Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grumpy old metaller speaks out...

SCREW the mainstream, it's so bland and formulaic that it doesn't know when it is disappearing up its own back passage...

Why this outburst? For once it is not prompted by alcohol (although that is helping!). Some days ago I clocked an episode of Grumpy Old Men in the graveyard of TV that are Sky Channels repeating shows you missed because they were crap first time around. On it the various - and at times vacuous - referenced the music and style of the 80s.

It was either that or watch the utter tripe of the X-Factor (and as per previous posts I recommend SLF's Guitar and Drum, once dedicated, alliteratively, by Jake Burns to "that c**t Cowell), something worthy on BBC or Scuzz and KerrangTV playing pop punk inane posturing...

And it was an alien decade that I stumbled upon. The "grumpy" types referred first to the many style abberations (of which I do confess to many, not least the white leather trousers....) and then to the music of then 80s.

For them the memories were of Kagagogoo, the Birdie Song, Human League, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballix.

All of these dire discourses on crimes against synthesisers and music made me angry (hence this article!).

For me, and many others who love hard rock, heavy metal and, heaven forfend prog rock, the 80s were a nirvana of pure unadulterated joy.

This was a decade when you could hear Ozzy, Maiden, Motorhead. Marrillion and many others on prime time Thursday night TV, a decade when Judas Priest were on kids' shows and Friday night's The Tube.

This was a decade which started with punk's wonderful snarl (of which Norn Iron's many bands were at the forefront) merged, almost seamlessly into the New Wave of British Heavy Metal - a specious genre which spawned the likes of Metallica.

Maiden, Saxon and Leppard led the way amongst many other unheralded acts like White Spirit, Tank and many others who had their moment in the limelight with a session on Tommy Vance's Fridat Night Rock Show.

This was a decade that saw MSG sell-out the Ulster Hall twice, a decade that saw Metallica and Anthrax cause almost terminal damage to the venerable venue before WASP and Slayer ripped it up. This was a decade when Magnum sold out QUB's SU speakeasy (and yes Kyle, Michael and I may have briefly kidnapped Bob Catley for coffee in the History Common Room...during which I am sure he "borrowed" phrases for the Wings of Heaven album) and the Ulster Hall 14 months later.

This was a decade when metal and hard rock was dominant - a sell-out gig by Whitesnake almost caused a riot in Bedford Street after a rumour of more tickets, but Baal, Sylvia and I were safely inside by then...

This was a decade that saw the release of Master of Puppets, Number of the Beast, Among the Living, Misplaced Childhood, Reign in Blood, Peace Sells, Ace of Spades, Holy Diver, Thunder and Lightning, Slide it In, and even Pyromania (these were the days before Lepps discovered cheesiness stinkier than 10-year-old Gorgonzola).

And what do the numpties and non-entities quote to us? Howard F**kin' Marks and Ricke F**kin' Astley!  What do the advertisers and marketeers toss as ready made 80s references? Oh I can't be arsed referencing their crap. But they should remember that Iron Maiden's Transylvania was once on a Lucozade ad...real energy, not faux power.

In this rant, I should as a responsible (well mostly!) former full-time journo (before I sold my soul to PR) point out that the local hard rock and metal talent is better than ever (congrats to Trucker Diablo on their recent Rotosound endorsement) with literally dozens of acts that could grace global stages, compared to the average Driveshaft, the sadly unsigned Winter's Reign and Norn Iron's own NWOBHM standard bearers, Sweet Savage. (who I must note are still pumping out awesome songs!)

So, what is the purpose of this typed rant (other than personal reminiscences). Simply put, hard rock and heavy metal - even the multi platinum selling acts - exists today, as in the 80s, in the 'underground'. And even there there are graduations of 'being underground'.

Iron Maiden and Metallica can sell out the Odyssey Arena, yet the radio rants about Snooze Patrol. Many, many other rock and metal acts like The Answer sell-out the Ulster Hall, the Mandella Hall and other Belfast venues. The Distortion Projects brings international acts to the Ormeau Road, Ma Nelsons is emerging as a trusty metal venue and Ahoghill's Diamond Rock Club is burgeoning.

This rant (brought to you by 'beer') has two-purposes: an opportunity to show off my age as an advantage over the kiddie metallers, and secondly as a rallying call to the young generations and the sedentary older rockers. I may have illnesses, responsibilities and other sh*t meaning I venture to gigs less frequently than I wish.

What's your excuse?

PS: Congrats to Ball and Sylvia on becoming hard rocking grandparents, and Steve on becoming a da...now bring that child up listening to Satan's sounds :)   \m/

PPS: if you love yer rock and metal make a commitment to see at least one local act each quarter and put aside a couple of quid to buy their CD. \m/

PPS: We even liked Meatloaf then, who one asked his girlfriend for some back door action...she told him she would do anything for love, but she'll not do that. \m/

PPPS...apologies for the excessive parentheses, but sobriety disappeared over the horizon about two hours ago

PPPS - I'm stopping now as I could - and I mean it - rant all night...


Anonymous said...

One of your best rants ever mate....and couldn't agree more!!! As for young Harry, he's got no chance of listening to anything else...he's gonna be a 3rd generation rocker lol

Mark(Baal) Granda or whatever the feck i'm called lol

Jonny said...

The late-lamented 'Ring' dubbed thee Baal under the sacred North Belfast metal covenant, and thus in full metal glory thee will be Baal. Otherwise just my mate in Metal, Mark!

Glad that Harry will be given a proper musical education. I can pcture babysitting: "Now Harry, this is off Johnny the Fox..."

But if I am still alive when young Harry reaches the age of booze I will sing that old 80's punk song to him:

"Hurry Up Harry, come on
"We're going down the pub!"

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more!

Except that it was 'Phantom Of The Opera' they used for the Lucozade ad' :)