Proto-Metal • United States
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Dust was an American hard rock band active in the early 1970s. Dust was formed in the late 1960s by Richie Wise and two teenagers, Kenny Aaronson and Marc Bell. Additionally, Kenny Kerner wrote the group's lyrics, and acted as their producer and manager. Their debut album was released on Kama Sutra Records in 1971, and was followed by a sophomore release on the same label the following year. While the group only released these two albums, they later became of historical interest to collectors interested in early American heavy metal.

The group's members all went on to other projects. Aaronson became a member of Stories in 1973 and worked as a session musician into the 1980s. He also toured with Edgar Winter, Joan Jett and Billy Idol. Wise and Kerner went into production, with Kiss among others. Bell worked with Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys and Richard Hell &
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DUST Dust album cover 3.68 | 12 ratings
Proto-Metal 1971
DUST Hard Attack album cover 4.17 | 11 ratings
Hard Attack
Proto-Metal 1972

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DUST Dust / Hard Attack album cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
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Proto-Metal 2004

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Stone Woman / Loose Goose
Proto-Metal 1971

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DUST Reviews


Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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Dust emerged on the early American hard rock scene of 1969 and released their debut in 1971. Comprised of Richie Wise (guitar, vocals), Kenny Aaronson (bass), and Marc Bell (drums, later to become Marky Ramone), Dust were one of the first bands to be labelled heavy metal, along with Sir Lord Baltimore and Grand Funk Railroad. Prior to that, heavy metal in reference to music had been a derogatory term meaning that the music was just loud and tuneless, “Like a bunch of heavy metal being dropped,” as Black Sabbath’s Terry Butler once put it.

In the early years, the style of music to be called heavy metal that came out of the U.K. and the style that came out of the U.S. were notably dissimilar with the British side leaning toward the psychedelic and progressive influences of the late sixties and the American side inspired a lot by the heavy blues and freak beat music that came from Britain. Some American bands also included a grass-roots country feel to their aggressive hard rock, and Dust perhaps included that element more than many. Indeed, the first three tracks feature acoustic guitar and a countrified blues sound accompanying Bell’s energetic drumming, Aaronson’s pulsating bass, and Wise’s hard rock guitar. Had the whole album been like this I would likely have sent it to the nearest used CD store and hopefully gotten a couple of hundred yen in return.

Fortunately, Dust recorded two exceptional tracks here for the proto-metal fanatic. “Love Me Hard” is a frantic number with a rhythm section like a stampede of wild horses and a guitar than sounds like a power saw keeps taking swipes at thick wooden pillars. There’s a middle section with some Spanish-like guitar and an eerie guitar solo before the blitzkrieg playing resumes. “From a Dry Camel” is a slow, darker and heavier number that really picks up in the middle, an excellent example of early heavy metal suitable to be played along with Sir Lord Baltimore’s song, “Kingdom Come” and Bang’s “The Queen”.

The final two tracks are both much better than the first part of the album in my opinion. “Shadows Often Felt” is a slow number with a plaintive wailing guitar melody and some sliding country-style notes that actually work well here to give a sweet haunting atmosphere. It later picks up in the drum and bass department and becomes more aggressive. “Loose Goose” is a high speed blues rocker of an instrumental.

I’d say that it’s thanks to Aaronson and Bell that Dust can successfully pull of the speed and aggression, and Wise’s voice suits the music. The strong country element in the first bit of the album keeps the band from becoming a metal showcase, but they take care of that in the latter half of the album and produce some solid work.

My pick for proto-metal highlights are “Love Me Hard” and “From a Dry Camel”, and “Shadows Often Felt” is also a cool song for me. A good choice for the curious and fan of early American hard rock.

DUST Hard Attack

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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Dust to Dust

The final album from Dust, begins rather spookily with the words "I guess it's over, we could never make it".

As with their debut, Dust pull something rather special out of the bag - this is not your standard early 1970s hard rock. Hard Attack goes above and beyond Dust, however, and delivers fresh, energetic hard rock in excavator-loads.

Outstanding metal moments here are principally to be found in Learning To Die (as, perhaps, you might expect!), Ivory and Suicide.

The opening track (and indeed, most of the rest of the tracks) sounds somewhere between Wishbone Ash, Budgie, later Rush Yes and Pink Floyd, with bits of Led Zeppelin - and something rather unique.

It's the precision and metallic edginess that really jumps out at you, even given that this track is ostensibly a laid back number.

This vein is explored further in Walk In The Soft Rain, an infectiously melodic concoction, with fat, grinding, precision bass lines, pounding, punctuating percussion - and surprisingly dynamic guitar tones.

Thusly Spoken takes the tempo down several notches into almost easy-listening territory *gasp!*. The lyrics, however, are pure metal, with references to Satan, dancing demons filling the sky, poisoned gases filling the air, bleeding clowns and the hour of the snake - when you find out what the lyrics are, the juxtaposition of them onto that gorgeous melody and instrumental timbre has something of the deliberate humour of Spinal Tap about it, and I think it's just brilliant.

Learning To Die seems to stem from Blue Cheer - but with technical ability. It reminds me of early Judas Priest, and is simply stunning - the tempo and texture changes lend such an air of unfolding drama that this feels like part of the canon of Progressive Rock.

All in All is a kind of Who flavoured number, with maybe a smattering of The Small Faces - but again, there's that edginess peculiar to Dust. This is followed by another laid back number - a rather pretty song about considering suicide.

Once your eardrums have recovered from being battered into submission by the stunning instrumental Ivory, there follows How Many Horses, a bluesy number, reminding me of The Rolling Stones' Wild Horses, and not just because of the lyrics.

But then comes the centerpiece of this album, and the Hard Attack of the title. You can sample Suicide for yourself in the streamed video on Dust's page on this site.

A simple Balearic flavoured acoustic guitar number rounds off the album - perhaps significantly cut off in its prime?

This album is a significant milestone - as well as being a real treat for fans of early metal and general hard rock - although the morbid fascinations of the lyrics are really for doom mongers and, maybe, Nirvana fans. Don't let the latter put you off - this really is a great album, and you'll be glad you checked it out!


Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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Emerging from the Dust

You look at the cover - you see a Metal album, no question - and it's quite mind-blowing that this is from 1971.

This is, however, no Black Sabbath clone - it's not even a Deep Purple, Free or Led Zeppelin clone. It's something almost entirely alien, and seems more rooted in Juicy Lucy, or possibly one of Leslie West's early projects.

The first track may well have you scratching your head; The slide guitar conjours up Deep South swamp Blues images a la Juicy Lucy - but the strident riffs underneath are already suggesting something a bit different to Hard Rock. There are some Led Zep overtones and maybe some of that Blue Cheer voice of God volume, but something else - something a bit harder, a bit more, metallic, shall we say?

Chasin Ladies is more solidly in the Hard Rock arena, with pumping Zeppelin beats - but again, there's something else - something less swingin' and more swaggerin', with a bit more precision and angular power than Budgie, and more than a nod forward to some of the more rock-oriented NWoBHM bands.

There's a reversion to the Blues, with more of that slide guitar in an elongated 12-bar structure (no, I ain't gonna count the bars or anything nerdy like that!), and a far less sleazy version of AC/DC's The Jack emerges.

Love Me Hard is where the metal action starts - that opening riff seems familiar somehow. Underneath, this is pure hard rock, but like a black butterfly shattering it's way out of a steel chrysalis, that main riff underpinned by pounding drums suggests early Maiden, and the middle 8 (or however many bars there are - it's more than 8!) with its quite shocking changes for the time and tension-creating buildups utilising immaculately controlled feedback are not from the Hard Rock school, but from something altogether sharper. The midrangey grunt of the rhythm guitar is also notable in predicting the high-gain JCM sound. Again, this is beyond that typical 1970s fuzz sound - it's a less mushy but harder driven sound.

A gong crashes twice, and From A Dry Camel launches into a kind of Sabbath-esque doomy riff If you can ignore the vocals and lyrics, or, by some miracle, actually enjoy them, then this is a superb piece of early metal, especially the riff that kicks in around 3:30, with more of that gorgeous controlled feedback, almost Lemmy-worthy bass and pounding but not over-intrusive drum work.

The pentatonic noodelry that follows is quite Iommi in character, and overly self-indulgent - and there's no real new stuff to make the 9+ minutes worthy of praise - or even note - but I'd imagine that if you slipped this on at a Stoner rock party, no-one would really notice the difference. That said, this remains an early example of Sabbath-inspired metal, and remains interesting from that point of view alone.

Wishbone Ash, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac appear to be the influences on the next laid back piece, a beautiful 5-minuter called Often Shadows Felt. I particularly dig the drum work, and as a piece of mellow metal (if there is such a thing), this works really, really well in spite of - or maybe even because of the wierd keyboardy sounding guitar line around 2:10. Could be a keyboard. Whatever. It sounds wierd. I'd recommend this song to any rock fan whether you think it fits into the Metal canon or not, simply because it sounds so fresh and unique.

The album closes with Loose Goose, a warped, twisted blues-based number that never goes quite the way you think it's going to, playing with blues ideas like a cat - throwing them up into the air deftly with a paw, then chomping down until they end up unrecognisable ragged versions of their previous selves. This is not to say the band are ragged - on the contrary, this is all done with synchronised precision and tantalising snippets of improv until it ends up a species of Hard Rock you've simply never heard before.

And that's what Dust were - a Hard Rock act with the same roots, but quite unlike their peers, redefining how the genre could sound - and a large part of that redefinition is what would become Heavy Metal.

An interesting and highly enjoyable album that doesn't deserve to be overlooked.

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