Monday, October 25, 2010
Quartz - Stand Up and Fight
Back in high school, Brett and I were brothers in arms. Rock and roll arms that is. A tad more seasoned than I was, Brett burst my musical cherry by taking me to my first big-time rock concert; AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult, and Boston. Or was it Journey headlining? Hell, with all the acrid smoke wafting in and around my virginal nostrils that day, I’ll never remember.
But I do know that Brett also introduced me to the endless hours of joy that became known as the bargain bin dig, and opened up my ears to crazy new sounds in metal, like UFO. Influential in my life, hell yeah! It’s safe to say that The Ripple Effect would not exist in many ways, if not for Brett. A while back I wrote of “big brother” Danny shaping my musical childhood, well Brett was responsible for my much louder heavy metal adolescence.
And with a brother like that in the late seventies to early eighties, you better believe we launched headlong into the NWOBHM and launched hard. Seemed like we were on a quest to constantly outdo each other, being the first to turn the other guy onto a new band. For every Tygers of Pan Tang, Girl School, Bitches Sin, Praying Mantis and Witchfynde that Brett found, I pulled out an Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon, Vardis, and Motorhead. He popped out an AIIZ and I whipped out an Angelwitch. Wild Horses, Raven . . it didn’t matter. We were there.
Then how in the hell did we miss Quartz?
Perhaps it was because Quartz were just a bit ahead of our time, their debut album being recorded in 1976 and 1977. But that shouldn’t of mattered. This rambunctious platter I now hold in my hot and steamy hands, Metal Mind's just released reissue of Quartz’s second album, Stand Up and Fight, was originally put out in 1980. That was our time. And further, Quartz were originally championed by Tony Iommi and his management group. He produced their first album and Quartz Geoff Nicholls left the band to join Black Sabbath in 1979. And we were definitely huge Sabbath fans. So how this record escaped the attention of two pimply-faced, metal mad teenage boys with a ’66 Mustang remains a mystery never to be solved.
But thank God it’s been rectified, because Stand Up and Fight is one helluva blitzkrieg of riff-mad NWOBHM. A molten cauldron of screaming guitar licks, trodding bass lines and bone-shattering drums. An album chock-full of one pounding primal metal fest after another. An album not to be missed.
Mike Taylor was a singer for the ages, with a voice gruff enough to stand out against all the fey pretty boys of the day, but still sweet enough to scale the heights and bring the passion to the songs. The closest similarity I can find to his voice is Daryl Braithwaite from the latter Aussie band, The Sherbs; but that reference is probably too obscure, so let’s go with a husky Geddy Lee with a case of laryngitis. Guitarist Mick Hopkins could shred and rip with the best of them, laying down wailing solos or tearing through grinding gears of riffs. And the rhythm section of Malcom Cope and Derek Arnold were steadfast in their dedication to rock.
And boy, could they rock. Ignoring the sole misstep of “Can’t Say No To You,” a timid American-aimed rocker that sounds suspiciously like Foreigner's “Feels Like the First Time,” the rest of the album and the one extra bonus track “Circles” are the true essence of the NWOBHM.
I’m not going to go into each track here, because I’m gonna run out of adjectives way to soon. There’s just no way to sum up the raging riff drag race of “Charlie Snow" and it’s cocaine reference. It’s impossible to describe the bullish metal assault of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Child,” or the angry power wrapped up in powerchords and wailing solos of “Revenge.” I don’t have the words to lay down how I feel about the mad rockers, “Wildfire,” “Circles,” or “Stoking Up the Fires of Hell.” Let’s just simply say that Stand Up and Fight is simply . . . simply fantastic. Raw and primitive, riff-mad metal. An album that absolutely shouldn’t be missed.
Brett, brother, have I got one for you!
Buy here: Stand Up & Fight