Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Badtown Boys - Date With Death (1991)

Los Angeles punk act, Badtown Boys, came together in the spring of 1985. Comprised of brothers Greg and Chris Keith, Tom Komisar and Tim Cunningham, the band kept a low profile until finally issuing their "Blue" EP in 1987. The four song release caught the attention of Dionysis Records owner, Lee Joseph. Joseph quickly put the band back in the studio to record the "Borrowed Time" EP, which went unnoticed in the states but gained quite a following overseas. Soon, Gift of Life Records came calling and offered the band a contract to record a full length album. That album came in the form of "Badtown Boys", issued in 1990. The album was license by american label New Red Archives and saw the band touring the west coast to modest success.

The following year, "Date With Death" was issued to even greater response and it seemed as if Badtown Boys were on the cusp of becoming punk's new darlings. In 1992, Greg left the band, leaving Chris to take over lead vocals but this change was brief when Greg returned in 1993 to help the band write and record, "Pennyless in Paradise". Over the next six years, the band would see many lineup changes while issuing numerous singles and albums, notably the presence of new singer Stephan X. Taking on a more modern sound, the band's popularity began a downward slide, culminating in a breakup in 1999. Though the band would regroup briefly numerous times over the next few years, the death of Stephan X in 2004 would signify the end of their activity.

"Date With Death" is a powerful and concise blend of 50's music and '77 era NYC punk. With the Ramones as an obvious reference point, each song blends seemlessly to form a perfectly balanced album that begs for repeated listenings. Greg Keith's nasally vocals and Komisar's rapidfire guitars intertwine perfectly from start to finish. Though the band is missing the tongue-in-cheek humor of the Ramones, they compensate by upping the tempos and thickening the sound. You couldn't ask for a tighter and more pulverizing slab of retro punk. New Red Archives has still balked on giving this gem the digital treatment, so be sure to dig into this fantastic vinyl transfer and experience the raw urgency of California's Badtown Boys.

Wild - Wild 1 (1988)

Wild's history is vague at best, though it is known that the band came to life in Los Angeles in 1985. Known then as "The Wild", the band featured multi-instrumentalist, Dizzy Reed, of Guns 'n Roses fame. The band were a fixture on the club circuit for several years before being offered a one-off deal from Columbia Records. Essentially a duo in the studio, Reed and vocalist Todd Barrone handled all of the chores (along with producer Andy Wallace) in creating their self-titled debut, which hit stores in early 1988. The album failed to ignite the charts, due mostly to non-existent promotion and corporate shakeups happening at the label that year. As a result, Dizzy Reed jumped ship to join GNR, leaving the band effectively dead in the water. Barrone's whereabouts are unknown, though he is rumored to be a born again minister in Nevada.

So what of this album anyway? Well, folks, I rarely gush over albums released during the hair metal craze of the late 80's, but this is one rare exception. Sporting a futuristic musical viewpoint, "Wild 1" is nothing short of amazing. Taking elements of techno and industrial music (before either term had ever been commercially recognized) blended with hard rock, Wild crafted a sound that in retrospect can be called visionary. Predating the indsutrial metal movement by several years, the band along with Zodiac Mindwarp can be easily credited as forerunners of the genre. With sinewy keyboards, bleeps, triggered drums, guitar synths and sleazy charismatic vocals, "Wild 1" is a fantastic batch of hook driven electronic hard rock. Missing all of the excesses of bands who came along years later, the album sports a sleek and minimalistic approach that allows the arrangements to breathe and the hooks to stand uncluttered. It is really amazing this album failed to reach a wider audience.

Obviously the lack of response then has never inspired Columbia to reissue the album now, so it languishes in the vaults indefinitely. In the meantime, I've included this sweet CD rip for all to enjoy. Check out this highly unique effort from Wild. You will be glad you did :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Indestructible Noise Command - The Visitor (1988)

Connecticut's Indestructible Noise Command (I.N.C.) were a short-lived techno thrash metal act that struggled in the underground scene at the tail end of the 80's. Consisting of Dennis Gergely, Tony Fabrizi, Erik Barath and Gary Duguay, I.N.C. were able to land a deal with alternative label, Giant Records in 1987. Their debut, "Razorback" hit stores later that year but failed to ignite much more than a cult interest in the band. Lack of a decent budget not only dashed any hopes of a solidly produced album, but national touring was out of the question. The band pushed onward to issue their followup, "The Visitor", which saw release in 1988. Once again, lack of proper funding grounded the band and by 1990, I.N.C. were over. The post-split activities of members are not known.

"The Visitor", despite production limitations, is a visceral collection of lightning fast riffing, syncopated rhythms, flashy guitar work and nasally gruff vocals. In short, it just works. Lyrical silliness aside, this album is brimming with intensity and energy. With a sound that blends elements of Metallica, Watchtower and Nuclear Assault, "The Visitor" shreds from start to finish. Though the sound is clearly dated, there's plenty to enjoy if you are able to hear it in the context of the era from which this sprang. With no reissue in sight and outrageous prices for the original CD, this should be a short-term fix while fans wait for a proper remaster. Enjoy this insane batch of humor laden thrash.

Tarzen - Tarzen (1985)

Tarzen were a mid 80's hard rock act fronted by Argentinian born Danny Peyronel, who had spent years playing in bands like Heavy Metal Kids, UFO, Blue Max, Riff and Banzai. When Peyronel relocated to Spain in 1984, he quickly assembled a lineup including his brother Michel (drums), Salvador Dominguez (guitar) and Ralph Hood (bass). The band were almost immediately signed to newcomer label, Valentino Records and by early 1895, "Tarzen" was released. A high profile tour with Twisted Sister did little to ignite interest in the band stateside, but soon the band would become headliners all over Europe and South America. This lack of success in America prompted the departure of Dominguez, who was replaced by Laurence Archer in 1987.

Though Archer's residency would be brief, with Dominguez returning in 1988, Hood would eventually desert the band the same year, reducing Tarzen to a trio. Unfazed, the band signed a new deal with indie label, Twins Records and issued their sophomore album "Madrid" in 1989. Poor distribution and changing trends grounded any attempts for mass success and the band folded in late 1990. Peyronel would resurface as an opera tenor, as well as fronting a resurrected Heavy Metal Kids. Dominguez embarked on a solo career that persists to this day. Archer later formed Rhode Island Red, as well as joining a reunited UFO for one album in the 90's. The present activities of Hood and Michel Peyronel are not known.

Considering Peyronel's pedigree as a keyboardist, this album is quite a nice surprise, as Peyronel's throaty Bon Scott style vocals are more than competent throughout. With a sound reminiscent of AC/DC, "Tarzen" is full tilt 80's hard rock in every sense. Though some of the material dips into mediocity at times, there are quite a few standouts, particularly "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Pack Rules". Though the band would migrate to a glossier sound on their followup, "Tarzen" is a nice exercise in crunchy hard rock minus the excess that is often associated with this era of music. Never issued on CD, enjoy this fine vinyl transfer and get hip to a band that few people even remember. You just might love them.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rist Rocket - Rist Rocket (1978)

Rist Rocket hail from southern California, but otherwise have a completely fuzzy backstory. The band issued its self-titled debut in 1978 on Sun West Records. Despite the cheesy artwork, Rist Rocket have been praised by obscurity hounds for many years and in some ways it is justified.

"Rist Rocket" is a decent AOR effort with great harmonies, solid performances and clear production. Though the quality of the material is uneven at times, the band does manage to evoke Boston on some of the better tracks here. Though the vocals and production are missing the flash and fire that is often associated with AOR music, the songwriting is more than enough to state the band's musical viewpoint clearly. Take a chance on this rare recording, courtesy of 'daz'. You just might dig it!

Ziggurat - Ziggurat (1979)

Rounding out Ziggurat's recorded output, here is the band's self-titled debut issued in 1979. With a smoother and more laid back approach than what can be found on the band's final album, "Ziggurat" is closer to Firefall/Couchois territory than anything else. The west coast sound is deceptive, considering the band's southern roots. Overall, the album is lacking personality, as each track casually passes by with nary a powerful hook demanding your attention. There's nothing here terribly off-putting, but there's nothing here that stands out either. Perhaps this is to blame for Ziggurat's lack of fortune, but there is surely an audience for this kind of easy listening AOR. Whether it's your cup of tea is up in the air, so be sure to snag this one for a preview. Enjoy this great transfer courtesy of 'daz'.

Friday, August 24, 2007

451° - 451° (1980)

Canada's 451° were a band whose roots trace back to numerous luminaries in the canadian rock pantheon such as Shades of Blond, 49th Parallel, Painter and Hammersmith. Just as Hammersmith were folding in 1977, two departing members (Dan Lowe and Royden Morice) were already setting the foundation for what would eventually become 451°. Within months Morice had defected and Jim Clench (April Wine/BTO) stepped into his place. After gigging around the region for several years, Pickwick Records signed the band and in 1980 their eponymous debut was released. Despite rigorous touring and promotion, 451° failed to catch fire, prompting the band to split, only to resurface under the name Prototype in 1982. Clench would later rejoin April Wine and remains there to this day. The present activities of the rest of the members is not known.

"451°" is overall a fairly decent album, though there's nothing earth shattering about the material. Sounding basically like a modernized Hammersmith, the album is an early rough edged example of AOR, though the band does dabble in a retro hard rock sound in many places here. With solid production and performances, the album is nothing to scoff at, but there's a lack of real musical identity happening here that undermines the credible writing and performances. Simply a 'good' album, 451° has never been reissued, so perhaps this is a good time to download and draw your own conclusion. Dig this sweet transfer from 'ritchie blackmore'...

320kbps @

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Roadmaster - Roadmaster (1977)

Continuing with another entry from Roadmaster, this is their debut from 1977. This album represents an era of the band that preceded the arrival of premier vocalist, Stephen McNally. This album also sees the band in full-on midwestern basr band mode, complete with the rudimentary vocals of Asher Benrubi. It is also noteworthy to mention that this is the only Roadmaster release to feature drummer, Stephen Riley, who would later join The B'zz, WASP and LA Guns.

The album is a somewhat bland MOR effort, though it does feature some diversity with the presence of saxophones, congas and other percussion instruments. This mixture gives the album a certain latin feel, though it is very subtle. Most of the material here is subpar and beckons the Doobie Brothers in many places. A startling contrast to the quality writing that would be seen on subsequent albums, "Roadmaster" is best viewed as something to provide perspective and the evolution of a band that would go on to greater things later. Released on Village Records, this album has yet to see reissue. Enjoy it here and keep that Roadmaster collection growing!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Storm - Storm (1983)

California's Storm came together in early 1976, quickly fashioning a sound unlike anything else springing from the region. Led by the powerhouse vocals of Jeanette Chase, the band built a strong reputation while slugging it out in the trenches of the gritty Los Angeles scene. Soon, The Troubador became regular host to many of the band's legendary shows, which ultimately led the band to producer, Roy Thomas Baker. Though Baker was unable to produce any recordings with the band, he did manage to land the band a recording deal with ABC/Dunhill Records in 1977. Just before the band were set to begin sessions for their debut, a major shakeup at the label prompted MCA Records to take ownership, effectively halting the band's progress. Luckily, MCA agreed to keep the band aboard & after another year of contractual negotiations, Storm completed their self-titled debut, which hit the stores in 1979. Though the album was met with critical approval and european success, the band's unique sound fell upon deaf ears in the states and "Storm" sunk like a stone.

Unfazed, the band spent the next four years securing another contract, and soon Capitol Records were shuffling the band into the studio for their followup in 1983. That year, their sophomore album (another self-titled release) "Storm" hit the streets. In the wake of the burgeoning "hair metal" scene on the west coast, the label spent most of their efforts securing the "next big thing", leaving Storm with little promotion or distribution. As a result, Storm were homeless by 1984 and quickly ceased operations later that year. The whereabouts of band personnel are foggy, but Jeanette later found regional success as a country artist. The band's cult following prompted a mini-resurgence for the band several years ago and now Storm have reformed with the intention of recording a third album.

"Storm" is an incredible piece of cinematic AOR hard rock. Sounding like a heavier female fronted Meat Loaf, the tracks here burst with majestic grandiosity. Track after track the band's sound swells with energy, conviction and an epic power that beckons Queen, Led Zeppelin and Sweet. Gone are the quirky pseudo new wave tendencies and in their place, an edgy hard rock sheen has emerged. With precise production, monolithic arrangements and pitch perfect vocal harmonies, "Storm" sounds like something from a hollywood epic film. Perhaps this over the top sense of perspective was just too much for audiences who were falling in love with three chord glam metal, and it's a real injustice that this band and album were overlooked when it counted. In retrospect, Storm and their body of work have earned accolades of not only diehard obscurophiles, but also industry insiders as well. Not enough can be said about this fine album. Though their debut is also excellent, this release trumps it in every sense. I HIGHLY recommend everyone download this unsung jewel, brought to you by 'daz', and appreciate the brilliance of Storm. Better late than never...

Wrabit - West Side Kid (1983)

And finally, by request, Wrabit's third and final album, "West Side Kid". Issued in 1983, the album marks a clear decline in songwriting for the band. The signature sound has been diluted to mere run-of-the-mill arena rock and it's evident from the opening strains of "Waiting", that this is a band going through the motions. Keyboards take a more prominent role in the proceedings and the vocals have taken a turn towards hard rock histrionics with little dynamic texturing. Put honestly, this is the weakest of this fine band's output. Sounding like a weaker latter day Rainbow, the tracks here just lack the distinctiveness they need to be memorable. There's nothing here offensively bad, but there's nothing here that demands you attention either. In spite of this album's weaknesses, "West Side Kid" is worthy of a second look...if anything, to contrast the the two stronger albums that came before it. This completes the recorded output by Wrabit. Snag this one to complete the collection.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Snakeye - Shape Up Or Ship Out (1980)

From the "Nova Scotia Classic Rock" site: Formed under the leadership of Allard Barkhouse (Langley Beach Crowd) in 1971 with Jim White (Pepper Tree), Tony Argent (Pepper Tree) and Ken Umphrie (Melody Fair). This line-up recorded the Keith Jollimore produced "Blue Feelin'" album which was recorded at Toronto's Thunder Sound but not released until 1975. Barkhouse co-wrote all songs with various members and wrote all the lyrics himself. In 1973, the "Choked Up" single was released on United Artists with a horn section added, where the album version had not.

Over the next few years several personnel changes occurred. Umphrie was replaced by Gordon Tucker (Double Blind) for a time but later returned. In June of 1974, Steve Brown (Juckatar) and Cedric Upshaw (Dogrib) replaced White and Argent. When Umphrie left for a second time in 1975, he was replaced by Steve Russell (Shawnasae, Melody Fair). Neil MacKinnon (Sun Machine) joined in 1976 on keyboards replacing Brown. In July 1976, Upshaw left and joined the Halifax Police Department. He was replaced by John Lake (Sandy Road). Lake had to leave the band because of personal commitments and was replaced by Glen Torreson (Taboo) until his return. When MacKinnon returned to Sun Machine, Amherst guitarist Drew Moore (McCreek) was brought in as his replacement. The Barkhouse produced "Shape Up Or Ship Out" was recorded at Solar Audio between March and September of 1979 and released the following year. Lake, Torreson and Moore all played on the album. Two songs "Believe Me Lady" and "See The Sun" that were on the first album were re-recorded for this album. Again, all songs were band originals.

The band toured Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces several times before they broke up in 1982. Barkhouse relocated to Toronto for several years before returning to Halifax in the mid 90's and reunited with Lake to form Barkhouse, Lake and Cook. In 1999, he brought back the name Snakeye when Cook was replaced by former Minglewood Band bassist Donnie Hann. Upshaw went on to be one of the founding members of "Blue Thunder".

"Shape Up Or Ship Out" is a solid AOR effort, with less an emphasis on pomp and more focus on solid straightforward rock. With excellent harmonies and vocals that sometimes beckons David Byron, Snakeye put together a credible collection of tunes that belies their homegrown roots. Though this cult band failed to reach a massive audience in north america, the production is sharp and the stunning packaging is quite impressive for a band on a modest budget. Copies of this album are very hard to come by and typically command a high price. The same can also be said about the band's debut, though there's a huge stylistic evolution between the two releases. I recommend this gem if you are a fan of Oakley, Hammersmith or 451°. A special thanks to 'daz' for this fine contrubition.

Alexis - Alexis (1977)

Denver sextet Alexis were formed in 1974 and spent the first two years hitting the circuit in the southwest before finally landing a contract with MCA Records in 1976. The following year, their self-titled debut was released and the band were on the road with major artists like Foreigner, Styx, UFO and Atlanta Rhythm Section. Despite constant touring, Alexis were unable to generate enough interest to sustain themselves and MCA promptly dropped the band. It is not known how long the band continued on before splitting, but vocalist/keyboardist Eddie Ulibarri did resurface as a session player and currently performs with No Nation.

Alexis were a classic example of a band with enough talent to surpass what they actually created. Put simply, the album is marred by the inconsistency of their songwriting. With erratic changes from style to style, "Alexis" never manages to captivate the listener. There are dashes of greatness, especially the edgier material, but much of the album is mired in banality. Shifting between prog, hard rock and easy listening, there are no audible threads pulling these genre hopping songs together. Sounding like Pablo Cruise meets Head East meets Chicago, there's just no real unity in the music on this record. To their credit, the band are quite accomplished at everything they attempt here, but the scattershot writing undermines any real appreciation of the album as a whole. Having said that, I urge downloaders to approach with caution and expect to only find a few tracks with strong appeal. Have at it and enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stonebolt - Keep It Alive (1979)

Here's another offering from Stonebolt, who have been featured elsewhere here. "Keep It Alive", is a major improvement over the debut. With a far more balanced AOR stance firmly in place here, the band finally get to show off their great harmonies and musicianship by sidestepping the pedestrian country sound of their debut and opting for a more radio friendly rock direction. The result is a highly improved effort, filled with hooks galore. Though some of the material is muted by plaintive vocals, the songwriting itself is by and large great. This release sparked a series of similarly well written albums from the band over the next few years.

At the present, none of the band's proper studio albums have seen reissue, though a retrospective was issued several years ago. This one needs to heard in its entirety, so I'm including this excellent vinyl rip here for your listening enjoyment. Check out Stonebolt at their most potent...

Target - Target (1976)

Memphis hard rock quintet, Target, were formed in 1974 and featured one Jimi Jameson, who would later turn up in Cobra and Survivor. After a few years of touring the midwest, the band secured a record deal with A&M Records and issued their self-titled debut in 1976. The band immediately took to the road, supporting many of the era's biggest artists, but failed to see any chart action. Undaunted, the band issued their followup effort "Captured" the following year, but sales continued to dwindle until Target were without a contract. They disbanded in 1978 as musical climates were beginning to shift in new directions. Jamison would form Cobra before finally landing a spot in Survivor, where he would enjoy several years of national success. In recent years, Jamison has been recording and touring with his own incarnation of Survivor.

Considering Jamison's reputation as an arena rock frontman, "Target" comes as quite a surprise. With a hard southern rock sound, the album comes closer to Molly Hatchet or Blackfoot than it does anything related to his work with Survivor. Though the hooks are subtle for the most part, this is an excellent batch of heavy 70's rock. Sadly, the band failed to ignite the charts or airwaves perhaps due to lack of a strong indentity. In any case, "Target" is definitely worthy of a download and since there are no reissues on the horizon, this decent vinyl will have to do. Check it and dig Target.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ironhorse - Ironhorse (1979)

Winnipeg's Ironhorse were formed in 1978 after Randy Bachman had exited BTO and exeprienced failure as a solo artist. With new label backing by Scotti Brothers, Bachman assembled the band while recording demos for what would eventually become Ironhorse's debut album. The album hit the streets in 1979 and quickly their first single cracked the Billboard Top 40. Two subsequent singles and a North Amercian tour brought the band moderate success, but pressure from the label to refine the sound resulted in the ousting of keyboardist Tom Sparks. Ex-Trooper keysman Frank Ludwig stepped into the vacancy and the band's sophomore album "Everything Is Grey" was released in 1980. The singles from the album failed to chart and the band's fortunes went from hopeful to hopeless, prompting the band to split after their final tour stop in 1981. Bachman would soon draft Ex-BTO bassist CF Turner, as well as two Ironhorse members for his new project, Union. He has also issued numerous solo recordings over the years, as well as several brief reunions with BTO and The Guess Who.

"Ironhorse" unsurprisingly bears shades of late period BTO, with a greater emphasis on pop. Though the material is mostly decent, there does seem to be something lacking in the songwriting. Nothing major, but there's a homogenized sound that sees Bachman at his most frivolous. Without the contrast of Bachman & CF Turner's voices (as had been the case with BTO), Ironhorse simply suffers as a result of Bachman's rather unrefined vocals. Though Sparks vocals are significantly better, the lifeless production renders much of the material bland. Overall, "Ironhorse" is a pleasant album that just never quite reaches transcendence. It's still worth a listen, so be sure to check this offering from 'orchman' and see what Ironhorse was all about.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Claw - Diggin' In (1978)

Claw's backstory is murky at best, but it's believed that the Illinois band came together in the early 70's. They issued a privately pressed album, "Diggin' In" in 1978 and remained in virtual obscurity until eventually folding a few years later. The current activities of the band members are not known.

"Diggin' In" is a real rarity among collectors, though it should be noted that it is likely due to the elusiveness of the record itself moreso than the quality of the music. Quite honestly, the album is a pedestrian blues based hard rock affair with substandard vocals, one dimensional writing and flat production. The band's absolute butchery of "Eleanor Rigby" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The songs are merely jams rather than fully fleshed songs. If the musicianship had been stellar, perhaps my opinion would be different, but this is not the case. In the end, Claw sounds like a weaker and lighter Roxx. Since this blog is meant to bring obscurities to the surface, I've included it here for your judgement. Here's "Diggin' In".

Morningstar - Venus (1979)

Contrary to the "sophomore jinx" that often plagues bands upon the release of their second album, Morningstar's "Venus" is almost a companion piece to its predecessor. Like the self-titled debut (posted earlier here), the band's sound is laden with a distinct AOR style that brings in very subtle shades of hard rock as well. This time around, the emphasis is placed on straightforward writing and much of the prog leanings are gone, but the band's sense of melody is more obvious here. With a sound not unlike Elefante era Kansas, Morningstar did what they did well, but ultimately the lack of a strong identity kept the band on the fringes while many of their more distinct contemporaries enjoyed success. This shortcoming aside, "Venus" is a fabulous way to familiarize yourself with one of Kansas City's most beloved 70's acts. Dig this excellent transfer from 'residentevil2'...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Crowcuss - Starting To Show (1980)

Canada's Crowcuss have the distinction of being one of the better bands with a relation to the legendary Guess Who. Formed by Guess Who alumni, Bill Wallace and Greg Leskiw in 1976, the quintet landed a deal with Stoney Plain Records and released their self-titled debut the following year. Soon the band was off touring the country with many of the successful canadian acts of the era, bringing them to a wider audience in the process. At the conclusion of a long tour, the band entered the studio (sans Leskiw) and recorded their followup, "Starting To Show", which hit the streets in early 1979. More touring ensued, but it wasn't long before internal conflict, managerial disputes and difficulties with their label forced Wallace to jump ship, effectively grounding the band for good.

"Starting To Show" is an excellent effort with a perfect balance of pop and AOR. With inventive melodies, tight instrumentation and fabulous vocal harmonies, it just doesn't get any better than this. Similar to bands like Mayday, MPG and a lighter Wrabit, Crowcuss displays a knack for infectiously addictive songwriting. With a bloodline like theirs, it's really strange that the band were not able to break internationally. With proper promotion and higher visibility, who knows where this would have taken them. Sadly, we'll never know but we can listen to this in retrospect and marvel at this stellar offering from the great white north. Straight from 'aor66', dig this excellent vinyl rip!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Missouri - Welcome Two Missouri (1979)

Southern rockers, Missouri, hail from Kansas City & came together in 1975. Led by Ron West, brother of Shooting Star's Gary West, the band began as a studio project, but the success of their self-titled debut prompted the band to tour across the country for two years. Released by Panama Records in 1977, "Missouri" spawned a regional hit single "Movin' On" which eventually led to a contract with Polydor Records the following year. The band were shuffled into the studio without much preparation and in 1979, "Welcome Two Missouri" hit store shelves. Though the material was surprisingly strong, especially under the rushed circumstances, the tastes of music lovers were beginning to change and by 1980, Missouri were without a record deal. For four more years, the band struggled to secure a contract, only to split in 1984. Since the split, the band resurfaced for a tour in 1994. Former members went on to performing with various local acts in Kansas City, as well as forays into production and numerous activities outside of the business. Ron West is currently in talks for another band revival.

"Welcome Two Missouri" is an excellent southern hard rock album with just enough sleek precision to please sophisticados. Complete with trademark twin guitars, like many of their southern rock peers, Missouri crank out one classic cut after another to create a consistently strong batch of songs. Unlike the Allman Brothers, Little Feat or Marshall Tucker Band, Missouri craft concise hook driven southern rock without overindulgence. Fans of Atlanta Rhythm Section, Hydra or Blackfoot will find much to enjoy here. Check out this contribution from 'orchman' and see for yourselves.

Taste - Tickle Your Fancy (1976)

Here's the debut release from Australia's Taste, who were featured here recently. Unlike the band's second and final album, their debut is a bit heavier and aggressive. Released in 1976, "Tickle Your Fancy" is a tight batch of quirky hard rock songs brimming with a unique melodic point of view. Considering the young age of the band, alot of the material here is surprisingly accomplished, both in performance and songwriting. Though the hooks are very subtle, the entire album taken as a whole is a rewarding listening experience through and through. This unique hard rock effort deserves to be heard, so be sure to download and hear this offering from down under.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Doc Holliday - Modern Medicine (1983)

Doc Holliday formed in the late 70's in Macon, Georgia. Led by vocalist/guitarist, Bruce Brookshire, the band built a solid fanbase in the southeast from relentless touring of the region. They soon came to the attention of A&M Records who eventually released their self-titled debut in 1981. The album managed to enter the Billboard Top 40 in the states and soon the band were cultivating a strong cult following in europe. When their followup, "Rides Again" was issued the following year, the band had become celebrities overseas while their career began to wane in the US. This downslide only worsened upon the release of their third effort, "Moden Medicine", which saw the band employing modern hard rock & AOR elements into their southern flavored sound. The lack of response from their stateside following prompted the band to split at the conclusion of their tour in 1984.

Within two years, a restructured lineup resurrected the name and Doc Holliday resumed where they left off, producing five more studio albums and a live album over the next eighteen years. The band continue to tour on both sides of the Atlantic to this day, with their european following intact and still growing.

"Modern Medicine" is a clever balance of Molly Hatchet and Survivor (for lack of a better comparison), with the band modernizing their sound to bring wider appeal. It's less redneck and more arena rock, though Brookshire's voice still brings its southern charm to the mix. Production flaws aside, the album is a fairly consistent batch of AOR melodic rock with just enough muscle to keep the band's edge. With an opening track like, "City Night", one can't help but hear that the band is beginning to run out of original sounding material. This track, in particular, sounds an awful lot like Foreigner's "Head Games". The majority of tracks here, though, are ripe with melodic hooks and subtle new wavey soundscapes, making this a very unique sounding southern rock album. Taken on its own merits, "Modern Medicine" is a worthy effort and deserving of a listen. More Doc Holliday material to come in the coming weeks, but for now, enjoy this nugget from the dirty south.

Karroll Brothers - Karroll Brothers (1978)

Canada's Karroll Brothers consisted of three brothers (Peter, Paul and John) and Steven Balison. Formed in early 1970, the Karroll Brothers have a rather foggy backstory, but is is know that they amassed quite a repertoire of original material before finally issuing their self-titled debut on their own private label in 1978. The album fared well in the pacific northwestern region of the states, as well as parts of Canada. Touring in support of many legendary acts ensued over the next few years, while the band continued issuing albums.

Though the band's activities are in flux at the present, the band have stated they intend on recording a live album. Some of the band's previously issued material was remastered for CD in 2001. Peter has also been working in publishing and production for numerous canadian acts like Bif Naked and Annihilator.

"Karroll Brothers" perplexes me, because it does contain some decent material, but it seems tame when considering the band's self-proclaimed "high energy rock" status. Most of what can be found here is decent, if unremarkable, classic rock with slight AOR flourishes. Synths can be found all over the place, but only as a means of coloring the arrangements. The melodies seem to be the downfall here, as they do little to enhance the memorability of the material. Most of the tracks here are midtempo and lackadaisical, doing little to create dynamic peaks and valleys. To their credit, the musicianship is tight and proficient...but ultimately, they fail to mask the ordinary feel of this album. Since this is merely my opinion, I urge everyone to grab this and reach their own conclusion. Enjoy this 'orchman' vinyl rip...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Potliquor - Potliquor (1979)

Here's another release from Louisiana's Potliquor. By 1979, the band had undergone noticable changes both with an overhaul of the entire lineup(minus bassist Guy Schaeffer) and the band's musical direction. Where classic Potliquor were drenched in gospel influenced southern rock, this reborn lineup were aiming more for Allman Brothers territory. Along with a lineup change, the band also found a new home at Capitol Records, which presented greater career possibilities than their previous contract with the smaller Janus label. Whether this change prompted mass resistance is not known, but surely fans were divided when the singles from this effort hit the airwaves later that year. It is known that the band toured for a year or so before collapsing completely. Members went on to work in various bands as well as pursuing other interests outside of the business.

So how does it stand up to the Potliquor legacy? It doesn't one way or the other. It's a whole ball of wax in its own right. With Ratzlaff's bellowing voice out of the equation, Potliquor's sound has adopted a more radio friendly style, that is admittedly more faceless than their previous work. In spite of this setback, there are some great moments captured here with a smoother and more refined sound at the forefront. Though the album did manage to net the band airplay in southern markets , it failed to meet both critical and consumer expectations. It's a shame, because taken on its own, "Potliquor" is a decent southern rock effort. Take a quick listen and judge for yourself.

Snowmen - Snowmen (1982)

Snowmen were another mystery band, whose roots and history are veiled in obscurity. Hailing from California, the band were known for their bizarre image, with each member dressed fully in white clothing, white facepaint and white hair. The band's sole release was a private pressing on Ice Records, which hit regional music stores in 1982. The band were met with indifference and drifted apart by the middle of 1983. Nothing is known of the members current activities.

"Snowmen" is a pretty solid AOR affair with a dash of early 80's hard rock thrown in for good measure. There's nothing outstanding found here, but the album does contain a Kim Fowley co-write, "Trouble". Overall, this is a respectable effort full of mostly midtempo hard rock. The band's fantastic harmonies, production and musicianship do elevate this above most standard homegrown productions. I'll let you, the jury, decide. Thanks to 'Daz', you can all download and indulge in a truly obscure and theatrical Cali hard rock act.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wrabit - Tracks (1982)

Continuing with another Wrabit entry, this is their second album released in 1982. Not much has changed since their debut, except the music has gotten a bit heavier. Fans of hard edged arena rock will have little to complain about here. With a slightly different lineup. Wrabit successfully took the challenge and forged ahead with stellar results. "Tracks" is practically a sister album to their debut, with the tone, wuality of musicianship and radio friendly hooks of their first. It seems that Wrabit chose to defy trends by creating an AOR album that features less prominent keyboards, which was typically the reverse of what many other acts were doing during this period. The result is an edgy yet sleek batch of songs that should've been tright at home on FM stations across the contintent.

As fate would have it, America was not listening and thus, Wrabit toiled for another few years before finally throwing in the towel. This, however, is an excellent release that is sure to win more fans now than it ever did in 1982. Try it out and see what you think. This is damn fine canadian rock, folks...

Cruiser - Rollin' With the Times (1980)

Montreal's Cruiser are most known for their association with April Wine, having been the home of ex-drummer Richie Henman. Not much is known about the band's history, but their debut, "Rollin' With the Times", was issued in 1980 by Network Records and was seemingly met with great critical favor. Apparently the band even received interest from a major label, but split before their followup album could be completed. After the band split, Ed Stevens continued in the business working with Leyden Zar, as well as releasing instrumental music and working on soundtracks. The remaining member's whereabouts are unknown.

The album is a fantastic and diverse collection of tracks that touches on elements of hard rock, pop and AOR with wry lyricism and clever vocal arrangements. Most of the tracks here are excellent, with no shortage of hooks and tight musicianship. The band really hits its creative stride towards the end of the album, leaving the listener fully satisfied at its conclusion. Fans of Harlequin, Prism or Russia will find something to like here. Snap this one up, straight from the 'orchman' archives and hear the awe inspiring potential of one of Canada's forgotten talents.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Roadmaster - Hey World (1979)

Another Roadmaster post for everyone here. "Hey World" is their third album, which continues their climb from standard midwest hard rock to AOR pomp. The hooks are still very subtle and the keyboards have taken a more prominent role than before. Depending on your preference, that can be good or bad. The band's sound is a bit softer than their previous releases, with an emphasis on pop more than hard rock. I personally consider this an improvement over their two preceding albums, though it doesn't quite stand up to the band's final studio album, "Fortress". In any case, lovers of midwestern arena rock should devour this one up. It's worthy of its entry here and deserves to be revisited all these years later. Enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blitz - Oga Erutuf (1975)

Like Roxx, Cleveland's Blitz have a similarly shrouded back story. Presumably formed in the early 70's, Blitz took on a theatrical image comparable more to early Sweet than Kiss, complete with tribal makeup and glittery outfits. The band managed to release one album, on the private TEMA label in 1978, though it is noted that the material was actually recorded in 1975. Considering the year of these recordings, there quite a progressive sound here. Not so much traditional "prog" as just hard rock with a very forward thinking point of view, Blitz laid down an album's worth of tracks that sound like they could've been recorded in the late 70's instead. With hooks aplenty and a solid musical foundation, "Oga Erutuf" is strangely prophetic like it's thinly disguised title (Future Ago) and stands as one of the most solidly assembled private recordings of its time. Though the production leaves something desired, the quality of the writing is good enough to overlook this flaw. With straightforward rock and slight folk tendencies, Blitz put together an impressive album that stands the test of time.

Download this monster obscurity and take a listen to Blitz...this is good stuff. I kid you not!

Stumblebunny - Stumblebunny (1979)

Stumblebunny's roots trace back to 1976 in New York City. Masterminded by Chris Robison (Steam and Elephant's Memory) who had recently been released from the New York Dolls touring lineup, Stumblebunny was assembled haphazardly over several months before premiering at Max's Kansas City in early 1977. Shortly thereafter, the band issued a self produced EP to much regional success. Though the band received lukewarm press at best, they did manage to land a contract with european label, Phonogram and toured extensively through the continent until half the band defected in late 1979. With an album "While You Were Out" in stores, the band worked tirelessly to promote themselves, but to little avail. Unable to build upon their momentum, the band began to fracture and members found themselves pursuing other opportunities (i.e. Nite Caps) instead. Robison went on to record solo albums and children's music, which he has done successfully for some years now.

"Stumblebunny" is a rock solid example of late 70's folky powerpop that echoes traces of Badfinger, Raspberries and the Hollies. Though their sound is nothing new to the ears, the album is solid from start to finish. With Robison's thinly veiled references to the homosexual lifestyle, Stumblebunny were one of the forerunners of "gay rock" and are championed by the gay community for their open stance on the subject. Sexual preferences notwithstanding, "Stumblebunny" is a fantastic slab of melodic goodness and I recommend open minded listeners to breathe in the album's every nuance. I'm sure you'll dig it!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hero - Boys Will Be Boys (1978)

Hero hailed from Los Angeles and came together after several years of gigging under various lineups in the early 70's. Formed by brothers Curt (keyboards) and Mark (bass) Houle, it was 1975 before the band's permanent lineup would take shape. That came with the addition of sixteen year old guitar whiz, Neil Citron and drummer Jeff Jones. When local heroes Hollywood Stars replaced their lead singer, Scott Phares, Hero became his new home. The band signed with Con Merten agency and within a year, producer Michael Lloyd had helped the band to sign with Mercury Records. Their self-titled debut was issued in 1977 and despite a few well written singles, the album stalled and Hero were quickly dropped from their contract.

Merten and Lloyd were unwavering believers in the band and vowed to find the band a new home. The following year, 20th Century Records added Hero to their roster and "Boys Will Be Boys" was released. Again, the band and label were unable to create a buzz and Hero found themselves without a label in 1979. Luckily, Lloyd was able to produce a sole single for the band in 1980, released on Australian label, Interplanetary Records. The single barely dented the charts and Hero's relationship with Merten and Lloyd came to an end. The band returned to the LA club circuit and actively performed there in various lineup until 1983. Citron went on to become a solo artist and session player. Jones and the Houle brothers began a production company and remain active in studio engineering and session work. Phares retired from the business altogether and relocated to Texas.

Hero were one of those bargain bin discoveries of mine while working in radio during the early 80's. I immediately fell in love with their sound and remain an ardent fan to this day. This, their sophomore release, is an energetic batch of songs that are just dying to be heard by the public at large. With emotive vocals from Phares and Houle's insane keyboard runs in full effect, the album creates a sound unlike anything that was popular at the time. Hammond organs were by and large a thing of the past by the end of the 70's and hearing them all over this album gives it an unusual vibe. One listen to the keyboard solo in "You Take My Breath Away" and it's evident that Hero were still tethered to their musical roots, but this works to great effect throughout. With the exception of the corny "Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay" and the drippy "It's Only Make Believe", the rest of the album is stellar. This is primo LA rock with a sound all its own. Snag this fantastic transfer from Rob and crank it up loud. This is a band you don't want to miss!

Grand Hotel - Grand Hotel (1979)

Grand Hotel were a british studio project who came and went so quickly that most people are completely unfamiliar with the name. Assembled in the studio by CBS Records, the sextet featured former Bandit guitarist, Danny McIntosh along with Colin Campsie, Robert Green, Ivan Penfold, George McFarlane and Graham Broad. Their sole effort hit store shelves in 1979, but despite major label support, the album slipped into obscurity shortly after its release, thus effectively ending this project for good. McFarlane and Campsie wnet on to form The Quick and later, Giant Steps. McIntosh joined Kate Bush as a supporting guitarist and continues collaborating with her at the present. Penfold kept a low profile until resurfacing in 1995 with Ivan's Head, who released one album that year. Broad has kept busy doing double duty with Roger Waters and Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. Green's whereabouts are unknown.

Despite their lukewarm reception, Grand Hotel were capable of creating some dazzling sonics, evidenced here by this fine album. With a potent blend of AOR, progressive rock and funk, the band brings tightness and sheer virtuosity to the fore, with only a handful of weak tracks. The opening track, "Stranger in a Strange Town", is a perfect demonstration of the band's driving rhythms and stellar vocal harmonies. Other highlights include the brass driven funk of "Lightyears", the straightforward punch of "Reach For the Light" and the swaggering "No Dice". The true standouts are "Somebody Please" and "Secret Life", both which are tailored for massive radio airplay. It's a real shame that this album didn't reach wider visibility, since the majority of music here is top notch. There's little to dislike about this fine obscure release from 1979. Check out this sweet transfer from reader 'aor66' and relish in the beauty of this true AOR rarity.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spy - Spy (1980)

Spy were a New England sextet brought together by Don Kirshner in late 1979, likely as heirs to the throne recently vacated by a flagging Kansas. With Kansas exploring new territories to less success than ever before, Spy were assembled in an effort to assure Kirshner's stronghold in the AOR movement that was in full swing during this time. Comprised of seasoned session players and regional talents, the band consisted of vocalist John Visclocky (ex-Mirthrandir), guitarist Dave Nelson (ex-Nektar), violinist Danny Seidenberg, keyboardist Dave LeBolt, bassist Michael Visceglia and drummer Bob Goldman. In 1980, Kirshner Records issued the band's self-titled debut and despite strong material, the band almost immediately imploded. Spy went as quickly as they came, perhaps because audiences weren't interested in a Kansas clone. The members all went on to work with numerous artists like Suzanne Vega, Turtle Island String Quartet and Foreigner, as well as forays into production, session work and film soundtracks.

So were Spy really Kansas clones? Well, yes and no. Bearing the kind of conventional prog style Kansas were known for, the band were more akin to Styx than anyone else. With harmonies and keyboard flourishes inspired by "Pieces of Eight", the band were essentially a second tier tribute to the sounds that other bands had made famous. If one can forgive this creative misstep, the album itself is an impressive batch of songs. The true weak link here is Vislocky, who sounds out of his league in comparison with the wizardry happening on the instrumental end of things. Though their frontman was slightly lacking the chops for the job, the monstrous harmonies dripping from each track were jaw dropping. Though this album could've been more successful had it not been for Kirshners ridiculous hyping of the band at the time of this release, it was soon relegated to the retail cutout bins instead.

In recent years, the album has gained a whole new audience of prog lovers and AOR fanatics who champion the band and album like a priceless forgotten relic. As to whether this kind of fervor is justified, well, you'd best download and decide for yourself. I quite like this effort and am happy to have it in my collection. Thanks to a fabulous rip from Rob, we can all enjoy this gem from 1980!

Thundermug - Who's Running My World? (1994)

As promised, here is Thundermug's official "comeback" album from 1994. Sounding much more like ZZ Top than the heavy glam sound they pioneered two decades earlier, "Who's Running My World?" may be a shock to the system for ardent Thundermug fans. Though it's clearly inferior to any of the band's classic output and even their final release in 1997, the album is mostly well written bluesy hard rock with plenty of razor sharp wit in the mix. Though the band's musical fireworks are more restrained here, the album is, at worst, a decent entry in the band's canon. For more background on the band, please refer to my earlier posts here,

Please pardon the low bitrate here, as this is the best I have but it does come straight from the out of print CD...enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Quick Head's Up...PLEASE READ!

Just decided to put an email link at the bottom of the right margin on this page. This will be for any requests you might have, as well as any contributions you wish to provide. For now, it will make both processes run a little smoother so that all requests and submissions are filtering through the same place. I just want to be able to keep track of who to credit for submissions and who to direct fulfilled requests to. Fair enough?

Also, I'll be experimenting with Sharebee hosting for the time being. If anyone experiences ongoing trouble with one of the uploads I've sent there, please let me know. I'm hoping this change will accomodate some of our international visitors who cannot access Megaupload. Cross your fingers!

Champion - Champion (1978)

Champion is a name most probably are not familiar with, though their bloodline is littered with acts that have scaled various heights of success both before and after the band's short existence. When David Byron was unceremoniously ousted from Uriah Heep in 1976, he quickly assembled a new band called Rough Diamond. That band featured ace guitarist Clem Clempson, who had previously been with acts like Bakerloo, Colosseum, Humble Pie and Strange Brew. Alongside Clempson was Geoff Britton, who had worked for several years in East of Eden and Wings. Though the band possessed enough talent and drive to take them to new heights, their sole effort on Island Records in 1977 failed to ignite the charts and Byron promptly exited the band later that year. With Byron now pursuing a solo career, the band brought in replacement vocalist Garry Bell and were soon snapped up by Epic Records. In 1978, the band released their self-titled album under their new moniker, Champion.

Essentially, Champion were a studio project and the band did not tour to support the album. The option to tour was left open to the band and label, providing that album sales demanded such...but sales were disappointing and both the band and label agreed to part ways. Clempson and Bell would later issue a double sided single in 1980, and Clempson would continue onward working with Jack Bruce, Jon Anderson and a reunited Colosseum in subsequent years. Britton later joined Keys in the early 80's.

"Champion" is a groovy soul/blues styled album that follows suit with much of what Grand Funk were also doing in the late 70's. With a sound that falls more into MOR territory and less heavy rock, the album is a bit pedestrian in delivery but with its share of hooks. "Sha-La-La", "You Knock Me Out" and "Say Goodnight" are all exceptional tracks, while the remainder of the album is a little more faceless. Despite the blandness here, this is a decent album that deserves at least a spin or two, if anything, because of the band's star studded lineage. Thanks to 'orchman' for this contribution. Check it and see what you think...

Couchois - Couchois (1979)

Here's one requested by a reader. Couchois were originally comprised of three brothers, Pat, Mike and Chris Couchois, who along with Chas Carlson and Howard Messer, released two albums in the late 70's. Prior to the formation of the band, Chris, Pat and Howard toured and released two albums with Ratchell in the early 70's. After the dissolution of Ratchell, the trio brought in younger brother Mike and Chas Carlson and dubbed themselves after the family namesake. Couchois secured a contract with Warner Brothers in the late 70's and their eponymous debut came in 1979. Sporting an MOR west coast sound, the band were akin to artists like Pablo Cruise and Firefall. Sadly, with the high profile success of those two bands, Couchois were essentially unable to create an identity to set themselves apart from the herd.

The band did enter the studio to record and release their sophomore album, "Nasty Hardware" in 1980. Though the album featured a slightly more updated sound with light AOR flourishes, it failed to connect with audiences and the band soon faded into oblivion. The Couchois brothers would later work with Eric Burdon in the early 80's. Currently, two of them tour in the Allmost Brothers tribute band.

This album is more an exercise in light than shade, with silky smooth arrangements, bright harmonies and a subtle latin influence in places. Very middle of the road, "Couchois" rarely diverges from being just pleasant. Nothing stellar happening here, and nothing terrible. This is a safe and rather inoffensive collection of soft rock. Though this is not my kind of thing, there's certainly a demand (albeit small) for this kind of period music, therefore it's included here for your consumption. Straight from crisp vinyl, check out Couchois.

Alpha Centauri - Alpha Centauri (1977)

Alpha Centauri were hatched in Greely, Colorado in 1971. The trio consisted of Jess Redmon (guitar), Kurt Smith (drums) and Randy Thompson (vocals, keyboards) and for four years, the band labored the Colorado club circuit to great local success. In 1975, Garth Hannah (vocals, bass) was brought into the fold, fleshing out the band's sound. Shortly after expanding the lineup, the band packed up and moved to Canada in hopes of reaching a more diverse audience, which ultimately landed them a contract with Salt Records in 1976. Over the next few months, the band worked meticulously in the studio until their self-titled debut hit the streets in early 1977. Canadian audiences took notice of the quartet and soon the band were the subject of a CBC television special.

For the next two years, the band enjoyed success in their new home and anticipated their next album. Sadly, by 1979 things were changing in the music scene at large. Punk and New Wave were stirring things up and Alpha Centauri struggled to keep and expand their core audience. It wasn't until 1983 that the band finally concluded that their time had come and gone, prompting them to split that summer. Redmon went on to work with Chad Allen as well as working in production, eventually forming a band bearing his namesake. He continues performing with them in Greely to this day. Thompson and Smith also returned home, gigging with local band, Eyez. Hannah's post breakup activities are unknown.

Alpha Centauri have often been referred to as the 'World's Best Undiscovered Pomp Band', prompting collector's to doggedly serach for copies of this unsung gem. So is the claim accurate? Well, maybe not completely, but there's no denying the band's talent or the quality of their sole release. With a tip of the hat to Uriah Heep, the band plays with conviction throughout, but points must be docked for their somewhat derivative sound. Complete with Byronesque vocals and slide guitars that evoke Mick Box, it's impossible not to notice the Uriah Heep similarities. "Love Is a Curse" is perhaps the most obvious reference point, with riffing and rhythms that come straight from "Wonderworld" era Heep. In spite of the lack of originality, the album pulses with precision from start to finish and is worthy of review. Subsequent listens may only be optional to those who don't mind hearing something derivative.

Whatever your tastes, a legendary album like this deserves to be heard and since the reissue has long gone out of print, I'm posting it here for your approval. Listen and learn about this often discussed act from Colorado!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Bandit [USA] - Bandit (1975)

Not to be confused with Australia's Bandit, this act sprang from the Pacific Northwest in late 1974 and featured Joey Newman on guitar and keyboards. Newman was quite a figure on the scene, having been a member of Don & the Good Times, Blue Mountain Eagle, Touch and the infamous, Stepson. Bringing his own experience to the fold was drummer Dan Gorman, who had previously played with Los Angeles superstars, The Yellow Payges. Rounding out the lineup were guitarist Davis Della Rosa, bassist Kevin Barnhill and vocalist Tommy Eaton. It's safe to assume that Newman's association with ABC Records during sessions for Stepson's sole release, is at least partly responsible for the formation of Bandit and their self-titled debut, which they issued in 1975.

Taking cues from Stepson, as well as other heavy soul influenced acts like Crow and Mother's Finest, the band's sound was a bit out of sync with much of what was popular in the mid 70's and ultimately this direction was their undoing. The band began imploding at the end of a short tour supporting numerous larger acts and by 1976, ABC chose to drop the band, signalling their death the same year. Little is known about the subsequent activities of the members, though Newman did work with the Osmonds and Shaun Cassidy in later years.

"Bandit" is a fine slab of soul driven hard rock that effortlessly shifts from grit to subtlety. At times, the band goes straight for the Motown sound with total abandon, while at other times they can be heard at full steam, complete with Eddie Hazel inspired guitars and a smoking rhythm section. Eaton's smoldering vocals morph from Gaye smoothness to Cocker bravado all in the span of a single track. The soulful female backup singers provide the proverbial icing on the cake. There's very little not to absolutely love about this well assembled album. Simply awesome. Need proof? Check out this flawless vinyl transfer, brought to you by reader 'mamedia' and get the goods while they're hot...

Strongbow - Strongbow (1975)

Columbus, Ohio was home to Strongbow, whose life began in the middle of 1973. Initially a four piece, the band expanded to a quintet after a few months of gigging and soon landed a contract with Southwind Records. Over a year of touring, building a fan base and writing ensued before their self-titled debut was issued in 1975. Southwind, a tiny subsidiary of Buddah Records, failed to give the band and album any considerable promotional push and soon the album was lying in cutout bins across the country.

At a time when image conscious artists like David Bowie, Alice Cooper and Kiss were peaking, it appears that Strongbow were just simply overlooked. The band fought onward, attempting to write and record a followup album, but management and the label were deadlocked in contractual disputes causing the band to finally give up the ghost in early 1978. Members went on to continue working the local scene, though the majority of them have long since retired from the business.

"Strongbow" is a fairly decent album, though it does tend to be a bit faceless. Certainly a talented bunch, the performances here are stellar but the bland vocals hinder much of the proceedings. The opening track, "One Armed Bandit" is a standout which balances light progressive flourishes with classic 70's rock to great effect. "Move Over Gloom" packs a great groove, but is somewhat diminished by vapid lyrics. "Wine Eyes" is an edgier track here and is also effective and well written. The rest is a bit questionable, sounding a little like a poor man's Nektar (Magic Is a Child lineup).

Despite being short on stellar material, Strongbow's sole effort is worthy of attention here simply due to its rarity. Whether mid 70's neo prog is your thing or not, this interesting midwestern quintet is worthy of a second look...even if only for a brief moment. Enjoy!

Ziggurat - Melodic Scandal (1982)

This southern quintet, whose name was derived from a type of ancient structure commonly found in the middle east, hailed from Atlanta and presumably formed sometime in the mid 70's. Bearing an interesting blend of southern rock and AOR, the band issued their self-titled debut on Robox Records, a local private label, in 1979. With minimal pressings issued, the album fared well in the region but barely sold on a national level. Such was the case when their sophomore album, "Melodic Sandal" was released in 1982. The emphasis on AOR was even greater at this point, taking on a slight gothic feel in places. As a result, audiences at large were indifferent, leaving the band without enough support to continue onward. The band split in 1983, with members defecting to solo careers and bands like Bombay and Fortnox .

This album has a very subtle dark sound that will appeal to AOR fans looking for something different. Conversely, if bright harmonies and epic melodies are your thing, "Melodic Scandal" will likely fail to satisfy your hunger for such. What we have here is an average collection of hard rock tunes that sound tailored for FM radio. Sadly, the material is just a bit too weak in places to prevent this from ever being regarded a "classic". This aside, there are some highlights worthy of review such as the quirky cover of Graham Gouldman's "For Your Love", the melodramatic "They Only Come Out At Night" or the closing number, "Eight Miles High".

Overall, this is a decent and rather plain effort from an obscure act who failed to extend their fortunes beyond their stomping grounds. Thanks to 'Orchman' for this contribution. Listen and make your own judgement!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Word of Thanks & Other Matters...

First off, I'd like to give a huge thanks to everyone for visiting my blog. In a very short period of time, this site went from getting a few visits per week to thousand of visits per day. I'm blown away, folks. I'm very grateful that you all have taken the time to visit, read my blurbs, try out some obscure tuneage, offer your insights and refer others here. It's an honor to do this and your readership is the ultimate reward for the time I put in.

Secondly, I wish to thank all of the kind folks who have helped to contribute to the content here. Filling in the gaps and offering up things that I wish to cover here has taken some of the headache that comes from digging and digging for something that ultimately never turns up. Thanks to you (orchman, mamedia, higginz, micksguitar, fairplaybeach, gary_lankford and numerous anonymous posters) for your contributions here, whether it be uploads or just simple feedback. It really has given this simple blog some depth and I believe that, in itself, will help sustain this site more than anything else. Cheers to all of you.

I wanted to let you all know that I will probably be developing a sub-page soon which will be used as a repository for all the upload links that have been left in the comments. Any future links can also be left there. Initially, it was my intention to just integrate those uploads into the main blog front page (complete with synopsis and thumbnail), which I may still do...but I am tossing this alternate idea around. Just wanted you all to know what's up.

Also, if I DO repost your contribution on the front page, you'll notice that the upload link is completely different. That is because I clean up (usually just EQ or normalize) the files when needed and retag them the way all of my other content is tagged, for consistency's sake.

Finally, if for some reason I choose to delete a prior post (only non music posts like a wishlist req or other notes) and your link was provided there, I will make note of that information before deleting the post. In time, it will be reposted here in the proper context. I do this b/c I'm real particular about maintaining a clean and consistent look on the main page. Ok?

I hope you are all having a smashing weekend. I will be here tomorrow with a new batch of albums! Till then...thanks again :)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Hammersmith - Hammersmith (1975)

Hammersmith rose from the ashes of Canadian rockers, Painter, in late 1974. With principals Doran Beattie and Dan Lowe in the fold, the band's name power helped them to land a deal with Mercury Records and "Hammersmith" was issued in 1975. The band set out on a tour of Canada and through a number of high profile shows and moderately successful singles, the band were granted a healthy budget increase for their followup. That came in 1976 with "It's For You". Though the sound and production was noticeably slicker, the material was weaker and the album failed to ignite Canadian radio. As a result, the band (with a newly revamped lineup) began falling apart at the seams, prompting a full blown split in 1977. Beattie later turned up as a country solo artist, while other members went on to 451° and Moxy.

"Hammersmith" takes cues from The Guess Who in places, which is understandable considering their reverence in their homeland. The album is fairly consistent, with the band keeping a nice balance of hard and soft throughout. The guitar work is stellar and the harmonies are tight, particularly on album highlight "Feelin' Better". This album has earned quite a cult following over the years, but sadly has never been issued on CD. Luckily, my new friend 'Orchman' has made this available here for your listening pleasure. Check out some cool Canadian rock...