Sunday, February 10, 2013
Winners' History of Rock and Roll: Metallica
VH1 Classic has had some pretty solid programming this weekend. I've seen Behind the Music Remastered on Anthrax, Poison, and Mötley Crüe, a few reruns of That Metal Show, and the edition of Metal Evolution about hair bands. Now, as I'm sitting here watching the Grammys, I'm hard-pressed to see an electric guitar, and it makes me physically ill. If you want to read about a real rock and roll band, check out Part 5 of Steven Hyden's excellent series on Grantland, The Winners' History of Rock and Roll: Metallica. Think about this for a second while Justin Timberlake sings in front of a big band. Most people had never heard a Metallica song until the video for "Enter Sandman" was released in late summer 1991, a couple weeks before the game-changing self-titled album (aka, "The Black Album") was released and catapulted Metallica into the mainstream and superstardom. Yet their two prior albums, which were straight-up thrash metal, were insanely successful considering there was a snowball's chance in hell you would hear a Metallica song on the radio. 1986's Master of Puppets went platinum and got up to #29 on the Billboard album charts without any radio play or videos. 1988's ...And Justice For All sold over a million copies within a year and got up to #6 on the Billboard charts, and "One" (the first Metallica song I ever heard) was a Top 40 song without being played on the radio. That's incredible, and I'm not sure anything like that could happen today (or maybe ever again) with the internet, iTunes, and the corporate interconnectedness of radio stations and music labels. Damn, I miss rock and roll. Next week's band: Nair Supply, a hairless tribute to the greatest half-Australian, half-English duo ever.