The NWOBHM movement gave us dozens of lesser known bands that are well worth checking out, one worth a special mention is DRAGSTER. The band were active between 1979 and 1983, and during their lifetime they released a lone 7", "Ambitions" in 1981 on the Heavy Metal Records label. Dragster's sound was very much a product of its time, having a very NWOBHM, DIAMOND HEAD meets SAXON flavour. What they lacked in originality, they more than made up for in pure energy. To date, this album, 1999's 19 song "NWOBHM Revisited - the Very Best of Dragster" is the only collection of Dragster material officially available. Hard charging rock/metal anthems with plenty of speed and a surprising amount of melody, exactly what you want blasting from your speakers as you're cruising down the highway with your speedometer in the red. These recordings were culled from a variety of sessions recorded between 1979 and 1983. Grab it with both hands.
DRAGSTER - NWOBHM Revisited : The Best Of Dragster (1979-1983) UK
Next, 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 - Born To Rock Mini LP (1984) USA
A brief review from Sounds magazine now, from 02/08/1980.
"Lady fronted hard rockers CANIS MAJOR have their debut single issued by Gem Records this week. The single features two self penned songs, 'Freeway Rock' b/w 'Fire', and both tracks were produced by ex-WISHBONE ASH and DEEP PURPLE producer Derek Lawrence. The band's first Gem album 'Butterfly Queen' is set for October release."
The "Freeway Rock" 7" failed to set the charts alight, but undeterred, Gem released the eight song "Butterfly Queen" LP late in 1980 to little response. The music itself is well played hard rock/aor with some pomp/prog rock pretensions. Jacquie Bodimead, it has to be said, sounds very different here to her later CHER-like style. Andy Sears replaced Gary Wise just after the LPs release. After the commercial failure of the single & album, the band were dropped by their label and split up in 1981. Singer Jacquie Bodimead would later go on to join SHE, and later GIRLSCHOOL, (as "Jackie" Bodimead). As a member of GIRLSCHOOL Jackie recorded the album "Running Wild", in 1984, and toured heavily with the band for the next two years before moving on. Following her departure from GIRLSCHOOL, Jacquie teamed up again with her brother Tony (also of CANIS MAJOR) in new band HARMONIC 228. Jackie later fronted IF ONLY, appearing on their "Destiny" album, and in 1996 released a solo album entitled "Don't Believe In Love", which featured members of FASTWAY. Canis Major's co-vocalist Andy Sears would join Neo-Prog outfit TWELFTH NIGHT in 1983, recording the albums "Art & Illusion" and "Twelfth Night", with them, before leaving the band in late 1986. He reunited with the reformed TWELFTH NIGHT for a series of dates in 2007, and there are strong rumours that they will record a new album together in 2009.
CANIS MAJOR - Butterfly Queen (1980) UK
Finally, the last piece of an ongoing discography. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire NWOBHM band CHATEAUX had formed originally under the title of STEALER, but switched to CHATEAUX with their first vinyl appearance, a track on the 1982 Ebony Records compilation 'Metal Maniaxe'. The group was promptly signed by Ebony to an album deal and the first release, preceded by the 'Young Blood' single, was recorded with original vocalist and bassist Alec Houston, whilst Andre Baylis contributed drums. Released in 1983, 'Chained And Desperate', also featured session lead vocals by MEDUSA and GRIM REAPER's Steve Grimmett. Both Baylis and Houston were to quit after 'Chained And Desperate's release and were duly replaced by ex-CONFESSOR vocalist / bassist Krys Mason and former WOLFBANE, SAM THUNDER and ARAGORN drummer Chris Dadson. Second album 'Fire Power', also produced by Darryl Johnston, arrived in 1984 with third album 'Highly Strung' delivered in 1985. Mason was to leave in 1986, with the band folding the following year. Sanctuary Records compiled a two disc anthology set entitled 'Fight To The Last!' in 2003.
CHATEAUX - Highly Strung (1985) UK
So that's it for this week, hope there's something here to get yer heads bobbin' or at least set yer toes a-tappin'. Please keep the comments, positive or negative coming, that's what keeps me goin' here, and the response to last week's post was particularly disheartening. It takes ages to rip or source this music, find info on the releases, hunt down art and then post this stuff. It takes a couple of minutes to share your thoughts, recollections or feelings on the subjects at hand, and that gives me a better idea of the stuff you want to see here. Let's get typin' people.
If you need more archive sounds try my other blog here, to get yer extra fix, and we'll meet again here real soon. Until then, toodles!