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Jaguar - Power Games album review

The E-Type of the NWOBHM

Cover art for Jaguar - Power Games album

Jaguar may not be one of the most revered of bands from the second wave of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, but the truth is they were extremely influential.

Signed to the legendary Neat Records, like labelmates Raven, these Bristolian big cats played fast and loose, and unwittingly helped create the genres we know today as thrash and speed metal. Play this, their 1982 debut album, back-to-back with Metallica’s No Life ’Til Leather demo (also from ’82) and you can barely see the join.

As this very scribe said of Jaguar back in the day, the guitar turns over like a bulldozer with sooty spark plugs, the rhythm section pulses out an 18-pint hangover throb, the singer opens his lungs and bawls like a foghorn, and the end result is, not surprisingly, one helluva noise.

Power Games has three key ingredients: earthiness, enthusiasm and naïveté. Tracks such as Master Game, Coldheart and, particularly, Axe Crazy are fond reminders of the days when heavy metal was pretenceless, square-shooting and bloody good fun.

Oh, and a special mention for opening track Dutch Connection, a tribute Jaguar’s early-career popularity in Holland. ‘I really fell for you and your wooden shoes,’ bellows vocalist Paul Merrell. It fair brings a tear to the eye.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.