Blog Archives

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Ozzy Osbourne – Thunder Underground (1995)


Since Ozzy needs no introduction, here’s a quick anecdote instead. A journalist friend who reviewed lighter music gave me her review copy of Ozzmosis in 1995 because it was way too heavy for her taste. A few days later some old buddies came to visit and one of them happened to ask, “Do you think Ozzy’s still got it, or is he a has-been?” I played this song. My mate withdrew his question.

 

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Mammal’s Merry Memories: Juicy Lucy – Pretty Woman (1970)


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.

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Third World War – Ascension Day (1971)


I was 21 years old when this album came out. We didn’t know or bother what sort of music it was. Everything that didn’t get radio airtime was “underground” music. Terms like metal, hard rock, prog, space rock, etc, hadn’t come into wide use yet. Some of those terms still had to be invented.

My friends and I called Third World War “joller music”. In South Africa, “joller” is slang for a ruffian, a hooligan, a rebel, someone who enjoys a wild good time. That’s what this band sounded like.

Years later, music historians labelled Third World War the world’s first punk band and called their music proto-punk. Therefore this song is the grandfather of punk metal and hardcore.

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: George Thorogood – Bad to the Bone (1982)


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.

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975)


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.

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Jethro Tull – Broadsword (1982)


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.

 

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: The Clash – London Calling (1979)


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.

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Falkenbach – Baldurs Tod (1998)


I don’t remember this song from 1998, the year it was released. We didn’t get this type of album in South Africa back then, partly because of low local demand and partly because the lyrics weren’t all in English. I was introduced to Falkenbach, this album – “Magni Blindinn Ok Megintiri” – and “Baldur’s Tod” in about 2004 by a fellow fanatical player of the “Baldur’s Gate” series of computer games. I’d written in our main gaming forum that I loved the theme music in the game. A guy from Greece, who turned out to be a folk metal devotee, said I should try real music about the legendary Baldur and he sent me this track as an MP3.

This track doesn’t have lyrics. That’s why he said it would have been a great theme for the game. Anyway, since then I’ve loved folk metal. Falkenbach have been doing it beautifully since 1996. Their 2013 “Asa” was one of my albums of the year.

 

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Ratt – Round and Round (1984)


Glam metal, hair metal, whatever you want to call it, had a relatively short life span. It came to the fore in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, the new West Coast sound of grunge stole huge chunks of the glam metal audience. Lavish hard rock and heavy metal played by long-haired people in strange clothing and make-up gave way to the stark, simpler, harder and more socially relevant bands headed by Nirvana.

However, fans of 1980s heavy metal and hard rock generally enjoyed this kind of music and many still do. I’m one who does. It’s jolly and bouncy.

Ratt was one the most successful glam metal bands in the USA during the ’80s. This song is probably their best-known. It’s from their third album, Out of the Cellar, which I still play.

 

Mammal’s Merry Memories: Whitesnake – Still of the Night (1987)


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.