Y & T App: Classic Metal Gets a 21st Century Upgrade

We knew there would be some Decibel dissenters when we bagged on 10 albums that we wouldn’t be celebrating the 30th anniversary of in 2012. And, sure enough, we were taken to task for, among others, including Y&T’s Black Tiger. Not surprisingly, 2012 rolls around and, lo and behold, there’s an app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch that does what we were shunning. Behold the “Ye Olde Metal: Y&T’s Black Tiger” app.

We’re OK eating a little crow on this one, just because this app features the writing of metal author/expert Martin Popoff, whose dozens of books are essential reading. In fact, the genesis of this app sprung from his “Ye Olde Metal” series of tomes, where he does his own version of the Decibel Hall of Fame, interviewing band members about the making of classic hard rock and metal albums.

Popoff has taken that idea off the static pages of a book and turned it into an in-depth, multi-media exploration of a beloved record. The Black Tiger app includes extensive audio of guitarist/vocalist Dave Meniketti describing how the album was recorded and is enriched by photos from 1982, including pictures of the Black Tiger recording sessions from Meniketti’s personal archives.

Popoff gave us the details on how this app came about and what his involvement was.

What was your part in the development of the Black Tiger app?
This is all a buddy’s doing, Chris Pike in New Zealand. He put together a free app for Budgie’s Bandolier album, and he’s bought some of my books. Basically, I have a book series of five books so far called Ye Olde Metal, but I also have a couple dozen shelved, waiting essays or chapters, and Black Tiger was one of them. So I guess my part was supplying all the text, and then Chris took it from there, put together a cool little discography of the album, found a bunch of images, even contacted Dave [Meniketti] and [his wife] Jill. We’ve now got three more of these we’re trying. But yeah, I also wrote a fresh review of the album and even a weird little essay arguing how Y&T were honorary members of the NWOBHM.

Of all the classic metal albums and bands you’ve written about, why Y&T?
Y&T is near and dear to my heart as I bought the first album back in ‘76 as a new release and never looked back. [It was a] very heavy record for 1976; I was pleased. As well, it depends on having the interview footage, and Dave is a great guy and was obliging, forthcoming, patient, over the various interviews I’ve done with him, giving the stories on old songs and the making of some of these old albums. I’ve even got a chapter on the band’s second album, Struck Down, in Ye Olde Metal: 1978.

How would you describe the experience that this app offers fans?
Well, I’ve always been hesitant to call it an app. It’s really just a glorified short eBook, or even eChapter. However, there is a little bit of video footage, it is full-color, which, these days in heavy metal publishing, things in physical form are usually black and white. But I guess the main difference is there’s quite a bit of audio from my interview tapes with Dave. But like I say, I feel more comfortable calling this just some sort of tiny eBook, and that’s why the future ones we’re trying, we’re gonna skip any bells and whistles. I mean, there is no videogame component of this thing where members of Y&T try to shoot down wardrobe suggestions from record company fluffers.

If you had access to any band to do an app on their album, what would it be?
Top of the food chain for me, forever and a day, is Led Zeppelin. Depending on my mood, I often say that Physical Graffiti is the greatest album of all time, and yes, I’ve never interviewed Robert Plant or Jimmy Page, although I have managed to snag John Paul Jones a couple times. That, in fact, is the only book I’ve ever really considered seriously contacting those 33 1/3 people about doing one of those things. I also wouldn’t be adverse to the three surviving members of Queen giving me a call and talking about Jazz or the first album. Never talked to anybody from Queen. It’s now to the point that after so many years, I even get a thrill when Brian’s publicist writes me back and says no.

Have you started working on an app that turns Y&T’s horrible “Summertime Girls” into a good song?
That’s way beyond the technical abilities of my partner Chris Pike, let alone me, who doesn’t even have a cell phone yet, joined Facebook three months ago, and still hasn’t done Twitter. Nor can get his Skype to work properly. No, and that’s another cool thing about Dave Meniketti. He has the good sense and perspective to look at the later Y&T albums and realize that the band was jerked around, compromised, did things various record companies wanted them to do. Fact of the matter is, they were Van Halen before Van Halen, and could’ve been just as huge. Great drummer in Leonard (Vinnie, Bonham, Alex all in one), gravity-defying songs, especially on Struck Down and Earthshaker, killer vocals—Dave sounds a lot like Sammy Hagar, doesn’t he? Looked good, the whole package. Like King’s X or Love/Hate or Riot, another honorary NWOBHM band, Y&T shoulda had a career sorta like Priest.