How $5.98 Made Metallica Millions

The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited
The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Metallica may have been the band to change the mainstream’s minds about the so-called thrash metal movement, but they did it in the UK not through (3rd album) the magnificent Master of Puppets, but by the follow up. And no, I don’t mean …And Justice For All.

Master of Puppets made the top fifty in the UK album charts and was a clear sign Metallica were making progress. But to put that into context, Iron Maiden were going straight to number three with Somewhere In Time the same year. It was going to take more than just another record for Metallica to win over the unconverted.

I think it was the $5.98 Garage Days Re-Revisited EP that made the difference.

The background to the record starts with Cliff Burton’s tragic death. The grief stricken band recruited Jason Newstead from Flotsam and Jetsam, a band that had not long received an unprecedented, not to mention unwarranted, “six Ks” (out of five) album review from Kerrang! magazine. They needed a team bonding session, so famously went out and soundproofed Lars’ garage, (with the exception of Kirk, according to the sleeve notes) covered it in old carpets, (and presumably old egg-boxes: everyone uses egg-boxes when soundproofing things – it’s a well known Fact). The band rehearsed some old NWOBHM tunes by Diamond Head and punk songs by The Misfits amongst others, and quickly recorded the songs in a studio. Stripped of the clever ’80’s production of Master of Puppets, and playing other people’s songs, the heavier riffs made the band more accessible to those who didn’t get thrash.

The $5.98 EP was the moment the pendulum swung in their favour. Just a collection of old cover songs…

The song that convinced both me and my friends in particular was Crash Course In Brain Surgery. It Swung. Heavy monster riff, great rhythm, quite funny in the middle. You couldn’t help but smile at such a heavy groove. I played the EP to my sceptical friends, looking to convert them to this new music. It wasn’t until they heard this song that I could see the penny drop and it all made sense. It may not be as well known a track as Enter Sandman or One, but it was every bit as important in Metallica’s story…

Free Speech For The Dumb was almost as good. Less Metallica, more Neanderthalica. In a good way. Just two chords. Sometimes you don’t need three. A pounding, pounding drum sound. Just a huge song. We sat around with big grins on our faces – my friends had found a great new band.

The EP also made the band more accessible. Were they mocking the great Iron Maiden at the end of Last Caress/Green Hell by playing an out of tune Run To The Hills?! Why did they whoop and act daft during Crash Course In Brain Surgery? Suddenly these angry looking thrash dudes appeared almost human…

A 1987 Donington appearance supporting Bon Jovi (yes – really) then impressed many, (including me) and the hearts and minds of the UK’s metal-heads had been won. Every new studio record Metallica released after that went top ten in the UK…

The $5.98 EP is a rare example of right record, right place, right time. It was instrumental in Metallica’s subsequent success. Why not remind yourself how good it is and play it right now…?

Record #90. : Metallica – Crash Course In Brain Surgery





12 responses to “How $5.98 Made Metallica Millions”

  1. danalani Avatar

    Great post! As someone who’s always a bit ‘on the fence’ about Metallica, it definitely sounds like I need to check this EP out.


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Thanks for reading – I’m glad it has encouraged you to dig out the EP.


  2. philliphelbig Avatar

    The links to the previous and next posts and the RSS feed for new posts land in the middle, not at the top of the page. Also, the comments RSS goes to the top of the comments and not to the latest comment. I don’t see this anywhere else.


  3. mikeladano Avatar

    That was great. I still love this EP, I value it very highly in the Metallicatalogue.

    I recall when the EP went out of print in the 90’s, when we happened upon one, we could get $50 for a used copy easily. Only when Garage Inc came out in ’98 did its value go down slightly.


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      $50! Wow. Remember the days when records got deleted and you couldn’t get them….


      1. mikeladano Avatar

        Traveling Wilburys was another $50 CD as well. It was out of print for most of the 90’s I believe. The soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans was another one. We could sell that one used for $20 which was about twice the usual.


      2. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

        I bought The Wilbury’s LP (mint) for £1 about six months ago…


      3. mikeladano Avatar

        Wow! Nice find, good condition?


  4. mikeladano Avatar

    Duh, I see where you said “mint”… 🙂


  5. Mike Wallace Avatar
    Mike Wallace

    “Free speech for the Dumb” wasn’t on Garage Days, but great article non-the-less.

    Helpless, The Small Hours, The Wait, Crash Course in Brain Surgery and Last Caress/Green Hell.

    Oh yeahy yeah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Blimey, you’re right! That was on the Garage Days Re-visited LP. Funny a) how memory plays tricks and b) it took 5 years for anyone to notice – so well done you!


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