Phil Lanzon – 48 Seconds Interview

Very excited about “48 Seconds” – the new album from Uriah Heep keyboardist/songwriter Phil Lanzon! Check out my review in my previous post.

You can order Phil’s album on CD & Vinyl, as well as his novel “Curse Of The Mudchalk Devil” at the likes of Amazon.

https://www.amazon.ca/48-Seconds-Phil-Lanzon/dp/B07T5WBNKP/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=phil+lanzon&qid=1565664930&s=gateway&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=phil+lanzon+curse+of+the+mudchalk+devil&i=stripbooks&dc&qid=1565666498&ref=sr_nr_i_1

phil UH 1

Check out > http://www.phillanzon.com
https://www.facebook.com/Phil-Lanzon-869497536405361/
http://www.uriah-heep.com

Here’s a Q & A with Phil about the making of 48 Seconds. Enjoy the read and check out the album!

Since your first solo album [17 months ago] – you’ve released your first novel, Uriah Heep’s Living The Dream, as well as a lengthy [and ongoing] world tour since [September release]. When and how did you find the time to write, record and produce “48 Seconds”?

I’m damned if I know, haha! No it was as you’d expect, piecemeal. Between touring and festivals I recorded sections in studios across London including Air studio where I recorded the orchestra.

On 48 Seconds you have taken the use of orchestra and choir a step further as part of the production. What lead you to that direction – being that it’s very different to what you’re known for and is quite a grand production?

I love movie soundtracks. I sometimes find myself listening more to soundtracks at the cinema and at home than paying attention to the story. I guess I need that enveloping sound that I only get from the warmth of an orchestra

You often write pretty interesting story-based songs – either on books you’ve read or historical moments. Do you spend much of the time on the road [or home] reading? and what sparks your interest that may end up being a song idea?

I had a period of heavy reading a while back but I don’t read much at the moment. Usually it’s life matters that spark the interest…something I feel strongly or passionate about.

I’ve read the song 48 Seconds was something you had as an idea for many years!? Can you give me your interest in the subject [event] of the San Francisco fire and how it eventually evolved in to the song we hear?

After reading a book on the subject when I was ten years old, the subject stuck in my mind and would often raise its head and ask to be made into a song, but it never materialised over the years until now. I always felt an affinity or a connection to the event. No idea why, it sometimes feels to me that I may have lost a family member in the fire. I knew it would have to be built into sections as there was a good few elements to set up the whole picture. I created two fictional characters into the story so the listener could relate to what went on. Together with arranger Richard Cottle we concocted a suitable orchestration to fit the bill and then let poor old Simon Hanhart producer and mix it. A masterful result indeed.

Another I really like is “Road To London”. This seems a bit of a spooky tale — did this come from something you read or some where else?

No, it is solely based on the story telling style of traditional folk tales. Go to any traditional Irish or English folk session and you’ll probably come across a similar tale of ghostly woe.

“Look At The Time” is a great rock track – more progressive / pop – Can you tell me how this one evolved and what inspired it?

Purely politics and its self serving code of ethics

You’ve used 2 of the singers from your first album, as well as the same production team. But you’ve also brought in a number of new people. Can you discuss how many of these players came to your attention and got involved?

All the musicians/singers were brought into the fold via Simon and Richard. I leave that to them as they are the experts.

Who is the singer on “Rock n Roll Children”? [she is also on “Face To Face”] . She sounds great! Can you tell me a bit about her?

Miriam Grey. She’s amazing. Gutsy as well as subtle, she’s got a set of pipes on her for sure.http://www.mimgrey.com

“Forty Line” has quite a big orchestra piece [where one might put a guitar solo]. this is pretty unique, giving it an old big band sound, sort of like something out of a movie. How did these musical breaks develop? Were you hands on with suggestions, written ideas, etc.. ?

Yes, I was. The big band thing came from an idea I had to turn the verse into an old fashioned big band solo with all the trimmings. I handed the job over to Lorrie Cottle (Bass) who came back with this incredible arrangement and a blast of brass that knocked my socks, and everybody else’s socks, off.
I also wanted to write a song that had no specific meaning, if you listen close you’ll see what I mean.

Any moments on the album that you most proud of or impressed with the outcome?

As I worked so close on every aspect of the album, I would never let anything go that wasn’t impressive in some way. I think it all gels so well.

You now have 2 albums under your own name, plus a busy schedule with Heep [current tour and 50th anniversary next year]. would you like to [or plan to] get a few shows of your own music together – with some of the performers on these albums?

Would love to. So if you know anyone out there willing to invest I would be glad to hear from them. I would only perform with the real instruments… real strings and real voices.

You went to Michael Cheval again for the cover-art. Was this a piece he created specifically for 48 Seconds?

Not particularly, I gave him the concept and he had a piece of artwork that had a slight resemblance to the idea. I drew a sketch of how it could be modified and after going back and forth a few times he came up with the one you see.

http://www.chevalfineart.com/

Might you want to see some of the orchestra stuff perhaps work it’s way in to a Uriah Heep project? [Something along the lines of Heep’s Salisbury from 71].

Yes, we have always discussed working with an orchestra but only on a live situation. We’ll see.

Further reading: https://metalshockfinland.com/tag/48-seconds/
http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/2019/08/album-review-phil-lanzon-48-seconds/

PHIL LANZON – 48 Seconds (Album Review)

Up Next [well, working on it] : a look at Phil’s early days [before Heep!]

KJJ, Aug, ’19

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Phil Lanzon – 48 Seconds

Phil Lanzon’s second solo album is titled “48 Seconds”. It comes just 17 months after his first solo album – “If You Think I’m Crazy” [and what an aussum surprise that was!], 10 months since Uriah Heep’s latest – “Living The Dream”, plus Phil’s first novel. So….my first question would be is – where did Phil find time to write and record this new one!? [Heep has been on the road for quite a while]. But, as with his debut – 48 Seconds is a welcome surprise! It’s very different, and if you’re expecting something resembling a Heep album, don’t bother! Where If You Think I’m Crazy was a fantastic collection of swinging pop, rock, and prog [with some orchestra], 48 Seconds goes a step further with Phil using orchestra throughout this album, as well as bringing back singers John Mitchell and Andy Makin, producer Simon Hanhart and arranger Richard Cottle.

48 Seconds starts out with the intro titled “Azura’s Theme”. Like a dramatic movie theme, this is a fine beginning to the mix of songs and stories that follow. Much of Phil’z songs are story-based, such as the ghostly ballad “Road To London” [which Phil sings], and the epic title track, which is based on the San Fransisco earthquake of 1906 – this is a fantastic production with story, orchestra, synths, a Hammond organ break, and choir. There is so much to get in to on this album, much like it’s predecessor – that 48 Seconds will take many many listens to fully appreciate. Tracks like “You Can Make A Living” [a rocker] and “Look At The Time” [more prog-pop]- stand out right away – the latter being reminiscent of Asia to me.
Great stuff, and I look forward to the LP [any day in the post now!], as [among other reasons] it features stunning art created by Michael Cheval. As much as I look forward to the next Heep album, I am also looking forward to Phil Lanzon’s next adventure on record.

To purchase the album via download, CD, or LP go to – https://www.musicglue.com/phil-lanzon/ . There is also a very thorough bio of Phil’s career and a few other items.

Phil speaks on 48 Seconds-

A great interview at:

To check out a few samples and much more on Phil Lanzon – go to his website – https://www.phillanzonwordsandmusic.com

Magnum – Favorite Tracks Since the Band’s Return

A few weeks ago longtime Magnum bass player Alan Barrow announced he was leaving the band (Barrow relocated to the US from England a few years back). Barrow had been with the band since the band reformed in the early 2000s and has consistently put out strong albums of their own brand of British rock with elements of orig, AOR, and hard-rock. This is the band’s 3rd bandmember change in the past few years. The band consists of founding members Tony Clarkin (guitar & songwriter) and (singer) Bob Catley, as well as Rick Benton (keys), Lee Morris (drums), and Dennis Ward (bass, ex Pink Cream 69). Aside from playing bass, Barrow also contributed photography to a number of Magnum album sleeves and a few covers. He was/is also present on the band’s Facebook pages and groups – answering questions, keeping fans up to date, and chipping in plenty of feedback; such input will be missed. It was “Into The Valley Of The Moonking” album that I really discovered Magnum with, as the disc arrived one day to review. Up until then I knew very little of the band – they don’t play in Canada, and their albums are rarely issued here or available in shops, so they remained “one of those mysterious old British bands I needed to check out – one day!” I loved the Moonking album, and continued to pick up new albums after that, as well as going back and picking up the older albums [still have a few omissions in the collection]. But, it is this era, post-reformation, that kept me interested in Magnum and each album has been solid and looked forward to. The band’s latest release was “Live At Symphony Hall”, earlier this year. with cover art by Rodney Matthews [who’s done many Magnum album covers over the years].
So, here is a pile of my favorite Magnum tracks from their post 2000 return era.

When We Were Younger
My favorite Magnum song. classic keyboard intro, chorus, love the lyrics, anyone can imagine this.

Live Til You Die
love the build up intro. the title and intro – to me – gives this a James Bond feel. this would’ve made a great Bond film song!

Brand New Morning

The Moonking
cool guitar intro; heavier guitar tune, great work-up to the chorus.

All The Dreamers
great intro floating in and kicking in to a classic tune.

Lost On The Road To Eternity
fantastic symphonic rocker; theatrical. Bob Catley sharing vocals with Tobias Sammet.

Twelve Men Wise And Just

Sacred Blood ‘Divine Lies’

All My Bridges

No One Knows His Name

Eyes Wide Open

A Forgotten Conversation

July Morning – Heep’s Finest !?

Although not a radio staple like “Easy Livin” or “Stealin” – any remote Heep fan knows and loves “July Morning”. It was the band’s epic track from their 3rd album Look At Yourself. That album would be the last to feature original bass player Paul Newton, as well the only one to feature the drumming of Iain Clark. The album as a whole set Heep in the direction of being a heavy band who could also be just as great with a ballad or more progressive track. July Morning was not a worldwide single, but it has been and remained a highlight of the band’s live show since it’s debut.
The song was the combining of a few different pieces at the time – written by keyboard player Ken Hensley and singer David Byron. Clocking in at 10 and a half minutes it features everything Heep would be known for with that classic Hammond intro, David Byron’s soft vocal in the beginning, which builds as the song picks up and quiets down again, band harmonies, a great melody, acoustic guitar, and a guitar and organ mix that – although this is really a ballad – shows how heavy and powerful the band’s sound could be, and here – it is the last 4 minutes of the song. It also includes mini-moog synthesizer from Manfred Mann [then also on the same label as Heep].
The song is huge in parts of Europe, particularly Bulgaria, and has been covered most notably by German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, there’s also a dance version by Sonic Perception, and there are numerous covers on youtube, many by European bands.
Uriah Heep recorded a few lengthy epics from their Mercury Records days [pre-1973] – Salisbury [being the longest], as well as Shadows Of Grief, and The Magician’s Birthday. Pilgrim [from Sweet Freedom] would clock in at nearly 7.5 minutes, but by then the day of the band’s lengthy experimental epics were gone as subsequent albums would focus on shorter tracks, more fitting to radio formats. [*It should be noted that The Golden Palace from 1998’s Sonic Origami And Rocks In The Road from 2018’s Living The Dream – both excel well over 8 minutes!]
July Morning remains the greatest of these early Heep epics; many rock writers and fans have put it alongside Deep Purple’s “Child In Time” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”. It may not have met with the same media fare, but it is to most Heep fans – the band’s greatest recording from an amazing era of progressive and heavy rock.
Here’s a few great versions of the song… enjoy.

The original –

Although a very different singer, I think John Lawton did a fantastic job with it –

One of a very few Heep songs that David would ever perform in his post-Heep years –

Ken Hensley has also continued to perform this since his return in 2000 –

And always in the band’s set …

and lately…

*Any favorite versions I missed? [would be nice if someone posted good quality versions with other Heep singers, thanks]

KJJ, 01/07/19

Uriah Heep – Classics Penned by Trevor Bolder

Trevor Bolder joined Uriah Heep in 1976 and, aside from 2 years out in the early ’80s, was with the band until his passing in 2013. He played on 11 studio albums, and numerous live albums, and a few other projects [re-records and unreleased albums]. RIP

Prior to Heep, Bolder had played on several David Bowie albums [the early ones – the ones that mattered!], as well as the lone Spiders From Mars [band] album in 1975 – which he wrote a number of songs on. He also played on Mick Ronson’s solo albums in the mid ’70s.  In 1981 he left Heep and joined Wishbone Ash for the Twin Barrels Burning album, where he wrote and sang lead on the stand-out track “Hold On”. This album was co-produced with Ashley Howe, who had also worked with Heep throughout the 70s as a tape-op and engineer, and as producer on the band’s early 80s albums [Abominog & Head First] . In 2000 he also performed on the Cybernauts live album – this was a side project with Woody Woodmansey and members of Def Leppard performing Bowie classics, in Japan. [Good luck finding a copy!]

There has been a Trevor Bolder solo project in the works for some time [he had talked about making a solo album for years prior to his passing]. check out > http://www.trevorboldersoloalbum.wordpress.com

I always liked Trevor’s writing and looked forward to his contributions on Heep’s albums. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the last 2 Heep album’s [and Mick & Phil’s writing!], I’ve kinda missed those unique pieces that Trevor wrote. On Heep’s latest album [Living The Dream], I thought it was very cool that Davey Rimmer – who’d eventually taken over Trevor’s position, would contribute a great song [Grazed By Heaven], which would be the lead off single to the album. Thanks Davey!  I’ve put together a list of classic Uriah Heep tunes that Trevor wrote. These are album tracks; although there are a number of outtakes/bonus tracks he was credited with, as well as outtakes [see box sets,  etc…] that were credited to multiple band members. [would be nice if any bandmembers pointed out a few of such tracks that Trevor contributed to largely].

.

It Ain’t Easy – from 1980’s Conquest. A forgotten Heep gem on an album that ended the band’s first decade, and with lots of turmoil and changes.  The album credits Trevor with vocals, but these were substituted in favor of John Sloman’s. A great heavy ballad; hopefully the version with Trevor’s vocals will surface one day!

Fear Of Falling – Trevor sings lead on this from 1995’s Sea Of Light, one of 4 tracks he wrote on this album.  One of my favorite rockers from the post-90s Heep. Such a different tune; a huge underrated Heep classic!

Lost – from 2011’s Into The Wild, the last album with Trevor.  a great lead vocal; heavy tune… One of my favorites on this album.

 

I Hear Voices – one of many tracks from 1998’s Sonic Origami [Trevor contributed 4 here]. Loved this album. Between Two Worlds is my favorite from the band’s post-1990 years, and I loved the the 1-2 punch that lead off the album.  

Fools – also from Conquest. great riff intro, heavy guitars and solo. Great writing and playing on this album.

Shelter From The Rain – Sonic Origami had a number of ballads, this one was my favorites. again, very different to anything Heep had done before, kinda bluesy. would’ve made a great single. IMO

Angels Walk With You – Wake The Sleeper was a very heavy comeback album in 2008. This is a classic from it. A soft intro, then the band kicks in, great lyrics.

Roller – from Innocent Victim, co-written with former Spiders From Mars bandmate Pete McDonald [they’d also have a co-write on 1978’s Fallen Angel]. Cool funky rock tune [big on the bass], and classic Heep from the Lawton era.

Blood On Stone –  the single and rocker from Different World. An album that Trevor produced, but  came at a tough time and hurried in 1991. A few fine songs on it, particularly this one.

Sweet Pretender – a classic Heep cut from Sonic Origami. a bit Deep Purple-ish [so some say], but cool hard rocker.

 

http://abcnewsradioonline.com/music-news/2013/5/22/uriah-heepex-david-bowie-bassist-trevor-bolder-passes-away.html

KJJ, 06/2019

 

BADFINGER – One of the ’70s Greatest Bands Revisited.

This started out as really a review of my favorite Badfinger album and tracks, but an extended hospital stay left me plenty of time to listen to the albums plenty and dig in to the band’s ’70s run with original members Peter Ham, Tom Evans, Mike Gibbons and Joey Molland. A great band – who could’ve been one of the decades biggest acts, if not for some very sad circumstances.

Badfinger is remembered largely for their connections to The Beatles, a couple of big hits, and the tragedies that ended the band. But get more in to the band’s catalogue and one can see there was a lot more to Badfinger.  All 4 members could write, sing, and play multiple instruments. They were signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records and left a wealth of classic British pop-rock – hit singles, classic albums, and a few songs that would be covered by many.

badfinger no dice inner

The band debuted with “Magic Christian Music” – from which 3 songs appeared in the Peter Seller’s film The Magic Christian [which also featured Ringo Starr]. Most notably was Paul McCartney’s “Come And Get It” – which became the band’s first hit. Although it was a great start, it is not a Badfinger favorite of mine, as it sounds very much like a song intended for a Beatles album [nothing wrong with that]. as opposed to a new band breaking out in the 70s. This album would feature a number of other classics, as the band transitioned from British ’60s pop act The Iveys in to one of the greatest 70s recording acts. Classics include the ballad “Carry On Til Tomorrow”, guitar heavy “Rock Of All Ages” – both produced by McCartney. Other favorites include “Midnight Sun” – another cool guitar rock track, and the acoustic “Walk Out In The Rain” – both showcasing the writing and playing of Pete Ham.

“No Dice” is the band’s first real classic album. It featured 4th member Joey Molland on guitar and boasted a few hits, classics, and most notably the band’s most successfully written song [by Ham & Evans] . It also came in an iconic gatefold LP cover [many of this band’s LP covers seemed to have been bad afterthoughts]. “Without You” is an absolute classic! And although it would become a #1 for Harry Nilsson, and would be covered by dozens of others [including Mariah Carey, Air Supply, Shirley Bassey, Heart..], I really prefer the band’s original. Oddly, it was not issued as a single by Apple Records [tho it was a B-side later on in Japan]

Harry Nilsson – “I was at a party one night in Laurel Canyon, and somebody played this song, and I thought it was Lennon. and the next day I called my friend – ‘what was that song? -[sings ‘you-uu’ ] – it’s a Beatles song, a Lennon thing, and he was ‘I know which one you mean, but I can’t think of it’ . And everyone remembered that but no one remembered the song . And we were all going through all the Beatles collection, and then I said oh I know – it’s not the The Beatles – it’s Grapefruit, it’s not them. Then finally somebody said Badfinger. So, we found Without You, and I took it to Richard Perry, my producer, and said ‘hey Richard I think I found one.'” [from interview with DJ Pete Fornatale, 1992]

https://www.ft.com/content/bbe97a08-f3da-11e4-99de-00144feab7de

The album’s only single would be “No Matter What”; another Pete Ham tune, with a classic riff, and probably the band’s 2nd most covered song – most notably by Def Leppard. “We all had a copy of that song growing up. It’s one of the kinds of songs that influenced how we write our own material. Badfinger was like the heavy version of the Beatles. Anything that was Beatlesque would influence us. It didn’t have jangly stuff like a Beatles’ song, but it had clever chords and great melodies. It made you want to tap your foot and shake your head.” [Joe Elliot, http://www.deflepparduk.com ]


No Dice was quite a mixed bag and featured a number of gems, particularly the Pete Ham penned tracks “I Can’t Take It” , his 2 ballads “Midnight Caller” and the slightly country-ish “Blodwyn”, and acoustic gem “We’re For The Dark”. Ham also shares vocals on another ballad – “It Had To Be You” [penned by drummer Mike Gibbons]. This album’s a bit heavy on the ballads, but it has a few more upbeat moments with “Love Me Do” [penned by Joey Molland],”Better Days” [penned and sang by Molland and Tom Evans], and love the guitar blend on the solo to “Believe Me” [written by Evans]. Heck, I think I like this album even more now!

American musician Don Mancuso [ex Black Sheep, Lou Gramm Band] would also record his version of “No Matter What” on his solo album ‘Now You See It’  – “They reminded me of a different version of the Beatles. Great hooks, sounds and vibe. Vocals were amazing. And they had a character and energy that inspired me to push that in my original ideas.” 

“Straight Up” was the band’s 3rd album, one which saw 3 producers changing hands throughout the making of it. Not crazy about the LP cover – a band photo, reminiscent of The Beatles For Sale album. The drama and delays and lack didn’t hamper this album, nor did a few bad reviews,  I think Straight Up is just as good as No Dice, perhaps even a bit more rounded in solid songs. “Day After Day” was the first single, which I really like, a bit of a mid-tempo ballad, great melody, but it would be the band’s 3rd [and last] Top 10 hit. It would feature George Harrison lead guitar playing. https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/when-george-harrison-played-for-badfinger/

The 2nd single [US] “Baby Blue” was more upbeat, lose, heavier guitar. It would be the last Badfinger song from Pete Ham and the original line-up to chart….that is until it was revived in 2013 on the TV show “Breaking Bad” – which stirred new interest in the song and the band. Robin Zander [Cheap Trick] and Rick Springfield have both covered this song in recent years.

John Sloman [ex Lone Star, Uriah Heep]  grew up in Wales, and loved the band in his early years – “I’d grown up listening to The Beatles. One of my abiding memories is first day at Secondary school. All the new kids lined up in the assembly hall waiting nervously to be addressed for the first time by our headmaster. A kid just over there had a transistor radio pressed to his ear…I could just make out McCartney singing ‘Hey Jude’. Move on two years…The Beatles, as a unit, were fading from the public eye. But wait a minute…who is this on the radio? They sound like The Beatles…but also completely original…’Come and Get it’ was sassy and loaded with pop-innuendo. But it’s not The Beatles…it’s a band called Badfinger. No internet…just good ole fashioned radio, out of which came pumping ‘No Matter What ‘. I loved the vocal delivery…that guitar sound. Then i discovered that Badfinger were signed to Apple…and Paul McCartney had written ‘Come and Get it’. Then came the beautiful ballad ‘Day after Day’…poignant opening line: ‘I remember finding out about you…’ produced by another Beatle, George Harrison. I can’t recall who told me they were Welsh…from Swansea…just along the coast from my home town of Cardiff. This was so inspiring to me that a local band could be actually working with the Fab Four…or at least, two of them. Another great song ‘Baby Blue’, I would later discover was produced by someone called Todd Rundgren. Interesting how the threads of one’s life become entangled, often in the most delightful way. Badfinger never disappointed. There was always a depth of feeling in the vocal which suggested a greater pain than a mere 3 minute pop song could convey. Sometimes I’ll be working on a song and I’ll stop and think ‘that sounds a bit like The Beatles’. But then sometimes, I’ll think ‘that sounds a bit like Badfinger’.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10346887/Badfinger-and-Breaking-Bads-tragic-ends.html
Beyond the singles, Straight Up features Pete Ham at his peak with classics “Take It All”, “Perfection”, and epic piece “Name Of The Game”. Any 3 of Ham’s ballads would’ve made excellent 3rd singles, but by then the band’s time at Apple Records was winding down.


Joey Molland would contribute as many songs as Ham, best being the acoustic ballad “Sweet Tuesday Morning” , the acoustic pop of “I’d Die Babe”, and the rocking “Sometimes”. “Money” [Evans] is another gem, quite a different feel. Straight Up would be the last Badfinger album to make the Top 100 in the US.
The band’s last album for Apple Records [and last Apple release by a non-Beatle act] was released 2 years since their previous album, a huge gap in those days where many bands would push out 2 albums a year! It featured another LP cover I think is sub-standard – a drawing of a human hand dangling a carrot from the sky to a donkey. I get it – but I don’t. Neither the album or the lone single – “Apple Of My Eye” [an ode to the band’s soon-to-be former label] would even break the Top 100.

Pete Ham, who had written the glut of the band’s hits and material, would only pen 2 songs for Ass – one being the single / ballad “Apple Of My Eye”; a shame, presumably this got little push as a single]. He also contributed one of my favorite Badfinger songs in “Timeless”, an epic guitar heavy track that starts out light and moody, mixing vocals, and builds up in to a lengthy guitar solo til the end.

This album lacks the amount of solid material the previous 2  albums had, but it does have some great moments with “Constitution” [Molland] – a heavy blues rock track, with a great riff, heavy guitar and a cool vocal throughout. Too bad there wasn’t a few more with this type of energy on Ass! There’s also 2 decent ballads – “When I Say” [Evans] and a “I Can Say I Love You” [Molland] – a very unique track here, a bit of synths and a more modern feel.
http://www.beachwoodreporter.com/music/badfinger_ass.php

Years prior the band signed with manager Stan Polley, an unforseen ill-fated move. Polley obtained a deal with Warner Brothers for 6 albums [2 per year]. Their next album was simply issued as “Badfinger” and released just a few months after Ass in the US; while it came out around the same time as Ass in the UK [due to legal issues with Apple]. Again, another dud cover [in my opinion] didn’t help, nor did the choice of 2 singles – “Love Is Easy” [Molland] and then “I Miss You” [Ham] – not up to par with the band’s earlier favorites. This album sounds a bit rushed and underproduced, lacking in many catchy tunes and memorable choruses.
Not all is forgettable on this album tho – Ham’s “Lonely You” is the standout song here, a classic Badfinger ballad [Nicely covered by Canadian Carl Dixon on his album ‘Into The Future’ in 2001]. It would’ve made a far better choice for single, as would Molland’s punchy rocker “Island”. “Song For A Lost Friend” [Ham] is a good song, and I like “Give It Up” [Molland] – which offers up something different and plenty of heavy guitar work. As a whole though, this album was a low point in the band’s recordings.

Carl Dixon [Coney Hatch, ex The Guess Who] – “Badfinger was a group that I loved when I was a kid, beginning with The Magic Christian album. Aside from Come and Get It almost all the best songs were written by Peter. The band’s Achilles heel was in trying to function as a democracy and make space on the albums for inferior songs by the other members. That, along with their cursed business dealings at every stage made undeserved hardship for Badfinger. Pete Ham though, shone through as a beautiful soul with a heartbreaking melancholy in his singing voice. The sincerity and vulnerability in Pete’s lyrics certainly influenced my own writing. That’s why I chose to record another of his songs, the little known ‘Hand in Hand’ from a CD of unreleased rarities and demos by Pete, on my Lucky Dog album. A tribute to this sweet artist who meant a great deal to me.” 


The band’s last album that would be released by Warners and from the original line up came out in late 1974, and due to Warner Bros lawsuit against Badfinger’s management [over missing funds] the label soon pulled it and discontinued the album less than 2 months later. Another shame, because after the largely forgettable previous album – “Wish You Were Here” was a complete turnaround. The cover wasn’t as daft as the previous few, though the sailor outfits remind me of Alice Cooper’s “Muscle of Love” [from late ’73] and the album title would pre-date the Pink Floyd classic album of the same name by a year. But – on to it …. This is my favorite Badfinger album – great songs, more energetic, great production…


Wish You Were Here starts out upbeat with a cool guitar hook on the pop-rocker “Just A Chance” [penned by Ham], love the drum sounds, guitar breaks, and horns are a nice touch. “You’re So Fine” [Gibbons] is a catchy pop track with acoustic guitar, and a southern feel. “Got To Get Out Of Here” [Molland] is a spacey ballad, highlighted with keyboards which give it plenty of atmosphere. “Know One Knows” [Ham] is a really upbeat feel-good track [musically and lyrically]; a memorable chorus, love the guitar solo, and overall production – one of my faves here. My favorite here tho [and one of my favorite Pete Ham- Badfinger songs] is “Dennis”; a personal song by Ham to his girlfriend’s son. Love the changes in this song, great vocals, harmonies, build up, theatrics, and then all comes back down to a soft play out til the end. The theatrics continue on to “In The Meantime / Some Other Time” [Ham/Molland]; plenty of changes and twists; very energetic epic piece. There’s 2 further decent ballads in “Love Time” [Molland] and “King Of The Load” [Evans]. “Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch / Should I Smoke” ends this album just perfectly; a rocker that features a few changes, and a great blend of vocals, heavy guitars. Cool track!

Wish You Were Here is a classic, one of my favorite albums of the 70s. It brought Badfinger out of that Beatles’ styled mix of pop and ballads and showed them [then] as current and full of energy in the middle of the decade. A crime this album’s shelf life would be cut so short. Thankfully it has been re-issued in recent years [including colored vinyl], a remastered & expanded version of the album was released late last year, and this year saw a 2 LP release of the extra tracks & alternate mixes from Wish You Were Here packaged with early takes and outtakes from the 1974 self-titled album.

Badfinger so fine

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/badfinger-wish-you-were-here/

Sadly, this would be the last album released from the band [though 2 later reformation LPs would be made in 1979 and 81]. Following WYWH Pete Ham quit the band, and Bob Jackson [keyboards, vocals] was hired. Ham rejoined, and before recording began on the next project Joey Molland quit, leaving Badfinger a 4-piece again, but not much longer.

Soon after the band realized they were in financial trouble [Molland probably saw this first], they hurried back in to the studio to start a new album with Bob Jackson. Due to the lawsuit between the band’s management and Warners, the label shelved the tapes of “Head First”, and the album would not come out for another 25 years [and not taken from the master tapes]. I like this album, tho it was a rush job [recorded in 2 weeks]; it’s got plenty of good songs, and hasn’t dated much.

badfinger head first inner

Head First has that same energy that Wish You Were Here had, and I’m sure under different circumstances at the time, this album would’ve done quite well. It’s a bit more rocky, and a bit more progressive; certainly Bob Jackson’s keyboard and writing talents were a welcomed addition, from what I hear. Jackson’s “Turn Around” is my favorite track on this album; it’s heavier, a bit darker, more progressive. Bob would co-write on 2 others here – “Passed Fast” [with Evans], again a more progressive track, shared vocals, cool guitar solo… and the more laid-back “Moonshine” [with Evans & Gibbons]. The last songs from Ham would be the upbeat opener “Lay Me Down”, a good rock song, great vocal, harmonies, piano, and guitar. He also wrote the more laid back acoustic based pop number “Keep Believing”, written to departed member Molland; a classy arrangement, harmonies, and guitar work from Ham. Tom Evans conttributed 2 songs – both of which dealt with the band’s situation at the time – the rocking “Rock ‘N’ Roll Contract” and the classic “Hey, Mr Manager” – a classic, and penned to the band’s crooked manager Stan Polley. “Back Again” and the very short “Rockin’ Machine” both came from drummer Mike Gibbons [who could also sing and add guitar]. Both Gibbons tunes are acoustic with the former being a decent ballad and the latter being a bit more country sounding.

Head First finally came out in 2000, along with a 2nd disc of outtakes and demos. Here’s hoping someone will one day obtain the master tapes with intended mix, and an LP version with original running order. But anyone who likes Badfinger should definitely search this CD release out.

Folowing the recording of this album, the band was in limbo, and in the ensuing stress Pete Ham took his own life. That was the end of Badfinger [disounting future ‘reunions’]. Joey Moilland had gone on to record one album with with Natural Gas [w/ Jerry Shirley, Mark Clarke, Peter Wood], and later took to Badfinger reformations and still plays Badfinger and his own stuff to this day, as well as recording several solo albums. Tom Evans would join with Jackson in the short-lived Dodgers, playing on the singles, but was replaced before the album was made; he would later join Molland in resurrecting Badfinger for 2 albums in 1979 and 81.

After a falling out with Molland and various reformed and rival Badfinger line-ups Evans also took his own life in 1983. Gibbons would briefly do session work after Badfinger, and after a brief retirement in the ’80s, he would later make a string of his own albums [RIP 2005]. Bob Jackson kept very busy over the years – first forming & recording with The Dodgers in ’78, and later joining and recording with The Searchers, The Byron Band [ex Uriah Heep frontman] in ’81, The Fortunes, as well as taking part in a few Badfinger reformations in the ’80s. He was instrumental in getting the Head First album released, and in more recent years has formed his own version of Badfinger to play around the UK, as well as releasing a new single in 2016.

There have been a few books on the band, most notably Dan Matovina’s lengthy and in-depth “Without You – The Tragic Story Of Badfinger” , as well as “Joey Molland – Badfinger and Beyond” by Michael A. Ciimino.

Of interest is also the documentary “Strange Fruit” , which focus’ on the rise and fall of the Beatles’ label and other artists on Apple Records.

Bob Jackson – Badfinger

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/music/badfingers-pete-ham-gets-blue-3182644

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/4319352.stm

Badfinger: A Conversation with Chris Thomas

 

https://www.guitarworld.com/artists/badfinger-10-of-their-best-under-the-radar-songs

I’ve only discovered them ‘beyond the hits’ within the last few years, so apologies for any inacurracies above. There is plenty of Badfinger recordings [rarities, live, solo] which I’ve yet to hear. Thanks to my friend Ron Mann for introducing me to Badfinger and a few others.

KJJ, 05/2019

 

 

John Lawton Interview -LUCIFER’S FRIEND New Album

Lucifer’s Friend’s brand new album “Black Moon” is out! [see my review], and fans of this well aged German band [fronted by an English singer] will be happy to hear it! Fan  and album artist Damian Bydlinski [of Lizard] also gives us a few words on how he got involved and his favorite LF songs!

Singer John Lawton was with the band in the beginning and has sang on all but 2 of the band’s 11 albums. Here John answer questions regarding the band’s brand new album and updates on members and future Lucifer’s Friend plans.

http://www.lucifersfriend.com 

LF black moon 1

LF has been back together for 4+ years and Black Moon is the bands 4th release. Did you forsee the band being so busy and are you happy with the reception overall that the bands return has received?

John: Yes I think so. After such a long time away fans of the band were naturally curious to see what we had to offer. That we could play Sweden Rock festival made it easier to reach quite a few new fans. Overall the reaction has been good plus the fact that it gave us the push to write new material.

The first thing that stands out on the new album is the artwork. I like how it ties in with the bands debut from 1970. Can you tell me a bit about how that piece came together and if bandmembers had much input (idea wise)?

John: Actually the artwork was put together as a backstage pass by Damien Bydlinski the singer with our support band Lizard on our Polish tour. He is not only a good musician but also a graphic designer. We loved the idea and after a few tweaks we had it…..

How do songs for LF come together nowadays – pieced together through emails or is there a time where you’re all in the studio together?

John: The days when bands spend time in the studio rehearsing before they record I think are gone. Firstly, the logistics of spending the amount of time it takes to go through say 10-15 songs arrangements, keys etc. is really time consuming. These days with so much computer stuff available to musicians, it’s easier to sit at home and fine tune everybody’s parts…..
It the same with LF, Peter Hesslein or Dieter Horns will forward to me the basic track which I can the add the vocals too. I record my vocals in peace 😎😎here in the UK and then via the wonders of the web, they are sent back for the guys to work their final parts. The only time we spend together apart from gigs is in the rehearsal room before the live stuff. But even when we are not recording or gigging we are on the phone to each other at least a couple of times a week…..

You write the lyrics – what sort of inspires you for ideas and topics these days?

John: A lot of the lyrics are based upon stories I hear in the news or read about. For instance on TOO LATE TO HATE some of the lyrics relate to the thousands of refugees trying to get to Europe for a better life. Even 2 years later this story is still making headlines….

Can you give me a bit of insight into particular songs on the new album – how they started, ideas – really like the title track, Call The Captain, Little Man, Passengers,

John: CALL THE CAPTAIN is based on recent stories again in the news about mental heath issues and how younger people are being manipulated by social media, wanting to be like the celebrity’s they see in magazines. The title is just about trying to reach parts of the brain (the captain and pilot) for the right direction….🙂🙂

LITTLE MAN relates to my 2 grandsons and watching the grow up. PASSENGERS is written to open people’s eyes to the shit we are doing to the world….

BLACK MOON – Really just about those days when everything seems doomed to failure but you struggle through….

Any others that you’re particularly happy with?

John: I’m happy with all of them, they all have meanings hopefully not only to me but also to the listener…..

There’s a number of guests on this album, really dig the horn solo on Black Moon – classic LF touch. Can you comment on how some these (or this one) come up?

John: On BLACK MOON Peter and I were talking about a particular solo part and we tossed around a few ideas until Stephan (drummer) suggested a trumpet player who was with the James Last Orchestra (Chuck Findley). He lives in LA but very kindly went in the studio and put down (I think) a blistering solo…
On FREEDOM Peter new Stephan (violin player) from studio days and again asked him to put something together….and he did and I think it’s one of the highlights of this album….

What can you tell me about Simon Hesslein and his involvement with the band?

John: Simon runs a very successful music business in New York and has hits under different names, he has always wanted to produce a Lucifer’s Friend album so we said hey go for it. Unfortunately, it was at the wrong time as he was also very busy so that’s why the delay in the release. Simon is very accomplished at what he does and we are very proud of the final mix….

How is everyone’s health?

John: Not so good actually. Peter really needs an operation on his shoulder as he is in pain daily. The only drawback is that the operation is very complicated and the recovery time is long…at least a year and the surgeons have told him there is no guarantee of a complete recovery…it’s very sad that it happened to Peter but we hold out for him to get back to playing ASAP ….
Dieter Horns has recovered well from his problems, which is a great relief and I’m getting there slowly….oh the joys of getting older 🤪🤪🤪🕺🕺

Will we see many LF shows this year and will there be plenty from Black Moon in the set?

John: For the foreseeable future we won’t be performing live, some people have said “we could get another guitarist to stand in for Peter or another bass player for Dieter” – but we couldn’t go out as LF without those 2. I am hopeful that one day we could be on stage again together….
We still have one more new album to release….I still need to do the vocals etc. but that looks like 2020 release…..

You’ve used Jogi [Wichmann] on keyboards over several LF projects, but he’s only a guest on BM. Was it just easier for Peter to do keyboards or something else?

John: Jogi was very busy doing studio work around that time and he was playing keyboards in the musical CATS…..
Peter had put down most of the keyboard parts that he wanted Jogi to play but his were really good, so we stuck with it….

One thing – there is no vinyl edition of Black Moon (or previous few releases). Any chance this can be fixed ? 🙂

John: At the moment I don’t think so, unless we sell quite a bunch of CD’s the company is a bit reluctant to go vinyl…..There was talk of TOO LATE TO HATE on vinyl but nothing concrete yet….

Next year Mark’s the 50th anniversary of the first Lucifers Friend album. (A couple of things) – do you have any long outstanding g memory or stories fro. Making that album?
Will there be any anniversary reissue or show to celebrate it?

JohnWow – is it that long [?]….it has stood the test of time, I think 🥳🥳
It was a strange time for me, coming off the back of doing vocals on Asterix and then going straight to something really heavy was a bit of a kick but a good one…..
Looking back, it was a great time and when I think that there was no rehearsal time, I was it in at the deep end with heavy lyrics 👹👹👹
The guys were looking for an English singer and I happened to be there at that time….
I don’t think there will be a re-issue as the there have been so many bootleg copies etc. down the years but it’s not such a bad idea….

From the Album’s Cover Artist – Damian Bydlinski : 

“I am a big fan of Lucifer’s Friend. The proposal to make a cover was a great honor for me. 

I love all their albums. But for the best, I think – two albums: “Banquet” and “… Where the Groupies Killed the Blues”.
With favorite songs – it’s harder because there’s a lot of them and a derivation from different albums. But the most important ones are:
Hobo, Burning Ships, Ride the Sky, Groovin Stone, Spanish Galleon, Dirty Old Town, Fugitive ….
However – there is a song – at which time since I heard it for the first time – I always have shivers and I am overcome with emotion –
“Thus Spoke Oberon” – amazing melody, arrangement and brilliant singing of John.

The history of the cover is quite simple. Two years ago – LF and my band Lizard – we played three concerts in Poland. For this occasion, I designed a poster and tickets – the project appealed to John and asked if they could use it for the new LF album. After introducing some changes in the color scheme – this cover was created.”

For more on Damian’s art [he does most of the art for Lizard albums] and to check out his band, visit –  http://lizard-band.com/index.html

 

For more reading:

https://glassonyonpr.com/2019/04/27/lucifers-friend-releases-new-studio-album/

http://www.grande-rock.com/interviews/lucifers-friend 

http://www.roadtometal.com.br/2017/11/john-lawton.html 

https://www.artrock.pl/artykuly/1211/lucifers_friend_lizard_wroclaw_firlej_14_paxdziernika_2017_roku.html

KJJ, 05/’19