Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Five Rock Songs Spewing Hatred at Record Companies

When rock bands sign big deals with record labels, and become part of the music machine, there are pitfalls they never foresaw ("Write us another hit" or "We need that same album again"). However, the massive dollar signs in musicians' heads can easily become tainted as bands discover how badly they had been ripped off, or were being controlled by their record company or greedy management. So here are five killer songs pointing anger at those labels and record deals.

The Writ by Black Sabbath

"The Writ" was released on one of Black Sabbath's finest albums, Sabotage and it's 8 minutes of hate directed at their former manager Patrick Meehan and record company, Vertigo. It turns out Meehan had been funneling money away while giving the band members just enough to get the houses and cars they wanted. But when Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward found out what was going on, they launched legal action. "The Writ" is a heavy, angry masterpiece directed squarely at Meehan with lyrics like "You bought and sold me with your lying words" and "Are you Satan? Are you man? You changed a lot since it began". And Ozzy's vocal delivery is full of anger and bitterness, which certainly helps make it one of Sabbath's most standout tracks.

Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue) by W.A.S.P.

"Chainsaw Charlie" shows up on W.A.S.P.'s concept album, The Crimson Idol, which is a record (released in 1992) about a fictional rock star named Jonathan Steel. Naturally the story takes a turn into the greed and corruption of record companies and "Chainsaw Charlie" delivers a scathing take on how a company digs its claws in. Surely W.A.S.P. leader and principal songwriter Blackie Lawless experienced exactly what he's writing about when he talks about a record industry bigwig named Charlie being "the President of Showbiz. I'm a cocksucking asshole, that's what they call me. Here from my Hollywood Tower I rule, I'm a lying motherfucker, the chainsaw's my tool." It's an awesome metal song and a highlight from the Idol album.

Slaves & Bulldozers by Soundgarden

It didn't take Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell long to get jaded by the rock world and the band's record company, A&M. On their second release for A&M, the stellar Badmotorfinger, Cornell penned the nearly 8-minute "Slaves & Bulldozers" with its blistering vocal performance displaying the true anger he feels towards the music machine when he's belting out "So bleed your heart out, there's no more rides for free. Bleed your heart out. I said, what's in it for me." In fact, Cornell hits some amazing notes on this song - very fitting for the lyrics and feel of the track.

Have a Cigar by Pink Floyd

"Have a Cigar" shows up on Pink Floyd's amazing Wish You Were Here album, which was the followup to 1973's smash Dark Side of the Moon. After the massive success of Dark Side, there was, no doubt, plenty of pressure from Floyd's Harvest label to make another massive hit album. "Have a Cigar", written by Roger Waters, takes a sarcastic, first-person look at a record company not knowing anything about the bands they represent and wanting only hit records in order to fill the coffers. Roy Harper did a great job with the vocals on the song, hitting just the right amount of derision when he sings "The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think. Oh by the way, which one's Pink?". Another track on the Wish You Were Here album that's anti-record company is "Welcome to the Machine", a good song, but not as rock n roll as "Have a Cigar".

Schoolboy Blues by The Rolling Stones

"Schoolboy Blues" is what you write if you're Keith Richards and Mick Jagger and you owe "one more song" to the record company, which happens to own the rights to most of your previously written material. The Stones got swindled by former managers Allen Klein and Andrew Oldham. Klein's ABKCO Records label actually owns all Stones material and rights from 1963-1969. "Schoolboy Blues" was the song they owed the company, and in true Stones' fashion, they threw up the middle finger and sent in a single that was unplayable, and downright dirty with lyrics (about either Oldham or Klein) and descriptions of sex with pigs and fellatio. After 1969, the Stones formed their own label, Rolling Stones Records, and launched the famous tongue logo at the same time.

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