Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pretty Maids - Motherland

I had never heard of the Pretty Maids up until last year, or if I had I had forgotten them entirely. It could be because Pretty Maids found their biggest commercial success in the late eighties early nineties when I was still very young. It could be Pretty Maids never got very popular in North America, in fact outside of Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Spain, Pretty Maids are not altogether popular anywhere. It could also be just something as simple as me not paying as much attention to Denmark’s rock scene as much I should be.
Bad ass, Ronnie Atkins

I first became acquainted with Pretty Maids when Ronnie Atkins hit the stage in Berlin during the last Avantasia tour, which as you know was a big deal for me since I went to Berlin and Hamburg to see it. I had no idea who Ronnie Atkins was but when I first saw him and he started killing it on the microphone, I knew right away he was a badass. After the show in Hamburg (best day of my life) I had the good fortune of meeting Eric Martin of Mr. Big and after a delightful half hour or so of hanging out with him he promised get somebody else to come hang out with us in that back alley behind the Grosse Fahrenheit 36, and that somebody was Ronnie Atkins. Mr. Atkins was not as enthusiastic about hanging out with us as Eric was but he was undeniably a really cool guy. My new found Dutch friend Fabion asked him if he would be touring with Avantasia in South America later that year and he told us no. Pretty Maids would be on tour, presumably in Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Spain, and that was the priority, which is fair. I asked him about the new album “Motherland” since Eric Martin had mentioned it was really good, after a joke about how Eric had not even listened to it yet despite being given a copy by both Ronnie and his son, he informed me, quiet strongly, that it would be in my best interest if I bought a copy and listened to it.

And so I did.

And it was amazing.

Like so many central European metal bands I am late to the party discovering Pretty Maids greatness. It is a great challenge for all musicians to remain inventing and productive after many years and many albums, and with that in mind it is a delightful surprising just how good “Motherland” is. Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer started the band back in 1981, so being able to produce a great album after thirty plus years is incredibly impressive. For me this was the first big introduction to Pretty Maids and it made me very eager to investigate their earlier works and very quickly Pretty Maids became yet another band to add the song list on my computer, on my MP3 player and in my life.

The big single off of “Motherland” is “Mother of All Lies,”

Mother of All Lies

There are many tracks from “Motherland” that have a political commentary of some kind and I respect the nature of Ronnie’s messages. Too often bands that fancy themselves insightful in regards to politics come off as juvenile or wimpy, and there is nothing immature or meek about Aktins and Hammer. My favorite track on the album is the title track. Unlike some of the more critical theme that prevail throughout a majority of the album the title track is rather positive, in fact in contrast to the foreboding concerns in their political oriented songs “Motherland” is patriotic. The chorus is:

“I praise you,
I'll never ever betray you,
Pledge my allegiance to save you,
You are my soul you're my,

The motherland land for Atkins and Hammer would be Denmark, so this could be a song about their loyalty to that nation, and I would not blame them, Denmark is pretty cool. It could be a generic song about family, heritage and home, a theme song for all people from all lands maybe. It could be satirical, in light of the other challenging songs of nation’s governance, perhaps “Motherland” is showcasing the foolishness of nationalism, but I doubt it.

Here is what we do know “Motherland” is a hard rock song with a very busy lead guitar with simple and heavy rhythm drums and bass, and powerful vocals. We also know there is something very natural and instinctive in loyalty to one’s family and tribe and with that there is something very powerful and motivating to fight and protect those you love and the ideals you believe in. Hence why “Motherland” has such a great energy about it and why I said it could be a generic song about family, heritage and home for anybody, because very nearly all of us have all three of those things and most of everyone is proud of who they in and in turn where they came from. More important than all that, “Motherland” kicks ass, and isn’t that what is really important?

“Motherland” great album and great song.

Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

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