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Album Analysis: Live Shit: Binge & Purge - Part 1 (Seattle)

By the 1970s, live concerts had become a cultural phenomenon. Attendance at live shows started to reach new heights as rock bands invaded the airwaves and clawed their way into the mainstream.


The surge in concert attendance and rock’s newfound popularity inevitably forged a path for a relatively new music medium: live albums. Once a format for only top tier music acts capable of drawing large audiences, the 1970s saw bands of all status - from superstars to the unknown - look to cash in on the music craze.


Countless rock bands shot to stardom on the back of live albums, as they captured a raw power and energy lacking from a lot of 1970s studio productions. Live albums by bands like KISS (Alive!), Thin Lizzy (Live and Dangerous), UFO (Strangers in the Night), and The Allman Brothers Band (At Fillmore East) are routinely cited by fans and critics as some of the best efforts from each band.

By the time Metallica had evolved into international rock stars with the release of the 1991 album Metallica (Black Album), the subsequent multi-year tour in support of it seemed to be the ideal time to release the first official live offering from the band.


In this series of articles, we’ll discuss the box set Live Shit: Binge & Purge by Metallica. We’ll briefly discuss the original box set and break down the gear used during the shows from both 1989 and 1992-1993. This is Part 1 that takes a look at the 1989 show in Seattle.


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Live Shit: Binge & Purge
 

THE BOX SET

The Live Shit: Binge & Purge box set was released on November 23, 1993. Being released just before the Christmas shopping season, the box became a “must have” item for every die hard Metallica fan. For many fans, it was an opportunity to immerse themselves into a Metallica concert for the first time.

The initial pressing of the box contained 3 VHS tapes of shows in San Diego, CA (Wherever We May Roam Tour, 1992) and Seattle, WA (Damaged Justice Tour, 1989), in addition to 3 cassettes or CDs featuring a show in Mexico City, Mexico (Nowhere Else to Roam Tour, 1993).

Original Box Set Advertisement, circa 1993

In addition to the concerts, the box set contained numerous additional things for fans: a t-shirt, written notes and band photographs, a “Scary Guy” logo stencil, a replica Snakepit Pass and more. It was the ultimate collectible item for Metallica fans.

Live Shit Box Set Contents
 

SEATTLE ‘89


Metallica recorded two shows at the Seattle Coliseum in Seattle, WA on back-to-back nights during the Damaged Justice Tour on August 29 and August 30, 1989. This blistering set showcased the thrash titans at the top of their genre on a tour when producer Bob Rock witnessed the band perform for the first time, attending the show initially to see The Cult on the bill.

James Hetfield - Guitar Rig

The rig used by Hetfield in Seattle ‘89 on the Damaged Justice Tour was an evolution on his prior live rig, but much less complex than the setup he would employ during the touring cycle for Metallica (Black Album).

The core of Hetfield’s live rig revolved around a pair of 1985 Mesa Boogie Mark IIC+ Simul-Class head units. The primary touring head unit was a Mark IIC++ head unit originally purchased by Hammett at the Mesa Boogie factory in 1985. Previously dubbed the “Lead A” head unit by Hammett, the amp was “borrowed” by Hetfield during the recording of And Justice for All and would subsequently become the primary recording head unit for future albums.

The backup head unit - featuring a red Metallica logo placed over top of the Mesa Boogie logo - was purchased by Hetfield and used during the Damage, Inc Tour during the touring cycle for Master of Puppets alongside the “Crunchberries“ amp. Crunchberries - despite being most closely associated with Hetfield - was no longer in use by 1989 and would not be used again until 2008s Death Magnetic.


Hetfield’s Seattle ‘89 Amps - Mesa Mark IIC++

During this era, Hetfield was using a more neutral setting on the Mark’s graphic EQ, using mostly a slight cut with the 750hz slider and instead deferred to a pair of external EQ units for the majority of his tone shaping.

Hetfield’s live settings on the Mesa Mark IIC++ in ‘89:


Volume 1 - 9 (Pulled)

Treble - 3.5 (Pulled)

Bass - 2.5

Middle - 0

Master - 7 (Pulled)

Lead Drive - 7 (Pulled)

Lead Master - 1.5 (Pulled)

Presence - 3


Given the nature of how the C++ saturates, this tour featured some of the highest gain settings that Hetfield has ever used live, as future albums and tours saw him use progressively less gain and shift his EQ focus.

Admin Note: Amp settings are given for reference only. Users will need to adjust settings in their own rigs to achieve similar tones - Jack B.


The C++ head unit was slaved into a pair of 1987-1988 Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 Power Amps for power. This is the first tour that would feature the Strategy 400, which would become the engine of Hetfield’s live sound for nearly the next 20 years.


Hetfield’s Mesa Strategy 400s in ‘89

Stacked below the Mesa Strategy 400s in the rack was a DOD R-830 (C Series) Graphic Equalizer. This series of rack EQ dates back to the early 1980s and was a mainstay in many touring rigs during the “big rack” era. In addition to tailoring tones, these EQs were also used to dip certain frequencies and help control feedback on stage at loud volumes. By this era, the DOD remained in Hetfield’s rack, but went largely unused in favor of other gear. It was not used during the Seattle show.


1980s DOD R-830 (C Series) Graphic EQ

James was historically a minimalist when it came to effects, and this tour was no exception. The primary effect used was a B&B Audio EQF-2 Parametric EQ mounted into an Aphex 4B-1 500 Series Chassis. This EQ, which Hetfield had 3 of in his rack (one for each amp plus a spare), provided the tonal shaping of the live sound. Hetfield and Hammett were first introduced to the EQF-2 by Flemming Rasmussen while tracking the Master of Puppets album.


Hetfield’s B&B EQF-2s in an Aphex 4B-1 Chassis

Two additional units formed the remainder of Hetfield’s Seattle rig: a Rocktron 300 Compressor/Limiter/HUSH II rack unit and an ADA 2FX Digital Multi-Effects unit.


The Rocktron 300 and similar units found their way into countless professional rigs in the ‘80s and ‘90s for noise suppression and sometimes compression. The ADA 2FX was featured prominently in Hetfield’s various racks for nearly 7-8 years, making it one of his longer tenured pieces of rack gear during tours!


Hetfield’s ADA 2FX & Rocktron 300

During this tour, Hetfield only used the Digital Delay portion of the ADA 2FX for delay sounds on the following settings:


Echo - 1024 MS Setting

Mix - 8:30

Feedback - 11:30 to 12:00

Multiplier - 8:30


The Rocktron 300 appeared to get minimal use, oftentimes placed in bypass mode or occasionally used only for the HUSH portion. However, Hetfield’s settings for reference during 1989 are as follows:


Compression - 11:00

Attack - 15 MS

Release - 1 SEC

Peak Limiter - 14 DB

Meter - Input Level Selected

HUSH II Threshold - Minus 30 dB

Output - Varied Per Show


For clean sounds, Hetfield had transitioned to using a 1980s (Made in USA) Roland JC-120 2X12 combo (not pictured). This amp would form the backbone of Metallica’s clean tones for years to come and become one of the most iconic pieces of gear associated with Hetfield.


For guitar cabs, Metallica still employed 1980s Marshall JCM 800 1960B 4X12 cabs which were the mainstay during the latter half of the 1980s. Previously using Celestion G12T-75 speakers, the JCM 800 cabs and Metallica had started to phase in Celestion Vintage 30s by 1989. With a variety of cabs available to choose from, the Seattle show could have been either speaker, though the G12T-75 seems the likeliest.


James Hetfield - Guitars


During the 1989 tour, Hetfield primarily used 3 guitars for the majority of shows. In prior years, Hetfield toured with a 1984 Gibson Explorer. By 1989, James had started a relationship with ESP and asked the company to build replicas of his Gibson. During this tour, Hetfield had transitioned to primarily using a trio of ESP Explorer guitars with EMG 81 (bridge) and EMG 60 (neck) pickups.


Hetfield’s ESP Explorer Guitars in 1989

We’ll take a deeper dive into the specifics of each during our upcoming “Gear Spotlight” featuring Hetfield’s ESPs.


Kirk Hammett - Guitar Rig


By the 1989 tour, Kirk’s live rig had went through a dramatic transformation from prior years and become much more sophisticated through the integration of midi equipped gear. This allowed him to dial in a more diverse array of tones on tour and more flexibility in the sounds used in each song.


The primary preamp used by Kirk was an ADA MP-1 Programmable Preamp. By 1989, the MP-1 had achieved near legendary status with rock and metal bands by providing a high gain, all-tube, hot rodded Marshall tone. In addition to high gain sounds, the MP-1 had a solid state clean channel and built-in chorus effect that was perfect for the era.


Much like Hetfield, Kirk also used a B&B Audio EQF-2 Parametric EQ mounted into an Aphex 4B-1 500 Series Chassis for dialing in some of his tones. The EQF-2 appeared to be dialed in for a specific sound, although another EQ unit (noted below) was the primary EQ used on tour.


Kirk’s ADA MP-1, EQF-2, and DBX Units

A Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner supplied power to the rack, stationed at the top. While James used the Rocktron 300 on the HUSH II setting to dial back some noise from his rig, Kirk opted for a DBX 463X Noise Gate on a moderate setting to keep stage noise to a minimum.


At the bottom of Kirk’s main rack was his primary EQ unit for the tour - an ADA MQ-1 Midi Programmable EQ. The MQ-1 is a perfect match for the MP-1, allowing users to dial in different EQ settings per midi patch.


In addition to the MQ-1 was a pair of processors that provided the bulk of Kirk’s effects on tour - a Yamaha SPX-90 II and a Roland DEP-5 Digital Effects Processor. Aside from some chorus patches used with the ADA MP-1’s built-in chorus effect, the SPX-90 II and DEP-5 supplied the remaining chorus, delay, and reverb used by Kirk.


Yamaha, Rane, Roland, and ADA MQ-1

While using his new midi switching system to control his rig, a Rane SM-26 Splitter & Mixer was used to blend Kirk’s effects into the mix.


Hammett’s second rack was the “power rack” and contained his power amps, switching system, and backup gear for the tour. The second rack was powered by a Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner like the main amp rack. The lynchpin of his switching system was a Mesa Boogie Midi Matrix that was used by many Boogie endorsed artists in the era. It was Mesa’s first foray into the world of midi.


Furman, Mesa Boogie, and Rane Units

Kirk kept a Mesa Boogie Studio Preamp in his power rack as a backup unit to his ADA MP-1. In the spirit of duplicate gear, Hammett also had a Rane GE 27 Graphic EQ (with an aptly titled “MORE CRUNCH” note applied) as a backup to his primary EQ units.


In identical fashion to Hetfield, Kirk’s rig was powered by a pair of 1987-1988 Mesa Boogie Strategy 400 Power Amps and routed into similar 1980s Marshall JCM 800 1960B 4X12 cabs.


Kirk’s Mesa Strategy 400s in ‘89

Unlike Hetfield and his minimalist approach to touring tones, Hammett utilized a pedalboard with more presets as well as a few additional effects that were placed in the front of the signal chain.


At the front of Kirk’s signal chain on his pedalboard was a Dunlop Crybaby Wah pedal. Although impossible to tell the specific model, it appears to be a standard issue 1980s Dunlop model. The Crybaby was then routed into an early 1980s Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer that sat on top of the pedalboard. Kirk used the TS-9 as a lead boost for additional saturation and sustain. Although specific settings varied frequently, common settings found on Kirk’s TS-9 are as follows:


Level - 10:00 to 1:00

Tone - 10:00 to 12:00

Drive - 10:00 to 1:00


Kirk’s Pedalboard, TS-9, and Wah in ‘89

Hammett had 4 main patches noted on his board, titled KILL, CLEAN, CRUNCH, and DEATH TONE. The “death tone” patch became a staple in Kirk’s rig over the years, although it took on many names and various forms. It’s essentially an extremely distorted patch - the highest gain one that is programmed - and used when he wanted an ultra saturated patch that was beyond the norm.


In addition to random notes from his tech, there were dedicated switches for effects such as SHORT ECHO and LONG ECHO that allowed Kirk to toggle an effect on and off outside of the primary patch changes. It’s the foundation of what would become a larger and more complicated setup on subsequent tours.


Kirk Hammett - Guitars


Kirk used a variety of guitars throughout 1989, and we’re highlighting a few that were used used prominently.


One guitar used by by Kirk was his 1985 Jackson “Randy Rhoads” V with EMG 81 pickups. Hammett originally acquired this guitar from Jackson with a portion of the advance money given to the band after signing to Elektra Records. He also utilized a 1988 Tom Anderson ProAM Strat style guitar with an EMG 81 pickup in the bridge and Ultrasonic pickups in the neck and middle positions.


This also marked the early stages of a new relationship and endorsement with ESP Guitars, as Kirk showcased a new signature model with EMG 81 pickups that would evolve into his “KH” signature. Hammett also acquired a 1988 Gibson Les Paul Custom around this time (with EMG 81 pickups added) that would feature prominently in multiple tours and albums to come.


Kirk’s Jackson, Tom Anderson, and ESP

The ‘89 tour showcased Metallica as a band on the rise and is often cited by fans as one of their finest moments on tour. It would be the tour that Bob Rock witnessed, leading to a collaboration that would see Metallica become the top rock and metal act in the world with the release of Metallica (Black Album). The accompanying tour in the early ‘90s is the stuff of legend and a band that lived on the road. It’s also the topic of “Live Shit - Part 2” coming soon.


If there are aspects of the Seattle ‘89 show not covered here that you’re curious about, please leave a comment or send a message. We can edit the article to include additional information if there is a demand for it. We will also update the article with any additional information found that is confirmed.


Also, please check out our other articles for a detailed analysis on other Metallica gear, album breakdowns, and more. Thanks for reading!

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