Tag Archives: Deep Purple

Shredders Of The Ivories Vol. 1

Tickling the Ivories?

Well you can most certainly Shred on those venerable black and whites and this happened long before Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Rick Wakeman (Yes), or Keith Emerson (ELP) ever plugged into an amp. No siree, Shredding is not the exclusive domain of gutarists—Composers and Pianists Shred too. There’s some Shred to High Heaven here so let’s take a look and delve into some of the treasure trove of Piano Shred…

 

Chopin

Frédéric Chopin was definitely a Shredder. Look no further than “Fantaisie–Impromptu” Opus 66. Case closed after this soundboard scorcher.  You might want to soak your fingers in a bucket of cool water with lavender, chamomile and Epsom salt after playing it. This composition is TOTAL piano Shred then gets mellow in the middle, with an “Eye of the storm” arpeggiated legato melody and slowed tempo change evoking a delicate soft center amidst the frenetic fingerboard fusillades it’s famous for.

 

“Waltz in A Flat Major” Opus 42 is another marathon of Shred. The section after the opening trill of partial chromatic runs is a real finger tightrope walk and brain hemisphere head trip to play to say the least—more difficult than the multi octave faster part it leads into which sounds more difficult. There’s plenty of fretboard fireworks at the finale here so light fuse and duck behind your couch with the nearest spaghetti colander as a helmet.

 

Check out “Waltz in C# Minor” Opus 64 for more awesome arpeggios that melodically meander over minor and major scales after the opening section. Chopin unleashes cascades of broken chords like the musical equivalent of hitting Class V Rapids or going over Niagara Falls in a piano. Stand under the majestic waterfall of notes and get a rapturous Baptism of Shred.

 

“Waltz in D Flat Major” Opus 64 No. 1 is yet another Ode to Shred. Known commonly as the “Minute Waltz”, it was actually originally given the subtitle “Valse du petit chien” (The little dog waltz or Waltz of the little dog). It’s said Chopin’s inspiration for this piece was watching a little dog chasing it’s tail. The music publisher gave it the title “Minute Waltz” which was then misinterpreted: Meaning “Minute” as in small or miniature not a measurement of time.  It’s NOT supposed to be played in a New York Minute—it usually clocks in at a minute and a half to 2 and a half minutes depending how many amphetamines the performer has ingested in the last 24 hours. Become a Waltz Whisperer by aurally connecting with Chopin’s inspiration and don’t forget the doggie bag.

 

Similar to it’s more famous Speedy Gonzales Waltz brother above, “Grand Valse Brillante in F Major” Opus 34, is another worthy contender in the Ring of Shred. Valse means waltz by the way, but who cares when our ears need more fresh squeezed Shred? The piece reminds me of going up the first incline section of a roller coaster then gaining velocity downwards and being flung through twists, turns, loops and corkscrews. You may need a doggie bag here too for different reasons.

 

The verdict here is Shreddingly clear: The “Poet of the Piano” was also a Shredder of the Piano. Frédéric Chopin Shedded when the piece called for it and had amazing compositional sense in it’s ideal placement and not to overdo flash and his technical mastery at the expense of the Almighty Melody.

 

Liszt

Another known accomplice in the Romantic Period Posse was Franz Liszt, who was friends with Chopin. Liszt was probably a frustrated electric guitarist born too early as he loved to Shred. If he were alive today he’d probably be on a G3 Tour with Vai and Satriani. “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2”  in C# Minor is one of the gems on the piano to grace the planet. This is one of the only lengthier piano compositions where every part and section of it has become famous especially in cartoons. Even in the slower Lassan opening section Liszt manages to weave some Shred. This piece is chock full of rock star from marathon fingerboard runs to octaves banging like gavels in judgement for the Shred. There’s tornadoes of Shred all over the place, plenty enough make your Chihuahua hide under the couch.

 

Liebesträume No. 3  in A Flat Major (Dreams of Love or Love Dream) is another favorite to Shred Out to. This piece is often also spelled Liebestraum No. 3. Umlauts or not, Franz unpacks the suitcase of Shred in a killer cadenza section tossing tumultuous tidal waves of notes at your ears. It’s a torrential downpour you’ll want to get drenched in again and again. Get ready for a tasty melodic sandwich with some spicy Uber Shred in the middle.




 

Mozart

Mozart regally Shredded in “Rondo a la Turka” (Turkish March) which is the finale section from “Piano Sonata in A Major” K. 331.  The section immediately after the main opening theme is especially fun to play as it’s like being inside a fine precision Swiss watch, your fingers being the bronze gears spinning out the melody synchronized in harmony. It’s some of the finest Upper Crust Shred mine ears have ever had the pleasure of meeting at any Black Tie colonial white wig event.

 

Beethoven

The first “Van” to Shred was not Van Halen. It was Ludwig van Beethoven. The mighty composer Shredded in “Moonlight Sonata” and not the more well known slow arpeggio part (first movement) that you may have blasphemously heard as background music on sh*t like Hemorrhoid creme commercials (no pun intended). The famous slower excerpt that’s become known and performed as a solo piece is part of “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor” Op. 27 No. 2 which is called Quasi una fantasia (Almost a fantasy). Listen to the THIRD movement of this sonata to get your Ludwig van Shred fix. This finale section is where Beethoven breaks out of the straitjacket and Shreds like a madman howling at the moon.

 

Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff brought us the Red Shred from Mother Russia as did fellow composer comrade Alexander Scriabin whom we’ll no doubt cover in another edition. Some of Rach’s finest Shred moments can be heard in “Prelude No. 1 in C# Minor” Op. 3 No. 2, one of his most famous works.  It’s a piece where your hands can easily get tangled up with all the block chords played by two hands overlapping each other. After the intro melody, there’s some schizophrenically cool Shred as Rachmaninoff pours eerie arpeggios into the ether like hes summoning Jack Nicholson to bust his head through your closet door screaming “Here’s Johnny!”

 

“Prelude No. 5 in G Minor” Op. 23, No. 5 is a playfully creepy syncopated Shred stroll through the woods. This composition has sections where Rachmaninoff delivers a pummeling beat down of block chord Shred, something he was particularly fond of. It’s more uptempo than the C# Minor Prelude and it’s many a cartoon super villains dream to have a piece like this as his or her theme song.

 

“Prelude No. 2 in B Flat Major” Op. 23 No. 2 takes it up a notch to Mach 2 or Rach 2 as the case may be. The main theme is a prime example of how the melody surfs a tidal wave of left hand Shred. It’s a beautiful showcase of regal imperial elegant Shred worthy of the Tzars.

 

Taken together, these are three of my absolute favorite Sergei Rachmaninoff compositions.

 

 

Debussy

French composer Claude Debussy did Impressionist Shred. This is notably illustrated on “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” from Children’s Corner. This piece is similar structurally to Chopin’s “Fantasie–Imromptu” mentioned earlier in that it hits you with a Wall of Shred initially then has this beautiful slower section in the middle to sip an afternoon tea to. Although “Clair de Lune” from Suite Bergamasque is perhaps his most well known work, Doctor Gradus is the one to call for a Shred Checkup.




 

Joplin

While not intended to be played fast as he noted on published sheet music, the Godfather of Ragtime himself Scott Joplin also Shredded. Joplin came into greater deserved prominence with the 1973 Robert Redford and Paul Newman film The Sting. Composer/Conductor Marvin Hamlisch even won an Academy Award (Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation) for the soundtrack to the film which featured numerous Scott Joplin compositions.

 

Although not generally on the menu of the musical genre he helped pioneer, Joplin dished out some side orders of Shred. While “The Entertainer” and “Maple Leaf Rag” are among his most well known compositions, the piece I most enjoy getting my Shred on is “Pineapple Rag.” Ragtime is structured into 4 choruses and the chorus that peaks the Shred-o-Meter is the third one. It’s a trip to Ragtime Shred Heaven.

 

Gershwin

Let’s not forget George Gershwin and Jazz Shred with that masterpiece “Rhapsody in Blue.” This is the piece that makes me wish Gershwin wrote more instrumental works to showcase the greater range of his talents instead of mainly writing songs with his brother Ira Gershwin for Musicals. Yes it’s understandable the Musicals payed the bills, but “Rhapsody in Blue” is his open canvas stream of consciousness meandering melodic Tour de force unrestrained by the structures of verse and chorus. Playful, elegant, and powerful, “Rhapsody in Blue” is the one piece that shows Gershwin DEFINITELY rubbed elbows with the Masters.

 

 

Well we hope you enjoyed this sojourn of Shred on the aural autobahns. Definitely some essential Piano Shred to add to your collection: A showcase of Shred for different moods and over different genres. Since I’m not waiting for Merriam–Webster, I’ll describe Shred this way: Shred is controlled melodic velocity that is musical and not simple hypersonic arpeggiated dexterity or technique masturbation. There’s a ferociousness to it when it hits the spot because composed well and executed properly, it evokes the “Holy Sh*t!” response. And by it’s fruits, Ye will know the SHRED.

© Composer Yoga




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The Colors Of Rock: Songs

A list of songs on the palette making The Colors Of Rock (updated periodically)

18 Yellow Roses (Bobby Darin)
99 Luftballons/Red Balloons (Nena)
All Cats Are Grey (The Cure)
Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk (Dr. Hook)
Back In Black (AC/DC)
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Black Celebration (Depeche Mode)
Black And Blue (Van Halen)
Black Cat (Janet Jackson)
Black Cow (Steely Dan)
Black Diamond (Kiss)
Black Is Black (Los Bravos)
Black Night (Deep Purple)
Black Water (The Doobie Brothers)
Blue Collar Man (Styx)
Blue Eyes (Elton John)
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Willie Nelson)
Blue Jean (David Bowie)
Blue On Black (Kenny Wayne Shepard)
Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley)
Bluer Than Blue (Michael Johnson)
Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
Brown Shoes (Frank Zappa)
Brown Sugar (The Rolling Stones)
Caribbean Blue (Enya)
Crystal Blue Persuasion (Tommy James & The Shondells)
Colour My World (Chicago)
Desert Rose (Eric Johnson)
Don't Eat the Yellow Snow (Frank Zappa)
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (Crystal Gayle)
Fade to Black (Metallica)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Green Earrings (Steely Dan)
Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Green Green Grass Of Home (Johnny Darrell, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Tom Jones)
Green Light (Lorde)
Green Onions (Booker T. & The M.G.s)
Green Tinted Sixties Mind (Mr. Big)
Gold (John Stewart)
Golden Lady (Stevie Wonder)
Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
Lady In Red (Chris Deburgh)
I Saw Red (Warrant)
Indigo Eyes (Peter Murphy)
It's Not Easy Being Green (Kermit the Frog)
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (Brian Hyland)
Little Red Corvette (Prince)
Mellow Yellow (Donovan)
Men In Black (Will Smith)
Midnight Blue (Lou Graham)
Mr. Brownstone (Guns N' Roses)
Orange Crush (R.E.M.)
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones)
Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole)
Pink Houses (John Cougar Mellencamp)
Purple Haze (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Purple People Eater (Sheb Wooley)
Purple Rain (Prince)
Red Barchetta (Rush)
Red House (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Red Sector A (Rush)
Red Skies (The Fixx)
Song Sung Blue (Neil Diamond)
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree (Tony Orlando and Dawn)
Touch Of Grey (The Grateful Dead)
True Blue (Madonna)
True Colors (Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins)
Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
White Room (Cream)
Yellow (Coldplay)
Yellow Flicker Beat (Lorde)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

© Composer Yoga

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Rock Clergy, Religious & Spiritual Issues: Artists

A list of artists who get their namesake from the Clergy, Religious & Spiritual Issues (updated periodically)

Alan Parsons
Billy Idol
Black Sabbath
Blind Faith
Christopher Cross
Collective Soul
Creed
Creedence Clearwater Revival
De La Soul
Exodus
Faith No More
Fifth Angel
Genesis
Godsmack
Gram Parsons (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers)
Helloween
John Deacon (Queen)
Jesus And Mary Chain
Jesus Jones
Judas Priest
Jon Lord (Deep Purple)
Lamb Of God
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
Lorde
Madonna
Maxi Priest
Nazareth
Reverend Horton Heat
Terri Nunn (Berlin)
The Cult
Sister Hazel
Shotgun Messiah
Smokey Robinson And The Miracles
Soul Asylum
Spirit
Testament
Tora Tora
Wall Of Voodoo

© Composer Yoga




The Colors Of Rock: Artists

A list of artists on the palette making The Colors Of Rock (updated periodically)

Al Green
Barry White
(The) Black Crowes
Black Flag
Black Grape
Black Sabbath
Blackie Lawless (WASP, solo)
Blondie
Blue Murder
Brownsville Station
Clint Black
Color Me Badd
Cream
Deep Purple
Golden Earring
Great White
Green Day
Jackson Browne
James Brown
Larry Blackmon (Cameo)
Living Color
Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire)
(The) Moody Blues
Pink
Pink Floyd
Rainbow
Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow)
Sister Hazel
Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire)
White Lion
Whitesnake
Yellowjackets




Creative Practice & Songwriting: Playing In The Dark




No this isn’t about kinky blindfolded piano lessons with Christian Grey here folks. Sorry to disappoint. So leave the nipple clamps in The Red Room where they belong. They won’t cut it in the Practice Room unless you happened to have misplaced your capo.

 

Anyhow, being a formal student of any musical instrument has many advantages. You learn the notes, all kinds of theory, things like the harmonized scales, the magnificence of modes, harmony, melody, counterpoint, technique, tempo, time signatures, etc.

 

I learned all this where some self–taught people learn to play by ear and hone in better ear skills and acuity because of it. When I started playing in bands though, I saw how I was behind in this regard because I couldn’t learn songs by ear very well—everything was always written down for me in black and white in my piano lessons so I didn’t have to. I became over reliant on the printed page. Co–dependent in fact. The problem is, music is first and foremost an auditory phenomenon. Learning music only from a printed page is like closing your eyes at a ballet—you can hear the movement and music but the dominant sense dance appeals to as an audience member is your vision—the syncronization of various body movements and choreography to music. With eyes wide shut at the ballet, good luck trying to figure out Releves from foot sounds and enjoying anything other than a tap routine.

 

People I know who’ve taken flight training have told me that at some point you have to throw the book out—meaning you cannot rely on it as a crutch as you are supposed to know and have internalized it to become a competent pilot. I was far from throwing the book of sheet music out. Actually I wasn’t even on the tarmac, kind of like Snoopy still sitting atop his doghouse.

 

I picked up playing guitar later on while I was taking piano lessons as a second instrument. The interesting (and accidental) thing was, I didn’t know what every note was on the fretboard so I was playing, learning and writing by ear on guitar—by what sounded cool. And with tablature (AKA Guitar Tab), you just learn songs by strings and fret numbers not what the notes are. This is the reason more people have learned to play guitar than by taking formal lessons. With formal guitar lessons, you’d have to learn the note names and how to read music, something which most people these days don’t have the time or patience for. I’ve shown people how to play songs like Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” and The Kinks “You Really Got Me” in a few minutes with the Tablature method—beginners and people who aren’t even guitar players.

 

On the internet, people can learn just by watching “Monkey see, monkey do” style which strings and frets the player in the Youtube video demonstrates. Even learn “Shock The Monkey” without frying the brain with electrodes or that set of nipple clamps. To instruct a student formally involves learning the rudiments of music first like letters and vowels before you can spell words and make sentences. And let’s face it, there aren’t groupies for drawing pictures of Treble Clefs.




Like Duke Ellington said:
“If it sounds good, it is good.”

 

Duke’s quote can be further unwrapped and elaborated as “Don’t let knowledge and theory dictate how a song should be written or how it should go. Let the ear lead the melody.” The problem for me was I couldn’t look at the piano without knowing what every single note and chord was. My music teacher told me frequently “Learn the rules, then you can break them.” What better way to yoke and entice juvenile delinquency than with sh*t like that? So how could I break the rules naturally, like someone who didn’t have any formal music instruction?

 

I started practicing in the dark. Not only to get hand finger memory of where I was on the keyboard but to improve my ear training and pitch recognition. I realized that Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles HAD to develop their ear skills and muscle memory; that over reliance on our sight hinders developing better pitch recognition and worse, could put an unwanted straitjacket on creativity.

 


Playing In The Dark For Ear Training/Finger Memory

When I learned a new riff, I’d find the same pattern in different octaves all over the keyboard. When I learn a riff on guitar, I move it around the fretboard as well. The fingering will vary on guitar when you do this because the same note is located on different strings but on keyboard it will always be the same. You can also move the riff pattern to different keys to get practice learning what specific intervals and chords sound like. For instance, the main riff in “Smoke On The Water” is all fourths and you can play that pattern in different keys than the one it’s written in to learn what fourths sound like in different keys. The organ riff in the Styx tune “Blue Collar Man” is made up of fourths as well. Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” is made up of 5ths the formal musical interval term for what guitarists just call power chords.

 

The opening descending piano riff in the Tears For Fears song “Head Over Heels” is made up of octaves (G F# E D E C, G F# E D E C). Notice how the notes are the same and how tablature or listing just the notes by their letters cannot indicate the actual time value of each note which we perceive as the melody. It’s the same 5 notes but the syncopation is different so with tablature you have to know the song or hear it. You can’t learn a song you haven’t heard this way. That’s why the old school system of musical notation is still necessary. If it wasn’t standardized a few hundred years ago, never mind Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”, none of us would have even heard of Beethoven or any of his music (Dum Dum Da Dumm!!! Dum Dum Da Dumm!!! which is also 5ths by the way and the opening theme of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony).

 

Also practice playing from single notes to single notes to hear what the intervals of seconds, minor thirds, major thirds, fourths, fifths, sevenths, octaves, ninths, etc sound like. Repetition will lead to recognition.

 

A part of the riff in The Knack’s “My Sharona” uses octaves then power chords. The bassline of Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose” is octaves. The Mission Impossible Theme bassline is made up of octaves. The main notes for the bass line are G Bb C, G Bb C F Gb—to play it accurately, you’d have see it tabbed out, written out with notes on a staff, or learn it by ear.

 

The opening guitar riff in Devo’s “Whip It” is an arpeggiated (broken chord/single note) E Dominant 7th chord (E G# B D) and played EE G# B D. Your welcome Christian Grey. Now go play it on your piano—we know you must love Dominant chords. The keyboard response to the guitar riff in “Whip It” is a descending D power chord of the notes D A D.

 

Over time you’ll better recognize what intervals and chords sound like. You don’t need to practice in the dark per se if you don’t live with your Mom anymore and it’s out of your comfort zone. If you prefer, just practice not looking at your instrument, pretend it’s Medusa and you’ll Turn To Stone like Electric Light Orchestra. On guitar doing this is easier since the fretboard generally faces away from you when practicing and performing. But practicing in the dark does de–emphasize the sense of sight and heightens touch and hearing which will be sharpened better if this is done.

 

Playing In The Dark For Songwriting

Sometime later, I started using this same process to come up with riffs and composition ideas in additional to ear training and sharpening tactile fluency. It was a way around the habit of intellectualizing what you are writing on the piano because I deliberately wasn’t looking at what my hands & fingers were doing. I’d just start playing freely with both hands on the keys. The aim was to have no limits, to play anything, to not be afraid of any sound I could possibly make on the piano, no matter how weird or dissonant; To dissolve any preconceptions about how music should sound. The surprising thing then happened for the first time: I played something really original sounding, unique and novel. Then I would look at what my hands & fingers just did to remember it. Just like that, I’d written a new riff, melody or part of a song or composition. It was magical because it seemed to come right out of the ether, by some random form of play, some open non–rehearsed reveling. It was creativity on the fly, creativity in the moment. This is the equivalent of soloing but to jumpstart generating usable riffs and phrases from. Doing this happens more naturally on guitar because people don’t usually look at the fretboard when doing some open jamming or noodling around. Most of the time their eyes are closed as guitarists are “Turning Japanese” with a morphic medley of facial contortions matching their musical meanderings.

 

When you think about it, music isn’t written by some dude or dudette drawing little black symbols with ink and intellect—that part comes secondary to the initial inspiration so you can remember it afterwards or show others how to play it. Playing in the dark is a way to increase the amount of creative ideas you can come up with by providing a launching platform for creativity and get you to the intersection of inspiration. It’s uncensored playing free from the parameters of theory and intellect. So remember to get your “In The Dark” practice on like Billy Squier. Although optional, you can also use a silk blindfold but do have a safe word phrase handy like “Touch Of Grey.”

© Composer Yoga




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More Cowbell!!: Nazareth “Hair Of The Dog”

The 70’s was the decade that paved the way making it cool to write songs about bitches.

 

Miles Davis was in the kitchen (albeit not with Dinah) making a brew with a recipe from some bitches.

Hall & Oates were having “issues” in their relationship with a Rich Girl (it’s a bitch, bitch girl…).

The Rolling Stones were in couples therapy as well trying to fix love but it was a bitch alright.

Elton John told us flat out the bitch is back. Yes indeed, the prophecy foretold came true: “the fever’s gonna catch you when the bitch gets back.”

It even became cool to call oneself a bitch. Yes SIRee, Elton admitted his bitchdom long before Meredith Brooks.

 

However, just like Yoda revealed there was another Skywalker, the bitch saga didn’t end here. Lo and behold she procreated—gestated and nurtured a baby riff which grew into this beautiful top shelf Slut Rock gem from Scotland’s Nazareth.

 

The song was unassumingly disguised from censors and parents suffering from generalized anxiety with the “fluffy” title, “Hair Of The Dog.” Nonetheless, we were thus aptly forewarned:

Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch.

 

Nazareth formed back in 1968 in Scotland as a hard rock band. The group’s original lineup consisted of S.O.B. vocalist and Talk Box maestro Dan McCafferty, Manny Charlton on guitar, Pete Agnew on bass, and Darrell Sweet on drums and cowbell.

 

Nazareth was named after Nazareth, PA not the Bible zip code Jesus’ old hood was located in. They named themselves after the Pennsylvania borough as they were influenced by The Band’s song “The Weight” which mentions “Pulled in to Nazareth…” in its opening verse.

 

Nazareth, PA is just northeast of Allentown, which Billy Joel sang about, and Nazareth is also home to the C.F. Martin & Company guitar factory. Aside from that, driving through rural Pennsylvania one would see lots of farmland and multitudes of cows roaming the pastures. Just avoid driving through in say July as ripe manure and summer heat do not go together like peanut butter and jelly.

 

Trust me. I was on the road with a band and we endured a torturous half hour dutch oven of that fermented cowpie cocktail on Interstate 80—windows fully rolled up and AC on full blast could not save us from this unfortuitously fecal fate.

 

The good news is, I doubt too many people get pulled over by Police in those areas. It’s probably the closet thing America has to an Autobahn save maybe some interstates in Texas where the speed limit is 80 mph, almost legal for Marty and Doc to go back to the 70’s and get down at Studio 54.




Nazareth toured with Deep Purple after their sophomore album Exercises was released (1972). Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover produced their 3rd album Razamanaz in 1973 and continued producing their next two albums Loud ‘N’ Proud (1973) and Rampant (1974).

 

Hair Of The Dog came out in 1975 and was Nazareth’s 6th and most successful album of their career. Two songs released from the album charted: The self titled track “Hair Of The Dog” served up with cowbell and a cover of The Everly Brothers song “Love Hurts” which became their biggest hit.

 

“Love Hurts” went platinum and was a top ten hit in 9 countries reaching the #1 spot in 6. Obviously “Love Hurts” if one is messing with a son of a bitch.

 

“Hair Of The Dog” is one of those songs where the song title is never actually sung or mentioned in the song. It is known better as “Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch.”

 

Back in high school, I used to play classic rock stations sometimes while I was working out and always dug when this tune came on. I also didn’t know the song was called “Hair Of The Dog” until later.

 

The album and title track were originally going to be titled “Heir Of The Dog”, a play on words for “son of a bitch.” The record company didn’t like it for whatever reason and it was changed to the spelling “Hair Of The Dog.” So the song’s title is not a reference to the slang idiom “The hair of the dog that bit you” which seems the folk “homeopathic” cure for a hangover—to drink more alcohol to alleviate it.

 

This 70’s classic rock tune is the kissing cousin to The Beatles “Paperback Writer.” If you know how to play both songs or have a listener’s ear not prone to ADD, you’ll notice the main riff is similar in both:

 

“Hair Of The Dog” is more laid back and leisurely while “Paperback Writer” has a faster tempo. The first part of the riff is essentially the same notes while the ending differs:

 

“Hair Of The Dog” is super fun to play and sing—although when I do, I have to plan on not doing much talking for the next few days. It’s a party song, tongue and cheek, sung balls out but maintains a fun playful vibe and doesn’t come off as angry or malicious.  And it has cowbell to boot!!

 

The Hair Metal vocal stylings on “Hair Of The Dog” were a stray puppy back in the 70’s and that spandex & aqua net Lassie came home to the Hair Metal 80’s. Hair Metal may have started with “Hair Of The Dog” , and Hair Metal itself may indeed be the son of that bitch.

 

Musical geneology wise, I consider “Hair Of The Dog” a proto Hair Metal song. It was early Hair Metal before it’s time and before there was even a genre label for it. You can hear the Dan McCafferty Nazareth stamp a decade later on hair metal bands like the following to name a few:

Cinderella (“Nobody’s Fool”, “Gypsy Road”, “The Last Mile”),

Britny Fox (“Long Way To love”, “Girlschool”)

Kix (“Don’t Close Your eyes”, “Cold Blood”)

 

Britny Fox even did a cover of “Hair Of The Dog.” The Hair Metal vocal stylings on “Hair Of The Dog” were a stray puppy back in the 70’s and that spandex & aqua net Lassie came home to the Hair Metal 80’s. Hair Metal may have started with “Hair Of The Dog”, and Hair Metal itself may indeed be the son of that bitch.




“Hair Of The Dog” is such a cool tune Guns N’ Roses also did a version of it on their 1993 cover tunes album The Spaghetti Incident? Axl actually wanted Nazareth to play at his wedding but for some reason, they turned down the request. Sometimes life is a son of bitch even for rock stars.

 

But let’s not let that stop us from playing…(Cowbell and drumroll)

The 6 Degrees of Axl Rose!!

Kevin Bacon won’t mind nor call his lawyer so here goes:

 

Nazareth was a hard rock band from Scotland. Axl Rose often wears a kilt, the paragon of Scottish men’s fashion.

“Hair Of The Dog” has cowbell; Gun’s N’ Roses “Nightrain” has cowbell.

“Hair Of The Dog” has the word “bitch” in it; Guns N’ Roses “It’s So Easy” has the word “bitch” in it as well.

Nazareth was where Jesus lived and he was crucified on a cross. Axl and the members of Guns N’ Roses were also positioned on a cross on the Appetite For Destruction debut album cover.

Nazareth scored their biggest success with “Love Hurts” first recorded by The Everly Brothers. Axl Rose dated the daughter of one of The Everly Brothers (Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly). The lyrics of Guns N’ Roses biggest hit, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” are about Erin who also stars in the music video.

Both Nazareth and Guns N’ Roses had their biggest success connected to The Everly Brothers.

 

Pretty freaky actually Eh? All this from a Scottish band who named themselves after some random place in Pennsylvania. By the way, the slot is still open for band to name themselves “Winslow” after Winslow, Arizona mentioned in The Eagles song “Take It Easy.”

 

I’ve been to Winslow, and on the famed Route 66 going through downtown, there’s actually a “Standing On The Corner Park” with a red flatbed Ford truck parked by the curb and a mural on the adjoining building facade with an eagle perched atop.

 

Perhaps Nazareth, PA could up it’s tourist magnetism quotient by having an “Fanny” to take a load off, public benches with seated Fanny statues for selfies, or better yet, install “Entering Nazareth Pennsylvania—Sons of Bitches Welcome” signs on all major throughways entering the town.

 

On a side note, if this is the same “Fanny” Freddie Mercury sang about in “Fat Bottomed Girls”, she REALLY gets around, having showed up in two different rock songs on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

In the meantime, wake up and smell the cowbell not the cowpie like I was forced to in rural Pennsylvania.

 

“Hair Of The Dog” is good ‘ol slutty 70’s rock at it’s finest. It’s another Rock ‘n’ Roll parlay into taking the law into your own hands like Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

 

Nazareth cut the ties, disregarded leash laws, and marked it’s territory on a few pop charts around the world with this cowbell classic.

 

And now we know who let the Hair Metal dogs out and who ate the homework of the Paperback Writer.

© Composer Yoga


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Primal Scream Therapy: Deep Purple “Woman From Tokyo”

This series highlights those masters of intestinal intensity and the tracks they do it on: The lion roars in rock, metal, and other genres of music; The bonecrushing Banshee screams, throat thunder, diaphragm hammers, and sonic salvos from the lungs of Zeus. We’re not down with PYT here…we’re down with PST, so let’s get on that ferocious Freudian couch and show me a Roar Face!!

 

Today’s appointment is with Dr. Ian Gillan, vocalist of Deep Purple and Jesus Christ Superstar alum, and his prescription is a certain unidentified “Woman From Tokyo.” This therapy was first originated and practiced in 1973 on the album Who Do We Think We Are. As a testament to it’s potency and efficacy, this therapy made Deep Purple the top selling musical act in the United States that year. Clients were lining up to buy the new Woman From Tokyo (WFT) prescription therapy like it was a midnight HDTV sale at Walmart or the latest weight loss supplement the Dr. Oz zombies were told about the previous day’s episode.

 

Years before David Bowie had a China Girl, Ian Gillian had a Woman From Tokyo and long before he was Knocking At Your Back Door, Ian was knocking at your eardrum. If memory lane isn’t all that foggy, I think I first heard “Woman From Tokyo” being played by my father’s brother one day when we went to visit him. Either that or while I hanging out at an older neighbor’s house and it’s a safe bet to guess it wasn’t Mister Rogers. I am clear however, that the first time I heard a woman from Tokyo was in a Godzilla movie.

 

“Woman From Tokyo” fascinated me with its arrangement, mixtures of style and tempo changes. Deep Purple pianist/keyboardist Jon Lord became one of my early keyboard heroes as I was a classical piano student and could hear the influence in his playing. Many times after completing my John Thompson’s Modern Piano Course lesson or lessons for the week, I’d have my music teacher show me some classic rock riffs and one fine day (a Thursday evening) he showed me Ritchie Blackmore’s opening guitar riff in E major.

 

What made Jon Lord appealing to me was he played several styles often within the same song more so than his other classically trained 70’s Dr. Terwillikers and virtuoso ivory ticklers like Rick Wakeman (Yes) and Keith Emerson (The E in ELP) whom I was also into. I loved Classical Piano yet also had loads of fun ripping up Ragtime and Jazz and Jon Lord seemed a kindred spirit in stylistic exploration and fusion of new musical stews.

 

Jon Lord’s classical flourishes and textures in the cantabile middle section of the song are like listening to a mini ballet or geisha performance where you can visualize a music box dancer version or bobble head of the unnamed mystery Woman From Tokyo. There’s chiffon and chaînés turns visually as it tapers off into the ether before Mr. Blackmore’s guitar alarm clock takes us out of our momentary reverie. Ian Gillan sings delicately here in a kind of rock aria, the calm of the storm before the Woman From Tokyo tsunami hits us a bit later. There’s some vocal preludes to the money earshot earlier in the song before the big kahuna scream makes earfall.




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Where Jon Lord really earns his paycheck on Woman From Tokyo is with the euphoric celebratory pseudo southern Honky Tonk bluesy outro solo. I’ve always LOVED this part—it’s a jam that gives the song an injection of pure elation, infuses a nice “lift” as it ends like Chicago’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” which coincidentally also came out in 1973.

 

The money earshot happens around the 3:57 mark when Ian sings “I get high” and goes supersonic on the word high, then goes back to normal gritty burly muscular lead vocals. He goes from ballsy to blood–curdling in one word. When I first heard “Woman From Tokyo”, Ian Gillan’s scream made my hair stand and still does creating a psychic mohawk at the specific moment:

Over 4 decades later, that Woman From Tokyo still turns heads and plenty of dog ears. Hopefully she can help Ian with some Japanese lessons and get him to pronounce Tokyo in 2 syllables instead of 3. Perhaps she can even tutor Jon Bon Jovi as he grew up mispronouncing it on “Tokyo Road” off of 7800° Fahrenheit, the appetizer album before the megahit Slippery When Wet. Jon seemed too busy on tour for Japanese lessons and erred once again on the Slippery When Wet track “Raise Your Hands.” Thankfully we all learned to say “Bonsai” correctly thanks to The Karate Kid. Maybe we should watch Godzilla movies more often as well—then again, it didn’t seem to help Blue Öyster Cult either. But sometimes, it seems Bonsai’s does matter.

© Composer Yoga


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Timeless Riffs: Cream “Badge” (Eric Clapton)

Closet Singles: Bihlman Bros. “American Son”

 

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Swiss Time Was Running Out For Deep Purple And The Pet Shop Boys

Question: What do Deep Purple and the Pet Shop Boys have in common? Give up? Outside of both being British musical groups, they both mentioned Lake Geneva lyrically in respective songs…

 

And for good reason: Geneva, Switzerland is a stunningly beautiful European city.

 

When you’re coming in for a landing in Geneva, the Jet d’Eau (water jet in Lake Geneva) can be seen high above the buildings in the city. It’s an amazingly magnificent sight to see a fountain launching water 459 feet into the air from an airplane.

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Geneva is a very clean sophisticated city offering that “walk around and explore” intimacy and old world charm and character of many European cities which I love.

 

And all this is set on the doorstep of the European Alps like a living Ricola commercial—so remember to pack that long Alphorn for a jam session at the base of the Matterhorn.

 

You can tell you’re nearing the Alps from the air when the rivers below turn a crystal clear translucent glacial blue color more magical than Elvis’ bathwater.

 

Known as the “Peace Capital” as well as a top financial center in Europe, Geneva ranks high among cities having the highest quality of life in the world—it’s also one of the world’s most expensive cities.

 

Geneva is located on the western side of Lake Geneva at it’s southernmost point. This body of water has been made famous in the realm of popular music in the following songs:

 

1. Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)
2. West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys)

 




Smoke On The Water

“Smoke On the Water” came out in 1972 off their Deep Purple’s Machine Head album which was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland. It remains Deep Purple’s most successful album to date, and also includes the tracks “Space Truckin'” (obviously requiring pricier fuel than the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin'”) and the indomitable early metal classic “Highway Star.”

 

I can attest to the pure unbridled mayhem of playing “Highway Star” in a few classic rock bands. It’s one of those tunes you save for later in the night to kick everyone’s ass before last call.

 

At all our strategic band setlist negotiations, our drummer would jokingly declare at the outset “Highway Star stays or I go.” Indeed. It’s such a fun, full out balls to the wall tune to play live. I still remember Jon Lord’s scorching Hammond B3 organ solo and break into it now and then while practicing.

 

Ritchie Blackmore’s classically influenced guitar work provides a look into a guitarist’s style before the Yngwie Malmsteen neo–classical revival and Van Halen’s two handed tapping technique became the new upgraded mainstay for the instrument—a technique embraced (sometimes bear hugged to death) by the Shredders and Hair Metal monsters of the next decade.

 

“Smoke On The Water” is one of the most identifiable riffs ever. Ritchie Blackmore created this simple anthemic rock riff that even those who are NOT guitarists can learn in 5 minutes. It’s based on perfect fourths played across two guitar strings which one can play with just one finger. It’s simplicity however does not erode it’s granite like staying power and appeal to multiple generations of musicians and fans.

 

Ian Gillan goes right for the Lake Geneva jugular in the first verse of “Smoke On The Water”:


We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

 

For those unfortunate souls who’ve never seen Beavis and Butt–Head “Dunt Dunt Dah…” this classic rock anthem, the first part of the post title here is a lyric from “Smoke On The Water” as well.

 

Montreux, where “Frank Zappa and he Mothers were at the best place around” (casino gigs paid well back then too) is located on the eastern most side of Lake Geneva. But as the story goes, unfortunately “some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground…”

 

Right in the middle of a gig too. A fan with a flare gun inside the theatre set off the fire. Fire bad. Fan stupid.

 

Zappa and the Mothers lost their equipment and the Casino de Montreux went up in flames. Hence the song title from bassist Roger Glover as members of Deep Purple saw this incident from their hotel across the lake.

 

The Casino de Montreux was where Deep Purple originally planned on recording their Machine Head album. The casino reopened a few years later and there’s a sculpture commemorating Deep Purple and “Smoke On The Water” next to the lake—it even has the notes of the riff on it to survive the Zombie Apocalypse or should those Zombies have a 2112 moment and decide to rock out.

 

The monument is also next to a statue of legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury who had a home in Montreux.

 




West End Girls

The Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe hold the distinction of being the most successful duo in UK music history (oh just over 50 million albums sold). They’re kinda like the Hall & Oates of Great Britain and at least one of them is a Maneater I hear. Coincidence?

 

“West End Girls” was a single off the Pet Shop Boys 1986 album Please. The track charted on both sides of the pond. Please also spawned several other hits for them including “Love Comes Quickly,” “Suburbia”, and “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money),” which by now that prophetic Pet Shop Boys tune has come to fruition and then some.

 

When I was in London, I made sure to wander all those sections of the city connected to famous pop songs including the West End. Maybe someday there’ll be a bus tour—a Magic Bus tour to take fans to all these places.

 

Love may come quickly but the Lake Geneva reference comes later in “West End Girls”:

In every city, in every nation
From Lake Geneva to the Finland station
(How far have you been?)

 

Anyone catch the Chevy Chase Fletch movie ad in this video? It’s around the 2:57 mark, right before Neil sings about Lake Geneva in the last verse.

 

So what have we learned from this musical meandering? In conclusion, even a blind Aristotle, or one playing Fifty Shades of Plato can see the causal connection between success in the music industry and mentioning Lake Geneva in a song.

© Composer Yoga


Related Posts To Check Out:

Primal Scream Therapy: Deep Purple “Woman From Tokyo”

Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Convincingly Sung By A Gay Man: Freddie Mercury (Queen) “Fat Bottomed Girls”

Eddie Van Halen’s Pure Gargantuan Nastiness

 

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Closet Singles: The Outfield “New York City”

 

 

 

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