By Adam Waldman
Yesterday, on Hard Rock Music Time Machine, we journeyed back 25 years to 1991. Today, we journey back to that same year for a nostalgic look at one of the few compilation albums that became a staple of my music collection. The album Heavy Metal Love is ripe with power ballads, hard rock love songs and an incredible cover song by Judas Priest, brought to another level by Metal God, Rob Halford.
It’s amazing how things change over the course of 25 years. What was once a CD that cost around $10 at a record store, has now become a rare commodity that can be purchased online for $55. Of course, only true collectors would pay that amount for a CD full of songs that you can easily create as a playlist for free on YouTube, but I digress.
Heavy Metal Love has a lot of sentimental meaning for me because it was, for all intents and purposes, the soundtrack of the summer of 1991. I didn’t know it at the time, but the songs that I listened to with my girlfriend back then is now an album that is filled with nostalgia for the same girl who eventually became my wife and mother to my children.
The album opens with two classic ballads inspired by women [“Beth” (Kiss) and “Carrie” (Europe)] before transitioning into some very powerful collaborations. If ever there was a singer who could capture the emotion of a power ballad, it is the legendary Joe Lynn Turner. On “Dreaming (Tell Me)” the emotion of JLT’s vocals are beautifully complemented by Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar solos. The same can be said of a lesser-known, but equally powerful song, “Love Kills,” a collaboration between Mark Slaughter and Vinnie Vincent (Kiss).
Stryper’s “First Love” is a quintessential power ballad that showcases the immense vocal range of Michael Sweet. April Wine’s “Just Between You And Me” is one of those songs where the guitar riff sets the emotional tone as much as the lyrics and vocals. The song has the interesting distinction of being both well-known and underrated at the same time.
The album shifts into ‘80s hard rock mode for the last three songs: the title track by Helix, “Lady Red Light” (Great White) and “Edge Of A Broken Heart” by female rockers, Vixen.
All of the songs have meaning to me, particularly when they are listened to as a collection, but the one that stands out the most is Judas Priest’s cover of “Diamonds & Rust.” The song was written (and originally recorded) by Joan Baez, who is known as much for her social activism as she is for her music. Those with an appreciation for music history will find Baez’s original a worthwhile listen, but the Judas Priest interpretation is the one that resonates with me most. It’s the brilliance of the storytelling, combined with Halford’s passion and the NYC-centered lyrics that make this an all-time personal favorite.
Whenever I hear any of these songs, I put them in the context of Heavy Metal Love, and enjoy the nostalgia of the moment. 25 years goes by much faster than we expect, but when you look back upon them as fondly as I do because of the one constant force in my life, I can’t help but appreciate the deeper meaning that music has to me, and the significant role that it plays in shaping memories.