What albums do you consider the best of the genre? A lot of bands made a lot of great singles, but I've always felt that a lot of the full lengths were alright but not really all-time classics. So what do you consider the cream of the crop?
1- No comps. There are lots of great comps, but I wanna stick to LPs put out by individual bands.
2- No reunion bullshit offerings. If you dig something like the albums put out by HELL or ANGEL WITCH in recent years that's cool, but I want to focus on the original NWOBHM era, not stuff recorded 30 years later.
I'll start the ball rolling with a few mentions, in no particular order:
(warning, lots of random side stories included)
Iron Maiden s/t
Those opening licks of 'Prowler' hit and you know this is something special before you get 60 seconds into the album. One of the all-time great of Heavy Metal, let alone just NWOBHM. I actually can't recall the order I heard Iron Maiden albums in back in the day; I think I heard this after 'Live After Death' and 'Maiden Japan'.
Fun side story about 'Maiden Japan'- I bought it as a used cassette in Atlanta, GA. When I later got it on vinyl I put the cassette tape out in a yard sale along with a bunch of other heavy metal tapes (this was around '92; I was in high school). Living in the rural Southern US, I didn't expect to sell any of them, but that afternoon this really cute teenage girl and her dad stopped and looked around. She went over and whispered something to her dad, and he came over and picked up the tape; she nodded yes, and he bought it for her. I DON'T THINK i'VE EVER SEEN SOMEONE SO HAPPY IN MY LIFE. She looked like her dad had just given her a convertible full of puppies. I will always wonder why in the world that cute 15-ish year old girl wanted an Iron Maiden live EP on cassette so badly, but I hope she enjoyed it.
Diamond Head 'Lightning to the Nations'
This might be my personal favorite of the whole damn genre. It was one of the mythical beasts that took me a couple of years to even hear, and longer to eventually own. The thing that sets this off from almost every other NWOBHM LP, at least to me, is the maturity of the sound and the songwriting. They sound so incredibly polished and professional on this debut release, while so many of their contemporaries never quite shook that amateurish vibe (though I mean that in a nice way). Such incredible songs with such incredible performances. Another one that I don't play as much anymore and is long overdue for some more spins. Shame they went in a more commercial direction after this.
I've owned 3 reissues (1 cassette, 2 cds), 1 first pressing LP, two 2nd pressings of the LP, and a 3rd pressing as well. I came in second on Jim Cranford's 1st pressing copy when he auctioned it and was devastated that I lost, then I won a different copy in better condition at half the price about three hours later! The ebay giveth and the ebay taketh away.
Angel Witch s/t
See the AW thread currently running for more thoughts on this. Bottom line, there's no doubt it's an amazing example of the genre.
Some others I really like but may be a step down from those above:
Desolation Angels- s/t
Also has a thread running now. Great, doomy material that stayed on my Playlist for like a decade after I bought it.
I know some folks don't like this band that much, but for me this album has a certain magic about it. Yes, it's a tad simplistic, there's some filler and it's not even that long to need filler, but I just love the overall vibe of the album. Re Bethe's songs and playing just strike a chord with me.
Chateaux 'Fire Power'
While there's nothing that necessarily makes this stand out among its peers, I always found it a great listen. Love the raw, powered-out guitar sound these guys have on this album. SO many Ebony albums were SO cookie-cutter sounding, but this one always shines through for me.
Venom 'Welcome to Hell'
I don't like it b/c it's legendary. I don't like it b/c it's sloppy. I don't like it b/c it's pure satanic mayhem blah blah. I like it b/c it's just a really fun album to listen to. Despite all it's flaws and limitations, it just works.
Fun side story here- I bought this at a record show as a teenager. When I showed it to some friends at home, they literally broke out in a sweat and begged me not to play it. This was around the time of the Judas Priest trial, and they were convinced the album was gonna be full of satanic subliminal messages. Having 'we drink the vomit of the priests' printed on the back cover didn't help matters any. I really don't remember my initial impressions of it much; I liked 'Angel Dust'. I eventually traded it away (it was a Combat press) at a record show, then later bought a Neat pressing off John Allinson. He was the dealer who bought out all of Neat Records' old stock, and I bought his last copy of 'Welcome to Hell'.
Tokyo Blade 'Midnight Rendezvous'
I always liked the really early tokyo Blade material, and I've never figured out why this band wasn't bigger. THey seemed to fit the perfect niche between Iron Maiden and Def LEppard; they should have been as big as those bands. Another album I really should revisit. THis was another one I dug out of that record store in TX (see my comments in the Desolation Angels thread). Weeks later I was digging through that store again and found a second copy; I noticed the back cover had a different color scheme, so I bought that copy too. Once I got it home, I compared 'em and discovered they had slightly different track lists, which delighted me to no end. I hadn't realized it in the store b/c I had bought the 1st copy just a few weeks before and hadn't had time to play it much, so I wasn't really familiar with the tracks yet.
Witchfinder General 'Friends of Hell'
While I love both WFG albums, this one is the better of the two IMO, though just barely. Another band that I heard on a comp and then took awhile to hear anything else by. Side A of this album is just pure gold (well, almost). Side 2 has several great tracks, but it took me longer to tell them apart for some reason.
So fun facts about this one: I finally got to hear it at the library on my university campus! As a freshman, I realized they had a listening library, so I randomly started typing in some metal bands to see if they had any stuff. Holy shit, did they have some stuff! The listening library was set up as booths with headphones, so you had to ask someone at the desk to play the record, then you sat at a booth and listened. By the end of 'Love on Smack' I knew i HAD to get this album. Took about a year to track it down. Meanwhile, I drove those poor folks at the desk crazy asking them to re-play that album over and over and over day after day after day. And if you think that's something, soon thereafter I discovered they had a copy of the DAMASCUS 'open your eyes' EP in the shelves. WTF they were doing with something like that in a small campus library in the Midwest I have no clue. THey used to have a record sale every year to thin stuff out; I went every year and bought tons of stuff (all the Sabbath and Priest vinyl you wanted for about $1 each; Oh, Possessed 'seven Churches' was special so it was $3; etc etc), but I never saw them put these two out. Later I realized that they probably never put them out for sale b/c the library logs showed that someone was always listening to them! Guess I was my own worst enemy there
Took a long time to track down my own copy of Damascus. I eventually got both pressings of it. Meanwhile, I've had about 5 copies of 'Friends of Hell': pic disc, black vinyl, clear vinyl, silver/'mirror' vinyl, and a cd. I drew the line at the reissues from a few years ago.... 'cause we all need to have limits
"I'm sorry Sam, we had real chemistry. But like a monkey on the sun, our love was too hot to live"