Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal

13
Dec
08

Jeff Beck “Truth”

This is the first Jeff Beck Group album, put out in 1968, and it starts off really well with a very weird version of the familiar Yardbirds song, “Shapes of Things.” It sounds like the tape is being sped up and slowed down–it’s really kind of playful and heavy at the same time. Jeff Beck’s liner notes say, about the song, “appropriate background music if you have the Vicar over for tea.” The next song, “Let Me Love You”– I will argue without even listening to anything else recorded by Jeff Beck in 40 years– is the best thing ever recorded by Jeff Beck. It’s got a nice bass part– maybe that’s why I like it– played by, apparently, Ron Wood—that sounds like a sleazy guy with a tiny moustache crawling through the slime and smoke of all the late night taverns of hell. But there are already warning signs of wanky guitar ahead. The singer sounds suspiciously like Rod Stewart– oh, it is! Four songs through side one, and it’s a great party record– I’ve already ripped the tabs off of three Stroh’s. And then… “Ol’ Man River”?

I guess this is back when rock stars thought they were gods, and they were, essentially. (They still THINK they’re gods.) They could do no wrong. So if they want to do a pretentious, uncompelling version of “Ol’ Man River” on their record, we just have to say it’s cool. But it just killed the party, that’s for sure. Turn the record over and it gets WORSE. A ridiculous acoustic version of “Greensleeves” starts off side two, and even though it’s only 1:47, the girls have left the party, went off with the dangerous Led Zeppelin guys. No one left but us blues aficionados and guitar technicians, so there’s nothing left to do but practice and practice, make that guitar sing. It sounds like a snake charmer, a cello, a violin… but then heavy metal strikes back momentarily. But the girls are still gone, and now there’s an EIGHT minute blues song with a fake “live” treatment that flashes forward 40 years to these guys playing dinner theater, bald, huge stomachs, and still, tragically, either puffy sleeves or no sleeves.

I’m being too hard on this record, maybe– there’s a really weird piano solo on this long blues number, played by Nicky Hopkins. But the guitar– I’m sorry we have the benefit and misfortune of 40 years of bad, excessive, uninspired, derivative guitar solos since this record was recorded. Maybe back then this sounded amazing– but I just don’t think so. The last song just embarrassed me for even owning a guitar and makes me want to cut my hair and do volunteer work or something.

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05
Apr
08

AC/DC “For Those About To Rock We Salute You”

Somehow I got this far in life without ever dropping a needle on an AC/DC record. I mean, I’ve dropped other things on them… no, I’m just kidding. In fact, I had no idea they were from Australia– I think I thought they were from Scotland or something. I want to officially apologize to the band, and to the residents of both countries. All I really knew about AC/DC is that there was a screechy singer who died, and a guy who played a Gibson SG and wore shorts all the time.

I’m finding some of this record way too hi-octane in a really annoying way, and I can’t listen to it– but other songs, the less noisy ones have a nice quality, a little space, maybe a good sound. I guess I’m liking songs that remind me more of good Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, essentially the more blues oriented side of heavy metal. Whenever things get too much sounding like Van Halen I have to take it off.

I guess this record came out (1981) after that singer died and was replaced by an even screechier guy. In that I pretty much never have listened to music with a screechy singer, it’s kind of fascinating, like having a really unlikely dinner guest over at your place. I’m pretty much enjoying it, I have to admit. I don’t have the energy to try to make out many of the lyrics, but once in a while I hear a line I really like, and I’m reminded of the compelling nature of the A,B,A,B rhyme scheme. Young kids should remember not to get away from that– it’s cool to rhyme, and not just for rappers. One songs starts out with “loose lips/sink ships,” and you don’t think for a minute they’re talking about national security. I think that line directly inspired a Spinal Tap song– or maybe it IS in a Spinal Tap song.

I have to say, I do like the overall sound and production of this record. There’s nothing too fancy, and the drums are just really solid sounding, and overall, when they stay away from the dumb choruses and double leads, the whole thing is tolerable, and about one third of it is pleasurable. And for rock music, that’s pretty good!




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