Scarpoint the silence we deserve

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Well have ye judg'd , well ended long debate, [ 390 ]
Synod of Gods , and like to what ye are,
Great things resolv'd ; which from the lowest deep
Will once more lift us up, in spight of Fate,
Neerer our ancient Seat ; perhaps in view
Of those bright confines, whence with neighbouring Arms [ 395 ]
And opportune excursion we may chance
Re-enter Heav'n ; or else in some milde Zone
Dwell not unvisited of Heav'ns fair Light
Secure, and at the brightning Orient beam
Purge off this gloom; the soft delicious Air, [ 400 ]
To heal the scarr of these corrosive Fires
Shall breath her balme . But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world, whom shall we find
Sufficient? who shall tempt with wandring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite Abyss [ 405 ]
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight
Upborn with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt , ere he arrive
The happy Ile; what strength, what art can then [ 410 ]
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict Senteries and Stations thick
Of Angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection, and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send, [ 415 ]
The weight of all and our last hope relies.

You also know that the committees have failed to comply with Rule 243(1)(c)(iii) of the National Assembly Rules as the cost implications of the dissolution of the DSO and the creation of the DPCI have not even begun to be addressed adequately.

So, of course, do Metallica, whose hair-raising performances in Akron are second only to Van Halen’s despite their slot right after Kingdom Come. They are still months from releasing their brilliant, pivotal mid-career manifesto …And Justice for All , but play as an impossibly well-oiled machine full of sonic spikes.

As Hetfield sings about chaos, destruction, and the consequences of inhuman behavior, drummer Lars Ulrich and bassist Jason Newsted drive Metallica like a steam locomotive with mismatched gears?jerking, stopping, lurching ahead at frenetic speeds. And Hammett simply burns non-stop over it all, whacking out chords that challenge the rhythmic bedrock and spewing leads that are fleet sketches of melody, never quite allowed to fully form thanks to the band’s breakneck aesthetic.

“For some reason we tend to inspire real fanaticism,” Hammett says backstage after the set, surrounded by his fleet of Flying Vs. “They really take us seriously. With our stuff, you either like it or hate it, but you’ll always react. What we try to do is form one solid voice locking into a groove and pushing it over the edge into everyone’s faces.

“Usually I try to fit in harmonically and melodically,” Hammett explains. “I’m not the kind of guitar player that wants to show how many notes he can cram into 12 bars. I might play something really fast, but it still has to be melodic. I mean, I can play the sweep arpeggios and hammer-ons until I turn blue, but that doesn’t fit in with what we’re about.”

During the “Monsters of Rock” tour Hetfield and Ulrich were flying out to put the finishing touches on …And Justice for All , giving Hammett time to hang with the other guitarists on the gig.

“I really dig a lot of the other players here, although maybe to most of our fans it wouldn’t seem that I would,” Hammett says. That’s very true, considering Metallica’s punk-noise-new-Brit-metal cocktail of choice at the time. But this is a guy who studies with Joe Satriani and who can’t resist running through good lessons in guitar mags.

“I prefer to use certain guitar techniques as effects rather than as important facets of my playing,” Hammett explains that day in Akron. “I use the whammy bar mostly as an effect. Many guitar players use it regularly as a passing thing, for no reason. Hammering, too. When I’m going for the wah pedal I’ll typically use a little hammering for the transition. I learned to approach things that way from listening to Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman .”

Hammett says transitioning to Metallica’s rhythmically offbeat style was a challenge when he first joined, five years earlier. “There are so many dynamics, a lot of stops and starts in the rhythm. On this new album [ …And Justice for All ] I had some of my biggest challenges with that?things like key changes that come at the same time you move into 5/8, or something like that.”

Hammett and Lynch became buddies early in the tour. Coincidentally Dokken and Metallica shared the same management company at the time, and in the Rubber Bowl they also shared a dressing room.

What’s amazing about Dokken is that during their history they never once wrote or recorded a memorable song, and yet sold millions of albums, largely due to their tireless work ethic. In the mid-’80s it seemed like they were on every metal double- or triple-bill in America.

Nonetheless, Lynch’s spotlight solo number, “Mr. Scary,” is one of the “Monsters of Rock” tour’s most arresting passages. On both nights in Akron, it is a bonfire display of guitar prowess that even drops jaws back in the cheap seats?or, more accurately, in the dirt at the rear of the area, where the fans who are already semi-comatose from sun and substances are lying by the time Dokken take the late afternoon stage.

Playing “Mr. Scary,” Lynch rips through a textbook of speed runs, tonal gymnastics, singing sustain, whammy wiggling, and general caterwaul, all hinged on a sinister riff that evolved out of jamming. “On the album [’87’s Back for the Attack ] it’s heavily layered,” Lynch says. “I just sat down and recorded guitars on top of the riff. But live, I just rely on how it feels on-stage. My fingers just go for it.”

Off-stage in Dokken’s locker room, however, I immediately manage to piss Lynch off by asking if his band is breaking up?a rumor that’s been circulating through all the other bands on the tour.

“It’s an old story, man,” he replies. “There’s no problem. We all get along as well as any other band.”

Indeed, Lynch would solider on for nearly another decade with Dokken, establishing a reputation as one of heavy rock’s most technically adept players before striking out for his own territory. But their in-fighting was notorious.

Seeming like a good time to travel on, I wander down the steel and concrete hallway to visit the Scorpions’ digs, where the largess of rocking the world like a hurricane paid off with a much more spacious suite.

There, drummer Herman Rarebell tunes up for the show with a few minutes on the Brain Machine, a little black box connected to glasses and headphones that simulates a r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g hallucinogenic experience. No devil bats with Mick Jagger’s lips, just warm colors and soothing sounds. This is the ’80s, and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign is in full swing. The Machine’s inventor, a portly, bearded gent named . Gorges, has shown up to pimp it to the rock stars whose previously savage tastes have been arguably reined in by the times.

“Sammy already has one,” Gorges boasts. “It’s completely safe and non-addictive,” he explains after my “trip.” It’s also not much fun.

During their high-energy performances in Akron, the Scorpions fly their old-school metal flag as proudly as Metallica wave the banner of the new. And they put on a great show, with Jabs and Schenker on dueling Vs and singer Klaus Meine working the stage like a mash-up of Robert Plant and Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu .

Despite the Scorpions’ place in protean metal history and the mega-hits they’d won before the Monsters tour, 1988 finds the group in an awkward place. In 1984 Love at First Sting had been yanked from Wal-Mart for its Helmut Newton cover of a greasy biker tattooing a woman’s thigh, and lyrics like “ The bitch is hungry/She needs to tell/So give her inches/And feed her well ” were giving fits to the PMRC ?the decade’s Tipper Gore-led attempt at rock and roll content policing.

Plus, more than 10 years after the birth of punk rock, critics, and hordes of cynical fans detested the un-coolness of the Scorpions concerts: the polished delivery of note-perfect hits, flamboyant costumes and lighting, aerobic stage moves often culminating in a guitar-playing human pyramid.

Detractors saw it as Vegas, baby, but to the West German band it was only rock and roll, the way they liked it?and, in 2008, still do.

“When I go to concerts, I like it when my button is pushed,” Schenker says in Akron. “When I saw Bob Dylan in Hanover it was like a graveyard. He didn’t even switch on the footlights because he didn’t want to get too much light in his face. After 20 minutes I said, ‘Okay, let’s go eat.’ ”

Meine chimes in: “We have the big lights and obviously when you have the five of us doing a pyramid onstage, you have to plan for this stuff. But we’re entertainers. We want to give people a good time.”

And as far as the PMRC and their lot go, it’s fair to say the Scorpions simply don’t give a crap. “There’s a lot of sexual energy involved in this music,” Schenker says. “This music is not played from the head. It’s played from here [ he touches his chest ] and here [ he touches his groin ].

“A lot of this has to do with our lifestyle on the road,” he continues. “Some of this stuff is pure fantasy. Some people write about fighting the dragons, and the moon and the castle. We’re from Europe and Europeans handle sexuality much more openly than here.”

The Scorpions’ best songs usually start with Rudolf Schenker and one of his vast collection of Flying Vs. When inspiration hits on the road, he’ll open his Maxwell Smart guitar case, which in ’88 contained a six-string, a Fostex four-track cassette recorder, and a headphone amp. Then he flushes out the tunes deemed studio worthy until every inflection of every solo, every rhythmic turn, every dynamic shift, is written out and ready for the big time.

“Our arrangements are well-structured, so there is not a lot of room to improvise,” he says. “I could change the leads a bit, but why should I change the melody in a song like ‘No One like You.’ Everyone wants to hear the song they way they hear it on the record.”

After the Scorpions’ set, Schenker sits back in the band’s underground cabana, chugging Gatorade, muttering, “Hot, so hot.”

Just then Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar walk in to congratulate the Scorps on their survival under brutal temperatures. Sammy’s a blur of pastels and California blond; Eddie is wearing the same pair of beach jams he’ll sport on-stage, and his beaten Kramer is dangling around his neck. Even as he speaks he is whittling away at its strings.

After a few minutes Eddie and Sammy leave and I follow the sound of Eddie’s unamplified strings trailing off down the hall. As I approach Van Halen’s dressing room, the tinkling of strings is replaced by the moans of a wounded sasquatch.

Strolling in I discovered it was just Eddie … and Sammy and Michael Anthony, plugged into three small practice amps mounted in a single road cabinet. Sammy and Eddie decide to go for it, harmonizing into feedback as their fingers skitter up their guitars’ necks, bending and pulling the same notes like Siamese twins. For “just foolin’ around,” as Eddie puts it, their level of communication is pretty astounding.

Van Halen’s concert that night is brilliant entertainment. There’s comic relief, as Anthony slips?perhaps in a pool of his own sweat?drops to his butt, and rolls to his feet without missing a bass note. There’s action, thanks to Hagar’s relentless sprinting. Also Spinal Tap excess, as Alex Van Halen’s drum kit lifts, spins, and shoots fireworks during his thunderous solo. And drama, when two pyrotechnicians rush off stage to grab a clueless security guard who’s about to walk over an explosive charge due to blow. All three narrowly escape the giant Roman candle’s fire burst and spark shower.

The musical highlight, besides great tunes like “Running with the Devil,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” and a finale of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Zep’s “Rock and Roll,” is Eddie’s solo turn. It begins with a flair of hammering, flows into delicate baroque counterpoint, becomes “Eruption,” and subsides as a fantasy for organ and harpsichord, somehow all conjured from Eddie’s fretboard.

When it’s all over, Van Halen head back to their dressing room for, well, bottled water. Eddie’s on the wagon at this point, so everybody is, in solidarity.

“It’s quite a responsibility to close the show,” Hagar says, “because of the heat factor.”

“And the nine hours,” Eddie adds. “It’s tough because the kids are so damn burnt. I always enjoy playing, but the kids are half-burnt by the time we get up there. If we get boring and start screwing around they are gonna split.”

Since Van Halen had just released OU812 before the tour, early departures are not a problem. It’s a great disc for Eddie to stretch out on. “There are lots of songs with no overdubs, and that gives you a live-er feel. Live guitar solos, so I can improvise,” Eddie says.

Live and on the album, Eddie is using mostly his fave Kramer, but his Steinberger’s also by his side. “That’s because it’s got that TransTrem thing on it, and I wrote a couple of tunes on it, so it’s the only guitar I can play ’em on,” he says. “It’s kind of funny. A few shows ago Sammy bumped it and I ended up playing a little part of ‘Summer Nights’ in the wrong key. It was kind of interesting?a little extra modulation.” He mock glares at Sammy.

“The way you use the TransTrem blows my mind,” Hagar tells Eddie. “The first time I came to your house I was so spaced out, because we were tryin’ to talk and you’re goin’, ‘Hey, hey, look at this thing.’ Trying to show me it modulated with the wiggle bar. And I’m goin’, ‘yeah, yeah, I know what a wiggle bar is,’ thinking, ‘this guy must think I’m dumb.’ But he was showing me how it changed keys, although it wasn’t plugged in so all I could hear was ‘ching, ching, ching.’

“Then Eddie plugged in and started messing around with the song ‘Get Up,’ and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell, man! That sounds like a lap steel!’ ”

Ultimately, it’s always Eddie’s guitar that does his band’s most eloquent talking. “That’s why I can go out there on-stage in Bozo-looking shorts,” Eddie says, gesturing at his, well, Bozo-looking shorts. “I don’t need anything else to be me.”

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