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?

Playlist 5/18/2016

Judas Priest – Painkiller
Motörhead – Bomber
Motörhead – The Golden Years EP
Motörhead – Bastards
King Diamond – Fatal Portrait
Alice Donut – Revenge Fantasies of the Impotent
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – The Spotlight Kid
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Clear Spot
Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band – Ice Cream for Crow
Weedeater – …And Justice for Y’all
Weedeater – Sixteen Tons
Rush – Fly by Night
UFO – Force It
Witchfinder General – Death Penalty

Also, I’m seeing Weedeater w/ Today Is the Day, Author & Punisher and Lord Dying tonight!!!

Playlist 5/11/2016

Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead
Cirith Ungol – One Foot in Hell
Slayer – Hell Awaits
Mayhem – Chimera
Thin Lizzy – Chinatown
Blue Öyster Cult – Cultösaurus Erectus
Acid King – Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Hawkwind – Take Me to Your Leader
Wire – Chairs Missing
T. Rex – The Slider
Motörhead – Orgasmatron
Yes – Going for the One
Manilla Road – The Courts of Chaos

Let’s Have a Shout Out to the TRUE King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

lemmy-motorhead-motorheadphones-4

Note: This was originally posted at The New Paine, so it would be fairly accurate to assume that the readers of that blog are not too familiar with the “guerrilla history” of rock ‘n’ roll.  I’m sure the readers of THIS blog have more than a cursory knowledge of the topic.

One of the dorkiest and most annoying things that right wingers try to do is rationalize how it’s possible to hold conservative views and still be a rock ‘n’ roller.  They write stupid articles like this National Review piece about progressive rock, this list of the top 50 conservative rock songs or this article about Republican Grateful Dead fans.  What a dumb way to tell people who don’t give a shit that you’re “one of them.”  It’s even dumber when some Republican brags about how he’s a Rage Against the Machine fan; who cares?  Rage Against the Machine sucks ding dongs.

I’m assuming the majority of the readers of this blog are not super knowledgeable about the secret, guerrilla history of rock ‘n’ roll.  When asked who the king of rock ‘n’ roll is, most people will probably say Elvis, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones and, while those are all great performers/bands, they really don’t hold a candle to the one and only Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, the unstoppable, long haired, bearded, side burn sporting, leather and bullet belt wearing, Rickenbacker slingin’, mole faced, hoarse voiced singer/bassist for Motorhead.  Like the Ramones and AC/DC, Motorhead were known for their consistently pleasing, hooky and LOUD brand of rock ‘n’ roll.  Some call it metal, some call it rock, some call it punk, but to Lemmy this meant NOTHING.

The history of rock ‘n’ roll can parallel the history of the world – after society was born, it broke apart into various factions, some warring, some united, and driven by copious amounts of revolutions, counter-revolutions and counter-counter-revolutions.  Punk against prog, metal against punk, hardcore against new wave, grunge against glam metal, rock against disco and so on and so forth…

Lemmy was the grand ambassador.  In the late 1970s, when punk rock came to dominate the underground London rock clubs and give the middle finger to the older generation of aging hippies cum prog musicians who packed arenas with drugged out, long haired nerds and played endless songs utilizing mountains of expensive musical equipment, there was Lemmy who paid allegiance to no scene.  One day he would pal around with big time, multi-platinum selling theatrical art rockers Queen and big time metal act Black Sabbath and the next day he’d hang out with Joey Ramone or attempt to teach the bass to Sid Vicious, who never got it down, but joined the Sex Pistols anyway.

As the years and trends passed, Lemmy became friends with virtually anyone who wasn’t a dick; a google search would produce a bunch of photos of Lemmy hanging with, well, anyone!  Motorhead superseded all of the trends – punk rock, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal, glam metal, grunge, garage rock and continued to release album after album after album of brilliant satisfying rock ‘n’ roll until his passing a few days ago on December 28th at the age of 70.  Lemmy’s death came as a shock only because, in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, Lemmy seemed virtually unkillable.  Other musicians toned down their partying, started families and bought expensive pieces of real-estate to make sure they would have a nice pot of gold once they finally hung up the guitar.  Or, as the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, ZZ Top and Aerosmith have done, would pat themselves on the back for how long they’ve been going at it, yet only release an album or tour once every decade.  What DO these guys do in their spare time?  Oh, yeah, tend to their real-estate careers or play golf.

Not Lemmy; he lived, ate, drank and breathed rock ‘n’ roll from his teen years to his death.

Born on Christmas of 1945 in Stoke-on-Trent and raised in North Whales, Lemmy was abandoned by his preacher father after only three months, which might help explain his blatant disdain towards the Christian religion and his developing atheistic viewpoint.

At age 14, he saw some rock ‘n’ roll people on TV and all of the girls screaming at their feet and decided that was the career for him; as Lemmy once quipped, that, for some reason or another, any time a guy a picks up a guitar, he’ll have women swarming around him.  Done deal.  A few years later, Lemmy was slingin’ axe for local groups the Motown Sect (“I hate that soul shit”) and the Rockin’ Vickers, the latter who recorded a solid cover of “Dandy” by the Kinks.

But, what’s really fascinating is that Lemmy witnessed the Beatles at the Cavern club in 1962.  Anyone who thinks of John Lennon as a long haired, peacenik married to Yoko Ono and singing the 1970s version of “we are the world” called “Imagine” probably isn’t aware that, in the early 60s, Lennon was a cussing, fighting, fried chicken chomping, teddy boy, who wouldn’t hesitate to drop his guitar, walk off the stage and kick the crap out of some heckler.  The big misconception is that the Beatles were the “nice” band the Stones were the brooding, bluesy tough guys.  The Stones were upper middle class blokes who traded blues and early rock ‘n’ roll 45s and posed like 60 year old blues men – essentially they were the “wiggas” of their time.  Some might even call what they did “cultural appropriation.”

Anyhow, by 1967, the rock world changed; hair got longer, drugs got trippier and psychedelia was the name of the game.  The class of ’67 includes the Doors, Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Joplin.  Lemmy was a small player, but a charming fellow on the London underground scene, roadie-ing for and dealing acid to Jimi Hendrix, who Lemmy still thinks is THE best guitarist of all time (maybe he’s right?).  In 1968 Lemmy played guitar, sang and wrote all of the songs for Sam Gopal, a tabla percussionist from Malaysia, on his extremely druggy, hippie-delic album Escalator before joining the mediocre Opal Butterfly.

His big break, however, came in 1971 when, at age 25, he joined the space rock band Hawkwind; I consider them to be the musical equivalent of Dr. Who before Dr. Who became popular in North America.  In other words, Hawkwind is an institution in its own right, a cult phenomenon that began in 1969 and is going to this day, releasing albums and creating a science fiction world through their music, lyrics, art work and expansive stage show.

Lemmy replaced his guitar with a bass, to which he applied his aggressive playing style and helped give Hawkwind a major kick in the ass, helping to create the driving “space rock” sound.  According to Lemmy, Hawkwind was NOT about peace and love, but about attacking you with lights, lasers, unfathomably loud sounds and a big breasted, nude dancer named Stacia.

Unfortunately Lemmy’s tenure in Hawkwind lasted less than four years.  After singing lead on the group’s only hit “Silver Machine” and playing on four albums – Doremi Fasol Latido, Space Ritual, Hall of the Mountain Grill and Warrior on the Edge of Time – he was unceremoniously dismissed from the band.  Accounts differ as to what actually happened, but two things remain clear; Hawkwind were like a nation in that they had so many members that a civil war of differing interest was inevitable and that, with Lemmy’s departure, Hawkwind would never be the same again.

Lemmy once humorously said that he had been fired from so many bands, he started one of his own to prevent that from happening again.  In 1975, at age 29, that’s exactly what he did.  Starting in the bohemian Ladbroke Grove district of London – an area where naive hippie types drop acid, rage against “the man” and worship Socialist and Anarchist losers – Lemmy formed Bastard.  According to manager Doug Smith, a band with a name like that was never going to get anywhere; of course these days people wouldn’t bat an eye lash with the existence of bands like Anal Cunt and Nunslaughter, but 1975 was a different time!  So Lemmy changed it to the slightly less offensive Motorhead, named after the final song he wrote for Hawkwind and based on his love for amphetamines.
I’m not going to go into the extensive history of Motorhead since that would be tedious and has been covered elsewhere.  I’m here to discuss what their music means to me and why I believe Lemmy is the true king of rock ‘n’ roll.  After a few missteps, Motorhead was flying.  Over the course of its 40 year existence (which is officially over according to current drummer Mikkey Dee), the group released 23 studio albums, numerous live albums, compilations, singles and EPs.  Like AC/DC, Slayer and the Ramones, many accuse Motorhead of making the same album over and over again.  This assessment is both lazy and false.  The group stuck with the heavy blues rock format, but kicked up the speed to unfathomably fast tempos, their albums were consistent in sound and tone, the album covers all look the same and Lemmy stuck to mostly the same themes in all of their songs, but mindless repetition it was not.

It’s just that the band’s sole intention was to make good rock ‘n’ roll at three to four minutes a clip (with the very occasional epic making it to six or seven minute length) and nothing more; they never made a double concept album with an elaborate story about a boy’s journey to be a hero in some fantasy land, they never made an acoustic album, they never did an all covers album of old jazz favorites and they never went through phases to prove to people that they vigorously changed in chameleon like fashion to adapt to trends that would be outdated six months later (ahem, David Bowie).  They were just a good time rock ‘n’ roll band who believed in the CRAFT of writing good – nay GREAT – songs that delivered instant pleasure and immediate gratification.

Lemmy’s outlook on life was painfully simple; as Viv Shrimpton said in This Is Spinal Tap, “have a good time all the time.”  Lemmy also claimed that Motorhead are not a political band, but then slightly contradicted this statement when he said, “if I see things as fucked, I’m gonna tell you they’re fucked.”  What did Lemmy see as “fucked”?  War, religion (well, Christianity specifically), politicians and businessmen (basically anyone who wore a suit and sat in an office for a living) and would occasionally attack some of society’s other demons, such as media corruption (“Talking Head”), censorship (“Brave New World”) and child molestation (“Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me”).

What did Lemmy see as “not fucked”?  Sex (sometimes with underage girls), rock ‘n’ roll, gambling, touring in the U.S.A. and telling various versions of “the man” to shove it.  Oh, and did I mention sex?  The only time in the group’s career where they caused controversy was in 1991 when some feminist harpies complained that the song “I’m So Bad (Baby, I Don’t Care)” is sexist.  This surprised Lemmy more than anyone else, who wondered why they didn’t pick up on other, more blatant songs such as “Jailbait.”

But sexist Lemmy was not; how could he be when he gave full support and backing, not mention collaborating with contemporary, all-female metal band Girlschool?  Lemmy wasn’t racist either, nor was he homophobic.  In fact, in one case, he tricked drummer Mikkey Dee, a good looking glam rocker into hanging out at a gay bar.  Don’t let the hairspray and makeup fool you; Dee was PISSED! But that’s how you build tolerance, by submerging someone in another world.

And yes, I can forgive Lemmy for advocating for the election of Barack Obama in 2012 under the hilarious pretense that Romney would make abortion illegal just like that.  I can understand the concern; when your sperm is floating around in 1,000+ women, abortions probably would save you from going bankrupt.

Above all, Motorhead were a fan’s band.  You either were part of the cult or you weren’t. Motorhead never released an album that sold as much as Back in Black, Appetite for Destruction, Metallica’s self-titled black album or Nevermind.  Their most popular album is still their 1980 masterpiece Ace of Spades and, if I’m not mistaken, it hasn’t even gone platinum!  Indeed there are hundreds of thousands of little bands crawling in the underground that are infinitely less popular than Motorhead, but, what makes Motorhead unique is that they have remained just under the radar, possibly the world’s most popular underdogs and the band that everyone’s favorite bands listened to.  Metallica site Motorhead as a primary influence, name dropped them in just about every interview, performed at Lemmy’s 50th birthday party and even covered several of their songs.  Did this make Motorhead any more popular?  It truly makes me wonder about the taste of the average music fan.  Ironically Motorhead’s one Grammy award came from a cover of the Metallica song “Whiplash.”

In a way, it’s kinda cool; I feel like I’m part of a secret group within a group.  It didn’t matter what sub-sect of the underground you were a part of because Motorhead appealed to all of them.  A Motorhead audience could consist of long haired metal heads, spiky haired punk rockers, pompadour sporting rockabilly dudes, just anybody who enjoys good rock ‘n’ roll.

And, after a long day of work, isn’t that what everyone needs?  In a world where we’re bombarded with threats of terrorism, politicians who want to take away one right after another, high unemployment rates and a media that distorts stories and plays up special interests to drive a narrative, isn’t that what anyone wants?  To sit back with a beer and crank up some loud, ear damaging rock ‘n’ roll music?

Oh and, their logo/mascot, known as either “Snaggletooth”  or the “War Pig” looks hella cool on t-shirts!

Motorhead – Aftershock

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If you’ve “liked” the official Motorhead fan site on facebook, then you’re probably aware of the amount of fierceness with which the Motorhead p.r. team is pushing the group’s latest effort, Aftershock; everything from status updates asking about your favorite album tracks to adorable pictures of cats posing with a copy of the album.  It’s been at least three years since the group’s last album, The World Is Yours and that is because Lemmy’s heavy drinking/poor diet lifestyle finally caught up with him and he was forced to take some time off in order to address his various health issues.  In fact, according to Lemmy, even during the making of Aftershock, he wanted to get through sessions quickly to go home and rest.

But here we are with the new Motorhead album and best since, I dunno, Kiss of Death?  If you think I’m being facetious, you’ve got another thing coming because I think later period Motorhead albums – Overnight Sensation, Snake Bite Love, We Are Motorhead, Hammered, Inferno and Kiss of Death – from the current and longest lasting lineup of Lemmy (bass, vocals), Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mickey Dee (drums) are just as strong as officially recognized classics like Overkill, Ace of Spades or Orgasmatron.  However it was the group’s previous two albums, Motorizer and The World Is Yours that left me feeling a little cold.  Maybe a few of the riffs were a little dull and trite?  I can’t say for sure except that “Rock Out” is still a gnarly tune.

Anyway my point is that Aftershock, though not quite as strong as the best Motorhead have done, is still quite the wicked collection of raging rock tuneage.  Plus there are 14 songs on it!  That’s more than the group have ever put on an album (not counting bonus tracks which led a different blogger to erroneously claim that Ace of Spades has 15 songs on it when it actually only has 12)!

Well yeah, it sounds like a Motorhead album.  You’re not going to hear anything you haven’t heard on previous Motorhead albums but you’re going to like what you hear.  The group has put the effort into some really great, dirty, simple, heavy and effective rock ‘n’ roll to back up Lemmy’s patented hoarse shouting.  Campbell really pulls out some neat riffs on Aftershock.  In fact it’s pretty commendable that he manages to play such killer, original riffs while sticking to a few heavy, basic chords; I’m surprised Campbell isn’t recognized more as one of the most enduring guitarists in heavy rock.  After all, he’s been in the band since 1983, second longest only to Lemmy!

Does the album have its clunkers?  Sure.  “Silence When You Speak to Me” sounds like “Man in the Box” and drags a bit and the mid-tempo, good-time, AC/DC-style rocker “Keep Your Powder Dry” isn’t the most inspiring song; although it has a strong bridge and guitar solo so it’s not a total loss.  The other mid-tempo, good time rocker “Crying Shame” is a hoot though and sorta reminds me of “Love for Sale” from Snake Bite Love.

But one thing is for sure.  There are more fast, “Overkill”/”Ace of Spades”/”Iron Fist”-style speed rockers than on either of the two previous records.  “End of Time”, “Going to Mexico”, “Queen of the Damned” and “Paralyzed” all tear it up.  Upper, mid-tempo, headbangers “Heartbreaker”, “Coup de Grace”, “Death Machine” and “Knife” are no slouches either.  And there a couple of slow jams in the form of “Lost Woman Blues” and “Dust and Glass” to vary things up a bit as well.

So, what else is there to say about a Motorhead album?  I could talk about the lyrics on a few songs here… lessee… “Coup de Grace” and “End of Time” both tell you how much the world around you sucks whether it be because of media lies, oppressive politics or religion.  “Do You Believe” is an uplifting tune about the power of rock ‘n’ roll.  And some others deal with women, death and violence.  There are also a couple of F-bombs on the album because what good rock ‘n’ roll album is entirely profanity-free, huh?  It’s great to have them back and to know Lemmy is doing well; though I hear he works out now.

Pink Fairies

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special introductory paragraph
Never Never Land
Mandies and Mescaline Round at Uncle Harry’s
What a Bunch of Sweeties
Kings of Oblivion
Live at the Roundhouse 1975
Previously Unreleased EP
Kill ’em and Eat ’em
Pleasure Island
No Picture

The Pink Fairies were an offshoot of the Deviants and emerged from the same bohemian/anarchist Ladbroke Grove scene from which Hawkwind, the Edgar Broughton Band and a whole bunch of other “anti-establishment” rock bands came from.  I used ironic quotes because, for all the press the Pink Fairies received for being anarchists, they sure as hell didn’t sing about this topic or even use social satire like the Deviants did.  I’m aware they set up free gigs and were considered a band of the people but, when your most popular song is about a certain male organ, it’s hard to really think of them sticking it to the man. But I like ’em though and isn’t that what counts?

Never Never Land – Polydor – 1971

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The original lineup for the Fairies consisted of former Deviants members Paul Rudolph (guitar/vocals), Duncan Sanderson (bass) and Russell Hunter (drums) along with former Pretty Things drummer John “Twink” Alder as a second drummer, I guess.  I never quite understood that.  His presence isn’t really felt and it doesn’t really seem to matter but, he’s there and that’s that.

So the biggest thing that got me interested in the Pink Fairies is their direct connection to Hawkwind and Motorhead.  But they certainly sound nothing like the former and only vaguely like the latter.  For better or worse, they’re just a solid rock band.  Or if you like parallels, they’re the MC5 to Hawkwind’s Stooges.  If the Stooges were the innovative, weird ones, then the MC5 just played really good rock ‘n’ roll.  But, since when was making solid rock music a crime?

And the first Pink Fairies album is loaded with solid rock tunes.  The primary styles seem to alternate between crunchy Slade and Mott the Hoople style hard rock and Floyd-style laziness.  Rudolph shows off his various tricks; dirty, distorted guitar riffs, normal, non-distorted riffs, phased psychedelic solos and pretty acoustic melodies.  What among those do you think is my favorite approach?  The ace rockers are “Do It”, “Say You Love Me”, “Teenage Rebel” and “The — HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!!!  “The Snake” isn’t on the album?!  What, arrgggglll!!!!

Incidentally, these are the lyrics to “The Snake”, the greatest Pink Fairies song and one of the greatest rock tunes ever, a locomotive of pre-punk, aggressive riffing and fast drumming!  It was later covered by Tank!!!

I’m gonna tell you baby, don’t try to hide, don’t try to hide
That snake just wants to come inside
Here comes the snaaaaaaake!!

Viva la revolution!!!

I like this album; it’s got some great songs on it.  “Teenage Rebel” is a real headbanging song about being an outcast baby!  A rebel!  You don’t want to run into this guy in the streets!  He’ll rough you up with this angry long hair and motorcycle jacket!

Although I don’t know why this tough, angry rock band would want to put “War Girl” and “Never Never Land” back to back considering how these songs are so laid back.  That’s no way to keep the speed snorting long hairs from falling asleep, is it?  Both are good songs but they just seem to slow down the momentum.  Also “Never Never Land” sounds more like a Deviants than a Pink Fairies song.

I should mention somewhere that “Track One, Side Two” is accompanied by piano, “War Girl” has some bongos on it and “Uncle Harry’s Last Freak Out” crams a bunch of riffs and solos together for 11 straight minutes and sounds as though someone forgot to fade song earlier.

What a Bunch of Sweeties – Polydor – 1972

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Well Twink is gone.

The album starts with a joke about the Pink Fairies playing on URANUS!!! Hahahahahha!!!

Of the the group’s three studio albums, What a Bunch of Sweeties is my least favorite.  It still has some decent material but some of these songs are either too long, not that great or just consist of goofing around.  For instance opening track “Right On, Fight On” is a solid piece of early 70s fist pumping, major chord rock but does it need to be eight minutes long?  Then the very next song “Portobello Shuffle”, although not a bad song, is just 12 bar boogie rock, no different from ZZ Top or AC/DC’s cover of “School Days.”  Listen to all three back to back and tell me differently!

Okay, now “Marilyn” is what I’m talkin’ ’bout!  That’s the kind of song I want to hear; a dirty, mean, hard rockin’ tune with angry, hoarse singing and crunchy guitar riffs!

Oh god, the next song is a novelty country tune called “The Pigs of Uranus”!!!  We’re halfway through the album!!!  Will all you Ladbroke Grove loving anarchists please tell me what you see in this band?!

We’re onto side two.  Now, I know this is a very condescending thing to say but the second best piece of music on this entire album is lifted from the surf guitar classic “Walk Don’t Run.”  The actual song it’s used in is also called “Walk Don’t Run” and is a nine minute epic that has other parts that are okay.  But, would this song be nearly as good without the classic riff played through a dirty fuzz tone?  I don’t think so!  That leaves us with three more songs…

I’m getting tired of this; why are so many songs on this album so long?  “I Went Up, I Went Down” is another eight minute Floyd style song with psychedelic effects on the guitar.  “X-Ray” is okay, I guess… but, what do I see here?  It’s “I Saw Her Standing There”!!!  So there you go, they redeemed an otherwise not so great album with a Beatles cover!

I’ve read tons about these guys being a “proto-punk” band and being all revolutionary and playing free gigs and stuff but I don’t get it.  Are you sure we’re listening to the same band?  I like dumb, early 70s hard rock!  But why is this group placed on a pedestal as something apart from that?  Actually I can guess… but is it right to have a “righteous” reputation just because you know a bunch of cool people?

Kings of Oblivion – Polydor – 1973

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The Larry Wallis album!  Paul Rudolph left, and the band recorded one okayish single with guitarist Mick Wayne(both sides of it are included as bonus tracks on the CD reissue), but he was gone soon after, and the band recruited former UFO guitarist Larry Wallis.  Larry Wallis is one of those underrated, “journeyman” musicians, kinda like Phil Manzanera (not his style, just his reputation), who have their fingerprints on a handful of really freakin’ great, though thoroughly underrated albums in the pantheon of rock.  And whaaat an album!  No acoustic songs, no novelty nonsense, just seven jammin’ hard rock songs, which bounce back and forth from Alice Cooper-style garagey hard rock, proto-punk, longer, jammier tunes and even a couple of sleazy boogie-rock numbers.

The album starts with “City Kids”, the second best Pink Fairies song behind “The Snake.”  It’s so good, in fact, that Wallis would take it with him when he joined Lemmy in Motorhead, and Lemmy liked it so much that, even after Wallis abruptly left Motorhead, they recorded it as the b-side to their “Motorhead” single.  Just a bunch of no good street kids hangin’ ’round; probably cut their long hair and became punks a couple years later.  The only other fast song on Kings of Oblivion is the instrumental “Raceway”, which, according to the liner notes, became an instrumental by accident.

“When’s the Fun Begin?” and “Chromium Plating” are both enjoyable songs with cool, angry riffs and lots of soloing; the latter has a bunch of wicked hammer on solos and endless drum rolls that are super fun to air drum to.  And “I Wish I Was a Girl” might seem a bit long at 10 minutes; but, if I have to hear a bunch of guitar solos, it might as well be from a pro like Wallis.  Is he admitting to being a sissy in the song? “As a streetfighter I don’t make it/ when the trouble starts, I can’t take it/ the site of blood don’t turn me on/when the trouble starts, I’m long gone.”  “Chambermaid” and “Street Urchin” are about a couple of loose women that you wish you knew.

Now what do you think of your revolutionaries?  I’m not kidding though; I’ve struggled to figure out why this group is placed on a counter culture pedestal when their music isn’t all that extraordinary and their lyrics don’t go beyond standard rock topics…

In a couple years Wallis would join Lemmy in an early incarnation of Motorhead and take some of his best songs with him!

Live at the Roundhouse 1975 – Big Beat – 1982

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This is a live album taken from a Pink Fairies reunion gig that took place on July 13, 1975 at the Roundhouse.  The lineup for the gig is Paul Rudolph, Larry Wallis, Duncan Sanderson, Russell Hunter and Twink.  The album only contains five numbers.  Apparently they performed more but the sound wasn’t good enough on the rest of them.

The only two songs featured on this collection that come from the studio catalog are “City Kids” and “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout.”  The other three are covers of “Lucille”, “Waiting for the Man” and “Going Down.”  Unsurprisingly the recording is bootleg quality and monophonic sounding but all the instruments are audible enough.

As far as the performances go, “City Kids”, while still great, seems a little sluggish.  “Waiting for the Man” is played like a straightforward rock song and needlessly extended to 10 minutes by guitar solos.  “Lucille” and “Going Down” are performed pretty close to their original 12 bar rock ‘n’ roll and blues rock originals, if a bit harder and “Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout” is 12 minutes long and filled with more needless guitar solos.  The group seems in good spirits and having fun but that live excitement somehow doesn’t transcend the recorded divide.  Or I just find the endless jamming kind of boring.

It’s probably obvious that I’m not super excited about listening to or talking about this release.  There’s not much else to say about it.

Previously Unreleased EP – Big Beat – 1984

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Featuring Larry Wallis and Duncan Sanderson with new drummer George Butler, Previously Unreleased wasn’t initially intended to be a Pink Fairies release.  To me it makes no difference since the band playing on this record is 2/3 of the one that played on Kings of Oblivion but I guess Larry Wallis didn’t feel like a Pink Fairy, ya know?

Previously Unreleased contains six brand new tunes and, just like the material that Wallis presented to the original Motorhead, these are basic rock tunes; remember the second Slaughter and the Dogs album Bite Back?  They’re like that.  These are hard rock tunes that lean on pub, glam and even a little bit of punk.

“Can’t Find the Lady” especially fits this punk/pub hybrid with 12 bar rockin’ and rollin’.  And that’s about it!  I honestly can’t think of anything else to say about these songs.  They’re not remarkably distinct but they’re not terrible either.  Wallis plays a mean guitar; he solos but doesn’t solo too much and the songs aren’t too long.
Don’t fret! Reviews for the rest of the catalog coming soon!

Lemmy: the early years

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Look, I’m obsessed with the man.  I went to the Rainbow in L.A. in hopes of meeting him.  I became a huge Motorhead fan a long time ago and, when I did, my college friends thought it was some sort of elaborate joke.  They thought I was trying to be funny by buying one of their releases after another.  “I don’t get it, dude.  All their albums sound the same!  And, like they wear leather jackets and bullet belts and like, they sing about rockin’ and rollin’ and like….” you get the idea.  I mean, I get it.  Lemmy isn’t the most eloquent lyric writer and Motorhead albums do all sound the same.  But, thankfully hard rock and hairy motorcycle culture has sort of come full circle as actually kind of cool again – at least in Detroit ;).

But, through it all, I learned that Lemmy is just a really cool guy!  He came of age with rock ‘n’ roll, having learned to play the guitar in 1960, at age 14, when he saw rock ‘n’ roll performers with women pining for them on TV.  He saw John Lennon kick the crap out of hecklers at the Cavern club in 1962!  How cool is that?

He was in the Rainmakers, the Motown Sect, the Rockin’ Vickers, Sam Gopal, Opal Butterfly and finally Hawkwind before he embarked on Motorhead.  He also dealt acid to Jimmy Hendrix.  So how can anyone knock the man?

Yeah, so I try to get all his stuff.  I didn’t review The Headcat because it kinda doesn’t fit the theme of the blog but, so, here we go, Lemmy’s early discography.

The Rockin’ Vickers – The Complete: It’s Alright! – RPM – 1999

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The Rockin’ Vickers were together from 1963 to 1967.  The original lineup consisted of Harry Feeney on vocals, Ian Holbrook on guitar, Steven “Mogsy” Morris on bass and Cyril “Ciggy” Shaw on drums.  On the wiki page it lists Nicholas Gibbons as a second guitarist around the time Ian Holbrook was in the band but that’s not in the liner notes so I don’t know what that’s all about.  Ian “Lemmy Kilmister” Willis replaced Ian Holbrook (and apparently Gibbons) on guitar in 1965.  The band only released four singles, most of which, consisted of covers and Lemmy doesn’t even play on the first one.  So, it’s safe to say that, if Lemmy wasn’t on the compilation, The Complete: It’s Alright, I probably wouldn’t have much interest in it.

No, that’s a lie.  It’s old and the group was under Shel Talmy so I guess I would still probably check it out.  But yeah, it is cool seeing Lemmy wearing his old, mod clothes or that silly vicar outfit.  Now, a vicar is a clergyman.  And one could reason the group decided to just pronounce this phonetically.  But, according to the urban dictionary, “vickers” is also slang for “cock” as in, “I showed your mum my vickers”, ohhh boy…

The Complete: It’s Alright contains fourteen tunes, the first eight of which are from the group’s four singles.  The rest are outtakes.  And well, let’s see, these aren’t hard edge mod rock songs like the Who, Creation or Kinks on “You Really Got Me.”  The songs bounce around from energetic 12-bar beat songs – you know “I Saw Her Standing there” – cutesy croony ballads and mid 60s pop/rock.  I lied though, they do “It’s Alright”, a complete rip off of “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” or, an interpolation or something.  And yeah, after the first two songs – Neil Sedaka’s “I Go Ape” and the bouncy “Someone Like You” – the guitar tone gets a bit tougher and more garagey.

I’m kinda confused by this reissue.  It lists “Stay By Me” and “I Don’t Need Your Kind” as credited to “Orbit music.”  Who is “Orbit Music”?  That’s the writer of the song?  As far as the credits say, the only originals on here are the ballad “Stella” and “I Just Stand There”, the former by Nicholas Gibbons and the latter by Cyril Shaw.  Otherwise the songs include  the mod/pop of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart””, the Kinks’ “Dandy”, rock ‘n’ roll standards “Say Mama”and “Shake Rattle and Roll”, really lightweight pop song “What’s the Matter with Jane” and an “in house” Ray Davies number called “Little Rosy.”

Is that Lemmy singing on “Little Rosy” behind that little, cute keyboard thing?  That’s funny!  I mean, I think it’s Lemmy!  It sure doesn’t sound like the other guy who just kinda sings in a normallish, non-distinct style.

In conclusion, I don’t have much to add about this CD.  It’s 32 minutes and has fun catchy tunes but, ultimately I prefer the original “Dandy” anyway.  “Someone Like You” is really fun though.  But otherwise it’s more of novelty and a curiosity than anything else.  Speaking of which…

Sam Gopal – Escalator – Stable – 1969

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Acid.  And so Ian “Lemmy” Willis joined Sam Gopal, a Malaysian tabla percussionist who moved to London in 1962, aware that British pop groups were usurping Indian sounds.  If you must know, the other two guys in the band were Roger D’Elia on guitar and Phil Duke on bass.  The band formed in 1967 after Gopal had formed and disbanded a bunch of other groups who performed on the same stage as all the other psychedelic bands in all the other psychedelic clubs in London.

For those who are unaware, tabla percussion are those hand drums you hear on “Love You To.”  Got it?  Even though the group is named Sam Gopal, guitarist/singer Ian “Lemmy” Willis, as he was credited on the LP, is the actual star based on the fact that he wrote all the original tunes – apparently in a single night.  I don’t know how true that is and, when I look at the CD reissue, the credits actually list all the members on a number of tunes.  I don’t know or care really.  They also cover “Season of the Witch” and “Back Door Man”, which wasn’t on the original but released as a single.  Also “Angry Faces” is credited to Alan Davidson, whoever that is.

The music: Psychedelic!  That’ it!  I mean, the entire thing is one big whirl of acid-trippy nonsense!  It’s a fun record for sure and either Lemmy, Roger D’Elia or both just constantly play wah-wah solos through-out as Lemmy moans the lyrics in his patented hoarse, thick British voice.  I mean, he wrote every song in one evening, so I don’t think the lyrics have any deep meaning at all.  It really is all psychedelic gibberish.  But it’s DARK psychedelic gibberish!  Some titles of interest include “Cold Embrace”, “The Dark Lord”, “The Sky Is Burning”, “You’re Alone Now” and “Angry Faces.”  Songs which don’t have dark titles but are still weird include “Horse”, “Grass”, “Escalator”,”Yesterlove” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  And I guess the title “It’s Only Love” could have come from any band.

Some songs have prettier melodies, some have blues licks, some are more distorted than others and some are a bit louder and wilder but overall, the whole album has a druggy vibe.  And the drums on all but one song are done with tabla so most of the album makes you feel like sitting and just tripping out.  “It’s Only Love”, as mellow as it is, is one of the standouts.  “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the only song that rocks; albeit in a druggy way but still has an actual drum kit propelling the tune.  The acoustic melody in “Yesterlove” sounds exactly like the start of “Stairway to Heaven”; I’m not gonna draw any conclusions from this!  “You’re Alone Now” sounds like the beginnings of both Lemmy’s Hawkwind tune “The Watcher” and Motorhead classic “Stone Dead Forever” both lyrically and musically.  The “Back Door Man” cover is pretty faithful.

But I know what you really want to know!  And the answer is; you gotta hear it!  Sam Gopal strip away all of the prettiness and sublimity from the original “Season of the Witch” and rumble through it with a heavy bass part, unsubtle, basic chords and some broad shrieking the “must be the season of the witch!”  I don’t think I need to describe the difference between the voices of Donovan and Lemmy.

And to conclude this piece, here are some lyrics chosen at random from the Escalator LP:

“Black wings across the sky bring the night fall/ winds wind around the stars, black riders call”

“The sky is burning, red and gold, the clouds are sweeping clean/ my thoughts returning to time when there was only youth”

“Can you see me in the glass/ Can you touch me as a I pass/You’re the one who wanted to be on your own/ and all the faces around you have turned to stone”

“Time goes by and I can see all the things I want to be/when I open wide my eyes, they tell me no lies/and I can feel it, the spring unwinding in my head/and if you think you like me livin’ baby, you’re gonna love me when I’m dead!”

Thank you, goodnight!