This Is Pop – Hail Britpop!

Last week I was trying and failing to find something to watch across streaming services when I landed on a series called This Is Pop! This was a short series filmed in 2021 by the Canadian crew Banger Films, responsible for Metal Evolution, originally Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and many other quality documentaries.

I did not watch the whole series and I probably won’t, but one was really interesting to me – Hail Britpop! This recounts that brief but lovely time in British music when a bunch of different forces converged to reshape the English music scene, and at least one act broke out internationally. So I figured I’d go over the episode a bit and also run down the Battle of Britpop, which was discussed in some detail on the show.

The show depicted Britpop as a movement of rather different music interests, ranging from alt-rock to shoegaze and other forms, that would fit together to express a uniquely English musical identity in the early 1990’s. While Suede is generally credited with the birth of Britpop, the show paints Blur as the main culprits. Alex James and David Rowntree of Blur both give pretty insightful interviews for the episode.

The consensus is that Blur were on tour in America and were lamenting the lack of English identity in music, which at the time was very much under the thumb of American grunge. Blur returned from the tour and recorded their seminal Parklife album, which celebrated British culture and made them superstars. The fact that some of Parklife was a sneer at that same British culture rather than a celebration was left out of the show.

Once Blur went over, it was open season for the British music press for anything Britpop. The show does a great job of painting the music press as the actual main purveyor of Britpop – this wasn’t a codified music scene with a common sound and characteristics, this was a bunch of different bands grouped together because they sounded British and were generally more cheery than the alt-rock of the day. Members from bands like Lush and Echobelly give interviews to this effect.

The show does make what I assume is a joke, that one day a heavy metal band changed their attire and “became” a Britpop band. I don’t know of any such act who actually did that, if one did I’d be happy to know who it was. But even if the show made the point in exaggerating fashion, it was true that there was a hop on the press-driven bandwagon of Britpop.

While Blur were the early winners of the Britpop phenomenon and it was largely a London-based scene, most everyone who was alive at the time knows what eventually happened – a group of sneering lads from Manchester came along and stole the spotlight.

The part of Oasis in the episode is represented by Alan McGee, the head of Creation Records and the man responsible for signing Oasis to their record deal. The introduction of Oasis also brings about the North-South divide in England – the south being more posh and the north more working class and perhaps grim. Blur would come to represent the south aesthetic while Oasis would carry the torch for the working people of the north. While this depiction is true to some degree, it’s also a media invention that would fuel the Battle of Britpop in 1995.

The Battle of Britpop was pretty simple – both Blur and Oasis released singles from their new albums on the same day – August 14, 1995. It was billed as a titanic heavyweight fight in the British press, extending far beyond just the music rags. The show offers arguments from both Food Records and Creation Records label heads as well as Blur band members about the choice to release on the same day, note that Blur’s band and record exec stories directly contradict one another on the show.

Blur would come out winners of the Battle of Britpop, as their single Country House outsold the Oasis offering Roll With It. While this temporarily went in Blur’s favor, the show quickly pivots to the runaway success of Wonderwall and the massive sales Oasis would see of their second album (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? Oasis would trounce Blur in full album sales and, while this wasn’t mentioned on the show that I recall, music press even changed reviews of Blur’s The Great Escape after Oasis mania truly took hold.

Just as quickly as Britpop took hold, it would fizzle out. A bit of Oasis’ triumphant Knebworth gigs in 1996 are touched on, this was likely the zenith of Britpop. Oasis’ third album Be Here Now did well out of the gate but landed pretty hard in critical reviews and tends to signal the end of Britpop. Blur also changed tack, actually embracing the American music they’d forsaken years ago and had their big international hit with their self-titled album and especially Song 2.

This wraps up the episode of Hail Britpop! I felt the episode was good, though it did move quick and leave a lot of Britpop out. It nailed the central points of being a press movement and it got the rise of Oasis and the posh/working class clash of the Battle of Britpop right, but a lot of Britpop’s other history was left unaired. Suede, Pulp and Elastica all played big roles in the Britpop phenomenon but were relegated to pictures and small mentions in the show. I don’t intend this to be a huge criticism of the show as I understand the makers were going over the main points in their 45-minute airtime, but I do admit to being more of an admirer of comprehensive coverage.

Overall though, I do think this episode was really good and it’s a nice primer to the main aspects of Britpop for those unfamiliar. I had a good time watching it and reliving a small but very important part of my music listening history. It is a good place to go for those maybe not as vested in the finer points of the Britpop movement but who want an easy to digest version of what all the fuss was about from England in the mid 1990’s.

Since I’ve been writing about Britpop, I figured I would take a moment to link back to some old posts of mine on the subject. I covered Oasis extensively in this site’s early days and I have a few more here and there about the subject so I’ll link up to some relevant stuff below for your further reading pleasure.

Oasis – Definitely Maybe Album of the Week

Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory Album of the Week

Oasis – Be Here Now Album of the Week

Oasis – Knebworth ’96 Album of the Week

The Importance Of Being Idle – Will Oasis Ever Re-unite?

Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger (S-Tier Songs)

Blur – Parklife Album of the Week

Blur – Song 2 (S Tier Songs)

Elastica – Stutter (S Tier Songs)

Sanctuary – Refuge Denied (Album of the Week)

For this week it’s time to look at a profound debut album in metal, the start of a Seattle metal institution and a curious guest shot in the producer’s chair.

Sanctuary – Refuge Denied

Released in 1988 via Epic Records

My Favorite Tracks – Battle Angels, Soldiers Of Steel, Die For My Sins

Sanctuary had formed in 1985 and recorded a demo in 1986. The demo generated some buzz and guitarist Lenny Rutledge made a power play to help his band get some notice – he approached Megadeth mastermind Dave Mustaine after a show. Mustaine was very receptive to Sanctuary and offered to help produce a full-length album.

Sanctuary was comprised of Lenny Rutledge and Sean Blosl on guitar, Warrel Dane on vocals, Jim Sheppard on bass and Dave Budbill drumming. This line up would hold through the first album and tour.

The music here falls somewhere between thrash and US power metal. It’s a bit of both but not entirely in one realm or the other. It’s not unusual for Seattle bands to defy categorization.

The cover art is worth of discussion, this being one of many pieces from Ed Repka, one of heavy metal’s most renowned artists. There’s a priest or something with a gun doing some crazy shit, the clergy were prime targets of late ’80’s metal bands. Repka’s art is pretty instantly recognizable to a person who has possessed a lot of metal albums over the years.

One small note – there is no specific release date for Refuge Denied. There are copies out there in some territories that released in 1987, in the US it was 1988. I would guess it was an “end of year/start of year” thing but it’s not something I really want to put in the research to find out.

There are 9 songs in a 39 minute runtime, a decently sized album but fully packed with the goods.

Battle Angels

The proceedings open with a masterpiece of a song. It gets going right off the bat and settles into a mid-paced affair before Warrel Dane kicks off the singing. Dane keeps things in a human range in the first verse before ascending to vocal godhood through the chorus. Dane’s soaring vocals along with the riffs and rhythm sections shape an absolute gem of 1980’s metal.

The song is pretty well about what the title suggests – a group of angels coming down to have some holy retribution on sinner’s asses. It’s not quite a story from the Bible but it will do.

Termination Force

Next we get a song with a fair bit of dynamics and arrangement, showcasing that Sanctuary are not a one-trick pony. The song begins in slow fashion but slams into a faster and louder sort of chorus section. There’s a bit of a good old fashioned thrash gang chorus here, and Dane is all over the map with his singing. This is another stomper and Sanctuary are really bringing the goods here.

Die For My Sins

This is a fairly standard melodic metal song, might have a small degree of similarity with the early work of fellow Seattle residents Queensryche. Warrel Dane is still wild on this one, though maybe held back a hair compared to the two prior tracks. A very nice thrash section with the solo in the middle of this one too.

Soldiers Of Steel

Another mid-paced effort with some vocal parts in the verses that show Warrel Dane’s more normal range and the one he’d use for the bulk of his career. He still goes off on the quasi-chorus portions. This one is along the lines of the old US power metal sound.


We get a self-named song but sadly it was not on a self-named album as well, so no trifecta here. This one also starts off slow but quickly goes into thrash territory. It’s an exploration of some kind of warrior from the future who is leaving the timeline, or something like that. They aren’t going out quietly, that much is for sure.

White Rabbit

Yes, this is a cover of the Jefferson Airplane classic. It is suitably metal-ized for the album and isn’t an attempt to just perform the song as it was. This is enjoyable though it might fall a bit short of a home run. It would mark the start of many times Warrel Dane would take songs from outside of metal and totally mess with them. This also features a solo and backing vocals from Dave Mustaine.

Ascension To Destiny

Apparently the time-traveling warrior from two songs ago didn’t get too far, or maybe this is a different warrior but they are back and ready to whip some ass. The cadence of the chorus had a danger of coming off the same as Battle Angels, but Dane deftly side-stepped the issue by switching up the vocal rhythm here.

The Third War

This one goes pretty hard and heavy and unveils a prediction about the third World War. They peg 1999, which didn’t quite hit the mark but they probably weren’t terribly far off the way things are going in 2023. Another heavy one as we get to the end of the album.

Veil Of Disguise

The closing track starts off in the ballad realm for its first few minutes before picking up steam and rolling out on a heavy note. It is more of the same melodic mastery from Dane and the guitarists and leaves the record without a dud across its nine tracks.

Refuge Denied was Sanctuary’s introduction to the world. Upon release it did not catch fire, in fact only selling around 7,000 copies in its first year or so. The band would slowly catch on over the years and as of 2011 this album has moved over 200,000 copies.

The most noted feature of Sanctuary on their debut was of course Warrel Dane and his insane vocals. His wail was something not easily replicated or matched, there aren’t many singers walking who could handle getting the highs he could reach while also maintaining a true vocal body along with it. And this would impact even Dane – he apparently suffered a vocal injury sometime in 1988 and his days of wailing like on here were over. He would go on to have a successful career as a singer but it wouldn’t be with the kind of shrieks and wails found on this record.

The battle for any kind of commercial success would be a losing one for Sanctuary in their first go round. Their second album Into The Mirror Black would see higher sales and some video airplay, but the band was still on the outside looking in to the music business. Guitarist Sean Blosl would leave first and be replaced with Jeff Loomis. After the band had serious discussions about their place in the music scene after the arrival of grunge in 1991, Sanctuary would split up.

Lenny Rutledge and Dave Budbill would head off on other endeavors, while Dane, Sheppard and Loomis would form Nevermore and carry on for the next 15-plus years. Sanctuary themselves would reform in 2010 after Nevermore broke up, and Sanctuary would continue to run even after Warrel Dane’s death in 2017.

While Sanctuary’s time is broken up into two periods separated by a 20 year gap, their early work would come to be appreciated by a wider audience as traditional metal caught on again in the 2000’s and also as Nevermore fans explored the members’ pre-dated work. Refuge Denied did not get its due back in the day, but today it is hailed as a classic of US heavy metal.

A Story And A Song – Never Say Die

Time for a story and a song again, or a song and a story, whatever order this goes in, I don’t know. This one is pretty simple and not much of a story, just something that came to mind the other day and I figured I’d chronicle it before I forget it again.

The song in question is the title track from Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die!, the 8th studio album from them and the last to feature lead singer Ozzy Osbourne for 35 years. The album itself is not generally looked upon as one of Black Sabbath’s best (we’ll get to that), but this song is actually pretty cool. It’s one of a few I don’t mind listening to from the album.

Before I get to the story itself, I’ll talk about the album for a minute since opinions on the album are important to the story. Never Say Die! is not a watershed moment in the Black Sabbath catalog. It is one of the least popular albums, both from the Ozzy years and the catalog as a whole. The album is all over the place, uninspired, and lacking for anything truly awesome stuff. My opinion is that of the consensus, which is that the album is not very good. There are dissenting opinions and strong defenders of Never Say Die!, which is where today’s story takes us.

The year was 2009. I was working an evening shift job, from roughly 4 PM to 12:30 AM or whatever it was. The shift was also Sunday through Thursday, meaning Friday and Saturday were my weekend. It was a cool Friday morning, probably around 9 AM when our story takes place. It was one of those nice fall mornings where having the windows open was ideal, I enjoy it being on the cooler side when I sleep and it was the perfect weather to let some air in. It seems the “open window” days are few and far between anymore, but hey that’s not the point.

So I had my window open on this nice Friday morning when I woke up, but wasn’t yet ready to get out of bed. I laid there for a bit when I could make out the voice of my neighbor talking. I lived (and still do live) in town, where houses are not very far apart from one another. The neighbor was a decent guy, I shot the shit with him a bit but we weren’t really friends or anything like that.

On this cool Friday morning, the proper start of my weekend and just a bit earlier than I normally woke up, I hear my neighbor going on about something and he was really into it. And that something?

Never Say Die!

He was going on and on about how great of an album it was and people were wrong about it and all of this and that. He was very passionately defending the honor of this album. It was in a zealous way, I’m sure many music fans have encountered someone with a contrarian viewpoint before and experienced how fervently and wordy these devotees can be about their cherished thing that a lot of people can’t stand.

This diatribe kept up for awhile. My first thought was actually “hey, good for him, I’m glad someone likes that pile of an album.” It is cool when a work means that much to somebody, especially when popular opinion is very against it. Then I got a little sick of hearing it, like “ok man, you’ve run the course with this album, but you keep going.”

I kept laying there, not wanting to get up but also sort of transfixed by this odd treatise on the virtues of Never Say Die! that I was not going to get back to sleep even if I wanted to. I went from sort of enjoying this odd thing to overhear on my nice weekend morning to getting sick of it. Open window days were not in big supply and this was starting to ruin my morning, even if I was initially cool with it. Also, even if I can appreciate someone’s dissenting take on something, I honestly don’t think Never Say Die! is a worthy recipient of such passionate defense. Whatever he or anyone else who is into the album wants to think, it pretty well sucks. Just ask the drugged out group who recorded it.

I was pretty close to going outside and jumping into the conversation. It was that combination of early morning weariness, having my open window time spoiled, and me truly not being on board with the opinion that due would not shut up about.

But I did not wind up going outside. I started up my day and went about business as normal. I never brought up what I overheard and the neighbor never asked me what I thought of his precious, crappy Black Sabbath album even though he knew I was big into music. A few months later I moved out of that house and never saw the guy again.

I almost became “that guy” would would start an argument over a music opinion. It wouldn’t have been anything huge, I knew the guy and I wasn’t going to really go off on him or anything. But it got annoying there for a minute, listening to this dude go on and on about an album I’m not really sure is even fit for human ears. In the end it all worked out – guy got to brag on an album he stands with against the grain, and I didn’t start an argument over something I think sucks. I just wish a guy could leave his damn windows open around here without hearing everything under the sun now and again.

Infinite Dreams – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Today’s single is a pretty straightforward one, it’s all live and all songs are available on the larger album so there’s nothing really exotic here. The song is Infinite Dreams from the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album, and the live album in question was Maiden England. That was originally released as a video, so this is actually a single to a long-form video. But the full album has been released on its own so it’s available in a variety of formats.

The cover art is another Derek Riggs piece and is essentially the same cover as the Maiden England live release – Eddie on a motorcycle with a Union Jack in hand. The cover was changed for the 2013 re-release of Maiden England but this original art is pretty cool.

This was released in several formats – 12-inch and 7-inch records, CD and cassette. There are a few shaped picture discs and things like that. Mine is the typical 12-inch record and thus we get the third song. Just a note that after this, the singles started getting released with a billion versions and I won’t be out to keep track of all the differences, but for today it’s still straightforward.

Infinite Dreams

The single’s main subject is a track from the Seventh Son… album. It is one of the album’s more memorable cuts and features a few musical movements from the band, a step into a prog-lite direction they would explore again in the 2000’s.

The song works incredibly well with its quiet moments and builds into more epic passages. Bruce showcases the full force of his vocal range through the song and everyone in the band gets a chance to flex their chops. It’s a very compelling arrangement and a showcase that the band had arrived at a new point of creativity in their landmark seven album run.

The song is the album’s second and has some bearing on the sort-of concept album going on – the main character has very strange dreams and visions and winds up stuck in those, with dreams so crazy and life-like that he doesn’t know if he’ll ever wake up again. Though the band did not fully flesh out the story beats, last week’s single The Clairvoyant gives a fairly grim answer as to the ultimate fate of the dreamer and his visions.

The live rendition here is wonderfully executed. The Maiden England live album runs smoothly as a whole, if not maybe just a hair off of its predecessor, the mighty Live After Death. But the cuts here are a huge part of Maiden lore being the end of their golden 80’s era and it’s a worthwhile experience overall.


The first B-side is the familiar title track from the second album. We’ve had this song a few times from both singers so I won’t go over in depth, but as is expected this version is well done. The song wouldn’t get a ton of stage time after this tour so it’s still nice to have another live representation from the earlier years.

Still Life

The other B-side is a very interesting track to have, even if it’s not “special” since it’s also on the full live album. Still Life hails from Piece Of Mind and wasn’t a song that got a whole hell of a lot of stage time. It’s one of its album’s more interesting cuts and it’s splendidly presented here. It’s a very nice cut to have as the song didn’t quite get the attention it might have deserved.

That wraps up this single and also marks the end of a run for one member. After this album guitarist Adrian Smith would depart the group, unhappy with the band’s intended musical direction after he contributed a lot to these “synth era” albums. Smith would make a few cameo live appearances through the 1990’s but would otherwise be gone until 1999, which is a story for that point in this singles series.

Losing Adrian was a huge blow, and the 1990’s were not Maiden’s greatest decade in their history. He had a good bit to do with the group’s success to this point and was integral to the past few albums these singles came from. But nothing lasts forever, and Adrian had to step away and do his own thing for awhile. He’d get some company on that front a few years down the line, as most are aware.

Next week it’s into the ’90’s and No Prayer For The Dying. The singles start getting different with a wide array of versions and also I’m missing a fair chunk of this time period. But there’s still plenty to go over so we’ll get into that next week.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free


Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan


Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams (you are here)

Bring Your Daughter … To The Slaughter

Holy Smoke

Be Quick Or Be Dead

From Here To Eternity


Out Of The Silent Planet


Different World

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

S-Tier Songs, Vol. 24

On to another S-Tier song to add to the collection. As always, the main page has the prior entries to the list as well as an explanation of what this is all about. No need for further introduction, it’s time to get pissed.

L7 – Shitlist

Today’s song hails from L7’s third album Bricks Are Heavy. The 1992 record was the band’s first involvement on a major label and was produced by Butch Vig, who a year earlier had produced Nirvana’s Nevermind which changed music forever. The album saw some grunge influence meet with L7’s already established hard ass alt/punk sound and was the group’s vanguard moment.

Shitlist was not a single for obvious reasons, though it was the B-side to Pretend We’re Dead, the band’s most popular single release. As the album and singles took hold through radio and MTV, this song got its fair share of notice. L7 were pretty hard ass as a whole, but Shitlist was another degree of that.

The song is pretty simple musically – it’s got some nasty distortion on a pounding riff and rhythm. The guitar adds some flair here and there, but this song is a vessel to communicate a message rather than provide an exercise in pentetonic scales. Donita Sparks delivers a vocal with a combination of snarl and disaffection to perfectly fit the nasty tone of the music.

Lyrically this is a blatantly obvious song – we’re pissed off, and there’s a list of those who did the foul deeds that led to this state. There’s maybe only 20 different words used in the lyrics but everything works so well to communicate the message – you’ve made my shitlist. It’s one of the first songs that comes up when people talk about “angry songs” or things like that, Shitlist has truly made its mark in that regard.

There are no real metrics to evaluate in terms of Shitlist’s success. The album Bricks Are Heavy was last certified at 327,000 copies sold in the year 2000. I’d wager that it’s moved a few more since then and maybe a re-certification would see it get past the gold threshold, but I can’t say for sure. The song didn’t get MTV play because, well, just look at the title.

But Shitlist did strike a chord with music-listening America in the early 1990’s. While the L7 singles like Pretend We’re Dead and Monster got video airplay, people in the know would make sure to tell you to get the damn album so you could hear Shitlist in all its glory. Word of mouth was still important in the pre-Internet days and that’s largely how a song with a controversial name like this would get out there.

Shitlist did get another boost from appearances in several movie soundtracks. The song was in quite a few movies, actually, though to be honest I’m not sure I want to go deep diving on some of those early ’90’s movies to recall the flicks more specifically. But Shitlist did land a very memorable part in one movie scene.

In the opening scene of 1994’s Natural Born Killers, the movie’s main couple Mickey and Mallory Knox are in a diner out in the middle of nowhere. A local patron starts putting moves on Mallory. Her response is to go to the jukebox and put on Shitlist, then beat the shit out of her harasser. Mickey joins in and the couple kill everyone in the diner, except for one they leave alive to report that Mickey and Mallory were responsible.

This is the scene, don’t count on it being upon YouTube for a long time.

The movie released just after L7 had released their next album Hungry For Stink. I don’t know if the movie scene had a huge impact on sales of that or Bricks Are Heavy, but the way that scene is still vividly recalled today, I’d guess that it had some influence.

L7 would continue on through the 1990’s but run out of steam by the turn of the millennium and call it quits in 2001. They would reconvene in 2014 and have been touring and releasing music since, with a renewed interest in a band that many felt didn’t quite get their full due in their first run.

Why is this an S-Tier song?

Shitlist is simple, heavy and powerful. Its message cuts true and is something every person on the planet can identify with, someone’s made our shitlists at some point in time, even the most zen of folks. L7 were known for bringing the nasty when they wanted to, and Shitlist was another extension of that. Its memorable tie to the scene in Natural Born Killers still resonates with viewers who may not have ever bought an L7 album in the ’90’s. This was not a band to mess with, and Shitlist was the calling card of that.

Heart (Album of the Week)

For this week I’m pulling out one of rock music’s greatest transformation albums – a band shifting their sound to fit with the times. Some call that selling out, others call it the smart play. In the case of Heart it was very much the latter, and the group would land the biggest success of their career by fully embracing the glitz of 1980’s hair and glam rock.

Heart – self-titled

Released June 21, 1985 via Capitol Records

My Favorite Tracks – What About Love?, If Looks Could Kill, The Wolf

Heart began in the 1970’s and released a string of renowned albums that resided in the hard rock/folk rock realm, an interesting combination not heard every day. The band gained notice with their unique blend of music and also for their front-line sisters, guitarist Nancy Wilson and lead vocalist Ann Wilson.

Then the 1980’s came and rock music changed. Heart entered the decade well enough but had two dud albums through the early ’80’s. It could be said that Heart’s musical transition was started on those albums, though the true fruits of the change would arrive with this self-titled record in 1985, just as hair metal and its associated sounds were becoming the music of the day.

The songwriting on Heart is its own tale, as some of the songs were shaped by the Wilson sisters and several others were done by outside songwriters. I won’t be running down each individual one, just a few of the more notable ones, because it would make this post 10,000 words long. Credits are available in the album’s liner notes and in many places on the Internet for those curious. The album was produced by Ron Nevison, who was one of the go-to producers of the 1980’s.

Heart boasts 10 songs in 39 minutes so not an overly stuffed album, but half of these songs were singles and a few were major hits so there’s plenty to talk about here.

If Looks Could Kill

The album opens with a cover tune of a song also done in 1985 as a dance song. Heart took a more rock approach and fashioned a pretty cool song out of it. It’s very synth heavy, which would figure since it came from the dance/disco world but it’s translated well to the melodic rock environment. The song sees a cheating lover being the object of scorn.

If Looks Could Kill was the album’s fifth and final single, and also the only one not hit the Billboard 100’s top 10.

What About Love?

Another cover song, this time from Canadian band Toronto and one that group did not release originally. Heart would up with the song and would make hay with it, hitting the top 10 of the Billboard 100.

While unfortunate that Toronto did not get to enjoy the original fruits of their labor, this song fits the Heart album like a glove. It is a defining power ballad of the ’80’s and was the keys to the car for Heart’s comeback. It is a song that reminds people who are chasing their “way to the top” that love is still out there and is a more important force than whatever comes at the end of the rat race.

Two notable guests appear to help with backing vocals – Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas from Starship.


Another album single and one that would get to the 4 position on the Billboard 100. This is an upbeat, very poppy melodic rock offering about being disgruntled by love but being ready to give it another go.

These Dreams

Up next is another single and Heart’s first chart-topping hit. The song was originally written by the songwriting duo of Bernie Taupin and Martin Page, two folks who’ve had hands in countless hits. The pair offered the song to Stevie Nicks, who turned it down. Heart were more receptive to it and the rest is history.

Heart switched tack on this song as Nancy Wilson handled the vocals. Nancy had been ill during recording and the production team was quite happy with her raspy take, so much so that she’d be asked in the future to “get sick again” to emulate her style here.

These Dreams is an atmospheric track with the lyrical concept of going to a different world while sleeping and getting away from the issues of regular life. The album’s liner notes dedicate the song to Sharon Hess, a fan who was battling leukemia and met the Wilson sisters during the recording of the song. Hess died just before the album’s release.

The Wolf

Here we hit the first of a few songs that weren’t singles. This is a very nice track that’s all rock and deals with a man out on the prowl who isn’t worth the trouble he brings. This song didn’t get the attention of the hit singles obviously, but it’s well worth a listen as it’s a great ’80’s rock song.

All Eyes

Its 2 for 2 on album deep cuts here with another good rock song. It’s a nice song about hooking up, pretty standard fare for the time. So far the album’s deep cuts compliment the singles well and make for a nice album listening experience.

Nobody Home

This one is a slow ballad that also kind of throws things off for a moment. It is very keyboard driven, which is not a problem in and of itself but the key part sounds like the soundtrack bits of a Final Fantasy video game. FF didn’t exist when this song was recorded but it’s the vibe I get from the song.

The song doesn’t pick up much steam as it goes along even with other instruments coming in. It’s a nice enough sentiment about someone finding no one around when they inevitably fall, but the song doesn’t do a lot for me.

Nothin’ At All

This was the album’s fourth single and also the fourth straight to hit the Billboard 100’s hallowed top 10, hitting exactly that position. This is a very easy-going rock track about how sometimes love just happens super easy without any fuss or drama. The video for this one was pretty popular and features the band simply goofing around.

What He Don’t Know

It’s back to the rock, this one is a fairly tame number but it does pick things back up after that last song. This one puts the shoe on the other foot in contrast to the opening song, as this time a couple is cheating while the singer’s significant other is unaware. It was fairly scandalous song material for the day as adultery and cheating was a huge deal back then, but no one gives a damn today. I don’t recall this song catching any actual grief though.

Shell Shock

The album closes on one more really cool song, it’s a straight ahead rock song. Ann Wilson is going a bit rapid fire in the verses here, it’s a neat way to wrap up the record.

Heart was not only a return to commercial success for the band, this was the peak of their album success. The record topped the Billboard 200 and was on the charts for 78 weeks. It has been certified 5 times platinum in the US and 6 times in Canada. Along with four straight singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and this was a massive win for Heart’s ’80’s glam makeover.

Heart were successful in updating for the times and re-energizing their career, though for some it was too drastic of a move away from the classic sound that made them popular in the first place. I personally have no issue with it at all – while I think their ’70’s output is spectacular, I also love their ’80’s hair era. The songs were there and the band rode the wave of big hair and power rock/pop, usually doing it better than many others in the same era.

This would mark the start of a three-album run that saw Heart churn out more hits, including the biggest single of their run in 1987. After the “big hair” era ended, the Wilson sisters would return to their roots and explore more of the work that put them on the map in the first place. But they certainly left their mark on the 1980’s.

In On The Scam – Rip Offs for Live Tickets and Records

The past few weeks have seen an uptick in the dark art of scamming, and some of it relates to music. The worlds of live ticketing and record buying have both been hit with a flood of scams, mostly related to the modern age of electronic payments and digital goods.

In today’s world many concert tickets are digital codes. Simply show the QR code on your phone to the door person, they scan the code, you’re in. Physical tickets do still exist but the COVID era has seen a huge rise in the amount of paperless ticketing going on.

And with that comes the scam – a person on a Facebook group (where a lot of this is going on) says they have tickets for a show, at a decent price compared to the predatory resale market. Someone agrees to buy the tickets. The buyer pays the seller through PayPal or Venmo (same company, btw). The seller gets the money then vanishes into the ether, leaving the buyer hanging for tickets that never truly existed.

I’ve heard about this happening with concerts but I’ve personally witnessed it in the sports world – St. Louis has a new Major League Soccer team and it’s been a hot ticket so far with a massive resale market. Scammers have popped up in Facebook groups offering non-existent tickets quite a bit the past few weeks. It’s the only stuff I’ve really seen, but I’ve heard these same scammers are floating around with fake concert tickets too.

The easiest way to not be scammed like this is obviously not to buy from an untrusted source, which is tough if you want decently price resale tickets. Using the Goods and Services option through PayPal does provide a measure of protection, it is an absolute red flag if a seller asks for payment via the Friends and Family option, no one should ever make a PayPal purchase through that unless the person selling is a family member or friend. But buying from some random poster on a Facebook page is not really the way to go, even if legit sales do happen.

This will continue to be a thing as concert tickets go digital. I don’t know what real solutions are for this, the digital ticket market kind of lends itself to needing an official resale outlet- which is just what the few companies who engage in that trade want, of course. It used to be pretty easy to buy a paper ticket from someone who needed to sell, now it’s a whole other ballgame.

The other realm seeing scam activity is the secondary vinyl market, and specifically on the Discogs site. Discogs has become the premier place to catalog records as well as sell them. It’s a mostly convenient site for doing anything vinyl-related, though the scam bug has infiltrated it as of late.

Most of the information I’m using here comes from the Discogs subreddit. There’s been a lot of discussion about scammers in the past while, though there’s also been some misplaced hysteria over it too.

The Discogs scam goes like this – someone lists a record for sale, usually a hot item that goes for a few hundred bucks. For awhile the going price on these scam listings was around $80. A susceptible buyer jumps on the deal, then the seller disappears and the money with them. Even with word getting around about this type of scam, it appears plenty of buyers have fallen for it.

Discogs offers a few degrees of protection that the concert ticket thing does not. There is a seller and buyer feedback system, though the scammers are usually long gone by the time feedback means anything. There is also a reporting system for suspicious listings, and it seems to have some effectiveness. The typical method of payment is also PayPal Goods and Services, which provides PayPal’s own protection that often favors a spurned buyer. A seller seeking payment through means that circumvent PayPal G&S is an auto red flag and also against the Discogs terms of service.

There are a lot of if, and’s and but’s about this whole thing. Discogs themselves issued a message about scamming on Friday, April 28th to all users. They are going to take action on the matter, including a waiting period for new sellers. It’s a good move but it also affects me, since I am getting ready to sell on the platform. But I can’t really bitch since they are taking active steps to stem the scamming tide.

The actual email Discogs sent outlining their response to scamming

One bit BUT to this is the issue of user feedback. The feedback is essentially a score on Discogs, and in all honesty it doesn’t work out that great. I’ve only been a buyer on the platform to this point and all of my transactions have cleared without issue, about 50. I have a 24 score in feedback, all positive, and all on the buyer side. That’s less than half of what I’ve truly bought on there. Many sellers have reported getting less than 50% feedback on successful transactions as well.

The mitigating factor is that you don’t need a massive buyer score. Mine is 100% and is totally fine, even if it doesn’t represent half of my actual purchases. For a seller? Discogs feedback is massively important. A new seller might ship off three records to three different buyers and get dinged on one for some odd reason. The 66% seller feedback rating is a killer for them. To add in new metrics that affect new sellers is another hurdle to clear that sometimes isn’t practical.

The big issue which is sort of in the background here is the scammers and their accounts. No one should buy a cheap record from a new account, that ought to yell out scam to anyone. But – scammers have also been hacking accounts of established sellers and pulling this same crap. I don’t know how often it’s happened but there has been a bit of talk about it on the reddit forum.

Some have wondered just how much scamming was really going on through Discogs. Some feel the issue is overblown, while others point to a fair amount of clear scam listings as well as testimony from people who got ripped off. And an official response from the site itself would indicate it’s a big enough issue, at least in perception, to make official policy around it.

There are a mess of other issues entwined in this – what about the person who actually wants to sell a record cheap? Some personal collectors do fire sale their stuff because they need money pretty badly. Selling below the Discogs median will still net far more money than what most local shops will pay. These scams have been far below the price line so hopefully it won’t catch up anyone truly needing to make a buck or the lucky person who scores a nice haul out of it.

And yes, buyers do scam too. One common one is to pretend the item never showed up and get a refund. Another is to order a clean, nice condition record, request a refund and then return a damaged record to the seller. This is a thread I intend to pick up in a separate post.

In the case of Discogs scams, the easiest way to protect yourself is to not buy listings that are far below the median price. No one is selling a rare Cure record for $200 less than its median price. PayPal does offer its usual degree of buyer protection, but it’s still far easier to not get caught up in the scam to begin with.

This issue will likely crop up again, as it’s clear that the digital money age has lent itself to a whole host of predatory people. I don’t know how the live concert/digital ticket market will shake out, that one is kind of a frontier. I do expect the Discogs saga to relent some but that’s just a gut feeling, I could be totally wrong about that. Either way, be careful out there with your money, it’s a shark tank.

The Clairvoyant – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

The Iron Maiden Singles Series is now on to Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, the band’s seventh album. As noted previously and also via the list below, I don’t have the first two singles from this album so they aren’t part of the series at present. Today I’ll get into the third one, which actually represents live material and is a bit of a gem in that the songs aren’t from a full-length live record of any sort.

The cover art today is pretty trippy – it’s Eddie’s head in some kind of occult/crazy configuration. Out in left field for sure but you gotta do something off the wall once in awhile, and it does fit the song’s theme. Don’t drop acid and look at this (I wouldn’t know, just seems like good advice)

There are several versions of the single available – the usual 12-inch and 7-inch versions, as well as some picture discs, clear vinyl and even a shaped picture disc. The singles from this album were also issued on CD, which as far as I know are the first CD singles for Maiden. My single is a typical black vinyl 12-inch version, though it is housed in a very nice gatefold sleeve as opposed to the thin paper stuff many of the singles came in. And, in a change of pace, there actually is a pretty big difference between the 12-inch and 7-inch singles as it relates to the lead track. That’ll be covered in a minute.

All of the live performances on the record came from the Monsters Of Rock festival in Donington on August 20, 1988. That was the day after I turned 11 for anyone wondering. These are the only songs I know of from the performance that were released in an official capacity. I’d guess this has bootleg versions but I honestly have never looked for them.

As usual with these, this first video has the two sides from the 7-inch single. We’ll get to the difference between versions right in the first track, though the fact that the lead single doesn’t sound very live should tip most people off.

The Clairvoyant

The feature song today is one of the pivotal moments from the sort-of story being told on the Seventh Son… album. The title character has gained the gift of clairvoyance but becomes troubled by it, and also very ironically cannot foresee his own death. The music is pretty spectacular on this song, as it is throughout the album. Very nice, almost prog-lite guitar work on here and the chorus is very nicely done even with being a mouthful of words.

Steve Harris has said that the song was inspired by the death of British psychic Doris Stokes. This person seems to have been a giant fraud and died just when the band was cooking up new song ideas, and Steve came up with the central premise of a clairvoyant being blind to their own death.

Now, here’s the kicker as far as different versions of this single go – on most 7-inch pressings of the single, The Clairvoyant is the studio track. On the 12-inch versions and a very few 7-inches, the live cut from Monsters Of Rock is present. To add to the confusion, the band shot a video featuring live shots from Donington but the song is the studio track with bits of live crowd noise rather badly cut in. So to have this single with the more desirable live cut on side A, a prospective collector should seek out a 12-inch record.

The Prisoner

The first B-side is a cut from The Number Of The Beast and is a more low-key favorite of quite a few fans, myself included. The song was inspired by the late ’60’s British sci-fi drama of the same name, and the show was also the inspiration for Powerslave’s Back In The Village.

This one flies a bit under the radar on the hierarchy of Maiden songs but in my view it is an excellent song. This live performance is well captured and presented without any issues. The Prisoner would get more time on the Maiden England tour, which was presented as a live album.

And it’s worth noting that all versions of the single have the same live cut of The Prisoner – unlike The Clairvoyant, there are not different presentations.

Heaven Can Wait

The 12-inch “bonus” B-side is a nice cut from the Somewhere In Time album. It is also live from Donington and also the same across all versions it appears on. It too is well done and nicely presented, no crappy live audio or anything. It’s nice to have live versions from this album because any official presentations are few and far between. I assume that will change once the next tour and inevitable live album from it is presented.

That wraps up today’s pretty interesting single. On deck is another live cut, this time from the Maiden England tour and album. And also next week we’ll have something we haven’t had in quite some time – a departing band member. Until then.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free


Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan


Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant (you are here)

Infinite Dreams

Bring Your Daughter … To The Slaughter

Holy Smoke

Be Quick Or Be Dead

From Here To Eternity


Out Of The Silent Planet


Different World

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

Orange Goblin – Healing Through Fire (Album of the Week)

This week I’m actually grabbing an album from this century, it’s back to 2007 and the very general genre descriptor of “stoner metal” for an ace of a record that would cast a new spotlight on a long-running band.

Orange Goblin – Healing Through Fire

Released May 21, 2007 via Sanctuary Records

My Favorite Tracks – They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls), Cities Of Frost, The Ale House Braves

Orange Goblin of London, England had been active since 1995 and were on their sixth album at this point, and also first for what was a semi-major record label with Sanctuary. While the record deal would not really pan out as Sanctuary would essentially fold a year later, Orange Goblin would see expanded interest with this release.

Healing Through Fire is not a concept album but does tie a few themes through its songs, the theme being the Great Plague of medieval Europe. The plague’s worst years were in the 1300’s, though this record does reference events and people of 1600’s England as well, a century which also saw plague outbreaks.

Orange Goblin’s lineup had been stable through this point, with Ben Ward on vocals, Joe Hoare on guitar, Martyn Millard on bass and Chris Turner with the drums. Keyboards on the album were provided by Jason Graham. The album is a fairly lean affair with 9 songs in 43 minutes. Note that there is a deluxe reissue version with a ton of bonus and live tracks.

The Ballad Of Solomon Eagle

The opener kicks off loud and groovy with some very active riffing that clearly separates Orange Goblin from the more monotonous strains of stoner rock out there. The song deals with Solomon Eccles, also known as Solomon Eagle. Eagle was from 1600’s London and had been a composer, but later denounced his prior life and became a Quaker. This group were religious pariahs during this time. Solomon was known to go through public with few clothes on, if any, and denounce civilization. His proclamations of the end were fueled by the Plague as well as the 1666 Great Fire of London. He is a pretty curious person to feature in song, something he wouldn’t have liked as he considered music a sin after his Quaker conversion.

Vagrant Stomp

Another loud and stompy song that gets into some gross medical stuff from the time period. The song also uses the phrase “terminal spirit disease” in its lyrics, that also being the title of a 1994 album from Swedish melo-death pioneers At The Gates. No idea if the reference was meant for anything.

The Ale House Braves

This one is a faster-paced slammer that paints a picture of economic class disparity in medieval England. The destitute have nothing to lose and are coming for the well-off, a tale as old as time. There’s a very nice old-school guitar jam in this one too.

Cities Of Frost

Things slow down a bit here, which in stoner/doom parlance means it gets even heavier. This excellent song is a death march through a town being destroyed. No real clue what this is about, possibly the London Fire but it’s not specifically mentioned. Could be some random stuff that doesn’t tie into any real theme. While Orange Goblin are clearly their own entity, this is a song that gets a bit into High On Fire territory.

Hot Knives And Open Sores

Another one about the Plague and how gross everything was. I can’t imagine how nasty it would have been in the days before modern medicine when people were using every stupid thing in the book to try and treat the disease.

Hounds Ditch

More classic rock-based groovy stuff, again dealing with the piles of bodies around plague-ridden London and all the things that come to feed on the dead. This one switches to a pretty heavy end section to really emphasize the problem with lots of diseased dead bodies laying around.

Mortlake (Dead Water)

A quick and quiet instrumental gives a bit of a break here before jumping right back into the plague-laden mess.

They Come Back (Harvest Of Skulls)

This amazing song truly spells out the cost of the plague and its all-consuming nature. The dead themselves were a source of infection and would claim the living. This song has some very cool tempo changes and really brings the point home about how people thought the plague was a punishment from God and that it would be the endtime judgment a lot of people were waiting for.

Beginner’s Guide To Suicide

The closing track takes a left turn and lays out a slow blues-based effort. The lyrics are a haunting depiction of someone choosing suicide by poison as opposed to suffering from the plague. It’s a pretty harrowing position to be in but I’m sure plenty had to make that choice. The song is very well done and caught a lot of interest, today it stands as the band’s most-streamed track on Spotify.

Healing Through Fire was a watershed moment for Orange Goblin. While the album did not bust through charts, it truly put the band on the map and established their sound after several years of occasionally wandering through different parts of the rock and metal universe. The stoner genre had always been a constant presence though with a bit of a low ceiling in terms of dynamics and creativity, Orange Goblin were one band who showcased a higher degree of songwriting and arrangement to make something truly special out of the music.

The band’s choice to shape the songs around a theme was interesting and clearly paid off. It’s no secret among metal bands that the Great Plague is a fertile ground for lyrical inspiration, it was one of the most brutal times in human existence. Orange Goblin did fine work with the Plague as their creative backdrop.

The next decade would go well for Orange Goblin, three albums through the 2010’s would see the band’s stock continue to rise. While now an entity for nearly 30 years, it’s fair to say they really hit the nail on the head in 2007 with Healing Through Fire.

Wasted Years – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Today it’s time for one of Iron Maiden’s most known songs, and also the most talked about B-side from their long career. And also perhaps one of the least talked about B-sides from their long career.

The cover art here is different in that it doesn’t feature Eddie front and center and that was by design. The single was going to release before the album and management didn’t want the full Somewhere In Time Eddie reveal before then, so Derek Riggs did up a time machine console thing with Eddie being the one piloting the machine. Just a glimpse of Eddie’s reflection is available. The cover art doesn’t stand as iconic compared to many of the other singles but it was done for an understandable reason and is still a nicely presented concept.

The version thing is the same here as with others – several 12- and 7-inch releases and a few on cassette. I have the 12-inch so we get the bonus B-side.

Wasted Years

The single is again one of Maiden’s most recognized songs. It was composed by Adrian Smith and it features a very distinctive riff that is instantly recognizable anywhere. The lyrics explore the concept of being away from home out on the grind of tour, something Smith was feeling big time after the huge World Slavery tour Maiden were on prior to this album.

The song’s chorus implores the listener to stop searching for things outside of their scope and appreciate the moments they’re in. It’s a simple message but one that resonates pretty hard and this bit of simple wisdom from Maiden remains one of their top songs to this day.

Reach Out

The first B-side is the most talked-about “bonus track” in Iron Maiden history. It is the subject of a lot of discussion on forum posts and is often hailed as the group’s best B-side. There’s a lot to get into here, though I covered some of the general history last week on the Stranger In A Strange Land release.

Reach Out is a song written by Adrian’s friend Dave Colwell. Colwell had played in Samson just prior and would later go on to be a part of Bad Company, Humble Pie and many others. Reach Out was a song Colwell had in the can and he brought it to the Entire Population Of Hackney jam/show that Adrain, Nicko and others put on during Maiden’s downtime in 1985. Steve Harris suggesting using songs from that show to use as B-sides and that’s exactly what happened. Maiden did a studio rendition for the single, though they kept Adrian at lead vocals. Bruce does provide background singing here, and of course is instantly recognizable.

Reach Out is an obvious departure from Iron Maiden material and is more of a ’80’s radio rock/AOR track. It is a pretty good song and Maiden do an admirable job performing it. It does excite a lot more of the fanbase than it does me personally, though I have nothing against the track. I do think their most interesting non-album track lies a bit further down the road, but we’ll get to that in due time as it’s one of the singles on this list. But no matter what I think, Reach Out is a massive part of Iron Maiden lore and is a stone cold lock for many as the best non-album track they’ve done.

Sheriff Of Huddersfield

The 12-inch “bonus” B-side is, to be brief, a total shitshow. It is a joke track recorded loosely along to the song Life In The City from Adrian Smith’s prior band Urchin. The song is poking fun at the band’s longtime manager Ron Smallwood, who had recently moved to Los Angeles and was complaining about the move. The song has at Smallwood and his cushy kingdom in the Hollywood Hills. Smallwood himself was not aware of the song until just before the single was slated for release.

I won’t act like this is my favorite Maiden B-side, but then again a band who releases tons of material ought to be able to have a joke here and there. This wouldn’t be the last time Maiden used a B-side to poke fun of Smallwood either.

That does it for this one and the Somewhere In Time singles. Up next is Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and also the portion of the list where my collection is incomplete. I do have the third single released from that album but not the first two. Those will hopefully make their way to me someday but for now I’ll just roll through the series with what I have.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free


Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan


Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years (you are here)

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

Bring Your Daughter … To The Slaughter

Holy Smoke

Be Quick Or Be Dead

From Here To Eternity


Out Of The Silent Planet


Different World

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds