Roots of Metal
Posted by s woods on June 28, 2011
Sandy Pearlman, reviewing the Stones’s Got Live if You Want It! in issue #8 of Crawdaddy! (March 1967):
On this album the Stones go metal. Technology is in the saddle — as an ideal and as a method. A mechanically hysterical audience is matched to a mechanically hysterical sound. Side two of the album is a metal side. Most mechanical. It has the historic “Last Time,” one of the Stones’ first big metal songs but sounding pretty tame in this company, a very metallic “Time is On My Side,” without the mellow yellow organ of the first try. A metal “I’m Alright”; and a moderately metal “Satisfaction” with metal mitigation supplied by Billy Wyman’s newly super-miked bass, which sounds as if San Francisco in August and the Airplane and Jack Cassady might have had something to do with it. It also has a significant merger of the metallic and the morbid…
Is this the earliest use of “metal,” as applied specifically to rock? I personally always think of “metal” as following on the heels of “heavy metal” (much in the way that “rock” followed on the heels of “rock and roll,” and much in the same way that “Led Zeppelin” begat “Zeppelin” which in turn begat “Zep”), and yet, according to Wikipedia, “the first documented use of the phrase [heavy metal] to describe a type of rock music identified to date appears in a [May 1968 Rolling Stone] review [of Electric Flag] by Barry Gifford.”* In other words, Pearlman leapfrogged past the still-impending heavy metal sound to prop up what he heard in ’67 as simply metal (and with his persistent use of the term “mechanical,” he could just as well be writing about Voivod or someone) — a pretty neat trick, when you think about it.
* “Nobody who’s been listening to Mike Bloomfield — either talking or playing — in the last few years could have expected this. This is the new soul music, the synthesis of white blues and heavy metal rock.”