Often associated with the NWoBHM, Quartz were at the melodic end; a bit like Magnum without the pomp. And before splitting in 1983 they produced some fantastic hard rock (and since their reformation too).
The catalogue has been reissued sporadically on CD, and this 1983 album finally gets a release (it’s been previously, I missed it like a bubble in a jacuzzi and would be rare now). In fact the original LP on the midlands based Heavy Metal label and the picture disc are both pretty rare now.
Originally formed in the mid 70s in the Birmingham area (and roots going back further too), the band’s debut was released in 1977, and featured vocalist Mike Taylor, guitarist Mick Hopkins, guitarist/keyboard player Geoff Nicholls, bassist Derek Arnold and drummer Malcom Cope.
Their debut was produced by Tony Iommi, whose band Black Sabbath Nicholls would later join (he died earlier this year, and Mike Taffy Taylor died last year). 1980’s Stand Up And Fight followed, and there was also a well received live album.
Then there’s the cover of Mountain’s Nantucket Sleighride which is really well worth checking out. Performances at Reading and support to some much larger bands of the era failed to ignite the popularity that should have been, and Against All Odds (with vocalist Geoff Bate) would be a very apt title before the initial split.
Before I put this CD on, I was slightly nervous, as I’ve had the LP for 30 years, but not listened to it for a long long time. I always remember the album as being fantastic and was worried I may have rose tinted spectacles, and that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. I was not disappointed at all.
With melodic undertones, there is a hard edge with some fantastic guitar work that is not to be underrated.
Opener Just Another Man kicks off with a crash and the harmonies are just wonderful from the outset. The musicianship is top at every level here, and the next track Madman continues to enthral in the same way.
Too Hard To Handle has a good acoustic intro then a great riff that rocks. Hard Road has some catchy vocals in the chorus, always loved the melody to this one, and Tell Me Why is a chunky rocker with a decent groove.
Beginning to end, it’s a great album; in the same way as Def Leppard’s Pyromania (but it’s nowhere near that commercial), it’s hard to pull out a track, there’s just a feeling and groove across the whole album you want to listen to beginning to end.
No extras, but there probably weren’t any. A lovely package in a digipack with full art and lyrics, but some notes (booklet or otherwise) putting the album in context would be nice.
Worth any money on the music alone. Lovely. ****1/2
Review by Joe Geesin
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