The New Wave of American Hard Rock

Mad Mark After Dark, the man in black that hates everything except the real thing, writing to you from the deepest depths of hell.

With the deaths of Hard Rock legends Bon Scott, John Bonham and Phil Lynott, people thought that the gaping hole in this area of music woul never be filled. It never truly was filled. The only good thing to come out of the early 1980's was something no one thinks about or cares to remember. It was something that I always considered to be extremely creative. I don't want to compare it to 1970's Hard Rock, because that was true creative genius. Sick of the simplicity of the Punk Rock scene and the meaningless dribble of Anarchy by British Punk Rock bands like The Sex Pistols, Sham 69 and The Damned, a new movement was brewing and bubbling over on the underground Hard Rock scene. It was soulfully based on musicianship, the ability to play, and had a louder faster, more abrasive sound. The music was influenced by late 1960's and '70's Hard Rock.

Even though the term "The New Wave of British Heavy Metal" didn't get used until the very late 1970's, Brimingham's Judas Priest had an effect on this new-sounding hard rock movement. Born and raised in this working class steel town, Judas Priest formed in 1973. With the rib-crunching lead vocals of leather-clad demon Rob Halford, and the screaming double lead guitars Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing, this band released its first record in 1974 on a small British independent label, called Gull Records. This album was entitled Rocka Rolla. Their music didn't get noticed by the mainstream until the late seventies/ early eighties.

Judas Priest's musical inspration was felt thoughout the underground British club scene in the mid-1970's. By 1977, the scene was ready to burst out. Rushing onto the British Rock scene were bands with the uncompromising sounds of London's Iron Maiden, Yorkshire powerhouse Saxon and it also inspired Sheffield's own pop metals mavens, Def Leppard. The music was felt all throughout the U.K. and all over Europe with bands like Samson, Tygers of Pan Tang and Diamondhead, which were extremely important in influencing Metallica and Megadeth in America in the earlier part of the eighties.

There was another extremely important band to have a prime influence not just on The New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but also on The Underground Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal scene developing in America in the early in the 1980's. Former Jimi Hendrx roadie and Hawkwind bassist Ian "Lemmy" Kilminster formed a new band with ex-Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The called themselves, "Bastard", but then manager Doug Smith convinced the trio to pick a more viable name. So Lemmy came up with an Americanism for "speed freak". He chose the name "Motorhead" instead, which actually came from a song that he wrote for Hawkwind years before.

Motorhead's debut was in July 1975. By October 1975, the band earned critical assessment as "the worst band to ever exist" after their legendary performance at the Reading Festival. Even with their rave reviews by the critics and the music press, Motorhead continued to exist with their high decible sound.

With Motorhead's no guts, no glory attitude, they released their first album at the beginning of 1977 on the Chiswick label, simply entitled Motorhead. Combining some of Punk Rock mixed with the best elements of Hard Rock, even with countless lineup changes, Lemmy and his band still release the same skullcrushing earsplitting hard rock-n-roll and still tour even after more than twenty-five years.

The so-called rock critics and music media in America tended to dismiss the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Music scene as being outdated. But as usual, fans buy records, not critics. Rock prevailed once again as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal raided the American Top 40 charts in 1983. Def Leppard was the first Heavy Metal band to ever crack the Top Ten (with Pyromania landing the number two spot behind Michael Jackson's Thriller album in 1983.) and that was the beginning of the end for this movement.

In the winter of 1980 a very special place opened its doors for the very first time. This club was in a very unlikely part of New York. It was in warehouse district in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The name of this once-great place was Lamour's. It's where I spent most of my youth. I smoked my first joint and got my first taste of Jack Daniels and cocaine there. Most importantly, Lamour's not only featured some of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal all-stars like Iron Maiden, Saxon and my personal favorite, Motorhead. It also had some of New York's finest Hard Rock bands like Blue Oyster Cult, The Reiign, Twisted Sister and Riot. By the Beginning of 1981. I had seen almost all the bands I had ever wanted to see all at Lamour's: Thin Lizzy, the early and best Whitesnake (not that late eighties glam crap) and UFO. The reputation of this club was growing by leaps and bounds without all that much in the way of promotion. By 1983 Lamour's had reached an attendance level that rivaled the Reading Festival in England, except that the huge crowds were gathering every night of the week. Many of today's best-known bands made their debuts at Lamours like Metallica, Megadeth, Guns and Roses and Anthrax.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. By the middle of 1983, after Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister all cracked the American Top 40 charts and also with the '83 Us Festival, the music industry decided to get involved in this thriving Hard Rock scene, and by the middle of 1985, with the commercialization of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal it was the end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal Movement. But as Lemmy of Motorhead always said, "only the strong survive", and the strong did survive.

By 1986, the Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal scene had unfortunately become more of a parody of itself than real serious Hard Rock music. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal before all of this have always been meant for the disenfranchised and forgotten youth who felt left out of the Punk Rock scene.

Heavy metal -- the look and the soundhad become an over-glamorized joke than anything related to music. On one side you had the very glam Metal bands, which I never understood, besides the overplayed, overdone crappy power ballads were those so-called macho men who would use lipstick, wear spandex and leather with high-heeled platform boots and lastly use so much hairspray that they could set a whole block on fire. All of thse guys were just trying so hard to look better than their already painfully stupid girlfriends. My attitude and opinion toward these guys has never really changed since then. They should have their dicks and balls removed and placed in a very small jar. When that is accomplished, they can do whatever the hell they please. I am truly thankful to this day, that I was born ugly and never got caught up with all of that.

On the other side of this was an underground music scene that went straight to hell The music wasn't much better than the glam metal scene in my opinion, if you can call this crap music. It was based more on playing as fast as possible than on song, and I have always been more into hearing good songs than anything else. This was the Thrash and Speed Metal Movement, where you had a bunch of bands that sounded all like one another.

The other thing that totally irritated me about the mid-1980's Hard Rock and Heavy Metal movement which still actually exists to this very day is, you had to be a rocket scientist to figure out what category a band fits in with. If you didn't know there was and still is Glam, Thrash, Speed, Doom, Death, Black and any other bullcrap you can come up with, then you would be a musical ignoramus, which I consider myself to be. I never understood the differences between all of these stupid-ass categories. Whatever happened to just using the term "Hard Rock and Heavy Metal"?

The creative enegery in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal by the late 1980's was gone and had lost its edge. There were far fewer bands from each category that were somewhat good, but not great. Unfortunately, Hard Rock music has never fully recovered from that mid to late eighties scene. Music had become more style than substance.

By the nineties, true Rock-n-Roll music had officially disppeared from the mainstream pop music charts. The sad state of the so-called Seattle Sound otherwise known as Alternative Rock hit the Pop music charts like a rocket crashing into the earth. Then also came the destructive sounds of Hip-Hop, Rap and the horrible sounds of Rap-Metal.

The Underground Rock Music scene wasn't much better, either with its watered-down Punk Rock Ramones and Dead Boys rip-offs. the originality and and physical emotion of Rock-n-Roll had entirely disappeared. To this day, not much has really changed, especially on the the underground Hard Rock Music scene, with almost ninety percent of bands sounding and acting alike. One such example was something that surfaced a couple of years ago in the form of a ressurected prehistoric sludge-fest, putting itself into another lame Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal category called Stoner Rock.

The scene reminded me of a stale psychadelc mushroom, with a mix of late sixties and early seventies rumblings of Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal. Despite the painfully obvious proficiency in technical musical wizardry, there remained an equally obvious distinct lack of vocal ability and songwriting skills. It presented an option to the watered down and water-logged, over saturated Punk Rock scene. It was an option, but not by much, with only a handful of somewhat good bands. It was still not enough to rejuvenate that old Rock-n-Roll spirit.

Even with my own promotions and productions, I had just about given up on the Underground Music scene and had gotten a bad reputation for having a controversial opinion. I also didn't play any games or kiss ass like everyone else on the whole over-glamorized scene.

It was about four or five months ago when a friend of mine told me about a certain band. His description of this band made no sense to me, but I went to check them out anyway. I was quite surprised at what I had heard. The name of this new band is Queen V and their sound is a seventies influenced Hard Rock mixed with a modern edge, kind of a hard band to describe, but they are a great new band with a new great sound none the less. Every time I see the mighty Queen V they get better and better. Queen V is a very important band to me. Each member of this band has re-inspired me to get back to what I do best, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for what they've done for me.

After seeing Queen V about two months later, I made one of my finest discoveries - this four piece hard driving Hard Rock-n-Roll band called Joker Five Speed with an original sound with lots of loud guitars and a wall of Marshall amplifiers. Their songs blew me right out of my skin. It's Rock-n-Roll the way it was meant to be.

In the last few months, besides these two major examples, a new Hard Rock movement with almost the same high energy and creative edge as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is ready to burst out. And I've invented my own term to describe this new movement, The New Wave of American Hard Rock. The only unfortunate part of this whole thing is that there are only a handful of bands on this scene that have that energy to start something new and different. With the high volume and power of Roar Fiend with Joe Hogan's screaming loud guitar squeals and then in the same breath comes the sweet, heavy, hard Southern Rock sounds of one of my other favorites, Tijuana Bibles with Michelle's sweet, soulful vocal styles with her rhythm guitar crunch and Chris's heavy lead guitar work make a great combo. These elements make them one of the best bands around. All these bands are different from one another like in the seventies with Southern Rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd alongside British rockers The Who on their 1973 Quadrophenia Tour. Another excellent example was Motorhead's Bomber tour with Saxon in 1980. These totally different sounds still fit well together to this day, and that is what makes Rock-n-Roll music a great style of music.

It is the light of the past that can illuminate the future of Rock-n-Roll. The eternal flame of hard Rock-n-Roll will be lit once again, and we will be rockin' together, rockin' tonight. With the old denim and leather of the past we will ride the wheels of steel of the future. Long live Rock-n-Roll forever.

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