Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Run-DMC - "Rock Box"

F*ck it, cards on the table, this off my chest: "Rock Box" is the greatest heavy metal song ever recorded.

First heard these guys on Chicago radio during the two years in the mid-eighties when my folks lived in Illinois and I'd visit them on college breaks. Mom was in the store grabbing a couple of things, I was out in the car and started channel surfing. I came across two guys rapping-near-yelling while metal guitar wailed on. I had read in a recent issue of  Rock & Roll Confidential that there was a rap-metal group called Run-DMC and figured "how many rap-metal outfits can there be?" Back in Grand Forks, I found myself in the Columbia Mall record store buying Run-DMC's King of Rock and Jason and the Scorchers Lost and Found, what with the purchase of Purple Rain the summer before having led to my permanent removal from the "I prefer music by long-established acts, many are likely British, and some may be dead" ranks.

Soon I would backtrack and get Run-DMC's debut, where they first came up with their groundbreaking (and there is no way of overstating this) sound. Drum machine, synthed chimes, heavy metal riffs, and Hendrix-like leads on guitar. It's like they took the controlled chaos of the early Funkadelic albums or those few seconds of "Beat It" where Eddie Van Halen totally shreds and constructed a whole universe around it.

In two years they would follow the natural progression that "Rock Box", then "King of Rock" suggested, brilliantly cover "Walk This Way," and rehabilitate Aerosmith completely. Their formula was so unique it has never been topped. Rap. Metal. Rap-metal. Boom. I'll listen to Run-DMC on a loop to my death before I get into old fogey songwriter music by the likes of John Hiatt or Elvis Costello.