Welcome to yet another edition of my blog series, Get (Into) What You Paid For. Its day 36 of the challenge and there have been no slips apart from the time-sensitive acquisition of a concert ticket. As I’ve mentioned last time, I have been away in the Netherlands, then celebrating a birthday recently. These two events have made my resolve not to buy new things pretty strong for the past fortnight or so. I mean… I could go out and buy something, but there’d be no time to listen to it anyway, so why bother?
The last few days I’ve been listening repeatedly to birthday gifts in the form of CDs by Manowar, Helloween, and the Fratellis, succumbing to all of their charms one by one. A real good trio of gifts I must say. This high attention focus on the new items has kept my brain very occupied and I didn’t look elsewhere for musical satisfaction.
Today, I’ve spent many hours reading another birthday gift; Martin Popoff’s book of 500 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums. This is a really interesting and entertaining book for someone like me.
It was assembled by compiling a massive international survey of Metal musicians and people in the know, (and at points you can find out many prominent Metal musician’s own personal top-10s) and then each album, with very few exceptions, is accompanied by a comment from the author (who sometimes hates the albums chosen and isn’t afraid to let you know) and an interview from a band member or other significant person.
Sometimes the quotes aren’t perfectly about the album; and are about the artwork, or guitars in general, or whatever, but for the most part, regardless of what quote is chosen it is entertaining.
Needless to say, for someone who probably owns at least 350 of the 500 chosen albums it makes your brain continuously say “OOOOh, I want to hear that again! Oooh, I want to hear that again too! Oooh, and that one as well.”
So; rather than playing-out Fratellis and Manowar too quickly, today has been spent reacquainting myself with albums that Popoff brought back to my attention. Here’s a quick visual guide to my past two days (see if you can spot a sort of semi-theme):
Now, some of them, I’ve been listening to a lot recently anyway, like Accept and Saxon. Some of them, I feel like statistically I’ve listened to a lot but mentally feel like I haven’t heard a lot like Anvil and Motorhead. Some of them, like Savatage and even-more-so Merciful Fate I don’t even think are all that great, or at least I didn’t until today. I’ve really, really re-valuated my opinion of those two records, I thought Savatage’s Power Of The Night was decent but a bit lame, but now its charming and satisfying…. Merciful Fates’s Don’t Break The Oath is an album I’ve more or less ignored apart from monthly attempts at one track or so, which I can never enjoy due to the ludicrous vocals and vocal production and how high the vocals are in the mix. Today, I somehow got my brain to tilt, and see it from a different perspective, and enjoyed it as the very ambitious and accomplished record that it is. Sure, King’s vocals are too loud, too echoey and too cartoony, but the music is bad ass. Its got a lot of bold scope and is surprisingly advanced. Even more progressive in song structure than Diamond Head and more modern and Thrash-informing than Angel Witch. Oh yeah, and it has one of the coolest album covers ever, but then I always thought that anyway.
I was going to do a section on what I’m tempted to buy, as is the usual situation in these articles…but I think that at the moment that is pretty much every album in the book that I don’t own yet (eg. Tyger’s Of Pan Tang’s Spellbound, Motley Crue’s Girls Girls Girls, Aerosmith’s Toys In The Attic, anything by Celtic Frost or Candlemass etc.). Also a proper Anvil studio album so I can get a better feel for them.
I don’t actually feel like buying them though, because I know that I have all this new Manowar and Helloween and Sick Of It All to digest…and I haven’t even opened the new Down EP yet!
Well; that seems like a decent length of article for the time being, seeing as I’ve got other things brewing at the same time [I’ve been listening to live albums in boxsets by MSG and Dokken recently, and discovering the same thing I did when I found that live album by Saxon last year (you may remember this). So I feel I have an article to write about Live Albums. I’ll have to crack open my Foghat Live, Mountain Twin Peaks, Deep Purple Made In Japan, Motorhead No Sleep Til Hammersmith, Faith No More Live At Brixton Academy, Maiden Live After Death etc. and give them all a re-listen, re-evaluation and write a paragraph or two about ‘em.] I’ll just leave you with a quick series of Tops 5s of Traditional Heavy Metal:
Iron Maiden :
2. Rhime Of The Ancient Mariner
3. Where Eagles Dare
4. Hallowed Be Thy Name
5. Fates Warning
Judas Priest :
1. Burnin’ Up
2. Electric Eye
3. Beyond The Realms Of Death
4. Killing Machine
5. Eat Me Alive
1. Denim And Leather
2. To Hell And Back Again
3. Princess Of The Night
4. Heavy Metal Thunder
5. Machine Gun
1. (We Are) The Roadcrew
2. All The Aces
3. (Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind Ya Down
4. No Class
5. Rock It
Ozzy Osbourne :
1. You Looking At Me Looking At You
3. Demon Alchohol
4. Over The Mountain
5. Rock N Roll Rebel
1. Caught In The Middle
2. King Of Rock And Roll
4. I Speed At Night
5. Stand Up And Shout
[Side note: Also, why isn’t there a definitive Van Halen live album in the spirit of Live At Leeds or Made In Japan?].
[Side note 2: What do you lovely people think of King Diamond’s vocals and Merciful Fate in general?]
[Side note 3: Some of Popoff’s own sentences are complete gibberish. I don’t mean to be critical of any writer considering how my own writing is often gibberish, but boy-o-boy, some of the sentences in this book are mad as a bag of weasels]
Glad to hear the 500 book worked out – good question about VH, Live at Leeds was the album that converted me to a Who fan!
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Especially becuase every documentary ever talks about what a great live band they were. Where is the Kiss Alive style live album to prove it?