metal

Lou Reed – The Blue Mask

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Lou+Reed+loureedThis is one of those tracks you could cut the vocals out of entirely and still have a compelling rock and roll song. Lou Reed’s lyrics are always very personal; so much so at times their acute subjectivity renders them obscure. What Lou Reed songs seldom are however is boring, undifferentiated crap: a musical impossibility with this lineup.

Longtime collaborator Fernando Saunders (whose characteristic style of play is always reminiscent to me of a distant, hard-working foghorn) combines seamlessly with the colossal drums of Doane Perry (later of Jethro Tull) and gritty, head-bending guitars of Robert Quine.

Quine’s guitars in this song are worth pointing out for their distinctive, prescient filthiness. This song came out in 1982. Heavy Metal in this era –what you might think of as the public avatar of hardness in music– was tinny, synth-driven tripe: more concerned with hair care and advances in Spandex technology than breaking any new ground. The guitar sound Quine produces on this track (and many others over the course of his collaboration with Reed) anticipates the feedback-driven, noise-heavy, guitar-as-assault-weapon arrangements later popularized by Mudhoney, Nirvana, and Tad.

The lyrics are classic Reed: intensely personal; unreservedly confessional in the Catholic sense.

Make the sacrifice
Mutilate my face
If you need someone to kill
I’m a man without a will.

Wash the razor in the rain
Let me luxuriate in pain
Please don’t set me free
Death means a lot to me.

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Listening to ‘run’

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Never one to shy away from self-reference, in keeping with my post “Listening to ‘mud'” I found myself listening to songs featuring the word ‘run’ after searching up the Iron Maiden song ‘Run To The Hills.’ Including the prime motivator, here is the resulting mix.

Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills –  The video is execrable: a low-budget mix of  lip-synced band footage and horrifying, racist caricatures from some wretched old public domain film. The music is an orgy of power chords and a heart-pounding drum performance from Clive Burr. The video misses opportunities, but the song redeems itself as an archetype of 80’s metal.

Riding through dust clouds and barren wastes
Galloping hard on the plains
Chasing the redskins back to their holes
Fighting them at their own game
Murder for freedom the stab in the back
Women and children the cowards attack!

Run to the hills, run for your lives!
Run to the hills, run for your lives!

 

 

 

The Kingston Trio – Run The Ridges – The standard for vocal performance set by The Kingston Trio was already so ridiculously high they learned to adopt a certain style of performance art to bring something new to the stage and studio. All children raised in the radio era, their minds were inevitably deeply attuned to the dramatic qualities of the human voice even before they took up singing. All of the drama, good humor, and action conveyed in old time radio shows like The Cisco Kid, The Aldritch Family, or Mercury Theatre on the Air appears later as the breathless, desperate lead vocal performance. In classics like ‘M.T.A.‘ you imagine the three of them standing around a microphone in lovely seersucker shirts. In tunes like this though one can’t help but picture them on horseback, shooting nervous glances over their shoulders as they fly through the forest, the wail of scent dogs rising behind them.

Well, I’ve got your name in San Jose and your picture’s there to see.
And they’re shootin’ men in Texas just because they look like me.
And we will run the ridges of our green land Tennessee
And we will hide for forty years if that’s what’s meant to be, meant to be…

 

 

 

 

Run DMC – Proud to be Black – The closing track from 1986’s Raising Hell, this song was an early hip hop foray into black pride. Many children of the 80’s inherited the black empowerment mindset from their parents and wove it into their perspective. After all the groundbreaking fun and butt-shaking dance beats, Run DMC made sure everyone present knew what time it is.

I’ll attack this matter, in my own way
Man, I ain’t no slave, I ain’t balin’ no hay

 

 

Dennis Brown – Run Too Tuff – From his 1975 release ‘Just Dennis,’ this track –the homestyle chilly-chill– was produced by Winston “Niney the Observer” Holness.

Man take it easy on yourself,
man take it easy just watch your step.

 

 

Fastway – Say What You Will

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A memorable tune featuring the fretwork of former Motörhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke. Lyrically dwells in accustomed metal terrain, but musically is where this tune shines. The signature guitar lick emerges into a boomy, head-bang-y strut: the sort of song you want playing when you’re doing something bad at high speed in a car, perhaps.

Motörhead – Iron Fist

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That moment when you realize you have ‘favorite Motörhead songs.’ How did I get to be 44 again?

Iron horse dont make a sound
Iron hooves don´t touch the ground
Walk in circle lose your track
Can´t go on but you can´t go back.

Motorhead – Killed By Death

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I used this song to sign off of my college radio show (“Catholic School”, on WRCT-FM; Pittsburgh, PA) for a variety of reasons, namely:

  1. It has a good long intro over which farewell dialogues can be spoken, and
  2. It rocks.

The video on the other hand is preposterous: a perfect example of why artists are wise at times to share creative control. Lemmy will not be denied, however.