Academic journal article Notes

Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal

Academic journal article Notes

Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal

Article excerpt

Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal. DVD. [United States]: Metalrock Films, 2015. MRF 001. $14.95.

This documentary film on the genesis of the L.A. heavy metal/hard rock music scene focuses on the years 1975-81, prior to the advent of MTV and the evolution of L.A. hard rock into what would become more mainstream, commercially successful hard rock and glam/hair metal. Exemplified by bands like Van Halen, Guns 'n Roses, Poison, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi, all staples of the early music video era, there was a lively, burgeoning scene in the clubs in L.A. and Hollywood: a veritable Mecca for countless young male rock musicians in the latter part of the 1970s. The bands that made up this scene--groups such as Dokken, Ratt, Stryper and Angel--were drawing freely from a rich musical heritage, including British glam rock (David Bowie, The Sweet), early 70s psychedelia (the Doors, Spirit, Jimi Hendrix), and British heavy blues bands (Led Zeppelin, Free, Traffic). The result was a heady mixture of aggressive, often frenzied-sounding rock music, garish costuming, extravagant stage shows, and a prevailing decadence-courtesy of an overabundance of drugs, money, and girls--that one of the film's primary interviewees, glam rock icon Michael Des Barres, pithily describes as "f***ing disgusting." As the film argues, however, it was out of this milieu that a number of important metal, glam metal and thrash metal bands emerged, bands that would gain international fame through the 80s and beyond: the early hard rock scene in L.A., as documented in Inside Metal, provided "the blueprint" for the generations of international metal and hard rock superstars.

Inside Metal is comprised almost entirely of talking head interviews with musicians, managers, booking agents and related figures. These interviews provide compelling first-hand accounts of a musical monoculture: a live music scene almost entirely dominated by hard rock (and by men, it should be said; the film provides a mere two minutes of coverage of women in the L.A. hard rock scene, focusing on Joan Jett and The Runaways), at least until the gradual encroachment of punk and new wave towards the end of the 70s. …

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