SAMSON – Head On
Lemon / Cherry Red
A real NWoBHM classic here, Samson’s second album and the first to feature vocalist Bruce Bruce, aka Bruce Dickinson.
Samson issued what is widely considered one of the first NWoBHM LPs in Survivors in 1979, with Bruce joining upon its release. So by the time this album was recorded the band were a well rehearsed unit. Guitarist Paul Samson at strong blues influence and that shows here, more so than in most other NWoBHM bands.
The melodic and solid Hard Times opens (also a single) opens, and Take It Like A Man one of many showing why Bruce soon earned the Air Raid Siren moniker. Vice Versa (another single) is another classic, a Samson staple with Paul, Bruce and the band at their best. The four piece (augmented by bassist Chris Aylmer and drummer Thunderstick) are a solid unit, Samson’s solos stand out, as does the songwriting. Thunderburst does bear a resemblance to Iron Maiden’s Ides Of March, being based on an idea Harris and Thunderstick had when the latter was in Maiden.
This album is a classic and essential listening, although far from the heaviest of the genre.
This release offers very little over the Sanctuary release but that has been unavailable for quite some time, nor are they every likely to surpass unless the Samson estate are involved. There are 2 bonus tracks, but the remix of the album remains unreleased.
That said, fantastic album well packaged.
URIAH HEEP Sea Of Light 4.5/5 Spellbinder Live 4/5 Sonic Origami 4/5
Uriah Heep have a length career and are still considered one of the greatest British prog rock bands.
Sadly the (high) strength of early 70s material, a blip on the early 80s and the general arseholery of the music press, the later material tends to get over looked. From the late 80s onwards, Uriah Heep went through a lengthy stable period and produced some damn fine material that not been repeatedly reissued as the 70s material has been, but these 3 albums are just SUPERB listening.
1995’s Sea Of Light, featuring the by then well cemented line up of vocalist Bernie Shaw, bassist Trevor Bolder, keyboard player Phil Lanzon and drummer Lee Kerslake alongside mainstay guitarist Mick Box, is a Classic, with a capitol CLASSIC. Okay it’s a far cry from the operatic prog of the Bryon years but it is just superb British classic hard rock at its best. Opener Against The Odds , after a few keyboard chimes, kicks off with a classic riff, and it’s clear from the outset the strength of Bernier Shaw’s vocals. The highlight of the album is, as it is a highlight of Uriah Heep’s 43+ year career, Time Of Revelation. This track alone makes the album worth buying, and as a nod to the operatic vocals, keyboards and searing guitar of Return To Fantasy. Nuff Said. Seriously, a fucking good album issued in a time of dis-interests. Fuck them, buy it. Ok it’s not 1973, but in a modern way it’s bloody good. This album has underrated strength at every angle.
1996’s Spellbinder is a live set that was sadly low key at the time but showcases both some classic material and the strength of band. The material is mixed new and old, and showcases not only the band strength but strength and conviction of delivery. Vocalist Bernie Shaw is both strong/powerful and operatic and the band and recording all are gripping. There is many an early 70s classic here, this should have been, by rights, a high profile double release.
Originally released in 1998, Sonic Origami is another great UH release, albeit with a more modern sounds. That said it is still a solid and classic sounding opus. A time where the band were on form, but the UK press were not, and that affected both band and fans. The band are on form and there are many good songs here, melodic and powerful. While few tracks really stand out, it is a solid, strong and powerful set.
The reissues here are well deserved as the albums are strong and not been available for while. All come with bonus tracks and sleevenotes, top packages.
SIR REG – 21st Century Loser
Hoptown Records (Released 29th April)
Not a band I have come across before and this is their third studio album. They have toured a lot with the likes of Thin Lizzy, Misfits and more, whilst their Celtic folk meets punk will appeal to fans of the Levellers, Flogging Molly and the Pogues.
This is one heck of a ride with the songs driven along by the wild dervish fiddle playing of Karin Ullvin, which combines well with the bouzouki playing of Mats Lindstrom. Check out opener ‘Emigrate’ for proof and vocalist Brendan Sheehy has a wonderfully expressive vocal. Songs like this, the Pogues like ‘Raise Your Hand’ and ‘We’ll Rise Again’ I would imagine come into their own when played live. On the title track the band give Green Day a run for their money on how a political song can get its message across and still keep true to the punk sound.
Great fun from start to finish, although maybe one other slower tune may help give the listener a breather during the course of the album. Definitely a band now added to my ‘to see live’ list.
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Power Plays w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)
MILES NIELSEN AND THE RUSTED HEARTS Hands Up (indie)
THE FARGO RAILROAD COMPANY Something In The Water (indie)
THE DARK ELEMENT If I Had A Heart (Frontiers)
LIBERTY LIES A Thousand People (indie)
DIRTY SHIRLEY Here Comes The King (Frontiers)
CARRY THE CROWN Runaway (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 11 November (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 WORK OF ART Exhibits (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SIGN X Like A Fire (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 JACK BROADBENT Moonshine Blue (Creature Records)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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