Various Artists - 1981 US Metal 1

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ARTIST: Various Artists
LABEL: Shrapnel
YEAR: 1981


LINEUP: See Below.

TRACK LISTING: 01 U.S Metal - Chumbi * 02 Look Into The Light - Exxe * 03 No Time - Gillies Meblin Assault * 04 Outta Line - Whizkey Stik * 05 Damascus - Issak Newton * 06 Gettin' Higher - The Rods * 07 The Snake - Greg Strong * 08 Liquid Lady - Reddi Killowatt * 09 Code 3 - Lyle Workman * 10 Rockin' Disease - Toyz


This was the first in a series of four releases from Shrapnel Records. It's objective was to compete with the perceived strength of HM coming out of Britain.

The likes of Judas Priest, and new boys on the block Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Saxon giving rise to concerns that US artists weren't even in the 'zone'.

Shrapnel boss Mike Varney wanted to change all that, certain in his belief that somewhere across the USA, lay guitar talent equal to, or surpassing that of foreign acts.

In all honesty, though the concept was admirable, and the talent undeniable, the quality of the material was pretty scratchy. However, if it was looked upon as a promotional showcase, and the tracks just purely used to demonstrate what they sounded like, then it probably served a purpose.

To be fair, I bought into the concept back in 1981, and imported these slabs of vinyl hoping to hear the 'very best' of what was on offer in the USA at the time.

What I got was a selection of Mike Varney approved tunes which was a world away from what I was hoping, however some are very good.

A humorous side-note are the album covers. Cartoon like with all the guitarists dressed in army fatigues inflicting damage with their guitar-weapons on anyone who happened to be in the way! Let's summarise:

The Songs

Chumbi - 'U.S Metal'
A San Fransisco based outfit featuring an awesome lead guitarist called Em Kay. Superb axe work, though the vocals are off.

Exxe - 'Look Into The Light'
A fantastic track, with grunty guitar from Henry Hewitt. This sounds so much like Q5 it's scary! Probably my pick of the bunch. The vocals aren't bad either.

Gillies-Meblin Assault - 'No Time'
Another San Fransisco outfit featuring the twin guitar attack of Bob Gillies and Dan Meblin. Both guys trade off with arpeggios and finger tapping solos. As an aside, Dan is now a leading 3D Multimedia artist based in San Francisco.

Whizkey Stik - 'Outta Line'
Another California (or is it Oregon?) based outfit. 'Outta Line' features a Boston like organ intro, before turning into a glorious 70's sounding southern rocker. Guitarist Carl McLaughlin has definitely listened to heaps of Grand Funk, Allman Brothers, and added his own impressive style by the sounds of it.

Issak Newton - 'Damascus'
Featuring Scott Roseman with a guitar instrumental which has more than a hint of Alex Lifeson of Rush in it.

The Rods - 'Gettin' Higher'
This was released around about the time The Rods struck with their debut album for Arista.

Greg Strong - 'The Snake'
Short guitar instrumental from Greg. Interesting player, good style, and unique use of tones.

Reddi Killowatt - 'Liquid Lady'
Next to Exxe, this is the other highlight of the album. Creative use of guitars by Terry Kilgore, particularly the atmospherics, whammy bar antics, phasing and wah-wahs. The song is swamped with a melodic bluesy feel. Great stuff. Terry has since played in the David Lee Roth Band as his lead guitarist.

Lyle Workman - 'Code 3'
Another instrumental this time from Lyle Workman, a fast picker, though admittedly the song didn't do a lot for me.

Toyz - 'Rockin Disease'
Featuring Rob Lyndall, this band also have a hint of Q5 about them, but overall it has more of European feel, a la The Scorpions. The solo section is spot on! The vocals however leave a lot to be desired.

In Summary

In amongst the sonic rubble were some excellent tunes. Highlights: Chumbi, Exxe, Reddi Killowatt.

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