THE WINKING WALNUT
For starters, The legendary N.W.O.B.H.M. band Tyrant were formed in Gloustershire in 1980. Their first recording was to be a six song 1982 demo cassette, "Demo". From the start, Tyrant's music had epic atmosphere, an amazing "street" vibe and one of the best "harsh" singers of all time. 1983 saw the release of their classic private pressing 7" "Hold Back The Lightning". Outstanding epic metal to blow your mind! The band lost both guitarists soon after the single's release & found replacements in the form of Danny Gwilym (later of TOKYO BLADE, SHOGUN & CHINATOWN), and Phil Volkins (later of WRATHCHILD & PERSIAN RISK). This line up recorded a two song 1984 Demo tape, but split up by the years end, with the "two Pete's", vocalist Kelser & drummer Walker forming a new band called CARRERA.
In 2006 Steel Legacy Records put out the full length "Days At The Farm : The Tyrant Anthology" album. It contained both the tracks from the mythical 7" plus the six 1981 demo songs. It was only released on vinyl in a limited numbered edition of 500 copies and is now long gone. Here is the album with the 1984 demo songs as an added bonus. Hail to the TYRANT!!!
TYRANT - Days At The Farm : The Tyrant Anthology (1982-84) UK
What's next then? A new expanded 3rd issue of the bootlegged "Rebound" studio album by the almighty Black Oak Arkansas, that's what. This adds 5 extra tracks to the original Goldwax Records release, and boasts better sound too. I don't think this is an official release, but it very likely is your only chance to hear many of these songs from the '70's & '80's. Here's what guitarist Rickie Lee Reynolds had to say about the earlier second issue of the album in 1992 on Goldwax Records : "Rebound on Goldwax Records is back out and I quote,"Digitally Re-Mastered" with a new cover with Jim on it. Rebound was a stolen product from us which we never did and still do make nothing off of. It was stopped the 1st time by the FBI,and will soon be stopped again. A lot of these songs were written by me, and are really pretty good tunes. If you are a collector of BOA stuff,you may want to try to get a copy before it's pulled off of the market for the SECOND TIME!!, but it IS a bootleg, and we will get nothing for it. I love a bunch of those tracks (and not just because they're like my children), and hate to see them done like this, but this most likely will be your only chance to hear stuff like "Nobody Wins In A War", and I can't blame anyone for pickin' it up while you can. It won't be around for long, though. Use your own judgement armed with the facts I've given you."
BLACK OAK ARKANSAS - Rebound Expanded ('73-'07) USA
Next, formerly known as SLAYER, this San Antonio, Texas based band prefixed their title with the name of their home city when confusion arose with the more prominent Los Angeles Thrashers of the same name. Famously, both SLAYERs - the Los Angeles version and the San Antonio version, shared a stage in 1985 at the Cameo Theater in San Antonio with support from MILITIA. Guitar players Art Villareal and Bob Catlin were both previously members of BLITZKRIEG. Art Villareal, who played on their debut, this one, the 'Prepare To Die' mini-album, released through Rainforest Records in 1983, was replaced by Ron Jarzombek who recorded the 'Go For The Throat' LP in 1984. At this juncture the shadow of their more famous Californian counterparts loomed large and a consideration was made to re-brand these recordings under the band billing SCYTHIAN PREY. However, the album finally emerged in 1988 credited to S.A. SLAYER. Following the albums, Jarzombek recorded with studio project the HAPPY KITTIES with his brother Bobby on drums. A mostly instrumental demo had been recorded with Jason McMaster of WATCHTOWER guesting on 'Hammer At The Ready' and Mike Grotheus of WINTERKAT on 'In Mind'. Bassist Don Van Stavern forged the MARK REALE PROJECT with RIOT guitarist Mark Reale. This project then became known as NARITA, as vocalist Steve Cooper and drummer Dave McClain also became involved. Von Stavern would join RIOT once Reale had resurrected his cult outfit. The bassist's later works included SUITE 16, including drummer Bobby Jarzombek and ex-WINTERKAT and DIRTY WATER guitarist Jonathan Grell issuing an album, and JACK RUBY, again alongside Bobby Jarzombek and his erstwhile S.A. SLAYER colleague Art Villareal on guitar, for a three song demo. Former guitarist Art Villareal forged KARION, recruiting original SLAYER vocalist Chris Kronk, bassist Pete Perez, and drummer Frank Ferreira. KARION folded in 1986. Following on from his NARITA tenure, Cooper briefly joined East Coast Progressive Metal outfit EXPLORER (a.k.a. EXXPLORER), post the 'Symphonies Of Steel' album. He also sang on the second JUGGERNAUT album, 'Trouble Within.' Dave McClain's subsequent NARITA stops would be CATALEPSY, the TURBIN band of ex-ANTHAX singer NEIL TURBIN, MURDERCAR and MINISTERS OF ANGER in alliance with a pre-DAMN THE MACHINE's Dave Clemmons, the latter act featuring on the 'Metal Massacre 'XI' compilation album. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek reared his head again in 1997 with the SPASTIK INK album 'Ink Complete'. Don Van Stavern turned up in 1992 as one of the instigators behind the Industrial Techno outfit PITBULL DAYCARE. Drummer Dave McClain later journeyed through SACRED REICH and MACHINE HEAD. S.A. SLAYER vocalist Steve Cooper died in the early morning hours of May 14th 2006 at a San Antonio, Texas hospital. A diabetic, Cooper had been in ill health and on kidney dialysis for several years prior to his untimely passing.
S.A. SLAYER - Prepare To Die Mini LP (1983) USA
Noted Manchester Thrash band BLOOD MONEY was rooted in the act WOLFBANE, a unit formed in 1980 and comprising guitarist Gramie Dee and bassist Dale Lee alongside singer Michelle Bibby and drummer Colin Seymoure. The latter would opt out the following year and in March of 1981 fresh sticksman Syd Mercury was enrolled. However, shortly after Bibby decamped and Dee took over lead vocal responsibilities for recording of WOLFBANE's "Bethany's Sin", demo recording. This tape was promoted nationwide with a series of gigs but bad luck befell the band as just before their debut at the prestigious London Marquee club Mercury was taken ill with suspected liver damage. WOLFBANE regrouped in October, inducting a new lead singer in Gary Owen. Mercury was to falter though and Chris Dadson, previously of Hull based ARAGORN, took on the drummer's role. Before long though Dadson disembarked to join SAM THUNDER. Dadson later wound up ensconced in CHATEAUX. Sid Oxton duly took over the reins to complete touring for that year. In 1982 the band undertook touring in mainland Europe but would be then dealt a further blow when Owen bailed out. Mike Osbourne would be drafted as replacement frontman but he too would back out leaving Dee to assume lead vocals once again for a further demo 'Metalyzed'. Pulling in drummer Rick Henshaw during 1983 the band entered a period of song writing and reflection that eventually resulted in a fresh start the following year re-billed as BLOOD MONEY and boasting two new members, ex-GRITTER singer Danny Foxx and drummer J.C. Clark. Much of 1985 would be spent intensively gigging on the 'Bring Out Your Dead' tour. Scoring a deal with the Hull based Ebony Records label BLOOD MONEY supplanted Clark with Brett Avock for recording of the band's debut album, 'Red Raw And Bleeding'.
WOLFBANE - Bethany's Sin Demo (1982) UK
Staying in the UK for now, Tracer were an obscure NWOBHM band formed in 1981. Their only release was the three song "Chanelled Agression" EP, released by Mousehole Records in 1983.
This is another title which is much sought after by collectors but seldom seen, and as such has begun to command a hefty price tag. No relation to the Maryland, USA quintet of the same name who released the 1990 "Screamer In The Night" album.
TRACER - Chanelled Agression EP (1983) UK
Phenomenon were a San Diego based Hard Rock band formed in 1977 by future RATT guitarist Robbin Crosby and bassist Gregory Boaz, a friend since kindergarten. After relocating to Los Angeles they released one record, 1980's self-financed "The Final Word" 7". According to SHAMBLES member Kevin Donaker-Ring, Phenomenon were quite a live act, "Robbin always played a Gibson Flying V, and he'd be wearing platform shoes. The guy was well over six feet tall, and with those shoes below him and the hair on top he was an imposing figure. They played some serious rock 'n' roll and used flame pots. Real pyrotechnics shooting columns of fire fifteen to twenty feet in the air." Bassist Boaz left in 1981 and ended up playing in Punk band TEX & THE HORSEHEADS under the pseudonym/nickname of "Smog Vomit". TEX & THE HORSEHEADS released two studio albums and a live LP, splitting in 1985. Phenomenon carried on playing for a few months after Boaz's departure, before Crosby too jumped ship to join the fledgling RATT as lead guitarist. Crosby succeeded in making the RATT job his own and played on their self-titled Mini LP and the following five albums, throughout their glory years, eventually leaving due to drug problems in 1991. Gregory Boaz is now a respected blues musician and has in the past played with CANDYE KANE, JOHN "JUKE" LOGAN, VICKI HILL, THE CHILL ACES and BRENDA BURNS and is now the bassist in DAVE ALVIN & THE GUILTY MEN. Sadly, Crosby died after a long battle with A.I.D.S. in June 2002. He was just 42 years old.
PHENOMENON - The Final Word 7" (1980) UK
Finally, Jodey were a shortlived NWOBHM band who released one single in 1979. The 45 in question, "The Rocker", on the Ellie Jay label, is now one of the rarest & most sought after NWOBHM items in collector circles. A recent auction saw a copy go for £150! Not bad for a band which had formed as a bit of fun whilst it's members were at college together. After Jodey split in 1980, guitarist Pat Shayler & bassist John Barr went on to found CHINASTREET, the band would later change it's name to CHINATOWN. In 1981, on Airship Records, Chinatown released the "Short & Sweet" 7" and, later in the year, the "Play It To The Death" album. In 1982 they played at the Reading Festival and had two songs featured on the album culled from the festival performances. Barr, however, had jumped ship in late '81, and joined LAST FLIGHT, appearing as the vocalist on their Heavy Metal Records "Dance To The Music" 7", which would prove to be their only release.
JODEY - The Rocker 7" (1979) UK
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. For now anyway. More soon!