Saturday, July 19, 2008

I think I've mentioned Banzai Records a few times on this blog. Banzai played a HUGE role in disseminating underground metal in Canada during the '80s. It licensed the cream of American, British and European independent metal labels—Neat, Megaforce, Metal Blade, and Noise in particular—and, through the distribution might of Polygram, put them in every damn record shop across Canada. Sure, their product could be "budget" and stingy on the packaging, but the fact that they got the music out there was the most important thing.

I still remember the excitement of seeing albums by bands I'd only read about in Kerrang! up on the wall at A&B Sound...and for $5.99, too! Kill 'Em All was the first LP I sprang for, little knowing that that album was the lit fuse on a scene that would quickly explode. Over 20 years later, I'm still listening to the dust and debris settle.

A few years ago, Adrien Begrand of Decibel & Popmatters captured that era much more skillfully than I can here. While I consider his piece the definitive Banzai retrospective, I'm always thrilled to find anyone else reminiscing about the label in print.

So it is in the latest issue of Decibel, where pro wrestler and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho talks about being a metal fan in Winnipeg in the mid-'80s, and manages to neatly sum up the egalitarian nature of the new metal in the process:

"There was this label Banzai Records in Canada—it was the imprint for Metal Blade and Megaforce. Anything that was on Metal Blade or Megaforce in the States was on Banzai in Canada. We bought everything on that label... I remember buying Kill 'Em All because it was on Banzai and because the guys in the photo on the back had more zits than I did. I thought if those guys could be in a band and make it, then so could I."

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