DUST — Dust (review)

DUST — Dust album cover Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
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.
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