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Monday, July 18, 2005


When this question was put to Conan by his master when Conan was still a young gladiator, he replied, correctly; "To crush one's enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women." While this is obvioulsy sage wisdom, today the question at hand is; what is best in metal?

My brother asked for my advice on purchasing some cd's for his son who's taste seems to be developing along these lines. We can only hope this is the only trait that he has in common with his uncle. Both of my brothers have an appreciation for metal, and indeed were my initial influences in my development as the family meatlhead, but for me it was a calling of sorts, and for years (77-84) my musical diet was metal, the Beatles, and The Ramones. Pink Floyd, the Stones, Bowie, Bolan, and the Pistols would soon blow it all wide open for me, and by the time I saw John Lee Hooker in the late eighties, I was no longer a genre specific music fan, but for a while I was all about the metal.

So what is best in metal? My brother mentioned AC/DC in his inquiry. Like many bands that came out of the seventies, AC/DC gets labelled 'metal' when they are actually a heavy blues rock band. Indeed, AC/DC have more in common with Foghat and Skynyrd than Iron Maiden, but the way the blues came out of them, faster, louder, dirtier, seperated them, and thusly they get lumped in with the metal bands. Motorhead, same story, ZZ top on a drastically different diet. Judas Priest come out of a blues tradition founded by fellow Birmingham natives Fleetwood Mac, and Black Sabbath. And that's truly the ground zero, 1968. Sabbath, Zeppelin, Cream, Blue Cheer, the birth of metal, and it came from the blues.

What's the point? There is no exact definition of what is metal. Like Chis says, distortion is not neccessarily the basis for heavyness. Music is like geneology, you can trace where something comes from, but there's no such thing as pure bood. Indeed, the closer you come to it, the weaker it is. Music thrives on cross pollination, as does all creation, and the best metal is simply a result of good breeding practices.

The following is a short list of recomendations:

AC/DC - Highway To Hell
Black Sabbath - Vol. 4
Iron Maiden - Killers
Judas Priest - Hell Bent For leather
UFO - Strangers In The Night
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Def Leppard - High n' Dry
Scorpions - Lovedrive
Lou Reed - Rock and Roll Animal
Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies
Kiss - Alive
Aerosmith - Rocks

A starter kit, a primer if you will. Note the lack of Metallica. 'Master of Puppets' if you must. The actual discussion with my brother began with Motley Crue, and as I can't really reccomend any Motley Crue in good faith, as with Metallica, if you must, 'Shout At The Devil'. What a dumb title.

Hey man, what are you shouting at?

Like, the Devil, dude. AAARRRGGGGH! You Devil. Take that.

"Hear the wolf screaming lonely in the night, he's the blood stain on the stage..."

MC 'Shout at the Devil'

Very good list, but I would have added Ozzy's 'Diary Of A Madman'. Forever be the best 'Metal' album IMHO.

Curious as to why you didn't list "Toys in the Attic" as your Aerosmith pick.

You're right about the Metal label. When you consider the fact that they called Cinderella metal proves that the genre was so diverse as to render the name meaningless.
I agree on Killers from Maiden, but are you serious about Highway To Hell? I think it is really weak compared to my Australian T.N.T. record. Not sure which of the US albums it spans, but one of them is Dirty Deeds. And I would totally recommend Too Fast For Love from Motley Crue.

In 1984 I thought Shout At The Devil was the greatest thing in the world. Now I'm embarrassed.


No Jethro Tull?!
No Tull... Jackson didn't want his brother having to listen to whistled versions of Ian Anderson's flute solos. I'm sure you'd agree to the logic. Although when Tull beat out Metallica for metal album of the year I believe the genre boundries were drawn by the recording arts and sciences people as being anything past it's prime played by guys with longhair that make that cool Texas Longhorns sign with their pinky and pointer finger.
The list was not about what I prefer, hence Rocks over Toys In The Attic, and the Highway to Hell pick. I was listing albums that I thought were a good starting point. Taking that into account, how long do you think it will take him to go from Vol. 4 to Diary of a Madman? We, after all, got our Vol. 4's before our Diary's. Maybe I didn't have a clear thesis on this one, I just liked the Conan quote, so I tried to make it fit.
Ken, don't be embarrased. Well, okay, be emabrrased....

I'll never forget Mr. L Smart's video for Shout At The Devil, the begining bit with the voice over.

"In the begining good always over powered all mens sins...."

Tony, if you have that, I'll pay for it.
Of course, you can always shout at the devil, but I like Strypyr's theory, "To Hell With the Devil! Devilll! DEVILLLLL!!!!!"

I just might have that L. smart video in my storage closet. I hope it wasn't on beta. I'll check tonight.

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