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Old 12-06-2012, 03:54 PM   #161 (permalink)
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I listened to that album a while back and loved it. It's sound didn't strike me as particularly different or original, but the songs just did what they did so well. And I'm pretty sure that cover was from an old collection of Conan the Barbarian stories. At least it's on one of mine.
The cover is from the Snow Giants and the originality of the album is more in its song choices than the actual songs themselves. Not too many bands would sling an album like this together and have the confidence to pull it off.
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:50 PM   #162 (permalink)
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07. Blue Oyster Cult Blue Oyster Cult 1972 (Columbia)
Hard Rock

An osmosis of dark psychedelia and telescopes.


Overview

I’ve already featured Sir Lord Baltimore and Dust from the NY area and despite these two bands never really achieving any real recognition at the time, it could still be safe to say, that New York was one of the major hubs of the American proto-metal scene of the early 1970s. The arrival of the superbly named Blue Oyster Cult would cement that fact in stone, as finally here was an American band, that would go the distance both creatively and commercially and give us a major US player on the ‘heavy scene’. Almost from the word go, the Blue Oyster Cult were labelled as an ‘American Black Sabbath’ surely in an effort to promote them, but in reality they were quite a different band and didn’t have that much in common with Sabbath at all. The Blue Oyster Cult were essentially a biker band from Long Island, whose sound was based around a heavy jamming psychedelic style infused with R&B. The only thing they really shared with Sabbath, were the pseudo-satanic lyrics and the science fiction themes that the band were interested in, the band also added their own conspirational insights into the lyric pool, and most song compositions were band dominated. In fact the US had another band in Bang (soon to be featured here) that were far more like Sabbath than the Blue Oyster Cult were. A lot of the actual Sabbath connection came from band manager and producer Sandy Pearlman, who had wanted to form an American Black Sabbath, but the band after some initial member shuffling soon evolved into their own distinctive and original style. In fact frontman Eric Bloom was one of the later replacements, taking over from Les Bronstein as the principal vocalist and the band after several name changes and unreleased material finally settled on the Blue Oyster Cult. BOC were blessed with two very gifted front men in Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma, who put the group ethic before individual glory and along with third guitarist Allen Lainier, they helped to create the band’s highly original and murky sound, all of which was supported by the Bouchard brothers on bass and drums. This sound was largely created through the production techniques of Sandy Pearlman, who used layered guitars to create a muddy-ambiguous mix, that lent itself over to repeated listenings, to really be able to fully absorb the dark heavy psychedelia of the band. This album would be seen as another one of the early proto-metal classics of its time.

Eric Bloom- Guitar/Vocals
Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser- Guitar/Vocals
Allen Lainier- Rhythm/Keyboards
Joe Bouchard- Bass
Albert Bouchard- Drums

Production- Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman

Album
Transmaniacon MC
- From the word go, the BOC kick-off with their signature R&B base sound, full of dense sounding guitar and high on lyrical overload, all delivered through the raspy vocals of frontman Eric Bloom and the song focuses on the infamous Altamont concert of 1969. I’m on the Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep- One of the band’s older songs and it’s about Canadian mounties after a fugitive, the song is highlighted by a series of stiff-sounding densely delivered riffs, before finishing up with a late flurry. Then Came the Last Days of May- Starts off as one of the most blues infused tracks on the album and also one of the slowest numbers as well. It’s sung by Buck Dharma who has a very different delivery to that of Eric Bloom and it’s one of the best tracks on the album. Stairway to the Stars- Back to Eric Bloom on vocals and one of the stand-out tracks with its almost cosmic approach. Easily remembered for its hand-clapping sounding section and combined with some great guitar work. Before the Kiss, a Redcap- The second Buck Dharma sang song on the album and a song about barbiturates whilst kissing, the song is all neatly wrapped up with a boogie feel. Screams- Performed by Joe Bouchard and a reference back to the band’s psychedelic roots and again highlighted by some great instrumentals, before the drumming finale leads us into….. She’s as Beautiful as a Foot- One of the softer tracks on the album, which is accompanied by a haunting melody. Cities on Flame with Rock & Roll- The heaviest song on the album and actually sung by Albert Bouchard, with its crunching guitar, great rhythm and slow plodding bass and drums. The later part of the song introduces us into a lighter more frantic section. This might be the definitive track on the album and a real early metal classic. Workshop of the Telescopes- A great swirling track that comes as a welcome respite, after the heaviness of the previous song and is infused with some great choppy guitar moments, and of course it has a great title, it all finishes up with a helicopter type blade sound. Redeemed- A steady reflective track that in many ways serves as a great album closer, the more I hear this the more I seem to love it. As far bonus tracks go, the best original 10 songs were clearly chosen. Of the bonus tracks "Donovan's Monkey" is probably too Doors sounding "What is Quicksand" is a poor song "Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes" is a cover song and "A Fact About Sneakers" is probably the best of the four songs here.

Verdict
The Blue Oyster Cult debut with songs like “Cities on Flame with Rock & Roll” ushered in one of the most important bands in the heavy genre of the 1970s and they were possibly the first real ‘thinking man’s metal band’ if you doubt that check out this or any of their other work. They also never really abandoned their early psychedelic and R&B roots either and throughout this album their musical origins can be noted. Their signature sound of densely layered guitars was laid down by Eric Bloom and Allen Lainier, but it was the crunching guitar of principal guitarist Buck Dharma, that was the most important element of the three guitarists on show and on this album Buck Dharma performs those really stinging sections. These elements along with a potent rhythm section, also offered up a keen sense of melody throughout the album and on tracks like “Transmaniacon MC” “Stairway to the Stars” and “Before the Kiss, a Redcap” all the components of the band play in that densely layered and unified style, but at times the musical sections did break up to offer an easier listening stance, especially on songs like “Then Came the Last Days of May” but where BOC truly came into their own were with their dark musings. Whereas a band like Black Sabbath used their dark musings as a statement and as a lyrical reaction to critics. BOC focused their musings in a more literary and complex manner and in this respect they were so far advanced for their time. Making them one of the most sophisticated of all early hard rock and metal bands. In many ways their early work lyrically reminds us, that the dark side of the 1960s psychedelia movement was still very alive in the early 1970s and I’m certain Jim Morrison from his grave, would have approved of the lyrical content being laid down by the band. In essence BOC were never an overly complex band, but their layered and ambiguous sound, could always lend itself to further examination and scrutiny from the listener! This debut album really ushered in a biker band that really knew how to play and in the Bouchard brothers they had an enviable rhythm section. Frontman Eric Bloom provided the band with enough grit and Buck Dharma as a guitarist had the world at his feet, and his delivery as second vocalist was always something special. But the rhythm guitar of Allen Lainier, may well have been the aspect that gelled the band’s sound together.

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:20 PM   #163 (permalink)
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[B]08. Dust Hard Attack 1972 (Karma Sutra)
Proto-Metal

Progressive proto-metal from "The Big Apple"
Weren't these guys later employed on Molly Hatchet's album covers?
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:10 PM   #164 (permalink)
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Weren't these guys later employed on Molly Hatchet's album covers?
They could've been, but I'd say the Molly Hatchet covers share more with Manowar, as they all seem to feature the power of the male species.
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:25 PM   #165 (permalink)
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(All the rest of the albums for the year were so special, that it was hard at times to seperate them quality wise and on a different day I may even put them into different positions, so here are the top six)


06. Trapeze You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band 1972 (Threshold)
Soft Rock-Hard Rock

Yer baby I’m coming home!


Overview

For many a year, I often thought of this album as a live album, this was largely due to its concert style cover and its album title……which of course all look exactly how I imagined a live album to be. But when I finally got into Trapeze many years later, I quickly found that this was a studio set and in fact their second best studio album after the classic Medusa set (see 1970 list) Since the release of that majestic Medusa album, Trapeze hadn’t released anything in 1971 and they eventually returned on a very strong footing in 1972 with their excellent third album You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band. In many ways I wasn’t actually quite certain if this album actually belonged in the main list, I’m not speaking quality wise here, but more album genre and feel, as a lot of the material is basically softer compositions, that really outweigh the heavier material 2 to 1. The band of course were no strangers to this sound, as on the Medusa album, they had superbly fused in softer elements on several songs, none more so than on “Jury” which serves as a great example of this characteristic on that album. On You Are the Music…We Are the Band, the band don’t really tend to fuse harder and softer elements into the same song, but have gone for the more straightforward approach of a harder number and then a softer number etc, which in many ways makes this album a far more straight-forward effort than the previous Medusa. This album though, would sadly prove to be their last with the classic line-up of Glenn Hughes, Mel Galley and Dave Holland. In the wake of this album, Glenn Hughes would go onto replace Roger Glover in Deep Purple, which was certainly a move by him to hit the big time, which sadly wasn’t going to happen with Trapeze and he would do this at the expense of leaving behind his far more primary and pivotal role in Trapeze. He would of course return briefly for a second stint but by then the spark had been long lost. Trapeze themselves would produce this album, which ended John Lodge of Moody Blues tenure with the band. The album also features some interesting guest-spots from artists such as the B.J Cole, Rod Argent and Jimmy Hastings amongst others.

Glenn Hughes- Bass/Vocals
Mel Galley- Guitar/Vocals
Drums- Dave Holland

Production- Trapeze

Album
Keepin’ Time
- One of the album’s principal rockers and very much a perfect example of the band rocking out, the song has a great funky beat throughout and is a great album opener. Coast to Coast- A slow track that is beautifully penned and a track that suits Glenn Hughes to a T and a real highlight of the album. What is A Woman’s Role?- One of the most soulful tracks ever put out by the band and in many ways reminds me of signature future Toto tune, this is a great song in every aspect and essential. Way Back to the Bone- The fourth great track in a row and we’re in harder rocking territory again and some really great playing by Mel Galley especially in the second half of the track. Feelin’ So Much Better Now- Another good and steady middle album track, that very much sounds like a typical Humble Pie song from the era. Will Our Love End- Another one of the slower tracks on the album, an impressive track that might not have the interest of some of the other softer tracks on the album, as it relies more on basic song structure and accompaniments. Loser- A soulful harder rocking song, which again really highlights the raspy voice of Glenn Hughes on these type of songs. You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band- An instantly recognizable title track, that really has a live feel to it and always reminds me of something that the Doobie Brothers would be doing a few years later.

Verdict
This album sits next to Medusa as the best album that the band ever put out and again is one of those albums that really doesn’t suffer from any weak songs. Medusa takes the podium position of course, but this album can give it a run it to the wire, as this album is truly chock-full with great tracks throughout and as stated above the album can really be divided between its harder rocking and softer tracks. Firstly looking at the softer tracks, these tracks song for song probably come out on top and again serve as perfect examples, of a band that truly know their songcraft when it comes to laying down quality compositions. This can be seen on songs like “Coast to Coast” and “What is a Woman’s Role?” which demonstrate just how special these softer numbers are and really show that Trapeze were masters of this style. The softer tracks were also more suited to Glenn Hughes’s lower-vocal range, better than the harder rocking tracks on the album and on this album his voice seems even more soulful than ever, which lends itself perfectly over to these songs. On Medusa his voice often gave over to a less soulful delivery and often relied more on an abstract style. Secondly, the harder rocking tracks on the album like “Keepin’ Time” and the title track “You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band” really do rock out and are infused with liberal dosages of funk, and are both high on energy. When it comes to the funky sounding harder rocking numbers “Way Back to the Bone” is certainly the killer track on the album as far as I’m concerned! Glenn Hughes, Mel Galley and Dave Holland on You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band, may well have just put out one of the most soulful, funkiest and softest sounding hard rock albums ever recorded!

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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
Metal Wars

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 12-16-2012, 01:04 PM   #166 (permalink)
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(Double Header- When two great albums were released by the same artist within the year, but due to my top 10 criteria I couldn’t fit both without eliminating somebody else. Main album first and the not so strong album second)

05. Uriah Heep Demons and Wizards 1972 (Mercury)
Hard Rock-Progressive Rock

The wizard came and drank my wine.
.

Overview
After their breakthrough on Look at Yourself, Uriah Heep were at their creative height as a band and on that album they had demonstrated their perfect fusion of hard rock and progressive rock all on the same album, sure it had been done before, but not quite to the same level of excellence. The band now took that creative spark and applied it to their next album Demons and Wizards. This album amongst Uriah Heep afficionados consistently ranks up there along with Look at Yourself as their best ever work. Up until now, the mercurial talents of Dave Byron, Mick Box and Ken Hensley had proved to be the backbone of the band, but in the arrival of New Zealander bassist Gary Thain ex Keef Hartley and Ken Hensley’s drumming buddy Lee Kerslake ex Toe Fat, the band had what would now be seen as their definitive line-up. Demons and Wizards would go on to sell more than 3 million copies worldwide and launch Uriah Heep upto the second level of strata in the heavy world, behind the top level which had the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. One of the most interesting things though about Demons and Wizards, was its overtly progressive rock style album cover which was originally presented as a gatefold design for its vinyl release. By using the talents of then very popular artist Roger Dean, who at the time was best known for designing album covers for Yes and later Asia, here was an artist that was well known for his exotic outwardly designs. This album cover certainly demonstrated the band’s interest in both medieval mythology and futuristic themes (a requisite of 50% of prog bands at the time) the album cover also denotes, that the band were also having fun with these themes, as opposed to the more over-serious posture set out by the likes of Yes. Just five months after the release of this album, the band would release their fifth studio album The Magician’s Birthday (reviewed below) and producer Gerry Bron would be on hand to produce both albums.

David Byron- Vocals
Mick Box- Guitar,
Gary Thain- Bass
Ken Hensley- Keyboards/Organ
Lee Kerslake- Drums

Production- Gerry Bron

Album
The Wizard- Starts off with an acoustic guitar before picking up the pace and playing out as a heavy rocker, it’s basically a song about a wandering wizard. Traveller in Time- Opens up with some delightful high-pitched subdued vocals, before again moving into harder territory and featuring some groovy wah-wah style guitar, also great accompanying work by Ken Hensley as always. Easy Livin- The obvious single from the album, it has a galloping pace and swirling organ accompaniment, very much a typical Heep track from this era and along with “The Wizard” were both released as singles. Poet’s Justice- Probably my favourite track on the album and at times reminds me of “Shadows of Grief” the killer track from Look at Yourself, but this is a great song in its own right and shoots around the place for a full 4 minutes. Circle of Hands- A heavy sounding ballad and with a strong gospel feel about it, it’s heavily organ dominated and it’s no surprise that is was solely written by keyboardist Ken Hensley. Rainbow Demon- probably one of the heaviest songs on the album and they're really touching into Deep Purple territory here. All My Life- Almost starts off sounding like a typical Wishbone Ash song, before moving into recognizable Heep territory, it’s a nifty 2 minute plus track. Paradise/The Spell- The longest track on the album (originally presented as two separate tracks, but reviewed here as one long song) as the two tracks work well as a medley finale. The first part starts off like the album opener with an acoustic guitar, before adding more layers and the “Paradise” part of the song ends with some superb singing. The song then enters into the punchier sounding “The Spell” the later part of the medley and after the first few minutes, enters into a more deliberate and well executed section, before the whole song ends up in finishing with that punchy medley feel. On some versions of the album there is the following bonus track “Why” this was originally a b-side and it’s a great example of how b-sides from this era were just as good as their better known a-sides.

Verdict
So how does this album compare to Look at Yourself? Look at Yourself had basically been the band’s crowning achievement, where all the aspects of their unique sound all came together on one album, it had also been a high-energy workout, full of swirling organ which all meshed the band’s hard rock and progressive elements in perfect unison. Demons and Wizards on the other hand is an even more balanced album pace wise, it has the high energy workouts from Look at Yourself with its galloping guitars and swirling organs, but overall the band have gone for creative slower tracks, which are just as progressive in feel and style as the faster tempo material and this time they are even more confidently executed, and on some occasions all these styles meet in one song. Dave Byron’s vocals, also show greater diversity and range and are perfectly cemented into place by both Mick Box and Ken Hensley on guitar and keyboards. The album mixes itself between short rockers such as “The Wizard” and “Easy Livin” and lengthier progressive tracks like “Circle of Hands” and “Paradise/The Spell”. On a song like “Traveller in Time” the band showed that they were masters of condensing the more complex progressive style tracks, down into just three minutes and certainly giving birth to the future pomp-rock sub-genre that would emerge in the 1970s and would be demonstrated by bands such as Queen and Styx. But also contemporary Progressive acts of the time such as Yes were heavily influencing the band, just check out “Circle of Hands” which has a Yes “Starship Trooper” feel to it throughout! Again the stand-out instrument on the album are Ken Hensley’s keyboards which dominate yet again. At times on this album, Uriah Heep touch into territory normally occupied by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Yes. But the beauty of Uriah Heep, is just when they cross the line of sounding like these bands, they quickly deliver us a unique Heep bridge or chorus, just to remind us that this band is Uriah Heep and nobody else. Anybody looking to pick up just a couple of Uriah Heep albums from their prime early to mid 1970s period, should look no further than than Demons and Wizards and their previous release Look at Yourself.



05. Uriah Heep The Magician’s Birthday 1972 (Mercury)
Hard Rock-Progressive Rock

The day of darkness comes to every man.


David Byron- Vocals
Mick Box- Guitar,
Gary Thain- Bass
Ken Hensley- Keyboards/Organ
Lee Kerslake- Drums

Production- Gerry Bron

Album
Sunrise- A power ballad where Mick Box and Ken Hensley alternate their guitar and keyboard to great effect, an ideal album opener. Spider Woman- A song with an infectious chorus and one of the album’s punchy rockers. Blind Eye- A mid-tempo song, clearly written by a band that were churning out quality songs and the whole song if firmly anchored by Gary Thain’s bass. Echoes in the Dark- The most accomplished track on the album, has a superb eerie feel and a great guitar lead is laid down by Mick Box. Rain- A superb piano led ballad, which features some of Dave Byron’s most effective singing ever. Sweet Lorraine- One of the band’s best known songs, highlighted by Ken Hensley using his synthesizer to great effect. Tales- When hearing this song the first thing that comes to mind is just how accomplished it sounds and it's a perfect example of the mid-tempo pace that was being laid down by the band. The Magicians Birthday- A really epic finale track, that starts off as a light-hearted ‘happy birthday’ song, before it kicks into zanier space rock territory and the band put out some stunning guitar jamming and drumming over this progressive 10 plus minutes album closer. The bonus tracks from this album feature numerous outtakes and the real highlight here is "Crystal Ball"

Verdict
The Magician’s Birthday follows straight-on from Demons and Wizards and in many ways the two albums could’ve been a double album release. In fact had it been a double album, it would’ve been one of the best of the decade! The Magician’s Birthday whilst not being as cohesive and solid as Demons and Wizards, still continues strongly with the medieval and futuristic themes that were dominating the band at this time and again the album benefits from Roger Dean’s artwork. The Magician’s Birthday literally follows the creative format of Demons and Wizards, but as said above the songs song for song aren’t as dynamic as on that album, but on the other hand, they are definitely as accomplished as anything on Demons and Wizards! The Magician’s Birthday largely lends itself over to more reflective slower sounding tracks, with typical ballads, power ballads and mid tempo tracks all dominating here, this is certainly in contrast to the higher energy workouts of the previous two albums. Therefore it’s no surprise to find that the best tracks on the album, are largely the slower tracks and on songs like “Blind Eye” “Echoes in the Dark” “Rain” and “Tales” Heep show that they're very much masters of their craft. The distinctive Uriah Heep high-energy sound is found far more fleetingly on this album, but can be easily noted on a song like “Spider Woman” and in “Sweet Lorraine” the band had an obvious single in that song. I would also say, that this album might possibly be Dave Byron’s greatest vocal display song for song on any Uriah Heep album, his vocals are just so good. The Magician’s Birthday ranks as one of the best Heep releases from this their vintage period and in many ways it’s one of those progressive hard rock albums from that period, that lends itself over to being a pre-cursor to the future AOR style that would take the US by storm from the mid-1970s onwards. If Look at Yourself and Demons and Wizards are the best two Uriah Heep albums, then The Magician’s Birthday is the hidden gem that should be sought out, after listening to those two albums.

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 12-20-2012, 04:43 PM   #167 (permalink)
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(Double Header- When two great albums were released by the same artist within the year, but due to my top 10 criteria I couldn’t fit both without eliminating somebody else. Main album first and the not so strong album second)

04. Mott the Hoople All the Young Dudes 1972 (CBS)
Hard Rock-Glam Rock

Glamsters, rockstars and Ziggy on board for the ride!


Overview
Mott the Hoople were one of the great often unsung British bands of the 1970s and quite often never received the credit that they were due. They started out trying to reproduce the music of their heroes Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, but in a harder hitting style and their first two albums the eponymous Mott the Hoople 1969 and Mad Shadows 1970 were a couple of decent albums but nothing special and they didn’t exactly shift many copies either. They were also produced by Guy Stevens who had done a fantastic job on Tons of Sobs the Free debut in 1969. By the time Mott the Hoople got to their third album Wildlife 1971, they had opted to go for a softer feel and produced an album that included country influences and in my opinion it was their best album to date, but yet again the band weren’t shifting too many albums and so by the time of their fourth album Brain Capers, the jury or in this case the record company were pressuring the band to come up with a successful album. Brain Capers would be their best album to date and should’ve been the album that broke them, but it flopped and spelt a possible demise for the band (Brain Capers is reviewed as the second part of the double header) When all looked lost as the band were on the verge of disbanding, a certain David Bowie took an interest in the band and offered to produce their fifth album and help to kick-start their career, by offering them a Bowie written single in “All the Young Dudes” The band would then use this single, to re-launch their fading career along with its parent album which shortly followed. The huge commercial success of All the Young Dudes, would get the band categorized as part of the burgeoning glam-rock movement, which was in full motion in the UK at the time. The band quickly embraced the imagery that went with it and possibly for this reason, the band weren’t taken as seriously as they should’ve been by the music critics, as after all, they weren’t exactly a ‘heavy band’ doing something new here, as the Alice Cooper band were already riding the glam-wagon trail and selling millions of albums with their shock-rock style in the USA. As said above, despite the glam-image that the band portrayed, they were always a hard rock act at heart, despite often flirting with softer leanings from time to time and they were blessed with two amazing frontmen in Ian Hunter and Mick Ralphs, who could easily give Robert Plant and Jimmy Page or Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore a run for their money. I’m not actually comparing the two to any of the above in terms of their style but just in talent. Because in Mick Ralphs they had one of the most accomplished guitarists of his generation who made it look so easy at times and in Ian Hunter they had a vocalist whose ‘bluesy let’s party I’m on drugs kind of voice’ fitted the songs perfectly (he didn’t sound like this all the time though, just some of the time) Mott the Hoople were basically a rock ‘n’ roll band that drove hard, but had fun at the same time and they had an electric live show.

Ian Hunter- Guitar/Vocals
Mick Ralphs- Guitar
Peter “Overend” Watts- Bass
Verden Allen- Keyboards/Organ
Dale “Buffin” Griffin- Drums

Production- David Bowie

Album
Sweet Jane
- The album starts off with a cover of this Velvet Underground song written by Lou Reed. Momma’s Little Jewel- A great song that has a real swagger to it and Ian Hunter penned. All the Young Dudes- Sounds exactly like a typical David Bowie song from the era and Ian Hunter sounds exactly like Bowie here, the song is very much a signature glam-rock classic of the time. Sucker- A great track showing just how accomplished this band were and there’s some great understated guitar by Mick Ralphs on show, who again makes it look so easy. At times this song sounds amazingly like a future Clash track at times! Jerkin’ Crocus- The band in one of their real fun loving moods and the song sounds like a nod at times to the Rolling Stones. One of the Boys- Mott the Hoople again at their finest and very much a definitive sounding song that you'd expect from the band. The song starts off with a phone being dialled before moving into the main song proper and the song really rocks out! Soft Ground- Written and sung by keyboardist Verden Allen and it's a solid listen. Ready for Love/After Lights- Mick Ralphs on vocals here and this is quite simply a glorious song and would later be recorded by Bad Company and gain even greater fame. The later part of the song has some fantastic playing by Mick Ralphs. Sea Lights- The perfect closing track and you now know that you've just listened to a classic album.

Verdict
This album was basically designed to break the band and thanks to David Bowie’s help the band finally achieved that breakthrough that had taken five albums to achieve, sure David Bowie had provided them with the hit single “All the Young Dudes” and had suggested that they covered the Lou Reed penned “Sweet Jane” but the best tracks on this album, are without doubt those penned by the band themselves and most notably those written by Ian Hunter. Anybody listening to this album may think that this album doesn’t belong in the criteria for this list, but Mott the Hoople were thanks to this album, an integral part in hindsight of the ‘heavy movement’ in the UK and helped to forge the link between hard rock and glam rock. The band helped to lay the groundwork for bands like Def Leppard and the future hair-metal movement of the 1980s largely thanks to this album and helped to create an identity at the lighter end of the spectrum with a touch of glam. As for the album itself, as said the Ian Hunter penned tracks are the stand-out cuts. On songs like “Momma’s Little Jewel” “Sucker” and "One of the Boys" it’s obvious that here is a writer on a roll, a writer that has found himself reinvigorated and has a desire to take the opportunity of success that has been laid at his feet. Then of course there is the superb "Ready for Love/After Lights" sung by Mick Ralphs and the song is quite simply a timeless classic. All the Young Dudes is a prime example of Mott the Hoople using the glam-rock scene as a launchpad to make their commercial breakthrough, rather than being an integral part of the scene like David Bowie, Marc Bolan and T.Rex, Sweet, Slade or Mud to name just a few. Whilst other bands played rock ‘n’ roll Mott the Hoople just bled it! The two albums featured here are great examples of that description.



Mott the Hoople Brain Capers 1972 (CBS)
Hard Rock

An earthy dosage of rock 'n' roll, but nobody took notice!
!

Ian Hunter- Guitar/Vocals
Mick Ralphs- Guitar
Peter “Overend” Watts- Bass
Verden Allen- Keyboards/Organ
Dale “Buffin” Griffin- Drums

Production- Guy Stevens

Album
Death May Be Your Santa Claus- Starts off with this pile-driving opener and a song which sets out the tone for the rest of the album. Your Own Backyard- One of the slower songs on the album and despite being a Dion cover, could’ve easily been written by the band. Darkness, Darkness- A cover of the Jesse Colin Young song and a great version of it, it's a song that slowly moves along, before adding in some beefier hard rock parts near the end, it’s a great song and one of the best on the album, it's sung by Mick Ralphs. Journey- Ian Hunter penned and the longest song on the album and a slow moving but powerful rocker, it's a song that really has that epic feel attached to it and amazingly doesn't feel like 9 minutes. Sweet Angeline- A true rocking love song which kicks-off the b-side of the album and one of the band’s most popular tracks. Second Love- Written by keyboardist Verden Allen and a decent but weaker track. Moon Upstairs- The heaviest track on the album and probably the best as well. Starts off with an almost classic metal intro and seriously kicks where it feels nice, it’s a classic cut. Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception- A heavy sounding outro, could easily be part of the previous song.

Verdict
Brain Capers very much was a return to the harder rocking style of the first two albums, after the softer approaches on Wildlife and again demonstrated the band’s Dylanesque influences throughout the album, there were also strong similarities with Lou Reed’s solo material at the time, but of course in a harder rocking style. This album really should’ve broke the group through to the big time and because it didn’t, it largely went and still goes unnoticed as a really great album. This was the band’s fourth album produced by Guy Stevens, whose production touch at the time, really captured band’s in their true element and gave their albums that ‘live’ feel. Most of the songs follow the same formula which may put some listeners off and that usually consists of slow starts with a gradual build-up throughout the songs, and in the process these songs build up the power but not always the tempo, but there is always the sensation throughout, that these are choice songs and built to stand the test of time! The band’s root sound which is based in a Dylanesque mood, are so evident from the word go on the album opener “Death May Be Your Santa Claus” with its pile-driving chords and this sound is also evident on the album’s longest track “Journey” which lasts around the nine minute mark! In “Sweet Angeline” they gave us a great rocking love song that was always a band favourite, but it’s the later album track “Moon Upstairs” that steals the show, the album is worth buying for this raunchy rocker alone. The band would prove on this album and on All the Young Dudes, that they had an amazing capacity of making almost any cover song their own, so much so, that they could’ve passed for Mott the Hoople originals.

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Old 12-24-2012, 06:29 PM   #168 (permalink)
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Album Pick of the Year
03. Night Sun Mournin’ 1972 (Zebra)
Proto-Metal
Kraut metallers that could've set the scene ablaze!


Overview
It’s not often that I put such an unknown album so high up on my listings and this is not because I feel safe with going with the better known stuff either. It’s that I often find from this era, that the better known stuff warrants its lofty position over the lesser known stuff, I mean how many bands at this time were better than Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or Deep Purple? Answer, not too many, but Trapeze and Mott the Hoople though could give them all a run for their money. So when I pre-listed this Night Sun album for such a high position, I knew they were worth it! Night Sun were a four piece German band from Hamburg and they amazingly only put out one studio album and in hindsight aspects of this album, sound like one of the essential listens from the era. They were influenced by the big three bands mentioned above like so many from the period were, but it’s Deep Purple and probably Uriah Heep that were the most influential on them. Firstly there was vocalist Bruno Schaab’s high-flying Gillanesque style screaming, along with a hint of him sounding like a speeded up Robert Plant on some songs and of course there is organist Knut Rossler playing like Jon Lord or Ken Hensley. So if the listener thinks this album is going to be a run-of-the-mill soundalike of any of those bands, then they’re in for a shock, as this band rip-roar their way through proceedings in their own unique style! The album has all the essential ingredients of heavy metal plus additional extras such as an organ and Night Sun played in a similar vein to the Flower Travellin’ Band, meaning that they sounded like they were completely off their rockers most of the time and nobody else sounded quite like them! At this time, there was a real richness of musical talent coming out of Germany both on the heavy scene and the Krautrock movement, two factors which firmly concreted Germany as the most important musical powerhouse after the UK and the USA. The album was produced by Konrad ‘Conny’ Plank who later go on to produce Kraftwerk, but of course Kraftwerk never sounded anything like Night Sun!

Bruno Schaab- Bass/Vocals
Walter Kirschgassner- Guitar
Knut Rossler- Organ
Ulrich Staut- Drums

Production- Konrad Plank

Album
Plastic Shotgun
- A super crazed and frantic sounding intro to the album, that sounds like Deep Purple on speed. Crazy Woman- A song that represents the band in every aspect, with some great riffing between Walter Kirschgassner on guitar and Knut Rossler on the organ, it’s so good it blows speakers! Got a Bone of My Own- With its echoing guitar intro that is reminiscent of a spaghetti western soundtrack, the song emerges into a sledgehammer of a song with heavy progressive overtones and all accompanied by Bruno Schaab’s vocals. Slush Pan Man- Much in the same vein as what has been heard so far and guess what? You now realise that the vocalist is not a native English speaker! Living With the Dying-Starts off with a spoken intro, before we then move into some great sounding proto-metal meets progressive rock and then topped off with a stunning drum solo by Ulrich Staut. Come Down- The only slow track on the album that brings the listener down from the craziness of the first five songs, but as expected it picks up the power towards the end before slowing down again. Blind- Another great song with its kick ass riff which just rolls along, the group make it seem so easy. Nightmare- Another frantic song with a heavy dosage of organ that Jon Lord would’ve been proud of. Don’t Start Flying- A quirky heavy closer and this album is so good that you just want to play it all the way through again!

Verdict
Seldom have I ever seen a non-English speaking heavy band of this era put out such a fantastic debut! Often these bands would take some time to find their feet and then take a couple of albums at least to get things right. Fellow German bands the Scorpions and Accept both come to mind here, but Night Sun found it instantly. Mournin’ along with the Lucifer’s Friend debut, surely ranks as one of the great proto-metal albums ever recorded and it demonstrates that the ‘heavy scene’ in Germany was very much alive and kicking from an innovativation aspect. Night Sun like Lucifer’s Friend before them, were very much influenced by bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep and like Lucifer’s Friend, they had the talent to pull off their own original sound and style rather than just giving us a German copy of these bands. So what’s so special about this album and why should anybody listen to it? Quite simply the singing, the guitar riffs and the crazy organ only sound like Night Sun and nobody else really, only the Flower Travellin’ Band came anywhere near them for being manic and weird! The pace and the overall feel of this album, basically sounds like what a metal band should sound like, as long as you take the organ out of the equation. Night Sun basically sound like a band roughly ten years ahead of their time with the originality of their work, sure they took elements out of other bands, but they reshaped those elements in their own image and gave us a 1970s proto-metal classic, with a combo of faster and mid-paced offerings all wrapped up in a heavy vibrant feel! There is the frantic speed of songs like “Plastic Shotgun” “Nightmare” and “Blind” which set the album alight, but it’s the mid-tempo blasters that make this album something special, these are mid-tempo songs which constantly sound like they’re on the verge of going off the rails and running out of control at any time, and can be heard on “Crazy Woman” and “Got a Bone of My Own” and they’re a couple of real heavy muthas, in fact “Got a Bone of My Own” is a blistering song and one of the best from the era! In further terms of metal characteristics, the spoken intro on “Living With the Dying” pre-dates spoken sections on metal songs by a number of years and then treats us to a blazing drum solo near the end! This album though is not just about metal, but sneaks in other things, such as the deliberate sloppiness of “Slush Pan Man“ and then on the slow “Come Down” the band show us that they had mastered the art of whining, long before Radiohead ever came up with the idea! This album is a gem that hardly registered a blip on the radar at the time. But has unsurprisingly gone on to be regarded as a cult-classic from the era, miss it at your peril.

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Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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02. Black Sabbath Black Sabbath Vol.4 1972 (Vertigo)
Heavy Metal
Drug crazed eyes that were blind, but they could still see!


Overview

Whenever I think of the Black Sabbath discography, their fourth album Vol.4 stands as their most interesting release and in many ways also their most accomplished set. At the time of its release, the band were at the zenith of their powers and also the legendary drug consumption of the band was at its most extreme as well and both these factors were clearly evident on the direction that this album took. Being commercially huge always gives a band a free reign to try and branch and maybe trying to do something different, Led Zeppelin were a prime example of this on their Led Zeppelin III album. Now when a band is heavily overloaded on drugs, this normally ends up with two different recording outcomes for the band, this is either a highly inventive set of songs with real creativity or just a pile of garbage of misfocused songs, luckily Black Sabbath fell into the first category with Vol.4. Also the recording of the album, possibly saw the first signs of discontent by some of the band members towards each other and it was especially drummer Bill Ward that seemed most under fire at this time. He was blamed on a couple of occasions for not nailing down songs as he should’ve done and actually feared that he would be fired from the band! As for the album, Vol.4 would be the most interesting and most varied work that the classic Sabbath line-up would ever put out. The brooding feel of Master of Reality, now gave way to a more mainstream sound albeit with a hazy druggy feel, but the heaviness of Master of Reality would certainly be matched on Vol.4, which despite not having the brutal heaviness of that album, would rely more on melodic tones and riffs for its core sound. Vol.4 would also prove to be far more varied than Master of Reality, whose only varied moments had come in the way of some predictable gentler moments in between the main songs. Vol.4 would now go for a much wider approach. This would also be their first studio album to be recorded outside the UK, as the band took their full entourage to Los Angeles for the recording of this album and producer Patrick Meehan was on hand to produce the band, after previous producer Rodger Bain had parted ways with the Birmingham foursome.

Ozzy Osbourne- Vocals,
Tony Iommi- Guitar
Geezer Butler- Bass
Bill Ward- Drums

Production- Patrick Meehan

Album
Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener
- With a brief intro almost befitting Led Zeppelin, Tony Iommi quickly kicks-in with a typical Sabbath riff and the song now moves into a complex 8 minute monster of a song, with Tony Iommi playing some of his most technical stuff and Ozzy’s vocals almost taking on a more independent feel. The song then moves into the final part of the composition, which is ‘The Straightener’ part of the song and this is an instrumental deluxe in every sense. Tomorrow’s Dream- One of the most accessible tracks on the album, but at the same time has that hazy druggy feel and you know this track is just so influential on future acts. Changes- A piano and mellotron based love-song, that is a complete breath of fresh air on the album. FX- A short instrumental interlude which twangs and echoes its way through. Supernaut- One of the most famous songs the band ever wrote with its dominant and heavy riff which resonates throughout the song, this is song that was always destined to be a single. Snowblind- This is a classic song in every way, it has everything unique about the plodding Sabbath sound and eventually moves into more reflective sounding territory, and has Ozzy’s vocals and Tony Immoi’s guitar at their very best. Cornucopia- Might be one of the more predictable tracks on the album and certainly not one of the strongest, but does have a redeeming riff throughout. Laguna Sunrise- A soft instrumental interlude and I’m sure you get the picture here of what to expect. St.Vitus Dance- The band at their most upbeat and its songs like this, that often categorise this album as one of their least dark and brooding efforts. Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes- With its dinosaur heaviness, the song gradually moves into more varied territory and in many ways mirrors the album's opening track for its progressiveness and creativity, it ends like only a classic Sabbath album can end!

Verdict
Once upon a time Black Sabbath in their early days, would put out lengthy songs that screamed of filler as they sought to pack those songs out. On Vol.4 they have no such problem and on the album opener "Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener" they fill those eight minutes out just as well as anybody else, in some ways even better, because the opening track on this album is a quite simply a stunner. As is “Snowblind” this is quite simply a song composed by a band on the top of their game and just basically tells the competition to fuck off, it also shares the album openers musical ambition as well! Now not all the songs pull off that ambition “Cornucopia” in essence has that ambition, but ends up being a track of missed opportunities, then there is the gentleness of “Laguna Sunrise” whose sound has already been used up on Master of Reality. But all is surely saved with the album closer "Under the Sun/Every Day Comes and Goes" which basically sounds like Godzilla is strolling on down the hallway and letting everybody know that he’s still the boss! The already mentioned hazy and trademark druggy sound constantly echoes throughout this album, even on a more accessible track like "Tomorrow’s Dream", which surely served as a blueprint for the future Chris Cornell and Soundgarden sound, and it's really heightened by that murky sound. Now things don’t get any more accessible than “Supernaut” with its almost instantly identifiable riff and usually ranks as one of the band’s most lauded songs and you surely couldn’t get any more diverse and accessible as “Changes” a love song that any leading band at the time, would have been proud to have called their own, it’s a memorable track in every way…..but could’ve done with being about a minute shorter! Then there is the almost space rock instrumental interlude of “FX” hey man….we’re fucking high now! The whole album is underpinned yet again by the amazing rhythm section of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, despite the fact that Bill Ward did have some well documented trouble nailing some of the songs down! Overall the album is a varied stellar effort despite having one or two weaker tracks, thus making it not the easiest album to categorize in the Sabbath canon. Their debut ushered in a forbidden dark jewel, Paranoid as far as I’m concerned is still their very best, Master of Reality their darkest but Vol.4 may have been their boldest statement! (the future Sabbath Bloody Sabbath of course ranks right up there as well and is reviewed in the 1973 list.) Vol.4 is a mid-paced and plodding heavy metal classic, that quite simply belongs in any respectable metal collection, if you don’t own this then shame on you, go get your arse down to your local record store.

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Metal Wars

Power Metal

Pounding Decibels- A Hard and Heavy History

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Old 12-29-2012, 04:31 AM   #170 (permalink)
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Jeff Beck
Truth 1968

This is a must listen to album, amazing atmosphere and guitar work by Jeff Beck, and Rod Stewart sounds nifty as well.
Great choice as Beck often gets overlooked. This song fvcking rules.
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