CD Reviews

Diamond Head - 'Lightning To The Nations' (Deluxe Edition) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 13, 2012    
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Great album, terrible package.

Everyone knows the story by now: unable to get a deal, Diamond Head's management at the time suggested they record an album and present interested labels with a finished product to market. When no-one bit they went ahead and sold it themselves. From such inauspicious beginnings the legend that is 'Lightning To The Nations' or the 'White' album was born. Sanctuary last spruced up the album on CD in 2001 and ten years later 'Lightning...' now finds itself undergoing Universal's 'Deluxe Re-issue' treatment, meaning that it's been remastered from the original tapes and is bolstered by the addition of a disc of bonus material. But more of that in a minute...

The album itself sounds as classy and as exciting as it did back in 1980, and it's worth pointing out that's there more to it -- much more to it -- than just 'Am I Evil'? With 'Helpless' and 'The Prince' Diamond Head were drawing up the template for the speed metal boom; 'Lightning To The Nations' is still the all-time classic album opener; 'Sweet And Innocent' showed that they could write something short 'n' catchy, and the more quirky 'It's Electric' was the one that hooked a certain Mr Ulrich. And even 'Sucking My Love', a song no-one would get away with these days, still stands tall. 'Lightning To The Nations' was the best NWOBHM debut album full-stop: better than Iron Maiden's badly produced effort, better than Saxon's self-titled account opener with its bizarre array of backing vocals; and better than Def Leppard's first which even the band have disowned. Sad but true, as someone once said.

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Which brings us to the bonus disc... Nothing wrong with the seven tracks on offer -- nothing at all -- except that there are just seven tracks on offer. The original version of 'Helpless' from the flip of 'Shoot Out The Lights', the single re-recording of 'Sweet And Innocent' and the remix of 'It's Electric' from the 'Diamond Lights' EP have all been omitted (again) from what is just a quick romp through the band's four self-released singles. This was supposed to be the 'Deluxe Edition', so where are they? And what about the BBC session which falls neatly into the timeframe? And maybe the two live B-side cuts from the 'In The Heat Of The Night' single ('Play It Loud' and 'Sweet And Innocent'), which were bafflingly missed off the 'MCA Years' set a while back? Now THAT would be the Deluxe Edition.

At just 27 minutes the bonus material could have been added to the main disc: then you realise that it has been already -- this is exactly the same CD as the 2001 re-issue, just split over two CDs with several embarrassing typos (eg calling the opener 'Lightning To The Nation' in the singular (twice); getting the album's original release date wrong, etc) and a new cover. It's a cheap rehash with no thought behind it. Great album; terrible package.

John Tucker

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Doug said:

September 16, 2015
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