Tape Wyrm XXXVII: Early Metal Tape Wyrm XXXVII: Early Metal

37aGranddad Metal

This is my third article dedicated to early metal. Third. The first was dedicated to a general overview of heavy metal’s early days. The second was co authored by Deathofthesun and Zeaglefiend where we focused on the expansive years of 1968 to 1971. I have at least three more ideas for future articles on this topic. Perhaps I am just trying to corner the internet search term for “proto-metal.” Or become a local celebrity for my research while waiting for VH1 to contact me for a 15 second discussion on UFO. Perhaps this obsession will end when I stop finding more goddamn amazing things from the late 60’s and early 70’s. I feel like I am 65. Granddad Metal forever. I am tired and it’s only 9:30 pm.

Out of all the heavy metal styles, the birth and formative years of it have been the most interesting for me to research. I have said in the past that I cherish the lax regulations in terms of classification. Back before things would get understandably more complicated with developed styles and subgenres, early metal resembled an open frontier. It had a fresh freedom and youthful spirit when it took its place along other styles, resting in a nebulous cloud of heavy psych, hard prog, fuzzy rock and various branches of forward thinking rock and roll. Few things mattered in the early days of metal like they do today. While I certainly admire most of heavy metal’s eventual directions, I feel that the simplicity of its youth cannot be understated enough. Raw power was its only compass and it really didn’t matter what the bands did, just as long as it was heavy and filled with energy. It was the attitude of the open frontier, which set its own rules and determined its own future. The attitude of handsome cowboys and endless skies. Again, my mind has been lost for quite some time.

I do not think, up until now, I really understood what was happening in the time of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Actually, I do not think I will ever fully understand, but at least now my connections are more clear than in years past. Albums like IV, Paranoid, and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida were once just slots on classic rock stations but now I think I understand their place. I still do not like everything from this time period, or even think classic rock radio is a valid form or entertainment, but I feel I am starting to grasp this time’s complexity and narrative. My research into early metal illuminates the fact that any time period is dense and varied given the right amount of attention. Well, expect for 1152. Fuck that year.

The below recommendation list is but the start of a seemly endless landscape of great hard psych and heavy metal records of the late 60’s and 70’s. I have updated my original proto-metal playlist on Spotify and now offer you a YouTube playlist which I will update in eventual articles. My early metal playlist sits beside others of equal size including my surf/garage/psych playlist as well as my kraut/space/glam/prog collection. Again, I have lost my mind. I wonder if I will be able to discover time travel and buy a van. You see, I only make jokes to mask the slight sting if disappointment when I know that will never be a possibility. I wasn’t joking about the VH1 interview. I’ll comb my hair for that.

Proto Metal (65-75) Spotify

Proto Metal / Heavy Psych / Hard Rock Playlist

Clear Light – Clear Light (1967)

You know what, I may be way off on my assessment of early metal but Clear Light’s only album is worth mentioning. It is great and when seen in the right light, or after a few tumblers of whiskey, it can be early metal. Don’t fight this, just let it happen. This record saw mild commercial success almost breaking the billboard 100 at the time. Though a stricly psychedelic record, with elements of folk and classical, its darkening edges made it memorable enough for one guy to indluge into in 2013. This record is also home to an odd and violent cover of Tom Paxtan’s folk song “Mr. Blue.” Everything was up in the air in 1967. Have some more whiskey…maybe some acid.

Bent Wind – Sussex (1969)

Hey, who knew Canada was so hip in the late 60’s? I mean, besides being home to political refugees and draft dodgers? Heavy psych from the land up north produced one amazing record before not doing anything for two decades. This is the sound you need in your life. With the right amount of low fidelity and layers of reverb and fuzz, Bent Wind’s debut Sussex is a testament to the power of heavy psych. Also, since there is almost no information about this band, there does exist one first hand account of Bent Wind written by one of the members. I think the members may still be available for interviews and Sunday barbecues.

Mount Rushmore – Mount Rushmore 69 (1969)

San Francisco. 1969. A historical time period for bands like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Blue Cheer, 13 Floor Elevators, Janis Joplin, as well as a tons of other bands that would be forgotten come 5 years. Mount Rushmore put everything on the line. Heavy psychedelic rock with no subtlety regarding drug use or the fact that they were just wandering out in cosmic space. If anyone is interested in more Haight Ashbury hard psych denizens there are, of course, numerous compilations from this time that provide a clearer picture than band member’s own memories.

Crow – Crow Music (1969)

Crow is known for their one hit “Evil Woman,” which was later covered by Black Sabbath as one of their first singles. Crow’s roots in dark blues cannot be mistaken and perhaps provided a healthy influence for Sabbath. Crow’s 1969 release, however, is often overlooked for its other songs, including this dark and emotional number. The album cover also has the band on motorcycles. Aside from this being amazing in its own right, psychedelic music is often mistaken for being passive and soft when it was actually very masculine loud and covered with dirt.

Frijid Pink – Frijid Pink (1970)

Hey, here is another band that is famous for one song. This time it isn’t even theirs. Frijid Pink’s debut has a heavy psych cover of “House of The Rising Sun,” originally made famous by The Animals. I find Frijid Pink’s cover important because it showed the fascination not with lyrical content but the atmosphere of fuzz. At this point heavy metal had already started and the subsequent popularity with heaviness was on. Aside from that one cover, the rest of Frijid Pinks debut is fantastic. Not heavy all the time but in the places in which it counts.

Warpig – Warpig (1970)

Oh Canada you have returned. Upon my research into the term “warpig,” I learned about the ancient military tactic of sending out flaming boars into combat. Hey people of 266 BC, you guys are fucking crazy. I also could not find out which came first, the name of this Canadian hard rock band, or the famous song by Black Sabbath. Usually in a tie it always goes to Sabbath. Warpig’s debut saw a limited original run and then a wider release by Relapse in the 90’s. Is Warpig’s debut as heavy as flaming livestock in the midst of battle? No. Is it decent hard rock with an insatiable groove? Of course.

Speed Glue & Shinki – Eve (1971)

Those who are familiar with Julian Cope’s book Japrocksampler are familiar with Speed Glue & Shinki. Copes exhaustively charts the history of the late 60’s/early 70’s psych rock scene in Japan, which lauded acts like Far East Family Band and Flower Traveling Band. Eve was the Speed Glue & Shinki’s debut, which not only displayed a heavy mixture of blues and acid rock, but also scared the living shit out of everyone in Japan. The commercial failure of Eve lead to the weakening of the band, who limped their way through a sophomore release before dissolving. At their inception? Critical failures. In 2013? Cult legends. Eve as a whole is fantastically heavy and way ahead of its time.

Captain Beyond – Captain Beyond (1972)

Fuck yeah. Captain Beyond is a great example of the marriage between hard rock and progressive. Captain Beyond also sports members of Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly, though this album is by far my favorite among any of these projects. I do not think I can emphasize enough how great this record is and how vital it can be to the understanding of early metal. Heavy, focused, and confident in its ability to travel to distant places. Captain Beyond’s work mirrors the developments of the German krautrock scene in its experimentation and dedication of border-less rock. This album also had a 3d cover, which probably moved. Holy fuck someone build me that time machine.

Jerusalem – Jerusalem (1972)

It seems to be a trend among bands at this time to release one spectacular record and then fade into nothingness. Jerusalem was a British band whose debut and final record was produced by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. Besides having a fantastic cover, Jerusalem embraced what was a “doomy” style of rock and roll. 1972 was enough time for early heavy metal to establish itself but still be open to the possibility of influence. Jerusalem is near perfect in its mixture of groove, heavy atmosphere, and entertaining execution. It’s alright if you never made a second record. This one is perfectly fine to me.

Pluto – Pluto (1972)

Another UK hard rock band subject to immediate dismissal when the 70’s were over. Pluto has a great classic sound with some memorable vocal leads. Unsurprisingly, Pluto did not do anything after this one album — a theme that falls in line with 80% of these bands. I think I may have had a short lived hard rock band in the 70’s. Chances are in my corner.

Coloured Balls – Ball Power (1973)

Alright, I think I could write an entire article on Lobby Loyde. Coloured Balls is a small speck on a large timeline of Australian rock. Loyde appeared in dozens of bands with this particular psych/blues band being only a brief fascination. Coloured Balls released three records in two years and were embraced by an Australian youth gang known as the Sharpies who had a penchant for violence and dressing in nice cardigans. I know, it sounds like I made that up. I did not. If anyone is interested in a historical record that lies on the border of psych, hard rock, and proto-punk step right up and prepare to be goddamn amazed. Let Lobby Loyde take you on a tour of oddly neat violence.

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