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German Rockers Accept's 1983 Hard Rock Anthem "Balls to the Wall"
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.
The Shallowness of Youth
Music has a finite amount of functions; primarily limited to emotional enhancement, emotional alteration, the annihilation of inhibition, the provision of pseudo-depth to an otherwise shallow mind, distraction, emotional manipulation, emotional this and that, emotional jibberty jabberty jabonga, and nostalgia.
Of course I am a weevil who finds affirmation in his own shallowness, so normally I’d keep it nice and sarcastic, but I’ve been drinking today (alcoholic beverages, no less), so I’m going to put on my goofy-looking hat of artificial substance, grab good old Sherman, and take a funky little thrill ride in the way-back machine.
Teen angst. Rebellion. False identity. Struggling with the concept of self. Rebel without a cause (or clue?). Stick it to the man. Never trust anyone over 30. Filling yourself with illicit substances all the while cognizant of the potential post-mortem shame you will (not) feel if you are found dead in a ditch with a brain full of chemicals like some dorky, cheese-eating high school punk (that concept borrowed from a mid-80s progressive rock band whose name eludes me.)
There is shallowness in going from something to nothing. There is emptiness involved in the process of filling your mind with something, anything, that defines who you are. And, more often than not, that process involves filling your head with nothing of substance, regardless of your own perceptions of the moment – filling you head with temporal, insubstantial filler material you happen to cling to - not even realizing you are involved in a supercilious, silly-assed game of self-deception.
Some people play that game their whole lives, others shed it as the vanities of youth pass. And then there are people like me, people who constantly waiver across the fine line that separates clarity from stupor, who have the seemingly rare gift of separating substance from bullshit, idiocy from intelligence, and nothingness from somethingness, yet treat that line like some sort of happy fun time playground teeter-totter – striving to embrace that which is substantial and worthwhile, yet continuing to cling to that which is vapid and fleeting (much like youth).
All of which, of course, has little to do with the product I am reviewing – Accept’s 1983 release, “Balls to the Wall”.
Seeking Identity in Rock ‘N Roll
Thirty years (and 80% of a bottle of Emmets Classic Cream Ireland Cream Liqueur – hey, give me a break - it was on special) later, I have belatedly discovered that the substance of my youth is the emptiness of my adulthood. As a young, teenaged, snakeskin pants & bandana-wearing punk wannabe metalhead rebel, I found substance where there was none. I thought I was finding something in my music that mattered, that spoke for me. When, in reality, I was engaging in the same sort of masturbatory self-deception that is endemic to teenagers of every era, who embrace virtually any genre of music, who attempt to adopt the identity associated with some empty image that really doesn’t suit them, really doesn’t mean much at all, really doesn’t represent anything except a way to generate big, pretty piles of green, American currency for those who capitalize on teen angst to spend on other illicit substances, other empty pursuits, other methods of vapid self-destruction in a never-ending perpetual cycle of… oh, I don’t know… shit.
You want truth? Don’t look to the latest release of the hot (but temporal) disseminator of the latest brand of teen angst, don’t look to Ayn Rand, don’t look to pop culture, the six o’clock news, Susan Sontag, a weighty block of Canadian red weed, a gram of Mexican black tar horse, or a bottle of cheap-ass Irish liqueur. You need to go track down Robert Lashley and ask him for the phone number of his Aunt Bertice. And then listen to your heart.
Which, once again, has scant little to do with the album I am supposedly reviewing – Accept’s 1983 release “Balls to the Wall.”
Teutonic Rockers Rock Teutonically
“Balls to the Wall”, the 1983 release of German heavy metal (this is early 80s heavy metal, you know, hair band style, guitar-riff ridden, yet totally dissimilar to today’s heavy metal) band, Accept, was something about something that was perceived by the general, long-haired, teenie-bopping, snakeskin pants & bandana-wearing youth of the time as something about something else.
For this particular album, early 80s heavy metal band Accept did, in fact, choose the album title of “Balls to the Wall”, but they may as well have entitled it “Balls to the Wall and Eleven Other Songs That Nobody Else Will Ever Give a Flip About in Thirty Years”. So why bother to talk about the other songs, let’s just stick to the meat ‘n potatoes (or, alternately, FRANKS ‘N BEANS! FRANKS ‘N BEANS!)
“Balls to the Wall” was, retrospectively, a silly, laughable song with jejune, juvenile lyrics that could only be appreciated by angst-ridden teenagers of the era, or creepy, disturbing, semi-literate faux weevils thirty years later, but nevertheless, it is a misunderstood song.
According to the band, the song “Balls to the Wall” was focused around oppression, repression, depression, impression, and whatever-other-‘pression’ you can muster surrounding the plight of East Germans in the Soviet-controlled puppet government of the time. “The Wall” was not just any wall, it was the Berlin Wall, which gives it historical precedent to say something substantial and meaningful.
So what did they do? They sang their angst-ridden plea against oppression while simultaneously producing an MTV-friendly music video that essentially showed a bunch of leather-clad idiots dry humping some random wall. Boy howdy, let’s hear it for commercialism!
Balls to the Wall - MTV Friendly Music Video
Balls to the Wall – an Explication
I still get a kick out of the lyrics. I do believe that I saw something of substance in them at one time, but now what I see is humor. And it’s good humor!
Let’s analyze them:
Too many people do not see
They're killing themselves, going insane
Too many people do not know bondage is over the human race
They believe slaves always lose, and this fear keeps them down
Well, hey, actually this is a pretty nice start. Most slavery is of a self-imposed nature, but their slavery is government dictated. There’s something worthwhile in there. Maybe I’m underestimating the young Teutonic lads.
Watch the damned (God bless ya)
They're gonna break their chains (hey)
You can't stop them (God bless ya)
They're coming to get you
And then you'll get your balls to the wall
Actually, this is pretty cool, too. Maybe I was much brighter as a sixteen-year old than I am now and have been overtaken by cynicism and disdain of youth. Oppression is not just a part of society, it is something that chases you down, overtakes your mind, and does nasty, nasty things to your testicles (just ask Uday Hussein!)
You may screw their brains
You may sacrifice them too
You may mortify their flesh
You may rape them all
One day the tortured stand up and revolt against the evil
They make you drink your blood and tear yourself to pieces
Okay, I guess this is where it gets silly. Brain screwing? Flesh mortification? Rape? Revolt of the tortured? Blood drinking? Self piece-tearing?
These are some ridiculous-ass analogies. And I would explain exactly how they are silly and ridiculous, if I were not so busy, like, mortifying the flesh of others and drinking their blood.
Come on man, let's stand up all over the world
Let's plug a bomb in everyone's arse
If they don't keep us alive, we're gonna fight for the right
Build a wall with the bodies of the dead and you’re saved
Make the world scared
Come on, show me the sign of victory
Even now, in my advanced age, I was so close, EVER SO CLOSE, to accepting these lyrics (which is surely the goal of any band that calls themselves “Accept”, right?) until they got to the part about plugging a bomb up everyone’s arse.
C’mon, you silly Germanic warrior-rockers – surely there are SOME in this world who do not deserve a bomb plugged up their arse! What about Nelson Mandela, Anderson Cooper, and Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett? What have they ever done to merit a bomb plugged right up their poopers? Nothing, that’s what.
Get real, you silly, war-like barbarians.
So if you’d like to vicariously relive the emptiness of my youth, go purchase Accept’s 1983 release, “Balls to the Wall” and listen to it intently while trying with all your might to refrain from snickering.
The Lonely Remainder
Other songs on this album about which nobody gives a flying fishstick:
- London Leatherboys
- Fight It Back
- Head Over Heels
- Losing More Than You've Ever Had
- Love Child
- Turn Me On
- Losers And Winners
- Guardian Of The Night
- Head Over Heels (live)
- Love Child (live)