May 1986: Heavy Metal 30 years ago this month through Hit Parader
It seems my recollections of the Heavy Metal scene 30 years ago in April 1986, my memories spurred by old Hit Parader magazines, was enjoyable enough, so let's see what was happening in May of 1986. On the cover we get Van Hagar looking like a bunch of dorks in patterned blazers and snakeskin boots. Not the start I was hoping for when I went to the newsstand to pick up my copy. It didn't get much better when I opened the cover to see an ad for The Firm, the band made up of Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Bad Company's Paul Rogers. Seriously, this barely qualifies as Hard Rock. My sister went to see them, so how could they possibly be cool?? An ad for Black Sabbath's Seventh Star album is a step in the right direction even though it wasn't a particularly great release.
Next up is the monthly celebrity Rate-a-Record and this month Jon Bon Jovi and his chest hair review singles from Boomtown Rats, The Cars, Motley Crue, Prince and ZZ Top. Can we give these guys some Metal records, dammit?! Ah, well, next up is an article on Metallica prior to Cliff Burton's tragic death in a bus accident. The band talks about the old system where labels paid for studio time and actually invested in developing bands; a pretty cool article (and one I re-read just now ). Here's an ad from Metal Blade's latest release from the band Pandemonium. Where are they now? Split-up in 1988 or so after three albums. I seem to recall them because there were three brothers in the line-up. It is amazing when you think that $7.50 + $1.00 for shipping would get you their album and 30 years later you can buy a new album (on CD or digitally) for not a lot more money.
OK, now for one of the main reasons I bought this magazine in the first place; Heavy Metal Happenings. In May 1986 I learned that new albums were on the way from Keel (not sure if this refers to The Final Frontier released April 1986 but probably not by the time this issue went to press or 1987's self-titled affair that may just have been delayed), Scorpions (the oft-delayed, ultimately bland Savage Amusement which didn't come out until 1988) and Accept (Russian Roulette, again released in April 1986 but most likely after this information was compiled). What a bunch of crap. More rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion round out the happenings. You can't believe how prevalent these rumors were in the 80s. Every week it seemed like they were getting back together.
Just when I thought this month's issue was a total loss I come across an ad for Noise Records' latest releases. What were they, you ask? Helloween's Walls of Jericho, Running Wild's Branded and Exiled and Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion. FUCK YEAH! This is the kind music that made parents shit themselves and family pets drop dead on the spot. I still have my vinyl copies of Helloween and Celtic Frost. I think it took me a couple of years to fully listen to and appreciate Celtic Frost. It was so different from anything anyone had heard back then and I felt cool just for owning it (I know, it will take more than owning a cool album to make me cool). This ad is followed by more crummy Glam Metal articles on Vinnie Vincent, Lita Ford, the "Metal Queen" (hot, yes, Metal, no), Van Halen, KISS, Twisted Sister, Dokken and Motley Crue. Man, this issue is really dull.
Here we go, my absolute favorite part of each month's issue; Import Reviews. Jack Starr's Burning Starr - Rock the American Way gets a 4/5 rating while Fates Warning's The Spectre Within only gets 3/5. WTF? The reviewer even compares them to Dio. I repeat, WTF? Thor - Only the Strong also pulls in a 3/5 because the band "overplays at every opportunity" and the "limited vocal skills". Bet this guy wouldn't have said that to Thor's face! Last up is Piledriver's Metal Inquisition, an album rated 1/5 because "this is one band that could make you think the PMRC is right after all". The review goes on to say they are so over the top as to be a parody. Hello? That was the POINT! Gad, this guy is thick.
This month's issue wraps up with an interview with Bruce Dickinson's ego and how good he is at fencing, and ad for a Rock N Roll flea market in Albany, NY that actually sounds pretty cool and the usual song lyrics that no Heavy Metal fan gives a shit about (Loverboy and Mr. Mister anyone?). The classifieds offer illicit delights including fireworks, high school diplomas (profile much, Hit Parader??), fake IDs, cash paid for your comic books and plenty of opportunities to sell your poems to be used for song lyrics. As I recall wrapping up reading this issue, I was a bit disappointed and hoped for better things next month. We'll see. Now, how can I possibly get my hands on that Celtic Frost album?
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