Well, today is the first (and potentially the only) day of Spring we are going to get here in Chicago this year. Tomorrow there’s a thunderstorm and the next day temperatures will plunge from their upper-60s sunny glory to the 30s once more—not freezing cold, but probably gray and depressing nonetheless.
I am going to enjoy this day while I can! With that in mind, here are 5 albums I consider to be perfect listening for a newly-born Springtime.
Comus – First Utterance
Spring always gives me strange associations and nostalgias. Comus probably represents the dark and unbridled side of Spring awakening, a seduction of the I-know-not-what.
Virgin Steele – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
“Now like the sun, like the wind and the rain
I’ll return like a storm, I will rise once again
Like the right hand of God, I will strike from above
‘Cross the oceans of time, I am called by your voice
I’ll return, I will return! Oh!”
“Victory is mine – from the darkness I have won!”
And especially Part 2:
“Strike now while life is in you, before the darkness eats your soul!”
“I’ll never die while the light races over my head
I can see where we are
Why must you cry for the life you are leaving behind?
Crown of glory unscarred
“And you’ll see me thread the air, crown of fire upon my hair!”
This album (or set of albums) represents like no other the unconquerable spirit of humankind. (And God, even Invictus… “We came, we saw, we conquered you all!”) Strike now! A glorification of inner strength, the sheer power of which is unmatched. After the cold death of winter, arise! Seize victory while you can! Do you feel the blood pumping in your veins? Nevermind how preposterous it sounds – a metal band encouraging you to “kill” and “die” at once!
It’s just so unironically triumphant, in an age when triumph, glory, majesty, and so on, are lost affects, replaced by various forms of naive chauvinism, nationalism, and so on. There is something to be said for the revival – unironically of course – of these affects, not that there is a broader social or political meaning to the 90s albums of a metal band. Springtime indeed.
Hawkwind – Space Ritual
Of course I associate hippies with spring. The flowers are growing, the orgone is swarming, and one can finally go outside, take a walk down to the lake and behold the sheer creative force. Well, supposedly, since the trees here are still, in the middle of April, totally dead. Not a bud to be seen. But it’s there… the unconquerable orgone…
Manilla Road – Crystal Logic
Okay, so I had to put Manilla Road on this list. My pick is this excellent album, in particular for the more rocking and carefree vibe of songs like “Necropolis” and “Feeling Free Again”. The Deluge could have served as well, for its shorter and more upbeat hook-laden songs (“Hammer of the Witches”, “Divine Victim”, etc.), or even a few tracks from Open the Gates (“Road of Kings” in particular). I guess I think that spring is a triumphant time, so upbeat songs that bring to mind rebirth, happiness, and bravery fit well.
Motorhead – Orgasmatron
My favorite Motorhead album, this one really reminds me of riding around town with the boys. Another Perfect Day would also have worked due to its more upbeat nature. But this one, hoo boy, it’s just anthem after anthem of hard rockin’ heavy metal. I think everyone should experience the freedom that this album enacts, even if just for a moment, even if behind the safety screen of the tape player in an old car. Just make sure your friends are along for the ride.
Jethro Tull – Songs From the Wood
Obviously… More on the Comus side of things, as in pagan and folksy as anything out there, but much lighter on the touch this time. No macabre pagan gods tormenting lost maidens or anything, but still retains that insanely English pagan feeling throughout the entire album. Also very proggy. Essential album for a spring soundtrack.
Wishbone Ash – Argus
One last album. This one has the 70s fantasy vibe strong, with proggy and laidback beats and dual lead guitars. Great guitar album. It’s worth a stab at daydreaming to this one on a nice warm day. Stare out the window awhile…
Well, in order not to miss the day while it lasts, I’m going outside.