MARTIN POPOFF – Riff Raff: The Top 250 Heavy Metal Songs Of The '70s
January 22, 2019, a month ago
(Power Chord Press)
This one is just an absolute blast for folks like myself who love thinking about metal's history, established metal journalist Martin Popoff exploring the results of a survey he conducted wherein he asked longhairs what the best metal songs of the '70s were; like his incredible 2003 book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs Of All Time, Popoff then takes the results and counts them down, giving his brief thoughts on each one and throwing in a quote from someone from the band in question, usually about the song in question, which is a nice touch. I wish that Popoff's blurbs on each song were longer, as his thoughts are always erudite and written in a wildly entertaining manner; seriously, it's crazy how much I've learned from Popoff over the years, and how much I continue to learn through books like this.
Love the choice of pictures, too; although the live shots are often way too teeny, the rare sleeves are a nice touch. But I'm here for the results of this poll (some predictable, some not, pretty cool mix overall, no spoilers here) and Popoff's musings on the songs, which are informed and fun to read: Popoff drops some doozies in here, such as casually mentioning that Uriah Heep may be the greatest band that ever lived (let's just assume he had one too many tall cool ones before tapping off that particular preposterous postulation), as well as stepping up his always fun wordplay; this one reads like he really had a blast writing it, which he hopefully did, and should have, as it's a great idea delivered with a superb execution. I've read a lot of Popoff's books over the years, and this is one of my favourites, the man taking our hands and guiding us through a whole lot of songs that we either need to revisit or—gasp—hear for the first time ASAP, explaining their place in metal's history along the way. And right there is why this book is important, Popoff getting down to the nitty gritty details—riffs, song structure, production—as to why these songs matter in the history of this music we all love so much.