Friday, March 12, 2010

10 Random Thoughts on "Heavy Metal Britannia"

1. All that "proto-metal" stuff with Blue Cheer, Cream and the Edgar Broughton Band etc didn't really convince and took up too much time. Metal is about more than just hitting the instruments hard, and as good as those bands were, I'm listening to the first Black Sabbath album as I write this, and none of these bands really anticipate or predict it. It all starts here.

2. Rob Halford seems a decent bloke.

3. Hasn't Brian Tatler off of Diamond Head aged badly? And since when were Diamond Head as important as Saxon and Iron Maiden?

4. Deep Purple's music hasn't aged too well. And they weren't really metal. Well, maybe "Speed King"

5. Burke Shelley is a bit of an arse

6. Bill Ward has a hell of a boozer's nose. But he seems a lovely man.

7. Judas Priest's influence is overlooked. If you look at the NWOBHM bands, their sound can be traced back to Black Sabbath - but they sound more like Judas Priest.

8. Most Heavy Metal musicians aren't very articulate when it comes to defining Heavy Metal: "It's kind of .. you know, heavy"

9. Mick Box's interesting "ear flaps" theory that bands were protected from the noise from the amplifiers because ears "face forward" is an interesting one, but may not stand up to rigorous scientific examination.

10. "Symptom of the Universe" was a perfect choice for the song over the credits. Be honest.


  1. A fine piece!

    1. Agreed on the Broughton Band bit, 'ooo I was right into the dark arts ay oop'. Some of the connections were stretching it a bit, origins though they may be.

    2. Agreed!

    3. Agreed! Too much time on Diamond Head indeed.

    4. Agreed! Jon Lord 'I don't like the term Heavy Metal'

    5. Agreed!

    6. Agreed! Bill was a boozer par excellence by all accounts but a thoroughly decent bloke

    7. Agreed! heheh

    8. Agreed that it is 'heavy'

    9. Who knows, Mick Box is not always right

    10. Agreed!

    My other thoughts about the programme that it spent far too much time on a handful of bands rather expanding the feature to illustrate that NWOBHM catapulted the music beyond the Purplesque stuff that had gone before. To be honest the programme, good though it was, had the feel of something written by someone who spent 20 minutes on Google and YouTube.

    Also why no mention of Vance?
    As an essential contributor, via the FRS, promoting some of the best British Metal from 78 onwards. I know like many others it was due to him that I 'discovered' many bands I'd otherwise would have ignored.

  2. Hello there, Jimmy.

    Those are both great points. I hadn't thought about Tommy Vance, but I agree his show was hugely important. The doc gave the impression that Neal Kay's Bandwagon was more important than the FRS - I don't think that was the case.

    Overall, I don't think Heavy Metal Britannia was that bad - it could have been worse. Yet at the same time I found myself thinking about the 1990 Arena Heavy Metal special, which I'm sure you'll remember. That was flawed too, but I think it had more depth to it - less hectic, people allowed to expand on things a bit more. It also had more memorable moments: G&R being bitchy about Iron Maiden, Ozzy having difficulty pouring himself an orange juice, Napalm Death.

  3. 1 - Agree

    2 - Agree, but I never doubted it

    3 - Probably because they massively influenced Metallica/Megadeth. Besides they spent very little time interviewing Tatler actually about DH but about other stuff

    4 - Agree. I love DP but to me they're more Heavy Prog

    5 - Completely and utterly agree. Couldn't they get anyone better?

    6 - Agree

    7 - Sort of agree but I hate JP, personally. Massive in the US in the 80s though

    8 - Agree

    9 - Uriah heep weren't metal either and are derided as much as Budgie these days. They did an album called The Magician's Birthday, for God's sake

    10 - Agree

    Not a bad stab at a HM doc, but like the 1989 Arena attempt, a bit flawed.
    And why no mention of how big our greatest musical export is in just about territory?

  4. Oh, and I took great delight in air guitar being credited to one Mr Rob Loonhouse.
    Great shots incuded of Rock City from the Arena doc too - the headbangers stood in a circle, while a cock I know runs around the outside.

  5. Hello BA,

    Great point about how big Metal is everywhere. There's a magazine called Classix Metal over here which covers 80s Metal. It's essentially a well-produced fanzine and all the better for it, enthusiastic but not taking things too seriously. Anyway, in the last issue, they did a retrospective of Italian Metal. Full of bands you've never heard of with names like Gunfire, Spitfire, Steel Crown, Royal Air Force and my favourite - Drunkards. It seems there was an Italian Wave of British Heavy Metal.

    Oh, and I have yet to see an equivalent magazine about Indie rock.

    PS. I know exactly the cock you're talking about. I'm impressed, sort of.

  6. Don't be impressed, he's a cretin. Rock City WAS great though, it's a pity they don't have the Friday night Metal Night any more.
    And the first band to play at Rock City after its conversion from the Talk of the Midlands in Dec 1979? Why, Iron Maiden of course.

  7. It was arse! Utter arse. Although considering how badly the did prog, the arse wasn't as big as it could have been. It was Kelly Rowland sized, rather than Beyonce sized.

    I met Burke Shelley once, when Budgie played Bannermans pub in the Cowgate, many, many years after their day in the sun. Despite seeming like a very bitter man, he was happy to reminisce about touring with Gillan and Nightwing in nineteen eighty mumble.

    Gillan, however, is an arse of beyond even Beyonces measurements. Nightwing are probaly lovely chaps and reformed for a new album a couple of years back - - how can you not love a band who have a guitarist called Eric Percival whose nickname is Bert. God Save The Queen!