Can I Play With Madness

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Iron Maiden

The release of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son showed me that Maiden were not just going to churn out the same fucking album over and over again.  It was very different to what we were used to and it was awesome, in some parts it was even starting to sound a bit like Jethro Tull which was quite a departure from the albums before.  The evolution of sound was quite radical, so radical in fact that when it appeared they may have got cold feet and tried to get back to their more classic sound with No Prayer For the Dying, guitarist Adrian Smith decided it was time to leave.  His view was that Seventh Son was more in line with where they should be heading even if it wasn’t as successful commercially.

I was in the army at the time this came out and in the short space of time I had been there Metal had changed quite radically.  I wasn’t prepared for what I found in Hillbrow at the Irish Club one night where I played this album hot off the press i.e. that in the eyes of the youth Maiden were dinosaurs.  Thankfully they did not meet their extinction but would carry on forever. 

James Daubeney

Painkiller

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Judas Priest

Priest released Ram It Down in 1988 at the same time as Maiden released Seventh Son.  I was over the moon about getting these two albums but the rest of the world seemed to receive them differently, almost with a resigned sense of boredom.  Something was happening and it wasn’t going to be pretty for Hair Metal bands.  Grunge was coming and only a new breed of Metal bands, Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Megadeth and Sepultura would survive.  Thank fuck Priest saw the threat and reacted with the magnificent Painkiller.

With Painkiller Judas priest stepped up to the plate and showed all the new bands why they are the Metal Gods.  Painkiller was huge, a blistering slab of fast aggressive metal.  Watch this clip, it kicked the shit out of everything that year.  Their whole style changed in this video, basically Priest caught up with the times. 

James Daubeney

South of Heaven

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Slayer

I confess that when I first heard Slayer I didn’t get it.  Reign In Blood was just too fast and too atonal, basically too shouty.  I wanted to like it but I like melody and harmony  and this just seemed like fast noise.  ‘Angel of Death’ is a metal masterpiece but at the time it was just too brutal for me, the subject matter was a bit nauseating.  I wanted to love Slayer but just was having a hard time finding a way in.  The way in was South of Heaven on high volume at the Irish Club in Hillbrow in 1988.

Slayer today are probably one of the most important metal bands ever.  Much like Motorhead in their day, Slayer didn’t compromise and they ensured that you always had something to play when people who shouldn’t be listening to heavy metal started to think that they actually liked it.  South of Heaven is a masterpiece and sounds as good today as it did when it was released.  All Hail the mighty Slayer. 

James Daubeney

Hanger 18

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Megadeth

Megadeth are pound for pound a better band than Metallica.  They have released consistently high quality albums for over 30 years.  In my opinion there has never been a bad Megadeth album.  Dave Mustaine is a true rock god, love him or hate him it cannot be denied that he is ‘Far Beyond Driven’ and his energy, determination and drive are an inspiration to us all.

The release of Rust In Peace kicked off an amazingly prolific and lucrative 3 album run for Megadeth that saw, against all odds, a band this heavy achieving huge commercial success.  I saw this album as a sign that Dave was getting over Metallica and really coming into his own. 

James Daubeney

Cowboys From Hell

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Pantera

Nothing could compare with the power and aggression of Pantera.  When Cowboys From Hell came out in 1990 they literally saved metal.  Dime and Vinnie were still old school Van Halen style rocks stars but Phil was an anti-hero and arguably changed the whole metal frontman image from long haired good looking poser to brutal street fighter.  No more spandex or even leather, now it was baggy pants and lumberjack shirts or no shirt.  No-more long hair, now it was shaven heads and muscles.  His vocal style was totally different to the guys that had preceeded him and the lyrics were about hate rather than love.  Phil was not a happy guy and it shone through beautifully.

In The Story of Rock and Roll I explain in some detail the impact Pantera, and specifically Dime-Bag Darryl had on me as a guitarist.  Basically that was the point where I just gave up.  What was the fucking point, all those years of practicing and then there is this fucking guy

James Daubeney

Enter Sandman

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Metallica

All things must end and the Black album was the end of the Metallica that I discovered and love.  It was the beginning of a new commercial behemoth that, to me, would never again attain the heights that they did up until Cliff Burton’s tragic death.  I loved this album but when it went to No 1 on 5FM I knew that they were no longer going to be my favourite band.  I dig Metallica, I admire them for what they have achieved and I will never be one of the ”haters”.  I just had to come to terms with the reality that from now on it was a different beastie, a Q-Prime beastie that although ferocious was no longer wild.

Metallica fought against putting out video’s despite serious pressure from their record company and management.  When they did eventually capitulate they put out fairly dark shit and none of it gives you what you really should be watching to appreciate them.  They are best watched Live so here is a live clip of them doing Enter Sandman, look at that crowd ! Fucking amazing \m/

James Daubeney

November Rain

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Guns 'n' Roses

People, and rightly so, will hail Appetite For Destruction as one of the greatest Rock albums of all time.  Personally I enjoyed the Use Your Illusion twins even more.  Given what would happen to G ‘n’ R I am just so fucking grateful that they managed to get this amount of material out before it was too late.  Axl was starting to get his hooks into the song writing process and the slower stuff like ‘November Rain’ and ‘Estranged’ were just incredibly good.  I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say that of the 20 or so hours a week I spent studying in 1991 around half of them would have been spent with these two masterpieces playing in the background.

It’s all about the guitar solo on this guys, that amazing moment when Slash walks out of the church like a Rock and Roll outlaw and does the solo in the desert.  Watching your buddy fuck up his life at a wedding will do that to you.  I can never get tired of watching this.  It starts at 04:10 if you want to jump to it 🙂 but you should start with the church walk out at 03:37 to do that properly, ahh fuck it watch the whole thing. 

James Daubeney

The Road to Nowhere

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Ozzy Osbourne

Without a doubt one of the strongest albums Ozzy has ever made.  In my view largely as a result of Zakk Wylde.  Once again Ozzy managed to find the best guitarist around.  When Ozzy dumped jake E. lee I was a bit surprised.  Jake had done the heavy lifting as the guy who replaced the god that was Randy Rhoads and he had settled in or so I thought.  Zakk however was a revalation and once the released No More Tears it was clear that like with Randy they were writing great songs together.

Zakk just makes it all look so easy.  For such a big guy his speed is deceptive.  You kind of expected Randy to be so quick but to hear Zakk pull off all his solo’s as easy as breathing was just amazing to watch

James Daubeney

Smells Like Teen Spirit

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Nirvana

Nirvana were impossible to ignore, one day they just arrived on our radio’s.  It was like an alien spaceship had landed.  One day they were not there and the next they were and the world would have to deal with it.  With the release of Nevermind Nirvana took off like a rocket and unintentionally laid waste to pretty much everything else that was going on in the Rock and Metal world at the time.  Their impact and influence was huge.  Seemingly overnight Grunge was all the rage.  The last person who wanted all this attention was the junkie, nihilistic uber charismatic Kurt Cobain.  Once ‘Teen Spirit’ got airplay the genie was well and truly out the bottle.

I listened to Nevermind a lot when it was released in 1991, to be honest it isn’t my best because I like guitar solo’s and it had a druggy depressed woe is me feel about it.  ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is an incredible track and this video just sums up the whole ”’Don’t give a fuck” attitude that Nirvana had.  It is to this day a fantastic clip. 

James Daubeney

Alive

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Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam were great, more than any other band at the time they symbolised the whole Seattle vibe and the type of kids who couldn’t identify with spandex and make-up and just wanted to get back to a more down-to-earth sound and play music.  Just like Punk, Grunge became a whole genre that affected everything from fashion to films.  These genres never really last because the record companies get onto it and all their A&R people change overnight from wearing tight jeans and big hair to long shorts and lumberjack shirts.  They are fickle mother fuckers and once they find the next big thing there is blood in the water and a whole lot of bands who are not very good jump in.  The beauty of it is that the really good bands go on to become timeless classics.

Pearl Jam made some great music.  Eddie Vedder started to get on people’s tits by being broody & moody about everything and inadvertently became the poster boy for the whole movement and it obviously had a big effect on everything they did.  The trick is not to philosophise it to death, Ticket Master, Time magazine covers, etc, etc  just kick back and listen to the early stuff like this track, it is superb.  

James Daubeney

Rusty Cage

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Sound Garden

Sound Garden put out some really good stuff, their sound started to morph into something other than grunge in the later albums and it started to become clear that Chris Cornell would have to do other stuff like solo albums and Audioslave.  Badmotorfinger was actually their 3rd album and they really started to hit their stride with Superunkown getting a No1 position on the Billboard Hot 200.  Superunknown is esential listening

I was in business in Germany and they had a music channel on in the hotel.  Sound Garden’s ‘Pretty Noose’ was in heavy rotation so that was fucking cool.  Unfortunate the other thing that was on ALL the time was The Prodigy with ‘Firestarter’.  The amount of times Liam Howlett says that he is the Firestarter in that song would give the ‘Roxanne’ drinking game a run for its money. 

James Daubeney

Rooster

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Alice in Chains

One of my favorite albums the Grunge years.  Dust is simply put an absolutely perfect album in space and time.  Just like Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, it would seem that Jerry Cantrell didn’t get the memo about no guitar solo’s in grunge.  Dirt is jam packed with awesome guitar solo’s and riffs.  Alice in Chains just got it all right and the songs are so strong they could never get better in my opinion: ‘Down in a Hole’, ‘Angry Chair’, ‘Rooster’ and the incredible ‘Godsmack’.  In the end when it came to Layne Staley the words ”And God’s name is smack for some” turned out to be as much for him as it was for Andy Wood.  Fucking tragic man 🙁

I never saw the video until I put this site together.  Knowing the history of Jerry Cantrell and his fractious relationship with his Dad it is a stunning piece of work.  Jerry’s old man was badly fucked up by the Vietnam War and this song was his son’s attempt to get into his dad’s head and understand it from his perspective. 

James Daubeney

One

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U2

If this seems a bit out of place here then bear with me because it was ahuge release in 1991 which was such a good year for music and I gave it huge airtime.  I am not a big fan of U2 generally, I read a review for their debut album Boy in Scope magazine in early 1981 and the reviewer raved and wrote about it in a way that made me believe this would be my next great discovery.  Sadly that was not the case and I remember being bitterly disappointed and trying harder to like it than I should have.  They have some absoluely amazing stuff so I tend to pull that out of the rest of the more ‘Unforgettable’ songs.  Achtung Baby however is different, it’s all good.

Bono is an incredible writer and has penned some of the best lyrics in rock, this one is probably one of his greatest.  It is a strange video as well which is why I like it.  I am sure there are other versions of the song but I love that weirdness. 

James Daubeney