Part One of a two-part “Mama Said” review
I can admit that my first Metallica album was Load. I concede that they were more Rocktallica than Metallica on that album, but the fact of the matter is that for the genre, Rocktallica was good! A lot of hard rock and heavy metal albums in the mid-90s were not good. Metallica introduced themselves to me with an album that was what I wanted, when I wanted it. “Mama Said” was the third single from Load, a an acoustic ballad, and with an exclusive live B-side on the vinyl that wasn’t on the CD singles (to be reviewed next).
The 7″ single contains the album version, not the shorter single edit. James Hetfield wasn’t afraid of getting personal in his lyrics anymore, and “Mama Said” is about his late mother. It’s audible that he is getting something deeply important off his chest. The music is notable for its distinct country twang. Trash Metallica all you like, but this sounds great. The thing about Metallica is that they usually (not always) do whatever it is they set out to do, and do it well.
That said, a 7″ picture disc is not the best way to hear Metallica play an acoustic ballad. It can’t deliver the clarity and dynamics that a CD can. The B-side, “Ain’t My Bitch” recorded live in California on August 4 1996, is a louder song and can get away with the format a little better.
James gets the crowd to shout “We don’t give a shit!” a couple times before they break into the song. “Ain’t My Bitch” remains a fun little blast precisely about not giving a shit. “Outta my way, outta my day!” It might not be “Creeping Death” you can’t deny it’s fun to just bang along. “Mama Said” might have been James dealing with deep shit, but “Ain’t My Bitch” says “just forget it and let go”. Kirk Hammett’s solo on this one is mega fun, and it’s always a bonus to get Jason’s Newsted’s backing growls. An underappreciated ex-Metallica member.
Including the tracks released over the two additional CD singles, “Ain’t My Bitch” is the seventh of seven total B-sides to “Mama Said”. All the live ones are from the same show in Irvine Meadows. If you gotta get ’em all, then “Mama Said” you need this picture single too! Shame about the audio quality.
Part Two tomorrow.