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 – RESTLESS AND WILD (1983)
When it comes to opinions about German metallers Accept and their music, it does seem to be that a lot of the time, people kind of just start with their best known song “Balls To The Wall” (from the album of the same name). The stuff that comes before tends to be at least a little bit forgotten for some reason.
It is a considerably strange notion considering how many songs the band came up with prior the “Balls To The Wall” track that are still thought of as classic tracks to this day. I’d written about the band’s self-titled debut album in a previous article in this series. However, I thought it might be time to get around to writing a little bit about one of the other Accept albums I have in the Big Box of Cassettes.
Released in the US in 1983, the Restless and Wild album is the immediate predecessor to the Balls To The Wall album. It wastes little time in blowing the doors off your expectations with the song “Fast As A Shark”. Considered one of the earliest and best examples of “speed metal”, this bull in a china shop kind of song continually throttles the listener with an intensely relentless pace.
The title track is another classic track for the band. In fact, the first four songs (including “Ahead of the Pack” and “Shake Your Heads”) are all some of the band’s finest early work. It is songs like these that make a deep dive into the band’s discography a great treasure hunt for any metal fan. As I was listening anew to “Shake Your Heads”, I was struck by the slight similarity in the lyrics to Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”. Not the exact lyrics per se but the similarity in the celebration of fan reaction to metal music in general. Given that both songs were released in 1983, it just struck me as a great potentially unrealized coincidence.
But for me, the band kind of lost the plot a little bit after those first four songs. While there is a bit more artistic depth in the songwriting to “Neon Nights” (not a cover of the Black Sabbath song), it just was kind of mediocre to me. When you flip the cassette over to Side Two, that sense of the mediocre continues with “Get Ready”. “Demon’s Night” and “Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away” are decent enough rockers but I don’t think they’d be spotlighted as amongst the best the band has to offer.
I had listened to the CD version of the album back in the middle of 2019 and thought “Flash Rockin’ Man” was a little bit of a mis-step too. But when I listened to the album for this article, I actually found myself enjoying it more than I did in the past. There’s a driving sense of urgency to the music that made the song a bit more catchy to my ears this time around.
The album closes with “Princess Of The Dawn”. The song has a kind of claustrophic feel to it. The song is one of the better known songs from the album. I like it, as it definitely highlights the band’s increased songwriting craft. But the thoroughly abrupt way the track ends will leave you wondering what the hell they were thinking. It doesn’t feel like the track had reached its natural endpoint but rather someone had shut off the recording machines at the most inopportune of times.
I’ve long considered myself an Accept fan. However, like a lot of people I first became aware of them because of the “Balls To The Wall” song. In my defense though, I didn’t just stop there. That song served as the catalyst for me as I’ve done many a deep dive into the band’s entire catalog. I own most of their albums and there are so many gems to check out. I was actually going through my music collection a few weeks back and I spent most of a day pulling out all the Accept material I own and found myself with a sense of renewal as I went through the albums in chronological order.
Accept has earned their place in metal history and while I found at least a couple of tracks on Restless and Wild to be decidedly problematic for my tastes, you can bet your ass that when you listen to this album, you will come to understand just how important the album is in the evolution of the band’s career.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The Restless and Wild album has two different covers. The version that was originally released in Europe in 1982 has a photo of two guitars on fire. When the album was released in the US and UK in 1983, that album art had been replaced by a live shot of the band. I own the band shot on cassette and I have a CD version of the album that features the guitars aflame.
The guitar work on the album has a bit of a story to it. Accept had hired guitarist Jan Koemmet before they recorded Restless and Wild. However, his tenure with the band was very short and he didn’t play a note on the album. The album’s liner notes list Herman Frank as part of the lineup, but while he was the replacement for Koemmet, he didn’t actually play on the album either. Instead, Wolf Hoffman was responsible for all the guitar tracks.
In 2018, I saw Udo Dirkscheider (under the band name ‘Dirkschneider’) performing a full set of Accept songs with his U.D.O. band. They played “Princess Of The Dawn” and “Fast As A Shark” from the Restless And Wild album during the set.