1979 was a sad year for rock music, as Sid Vicious passed away. But plenty of happier things occurred including Europe, Exodus and Venom all forming. But more than that was the music that came out that year.
Scorpions – Love drive
Words by Simon “Skid” Kid
After the release of the Scorpions 1977 Taken by Force, the bands lead guitarist,Uli Jon Roth, left. The replacement was Mathias Jabs, however , Rudolf Schenker also brought in his younger brother- Michael who had left UFO- to record the lead guitar work, so Jabs was out. Micheal Schenker played on the title track, Another Piece of Meat , Loving You Sunday Morning , Holiday and Coast to Coast. Both brothers were credited as writers for the last two songs. Rudolf Schenker, as ever, was the main writer with Rarebell and Meine joining up the dots with the lyrics. The result was the best selling album the band had recorded at that time and broke them into the UK. The US not so much, as the now famous Storm Thorgerson artwork caused a stir. Michael Schenker joined the band touring the album, but left during the tour and, with much begging, Jabs was back in, and the formation of the “classic line up” was finalised. As a young man, the mix of well written and delivered rock, mellow acoustic moments scattered about and exposed breasts on an album cover was intoxicating .This album showed the world how good Rudolf Schenker’s writing was, how good his brothers guitar work was post-UFO, and introduced us to Mathias Jabs. The Scorpions found more commercial success in the following decade with other works, helped along by the fledgling MTV , but even today , this is the album that is at the core of the band and will forever be seen as their finest moment.
Motorhead – Overkill
Word by Amy Lawrence
1979. A crucial turning point for Heavy Metal with the dawn of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal influencing the utter chaos that would take the genre up toeleven and beyond in the 80s. Not only was this a pertinent time for heavy metal bands to form but also incredibly significant for bands of the 70s flourishing in creativity and creating their landmark records. Perhaps one of the most influential of all was Motorhead’s second album Overkill, their first with Bronze Records. The product of three ragged musicians making a hell of a lot of noise and perfectly honing it as their unique craft for many years to come. By the time of Overkill’s inception frontman Lemmy Kilmister, guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor had been together as a band for three years, enduring both successes and failures whilst relentlessly touring on the road. The release of Overkill was a statement, evidence of a band finding their style and sound and proving to any doubters that they were about to make a colossal impact in the metal world. Not that they were to know this of course. But ask any group of thrash metal musicians from the 80s about their influences and they’ll happily speak of the title track Overkill until you think you’re in a room full of parrots. However, those parrots are correct. Overkill was crucial in influencing the heavier sub genres of metal that would emerge in the 80s, most significantly through Taylor’s use of double bass. Armed with two bass drums, Taylor would practise his coordination of playing them both during rehearsals. One day his fellow band members walked in, heard the double bass and told him to continue whilst they were writing. Thus, the relentless monster of Overkill was born, subjecting listeners to an array of riffs and trademark raspy vocals from Lemmy, elevated in impact from the drive of Taylor’s playing that would prove to permeate in influence across generations of metal musicians.
By no means is the title track the only notable point of this fantastic album. There’s a plethora of songs that consistently remained or reemerged in Motorhead’s setlists across the years, including Stay Clean, No Class, Damage Case, Metropolis and finally the title track itself. The album is practically a gold mine for Motorhead classics and exhibits their unique style perfectly. Just take Limb from Limb as an example of the hybrid formula that Motorhead would routinely stir into their future songs. Beginning as a slow bluesy number the listener is suddenly propelled into a rock n roll jive that’s been injected with countless amphetamines. In a similar vein (I Won’t) Pay Your Prices exudes Motorhead’s rock n roll influence with the iconic announcement from Lemmy at the beginning of “I’m so drunk” confirming his fate for many hazy years to come. Capricorn, a song influenced by Lemmy’s Star Sign slows the often fast pace of the album down to a trippy sway, the reoccurring mix of blues and metal in its prime once more. Overkill has everything you could want from not only Motorhead but classic heavy metal as a whole. Yet with Overkill Motorhead add a pivotal aspect that most bands of the time were lacking – Attitude. An element that the band continued to display throughout their career, not arrogantly or artificially but with complete integrity. Overkill embraces this throughout every song and its heard clearly. A truly unapologetic example of a bad ass album.
Read our coverage of 1980 here.