Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Howdy mo-fo's, it's that time again after a slightly longer than anticipated break.
My apologies for that, but when the sun shines in this neck o' the woods you've got to take advantage of it.
I might not be receiving any further natural doses of Vitamins C and B12 until 2013, so i have to splash it all over when the opportunity presents itself.
Why am i telling you this?
You don't care.
You just want the music, so let's get to it shall we?
Up first, MANILLA ROAD are an American Heavy Metal band from Wichita, Kansas, founded by Vocalist/Guitarist Mark "The Shark" Shelton in 1977 with high school friends Benny Munkirs, Rick Fisher and brothers Robert and Scott Park.
Their first album "Invasion" was released in 1980 on the band's own label, Roadster Records.
Between this time and their next release the band recorded material for an album to be titled "Dreams Of Eschaton", however these recordings went unreleased until 2002 when the album was finally issued as "Mark Of The Beast".
The next record was "Metal", which began to define the future musical direction of Manilla Road.
Their "classic" sound was solidified with the release of "Crystal Logic" in 1983.
The next five Manilla Road albums (along with a live release, "Roadkill"), featured new drummer Randy Foxe, who replaced Rick Fisher.
Along with "Crystal Logic", the new lineup's first two albums," Open The Gates" and "The Deluge", are generally considered to be the band's classics.
Next album, "Mystification" was released in 1987, and was then followed by "Out Of The Abyss", which was widely criticised at the time for showing a marked Thrash Metal influence.
The band released one more album, 1990's "The Courts Of Chaos", before splitting up.
In 1992 Mark Shelton recorded a new album, "The Circus Maximus" with Aaron Brown and Andrew Coss.
Despite having never been intended as a Manilla Road project, the album was released under this name at the record company's insistence.
At this point Shelton decided to pursue other interests outside the field of music, an absence which would last almost a decade.
Manilla Road reformed in 2001 and released "Atlantis Rising", again with Mark Shelton as the only original member.
On this occasion, however, the sound was much more consistent with the Manilla Road of old.
The albums have continued to come, with "Spiral Castle", released in 2002, "Gates Of Fire", in 2005, and "Voyager" in 2008.
These were followed by the release of an archival live set from 1979, "After Midnight - Live", which was originally recorded for a local radio station.
To mark the release of their newest studio album "Playground Of The Damned", a European tour took place in 2012, with the band playing their first ever UK show on these dates.
In 2007 the German label Solemnity Music released this album, "The Riddle Masters : A Tribute To Manilla Road".
This double-disc release contains songs from 18 international bands including SLOUGH FEG, CRYSTAL VIPER & EMERALD, playing their versions of the Manilla Road classics.

VARIOUS : The Riddle Masters : A Tribute To Manilla Road (2-CD) (2007)

Secondly, Born in Los Angeles, California in 1982, DIVINE RITE were a traditional Heavy Metal quartet formed by guitarist Randy Pevler and drummer Jim Hansen, who had previously played together in a band called THE RABBLE.
After many auditions, the band's original line-up was completed by  Jerome "J.P." Powers on lead vocals and Joe Hall on bass.
Influenced by the likes of JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN, they became a huge draw on the Sunset Strip selling out such venues as the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, The Roxy & the Troubador regularly.
In 1984 Divine Rite released their self financed debut album "First Rite", which became a solid domestic seller.
This led to Divine Rite signing a deal with Greenworld Records who re-released the album later in the year with a different sleeve and two extra songs added.
Greenworld's distribution helped bring the band to the attention of European audiences, with the album selling particularly well in Holland.
However Divine Rite hit problems the following year with Hall and Hansen leaving to pursue other projects.
New blood came in the form of gifted musicians, bassist Robby Pagliari and drummer Donny Sarian, which led the band to add more progressive elements to their sound.
Two albums with this lineup followed, the heavier and more complex "Divine Rite II", and the self explanatory "Divine Rite Live".
Drummer Sarian left the band at the close of 1987 to form MACH 1, to be replaced by Terry Offut.
This line up of Divine Rite stayed together until 1991, but at the end of that year J.P decided to leave.
With Powers gone the remaining three members decided to continue with a new singer, under a new name, NOMAD RAILWAY.
In 1994 with Nomad Railway having split up, guitarist Randy Pevler decided to embark on a solo career.
Since then he has recorded four solo albums, "Back When I Was Sane", "Inside Looking Out", "Chrome", and "Directions", as well as recently releasing an album with his side-project band GLASSHAMMER.

DIVINE RITE - First Rite (1984) USA

KAOS, a Canadian traditional Heavy Metal quintet were formed in 1982 in remote St. John's, Newfoundland, by a young Bavarian emigre, guitarist Rainer "Rhino" Wiechmann.
After hooking up with drummer Sandy Forbes, the fledgling band performed on a CBC TV talent show called "The Fame Game".
After installing CBC voice-over artist Cindy Wiechmann as vocalist, (she soon became Rhino's wife), Kaos released the critically acclaimed "Total Kaos", Mini LP on their own Mole Records label in 1985.
The highlight of the seven song self-released record is the amazing instrumental, "March of the Gremlins", a must-hear for fans of epic '80's riffing.
"Total Kaos", now commands a ridiculous price-tag, with copies changing hands amongst collectors for around $200 in online auctions.
In 1986 the band landed some support slots on HELIX's Canadian tour, bringing Kaos to the attention of larger audiences.
A cassette only Mini album entitled "TV Eye" was released in 1987 following some line up changes within the Kaos ranks.
The band's video, "Summer Of Love", then began to get airplay nationally leading to further gigs opening for acts such as HEADPINS, SASS JORDAN and CHILLIWACK.
This in turn led to more widespread dates playing with international acts like ALICE COOPER, MOTORHEAD and DIO.
After that round of touring ended, the band planned to move to the mainland to be better placed to take advantage of any possible future opportunities.
However, one by one, the other members decided they were unwilling or unable to commit to the move, sadly bringing Kaos to an end.
Undeterred, the Weichmann's moved to London, Ontario and worked in various bar acts for more than a decade, eventually opening their own recording studio.
Following some Helix recording sessions at the Wiechmann's studio in London, both Wiechmann's were invited to become members of Helix.
Their tenure in the veteran Canadian band lasted from 2003 to 2006.
Rainer Wiechmann has also become a respected producer, working with THINE EYES BLEED, BLOOD OF CHRIST and KITTIE.
The Weichmann's now have a new band called NAIL which includes another former member of Kaos in it's line up, drummer Dale Penney.
To date, Nail have released two very impressive full length albums, 2007's "Nail" and 2010's "Power And Greed".
The power of Cindy's awesome voice remains undiminished by the passing years, and Nail's music is an impressively muscular mix of Traditional Metal with a strong Progressive edge.

If you want to know more about the history of Kaos, check out this exhaustively detailed interview with Rhino:

KAOS - TV Eye Mini LP (1987) Canada

DIAMOND CLAW were an all female Heavy Metal quartet formed in Long Beach, California in 1984.
The band was formed in 1984 by vocalist Debra Lynn Billingsley and bassist Mary Jo Godges who was also a radio DJ on Rock N Rhythm 105.5 KNAC at the time.
The line up was completed by guitarist Jenny Thornburg and Pam Reene Galloway on the drums.
After building up a strong local following with their energetic live shows at venues like the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, Diamond Claw were signed to a record deal by Black Jack Records.
The band's lone official release would be the excellent five song "No Hate In Paradise" Mini LP in 1987.
Things did not quite work out the way Diamond Claw had hoped as the small label struggled to distribute the record effectively, and thus band and label parted ways soon after the record's release.
With no new recording contract forthcoming, they self-produced a one-song demo cassette titled "Sex Thing", which was shopped around the labels in 1989.
Unfortunately, no-one snapped the band up, and disappointed, Diamond Claw split up before the year's end.
Singer Debra Lynn Billingsley would later join the jazz/pop band TOKEN ANGEL, releasing the 1996 album "Let It Go".
Bassist Mary Jo Godges later re-appeared as a member of PHANTOM BLUE, appearing on their 1998 "Full Blown" EP.
She is now a film director & a producer at Traipsing Thru Films Ltd.

DIAMOND CLAW - No Hate In Paradise Mini LP (1987) USA

BLACK SHEEP are a relatively unknown cult Hard Rock band from Los Angeles, California, masterminded by vocalist/bassist Willie Basse, which has been a stepping-stone for several big names over the years.
Formed in the early eighties, former OZZ member Basse has been the only constant members over the years.
Among the musicians to be a part of Black Sheep over the years are Slash (GUNS 'n' ROSES, VELVET REVOLVER etc.), Mitch Perry (STEELER, MSG, etc.), Randy Castillo (OZZY OSBOURNE, MOTLEY CRUE, etc) and Kyle Stevens (BANG TANGO).
Their debut album, 1985's "Trouble In The Streets", featured guitar leads from Paul Gilbert (Mr. BIG and RACER X) and Kurt James (STEELER) that complimented Basse's Paul Stanley-ish vocal delivery.
However the album failed commercially, and Basse spent his time engineering, opening a rehearsal studio and founding Rock For Recovery, a "a non-profit prevention/awareness fundraiser for artists troubled by drug & alcohol abuse."
Black Sheep finally made their comeback in 1999 by releasing the four song "Sacrifice" EP on Quicksilver Records.
Basse was joined on the EP by a new line up consisting of drummer James Kottak (SCORPIONS, KINGDOM COME etc.) and Guitarists Brian Conroy and Marshall Harrison.
A new album with this line-up was purportedly in the works, but it has yet to see the light of day.
Now recording under his own name, Willie Basse issued his debut solo album, "The Money Grind" in 2008.
It featured contributions from many guest musicians including contributions from the late Randy Castillo and former HORSE, ATOMIC ROOSTER & SPINAL TAP drummer Ric Parnell.
A new solo record is due soon, to be called "Which Side R/U On?".

BLACK SHEEP - Sacrifice EP (1999) USA

This next rare slab o' vinyl goodness comes to you thanks to the generosity of Nightsblood, who kindly decided to rip and share it with the unworthy worms who populate this place.
Bestow lofty praise upon him and buy him fine ales for his thoughtfulness.
US Traditional Heavy Metal quartet BOOTLEG were formed in Fairfax, Virginia, in the the fall of 1980.
Their sole release was to be their privately pressed 1981 45, which paired "Bitch Chaser" and "Hard Up For Love", recorded at Omega Studios that January.
The record is now pretty sought after by early Metal collectors, expect to pay over $100 for a copy with the cool hand stamped "picture sleeve".
And the music?
Charmingly naive in places, but delivered with chutzpa and the self-belief to carry off the more cliche/corny aspects of the songs and raise them above the ordinary as a result.
Nightsblood puts it better than i, saying that Bootleg, "could have ended up sounding cheesier than a Wisconsin Velveeta factory, but they managed to avoid that fate".
Bootleg continued to play live in the clubs in the Washington/Baltimore region until around the fall of 1984.
Drummer Steve Vollmer and guitarist Allen Jackson then went on to play in another band called PUBLIC ENEMY, and later the pair played together again in several other projects.
In June of 1996 Allen and Steve re-united with their former Bootleg bandmate, singer/guitarist Jade Tavaglione.
Joe "Bassman" Belcher was recruited to replace the unavailable Mike Vogel, holding down the low end and completing the band's line up.
After careful consideration they decided to call the new/old project VOLLMER rather than stick with the old Bootleg moniker.
The band then recorded a full length studio album entitled "Welcome To The Rat Race", which was released in 1998 by Bark Loud Records.
2002 saw Vollmer return with the follow up CD, "Motel 69", a further studio album, bolstered by a live rendition of AC/DC's "Overdose".
The band have continued to play live and record, recently replacing Joe Belcher on bass with Carl "Tommy Gun" Thompson.
Look for Vollmer playing live around the clubs if you live in the Washington DC area, and keep yer peepers peeled for further releases from them.
This particular "Bootleg" is no relation to the band of the same name who released a 1982 single entitled "Dagdrömmar".
That recording was by a Swedish band from Lund.

BOOTLEG - Bitch Chaser/Hard Up For Love 7" (1981) USA

Finally tonight, QUASIMODO were an obscure American Heavy Metal quartet formed in Corpus Christi, Texas in the early 1980's.
Their lone release was the 1984 "Down And Out/You Want It" 7" single, released on the band's own Opus Magnum Records label.
Copies of this one have started turning up in online auctions over the last couple of years, and have created a minor stir amongst collectors of obscure vintage US steel.
Both tracks are of a uniformly high standard, with the band proudly wearing their NWoBHM influences on their sleeves, on both sides of the disc.
Of the two tracks, the A-Side, "Down And Out", just shades it for me, with some ripping guitar work and quality vocals, but "You Want It" is a fine piece of traditional Heaviosity in it's own right.
This one is unlikely to remain "reasonably" priced for long, so if you like what you hear here, you best be prepared to shell out around at least $50 (U.S.) to secure a copy, but some recent auctions have finished closer to the $100 mark.
I'm pretty sure this isn't the same band who put out the 1982 "I Can Imagine" 7", but information on Quasimodo is hard to come by, so if you can clue us in with any background on the group please do.

 QUASIMODO - Down And Out/You Want It 7" (1984)

So there you have it.
I think you'll agree with my (completely impartial) conclusion, that tonight's trove of rare musical treasures was more than worth the slightly-longer-than-usual wait.
If you have two working ears and a heart made of steel, that is.
As always, a brief word of thanks to those of you who regularly fill the comments section with your thoughts, humour, praise and bile.
To those of you who don't stop in there, please do, there's always some info or opinion being blurted out, and your interaction can only help keep that good stuff going.
So get to it, right now.
Take the top off your head so we can gawp at what's going on in there.
In a metaphorical sense of course.
It looks as though the promise of an Indian summer is now well and truly over, so you can expect more of the same here at more-or-less the regular interval of time.
That's 3-4 weeks from now, for those not in the know.
"See" you back here then, brothers and sisters.