Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Run to the Hills

Iron Maiden are the last act standing from the late-1970s onslaught of the New Wave of the British Heavy metal movement, after other kindred metallists have fallen by the wayside. To a large extent, Iron Maiden's singular blend of astonishing, dextrous triple-guitar interplay, brutal, punishing rhythms, intentionally grandiose classical-literature influenced lyrics, and of course, Bruce Dickinson's distinctive, attention-grabbing air-raid siren wail place them several notches above the rest of the heavy metal crowd. Iron Maiden mostly earned their stripes in the 1980s, and while they may have lacked the ostentatious showmanship and rock-star glitz and glitter of other metal gangs, but they more than made up for it with their experienced, adept playing and aggressive, dynamic musical template, with landmark albums like 'The Number of the Beast', 'Powerslave' and 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' comprising no-brainer must-haves in any self-respecting metal enthusiast's library. Check out one of the band's most enduring standards, the thumping, throbbing 'Run to the Hills', captured in a superior live reading at the Rock in Rio festival in 2001.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pacific State

Mancunian collective 808 State revolutionised the acid-house sound in the early 1990s by incorporating structured, song-based forms and some good, old-fashioned rock firepower into the overall texture of that house sub-genre. This resulted in a wondrous, utterly compelling aesthetic that deftly went beyond dance music's basic nature of spare, repetitive rhythms, and made the trio household names everywhere, from dank, cavernous underground clubs, to shimmering mainstream dance palaces, and even on the indie and commercial charts, where they scored with a handful of scene-defining hits. Of course, 808 State’s signature tune remains the blissful, glittering 'Pacific State', which effectively became the bona fide anthem of the second Summer of Love of 1989-1990 upon its initial release. While this ambient-house classic has turned up in various permutations since then, its original version remains the most exceptional edition, with its percolating, rhythmic synth chords, kinetic bass backbeat and that unmistakable, siren song-like sampled-saxophone riff. Check out the appropriately psychedelic, kaleidoscopic video clip, which seems to have been made to be played on giant video screens during those long, lost nights of frenetic, Ecstasy-fuelled raves which were all the rage back then.