Hellbent For Leather
It’s classic rock night – and spandex is optional
Make a fist and raise it to eye level. Your thumb should be facing away from you, as if you were offering the Black Power salute. Now fully extend your little finger and index finger, to give the impression of your fist having horns. Finally, take a deep breath and shriek – shriek! – the following: “METAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!”
Good. You are now ready to rock.
A rawk night in an upscale drinking house isn’t aimed at wrinkly greasers in crusty leather trousers and their girlfriends in eye-torturing spandex. It’s mainly for rock virgins willing to offer themselves to the sexy gods of rock: young (and young-ish) fun-lovers who wear vintage Motorhead t-shirts even though they’ve no idea about Lemmy’s real name. (It’s Ian Kilmister, mofo.)
The featured artists don’t have be nought but the evil overlords of hard rock and metal; the evening need not be full of Metallica, Black Sabbath and inverted crucifixes. There must, however, be Zeppelin. (In which case, Spotify will not be your friend). After that, feel free to throw in anything that, well, rocks – and in a way that’s either kinda dirty or kinda silly. Or both. It doesn’t matter as long as it has classic credentials.
Pick nothing too thrashy (Slayer’s Raining Blood will have to sit it out), but make sure there are power chords and bellowing. Singers who pronounce “woman” as “wooomaaannn!” are to be encouraged. Guitars are key, so no synth-led sounds. Punk is often too thin, production wise, but you’ll find that American proto-punk works if it’s thick with fuzz and filth. Few fair weather rockers in your place are likely to be familiar with MC5, mind.
Machismo is vital. That means nothing deliberately camp; glam rock’s a no-no. Save it for another theme night. Hair-metal is fine, though. Hugely coiffured guys like Poison, Twisted Sister and Guns ‘n’ Roses wanted us to believe they were butch (even though they looked like performers from an all-transvestite circus) and they did their girly best to provoke a manly mosh. They’re a rich vein of pub-friendly rawk.
Go heavy on the uber-classics (nothing younger than ten-years-old, please) so that customers can headbang politely – and throw in a few lesser-know tracks during which people can take a rest, stomping a casual hoof while they’re at the bar. You’ll be able to spot the few true metal-heads: they’ll be playing air guitar as they order their pints of cider ‘n’ black.
The following 20 tunes represent only a tiny fraction of all the ear-splittin’, face-meltin’, bourbon-drinkin’, sweat-stinkin’ sounds available. Many more will follow here another time.
- Since You’ve Been Gone – Rainbow
- Epic – Faith No More
- Poundcake – Van Halen
- Remedy – The Black Crowes
- Breaking the Law – Judas Priest
- Alive – Pearl Jam
- That Smell – Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Battleship Chains – The Georgia Satellites
- Shooting Star – Bad Company
- Highway Star – Deep Purple
- Big Eyes – Cheap Trick
- No More Mr Nice Guy – Alice Cooper
- Rockin’ Again – Saxon
- Run to the Hills – Iron Maiden
- Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters
- Bad Motor Scooter – Montreal
- Motley Crue – Girls Girls Girls
- Search and Destroy – Iggy and the Stooges
- Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
- Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
A closer listen: Bad Company
Paul Rodgers was the singer who gave the rockinverse that most delicious “ow!” in All Right Now. His stint as Free’s lung-buster reached its zenith with the band’s Fire and Water LP of 1970. It’s a cracker, but it’s amateur hour when compared to what came next: Bad Company, one of the ’70s first super-groups.
They were Rodgers and fellow Free bird Simon Kirke, King Crimson’s Boz Burrell, and Mick Ralph from Mott the Hoople (No Hoople in this week’s playlist? WTF?! – Ed) Their first two albums are awesome, dude! They friggin’ wailed! Big bluesy riffs, scorched vocals and lyrics that had no ambition beyond describing what horny-pony Rodgers was: marvellous!
Well, that’s not being fair. As well as Can’t Get Enough of Your Love and Feel Like Makin’ Love, there’s also the likes of Shooting Star (see above), which tells the tale of young Johnny, who aspires to be a rock-stallion, achieves his goal, and then carks it. It’s as corny as all hell – and it’s great. And so – for two albums, at least – were the Company.