Sammy Hagar, Don Felder + others, Heavy Metal: Music From The Motion Picture (1981)

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Released in tandem with the animated science fiction fantasy film of the same name, Heavy Metal: Music From the Motion Picture not only involved a cool selection of movers and shakers of the day, but a few surprises as well.

To begin with, the title of this double album soundtrack is a bit misleading, as a smattering of entries don’t exactly qualify as heavy metal. For instance, there’s the jazzy vibe of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen’s “True Companion,” Devo’s robotic new wave cover of Lee Dorsey’s “Working in a Coal Mine,” the fluttering pop rock palpitations of “Blue Lamp” from Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks — and “Open Arms,” a lovey-dovey ballad by Journey tailor-made for slow-dancing at the high school prom.

Ex-Eagles guitarist Don Felder also appears on Heavy Metal: Music From the Motion Picture via the moody “All Of You” and “Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride)” that burns and churns with severe rhythms. Cheap Trick, who have always traveled a thin line between pop and hard rock, rattle the rafters with a pair of superb numbers, including “I Must Be Dreamin'” and the comparably powered-up “Reach Out,” which, thanks to some lofty synthesizer lashes, buzzes like a swarm of angry bees.

Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” crushes and blushes with authority and adrenaline, Blue Oyster Cult’s dense and doomy “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” is a most welcome contribution, and Black Sabbath’s “Mob Rules” (featuring the mighty Ronnie James Dio at the helm) pounds, pummels, and conquers all.

Nazareth’s screechy and crackling “Crazy (A Suitable Case for Treatment)” tells us where Axl Rose learned his lessons from, Trust’s “Prefabricated” thrashes with tasty toxins, and a couple of songs from Riggs, “Radar Rider” and “Heartbeat” marry metal to melody with nifty results. After several years of laying dormant, Grand Funk Railroad, who have often and deservedly been labeled pioneers of the weighty stuff, staged an impressive return to form with “Queen Bee” that thumped and thudded to a brawny beat.

Groaning with electric guitars and rousing energy, Heavy Metal: Music From the Motion Picture (Elektra Entertainment) is far more heavy metal than not. But even the aforementioned non-genre folks seem perfectly at home amid the rumbling racket. Front, center and back, Heavy Metal: Music From the Motion Picture is an enjoyable compilation that captures a specific time and place, meaning right before both rock and pop became so mechanical and MTV killed the radio star. If songs with meat on their bones thrill your ears, then here’s an album you’ll definitely want to check out.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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