You see… it was fall– 1987.
I –or, more accurately, my mom and dad– had just gotten what was known at the time as “cable”- meaning I got more than four channels.
(Fox didn’t even exist yet! Ha! It was the Dark Ages!)
No longer would I have to tolerate my middle-school classmates’ braggadocio regarding their familiarity with the Cars’ awesome “You Might Think” video, or Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” or even “Video Killed the Radio Star….”
At this point in my American middle-school life (20 years pre-internet, remember), there were virtually zero sources of information about the new love of my life, heavy metal. In the south, up to this point, there was Hit Parader magazine (glam rock, but really nothing beyond that) and the new RIP magazine (which was, frankly, awesome).
Otherwise– there was no other metal source, except the weird random mixtapes your friends in that new thing called “high school,” swore was cool. (Though in all honesty this introduced me to Agnostic Front’s Victim in Pain and Nuclear Assault’s The Plague, so I won’t complain.)
until the two hours of Headbanger’s Ball debuted.
Now, if you weren’t there, here’s how Headbanger’s Ball went at those times, a quarter century ago:
Late at night, you waited by the TV, keeping the volume down –lest your parents awake, pissed at you– being ready to record on your VCR, knowing full well that anything that came on during the first hour and a half of the show would be glam rock, or, at best, AC/DC–
and it was only (always, and this without fail) in the last half hour of the show that something awesome might début.
Don’t get me wrong– I videotaped a ton of AC/DC in my day. And this moderately happily.
Though it was only –to this day– those last few videos that still rock me.
So, at midnight, this Saturday, in the Autumn of 1987, Ron Keel (of the underrated glam rock band Keel) was the host.
This first episode, even 25 years later, introduced me to three lifelong metal favorites:
Testament’s “Over the Wall,” King Diamond’s “The Family Ghost,” and Lizzy Borden’s “Me Against the World,” from their (his?) third album, Visual Lies.
A quarter century later, the lead single “Me Against the World” is actually the worst song on this album– while still being freakin’ awesome.
J. Holmes’ guitar solos were (along with Alex Skolnick and a few years later Dimebag Darryl) one of the few instances of me wanting to play more solos (rather than more riffs). To this day, this ideal persists in my mind: don’t play a solo unless it adds something to the song. And Mr. Holmes definitely adds to songs.
Highlights: “Den of Thieves,” “Lord of the Flies,” and “Eyes of a Stranger,” are truly great NWOBHM tunes, Americanized.
It’s Hallowe’en, 2012. Check it out. What else are you doing at noon?