My many thanks for all your comments and your good wishes during my recent illness. That bastard bug more or less wiped me out for the best part of three weeks, but i'm feeling much better now thanks very much.
Shall we get on with the music then?
We're all over the globe tonight with entries from the UK, the USA and to start with, Belgium.
WARHEAD were a four piece Heavy/Speed Metal band from Belgium formed in 1983, and signed to the Mausoleum label. They released two albums, "Speedway", in 1985, and "The Day After", in 1986. Musically, they specialised in speed metal in the vein of early RUNNING WILD and LIVING DEATH. The music is wickedly infectious, and the songs barrel along at a fair old pace. Perfect mid-'80's budget production values deliver a ragged guitar tone of doom whilst the singer, (Patrick "The Beast" Van Londerzele, formerly of CROSSFIRE), screams for mercy in what sounds like a huge cave. Awesome stuff! Guitarist Didier "Wall Of Sound" Kapelle went on to join thrashers CYCLONE in the late 1980's, whilst vocalist Patrick "The Beast" Van Londerzele worked with DRAGORLAD, appearing on their "On The Moonless Nights" Demo and their "Incantations" album.
WARHEAD - Speedway (1985) Belgium
Next, a NWoBHM influenced quintet from Brooklyn, New York, ARMED FORCES were originally formed in 1980 and went through the usual phase of having to play covers, in this instance songs by JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN, in order to get the gigs and pay the bills.
By the time the band recorded their debut offering, the 1984 mini LP 'Let There Be Metal', lead guitarist Michael Manne was the only original member of the band. Whilst the band's demos had publications such as Britain's 'Metal Forces' magazine proclaiming the band to be the future of Metal, the actual record once released turned out to be a rather muted affair, with the production shaving too many of the bands rough edges off. By 1985 the band had undergone severe series of line-up changes and, almost overnight, changed their image too, going with a "Road Warrior"/ROGUE MALE/Post-apocalyptic look, much to the horror of some of their strongest supporters, with only Manne and Tetro remaining from the band that recorded the mini album. Joining the revamped line up came vocalist Kevin Burns, guitarist Billy 'Flash' Blakk and drummer Dante 'Madman' Renzi. It was with this line-up that the New Yorkers shortened their name to ARMED FORCE and signed to the Iron Works/Azra label for the release of the 1986 'Heavy Artillery' album, and the octagonal (!) "Heavy Artillery" 7". Although the muted reception to the album caused the band to split soon after, some ex-members went on to further prominence. By 1988 Dante Renzi had linked up with N.R.G. vocalist Les Brown and ex BLACK LACE members Carl and Anthony Fragnito to form DAMN CHEETAH. Renzi's later bands included GREEN DEVIL INDUSTRY and by 2000 the Nu-Metal crew REACH. Tommy Bolan later joined German Heavy Metal outfit WARLOCK.
ARMED FORCE - Heavy Artillery (1986) USA
Short lived Birmingham melodic NWOBHM group SURFACE first demoed in 1985 with a four song tape recorded at UB40's studio. The band hardly gigged, allowing time for drummer Jamie Hawkins to divide his duties with fellow Birmingham act THE STARFIGHTERS. Surface only recorded one record, the live "Race The Night" album, that was eventually released in 1985 through the Killerwatt Records label. Two years later, the album was re-released as "Beneath The Surface", on the JCI label, but by that time the band was disintegrating. Nowadays the original and the repressing are both pretty hard to find, so enjoy this very listenable rip of a very listenable little album that didn't deserve to languish in such obscurity.
SURFACE - Race The Night (1985) UK
The Rochester, New York based act UNCLE SAM enjoyed the majority of their fame thanks to the release of their debut album 'Heaven Or Hollywood' in 1988. Actually, if truth be told, it wasn't so much the record but the album cover that attracted attention to the group formed by guitar playing milkman Larry Miller. The cover depicted a razor handed, naked unidentified female seemingly about to transform a certain part of her anatomy into what's known in the trade as a "shaven haven". The band had formed earlier as Garage Rock act THE ATTICS. When original drummer Tom Shippers left the fold to join IMMACULATE MARY, the band pulled in drummer Glenn 'G. Avery' Brisk and switched titles to UNCLE SAM. The line-up of the group that recorded the first album was completed by vocalist Scott Cessna and bassist David Gentner.
UNCLE SAM grabbed tons of coverage in the likes of 'Kerrang!' with the debut, leading to a European deal with, ironically enough, Razor Records. The first album certainly made an impact, going on to sell over 10,000 copies. Touring saw Ron K. taking the drum role before Jeff Mann made the position more permanent. In April 1989 Cessna was reported to have quit and was replaced on lead vocals by bassist David Gentner. Gentner's brother, Bill Purol, was enlisted to fill his shoes in the four string position. UNCLE SAM's next release was the 7" single 'Whiskey Slick', the B side of which featured a cover version of LINK WRAY's 'Rumble'. Their second album 'Letters From London', was another big success in the UK, and would have charted, but for the fact that their label , Skeller Records, had forgotten to put a bar code on the sleeve, making the sales ineligible for inclusion on the album charts. This was probably the most accomplished of the bands releases combining their Hard Rock, Garage, Metal and Punk influences perfectly. A third album, 'Fourteen Women...Fifteen Days', issued through London based Communique Records, was based upon the exploits of infamous Rochester serial killer Arthur Shawcross, but did not emerge until after the band's demise in 1993. Gentner went on to form THE VEINS, re-recording UNCLE SAM's 'Fallout Shelter' from their last album. No relation to the AOR/Pomp Rock band of the same name who released an album called "America America" in 1985.
UNCLE SAM - Letters From London (1990) USA
Anyway, that's your lot for tonight, hope you enjoy this weeks selection and i'll catch you all back here in approximately seven days or so. Let's be careful out there people! ;)