It’s hard to believe it’s been a quarter century, but here we are. When Puppets was released, I was hosting a metal show on a college radio station in Hamilton, Ontario, and my co-host and I immediately knew we were in the presence of greatness. For the better part of that year and the next, we played every track off that album during the show, at a time when the words "Metallica" and "radio" were never spoken in the same sentence.
Mike Meyer at the Phoenix New Times has just launched a 10-part series on the best thrash metal albums of 1986, starting with Puppets.
Meyer connected with producer Flemming Rasmussen to discuss Metallica’s masterpiece; Flemming also produced “Ride The Lightning,” as well as “…And Justice For All.”
Here’s a sample of the interview:
Phoenix New Times (PNT): Master of Puppets is widely regarded as one of the best heavy metal albums of all time. Did you know you were onto something special when you were working on it 25 years ago?
Flemming Rasmussen (FR): Oh yes. Right from the demos, we pretty much knew this was gonna be a killer album. I think we all felt that this was gonna be the best Metallica album yet, as we had a bunch of really strong songs. Even the instrumentals were awesome.
PNT: Puppets was the last album to feature the late Cliff Burton on bass. Were you very close to him? How did his death affect you? Was it any different working on ...And Justice for All after Jason Newstead had joined the band?
FR: No, I wouldn't say I was close to Cliff, as he was spending the least amount of time in the studio, but it affected me greatly when he died. He was surely one of a kind, and even though Jason is a great bass player, it was impossible to fill out Cliff's shoes. Jason is a bass player in his own right, and never got the recognition he deserved.
PNT: You produced three consecutive Metallica albums - Ride the Lightning, Puppets and Justice - but they have three distinctly different sounds. Was that a conscious decision by you and the band?
FR: Yes. The difference between Ride and Master is evolution, as Master is a perfection of the sound we started to evolve on Ride. And in my opinion, we did really master it on Master. That album sounds so good. When I got onto the Justice album, they were a month into the session, and it was a new studio, etc., so we decided on a more up-front and dry sound. As for the mix, they had already hired someone else to do this, so I had no say in that. But it's still a classic metal album, and the sound has inspired a whole new generation of metal bands.
Meyers also caught up with Jim Brautigam, the son of artist Don Brautigam, who painted the iconic cover for Puppets. Don, who passed away in 2008 from stomach cancer, also painted album covers for Mötley Crüe's "Dr. Feelgood" and AC/DC's "The Razor's Edge,", as well as numerous book covers for such authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz.
Check out the full deal at Phoenix New Times here.
Metallica – Master Of Puppets
Cliff ‘Em All DVD (1987)
Metallica: Big 4 announce Sweden date
Metallica guitarist featured in absent fathers film
Metallica: Big 4 show announced for Germany, more to come