Esoteric [Release date: 24.11.17]
Regulars on the 70s’ gigging circuit in the UK, Stray harnessed consistently strong and varied repertoire with colourful performances supporting the likes of Black Sabbath and Ten Years After. But they were also signed to indie folk label, Transatlantic. Essentially part two of Esoteric’s ‘Stray Story’, this double album bags up the 1968-birthed London hard rockers brief sojourn in the world of the majors, specifically Dawn Records.
If its 4CD-strong Transatlantic years precursor, ‘All In Your Mind’, established in Steve Gadd and Del Bromham’s writing partnership their band’s near-brinkmanship in mixing psych, hard rock and beat pop to such explosive effect, it also revealed how by 1974 their sound had become more embedded into mainstream US-influenced rock.
‘Fire & Glass’ picks up the torch, yielding three albums in ‘Stand Up And Be Counted’, ‘Houdini’ and ‘Heart of Fire’, reissued here with bonus singles ‘B’ sides, that worked hard for acceptance higher up the ladder of fame and fortune.
All decent forays into the music of the time, they were also crowd-pleasing enough to get the band hired to open for the likes of Rush and Kiss on their earlier tours of Britain. Yet behind the scenes, matters were less happy, with Gadd leaving during the sessions on the first Dawn release; a succession of management issues peaking with the band hiring the notorious Kray Twins’ elder brother to hold the reins (a venue-emptying tactic at best).
And then there was the label (or there wasn’t). Set up by Pye to capitalise on the-then new fad for progressive music, Dawn were by all accounts making a bit of a mess of things according to Bromham, most notably by not getting behind his band. When punk came on the scene, Stray were rounded up with so many of the long-hairs and put to rest.
Fast forward to today, and happily it’s not all doom and gloom: the band is still with us, a cheery Del at the helm, and even if Dawn actually presided over dusk falling on 70s’ Stray, this set does justice to their strengths as writers and entertainers. ***
Review by Peter Muir
Album review (All In Your Mind, The Transatlantic Years 1970-1974)
On Sunday 28 July 2019, David Randall celebrated his 600th show. “Assume The Position” started in June 2007 on UK City Radio before transferring a year later to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The show includes tracks played on the first show plus Upton Blues Festival highlights, new music and the regular features “Live Legends” and “Anniversary Rock” which this week celebrates the Island Records label 60th anniversary.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.
Power Plays w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
BEFORE FIRE Dead Eyes (indie)
SCOTT & MARIA Never Give Up (indie)
CORELEONI Queen Of Hearts (AFM Records)
BERLIN Transcendance (Cleopatra Records)
PHIL CAMPBELL These Old Boots (Nuclear Blast)
PHIL LANZON Blue Mountain (Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK)
Featured Albums w/c 19 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 SOLEIL MOON Warrior (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 ROXY BLUE Roxy Blue (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 DREW HOLCOMB & THE NEIGHBORS Dragons (Magnolia Music/Thirty Tigers)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
JAMES STEVENSON Everything’s Getting Closer To Being Over (2013)
Tweets by Get Ready to ROCK!