15 May 2006

Goddamn Electric

For whatever reason, VH1 has ressurected their Behind the Music franchise, and it's about fucking time. I watched the all-new Ratt and Pantera episodes. The episodes showcased two bands that ostensibly play the same genre of music but were in actuality at opposite poles of the metal spectrum.

The one on Ratt was amusing in a pathetic sort of way, because Ratt has always been a pathetic sort of band: no real substance, just a nonstop babes ‘n’ booze party train (although I do own a copy of their greatest hits CD – I’m not made of stone). They were no worse than any of their contemporaries, but they weren’t any better, either. I thought it was horribly disingenuous to present the interview segments with former guitarist Robbin Crosby without indicating that he, like, died in 2002 – a factual tidbit they saved until the very end of the episode. Also, singer Stephen Pearcy looks like hell.

The one on Pantera had more meat, so to speak, and it rightly opened with the murder of guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott. The show presented Phil Anselmo as the root cause of Pantera’s eventual dissolution, which I don’t think is entirely accurate, but it’s a moot point now. Anselmo is an interesting character. He says he’s clean and sober these days but he looked awfully doped up during his interview segments. I wouldn’t want to ride in an elevator with him, but he is easily one of the most intense performers in metal; a truly scary dude. And Down, his offshoot collaboration with Pepper Keenan of COC (one of many Anselmo side projects), is awesome.

I always had mixed feelings about Pantera. I was working at a record store shortly after they broke big. Practically all of the people who bought Vulgar Display of Power were what you’d expect: ignorant, redneck assholes who thought Black Flag were a bunch of fags, yet couldn’t see the similarities between the two bands. On the rare occasions when I would play Pantera through the store’s PA – mainly to irritate customers or fellow employees – I discovered that despite their white trash audience, I didn’t hate Pantera's music, which was brutally simple and direct. It’s not all that different from a lot of hardcore, only it’s played at a slower tempo.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, I got an advance of The Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboys' Vulgar Hits disc and I favorably reviewed it in LEO. If I can dig it up and I’m not embarrassed by it I’ll post it here for completeness’s sake.

I hope VH1 airs more episodes of Behind the Music. I suggest doing shows on Cheap Trick and the Cars, for starters.

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