When it comes to Heavy Rock, there are some things that should be a given: there will be riffs, there will be more riffs, and there will lightning and thunder.
Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Blue Cheer, and Deep Purple are the ones responsible for laying down the law of heavy rock in the first place, so it makes sense that modern heavy rock will take up the most from them. You can see this at work in stoner rock, where the riffs are abundant and the fuzz is monstrous.
Yet there’s always been something bugging me about heavy rock and stoner rock, as well as their bumfuck-close cousin, southern rock— it’s absolutely infested with the blues. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, obviously, but I say that it bugs me only because I noticed something a tad odd when listening to classic Sabbath.
Listen to the likes of Fairies Wear Boots, Sabbra Cadabra, and Wicked World again. You can hear it in Warning, Behind The Wall of Sleep, Electric Funeral, and The Wizard (ADD moment: it’s a total coincidence I used the songs whose names directly inspired later stoner/doom bands).
When we discuss the classic heavy rock and proto-metal bands of the ’60s and ’70s, blues rock is the predominant style, thanks to the British Blues Boom. Fusing blues rock with psychedelia and acid rock is what gave us heavy metal in the first place (ADD moment: remix the amounts and add garage rock, and you get punk rock as well!). Yet when I listen to old Sabbath, I feel like I’m listening to an electric swing band, not a blues one. When I realized that, I realized what it was that separated Sabbath from the pack as well as why so many pennywise stoner, southern, and heavy rock bands fail to capture the Sabbath sound beyond a certain point— they achieved Sabbath’s blues-roots in spades, but they forgot the jazz aspect.
So that begs the question: are there any heavy/stoner/retro rock bands that adopted swing and jazz into their sound?
Truth be told, there probably are a few, but I haven’t found too many. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely hear some swingin’ rock and roll peppered throughout various catalogs, and it’s one of those songs I wish to discuss today.
Radio Moscow is a band that’s been on my radar for years now, and I’ve enjoyed just about all of their output. Yet when it comes to my favorite albums of theirs, I can never go with anything except The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz. It brought all of the psychedelic blues I crave in my life, but I was surprised to come across so many high-energy, wild, and chaotic tracks that called back more to the likes of freejazz and even progressive rock if they had also merged with the burgeoning metal scene.
The premier song being the one I’m discussing here— I Don’t Need Nobody.
When listening to this particular track, I feel I’m listening to a much more psychedelic Black Sabbath circa 1970. And that’s something that really surprised me— the last time I felt I was listening to a modern retread of Sabbath was when I discovered Electric Wizard in 2010, and that was for my introduction into stoner/doom as a whole.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard a heavy-psyche band play with bluesy jazz, but it’s my particular favorite. That feeling of hearing a band finally press every single note was magical, and I think more should take a cue from Radio Moscow for it.