MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2015
WEEK 17: HARD ROCK
I’m not going to lie. I’ve never wasted too much time on hard rock, much less on metal. It played such a miniscule role in my teenage that all I knew of it were the chart hits by the likes of Deep Purple, Free, Golden Earring, Nazareth and Bachman Turner Overdrive, songs that were the staple diet of school bands everywhere. The fact that those young musicians were no more than human jukeboxes and the only accolade they craved was ‘They sound just like the record’, tells you everything you need to know about the lack of artistic aspiration and the state of music culture in the pre-punk seventies.
Some critics even promoted the idea that liking hard rock was dependent on your class; if you were a pampered, suburbanite, prog rock would always be your thing, but if you were a disaffected, council estate kid, hard rock was your birthright. Ludicrous and simplistic, it was just another example of stereotypical, seventies, class war rhetoric and complete bollocks. At my supposedly middle class grammar school, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath records were far more in evidence than anything remotely proggy. Not that I cared anyway. I was still so fabulously young and naïve that I learnt more about hard rock from Sweet B Sides than I did from those two seventies behemoths.
Needless to say, I would soon discover that it was most definitely Led Zeppelin and not The Sweet who were the very essence of where rock’n’roll had got to in the seventies. In terms of poetry, sexuality, sonic adventure and Jimmy Page’s reinvention of what now constitutes a guitar hero, they ruled absolutely. Their debut may have been a product of snoozy, late sixties, British blues rock, but Led Zeppelin II set the bar for seventies hard rock and in ‘Whole Lotta Love’ created the riff by which all others would be judged.
In contrast, Black Sabbath were the bedrock, the heavy stone slab from which all metal would eventually rise. It doesn’t really matter where the term came from because without Sabbath it would have meant nothing. Their self-titled debut was released on Friday the thirteenth of February 1970, the first complete heavy metal album by the first heavy metal artists in the world ever! Ominously dark, it proved irresistible to lads of a certain age. Yet even with Led Zep’s majesty and Sabbath’s Hammer horror, hard rock was never music you had to think about too much.
Conceived and recorded as pure escapism, hard rock allowed its audience to forget their shitty workaday lives by losing themselves in the heavy duty riffage. While those of us awaiting our own year zero dismissed the rock star lifestyle as ridiculous, the hard rock audience gloried in their own fantasies being projected back at them, raising their fists in salute as their mortal heroes became half naked, golden haired God’s in the elixir of youth. In the eighties metal would take those fantasies and repeat ad infinitum. After all, it could do nothing more. All it would ever be had already been written!
01 LED ZEPPELIN ‘Whole Lotta Love’ (Led Zeppelin II LP October 1969)
02 BLACK SABBATH ‘War Pigs’ (Paranoid LP September 1970)
03 DEEP PURPLE ‘Fireball’ (Fireball LP August 1971)
04 FREE ‘Wishing Well’ (Heartbreaker LP January 1973)
05 SWEET ‘Need A Lot Of Lovin’ (B Side January 1973)
06 ZZ TOP ‘La Grange’ (Tres Hombres LP August 1973)
07 MONTROSE ‘Rock Candy’ (Montrose LP October 1973)
08 GOLDEN EARRING ‘Radar Love’ (Moontan LP December 1973)
09 BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE ‘Sledgehammer’ (Not Fragile LP August 1974)
10 NAZARETH ‘Hair Of The Dog’ (Hair Of The Dog LP April 1975)
11 THIN LIZZY ‘Jailbreak’ (Jailbreak LP March 1976)
12 AEROSMITH ‘Rats In The Cellar’ (Rocks LP May 1976)
13 RAINBOW ‘A Light In The Black’ (Rainbow Rising LP May 1976)
14 AC/DC ‘Let There Be Rock’ (Let There Be Rock LP October 1977)
15 VAN HALEN ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’ (Van Halen LP April 1978)
16 SCORPIONS ‘Sails Of Charon’ (Taken By Force LP April 1978)
17 MOTORHEAD ‘No Class’ (Overkill LP March 1979)