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
4.45 | 56 ratings
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WISHBONE ASH Argus Album Cover Argus
WISHBONE ASH
4.59 | 20 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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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.33 | 73 ratings
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THE WHO Who's Next Album Cover Who's Next
THE WHO
4.47 | 21 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
KING CRIMSON
4.24 | 79 ratings
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QUEEN A Night At The Opera Album Cover A Night At The Opera
QUEEN
4.21 | 57 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
4.14 | 73 ratings
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QUEEN Sheer Heart Attack Album Cover Sheer Heart Attack
QUEEN
4.09 | 45 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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SCORPIONS Lonesome Crow

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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martindavey87
‘Lonesome Crow’ is the 1972 debut of one of metal and hard rock’s longest running and most endearing bands, the Scorpions (or, more specifically, just Scorpions, without the “the”). Like countless others, I was introduced to this band by winds of change, being rocked like a hurricane and suffering severe blackouts, so it’s a huge surprise, and kind of an odd disappointment, to discover that the German hard rockers were something completely different when they first debuted.

Commonly referred to as “krautrock”, ‘Lonesome Crow’ is more psychedelic and progressive than what the band would go on to become known for. With a heavy emphasis on non-linear guitar solos and vocal lines that don’t really follow very clear melodies, it’s a bit of a mess of an album, especially if, like me, you were expecting the bands latter riff-fuelled sound to be present here.

Most of this falls down to guitarist Michael Schenker, who’s distinctive playing style is all over this album, but would leave the band before they could record a follow-up, which is where the group really start to develop their more recognizable sound. There is some impressive musicianship, which feels more akin to the progressive rock bands of the day, but for all the competent playing, they’re not very competent at writing catchy songs. Not yet, anyway.

I mean, if I had to really look for positives, then full credit would go to the bands technical abilities on their instruments. But I don’t really listen to albums marvelling at the musicianship if the songs themselves are pretty boring and forgettable. It’s a shame, but in fairness, these guys would certainly go on to evolve and eventually conquer the world, so dismissing ‘Lonesome Crow’ shouldn’t be such an issue, surely?

SILBERBART 4 Times Sounding Razing

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Straddled between the peak years of prog rock and the heavy psych 60s, Germany’s Varel (by the North Sea) based SILBERBART (Silverbeard) was formed in 1969 by guitarist / vocalist Hajo Teschner who spent the latter half of swinging 60s in a band called Tonics which to his dismay resided on the commercial end of things which pleased him not. After his Tonics bandmates jumped ship and joined the James Last band, Teschner decided to pursue a more adventurous route in the nascent Krautrock years and after combining forces with percussionist Gerd Bäker and bassist Peter Bahrens the newly founded SILBERBART resorted to playing cover songs by Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and the band whose sound was most vital to SILBERBART’s future independence, Cream.

Once Bäker departed and was replaced by the jazz drummer Peter Behrens, Teschner was finally allowed to nurture his latent inner freak and the true SILBERBART unfolded into the mysteries that composed the early 70s in all its avant-garde majesty. While accelerating towards the future, the trio remained anchored to the heavy psych rock antics of the past and in the process created one of the stranger albums to come out in the early years of the Krautrock scene. While never really finding an audience outside of Northern Germany, SILBERBART nevertheless quickly gained a reputation as one of the loudest bands in the world for their brash proto-metal guitar stomps laced with fuzz and adrenalized distortion that were perfectly accented by a heavy percussive bombast and independent bass lines which accented the band’s unique fascination with atonality between instruments.

SILBERBART recorded its one and only album 4 TIMES SOUND RAZING in April 1971 live in the studio and despite the intentions of only recording demos in reality was recording the four tracks that comprised the full-length debut. These experimental demons were based on the early 70s blues rock and heavy metal but found no problem in engaging in complete musical meltdowns, freeform nosedives into the farthest extremes of psychedelic trips and bizarre noise based chaos that generated atonal clusters of sound that were bound together sole by the rhythmic drive of the drums. I do believe SILBERBART actually prognosticated the New York based no wave movement of the late 70s but i somehow doubt that any of those bands could have been exposed to these stylistic deviations presented on 4 TIMES SOUND RAZING however the album did appear on the Nurse With Wound list in 1979 so who knows.

4 TIME SOUND RAZING has four goofily named tracks and although it begins like a typical blues inspired hard rock album of the era on the opening “Chub Chub Cherry,” the band introduces oddball insertions into the status quo but don’t really let the freak flags really fly until the second and longest track “Brain Brain” which at 16 minutes plus, begins as an airy falsetto driven slow atmospheric psychedelic groove that sounds like a throwback to the Summer of Love but then after a few verses and choruses totally freaks out at makes a hairpin spin into a high tempo chaotic swirl of bombastic noisy heavy metal that sounds like a herd of elephants stomping over a concert of rock musicians but the band regain control and channel it into a more familiar Amon Duul II styled Krautrock jam. The track continues to jump all over the place and reminds me a lot of Gnidrolog’s debut album “In Spite of Harry’s Toenail” which wouldn’t be released for another year and in England. I think it’s the atonal independence of the instruments that makes this connection. But then again Alice Cooper’s debut “Hello Pretties” fits the bill as well.

The 10 minute “God” is more of a heavy psychedelic metal rocker and probably is the most “normal” sounding track but still goes left field into warm fuzzy guitar sequences, Ginger Baker sounding drums, Led Zeppelin-esque guitar solos with Guru Guru heavy feedback with freeform jamming added for good measure. While Teschner’s vocals are fairly reserved on this album compared to the crazy instrumental workouts, at times as in the middle of “God” he hurls some blood curdling screams out of the speakers enough to scare the bejesus out of you the first time you encounter this sonic exorcism! The track then totally derails and starts to zigzag all over the place. The track ends with an assault of heavy guitar chords, bluesy slides and atonal riffs running amok.

“Head Tear of the Drunken Sun” ends the album and saves the weirdest for last! It immediately takes that honor as it enters with a series of ferocious guitar slides and then enters blues rock territory with Teschner doing his best Creedence Clearwater Revival vocal tribute. While the guitar riffs begin more like something off of Deep Purple’s “In Rock” complete with sizzling guitar solos, it eventually breaks down into an ethereal Comus like freak folk with echoey clean guitars and spooky haunting sounds in tandem including what sounds like chimes or bells of some sort. The freakiness builds in intensity with guitar sounds sliding and whizzing like the LSD has kicked in. Is this Can’s “Tago Mago?” Wow. Sure sounds like it but this is more metal oriented and one of the earliest examples of what could be truly called psychedelic metal which could rightfully be compared to the bizarre funeral metal antics of England’s modern day Esoteric at least instrumentally speaking. After completely switching gears back into sober heavy rock, the track finishes in the bluesy rock style which it began with.

This is a wild ride for sure and utterly unique for its simultaneous intensity on two completely different levels. While many bands were pushing the heaviness and others were going full force into psychedelic, SILBERBART somehow found a way to incorporate both aspects into their sound without sounding forced. It really does sound like a band that went to practice but dropped some acid before the set however the lysergic influences only intermittently affect their playing and the result is 4 TIMES SOUND RAZING. Too weird for even the proggers of the era, this band didn’t last long at all and broke up soon after. While remaining a complete mystery for decades, the 2012 reissue finally added some liner notes to give some important history. This is a must for any adventurous Krautheads who love both the heavy rock strains as well as the psychedelic trippy ones. You can think of this as the most psychedelic band that took the late 60s along for the ride and in many ways lives up to the potential of the sounds that were never fully realized by bands like Cream, Blue Cheer and Iron Butterfly. This is a delicious and demented album but a ridiculously fun one at that!

KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic

Album · 1973 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
There are many existential quandaries that the universe teases us with on a daily basis so it can be quite unnerving when your favorite musical artists create some more for you! I speak of KING CRIMSON’s lauded fifth album LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC. If you were like me upon first exposure to this eccentric and innovative album then you were wondering what in the world is ASPIC? Well, culinary types may know the answer but in reality the word has two actual meanings. Firstly it is a clear jelly typically made of stock and gelatin and used as a glaze or garnish or to make a mold of meat, fish, or vegetables and secondly we have to put on our botanist’s cap to realize that is either of two species of lavender, Lavandula spica or L. latifolia, that yield an oil used in perfumery. So which of these does this bizarre title refer to? I am eternally striving to figure this out but i digress before i even start.

KING CRIMSON is one of the most revered bands in all of the progressive rock playbook and one of the reasons why this band could do no wrong for many during the first leg of this band’s career is that Robert Fripp and whomever he was collaborating with would consistently crank out one album after another with little or nothing in common. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the lineup changed often and as a result pretty much every album in the beginning featured a completely different musical cast and Fripp as the de facto band leader wisely molded any particular album’s thematic underpinnings to the strengths of whichever cast members were in the KING CRIMSON show at any given moment. While members came and went since the debut “In The Court Of The Crimson King,” the band completely melted down after 1971’s “Islands” leaving only Fripp to carry on the name and create a new band from scratch.

Fripp was a magnet for talent and had no problem recruiting a new batch of veritable prog stalwarts eager to play with the already legendary band that single handedly launched the big bang of prog in 1969 with the lauded debut. The lineup that appeared on LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC would result in being a wise choice as it would prove to be a fairly stable lineup until the band’s first dissolution after “Red.” Bassist / vocalist John Wetton joined the team after having previously played with Mogul Thrash, Gordon Haskell and Family. Violinist David Cross made his debut here and fresh out of Yes, drummer Bill Buford found a new home in one of prog’s early powerhouses adding his extraordinary drumming talents and taking KC into new music territories. Also joining ranks was percussionist Jamie Muir of The Music Improvisation Company projects (with Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Hugh Davies) who only played on this one album. While the only one of the team who didn’t continue on with KC, it was his interest becoming a Bhuddist monk that led him to leave the music world for a monastic lifestyle.

For once Fripp took a little more time to craft the next phase of the KC’s career. After stuffing four extremely demanding albums into a three year timespan, Fripp was more than ready to take a deep breath and plan the next move carefully. The new incarnation of the band crafted yet another masterful album that got back to the band’s progressive rock origin’s after “Islands” ethereal space music. LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC may have been more rockin’ but still as eclectic as ever with lots of inspiration of both Easter and Western European classical traditions, jazz and free improvisation. LARKS’ TONGUE is also unique in that it has two full time percussionists with Bill Bruford handling drums, timbales, cowbells and wood blocks and Muir adding different styles of ethnic percussion and a wealth of assorted items not normally associated with music. The result was an interesting mix of more accessible elements mixed with avant-garde strangeness much like the debut album.

The original release of LARKS’ TONGUE IN ASPIC consisted of only six tracks with the opener and closer creating a two part suite of sorts that was interrupted by the creamy filling in between. The two title tracks would ultimately continue on to other albums. “Part III” would emerge on “Three of a Perfect Pair” and “Part IV” on “The Construction of Light.” “Part I,” the longest track on the album is the most intense as well as it starts with a series of metallic clangs and what sounds like those wind chimes before the track shifts into a series of varied passages that showcase Robert Fripp’s angular guitar antics along with David Cross’s virtuosic violin playing. While the many shades of percussion are many, the driving force of both parts is clearly the heavy metal guitar riffing that provides a groove to latch onto before Fripp dives headfirst into the world of avant-prog weirdness. Another thing i have noticed about the LARKS’ suites is how the main percussive drive seems to have inspired the modern day drumming style of sludge metal with its sparse percussive bombast that punctuates certain rhythmic timings.

The mid-section is just as varied as the title track suites themselves. Of the four tracks, John Wetton provides vocals on “Book of Saturday,” “Exiles” and “Easy Money.” The first track which is perhaps the most accessible track with an easy to follow vocal melody backed up by jazzy psychedelic meandering but obviously crafted into some sort of avant-groove. “Exiles” while starting out in the clouds and venturing through murky atmospheric turbulence ultimately lands and creates another vocal led number that alternates with the orchestrated space effects. In some ways, this track is the only track that resembles what appeared on the preceding “Islands.” The track “Easy Money” bursts out some of the best guitar tones in the entire KC canon with grungy hisses emerging in fully distorted power chords while Wetton does some sort of vocal dance around the pounding bass and heavy percussive drive. The track which is about the antics of a snake oil salesman finds a way to incorporate a funky rock beat within a greater jazzified complexity with somewhat lighthearted lyrics that keep the album from drowning in darkness. In all honesty, the vocal tracks have always proved less compelling but add the human touches to keep this album from drifting out into space.

My favorite track has to be the excellently packaged “The Talking Drum” which masterfully weaves together tribal percussion with Eastern violins and a mean dirty avant-counterpoint of the guitar that dances around the dominant groove which hypnotically ratchets up the tension with a frenzy of sounds growing ever louder until the track merges with the second LARKS’ TONGUE suite that takes the album out with a bombastic metal guitar, screeching violin and incessantly caffeinated percussion that climaxes in a purely cacophonous din. Wow. What did i just hear? This album is not the easiest listen for sure. In fact it’s taken a long time for me to appreciate it. While some tracks stood out at first, others took their sweet time gestating in my soul but after a ridiculous number of listens, the complexities of KC started to settle and make themselves at home in the musical rolodex in my mind. This is a very weird and charming album to say the least. Inspirational for jazz, metal, prog and the avant-garde noise rock bands to come. Fripp had already shown his true genius at this stage but on LARKS’ TONGUES IN ASPIC he clearly showed that there were no limits in its sheer magnanimous nature. Jelly or lavender? I still don’t know. Knowing Fripp and his KC project, it will remain an eternal mystery just like how this album came to be. Maybe the LARKS know.

QUEEN Live At The Rainbow '74

Live album · 2014 · Proto-Metal
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Warthur
Everyone knows that Queen were a fine live act... but god daaaaamn, were they amazing in their early years! Live at the Rainbow '74 captures not one but two complete shows (some truncated editions exist - ignore them), the first from the Queen II tour and the second from the Sheer Heart Attack tour.

As a London-based group, the Rainbow was something of a home turf for Queen, and the rapturous response they receive from the crowd is rewarded with a fine performance each night. I would actually give the Queen II set the edge - not only does it showcase just how much excellent material there is on the first two Queen albums, but it also seems a bit tighter. By the Sheer Heart Attack set they are already adapting to a different musical direction, and the somewhat longer set begins to flag.

Evidently, they were struggling to find a balance between keeping the set at a reasonable length and including everything they wanted to throw in there, a problem which would only become more acute as their parade of hits grew longer. The Night At the Opera setlist, as captured on the A Night At the Odeon live album, would be trimmed back appropriately; if you picked up that live set too then between that and this you'd have more or less the perfect sampling of live Queen from their early almost-prog/not-quite-metal days.

WISHBONE ASH Wishbone Ash

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Once upon a time before the twin guitar effects of bands such as Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy made the practice common place, a humble blues rock band named WISHBONE ASH gestated the technique in the nascent proto-prog days of the early 70s and in the process became one of the most successful bands in all of the 70s UK and has only become more so worldwide as time goes by. Despite a rather bizarre moniker, this band that was blues rock based found a way to incorporate a nice mix of blues, jazz, progressive rock and psychedelic improvisation into their sound without anything sounding forced.

This Torquay (city) band from England copped the perfect blues rock attitude in 1970 with the eponymously titled debut that took a clue from the American scene a la The Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter and The Yardbirds and created a bona fide pillar of transitional glory between the blues rock oriented 60s and the more progressive rock 70s. Formed as the quartet of Andy Powell (lead guitar, vocals), Ted Turner (lead guitar, vocals), Martine Turner (bass, vocals) and Steve Upton (drums), this band found success opening for Deep Purple in early 1970 when Andy Powell dared to jam with Ritchie Blackmore whom he impressed and scored a record contract from the get go.

While many worship the altar of the more sophisticated “Argus,” i have to admit i much more admire this extremely adventurous debut which finds six tracks that are blues rock based taking extreme liberties. While each is imbued with the status quo blues rock elements of bluesy developments, beautifully constructed melodies and typical 60s zeitgeist constructs, i have to admire the band’s ability to transcend into the next level of sophistication without eschewing the paradigms of the era. Basically this album takes a fairly typical blues rock style that was common in the era and ramps up the energy until the final climaxes of the closing lengthy “Phoenix” takes the listener on a voyage of blues rock / jazz / progressive possibilities of the given era.

While steeped in the blues rock of the era, WISHBONE ASH deviated from the pack by creating a dual harmonic approach with two guitars creating a tapestry of melody instead of merely one guitarist picking up the slack. The results were quite successful and became a staple in much of 80s metal music with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest becoming the most successful successors of the technique. With a firm grasp of boogie rock with more than a touch of radio friendly riffage, WISHBONE ASH skirted the fine line between commercially acceptable and progressively challenging. While the tracks are rooted in in a graspable blues rock easy to grasp sensibility, they equally challenge the listener with lengthy jamming instrumental prowess as well as unwarranted sophistication unexpected from typical commercial bands of the era.

WISHBONE ASH eschewed a predictable formula, yet every track is easily accessible and easy to get one’s hooks within its essence yet still the tracks take you to places unexpected and even now several decades later, this still sounds interesting and innovative without any sense of where things will lead. The dual twin guitar attack of Andy Powell and Ted Turner provide the main impotence of this then-fresh approach to blues rock but it was done so extraordinarily well that i find this debut album extraordinary exciting even several decades after its release. While not as complex as other blues rock bands like Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, WISHBONE ASH took a different route and one that worked quite well. Think of this band as the Grateful Dead that didn’t require drugs to appreciate!

This album is roughly broken up into two parts. The tracks are for the most part vocally based blues rock track but there are equal amounts of instrumental jamming sessions. Perhaps the most diverse is in “Handy” that not only provides a lengthy guitar jamming session but also displays a major drumming session that doesn’t sound too show-offy for one’s sensibilities. I dunno why i luv this one so much but it definitely registers high on my blues rock with prog touches. A major accomplishment for WISHBONE ASH at an early stage and although they would find success all through the 70s, this one remains my absolute favorite of their entire discography. Cheers, mates!

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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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