ANVIL - The Good, Bad And The Ugly; A History Lesson From LIPS Part I

May 24, 2013, a year ago

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As detailed in their much-praised documentary, ANVIL! The Story Of Anvil, the legendary Canadian metallers have dealt with the highs n' lows, the agony of defeat, the ecstasy of adulation or just simply, the good, the band and the ugly. While the band may never see the fame and fortune of say a Clint Eastwood, who made the phrase famous in 1966 with one of Sergio Leone's famed epic Spaghetti westerns, Anvil have certainly been firing with any ammo they've had since their early beginnings in 1978. Of course everyone points to Metal On Metal and Forged In Fire as the pinnacle, and they are far from good those albums … they are damn near heavy metal perfection! And with the highs came lows and sadly, things worse: the ugly. But of course, all learning experiences over time.
Anvil frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow has managed to keep his body, mind and soul somewhat together for the band's 35+ years of pounding metal and he's graciously been able to put the journey (album-by-album) into a few words for BraveWords. He's certainly brave … and these are his words:
Hard And Heavy (1981 / Attic) Good: "After three years of slugging it out in the clubs making a name for ourselves as an original band we recorded our first album. It was extremely well received and our first gig upon it's release was with MOTÖRHEAD in our home town of Toronto. We also did a Canadian tour with GIRLSCHOOL." Bad: "Being before the onset of so called heavy metal, it was still a very newly named music that had to catch on in the USA. We got little if any exposure which was a bad thing." Ugly: "The lightman we had for years quit, got married and drove transport trucks for the rest of his life!!"
Metal On Metal (1982 / Attic) Good: "We had a huge response in the UK for our first album and the label brought in an English record producer followed by bringing writers from the magazine Kerrang! to Toronto to experience the band live upon the release of Metal On Metal. This in turn brought so much attention the band was asked to play Monsters Of Rock in the UK. Along with this show the band was set for a tour with DEF LEPPARD which never happened as Def Leppard got tied up into a long recording process that overlapped the schedule. Anvil played the famous Marquee club for two nights at which time we met Sacha Gervasi, who 25 years later created Anvil! The Story of Anvil documentary." Bad: "The behavior during after show parties in the change rooms." Ugly: "The state we left our change rooms in after the party!!!"
Forged In Fire (1983 / Attic) Good: "We created a truly ground breaking album which was followed by a complete UK tour with Motörhead as well as an appearance on the UK's Reading Festival as well as special guests to BLACK SABBATH at the Dalymount Festival in Ireland and a surprise quest at Heavy Sounds Festival in Brugge. We also managed to do our own tour in Japan. We raised enough interest and buzz on the band to attract very influential management and interest in the USA." Bad: "Our label couldn't secure a proper distribution deal in the USA. The management we attracted was not knowledgeable in the new genre of heavy metal and didn't really understand the nature of the music and fans. They couldn't bridge us to a better record deal than what we currently had which didn't distribute in the USA." Ugly: "As a result of the bad management and distribution, the management got rid of the existing Canadian record label and didn't replace it. We were now without label support, and a manager who basically had better things to do than find Anvil a new recording contract. We then took things into our own hands and self  produced a new album."
Strength of Steel (1987 / Metal Blade) Good: "We finally got our shit together and recorded the best songs we had written during the most difficult business transitions in our career up until that point. We did our first video for the song 'Mad Dog' which brought a lot of attention in the USA to the point the band did it's first tours in the USA." Bad: "It was confusing times and the genre had taken two very distinct directions. Radio-oriented rock and a dark underground that had no compromise. This was the beginnings of the fragmentation of the heavy metal genre. We got snagged in this quagmire by not wearing the clothing people expected in the back picture of the album." Ugly: "The face of my Bulldog in the Mad Dog video...so ugly yet beautiful!!!"
Pound for Pound (1988 / Metal Blade) Good: "We became disheartened with the results of the last album and decided to focus on a heavier edge and in doing so we created our first Canadian themed song 'Blood On The Ice' about hockey fights. We had a recording contract which was a good thing and we were still available domestically in the USA.  " Bad: "This was Dave Allison's last studio recording with Anvil." Ugly: "I had marital problems…." All this commentary leads us to Anvil's unstoppable new album, Hope In Hell, which was recently reviewed by BraveWords' "Metal" Tim Henderson here.

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