Category Archives: Music

The 80’s … the most brilliant decade, of all time!

Ah yes, the 80’s. The decade where hairspray had the same effects on the Ozone layer as the BP oilspill had on the gulf of Mexico. But that’s not what it’s all about; it’s about all the milestones in music history that took place. Many people hail the 70’s or the 60’s as the most important, but the decade that was the 1980’s was probably the most awesome decade in music history – and when I say awesome, I mean eventful with jaw dropping events. Now now, before you jump onto the bandwagon of judgment and condemnation, let me explain to you as to why this is the truth.

 When I refer to the 80’s, I am certainly not referring to bands like Warrant, Poison, Petshop Boys or Tears for Fears (although lets all admit, some of these guys had some pretty catchy tunes. Sweet-Cherry Pieee, oh yeahhh). I am referring to the cross roads of musical legends. I’m talking about McCartney and Lennon,  Iron Maiden and Saxon, Metallica and Megadeth, Guns n’ Roses and Queen, Zeppelin and Floyd. Nirvana and Alice in Chains. Imagine living in a decade when all these artists where active (or alive), performing, touring and writing. Forget what was popular, and look at what was real.

 John Lennon was alive. For the best part of 1980 .. Lennon was alive. Say that again, Lennon was alive! It just sounds like the world was a better place already, doesn’t it? And what a wonderful time it was to be a Lennon fan, he had just emerged from retirement to release a couple of singles (“Hey, heard the new Lennon song?” ..we can never say that now), a possible tour and you never know, had he lived on -perhaps an album. A world with John Lennon was certainly a more hopeful world. John Lennon was shot in December of 1980 by that a-hole Mark Chapman. This was considered one of the biggest losses (if not the biggest loss) in music history.

 That wasn’t the only death that year, ACDC mainman Bon Scott also lost his life in 1980 after a session of alcohol abuse. The boys future was never in doubt though, the band was reborn in the form of Brian Johnson, who also joined later that year – AacaDaca (as they’re known in their home town) would have a long prosperous career with a huge catalogue of great Rock n’ Roll hits such as ‘For those about to Rock, we salute you’ … a phrase that would be used in so many rock occasions to come.

 But hold on, who was that kid who replaced the Iron Maiden singer the following year? Bruce Dickenson joined the up-and-coming heavy metal outfit early on in the decade where he co-wrote some of the biggest metal anthems of our time. New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was the scene Maiden ruled, and although it wasn’t very new by the time the 80’s rolled around, it still inspired the Bay Area scene that produced a handful of music titans.

 Bay Area!! Rise … Rise! The most vicious music scene in history. To put this in perspective: the bands we know today as the ‘Big Four of thrash’ only started out as 4 bands that played in their parents garage, barely made ends meet, and developed the biggest underground metal scene that ever existed. The scene produced giants like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. On top of that, James Hetfeild and Lars Ulrich, used to be good friends with Dave Mustaine .. hard to believe, eh? Can you imagine a time where you could see the ‘No Life till leather’ lineup of Metallica? How about the fact that Kirk Hammet played for Exodus? or the fact that alot of people got to experience those mammoth albums first hand. Picture yourself in a denim jacket waiting for the doors of Tower Records to open in order to pick up your first copy of the new Metallica album, Master of Puppets. Legendary bassist Cliff Burton, the man who had as much weight in Metallica as James and Lars did, was alive! Prior to the release of Kill em’ All in 1983, Metallica had booted out Dave Mustaine from their band; this resulted in what would become “the 25 year feud” between both parties. Mustaine went on to establish a band with his neighbor at the time, Ellefson was his name, and bass was certainly his game – Megadeth was established – a band so ferocious and hungry, it created an army of followers.

 But it aint just about metal …Michael Jackson, the King of Pop! He reigned supreme! releasing classic pop albums like Thriller, Bad and Off the wall. This man touched more people than any other artist in history (hey, I did not mean it that way). The fact is, MJ influenced so many individuals that no other artist ever came close to his might. The 80’s saw him become a massive star, beyond any proportions we can even fathom – Many classics were released that became timeless and eternally relevant.

 Shifting gears – early 80s, the classic Pink Floyd still played together until the infamous trial that took place that decade which resulted in Roger Waters exiting Floyd (taking all ‘The Wall’ rights with him) and Gilmour keeping the band and bringing back Rick Wright to the fold. This “Gilmour led era” went on to release ‘A momentary lapse of reason’ and the live ‘Delicate Sounds of Thunder’ … now, pause for a minute and take this in. the 80’s had two eras of Pink Floyd, the classic ‘Wall’ lineup where Waters and Gilmour played in harmony. And then you got the revamped era that was led by Sir David Gilmour, who gracefully retired the name in the mid 90’s.

 Led Zeppelin … who are they? just the founders of modern rock! Yes their time was very short-lived in the 80s, but it was there nevertheless. The Zep embarked on a mini-european tour in July-June 1980 where they played a stripped down acoustic set. Nothing too fancy. Page and Co. where actually in the process of rehearsing for a major North American tour before John Bonham passed away in the midst of rehearsals. Another Rock legend was lost to alcohol. Can you picture being there, the devastation the fans must have felt when Bonham passed, and the bigger blow when Led Zeppelin announced they were ending their tenure as a band.

 How can one speak of the 80’s scene and not mention Queen? Queen where simply awesome! Rock stars that gave Rolling Stone magazine a reason to exist – Not to mention Freddie friggin’ Mercury was alive and kickin’. Queen where one of the first bands to play the larger-than-life Rock in Rio festival in Rio, Brazil. Those crazy bastards played to over 600,000 people that weekend, 600K! Thats a lot of people my friends! in 1985, Queen played one of the most memorable performances in Rock n’ Roll history … Live Aid. Their sales shot up so high they had to release a single ‘One Vision’ to cash in.

 By the time the 80’s was reaching its end, 1988 saw the appetite for destruction grow beyond anyones control. This destruction gave us what is considered a Rock n’ Roll phenomenon – Guns n’ Roses. Imagine experiencing the release of the debut album and seeing the classic lineup, Axl/Slash/Izzy/Adler/Duff! A band so ‘rockin’ it earned them the title “the most dangerous band in Rock n’ Roll”. Appetite For Destruction sold over 15 Million copies. As far as I’m concerned, GnR were the last classic rock band to ever attain legendary status.

 The 80’s was concluded with the formation of what would become the ‘next-big-thing’. The grunge scene of Seattle, started in the late 80’s with the formation of Nirvana, Sound Garden and Alice in Chains. But since the impact of these bands would only take effect in the 90’s, we’d leave that discussion for another day.

 Ahhh yes, the 80s! it was truly a crossroads for all musical eras, and for most music legends. Being around in these years meant you’ve seen the best, while they were at their best. While they still meant what they were doing.

 It is truly unfortunate that many of these icons have lost their lives too soon, either due to accidents or just lack of awareness. I hope their legacy keeps inspiring up-and-coming musicians, and their tragedies teach future icons to stay clear of what may put an end to what could be a glorious career.

 On the eve of 1990, as ‘Tears for Fears’ combusted into thin air, and the dust from all the mayhem has settled; People around the world never knew that they would never experience such an era in music, ever again.

Metallica … They sure like their controversies

This is a blog entry I wrote last year when Death Magnetic was released … I just read it again today, thought it was interesting … so, to any ‘tallica fans .. enjoy

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con.tro.ver.sy

–noun, plural -sies. 1. a prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention; disputation concerning a matter of opinion.

Let me say it right off the bat: Metallica is by far one of the most controversial bands in the world, no not because they write scary “satan” music, no not because they have beards and hold black guitars and no not because they have a Danish drummer – With every release over the past 25 years, Metallica have managed to stir some sort of controversy around that particular record – be it writing a commercially unfriendly album (Kill em all), introducing a ballad on the sophomore record (Ride The Lightning), introducing classical elements (Master of puppets), unplugging the bass from all amps (Justice), Writing MTV hits (Black album), abandoning their roots and resorting to hard rock (Loads), introducing an orchestra with their all time classics (S&M) and ofcourse the infamous ditching of the trademark guitar solos (St. Anger).

Despite all the shit they’ve done in the past, all the mishaps and everything they’ve done right – Metallica remain at the heart of every metal heads conversation? BUT Why do we give a shit – why do “haters” and “sheep”, as they call each other, care so much? Why is it that every Metallica record released stirs such controversy amongst metal/rock enthusiasts around the world? In the early 80’s Metallica adopted the METAL Attitude like no other band in history, they released four consecutive relentless albums that changed the face of metal as we know it: That is a fact, not an opinion. They influenced thousands of bands around the world – and although there are bands of the same scene, even on a better caliber musically – no band came close to the success Metallica had achieved. Metallica had influenced a generation of musicians, and raised generations of fans.

Because of this controversy, every Metal enthusiast (or musician) for that matter must put his/her 2 cents into any Metallica release.

I live in the UAE – DUBAI, and unlike the rest of the planet (perhaps the universe aswell) – we, in the Middle East, got our hands on Death Magnetic about a week after everybody else did. Considering we had to wait months in previous years, this is a drastic improvement. Now, I promised myself I would not give DM a spin unless I had the official copy in my hand – it IS the first Metallica release in 5 years, after all.

Having that one week of not having Death Magnetic (while the rest of the world did), I was in a unique position to read hundreds of reviews of the album before even listening to a single note. It really is quite interesting because the songs start shaping in your head before you actually get to listen to them.
Now, every reviewer has to ‘flex’ their musical knowledge prior to ANY Metallica review – for example, a reviewer would either state the bands he/she listens to ; this is to establish his/her background as a ‘true metal’ listener – in this way, if the reviewer gives it a two thumbs up; the album must be good because youre not a ‘sheep’ who liked load and reload. Whereas if the album was absolute dog shit, then you are also credible because, well, you hated load and reload – it’s a win win situation. Other reviewers establish the fact that they got Master of puppets on tape when it was released back in the mid 80’s while the rest of the world was in diapers – this is also to establish your credibility as a Metallica fan.

YOU CANNOT simply start a Metallica review based on objective musical opinion – it could work for any band – but certainly not Metallica.

After the reviewers establish their ‘street’ cred – You will instantly know the direction of the reviewers opinion with one of the following intros:

-Witty/Sarcastic comments about Metallicas musicianship/history: this will be a bad/mediocre review
-Praise beyond reason: This album will rule everything that is alive…and dead.

On to Death Magnetic – lets focus on the negative reviews first, and address those – shall we?
I read reviews that state these tracks have no flow and a lot of the riffs are ‘useless’ or ‘rehashed’ – One particular reviewer posted up a torrent link of a fan ‘edited’ version of Death Magnetic recommending people listen to that rather than the official release by Metallica –
NOW – as a person who had no prior knowledge to these tracks, I had an image of St Anger all over again. As a Metallica fan – I fucking freaked! After listening to Death Magnetic for over a week on constant rotation , I can safely say that these tracks flow perfectly fine! Who is the reviewer to say ‘this is how it should’ve sounded like’ – I’m sorry but if you’re such a fucking expert on song arrangements, or more specifically, METALLICA song arrangements – maybe you should be producing albums and writing masterpieces instead!?

The world write these reviews as if Metallica owed them something, little do these kids know, Metallica paved the way for many of their favorite bands today(be it black metal or pop rock) … Metallica wrote Kill em’ All and slept in cheap motels when these kids weren’t even born yet … so where do they get off suggesting song arrangements to the guys who wrote Master of Puppets? Get off your high-horse damn it.

That’s not where it ends though … you also have the other side of the coin, the damn sheep. I have read a lot of reviews stating that DM is the true follow-up to ‘Justice’ – are you fucking kidding me? That, ofcourse, is a tool of establishing ‘Metlli-street cred’ .. how? By denouncing the ‘black album’. Whether people like it, or not, The black album is the most important album in Metallica’s history. It is the sole album that made Metallica the band they are .. it’s the album that made Metallica the most loathed, or loved band on the planet … it’s the album that introduced Metallica to the world … it’s the album that has Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Sad But true, and Nothing Else Matters … Metallica classics by any stretch. Now that my rant about the black album is done, lets carry on – DM’s rightful place is NOT after ‘Justice’, its after St. Anger. There is a reason why DM came out the way it did, and it had to do with the years that preceded it ; ranging from alcohol abuse to near-band break up – to creating the controversial St. Anger . The reason this album was received so well is that we had no idea they still had it in them – the furious riffs, the blinding guitar solos, the trademark growls (not so much though), and the relentless drumming …. We did not see it coming.

Even with this release came controversy! Did you expect otherwise? With DM, Metallica released an ‘overly-loud’ album … you would think that isn’t a problem in the metal world, but low and behold, it surely is. Fans (sheep and haters alike) complained that the mastering of the album was SO loud, that it drowned out some of the finer moments on DM. This controversy filled the internet from blogs, to forums .. even to Facebook status’s (is that even a word? Fuckin’ Facebook)– to a point where the person who Mastered DM responded to a fan on the Metallica forums denouncing the mastering effort on the album, saying that he ‘wasn’t proud of it ’ – even went as far as pulling it off his website. Later, Lars Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer, said that he ‘loved the way the album sounds’ and continued by saying ‘only a minority hate the sound of it, maybe 10,000 out of the 2 million who got it’ … kings of metal, or kings of controversy? It was clear a lot of people weren’t happy with it … but it also remains a fact that Metallica didn’t change the sound of ‘Justice’ back in 88 when people complained about the lack of bass … they surely aren’t going to start listening to people now.

Metallica baby, love em’ or despise em’ … you cannot deny the iconic band they have become. They made a career by making fucking great music, and keeping people on their toes.

Many ‘haters’ wished Metallica stuck to the formula they had in the 80’s … that formula certainly worked, 4 relentless – some say flawless – albums. But how boring would that have been? Metallica would’ve been reduced to playing halls like Slayer, Megadeth or Anthrax (their 80’s companions) … instead, they took risks, listened to no one, pleased themselves and stirred a lot of – yes – controversy. This resulted in Metallica playing huge stadiums, Arenas and festivals to atleast 40,000 people a show (on average) … making them the biggest Metal band alive (and the fifth biggest selling band of all time).
Long live the king(s)