Blog Archives

Seasonal Diversion: The Who – Christmas

It’s still the weekend in some places. I’m still where I was yesterday, in the Metal State vaults where we store ancient vinyl albums. Yesterday I went back to 1970. Today I’ve travelled even farther back, to my #1 album of 1969.

When most people ponder on who their favourite vocalists might be, they don’t usually consider Roger Daltrey of The Who because they hadn’t been born yet when “Pinball Wizard” was released. To us wizened and wise ones, Daltrey was one of the best. The Who was one of the best bands. Mind you, back then there were only about a dozen really superb bands.

The song is about the deaf, dumb and blind kid who somehow became a pinball wizard, and that was without any help from Hogwarts.




Mammal’s Merry Memories: TWO Halos of Flies

Since I am modest, humble and objective, I shall state that Killer, released in 1971, was far and away Alice Cooper’s best album, and a track from that album, “Halo of Flies”, is a gazillion times better than anything else he sang.

In the same long breath, I shall state emphatically that Meliah Rage’s version of “Halo of Flies” towers loftily above any other covers of the song. While remaining remarkably true to the original, it gave the song a power/thrash punch that made it a top-bracket piece of metal for the 21st century.

Cooper was a great-granddaddy of glam rock. He built a controversial and highly successful stage persona. I loved a lot of his earlier music and he deserved all that he achieved. One should never lose sight of the fact, however, that the impact of his music owed a huge amount to the backing — especially those relentless guitars.

Meliah Rage are also veterans. They started about three decades ago. Their “Halo of Flies” was a bonus track on their 2004 album, Barely Human. Like the title of the album on which it originally appeared 33 years earlier, their cover is a killer.



Mammal’s Merry Memories: Free – All Right Now / Wishing Well

The career of Free was short, covering only five years from 1968 to 1973. During that time, however, they established themselves as pioneers of hard rock and achieved considerable commercial success.

Their third album, Fire and Water (1970), shot them to fame, mostly because of the track “All Right Now”. It subsequently became their signature song and one of the most-requested rock songs of the century.

The former members of the band took some flak after “All Right Now” was licensed for use in a number of adverts. Good luck to the guys, I say. They’d given up being Free, but why not add some extra royalties to the retirement fund?

My favourite Free song is “Wishing Well”, from their 1972 album Heartbreaker. Like everything in music, that’s a matter of personal taste. I’m not saying “Wishing Well” is the better song, just that I prefer it.


Mammal’s Merry Memories: The Who – Baba O’Riley (1971)

It seems most fans of The Who rate Who’s Next (1971) as their favourite Who album. It’s my third favourite after Quadrophenia (1973) and Tommy (1969). However, “Baba O’Riley” is my favourite Who song. It is a gigantic triumph of both classic rock and progressive rock.

People who don’t know The Who – because so many of you were born after Who’s Next was recorded – may none the less know the song from its use as the theme music for the TV series CSI: New York. The line “Out here in the fields” is a reference to Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

Collectively, The Who boasted one of the best line-ups in the history of rock and metal, with Roger Daltrey as vocalist, Pete Townshend on guitars, John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums.


Mammal’s Merry Memories: Ready For Love (two versions)

Mott The Hoople had already released four albums and weren’t going anywhere. That changed in 1972 when David Bowie gave them one of his songs, “All The Young Dudes”, and produced an album of the same title for the band. They shot to prominence as a glam rock band. The album is recognised as a classic.

My favourite song on the album is actually “Ready For Love”, a rock ballad. Like the other music on “Young Dudes” it reflects a strong R&B influence. The album features numerous guest performers, including Bowie.The stand-out artist, however, is Ian Hunter, Mott The Hoople’s vocalist.

A year later the supergroup Bad Company formed and recorded their eponymous album. My favourite track on that album happens to be Bad Company’s cover of “Ready For Love”. It’s a lighter, more hard rock version. It is again the vocalist, this time Paul Rogers, who makes this song such a stand-out for me.



Roundtable Retro Album Review: Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny

Judas Priest coverLabel: Janus Records

Release Date: 1976

Songs: 9

Length: 40 minutes

Genre: Heavy metal

Studio Albums: 16 studio albums

Location: UK

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Mammal’s Merry Memories: Jericho – Ethiopia (1972)

I’ve played this song many times in many places. The whole album, “Jericho”, reels in me in every couple of months.

Jericho was one of the names used by an Israeli band active in the psychedelic and classic rock scene from 1965 until about 1975. It issued albums as Churchills, Jericho Jones, just Jericho and The Churchills.

To me, “Ethiopia” felt way ahead of its time. It obviously sounds dated now because it was born before the advent of real metal. Even so, I dare say it will still charm many Metal Staters.


Mammal’s Merry Memories: Blue Öyster Cult – Lips in the Hills (1980)

The band started way back when, in 1967, as Soft White Underbelly. They adopted the name Blue Öyster Cult in 1972 and went on to record 14 studio albums between that year and 2001. During those three decades they sometimes performed as Soft White Underbelly at small gigs.

Since their career spanned so many years and so many albums, fans don’t agree on which was their best album. No doubt many would disagree with my selection of Cultosaurus Erectus (1980) as my favourite Blue Öyster Cult LP. For the three of you who are too young to remember and haven’t followed the history of music at all, “LP” stands for “Lotsa Plastic”. This is a song from the album.


Mammal’s Merry Memories: Warhorse – Vulture Blood

Warhorse was a short-lived British band, releasing only two albums in 1970 and 1972 respectively. They started with talent aplenty but couldn’t hang on to it. Their keyboardist, the legendary Rick Wakeman, dropped out shortly before the first album, Warhorse, was due to go into studio production.

Neither Warhorse nor the follow-up, Red Sea, did well on the UK album charts. The band faded away into nothing by 1974. To me that was a great pity because they did some good, solid rock. It seems that even way back then, I was good at liking bnds that not enough other people did.

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Argent – Hold Your Head Up

I’ve been playing some of the old vinyl LPs we’ve been using as drinks coasters at Metal State. We drink BIIIIIG tankards of beer.

Argent typified British classic rock in the early 1970s. In their songs you can hear the influences of earlier psychedelic rock and residual traces of 1960s “underground” rock. Their music also hints at the separate lines of development that would soon be followed by classic progressive rock and hard rock.

During their active years from 1969 to 1976 Argent released seven studio albums. This song, from the 1972 album All Together Now, is my favourite.