As part of our new series of playlist/book pairings on our 33 1/3 Spotify account, we asked David Masciotra, author of the recent 33 1/3 on Metallica’s Black Album, to make a playlist for the book.
Here’s the tracklist, along with some explanations from David on some of the songs he chose!
1. Seek and Destroy, Metallica
2. For Whom The Bell Tolls, Metallica
When Metallica decided that their music had grown too complex and progressive, and that they had traveled too far out of the garage, they reached into their own back catalogue, and found inspiration, in the songs Seek and Destroy and For Whom The Bell Tolls. The energy, intensity, but also hard rock accessibility of these songs would inform and influence the combination of aggression and what, Kirk Hammett calls, “soul groove,” on The Black Album.
3. All Right Now, Free
4. Smoke On The Water, Deep Purple
5. Loud Love, Soundgarden
6. Enter Sandman, Metallica
Kirk Hammett wrote the immortal juggernaut riff of sexual rhythm and sinister rage for Enter Sandman at two in the morning. He recalls experimenting with how to combine the “wraparound riffs” of All Right Now and Smoke On The Water with the “heaviness of Soundgarden’s record Louder Than Love. The result of Hammett’s rock ‘n’ roll laboratory is an intoxicating tonic of musical chemistry.
7. Kashmir, Led Zeppelin
8. Sad But True, Metallica
Bob Rock, producer of The Black Album, was originally reticent to work with Metallica, as he confessed to not being a “huge fan.” The crushing weight of Metallica’s metal collapsed on top of Rock’s doubts when he first heard a demo of Sad But True. He called it a new, modernized, harder and heavier Kashmir.
9. Rats In The Cellar, Aerosmith
10. Damage Case, Motorhead
11. Holier Than Thou, Metallica
James Hetfield grew up with a poster of Aerosmith in his bedroom, and it was at an Aerosmith concert that Metallica convened to discuss their approach for the writing and recording of The Black Album. In addition to Aerosmith, no band is as influential on Metallica as the patron saints of metal debauchery, Motorhead. Holier Than Thou, seems to combine both influences. It has what resembles an Aerosmith riff, if only that riff sniffed eight lines of cocaine, and it has the mean, take no prisoners spirit of Motorheard.
12. The Unforgiven
13. For Those About to Rock, AC/DC
14. Wherever I May Roam, Metallica
Lars Ulrich spent the entire summer of The Black Album sessions obsessively studying, beat by beat, the drumming technique of AC/DC’s Phil Rudd. There is no superior at keeping a low down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll beat. The swagger and thunder are equally audible on For Those About to Rock, and the Metallica classic, Wherever I May Roam.
15. Through The Never, Metallica
16. Wicked Game, Chris Isaak
17. Nothing Else Matters, Metallica
In preparation for the recording of Nothing Else Matters, James Hetfield surprised Bob Rock by claiming that he wanted to capture some of the sensual quality of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game in his vocal performance. The unlikely pair of brooding love songs work surprisingly well set side by side. Hetfield pulls of the performance, giving the song an enormous heart, at once tender and tough.
18. Crossfire, Stevie Ray Vaughan
19. Of Wolf and Man, Metallica
Another surprise influence on The Black Album is the late blues master, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Kirk Hammett explains that when spending all day writing and recording heavy metal, the last genre of music he wants to consume at home, during off hours, is heavy metal. For an escape, he let Stevie Ray Vaughan take him to the land of the blues. The bluesy quality of the guitar solo on Of Wolf and Man is a direct result, according to Hammett, of his appreciation for Stevie Ray Vaughan.
20. I Wanna Be Sedated, The Ramones
21. God, John Lennon
22. The God That Failed, Metallica
For The Black Album, James Hetfield decided to turn his acidic tongue, and observational precision, introspectively toward his own soul. Instead of issuing abstract political indictments or telling complicated narratives of characters caught in tumult and turmoil, Hetfield decided to directly communicate his emotions and ideas. For inspiration, he listened to his favorite punk rock bands, including The Ramones. Bob Rock suggested he also listen to John Lennon. The God That Failed, an enraged and sad song about his mother’s death, is one of Hetfield’s best and most personal lyrics, and one of Metallica’s greatest songs.
23. My Friend of Misery
24. The Struggle Within
– David Masciotra