After a little bit of a break, I’m back with a new edition of Something Old, Something New Album Review. I had an idea for Episode 9, but it kinda coincided with a special album release, so I had to wait a bit. In this edition I’m doing something different. This review is gonna be Something Old AND Something New, but the same album. This year marks 30 years since the release of one of the most important, popular, and best albums of all time. A bit of a controversial pick for some, but a landmark album none the less, Metallica’s “Metallica”, more commonly known as The Black Album.
At this point, while it was very hard for them to admit, they realized they needed help. Flemming Rassmussen, the producer on their previous albums was really nothing more than an engineer. He had no say in tones, song writing, nothing. The band knew they needed an actual Producer. Enter Bob Rock. The sonics he was able to achieve on Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” and The Cults “Sonic Temple” were what they were after. Big guitars, huge drums, bottom end. Bob Rock was also a musician, so he could weigh-in on their songs. Bob Rock went and saw the band live, and thought that what they sounded like live had never been caught on record, and he thought he could do it. There is a video that documents their time together in the studio recording the album called “A Year And A Half In The Life Of Metallica” and it is very clear, very quickly, that the band had an extremely hard time giving up control. So much so, that by the time the album was mixed and mastered, the band and Bob Rock hated each other. Once both parties realized what they had achieved, they got over it and became collaborators for the next decade plus and friends to this day.
I made a statement earlier that this album is the most popular album of the last 30 years. And statistically, it is. it was released in 1991, which was also the first year the RIAA started using Soundscan to tabulate album sales. They now had the technology so that when you scanned a barcode, they knew, and they could figure out the EXACT number of albums sold. Before that, it was kinda sketchy. Sales numbers came from a combination of stores and distributors giving labels a round about number. Numbers got inflated, there were lies, payola, all of it. The timing of this album is perfect. Metallica’s Black album, a heavy metal record, is the BEST SELLING album since 1991 in the US (where most of the worlds albums are bought) at nearly 17 million copies sold. That’s over a million more than the second place album, Shania Twains “Come On Over”, a million and a half more than Alanis Morrisette’s “Jagged Little Pill” and nearly 4 million more than The Beatles greatest hits record “1”. To me, that’s astonishing. Yes, Metallica’s record is insanely well produced. One of the best of all time. If you listen to it on a good stereo system, the separation and definition of instruments is incredible, but the fact is, it’s still a heavy metal record. Those records it’s ahead of in comparison are much, much, much more commercial sounding. Quite frankly it’s a testament to how brilliant the album is, and if you haven’t listened to it in a while, or ever, check it out with fresh ears.
As far as the Deluxe Box goes, our Something New, this is the fifth box they’ve done, one for each of their first 5 full length records. I own 3 of them and each one is magnificent. They are so well done and so packed with stuff that even if you have the album, if you’re a big fan, they’re worth it to get. The box contains 6 Records (the actual remastered album split into 2 180g vinyl records, A Picture Disc of the Sad But True single, an EP of live material from Wembly Stadium On April 20th, 1992 which was their set at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, and their famous live set from Moscow at Tushino Airfield on September 28th, 1991), 14 CD’s (the actual remastered album on CD as well as demo’s, interviews and a bunch of live material), 6 DVD’s (Studio outtakes, behind the scenes of the Music Video’s, the actual music video’s, and a bunch more live stuff), a beautiful hardcover book, replica backstage laminates, replica’s of James’s handwritten lyrics, a lanyard, and replica prints of Magazine covers they were on, all in a beautiful box. If you’re a casual fan, the new remastered version of the album is also available on LP, CD, Cassette and download on their own. But if you’re a Metallica superfan, the box is a must have, and a fitting tribute to one of the greatest albums of all time.