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THE OTHER BOOTLEGS
ANASTACIAIn all honesty, her first albums didn't do much for me. To much modern soul and R&B for my taste. But great voice. Then she released her last selftitled album and it was kick ass as far as I'm concerned. Everything improves when you add a healthy dose of rock music to it.
ANTHRAXOne of the original thrash metal bands of the 1980's. They were fairly successfull during the 1980's but fell back during the onslaught of 90's grunge. Interestingly enough when they finally changed leadsinger Belladona for Busch at the same time their music become more and more interesting as they explored new avenues.
BLACK SABBATHNowadays Black Sabbath seems to be most famous for the reality soap of leadsinger Ozzy Osbourne. But during the 1970's they were the godfathers of heavy metal defining the genre. Every decent heavy metal band pays hommage in some form to what Sabbath did. Heavy, chugging riffs coupled with dark lyrics with sometimes occult inspired lyrics were Sabbath's trademarks. And they have become trademarks of Heavy metal. Sex, drugs and lots of booze eventually got the better of Sabbath and Ozzy parted the band in 1980. Sabbath struggled on in various lineups of which IMHO the one with the ever constant Tony Iommi on guitar, Tony Martin on vocals and Cozy Powell on drums was the best. Currently the original lineup seems to have reformed but what they do, who knows?
BLUESBROTHERS, THEStrictly not a real band but ever since the days of a Saterday Night Live sketch to one of the best movies EVER, they have become cultural icons. Even before the movie they toured America wit their act, as preserved for ever on the Briefcase full of blues album. Although I've always wondered why they choose to call themselves Bluesbrothers when they played Soul and Rhythm and blues classics.
DEEP PURPLESomewhat overlooked as the big three of 1970's metal Deep Purple merged heavy bluesrock with classical influences. Their livealbum Made in Japan was the quintesential live album almost everybody had. They put the classical element into metal. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was the great hero of the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, who is certainly the godfather of classically inspired metal. Deep Purple was a band racked with internal strife and they changed lineups regularly. Having ditched the most troublesome Blackmore for the more agreable Steve Morse Deep Purple currently enjoys a moderately successfull career in the oldies market.
DIRE STRAITSThe Dire Straits were one of my first musical favorites. Because Philips used their Brothers in Arms CD to promote the CD player Dire Straits have become synonymous with easy listening musac. But that cannot hide that mark Knopfler was and still is a very good guitarist and that Dire Straits live was kick ass! I had the pleasure to attend several shows of their last tour and they rank almost next to U2 IMHO.
GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DELAWARE DESTROYERSI remember when they did the origal Live Aid back in '85. I was very fortunate that my father recorded it on video. Unfortunaly he used VHS for the 1st 4 hours and the old Philips VCC standard for the remainder. And even for that he fell asleep when he should have changed the tape. But lucky enough the VHS tape held both U2 and Queen. So I was watching the U2 performance, enjoying it immensely. When afterwards this guy comes up on the American stage playing some mean bluesrock, totally unintimidated that just prior U2 gave one of the landmark performances of that day. George Thorogood isn't the most technically gifted guitarplayer but delivers a very energetic take no prisoners approach. You've probably heared his most famous song, Bad to the bone, whenever Hollywood feels the need to underscore that some actor is a major bad ass.
GRIP INC.When Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo teamed up with German guitarist/producer Waldemar Sorytcha Grip Inc was born. A most interesting mix of Slayerite aggresion, interesting rhythms and a to me reminsicent U2ish approach to metal guitar playing. With Dave Lombardo back in Slayer the future of Grip Inc. seems uncertain but there are rumors of a new album as I write this.
GUANO APESOn the risk of offending our German friends, but musically little interesting has come from Germany since the days when classical music reigned supreme. Don't feel offended, the number of world conquering musical acts coming from my country is probably even smaller. But there are always exceptions to the rule. And Guano Apes proves that Germany can deliver a kick ass rock band. So far they are becoming better and better with every new album.
IRON MAIDENIron Maiden has become the exception to the rule that when you continue making the same music over and over again you end up becoming a joke. Somehow Maiden has made this its core strength. With every Maiden album you know what you are going to get. Good solid metal with lots screaming Bruce Dickingson vocals, over the top guitar harmony playing and long orchestral songs about the strangest topics ranging from history to literature. Maiden has transcended metal trends and generations and has become a metal institution known to young and old.
JEFF HEALEY BAND, TheA blind Canadian bluesrock guitarist you just got to heave seen live oince. Jeff Healey has the most unusual guitar playing technique. Anyone else plays guitar by carrying it on a strap over the shoulder while gripping the neck. He plays with his guitar on his lap (like its a hawaian steel guitar) and plays the strings like one plays piano. And very good actually. During one of their shows I suddenly discovered that the manager and bassplayer of the band was actually walking through the crowd during the opening acts performance. Naturally I asked for an authograph. he even complemented me on wearing the T-shirt of their previous tour.
LED ZEPPELINAt the time the greatest of the big three of 70's hard rock. Heavy bluesrock and later folk rock was their trademark. Heavy bluesriffs with screaming vocals made Led Zep the archetypal rock band and basically every American AOR and Glamrock band of the 80's has to pay hommage to Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin burned brightly during the 1st half of the 70's but like almost every band the usual suspects of sex drugs and alcohol killed of creativity and chances of long lasting success. They were on the decline when drummer 'Bonzo' Bonham got killed and the remainder of the group wisely choose to disband the group. Its always wise to quit while you are still ahead. Which is why Led Zeppelin is still legendary while contemparies Deep Purple and Black Sabbath are more less relegated to the oldies circuit.
LINKIN PARKYeah, I know. You either love Linkin Park or you love to hate them. Me, I quit like them.
METALLICAThere was a time when Metallica was god. They were the Supreme Lords of heavy metal. Not the heaviest or the fastest of the 80's thrash metal bands but they were definately the largest. With the Black album they managed to become more then just a metal band but a world act. They still managed to merge their heavy sound with a more radio friendly sound. And then they copied what U2 did with Achtung Baby and went for a complete sonic change. In one way it worked allright for them because it got them the rock crowd. But it cost them a large following in the metal scene, basically a very conservative scene. Like U2 they had a down to earth image. One of 1 for all, all for 1, a dislike for the recording industry, the whole rockstar thing. And for that they were respected. More then rock all metalbands have logo's rather then a mere name. They must have seen how U2 embraced the whole rockstar thing and so did Metallica. But were as U2 was taking the piss out of being a rockstar, Metallica became rockstars. They even dared to change that most sacred emblem of heavy metal, the Metallica name/logo. I was in a metal band at the time and we ALL hated it. I still hate Load and Reload with a passion and only got the symphonic album because of it included a few kick ass oldies. I don't want any boots of that period. But what nailed the Metallica coffin was their support for the campaign of the music industry to kill the internet mp3 filesharing Napster. I've seen Metallica hate webrings sprout up. Now that they are trying to return to their roots they seem to be having problems since they lost a lot of their core fan base.
NUCLEAR ASSAULTNuclear Assault was formed in the '80 when original bassplayer Dan Lilker got kicked out of Anthrax. Nuclear Assault makes kick ass thrash metal coupled with politically critical lyrics. The band faded into nothingness when Dan lilker left to start a death metal band. One of the most characteristic sounds of Nuclear Assault is the unique voice of singer/guitarist Connely, described by a friend of mine as the sqeeling pig. The've reformed, showing the youngsters how it should be done and were recently on tour giving me a chance to finally see them. Their show was one great party, fans stagediving, full interaction with the audience and the singer diving into the audience with a roadie desperatly trying to get a mike to him while the band had to play the intro of a song several times until he was lucky. Great fun and I managed to snatch me the singers setlist for the evening.
OZZY OSBOURNEThe madman of metal existed before he and his family showed the world what kind of circus they have at home. Having left Black Sabbath in 1980 he amde himself a new career as the madman of metal. The guy that parents love to hate, American preachers turn red preaching again, you know, public enemy number one. Naturally teenagers love to rebel so a rockstar who is hated is ideal. With time comes either acceptance or a fading out of the limelight. Being surpassed by the likes of Marylin Manson as America's most hated Ozzy by a stroke of luck evaded obscurity by virtue of his TV show. In which he is revealed as good advertisement against drug and alcohol abuse yet still a benign, caring and loving father of a dysfunctional functional family. And he still makes heavy metal!
When first kicked out of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore teamed up with vocalist Ronnie James Dio to form the late 70's band Rainbow. With Blackmore being a most difficult man to work every album the lineup got changed. The best being the one that made the Rainbow Rising album of 1976. If you can get the unofficial Live in Germany album count yourself lucky because they were on top of their game. For the 1st half of their career Rainbow was more Deep Purple then Deep Purple but just not that successfull in the US of A. So Blackmore gradually changed the musical course in vain to a more polished marketable sound. When Deep Purple reformed in the 80's Rainbow died a soft death. When Blackmore again got canned from Deep Purple Rainbow made a short comeback.
PANTERAPantera is the clear example what is a basic flaw in metal. That you can only go so far in extreme heavyness, agression, tuning down before you get used to it and it becomes boring. With Cowboys from hell they started a trend in heavy power metal that they tried to turn up a notch with every album. But a dial only goes to 10, only Spinal Taps goes to 11, and if you start at 10 there's nothing left to give. Instead of pushing your style into ever more degrees of extremes a far more saner course is to explore to see if new forms of music can be married to your chosen style. Or continue making the same music with every new album, being known for good and solid music. After a while you will be ridiculed by the established press, but hang in long enough and praise and acceptance will follow.
POLICE, THEFor a few years in the late 70's and early 80's the Police reigned supreme as the worlds class act, marrying their unique brand of new wave, punk, reggea and ska. Now its clear that Sting was the most creative genius of the band but as his own solo career has shown, the sum of the whole is greater then its seperate parts. And Sting clearly hasn't rivaled the massive success he had with the Police. Then again, maybe he never intended that in the first place. And maybe it was for the best anyway that the Police broke up. Better a brillian short career then long drawn out decay. Quit while you are ahead. And if you have your financial act in order you never need to work again for a living. Not so bad, I'll buy that for a dollar.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINERage delivered a brilliant debut album. An unstoppable freighttrain of heavy Led Zeppelin style riffs, angry hiphop vocals and a rock solid rhythm section. When they performed for the 2nd time at the Pinkpop festival their show registered as a small earthquake on seismographs a 100 kilometers away. Its a shame that they never managed to emulate the success of their debut album. The followon albums never seemed to have that rock solid mix right again. Band infighting did the rest.
SEPULTURAIt will always be a mystery why from all the bands, acts and singers from Brazil, a country known for its latin music, it was ultimately a thrashmetal band that managed to reach global success. They managed what Metallica tried to do and failed and most metal bands don't even try. They successfully managed to progress musically, keep their core metal sound in place but also enrich it with new sounds and styles. Starting as a thrash metal band more thrash metal then their western counterparts, success came when they started to incorporate their native Brasilian roots into their music. By the time of their acclaimed Roots album they could play their rootsy thrashmetal for a mainstream audience. Destiny awaited Sepultura if it weren't for that old devil, band politics. In a terrible row lead singer Max Cavalera broke away and formed his own band Soulfly going from strength to strength yet never totally reaching the overall breakthrough Sepultura was about to reach. Meanwhile the old Sepultura is languishing away with their new vocalist. I guess like me everybody is still hoping for that reunion. U2 fans may be interested that the current Sepultura lineup has recorded a cover of U2's Bullet the blue sky.
SLAYEROne of the heaviest and fasted trashmetal band of the 80's. Musically and lyrically it couldn't be extreme enough. Reached the peak of their game in the late 80's early 90's. Nowadays a bit stuck between rehashing their old stuff and finding a new musical course. The problem with making extreme music is that you can only go so fast, detune so low, break only so much taboos with your lyrics. There comes a point of saturation, when what you do is no longer extreme and you just can't push the envelope any further. Then what? This is a problem in every music but in metal in particular. The choice then is to continue on as before and run the risk of becoming a joke or go for new musical horizons with all sorts of musical risks attached. U2's sonic shifts generally worked out right with the possible exception of Pop. Metallica's more rockist Load and Reload were less successfull in the long run.
SYSTEM OF A DOWNSometimes a new band comes along and you are totally blown away by them. For me System of a down is such a band. Toxicity was a briliant kick ass album. Weird rhythms, good guitar riffs, a very un-metal like style of voice and singing. A drive and energy not seen or heared by me since the good old days of Pantera. I'm interested to see what they will do in the future. More of the same, new sonic shifts or more extreme.
WALTER TROUT BANDbesides being known for some defining blues albums, blues legend John Mayall is also known as a talent scout for excellent guitarists. Eric Clapton became god with the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green managed everybody to forget that he was Eric Clapton's replacement, Mick Taylor began in Mayall's Bluesbreakers, and so did Walter Trout. A phenomenal guitarist wholike the other Mayall discoveries went solo with his own band> If you can see him, do it!
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEENYngwie J. Malmsteen, the viking of Sweden, is one of those guitarplayers that comes along and suddenly guitarplaying is never the same again. Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore, BB.King and 19th century classical violinist Paganini are his great examples. Tobad he copied the arrogance of Blackmore as well. Lets just say, as far as Yngwie is concerned the Edge is just just a hack with less talent then Yngwie has in his small pinkie. This guy plays absurdly fast. I've downloaded an instruction video of him and when he shows a lick in what he calls slow playing its still faster then anything I can do. Yngwie put classical music into metal even more then Deep Purple ever did. Musically his best work was in the 80's and stylistically he's still stuck in there, basically releasing the same album again and again. At the moment guitarists and critics scoff at Yngwie, deriding his repeativeness. But I predict that as long as he hangs in eventually the tide will turn and acclaim and praize will be his again. Be in the business long enough and you become an institution, lauded by everyone. Of course Yngwie has no doubts what so ever. Viking on!
ZZ TOPThe dynamic trio from Texas with their patented powerblues, fast cars and hot women. And their patented beards of course. They were at their best in the 70's but reached global commercial success in the 80's. Today they continue playing their brand of the blues. No longer so successfull but just as commited as ever. In many ways the Iron Maiden of bluesrock. You know that every new album will not contain any surprises but is chockfill of solid bluesrock.
© Muad'zin 2004