HARDROCKSAMPLER (1968-75) was invented by Julian Cope for the purposes of this article.
|1.||Aynsley Dunbar (1967)||Warning (3.18)|
|2.||Jake Holmes (1967)||Dazed & Confused (3.51)|
|3.||Up (1968)||Together (4.23)|
|4.||Flowers (1969)||How Many More Times? (7.00)|
|5.||Litter (1969)||Blue Ice (3.10)|
|6.||Helpful Soul (1969)||Peace For Fools (10.33)|
|7.||The Move (1970)||Don’t Make My Baby Blue (6.04)|
|8.||David Bowie (1970)||She Shook Me Cold (4.17)|
|9.||Love (1970)||Love is More than Words (11.22)|
|10.||Bloodrock (1970)||D.O.A. (8.29)|
|11.||Sir Lord Baltimore (1971)||Caesar ’71 (5.22)|
|12.||Hairy Chapter (1971)||Only an Officer’s Daughter (7.57)|
|13.||Speed, Glue & Shinki (1971)||Sniffin’ and Snortin’ (2.38)|
|14.||Budgie (1971)||Crash Course in Brain Surgery (2.39)|
|15.||UFO (1971)||Timothy (3.32)|
|16.||The Mops (1971)||Town Where I was Born (9.01)|
|17.||Bang (1972)||Future Shock (4.40)|
|18.||Tiger B. Smith (1972)||These Days (5.58)|
|19.||The Troggs (1972)||Feels Like a Woman (3.32)|
|20.||Thin Lizzy (1973)||The Rocker (2.41)|
|21.||Granicus (1973)||You’re In America (4.08)|
|22.||Kiss (1974)||Parasite (3.04)|
|23.||Mott (1975)||The Great White Wail (5.07)|
Note 2: As Unsung is mainly read by Sonic Navigators of the first order, on HARDROCKSAMPLER, I’ve included no Sabs, no Zep, no MC5, no Grand Funk, no Blue Cheer, no Pentagram, no Blue Oyster Cult nor anything else that might have already been discussed here in detail. Instead, I’ve tried to include a few class obscurities that many will have heard about but not actually heard, plus some heavy stuff that mighta been overlooked because the artists in question were better known for other styles of music.
It’s the Devil’s music…
In 1970, Peter Green’s ‘The Green Manalishi’ opened a door into the Underworld. Tragically, the door slammed shut on the artist himself, leaving Green stranded downstairs.
While in Armenia, I purchased this book of Black Sabbath lyrics translated into Arabic. The ‘obi’ strip on the cover of HARDROCKSAMPLER is reproduced from this book. They are Tony Iommi’s lyrics from ‘After Forever’: “Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope? Do you think he’s a fool?”
Jimmy Page. Obviously, it’s only the really bad guys who wear this headgear.
The dude on the back of the first Bang LP is way scary.
Pre-9/11, this was probably the most disturbing concept an American rock artist could muster up.
Where Did Hard Rock Go, Daddy?
Well, kids, like a Friday night takka dahl spillage, it had got fucking everywhere by the mid-70s. Like drunks on a weekend over-spending spree down the local Indian, everybody’s eyes were too big for their bellies and had ordered far too much. The authorities were in a quandary. So, in an effort to get shut of the stuff, they sold off vats of raw Hard Rock to Mickie Most, who used it to prop up his otherwise strictly bubblegum RAK releases (Suzie Quatro, Mud, Arrows); they off-loaded another coupla hundred containers to Chinnichap, who used it to turbo-charge the Sweet (whose previous RCA 45s ‘Poppa Joe’, ‘Co Co’ and ‘Funny Funny’ were sub-Archies at best), and they cynically sent much of it abroad (without printed instruction leaflets), where it was used to fuel the careers of such walking abortions as Germany’s Birth Control, Denmark’s Walkers and Japan’s Pyg. The rest they sent to Seattle, where it festered behind security fences throughout the ‘80s before bursting out and contaminating youngsters playing near it, thereby accidentally starting the Grunge Scene. And the rest, as they say, is history. By the mid-90s, the Sabbath revival was back via stoners such as Sleep and St. Vitus, people who clearly needed to make such din even if it meant cutting metalwork classes. And, just as the doom band Sunn0))) have named their publishing company Sabbath ReHash, those playing hard rock nowadays are confident enough to accept that there’s much to be gained simply by re-arranging the pieces of the original puzzle. And it’s becoming increasingly clear to many in the music business that, although Hard Rock reached its first peak of popularity between 1970-1975, the genre is emotionally and physically fulfilling in so many ways that new waves and newer waves down the years have brought forth genuinely new musical revelations and genuinely new stars of each period. Hell, the Finnish band Circle even run their own ‘Stoner Rock’ project Pharoah Overlord, so they can discharge at regular intervals a few of the heavy riffs that otherwise coagulate unused in their melted plastic brains. If you’ll go along with my assertion that wanking is essential for clearing the custard, then you’re probably the type who’ll allow me to extend the metaphor and agree that the conducting of a good riffothon (replete with clichés) can be just as necessary to a musician for spunking out the excess psychic build-up. In July 1999CE, after drowning in the eight years of field research necessary to complete my tome THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN, I was so driven to interface with the musically stupefying that I established my own so-called stuporgroup – the power trio Brain Donor – with two members of English drone band Spiritualized. It was to be a power trio in the traditional sense, and had been inspired specifically by the first two Blue Cheer LPs, anything by Japan’s High Rise, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Van Halen LPs, Sir Lord Baltimore’s 1970 debut KINGDOM COME and Black Sabbath’s 1975 album SABOTAGE. These sounds were our blueprint and we tried not to veer outside this self-imposed field-system. Of course, anything featuring my hefty involvement soon brought along a heavy dose of the MC5-influenced Detroit sound to the Brain Donor party, but this was always held in a counter-balance by the Van Halen obsessions of guitarist Doggen. And if that sounds inter-changeable, well, that’s because it is. Fashions may come and fashions may go, but ‘Jerusalem’ by Sleep goes on forever. And if Islam in the Middle East and Christianity from America’s Midwest ever get too intrusive, we still have the Gods of Rock to fight them with. They ain’t gotta chance, neither. While they’re far too entrenched in dogma and traditions from Back In The Day, our truth will become greater the bigger the P.A. gets.
This 7” of the MC5’s ‘Kick out the Jams’ is a holy artefact.
Okay, let’s now turn to HARDROCKSAMPLER itself, and I’ll lay some descriptives on y’all. In order to make this compilation even heavier, I decided that we should commence with a twin pronged attack. For the roots of both Led Zeppelin AND Black Sabbath actually lay in that so-called ‘Summer of Love’… 1967! We all know J. Page stole ‘Dazed & Confused’ off of former Tim Hardin and Tim Rose associate Jake Holmes, but it’s included herein to show just how much that greedy bastard nicked, ie: everything! Song, arrangement, even that mind holocaust of a breakdown. But first off, as Black Sabbath’s debut LP is (to most people including me) the Ur-text from which all of Hard Rock’s future bludgeon riffola emanated, then it’s certainly righteous to activate this compilation with one of the tracks that most informed Geezer & Co. in those early days. So what better way to commence than with Aynsley Dunbar’s original 7” version of ‘Warning’?
This 7” of Sir Lord Baltimore’s ‘I Gotta Woman’ is also sacred.
AYNSLEY DUNBAR’S RETALIATION/WARNING (1967)
Even earlier than Blue Cheer’s flaying debut LP VINCEBUS ERUPTUM, this original version of ‘Warning’ is a dark, angst-ridden Doors-informed empty empty pedestrian blues that you could imagine having been released on GNP Crescendo or Cameo Parkway. It’s like Python Lee Jackson’s ‘In a Broken Dream’ on largactyl and bad blotter, a lament from Hades to a girl who’s most likely already forgotten the poor sap’s name. Better still, we finally get the link between the song title and the chorus, as singer Victor Brox howls: “I was warned about you, baby, but my feelings gotta little bit too strong”. Ah, so that’s it. So did Ozzy just mishear these words? Or (and this seems more likely) did he get them wrong initially, get corrected by the band, manager and producer, then perversely follow his own interpretation whatever. I suspect the latter because Ozzy weren’t the Prince of Darkness for nuthin’. Don’t let the Brummie monotones and stumbling gait fool y’all into thinking he weren’t no genius… boy, was he ever! That Ozzy cat just knew he was upping the nihilism factor another 50% when he changed the original words to this supreme outsider statement: “I was born without you baby, but my feelings gotta little bit too strong.” The ‘90s started right here.
JAKE HOLMES/DAZED & CONFUSED (1967)
With its seemingly ever-descending-the- spiral staircase riff and sleepwalking vocal, Jake Holmes’ original recording of this song took the listener right down into the Underworld… right down to the source of the Moment. And what a moment! Man, you can hear all three musicians padding around on Hell’s cold granite floor, each inchoate but brilliant musical stumble registering ten flights above them on the magnetic tape machine of the scientific engineer, each intuitive move caught by technology and imprinted as future codes for all of us rebels against Creation. Working around the anchored descending bass of Rick Randle, but without a drummer, Holmes and guitarist Ted Irwin extracted all of their percussion FX from the soundboards of their hollowbody guitars; their incredible dynamic range achieved through long nights of experimentation at gigs, where they often played three sets each evening. Unfortunately for Jake Holmes, on August 25th 1967, his trio played support to the Yardbirds at New York’s Village Theatre. Thereafter, the Yardbirds incorporated Holmes’ song into their set and Jimmy Page released it credited to himself on Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut. Even the guitar tapping and ricochets on Holmes’ version had been developed and expanded to achieve maximum effect by the none-more-thorough Mr. Page. Unfortunately for Holmes, when he contacted Page, he received no reply. Holmes never took legal action.
THE UP/TOGETHER (1968)
At times even up there with late-60s hi-energy white soul bands such as Leslie West’s The Vagrants, the Rationals and the MC5, it’s unfortunate that the Up will always exist in the shadow of their great mentor John Sinclair, to remain the Jimmy Osmonds of their scene, a Translove Energies fixture as the even-littler brother band of the MC5 and the Stooges. Still, this 1968 anthem is right up there with the energy of live Grand Funk Railroad, but far more inventive. Over a formidably danceable 6/4 hurricane of rhythm, the collective Up members unleash a veritable storm of glorious soul harmonies, each time either changing key upwards or breaking down into a heart-stopping 3/4 that catastrophies your entirely Motown’d butt. Every great ‘Land of a Thousand Mony Monys’ soul workout pails in comparison to this one song.
THE FLOWERS /HOW MANY MORE TIMES? (1969)
Not only is this pre-Flower Travellin’ Band performance a curiosity and rarity because it features a woman, singer Lemi Aso, in the almost-exclusively Men Only setting of Hard Rock, but it’s also a Led Zeppelin cover as performed by Big Brother wannabes1, thereby uniting the previously only intuitive link between the young Robert Plant and his hard-drinking Mama Muse, Ms. J. Joplin herself. Better still, the six-piece Flowers were all veteran Japanese musicians arduously auditioned by one of rock’n’roll’s true freaks, the Flowers’ co-singer and mentor, Yuya Utchida, placing this performance more on the sustained hi-energy level of an Ike Turner show band than mere rock’n’roll; thereby so kicking Big Brother’s dick into the dust that comparisons are laughable, simultaneously shoving Zeppelin’s song into ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ territory. ‘How Many More Times?’ commences like the Misunderstood at their height, as lap steel guitarist Katsuhiko Kobayashi replicates the stellar tones of boy genius Glenn Ross Campbell, then takes you even higher. I shit you not; this song is orgasmic from start to end. Indeed, the musicians created such a level of controlled musical hysteria for the song’s backing track that the two singers appear to have, by song’s end, become temporarily unhinged, truly abandoned. The call-and-answer finale heats up to such emotional levels of near heart attack that the band split about a week afterwards.
THE LITTER/BLUE ICE (1969)
For me, the Litter’s ‘Blue Ice’ and the MC5’s ‘Looking At You’ are the two greatest ever bridges between Garage Rock and Hard Rock, hi-energy songs that defined the latter genre for such future bands as Sammy Hagar’s Montrose, but which still had their roots deep in the sixties. It’s hard to explain just how ‘back in the day’ the sixties seemed to me in the very early ‘70s. But, in those days I didn’t want none of it! I wanted only now! No Rolling Stones, no Beatles, even Led Zeppelin’s non-gatefold debut looked old by 1972 (none of that ‘laminated in Clarifoil by Garrod & Lofthouse shite).Until summer ’72, that is, when my mate Max Eacock and I were in Devon running his Uncle Chris’s café in Labrador Bay. One day, we stumbled upon a Torquay record shop selling old ‘new stock’ for 25p each, and we both scored a bunch of 1969 stuff released on the Probe label purely because of the price, both nabbing copies of Probe 1004 (EMERGE by the Litter), whilst I also grabbed Probe 1006 (SAINT STEPHEN by Saint Stephen) and Probe 1010 (ZEPHYR). While the latter LP was unlistenable blues shit with a wailing Janis-on-helium chick singer (but featuring future Deep Purple guitarist Tommy Bolin), side two of the Saint Stephen LP has evocative, dark-as-fuck genius. However, nothing prepared me for the rush and roar of the Litter, and that record still exhilarates me almost 36 years later. Sounds crap to admit, but mostly it’s not the songs but the musicianship that stands out. Like the MC5, the Litter displayed more sonic control that almost any of their peers, while Jim Kane’s bass lines are something I still rip off regularly. As for ‘Blue Ice’, even now it’s so powerful I laugh when I hear it, especially the tearing and slightly atonal lead guitar and the rising rhythm guitar chords that still fuck my head big stylee.
HELPFUL SOUL /PEACE FOR FOOLS (1969)
Man, this nihilistic charabanc ride into the Heart of Darkness makes me wish the Doors’ ‘Five to One’ had been twelve minutes in duration. Empty and monotonous and linear as the FUNHOUSE-period Stooges or DELAY-period Can, the ten-minutes-plus of ‘Peace for Fools’ is trudgefunk, a Krautrock-esque one-chord meditation somewhat like the Chambers Brothers playing the latter six minutes of the Rolling Stones ur-Kraut classic ‘Goin’ Home’. Imagine KimFowley producing 16-year-olds with an early Funkadelic fixation, only this is a full year before ‘Free Your Mind & Your Ass Will Follow’, and exhibits that same embedded-in-the-earth groove located throughout G. Clinton’s previous year’s debut Funkadelic album. Highly original despite nicking the actual bass line from ‘In-A-Gadda’ towards the end, ‘Peace for Fools’ is genuinely tormented, the young singer clearly genuinely disturbed by the dystopian future he’s witnessing (or being peddled by the underground). Still, it makes for compelling listening and is, in time, surely destined to become a nihilistic classic.
THE MOVE/DON’T MAKE MY BABY BLUE (1970)
Figuring that you already knew the Move’s primo low-geared chart topper ‘Brontosaurus’, I thought y’all might appreciate hearing what Roy Wood could do to a lovely Cynthia Weill/Barry Mann Brill Building pop song like ‘Don’t Make My Baby Blue’, originally a 1965 hit for the Shadows! Well, we all know what a cunt for a riff Roy Wood was, but it don’t get more convoluted and Expressionist than this lickle babby, as our hero weds the obsessive retard blues of the Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ to Blue Cheer’s insanely over-played ‘Feathers From Your Tree’, then directs drummer Bev Bevan to play as though – with each drum fill – he’s dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s of every single word Wood is singing. Dial 999, there’s a song in there! Hell knows what the songwriters thought of the end result, though by the time Roy’d finished, Mann & Weill might not even have noticed that it was theirs. It’s like Posh and Beckham bought a semi-detached council house and added ballrooms, an entrance staircase, jacuzzis, even turrets. Yup, that tasteful. But, boy, ain’t it exhilarating!
DAVID BOWIE /SHE SHOOK ME COLD (1970)
On my all time favourite live album, Tom Lehrer’s 1958 masterpiece AN EVENING WASTED WITH TOM LEHRER, he investigates the folk song as a genre and comes to the valid conclusion that professional songwriters woulda done a much better job. Well kiddies, cop a load of this behemoth and see what a real songwriter does to a modern electric folk song like ‘Iron Man’! For, whatever you think about the Thin White Streak of Piss, like Roy Wood before him, Bowie sure knew how to don the mantle of entire musical genres and come up smelling just like the rest of the competition. Tony Visconti’s bass carries the track from start to conclusion, Mick Ronson’s guitar cuts right across the structure like a thoughtless eBayer wrapping a matchbox-sized parcel with 2” wide double-sided tape, and the drumfills sound more like throwing bibles at a sofa than even those of Mein Hairy Bill Ward! The arrangement is so tight and seamless that, despite arriving late, travelling market stall owner Bowie gets all of his wares set out, sold, cleaned up and packed away in just over four minutes; hell, Sabbath woulda still been tolling the bells!
LOVE /LOVE IS MORE THAN WORDS (OR BETTER LATE THAN NEVER) (1970)
Out in the cold and off Elektra Records, the 1970 Arthurly was cursing having ever straightened his frizz and on a mish to locate his inner Voodoo Chile. Legend has it that that when plans for the proposed supergroup featuring himself, S. Winwood and J. Hendrix collapsed on account of the latter’s death, Arthur’s new Love LP OUT HERE turned into a double when he invited stun guitarist Gary Rowles to guest on one track, but turned the whole schmeer over to Rowles and just let the druid rip it up across most of side three. Which Rowles did baaad stylee! Only the truly confident artist allows another to traipse around their hallowed grooves, but Arthur was always in the top 3% and knew it. And you know what? However intense this mind-fogger becomes, Arthur’s blessed A-G chords are always chiming away underneath, so you can never truly forget yooz in the presence of Mr. Forever Changes.
Hard to believe now, but this epic funeral dirge about an edge-of-death plane crash victim reached #36 in the US singles charts! Wedding dreary Sabbath atonalities to Atomic Rooster organ daubs, this has gotta be the most ham-fisted epic this side of Grand Funk Railroad’s second (and best) studio LP GRAND FUNK, which makes sense because it was recorded by their producer Terry Knight and engineer Ken Hamann. Eerie and apocalyptic as Salem’s 12-minute ‘Witch Burning’ or the Black Sabbath title track, when singer Jim Rutledge left, the mood of the song weirded out new singer Warren Ham so bad he refused to sing it on account of his being a Christian. No comment, you cunt.
SIR LORD BALTIMORE/CAESAR ’71 (1971)
Easily the best track from Sir Lord Baltimore’s otherwise disastrous self-titled second LP, ‘Caesar ‘71’ is a true Cecil B. DeMille soundtrack of hard rock, an archly declaimed tale of early history that only as shameless a performer as the great genius John Garner coulda dreamed of getting away with. Wouldst that all the rest of the album’s tracks were approaching even halfway to this thrill spill. Unfortunately, it’s a void to avoid. ‘Woman Tamer’ is a great name for a lame duck (would be good by anyone else, but we’re allowed higher expectations as this be The Lord fer Cryingoutloud!), the rest are a pitiful perfunctory shadow of the songs that disgraced KINGDOM COME’s side two, plus the mighty nothing-going-on abortion that is ‘Man From Manhattan’. New producer John Linde’s the culprit, I’ll wager. First, he co-wrote the songs and denuded them of the obsessively overdubbed guitar clusters that the brilliant Louis Dambra had lovingly daubed in his inimitably Catholical manner (nowadays he’s a priest, no shit). But worst of all Linde straitjacketed the Mighty Garn and made him dump the first LP’s Subnormal Teenage Sex Addict w/Tourette’s vocal style, reducing the whole performance to merely orgasmic. If the Garn’s vocals on KINGDOM COME were Joe Strummer circa the first Clash album, then the vocals on this second record are the GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE Joe, ie: just a man brung way down by Sandy Pearlman. Like they gave Garner downers and a minder. So it’s lucky for all of us that at least one song sprung up whose exaggerated subject matter and the ostentatious riffing, nay, the whole psyche of the song demanded a temporary Resurrection of Priapus.
HAIRY CHAPTER/ONLY AN OFFICER’S DAUGHTER (1971)
Ah, the immaculately-named Hairy Chapter were a quartet of German heavy rockers that really captured the yearning, burning of the male psyche with this near eight-minute display of early Alice Cooper-style post-Green Manalishi dark riffola. ‘Gimme your body, gimme your mind’, beseeches singer Harry Unte to his girl, desperate to ‘hold your luscious breasts in my hands’ as the darkness of the twin guitars takes him down and down into Hell. ‘I wanna ball you all night long’, the poor sap mewls as on and on drive those dark axes. If you need to know more about these purveyors of anguish, the record from which this track was lifted, CAN’T GET THROUGH, was my Album of the Month #3 way back in August 2002CE.
SPEED, GLUE & SHINKI/SNIFFIN’ & SNORTIN’ (1971)
The power trio with the best name ever played a music that ranged from electronic synthesizer holocaust to sub-sub-Kiss three years early. That they erred on the side of the latter is to our advantage, because Filippino singer/drummer Joey Smith is a vocalizing genius. Rather than repeat myself, I’m gonna reproduce what I wrote about the song in JAPROCKSAMPLER: “Coming on like Iggy singing over Roky Erikson’s pre-13th Floor Elevators band the Spades, Joey’s ‘Sniffin’ & Snortin’’ is garage rock’s finest hour both musically and lyrically. Joey hips us to his quest over a tumultuous Texan riff, explaining how he’s drinking wine and loading up his syringe on his way ‘to a Sunday jam’: “Well, I’ll shoot it, I’ll shoot it nice and clean, by the time I pull it out of my veins I’m gonna feel so strange.” No shit, Sherlock! Next thing, some street scruff accosts Brother Joey with an even badder proposition. The scruff reaches into his pocket, takes out a wrap and shakes it in the singer’s face: “Let’s snort it out of my hand, it’ll make you feel like you’ve never been alive before”. Shrill as a motherfucker, guitarist Shinki Chen kicks in an angular piercing solo and the band takes off like a Viet vet in a ’69 Dodge Challenger. Joey’s upside down hanging from the sky, determined to make this his everyday lifestyle: “Well, I know for sure that I’d never come back home again, and we started sniffin’ and snortin’ until we turned into skin and bones, yeah, we been snortin’ and sniffin’ our brains away.” Best cocaine lyrics ever… shoulda won Joey a half a Grammy!
BUDGIE/CRASH COURSE IN BRAIN SURGERY (1971)
Although probably better known by now as a 1987 Metallica cover version, Budgie’s 7” original was the kind of two-minutes-and-thirty-seconds that my generation coulda charted with a little more help from the record company. Unfortunately, MCA Records was just a middle-of-the-road Tony Christie institution back then, so the song went nowhere. Still, Budgie’s Noel Redding-alike singer/bass player Burke Shelley had an amazingly operatic voice for such a half-pint, journalists of the time often drawing comparisons with fellow Cardiff singer Burly Chassis. As you can hear on this song, taken from their self-titled debut LP, Shelley’s poetic allusions were damn fine, too, as were other song titles such as ‘Nude Disintegrating Parachute Woman’, ‘The Rape of the Lock’ (not the Alexander Pope masterpiece, this one’s about authority types threatening Burke with a haircut!) and the coulda-been-shoulda-been-a-hit ‘Homicidal Suicidal’.
Clad in stunning Krautrock sleeves by Gunter Blum because they were signed to Germany’s Nova label, the first three UFO albums (UFO1, UFO2, UFO LIVE and the compilation SPACE METAL) are a goldmine of wondrous teenage bare-bones riffery. The bass propels every track like the Stooges’ Dave Alexander or Joy Div’s Peter Hook, while the rest sorta just fits around it. Yup, pre-Michael Schenker UFO mined a skinny space rock seam that was truly Into The Void. Taken from their punky debut LP, the flailing drums and pumping two-note bass of ‘Timothy’ is probably the best way in for the doubters. Phil the Mogg intones the tale of the mysterious Timothy, ably illustrated by Mick Bolton’s economical-to-the-point-of-austerity guitar, and you just gots to love ‘em. Then again, the sludgy slowed-down-to-a-crawl wah-fest of ‘Treacle People’ approaches the Stooges’ dark ballad ‘Anne’, so it too might also smoke your pole. I know these guys were bluesy, but it was always such a motorik, linear and unresolved blues. C’mon!
THE MOPS/TOWN WHERE I WAS BORN (1971)
In which four Japanese former pop stars take their Animals fixation to its peak, excavating Eric & Co.’s live in ’68 LP EVERY ONE OF US, and uncovering then re-working it into nine minutes of singular brilliance. I mean, this is pure Detroit Rock at its finest, exhilarating, hard as nails, marvellously arranged and replete with umpteen guitar breaks. Shee-it, this woulda slipped seamlessly on to any of the early Grand Funk LPs. Come to think of it, it’s too good… not leaden enough if anything. Of course, the problem with these ex-Group Sounds bands was their baggage. This classic is taken from their 1971 album IJANIYKA, which unfortunately features only two other full-on metallers in the same style… the rest of the album is stocked up with mush ballads, dodgy covers, even a comedy number! Breaks yer heart.
BANG/FUTURE SHOCK (1971)
Next up, segueing seamlessly and disgracefully comes the post-‘Iron Man’ of Bang’s epic and stupefying 1971 ditty ‘Future Shock’, a trio whose producer Michael Sunday insisted that their bass player Frank Ferrara took over as lead singer from guitarist Frank Gilken because he looked more the part. What a great move… the wailing, the moaning, all summed up here on ‘Future Shock’; a song driven at a crawl so tractor-driver slow that you can hear the rest of the songs on this compilation screaming: “Fucking pull over and let us pass, you bastard, we’ve got homes to go to as well!”
TIGER B. SMITH/THESE DAYS (1972)
Unfortunately, these poor suckers have also got to get past Tiger B. Smith. Unlucky, for these German hardrockers were led by Holger Schmidt, a platform-booted hairy with an only child Me Me Me complex that anticipated Gene Simmons’ solipsistic self-love by two years at least. Moreover, the near-six-minutes of ‘These Days’ is yet another ‘Iron Man’ wannabe with riffery so endlessly sludgy and slack that it makes the stentorian wall-eyed bark of the Glitter Band’s ‘Angel Face’ sound folky in comparison.
THE TROGGS/FEELS LIKE A WOMAN (1972)
By 1972, the Troggs were so dumped on that even a single specially written and produced for them by Marc Bolan would’na scored Top 75. They still had it occasionally, though, as evidenced albeit hidden away on the b-side of an obscure non-hit. This late November ’72 release united Yes’ ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ riff with King Crimson’s ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ and played it so hard it was 1969 all over again. “I never thought you was groovy (Dunt Der-der) I looked at mew like a child”, leers Reginald. Had he meant to sing ‘looked at you’ but mistakenly sung ‘me’ and had to mutate the word? Possibly, but doubtful. I think that (him being Reg) he really wrote the lyric down as ‘mew’.
THIN LIZZY/THE ROCKER (1973)
When I bought this 7” at the end of ’73, I preferred it to the extended LP version because the guitar solo was edited down to a coupla bars of phase FX, thus rendered all the more dizzying by being so brief. It was the last thing the Lizzy recorded with original guitarist Eric Bell, and the only thing I ever bought by them. But ‘The Rocker’ features such a total full-on vocal performance by Phil Lynott that I still shake my head in disbelief every time it comes on. Tell you what, though, those old sixties blue Decca labels didn’t half look archaic back in 1973.
GRANICUS/YOU’RE IN AMERICA (1973)
Led by hard rock poet Woody Leffel, weird to think this Cleveland quintet wuz only a year ahead of such Cleveland proto-punktion as the Electric Eels and Rocket From the Tombs. Leffel’s screeching for the Red Man on this exhilarating and ever-accelerating rocket ride, and promises to ‘drop my load’ over the whole You Ess of Ay. I’d guess that any male artist’s musing on the world’s injustices will always get the old spunk going, but a pretty full sac this boy musta had. Taken from their sole self-titled LP, ‘You’re in America’ opened what was a pretty damn good record, full of Woody’s visions and righteous anger and desire to leave the small-town attitudes of Cleveland behind. Unfortunately, there was in too many of the songs something missing, something inconsistent, and something weak in the arrangements. Sadly, they split up soon after and Woody is said to have remained in Cleveland. Pah…
Okay, let’s ease off the cruise control for a while and get her up into top gear with ‘Parasite’ from Kiss’ almost-classic second LP HOTTER THAN HELL. While early Kiss was far too often far too informed by the self-satisfied mid-pace Biba boogie of the New Yawn Dolls, at least the Starchild, the Demon & the Wussy could occasionally rely on Ace ‘Yes, I Have Been Known To Drive at 85mph Up The Long Island Expressway In The Wrong Direction, What Of It?’ Frehley to joyride some ominous and ruinous discord right up their Tin Pan Alley, as evidenced by the staccato robometal of ‘Parasite’, which is everything and more. Back in those early days, Ace knew his place and only the Gene had the spleen to deliver such a mutant oeuvre, but stand by for that ak-ak gun guitar solo, and do try to catch them playing this song in Black & White back in ’75 (bound to be somewhere on youtube.com). What with the synchronized boogie at the end, it’s essential.
MOTT/GREAT WHITE WAIL (1975)
When Mott the Hoople carelessly lost both singer Ian Hunter AND new guitarist Mick Ronson at the end of 1974, it’s safe to say no-one thought they’d stay together, let alone make a decent album. However, as bassist Overend Watts had been riff collecting since day one and was also in possession of a formidable library of obscure LPs, he took it upon himself to write a whole album of heavy post-Glam and almost succeeded. Indeed, DRIVE ON was an almost totally listenable experience due to new singer Nigel Benjamin’s incredible vocal range and ex-Hackensack guitarist Ray Major’s dedication to the trip. The five-minutes-plus of ‘The Great White Wail’ is one superb and overdriven motherfucker somewhat along the lines of what Silverhead woulda conjured up if they’d had a proper songwriter. Moreover, there’s a middle-8 worthy of the Yardbirds, and the juggernaut production is so heavy that it’s heevy. Git down!
American rock writer The Seth Man is one thorough Hard Rock motherfucker. Being Jewish, he sports a black t-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Detroit’ in Hebrew.
Okay, that’s me for another month and, yeah, I know I’ve had to exclude hundreds of obvious Hard Rock standards AND I don’t like Armageddon, Clear Blue Sky, War Pig and half of the other so-called classics that so many Old Timer freaks embrace. Why? Because, as I said in the introduction, much of the music sounds suspiciously like the ‘heavy’ element was added afterwards and was purely a by-product of the then-current musical fashions. Behind the lovely and mysterious ‘heavy’ artwork and overdriven opening coupla full-on numbers on LPs by revered bands such as Monument and Killing Floor, most of these so-called lost classics contain any number of clunkers (a flute-driven ballad, an overly bluesy brass-driven growler, a guitar or piano piece included to mollify the university drop-out guitarist’s university lecturer parents). All of these dubious contents ensured (and with some justification) that Melody Maker, Disc and NME didn’t pick up on it Back In The Day. And another fucking thing, here in 008 we’re free of all those turgid Cream influences AND we’ve all been filtered through Punk and Grunge and grown intolerant of half-assed 30-minute LPs like Bang and Dust that outwardly aped Sabbath, but still included overly large portions of acoustodreck that appealed to no one’s kid sister. Listen to the Vincent Black Shadow debut LP from a coupla years back and tell me it doesn’t kick all those old guys’ dicks into the dirt. And only a turd on a bum ride, a dyed-in-the-wool collect-o-holic could argue that Sleep’s JERUSALEM hadn’t eclipsed most of 1971 by raising Hard Rock to the level of High Ritual. Luckily for all of us, Hard Rock is such a poetically essential part of Western Culture that it’s just gonna keep going away and coming back, coming and going as part of culture’s ebb and flow. By 2053, we’ll probably have witnessed another three Hard Rock revivals at least. Why? Because of the decibels, Motherfuckers, those thousands of Kilowatts that Saint Thomas Edison bequeathed to us Westerners. For fifty years they’ve shaped, re-arranged and enslaved our molecules just like old Mohammed’s Koran has enslaved the Middle East. Those power chords are life and death to us - we neeeed them to stay sane, Motherfuckers!!!
- For their sole 1969 LP CHALLENGE, the Flowers recorded versions of Big Brother’s ‘Combination of the Two’ and ‘Piece of My Heart’, along with Big Brother’s own (rather simplified) arrangement of Moondog’s memorable drone lament ‘All is Loneliness’.