Raven

All Systems Go! The Neat Anthology

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Raven was best when they had no idea what they were doing. The first several years of the band's existence helped kick-start the NWOBHM movement, gave a neophytic Metallica a bigger band to hit the road with on the infamous Kill 'Em All for One tour, helped put a fledgling Neat label on the map, and became one of the first underground acts to sign to a major. Unfortunately, the latter accomplishment is not fondly remembered as a victorious moment, since hindsight shows that this upward mobility was the start of a downward cycle as the group lost its core fan base by going in a more commercial direction. In that respect, All Systems Go! is a bit of revisionist history, and being subtitled "The Neat Anthology," it makes no bones about it, as all 20 tracks date from the first three marvelous LPs that Raven -- full of youthful energy and a swagger confident in world domination, even if you could tell they had no idea how they would go about attaining it -- unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Although this genuflection has honest liner notes from noted European metal journalist Malcolm Dome, it lacks the latter material that had dozens upon dozens of denim-clad denizens screaming "sell out!" and offers nothing new to old fans, but it's a great primer for any young'uns who might wonder what Lars Ulrich saw in the band, and should be treated as such, like a photo album best for those who can only remember the pictures by looking at them because they weren't there.

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