 are moving close to the 500,000 mark for each of them. Combined these two albums have moved over 700,000 units.

So I am really over bands or artists who lament that no one buys their music. People do buy music. People do stream music. People do download music without paying for it.

And all of those people who access an artists music both legally and illegal will also invest in concert tickets and merchandise. They will even invest in REAL limited/deluxe edition perks. Not the kind of perks that just come with a DVD or a T Shirt.

Artists should take a leaf out of RatPak Records. They have various packages available with each release and at a price that isn’t extortion.

In my opinion, an album can be defined as a success if people are coming to the shows and singing the songs of the album.

WASP released “The Crimson Idol” in the early nineties. Commercially it didn’t do anything however if you talk to any WASP fan and I bet you they can sing the songs from that album. In 2014, it is seen as Blackie Lawless’s finest achievement.

Machine Head released “The Blackening” in 2007. It didn’t sell in the millions, however it allowed Machine Head to go on a three-year victory lap on the back of it, touring the world over and over and over again. It was hailed by Metal Hammer as the album of the decade. It is also seen as Machine Head’s definitive masterpiece.

One of my favourite independent bands “Digital Summer” have been managing their own career and their own releases with great success. Recently they just had a run of dates with Volbeat and Trivium. Prior to that, they have done tours with Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Three Doors Down and many other acts. They have done shows on their own. And they manage themselves. They finance their own recordings. They ask their fans to help out via fan funding campaigns. So big deal if their albums haven’t sold in the millions. They are over 10 years deep and still rocking.

So how do you know if an album is successful in 2014?

If people are listening to it, coming out to the shows and singing the songs.

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