Category Archives: Mammal’s Merry Memories
There seems to be a growing flood of retro-rock albums recently, with new bands doing the old classic, blues and psychedelic rock in a 21st-century style. Now bear in mind that I’m a retro-Mammal, a throwback to about the Miocene Era that began approximately 23 million years ago. I was there in the age of throwing rocks and fighting off sabre-tooths when bands started playing that classic stuff. I not only enjoy lots of the modern retro-music, I love much of its grandparent music too.
Juicy Lucy was a British-American blues rock band that started in 1969. Their album I like the most is Lie Back And Enjoy It, which included this song. If you’re expecting a cover of the Roy Orbison “Pretty Woman”, this ain’t it.
Good, it’s still yesterday over there, so I can post this as my Saturday memory. George Thorogood played the type of Southern blues rock that later added flavour to stoner rock and metal. This song wasn’t an initial hit. It made its impact after featuring on MTV and being used in the sound tracks of many movies and TV shows. Now, 32 years later, it still rawks as much as it ever did.
George Thorogood is a baby. I’m 15 days older than him.
Surely every metalhead knows or at least knows of Pink Floyd. This colossal British band dating back the 1960s has been a seminal influence for any number of top musicians, including the likes of Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree and Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon and other projects.
The Floydian influence extends well beyond metal. Modern progressive rock, psychedelic rock and space rock also bow often to Floyd.
Unless you own the 1975 album Wish You Were Here, the chances are that you haven’t heard “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” in its entirety. It’s my favourite Floyd composition. It was included on the original album as a nine-part suite split into two movements, one at the start and the other at the end of the album. “Best Of” collections and compilations usually include a shortened version. Splice the two original movements into one long piece, however, and you have one of the most beautiful prog rock symphonies imaginable.
Indulge yourself for about 26 minutes.
The title track of Broadsword is a Viking song with a difference. It presents the perspective of the poor sods who see the Viking ships approaching. That must have been a slightly unnerving experience.
Jethro Tull mostly played progressive folk rock. This song, however, may appeal to fans of hard rock, prog metal and, er, Vikings.
If you want to know when and where punk metal, hardcore, metalcore, deathcore and grindcore all have their roots, you have to go back to Britain and the birth of the new wave of punk that started in 1976 or thereabouts. Punk developed in its own channel during the 1980s while heavy metal went in a different direction. Punk and metal married at the alter of hardcore at decade later.
The late 1970s was, to me, the worst period in music since the first person hit a log with a stick and chanted something. It was the age of disco and the dawn of the New Romantic era. We had the Bee Gees singing in falsetto and we were about to be bombarded by bands like Wet Wet Wet. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal wasn’t under way yet. Prog rock was beginning to strangle itself in the pursuit of hit parade listings.
In the 1980s I found myself drawn to Maiden and other metal. At the end of the 1970s, though, bands like The Clash made the airwaves bearable. This song has become iconic, an anthem of the punk movement, and it seems to sound better every time I play it.
Whitesnake’s self-titled 1987 album remains one of the best hard rock albums I’ve ever heard, and “Still of the Night” from that album holds up for me as everything hard rock should be – great guitars, melodic interludes and mighty vocals. David Coverdale was an exceptional singer with a soaring range and perfect control.
The audio emphasis was on catchy, thoughtfully composed melody. The visual emphasis back then was on ridiculously big hair. I was in my late 30s by then and didn’t feel any need to grow my hair that long and tease it out to the size of a medium shrub.
By the way, the girl in the video is Tawny Kitaen, an actress who later became Mrs. Coverdale. Their hair was a match made in the most up-market jungle.
I dug down through the vinyl in the Metal State catacombs this morning until I found the album in the round cover. The cover unfolded into six circular sections. Unless you left in its plastic sleeve, it used to roll off the shelf, which was annoying.
The album is Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, an archetypal psychedelic rock classic of the 1960s. The Small Faces recorded it in 1968 and it was one of my three favourite albums that year. The second side, a whole 19 minutes long, is a single story called “Happiness Stan”. The narration between songs was written in the garbled style of English that John Lennon wrote in his books of nonsense.
It’s a bright and sunny Saturday morning, a good day to take the time machine for a spin. We’ll pick up two bands from last century — one prog, one hard rock — and take them back to a different century to meet their inspirations.
First we’ll ride back to 1980 and collect Sky, a classic progressive rock band from the UK. Their big-name stars were John Williams, the classical guitarist who gave pop culture the theme music for the first Star Wars movie; and Kevin Peek, an exceptional rock and jazz guitarist. With Sky we’ll go back to 1833 and hear the first public performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Bach had written it many years previously. Then we’ll return to 1980 to hear Sky’s take on the piece, which they named simply “Toccata”. Got all that?
Now we’ll go forward 15 years to 1995, pick up Ritchie Blackmore and his Rainbow, and journey all the way back to 1875. We’ll be listening to the first performance of Edvard Grieg’s Pier Gynt Suite and, in particular, the movement he called “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. Finally, back to 1995 and Rainbow doing their version, with its named shorted to “Hall of the Mountain King”.
Now really, are you sure you’ve got all that, because I’m lost. In the distance I see thousands of people building the Great Pyramid.