HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (Aztec Music)

Long story, and the reason this holds my interest is... I don't know it! And that's the fascination of Aztec reissues (I believe the label began as a reissuer of Aztecs product): they celebrate Australian things we don't have a clue about o'er here, their crowning glory for us hard rockers being the astounding Buffalo reissues program (Dudes, buy it. Buy it all). In any event, westerners know the recently deceased Billy Thorpe - if they know him at all - for the semi-hit from 1979 called 'Children Of The Sun' which helped me sell a lot of stereos back in high school. So step back seven years, and Billy's a big Steve Marriott-type belter and consummate in-control front man in front of a hard rocking bar room boogie band, setting the stage for AC/DC's success. And here he is headlining in front of 200,000 people at some sick rock fest where apparently some miscreants in the crowd were drinking liquor products. So yeah, not metal in the strictest sense, but just dig it, or drink in the fact that the Aztecs are part of that whole story of Australians thumping along with boogie rock until we got AC/DC, The Angels and Rose Tattoo. As usual with Aztec, the packaging is first rate, offering a massive booklet with rare photos, interview bits, pictures of ads and flyers, all housed in a fold-out digi. Musically speaking, highlight would be doomy proto-metal rocker 'Let Yourself Go', the party-time title track and glam rocker 'Believe It Just Like Me' 'cos much of the rest is jamming and old rock 'n' roll standards, with one repeated selection, given the set covers in fact two different 1972 shows. Grade balances the simple rock and dodgy sound of the music against the great read of the booklet.
Rating 7

Keep It True: Festival History Book 2003-2008 (Metal On Metal Records)

Cool idea, a whole pile of enthusiastic metalheads getting together to celebrate the hard power "traditional" metal legacy of Germany's Keep It True Festival. The straight goods - this is a good looking book, hard cover with silver foil, embossed, large format and then full colour throughout with lots of photos of all the bands who have thrown the horns over the years. The text is both in German and in English, and it's a damn good read, best and most helpful bit being the overview with organizer Oliver Weinsheimer, but the impressive tract of work being all the recollections and "reviews" given by the myriad bands who have performed. The general vibe is that acts travelled from far and away, and were touchingly validated by having their obscure music appreciated, often by an audience they never thought existed in such loyal and robust form. Although only 64 pages, the text is tiny, with lots of substance to each large format page. All in all, a gorgeous memento. See www.metal-on-metal.com for more.
Rating 8