By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
ACCEPT – ACCEPT (1979)
While the stated time span of this series is the 80’s and ’90s, you’ll note that this article on the self-titled debut album from Accept dates to 1979. So it falls just outside of the parameters, but since the cassette edition I have appears to be a bargain basement reissue from 1986 (there’s even a “special bargain price” stamped onto the cover art), I’m fine with this slight exception.
Now, it should be noted from the top that I’m a huge fan of the band. Three of their last four albums have ended up as my top album of the year they were released, and the fourth one came in at #2.
But in the interest of full disclosure, my Accept fandom didn’t start until the first time I heard the “Balls To The Wall” song. Given that came off the album of the same name, the band was on their fifth release before I was even aware of their existence.
Unlike a lot of bands that I “discover”, I have never really gone back to Accept’s earliest days to explore where they came from musically to where they are now. Until now that is.
The band’s first album has been less than charitably described by both singer Udo Dirkschneider and Wolf Hoffman. The common refrain seems to be that while it gave the band the ability to further their career, the songs weren’t really all that focused in one direction and the production was less than ideal.
I can see what they mean but at the same time, there are some rather interesting songs on the album. The first thing you notice at the start of the release is that the band has more of a straight up rock and roll sound as opposed to the more metallic nature fans have come to know in the last three plus decades.
The first two songs, “Lady Lou” and “Tired Of Me”, are both quickly paced numbers. Both songs are good enough in their own right I suppose but truthfully they don’t really seem to have much staying power. It was actually track three, “Seawinds”, that struck me as the first strong track on the album. It’s a ballad but I found it rather a cool sounding track. It’s not like Accept has never done a ballad before and they do tend to have some good ones. For me, I’d add “Seawinds” to that list.
But never fear metal fans, because the rock and roll sound soon starts to give way to a heavier, more metal sound with “Take Him In My Heart”. The vocal performance on the song might strike you a bit odd at first because it seems totally out of character with what you might know of Udo’s vocal style but in the end this is just a very interesting song. And the scream from Udo at the end is a prime metal howl. As for the last song on the first side of the album, “Sounds Of War” really kicks in with a more metallic overtone as it races from start to finish.
Side two really has something going for it as the songwriting gets faster, heavier and far more aggressive. “Free Me Now” and “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” are straight up metal songs and if I could still headbang like a madman, that’s what I would’ve been doing.
I wasn’t crazy about the song “Glad To Be Alone”. It’s a plodding slog of a track at the start and while it does get faster as the song progresses, if I was to pick one song that best defines the band’s dissatisfaction with the album, it would be this one. It’s just a momentum killer for me.
Thankfully, the last two songs are once again fast paced and give an electrical charge to the ears and hearts of metal fans. “Helldriver” and “Street Fighter” are simple straight forward rockers with attitude to spare.
It’s funny to think that I liked this album better than the people who created it. But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then music must be in the ears of the listener. For me, Accept is where the nascent band first started showing signs of the future that was to come for them. The production may be raw and the songwriting may be less focused than what the band would’ve liked as they look back on it. However, for me this was one heck of an entertaining look at the very earliest days of one of my favorite bands.
NOTES OF INTEREST: Frank Friedrich played drums on Accept but according to Wikipedia, he decided against a career as a professional musician. Stefan Kaufmann was hired as his replacement before the album was released.
Bassist Peter Baltes sang lead on “Seawinds” and “Sounds Of War”.