Dust – Hard Attack / Dust

ARTIST: Dust

TITLE: Hard Attack / Dust

YEAR RELEASED: 1972 / 1971

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Stone Woman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Suicide shows up on hard rock playlists.

LINEUP: Richie Wise, Kenny Aaronson, Mark Bell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Long lost power trio’s two albums are rereleased 40+ years after the fact and gather interest as proto-metal influencers.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dust probably wasn’t going to make it. The label they were on (Kama Sutra) was more of a pop record company. Their sound (heavy but with some acoustic flourishes, country influences and strings on a few numbers) was ahead and behind the times – too early for metal and too late for heavy psychedelic rock. They also were quite minimalist despite the underpinning of acoustic guitar and said strings on a few cuts.

Listening to these two records now (somehow they decided to put their second record first on the collection) you get the sense that Dust had an idea where they wanted to go, but no one knew what to do with them. They were even more bare-bones than Black Sabbath at times, with Kenny Aaronson’s bass and Mark Bell’s drums holding court while Richie Wise riffed and soloed. Wise’s lyrics also seemed a bit dark (especially in “Suicide”, which seems to out-do “DOA” by Bloodrock in the macabre) though Aaronson wrote “Learning to Die”, which was also pretty damn dark too.

The choice of putting album two ahead of album one seems to make one think Dust went through a regression. It was the opposite – they tried more stuff on record two instead of full-on power trio noise.

Dust broke up after their second album with Wise wanted to go into production work, leaving an uncertain future behind him. Forty years later, you can hear the dots connecting between Blue Cheer, Sabbath, Deep Purple, and then to Dust, and beyond…

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wise produced the early Kiss albums. Bell became Marky Ramone. You know him. Aaronson became a session bassist / fill in / supergroup member with a great reputation.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. These two albums in one CD is it. You can’t really find live film of Dust out there.

GRADE: B+: This shows that even records that are seemingly cast aside by record companies and critics can have their moments in the sun.

Blue Oyster Cult – Blue Oyster Cult

ARTIST: Blue Oyster Cult   

TITLE: Blue Oyster Cult

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION:  #172

SINGLES : Cities on Flame with Rock & Roll.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not as such,

LINEUP: Eric Bloom, Albert Bouchard, Joe Bouchard, Allen Lanier, Donald Roeser (Buck Dharma).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Having recorded demos as Soft White Underbelly, Oaxaca, and the Stalk-Forrest Group, BOC finally gets signed and comes out with a record that has hard rock chops and an intelligent and dense lyrical view.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Having been signed and recorded for two labels, and going through three names (at least) before finally getting something widely released. Blue Oyster Cult’s debut album showcased their intriguing blend of hard rock, musicianship, and lyrical intelligence.

Some of the tracks didn’t quite bend themselves into the lyrics put forth by the band and their outside lyricists (like Sandy Pearlman, Harry Farcas, and Richard Meltzer, among others). As you can see by the titles (“Transmaniacon MC”, She’s as Beautiful as a Foot”, “Workshop of the Telescopes”), they were going for more of a lyrical obliqueness, which kind of suppressed their sing-a-long ability. Not that they were really aiming for that.

The guitar playing is solid, as are the arrangements. The production seems thin, as you really wish they cranked it up a bit. The power is diminished for the songs with major riffs. It may be why this didn’t quite hit in the hard rock community at the time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A lot of the songs have personal stories behind them, as odd as they were titled and written.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some songs from their 1969 studio foray.

GRADE B:  A good debut that set the stage for them. The production holds this back a bit, though.   

Black Flag – My War

ARTIST: Black Flag

TITLE: My War

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES : Yeah…no.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: My War,

LINEUP: Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn, Bill Stevenson. Ginn played bass as “Dale Nixon”

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After finally being rid of the Unicorn Record legal shitshow, Ginn and Black Flag unleash a polarizing and brilliant record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is the tale of two sides. Side one features the punk rock Black Flag as many fans then knew. With six slabs of punk, including the classic “My War” and other classic favorites that had been demoed in 1982 when they were a quintet. There were some wrinkles thrown in there, with tempo changes, guitar solos that were more jazz than punk, and introspective lyrics. Then the punk rock fans flipped the record over.

Instead of the typical six to eight songs on punk rock records, there were only three. All of them over six minutes long. And they were SLOGS. This was punk rock meeting Black Sabbath and developing a style which was quite influential on grunge and what was to become emo, but to many in the hardcore fan base, it was anathema.

“Nothing Left Inside” was the standout of the second side, and it was especially powerful live. The only misfire in my ears was the final track, which was the only one of the slow songs not co-written by Henry Rollins.

Listening to it now, you understand what they were trying to do, and in context of Black Flag, Henry Rollins, and alternative and punk rock, it doesn’t sound horribly out of place. But then, well, that was a different thing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bill Stevenson had to work hard to slow his drumming down on the songs for the second side. Also, Chuck Dukowski left or was fired, leaving Ginn to play the bass.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but the 1982 demos are available that cover songs that were going to be on this record and the next few studio albums.

GRADE A-:  It’s probably still polarizing, and that second side is something I need to be in an exact mood for, but I get what they were getting at. Even then, punk rock was stifling, and Ginn and the band impelled it forward.   

Bachman Turner Overdrive – Gold

ARTIST: Bachman Turner Overdrive

TITLE: Gold

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES (Charting): Blue Collar (#68 US), Let It Ride (#23 US), Takin’ Care of Business (#12 US), You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (#1 US, #2 UK), Roll On Down the Highway (#14 US, #22 UK), Hey You (#21 US), Take It Like a Man (#33 US), Lookin’ Out for #1 (65 US), Gimme Your Money Please (#70 US), Heartaches (#60 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you do, you don’t need this.

LINEUP: Randy Bachman, Fred Turner, Robbie Bachman. Tim Bachman was there at first, then Blair Thornton replaced him. Randy left in 1977 and Jim Clench replaced him. Then the reunions…Oh, they got Little Richard to play on their fifth album.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Generous (to say the least) compilation of Canada’s meat-and-potatoes 70’s rock band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I always go for comps with too many songs (knowing I can exile them) than not enough, and I tell you what, this comp for Bachman Turner Overdive is…too much.

For one, they have six tracks from three of their first four albums (the first, meh). That’s 2/3 of the tracks from those records They give as much weight to their later albums where they had no inspiration than their earlier ones, where Randy at least tried a bit. The songs also had a tendency to overstay their welcome. (Jam on, BTO). And then they slow it down and try to be jazzy. That’s not foolin’ anyone, you know.

Maybe you should just grab their first four records and weed out the bad cuts? A compilation of a band like this is supposed to do that. But it’s got some worthy tracks not on the smaller compilations. Thank goodness for exile.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: In Canada, they had seven top 10 singles. But even there, their last few records tanked.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: If it was any more deluxe it would just be the damn albums.

GRADE B-:  A nice 16-to-20 track anthology would have done, you guys. I kept 19 out of 35 (I’m generous too).   

Adam Ant – Friend or Foe

ARTIST: Adam Ant

TITLE: Friend or Foe

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION:  #16 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: Goody Two Shoes (#12 US, #7 Mainstream, #1 UK), Friend or Foe (#9 UK), Desperate But Not Serious (#66 US, #33 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Place in the Country

LINEUP: Adam Ant, Marco Pirroni, Bogdan Wiczling, Martin Drover, Jeff Daly, Jude Kelly, Sam Brown, Sonia Jones, Vicki Brown

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After shedding the Ants, Adam Ant strikes it rich on both sides of the Atlantic with his first solo excursion.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: All things being equal, Adam Ant solo was rather much Adam & the Ants. This time with a horn section, and less Burundi drums. But the tone and structure of the songs are mostly the same.

Ant slags on the press, romances girls, and generally tries to be the hedonist we all know he is. His best bud Marco is on guitar, Adam plays bass (didn’t know he was a bassist, did ya?) and he uses session musicians for the horns and drums. Hooks are evident in many songs, which is a definite return to form.

It’s a recovery from Prince Charming, to be sure. There only cut worth excising is a cover of “Hello, I Love You”. (No one should really cover the Doors). Nostalgia reigns on this record for some of us, but in reality it’s better than hearing old MTV cuts.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Ant performed the album live on tour in the UK in 2019.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, scads of demos and a couple of outtakes.

GRADE B:  It’s not the rush of Kings of the Wild Frontier, but it’s not horrible. If you like Ant you’ll dig it.   

ABC – Beauty Stab

ARTIST: ABC

TITLE: Beauty Stab

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION:  #69 US, #12 UK

SINGLES: That Was Then but This Is Now (#89 US, #18 UK), S.O.S.(#39 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ohh…no.

LINEUP: Martin Fry, Mark White, Stephen Singleton, with Andy Newmark, Alan Spenner, Howie casey, David Theodore, Luis Jardim

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A misfire of epic proportions. ABC ditches the orchestration and goes for (mostly) a rock motif. It bombs.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After the success of The Lexicon of Love, people were waiting with bated breath for their follow up. When the group released Beauty Stab, people were saying: “The hell?”,

After the opener (a classic sounding “That Was Then but This Is Now”, the album goes into a bunch of distorted and feedback guitars, That shocked the system, even though “Love’s a Dangerous Language” isn’t bad at all once that opener is over. It’s just that the marketplace, the fans, ok, everybody was expecting something more like their debut. The reaction in 1983 was a universal “ick”.

Now, listening in 2021, without any expectations, it’s a decent record. Not anywhere close to the rousing excellence of their debut, but it’s a bit more eclectic. Some of the lyrics are political, which again was against expectations. Maybe they shouldn’t have released this record at this time, but it’s nothing to throw out the window.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Martin Fry said he realized now he should have released a sequel to The Lexicon of Love and saved this for later. He’s probably right.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B:  You read the contemporary reviews and wonder if it’s as bad as they said back then. No, it’s not

Mountain – Nantucket Sleighride

ARTIST: Mountain

TITLE: Nantucket Sleighride

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION:  #16 US, #43 UK

SINGLES: The Animal Trainer and the Toad (#76)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Don’t Look Around, Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin)

LINEUP: Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Steve Knight, Corky Laing

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The follow-up release for this loud proto-metal band doesn’t have the high of “Mississippi Queen”, but it’s a better album through and through.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Roaring out of the gate with “Don’t Look Around”, Mountain starts its second album like their first. However, instead of being a disappointment after that blast, the band settles in and delivers pretty decent cuts.

The title track, an elegy to Owen Coffin, who was an unfortunate victim of the shipwreck of the whaler Essex (the Dollop did an episode about it, and Owen Chase, a survivor, wrote a fantastic account about it. Coffin volunteered himself so others may survive). It’s a creative and moving telling of the tale (up to the shipwreck) and Mountain’s best song.

The other tracks don’t devolve into snoozers like the previous record. Even with a darker subject (“Tired Angels” is dedicated to Jimi Hendrix), Mountain keeps it heavy for most of the record, as they should. Sadly, this is the last Mountain record worth anything, unless you just LOVE blustery long live versions. And by long, I mean side or two side long.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band had some co-writers. Felix Pappalardi’s wife, Gail Collins, wrote most of the lyrics, but Sue Palmer also contributed lyrics as well.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A single and a live track. Nothin’ special.

GRADE B+:  This album has enough heavy tracks to make you eschew the compilation and grab this in total.  

Mountain – Climing!

ARTIST: Mountain

TITLE: Climing!

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION:  #17

SINGLES: Mississippi Queen (#21), For Yasgur’s Farm (#107)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Theme from an Imaginary Western

LINEUP: Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Steve Knight, Corky Laing

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Most of the band that backed Leslie West at Woodstock take the name Mountain (after his solo album) and release a record that has a couple of memorable tracks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Let’s get this out of the way…”Mississippi Queen” has earned a place in the pantheon of riffs and intros. It’s been sampled enough to make it recognizable even if you know nothing else about the song or it.

Then there’s “Theme from an Imaginary Western”, where producer of Cream and now group member Felix Pappalardi had heard when producing Jack Bruce’s solo album and nicked it for Woodstock and this album. Those opened side one. To open side two, he also brought “For Yasgur’s Farm” from that performance as well.

And…meh.

There are a couple of soft throwaways, a few heavy throwaways, and you’re left with a semi-unsatisfying finish to a record that started with a great 1-2 punch. “For Yasgur’s Farm” isn’t anything to write home about, and sounds way too much like “Theme…” to make an impact. Mountain pulled its punches when it could have been a pile driver.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, the drummer for the combo was N. D. Smart (formerly of the Remains and later with Gram Parsons). But other commitments got in the way so Laing stepped in. Also, at Woodstock “For Yasgur’s Farm” was titled “Who Am I but You and the Sunset

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A verison appends the live version of “For Yasgur’s Farm”.

GRADE B-:  The 1-2 punch from the beginning saves the record, but barely.  

Scorpions – Taken By Force

ARTIST: Scorpions

TITLE: Taken By Force

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: He’s a Woman – She’s a Man, Sails of Charon

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Steamrock Fever, We’ll Burn the Sky

LINEUP: Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Bucholz, Herman Rarebell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The pinnacle and endpoint of the Uli Jon Roth era, which is their most consistent album before it falls off a clip with a LOOOONG slow ballad. Sigh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Scorpions had eschewed their progressive side for several years and three albums, but that influence came roaring back with this album. The incredible “Sails of Charon” definitely veers into progressive rock and fantasy elements, and Uli Jon Roth’s guitar playing in both riff and solo is incredible.

The band sounds tighter and more focused, which may be due to new drummer Herman Rarebell. The opener, “Steamrock Fever”, introduces the double-tracked harmonies of Klaus Meine, which becomes a trademark for the band as they continue their career.

Yet, I can’t rate this an “A” because the very last track of the original album, “Born to Touch Your Feelings” is an interminable slow ballad. The Scoprions wouldn’t or couldn’t stay away from them. Alas.


NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yet another controversial cover, but this time only because of the image of the graveyard and the gun battle juxtaposed with the tombstones.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a track (“Suspender Love”) and a live version of “Polar Nights” originally left off of the original CDs of their live album.

GRADE B+:  One track can really upset the apple cart on the grade. I was all prepared to give this an “A-“ but that last ballad…oof.

Scorpions – Virgin Killer

ARTIST: Scorpions

TITLE: Virgin Killer

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Virgin Killer, Pictured Life

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Catch Your Train

LINEUP: Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Bucholz, Rudy Lenners. Achim Kirschning played keyboards when needed.  

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The moment when the Scorpions really get their act together and start world domination. Or would have, if that cover didn’t get in the way. (NOTE: There is no way in hell that I’m showing the original cover. Wikipedia got a pass – I don’t think I will).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After three albums, this band of German rockers found their niche, and on this, their fourth album, they pert near perfected their hard rock tracks. The songs written by Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker have caught up to Uli Jon Roth’s contributions (for the most part). And Roth’s guitar work is still as unpredictable and invigorating as ever.

Four of the five songs on the first side, concluding with the title track (a song about time ravaging the youth – no, really). Yet, Roth still sings two tracks (he shouldn’t have), and there were two ballads that interfered with their rock-and-roll fury.

This is close to the pinnacle of the 70’s Scorpions, and got them into bigger venues around Europe and some whispers in the states. Alas…the cover.


NOTES & MINUTIAE: The controversy about the cover is in the Wikipedia page for this album (along with the original cover). It’s…not the smartest thing they ever did.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Nope.

GRADE B:  If they could have stopped with the bland ballads and Roth singing, this would have been a great record through and through, But I’m yelling about this 46 years in the future…so it’s a bit late, right?