And so, we come to the final part of this series. I hope some of you have enjoyed reading it — it’s been an education to write. This song, to me, is the ultimate destination that all the heavy metal on the timeline has been leading to.
In December 2008, after years of unrequited desire, I bought myself a second hand Lego UCS Imperial Star Destroyer, kit 10030. Because it was missing a handful of pieces, I got it surprisingly cheaply, for the ridiculously cheap price of £160. (That’s the £145 that I bid, plus £25 P&P, minus a tenner that the vendor very kindly unilaterally refunded on finding that it was less expensive to post than they’d thought.)
I topped it up with 77 pence worth of spare pieces from Lego’s pick-a-brick facility (plus £3.25 P&P) and suddenly I had a whole Star Destroyer for £163.25:
And so we come to the 21st and penultimate part of this series. Having written about five songs from 1980, I’m now skipping over the next eleven years because … meh. I’m sure people will point out all the wonderful and important stuff that I’ve missed in that period, but to me it mostly feels like a decade of the same bands doing the same stuff, and other bands coming along and doing the same as they were doing.
Wasn’t 1980 a great year for metal? We have Iron Maiden‘s NWOBHM, Judas Priest‘s radical simplification, Whitesnake‘s last great album before their slide into glam-metal, Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo debut, and now Motörhead’s signature song. Enjoy 1980, because we won’t return to this series until another full decade has passed. But for now, here’s Lemmy:
By 1980, Ozzy Osbourne had been fired from Black Sabbath — ostensibly because of his unreliability. Sabbath would go on to recruit ex-Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio as his replacement and went on to make couple of storming albums (Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules). But what of Ozzy?
When the Beatles split, the solo material that the four ex-members produced was (with the exception of a very few tracks) nowhere near as good as what the band had made together. When Roger Waters left Pink Floyd, he made interesting but sterile albums, and the remainder of the group made beautiful but insubstantial ones: again, the sum of the parts was less than the whole. But as when Peter Gabriel left Genesis, the Ozzy/Sabbath split yielded two parts that both went on to do good things. Here’s Crazy Train from Ozzy’s debut solo outing, Blizzard of Ozz:
And just as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was taking off, so one of the second-wave bands was drifting in a rather different direction. Whitesnake were David Coverdale’s project after the break-up of Deep Purple. By 1980 they’d parlayed their Purple-stable pedigree into a nice position of prominence. Their third album, Ready an’ Willing, give them their first hit single:
Meanwhile, also part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and coming out in the same month as Iron Maiden, we have Judas Priest’s album British Steel. Here’s Breaking the Law, the second (and most successful) single from that album:
By 1980, the classic metal bands were a spent force. Deep Purple had broken up four years earlier; Led Zeppelin were in their death throes, with John Bonham dying in October of 1980; and Black Sabbath were recording with Ronnie James Dio as their singer — a configuration that I like, but which purists didn’t accept as true Black Sabbath. Even second-wave bands like Rainbow were in decline, past both their artistic and commercial peaks, and increasingly moving towards a lightweight pop sound.
Briefly (because I do intend to go back and review all this series’ episodes in a few months, when everyone else isn’t already doing it) …
I love Peter Capaldi’s take on the Doctor, I think that Listen is one of the very best episodes ever, and I thought that Series 8 was shaping up to be the very best of the new series (which for me makes it the best ever).