DEAN MOTTER: Album Cover Artist & Designer – Interview

Prior to becoming well known over the past few decades for his work in comics, Artist Dean Motter worked on numerous album covers, particularly plenty of classic Canadian albums throughout the ’80s. In this exchange, he touches on his early career and some of the album covers he designed or had a major part in.

Can you give me a bit of background as to how you wound up being in Toronto and working on so many covers for Canadian acts in the late 70s? 

I went to college at Fanshawe in London Ontario and studied Creative Electronics and Recording under Radio Caroline’s Tom Lodge, Marshall McLuhan’s son/collaborator Eric, John Mills-Cockell, neon sculptor Michael Hayden. My thesis for my commercial art course was my first published comic, ANDROMEDA I mounted two multimedia shows and married my lead actress. We moved to Toronto where I worked in children’s books and animation. I did work for the Silver Snail comic shop. I also worked as art director/production artist for CPI’s Cheap Thrills magazine. That led to being art director at CBS Records Canada for 3 years. When I left CBS and struck off on my own I retained them as a client, and picked up Capitol, Attic, RCA, WEA, Ready records and others. 

Did you have much an album collection growing up? favorite bands? Favorite album covers [or artists]? 

I listened to a lot of music growing up. In high school I had a sizable record collection that continued to grow over the years. Moody Blues, ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd, CSNY. I later blossomed into jazz like Weather Report, Pat Metheny etc. These had my favorite covers especially Yes and Pink Floyd. 

The first album you did was Robert Connelly ‘Plateau’.   This one came with a comic  book. How did you come about on this band and what was the concept behind the story and comic?

Connelly came to me via the Andromeda comic book (vol 2) published by the Silver Snail. It was a Chariots of the Gods themed illustration. One of my first airbrush pieces. I didn’t do the comic but was friends with its creator Nick Powlieko. 

Marie Lynn Hammond – did you do her first album [?]

I didn’t do Marie’s first cover I did her second, Vignettes. It featured a hand colored Deborah Samuel photo taken on a vintage biplane. It was subtle but one of my favorites. 

Dale Jacobs Cobra (my first as art director at CBS Canada) – quite the cover shot, with the snake and arm hanging over the couch. Did you come up with the photo concept, and was it inspired by anyone or anything? Was the snake real?  

This was indeed my concept. The snake was real, but it was a python. A live cobra was out of the question, due to its fatal venom and scarcity of antidotes, not to mention insurance. One serviceman wrote me years later. He had spent time in India and was annoyed at the substitution. 

Loverboy –  this was a huge album. What do you recall of the idea behind the cover? the photo shoot? and what are the words typed over the front cover? 

I became fiends with the photographer fine artist Barbara Astman. She had a show of her work -Polaroid photos of herself that she fed through a typewriter. When I saw them I thought a love letter or Dear John letter would be a good idea for the Loverboy assignment I just received. 

Triumph – Thunder Seven –  This cover was connected to the music, correct? Can you explain a bit where that image came from and how closely you worked with the band on this. The other 2 Triumph albums you did were very different – any quick recall on them? 

Thunder Seven. I confess I never quite got the title, so the image had more to do with the hard rock trio, Yes I illustrated it. I was influenced by the work of Alien’s HR Giger. I didn’t work much with the band, more with the management this time. The others- Never Surrender was my concept illustrated by studio mate Ken Steacy, Surveillance was also my concept illustrated by another studio mate Paul Rivoche. 

Anvil – Metal On Metal, Forged In Fire [also did Hard N Heavy, Pound For Pound, Past & Present Live] ?

What can I say about Anvil? They were a favorite act of mine, They were so sincere about the music and addressed me as Mr. Motter even though I was only 30 something. But they were always there, visiting my studio with ideas. 

Santers – Racing Time [also did Shot Down In Flames, Mayday EP] ?

This was a photo taken on a runway on Toronto Island. It was then filtered and posterized. 

The Nylons – One Size Fits All, Seamless [did others] On One Size Fits All, who’s idea and where did it come from –   the shadow figures posing? very cool. 

One Size Fits All was my idea and design, it was derived from the work I was doing on Mister X at the time. Seamless had two alternate covers. One was illustrated by Jeff Jackson, the other photographed by Deborah Samuel. It was pieced together mechanically. 

Honeymoon Suite – HMS – Where was the cover photo taken?

Originally this cover was a variation on my rejected concept for Helix No Rest For The Wicked. We set it up in a furniture store. A new background was airbrushed in. 

The Tenants – Visions of Our Future –  Was this drawing based on or inspired by any place in particular?

This drawing was based on the lobby of the New York News and the art of Hugh Ferris. If you look closely you can see Mister X in the background.. 

The Extras – Bit Parts –   Did this come from the old model kit boxes?

This was indeed based on old model kit boxes. I drew and airbrushed the image. 

Manteca – No Heroes –  this one reminds me of the Nylon covers. 

These came from sitting in the Bamboo Club on Queen Street watching the band and drawing them in napkins. 

During your time in Toronto, were you involved in the music scene as far as going to shows, meeting up with bands? Any favorite bands from back then or lasting friendships? 

I loved being part of the music scene back then. My studio did posters, concert ads, concert programs etc. But as desktop publishing (design) became more common more companies could afford to put art directors on staff and the need for us diminished. I became friends with many of the clients and musicians from the time The Nylons were the closest. But also Matt Zimbel from Manteca. The whole of the Diodes . I even did an album of my music with Jeffrey Morgan soon to be released at last on Bongo records 

You eventually moved on from album art / covers? Can you touch on what you went in to [comics] and where people might recognize your work most from? 

I wrote and illustrated The Prisoner based on Patrick McGoohan’s TV series, and  my own Mister X. went on to be an art director at DC Comics for three years, plus the graphic novel Batman: Nine Lives.

For more on Dean Motter’s art and career, album covers and comics, check out his official site.

Dean Motter | Discography | Discogs

KJ, 07 / ’21

Twisted Sister – You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll : Classic ’80s Rock

Twisted Sister - Galeria de imagenes - Imágenes en Taringa!

New York’s Twisted Sister became a household name in the mid ’80s with the success of their 3rd album Stay Hungry, and more so with the hit single “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and the comical videos created for the Stay Hungry singles, as well as the follow up album’s videos. But my favorite from Twisted Sister is their 2nd album – You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll in 1983. The album may not have been a huge commercial success, but it was the band at their best, before the hilarious videos, and the attempts at appealing to the mainstream. You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll was full of straight on edgy and angry TS rockers and anthems. You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll was actually the band’s first North American album release, as their debut Under The Blade was recorded in the UK and did not get a US deal & release until after the band had found commercial success; it was remixed and issued in 1985 in Canada and the US. It was produced by British producer / Engineer Stuart Epps who, at the time was producing Wishbone Ash and Vandenberg, and who’s previous engineering credits included Elton John, Chris Rea, Bill Wyman, and US band Shooting Star. Also recorded in the UK, where the band had built up a strong following and would issue 3 singles from You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll. The cover art was simple – with the band name in huge pink letters accompanied by the TS logo on a dark background, Difficult to miss, very to the point!

One thing Twisted Sister albums always had were great intro songs, Under The Blade had “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)”, Stay Hungry and Come Out And Play both had strong intros with the title tracks, and You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll had “The Kids Are Back”. Drawing on those rebellious / outsider teen ideas, with a chorus (like many TS songs) that’s not overly complicated but easily burns into your brain. The next 2 tracks come at you aggressively first with the opening riff to “Like A Knife In The Back”, followed by “Ride To Live, Live To Ride” and heavy metal battle cry “The Power And The Glory”. “I Am (I’m Me)” went in to the band’s sorta poppier direction, catchy, but ..ok; was probably a good choice as a single.

Side 2 opens with “We’re Gonna Make It”; a good song, tho the riff reminds me of Sammy Hagar’s “There’s Only One Way To Rock”. A couple of solid rockers in “I’ve Had Enough” and fast paced “I’ll Take You Alive”, followed by the closest thing to a ballad in “You’re Not Alone (Suzette’s Song)” – penned by Snider for his wife; not one of my favorites here, but it’s a decent forerunner to future ballads “The Price” and “I Believe In You”. The album closes with the title track,; another great anthem, intro & title would’ve fit well on an AC/DC album! Cool video to boot.

The 2018 2 disc reissue contains 3 bonus tracks, as well as 1 disc being the band’s 1983 performance at the Marquee in London, UK.

The band followed this up with their break through classic album Stay Hungry in 1984. That album I remember picking up at the time, then later going back to get the previous 2 some time later. It was their biggest success with a couple of huge hits & videos, but the band’s next album Come Out And Play veered more in to the commercial direction, lacking a bit of the weight and anger, but heck I loved that album, and played the crap out of it! It is also notable for including the return of Alice Cooper (I was a huge AC fan then, and this was his first ‘new’ thing when he came back). The band’s last album was 1987’s Love Is For Suckers. And whether I wasn’t paying attention at the time or what, but I don’t recall hearing anything about it until I walked in to the local Sam The Record Man and saw it on display. I liked that one too, tho’ not so crazy about the production (heck, I don’t think TS ever found a great producer to capture them properly, and consistently). The band split after this album, and Dee Snider (who also wrote the band’s songs) went off to other projects, but by then I’d moved on and didn’t keep up. I have gone back and picked up some of the archived and later released live albums, as well as Dee’s last album For The Love Of Metal, and the excellent For The Love Of Metal : Live, released last year.

07 / ’21

URIAH HEEP : A Visual Biography – by Martin Popoff

The latest in the ‘visual biography’ series from Canadian rock writer Martin Popoff just happens to be on the mighty Uriah Heep. A project I had a slight hand in. And having said that – has made it hard for me to write much about it It is a very nice coffee-table book, chalk full of photos from throughout the band’s history, with photos mainly coming from fellow Heep fans who were fortunate to have seen the band over the decades, with different line-ups. So credit must go to those who contributed their photos, and time in scanning as well.

The visual history also comes with a timeline of Heep’s history, noting many birthdays, important dates, related releases, etc…

It is a fine addition to an avid Heep fan’s collection. It is heavy (weight), but will make for a cool conversation piece.

For the record, someone commented ‘enough with the Heep books‘ – well, I for one am in favor of seeing more, and preferably more from those (players & participants) who were there. Uriah Heep was/is a major band in the golden era of heavy rock, an era that will disappear sooner than later. So, if you’ve got something to say, photos you’re stashing, recordings you’re holding on to, unprinted interviews to share — Now is the time!

*For more info and to order please check out the link below. +Martin also has copies of his Thin Lizzy book in the same series.

Uriah Heep: A Visual Biography (

Uriah Heep: A Visual Biography: Popoff, Martin: 9781912782567: Books

IRON MAIDEN : New Album In September.

The new Iron Maiden album that’s been mention for the past year [or less] now has a release date. During the pandemic the band released Nights Of The Dead : Live In Mexico City to hold over fans until the time was right (with the pandemic) to release their new album of 10 tracks. The first video/single came out last week – “The Writing On The Wall”, opens with acoustic guitar, something pretty different for Maiden, then kicks in to 7+ minutes of more typical kick-ass Maiden. I gotta say I like this lead-off track a lot more than I liked the lead-off track from Book Of Souls! I am looking forward to this.

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu – September 3. We are thrilled to announce the release of IRON MAIDEN’s 17th studio album Senjutsu on September 3rd through Parlophone Records (BMG in the USA). It was recorded in Paris with longstanding producer Kevin Shirley and co-produced by Steve Harris.

For Senjutsu – loosely translated as ‘tactics & strategy’, the band once again enlisted the services of Mark Wilkinson to create the spectacular Samurai themed cover artwork, based on an idea by Steve Harris. And with a running time of a little under 82 minutes, Senjutsu, like their previous record The Book Of Souls, will be a double CD album/triple vinyl album.
Steve says “We chose to record at Guillaume Tell Studio in France again as the place has such a relaxed vibe. The setup there is perfect for our needs; the building used to be a cinema and has a really high ceiling so there’s a great acoustic sound. We recorded this album in the same way we did The Book Of Souls in that we’d write a song, rehearse it and then put it down together straight away while it was all fresh in our minds. There’s some very complex songs on this album which took a lot of hard work to get them exactly as we wanted them to sound, so the process was at times very challenging, but Kevin is great at capturing the essence of the band and I think it was worth the effort!  I’m very proud of the result and can’t wait for fans to hear it.” 
Bruce Dickinson continues, “We’re all really excited about this album. We recorded it  back in early 2019 during a break in the Legacy tour so we could maximize our touring yet still have a long set up period before release to prepare great album art and something special as a video. Of course the pandemic delayed things more – so much for the best laid plans – or should that be ‘strategies’!?  The songs are very varied, and some of them are quite long. There’s also one or two songs which sound pretty different to our usual style, and I think Maiden fans will be surprised –  in a good way, I hope!”

The full tracklisting is:
1.  Senjutsu (Smith/Harris) 8:20
2.  Stratego (Gers/Harris) 4:59
3.  The Writing On The Wall (Smith/Dickinson) 6:13
4.  Lost In A Lost World (Harris) 9:31
5.  Days Of Future Past (Smith/Dickinson) 4:03
6.  The Time Machine (Gers/Harris) 7:09
7.  Darkest Hour (Smith/Dickinson) 7:20
8.  Death Of The Celts (Harris) 10:20
9.  The Parchment (Harris) 12:39
10.  Hell On Earth (Harris) 11:19

Senjutsu will be released on the following formats and available to pre-order from all good music retailers starting Wednesday July 21st
Standard 2CD Digipak
Deluxe 2CD Book Format
Deluxe heavyweight 180G Triple Black Vinyl
Special Edition Triple Silver & Black Marble Vinyl (from selected retailers)
Special Edition Triple Red & Black Marble Vinyl (from selected retailers)
Super Deluxe Boxset featuring CD, Blu-Ray and Exclusive Memorabilia
Digital album (streaming and download)
Copyright © 2021 Iron Maiden, All rights reserved.

JOHN LAWTON : 15 Classic Career Spanning Tracks

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It was just over a week ago that the shocking news that British singer John Lawton had passed away on June 29 came out. July 11th would’ve been John’s 75th birthday. Though best known for his time with Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep, John had a very lengthy career full of great recordings — not only the 2 major bands he was known for, but plenty of one-off projects, solo albums, singles, guest appearances. One thing that is undeniable is that regardless of who John was performing with – it was his vocals that stood out. A buddy of mine used to say – “he could sing the phone book and make it sound great!”.

I’ve picked 15 tracks from throughout John’s career to celebrate his life and recordings. And this is just a scratch on how much great stuff the man was a part of. *Please leave a few favorite tracks in the comments.

Ride The Sky – Lucifer’s Friend

The best known song from Lucifer’s Friend, and probably the most well known vocal from John. He and the band sounding like they could fit in alongside the biggest names in early hard-rock / metal in 1970. Covered by a few bands, most notably Avantasia. One of a few LF songs that John would later include in his live repertoire for years. Lucifer’s Friend [II] would also re-record the song in 1994 for Sumo Grip.

Burning Ships – Lucifer’s Friend

From Lucifer’s Friend’s 2nd album – Where The Groupies Killed The Blues. An acoustic ballad that builds up. One of John’s trademark numbers, and many o’ Lucifer’s Friend fans’ favorite song. More recently Jason Kane & The Jive did an excellent cover of this. *I’ve included the 2015 live version here, as I’d previously included the original studio take in my post on John’s passing. I think the band still did an incredible job on this 43+ years later!

Mama Loo – The Les Humphries Singers

Many people may not realize that John’s main gig prior to Uriah Heep was recording and touring with The Les Humphries Singers, a pop band featuring a number of great singers, who played many top hits [covers], as well as songs written by Les Humphries. This was written by Les, and was the group’s biggest hit, with John singing lead.

High Flying Lady (Goodbye) – Lucifer’s Friend

From Lucifer’s Friend’s most ambitious album, and the one John cited as his favorite – Banquet. It was one album he’d have liked to have performed live in full. This is the a great upbeat rocker, full of brass, great production, and amazing vocal from John.

Little Chalk Blue – Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball

John sang on this track written and recorded for Roger Glover’s 1974 theatrical album The Butterfly Ball And Grasshopper’s Feast. A sweet orchestrated ballad. It was issued as a single and part of an EP, but not on the 1974 LP. John would perform it at the 1975 live staging of The Butterfly Ball, where he also sang the song “Love Is All”.

Wiseman – Uriah Heep

Written by Ken Hensley, “Wiseman” was a minor hit in Europe. It’s a classic Heep ballad, and John once cited it as the first song he sang with the band. He would keep it in his live repertoire years later, and re-recorded it with Steve Dunning for their 2002 album Steppin’ It Up. The song also earned Heep a spot on UK TV show Top Of The Pops.

Free N Easy – Uriah Heep

John wrote a few songs on the last few Heep albums, and a couple of them were the heaviest things the band did during this period. “Free N Easy” [co-credited to Mick Box] was a huge fan favorite, from Innocent Victim [altho’ “Free Me” was the massive hit in some countries during this era]. The band would bring this one back in more recent years, and it would feature on the band’s Live In Europe ’79 album, as well as John’s reunion album with Ken Hensley – The Return.

Hey Driver – Lucifer’s Friend

After leaving Heep, following the recording of a 4th [as yet released] album, John recorded a solo album [co-written with Peter Hesslein, and using Lucifer’s Friend as the backing band], followed by an awesome reunion album with LF – Mean Machine. A return to straight ahead hard-rock, influenced by the New Of British Heavy Metal at the time. One of my top 3 LF albums with so many great hard rockers to chose from.

Heart Of The Night – Zar

In the early ’80s John sang on an album by German hard-rock band Rebel, featuring Tommy Clauss on guitar. Another opportunity arose for John to step in and recording with Clauss again at the end of the decade with the band Zar. Released in 1990, Live Your Live Forever was a fairly commercial sounding heavy metal album, full of killer tunes. John proving he could still rock as hard as he did on the first Lucifer’s Friend album.

Don’t Stop Believing – Gunhill

Gunhill was the band John formed in the mid ’90s. They were primarily a working band, doing plenty of covers, some originals, and a few from John’s past. They did release a CD in 1997 titled Nightheat, which included this as the opener. Written by John, I really liked this one, and a the band’s few other originals here.

Tonight – John Lawton [solo] / Uriah Heep

John was extremely busy in the early 2000s, with Gunhill coming to an end, and a few other projects, a new band, and this solo album from 2000 titled Still Payin’ My Dues To The Blues. A great set of lighter blues and blues based tracks. This is an outstanding ballad that John originally wrote and recorded as part of the 4th [unreleased] album with Uriah Heep. John also re-did this one with Steve Dunning in 2002 Should be interesting to hear Heep’s version.

Written On The Wall – John Lawton Band

The short lived John Lawton Band followed Gunhill, and the band toured and would release this line album, as well as a live DVD . Sting In The Tale was a solid set of blues based rockers. This is the stand-out track for me, a nice heavy rock song.

Steal The Night – OTR

OTR [On The Rocks] was a short-lived project John did latter day Focus guitarist Jan Dumee, as well as a few Brazllian musicians in 2008. A very different album that showed again how much John could sound great in any type of music.

Fairytale – Intelligent Music Project [Diana Express]

Intelligent Music Project is a recording band that is the brains of Bulgarian producer / songwriter Milen Vrabevski . John sang on the first 2 albums in this act. The first one billed as John Lawton & Diana Express and titled Power Of Mind.was a concept album, Diana Express being the Bulgarian band playing here as well. Again, a very different album, more adult contemporary, hard-rock, orchestrations… The ballad “Fairytale” was the first song released from the album, and the standout track John did with these albums.

Passengers – Lucifer’s Friend

From the last Lucifer’s Friend album Black Moon in 2019. A fantastic album, showing John and the band could still come up with good, memorable songs. The band had re-grouped in 2015 for a compilation album [with 4 new tracks], a live album, and a studio album Too Late To Hate in 2016.

*photo of John – courtesy of Richard Wagner

07 / ’21

JOHN LAWTON – R.I.P. To One Of England’s Finest Singers & Gentlemen.

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On July 5th, the sad news that English rock / blues singer John Cooper Lawton had passed away on Jun 29 was posted on the Lucifer’s Friend Official Facebook page. Lawton was known to rock fans for the albums he recorded with the German band in the early ’70s, and then for the 3 studio albums he recorded and toured with Uriah Heep in the latter half of the decade. There was very little details on John’s passing, but really it shouldn’t matter at this point – the world has lost an amazing talent, and more so to the fans who had any contact with him – a genuine great guy, and a true professional.

It is with deep regret that we share the devastating and tragic news of the sudden and totally unexpected passing of John Lawton on 29. June 2021.Contrary to reports, there was no illness involved, which makes his passing incomprehensible. He went peacefully with his wife at his side. John will be greatly missed. A private funeral service to celebrate John’s life will be held following his wishes, with only family and close friends attending. We would appreciate that the family’s privacy is respected during this difficult time.

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Jeff Scott Soto – “I’m so very sad to learn my friend John Lawton known most for his tenure with Uriah Heep, a KILLER singer and wonderful human being, has passed.”

John was born in Halifax, England July 11, 1946. He began singing at the age of 15, citing such early influences as Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. In the later ’60s he made trips to Germany while playing in such bands as West One and Stonewall, and it’s there that he would meet up with the members of a new band to be called Lucifer’s Friend. He also took part in a studio project – Asterix, and recorded the first Lucifer’s Friend album soon after. The band was a studio band who’d release very different and experimental albums each year. Between that John joined The Les Humphries Singers as his main gig – recording and touring. He was also introduced to the Deep Purple family through his appearance at Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball performance in 1975. It was a highlight of John’s career – “Actually standing on the same stage as David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, all these people was great! And meeting Vincent Price of the horror films was great. Those are good memories, and something I won’t forget!”

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Axel Rudi Pell – “R.I.P. John Lawton! One of the nicest people in all music business and a great singer! We had the pleasure of getting him on stage for my 25 year anniversary show in July 2014 and rocking 2 songs together. You left us way too soon dear John! My deepest condolences to his wife Iris and his family.”

In 1976 he was called upon to replace David Byron in Uriah Heep, and went on to record 4 albums with the band, and one live album. Although Heep’s direction changed during this era, John proved an excellent singer in an era where the band’s popularity in North America declined. He remembered his first US tour fondly – “This was my first time in America, and I was touring with Uriah Heep, and we were the opening band to Kiss… Kiss were a good band – they were the biggest thing around at that time, and we still got to play to a lot of people.” In other countries though the band had some major success during this period, particularly with the hit “Free Me”, from 1977’s Innocent Victim. While the band’s direction in songs & production changed, many would agree that it was John’s powerful vocals during the late ’70s that held many songs together and provided much of the highlights. John also wrote and co-wrote on a few Heep classics during this era – “Free ‘N Easy”, “I’m Alive”, and “Woman Of The Night”.

Mike Starrs – “Another great singer has left the stage. John Lawton, You were the inspiration For many great singers and John you will be SO SADLY missed. Have a great trip my old friend. Und sehn wir uns.”

Following recording for an as yet released 4th album, and European tour, John left Heep, and went on to record a solo album, followed by a return to Lucifer’s Friend with an album in 1981. Throughout the ’80s & ’90s he kept busy on numerous recordings, and even made a brief return to Heep in ’95, filling in for Bernie Shaw for a South African tour and a few dates in Europe. During the ’90s and in to the 2000s John Lawton really warmed to the Heep fans through his band Gunhill, and appearances at Heep’s year end Magician’s Birthday Party shows in London. There was also a reunion show and tour with Ken Hensley, solo albums, another Lucifer’s Friend album …. Throughout John showed he was just a good, down to earth, and friendly guy to any fans that met him or had contact with. He attended fan conventions, remembered those he came in contact with, and despite being such a great singer with an amazing career, he seemed like more than an old friend to many.

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Mick Box – “The passing of John Lawton on the 29th of June came as a complete shock and has left me numb. John was a big part of the Heep family, and on stage when he was covering for Bernie, who was having hospital treatment at the time, he said over the microphone “you can check out, but you never leave Heep.” That was our John and he was one of the good guys. On a personal note we had some fantastic times in Heep, and some fantastic times too outside of Heep. On filming the movie ‘Love dot net’ and playing shows with him in Bulgaria we never stopped laughing, and I will always remember those joyous times. I enjoyed the songs we wrote together, and he had an amazing voice that was both powerful, soulful and with a bluesy edge. Rock music has lost one of the great rock voices of all time and his legacy will live on forever. Our condolences go to his wife Iris, their immediate family, and his German band ‘Lucifer’s Friend.’ John, may you rest in peace my friend.”

In later years he had reunited with Lucifer’s Friend, and recorded a few studio albums, released a live album, and played a number of concerts (something the band didn’t do much prior to 1976). The band’s last album was 2019’s excellent Black Moon. At the time of my last interview with him, he had mentioned that there’d be another album, and last heard from him was that he was awaiting a studio to open (after Covid) so he could record the vocals for it. John was also very keen on seeing the 4th album he recorded with Uriah Heep get a formal release. Often referred to as ‘Five Miles’ he thought it was important this should see the light of day. I am sad that John, who was keen on it’s release (as were Lee and Trevor) won’t be here to see it, as I understand it is very good.

Jack Williams – “John was one of those rock stars who was extremely grounded & from what I saw never forgot where he came from, thus this great rock singer who had cut his bones in another huge rock band “Lucifer’s Friend” always treated me like I was always part of the “Heep” family, I will never forget the years I spent in the UK writing with Ken Hensley & watching John Lawton sing the hell out of my songs!!!RIP John Lawton.”

I was most fortunate to interview John on a good few occasions. He was always positive, and never spoke negatively about anyone. Speaking in 1997 John said – “I’ve done everything I set out to do when I was 15….I think I’ve been lucky, I’ve done everything I wanted to do musically. So, I just let life come at me these days, and it can throw at me whatever it wants, and if it’s to do with music, then I’ll do it.” And to think how much more he did after that! RIP John. Thanks for so much great music.

*Photos courtesy of Richard Wagner

KJJ, 07 / ’21



Ten Years After are best known for their Platinum selling album “A Space in Time” which featured the Top 40 hit “I’d Love to Change the World“, and their prodigious performance appearance at the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York, August 1969. Their rendition of “I’m Going Home” was featured in both the subsequent film and soundtrack album and catapulted them to star status.

Original members Ric Lee and Chick Churchill have continued this legacy and are now rounded out by Guitarist/Vocalist Marcus Bonfanti and Bass Icon Colin Hodgkinson. “Naturally Live” was recorded at HsD, Erfurt, Germany on 24th March 2018 and contains live recordings such as: ”Land Of The Vandals”, “Silverspoon Lady” & “Last Night Of The Bottle” taken from their phenomenally successful studio album A Sting In The Tale. These tracks are combined with old favorites such as “I’d Love To Change The World”, “Hear Me Calling”, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and, of course, the Woodstock killer track “I’m Going Home”. Also included is the band’s semi-acoustic section of their current live show which features three tracks from the very early days in 1967:  “Portable People”, “Don’t Want You Woman” & “Losing The Dogs”. 

This Deluxe Edition due out August 13th also contains “I Say Yeah” which was previously only available on the vinyl edition and the previously unreleased rendition of “32-20 Blues” performed by bassist Colin Hodgkinson. Founding member Ric Lee states, “In the early days at London’s Marquee Club we did an acoustic performance where Alvin Lee played an acoustic guitar, Leo Lyons played an upright string bass, Chick played the Marquee’s acoustic piano and I went from the drum set to the front of the stage to join the guys with just a snare drum on a stand and a pair of brushes. The slot went down really well and several years later when we were playing larger venues, I suggested we played the acoustic spot again to add some variety to what we were doing. Alvin didn’t think it would work and so it didn’t happen. Much later, after Alvin had more or less retired and we had Joe Gooch on vocals and guitar I again suggested we do the acoustic set but this time Leo didn’t think it was right. 

When Marcus and Colin joined us and we were discussing new material for the set, they were both very enthusiastic about doing the three acoustic songs included on the Naturally Live (Deluxe Edition) album and it proved to be a good decision, as that part of the set goes down fantastically well with our audiences. “I Say Yeah” always sounded like an unfinished song to me so we worked out a new arrangement and it’s become somewhat anthemic and involves audience participation. 

What can I say about Colin’s performance of John Lee Hooker’s 32-20 Blues? It’s a superb showcase of his amazing bass playing and vocalizing. Colin is an extremely talented and experienced musician. The people he’s played with throughout his long career reads like a who’s who of the music business. From my point of view it’s an honor and a pleasure to have him in the Ten Years After rhythm section and, to cap it all, he’s a great guy too!”.  

“On this record you can hear a band that lives on its legacy but also wants to look ahead….New frontman Bonfanti further enhances the band’s rock image. Never before had Ten Years After a singer with such a rough and growling voice. With his equally rough guitar playing, Bonfanti is the rock star among the old veterans.” 

There are limited edition bundles (while supplies last), which can be ordered via:

Product Includes:

– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER – “Naturally Live (Deluxe Edition)” CD
– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER Tote Bag
– One (1) TEN YEARS AFTER Autographed Photo
“Naturally Live” (Deluxe Edition) Tracklist: 

Land of the Vandals 
One Of These Days 
Hear Me Calling 
I’d Love To Change The World 
Silverspoon Lady 
Last Night Of The Bottle 
Portable People 
Don’t Want You Woman 
Losing The dogs 
50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain 
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl 
I’m Going Home 
Ric Lee Introducing TYA 
I Say Yeah (bonus track) 
32-20 Blues (bonus track) 


www.dekoentertainment.comCopyright © 2021 Chipster PR & Consulting, Inc., All rights reserved.

07 / ’21

The Bolton Iron Maiden: 1970-76 & Today

Paul O'Neill of The Bolton Iron Maiden: Interview – At The Barrier

As pointed out in a previous article, long before Steve Harris formed Iron Maiden in England, there were other bands who had used the name, most notably a band from Bolton, in northern England, who existed from 1970 to ’76. The trio featured Ian Boulton-Smith [guitar], Derek George Austin [bass, backing vocals] and Paul T.J. O’Neill [drums, lead vocals, keyboards…]. Noel Pemberton Billing would later replace Boulton-Smith, who would return later as well. Although the band would go through a few other changes those were the 4 members who would be captured on cassette live and on tape in the band’s lone studio recording of 4 tracks. Ian Bouton-Smith [aka Beak] passed away June 23rd, 1976 of testicular cancer, and thus this Iron Maiden came to an end. Ironically, Steve Harris’ band was just getting off the ground, and I believe I read that it was Beak who informed Harris that another band was already using the name! Fast forward 30 years, and Paul T.J. O’Neill wanted to honor Beak’s passing and decides to compile a CD of the band’s recording – 4 taken from their only studio venture and a number of live tracks salvaged from a fans’ cassettes at the time. Proceeds of this 12 track CD are also donated to Macmillan Cancer Relief and Cancer Research UK in the guitarist’s name.

Maiden Flight was released in 2005 under the name The Bolton Iron Maiden, as Paul O’Neill had reached out to the world famous band’s manager Rod Smallwood, who not only suggested adding the Bolton to the name [for clarification and legalities], but also threw his support behind the release by having it mentioned on the band’s website and in their news. The Iron Maiden Bolton were a good band back in the day, and judging from the 4 proper studio tracks alone, it’s a shame they never got signed and had some of these songs put out in the day. Citing the likes of Zeppelin, Cream, and Free as influences back then, it is pretty spot on as far where to put this band — a solid blues-based hard rock band. The first of the studio 4 is “Cracked Path”, a song about addiction, and it is a definite Zeppelin early type of rocker, would’ve made a neat single! “Crawl Crawl Night-time” is a longer rocker, lyrically penned about O’Neill’s insomnia. You may recognize the riff, as it is pretty much “Hocus Pocus” by Focus; the Dutch band had recorded their hit classic not too long before this, and the similarity caused the band a bit of stress [an interesting story at their website]. But aside from the Hocus Pocus riff, this is really a stand out track here, love the lead guitar and fills. “Cell Debris” is a tale of man who’s wife has passed and he stands at her grave, reflects on his past and awaits his own end. A pretty interesting and chilling tune, musically reminds me of Cream in places. “Red Sky” is the last of the studio tracks, and it’s a rocker about a time traveler. An interesting theme [time travel], as many of the band’s songs would be based around sci-fi topics, and the time traveler would idea would be the basis for the 2020 album Puppet Master : the Rise and Rise of Slick Dandy. The rest of the originals are well worth hearing, though the sound is not great, and Paul O’Neill would overdub the vocals.

There is plenty of good original songs here performed live and one can only imagine that the likes of “A New Place Of My Own” and “The Naughtiest Girl Is Alive And Well” – which features a lengthy guitar solo [and a nod to Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”] that this Iron Maiden could’ve delivered a pretty decent album in the early ’70s, perhaps one of those odd rarities we’d all be paying stupid prices for!? Last of the live tracks is the band’s signature song “Maiden Flight”, another based on time travel, and this containing a good bit of jamming, clocking in at over 12 minutes. *Gotta say also, great detail put in to the CD packaging, filled with stories and notes about the songs and times, and a few pics!

A 2nd CD of live tracks was issued in 2007 titled Boulton Flies Again : The Covers [the spelling of Boulton after the band’s guitarist Ian Boulton Smith]. It consists of 11 songs featured in the band’s set, and were [again] saved from a fan’s cassette recordings at the time. The sound is not great, but again – very good for an audience recording of the time, and you can get a good listen and feel for how the band was then. It’s an interesting blast back to the early 70s pub scene, with a band that was still trying to make it, playing plenty of others’ material. Funny thing is Bolton Iron Maiden didn’t play a predictable batch of hits, but some pretty cool gems from other bands who weren’t too far in to their careers, notably they played “Black Cloud” by Trapeze, Spirit’s “Fresh Garbage”, Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen”, Free’s “All Right Now”, The Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red”, and the early Mott The Hoople classic “Thunderbuck Ram”, in which Beak does a fine job covering brilliant Mick Ralph’s guitar work . Heck, I am glad to hear this CD being a fan of ’70s rock [and born too late to be there then], so I am finding a few gems I want to hear more of.

In 2018 Paul O’Neill decided to resurrect the Bolton Iron Maiden name again with a concept album about – time travel, as it was the basis for the band’s “Maiden Flight”. The album and story included within the CD titled Puppet Master: The Rise And Rise Of Slick Dandy tell the tale of a 50 year old musician named Norman Normal who’s wishes are answered when the Time Traveler takes him back 30 years, introducing him to an agent, who then introduces him to the ‘Sven Gali to the stars’ who has Norman change his name, becomes a huge star, but in time falls in love, loses the girl, and wants another chance to go back and not lose her. It is quite a unique and detailed stories, with a number of characters and great ending. But it is the story one will enjoy along with the music and the booklet [detailing the characters and tales]. As such, this album is quite varied in musical styles, and theatrical. There are 17 tracks, though some of them are short pieces relevant to telling the story. So you get some excellent rockin’ tracks [closer to the old Iron Maiden sound], and you get more theatrical pieces / ballads, as well as a bit of spoken word where required. Among favorite cuts are the upbeat rocker “Menamong Men”, “Rock n Roll Star” and “Gone Are The Days”. There’s also the excellent “Slick Dandy” [the main character], it’s a pop rock song that builds up heavier – it reminds me of The Fixx’s “One Thing Leads To Another”, and it features Don Airey [this guy is everywhere] on Moog synthesizer, There’s a few fine ballads in “Time Traveler” [the opener], “Old Sad Clown”, and “Who Pulls The Strings” – which has a very David Gilmour feel to it musically, and in Paul’s vocal.

The Rise And Rise Of Slick Dandy is a very detailed album, and once you sit down to ‘get’ the story, it is quite unique, and the music suits it so well. As mentioned there are some excellent individual pieces, but it’s more worth hearing the whole thing. O’Neill unfortunately could use a few former bandmates due to travel issues, but all are mentioned in some way in the detailed liner notes. He does use guitarists Rob Harris and Martin Low, as well as bass players Garry Cutress and Brian Ralph, his daughters on backing vox, and guests Nick Hill [trumpet] and Brian Sage [sax]. All mixed at the legendary Abbey Road Studios!

*Aside from this latest project Paul O’Neill also released a solo album in 2009 titled Totally Swept Away, which features 10 tracks – which are all stories based on Sea adventures / legends, with titles like “Pirates”, “The Mayflower – Hearts Of Oak”, “The Loss Of The Birkenhead”, and “The Captain Is Mad”. Musically more adult contemporary, progressive, pop, well produced… if I dare say this reminds me a bit of Phil Lanzon’s [Uriah Heep] solo albums and even Jethro Tull on occasion. Love the cover art!

*And just to be clear this Iron Maiden [from Bolton] existed before Steve Harris’ band, but there was no connection, though it would be interesting to hear the world famous metal band covering “Cracked Path” or “Maiden Flight”. Nor is this band to be confused with the Iron Maiden from Basildon, UK, who existed from the mid ’60s til mid 1970 and released a single that year. They too released a CD of recordings several years later titled Maiden Voyage.

*all images borrowed from CD cover and the band’s website. + CD promo poster courtesy of PO!

Links / Ordering / More info:

The Bolton Iron Maiden

(20+) The Bolton Iron Maiden | Facebook

Paul TJ O’Neill of The Bolton Iron Maiden – Puppet Master: The Rise And Rise Of Slick Dandy: Album Review – At The Barrier

One to Watch: The Bolton Iron Maiden | The Bolton News

KJ, 07 / ’21

Top 10 Canadian Albums Of 1985

Well, this is the year where things kinda took a turn, IMO. Not a huge list to choose from, and for the most part these are where bands got way more ‘commercial’ or pop oriented, more keyboards (or introduced keyboards)… Not the best from many. Considering I pretty much hated the ’90s, and there was less releases going forward; these lists may get tougher.

Rush – Power Windows

I thought “Big Money” was great as the lead off single here, and it’s still the stand out song for me on this. “Territories”, “Manhattan Project”, good songs, even if it was further into the use of keyboards, etc… but give Rush credit for always moving forward and doing something new – that is why they lasted. Released in October. I saw this tour at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Coney Hatch – Friction

The 3rd in the ’80s trilogy by the Hatch, and the 2nd with Max Norman. A very good album, though the focus on 1 lead singer lost a bit of the magic in the band. But, great tracks – “She’s Gone”, “This Ain’t Love”, and good singles “Girl From Last Night’s Dream” and “Fantasy”.

Headpins – Head Over Heels

The 3rd and final album from the Vancouver band fronted by the amazing Darby Mills, and lead by Brian “Too Loud” McLeod. This one seemed to come and go with less impact than the previous 2. Less of the heavy, a bit more ’80s pop driven, but plenty of good songs – “Stayin’ All Night”, “Never Come Down From The Danger Zone”, “Be With You”…

Helix – Long Way To Heaven

The 3rd Helix album during their heyday, released in November. My favorite one, with “Deep Cuts The Knife”, “The Kids Are All Shakin'”, “Without You”. I remember seeing these guys walking through a local mall back then – wearing their tour jackets! I got Brian Vollmer’s autograph on the back on gift card bag [I was Christmas shopping].

Loverboy – Lovin’ Every Minute Of It

The band’s 4th, released in August This one featured 2 top 10 Billboard hits, the title track [penned by Mutt Lange, who thankfully did not produce this album], and a ballad “This Could Be The Night” [with a co-writing credit to Jonathan Cain, uhg]. A bit heavier overall, another lame cover. I did like this album.

FM – Con-Test

The ‘reunion’ album w/ Nash The Slash returning. A definite more ’80s keyboard pop direction featuring a few hits like “All Of The Dreams”, “Just Like You”, and “Why Don’t You Take It”, as well as favorite “Distant Early Warning” [Ben Mink on guitar].

Kick Axe – Welcome To The Club

This Regina, Saskatchewan band’s 2nd album, and 2nd with Spencer Proffer producing. Some deliberate attempts at breaking the big time with a guest-list filled cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”, but it’s the band’s own songs that I liked far better, like the ballad “Never Let Go”, “Comin’ After You” [single], the title track, and “Hellraisers”.

Saga – Behaviour

Released in August, the last to feature the ‘classic’ line up [for a few years]. Included the hits “What Do I Know”, “Listen To Your Your Heart”, as well as favorites “Here I Am” and the title track.

Orphan – Salute

The 2nd and final album from this Winnipeg band, released in the summer. Featured the hit “Lyin’ To Me”, as well as favorites “Open Up The Skies” and “Woman In Love”.

Aldo Nova – Twitch

Released in October. Not much hard-rockin’ here, with [again] way more keyboards and pop produced tunes. But, heck there are a number of very good songs, like the hits “Rumours Of You” and “Tonight (Lift Me Up)”, and rocker “Heartless”.

Other releases: Lee Aaron Call Of The Wild , Blind Vengeance Blind Vengeance , Hanover Fist Hungry Eyes , April Wine Walking Through Fire , Convict Go Ahead…Make My Day Touchdown Tricks Of A Trade

06 / ’21

Foghat 50th Anniversary Live Album!

Noisy S.O.D., Inc.



Multi-Platinum rockers FOGHAT celebrate 50 years of Rock n’ Roll with 8 DAYS ON THE ROAD, a 14-track live performance that will be released as a double CD/DVD package on July 16, 2021 on their own Foghat Records label, distributed by Select-O-Hits (which is part of the Sun Records family and is owned by Sam Philips’ son and nephew). It will also be available on 180 Gram Vinyl later this summer.  Recorded on November 17, 2019 at Daryl’s House Club in Pawling, NY, the collection features the band’s biggest and most legendary hits, including “Slow Ride,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” “Fool For The City,” and so many others. Pre-orders are available on digital outlets including Spotify , and iTunes includes an instant download of “Road Fever” with purchase.
A video for “Road Fever” can be seen on the band’s official YouTube page today. The collection will also be available on 180 gram vinyl in the coming months.
 The band has already started to work on a new Blues/Rock studio album to be released in 2022. Track listing:
1. Drivin’ Wheel
2. Road Fever
3. Stone Blue
4. Fool For The City
5. It Hurts Me Too
6. Take Me To The River
7. Home In My Hand
8. 8 Days on the Road
9. Chateau Lafitte ’59 Boogie
10. I Just Want To Make Love To You
11. Chevrolet
12. Maybellene
13. Play That Funky Music
14. Slow Ride

Also available on the Foghaonline store: 
Amanda Cagan
ABC Public Relations
Contact us directly at  

06 / ’21

Hard rock, Classic Rock, reviews, interviews, lists…

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