Attila “Attila” … a 1970 Billy Joel Metal Album!

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#768 in the Series) is Attila, Attila

Close the door. Make sure you lock it too, and then turn your speakers up to 10. Attila is an underrated masterpiece. Consisting of Billy Joel on organ, Jon Small on drums, this album has remained long out of print since its release in 1970. It still has not gotten a proper reissue. Some people love it, some people don’t. Billy Joel himself has called it “Psychedelic bullshit.”

I am one of those people who enjoys this album, and it just might be one of the most underrated albums in progressive rock history, simply because not a lot of people know it. But, if you want to spend 40 minutes of your personal time listening to it, that is your choice. Me? I would.

The album starts off with a strange but catchy track titled “Wonder Woman”. The striking bass lines are very important in this song especially, because it helps with the tone. Billy’s voice is very loud in this song, and he practically screams on this song. He does on many others too, but this is definitely one of the most apparent versions. This song seems to have some sort of love story to it, and I’m not kidding either. The lyrics seem kind interesting:

“Wonder woman, you have got me in a spin! / Jesus Christ, I can’t believe the shape I’m in!”

If it’s me, the lyrics speak for themselves.

After the energetic vibes of “Wonder Woman”, a somewhat jolly sounding song entitled “California Flash” enters your ears. Once again, very mediocre lyrics. But this time, it has a very interesting feel to it, especially during the organ solos themselves. But once again, Attila has not put us to shame. After the organ solos, more mediocre lyrics, including a reference to “cops” and “hash”. Funny, huh? Anyway, the song ends with one of those classic epic buildups. The kind you wouldn’t expect.

The next track is no doubt the most violent on the album. “Revenge is Sweet” tells a story of somebody who was put down; and in the end, proves them wrong. The story succeeds by a long shot. With the wah-wah effect on Billy’s Hammond organ, it makes it sound even more lively. Somehow, it is one of the most interesting tracks on the album. It has solid bass lines, beefy riffs, and above all, the fancy drums sure help a lot. The most interesting lyric in the song is by far, very disturbing in some way:

People laughed at me, and said I’d never win / Now I turn around and kick your faces in. KICK YOUR FACES IN!!!”

Not only does Billy’s voice help the violent tone of this song, the overall sound does. Hearing so many riffs in your direction can sometimes be frustrating, but at the end, Billy totally murders it with one of the best organ solos I’ve heard. Period.

After “Revenge is Sweet”, drums. Drums, drums, and more drums. Then, the organ comes in. What other but “Amplifier Fire”? Split into two parts, the first one being “Godzilla”, is the jazziest song on the record, an instrumental. Well, what do you expect? It sure proves to be the most exhilarating track. There are so many strange noises coming out of that organ. It’s pretty fascinating. Then some reverb enters, turning into “March of the Huns,” the second part of “Amplifier Fire.” The beat is the same, and there is not much to the song itself. But I will tell you one thing: it sure changes you after listening. The creepy chant made by Billy gets scarier every time I give the song a listen. This part of “Amplifier” sure sends chills down your spine. Such a short, but creepy song. That’s what I love about this track, jazzy to creepy. Gets better every time.

After side 1, once again, drums and organ fade in. Then a riff hits you like a silver bullet. “Rollin’ Home” is indeed sexual, but the lyrics also give you a different pulse. Somehow, this song makes my heart beat faster, and I just start tapping my foot by the time the short but sweet organ solo comes in. But the thing that makes this song is the siren-like sound that comes out of the organ. It’s full of power, like a bloody knife. It hits you so fast, and sure leaves a mark.

Meanwhile, the next track is a huge buildup. A few slow verses, then “Tear This Castle Down” is flying. I think the best part is the short buildups, and the funny feeling of Billy Joel’s voice switching back and forth from your left to your right ears. But, the slow verses take up most of the song. They are still fascinating, and use a punch, but they are not as pulsating as “Rollin’ Home” or “Godzilla” from “Amplifier Fire.”

After tearing the castle down, one of the heaviest tracks on the record, “Holy Moses”, comes pouring in. With the first few lyrics, you know it’s good:

Standing in the pouring rain / Waiting for the midnight train.”

The wah-wah, once again, is a huge factor in this song. But the bass lines, also controlled by Billy, leave such an after effect, especially in “Holy Moses.” I think that without the bass lines, it would be like a burger with less beef. Still a bit there, but barely. The bass lines give it a big kick. Sort of like, BAM, and they hit you, kind of like small bombs.

The last track is the best. “Brain Invasion” could have been one of the main themes in an 80’s Atari game. Could have gone well with Pac-Man as well. What I’m trying to say is, everything you could possibly want is in this song. Riffs to die for, and killer drums. The drums are so indescribably GOOD especially in this song. They give the instrumental life. And they give it plenty of kickass too.

So, I would recommend this album. The album itself? Metal masterpiece. If you can get your hands on a copy, buy it right away. It is definitely worth the money. I don’t think progressive metal could get any heavier than this. So, one day, just sit down, turn this on, and let your mind be blown.

Nick Oriold

Track listing

All Songs Written By Billy Joel & Jon Small.

Side One

  1. Wonder Woman (3:38)
  2. California Flash (3:32)
  3. Revenge Is Sweet (4:00)
  4. Amplifier Fire (Part I: Godzilla/Part II: March Of The Huns) (7:39)
Side Two
  1. Rollin’ Home (4:52)
  2. Tear This Castle Down (5:49)
  3. Holy Moses (4:30)
  4. Brain Invasion (5:41)

Personnel

  • Billy Joel: vocals, keyboards
  • Jon Small: drums

Related Links

Here it is. all of it too! 

Posted by Larry Carta


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