Thursday, October 8, 2020

Classic Metal Class This Saturday - The Ethics of Farewell Tours

Right now, due to Covid-19, tours and even one-off concerts are largely on hold.  But there's already talk of tours starting up once we eventually find a way to deal with the pandemic.  And some of those tours - you can guarantee it - are going to be carried out by metal bands that already did their farewell tour (in some cases, more than one!)

Some time back, we examined the question "Farewell Tours - Can You Repeat Them?" This was provoked by one of Dee Snyder's interviews, in which he criticized bands that, after announcing and doing a farewell tour, went back out on tour again, making a solid case for this practice being unethical on a number of counts.

Snyder has been a consistent voice and example on this issue, and weighed in on it in a number of interviews over this last year (for example here and here).  Eddie Trunk also weighed in recently with a quip.

Last year, Chris Krovatin authored a good piece on the topic of farewell tours in Kerrang!

So my co-host of Classic Metal Class - Scott Tarulli - and I decided that this would be a good topic to examine in depth for session six. You can join us on Zoom for the session this Saturday, Noon Central Time.  

We'll be recording the session, and we'll be reading and responding to questions and comments from the participants - so if you're there, your contributions will make their way into the class video.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Videorecording of Classic Metal Class Session #5 - British Mid-Late 1970s Metal

We held Session 5 of Classic Metal Class several weeks ago.  This time, we intended to return to a focus primarily on music history, but we ended up going into a lot of discussion about technological and sound development aspects of the period we were discussing.  I won't say "strayed" or "digressed" because all of that discussion - led primarily by my co-host Scott Taruli - was both very well-informed and extraordinarily useful for understanding the development across the sound vectors that we call "heavy metal".

The official topic for this session was mid-late 1970s British heavy metal - so all the major bands,  developments, tours, continuities and changes in sound in England, Scotland, and Wales.  I used whether or not a band managed to bring out at least one more-or-less metal album in those years as a proxy for whether to include them in the discussion.

Those years were a time, of course, in which the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was coalescing, growing, and getting ready to burst forth.  Saxon did manage to get their first album out by 1979 (as did the somewhat less favored Samson), but some of the other really key players in the scene - like Iron Maiden - hadn't yet got to that stage.  So 1979 winds up being a good cut-off year.

We'll be revisiting some of these bands in later sessions - particularly Motorhead and Judas Priest - and we'll also be devoting some sessions to the NWOBHM movement.  But it was really worthwhile to focus in on those 1970s years in the development of British heavy metal.  Here's the videorecording of the session!

Our next classic metal class session will be coming up later this month, on Saturday, October 10.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 5 - Mid-Late 1970s British Metal

We have another session of our monthly Classic Metal Class coming up tomorrow at Noon Central Time.  Here's the ZOOM LINK to join us!  Guitarist and Berkelee School of Music professor Scott Tarulli will be joining me as a special guest again for this session. 

In Session #5, we will be looking at the mid-late 1970s (1974-1979) and the ongoing development of heavy metal as a more and more self-conscious genre of music. We'll be discussing this ongoing history, features of metal in that era, and how the sounds were getting heavier and harder, leading into early 80s metal.

While many of the main bands that comprise the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (e.g. Iron Maiden, Raven) were active in the pub scene, and producing demos at the time, we're going to be focusing on the bands that were producing albums in this time period.  So, among the bands we'll be discussing will be Judas Priest, Motörhead, Budgie, UFO, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Whitesnake, Gillan, Saxon, Girlschool, Quartz, Nazareth, and Magnum

I hope you can join us for it! If you can, you get to participate in the discussion.  We will be recording the session as well, just like the four previous class sessions, all of which you can view here.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 4

If you missed session 4 of the Classic Metal Class, and you'd like to see what we covered, the videorecording of the session is now available for you to to watch or listen to.

In this session, we discuss the importance of mimesis (imitation, reproduction) in music and the arts generally, and in classic metal specifically. 

We focus in particular on issues that arise out of one main mode of mimesis. This is a particular kind of band, tribute bands, which are centered entirely around mimesis.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 4 Coming Up On Saturday


We took this last month off from Classic Metal Class, but we've got a really interesting session coming up this weekend, specifically on Saturday at Noon Central Time  We'll be focusing on an age-old issue in the arts, the role of Mimesis.  That's a Greek term that can be translated as "imitation," and discussions about the nature of art (including music) have long viewed it as involving - or even at its core, just being - mimesis.

There are a number of other issues connected with this that we'll likely explore in upcoming episodes, but the one that we're going to focus on here is rather specific.  There's a phenomenon that is essentially one of imitation in metal, and that is Tribute Bands.  

We've all seen them either live or in other media like YouTube videos - bands whose entire purpose and point is to imitate another band, going past just covering their music to imitating their appearance, their style, their ethos.  Sometimes, they're dead-on.  Sometimes they're from the originals.  Sometimes they rock. And sometimes they suck.  

But there's thousands of tribute bands out there, so we're going to discuss what distinguishes tribute bands from other ones, and examine the range of values they provide, deal in, or exploit - and what their relationships are with the original metal bands they imitate.

Guitarist and Berkelee School of Music professor Scott Tarulli will be joining me as a special guest again for this session.  I hope you can join us for it! If you can, you get to participate in the discussion.  Here's the ZOOM LINK to join us at Noon Central.

We will be recording the session as well, just like the three previous class sessions, all of which you can view here.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Classic Metal Class #3 - Metaphysical Identity of Bands in Changes

We had our third session of the Classic Metal Class earlier in June, discussing a number of metaphysical issues that arise when we are considering what a "band " or "group" is, and whether it remains the same basic thing in the course of changes.  These most often have to do with musicians going in and out of the ensemble - changes of personnel - but we also discussed other ways that bands can change over time as well, for instance when the band shifts in its style or basic approach.

We'll be revisiting many of these topics in future sessions, and when I can set aside the time for writing, I'll be doing some posts here as well.  For now - for those who missed the session and would like to watch it (so far, over 700 views!) - here it is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 3 Coming Up This Weekend!

Session 3 of Classic Metal Class is coming up at 12 Noon this Saturday.  I'll be joined again by special guest, Scott Tarulli, who will be providing some additional expertise and insight on our topic.  And what is that this time?  We're going to get metaphysical about a set of topics people often bring up when considering the changes in lineups of bands over time.  

These include the famous "ship of Theseus" problem, in which a whole composed of parts gradually has all of those parts replaced - like a band that has no original members left (e.g. Thin Lizzy).  We'll also consider the issue of rival versions of bands which include original/essential members (e.g. Judas Priest and K.K. Downing's Priest). And we'll also think about what, besides being an original member, make some  band members more essential than others.

One additional topic we'll discuss is why this is particularly an issue for classic metal bands that formed in the 1970s or 1980s.

We'll be meeting by Zoom.  If you want to attend and participate, you have to sign up for the session.  Here's the signup form.  Hope to see some of you readers there - and Scott and I are looking forward to a great conversation about classic metal!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Recording of Classic Metal Class #2 - The Sabbath-Purple Nexus

We had a great second session for our monthly Classic Metal Class, this time focused on a key topic in the development of early heavy metal - what I've come to call the Black Sabbath-Deep Purple Nexus.  What that refers to - the short version - is the set of musicians and bands that fed into and spun out of these two central early metal bands, and the dynamics and connections by which these complex processes took place.  The bands involved include: Rainbow, Gillan, Whitesnake, Dio, and Ozzy Osbourne - as it turns out, one I missed, Paice Ashton Lord. (I'll do some writing about this nexus, fleshing out this idea further, when I can make the time). 

My friend and colleague, Scott Tarulli - Berklee School of Music guitar professor, studio and gig musician extraordinaire, and a great creative artist in his own right - was able to join me again as a special guest to provide some additional expertise and insight.  The conversation, initially planned to run a bit over an hour, went on for almost two hours.  We had some really seriously engaged participants!

Here's the videorecording of the session, for those who couldn't make it - I hope you enjoy it!

We've got the third session coming up this month - so stay tuned for information about that one!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Classic Metal Class Session 2 Tomorrow Noon Central!

We're doing another of the online Classic Metal Class sessions tomorrow, Saturday May 16 at Noon Central Time, and anyone who wants to attend is invited! 

If you'd like to register for the session - which you'll need in order to get the Zoom link and the cool handout on the topic for this session - just click here and fill out the form.

I'll be joined again by special guest, Scott Tarulli - guitar professor, band leader, studio and gig musician, and a good friend and colleague - and we'll be discussing the "Black Sabbath-Deep Purple Nexus".

By that admittedly strange term, what I have in mind is not just the early metal music they composed, played, and recorded, and not just their massive influence on so many other metal acts that were to follow.  I also mean the musicians they took in from other bands, developed, and then spun off and out into other bands.  There's a lot of connections between these two main poles of the nexus and the other acts that fit into it.  These include three important metal solo bands - Gillan, Ozzy Osborne, and Dio - and two other major bands - Rainbow and Whitesnake.

So join us tomorrow for a conversation that will range over classic metal music history, philosophical ideas and speculations, and most likely a lot more (including a kids' cartoon)!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Recording of Classic Metal Class #1

Our first session of the new online Classic Metal Class went very well.  Feedback from the participants was that they had a great time, and are looking forward to the next session, and I'll say that I - and my special guest, Scott Tarulli (who will be joining me for additional sessions coming up) really enjoyed the conversation as well!

We discussed the beginnings of Heavy Metal, looking particularly at 1970, and then continuing the narrative up to 1974.  1970 was a massively important year, with a number of early metal bands bringing out albums, and going on tour (sometimes with each other). Black Sabbath, of course, is the most influential and central band, but there are some others that play a major role in forming and fomenting this developing genre - Deep Purple, UFO, Uriah Heep, sir Lord Baltimore, and Led Zepplin each bring out important albums in 1970.  And in 1971, that expands to Budgie and Flower Travellin' Band.  1972 adds the Scorpions, Blue Oyster Cult, Alice Cooper, and Bang to the mix.

There's a lot more to be said, but it was in the session!  So here's the videorecording:

Watch for an announcement about the next class session coming up soon!