The 25 Best Loud Rock Albums of the 70s

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I often joke that I went from being Eddie Punk to Eddie Trunk, but that seems about right. A decade ago, I was this punk rock guy, who “hated Pink Floyd” and all other progressive rock, hard rock, and heavy metal (except, of course, for Motörhead, who it’s debatable what side of the rock fence they even fall on), resurrecting the tired belief that somehow lousy musicianship is virtuous, while good musicianship is a way for you to say you’re better than your audience.

But then, something changed. Motörhead led me to Hawkwind. Hawkwind was one of John Lydon’s favorite bands, along with Alice Cooper, Can, and Van der Graaf Generator, and later it turned out that John Lydon didn’t hate Pink Floyd after all. That was just a put on! In fact, he and Roger Waters are buddies, who hang out together from time to time, or so I’ve read. On top of that, like a lot of punks, I got into doom metal thanks to this band called Pentagram, who all of a sudden got kinda popular thanks to the release of a bunch of their early demos. That of course led me right to Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and any other band that could be labeled as heavy rock or proto-metal; and, since much of that came from or crosses over with psychedelia and progressive rock, well, you can figure out the rest.

Now I’m obsessed with the 70s. I picture myself as the teenager with long hair and mutton chops, wearing my denim vest, bell bottoms, and Dr. Who t-shirt, coming home from a drive-in theater, that just showed The Brotherhood of Satan, to sit in a wood paneled basement, that has Frank Frazetta, Ken Kelly, and Boris Vallejo posters on the wall, and play Dungeons & Dragons or Pong, watch old horror movies or Star Trek reruns on a black and white TV, or read Creepy, EerieVampirella, or Castle of Frankenstein magazines or Conan or Michael Moorcock paperbacks, while smoking a bowl, and having Blue Öyster Cult, Black Sabbath, or Alice Cooper playing in the background. Ah, yeah, good ol’ 70s fantasy…

70s loud rock is, of course, any rock music that came out in the 70s and is loud. That’s the only criteria. It can be basic, three chord glam rock, super complicated progressive rock, standard hard rock, early heavy metal, or bluesy Southern rock; just as long as it’s loud, and it’s rock. And, though I do like Yes, Pink Floyd, and many other progressive rock bands, many of them don’t qualify as loud rock, since they don’t use enough loud, distorted guitars. Got it?

Some bands I never even thought about including, but people probably think I should, are Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Queen, Rush, Aerosmith, Bad Company, Free, the Who, and Van Halen.

Some bands I thought about including, but just could not find a space for, are Cactus, Bloodrock, Captain Beyond, Sir Lord Baltimore, Warhorse, Humble Pie, James Gang, Jerusalem, Jericho, Josephus, Grand Funk Railroad, Status Quo, Montrose, Mountain, Trapeze, Leaf Hound, Hard Stuff, Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun, Elias Hulk, Zior, Spooky Tooth, Suck, Bang, Buffalo, Coloured Balls, Buster Brown, Rose Tattoo, Quartz, Horse, Fuzzy Duck, Jethro Tull, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Armageddon, Dust, Pink Fairies, Widowmaker, Blues Creation, the Flower Travelin’ Band, Elf, Toad, and Eloy.

With that said, here are my top 25 loud rock albums of the 70s:

25. Slade – Slayed? – Polydor – 1972

Before Kiss, the New York Dolls, and AC/DC, there was Slade, who, in a rock world that was becoming increasingly dominated by arty progressive rock bands, gleefully played deliberately “stoopid”, basic rock songs, that consist of blocky, distorted major chords, bouncy 4/4 beats, and big, singalong choruses. Their music was designed to be played on the jukebox at the local pubs that the blokes would go to after a long, hard day at the factory. Or, as the opening couplet at the beginning of “The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazee” says, “I say we all get our kicks playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band/there’s nothing like the feeling when you give it all you’ve got/and people wanna shake you by the hand.” Yep, unlike Kiss, who borrowed a thing or two from Slade and boasted about private planes and limousines, guitarist/singer Noddy Holder, lead guitarist Dave Hill, bassist Jim Lea, and drummer Don Powell just wanted a handshake and possibly a pat on the back for bringing the people some rock ‘n’ roll. Why didn’t they become more popular in the U.S. like AC/DC? Not enough dick jokes? On their previous album, Play It Loud, Slade dressed like skinheads. But when glam happened, they grew their hair out, replaced the Doc Martins with platform boots, put on ridiculous costumes, such as Hill’s “Super Yob” suit and Holder’s Mad Hatter costume, and scored a hit with their double live album Slade Alive!. It’s also funny to note how, in the androgynous and graceful world of glam, Slade came off like a big, clumsy gorilla; there is NOTHING androgynous about Slade. Slade would release a lot of great albums, not to mention a movie, but the album I think that truly encapsulates their raison d’etre is Slayed?, the one where all ten song titles are spelled wrong on the back; one of those is of course “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, which is the second Slade song to be covered by Quiet RiotThe first is “Cum on Feel the Noize”, which is not on Slayed?, but on their next LP, a singles collection called Sladest. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that the originals are better.

24. New York Dolls – New York Dolls – Mercury/Polygram 1973

Gene Simmons astutely pointed out that the Rolling Stones, the New York Dolls, and Aerosmith all pretty much do the same thing. Ya know, they all have the pouty lipped, effeminate lead singer, who prances around onstage, doing his exaggerated, limp-wristed, girly movies, and the lead guitarist, who acts like he don’t care ’bout nuthin’ man, commanding all of the audience’s attention, while the rhythm guitarist, bassist, and drummer function as the group’s metronome. Of course, the Dolls also wore gobs of makeup and thrift store rags, making them look like cheap New York street whores, and were supposed to be the big, “break-out” group from New York’s glitter/glam scene, which also included Kiss, Twisted Sister, Joey Ramone’s pre-Ramones band, Sniper, and a bunch of bands you’ve never heard of, like the Brats, the Planets, Luger, and Street Punk. However, while middle America could embrace an Alice Cooper, with his snakes and guillotines, and Kiss, with their over the top, Kabuki style make up and science fiction costumes, the Dolls were just a little too… gaaaa… girly. So, they made two albums, New York Dolls and Too Much too Soon, and fell apart. Like Kiss and Slade, the Dolls played basic, three-chord rock, throwing in copious amounts of Chuck Berry/Keith Richards style guitar leads for good measure; except, of course, not on “Lonely Planet Boy”, which is an acoustic number. But, unlike those other two bands, they eschewed the big, easy to remember choruses and celebratory feel, for a less overt pop song structure and tales of the shady characters they encountered on the streets of New York. David Johansen sounds like a “street” Mick Jagger, singing about personality crises, gloomy kids shooting up dope, lonely planet boys, Vietnamese babies, outcasts who think of themselves as Frankenstein, trash, bad girls, subway trains, and jet boys. And their cover of “Pills” by Bo Diddly, with its “rock ‘n’ roll nurse” motif, perfectly fits within their hardened worldview. Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that New York Dolls was produced by Todd Rundgren, who apparently wasn’t very fond of the group, or that Malcolm McLaren managed the Dolls before he managed the Sex Pistols, or that lead guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan started pioneering early punk band the Heartbreakers.

23. Judas Priest – Rocka Rolla – Gull- 1974

Like the Scorpions, UFO, and Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest began as something rather different from what they became more widely known for; which is, of course, helping create the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with aggressively fast metal songs, that consist of “chugga-chugga” riffs, blazing lead guitar solos, and comic book-inspired science fiction and horror lyrics; okay, and the occasional homosexual dog whistle (yeah, I didn’t know what a “Jawbreaker” was until I googled it either). But, before all that, Judas Priest was a Zeppelin-inspired heavy rock band, that came from Birmingham, England, the same working class, factory city from which Black Sabbath are from. By the time they released Rocka Rolla, their debut LP, which was produced by Roger Bain, who also did the first three Sabbath albums, along with a couple of Budgie LPs, 4/5 of their classic lineup was in place (the drummer position would always be in flux). Before adopting the studs and leather from the gay clubs, singer Rob Halford, who sounds considerably calmer on Rocka Rolla, than he would on later Priest albums, lead guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, bassist Ian Hill, and, in the case of their first album, drummer John Hinch looked like a typical, post-hippie, 70s rock band, with all their scarves and rags, like they’re some traveling group of rock ‘n’ roll Gypsies or something. Just LOOK at Rob Halford with that long hair that goes down to his ass and K.K. Downing with that hat, which makes him look like a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Isn’t that funny? Rocka Rolla has seven tracks, one of which is a ten minute, multi-part suite, and another, which is a soft ‘n’ pretty instrumental piece called “Caviar and Meths”, that I guess was supposed to be longer before Roger Bain took liberties with it. “Run of the Mill” is an eight minute long, somber ballad; the Sabbath-y “Dying to Meet You” is an anti-war song, that has a galloping second part, that sounds too happy for the subject matter at hand; and “One for the Road”, “Rocka Rolla”, and “Never Satisfied” deliver the bluesy, heavy rock goods. Judas Priest, however, no longer do.

22. MC5 – Back in the USA – Atlantic – 1970

I’m still not totally sure why MC5 gets lumped in with punk rock. It can’t be because of their music, can it? Their first album, Kick Out the Jams, sounds like Blue Cheer, who are pretty pummeling, but nobody calls them punk. Their third album, High Time, sounds like Grand Funk Railroad. And it certainly can’t just be because of their leftist, “revolutionary” politics, something that they magically adopted overnight when they hired manager and “spiritual adviser” John Sinclair to help sell their loud and heavy brand of rock to the hippies. Can it just be because of their assholish behavior, like when they wrote a “fuck you” letter in some underground newspaper to the Hudson’s department store for not carrying Kick Out the Jams because of the use of the word “motherfucker” at the beginning of the song “Kick Out the Jams”, signing it with the logo of their record label, Elektra, causing Hudson’s to no longer carry Elektra product and getting the group tossed off the label? Jim Morrison acted pretty obnoxious, and nobody calls the Doors a punk band. On top of that, the members of the MC5 were “disowned” by the “revolution” when their next label, Atlantic, bought every member of the group a new sports car. Some Communists they turned out to be, with their love of burgers and American muscle cars! Granted, singer Rob Tyner, lead guitarist Wayne Kramer, rhythm guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson were against the Vietnam war, as they so blatantly express in the rave up “The American Ruse”, but what band at the time wasn’t? And even if they had anti-war or even leftist views, punk rock wasn’t some left wing hippie movement in the first place. It was about writing short, catchy rock ‘n’ roll songs with sick, disgusting subject matter; at least until the Clash tried to ruin it with their Marxist bullshit. So, what makes MC5 “punk” or even “proto-punk”? Beats me. The songs on Back in the USA are short, punchy, and fast, and, with 11 of them, the album clocks in at a brisk 28 minutes, which is a stark departure from the heavy, psychedelic, bluesy metal of Kick Out the Jams. It opens with a cover of the Little Richard classic “Tutti Frutti”, closes with a cover of the Chuck Berry classic “Back in the USA”, and has nine killer, catchy cuts in between. One of those is “Looking at You”, which the band originally recorded for their first single in 1967 and was later covered by the Damned. Another is the Fred “Sonic” Smith sung, acoustic/electric pop rock of “Shakin’ Street.” Another is “The Human Being Lawnmower”, which has a whole bunch of parts and changes in the span of two and a half minutes. And another is the “I formed a rock ‘n’ roll band to get pussy” anthem “Teenage Lust”, which has this classy verse: “then one day I had the perfect plan/I’ll shake my ass and sing in a rock ‘n’ roll band/from now on, there’ll be no compromising/’cause rock ‘n’ roll music is the best advertising.” Yeah, THAT’S really progressive, eh? I also like the fun hand claps in “Call Me Animal.” The album even has a ballad called “Let Me Try”, which I often skipped when driving in my car because it’s not short and fast like the other songs, even though it’s still good. And there are a few others as well that I quite enjoy.  But, hoo boy, when I lived in Grand Rapids, I listened to Back in the USA in my car a LOT. I mean a lot lot. “Back in the USA” would end, and “Tutti Frutti” would start, and I’d just listen to Back in the USA over and over and over again on loop. And I suggest you do the same.

21. Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent – Epic – 1975

I think it’s absolutely appalling that any time a person mentions that he likes Ted Nugent, he has to preface it with, “but I don’t agree with his views!” Like, so? You don’t hear people doing that when they talk about Crass or the Dead Kennedys, so why do they have to give disclaimers for liking the Nuge? Since when did your voting record prevent you from enjoying the killer guitar playing in “Stranglehold”? It’s times like these that make me want to go back to the 70s, when you could enjoy music without worrying about explaining yourself. Anyway, Ted Nugent is the excellent debut solo LP from guitar slingin’, Motor City madman Ted Nugent, who had recently dropped the Amboy Dukes moniker, yet kept Dukes bass player Rob Grange alongside him, and recruited lead singer and second guitarist Derek St. Holms and drummer Cliff Davies. The aforementioned “Stranglehold” is quite the guitar workout, and for someone who claims to be a clean livin’ man, he sure provided a helluva soundtrack to smoke some ganja to, with that pulsating bass, that seems as though it’s mixed louder than the guitar, and all those “wah-wah” effects, especially during the lengthy, jammy part. After “Stranglehold”, the album goes into “full-on” rock mode with “Stormtroopin'”, a clarion call for the second amendment if there ever was one, the ballin’ boogie rock anthem “Hey Baby”, a few more catchy and energetic rock tunes, and the incredibly fast and punky “Motorcity Madhouse.” Though, I’ve always wondered, who ARE the “Snakeskin Cowboys”?

20. Scorpions – Taken by Force – RCA – 1977

Can you believe that the Scorpions have been around since 1965, seven years before they released their heavy, psychedelic, progressive rock debut, Lonesome Crow, which was produced by Kraut rock pioneer Conny Plank and features Michael Schenker, younger brother of rhythm guitarist Rudolph Schenker, on lead guitar? Some may be shocked that I chose Taken by Force as my favorite Scorpions album instead of Lonesome Crow, but hey! The other surprising thing about the Scorps is that there exists that group of people, myself included, that loves the bejeezus out of the Uli Jon Roth era of the group’s career; before they transitioned into an international, arena rock sensation with hit singles that you are all well of aware of. Don’t get me wrong; Lovedrive, on which Michael Schenker briefly returned to play on a couple of tracks, Animal MagnetismBlackout, and Love at First Sting are great albums, but this earlier stuff has that gritty 70s hard rock feel, that only a seeming lack of commercial ambition could produce. Just listen to the mean and angry riffs on “The Sails of Charon” or the headbanging, metallic crunch of “He’s a Woman – She’s a Man”, and you’ll see what I mean. I was going to congratulate the album for not having a single ballad, but then I forgot about the closing track, “Born to Touch Your Feelings”, which is a seven minute long ballad, and has a bunch of broads talking over each other in different languages. I guess better one ballad, than the FIVE that are on In Trance. Also, Taken by Force doesn’t have a picture naked little girl on the cover.

19. Uriah Heep – …Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble – Vertigo – 1970

If there’s one band that exemplifies what people find funny about 70s rock, then of course, it’s Uriah Heep.  Like Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser of Blue Öyster Cult, Uriah Heep singer David Byron has a sleazy, cocaine snorting, porno star mustache, and a voice that is only slightly less wussy than that of Jon Anderson of Yes. But, if I actually did have a problem with David Byron’s singing, then I wouldn’t have included Uriah Heep on this list. And, of course, I could have picked the obvious choice, Demons and Wizards, as their best album, as it is quite good, and it would have put two albums with a Roger Dean cover on this list, but I chose their first LP, …Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble, instead. In the States, …Very ‘eavy … Very ‘umble was released with the title of Uriah Heep, and had the awesome, crushing heavy number “Bird of Prey”, an alternate recording of which would lead off the group’s next LP, Salisbury, replace the ass boring “Lucy Blues”; but even with two songs that I’m not particularly fond of – the other being “Come Away Melinda” – on the British release, there’s still plenty of hard rock, heavy metal, and progressive rock to enjoy. On opening cut “Gypsy” and on second to last track “I’ll Keep on Trying”, guitarist Mick Box plays the crunchy riffs and solos, while Ken Hensley makes a bunch of noise with his Hammond organ, and Byron sings the lyrics in his over the top, melodramatic way, complete with “ah-ah-ah-ah”‘s. The songs “Walking in Your Shadow”, “Dreammare”, and “Real Turned On” are bluesy heavy rock guitar workouts, that have Hensley joining box on slide guitar. Although, I will say that, “Dreammare” does seem far too happy to be about a man that’s being haunted by demons, and it would have made more sense for the lyrics of “Dreammare” to be matched with the “scary” minor note music of “I’ll Keep on Trying.” That’s of course a minor complaint. The final track, “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)”, is also kind of odd, in that it’s a jazzy prog tune, that sounds like some sort of protest song, with lyrics about “standing up for your rights” and to “stop this killing.” But it’s still a good jam, and at the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters?

18. Mott the Hoople – Mott – Columbia – 1973

Ian Hunter is David Bowie without the arty pretenses. Now, before you say, “hey, asshole, David Bowie wrote ‘All the Young Dudes’, and without him, blah blah blah…” Shaddup, I KNOW without David Bowie’s help, Mott the Hoople would have broken up and languished in obscurity, only to be discovered years later by geeky collectors such as myself, but isn’t that kinda what happened anyway? Who really talks about ’em, other than, I dunno, Rodney Bingenheimer when reminiscing about the early/mid 70s Sunset Strip scene, where guys dressed like girls, thinking that that would get the girls? Anyway, Mott the Hoople perform big, glammy rock ‘n’ roll, that alternates between Elton John-style boogie-woogie (opening track “All the Way from Memphis” and the appropriately titled “Honaloochie Boogie”), hard rock (“Whizz Kid”, “Violence”, “Drivin’ Sister”, and “I’m a Cadillac”), and power ballads (“Hymn for the Dudes”, the also appropriately titled “Ballad of Mott the Hoople”, and album closer “I Wish I Was Your Mother”), but with the added elements of saxophone, backup vocals, and piano, so their music has that nostalgic, 1950s, theatrical feel. They should have done the soundtrack for Phantom of the Paradise. Like Bowie and Marc Bolan, Ian Hunter sounds thoroughly British. Like Elton John, he’s a piano playing lead singer. And unlike Bowie, he writes good songs. BURN. Okay, I like some Bowie songs, including the one he wrote for Hoople, but I still think his “meh” songs outnumber his “hell yeah” songs. Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that, after Mott the Hoople broke up, guitarist Mick Ralphs started Bad Company.

17. Rainbow – Rising – Polydor – 1976

I still consider Rising, the second Rainbow album, to be Ronnie James Dio’s career masterpiece. The ingredients were just there. I wouldn’t consider it Ritchie Blackmore’s masterpiece because of all the albums he’s done with Deep Purple. But for Dio, who was a small man with a big voice, I consider it to be the best thing he’s ever laid his vocals to. The first Rainbow album isn’t bad; featuring the classic “Man on the Silver Mountain.” But with Rising, the combination of Blackmore’s riffs and leads, Dio’s powerful and somewhat melodramatic singing, Tony Cary’s prominent, but not overpowering synthesizer swooshes (except on “Stargazer”), and the new rhythm section of bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Cozy Powell, Rainbow created a fantasy metal classic to satisfy one’s unashamedly nerdy Renaissance/Dungeons & Dragons obsessions. On top of that, I looove the Ken Kelly cover art, hooee! At 33 minutes, and with six songs, it’s a little short. But, short length and small song count is beside the point when you have material like “Tarot Woman”, with its minute long Moog intro and “welcome to the fair” mystique; or the “scary” and “demonic” “Sign of the Wolf”; or the mystical wizard anthem “Stargazer.” And the best is saved for last; closing track “A Light in the Black” is proto-Judas Priest, epic speed metal, that pre-dates the New Wave of British Heavy Metal by a couple of years, and features the kind of progressive/classical guitar solo that would become a staple of Iron Maiden songwriting. The two other songs, “Starstruck” and “Do You Close Your Eyes”, are straight-forward hard rock, but no worse for it. After a live album, On Stage, and another studio album, the also very good Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll, Dio would be off to spread his demons, wizards, swords, and sorcery message in Black Sabbath.

16. Nazareth – Razamanaz – A&M – 1973

Here is another band that’s criminally underrated thanks to the radio only playing their two most popular songs. The fact is that Scottish hard rock legends Nazareth released a series of really great records, leading up to and past their big, commercial breakthrough Hair of the Dog. My favorite is their third, Razamanaz, which among other things, was produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover and features covers of Leon Russell’s “Alcatraz” and Woodie Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man”, both of which are better than their originals, since their originals weren’t being pumped through loud Marshall stacks. I know that seems rather superficial because a good song is just a good song, but Nazareth understand how to adapt the music of folky, bluesy, singer-songwriter people to the hard rock format, and singer Dan McCafferty belts out the lyrics in that tough, yet melodic way, which shows just how much a really good singer can affect how a song sounds. No diss on Leon Russell, mind you, whose version is a very good piece of country blues honky-tonk. On “Vigilante Man”, along with the humorous boogie rock tunes “Woke Up This Morning” and “Bad Bad Boy”, guitarist Manny Charlton shows off his bluesy, bottleneck slide guitar skills. Then you have the rippin’, opening cut, “Razamanaz”, the similarly rippin’ “Too Bad too Sad”, the Bo Diddly jungle beat in “Night Woman”, the dark, demonic, and scaaaaaary “Sold My Soul” (“So I cried in desperation/bowed to evil sorcery”), and the bittersweet album closer “Broke Down Angel.” I don’t know if anyone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that the Meatmen covered “Razamanaz.”

15. Motörhead – Motörhead – Chiswick – 1977

As of this writing, it would have been four days short of two years since Lemmy passed away; that is, only four days after his 70th birthday. But, ohhhh, what a legacy he left behind! I think I can safely call myself a hardcore Lemmy fan, owning just about everything he did, from his stuff with the Rockin’ Vickers, his LP with Sam Gopal, the pair of records he did with the Headcat, and of course every Hawkwind and Motörhead album. Anyone who knows the Motörhead story knows that they recorded a full length LP prior to Motörhead called On Parole, that didn’t actually come out until 1979, four years after it was recorded, and featured original guitarist Larry Wallis, who came from the Pink Fairies and briefly played in UFO. But, on the Motörhead LP, the classic lineup – Lemmy on bass and lead vocals, Fast Eddie Clarke on guitar and backup vocals, and Philthy Animal Taylor on drums – was in place, and ready to play loud, fast, heavy, blues based rock. The CD version of Motörhead has five extra tracks, but we don’t grade on curves, and thankfully the eight songs that make up the original Motörhead LP are just as good as the bonus material. All three songs that Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind are on Motörhead, along with several new songs, that were co-written with Clarke and Taylor, and a cover of the blues standard “The Train Kept A-Rollin'”, which pummels the daylights out of both the Yardbirds and Aerosmith versions. After listening to the opening track, “Motorhead”, it’s easy to see why punks took to the group in spite of their shaggy manes and seemingly outdated Hell’s Angles attire; the album continues with the punky “Vibrator”, which is sung from the first perspective of a vibrator. But then the album moves into slower, bluesier material like “Iron Horse/Born to Lose”, “White Line Fever”, and “Keep Us on the Road”, the last of which has a killer bass solo. Overall, it’s not my favorite Motörhead LP, since the best was yet to come, but as a cult heavy rock album, that was released amidst the burgeoning punk scene, it delivers the goods.

14. Deep Purple – Deep Purple in Rock – Warner Bros. – 1970

It took me a lotta soul searching and coin flipping to decide between whether to include Deep Purple in Rock or Machine Head on this here list, but the Gods have made their decision, and they’re sticking with it. Probably has something to do with the fact that I’ve heard “Highway Star” and “Smoke on the Water” a few too many times in my life, while …in Rock contains seven lesser known cuts, that are just as good as, if not better than, those two overplayed tunes. Do I consider the upper tempo, crunchy, down-strummed, power chord rocker “Flight of the Rat” to be proto-thrash? “Fireball”, the title cut from their next album, most certainly is. In general, though, Deep Purple have re-invented themselves has a heavy rock band, whose guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and Hammond organ playing keyboardist Jon Lord are foils of each other, while singer Ian Gillan shouts over the din, and bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice pound out aggressive, yet groovy beats. Deep Purple in Rock is sorta like Deep Purple’s second debut album. Having been around since 1968 and releasing three LPs – Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn, and Deep Purple – with original singer Rod Evans and original bassist Nick Simper, those two were told to take a hike, upon which, Evans formed Captain Beyond, and Simper joined Warhorse, and they were replaced by Gillan and Glover,who came from a psychedelic rock band called Episode Six, whose keyboardist and singer was this really hot chick named Gloria. Deep Purple then did a live album with an orchestra, appropriately titled Concerto for Group and Orchestra, heard Led Zeppelin, and went the heavy route. The album starts with a cacophony of random guitar and Hammond organ licks, almost as if to say, “we’re cleansing our pallets and starting anew!”, before the first crunching, distorted chord of “Speed King” comes crashing down, and Ian Gillan starts shouting a bunch of “good golly, Miss Molly”‘s and “tutti frutti’s” all over the riff; then the song calms down a bit, and Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore trade of improvised solos, as if their instruments are talking to each other. It’s neat! The somber, ten minute, anti-war epic “Child in Time” became a fan favorite, but what the heck is “Living Wreck” about? “You came along for a weekend/but you only stayed for one night/you pulled off your hair/you took out your teeth/Oh I almost died of fright.” Eek! On the other hand, the galloping, heavy metal closing track “Hard Lovin’ Man” appears to be about sex, though you can never be quite sure.

13. King Crimson – Red– Atlantic – 1974

I’m not one of these guys who jizzes all over everything that has Robert Fripp’s guitar noise on it. And I think that King Crimson have produced their share of unlistenable crap. On the other hand, King Crimson have also done some outstanding, genre-defining work. And it seems like they do it about once a decade. In the 60s, it was In the Court of the Crimson King; in the 70s, it was Red; and in the 80s, it was Discipline. King Crimson is essentially the Robert Fripp vanity band, and you can go to Wikipedia if you want to know who some of the Crimson alums are; we’re here to talk about Red dammit! And, on Red, Fripp is joined by future Asia bassist John Wetton and former Yes/future Genesis drummer Bill Bruford. The Fripp/Wetton/Bruford lineup had already done two albums prior – Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black – and while I do enjoy those, Red is the trio’s masterpiece. Clocking in at 40 minutes, the five tracks on Red – “Red”, “Fallen Angel”, “One More Red Nightmare”, “Providence”, and “Starless” – take the listener though a head trip of fuzzed out acid guitar licks, multi-rhythmic percussion, bleating horns, whirring mellotron, and improvised violin scraping, going from quieter moments to full on crescendos, and containing a whole lotta complicated instrumental interplay. And, although it’s considered progressive rock, the influence of Red can be felt in much of post-hardcore, math rock, noise rock, and anything to come out of the indie scene that incorporates odd time signatures, multilayered percussion, and copious amounts of guitar noise; I’m not totally sure, but I think that the Jesus Lizard, Helmet, Nomeansno, Today Is the Day, Don Caballero, Drive Like Jehu, Polvo, and Slint might owe a bit of debt to Red. It is truly an ahead of its time record.

12. ZZ Top – Tres Hombres – Warner Bros. – 1973

Blues rock trio from Texasssssss…. hawt damn is Billy Gibbons an underrated guitar player! Whenever I hear “La Grange”, I picture a cowgirl in Daisy Dukes and a flannel shirt, that’s tied low enough for her to show off lotsa cleavage, riding a mechanical bull, as a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls hoot and holler. “Master of Sparks” is an amazing song and should have been a huge hit. Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that Motörhead covered “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers.” I once smoked weed while sitting in a room at the Soaring Eagle casino with my part-Injun girlfriend Amanda, and we jammed this album. Then we went to the casino, and I lost a bunch of money playing the ZZ Top machine.

11. Sweet – Sweet Fanny Adams – RCA – 1974

I read in some magazine that Sweet wanted to play in front of denim-clad heavy metal fans, not teeny boppers, but that’s the way the cookie crumbled when singer Brian Connolly, guitarist/keyboardist Andy Scott, bassist Steve Priest, and drummer Mick Tucker hitched their wagon to the glam rock movement, allowing Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn to write the songs that everyone knows, like “Ballroom Blitz”, “Wig Wam Bam”, and “Hellraiser”, while writing the b-sides themselves. And it’s the b-sides along with their second album, Sweet Fanny Adams, that showed the other side of Sweet. The first Sweet album, Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be, was released in 1971 and contains a smattering of lightweight, bubblegum flavored songs, like the Archies inspired “Funny Funny”, while their second album, Sweet Fanny Adams, opens with a speed metal song called “Set Me Free.” Think I’m kidding? Listen to “Set Me Free”, with its high speed drumming, chugga-chugga riffs, and ripping, yet melodic guitar solos, back to back with “Exciter” by Judas Priest, and you’ll see what I mean. Of the other eight songs on Sweet Fanny Adams, five were written by the members of the band, two are Chapman/Chinn numbers, and one is a cover of “Peppermint Twist.” And let me tell you; Sweet are NOT a bunch of nice boys! Have you seen the lyrics to “Sweet F.A.”? “Well, it’s Friday night/and I need a fight/if she don’t spread/I’m gonna bust her head.” Nice! REAL Nice! Of the two Chapman/Chinn tunes, one is “No You Don’t”, a hard rock song with a musical tribute to “Pinball Wizard”, and the other is the lesbian glam rock anthem “AC-DC.” Of the band-penned originals, the ones that aren’t about busting a girl’s head for not fucking you, include the proto-punky glam number “Rebel Rouser”, the straight-forward hard rockers “Heartbreak Today” and “Restless”, and another chugga-chugga, proto-speed metal tune called “Into the Night”, that, like “Set Me Free”, sounds right at home among the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Sadly, in typical American record label fashion, tracks from Sweet Fanny Adams and its followup, Desolation Boulevard, were chopped off, combined with single songs, and placed onto a compilation album also called Desolation Boulevard, that was released in the States; and Americans were none the wiser.

10. Thin Lizzy – Johnny the Fox – Mercury – 1976

I know what you’re thinking; that I’m just trying to be contrarian for not choosing Jailbreak as my favorite Thin Lizzy album. But, seriously, how many more times can you listen to “The Boys Are Back in Town”? Except if you’re that one guy who played it until he got thrown out of a bar. But, assuming you’re not an annoying hipster, who can only enjoy things ironically, then I’m gonna point you to the album that came after Jailbreak as MY favorite Thin Lizzy album. Though, considering how damn consistently satisfying they are with their duel guitar, harmony laced brand of hard rock, I could have easily picked any album from Fighting through Black Rose: A Rock Legend (I guess even Jailbreak, since it has songs other than the “The Boys Are Back in Town”, like “Angel from the Coast”, “Cowboy Song”, or, like, “Jailbreak”); but I chose Johnny the Fox, and I’m stickin’ to my guns! The albums before Fighting have their enjoyable moments, but Thin Lizzy hadn’t really found their sound yet; too much soft rock and soul for my taste. And that includes the Nightlife LP, the first one with Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on duel guitars. The albums after Black Rose: A Rock Legend came out in the 80s, so even though they’re great, they’re disqualified for this list. The opening track, “Johnny”, whew, what a scorcher! It’s about this junky named Johnny, who robs a drugstore and shoots the cashier, then gets gunned down by the cops. Then the next song is called “Rocky”, which is about this guy named Rocky who wants to be a rock star. The third song, “Borderline”, is a soft song for the girls. The fourth track, “Don’t Believe a Word”, was a hit, but obviously not a big one, since most people don’t know it. And the next song is “Fool’s Gold”, which is a bittersweet rocker. Then the first song on side two is this funky jam called “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed”, which I’m guessing is about the “Johnny” from the first song. I just described six out of the ten tracks. Oh, just listen to the album.

9. AC/DC – Powerage – Atlantic – 1978

Do you not already know what you need to know about AC/DC? Do you not know that the group was originally signed to the Australian Albert label, through which they released their first two LPs, High Voltage and TNT, before signing with Atlantic, who then proceeded to do selective surgery on every AC/DC album that came out, chopping off songs from one record, and putting them on other records? Ever wonder why “Problem Child” is on both Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap AND Let There Be Rock? Did you know that the Atlantic version of High Voltage actually contains seven songs from the Australian TNT LP and two songs from the Australian High Voltage LP? Pretty freakin’ confusing, eh? I actually bought the Australian TNT LP in nearly pristine condition from Herm at Vertigo in Grand Rapids for $8! Ain’t Herm a mensch? He TOTALLY knew he could have sold that sucker for like $100 on ebay, but he took the high road, selling it to one of his loyal customers, instead. Anyway, Powerage is my favorite AC/DC album; just nine killer deep cuts and nary a hit to be found; the most popular song on Powerage is “Gone Shootin'”, which you might have heard on the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack. If you’re wondering why all of their songs sound the way they do, ya know, with that swing or that groove, that few other bands running the same three chord rock territory manage to accomplish, it’s because they’re written around the drums. Favorite tracks are “Down Payment Blues”, “Sin City”, and “What’s Next to the Moon.” Also, isn’t “Riff Raff” like really fast?

8. UFO – Force It – Polydor – 1975

PROOF that all you need to make your band really good is just hire a really good guitarist! UFO had already achieved something of a cult following with their first three albums, UFO 1, UFO 2: Flying, and UFO Live, in Japan (where else), but as enjoyable as their spacey jams might be, singer Phil Mogg, bassist Pete Way, and drummer Andy Parker realized that a 17-year-old, German guitar prodigy like Michael Schenker might be a bigger boon to them than the three adequate musicians that came before him, who made copious use of their “wah-wah” peddles, but not much else. Okay, that was harsh; I really like the first three UFO albums, and the group briefly had Larry Wallis, who would go on to join the Pink Fairies and become a founding member of Motörhead. But the fact remains that few compare to Schenker with his signature Flying V. With the release of their third album, Phenomenon, UFO dropped the space rock sound, replacing it with a straight forward hard rock/heavy metal approach, driven by Schenker’s catchy riffs and melodic solos. Pick your favorite Schenker era album; mine is Force It. The others are No Heavy Petting, Light Out, Obsession, and the double live album Strangers in the Night. Then Schenker quit, briefly re-joining the Scorpions, before starting the Michael Schenker Group, rejoining UFO, and then quitting again. Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that that’s Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle on the cover of Force It, which has one great, angry, headbanging track after another, only interrupted by an acoustic ballad, which is also really great, and a couple of bittersweet numbers. And, what a guitar tone!

7. Atomic Rooster – Death Walks Behind You – Elektra – 1971

Lead by bipolar organist/singer Vincent Crane, Atomic Rooster began after Crane had a nervous breakdown and left the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, taking drummer Carl Palmer with him. After the first Atomic Rooster LP, the cleverly titled and guitar-free Atomic Roooster (yep, with three o’s), Palmer joined Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and original bassist Nick Graham left a big, gaping hole, which would never be filled, resulting in Crane having to play all of the bass parts on keyboard. By the time Rooster began making their second album, Death Walks Behind You, they were a much heavier band, with John Du Cann, formerly of the Attack and Andromeda, playing the distorted power chords and taking over on lead vocals, and Paul Hammond, who might or might not be related to the guy who invented the Hammond organ, playing drums. The dark, eerie atmosphere of Death Walks Behind You is set right away with its eight minute opening title cut, that starts with a descending minor note melody played on a piano, as the guitar plays little Psycho-like high pitch screech sounds, before the pummeling blues riff comes in, and Du Cann sings, “death walks behind you!” in his mocking tone. Sure, lyrics like, “lock the door, switch the light/you’ll be so afraid tonight/hide away from the bad/count the nine lives that you had/start to scream, shout for help/there is no one by your side/to forget what is done/seems so hard to carry on” seem a bit corny, outdated, and overwrought, but then again, it ain’t as if the lyrics for “Iron Man” have aged particularly well either. The next track, “VUG”, is just a fun instrumental workout, showcasing the talent of the three musicians; as is closing track, “Gershatzer.” And, the shuffling, kinda funky, and super catchy “Tomorrow Night” became a hit. “7 Streets” and “Sleeping for Years” are these heavy numbers, that bring back the negative tone of the opening cut, and “Nobody Else” is a depressing slow jam, which gets rockin’ in the second half. Sadly,  thanks to Crane’s insatiable appetite for musical progression, he fired every member of Atomic Rooster before they had a chance to capitalize on their hit, and moved his project into a funky soul direction.

6. Budgie – Never Turn Your Back on a Friend – MCA – 1973

There’s really not a whole lot to say about Budgie other than that they’re a power trio, and that they’re from Whales. Okay, all right, twist my arm, I’ll say more; in case you were wondering, a budgie is a parakeet, and glasses wearing bassist/singer Burke Shelley sounds like Geddy Lee. Also, Tony Bourge was the original guitarist, and Ray Phillips played drums, and they had funny song titles like “Hot as a Docker’s Arm Pit”, “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman”, “You’re the Biggest Thing Since Powder’ed Milk”, and “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand”; the last two of which are ON the album I’m currently about to talk about! Otherwise, Budgie was AWESOME. I tell people that they were heavy like Sabbath, but grooved out like Zeppelin, and that they didn’t worry too much about that whole “musical progression” thing. This is why they probably never really had any hits, sticking with their blues based heavy rock and heavy metal formula, and occasionally throwing in a pretty, acoustic slow jam like “Riding My Nightmare.” But, who cares? Their albums all rock, and indeed, Never Turn Your Back on a Friend, with its Roger Dean cover art and its cover of “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, is my favorite of the eleven official studio albums that they released. Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that Metallica covered “Breadfan”, along with another Budgie song called “Crash Course in Brain Surgery”, that’s from a different album. Oh, and “In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand” has a drum solo.

5. Blue Oyster Cult – Secret Treaties – Columbia – 1974

First things first: the “cowbell” joke from Saturday Night Live isn’t funny. It’s just not, so stop saying it. Second of all, Blue Öyster Cult is weird, maaaan… I know the world at large knows ’em for their three big hits, “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper”, “Godzilla”, and “Burning for You”, and those ARE great songs, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that BOC were never a standard group of bar-cum-arena rockers that your baby boomer dad listens to; I mean, he might, but that’s neither here nor there. And I KNOW that, with his beard, Eric Bloom looks more like a film director or philosophy professor, than the singer of a band, and that guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser has a sleazy, cocaine snorting, porno star mustache, much like David Byron of Uriah Heep, but FORGIVE THEM!!! This WAS the 70s after all, and while some things looked cool, other things have dated. Thankfully, you can’t say that for the music of Blue Öyster Cult, at least on their first three albums. Hailing from New York, the group, which also consisted of keyboardist/guitarist Alan Lanier, bassist Joe Bouchard, and his brother, drummer Albert Bouchard, signed to Columbia, and released a trio of classic LPs; Blue Öyster Cult, Tyranny and Mutation, and Secret Treaties. Most fans agree that Secret Treaties is probably their best album. It’s not really “heavy metal”; in fact it’s not really “heavy” at all, and the drums sound like two little toothpicks tapping on a box of matches. But the guitars are distorted and hard edged, and Roeser plays basic, punky riffs, creepy little melodies. and jazzy leads, as Lanier accentuates the riffs with his keyboard playing and occasional synth solos, especially on the near progressive “Flaming Telepaths.” Like on the first two albums, BOC is basically doing a soundtrack to a Lovecraft story or something out of a Warren magazine; celestial beings, subhuman freaks,  people with telepathic power, harvesters of eyes, “Cagey Cretins”, “Astronomy”, and “doing it to your daughter on a dirt road”, as Eric Bloom so eloquently puts it in “Career of Evil.” Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that Metallica covered “Astronomy.” Also, the song “ME 262” is sung from the perspective of a Nazi fighter pilot and invents the colorful colloquial “heavy metal fruit.” Once the group hit pay dirt with Agents of Fortune in 1976, they would streamline their sound for the mainstream rubes, but thankfully they got weird again on Cultasaurus Erectus and Fire of Unknown Origin.

4. Iggy and the Stooges – Raw Power – Columbia – 1973

It’s punk rock AND it’s cock rock! Many people consider the Stooges to be the first punk band, completely incongruous with the hippie trends of the late 60s and the progressive/metal/arena rock trends of the early 70s. I guess you could make that argument and be about 70% correct, but you could find the same level of primal aggression in Blue Cheer, the same level of pessimism in Frank Zappa, and the same basic garagey rock in the Sonics, the Count Five, or the Nazz. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the Stooges are a fantastic band; they released two underground classics, The Stooges and Fun House, with the original lineup – singer Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, his brother, drummer Scott Asheton, and bassist Dave Alexander, along with saxophonist Steve MacKay on the second LP – before going on hiatus in 1971 when they were dropped by Elektra, and then were discovered by David Bowie shortly after. Initially, Bowie wanted to help Iggy Pop start a new band, flying him over to England and auditioning new musicians for him, but then Iggy insisted that his buddy, guitarist James Williamson, fly over as well, and the Asheton bothers joined soon after. Of course, now the band was called Iggy and the Stooges, and they had new management and a new label, and Ron Asheton was moved over to bass, allowing James Williamson to take over his original spot, but the Stooges were back. Running 34 minutes and containing eight cuts, Raw Power contains middle upper tempo, guitar fueled rock ‘n’ roll, over which Iggy Pop shouts antisocial sentiments like “I’m a street walkin’ with a heart full o’ napalm/I’m the runaway son of a nuclear a-bomb/I am the world’s forgotten boy/the one who searches and destroys!” in songs with titles like “Search and Destroy”, “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell”, “Raw Power”, “Penetration”, and the perfectly named album closer “Death Trip.” James Williamson fills every space he can with his shrieking guitar leads, and the group soften things up a bit with the primarily acoustic number “Gimme Danger” and the slow blues jam “I Need Somebody.” They also throw in a fun, hand clappin’, butt shakin’ tune called “Shake Appeal.” Also, I like the 1996, over-the-top, “all in the red” mix more than the Bowie mix. Someone’s going to yell at me for not mentioning that Guns ‘n’ Roses covered “Raw Power.”

3. Hawkwind – Space Ritual – United Artists – 1973

“Dude, they’re the band that Lemmy was in before he started Motörhead!” is my standard opener before going into an endless tirade about the mighty Hawkwind, a band who I, shall we say, am more than just a casual fan of. Having started in 1969 and carrying on to this day, albeit with only one original member, guitarist Dave Brock, Hawkwind is similar to the Fall in that they flood the market with a bunch of albums, which confuse and intimidate the uninitiated out of ever wanting to jump aboard the ship, since they’re not sure what a good place to jump on even is. Of course, it’s slightly easier with Hawkwind, since you just go to the Lemmy albums first; Doremi Fasol Latido, Space Ritual, Hall of the Mountain Grill, and Warrior on the Edge of Time, the second of which was released in 1973, and is a double live LP that features most of the tunes from the LP right before it, one song from the pre-Lemmy album In Search of Space, a couple of new numbers, and a bunch of between song space gibberish about sonic attacks and seconds of forever; sadly, “Silver Machine”, the group’s most popular song and hit single, which Lemmy sang his first lead vocal on, and which made him Hawkwind’s most popular member during his brief tenure with the group, is not included. Space Ritual is surprisingly aggressive thanks to Simon King’s pounding percussion, Dave Brock’s three chord, “motorik” metal riffs, and Lemmy’s driving, proto-punk bass lines, especially on tracks like “Born to Go”, “Brainstorm”, “Lord of Light”, and “Master of the Universe.” And check out that bass solo on “Time We Left This World Today”! It’s also interesting how originally acoustic numbers from Doremi, “Space Is Deep” and “Down Through the Night”, were played as electric tunes and had bass and drum parts added to them. Throw in copious amounts of “wah-wah” solos, some sax bleating and flute blowing from Nik Turner, and some “wishy-wooshy” sounds created by Dikmik Davies and Del Detmar, and you have one hellova head banging, intergalactic trip through time and space to listen to while you stare at a blank, static filled TV screen after dropping acid or eating five pot cookies; if you’re into that type of thing, that is.

2. Black Sabbath – Vol. 4 – Warner Bros. – 1972

The kids today love their doom rock. And while it’s great that they’re at least ripping off one of the best bands, rather than one of the worst, they’re still missing the big picture. Black Sabbath weren’t only good because of Toni Iommi’s heavy, drop D riffs, but because they could also jam like nobody’s business. It’s hard to think of Sabbath without Iommi’s bluesy leads, Geezer Butler’s whirling, hypnotic bass lines, or Bill Ward’s jazzy drumming. And, with the monotonous, odd, and impossible to copy timbre of Ozzy’s voice, the formula was complete. Unlike their first three albums, Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality, Vol. 4 has no hits; just ten deep cuts, that make a good soundtrack for a trip into the abyss. On opening cut “Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener”, Ozzy informs the listener that he is but an insignificant speck in the universe, and that the world will continue turning long after he’s gone. The album gets a little less bleak with the second track, “Tomorrow’s Dream.” “Cornucopia” and “Under the Sun/Everyday Comes and Goes” have a couple of the heaviest opening riffs ever recorded. “Snowblind” is all about the cocaine, which is strange considering that Sabbath is a pot-smoker’s band. And “Supernaut” has science fiction lyrics about seeing the future and then leaving it behind. There are a couple of silly moments, like the sentimental vocal and piano ballad “Changes” and the proggy noise guitar piece “F/X.” And there’s also a pretty classical acoustic guitar instrumental called”Laguna Sunrise.” Otherwise, Vol.4 is Sabbath’s masterwork, or one of several, I guess.

1. Alice Cooper – Love It to Death – Warner Bros. – 1971

Known for his gaunt frame, “scary” jester and/or spider-eye makeup, theatrical stage show, golf enthusiasm, and alcoholism (though, it was revealed in the documentary Super Duper Alice Cooper that he also had a freebasing habit, which explains why he looked so emaciated between 1978-1983), Alice Cooper, the persona, was born on Love It to Death, the third album by Alice Cooper, the band, when it was released in 1971. After the Pretties for You and Easy Action albums, which were released on Frank Zappa’s Straight label, and contain a mix of psychedelia, hard rock, and free jazz, along with incomprehensible lyrical gibberish, Toronto based neophyte producer Bob Ezrin suggested that singer Alice Cooper (who was born Vincent Furnier, in case you were wondering), lead guitarist Glenn Buxton, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neil Smith focus on what they’re good at; Stones/Who/Yardbirds-inspired hard rock, with lyrics about teen angst, sex, and the macabre. Of course, the rest is history; “I’m Eighteen” became a huge hit, and the group, and later the man, went onto mega stardom, with a career that continues to this day. Love It to Death contains nine songs, eight originals and a hippie spoof cover of Rolf Harris’ “Sun Arise.” Of the originals, one is the nine minute long “Black Juju”, which is driven by a dark ‘n’ heavy riff, accompanied by a spooky church organ, and is sung from the perspective of a voodoo priest, who appears to be resurrecting the dead. Another is the six minute “Ballad of Dwight Fry”, which tells the tale of a man who is put away in an asylum for two weeks, gets let out, and then strangles a man to death; for the song, Alice recorded his vocal track while wearing a straight-jacket, and, to this day, performs the song in one as well. The rest of the album consists of short, sharp, and catchy rock tunes, like the spoiled brat anthem “Caught in a Dream”, the punky “Long Way to Go”, the burlesque-inspired hard rock of “Is It My Body?”, and what sounds like a caustic warning against moral degeneracy in “Hallowed Be My Name.” I never quite figured out if Alice is actually trying to deliver the warning himself, or if he’s singing from the perspective of a religious figure watching his flock go astray in lines like, “sluts and the hookers have taken your money/the queens are out dancing/but now they’re not funny/’cause there goes one walking/away with your sonny/cursing their lovers/cursing the bible/hallowed be my name/yelling at fathers/screaming at mothers/hallowed be my name.” And the next song is called “Second Coming”, which seems to be about a guy who is trying to not go to Hell or something. Did I mention that Alice Cooper is a Born Again Christian and a Republican?

Ten Things I Will Always Find Funny About Old Movies

dvdsA couple days ago, I once again enjoyed Howard Hawks’ 1959 western Rio Bravo, in which John Wayne plays sheriff John T. Chance, who is trying to keep a gang of thugs from running roughshod all over his dinky little town, while only having help from an alcoholic named Dude played by Dean Martin and a cripple named Stumpy played by Walter Brennan. There’s so much to like about the movie; the budding romance between an awkward and possibly virginal John T. Chance and the super hot gambling huckster babe Feathers (Angela Dickinson); Dean Martin’s struggle with the bottle; the comic relief from Stumpy; the gun slinging action; baby faced Ricky Nelson proving his chops to the older guys… what a GREAT movie, right?

Well, yeah, except if you’re not used to watching these kinds of movies. For one thing, at two hours and twenty minutes, Rio Bravo doesn’t exactly BREEZE by. On top of that, for being a western, it’s actually pretty low on action. It’s a CHARACTER driven movie, rather than one based upon a lot of fast paced gun play. Thirdly, I can picture young people finding Ricky Nelson incredibly annoying with his “yes sir”/”no sir”/”gee wiz sir” persona. Okay he doesn’t say “gee wiz”, but he does look like an overly wholesome little boy, not a rough and tumble gunslinger. And fourth, you have to suspend your disbelief since nobody bleeds when they get shot, and John Wayne gets knocked out rather easily when he trips over some wire. I’ll talk about those below, but my point is that, unless someone regularly watches old films and is used to suspending his or her disbelief, which is what audiences had to do before better special effects were created, a movie like Rio Bravo might seem dated and downright silly.

So, the other day, I read an article from LA Weekly called “Stop Laughing At Old Movies, You $@%&ing Hipsters” in which the author complained that hipsters laugh at old movies because of the hammy acting, outdated special effects and cheap set designs. While, in principle, I agree this is a stupid thing to do, especially if you shelled out the money for the movie in the first place, I also feel that the author was using the wrong movie with which to make her point.

She had attended a screening of Mario Bavo’s 1961 fantasy epic Hercules in the Haunted World, for which the theater provided a 23-piece orchestra and nine singers to accompany the soundtrack. What the fuck for? Hercules in the Haunted World is one of hundreds of Italian peplum films that came out in the late 50s though the early 60s; sword and sandal adventure epics where shaved and greased down, half naked body builders of questionable acting ability fight atop foam rocks and coliseum backdrops either in historical reenactments or purely fantastical plots against giant puppets or stop motion monsters while attempting to save unbelievably gorgeous women, who are most likely supermodels, not professional actresses. Do you see where I’m going with this? Hercules in the Haunted World is not exactly high art. So the fact that people laughed at the melodrama, cheesy special effects or the fake looking sets is NOT necessarily because of their philistinism, but possibly because the movie was legitimately funny at times.

That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, but COME ON. Some things just DO NOT age well. And considering the other examples of films the author gave- 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining, The Exorcist – it make me wonder if she’s not talking out of her ass or just happened to be in the theater on a particularly bad day. So I decided to give the “hipsters” the benefit of the doubt and compile a list of items from old movies which will always evoke at least a smirk out of me, if not outright laughter. Lighten up guys, they’re just movies.

1.) When people get knocked out cold by a single, ineffectual hit

Either people were much weaker in the past, or people used to hit a lot harder, but it’s funny to note how easily people can just get knocked out in old movies. I’ve taken the kinds of hits and spills that have knocked out some of the characters in these old movies and not gotten knocked out; am I then to believe that I’m tougher than John Wayne? Case in point; Rio Bravo. The nogoodniks in the film stretch a string across the base of a stairway, John Wayne goes running down it, crashes to the ground and is out like a light. Now, that’s just ridiculous; I’ve actually drunkenly tumbled down concrete stairs and stood up unaffected. Scott Rosendall, my wheelchair confined buddy, went speeding down a flight of stairs, sat up and crawled into his awaiting wheelchair. Is wheelchair using Scott Rosendall then tougher than John Wayne? Another example that immediately comes to mind is when the monster in The Thing from Another World (1951) pushed the scientist over, and he was out cold. Seriously, the monster just pushed him, and he was out. If people got knocked out just from being pushed, then every single mosh pit would quickly turn into a mountain of unconscious bodies laying one atop another.

2.) When people get shot, but don’t bleed

Howard Hawks’ 1932 gangster classic Scarface, which stars Paul Muni as a prohibition era liquor peddling thug named Tony Comanti, was once considered one of the most violent movies of all time. But how violent is a movie where nobody expels any actual blood? We see lots of smoking guns and people clutching their chests and/or bellies either out of pain or to hide the fact that there is no actual bullet hole, but NOBODY BLEEDS!!! Now, in old fashion Westerns, this is somewhat excusable considering that cowboys were using pea shooters that often couldn’t even break skin, but for cryin’ out loud, these gangsters are using TOMMY GUNS to fill rival gangsters and the occasional innocent bystander full of holes. What’s even more problematic is that this wasn’t fully alleviated until WELL into the 60s. Although Hammer studios introduce blood and gore via Dracula (known as Horror of Dracula in North America) to the big screen and a surprising amount of it considering it came out in 1958, and Hitchcock’s Psycho had “blood” in the form of chocolate syrup going down a shower drain during the infamous Janet Leigh stabbing scene, and John Ford’s 1962 western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance showed a tiny bit of blood dripping from John Wayne’s arm, Sergio Leone’s 1964 western A Fistful of Dollars had a scene where some banditos disguised as Union soldiers gun down a bunch of Mexican soldiers, and NONE of the Mexican soldiers bleeds a single drop. Thank God for the invention of the squib!

3.) When monsters can do nothing but push or throw people

In real life, if you pick up a little girl and throw her into your local pond, and she drowns, you’re one sadistic son of a bitch! However, if you do the same thing in a movie, such as the 1931 classic Frankenstein, you’re pretty much stretching the boundaries for the amount of violence you’re allowed to inflict on other people on a movie screen. Wait, no, there is the part where Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant Fritz is found hanging on a noose, but in general, the movie monsters couldn’t really DO anything, and you had to REALLY use your imagination. Probably the most annoying culprit is the creature in Creature from the Black Lagoon. It screeches, it stomps around, it kidnaps the girl, it pushes people and well, it pushes more people. Hey, did you see that super crazy, violent horror movie where the monster pushes people? Okay, old horror movies did have some surprisingly grizzly scenes – the human head hunting trophies in The Most Dangerous Game, the scene where Bela Lugosi skins Boris Karloff alive in The Black Cat, the scene at the end of Island of Lost Souls where the mutants revolt and mutilate Charles Laughton with surgical tools, the scene in Freaks where we see Olga after she’s been turned into a duck woman – but none of the actual violence happens ON screen; one noteworthy exception is in the 1933 British horror film The Ghoul, where a corpse played by Boris Karloff carves an ankh into his chest with a knife, and I suppose you can count the scene in King Kong when the gorilla steps on a baby’s head, but these are the exception. Do we get to SEE the werewolf in Werewolf of London or The Wolf Man mutilate people? Did we actually SEE Count Dracula suck anyone’s blood? Of course not (at least not until Terence Fisher’s 1958 adaptation of Dracula); we have to pretend these monsters are hurting people! One point of interest is that, in 1938, when Frankenstein had a theatrical re-release (on a triple bill with Dracula and Son of Kong), censors in various cities snipped the part where the monster throws the girl into the water, cutting right as the monster leans in on her and grins, unintentionally implying something far more sinister than what actually took place in the excised footage.

4.) When people replace swear words with words that you hear in kids cartoons

Imagine you’re watching a detective or gangster picture, and a character gets really angry, and he says, “you better watch it, buster!” BUSTER? Did people actually say BUSTER back then? Not even “you bastard”, but “BUSTER”?! Somehow seeing Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe or Mike Hammer or Little Ceasar Rico or Tom Powers or whoever else say “buster” just doesn’t make them seem as bad ass as they once seemed. And everyone knows that, when people think of “bad ass”, they think of an adorable, diminutive  Jewish man named Edward G. Robinson.

5.) Any black actor prior to Sidney Poitier, Woody Strode or that one guy in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing

In the 1950s, liberal directors of the era all of a suddenly began casting blacks in relatively respectable roles. When I say blacks, I mean Sidney Poitier, Woody Strode and that one guy that was in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing; and by “respectable”, I mean you’re supposed to feel bad for that guy – okay, fine, his name is James Edwards, and he was in such noteworthy films as Robert Wise’s The Set-Up (1949) and Samuel Fuller’s The Steel Helmet (1951) – when Timothy Carey tells him, “you’re wrong, nigger.” But before that, hooo boy… You don’t want to laugh because you’ll be looked at as an asshole, but hey, back then the roles given to black actors weren’t exactly the most empowering, talking like completely illiterate, recently freed slaves with their “suh, suh, I’s dint know, suh suh.” To be fair, Clarence Muse, the coach driver in the 1932 horror film White Zombieand I guess he was in a bunch of other stuff, like the b-picture Invisible Ghost (1941) and Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street (1945) –  wasn’t too, how shall I say it… well, he shouts, “ZOMBIES!!!”, not “SUH! SUH! I SEES ZOMBIES, SUH!!!” However the same can’t be said for Mantan Moreland in King of the Zombies (1941) or Napoleon Simpson in  The Mummy’s Curse (1944). Oh, and check out the hilarious maid roles played by Butterfly McQueen in Gone with the Wind (1939), Mildred Pierce (1945) and many others. Quoth McQueen: “I didn’t mind playing a maid the first time, because I thought that was how you got into the business. But after I did the same thing over and over, I resented it. I didn’t mind being funny, but I didn’t like being stupid.”

6.) All white people pretending to be non-white people

I’m definitely going to hell for this one… from Walter Long as the freed slave Gus in Birth of a Nation to Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer to Boris Karloff’s portrayal of the “yellow menace” Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu to Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to all of the Spaniards and Italians who played Indians in John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn… in our modern times, it’s seen as ugly, tacky, grotesque and unpleasant the way many a white actor has portrayed blacks, Asians, Americans Indians and even Arabs – Stanley Donen’s 1965 film Arabesque f’rinstance –  but the clumsy and ham-fisted delivery of these characters causes me to giggle, and to suppress your laughter in the face of political correctness is to die a slow death.

7.) When people act overly scared by stuff that isn’t very scary

Once again, to be fair, one could say this about the majority of old horror films. However, sometimes  an actor or actress’s delivery is so melodramatic, and the fear he or she evinces is so over the top when compared to what he or she is experiencing in the movie, that it becomes comical. The funniest example off the top of my head is the woman shrieking as though she’s being raped as a puppet skeleton approaches her in William Castle’s 1959 schlock fest House on Haunted Hill.

8.) People in rubber monster costumes destroying miniature cities

Everyone who knows about Godzilla knows that each Godzilla movie got progressively sillier, as Godzilla himself went from being a symbol of atomic horror to a downright adorable, lovable dinosaur that, in spite destroying entire cities, had a buddy in the form of a ten year old boy in Godzilla’s Revenge (1969). But even in the original 1954 Gojira, the one where it’s a straight up horror movie without any of the cutesiness, he’s still just a guy in a suit throwing around toy cars and walking over miniature model cities between cuts of freaked out Tokyo citizens. And let’s face it; in a lot of these films, the buildings just look like milk cartons with squares painted on them. In the case of the 1962 Swedish monster film Reptilicus, a miniature monster destroys other miniatures and, since no rear screen projection is even used to put people on screen with the monster, the film ends up looking like a glorified puppet show.

9.) Scrolling backgrounds you see from car windows

Driving sequences in old movies just don’t look very realistic, ya know?

10.) REALLY vague allusions to sex 

The film noir pot boiler Kiss Me Deadly, adapted from the Mickey Spillane novel of the same name, directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Ralph Meeker as the sleazy private dick Mike Hammer, is a remarkably modern, unflinchingly violent and hard edged film for something that came out in 1955; the torture sequence alone is rather chilling. Yet even it suffered from the censorious confines of the era in which it was conceived. It’s remarkable how intimidating both Meeker and the underworld thugs he encounters can be in spite nary a single cuss word being uttered. But what I found rather odd was how, when Hammer spoke with his lovely secretary Velda (Maxine Cooper), he asked her, “did you date him?” This is code for, “did you seduce him and/or sleep with him in order to snag him in an extramarital affair?” Now, come on, he asks her “did you date him?” She could just as easily say, “Yep! We went to the movies last night, and it was great!” At least that’s how I would have interpreted such a question. Another example of this type of vague sexual allusion is in Fritz Lang’s 1952 drama Clash by Night, in which Jerry D’Amato(Paul Douglas) finds out that his wife Mae (Barbra Stanwyck) had been cheating on him with Robert Ryan’s character Earl Pfeiffer. The line they used to reveal this was, “we spent all afternoon together.” WE SPENT ALL AFTERNOON TOGETHER?! Doing what? Playing cards? Watching TV? Picking our bellybutton lint? We’re just supposed to KNOW that when a man and a woman spend the afternoon together – not the NIGHT, mind you – they were necessarily fucking?!

The Alt-Right, Punk Rock and Fake Boobs: An Analysis

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The worst thing about people who are full of shit is when they become fans of things that you both enjoy and are a much, much greater expert on. I think I’m in some position of authority to state that most punk rockers don’t know as much as I do about the Alternative Right or the general umbrella of the new right. And similarly I think it’s safe to say that most people on the Alternative Right have only a cursory knowledge of punk rock. So, as someone who is a damn near expert on both of these topics – not saying I was ever on the vanguard of either of these movements – I think I’m at least qualified to call bullshit on a recent article published by Playboy magazine.

But before I even analyze the recent Playboy piece “5 Punk Rockers Explain Why the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage“, let’s ALL put on our bullshit detectors.

Is Playboy not the magazine that 13 year old boys jerked off to for the first time? Is it not the “classy” boobie mag that was started by a pipe smoking, middle aged-cum (no pun intended)-dirty old pervert, who would feature pictorials of attractive women with their beach blonde hair and big, fake boobs? Wasn’t Hugh himself the subject of the wrath of second wave feminists?

Yeah, I know… Playboy has articles too; and there are people who actually read the articles, rather make their fathers question why all the pages in his books are stuck together. And, from my understanding, there was even an era when Playboy actually had good articles from “legit” writers like Woody Allen – who, liberal as he might be, bless his soul, never became a feminist or stopped being a pussy chasing dog – and Gore Vidal. But that was the 60s, and you had to feign intellectualism in those days.

Regardless of its praising of certain liberal causes, Playboy has long since been just a porn mag-lite (no beaver shots), known for launching the careers of airheads like Jenny McArthy and Pamela Anderson.

So why, all of a sudden, do they fancy themselves the authority on punk rock and feel that they can decide that “the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage”?

First of all, there IS no AltRight punk movement, because if there was, then my name would be in the article. Not only am I the guy who printed the first ever Punks for Trump t-shirts (only 50 left as of this writing; BUY BUY BUY!!!), but that’s Matt Forney, one of the definitive AltRighters, in the picture below wearing one.

forney_with_chicks

But, even if the article’s writer, Michael Tedder, was aware of this fact, he still misses the point entirely:

Members of the alt-right have of late made the argument that “conservatism is the new punk” and that gadflies like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos are the modern day truth-telling equivalents of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, pushing back against social justice warriors and political correctness culture. In their eyes, their old, retrograde ideas—which inevitably manifest as fear and outrage at attempts to curb white male privilege—have suddenly become avant-garde because of…safe spaces or something.

Neither Alex Jones nor Milo Yiannopoulos are “AltRight.” They’re libertarians. They’ve adopted some of the less extreme views of the AltRight – that cultural Marxism sucks, that SJWs of all stripes and shades are stupid and that Islam is a threat to Western civilization – but they were never considered part of the movement; to call them AltRight would be like calling the Cars a punk band. Sure the Venn diagrams overlap, but they’re not one and the same. To be honest, I’m not considered “AltRight” by some of the more radical elements either because I’m not a White Nationalist, I don’t believe that all ethnic groups need to be separated at all costs and I don’t fit the proper genetic stock. The AltRight actually has quite a bit of diversity of thought under its umbrella, but a person on the left will never take the time to investigate any of this.

But I digress. As far as the “new right” (which includes the AltRight) being considered “the new punk rock”, well… I suppose that depends on how you define “punk rock.” And that’s where we get to the meat, spikes, leather and chains of the article; unless, of course, you’re a modern day vegan-feminist-hippie-crust-punk, who dodges showers the way the hippies dodged the draft. Then you probably think the original punks were fascists for wearing and eating dead cow.

Most AltRighters don’t know that much about punk and all of the bands it produced or its various sub-genres and their spin-offs. If ANYTHING, while AltRighters might espouse the general, “offend the easily offended” attitude of the Sex Pistols, and while I think Trump is pissing off all the right people, AltRighters specifically probably have more in common with the Oi! band 4Skins, who wrote this wonderful anti-immigrant slam “One Law for Them”, in which they quote the “rivers of blood” speech by Enoch Powell, or the Canadian punk band Forgotten Rebels, who have the hilarious “Bomb the Boat and Feed the Fish”, in which they advocate a rather more, um, violent solution to the problem of mass immigration from third world countries. Hell, I’d even say they have more in common with hardcore punk bands like Agnostic Front, who have the anti-welfare screed “Public Assistance”, which got them in a heap of shit with the PC brigade, or Minor Threat, who mince no words in “Guilty of Being White”, or Black Flag, who sing about the changing ethnic demographic in Southern California in “White Minority” (oh, but they’re being ironic, cantcha tell?!).

But, instead Playboy claims they found the TRUE representatives of punk rock, and these people, who quite obviously have next to no knowledge of the AltRight, explain why someone on the AltRight can’t be punk.

First they get a quote from Victoria Ruiz from some band called the Downtown Boys. (And if you leftist fags say, “uh, what a POSER, you’ve never heard of the Downtown Boys?”, I’ll say, “go fuck yourself, you’ve never heard of Aryan Disgrace, Metal Urbain or the Mentally Ill.”)

Alice Bag, who has actually done the work of being a punk rock star, recently said via Facebook: “Punk has been portrayed as music by and for angry white males, but in its inception, it was a rebellion against all rock cliches. Gender, ethnic, sexual and class taboos were all challenged by our early punk community and that is a story which is not very often told. People of color, queer folk, women—all were present from the very beginning of Punk.”

Yeah, fine, Alice Bag and the Bags are actually really good – how can they not be? They had Geza X on guitar! – but Republican Johnny Ramone has done WAY more work of being a punk rock star. Not to mention Lee Ving of Fear, who wrote the classic “The Mouth Don’t Stop (the Trouble with Women).” And so has leftist clown Jello Biafra. So what? Okay, fine, Darby Crash, the singer of the Germs, was a fag. And their guitarist Pat Smear is black. And Ivan Julian, the rhythm guitarist for Richard Hell and the Voidoids, is also black. And the Bad Brains are all black and were known for their queer-bashing because they “be Rasta, mon, and Rasta don’ like no bloodclot faggots!” Again, so what? That changes precisely what again? The answer is coming; wait for it:

I think that this is exactly why it is nonsense when the alt-right strings together vapid words to try and incite a playground fight with those of us who put blood, sweat and tears into creating an expression that is the antithesis of everything that these alt-right meatheads represent. They are simply a distraction to the women, femmes, queers and people of color filling the columns of Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, the New York Times and numerous other publications that report on culture. I don’t see actual alt-right bands headlining Coachella, I see Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar—two of the most punk in terms of crystallizing dissent about the status quo —artists taking the stage. Real punk is and will always be a total threat to the alt-right and their culture, which is based on white supremacy. Otherwise it isn’t real punk. The alt-right’s tactics are FAKE PUNK. The alt-white (I mean right) want us to sip tea, but we are drinking fresh water from a firehose.

In other words, according to this person, the AltRight DOESN’T represent the punk rock ethos because they AREN’T represented in corporate mainstream media and DON’T perform at corporately sponsored music festivals. I think even the old timey leftists at Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll would raise an eyebrow at that. But more specifically, AltRighters and anyone who espouses views that are heretical to the PC establishment need to be purged from all mainstream discourse. Also probably the main reason no “AltRight bands” have ever performed at Coachella is because THERE ARE NO ALT-RIGHT BANDS to speak of. And even if there were, they wouldn’t be invited to play these festivals. In fact corporately sponsored festivals like the Scion Rock Fest has dumped bands when they were suspected of having “nefarious” connections. But apparently Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar are totally punk as fuck, man.

Next we have Chris Freeman of Pansy Division, the only name on the list I recognize. Feel free to read his lengthy, bitchy diatribe yourself. The only thing that stuck with me was this:

Punk rock for me was about free-thinking more than free speech, and I say that not to minimize free speech but to point out how robotic life had become in the 1970s.

Uh, oookay…. moving right along then…

Well, what do we have here? Erika M. Anderson seems to be the only person of the bunch with a brain!

I think if you define punk as simply being a group of angry young men wanting to say “fuck you” to dominant societal norms and current values, then the roots of the alt-right are definitely one of the most punk things going on right now.

AGREED… but:

But that’s like narrowing your definition of punk down to the Sex Pistols—which was basically a boy band put together by a pair of London clothing designers who wanted to use shock tactics to promote their fashion line. I much prefer Crass (who were anarchists, feminists, environmentalists and better songwriters!), X-Ray Spex or even Pansy Division. But my guess is that if you are truly invested in the theory of alt-right as new punk, then facts about the diversity of the movement aren’t really going to appeal to you.

Oo, calling the Sex Pistols a boy band… them’s fightin’ words! Julian Temple’s 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury puts that myth to rest. Plus, even if it were true, that doesn’t change the fact that “No Feelings” is one of the best songs ever. To be fair, Crass makes some pretty righteous noise even if they’re views are stupid, and X-Ray Spex tear it up with their noisy, bleating sax and Poly Styrene’s caterwauling; I don’t think I’ve ever heard Pansy Division. Regardless, I AM invested in parts of the alt-right, but as proven above, I’m aware that there were black, gay and gurl punks. Her rant concludes with this:

Indeed, it’s all keks and lulz until a con man takes office and fills his cabinet with incompetent billionaires who don’t actually care about free speech, poverty, or really anything but themselves. Turns out there is a thin line between being punk and getting punk’d.

Oo, she’s clever!

Some guy named Andy Nelson at least gets one thing right:

It is no great secret that for all its posturing and incremental progress over the years, underground punk is still, regrettably, a culture dominated by straight whites males.

I wouldn’t say “regrettably”, but:

The notion that expressing all the hateful bigotry that the entirety of American society has been reinforcing forever would resemble the anti-establishment in any form is a premise so asinine and feeble-minded it is nearly beyond comprehension. Insofar as “Alt-Right Punk” is a real thing, I remind you that we’ve seen this type of thing before, and we’ve seen how it ends: Just ask Dave Smalley and Michael Graves what kind of traffic that moronic website ConservativePunk.com is getting these days.

Hey, if you don’t like it in the United States, you’re free to live in such tolerant countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. As for Dave Smalley and Michael Graves, I’m not sure what kind of traffic they get on their moronic website these days, and I’m too lazy to check.

And finally Patrick Stickles of some band called Titus Andronicus (isn’t Shakespeare racist or something?) begins with:

In determining if conservatism/“alt-right” is the “new punk” or “political punk rock” or whatever they are saying, we must first address the distinction between “punk,” the ideology, “punks,” who practice said ideology, and “punk rock,” the musical genre/fashion template with which we associate acts like the Sex Pistols or Ramones or Black Flag and “punk rockers,” those who adhere to those templates.

No, we mustn’t. Well,you can if ya want, but I’m going to listen to this here Dictators song and have myself a vodka/diet coke mixer.

White Trumps on Dope, an Open Letter to Jello Biafra

jello_biafra_trumpIf you were ever 14 and didn’t go through a Dead Kennedys phase, you are one sad kid.  The Dead Kennedys are a wicked, sick killer band.  Their songs are ferociously hooky, and the musicianship of guitarist East Bay Ray, bassist Klaus Flouride and drummers Ted (a.k.a. Bruce Slesinger) and D.H. Pelligro eschews the notion that “punk bands can’t play.”  On top of all that, you have liberal loudmouth yahoo, Eric “Jello Biafra” Bouchard’s quivering, clown like vibrato caustically waxing about a dystopic future dominated by corporate interests, where the average American is nothing more than a cog in a machine and enters the workforce only to be spit out the other end when his productivity has expired.

In addition to bashing corporations and Republicans, Biafra takes swipes at “jocks”, “goons”, “hicks”, “racists” and basically anybody who is white and male.  Before I even read The Redneck Manifesto, I found it strange that, for someone who allegedly cares about the “everyman”, Biafra sure likes to make low-ball attacks on the po’ white folk in songs like “Winnebago Warrior” or “Goons of Hazard.”  Hell the latest album by his current band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine (oh, ho ho!), is called White People and the Damage Done.  What’s with the formalities?  Why not just call it Kill All the White People?  Or maybe that’s so unsubtle that people would think it’s a joke.

But, I do respect the man and his band’s uphill struggle against censorship.  I also find it ironic that it’s someone on the left who tried to destroy his career after the Dead Kennedys inserted the H.R. Giger painting, Landscape XX, into the sleeve of the Frankencrhist LP.  I found it doubly ironic that he’s spent his career defending free speech in an era when it was people on his side that are trying to kill it with political correctness.

And then he pulls this shit.  “Nazi Trump Fuck Off”?!  Like are you fucking serious?  For those not in the know, the Dead Kennedys song “Nazi Punks Fuck Off”, a minute long blast of raging hardcore that attacked assholes on the scene who liked to start fights and beat people up in the pit, was originally released on their 1981 EP In God We Trust, Inc.  Later on, as Nazi Skinheads became a regular fixture in the punk, hardcore and metal scenes of the 80s and 90s, the song seemed actually kind of prescient and important.  By 2016, as occurrences of neo-Nazi gang beatings are practically non-existent in most punk scenes, the song has lost all relevance outside of being a fun blast of hardcore with a well meaning, but otherwise, completely safe message.

So, then I have to ask: is Biafra THAT stupid or is he so damn desperate to keep the pulse on the finger of the young “punx”, a subculture that’s nearing its fortieth year and has all but been turned into a leftist recruitment tool, that he’s willing to pull out Godwin’s law, internet-meme level, stupid tropes like “Trump’s a Nazi” in order to keep the spiky haired fan base tuned in?  And on top of that, are they so stupid that they actually believe him?

Don’t answer that question.

Anyone who pays attention to what Trump has said knows that that man is not only NOT a Nazi, he doesn’t even care about abortions, gay marriage, marijuana or transgender issues;  he literally answers questions about all of these topics with something along the lines of, “I will, but I won’t, but I care, but I don’t.”  Translation: “I just want close the border, end trade deals and not let Syrian refugees in the country.  Other than that, do whatever the heck you want.”  In fact, many strict, hard-liner evangelicals say he’s not conservative enough.

Trump’s contentious views regard illegal immigrants, most of whom are Mexican, and Syrian “refugees”, most of whom are male and Muslim.  No matter how Biafra wants to cut and slice it, most Americans feel the immigration system is broken; they don’t like sanctuary cities, immediate citizenship upon birth or how their cities are turning into Spanish speaking barrios; they wouldn’t like it if their cities were turning into Polish speaking ghettos either.  On top of that, many Americans don’t feel comfortable with letting 10,000 Syrian refugees, people who have values quite different from those of the West as evidenced by, oh, I dunno, incidents in Europe ranging from the raping of a bunch of women in Cologne to the blowing up of the Bataclan in Paris, into the United States.  It’s apparently “racist” now to want to keep your family safe.  Except that Islam isn’t a race; it’s a religion.  Wasn’t it Jello Biafra who wrote “Religious Vomit”?

All religions make me wanna throw up
All religions make me sick
All religions make me wanna throw up
All religions suck
They all claim that they have the truth
That’ll set you free
Just give ’em all your money and they’ll set you free
Free for a fee

They all claim that they have ‘the Answer’
When they don’t even know the Question
They’re just a bunch of liars
They just want your money
They just want your consciousness

[Chorus]
All religions suck
All religions make me wanna throw up
All religions suck
All religions make me wanna BLEAH

They really make me sick
They really make me sick
They really make me sick
They really make me sick
They really make me sick
They really make me ILL

ALL religions, Jello.  I get it; in your estimation, ALL religions just means “Christianity and ALL of its derivations.”  But to us, Jello, that is, the people who aren’t brainwashed by cultural Marxism, “ALL religions” means you can’t play favorites.  As far as we’re concerned, there’s ONE religion that we need to watch out for.  Here, let me give you a hint there, buddy:

muhammad

See that guy?  If you’re a gay person or a woman, that guy is not on your side.  If you’re a Jew, Christian or atheist, that guy is especially not on your side.  Trump wants to ban 10,000 people who believe in that guy from entering the United States, and he’s the Nazi?

I really love the Dead Kennedys.  In fact I think the rest of the band are a bunch of buffoons for hiring scabs like Brandon Cruz, Jeff Penalty and that one guy from that one band to take your spot.  I really love the records you made with Mojo Nixon, Tumor Circus, Nomeansno, D.O.A., the Melvins and even your latest band with the really stupid name.  Hell, I saw you guys twice, and Andrew Weiss killed it!  Jello, if you read this, I’m the guy who was at the show at Small’s in 2010, whose mouth you stuffed one of your rubber gloves into and then rudely shoved a mic in my face asking if I had anything “intelligent” to say.  Well, I didn’t at the time, but I do now.

You’re a coward.  Your buddies in Conflict, who wrote that great, anti-Muslim song “An Option”, on the other hand, might share your retarded, anti-Capitalist sentiment, but they at least understand that letting more Muslims into their country will increase the risk of getting killed.

The Eagles of Death Metal were performing at the Bataclan and watched people get blown up.  Gavin McInnes interviewed vocalist Jesse Hughes, who some publications have banned because of his contentious views towards Muslims.  HE WATCHED PEOPLE DIE, and now people are calling him racist.  He’s pro-Trump and he’s anti-Muslim, which means, in this day and age, he’s anti-death and pro-survival.  He’s got balls, and you don’t.

I know you’ve got a career to maintain, but, if you’re going to take on the easiest, wussiest, least edgy political stance of all time in order to keep fourteen year old kids coming to your shows, can you at least not insult my intelligence with your bullshit?

 

 

No Good Music, My Ass! Albums of 2016 I’ve Been Enjoying the Heck Out Of

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It’s Friday night and the first night of a four day weekend for me.  I didn’t feel like heading out tonight, so instead, I decided to mix me a vodka/soda cocktail and, rather than get into weighty philosophical or political topics, talk about my favorite albums of 2016 so far.  If you’re a music fan, you have no business complaining that you have nothing to listen to.  Here is a list of some fine albums I’ve listened to and/or purchased so far this year.

UXO – UXO

I already did a lengthy review of this album, but to recap, UXO, which is military lingo for unexploded material that could soon blow, is also a pairing of two of noise rocks best and longest enduring guitarists; Steve Austin from Today Is the Day and Chris Spencer from Unsane, The Cutthroats 9 and Celan.  My only complaint about the album is that it’s too short; it’s supposed to be an LP, but it only has seven songs on it, and they aren’t long songs.  Last time I checked 26 minutes does not an LP make.  This, however, is a very minor complaint.  Spencer lays down the crushing, low end riffs, while Austin plays whirling, noisy Frippian melodies atop.  Scorchin’!  Buy here at Reptilian!

Värähtelijä – Oranssi Pazuzu

Black metal in space!  Hawkwind crossed with Mayhem!  Or something along those lines.  I’m not even going to try to pronounce the title for the fourth album by this wicked Finish band.  I like ’em A LOT!  I have their other three albums as well, and this one is no disappointment.  Are you in space? Are you in Hell?  Who knows?  Just take this 70+ minute journey; I dare you!

Post Society EP – Voivod

No need to be objective about one of my favorite bands.  Voivod have been rockin’ and rollin’ since the early 80s.  And while they’ve gone through a number of styles, their key approach, the one loved by most fans, is their mix of King Crimson style prog and thrash metal.  Current guitarist Danny “Chewie” Mongrain, who replaced Dennis “Piggy” D’Amour, who passed away from colon cancer in 2005, shows that he’s up for the job of playing those odd, spacey, dissonant chords and weird melodies that made Voivod one of the most unique metal bands.  Also Dominique “Rocky” Laroche takes the place vacated by Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault nearly two years ago.  Singer Dennis “Snake” Bellinger and drummer Michel “Away” Langevin remain intact.  Group covers “Silver Machine” by Hawkwind, but why only five songs?

Terminal Redux – Vektor

Third and latest album by this Arizona based band and first released on Earache.  Voivod inspired, sci-fi metal overkill, but with black metal vocals and blast beats; just a lot of great ‘n’ weird melodies, complicated time changes and dissonant chords for 70+, relentless minutes.  Saw these dudes at Berserker Fest and they totally destroyed.

Revengeance – Conan

I still wonder if the ridiculous name for the fourth Conan album was inspired by  the unintentionally funny title for the latest Slayer album, Repentless.  Either way I’m enjoying this British sludge metal power trio more and more.  With a name like Conan, for some reason I thought they would be way more technical and melodic, maybe like Cirith Ungol or something, but it turns out they just play really heavy and slow.  Their first couples albums are a bit, “eh.”  But they finally hit their stride with some killer riffs on their third Blood Eagle and this here fourth album Revengeance, going all High on Fire style; The Art of Self Defense/Surrounded by Thieves High on Fire, that is.

Three Men and a Baby – Mike & the Melvins 

If someone were to tell you that the music on Three Men and a Baby was recorded in 1998, would you believe it?  Aside from disrupting the flow of the Melvins discography by naming the band Mike & the Melvins, it’s pretty darn safe to consider  Three Men and a Baby a Melvins record; also their first to be released on Sub Pop.  If I’m not mistaken, the Melvins’ lineup at the time of this recording was King Buzzo, Dale Crover and former Cows bassist at the time was Kevin Rutmanis.  But, for this release, the group teamed up with Mike Kunka, who played bass for GodHeadSilo.  Album has plenty of hot ‘n’ heavy King Buzzo licks and killer Dale Crover drumming, as you would expect with the Melvins.  They also cover “Annalisa” by Public Image Ltd.  And make sure to guffaw at the song title “A Friend in Need Is a Friend You Don’t Need.”  The Melvins have another album coming out shortly, but don’t they always have another album coming out?

Negative Noise – Child Bite

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of this dope album for free because they were giving them out at the show in Detroit, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I would have easily bought a copy.  Released through Housecore and produced by none other than Phil Anselmo, Negative Noise, although a tad more accessible than their previous few efforts, is still full of their weird, Jesus Lizard/Killdozer inspired punk-prog-sludge.

The Machine Stops – Hawkwind

Long time reigning gods of space rock are back with their first official studio album in four years.  If you’re familiar with Hawkwind, then you know their discography is huge, and you also know that their members have a ton of side projects, in effect creating a whole mini-musical universe.  Hawkwind fans get just as excited by side projects, such as Hawklords (the new Hawklords that is, not the old Hawklords, which was really just Hawkwind with a different name) or solo albums by former bassist Alan Davey, as they do with the group’s official releases.  I would say Nik Turner, but, if you’re familiar with Hawkwind, you know there’s acrimony between the Brock and Turner camps.  I don’t get into these petty debates and, since I’ve seen Nik Turner twice, well, ya know… but, man oh man, what a great album!  Epic space rock, ambient electronic, a song with Middle Eastern influences, and the entire thing is based on the EM Forster sci fi classic.  What can I say other than, “when will Hawkwind finally come to the United States?”

Dystopia – Megadeth

Megadeth have now released fifteen studio albums, and yet have one of the patchiest discographies.  Part of that has to do with Dave Mustaine’s desire to try new stuff all the time.  Dystopia hearkens back to Rust in Peace era melodic thrash.  Also, hot damn, they do a Fear cover!

It Came from N.Y.C. – White Zombie 

It Came from N.Y.C. is a box set containing long-awaited reissues of the group’s pre-La Sexorcisto, independent releases, when they were an underground, New York based, noise rock band.  The box set contains an LP with the Gods on Voodoo Moon EP on side 1 and the “Pig Heaven”/”Slaughter the Grey” single on side 2 along with full reissues of Psycho-Head Blowout, Soul-Crusher, Make Them Die Slowly and the God of Thunder EP.  It also comes with a killer coffee table book.  I do a more thorough review of the box set here.

 

 

Meet My New Co-Conspirator

I’m starting a blog called Right of the Dial with my new co-conspirator Lucy McGoldbergstein.  She used to teach economics and shit, and she thinks Detroiters “need to pay for their fucking water.”  I’ll continue to update SavageHippie, and like a true Jew, will save shekels by moving some of the best stuff from here to Right of the Dial.  Expect economic insights, current events, beauty tips and Holocaust denial.

lucy_picture

I Do Wanna go Back 50 Years and Do It Over.

me_pet_sounds_paper_backsI was discussing with my coworker whether, if it were 50 years ago, I would be into the music of the day.  My guess is most likely not.  I would imagine that a 32 year old version of me back in 1966 would have been married with a couple of kids, working a standard or above standard job, living in a nice house and buying my kids the paperback books you see me holding in the picture.  After all, if we’re going by what the culture was like back then, I probably would have outgrown “popular music” by, I dunno, 1952 at age 18 and focused entirely on either getting a career or going to college, back when having a college degree actually mattered.  The only reason I’m bringing all of this up is because I saw a Facebook post reminding me that the legendary Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds, was released 50 years ago, and it got me thinking about how art, culture and society have evolved/devolved in half a century.  So, let’s start with the topic I know the most about.

1966 is probably the most important year for rock ‘n’ roll.  The album took precedence over the single, and many of the most important albums were released that year.  Rock showed the establishment that it too could be taken seriously as a form of art.  Older, established bands were no longer content to just entertain an audience; now they were officially “artists.”

On Revolver the Beatles experimented with Eastern, Sitar sounds (“Love You To”) and backwards, psychedelic tape effects (“Tomorrow Never Knows”). On Aftermath, the Rolling Stones threw in baroque arrangements into “Lady Jane” and also used Eastern influences on both “Paint It Black” and “Mother’s Little Helper” – the former on the American version of Aftermath, and the latter on the European version.  And on their album, A Quick One, the Who performed the first “rock opera” (nine minute “A Quick One While He’s Away”).  On top of that, there were all of these wonderful, unique and creative albums from new bands; Black Monk Time by the Monks, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators by the 13th Floor Elevators, Freak Out! by Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention and both The Seeds and A Web of Sound by the Seeds, just to name a few.

One could say it was a gosh darned renaissance in pop music!  New ideas, new drugs, new open sexuality – the world was throwing off the shackles of the previous generation.  However, one album stands out among all of the other classics of ’66 for what sounds like a lamentation of all this “moving forward” that society was doing.  Okay, you could talk about how the Kinks sang about the loss of the old way of life to modernity, but for the sake of argument and because they’re British, let’s ignore them and focus on the album I’m holding in the picture: Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys.

If I’m not mistaken, most hipster people don’t think much of the Beach Boys because the group’s early surfin’, cruisin’, drag racin’ and tail chasin’ (okay, that last one was a bit of an exaggeration since their songs are pretty wholesome) world view reflected a macho, retrograde, capitalist, consumerist and all American culture that these days is all but a quaint memory.  That’s probably why the only Beach Boys album any of them seem to talk about is Pet Sounds.  And, I’m assuming that has more to do with Mike Love’s experimentation with orchestral flourishes, than what the group was singing about.  We want to turn on, tune in and drop out, and you’re singing songs about marriage?

When did the 60s actually start?  Well, obviously 1960, but 1960 was really no different than 1959.  We didn’t see any real spike in cultural upheaval until a few years after that.  As far as I’m concerned, the 1960s that Dennis Hopper says you weren’t in if you claim to remember it didn’t really begin until 1966.  Sure Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 put a damper on America’s soul, the 1964 Civil Rights Act rearranged how private businesses were allowed to operate, the 1965 Hart-Celler act fundamentally changed the American demographic from majority white to god knows what from god knows where and the 1965 Watts Riots led to the start of white flight from major cities to their neighboring suburbs, but a couple performances by some British rock bands on American TV in 1964 and 1965 didn’t exactly represent a rapidly shifting cultural zeitgeist as many would like to think.  In fact, if the clip that I saw of a couple of young people complaining about Jim Morrison’s onstage social/political rants are any indication, there were plenty of people from that era who viewed mainstream rock and pop music as nothing more than entertainment.

The true cultural shift began to manifest in about 1966.  Hollywood studios “broke the code” by releasing movies like Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with blatant references to “humping”, and the Michelangelo Antonioni film Blow-Up, which has a bunch of nudity in it because, like, nudity is cool.  Anton LaVey launched his Church of Satan because traditional religions are for the birds.  Bra-burning feminists hit the scene.  Black Panthers began to patrol the streets of major cities.  The kids were being told to not trust anyone over 30.  Hair was getting longer, sex was getting looser, movies were getting smuttier, music was getting druggier and American society was embroiled in one of the biggest cultural wars it had ever faced since, I dunno, the Civil War?

angry_bikersAnd so, it’s 50 years later.  I’m a HUGE fan of pop-cultural ephemera, music, films, magazines and books from the 60s.  I wonder if it’s possible for all of this stuff to exist if the culture hadn’t taken such a massive nose dive; would there even all these cool sexploitation films and biker films and John Waters films and Satanic films and women in prison films and excessively violent Spaghetti Westerns if there wasn’t a society to reflect off of?  Granted, the gangster and crime pictures of the 30s through the 50s were already reflecting the darker side of American culture, and of course there were horror movies.  Companies like American International made sensational movies like Teenage DollThe Wild Angels and The Trip so that the average Joe could experience “the other side” without having to join a gang, get into a violent brawl or drop a hit of acid himself.

When all was said and done, the majority of people didn’t participate in the lunacy and cultural degeneracy of the 1960s; they worked jobs, got married and had kids.  The ones that were part of the counterculture either became burnouts or were absorbed into academia and various parts of government, taking their views with them and forcing them onto future generations.

I’m sure many of the geriatric counterculture types who were alive in the 60s would never have guessed that we would have men in women’s clothing trying to use women’s restrooms or girls excusing their sluttiness with such clever labels as “polyamerous.”  The craziest yippie, hippie, degenerate freak of the 60s never would have even considered gay marriage a possibility.  Many “freaks” I talk to, who were around back then, still love the music, but now have way more conservative views.  Yes, these were degenerate freaks; but they were mostly heterosexual, degenerate freaks.

And so we have the first verse of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, the opening track on Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys:

wouldn’t it be nice if we were older
then we wouldn’t have to wait so long
and wouldn’t it be nice to live together
in the kind of world where we belong
you know it’s going to make it that much better
when we could say good night and stay together

Can you imagine such an antiquated notion as asking someone to marry you marketed to the kids of today?  Forget the kids; what about the 36 year old sluts who are getting pumped and dumped for the umpteenth time by some guy in his early 30s, who doesn’t want to commit to an over the hill broad that still thinks of herself as top shelf in the sexual market place?

Jesus, don’t even bother with these lines:

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
We could be married
And then we’d be happy

Praying?!  Why that sounds like something those stupid Christians do!  Pet Sounds came out 50 years ago right about the time the culture was “changing.”  We’re now seeing a mirror image of the 1960s.  The hippies, radical feminists and Black Panthers have been replaced by Occupy Wall Street, “free the nipple” feminists and Black Lives Matter thugs, and, with the ascendancy of Donald Trump, the growing discontent of the American worker, the trend in single motherhood, increasing inner city crime, the desire to end trade agreements, overbearing political correctness and a stronger nationalist sentiment, I have a feeling the next generation may be clamoring  for a reversal of 50 years of “progress.”