The cult following that’s grown up around Dust is about to get bigger. That’s because Sony Legacy has seen fit to reissue the proto-metal legends’ only two albums, 1971’s Dust and 1972’s Hard Attack, two highly influential documents of heavy blues-driven rock that had been out of print for eons. Time and neglect haven’t eroded their extraordinary power one bit.

Dust was, quite possibly, a bit too hasty in calling it quits so soon after the release of Hard Attack, but they moved on, hardly taking a moment to reflect on their brief existence. They were only teenagers when they formed, but the precocious threesome of Richie Wise, Marc Bell and Kenny Aaronson – plus Kenny Kerner, who helped out with production and songwriting – had a loud, fully-realized sonic vision in mind for Dust, but it wasn’t getting them anywhere. So, they parted, and Dust was history. Wise, the band’s guitarist, singer and main songwriter, went on to produce the first two KISS records with Kerner, his partner. Aaronson did session work for Dust’s label, Kama Sutra, and toured with just about everybody who was anybody in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including Bob Dylan, Edgar Winter, Billy Idol and Billy Squier, to name but a few. He also played with both the New York band Stories, who struck gold with the chart-topping single “Brother Louie,” and the short-lived super group HSAS, which stood for Hagar, Schon, Aaronson and Schrieve. And as for Bell, the drummer, he joined The Ramones in 1978. You might know him better as Marky Ramone.

Had the world known what they accomplish post-Dust, perhaps those records released in the dark ages of American heavy metal wouldn’t have fallen on deaf ears. And maybe, just maybe, Dust would have lived a little longer, changing the course of rock history forever. Alas, it was not to be, and with serious concerns about their management, their label and their future, Dust called it a day and everybody scattered to the four winds. And Dust and Hard Attack, they just sat on a shelf gathering … well, dust.

Remastered for maximum impact, the sound of these lost treasures – the product of good, solid songwriting – has been cleaned spotless and is fuller and richer than the original recordings. Hard Attack, in particular, comes on like a hurricane, with the untamed energy of “Ivory” – a rolling tank of an instrumental – and “All in All” whipping around as violently and furiously as any of the wild storms brewed up by The Who or Cream. Heavy weather is experienced on “Learning to Die” and “Full Away/So Many Times,” as well, with Aaronson’s muscular bass and Bell’s galloping drums racing with the wind. And the Sabbath-like “Suicide” swings a big hammer, one that could drive spikes through steel rails.

Variety spices up Hard Attack, however, as the exquisitely arranged ballad “Thusly Spoken” – blanketed in gorgeous strings and twinkling piano – might be the most sophisticated pop music Burt Bacharach never wrote. Golden flecks of bent steel pedal sparkle in the quiet acoustic country rumination “I Been Thinkin’” and its kissing cousin “How Many Horses,” giving Hard Attack some tasty twang.

Dust is the black sheep of the family, as “Love Me Hard,” “Chasin’ Ladies” and “Stone Woman” – all cut up by gliding, shooting stars of slide guitar – ramble on like Zeppelin in their prime. Nothing on either album, though, compares to the heavy, 9:53 psychedelic trip “From a Dry Camel” on Dust, a blustery, hallucinogenic dreamscape of alien shapes and a searing, extended guitar solo that goes deep into the recesses of the brain.

Handling dynamic shifts in tempo and mood with deft chops and synchronized charges into the breach, as a band, Dust was bold, adventurous and exceedingly confident of their abilities. Few would appreciate their talents when they were around. That’s what often happens with artists who are ahead of their time. But, eventually, the world catches up, and with this reissue, augmented by fantastic vintage memorabilia, along with concise, revealing liner notes comprised of passionate remembrances by band members, it seems the time is right to reassess the impact Dust had on heavy metal.


Label: Kama Sutra/Legacy (for CD format, click here)