This one has been going around Facebook a bit. I like to give more detail, so it’s more of a blog post for me, as well as an opportunity to make more than one post a year. It’s also an illustration of how far behind me those teenage years are.
A while back I made my ideal setlist which is a mashup of metal, blues, and electronic music. When I started to think about what really impacted me as a teenager, I can see where that all started. I like to think my musical tastes are pretty eclectic. That wasn’t necessarily the case in my teens. This is a metal-heavy list, but it’s where my head was at that time. I tried to stick to video from the era when possible. These are my Bloody Roots.
The first album (cassette really) that I bought for myself was Foreigner 4. I’d spent a summer with family in Wisconsin and played Jukebox Hero to death on the jukebox (how appropriate) in my family’s tavern. That wasn’t enough. I had to have it for myself. It’s built around bass, guitar, and a heavy beat, so I’m pretty sure this set the stage for the metal to come.
I honestly don’t remember what my second album was, but the third one was Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. As I tend to say, it was all downhill from there. This is the album that made me into a metalhead. This one obviously pre-dates my teenage years, but it was as a teen that I discovered it. I had to crack this cassette open and splice the tape together at one point, putting the tape back in backwards so sides one and two were reversed, but I still have this cassette.
The next big album to grab my attention was Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. This began a lifelong love of Iron Maiden and introduced me to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and bands like Motörhead and Judas Priest. Iron Maiden was my first CD (Powerslave) and my first concert. The concert was so incredible they re-created it 30 years later, and I can absolutely see why having that as my first show would start a passion for live music that lasts to this day.
The aggressive rhythms of metal are part of my soul, but life wasn’t all metal. Not many metal songs had lyrics that really made an impact on me. I’ll admit that my love for metal is sometimes in spite of the lyrics. Pat Benatar’s Crimes of Passion was the first time I really remember getting into the lyrics of a song. “Love and pain become one and the same in the eyes of a wounded child” and “Knock me down, it’s all in vain, I get right back on my feet again” were, and still are, deeply relevant lyrics to me. She was also the first woman I was aware of that had a complete “do not fuck with me” attitude. It was influential, and all in a good way.
Following metal music led to a love of guitars, and Stevie Ray Vaughn could tear it up with the best of them. In the end he may have been a bad influence for me. I could cover songs on guitar to the point where they were at least recognizable, but Stevie could get more out of one note than I could with an entire fretboard. I got frustrated with the guitar and haven’t seriously picked it up since. Perhaps I hold myself to some ridiculous standards? I was lucky enough to see him twice before he died.
With heavy metal as my core, I have a love for most things that are loud and aggressive. It’s hard to be more aggressive than punk, and somewhere in the 80’s I discovered the Sex Pistols. Odd that they caught on with me before The Ramones did, but it opened up a window into another genre that I never got tired of.
Punk Rock with the added benefit of being just the local bar band. I got to see them play live and Joey Ramone seemed to go to most of the shows that I did so I was always bumping into him at concerts. I got to learn that rock stars were just regular people like the rest of us. There’s something about the New York sound in metal, punk, and hardcore that always reminds me of home. Plus, The Ramones are just silly. I can’t listen to them without smiling.
The aggression of punk was incorporated into heavy metal as thrash, and nobody did it better than Slayer. I have owned more copies of this album than any other album I’ve ever bought. That’s a tough feat considering the cassette was short enough that the entire thing fit on one side, so they simply put the the entire album on each side. This is still one of the best live shows there is.
As much as I love screaming guitars, I also harbor a love for fat synthesizer sounds. While it wasn’t the focus of my teenage years I always paid some attention to new wave (loved Blondie in my pre-teen years) and this was one of my favorite albums from that time. This is one band that I never did get to see.
This band had a surprising amount of musical chops for a synthpop band. Metalhead or not this album always had me hooked. Beware: This is the most 80’s video you are likely to see this year.
Just a song, not an album, and it came out before my teen years, but since I’m on the topic of music that influenced me in my younger years, I have to give a special mention to Surrender by Cheap Trick. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t listen to rock music and rock was still young enough that you just knew most “old” people didn’t like it. In my young brain I thought that meant that people would come to hate rock music as they grew older. I loved this song so much as a kid that I remember thinking “I hope I’m still cool enough to like this when I’m old.” I’m too old to have any idea what the kids consider “cool” nowadays, but I still love this song. Mission accomplished!