Sweet, Rex, Fastway, Gamma, Mercyful Fate, Saxon, Ram Jam, April Wine, Teaze, Hawkwind... having a blast writing these short “making of” essays on great albums from the nooks and crannies of old school hard rock, some of them famous, some almost within the radar of a band I would do a book on, had the catalogue been bigger.

And other than the packaged ones or the odd super-long one, they are all presented for 98 cents or 99 cents, and in ePub for Apple devices, .mobi for Kindle, and pdf for pretty much anything.

Love this project, and it couldn't happen without the kind guidance and killer formatting and layout work of partner on the venture Chris Pike, who is of the same mindframe on this stuff, locating a ton of images like posters, ticket stubs, passes, 45 sleeves, ads etc., to make these brief stories come alive. The dude has jumped in himself with Budgie apps and whole print Budgie books – seek them out.

Now to keep it simple, this page is dedicated to our “eShorts” or “eRiffs,” as described above. For what's available in eBook for the full length books ($9.99 each), please go to the dedicated page for each print book. In brief however, so far—and these are only in pdf—it's all four of the Deep Purple books, the three Thin Lizzy books, the BOC (best seller, actually), the UFO and the first five Ye Olde Metals. These are all at www.zunior.com only. I believe they have a few titles of mine there through one of my publishers, ECW, like the first Rush book and the two Top 500 books.

Additional ones at zunior.com but not listed below (just use the search box in the upper right corner of the zunior page) include:

  • Ratt – Invasion of Your Privacy
  • Badlands – Badlands
  • Badlands – Voodoo Highway
  • Quartz – Stand Up and Fight
plus, extracted from the Ye Olde Metal full-length books:
  • Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptum
  • Warpig - Warpig
  • Cactus – One Way... or Another
  • Nitzinger - Nitzinger
  • Buffalo – Dead Forever...
  • Trapeze – You Are the Music... We’re Just the Band
  • Sir Lord Baltimore – Kingdom Come
  • Dust – Hard Attack
  • Humble Pie – Smokin’
  • Captain Beyond – Captain Beyond

Most of these are 98 or 99 cents!


Angel City Darkroom

One of the most in-depth, interesting and intriguing of Martin’s many celebrated “making of” expositions, the Darkroom chapter pays tribute to a little-known band of Aussie legends, one with a vast catalogue, one accurately depicted as “the thinking man’s AC/DC.” Enigmatic lead vocalist Doc Neeson has been through a life-threatening car accident and recently brain cancer, but Martin’s vintage Darkroom interview is here for you in all its intelligent glory, along with much on the subject from guitarist (and at times bitter nemesis) John Brewster. Come revel in a deeper knowing of one of Martin’s favourite 25 albums of all time, with an urging to go away and explore the rest of the band’s boogie metal canon.

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April Wine – Harder... Faster

Fond memories for Harder... Faster, the author's favourite April Wine slab and arguably the heaviest, given I Like To Rock and the band's massive, skilled cover of Crimson's 20th Century Schizoid Man. It was our key hook-out-of-school record as me an' the buds piled into Ken's Dodge Dart. crossed the border and drove to Spokane in search of NWOBHM records. Anyway, off-topic. Dive in and learn--directly from Brian and Myles--about this fine collection of expertly recorded and crafted (mostly) proto-metal songs from a Canuck institution not always prone to rocking out.

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April Wine – The Nature Of The Beast

Harder... Faster is my fave April Wine album, and I've written about that too, but The Nature Of The Beast is pretty cool as well, especially Future Tense... yeah! So here we are, chatting with guitarists Myles Goodwyn and Brian Greenway about April Wine's most successful album in the states, which also holds glad tidings given the band's concurrent stand at Donington's Monsters Of Rock.

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Bad Company – Desolation Angels

Well, yes, snuck this one in as part of my new Ye Olde Metal "chapter" series although it ain't too heavy. But Bad Company was considered somewhat of a hard rock band back in all of the '70s, and this is the one I connected with the most, Desolation Angels Swan Songing around with In Through The Out Door, both records struck by a certain ennui. Turns out it's a bit of a band favourite as well, and here's the record's story, as told by Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke. This one's particularly packed with pictures, photography courtesy of Rich Galbraith, memorabilia courtesy of my partner in this venture, Chris Pike, clear across in New Zealand, an academic lover of classic rock history just like myself.

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Blackfoot - Strikes

Southern rock’s hardest riff rockers Blackfoot floundered on CBS with two solid but dated records before adjusting their pants, moving over to Atco and rocketing their third record, 1979’s Strikes all the way to platinum status in the US, for sales over a million copies. Here’s the detailed story of that record, featuring never-before-seen interview footage from bassist Greg T. Walker, band leader Rickey Medlocke, and the beloved and now deceased Jakson Spires, drummer for this legendary live act that few dared follow. Reading this will have you blasting Train, Train and Highway Song again like 30+ years have never drained away.

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Blackfoot - Tomcattin'

Two-fist this one with our story of Strikes, Tomcattin’ being the follow-up to that platinum record and in the author’s opinion, an all ‘round better and heavier metallic album, possibly the finest southern rock album of all time. Thrash with Warped, party it up with Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, and be southern-charmed out of yer socks by Fox Chase as the tall tale of Tomcattin’ gets told. As with our Strikes eBook, this one features the wise words of three of four band members, Rickey Medlocke, Greg T. Walker and Jakson Spires, his testimony gathered by Martin back in ’99, before his untimely death in 2005.

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Dictators – Go Girl Crazy!, Manifest Destiny & Bloodbrothers

Beloved as a strange sweet spot between punk and heavy metal with way too much humour for either, New York's favourite sons The Dictators cranked three classic albums before hanging it up for years and years, at least when it came to making records. Two Tub Man, Young, Fast, Scientific, Faster & Louder, Search & Destroy, Master Race Rock, The Next Big Thing, Sleepin' With The TV On, Borneo Jimmy, The Minnesota Strip, Baby Let's Twist... one of my favourite bands ever, and here's their misguided story, as told by a bunch of the guys in the band, a loveable mess, all of it managed by Sandy Pearlman, who chimes in with his usual sense of manic hyperbole. Anyway, this is 35 pages of New York attitude wrapped in an enigma, namely Mr. Pearlman. Note: This content was previously issued in the five book Ye Olde Metal series. If you've purchased those full-length $9.99 eBooks, you already have this!

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Dokken – Tooth And Nail

Fans in the know overwhelmingly pick Dokken’s second proto-hair cruncher from 1984 as the band’s penultimate spread of sugar and spice. For this one, Martin talks to the entire band—Don Dokken, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and “Wild” Mick Brown—as well as producer Tom Werman, in an attempt to dissect and understand the massive wars between Don and George, the booze and cocaine, the hirings and firings... this is an epic tale of ‘80s excess, and Martin’s 12,800 word doorstop pulls no punches. Much of the convoluted early history of the Dokken band is divulged as well, but mostly, what we have here is a celebration of a platinum album that puffed its chest to Van Halen proportions only to become poisoned by toxic animosities.

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Fastway - Fastway

Fastway's self-titled first is just a shockingly good stadium rock record with just enough raw to keep it one foot in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. This is the story of its making and the birth of the band, as told by lead singer Dave King, drummer Jerry Shirley and a l'il Pete "Way" Way and Biff Byford thrown in for spice. I had a particular fondness toward writing this one up, as one of the coolest earliest big city (well, b-city, Spokane), concerts I ever saw was Fastway backing Saxon backing the mighty Maiden, right at the latter's creative apex. Plus meeting Dave King, transformed into a sort of Pogue and touring his successful and highly creditable Flogging Molly band... well, he's probably the only autographs on my Fastway collection I'll ever see. Icing on the cake for this short (but cheap at a buck!) smile back a while... some sweet Rich Galbraith photos and all manner of memorabilia shot, helping bring the story to life, at least, one hopes, lively enough to make you scurry away and re-play this fine and fiery record.

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Foreigner – Head Games

For all their smash multi-platinum fame, there really hasn’t been much written about Foreigner, so Popoff is particularly proud of this in-depth analysis of the band’s biting, dark horse album from 1979, arguably the last or second last of the classics from the hard AOR masters. Our celebration of Head Games finds Martin joined by both Lou Gramm and Mick Jones (plus a couple of producers), who together unlock the magic of this record, one that—hard to believe—was considered a career setback for the chart-charging veterans.

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Gamma - 2

One of the gosh-darned coolest classic metal albums of all time, Gamma's second (of four, and arguably... two!) is a cogent, potent evocation of Deep Purple meets Robin Trower, and this long making of "essay" celebrates the record in considerable detail. Interview footage comes from vocalist Davey Pattison, bassist Glenn Letsch, and the dearly departed leader of the band, guitarist Ronnie Montrose.

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Gillan – Glory Road

In a cheeky mood, I've been known to call Gillan my favourite band of all time, given the insane charm of all six of their albums, the guys burning it out before they could screw up (just like another one of my fave raves, Max Webster). This dollar "print single" can be consider a canned history of a band seldom talked about in detail, so I'm particularly proud to unleash it upon all you like-minded ancient metal lovers. Gillan... man, they were a cross between Deep Purple and Tygers Of Pan Tang, weren't they? With a crazy circus organist chucked on top, one who helped write a lot of the songs. Unfortunately, Colin Towns wouldn't talk to me, but the irrepressible Ian Gillan did, as did Bernie Torme and John McCoy. Surprised to see I didn't include any of my chat with drummer Mick Underwood in here, but you'll see him in the future, when I get around to giving you the story of Future Shock, follow-up to our current concern Glory Road, which is the third album for these punk metal nutters gone newobbim...

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Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction

Our celebration of Guns N’ Roses uber-classic Appetite For Destruction is a long N’ loud one, weighing in at an epic 10,000 words. Come join Martin as he talks with Slash, Duff and a number of key behind-the-scenesters who helped make Appetite the biggest, boldest, er, “dirty hair metal” statement of the ’80s and indeed all time. If you didn’t get the GN’R phenomenon at the time or even afterward, you’ll definitely come away with an understanding of why the whole thing took off, from the honesty and fire within the belly of the beast, to the industry forces pushing and shoving the guys from outside.

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Hanoi Rocks – Two Steps From The Move

Two Steps From The Move was the original Hanoi Rocks’ final album after the death of drummer Razzle had depressed and deflated the band just as they were going to break and break big. The Bob Ezrin-produced party metal opus, as well as the visual presentation of the band, is cited as a major influence on the hair metal scene of the ‘80s. Come learn of this Finnish band’s importance, as Martin talks to three members of the group, Michael Monroe, Andy McCoy and Sami Yaffa, about their roots and influences, plus, in detail, the record that should have represented their ultimate triumph.

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Hawkwind – Warrior On The Edge Of Time

Space rockers Hawkwind have such a complicated history, there’s very little written on them. Ergo, Martin valiantly tries to add to the scholarship, talking at length with the lone member of the band who has been there from the start in 1969, Dave Brock, guitars and vocals. The two keep tight focus however, dealing with the band’s landmark 1975 album in detail, track by track, but also looking at the all-important live show and—at the end of the delightful sit-down and a cup of tea—its disorienting effect on those loony enough to take the trip.

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Judas Priest - Sad Wings Of Destiny

I’ve often maintained that 1976 Priest masterpiece Sad Wings Of Destiny represents the first great heavy metal moment since the genre’s inception back in 1970 with Sabbath, Purple and Uriah Heep. This is the extensive story of that groundbreaking record’s birthing, from the inside out, including discussion of its production, its context, its album cover, all of its tracks. Note: this short eBook is a substantially expanded and overhauled version of a chapter from Popoff’s Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers. It is being offered due to the fact that the full-length biog is long out-of-print and also not available in eBook format.

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Judas Priest - British Steel

British Steel—Judas Priest’s sixth studio spread, from 1980—was the record that broke the band through to long-lived arena status. But creatively speaking, was it a step backwards? Or indeed was the invigorating sense of song to the thing a form of creative maturity? You be the judge as we talk to all of the band (save for drummer Dave Holland) as well as producer Tom Allom about the album’s crafting in Ringo Starr’s studio, about the cutlery trays, the album cover, its contextual placement within the NWOBHM and each and every song on this heavy metal landmark. Note: this short eBook is a substantially expanded and overhauled version of a chapter from Popoff’s Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers. It is being offered due to the fact that the full-length biog is long out-of-print and also not available in eBook format.

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Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance

In 1982, our beloved bashers from Birmingham would come clanging back after the disappointing Point Of Entry with a record that would call to arms an entire metal movement, one that would proceed to plant the metal flag stateside for a reign that would last the rest of the decade. Screaming For Vengeance was that record, and the story of every nook and cranny of that masterpiece is examined here in much rich detail, Martin talking to the band at length to discover how they were able to turn it around after Point Of Entry almost sunk them. Note: this short eBook is a substantially expanded and overhauled version of a chapter from Popoff’s Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers. It is being offered due to the fact that the full-length biog is long out-of-print and also not available in eBook format.

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Lone Star – Lone Star & Firing On All Six

Lone Star were a strange, knotted-up, progressive hard rock band from the UK, sort of like Widowmaker, and this is the story of their two albums, as told by their lead singer Kenny Driscoll and guitarist Paul Chapman, who went on to fame with UFO once Michael Schenker flew the coop. These 40 pages draw the reader into the deft negotiations and personal chafings that occur between guys feeling themselves out as a band... and it's even got Scientology.

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Manowar – Battle Hymns

What I like about this one is that instead of spokesman and bassist Joey DeMaio, I've got vocalist Eric Adams telling, at length, the story of putting together Manowar's trend-bucking debut record of might is right. Indeed, Battle Hymns is a strange collection of anthems created in a vacuum, recorded oddly, the whole idea of Manowar being original and disruptive of heavy metal standards.

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MC5 - Kick Out The Jams

MC5’s incendiary debut album Kick Out The Jamsb> was a flamethrower of a live conceit, and gathering it in as a metalhead moptop a few years after launch, sorta mid-‘70s, was a scary affair, given its druggy call to revolution. But now here we are, able to come to terms with it in collusion, as I talk to Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson, band manager John Sinclair and since deceased bassist Michael Davis about one of a tight half dozen records arguable as the first heavy metal album of all time. Note: this is an expanded version of a chapter from Ye Olde Metal: 1968 To 1972, so if you have that book, you have a goodly portion of this rock document, even if in fact, the original has been vastly overhauled and expanded to create this one-buck nugget.

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MC5 - Back In The USA

Detroit’s Motor City Five took a shocking left turn when it came time to crafting their first studio album, 1970’s Back In The USA. The record was a retro-rocking affair with a thin, high-strung mix and all sorts of references to ‘60s garage rock and ‘50s original rock ‘n’ roll. Weird to say the least, but all is explained here as we talk with mad axeman Wayne Kramer, Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson, band manager John Sinclair and since deceased bassist Michael Davis about this odd salvo that struggled to keep the revolution alive.

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MC5 - High Time

MC5’s third and last record, 1971’s High Time found the band making a very different album from the first two, although the psychedelic gumbo of it all might be said to resemble Kick Out The Jams in songwriting essence. Fact is, High Time was an album of confused but arresting bloat, courting myriad directions as Detroit declined and the band imploded under the weight of drugs and politics and the death of hippie ideals. Come listen to the words of wisdoms disseminated by Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson, band manager John Sinclair and since deceased bassist Michael Davis who reveal where the MC5 got their jazz.

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MC5 – The American Ruse: MC5’s Shocking Three Albums Exhumed

Detroit’s Motor City Five exploded like a Molotov onto the streets of Detroit with some of the greatest live shows ever executed plus three records to prove they were here: 1969’s Kick Out The Jams, 1970’s Back In The USA and 1971’s High Time. Purchase the tales of their making separately or gather ‘em all at once right here, as Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson, band manager John Sinclair and since deceased bassist Michael Davis insightfully place us at the scene, divulging all things MC5 to be sure, but also painting a picture of the Detroit of the day. Other creative types who were there at that explosive time further fill out the story. Emerging out the other end is an understanding of what MC5 accomplished so many years ago and why they could not live beyond their brief and scarring tenure.

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Mercyful Fate - Melissa

Proud of this one, as we explore one of the most imposingly scary and skilled metal classics ever, the grand and merciless debut from Satanic Dane masters Mercyful Fate. It's a long hard look, including much interview footage never before published from my chats with Hank Shermann, Michael Denner and of course, King Diamond his charming self. Not since Sad Wings Of Destiny had a record from an unknown band sound so shockingly perfect. Was the hand of Satan involved? You be the judge.

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Motorhead - Overkill

This "making of" essay is one of my longer, more involved ones, featuring exclusive commentary from the elusive Philthy Animal Taylor and most richly Fast Eddie Clarke, who really leans into the telling of the tale. Fond memories of getting this album, stumbling across it at Strawberry Jams in Spokane as a new release, instantly but briefly driving me mad right there in the store, 'cos the Snaggletooth graphic had suddenly exploded into colour, in contrast with the basic frontage of the band's sooty debut. The Overkill buck-a-shot "print single" also includes a nice gaggle of memorabilia shots plus some unseen live photography from my personal archive. Note: we're also selling, right here at zunior, Ye Olde Metal: 1977, which contains the story of the aforementioned debut biker metal classic.

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Mountain - Nantucket Sleighride

Was it Mountain or was it Cactus that was called America’s Led Zeppelin? Coulda applied to either, but I know that in some circles, Mountain is considered America’s first heavy metal band. So we come to celebrate the band’s murky opus of the deep Nantucket Sleighride, a quaker and shaker for the opening days of 1971 to be sure. Come gather around loud rock legends Leslie West and Corky Laing as they rue the day their rock brother Felix Pappalardi took a bullet. Note: this is an expanded version of a chapter from Ye Olde Metal: 1968 To 1972, so if you have that book, you have most of this rock document.

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Ram Jam – Ram Jam & Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Ram

Look, bar none, this is the most fantastic and strange story of a brief shotgun of a proto-heavy metal band you'll likely ever read. There's a drug-dealing lead singer sent up the river, now doing good deeds as a prison preacher, insurance guy and keeper of rock flame through his band The Doughboys. There's two bands competing to make the same record, the winner turning in one of the heaviest metal howlers of the '70s, Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Ram. There's the guitarist on that album, burning a path through it, never to emerge again as the axe hero he should have been, now teaching high school and telling his class about this crazy Canadian who wrote the story of his old band Ram Jam. There's the dated boogie rock debut that launched the smash hit everybody knows as Black Betty, and even the story of that song alone is a circuitous trip down the rabbit hole of nefarious management shenanigans. Hands down, my favourite couple of these "making of" tales I've ever done. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be crazy with curiosity about the music on these two yin-yang records, if you don't know them already. Note: This content was previously issued in the five book Ye Olde Metal series. If you've purchased those full-length $9.99 eBooks, you already have this!

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Rex – Rex & Where Do We Go From Here?

Crazy story here, obscure, unknown, untold, but highly interesting to those who like their '70s rock brewed and boiled in a stew with Aerosmith, Kiss, Starz and Ted Nugent. Rex were a two-record band signed to Columbia, managed by the legendary Leber Krebs, rocking hard for the day, touring with all the greats until they flamed out and disappeared. But frontman Rex Smith—a hilarious interview and full of zingers that keep this tale moving swiftly—went on to teen pin-up, TV, movie and theater fame as... well, Rex Smith! This is the story of the band's strange birthing, their two knock-out albums of grinding guitar rock and consummate front man vocals, and the Madison Square Garden gig that spelled doom for them, just as stardom could have been theirs. Come wade through 40 pages of nostalgia for a high-decibel crease in rock history barely known—trivia at every turn. Note: This content was previously issued in the five book Ye Olde Metal series. If you've purchased those full-length $9.99 eBooks, you already have this!

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Saxon – Power & The Glory

New Wave Of British Heavy Metal pillars and lady-killers (!) Saxon were on the verge of parody after four records of rockscrabble, meat and potatoes biker rock. Maiden had clearly outstripped them as front edge of the form and indeed by '83, many previous NWOBHM hopefuls were dying a death. But then Power & The Glory screamed out of the Carrere Records release schedule and Saxon were all of a sudden as heavy as Savage and as drunkenly exciting as Grim Reaper. Come hear the tale of how that headbanged and heavenly state of affairs happened, how electricity was mainlined into this then-tiring band, and how Power & The Glory became the best Saxon album ever. Toward that end, Popoff--crafting a flagship addition to his Ye Olde Metal series of shorts--talks to bassist Steve Dawson, guitarist Paul Quinn, leader of the pack Biff Byford and, in the author's opinion, nuclear weapon on board this aircraft carrier of metal, new drummer Nigel Glockler.

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Starz – Starz, Violation, Attention Shoppers! & Coliseum Rock

Starz shoulda been stars, but the story is the usual sordid tale of missed opportunities, mismanagement and miscues. Signing to Capitol, this tough New York act proceeded to write a mountain of songs every bit as catchy as the hits of Kiss—even sharing management. But then somehow it all slipped away, despite the great guns of the live show, considerable promotion, and a nifty arch-'70s logo chucked in as a bonus. Hear their tale or rock and regret as told by Richie Ranno, Michael Lee Smith and the now deceased Bill Aucoin, as we work our way through pretty much every song on every record of their four album catalogue, including, of course, the wildly controversial third album of "pop" called Attention Shoppers!. Detroit Girls, Subway Terror, Night Crawler, X-Ray Spex, Pull The Plug, Good Ale We Seek, Boys In Action, Rock Six Times... it's all here in a 60 page eBook of hard-hitting glam yumminess.

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Sweet: Rebel Rouser – Four Sweet Classics 74-77

I know, I know, I’ve had many requests for a whole darn Sweet book, but this is the best yer gonna get: 60-odd pages of yummy Sweet talk on the astonishing run of four albums the band drew up and blew up from 1974 to 1977. Note: the can be purchased separately, but for simplicity’s sake we decided to offer as a package—and at a package price. So here they are, the Ye Olde Metals on Sweet Fanny Adams, Desolation Boulevard, Give Us A Wink and Off The Record, (A)ction-packed, droll humour from the band’s two surviving members, Andy Scott and Steve Priest, excellent trivia on the writing and recording of theses killer early heavy metal masterpieces, and alas, musings on the tragic disintegration of Brian Connolly toward his drink-related death in 1997.

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Sweet – Sweet Fanny Adams

Stateside, the big Sweet album was Desolation Boulevard, but as you’ll learn from Martin’s massive jaw sessions conducted over a number of years with both Andy Scott and Steve Priest (last surviving members of the hard glam quartet) that classic was a compilation of a UK record with that title and the album that is the focus of this eBook, Sweet Fanny Adams. Here’s the story of its classic proto-metal birthing, and the general weirdness that was Sweet’s hugely misunderstood career. Sweet F.A., No You Don’t, Into The Night, Set Me Free... these are some of the great early metal classic anthems out of the UK circa the low ‘70s, and they are the reason Sweet hit hard that spot between Deep Purple and Queen.

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Sweet – Desolation Boulevard

Emphatically not the Desolation Boulevard we roller-rinked to over here in North America, but this is the story of the stand-alone British version. Long story (and all will be explained), but our Desolation Boulevard as a combo-pak of the UK issue and predecessor Sweet Fanny Adams. In any event, come hear the band's only surviving two members Andy Scott and Steve Priest talk about this rushed, eccentric record as the band struggled to find its footing on the way to even greater creative heights.

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Sweet – Give Us A Wink

Y'know, this is exactly the type of record that makes writing these things worthwhile. Any old school metal watcher worth his salt knows that Give Us A Wink is one of the gleaming, under-rated classics of front-edge metal as it existed in the mid-'70s. Take a read of the droll words of wisdom generated by Andy Scott and Steve Priest and learn the secrets of its monster sound, its genius touches of synthesizer and it's solo cello army of one. Action, Cockroach, White Mice, Yesterday's Rain... this record's stuffed with snarling metal with a mean, mean disposition and you should know all about it.

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Sweet – Off The Record

If you want a whole book of stories from 1977 (including this one, but in shorter form), go pick up Ye Olde Metal: 1977. But specifically to satisfy the Sweet tooth, grab this one-bucker for the story of a crunching hard rock classic often forgotten when talk turns to Sweet, the spotlight usually being reserved for Give Us A Wink and the overlapped previous two. Yea and verily, I love writing these things just like a radio guy likes to spin records, namely to alert you to forgotten classics. Off The Record will not disappoint, as it's truly the last heavy Sweet collection welled up with all those Connolly vocals and inhuman harmonies you've grown to love.

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Triumph – Just A Game

Canuck legends Triumph lightened up on their third album, Just A Game, and it almost killed their career. But wait, there were also two hit single in Hold On and the more enduring Lay It On The Line, which set the template for future positive proggy power ballads from the band. Hear the tale of this forgotten staple of Canuck rock as we talk at length to the whole band, namely guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett, bassist Mike Levine and drummer/vocalist Gil Moore.

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Trouble - Trouble

Arguably the greatest doom album of all time, Trouble's self-titled is also the Chicago band's first onto a major label and first of two produced by Rick Rubin. What results is a huge slab of steaming apocalyptic riffery, and here's the story of it, as told by founding doomsters, vocalist Eric Wagner and guitarists Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin.

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Van Halen - 5150

As with Martin’s hit “eRiff” tackling OU812, our 5150 analysis includes lots and lots of ol’ Sammy Hagar just lettin’ ‘er fly. 1986’s 5150 shocked the world, proving that Van Halen could not only survive the departure of David Lee Roth, but thrive, with the band taking the album to #1 on the charts on the strength of smash hits like Why Can’t This Be Love, Best Of Both Worlds, Dreams and Love Walks In. It’s a lively and hapy tale to be sure, taking us back to a time when Van Halen were an arena-packing powerhouse killin’ it in the hair band world, frankly, by acting part of it.

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Van Halen - OU812

Look, not my favourite album ever made... OK, maybe it's my third least favourite Van Halen ever. But it's always a blast talking with Sammy Hagar, and within this lively read, he's considerably charitable in giving me the story of this "hair metal"-era smash hit from the mighty Van Halen.

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Witchfinder General – Friends Of Hell

Witchfinder General blew a whole in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with their doom dealings. And really, they were the inaugural doom band past what Sabbath had established, pioneers that begat Trouble, Candlemass and Cathedral. Little has been written on this mysterious two-album band, 'cos they didn't do many interviews, nor get asked to all that often. This is the story of the band's second and last album, a fine slab of massive, surging metal that still creeps out NWOBHM aficionados to this day.

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Y&T – Black Tiger

The barely contained explosiveness of the Black Tiger album... this is what inspired the birthing of my series of short, inexpensive, "making of" essays. Long story, but it was fun putting this one past incubation to fruition, 'cos Dave Meniketti's one of my favourite guys in the biz, a relaxing joy to interview and both a guitar and vocal talent that should have been as big as Eddie and Diamond Dave combined. Anyhow, come check out more than you ever wanted to know about Y&T's classic breakthrough album after years spent opening the door for everybody else. And if the reading ain't enough, my graphic enabler and co-Y&T digger Chris Pike has massaged in a ton of historical images and documents and just all 'round cool goodies to flesh out the tale.

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Y&T - Earthshaker

Stuck in second gearing after two frustrating albums on London, Yesterday & Today shortened their metaphysical band tag and assumed a more moshing position, cranking a blistered blast of traditional metal for this first record for the band on A&M. Guitarist and leader Dave Meniketti tells us all about it, framing for us the frustration of forging metal in a time and place that wasn't ready for it.

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ZZ Top - Fandango!

ZZ Top’s first great album was Tres Hombres, but 1975’s Fandango! coughed up what is perhaps the band’s greatest full side, namely Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings, Blue Jean Blues, Balinese, Mexican Blackbird, Heard It On The X and Tush. The other side was live, making for a weird one, but all is explained in conversation with Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, who are always spinning yarns. Note: this is an expanded version of a chapter from Ye Olde Metal: 1973 To 1975, so if you have that book, you have most of this rock document.

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