Seattle music reporter Chris Nickson has secured interviews with band members, record producers, and others vital to the group to cover the story of the "next Metallica," from their influences to their struggles as an opening act for Guns 'n' Roses to their current triumphs. Including photos and memorabilia.
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The thing I like best about the band Soundgarden is actually the connnotation of its name. It's borrowed from an extraordinary sculptural installation along Seattle's Lake Washington that emits exquisite tones akin to a choir of Tibetan monks. It's a common rite of initiation around here to spend an hour or more lying beneath the Soundgarden (which sounds nothing like Soundgarden), without saying a word, and staring at the emptiness of the sky.
In this regard, Nickson's book is like lying in the aboriginal sculptural Soundgarden. In the '80s, long before Pearl Jam, before Nirvana, even "BSP" (before Sub Pop), the local music scene was in many ways as empty as a clear summer sky--but as pregnant with potential as our slate-gray autumn cloud cover. And Soundgarden was the first post-'60s Seattle band to really "make it big," and pass the industry rites of initiation on to their friends. This book is especially strong in capturing the sense of the scene before the media turned its ever-blinking, gorgon-like eye towards Jet City. And best of all, there's even some text about one of my all-time favorite bands (Amy Denio's "The Tone Dogs," with whom Matt Cameron drummed for awhile) and my all-time favorite club, the OK Hotel (featured in the movie Singles, a recent Soundgarden video, and home to monthly shows our friends put together).
And, of course, if you're a Soundgarden fan, this is a must-have book.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
1 Gentlemen, Start Your Amplifiers THESE days it's hard to believe there was a time when metal didn't exist. A staple of the classic-rock stations, it seems like it's been around forever. For anyone growing up and listening to FM radio in the seventies, it has been. It's perhaps even harder to imagine that it evolved out of pop and blues; after all, from the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," (which is arguably the very first metal record, with its singular, pounding riff and manic guitar solo) to Ministry, Helmet, or Megadeth, might seem a remarkably long jump. But if you stop and think about it for a couple of minutes, you'll realize that in the final analysis, it's really not so far after all. If there's one person to blame, really, it's Jimmy Page. Without him there'd have been no Led Zeppelin, and without the monster that was Zep we might never have had "heavy" music, the stuff that became heavy metal, then just metal, before it shattered like a mirror into a thousand shiny reflections of its origin. Or then again, maybe it was inevitable, simply fated to happen. But without Zep it would have certainly charted a completely different course and become ... Well, we'll never know now, will we? Page was already one of London's top session guitarists in the mid-sixties (it's rumored that he was the one who played the solo on that Kinks song) when he was enticed into joining the Yardbirds, initially on bass, then playing joint lead guitar with JeffBeck (who, in turn, had replaced Eric Clapton in the band; they were positively littered with guitar heroes). Because of Beck's ongoing health problems the lineup only lasted a few months, until November 1966, but it was captured for eternity on celluloid in Michael Antonioni's quintessential film of those Swinging Sixties, Blow Up. After Beck left the fold, the Yardbirds soldiered on, gradually losing members, until Page--by now the only one left, and not even a founder--was more or less forced to change the name to the New Yardbirds, bringing in John Paul Jones, who, like himself, had been a fairly successful session musician and arranger, on bass and keyboards, then finding singer Robert Plant in a Birmingham group called Hobbstweedle. (He was recommended by another singer, Terry Reid, who was first offered the New Yardbirds gig but turned it down in favor of a solo career.) In turn Plant brought in drummer John Bonham from another Birmingham band. After fulfilling the New Yardbirds' live commitments in Scandinavia, the name was changed to Led Zeppelin, appropriated from one of Keith Moon's (The Who) pet comments, and the legend was ready to begin. While people have made a strong case for Jeff Beck's Truth (1968) as the first "heavy" album, or even Blue Cheer as the first "heavy" band (their only hit single, a blasting cover of Eddie Cochran's " Summertime Blues," in 1968, admittedly pointed the way), it was Led Zeppelin in 1969 that captured public attention, and record sales. Like Jeff Beck, Page's grounding and his love was the blues, and he used it to strong effect on the record. But Zeppelin had far more going for them than just being a loud blues band. Blues was their point of departure for places music hadn't been before, even in those swirling, druggy, psychedelic days. They took all the elements from the past, tipped them upside down, shook them around, and came out with something new, utilizing the studio as another instrument in a way no one had managed before, to bring a rare fullness and depth (a most important factor) to the sound. Page and Plant were the undoubted focus of the band: Page as the new guitar hero, every bit as revered as Seattle native Jimi Hendrix (and, in his own way, equally as innovative and pioneering) ; and Plant, with his flowing, golden hair, bare chest, and piercing voice, a new type of idol, one who appealed to males just as much as females. By the time Led Zeppelin II arrived on the shelves a year later, they were already established as a major concert draw. The album (which topped the charts two months after its release) contained the first of what would become a whole series of Zeppelin classics, a song to which every young guitarist learned the riff (and then tried, usually in vain, to copy the solo)--"Whole Lotta Love." While Page and company might have been the first big name in heavy-metal music, they weren't the only ones for too long. Hot on their heels came Black Sabbath (also boasting strong Birmingham roots), who managed to be even heavier and louder. With lyrics full of Satanic and black-magic imagery, and played at zombie-like speed, Black Sabbath, in 1970, was a revelation (or a revulsion, depending where you stood) to a generation. Critics hated it. Kids loved it. This music owed little to the blues rock tradition, seeming to come from another [under]world altogether. The music of their Ozzy period was tremendously influential in the genre, and their first four albums remain classics. And then there was Deep Purple, who approached it from an altogether different angle. Starting out as a pop/progressive /pseudo-classical outfit, they had a pair of hits (with songs written by Joe South and Neil Diamond, no less) before releasing organist Jon Lord's ridiculously pompous Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1970), which straggled in the footsteps of the Nice and all manner of other bands with hifalutin aspirations. It didn't sell, so on their next album, Deep Purple in Rock, later that same year, they took another, more direct tack--louder and heavier, with the emphasis on Ritchie Blackmore's guitar solos and Ian Gillan's screaming. With new songs like "Speed King"and "Child in Time," it all came together, and the band became a major force on the scene, at least for a while. Across the Atlantic the amps were also getting cranked up to 10. Vanilla Fudge had scored a major hit with an extended, overwrought version of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On," and in fact had headlined over Led Zeppelin on the latter's first American tour. However, following a decidedly half-baked second album--which included one twelve-minute opus purporting to contain the entire history of music!--they were off down the slippery slope to oblivion. While no one considered them part of the fraternity at the time, hindsight has cast the Stooges and the MC5 as primal punk-and-metal bands. Although their following was small while they existed, both groups have proved to be tremendously influential across two decades, to metalheads and punks alike. Neither was especially proficient, but they had a crude energy that could ignite a performance--especially when Stooges frontman Iggy Stooge (soon to become Iggy Pop) lost control, as he all-too-frequently did, cutting himself with broken glass, smearing himself with peanut butter, or getting beaten up by the audience. It was the people's music ... and power to the people (right on). The MC5 were unabashedly political, allied to the White Panther movement, and had a touching, genuine belief that rock 'n' roll really could change the world (which was not uncommon in those heady days)--an attitude which more or less assured them low record sales (in spite of some glowing reviews) and only a brief moment in the spotlight, although "Kick Out the Jams" has proved to be an enduring anthem, even if it's strayed far from its original anarchistic intention over the years. The Stooges managed to last longer, mostly through the intervention of David Bowie, who produced their "comeback" album, Raw Power, in 1973, as well as giving Iggy a strong push at the start of his solo career in the mid-seventies. Next on the block was the band that was reviled by everywriter in America, and loved by almost every long-haired teenage boy--Grand Funk Railroad. Over the course of their first two years the trio from Michigan racked up an astonishing five gold LPs, and in 1970 reportedly sold more records than any group in America. On the road continually, they played a very basic form of blues rock utterly without finesse or charm. But something in there caught the collective imagination, making them very popular, and very rich, for over half a decade. Then who could forget Alice Cooper? He did everything possible to make sure his name stuck in your mind. The "master of shock rock" might have taken a lot of his theatrical schtick from space rocker Arthur Brown, but in the end he reached a lot more people than his inspiration. Born with the rather ordinary moniker of Vincent Furnier, he was taken up by that aficionado of the twisted joke, Frank Zappa, who released Alice's first album, Pretties for You, on his Straight label in 1969. From there it was full speed on the road to the charts, with a string of hit singles--"Eighteen," "School's Out," "Elected," "Hello, Hooray," and "No More Mr. Nice Guy"--while his stage act became more and more gruesome, going from the relatively innocuous decapitation of baby dolls, to elaborately baroque mock hangings. And by 1994, Alice, who was still recording, although long without the ubiquitous Budweiser in hand, was laying down two tracks for his new album which had been penned by Chris Cornell, a perfect example of metal coming full circle and the sons giving back to the fathers. The other major veterans of the era were Aerosmith, who in the early seventies were still very much a regional band, based in Boston and playing throughout New England. They signed to Columbia in 1973 and released Aerosmith the same year, although real success stayed at arm's length until 1976, with the charting of the "Dream On" single (number 6) from Toys in the Attic. Beginning life as yet another blues rock outfit, much in the Stones' R&B tradition (a comparison aided by Steven Tyler's physical resemblance to Mick Jagger), and with a dresssense that owed more than a smidgen to the New York Dolls, it wasn't long before they were moving on and developing a sound that stood as their own, still firmly based in rock'n' roll, but with a decidedly metal edge. Finally, at that time it was impossible to ignore Blue Oyster Cult. A five-piece band from New York, they started life as Soft White Underbelly and were going nowhere in particular before being transformed into Blue Oyster Cult by the vision of producer Sandy Pearlman (who would go on to produce the Dictators, and the Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope) and writer Richard Meltzer, with an image that borrowed equally from both Black Sabbath and the Hell's Angels. They never managed to completely shake off their early arty side, however, which usually peeked through in the somewhat impressionistic lyrics--some of which were penned by Patti Smith, poetess and future punk queen--melded to a sound that grew increasingly commercial as time passed, eventually giving them an international smash with "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." That was the apex. They continued to be a strong concert draw for several years, but their albums became flabby, predictable beasts. And that was more or less the state of play in the early seventies. Grand Funk would keep going until 1976, moving records by the truckload and even breaking the Beatles' ticketsales record at Shea Stadium. But, beyond doubt, it was the British bands that would define the genre during this period and produce the classic early heavy-metal tunes. Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and "Iron Man," Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" (which was another must-learn riff for every budding guitarist), and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," became the touchstones and inspiration for a whole era of young groups, and they were merely the tip of the iceberg. Thin Lizzy, Bad Company (both of whom were really more hard rock than heavy metal), UFO and the Scorpions (Europe's entrants in the metal stakes), Budgie--they all filled out the concert bills. But while Zeppelin was selling out multiple stadium dates around the world and pushing the envelope of what could be called metal (could it really include folk, reggae, and that strange Middle Eastern stuff?), something else was coming out of America. Kiss. It was the makeup that you noticed first, even before the music. You simply couldn't ignore it. All four members hid behind it, as stylized as actors' faces in a Japanese Noh play, or adolescents left to run amok at a cosmetics counter. Once that had drawn you in, then Gene Simmons, the tall bass player, waggled his tongue, breathed fire, and spewed blood--and you were hooked. In many respects Kiss were a cartoon band, as outrageous--and ultimately as funny--as anything on Saturday-morning television. They desperately wanted to seem threatening, but for all they tried, they came across as lovable, especially to kids, who flocked to see them and bought their records. Musically, what they played was hardly original, just a clever pastiche that regurgitated the major movements of the time--pop--oriented metal leavened with a strong slice of glam rock. For all that Kiss could be easily dismissed as musical lightweights, their impact on a generation of American boys can hardly be overstated. In bedrooms, basements, and garages across the country, struggling with their first electric guitars--in Kiss they found music that was easy to copy (unlike, say, most of Jimmy Page's solos), sounded good, and had power. A little bit of practice and you really had something. Add to that the makeup and costumes with their faint echoes of superheroes (just who were they when it was all taken off, anyway?), a dynamic, slick, theatrical live show, and you had a singular phenomenon on your hands. Nineteen seventy-four's Hotter Than Hell did a lot to establish their reputation, but it was the release of Kiss Alive! in 1975 that pushed them over the top, eventually going platinum(over a million copies sold, an incredible number for the period), and spawning the anthemic single "Rock and Roll All Night" (which also appeared on 1975's Dressed to Kill). What they billed as "The Greatest Rock and Roll Show on Earth" might not have been quite that, but it was enough to swell the ranks of the Kiss Army--their fan club--to well over a million members, and to give the world Kiss dolls, makeup kits, comic books, and even, quite perfectly, a full-length film, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, which ended up being shown on NBC. They remained, however, very much an American success story. Europe just didn't get it, and never would. For a while Kiss were the most popular act in the U.S.A. (Gallup Poll, 1977), but across the water they were just seen as four men who played very average, very generic music, and looked even sillier than Gary Glitter. Not that it mattered to Kiss. At home they continued on from strength to strength, the members all releasing solo albums to better-than-fair success. But cracks were starting to appear in the plaster, and by 1980 drummer Peter Criss had left, to be replaced by Eric Carr. That, coupled with a changed approach to the music, signaled the beginning of the end, and while Kiss limped along for a long time (even removing their makeup to reveal their real selves on MTV, which was probably not the best idea they ever had), the spell had been broken.
METAL MIGHT well have remained the dominant musical movement of the seventies if punk hadn't happened in 1976. Stripping away all the pretensions and excesses, hurling epithets at the "dinosaur" bands, punk tried desperately hard to be the new "people's music." Short songs, sometimes under a minute in ...
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Descripción St. Martin's Griffin, 1995. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX0312136072
Descripción St. Martin's Griffin, 1995. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería 0312136072
Descripción St. Martin's Griffin, 1995. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería P110312136072