Sunday, February 22, 2009


Hi again, we're very pleased to bring you another furious four pack of fine vintage rock music for the discerning collector of the obscure & sublime.
This time we span the years 1982 to 1984, and we traverse the globe for classics from the UK, the USA, Finland and Denmark.
Methinks you'll like what's on offer tonight.
To begin with, Danish Heavy Metal band WITCH CROSS were formed in Copenhagen in 1979. Fronted by Alex Savage (aka Alex Nyborg Madsen), a 1982 three song demo was followed up by a 1983 7" single, entitled "Are You There ?", for the Jamara label. A further '83 demo followed before the classic 1984 "Fit For Fight" album, was released through Vision Music and Roadrunner Records. This, their only album was recorded by the engineer of cult HM gems such as Mercyful Fate's "Melissa" and "Don't Break The Oath", Henrik Lund at Easy Sound Recordings. WITCH CROSS notably appeared at the Roskilde festival that year. A further 3 song demo entitled 'Last Train' was cut in 1986, but this was to be the end of the road for Witch Cross. Singer Alex Nyborg Madsen and Mike Wlad later turned up in Danish act HARLOT, who released one album, "Room With A View", in 1989, before Alex became the singer of LED ZEPPELIN JAM. In 1993, "Velvet Revolution", the first album with his new band, SAVAGE AFFAIR, was released.

WITCH CROSS - Fit For Fight (1984) Denmark

To the U.S. of A next, where KAOS were a four piece Heavy Metal outfit from San Diego California formed in 1979. Their only release was to be the full length 1982 "Agent Killers", album on Pop Records. It's a good album full of commercial but raw Heavy Metal with big catchy choruses, and is beginning to pick up a cult following amongst connoisseurs. No relation to the bands of the same name from Texas, New York, Canada or Oakland. Also, not to be confused with the punk bands of that name from Sweden and Ecuador.

KAOS - Agent Killers (1982) USA

Next, from Aberdeen, Scotland, Progressive Hard Rock band PALLAS released a live cassette, recorded in Paisley, entitled "Arrive Alive", just in time to join the Prog Rock revival of the early 80s. The band was formulated in 1974 originally titled RAINBOW, though when ex-DEEP PURPLE guitar maestro RITCHIE BLACKMORE announced the formation of his new act RAINBOW the band opted for a name change to PALLAS. Gigging in the late seventies found PALLAS honing their craft with supports to THIN LIZZY and even THE DAMNED. With the Punk explosion in full swing PALLAS actually veered away from their Prog Rock foundations and became 'Symphonic Punk', with a cassette EP issued as 1978. Fortunately PALLAS shifted their musical aspirations back toward the Prog Rock sound pulling in ex-PRYER guitarist Niall Mattewson. PALLAS debuted proper with "Arrive Alive" in November 1980 on their own Granite Wax Records. Initially this was only released as a limited run of 1000 cassettes. Confusingly this is not the same recording issued in 1982 on vinyl. After the studio sessions of "Arrive Alive" were released once more in 1983, the band gained a major deal with Harvest/EMI that resulted in the debut studio album "The Sentinel" appearing the same year. The album was recorded in Atlanta with producer Eddie Offord and climbed the UK charts to number 41. This cd release includes four bonus tracks.

PALLAS - The Sentinel (1983) UK

Finally, Finnish band RIFF RAFF were an Oulu based Heavy Metal act formed in 1980. The young group got signed by the Poko label after winning a battle of the bands contest that was recorded and released as an LP, ("Heavy Metal & Live"), in late '81. Two 7" singles followed before the band's debut album, "No Law'n'Order" was released in 1982. From the NWOBHM influenced sounds of the first album the band ultimately headed for a harsher sound. Signing with the Mirror Records label, their next album, "Robot Stud", appeared in late '82. The third album, 1983's "Give The Dead Man Some Water", was one of the rawest and loudest Finnish metal releases back in the day, and has Ms. Kaija Koo on backing vocals who became a best selling female pop star in Finland in the early '90s. Vocalist Immu left Riff Raff after the third album and was replaced by Esa Eloranta (later of GARBO) for a short period of time, but eventually the band faded away without any further releases, despite owing new label Amulet Records another LP. Drummer Esa Palosaari continued playing drums in KIRKA and Albert Järvinen's band, and in 1991 he recorded an album with JACKFLASH where he handled the vocals. Bass player Kessler has also played in FAFF-BEY.

RIFF RAFF - Robot Stud (1982) Finland

So that's your lot for this week folks.
Hope you enjoy tonight's selection from yesterday's vaults. Personally, i think i've come up trumps again, but i'm not the type to blow my own trumpet, as i don't have enough vertebrae to perform that particular act.
Thus, if you have any opinions, remembrances, feelings, criticisms or compliments relating to any of tonight's offerings then please feel free to use the comments button to share your thoughts on the matter. Thanks very much to all of you who do just that, week after week, month after month. I may not always reply, but i always read and take note of what you have to say, and try to respond to your suggestions and requests where possible.
Anyway, i'll frigg off now before this turns into "War & Peace".
Have a great week people, be excellent to each other.

Monday, February 16, 2009


You lucky people, i'm really spoiling you tonight with some kick ass classics from Rock's half-remembered past.
As it's late and i'm dog-tired i'll ease up on the half-baked hyperbole and just get on with it, shall i?
Like countless others in the original NWOBHM explosion, ARAGORN were a band who unfortunately fell into obscurity. In 2003, Castle/Sanctuary Records set out to redress that with an expansive 22 song compilation of their old recordings, entitled "Noonday : The Anthology". Containing demos, the unreleased "Hungry For Your Love" EP, and the whole unreleased "The Night Is Burning" album, it was a fine testament to the band's skills. In the early 80's the band released the classic single, "Black Ice", (both sides of which appear), and the good news is that there are several songs here which are just as good, if not better. Check out the likes of "Noonday", "Hellriser", and their very cool cover of GOLDEN EARRING's "Radar Love", for evidence. Aragorn's sound is pretty primitive, but with some classy touches, reminding at times of MAIDEN with Paul Di'Anno or the heavier moments of SAMSON. Within the brash, British Heavy Metal that Aragorn offers, John Hull, the lead guitarist, (who later played with TOUCHED), reminds me of Mantas from VENOM with lots of speedy whammy bar effects and crunchy distortion. The singer, whilst no Bruce Dickinson, is very capable and his style fits the music well, and the rhythm section keep it tight and bash out an impressive bottom end. The production on the CD is a bit raw, but it still has a good, very listenable sound. It's all about the music anyway, and the music is very very fine indeed.

ARAGORN - Noonday : The Anthology (1980-1983) UK

Solothurn based Swiss band KILLER underwent so many line-up changes throughout their career that the last album features no original personnel from the debut effort. Formed in 1979, they debuted in 1981 with two singles followed by the 'LadyKiller' album on the Bellaphon label, but the band ran into controversy due to the graphic nature of the original album cover artwork depicting a blood soaked, semi-naked model sprawled across a bed. Subsequent pressings were issued in an altogether different sleeve. 1982's 'Killer' album found the group sounding more like AC/DC than even compatriots KROKUS could manage. As irony would have it, KILLER would become something of a breeding ground for future KROKUS members as both guitarist Manny Maurer and drummer Dani Crivelli (who had joined KILLER for 1984's 'Stronger Than Ever' release) would both see service with KROKUS, Crivelli joining up in 1987. Maurer also had a hand in HEADHUNTER (as did bassist Beat Kofnehl) during 1985 and Swiss Metal project AIN'T DEAD YET. KILLER replaced guitarist Crown Kocher for 'Stronger Than Ever', bringing in Jan Van Crow in in his place. KILLER's line-up for the ensuing 'Young Blood' album comprised of Van Crow, vocalist Mark B. Lay, bassist Martin Morelli and drummer Ronny Woolf. KILLER also utilised the services of keyboard player Roland Wapf for the 'Young Blood' album.

KILLER - Ladykiller (1981) Switzerland

Scarce imported Australian CD, featuring a remarkable collection of recordings by various ex-members of Welsh proto-metal head bludgeoners BUDGIE. Released in conjunction with "Sabre Dance", the Budgie fan magazine, this CD contains 18 tracks by bands featuring ex-Budgie members, including TREDEGAR (Tony Bourge & Ray Phillips), BOMBSHELL ("Big" John Thomas), FREEZ (Tony Bourge & Ray Phillips), TITUS OATS (Ray Phillips) and SIX TON BUDGIE (Ray Phillips). Covering a lot of ground stylistically, this is a treat for all Budgie fans. Oh, and PERSIAN RISK fans please note, Carl Sentance fronts Tredegar on several Demo tracks on this compilation! Tracks date from 1978-1994.

VARIOUS - EX BUDGIE : Budgie & Beyond (1978-1994) UK

MIRAGE were a traditional Heavy metal band formed in the town of Randers in Denmark in 1982. Debuting in 1984 with the excellently titled "Shave It All Off" 7" on Midas Records, they picked up a lot of positive press from underground fanzines of the time as a result. A three song demo arrived later in the year which brought the band to the attention of Skylight Records who signed the band. The five song "...And The Earth Shall Crumble" Mini LP was released in 1985, and then re-released by Metal Masters the following year with three bonus tracks added. Despite positive reviews and a growing profile, they sadly split up in 1987 without releasing anything further. Through the years the album's reputation continued to grow, as collectors continued to discover the band, resulting in Karthago Records re-releasing the album on cd in remastered and expanded form with new artwork in 2002. This is the version presented here, and it's the one to have, featuring as it does the original album, the earlier 7" and seven bonus tracks. The works! Following Mirage's demise, Jan Buller, Sten Roland and Mogens Laursen were later to be found in the blues rock band THIRD STONE FROM THE SUN. Torben Deen was a member of rock band REALITY BITES in the mid-nineties and is currently found in progressive rock band MOTIVE alongside Mirage singer Mogens Laursen.

MIRAGE - ...And the Earth Shall Crumble (1985) Denmark

There you have it then folks, i think you're gonna agree with me that this is one peach of a selection, if not now, then certainly by the time you've given this little lot the once over.
No need to applaud, send flowers, cheques or any of that stuff, lemmy know what's on your mind in the comments section and i'll be more than happy, so just do that okay? My thanks to those who regularly do just that.
As always, be careful out there, and we'll see you back here for more ass-kickery real soon. Much love to ma homiez. Peace.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Hi again, sorry for the delay in getting this post up here, i've slowly but surely been acquiring a life for myself again recently, and it got in the way of me bringin' you the goods last week.
Don't worry, it's unlikely to happen too often, your flow of obscure hard & heavy goodies will continue unabated.
We cover many bases in tonight's selection, we've got NWOBHM, the final piece of the SOUND BARRIER discography, some vintage Hard Rockin' from the land of the rising sun and a little Hard Rawk spliced with Funk.
Something for everyone? I hope so.
For starters, Hard Rock act GOLDSMITH was created in 1981 in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, by former BITCHES SIN guitarist Perry "Pez" Hodder. Originally a trio, with "Pez" handling lead vocals, Glen Milligan on bass and Mike Henderson on drums, the group subsequently added Pete Adams on second guitar. They debuted with the 1982 "Life Is Killing Me" 7" on Bedlam Records, after strong interest was shown in their four song 1982 demo cassette. The single is now a much sought after item and received the accolade of being single of the week in “Sounds” magazine and a wealth of rave reviews from European Nwobhm Fanzines.
Goldsmith then recorded a 12'' acetate called "You Won't Catch Me", that was planned to be released in 1983, but that never happened and only one copy exists. Goldsmith, while being aligned to heavy metal due to the single and the timing, were more of a heavy rock band. They split in 1984. In 2004 Obscure NWOBHM Releases Records compiled the bands three vintage recording sessions for the "Life Is Killing Me" cd retrospective with all tracks digitally remastered.

GOLDSMITH - Life Is Killing Me (1982-1984) UK

The all black SOUND BARRIER evolved from the demise of the R&B oriented, seven-piece COLOUR in 1979. COLOUR had steadily become more Rock oriented thanks to the recruitment of New Jersey born guitarist Spacey T. However, alongside COLOUR drummer Dave Brown, Spacey formed the Metal band he had always longed for in SOUND BARRIER. The first line-up of the group included bassist Keith Roster in a group that, initially, went for more of a Progressive feel until Roster departed and was replaced with Stanley E., rounding out a line-up fronted by vocalist Bernie K. SOUND BARRIER cut a four track demo with producer Neftali Santiago, which landed them a deal with MCA Records. Despite laudable press for the debut album, 1983's 'Total Control', and valuable support slots to no less than VAN HALEN, sales were not forthcoming and SOUND BARRIER was duly dropped by MCA. Undaunted, retained they kept the momentum going with the independent mini LP "Born To Rock" on Pitbull Records which contained a cover of STEPPENWOLF's "Born To Be Wild". The band was picked up by Metal Blade for their third release "Speed Of Light", by which time Stanley E., had been succeeded by ex-TERRIF bassist Emil Lech Brando. The album included a cover of THIN LIZZY's "Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)". The band fell apart once Italian six string hotshot ALEX MASI got into the band and set about taking control leaving the remaining original members no option but to quit the SOUND BARRIER ship. Soon enough the band evolved into MASI. Both Dave Brown and Bernie K. appeared on the 1987 debut MASI release 'Fire In The Rain'. After a period in late 1986 working with BLACK SHEEP bassist Willie Basse in SPACEY T'S LIBERTY, original SOUND BARRIER guitarist Spacey T briefly joined MOTHER'S FINEST in the early 90's on their initial European touring stint in support of the 'Black Radio Won't Play This Record' album. However, he had been replaced by a keyboard player by the time they returned. Lech turned up in JOSHUA whilst Brown formed TOTAL ECLIPSE with ex-BUSBOYS guitarist Victor Johnson, who had guested on the 'Speed Of Light' album. By 1998 Johnson was a member of SAMMY HAGAR's touring band THE WABORITAS. Spacey T. joined FISHBONE.

SOUND BARRIER - Total Control (1983) USA

Despite the name, HEAVY METAL ARMY, and the way they looked in the album's insert, this late 1970's "metal" band from the land of the rising sun just rocked hard.
The hallmarks of their lone self titled 1981 album were heavy keyboard laden hard rock anthems with some outstanding guitar breaks from Shinki Sugama, and great melodic vocals from John Joseph Patterson. Of course, what else would you expect from a band with such a name? The band formed as a supergroup of sorts, with members coming on board from other big Japanese acts of the 1970's. Members CV's included time spent with Nipponese luminaries such as CARMEN MAKI, MARINER, CONDITION GREEN (who were Japan's answer to LYNYRD SKYNYRD!), CREATION, and MURASAKI (who were a very DEEP PURPLE influenced act). After the band's break up following this sole album, some members would go on to form EASTERN ORBIT in 1981.
EASTERN ORBIT recorded two albums, one studio, "Future Force", and one live, "Journey To Utopia", which included live versions of two songs from the Heavy Metal Army album. Eastern Orbit split in 1983.

HEAVY METAL ARMY - Heavy Metal Army 1 (1981) Japan

For this final album tonight, i borrowed this nicely written review by J. Richter from the excellent although i amended the section marked *.
KID DYNAMITE is another one of those ultra mysterious bands whose story is murky at best. It is known that the band emerged in 1975 when two former members (bassist Dicky Thompson and drummer John King) of the STEVE MILLER BAND decided it was time to strike out on their own. Vocalist Val Garcia and guitarist Michael Mallen were later added and Kid Dynamite was born. Opting for a label who would allow the band total control over their direction, the band signed with Alvin Bennett's Cream Records in late 1975 and began working on their self-titled debut with producer Hal Winn at the helm. "Kid Dynamite" was released in January of 1976, but flagging sales and little label support abruptly killed the band at the conclusion of the year. *Confusingly, Flightstream Records also released an album by Kid Dynamite that same year. Also entitled "Kid Dynamite", this 9 song album had a black & white sleeve featuring a design incorporating boxing gloves, and although it duplicated two songs from the other record, these were different versions.* Very little is known about the members post-split activities, though Michael Mallen is rumoured to be teaching guitar in California. This elusive gem is one that is often discussed in collector circles, but rarely ever recognized as a musically viable effort. I beg to differ. "Kid Dynamite" is a dynamic exercise in genre splicing which works effectively from start to finish. Blending blues, hard rock, soul and funk, the band shows off their musical chops throughout, with a notably scorching effort from Dicky Thompson in particular. Sounding quite similar to Joey Newman's hard soul act, BANDIT, the band merges the groove and conviction of classic funk with the forcefulness of 70's hard rock. The outcome is pretty spectacular and it's a real travesty that Kid Dynamite were merely a blip on the radar. Though this band is undoubtedly anonymous in all respects, some listeners may recognize the track "Uphill Peace of Mind", which was sampled and used by Dr. DRE ("Nuttin' But a G Thang"), and ULTRAMAGNETIC MC's ("Feelin' It"), almost twenty years ago.

KID DYNAMITE - Kid Dynamite (1976) USA

So that's it for another week, hope you find something here to make you smile. Thank you as always for all the comments regarding the last items posted which seemed to go down pretty well with you all.
If yer still Jonesin' for some more Hard obscurities please feel free to peruse my other blog, STILL ALIVE & WELL, which you can locate here.
So until next time, keep the comments flowing please, positive, negative, it doesn't matter, i just wanna know about how you're feeling about what we're trying to do here at New Improved Live & Otherwise Blog, or anything else at all really.
'til next time, live LARGE!