When I was growing up my local record store sold imported British music magazines. I liked reading Melody Maker and NME. I was amused at how the writers would talk up the Next Big Thing until they became successful and then they’d write about how much they sucked. Then they’d start hyping the Next Next Big Thing. I know that all critics everywhere are prone to this phenomenon, but the Brits really elevated it to its purest form. I studied the pattern of hype-and-slag the way some people study the life cycle of fruit flies.
Anyway, Kerrang! was the British music magazine I loved the most. They had an exclamation mark in their name long before Yahoo and they were real big on the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Being a metal fan and somebody who’s always looking for new music, Kerrang! was right up my alley. And here are some of the bands they hyped before they started to suck.
Hellsongs “Run To The Hills” (Iron Maiden)
You have to admire the way Iron Maiden have built a career for themselves. It’s a tribute to relentless touring and word of mouth in the face of record label indifference. They work just as hard now as they did before they started filling sports stadiums.
Hellsongs does a fine job of making what was originally an angry song sound very sad.
Emm Gryner “Pour Some Sugar On Me” (Def Leppard)
This may not be the best Def Leppard song to post when I’m talking about the NWOBHM, but there aren’t a whole lot of interesting covers of their early stuff. Whatever you think of Def Leppard, the idea of a one-armed drummer is Totally Metal.
Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha “Orgasmatron” (Motorhead)
You either love Tuvan throat singing or you hate it. I find it fascinating and Albert Kuvezin is one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. Strangely enough his vocals on this song don’t sound all that different from Lemmy.
Girlschool “Race With The Devil” (Gun)
This song features a riff that’s deeply embedded in the DNA of rock and roll. Everybody recognizes the riff but most people couldn’t tell you what song it comes from. Gun was a popular band in England that featured the Gurvitz brothers, who went on to enlist with Ginger Baker to form the Baker-Gurvitz Army.
I always thought of Girlschool as the 80s version of the Runaways. Sadly there was no Joan Jett figure to survive the inevitable implosion of the band.
Tygers Of Pan Tang “Love Potion No. 9” (The Clovers)
Not every band in the NWOBHM could become a big star. There are laws of physics that prevent that sort of thing. And so the Tygers toiled at the fringes of the movement, eventually collapsing under pressure from their record company to record more covers like this one.