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.
On 2nd October 2017, Tom Petty died following a heart attack. His unexpected passing marked one of the blackest days of the year, since Tom always felt like someone who would always be there and always be part of life’s fabric. The fact that he left behind a marvellous body of work – most of which never seems to age – means that in some way, he’ll always be a part of millions of lives, but the idea that we’ll never hear a new Tom Petty album is very hard to comprehend, especially so soon after critically acclaimed works like ‘Hypnotic Eye’ and ‘Nobody’s Child.
Those last records featured tracks that were potentially as solid as anything Petty had ever recorded, lending weight to the fact that he was one of the finest and arguably most consistent songwriters of his generation.
On this day in 1995, Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia passed away. His legacy remains as strong as ever and Dead fans across the globe still hold the band’s work in very high regard. Despite some top quality studio albums, it was always in the live setting when Jerry and the band really became something special.
Like most bands with long careers, of course, the Dead didn’t always get it right. They’d sometimes get it spectacularly wrong (as was the case with a late 80s show with Stephen Stills). With Grateful Dead’s official live releases now numbering several dozen and hundreds of bootlegs still in circulation, the world of Dead live recordings can be a minefield.
At the midpoint of the decade, 1974 appeared to have no definite dominant genres, but that allowed for a very varied singles chart. 1975 very much follows that trend, but pushes some of the focus back to great albums.