Hair, leather, rock and metal – another guilty pleasure

Raking over the embers of last night’s bonfire I was blasting Alice Cooper’s Hey Stoopid at full volume. I suddenly realised how much I still love that totemic rock metal. Bombastic tunes, cheesy lyrics and shock rock videos, that whole rock and metal scene was as significant a part of my growing up as video gaming and roaming round Langdon Hills pretending to be a secret agent. Or cowboy. Or ranger.

I’ve taken to hiding behind the leylandii that shield the bees to do my Wembley Stadium gigs (sod the Arena, aim high, I say),  belting out the lyrics to Snakebite or Might As Well Be On Mars as I put on my bravura combined air-guitar and vocalist performance.

So here are some of my favourites.

Guns N’Roses are the band that blew me away as a kid. I couldn’t believe I was buying a record that was so damn daring, with its shock art cover and warning stickers. I bought it in Woolworths of all places and legged it home like I was carrying contraband. In 1991 I got to saw them live on their Use Your Illusion tour, 31st August 1991 at Wembley Stadium, just before the UK release of the double album. Nothing’s touched it since and the thrill of hearing Welcome To The Jungle live still makes me tingle when I think about it. Now… What about that reunion tour?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I was first introduced to Alice Cooper by an old Liberal I used to nip round to see after school. He was the sort of guy that had the broken carcasses of electronic items from CD players to TVs and old computers stacked around the room. I remember how, one day when I turned up to play the latest Amiga releases, he had a flickering old VHS playing: Alice Cooper’s 1976 Welcome To My Nightmare concert film. It wasn’t until Trash and Hey Stoopid that I really got him. Feed My Frankenstein, which was featured in the 1992 film Wayne’s World, has one of the sleaziest guitar breaks in the world ever.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cycling down to see my mate Jon, there was only one song to be listening to: Whitesnake’s Still Of The Night. For a pair of hormonal teenagers, there really was nothing quite like David Coverdale, owner of the biggest double entendre in rock, rasping out “In the still of the night, I hear the wolf howl, honey, sniffing around your door…”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I don’t mind admitting that Iron Maiden scared the life out of me. Eddie, their giant skeletal mannequin used to creep me out. But as is the way with rebellious teenagers, even politely rebellious ones like me, the sheer cool of wearing t-shirts with a grinning cadaver on the front won out over the potential for scary dreams. From Paul Di’Anno’s spikey howl on tracks like Phantom Of The Opera and Murders In The Rue Morgue, to Bruce Dickinson’s wail on Number Of The Beast, Aces High and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, and even Blaze Bayley’s brief interlude (formerly of Wolfsbane), Maiden are iconic metallers capable of blasting out fist-pumping anthems year after year. Fear Of The Dark is a particular favourite…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Waiting back stage for a school production in 1988, covered in pancake and eyeliner, Pete, the dodgy aloof rocker type, came up and slipped me a tape: “Listen to that. It’ll blow you away.” That was my introduction to arguably one of the best metal records of all time: Operation: Mindcrime by Queensrÿche. After the wired-to-the-moon bombast of the likes of Hawkwind, concept albums were on a bit of a downer amid the likes of Poison, Bon Jovi etc. Mindcrime was different. A visceral, stark story of madness, revolution, drugs, sex and death it was the most exciting thing I’d heard (since the last most exciting thing I’d heard). Seeing them live at the Hammy O (Hammersmith Odeon) was one of the high points of my 1980s rock metal epiphany.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

There was another band who was rarely far from my Aiwa Walkman in the 1980s and 1990s. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was when I learned that Def Leppard were from Sheffield in the UK (!). They should have been American as far as I was concerned. It’s only with hindsight that I realised it was a badge of honour to have a British band that could sound like a seriously big-ticket US stadium band. I only ever bothered with Pyromania and Hysteria. Perhaps someone will tell me if I missed out…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So that’s it for now. When I am feeling braver, perhaps I’ll post my favourite tracks from W.A.S.P., Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction and Manowar.

But not today!

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