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Thursday, February 7, 2008

S'March of Metal

The most fun I think I've had with this here blog is when we devoted October to honoring some the power and glory of rock and roll. Some of it was good, a lot of it awful. So I've decided to have a Rocktober in March only with a different focus. Along with my daily sermons, I will be tossing up a new video each day dedicated to the masters of Heavy Metal. Prepare yourself to plundered by acts like Voivod (now the subject of a documentary that was shopepd at Sundance), Iced Earth, Candlemass, King Diamond, Manowar and the majesty of Motorhead. With a nod to the Simpsons, we'll call it the S'March of Metal. So that's coming in March.

Bored beyond belief last night (God, will this tv writers strike NEVER end?), I spent some time surfing the intergoogles. One of the best times of my life was when I was working in a record store on the OSU campus in the late 80s, early 90s. At that time the Columbus music scene was just a geek boys dream. Entertainment Weekly ran an article on Columbus around 1994 or 1995 and proclaimed it as the new Seattle. Sadly, none of the Columbus bands commercially reached the heights of the Screaming Trees, let alone Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains or the overrated Nirvana (yes, its true...I despise Nirvana...tho Dave Grohl is the best thing that ever came out of the Seattle scene...that dude truly loves rock). There were some great bands in Columbus at that time:Gaunt, Pica Huss, the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Scrawl, and the New Bomb Turks.

If you Google Gaunt or the Turks, you'll see that while they missed out on commercial success, they have carved an almost Robert Johnson like reputation among music fans. I believe the Turks still play the odd show from time to time but have ceased recording. Gaunt died when its leader Jerry Wick was killed in an accident a few years back. What made these Columbus bands so great was their love of the music. It was fun, it was passionate and it wasn't taken ever so seriously. It had the soul that was missing in the flannel wearing crap being spewed out like volcanic ash in the Pacific Northwest.

To be sure there were some crap bands in the area....not even the mad skills of former Spiders from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson could make the Toll interesting (sweet Jebus they had an epic song called Jonathon Toledo that should still be brought up on obscenity charges of the worst freaking songs ever). The band I always found most deserving of commercial success was the Royal Crescent Mob (or R.C. Mob, or just the Mob). They were better than Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and while they achieved every bands dream of a major label deal, they were lost in the shuffle at Atlantic and dropped after two releases stiffed on the sales charts (of course, the results might have been different had the label actually spent some money promoting them). Bloody shame. The Mob put on some of the best shows I've ever seen at Stache's (God bless that bar's sweet soul).

Wanna know why the music industry sucks? Blame the people running labels who knew nothing about good music. In the 90's they were so busy trying to latch on to what the "in" thing was they ignored what was good. They forgot they were in the business of selling "music" and reduced it to "product." More than the digital age, bad business sense ruined the music industry. So big deal, Columbus never became the "new Seattle" as EW said it would. It was a better place. Seattle was like the beginning of the Wizard of Oz, all drab and gray, while Columbus was Oz. It was alive with something magical...provided the beer was cold, the bar cramped, and the PA was good.

This part of today's post while dealing with music out of Columbus didn't really fit in with the previously mentioned stuff so I'll use the cliche of typing it in italics to make it stand apart....Willie Phoenix has been a staple of the Columbus music scene since gas cooled, rock formed and dinosaurs roamed the Earth. I always suspected Willie could have had a great career had his picture not graced the cover of his first record. It was straight ahead heartland rock but the cover shot of an African American with dreads surely lead radio programmers to dismiss him as a reggae artist. Shame. Dude threw a good party live and played tasty guitar.

Were the Godz truly a Columbus band? I know guitar player Mark Chatfield was a Columbus area native. QFM 96 was an early supporter but I seem to remember WMMS in Cleveland was also a big backer. I put those two Godz records up there with any rock albums ever. Never has a band had a more appropriate name. Motley Crue still loves to portray themselves as the bad boys of rock..crap Eric Moore has probably pissed out things badder than Nikki Sixx.

Did McGuffey Lane ever have any success outside of the area?

Did any band blow their chance to succeed like Shock Tu, the top hair metal act of Columbus in the late 80's and early 90's? The story as I heard it (and I'm sure I don't have all the facts) is that the band relocated to Dallas, landed a major label deal, and imploded before they ever started recording it. I wasn't a fan of theirs but their guitar player was pretty darn good (even tho he played a freaking Steinberger or whatever those guitars without the head stock were called).

God Bless American Dog.........


O.M.O.M. said...

I really, really miss Stache's.

I saw Willie Phoenix live last year and he still plays with fire and passion, damn shame he never made it big.

When I studied at the Recording Workshop, a drummer for one of the bands we recorded was an ex-Shock Tu'er. He had some hilarious stories about their implosion and fights over promo photos and other such nonsense.

I've some really positive reviews about that Anvil documentary. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that John Roberts makes a cameo in the film.

E. S. Furniss said...

Do you peg Willie as being in his 50's now? Great description of Willie by the way. That man is an incredible live performer. I will go to my grave saying that guy could have had an imporant career....he was really Lenny Kravitz 10 years ahead of his time.

Shock Tu's guitar player still plays in Columbus bars. The singer recently played or has scheduled a show at the Alrosa..which they are selling as Shock Tu.

This is the Pepsi Power Hour..I'm JD Roberts and here's Anvil with...Anvil...