Head On

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Despite their origins as a bluesy hard-rock outfit, the members of Samson decided to jump the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) bandwagon, drafting a powerful young singer called Bruce Bruce (who later rose to fame as Bruce Dickinson with Iron Maiden) to give them much-needed visual and musical credibility. The scheme worked, and their first album, Head On, contains top-notch NWOBHM, featuring raw, energetic performances capped with often silly or naive lyrics. "Take It Like a Man," "Manwatcher," and "Hammerhead" sound especially awkward, but the hilarious "Take Me to Your Leader" makes it all seem wonderfully innocent. The first single, "Hard Times," is both catchy and aggressive, and the band shows off its chops on the drum-happy "Vice Versa" and the almost prog-rock "Walking Out On You." In a premonition of things to come, "Thunderburst" is little more than a modified version of Maiden's "Ides of March." Casual listeners are bound to find this album too raw and sonically dated, but for those keen on the NWOBHM genre, it's a worthy purchase.

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