REVIEW: Metallica – “Mama Said” (1996 7″ picture disc single)

Part One of a two-part “Mama Said” review

METALLICA – “Mama Said” (1996 Vertigo picture disc 7″ single)

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.

3/5 stars

Part Two tomorrow.

39 comments

  1. “I can admit that my first Metallica album was Load.”

    My first was Justice. Then I went backwards. Thought the Black Album was mediocre, but ahead of its time given the protests.

    Load is where it got really bad to me. James’ started to sound like a parody of himself with all the “yeahs” and yodel singing. I like “The Outlaw Torn” though. Different strokes.

    I’m honestly just surprised you didn’t hop on the Metallica train sonner being the music buff you are and seeing as how massive The Black Album became.

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      1. I was thinking more along the lines of the songs being widely heard enough to reach your ears and good enough to rope you in, rather than you being a trend chaser.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That was a joke. I just find the concept of waiting until bands are disrespected to get into them funny.

          If you were a real trooper you would have waited until St. Anger. Then no one would have questioned your fan hood.

          Your first Shyamalan film should have been The Last Airbender too.

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  2. I think the only time I listened to Load was in my buddy’s car one day when we were record store hopping. Neither of us liked it that much, I remember throwing on Pure by Godflesh after it, Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and then Don’t Break the Oath by Mercyful Fate.

    I still do a mean King Diamond impression. Tell Uncle Meattwiller to talk Mercyful Fate with me, it’s that time of year. I’ve got a really amusing anecdote about that record store trip, but I’m gonna keep it out of the comment section. It’s only worthy of being heard by a select few.

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  3. “Mama Said” is my favorite track from ‘Load’ because it’s so different from what they normally do. What I love about bands like Metallica and few others, is that they weren’t afraid to do their own thing and were never influenced by other people to go in a different direction. So if someone were to play “Mama Said” to a non-Metallica fan, I’m sure they’d be shook because it was unexpected. Jason Newsted will always be remembered by true Metallica fans and his backing vocals will never be forgotten!

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    1. Jason was a real strength to that band. His backing vocals, five string bass, etc. Really enjoyed what he brought to the band. Was very sad when he quit. And it didn’t really seem to be a good band situation anymore.

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      1. I enjoyed what Jason brought as well. I feel like when he left, that’s when the band hit an all time low, if it weren’t for Lars though, Metallica would’ve been done years ago. I read not many people appreciate Lars for what does for the band, which is sad.

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        1. I think a lot of that is residual hate from Napster, 20 years ago. I wrote about this.

          https://mikeladano.com/2012/08/03/part-87-the-great-change/

          “Wow, this is a great Metallica collection you have here,” I commented as I went through the discs.

          “Thanks. I’m selling them because of that fucking asshole Lars. I ripped them all to my computer and now he can go fuck himself.”

          I don’t have a problem with him. He’s not the greatest drummer in the world but he doesn’t have to be either.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Oh yeah I forgot about the napster, I was thinking of those mean comments about how he’s not a good drummer. But yeah that napster situation screwed him big time, but you can’t blame a guy for wanting to protect his music!

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        3. He’s a better drummer than me! I don’t think h e is a bad drummer but I do think he’s sloppy. But that’s part of the Metallica style. If he was different, people would say it’s stiff and doesn’t sound like Metallica. I’m listening to Creeping Death right now, and while you can’t call Lars’ drum work complicated, it sure is DAMN fun to air-drum along to! He has a groove.

          I was on Lars’ side regarding Napster. I worked at a record store, it was my livlihood at stake. And downloading really hurt us. Lars was right.

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        4. I agree with you on Metallica’s style, I don’t think thrash metal is supposed to be clean and spot on anyways. Either way, people are always going to express their opinions good or bad. I love “Creeping Death,” so yeah!

          I haven’t done much research on the Napster thing, but I can where you and Lars are coming from. Even now the record stores are hurting due to streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify.

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        1. Get Kill ‘Em All! It’s ferocious, I love the raw power of that one. They get more laid back and compositional in the next three, which are all classic. I can take or leave pretty much everything after Justice. Not to be one of “those” fans, well, actually, to be one of those fans. Black Album is okay, but I’d probably be fine if I never heard it again.

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    1. James’ country side finally started coming out. Load’s a great album. It’s a great ROCK album. Bleeding Me is wild. I got the full length version of Outlaw Torn on another single. Had to be cut to fit on the CD.

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  4. I had to read that first sentence a few times, lol. I’m kind of surprised considering how big of a force they were. I really didn’t start listening to them until the Black Album, then worked my way back. I never could get into the Loads though. I’ve tried a few times but something feels off about those albums. For ’90s Metallica, Garage Inc is more my speed.

    As for vinyl not able to capture this song, it might be just the quality of the recording itself. Who knows which master they used? I just listened to Johnny Cash with his acoustic on vinyl and it was phenomenal. Sometimes the issue isn’t with the format itself. Sometimes its a garbage in, garbage out.

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    1. I think it’s the format rather than the master. Just basing that on my knowledge of picture discs being able to deliver less fidelity. It could be any reason but that’s my guess.

      I have some truly awful Queen picture discs that I have not played in decades, those will be interesting.

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  5. I think it’s known that I am somewhat of a Load-lover (there must be a better way of phrasing that…) and this single (and your thoughts) pretty much sum up what I love about Metallica: doing what they want. The calls of “sell out” are ironic given that, to me the very definition of selling out is repeating a successful formula for the express purpose of repeating success. Load showed that metallica didn’t give a shit about writing Puppets 2 or The Black Album 2, they wrote what they felt. Was it what people wanted? Perhaps not but at least they (the band) were being honest.

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    1. One thing that I loved about Load, coming in 96, was “this is exactly the kind of music I want to hear right now when there isn’t any good music like this anymore.” It had heavy, it had soft, it had variety, and wicked playing.

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