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04 April 2012

Happy 1988

It's 1988 in the Year a Month project, and there's a healthy list of albums this month. Once again I had to trim off Pantera (Power Metal) because it was difficult to find and expensive. That's a pity, because Wikipedia describes this album as a transitional one between their older glam rock sound and the heavier stuff on Cowboys From Hell. That sounds just like the sort of album I'd like to hear to get a sense of the "origin story" of the Pantera we all know and love. I'll keep my eyes open for it at a reasonable price at some point. Meanwhile, we have the usual suspects and a new contender.

1988 was an important year in my life, since it was the year that I graduated from high school and headed off to college. My listening habits were a little two-sided: most of my listening in the spring consisted of FM Radio, like most of suburban America. But my college was out in the middle of nowhere, with only one very mediocre rock music station. So the second half of the year was almost exclusively listening to the CDs that I and my roommate brought with us. And as college students, we didn't have a lot of money to spend on music, so we pretty much listened to the same 5-10 discs all the time. I couldn't tell you which ones those were, though.

Danzig: Danzig - let's all give Danzig a nice warm Year-a-Month welcome. My first introduction to Danzig was the single "Mother" on a mix tape a good friend made for me in college. Glenn Danzig, who started out in The Misfits, sings with a little more bluesy style than a lot of the stuff I've been listening to lately, but the guitars and drums still get my head bobbing and my foot tapping. I look forward to having it come up on the shuffle between a couple of thrash songs - it should break things up well.

Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son - Iron Maiden continues its galloping metal style that it has perfected since Bruce Dickinson arrived. The keyboards they introduced in Somewhere in Time are more prevalent this time around, but they don't take over. Seventh Son is a concept album based on The Tale of Alvin Maker, which cements Maiden as the geek's metal band. I need to read that series sometime.

Judas Priest: Ram It Down - this album only made Gold in the US, unlike the Platinums from the previous several albums. That's a shame, because I think Ram It Down is just as good as any other album the past few years (months). In reading about this album on Wikipedia, I learned that this and Turbo (1986) were originally supposed to be a double album. The more commercial songs were released on Turbo, and the heavier ones were released on Ram It Down. I'll take the heavier ones, thanks.

Megadeth: So Far, So Good... So What! - most of this album is the same heavy-guitar distortion and high-speed riffs that characterize early Megadeth. One gigantic style departure is Anarchy in the UK, which is a cover of the Sex Pistols song; I don't quite understand why this song was included, it really doesn't fit with Megadeth's sound at all. It doesn't even have the right lyrics, since Dave Mustaine couldn't understand Johnny Rotten's singing. That makes millions of us, Dave.

Overkill: Under the Influence - in comparison to the other monster bands in my list, Overkill always sounds a little under-produced. That's especially true in this album, where a lot of the grandiose riffs from Taking Over are replaced with more of a raw thrash-metal sound. It's hard to put my finger on what exactly the differences are, but they are immediately noticeable.

Ozzy Osbourne: No Rest for the Wicked - on the other end of the spectrum, we have Ozzy, with his finely tuned voice echo. The very first song, Miracle Man, features voice synthesizers and other effects. Having heard Ozzy [try to] talk, I can imagine what a challenge he must be to record and produce. To reach this level of clarity and timing takes wizardry.

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