Metal Essentials II: Leather and Bell Bottoms (1976 - 1979) - News Of the World vs At Budokan

vote for your FAVORITE album

  • Hello There

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  • Come On Come On

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  • Big Eyes

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  • Need Your Love

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  • Goodnight Now

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  • Total voters
    4
  • This poll will close: .

Mosh

The years just pass like trains
Staff member
Unsurprisingly, Sin After Sin beats Images At Twilight. After two thrashings in a row, we come to a round that will perhaps be less slightly less lopsided. For this round, we will be looking at two bands that had un undeniably heavy sound, influenced many Metal bands to come, had a couple one-off hits, and yet did not really receive the same mainstream recognition as other rock bands in the late 70s. I am talking about the Irish rockers Thin Lizzy and the Deep Purple spinoff Rainbow.

Rainbow made an appearance in the last game where they underperformed against Deep Purple. Rising was released in 1976, just a year after the debut, but a ton had changed since then and the difference shows in the music. Blackmore fired most of the band, save for vocalist Ronnie James Dio. The new band consisted of Jimmy Bain on bass, Cozy Powell on drums, and Tony Carey on keys. The addition of a keyboard player was a huge move toward expanding Rainbow’s sound. While the previous album had more traditional keyboard sounds like organ and piano, Rising included more modern sounds achieved by synthesizers. It allowed Rainbow’s sound to be differentiated from the bluesy roots of Deep Purple and also brought in an element of progressive rock to the mix. Further expanding the sonic palette of Rainbow was the addition of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra on Rising. Appropriately, the musical style also advanced from the straightforward rock found on most of Rainbow’s debut. Rising is more progressive, varied, and relies on dynamics over hooks. Instrumental passages are mostly through composed rather than bluesy jams that at times seem aimless. The songs are also longer in many cases. Of course the centerpiece of all this is Stargazer, which is widely seen as the greatest Rainbow song and a highlight in the careers of everyone involved. Stargazer was probably our first real glimpse of Dio’s lyrical and vocal genius. He really belts it out on this track and, along with the band and orchestra, really drives the climax at the end. Cozy Powell also makes his mark on the iconic drum intro. Finally, Ritchie Blackmore gets the chance to fully shed his bluesy side in exchange for a more neoclassical style that he never really got to explore in Purple. Rising is a triumph for the band.

Rising was perhaps a creative peak for Ritchie Blackmore, as his career took a more commercial turn not long after Rising before he pretty much completely abandoned the rock world. For Dio, however, this was just the beginning. The pair would go on to record one more album together with a slightly different lineup before Dio left due to creative differences. It wasn’t long before Dio was picked up by Black Sabbath, but that is another part of the story. Blackmore continued with a more commercial version of Rainbow featuring a variety of different vocalists including Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner. These versions of Rainbow saw some more mainstream success, but the post-Dio material hasn’t quite endured among fans. Rainbow broke up several times for various reasons, but is currently active as a live act with Ronnie Romero on vocals.

While I’m not sure what impact Thin Lizzy had in Europe, most North Americans probably know them as a one or two hit wonder. Criminally underrated with a wealth of material that is just not very well known. Despite that, their sound is still iconic. Phil Lynott’s unmistakeable vocal style, the thundering rhythm section including Lynott on bass, and, of course, the twin guitar attack that would be adapted by many a NWOBHM band. Like Deep Purple, there was a lot of blues influence, but it was mixed with a unique style that was reliant on extremely heavy guitar riffs. Not quite a Metal band, but they had riffs worthy of the likes of Iommi. The band’s most significant taste of commercial success came in 1976 with the release of Jailbreak. The title track and The Boys Are Back In Town both proved to be hits for the band and is still heard frequently on the radio today. Cowboy Song and Emerald, while not as famous, would go on to be live favorites. Emerald in particular is an example of how heavy this band could get. Similar riffing would be heard by bands like Iron Maiden many years later. The album also made it to the top 10 in the UK charts and top 20 in the US, their biggest success in the US and one of their biggest successes in the UK. The commercial success may have come at the expense of artistic vision, however. Lynott was interested in creating an anti-war album. Management had other ideas in mind and were more interested in seeing some commercial success for the band after a few duds. The band’s management suggested that Lynott fine tune the songs to be more commercial. Some songs, such as Warriors, maintained the concept. Others, like Boys Are Back In Town, went from epic war tales to party rock anthems. Perhaps all for the better, as this was a huge breakthrough for Thin Lizzy.

Thin Lizzy followed up with a successful live album and a few more albums that saw varying levels of success. Unfortunately, nothing quite hit the same level as Jailbreak and the band quickly fell apart due to personal issues and drugs. After Lizzy broke up in the early 80s, Phil Lynott had a few unsuccessful stabs at a solo career. There were then talks of a Thin Lizzy reunion just months before his death in 1986 due to drug-related illnesses. The rest of the band reformed for several one-offs throughout the years with a variety of different lineups and vocalists (including one version fronted by John Sykes). They picked up steam in the 2010s and began writing new material. However, they decided to release it under the name Black Star Riders out of respect for Lynott. They are currently working on their fourth album.

All songs from Rising are included, but I had to make a few cuts from Jailbreak to make it even. There weren’t any survivors to go off of, so I went with a judgment call on this. The most popular songs are still included.
 

Cornfed Hick

Ancient Mariner
Wow, that last matchup is a doozy, gotta give "Emerald" a slight edge (it's my favorite Lizzy song) but both songs are classics. "The Boys Are Back In Town" wins easily, as it's also a classic and "Do You Close Your Eyes" is the only misstep on the Rising album (a Blackmore/Dio song about sex just doesn't work...sorta creepy and weird). Rainbow wins the other matchups, and thus my ballot, 4-2.
 

mckindog

Living for Sanctuary from the law
Staff member
I HATE this match-up so much.
Two of my all-time faves pitted in the first round?

I see you cut out Phil’s more romantic leanings for this one; probably the right call for a metal game, but it does rob Lizzy neophytes of an important slice of what made the band special. Romeo has one of Gorham’s tastiest solos, so melodic with perfect tone, Fight or Fall or is one of my favourite ballads of all-time - reserved, mournful with another delicious solo, and Running Back is irresistible hooky pop song.

Its depth and variety of tones is what gives Jailbreak the edge for me. I’ll see if that holds up six on six.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
Fuckin hell, tough match!

Tarot Woman
Angel from the Coast
Warriors
The Boys are back in Town
Stargazer
Emerald

The only answer I'm 100% that I won't change my mind on is Boys are Back v Do you close your Eyes.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
These are some very, very easy votes across the board. Rising demolishes Jailbreak in every match except for "The Boys Are Back in Town", which is far superior to one of the weakest Rainbow songs.
 

Whooten

Ancient Mariner
I don't like Rainbow and for the life of me cannot figure out why. I like Dio, I like Dio with Sabbath, I like Deep Purple. Something just doesn't click.
 

Niall Kielt

Pulled Her At The Bottle Top
3-3
Jailbreak
Run With The Wolf
Starstruck
The Boys Are Back In Town
Stargazer
Emerald

I don't think Lizzy's importance can be overstated in terms of the development of metal. , The twin lead, the stage presence, the live aggression. They really are a great band but I rarely listen to full albums. The 'depth and variety of tone' that mckindog talks about leads to the albums being inconsistent, to me. Although I agree this variety is an important part of the band and will probably come as a surprise to those who only know the big hitters. Phil's voice and the playing keep me interested on Lizzy's softer moments but really, for me, Romeo and Fight or Fall have no place on an album that features Jailbreak and Emerald. I don't mind the former songs but this variety is what keeps me from coming back to most Lizzy albums.
So as an album I prefer Rising but Lizzy's high points make this a worthy draw.
 

Confeos

Game time started.
Tarot Woman vs Jailbreak
Run With the Wolf vs Angel from the Coast
Starstruck
vs Warriors
Do You Close Your Eyes vs The Boys Are Back in Town
Stargazer
vs Cowboy Song
A Light in the Black vs Emerald

3-3 draw.
Both bands at the peak of their powers (though I still consider Black Rose Lizzy's best album), so I'd say it's a fair cop.
 

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
Rising all the way except for "The Boys Are Back in Town". It was a tough call for "A Light in the Black" though. "Jailbreak" would have won against "Run With The Wolf" I think.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
Rising all the way except for "The Boys Are Back in Town". It was a tough call for "A Light in the Black" though. "Jailbreak" would have won against "Run With The Wolf" I think.
For me Jailbreak would have won against Run with the Wolf, Starstruck and Do You Close Your Eyes. Cowboy Song would have won against any other track (although I'd add the caveat that I'm talking about the Live and Dangerous version).

A Light in the Black would have won against anything else except Boys are Back and Cowboy Song, Starstruck would have beat Angel from the Coast.

And Emerald is the best song in the list.
 

Niall Kielt

Pulled Her At The Bottle Top
Cowboy Song would have won against any other track (although I'd add the caveat that I'm talking about the Live and Dangerous version).
In terms of Live and Dangerous versions, I prefer Jailbreak and Emerald live but both are still great recorded. Warriors has a different flavour, both are good, not sure which I prefer but the major difference comes with Cowboy Song. The live version is far superior to the recorded version, in my opinion.

And Emerald is the best song in the list.
Word.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
In terms of Live and Dangerous versions, I prefer Jailbreak and Emerald live but both are still great recorded. Warriors has a different flavour, both are good, not sure which I prefer but the major difference comes with Cowboy Song. The live version is far superior to the recorded version, in my opinion.
And the segue into Boys are Back is one of the greatest moments on any live album, up there with "scream for me long beach" and "angus angus [whole lotta rosie riff] angus angus"
 

Mosh

The years just pass like trains
Staff member
Rising predictably beats Jailbreak, but Jailbreak put up a surprisingly tough fight. 4-2 but Stargazer was the only blowout.

From the very beginning, the guitar was vital to defining the sound of Metal music. It was in large part Tony Iommi’s low tuned sludgy guitar riffs that transformed Black Sabbath from a blues rock band to the creators of Heavy Metal. As the genre continued to evolve throughout the 70s, the importance of the guitar remained one of the genre’s few constants. Many of the innovations in guitar over the next couple decades were within the realm of Metal and the concept of “shred guitar” would even infect pop music. For this week’s round of Metal Essentials, we’re looking at two particularly guitar heavy bands that had a hand in the instrument’s development over the course of the next decade. Both bands were somewhat underground in the 70’s before really exploding in the 80s. Both bands additionally had a huge influence on the Glam Metal movement in America during the mid to late 80s and could even be considered as being at least tangentially involved in the style. Their music was filled with poppy hooks that made it accessible to wide audiences, but had heavy riffs and guitar shredding that would appeal to Metal purists. Of course I’m talking about Van Halen and Scorpions.

Hailing from Pasadena California, Van Halen were the ultimate party rock band. They sung about dancing the night away and beautiful girls on the California beaches, David Lee Roth had a huge onstage personality that often made up for average vocal talents. Michael Anthony played a bass shaped like a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and many of the band’s songs dealt with drinking and partying. Party rock bands in the California area weren’t unusual at the time, but there were several factors that set Van Halen apart from everyone else. Musically they had more to offer than most other garage rock bands, mostly thanks to Eddie Van Halen. Eddie and his brother Alex were immigrants from the Netherlands. Their father Jan was a working musician, so the two were brought up in a musical household. As a result, Eddie’s influences are a little more unique than the standard rock/blues fare that many of his contemporaries listened to. The rock roots are still heard in his playing, but there’s the added addition of classical composers such as Roldolphe Kreutzer and jazz fusion players like Allen Holdsworth. As a band, Van Halen spent a lot of time in the clubs honing their live show. They were able to learn popular songs by other bands quickly in order to build their repertoire. They were also influenced by Metal, particularly Black Sabbath. In fact, one of their very first high profile tours was as an opening act to Black Sabbath.

The early Van Halen is definitely the band at its most raw. The first album isn’t the heaviest, but it has its moments. Alex is an aggressive drum player (although not without groove) and Eddie has a really thick guitar tone. Even on a standard pop rock tune like Feel Your Love Tonight, the guitar and drums are pretty heavy. There are also songs like Atomic Punk and On Fire that show the band’s more aggressive side (equally influenced by the emerging American Punk rock scene). With that being said, the songs on the first Van Halen album are mostly characterized by catchy hooks, guitar wizardry, and the band’s infectious energy. I mostly speak of the guitar playing in particular because it was Eddie’s innovative playing that had the biggest effect on the Metal community. By the early 80’s, it was hard to find a Metal guitarist who wasn’t using techniques popularized on the first Van Halen album. Even the thick and effects-laden guitar sound would become standard in just a few years. Van Halen I was arguably the first album that brought the idea of “shred” guitar to the forefront of rock and metal music. The emerging shred community would historically be most active within Metal.

Way on the other side of the Atlantic, in Germany to be precise, was another band that impacted Metal perhaps more than they were an actual Metal band. Their history is much longer than Van Halen’s though and not as straightforward. They were formed by Rudolph Schenker in 1965 and released their first album in 1972. It was a far cry from the sound they would eventually develop, being more in the realm of psychedelic rock. There were a multitude of different lineups throughout the early years (including one featuring Uli Jon Roth on guitar, who would have his own career in the neoclassical realm). By Lovedrive in 1979, the band weren’t much closer to a stable lineup but they had signed to a new record label and were beginning to see more interest and promotion. Their sound had also finally evolved into the Hard Rock/Metal style they are best known for. Around this time, Michael Shenker left UFO and rejoined Scorpions (he was briefly in the band earlier in the 70s). His tenure was not long, however, but he did contribute a few songs and recorded parts. He was in and out of the band for a few months before being permanently replaced by Matthias Jabs.

Lovedrive was a big moment for Scorpions. The songs are filled with hooky riffs and catchy choruses. The music is accessible to a large audience but also had a lot of appeal to the Metal crowd. Also like Van Halen, the guitar riffs are heavy and there’s some really impressive playing. The twin guitar attack of Scorpions is not unlike what was heard in Judas Priest. Lots of twin harmonies and double tracked riffs that achieve a huge guitar sound. Songs like the title track and Another Piece of Meat also showcases the band’s heavier side. The unpredictable structure of Loving You Sunday Morning is also something that would be typical of a Metal band.

Both bands blur the lines between Hard Rock and Metal, feature infectious tunes, and have a huge sound. Both bands also went on to be arena rock monsters in the 80s. These two albums show the bands in their more humble and raw days, but many Metal “purists” stand by each as the best things by the respective artists. Which one does Maidenfans prefer?

All songs from Lovedrive are represented. The last two songs from Van Halen I were omitted per survivor results.
 

The Dissident

Ancient Mariner
Lovedrive is an essentially perfect album. Van Halen isn't a band which I'm much of a fan of so this doesn't surprise me much at all....

[10] Loving You Sunday Morning V Runnin' With The Devil [9]
[10] Another Piece Of Meat V Eruption/You Really Got Me [9]
[10] Always Somewhere V Ain't Talkin Bout Love [10]
[10] Coast To Coast V I'm The One [7.5]
[10] Can't Get Enough V Jamie's Cryin [7.5]
[8] Is There Anybody There? V Atomic Punk [7]
[9] Lovedrive V Feel Your Love Tonight [8]
[10] Holiday V Little Dreamer [7.5]

7-1-0 For the Germans​
 

Shadow

Deluxe Edition
Staff member
Romeo has one of Gorham’s tastiest solos, so melodic with perfect tone,
It also has a chorus that sounds desperate in every sense of the word: "Oooh poor Romeo, sitting all on his own-ee-oh..."

It seems I'm a few minutes too late to vote in the Lizzy-Rainbow showdown, but it's not like my votes (all Lizzy except "Tarot Woman" and "Stargazer" would have made any difference. Two very good albums, in any case.

And now for two albums I've never heard before...
 

Cornfed Hick

Ancient Mariner
Wow, this is a tough matchup. Two monster records. Out of the gate, I think Van Halen should probably win, and historically it is the more important record, but track-by-track, I dunno. I know both albums very well already, but I want to give them a fresh side-by-side listen before voting, as this might be a close one.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
I don't have Lovedrive so I'm going to abstain as I always do when I'm much more familiar with one of the albums, but going by the tracks I know from World Wide Live, Van Halen are going to smash this, and I don't mean that to sound as an insult to Scorpions but VH1 was a revolutionary album.
 

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
It is a tie:
Runnin' With The Devil/ Eruption-You Really Got Me/ Ain't Talkin' Bout Love/ Jamie's Crying
Coast To Coast/ Is There Anybody There?/ Lovedrive/ Holiday
I guess VH would win if "Ice Cream Man" were pitted against "Cause I Love You" (from the 2015 reedition).
 
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