Music

1984 – Ep 2

the playlist

Coming into 1984, hard rock and metal bands started popping up everywhere in the mainstream. Magazines moved their reporting from different styles of music to cover only hard rock. The labels even started promoting rock music with glam metal, hair metal, glam rock, heavy rock and melodic rock suddenly becoming genres. And regardless of what “genre” a band got labelled with, we still found the albums in the heavy metal category of the record shop.

Part 1 is here.

Judas Priest still had the world in the palm of their hands with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” released two years before. And then they dropped “Defenders Of The Faith”.

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith

Before Judas Priest there was metal music, but the mighty Priest woke us all up and got us addicted. With “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin”, they infected television, radio and the jukeboxes around the world. So the world was waiting with what they would unleash next.

“We’ve always maintained that albums are important from year to year, but especially after topping the platinum mark in the States, we knew that we had to come up with a follow-up which was going to carry on from there and take us to even greater heights.”
Rob Halford, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984

What an album.

Rising from darkness where hell hath no mercy and the screams for vengeance echo on forever. Only those who keep the faith shall escape the wrath of the Metallian… Master of all metal.

Freewheel Burning

How good is this song?

The speed, the lyrics, the riffs and those lead breaks. It’s all break neck stuff. I am pretty sure a few members from a band called “Helloween” were listening intently.

Fast and furious / Look before you leap has never been the way we keep / Our road is free / Charging to the top / And never give in never stops the way to be

The words that leap off the vinyl instantly capture the essence of the metal spirit of never giving in and dealing with whatever comes our way. And it sets the tempo for what the album is, fast and furious all the way.

Jawbreaker

There are no radio hits on this album, just songs made for the artist and the fan.

Rock Hard Ride Free

That guitar intro and harmony lead is enough to hook me in. And the lyrics sum up the 80’s movement to a tee.

No denying we’re going against the grain
So defiant they’ll never put us down

By this stage, rock and roll wasn’t becoming part of the grain and by 1986 it was the grain. But we still loved the “us versus them” lyrics.

Rock hard, ride free
All day, all night
Rock hard, ride free,
All your life

It’s what we wanted to do all day, to rock hard and be free.

The Sentinel

My favourite track on the album. I could listen to it over and over again.

This is music made for the sound system and not the earbuds. I would crank it up and the whole room would be filled with the sound. And it felt good. Halford sets the scene along deserted avenues with figures primed and ready for a quick surprise.

Sworn to avenge
Condemn to hell
Tempt not the blade
All fear the sentinel

It’s an arena rock chorus but it’s lyrical message is so far removed from the pop charts and the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Cum On Feel The Noize” type of messages.

And how good are the riffs underneath the Chorus vocal melody.

Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

If the man with the power cant keep it under control
Some heads are gonna roll

So relevant today as it was back in the 70’s and 80’s. Especially with so many men in power with ego’s to match.

The power mad freaks who are ruling the Earth
Will show how little they think you’re worth

And these power mad freaks are not just the leaders in charge, they are the giants in control of the biggest global corporations we have ever scene.

Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith

The simple drum intro reminds me of “I Love It Loud” from Kiss and then the riffs come crashing down. Brilliant. It sounds heavy and it suits the title to a tee.

And prove to all the world
Metal rules the land
We’re heavy duty
So come on let’s tell the world

And for a brief moment in time in the 80’s metal did rule the world.

Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi

The debut album from the “guys from Jersey” is tiny compared to the albums that came after, but still has some worthy riffs to talk about.

Runaway

The keyboard riff and the synchonrised drums and guitar all work together.

As much as Jovi hates playing this song or any song from the first two albums live because of the silly lyrical themes, “Runaway” has become a favourite amongst the “Slippery” fans who purchased the back catalogue once “Slippery” exploded.

And yeah, the lyrics are clichéd, but no can deny it’s catchiness.

Roulette

I actually dig the riffs on this, hence the reason why it’s on here.

She Don’t Know Me

It’s a cover song, and it’s perfect for Jovi’s first album.

Shot Through The Heart

Funny story, when I heard “You Give Love A Bad Name” on the TV music channels, I came in halfway through, so I thought the song was called “Shot Through The Heart”. So when I went to purchase the album, I saw the “Slippery When Wet” album first and it didn’t have a song on it called “Shot Through The Heart”. I picked up the debut album and saw it on there, so I purchased that instead.

“Shot Through The Heart” is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Jack Ponti and the track has this infectious piano riff in the intro and Sambora goes to town in this song, showing his melodic chops in decorating the song.

Burning For Love

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. As with all of the earlier stuff, Sambora goes to town during the lead breaks, showcasing his abilities as a melodic shredder.

Come Back

It’s got some cool riffs and the lead break is very different.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force

For some insane reasoning, this album is not on Spotify Australia. It still blows me away how artists or the label/corporation who hold the copyright believe that geo-restrictions are a good thing in a world where we are all connected to each other. But it’s on YouTube, which pays less. Yep, it sure sounds like good business logic.

Marillion – Fugazi

The Fish led era of Marillion was an acquired taste and I enjoyed the music more than the vocals. Actually, certain sections of music, which I even used as templates for interludes for my own songs.

Punch and Judy

How good is the start from 0.00 to 0.22? Yep, those 22 seconds hooked me. That’s all it took.

Emerald Lies

Again, the intro hooks me in from 0.00 to 0.42.

Cinderella Search – 12” Version

And again, the intro hooks me.

And then from 3 minutes onwards, the piano starts playing a riff that is addictive, as the drums and guitars start to pick it up and I am hooked all the way to the end, while Fish is singing, “Welcome To The Circus”.

Assassing – Alternate Mix

Dream Theater have used this song as influence for quite a few DT songs. I think it’s one of Marillion’s best songs, combining a lot of influences and genres into one song, as it moves from Pink Floyd like grooves into more progressive adventures and new wave pop.

Three Boats Down From The Candy

Again the first minute of the song gets me interested and then when that guitar melodic lead comes in at 2.49, I am all in.

Metallica – Ride The Lightning

When I first heard the album I was blown away lyrically. Musically I didn’t even know what kind of music it was. I felt like a chainsaw assaulted my earbuds. Because it didn’t sound like the hard rock mixes I was used to, it took me a while to get used to it. What can I say, my ears were conditioned to enjoy the Tom Werman, Keith Olsen, Bruce Fairbairn produced albums.

And I still contend that “Ride The Lightning” is the album that should define Metallica. It was original, progressive and it set the track list template for future albums which followed.

Fight Fire With Fire

Man, those acoustic guitars at the start is the calm before the storm. Because once the chainsaw riff starts, it’s circle pit time and James Hetfield’s vocal delivery is bordering on death metal.

And it ends with a nuclear bomb going off, just before the harmonies of “Ride The Lightning” kick in.

Ride The Lightning

The harmony guitars and the drums in the intro hook me straight away.

For Whom The Bells Toll

A bell tolls. And there is a pause.

A bell tolls again. And there is another brief pause.

Then the staccato F#5 power chord comes crashing down, before it goes to the E5 power chord to ring out. Then the bass solo . Then the descending chromatic riff which mimics the bass solo. And when you think the first verse is about to come in, a harmony guitar lead happens, which is repeated over and over again, until the riff which underpins the Chorus comes in.

And then the first verse happens. 2 plus minutes after the song started. The approach to song writing is progressive and impressive, especially when you take into account the ages of the members.

Fade To Black

It’s a game changer song. The intro is influenced by the intro in “Goodbye Blue Sky” by Pink Floyd from 1979. The start of the outro when James is singing is influenced by the intro from Black Sabbath’s, “A National Acrobat” from 1973. And from all of these influences, the song still sounds original.

By the end of Side 1, I was floored by a four punch knock out. The needle went back to the start and I had to turn over the LP to side 2. But I played Side 1 again and again and again, until I basically overdosed on it.

Then I switched to side 2.

Trapped Under Ice

This song doesn’t get any love, but it’s a tribute to their NWOBHM roots. Kirk also provided the verse riff, which originally appeared in the Exodus song “Impaler”.

I don’t know how to live through this hell
Woken up, I’m still locked in this shell
Frozen soul, frozen down to the core
Break the ice, I can’t take anymore

Yeah, it could be about being trapped under ice or could be all metaphors. The “ice” is the home and the “frozen soul” is a life controlled by others.

Escape

The intro is excellent.

For the “fans” who criticised the “Black” album, they should really not forget tracks like “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape” and “Leper Messiah” from “Master Of Puppets”. Slower tempo songs that would not be out of place on the “Black” Album. The theme of control and manipulation will come up again in “Welcome Home”, “Dyers Eve” and “The Unforgiven”.

Feed my brain with your so called standards
Who says that I ain’t right

Creeping Death

So let it be written that I loved covering this track with the bands I was in. It’s a classic metal song for the ages. “Am I Evil” and “Blitzkrieg” are covers that ended up as B sides to the “Creeping Death” single, but still worthy additions to be included here as people believed these to be proper Metallica songs.

The Call Of Ktulu

Another game changer track, a progressive 7 minute instrumental track. It’s got a bit of everything, written when Mustaine was still in the band and it’s got the embryonic riff of what will become “Hanger 18” in Megadeth many years later.

Y&T – In Rock We Trust

I didn’t know it in the Eighties, but Y&T would became one of my favourite bands in the Nineties, as I managed to pick up all of their albums up to “Ten” from a second hand record shop. Their big money Geffen move didn’t happen until the late 80’s and A&M was the wrong label for these classic albums. Regardless, Y&T’s music goes through my brain on a regular basis. They’re embedded there, part of my DNA.

Rock And Roll’s Gonna Save The World

Y&T always started off with a strong cut. This was even more important in the CD era as there was only one side and a lot of people never made it to the end of the album.

Kings and queens and presidents
Are tryin’ to take the world in hand
Jokers and freaks and Arab sheiks
Are fightin’ over chunks of sand

The same problems that exist today existed 30 years ago and way before that. Guess they never really went away.

Rock & Roll’s gonna save the world
Don’t you know that’s the way we’re gonna change it?
Rock & Roll’s gonna save the world
Rock & Roll

We believed we could change the world. Then we got jobs and got loans and became exactly what the institutions wanted us to be. Slaves by choice.

Tin soldiers march around the world
No matter what the people say
One man makes all the policies
While the rest of us get blown away

It’s what our leaders are fighting about right now. Who should make the policies? Who should tell others what to do? And democratically elected leaders want to dictate how people should live and then they take up arms against dictators. Ironic isn’t it.

Life, Life, Life

It’s a bloody scene
Hear the population scream
As the missile rushes in
Can’t you feel the flames of hell?

What’s changed in 2018 from 1984? Missiles are still rushing in and for people living in these war zones, it is hell. And for all of our technological advancements to integrate and socialise, we are even more divided.

We let the insane play their fools game
They’re runnin’ a race for death

These lyrics might have referenced a dictator, however democratic leaders today are no better.

It’s time to make a stand for
Life, Life, Life
It’s time to break down the chain of command

We are the only ones who can make change happen, but we choose to opt out so we don’t upset other people.

Masters And Slaves

What a song and how good are the lyrics.

It’s such a dirty game
That it fills you with rage
There’s only kings and queens
And you’re a pawn in their game

Truth in these words. If you don’t believe me, name me the one thing keeping you up at night. Money, security, safety. Kings and queens don’t have that problem. And if you borrow money, guess what, you become even a bigger pawn in the game.

Of masters and slaves
We’re divided that way
Are you a master or slave?
Do you rule or obey?

We are born, our parents rule and we obey. We go to school and our teachers rule, while we obey. We go to work and the boss rules, while we obey. We get married, and the other partner rules while we obey.

When they tell you it’s the home of the free
Well, they must be insane

Who would have thought that living in a free country would be so expensive?

‘Cause it’s dog eat dog from morning ’till night
And only the strongest survive
It’s the law of the jungle, only winners have rights
The losers relinquish their lives

There is no story about the losers. Only the winners. And they re-write history to suit their point of view.

So, you think you’re made
When you have your fortune and fame
But don’t you realize
Oh, someone’s running the game

These lyrics reference life, experience, skin in the game. It’s not all about being a red hot live wire, wanting to feel the noise. How many artists lost all the money they made when their career and the public acceptance of their music started to fade.

I’ll Keep On Believin’ (Do You Know)

I’ll keep on believin’
I won’t let our love slip away

Again, words of life, about being out on the road for long periods, leaving relationships and friends behind, only to find out when you come back home, they have moved on.

Break Out Tonight

The streets are misty in the mornin’ light
The fog hides everythin’ from view
It’s time to make a move to change my life
I gotta make my dreams come true

The song is simple, like the band just rolled the tape in the studio and when Dave Meniketti opens his mouth, truth comes out (courtesy of the lyrics written by bassist, Phil Kennemore). If you want to make your dreams come true, it rarely happens when you are sitting in the comforts of your hometown. You need to break out.

Don’t Stop Runnin’

Ahh, yes a song about being with someone as you are rising up the ladder of stardom and suddenly when you hit a rough patch, that person leaves, and as soon as your fame star starts to rise again, they want to come back into your life.

Umm, no.

When I had the world in the palm of my hand
You never looked at another man
But when I started to slip, you said bye, bye, bye

With you one day, gone the next.

Well you heard I got my big break
So now you’re sayin’ that you made a mistake
And you wanna come back for the ride, ride, ride

Does it really happen like this? I’m still not convinced. Once it’s over, it’s over. For me there are no second chances.

Well the word is out all over town
You’re not the only girl that’s chasin’ me down
Take your place at the end of the line, line, line

It’s a cool revenge song.

This Time

I always dig a good power ballad with cool music. And this one has got some nice guitar playing with clean tone apreggios and distorted chords crashing together to create a cool foundation to build the melodies on.

Darling, I’ve been so afraid
To share what’s on my mind
But I believe you’re just like me
And I can trust in you this time, this time

Safety is what connects us and when you find someone with similar values, you feel connected and by default you feel safe.

The past is full of fallen stars
Of love that I’ve denied
But somehow I know we won’t make
The same mistake this time

Oh, all those missed chances or words unsaid.

Whitesnake – Slide It In

From a copyright point of view, how the hell would David Coverdale do the accounting for it. There are the songwriters who would deserve their royalty and then there are the two versions of the albums, with different members and because those members played on the album, they would get a performance royalty.

The remixed US version of the album had John Sykes replacing the guitar parts of Mel Galley and Micky Moody, while Neil Murray replaced the bass parts of Colin Hodgkinson.

Good luck in working out the percentages.

Gambler

This little bluesy rocker opens the UK edition of the album, but not the U.S one. It’s written by David Coverdale and the very underrated and not very MTV friendly looking Mel Galley.

Slide It In

The Free/Bad Company style of blues rock influences this Coverdale composition about sliding a knife in butter right to the top. The lead breaks are different between the US and UK versions. For me, I prefer the UK version lead break as its more melodic and more sing-along.

Slow an’ Easy

The heavily influenced Led Zep “Slow an’ Easy” is written by Coverdale and Micky Moody. Lyrically it deals with a superstitious woman who will be taken down slow and easy. The US mix has a few pinch harmonic screams that the UK version doesn’t have.

Love Ain’t No Stranger

This classic is written by Coverdale and Galley. I liked the way Coverdale, had a slow intro before the whole band crashes in.

Give Me More Time

Another Coverdale and Galley cut that takes its cues from AC/DC in the verses. And the lead break is excellent and very reminiscent to the “Slide It In” lead break.

Standing in the Shadow

Another Coverdale composition. Seriously, is there a more broken hearted person than David Coverdale?

I’m running away from a feeling
Hiding my face in the sand
I’m scared to love and lose again
I don’t know if I can

It’s that moment in time after a relationship has ended. You are hurting and you feel betrayed. Then you come across someone who rekindles the fire. But you are still hurting and after being burned once, you are fearful to jump in, just in case it leads to another broken heart.

Life is short, so you need to live it. And that means, putting the fear away.

Spit It Out

Another Coverdale and Galley composition, which is basically saying if she doesn’t like it, she can “Spit it Out” while Kiss was singing, “Lick It Up”. I guess people just couldn’t make up their minds.

Guilty of Love

How cool are the guitar harmonies at the start, which again are written by the very underrated guitarist known as David Coverdale.

Cold Chisel – Twentieth Century

The final studio album for Australian band Cold Chisel before they went their separate ways in the 80’s. Hell the album even came out months after they played their final show in December of 83.

Side 1 had three Chisel classics in “Saturday Night”, “No Sense” and “Flame Trees”. Hard to believe that “No Second Prize” from Jimmy Barnes solo album that followed this was rejected from this album.

Saturday Night

Piano player and band founder, Don Walker wrote it about his views of Sydney’s King Cross district, with vocals shared between guitarist Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes.

“The band I’d been in for ten years was breaking up. I think it’s just a ‘kissing all that goodbye and moving on into the unknown’ song.”

Don Walker

No Sense

A Jimmy Barnes composition, with a very reggae feel about people that make no sense at all.

Flame Trees

Drummer Steve Prestwich co-wrote the music on a bass and Walker added the lyrics, about growing up and his dreams of leaving his birthplace behind.

The Game

It’s the only track I like on Side 2, written by bassist Phil Small and lyrics by Walker, about losing your place in the game, which to me, the game could be life, a relationship, a workplace or even a gambling table.

Well that’s it for Part 2, stay tuned for Part 3.

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

Random Listening

Happy new year to everyone. 2018 is here, so let the listening begin.

I started off my working day with Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Trilogy” album. I really dig the songs “You Don’t Remember (I’ll Never Forget)”, “Queen In Love”, “Magic Mirror”, “Fire” and the instrumentals “Crying” and Trilogy”. So many great riffs and leads in those songs. Hell chuck in “Liar” and “Fury”.

Actually does anyone remember the plane incident with Malmsteen where he said to the flight attendant they’ve unleased the fucking fury?

I am sure there is an internet meme out there.

When the U.S record labels went anti shred in the 90’s, the Japanese and South American markets kept his career going. But there is no denying his 80’s output and it’s a shame that a rumoured collaboration with Ronnie James Dio never happened. Actually not sure how true that was as it was in the rumors section of Metal Edge or Hot Metal.

Then I moved to “Trash” from Alice Cooper. It’s been a long time since I heard the full album from start to finish and man I still dig it. I know its commercial sounding and that Desmond Child is producing, but man, its chock full of good songs.

And it’s Alice Fucking Cooper singing. How can it not be good?

The real gems are “Spark In The Dark”, “This Maniac Is In Love With You”, “I’m Your Gun”, “Why Trust You” and “Trash”. They are Alice all the way and when you add the pop metal tunes in “Poison”, “House Of Fire”, “Only My Heart Talkin”, “Bed Of Nails” and “Hell Is Living Without You”, you get to understand why it the album was so popular and moved a lot of units around the world.

Afterwards, “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche got a listen. This is a monster concept album. It’s funny how Mustaine once called em “Yuppie metal” and at the same time Metallica put them as openers on their “Justice” U.S trek. Maybe having the same management team in Q Prime helped. But there is no denying the power of the album and the lyrical message.

“Revolution Calling”, “Operation Mindcrime”, “Speak”, “The Mission”, “Spreading The Disease”, “Suite Sister Mary”, The Needle Lies”, “Breaking The Silence”, “I Don’t Believe In Love” and “Eyes Of A Stranger” all have excellent guitar playing and the album gave me a tonne of great ideas and phrases to use as influences in my own song writing.

It was only ten past eleven (just before noon) and I clicked on Spotify’s recommendations. “Flesh and Blood” from Poison was recommended. Even though I listened to the vinyl a lot in the 90’s, I haven’t cranked it on Spotify at all.

It starts off with the pointless “Strange Days of Uncle Jack”, before it goes into “Valley Of Lost Souls”, which to me is one hell of good song and the best on the album. “(Flesh and Blood) Sacrifice” comes next and it’s a one-two knock-out punch. The pointless “Swampjuice” (Soul-O) is up before “Unskinny Bop” starts rolling. I know it was a single and one of their big songs, but I wasn’t really a fan.

“Let It Play” could have been on a John Cougar Mellencamp or Bryan Adams album while “Life Goes On” is a good power ballad and CC plays a tasty intro lead to the song and in the main lead section. “Come Hell or High Water” is another underrated tune in the vein of the Classic Rock of the 70’s that doesn’t get its dues.

“Ride The Wind” is another sleeper, while “Don’t Give Up An Inch” is a bit derivative of “Come Hell or High Water”. “Something To Believe In” copies the “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” country bluesy vibe, however this time, the piano is the main driver instead of the acoustic guitar.

“Ball And Chain” is unfinished. “Life Loves A Tragedy” is another sleeper song that deserves more attention. “Poor Boy Blues” sounds like a drunken 12 bar blues jam which ended up on the record.

“Blow My Fuse” from Kix was up next. Now this album is a perfect example of the “progress is derivative model”.

It starts off with “Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT” which sounds very familiar like something from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. “Get It While It’s Hot” is heavily influenced by “You Shook Me All Night Long” from AC/DC. Actually it’s very heavily, heavily influenced.

“No Ring Around Rosie” is a beefed up “La Grange” from ZZ Top in the verses. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is taking its cues from “Home Sweet Home” and “Dream On”. “She Dropped Me The Bomb” is again heavily influenced by AC/DC with a touch of The Who.  “Cold Blood” is a very similar to “Long Way To The Top” from AC/DC in the verses.

“Piece Of The Pie” is very heavily influenced by Aerosmith. “Boomerang” is influenced by Led Zeppelin. “Blow My Fuse” is such a good track where the influences are not as obvious as the other tracks. “Dirty Boys” is influenced by “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC.

Finally, Winger is up, with “Kip Winger” becoming a face on a dartboard when Metallica was recording the “Black” album. All in all, Winger (the band) was a powerful unit of brilliant musicians. If you purchased Winger for earth shattering lyrics, this wasn’t the band. But if you wanted to hear great music and good melodies and arena rock choruses, well you wouldn’t be disappointed.

The groovy “Can’t Get Enough” kicks off the album and it’s followed by “Loosen Up” which probably should have been lost from the album. When “Miles Away” came on, I wasn’t sure if it was Bad English or Def Leppard. It’s one of those slow tempo melodic rock songs. “Easy Come Easy Go” has a cool groove and I dig the horn section in the verses.

The next two songs are two of my favourite songs. “Rainbow In The Rose” is an interesting song, a cross between Toto and Journey. It’s very mature musically. “In The Day We’ll Never See” is another mature song and to be honest it’s a shame that these kinds of songs get lost behind the generic MTV songs that each band recorded.

There are a few misses and then the title track bookends the album, which again is another mature track lost behind the more commercial tunes.

I must say, not a bad day at work.

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

It’s “2015 Chaos AD” and People Are Seeking Filters

A common question today is “How do musicians make money?”

Depending on which side of the argument you are, you either focus on the positives of today’s music market or on the negatives of today’s music market. Artists like Paul Stanley, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Perry, Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Kirk Hammett focus on the headlines that read;

  • Album sales are down
  • iTunes single downloads are down
  • Streaming services are decimating artists incomes
  • Technology and the internet has killed the rock star

But it’s not gloom and doom. The old ways are not coming back. You don’t see people going back to dial up internet, three TV channels and landline telephones. So why do you expect them to start buying albums again on vinyl and plastic.

So what do artists do?

Well you can complain like others for the old ways to come back or you can look at new ways and models to increase your brand and exposure.

In the link, there is a story about Linkin Park. In 2013, they decided that they needed to change their business model to accommodate the changing recorded music market. They restructured their organisation to run like a tech start-up. They parted ways with outside management and brought everything in-house

Prior to that they released music consistently, did video games, art and they licensed their grassroots marketing service to other bands, film studios, TV stations and brands.

They studied other successful artists who diversified. They studied other brands from different markets. They formed a new strategy where creating and selling music plays a supporting role instead of being the main role.

So what about someone just starting off?

A lot of people would say “Linkin Park is huge so they have the power to do things differently.” Read the article. Everything that they have going for them started with the team that was assembled to pack and send CD’s before they made it big.

For anyone starting off, the product is first. If you have no product, you have no publicity. And publicity comes from word of mouth. It’s 2015 Chaos AD and people are seeking filters. And the cold hard truth is that in order to be heard above the noise, you still need someone to promote you and your product.

I remember reading an article about word of mouth and it stated that Google, Facebook and Amazon grew because of word of mouth. Motley Crue and even Metallica had people spreading the word for them. And people will always listen to their friends.

Look at “Phish”. Their business thrives without any media attention and their career is decades deep.

And for the ones whinging about streaming profits, the goal is to get people to stream for years. Instant payola is gone.

There is another story over at the Times called “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t”.

The article states, creative artists are thriving “in complicated and unexpected ways.”

Remember the words of Lars Ulrich on July 11, 2000, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

‘‘We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians. We rent time for months at recording studios, which are owned by small-­business men who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record companies’ employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. … It’s clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs I just talked about will be lost, and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear.’’

So 15 years have passed.

Have artists disappeared? NO

Has the music industry died? NO

But what we have are artists using a business model from the 1950’s. Spend time in a studio, record an albums worth of songs and release it. Hope that it penetrates the market and you go on a continuous victory lap celebrating the fact.

Look at any band in the history of music and they all have the definitive crossover album.

Bon Jovi has “Slippery When Wet”, Led Zeppelin has “IV”, Metallica has the “Black” album, Motley Crue has “Dr Feelgood”, Judas Priest has “Screaming For Vengeance”, Eagles have “Hotel California”, AC/DC has “Back In Black”, Kiss has “Destroyer”, Poison has “Open Up and Say Ahh..” and so on. You get the hint.

What we do know is that any record that gains traction will last longer than ever before in the current climate.

Metallica spent close to 18 months on the “Black” album and over a million dollars on it. Depending on which side of the debate you are on, it was either totally worth it or not worth it. From a band perspective, it was totally worth it. The “Black” album explosion also increased awareness in their back catalogue, which if you read my posts, you will note that even in 2015, “Master Of Puppets” is outselling the “Black” album.

But do the fans of 205 want their favourite artists to spend so much time out of the market?

While artists complain about technology changing their income streams from sales of recorded music, they seem to forget that technology has also changed the cost of recording an album/song?

If your main gig is to write songs for others, then we will be hearing your depressing stories in the press, unless you’re a Max Martin. However, if you like to play live, then the new world is for you. It’s simply economics. Recorded music is a product and performing live is also a product. Once upon a time both products were limited. Now recorded music is in infinite supply and live music is still limited. So when one product experiences a price decline, the other product which is limited, experiences an increase.

We don’t care about the corporations when it comes to music. We care about the music and the artist?

And it is unfortunate that the corporations attached the sales metric of record music as f fans caring for artists. So of course, if sales are reduced and music is illegally obtained, the same corporations with some dumb artists toe the line that fans don’t care. However, the fans do care, they just show it in different ways. But the same corporations don’t know how to make sense of the data and the artists are too poor or too far down the chain to obtain any substantial data.

Maybe that is why the direct to fan relationship has become such a focus lately. It means a leaner artist with less handlers. As the Times article states, more people are involved in music today than the glory years of the Nineties.

They are just doing it very different to what artists of yesteryear did.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Hard Working Musicians and Some Not So Hard Working Musicians

When I sit down to write a song, I write a song. That means, I have a vocal melody, chords and a certain feel behind it. In the bands I used to be in, I would then play the song for them. Now, my vocals are limited, so when I play the original song there are some notes I cannot hit. However the singer in the band can hit those notes.

Now according to Sebastian Bach, because he can sing better than Matt Fallon, he should get a song writing credit.

Come on man, this sense of entitlement that everyone has is getting downright stupid.

I love the Sebastian Bach era of Skid Row and I love Sebastian’s solo stuff. I saw Skid Row play at Eastern Creek in Sydney back in 1993. I purchased their debut album because I saw that Michael Wagener was listed as the producer. I remember dropping the needle and being blown away.

I remember also picking up a bootleg of the Matt Fallon era of Skid Row and being amazed at how good the songs sounded in demo form. Of course, Sebastian Bach is the better singer and he is the difference between a good band and a great band. Plus he is Skid Row. As good as Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan are at writing the songs, people will always associate their band with Sebastian Bach.

But, in the case of getting a song writing credit just because he sang the vocal melody better, Sebastian has it wrong.

The Skid Row guys know the truth. History has always shown people trying to rewrite the past to suit a current point of view. But seriously, based on Sebastian’s definition, then guitarist Scotti Hill should also be credited as a songwriter for the Skid Row debut. Why not, hey?

Hill’s lead playing is all over the album and in “18 and Life”, the lead work is very definitive. But it doesn’t work that way. It never did, however in the new world we live in with plagiarism lawsuits everywhere, anything is possible.

Another person that keeps on getting it wrong is Yngwie Malmsteen. When is he going to realise that as good as a guitarist he is, without a great lead singer, his band and his songs are just average. Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto are the right vocalists for Yngwie however those bridges have burnt.

The problem with Yngwie and other artists like Kiss, is that they haven’t created anything worthwhile recently that would make us pay attention. So no one is interested in obtaining their new music. In Kiss’s case, they can still make good money on the road. In Yngwie’s case, he is playing clubs and bars.

You see, in music you work your ass off to get a break and to build an audience. Then you need to work even harder to keep that audience and to replenish it. The big dirty secret that eludes artists is that fans drop off, lose interest or just move on to other bands or different styles especially if the music coming out fails to connect.

If you want to listen to Malmsteen at his best, the first four albums are essential listening. Anything after that is for the hard-core fans.

These days it seems that the popular artists forget why they became famous. It’s because of the music, stupid. It amazes me when I read interviews with artists who don’t feel it is necessary to make new music. The latest is Paul Stanley. The reason why he is a somebody, is because he wrote music. And a lot of it.

Look at guys like Mark Tremonti or even Joel Hoekstra. Both guys are super hard workers.

Tremonti has two albums coming out within a 12 month period from his band Tremonti, plus another Alter Bridge album. Chuck into that mix the Fret 12 guitar instructional DVD’s that he has been doing for the last 10 years and you can see how hard he is working at releasing content on a consistent basis.

Hoekstra just released “The Purple Album” with Whitesnake, has a project called VHF that will be releasing an album soon and another project called Joel Hoekstra 13 that will also be releasing an album soon. In addition to that, he released music with Night Ranger just last year and toured with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All of that hard work is paying off for him at the moment.

So what do we know?

It’s hard work being a musician. It always has been and it always will be. Tremonti and Hoekstra are perfect examples of hard work.

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

Saints (Winners) and Sinners (Losers)

WINNER
Machine Head are doing the opposite of what all the other bands are doing. Playing smaller venues, selling them out and doing “An Evening With..” extravaganza. The prices of tickets are affordable and not extravagant. This is one band that realizes their niche place in the metal music business and they play to their core audience, the Headcases.

In Robb Flynn, they have one of the best frontmen in thrash/metal circles that is not afraid to take a stance on an issue. He speaks to his core audience via his journals. He controls his own narrative and not the press, which is the downfall of a lot of other artists.

Flynn, along with Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast have realized that music is all about the souvenirs. The “Killers and Kings” single release for Record Store Day with the four different tarot covers proved once again that if people believe in the artists, they will spend their money. Machine Head weren’t selling music, they were selling collectibles. I purchased all four and I still haven’t opened them.

WINNER
Megadeth. As a guitarist I didn’t really dig Broderick’s uninspired lead breaks so I am pretty happy that he has left. Just because a person is super technical it doesn’t mean they are good songwriters. Seriously put those lead breaks up against the jazzy shred work of Chris Poland, the neo – classical shred metal of Marty Friedman, the tasteful phrasing of Al Pitrelli and the pentatonic chaos of Dave Mustaine and you will see where Broderick stacks up. Drummers are plentiful so I am sure that Megadeth will have no issues here finding one that will suit.

LOSERS
Chris Broderick and Shaun Drover.

The history of guitarists and drummers that have departed Megadeth is vast. The real good ones have had stellar careers pre and post Megadeth. Marty Friedman had a fan base before he joined and then he became a Japanese musical icon post Megadeth. Al Pitrelli also had an established fan base prior to joining and he was already in demand as a session guy and touring guitarist for various projects. Chris Poland did “Damn The Machine” which was an unbelievable album/band that wasn’t embraced by the waves of change that happened to metal in 1993 and Poland’s instrumental album “Return To Metalopolis” was also a favourite back in the day.

WINNER
Streaming. Fans of music didn’t care at all that The Pirate Bay got raided or that Kickass Torrents got taken down. Those raids/takedowns are all pure PR stunts by the associations and a waste of money/legal resources because copyright for the last 15 years has been hijacked and used purely for criminal pursuits and nothing to do with aiding the artist.

LOSERS
Artists and entities that compare the streaming dollars earned today to those pre 1999 sales dollars without understanding that streaming is all about scale. The more people using the platform, the higher the payments will be in the future. But no one can look that far, when everyone thinks about “right now”. The ones complaining about streaming royalties just don’t have enough fans interested in listening to their music consistently.

WINNER
Slash. He has shown that he is more Guns N Roses than Axl Rose is. His output has been solid via his many projects, like Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, Slash (the guest vocalist album) and now Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. He is doing what every other musician should be doing, which is releasing product and touring.

LOSER
Duff McKagan. His views on piracy/copyright infringement are restricting him from doing what he needs to do, which is, to create music.

WINNER
Dee Snider. His views on Doug Aldrich are spot on.

LOSER
Doug Aldrich. He’s a good guitar player but nowhere in the league of the Eighties guitarist he was competing against when he was with “Lion”. For the years he has been involved in music, there is not one definitive song/riff that can be attributed to Doug Aldrich.

WINNER
Data. The era of feeling it or rorting the charts is over. It’s all about the fans and what they listen too.

LOSER
Sales. Just because Spotify is killing off piracy, it doesn’t mean that people will start to buy physical CD’s, vinyls or pay to download MP3’s again. Seriously there is a lot of rubbish reporting out there stating something like “sales are worse now since Spotify has entered the market”. Well, hello genius, Spotify and streaming for that matter are also competing with sales.

WINNER
George Lynch. He realizes it’s all about the music and without making new music, he has no career. That’s why people come back. Lynch Mob, his solo career, KXM, Sweet and Lynch and now the announcement of a new project called “The Infidels” which is another pseudo-supergroup.

LOSER
Don Dokken. Without the involvement of Lynch and Pilson in the songwriting department, the band Dokken is a shadow of its former self.

WINNER
Indegoot Entertainment. They have a roster of bands that make up a very large portion of the U.S Hard Rock market, that have proven to be consistent sellers in a recorded music sales market that is contracting instead of expanding. Shinedown, In This Moment, Halestorm, Chevelle, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of A Deadman and Story of The Year.

Rock is far from dead when you have rock artists like these. And with a good roster of talent comes power on the live circuit. That is why Indegoot is a winner.

LOSER
Any metal or rock band that is spending months upon months creating their new album and being out of the public consciousness. The modern way is to be in our head space every day. If an artist today takes a break then they are on their way to being forgotten. And you don’t want to be in the news if it is not about your music. No one can forget what their core business is.

Slipknot took almost seven years to release their new album, only to have “The Devil In I” rack up 9.6 million streams. What about the other songs?

Yngwie Malmsteen has delivered a lot of dud albums in the last ten years and he still takes his time before issuing the next one.

WHY?

You would think after one crap album, he would get going with delivering a better song quickly to make amends. Malmsteen can be doing much more to keep in touch with his fan base which doesn’t revolve around issuing ten to twelve songs every two years under his own name.

Take a leaf out of George Lynch’s or Michael Sweets or Marc Tremonit’s or Russell Allen’s playbook.

WINNER
Kevin Churko. Everyone wants to work with him. He is the modern-day version of Tom Werman or Keith Olsen. Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Hellyeah, Papa Roach are all bands that have used the might Churko as producer and on some occasions as songwriter. If you want to use sales as a statistic of reach, then bands produced by Kevin Churko are some of the best sellers in the genre.

LOSER
EVH.

My EVH Peavey 5150 Combo that I purchased back in 1995 is still my favourite amp to record with. So it is a shame that the greatest and most innovative guitarist cannot get it together to deliver new music worthy of his stature. Reading Sammy Hagar’s bio recently cemented my views on EVH who has become a person that is so out of touch with reality and a victim of his own vices. His future without any doubt is with Sammy Hagar as the front man.
WINNER
Allen Kovac’s move from management to the label business has paid off. Eleven Seven Music is another label doing their bit in bringing hard rock back to the masses. Artists involve Hellyeah, Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, Pop Evil, Sixx:A.M, Nothing More, Art Of Dying, Apocalyptica, Escape The Fate and Drowning Pool.

LOSER
AC/DC without Malcolm Young have lost their foundation. Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC and always will. They will make a killing on the live circuit however no one cares for their new music. On top of all that their views about withholding their music from certain digital outlets (while it is available for free on pirate sites) shows how out of touch they are. They are leaving money on the table.

WINNER
Marc Tremonti. He showed the world that he was the brains and driving force behind Creed. He kept his career going with Alter Bridge. He started his own solo band. He went away and mastered the art of shred. His PRS guitars are state of the art and brilliant to play. Trust me on that one as I have one. The PRS through the 5150 is the perfect sound for me.

LOSER
Metallica. They are trying to replicate the corporate deals of U2 and the product saturation of Kiss. This in turn leaves the hard-core fan base squeamish. Meanwhile it has been seven years since they released “Death Magnetic” and music is the very reason why Metallica is in the powerful position they are in right now. However it seems they have forgotten that part of their career. “Lords Of Summer” will most probably be turned into a totally different song however if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t bode well for Metallica as they sit down to write the next album.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

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

What Kind Of Time Is It For Musicians To Be Successful?

Today artists have the power to make, publish and become extremely successful from their own music. The need to use the almighty gatekeepers is over. Thank Napster and Sean Fanning for being real game changers and shaking up the recording business. Now every artist cane set up their own home studio and make excellent sounding recordings. They can use digital aggregators like Tunecore and CD Baby and within days, their music is sitting on Spotify and iTunes along with all of the major label backed artists.

It is a new frontier for artists and as more and more people take up these opportunities what we have is a lot of increased competition. With millions of songs still to be heard and only limited ears and time to listen, how can new music get out there. Nikki Sixx believes that everything he writes is off quality and without an avenue to get that quality heard by the fans he doesn’t have an incentive to spend time and money to create new music for Motley Crue. Gene Simmons, Joe Perry and Yngwie Malmsteen blame the copyright infringers.

Sp how do musicians get their songs heard?

There is the marketing (pitching a product) vs connecting debate.

The marketing to fans is seen as the old rock-star model while the new internet model is all about making connections with the listeners who then decide if they want to be patrons. In a nutshell, people don’t have to pay for music any more however if the music can create an emotional connection, then those listeners will choose to pay for music from their favourite artist. Look at Coheed and Cambria. They are a band that are 14 years deep into their career and their fans are loyal. The vinyl release of their 2003 album “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” flew out the doors. They are content with the world and the connections that they created.

However other artists are not content and they always want more. Blame MTV for making people believe that every musician need to attain platinum sales to have a career in the music industry. This leads to a distorted definition of making it. To some, making it involves platinum albums and covers on magazines. Guess those artists are in for a rude shock. While for other hard-working artists, making it involves earning a living by creating music. If this means playing in cover bands, doing studio work, busking or whatever else needs to be done, they will do it.

Being in the right place at the right time is still bandied about. The difference today is that “place” can be anywhere. It can be a physical place or a place in the digital world. Lorde got traction from being on Sean Fanning’s Spotify playlist. Volbeat got traction in the U.S by opening up for Metallica. Bands like Motley Crue, Ratt, WASP, Quiet Riot and many other L.A acts go traction by riding the wings of a new cultural movement. Five Finger Death Punch opened for Korn and Disturbed and connected with their audiences. Periphery got traction by via online forums, message boards and a regularly-updated Soundclick account.

It’s still all about great songs, a story/narrative to tell, determination, perseverance and luck. Determination is a positive emotion that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. Determination occurs prior to goal attainment and serves to motivate the behaviour that will help achieve one’s goal.

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. (Vince Lombardi)

IN THE END, regardless of what the artist does, it is the LISTENERS/FANS that decide. The power is in their hands. And those relationships start like all relationships with a simple hello.

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