Rediscovering the Golden Age of Rock and Metal: A Look Back at the 1980 Compilation Album “Kilowatts”
I thought it would be good to take you on a nostalgic trip back to 1980 with a detailed review of the legendary double album compilation “Kilowatts.” Whether you were headbanging to it back in the day or discovering it for the first time, this album serves as a vital snapshot of an era when heavy metal was reclaiming its supremacy in the music world.
Watch the video above for the full review
A Blast from the Past
This is more than just an album review; it’s a reflection on a period that celebrated the resurgence of rock and metal, infused with punk sensibilities and the energy of a new generation.
The Compilation That Rocked the World
Priced at a very reasonable £4.99 in 1980, “Kilowatts” was an affordable gateway into the world of heavy metal. It didn’t come in a fancy gatefold, just a single sleeve affair with two records inside, but what it lacked in presentation, it made up for in content.
The back cover proudly proclaimed the return of heavy metal to its proper place of supremacy, with writer Brian Harrigan arguing that it never really went away. This collection wasn’t just a look back; it was a journey through the USA’s greatest metal hits and a glimpse into the future of rock.
The Tracks That Defined an Era
From the iconic segues of “World Anthem” into “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” by Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, to Ted Nugent’s “Flesh and Blood,” the first record was an electrifying start. Highlights included the fantastic rock track “Knock Em Dead Kid” by Trooper and Judas Priest’s exciting “Rapid Fire.”
The second record brought us tracks like “Back on the Road Again” by REO Speedwagon – a song that, in retrospect, foreshadowed their impending success. There was also “Line of Fire” from Journey, the aggressive punk attitude of Trust’s “Relate,” and the fantastic opening Joe Perry track from “Let the Music Do the Talking.”
Though the album might have faltered on side four, with tracks like Molly Hatchet’s “Billionaire” feeling a bit derivative, the overall experience remained intact.
A Sampler Beyond Samplers
What made “Kilowatts” unique wasn’t just its selection of killer cuts at a killer price. This compilation became more than a mere sampler; it was an album in its own right, akin to a vinyl mixtape.
In the age of Spotify playlists, the charm of such an album might be lost. However, “Kilowatts” remains a vital artifact of rock’s golden age, capturing a moment when the genre was roaring back to life.
Some of us discovered lifelong favorites through this album, while others were content to enjoy it as a standalone experience. It was a missed opportunity not to include pictures of the album artworks on both inner sleeves, but that minor quirk doesn’t detract from its legacy.
If you, like me, were lucky enough to experience “Kilowatts” in its heyday, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What albums did you go on to buy after listening to it? Which bands became your favorites, and which ones did you never find? Share your thoughts and memories, and let’s keep the spirit of rock alive!
As we look back at great samplers in the world of rock, it’s clear that the golden age of heavy metal is still with us, ever-present in the background of contemporary music, waiting for the next wave of rockers to carry the torch.
Keep rocking, People Like Us…
Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine