Thursday, August 17, 2006

Slayer, Grand Funk, and Haircuts

When I was 12 years old and in 6th grade, my favorite record was Grand Funk's Live Album. After all these years, it's still up there probably in my top 10. I had never heard anything that heavy before. My path to metal was pretty simple....Archies (Bang Shang a Lang) to Beatles to Three Dog Night to Steppenwolf to Santana (first album) to Grand Funk. Around the same time it was then Deep Purples' In Rock album. But that Live Album, man...... I waited with anticipation for the next Grand Funk record. I had already gone out and snapped up Survival and E Pluribus Funk. Finally the day arrived.....there was a new album!! It was called Phoenix. I slapped that vinyl on, and you should have seen the expression on my face when I heard it. This sucks!! One giant piece of doggy doo. I don't think there was one heavy song on it. My gods had fallen. Do these guys actually LIKE this stuff?? After that, Farner cut his hair, and it was never the same. Shinin On? All the Girls of the World Beware? Gimme a break.

From that point on, i've had a real problem with bands that start out heavy and wuss out by the second or third record. The list is a mile long. Remember the first Montrose record?? It was all downhill from there. Van Halen....Scorpions....Priest......Zeppelin....Metallica.....Megadeth.....Anthrax....they're all guilty of starting out heavy and sounding like Journey by their later albums. Rock magazines love that shit, and say that the artist is "growing" or "maturing". Bullshit I say. I mean even Ted Nugent, who on Double Live Gonzo said "anyone who wants to get mellow can turn around and get the fuck out of here", went against his own words and put out album after album of crapola.

Which brings me, 33 years later, to the new Slayer record, Christ Illusion. I maintain that Slayer are probably the greatest heavy band to ever live, and here's why. You slap that Slayer record on, and it smokes. You know it will smoke. There's no doubt. There's no "Phoenix" in the Slayer catalog. There's no "bic lighter power ballad". Slayer have become rich men, and they haven't compromised one iota. Name one other band this consistently heavy....Motorhead?? Not quite. AC/DC? Again, close, but no cigar. Metallica? Just joking there. Pantera?? They're history.

Christ Illusion is actually better than the last two, Diabolus and God Hates Us All. Maybe it's Lombardo back at the helm that did it.

Just go buy the damn thing. You can't go wrong. Now, if Araya cuts his hair....look out.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Blood and Thunder

Lately to kill some time i've been going thru my CD/record collection and picking out some stuff I haven't heard in eons. What's fun is when you come across some stuff that is just killer, and you wonder why they have been neglected for so long. There's just so much to choose from, and so little time....

Take for example, "Blood and Thunder", by More. More put out two albums in the early 80's and kind of got lost in the NWOBHM/thrash influx.......Maiden, Metallica, et al. But these two More albums kick major ass. I played Blood and Thunder (the second record) the other night at maximum volume and was blown away by the riffage. A long lost gem to be sure. Both of them are available on CD, and I suggest you get them NOW!!

Another example is Spooky Tooth's "Two". Again, with the stuff on this record, it should be considered a classic, but it gets sorely overlooked. You've got the sinister riffage of "Evil Woman", "Waitin for the Wind" and the Judas Priest-covered "Better By You, Better Than Me". Plus you get Luther Grosvenor, aka Ariel Bender from Mott the Hoople fame, on axe work. If you wanna really hear the best of Bender, though, you gotta listen to Mott's "Live" CD,which I guess I can categorize as another forgotten classic. Bender's Les Paul Junior guitar tone is just monstrous.

Then there's Ten Years After's "Alvin Lee and Company"......and also "Sssssh". Now, usually when I listen to TYA i'll put on the live album. Alvin Lee and Co. is best known for it's side-long jam "Boogie On"....and Boogie they do. There are sections devoted to drum, organ, bass, and guitar solo's.......of course when it's Alvin's turn it kicks into high gear. Sssssh has some good stuff on it too......especially "I Woke Up this Morning". Makes me wanna run out and purchase a Gibson ES 335....then I could play like Alvin, too!!

The last one that comes to mind is Saxon's "Wheels of Steel". Now Saxon was kind of a second-tier NWOBHM band......always in the shadows of Iron Maiden. But this hard and fast. "I can beat your street machine!!" Biff screams out on "Motorcycle Man" while the guitars just pummel you into submission. Alas, Saxon would never be this great again. Biff and Co. were supposed to play last year at this dive in Allentown, we showed up....but Saxon didn't! So our chance to see the Biffster in action was foiled.

I can add one more to the list for this rant.....and that's the Action Swingers "Decimation Boulevard". The Swingers just pummel you one song after another....much like a Ramones gig used to do. The pace and fury are relentless. It's like Black Flag on steroids. Buy it if you can find it, and I think you still can.

Next Blog.....a review of the new Slayer CD. We've been waiting for this one a long time.