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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Metallica: Some kind of.... Bootlegs part I

Metallica was formed in Downey, California, in 1981 by Lars Ulrich, drummer and son of tennis prodigy Torben Ulrich, along with guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield whom he met after each had placed classified advertisements in the publication The Recycler. Hetfield, who had been influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM, tried to start his own band before contacting Ulrich but was unsuccessful. Bassist Ron McGovney was an original member, and the band used a few transient guitar players, such as Brad Parker and Jeff Warner. At their first session, in Lars Ulrich's garage, there were only three members, Ulrich, Hetfield, and Lloyd Grant, but McGovney joined a few days later. Metallica got its name when San Francisco-area metal promoter Ron Quintana asked Ulrich to help pick out a name for his new magazine to promote metal and NWOBHM bands. Quintana came up with a list that included "Metallica," but Lars suggested "Metal Mania" and used "Metallica" for the band he and Hetfield had just started. In early 1982, Metallica recorded "Hit the Lights" for the first Metal Massacre compilation. Desperate for a full time lead guitarist, Ulrich posted an advert in a local newspaper. Dave Mustaine from Huntington Beach, California, from the band Panic responded and met for an audition. Ulrich and Hetfield were so impressed with Mustaine's warm-up and equipment, they asked him to join before the audition began. A few months later the band recorded a full demo, No Life 'Til Leather, which quickly drew attention on the underground tape trading circuit. After conflicts with Mustaine, McGovney left the band and was replaced by Cliff Burton from Castro Valley, California. Burton was lured from his band Trauma with the proviso Metallica relocated to the San Francisco area. When the group arrived in El Cerrito, California, live performances and word-of-mouth enabled it to quickly build a healthy following in the Bay Area Thrash Scene. Metallica then travelled to Rochester, New York in 1983 at the urging of local promoters Jon and Marsha Zazula, and after a few gigs the band signed with the Zazulas' new label, Megaforce Records. Shortly after arriving in New York, Ulrich and Hetfield decided that Mustaine's aggressive and disruptive behaviour (relating to his extensive alcohol and drug problems) was becoming too much to handle. Mustaine was asked to leave the band, and Kirk Hammett was drafted from Exodus to replace him. A former pupil of Joe Satriani, Hammett brought to the band his own unique style. This would become more apparent after Ride the Lightning, the first album to feature Hammett's songwriting. Mustaine would go on to create the hugely-successful Megadeth. Metallica released its first album, Kill 'Em All, in 1983 on Megaforce. The album set the template that they would follow throughout the 1980s, featuring Hetfield's heavy vocals and aggressive rhythm guitar. Kill 'Em All did not have huge initial sales, but it did consolidate their loyal fan base in the growing underground metal scene. A year later, Metallica released their second 'Megaforce' album, Ride the Lightning, adding complexity and further melodic flair to the thrash metal of their debut. Longer songs showcased lyrical and musical growth, like "Fade to Black", a slower, more introspective song that some thought reflected the thoughts of someone contemplating suicide. The song in fact was written after the band's equipment was stolen (most notably a Marshall amplifier, leading James Hetfield to search multiple continents to find one with the same sound). The inclusion of slower, introspective songs with clean or acoustic guitar distinguished Metallica from most other thrash or heavy metal bands. Some tracks on Ride The Lightning contain riffs brought by Kirk Hammett from Exodus songs; "Trapped Under Ice" is reminiscent of Exodus' "Impaler". Metallica was inspired by bands such as Motörhead, Diamond Head (declaring in the sleeve notes of 1998's Garage Inc. that "two heads were better than one"), Saxon and other NWOBHM bands. They also took inspiration from hardcore punk bands like the Misfits and Discharge. By putting all these elements together, Metallica was determined to break the grip of soft metal on heavy metal fans. Mainstream success (1986-1994) Metallica, Damage Inc tourAfter signing a major label deal with Elektra Records in 1984, Metallica released a new album entitled Master of Puppets on February 21, 1986. Many fans regard the album as the band's finest work, and some consider it to be the greatest heavy metal album of all time. Despite the fact that no singles were released for the album, the band received some minor airplay from album tracks "Master of Puppets" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)". The supporting Damage Inc. tour was very successful, and the album charted at number 29 on the Billboard Top Album Charts. On September 27, 1986, during a European leg of shows, bassist Cliff Burton died near Ljungby, Sweden when Metallica's tour bus skidded off an icy road and flipped over. Burton was thrown out of the window, and the bus landed on top of him. It is uncertain if Burton was dead at this point or not. A winch that was lifting the bus off of him snapped, causing the bus to crush him a second time. It is said that Hetfield repeatedly yelled at the bus driver, asking him where the patch of ice was. Cliff's death left the band's future in doubt. The three remaining members knew Cliff would want them to carry on, and with the Burton family's blessings the band decided to seek a replacement and began auditions almost immediately. Among the most promising of the auditioneers was a young Les Claypool, a childhood friend of Hammett's. The band liked Claypool but felt that his style was "too funky". Claypool would go on to form the band Primus after playing in other bay area thrash metal bands, like Blind Illusion with the ex-Possessed's Larry Lalonde (who would later play with him in Primus). Three weeks after Burton's funeral, Jason Newsted, formerly of Flotsam and Jetsam officially joined Metallica on October 28, 1986. With Newsted, the band finished the Damage, Inc. tour in the early months of 1987. The transition from Burton to Newsted was anything but smooth: the band delighted in subjecting Newsted to months of hazing, simply to test the limits of the new member's patience, treatment that became legendary in Metallica's history . Tour expenses were often charged to Newsted's hotel rooms on the road, he was tricked into swallowing a significant amount of wasabi in a sushi restaurant, and he was often denied limo transportation with the rest of the band. Following the tour, the band quickly recorded The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited in July 1987 as a way to test a new studio they had constructed (according to the EP's liner notes) and to test the talents of Newsted. This EP continued Metallica's fascination with covering songs by relatively obscure (to American audiences) British metal and hardcore bands. In 1988 the band recorded ...And Justice for All. Featuring some of the band's most structurally complex music, it was the first studio album of new material released following the death of Cliff Burton. Very little of Newsted's bass is audible on the album. Some have speculated that this was done intentionally by the original members of the band as a reaction to Burton's death (or perhaps as a way of further hazing Newsted). The most likely reason, as mentioned by Hetfield and Ulrich in subsequent interviews[citation needed], was that because Newsted wasn't at the mixing sessions, he wasn't able to affect the final mixing process. Ulrich has also stated the lack of perceived bass resulted from Newsted exclusively mirroring Hetfield's rhythm tracks. Although the song-writing was praised, the production of this album was heavily criticized as Lars Ulrich's drums clicked more than thudded and the guitars had a thin sound. Because of the complexity and length of the songs, the band would later cease to play most of them live (though several songs, most notably "One", would remain a constant in the group's live performances). In 1989, Metallica received its first Grammy nomination for the album ...And Justice for All for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrument. However, in one of the most misunderstood Grammy decisions to date, the award was given to Jethro Tull for the album Crest of a Knave The result generated much controversy, as Metallica was widely expected to take home the award, and was standing off-stage waiting to receive it after performing the song "One" for the telecast. Lars Ulrich even referenced the snub in accepting a Grammy for "One" the following year, stating, "We gotta thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year." The album also contained their last instrumental to date, "To Live Is To Die", which was a sort of tribute to Cliff Burton because it contained some of Burton's unused riffs and a poem he had written that was read by Hetfield. It was during this time embraced the mainstream music world with their first ever music video. Ironically, they would choose the song "One", a song based upon the controversial World War I-themed anti-war novel "Johnny Got His Gun", written by Dalton Trumbo. For the video, the band performed the song in an abandoned warehouse. The performance was then extensively "remixed" with footage of the film version of Johnny Got His Gun. The end result featured a coherent but shortened "mini-movie" version of "Johnny Got His Gun", with an intricate level of synchronization between the song and the film's dialogue, creating a singular narrative between the two. The "remix" video was submitted to MTV, with the alternate "performance only" version held back in the event that MTV would ban the remix version. MTV accepted the remix version and despite its length (the video ran for nearly ten minutes) put the video in heavy rotation. The video would be many viewers first exposure to Metallica and was voted the #25 in the fall of 1999, when MTV aired it's last "Top 100 Videos of All Time" countdown and was prominantly featured during MTV's 25th Anniversary edition of "ADD Video", which showcased the top videos to air on MTV in the last 25 years. In 1991, the self-titled album, Metallica (popularly known as The Black Album by fans) saw the band reaching out to a wider audience. The record was co-produced with Bob Rock, whose resume included work with hard rock acts The Cult, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and many others. The album featured a black cover that evoked humorous comparisons to Spinal Tap. The majority of the making of the Metallica album and the following tour was documented in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. The recording sessions were a long and arduous process, lasting over a year due to infighting among the band's members and endless arguments with Rock about the album's direction, scope, and sound. The cost of recording the album was reputed to be over $1 million. However, despite the battle to finish the album, it quickly became the band's most successful release, debuting at number one on the Billboard charts and going platinum within weeks. The album featured the hit "Enter Sandman", which exemplified the radically pared-down style of songwriting across the album; it became one of Metallica's best-known songs and has been used extensively at sporting events. Another hit was "Nothing Else Matters", a more plaintive, acoustic ballad that outraged some fans but secured the album as a massive crossover hit and brought Metallica firmly into the mainstream. The intro to the track "Don't Tread on Me" pastiches Leonard Bernstein's "America" from the musical "West Side Story". This album had been preceded by a cover of Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy" which was contributed to Rubáiyat, a compilation album commemorating Elektra's 40th anniversary, and which Hetfield, together with Queen's remaining band members, performed live at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. Metallica also played a set at the concert. Charges of selling out would be aimed at Metallica throughout the 1990s, to which the band often joked that they did indeed sell out — each and every date of the tour. Indeed, the tour following The Black Album was especially successful and eventful. Many dates were held with no opening act, instead showing an introductory film that included interview footage filmed during A Year and a Half... not included in the film, and other footage of band members' antics backstage. The best-known incident during this tour was a pyrotechnics accident in 1992 in Montréal while Metallica was performing a series of joint shows with Guns N' Roses. Hetfield suffered severe second and third degree burns to his left arm during the opening of "Fade To Black", leaving him unable to play guitar for a portion of the tour (former Metallica roadie and Metal Church guitarist John Marshall filled in while Hetfield continued to sing). The Guns 'n' Roses set was also cut short when lead singer Axl Rose left the stage claiming he was unhappy with the sound. After two setlists cut short, fans grew angry and a riot ensued.

Metallica - August 29, 1989 - Seattle Coliseum - Seattle, Washington

Metallica - May 24, 1997 - GM Place - Vancouver, British Columbia

Metallica - November 6, 1991 - Veterans Memorial Auditorium - Des Moines, Iowa

Metallica - December 2, 1988 - Tingley Coliseum - Albuquerque - New Mexico

Metallica - February 12, 1984 - Maecke Blyde - Poperinge, Belgium

Metallica - October 2, 1996 - Le Dome - Marseille, France

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