All posts by KJ

Tommy Bolin – Teaser : Essential ’70s LPs

Tommy Bolin’s “Teaser” [1975] was released shortly after Bolin’s one and only studio album with Deep Purple [“Come Taste The Band”] . Though his commitments to Deep Purple at the time left no chance for a solo tour to promote it, the album remains a classic piece of 70s rock, that saw Bolin as songwriter, singer & guitarist cover a number of genres. I always shake my head when I see this album in a used bin at the flea market or a used record shop, and some idiot has stuck it in the ‘heavy metal’ section!

Bolin - teaser

Teaser boasts everything from funk, fusion, Latin, reggae, blues, hard-rock… and it all flows nicely. It features a number of players, most notably Jan Hammer on a few tracks, David Foster, Jeff Porcaro [Toto, RIP], Prairie Prince [Tubes, Todd Rundgren], and Stanley Sheldon [Peter Frampton]. Then-new Deep Purple bandmate Glenn Hughes also guests on the ballad “Dreamer”, singing the final verse. Dreamer is my favorite track here, though not written by Bolin [penned by former Energy bandmate Jeff Cook], beautifully interpreted and one of Bolin’s heaviest and memorable solos. The album’s title track is the song most will recognize, though not a single – it is a classic hard rock song, with a cool riff intro, and would be covered by Legs Diamond, and [more notably] Motley Crue. The Latin styled “Savannah Woman” was issued as a single, as was the album’s lead off track “The Grind” – a great rocking tune, with a cool hook, slide, and funk – a song Van Halen would perform in their early days [check it out on youtube!] . “Wild Dogs” is a favorite here; one of those storytelling songs highlighting Bolin’s soloing as well as his vocals; this one would appear on a few other releases, stretched out for more of Bolin’s guitar, and it’d be 1 of 2 tracks from this album that featured in Deep Purple’s live set for a while. One of 2 instrumental cuts, “Homeward Strut” would feature later on in DP’s live shows [in other countries]. “Marching Powder” is the other fusion instrumental, with a great riff intro, kinda fast and wild with lots of drums, saxophone, and plenty of changes. “Lotus” closes out Teaser, and it’s another that features plenty of changes from quiet beginnings to a very heavy rock tune.

Although Teaser was not a huge commercial success at the time [peaking at “96 on Billboard], it remains the favorite of Bolin’s career, with numerous reissues, a box set, plenty of retrospective reviews & discussions by fans and rock historians. There’s also a number of alternative versions of many of these tracks on various posthumous releases. Teaser is an essential 70s rock album, whether you only know Bolin’s name through his Deep Purple or James Gang connections or know the title track. It is more than simply a Hard-rock album by ‘Purple’s guitar player at the time, as numerous listens will bring something you may not have locked on to before, with all the varying styles and tunes. A follow up album – “Private Eyes” was released within a year, and fared no better commercially, and a bit less historically. It would be Tommy Bolin’s last album while he was alive. Dead at 25, but in just a 7+ year career Bolin was a major songwriter and performer on 5 band albums, writer/guitarist/singer on 2 solo albums, and guitarist on 3 other notable releases. He left a huge catalogue, and one that has grown over the years since his passing, but Teaser is THE Tommy Bolin to have – more so that anything else he did.

Further reading:

tommy 1tommy 2


KJJ, 08/20

Lizzy Borden – Great American Metal [Favorite Tracks]

Formed in 1983 singer Lizzy Borden [who would take the stage name, and use it for his band name, in the same way Alice Cooper would], along with drummer Joey Scott, guitarists Gene Allan & Tony Matuzak, and on bass Steve Hochheiser. Michael Davis took over on bass soon after, and Alex Nelsen would replace Matuzak after the first album. The band would go through other changes over the years – mainly guitarists. The band signed to Metal Blade Records in 1984, after appearing on the labels “Metal Massacre IV” compilation. These compilation albums saw the start to many metal bands that went on to be huge, from Ratt,
to Metallica, Slayer, as well as Metal Church, Virgin Steel, Armored Saint…. Lizzy Borden would take on a theatrical live show featuring the axe [playing on the name of the infamous accused axe murderer in 1892], blood, and costumes. Check out the “Murderess Metal Road Show” [on video / youtube].
The band grew a strong following, but never quite broke through huge commercially; perhaps it was adding to the ‘shock rock’ scene after the likes of WASP & Motley Crue [?], or that those bands [and many other LA bands like Quiet Riot, Ratt, etc.. ] were signed to major labels [?]. Regardless the band did put out some solid metal albums, and are still active. They also took some bolds steps in the 80s with a double live album, prior to recording their 2nd full album. “The Murderess Metal Roadshow” [1989] featured 17 tracks, including a cool cover of Paul McCartney’s “Live And Let Die” [years before Guns N Roses]; they also recorded an ambitious concept album, complete with orchestra arrangements. Lizzy still has a great voice, and IMO the band’s recordings are pretty underrated. I saw the band in Toronto years ago on their “Summer of Blood” tour in 2012. The turn-out sucked, but the band [which also featured guitarists Dario Lorina and AC Alexander, at the time, as well as bass player Marten] was killer, playing an awesome set, with plenty of theatrics and blood for everyone there![I have a poster somewhere…] The latest Lizzy Borden album was in 2018, without a full band, but proved Lizzy could still come up with the songs, and still has the voice fans like. Here’s a list of Lizzy Borden’s best tracks [as chosen by me]. Let me know what you think and what I’m missing! Sorry, I didn’t pick anything from “Menace To Society” [1986] , an album that is still growing on me. I also didn’t include the project Starwood [which featured Lizzy, Joey Scott, and Marten Andersen], who released the album “If It Ain’t Broke, Break It”, in 2004.

lizzy 85

Give ‘Em The Axe
From the band’s debut EP in 1984. This kinda played on the band’s name and set the tone for the first few albums, fast paced metal, big guitar solo, a memorable chorus.

American Metal
From the band’s first full album “Love You To Pieces” in 1985. Classic album cover photo! Lizzy, perhaps trying in that Alice Cooper style could come up with a few good anthems, and this is probably their best one. A great live song too.

Also from Love You To Pieces, my favorite of the ’80s LB albums. A creepy stalker / killer tale; this was one for the band’s stage show. Cool bass intro and scary guitar build up. Solid rock tune. *Was reissued on CD in 2011 w/ 4 bonus tracks, as well as differing colors of vinyl [for Europe & US] in 2018, along with poster.

Me Against The World
Lizzy’s 3rd studio album – “Visual Lies”, and there’s plenty of memorable rockers here. This one features Joe Holmes on guitar [who went on to work with Ozzy years later]. This track’s another great anthem to lead off a solid album, love the heavy drums driving this one and the lyrics. Classic 80s rocker, surprised it wasn’t a bigger hit.

Master of Disguise
The title song to 1989’s theatrical concept album. A big change on this album with orchestrations, keyboards, ballads, lots of extra players. I really like it, and love the dramatic orchestrated intro to this song and album. 25th Anniversary CD edition adds 2 tracks, and improved graphics on the cover. this needs a vinyl reissue though. This was cited as a ‘solo’ album in the press, with a changeover in guitar players [again]

Hell Is For Heroes
After 11 years Lizzy Borden returned. This was the my re-introduction to the band, and I loved this CD when I first heard it; still like cranking it up in the car. Lots of great memorable hard hitting rockers. This is probably my favorite LB song – such an awesome tune with the frantic drum intro, the clever verses, and the memorable chorus.

Deal With The Devil
Great guitars intro… love the lyrics in this song; classic Lizzy Borden. My 2nd favorite LB album, every song rocks. A few cool covers of Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper classics. This album would credit 5 guitar players and 3 bass players, with Lizzy, [drummer] Joey Scott, and [bassist] Michael Davis all from the original band, as well as keyboardist [producer] Elliot Soloman – who also played on Master Of Disguise. Cover-art by famed comic artist Todd McFarlane. Sadly, guitarist Alex Nelson – who also played on “Murderess Metal Road Show” & “Menace to Society” died in a car accident in 2004. Original bass player Michael Scott Davis would go on to play with Halford, and Death Dealer. *Japanese bonus track was an industrial version of Scorpions classic “We’ll Burn The Sky”.

lizzy 2012

Live Forever
Lizzy Borden returned in 2007 , but really they released an album in 2004 under the name ‘Starwood’. This project featured Lizzy, Joey Scott, as well as Marten Anderssen and Joe Steals – who both played on Deal With The Devil. Anyway, 20i07’s “Appointment With Death” band included Andersson [ex Lynch Mob], as well as guitarist Ira Black. The album also featured guitarists Zane, as well as Dave Meniketti [Y & T] and George Lynch. So, this is Lizzy Borden at their heaviest! A modern metal album, dark, well written and produced, my favorite LB album! Difficult to cut it down to a few songs here, no filler. Love the vocals, Lizzy on later albums is more in control vocally and lyrically. This track is one of a few killer rockers.

Tomorrow Never Comes
My favorite track off of Appointment With Death. Heavy, hard hitting metal rocker, crazy video… Lizzy in their goth look, with a death theme running through this album. Love the cover!

Under Your Skin
One of the video releases for Appointment With Death. This track was a bit less ‘metal’ than most on this album, with slowed down verses and keyboards, but a great heavy chorus, cool guitar solo…. lyrically, this song is about people who self-abuse themselves [cutting] , with a public service announcement at the end of the video. Guitarist Ira Black left some time after this album, but would return for live shows years later.

lizzy 2010

My Midnight Things
Lizzy’s latest album, and without a band! It’s just Lizzy and [drummer] Joey Scott [these guys are brothers in real life]. So, had no idea – but aside from drums, Lizzy can [and does] play everything else on this album. The album isn’t as heavy or ‘metal’ as the previous 2, but it’s a solid album. A fantastic riff and intro, and a killer song to lead off this album. Lots of Lizzy’s vocals layered, haunting keyboards, awesome chorus… A different sounding LB album, well worth checking out. Great cover.

Long May They Haunt Us
This one also from My Midnight Things. The album’s theme is songs about love, but with Lizzy it’s not a bunch of sappy love songs. This one is pretty haunting production, very memorable… Written with guitarists Alex Nelson and Corey James Daum both in mind – who passed away in automobile accidents 5 years apart. Lizzy looking pretty creepy in this video.

Close …. Love You To PIeces, Ursa Minor, Lord Of The Flies, Eyes Of A Stranger, One False Move, Psychodrama, Zanzibar, The Death Of Love.

lizzy 2018

Further reading:


Q&A: Lizzy Borden Talks New Album My Midnight Things

Ready For The Haunt: A Conversation with Lizzy Borden


The Year of Blue Oyster Cult

Blue Oyster Cult was [is] one of my favorite bands in my younger years, and after discovering them in the early 80s, and keeping up for years with new albums, and the odd live show, there became a big gap. There was the “Heaven Forbid” album in ’98, which I didn’t get into at the time, and I subsequently neglected to take much notice of 2001’s “Curse Of The Hidden Mirror”. And then there was nothing – for years! It was Joe Bouchard’s debut solo album in 2009 [“Jukebox In My Head”] that got me re-enthused about BOC. Jukebox was/is a fantastic album. And, from there I kept up with Joe’s recordings, and started filling in my BOC collection with CDs, and a few live releases. But 2020 looks like it is going to be THE year for Blue Oyster Cult fans! A long list of live releases, reissues, and a brand new album – ALL this year! Signing to Frontiers Music, so far there had been 3 live releases [4th one due in a week or 2], a trio of vinyl reissues [of albums not originally seen on LP], and a brand new studio album being planned for later this year as well. And if anything I’ve learned over the last several years of “limited edition” new vinyl is that If you snooze you lose! Thus, I dragged my feet for the first half of this year, and the 3LP of “Live In Cleveland 2014” and the 2 reissues are gone! But I have listened to the live releases, and pulled out my CD copy of “Heaven Forbid” [on the lookout for the vinyl].


First the live albums…. Blue Oyster Cult, for many years has been Donald Roeser [aka Buck Dharma] and Eric Bloom, and longtime members Richie Castellano [keyboards, guitar], Jules Radino [drums], and Danny Miranda [bass – who returned a few years back to replace Kasim Sulton]. Live In Cleveland 2014 came out in January, featuring 17 tracks. What I like about these releases is that the band doesn’t stick to the same dozen hits every show. This show is probably the most career-wide spanning, touching on most of the band’s albums up until 1983’s “The Revolution By Night”. Out next was the band’s 2016 – 40th Anniversary performance of “Agents of Fortune”. A solid performance, which featured Albert Bouchard guesting on a number of songs [on guitar & vocals], no Joe Bouchard, but Richie Castellano does a fine performance of Joe’s “Morning Final”. One of my favorite BOC albums; it was the band’s commercial breakthrough and huge success – due to “Don’t Fear The Reaper” being a huge hit.

“iHeart Radio Theater” came out in June; it’s from a 2012 show, featuring 11 tracks [omitting many of the earlier tracks from the Cleveland show], but the sound is fantastic on this one, got this one in the car CD player cranked up – The Vigil, Black Blade, Cities On Flame, Godzilla…. a killer show. Next up is the band’s 45th Anniversary show from 2017 [London, again], and it’s a pretty amazing show, with the band performing the debut album from 1972, entirely. Again, the performance and sound is great, and it’s cool to hear those earliest songs updated, and a reminder of just how great that album [as a whole] really was — Transmaniacon MC, Then Came The Last Days Of May, Screams [w/ Richie on vocals], … classic stuff! I hope there’s more of these releases in the future [perhaps one of the reunion shows – featuring Albert & Joe and/or Allen Lanier [RIP]. I also wish a few of my other favorite bands would take such a step to release a set of archived live shows].

Back to the reissued releases – there’s the band’s last 2 studio albums Heaven Forbid [1998] and Curse of The Hidden Mirror [2001. I actually don’t have a copy of this at present, though a signed print of the artwork from album artist Ioannis hangs in our house – both were reissued on LP/CD from Frontiers, as well as 1994’s “Cult Classics”. Cult Classic is a 14 track set of BOC classics re-corded by the band, which also [at the time] featured Allen Lanier, as well as Jon Rogers [bass], and Chuck Burgi [drums]. I really wasn’t keen on Cult Classic when I got it in ’94, and still ain’t, but oh well, I get that many will like the updated sound. I’ll pull these out and revisit for another post [they’ll be in the car the next few weeks, along with Joe Bouchard’s new CD!]. Also coming out in August is the compilation “The Best of Blue Oyster Cult : Don’t Fear The Reaper” – reissued on translucent red vinyl via Friday Records; 16 tracks covering the albums up until 1983.
To top 2020 off Blue Oyster Cult have recorded and preparing a brand new studio album for an October release [on Frontiers], titled “The Symbol Remains” [see press release below] . Alongside the reissues, live albums, and new albums by former members – There is a great pile of BOC to pick up and check out this year! Despite the problems in this year, at least we have plenty of Blue Oyster Cult to enjoy.

“Blue Oyster Cult return with a mammoth new studio album “The Symbol Remains“ this October. Coming nearly two decades after the release of their last studio album “Curse of the Hidden Mirror,” the album showcases a band who hasn’t been slowed by the time passed, but is simply unfazed by it. “The Symbol Remains” is one of their most spirited, diverse, and inspired releases to date.
As the saying goes, “good things come to those who wait” and the 14 new songs on display here embody that. Fans will be delighted with an extremely inspired album which ultimately sounds like a band looking back at their storied catalog and giving the fans a bit of everything they’ve ever loved about BÖC, while simultaneously continuing to evolve.
Blue Oyster Cult are best known for their massive singles “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Burnin’ for You,” and “Godzilla.” Riff-heavy and head-banging while intelligently hook-laden, the band remains a constant touring presence and as relevant as ever. Pioneering the heavy metal style while providing inspiration to psychedelic jam bands and arena rockers alike, genre-benders Blue Oyster Cult are a widely respected classic rock band with a storied catalog., BÖC has been covered by everyone from Metallica and HIM to moe, which showcases the wide range influence of their music. ”

*If I’ve omitted any releases of interest or to give your 2 cents on these releases – drop me a comment.

KJJ, 07/20

Joe Bouchard – Strange Legends

Released on the newly founded RockHeart Records [the label formed by brothers Joe & Albert Bouchard] – “Strange Legends” is the 6th full studio album in just over 10 years from former / founding member of Blue Oyster Cult Joe Bouchard. Upon first listen, what’s noticeable is the lively sound and great production and much of that is due not just to the solid set of songs, but also the performances of drummer Micky Curry. And just so you know – this is the first album since Joe’s debut solo album in 2009 – that he’s used a real drummer! And Curry has a long list of credits – most notably Bryan Adams, The Cult, Hall & Oates, Alice Cooper, Tom Cochrane, Ian Hunter…..

There’s 11 tracks here, 4 are penned by the late John Elwood Cook [1 being a reworking from a previous JB album], and there’s 1 cover tune. Unlike his previous few albums, there’s no obvious themes running through this, though there are a number of neat stories. Overall this album rocks more than Joe’s previous albums, with the drums really adding a kick into more hard rocking tunes like “The African Queen”, the instrumental “Racing Thru The Desert”, and “Walk Of Fame”. “Forget About Love” [from J.E. Cook] was the first track put out; it’s a reworking of the song that first appeared on Joe’s “New Solid Black” EP, but this version has more punch to it, And it’s a Top 20 hit in Holland!

Some pretty solid melodic pop/rock tracks here with tracks like “She’s A Legend” [co-written w/ Sci-fi writer John Shirley], “Once Upon A Time At The Border”, and closing track “Winter” – one of my favorites here, with guitar from Joan Levy Hepburn; I like how this one plays out with the guitar picking up and the synths coming in. Best pic here has to be the ballad “Strangely In Love”, another J.E. Cook song, a dreamy summertime feel – musically and lyrically; love the performance, and if you’re familiar with “Haunted Dance Floor” or “Dark Boat” from Joe’s first solo album [both outstanding tunes] – then this sits somewhere in-between them. There’s also a fine cover of The Kinks’ “All Day And All Of The Night”!

This album has a lot to offer, great songs, great production; I’m looking forward to many listens in the car [where I can crank it up]. The album art is pretty cool too. Check it out.

Dukes Of The Orient – Freakshow

In the early ’90s Geoff Downes resurrected a new version of the ’80s ‘supergroup’ Asia, and recruited singer/bass player John Payne. With a rotating line-up throughout the 90s and early 2000’s Downes & Payne recorded a number of album’s under the Asia banner. I have these, and quite like them, though being a John Wetton fan, I felt a bit bad for Payne, in a way, but he proved to be a fantastic singer and songwriter; he certainly has a distinctive voice. Asia released albums, This era of Asia didn’t have the hits or notoriety that compared to the first 2 albums, but there are plenty of great songs. When Downes left his partnership with Payne to rejoin the original Asia line-up, Payne was allowed to continue on as ‘Asia featuring John Payne’. On another note, I saw Asia in Trenton, NJ, at the Classic Rock Festival in 2002 [I went mainly to see Uriah Heep]. I clearly recall getting on the hotel elevator with a few other Heep fans, and people, and John was on it as well. Everyone nodded, said Hi, and someone asked John which band he was with [I knew], he politely replied that he was with Asia, and everyone just carried on. In retrospect, I wish I was more familiar with that Asia at the time, and had something to say. He [and Asia, which also featured Chris Slade on drums then] put on a good show; it was a fun weekend….

Dukes - freakshow

Anyway, fast-forward to last year and I started listening to those Asia albums with Payne and filling in the gaps in my collection. I never got the first Dukes Of The Orient album, but when I heard the first single / video from the band’s second album – “The Monitors”, I thought it was a great song, classic aor, and had me looking forward to this. Dukes Of The Orient is the natural successor to Payne’s version of Asia [dropping the name out of respect for Wetton and to get a fresh start].

Freakshow is almost what I expected, but a better. First, Payne’s vocals seem to get better with age, and he’s easily recognizable. If you liked the albums by Asia that Payne was on, you will love this! It’s progressive, a bit more melodic, and well produced. Very much a keyboard heavy album, but plenty of different sounds, from various synths, to Hammond organ, to piano – Erik Norlander [ Lana Lane, Last In Line] is pretty creative from track to track, plus there’s plenty of acoustic & electric guitar, saxophone, harmonies. The songs here are most impressive, and there’s so much sound-wise to get into that this album is pretty likeable off the bat, and there’s plenty to go back to dig further into. Aside from the “The Monitors” – which would be a huge hit in previous decades [dig the guitar solo as well], fave tracks include the epic piece “Man of Machine”, as well as “A Quest For Knowledge” [this one reminds me of Yes], “When Ravens Cry”, the instrumental “The Great Brass Steam Engine”, and closing ballad “Until Then” – a pretty timely song that Payne delivers so well.

Dukes - photo

I am really looking forward to getting this in the car [apparently only available on CD], as there’s so much to get in to on this 10 track album. A very feel-good album, and I dare say should appeal to classic prog fans [aside from Asia], fans of Yes and Supertramp [a good bit of saxophone on here, and piano here]. Out on Frontiers Music August 7. Aside from John Payne and Erik Norlander, Dukes of The Orient includes Alex Garcia [guitar], Frank Klepacki [drums], and Eric Tewalt [saxophone].

KJJ, 07/20

URIAH HEEP – The Live Albums

In the ’70s band’s released live albums usually to cap off a period in their career or to commemorate a memorable show or performance; live albums [for the most part] came less often. Uriah Heep released 1 classic double-live set in 1973, and though the band continued into the 80s, 90s, and are still recording and performing [prior to Covid 19] there was no further live albums until 1986 when 2 posthumous live sets were released, and a new live album in 1988. But at the start of the new millennium a whole series of live albums started being released, in leu of any new studio albums for most of the decade, as the industry changed. And since 2009, there’s been a whole pile of new live recordings [many of these issued as official live ‘bootlegs’. This is my own ranking of Heep live albums, based on performances, set lists, and sound. I was going to stop at 10, but continued on with those that had some historical significance to longtime fans. Unfortunately there’s no live releases from the ’80s Heep period, closest being the “Live In London [1985]” video release, and a few live tracks on the back of B-sides and “The Best of Part 2” compilation. Here’s hoping we’ll see more more live archived releases.


Live January 1973
One of the greatest live albums of the 70s – when live albums meant a bit more. Live January 1973 caps off Uriah Heep’s period with Mercury Records in North America, and for many fans – capped off their greatest period, with the ‘classic’ line up at it’s peak. I often have a toss up between my 3 favorite Heep live albums, but put this first for the magic of the band pulling off classics like Sunrise, Tears In My Eyes, Circle of Hands, July Morning, and The Magician’s Birthday – All in the same show! Plus the singles – Gypsy, Easy Livin, and Sweet Lorraine! Performance on this show was legendary – David’s vocals, Lee’s drumming [check out Sweet Lorraine!], the solos, and the Rock n Roll Medley – which a few band’s did around this time and band’s like Queen would pick up on and make one of their own in their live sets. The packaging set a standard – with the stapled program and collage of old reviews and press articles, all a brilliant package that legendary photographer Fin Costello would go on to sorta replicate in Kiss ‘Alive’ [Kiss citing Heep’s Live album as an influence for their own].


Live In Europe ’79
Released in 1986, well after this line-up of the band ceased, but originally recorded with the intent of a live album. I loved John Lawton as a singer for Uriah Heep, although I am not crazy about the latter 2 albums he sang on – due to the band’s lighter / more poppier direction. John’s vocals was the best thing about this era. He also wrote a couple of the era’s heaviest and most memorable songs [Free N Easy, I’m Alive..]. When I first got this 2 LP years ago, I immediately liked John’s take on the classics like Easy Livin’ and Stealin’, though it took me longer to warm to the change on the softer songs like The Wizard & July Morning. But what I like most about this album is the sheer power of the band’s sound at the time, and how much of the Lawton era songs came off stronger than the studio versions and fit so well amongst the early classics. The original 2 LP gatefold sleeve lacked a bit in band pics, but looked great; the 2 CD remastered version is outstanding for the extra material and info.

Future Echoes of The Past
What an amazing set of Heep classics and “neo classics” [as Bernie Shaw refers to the newer material]. One thing that I really like about Heep [especially during the Shaw/Lanzon years] is the band’s confidence and enthusiasm to play a wealth of songs from their album. Nothing more annoying than going to see a band you enjoy with a new album, that only plays 1 new song! Heep regularly plays 5+ songs from the latest album they are promoting. – Sonic Origami was the new album at the time of this recording [one of my favorites!], and the band would include 8 [of 13] songs from it. Brilliant performances on classics like Sweet Freedom, Sunrise, Rain, and Bird of Prey [besides the usual], and a killer start with Between Two Worlds, with Bernie hitting that high note at the peak of the song. I remember talking to Dave White [Heep webmaster] before this came out, and that “Uriah Heep : 2000” would be such a cool title for this. Originally came in a 2CD set, numbered with signed booklets. This one needs a new vinyl reissue!

Magic Night
In 2000 the band started doing yearly special shows near the end of the year – which would include a few guests, a special set list, and eventually be issued as a CD/DVD via Classic Rock Productions. Of the series, “Magic Night” – recorded in 2003 remains my favorite. A pretty career wide set of songs, including stuff from almost every Heep era [save for Conquest] -a selection of acoustic tracks, John Lawton on 2 tracks – most notably sharing vocals with Bernie Shaw on Been Away Too Long, which is the highlight of this recording for me, plus a couple of early 80s Peter Goalby era rockers. The CD would feature 16 tracks [excluding July Morning & Lady In Black from the accompanying DVD], and a new 2-LP reissue of this features 15 tracks [also lobbing off Too Scared To Run] – a full reissue of the entire show would be nice. Beautiful cover-art from Rodney Matthews [best known for album covers by Magnum, and whom would do a couple of other Heep covers in this series, as well as one for John Lawton].

Acoustically Driven
This show featured the band playing an acoustic set, with an added string section, and a special guest Ian Anderson [on a couple of tracks]. The band pulled out a number of previously unplayed [and/or not played in years] gems, most notably 2 from the Different World album, and older ballads like Circus, The Easy Road and Why Did You Go, as well as fan favorites The Shadows And The Wind and Blind Eye. Nothing heavy here, a very different Heep feel and atmosphere. Originally a 16 track [the last one being a medley] DVD/CD , and recently issued in full on 2 LPs. Cover-art by Roger Dean.

The Magicians Birthday Party
This year end show was plugged as some sort of ‘reunion’ show as it would be the first time Ken Hensley would play with the band since he left in 1980. It also included guest appearances from John Lawton and from Thijs Van Leer of Focus [on flute]. An excellent 15 song set, which would bring back a few old classics like Paradise/The Spell, Tales, I’ll Keep On Trying, and Free N Easy. Hensley features on most of the latter half of this set, making for memorable performances of Circle Of Hands, and July Morning, but for me it’s John Lawton who provides the highlights of the show [again] with his performances on Sympathy and Free N Easy. Hnesley would rejoin the band on stage in Russia in 2015; hopefully someone will give that an official release some day, and Lawton would also fill in for Bernie Shaw Another Roger Dean cover, originally in a 15 song DVD/CD package, and more recently issued on 2 LPs with just 12 tracks.

Live At Koko
The band’s most recent live release, recorded prior to the release 2014’s “Outsider” and issued on CD/DVD and 3-LPs in 2015. A solid hard-hitting set and performance – featuring tracks from each of the 4 Bernie Shaw era studio albums, plus 2 Outsider tracks [performed before the album’s release]. So well recorded, with No guests, and very few slow-downs in the set. Outstanding version of Traveler In Time, as well as a blazing instrumental titled “Box Wah Box”.

Live In Armenia
Great 2 LP [+ CD/DVD] set from a 2009 show, released in 2011. Sounds great [another production by Mike Paxman, who produced Heep from Wake The Sleeper To Outsider, and mastered a number of the live ‘official bootleg’ releases]. Features 7 cuts from Wake The Sleeper, which all sound awesome here, as well as the usual half dozen Heep classics, and Sympathy. Fantastic cover-art by Ioannis.

Live in Kawasaki
From the ‘official bootleg’ series. I dig this album for the fact that the band performs Demons And Wizards in it’s entirety [in order], with Micky Moody [ex Whitesnake] guesting on slide guitar on a few tracks. I think the band does an outstanding job recreating the band’s classic 1972 album. As well, this includes 4 tracks from Wake The Sleeper, Love In Silence, Rain, Free N Easy, the standards, and a few others — 21 tracks total! Recorded in 2010, issued the following year. The Japanese edition [released in 2013] includes 2 more classics. Another great cover from Ioannis [who did Heep covers from Wake The Sleeper to Into The Wild]. The band also performed Demons & Wizards in full at 2010’s High Voltage Festival in London [UK], with Moody guesting again.

Originally recorded and aired for radio broadcast in Germany. I had a tape of this broadcast and absolutely loved it, in large part for the set list, and the inclusion of my favorite Heep song Circle Of Hands, I thought it was just a fantastic take and performance by the band, and in particular – Bernie Shaw. Devil’s Daughter was a great opening track then, and the set included Words In The Distance – before it was actually released in ’95 on Sea of Light [the band was playing this in ’93 as ‘the new song’, when i saw them on the Total Recall Tour in North America]. Originally a CD release, but in recent years has been issued as a 2 LP set.

Live At Shepperton ’74
Not originally recorded for a live album release. This is the soundtrack to Heep’s 1974 US TV show ‘Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert’, recorded in London at a special performance. Not a full show, but more so to promote the band’s then-upcoming Wonderworld album, so it featured 4 songs from that album, as well as a few previous hits, and the Rock N Roll Medley. The single LP came in a simple white sleeve with the name & title printed on the outside, and no photos. A few other issues came later with different covers. The sound wasn’t great [being recorded and edited for TV], but in 1997 this performance would be remastered, with added outtakes [some retakes of a few songs at the show]. I like this album largely for the performances of the 4 Wonderworld tracks – which sound better than the studio versions to me.

Live In Moscow
In 1987 Heep was restarting with a new lead singer, and a fairly new keyboard player. The band’s status had dropped in various territories following the Equator album, and a few more personnel changes – particularly in North America. But on the other side of the world, Uriah Heep was still a huge deal, and the band would be invited to be the first western rock band to perform in the then Soviet Union, performing 10 nights in Moscow. The band was a huge deal in Russia, treated like huge stars by the people there, and being well documented by the UK rock press. Originally released as a 10 track LP in a beautifully printed red gatefold cover [w/ lyrics, photos, and liner notes by Paul Henderson], with 3 of the 10 tracks being brand new songs. The sound wasn’t very strong, with the equipment in the USSR back then not so great. A later remastering of the album would improve the sound and add 3 more songs from the live tapes.

Worth checking out:
King Biscuit Flower Presents..
Electrically Driven 2001 : The Official Bootleg
Live In The USA 2002
Between Two Worlds : Live in London 2004
Live At Sweden Rock Festival 2009
Official Bootleg Series [2008-2011 series]

*leave me a comment and let me know what you think or what is your favorite Heep live release. and feel free to Subscribe. [thanks]

KJJ / 07/20

YES – Alan White : from the Archives

In late ’99 I received the “The Ladder”, the new Yes album at the time. I really liked it at the time, a bit different, lighter, more diverse instruments, but I enjoyed the songs like “It Will Be A Good Day” and “If Only You Knew”, and the Roger Dean cover-art is one of my favorite Yes covers. [And recently reissued on vinyl, which sparked my interest in revisiting it]. At the time I got to interview drummer Alan White for this release. Alan joined Yes in ’72, and has been there ever since. Aside from Yes, the guy has had an amazing career – playing with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Joe Cocker.
Check out more at –

yes 99

January 2000:
‘I recently had the privilege and honor to interview YES drummer Alan White.
The band is currently out in support of their latest album “The Ladder” – which is being hailed as their best since “90125” by many fans and critics. [See my review in December issue of Universal Wheels for more].
The band now comprised of White, guitarists Steve Howe and Billy Sherwood, keyboardist Igor Khoroshev, founding members Chris Squire and Jon Anderson. For more info on Yes check out YesWorld, Notes From The Edge at’

Q: Congratulations on the new album. 
AW: Thanks very much.

Q: I think it’s probably the best [Yes] album since ‘90125’. 
AW: Yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff on it; we enjoy playing it.

Q: How have things been going? 
AW: Excellent. I just got back from doing a clinic last night; I was teaching last night down in Sacramento, so i had a busy day yesterday, and I’m just kind of doing paperwork today.

Q: So, you guys are pretty scattered out!? 
AW: Yeah, John lives in San Wanabispo [?}, Billy’s in LA, Chris is in New York, Steve’s in London, and Igor lives in Boston.

Q: How has reaction been to the album as far as the critics, and the fans? 
AW: Really good. I’ve seen a lot of positive things towards it. They’re saying it’s a mixture of pretty much what we tried to do, and what it seems it’s coming across to the people like that, is get some elements of the 70s, the 80s, and the 90s all rolled in to one package there. And it’s kind of like a modern version of all that material. So there’s elements and sounds from the 70s and 80s, but played much more in a 90s style.

Q: Yeah, that’s what I gathered. I hear a lot of ‘classic’ Yes in there on the guitars, vocals, and harmonies and that. You guys are doing a lot more of this album in the live show as opposed to the last album, correct? 
AW: Yes, we started piling up a list for playing on stage, and because of the nature in which we made this album , we actually played it live in rehearsals and quite a lot of classics while we went and recorded. So again in rehearsals for touring, a lot of that material sounded really good straight away. We do like 6 numbers.

Q: You guys did this album with Bruce Fairbairn, and from what I understand of him he did a lot of Hard-Rock stuff like Aerosmith, Loverboy – a lot of bands I wouldn’t associate Yes with. 
AW: Right, but he was a big fan of the band; he also understood the band’s music, and he always wanted to get his teeth around something that was challenging like this – a more progressive type band. I think it was a perfect relationship we had, and unfortunately, as you know – it never worked out in the end for him.

Q: How much of the end did you guys have to finish after he passed away?
AW: They were about 3 tracks in to mixing when he had his heart-attack. But the engineer, who we had been working with [Mike], he actually had been working with Bruce for about 10 years, and kind of knew how he wanted the album to sound; so basically he wanted to carry on and finish the project.

Q: How do the songs come together with you guys, because I notice that you share the songwriting credits. What can you tell as far as the ‘breakdown’ of who brings in the melodies, or the lyrics – that sort of thing!?? 
AW: We all throw things ‘in to the pot’, as it were. I usually come up with some keyboard chords, and rhythms and stuff like that, and John comes up with melodies and lyrics, and Chris….People have different kind of things they bring to the table all the time, or if somebody brings something to the table – another guy will change it in kind of another direction. So, it’s very amicable.

Q: Billy and Igor haven’t been with the band for very long, have they? 
AW: No. Actually, Billy’s been around the band for about 10 years, but he’s been a full member for about 3 or 4 years now.

Q: Is Igor a full member? 
AW: No. He’s still a sideman, but he’s contributed a lot like in the writing on the last album, and changing chords and stuff like that. So, he’s on a good salary – let’s put it that way!

Q: How does it work now that you have 2 guitarists in the band, and how does that work out on stage?
AW: Pretty good actually. Steve Howe is going to be Steve Howe, and he has a very definite style. And some of the material we do from the 80s Billy kind of latched in to that a lot more – some of the stuff that Trevor Rabin did, stuff like that, and Billy comes to the table with his own material too. He comes from more of an 80s standpoint, where as Steve is probably more 70s.

Q: Is there a comparison between Billy and Trevor? 
AW: No, they’re very good friends actually. It’s not a case of that. It’s that Billy feels he’s good at emanating what Trevor did in some of that music, and no there’s no comparisons drawn between them.

Q: You guys got a lot of different sounds on this album with all the guitars, keyboards, and ‘world instruments’ – what can you tell me about that? 
AW: We actually had a percussioner come in, and played a vast array of world instruments that we wanted to use on certain, and we only used about as half as many as anticipated. We had that kind of ‘world feel’ to some of the drumming and stuff like that. We wanted to get across Caribbean / Afro-American rhythms, but in a progressive kind of way, a progressive style; and that was the idea behind all of that.

Q: What was the atmosphere of the making of the album before Bruce passed away, because it’s a very positive – musically and lyrically, kind of uplifting. !? 
AW: We spent like 6 weeks writing prior to Christmas of ’98, and then we had Christmas off, and then went back in to the studio in February and did a couple of more weeks of rehearsal, and just slammed in to the album. There was a great vibe between everybody. We were all living up in Vancouver, and we’d all get up and go to work every day, and that’s a very good positive way to make an album; as opposed to some albums where everybody lived around the area, and you lived your home life and then had to go in to the studio every day. So, when you’re living away from home it tends to go faster.

Q: Was there a ‘happy’ feel about the album as the recording went on? 
AW: Yes there was. There was a very uplifting kind of sense. Bruce took the helm, and he was very good sitting behind the board, making decisions, where as opposed we might have been scratching our heads for a while, Bruce would say “no no -that definitely doesn’t work, you should do this in this direction…” And he had good control over what was going on in the studio. It lead to us being more positive while we were in there because we thought “well – that’s outside ideas listening to it, we should take that advice and just take that path”.

Q: What stands out as far as favorite tracks on the album, and what’s receiving the most attention? 
AW: Different people like different things. At the moment they’re playing “Home World” a lot, and you know, I like tracks like the Caribbean tracks. For me it’s very hard to say because to me they’re all so different because you kind of live every track, ya know. I have a kind of feeling for all the tracks myself. Home World to me is a stand-out track, it’s a combination of the 70s and what the band used to be and a very modern way that we played it in the 90s.

Q: I love that, as well as “If Only You Knew”. Like I said, it’s just got a great feel to the whole thing. 
AW: Absolutely. And you know down the line, I think come the end of the year here we’re thinking of doing a version of some of those songs, as well as some classic songs with an orchestra. Those songs are perfect for that sort of thing.

Q: You guys are on a big world tour, is there any chance you’ll be recording for a live album? 
AW: Actually, we did a thing for ‘Direct – TV’, that was playing just before Christmas, that we did at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. And I think down the line we’ll be making some more live recordings and probably another video – as a whole show done properly. I think we’re looking at that right now.

Q: Can we touch a bit on some older albums? 
AW: Sure……..

Q: The Drama album, was that an odd album to make with the line-up changing? 
AW: Yeah, in some senses it was because it was really started by Steve, Chris, and myself. Jon wasn’t involved at that time, and we just went in to rehearsals and we were rehearsing in Munich with the idea to do a new album. In the next studio was Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, and they were fans of the band, and they kept coming in and listening to us, and finally one day Trevor said “I’ve written a song that you guys can do really well”, and then all of a sudden we were playing the song, they’re both kind of in Yes. We had a meeting, and then we went in the studio and recorded. That was another album where a lot of people gave a lot of music from a lot of different areas; it was compiled really by all of us, and we had a great time. I think it’s kind of an underrated album, to tell you the truth. I think it’s one of the band’s better albums.

Q: In the 70s you guys got in to a lot of really lengthy things, big productions like “Tales Of Topographic Oceans” and those type of albums, like “Relayer” – where you had really lengthy tracks and big progressive movements, and you got away from some of the shorter things… 
AW: The norm – yeah. Rebels. ha ha. I think that there was so much musical talent in the band at the time that we wanted to try something new, and try and find a new avenue, and that’s what we came up with – which became known as Yes music, and I don’t think there’s many people that can emulate some of that stuff because it’s pretty difficult to play, some of that it. We just went down our own avenue that way, and created our own style even more.

Q: Did you feel any of it got a bit excessive, because in the late 70s you had the punk thing and that stuff that was kind of rebelling against the establishment bands, like yourselves.!? 
AW:I think this band came from more of a musical kind of “let’s test ourselves out, as long as we’re making something that looks, ya know – the future.” We were more interested in that kind of area.

Q: Was there any stuff recorded after the Drama album, with that line-up, that never got out? 
AW: There’s a few tracks that were done, that are still around actually with Trevor and Geoff on them. I don’t know if they’ll surface, maybe on a compilation album or something.

Q: Is there a lot of stuff in general in the vaults that could be released at a later date? 
AW: There is some live stuff from that period and other periods that haven’t been released yet; but I think right now we’re concentrating on really getting this unit working because it’s playing very well on stage, and everybody feels good about it.

Q: The “90125”, as opposed to the late 70s stuff – that was a more direct, more of a rock album…. 
AW: It was more 80s, it had more of a rock approach even though we had Yes elements in amongst it, and one of our most successful albums of all; and we just happened to hit on the right button with “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” – and it gave that album a lot of sales and a lot of play.

Q: Was it a hard album to follow up? 
AW: Not really, I don’t think, because I thought “Big Generator” had some material that was as good as some of the material on 90125, and it did pretty good. It was just a different album, you know, we’d moved on down the line a couple years and that. But I wouldn’t say it was that hard to follow up, no.

Q: In the late 80s you guys got in to doing other things and that…..
AW: We did Big Generator and then the tour, and then we did the “Union” tour in ’91. That was all of us on stage together.

Q: That was a big production; I guess that’ll never happen again!? 
AW: Well, I don’t know. You never know down the line how many players will come out of the woodwork, and we can do another tour like that. Everybody was very amicable, and got on together, and we just got on with the tour.

Q: Do you still have a lot of contact with former members – like Trevor, Tony Kaye…. 
AW:As a matter of fact I saw Trevor a couple of days ago. I haven’t spoken to Tony for a couple of years, he kind of disappeared for a while. But, yeah – we talk and see each other occasionally.

Q: Is Eddie Offord still around? 
AW:I haven’t seen Eddie for quite a few years; I think it’s been 3 or 4 years since I last saw Eddie. The last thing I heard was he’s in California mixing a few local bands, trying to get local bands off the ground and that.

Q: Do you do a lot of studio work? 
AW:I do some, but when I’m home here in Seattle, I tend to like to spend time with my family. I have a home studio up here, and I can do some writing. I have a lot of friends in bands and the music business around here, but I tend to keep away from doing too many sessions.

Q: Your pre Yes days, working with John Lennon and that, any fond memories? 
AW: Sure. It was a great period of my life, that was a great stepping stone up to playing with a band like Yes. I used to tell people I was so young and naive at that time, I was like 20 – 21 years old and I was going to play with people like that, and doing sessions all around London, and it was ‘passed’ almost before I knew what was happening. And you had to pinch yourself on down the line to let yourself know you’d been part of history like that.

Q: Are guys on-line? 
AW: Yes. In fact I got a call today saying that they’re changing some of our web site names. They’re registering all of our names for our own web sites, because most of the time we go through ‘Notes From The Edge’. They sift through all the information and then give us all the relevant stuff.

Q: Do you go out on the web and explore a lot? 
AW: Yes. I have a son who’s 17 in February and my daughter’s actually on it right now, she’s on looking for a new stereo system for her room. ha ha….

Q: Your proudest moment as a member of Yes from the past? 
AW: Actually one of the main proudest moments is when you really finish an album that you’re really proud of, like some albums that never got as much attention like for instance “Talk” – which was an album that I thought was great, but it didn’t get the attention that some of the old albums did. But, walking out in Madison Square Gardens and playing 7 nights in a row, like we did in the past, and we still got the record there I believe today for consecutive nights. And receiving Grammies; we got a Grammy for 90125 and that was real exciting.

Q: Do you follow much of the music scene these days? 
AW: Yeah, I keep up with it. I don’t tend to run out to clubs to see new bands all the time, but I see enough of the stuff.

Q: Do you follow the progressive scene much? 
AW: Yeah, absolutely!

Q: What do you think of it? 
AW: A lot of bands that were kind of ‘honed’ on what we used to do in the past, and now they’re gone their own journey in the 90s. But I think there’s some great music out there, but there’s so much of it I couldn’t isolate much, but I mean Dream Theater and people like that have been around for a while and obviously did that. I commend it, for people who are trying to do something different.

Q: Favorite drummers – either influences or out there today!? 
AW: You know what, there’s so many people that play so many different ways. I like the Steve Smiths of the world, and Leonard White, and some of the fusion guys I loved a lot, and I things from them within my style. There’s guys in the past that I liked a lot – Andy Newmark, Steve Gadd – all those guys influenced me from a distance in different ways, but there’s a lot of great players around today.

yes bio

yes ladder cover inyes ladder cover in 2

Interview conducted January 2000 by Kevin J.

SWEET – 70s Hard Rock Classics

British band Sweet got their start recording singles by the songwriting team of Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn. This era of pop hits saw the band consisting of Brian Connolly (lead vocals), Andy Scott (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Steve Priest (bass, vocals) and Mick Tucker (drums, vocals) dressed in glam outfits, make-up, etc.. and a number of hits like “Little Willy”, “Wig Wam Bam”, “Teenage Rampage”, “Blockbuster” and “Ballroom Blitz”. The band was a huge success in Great Britain and Europe during that very early ’70s period. With the success of the singles “Little Willy” and “Ballroom Blitz” in North America, the band’s future albums would start seeing regular releases in Canada and the USA, but by then the band was moving away from the pop songs written by Chinn & Chapman, and were writing their own material, which was more hard-rock, even early metal, while retaining the band’s trademark backing vocals.

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I never got in to Sweet beyond the ‘Greatest Hits’ stuff many years ago, though I’d had a few LPs, but in recent years, motivated by a few of their heavier tunes I’ve filled in the gaps in my collection and am enjoying that string of classic Sweet albums from 1974-’80. It’s unfortunate that the band was really forever dumped in that pop and bubble-gum category, as the band really could rock as heavy as any of the biggest hard-rock bands of the decade. Skip past the bands early ‘hits’ and dig deeper in to their albums tracks, there’s some amazing stuff. Also, do yourself a favor and do Not get the North American version of their best known album “Desolation Boulevard” — get the UK or German [or whatever] version – with the proper track listing…or find the 2017 CD box set “The Sensational Sweet”, which covers all the band’s material up until the departure of singer Brian Connolly. There is a smaller 4 disc box that includes the bands Polydor albums (78-82).
Following the band’s break-up in ’82 Sweet splintered in to a few different versions, each featuring 1 or 2 members. Andy Scott kept the band name going in the UK and Europe (originally including Mick Tucker) – this version of Sweet released “Live At The Marquee” (which featured Paul Mario Day, original Iron Maiden singer, as well as keyboard player Phil Lanzon, ex of Grand Prix and soon to be of Uriah Heep). Tucker left the band in ’91, and sadly passed away in 2002. Brian Connolly had his own version of Sweet going in the mid 80s and in to the 90s as well, releasing 1 album “Let’s Go” in ’95. Connolly passed away in early ’97. Bass player Steve Priest formed his own version of Sweet in the US in 2008, originally featuring guitarist Stuart Smith (who’s playing style was influenced by old friend and mentor Ritchie Blackmore), as well as singer Joe Retta. Priest’s Sweet released 1 live album in 2009, and toured throughout North America. Smith & Retta eventually left (Retta was in Smith’s band Heaven & Earth). Priest passed away June 4. Andy Scott’s Sweet remains active in Europe, having released a few albums over the years.
Anyway, I wanted to pick a set of classic Sweet songs, not from the band’s Chinn-Chapman days, but from their own penned material. As a hard-rock band in 70s, perhaps Sweet was the most underrated, and at their peak produced some incredible albums. Let me know what you think…

Set Me Free
The band’s first real album of almost all self-penned tracks [2 Chinn-Chapman, and 1 cover] was 1974’s “Sweet Fanny Adams”, and from this point the band began being a serious hard-rock band, as opposed to ‘bubble-gum’ or simply ‘glam’. “Set Me Free” written by guitarist Andy Scott is an early fast paced metal anthem; inspired by Scott’s liking of the heavy rock approach of Deep Purple (with a familiar sound to Purple’s “Flight Of The Rat”). It pre-dates Maiden, Motorhead, and numerous others that came soon after.

Sweet FA
Another very heavy track from Sweet Fanny Adams. Love the production of this, with Andy Scott’s guitar, the band’s high pitched backing vocals, a few changes in pace with the addition of a synth riff… Mick Tucker was such a heavy drummer, who really was so important to the band’s hard-rock sound.

Fox On The Run
The band’s 2nd North American release (first for Capitol) was a very different LP to what the rest of the world got — which was the actual “Desolation Boulevard” 9 track album, consisting of 5 band songs, 2 Chinn-Chapman tunes, and 2 covers (including The Who’s “My Generation). Canada & the USA got a compilation of new tracks, tracks from Sweet Fanny Adams, and a few singles (most notably “Ballroom Blitz”). Although I prefer the well known single version of “Fox On The Run”, the album version was fairly different – no synths, more guitar, as well as a cool solo, and a less polished production; but still a good album track. Fox On The Run was covered in 2009 by original Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley.

Someone Else Will
A B-side from Desolation Boulevard sessions. A mid tempo heavy rock track, in the vein of “Foxy Lady”. Pretty bold lyric intro, and daring content for the time. Great guitar break; reminiscent of Hendrix.

My favorite Sweet tune, classic keyboard intro, killer lead vocal, big backing vocals. A huge hit, and even if you think this is a bit ‘pop’ – turn it up, it simply rocks. Kinda like ’80s pop-metal years ahead of it’s time; no wonder Def Leppard did a great cover of this in the ’90s. From “Give Us A Wink”, arguably the band’s best album (tho’ on some days I may choose “Off The Record”); the North American version of this LP added Andy Scott’s ballad “Lady Starlight”.

Also from Give Us A Wink – a really heavy album overall, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to just a few tunes from it to put here. But “Cockroach” has that same attitude as Sweet FA and Someone Else Will. Brian Connolly had an amazing ability to really add such an attitude and character to these songs. The guy at his peak during Sweet’s mid 70s run was one-of-a-kind, and so underrated in discussions and lists of great lead singers from the decade. Love Andy Scott’s solos on this track as well; guy was playing ‘metal’ as well as anyone then and after.

Live For Today
Rockin’ classic from “Off The Record”; great lyrics, they even managed to drop the ‘F’-bomb on this – in 1977. This is a great record, lots of kick-ass rock. North American version of this LP added the track “Stairway To The Stars”, and had a slightly different running order.

Windy City
Also from ‘Off The Record’. A heavy riff and big rock tune, also inspired by someone’s Deep Purple / Blackmore influence (note the riff pretty similar to “Woman From Tokyo” on this one). Still – a track that sits comfortably alongside any of the heavy classics from the likes of Purple or Sabbath in the 70s.

Love Is Like Oxygen
From “Level Headed”, this was edited down and was a huge hit single. Love the album version, with the instrumental mid section, classic Sweet – with a fantastic chorus, and with more prog & pop leanings than the band’s heavier rock sound. Unfortunately, I don’t find much on Level Headed that I really love, as the band had started to adapt some of that California acoustic rock bs – so not much in the way of rockers here. Also the last to feature singer Brian Connolly. A shame he’d be gone from the band soon after this, and his health and career would never recover. Sweet would carry on, but their glory days were pretty much over.

Mother Earth
The first album from Sweet as a 3 piece was “Cut Above The Rest”; a solid album. The band continues more in to pop and more keyboards making for a more prog direction on this classic, clocking in at nearly 7 minutes, a bit laid back, a great production. Although Steve Priest and Andy Scott were fine singers (and did a great job on this track), the band really missed that distinctive character & vocal that Brian Connolly brought on some of those later albums. Ronnie James Dio did have talks with the band, but nothing came of it.

Too Much Talking
1980’s “Water’s Edge” (aka “VI” in North America, with different cover art) saw the 3 piece Sweet carry on in to a more pop direction. Not a huge fan of this album (or the next), but it had a few highlights, in particular this one. “Too Much Talking”, with Andy Scott on lead vocals; a cool pop rocker, penned by Sweet touring guitarist Ray McRiner. great little riff, a memorable chorus, and a solid production. Neat piano break that leads in to a brief heavy guitar solo. Piano from Gary Moberley who’d play on a few later Sweet albums, contribute a few songs, and tour with the band. A bit more tidy pop-rock, but the closest thing to the band’s earlier classics like Action. This would’ve made for a better single than the more lightweight “Sixties Man”.

Identity Crisis
The last album by the band, as they return to the basics, a more raw sound – guitar, bass, drums.. no keyboards or big productions. With the band’s slide over the past few albums “Identity Crisis” would only be released in Germany, Mexico and Peru [!] – No UK or North American release at all. The title track (and single) was a strong catchy rock tune, and good vocal from Steve Priest (who handled the majority of the leads after BC left). The band demo’d Russ Ballard’s “Where Do We Go From Here” (anyone have this?) at the time, but chose not to record it for the album! (Russ Ballard covers in the early 80s were highly successful by numerous bands).

Further Reading:
Alan Savage Interviews The Sweet’s Brian Connolly (May 1989)

sweet ad 1sweet article 1sweet article 77sweet article otrsweet article otr adsweet hit parader


KJJ, 06/20

Frehley’s Comet – Second Sighting : Classic 80s Rock

Released in 1988, “Second Sighting” was the follow up to the debut album from former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, titled “Frehley’s Comet” – which was really a band album along with drummer Anton Fig [who left soon after], bassist John Regan, and Tod Howarth – who wrote, sang leads, played guitar & keyboards.  I saw the band in ’87 when they opened for Alice Cooper in Buffalo, NY, still got the ‘Ace Is Back’ tour shirt!

The first album did all-right, and featured the autobiographical anthem & fan favorite “Rock Soldiers” [co-written w/ Chip Taylor, “Wild Thing” writer]. It also featured a few other great tunes in a cover of Russ Ballard’s “Into The Night” and “Calling To You” – a remake [and slightly altered] of 707 ‘s “Megaforce” [previously penned by Howarth & Kevin Russell]. The debut was also co-produced by Ace & Eddie Kramer. Kramer would not be around for the 2nd of album, and Jamie Oldaker would join the band on drums. I picked up a promo copy of Second Sighting soon after it came out, at a shop in Toronto.
Second Sighting is my favorite of the 2 albums. It’s a bit more radio friendly for the time. With Frehley’s Comet being a band, Howarth is credited on 5 songs, and Frehley on 4 [though strangely his name is added to the credits of a covered song, he didn’t write it, but ‘reworked’].

Criticized at the time for having 2 different styles in the band [Howarth – Frehley], I really liked the mix of both of their songs and change of vocals from track to track]. This is a great set of songs with Ace’s anthems “Insane” & “Juvenile Delinquent”, as well as Tod Howarth’s more commercial rock in “Time Ain’t Runnin’ Out” & “New Kind of Lover”, as well as the ballad “It’s Over Now” – that should’ve made for a big hit single, considering the era. There was also a decent cover of Streetheart’s “Dancin’ With Danger”, rocker “Loser In A Fight” – which finally saw the 2 singers trade off lead vocals, and Ace’s closing guitar epic instrumental “The Acorn Is Spinning”. My own favorites here are Insane [co-written with Gene Moore – ], Time Ain’t Runnin’ Out [love the keyboards & the chorus here, would’ve made a great single], and Juvenile Delinquent.

ace ss cd 3 band pic

Too bad a third album was never done with this line-up, as Howarth left the band after the tour, with the record company wanting the next album to be an all-Ace Frehley album [and it did come out as an AF solo album “Trouble Walking”]. Tod Howarth went on to record a number of solo albums [I interviewed him for a couple of these], and in recent years formed Four By Fate with Jon Regan. Their 2016 album “Relentless” featured a remake of “It’s Over Now”, as well as covers of John Waite’s “These Times Are Hard For Lovers”, and Derringer’s “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo”. Ace Frehley would go on to record several solo albums since, with 2018’s “Spaceman” being one of his best. Second Sighting was reissued on CD by Rock Candy [UK] in 2013, with a lengthy essay featuring an interview with Tod Howarth, and various photos; tho No ‘bonus’ material was added, nor were the lyrics included in the booklet [original LP came with lyrics on the inner sleeve].

*There was also a live EP [“Live +1”] released prior to Second Sighting, and 2019 saw the [US] Record Store Day release of “Live” – an exclusive orange vinyl album consisting of 6 tracks recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in ’87. As I said above – I did interview Tod Howarth way back for a couple of his solo albums; I need to find these [I have them still in the envelope he sent back then].

Cool album from 1988, still enjoy it!
ace tod pic

ace bio 1 ace ad 1  

ace ad 2  ace ad 20001


KJJJ, 06/20

Intelligent Music Project V “Life Motion” Featuring Members of Rainbow, Toto, Asia and River Hounds — Glass Onyon PR

For Immediate Release Intelligent Music Project V “Life Motion” Featuring Members of Rainbow, Toto, Asia and River Hounds Featuring Simon Phillips (Toto /Protocol), Ronnie Romero (Rainbow), John Payne (Asia) and Richard Grisman (River Hounds) In these interesting times, when life puts a forced pause on us, most of all we need to lift our spirits, […]

via Intelligent Music Project V “Life Motion” Featuring Members of Rainbow, Toto, Asia and River Hounds — Glass Onyon PR