The first part of my series arrived, where I try to uncover and share obscure hard rock, prog, psychedelic, blues rock and proto-metal tracks which might evaded your attention yet. As in the future, I will explore a bit the bands collected in The Day After Sabbath blog, currently from the opening compilation.
Now, lets turn back the hands on the clock tower to reveal its hidden treasures!
1. Captain Beyond
- Self-titled album (1972)
- Drifting in space (1973) – from Sufficiently Breathless
- Icarus (1976) – from Dawn Explosion
- Gotta Move (2000) – from Night Train Calling
2. Carmen Maki & Blues Creation/Creation
- Tobacco Road (1971) – from Blues Creation Live
- St. James Infirmary (1971) – from Carmen Maki & Blues Creation
- Mean old boogie (1971) – from Carmen Maki & Blues Creation
- Magic Lady (1975) – from Creation aka: Chestnut Thornback Shaun
- Secret Power (1976) – from Creation with Felix Pappalardi
- Happenings ten years ago (1977) – from Pure Electric Soul
- Fustration (1972) – from Jerusalem
- She came like a bat from hell (1972) – from Jerusalem
- Master Headache (1970) – from Kingdom Come
- Hard Rain Fallin’ (1970) – from Kingdom Come
- Pumped Up (1970) – from Kingdom Come
- Lake Isle of Isle of Innersfree (1970) – from Kingdom Come
- I Got a Woman (1970) – from Kingdom Come
- Chicago lives (1971) – from Sir Lord Baltimore
- Where are we going (1971) – from Sir Lord Baltimore
- Woman Tamer (1971) – from Sir Lord Baltimore
- Fill the world with Fire (2006) – from Sir Lord Baltimore III
5. Tear Gas
- Mirror of Sorrow (1970) – from Piggy go getter
- That’s What’s Real (1971) – from Tear Gas
- Love Story (1971) – from Tear Gas
- Lay it on me (1971) – from Tear Gas
- The first time (1971) – from Tear Gas
- Jailhouse rock / All shook up (1971) – from Tear Gas
- Boogie for George (1970) – from UFO 1
- C’mon everybody (1971) – from Live
- Doctor, Doctor (1974) – from Phenomenon
- Space Child (1974) – from Phenomenon
- Rock Bottom (1979) – from Strangers in the Night
- Queen of the Deep (1974) – from Phenomenon
- Love, lost Love (1975) – from Force it
- Out in the street (1979) – from Strangers in the Night
- Mother Mary (1979) – from Strangers in the Night
- Natural Thing (1979) – from Strangers in the Night
- Can you Roll Her (1976) – from No heavy petting
- Lights Out (1977) – from Lights Out
- Love to Love (1977) – from Lights Out
- Pack it up and go (1978) – form Obsession
- Anyday (1980) – from No place to run
- Mystery train (1980) – from No place to run
- Makin Moves (1981) – from The Wild, the Willing & the Innocent
- We belong to the night (1984) – from Headstone: Live from Hammersmith
- Diesel in the Dust (1983) – from Making Contact
- Between a rock & a hard place (1989) – from Miss Demeanor
- Borderline (1992) – from High stakes & Dangerous Men
- Runnin up the highway (1993) – from Lights Out in Tokyo: Live
- Venus (1995) – from Walk on Water
- Smell of Money (1999) – from Covenant
- Outlaw man (2001) – form Sharks
- Black Cold Coffe (2004) – from You are here
- Saving me (2009) – from The Visitor
- Castle of Thoughts (1972) – from Bloodrock Live
- Dier, not a lover (1970) – from Bloodrock 2
- Jessica (1971) – from Bloodrock 3
- Crazy ’bout you, Baby (1971) – from Bloodrock USA
- Scottsman (1972) – from Passage
- Eleanor Rigby (1974) – from Wihrlwind Tounges
- Mother Grease, the cat (1970) – from Women and Children first
- Sing for You (circa 1970) – from single Sing for You / R.I.P.
- Crazy Woman (1972) – from Mournin
- Death of a Country (1971) – from Death of Country
- Come with me (1971) – from Bang
- Mother (1972) – from Mother/Bow to the King
- Keep on (1972) – from Mother/Bow to the King
- Don’t need nobody (1973) – from Music
- The Maze (2004) – from The Maze
- Ballad of Irvin Fink (1971) – from Dead Forever…
- The Prophet (1972) – from Volcanic Rock
- I’m coming on (1973) – from Only want you for your body
- Dune Messiah (1973) – from Only want you for your body
- Paranoid (1974) – live TV broadcast
- Long time gone (1974) – from Mother’s choice
- Essukay (1974) – from Mother’s choice
- Hotel Ladies (1977) – from Average rock’n’roller
- Growers of Mushroom album (1971)
- Overtime (2007) – from Unleashed
- Breakthrough (2007) – from Unleashed
- Comics (1969) – from Churchill’s
- Double Concerto (1970) – from Churchil Sebastian Bach: Coral for Young Lovers/Double Concerto (single)
- Living Loving Maid (1970) – from Signs of You/Living Loving (single)
- Freedom (1971) – from Junkies Monkeys & Donkeys
- Time is now (1971) – from Junkies Monkeys & Donkeys
- Don’t let me down (1972) – from Jericho
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Captain Beyond, one of the lest known super groups of the 70’s. Formed by four “ex”, the singer Rod Evans (ex-Deep Purple), drummer Bobby Caldwell (ex-Johnny Winter), guitarist Larry “Rhino” Reinhart and bass player Lee Dorman (both ex-Iron Butterfly) in 1972, they produced three albums until their disband in 1977.
For the lovers of raw, hard rocking riffs, intelligent rhythmic solutions and breaks and driving tempo songs, their first album suggested – in whole length! The album itself structured by song groups and standalone tracks. The later ones (Mesmerization Eclipse, Raging River of Fear) could be considered as completed songs, while in the song groups (for example the opening Dancing Madly Backwards – Armworth – Mycopic Void trio) the opening and closing tracks form a frame with a returning (but slightly changed) main theme, surrounding one (ore more) song with a different tempo, style and impression. While the standalone tracks (as the name states) are effective alone, the other songs require to be listened with their companions to reveal their real depth.
In their second album, Sufficiently Breathless (1973), drummer Bobby Caldwell left the band for Rick Derringer and Johnny Winter (we might meet with him in a later post) and had been replaced by Brian Glascock (The Gods, Toe Fat, Bee Gees)
Also the style moved to a more sophisticated progressive direction, leaving raw hard rock sound behind. Due to this, the album could be a disappointment after its energetic predecessor (still, it might worth a try for prog. rock fans). It could be easily overlooked, but for some moments the band looked back to their driving tempos and energy, specially appearing in their “Drifting in Space”.
The following years were eventful for the band – old drummer came back, singer Rod Evans left the band, an arrival of a new singer (Willy Dafern) and at last, in 1977, the band’s last album appeared – and vanished in the history, without leaving too much impact on it. This could be partly due to the lack of memorable parts in the songs. They tried to continue the progressive rock direction while implementing more element (rhythm changes, guitar sound) from their first album, but in the meantime they greyed into middle tempo songs without any energy. To show this, I introduce the (personally) best song from the album, Icarus.
To close their story, I also share a bit about their last piece of their history. After touring with their third album, they disbanded in 1978. 20 years later however, the guitarist Rino and drummer Bobby Caldwell once again united their forces to create an EP of new Captain Beyond songs. Although either Rino and/or Caldwell resurrects the band with different members since then (they still active under Caldwell’s leadership), but as this EP was their last release containing new songs, I focus on this. This record is full of surprises – for example Caldwell also singing on it! On the other hand, they changed once again their style, this time AOR dominating on their recording. Sadly they made only an EP,
so very limited material became available for the fans this time. I chose a driving tempo AOR-ish hard rock track, which one’s title showing us the action we must do now:
More to read:
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Moving to Blues Creation (or Creation), let me introduce one of the best blues/hard rock (and a bit of fusion jazz) band of Japan! The core of this group of is the guitarist/singer Kazuo Takeda, who still takes care about the band – especially hard-working deleting the YouTube contents related to this band (and the channels as well), so probably you won’t find always find the attached links working (in that case, let me know and I try to replace them if it’s possible). The lineups constantly changed around him, but some important characters appeared around him, as we will see it later.
The band started it’s career by playing blues covers and they released their first, self-titled album in 1969 containing only blues covers. If you are interested about that songs, I would suggest to check out their live album from 1971, where they are already incorporated their hard rock sound and spiced up these covers with great jams.
In the next example there’s also challenge: which Deep Purple classic’s main riff is hidden within it? (around 1:40-2:00)
After the debut, they shifted their sounds a bit and released their “Demon & Eleven Children” 1971, which now contained not only self-written materials, but the blues rock sound also get mixed up with energetic, hard rocking parts and fine tempo changing, with some psychedelia and even with proto-doom! The best example of it the title track.
At the same year, the band released an other album, where they backed a Japanese singer Carmen Maki. This was one of their best decisions, as the constant weak point of them was the relatively weak vocal abilities (compared to their musical virtuosity), while Maki has a beautiful and at the same time very strong, Janis Joplin-like voice and this backing band made her available to present her full vocal range thorough this album. Sadly, Rich Aftersabbath already used the two harder rocking, up-tempo songs from the album, so I need to share other stuffs from here. Right, but what else then?
For example, one of the slow blues tracks, where both Maki and Takeda shows their incredible handling and shaping this old style. Listen it by yourself!
Luckily, they also provided a good old boogie as well, to shake us up and specially after the first minute provide some hidden hard rock gem from their cooperation.
Later, they decided to shorten their name to Creation and they even moved to L.A in the USA. The shortening of the name already marked their shift in their sound and style. Not to speak about the controversial album cover with the urinating boys!
Let’s listen to the Magic Lady, who couldn’t hide her American influences:
There they met with the Mountain’s ex-bass player, Felix Pappalardi (you can probably meet with him and his original band in a post later) who just wanted to find some refined (and much quieter compared to his last band) music style and invited Takeda and his group into his studio and recorded an album with them. Sadly (from our point) the harder/bluesier sound almost totally disappeared and slick, poppy, smooth jazz tracks took its place. Luckily for us, Pappalardi and Takeda couldn’t hide their roots always away and provided a harder track with Pappalardi’s slowly hulking monstrous bass line, Takeda’s bluesy guitar solo and delta-blues bends in the singing.
After this point, the band recorded more albums, which (partly due to the constantly changing lineups and styles) rather acted as Takeda’s solo project. By Pappalardi’s influence he discovered smooth jazz, pop, even they played disco under the Creation name and still appear under this band name as a fusion jazz act (where once again he found his great form, but I don’t think it would fit to the blog’s theme. But here you can check it).
However, lets take a last look to the band at their Pure Electric Soul album in 1977, where even they take a look back to their former career and summon their hard rocking sound (and their above mentioned, controversial album cover) with a Yardbirds cover, while mix it with their new influences and closing their harder sounding era with it.
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As we continue our journey through the obscure records, we arrive to our first one-album band, the British Jerusalem.
Not too much is known about them, except the lineup (Paul Dean – Bass; Ray Sparrow – Drums; Bill Hinde & Bob Cooke – Guitar and Lynden Williams – vocals) and they played in the 70’s in Europa with Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, Status Quo and Deep Purple. The last band is not so surprisingly, if we take into account, that their manager and producer was Ian Gillan from the Purple!
How did they sounded? They mixed hard rock with proto-metal and doom, with crude-sounding guitars and shouting, aggressive vocals. While this sounds good in writing, it doesn’t do the same in reality. The production is weak (while even Gillan admires that he intended to capture their raw sound, but he had fallen over the other side of the wall), the guitars are crude, the drums sound sloppy. Personally, I also not a great fan of this album, as I’m rather a hard rock than a proto-metal fan and it annoys me when very interesting ideas just cut for the sake of proto-metal and moody exploitation (just as happens in Beyond the grave)
Still, there are some very good riffs on the album and personally I feel the opening song – Fustration – as one of the strongest song on the album with great guitar solo (and at point, the song tips into a proto Sex Pistols preview)!
Also the other hard rocking song is the closing She came like a bat from hell, forming a frame in terms of style with the opening song – and maybe a forerunner of the future events? The band later split and Dean, Sparrow & Hinde formed a hard rock power trio under the name Pussy and released only one, much more hard rock oriented album (maybe we can take a look at them later). But for now, let’s say goodbye to this obscure band with their aforementioned song.
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Sir Lord Baltimore – they are definitively unique gem in our compilation for several reasons. First of all, they have a rather interesting name (based on one character from Paul Newman’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) which influenced later bands to select similarly weird name (for example Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell). Secondly, they were the second band (and the first really obscure one), which one’s genre were defined as heavy metal in a review by a journalist.
However, these guys (Louis Dambra – guitar, Gary Justin – bass, John Garner – vocals and drums) rather played energetic hard rock in a power-trio form, incorporating blues and psychedelic rock elements and intelligent and catchy rythm changes and killer but memorable riffs especially in their debut album. Listen it by yourself at the opening track!
Dambra and Garner (the two main persons of the band) started to play together during high school in Brooklyn, USA at 1968. Their initial formation, the Koala even made and released a psychedelic rock album in 1969. However, they were discovered by Mike Appel (later manager of Bruce Springsteen), who suggested them the current band name and recorded the debut album with them as co-producer. If the record sounds really good, it is partly due to the mixing of Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, AC/DC). Let’s take a look at the second track, Hard Rain is fallin’ and decide the quality!
The band filled their first album with songs filled by the similar manner. However, while a lot of obscurity proto-metal fans loves this album, I personally believe, that this albums consist a lot of great songs – and some mediocre as well.
The Lady of fire for example is rather a proto-pop-punk song, the Hell Hound loses its attractiveness due to Garners wailing
(and its even more true to the hysterical vocals of Helium Head).
But let’s focus now on the peak points of the album, because there are much more good here than bad!
My favourite song from this album is surprisingly not at all hard, as it is a harpsichord based ballad, but stands out from the hard rocking, fast paced songs with its heart-raising tune and gives some relaxation to the listener’s ears.
Let’s close this album with a driving, fast paced hard rock song with great drum fills which definitely make your feet to stomp
Due to the albums success (they even got to the US Top 200!), the band decided to make a follow up to the Kingdom Come.
The new – self titled – album shifted into a somewhat more polished sound, more intelligent songwriting and the introduction of Dambra’s brother as second guitarist (only for this album).
Great example for this the song Chicago lives, with its proto-NWOBHM guitar harmonies in the intro and great hard rock in the latter part.
One of the complaints which this album usually gets, is the lack of fast tempo tracks. Even if it’s true, that the album is rather dominated with the middle-paced tracks, overall it does not feels slow at all!
Decide by yourself from this pseudo-live cover of Queen’s Nectarine Machine:
While the songwriting definitely developed since the last album, the album got some doomy riffs as well and at some points (like in the opening Man from Manhattan) the band tried to put too much into one song and due to the listener could easily be lost at some points. However, this is not the case luckily at the most of the album. To prove this, I present my last chosen track from this album, the Woman Tamer.
The second album was less successful than it’s predecessor and the tensions began to rise (drug problems, the record company dropped them). Even though they started to work on the materials for a third album, it remained unfinished as they disbanded in 1976.
But the miracle of the life, that some stories get a proper ending at a time, when nobody expects it! 30 years after the disband, the drummer and the guitarist decided to reunite and give the then-unreleased songs a proper release.
At this point one can see some similarities with Captain Beyond (see above), as only a part of the musicians from the original line-up join their forces to resurrect the band name (in this case Garner and Dambra, helped out the ex-Whitesnake; ex- Blue Murderer bassist Tony Franklin), the music is shifted once again from the original style in some extent (the appearance of christian themed lyrics and the modern, grunge-like sound) and both reunion was short lived (after the recording Dambra went back to his clerical duties and Garner tries to keep the band name alive).
Let’s finish their story here and listen a parting song from them, as the Fill the world with Fire one last time!
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Tear Gas (earlier Mustard) was founded in Glasgow in 1969 as a progressive-hard rock band, with a lot of psych and folk influences. They were kind of a crib-band for talented musicians, who later gained fame in (more) successful groups. Founded by Andy Mulvey (vocals; ex-Poets), Gilson Lavis (drums), Chris Glen (vocals, bass) and Alexander “Zal” Clemison (guitar, vocals). Soon Lavris left the band with Mulvey and the vocalist David Batchelor (ex-Dream Police) and drummer Richard “Wullie” Monro (who worked with Ritchie Blackmore just before the founding of Deep Purple) replaced them, plus Eddie Campbell joined them as keyboardist (ex-The Beatstalkers).
This formation recorded the band’s first album, the Piggy go getter in 1970. Usually the obscure rock collectors don’t value too much this album by it’s contents, as the band tried to implement several styles in their music, but at the end, they failed to capture these essence and filled the album with not really memorable mediocre songs. However, one can find hidden treasues here as well, as in case of Mirror of Sorrow, which is the best song hidden on the back of the album.
Enjoy the hard rock music, the off-beat drumming and the groovy guitar and keyboard playing!
The first album was not successful, but the band move forward and polished it’s style – and made some changes in its lines as well. Bachelor, Monro and Campbell were left, but the Tear Gas – lineup round early 1971 remaining members recurited keyboardist Hugh McKenna, who invited his cousin, Ted McKenna for the drummer position.
This formation made the second – and final – album in 1971 which they named after the band. In comparison with it’s predecessor, the second album is rather raw sounding hard rock album, which showed a band that knew this time exactly, what they wanted. And they showed even by the opening track, That’s what real.
The following Love Story is a great hard rocking track, filled with Clemison’s guitar solos all over the song, listen it by yourself:
A very interesting song closes the album, partly referring to their first album’s styles and it’s bigger emphasis on keyboard work. Some of you might not like this song, but it contains some great musicianship and the mellow starting song soon shows, that Tear Gas didn’t forget about their harder rocking side as well.
Last, but not least, I would like to present my favourite track from the album, the covers of Jailhouse Rock/All shook up. These songs are played in the style of the Led Zeppelin and the band mix their styles incredibly with Zeppelin’s style.
After the release of the second album, the band played through the year 1971, but due to the lack of success the members disbanded in 1972 – in this name. However, the musicians stayed together and with the addition of guitarist Alex Harvey they founded the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (we shall meet with them in a later post) and gained at last some fame and success in the genre of glam rock. Chris Glen later joined to the Michael Schenker Group, just as drummer Ted McKenna did later (but he joined to Rory Ghallager’s side as well) and Clemison joined to Nazareth.
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One might argue for it is unnecessary to present UFO between the obscure bands and records, as they were pretty big act in their time (and still active); but one of my causes to run this blog is the fact, that the rarity searchers skip some acts just because they perceive them not rare – but what is well known for one, could be unknown for the other! Due to this, I decided that I will not present only the biggest, best known acts (e.g. Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, etc.) so that everybody can discover as much music and information from these genres as possible. However, as some readers might be already familiar with the bigger names (like UFO) and would like to focus on the real rarities, I will present the chance to them to skip these articles.
As for the band named after the Unidentified Flying Object, they have been formed in August 1969 in London. The line up consisted the singer Phil Mogg, bassist Pete Way, drummer Andy Parker and guitarist Mick Bolton. The band played raw hard rock with long solos (with Mick Bolton wah-based guitar sound) with sometimes monotone, but strong bass (Pete Way’s energetic finger-style bass-playing heavily influenced Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris) and drum backing, which shifted their sound in the early years into a space rock direction. If you wish to listen to their early style in more detail, I suggest to check their second album, UFO 2: Flying 1971. For the others, just check it out this early TV-broadcast from Boogie for George
Their first two album were successful in Japan, so it’s no surprise, that they even made their first live album there in 1971.
Let’s listen their biggest hit, the fast-paced cover of Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody
After the release of their first live album, guitarist Mick Bolton left the band, so the other members had to look for a replacement. For a brief period during 1972 Larry Wallis joined to the band (you can check his play in a french tv-broadcast), who later gained more fame as the member of Pink Fairies and the founding member of Motörhead. Then Bernie Mardsen joined (who later gain his fame as the guitarist of the early, blues rocker-era Whitesnake) for a short period; his play is kept by the demo version of Oh My, which later became the opening track of the band’s next studio album.
The right choice was a young German guitarist (18 at that time), Michael Schenker, who just supported UFO’s concert in Germany with his brother’s band, the Scorpions (yes, the ones, who became later famous with Rock you like a Hurricane and Wind of Change). He became officially the member at June 1973, but before going to the studio to record the next album, the band finished some shows with Schenker to see how he fits to the band (you can check him playing the hard rocker Prince Kajuku from the second album). He proved really soon, that he was the missing puzzle piece.
He had an unique image with his iconic Gibson Flying V guitars (originally borrowed from his brother) and a special stance, where he put the lower “wing” of the guitar between his legs, thus providing a very stable stance for playing, which became especially useful at solos.
He also proved his great abilities at songwriting by creating the first and biggest “hit” for the band, which is still in the repertoire of several bands. You might also find the song familiar if you have visited Iron Maiden concerts, as they use Doctor Doctor as an intro for their gigs.
However, Schenker proved that he is not only the master of hard rocking riffs, but a versatile guitarist as well, who can handle different genres without problem. Check it out the Pink Floyd-ish melancholia of Space Child!
All the above mentioned traits might have lead Schenker as a top guitarist, but what really made him a real guitar hero is his soloing ability. You could already hear that, his solos are very well structured, very melodic and rather serves the songs than to present his (otherwise excellent) technical playing. His play was very influential to generations guitarist, including Kirk Hammet, Paul Gilbert and Joe Bonamassa.
One of the gems in his hard rocking showcases the song Rock Bottom, which practically embodies all the strong side of the band: memorable, hard rocking riffs by Schenker, energetic and pounding support by Way and Parker and a step-by-step built guitar solo with a cathartic peak.
You can hear all of these (and even more) from the live recording Strangers in the Night.
All the above mentioned three songs appeared originally on UFO’s fourth album, Phenomenon, which made a landmark in the band’s career. Partly, as it was their first album at a new record company (Chrysalis Records); partly, as this album showed a shift in the band’s sound from psychedelic space rock to a more direct, hard-edged hard rock sound (due to Schenker and producer Leo Lyons (ex-Ten Years After)). But this album gave the real international breakthrough and let the band to move from clubs to greater venues and be a stadium act.
Before we take a look into the later period of the band, let’s say goodbye to this album with the closing Queen of the Deep.
One year later, the band released the follow up, once again working with Leo Lyons. This time Lyons’ bandmate, Chick Churchill joined as well in the studio to play the keyboard parts for the album (oh, if only they would involve Ten Years After guitarist, Alvin Lee as well, it would have been a killer rock’n’roll combination of both bands!). By the way, rock’n’roll, the whole album shifted for a more commercial, rock’n’roll sound while involving the hard rock riffs here and there (listen it by yourself at Let it Roll and Shoot Shoot), but the first really interesting song from the album is the Love lost love, where they find the balance perfectly between the two sounds.
As for the album cover – it was created by design studio Hipgnosis (as the most of their covers from this one), who worked with such bands, like Scorpions (Animal Magnetism), Led Zeppelin (Houses of Holy), Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon), etc. If you didn’t get the connection between the numerous taps on the cover and the kissing pair, don’t mind it.
It was a pun, as in the UK the taps are called as faucets, which sounds somewhat similarly as the album title.
Once again, a hard rock ballad with severe appeared on the album, this time written by bassist Pete Way.
Also from this album the band extended to five persons with a keyboard player, who later had to pick another task as well.
As for now, listen the Out in the Streets
The last song presented from this album is a kind of a cuckoo’s egg. Mother Mary was hidden on the B-side of the original album, even though it is the hardest rocking song on the whole album – probably it was ordered there to get place for the more commercial sounding tracks on the A-side (this strategy worked, as it was the first UFO album to chart in the US).
Later, when the band recorded the Strangers in the Night live album, they decided to go back to the studio for one track and hide this version between the live tracks. Here you can listen to this improved version:
The band continued with the addition of Danny Peyronel as a songwriter, vocalist and keyboard player. With his and producer Leo Lyons’ help, No heavy petting was recorded and released at May 1976.
The album opened with Natural thing, reflecting to both the cover and the sexual act in the title.
While this album is unique in terms as all the band members joined in songwriting (even the new keyboardist Peyronell), but still the band tried to find the balance between their unique ideas and the commercial sound with more or less success.
Due to this, No heavy petting was not able to capture the band real talent and lacks of really memorable songs. For example, the song Belladonna became popular only it was covered in the USSR. Maybe this was the cause of firing Peyronell only after one album.
Let’s say goodbye to this album with another fast paced song with a hidden bossa nova reference, Can you roll her
Another year, another album – this time named to Lights Out. It’s title was referring to the shutting down of lights during the raids of German bombers at WWII. The title track was also the last hard-rocking up-tempo hit from the band at the Schenker-era. Its success could be due to it’s high energy, maybe the memorable hard rock riffs or Schenker’s well-built, fast paced, but melodic solos – or all of them at the same time!
There are some interesting facts about this album. The keyboardist duties had been taken by Paul Raymond (ex-Savoy Brown), who also acted as a rhythm guitarist. Also they changed their producer to Ron Nevison, with whose help the album reached a commercial and critical success for the band.
Another new element was the moving in direction of a complex songwriting and the use of string arrangements.
You can check this out in Love to love, which you might be already familiar if you have seen the movie Detroit Rock City.
The next studio album, Obsession, shows a shift in the sound to a heavier, somewhat metallic sound.
Still, this album lacks the really memorable moments, which the previous album contained.
Maybe the next song, Pack it up (and go), was already referring the tensions between the band members?
The cause of the tensions was Schenker’s alcohol abuse and it reached that level, that at the end of 1978 he leaved the band in the middle of the US tour. He joined then once again with his brother’s band, the Scorpions and helped to record their album, Lovedrive (you can hear his play in Another Piece of Meat, Lovedrive and Coast to Coast); but his alcoholism led him to leave this band as well (letting Mathias Jabs getting his place) to launch his solo career (which worth a check!)
As for UFO, they released a live album from the recordings from their concerts of the tour Strangers in the Night and released it to close the band’s Schenker-era (for now). Interesting coincidence: Schenker’s old band (Scorpions) faced somewhat similar situation and for the same reason, they also released a live album (Tokyo Tapes). This album get commercial and critical success for the band and still thought as the best recording of the band – due to this I used at some points earlier the live recordings from this album.
As the band was at the middle of the tour, they needed to grab a guitarist to finish the remaining leg. Their choose was Paul Chapman, who already played with the band (he acted as a rhythm guitarist during the Phenomenon tour) and just leaved his band, the Lone Star (we will meet them later as well). He remained with the band and after finishing the tour (you can check some footage from it here) and recorded the new studio with UFO. The band was under heavy pressure that time and they wished to live up for the expectations – they even recruited the Beatles producer George Martin for this recording!
Sadly, the new album titled as No place to run able to continue the success of its’ predecessors. The fans didn’t liked the new guitarist (while Chapman wasn’t a bad guitar player, he was sadly not so unique like Schenker) and the album showed perfectly, that the band had difficulties to decide to which direction should they take. You can find hard rock songs (Lettin Go) and melodic rockers (This fire burns tonight, Gone in the night) mostly with some ballads as well.
My favourite song from here is the closing Anyday, which is a great mixture of a melodic bass line (even though this song is not written by the bassist Way), some Led Zeppelin-ish mixture of vocals and mellow parts and such hard rock refrains, which might easily fit to any earlier albums made with Schenker!
My other favourite one is a chuckoo’s egg from the album, as the band decided to do a cover once again after a long time. This time they covered an old Junior Philips blues song, Mistery Train – and they did a pretty good job! Chapman lays his best guitar work here on the album, including both the opening acoustic blues intro and the magnicficent blues rocker parts and the other members of the band do their best form as well! It’s interesting to think about, what would happened if the band take this direction!
Instead of this, UFO decided to shift towards a melodic, AOR direction at The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent. This move had some controversial success, as while the band was able to keep and even reach hits in UK, the album (and the next ones) alienated the hard rock fans worldwide from the band
Still, I wouldn’t call it a bad album, as it still contains some interesting stuffs, like the early 80’s hard rocker Makin’ Moves.
Still keeping with the melodic trends, the band released the next album, entitled as Mechanix. While the cover and the advertisements (“it will thighten your nuts!”) suggested a harder, heavier album as its predecessor, it wasn’t the case. While the band turned for a somewhat more metallic sound, they tried to be even more melodic. The result? Usually mediocre songs with sometimes interesting songwriting ideas, covered (especially around the refrains) with sticky, melodic pop.
A better example from this album is We belong to the night
While the band started the 80’s as a major rock group, due to their lack of successful albums and their shrinking interest from the fans, the force which kept the band together started to vaporize. First, the keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond left the band after the No Place to Run tour (and was replaced first by ex-Uriah Heep’s John Sloeman who left the band soon for Nazareth, then came ex-Wild Horses keyboardist Neil Carter); then after the release of the Mechanix bassist Pete Way decided to move on (first to form Fastway with ex-Motörhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke, then to establish his own band, Waysted).
The tried to stand up after these changes, but the new album, Making Contact became commercial and critical failure. Due to this, the remaining members decided to finish their tours, then release a compilation album and disband.
It’s a pity, because for the following tour they recruited the fantastic Billy Sheehan (ex-Talas, later got famous in David Lee Roth’s band and by Mr. Big)!
The fans’ tears hadn’t even have a chance to dry up, as Phil Mogg (who became the only consistent point thorough the band’s career) recruited new, but experienced band members (Robbie France on drums (ex-Diamond Head – who were covered by Metallica); Paul Raymond keyboardist, who already played with UFO; ex-Damned bassist Paul Gray and “Atomic” Tommy Mc Clendon as guitarist) two years after the disbanding and released a new album. However, the Misdemeanor and its follow up, Ain’t Misbehavin hadn’t brought the success for the band, even thought they shifted to a more commercial, arena rock sound (check it at Between a Rock & Hard place) and both bassist Way and drummer Parker returned for a short time. So the band split up once again at 1989.
Once again, for not too long time! In 1992, Phill Mogg and Pete Way decided to reform the band once again and they get new people on the boards in person of Jem Davis (keyboard), Laurence Archer (Guitar) and Clive Edwards (Drums). Also by adding Archer and Edwards (two ex-Wild Horses) to the lineup they tangled even better with Wild Horses’ history as well (if you remember, Neil Carter also came from that band). This time Way and Mogg decided to shift the band’s sound from the melodic direction to a blues rocker one (probably they found the earlier mentioned Mistery Train track from the No place to run album). The result became the album “High stakes and Dangerous Men” and a cool, up-tempo hard rocker on it in the form of “Borderline”
The album wasn’t a huge success (UFO wasn’t able to get onto the charts since the Ain’t Misbehavin album), but it was enough to get some attention to the band and to make them sure to continue. First by releasing (a now very rare) live album Lights out in Tokyo in 1993 (you can listen below the “Running up the Highway” from it)…
… and later by deciding to reform the classical 70’s lineup of UFO! Yes, Mogg and Way was able to recall drummer Parker, keyboardist Raymond and guitarist Schenker (the latter one was a bit difficult case, as Deep Purple wanted to get him as Richie Blackmore’s replacement around 1993). They made some concerts and, just like “in the old times”, Mogg and Schenker sit together and wrote new materials for a new album. This one, “Walk on Water” was released at 1995.
Now, you can find here all the developments the band members made during the last years: the melodic and bluesy elements by Mogg, Schenker’s matured solos, melodic developments from his solo career.
At the – personally favourite – “Venus” track you can even identify Schenker’s influence from the “Thank You“ albums!
As the “dream team” came together, they continued from where they finished at 1978 – making studio records, doing tours and raising tensions between band members (Schenker sadly still had his acute alcoholism at that time). This leaded to the situation, that Schenker left his band members at the middle of the tour again (ironically, at the same location, where he left the band first at 1978!). The line-up changes started even earlier, as drummer Parker wasn’t able to do the Walk on Water tour and thus it had to be replaced by Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC, ex-Dio, ex-MSG). After the tour Wrigth left the band to join once again with Dio and Aynsley Dunbar (ex-Frank Zappa, ex-Aynley Dunbar Retailation) came as his replacement.
The bigger difficulty – namely to get a replacement of Schenker – had been solved soon as well, as he decided to return to the band at 1999! However, Paul Raymond’s departure at 1999 shows well, that the tensions didn’t disappear within the band.
Still, UFO made some studio recordings and with producer Mike Varney (who produced such guitar heroes like Yngwie Malmsteem or Paul Gilbert from Raxer X) and released it under the title Covenant. This album sadly didn’t live up to the great names who made them – usually mediocre or sloppy songwriting, Phil Mogg struggles with his voice and even Schenker wasn’t at the best shape during the recordings. Still, the track Smell of Money should definitely worth a listen on it!
The band made a follow-up to the Covenant album two years later and released under similar conditions as its predecesor – and guess what? It’s even weaker than the previous album. One of the memorable moments from it the opening track Outlaw Man, where you can hear Schenker’s slide guitar play probably at first time on recording and the band was able to form it onto a a catchy hard rocker.
Soon after the release of the album, Schenker left again the band (at the time of writing this post, he didn’t returned anymore and focused on his solo career once again), but keyboardist Paul Raymond came back. Also Anysley Dunbar left the group, so they had to look up a new drummer once again. They decided to hire Jason Bonham (ex-Bonham), who was an excellent addition, as he supported Mogg with his backing vocals. Also he has a great bluesy drum play with a lot of variety. Still, probably he will never be as famous as his teacher and dad, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham!
As for the guitarist position, they recruited Vinnie Moore (the only guitar virtuoso, who got his fame from an ad). Moore had a collection of solo records before joining to UFO and was one of the neoclassical guitar heroes of the 80’s. However, since joining the UFO, he combines his highly developed guitar technique with the bluesy sound of the band (and as you can hear it from the following Black Cold Coffee, sometimes he even recycles his old ideas as well).
As the new post-Schenker album was well accepted by the fans, one might think that Mogg & co. decided to keep this lineup and do a follow-up for this album. Well, that’s only partially true, as the drum stool was occupied once again by the original drummer, Andy Parker. Meanwhile, Jason Bonham joined several big names in the 2000’s, including Foreigner and nowadays plays with ex-Van Halen Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony. Still, Bonham’s biggest impact was in the short lived hard rock supergroup Black Country Communion, you should definitely check it out!
The band is still working together even nowadays with the same line-up (expect the bassist Pete Way, who had to stop his musical career due to his liver issues) and since 2006, they release albums regularly at every three years. Sometimes better (The Visitor, Conspiracy of Stars), sometimes worse (The Monkey Puzzle, Seven Deadly), but they still moving forward an touring with them. Even they were able to get back to the charts (probably due to the low album selling requirements)!
By closing their story for now, let’s listen the opening track Saving Me from The Visitor album.
More to read (and view):
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After such an extensive introduction to UFO’s discography, let’s turn our attention to more obscure records once again!e
Well, the Fortht Worth based Bloodrock is partly fitting to this statement, as the band had been very successful in their days, almost all of their album was on the charts and they influenced a lot of other bands (even Tesla covered their song!).
On the other hand, they are really obscure outside of the states and most of rock historians know only a few spooky and doomy tracks from them and label them based on these. However, if we scratch the surface a bit, we can find some forgotten hard rock treasures there!
First of all, the band itself connected with thousand threads to another obscure records and acts. For example, Bloodrock formed in 1963 under the name The Naturals (Jim Rutledge – drums, Nick Taylor – guitar/vocals, Ed Grundy – bass/vocals and Dean Parks – guitar). The band changed name shortly to Crowd+1 and getting played psychedelic rock thorough the decade – we will discuss them separately in a later post.
By the time Terry Knight, the manager of Grand Funk Railroad (another band which we might discover in more detail) decided to back the band and recommended them to change the band’s name to Bloodrock in 1969; there were already some changes within the band. Dean Parks left the band for his professional musician career (he became a well known studio musician and played with Elton John, David Lee Roth, B.B. King and The Monkees among others) and Lee Pickens replaced him and also Stevie Hill (keyboards/vocals) joined. The music is also shifted from psych/garage pop to hard rock.
The band and the sound was given then, Terry Knight could get a contract for the band at Capitol, hired John Nitzinger as songwriter (he shall appear here later as well) and acted as a producer for the band’s recordings.
What about the music? The first, self-titled album contained mostly up-tempo, catchy hard rock songs and some varied moody tracks (just like the Timepiece or the doom/fuzz monster Melvin Laid an Egg). They were also one of the first bands, who hid easter eggs on their recordings!
My favouirte one is the up-tempo Castle of thoughts with Lee Pickens’ frenetic solo – the roaring live version even better!
The first album reached pretty good feedback from the audience (became quite popular by the troops at Vietnam as well!) and also the recording company was satisfied with the results, so there was no barrier before the band to make a follow up.
The quickly recorded and released new album (creatively named as Bloodrock 2) brought some changes. First of all, Jim Rutledge became the band’s main vocalist and Rick Cobb took his place at the drum stools. Secondly, I feel that Lee Pickens take aback from the distortion of his guitar and thus, sometimes the songs loose a bit rawness from them.
This, however, didn’t influenced the album’s receptions and became the best selling album for the band. Specially due to the haunting song D.O.A, which was the greatest success of the band (it has been released in four different singles – and one of them contained the same song on both sides!). Controversially, the song is about how Lee Pickens’ childhood friend stole a plane and crashed with it.
I suggest rather to check the following song (Dier, not a lover), which is a less know, hidden hard rock gem on the album. Starting with Cobb’s artificially slowed drum snares, the song expands into a foot stomping rocker where guitarist Picken and keyboardist hill matches their talents at the solos.
The next track appeared on the third (and thus named) album and it was written by John Nitzinger. Based on the success of the previous album, he started his own solo career and later released two solo albums – but these will be reviewed later.
For now let’s just praise his songwriting skills about Jessica and the genial rhythm breaks
The next Bloodrock album is a milestone for several reasons. First of all, this is the first album with a “proper” title and not numbered (although the american band probably didn’t have too many sleepless night about selecting “U.S.A.” as the title). Secondly, this album has the weirdest psychedelic cover (also surprisingly the USA flag theme were used at same year released Bloodrock 3, not here). This album also was also the last studio album for this line-up and for the hard rock sound.
Heads up, enjoy Crazy ’bout you baby with its great drum fills and one of the grooviest verse parts of the hard rock history!
By 1972 the musical landscape changed, along with the band members’ interest and personal ambitions. The band released a live album, but after that the band’s family tree started to grow new branches. First Lee Pickens left the band to focus on his solo career, then singer Rutledge decided to leave the musical industry and as I wrote above, songwriter John Nitzinger focused also to his ideas as well.
The band tried to stand up and decided to change the direction – they wanted to mature onto a progressive rock band. The lead vocal post was filled by Warren Ham, whose voice was not only similar but at the same time more sophisticated, than Rutledge’s, but also was a talented saxophone and flute player.
The result? Heavily British-influenced prog rock (bye-bye hard rocking guitar sound), which was good, but not ground breaking. Sadly the audience thought the same and the following albums got worse receptions (the Passages album was the last Bloodrock record on the charts).
I present my favourite song from the album, the Jethro Tull-influenced Scotsman, which is almost impossible to tell, that it wasn’t made by a British band…
The follow-up had been released two years later. It was still prog rock, but the album lost its direction and became very unbalanced – one time you can hear obscure prog. rock gems, at other time even Steve Hill’s synth and piano playing cannot save the song from forgetting it.
One of the interesting songs is the band’s interpretation of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, where they presented some really intelligent musical solutions, especially as the track develops towards it’s end.
The band tried to continue his work (started to work on a new album called Unspoken Words), but the series of unsuccessful receptions and the latest changes in the band (drummer Randy Reader, who replaced Rick Cobb at the Whirlwind Tongues album, left the band after it’s release) made the group to dissolve.
Similarly to most of the above presented bands in this post, Bloodrock also had it’s own afterlife. First of all, the songs from the prog era with the addition of the tracks from Unspoken Words was released in a collection by 2004.
At 2005, the members of the classical lineup (Jim Rutledge, Lee Pickens, Ed Grundy, Nick Taylor, Stevie Hill) made a reunion concert at Forth Worth, their founding city to support keyboardist Stevie Hill. After the concert, the band closed their history once for all…
… or not? ex-singer Jim Rutledge made a video post, that he joined his forces one last time with the band’s old time John Nitzinger and release an album titled “Bloodrock 2013“. This albums is told to be containing re-recorded versions of classical songs and new ones as well. However, the album did not contained the original line up (Nick Taylor and Stevie Hill passed, Ed Grundy and Rick Cobb weren’t interested), only Lee Pickens appeared on the album as a guest.
Sadly, I cannot say anything about this recording, as I didn’t heard it and almost impossible to find it now.
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Let’s leave the states now and turn our focus once again to the British Empire – this time, especially to the Welshmen!
The history of Ancient Grease (pun intended) leads back to the late 60’s and a cover band called Strawberry Dust (members: Gareth “Morty” Mortimer – Vocals, Graham Headley Williams – guitar, Jack Bass – bass and Dick Ferndale – drums). In 1969 they got a chance to record an album (you can read the full story here), but as they were a cover band, didn’t really have enough own material to fill an album, they recorded some songs written by John Weathers (from Eyes of Blue, we will meet with this band later separately as well).
The result of different songwriters made its impact on the album. Its a mix of different genres, changing from song to song, including folk, country, blues. My choose felt on the album closing, groovy blues rocker tune (mixed with some folk and harder part), titled as Mother Grease, the cat. For some reason, the author Williams wasn’t really proud to his arrangements and hide behind a fake name – but if you listen it, you will think as well, that he had no cause for dismay!
Similarly to a lot of contemporary acts, this record hadn’t got proper support from the record company (Vertigo, the same, where Black Sabbath was contracted!) and the album disappeared in the fog of history. The band moved back to Wales and played cover songs once again as Strawberry Dust.
Later they disbanded, but the singer and the guitarist formed a west-coast band as Racing Cars and gained some fame in the UK.
More to read:
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Iota is one the most obscure band in this post. We don’t even know the year of foundation (probably late 60’s), only the place (El Paso, Texas, USA). The members of the band – Mark Evans (guitar, vocals), Steve Phipps (keyboards, vocals), Carl Neer (bass, vocals), Rick Ramaka (drums) – hadn’t have any known further musical careers and the band itself hadn’t earned fame for them. What we know, that they were a psychedelic rock band, had a studio session in 1970 and two singles were released after them (a compilation album from the original master tapes were only found and released at 2002!). Some time after the release of the singles, they disbanded (time/location are unknown as well).
Based on that album, the band mostly played mediocre pop/psych songs. The really interesting parts are, when the band moved away from this sound towards to creepy prog (Precincst), or shifts into groovy hard rock (Love come wicked).
My choose goes for one of the singles, Sing for you, it has a really cachy melody and rhythym and keyboardist Phipps has a nice (but short) solo in it.
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It’s hard to say any new things about Night Sun, as Rich really loves them and covered the most important infos in his blog.
Just to sum things up, they were a West-German hard rock/prog band, consisting Bruno Schaab (vocals, bass), Walter Kirchgessner (guitar), Knut Rossler (organ, saxophon) and Ulrich Staudt (drums) by 1972, originally from Mannheim.
As the band evolved from a jazz group, it’s no surprise, that their music was very complex and intelligent (somewhat similar to Deep Purple), but the vocalist Schaab also had a very strong, Robert Plant-esque voice, plus the whole album was covered with some kind of a creepy and dark atmosphere (as if the whole record wanted to be act as soundtrack of a horror film). It might was the idea of Conny Plank (the same guy, who produced Scorpions’ debut album!).
While a doom and metal geeks love this album, I don’t. I admire the talent of the musicians, I love the intelligent rhythm changes and virtuoso play, as well with the strong vocals, but the dark atmosphere is not my world and makes it difficult for me to listen this album regularly for the sake of few enjoyable moments. Thus, my favourite track is Crazy Woman, the cuckoo’s egg on the album; as it is, what I always waited from these guys: up-tempo hard rock with a lot of jazz influence, intelligent rhythm changes, good solos – and almost total lack of that dark ambient, which tangles the other part of the album!
After the release of the album, the band was able to get only moderate success, thus soon they disbanded in 1973.
The band reformed no more (at least, I didn’t find sings about that) and the musicians are departed from the scene – except singer/bassist Schaab, who joined to the kraut-rocker Guru Guru later (which I intend to introduce in a later post).
More to read:
- The Day After Sabbath post about their producer Conny Plank
- The Day After Sabbath post about Mournin, the band’s only album
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Here comes a band, who sadly made a smaller impact on the musical landscape as his name would suggest it.
Frank Ferrara (vocals, bass) and Frank Glicken (guitar, vocals) founded the band in Philadelphia, USA in late 1969. Tony Diorio soon joined to them and with a small Bang, the band made the first steps towards the fame (although called as “Magic Band” at this time).
Thanks to the band’s homepage, the band’s history is pretty well documented. Thus, I won’t focus too much on the history of the group here, rather on the music.
The two biggest influence on the band’s style were The Beatles and Black Sabbath – both weighing more or less in their recordings.
The title title track of their (then unreleased) first recording perfectly shows this duality of melody and heaviness.
Their really first released, self-titled album (sadly Capitol spared a proper title) was a heaven for Sabbath and proto-metal fans (if you are one of them, you can enjoy it in whole length), as most of the album are American hard rock, but rather shifted towards the gloomy sound of the first studio albums of Sabbath.
Only two times the band changed a bit the direction. One was the song Questions, which is not an outstanding one (still, it was their only charting song!); while Come with me balances better between the Sabbath-marked hard rock sound and the melodicity of The Beatles.
The really interesting things starts from their second recording called Mother/Bow to the king (different parts of covers showed either of the titles). Even though the follow-up of their debut was written only half year later, the changes around the band (session drummers, new producer) and their personal development.
While the band didn’t really love that recording, the result were – in my oppinion – better than the first album.
Already in the opening Mother you can meet with some country-ish solutions, which turns out as great rocker song – from a band with their uniquie, recognizable sound!
As you could hear from the above song as well, this time they shifted towards the melody, but still keeping the harder sound.
As for their albums released in the 70’s, they found the balance best here and were able to shape their own style at the same time. Just like in “Keep on”!
Sadly, the band didn’t keep it. The recording company pushed them towards a more commercial sound and this could be definitely hearded on their next release, “Music”. By the end of their career (the group soon splitted up after the release of the album), The Beatles definitely overcame on Black Sabbath. The album is rather power pop, filled with radio friendly songs.
My best recommendation from this album is “Don’t need nobody”, which although starts as a commercial-sounding rock song, develops really well towards the end of the track, making it into a really enjoyable rock’n’roll song.
Before their contract broke, the band recorded a few singles, which – without proper support – never got to the fans.
It’s a bit sad, as for a last time, the band turned back to their earlier hard rock sound.
The best of these recording is really Feels Nice (even though it’s main riff resembles a bit to Deep Purple’s Rat Bat Blue)
By 1974 the band wasn’t able to make gigs, the record label’s patience ran out – as theirs, thus they decided to disband.
The later works of the band members are hard to track, except guitarist Franck Gilcken, who joined to Phil Seymour’s band in the early 80’s to record some rock/power pop albums with him.
Similarly to most of the other artist in this blog, this group had it’s own afterlife as well. The original members joined their forces at 1996 and since then, they are on the stage (with smaller-bigger gaps thorough the years). Except Tony D’iorio, who left the band and currently replaced by Jake Leger.
This reformation also meant new studio recordigns. The first try, Return to Zero (1996) was rather an experimental (but mediocre) album with modern, sometimes stadion rock-like sound, but it’s follow up, the Maze, was the album that the fans waited for ages – heavy, blues based (sometimes dark) hard rock. Let’s celebrate this and the group’s ongoing activity with the opening (and at the same time, title) track of the album!
More to read:
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During this post mostly bands from the Unitend Kingdom or the USA were covered. The fact itself, why groups from these countries get more attention in comparison to other acts from other lands, is very interesting in itself and worth a post or even an academic paper. On the other hand, Blues Creation and Night Sun alerady proved, that there were memorable acts as well at other countries and we will see in future post, that healthy rock scenes appeared thorough the globe in the 60’s and 70’s (except China, where the rock music was able to get its foothold only since the new millennium).
Australia proved to a fertile ground for the rock’n’roll and its’ sub-genres, especially the bigger cities (most of the bands appearing in this blog were founded in Melbourne or Sydney). While the country counted as part of the political West, due to the enormous distances it took a long time for the locals to catch up with the current trends around the world. This also meant, that the local acts had an easier chance to cover the local market, as groups came rarely from abroad. Thus even with the conquer of the high-speed communication, some Australian groups still counts as (or sometimes, even more) influential for the Australian groups, as some international names. As for the harder and heavier genres of the rock’n’roll we have three: the Aztecs (we shall meet with them in an other post) for the hard rock, Coloured Balls for the pub/punk rock and Buffalo for the heavy metal. Of course there were other influential groups (e.g. AC/DC), but their and their follower’s roots point back to this (un)holy trinity.
Buffalo’s origin goes back to the late 60’s. Singer David Tice and bass guitarist Peter Wells honed their skills together in smaller, local garage bands from 1966, when they decide to form a rock’n’roll group named Head in 1968 at Brisbane. They recruited John Baxter as guitarist and Paul Bambi as drummer and entered into the fray of the underground rock scene. In the next four years, there band worked heavily to raise their recognition in the Australian underground (for this reason, they relocated to the booming scene of Sydney in 1970), developed their future songs and started to shift their sound towards a bit psychedelic, but definitely heavier sound sometimes with a touch of spooky and evil aura. In addition to this, they acquired a second lead singer (which was although a not totally unique, but rarely used form at that time) in the person of Alan Milano and to push forward greater success, they decided to leave the Head name with it’s negative connotations (interesting fact: in Australia, it seems, it was common to select first a controversial name – as AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd and Rose Tattoo singer Angry Anderson’s first group Smack -, then change it to something connotation less one – Buster Brown in that case. The only exception seems to be AC/DC, who became world famous, while their name referred to bisexuals/transsexuals in the local slang). Thus born Buffalo in late 1971.
They gained as much attention, that Buffalo was the first band to get a record contract in Australia to Vertigo Records (they shared labels with Black Sabbath and Ancient Grease!) and released their debut album (Dead Forever…) in June 1972, which got pretty good sales, although the record (similarly to most of it’s follow up) didn’t got any radio airplay.
The album itself contains an interesting mixture of rock’n’roll sound with long, psychedelic solos and sometimes evil-sounding riffs.
Let’s listen to the Ballad of Irving Fink, which is a great example of mixing hard rock riffs with rock’n’roll elements (also it makes the listener thinking, whether Lemmy&Co heard this song before recording Limb from limb)
Although the debut of Buffalo could be considered as successful, singer Alan Milano and drummer Paul Bambi left the band. The band decided to replace Bambi with John Economou and move on as a quartett, Dave Tice as solely singer. Tice had a harsh, raw and powerful tone which fitted better with the harder, heavier sound of the band. In January 1973 Buffalo supported Black Sabbath’s first Australian tour (where Ozzy met with Bon Scott) – as we will hear, this cooperation heavily influenced Buffalo’s sound and marked their direction into the domain of heavy, evil riffs and sound.
The second album – Volcanic Rock – got a very expressive title! The album contains loud explosions of raw guitar riffs, which looks and sounds very frightening and only propose dark and doomy sights for those, who dare stand before it. Not to speak about the music, which sometimes crawl slowly; other times falls fast on you and approaches with dangerous speed.
If you are a fan of the doomy aura of the early Black Sabbath recordings, then this album is definitely for you!
For the lovers of more melodic stuffs, I would suggest the slowly thumping song The Prophet, as it’s slow grooves might remind you to Led Zeppelin (and Sabbath, of course), but towards the second half of the song, it also shows Buffalo’s own face and propose some additional interesting for the patient listeners.
The third album however the real hidden treasure! Similarly to its predecessors, this album was/is almost unknown outside of Australia and even nowadays it get really little reception, as proto-metal geeks rather focus on the earlier two recordings , due to their darker sound. However, this time the band gave more field to the hard rock sound while keeping their monstrous raw sound. Mixing the benefits of both world, Buffalo reached the sound hard rock lovers could have waited from them since the beginning! Decide yourself, whether you like Ten Year’s After psych/blues rock/proto-hard rock classic I’m Coming On better, or Buffalo’s new harder rocking version!
Followers of the Sabbath, you shouldn’t forget about this album neither! The terrific album cover (added up with singer Tice appearing in sadomasochistic leather outfit, combining the heavy sound with leather accessories years earlier, than Judas Priest made them popular and generally accepted in the second half of the decade!) contains some of their heavier riffing creations (What’s going on, Stay with me), made especially for the fans. Don’t miss the Dune Messiah, which is the most Sabbath-like song of Buffalo – even the singer sounds like Ozzy at some parts in it!
By the way, if you are interested how would it sound, if Buffalo would play a real Black Sabbath song, you can check below their version of Paranoid!
After the third album, the band’s fate started to decline. Due to the labels pushing, they shifted their direction to gain more commercial success and fame. However, even the band didn’t know, how can they acquire this and the fourth album clearly shows a band, who searching his new personality. This was even amplified by the new band members, as Karl Taylor joined as guitarist in 1975 and Norm Roue as a slide guitarist. Still, those listeners, who started to listen Mother’s choice, met once again a hard rock band for the first track…
… which then disappeared and reappeared thorough the recording, but always showing a new face. Once as a rock’n’roll band, then as a proto-pub rock band (the song Lucky sounds like an unreleased Rose Tattoo track – probably Peter Wells got the slide idea from here…). My favourite “alter-ego” is the blues sound – Essukay is a slow, eight-bar blues, but every member really feel the style here (especially singer Dave Tice, who makes his best performance here from this album)
The swan song of Buffalo proved to be the fifth album. Even the title – Average Rock’n’Roller – shows, that the band totally sacrificed itself for the sake of commercial success. This time, they went back to the roots and played pure rock’n’roll – with the only downside, that as the title refers to it, the album is filled with mediocre, easy-to-forget commercial rock’n’roll (sometimes rockabilly) tracks. Is it a surprise, that except Tice and Economou all earlier band members fled the group?
However, diamonds lie in the dust, as you can hear in Hotel Ladies (which also one of the few ballads by Buffalo)
By the time this album appeared, the band already disbanded. David Tice moved to London with ex-Buffalo drummer Paul Bambi and joined to the proto-punk/pub rock band The Count Bishops; Peter Wells left earlier to form Rose Tattoo and reach international recognition, while both John Baxter and Alan Milano joined to Southern Cross (we will meet with that group in a later post).
Due to the past success and the influence to the later generation of the Australian rock and metal scene, David Tice resurrected Buffalo with new musicians in 2013 and made some concerts. This new line-up though didn’t released any new materials.
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Leaf Hound – a very influential british band for the hard rock (and especially to the current stoner rock) scene, but they didn’t have a chance to enjoy the fame, as the group already broke off by the time their debut album was released!
If we look back to the band’s history, its not a surprise. Formed on the ruins of Black Cat Bones (we shall meet with the group later) in 1969, the musicians already fled before their act could have gained enough time to stand the test of time (Black Cat Bones for example contained Andy Fraser and Paul Kossof who left before recording with that band; guitarist Rod Price joined after the recording session to Foghat). The remaining members (Peter French – vocals, Derek Brooks – guitar, Stuart Brooks – bass) recruited Keith George-Young for drums and French’s cousin, Mick Hall as second guitarist.
This quintet recorded one album – named as Growers of Mushroom based on the title of one track – during an 11-hour long session, but what a session!
Growers of Mushroom is – along with the debut album of Captain Beyond and some records from the future post – so high quality, that every second of the album count as gold melted into soundwaves for the listeners. You can easily hear the influence of the big brothers’ (Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendix), but otherways you get what you asked for – groovy, blues-based, high energy hard rock with strong vocals, screaming solos, thundering drums and bass, all topped with memorable riffs and intellingent, well-bulit songs. Wherther you are for the groovy, bluesy hard rockers (Freelance Fiend, Stray, Stagnat Pool) or always wanted, how would it sound if Jimi Hendrix would have recorded with Led Zeppelin (Work my body) or you simply in a Zepp-ish mood (With a minute to go), you can find them all here. Also with some peeping out to other directions, but all fit really well to the band (for example the soul of It’s gonna get better or the Cream-like Too Many Rock’n’roll times).
After such a fantastic recording session, the band already started to scatter into pieces. First both Brooker brother decided to leave the group, but the other members still tried to save the band, thus they hired Ron Thomas to bass. However, when singer Peter French left, the band’s chapter in the history of the 70’s became finished. By the time Decca released the album in 1971, Leaf Hound not existed anymore.
Peter French first joined to Cozy Powell (later became famous with Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, but I intend to focus a separate post only to him) for a project, but soon he left to join Atomic Roosters (another group which gets under the magnifying glass later). Later he played with Cactus (we shall meet with them as well) and he released a solo album as well. In the meanwhile, he arranged separate re-releases of Leaf Hound’s debut album.
As the reception of the releases were really good and more and more contemporary acts named Leaf Hound as their influence, Peter French (similarly to some other hard rock groups from that time, like Bang) decided to resurrect the old brand with young members. He introduced the new lineup in 2004 (Luke Rayner – guitar, Ed Pearson – bass and Jimmy Rowland – drums) and since then Leaf Hound is ruling the (especially festival) stages.
The feedback was excellent, so they decided to raise the stakes and create a follow-up of Growers of Mushroom. The result was one of the best comeback album from the “contemporary” acts! The Unleashed (released in 2007) found the balance regarding the classical, hard rock sound (but tuned down for French and to match better with the taste of the stoner audience); French kept his voice in very good conditions (of course he doesn’t screams through the album, but still has more vocal range than other singers at his age!) and the songs are respectful towards the 70’s and at the same time shifted towards to a bit modern taste.
My favourite track is Overtime, which rather leans towards modern hard rock, but works really well!
As for respecting the past, the band covered Breakthrough, which was an Atomic Rooster song and was released, when Peter French was in the band as well. So it makes even more interesting, whether the “original” is better or the new version
(or the Funkees’ afro-funk cover):
Since then, the band tours and appears on festivals (they even released a live album in 2012). The only change in the line-up was on the bassist post since 2004, as Pete Herbert replaced Ed Pearson.
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Jericho is a cuckoo’s egg. First of all, it came from Israel’s pop/rock scene (in fact, they were one of it’s founders!). Secondly, to get to know Jericho, we have to go back to Jericho Jones and from then, to The Churchills – as these three bands technically the continuity of each other!
The Churchill’s story goes back to 1965, when based on the success of The Beatles, bands formed all around the world to cover these hits and perform to their local audience. So did some school friends in Tel-Aviv (Yzthak Klepter – guitar, Selwyn Lifshitz – vocals, Miki Gabrielov – bass guitar, Haim Romano – guitar and Ami Treibetsch – drums), who based on their guitarist nickname (Yzthak “Churchill” Klepter) started to call themselves as The Churchills and thew them into thrills of the thriving local pop-rock scene.
By 1968 the wind of the first changes arrived to the group. Guitarist Klepter & singer Lifshitz were conscripted, thus the groups had to look for new members. Luckily, the New Tornadoes (a new incarnation of an early 60’s British instrumental rock group) had just visited Israel (their hit Telstar made some fame for them). During that time, guitarist Robb Huxley saw a gig of the Churchills and it made great impression to him. He decided to stay and join to them.
As for the singer post, they recruited Stan Solomon from a concurrent rhythm band.
From this point, the band’s career gained real momentum. Similarly to the contemporary bands in the eastern block, they also supported a local pop singer as a backing band next to their own career. In this case, Arik Einstein released Israel’s first (pop)rock album and the Churchills played on that. This was so successful, that they had a chance to release their first single (which made them available to join as opening act for Deep Purple in their Danish tour in 1969!) and later that year, to release their self title debut. This album contains mostly psych/pop-rock songs with sometimes interesting ideas (like use of hebrew and greek tonal scales), but the most interesting song for us is Comics with is heavy psych and proto-hard rock elements.
Although the album got good reviews and the fan’s loved it, Stan Solomon departed to Canada, so the band continued as a backing band to other pop singers (they were so successful in it, that they made it until their split); at the same time they recorded two instrumental singles. It is very interesting to listen to the baroque pop direction of Double Concerto, a combination of psychedelic rock and classical music, especially if you take into account, that Keith Emerson already done this by this time in the Nice and Jon Lord just arranged the legendary Concerto for group at the same year – and how different was the Churchill’s direction!
In 1970, they were able to acquire the lead singer of Lions of Judah (they shall appear in a later post), Danny Shoshan and release two new singles. Interesting fact: they covered Led Zeppelin’s Living Loving Maid (She just a woman) from their second album – almost the only song from it, which even the Zeppelin never played live!
In 1971 the Churchills once again went abroad (this time to the UK) to conquer the foreign markets. As their name was unknown there, they decided to change it to Jericho Jones to mark their origins (and grab more attention). Under this name they released their second (in the Churchills’ history) album – Junkies Monkeys & Donkeys.
To provide a glimpse to the current sound, I present the heavy psych/blues rock/hard rock track Freedom:
While the band tried to shift their sound to catch up with the British band, they still weren’t able perfectly to leave their psychedelic rock background totally behind. Which is not a bad thing, because this gave the ubiquity of this album: a blend of the old (psych) and the new (hard/blues rock) – and they felt, there was the chance to break into the British market.
As they sang it – Time is now
Sadly, they were unsuccessful in it. Thus they gave it a last try and recorded a last album – this time under the shortened name Jericho (we arrived here by 1972) and with shorter album. However, this recording was a high quality one, as it consisted both serious hard rocker (Kill me with your love) and beautifully developing ballad (Justin and Nova) as well.
However, I would like to bring into your attention a sadly forgotten gem of optimistic sounding rocker track from the album, Don’t you let me down
The breakthrough sadly didn’t happened even with this album. The band’s time (and the musicians’s visa) ran out and they had to return. While the band still existed until 1973, they split up at last.
Luckily, the wind of nostalgia also reached them and since the second half of the first decade of the new millennium (can you still follow me?) they reform once in a while to play under either their former names and to introduce their catalog to the new generations as well.
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So much for the first round, I hope you enjoyed my (bit lengthy) post. I would be glad to read your feedback and I hope you find as much fun in listening and reading about these bands as I do!
Thanks for listening!