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Harper Metal News Book Read Along (Part IV)

"Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion": PART II - "FEEL THE NOIZE"




In "FEEL THE NOIZE", Part II of “Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion” written by Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock, the rise of MTV (Music Television) and its huge effect on the rise of 1980's heavy metal is discussed. Bands such as Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Dokken and Ratt, who had been toiling for years on the club scene, were finally being signed to major record labels. Due to MTV's huge impact, "the question at the major (record) labels was no longer whether hard rock had commercial potential, but which acts in the genre had the most."


Here are sections quoted from the introduction of Part II of the book that really encapsulate the symbiotic relationship between MTV and heavy metal bands in the early 1980's:


"Although they had struggled for years to secure a deal in the U.S., when Quiet Riot released "Metal Health" on producer Spencer Proffer’s CBS-distributed Pasha label in 1983, the timing coincided perfectly with the then fledgling MTV’s insatiable demand for videos by acts that were compelling not only musically but visually. The album’s first single, “Metal Health (Bang Your Head),” gained some traction at radio, and it was MTV president Les Garland himself who requested a video from the band. The resulting clip connected immediately with viewers and the album quickly went gold. But it wasn’t until the band delivered their second music video to the network, this time for their cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize,” that Quiet Riot became a genuine mainstream phenomenon. “At one point, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing the song or switch on MTV without seeing that video,” recalls Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali."


"Metal Health would unseat the Police’s Synchronicity from the number one spot on the Billboard album chart and go on to sell six million copies, demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that hard rock was anything but the “dinosaur music” it had recently been dismissed as. In fact, it was the sound of now. And likely, of the foreseeable future as well."


“Quiet Riot didn’t just break through. They didn’t just put a hole in the wall. They knocked the fucking wall down,” says Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. After struggling for the better part of a decade to gain recognition, Snider’s band would storm the pop charts with “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The song’s accompanying concept video, which starred actor Mark Metcalf reprising his Animal House role as the spittle-spewing Doug Neidermeyer, was an MTV staple. “It was a really melodic, anthemic song, and it was a fun video,” says then network executive Rick Krim. “We knew it wasn’t just for guys who liked metal.”"


"The question at the major labels was no longer whether hard rock had commercial potential, but which acts in the genre had the most. Elektra would align itself with Mötley Crüe and Dokken, while Atlantic Records added Ratt to its fabled roster after label head Doug Morris flew from New York to Los Angeles to witness them play to a packed house at the Beverly Theater. “Doug never really ventured an opinion of ‘I really love this music,’” recalls Ratt producer Beau Hill. “He just sat there, with his mouth open, watching two thousand fans singing the words. And like a good businessman, he went, ‘Okay. I’m hearing the cash register ring on this one.’”"


"Realizing that Los Angeles was the place to be seen and heard, bands like Paris, from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Plain Jane, from central Florida, packed up their belongings and made the pilgrimage west. Paris changed their name to Poison soon after arriving in Los Angeles, while Plain Jane and their front man, Jani Lane, eventually merged with existing local act Warrant. At the same time, a group of young Hollywood natives named Slash, Steven Adler, and Tracii Guns were playing musical chairs with a number of newcomers to the scene, among them Seattle transplant Duff McKagan and two refugees from Indiana who would take the stage names Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin."


"Not all bands found the idea of uprooting themselves to be particularly appealing. Making a go of it on the East Coast, Philadelphia’s Cinderella caught the eye and ear of an up-and-coming New Jersey rocker named Jon Bon Jovi and secured a deal with the singer’s label, Mercury/PolyGram. Cinderella’s debut album, Night Songs, which featured the group posing under a pink and purple logo sporting sky-high hair and animal-print spandex, would move three million copies, ushering in a boom era when such dizzying sales numbers and over-the-top imagery became the new normal and hard rock bands were the roaring engine that kept the music industry whizzing down the fast lane."


Dee Snider of Twisted Sister also said, "Quiet Riot, they don’t get enough credit. They get discredited. But I’ve screamed it from the mountaintops. I will continue. Quiet Riot should be immortalized. What they did … first of all, they were on the West Coast doing it for years and years and years, carrying this glitter rock/glam rock torch, putting out these independent records, going to Japan, doing everything they could. And then, finally, against all odds, they break through."


Stay tuned for Part V of the Harper Metal News Book Read Along of “Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion” where I will discuss in more detail about the rise of bands such as Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Dokken and Ratt.







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