Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bull - It's A Rock & Roll World (1979)

Bull was a band from the mid-Atlantic that played between 1976 and 1980. Ray Pittman started this rock group in early 1976 with Clayton Butchard, Richard Cowles, Chris Link and Ricky Lewis. Clayton quit after two months and Bull became a band of four. The next year saw Bull at every southeastern town from Richmond to Miami. They played 268 nights during their 1st twelve months. A club fire destroyed the band's equipment in June and they paused to re-gear the show. They were back on the road by July. They recorded in the late summer of 1977 two songs called "Better Mean What You Say" and "Sometimes". This got some radio exposure which boosted Bull's popularity. Doug Gilcrest became their manager and was instrumental in attaining new opportunities for Bull.

Interest from record companies came after 1977 and Bull was seen on the bill at some major East Coast concert extravaganzas. Early in the spring of 1978, the band signed a contract with "Wheels Records" and Rod Seagream became the new Bull manager replacing Doug. Terry Garland came aboard as second guitarist the Ray became the group's featured lead singer. Bull recorded an LP in the Fall of 1978 featuring songs written by the band. In early 1979, Bull was a promising new recording act. Their album was released on March 20 and a buzz was in the air of the possibilities. The group carried a four man road crew in 1979 and traveled in a new luxury club van. Wheels Records supplied the band with a state of the art sound system, a new equipment truck and complete lighting gear. Bull LPs, T-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers were sold at shows and at record stores. Bull had its own following and was known as a crowd magnet by the establishments who hosted them. College radio stations played tracks from their LP as Bull experienced its peak popularity. Bull had a large fan base and felt positive about their future. Talk of national sponsorship fueled expectations that Bull was on its way to bigger and better things.

The euphoria ended in August with news of dishonesty and fraud on the part of Wheels Records. Bull canned Rod as manager in September and cut ties with Wheels. The band members felt the air had been let out of their balloon. Bull reorganized in early October with Dale Williams on bass. Ricky went to the west coast making Bull again a quartet. Chris left the band in March 1980 as Mike Mann took over as drummer. Terry left in October of 1980 to join Chris Link, Richard Cowles and Bruce Olsen in forming "The Offenders". Bull ended at that point and Ray started an all new group. The Ray Pittman Band issued an LP of Ray's new songs during 1981(Getcha Some). Terry Garland later became an internationally known solo blues singer/guitarist. Chris and Richard continued playing together in Virginia bands for the next 20 years. Ricky Lewis made a name for himself in California and put together "The Ricky Lewis Band". Chris, Ray and Richard worked together again for two years during the early nineties with The Kingpins. Ray Pittman currently performs with his group,"Julius Pittman & the Revival". All former members of Bull are still playing music today! (Bio taken from the band's myspace tribute page)

This somewhat rare album is chock full of very typical late 70's hard rock, which features a slight southern rock edge. Musically, the band are tight and the production is solid for an indie release from this era. There's some great guitar playing across the board, but the tracks do tend to suffer slightly from rather pitchy vocals. Overall it's a difficult album to praise or condemn, simply because while nothing is mindblowing, there's nothing here cringeworthy either. I recommend everyone visit the fabulous Zosopat blog for a download of Ray Pittman's post-Bull album. In the meantime, dig this HQ transfer from virgin vinyl. Merry Christmas!