Paradise lost, rock, grunge, metal, guitar heroes and Slovenian musicians

It is 20th day after my surgery 14/10/2012. Only 5 kilometers from my home Paradise Lost are having concert, but unfortunately due to my recovery I am unable to attend the concert. Nonetheless their concert in my vicinity brought to me a lot of memories from the past and my childhood….

I was at their concert in 1997 at Festivalna dvorana in my hometown of Ljubljana, which was unforgettable. Their album Dracionian times and Icon were one of my favorite albums in high school.

My music journey started when I bought my first tape in 1988 it was Michael Jackson’s Bad. I was 9 years old I didn’t understood a word he was singing but there were two songs that I liked most. The first was Smooth criminal and then there was Dirty Diana. What really impressed me in that song was guitar solo. That was something. So my 5 years older brother said to me “You liked a guitar solo? Listen to this.” and gave me a Jimi Hendrix tape. So I started to listen to music through the influence of my brother. So in the beginning of my primary school I already started to discover Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The DoorsRolling Stones, U2, EuropeThe Cult, Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Queen, Santana, Bruce Springsteen

Those were all great bands but I was most impressed with Jimi Hendrix, and his live albums Band of Gypsys, which was recorded during the new year’s eve and Monterey Pop Festival. Machine gun from Band of Gypsys was definitely the song which I remembered the most. I can still hear all the Jimi’s emotions about the Vietnam war in it. You can easily hear the bombs flying through the air and landing on the ground in his song. Then I discovered songs like Voodoo child in long version and Little wing which is still one of my favourites. Although the best version of Little wing in my opinion is Stevie Ray Vaughan version, which gave this song another dimension even more emotional. But my list of Hendrix’s unforgettable songs seems to be endless Hey baby (New rising sun), Red house, Room full of mirrors, Hear my train a’comin , Angel, Villanova junction, Spanish castle magic, Peace in Mississippi, Rock me baby, Bob Dylan’s All along the watchtower, not to mention Hey joe, Purple haze, Fire, Foxy lady, Burning of the midnight lamp, The wind cries Mary and other more known Jimi’s songs. There are so many songs in my head that I could go on and on…

But after that, when I was still in primary school classmate of mine lent me a tape of Guns n’ Roses »Appetite for destruction«. That was to me at that time something new, faster, more heavy. Songs like Paradise city, Welcome to the jungle and Sweet child O’ mine were different than anything I heard before. Later I also discovered their Lies album which was also great. So the first CD that I bought in my life was Use your Illusion I&II (Civil war,November rain, Coma, Double talkin jive, You could be mine, Don’t cry… ).

I bought my first CD in Klagenfurt in Austria where we used to go shopping for food and high tech. Before Slovenia became independent and we were still in Yugoslavia  in our grocery stores there was hardly any choice of groceries, there was only one sort of juice, one sort of detergents… there was hardly any CD or tape shop and high tech like computers (ZX spectrum, Commodore, Atari, Amiga…) and video recorders were much cheaper in Austria. So we bought stuff in Austria and had to ‘smuggle’ a video recorder or hi-fi across the border. Father put video recorder under mine or brother’s legs in the back seat of the car and so did everybody in Slovenia at that time who were shopping in Austria. And just let me say that I don’t know anybody who did not smuggle something from Austria in 80’s.

So in times when I listened to Guns n’ Roses Appetite for destruction I came upon my first metal tape (GNR were more hard rock band for me), it was W.A.S.P. live in the raw.  This album is still one of my favorites. WASP made one of the best metal ballads of all time in my opinion Sleeping in the fire, Idol, Heaven’s hung in black. Their songs were great and I still listen to WASP, old songs like Wild child, L.O.V.E. machine, I wanna be somebody, Blind in Texas, Harder faster, Cries in the night, For whom the bell tolls, and later ones Locomotive man, Babylons burning

Those were the times when in our neighborhood hip hop or rap was also popular. Performers like Cypress Hill, Method Man, Ice Cube, Ice T were some names that I remember… But to me there was one tape that I really liked it was album The Diary by Scarface. My classmate lent me the tape after I saw one of my favorite movies of all time Boyz n the Hood. Song Seen a man die still reminds me of that movie with Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr. This movie was one of the best I had ever seen, it was about hard life of black people in dangerous neighborhoods and the endless spiral of violence and revenge (“You have to think young brother about your future.”)( “Something wrong? Yeah. It’s just too bad you don’t know what it is, brother.”).

Then at the beginning of 90’s became in Slovenia popular grunge. Every weekend when I was in high school we went to K4 club. We were grungers with long hair, dressed in a shirt with long sleeves and a T-shirt over that. Main stars were undoubtedly Pearl Jam, but the female gender liked Nirvana even more. Other main representatives of grunge were Alice in chains, Stone temple pilots and Soundgarden. My Pearl Jam album TEN was so scratched that mine CD player could not played it anymore. Although I cleaned it with alcohol and sticks for the ears which usually worked. Songs like Jeremy, Alive, Even flow,Black played every weekend in K4 club, mandatory songs were also Would by Alice in chains and Smells like teen spirit by Nirvana.

At that time I first took my brothers guitar in my hands, when I discovered Metallica’s … And Justice for All album. It was the riff from One, the first riff that I wanted to play on a guitar. Everyone who played a guitar and heard One must have tried to play it. Aaaa  Aaaa sang tens of thousands of fans on their concerts. But when you are holding guitar in your hands for the first time it’s impossible to play such riff. I played it forever for few months and could not get it right. Then I also tried riff from Fade to black. Playing a guitar was the most difficult thing in the world, I thought. “How could Jimi played something like Machine gun?”. “Playing piano or keyboard is easy” I thought. “Every child can push the piano keys, but playing a guitar, that is impossible”. My fingerprints were all gone because I played the guitar 25 hours a day that first month. I could rob a bank and nobody would caught me since I would left no fingerprints. My brothers guitar strings were rusty, I had green fingers because of them. But my will and determination finally paid of and I learned AaaaAaaa and later I also learned Fade to black riff. So I wanted to learn new riffs and Metallica was perfect for that, but I only listened them till the Black album, I didn’t like albums after Black album.

Then I discovered Megadeath and Iron Maiden. Youthanasia album from Megadeath was in my opinion their best album which I could listen forever, but they had a lot of good songs from other albums too, songs which I still like  (She wolf , A secret place, Symphony of destruction, Holy wars, Trust, In my darkest hour,Tornado of souls,…). Iron Maiden album A real live one with songs like Fear of the dark, The clairvoyant, The evil that men do, Wasting love were also great. Something new were Rage against the machine, and Pantera with songs Cemetery gates, This love, and Cowboys from hell. Their live album Official Live 101 Proof convinced me as soon as I heard it.

Meanwhile grunge was going downwards and when Kurt Cobain died the alter scene in K4 club changed to metal scene. We were headbanging and windmill headbanging all around the club.

Then I first heard of Amorphis and Paradise Lost, which are having a concert right now 5 kilometers away from my home. That was more dark and brutal music in those times »twisting the knife in vain…« from song Enchantment was typical for those dark lyrics. This dark metal lyrics were usually more deep and complex then lyrics from Metallica, although you could hardly understood what they were singing due to their brutal vocals. Nevertheless there was a lot of melody and classical elements in this music. Although a lot of people hate this kind of music this is also an art. To me the best albums of that darker metal then Metallica and Megadeath were Tales from the thousand lakes by Amorphis, Shades of God, Icon, and Draconian times by Paradise Lost. Songs like True belief, Embers fire, Shadowkings, Elusive cure, Pity the sadness, As I die, I see your face from Paradise Lost and songs Black winter days, Forgotten sunrise, Thousand lakes, Magic and mayhem, Folk of the north, Moon and sun part II: North’s son by Amorphis were unforgettable. Trough this heavy, deep, dark metal music I also discovered Hypocrisy and their album Fourth dimension which was new dimension to me or fourth dimension.

For those of you who never listened to metal music or wanted to hear about it, but you are still wondering what metal has to offer, if none of the different metal songs listed below would impress you then you should keep away from metal music and it is better for you to continue to listen to rave, techno, pop, hip hop, or whatever you are listening to. Then this art is just to hard for you:

I know that everyone has it’s own best list of metal songs. But this are the songs that made the biggest impression on me in metal music in addition to already mentioned songs of bands Paradise Lost, Amorphis, Megadeath, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Pantera and W.A.S.P.

Then I first heard Joe Striani’s live album which friend lent it to me.

That was in the time when I played a guitar almost every day and that album blew me away. I had been on his G3 concert which was in my hometown of Ljubljana and it was excellent. A little spoiled it only Fripp, it was a shame that instead of Fripp at that concert was not Malmsteen, Petrucci or Eric Johnson. No it had to be Fripp and his performance was quite boring to me. But Satriani’s songs Circles, Why, One big rush, Hordes of locusts, Satch boogie, The extremist, Surfing with the alien, Cool #9, Borg sex, Devil’s slide, Always with me, always with you are still one of my favourites and I have the CD Live in San Francisco in my car and listen to it a lot.

With listening to Satriani I discovered Steve Vai and his magical songs For the love of god and Tender surrender. Steve Vai also acted in the movie Crossroads, in which there is one of the most famous guitar duels in movie history (along the legendary dueling of the banjos in movie Deliverance). And listening to the G3 I came across Yngwie Malmsteen and his songs Far beyond the sun, Black star, Dreaming, Evil eye .

Another guitar hero which I must mention is Santana, his Black magic woman and the legendary Woodstock performance of Soul sacrifice is still one of the best live performances (Santana was on LSD, and the drummer was only 19 years old). I heard later in one of Santana’s interviews that he had the feeling of holding a snake in his hand instead of a guitar. And that the snake was trying to escape from his hands, that is why he made all those silly faces.

And of course one of the best there was SRV or Stevie Ray Vaughan. His version of Little wing blew me away when I first heard it. And only his version could do the justice to Jimi’s song and is in my opinion even better then original. Another SRV’s song that is one of my favorite songs is Lenny.

In Yugoslavia one of the best guitar heroes was  Stefanovski. I was on his concert in my hometown of Ljubljana in Krizanke which was great. But unforgettable was his acoustic concert at Skofje Loka castle in great ambient. He played with Miroslav Tadič and Vlado Kreslin the best Slovenian musician in my opinion performed before. Stafanovski and Tadic album live in Belgrade is still one the best instrumental guitar albums for me. Songs Dafino vino crveno, Jano Mori, Proseta se Jovka Kumanovka, More Cico rece da me zeni, Ajde dali znaes pamtis milice, Uci me majko karaj, Ne si go prodavaj Koljo cifikot are incredible. And since I am talking about guitar heroes I have to mention also Tommy and Stochelo that played with Vlatko Stefanovski…

When I talk about music and just can’t go on without mentioning yet another band and their incredible song Lynard SkynardSimple man, which left a big impression on me and also Shinedown‘s version dedicated to Dimebag Darrel.

In the meantime I also listened to reggae which I discovered through some legendary songs by Bob Marley, and later I discovered Gentleman. He is still one of my favorite performers, his energy at concerts is incredible, Dem gone, Leave us alone, Live it up, Children of tomorrow, Jah jah never fail, Fade away this songs were made for my ears. I also attended the first Soca Riversplash reggae festival in Slovenia in 2000 which I remember as a special festival with great atmosphere and beautiful nature. The festival was in Tolmin by the Soca river it’s a shame that Gentleman didn’t performed that year at Riversplash but performed a few years later. Other bands which I also liked and had some really great performances RHCP, Linkin Park and Eminem.

And the last band I discovered was Chickenfoot. Old-timers who know what rock music is all about. Singer and base player from Van Halen, drummer from RHCP and on the guitar one and only Joe Satriani. Something going wrong, Learning to fall, Down the drain, Turning left, Soap on a rope, Dubai blues, Come closer… are songs which reminds me of good old days of rock music.

Music played an important role in my growing up. It was a world of unimagined proportions and dimensions. I was opened to almost any kind of music as long as it had quality but the most I was dragged towards guitar sounds. I was not one of those who said metal music is the best and the rest is crap. Or real rockers do not have a keyboard in their band and that kind of stupid nonsense. I believed in good and bad music regardless of music genre. I believe that there are some good and quality songs in every genre and also there are poor songs in every genre. So when someone asks me how can you like at the same time Slovenian songs V dolini tihi by Lojze Slak or Vlado Kreslin and on the other end something so raw and brutal like Hypocrisy? Well, it’s because I believe that this is all art and that everyone of those performers are great in their genres of music and those songs are really great.

Like the paintings you can divide by good ones and bad ones, or the ones that you like and the ones that you don’t. But you can not say I like Picasso that’s why I must not like Tisnikar. Someone who looks too narrow and is limited to only one genre releases a lot of opportunities and songs which could be the best he ever heard.

And now that I am getting old (joke) and I like a little bit more soft music, here is my list of best Slovenian songs made by my generation:

Trough my exploration of music I attended a lot of concerts in Slovenia and abroad. From high school concerts to club concerts and to big festivals in Germany, Austria… Some of the concerts I attended: Paradise Lost, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, U2, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Stefanovski, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Pearl Jam, Cypress Hill, Vanessa Mai, Tcheka, Vlado Kreslin….

But one of the best concert that I attended as I remember was Paradise Lost concert in Festivalna dvorana apart of Soca Reggae Riversplash. And today I can’t go to Paradise Lost concert which is just a few miles away from my home. My only comfort is that I am not a fan of their latest albums. Albums like Icon and Draconian times are for me their best albums and they will never record another album like those two again. And that is why the concert as it was in 1997 in Festivalna dvorana could not be repeated.

Uros Rozac, My life story at 33: Pineal gland cyst

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