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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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced? Album Cover Are You Experienced?
JIMI HENDRIX
4.62 | 28 ratings
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QUEEN Queen II Album Cover Queen II
QUEEN
4.44 | 55 ratings
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WISHBONE ASH Argus Album Cover Argus
WISHBONE ASH
4.58 | 19 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Axis: Bold As Love Album Cover Axis: Bold As Love
JIMI HENDRIX
4.49 | 23 ratings
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THE WHO Who's Next Album Cover Who's Next
THE WHO
4.48 | 21 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.29 | 70 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
KING CRIMSON
4.23 | 77 ratings
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QUEEN A Night At The Opera Album Cover A Night At The Opera
QUEEN
4.20 | 56 ratings
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KING CRIMSON In The Court Of The Crimson King Album Cover In The Court Of The Crimson King
KING CRIMSON
4.15 | 72 ratings
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QUEEN Sheer Heart Attack Album Cover Sheer Heart Attack
QUEEN
4.08 | 44 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Electric Ladyland Album Cover Electric Ladyland
JIMI HENDRIX
4.06 | 24 ratings
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THE STOOGES Fun House Album Cover Fun House
THE STOOGES
4.23 | 9 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Electric Ladyland

Album · 1968 · Proto-Metal
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THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE may have had a short shelf life having only existed for four years and crafting three albums but they really knew how to make things count and take things to the next level on each subsequent release. The final chapter of the power trio that consisted of JIMI HENDRIX on vocals and guitar (and various other instruments such as comb and tissue paper kazoo!), Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums resulted in one of the most complex and enduring albums that the late 60s had to offer. In addition to the trio’s dominate instrumental prowess on the third and final album ELECTRIC LADYLAND, there was a whole army of guest musicians and production personnel involved making this one of the most expensive albums to have come out in 1968 and with eleven musicians and vocalists adding touches of flute, saxophone, Hammond organ, piano, 12-string guitar, congas and backing vocals, it’s also one of the most diverse and magnanimous sounding albums of the band’s three album career.

Keeping things in the same cosmic flow as their previous two albums, the EXPERIENCE continued in the lines of the psychedelically fueled blues rock that alternated between hard rock, blues and funk that added jazz touches. The indefatigable JIMI HENDRIX himself spent countless hours recording and re-recording tracks and then polishing them into pure perfection to the point where his perfectionist tendencies which coupled with the open invitation for friends to join in on the studio time led to a break in the professional relationship between HENDRIX and the man responsible for his initial success, Chas Chandler. The track “Gypsy Eyes” alone took 50 takes in 3 sessions to record. Despite the magnanimous nature of what went into the recording and production values, ELECTRIC LADYLAND sounds as if it was created in an impromptu performance as it flows fairly naturally from beginning to end, production techniques excluded of course.

So fertile was HENDRIX’s output that there was enough material to create a double album and at a playing time of over 75 minutes, was quite the commitment for the fans to wrap their heads around but nonetheless ELECTRIC LADYLAND instantly shot to the top of the charts and generated the band’s only top 40 hit in the US with the Bob Dylan cover of “All Along The Watchtower,” a track that Dylan himself has admitted to being a vast improvement over his original. While the public enthusiastically supported the new album, the critics who had trouble finding a way to relate to the album weren’t so kind but was the decades have elapsed and new generations have discovered the ambitious nature of this album, it has since been deemed one of the greatest rock albums of all time as it effortlessly coalesced the disparate elements of funk, blues, hard rock, jazz and psychedelia under one anthemic banner.

ELECTRIC LADYLAND crafted a much denser and sophisticated compositional approach than either “Are You Experienced?” or “Axis: Bold As Love.” While clearly still rooted in the bluesy heavy rock riffing and guitar soloing showmanship style that had propelled HENDRIX into the limelight, the album shows a rock band evolving past the limitations of what a rock band was considered to be and much like The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” which changed the musical landscape the year prior was in the forefront of experimental techniques that included extensive use of backmasking, chorus effects, echoing and flange. Likewise the 15 minute long “Voodoo Chile” presaged the entire progressive rock revolution that would become official once King Crimson launched their ground zero detonating “In The Court Of The Crimson King” the following year. In short, ELECTRIC LADYLAND had the simplicity and hooks to draw in the crowds and the subtle complexities to keep them coming back for more.

Eclectic and diverse, ELECTRIC LADYLAND showcased HENDRIX’s own sundry stylistic approaches. While some tracks like “Voodoo Chile” exorcised his deepest inner blues, others like “Come On” focused on R&B whereas “Crosstown Traffic” was more in the acid hard rock camp. “Little Miss Strange” was one of the few tracks to feature Mitch Mitchell on lead vocals and is a strange little 60s beat pop song tucked into the layers of psychedelically tinged externalities that provide the unifying factor. HENDRIX seemed to realize that this would be his magnum opus as his attention to this exhaustive labor of love only became apparent to the world that his works were indeed the makings of a mad genius who ceaselessly toiled over his worktable to create the next addition to his musical canvas. With a message presented in the album’s final track “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” that said “If I don't meet you no more in this world, then I'll meet you in the next one, and don't be late, don't be late” makes you wonder if HENDRIX didn’t know on a higher level that his days on Earth were limited.

Having not been around for the original release of this magnificent album has been one of my biggest hurdles in appreciating its brilliance as i’ve had to work my way back through the timeline to wrap my head around the mindset that launched the whole 60s psychedelic rock scene in the first place. While any progressive rock or metalhead who delves deep enough in the way back machine will ultimately end up here, it does not mean for a second that the album will be regarded in such high esteem. The album has to be not just heard but EXPERIENCED on a higher plane to truly understand. It’s almost a transcendental meditative experience in its own right once the left-brained antics of comparison to those who were influenced by this era are allowed to dissipate. Overall the album comes off as a dream sequence at rock concert where the performers exist in multiple dimensions simultaneously and are able to connect on a cosmic level superseding the 3D limitations of the Earth plane. Something struck a chord with the fans. ELECTRIC LADYLAND remains the JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE’s most successful album of the mere three album career and one that may not transcend the time it was created but on the contrary takes the listener back to the best aspects of what made the era so great.

STEEL MILL Green Eyed God

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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While prog bands that released a single album and disappeared into the ethers never to be heard from again were quite common all throughout prog’s heyday of the 70s and even far beyond into the 80s, usually there exists a bit of historical context of how the bands formed, how they crafted their albums and where the various members would end up after projects imploded. STEEL MEEL on the other hand remains to this very day one of the more mysterious bands that somehow eluded the record keepers. In the pursuit of a historical analysis, many trying to paint a clearer picture have been utterly stumped. Even producer John Schroeder remembers nothing about neither the band nor the sessions that he was a part of. None of the musicians belonged to the English musicians union and even those who knew of the band during their time seemed to know nothing about their story, therefore it is a complete mystery as to how the five members came to the process of forming STEEL MILL and the recording of their sole album GREEN EYED GOD.

What is known is that the band consisted of David Morris (vocals, keyboards), Terry Williams (guitar), John Challenger (sax, woodwind), Jeff Watts (bass) and Christ Martin (drums, percussion). Much of this lack of information stems from the fact that despite hailing from the music mecca of 1970s London and having released two singles, a truncated form of the title track and “Summer’s Child,” GREEN EYED GOD found little support from the record company which would only issue an original release in Germany in 1972 and the album wouldn’t find a proper debut in their native UK or North America until 1975, long after the band had called it quits and when i say called it quits, i don’t mean that the band members called it a day and moved on to other projects. They literally fled the music business totally. All of these issues conspired to create one of rock’s most enigmatic mystery bands of the era. Only Jeff Watts is known to have ventured into another project, the equally forgotten band Design.

It’s somewhat understandable as to why STEEL MILL found such resistance. GREEN EYED GOD has a rather anachronistic sound for the year 1972. While the band was fairly original in how they composed their eight tracks on GREEN EYED GOD, the music itself relied on the template of late 60s heavy psych with fuzzed out guitar riffs in the vein of Iron Butterfly or Vanilla Fudge and peppered it with fluffy flute laden psychedelic folk with Celtic flavors along with touches of jazz and psychedelia. Likewise, another 60s trait is that the band lacked a charismatic vocalist that carried the music to another level however Dave Morris does a decent job in carrying his weight actually. It is known that STEEL MILL formed in 1970 and the music presented here surely must have been crafted in that same timeline as it sounds very much like its on the change of the decade years in terms of style.

Despite the rather dated sound for its release time, GREEN EYED GOD is a really good album that stitches together the various elements that make it original. Consider it an early retro album and all is good. It’s the sort of album that SHOULD have been crafted in the late 60s but never was and STEEL MILL were there to add their stamp to the sounds of that era even if it meant entering the world’s stage a little late to the party. The heavy psych guitar riffs erupt immediately on the opener “Blood Runs Deep” which finds rather groovy guitar and bass interactions embellished by a jazzy saxophone dominated backdrop and intermittent cooling off periods of psychedelic folk. The single “Summer’s Child” starts out like a Led Zeppelin ballad except with an airy woodwind section but transmogrifies into a bass driven mid-tempo rocker that incorporates bluesy guitar soloing and vocal harmonies.

GREEN EYED GOD’s greatest strength is it’s diversity. Every track takes on a different characteristic. “Mijo And The Laying Of The Witch” continues sounding completely different than the previous two tracks with an intriguing mysterious atmosphere with a jazzy backdrop. The track slowly changes into a heavier rocker with hard rock guitar heft but also a healthy presence of the sultry sax soloing. The track at nearly eight minutes long is also one of the more progressive as it tackles varying stylistic shifts which alter tempo, timbres and dynamics as well as some abrupt time signature changes. The folky parts exude pastoral flute runs.

“Treadmill” starts strangely with a Hare Krishna type of a cappella group vocal chant and some bells before erupting into a more standard hard rock tune laced with guitar fuzz and bass and drum heft to back it up. The call and response of the vocals and bluesy guitar solos keep the track fiery and sounding great. The highlight of the album is surely the nine minute title track. While released as a truncated single, this full version is gorgeous and also quite progressive as it begins in a mediative ancient Celtic flute trance and cymbal action that slowly ratchets up to a heavy bluesy rocker sounding something like Bad Company only more adventurous with stylistic chord changes, ballsy soloing and excellent bass and percussive interactions. Jazzy touches also join in and Morris offers a more passionate than usual vocal performance. It’s fairly ecstatic how the sax and flute alternate and the percussive drive flips from standard rock to tribal drumming at the drop of a hat. This track demonstrates STEEL MILL’s strong sense of instrumental interplay as the musicians find many variations that play well together.

The piano driven “Turn The Page Over” offers yet another stylistic shift with Beatles like vocal harmonies conspiring to create utterly infectious melodic counterpoints. “Black Jewel Of The Forest” is another Pagan ritual sounding track with heavy flute action, tribal drumming and eerie background vocals. Somewhat like Comus but not as frantic. The album ends with the unusual fifty second instrumental “Har Fleur” yet again sounding different than what came before. It’s most likely you will not own an original copy as the first vinyl editions are extremely rare and have been known to be some of the most expensive original prog vinyl albums ever to exchange hands in which case if you do indeed own GREEN EYED GOD then you will be treated to the two bonus tracks “Get On The Line” and “Zang Will” which are every bit as good yet different from the original eight tracks but still fit in so well. STEEL MILL may have only crafted a handful of tracks but did an outstanding job in the process.

Despite the album bombing big time the first time around and shrouding the band in mystery for decades, the popularity of GREEN EYED GOD has only grown exponentially since. The album has become quite the mandatory staple of progressive rock collectors who like a hard rock bite with their psychedelic folk with jazzy touches which is mostly due to the strong songwriting that provides intricate and addictive melodies but most of all it’s how the band crafted these compositions with a keen sense of adding subtle elements that despite using the templates of the 60s, implement the more sophisticated touches of the progressive rock heyday. The result is an album that sounds like it exists in two timelines. True that Dave Morris doesn’t provide the most stellar vocal performances but his limited range keeps the album simmering in a typical hard rock band fashion while the nuances of the instrumental interplay make this an more intriguing progressive listen. This was a grower. It may not blow you away at first but if you let it sink in for a few spins, its unleashes its magic in doses, at least it did for me.

Just a quick note: apparently some of the band's secrets have been revealed on the 2010 "Jewels Of The Forest (Green Eyed God Plus)." Until i acquire that copy, they are still a mystery :)

SUBJECT ESQ Subject Esq

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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Starting out as one of the many 60s beat music groups that looked towards England rather than their homegrown German underground scene, SUBJECT ESQ started out humbly in 1966 as The Subjects but would change their name in 1968 to SUBJECT ESQ. The band would release this sole album under this moniker in 1972 before switching gears one more time and changing their band name to Sahara under which they would release two additional albums. Based in Munich, The Subjects turned SUBJECT ESQ were more interested in creating a hard rock tinged melodic guitar driven sound that utilized English lyrics and incorporated touches of more progressive elements such as jazz-rock and some psychedelic features.

The band spent many years on the local scene honing their skills before they got around to recording and releasing this eponymously titled SUBJECT ESQ release and therefore this debut album sound like it was delivered from a well-seasoned band that had successfully honed their Beatles melodies, their Who inspired heavy chops and incorporated a more local flavor with Embryo styled jazz-rock that offered interesting extended progressive workouts that spread out beyond the strongly melodic songwriting process. The band at this stage consisted of Michael Hofmann (flute, alto sax, vocals), Peter Stadler (keyboards), Stephan Wissnet (bass, vocals), Alex Pittwohn (mouth harp, 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals) and Harry Rosenkind (drums) but the band would add even more musicians as they continued to tour.

SUBJECT ESQ is a very strong example of completely unknown music by today’s standards was ridiculously good and leaves me wondering why these guys haven’t been relegated to a higher level of historical standing. The melodic hooks are solidly addictive as they immediately reel you in before the arrangements are allowed to develop into more intriguing complexities. While not exactly jazz-fusion, the jazz elements are wickedly strong as they accompany the hard rock guitar parts but are just as integral to the band’s overall sound as are the guitar and bass. The vocal performances are outstanding. Vocals in German bands of the era can be less than optimal for the musical style but several vocalists exhibit very strong harmonies as well as instrumental command that ranges from technically adept to ridiculously playful.

SUBJECT ESQ was one of the underground prog legends of the Munich area in the day but never really broke beyond the German market unfortunately. With an eclectic sound that sounded part English rock including a Jethro Tullish flute performance, a jazzy rock dominance and a strong American folk element that reminds a bit of Crosby, Still and Nash, it’s no wonder the band were quite popular in their region for their day as all members maintained a strong command of the instrumentation and musical delivery. This is one of those albums you can drift into decades later and the melodic hooks are so strong that it will instantly drag you in and leave you wondering why you haven’t heard of them before and even worse make you wonder how many other excellent bands of similar ilk have also been lost to the bulk of product in the historical bins. This was a surprise but a pleasant one. A super strong album that deserves rediscovery.

QUEEN A Night At The Opera

Album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
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By the time their third album “Sheer Heart Attack” had been released and run its course, QUEEN found themselves perched on a rather peculiar precipice. Not only had that album launched them onto the world’s stage with two huge hit singles, a Billboard top 20 album charting and a successful debut headlining tour that took them across the world on a 77 show live circuit that lasted several months but due to the rather unscrupulous shadiness of their business manager Norman Sheffield, the band was left in a state of unthinkable poverty despite the new found success, a state of affairs so utterly dismal that drummer Roger Taylor was even advised not to drum too hard because they couldn’t even afford to replace the drum sticks if they happened to break.

This left QUEEN in a very strange position where they would either soon become irrelevant and fade into history as a mere footnote of obscure 70s flashes in the pan or on the contrary go back into the studio and create one of the best albums of all time. After acquiring the management skills of John Reid who had helped Elton John become one of the top stars of the 70s, the band went into many studios and cranked out their fourth album A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, which took the name of the famous Marx Brothers film and it should go without saying created their most successful and revered album of their entire career. Fate was truly on QUEEN’s side as EMI Records not only welcomed the band’s return to the studio but had enough faith to grace it with a lavish production job which would make A NIGHT AT THE OPERA the most expensive album ever recorded at the time.

With this do or die situation at hand, the 70s version of the Fab Four: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Deacon and Roger Taylor spent months in various studios crafting their most ambitious album yet and in many ways, the album that the previous three had been hinting at all along. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA took QUEEN’s eclectic styles of genre skipping with a lush complex production that implemented unthinkable layers of overdubs and multitrack recording techniques. All the efforts proved successful of course with A NIGHT AT THE OPERA going platinum on both sides of the Atlantic and spawning the band’s most successful single of their career “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a multi-segmented song so magnanimous in nature that it single-handedly made QUEEN one of the most popular rock bands in history.

Like the albums prior, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA continued QUEEN’s signature mix of catchy pop hooks, classically infused piano riffs, heavy rock bombast and progressive rock nuances. This fourth album puts all those attributes on steroids and finds Freddie Mercury’s operatic flamboyancy reaching its apex. In addition to the expected styles, QUEEN added even more disparate genres such as skiffle, Victorian music hall and even Dixieland jazz which gives A NIGHT AT THE OPERA the ping pong ball effect where one track cedes into another seemingly unrelated one that often gives the impression that tracks were recorded by completely different bands however careful listening will reveal a few underlying themes. The tracks segue together in the same key, May’s ubiquitous harmonic guitar overdubs and an extreme appetite for pomp and awe where no limitations are considered.

The state of affairs that found QUEEN starving while the bigwigs running the show got rich off their efforts found Freddie Mercury in a less than happy mood where he lashed out in the form of the album’s opener “Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To….)” which once the story is understood about the bloodsucking management makes perfect sense as the name Norman Sheffield can easily be inserted in the missing credit. The track opens with Mercury’s infamous piano style which quickly finds May’s equally eccentric guitar parts joining in. The track is a vituperatory heavy rock format with a catchy melodic development. While no names were mentioned, the thematic delivery ruffled feathers and found a lawsuit for defamation that was settled out of court.

Starting with the second track “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon”, the album begins to alternate between heavy rock tracks and more piano driven music hall styles which are rather short little ditties that offer the spirit of the variation experienced in the music hall era of English musical halls that remained popular from the 1830s well into the 1960s. QUEEN joined bands like The Beatles and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in implanting this traditional form of music into their format. After track two’s short stint, it is quickly followed by the outstanding Roger Taylor penned “I’m In Love With My Car” which not only remains one of QUEEN’s most recognizable tracks with its heavily produced series of guitar sounds and unmistakable hooks but adds the humorous touch that fits in with the album titles Marx Brothers theme. While Taylor wasn’t a main songwriter, he was sort of the George Harrison of the band meaning when he was allowed to contribute he only delivered top quality.

Next up is “You’re My Best Friend,” a tender ballad that allowed bassist John Deacon to shine where he not only wrote the song but played the Wurlitzer piano as well as his usual bass. This would prove to be another huge hit for QUEEN which hit the top 10 and has remained one of the band’s most popular having appeared on every sort of Greatest Hits compilation conjured up over the years. Like Taylor, Deacon proved to be a vital ingredient to the band’s overall chemistry even if his contributions to songwriting were overshadowed by the dualistic prowess of the formidable Mercury and May team.

The next two tracks were all written by May with the self-described sci-fi skiffle track “39” being written and sung by Brian May. This acoustic guitar tale of a group of space explorers who engage in a time defying journey finds Deacon playing a double bass and Mercury and Taylor relegated to only serving as backup vocalists. Contrast ensues when the next heavily distorted and heavy rocker “Sweet Lady,” also a May construct, zigzags in waltz timing but finds a more 4/4 rich timing in various segments giving the true rocker of the album a rather progressive feel with one of May’s heaviest off-the-leash guitar solos on the entire album.

After the honky tonk jangle piano flashback of the Mercury piano driven “Seaside Rendezvous” which found a wealth of wind instruments such as clarinet, tuba, trumpets and kazoo and even a thimble induced tap dance section, the second side of the album finds May’s outstanding “The Prophet’s Song” adding some progressive rock touches, which is one of the album’s most ambitious tracks as well as longest as it extends past the eight minute mark. Graced with a toy Japanese koto, a strong guitar driven melody, passionately delivered lyrics and an unusual vocal canon that is bathed in psychedelic production techniques, this track displays a wild display of ever-changing dynamic shifts as it refers to the Book of Genesis with the famous line “return like the white dove” in reference to the tale of Noah’s Ark. It also showcases some of the band’s most outstanding vocal harmonies on overdrive. Probably one of my all time favorite tracks by QUEEN.

While the Mercury piano ballad “Love Of My Life” and the May banjo / ukulele Dixieland score “Good Company” are more of brief intermissions than actual serious compositions, they prove to be more like mood generating fluffers for the larger than life “Bohemian Rhapsody” which has remained QUEEN’s most recognizable contribution to the music scene in all of history. This idiosyncratic behemoth was developed as Mercury’s classic piano runs which dictate the other instrumentation but the score runs the gamut from tender piano ballad music to the famous ending opera segment that exhorts operatic themes in true Wagnerian pomp with references to Scaramouche, Galileo, Figaro, Beelzebub, Bismillah and of courses the fandango. The famous heavy metal ending and reprise to the piano melody have made this standout track immortal and entire books could be written about it. The track hit the top 10 once again in the 90s when it appeared on the film “Wayne’s World” proving that the track had multi-generational appeal.

As the album ends with the short reworked cover version of “God Save The Queen,” the British national anthem, it signifies that a new royalty had arrived with the release of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and with a new royal seal appearing on the album cover, it was clear that indeed a strange updated musical act had usurped the rock and roll crown and delivered one of the most ambitious, most expensive and most outlandish albums to have emerged in the 70s. While i find this album to the masterpiece that most deem it to be, it doesn’t necessarily start out that way. While some tracks are clearly stronger than other, a masterpiece isn’t about every track existing on an equal playing field but rather how they are juxtaposed next to each other and what their purpose is. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA has instantly lovable tracks but once the instant flash wears off, allows repeated listens to unleash new magic. That’s exactly what A NIGHT AT THE OPERA offers. An ever changing series of reactions that allows this to remain a classic in modern times just as it must’ve been when it was released. The only downside to this album is that the band was never able to replicate its grandiose heights again but nevertheless it made QUEEN a household name for the rest of time and continues to have new periods of interest.

QUEEN Sheer Heart Attack

Album · 1974 · Proto-Metal
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Sometimes an artist’s trajectory is forged more by sheer luck rather than clever navigation and such is the case for one of rock history’s most celebrated and popular bands, namely QUEEN who having arrived rather late in the game in both the hard rock and prog scenes still managed to find themselves at the top of the world by decade’s end. After the power quartet of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon formed in 1970 after the disbanding of May’s previous band Smile, the Fab Four of the 70s would continue together uninterrupted until Mercury’s untimely passing in 1991. The debut QUEEN I showcased a unique mix of hard rock and glam imagery all dressed up with slightly progressive touches whereas QUEEN II took those attributes even further and projected an image of going yet further down the prog pike as the fantasy themes became more enriched as did the pomp and awe of musical flamboyancy.

But that’s exactly where fate stepped in. After QUEEN II was released in March 1974, the band embarked on a promotional tour with Mott The Hoople and even had a minor hit with their single “Seven Seas Of Rhye.” As luck would have it, Brian May was stricken with a case of hepatitis in the middle of the tour and the band was forced to cancel their remaining gigs. So as not to waste the time away, the other three members sallied forth minus May and began the process of crafting the next album. Without May’s input, the balance suddenly shifted to Mercury’s more pop infused piano led dynamics that offered more catchy melodies and crazy deviations from the norm of the 70s rock paradigm. While May was down, he wasn’t complete out as the rest of the band instead delved into the vaults and rescued forgotten May penned songs that dated back to the first album.

The result was the second album of 1974, SHEER HEART ATTACK which emerged in November and offered a completely different style than projected on the first two albums, a style that would dictate the classic QUEEN sound and would catapult them into superstar status. SHEER HEART ATTACK was an awkward album that provided the bridge between the overdub rich guitar attacks of the first two albums and the streamlined production heavy and more commercial sounding albums that follow. While tracks like the opening “Brighton Rock” exemplified May’s love of the delay pedal and rich tapestry of guitar overdubs, other tracks like “Killer Queen” and “Lily Of The Valley” were pure unadulterated Mercury crafted pop songs enriched with his unique crafty style that found his piano playing and vocal range shoot through the roof.

As a result of their Led Zeppelin meets Jimi Hendrix style of rock adding more slick elements of the more pop oriented hard rock bands such as The Sweet, QUEEN experienced instant success as “Killer Queen” sailed up the charts as a pop single and the album followed with sales going through the roof. The crown had been placed and QUEEN found its way into the royal rock hall of fame in no time. Despite SHEER HEART ATTACK sounding like a rather disjointed collection of unrelated tracks, QUEEN pulled it all off with gusto and proved that they had what it took to boldly delve into disparate genres of music without a second thought, a feat that hadn’t been attempted in popular rock music since The Beatles dominated the decade prior and a testament to the explorative power and ambition that set QUEEN apart from the plethora of “stuck in the blues” rock bands that cluttered the music scene.

It doesn’t take long to discover as “Brighton Rock” cedes into the following “Killer Queen,” a sultry swinging piano based pop hit about a high class prostitute, that SHEER HEART ATTACK was an album that hops, skips and jumps all over the musical spectrum looking for the next good time and perpetual party to crash. The lyrics had been brought back down to Earth and infused with both more serious and more lighthearted subject matter. Next up was the Roger Taylor penned “Tenement Funster” that tackled youth and rebellion and he even sang lead vocals before the tracks once again cede into a double whammy of Mercury’s melodic charm on “Flick Of The Wrist” and “Lily Of The Valley,” a triumvirate of tracks that created a larger medley.

Despite a more pop appeal, QUEEN still dished out the machismo with the ball busting guitar riffing frenzy of “Stone Cold Crazy,” a clattering track of distortion and bombast that presaged both speed and thrash metal by nearly a decade however the biggest surprise of the album comes from Mercury’s interest in vaudeville kitsch in the form of the piano driven blast from the past “Bring Back That Leroy Brown,” which showcased a ukulele and banjo section as well as Deacon tackling the double bass. While May was down and out for much of the album’s development, he returned in time to tack on the superb “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos) where he wrote and sung the lyrics and provides a wealth of not only the expected overdubs but field samplings from busy New York City gloom and doom. “In The Lap Of The Gods” provided a two part theme revised bringing the QUEEN II era of just a few months prior to mind.

While there is no denying that QUEEN was a formidable talent, there was no guarantee as to how they would direct this talent much less become one of the biggest bands of all time. SHEER HEART ATTACK displayed how both talent, audacity and sheer luck melded together to create a more tangible and unifying style that would attract an infinitely larger listening audience. While not as stylistically slick or as unifying brilliant as QUEEN II and not nearly as accomplished as the followup “A Night At The Opera,” one can easily hear the nascent birth pangs of many of the ideas that would continue to evolve and dish them out in small rations. SHEER HEART ATTACK despite its rather awkward nature is nevertheless utterly infectious with a staggering amalgamation of groovy rhythms and ever changing dynamics with instantly likable melodies and just enough avant-garde pomp and awe to rival the most outrageous bands of the day. A transition album perhaps, but a really good one.

proto-metal movie reviews

BLIND FAITH London Hyde Park 1969

Movie · 2006 · Proto-Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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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