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'60s progenitors of "Hard Rock" and "Heavy Metal"---Let's get subjective again!


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The definitions and history of those two extremely-guitar-based genres has been hashed out here before, but I recently bought the CD/DVD set of Blue Cheer's Rockpalast concert, and that got me to pondering what bands initiated what genres with their debut albums, which is pretty much the case for almost any music.

I don't really know of a band that innovated some kind of popular musical stylings after they were already established and had already recorded and released an album or album(s). While some did shift gears, did they actually pioneer a new sound in doing so? And maybe success/longevity ought to figure into the mix.

First, my personal criteria for differentiating between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is pretty much tempo-based. Both have loud guitars but I can't envision a slow Heavy Metal tune. Seems Heavy Metal music should be loud and  driving/pounding/relentless.

Hard Rock is subject to numerous different tempos and arrangements. Slow (melodic) Hard Rock songs are sometimes called power ballads.

Accordingly, Black Sabbath was Hard Rock...unless they created their own genre, something that coulda been called "Doom Rock", I guess. "That first album was scary as hell back then. IMO it still holds up and doesn't particularly seem dated. 

So with debut albums as the primary focus, IMO here's who did what to earn the  title of "founder" :

Deep Purple could be cited as the founders of Hard Rock with Shades of Deep Purple. Still holds up, too, and half of the contents were loud, reworked cover songs. They'd been influenced by the Vanilla Fudge, who were, IMO, the founders of progressive rock, so there's yet another genre.

Blue Cheer was the founder of Heavy Metal. Vincebus Eruptum preceded the release of the MC5's Kick Out The Jams by a year.

YMMV

 

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Blue Cheer did bring the thunder, but they weren't the founders of anything. Same with Iron Butterfly. In making that argument you'd have to include late-60s Who. Very similar approach except they had songs and virtuoso members.

Sabbath pioneered the graveyard-shift guitar approach, using minor tonalities and long improvisations. They swung too much to be labled as, "metal." 

After Ritchie Blackmore heard Zeppelin, Purple heavied-up their sound with sheer volume, banshee vocals and Euro-classical pretensions. Not metal, but hugely influential.

In my opinion, it's Mountain/Leslie West that pretty much pioneered the riff-based, bludgeon riffola known as, 'heavy metal.' Again, not a metal band, but good bones.

Judas Priest was probably the first, true heavy metal band. They took all of the above influences, ditched the extended jams and pretty much defined the approach. Not rock, not hard rock, but METAL.

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Blue Cheer at the top of the list as heavy and kina metal. Also.... Lucifer (Randy Holden from Blue Cheer) doing "Fruit and Icebergs". thats the first stuff I remember that sounded way different.  this in 1970. might be prejudice.. they were friends of mine, but that was different stuff at the time

 

 

Lucifer - 3.jpg

Edited by beezerboy
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Cream, Jimi, Cheer, Who, Mountain, Zep, etc all could get heavy, and were definitely influential. Metal is more than heavier rock. Add an overall dark evil vibe to the lyrics, artwork, and ALL the music (not just a few tunes) and you have the essence of metal. Black Sabbath. Their 1st 2 albums still had some jazz elements, but by 1971's Master Of Reality it was distilled down musically to the essence of what metal is. Judas Priest was also from Birmingham and were heavily influenced by Sabbath, and eventually evolved metal further in image and sound, as did Motorhead, Iron Maiden, and others.

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9 minutes ago, Brooks said:

Metal is more than heavier rock. Black Sabbath. Their 1st 2 albums still had some jazz elements, but by 1971's Master Of Reality it was distilled down musically to the essence of what metal is. Judas Priest was also from Birmingham and were heavily influenced by Sabbath, 

This 1000%...  Sabbath!

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In the 60’s rock bands were not so much concerned with being labeled. Heavy rock, hard rock or metal were fairly interchangeable. Everyone was trying to get some radio play and album sales. All the above bands mentioned surely played into the beginnings of heavy metal / hard rock or took it to the next step. If one is interested in the beginnings of that sound I would recommend listening to some obscure bands like Leaf Hound, Wicked Lady, Dust, Sir Lord Baltimore and of course Budgie. Is every song recorded by these bands totally heavy metal gems ? No, but more often than not you will recognize the seeds of what was to come. These guys were not the Beatles or the Stones, they were obviously going in a different direction. Thanks to Spotify and Pandora these obscure bands can be easily accessed to. 

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For those of you who were buying records in the mid 1960's, how were Paul Revere & The Raiders perceived?  They had the regular TV show gigs on Where The Action Is and hosting It's Happening which makes me wonder how much they were taken seriously by the guys who would become hard rockers. 

The Raiders had some great guitar and bass parts that could sound heavy.  Mark Lindsay was singing in a way that was more "passionate" than one would consider proper in public at the time.  He even had a pony tail before really long hair became popular. 

Were they seen as a pop band or what? 

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The Raiders could do both. Play the pop stuff on American Bandstand and get heavy on the deep cuts. Could have been the American Who if circumstances were a little different. 

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Phil "Fang" Volk pronounced the Raiders to have been "the Marx Bros. of rock and roll." They had the chops but generally opted for schtick in performance.

And here's Peter Frampton's perspective on Humble Pie (Performance--Rockin' the Fillmore in particular:

“It was heavy rock, not heavy metal. Blues or rock with Steve [Marriott]singing R&B all the time. When it came to solos, you had me with jazz influences and Steve playing harder riffs, so it was a mish-mash of styles that made Humble Pie so vibrant and lyrical.” (Vintage Guitar Magazine, March 2014)

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I personally think Priest is the beginning as far as I'm concerned (with Hell Bent for Leather specifically for the sound and tighter songwriting), but the definition seems to always be in flux.  There were lots of bands who were considered "metal", but then we started seeing sub-genres defined (thrash, speed etc).  Nowadays, some of those bands are no longer considered metal.   Personally, I can do without the super downtuned stuff or the Cookie Monster vocals and fonts I can't read.  

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3 hours ago, Brooks said:

Black Sabbath. Their 1st 2 albums still had some jazz elements, but by 1971's Master Of Reality it was distilled down musically to the essence of what metal is. 

Even their mid-career, doomy stuff had a jazzy swing to it. Doesn’t get much more metal than, “Hole in the Sky” or, “After Forever”, but even these skull crushers have that loping backbeat. Tambourine, too. 

Edited by RobB
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39 minutes ago, scottcald said:

I personally think Priest is the beginning as far as I'm concerned (with Hell Bent for Leather specifically for the sound and tighter songwriting), but the definition seems to always be in flux.  There were lots of bands who were considered "metal", but then we started seeing sub-genres defined (thrash, speed etc).  Nowadays, some of those bands are no longer considered metal.   Personally, I can do without the super downtuned stuff or the Cookie Monster vocals and fonts I can't read.  

Sabbath 1970 vs Priest 1978 so~sxBX31C.jpeg

Google doesn't lie bro~🤘😝🤘

Edited by Dave Scepter
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16 hours ago, Willie G. Moseley said:

Accordingly, Black Sabbath was Hard Rock...unless they created their own genre, something that coulda been called "Doom Rock", I guess. "That first album was scary as hell back then. IMO it still holds up and doesn't particularly seem dated.

I disagree on Black Sabbath in two ways.  One, I WOULD call them the first real "metal" band and two, I don't think their material with Ozzy holds up at all; it's horribly dated IMO.  Whenever I hear an Ozzy era Sabbath song on Ozzy's Boneyard on Sirius, I can't get to the radio to change the station fast enough.  I know I'm in the minority with that opinion, but I never thought the music was very good and the lyrics were often terrible and had clunky phrasing.  I still say the best thing they ever did was part ways.  Ozzy was much better out of Sabbath, and Sabbath was much better with everybody but Ozzy.  I realize for a lot of you, YMM[definitely]V.

 

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35 minutes ago, tommy p said:

I disagree on Black Sabbath in two ways.  One, I WOULD call them the first real "metal" band and two, I don't think their material with Ozzy holds up at all; it's horribly dated IMO.  Whenever I hear an Ozzy era Sabbath song on Ozzy's Boneyard on Sirius, I can't get to the radio to change the station fast enough.  I know I'm in the minority with that opinion, but I never thought the music was very good and the lyrics were often terrible and had clunky phrasing.  I still say the best thing they ever did was part ways.  Ozzy was much better out of Sabbath, and Sabbath was much better with everybody but Ozzy.  I realize for a lot of you, YMM[definitely]V.

 

Sacrilege. 😝

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42 minutes ago, tommy p said:

 Ozzy was much better out of Sabbath, and Sabbath was much better with everybody but Ozzy.  I realize for a lot of you, YMM[definitely]V.

I’m assuming you’ve listened to those aural abortions Tony Martin did with, “Sabbath?” If so, I would expect you to walk back your blasphemy. 

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46 minutes ago, RobB said:

I’m assuming you’ve listened to those aural abortions Tony Martin did with, “Sabbath?” If so, I would expect you to walk back your blasphemy. 

Personally I think Tony Martin is a really good singer however, most of the songs sucked during that period... except for Headless Cross 🤘😝🤘

 

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Yeah, I got that record thinking Sabs were scratching their way back to the toppermost of the poppermost. How was I rewarded?

Overly chorused/distorted guitars. 
Horrible, gated reverbs on Cozy Powell’s kit. 
A craptastic album with a decent rewrite of, “Heaven and Hell.”

Saw this tour at The Warfield in SF. It was either a bad night for the band or they just didn’t give a shit. They were resoundingly booed when Gallagher-lookin’ muh fuggah (Martin) thought he’d start shrieking though his harp/mic as an intro to, “The Wizard.” It hurt. Bigly, it did. FUCK that guy. 
 

Motörhead opened and mopped the floor with Iommi & Co. A certifiable rocknroll juggernaut. 

Edited by RobB
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I liked the way Rob Halford put it "Sabbath is Heavy, Priest is Metal."

But I think the genre swung back and forth so much it's a moot argument.

Black Sabbath formed in Birmingham in 1968, Judas Priest formed in Birmingham in 1969... but Priest didn't get their act together for a few years... their first album was four years later too. I hated the first album and can't remember why I even bought the second... cover art maybe, but I loved it.

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I'm mostly in the Tommy P camp on this one, although I think Ozzy meshed well with the rest of Sabs on the first two records.  I was enamored of Sabs and Kiss as a kid, but as I got older and got better as a guitar player, both bands grew somewhat stale to my ears.

But back to Willie's question, it's Sabs for me. They really invented the sound and image of the metal genre, at least in my mind.

Edited by Biz Prof
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12 minutes ago, Willie G. Moseley said:

^^^See last sentence of original post

It took MC5 a few years to get their first LP out. They've been knocking around Detroit since about '64 or so.

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