#942: My Brushes With Metallica

RECORD STORE TALES #942: My Brushes With Metallica

I don’t mind admitting that my first Metallica was Load.  Yeah, I was one of them.  Hate on if you gotta.

Like many my age, the first exposure came in 1988 via their first music video:  “One”.  To say the visuals were disturbing would be accurate.  Although I did enjoy the song, I didn’t feel the need to hit “record” on my VCR when it come on.  Other kids at school sure liked it, and copies of Johnny Got His Gun were claimed to have been read by some of them.  I figured I could continue to live without Metallica.

The Black album was released in 1991.  I was watching live when Lars Ulrich called in to the Pepsi Power Hour to debut the new music video for “Enter Sandman”.  The new, streamlined and uber-produced Metallica looked and sounded good to me.  I loved when James said “BOOM!” and thought that hooking up with Bob Rock had worked out brilliantly.  The sonics were outstanding.  While I enjoyed the singles Metallica released through the next couple years, I never took a dive and bought the album.  Why?

Three main reasons.  The key one was that I knew, even before I knew I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that I would feel compelled to collect all the Metallica singles that I had missed over the years.  That was, as yet, a bridge too far.  Second reason was that I satisfied my craving for that style of Metallica in 1992 when Testament came out with The Ritual.  It had a track like “Sandman” called “Electric Crown”.  It had a song like “Sad But True” called “So Many Lies”.  It was perfect for my needs.  Thirdly, for whatever reason I didn’t think I was going to enjoy “old” Metallica, which again, I would feel compelled to collect.

When I started working at the Record Store in 1994, I had the night shifts alone.  I could play whatever I wanted and sometimes I gave Metallica a spin.  I can remember “Enter Sandman” coming on while I was cleaning, and saying to a customer, “Man I love this song!”  He nodded awkwardly and wondered why I was telling him.

A bit later I was hanging out with this guy Chris.  He was extolling the virtues of thrash metal, and put on Kill ‘Em All.  I was astonished when “Blitzkrieg” came on.  “I know this song!  I love this song!”  I exclaimed as I jumped up.  Air guitar in hand, I started bangin’ to the riff.  “This is a song by Blitzkrieg,” I explained to Chris.  “It’s on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal CD that Lars Ulrich produced.  I didn’t know he covered it.”

This is the point at which I like to say I became a Metallica fan.  Collecting the older stuff was still daunting, and a lot of it was expensive because it was out of print.  Which is really why it took Load for me to finally buy a Metallica CD.

1996 was a glorious but so stressing summer!  I was managing my own Record Store for the first time.  The weather was gorgeous.  The stock we had was incredible.  The stress came from staff, which turned over faster than a dog begging for belly rubs!  There was “Sally” who was caught paying herself excessive amounts of cash for the used CDs she was selling to the store.  There was The Boy Who Killed Pink Floyd who came to work hungover and worse.  And, most trying of all, music sucked for people like me who missed the great rock of the 70s and 80s.

On June 4, Metallica released Load to great anticipation.  Their new short-haired look (a Lars and Kirk innovation) turned heads and it was said that Metallica had abandoned metal and gone alternative.  Of course this was stretching the truth a tad.  Metallica had certainly abandoned thrash metal on Load, and arguably earlier.  Alternative?  Only in appearance (particularly Kirk Hammett with eye makeup and new labret piercing).

Load was the kind of rock I liked.  The kind of rock I missed through the recent alterna-years.  I had been buying Oasis CDs just to get some kind of new rock in my ears.  Finally here comes Metallica, with the exact kind of music that I liked, and at the exact time I needed it.

And yes, I did immediately start collecting the rarities and back catalogue.  Garage Days and Kill ‘Em All (with “Blitzkrieg” and “Am I Evil?”) were both out of print at that time.  I snapped up the first copies I could get my hands on, when they came in used inventory.  We were selling them for $25 each, no discount.  I later found a copy of a “Sad But True” single featuring the coveted “So What” at Encore Records for $20.  The new Load singles were added to my collection upon release.  The truth is, I picked the best possible time to get into Metallica collecting:  when I was managing my own used CD store!  I soon had the “Creeping Death” / “Jump In the Fire” CD.  A Japanese import “One” CD single only cemented what a lucky bastard I was to be working there.

Because Metallica came to me relatively later in life, today they never provoke the kind of golden memories that Kiss or Iron Maiden do.  However the summer of ’96 was defined by Metallica.  Driving the car, buddy T-Rev next to me, playing drums on his lap.  His hands and thighs got sore from playing car-drums so hard.  Load was our album of the summer and it sounded brilliant in the car.  Hate if you hafta, but that’s the way it went down for this guy in the dreary 90s.



  1. Fair enough dude and a lot of the times age can play in as well. Metallica put out Masters of Puppets in 86. I was 19 that year, so right there its about timing. Load has some good stuff on it as does ReLoad.
    Had no idea you collected things until now! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I like to surprise people! LOL

      My buddy Bob was supposed to see Metallica with Ozzy in Alberta back in 86, and although I can’t find any info about it, it was probably cancelled due to James’ arm break.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah and Maiden’s catalogue has only gotten more and more expensive to collect over the years. They could do a singles box set again but they don’t seem to have much interest in it. I asked Rod Smallwood if they would consider it about 15 years ago, and he said “been there done that”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No shame in this. Love Ritual! I got Metallica late too. Here everyone was all over Master of Puppets. I gave it a try but was not ready for them at the time. Wanted my music with more melody back then. Saw the live on Justice tour. All I remember was a friend passing out in toilet and missing the whole show. By the time Enter Sandman came I though they were too commercial. Go figure. These days I’m kinda nostalgic about them but don’t think I ever really took them on. I chose Megadeth from the get go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Man those were dire days if you were buying Oasis to hear rock lol. My first Metallica was the black album, and I was the jazz kid! Of course I’d heard them everywhere in high school, knew Master Of Puppets and One and Creeping Death and all the rest, I hung out with a guy who was a huge fan, but I never bought any until then (never had to, I guess). I never felt the need to collect singles, the albums were enough.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Are you pulling my leg about Lars? I can’t tell.

        Yeah all that stuff like Metallica, Maiden, Priest, Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue, even Danger Danger, he had all that stuff and was always playing it when I was over, so I never had to buy it. I did buy Extreme III because of him, though, that album really compelled me back then.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nope Lars was THE Oasis fan in the 90s. He wouldn’t stop talking about them, in between chews of his gum.

          Extreme III is so awesome! A crime that a deluxe CD with the full track listing has never been released. To get all the songs in one place, cassette is the only way.


        2. You know, that explains a lot more about why I really don’t like that guy lol.

          There’s more to Extreme III? It’s time to start a campaign to get them to update past cassette! Maybe Kevin could kick something? Am I doing this right?

          Liked by 1 person

        3. HAHAH Kick it Kevin!

          Yes there is one missing song, “Don’t Leave Me Alone” which closes side two, but it is only on the cassette (and some CD singles). I made a complete digital version but there needs to be a 2 CD edition stat!

          Regarding Lars — he bugged me in Some Kind of Monster. And other things too. I wouldn’t want to work with him.


        4. If it’s only one song, I can’t see it being a priority. Damn. It was a long album anyway, makes sense they left it off.

          I wouldn’t likely last ten minutes in a room with Lars before wanting to punch him (I’m guessing).

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Me too! I think I read that on your site that there’s an extra song on cd single so I had to get that one and make my own digital version.

    Found my Extreme t-shirt from a backbag I had with me on a festival they played a way back. Washed it and been wearing it a lot. That ever happen to u? Found stuff that u had forgotten you had stored in strange places.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear u. I have a closet filled with band shirts mostly tour t-shirts. I’ve gotten into habit of just taking one out and adding it to the circle of ones in use. Most recent being that Extreme t-shirt. One before that was Manics. I really liked Mr Big one which was just the cover of their first album.

        Which t-shirt has been your favorite? DP one?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I had green Oasis t-shirt once. It had v-neck. Not sure if it’s still in the closet.

    My all time favorite is a tie between a really old Stray Cats shirt, must have been my first band shirt or David Lee Roth Skyscraper one.


    1. Yikes, I forgot about my Asylum Kiss shirt. Loved that one.

      An episode with everyone’s most loved t-shirts would have been a cool one. Wonder how many different Maiden shirts does Harrison own?


  6. I really enjoyed this Mike. Kill ’em All was my proper entry point, but only in about ’91. It’s still my favourite LP of theirs too, I just love the raw charge of it.


  7. Kill ‘Em All was my entry point into Tallica. I think it would have been 1988 or thereabouts I heard that. Quickly caught up on the other stuff. I liked some of Load and I thought it had a great sound but I dunno… it just wore out its welcome pretty quick. Even the songs I liked started to get old pretty fast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I played Load yesterday and while I was as blown away as I was in ’96…I sure did see what I liked about it. I actually played both Load and Reload in a row. Nothing truly awful, but lots of fat that might be trimmed to make a single album.

      Liked by 1 person

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