Under the Blade (1982) by Twisted Sister

Categories: 1982 and Music.

If you grew up in the 80s as I did, you were inundated by certain music videos and two of them were “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take it.” And through my entire life this is all I’ve known of this band, aside from Dee Snyder testifying before congress, which definitely upped my respect level. Read More

Vol 4 (1972) by Black Sabbath

Categories: 1972 and Music.

Round about the time the piano opens “Changes,” we start wondering what is going on. Prior to this moment (or, perhaps, prior to “The Straightener”), Black Sabbath was the heaviest band in the entire world. There was no band louder or lower than Sabbath. And then we get a piano ballad backed with a fucking mellotron. Who are they? Zeppelin?!?! Read More

Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (1992)

Categories: 1992.

I have never heard Danzig before and, to the best of my knowledge, never heard Glenn Danzig before (except maybe on some Misfits song, but I think the only version of the band I’ve heard is one without him in it). And there’s something I am having a hard time shaking, which will likely infuriate Danzig fans – does Danzig ever sound like Ian Astbury. Read More

Screaming for Vengeance (1982) by Judas Priest

Categories: 1982 and Music.

Every time I listen to Priest I get a different feeling than I do with their NWOBHM contemporaries (I am not saying Priest is NWOBHM), and that is that they are a little more concerned with selling records. Maybe that’s because Priest were always interested in doing that (I have never heard any of their early albums) but Priest always strikes me as more accessible than Maiden or some of the other bands of this era. There’s just something about them. Read More

Generation Terrorists (1992) by Manic Street Preachers

Categories: 1992 and Music.

What do we do with a record like this? It’s called Generation Terrorists but sounds like it was produced by Mutt Lange or Bob Rock or someone like that. (Well, the production is maybe not that bad.) We have the bizarre amalgam of 80s hard rock (or “cock rock” as some call it) with extremely political lyrics that belong in punk songs. Is the idea to make super accessible and conventional music but to sneak in the lyrics so that young, impressionable youth are converted? I mean, if that’s the goal here, I’m not sure how much it succeeds. How Read More

Fireball (1971) by Deep Purple

Categories: 1971 and Music.

I feel like Fireball perfectly illustrates why Purple are known less than Zeppelin and Sabbath: the playing is excellent (it feels like Blackmore and Lord just keep trying to push each other), Gillan is doing his insane over-singing thing and the record is actually more diverse than you might guess, but the songs aren’t great (though I will say that some of Gillan’s lyrics here are better than some of his lyrics). That’s the problem with this record, that keeps it from being among the great early metal records. They just didn’t write great songs. I will be hard pressed Read More

The Runaways (1976)

Categories: 1976 and Music.

I understand why this is an important record to a lot of people: it’s an all-woman rock band, with a bit of a punky attitude and very much behaving like men (or, at least, not like women were supposed to behave). And I’m sure it’s been hugely influential. But the music isn’t all that great: it’s pretty generic hard rock for its day, with a bit of a punky attitude but which isn’t really matched by the music, and a little too much camp, of the not self-aware variety, for me (particularly in the final track, which basically turns into Read More

Budgie (1971)

Categories: 1971 and Music.

If you watch [i]Metal Evolution[/i] or other documentaries, you will see various major NWOBHM figures claiming they weren’t influenced by punk at all, claiming they hated punk and that punk had literally nothing to do with NWOBHM. That’s not entirely true, but listening to Budgie it’s clearer as to where NWOBHM came from if it didn’t actually come from a combination of punk and the first wave of British heavy metal. Because if there’s such a thing as proto-NWOBHM (that’s a meaningless term there!) then this is it. Budgie sometimes play faster than just about every other British metal band Read More

Nothing’s Shocking (1988) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1988 and Music.

Unlike the follow up, I really like this one. The production’s better, even if the song’s aren’t. (Everything’s a little more raw and unhinged.) Whether you think of this as hard rock or some kind of metal, there was nothing really like this being made in the late ’80s; funkier and way weirder than the Gunners but way louder and cooler than any other mainstream hard rock band at the time (that I’m aware of). I can hear a lot of ’90s rock in this record. And though a number of bands may have done this better, it sure sounds Read More

Rising (1976) by Rainbow

Categories: 1976 and Music.

For some reason, when I first listened to this record, I felt like the keyboards completely dominated it and Blackmore was reduced to a sideman. That’s not true at all, and I have no idea why I had just a hard time hearing Blackmore’s solos when I was casually listening, as they are as great as ever. The music is actually pretty good for this kind of metal too, and maybe Dio’s lyrics are better this time out. But, for whatever reason,, I still prefer the debut. 7/10 Read More

Agents of Fortune (1976) by Blue Öyster Cult

Categories: 1976 and Music.

This is my first exposure to BOC. They’re a weird band. They try to walk a line between almost an Alice Cooper Light kind of ghoulish arena rock and a more serious hard rock band. They’re impressive musicians (I like the lead guitarist particularly, who sometimes sounds like he should be another band) but honestly I cannot tell whether they are a purposively dumb hard rock band, a serious hard rock band, or something else (certainly some of their songs are light and poppy enough that it sounds like they had dreams more of radio play). I think there’s a Read More

Rocks (1976) by Aerosmith

Categories: 1976 and Music.

The first time through this, I didn’t like it as much as Toys in the Attic. Aside from the opening track, there are fewer hits and the songs sounded weaker on the whole. But this is a dirty, perhaps deliberately poorly sounding record. (Listen to the piano on the last track – that piano sounds terrible). At a time when most rock bands were still trying to sound as perfect as possible in studio, and over-rehearsing the shit out of everything, here is a band that sounds messy, unpolished and raw, despite the commercial success of the last record. It’s Read More

High Voltage (1976) by AC/DC

Categories: 1975, 1976, and Music.

AC/DC’s first international release is actually a compilation of music from their first two records, released only in Australia. (Oh, the days when music was that regionalized…) I haven’t heard either of those records, so I don’t know if they did a good job of compiling this, but my guess is they did. This record establishes exactly what has been since: big, simple, sleazy rock music. And, for some reason, I don’t mind the misogyny as much from Bon Scott, perhaps because I think he didn’t know any better, perhaps because this is very much the template for all future Read More

Destroyer (1976) by KISS

Categories: 1976 and Music.

I think you can regard Bob Ezrin as the “Phil Spector of the ’70s”; a man who focused on creating a dense wall of sound. And, though I don’t like this production style, I think it suits certain things. When Ezrin’s style matches the artist’s material, it works wonders (see, for instance, Berlin or The Wall). But when it doesn’t match the material, well…we get something like this. I don’t know what anyone involved was thinking here. I don’t know KISS beyond the singles  (this is the first album of theirs I’ve heard) but, beyond Ezrin’s work with Alice Cooper Read More

Vincebus Eruptum (1968) by Blue Cheer

Categories: 1968 and Music.

For years and years I have been telling everyone who would listen that Jeff Beck’s Truth is the first heavy metal album of All Time. If people mentioned Blue Cheer, I dismissed them outright (despite only ever hearing their cover of “Summertime Blues” once or twice) or assumed that The Jeff Beck Group beat them to it. Well, the latter is obviously not true. RYM calls this “Heavy Psych.” I’ve honestly never heard that term until I looked up Blue Cheer. It’s hard to really decide if this quite qualifies as metal, since metal has changed so much, but also Read More

The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)

Categories: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 2000, and Music.

This is an exhaustive collection of Experience alternate takes, outtakes, alternate mixes and live performances. For the Hendrix completist, it’s probably more essential than any of the other studio rarities collections that have come out, just because it shows off more facets of his playing and his experimentation – unlike those studio rarities collections, which are mostly demos, or those live sets which show him in an altogether different light – than any other set. This is as complete a picture you’ll get of the Experience (and Hendrix himself) outside of the original studio albums plus Band of Gypsies. But Read More

Ritual de lo habitual (1990) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1990 and Music.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I finally got around to listening to this record, but it wasn’t this. That is sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing. But expectations always mess with our appreciation. Hopefully I can get through mine. First of all, I finally understand why Navarro is a guitar hero to a certain generation. I had never understood why before, but had rarely heard him play. Aside from Slash (who is, by the way, much better), I can’t think of another guitar player to embrace classic rock guitar like Navarro does here. That’s pretty Read More

Ritchie Blackmore’s R-A-I-N-B-O-W (1975)

Categories: 1975 and Music.

Rainbow is like a combination of Uriah Heap and Purple. Or, if you prefer, Uriah Heap with a better lead guitarist, a better singer, slightly less ridiculous songs (both a plus and a minus) with better riffs but nearly as ridiculous lyrics. Some stray thoughts: It sounds to me like Blackmore is holding himself back and I don’t know why. Dio is an acquired taste, and I still haven’t acquired it yet, but I can’t deny that this is an influential record and that his approach to both singing and lyric-writing has been incredibly influential. Is “Black Sheep of the Read More

Heaven and Hell (1980) by Black Sabbath

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I’m struggling here, really struggling. I honestly don’t know Sabbath post 1971. I’ve never gotten around to listening to those records because…well, there’s a lot of music in the world. And I’ve been happy enough to listen to the first few albums. So I don’t know what happened to Sabbath in the late seventies. Certainly there seems to be a consensus that they sucked.And I don’t know Dio really. I know the legend of Dio, but I don’t know him. I don’t know Elf, I don’t know Rainbow, I know maybe one song of his from movies (and honestly I Read More

Toys in the Attic (1975) by Aerosmith

Categories: 1975 and Music.

I grew up during Aerosmith’s reunion: I was eight when Pump came out and twelve when Get a Grip was released (which was apparently old enough to stay up to watch that SNL skit pointing out all Aerosmith ballads are the same). My introduction to Aerosmith was therefore Much Music (Canada’s version of MTV) and Wayne’s World 2. When I was young enough, they seemed cool. The older I got, the more like a caricature of the hard rock bands I was slowly discovering they seemed. And then they released “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” which may be Read More

Riley’s Breakup Play List Part 3: The Metal Years

Categories: 2014, Music, and Personal.

Very self-respecting music nerd knows for a fact that the Gunners aren’t truly metal, but I like the title. Despite the overwhelming cheese of many of Axl’s contributions to Use Your Illusion, I find his lyrics have a particular relevance to me at this moment of my life, something I really hadn’t imagined possible previously. And so, here we go: “November Rain” This one is now a few days out of date…(And, not coincidentally, I was just at a football game where they felt compelled to play this because, you know, it was raining in November.) For me, it has Read More

The Dancing Avocado (1969 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is an entertaining early show that mostly works in my mind, save maybe the obligatory drum solo. 5 songs in an hour, which is ridiculous but (mostly) works. They are firing on all cylinders, even during Jones’ equipment trouble, when they just ad lib a jam thing (taking the track, which they never did in studio, to nearly 20 minutes). “Killing Floor” makes you wonder why they didn’t credit “The Lemon Song” to its composers when they are recorded it for the second album later in the year. But as someone else said, details details. Everything is well done Read More

Gladsaxe Teen Club, March 17, 1969 – aired on Danish TV (1969 TV program) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This first ever TV appearance is pretty solid. The whole thing is pretty straigh ahead given, I would assume, they had to keep it short as this was a TV special. The audience is hilariously uninvolved. There are much better later shows, but it’s fun to see the band at a really early stage of their career (this occurred prior to the release of the debut). The orgasm bit is funny. 7/10 Read More

Don’t Mess with Texas (1969?, 1991 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is a pretty strong but very early show featuring excellent versions of material from the debut, including a medley, and a couple covers as well (though obviously some of the “originals” are also covers…). Speaking of the medley, the (very brief) version of “Susie Q” is particularly bizarre (in a good way). Everyone is one their game and the show is generally quite good. It’s a festival slot apparently, so it’s not like they play forever, but that brevity actually serves them well, as there is no insanely long and unnecessary Bonham solo, for example. 8/10 Read More

Mudslide (1971, 1991 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1971 and Music.

This is a pretty strong show – notable for particularly great performances of material from the second album, especially “Thank You”, which can be wussy – but, as someone who has listened to relatively few Zep shows, it’s clear to me that the band improved with time, like a fine wine really. And I find myself generally preferring later, crazier, shows. This is all very professional, and the performance of “Thank You” might be the definitive version, but there are better versions of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and other material out there. Still well worth listening to, though. 7/10 Read More