October 24, 2018 Playlist

"Ram It Down" by Judas Priest (1988)

Judas Priest "Ram It Down"  1988 (UK)
It's nearly Halloween, which means I like to do a heavy metal themed show, and Judas Priest so far wins the prize this year for being the classic artist of yesteryear who put out a surprisingly vital new album: Firepower (2018) is Priest's 18th album in 45 years, and it's certainly their best album since Painkiller (1990) at least, rivaling the best albums from their period of peak popularity in the 1980's. So this week's CAOTW is an overlooked record from 30 years ago (the first third of their very long career!) Ram is not considered a classic by too many folks, receiving "two stars" from Allmusic.com, and wikipedia notes the album received "negative reviews" upon release. But I find it to be a solid batch of their 80's-style metal anthems with production that is overly slick and "very eighties" in a way that makes it a cool period piece rather than a dated bore. For example the song called "Heavy Metal" begins with an over-the-top guitar solo before a riff kicks in . . . on the synthesizer?! They also do a strangely dramatic rearrangement of Chuck Berry's classic three-chord rocker "Johnny B. Goode" (which I played on the show last month). The story behind this album is that they had originally intended a double album of half synth-driven pop metal, which eventually became the album Turbo (1986), with the other half being heavier songs which eventually became Ram It Down. Though both of those albums are the synthiest and most eighties-ish of their career, Ram is not nearly as wimpy as Turbo (which was a better seller). In fact, coming after that album and Defenders Of The Faith (1984) which is another overly slick record I'm not fond of, Ram seems to me to be a return to form that points directly towards the thrash-inspired Painkiller that followed and rejuvinated their stalling career somewhat (though they stalled again soon after when legendary vocalist Rob Halford quit the band, though he returned in 2005). Fun fact: since guitarist Glenn Tipton is semi-retired due to age affecting his playing, that means bassist Ian Hill is arguably the only constant member of the group since the beginning! He must be the most anonymous musician who's ever been in a major band for almost a half century! (I have long suspected Hill was an inspiration for the character Derek Smalls).
In other news, this week I got to see Public Image Ltd. on their "The Public Image is Rotten" 40th anniversary tour! I've never had a chance to see The Artist Formerly Known As Rotten before, and I must say his "unique" voice sounds as strong as ever, and his current group is one of PIL's best lineups (it's actually 3/4 the same guys as the late 1980's version of the band, tying things back to the CAOTW -- though the records they were making back then aren't as good as the last one they did). This current version of PIL has been playing together since 2009 and is a vital contemporary band, even if most of them are sporting grey hair and bifocals these days!
But wait there's more - that Haru Nemuri chick I keep going on about has released a couple more singles in the last month and is starting to get more attention, including this article in English with interview (I suspected "Haru Nemuri", which translates as "sleeping springtime", was not her real name -- indeed, the gal's name is actually Haruna Kimishima).
(N) = New Release
Artist Song Album Year Country
ChromeAbstract NymphoHalf Machine Lip Moves1979USA
Leaf HoundDrowned My Life In FearGrowers Of Mushroom1971UK
The Flamin' GrooviesTeenage HeadTeenage Head1971USA
Roky Erickson & The AliensCreature With The Atom BrainRoky Erickson & The Aliens1980USA
Blue Oyster CultMonstersCultosaurus Erectus1980USA
Public Image Ltd.This Is PiLThis Is PiL2012UK
Kurt Vile BassackwardsBottle It In (N)2018 (Matador)USA
Death Grips Linda's In CustodyYear Of The Snitch (N)2018 (Third Worlds)USA
Marijuana Deathsquads Last Sunny DayTuff Guy Electronics (N)2018 (Pioneer Works Press)USA
Haru Nemuri I Wannasingle (N)2018 (Perfect)Japan
Judas PriestRam It DownRam It Down
Judas PriestHeavy MetalRam It Down
Judas PriestHard As IronRam It Down
Judas Priest Lightning StrikeFirepower (N)2018 (Epic)UK
MetallicaRide The LightningRide The Lightning1984USA
SlayerLive UndeadSouth Of Heaven1988USA
Black SabbathLive Forever132013UK
BudgieIn For The KillIn For The Kill1974UK (Wales)
Pentagram20 Buck SpinFirst Daze Hererecorded 1973, released 2001USA
SleepThe Clarityweb single2014USA
EpitaphStop, Look and ListenStop, Look and Listen1972Germany
Fuse4/4 3/4Fuse1970USA
Electric FrankensteinThe Land Of The Magic WizardWhat Me Worry?1976Italy
Throbbing GristleDistant Dreams (part two)b-side single1980UK
Aphex Twin T69 collapse (durachroma)Collapse EP (N)2018 (Warp)UK
FEMM Untitled 02 (Work In Progress)Dollhouse EP (N)2018 (FEMM's Agency Syndicate)Japan
Perfume FusionFuture Pop (N)2018 (Universal)Japan
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Todoke PunchJapamyu (N)2018 (Warner Japan)Japan
Guerilla Toss MeteorologicalTwisted Crystal (N)2018 (DFA)USA
Sun RaSomewhere In SpaceOut There A Minuterecorded 1960s?, released 1989USA
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