Proto-Metal

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The combination of blues-rock with psychedelic rock formed much of the original basis for heavy metal.One of the most influential bands in forging the merger of genres was the British power trio Cream, who derived a massive, heavy sound from unison riffing between guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, as well as Ginger Baker's double bass drumming. Their first two LPs, Fresh Cream (1966) and Disraeli Gears (1967), are regarded as essential prototypes for the future style. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced (1967), was also highly influential. Hendrix's virtuosic technique would be emulated by many metal guitarists and the album's most successful single, "Purple Haze," is identified by some as the first heavy metal hit. Vanilla Fudge, whose first album also came out in 1967, have been called "one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto_metal#Antecedents:_mid-1960s

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  • voila_la_scorie

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NECRONOMICON Tips Zum Selbstmord

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While some early Krautrock bands were aiming for tripper’s paradise and seeking the ultimate escapism to a distant destination far removed from the trials and tribulations of 20th century Earth, others opted to embrace the tortuous pain and expel the rage through a heavy rock form of progressive rock that cast the vitriol out as pure acceptance of the doom and gloom that was plaguing the fast-paced society of the 1960s that had just ceded into the 1970s. NECRONOMICON which took its name form the H.P. Lovecraft novel was the epitome of taking the tripped out kosmische world of Krautrock into a heavier garage rock, even proto-punk style fueled by despair and dismay.

This band emerged from the city of Aachen perched next to both the Dutch and Belgian borders and was formed in 1970 by Walter Sturm (guitar, vocals), Norbert Breuer (guitar, vocals), Gerd Libber (bass), Harald Bernhard (drums) and Fistus Dickmann (organ, synthesizer, vocals). Although the band stuck it out to 1981 albeit with a rotating lineup, NECRONOMICON only managed to release one sole album titled TIPS ZUM SELBSTMORD which lugubriously translates as “Tips For Suicide.” Laced with heavy downer guitar riffing, stone cold vocal angst and eerie droning frosted over exquisite bass grooves, punk fueled guitar heft and bluesy solos, NECRONOMICON took the newfound nihilism of bands like Black Sabbath and added the more appropriate Krautish accoutrements with folky interludes and heavy psych organ runs.

With lyrics exclusively in German, it may be impossible to tell for non-speakers but this band was all about getting real with lyrics that ranged from ecological degradation to nuclear disasters. The album title is a dead giveaway that rather than drifting off into la-la land that this band was more interested in looking the atrocities of the world dead on and releasing the pent up rage in bouts of guitar-fueled heft with all kinds of extra touches including Bach inspired organ majesty, unpredictable tempo and mood changes and a sense of melancholy more common in modern day metal genre such as funeral doom or depressive black metal. In addition to the rich array of instrumental sounds, the band displayed a clever mix of angsty hard rock vocals mixed with eerie and spooky wordless vocals that evoked the haunting of the death and destruction which symbolized the global destruction that was becoming all too familiar.

This confrontational stylistic approach makes TIPS ZUM SELBSTMORD one of the most unique albums to emerge in the entire Krautrock scene and with an original pressing of only 500 copies has also become one of the most sought after gems in the collector’s underground. Luckily the album has been reissued on numerous occasion with the most obtainable on the 2004 edition from Garden of Delights which features a whopping four unreleased bonus tracks that nearly double the album running time. The dynamics of the album are perfectly paced as punk fueled garage rock gives way to lush pastoral folk and keyboard dueling yields to sizzling guitar solos and forward thinking 80s style keyboard electronica. Add to that nice flowing songs that give way to frenzied time signature freak outs. The lead vocalist often sounds like the German version of David Bowie just to give a comparison.

While the album cover art may seem a little hokey and primitive, the music contained within is anything but. This is some seriously well-thought out Krautrock that nurtures hook laden melodies and then dresses it all up with punk-fueled angst and depressive organ-drenched despair. The compositions are quite sophisticated with intricate changes that never feel forced and how the band managed to squeeze in all the stylistic shifts is a testament to the band’s creative genius. This is an excellent little obscurity and should be on top of Krautrock lists far and wide but like many underground gems, still remains unknown to the masses. I love everything about this album however there are moments when the vocals are a bit goofy especially when dude suddenly breaks into falsetto (think King Diamond) and reaching the high notes. Luckily this is rare and the strengths of the album far outnumber any minor gripes. TIPS ZUM SELBSTMORD is just shy of making a perfect masterpiece.

MY SOLID GROUND My Solid Ground

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
MY SOLID GROUND was the brainchild of a young 14-year old guitarist Bernhard Rendel who had a brief moment in the limelight with his band’s one and only album released in 1971 although his success was limited to his native Germany. Originating from Rüsselsheim near Frankfurt am Main, Rendel was blessed to have parents who nurtured his talent and even allowed him to practice his craft at home. HIs parents were so supportive in his efforts of joining in on the burgeoning Krautrock party that they even assisted in organizing the events for their underage son.

Formed in 1968, MY SOLID GROUND was pretty much the solo work of Rendel who provided guitars and vocals and the band went through meany lineup changes before the team of bassist Karl-Heinrich Dörfler, drummer Andreas Würsching and Ingo Werner on organ and piano would record the band’s sole eponymously titled album which was released in the autumn of 1971. Although popular in Germany for a short time due to the band appearing on live radio broadcasts as well as winning second place in an amateur competition hosted by Sudwestfunk (SWF) Radio, MY SOLID GROUND has remained one of the more obscure Krautrock bands over the decades at least until the modern era when such bands have found a revived popularity thanks to the wide ranging influence of the internet.

The MY SOLID GROUND album is for all intents and purposes two completely different albums with the first lengthy 13 minute track “Dirty Yellow Mist” providing one of the coolest tripped out psychedelic rock tracks of the whole Krautrock era and the rest of the album featuring shorter guitar driven hard rock songs that sound more out of the English or American scenes than what was going on in Germany’s psychedelic scene but nevertheless they are performed so well and capture the essence of the heavy rock verging on proto-metal of the early 70s that despite the recipe for disaster somehow works quite well as the band still incorporated tidbits of psychedelia within the standard rock compositions such as on the heavy psych “The Executioner” which adds plenty of tripped out Krautiness to the mix.

One of the most misleading aspects of this album is the ridiculous album cover which features a cast of cartoon pigs holding up the band on its boldly scripted moniker but despite the rather uninspiring cover art, the music contained within is anything but. More than anything Rendel had a keen ear for tight rhythmic drives, catchy melodic ear worms and a sense of production values that allowed the individual instruments to play well together. While the opening sprawler is right out of the “Saucerful Of Secrets” playbook, the second track “Flash Part IV” jumps into something more akin to Sir Lord Baltimore while “Handful Of Grass” is more of a folk tune with mid-tempo acoustic guitars and piano runs but for the most part MY SOLID GROUND delivered a run of solid guitar heavy rockers.

While the band was supposed to continue on, Rendel had a difficult time keeping members and they dropped out one by one until he returned with a new lineup after moving to Frankfurt and lasted until 1974 but never managed to release a second album. Rendel scrapped the whole rock star dream and went the academic route where he became a music lecturer at Mainz University as well as a producer and composer. With a renewed interest in all things prog in the 21st century, this MY SOLID GROUND album found a second coming with a remastered reissue emerging in 2001 on the Alcinious label which featured the original album as well as an album’s worth of extra material that Rendel had produced over the years and in the process almost doubling the album’s length. Despite the silly cover art and the stylistic consistency, this one surprised me that i liked it so much.

The strength of this one is clearly the strong melodic hooks that work whether the band is in full-on psychedelic mode or rocking the house with heavy guitar laden heft. The album may be inconsistent in stylistic approach but more than makes up for it in strong material. Don’t let the stupid looking album cover detour you from exploring MY SOLID GROUND because it’s much more than the ground that’s solid here. While the remastered bonus tracks are mostly different mixes and alternate vocal tracks, the original full length version of “Flash” at 25 minutes is a highlight and well worth the time. It mixes the space groove of “Dirty Yellow Mist” with jazzy drumming, classical piano rolls and a faster tempo and in a way summarizes all the disparate styles on board. One straight outa the underground and into timeless classic mode. Perhaps not the absolute highlight of the Krautrock scene of the 70s but one of the better melodic rock ones.

TOO MUCH Too Much

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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voila_la_scorie
Wow! I did a search for this band twice on this site and got nothing. I created a page for them, wrote a bio, and then found there was a page already somewhere. Searched again and it came up right away. Go figure!

So, anyway, here we have a band from Japan lead by their guitarist with aspirations for playing loud, heavy music in the vein of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and then got told by their record label to add some ballads and a cover song in hopes of broadening their potential audience. The result? The band split up!

Let's see. What do we have here then. The first track, "Grease It Out" certainly shows the band's desire to play loud and heavy. While Black Sabbath influence is likely there, the riffs sound closer to their compatriots Flower Travelin' Band although vocalist Juni Lush (credited as Joko Lush in my CD copy) has more of a hard rock voice. It's a pretty killer track for some straight forward hard/heavy rock of 1971.

"Love That Binds Me" is a mid-tempo, blues-based, bummed out dude song that includes piano. It is very clearly a song heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You", most obviously in the lyric "Yes, I'm working everyday from early in the morning, babe / Til late at night everyday / It's such a drag, baby". On its own, I'd say the song would be pretty good, but the derivative lyrics just shout "copy cat!" and I'm afraid it loses points for that.

Thankfully, the next track is "Love Is You", another heavy rock track with some cool riffs and mood. One thing is for sure, guitarist Tsutomu Ogawa is pretty good at coming up with heavy rock riffs!

Alright, "Reminiscence" is next and it begins like a classic Vanilla Fudge song with organ and hard guitars, then shifts into a slower gear with acoustic guitar and electric lead. This is out first real slow and sentimental track. I'd say it could have worked out alright except that Lush's vocals are not very lush. He sounds like quieting down makes it harder for him to hit the notes right. For that, there are a few flinching moments.

And now the cover of "I Shall Be Released", which is missing the final "d" in the official track listing. This is country western folk ballad and a pretty good effort for a Japanese band. However, it sounds off and totally unnecessary for the album. Sure, lots of bands had to have that one track that showed their "other side" back in the day, but as this is a cover I think there are other bands who could have done a better job and this band could likely have written a better song for them to play and record.

"Gonna Take You" sets us back on course with another heavy rocker, and that's three pretty cool heavies out of the first six tracks. The lyrics however once again show the band borrowing from their overseas influences and they sound like they just cut and pasted lyrics from a Led Zeppelin song (which the mighty Zep actually took from someone else). "I'm gonna bring it on home to you / I got my ticket, I got that load / Gone up, go higher, all aboard / Take my seat a-right way back / Watch this train goin' down the track". It seems that even though the band is capable of creating some pretty good rockin' music, there's a problem with lyric writing and sometimes I think with the vocal delivery. Fortunately, the lead guitar parts get a fair bit of emphasis and run time in the songs.

And so we reach the 12:12 epic ballad, "Song for My lady (Now I Found)" with acoustic guitar, flute, strings, the works! It reminds me a little like a cross between Deep Purple's "April" from their self-titled third album and The Moody Blues. And here is where I feel like the lyrics are similar to early Scorpions' lyrics. Alright, you are writing a ballad in a second language and trying to make it meaningful and also flow with the rhythm of the music. But something is just missing for English ears. Perhaps it worked for Japanese audiences of the early seventies. I don't know. Again, the music is actually pretty good. I'm alright with the progressive nature of this longer track and in fact it has more musically advanced than much of what we heard up to here. My main beef is the efforts of Juni Lush to try to imitate western singers instead of developing his own style more. Here he sounds like a fan of Rod Evans.

To wrap it up, this is a band that probably could have made a much better second album but they were discouraged early on and left us with this one slab of vinyl. There are some good heavy tracks and some half decent other music. Just for my money, more work was needed on the lyrics.

EPITAPH Epitaph

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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voila_la_scorie
Three and a half stars for the heavy metal content, but actually I quite like this album. Since I turned 50 early this year, I decided to check out albums in my collection that were released the year I was born, and then I went ahead and ordered about a dozen more. Epitaph was a band that showed up as an early seventies heavy rock, hard rock outfit, but when I listened to samples on YouTube, I wasn't convinced that I needed to add their albums to my collection. Then I got this album and I'll say that I am pleasantly surprised!

Nearly every band that played heavy rock or fell in with the first wave of heavy metal - now respectfully known as proto-metal - was not consistently heavy and intense. Most bands had one or two killer heavy tracks, a couple more that included heavy parts, and then the rest of the songs would be boogie rock, blues rock, an acoustic ballad, a folky number, and maybe something not so heavy but possibly proggy. This album isn't one of the few exceptions. However, it thankfully avoids some of the cliches that can frequently heard on American or British releases.

The opening track "Moving to the Country" features a grooving riff with slightly distorted guitars that sounds like early Eloy. It soon changes into a swinging bluesy number similar to early Wishbone Ash. However, at 3:15 there's a guitar solo that sounds suspiciously like finger tapping or at least a sequence of notes that sound similar to a tapped solo. That perked up my ears. The rest of the track revisits some of the more heavy rock sound that kicked off the song.

"Visions" is a slow track with strings or Mellotron that sounds a bit like "In the Court of the Crimson King" or a Moody Blues-inspired song. "Hopelessly" carries over from the hippy melodies of 69/70 before changing into a bass-grooving, upbeat jazz-tinged rocker like some early Uriah Heep. Then there's "Little Maggie" which a fun, southern rock-ish, track that gets rocking like Mountain or early Grand Funk Railroad. This one puts a smile on my face once the guitar solo starts carrying on.

"Early Morning" is the epic track that appears on many albums of the early seventies and it is in this track where the early heavy metal atmosphere rises through the rock. It's a slow number at first that builds the tension a little before releasing some intense drumming and guitar work. After the 8-minute mark we're into that sweet heavy rock of the 1969-72 era.

The original album is over here but the four CD bonus tracks are really worth mentioning because aside from the single version of "Visions" each of the tracks feature more of that scratchy wah-wah's guitar, hard-hammered riffs and intense drumming. "I'm Trying" once again brings to mind Wishbone Ash while "Changing World" actually nears Black Sabbath territory with some hard and heavy chords in one part while otherwise just being a showcase for speedy guitar rock with some heavy bass lines and frenetic drumming. This track is the best pick for an example of early seventies heavy rock.

Epitaph's debut is not going to make it to the top ten heavy albums of 1971 but it has a decent set of varying styles of guitar rock tracks which include some of those early heavy examples that I love to seek out. Overall, it's a pretty cool album and one that will get repeat listens simply because I enjoy listening to it.

THE WHO My Generation

Album · 1965 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Following in the trendy 60s mod and art pop scenes as the Detours, the band that changed its name to THE WHO quickly wooed audiences with its slick crafty menagerie of garage rock mixed with rhythm & blues and found instant success with the single “I Can’t Explain” which was admittedly a derivative of The Kinks “You Really Got Me” which shot up the British charts and launched the band into the big leagues right out of the gate. The unexpected success of that single that hit #8 on the charts opened the doors and quickly followed by another top 10 in the form of “Daddy Rolling Stone.” Due to these two high charting singles THE WHO was rushed into the studio where they cranked out their debut album MY GENERATION which debuted in December of 1965 and while a bit fashionably late to the British rock invasion, once THE WHO had arrived they wouldn’t stop until they hit the big time which happened practically overnight.

Like many albums of the era, MY GENERATION found two slightly different releases for its British audiences and another for the US with two different album covers. While a rushed job for sure with a mixed bag of varied tracks, MY GENERATION is notable for being one of the first British rock albums to showcase a more energetic aggressive approach which by today’s standards sounds laughable but around 1965-66 was quite shocking and single-handedly signaled an arms race of heavier and faster guitar riffs that ultimately led to the unthinkable variety of extreme metal and punk that would come a few decades down the road. That means THE WHO are considered both a proto-metal as well as a proto-punk band and although the songs on MY GENERATION are fairly standard blues driven pop rock that was fairly common for the British scene of the mid-60s, the drumming prowess of Keith Moon in particular along with heavier jangle guitars upped the ante in harder rock.

While i wouldn’t call MY GENERATION the most essential release by THE WHO, the album is interesting in connecting the dots between classic 50s rock and roll with the hard rock and proto-punk bands that followed. The title track was the only single off of this one which was a huge hit peaking at #2 on the British charts but also one of the best songs THE WHO ever did in its early years. The other notable songs are the opening “Out In The Street” and the instrumental “The Ox” which prognosticated the heavier and more progressive route that the band would take. This feisty number features incessantly heavy drums, a hyperactive piano groove and a punkish guitar and bass attack unlike anything that had been released at the time although it still retained a melodic connection to the R&B driven rock and roll era that THE WHO emerged from.

The album is decent but many rushed albums in the 60s included fluff and this album is no exception. The album features not one but two covers from James Brown: “I Don’t Mind” and “Please, Please, Please” as well as “I’m A Man” from Bo Diddley. Decently done but nothing more than adequate covers that really don’t hold up well over time. While touted as a masterpiece of the ages, i really don’t find MY GENERATION to be that exciting of a listen other than tuning into the zeitgeist of the mod scene of the mid-60s. Other than the title track and “The Ox” there is really nothing memorable about this album however if you have the Deluxe remastered version (the one i have) then you will be treated by extras such as the excellent track “Circles” as well as the singles that were released before MY GENERATION. Overall, this is a decent slice of mid-60s British blues fueled pop rock but hardly the best the era had to offer and certainly not THE WHO’s magnum opus but a great place to explore the band’s music for sure.

proto-metal movie reviews

BLIND FAITH London Hyde Park 1969

Movie · 2006 · Proto-Metal
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stefanbedna
Blind Faith -London Hyde Park 1969 dvd. An excellent concert.Quite simple concert.A beautiful day and a hundred thousand people in London´s central Hyde Park listens Blind Faith in their first big gig.Absolutely wonderful.For me the historic value of this concert.Rating 4,0 stars for me.Concert will be held 07/06/1969.Performers lineup eric clapton lead guitar,steve winwood phenomenal vocal and keyboards, rick grech on bass and of course phenomenal ginger baker on drums.This is an example of the unique combination of two large groups of Cream and Traffic rights in the Great introducetd in London´s Hyde Park.Really very interesting concert series watch it again on dvd.I highly recommend.

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