Updated: Feb 3
By Jay Broderick - 1988... 35 years ago! On January 19 of that year, I had not yet turned 17 years old. A skinny, gangly 125 lbs (as long as I had on my 5 lb leather jacket and 3 lb shit kickers). Hell, my hair probably weighed at least a pound. I was taking a fairly drastic direction in my musical interests, as I graduated from your "beginner" type hard rock/heavy metal (like AC/DC and Van Halen) to the deep dark world of thrash metal. Metallica and Slayer were becoming the be all and end all, but a close 3rd was Metallica cast off Dave Mustaine's Megadeth. On this same day, Megadeth released their 3rd album, So Far, So Good... So What!
Megadeth was founded by ex-Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine, and the 3rd release saw a new lineup behind the frontman. Bassist David Ellefson remained firmly entrenched, but this crew included new member Jeff Young on guitar and Chuck Behler as the new drummer. This would soon become a common occurrence for Mustaine as the band would eventually see a number of different lineup changes.
After having first discovered Megadeth from their second offering Peace Sells, but Who's Buying, I headed out to Scarborough's Star Records on Eglinton Avenue (this record store would become a stalwart where I would eventually spend a lot of time and money, discovering new metal bands) to grab my copy of this new record. I hurriedly rushed home, into my bedroom and carefully placed the black disc onto my YORX stereo system turntable.
An electric guitar strumming starts to come through the speakers. It's a little soft, but it sounds ok. At the 18 second mark, another guitar, the bass, and the drums join the fray, and the volume increases as a result. 36 seconds in, and we get a guitar lead as the tempo starts to kick up another notch. AHHHH! Here we go... we are now officially "Into the Lungs of Hell". This leadoff track is completely instrumental. The crescendo hits at around the 3:00 point, and fades out.
The start of the second track greets us with a sample from the Ink Spots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire", and then the squeal of a bomb falling to it's intended target, and heavy metal electric guitar at its explosion! "Set the World Afire" continues the assault that we witnessed in the opening track, and Mustaine's signature vocals tells us about the end of the world.
A cover of the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK" comes 3rd and the last track on this side is entitled "Mary Jane" (no real need to explain what this one is about), and I am elated! Excitedly, I turn the record over... and here we go again.
Side 2 starts off with a song called "502" about driving too fast, and getting busted for a DUI. Then the best track on the album "In My Darkest Hour" hits me with its heavy emotion and groove. The song is about the trials and tribulations of being left alone at your weakest moments. We've all been there. While the piece is a lot more somber than the rest of the album, the tempo picks up at about the halfway point and the lyrics start to get angrier. The music video happens to be one of my favourite videos of all time as well. We get treated to some interview footage with the 2 Dave's, and some behind the scenes, recording studio clips. And of course, we get full blown concert mayhem with mosh-pits and flying stage divers. CLASSIC!!!
"Liar" and "Hook in Mouth" close out the 8 track (not 8-track) recording, and the album is a complete winner. While it's not as good as the previous release, the aforementioned Peace Sells, But Who's Buying, and definitely not as good as the one that came after it (check that story out here), this is an album I'll keep at the forefront of my memory bank. You see, it was the tour to support this album that I first saw Megadeth, and it was my first real "METAL" concert.
The Concert that Changed my World
Back in the day, Toronto was home to one of my favourite concert halls ever, the aptly named "The Concert Hall" on Yonge Street. I eventually saw a lot of concerts here, but it was this Megadeth Tour that kicked off my love for the genre's concert scene.
It was a Monday... April 18th, 1988 to be exact. After school, my new metalhead buddies and I (I had started a new high school the previous September), headed downtown to line up for the general admission concert that was featuring Megadeth, in support of their new album So Far, So Good... So What, with special guest Warlock and Sanctuary. As luck would have it, we were first in line and we'd get right up to the stage. Our heroes would be right there in front of us! Where our plan failed however, was that it was like 4:00 in the afternoon, and the doors weren't going to open for another 2 hours at least.
Once the doors finally opened, we rushed to the stage. FRONT ROW!!!! I was completely gassed, as this was the first show of this genre I had ever attended. To this point, I had seen a number of shows at larger venues like Maple Leaf Gardens and Exhibition Stadium, but nothing of this size. Small and intimate. AND, it was a thrash metal show.
Unfortunately, things were going to go south real fast. Once the lights went out, the crowd rushed forwards, and my skinny, 125 lb self was crushed against the waist high barricade between the crowd and the stage. And I wasn't the only one. We all did what we could do to not go down and get trampled to death. I was shitting myself and I thought I was done for. I watched a few dudes to my right grab onto the stage to keep themselves upright. At this, security (who were stationed between the crowd and the stage, inside the barricade) yelled at them to get their hands off the stage. One of the guys yelled back "We can't! We're going to fall". As if in slow motion, I watch the security guard pull out a flashlight that must have been 18 inches long. He proceeded to smash the baton against the guy's forearms, and he immediately let go of the stage. I could not believe it. We were all going to die!!! And this was only the opening act. About 2 minutes into their set...
Needless to say, I did not want to perish on this night. I knew I had to escape this death trap before things got even crazier, so I worked my way out of the mess, and stood off to the side for the rest of the show. And despite being scared for my life, quite literally, I bloody well LOVED the experience, and I was hooked! Weird, right?
Megadeth's 3rd album is not a masterpiece, but there are some great tracks here. And the album takes me back to a time where I escaped death, and fell in love with a genre who's concerts were (and continue to be) full of electricity and energy. I just choose to watch from further back.