Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Present Day Headbanger Refuses to Die

Okay, here's one I've been hearing about for years but never actually bothered to listen to until yesterday.

From 1971, here's vaguely unsung godfathers of heavy metal Sir Lord Baltimore -- who were actually from Brooklyn, BTW -- and what, on balance, is probably the most ridiculously overwrought track from their epically silly debut album Kingdom Come -- the unfortunately monikered "Pumped Up."

People who like this sort of stuff rate these guys very highly, apparently, despite their larger obscurity, and it is an interesting historical bit of tid that a Rolling Stone review of the album may or may not have been the first documented use of the term "heavy metal" to describe the genre. In any case, the LP has an interesting pedigree, in that the band was discovered and managed by none other than Mike Appell, who took their commercial failure seriously enough to plot Bruce Springsteen as his revenge on the music business.

I think the record is absolutely butt-ugly, myself, but on the other hand I can imagine that it might have sounded exciting and out there compared to the wimpy singer/songwriter mush that was mostly going on in rock at the time. At least if you were 15.


Faze said...

Something was needed to counter the wimpy/singer songwriter mush that was mostly going on in rock at the time. But it wasn't this. Fortunately, the Badfingers and Raspberries and Big Stars of the world were also around at this time realizing the desperate state that rock was in, and they were going to work -- desperate, persecuted and alone -- building the foundations of what was to become the genre that we love so well, and that continues to make ears worth having in this terribly noisy world. (Mind you, these guys aren't that far from Iggy, who most powerpopsters find acceptable in at least one or more of his phases. How is it that this song makes you wish so desperately for it to end, almost from the opening notes?)

mister muleboy said...

In 1971, Alice Cooper released the albums Love It To Death and Killer.

Alice Cooper were able to respond quite nicely to the wimpy singer-songwriter without resorting to cartoon-like vocals and odd time-signature songs (mistake, anyone?). They recorded songs like "Caught In A Dream," "Eighteen," "Ballad of Dwight Fry," "Under My Wheels," "Be My Lover," and "You Drive Me Nervous."

This "glam rock" was quite heavy enough to balance James Taylor, Jim Croce, and Gilbert O'Sullivan [and admittedly, the last two really hit it big in 1972. In no way undercutting my premise. . . . and I digress], thank you very much. Yeah, Alice Cooper stole from the Doors, they stole from Morrison, they stole from Iggy -- but in 1971 they wrote catchy, melodic songs with crunch that didn't [yet] rely on goofy theatrics or bullshit noise -- like Jesus of Charm City, or whatever this lame-o band from Brooklyn were called.

I offer Alice Cooper as a tangent from, and addition to, the Raspberries and Badfinger -- heavier, metally-er, and

utterly obviating Lord Baltimore

TMink said...

Alice sure does obliterate Lord B, but we heard that guitar tone and manic intensity in the sex pistols a few years later. Not my cup of tea, but I can appreciate where they fit into things.

And Jim Croce was a great artist in my book. JT sparkles on occasions, but Croce was the real deal.


mister muleboy said...

TMink -- I was careful not to disparage or derogate the singer-songwriters, but to talk of balance.

Just as we balance -- I can appreciate Croce, while not finding it my cup of tea -- and the Pistols changed almost everything in my life, and continue to please me greatly to this day.

As an old fogie-type guy.

So I'm always favouring "balance."

Balance, btw, does not include tolerating this Sir Lord Baltimore pus that Steve has foisted on us. . . .

¡barangus!™ said...

If you had said this was an early demo of something by The Darkness I might have believed you.

But overall I rather like this. The guitars are very well recorded for 1971 and very punchy.

Anyway it sounds quite inline with the fomenting underground of the Iggy/Cooper axis.

pete said...

The Fugs called their publishing company Heavy Metal Music in the '60s.

Capt. Willard said...

Hi Curty,

Excuse the comment clutter...
Wanted to let you know that we were zapped by The Man, but were back with a new home. If you could update/include us in your links, it would be greatly appreciated.


All the best,

steve simels said...

Anonymous pete said...

The Fugs called their publishing company Heavy Metal Music in the '60s.

The phrase actually derives from Wm. Burroughs (I forget which book). But there's some disagreement on when it was first adopted -- and by whom -- to the nascent rock genre.

Michael said...

What vision! The audio equivalent drinking GlenFiddich mixed with Red Bull over Midori flavored ice cubes.

allen vella said...

def agree with Mr Muleboy..Alice for me was the answer as a 16 yr old..snarling dual crunch guitars, raw vocal power, good songwriting. Love It To Death is a classic in my eyes. Would love to see that band reform...I remember reading about SLB, but can't say I really listened..we'll check it out now, thanks. And thanks for all the great post' of my daily reads.

steves said...

Sheesh! I never thought I would say this, but that vocalist was actually more annoying than Axl! The guitar wasn't half bad, though.

Glad to see the Capt.'s back up, too.

rurritable said...

Stuff like this has its place. I can see how it would work in a multimedia context, with a video of paint-spattered Poland-China hogs fucking(featuring the occasional veterinary close up of the active bits). But then again, maybe, no.
I'm still cracking up over that reimagining of "Start me up". It's truly musical, in an odd way. When the camera follows Jagger past Richards and Wyman and the reggae thing starts, it's devastating.

Anonymous said...

Burroughs book: Naked Lunch. "Heavy metal" is also in lyric of Born to be Wild: "heavy metal thunder."

There also was the Nat Lampoon spin-off comic called Heavy Metal, and possibly a related animated film or two, but I think by that point the phrase was in general use.


MBowen said...

Well, it's fast, which helps a little, but basically they're still way too enthused about Ten Years After's appearance at Woodstock.

TMink said...

Mister muleboy, I hope my comment did not come across as a snark, that was not my intent at all. And I love the Pistols. They helped save me in 1977, along with Elvis Costello. The disco stuff did not work for me, neither did Pablo Cruise or Hall and Oates.

Then I heard "Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythymically admired" and soon after, the Pistols, and rock was saved for me!

My point, clumsily made, was that Croce did some great folk-pop work along with Bad Bad Leroy Paycheck. Time In A Bottle is very touching, and brings a tear to my eye even today.

I hear what you say about balance, enough, but not too much, and certainly Croce could do some schlocky pop to pay the bills. But some of the other songs were magic for me, and I am not really a folkie at all.