I watched the Metal Evolution Glam Rock, Thrash and Grunge documentaries a few nights ago. When you play “The Trooper” as your intro riff to the series, how am I not going to like the documentaries. That alone classifies it as a winner to me. The documentaries are great viewing and I recommend them to all fans of the rock and metal genres and also to any other fan who is interested in a good narrative.
I think the Glam Rock/Metal movement doesn’t get the respect it deserves. If it wasn’t for “Sonic Temple” from The Cult and “Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue there would be no such thing as the “Black” sound and the millions of metal bands that the Metallica album spawned. Yet this is not mentioned, even though Lars and James have gone on the record to state that the sound of “Dr Feelgood” is what they wanted for the “Black” album and that is why they went with Bob Rock.
However, in the Thrash documentary, Sam Dunn tells Lars he felt betrayed when the Black album was released and Lars responds by saying that it would have been a betrayal if Metallica did Justice Part 2. Brilliant interviewing. Since Sam Dunn is a fan, it was a fan question that a lot of Metallica fans from the first four albums wanted to ask. And Lars actually gave a great response back.
But back to the Glam Metal episode first.
I couldn’t stop laughing at Sam Dunn’s assessment of “Glam Metal”. To him he felt “they were boy bands put together by record label execs”.
There is a good history on the L.A Hard Rock scene and how it goes back to the original pioneers “Van Halen”. It set the style that bands needed to have a real showman for a lead vocalist, a real hot-shot guitarist and a rhythm section tighter than a G-string.
Franki Banali the drummer from Quiet Riot cracked me up with his assessment of Edward Van Halen “the name sounds like a painter”.
It’s good to see Spencer Proffer get recognition for his idea of trying to find a band to record “Cum On Feel The Noize” from Slade. It was a game changer for Quiet Riot even though they resisted it.
Then you have the big heavy metal day on the 1983 U.S festival. It was a game changer for the LA scene and for metal in general.
Randy Rhoads was always a big influence on the LA Glam strip with his guitar playing in Quiet Riot before he joined Ozzy.
MTV also had a perfect vehicle in Glam Metal as all the bands where all about the image and the performance. And MTV was the catalyst for getting bands that would normally sell a hundred thousand albums into the multi-million ranges. The seventies bands that became part of the movement re-invigorated their career and also replenished their fan bases.
John Kalonder was fucking hilarious. When he spoke, I couldn’t stop laughing. He sounded like that baddy voice over dub in the movie “Kung Pow”.
And it was a time of excess. If Tawny Kitaen is to be believed, then the 1987 Whitesnake album cost over $2 million dollars to record and produce.
One thing that is very rarely mentioned in the press is all the gear enhancements that took place during the Eighties era. Rock guitar players were customizing amps and guitars and they were always seeking new sounds.
As a musician it would be great to see how producers and technology shaped each genre. We all love a narrative and we all like to see unsung heroes get their time in the sun. The rise of Mesa Boogie and their Rectifier amps. Tom Werman, Bob Rock, Keith Olsen, Andy Johns, Bruce Fairbairn, Mike Clink and so on, also deserved to be recognised. The polished sounds from the Eighties records played a huge rule in the evolution in the metal and rock genres. The whole Grunge movement used producers that cut their teeth engineering on metal and glam rock albums from the 80’s.
Look at some of the stuff “The Edge” did with Digital Delays and Phasers. Eddie Van Halen is a classic that comes to mind with his innovative “Brown” sound. Warren DeMartini from Ratt had a hot rodded amp that everyone wanted to use.
As a fan of the genre, there needs to be another documentary that brings to light some of the unsung heroes of metals evolution, those guys that altered and enhanced the sounds.
Because in the first episode that covered the origins of metal Dunn touched on the sound aspects and about how a speaker was cut with a razor blade to get a distorted sound and how the invention of the first Marshall amp paved the way for a new style of sound.
Dunn’s reporting of the “Guns N Roses Effect” on glam rock spot on. That is the argument I have had with many people. I always said that Glam Rock died because it got over saturated with inferior bands, along with Gunners showing up the movement with their nod to Seventies classic rock. So when Grunge came along, it offered an alternative to the clichéd glam rock styles and lyrics.
To me the documentaries are also trying to change the culture of the metal fan, you know, get all the elitist judges to be more relaxed and appreciate the different aspects rather than seeing themselves as part of a niche. Get them to appreciate and open their mind and feel united as one big diverse family, to inspire evolution, a Metal Evolution
“Bang you Head…”