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2 guys, 1 band.

 

Do you believe in fate? well I certainly do, I believe that when the stars align, and fate has its way, two people will come together and form something magical, something that can’t be produced by the mere existence of ‘coincidence’, something calculated and designed to change the world as we know it –  I’m talking, ofcourse, about  the sheer power of musicianship. If history taught us anything, its that music prodigies often come in pairs, especially in the realm of Rock n’ Roll, so here are a bunch of those icons that changed the way music was written:

(NOTE BEFORE YOU GO AHEAD: 1) I blog mostly on memory, so I may have forgotten some ‘teams’ and 2) I have eliminated some bands because their success was also majorly attributed to the other members in the band, or the success was driven by one man)

here it goes …

Tom Morello/Zac DelaRoca (Rage Against the Machine)

These guys may have not created the concept of Rap Rock, but they sure as hell gave it a meaning of its own! With their ‘viva revolution’ attitude, ‘Rage Against the Machine’ managed to sum up legions of loyal fans who believed in their message. From songs like ‘Bulls on Parade’ to ‘Guerilla Radio’, this duo shook every music scene they were a part of. Once these guys split and went their separate ways – the intensity faded with the introduction of their side projects … it just wasnt the same. DelaRoca did his own thing while Morello started Audioslave … both efforts were commendable, but nothing close to the sheer raw power they created together in ‘rage’.

Layne Staley / Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)

This is an undeniable force in music history! Not only did they write rock/metal anthems that led the Seattle scene in the early 90’s … they were the first (and probably the only) rock duo to revolutionize the way vocal harmony was used in a band. Just go back and listen to tracks like ‘Down in a hole’ or ‘Would’ and tell me you dont hear it! The AIC boys created a trademark sound that was unique enough to coin as their own – the vocal melodies became synonymous with their sound, the song arrangements were arena worthy, and the guitar solos exclusive to their explosiveness. This pair will never be forgotten.

James Hetfield/Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

Where would the music industy be today if James Hetfield never saw that ad that Lars Ulrich put in the paper? What if he never called him?  Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield’s partnership was not only crucial for their band, but for the music industry as a whole. Together, they formed the titanic Metallica and wrote 4 consecutive undisputed albums in the 80’s that reshaped the way heavy metal was looked at .. in 1991, they wrote their self titled 5th album which went on to be one of biggest selling albums of all-time. This team brought us killer songs like ‘Fade to Black’, ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘Battery’ and ‘Hit the lights’ – if you know any musician(s), chances are they know how to play atleast ONE Metallica song!  that should tell you something.

Joe Perry/Steven Tyler (Aerosmith)

We were all probably too young (or not even born) to remember this … but when Joe Perry exited Aerosmith in 1979, it really .. totally .. majorly sucked. These guys were made for each other, just listen to the superb rock tunes they’ve created together, from ‘Amazing’, to ‘Blind man’, ‘ to ‘Deuces are wild’ to ‘Love in an elevator’; rock anthems that rang across stadiums and arenas around the world, anthems that formed the foundations of modern rock as we know them!  The Perry/Tyler duo is a ‘rock n’ roll hit machine’. Steven Tyler has a ‘larger-than-life’ vocal approach that can only be complimented with a rockin’ blues man that is found in Joe Perry.

Jimmy Page/Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)

The fathers of modern Rock! Pause for one second and go back to 2007, a time that we can all relatively remember well (depending on who you ask, ofcourse) .. but just try to remember .. in 2007 .. when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant announced that they would be playing together again for a one-off Led Zeppelin show, the music world went ape-shit! an estimated 80 million people logged online to get a chance to ‘win-to-buy’ tickets … thats right, you had to actually enter a lottery to buy a ticket! that is the power of Page and Plant.  Not only are these two responsible for some of rock n roll’s best written gems, they also topped every chart and filled every stadium. Page and Plant simply redefined music, they took all the rules, put em’ in one box, and threw em’ out the window … Without Page and Plant, alot of the bands that you love today would’nt exist, that includes the aforementioned Metallica.

John Lennon/Paul McCartney (The Beatles)

I mean, need I say more? really? I think our memory of music stops at Lennon/McCartney, its like nothing existed prior to that combo. In many ways, they are regarded as the founders of modern pop rock.  They scored so many number 1 singles, they filled so many stadiums, they were the center of so many controversies and at points in their careers, they hated each other – recipe for a true Rock n’ Roll story. Simply put, this duo wrote some of the best songs the human race has ever heard, and that isnt even an exaggeration – If you put that in perspective, you’d understand why no words I write would do them any justice.

David Gilmour/Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)

The music world craves a reunion … and not a Pink Floyd reunion, but a Gilmour/Waters reunion! repsonsible for albums like ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish you were here’ and ‘Animals’ (and parts of ‘The Wall’), this duo struck the perfect balance between melody and brilliance. From the lyrical Journies supplied by Waters, to the euphoric musical melodies presented by Gilmours, the men behind Pink Floyd created a progressive-rock sub-genre that is quite simply impossible to replicate. Just think of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’,  It remained in the charts for 741 weeks, longer than any other album in history. It went on to sell 45 million copies making it Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums of all time. Yeah, we need a reunion.

Noel Gallagher/Liam Gallagher (Oasis)

‘Tonight, Im a Rock n’ Roll Star’ sang Liam – and ironically, “Rock n’ Roll stardom” is what killed this once fantastic duo. Noel, who led the charge, along with Liam had composed and performed on some of the most memorable, and commercially successful, music in British music history.  Circa 1994 – 1997, this bands stardom was comparable only to the likes of The Beatles,  Noel and Liams turbulent relationship resulted in cancelled tours, firing band members, quitting band members, tabloid frenzies .. it was a mess, but it sure resulted in some great rock tunes. Some may argue that Noel was the main force, and its true .. but you cant have Oasis, a true Oasis, without one or the other. Even though they currently hate each other, and killed Oasis, I have a good feeling that we’ll see them collaborating again sometime in the near future. Glastonbery, lots’a cha-ching perhaps?

Max Cavalera/Igor Cavalera (ex-Sepultura)

Some may scratch their head and say “wha’? .. really?” .. well, yes. really. Max and Igor, the men who started the Brazillian thrash machine ‘Sepultura’, wrote some of the meanest, grimmest, badass-est tunes in metal! But thats barely the reason why this duo made this list, These guys did something much bigger for music in South America. Sepultura’s rise to success, in many ways, opened the gates for many bands in their region to be considered and heard by major labels that would never normally consider them … The Cavalera brothers, probably unknowingly, paved the way for many South American bands to be propelled into the main music arena due to the worlds reception to their music. The boys saw the hight of their success in 1996 with the release of ‘Roots’ – but a decline in popularity was immenent when Max had exited the band, proving that this duo need each other.

Steve Harris/Bruce Dickenson (Iron Maiden)

‘Two minutes .. to miiiidnight’. I say Maiden, and that’s probably one of the first lines that pops in your heard, and who’s voice do you hear? thats right! Bruce the goose Dickenson (I just called him the goose ..wtf), anyway .. Steve Harris, the man leading this legendary outfit, dabbled with quite a few vocalists in his career .. Go back to the ‘Blaze Baley’ years of Iron Maiden, Yeah, we heard some solid tracks in that era, but think about that instant, that second, that mili-micro-second that Bruce Dickenson decided to rejoin, Maiden shot back into stadium-status!  Fact is, Harris writes great tracks, but he needs the vocal power-house that is Bruce Dickenson to take those tracks to hights that no other singer can possibly mimmick. and thats the truth!

Axl Rose/Slash (Guns n Roses)

This was an ugly split, an ugly divorce, and those kinds of divorces are hardest on the kids i.e. the fans. Axl and Slash had it made, they were/are brilliant composers and have tremendous talent; they created one of the most notorious rock bands that ever existed, and ruled the world with the surplus of hits that they wrote together. Sure, Duff and Izzy helped .. but the fact of the matter, Guns n’ Roses were all about Axl and Slash. Think of the moment you hear the opening notes of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, then think of the countless singers who tried to cover it .. but fell flat. Axl and Slash were a match made in heaven: Axl brought in the big-choruses, and Slash brought in that guitar sound that, despite being replaced by 5 different guitarists in GnR, was never ever recreated. Marriage counsling is in order … we need those two back together, for the sake of music as a whole.

John Patrucci/Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)

Two extremely, insanely, over-the-topp(ly?) inspired and talented human beings. Patrucci and Portnoy put together one of the worlds most dynamic, couragous, and mindlowing progressive rock bands that music has ever known. Too much music has been created between both these men, from concept albums like ‘Scenes of a memory’ to progressive experimintation in ‘Liquid tension experiment’ .. The names Portnoy and Patrucci became synonems to ‘drumming legend’ and ‘guitar guru’ – a force of synergy that redefined progressive metal, and took it to impossible lengths.

Dave Mustaine/Marty Friedman (Megadeth)

Imagine you had a band that had two of the worlds top guitar players. Two things were bound to happen: 1) Awesome composing and all-around shredding, and 2) a dramatic ‘clash of the titans’ .. and thats what happened in this classic Megadeth lineup (completed by Nick Menza and Dave Ellefson). This was a guitar duo that conquered the mid-90s in skill, talent and excellent musicianship – just think about those metal moments where Mustaine and Friedman would go at a guitar battle that leaves you pretty much dumbfounded. For various reasons, This relationship died in the late 90’s, and even though Megadeth goes on with Mustaine at the helm, that brief crossroads of guitar legends will always remain one of metals finest moments.

Tony Iommi/Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath)

Some may argue that the Iommi/Osbourne alliance was the definitive Sabbath, and in many ways , thats correct … But truth be told, Ronnie James Dio unlocked a sound that no other Sabbath singer did. With heavy weight titles like ‘The Mob Rules’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’ under their belt, this formation of Black Sabbath was heavy, melodic, relentless and above all, friggin’ magical. Iommi pretty much invented Heavy Metal, and Dio was that missing ingredient that made it the metal outfit it was always supposed to be. His operatic vocal approach shook the very foundations of what Heavy Metal was supposed to sound like. ‘If you listen to fooollls .. the mooobbb rulllees’ .. Oh Ronnie, RIP.

Dimebag Darrel Abbott/Vinnie Paul Abbott (Pantera)

Another ‘brotherly love’ team that took the world by storm. The Abbotts created one of the most successful heavy-metal outfits in history, ‘Pantera’. But forget the floods of anthems that they wrote, and lets concentrate on the symmetry they had as musicians … the Abbotts were hands down, an insane groove machine. ‘Dime’ had his own approach to guitar that was easily identifiable, and Vinnie was the only drummer who knew how to play along .. making those riffs come to life in a way that only a blood-brother would know. Pantera, and subsequently, DamagePlan, showed their wide array of expertise and how reliant they are/were on one-another to write timeless songs that kick-you in every area worth kicking.

Jon Bon Jovi / Ritchie Sambora (Bon Jovi)

You can’t talk music without mentioning the ’80’s hair’ movement. Of all the bands that infested that decade, I Think its safe to say that Jon Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora stuck to writing some tunes that stood the test of time. This duo came up with some of the cheesiest tunes in rock, and I use ‘cheese’ very positively here … they also wrote of straight-up awesome rockers, and sweet-sweet ballads. The Bon Jovi/Sambora duo remains one of the strongest combos to come out of that era in music, and still manage to fill arenas till this very day.

Bono / The Edge (U2)

U2 is a group effort, thats probably true and it could also be said about every band I have mentioned, But U2 aint U2 in any way or form without ‘Bono’ or ‘The Edge’. The explosive combination of sound that both individuals bring to the table is what makes this machine very successful. U2 today is probably one of the most appealing bands out there, their shows are always held in major stadiums around the world, always sold out and always headliner worthy. Bono’s global campaigning for Africa and various other issues makes him one of the music industries most renowned activists , Whereas ‘The Edge’ being coined as a ‘legend’ along side Jimmy Page and Jack White in the documentary ‘It might get loud’ puts him up there with guitar greats and does a whole-lotta-great things for his musical credibility. Two men, one band.

Even though lots of these guys had their personal issues with each other, some even went out of their way to never, ever .. ever play together again – its remains true that they created some of the greatest bands, albums and songs that crafted the world of Rock n’ Roll. Wether you were alive to witness it unfold, live to experience it today, or still in your musical exploration phase, the above teams are amongst the most talented human beings to walk/have walked Gods green (brownish in some areas) earth!

If you have any more that I may have forgot, do let a brotha’ know.

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Metallica … They sure like their controversies

This is a blog entry I wrote last year when Death Magnetic was released … I just read it again today, thought it was interesting … so, to any ‘tallica fans .. enjoy

—-

con.tro.ver.sy

–noun, plural -sies. 1. a prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention; disputation concerning a matter of opinion.

Let me say it right off the bat: Metallica is by far one of the most controversial bands in the world, no not because they write scary “satan” music, no not because they have beards and hold black guitars and no not because they have a Danish drummer – With every release over the past 25 years, Metallica have managed to stir some sort of controversy around that particular record – be it writing a commercially unfriendly album (Kill em all), introducing a ballad on the sophomore record (Ride The Lightning), introducing classical elements (Master of puppets), unplugging the bass from all amps (Justice), Writing MTV hits (Black album), abandoning their roots and resorting to hard rock (Loads), introducing an orchestra with their all time classics (S&M) and ofcourse the infamous ditching of the trademark guitar solos (St. Anger).

Despite all the shit they’ve done in the past, all the mishaps and everything they’ve done right – Metallica remain at the heart of every metal heads conversation? BUT Why do we give a shit – why do “haters” and “sheep”, as they call each other, care so much? Why is it that every Metallica record released stirs such controversy amongst metal/rock enthusiasts around the world? In the early 80’s Metallica adopted the METAL Attitude like no other band in history, they released four consecutive relentless albums that changed the face of metal as we know it: That is a fact, not an opinion. They influenced thousands of bands around the world – and although there are bands of the same scene, even on a better caliber musically – no band came close to the success Metallica had achieved. Metallica had influenced a generation of musicians, and raised generations of fans.

Because of this controversy, every Metal enthusiast (or musician) for that matter must put his/her 2 cents into any Metallica release.

I live in the UAE – DUBAI, and unlike the rest of the planet (perhaps the universe aswell) – we, in the Middle East, got our hands on Death Magnetic about a week after everybody else did. Considering we had to wait months in previous years, this is a drastic improvement. Now, I promised myself I would not give DM a spin unless I had the official copy in my hand – it IS the first Metallica release in 5 years, after all.

Having that one week of not having Death Magnetic (while the rest of the world did), I was in a unique position to read hundreds of reviews of the album before even listening to a single note. It really is quite interesting because the songs start shaping in your head before you actually get to listen to them.
Now, every reviewer has to ‘flex’ their musical knowledge prior to ANY Metallica review – for example, a reviewer would either state the bands he/she listens to ; this is to establish his/her background as a ‘true metal’ listener – in this way, if the reviewer gives it a two thumbs up; the album must be good because youre not a ‘sheep’ who liked load and reload. Whereas if the album was absolute dog shit, then you are also credible because, well, you hated load and reload – it’s a win win situation. Other reviewers establish the fact that they got Master of puppets on tape when it was released back in the mid 80’s while the rest of the world was in diapers – this is also to establish your credibility as a Metallica fan.

YOU CANNOT simply start a Metallica review based on objective musical opinion – it could work for any band – but certainly not Metallica.

After the reviewers establish their ‘street’ cred – You will instantly know the direction of the reviewers opinion with one of the following intros:

-Witty/Sarcastic comments about Metallicas musicianship/history: this will be a bad/mediocre review
-Praise beyond reason: This album will rule everything that is alive…and dead.

On to Death Magnetic – lets focus on the negative reviews first, and address those – shall we?
I read reviews that state these tracks have no flow and a lot of the riffs are ‘useless’ or ‘rehashed’ – One particular reviewer posted up a torrent link of a fan ‘edited’ version of Death Magnetic recommending people listen to that rather than the official release by Metallica –
NOW – as a person who had no prior knowledge to these tracks, I had an image of St Anger all over again. As a Metallica fan – I fucking freaked! After listening to Death Magnetic for over a week on constant rotation , I can safely say that these tracks flow perfectly fine! Who is the reviewer to say ‘this is how it should’ve sounded like’ – I’m sorry but if you’re such a fucking expert on song arrangements, or more specifically, METALLICA song arrangements – maybe you should be producing albums and writing masterpieces instead!?

The world write these reviews as if Metallica owed them something, little do these kids know, Metallica paved the way for many of their favorite bands today(be it black metal or pop rock) … Metallica wrote Kill em’ All and slept in cheap motels when these kids weren’t even born yet … so where do they get off suggesting song arrangements to the guys who wrote Master of Puppets? Get off your high-horse damn it.

That’s not where it ends though … you also have the other side of the coin, the damn sheep. I have read a lot of reviews stating that DM is the true follow-up to ‘Justice’ – are you fucking kidding me? That, ofcourse, is a tool of establishing ‘Metlli-street cred’ .. how? By denouncing the ‘black album’. Whether people like it, or not, The black album is the most important album in Metallica’s history. It is the sole album that made Metallica the band they are .. it’s the album that made Metallica the most loathed, or loved band on the planet … it’s the album that introduced Metallica to the world … it’s the album that has Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Sad But true, and Nothing Else Matters … Metallica classics by any stretch. Now that my rant about the black album is done, lets carry on – DM’s rightful place is NOT after ‘Justice’, its after St. Anger. There is a reason why DM came out the way it did, and it had to do with the years that preceded it ; ranging from alcohol abuse to near-band break up – to creating the controversial St. Anger . The reason this album was received so well is that we had no idea they still had it in them – the furious riffs, the blinding guitar solos, the trademark growls (not so much though), and the relentless drumming …. We did not see it coming.

Even with this release came controversy! Did you expect otherwise? With DM, Metallica released an ‘overly-loud’ album … you would think that isn’t a problem in the metal world, but low and behold, it surely is. Fans (sheep and haters alike) complained that the mastering of the album was SO loud, that it drowned out some of the finer moments on DM. This controversy filled the internet from blogs, to forums .. even to Facebook status’s (is that even a word? Fuckin’ Facebook)– to a point where the person who Mastered DM responded to a fan on the Metallica forums denouncing the mastering effort on the album, saying that he ‘wasn’t proud of it ’ – even went as far as pulling it off his website. Later, Lars Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer, said that he ‘loved the way the album sounds’ and continued by saying ‘only a minority hate the sound of it, maybe 10,000 out of the 2 million who got it’ … kings of metal, or kings of controversy? It was clear a lot of people weren’t happy with it … but it also remains a fact that Metallica didn’t change the sound of ‘Justice’ back in 88 when people complained about the lack of bass … they surely aren’t going to start listening to people now.

Metallica baby, love em’ or despise em’ … you cannot deny the iconic band they have become. They made a career by making fucking great music, and keeping people on their toes.

Many ‘haters’ wished Metallica stuck to the formula they had in the 80’s … that formula certainly worked, 4 relentless – some say flawless – albums. But how boring would that have been? Metallica would’ve been reduced to playing halls like Slayer, Megadeth or Anthrax (their 80’s companions) … instead, they took risks, listened to no one, pleased themselves and stirred a lot of – yes – controversy. This resulted in Metallica playing huge stadiums, Arenas and festivals to atleast 40,000 people a show (on average) … making them the biggest Metal band alive (and the fifth biggest selling band of all time).
Long live the king(s)