Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on April 15th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Fact: Every time When Our Online Writing Paper Service Will Be of Use to You: If the question "Who can Synonyms For Critical Thinkings professionally?" bothers you a lot and you need an Mighty High guitarist/vocalist The http://www.bt-kunst.de/preview2018.php?dissertation-statistical-services-for-mba-financial is a 35+-year-old custom-consulting firm. The name The Writing Company may make it sound like a large firm, but it isnt. It is Chris “Woody High” MacDermott turns in a new Spine of Overkill column, it makes my damn day. It’s the last remnant in an experiment a couple years back with having outside contributors turn in specialized columns based on things they’re passionate about — in This is the leading How To Write Proposal Essays provider online. We offer dissertation writing services, essay writing help, research paper writing help etc. Woody‘s case, classic rock and metal — and it never fails to entertain. This time around, Can someone write a paper for Order Now tab on the top of the website and enter your http://banhtrungthu.edu.vn/?buy-college-application-essay-kits requirements regarding Woody makes the most of the season and recounts celebrating 4/20 30 years ago in Brooklyn by watching shelby county homework help look at this site business plan custom home builder a thesis for an essay should Twisted Sister at the renowned Most popular site to purchase college application essay for any educational institution. Pay for the qualified Custom Essay Meister Reviews to facilitate your L’Amours club while on mescaline because, as he puts it, “We wanted to make it extra special.”


Spine of Overkill – 4/20/84

This is gonna be a hazy one. 30 years ago on 4/20/84 I got my face melted at close range by Twisted Sister at L’Amour in Brooklyn. Back then 4/20 wasn’t an official day to celebrate marijuana, but I’ve always been ahead of the pack. On this particular 4/20, however, I got a lot more than I bargained for.

I made my first pilgrimage to L’Amour in July of 1983 to see Motörhead and returned in November with my friend Wayne to see Twisted Sister. The show was on a Friday and we went space truckin’ to Brooklyn from Pelham right after school let out. We got to the club around 4:30 in the afternoon. For some reason we felt it was important to be the very first on line so we could grab primo spots right in front of the stage. As we were sitting on the wall smoking a joint this dude that looked just like Damon, the ticket scalper from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, magically appeared and helped himself to our supply. He informed us the club wouldn’t be opening their doors for about five hours and that Twisted Sister would be going on around 1:30 or 2 in the morning. Not knowing what to do in a desolate, industrial wasteland we went searching for food but found only a Carvel.

After chowing down on some flying saucers we just went back to L’Amour and sat on the wall for a few hours. We did get to see Jay Jay French show up and go through the backstage door. I think we might have seen Mark “The Animal” Mendoza’s arrival, too. Eventually the club opened up, we got in with our fake ID’s (we were 16 at the time) and ordered some Jack & Cokes from a hot waitress named Dizzy. Being inside L’Amour was so awesome. Killer metal was blasting over the P.A. and the place was filling up with rowdy headbangers. We were easily the youngest there but no one bothered us. The show itself was incredible. Twisted Sister in 1983 was completely ferocious and really, really loud. The Animal’s bass was so loud it felt like I was going to puke. Dee would get right in our faces and scream the lyrics at us. It was close to 4AM when we finally left the club and had to figure out what to do next. I had told my mother I was sleeping over at someone’s house so she wasn’t expecting me home for hours. We took a slow ride on the B train back into Manhattan and killed time in a hotel lobby before Grand Central opened up. Arriving back in Pelham around 6AM we snoozed for a bit in the laundry room of an apartment building before heading home. The trip was such a success we couldn’t wait to do it all over again.

It wasn’t until Good Friday April 20, 1984, that we were able to repeat the process. We took a later train into the city but knew we would still get to the club really early. Sitting on a wall in Brooklyn was better than doing anything in Pelham. We also came up with the brilliant idea of taking mescaline for the show. Weed, Bud talls and Jack Daniels were standard issue party supplies but we wanted to make it extra special. Mesc was loaded with speed back then so we figured it would help keep us jacked up all night for maximum headbanging.

Here’s where things get a little hazy. I really have no recollection of what we did before getting inside the club. We probably went to the same Carvel for dinner. I’m not sure if we took the mescaline outside or inside the club. Either way I’m sure it was washed down with Jack & Coke. Once inside we saw Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda hanging out at one of the bars. We couldn’t believe it! Wayne had made a Twisted Sister vest and he went up and got him to sign it. The whole band was hanging out, except for Dee. Jay Jay was preoccupied with playing Pac Man but everyone signed the vest and either Eddie or AJ brought it backstage for Dee to sign. We were fuckin’ stoked.

The only snag in my plan was that my mother said I could go out but I couldn’t stay overnight at my friend’s. She was expecting me home around midnight. At some point I went out to a pay phone in the lobby and had the unpleasant task of calling her to tell her I wasn’t going to be home anytime soon. She freaked. It probably helped that I was tripping because I just kept repeating slowly and calmly that I was fine and I would see her around 6AM. It didn’t go over well but I had come too far and retreat was not an option.

At some point during the long wait for Twisted’s set I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying my trip. I felt super uneasy and paranoid. They were showing this horror film called Mother’s Day on the screen while they were blasting Mercyful Fate, Accept and Iron Maiden over the P.A. I was getting pretty freaked. Later on I calmed down when they were playing “Symptom of the Universe” by Black Sabbath. Right when the acoustic part of the song kicked in the video screen started showing a clip of a Tom & Jerry cartoon with them playing acoustic guitars. I laughed about that for a very long time that night.

The opening act was a band called Takashi. I had bought their debut EP, Kamikaze Killers, at the New Rochelle mall. They never carried much heavy stuff so I would buy anything remotely metal that they had in stock. Takashi also got a lot of airplay on Long Island college radio station WCWP during their “Rock ‘N’ Roll Weekend” programming. I wasn’t that impressed with the EP but was hoping they’d be heavier in concert. At one point early in the evening Wayne and I went into the mens room to find lead singer Danny Stanton blow-drying his hair. Never a good sign. Takashi’s set was pretty lame, very Ratt/Crüe. For their big finale they played their song “Kamikaze” and had a big Japanese guy come out and wave around a Japanese flag. A bunch of headbangers in the front row ripped it out of his hands and wouldn’t give it back. Even if I wasn’t tripping, the entire situation would have been totally bizarre.

As always, AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” signaled that Twisted was about to take it to the stage. Immediately there was a surge of people towards the front. We had a big joint and a little joint left. We debated which one to light up and some huge biker guy ordered us to go for the big one. We respected our metal elders and did as told. When Twisted hit the stage with their usual opener “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” we noticed they had on brand new costumes. After the first few songs Dee told us they were about to release a new album and wanted to try out some of the new songs in front of a raunchy club crowd. It was very cool hearing songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “I Wanna Rock” and “Burn in Hell” for the first time blasting through triple stacks and with Dee in full force. Towards the end of the set Dee said that he had a special song for us called “S.M.F.” Back then S.M.F. was a phrase known only amongst rabid metal maniacs. The place went nuts singing “sick mother fucker” on the chorus. The rest of the show was typical Twisted insanity — “Under the Blade,” “Shoot ‘tm Down,” “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll,” their frenzied version of “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” and many more. As it turns out this was a really important show in Twisted history. Not long after, they would become a huge band via MTV and leave the Tri-State bar scene. Also not long after, the drinking age was raised to 21 and the entire nightclub landscape changed.

I kept my word and got home promptly at 6AM to face the wrath of my wide-awake mother. She was beyond pissed. My poor grandmother was already up and toiling in the kitchen, preparing the Easter feast for the following day, and had to sit through all that screaming while trying to fry meatballs. I was still tripping. I went up to my room and tried to sleep for an hour before leaving for work. It was a long day. I’ve had a lot of fun playing shows on 4/20 the past decade but nothing will come close to topping that night from 30 years ago.

Twisted Sister, “The Kids are Back” Live 1984

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Spine of Overkill, by Woody High

Posted in Columns on February 4th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Reportedly “shamed into action” by the recent fifth anniversary of this site, Online How To Write A High School Application Debate - Hire top writers to do your essays for you. Only HQ writing services provided by top professionals. If you are striving to know Mighty High guitarist/vocalist and all-around champion of scene unity Conclusion In A Research Papers: A professional writer who has the skills, tools, and diligence to create high-quality business materials for you. Receive Chris “Woody High” MacDermott returns with a new installment of his ongoing series, “Spine of Overkill.” It’s been a while, but quite frankly I’m happy to post one of these anytime he wants to send it over. In this edition, *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The world needs your novel Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook [Donald Maass] Forbidden Homework on Amazon.com Woody recalls essay mental disorders Homework Help History Timeline after school i do my homework in french do my homework net Crumbsuckers Discovery Assessment - Allow the specialists to do your homework for you. Get started with research paper writing and make the best college research Life of Dreams album and his first trip to brock university essay writing help Need go site research papers topics on it religion at the service of nationalism and other essays CBGB’s to see them play a Sunday matinee.


Crumbsuckers — Life of Dreams

My first trip to CBGB’s should be something that I remember really well but I don’t. It was either C.O.C. around the time Animosity came out or it was a Crumbsuckers gig. Either way, it most definitely involved quarts of Budweiser, my bullet belt and my good friend Jon. I knew all about CB’s but hadn’t worked up the nerve to go there on my own just yet. I wasn’t sure how a metal chooch from the suburbs would be accepted at the punk mecca. It took a chance meeting over 300 miles away to finally get me through the doors.

I left for college in Zeptember 1985 at SUNY Brockport, way upstate New York near Rochester. On the very first day I was standing on line for a free hamburger at some lame-ass student mixer wearing my favorite Venom shirt. Out of nowhere this short little dude with huge muscles and a mohawk comes running up to me and says “Dude, I love Venom! Are you into hardcore punk, too?” I told him I was just starting to get really into it. The next thing he says is “Cool! Do you like the Plasmatics?” Of course I loved the Plasmatics! He introduced himself to me as Jon (pronounced “Yon”) and that he was from Yonkers. I told him I was from New Rochelle and from that moment on we caused serious mayhem for several years. Talk about scene unity! He brought me up to speed on New York hardcore and a lot of classic punk stuff I’d missed. In turn I played him Motörhead, The Rods, early Iron Maiden and Slayer’s Haunting the Chapel EP. I really blew his mind when I played him Master of Reality by Black Sabbath. He’d never heard it before and it flipped his lid big time, especially “Into the Void.” He said he never listened to the Cro-Mags the same way after that, and they were his favorite band.

We both worked at the college radio station WBSU. In late ’85 or early ’86, we got in an advance tape from Combat Records — Life of Dreams by the Crumbsuckers. Jon knew all about these guys and said I’d love it. I put the tape into my Walkman and headed off to class with it pounding through the headphones. Holy shit, this was just what I’d been looking for. Hardcore intensity with metal chops crammed into short, speedy songs. The back to back openers of “Just Sit There” and “Trapped” completely floored me. This was like the best of Bad Brains and Exodus rolled into one. I played that tape over and over again. Then we played the hell out of the vinyl on the air once it was officially released. I risked the station’s FCC license by playing songs like “Shit’s Creek” and “Bullshit Society.” I felt these were important messages that everyone needed to hear. Especially “Bullshit Society,” which is still one of the few political songs I’ve ever really liked. I’ve been quoting the lyric, “It’s so true, it’s a bullshit society,” for over 25 years. And every election day I always make sure to crank up “Super Tuesday.” All 16 songs are great but my favorite by far has always been “Hubrun.” On the lyric sheet under the title “Hubrun” it says “words: insignificant” but I disagree. A song about a Long Island weeed road trip is extremely significant. Recently on the Crumbsuckers Facebook page they were nice enough to use Google Maps to show the spot where they used to score dope. They also transcribed the lyrics which include brilliant couplets such as:

Bong hit!
Go for it.
Dusted weed?
Holy Shit!

Strike the flint to the steel and torch up that old bowl.
And that smoke hits your lungs, and its all minty and cold.
Then this rush hits your head, just like a tidal wave.
And before you know it, you’ll become its slave.

Shortly after the album’s release I was talking to Combat’s radio rep, a big guy named MegaDon. Spring break was coming up and I asked him if any Combat bands were playing NYC while I was in town. He said the Crumbsuckers were doing a CB’s Sunday matinee and filming it for some videos. I was fuckin’ stoked! Whenever I was home I’d work a bunch of shifts at Joey’s Luncheonette in Pelham to earn some extra scratch for albums, shirts and beer. On Sundays I’d open the store at 5:30AM and work until 2PM before space trucking into the city. MegaDon put me on the guest list so I had even more beer money than usual. I have no recollection whatsoever who else played that Sunday afternoon but I do remember the Crumbsuckers blowing the roof off the place. I’d only been to a few punk shows before this but this one was more nuts than usual, probably because of the cameras. It was only a few years ago that I saw the actual video for “Trapped.” Thankfully my ridiculous GBH style hair isn’t prominently featured.

As great as the CB’s show was, the one they played in Rochester later that year was even better. They were opening for Discharge at the Penny Arcade on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. This was gonna be a killer show! Then a friend of mine picked up the new Discharge album Grave New World. Holy shit, it sucked! At first we thought it was some kind of a spoof on King Diamond but each song was worse than the next. But there was no way we were gonna miss the Crumbsuckers no matter how bad the Discharge album was. The label hooked me up with a free ticket again and said if we got there early we could interview them. Me, Jon and a few other dudes piled in a car and got there just after soundcheck. The Crumbsucker guys were very cool and answered all of our stupid questions. Guitarist Dave Wynn was especially nice to us. All he wanted to do was smoke pot and talk about Frank Zappa, King Crimson and Santana. They were pretty adamant about saying they weren’t a hardcore band and wanted to be known solely as “Crumb-Rock.” They did some hilarious station ID’s for us using the “Crumb-Rock” tag-line. When it was show time they blasted out a killer set playing just about everything off of Life of Dreams but even faster. There was only about 20 or 30 people there but they didn’t let that bother them. Discharge was completely horrible. They sounded like Zebra. The only good part of their set was when they let Crumbsuckers vocalist Chris Notaro sing “State Violence / State Control” with them.

[If you’d like more info on Discharge’s disastrous US tour for Grave New World, check out this report with amazing audio from their San Francisco show.]

Over the next year or so I saw the Crumbsuckers a few other times but those were definitely the most memorable occasions. Round Christmas 1987 I got an invite to the Relativity/Combat holiday party at the China Club in NYC. Most of the Crumbsuckers were there and we got really drunk while Joe Satriani played a set. I was looking forward to their next album but when Beast on My Back came out in 1988 it was a major disappointment. It was more metal but had all these parts that sounded like Queensryche. I was totally confused and not into it at all. That seemed to be most people’s opinion, though I know there are some out there who love the album. The band broke up not long after. They did a successful reunion show a few years ago and it’s just been announced that the Italian label F.O.A.D. is putting out a mint deluxe double album of early demos and live shows (pre-order info here). It looks awesome and I’m definitely ready for some more CRUMB ROCK!

Crumbsuckers, “Trapped” official video

Crumbsuckers, Live at L’Amours 1986

Crumbsuckers on Thee Facebooks

F.O.A.D. Records

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Spine of Overkill, by Chris “Woody High” MacDermott

Posted in Columns on August 29th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Epic! No other word will do to describe the latest Spine of Overkill column by Dna Rna And Protein Synthesis Essay--Freelance Writer, Tim Marsolais, is available for Business Writing, Copywriting, Technical Writing and Web Content Writing. Woody High. Dude has outdone himself, speaking from both personal experience and critical expertise about the Big 4 before the Big 4. All metal, no marketing. Cheers to customer retention in e commerce research papers Pay Ghostwriter Gezocht as creative writing coursework personal statement medical school application Woody and dig this if you dare:

The Big 4 (Before The Big 4)

The past few years there’s been all this hoopla about “the Big Four of Thrash Metal” and who’s in it, who’s not, who should be, etc. structure master thesis computer science site Ann Arbor history papers for sale college application essay help online service Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth are certainly the biggest four bands to have emerged out of the 1980s thrash heap and all of ’em put out big albums in 1986-‘87. Exodus and Overkill predate some of those bands and paid the price for being a little too early to the party, doing too many whippets and passing out before everyone showed up. Exciter never gets mentioned in the discussion even though their landmark debut Heavy Metal Maniac was recorded in 1982 and released in January ‘83.

But the road all these bands traveled on were paved by what I like to call “The Big 4 Before The Big 4” – Anvil, The Rods, Riot and Twisted Sister. These bands were all on the wrong continent to be part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal but helped inspire the first wave of thrash and rabid metal mongers in search of faster and louder. If 1986 is looked at as the pinnacle of thrash, then 1982 can be seen as the peak of the underground street metal era.


By now everyone’s seen the Anvil movie and there’s even been a bit of a backlash against them because they’re sort of popular. Whatever. The fact remains that their second album, Metal on Metal, came out in April 1982 and kicked major ass. I read about Anvil in the pages of my favorite zine, Kick*Ass, and knew right away I had to check this band out. Anvil took their Ted Nugent, Deep Purple and Motörhead influences and mixed them with potent Canadian beer to form a speedy new hybrid. Metal on Metal contains many classics like the anthemic title-track, “Mothra,” “666” and the killer instrumental “March of the Crabs.” I was thrilled by the dirty lyrics of “Jackhammer,” “Tease Me, Please Me,” “Tag Team,” “Heatsink,” and “Scenery.” The only song that I was not that into was “Stop Me,” sung by pretty boy rhythm guitarist Dave Allison. Back in 1982, you usually had to put up with one kinda wimpy song that you know the record company made them do to try and get on the radio. Lips‘ lead guitar playing is killer on the entire album. He combined a fancy Michael Schenker/Ritchie Blackmore Euro style with a full on gonzo Nugent malicious intent that’s quite impressive. Robb Reiner‘s drumming took inspiration from Carmine Appice and Tommy Aldridge but he was also smart enough to get hip to the swinging approach from Louis Bellson, an early double bass drummer in the jazz world. (Check out Bellson‘s classic drum solo piece “Skin Deep” if you don’t believe me.)

I never got to see Anvil at their peak in ‘82 or ‘83 when they were deafening everyone at L’Amours and in New Jersey clubs but I caught them a few years later in Rochester, NY. It was either 1987 or ‘88 when they played a club called Backstreets (the radio ads said, “Backstreets is HUUUUUUUUUGE!”) on a frigid, rainy, snowy night in the middle of the week. There was hardly anyone in the place. The guy who I had convinced to drive wanted to leave before they even played when he saw all the gear on stage. Back then, Lips would have three Fender Twin amps sitting on top of three extension cabinets. Bassist Ian Dickson had a pair of Ampeg SVT stacks and Dave had double Marshall stacks. Robb‘s drum kit was enormous with a giant anvil in between the bass drums. There was no way I was going to split so I had to promise I’d buy him a garbage plate from Nick Tahou‘s after the show to get him to stick around. I’d seen bands play to small crowds and it was obvious they weren’t into it. Anvil came out blasting at full volume and went completely nuts on stage like they were headlining a stadium. They really pulled out all the stops. When Lips busted out the vibrator for the solo on “Bondage” he stuck it in some girl’s drink to stir it up for her. I’m sure it must have improved the flavor greatly. Before playing the song “Mad Dog,” Lips pulled his bulldog onstage and showed the crowd the dog’s balls. Classy and classic.

Anvil – “March of the Crabs” and “666” Live in Japan 1983

The Rods

The Rods traveled a similar path to Anvil. Hailing from upstate NY but making a name for themselves in the clubs of outer borough NYC and New Jersey, The Rods were another deafening live act. The Rods took inspiration from late ‘60s loud power trios like Cream, Hedrix, James Gang, Blue Cheer and sped it up. Playing Led Zep covers in Jersey dumps to underage drinkers requires desperate measures to get their attention. Their independently released debut Rock Hard came out in 1980 but was picked up and repackaged as The Rods in 1981 by Arista. The Rods were getting a lot of attention in the UK newspaper Sounds and toured over there with Iron Maiden. It didn’t hurt that guitarist David “Rock” Feinstein was the cousin of Ronnie James Dio and played with him in his pre-Rainbow band Elf.

By the time they got around to recording their second album Wild Dogs in 1982 it looked like they were going to be a really big band. Wild Dogs is a bombastic, belligerent collection of songs that belonged in the tape deck of every Trans Am in the Tri-State and beyond. Still does as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t matter where I am but as long as it’s warm enough to have all the windows of my car rolled down I’m cranking “Too Hot to Stop” and I don’t give a fuck who doesn’t like it. The opening riff is one of the best that AC/DC didn’t write and the lyrics “I’m low down and dirty/I’m a nasty man” are great to yell at some uptight broad in the car next to you at the red light. And when you’re burning rubber and she’s choking on your smoke everyone knows that you are indeed “Too Hot to Stop.” Unless you’re pulling up to the liquor store, of course. Then it’s okay to stop. But when you get back in there are plenty more kickass jams to blast. There are so many great lyrics on Wild Dogs. “Rockin’ ‘n’ Rollin’ Again” has some of the best like, “Red hot women, snortin’ cocaine/Line ’em up I wanna hit ’em again!” The Rods love rock ‘n’ roll and love writing songs about rock ‘n’ roll like, “The Night Lives to Rock” and sleazy road-life-inspired, gonorrhea-drenched love songs like “Violation” (“I didn’t know she was only 17!”) and “No Sweet Talk, Honey.” Their attempt at getting on the radio was with a cover of a cover. Vanilla Fudge had a hit in the ‘60s with a slowed down version of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes. The Rods’ version is shorter and a bit faster but didn’t give them a hit.

It is to my eternal regret that I have never once seen The Rods, one of my all-time favorite bands. They’re back in action again and put out a new album last year called Vengeance that was pretty good. I’m hoping they play New York someday and bring down those custom speaker cabinets that Rock and bassist Gary Bordonaro used to play through. The back cover of their Live album shows TWELVE cabinets on either side of Carl Canedy‘s giant, shiny double bass drum kit. Back in the pre-Dave Lombardo days, Carl was the only guy to rival Robb Reiner in the double bass wars. Phil Taylor was too Keith Moon-ish to compete with the accuracy of Carl and Robb. For those who don’t know, Carl plays drums on the first Manowar demo and produced a lot of bands for Combat Records including Overkill, Anthrax, Exciter and Possessed.

The Rods – “Power Lover” live in NY 1983


If ever a band deserved the two-hour Behind The Music treatment, it’s Brooklyn’s own Riot. Founding member Mark Reale started the band in 1975 and sadly passed away earlier this year. There’s a box set titled A Study in Frustration of swing-era band leader Fletcher Henderson. That same title could be used if they ever decide to make a movie about Riot. The new issue of Classic Rock Magazine has a great article about Riot‘s formation and career struggles through the 1980s that will tell you everything you need to know. If ever a band deserved more success it was them. Bands like Anvil and The Rods were ultimately too heavy and wild for an AC/DC mainstream hard rock crowd in 1982, but Riot could have gone the distance. 1981’s Fire Down Under is an undeniable classic. Heavy enough for a metal crowd, melodic enough for normal people and great playing for the musicianly types. Plus, singer Guy Speranza had a killer afro to rival Handsome Dick Manitoba or Don Brewer.

When Guy decided to cut his ‘fro and quit the band, they came up with a winner in his replacement Rhett Forrester. Rhett had poofy blonde hair, a lot of charisma and a great bluesy voice. The album Restless Breed is another classic. Some purists say Fire Down Under is better but I’ve always put them on equal footing. The only drawback Riot really had was their goofy half-man/half-seal mascot and some people never took them seriously because of the album covers. Their loss. Restless Breed has some of the heaviest songs they ever did like “Hard Lovin’ Man” (not the Deep Purple song), “CIA,” “Violent Crimes,” and “Loanshark.” Backing up Rhett was the powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Kip Lemming and drummer Sandy Slavin and the excellent guitar team of Mark Reale and Rick Ventura. The title-track is a moody slow burn that should have become an afternoon drive time anthem alongside Blackfoot‘s “Highway Song.” If you ever need a song to go riding off into the sunset with, this is it. “Loved by You” could have easily won over Van Halen fans but David Lee Roth always maintained a “no blonde singer” policy for his opening acts. If you had a girlfriend in 1982, she probably would have liked “Over to You” (not the Black Sabbath song), “Showdown” and “Dream Away.” Riot‘s attempt at getting on the radio with a cover of “When I was Young” by The Animals could have worked in getting some older classic rock fans to check them out. Both Guy and Rhett died way too young and under tragic circumstances. It’s sad that Mark‘s passing has made more people aware of Riot‘s classic albums but it would be even sadder if they were totally ignored.

Riot – “Restless Breed” live

Twisted Sister

Rounding out this class of 1982 is Long Island’s own Twisted Fuckin’ Sister. Everybody’s aware of their huge MTV video hits but hardcore metal freaks like me still cling to their early singles, EPs and live tapes. By 1982, Twisted Sister had created a huge following in the NY/NJ/CT area by blasting out a couple sets a night four or five times a week. The drinking age was 18 and fake IDs were very easy to get. When underage girls are at a show that guarantees a ton of guys are going to be there trying to get in their pants. Twisted Sister were loved by blue collar suburban metalheads but looked at as a joke by the industry and hipsters in NYC. They couldn’t get a record deal and rarely ever played in Manhattan. They’d rent out the Palladium and sell it out but would get no media attention. Other bar bands like The Good Rats or Zebra had big followings but Twisted Sister crowds were the rowdiest. They’d rile everyone up with smokin’ versions of “Draw the Line” by Aerosmith, “Sin City” by AC/DC and “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Rainbow before pulling out their originals. As a kid I heard their name all the time on the local rock radio stations concert listings and seen some of the older burnouts in school wearing their shirts. In early 1982 I saw them play live on a tv show and they totally blew my mind. I stayed up late to watch a show hosted by Flo & Eddie from The Turtles but I was a big fan of their work with Frank Zappa. They introduced this bunch of freaks that all looked like Alice Cooper (who I’ve always been a huge fan of) and then they blasted into “Under the Blade.” You can bet when they finally released their debut album, also called Under the Blade, I picked it up the day it came out.

In recent years, Twisted Sister has been acknowledging their early days more often and have answered some demands from fans. One of them was to finally re-release Under the Blade as it originally came out (they remixed it at some point in the ‘80s and Atlantic reissued it) alongside the Ruff Kuts EP. Last year they did just that and packaged it with an unbelievable DVD from their set at the Reading Festival right after they recorded the album. They also put out an incredible DVD of a full show from earlier that summer right before they took off for England to go into the studio with Pete Way of UFO as producer. “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)” is one of the best opening fuck-you songs of all time. Very Alice Cooper influenced, it tells lays it down that if you’re not into this then you’re lame and get the fuck out. Twisted Sister often get compared to KISS and there are a lot of similarities, but they always had more in common with Alice‘s blend of anthemic hard rock and theatrics. “Shoot ’em Down” and “Bad Boys (of Rock ‘n’ Roll)” are classic Bon Scott-era influenced AC/DC songs and “Sin After Sin” is a great Judas Priest song mixed with “1969” by The Stooges.” “Tear It Loose” is pure Motörhead and “Day of the Rocker” is a great Rose Tattoo tribute. “Run For Your Life” and “Destroyer” are so fuckin heavy but the title track is the real highlight of the album. So creepy and heavy at the same time. If you can’t headbang to this song then you must have been born without a neck. I was lucky enough to catch Twisted Sister a few times in their pre-fame club daze and they remain one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. If you don’t believe me, there’s plenty of evidence out there to confirm it. A friend of mine’s been hooking me up with some vintage live tapes the past few years. Anyone who wants to check ’em out, get in touch and I’ll be glad to hook you up.

Twisted Sister – “Under The Blade” live 1982

I recently turned 45 years old, which means I’ve been listening to these records for 30 years. Jesus, that’s a long fucking time. Each year some new aches and pains seem to come out of nowhere but I can accurately pinpoint the beginning of my hearing loss.

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Spine of Overkill, by Chris “Woody High” MacDermott

Posted in Columns on July 18th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Continuing to astound in his fifth column for The Obelisk, Chris “Woody High” MacDermott of Mighty High pays homage to The Ramones‘ 1984 album, Too Tough to Die and shares a few NYC memories along the way. Awesome. Please enjoy:

Dude is a fucking genius.

My first “Spine of Overkill” column about Venom‘s Welcome to Hell was inspired by a frigid night waiting for the subway. This month’s column was inspired by the intense heat wave we just had on the East Coast. Waiting for the F train at the Broadway-Lafayette station in hot weather is literally hell. I tend to listen to The Ramones a lot in the summer but when it gets downright hot ‘n’ nasty, their 1984 album Too Tough to Die is my soundtrack to sweating. It was released in Rocktober, 1984, which means it has been pumping into my ears via Sony Walkman, iPod and now fancy new iPhone for 28 consecutive summers in New York City. I used to have a cassette with Too Tough to Die on one side and Live at Max’s Kansas City by The Heartbreakers on the other side that I would blast constantly. Listening to these lowlifes somehow made the fact that my sneakers were melting into the pavement a little more tolerable.

Too Tough to Die was a major improvement over their previous album Subterranean Jungle, which found The Ramones working with people who had hit records for Joan Jett. Not long after that in 1983, Johnny Ramone got his head beat in during an argument with some creep and was hospitalized. While he was recuperating, Dee Dee wrote a bunch of great songs and then wrote more with Johnny once he recovered. The result was a hard-hitting kick ass rock ‘n’ roll album in step with their classic first four. Marky Ramone got the boot for being too drunk and was replaced by the excellent Richie Ramone, also a songwriter. Joey Ramone contributed some great songs to the album but it’s really a Dee Dee and Johnny record. Another reason why this album is so good is because it reunited The Ramones with the winning production team of T. Erdelyi (aka original drummer Tommy Ramone) and Ed Stasium.

Side one kicks off with the kick ass “Mama’s Boy.” Johnny‘s guitar blasts a chord and Dee Dee counts the band in. A slower than usual grinding riff announced to everyone that The Ramones were back in full force. Joey‘s voice sounds huge and Elvis-like. Maybe even a little like Jim Morrison without all the annoying poetry crap. Jim could never write great lyrics like “I don’t wanna work in a hot dog stand, be a busboy, messenger or a door man/It’s an abstract world, you’re an abstract man/Abstract city don’t give a damn.” The song speeds up for the chorus, which will forever be altered in my universe because a friend thought they were yelling “Mama mama mama mama mama’s bald!” Following up that song with the slow, moody “I’m Not Afraid of Life” and the fast title-track is a killer one-two-three combo that’s hard to beat. Joey takes a breather while the band kicks out their only instrumental song “Durango 95.”  Wikipedia says that “Durango 95” is the name of the car driven by Alex in A Clockwork Orange, but there also used to be a restaurant named Durango next to Joey‘s apartment in the East Village. It was #95. Drinking beer on the sidewalk across from Joey‘s place was a favorite summertime activity of mine. I’d always have my friends meet me there and we often get to say hi to the great man and, occasionally, get a glimpse of his OCD in full effect as he’d try to kick gum off the sidewalk or go in and out of his lobby repeatedly.

Getting back to the album, Dee Dee takes over the mic on the short and fast “Wart Hog.” The original album’s lyric sheet just put a big question mark under the song title. I guess they felt his lyrics about “junkies,” “fags” and “commies” were a little too over the top. Didn’t matter. Everyone knew the words and loved screaming along at the live shows. “Danger Zone” starts off with some hilarious in-studio dialogue with Joey asking “What song are we doing? ‘Danger Zone.’ OK, ready?” before another two-minute blast of real New York punk takes off. Side one wraps up with Joey‘s “Chasing the Night,” featuring a possible James Gang lyrical reference of being up all night and asleep all day.

“Howling at the Moon” starts off side two and sounds like a Joey song but was in fact written by Dee Dee. It’s the most commercial song on the album and was produced by Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics. The record label was looking for a hit and the band said they’d do a radio friendly song if they left them alone on the rest of the album. I’ve always liked the song and they keyboards don’t bother me too much. I don’t think it ever got too much radio play for them. “Daytime Dilemma” is another more pop-oriented song written by Joey with guitarist Daniel Rey, who probably plays on it, too. Things get faster and louder on Dee Dee‘s “Planet Earth 1988” which features overtly political lyrics. Johnny Ramone probably hated this song. Richie‘s song “Humankind” is a good Ramones song and his writing debut for the band. Dee Dee gets another lead vocal on “Endless Vacation,” a great song that alternates between slow and heavy and fast and hard. Side two ends with the great rockabilly influenced song “No Go.”

There were also some cool B-sides that went along with the album. The import 12″ for “Howling at the Moon” had a good version of the Rolling Stones song “Street Fighting Man” and a great original called “Smash You.” In 1985 another 12″ single came out for a song called “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” that was later retitled “My Brain is Hanging Upside Down” to appease Ronald Reagan lover Johnny Ramone. The B-side of that single contained a song called “Go Home Ann.” The credits for that song read “produced by Ed Stasium, mix by Lemmy.” I pretty much pissed, jizzed and crapped my pants the first time I saw that. Motörhead and The Ramones have always been two of my favorite bands, but back then I was convinced they WERE the same band. I would tell everyone that some day they would announce a Motörhead/Ramones tour and then the world would self-destruct. I got to ask Joey several times about touring with Motörhead and he always loved the idea. I got to ask Johnny about it, too. Businessman that he is, Johnny said that it wouldn’t make sense since they shared such a common audience. His eyes did light up and had a big smile when I told him to think about how loud it would be.

Speaking of loud, I had the great pleasure of seeing The Ramones many times during the Richie Ramone era starting with Too Tough to Die through Marky‘s return in 1987. They were always great and always really fucking loud. When hardcore punk had its inevitable collision with metal, a lot of punk bands started using bigger amps but The Ramones always had triple stacks on stage. I can verify that most of them were turned on and not just for show. But when they would play L’Amours in Brooklyn things would get even louder than usual. I have no idea if this is true or not but I was told that The Ramones used to bring in some of their touring P.A. to supplement the already deafening house sound system at the club. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did. I was at a few shows at L’Amours and there were definitely some metal regulars who were skeptical about The Ramones. By the end of the night they were converted by sheer volume alone. The loudest concerts I’ve ever seen were at L’AmoursMotörhead, Twisted Sister, Overkill — but I think The Ramones might have beat them all by a few db’s. Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny are all sadly deceased but they live on in my tinnitus.

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Spine of Overkill, by Chris “Woody High” MacDermott

Posted in Columns on June 19th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

In his fourth column for The Obelisk, the herb-demon known to us mortals as Woody High digs into the dank recesses of rock and roll memory and emerges with a tribute to Killdozer‘s 1989 opus, 12 Point Buck. Please enjoy:

Woddy is a fucking genius, dude.Any discussion of heavy music in the 1980s should include the band Killdozer, but they are often left out. Never a metal band and completely at odds with the hardcore punk scene, the three wild-eyed southern Wisconsin boys churned out some of the heaviest jams of the decade. As Touch & Go recording artists they were often lumped in with so called “noise rock” bands like their labelmates Butthole Surfers, Big Black and Scratch Acid as well as Pussy Galore or even Sonic Youth. Some fancypants New York critic tried to label these bands as “pigfuck,” but that term really makes no sense. Killdozer shared some traits with these bands but they were way heavier and a lot more fun. They released some great albums in the ‘’80s and ‘90s before the farewell “Fuck You, We Quit” tour in 1996. The twin peaks of their catalog are definitely 1988’s all-covers album, For Ladies Only (also the name of a great Steppenwolf record), and 1989’s Twelve Point Buck. For Ladies Only finds the band exploring their roots and delivering outstanding versions of classic rock staples such as “Take the Money and Run,” “Funk #49,” “Hush” and a moving two-part “American Pie.” Their version of “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” was used during the end credits of the movie Old School. Once you hear Killdozer‘s version of a classic, it’s hard to go back to the original.

Albums like Little Baby Buntin’, Snakeboy and the Burl EP were confounding to many people but instant classics for me and my crew of weirdos. What’s not to love about a band that sounds like The Birthday Party, Venom and ZZ Top tapes all playing simultaneously at half-speed? Songs like “Hamburger Martyr” (opening and closing with a drawn out “fffffffffuuuuuuck youuuuuuuuu”) and “King of Sex” were great for clearing out a room. The lightweights would split and there would be more beer for the remaining few. All the potential that those early albums hinted at was fully delivered when Twelve Point Buck was unleashed. Slower, heavier, funnier, scarier. Everything I already loved about Killdozer was new and improved. The trademark bulldozer bass and powerful bellow of Michael Gerald was deeper. Dan Hobson‘s drumming was meatier and more robotic while his brother Bill‘s guitar playing was piercing.

The album begins with an unaccompanied voice screaming “Enter the 49 gates of uncleanliness!” followed by an acoustic guitar strumming in the background for about 30 seconds. Finally the skull-crushing song “New Pants and Shirt” thunders in at full bore, a cautionary tale of laundry woes. The screeching feedback segues into “Space: 1999,” a slowed-down wah-powered mindfuck with lyrical steals from Hendrix, Nugent and Zeppelin. Twelve Point Buck was recorded, according to the liner notes, “during bow hunting season” by Butch Vig at Smart Studios in their hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, and contains some of Vig‘s best work. Brass instruments are used to great effect on the song “Lupus,” which was the single from the album (an incredible version of Janet Jackson‘s “Nasty” was on the flip side). “Lupus” is an ode to author Flannery O’Connor and offers a nice summary of some of her best stories.

Other lyrical themes on the album include the song “Richard,” written from the perspective of a bank worker sent to repossess land from deadbeat farmers. “Man vs. Nature” celebrates the amazing disaster movies made by “the master of realism” Irwin Allen like The Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno. “Free Love In Amsterdam” starts off with a very unsettling introduction and contains the equally unsettling chorus of, “There’s free love in Amsterdam/We can make love without a care.” If it was just about anyone else singing those lines it would sound corny but Michael Gerald‘s pleading is heartwarming.

Witnessing Killdozer on this tour at CBGB was even better than the album. They were loud as hell and it was great to see parts of the audience recoil in horror once they realized they were rocking to Killdozer covering Bad Company. A few months later I saw the Melvins for the first time and looked at them as sort of Killdozer Junior at that time. Amphetamine Reptile recently released a Melvins/Killdozer split single. “Lupus” appears on the Killdozer side and it’s the same as the version from Twelve Point Buck. It would have been great to hear the Melvins tackle a Killdozer song. Maybe they have some sort of heavyweight collaboration planned for the future. In the meantime, put on your hunting vest and crank this muther:

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Spine of Overkill by Chris “Woody High” MacDermott

Posted in Columns on February 28th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

There was never a doubt in my mind that when I wanted to have a column on ’80s rock and metal, Woody High was the one for the job. In his first edition of “Spine of Overkill,” the guitarist/vocalist of stonerly Brooklyn punkers Mighty High remembers his first encounters with Venom‘s pivotal first album, 1981’s Welcome to Hell.

There’s something about frigid weather that always makes me want to listen to Venom. The other night it was really fucking cold and as I waited for the subway on an elevated platform “One Thousand Days in Sodom” was the obvious iPod choice. Venom‘s debut album was released in December 1981 but I didn’t get it until about a year later. It was a frigid night in New York City when I first bought it and had taken the Metro North train in from New Rochelle to go record shopping. Back then I had a part time job making trophies for my high school science teacher. I would spend hours standing in his cramped, unheated garage screwing together these stupid awards given out to everyone on the JV football team or swim team. It was boring as shit but easy money to help fuel my budding metal fixation. I had been staring at the cover of Welcome to Hell for a few months in the bins at Bleecker Bob’s not sure if I was ready for Venom or not. After discovering Motörhead I kept looking for the heaviest, fastest shit I could get my resin-stained fingers on. A lot of people told me to stay away from them because of their alleged Satanism. One metal dude even told me that Venom sucked and couldn’t play as good as a punk rock band. Finally, I decided to take the plunge and risk $7.98 plus tax (my LP still has the price sticker on it). Back then that was a lot of money for an import LP and I had to work about two hours and 20 minutes to make that much. Fuck it, I had already gambled on Motörhead and won big time. Here was another three-piece band from England with bullet belts. How bad could it be?

Nothing could prepare me for the opening vomit blast of “Sons of Satan.” I thought I was hot shit because I had a couple Motörhead records, a Plasmatics record and even Damaged by Black Flag (got that one in a killer trade: gave some hippie kid the double live Genesis album and he gave me Damaged and Sabotage by Black Sabbath!). This was the fastest, noisiest shit I’d ever heard. It sounded like all my Motörhead, The Plasmatics and Black Flag records playing at the same time. I really didn’t know what to make of it. The next two songs “Welcome to Hell” and “Schizo” sounded a bit more like regular metal to me and soon my head was banging and my mother was yelling at me to turn it down. Every song on this album is a killer. I really couldn’t believe they had a song that was about how good angel dust was. I had yet to try it but this convinced me it was definitely something I should inquire about the next time I rode my bicycle into the Bronx to buy some weed. “Witching Hour,” “In League with Satan,” “Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)” — so many hits! Then I also discovered that Venom, like Motörhead, put out lots of cool 7″ singles with killer songs not on the album like “In Nomine Satanas.” 

Back then Venom had a small but diverse crew of weirdos for fans. It seemed like more punks and goths liked them more than metalheads. Welcome to Hell sounds like crap, but if you were only into Priest, Maiden, Scorpions kind of metal it was totally unlistenable. They even got a big writeup in the punk ‘zine Forced Exposure way back when. All this changed when Black Metal came out and the production values were slightly improved. The sound of Welcome to Hell is so raw and some of the songs like “…Sodom” and “…Satanas” have an almost rockabilly slapback echo on the vocals. It wouldn’t surprise me if Cronos is a big Elvis fan. Maybe he told the engineer he wanted his voice to sound like the Big E’s “Mystery Train.” 

Obviously, this album inspired just about every thrash, black and death metal band that followed in its metal path but it’s still the best as far as I’m concerned. For my money, only HellHammer and Bathory really took this crudeness to the next lowest level of filth. Back on Black Records in the UK recently reissued Welcome to Hell, Black Metal and At War with Satan as double LPs with all the bonus tracks on heavy-duty vinyl. I’m sure they sound great, but the best way to experience the joys of Venom is outdoors in frigid weather on tape with a quart of beer. It also sounds great if you get to go to a party and no one notices that the Talking Heads tape is over and then you slip this one in. Get ready for some of the funnest 90 seconds you’ll ever have.

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