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Edge Of A Broken Heart: The Runaway Bon Jovi Song

As if Slippery When Wet could have gotten any bigger. Well it COULD have.

 

When we think of 80’s mega albums, Slippery When Wet rubs elbows with Thriller, Purple Rain, Make It BigMadonnaHysteria, Can’t Slow Down, Toto IV, Sports, Born In The U.S.A., and Back In Black.

 

The Bon Jovi Holy Grail spent 8 weeks at #1 (Billboard), 38 weeks within the top 5 albums, became the best selling album in 1987, is among the 100 best selling albums (currently #48) in the United States, and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.

Richie Sambora’s white Fender Stratocaster

 

Those of us who lived through the New Jersey invasion of the airwaves from Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, remember the 4 singles from Slippery When Wet:

 

You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1)
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1)
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” (#7)

 

The above trifecta here gave Slippery When Wet the notable distinction of being the first Glam Metal/Hard Rock album to have 3 top 10 hits. The Hair Metal floodgates opened from there. It was indeed a great time to own stock in Aqua Net.

 

The power ballad, “Never Say Goodbye” was released as the 4th single but not domestically so it wasn’t able the chart on Billboard’s Hot 100.  However it did reach #28 on another chart, the Hot 100 Airplay which measures how often a song is being played on radio stations and more recently streamed online as well.

 

That was the first missed opportunity for another official Bon Jovi single off of Slippery When Wet. The demand was certainly there. The second was “Raise Your Hands”, which was on the soundtrack of the classic 1987 Mel Brooks Star Wars spoof Spaceballsstarring John Candy as Barf, Rick Moranis as Lord Dark Helmet, and a pre Independence Day Bill Pullman as Captain Lone Starr.

 

The movie literally opens up with Bon Jovi. Can anyone picture flying a Winnebago in space without rocking out to “Raise Your Hands?” I mean what the hell did Han and Chewy do on the Millennium Falcon, listen to NPR and knit sweaters? Leave it to a comedy to portray something more accurate,

 

 

But the most egregious lapse in Bon Judgement was not including the amazing track “Edge Of A Broken Heart.” For whatever reason, it missed the tour bus for Slippery When Wet and has been thumbing for a ride in Bon Jovi limbo ever since. It’s a stronger song than many that were included on the album.

 

Slippery When Wet (1986) was the 3rd studio album from Bon Jovi, sandwiched between 7800° Fahrenheit (1985) and New Jersey (1988). It was also the first album they brought in songwriter Desmond Child who co-wrote the album’s 2 biggest tracks “You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1)
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1) with Jon and Richie as well as a few others. “Edge Of A Broken Heart” should have been on that list and on the charts.

 

For the longtime Bon Jovi fan or people who just know their songs from the radio, in either case the reaction is the same: WTF?! Why wasn’t this track [“Edge Of A Broken Heart”] released as a single?

 

Slippery When Wet (1986) had 10 songs on it of which 4 were released as singles. For comparison, other albums in this pre-CD era released more songs as singles from their respective albums as shown below:

 

Thriller (Michael Jackson, 1982) 9 tracks 7 singles all becoming top 10 hits, 8 Grammys, best selling album of all time
Can’t Slow Down (Lionel Ritchie, 1983) 8 tracks 5 singles.
Lionel should have released the title track “Can’t Slow Down” as well. It could have been his 6th single.

Back In Black (AC/DC, 1980) 10 tracks 5 singles
Sports (Huey Lewis & The News, 1983) 9 tracks 5 singles
Make It Big (Wham!, 1983) 8 tracks, 4 singles
Purple Rain (Prince, 1984) 9 tracks, 5 singles

Hysteria (Def Leppard, 1987) 12 tracks, 7 singles
Toto IV (Toto, 1982) 10 tracks 4 singles
Born In The U.S.A. (Bruce Springsteen, 1984) 12 tracks, 7 singles all becoming top 10 hits
Madonna (Madonna, 1983) 8 tracks 5 singles
Like A Virgin (Madonna, 1984/85) The 1985 reissue included “Into The Groove”, a track from the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan making the album 10 tracks with 6 singles

 




 

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” is chock full of classic Bon Jovi ingredients in their proprietary Jersey Shore stew: David Bryan’s keyboards, Sambora’s crisp crunchy power guitar parts, Jon singing a few long notes during the verses (the words “I’m” and “Now” in both verses of the song) teasing us for the bigger payoff we know he’ll deliver come chorus time.

 

The same kind of vocal hook was used in the verses of “You Give Love A Bad Name”:

Oh, oh, you’re a loaded gun
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run

 

This singing device is so Bon Jovi and we drink it up like like bacon flavored Kool-Aid, ready to become drooling rock zombies wearing overpriced tour T-shirts. The nutrition label on this track indeed gives us more than a full days RDA of RAWK—and you’ll still find yourself wanting second helpings of this lost hit.

 

There’s also the “Bon Jovi build” which starts up the song with Tico Torres drums, Sambora’s guitar riff and Bryan’s keyboard work until the band enters in for a full tidal wave of fun smiley 80’s rock before it recedes and gets calm again to let Jon sing about the latest fictionalized Femme fatale that crossed paths with a peaceful tour bus just trying to spread the Gospel of Rock & Roll. The lyrics even mention “Private Dancer” another classic 80’s hit/album from Tina Turner.

 

Then there’s the deluxe call and response vocal parts during the chorus between Jon and the band’s backing vocals giving us a double shot of satisfying volleyball of energy for the ears:

 

Bon Jovi Tickets

 

 

Rock chemists the world over have devised strategic formulas over the years and “Edge Of A Broken Heart” uses a tried and true mixture: The Root, Four, Five chord progression (AKA I IV V)—A classic example  being “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen.

 

Another well known chord progression is Root, Five, Four (I V VI) like Baba O’ Riley by The Who better known by as “Teenage Wasteland.”

Chords in Baba O’ Riley:  F  C  Bb  (1 5 4  or I V IV)

Chords in Edge Of A Broken Heart:  E  B  A     E  B  B  C#  A  (1 5 4   1 5 5 6 4  or  I V VI    I V V VI IV)

 

You can see and hear the first part of the chord progression is the same as Baba O’ Riley but just one note lower.

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” is also in the key of E Major like a few other classic rock tunes:

“Limelight” by Rush

“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey

 

So Slippery When Wet COULD have had a total of 6 singles released by our count here.




Savvy Glam/Hair Metal fans will know the band Vixen also had a song in 1988 of the same name off their debut album Vixen which peaked at #26 .  This “Edge Of A Broken Heart” was actually written by two other 80’s vocalists/songwriters: Richard Marx and Fee Waybill of The Tubes. Richard Marx actually co–produced the album.

 

As you can see, the #MeToo movement back in the 80’s involved sharing each other’s hair care products as well as song titles:

 

 

But you can’t copyright a title. And Bon Jovi also has song called “Runaway” which Del Shannon had a hit with back in 1961. “Runaway” is one of the “Carpal Tunnel Classics” where there’s Eternal triplet notes for keyboard players like Toto’s “Hold The Line” where a bucket of warm epsom salt is a welcome spa treatment after a gig for your wrist.

 

A fun trivia tidbit here is Steve Vai is married to former Vixen bassist Pia Maiocco (playing the red guitar in the above video). They met at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Richard Marx makes a cameo as well at the 2:41 mark.

 

The Bon Jovi “Edge Of A Broken Heart” was included on the 1987 film Disorderlies starring The Fat Boys who are best known for the single “Wipe Out” (1987) with The Beach Boys doing back up vocals. It was a rap using The Surfaris 1963 hit instrumental of the same name.

 

And speaking of films, there’s an interesting connection with drummer Tico Torres. He was also a studio player for fellow New Jersey band Franke and the Knockouts who are best known for their 1981 hit “Sweetheart” which reached #10.

 

Namesake and lead singer Franke Previte also went on to have a few of his tunes appear in movies like his Bon Jovi brother. Previte is co–writer (along with John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz) of “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” which were the anchor tunes on the classic 80’s film Dirty Dancing (1987) with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

 

The original versions were recorded by Franke and the Knockouts but went onto greater acclaim as covers by Eric Carmen (#4 in 1987) and Bill Medley (of The Righteous Brothers) & Jennifer Warnes (#1 in 1987) respectively. The later won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and a Grammy.

 

Looking back, 1986 and 1987 were great years for both New Jersey bands. And here we are some 30 years later coming full circle from when Bon Jovi seemingly took over the world on a steel horse. The funny irony of Slippery When Wet was that it had massive international success with one of the cheapest album covers EVER. Just a step up from Metallica’s The Black Album, where Jon write “Slippery When Wet” on a wet trash bag.

 

So with that, we extend an esteemed “Shock to the Hearty” congratulations to Bon Jovi for making it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class of 2018. A photographer I know worked on the New Jersey tour and had nothing but positive things to say about them. It’s always a bonus when people who aren’t a bunch of arrogant egomanics get a deserved honor. Jon is an authentic humanitarian who has his own charity feeding homeless/low income people as well as homeless veterans:

JBJ Soul Kitchen (www.jbjsoulkitchen.org)

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (www.jonbonjovisoulfoundation.org)

 

Oh and Jon has stated this lost Bon Jovi tune should have been included on Slippery When Wet and actually apologized believe it or not. So they’ll have to answer for the “Edge Of A Broken Heart” transgression on Bon Judgement Day, but in the meantime, we can forgive them because we’ve found their missing runaway.

© Composer Yoga


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Hair Metal Heaven: Cinderella “If You Don’t Like It”




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Ah, one of my favorite deep cuts of Hair Metal. This is Hair Metal having a bad hair day. This is Hair Metal Sweeney Todd would rock out to while practicing his horrific handiwork. If you've only heard Tom Keifer wail away on Cinderella singles released to radio, you'll be pleasantly pleased with this ear shattering escapade in E mixolydian. "If You Don't Like It" delivers bluesy banshee riffs with Tom's trademark sonic screams galloping on an uptempo iron horse.

 

"If You Don't Like It" is a track off Cinderella's sophomore album Long Cold Winter released in 1988. Long Cold Winter reached #10 on the charts and went double platinum by year's end. The album produced the Hair Metal classic "Gypsy Road" and the power ballad "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" which holds as the highest charting single for Cinderella reaching the #12 slot. Long Cold Winter also included the singles "The Last Mile" and "Coming Home" which just edged in the top 20. "If You Don't Like It" is a fun FU song in the tradition of The Eagle's "Already Gone", Billy Joel's "My Life", and Metallica's "Escape." Tom Keifer carried this grand gospel of youthful declaration of independence to Hair Metal.

 

I don't need anyone
To tell me how to run my life
Got along alright so far
I don't really think I need to hear your advice
I've got my mind made up know what I wanna do
I'll do it anyway I choose
So just sit back shut up for a minute let me show you what I'm gonna do

 

Funny how a band name like Cinderella began in a location not exactly red carpet velvet rope glass slipper territory. Guitarist Tom Keifer and bassist Eric Brittingham met in a bar bathroom on Halloween in 1980. There's an "I Just Knew" tale that could stack up to the best of those relationship and wedding story TV shows. Actually Keifer and Brittingham had also revolved through the same Philadelphia area band Saints In Hell earlier.

 

We can't talk about Cinderella without mentioning fellow brotherly love band Britny Fox. Britney Fox was formed by 2 former Cinderella members: Guitarist Michael Kelly Smith and drummer Tony Destra. It's a Hair Metal fairy tale of the birth of 2 bands like Metallica and Megadeth minus the some kind of soap opera monster of drug abuse that always upstages people's lives.

 

Just over 2 hours outside Philly in Mechanicsburg, yet another 80's Hair Metal band was cutting their chops on nightclub stages before relocating to L.A.: Poison. Across the state line just south of the PA border in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland, Kix was blowing fuses in the club circuit. This general area was at the crosshairs of the east coast Hair Metal invasion. A decade earlier, the Philly area sprouted some Hall & Oates, who became one of the most successful duos of all time. Afterwards acts out of the Philly area that achieved prominence were R&B/Soul/New Jack Swing group Boyz II Men and Trance Fusion/Jam band the Disco Biscuits.

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There's several vocalists in the Hair Metal Howler club I get my regular guilty pleasure fix along with Tom Keifer: "Dizzy" Dean Davidson of Britny Fox and Steve Whiteman from Kix. They continue the vocal styling of 70's rock bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Nazareth which Tom Keifer could easily go back and time and fill in on a gig for Dan McCafferty singing "Hair Of The Dog" and only Dan's mom would probably notice.

 

"Nobody's Fool" firmly established Cinderella in the subgenre of pissed off maverick glam as their flagship song from their debut album Night Songs which reached the #13 position. The noble tradition continued on Long Cold Winter with "If You Don't Like It":

 

Take it to your heart gonna tell ya from the start
Gonna send a word or two your way
So just sit back take a ride on your pony
It'll all come back to you one day

 

There's so many cool parts to this tune: The strummed chords in the intro and overlaying spacious atmospheric whammy bar work, the main riff which becomes the bedrock for the chorus, the pulsating driving rhythm in verse like a steaming locomotive loaded with boxcars of boiling beratement, the slinky blues based snub your nose dalliance of the prechorus. There's even a Jon Bon Jovi sighting at the end of this clip if that's not enough:

As to Cinderella, the band had more in common with her maid rags as the preferred "Royal Ball" stage fashion during the 1980's than fairy tale footwear. Tom Keifer prefers wearing snakeskin boots when strolling down Gypsy Roads anyway, and if you don't like it, he's gone on record here on the probability of a care package arriving during a Long Cold Winter in Hell.

© Composer Yoga

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Going Solo: Iron Maiden “Caught Somewhere In Time”




I discovered Iron Maiden totally by accident. Up until that time I was listening to bands like Van Halen and Def Leppard and that was as "heavy" as I was getting as a preteen. No heavy petting or heavy metal quite yet. I was still usurping my older brother's music collection and whatever I could forage on local rock stations. Pyromania and 1984 were played to death in our bedroom. I remember Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry and Quiet Riot's Condition Critical vibrating the stereo speakers often and somehow our parents were "able to take it"---that being when Dee Snider aurally materialized as an uninvited house guest. Perhaps the fact that our bedroom was on the opposite side of the house as theirs had something to do with it. When we moved to a bigger house after I entered 7th grade, I began working out in the basement and had just a bare stereo on our second freezer along with my workout albums. Old school Rocky Balboa approved. Okay, it did look nicer than Clubber Lang's apartment. But I was having a hankering for heavier stuff to get the Eye Of The Tiger amidst the sound of Leppards.

 

Back then, Judas Priest was the only "really" Metal band that actually got airplay on the Classic Rock radio stations I listened to where I grew up. It seemed if you had two guitarists, it was "too heavy" for a standard Classic Rock station. It's as if there was an "Elevator Weight Capacity" for bands not to exceed a set number of pounds---4 band members: okay, 5 band members: Holy Crap, it's Metal! Of course there were exceptions. Bands that had 5 members (and 2 guitarists) and passed through the Rock Radio Checkpoint Charlie were The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bon Jovi, and .38 Special, all of which were never considered Metal. The subject matter of a band's songs was a deciding factor in if they were considered Metal or not. Because if you're Metal, you don't write whiny ass songs about relationships. At least that's the way it used to be before Hair Spray and Metal met in a Paul Mitchell salon somewhere west of the San Andreas Fault in southern California. I see a children's book in the making right there.

 

Back to my Maiden voyage. For someone who didn't have a learner's permit yet, I was at the mercy of other people who knew how to drive. And with that, used to go to backyard parties with my older brother and his friends or some of my older friends. It was at one of these backyard evening parties standing around a fire where the serendipity of discovering Iron Maiden happened. I wish I could say Eddie appeared and we roasted marshmallows by the fire from his long scrawny fingers, but this was more towards the Pabst Blue Ribbon spectrum of soirees than Burning Man peyote fest.

 

Somehow several adult beverages landed in my hand and my new friend buzz and I were digging all the rock tunes playing on the stereo blasting raccoons back to the nosebleed seats at the edge of the woods. I remember hearing the words "Deja Vu" on one of the songs. That was all my brain cells bathed in Bud or some other cheap beer could recollect the next day anyway. And with the finest Sh*tfaced Sherlock Holmes determination for solving "The Case Of The Mystery Song" in someone's back yard I didn't know and cannot remember, I set out asking "Hey, who sings a song called 'Deja Vu.?'" I got a lead on this band called Iron Maiden. I then set out to canvas some stores and look for what album the song was on. With the sobriety of Sergeant Joe Friday, a few Iron Maiden albums later (or so I thought), I found it---Somewhere In Time had a track listing of "Deja Vu." It also had amazing Science Fiction cover art (inspired by Blade Runner from the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) and since I was a huge fan of Star Wars growing up, that sealed the deal. I took Somewhere In Time to the register and with that, owned my first Iron Maiden album. And to this day it's still my favorite.

 

The opening track "Caught Somewhere In Time" just blew me away---Bruce Dickinson's vocals were crazy good, like one of his parents had sex with an amplifier good. I kept having "Holy Crap" moments---this was the first Metal album I actually owned and knew I was hooked for life. I was so blown away by all the songs I'd heard before "Deja Vu" (the second to last track) that I didn't even care it WASN'T the song my drunken ears heard at that party mentioned earlier. Turns out, I found out later the lyrics were actually "Danger---" and it was the the song "Danger" by Motley Crue off Shout At The Devil. The sustain and vocal effects when Vince Neil sings the word "Danger" sounded like "Danger....ooooh" which my slurried braincells misheard as "Deja Vu":

 

Danger
You're in danger
When the boys are around Danger
You're in danger
And this is my town
This is Hollywood

"Caught Somewhere In Time" for me was one of those solos that makes you want to become a guitarist. It shows how much fun you can have on a guitar, how freely you can launch energies from your fingertips and dance across the fretboard like a Whirling Dervish. I was just starting to play guitar and "Caught Somewhere In Time" blew my (back then) short hair back like the famous Maxell "Blown Away Guy" ad of the dude sitting in an easy chair listening to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" which conveniently blows a glass of wine to him:

The "Blown Away Guy" moment I had was hearing solo #2 by Adrian Smith which begins at the 4:05 mark continuing to the 4:50 mark:

The solo ends with a recapitulation of the opening fast tempo riff heard first at the :53 mark. Iron Maiden switches keys often in songs and the solo baton passing between the two guitarists is no exception.
Dave Murray leads off with his slippery bluesy frolic in B flat then Adrian Smith punches it into orbit with this masculine metallic montage in G. The driving ascending staccato triplets across the neck and legato two handed tapping are the solos highpoints for me. You can almost hear the Silverback gorilla.

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At times I reflect how long I've come since buying that album and listening to it in my bedroom as a teenager. If someone were to have told that teenage me that I would someday see all the places I would, I probably would have thought they were talking about someone else. Like "Wasted Years", I saw those cities go by in the night, went from coast to coast of the United States, flown over a few of those "seven seas." On whatever journey, I was always packing Metal, packing Somewhere In Time to listen to. Towards the end of the final track on Somewhere In Time, "Alexander The Great," there's the verse lyric:

 

The battle weary marching side by side
Alexander's army line by line
They wouldn't follow him to India
Tired of the combat, pain and the glory

 

As if the Somewhere In Time album were a personal prophecy or subliminal travel itinerary, I even visited India and got my Indiana Jones on. Years before going to to other side of the planet (which is brutal jetlag), I had tickets for John Williams Night at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Lenox Massachusetts. It's been a Tanglewood tradition where Williams guest conducts a program of his greatest hits: Jaws, E.T., Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc. At one point, Chewbacca and Darth Vader got on stage with Maestro Williams, but unfortunately you cannot conduct an orchestra with a Light Sabre. It was called the Electric Light Orchestra not the Electric Light Sabre Orchestra there Darth.

 

So there I was, visiting ancient temples all over southern India in the state of Tamil Nadu, which actually sounds like a planet in a Star Wars movie. I was even in a tiger preserve in the mountains and walked out a Survivor. And as for "Jedis", Tamil Nadu is famous for producing more Saints and Realized Masters (Advanced Yogis) than any other location on Earth. On the other hand, Gary Indiana is famous for producing more serial killers (which happens to be a Maiden song and earlier album) than any other location and also The Jacksons for some Thrilling reason. In India, my eyes met the sacred Mt. Arunachala (pictured on the package of some Organic India products), the mountain where Carl Jung spent over a month traveling on steamships just to see in his lifetime. Jung pioneered the concept of Synchronicity which was the title and inspiration for the incredible final album by The Police, which has the tracks "Synchronicity I" and "Synchronicity II" (the tune where Sting is yelling in the intro).

 

So sometimes mishearing lyrics can be a good thing. People mishear lyrics sober so accidentally discovering Iron Maiden was either some jolly good luck or Divine intervention of the Metal Gods. These days the Pope drinks more than I do (My Metal collection is WAY better than the Pope's though). But "Caught Somewhere In Time" is still one of my favorite Metal solos of all time---it's even among my favorite solos of all time. I've since listened to this album on 4 continents, numerous times at 30,000+ feet, watching mountains, plains, oceans and coastlines below me; In and through several countries, dozens of states, countless miles of Interstates, slicing across the country in the night; and also countless nights peacefully lying down in bed falling asleep to it. Somewhere In Time is like a companion I've taken with me in life on the leash of my iPod.

 

Some people don't "mellow with age" as far as their musical palette and tastes go. We just expand in both directions of harder and softer to integrate more of the whole. I still love Metal and know I could listen to it in my 80's, 90's and past 100. I'll never outgrow it and will definitely look better than Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie, who at some point I'm betting will look better than Keith Richards (heroin will steal your youth, health and possibly your life folks---it's taken too many musicians far too early). I just know wherever in time I'll be, I'll want Metal beside me within earshot. I've come to realize I exist "Somewhere In Time" and with music, I'll always have a portable home. And YO ADRIAN!!!

© Composer Yoga

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Art is like the Mafia: You're in it for life.

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Input expansive unique life experiences and at some later point it gets translated into music.

Music is a form of meditation, music is a higher freedom, music is a weapon of transformation.

I play music because it reminds me of home. And home isn't on this planet or in this body or in this Universe.

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R&B Hive: Brothers Johnson “I’ll Be Good To You”

Being a video professional, I’ve been to more weddings than 99.9% of the population. I’ve worked on weddings in several states and of various ethnic and religious ceremonies; Church weddings, beach weddings, country club weddings, backyard & banquet hall weddings, lake weddings—even at an aquarium and on a yacht.

 

I’ve heard the songs (Barry Manilow writes them if I recall) numerous DJs play at these as well as the collective “Borg Booty Mix” of current Wedding Top 40 and Wedding’s Greatest Hits. Maybe Rhino Records will walk down that aisle in the future.

 

One wedding I had to reposition my camera during the ceremony then felt something dripping on me—my vest had to be dry cleaned afterwards as the back of it was covered with caked on candle wax. Candles were melting from the crossbeams of the historic rustic barn and I looked like I just arrived from a Dominatrix appointment for the rest of the evening.

 

“I’ll Be Good To You” is more than worthy of a couple’s first dance. It’s a tune deserving inclusion into matrimonial mixes and wedding video montages. It’s the kind of music that’s injection mold for memories.

 

Yet I’ve never heard this amazing song played at a wedding and think it’s a tragedy. “I’ll Be Good To You” is more than worthy of a couple’s first dance. It’s a tune deserving inclusion into matrimonial mixes and wedding video montages. It’s the kind of music that’s injection mold for memories.

 

“I’ll Be Good To You” is a track off the Brothers Johnson 1976 debut album Look Out For #1. The song reached #1 on the R&B charts and peaked at #3 on the singles charts. In 1989 “I’ll Be Good To You” reached #1 again on the R&B charts this time covered by Ray Charles along with Chaka Khan.

 

In both cases Quincy Jones (the other Q after James Bond’s) was at the “singles event.” He was producer to the Brothers Johnson for the original version and the Ray Charles & Chaka Khan cover was a track off his Back On The Block album. “I’ll Be Good To You” was also covered by Vanessa Williams with James “D–Train” Williams (no relation to her) on Vanessa’s 2005 album Everlasting Love.




George and Louis, The Brothers Johnson grew up in Los Angeles, played in area bands, backed The Supremes, became session musicians and Jedi Apprentices of Quincy Jones before going solo.

 

The biggest singles of their career were “Strawberry Letter 23” (originally recorded by Shuggie Otis), “I’ll Be Good to You”, and “Stomp!” which came out years before the theatrical show of the same name. The track “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” on Look Out For #1 was written with Quincy Jones and also released as a single reaching #30 on the Billboard charts.

 

Another track on their debut album, “Thunder Thumbs And Lightnin’ Licks” contains the nicknames of the Brothers Johnson. Codenames far less encrypted than “Mac Daddy” and “Daddy Mac” because they were actually in a band not the CIA like Kris Kross. Actually as far as my Intel is concerned, Steve Jobs was the Mac Daddy (well really Steve Wozniak & Jeff Raskin but it works better as a joke).

 

Guitarist George Johnson “coulda been a contender” in the Keith Jarrett look alike contest but his codename here is “Lightnin’ Licks” while his bass slapping brother Louis Johnson is “Thunder Thumbs.” From the sound of it, thumb wrestling a guy like Louis would’ve been a bad idea.

 

While not as well known as other legendary Funk/R&B bassists like Larry GrahamBootsy Collins, & Bernard Edwards, EVERYBODY knows Louis Johnson’s playing…

 

While not as well known as other legendary Funk/R&B bassists like Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins, & Bernard Edwards, EVERYBODY knows Louis Johnson’s playing…

 

There’s just a little tune called “Billie Jean” that he was the session player for. Okay, so now his Badass Musician Index (BMI) just went through the roof. Actually Louis played on 3 Michael Jackson albums: Off the Wall, Thriller, and Dangerous.

 

Other tracks Louis Johnson was session bassist on:

“Off The Wall” —Michael Jackson
“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) “—Michael McDonald
(Warren G’s 1994 hit “Regulate” featuring Nate Dogg samples “I Keep Forgettin'”)

“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” —Michael Jackson
“Give Me the Night” —George Benson
“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” —Michael Jackson




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Larry Graham of Sly And The Family Stone and Louis Johnson were pioneers of slap bass playing, with Larry considered the first to bring the style into prominence. Louis showcases his technique on their 1980 hit “Stomp!” (off the album Light Up The Night) which features a bass solo breakdown you’d think he pulled out the Popeye forearms for.

 

If you’re a liner notes junkie, you’ve seen Louis Johnson listed numerous times as he’s recorded or performed with over 60 artists including Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Phil Collins, Stevie Nicks, Kenny Loggins, John Mellencamp & Sister Sledge among others.

 

“I’ll Be Good To You” is an all star feel good party song like Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” just waiting to pollinate a positive vibe for all occasions. It can pack a dance floor and has a supremely infectious sing along chorus that mixes well with the leisurely waving of hands in the air in the simple act of celebrating life.

 

George Johnson’s vocals ooze sincerity, his inflections unwrapping layers of affectation. I’m usually good at deciphering lyrics but at first I thought George was singing “Stella” instead of “Said–A” in the first verse. Even though not the case, he demonstrated he can say “Stella” much more pleasantly than Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and that’s important.

 

In “I’ll Be Good To You”, the clean tone rhythm guitar chords are contrasted with some medium roast distortion on the lead line like the Commodore’s single “Easy.” This gives the lead guitar a soft fuzziness that takes on a dreamy synthesizer quality.

 

“I’ll Be Good To You” truly earns it’s wings with it’s chorus of female backing vocalists. At this point in the song, the sky opens up and listeners get a Soul Shower of Ambrosia

 

“I’ll Be Good To You” truly earns it’s wings with it’s chorus of female backing vocalists. At this point in the song, the sky opens up and listeners get a Soul Shower of Ambrosia:

The Charles/Khan cover is a more uptempo 80’s synth pop version. It gave Ray Charles his first #1 R&B single in over two decades:

What a jam! It’s a top shelf Jam Anthem like Chic’s “Good Times”, a liquid honeymoon groove. The groove in The Brothers Johnson tune “I’ll Be Good To You” is so laid back, it’s a recliner with a chilled beverage buoying a miniature yellow umbrella.

 

This is music silk listens to when it needs to feel comforted. This is what it sounds like when butter melts slowly on imported china next to a bottle of Champagne on the French Riviera.

 

That being said, I’ll be the first to admit love songs are an already overcrowded and overdone subject matter. Songs get recycled from previous regurgitations. Compared to Punk and Metal where there aren’t rations in the topic department, love songs are often terminally stereotypic and predictable. Silly Love Songs Sir Paul called them in the 1970’s—several decades later we’re probably at Zombie Love Songs status.

 

Pop song somnambulists sing about love and relationships like pull string dolls and the depth of their experience reflected in lyrics is watered down and wafer thin. It’s not like there’s a few decades of perspective packed into their “life virgin” verses like say Supertramp lyrics.

 

And what vast life experience can young pop stars actually bring to the table a few years after getting a driver’s license? Forget about songs about history, political and social issues they’re not even on the map yet.

 

Part of the socio–economic skid into preteen pop culture purgatory was that several decades ago, the record buying public was comprised of 30 to 40 year olds. The mainstream music consumer has gotten younger and younger with each successive generation.

 

Now the consumer base includes preteens buying music written by artists just a few years older. Here, relationships are the most common subject matter because it’s the most relatable experience to the cell phone starring young consumer tranquilized in the Twilight Zone of eternal texting. Most are still a few hundred selfies away from getting a Passport photo and experiencing the world outside a 4 inch screen.

 

Young celebrity culture also demonstrates that for all the wealth and fame they have, they make the same mistakes as the rest of the population. The breakup and divorce rate isn’t any less frequent among celebrities. Truth is, there are very few Paul Newmans and Joanne Woodwards in the entertainment industry—people who lived the song “I’ll Be Good To You”, married or not.

 

For generations breast fed on Rap & Hip Hop, it’s ear opening to hear what regal and elegance sounds like. There is life beyond angst and anger and higher vibes than the hormonal surges of youth.

 

For generations breast fed on Rap & Hip Hop, it’s ear opening to hear what regal and elegance sounds like. There is life beyond angst and anger and higher vibes than the hormonal surges of youth. There aren’t many love & relationships songs that have deeper depth and perspective behind rhymes and catchy melodies— even monotonous ones. “I’ll Be Good To You” is that museum piece that’s still more alive and vibrant that what I hear coming from the current crop having their media days in the sun.

 

“I’ll Be Good To You” comes from a time when people chose to ride a more positive vibe with the top down and more importantly from the top down. Although Louis Johnson left the planet in 2015 at age 60, his bass grooves from beyond the grave and thankfully so.

 

It bounced off the wall and broke down walls of race and gender. So why not inaugurate your life together with the Brothers Johnson? If you’re single, Why not renew your vow to “Treat Me Right” like Pat Benatar demanded because sometimes if you want something done right, you gotta to do it yourself.

 

If there’s no wedding bells in your future, just grab a pair of wedding bell bottoms from the past. In either case, You May Kiss the Vibe.

© Composer Yoga


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Closet Singles: Billy Idol “Hole In The Wall”

Consider me a card carrying member of the at large group that wishes Billy Idol released “Hole In The Wall” as a single. We meet in church basements (after White Weddings of course) periodically to discuss plans to preach this lost gospel to humanity because “Hole In The Wall” is a glamorously gritty rock gem from Billy and guitarist Steve Stevens.

 

“Hole In The Wall” is a track off Billy’s first stateside solo album called Billy Idol, released in 1982. Two singles were released from Billy Idol: “Hot In The City” got a good amount of airplay but “White Wedding (Part 1)” took the cake, pun intended.

 

“Dancing with Myself” was already released as Billy’s first single from an earlier EP in the US called Don’t Stop which also had his cover of “Mony Mony” by Tommy James & the Shondells. “Dancing With Myself” first appeared on the 3rd and last Generation X album Kiss Me Deadly (long before Lita Ford) back in England before the band broke up and Billy moved to the US. It then also reappeared on a later version of the Billy Idol debut album.

 

Since Billy was a new artist stateside, there were actually 2 different versions of the 1982 Billy Idol album cover. The one I have has the cover pictured below with Billy wearing the black leather vest. The other has him wearing a print shirt looking like he’s modeling for JC Penney or a few years early for The Karate Kid auditions as it has elements of the Japanese flag in the design.

 

I got into Billy Idol because my cousin, a ballet dancer & painter, was really into him. Not surprising since Billy’s music is high energy danceable pop punk rock and not the chaotic mosh pit dance kinda punk where the high end and midrange went as AWOL from the mix like punks went from society—it’s all low end coming out of the speakers making a thick audio mud where you can see why one would need to dance in Doc Martens.

 

While my mosh pit days are behind me (still have all my front teeth and don’t need to claim I was a boxer or a pimp), I still love punk—and Billy Idol, like The Clash is intelligent well–written Punk; The Clash being more Thinking Man’s Punk while Billy was cornering the market on Feeling Man’s Punk. It’s also Dancing Man’s Punk for anyone who can perform rudimentary choreography to a 4 count without looking like they’re being electrocuted by a hairdryer in a bathtub or having a group session of Whac–A–Mole.

 

Being a kid, I was only aware of Billy Idol songs on the radio and his music videos which my siblings and I thought was funny to imitate his triumphant raised fist and media persona like a professional wrestler. It took years later when my older cousin’s enthusiasm caught up with me and I too found myself wanting more more more.

 

Like Billy, I also grew up in a place where dwindling geriatric industry and a bread crumb modicum of a better future left the youth to develop the juvenile delinquency of your choice. So of course I got in a Hard Rock/Metal band with a friend and other members from surrounding cities and towns.

 

It’s funny that our practice space was on Baker Street years before I actually walked on that street in London, home of Sherlock Holmes and which Gerry Rafferty (formerly of Stealers Wheel known for the tune “Stuck In The Middle With You”) wrote his song about.

 

My first band never went anywhere as our singer seemed on his way to having a drinking problem before we even had a record deal and before we were even out of high school mind you. Fortunately I avoided the carnage of drugs and substance abuse. So yes, not all punk fans have addictions, use drugs recreationally, or even look like punk rock fans. I do still have a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors though.




Topically “Hole In The Wall” is a song about drug use and addiction but then again plenty of drug songs became hits. Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” isn’t talking about pills Major Tom required for his mission and the “Feed your head” lyric definitely wasn’t a PSA encouraging people to visit their public library.

 

“Hole In The Wall” refers to the time in his life when Billy and girlfriend Perri Lister lived in New York City and would buy drugs from a place in their neighborhood through a hole in the wall.

 

Aside from the street prescription inspiration and shady source material, art transmuted “Hole In The Wall” into an over the counter audio dose of Awesome:

The early Billy Idol albums were Billy with NYC guitarist Steve Stevens and producer Keith Forsey (who’s an underrated drummer). Forsey worked with producer Giorgio Moroder in Germany prior to his “American Idol” days.

 

Moroder & Forsey wrote songs for artists like Donna Summer and also wrote Flashdance with Irene Cara. From his apprenticeship with Moroder, Keith was the ideal producer for danceable punk. Forsey later went on to write “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” for the John Hughes coming of age cult film The Breakfast Club in 1985.

 

BUT it was originally written intended for Billy Idol to sing. Billy turned it down and the Scottish band Simple Minds recorded it with frontman Jim Kerr injecting some sublimely elevated affectation on vocals.

 

It’s a defining song and film of the 80’s. I always loved that song especially the outro where the drums have a brutally crisp precision to the groove. Also, one of my friends’ jazz bands got permission to do an instrumental version of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” on their CD.

 




Steve Stevens is a guitarist with all the chops and bells and whistles of a Hair Metal Maestro but he always wrote appropriate to the song and let the song determine his parts. This is a skill onto itself not often appreciated or applauded as it should be.

 

Steve Stevens playing style with Billy Idol is not bloated with virtuosity—It’s got a howling heaping of edge though like Billy’s screams and yelling, perfectly suited for the Pop Punk style the pair pioneered on the airwaves and MTV.

 

But, if you don’t believe Steve can “go there” to Virtuosoville, just listen to some of his solo instrumental recordings. Steve is one of those über versatile collaborators with genres up the wazoo under his belt. Some added feathers in his Aqua Net were he played with Michael Jackson and wrote the Top Gun anthem.

 

In fact, visually Steve Stevens was kinda the Slash before Slash—all you saw was this ubiquitous umbrella of spiked black hair, where it’s like who needs makeup if no one can tell if you’re standing forwards or backwards anyway?

 

Let’s zero in on Billy’s yelling. Yes even before he wrote a song about yelling on the follow up album Rebel Yell, there was that signature primal punk roar. What strikes me about Billy Idol’s vocals is he’s very present in the microphone like Henry Rollins (Black Flag, Rollins Band) and David Byrne (Talking Heads, solo), some of his fellow generation Punk/Pop colleagues.

 

It seems the act of recording doesn’t diminish the fervor and visceralness of their singing. For instance, the outro on the Henry Rollins track “Tearing” always blows my hair back and spins my chakras like a pinwheel.

 

I also like how Billy always sounds nicely loose in his vocal tracks and from reading his autobiography Dancing With Myself, he mentioned how Keith Forsey would always tell him to “not forget to have fun in there” when he would go into the Iso booth to lay down vocals.

 

I’m sure Billy’s drug use during that time contributed to the looseness somewhat as well when it wasn’t impairing him from standing vertically. His autobiography is a precautionary tale though, as many musicians and celebrities that did the same dance with drug abuse didn’t live to write a book.

 

More so, how much more art and creativity could they all have accomplished and contributed if they didn’t have the fallout and obligations that accompany substance abuse? Does anyone think of that as a reason to get clean or not get involved with substance abuse in the first place? I suppose if you’re ignoring self–preservation in the first place, the higher self–actualization focus of health as part of greater creativity and artistic expression goes out the window as well.

 

Thankfully Billy survived and met his ideal musical partner when he moved across the pond.

 

Steve Stevens brought the metal flavoring to the Billy Idol punk sound developed with his first songwriting partner bassist Tony James in Generation X back in England. Billy wasn’t afraid to bring in dance and new wave to punk and Steve brought the Metal tap shoes.

 

The prechorus in “Hole In The Wall” (“We we’re such an ugly pair…”) has broken (arpeggiated) chords played with guitar textures that make one think Steve Stevens had a pint with Andy Summers at some point.

 

Both The Police and U2 were using string muting on riffs and chords as part of the style of early UK Punk influenced pop. U2 particularly on their track “New Year’s Day”, and The Police most famously with “King Of Pain” both in 1983.

 

I always loved how Steve Stevens got a “Wall of Sound” out of a simple power chord like in the prechorus first heard at the 1:02 mark. Those are just 4ths and 5ths but it builds a scorching sonic trampoline to the chorus.




The syncopation on the verse riff shows Steve’s penchant for accenting on the 1 for a more danceable groove than the traditional Rock ‘n’ Roll accent on the 2 & 4. The verse riff for “Hole In The Wall” is accented on the 1 and sightly before the 3, leaving space and atmosphere for Billy to weave his sordid tale of the cycle of withdrawal.

 

The interlude narration part (“It’s a move to take you through…”) has a muted riff which reminds me of the Neil Schon riff in the Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believin'” that ends with a bend before Steve Perry comes back in with “…A singer in a smokey room…”

 

Both songs start off muting the riff then lift the mute and fret the notes increasing the volume for a segue back into the verse. The opening/chorus riff is just delightfully abrasive and another example of how Steve Stevens writes meat hooks that keep your ears hanging on.

 

With Billy, Steve and Keith we had an ideal Musical Meth Lab, cranking out not crank but Addictively Fun Fusion Punk. It was a new experiment musically to see if America would dig it after the unsuccessful first wave of punk tour by The Sex Pistols.

 

History shows they fared better as the Statue of Liberty herself has a punk rock hairdo and was already raising her hand in salute to the pop punk invasion spearheaded by a Brit and a guitarist from Brooklyn with hair as black as the leather vests Billy wore.

 

And now you know about the Hole In The Wall…and the suspected punk who punched a hole in it.

© 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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Timeless Riffs: Cream “Badge” (Eric Clapton)

Closet Singles: Bihlman Bros. “American Son”

 

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Hair Metal Joke (Hair Metal Salad)

 

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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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