Friday, October 28, 2016

Why Sharon Osbourne is the Biggest Bitch in Rock n' Roll

If there's one person on the rock world who is the least deserving of anyone's respect, it's Sharon Osbourne.

Simply put, the wife of Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne is a bitch of the first degree.

While she may now be the star of X Factor and other lame reality/TV talk shows, her negative influence in the rock world shames her and removes any credit she should have.

Who else but a total, greedy fool would have two of the finest hard rock albums ever (Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of Madman) featuring the late, great guitarist Randy Rhoads, re-recorded with new bass and drum parts after losing a songwriting credit lawsuit?

Sharon.

The idea being if the albums were recorded again, original bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake wouldn't get future royalties for the songwriting they did on the records, but never originally got credit for (which led to a 1986 lawsuit against Jet records, owned by Sharon's father, Don Arden - won by Daisley and Kerslake).

So Sharon decided (she claimed it was Ozzy's decision, which he totally disputes in his autobiography) to redo the bass and drums using then Ozzy bassist and current Metallica four-stringer Robert Trujillo and drummer Mike Bordin. The albums were released again in 2002. It was blasphemy.

Naturally fans went ballistic at the move and, in 2011, a 30-year anniversary of the records was released with the original recordings.

Sharon became Ozzy's manager in 1981, right around the release of Diary and then they were married in 1982, upon when she basically starting telling Ozzy what to do, when to do it and how high to jump. For some great insight into the recording of Blizzard and Diary plus his thoughts on Sharon Ozbourne, check out Bob Daisley's recounting of those days.

And in keeping with being the ultimate shyster, she lied to former Ozzy Guitarist Jake E. Lee when he joined Ozzy to record 1983's Bark at the Moon.

According to Lee, he was promised credit for helping write on the album, but as soon as he'd finished the last track, Sharon offered him a contract that stated Ozzy wrote everything and would get all the publishing royalties.

Here's what Lee said on Eddie Trunk's show, talking about the contract: "And I looked at it. I’m looking at Sharon, and I said, ‘This is not what you told me before.’ And she says, ‘No, it isn’t.’

"‘Why do you think I’m gonna sign it?’" said Lee.

"‘Because if you don’t, we’ll give you a plane ticket, you go back home and you stand in line and you sue us. In the meantime, we have all your tracks, we’ll get another guitar player, he’ll redo your tracks, and you’ll have nothing'," replied Sharon.

Wow.

Sharon Osbourne Messed with Iron Maiden

Sharon easily took her bitchy self to new heights during the final Ozzfest show of 2005 at Glen Helen in California.

On that day, after Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson slagged the corporate crowd in the front rows and Ozzy's use of a teleprompter, Sharon admittedly ordered the Maiden P.A. system to be cut (three times) during their set, and then had members of Maiden pelted with eggs and ice.

Sharon finally admitted she was responsible, arguing "(Dickison) didn't realize who he is messing with", adding he got what he deserved and from there, one of rock's biggest feuds began.

Why is Bill Ward Not Part of Black Sabbath Reunion?

Lastly when you look at Sharon Osbourne, you need think critically about why original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward is not part of the ongoing Sabbath reunion and final tour.

No doubt Ward wanted to play on the 13 record, then play the tour. But, according to him, he was never offered equal compensation back in 2012 when the ball got rolling to cap Sabbath's distinguished career.

At the time, the drummer was presented with a take-it-or-leave-it "unsignable contract", which he did not sign. Now who was the one behind the scenes managing Black Sabbath's affairs? You guessed it - Sharon Osbourne, even though she's not Black Sabbath's de facto manager, she still has a huge say in the goings on of the band.

And what about all the social media hype surrounding Sabbath's The End Tour - where all the old band promo pictures posted on Facebook had Ward's image cropped out, so newbie Black Sabbath fans might well think they were a three-piece band of Ozzy, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler. How can you show old pictures of one of the greatest hard rock bands in the world with the drummer cropped out? Insane.

It's just another episode in Sharon Osbourne's cache of bitchy moves.

Six Greatest Halloween Metal Songs

With All Hallows' Eve quickly approaching, we thought we'd compile a list of the greatest metal tracks with a spooky Halloween spirit to them. Not all are about Halloween per se, but they are great songs to crank up and get into the Halloween mood.

"Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" - Type O Negative

The most well-know Type O Negative song is found on the Bloody Kisses album. With late vocalist Peter Steele's trademark vampiric tones and the band's doomy sound, you can't go wrong. And the gothic atmosphere of this track is all the more strong when backed by lyrics like "It's All Hallows' Eve, the moon is full. Will she trick or treat? I bet she will."

"Halloween" by Helloween

An epic, 13-minute opus from 1987's Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part II record, this song from the German power metal band blends heavy power chords with melodic vocals and more than just a hint of Mercyful Fate influence. The foreboding lyrics suggest evil spirits are about on Halloween coming to get all those wandering about on the darkened streets.

"Night of the Living Dead" - Misfits

Inspired by the horror movie of the same name, "Night of the Living Dead" is a Misfits classic from Walk Among Us. It's Glenn Danzig writing about the zombie apocalypse, which today would feature well on The Walking Dead. You gotta have some good, punky horror music on Halloween.

"Bark at the Moon" - Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy's classic 1983 ode to werewolves and darkness belongs on any Halloween music list. With one of Jake E. Lee's greatest riffs carrying the song at a frantic pace, Ozzy delivers the werewolf howls fit for All Hallows' Eve along with some dark lyrics including "Those that the Beast is looking for listen in awe and you'll hear him ..... Bark at the Moon."

"Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath

Simply put, if you want to scare any trick or treaters, put this song on repeat so it's within earshot of kids when they come to the door.. The tolling of the bell in the rain, Tony Iommi's evil riff along with Ozzy's vocals are enough to scare any kid out of their costume. The original heavy metal song of evil works perfectly as a Halloween masterpiece.

"Halloween" by King Diamond

Off King Diamond's 1986 debut album Fatal Portrait, "Halloweeen" is a tour de force of classic heavy metal, featuring King Diamond's evil, high-pitched wail and some tasty, crunchy guitar riffs. It's the perfect mix of melody and heavy. Definitely add this one to your Halloween metal playlist!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Steve Clark: Def Leppard's Late, Unsung Guitarist Deserves More Kudos

So many rock stars who die before their time become more iconic in death than they were in life.

Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Bon Scott, Randy Rhoads are but three examples from a long list of fallen rockers.

Sadly, though, late Def Leppard guitarist Steve "Steamin'" Clark is rarely talked about in terms of the stellar legacy he left behind when he died in 1991 at the age of 30.

Maybe it's because he wasn't Def Leppard's frontman. Maybe it's because he was fairly low key in the band.

Whatever the case, Clark a co-founder of Leppard with ex-guitarist Pete Willis (ironically kicked out of the band for too much boozing in 1982), vocalist Joe Elliott and bassist Rick Savage, was instrumental in writing most of Def Leppard's tracks during their stratospheric rise to stardom in the 1980s from their debut On Through The Night, through High N Dry, Pyromania and Hysteria. Despite not playing on 1992's Adrenalize, Clark co-wrote most of the tracks.

Whether it's "Hello America", "Let It Go", "Switch 625", "Bringin' On the Heartbreak", "Photograph", Rock of Ages", "Hysteria", or "Gods of War", Clark had a hand in crafting those songs and helped Def Leppard reach the top of the rock 'n roll mountain.

Yet, despite that, he seems to never get his due for what he did, unlike Cobain or Rhoads.

Despite Def Leppard's Success, Depression Dogged Clark

Despite his phenomenal talent as a songwriter (one his nicknames was "The Riffmaster") and the amazing success Def Leppard enjoyed, Clark was a depressed alcoholic, who numbed his pain with booze and drugs (both prescription and hard drugs like cocaine).

Tragically, everyone around him knew he would wind up dead, but they couldn't stop it. And Clark seemed resigned to his fate.

His father, Barry, noted in a VH1 documentary his son was " really looking worse for wear" at Christmas in 1990. Barrie recalls telling his son that if he kept on drinking, he'd kill himself. To that Clark responded "Well, I'm not bothered anyway."

Before he died, the members of Leppard and those around them knew Clark was in major trouble, heading down a one-way street to nowhere, so an intervention was held in 1989 after a doctor addressed the serious damage Clark was doing to himself.

Bandmates, longtime producer Mutt Lange, as well as friends were on hand to lay it out for Clark, who, according to guitarist Phil Collen in his autobiography Adrenalized “... sat there with a cigarette taking it all in. Mutt gave him a big hug, then we all hugged him and told him that we loved him. That was a very tearful and emotional experience for all involved, especially when the doctor explained to us that about 70 percent of alcoholics who get to this level usually end up getting killed either by accident or overuse.”

Clark then agreed to go into rehab ( his last of several attempts ) in Tucson, where he met recovering heroin addict Janie Dean, an American. They moved in together and got engaged, but according to Collen, both continued with substance abuse. She was the person who found Clark dead on their couch in their Chelsea home on Jan. 8, 1991.

Clark's Last Night and Death

The night before he died, Dean and Clark were supposed to take in a theatre production, but he'd been out drinking before they were going to leave, so the couple decided to stay home. However, according to Dean, at 8 p.m. on Jan. 7, Clark told her he was going to go out for 10 minutes. He came back four hours later, extremely drunk with a buddy. Clark passed out on the couch and never woke again.

An autopsy confirmed the cause of death was compression of the brain stem - which caused respiratory failure - due to excessive alcohol mixed with anti-depressants and pain killers. According to Dean, he was taking Prozac, Valium, and would also do cocaine.

At the time he died, Clark was on an unofficial six-month leave from the band, so he could focus on getting healthy.

So ended the sad story of one of rock's great songwriters and guitarists. One of Clark's nicknames was "Riffmaster" and when you listen to Def Leppard's first four albums, you know why.

After his passing, Sacramento rock band Tesla, who toured with Def Leppard, wrote a tribute song to honour Clark called "Song and Emotion". And Leppard wrote "White Lightning" for the "Adrenalize" record. The song looks at their and Clark's struggles with substance abuse. Check it out below.

See how founding Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis was fired from the band during the Pyromania recording sessions

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five of the Most Underrated Metal Albums of the 1980s

The 1980s was a huge decade for heavy metal and hard rock thanks to plenty of radio airplay and emergence of MTV and MuchMusic. While there were many, many great albums produced, some of them were largely overlooked by metal fans thanks to a lack of marketing or minimal exposure on video channels and radio airplay. If you haven't heard any of these five albums, do yourself a favour and check them out!

Mechanical Resonance by Tesla

The debut release from the Sacramento quintet is a hard rock tour-de-force that's exceptionally produced by metal heavyweights Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero. Released in 1986, a couple of tracks "Little Suzi" and "Modern Day Cowboy" got some airplay on MTV and MuchMusic in Canada. Mechanical Resonance is an album that kicks ass from the extended string scratch and solo to open the record on "EZ Come, EZ Go" to the trippy ballad "Right Before My Eyes" that closes the album. Aside from the stellar vocals of Jeff Keith, guitarists Tommy Skeoch and Frank Hannon provide the punch on this album with their brilliant fretwork.

Last Decade Dead Century by Warrior Soul

A band that should have been much bigger than they were, Warrior Soul burst onto metal scene in 1990 with their debut Last Decade Dead Century, a bleak look, from the gutter, at the drug scene in American ghettos, Cold War politics and the rampant consumerism that took over in the '80s. Mixing great melody and harmonies with heavy guitar, Last Decade Dead Century is an album that stands out among the tiring generic metal that was coming out at the end of the decade. There isn't a weak song in this record, which only suffers from production that could be improved. "We Cry Out", "The Losers" and "Charlie's Out of Prison" are exceptional tracks.

Rage For Order by Queensrÿche

Many metal fans know Queensrÿche's opus Operation: Mindcrime, but the record they produced before it is just as good. Rage for Order is the band's sophomore studio album, released in 1986. Among the album's 11 tracks are all-time Queensrÿche greats like "The Whisper", "Neue Regal", "Walk in the Shadows" and "London". The album, a fine blend of metal and progressive rock, took five years before it went Gold in the U.S. (500,000 sales), showing how under-appreciated it was upon release. Production-wise, it sounds better than their debut "The Warning" thanks to Neil Kernon, who worked with the band on the record.

Vices by Kick Axe

When record companies began churning out hard rock records in 1984 after the success of Def Leppard's Pyromania and Quiet Riot's Metal Health, one of the bands they stumbled upon was Kick Axe, who originally hailed from Regina, Saskatchewan. Vices was the Canadian band's debut album and was produced by Spencer Proffer, the guy who was behind the board on Metal Health. Vices is built around hard rock anthems like "Heavy Metal Shuffle", "Stay on Top" and "On The Road To Rock" with big choruses and crunchy riffs. Despite getting some airplay in Canada on MuchMusic, the album didn't propel the band to the top.

Act III by Death Angel

Another record that straddled the 1980s, Act III was released in 1990 after being recorded in 1989. With uber producer Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Savatage, Loudness) at the helm, Act III is a great sounding record blending thrash, classic metal, a bit of funk "Discontinued" and the amazing ballad "Room With A View". MTV played "Room With A View" and "Seemingly Endless Time" but the album never really went anywhere. While Act III is an underrated record, it should be noted how underrated Rob Cavestany is a songwriter and guitarist. Without him, there is no Death Angel.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Story of Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"

In 1973, Black Sabbath were riding high on the success of their Vol. IV album and mammoth tour of the U.S., Australia and Europe.

But when it came time to work on the Vol. IV follow up album, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne found the writing well had simply run dry.

Despite trying to duplicate the surroundings and good times they had when writing Vol. IV - renting a house in Bel Air, snorting up bagfuls of cocaine and using LA's Record Plant Studios - they just couldn't replicate that magic in the summer of 1973. The drugs were taking a toll and Iommi, the guy everybody was waiting on to come up with the songs, had the musician's version of writer's block.

"Everybody was sitting there waiting for me to come up with something. I just couldn't think of anything. And if I didn't come up with anything, nobody would do anything," said Iommi in in the book Wheels of Confusion: The Story of Black Sabbath.

So after a fruitless month in LA, Sabbath returned to their English roots and rented a medieval castle, Clearwell Castle, in Gloucestershire, England, to work on writing new songs. The castle was well known to bands after Bad Company had worked within its gothic halls and dungeons. Later Led Zeppelin would rehearse some songs from the In Through the Out Door sessions there.

The Riff That Saved Black Sabbath

With a ton of pressure still weighing the band down, Iommi had an epiphany in the castle dungeon when he stumbled upon the mammoth riff that would become Sabbath Bloody Sabbath's title track and savior of the band.

In an interview with Guitar World, Butler tells how low the band was before Iommi came up with that amazing riff: "We almost thought that we were finished as a band ... Once Tony came out with the initial riff for 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' we went 'We're baaaack!'"

Certainly the spookiness of the castle served as an inspiration for Sabbath, who soon discovered a ghost lurked within the walls.

"We rehearsed in the armoury there and one night I was walking down the corridor with Ozzy and we saw this figure in a black cloak ... We followed this figure back into the armoury and there was absolutely no one there," recalled Iommi in 1998. "Whoever it was had disappeared into thin air! The people that owned the castle knew all about this ghost and they said, 'Oh yes, that's the ghost of so and so. We were like 'What!?'"

Butler, in Wheels of Confusion: The Story of Black Sabbath, adds the medieval setting served as an inspiration: "It was really creepy but it had some atmosphere, it conjured up things, and stuff started coming out again."

With songs in hand, Sabbath would end up recording the album at London's Morgan Studios. It was released in December 1973, and on Jan. 1, 1974 in the U.S.

"The Pinnacle" for Sabbath

Indeed, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of the band's best albums. In addition to the title track, "A National Acrobat", "Killing Yourself To Live" and "Spiral Architect" are among Black Sabbath's greatest tracks.

Iommi even called it "the pinnacle" for Black Sabbath.

Additionally, the album's cover is one of the most iconic in metal history. It was painted by Drew Struzan and is immediately with its depiction of an evil death on the front, and a good death on the back fold.

Speaking of that period in the band's history, Osbourne noted it was "the beginning of the end" for the band.

"Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was really the album after which I should have said goodbye because after that I really started unravelling", Osbourne told Mojo. "Then we ended up falling out of favour with each other."

Friday, October 14, 2016

Making For Those About To Rock ... A Burden to Bear For AC/DC

When you're tasked with following up one of the greatest rock records ever made, you know it won't be easy.

Such was the case for AC/DC as the they got ready to enter the studio in Paris during the early summer of 1981, hot on the heels of their critically acclaimed blockbuster Back in Black album.

What they came out with, For Those About To Rock We Salute You, could be considered Back in Black's bastard son, since most people revere the latter, holding it in such high regard, while For Those About To Rock is more the forgotten son, and doesn't get that kind of love these days, even though it went to No. 1 in the U.S., something Back in Black never did.

Make no mistake, however, For Those About To Rock deserves plenty of kudos as a great album, but it was a massive weight to bare for the Aussie rockers at the time.

As with Back in Black and Highway to Hell before it, Angus Young and Co. decided on working with producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange once again.

Sound Issues Impacted Early Recording Sessions

After rehearsing the songs for the album, the band headed into the EMI-Pathé Marconi Studios in early July, where they were ready to lay down basic tracks.

But after trying and trying, they just couldn't get the right sound, or a sound that Lange was happy with. Heck, the story goes they worked for three days just on the snare drum sound alone. Only the snare drum.

Singer Brian Johnson recalls "The studio came highly recommended, but we just couldn't get a good live sound. Mutt finally said 'This is hard work - we're missing the point.'"

So in August 1981, after trying (and not liking) several different studios around Paris, the uber rock producer found a solution to their recording problems: He’d simply moved the operation to a rehearsal space on the outskirts of Paris, and hired the Mobile One Studio from London to record the group. The sound was deemed solid, and recording began anew with basic track. Vocals and overdubs were completed at Family Sound Studio and overdubs at HIS Studios and recording was finished in September, ending a five-month process that included lots of tinkering by Lange. Back in Black was done in two months.

Malcolm Young would famously say, in a 1992 interview that "I don't think anyone, neither the band or the producer, could tell whether it sounded right or wrong. Everyone was fed up with the whole album."

Lange is a notorious perfectionist in the studio, and it's highly probably AC/DC were more than fed up with doing take after take, especially since it was their third time working with him.

So, it's not surprising For Those About To Rock was the last time the Aussie rockers worked with Lange.

While the album sounds very polished and crisp, their follow-up records, 1983's Flick of the Switch and 1985's Fly on the Wall were self-produced, with neither boasting exceptional sound, certainly nothing as sonic as found on the Lange-produced records. Neither Flick of the Switch nor Fly on the Wall sold particularly well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Five Greatest Ballads by The Rolling Stones

Labelled as the Greatest Rock N' Roll band in the world, the Rolling Stones have also produced their fair share of ballads over the years. With dozens of slow songs in their lengthy catalogue, choosing the top five is no easy feat, so this list actually features six songs listed (in no particular order) because it's a dead heat between "Waiting on a Friend" and "Beast of Burden". So here are the Stones' best ballads:

"Angie" from Goat's Head Soup (1973)

Arguably the most well-known Stones ballad, "Angie" is a heart-tearing ballad about an ending romance. The mournful string section adds very nicely to the overall sad tone of the track, which was mostly written by Keith Richards, including the sorrowful and distinct piano lines, which were played on the album by legendary Stones session man, Nicky Hopkins. There are various tales about who the song is actually about, with Richards first claiming the title and inspiration came from the birth of his daughter, Angela. But in his autobiography Life, Richards said the name was totally random and it "wasn't about any particular person". However David Bowie's ex-wife, Angie, maintains she was the inspiration. Either way, it's a fantastic Stones ballad.

"Winter" from Goat's Head Soup

One of the Rolling Stones most under-appreciated songs, "Winter" is the highlight from "Goat's Head Soup". While there is no doubt guitarist Mick Taylor helped write it, along with Mick Jagger, he never got credit. It was credited as a Jagger/Richards collaboration, but Richards doesn't play a single note. "Winter" features some stellar guitar playing from Taylor and a beautiful string section adding another layer to the track. It's a great example of a track where the feel of the music mirrors the lyrics.

"Wild Horses" off Sticky Fingers (1971)

Another popular ballad, "Wild Horses" is one of those songs that gets better and better the more you hear it, thanks to the many, layered guitar parts and fantastic vocal harmonies from Jagger and Richards during the chorus. Largely written by Richards, it was recorded at Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama in December, 1969. It's Richards playing the country-like guitar licks on the track, which took only two-takes to nail down (virtually unheard of for the Stones at the time, who were notorious for taking forever in the studio). As an interesting side note, it's Jim Dickinson playing piano, not Ian Stewart (who was at Muscle Shoals), because Stewart didn't like playing minor chords (it's starts with a B-minor chord). Richards relates in Life that Stewart called it "fucking Chinese music".

"Beast of Burden" from Some Girls (1978)

"Beast of Burden" is laid-back track with a fantastic groove that features Richards and Ronnie Wood trading guitar licks. The title comes from Richards, basically saying he wouldn't be the band's beast of burden because of ongoing heroin habit. Richards finally got clean in 1978 after getting busted with smack in Toronto the year before. While Richards called it "Beast of Burden", Jagger's verses are generic.

"Waiting on a Friend" from Tattoo You (1981)

Another Stones ballad with a whole lot of Mick Taylor influence, "Waiting on a Friend" comes from the Goat's Head Soup sessions in Kingston, Jamaica, and yes, it's Taylor playing guitar. It has a reggae-like feel to it backed by Sonny Rollins on saxophone. Richards and Ronnie Wood provide a nice vocal harmony on the chorus, which was their only contribution to the song.

"Moonlight Mile" from Sticky Fingers

This song about life on the road, away from friends and family is another of those famously under-appreciated Stones songs. It wasn't even released as a single from the album, but it's an amazing number that builds and builds until it reaches the ending crescendo with Jagger belting out "Yeah I'm going home, cause I'm just about a moonlight mile on down the road". It's yet another song said to be co-written by Mick Taylor.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Most Expensive Album Ever Produced: Why Chinese Democracy is a Great Record

Throughout the history of recorded music, Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy is acknowledged as the most expensive album ever recorded.

With a cost of $13 million, Chinese Democracy was largely considered a major dud when it was released on Oct. 22, 2008, just ahead of the Christmas rush.

While it cost Geffen a fortune, there was no way that album was ever going to make money (it sold 2.6 million worldwide by Feb. 2009) as the music business was being overrun by digital piracy and online streaming.

Moreover, by the time it was finally released, Guns N' Roses was an Axl Rose solo band after Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum quit or were fired prior to actual recording of Chinese Democracy, which began in 1997.

Cost-wise, the numbers are staggering:

  • Guitar Techs - $6,000 per month
  • Studio Engineer - $25,000 per month
  • Studio Costs - $50,000 per month (14 different studios)

Not mention dozens of musicians and a massive assortment of assistant engineers who worked on the record.

Costs were so high, in fact, that Geffen took Chinese Democracy off its release list in 2005 and cut funding at the same time, stating "Having exceeded all budgeted and approved recording costs by millions of dollars, it is Mr. Rose's obligation to fund and complete the album, not Geffen's."

Given the record label cut funding, it's no surprise Rose took his band out on the road for 75 shows in 2006 (the most concerts in one year during the touring around Chinese Democracy) presumably to earn money to help cover costs.

During production, Rose stated he had recorded enough songs to make two albums, and he's publicly stated another album will be released, but of course, nobody knows when. But, in and of itself, Chinese Democracy is a solid album.

Despite Costs Chinese Democracy A Great Album

While being a commercial flop (a relative term here given it did sell in the millions and Rose did no promotion for the album at all), and largely written off by critics at the time, Chinese Democracy is a very, very good record.

Naturally, given how long it took, it's over-produced with plenty of digital augmentations, and is very far removed from Appetite For Destruction, but the songs are strong and the guitar playing from the likes of Buckethead, Robin Finck, Richard Fortus, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and Paul Tobias is phenomenal.

The solos on "Better" courtesy of Buckethead and Finck are amazing, and a fine example of the playing on the album. Speaking of guitar solos, Finck's work on "This I Love" takes it to another level. Mind-blowing.

A song like "If the World" shows Rose expanding his musical horizons with a distinct African/Middle Eastern influence to the track, which is a standout cut on the album.

"Riad N' the Bedouins" is a kick ass song with more of an industrial feel to it, while "Sorry" is a power ballad with a great Buckethead solo.

One of the best songs on the Chinese Democracy is "Prostitute", which closes the record. It's Rose at his introspective best in a song that is both angry and reflective while combining an orchestra overtop of some seriously amazing guitar riffing.

So while many consider Chinese Democracy a throw-away album, it's actually a fine piece of work. And it should be - it sure cost enough.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How Jane's Addiction Almost Imploded Before Recording Nothing's Shocking

One of the most significant albums of the 1980s, Jane's Addiction's seminal Nothing's Shocking, almost didn't get recorded.

While the album turned out to be so influential to alternative music and the beginnings of grunge, the band that went into LA's Eldorado Studio to record it nearly broke up during production.

That's because frontman and band co-founder Perry Farrell demanded 50% percent of the album's royalties for writing the lyrics, as well as another 25% of the remaining 50%, giving him 62.5% of all the records publishing royalties.

Naturally the rest of Jane's Addiction, bassist Eric Avery (also a co-founder), drummer Stephen Perkins and guitarist Dave Navarro were understandably miffed and shocked, given most of the tracks had been written in collaboration by the band.

Farrell, however, refused to budge on his demands.

So, one day producer Dave Jerden was heading up to the studio only to find Farrell, Perkins and Navarro leaving. They told him the band had broken up and there wouldn't be a record.

With plenty invested in the band after signing them (and handing the band a rumoured $250,000) advance, Jane's Addiction's record label, Warner Bros. (which won a bidding war for the band), was having nothing to do with a breakup and set up an emergency meeting to get the problem resolved.

But the solution turned out to be Farrell getting his demands, while the trio of remaining members got 12.5%, which, according to Avery, created a major internal division and had a profoundly negative effect on the band as a whole.

Things came to a head when Avery and Farrell had a serious falling out over a Farrell believing Avery had to tried to pick up his girlfriend at the time, Casey Niccoli.

Nothing's Shocking Bridged Heavy Metal and Alternative

Fortunately for music fans, the band kept it together and released Nothing's Shocking on August 23, 1988.

It's one of those one-in-a-lifetime records that bridges major musical genres. For fans quickly tiring of the same cock-rock drivel coming out of Los Angeles, Jane's Addiction brought a more underground feel to their music with songs that bridged the alternative/punk scene with metal, sprinkling a little Pink Floyd influence into the equation.

The album's first two tracks "Up the Beach" and "Ocean Size" are two prime microcosms of this. You've got heavy guitar and bass with plenty distortion blending with spacey vocals accompanied by lots and lots of delay on "Up the Beach", then "Ocean Size" begins with a soft Pink-Floyd like intro, followed by heavy, bombastic thunder as the song kicks in as if a huge wave was crashing onto the beach.

The album is a sonic tour de force that was so different from anything being heard in 1988.

And it's all thanks to Warner Bros. - selfishly of course - for intervening to keep the band from imploding.

"Mountain Song" from Nothing's Shocking