Category Archives: Music

AC/DC, It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll) (December 1975) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 13

Where do you go after the ambition and complexity of Rush? You go in the opposite direction: strip it all down to essentials. AC/DC were and remain a five-piece band — vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, bass and drums — but they sound far simpler and more straightforward than the trios of Rush or of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

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Rush, Anthem (February 1975) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 12

Like so many of the bands on this list, Rush made a false start: their self-titled debut of 1974 rocked hard but didn’t stand out much from all the other bands influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin. But their drummer John Rutsey quit after recording the album, unwilling to tour. Singer/bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson recruited Neal Peart as his replacement, and the classic line-up was in place. Here’s the lead-off track their from first album, Fly By Night:

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Blue Öyster Cult, Workshop of the Telescopes (January 1972) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 11

It’s hard to know where to start with Blue Öyster Cult, a band very unlike any other in this series. Although they started out (under the name Stalk-Forrest Group) as a psychedelic boogie band and never really sounded at all metal as we now understand the term, they had perhaps more influence on the development of heavy metal than any other single group.

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Black Sabbath addendum — Heavy Metal timeline, part 10a

I realised that last time I forgot to say one of the important things about Black Sabbath. It’s this: that they achieved their greatness not despite, but because of, their limitations.  Ozzy Osbourne couldn’t really sing. Tony Iommi, evaluated technically, was very limited compared with Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore. Geezer Butler wasn’t really a bassist at all, but a guitarist — he had no real idea of what a bassline is supposed to sound like. Put all that together and what you get is … somehow magical.

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Black Sabbath, Paranoid (August 1970) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 10

All right. You knew this one was coming …

Along with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, Black Sabbath make up the great trinity of classic heavy metal bands. In a sense it’s strange that these three should so often be classified together, as they actually sound very different. While Zeppelin were a blues band gone heavy and Deep Purple were a pop group gone heavy, Sabbath were … well, listen to this.

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Deep Purple, Child in Time (June 1970) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 9

If Led Zeppelin’s contribution to the developing sound of hard rock was a blues influence, then Deep Purple’s was a classical influence. More than any other of the pioneering metal bands, Deep Purple were consummate instrumentalists, with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and keyboard player Jon Lord both classically trained and drummer Ian Paice fully their equal for technique.

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MC5, Kick Out the Jams (February 1969) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 8

Meanwhile, just a month after Led Zeppelin’s first album, over in Chicago, the MC5 were giving us this. [Warning: NSFW language at the start]

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