Greetings, and a happy new year to all of you who continue to visit this electronic ruin.
I'd like to take the opportunity to wish you all good health and happiness in 2013.
Oh, and kick arse rawk'n'roll too!
Tonight i'm truly pleased to present an international batch of vintage Hard sounds to gladden the heart and stimulate the ole saliva glands as well.
Let's get 2013's started without further ado, beginning with...
Japanese Heavy Metal/Hard Rock quartet BOW WOW were formed in Tokyo during 1975.
The group first performed live in July 1976, making a bold statement with an impromptu gig on a flatbed truck outside of a film studio in Tokyo before debuting with the "Bow Wow (Hoero!)", album in December of 1976 on the Invitation label.
The band's inaugural line-up comprised vocalist/guitarist Kyoji Yamamoto, vocalist/guitarist Mitsuhiro Saito, bass player Kenji Sano and drummer Toshiri Niimi.
Yamamoto proved himself early on as an accomplished guitarist famed for his hammer-on tapping technique long before Eddie Van Halen.
A great deal of exposure was afforded the band whilst promoting the second album "Signal Fire", when they supported KISS on their 1977 Japanese tour, and then AEROSMITH the year after.
The band's third studio album "Charge" arrived in December 1977, with their fourth, "Guarantee", released in 1978.
A June 1978 concert was recorded for the "Super Live", album, which included the band's take on EDDIE COCHRANE's "Summertime Blues", which owed something to BLUE CHEER's version of the song.
Kyoji Yamamoto issued his debut solo effort "Horizons", in 1980, an industrious year for the man as Bow Wow also issued three new albums in quick succession.
"Glorious Road", arrived in February, "Telephone", in September and "Kumikyoku : X Bomber Suite", in November, the latter the soundtrack to an animated TV show, "X Bomber".
"Hard Dog", was then issued by SMS Records in April 1981.
Somehow, in the midst of all this musical activity Kyoji Yamamoto found the time to appear on 1981's HEAVY METAL ARMY album, "1", under the pseudonym of "Mr. X".
Spreading their wings internationally in 1982, Bow Wow played at both the Reading Festival in Britain and the world famous Montreux Jazz Festival.
Capitalising on their European exposure Roadrunner Records then picked up the band's new "Asian Volcano", album, this being the first time the band had an album issued throughout Europe.
Their presence would be felt on the continent still further with the licensed releases of "Warning From Stardust", in September 1982 on Heavy Metal Records and "Holy Expedition-Live", through Roadrunner in July 1983.
Both of these records drew significant media praise, initiating considerable fan support in the Western world.
A further Yamamoto solo album "Electric Circus", featuring LAST FLIGHT vocalist Rob Hawthorne, found the Yamamoto's reputation growing in the West as interest in Japanese Metal began to spread.
Bow Wow then morphed into VOW WOW, changing the name in order to avoid confusion with Malcolm McLaren's Pop act BOW WOW WOW, as original vocalist Mitsuhiro Saito lost his position.
The band was brought back up to strength by former NOIZ vocalist Genki Hitomi plus SENSE OF WONDER and MOONDANCER keyboard player Rei Atsumi for June 1984's "Beat Of Metal Motion", album.
This record showed a more commercial side to the band's sound, a trend that (sadly) continued throughout their time as Vow Wow.
During their period as Vow Wow the band released 7 albums: 1984's "Beat Of Metal Motion", 1985's "Cyclone", January 1986's Tony Platt produced 'III', July 1986's "Vow Wow Live", (titled "Hard Rock Night", in Japan) and 1987's "Vow Wow V", recorded in Ibiza with producer Kit Woolven.
By this time the band had relocated to London, England in order to focus on "breaking" Europe.
Bassist Kenji Sano departed to make way for ex-WHITESNAKE, NATIONAL HEALTH and GARY MOORE bassist Neil Murray.
Various band members somehow also found the time to contribute to TOM GALLEY's "Phenomena II" concept album during this time period.
UK headline dates took place in March 1989, with the London Astoria gig filmed for the concert video "Live In The UK", prior to German concerts in May backing WARLOCK.
Album output continued apace with 1989's "Helter Skelter", produced by Tony Taverner, (titled "Vibe", in Japan with a slightly different track listing).
Murray quit in 1990 following "Helter Skelter", the bassman then joining BLACK SABBATH.
Vow Wow continued, recruiting American bassist Mark Gould, and releasing a new album later that year entitled, "Mountain Top".
"Mountain Top", proved to be a difficult recording for the band, with co-production shared between Nick Griffiths, Brian Christian and Bob Ezrin, and it ended up being the final release by Vow Wow.
Vow Wow split soon after the record's release with Yamamoto creating a new band called WILD FLAG.
Wild Flag released three albums between 1992 and 1994, which were only issued in Japan.
Yamamoto then reverted back to the Bow Wow name for the August 1995 mini-album "Bow Wow #0".
Two months later the full-length "Bow Wow #1", arrived in Japanese stores.
This record was made by a much revised line-up, with Yamamoto being joined by vocalist Tetsuya Horie, second guitarist Hiroshi Yaegashi, bassist Shotaro Mitsuzono and drummer Eiji Mitsuzono.
The band, bolstered by the returning Saito and with Toshihiro Niimi back on drums after a two album stint with LANCE OF THRILL, then put out "Bow Wow #2 (Led By The Sun)", in July 1996.
Slimming the line-up down to a trio of just Saito, Yamamoto and Niimi, they reformed yet again during 1998, testing the waters with an April live mini-album "Still On Fire", through Tears Music.
The subsequent "Back", album, released by East West, included three new songs alongside 7 Bow Wow classics.
Bow Wow's energies were renewed and further releases came quick & fast during this time.
Yamamoto released a new solo album, "Mind Arc", in 1998
"Ancient Dreams", released in July 1999 on the Mars label, was recorded by Yamamoto, Saito, session bassist Daisuke Kitsuwa with Niimi on drums.
For live work the band re-drafted original bassist Kenji Sano, with this line-up captured on "Live Explosion 1999", issued that December.
Sano soon left once again and the band often employed producer Daisuke Kitsuwa to handle studio bass duties.
A new Kyoji Yamamoto solo album, "Requiem", was then released in 2000.
Successive releases in Japan included "Beyond", in 2000, "Another Place", in 2001, "What's Going On?", in 2002, with both "Super Live 2004", and "Era", arriving in 2005.
Yamamoto's solo career picked up pace with "Solo Concert - Time", released as both a double CD and as a DVD in 2006.
A further live Yamamoto DVD, "Solo Concert 21 July 2007", was then issued in 2008, as well as a compilation album called "Healing Collection".
His most recent solo album is 2010's "The Life Album", which was followed by a further solo compilation, "Voyager".
He also is a sometime member of BLACK SYNDROME in a live capacity, and has played with that band off and on for years, when time permits.
Toshiri Niimi also played with a side project between 2000 and 2002 entitled BAD SIX BABIES.
Bow Wow continue to play live in Japan, but have not released a new studio album since 2005's "Era" album.
There have however been 4 live DVD's issued since that time, and a compilation of the band's material between '95 & '05 entitled "The Bow Wow II Decennium"..
In 2011, co-inciding with the 35th anniversary of the band's formation, Polystar Records issued "XXXV ~Thirty Five Years of Maximum H.R.", a 4CD/1DVD Box Set.
Alongside the vintage material in the box set, there were three new songs specially recorded for the set.
BOW WOW - Signal Fire (1977) Japan
Workington’s NWOBHM heroes HAMMERHEAD released one cult classic single, "Time Will Tell" b/w "Lonely Man" , in 1981, before being consigned to obscurity.The band initially formed in 1977, with it's members having cut their teeth in obscure acts like JUDAS, BITTER HARVEST & DESTROYER.
A five song 1978 demo was quickly recorded, with the band then expanding from a trio to a quartet in 1979.
The "Time Will Tell" single was issued in 1981, and garnered glowing reviews and cemented the band's future reputation.
In 1984 the band had their song "Lochinvar", (inspired by the poem by Sir Walter Scott), included on the highly prized NWOBHM compilation LP, "It's Unheard Of".
Throughout the 1980's the band continued to gig and record but no further product was forthcoming.
Members pursued other musical interests, but would still occasionally come back together for the odd Hammerhead gig over the years, but the band made their final studio recordings in 1996.
In 2004 the band resumed activity and began gigging and recording once again.
Disparate studio tracks recorded between 1981 and 1984 and a pair from 1996 were then collated for the long overdue "Will To Survive" compilation album.
There’s a guileless charm and real musical passion across the collection that makes you glad that so much time was spent piecing it together.
The 9 songs of "Will To Survive" initially saw the light of day on compact disc only, released by the Sonic Age/Cult Metal Classics label in 2005.
Guitarist Buzz Elliot was not 100% satisfied with the way the sleeve of the CD version turned out:
"It is quite a good design, but maybe not the right style for Hammerhead, it reminds me of Marvel Comics style of drawing.
I think it was loosely based around the lyrics of the title track 'Will To Survive', the song has a few lines within it referring to the aftermath of a nuclear war, hence the warrior emerging from a post apocalyptic scene.
Sonic Age were supposed to let me see the design before it was produced, but in their haste and eagerness to get the project off the ground I didn't get to see it until it was too late to make any changes.
The sleeves had already been printed, so what the hell, at least we're finally getting some kind of recognition for our work."
The 2011 High Roller Records vinyl re-release featured an exclusive bonus track, a recent live rendition of "Mushrooms & Beer", and different cover artwork.
It was released in a limited edition of 500 copies only, on heavyweight orange vinyl, and is now out-of-print.
In between, a second Hammerhead album, "Headonizm", was released in 2006.
It was comprised of songs written and performed by the band in the '70's & '80's, but not recorded until 2005.
HAMMERHEAD - Will To Survive (1981-1996) UK
SIX TON BUDGIE was formed from the ashes of the post BUDGIE outfit TREDEGAR, by original Budgie & Tredegar drummer Ray Phillips, who also played with WOMAN, FREEZ & TITUS OATS in the late '70's.Six Ton Budgie was actually the original 1967 name that the first Budgie line-up went under, before eventually shortening it in the early '70's.
The new Six Ton Budgie was formed in Gwent in Wales in 1992 with fellow ex-Tredegar members Jason Marsh on Bass and Sam Lees on Guitar.
Following initial recording sessions, Phillips' son Justin was installed on guitar, and another ex-TREDEGAR member, and former PHANTASM bassist, Tom Prince came into the fold too.
The band's first album, 1995's "Unplucked!", featured 15 songs, including five re-recorded classic BUDGIE numbers.
As well as handling drums and vocals, Phillips senior also contributed Guitar and Bass parts on some of the songs.
Some recordings featuring the band's original personnel were also included on the disc, which was released through the band's own Axel Records in conjunction with the NWoBHM specialist label Vinyl Tap Records.
This album was followed in 1996 by their second, "Ornithology Volume 1", again released through Vinyl Tap/Axel.
With both of the discs long out of print, Phillips self-released a further Six Ton Budgie album in 2007 entitled "A Bird's Eye View".
This disc compiled tracks from the two original albums in remastered and remixed form, with additional instrumentation added, and also included four previously unreleased songs.
This brought the curtain down on Six Ton Budgie, as the band had folded before the record's release.
In 2010, as work neared completion on his debut solo album "Revelations", Ray returned to the stage with the RAY PHILLIPS BAND, a new band also featuring his former Tredegar and Six Ton Budgie band mate Tom Prince on Bass alongside hotshot young Guitarist Adam Healey.
The band are now gigging extensively, and Ray's solo record, on which he plays the majority of the instruments himself, was released recently.
SIX TON BUDGIE - Unplucked! (1995) UK
DAMIEN were a four piece Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band formed by former RICOCHET bassist Neil "The Finn" Finnegan, who had opted to stay behind in Germany after the NWoBHM band toured there in 1980.Settling in Frankfurt, he set about forming a new act, recruiting two other ex-pat Brits, vocalist John Cadden and Guitarist Tony Clark, and German Drummer "Tiny" Rudy Matthies.
The band set about gigging locally and writing and rehearsing the songs which they recorded for their 1982 demo tape.
A second demo was then circulated in 1983, and this one grabbed the attention of several record companies.
Securing a four year deal with Steamhammer Records in 1984, the band opted to debut with a Mini LP to be recorded with producer Wolfgang Eicholz at Recordland Studios in Berlin.
However, before the recordings took place, vocalist John Cadden decided to leave the band and was replaced by former DEMOLITION man Mark Wederell.
Wederell and guitarist Tony Clark had known each other for years and had previously played together in SAVAGE.
The five song "Damien" Mini LP (also known as "Words"), was released later in '84, and was greeted with some enthusiasm by press and fans alike.
Clark was the outstanding force on the Mini LP, showing off all over the place with some outstanding lead work.
Contemporary reviews saw him compared favourably with then OZZY OSBOURNE axe man Jake E. Lee.
The band built up a considerable reputation as a live act during this time, and completed the tour in support of the record in style, appearing before a huge crowd at the "Rhein-Main In Concert" Festival.
Mark Wederell was then replaced by former DETROIT singer Andy Pyke (who had provided backing vocals on the Mini LP), during preparations for the recording of a full length album, due to be called "Cold Fingers".
Wererell went on to join the Swiss Metal band MANIAC after his stint in Damien, appearing on their self-titled 1985 LP on Hot Blooded Records.
Unfortunately, despite the Damien album being announced and advertised in the press, the recordings were never to be released.
Damien's record deal was terminated, as sales hadn't matched the label's expectations, and in disarray, the band called it quits.
During 2000 a collection of Damien rarities looked set to surface on the Heavy Rock Records label.
"The Story Of Damien", was set to include rare demos alongside live material featuring Pyke, but sadly that release didn't ultimately materialise either.
Post-Damien, Vocalist Andy Pyke succeeded Marco Paganini in German Hard band VIVA, but eventually returned to the UK in 1986 when this new Viva line-up failed to gel.
He then joined MARSHALL LAW, fronting that band from 1987-1992 and recording 2 albums, an EP and a demo with them during this time.
Marshall Law split in 1992, before again reconvening in 1995, with Pyke reinstated in the vocalist's role.
A live record was followed by three further studio albums before Pyke announced his departure from the band's ranks in 2010.
Pyke also found time in 1997 to provide backing vocals on "Victim Of Changes", the fourth solo album by former JUDAS PRIEST vocalist AL ATKINS.
Drummer "Tiny" Rudy Matthies, found himself playing with original Damien vocalist John Cadden once again, when they both joined the Frankfurt band VANDAL in 1986.
Damien bassist "The Finn" rejoined his former Ricochet band mates for 2 weeks in 2000 and re-recorded their NWoBHM classic "Midas Light" in a Coventry studio, together with some other tracks.
These tracks along with vintage version were made available on CD through the Ricochet website, as the six song "Midas Light" mini-album.
The band members then went their separate ways again.
In 2005 "The Finn" was managing a music festival in Northampton, and with his former band-mates available, Ricochet returned to the stage playing a three song set comprising "Midas Light", "Dreadnought" and "Off The Rails".
In 2010 the Ricochet band members found themselves all living once more around Birmingham, for the first time in 30 years.
After meeting up for a beer it transpired that they all missed the Ricochet times and decided to give it one more throw of the dice.
The revived Ricochet have recorded a new single, "The Blue Eyed Beggar & The Teenage Captain", and are reportedly working on a full length album.
DAMIEN - Damien Mini LP (1984) UK
Pauline Gillan, the younger sister of DEEP PURPLE & GILLAN frontman Ian Gillan, formed the GILLAN/DEAN project with former JERUSALEM and PUSSY singer/bassist Paul Dean in 1983.Signing to Thunderbolt Records, the duo recorded the "Rocks On!" album in a variety of studios including Ian Gillan's own Kingsway Studios, Bath and London, with additional sessions taking place in Mallorca.
The reviewers of the time seemed mystified by the LP, and this combined with Thunderbolt Records poor distribution and promotion to scupper the fledgling act who folded soon after the record's release.
After the Gillan/Dean project bit the dust, Pauline subsequently created PAULINE GILLAN'S NORTHERN DANCER, with ex-AVENUE guitarist Dave Bell, ex AXIS guitarist Dave Little, ex-GLACIER bassist Chris Wing and former AVENUE drummer Keeth Naylor.
The band debuted with a three song self-titled EP on the Stoke based indie label Bullet Records in 1984.
This group eventually became the PAULINE GILLAN BAND, signing to the Powerstation label for the release of a full blown album, "Hearts Of Fire", in 1985.
After long months spent touring the record in the UK & Europe where they built up a reputation as a fine live act, the band finally took time off to write the follow up album.
The new material was much darker than the debut and far harder hitting, and the record company, who had been pushing for a softer pop-rock sound, (and less clothing for Pauline), were anything but pleased.
Following a set of even heavier demos recorded at Fairview Studios with producer John Spence, Powerstation finally dropped the band.
By 1990 Pauline Gillan decided that she'd had enough and exited the group.
The remaining band members persevered as a unit, working with MEAT LOAF vocalist Lorraine Crosby as their new vocalist.
Crosby then departed to join her boyfriend's band EMERSON and was replaced by Jackie Fox.
This line-up recorded an album, but were forced to scrap it because Fox was unwilling to commit to long term touring, and was thus shown the door.
The vocal tracks were then re-recorded by new member Gail Hunter, but the LP still didn't see release as the group eventually fell apart.
Dave Little returned to his native North East but did not pursue music again for many years.
He finally returned to the scene recently with LIES OF SMILES, an excellent new project also featuring his former Pauline Gillan Band band-mate, Keeth Naylor on drums.
PAULINE GILLAN'S NORTHERN DANCER - Pauline Gillan's Northern Dancer EP (1984) UK
FUZZ were a French Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band formed in Marseille in 1979 by the 16 year old Mardirossian brothers (Norbert "Nono" on guitar and Gilles on bass and vocals).Adding Jeannot on drums, they came up with the band name and began rehearsing; mixing cover versions with the original numbers they soon started to write.
The band expanded to become a quartet at this point, but the second guitar slot proved hard to fill initially with a few different players coming and going.
During this time the band began to play live in the Marseille area, honing their craft on the stage in front of growing audiences.
They also managed to aquire a lyricist, with Alain Le Diabat matching his words to the band's music.
With permanent guitarist Ted now completing the band, 1980 saw the band record a few tracks in the studio.
The songs turned out well enough for Les Productions Amicalement Vôtre to offer Fuzz a deal to put out a 7".
The single, comprising "Satan's Fans" and "Renonce Pas!", is issued in 1981, with the band being presented at the Disk '81 expo in Cannes where they were feted by the hip press as a major discovery.
As the toast of the town, the rest of the festival passed in a blur of cocktails, photo shoots and TV interviews.
Heading back to Marseille on a high, the group went back to work and set off on tour.
Their Cannes experience led Fuzz to believe that they were on the verge of a big breakthrough, but despite touring throughout 1982, they were no further forward by the year's end.
In 1983, a disillusioned Fuzz split up, leaving that lone 45 as their only legacy.
But what a record it is, a primitive, scratchy, fuzzed-up, MOTORHEAD-channelling gem, all snotty attitude and clumsy Motor City inspired dynamics.
A triumph of cranked up amphetamine fuelled ambition, unhindered by lofty ideas like finesse or subtlety.
The B-Side is slightly more musical, like a basement Acca Dacca on glue and gallic laissez-faire, with the amps set to induce nose bleeds..
The record's picture sleeve shows the band members in stinky denim and leather looking glazed and lost atop a wrecked silver Rolls Royce.
It's just perfect in it's thrown together style, and tells you exactly what to expect from the record's filthy grooves.
Car-crash Rawk et Roll.
FUZZ - Satan's Fans 7" (1981) France
And finally, SILVERTRAIN were a four piece French Hard Rock crew utilising distinctive weaving melodies, vitriolic guitar leads and high-pitched vocals.
They were formed in Strasbourg, Alsace in 1978, with all the members deciding to adopt Anglicised pseudonyms in order to make the band more appealing to an international audience.
To this end, they also bucked the trend amongst French bands of the era and sang in English, which ultimately may have hurt the bands chances.
This Anglicization caused many collectors to later assume that they were in fact an English band, which explains why their records show up on many NWOBHM wants lists.
Musically the style of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal the band played was often very similar to that being plied by young bands on the other side of the channel.
They released their only album "Which Platform Please?" in 1979 on the Omega Studio Music label.
Amongst collectors, this album is considered by some to be one of the best obscure late 1970’s Hard Rock albums, with it's SCORPIONS/UFO influences combining to great effect.
The band then got some great exposure opening for MOTORHEAD on the European leg of their "Bomber" tour, much impressing Lemmy who introduced them onstage at several dates.
They then followed those dates by heading out on the road once again, this time in support of Antipodean rockers ROSE TATTOO on part of their first European tour.
A further single, the catchy "Keep The Flame" was issued by Omega Studios in 1981, and went on to sell 10,000 copies, but the band would sadly split soon after that.
SILVERTRAIN - Keep The Flame 7" (1981) France
So there y'go, we've spanned the years 1977 to 1996, and stopped in Japan, Germany, the UK and France, surely there's at least one thing amongst tonight's sonic smorgasbord that's gonna blow your mind?I'm pretty confident that that's the case.
If your mind remains resolutely unblown, p'raps you're in the wrong place.
Hope you enjoy 'em, and i look forward to hearing your opinions, remembrances, ill-informed conjecture and barely concealed contempt.
'til next time, adios mi amigos!