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By Jim Kozlowski
. . . Boy, it's HOT
-- Let's take Hot Happenin's to the beach this month, and see who washes up on shore . . .
Our first specimen is a rare one indeed; members of the Tangerine Dream school of liquid notes are whiling away the hours, occupied with lots of free time now that Edgar Froese has broken his arm and The Dream's summer U.S. tour has been shelved . . . unfortunate, too, 'cuz via their brilliant soundtrack to the movie Sorcerer, Tangerine Dream have bridged once and for all the chasm that has always separated contemporary music and motion pictures . . . although in the last few tears, there has been a more extensive intermingling of the two forms, nevertheless contemporary music has been treated more as a decoration than an integral part of the movie.
Now, with Sorcerer, contemporary music is finally being showcased in a first-run, big budget film.
Ready Steady GO Dept.: the second album from the folks who brought you "Go" last year is in the starting blocks now. Titled Go Too, the album is noteworthy (sorry) in that Stevie Winwood has signed off as lead voice and has been replaced by Jess Roden . . . other Go-ers include Klaux Schulze, Michael Shrieve, Al Di Meiola and Linda Lewis . . .
Over by the sailing dock you'll find the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver finishing up their new album minus Tim Renwick, but with the assistance of ex-Procul Harumer Mike Bragham . . .
The band with the revolving lead guitarist, Thin Lizzy will be headlining one of the three nights at England's famous Reading Festival, reunited with Brian Robertson, the guitarist whose sliced hand has had far-reaching effects on Lizzy's career. The latest story has Robertson back with the band, both in the studio and on tour, while replacement plucker Gary Moore has re-entered the Colosseum fold -- got it? . . . and the beat goes on.
New London band on the club circuit called Metropolis, featuring ex-Pretty Things members . . . sad to hear that Steve Harley disbanded the current edition of Cockney Rebel, but the double live album just released is a more than fitting summation of this band's chops -- as for Steven, well, he's been without a band before; as a matter of fact, he's just been in L.A. cutting some tracks for his next studio album with a number of session players . . . Make Me Smile, Steve . . .
I'm sure you've all seen posters, shirts, buttons, etc. all proudly proclaiming so-and-so's "1977 Summer Tour", thereby differentiating this year's concert from last year's; the thought has occurred that for quite a few successful bands, a bad case of musical deja vu has set in, thus raising the question " Is there a time when a band finds that all it can do is imitate itself?" To answer that question, your fearless scribe went straight to the singer's mouth, so to speak, and got some interesting responses:
Ian Gillan (ex-Deep Purple) -- "There are so many bands, in my opinion, that are in danger of becoming institutionalized, 'cuz they're doing the same thing that they were doin' five years ago . . . (laughs) no, I'm not going to name anybody . . ."
Luther "Ariel Bender" Grosvenor (Widowmaker) -- "I think that there are a few bands that've sold out, simply because they've got nowhere else to go. Obviously, they've come to the end of their imaginary outlook, they can't go any further, so they sell out an' try and repeat themselves."
David Byron (Rough Diamond) -- "It's really up to the individuals in a band to decide 'Can I get to where I want to musically with these guys, or should I go and find four other guys?' That's the important thing."
Geoff Britton (Rough Diamond) -- "See, we're at the head of our generation, 'cuz there's never been any old rock stars yet, unlike the movie business or straight singing like Bing Crosby or that . . . remember that our audience gets older with us, an' they're not going to want to go over to Frank Sinatra or someone like that. I think it all comes down to a question of dignity, really, and artistic creativity. If you've got a million or two million loyal fans per album, an' you're getting off on it, then you've got a duty to them . . ."
Phil Mogg (UFO) -- "In that situation, it becomes a self-destructive thing; you can get away with it for one album, maybe two, an' after that it does begin to wane." . . .
Think about it . . .
Meanwhile, on the shores of experimental notes, the lads from Brand X are back in England, relishing the fruits of a well-received U.S. tour and gigging around Great Britain; they'll be returning to this country in September for a tour and the release of their live album, titled Roadworks . . . just keeping himself busy in the Phil Collins tradition, Brand X keyboardist Robin Lumley has also taken on the chores of producing solo albums from Bill Bruford and Rod Argent . . .
In yet another curious turnaround, Sweet, a band that has lived quite well off the format of power rock all these years, has a tune that's getting large reaction in (wait for it) discos!!!! The ditty, cheekily titled "Funk It Up (David's Song)" was culled from the latest Sweet lp and is intended as a tribute of sorts to David Bowie, whose disco leanings in the last tow years have opened up a new market for power rockers . . .
Speaking of power rockers, UFO is finally, after several albums and years, becoming identified as a major band in its genre, and Phil Mogg (who we've already heard from) is finding himself more and more in demand as a spokesman for the band -- and there's a lot of reasons why people want to know about UFO (admit it now, haven't you always been fascinated by the idea of a UFO?) . . . the band's latest lp, "Lights Out" is their most successful to date, and the single, "Too Hot To Handle", has been just that. A hot album, a hot single, and a four month tour of The States -- what more could a band want? Simple -- they'd like all the members of the band in America for the tour.
Unfortunately, UFO's lead guitarist and one of its songwriters, Michael Schenker, literally disappeared on the eve of UFO's U.S. tour. It was a worried, yet determined Phil Mogg who chatted with me early in August concerning UFO's state of being . . . Phil Mogg: "We're still in the dark as to what happened to Michael (last heard from in early July). The last we heard, he was somewhere in Munich, but nobody's been able to get in touch with him. At this point, realistically, we have to assume he's not going to turn up, an' we've been trying out other players to see what'll happen.
This album (Lights Out) sports a new producer, studio and engineer. Why the changes?
"Well, we did 'No Heavy Petting' at Morgan Studios, an' that was our third album there. It felt as if we had been in there for one long album; recording should be exciting, an' we weren't getting that, so we just thought we'd have a complete change. We're very pleased with how it came out."
Do you think that if a band places too much emphasis on 'making it' in America, that it can prove damaging to the group in the long run?
"Yeah, it doesn't particularly do any good. I mean, there're bands that have been hyped out of existence with press and what not, an' they disappear after six months. It always seems to detract from what the band is laying down musically; I'm glad that UFO has chosen to keep a low profile an' just keep working. Obviously, we want to break America, but it isn't our prime objective." . . .
Well, with those uplifting thoughts, I'll be leaving you for now. You see, the iceman cometh, and if I miss him, I won't have enough energy to mail this in . . .
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