Yes! Today we celebrate. I’m celebrating because Mary and I got a new site up today for Heavy Duty Incorporated at WeAreHeavyDuty.com, our art and home furnishings business. To celebrate I’m finally posting Judas Priest’s Defenders of the Faith.
This album contains a song that has become my heavy metal mantra, “Heavy Duty.” The song contains the lyrics “I’m Heavy Duty” in the first chorus and “We’re Heavy Duty” in the last one. The first line I mentioned is, of course, the namesake of this web site. You can read more about why I chose that name. “We’re Heavy Duty” happens to be the URL for Heavy Duty Incorporated. “Heavy Duty” is simple metal dirge with some silly metal lyrics, but it never fails to give me a boost when I most need it. I play it all the time, and I have two copies, just in case. Just in case.
Another sentimental reason I love this record is that on April 12, 1984, the night before final exams in my senior year of high school, Roger Williams and I went to see Judas Priest live at the Hampton Coliseum. Roger is/was sort of an intellectual metalhead. If I remember correctly, he was valedictorian of his class and went on to Notre Dame. We lost touch after high school, which is unfortunate for him because I’m pretty sure one of those albums in the picture in his. Sorry Roj. Contact me to negotiate visitation rights.
The show was fantastic in a completely over the top heavy metal way. The “Metallian” creature on the cover was the actual stage, with the drums inside the mouth and a huge mechanical arm that lowered to allow Rob Halford to walk out. At least that’s how I remember it. Halford also rode a Harley onto the stage at one point. The whole band played perfectly was locked into the driving grooves that made this middle period Priest music so great.
Some of the other great songs on Defenders are “Freewheel Burning” and “Some Heads are Gonna Roll.” While overall the lyrics are the usual tough guy silliness you would expect there are more than a few corny-but-inspiring metal moments like this from “Rock Hard Ride Free”:
No denying, we’re going against the grain
So defiant they’ll never put us down
Rock Hard Ride Free
All day, all night
Rock Hard Ride Free
All your life
But my favorite, of course, comes from “Heavy Duty.”
We’re Heavy Duty
So come on let’s tell the world
We are defenders of the faith…
Title: Best Of The Music Machine (Featuring Sean Bonniwell)
Format: Vinyl 12 in.
Rating (1-10): 7
Acquired: 1984 – Probably mail order from some place like Midnight Records in NYC.
Since I mentioned The Music Machine in my last post I thought I would post this Best Of The Music Machine (Featuring Sean Bonniwell) record next. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it and it’s more rocking than I remembered.
This album was released by Rhino in 1984. That’s like some label today re-releasing music that was popular, or at least existed, in the late 1980s, for a new audience. I was in high school when I bought this re-issue, so it’s not like I was being nostalgic. I suppose there may be some teenagers out there who would be excited to discover music from 1988, but it seems weird to me.
Most people think the seeds of heavy metal were sewn in the late 1960s, but I think The Music Machine got there a few years earlier. They have some heavy riffs, tricky song structures, dark lyrics, and –best of all– they wore all black clothing, dyed their hair black, and wore a black glove on one hand only. The notes on the back cover describe them as being “in the vanguard of the punk rock boom.” Maybe, but after another round of listening I’m convinced The Music Machine was proto-metal. And that’s what I’m talking about.
I’m back! And what brought me back? Too many chocolate chip cookies and an awesome dance single.
Mary and I heard Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” on the car radio yesterday, and I just had to hear it again. The version on this 12 inch is the “Performance Mix” and you can believe I was doing a performance all three times I blasted it today. I did move to turn it down a bit when I saw the UPS guy outside, but fortunately he went to another house. I was able to complete my dance routine mostly without interruption. And pretty much everybody has to dance when they hear this classic. It’s so punchy!
The performance by singer Pete Burns is so complete and uninhibited that I can’t imagine it being more entertaining. And I’m only talking about his singing, see the video for more. Life lesson from Pete Burns: If you going to do something, do it all the way and don’t hold anything back. Except maybe when it comes to body mods. I saw Pete on some strange TV show a while back and I think he’s overdosed on plastic surgery.
I have the perfect Halloween soundtrack for you: EinstÃ¼rzende Neubauten’s Strategies Against Architecture 80-83. These guys are the uncrowned kings of noise and experimental music. This early compilation is particularly eerie, and metallic, in the literal sense of the word. Typical “instruments” listed for each song include “hollow metal object”, “metal plates”, “scratching metal”, “air conditioning duct” and so on. What vocals are there, are, how you say… distressed? And check out a few of these Halloween-ready titles: “Tanz Debil (A Dance of Mental Illness)”, “Schmerzen HÃ¶ren (Listen with Pain)”, “DrauÃŸen ist Feindlich (Outside is Hostile).”
Of course, the band expanded beyond this type of music over the years. And they have put on some noteworthy live performances in their time. I have never seen them in person, but I did get to see leader Blixa Bargeld once with Nick Cave.
They have a MySpace page. The two songs there are very pretty, and not at all like what this album is like.
You should read this Wikipedia article about EinstÃ¼rzende Neubauten. No self-respecting art school student should be without some of their music.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble -- Couldn't Stand the Weather
Artist: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Title: Couldn’t Stand the Weather
Format: Vinyl 12 in.
Rating (1-10): 9
Owner: Tracy and Bob
Acquired: 2005 – Inherited from Bob Bobala
Oh, too many to blogs to keep up with. I haven’t been posting as often as I want. It’s too late and I’m too tired to do this record justice. Suffice it to say that Stevie Ray Vaughan was a massively talented genius and Couldn’t Stand the Weather is an excellent album. I think if I listened to it for another day I’d probably rate it a “10.” From memory I was thinking that this record wasn’t quite as good as the first, but now I’m not so sure. Stevie and Double Trouble (Tommy Shannon on bass and Chris Layton on drums) are slamming on all eight tracks. My favorite is the heavy funk title track, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” And their version of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” is phenomenal. I’m a huge Hendrix fan, but I like listening to this version just a little bit more. Vaughan’s tone is super fat. This is another record Bob should have kept.
Acquired: 1984 – Not sure where, probably mail order from Voxx Records.
I can’t believe The Tell-Tale Hearts still exist as a band, but they do have a MySpace page. So, at least you can go hear what I’m talking about. I used to love this stuff, and I still do. By “this stuff” I mean bands in the mid-1980s that were making music like, and even dressing like, proto-punk bands from the mid-1960s. That may seem a little corny in retrospect, but how is it any different from Interpol sounding like Joy Division? Or any of the numerous “post punk” bands on the scene the last few years? I love this self-titled record. My favorite track is the hyper-speed punked-out celebration of being in love titled “It Came to Me.” The Tell-Tale Hearts were, maybe still are, one of the best of this fun music scene. I don’t play this record much, but I always enjoy it when I do.
Marginal Man was pretty inventive on Identity while still sounding like hardcore. I like the music and the playing, the sound is great too, but, and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, the vocals just don’t do it for me. It sounds like I’m singing or something. Anyhow, Mary got it at a show and we’re keeping it for nostalgia if nothing else.
Title: Won’t You Hold My Hand Now (Heavy Times Mix)
Format: Vinyl 12 in.
Rating (1-10): 5
The endless line of King 12 inch singles continues. This one is another version of “Won’t You Hold My Hand Now”, the “Heavy Times Mix.” I’m going to admit that this time I found it less annoying, maybe slightly entertaining. The songs on side two, “Endlessly” and “Never Ending” are probably better. I usually play the record I’m writing about when I post, but right now I’m still spinning the last one, The Gift by The Jam.
Various Artists -- Back from the Grave Volume Four
Artist: Various Artists
Title: Back from the Grave Volume Four
Format: Vinyl 12 in.
Rating (1-10): 7
Acquired: 1984 – Mail order?
The ultra-cool Crypt Records put out the Back from the Grave series in the 1980s. I have a few records from the series and this is the first one I came across. These records are compilations of relatively obscure 1960s garage rock bands. Many of these groups, despite that they often wore matching shirts or suits, can, and should, be considered the original punk rockers. This stuff had a pretty solid cult following in the 1980s. There were even quite a few new bands at the time emulating the sound and look of the originals. The Fuzztones, Nomads, Vipers, Lyres, and Chesterfield Kings are some of the better-known ones.
If you study the album cover you’ll notice the ’60s punk rock zombies are back to take over. Robin is driving the Batmobile dragging Cyndi Lauper(?), Boy George and Prince. Hippies, joggers and break dancers are all getting their comeuppance.
I find it interesting now, looking back, that less than 20 years after this music was new that there was such an interest by some folks in the 1980s. Maybe it was a reaction to the glut of synth music at the time. Is it possible this niche guitar rock revival eventually went more mainstream in the form of “grunge”? Anyhow, I find it hard to imagine that right now in 2007 there will be a revival of underground late 1980s music. This ’60s garage rock was special, from a special time right before music got a little less fun. It reminds me of the movie Animal House. It came out in 1978 and was set in 1962, only sixteen years earlier. But think about how different those periods were. Would a movie today set in 1991 seem that distant?
The Sonics are by far the best-known band on this record. My favorite track is the extra-fuzzed out “Flash and Crash” by Rocky and the Riddlers.
Uh, well, more old school comedy punk from The Vandals. When in Rome Do as The Vandals came out in 1984 and it wasn’t exactly old school then, but it sounded more like early punk instead of hardcore, which had already been around for a while. The first song “Ladykiller” is an anomaly. That ditty sounds more like a bad, comic version of the early Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was probably fun then.
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"I'm Heavy Duty!" was my original blog about everything. Now it's about new music, old records, live shows, stories, memorabilia, garage band demos, anything and everything else related to music. Over 500 posts at this Music Blog!
"Heavy Duty Incorporated" is our blog about making things. It can be "art" or clothing or almost anything. If we or our friends make something I like to share it. Craft & Art Blog