Unfortunately, when it comes to musicians, the cliche about "only the good die young" seems to be all too true. I thought I'd write a few posts about some of those under-recognized ones who really made an impression on me and whose work is definitely worth checking out if you're not too familiar with it. Barry Stern was a Chicago area drummer and singer who was best known for his work in the bands Zoetrope and later Trouble. The former was an amazing, underrated metal powerhouse who combined a wicked thrash groove with hardcore elements and superior song-writing. They called it "street metal." Barry was a key element as he was both their drummer AND lead singer, something pretty rare in that style. I recently found this clip of "Indecent Obsession."
Although the quality is pretty crude I haven't found much else out there. (For a better idea of what they sounded like just follow the related links on YouTube...) I was lucky enough to see them live once in the late 80's in their hometown of Chicago at Cubby Bears where they headlined a show opened up by Sacrifice and Nuclear Assault (also amazing bands worth checking out if you don't know them.) I still remember being blown away by the ridiculous energy and excitement and the super cool head-banging bass player who just never quit (not to mention he was African-American (pretty rare for the time) and short-haired (un-freakin-heard-of.) Unfortunately, like many worthy bands, they never got the success they deserved and things fell apart not long after their second album "A Life Of Crime" a brilliant record which still hold up today very very well. After the classic line-up broke up there was a super-bogus version which made one CD and toured under the name Zoetrope even thought there was only one original member left (shades of "original roadies!")
Barry later re-surfaced as drummer with fellow Chicago metal gurus Trouble in time for their two records with Rick Rubin.This was their flirtation with the big-time and although they never really caught on with the masses the work is some of their best. Check out "Psychotic Reaction"
You can catch a glimpse of Barry here and listen to his smooth, heavy ride and rockin' cowbell-sweet! I could easily write an essay about Trouble (probably my all-time favorite metal band) so I'll have to be brief and just say they are legends, true pioneers of metal and a crucial band in the development of the music. If you like heavy then check them out. They are still out there playing really well although they now have another singer in place of key member Eric Wagner (something I can't really get used to.) After leaving the Trouble drum chair Barry was eventually heard singing with Chicago band D-Connect. Aside from being one of the better drummers ever in metal I thought he was an excellent singer too so it's good to know he got to do some singing. It was a shock to many when we heard that Barry Stern died unexpectedly from complications following hip surgery on April 1 2005. Rock on Barry-we miss ya and, as Trouble sang, R.I.P.