Monday, February 28, 2011

Earth's Mightiest Rock Group

Avengers Rock Group: while earlier family acts such as the Fantastic Four charted in the 60’s, like the Rolling Stones of the Silver Age, the Earth’s Mightiest Rock Group would go on, in different incarnations, to be a blockbuster draw on tours. Perhaps, besides Thor and Keith Richards’ similar ages, and Mjolnir’s tong’s resemblance to Mick Jagger, they bear this most in common: they have endured as a live act.
1963

First line-up: Giant Man on Drums, Wasp on tambourine and vocals, Iron Man on bass, and Thor on 12 string guitar and harmonies, with the Hulk as the group’s first failed lead singer. While his attitude revolutionized rebellion in American youth, the group did not chart overseas, instead losing their singer for good, at a concert with Savage Submariner, the Elvis of the shellfish.


A new talent would emerge, however, in the ice cool vocals of Blue Eyed Stevie Rogers. About this time, the group invented heavy metal, as the new line up consisted of Giant Man’s big bass, the Wasp on lead guitar, with Thor singing and Iron Man on rhythm and lead guitar. It was during this time Iron Man famously began amplifying his guitar, using amplifiers kicked in by the Titanium Man to generate his famous signature sound, leading some to declare him the God of Feedback. But Thor
WAS a god, and he sang of his many battles, fist pumping with his enchanted mallet held high. Some would say that this incarnation featured some of the band’s worst singing. After one of the first meaningful psychaedelic works of the Sixties, the band line-up changed into the “Kooky Quartet.”

Hawkeye looked for a way in as the new lead singer, but contented himself with the most innovative cowbell playing in live rock. In the composition of the album, however, he felt this left him more anonymous, in the shadow of Blue Eyed Rogers.

The brother sister team of Quick silver (drums, bass, guitars) and the Scarlet Witch (keyboards) became so important to the marvelous group, they nearly named their album Quicksilver Messenger Service, but found a San Fransisco band in possession of the name already. Why this never created a legal battle over the name “The Avengers” with the popular television program of the day, starring Emma Peel and John Steed remains a mystery.


The decade ended with popular keyboardist Ray T’Challas and professional Moog synthesizer the Vision also joining the group, with many other guests on tours. By now, a time of socially conscious music was beginning to take hold. Their hits “Masters of Evil” “Squadron Sinister,” and “Sons of the Serpent” established their credentials in establishing heavy metal as the new sound of the coming decade. Thor returned to vocals, while Captain America proved to be a revolutionary drummer, his battle-trained reflexes and hand-eye coordination propelling a band ready for Who’s Next Issue. Iron Man began flying during solos at this time, ripping out light shows and rhythms simultaneously. He began to experiment with programmed rhythms, building amazing but lengthy jam solos into his glove units.

They closed the decade with a reunion with member Hank Pillyums, whose experimentation had led them to the brink of finished as a band. He, along with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, entered the Vision of the ‘70s with their “Kree Skrull War,” together with the Captain Marvel-produced tracks forming a kind of superheroic Abbey Road. But it was the turning point, into a darkness from which music, some say, has never recovered.

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