mercyful fate - melissa

Mercyful Fate: Melissa (1983)

Day 4 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for multiple records with the same cover theme and uh…I don’t want to shock you but skulls are pretty prominent on heavy metal records. I know! Who would have guessed? I eventually stopped after “S” because I already had over a dozen examples to show off. But if I could only review one for today, it would have to be one of the most iconic metal records of all time, featuring one of the most distinctive vocalists of all time. Let us now make secret confessions about Melissa, the debut album by the one, the only, Mercyful Fate

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fugazi - 7 songs

Fugazi: Fugazi/7 Songs (1988)

Confession time. Up until a few weeks ago I never owned any Fugazi on vinyl. Plenty of Ian McKaye – Minor Threat, Embrace, Teen Idles…even his latest band Coriky. Like everyone else my age I certainly had heard the band – I even had for the longest time 13 Songs and Repeater +3 Songs taped on a blank cassette thanks to friends in college who made sure I was aware. But as I got older I branched into other things, and Fugazi was always readily available…a download away. Once Dischord moved to Bandcamp I quickly snatched up digital copies of the albums, but vinyl still eluded me. But it’s never too late (except for certain albums that are INSANELY overpriced and currently out of print) so over the last few weeks I hunted down what I could and we’re starting at the very beginning, with the self-titled debut EP, or as it’s known in some parts 7 Songs.

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empire - expensive sound

Empire: Expensive Sound (1981)

Taking a break from the classic rock discoveries thanks to Sea of Tranquility and moving to another massive source of music discovery: Henry Rollins – specifically his role as DJ at KCRW (which you can stream to your heart’s content here) and the collection of books detailing his playlists and the inspiration behind. It was his radio show that got me into the first two Generation X albums, and without his championing I never would have come across Empire, the band formed when guitarist Bob Andrews and drummer Mark Laff over a desire to move in a different musical direction than the more commercial punk/pop Billy Idol craved. The result may have only been one album, but 1981’s Expensive Sound is a great hidden gem in the post-punk/rock and pop world.

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fates warning - awaken the guardian

Fates Warning: Awaken the Guardian (1986)

Day 19 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for the album it took the longest to find. This is for those treasure seekers, and I admit I haven’t reached that level of addict yet. It may also be that the stuff I’m looking for is readily available for the most part, and I’m not that picky when it comes to original or first pressings. So instead let’s talk about the album it took the longest to get to me: Awaken the Guardian, the progressive heavy metal masterpiece from Fates Warning. As one of the earliest vinyl records I ever bought as a 13 year old kid, it was one of the first I wanted to replace when I started collecting again.

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ozzy - diary of a madman

Ozzy Osbourne: Diary of a Madman (1981)

It’s Dealer’s Choice for Day 15 of the #mayvinylchallenge, so I clicked “Random” on my Discogs collection and lo and behold: the second solo album from Ozzy Osbourne. It’s easy to understand how Diary of a Madman gets lost in the shuffle of early Ozzy when just a few months earlier Blizzard of Ozz hit us with massive classics like “Crazy Train,” “I Don’t Know,” “Goodbye to Romance” and the stellar “Suicide Solution.” What I find fascinating about Dairy though is how in a few short months to tone already began to change: the songs are darker, heavier, and less commerce minded. Overall it makes for a sinister and great listen.

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Egg Hunt

Egg Hunt: 2 Songs (1986)

Day 7 of the #mayvinylchallenge is, appropriately, a celebration of the 7″ – that glorious short format that nevertheless I don’t collect much of. Most of what I have comes from the Dischord label, which for decades has been the home of some of the best independent heavy music ever crated, from the blistering hardcore of Minor Threat to the post hardcore experimentation of Fugazi to the rebellious spirit of the Evens, the Warmers, and most recently Coriky. I picked those examples for a reason – they all feature Dischord founder and punk hero Ian MacKaye. For today’s entry I wanted to focus on a lesser known release from him and the label: the brief but infinitely punchy Egg Hunt and their 2 Songs 7″.

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