Beware the past. When you least expect it you find might yourself face to face with something like this mixtape from hell. I made it when I was a sophomore in high school for my friend Gonz. He must have been cleaning out some shoeboxes or something the other day since he found it and scanned the cover for me. He thought the “stereo” label was humorous. I thought it was funny that I ever thought Quiet Riot was any good. By the time Critical Condition came out we were calling Kevin Dubrow “Old Yeller” and I don’t think anybody I knew even bought the record. There are only so many Slade covers one can take. Plus Dubrow managed to alienate most of the group’s fan base with his insanely stupid comments in magazines like Circus and Hit Parader about most of the other big heavy metal bands from Los Angeles. It didn’t do you very much good to alienate Van Halen fans in those days.
There was just that brief window of time when Metal Health was just what a snotty fourteen year old kid needed to crank up every afternoon after enduring another long school bus ride home. If I remember correctly; Metal Health was the best selling debut of its time surpassing the first Boston album. Yes, I know Quiet Riot put out two records before Metal Health with Randy Rhoads, but those were not released in America. The Randy Rhoads connection was what compelled me to buy Metal Health before it became a huge hit. So I had to make a tape of it for Gonz since he was a metalhead like me. When the album wouldn’t fill the whole side of the tape I decided to add some Molly Hatchet to it.
Once again, school bus riding plays a part. When I was in 7th grade I rode bus 84 and its driver was a young dude into Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Steve Martin. He was always blasting music on the 8 track player, usually Hatchet’s first album. I was one of the last kids off in the afternoon and I spent many days with my face pressed against a window gazing out as “Bounty Hunter” played. I got into punk rock by my junior year of high school, but I’ve never stopped loving the Molly Hatchet album. Flirtin’ With Disaster was the hit, but it just was never as good to my ears. After throwing on the title cut from that album I still had some time left on what was sure to be the best tape ever.
Eddie was calling Gonz’s name. Did you know that his mother went to see Iron Maiden with him once? I believe it was the Powerslave tour. She didn’t go to keep an eye on Gonz. She went because she liked Iron Maiden! I slapped “Revelations” on the mixtape since it was one of my favorite songs of the time. It reminded me of early era Black Sabbbath. A few years later during our high school senior talent show a dude would ride a unicycle while the song played. We thought that was completely righteous and proper. A couple of Iron Maiden songs weren’t enough to complete the tape. Somewhere in my zit incrusted head I must have thought Billy Squier was the perfect artist to follow Iron Maiden on a tape.
I’ll stick by Don’t Say No. It was a swell slab of pop rock petroleum product with crunchy catchy songs throughout. But Emotions In Motion is one flea bitten dog of a record from the terrible Andy Warhol graphics on the outside to the listless rock music within. Hopefully Billy is making tons of dough off people sampling “The Big Beat” from his first solo album The Tale Of The Tape since ever since he appeared wearing pastels and dancing like a goof in “Rock Me Tonight” his career has been one big downhill slide.
I finished the mixtape from hell off with a pair of cuts from Aerosmith’s straight to the cut out bin classic Rock In A Hard Place – their one and only album sans Whitford and Perry. It’s much maligned, but I’ll take it over their “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” crap anytime. It has a good post drug abuse but still strung out vibe.
The mixtape from hell might not have had the best music on it. My attempts at copying the band’s logos shows just how fast I went from being somebody whose artwork was often praised (8th grade) to somebody that could barely hold a pen. I must have spent like what..five minutes on the Wally Records logo if that much. But the mixtape from hell has a pull on me with its ghostly voices from the past more powerful than the music inside. Voices that whisper of days spent daydreaming while doodling electric guitars and band logos on notebooks, wearing parachute pants and bandanas, eating Twix bars for lunch, reading Creem, of thinking I knew it all when I didn’t know a thing, and wishing I was a singer in a rock and roll band. Finally, lest we forget, home taping is killing the recording industry and high school always seems like hell until you get out