A Time of Changes-Phase 1

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Never ones to shy from the task of turning a one-hit wonder -- and an obscure hit, at that -- into a two-disc, 32-track collection, Castle Music may have set a new record with Blitzkrieg's 2003 collection, A Time of Changes: Phase 1. Not to be confused with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal band's similarly named full-length debut from 1985, this particular release not only features that long deleted album in its entirety, but piles on an unfeasibly large number of demos, singles, outtakes and live tracks with which to delight perverse completists (but few "normal" humans). Having said that, it's of course great to see the original Time of Changes finally remastered and reissued, while the additional demo and single versions of 1980-81 favorites "Armageddon," "Buried Alive," "Inferno," and "Blitzkrieg" make it evidently clear just why these incredibly raw and exciting sounds would inspire so many bands, including, as has been widely acknowledged, Metallica. Disc two opens with 1981's seven-song Blitzed Alive cassette, which serves as proof positive of how prevalent and popular live albums of any sort were in the pre-MTV days. Who knows if it really was live, but, for what it's worth, both its sound fidelity and the group's performance (including a run-through of Deep Purple's "Highway Star") are surprisingly solid. Finally, yet another nine, previously unreleased songs are unearthed to round out this set. Among them, previously unheard creations such as "Taming the Savage Beast" (quite good and not nearly as stupid as it sounds), "Santa" (yes, as stupid as it sounds), and "Too Wild to Tame" hardly disappoint -- although recording quality does get pretty spotty at times. In summary, the fundamental motives and ultimate purpose of A Time of Changes: Phase 1 are confusing at best (will there be a phase 2, what will it be?), but committed heavy metal collectors will find much to like.

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