Rock Around the World • September, 1976 21
BACK STREET CRAWLER “2nd Street”
The primordial style of Paul Kossoffs guitar always imbued any piece he played with a brooding atmosphere that seeped in and around the music like a fog. “2nd Street” is no different, except for the fact that Koss’s guitar lines on this album were the last he ever recorded. That fact, like it or not, affects the listener’s impressions of what is a very fine work indeed.
Back Street Crawler is less than a year old, yet they’ve already carved out a niche for themselves in the gut of rock; they’ve got the ability to recall the darkly creative presence of Free as well as the power and punch of Bad Co. On “2nd Street”, the band has been immeasureably aided by the inclusion of John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick on keyboards; his rolling organ fills blend ideally with Koss’s guitar to create a sound that doesn’t depend on any one instrument for effect. The band as a whole radiates confidence, an attitude that I found omnipresent when I saw Back Street Crawler demolish a club audience shortly before Koss’s death. To a man, they were firm in their conviction that the second album would be miles ahead of the first, and from the opening drum/organ splash that opens “2nd Street”, you know that they weren’t kidding. This albums cooks, make no mistake about that.
Whereas “The Band Plays On” served to introduce the public to a new band, “2nd Street” serves to validate the inherent talent of that band; Terry Wilson Slesser’s vocals carry just the right mixture of restraint and kick that’s so difficult to maintain, while the rhythm section of Terry Wilson (bass) and Tony Braunagel (drums) prove that straight-ahead rock doesn’t have to be inane to be effective.
The focus of attention, though has to fall on Koss’s guitar playing; after all, it’s his well-placed notes and the tone of those notes that flavors each song. Paul never played to the public’s taste of the moment; like Jeff Beck. he always played to his own inner musings. letting the criticisms fall where they might.
It’s ironic in a way that “The Band Plays On” wasn’t the title for the second BSC album, ‘cuz that’s exactly the spirit in the band at this time. Geoff Whitehorn, Maggie Bell’s guitarist from last summer, has become the new guitarist in the band, and only time will tell what effect he will have on the music. One thing is for sure—Koss’s passing on won’t stop Back Street Crawler from forging ahead; they’re much too talented a band for that. The creative fire that burned within Koss and the band is still there.
According to Paul, Back Street Crawler “. . .still has a lot of alley
ways to discover. . .”; this is not a band that’ll skulk away into the night. “2nd Street” is both a final testament and a prologue—watch out for ’em.
SELECTED CRAWLERS: Selfish Lover; Stop Doing What You’re Doing; Some Kind Of Happy; Just For You.
JON ANDERSON “Olias of Sunhillow” Atlantic SD 18180
It seems ironic that the least instrumentally inclined of the Yes quintet should emerge with the most intriguing solo project, but vocalist Jon Anderson’s technical shortcomings are far overshadowed by his fierce dedication to music. For years now. Anderson has tinkered with a variety of instruments, ranging from keyboards to percussives to the harp, mastering none, but using what he learned to turn his musical ideas into sound for a more personal interpretation.
OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW is the fruit of his labors and while it showcases the ideas and experiments of this talented vocalist, OLIAS offers insights to the Yes group as well. Combining over 100 tracks of instrumentals with the wonders of his voice. Anderson weaves a pretty concept piece around the ichthyoship which. since the advent of Roger Dean, has become Yes’ unofficial logo. Said ship is here dubbed the Moorglade Mover and acts as a kind of ark in a story concerning the characters Olias, Ranyart Qoquao and the four tribes of Sunhillow. The musical backdrop rises and subsides on swells of lush arrangements and monosyllabic chants which are fitted together quite nicely.
It’s not too surprising to note that the individual efforts of Anderson and Chris Squire are the most like the albums of Yes in sound and structure and though a few of the other sole projects were found wanting in different areas. the series of releases was helpful in pinpointing strengths and weaknesses within the band. Jon Anderson’s wealth of talent is a pillar of strength indeed, and bodes well for his musical future and the future of Yes as a whole.
“Shouting And Pointing” Columbia-34236
Here’s an album that should be selling a million. . . . When Ian Hunter left Mott the Hoople, contrary to popular belief, the band remaining did not crumble to ashes. Much to the contrary, Mott (sans the Hoople), with additions of guitarist Ray Major and vocalist extraordinaire Nigel Benjamin, were determined to “Drive On,” testing new ground with their somewhat different sound. Obviously, Nigel Benjamin is not Ian Hunter—nor does he try to be—and that is the point; Mott is not Mott the Hoople, and should not be judged as such.
Mott’s new release, “Shouting and Pointing” is proof of what this band can do. Like a breath of fresh air, the album is musically tighter, lyrically sound, and most important, vividly uplifting. Charisma Plus. . . .
Listen to the title cut, “Shouting and Pointing.” It’s creative, loud, and has all the spirit of ROCK AND ROLL. It’s fresh and stimulating, and definitely out of the basic musical rut that has been formed over the past few years. “Storm”—a powerhouse rocker that slaps you in the face with such force you couldn’t ignore it if you wanted to, sets the pace for Mott’s new approach.
Turn it over. Morgan Fisher’s calm, authorative mastery of keyboards electrifies you with punchy ragtime rock on “Too Short Arms (I Don’t Care).” How can you deny it? Hail Brittania!!
All in all, Ray Major’s guitar work is inventive, cleaner, and more controlled. Overend Watts and his thundering bass lines pounds your bones. Morgan Fisher and his elegant manner; Buffin, the quiet conquerer; and Nigel Benjamin and his rock and roll soul. complete this dynamic British company.
Overcoming the politics of rock and roll. “Shouting and Pointing” is just the beginning of success for the new Mott—for as Nigel aptly puts it, in rock ‘n’ roll . . . “There’s no such thing as growing old. . . .”
“Sad Wings of Destiny” Janus JXS-7019
Judas Priest are living proof that there’ll always be an audience for gut-level rock; the difference with this band, and others like them is the level of talent and creativity that they put into a record. Unlike the metal-eating monster bands that preceded them, Judas Priest have a better grasp of dynamics and tone coloration. Translation—you don’t get your head bashed in when you listen to ’em! They play loud and hard, sure—remember they’re from Birmingham, England, where they drink their tea in a cracked cup. But they’ll move from a steamroller of a cut like “Genocide” into a sensitive number like “Epitaph” without appearing silly.
After a series on the Birming
ham Club circuit, Judas Priest became A Band To Watch in 1974; sporting the twin lead guitars of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, and the powerful voice of Robert Halford (which resembles a compromise among Ian Gillian, Ozzie Osborne and Robert Plant), Judas Priest hit the London club circuit, then a pair of support tours before headlining in England and Scandanavia. Their first album. “Rocka Rolla”, was released in the States. but as Thin Lizzy found out this year. ya gotta show your faces over here on tour to sell an album. Now, “Sad Wings of Destiny” has been released in America; the band sounds better than ever, when compared to their first album. The songs have that doom-laden atmosphere about them that Black Sabbath made famous, but they’re delivered with more flair than Sabbath. Thematically, the songs cover dangerous territory; “Victim of Changes” opens the album with lines reminiscent of vintage Led Zeppelin, and is then followed by things like “The Ripper” (the single in England), “Tyrant” and “Island Of Domination”. It’s heavy-duty going from the first fusilade, but the most potent pieces are balanced by quieter (if just as omnious) numbers; the overall pacing of the album improves as a result.
As already stated, a band like Judas Priest is more difficult to get into when all you’ve got is the record; live, they’re an exciting act. This writer was fortunate to catch them last year as they systematically demolished The Marquee Club in London, whipping the audience into a frenzy that brought the band back for three encores—not a common occurrence in Britain. They sound better to me on “Sad Wings of Destiny” than they did live that night; if they get a shot to tour over here, they’ll do some serious damage to whomever they support. In the meanwhile, pick up on the album; the back cover photos will give you an idea of what they’re like on stage. Best of all, it won’t even cost you thirty pieces of silver to get it.
JUDAS JUMPERS: Tyrant; Victim of Changes; Deceiver; The
Ripper. -JIM KOZLOWSKI-
“Old Loves Die Hard” Capitol ST-11511
Triumvirat was a three-piece German band (they have since added a working-class English vocalist) who objected to the prevailing definition of Krautrock as mechanical (Kraftwerk) or random (Tangerine Dream). To avoid being tarred with the Krautrock brush, they have rather self-consciously embraced various English-isms. Their most obvious influence has been Emerson, Lake and Palmer, because of their similar lineup—Jurgen Fritz commands a robust arsenal of electronic keyboards and a neo-baroque com
position style suggesting Keith Emerson’s—but with the lack of new ELP material for the last two and a half years, who can blame them for the imitation?
In other cases, the dominant impression is the dewey-eyed innocence of Supertramp. New vocalist Barry Palmer does the proverbial still small voice very well. giving the lyrics about poverty and injustice an added pang of conscience. On other numbers, he contributes a Gary Wright hard-pop feel.
The theme of maudlin reflection on a misspent life has been done before as well as it is here. This disc is perhaps a little livelier; it sounds like the band had more fun recording it.
KING RATS: A Day in a Life, The History of Mystery, Panic on Sth Avenue.
ROXY MUSIC “Viva!”
Atco DS 36-139
Those who’ve thrilled to Roxy’s five studio releases will be more than satisfied with the justice done to the originals on “Viva!” The Live Roxy Music Album.
Recorded over a period of two years from three British concerts, the material spans the group’s career, with the notable absence of any songs from “Stranded” constituting the only exception. That absence is a bit conspicuous. however; in light of the fact that “Stranded” contains two of the Roxy classics, “A Song For Europe” and “Mother of Pearl.” Perhaps a two record set would have been more appropriate?
But enough of what might have been? What we do have here are two sides of fine live music, propelled by the solos of guitarist Phil Manzanera, reedman Andy MacKay and keyboardsman/ violinist Edwin Jobson, anchored by the solid drumming of Paul Thompson with a host of bassmen, and given that unique spark of life with Bryan Ferry’s vocals. The surprise inclusion of “Pyjamarama.” a single previously unavailable in the U.S., makes this package all the more attractive. The locomotive grind of “The Bogus Man” is the album’s highlight and the dynamic play of all constituents make “Viva!” strong from start to finish, though I feel that the omission of the “sirens” on “Both Ends Burning” would have been a positive move, as they bring to mind a vision of two cats sitting in a puddle of turpentine. “Viva!” comes through with a strength and consistency that should do well to silence sceptics who’ve felt that Roxy couldn’t pull their zany studio antics on stage. Viva!
Live ones: Bogus Man, If There Were Something, Pyjamarama
––JOHN Bk RBAGE-