Guest Post by Perry Grayson
This Ain’t the Summer of Love
Now for a little FRIENDLY argument for metal’s sake. You know I’m not foaming at the mouth when I write this shit. But it’s something I feel strongly about.
I don’t know where the hell everybody seems to get this idea that I’m so unmetal these days. I’ve always thought the beauty of metal is that there’s a very wide scope of music that falls under its banner. I’m just SO unmental because I dig listening to Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Judas Priest, Witchfinder General, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Quartz, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Savatage, Death, Cynic, Forbidden, Heavy Load, Sortilege, Mercyful Fate, Fates Warning, Sanctuary, Nevermore (pre 7 string!), Anacrusis, Sacrifice, Control Denied, Pentagram and slews of other bands. I guess those bands aren’t metal. And just because I don’t wear corpsepaint, claim Satan’s my best buddy or have a gazillion tats and piercings I’m definitively not a metalhead. I really dig hashing this out with people. For a good example, though I still love Maiden, I really have to say that I prefer going direct to the source for early dual guitar teams: Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, Bubble Puppy (they changed their name to Demian for legal purposes) or Lynyrd Skynyrd (first TRIPLE axe attack!). Yup, Maiden’s great, but they always wore their influences on their sleeves. Who can blame ’em? It was far better than going the Sex Pistols route! I’m a Maiden fan and will be one till the day I die. Was on the floor for the last Sydney gig. All ’cause I’m just NOT metal anymore. I have more metal on vinyl than most kiddies have CDs or MP3s.
For argument’s sake too… I FULLY agree with the notion that many of the bands I dig are just heavy rockers. Some of them don’t quite stay HEAVY long enough to warrant being called metal. That’s fine by me. Heavy metal came from somewhere. It wasn’t forged overnight. Its birth pangs were heard back in ’66 on American shores through a few tunes by the 13th Floor Elevators–and in England the same year through The Who, Cream, the Yardbirds and the Animals. Crude, but heavier and decidedly more sinister than the Beatles. Hell, the Stones were always far darker than the Liverpudlian lads.
In another year we had Jimi. To this day I still can’t believe the pyrotechnic playing of Hendrix originated in ’67! It’s timeless! Take a look around and see how many kids are flashin’ down the street (“If 6 Was 9” lyrics there!) sportin’ a Jimi shirt in 2009! That he was a black/American Indian crossbreed dude makes it all the more mindblowing. Deep Purple was in its infancy, still doing the odd Neil Diamond cover and hanging to folky roots, but they’d go full-tilt soon enough. ’68 was a magic year. Stateside we got Blue Cheer, loud ‘n’ primal as hell. Three Marshall stacks on each side ain’t chopped liver. In Britan we had Zeppelin and Free and Humble Pie three of the biggest powerhouses known to man–or woman! Free six-stringer Paul Kossoff taught folks that you could say more without wanking out a gazillion notes a second. Poor, tortured Koss! For heaviness in the bass department, look no further than Andy Fraser. How could notes so HEAVY come out of such a small dude? He didn’t need to play on anything after Free, because Andy had already written the book on heavy bass playing between the ages of 16 and 20.
At the tail end of ’69 Sabbath was getting their balls to the wall show on the road, but their S/T record wouldn’t hit the stands till the sublimely sorcerous opening of the Seventies. Ditto for New Yorkers Mountain. With ’em we got Thin Lizzy (Eire!), Trapeze (see “Jury” off their MEDUSA LP for one of the most massive slabs of doom-laden riffage ever to slither their way out of Midland UK slime), Budgie, Freedom, Atomic Rooster, Hard Stuff, Three Man Army and many other ragin’ raw rockers. Americans Captain Beyond (with Brit transplant Rod Evans on vocals), Aerosmith, Granicus, Lincoln Street Exit and Highway Robbery ripped rock a new asshole in the early 1970s.
In Australia we had Head in 1970, who thankfully altered their moniker to the ever-popular B tab of the alphabet–becoming Buffalo. Buffalo, bloody Buffalo! The Oz equivalent of Sabbath. Make no mistake, have no qualms about it, those blokes were the epitome of metal for their first three LPs. Brash volume freaks with lyrics that either stalked the gutter or soared into seas beyond–from “I’m a Skirt Lifter, Not a Shirt Raiser” to “Dune Messiah,” those blokes really had it goin’ on in a major way until they lost axeslinger extraordinaire John Baxter.
What ABOOT them Canadians? Rush and A Foot in Cold Water paved their road, followed by Moxie.
Every once in a while a current act will come along that really impresses me. It happens a lot less now than it used to. I’ll be the first to admit that I think very little honest innovation is happening in metal. I feel technology is making people lazy and sapping the humanity out of music. For all the simplicity digital recording is meant to offer, it sure takes some bands a hell of a long time to get something “in the can.” Has metal lost its spontaneity? Conceived in rough ‘n’ ready fashion, is it being slicked and smoothed to death?
Well, that’s a brief history lesson and a bit of commentary. I could go on for hours, days, months… We’d be sitting here till 2020 if you really get me going. What do I know? I’m just a bitter old cynical fart, you say? Well, trends may come and go, but METAL has survived for four decades now, and it isn’t liable to die anytime soon. So, you can label me a dinosaur. That’s just fine by me! This ain’t the Garden of Eden, and this ain’t Summer of Love, baby!
Perry is a guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his hard rocking band Falcon for some pure, raw, heaviness. Falcon is on myspace too. Perry and I also played together in the metal band Destiny’s End.