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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pioneers of German Heavy Metal

I've been going through some old vinyl albums and came across an interesting, underrated, and perhaps forgotten metal band. Now some of the pioneers of heavy metal are well known: Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, and Uriah Heep.

Uriah Heep, still going strong since 1969, is one of two of the major acts that heavily influenced some great German metal bands. The other act, who is lesser known, is Lucifer's Friend. This is the band, like their English counterparts (The Heep), who actually shared the same lead vocalist on occasion, John Lawton.

With John Lawton and Dieter Horns and the rest of LF cranking out some early horror-dramatic/heavy metal and even psychedelic tunes, it's no wonder such bands as UFO, The Scorpions, and Iron Maiden owe their beginnings and success to this pioneer German Metal band.

Although Uriah Heep has weathered through such eras as the punk and new wave era, disco, grunge etc., Lucifer's Friend did not. You can hear it through their albums. For example, they may be ultimate metal, then they started shifting towards jazz and even ballads and lose their main direction. It's no easy feat to stay on track when you have a band that injects piano besides monster organ, french horns, strings, and special effects.

Then again, they gave us some great albums. And since I love variety over monotony this band offers a lot. It's too bad the general public, at least here in America, couldn't follow along. Far better than Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, and Judas Priest, they're just not as popular. John Lawton, however, has the populrity as one of the greatest metal singers.

By far, their album Mind Exploding, is their best and probably most successful. Metal meets jazz meets pop is what I like to call it. Songs such as Fugitive and Moonshine Rider are as good as Grand Funk's Shinin On and Uriah Heep's That's the Way That It Is. Still, the old Ride The Sky by LF with it's frightening French horns from the first album is great. Listen to this song - don't tell me Led Zeppelin did not borrow from this for the Immigrant's Song.

Check out Lucifer's Friend on My Space and You Tube and explode your mind.

Here's a great guitar song: Fugitive



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