Metal Evolution-Episode 3: Early Metal UK (DVD)
Released: 2012, Alliance Films
I loved this episode. It was all about what influenced the heavy metal I listen to today as well taking me on another nostalgic trip.
The influences of Led Zepplin, Deep Purple and the birth of Black Sabbath dominated the first half of this episode - bands I had mostly experienced in my latter metalhead years.
So Plant and Page don't like to be associated with the term heavy metal and refused to be interviewed? I agree that their music seemed to have a lot of psychedelia overtones to be considered heavy metal, however their influence on today's heavy metal cannot be denied. Sounds to me like Page and Plant are a couple of wankers-talented wankers, but wankers all the same.
Obvious to many, but not to me until this episode, was the influence of Rainbow in the heavy metal I listen to today. Rainbow was another band I only discovered in retrospect, but have grown to love their music and thank the metal gods that I was able to experience the live magic of our Elvin King, Ronnie James Dio in the intimacy of a tiny show the summer before his illness was diagnosed. Is the fact that I’m sitting here typing while wearing rainbow and unicorn pyjamas over-sharing?
The development of the two complimentary guitars and heavy metal 'uniform' shed further light, but when Dunn introduced glam into the episode, I was able to connect it to my own metal evolution. While T-Rex (whom I love) was only mentioned, another band I experienced was highlighted - The Sweet.
My first band T-shirt was The Sweet, a gift from my uncle when I was only 8 or 9. (Unfortunately, it hasn’t survived like my 80s KISS sweatshirt.) They received a lot of airplay in Australia then and still tour here every few years. I can't not turn up the volume every time Fox on the Run comes on the radio, bang my head and belt out along with the song. When The Sweet was labelled 'the fathers of glam metal', it all made even more sense to me.
I was ready to continue my metal evolution journey.
Chronologically, this maybe should have been episode two, because here is where we find Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Zeppelin etc. This is the birth of Metal, and while early rock and blues in America had an undeniable influence, the birth of the genre was in the UK. This is a foundational episode, but also one with few surprises. Practically every documentary has covered Sabbath and Birmingham exhaustively. Things are redeemed with the inclusion of The Sweet, probably the best and most influential glam rock band in the UK on metal. Dunn wisely skips Bowie and others that really only had an influence on glam metal’s image but not so much the music. Things conclude with the formation of Rainbow and the rise of Ronnie James Dio, including an interview conducted a few years before Dio died. Also near the end is a brief spotlight on Judas Priest, and band that probably deserved at least a quarter of the episode instead of barely 4 minutes.
Much like episode Two, The Early Metal UK Episode features interviews with many pioneers and focuses on the early guitar heroes, Clapton, Beck, the Yarbirds and Led Zep. The piece on Black Sabbath was bit dull, the story has been told so many times before but it is critical to include. It was nice to see Deep Purple and Richie Blackmore get some of the recognition they deserve. There is a good segment of UK Glam rock with Slade, T. Rex, and Sweet but there was a surprising lack of Queen and UFO in the episode. It’s a shame that Page and Plant declined to be interviewed for the series, and Dunn expresses his disappointment.