Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 68: Mantas

Jeff “Mantas” Dunn co-founded British heavy metal band Venom in 1978. When they released their 1981 debut album “Welcome to Hell” they changed metal forever. Venom had a massive impact on thrash metal and all forms of extreme metal. The black metal sub-genre got its name from Venom’s second album. In addition to his pioneering work with Venom, Jeff has released albums and toured with his own band Mantas and reunited with former Venom frontman Tony “The Demolition Man” Dolan in the band M-Pire of Evil. The two Venom brothers are now carrying on the Venom legacy in the band Venom Inc. Venom Inc released its debut album “Avé” in 2017 and has toured globally. A new album is currently in production. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Mantas to hear about the five albums that changed his life.

T. Rex “Ride a White Swan” (1972)

“The first album I bought as a kid with my own allowance money. My first immediate memory of this album is the majestic ‘King of the Rumbling Spires’. Released on Music For Pleasure/Fly Recordings and produced by Tony Visconti, probably the most notable songs on this album are the title track and the simply brilliant ‘Debora’. At this point all I had was magazines with photos of Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn, I had no idea what their performance was like. Then one day I vividly remember being at primary school on a rainy day and because we couldn’t go into the playground at break time the teacher put the radio on for us. It was the top 10 countdown and I waited eagerly to see if my favourite song, T Rex’s new single, at that time would be number 1. ‘And this week’s number 1 is, ‘Metal Guru’ by T Rex! This meant a guaranteed appearance on the BBC Thursday evening show ’Top of the Pops’ and that was my first ‘live’ visual experience of Marc Bolan. I’m still a fan to this day and have often wondered where his music would have gone had he still been with us. In mannerisms and movement, he could have been the prototype for Paul Stanley. But more than anything he was a great and innovative songwriter.”

Slade “Slayed?” (1972)

“Bought for me by my parents as a Christmas gift. Slade were definitely my first favourite band. Great guitar driven rock’n’roll with that voice that could break the sound barrier. ‘The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazee’, ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’, ‘Gudbye T’Jane’… One of the most consistently successful bands of the glam era of the 70s and this album, for me as a young fan way back then, was just pure Slade. As a footnote, is it just me or was there some similarities between the costumes of Dave Hill and Ace Frehley, hmm, I wonder? Actually, I think my first experience of what I would call a guitar solo was on the track ‘Look Wot You Dun’.”

KISS “Hotter than Hell” (1974)

“My first KISS album, again bought with my allowance money from a department store in Newcastle. I still have that original copy and, apart from ‘Alive!’, definitely my favourite early KISS album purely for the concept of it and the memories it evokes. Whilst flipping through the vinyls in a city centre department store as a kid looking for some heavy music, I landed upon a battered copy of ‘Alive!’. I was fascinated by the creatures on the cover and was desperate to hear what they sounded like. Unfortunately, the money in my pocket wouldn’t stretch to the cost of this album but right behind was an equally battered copy of ‘Hotter than Hell’. Now this I could afford and so the purchase was made and as soon as that needle hit the groove I was hooked – instant KISS fan! This album probably doesn’t contain my absolute favourite KISS songs but it is the album that I clearly remember purchasing and the effect it had on me from the first listen. It still contains some great material though.”

Judas Priest “Unleashed in the East” (1979)

“I first saw Priest in 1979 and that night changed my life and this album captures them perfectly, even if there are overdubs. Who cares? it sounds great. Early Venom used to play ‘The Green Manalishi’, albeit a Peter Green song. For me ‘Exciter’ was most certainly the first double bass drum song I ever heard. ‘Sinner’ and ‘Victim of Changes’ are most definitely two of the high points of this album for me and who can deny the absolute genius of ‘The Ripper’? I’ve been loyal to Priest ever since and it’s no secret that KK Downing was a huge influence on me and in some way became a distant mentor as I began my journey in the world of bands and music.”

Motörhead “Overkill” (1979)

“An album that had more influence on my early songwriting than I realised and the first line-up of Venom with Clive Archer on vocals used to perform a very respectable version of ‘No Class’. It was only years later when re-recording some of the Venom classics and analysing the songs that I realised just how much of an influence Fast Eddie Clarke’s playing was in my early songwriting attempts. That loose clanging rhythm and blues infused solos certainly must have soaked into my musical subconscious. As a side note of interest, when I returned home with my newly acquired copy of ‘Overkill’, I eagerly opened it to discover to my delight that it was green vinyl. I still have it in my collection today.”