Green Day have undergone a few dramatic changes over the years. They’ve grown from being a straight up pop-punk band to one that seemingly knows no boundaries. They’ve dabbled with elements of 60s rock (the title track from their 2000 album ‘Warning’ brazenly ripped off The Kinks and the same album took in other retro styles previously untouched by the trio); delivered one of their generation’s most pointed political statements (‘American Idiot’); dabbled with a rock opera (’21st Century Breakdown’) and even staged a piece of musical theatre based on the ‘American Idiot’ album. Through it all, they have held on to a very loyal fanbase. You could accuse Green Day of many things (even becoming dull, as evidenced on their ‘Uno’, ‘Dos’ and ‘Tre’ trilogy from 2012), but you could never accuse them of standing still.
Rock fans and critics have long debated over what constituted “the birth of heavy metal”. Some will claim its roots stem from Dave Davies’s brilliant power chords on those early Kinks singles. Others suggest that the musical genre began to take shape at the end of 1966 when Jimi Hendrix pushed the boundaries and experimented with the sounds an electric guitar could make. Perhaps metal’s origins lie with Deep Purple, as they took 60s beat group and psychedelic sounds into a much more intense direction…? The speed and power could even derive from ‘Communication Breakdown’ from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut LP. Although Zeppelin have always been keen to distance themselves from the leather trousered, heavier sounds which came later, there’s an obvious root there.
On February 13th 1970, an album was released that would change the world. Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut album was without question one of the heaviest things the world had heard at the start of a new era for rock music.
In a relatively short time, Fleetwood Mac had marked their place at the top of the British blues table. With two excellent albums (1967’s ‘Fleetwood Mac’ and 1968’s ‘Mr. Wonderful’) and an indispensable compilation (‘The Pious Bird of Good Omen’, 1969), they showed an ability to take on the genre’s best. In Peter Green, they had a fantastic vocalist and a new guitar hero. Their third album ‘Then Play On’ (released in September 1969) even showed the band branching away from the blues and its mixed bag of styles further cemented Green’s place among the new guitar gods.
What’s more, a run of non-album singles issued throughout ’69 reinforced any belief that this still young band had all the makings one that might just have some longevity. An easy listening instrumental ‘Albatross’ showcased the softer side of Green’s guitar work and appealed to a broader spectrum of listeners, becoming one of their most enduring hits The double whammy of 1969’s ‘Oh Well (Parts 1 & 2)’ paired angry blues with an unexpected foray into something that was closer to Ennio Morricone than JB Lenoir or Elmore James; an aching ballad ‘Man of the World’ showed how Green’s voice was easily capable of conveying a gentle anguish. A trio of more disparate singles you’d be hard pressed to find and yet all were chart smashes, each hitting the #2 spot in the UK.
It took Milwaukee garage punk trio three releases to strike gold. Their debut album was ragged beyond belief and very much an acquired taste; its follow up, 2017’s ‘Stars In The Night’ took their hybrid of garage rock, punk and sleaze up a notch, and although it included a couple of far superior songs, it would still be a stretch to call it an essential listen. With 2018’s ‘Darkness Calling’, they finally released a disc that showed their true potential as heirs to the Johnny Thunders and New York Dolls legacies. Its blend of trashy riffs, big choruses and party attitude deserved to be appreciated by fans of a proto-punk sound everywhere.
The Livermores’ 2019 self-titled disc follows a couple of EP releases (including a fun split with Proton Packs), is advertised as a full album but still only clocks in at a length that some bands would still consider an EP. In an especially lean twenty four minutes, though, this band smashes their way through a full thirteen tracks of speed-driven punk, creating a listen that’s both enjoyable and incredibly energetic.