Monday, April 21, 2008

Judas Priest - the early days

A lot of people are familiar with Priest from the 1980s onwards -- 1980 was the year they came out with Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight (with such lyrics as -- really! -- "my body's coming all night long"), and 1982 released You've Got Another Thing Coming.

Before Priest had solidified their metal image, in terms of both lyrics and clothing, they flirted with progressive metal, with theatrical metal (think Queen), and many other things.

Their first album, Rocka Rolla (which they are NOT proud of at all - largely because of the production) yielded the 7+minute long epic about reaching life's end, Run Of The Mill, which comes with an incredible build-up, and some of Halford's most impressive vocals ever.

Sad Wings of Destiny yields the proto-thrash metal song Tyrant - check out the lead harmony solo in the middle, which was a hint of what's to come.

Their third album, Sin After Sin has the impressive Simon Phillips on drums, and ends with the amazing thrash metal song Dissident Aggressor. This song may be Priest-metal incarnate (at least for me) - great vocals from Halford, impressively subtle and forceful drumming from Phillips (more on him in a later entry), a KK Downing noisy guitar solo... (OK, it lacks something that signifies other guitarist Glenn Tipton).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Early techno

I sometimes think that the first techno/dance song was Hot Butter - Popcorn..

You can read about it at the wikipedia article:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Shiina Ringo cover songs

Shiina Ringo, a Japanese pop star who manages to be one of my favorite artists, impresses me in a few ways.
She released a double-CD of cover songs, most of which I'd never heard before. After some research, I was impressed with what was done with two example songs:

A Japanese bubbly pop song from the 1970s, Momen no Handkerchief, performed by Hiromi Ohta, managed to get transformed into a compeletly-authentic sounding indie song, back in the early part of the 2000s. See Shiina's version here.

Apparently, a traditional tune, Uña Ramos's "Aquellos ojos grises", performed here by some Japanese folk musician types, became Ringo's Haiiro no Hitomi.

For further information on Shiina Ringo, check out this great wiki: Shiina on theppn

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ian Anderson's influences

A lot of people know the music of Jethro Tull - composed (and sometimes arranged) almost exclusively by Ian Anderson, who sings, plays flute, acoustic guitar, and even saxophone when he's figured out where they're hiding it from him.
Anderson has dropped hints about two of his major influences - through interviews and/or cover songs.

First: Rahsaan Roland Kirk - the jazz man who allegedly could play over 100 instruments, sometimes playing 3 at the same time. He could circular breathe a note indefinitely on the sax, sometimes holding a note for several hours.. In fact, his playing style on the sax was such that he would _always_ circular breathe - even while playing three at once.
He's definitely worth checking out for many many reasons (his stage banter is among the best), but in the context of Ian Anderson, it's certainly his flute playing that's the initial attraction. Anderson's humming along breathiness, as well as staccato stylings, seems very derived from the way Kirk would sometimes play.
(For as long as it's up there: Roland Kirk's Seasons)

Second: Roy Harper - Roy has a song by Led Zepplin dedicated to him (hats off to harper), and has collaborated with Bill Bruford, David Gilmour, and Jimmy Page on his own albums. Roy from 1971 in many ways does not sound different from Roy in 2006 - which is a good thing.
What does Ian take from Harper? His acoustic guitar styling is very obviously influenced by Harper - the quick scales, the picking style, the vocal style over it. His lyrics are also clearly influenced by Harper's beat stylings - Harper was the strongest influence on Anderson in the early 1970s Jethro Tull material.
(Me And My Woman -- check out the falsetto break in the chorus, then think of A Passion Play or Scenario from the Chateau tapes)

( Jethro Tull - My God)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Double bass in death metal

Michael Kaplan asked me a few years ago who had first introduced double-bass speed drumming into death metal.

Here's what I would guess is a reasonable lineage:
Jazz drummers were almost certainly the first to use double-bass set-ups at all. Some late 1960s rock drummers also used it, mainly in drum solos.
On Deep Purple's 1971 album Fireball, on the title track, there is a reasonably fast double-bass beat used throughout the song. This isn't near death metal speed, but is a slower version of the same concept. (Fireball )
On West Bruce and Laing's self titled album from 1973 , the track Love Is Worth The Blues features some double bass towards the end of the guitar solo - quite a bit faster than Ian Paice's beat on Fireball.
Judas Priest's Sin After Sin (1977), particularly the track Let Us Prey, may feature the first double bass beat in 'pure' heavy metal song. (Let Us Prey )
The earliest (and very influential) 'real' death metal style drumming I can come up with is the work of Dave Lombardo of Slayer. 1984's Haunting The Chapel may be a good example of this. (Haunting The Chapel )

As always, I could have missed something!