Monday, July 27, 2009
Metallica: The CLub Dayz 1982 - 1984 reviewed by Goreripper
Bill Hale is a Hawaii-based rock photographer who was lucky enough to be where plenty of us probably wish we could have been 27 years ago: hanging out on the San Francisco metal scene. He got to see, and document, the birth of one of the greatest bands metal has produced. Regardless of your opinion of Metallica, without them it's unlikely metal would have become the institution it is today, and in this book Hale captures the embryonic days of a band that has since become one of the world's biggest musical acts.
The first few pages are reminiscences from some of the others who were there, John Strednansky from Metal Rendezvous, Ron Quintana, the zine editor from whom Lars stole the name Metallica, and Scott Earl from a band called Culprit, whose drummer got into a fight with Dave Mustaine at Cliff Burton's second ever Metallica gig: "Mustaine basically threw my guitarist's pedals into the corner in a big ball of duct tape. I guess we weren't getting out of their way fast enough."
These tales of the band's early days, in which Mustaine features very prominently, are pure gold. But the good stuff - the great stuff, the stuff that really shows us how it began and what it was like - that all really begins on page 25, with a series of shots from a gig in September 1982, when Metallica was still based in LA and opening for Bitch. There's Hetfield, wearing a bullet belt and a Venom shirt, flipping the bird. Later on, there's a bunch from Burton's first gig, headlining over Laaz Rockit and Exodus, with Cliff in his bell-bottoms, clutching his Rickenbacker, another from backstage of Hammett and Mustaine side by side. Further on, Kirk's in the band as they open for Raven and near the end, a slightly blurry candid picture of Dave and Cliff, hanging out after a Megadeth show in August, 1986, six weeks before Burton was gone forever. What strikes you the most is how fresh-faced, fun-loving and rebellious everyone is: in a backstage shot with Burton, Mustaine's wearing an inverted crucifix in his ear, elsewhere there's Lars yakking it up with Gonzo Sandoval from Armored Saint.
There isn't much "art" to Hale's shots, and almost none that can be called "posed". Even the publicity pics were of shirtless, beer-swilling reprobates with cheesy, cheeky grins and enormous pitchers of amber fluid. Just like the music the band was making back then, Bill Hale's photos are raw, urgent, immediate and vital, capturing the young Metallica's very essence. For anyone who was there, or wishes they were, this is a great book.