Amulet: Amulet (1980)


–AMULET: Amulet (Monster Records) (1980)

Ahh, 1980. Those were the times, were they not? Of course, my memories of the whole ’79/’80 time period are all too murky, but I seem to associate the
years with certain distinct images. There’s the Meadowview and Wildwood trailer parks, and the obligatory wood-paneled walls that you can shove a
determined fist through like in “Raising Arizona.” You had the Flintstones every afternoon, the plastic green turtle pools, Funny Car races on Friday night, half-eaten popsicles lying in the grass, and a bunch of screwed-up (not literally, but at least figuratively) hippies at the daycare center forcing you to chant bizarre and frightening prayers before you took a bite out your grilled cheese sandwich, and your Ritz crackers, and your Oreos, and even your friggin milk, for Gott’s sakes!

And er, um, it was a killer time for hard rock’n’roll. Not that I was aware of it at the time, but the 1970s hard rock and metal bands were the stuff, I would realize only much later. Over the last several years I have taken a special interest in the days of metal’s infancy, and the music between the years 1969 through well, the NWOBHM really, carry a special magic to me that most of the current metal scene lacks. Back then there none of the obligatory unwritten rules that dominate the metal scene and culture, and there were no subgenres and categories, just names like Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy,
Rush, Rainbow, Budgie, BOC, Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Riot, Motorhead, Bloodrock, U.F.O., Aerosmith, Van Halen and KISS, as well as quite a few little bands that were making fine original hard rock’n’roll
of their own.

 Amulet was just one such band. Hailing from Evansville, Indiana, this entertaining and original hard rock quartet entered the studio in the spring of 1980 to cut their eponymous debut LP. The platter was recorded virtually live on a $3,000 budget, but the high quality of the songs transcends the limits of the raw recording. If anything, the album, now re-released on Monster Records, sounds all the cleaner and fresher in its simplicity, a basic guitar-drums-bass-vocals combination that draws parallels with some of the
self-produced NWOBHM recordings. The band: consisting of Clif Hill, lead vocals; Paul Skelton, bass and vocals; Bob Becker, lead guitar; and John Becker, drums; immortalized nine tracks of sometimes smooth, sometimes crunchy and consistently dynamic heavy rock. This old-school power
trio usually features pulsating and powerful basslines underneath the fiery solos and jagged riffs. The guitar parts are distinctly riff-oriented, while
the rhythm section is rooted firmly in the mission of upholding the groove. Amulet weren’t the heaviest, fastest or scariest band, even for their own time, but they wrote fun and classy tunes that easily withstand the test of 29 years. I can easily visualize backyard barbecue parties here in the Midwest back in 1980, with friends and neighbors grilling burgers, drinking some brews and chowing down on corn cobs with Amulet’s music blasting on the turntable.

At times recalling the vibrancy of early Van Halen (“Just Like a Woman”), the raucous crunch of Sabbath or Budgie (“Sea of Fear”), straight-ahead and
tasty riff rock (“Person to Person”, “Gemini”) and spacey, atmospheric pseudo-balladry (“Do You Live Again”). Amulet provides a refreshing trip through metal’s past. Admittedly, the production values and blues-heavy riffing date the record at times, but all in all Amulet is a fine addition to any ’70s metal collection. I picked this disc up through Denis Gulbey of Sentinel Steel records, and if you’re interested in this era of metal, I recommend
checking out Rockadrome Records (formerly Monster Records). They’ve re-released several obscure ’70s bands such as Cain, Survivor, Winterhawk, Legend and ’80s thrashers Slauter Xstroyes. I haven’t checked out many of these bands yet, but I’m looking forward to it ASAP!

–Tracklisting: 1.) Just Like a Woman 2.) Sea of Fear 3.) Do You Live Again 4.) Kings & Queens 5.) Person to Person 6.) Funk’N’Punk 7.) Gemini 8.) Life is Living 9.) New Day

~ by jonnyboyrocker on September 28, 2009.

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