While Metallica continue beavering away on new material, the remastering of their 1982 demo No Life ‘Til Leather – a special offer for Record Store Day on April 18th – has prompted some intriguing reflections this week as the band re-familiarise themselves with their earliest material. As Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone, the remaster had to maintain the rough-and-ready vibe of the 33-year-old cassette. “It has the same innocence – and, I guess, borderline ignorance – of four kids barely out of puberty, rockin’ along, doing their thing. It just sounds so fucking innocent and so instinctive. When we’re writing new songs James Hetfield will play like 34 ways a song could be better. No Life ’Til Leather sounds so effortless, like it was put together in an afternoon – which it was. As a 51-year-old you sit there and go, ‘What the fuck do I have to drink to get that back?’”
An expanded edition of the seven-track demo – first in a series of archive remasters via Metallica’s own label, Blackened Recordings – will follow the Record Store Day release. Its full contents remain a tantalising mystery, but it seems there’s plenty of unheard formative Metalli-jams ripe for plunder. Lars is currently “sifting through a lot of goodies that are laying around in cardboard boxes and tape vaults… Yesterday I found another tape and there was some crazy stuff on the B-Side that I didn’t even know existed,” enthuses the drummer. “It’s all coming.”
Another reason to be cheerful is Motörhead’s 22nd album, which will be out this autumn, marking 40 years since the formation of the legendary three-piece; the second Motörboat cruise festival will also set sail in September. Great news, you’d think, but not according to those scientific party-poopers the World Health Organisation. WHO claimed this week that 28 seconds at a rock concert could damage a punter’s hearing, and that “limiting the use of personal audio devices to less than one hour a day would do much to reduce noise exposure.” Less than one hour a day sounds so stringent as to be impossible – and the temptation is to snort “Fuck WHO I won’t do what you tell me” while cranking up Motörhead – but there are some cautionary statistics on the subject. The WHO (an appealingly ironic acronym to be warning about the dangers of concert volume) estimate that 43 million people between the age of 12 and 35 are living with hearing loss related to unsafe listening habits, and that “90 per cent of young people have experienced ringing in the ears – an early sign of damage – at least once.” The organisation’s Make Listening Safe brochure also rather improbably recommends gig-goers take “listening breaks” while watching bands (maybe tie it in with a piss).
The good news is, at least you can now potentially expose yourself to serious hearing damage knowing there was greater transparency in the ticketing system. The Competition and Marketing Authority have stepped into the debate over secondary ticket sales, following the failure of an attempt last month to change existing laws. The CMA reports that resellers have now agreed to list original prices, state whether views are restricted, explain whether multiple bookings refer to seats beside each other, give full details of additional charges and a contact email address where help can be requested. Mike Weatherley MP of the Put Fans First campaign told TeamRock: “This new legislation is a step in the right direction – but falls short of what I would like to have seen implemented. The free market system has broken down as banks of computers facilitate, on occasions, obscene profiteering for intermediaries against the interest of fans, and the wishes of those putting on the event. I encourage every reader to engage with their local MP to ensure their views are heard as part of the much needed review.”
One metalhead engaging with politicians is Tony Iommi, who has written to Indonesia’s famously metal-loving President Joko Widodo pleading for the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australian men sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug smuggling. “They are reformed men, who are making a positive difference to the lives of their fellow prisoners,” Iommi asserts. “That they have been transformed so much is a real credit to the lndonesian authorities. For this reason, I would ask that you stop the execution of Andrew and Myuran. Please allow them to serve out life sentences where they contribute to the wellbeing of lndonesia and make good for the error of their previous ways.”