Category Archives: Behind The Music
Music Discovery Monday – 12/19/16
Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
NICKELBACK – “Dirty Laundry”
The band that everyone seems to love to hate has delivered an energetic cover of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” that dials the heaviness up a notch and adds a cool groove, while staying fairly true to the original. It seems fitting that a song about mass media sensationalism and yellow journalism is featured today, as we are reminded about how ineffective the media has become in a world where facts no longer seem to matter. Critical message aside, this song can still be enjoyed by those who don’t care about the meaning behind the lyrics (provided that you are willing to listen with an open mind to one of the most maligned artists in recent memory).
AFFIANCE – “Africa”
There are two ways to approach a hard rock / metal cover song. Some choose to stay somewhat true to the original, while others choose a different path and infuse a softer song with a heavy dose of adrenaline to make it their own. Affiance chose the latter with their cover of “Africa” (arguably the most well-known song by Toto). Those familiar with the original will hear the striking difference from the first note, and realize that “you’re not in Kansas anymore” (Wizard Of Oz reference for our younger readers).
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
TRIVIUM – “The Storm”
Although this isn’t a new song, it is a new re-mix of the song ,so for those not familiar with Trivium, I present you a “new” song by the band. “The Storm” was originally featured on Trivium’s first album, Ember to Inferno. It has now been re-mixed for their new album, Ab Initio. One of the best songs from their earlier days, fans of the band can hear the progression of the band’s music and vocals. Matt Heafy’s voice has changed considerably over the years; the music was heavier and thrashier than recent releases. Keep in mind that the guys in the band were all around the age of 17 when this album first came out.
IN FLAMES – “Save Me”
The melodic death metal founders from Gothenburg, Sweden are back with their 12th studio album, Battles. Their first single from the album – “Save Me” – is classic In Flames (minus the harsher death metal vocals of yesteryear and with a lot more melody). Older fans may not appreciate the change in direction, but regardless, the band’s attempt at moving forward and changing with the times is welcomed at a time when a lot of metal bands end up sounding the same. Their melodic death metal roots have transformed the band into an almost melodic metalcore (which for some is not a bad thing at all).
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
DAYRIDE RITUAL – “Breaking Down”
Dayride Ritual assembles a cast of talented Florida musicians for hard rock with an abundance of groove. Some of the guys have been playing together since they were kids, and the chemistry certainly comes through in the music. “Breaking Down” is from their new album, Waking up Screaming.
WHITE WIDDOW – “Surrender My Heart”
Australian melodic rockers White Widdow return with their fourth album, Silhouette. They continue to capture that ‘80s vibe with uplifting music delivered in layered harmonies and big, catchy choruses.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com
It’s no secret to any Deep Purple fan that lineup changes through the years have been plentiful. However, most people don’t realize that that band was born out of a supergroup called Roundabout, which by design, had a revolving door policy.
Ritchie Blackmore was the original Roundabout guitarist, but he quickly grew tired of the band, and set out to create his own band with Ian Paice and Jon Lord. The original incarnation of the band included vocalist, Rod Evans, and bassist, Nick Simper. The Deep Purple moniker was inspired by a song by Blackmore’s grandmother’s favorite crooner, Larry Clinton and his Orchestra.
Deep Purple’s first single, “Hush,” was actually a Joe South cover song that garnered them attention in the United States. The band was recruited to be the opening act on Cream’s farewell tour, but was fired after three shows when the audiences starting turning out to see them instead of the headliner. Shortly thereafter, they were back playing pubs in England.
With a trend afoot towards harder music, Blackmore immediately began making lineup changes to create a heavier, blues rock sound. When Evans and Simper were replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, Deep Purple Mark II was formed. This version of the band is what most people envision when they think of the classic lineup, but clashing personalities prevented it from having any continuous staying power.
In spite of the heavier makeup of the band, Lord wanted Deep Purple to do something closer to his roots and play with an orchestra. Blackmore agreed, with the caveat that they would focus on becoming heavier if it didn’t take off and allow them conquer America.
Blackmore knew that he wanted the band to follow a different path, but wasn’t exactly sure what direction to take until Led Zeppelin’s debut helped guide them towards a new sound.
A tragic event would help to launch Deep Purple into the mainstream with arguably the most memorable riff in hard rock music history. The band was in Montreux, Switzerland to record what would become “Machine Head.” They had rented a mobile recording studio from the Rolling Stones at the entertainment complex that was part of the Montreux Casino.
The day before they were to begin recording, Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were playing a concert in the casino’s theater. In the middle of the concert, “some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground.” The fire destroyed the entire complex and left Deep Purple with no place to record their album.
With an expensive mobile recording studio and no place to play, the band was forced to quickly find another recording space. They ended up at the nearly desolate Montreux Grand Hotel and created a makeshift space. The story of their experience became their biggest hit, “Smoke On The Water,” a phrase that came to Roger Glover in his sleep just days after the fire.
“Machine Head” had success in England, but it wasn’t as well-received initially in the United States. The limited traction that they had built in the United States was lost when the band was forced to cancel several dates because Gillan and Blackmore both came down with Hepatitis.
It wasn’t until “Made In Japan” that Deep Purple finally started to build a large following in the United States. The success of the album also helped boost sales of “Machine Head.” With “Smoke On The Water” climbing up the charts, it seemed that the band had finally arrived, but there was trouble on the horizon.
Blackmore and Gillan brought out the best in each other musically, but personally, the two simply did not get along. Blackmore and Paice had opened discussions with Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott about starting a new three-piece blues band, but ultimately decided to stay with Deep Purple as long as Gillan and Glover left the band.
Deep Purple Mark III featured Glenn Hughes on bass, and an unknown blue collar vocalist named David Coverdale, though Blackmore’s first choice was Paul Rodgers. In a matter of weeks, Coverdale went from the obscure working class to traveling on private planes and performing in front of massive audiences.
One of the first shows with the new lineup took place on April 6, 1974 at California Jam, the west coast’s answer to Woodstock. Hundreds of thousands of fans packed into the Ontario Motor Speedway to see Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and other notable acts.
With the concert running ahead of schedule, the promoters tried to get Deep Purple to go on stage before sunset, but Blackmore wouldn’t cooperate. Because of the planned light show, he refused to go on stage until after sunset, and ended up hiding so that the band couldn’t be forced to take the stage.
During their performance, a cameraman kept prodding Blackmore for a camera shot. What he received was an assault on his camera by one of Blackmore’s classic Fender guitars. But that was only the beginning. Unbeknownst to the rest of the band, Blackmore had planned a pyrotechnic explosion with his guitar tech, but a misfire caused several amps and pieces of equipment to go up in flames. The band ended up helicoptering off of the stage to elude angry fire marshals.
Deep Purple’s performance at California Jam may have angered the powers that be, but when word spread about the show, American audiences were clamoring for their chance to experience the mayhem first-hand.
By 1974, Blackmore had soured on the groovy, melodic direction that the band had taken on their “Stormbringer” release, so he decided to pull the plug on Deep Purple and form Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, a band with one big ego instead of five.
With Blackmore gone, the band decided to move forward with Tommy Bolin on guitar. Lord had planned on leaving the band after Blackmore left, but decided to stay when he heard Bolin play. But the fans weren’t as accepting as Lord. They made life very difficult for Bolin as he tried to replace the guitar legend. He eventually died of a heroin overdose after he had already left the band.
In March of 1976, after a concert in Liverpool, founding members, Lord and Paice, shook hands and agreed that Deep Purple had run its course.
In 1984, the classic Deep Purple lineup reunited after being offered a large sum of money by a record company. “Perfect Strangers” was a commercially successful album that fed off of the tension that never really went away between Blackmore and Gillan. Although the classic lineup was back together, it wasn’t destined to last.
“We weren’t really a band,” states Glover. “We were a dysfunctional outfit. Ritchie was off on his own, and Gillan was drinking again, a little too much.”
Old tensions arose as Gillan wanted to tour extensively, but Blackmore didn’t. In 1989, after an ultimatum forcing the band to choose between the two, Blackmore remained in the band. The departed Gillan was briefly replaced by Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow).
Turner left the band in 1992, and was replaced once again by Gillan. The band would record one final album with the classic lineup, “The Battle Rages On” (released in 1993). However, the battle didn’t rage on for very long this time around.
While touring in support of the record, in November of 1993, Blackmore walked off the stage in the middle of a concert in Helsinki. It would be his final appearance with the band.
With a tour of Japan about to kick off, the band was left without a guitarist. They approached Japanese fan-favorite, Joe Satriani, who initially declined because he had no interest in trying to replace the legendary Blackmore. Eventually, he gave in, and the tour was a tremendous success. However, Satriani never aspired to become a permanent member of the band.
Satriani was replaced by Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs) in November of 1994. Morse’s arrival created a seventh incarnation of Deep Purple that lasted until 2002, when an aging Lord amicably left the band because he no longer had the energy to continue touring. He was replaced by Don Airey (Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne) to create Mark VIII of Deep Purple, a lineup that is still intact to this day.
In July of 2012, while Deep Purple was recording their latest album, “Now What?!” – Lord lost his battle with cancer. According to his family, Lord was still composing music in his mind just hours before his passing, playing notes in the air while on his deathbed.
Lord’s passing deeply saddened his former bandmates, who will always consider him a part of the band.
“Souls having touched are forever entwined,” stated Gillan when reflecting on the life of his friend and former bandmate.
Deep Purple’s longevity with numerous lineup changes is something that is unlikely to ever be duplicated again in music. The current lineup has the best chemistry in the history of the band, so there is no telling how much longer the band will go on. When the band finally calls it a day, they will go down in history as one of the bands (along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin) that gave the world the spark that ignited the fire of hard rock and heavy metal.
Long before the term “extreme” was used to describe an entire subgenre of metal, Pantera was laying the foundation for other extreme metal bands with its aggressive style that hit listeners like a punch in the face, an image that would later be captured on their Vulgar Display Of Power album.
It all started on Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott’s 12th birthday, when was given his first guitar as a gift. It quickly became his biggest obsession. A foot soldier in the KISS Army, Dimebag would play his new guitar dressed as Ace Frehley. Together with his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul, the Arlington, TX Abbott brothers eventually followed in the footsteps of their rock heroes.
Pantera started out as a glam rock band with a reputation as the kings of southwest spandex in 1981 before they were of age to get into bars. The band’s extreme metal sound didn’t happen until 1986, when Dimebag, Vinnie and bassist, Rex Brown, parted ways with original frontman Terry Glaze in favor of 19-yr old, New Orleans native, Phil Anselmo. Inspired by bands like Metallica and Slayer, the new lineup wore jeans, t-shirts and focused only on creating music that would terrify people.
THE BIG BREAK
After constant rejection by record labels, the band finally got their big break when label executive, Mark Ross, saw the band playing at a birthday party in Texas. A few songs into the set, Ross left to call his boss to let him know that he was going to sign Pantera. In July of 1990, Pantera made their ATCO Records debut with Cowboys From Hell.
A few months after the release of Cowboys From Hell, Pantera began touring with heavy-hitting bands Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus, traveling to each gig in a beat-up RV with no headlights. Their brutal live show featured intense, frenzied mosh pits; Anselmo fueled the fire from the stage. The band itself was fueled by copious amounts of liquor, Dimebag in particular. They prided themselves on being the only band to mandate drinking to keep your job. It got to the point where the band couldn’t play without drinking first. A breathalyzer was used to make sure that each member was properly inebriated before taking the stage.
By 1994, the metal genre was struggling to survive, drowning in the overwhelming popularity of grunge. Pantera took it upon themselves to make sure that metal survived and got its due recognition. Already one of the heaviest bands around, Pantera took it to another level with their Far Beyond Driven album. With no radio or MTV support, the album still managed to debut at #1 on the Billboard Album Chart, but there was trouble on the horizon.
During the Far Beyond Driven tour, Anselmo started distancing himself from the band. His violent stage performances started to take a toll on his body, and his chronic back pain led to erratic behavior. The mixture of painkillers and a bottle of Wild Turkey to numb the pain greatly affected Anselmo’s performance.
Despite the band’s coaxing, he refused to go to seek medical treatment. Doctors had already told him that the necessary surgery would sideline him for at least 18 months. With his condition worsening, Anselmo turned to heroin to numb the pain, a solution that he admits was akin to “putting a Band-Aid over cancer.”
Dimebag’s best friend, legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde, referred to Pantera as an “unstoppable wrecking ball,” an accurate description of their music, but unfortunately, not the band.
The disconnect between Anselmo and the rest of the band continued to grow in 1996 during the recording of The Great Southern Trend Kill. While the rest of Pantera recorded in Texas, Anselmo chose to stay in New Orleans to lay down his vocal tracks. The band had no idea that their frontman had turned to heroin until July of 1996 when he overdosed in Texas, needing paramedics to save him with adrenaline and oxygen. The following night, Anselmo apologized to the band and crew, and promised that it wouldn’t happen again. He would relapse two more times, and his ongoing struggle began tearing the band apart.
Pantera stayed out of the studio for four years as they waited for Anselmo, but came back with a vengeance in 2000 with their Grammy-nominated Reinventing The Steel album. The harmony within the band would be short-lived. Old tensions resurfaced on the road as Anselmo pushed away everyone who loved and cared about him.
DOWN AND OUT
The Reinventing The Steel tour was cut short by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the band would never again perform together.
During the break caused by 9/11, Anselmo formed Down and recorded an album. He also recorded with Superjoint Ritual. All the while, Dimebag and Vinnie were waiting for Anselmo to continue with Pantera. After two years of waiting, and not even hearing from Anselmo for a year, the Abbott brothers reluctantly ended Pantera.
The idol time spent waiting for Anselmo sent Dimebag spiraling into depression, so he made his peace with the perils of Pantera, and formed Damageplan with Vinnie in 2003. Their debut album, New Found Power, was released in February of 2004, and sold nearly 45,000 copies in its first week. Sadly, the album was the first and last by Damageplan.
On December 8, 2004, Damageplan was wrapping up a two-month long club tour at Alrosa Villa in Colombus, OH. Ten seconds into the set, a 25-yr old ex-marine stormed the stage and shot Dimebag with a 9mm pistol, killing him instantly. The gunman killed three others as he tried to get to Vinnie, and shot John “Kat” Brooks in the chest, arm and leg as the drum tech tried to subdue him.
At 10:18pm, three minutes after receiving the 911 call, the police arrived on the scene. Officer James Niggemayer ended the mayhem when he shot and killed the gunman who was holding Brooks at gunpoint. Amazingly, Brooks survived the gunshots, and was released from the hospital three days later.
Vinnie describes the disturbing footage caught on tape as a “real bad movie.”
Dimebag’s death at the age of 38 sent shockwaves through the metal world. The memorial service in his honor was a true rock and roll sendoff that seemed like something out of a movie. It was filled with rock stars paying their respects to Dimebag, who was laid to rest in a KISS casket.
Eddie Van Halen placed the guitar from Van Halen II in the casket. Zakk Wylde placed 15 bottles of Crown Royal in the casket, making sure that his friend had enough alcohol for his final journey. The memorial service was a who’s who of rock, but not everyone was welcome to say goodbye to the fallen guitar hero.
Estranged former Pantera frontman, Phil Anselmo, made the trip to Texas, but never left his hotel room. After several phone calls, Dimebag’s wife, Rita Haney, finally got on the phone with Anselmo and told him not to show up to the memorial, and that she would blow his head off if he did.
GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN – LIFE AFTER DIME
Vinnie is back on the metal scene with his new band Hell Yeah. Anselmo , who still plays with Down, has a chip on his shoulder and harbors a lot of anger towards the members of the press who blame him for Dimebag’s death. Vinnie also blames Anselmo for his brother’s death and the demise of Pantera, and all indications are that he will never forgive him, although Anselmo would welcome the chance to make peace.
Dimebag may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Every year on his birthday, a Ride For Dime event takes place in Dallas, TX and in Colombus, OH to honor Dimebag and the other fallen victims: Erin Halk, the hero who died tackling the gunman, Jeff Thompson (band security) and Nathan Bray.
Would Pantera ever have resolved their issues and gotten back together if Dimebag was still alive today? Unfortunately, Pantera fans will never know the answer to that question.
Most people think of Twisted Sister as Dee Snider’s creation that took the heavy metal world by storm in 1984 and then quickly disappeared. While 1984 was definitely the pinnacle of their career, it was neither the beginning nor the end.
Twisted Sister was founded by Jay Jay French in 1971 as a gender bending cover band in the mold of the New York Dolls. Ironically, French’s inspiration for starting Twisted Sister was to get off of drugs. It wasn’t until 1976, after three years of toiling away in suburban New York City clubs, that they discovered Snider, a self-proclaimed angry reject with few friends and even fewer believers that he would succeed in life.
As a high school outcast, Snider would spend his days after school singing Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath songs into the mirror. He was determined to create his own destiny as a frontman and prove his many detractors wrong.
It didn’t take long for the charismatic singer to become the leader of the band, despite the fact that he had never written a song before joining Twisted Sister. But success didn’t come quickly for the band, even with Snider’s anti-establishment anthems of rage.
Twisted Sister’s motto…“look like women, talk like men and play like motherfuckers” did nothing to help their cause. Record labels avoided them like the plague, so much so that label executive, Jason Flom, was fired just for mentioning their name.
BEST KEPT SECRET
They enjoyed local success in New York, but the perception that they were nothing more than a club band left them with no choice but to sign a deal overseas with the aptly named, Secret Records. Their debut album, Under The Blade, made them an instant sensation on the underground club scene, but they still could not attract a mainstream audience.
The band was so despised by mainstream audiences that they were bombarded by a barrage of food, bottles and cans when they played the Redding Festival in 1982. But that wasn’t the worst of it. After the show, it was discovered that one fan threw a box filled with excrement at the band. Snider laughed as he pondered aloud “how mad do you have to be to take a shit in a crowd of 30,000 people, pick it up and throw it at the band?”
YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK AND ROLL
Although they survived the vulgar reception that they received in Redding, the band nearly broke up when Secret Records went under. With one more chance to make an impression on the world with a live performance on a British television show called The Tube, Snider threw caution to the wind and berated the audience for not accepting the band for what they were.
Amazingly, the crowd loved it, and Twisted Sister’s career was saved, though they were still persona non grata with label executives, including Phil Carson, who signed them to Atlantic Records in Europe, but didn’t even want to meet the band. If not for the goodwill that Carson had banked by signing AC/DC and Yes, his head may very well have been on the chopping block when he reported his signing of Twisted Sister back to Atlantic Records headquarters in the United States.
In June of 1983, Twisted Sister released You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll. With virtually no label support, the band still managed to sell 100,000 copies of the album when MTV used part of the song in one of their promos.
THE RISE TO THE TOP
In 1984, music videos were still relatively new and fairly basic. Snider, now the official face of the band due to the Stay Hungry album cover, created the first music video with a storyline for the band’s signature hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The video, along with the follow-up video for “I Wanna Rock” propelled the album to quadruple platinum.
After years of struggling, Twisted Sister had finally arrived. Their videos, which featured cartoon-type violence, attracted audiences as young as elementary school age. It wasn’t long before entire families started showing up to their concerts. Unfortunately, their ability to attract a young audience played an integral part in their eventual downfall.
ROCK AND ROLL OUTLAWS
In October of 1984, in Amarillo, TX, a couple brought their 9-yr old son to a Twisted Sister concert. Appalled by the band’s act and Snider’s foul language, they called the Amarillo police to file disorderly conduct charges. The matter was eventually settled when Snider paid a $75 fine, but it set the wheels in motion to destroy Twisted Sister. Suddenly, they were the poster children for everything that was wrong with rock and roll, and they were accused of pedaling smut by Tipper Gore and the PMRC.
In September of 1985, Snider appeared before the Senate. Accused of producing violent music videos, Snider’s defense was that the videos contained cartoon, Roadrunner-inspired violence where no one was ever injured. When asked what S.M.F. stood for, Snider responded truthfully to the uptight panel…“sick motherfuckin’ fans of Twisted Sister.” Needless to say, they were not amused.
Painted into a corner and forced to defend himself, Snider stated that he was a tea-totaling family man who never drank, smoked or did drugs, a revelation that would ultimately destroy his credibility with Twisted Sister fans.
NO LONGER HUNGRY
Aside from his issues with the PMRC, Snider’s life was good…too good in fact. As the primary songwriter for Twisted Sister, he was getting very rich and living a lifestyle that most would envy, including his bandmates whose earnings paled in comparison to Snider’s.
The man who spent his whole life angry and trying to prove something to the world could no longer dig deep enough to write lyrics that spoke to the fans. To make matters worse, Snider had become domineering and turned on the band.
Fully entrenched as “the leader of the pack,” Snider’s lack of rage contributed to the band’s downfall. The follow-up album to Stay Hungry, entitled Come Out And Play, fell on deaf ears and barely went gold.
HITTING ROCK BOTTOM
All of the band members blamed Snider for their precipitous fall from grace, but none more than Mark “The Animal” Mendoza who readily admits that he would have been happy to see Snider die, although he didn’t want to be the one to cause it.
When a promising career falls by the wayside, there are bound to be regrets. And though Snider eventually filed bankruptcy and took a minimum wage job which he traveled to by bicycle because he no longer owned a car, his biggest regret was the falling out with Mendoza (his best friend). French also ended up filing bankruptcy, but rebounded in a faster, more dignified way as the eventual manager of the band Sevendust.
REUNITED BY TRAGIC TIMES
Twisted Sister reunited to play a private birthday party for Jason Flom in the summer of 2000, but the reunion was short-lived as Mendoza wanted nothing to do with Snider or the band. If not for a tragedy of epic proportions, Twisted Sister may very well not have played together again, but the events of 9/11 brought the native New York band back together to help raise money for 9/11 charities.
The concert fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom, spearheaded by Eddie Trunk, featured Twisted Sister as the headliner. In spite of the bond created by 9/11, Mendoza was still hesitant, and brought a (licensed) gun with him to the band’s first rehearsal.
RISING FROM THE ASHES
They didn’t plan on staying together beyond the Hammerstein Ballroom concert, but in early 2002, they received an offer to headline Sweden Rock for more money than they had ever made before. Nearly 20 years after their peak, Twisted Sister, through an unusual turn of events, reclaimed their headliner status, but that is not the strangest thing that happened to them.
Back in 1985, when Snider was being grilled in Senate hearings, no one would have ever predicted that, 18 years later, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” would be the campaign song for the future Governor of California. Of course, no one would have predicted that the Governor in question would be named Schwarzenegger either.
A SISTER LESS TWISTED
Twisted Sister’s Christmas album entitled A Twisted Christmas was a surprise to many, but it has been well-received in hard rock circles. The band continues to play today sans makeup and outrageous outfits, a look born of out necessity after Snider showed up five minutes before a show via helicopter, leaving no time for makeup. Although unintentional, the late arrival may have been a blessing in disguise as the stripped down version of the band allows them to be taken more seriously and allows the music speak for itself.
Though they’ve had their share of ups and downs, the members of Twisted Sister finally seem to be at peace with whatever the future may hold.
The once angry Mendoza said “I don’t think that it will last much longer, but I would do it forever.” And Snider, who has created a niche for himself on radio and various reality television shows is proud to say that “these old men are still kicking ass!”