Along the north central portion of the Mediterranean Sea, tucked in between the Ionian and Aegian Sea’s lies a country that has been called The Cradle Of Western Civilisation, this being Greece. This peninsula has served as some of the most significant events in the history of the world. It gave birth to democracy, set an example that even city states can come together under one country, one constitution and one currency.
Greece at one point was even the center of the worlds intelligence, scientists, artists, etc… When men like Plato, Aristotle, Arcimedes or Euclid would of ever known just how their lasting legacy’s would eventually make into modern music and its various genres and culture’s. In a global progressive metal community, Greece has been one of the main pillars and beacons within the community. Recent metal bands beginning there journey out of Greece are Wastefall – (2003-2008), Rotting Christ – (1987) Septicflesh – (1990), Dakyra – (2004). A few progressive/power metal acts that have risen out of Greece are Firewind, Seduce The Heaven, Sunburst, Groove Therapist and now NEED.
NEED are Greece’s answer to Dream Theater, Opeth, Fates Warning and O.S.I all rolled into one band. Founded in 2004 with Ravaya – Guitars leading the band, they released they released their first promo CD “avoidinme”. Soon after that the band would endure quite a few personnel changes and tour with bands such as Zenith – (Denmark), Candlemass, Jon Oliva’s Pain, Dead Soul Tribe, Threshold , etc .. NEED would go on to play at the 15th Anniversary of 2014’s Prog/Power USA in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. On that bill they would open in support of Jon Oliva’s Pain, Overkill, Pain Of Salvation, Leperous, etc .. The band would ultimately settle around its current line up and in 2016 release Hegaiamas : A Song For Freedom.
On Hegaiamas : A Song For Freedom ,NEED display’s a clinic on the execution of time signatures, chord progressions and heavy progressive atmospheres. Throughout its seven songs, the band includes many elements and theories that are utilized within the progressive metal community. Some of the progressive trademarks ultimately coming together into the 21 + minute epic Hegaiamas. Without any further delay I am going to do a track to track analysis of NEED’s Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom.
Rememory opens up with a beautiful female voice in the first verse of the song. It soon goes into a rhythmic section explosion before a beautiful vintage Hammond Organ gives the track further depth. The depth of the opening rhythmic section and riffs are met with great sophistication and ferocity. This track displays the band immediately getting both new progressive metal fans through a old school progressive rock mindset. There are various breaks in between the fierce rhythmic chord progressions. Those breaks allow for the track and composition to breathe so the listener can digest the product.
Alltribe bleeds seamlessly well off of Rememory, almost in a conceptual manner. It is a very guitar driven introduction to the track with multiple progressive riffs and chord progressions within the passages. The guitar takes on several dimensions between a lead guitar and rhythm guitar. The drum and bass really allow for the rhythm guitar to pop and be present. The vocals are wonderfully done on the backdrop of the rhythm section almost like a Vanden Plas meets later Fates Warning style. The keyboards treat the stringed section with class playing alongside the lead guitar portions.
Theraintherope begins with a heavy avant garde passage before taking off into a very blistering chord progression. When the chord progression takes off it does so in the vein of Opeth or Bewteen The Buried And Me with death style growls in harmony with the cleaner lead vocals. This is a more modern by utilizing both a death vocal growl and a cleaner vocal running in harmony to one another. This makes the band very relevant in today’s progressive metal community. The guitar and keyboards really serve this track with a futuristic vibe about the track. The futuristic effect also really serves the death growls up more as a instrument than a lyrical style vocal. The guitar solo’s build upon this and form a very lush atmosphere to the song.
Riverthane starts off with a thunderous thrash metal style of chord progression. It is very brutal in its very nature. Once again their are subtle death growls in the backdrop to help anchor the vocal as well as the instrumental half of the thunderous riffs and passages. There is also the same rhythm guitar parts and keyboard portions that were present in the song before Theraintherope. The clean vocals are really strong in this one and perfectly compliment both the instrumental stringed and instrument rhythm sections. Towards the middle there is almost a effect like people are in serious distress. Ravaya – Guitars, certainly channels his inner Jim Matheos of Fates Warning on this one. Towards the end the song comes off like Fates Warning’s Disconnected .
Tilikum starts off very melancholic sound on the piano with effects as if children are playing in the background. This is met in harmony with the lead vocal coming in very soon after that. The track then takes another thunderous turn down towards a very heavy handed rhythmic section between the bass/drum/guitar. This track shows that the band can also utilize backing vocals perfectly with lead with both clean and death growl vocals present. Towards the end the song comes off like Fates Warning’s Disconnected meets Opeth’s Blackwater Park meets Within Temptation’s Mother Earth.
I.O.T.A. is a very eloquent track. This is a spoken word track. It is as if the band are setting up a conceptual story with the final track Hemigaias. There is a beautiful melancholic piano passage present while this spoken word dialogue is happening. It is a dialogue between a woman and a man.
Hegaiamas is the epic of the album. This one clocks in at 21:52, a key signature to progressive rock or metal. This opens up with a short guitar solo with complex keyboard passages and vocal harmonies. It soon takes off with several time signatures and chord progressions building up to a climatic standard that progressive music is notorious for. There are some nice and very appropriate breaks for the vocals to come in with various chord progressions between the stringed and rhythm sections. The track really takes on some blistering time signatures at the 4:00 mark leading the track into a adventure for the listener. The keyboards sound much like Derek Sherinian meets Jordan Rudess in many ways. This track remains very busy as to not allowing for the listener to ever get bored with it.The guitar brings various dimensions to this giving the listener the audio appearance of various songs rolled into one. There are some really great harmonies building on top of multiple time signatures throughout the song.
Need Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom is one more example of the natural evolution of progressive rock and metal. This band may carry many influences however they create the own original sound with those influences. You can tell that there is a full band democracy working within the creative process. Like a fine wine they open up every song for the listener and allow it to breathe so the listener can appreciate the music at its maximum capacity. I give Need Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom a 5/5.
Guest Musicians James Labrie – Vocals – President Evil/Taken (Radio Edit)/ A Place In Heaven/Taken (Studio Edit)
Most Beautiful Day President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) Hardest Way Purple Angels The Best of Magic Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] 18 Euphoria A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) Ghostwriter Limousine Back in the Shadow Taken (feat. James LaBrie)
For the last 25 years any time you heard about or were introduced to a ‘female-fronted’ band the general conclusion drawn is usually that the band must be a Symphonic metal band. Symphonic Metal meaning the inclusion of choirs and small to large orchestral aesthetics. The other conclusion drawn is that the band must be a Beauty & Beast metal band. Beauty & Beast meaning the male vocal takes on a full guttural death metal style growl and the female vocal is full operatic. In 85% of the cases this has all been true. The other 10% of the remaining 15% has come from the progressive rock/metal community.
When I mention Progressive Metal I mean a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositions innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. To take what progressive rock pioneers did and add a metal element in the compositions and song arrangements.
Pioneering ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are The Gathering, To Mera, Agora, After Forever, Kingfisher Sky and Stream Of Passion & Ayreon ,to a certain extent. Bands who are now innovating ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are Vandroya from Brazil, MindMaze from the United States, Ancient Prophecy, Flaming Row, Universal Mind Project Amaranthe from Sweden and now from Italy Last Union.
Last Union are one of the most pure progressive/power/melodic metal bands to come around in the last 10 years. It is no secret by now that Italy has been one of the leading countries to produce quality progressive rock/metal bands since the late 1960’s. Bands like Death SS, Novembre, Rhapsody, Eldritch, Empty Tremor and Vision Divine are a few of many progressive metal bands to come forth from Italy. Even one of the top 5 Rock/Metal Opera’s of all time with Daniele Liverani’s GENIUS Rock/Metal Opera.
Last Union continues this rich melodic tradition from Italy. Last Union now enters that discussion of the rich progressive metal tradition from Italy. On a global front Last Union are a natural progression into the evolution of progressive metal. Last Union’s line up is nothing short of remarkable. Last Union was founded by Elisa Scarpeccio – Vocals and Christiano Tiberi – Guitars, Mike Lepond – Bass (Symphony X) and the legendary Uli Kusch – Drums (ex-Helloween/Gamma Ray).
On the surface Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day seems like just a collection of 11 different songs representing 11 different days. However the more the listener engages the album alongside the album booklet with more detailed attention you begin to see the songs line up as a common themed conceptual album.Mike Lepond from Symphony X once again proves why he is one of ,if not the most sought after bass player in the progressive rock and metal communities. Uli Kusch once again proves his legendary drummer prowess that helped bands like Helloween become the international band they were. To see the tracks line up this way the listener really needs to spend time in the booklet as they listen. Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day is straight prog/power from the first to last riff on the album. I will point some highlights out from each of the 11 tracks on this offering.
Most Beautiful Day opens up as a straight away heavy metal track. That is met in a two part vocal harmony between the female and male narrative. The female obviously being a very strong lead and male lead serving more in a echo capacity. The guitar is very modern. The guitar has the depth of sound of a seven string. Elisa Scarpeccio has one of the most distinctive voices to come along in the progressive metal community within the last 15 years.
President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) begins with a heavy rhythm based chord progression. Cristiano Tiberi quickly establishes himself as a guitarist with a very unique and distinctive sound and style of play. Cristiano Tiberi certainly does a fine job separating his sound among his peers. He literally has to in order for this song to not come off as any Dream Theater or James Labrie solo project. James Labrie displays great vocal presence alongside the rhythmic portion of this track. There is a nice harmonic break in the middle before a powerful two tier guitar solo comes in.
Hardest Way sees the band’s focus directed more towards the bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with some warmer vocal work from Elisa. This track also allows Elisa to show various aspects to her vocals. She certainly has her own sound and I am sure as the band begin to play shows on Most Beautiful Day, the world will see a young and powerful vocalist that is to be reckoned with.
Purple Angels continues to see the band experiment with various rhythm styles along with various vocal harmonies to perfectly compliment those intricate rhythm sections. The vocals sound like a mini choir briefly until Elisa comes in with authority with the lead vocal. There is a great balance in the vocals. The vocal work goes in and out between lead, to backing vocals in a echo. About the 2:00 mark there is a nice break in the instrumental that allows for the lead vocal to really come through.
The Best of Magic begins almost like a classic AOR track. The start of this track takes on a heavier ballad style about it. This track is a very easy song to follow. It could be one of those songs that the fan base of this band will sing back to them in a live setting. The guitar solo is very uplifting and the chord progressions smoother.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] starts out with a wall of both a lead guitar solo and a deep rhythmic section between the guitar/bass/drum. The crunchy distortion in the guitar gives this various depths of heaviness. The intricate vocal presentation between James Labrie and Elisa Scarpeccio is nothing short of stellar. Elisa even sounds a little like James in various lines. If you are a listener following the booklet you will see a common theme conceptual thing happening.
18 Euphoria starts out with a powerful chord progressive passage. This is met with some very powerful vocal work. The vocal work really takes on various levels of harmony. This track clearly displays the bands ability to experiment with various levels of vocal harmonies.
A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) starts out with a beautiful semi acoustic guitar that has another wonderful and heavier guitar double tracked that allows the track to feel like many guitars are the driving force. Cristiano Tiberi has a very uncanny ability of double tracking and making the guitar sound like a instrument in union and agreement with itself. There is a wonderfully engineered spoken word section in this song as well. The guitar solos and rhythm sections are total beasts here. Uli Kusch shows again why he is one of metal’s legendary drummers.
Ghostwriter starts out as more of a pure power metal track with progressive elements. This track storms ahead with a power metal passage that has various intricate chord progressive elements. This is one of the faster and heavier tracks on the album. The solos are hugs, the bass/drum rhythm section storms all the way through this track.
Limousine is another hard and heavy progressive metal track on the album. Much in the way Ghostwriter is the power track, this one sees the band taking a few more chances at intricate progressive time signatures. The atmosphere is completely straight away power/progressive through this one as well.
Back in the Shadow begins with a more experimental intro before the track takes on a more ‘pure power metal’ presence. The band by now has established themselves as great students to progressive metal but with modern elements.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Studio Edit] this is almost twice as long as the radio edit for obvious reasons. However I would be remiss is omitting that this track is also the epic on the track clocking in at 8+ minutes.That is rather short for progressive standards however this track is still done with great detail and care. The band takes much more time on the intro and the outro portions of the song. This also shows that the band is capable of longer compositions if they want to ever go in that direction.
For being very young both Elisa Scarpeccio and Cristiano Tiberi had a very clear vision on how Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day needed to sound. These fine young musicians even recruited some of the very best in the world with Mike LePond, Uli Kusch and James Labrie. Most Beautiful Day lacks nothing in substance. Although the tracks are shorter considering the other work of their recruits and guest musician, they still meet and fill the objective the band put in place. For the detail and insight of such young musicians I give Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day a 4/5.
1977 was ground zero for new beginnings in the area of both pop culture and rock n roll. In the year that would eventually see the King Of Rock’n’ Roll Elvis Presley die. Director Roman Polanski pleaded guilty of raping a 13 year old girl in 1977 but fled the U.S to avoid charges, this is why his 2011 film Carnage, staring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly although set in New York was actually filmed in Paris. The deadliest (583 casualties) crash in Aviation history occurred not in the skies but on the runway between two Boeing 747s on March 27, 1977. Known as the ‘Tenerife Airport Disaster’. It happened at the runway at Los Rodeos Airport (now Tenerife North Airport), on the Spanish island of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Aerosmith’s flight crew inspected a Convair CV-240 for possible use and rejected it because they felt the plane and crew were not up to their standards. That plane crashed on October 20, 1977 from fuel exhaustion due to poor maintenance, killing three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In the midst of all those very depressing headlines there was a full on musical revolution going on that would produce some of classic rock’s biggest selling and most influential bands and albums of all time. In New York’s Manhattan East Village you had the famous CBGB bar that would eventually produce future punk and early alternative icons The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, etc … who were allowed to thrive and grow due to many people being banned by Steve Rubell uptown at the Disco dive Studio 54. The birth of what would become Goliath’s in the film industry, Rock and Star Wars were released.
Meanwhile in other parts of the musical landscape it would both produce some of the best selling albums of all time and some of the most competitive music for the public’s attention and money. Rod Stewart would release Foot Loose & Fancy Free, The Bee Gees would become disco music staples and release the single “How Deep Is Your Love”. In the same year there was a musical revolution happening on America’s west coast. Van Halen would release their iconic Van Halen I debut, the Eagles would release one of the two iconic classic rock albums in Hotel California and up the coast near San Fransisco Fleetwood Mac would release Rumours.
Now I would be remiss in saying there was a lot of variables and things happening within Fleetwood Mac that served as poetic fuel for the creative fire that made Rumours one of the Top #5 albums of all time. When you hear cocaine, breakups, divorce and other secrets that shroud the making of Rumours it is all true and that truth would be reveled within many of the songs that would make Rumours. For you who are not as familiar with Fleetwood Mac Rumours, it was the band’s 11th album. This would be the second album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
You had two couples who were well into breakup’s and divorce and one couple that would secretly happen in the serious privacy until it would be revealed. John MacVie and Christine MacVie were well into divorce proceeding, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were in the beginning of a breakup/divorce and Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood would start a secret relationship behind everyone’s back. It was a total debacle however in its own strangeness helped the creative process among the five members of Fleetwood Mac.
These were five members that through the course of the recording process of Rumours would go in as a band and come out as a true rock ‘supergroup’. Rumours would also relate to the social conscious of what the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation’s lifestyles and experience. Now let’s take a look back at some highlights and facts from each track from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
Rumours Become Facts
Second Hand News was written by Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham. It is the first track on the Rumours album – the most successful album of Fleetwood Mac’s career with sales of over 40 million worldwide, going 19x platinum in the US and 10x platinum in the UK. The band’s original drummer Mick Fleetwood calls it the most important album they ever made.
This song was originally an acoustic demo titled “Strummer.” But when Buckingham heard the Bee Gees’ “Jive Talkin’,” he rearranged it with more audio tracks and the rhythmic effect from “playing” the faux-leather seat of a studio chair to make it evoke a slightly Celtic feel.
Like many of the songs on the Rumours album, this one shows a darker side in the lyrics. It’s asking you to move on, leave the singer alone. Fleetwood Mac was experiencing the shatter of all of their emotional ties with not one, not two, but three break-ups! That was the divorce of the McVies, Buckingham and Stevie Nicks breaking up, and Fleetwood going through a divorce from his wife.
In Frank Moriarty’s book Seventies Rock: The Decade of Creative Chaos, Stevie Nicks is quoted from a Creem interview in July 1977, explaining the acrid lyrics: “We were all trying to break up and when you break up with someone you don’t want to see him. You especially don’t want to eat breakfast with him the next morning, see him all day and all night, and all day the day after…”
As if that weren’t enough, Seventies Rock also goes on to quote Nicks about the recording sessions on their next album: “It lasted thirteen months and it took every bit of inner strength we had. It was very hard on us, like being a hostage in Iran, and to an extent, Lindsay was the Ayatollah.”
Dreams During the sessions for Rumours, everyone in the band was going through a breakup (Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham with each other, John and Christine McVie with each other, Mick Fleetwood with his wife Jenny Boyd) and doing a lot of drugs. They were able to work together, but most of the songwriting was on an individual basis. Stevie Nicks wrote this in the studio next door, where Sly Stone was recording. He had a big, semicircular bed and red velvet all over the walls – a great vibe for a song about dreams.
The line “Players only love you when they’re playing” was directed at Lindsey Buckingham. Stevie Nicks was not pleased when he brought “Go Your Own Way” to the sessions, which was clearly about her. Stevie told Q magazine June 2009: “It was the fairy and the gnome. I was trying to be all philosophical. And he was just mad.”
This was Fleetwood Mac’s only #1 hit in the US. Stevie Nicks recalled to The Daily Mail October 16, 2009: “I remember the night I wrote ‘Dreams.’ I walked in and handed a cassette of the song to Lindsey. It was a rough take, just me singing solo and playing piano. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. What was going on between us was sad. We were couples who couldn’t make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other – and we got some brilliant songs out of it.”
In 1998 a Todd Terry re-mix of a cover by The Corrs peaked at #6 in the UK. The Irish group originally recorded the song for a Fleetwood Mac tribute album. Mick Fleetwood, who is a fan of The Corrs, had asked them to record it.
Christine McVie said in a 1997 interview with Q: “‘Dreams’ developed in a bizarre way. When Stevie first played it for me on the piano, it was just three chords and one note in the left hand. I thought, This is really boring, but the Lindsey genius came into play and he fashioned three sections out of identical chords, making each section sound completely different. He created the impression that there’s a thread running through the whole thing.”
Christine McVie played both a Hammond organ and a Fender Rhodes electric piano on this track.
Never Going Back Again According to Q magazine June 2009 the inspiration for this Lindsey Buckingham penned song was a brief relationship with a woman whom he’d met on the road. Buckingham had only recently broken up with his Fleetwood Mac co-singer Stevie Nicks.
Most of the Rumours album was recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California, but this song was recorded at Studio City Sound Recording Studios in Los Angeles. According to recording assistant Cris Morris, this song took a while to record. Said Morris: “It was Lindsey’s pet project, just two guitar tracks but he did it over and over again. In the end his vocal didn’t quite match the guitar tracks so we had to slow them down a little.”
Dont’ StopChristine McVie wrote this about leaving the past behind. She and John McVie (Fleetwood Mac’s bass player) were splitting up, which inspired the lyrics. This caused some awkward moments, since John had to play a song written about him. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were also going through a breakup and writing songs about each other (“Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams”), and Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce. All the tension in the studio didn’t seem to hurt – Rumours is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
The album was going to be called “Yesterday’s Gone,” after a line in this song. John McVie suggested “Rumours” because it seemed like everyone in Southern California was talking about the personal drama Fleetwood Mac was going through.
Bill Clinton used this as his theme song when he successfully ran for US president in 1992. He was the first baby boomer president, and he knew Fleetwood Mac would appeal to a lot of voters in this demographic.
There was some subtext to this pairing of song and politician: Clinton was a known philanderer, and had been through some rough times with his wife, Hillary. The song finds Christine McVie offering her husband a chance to move forward despite his transgressions:
Why not think about times to come
And not about the things that you’ve done
The vast majority of listeners didn’t pick up on this, as it was heard as a song of hope and renewal in the context of the campaign.
When Bill Clinton won the presidential election, Fleetwood Mac was thrust back into the spotlight because his campaign had used this song at every opportunity. At this time, the band was fractured, with Lindsey Buckingham out of the lineup since 1987 and Stevie Nicks out since 1991. And while Clinton couldn’t push through universal health care, he was able to get the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac back together, as Buckingham and Nicks joined John and Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood to perform at his inaugural gala in 1993 (the day before he was sworn into office).
Nothing came of the one-off reunion, and the band spent the next few years punching below their weight, even opening for REO Speedwagon. In 1997, Buckingham and Nicks returned to the fold and Fleetwood Mac was once again an arena act, embarking on their wildly successful The Dance tour.
Go Your Own Way Lindsey Buckingham wrote this as a message to Stevie Nicks. It describes their breakup, with the most obvious line being, “Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do.” Stevie insisted she never shacked up with anyone when they were going out, and wanted Lindsey to take out the line, but he refused.
Stevie Nicks told Q magazine June 2009: “It was certainly a message within a song. And not a very nice one at that.”
While the Rumours album was being recorded, the marriage of John and Christine McVie (both of them Mac members) was also coming to an end. With two couples breaking up during the sessions, recording could be quite tense. They were also doing lots of drugs at the sessions, making sure there was plenty of Behind The Music material.
This was the first single from the Rumours album, which became one of the best-selling of all time. Describing the recording process for this song in Q magazine, drummer Mick Fleetwood said: “‘Go Your Own Way’s’ rhythm was a tom-tom structure that Lindsey demoed by hitting Kleenex boxes or something. I never quite got to grips with what he wanted, so the end result was my mutated interpretation. It became a major part of the song, a completely back-to-front approach that came, I’m ashamed to say, from capitalizing on my own ineptness. There was some conflict about the ‘crackin’ up, shackin’ up’ line, which Stevie felt was unfair, but Lindsey felt strongly about. It was basically, On your bike, girl!”
Fleetwood Mac is not known for their guitar solos, but Lindsey Buckingham’s solo on this is one of his most notable. The live version on The Dance contains a much longer solo
Songbird This was Christine McVie’s solo on side 1 of the album. It proved her talent apart from the group. She wrote the song, sang it, and played the piano for it.
This is a very personal song for McVie about the self-sacrifice of true love. >>
Christine McVie has said that this song held Fleetwood Mac together during their hard times (while recording Rumours). Once the members heard this song, they thought how much they had been through and how much love they shared. >>
This was often used to close many Fleetwood Mac shows. >>
American singer Eva Cassidy’s cover was made the title track of a compilation album of recordings, which was released in 1998, two years after her death from melanoma. The album took off in the UK after Cassidy’s version of “Over the Rainbow” was played by Terry Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show. The Songbird set went on to top the UK album charts, almost three years after its initial release. In 2009 an audition performance of Cassidy’s arrangement of this song by Shanna Goodhead on Britain’s The X-Factor, prompted enough interest to push the late American’s singer’s version into the UK Top 75 Singles Chart.
Christine McVie penned the song in half a hour after she woke up in the middle of the night with it in her head. She recalled to Mojo in 2015: “Stevie and I were in a condominium block and the boys were all in the Sausalito Record Plant house raving with girls and boozer and everything. I had a little transistorised electric piano next to my bed and I woke up one night at about 3.30am and started playing it. I had all, words, melody, chords in about 30 minutes. It was like a gift from the angels, but I had no way to record it. I thought I’m never gonna remember this. So I went back to bed, and couldn’t sleep. I wrote the words down quickly.”
“Next day, I went into the studio shaking like a leaf’ cos I knew it was something special. I said, ‘Ken, (Caillat, Rumours’ co-producer/engineer) put the 2-track on, I want to record this song!’ I think they were all in there, smoking opium.”
The Chain was another song that revolved arounf the break up situation within the band. Stevie Nicks wrote the lyrics about Lindsey Buckingham as their relationship was falling apart. Buckingham and Nicks share lead vocals on the song.
Pieces of different studio takes were spliced together to form the track. The bass line that comes in at about the 3 minute mark through the song was written independently by John McVie, who was originally planning to use it in a different song.
This began as a Christine McVie song called “Butter Cookie (Keep Me There),” which which is available on the expanded edition of Rumours. The beginning of the track wasn’t working, but the band loved Mick Fleetwood and John McVie’s ending, which was now on tape. So, they counted back from the bass line, used the kick-drum as a metronome, Nicks gave them the lyrics for the verses, Buckinghan and Christine McVie wrote the music and the chorus lyrics, Lindsey added the guitar over the ending, and “The Chain” as we know it was born. >>
This is the only Fleetwood Mac song credited to all 5 members of their 1977 lineup. Since various pieces were assembled to make the song, they all had some contribution.
This song came to represent the resilience of Fleetwood Mac and the strength of their bond as they continued on for many years despite their personal and professional difficulties. It’s the first song they play in concert.
The low bass line in this song was used by the BBC for the Grand Prix theme tune for many years.
Mick Fleetwood: “‘The Chain’ basically came out of a jam. That song was put together as distinct from someone literally sitting down and writing a song. It was very much collectively a band composition. The riff is John McVie’s contribution – a major contribution. Because that bassline is still being played on British TV in the car-racing series to this day. The Grand Prix thing. But it was really something that just came out of us playing in the studio. Originally we had no words to it. And it really only became a song when Stevie wrote some. She walked in one day and said, ‘I’ve written some words that might be good for that thing you were doing in the studio the other day.’ So it was put together. Lindsey arranged and made a song out of all the bits and pieces that we were putting down onto tape. And then once it was arranged and we knew what we were doing, we went in and recorded it. But it ultimately becomes a band thing anyway, because we all have so much of our own individual style, our own stamp that makes the sound of Fleetwood Mac. So it’s not like you feel disconnected from the fact that maybe you haven’t written one of the songs. Because what you do, and what you feel when we’re all making music together, is what Fleetwood Mac ends up being, and that’s the stuff you hear on the albums. Whether one likes it or not, this is, after all, a combined effort from different people playing music together.”
You Make Loving Fun During the recording of Rumours the marriage of bassist John McVie and keyboardist and co-singer Christine McVie was ending. Christine started seeing the band’s lighting technician Curry Grant and she penned this song about the relationship. Drummer Mick Fleetwood quipped to Q magazine June 2009: “Knowing John, he probably thought it was about one of her dogs.”
Christine McVie sang lead vocals on this track, which was one of four songs she wrote solo for the Rumours album. McVie had nothing prepared when the band started working on the album at The Record Plant studios in Sausalito, California. “I thought I was drying up,” she said in Q magazine. “I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day in Sausalito, I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that.”
Cyndi Lauper was commissioned in 1977 to record several soundalike covers of songs penned written by other artists – she was one of several session singers hired to re-record several big hits of the day. Lauper said later that she was paid only twelve dollars for her work, to “sound like someone else.” The only fruit to come from her sessions was a 7″ vinyl single of her version of this track, which became the first song ever officially released by the New York songstress. Lauper did not own her own copy until a fan gave her one in 2002.
I Don’t Want To Know “I Don’t Want to Know” was written by Stevie Nicks in 1974 before she joined Fleetwood Mac, and it was intended for a second album with her band Buckingham Nicks. The singer was initially unhappy about the decision to place the song on Rumours. The reason? It displaced another of Nicks’ tunes, “Silver Springs,” which she favored. The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman recalled in a 1991 BBC interview that when she asked Mick Fleetwood why “Silver Springs” was being removed, he replied: “There’s a lot of reasons, but because basically it’s just too long. And we think that there’s another of your songs that’s better, so that’s what we want to do.”
Nicks continued: “Before I started to get upset about ‘Silver Springs,’ I said, ‘What other song?’ And he said, ‘A song called I Don’t Want To Know.’ And I said, ‘But I don’t want that song on this record.’ And he said, ‘Well, then don’t sing it.’ And then I started to scream bloody murder and probably said every horribly mean thing that you could possibly say to another human being, and walked back in the studio completely flipped out. I said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna sing ‘I Don’t Want To Know.’ I am one-fifth of this band.’ And they said, ”You can either (a) take a hike or (b) you better go out there and sing ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ or you’re only gonna have two songs on the record.’ And so, basically, with a gun to my head, I went out and sang ‘I Don’t Want To Know.’ And they put Silver Springs on the back of ‘Go Your Own Way.'”
Oh Daddy Christine McVie wrote this song about the band’s drummer, Mick Fleetwood. The band was going through a lot of turmoil, as Christine and John McVie were having relationship issues as were Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Describing the mood of the sessions, Rumours co-producer Richard Dashut said (in Q magazine): “Defenses were wearing thin and they were quick to open up their feelings. Instead of going to friends to talk it out, their feelings were vented through their music: the album was about the only thing they had left.”
Gold Dust Woman Stevie Nicks wrote this song and sang lead. While Nicks has never been clear on the meaning, you can make a good case that it is about cocaine, which the band was consuming in quantity during the Rumours sessions. The lyrics, “Take your silver spoon, dig your grave,” can be seen as a reference to a spoon holding the drug.
Nicks’ relationship with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham may also have influenced the song, as they had broken up and were going through some very difficult times, using songs as a medium for expressing their feelings to each other.
In Mick Fleetwood’s book My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac, he explains that it took Nicks eight takes to get the vocal right, and they were recorded early in the morning. Fleetwood described Nicks as “hunched over in a chair, alternately choosing from her supply of tissues, a Vicks inhaler, a box of lozenges for her sore throat and a bottle of mineral water.”
Cris Morris, who was a recording assistant on the sessions, explained in Q magazine: “Recording ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was one of the great moments because Stevie was very passionate about getting that vocal right. It seemed like it was directed straight at Lindsey and she was letting it all out. She worked right through the night on it, and finally did it after loads of takes. The wailing, the animal sounds and the breaking glass were all added later. Five or six months into it, once John had got his parts down, Lindsey spent weeks in the studio adding guitar parts, and that’s what really gave the album its texture.”
Among the artists who have recorded this song: Waylon Jennings, Hole, Sheryl Crow and Sister Hazel.
Lindsay Buckingham plays a Dobro on this track. The Dobro is an acoustic guitar with a single resonator with its concave surface uppermost. The inventor of the resonator guitar, John Dopyera, together with his brothers Rudy, Emile, Robert, and Louis, developed the Dobro in 1928. They named it as a contraction of Dopyera Brothers’ coupled with the meaning of “goodness” in their native Slovak language. Gibson acquired exclusive use of the Dobro trademark in 1993 and the guitar corporation currently produces several round sound hole models under the Dobro name. One of these ornate guitars is featured on the cover of Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms.
With this being the 40th Anniversary of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours the band has sold a staggering 45 million plus units world wide according to the RIAA certification since its release. Next to The Eagles Greatest Hits and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours sits in the Top 3 of greatest albums of all time. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours continues to transcend generations to this day and will be one of those albums that will be continually talked about and listened to for future generations to come.
To say I was 100% familiar with Odd Logic would be false. I have heard much about them throughout the years by word of mouth from other friends. To prepare for this review I had to go back a listen to their previous material. You can say it was a true crash course. The following review will be written as if I have stumbled upon a new band.
Three man bands are no stranger to the community of progressive rock/metal. Many in fact are some of the most influential throughout the history of progressive rock. RUSH, ELP (Emerson,Lake & Palmer), Italian prog rockers Latte e Miele and at some points King Crimson, and Neu of ‘Krautrock’ or German Progressive Rock all to name a few. These three man bands or ‘trios’ would have maximum distribution in sound considering their numbers. Trio’s a lot of the time have to use one man to compensate for the appearance of two maybe three. This means it truly requires talent of both the craft of musicianship and the trade of performance to take it to a audience. This is very evident in the USA based band Odd Logic.
Odd Logic are the brainchild of Tacoma, Washington resident Sean Thompson. After leaving his original band MINE in 2002, he sought out to build a much more ‘progressive’ sounding band. This was even if he had to call in his ‘guest’ percussionist and bassist alter ego’s. Soon after later releases including Legends Of Monta: Part I – 2006, Legends Of Monta: Part II – 2009,Odd Logic would become a complete band with Pete Hanson – Drums and Mike Lee – Bass. Now as we enter into 2017 the band has returned with a greatly and highly improved project in Effigy.
Just as early progressive metal pioneers of the Pacific Northwest of Seattle Washington in Queensryche released the very pivotal Operation Mindcrime almost 30 years prior. So too Odd Logic now have ‘that-pivotal’ recording in their library with Effigy. Odd Logic’s Effigy has a grand spectrum of many dimensions that fall into the progressive rock and metal banner. Effigy has classic progressive hard rock influences such as Kansas, neo progressive influences of Marillion and Enchant to progressive metal influences such as King’s X Dream Theater, Symphony X, Opeth.
The further into Effigy the listener gets the more all the above mentioned influences begin to really stand out with great clarity. Odd Logic is also one of those bands that do a great job wearing their influences on their sleeve without it appearing they are trying to mock or imitate their influences which sometime’s happens in the progressive rock/metal world. Now let’s go into Odd Logic’s Effigy with some highlights of the well balanced musicianship that lies within each and every track.
Effigy the title track and the epic of the album, opens up very much in the vein of Fish era Marillion meets Wounded to Juggling 9 Dropping 10 era Enchant using quality neo progressive elements and time signatures. For the first 5 to 7 and a half minutes of the 17:29 the band executes in and out time chord progressions matched by very intricate time signatures to give the track various dimensions as to keep the listener’s long term attentions spans. Parts of Effigy even show shades of Sieges Even and Subsignal. The band gives the appearance of many shorter tracks within this epic. The listener has absolutely no time to get board. The band are always changing things up.
At the 8:30 mark of Effigy a wonderful and classic Hammond Organ comes into play to carry the track further into the bands objective for this track. The guitar solo’s have this big ethereal sound to blend into the various dimensions of the synths. The various sum of the parts of the instruments fulfill the purpose both in isolation and harmony. The various time signatures give different pictures on the tapestry and the theater of the mind of the listener. Effigy is certainly non stop time signatures and non stop chord progression change up’s on all levels of the audio senses.
Master Of The Moor starts off with a thunderous passage heavily based in the bass/drum rhythm section. The track gets progressively heavier and heavier going forward. There is a very fluid yet wicked underlying Hammond Organ section giving this track some heavy soundscapes and darker dimensions. The guitar has some serious rhythm based distortion while keeping in step with the intended purpose of the composition structure. The double blast beats also add much depth in Master Of The Moor. About the 4:15 mark the band uses a very abstract yet very easy vibe on the vocal harmony.
Mercenary explodes in the intro with a very Opeth Deliverance to Ghost Reveries erastyle passage. The band make excellent usage of the death growls in harmony with the instrumental portions. The death vocals interchange with various clean vocals on various different vocal scales. The track breaks and goes back into a cleaner vocal oriented track utilizing various vocal harmonies with both lead and background vocals trading off.
The Yearning the shortest track on the album still packs the same progressive punch as any other song on Effigy. This one opens up with a beautiful acoustical passage that is soon joined in harmony with the lead vocal. The vocal isolation allows for the vocal to tell a story. Soon backing vocals come in and it lowers the discriminatory defenses the listener may have. If there is a ballad on the album The Yearning is definitely it.
Witch Runner opens up with a more straight away conventional progressive hard rock intro. The neo progressive element in the intro continues to show the bands depth and progress. As I listen to this song in particular much more, I start to see the band forming their own sound off the many influences within the progressive rock/metal communities. Sean Thompson has a very strong Ted Leonard of Enchant vocal style working. The song takes on a much more melodic progressive metal approach at the 3:15 mark. The Opeth style death growls return on this track and on the instrumental portion of the song it takes a very blistering narrative. The band keeps its core objective in multiple time signatures and chord progressions on Witch Runner.
Iron Skyline starts off with a killer full on progressive metal passage before taking a break and and allowing the vocal to be isolated as to tell a story. The isolated vocal also gives the appearance of an ethereal register. Now the band are doing a incredible job coming together as a unit. Iron Skyline in all its complex time signatures can also be performed live as a three piece. The band never make the mistake and record something they can never play live. They execute their individual talents and allow breathing room for all the sum of the parts to really come together in harmony. This even holds true with the continual interchanges within the various time signatures and changes as a result. The track continues with some of the best guitar solo’s I have heard in some time. The band truly displays its very guitar oriented narratives.
Memories Of Light opens with a beautiful acoustical guitar passage along with a vocal chant that is practically a bit haunting. Soon that drops off and the drums take center to carry in a full instrumental and harmonic passage. The song soon takes on a anthem style about it. This track has a lot of personality that it gives the appearance that every instrument takes the lead at various points throughout the song. The guitar solo is as if the band wrote some jazz influenced passage and transcribed it to the guitar. At the 5:20 mark the track takes on some very interesting vocal harmonies.
Maiden Child opens up with some very wicked and deliberate rhythmic progressions. This opens up with some serious distorted grit with some power behind it. There are multiple levels in this one that leads in and out of various time progressions giving the song many faces and atmospheres. As a matter of fact this is the most atmospheric track on the album. The time signatures actually dictate the atmospheric narrative on Maiden Child. The guitar solo’s blend in nicely with the heavily lush atmospheres. This track allows the listener to become enveloped in it on many levels. The track is truly anchored by the Hammond Organ styled synth blended with the rhythm section. This track gets heavier and heavier the further you go into it. The vocal melodies really rest in harmony with the Hammond Organ styled synth. There is a fade out effect on the outro before fading back in briefly for the finish.
After going through the bands earlier efforts in my preparation for this review, I see a band that continues to grow. I also see a band that continues to improve in all areas of album making. Whether it is in the writing, recording, mixing, engineering or mastering Odd Logic improve more and more on every album and every song. I feel Effigy is the first album that gives the band a quality set list for live shows. Just on the improvements and effort to detail alone I am giving Odd Logic’s Effigy a 4/5.
Melodic Revolution Records Feature Album January/February 2017 Alex Grata & Anton Darusso|Brothers In Arms
Label: Melodic Revolution Records Release Year: 2017 Country: Multinational Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive/Rock/Melodic Rock
Alex Grata: Vocals and Assorted Instruments Anton Darusso: Vocals and Assorted Instruments Jason Jenkins: Guitar Solo on 2 Dmitry 4Vergov: Guitar Solo on 4, 10, 11 Dmitry Turin: Guitar Solo on 1, 4, 6, 11 Toledo: Rapper 6, 8 Olga Larina: Backing Vocals 6 Marco Vinicio Castro Pinagel: Arrangement, Programing Guitars 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 Roman Zaslavsky: Arrangement, Programing 8, 12 Girls-Band: Assorted Vocals 10 Sixth Sense 2
1) Nothing to Hide – 3:58 2) Blind – 2:13 3) It’s Time for Love – 4:56 4) Drops of Compassion – 3:21 5) Frozen Tears – 4:52 6) So Many Ways to Go – 4:05 7) When the Music’s Over – 4:02 8) Super Hero – 3:18 9) Keep the Fire Burning – 3:40 10) Angel Like You – 3:23
Melodic Revolution Records has a never ending mission to be totally distinctive and to stand out among their peers and contemporaries in the music industry. They are willing to sign and bands and give them a chance where some other labels would pass on. It seems that every time I do a Melodic Revolution Records feature on Power of Prog here that I come across a band that continues to hold true with Brothers In Arms. This is a rather new musical venture founded by Alex Grata out of Russia and Anton Darusso out of San Jose, Costa Rica.
This truly is a international flavour within the structure of a two man outfit plus friends. Alex Grata and Anton Darusso take their respective local and international musical influences and create some of the most original melodic hard rock, melodic heavy metal that I have heard in some time. Brothers In Arms is like a mixture of Whitesnake meets Angra with a little bit of The Police and Eddie Grant.
The only thing I can see as formulaic on Brothers In Arms is opening up with a few rocker tracks in Nothing To Hide and Blind to the ballad of the third song It’s Time For Love. Out side of being formulaic in that manner, Alex & Anton go into areas of writing, mixing, recording and mastering the album as a collective that changes the traditional hard rock discourse. They allowed themselves such depth and expanse where they could not exactly be pigeonholed into one sound to the next.
On top of straight ahead traditional melodic progressive metal, hard rock, there are so very obvious progressive elements in Brothers In Arms. When I say progressive I mean more towards progressive elements utilized by bands like Deep Purple’s Mark 2 & 3,Rush’s Fly By Night through Moving Pictures era and some Glenn Hughes through the years. Now I will go into some highlights of Alex Grata & Anton Durasso’s Brothers In Arms.
Nothing to Hide starts out with a two tone harmonic with a piano followed by a thunderous intro. Both the rhythm section and a wall of vocals immediately demand the listeners attention. There is a lot of chord bending here also. The vocals are very Glenn Hughes in nature with a bit more bass in the voice. The harmonies come off very clean as well. There is also a nice spoken word narrative going on.
( Anton Durasso – Time For Love )
Blind opens up as a straight away 1970’s atmosphere with the driving riffs and vocals. It is catchy enough for radio, yet has a sensibility that also appeals to the listener that has a more non radio indie audio pallet. Blind also has infectious solo’s.
It’s Time for Love is one of the ballads from Brothers in Arms. It opens up with a passage that has a lush piano/synth backbone. This is one of those traditional ballads that you can share with your significant other or as reflection of a past relationship. Like most ballads this is a huge vocal harmony based track. Towards the last half it takes a nice break where the vocals are more isolated where the listener can digest the song.
Drops of Compassion starts off almost in the vibe of a AOR style track. AOR meaning something from Toto or even Jim Peterik. It soons takes a more of a driving hard rock approach thereafter. Once again Alex Grata and Anton Durasso establish Brothers In Arms as a very vocal oriented project. There are even elements of Reggae within the vocals on this one. The heavy guitar solos and deep rhythmic sections continue on this one.
Frozen Tears is another ballad on the album that opens up with a beautiful piano passage. This is also perfectly complimented by by a isolated harmony in the vocals. Soon the track picks up and turns into a more rock/ballad with heavier guitars and deep bass on rhythm sections. There are parts in the vocal structure that hint at light power elements like Angra from Brazil. The guitar solo is absolutely beautiful. If the band are to ever play live I see Frozen Tears as a setlist fixture.
So Many Ways to Go opens up with a very deep Reggae style track much in the vein of a Bob Marley And The Whalers meets Eddie Grant with a hint of Toto, Africa era. This is another track that has potential in finding a un compromised niche audience. Some of the guitar solo’s remind me of Neil Schon of Journey.
When the Music’s Over starts off with a slight Beatles 1960’s style isolated vocals. This track hits the listener on many levels. It is also the more progressive rock oriented track with multiple changes within the track. It is those multiple changes that keep the listener continually involved. The passages kind of even go as far as to change in full genres between the verse chorus passage.
Super Hero begins with a very nasty melodic metal guitar style. It will take the traditional hard rock audience a little bit of time to absorb the funk element in the track. This is as if Earth Wind and Fire were to include a melodic metal element in their compositions
Keep the Fire Burning is the third and final ballad on the album. It is very traditional hard rock on the instrumental portion. However, it is also very modern with the vocal harmonies. With the vocal harmony it is very very experimental. The vocal ranges are much like the higher register of a David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple’s Mark 3 era.
Angel Like You is not really a ballad. It is once again the guys really experimenting and taking hard melodic rock to different levels. The addition of the female vocal reminds me heavily of Robin Beck or even a Sass Jordan. The male vocal is being pumped with a slightly filtered register. This is a full confirmation of the guys goal of giving the world a very vocal oriented hard rock, melodic metal album.
Although I really do not see a heavy progressive side to Brothers In Arms it still represents all other claims of hard rock, melodic metal. Brothers In Arms is another step into the evolution and possibility of where hard rock or melodic metal can go. This album was not just thrown together either. It was very well thought out and written over time. Alex Grata & Anton Durasso also have something to influence and perhaps recruit future generations of musicians with experimentation . This album gets a 4/5 for its experimental nature.
The year is 1967, the first successful heart transplant happens in South Africa, the first ever bank ATM machine comes on to the landscape, the Monterey Pop Music & Arts Festival takes place in Monterey California, the first ever Super Bowl played between the Green Bay Packers vs Kansas City Chiefs plays and the Six Day War In Israel occurs. Meanwhile the USA is involved in the nations first ever televised war in Vietnam.
The war in Vietnam would ultimately lead to the infamous ‘Flower Power’ peace movement birthed in San Francisco California, the United Kingdom would begin to export some that would later be known as Progressive Rock and the United States was still being over run with music of peace from home and longer form progressive music from both the United Kingdom and Germany with ‘Krautrock’. However in the world of music and pop culture that all was about to change.
It was 1965 and two film students from UCLA Jim Morrison and Ray Manzerek would be on a collision course with melodic destiny. On the streets and in the underground of 1965 Los Angeles, Jim Morrison would develop a cult like following as a poet. Though he’d never intended to be a singer, Morrison was invited to join Manzarek’s group Rick and the Ravens on the strength of his poetry. Robby Krieger andJohn Densmore, who’d played together in the band Psychedelic Rangers, were recruited soon thereafter; though several bassists auditioned of the new collective, none could furnish the bottom end as effectively as Manzarek’s left hand. Taking their name from Aldous Huxley’s psychotropic monograph The Doors of Perception, the band signed to Elektra Records following a now-legendary gig at the Whisky-a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. Later The Doors of Perception would be shorten to just The Doors.
In 1967 The Doors would release their self titled debut on a Elektra Records and it is that very self titled debut that is the subject of this very ‘retrospective piece’. It is always good to do these retrospectives because it allows for those who were there to reflect in a pool of nostalgia, a possible introduction to the band and album of the generations that would come after and finally to pass the stories down along the lines of posterity. In this particular retrospective I will share some fun song facts I researched for this and to introduce a newer generation to the very fabric of origins of the music we love . This album in a very backhanded way was my gateway into progressive rock and I will explain that later on in this piece.
As far as the dark content and imagery The Doors painted on their debut, it was a total rebellion to the ‘Flower Power’ movement of the day. The Doors were not feeling all the peace and love many of their contemporaries were. The Doors lyrically and instrumentally walked down the darker and less travel road. Their collective mindset deliberately took the road less traveled back in that day and time. The fact they were taking the much darker approach in the music also certainly allowed for the band to not only be as distinctive as night and day among their peers but would garner the attention of watchdog groups set up by both governments and some religious organizations of the day.
A lot of the lyrical content of the album was influenced by the very childhood of Jim Morrison. Constantly challenging censorship and conventional wisdom, Jim Morrison’s lyrics delved into primal issues of sex, violence, freedom and the spirit. He outraged authority figures, braved intimidation and arrest, and followed the road of excess (as one of his muses, the poet William Blake, famously put it) toward the palace of wisdom. Ray Manzarek was the architect of The Doors’ intoxicating keyboard sound. Manzarek’s evocative playing fused rock, jazz, blues, bossa nova and an array of other styles into something utterly, dazzlingly new.
Drummer John Densmore was far more than merely the rhythmic engine of The Doors. Strongly influenced by jazz skinsmen like Elvin Jones and the supple grooves of the Brazilian wave, he brought a highly evolved sense of dynamics, structure and musicality to his beats. Inexorably drawn to music from childhood, Los Angeles-born Densmore honed his sense of dynamics playing with his high school marching band. In the mid-’60s he joined guitarist Robby Krieger in a band called Psychedelic Rangers; shortly thereafter they hooked up with keyboardist Ray Manzarek and Morrison, and an explosive chapter in the development of rock ‘n’ roll began. A raft of paradigm-shifting recordings and epochal live performances would follow. With a flair for wicked bottleneck slide, exploratory solos and gutbucket grooves, guitarist Robby Krieger brought a stinging, sinuous intensity to the sound of The Doors. But he was also a key songwriter in the band and penned some of their biggest hits – notably their mesmerizing #1 hit, “Light My Fire.” Before picking up the guitar at age 17, the L.A. native studied trumpet and piano. The inspiration for switching to guitar came not from rock ‘n’ roll, but Spanish flamenco music. His first guitar hero, however, was jazz legend Wes Montgomery. After Morrison’s death in 1971, Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore carried on as a trio. They released two more albums as the Doors before calling it quits in 1973, though they did reconvene a few years later to create music for poetry Morrison had recorded shortly before his death, released as the 1978 album An American Prayer.
Now some highlights and song facts track by track on the self titled 1967 debut of The Doors, The Doors.
Break On Through (To The Other Side) takes off with some seriously blues laden rock riffs laid down by Robby Kreiger who sets the table for the listener. In this urgent song, Jim Morrison looks to shake things up, a common theme in his songwriting. In 1966, he said: “I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning.” This was the first song on The Doors first album, and also their first single. It got some airplay on Los Angeles radio stations after their friends and fans kept requesting it.
The original line in the chorus was “She gets high,” but their producer Paul Rothchild thought that would limit the song’s airplay potential, and convinced the group to leave it out. Instead, “high” was edited out, making it sound like, “she get uuggh,” but the “high” line can be heard in live versions. You can also hear the song as intended in the 1999 reissue of the album, which was overseen by their original engineer Bruce Botnick. He also replaced Jim Morrison’s “f–k”s on “The End.” These edits went over about as well as the digital revisions to Star Wars.
Soul Kitchen perhaps a highly under rated and hidden anthem for The Doors is a tribute to a soul food restaurant Jim Morrison ate at on Venice Beach called Olivia’s. Morrison often stayed too late at Olivia’s, where he liked the food because it reminded him of home and warmed his “soul.” They often kicked him out so they can close, thus lines like: “let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen.” “Soul Kitchen” as a restaurant title, would have of course referred to “soul food.” That’s a traditional kind of cuisine popular with African Americans of the mid-20th century, named in harmony with other “soul” affectations. Soul food usually revolved around ham (cuts like hog’s feet and hog jowls), beans, okra, hushpuppies, cornbread, collard greens, and other one-offs of standard American fair. The idea is to that the food is both economical and very filling. People in colder climates (from any culture) may also find soul food comforting in the heart of winter, since you’re going to burn all those calories shoveling snow anyway.
According to the Greil Marcus book The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, “Soul Kitchen” was The Doors’ own “Gloria,” comparing the steady climb toward a looming chorus. It also quotes Paul Williams’ May 1967 article in Crawdaddy! opining that it was more comparable to “Blowin’ in the Wind,” in that both songs have a message, but the message of “Soul Kitchen” is of course “learn to forget.”
Meanwhile, John Densmore’s book Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrisonand the Doors declares that the title restaurant Olivia’s was a “small soul food restaurant at the corner of Ocean Park and Main.” The author describes a meal there with Morrison, commenting that the restaurant “belonged in Biloxi, Mississippi” and resembled “an Amtrak dining car that got stranded on the beach” and was packed with UCLA film students. Another famous diner was Linda Ronstadt.
The Crystal Ship is clearly a ethereal based track revolving around suggestive imagery and content on a lyrical basis. This song came from poetry written in Jim Morrison’s notebooks. He wrote it after splitting up with his girlfriend, Mary Werbelow, in the summer of 1965. While the “Crystal Ship” is sometimes thought to represent drugs, Ken Rafferty from The Annotated Lyrics makes this case:
This song has nothing to do with drugs and everything about Jim Morrison’s heavy relationship with his first love, Mary Werbelow. As a poet, he did nothing more than use transparent images for his relation to the past. He (Jim Morrison) hasn’t let go of her as evidenced in the first line, “Before you slip into unconsciousness, I’d like to have another kiss.”That means the protagonist had already left her in the physical realm, but has not left her subconsciously. The thought of her still burdens him and he just wants another kiss to somehow make it feel better. “Another flashing chance at bliss, another kiss.” Again, he cannot seem to let go of their love, their relationship, and how much she meant to him. “The days are bright and filled with pain.”He’s moved on and is now doing very well as a singer/songwriter in a rock band in L.A., but he still has feelings for her and this song is his testament to her that he still has feelings for her. “The time you ran was too insane.”Jim was one to mock even his girlfriends- he would tease others, but mostly, he was testing them. This line very well could be a reference to a time he felt bad about verbally teasing her- knowing that it upset her. “The streets are fields that never die, deliver me from reasons why, you’d rather cry, I’d rather fly.”A simple line that confirms the end of the relationship and that the protagonist is willing to move on. The streets are fields are his memories, and because they are vague memories now, they also present a reason why he can forget.
And that last stanza confirms his growing popularity as a lead singer for a rock band with an ever-growing popularity. The beauty of it though is how he is saying to her that no matter how big he becomes, he will still think of her, and even call her, when he gets the chance.
Twentieth Century Fox is perhaps the most humourous tongue cheek song on the entire album. It is definitely something much lighter on the audio pallet in the midst of an album dealing with so much dark yet brooding material. This song is about a fashionable, but unfeeling woman. The title is a play on words – it’s the name of a popular movie studio, but Jim Morrison’s lyrics refer to a girl – “fox” was a popular term for a pretty girl at the time. The movie studio is used to represent the woman in the song, who is glamorous, but artificial.
The studio, 20th Century Fox, is one of the Big Six studios. Fox Film Corporation was founded in 1915, while Twentieth Century Pictures was founded in 1933. They merged in 1935 and became “The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.”
Producer Paul Rothchild had the band walk on wooden planks during the chorus to get the pounding effect.
In 2002, original Doors Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek joined former Police drummer Stewart Copeland and former Cult singer Ian Astbury to form a new group which they called “21st Century Doors,” the name being a takeoff on this song. They were going to start touring in 2002, but had to postpone until 2003 when Copeland broke his arm while biking. Krieger and Manzarek replaced him with drummer Ty Dennis, and Copeland filed a lawsuit claiming they broke an oral agreement to keep him as their drummer. The band was also sued by original drummer John Densmore, and by Jim Morrison’s parents, who felt they were misappropriating the Doors name. Krieger and Manzarek eventually changed the name to “Riders On The Storm.”
Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) is another song off the album with more of a pop sensibility. This is a cover of a German opera song written in 1929 by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. It was used in a controversial 1930 German operetta called The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahogany.
The themes of materialism, despair, and illicit pleasures from the operetta this was taken from would be revisited often by The Doors. The song took on a more literal meaning over the years as Jim Morrison’s drug and alcohol problems became public knowledge. The Doors got the idea for this from an album of German songs their keyboard player, Ray Manzarek, had. In 2000, the surviving members of the Doors taped a VH1 Storytellers episode with guest vocalists filling in for Morrison. Ian Astbury sang on this track, and in 2002 joined Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger when they toured as The Doors of the 21st Century. He fronted their group, which changed names after a lawsuit filed by original drummer John Densmore, until 2007, doing about 150 shows.
Light My Fire next to ‘The End’ is probably the most controversial and dubious song on the album. It would chart on Billboard in America at #1and the United Kingdom at #7. It would also be one of the contemporary rock songs of its time to the present day to have airplay of its original format at 7:14.
Most of the song was written by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, who wanted to write about one of the elements: fire, air, earth, and water. A fan of the Rolling Stones song “Play With Fire,” he decided to go hot. Krieger came up with the melody and wrote most of the lyrics, which are about leaving inhibitions behind in flames of passion.
At first, the song had a folk flavor, but it ignited when Jim Morrison wrote the second verse (“our love become a funeral pyre…”)and Ray Manzarek came up with the famous organ intro. Drummer John Densmore also contributed, coming up with the rhythm. Like all Doors songs of this era, the band shared composer credits.
This became The Doors’ signature song. Included on their first album, it was a huge hit and launched them to stardom. Before it was released, The Doors were an underground band popular in the Los Angeles area, but “Light My Fire” got the attention of a mass audience.
On the album, which was released in January 1967, the song runs 6:50. The group’s first single, “Break On Through (To The Other Side),” reached just #126 in America. “Light My Fire” was deemed too long for airplay, but radio stations (especially in Los Angeles) got requests for the song from listeners who heard it off the album. Their label, Elektra Records decided to release a shorter version so they had producer Paul Rothchild do an edit. By chopping out the guitar solos, he whittled it down to 2:52.
This version was released as a single in April, and the song took off, giving The Doors their first big hit.
To many fans, the single edit was an abomination, and many DJs played the album version once the song took off. The producers of The Ed Sullivan Show asked the band to change the line “Girl we couldn’t get much higher” for their appearance in 1967. Morrison said he would, but sung it anyway. Afterwards, he told Sullivan that he was nervous and simply forgot to change the line. This didn’t fly, and The Doors were never invited back.
Back Door Man spoke of a issue becoming a epidemic of the day, that being infidelity or adultery. It was easy to see why considering all the ‘Free Love’ propaganda going about in the culture. A Willie Dixon blues song from 1961, this has been covered by John Hammond Jr. and Howlin’ Wolf, among others. The Doors decided to cover this after their guitarist Robby Krieger heard John Hammond Jr.’s version.
A “Back Door Man” is a guy who has relations with a woman while her husband has been out slaving away to provide for her. The usual guilty perpetrator if a wife was caught cheating was a regular tradesman caller (Ice Man, Insurance Salesman etc.). He would then run out the back door as the husband entered the front door. The “Back Door Man”theme has been taken up in several Soul and Blues songs, including “Back Door Santa” by Clarence Carter.
At a show at Winterland in San Francisco, The Doors stopped in the middle of this when their taped performance came on The Jonathan Winters Show. They watched the segment from a TV on stage, picked up their instruments, and finished the song. The Doors played a lot of Blues songs in their early days when they were playing clubs, but this is the only one they recorded until 2 years later, when they did “Crawling King Snake” on LA Woman. The Doors performed this at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The Doors didn’t play well, as Morrison was worried about his trial resulting from a Miami concert where he was accused of exposing himself to the crowd. Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure, but died while the case was under appeal. In 2010, the governor of Florida granted Morrison a posthumous pardon after a fan requested a review of the case.
I Looked At You was a very pop kind of track at the time. It was a song that could certainly hang with anything The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Mama’ And Papa’s and even The Monkees had put out at that point. But even in what at first sounds like a sunny pop tune, Jim Morrison managed to weave some disturbing thoughts. While the song catalogs an exchange of lover’s looks, smiles and words like any other love song might do, the driving message here is that the lovers can’t turn back, and “it’s too late”. Maybe it’s simply too late for the lovers not to be deeply in love, but the edginess and weariness in Morrison’s vocals suggest a more sinister subtext. Not exactly “Happy Together”.
End Of The Night is a deeply and heavily psychedelic folk rock track. It also is as deeply disturbing on a lyrical front as the emotion conveys through the instrumental portion of the track. This is definitely a song that takes on another life once the lyrics marry with the instrumental. This is a “confession” of Jim Morrison’s aims in life. To the end of the night was his aim through many ways of speeding up death, a kind of death through hallucinations and visions into other worlds (drugs). He was trying to get somewhere nobody had ever been before, a place of complete peace.
The title and some of the lyrics were inspired by the 1932 French novel Journey To The End Of The Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.
Realms of bliss, realms of light Some are born to sweet delight Some are born to sweet delight Some are born to the endless night
Are taken almost verbatim from the poem Auguries Of Innocence by William Blake, which includes the passage:
Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight Some are born to sweet delight Some are born to endless night
Take It As It Comes Just as George Harrison of The Beatles had developed a friendship with his spiritual leader Ravi Shankar, so had Jim Morrison with The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1917-2008. “Maharishi”. This song is about accepting what life gives you at your own pace. It was dedicated to the Maharishi, a teacher of transcendental meditation, after Jim Morrison attended one of his lectures. The full name of this particular Maharishi is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1917-2008. “Maharishi” itself is just a title meaning “enlightened, spiritual one.” Yogi had a good sense of humor and as he often laughed in TV interviews, he was nicknamed “the giggling guru.” While his teachings, the practice of transcendental meditation, were usually associated with Hindu or Buddhist religions, Yogi was out to advocate meditation itself as a spiritual practice and alternative medicine, based on his interpretation of the ancient Vedic science.
The Maharishi is famous for leading a meditation camp in 1967 attended by The Beatles, Donovan, and Mia Farrow. John Lennon wrote “Sexy Sadie” about The Maharishi.
The End – Journey To The Center Of The Progressive Universe #1-
It was the summer of 1979 and my parents had been in the middle of a nasty divorce. I would eventually end up leaving Ohio and go to California with my dad and new step mother. My dad had just changed out the old 8 track player for a new state of the art cassette player. On our way to California he put in the first cassette at it was the very album I have been talking about in this retrospective, The Doors The Doors.
I remember how utterly scary this was to a 7 year old child at the time. The utter darkness to it. The 11:00 + minutes left me in bewilderment. It really scared the hell out of me but left me in total awe and intrigue. Never before had I ever heard a song that long up till that time. This would give me such a total void into long form music that demanded to be filled. It was in fact off this track that I learned of Yes’s Close To The Edge, Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick, Genesis’ Suppers Ready and even RUSH’s 2112. Much like Dorothy in the Land Of OZ this started my journey into progressive rock/metal. I went through the wormhole and down that yellow brick road and have never returned since.
The End (Revisited) “The End” is death, although the song also deals with Jim Morrison’s parents – it contains Oedipal themes of loving the mother and killing the father. Morrison was always vague as to the meaning, explaining: “It could be almost anything you want it to be.” The Doors developed this song during live performances at the Whisky a Go Go, a Los Angeles club where they were the house band in 1966. They had to play two sets a night, so they were forced to extend their songs in order to fill the sets. This gave them a chance to experiment with their songs.
“The End” began as Jim Morrison’s farewell to Mary Werbelow, his girlfriend who followed him from Florida to Los Angeles. It developed into an 11-minute epic.
On August 21, 1966, Jim Morrison didn’t show up for The Doors gig at the Whisky a Go Go. After playing the first set without him, the band retrieved Morrison from his apartment, where he had been tripping on acid. They always played “The End” as the last song, but Morrison decided to play it early in the set, and the band went along. When they got to the part where he could do a spoken improvisation, he started talking about a killer, and said, “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to f–k you!” The crowd went nuts, but the band was fired right after the show. The Doors had recently signed a record deal and they had established a large following, so getting fired from the Whisky was not a crushing blow.
Morrison sang this live as “F–k the mother,” rather than “Screw the mother.” At the time, the band couldn’t cross what their engineer Bruce Botnick called “the f–k barrier,” so they sanitized the lyric on the album. When Botnick remixed the album for a 1999 reissue, however, he put Morrison’s “f–k”s back in, which is how the song was intended.
This was famously used in the movie Apocalypse Now over scenes from the Vietnam War. Director Francis Ford Coppola had it remixed to include the line “F–k the mother.”
Make no mistake The Doors The Doors goes down as one of the strongest debut albums in rock history. It is one of the original fusion albums perfectly mixing rock, blues, psychedelic, jazz and even folk elements. This is also one of the most experimental debut rock albums in history yielding the 7+ minute Light My Fire and the 11+ minute The End, something unheard of for a American band at the time. This self titled debut instantly cemented the band’s legacy as one we still talk about 50 years later. The Doors The Doors is one of those rock albums and debuts that continually transcends time and generations.