Tag Archives: historical album

Historical album of the month – Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven

What does it take to turn a record into a historical milestone? That’s what we’ve been asking ourselves in the editor room. Our first answer would be that a historical record needs to inspire and stand at the beginning of a new genre. A shining example is Pantera’s album Far Beyond Driven.

March 22, 1994. The Billboard charts are dominated by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Ace of Base. With the growing popularity of grunge bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, the glory days of heavy guitars seem to be over. Then the unexpected happens, heavy metal band Pantera releases their seventh album.

Far Beyond Driven

Let’s go back in time first. Far Beyond Driven is the third major record label release of the band. It’s a successful attempt to top the previous album Vulgar Display of Power, with a heavier guitar sound, and more sluggish riffs.

With their guitars tuned in Cis Dime Darrell and bass player Rex Brown produce a threatening and sinister sound, that sends shivers down the listener’s spine. The low grunts coming out of front man Phil Anselmo’s throat are complemented by the raw and groovy rhythms of drummer Vinnie Paul Abbot.  The album is solid as a heavy metal rock. And, it ignited a metal revival that no one saw coming.

Critics

Despite the heavy sound the record enters the Billboard top 200 at number one. To everyone’s surprise. It shows that metal may be sidelined, but it has far from disappeared from the mainstream.

The critics are divided on Far Beyond Driven. Some journalists praise the band for producing a unique record without compromises, that still reaches a major audience. Others see a futile attempt to top the success of Vulgar Display of Power. A third group dubs Pantera “an overnight success”.

The beginning of the end

“Overnight success my ass” says bass player Rex Brown in an interview with Rolling Stone. The band, founded in 1981 by the two brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, is slowly making a name for themselves at the time of Far Beyond Driven. While they once started out as a glam rock band, nine years after their formation they switched to a heavier style, that has become their typical sound.

In 1994 years of rocking are beginning to take their toll. Front man Phil Anselmo’s spine has been worn out by incessant touring and performing. His back pain is becoming intolerable and the singer turns to anesthetics. First in the form of booze and painkillers. Later this habit of self-medication develops into a heroin addiction. That’s the beginning of the end.

I’m Broken

The track I’m Broken is the first time that Anselmo shows his vulnerable side. Listening closely to the song, we can hear a cry for help. The man who was defined by the media as a tough superhero, can’t face the music anymore. The pain in his back is eating him up. It’s clear that he’s not used to losing control.

Looking back he says, in the documentary Pantera Behind Closed Doors, “This is right when I started feeling the pain in my lower back, and it felt scary. I think this is one of the first times in my life, man, that I had this thing called ‘vulnerability’ kick in, and that was a very uncomfortable feeling.”

Planet Caravan

Far Beyond Driven is characterized by groovy blues metal songs like 5 Minutes Alone, I’m Broken and Becoming. But there’s also some great material for the shredding fans. The closing track of the album is unexpected: Pantera’s cover of the Black Sabbath song Planet Carevan.

The song was recorded for a collaborative cover album in honor of the godfathers of heavy metal. An album where multiple metal bands give tribute Black Sabbath. The collaboration is discontinued because there are disagreements with the record label. Pantera decides to release the track on Far Beyond Driven. The sound is very trippy and eccentric, but doesn’t lose its characteristic Pantera vibe.

Pantera

 A year after releasing the album Phil Anselmo suffers a heart attack due to an overdose. He takes some time out from the band. Meanwhile tension between the band members increases. Therefore, the greater part of the album The Great Southern Trendkill was recorder separately. The Abbott brothers are working together with bass player Rex Brown in their home studio in Dallas, but Phil Anselmo sends his parts from New Orleans.

Pantera releases one more album after The Great Southern Kill. Reinventing the Steel from 2000 is a tribute to the genre, the fans and the history of the band. Yet, tensions still divide Anselmo and the rest.

Shooting

In 2003 Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul decide to break up the band to start a new project: Damage Plan. During one of the concerts a confused fan stumbles on the stage with gun, and shoots Dimebag. The rest of band and the roadies can barely escape.

Local police stop the shooter before he can do more damage. The event not only signals the definitive end of Pantera, but also the death of one of the world’s leading guitar virtuosos. The metal scene is shocked by the death of Dimebag Darrell. To honor him Eddie van Halen even lays one of his notorious Frankenstein Guitars with Darrell in his grave.

Metal Revival

In 2014 Pantera celebrates the 20-year existence of their most successful album. Far Beyond Driven 20th Anniversary Edition Delux is a remastered double sides release of their classic record. The fans are treated to a live recording of the Monsters of Rock 1994 concert. Whatever your opinion on Far Beyond Driven is, metal was never the same afterwards.

Together with its predecessor Vulgar Display of Power is one of the albums that started a spiritual revolution of the metal genre. It paved the way for bands like Slipknot, Mudvayne and Korn. A new sub-genre was born: nu metal.

Historic Live Albums – The Concert in Central Park by Simon & Garfunkel

Some concerts turn out to be different than you had expected. The show by folk duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in New York for example. The charity concert for the renovation of Central Park is listed in the history books as one of the best live performances of the two musicians.

In February 1982 the first live album of the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel was released: The Concert in Central Park. With classics such as Mrs. Robinson, The Boxer and The Sound of Silence you can’t erase this folk duo from the history of popular music. The record is also a vain attempt to bring the two musicians together, who haven’t played together for years due to quarrels.

The Concert in Central Park

The occasion for the concert is Central Park. The park has fallen into decline as a result of many budget cuts in the 1960s and 1970s. The green heart of New York – meant to offer the inhabitants a place where they can come to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in ‘the city that never sleeps’ – is in need of renovation.

The city is still struggling with financial problems at the beginning of the 1980s and doesn’t have the three million dollars needed to restore the park. Mayor Ed Koch calls upon the Central Park Conservancy to come up with a solution at the beginning of 1980.

One of the initiatives of this foundation is to organize charity concerts in the park. The proceeds of the merchandise, television and video rights go to Central Park. The folk duo, which has its roots in New York and often refers to the city in its songs, is a perfect choice. Even though Simon and Garfunkel have their doubts about the project.

Simon & Garfunkel

You know what they say: “quit while your ahead.” Most artists never do, but there is always an exception to the rule. Simon and Garfunkel reach their peak after five studio albums at the end of the sixties.

Around that time, the two New Yorkers grew apart both as friends and musically. They decide to stop. Their last album Bridge over Troubled Water dominates the top of the Billboard rankings for ten weeks.

When Paul Simon is approached for the benefit concert about ten years after the act collapsed, he reacts enthusiastically. However, he has doubts about a possible collaboration with his old friend Art Garfunkel and is not entirely convinced of the commercial success of the project. Simon struggles with depression and wants to avoid setbacks. After some insistence by the promotor he contacts his buddy.

Preparations

Art Garfunkel lives in Switzerland when he receives the phone call from his old partner in folky crime. His enthusiasm is so great, that he immediately flies back to New York. There the preparations begin for what would later become one of the duo’s most successful live albums.

The rehearsals are not without struggles and fights. Old wounds open up again and the two have a lot of quarrels. In an interview Paul Simon says: “The rehearsals were terrible. Artie and I were arguing all the time.”

At first Simon wants to open the show with his solo act and then continue the performance together with Garfunkel. After some discussion, both artists agree that this concert should be carried by both of them. Although the announcement posters contain the separate names of the musicians, the artists announce a week before the show that they will perform as Simon and Garfunkel.

Commercial success

With half a million visitors, the folk duo concert in Central Park is America’s seventh largest show. It raised some 51,000 dollars for the renovation of the park. In addition, the album itself and the live recordings become great commercial successes. It almost seems like the two stars could reunite again.

After a much-praised performance, Simon and Garfunkel try to renew their career as a team and follow up with a world tour. This turns out well, but the attempts to record a new record end in disaster. Art Garfunkel leaves the studio and Paul Simon takes advantage of the situation to record and release his solo album Hearts and Bones.

The Concert in Central Park was not the last time the two claim the stage as a duo. Over the years they play at each other’s solo performances. In 2004 they even perform together under the name Simon and Garfunkel on the live album Old Friends: Live on Stage.

Set list

During the concert in Central Park, all classics are covered alternated by the artists’ own work. Of the 21 tracks played, only 19 made the record. The fans who want to hear the whole concert must check out the video recordings.

Curious about our historical record of February? Check it below.