Album review: QUARTZ – Quartz/Live Count Dracula

Dissonance Productions

Originally called Bandylegs, Quartz formed in 1974 and would later become associated with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Some absolutely first class metal that the label have been reissuing of late. In fact the band’s third album ‘Against All Odds’, albeit more melodic, is my most played CD by the label.

And long over due they are too, Quartz reissues have been sporadic and hard to come by over the years, rock fans will (or should) love these, if you don’t already have them.

Quartz signed to Jet in 1976 and toured in support to Black Sabbath, and their eponymous debut was released the following year, promoted by the first of several Reading Festival appearances. Produced by Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, the band also featured keyboard player Geoff Nicholls, who would later join Sabbath as a permanent member.

The album opens with ‘Mainline Riders’, which gives more than a nod to Sabbath. It’s doomy, riff laden, but with more melodic vocals. The riff could easily be taken from ‘Sabotage’ or ‘Technical Ecstasy’, but given a more uplifting feel. My contrast ‘Sugar Rain’ is more whimsical, despite the heavy guitar touches.

‘Street Fighting Lady’ is another doomy track with a hint of boogie to the riff; it was released as a single and soon became a live favourite.

There’s a definite feel of Birmingham metal throughout the album, in places a melodic edge, plenty of riffs, and some solid rhythms. The vocals I love, the suit the sound well. I’d forgotten just how good this album is, this album’s now back on the play list.

Recorded in 1979 and released the following year on the Reddingtons label, the live album an honest slab of the band on stage. Plenty of uptempo Sabbath riffery underpins the music, and the opening tracks ‘Street Fighting Lady’ and ‘Good Times’ have a raw rough’n’ready crunchy feel. Some anthemic moments in what sounds like an official bootleg (the kind of sound the NWoBHM loved at the time).

And what really makes the show (what a cracking performance) is the cover of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, which goes down a storm, as does the closer ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ (the Mountain classic, also released as a single by Quartz). The heavy guitars and keyboards work so well here.

No extras, no bonuses, which is a shame, but they do come well packaged and make available again rare and underrated classic albums. If you don’t have these albums on CD now’s the perfect chance, they really are classics and well worth a spin. ****1/2

Review by Joe Geesin

Quartz Line-up -

Mike Taffy Taylor – Vocals
Mick Hopkins – Guitar
Geoff Nicholl – Keyboards
Darek Arnold – Bass
Malcolm Cope – Drums

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