REVIEW: Metallica – “One” (Japanese 5 track single)

It’s the end of the Week of Singles 3!  Since it’s Friday I have to leave you with something a little more special.  If you missed any of this week’s singles or EPs, click below!

METALLICA – “One” (1989 Sony Japan 5 track single)

While there is no doubt that this single is indeed rare, when T-Rev and I shared an apartment together in the late 90’s, we both owned a copy.  We figured we must have had the only living room in the country with two Japanese copies of the “One” single by Metallica.  I believe both of us acquired our copies via the record store.  (Unfortunately, neither of us had the obi strip.)

Along with the full 7 1/2 minute version of “One”, this single presents Metallica’s excellent cover of Budgie’s “Breadfan”.  Metallica’s take, which emphasizes the heavy parts, is awesome.  It was “Breadfan” that inspired me to check out Budgie, and then discover yet another one of my favourite bands.  “Breadfan” was always a monster; Metallica simply turned it up.  It is a song that they were born to cover anyway.  The unusual thing is that “Breadfan” is one of Budgie’s most notably bass-heavy tracks (from a bass-heavy band anyway), but Metallica’s cover comes from Metallica’s least bass-y period.  I’m sure Newsted must be digging in deep to play those Burke Shelley bass rolls, but you can’t hear him clearly enough.

Next are two live bonus tracks:  “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” from Dallas, Texas, February 5 1989.  (The 7″ and 12″ singles contained different live tracks:  “Seek & Destroy” and “Creeping Death” respectively.)  I think this period of live Metallica is among their best.  Hetfield’s voice had filled out to max out on the menacing scale.  Newsted was an able replacement for the late Cliff Burton, and I enjoyed his backing growls on “Sanitarium”.

Last and rarest is the original demo version of “One”.  It was recorded to four-track tape:  drums, James’ guitar, vocals, Kirk’s guitar.  That’s right – because it’s only four tracks, there’s no bass!  (Insert jokes about the …And Justice For All album right here: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .)  This demo was recorded in November 1987, and unlike many Metallica demos, this one has lyrics.  “One” was a fully-formed song in the demo stage, with only a couple parts unfinished.  It’s remarkable and I’m sure Metallica had no idea in 1987 that what they were writing was going to become a rock classic.  As confident as they probably were, I’m sure nobody in Metallica said, “In 25 years we’ll be playing this at the Grammy awards.”  Yet it’s all there; 95% of the very song that would be played at the 2014 Grammys, with Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

This is a great little treasure and I’m sure “one” day (stinky pun) I’ll add the 7″ and 12″ singles to my collection to get the other two live tracks.

5/5 stars ONE_0003


  1. This is a cool artifact Mike. Once again never knew this existed but than again I never hunted around for this stuff like yourself so my loss but all these yrs later it’s cool to read about these.
    One demo is a cool add on….still remember all the hoopla when Metallica was the lone holdout on rock vids until One….people were just losing there shit over these guys……
    Still remember seeing em July of 88 on the American Monsters Of Rock playing before VH & Scorps and thinking there is Nuthin stopping these guys ,I’m not the only one who was thinking that ….but man they were well on there way to the top …….


    1. Thanks buddy! I remember that MOR tour very well from MuchMusic’s coverage. They never came to Canada. The one band on that bill that stuck out like a sore thumb was Dokken.


      1. Yep,Dokken and Kingdome Come……did I ever tell ya the Metallica medley they played that night in tribute to the bands that were on the bill?
        Dokken was fractured ….Don & George would not even look at each other,which was brutal cuz a few months earlier Don was on Rockline and he said the band was getting along better than ever..hahahaha…..bullshit….my buddy I was with said this is there farewell tour(he called it)… I didn’t believe him I said they been doing this ways for yrs….


  2. Definitely a treasure! Worthy of its placement as the singles week headlining Friday post – that 4-track demo sounds especially interesting.
    I always wonder that as well with songs that end up becoming anthems – when Freddie was showing the lads the vision for Bohemian Rhapsody, did they have any idea it would resonate with generation after generation?


    1. Thanks Geoff!

      I think, in 99% of cases, bands have no idea. Queen probably thought, “This song is so far out there, this could be the end of it all.” I think unless you’re Bono or Katy Perry, you don’t sit in the studio thinking, “This is going to be a hit for the ages.”


  3. This One is One of the coolest Ones you own. I’m so glad you made this One post to tell everyOne all about this One. Lebrain is number One!

    (didja catch that One?)


  4. Nice review and yet another goodie.

    I think Metallica are a wonder covers band – I picked up a vinyl copy of Garage Inc last week, I’ve wanted it for years and just waited until I could find one at a sensible price.


        1. Yeah those 5 disc sets are audiophile sets I think…45 rpm LPs? I would like to get one…just one…I believe they have released Kill Em All in that format. I would like that one.


        2. I’ve got those 45rpm sets for KEA, Ride, Master and Justice. They’re all just 2 Lps though except for Justice which is 4. I think the latter albums like the Black and Load etc… were 4 too but I drew the line at those! They do sound amazing. And the Justice set is gorgeous.


        3. I would actually buy Load on a 4 LP set. I have a special fondness for that album. I call it Rocktallica. In the sense of the collaboration with Bob Rock, and the sense that it wasn’t metal, it was rock.

          But I haven’t had the balls to write my review :)


        4. I have a lot to say about Load…perhaps when I do eventually get there, you shall see a little bit of what I see in it.

          For me, I thought it was 14 good songs. It was Reload that I didn’t like.


        5. I like some songs… The longer ones on Load were the best. But even some of the best songs are merely ok. I don’t own them at all anymore. Between it and Reload there was probably a decent album in there. Do you like Ronnie? I think it’s one of the worst songs ever written! It’s appalling.


        6. Haha I know. And it would only really be for that song. I don’t think Load is bad. Just average. I just didn’t have much use for it myself. I liked enough of it to see the appeal even if it wasn’t for me.


        7. One thing I loved about Load that not everybody can appreciate: It was completely store playable. It was the only Metallica album that was. I listened to it every day in the summer of 96.


        8. That’s a good point. I wouldn’t have thought about that aspect of it. I did listen to it a lot when it came out but I guess I sickened myself! I didn’t think it held up to repeated listens. It’d maybe be interesting to go back to it after all this time though.


        9. Last year some time.

          I have to admit that although I used to listen to Metallica all the time, I’ve gotten a bit tired. Even the classic stuff.


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