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Heavy Metal Skeletons in the Closet
November 26, 2007 4:21 PM   Subscribe

This cheesy 1979 promo film from the group, Blackjack, offers a glimpse into the hard rock past of balladeer Michael Bolton, which also includes a co-writing credit for a Top 40 hit by Kiss. Similarly, Bill Joel disavows the days when he posed in medieval armor next to slabs of raw beef on the cover of the self-titled album by Joel's heavy metal duo, Attila, although Julian Cope is a fan of the album and its Deep Purplish vibes (check out Holy Moses and Wonder Woman). To round out the trifecta, we have Tori Amos who got marketed as the metal-chick frontwoman of Y Kant Tori Read (check out the video for The Big Picture). On the other hand, metalheads have the opposite problem of hiding their pop past. Examples include the industrial metal band Ministry's early days as a new wave synth act and Tommy Iommi's brief tenure as a member of Jethro Tull before becoming lead guitarist of Black Sabbath. Meanwhile, Bon Scott, the late lead singer of AC/DC, is probably spinning in his grave over the YouTube footage of him as an Australian teen idol and a bearded hippie with a recorder.
posted by jonp72 (70 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why, thank you, jon. Thank you very much indeed.
posted by Zero Gravitas at 4:30 PM on November 26, 2007


Not to be confused with '80s Boston rockers The Blackjacks.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:33 PM on November 26, 2007


Examples include the industrial metal band Ministry's early days as a new wave synth act

Oh Jesus. I remember seeing Ministry in about '96 -- well after their testes had dropped -- in the company of two friends who were, like myself, all metalli-industrial, one guy, one girl, and the girl's boyfriend, who was...not metalli-industrial. A fey, gothy little poseur was he, and as the lights went down and scores of met-allllllllll dudes began to shout and pump their fists in anticipation, he was heard to remark, "I hope they play 'Halloween Is Every Day'!"

Fuck, I hated that guy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:39 PM on November 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


This. Post. Is. Amazing.
posted by nosila at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2007


I have new found respect for Billy Joel.
posted by oddman at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Great post. Spinal Tap did a great job with the evolution of the band from "skiffle" to "hippy" to "metal".
posted by cell divide at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2007


The Fraternity - Seasons Of Change track is fantastic. What a voice. Bassoon and recorders too!
posted by tellurian at 4:51 PM on November 26, 2007


Bon looks like a fucking leprechaun with that beard.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:52 PM on November 26, 2007


Awesome post. Today jonp72 wins at the internet.

Jon, exit the stage that way.
::guides Jon by his elbow::

posted by djeo at 4:56 PM on November 26, 2007


Ha, nice, sort of like Larry Lalonde of Primus totally denies that he was ever in Possessed.
posted by The Straightener at 5:01 PM on November 26, 2007


We can have everything if you just love me tonight.
posted by dobbs at 5:03 PM on November 26, 2007


This blog has the entire Attila album for the truly brave:

http://recordrobot.blogspot.com/2007/10/billy-joel-hun.html
posted by GavinR at 5:05 PM on November 26, 2007


Great post.

cell divide, that was my first thought on watching those two Bon Scott videos. They're a dead ringer for Tap's early skiffle and hippie days.

That second Bon Scott clip isn't that bad, btw. It wouldn't have occurred to me before to compare him to Stevie Winwood.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:09 PM on November 26, 2007


Ha ha! Bon looks like a leprechaun! Great post!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:13 PM on November 26, 2007


You know, there are some young whippersnappers for whom it would not be old news to mention Led Zeppelin in this context...
posted by lodurr at 5:15 PM on November 26, 2007


I don't think Black Sabbath would have gone as far if they'd stuck with the name Polka Tulk.
posted by barjo at 5:16 PM on November 26, 2007


I have the Ministry 12in "Nature of Love" somewhere, but I just bought it because someone told me the woman on the cover is Jeff Pezzati's (Naked Raygun) sister.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 5:16 PM on November 26, 2007


I have new found respect for Billy Joel

Yeah, the way he can chameleon any genre is amazing.

It's.... it's almost as if he has no style of his own- truly talented.
posted by mattoxic at 5:22 PM on November 26, 2007


I had a similar experience as kittens for breakfast with Ministry, just a bit earlier.

In the late '80s I was a junior in high school, listening to Metallica, AC/DC, Corrosion of Conformity... that kind of loud and angry stuff. A friend gave me a Ministry tape, and while I was thinking "Great, these are the guys that did that goofy and useless 'Halloween' pop song", I was pleasantly surprised to find that their sound had evolved a bit.
posted by quin at 5:24 PM on November 26, 2007


These Attila tunes are not that bad. I love the AMG review:

"Many critics, fans, and college students have spent hours debating the serious question of what the worst album in the history of rock actually is. One listen to Attila would provide them with a definitive answer. Attila undoubtedly is the worst album released in the history of rock & roll -- hell, the history of recorded music itself. There have been many bad ideas in rock, but none match the colossal stupidity of Attila. There's a reason why they're the only heavy rock organ-and-drums duo in the history of rock & roll -- it's an atrocious combination. Organ and drum combos work well in jazz, because the musicians know how to balance the dynamics of the two instruments, but in this group of Huns, it becomes an unbearable, unholy noise. Billy Joel decided that the only way a keyboardist could compete with the guitarists popping up in Hendrix's wake was to rig his organ with piles of effects pedals, Leslie organs, distortion, and wah-wah -- and use them all at once while he yells, not sings, and Jon Small flails away haplessly at his drums. It's impossible to make out the riffs, since the organ just sounds like a wall of white noise, and there are no melodies, only shouting. Everything is turned to 11 -- because it's one louder than ten, innit? -- and even when the group tries out a different, slower style, it still sounds the same, because the instrumentation, attack, and effects never change. By the end of the album, it feels as if a drill has punctured the center of your skull -- it's that piercing, painful, and monotonous. Joel has gone on record describing the results as "psychedelic bullsh*t." Remove the word "psychedelic" and you have an accurate description of the album. [By the way, Joel and Small are dressed as Huns on the cover. For some reason, they're standing in a meat locker. It's as if the duo unconsciously knew they were creating the most ridiculous album package in rock & roll history.]"
posted by The Straightener at 5:25 PM on November 26, 2007


Oh come on now. The old angry new wave Ministry DEFINITELY had its place and purpose! Everyday is Halloween* was one of my favorite songs back when I had asymmetrical hair and my mother was terrified that I was turning into a "punker." Nothin' like singing along to an angst-filled song about living with snakes & lizards and people being scared of you to freak out your parents. Ahhh, good times.

*I still remember that whole album, actually.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:26 PM on November 26, 2007


I should've put "angry" in quotes. Since they were too synthy to ACTUALLY sound particularly angry in comparison to how they sounded later. But for white bread San Diego parents, they did the trick.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:29 PM on November 26, 2007


Okay, Blackjack is the weakest sauce on the shelf, which is not terribly surprising.
posted by The Straightener at 5:30 PM on November 26, 2007


I actually kind of like the Attilla album. and I've heard other tracks off it. 'California Flash' is good.
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on November 26, 2007


"seasons of change" (2nd Bon Scott link) is one of the best prog songs from australia- it's a classic you still hear on the radio there. he's also playing bassoon at the end of the clip- fantastic!
posted by bhnyc at 5:42 PM on November 26, 2007


Anybody who thinks that Every Day is Halloween is Ministry's lowest point has never head With Sympathy.
posted by lekvar at 5:44 PM on November 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Um, that should be "has never heard..."
posted by lekvar at 5:48 PM on November 26, 2007


And, while we're on the subject, here's Al and the boys doing a perfectly straight cover of Friend of the Devil in 1994.
posted by lekvar at 5:51 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, it is a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:54 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love that Blackjack wrestled a 60" gong to the top of a building for the video...because it totally made that video not suck for me...just seeing the gong sit there...unused, so rock.
kind of like hauling a concert grand piano onto a freaking butte
posted by greenskpr at 5:55 PM on November 26, 2007


Yes, admitting I once listened to new wave Ministry to freak out my parents is obviously a bit embarrassing since they did basically suck. But I'm ok with that. Because I was young. And my hair was asymmetrical. So I was not exactly at my most brilliant place in life. So I embraced their suckage.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:56 PM on November 26, 2007


misslynster don't apologize, I hadn't heard 'work for love' in like 20 years until just now. I loved it. You know there's a squad of early-40, late-30 somethings here that know exactly what was was cool back then even if it only was for a moment.
posted by greenskpr at 6:05 PM on November 26, 2007


lynnster that is
posted by greenskpr at 6:06 PM on November 26, 2007


Iommi pretty much always harbored some pop inclinations (cheesy fan vid), although I'm not sure I would call Jethro Tull particularly examplary of "pop." I mean, I'm sure I wouldn't.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:07 PM on November 26, 2007


"Blackjack is not a gamble. It's straightforward rock and roll, number one, first class, okay? Blackjack: a smash."

Priceless.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:08 PM on November 26, 2007


Awesome post.
posted by parki at 6:11 PM on November 26, 2007


On a different note... I had NO clue Bon Scott sang Build Me Up Buttercup. Wow.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:11 PM on November 26, 2007


All I really remember about new wave era Ministry is my friend Ben ranting about how a bunch of kids from Minneapolis were singing with bad fake British accents. That and some video that got airplay about five times on MTV in 1983.
posted by lodurr at 6:12 PM on November 26, 2007


Adding to which: Avant-electro-psych-soul-folk mastermind Warn Defever (aka His Name Is Alive) began as the feather-haired bassist for Elvis Hitler.
posted by mykescipark at 6:14 PM on November 26, 2007


Holy crap, this post fucking ROCKS!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:26 PM on November 26, 2007


"Take a look at
my ice cream cone baby
go ahead take a lick
can't wait
to take you home
beat you with my stick"

- Pantera - "I am the Night" (1985)
posted by dr_dank at 6:35 PM on November 26, 2007


More love for early Ministry! My favorite early 90's college party game was... "this is your life, you idolize this band, here's a song of theirs from the mid 80's... first person to name the band gets a beer." The usual outcome was like a rule-34 raping of childhood, utter disbelief. muahahaha.

Aside from Jesus Built My Hotrod and Loss For Words, I prefer new-age electro-synth Metallica. Get off my lawn!
posted by zengargoyle at 6:46 PM on November 26, 2007


I'm just going to keep my mouth shut. Here is some early Bon Scott (1967-1972) if you are interested. Its from my personal stash, about 8 songs, probably won't leave it up for to long. You might enjoy My Old Man's A Groovy Old Man.
posted by Sailormom at 6:51 PM on November 26, 2007


I spent the summer of 1992 on Lollapalooza, and so ended up intersecting with Al Jourgensen many times, mostly in the context of drinking alcohol. He and Eddie Vedder were having a running contest to see who could consume the most "bile beer" that resulted from my stage act. Al was a most charming host, dispensing Bushmills whiskey shots from the cap of the bottle to whomever would drop by. I may have acquired cold sores this way... He always carried TWO bottles of Bushmills, each held in the holster-like side pockets of his official "grunge" cut-offs. Barker and Rieflin were the more cerebral, sedate of the lot, and seemed to incur less road hazard. I spent a lot of time with Mike Scaccia as well, bless his heart. Later that same year, Al brought William S. Burroughs backstage to one of our performances in Lawrence Kansas. Burroughs was highly intoxicated...

When I would inflate a hot water bottle until it burst as part of my act I would always feign near the beginning that I couldn't do it: A microphone would be thrust into my face and I would apologize; "man, I was partying with Ministry last night"...

Good times, good times.

It wasn't until I got back to Seattle after the tour was over that I heard "Work For Love", and damn near had spasms from laughing so hard! Years later, when I found the video on YouTube, I again experienced the same mixture of jaw-dropping amazement and milk-out-the-nose laughter.

Ah, the memories! Great post!
posted by Tube at 6:53 PM on November 26, 2007 [4 favorites]


I do so love Elvis Hitler. Their entire album Supersadomasochisticexpialidocious is excellent, and the do, hands down, the best. cover. ever. of Yummy Yummy Yummy.

When I was working in my college radio station, they came to town to play this little dive of a stage in downtown Milwaukee. We were incredibly excited (and this from a bunch of jaded DJs who were seeing two or three shows a week). We were naturally very disappointed to discover that the local paper had listed the wrong time, and no one was at the bar except the band, a couple of us from the station, some regulars, and the bar owner.

The worst part is, that the band didn't care, they wanted to play anyway, and would do it for free, but the owner said no.

Fucker.

Still, we got to shoot the shit and drink with them for a couple of hours, which was pretty great. I still regret never getting to hear them live, though.
posted by quin at 6:57 PM on November 26, 2007


Surely everyone has seen mr Reznor's 80's roots?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:58 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Best way to irk a Tori Amos fan: send them the Y Kant Tori Read clip.
posted by not_on_display at 7:00 PM on November 26, 2007


Well, Ministry has less to be embarrassed about than Ricky Gervais does, really. (Seona Dancing was trying awfully hard to be Ultravox or something.)
posted by miss lynnster at 7:16 PM on November 26, 2007


We all had our 'troubled and poorly-styled hair' phase, even musicians.

So cut their wardrobe and grooming choices some slack...otherwise I will make it my personal quest to find and post all of your sophomore-year high school portraits.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:20 PM on November 26, 2007


I remember Michael "Bolotin" touring rock clubs in Connecticut in the ’70s.

And of course there's Kenny Rogers, acid rocker.
posted by stargell at 7:36 PM on November 26, 2007


AC/DC antidote to Bon Scott's saccharine early days: Problem Child.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:58 PM on November 26, 2007


Hey, stargel, that Kenny Rogers clip is gold. Good find. Dig the flanging on those backing vocals. And that little tag ending on the song... brilliant. Actually hadn't heard that tune in years.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2007


It is probably only a sign of my advanced decrepitude that I am apparently alone in going fanboy over the presence of a member of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, but holy crap that is fucking awesome.

(Didn't see you guys at Lollapalooza, but I did see the show at -- I think -- the Phantasy in Cleveland back in '92. Awesome, awesome, awesome.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:13 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Kenny Rogers sang that originally, even though I know my dad liked the First Edition.

Of course the ONLY thing that song really makes me think of is this, though.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:14 PM on November 26, 2007


And I totally remember Jim Rose too...
posted by miss lynnster at 8:15 PM on November 26, 2007


greenskpr,
I am huge fan of the epic-lame, and that clip was Manowar-level epic-lame.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:22 PM on November 26, 2007


the summer of 1992 on Lollapalooza
What about Ice-T playing heavy metal...
posted by thomcatspike at 8:29 PM on November 26, 2007


cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy was once in a New Wave band called Images in Vogue (big single: Lust for Love (youtube), you might remember the song). Skinny Puppy also made the reputation of Nettwerk, who now specialize in groups like Barenaked Ladies, Sarah Mclaughlan and Avril Lavigne. (Yeah, Nettwerk also has Datarock, Billy Talent, Sum 41 and so on, but nobody matches the extremism of Skinny Puppy.) I also read somewhere but I can't find it now, that Nettwerk was created solely to record and distribute Skinny Puppy and continued on due to the massive success of S.P.
posted by ashbury at 8:34 PM on November 26, 2007


the summer of 1992 on Lollapalooza
What about Ice-T playing heavy metal...


I think that was 1991, but I did see Soundgarden cover Cop Killer one time on the 92 Lollapalooza tour. Cool, but strange...
posted by Tube at 8:49 PM on November 26, 2007


I am huge fan of the epic-lame, and that clip was Manowar-level epic-lame

say it with me......Tesh.
posted by greenskpr at 8:57 PM on November 26, 2007


It is probably only a sign of my advanced decrepitude that I am apparently alone in going fanboy over the presence of a member of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, but holy crap that is fucking awesome.

Actually I'm right there with you. I was just explaining to my boyfriend that for some reason that is so much cooler to me than having "dude from mythbusters" on here. (I'm a little tipsy, so in my excitement I couldn't even remember his name.)
posted by primalux at 1:02 AM on November 27, 2007


Hi Tube. I remember the Lawrence, KS show you're talking about. I was there, at Liberty Hall and remember being really surprised to see Al on the stage. My date and I got a chance to meet him and he signed my copy of Psalm 69. "All Dirt! Love, Al" That made my 21 year old self all too excited.

And that was a really great show. Can still remember Mr. Lifto and those beautiful prince alberts like it was yesterday. Can also remember the smell of the bile beer from the front row. The sour aroma of nostalgia...
posted by pandaharma at 1:34 AM on November 27, 2007


The internet should keep the seventies from ever happening again.
posted by srboisvert at 2:53 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


dr_dank is right about Pantera's first four albums of glam-rockery. Having an album called "Power Metal" didn't help with the "tough" image they wanted to have. I think these albums weren't even included in their official discography.

King Diamond used to play like Deep Purple.
posted by ersatz at 5:06 AM on November 27, 2007


I vaguely remember Ministry's synth-pop days, but man, YouTube is awesome:

Ministry - So So Life (live) - 1983

Al Jourgensen looks like a cross between the host of 120 Minutes and Snake from Degrassi Junior High.
posted by Bugbread at 6:00 AM on November 27, 2007


Not to completely derail this great thread, but Tube, if you were a part of the Jim Rose group that made it to Sweden in 1993, I'd just like to thank you for a great show at the Hultsfred Festival!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:03 AM on November 27, 2007


Oh, and allow me to add my voice to the "wow, the Tube is on MeFi!" contingent.
posted by Bugbread at 6:42 AM on November 27, 2007


I remember some time after falling in love with Psalm 69 in 9th grade, a friend giving me "12 Inch Singles", saying "I bought this, but I think it's a different 'Ministry' ".

While on the subject, I have to give a shout out to my my pals in boole, who did a faithful yet tounge-in-cheek yet awesome cover of Every Day Is Halloween on their album Pheremones.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:40 AM on November 27, 2007


A friend of mine lived in Chicago in the late 70s/early 80s and had many funny stories about Al J's 'Boy George' phase, etc. Before there was Ministry, Al was in Special Affect. Not quite sure what to call it.
posted by jdfan at 10:34 AM on November 27, 2007


jdfan writes "A friend of mine lived in Chicago in the late 70s/early 80s and had many funny stories about Al J's 'Boy George' phase"

Please share some of them.
posted by Bugbread at 2:34 PM on November 27, 2007


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