Considering that the book was released in 1981, I probably first got my hands on it in late '82, when I was 17. And then as now, I found the book a mixed bag. My two favorite bands when I was 17 were Yes and Iron Maiden, neither of whom received much in the way of positive press in the book. Iron Maiden weren't mentioned at all, and Yes only made it into the book as number 9 in a list of worst album titles (for Tormato).
So I had limited use for that, and for the extensive space the book gave over to Elvis and to doo-wop and to girl groups. But at the same time, my Beatles period had been recent enough where I found the full chapter devoted to them quite interesting. And I loved the bit of trivium that informed us how "Nobody But Me" (which I wouldn't hear for another 4 or 5 years) used the word "no" 100 times in its brief 2:16. And I still chuckle at the highlight of the book's "most excessive psychedelic bandname" list, which was, no shit, "Transatlantic Chicken Wicken # 5."
But the list that captivated me the most, and the one I'm going to return to today, is the short list on page 208, the one in which "Timothy Leary Lists the Techno-Erotic Vector Bands." The list was presented without explanation, and here it is in its entirety:
1. David Bowie
2. King Crimson
3. Manuel Gottsching
4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
5. Roxy Music (when Eno was in the band)
6. Klaus Schulze
I definitely dug the King Crimson reference, as I owned both In The Court of the Crimson King and Discipline. But Jimi Hendrix had never moved me as much as he had some of my friends, David Bowie was familiar to me basically through "Space Oddity" (the one song that I remember FM radio of the time playing), and the other names meant absolutely nothing to me.
In fact, the name Manuel Gottsching meant absolutely nothing to me until about twenty minutes ago.
But something about the title of the list stayed with me. I didn't know what the hell a techno-erotic vector was, and I'm betting Timothy Leary didn't either. Clearly Mr. Leary was using the word "erotic" in a different way than is usual, or else King Crimson wouldn't have been on the list. Even a pimply longhaired freak who wouldn't be getting laid for quite some time to come could see that.
So without necessarily getting a clarification from Timmy, I just assumed that the word erotic had been placed there for cadence, or for attetion-getting purposes, and I focussed on the "Techno" and the "Vector" part of it. The whole thing began to have a meaning to me, and I'll fully admit this meaning may have been entirely separate from any meaning that it may have had for Leary or Marsh or anyone else involved.
But goddamn if the Mahavishnu Orchestra when I first heard them a couple years later didn't seem like a Techno Erotic Vector band. And damn if fucking Megadeth, when I first heard Peace Sells in '86, didn't seem that way as well. In fact, Peace Sells might just be the Lord Emperor of "Techno Erotic Vector" records.
What the fuck is this?
Well, it's sort of an intuitive thing, but the first requirement somehow seems to be a shiny guitar, sleek and fast, not sludgy or droning. So you can see Hendrix and (at least Belew-era) Crimson and Mahavishnu and yes, Megadeth. I think that's the techno part, if you can keep the trashy dance music fad of the 'late '80's from polluting your thinking here. And the vector part, the appeal to math and complexity, well, the same bands do fine here, as well.
Forget the lead breaks, just listen to the rhythm guitar throughout "Black Friday." It's absolutely sick, vectors going off in every which direction, changing speeds, too. And shit, even if you're not really getting this whole Techno-Vector oncept I'm trying to convey, I'm pretty sure you can still appreciate the way in which this music stands out. Metal has this reputation of sounding alike, but fact is, very little sounds anything like Peace Sells. Metallica are the first band discussed when the topic of speedmetal comes up, but as good as they are, even the rhythms on Master of Puppets are practically childlike compared to the ones on Peace Sells.
And Chris Poland may have been a heroin addict, but his jazz-inflected solos run rings around Kirk Hammett's. It's said that Poland has a severed tendon in the first finger of his left hand, a handicap which allows him greater flexibility while playing the guitar. And that makes me think of perhaps the third requirement for a Techno-Erotic Vector band. They need to be flexible. Certainly Megadeth is just that on "Good Mourning/Black Friday."
Megadeth - Peace Sells But Who's Buying - 5 Good Mourning, Black Friday.mp3
This file was removed March 2, 2009. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.
File under: Speedmetal