Review: Attila by Attila (1970)

Words fail me.
Words fail me.

Now, I’ve been trying really hard not to review the same artist twice in a row but there’s always room for an exception or two and this record is very exceptional.

Attila features pre-Piano Man Billy Joel and some dude who plays drums. The band broke up when Billy stole Drummer’s Wife (they then broke up about thirteen years later) but not before they had a chance to put out this glorious mess of an album.

Did you think that The Stranger himself was capable of being so downright metal? He totally is!

Billy Joel: far more Metal than you could have believed.
Billy Joel: a little more in common with Slayer than you ever could have believed.

The Billster, with the help of Attila’s road manager, was actually among the first people (if not the first) to hook up a Hammond organ to a Marshall guitar amplifier, creating the world’s first Maximum Rock Organ. He DESTROYS the damn thing too. He shreds and beats at his organ in exactly the way he doesn’t in Just The Way You Are.

Wonder Woman starts off the album with a bunch of stuff you can expect to hear plenty of for the next 40 minutes – shitloads of wah-wah and nonsense lyrics with shouting and loud drums, with the occasional druggy interlude. It’s really about Wonder Woman. Really.

California Flash seems to be about somebody who is really good at boning but isn’t Billy Joel, making this a drastically different song from his solo material. There’s also some good old-fashioned drug references here. Have a listen for yourself – do you think they were on boatloads of drugs?

Nah.
Nah.

Apparently, Revenge is Sweet and Billy Joel’s gonna beat you up! He seems to travel 15 years through time in this song so he can borrow James Hetfield’s vocal chords. He’s going to KICK YOUR FACE IN.

Amplifier Fire Part I – Godzilla is an instrumental piece that doesn’t suck. It brings in some nice classic rock ‘n’ roll stuff, only CRANKED UP TO A MILLION. There’s a really cool bit where the organ starts to sound like a glitched-up Gameboy, which is the coolest thing ever. It descends into Amplifier Fire Part II – March of the Huns with a righteous keyboard wail and some ridiculous tribal drumming, complete with some positively Gregorian vocals. This is the music of Hell.

What should be side 2 keeps up the pace with Rollin’ Home, featuring more frantic drumming and a keyboard style that can only be described as hitting. This song features a Billy Joel who is so horny that he wants to have a wank at the cinema but heroically holds off just in case he gets laid later. I’m thinking this is why he ran off with Drummer’s Wife.

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear This Castle Down! This track features lyrics about being SHIPWRECKED and then there’s a castle or something and he needs to TEEEEAAAARRRR THISSSS CAAASSSTLLLEEEE DOOOOWWWWWNNNN! Then it gets a bit druggy, it’s probably about taking loads of acid or something. The Man wanted Billy Joel to cut off all his hair! That’s just not his bag, man.

Oh, wait. Never mind.
Oh, wait. Never mind.

The organ in Holy Moses really does sound like guitars. It’s very impressive. This is probably Billy Joel at his most Ozzy Osbourne yet. Ozzy Osbourne as we know him didn’t exist yet when Attila formed so I think it’s safe to conclude that Billy Joel invented Black Sabbath.

Brain Invasion is another instrumental but we can forgive them for that because this one rocks extra hard. Mr. Joel shows off his half-complete classical training with some ridiculous organ work while Drummer thrashes out some cool jazz rhythms. Groovy.

For those of you who are too cool to like Billy Joel, give this a spin and it might just blow your minds. If you like psychedelic rock, if you like Mike Patton, if you like anything even vaguely out there then you absolutely owe it to yourself to give this a go.

Also, thanks to the album never being officially released on CD, it’s totally okay for me to post the entire album here!

Attila track list:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. California Flash
  3. Revenge is Sweet
  4. Amplifier Fire Part I – Godzilla
  5. Amplifier Fire Part II – March of the Huns
  6. Rollin’ Home
  7. Tear This Castle Down
  8. Holy Moses
  9. Brain Invasion
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