The last 3 weeks of my life have been my own Trials Of Job. I have been violently ill with arthritic/paralyzing symptoms in my arms and hands brought on by stress and strain and when these horrible pains don't occur I suffer serious upset of the stomach also brought on by stress, strain, and nerves. My life has become so full of stress, tension, and horrors that I find it hard to live. I've even had trouble listening to music I've been so sick and yet my one hope and my own thing to keep me alive has remained music and the fact that I am finally getting to go where I wanted to go to avoid the horrendous deal that just happened when I go to make amends and make a record transaction I can love on next Saturday in a PROPER STORE. This is over 3 weeks too late to have saved me from my sickness, but will be a welcome bright spot in a very black period for me. How did this all start? How did it all happen? With the worst goodwill gesture ever from me and the worst nightmare of a record deal I've ever been through. The dealer whom I am now wishing would be in as much pain as I am shall go nameless and so will any other details of the last fatal record nightmare. Let's just say that MOST mail order dealers are parasites who never could run a store because they'd go bankrupt in two seconds. Some of these people, like the one the latest nightmare happened with, are decent to good people who shouldn't be in this business. Honesty is the key and once the lying and conniving starts you're finished and over with. I would also appreciate someone telling me about why I've had to be miserable for such a long period of time with seemingly no end to it... I think I'd better cool down and relax as much as I can before I say something here I regret.
-Is There A Better Life Ahead For Me? I Hope So!-
Music has gone through a lot of evolutions and so does life. I am hoping that out of the blackness will rise an Age Of Light And A Healing Of Body And Mind for me where I will become a healthier, happier, saner person. I've always been very emotional and always been, as you can tell from my previous entries, fairly hard about certain things and people. One thing that has been a constant since I was a teenager has been the hunger to hear just about everything there is out there worth hearing and that is fed by my ultra eclectic tastes in not just music, but everything. I have developed both a weakness for McCartneyesque or otherwise well written soft pop/soft rock and also for the harder, heavier kind of psychedelic and progressive rock.
-A Little Bit Of Variety And A Lot Of Emotion Make Life/Music Good-
Some bands have lasted long enough to dabble in both art forms such as Jigsaw, but usually an eclectic release that is between heavy/hard and soft/calm is a one off release. I never figured that out, but there are an endless amount of bands and artists who have straddled both lines and not gone beyond one masterful or great yet a little flawed recording. I think to show the dark side is important, nigh on essential. So too must it be to make positive statements and not to encourage things like suicide or destruction in recorded form. Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest have been blamed for this when they were firmly singing and writing from the heart against it which shows what a sketchy subject it is. Having lost two really good friends to suicide I have only written one song lyric about it and placed on a more biblical level of someone who is a demon who kills himself and then goes to Hell. Easily it is my darkest lyric ever that I would actually put to vocal lines and music. I've lost a lot of interest in heavy metal although you'll find me listening to hard rock, AOR, Pomp Rock, and hard progressive underground rock/heavy psych and plenty of it.
-Delving Even Deeper Getting Even Heavier-
Asgard will always be a firm favourite, but their one album is a melodic heavy underground one with plenty of delicious British cosmic psychedelia thrown in. I suppose I couldn't call The Scorpions' masterpiece LONESOME CROW "melodic," but the fury has a structure to in on that album lacking in a lot of other hard heavy rock brain blasters that because of their lack of variety don't get half the time on my turntable as LONESOME CROW does. Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton not to mention Jimmy Page and a whole bunch of others began what was at that time a very novel and good thing. Then sometime later on other people took hard rock away from the blues base and turned it into heavy metal. That does not mean that classical influences don't work- they actually can be downright essential. It would be the preachy teachy or "Look At Me I'm Just Soo Sexy" stuff like Iron Maiden and Metallica in the former Guns & Roses in the latter category that there is absolutely no need for. Guns & Roses began life as a great hard rock band with an annoying lead singer, but Axl Rose got himself so twisted around that he turned their music into a joke. Many people start and end with the very first album. I never bought it after Mr. Axl Rose's racist and gay bashing lyrics and comments following LIES (their second effort) brought them down to the lowest level along with his good buddy Sebastian Bach who showed his evil true colours.
When you make music out of hate you ain't making music. I was always more into the really good stuff like UFO or Diamond Head and I still love those bands. I also still have a lot of love for Grand Prix and Shy who are two of the most melodic of all hard rock/Pomp rock/AOR bands. Another great melodic band would be Magnum. That Magnum built an institution on a cult following and a few glimpses of major success is amazing. They began life as an out progressive rock band! Give plenty of credit to Tony Clarkin whose pen hasn't dried up or his guitar prowess and Bob Catley who is blessed with a majestic voice.
There is the question of where music can go to now. I wonder about that a lot. For all the new advances in technology and the vast improvement of music over the last several years there still is an awful lot of trash out there. Most of it is filed under "Heavy Metal," but there are the huge selling commercial artists as there always will be even during a musical renaissance period. The one period where almost everything was exciting was the mid to late 1960s. Things fragmented in the early 70s, but undoubtedly there was a lot of brilliant music being made then that just didn't take off and sell in any quantity.
-Soft Rock, Melodic Prog, Melodic Pop, Or Soft Slush, Wimp Prog, Icky Sweet-
I used to find records that were worth trying and would form my musical flights of fancy in record stores and it will go back to that. I will be only dealing in stores with knowledgeable and helpful people who run them and nevermore with twisted mail order record vampires. That reminds me of one of the most strange and unnerving songs ever written "Still Hungry (Vampire Song)" by the Danish band Ache off their best album PICTURES FROM CYCLUS 7. That album is a melodic progressive gem with an edge to it. I got into soft pop after soft progressive, but be warned there is a lot out there you never should hear that is soft slush and icky sweet wimpy nothing. Wimpy or light isn't even necessarily what will destroy an album or band it is when it crosses the line into sickly sweet rubbish. I will always love Jigsaw, Wings, Camel, Kayak, Klaatu because these bands made really good music. Paul McCartney has done an incredible volume of work that has gone everywhere from the classiest melodic pop/rock around to the sweetest sappiest non-music, but he has never stopped creating. Give him a lot of credit. Give The Beatles the most credit of any band ever formed. You can put Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys up there too, but they have a sound harder to imitate without being too squeaky and icky and sugary. It takes a huge amount of talent to even come within a hair of Brian Wilson yet the writing teams of greatness like Greenaway/Cook and Jigsaw's Des Dyer/Clive Scott have made some real magic happen. Whilst Rogers Greenaway and Cook wrote lots of great songs for bands like White Plains that was also coming out of the beat boom of the 60s in England. I suppose that there isn't really any easy way of giving you the advice of how to tell if something is going to be a McCartney or a White Plains or Jigsaw or Ache or if it's gonna make you cringe. Usually, though, go by song titles and sometimes an album cover is the cue as to whether to jump on in or forget about it. A word of warning would be that Katch 22's IT'S SOFT ROCK AND ALL SORTS comes in a cover to die for, but the cover version songs on the back and the sappy titles give it away. There are glimpses of hope in some of the original material, but this one is way off the mark. On the other hand Angel Pavement never even got a record out at the time, but they may be The Best Of The Best. Just buy the now long out of print official anthology MAYBE TOMORROW and you will be blown out of your mind by how great their music is- a perfect mixture of Baroque Pop and melodic British flowery psych. For the loungier kinds of fun that are still solid good fun and for quality melodic rock and pop look no further than a lot of great Canadian and European bands like 25th Regiment's ECOLOGY Beatlesesque masterpiece and Abba- one only famous to collectors the other a worldwide phenomenon. Remember it's your taste and your choice. It doesn't matter what other people think about it. There lies the key to happiness- live for yourself and give to others, but don't give too much. I gave too much recently and got 1st degree burns. Do be careful who you deal with and a word of advice- stay away from mail order. Don't be lazy because it will cost you mightily. Heed that advice and up to a sweet Bedfordshire you go!