In 1985 as a 14 year old, one of my most prized possessions was a double cassette tape titled “Metal Madness“. It was compiled by well know Australian music historian, journalist and sometime band manager/promoter Glenn A. Baker).
The album was the perfect snapshot of nearly all that was good in hard rock/hair metal/heavy metal from around the world at that time. It featured the following artists and their tracks:
The one solitary track from Canada was Coney Hatch (This Aint Love).
Switzerland has had a few good metal bands, but only one was included on the album in Krokus (Midnight Maniac).
The UK is where it all began for metal so the album had to have a big presence from there and featured Black Sabbath (Trashed), Girlschool (1-2-3-4 Rock N’ Roll), Heavy Pettin (Throw A Party), Judas Priest (Deceiver), Motorhead (Killed By Death), Ozzy Osbourne (Bark At The Moon), Rock Goddess (Hell Hath No Fury), Saxon (Back On The Streets) and Slade (Slam The Hammer Down).
The USA rivalled the UK in metal and dominated this album with Bon Jovi (before they became soft rockers they were billed as hair metal I guess – Price Of Love), Canned Heat (C.C. Shooter), Dio (Hungry for heaven), Keel (So Many Girls, So Little Time), KISS (Get All You Can Take), Lita Ford (On The Run), Motley Crue (Shout At The Devil, misprinted as “Shoot At The devil”!), Quiet Riot ((We were) Born To Rock), Ratt (U Got It), Spinal Tap (yeah from the movie, they had an awesome song Sex Farm!), Twisted Sister (I Wanna Rock), W.A.S.P. (School Daze) and Y&T (Masters and Slaves).
It was great to see that the ladies of metal were not left out with tracks from Girlschool, Lita Ford (formerly of The Runaways with Joan Jett and Cherie Currie), Rock Goddess and Warlock (Doro Pesch is still belting out the tunes with her own band Doro)!
There was one major omission from the album though and a leader in the NWOBH (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal)….Iron Maiden! Not sure what happened there as they were huge from 1982 onwards?!
Anyone I have discussed hard rock/metal music with will know I often harp on about this album! This was back in the day of the Sony Walkman cassette player and I would often fall asleep at night listening to the joyous tones of metal!
Yesterday and Today
There was one track in particular from “Metal Madness” I always really liked and never forgot. Masters and Slaves by Y&T (they originally formed in the 1970’s and were known then as Yesterday and Today, they shortened the band name to Y&T in around 1980). This song had great guitar playing, drums and lyrics; the lead singer Dave Meniketti had an incredibly strong singing voice.
Y&T were around long before many of their contemporaries and were probably better than most of them, but were overshadowed by bands like Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue etc. They still had some huge hits though, particularly in America and some great videos that got lots of airplay on MTV such as (click on the name to view the video):
Mean Streak (1983 – great song!);
Lipstick & Leather (1984 – this video gives you an idea of what it was like in their hey day);
Dont Stop Runnin (1984);
Y&T eventually broke up in 1991, but they partially reformed in 1995 with original band members Dave Meniketti (lead vocals and lead guitar) and Phil Kennemore (bass and vocals). They then performed sporadically until officially reuniting in 2001 and have been touring ever since (they even bought out their first new album in 13 years in 2010 “Facemelter“). Sadly in January 2011 Phil passed away from lung cancer.
Would I as a 14 year old in 1985 have ever thought I would get a chance to see Y&T play live in concert? I was living in Horsham, a small rural city in country Victoria, Australia at the time. The answer of course was no!
BUT, flash forward to Seattle – August 19th, 2011 my new home and Y&T were playing in town (only the second time since 1985, the first was last year)! This was an opportunity I was not going to miss, so I headed to Studio Seven, caught up with some friends I met a few months back in Tempe, Arizona at a Motorhead gig and had an incredible night of fun and hard rocking!
Dave Meniketti still has a great voice and is a brilliant guitar player and the rest of the band were excellent too (John Nymann – rhythm guitar, Mike Vanderhule – drums and Brad Lang – bass guitar, big shoes to fill as he replaced Phil). They played for a solid 2 hours (played most of their big hits, but sadly not “Masters and slaves“!!!), and they had 3 earlier local support bands, this was all for $17!
An added highlight from the concert was that the band did a meet and greet afterwards. They were happy to chat, sign autographs and have photos taken. I am beaming like the Cheshire Cat in my photo with Dave and he also signed my copy of “In Rock We Trust” (1984) which has the song “Masters And Slaves” on it!
The rise and fall of metal…..or was it?
Metal hit it’s mainstream peak during the 1980’s, then Nirvana and grunge came along in the early 1990’s and the rest was history…..thankfully metal never really died and never will (and hard rock has been around for ever), most of the good bands kept on going, and the fans never went away! Although most of them do not get the coverage they once had on radio and TV (apart from say Metallica) the scene is stronger than ever, and these days there are so many categories of metal its crazy (old school, thrash, death, black, power, doom, gothic the list goes on)! For me old school metal and thrash metal (i.e. Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and the ultimate underdog Anvil) along with hard rock will always be my favourites.
Why do I still like hard rock/metal over 25 years later? Where else are you going to get songs with incredible guitar playing, pounding drums and soaring lyrics about dragons, witches, wizards, monsters, kings, war, fighting, drinking, rock n’ roll and dirty women?! You sure as hell are not going to find much of that in a Lady Ga Ga or Black Eyed Peas song! Oh and don’t get me started on those poor sad little EMO’s! Listen to a song that hits you hard in the chest and shakes your brain! It will make you smile!
I do listen to lots of other types of music too (pop, rock, grunge, alternative rock, punk, electronic etc). This is not a biased opinion about music, it’s just what I really like! But I should add that many people who put down metal music have never really listened to it!
It’s not all screaming and monster voice (not that there is anything wrong with that either!). Many of the hard rock/metal vocalists such as Rob Halford of Judas Priest; Ronnie James Dio RIP 2010 of Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven and Hell; Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden; and Geoff Tate of Queensryche for example are reknowned as having powerful singing voices that can cover an incredible range and variation in tone; and they have been doing this for 30-40 years (and they sound just as good live)!
These guys could blow just about any performer off the stage with their voices singing any style of music (with the exception of perhaps Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury of Queen and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin). Power ballads are also very popular in metal – even Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath had a great ballad in Changes. Lita Ford and Ozzy had a fantastic duet Close my eyes forever (1988).
METAL RULES!!!! \m/(>.<)\m/