Anvil

Backwaxed

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Blessed with a title so satire-worthy not even Spinal Tap ever bettered it, Backwaxed was a curious release from Canadian head bangers Anvil. A contractual parting shot from Attic Records as the group headed off for Metal Blade (and supposed fame and glory), it was comprised of one vinyl side's worth of new, or at least unreleased material, and another showcasing highlights from their first three albums: 1981's Hard 'n' Heavy, 1982's Metal on Metal, and 1983's Forged in Fire. So, starting in reverse with the latter, obvious song choices occupying side B such as "School Love," "Metal on Metal," and "Jackhammer" were sprinkled amongst decidedly less ubiquitous relics like "Scenery" and the amusingly mystifying "Butter-Bust Jerky" -- perhaps a sign that neither band nor label knew how to pick hits even then. But the question of iffy quality control was hardly applicable to the rarities contained on side A, since some of them -- certainly the shoddily executed "You're a Liar" and the promisingly named but ultimately pedestrian "Fryin' Cryin'" -- had been album outtakes, after all, and somewhat akin to third-rate AC/DC, truth be told. No, Backwaxed's enduring value (despite having since been supplanted by both more comprehensive greatest-hits sets and the CD format itself), lies in solid hard rocker "Steamin'," the popular, in-concert instrumental "Pussy Power" (presumably too sophisticated a concept for lyrics to express?), and the simply perfect melodic metal of the title track, whose mischievous lyrics (about a particular sexual technique) were simply textbook Anvil. Too bad textbook Anvil was never nearly good enough until the release of the band's career-reviving film documentary, some 25 years later, so in its time, Backwaxed -- much like its title -- was a must-have item for only a select group of listeners.

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