The Metal Files

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Archive for August 2009

Dokken – Up From The Ashes

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I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was living in Western Branch off of Taylor Rd with my cousin.  I don’t remember album-up-from-the-ashesexactly what day it was on but it was Jan/Feb 1991 only weeks before my 21st birthday.  I believe it was a Saturday and I was driving home from somewhere listening to Z-Rock and the local affiliate comes on the air to interview Don Dokken and Mikkey Dee about their concert that night at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA.  A former friend from high school and I had tickets and were pretty excited about the show.  I had been listening to Up From The Ashes since it came out a few months prior.

So as I am listening to them interview Don and Mikkey, I pull over to a gas station a few miles from my house and try to call the station to see if I could talk to them.  I was so damned excited that I kept fat fingering push buttons on the pay phone.  After about 3 or 4 tries I got through off air and got to talk to Don and Mikkey.  I asked if there was a way to meet Mikkey prior to the show and he told me what time to be at the Boathouse (super early).  I told him that I was a huge fan of his from the King Diamond days.  He said make sure I don’t have more than one person with me and everything would be cool.

So at this point I am flipping out (of course not on the phone but internally).  I get home a few minutes later and told my buddy what the plan was and that he had better be ready when I came by to get him.  He was notoriously slow at everything.  I told him if he wasn’t ready when I got there that I was leaving his ass behind.  Fortunately he was ready when I got there and we headed to Norfolk to the Boathouse.

We’re the first people in the lot along with the staff cars and Dokken’s bus.  Some dude came to the door of the bus and said they were coming from the hotel in a few minutes and to wait.  So we waited only a short amount of time and a minivan with Don, Mikkey Dee, John Norum and Billy White in it.  Mikkey gets out of the van and asks, “Are you Sean?”  I acknowledged and we were instantly escorted onto the bus.  So Don hands me a band photo which was already signed by Baltes (who was inside the Boathouse already).  So Don and the rest of the band sign it along with some other stuff like cassette covers and such (I hadn’t gotten into CDs yet).  He stood with us for a few minutes then hightailed it to the back of the bus to take care of stuff.  At this point I am freaking out because one of my all time favorite drummers and musical influences and standing next to me.  I don’t get start struck easily as I’ve met a lot of musicians over the years but this one was different.  This was Mikkey Dee…the guy who played drums on King Diamond’s Abigail.

We hung out for what seemed like an hour but was likely a lot less.  Talking with John Norum and Billy White was pretty neat.  Unfortunately in my giddy starstruck state I had forgotten that Billy White played on Watchtower’s debut.  To this day in my head I still hear my inner voice say, “You’re an idiot.”  Kelz reminds me of this regularly and he pointed out after the show, “Dude, how was it to meet Billy from Watchtower?”  Ummm…D’oh!  I am a Watchtower fanatic as well.  What a doofus.

But all in all, I was there to hang out with Mikkey which was the first of 3 times that I got to spend time with him, the other 2 being with Motorhead in 1993 and 2000.  Will post about those meetings some other time.

In my conversation with Mikkey, I noticed he was wearing an Abigail backstage pass.  It had one of the heavenly aura’s around it.  haha.  So being the fanboy that I was that night, we talked about drums and about some certain aspects of his playing that I tried to emulate.  I asked him if he was going to do a drum solo and he said there would be one.  I asked him if he could incorporate the intro to Welcome Home from the Them album.  He said, “That’s a good idea, we’ll see.”

So the opening act was on the stage at this point and it was time for us to get off the bus so they could get ready.  I can’t overstate how accommodating these guys were.  I honestly didn’t even need to see the show after that!  But we went in and caught the 2nd half of the set by The Blonz.  Wow.  They were just awful.  One of the worst bands I have ever seen.

So we make our way towards the front of the stage and got on the barricade at stage left which ultimately was in plain view of Mikkey when he was on the kit.  Perfect!

So out comes the band and they rip into their set.  They were absolutely incredible and it was one of the tightest sets I have ever seen by any band.  Watching Mikkey slay the drums and both Norum and White manhandling their guitars with such precision was pretty incredible.  Definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen.  Don’s vocals were clean and clear and he was an excellent frontman.

So I guess this blog is really about an album review, eh?  I’ve seen this one get trashed in many a metal review and I could never understand why.  It’s easily Don’s second best album behind Tooth and Nail and pretty much the last album that he actually sounded really good on.  Initially the main reason I bought the album was because I had read that Mikkey Dee was drumming on it.

Even with some of the slightly cheesier songs like Mirror Mirror and Stay, it’s an album of which I don’t ever feel the need to skip any of the tracks.  Good production as well.

This one gets 10/10.

Goodbye Room 710

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I’ll never forget the very first time I walked in there.  Jasmine was behind the bar and Mercyful Fate was playing on the jukebox.  I repeat…MERCYFUL FATE WAS PLAYING ON THE JUKEBOX!  I knew that I had found a home.  I had just moved to Austin from Virginia and was checking out some of the places on Red River St.  It was early in the evening so there really wasn’t anyone else in there.  So I had a few beers, talked with Jasmine and commandeered the jukebox with 2 or 3 dollars.  Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Celtic Frost, Thin Lizzy. Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate etc etc.

I love that place.  They staff was always the best in town.  No matter if a band was playing there that I liked or not, if I was downtown, I would always stop in for a drink.

They had some great shows there from all of the local rockers (including both of my bands) to some national and international acts.  I got to see Vicious Rumors and Witchcraft there.  Both great shows for me.

The new owner apparently owns One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans.  I’ve heard good things about that place.  I’ve also heard that they will remodel Room 710.  Probably not a bad idea but I hope that they can retain the Red River vibe and even more importantly I hope they can retain some of the staff.

That place is special…to me anyways.  So thanks to Room 710.  I have a lot of great memories and even some fuzzy ones.

This is from the first show I played there:

A_Rare_Moment

Written by The Metal Files

August 2, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Many Have Tried and Many Have Died…

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Omen never really got their due.  Three brilliant albums and one EP between 84 and 86 and when you hear people talk Omen (US) - Warning Of Dangeabout classic metal, especially when mentioning the early Metal Blade stuff, it seems that so few people talk about them.  It’s a bit of a shame.  It was nice to see that metal Blade did do the Omen box set a few years ago.  The live footage is enjoyable.

Omen had a very unique style and sound, especially in the vocal department.  There was something in the way that JD Kimball could wail…like you could really hear the desperation in his voice.  I remember the first time I heard them.  Daniel had ordered Battle Cry through Metal Blade.  I was blown away by the whole band.  Kelz had made me a  dub tape of Battle Cry and Warning of Danger.  I can still see that tape sitting on the seat of my old Nova.  I believe there was some Metal Church at the end of one of the sides.

But there was something special about Omen but I don’t think it was just any one thing.  The sum of the parts just made them perfect.  The music was great, the vocals were great and overall they had good lyrics.  That was difficult to do back in those days.  Even Be My Wench and Bring Out the Beast are great.

For as much as I love Battle Cry and Warning of Danger, in recent years I find myself listening to the Curse more often than the other 2.  Teeth of the Hydra is one of my favorite songs of all time by any band.

Then 2 years after The Curse they released Escape To Nowhere with Coburn Pharr (Annihilator).  My god what an awful album that was.  I revisited it a few years ago and it still sucked.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with any of the first 3 albums.  I listened to Reopening the Gates when it came out as well…it just didn’t work for me.  Omen was more about JD’s vocals than anything else for me.  RIP.

Written by The Metal Files

August 2, 2009 at 12:04 am