June 1986 - Heavy Metal via the pages of Hit Parader magazine
Let's start the June installment of Heavy Metal here in the U.S. 30 years ago with a list of the bands listed on the cover of the June 1986 Hit Parader magazine; KISS, Raven, Dokken, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, W.A.S.P., Accept, Twisted Sister, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Anthrax, Jon Butcher Axis and a great big photo of Ozzy. Sound familiar? Pretty much the same bands as last month though I was undoubtedly intrigued by the prospect of fresh news about Raven, Accept and Anthrax. Before we get into the magazine properly I have to say I was surprised by the 2-page ad from MCA records for Tom Petty. Tom Petty?? Wait, it's a contest? OK, what are the prizes?
Suffice to say, I did not win. Back to the magazine.
This time I'm going to try and pick out the "predictions" made by the writers of the articles to see how accurate they were. Up first, Accept – "German greats prepare for next U.S. invasion." I had seen Accept open for Iron Maiden in 1985 and they were pretty good, so the prospect of them coming back the U.S. is certainly good news. According to the article the newly released mini live EP Kaizoku-Ban is "bringing more fans than ever to Accept's camp." Really? That EP was dull and we know the album that followed Metal Heart was the underappreciated Russian Roulette and shortly after its release Udo Dirkschneider would leave Accept (for the first of many times). Strike one for Hit Parader's predictive abilities. Next up, Raven and writer Rick Evans headlining his piece with the line "Power Trio return to form with The Pack is Back." This was right in the middle of Raven's "sell out" period when they were signed to Atlantic Records and the article's assertion that the album has propelled the band "to the top of the popularity charts around the world" sounded hollow even back then. Had Rick heard All for One? Probably not if he thought The Pack is Back was a good effort from Raven. Thankfully the band has continued and was ultimately dropped by Atlantic, enabling them to get back to making the music they wanted vs. pandering to the label. Strike two, Hit Parader.
Let's check out the happenings before we get to the next article. Jimmy Page (The Firm, ex-Led Zeppelin, ex-Yardbirds) is sick again. This seemed to be a weekly occurrence for the legendary guitarist back in the 80s. Funny how it is never talked about now. Can you say "rehab"? Motley Crue is back in the studio as is Ratt, and KISS is blaming low attendance at a San Antonio, TX show (less than 6,000 fans) on the city council which is reported to have banned anyone under 14 from attending the show. Could it be the music the band was putting out at this time sucked, Gene? Don Dokken and George Lynch of Dokken are fighting (some things never change) and Ted Nugent's acting career is "booming" after his appearance on Miami Vice. You know, it isn't hard to play "deranged" characters when you are, in reality, deranged. Next up is the monthly Celebrity Rate-a-Record with Jon Butcher. Who, you say? Butcher is a guitarist from Boston that had a minor hit ("Don't Say Goodnight") in the 80s and drew comparisons with Jimi Hendrix as they are both African-American singer/guitarists playing Stratocasters. Anyway, Butcher is a best a minor celebrity and the records he reviews this month are from Pat Benetar, Bryan Adams, Talking Heads and ZZ Top. What is the point of this column again? He doesn't even rag on these songs which would at least be amusing. No one reading Hit Parader cares about the new Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark single unless it is being mocked unmercifully.
Let's check out the next "prediction." Rob Andrews, writing about UFO states "Phil Mogg brings Metal Legends back with Misdemeanor" and "UFO is back in fine form." Had he heard Misdemeanor when he wrote this article? This is the band that launched Michael Schenker and now they've gone all keyboard happy. Fine form, my foot. Strike three, Hit Parader. At least Ozzy admits in his interview this month that "once you are an alcoholic, you are always and alcoholic." Ain't that the truth? OK, enough of the pandering articles that are little more than glorified advertisements for major-label albums, let's get to the Import Reviews!
First up we have Jag Wire's Made in Heaven. Who the hell is Jag Wire?? I never heard of them and even though they received 3/5 stars, no one else did, either. Next up is Smack's On You. Again, who the hell is this band? The reviewer admits it is hard to classify them as true Heavy Metal as they are more like "the Rolling Stones or countrymen Hanoi Rocks." Then why are they being reviewed let alone getting 3/5 stars? We are not off to a good start here. Pete Way's post-UFO band Waysted gets 2/5 stars for The Good, The Bad, The Waysted and having seen them in 1984 I can say that is a generous 2 stars. They were awful. Exciter! Finally, a decent band! Reviewed here is Feel the Knife and even though the writer calls this 3-song single the band's "latest album", slack will be cut because he gives it 4/5. Lastly, he blasts Minnesota's Impaler and their EP Rise of the Mutants with a 1/5, commenting that as "a one-shot joke, Impaler are fairly amusing. If they plan on turning this barbaric drivel into a career, it's time for us all to head for cover." Save to assume he is still cowering somewhere as these guys are still active and having fun being ridiculously over-the-top. More dull articles on Priest, Scorpions and the like round out the issue though it is interesting to see that Anthrax are still relegated to "Pick Hit" status with a one-page interview toward the end of the issue. With how big they would become by the end of the 80s as one of the "Big 4", it is amazing how little attention they are getting halfway through 1986.
We round out this issue with plenty of ads for fireworks (Independence Day is coming in early July after all) to go along with the typical fake ids and bootleg t-shirts. At least all the lyrics this month are from Hard Rock/Heavy Metal bands except for Asia and Loverboy. What is it with this magazine and Loverboy?? Ah, well, this was clearly a sub-standard issue and things are definitely getting more commercial. Like I did 30 years ago, I'm hoping the July issue has some better stuff. Until then, see if you can track down a copy of Kaizoku-Ban.
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