The Battle of Heaven and Hell



The Battle of Heaven and Hell, Where the Mob Rules, and the Dehumanizer is the Devil You Know

The Neon Knights and the Children of the Sea met Lady Evil in the battle of Heaven and Hell. Or so they thought. They met at the Wishing Well, there to see who would Die Young and who would Walk Away. Win or lose, all combatants knew that in battle, Lonely Is the Word.


And the two sides did Turn up the Night. Voodoo flourished even in the very Sign of the Southern Cross, neither side knowing that E5150 was the code of their demise. First the Mob Rules, then the embittered County Girl retaliates as souls are Slipping Away, Falling off the Edge of the World Over and Over.

As the battle raged, the Computer God tallied the lost, for After All (The Dead) alone continue beyond the computer-generated TV Crimes, to send Letters from Earth to the Master of Insanity, hoping he will use his Time Machine to erase the Sins of the Father before it is Too Late, before each I is Buried Alive.

And The Devil Cried as the Shadow of the Wind shrieked against the Ear in the Wall.


Ultimately, Atom and Evil unleashed Fear once kept inside the Bible Black, to Double the Pain beyond the ministrations of even a Rock and Roll Angel. The Turn of the Screw proved so painful that it led to even the most sane and compassionate toward Eating the Cannibals, to Follow the Tears to Neverwhere, losing the last vestige of hope for Breaking into Heaven.

Black Sabbath – Heaven And Hell (Live In N.Y 1980)


Written By Dr. Metal  <Martin Jacobsen>

Vinyl Analysis: I Need “Help!”


“Help! I need somebody”!

A song that starts by shouting “Help!” is hard to ignore. It’s my favorite Beatles song, hands down.

When I hear “Help!,” I sometimes think I need to get some help. It drives me entirely crazy. If I were to openly weep and jump up and down screaming like I want to between 00:50-1:00 in, I might end up getting some help whether I want it or not. I understand why Beatlemania happened when I hear those ten seconds. In an effort to get my feet back on the ground, I’ll try to examine and understand, You Know, That Part When…

A few years ago, when I was younger than today, I noticed a detail in the song that made me feel totally stupid. I have known this song all my life. I think the discovery of the phenomenon here under study comes from what was my favorite part of the song until now, which is the sound of the vocals when they sing “my independence seems to vanish in the haze.” That part of the song has always stood out for me. I always thought it was the timbre in their voices on “vanish in the haze,” but now, I find I’ve changed my mind. It’s opened up the doors to a new understanding.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. The phenomenon begins at 00:10-00:20 with the lines “When I was younger, so much younger than today / I never needed anybody’s help in any way.” They shorten “younger” to “young” and “needed” to “need” in the backing vocals. I’m not sure the idea of lead and backing vocals even applies, given that it’s an internal dialogue. That’s the brilliance of it. Sequentially, it seems to be a systematic exchange, but in terms of narrative structure, it’s fluid, and any voice can repeat or sustain the story, and the rheme or closing of the predicate comprises all the voices. Take the lines above for instance. The single voice and the backing vocals are not the typical pop music echo. It goes like this (backing vocals in parentheses):

When I was younger
(when I was young)
so much younger than today
(I never need)
I never needed anybody’s
RHEME [all voices]: help in any way

 There’s a sustain/introduce pattern. See it? Interestingly, they use those shortened forms. We linguists refer to these deleted suffixes {-er, -ed} as inflectional morphemes, which means that they only enhance a word’s grammatical function. The words don’t mean anything new, with or without the suffix. It’s only a grammatical detail. And it fits the meter better to shorten them. And maybe even more importantly, it foreshadows another morphological reduction that I daresay makes the entire song work, both narratively and musically.

In the next verse, at 00:50-1:00, we find that they have tried to replicate the narrative structure I noted above. I’ve copied the lyrics below from A-Z Lyrics.

(Now) And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
(My independence) My independence seems to vanish in the haze
(But) But every now (Every now and then) and then I feel so insecure
(I know that I) I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

But this is not how The Beatles have done this. Here’s how it really goes and why it makes me so crazy.

And now my life has changed
(My life has changed)
In oh so many ways
(My indepen…)
My independence seems to
RHEME (all voices): vanish in the haze

There’s the same sustain/introduce narrative pattern, but this time, they shorten “independence” to “indepen.” which is an entirely different morphological operation. They clipped a derivational morpheme {-ence}, which does affect meaning, and in this instance, the entire word loses its meaning because the stem “independ,” although it feels verby with a nouny modifier, does not inhabit any part of speech category. You can’t “independ” no matter how hard you try (no wonder he feels so insecure). “Independence” actually vanishes at this moment.  Not only have they clipped the noun suffix, they also leave off the /d/ phoneme. It’s so subtle. If they had tried to sing “independence” there, it never would have fit. They made it fit the meter by just cutting it off. There’s something innovative, even brave, about that.

And then, AND THEN-when they actually do sing “independence,” they defiantly enunciate each of the syllables, only to find that the rheme, the final word-“seems to vanish in the haze” with all the internal voices confirming the loss.

Think about it. Everything lines up. He needs help, his independence is incomplete, then when he tries to assert it, it vanishes. That’s the story line and the psychological state it articulates. It all fits musically because the shortened form preserves the meter, thus sustaining the narrative AND musical elements.

I don’t know if I can say this changes my life in oh, so many, ways. However, I’m not feeling down about having missed this element for so long. Those days are gone. I’m feeling more self-assured about having at least noted that something special exists, even if it took this long to figure out, you know, that part when…

Written by Martin Jacobsen (aka Dr. Metal)

Vinyl Analysis #2



The Beatles – Help

Vinyl Analysis: The Influence of UFO’s Phenomenon (1974) on the Formation of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal

NOTE: This will be the inaugural column for a series called Vinyl Analysis.  The purpose of this column will be to offer a hypothesis about an event in the history of popular music.  While these analyses may apply to any genre or era, most will focus on the history and development of heavy metal.  They will focus on some sort of turning point.  These arguments will generally seek to add to the record rather than overturn it.  The overall purpose will be to offer something to think about.  At least for the moment, these columns will neither seek to identify these turning points chronologically from the beginning nor suggest a comprehensive treatment of any given issue.  It’s not about knowing it all; it’s about finding some more of it. (VL)


The subject of this inaugural column will be the 1974 album Phenomenon, the third studio outing by British heavy metal band UFO, released on the Chrysalis label and featuring vocalist Phil Mogg, guitar virtuoso Michael Schenker, pioneering bassist Pete Way, and drummer Andy Parker.  As the band’s name may suggest, UFO began with a “space rock” ethos.  But many of the songs on the album here under examination mark a sudden and definitive change of direction toward a heavier, edgier sound.  The track listing is as follows:

Side One

Album Cover-Front
  1. Oh My
  2. Crystal Light
  3. Doctor Doctor
  4. Space Child
  5. Rock Bottom

Side Two

  1.  Too Young to Know
  2.  Time on My Hands
  3.  Built for Comfort
  4.  Lipstick Traces
  5. Queen of the Deep


In fact, this shift in ethos has more profound ramifications than a mere change in direction for a single band.  I will advance the hypothesis that this album pioneers numerous elements of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM).  This will not be the first time UFO and NWOBHM are mentioned in the same breath, but I hope to substantiate the importance of this album as a part of the development of this subgenre.  The evidence for this thesis will be drawn almost entirely from the music on the album (focusing on the artifact itself will typically be the case for Vinyl Analysis).

Most people agree that Motörhead and Judas Priest pioneered NWOBHM and that Iron Maiden confirmed it.  The faster tempos, heavy drumming, operatic vocals, and intricate guitar work established a new template for heavy metal.  In fact, a strong argument surely exists for the UFO album Lights Out (1977) standing alongside the early work of these three bands as an early NWOBHM document.

However, I believe Phenomenon heralds NWOBHM in 1974.  One hearing of the album should be enough to confirm it.  While some of the music on this album (such as “Crystal Light” and “Space Child”) sustains the space rock model of the first two studio albums or conforms to other stylistic approaches (see below), the songs examined here show advances in speed, technical proficiency, and raw power that herald the NWOBHM approach.   “Oh My” offers a brief, up-tempo song of the sort that would become coin of the metal realm for an opening track during the 1980s.  The riffs, fills, and solo reflect the urgency of the coming subgenre.  “Doctor, Doctor” opens slowly, but the bridge to the faster main riff, as well as the twin leads reprised throughout the song, sound very much like what would be heard from Iron Maiden years later.  Side One ends with metal juggernaut “Rock Bottom,” which almost single-handedly sums up NWOBHM in its six-and-a-half minutes.  Opening with an uncompromisingly fast riff for the time, the intensity grows exponentially as the song progresses.  After a tempo change into a slower, epic passage (with lyrics actually heralding death metal), Pete Way’s driving bass line carries the song into an astonishingly intense solo section by then 19-year-old Michael Schenker.  There seems little doubt that this solo is among the best of its time, and it still holds up.  The legato style suggests an influence on Iron Maiden, and the sheer speed of the entire passage seems characteristic of the increased intensity that would come to distinguish the NWOBHM movement.

Album cover-Back (Remaster)

The first track of Side Two, “Too Young to Know,” features an opening lead characteristic of NWOBHM.  Again, the tempo, driving bass line, guitar solo, and lead fills also seem typical of things to come.  As the second first song, “Too Young to Know” asserts its command of Side Two in the same way as “Oh My” opens Side One.  The use of similar opening songs for each side indicates planning on the album level.  This is not merely a collection of songs.  UFO manifestly intends to establish a shift in approach.  Side Two does lean on the blues during the almost southern rock song “Time on My Hands,” “Built for Comfort”( Willie Dixon cover), and “Lipstick Traces.”  “Queen of the Deep” seems to follow suit at first but then shifts to a dark, doomy riff reminiscent of early metal.  The solo section of this closing song again brings the virtuosity of the NWOBHM movement to mind.  The closing power metal motifs sustain the overall NWOBHM ethos.

Additionally, though less coherently elaborated than the other NWOBHM elements noted in this examination, “Space Child” and “Time on My Hands” have occasional touches of another NWOBHM staple, the power ballad.  Neither song completely fits the model for the power ballads that would proliferate throughout metal during the NWOBHM/Power/Glam era, but some elements—especially the solo section in “Space Child” and the acoustic opening of “Too Much Time on My Hands”—seem to presage the elements associated with power ballads.  They’re missing the crushing power-chord chorus (and seem more organic than the prefabricated, market-tinged format that would ultimately prevail), but they do create softer moments on a heavy album and perhaps even a skeletal outline for the future form.

Well, there you have it.  I hope I’ve given you something to think about.  Many see the boundary between classic metal and NWOBHM as a mark on a timeline, a straight line between one band like Motörhead or Judas Priest or Iron Maiden and the rest of metal history, but I believe that such a line meanders through time, with one element established early here or another late to develop there.  The evidence I’ve offered suggests that UFO’s Phenomenon is one of the curves forward in the line of metal demarcation.

Thanks so much for your fine attention.  And remember, this is not the last word; it’s only a Vinyl Analysis.

Dr. Martin Jacobsen (Dr. Metal)-Vinyl Lair

Vinyl Analysis #1


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