Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Thrash Revision

The very first Megadeth song I heard was “Wake Up Dead”. 100% of people would think I heard it via an LP or some other physical format but it was via music television. Yep, Megadeth was a video clip band for me for a few years before I spent my money on their catalogue. And I thought, “what is this rubbish?”

But the next clip that came on was “Peace Sells” and although musically/lyrically it was great, Mustaine’s voice just didn’t resonate. A few years later I saw the film clip to “No More Mr Nice Guy” from the “Shocker” movie and although Desmond Child spoke of all horrors of horrors trying to get Mustaine sober enough to record the Alice Cooper cover, the finished output was nice and polished enough to showcase Mustaine’s voice. It actually sounded pretty good. A few months later, “In My Darkest Hour” came onto the TV and again I was blown away musically and lyrically, but man, Mustaine’s voice and tone was a bit of a miss on it.

All of my doubts got put to “Rust In Peace” in 1990. When “Holy Wars” came out, I was fully converted, musically, lyrically and vocally.

I was in, I was a fan and I was off to the record shop to buy the new album, plus the back catalogue. However, the shop didn’t have “Killing Is My Business”, so I had to make do with “Rust In Peace”, “So Far, So Good, So What” and “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying”. Apart from the brilliant riffs in “Holy Wars”, the main thing I remember from the video clip is drummer Nick Menza (RIP) pounding the skins and the very MTV friendly looking band appearing on the TV screen.

When Dave Mustaine appeared on “S12 Ep5 of That Metal Show” (in 2013) he was asked to rate his top 5 Megadeth albums. Guess which albums made his top 5.

  1. Countdown To Extinction
  2. Rust In Peace
  3. Peace Sells
  4. Killing Is My Business
  5. So Far, So Good, So What

I think you can take “Killing Is My Business” off the list and add “Dystopia” to it. Isn’t it funny how in 2013, Mustaine viewed his 80’s and early 90’s output as his most superior.

And I started thinking about 1986. 31 years ago. Wow. Has it been that long? The 70’s seemed so far away in the 80’s and in 2017, 1986 seems like a few years ago.

Is 86, the year thrash metal became a commercial force of nature. It’s been well documented that “Master Of Puppets”, “Reign In Blood” and “Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying?” all came out in this period.

Let’s put into context the commercial side of 1986 (based on RIAA certification in the U.S).

“Master Of Puppets” came out in February, 1986 and by November, 1986 in had a Gold Certification. Two years later in July 1988, it was certified Platinum for 1 million records sold. It’s 2x Platinum came on the backs of the “Black” album in 1991 and it wasn’t until 1994 that it was certified 3x Platinum. Currently it is 6x Platinum and that happened in June 2003.

“Peace Sells … But Who’s Buying” came out in September 1986. It didn’t set any charts alight and by November, 1988, it received a Gold certification for 500,000 units sold in the U.S.

By November 1992 and on the backs of the “Countdown To Extinction” album, it was certified platinum.

“Reign In Blood” came out in October 1986 and it was certified Gold in November 1992.

So while 1986 did have some excellent thrash releases, thrash didn’t take the world by storm in the way revisionist writers like to frame it today. Like it or not, it happened after the “Black” album came out. It was a slow build and that’s how great music works. Slowly percolating outside the mainstream until it becomes the mainstream. Then every label wanted in.

For me, I didn’t own (which means buy with cash) my first Metallica record until “… And Justice For All” came out in 1988. I then went back and purchased the earlier stuff. For Megadeth, as mentioned above it was 1990 and for Slayer it was well into the early 2000’s that I got “Seasons In the Abyss” and again based on the film clip. And before owning their albums, I had dubbed copies of their albums.

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Metal Music

Heavy F…. Metal.

In 2018, it will be 50 years from when Steppenwolf, screamed the words, “Heavy Metal Thunder” in their iconic “Born To Be Wild” song. And while the reference to “heavy metal thunder” was the loud sound of the motorbike, it seemed to stick for a style of music that was just around the corner.

But heavy metal goes back a bit further than that. You see, in the 1930’s there was a guitarist called Django Reinhardt.

He was a jazz shredder who passed away in 1953, well before heavy metal became a tour de force. But to become a shredder, wasn’t easy for Django. You see, a fire in the late 20’s extensively burned his left hand and other areas of his body. His right leg was paralysed and his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand were badly burned. The Doctors told him that he will never play guitar again and they wanted to cut his leg off. Django refused the surgery and within a year, learned to how walk again with the help of a cane. But his two fingers remained paralysed. So Django had to relearn how to play the guitar by using his thumb and two fingers.

Fast forward to the 60’s and an unknown Birmingham guitarist tore off the tips off his middle fingers in a freak factory accident. A visit from the company foreman, alerted Tony Iommi to Reinhardt.

“It really inspired me to really get on with it, and start trying to play.”
Tony Iommi VH1 in 2015.

Although Iommi’s problems weren’t as severe as Django, he still had to do things a bit differently. While Django had to relearn how to play the guitar from scratch using less fingers, Iommi just needed to innovate. The first innovation was the creation of the plastic finger tips. The second was the down tuning of the guitar from standard pitch to accommodate the plastic finger tips.

And while Sabbath are seen as the forefathers of heavy metal, metal in general was more than just Sabbath. It was the attitude, the rebellion, the free-spirited nature, the community and gang-like mentality. And this attitude goes back to the early 60’s. In 1964, Beatles records accounted for 60% of all music sales in the U.S. according to Billboard magazine. Rock became a commercial force, priming the U.S kids for the more abrasive, distorted version of rock would enter in a few years’ time.

But to understand the Beatles, you need to go back to Chuck Berry, the father of rock and roll. The Beatles covered “Rock And Roll Music” and “Roll Over Beethoven”. John Lennon ripped off Chuck Berry for “Come Together”.

Hell, the Beach Boys ripped “Sweet Little Sixteen” from Chuck Berry and called it “Surfin’ U.S.A.”.

ELO’s career was jump-started when they covered “Roll Over Beethoven”.

Let’s not forget “Johnny B. Goode”, a hit when it came out, and in 1977 the song was launched into space with the Voyager I and II spacecraft to await discovery. Chuck Berry was a metal head before metal was even around. He sang about fast cars, women and teenage rebellion. In other songs, he questioned the status quo. And since those days, metal has grown worldwide. It’s the new world music. As an article in the Wall Street Journal states;

“Today’s “world music” isn’t Peruvian pan flutes or African talking drums. It’s loud guitars, growling vocals and ultrafast “blast” beats.”

The internet and mp3 sharing has spread heavy metal music to all corners of the world. Music in general was locked up, behind gates, but now we can hear every song ever recorded online, even the songs from “out of print” albums. People from oppressive countries who wouldn’t normally have access to metal music suddenly had access via their fingertips. Metal music is a lifestyle. You live the way you look and look the way you live. There are no pretensions. And you can’t get more metal and no bullshit than Ginger Baker, a person who inspired future metal drummers going on record detesting the style. That’s exactly the free-spirit of a metaller.

“I’ve seen where Cream is sort of held responsible for the birth of heavy metal. Well, I would definitely go for aborting. I loathe and detest heavy metal. I think it is an abortion.”
Ginger Baker – Cream 

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The Speed Of Moving On

Once upon a time, there was the BlackBerry. It was the phone for professionals with a full miniature keyboard and an operating system that provided emails and messaging functionality. But, the iPhone’s launch with apps in 2007 changed the game. It showed the world, that people didn’t just want a phone for emails and messaging. They wanted to do more. And that more came from apps. This brand new ecosystem, put tools into the hands of their users. Developers and companies rose up all around the world, just to create apps for the iPhone. But they couldn’t do the same on the Blackberry.

So while the Blackberry executive brass said that users would not want an iPhone, they totally missed the boat on how app developers increase the value of their own product.

In 2007, Blackberry was number 8 in global smartphones sold. Fast forward 10 years later, it has 0.0% market share.

Google dominates the numbers game because it gives out Android to phone makers for free, making it the operating system of choice for low-cost handsets in the developing world like India and China. Apple, on the other hand, keeps iOS in-house and its prices high — limiting its reach but maximising its profits.
BUSINESS INSIDER ARTICLE

The speed at which people abandon one thing and move on to another is huge. Remember MySpace. Remember Yahoo. Remember dot-matrix printers. Remember film cameras.

We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. A generation who wants to consume music but not in the same way that their parents did. Their sense of community is all online. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

And the biggest story of the past five years that hasn’t been told is the seas of information that makes it nearly impossible to get any message heard. The main newspapers articles are written by publicists. The artists chime in to help Metal Hammer rise again, but they keep on forgetting that it’s the people who used to purchase the magazine that have moved on. We are sick and tired of the publicist articles. There is nothing new there. We can get all of that information from Wikipedia. Hell, artists who have a following, don’t need to do interviews, just start-up a blog and control your own news.

Success tomorrow means having an opinion today.

Attention is first. The money comes later.

This is 2017, where even the biggest acts in certain genres are unknown to many. It’s different to the mid 80’s, when MTV ruled and a limited number of acts had constant rotation on the channel.

I dare most people to sing two Shinedown songs and the average person has no idea who Five Finger Death Punch is, however both bands get as many RIAA certifications as bands in the 80’s did. In the same way, that most people don’t know which is the biggest video game, or the biggest online game or the biggest app or the biggest book. There’s just too much information.

Businesses depend upon customers. If no one is buying, companies fail. Artists depend upon audiences. If no one is listening, artists fail because the money is in the mass. The more people who listen, the more money the artist will make. But they need to get people’s attention.

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In The Name Of Metal

Y&T sang “In The Name Of Rock’N’Roll” but if you wanted to find their music, you had to go to the heavy metal section of the record shop. You see, it was all one of the same, once upon a time. Hell, even Bon Jovi could be found in the metal section.

Metal music, much like the politics of today, was the very unpopular movement that took the mainstream by surprise in the 80’s. In the process it became a commercial behemoth. The record labels got rich and suddenly metal music went from the unacceptable to the acceptable. Isn’t it funny how billions in revenue from sales of metal music changed the people’s viewpoint.

But religious leaders hated metal. “Satan was on the loose”, they told their followers. These fanatics needed an enemy to push their sermons and there was no easier target than metal bands. The Government’s of the world sided with these religious group and certain factions came about, who also hated it, because of its anarchist lyrics and themes of violence, decadence and drug use. But the music got louder, the bands more popular and suddenly and suddenly the artists became as powerful as the leaders of nations. So it was only a matter of time before laws needed to be passed to censor or slap down the movement.

Society was suddenly at a crossroads.

How did the children of the baby boomers become so disobedient?

Why couldn’t these kids just conform to the system like their parents did?

A rethink of beliefs was happening.

Heavy metal bands questioned religion and made comments on politics. And the “metal fad” that most magazines predicted would die, didn’t. Instead, the message got louder. Metal music was alive in all parts of the world.

Music critics at first labelled it noise. Led Zeppelin’s first three albums (even though they are not metal, are still seen as influences of the metal movement) were labelled as disjointed and noise by Rolling Stone magazine. Black Sabbath’s first album was reviewed as a discordant jam that never finds it’s synch by the same magazine. However many years later, Rolling Stone would rewrite their own history and they put the albums in the 1001 albums you must hear before you die lists.

If you were a fan of heavy metal or hard rock, there was a system of persecution at play from unsupportive teachers, clueless leaders and an out of touch mainstream. But the music survived, it thrived and maintained a fan base for over 40 plus years.

Was it the roots to the blues that made metal appeal to the people?

Was it the borrowing from the Classical genre that made metal appeal to the people?

Was it the borrowing from the Jazz genre that made metal appeal to the people?

Was it the roots and upbringing of the artists that made metal appeal to the people? In other words, the majority of metal and rock fans came from the blue-collar social class. The people who keep the country they live in, running and producing goods.

It’s no surprise that the bands that would influence the metal genre the most originated in Europe. You had Led Zeppelin a supergroup of musicians who dabbled with the supernatural and borrowed from every genre known at that point in time. You had Black Sabbath, coming from industrial Birmingham with their sludgy and aggressive bluesy sound merged with the devil chord (the tritone) from classical music. You had Deep Purple who along with Led Zeppelin showed ambition and virtuosity in their music. If you go back further, you have The Beatles and Rolling Stones in the 60’s. ABBA and David Bowie showed the pop world how to write ambitious pop songs in the 70’s and pop music was never the same again. What the European artists did was introduce virtuosity into music that wasn’t there before.

Then there was UFO with their virtuoso guitarist Michael Schenker who would go on to influence all of the 80’s guitarists. Judas Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden flew the European metal flag in the early 80’s along with songs that sounded faster and more abrasive. A lot of critics called this a merging of punk rock with metal, however that wasn’t the case. I remember watching the Metal Evolution docu-series and Steve Harris totally disagreed with this viewpoint. As far as Harris was concerned, he hated punk music and he couldn’t see why he would merge the speed of punk with rock music to create the Iron Maiden sound. The U.S had Van Halen break through on the backs of the Van Halen brothers, who were born in Europe and grew up with the European technicality and the influences of classical music.

But metal had another genre hiding within which would go on to become bigger and more profitable. Its name became known as glam metal/rock. It was full of arena rock chorus’s, guitar solos by guitar heroes and “having a good time” lyrics. Combining the over the top glam look with MTV, proved to be a platinum move. Suddenly mediocre acts became platinum acts. A new cultural movement was born. The charts became a metal/rock paradise. Due to its crossover appeal, metal’s audience changed from male teenagers to include females, pre-teens and college teens.

While rock music in the 50’s changed society, metal music in the 80’s did exactly the same. And the world is better from it. I kneel at the altar of metal.

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Thrash Musics Three M’s. Metal, Metallica, Mustaine!!

According to “The Guardian”, Metallica is seen as a band that revolutionized the metal genre. According to “The Rolling Stone”, Metallica are kings at everything they do.

Metallica for me was an extreme act when I got into them by the mid Eighties. Extreme in the sense that their style was so departed from the “metal” music I knew, which at that time consisted off bands like Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot. When i first heard the opening riff of “Fight Fire with Fire” I felt like me head got chopped off with a chainsaw. It was brutal. By the time “Ride The Lightning” started with its harmony guitars I was ready to snap my desk in half.

So based on the bands I was listening too, Metallica was pretty extreme. Megadeth even more so. Slayer even more and more so. After that, my tastes became elective and depending on my moods, certain styles would win over the other. In the end, as long as it had distorted guitars, I was into it.

Anyway, there was a story doing the rounds a few weeks ago about how Scott Ian believes that Dave Mustaine is the godfather of thrash music or something along those lines.

And to be honest, I don’t agree with anything Mr Ian says about the internet and piracy, but for this, he is not far off the mark.

All you need to do is hear the songs written on the debut “Kill Em All” album and you will hear that the Dave Mustaine led compositions (“Mechanix/The Four Horseman”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Phantom Lord” and “Metal Militia”) had a certain technical and progressive edge to them.  Especially “Metal Militia” which for a young band full of energy, booze and in Mustaine’s case “drugs” it was a surprise to hear a young act attempt a song with time and tempo changes.

And “Metal Militia” is the style that Metallica went with, up until the Justice album. Technical, progressive thrash metal.

Actually going back even further, you need to look at the songs Hetfield and Ulrich had written prior to Mustaine joining Metallica. “Hit The Lights” was not really thrash metal and more a take on the NWOBHM and a chugging riff that was ripped off from “Detroit Rock City”.

But what about Jeff Hanneman (RIP). To me, the songs he wrote for Slayer are songs that pushed the boundaries of the genre. Thrash metal also had socially relevant lyrics over a bed of chainsaw of guitars and fast drumming. The disenfranchised youth of the blue-collar workers understood this message and suburbia was awash with rebellion and revolutionary ideals.

So even though Metallica (the band) are seen as the leaders of the movement, I think it’s a safe bet to say that Mustaine played a pivotal role in shaping the Metallica style. In turn, they took a lot of the noise happening around them and turned it into a career.

But the term thrash proved to be a barrier to commercial success and by the mid 90’s, the Eighties fans of the thrash bands screamed sell outs as they believed their heroes had abandoned the movement. But as Dylan sings in his songs, you need to keep on rolling, keep on changing and keep on exploring.

We all know what the “Black” album did, however Testament followed suit with “The Ritual”, Megadeth with “Countdown To Extinction”, Anthrax were already experimenting with their sound, moving to a more traditional sound with “Persistence Of Time” and a more modern groove sound with “Sound Of White Noise”. Meanwhile, Slayer delivered a typical Slayer album with “Divine Intervention”. Thrash had re-invented itself as a commercial force.

To say that one band revolutionized a genre is like saying one man invented all of Apple’s products, which we all know is not true. All cultural movements are products of many events coming together but in metal and thrash metal circles, it’s one band that is getting all of the accolades because of their commercial success. And history is written by the winners.

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1982 – Part 2 – The Day Of The Rock-Rock-Rock-Rocker

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade
In April 1982, Twisted Sister landed a contract with UK punk-rock label Secret Records.

In June 1982, the group released its first EP, “Ruff Cuts”, with Toni Petri on drums. A.J Pero joined soon after. This was followed in September with “Under the Blade”, produced by Pete Way of UFO and featuring a guest appearance of “Fast” Eddie Clarke on the very sounding Motorhead song “Tear It Loose”.

I will go out on a limb here and say that “Under The Blade” was an inspiring metal album for a legion of death and black metallers.

With all things musical, Secret Records then goes into bankruptcy. However it gave the TS machine enough momentum to appear on “The Tube” (they paid $22K for the appearance) which in turn led to Atlantic Records Europe approaching the band and signing them. Plus who can forget the support of the mighty Lemmy (RIP), who introduced the band at certain gigs in the UK.

I purchased the remixed re-release by Atlantic Records many years later, after I purchased “Come Out And Play”. “Under The Blade” is a classic album from a well- seasoned live unit. All of the songs are designed and meant for the stage.

The opening track “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” is a perfect example of a song designed for the live arena. Make sure you listen to the 5.32 version from the original. It’s better and it’s raw and gritty, just like Rock and Roll should be.

It’s that screechy, whiny, thin guitar intro that sets the tone and the way Dee Snider sings “Good Evening” with all the bravado of a circus MC, sounds like something dangerous is about to happen.

Good evening! Ha ha ha, welcome to our show

The welcoming line into the Twisted Sister world. I was intrigued.

Hit it! We’re no overnight sensation, no Cinderella fantasy
Please no plaudits or ovations, I’ve heard it all before you see

Bon Scott sang “It’s A Long Way To The Top, If You Want To Rock And Roll” and Twisted Sister is living proof of that journey. Indie bands are a common term for cool these days and there is no one more cooler than the TS Machine. For an indie band, they were way ahead of their time. Bands these days, with the world at their fingertips are unable to connect with people like the TS machine of old.

In the longer cut, the solo is extended at the 3.34 mark. It’s more melodic and it definitely grabs me.

How do you like it so far, say ain’t we quite a show?
There’s no one else quite like us, the others all get up and go

An intermission in a song is a brilliant piece of song writing.

“Bad Boys Of Rock N Roll” is the glam rock of Slade and Sweet cranked to eleven.

So we look kind of weird to you, well, how do you look to me?

You can just imagine how the TS look went over as the musical climate shifted from glam rock in the early Seventies to Punk and Disco in the late Seventies to New Wave in the Early Eighties.

Bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll
How bad can a bad boy be if he sets you free?

It’s about people who judge and condemn you while also enjoying what you have to offer.

So you say we’re offending you, what’s wrong, is it something we said?

Dee Snider doesn’t get enough respect. He was a spokesperson for a generation. Twisted Sister’s music was sold by the message in the songs. How different from today where everybody just oversells.

How heavy and doomy is “Run For Your Life”?

My favourite cut from the album! It’s all about the groove. The verse riff has the feel and power of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock”.

Through abused intentions
You misused my trust
Now’s the time for redemption
You’d better run for your life

It’s the embryo of “Burn In Hell” that came after.

“Sin After Sin” is a metal classic in the same vein as Judas Priest.

I had to hear this to remember it.

Funny how something so dated sounds so modern, especially around the lyrical message.

The lie you’ve been leading
Has you up to here in sin
You never like to think about it
Now you just can’t win

In today’s “Facebook” culture, everyone is putting their lives out there, for the whole world to stalk. But just how perfect and true are those photographs and those stories that people put up. Hell, when the GFC happened, all the banks lies got exposed, Ponzi schemes from Madoff got exposed and every single financial lie that was told was exposed.

You’re committing
Sin after sin

When you start with one lie, you are bound to tell another lie and then another, until you are so far removed from the truth, you don’t even know what the truth is anymore.

“Shoot Em Down” is classic AC/DC style of rock. Dee Snider showed respect to his influences, taking the attitude and intensity of glam rock and heavy metal and making it his own. Soon all of us would have the same attitude.

How heavy is “Destroyer”?

This one is the style of Judas Priest.

Anthrax with Jon Bush on vocals covered it for the Twisted Forever disc in the mid-nineties and down tuned it even more. It sounded Pantera like. Brutal.

He spent his life
A silent sentinel
For all to fear
He walks, he talks, he thinks, he feels,
But no one dare go near

Destroyer, Destroyer, Destroyer
He’s in town

When I was young, I thought it was impossible to get old. And now that i am older, my viewpoints mean nothing to the young ones, with their youth and know it all attitude. Exactly the same way I was when I was their age.

Although Dee is singing about some being like the maker/undertaker who is coming to collect, the lyrics to me have a meaning about getting old and how when you get old, no one gives a crap about you and about what you have to say.

“Under The Blade” has this haunting/metallised “Friday on Your Mind” vibe in the intro. That’s the power of music, it sets a mood instantly, and then it goes into overdrive.

You can’t escape from the bed you’ve made

Many years later, Dee Snider said the song is about him going “Under the Blade” for a surgery, however the lyrics definitely paint a picture of a person cornered in the alley way and then stabbed in their side. It’s pretty graphic and the scene setting lyrics are brilliant. But that lyric, “You Can’t Escape From The Bed You Made” is it. You drive drunk, there is no escape from the bed that you made. You scheme and steal, there is no escape from the bed you made.

“Tear It Loose” is a more commercial sounding “Overkill’ from Motorhead merged with a rockabilly drumming feel in the verses. The funny thing is, I never dug “Tear It Loose” back then but it resonates with me now more than the other songs. It’s all about the message in the lyrics, the double bass drumming, the riffs and I’m banging my head to it.

There ain’t no way I’m gonna wait for Saturday Night
I worked all day, I slaved away, I gotta set it right

That is what music gave me. A release; a place away from the normal grind. While Loverboy was singing “Working For The Weekend”, the TS beast was working for the night. Every minute is precious, so enjoy it.

Gonna tear it, gonna tear it loose
Gonna shout it from the roof
Blast my way into the night
I’m gonna live my dream, shout and scream!

Tear it loose doesn’t mean to destroy things as some people believe. It means to break away from someone or something. It could be anything, a job, a relationship, an ideal in your mind, a bad situation, and so forth. Or in some cases, it just means to break shit.

I’ve been brutalized, computerized, punched in and punched out
Here comes the night and it just ain’t right to be shut in or shut out
So I’m breaking down the barricades, gonna slow the hands of time
Cause to waste away the rest of the day is such a f***ing crime!

Kids from the Nineties don’t understand the clock cards. It’s a different world and in my view a better one. Time is short, don’t waste it. You are a short time alive and a long time dead. As Bon Jovi said, he’ll sleep when he is dead.

“Day Of The Rocker” is a foot stomper. The main riff is a cross between AC/DC and “The Strippers Anthem” while the verses have a bass feel from “Heaven And Hell”. But the vocal delivery is a tribute to Bon Scott from AC/DC.

Our numbers growin’
Soon we’ll be showin’
We’ve got the right to rule
We won’t be denied
So raise your hands in the air
And I want you to tell the world all about

A call to arms for all rockers to unite. A rock and roll and heavy metal invasion, stomping their way to wipe the slate completely clean.

The day of the rock-rock-rock-rocker

Simple and effective chorus lyric.

It’s like Twisted Sister is figuring out where they stand as they go along. They were following Judas Priest, Motorhead, Slade, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Free and writing their own songs. And because of these foundations, everyone at home was forming bands, the same way everyone at home today follows technology.

Night Ranger – Dawn Patrol
It was a super group. Jack Blades, Brad Gillis and Kelly Keagy all did time with Rubicon, who had chart success and were a constant on the touring circuit. Brad Gillis also had the high-profile replacement job for Randy Rhoads after his tragic death. Alan Fitzgerald did time with Montrose and Sammy Hagar. Jeff Watson had local radio air play and record label interest.

“Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”
It’s classic Jack Blades. The lead break was a wow moment for me, especially when the eight finger tapping comes in from Jeff Watson.

It’s taken miles and lines to learn the right from the wrong

From living and experiences we learn. It takes years. Relationships and love is one of those beasts that takes a lot of time to get right, and even then it is not perfect.

“Call My Name”
Another Jack Blades composition.

Your silhouette always appears in my window
I close my eyes and hear
The applause of at least a thousand different strangers
And everyone seems sincere

The adulation of being in a band, having people worship you. How do you come down from that high?

For Nikki Sixx, he started to take drugs.

“Eddie’s Coming Out Tonight”
Another Jack Blades composition. Stupid title but a fantastic song. It has enough guitars to make it heavy and the keyboards just add to the melody. Plus Eddie likes to rock and roll all night long and in the Eighties that is what we all wanted to do.

How cool is that outro solo section, a four bar climbing click repeating over a climbing ascending riff.

He lives beyond his means
He wear Italian shoes

Ain’t that the truth! Eddie is well-known to all of us. I know I live beyond my means. Each pay check goes out to the banks for the home loans and credit cards.

“Can’t Find Me A Thrill”
It’s a sleeper hit. The lead breaks alone are worth the investment. Steely Dan and Toto influences are all over this one.

Chasing the spotlight
It’s all part of the game
I’ve been to so many places
And they all look the same
I rock for my money
Some say it’s a suicide game

The lyrics are brilliant. You see, even back in the Eighties when the record labels had power and money and bigger budgets to sign acts and develop acts, it was still a lifer game. You had to check out of society and reality to become a rocker. The only way bands made money is from the stage.

I love the music and the vocal melodies to “Young Girl In Love”, “Play Rough”, “Penny” and “Night Ranger” but really, really, really hate the lyrics. All four songs could have been crossover hits if the lyrical message was better, not derivative and maybe a bit more socially aware.

UFO – Mechanix
I am a Michael Schenker fan, so the UFO records I purchased in the Nineties via the second-hand record shop and various music fairs were the albums that Schenker played on.

However, for $1, I purchased “Mechanix”.

Released in 1982, it was studio album number 10. Pete Way would leave UFO and form Fastway with “Fast” Eddie Clarke who also left Motorhead.

I love the classic UFO releases with Schenker, so of course I was disappointed with this album. Back when I purchased it, I never gave it a chance. Paul Chapman never had a chance following in the footsteps of Schenker. Even Vinnie Moore these days, is ridiculed for being in UFO, however Steve Morse is all cool for taking Blackmore’s place in Deep Purple. Go figure.

But Paul Chapman is a star on “We Belong To The Night”. It is the stand out track by far and it deserves a place in UFO history as a guitar foot stomper. It’s like Night Ranger took this song, sound and feel and built a career on it with the “Midnight Madness” album that came in 1983.

But the lyrics make me cringe. And many years later I realised that was the problem with UFO after Schenker left. It wasn’t Paul Chapman, he was excellent. Musically the band was excellent. It was the lyrics of Phil Mogg. They just didn’t grow up with him. He didn’t become a voice for a new generation.

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Music, My Stories

Thrash Metal Continued

Who wrote the first speed metal song?

Accept’s Wolf Hoffman believes it was Accept with the song “Fast As A Shark”. It came out in 1982, on their “Restless and Wild” album.

But wait a second didn’t Judas Priest release “Exciter” in 1978 on “Stained Class”. Also would the double bass drumming at the start of that song be considered an early precursor to the double bass drumming styles made famous by thrash music. However, in the Metal Evolution Thrash documentary, Lars Ulrich and Dave Lombardo comment that Motorhead’s “Overkill” was the first song that they heard that had that double bass drumming style that they liked. However the “Overkill” album came out in 1979. Maybe “Overkill” was the first song they heard, but it wasn’t the first song to feature double bass drumming.

Maybe the first speed metal song was Judas Priest’s “Let Us Prey” from the “Sin After Sin” album released in 1977. What about “Symptom Of The Universe” from Black Sabbath released in 1975 on the “Sabotage” album. It’s all down-picking and fast for that era. Maybe it came from a band that is not really a metal band. What about Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” that came out in 1974 on the “Sheer Heart Attack” album. Metallica did a pretty good job covering that song for the “Black” album b-sides. It sounds heavy, frantic and fast.

You see when people talk about a speed metal song the definition of what is a speed metal song is different between them. For me an uptempo and frantic song is a speed metal song. To others it could be my definition with the addition of operatic vocals. To others it would the previous definitions with the addition of technical playing.

Just say if you take out the metal and insert the rock. Would your answer be any different if the question was who wrote the first speed rock song?

I think Deep Purple and even Led Zeppelin would come into the mix right now. Hell, I would even go as far as to add Yes and Al Di Meola to that list.

The reason why I am stating the above is that I have an issue with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal romanticism and how the story is told that it single-handedly influenced the musicians who would kick off the thrash movement. It’s a determinism viewpoint. Not for a second do I believe that the NWOBHM movement was the sole influence.

The Metal Evolution doco on thrash has some revisionist history based on which bands/people are on top of the heap at this point in time. In other words, popular. This is what Sam Dunn said in the doco about it;

“When people think of thrash they generally think of the Bay area but that’s not where it started. I’ve come to L.A. to meet with Brian Slagel head of Metal Blade Records to find out how he and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich helped kick-start thrash metal in this city.” 

You see metal was a cultural movement. It was the answer or outlet for lack of a better word to a lot of conservative governments and the rising gap between the middle class and the poor. Brain Slagel and Lars Ulrich were people in the movement like many others.

If you want to get into what kick started Metallica and thrash in the city then look no further than Ron Mc Govney (Metallica’s original bassist). We all know that the Metal Massacre compilation organised by Slagel was pivotal (as it was for Slayer on Metal  Massacre III) however what kick started Metallica was all the investment that came from McGovney.

Without Ron McGovney; Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine would not have had a rehearsal space, nor a vehicle to transport the band to San Francisco nor the funds to make the trip.

If Ron McGovney was not in the band, Metallica would never have secured that opening spot for the Saxon L.A shows. That spot was secured because Ron McGovney had glam contacts due to his photography work with Motley Crue and Ratt. It was those glam contacts that gave him the Whiskey contact.

So while Hetflied and Mustaine wrote the songs and Lars was the business brains, all of that would have counted for nothing if no one was investing in them. While Metallica was based in L.A that investment came from Ron McGovney.

Once Ron McGovney was out, the next investment came from Jon Zazula who heard the “No Life Til Leather” demo. Jon Z and his wife Marsha would mortgage their house to form a record label and get that first Metallica album out the door. But how did that infamous demo ever get recorded by Metallica.

A punk label called High Velocity put up the money for Metallica to record an E.P.

Metallica went into an 8 track studio and recorded “Hit The Lights”, “Mechanix”, “Phantom Lord”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Motorbreath”, “Seek And Destroy” and “Metal Militia”. After hearing the tapes, the label realised that Metallica was not a punk band and they declined. Metallica took the tapes and the “No Life Til Leather” demo was born. It was Ron McGovney then that coughed up the $600 for the BAM ad to promote the demo.

Tape trading also played an important part in kick starting the thrash movement. Remember that whole “Home Taping Is Killing Music” campaign from the early Eighties. Does the below quote sound all to familiar today;

“With the rise in cassette recorder popularity, the BPI feared that the ability of private citizens to record music from the radio onto cassettes would cause a decline in record sales.”

You see the recording industry always went nuclear on any new technology. Then after years of lobbying and whinging they would realise that could make money from that technology and then they would remain silent.

To prove my point does anyone hear the major labels whinging about Spotify or streaming services?

In the end, the Thrash Metal movement was more than just the NWOBHM bands and the influence those bands had on U.S musicians. For any movement to flourish, society in general had to be in a state to accept it. There are reasons why metal took off in certain cities first and not others.

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