Monday, December 31, 2012


Hi folks,
it's the last few hours of 2012 as i type this, another year gone in the blink of an eye.
Here's to all of you who stop by this place, here's to more of the same in 2013.
Up first tonight, many thanks to Anders for hooking me up with a copy of this rare item.
The compilation LP "Bonehead Crunchers Vol. 1" was released early in 2012 on the obscure Belter Records label.
It was a vinyl only release, limited to just 300 numbered copies.
So what do you get for your bucks if you can find a copy?
14 tracks by 14 obscure US bands recorded between 1969 & 1977, released, for the most part, only on rare 7 inchers in very limited quantities.
Musically this is Heavy Psych, Heavy Rock & Proto-Metal, the more unrefined and pounding the better.
Or in the parlance of the Belter Records press release, you can file them all under the catch-all phrase, "Bonehead".
Here's how they put it:
"Welcome to Volume 1 of the primitive but essential world of Bonehead.
14 Fuzz-drenched '70s bone crunchers from the USA at the cusp of Garage, Hard Rock and Proto-Metal.
Loud, unrepentant  and reeking of attitude; these artifacts of cool were uncovered from 45's pressed in minute quantities between 1969 and 1977.
These cuts forge a direct link between Pebbles/Nuggets Garage to the blow out of '76 Punk, circumventing Progressive Rock and Singer/Songwriter putridness.
These slices of pure high energy will blow the top of your head off, ingrain themselves into the remnants of your brain by way of a high octane lobotomy leaving you a blubbering mess insanely smirking at today's musical endeavours."
Hyperbole aside, this is a damned fine comp of sounds from the early years at the Heavy end of the musical spectrum.
Whilst not all the acts are quite as obscure as the press release would have it, (HEAVY CRUISER, LEFT END & TIN HOUSE all released at least one LP each on major labels), the music is every bit as relentless as you'd hope.
The choice of songs is spot on however, it's wall to wall big, dumb, fun, all as fuzzy & Heavy as those vintage tube amps could support.
In fact the compilers have gazumped me on quite a few items i was going to post here, and cherry picked the best sides to boot.
Still i'm not one to bear grudges, especially when the perpetrators have such awesome musical taste.
So, jump in this rickety old sonic time machine called "Bonehead Crunchers", and enjoy the ride.
Incidentally, Volume 2 dropped a couple of months ago, under the title "Bonehead Crushers".
Same label, same limited quantity. If anyone has a rip of it, i'd be much obliged.
Let it all hang out, maaaan.

Various : BONEHEAD CRUNCHERS Vol. 1 (1969-1977) USA

Next, Pauline Gillan, the younger sister of DEEP PURPLE & GILLAN frontman Ian Gillan, formed the GILLAN/DEAN project with former JERUSALEM and PUSSY singer/bassist Paul Dean in 1983.Signing to Thunderbolt Records, the duo recorded the "Rocks On!" album in a variety of studios including Ian Gillan's own Kingsway Studios, Bath and London, with additional sessions taking place in Mallorca.
Recording musicians included KARRIER guitarist Ian 'Wes' Hall, bassist Tony White, keyboard player Paul Hale, drummers Clive Deamer and Kim Brodie plus GILLAN musicians John "Gus" Gustafson and Colin Towns.
A live band intended to support the album with gigging featured Dean, Gillan, bassist Robbie Vincent and ex-AVENUE drummer Keeth Naylor.
An odd album, "Rocks On!" whilst well played and sung, seems to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, with many of the more straight forward Hard Rock songs buried beneath an '80's production sheen more suited to New Wave.
The variety of musicians employed also doesn't help the fledgling act, as they struggle to nail down their sound.
There are also an over abundance of cover versions, which sometimes work well, ("Sunshine Of Your Love", has a clever arrangement featuring some very very nifty slide guitar), and other times fall flat, ("Light My Fire" is a gloomy synth-heavy dirge).
There's also a cheeky romp through Purple's "Black Night", which whilst fun, hardly helped Pauline's chances of stepping out from beneath her older brother's long shadow.
The reviewers of the time seemed similarly mystified by the LP, and this combined with Thunderbolt Records poor distribution and promotion to scupper the fledgling act who folded soon after the record's release.
So whilst an interesting listen, this is probably only for Deep Purple & Gillan completists who absolutely have to hear everything connected to those bands, however tenuous the associations.
Paul Dean gave up being a jobbing musician after GILLAN/DEAN, but kept himself involved in music in a production capacity.
In addition to his production duties, he went on to become a professional golfer for a time, and then a golf coach.
The albums he recorded in the early '70's with Jerusalem & Pussy, (both produced by Ian Gillan), have recently been remastered and re-released by Rockadrome Records.
Now living in Asia, Dean is not a part of the newly reconvened version of Jerusalem who recorded 2009's "Escalator" album.
After the Gillan/Dean project bit the dust, Pauline Gillan subsequently created PAULINE GILLAN'S NORTHERN DANCER, with ex-AVENUE guitarist Dave Bell, ex AXIS guitarist Dave Little, ex-GLACIER bassist Chris Wing and former AVENUE drummer Keeth Naylor.
The band debuted with the "One More Time" EP on the Stoke based indie label Bullet Record before the years end.
This group eventually became the PAULINE GILLAN BAND, signing to the Powerstation label for the release of a full blown album, "Hearts Of Fire", in 1985.
After long months spent touring the record in the UK & Europe where they built up a reputation as a fine live act, the band finally took time off to write the follow up album.
The new material was much darker than the debut and far harder hitting.
The record company, who had been pushing for a softer pop-rock sound, (and less clothing for Pauline), were anything but pleased.
Following a set of even heavier, far darker demos recorded at Fairview Studios with producer John Spence, Powerstation finally dropped the band.
By 1990 Pauline Gillan decided that she'd had enough and exited the group.
The remaining band members persevered as a unit, working with MEAT LOAF vocalist Lorraine Crosby as their new vocalist.
Crosby then departed to join her boyfriend's band EMERSON and was replaced by Jackie Fox.
This line-up recorded an album, but were forced to scrap it because Fox was unwilling to commit to long term touring, and was thus shown the door.
The vocal tracks were then re-recorded by new member Gail Hunter, but the LP still didn't see release as the group eventually fell apart.
Dave Little returned to his native North East but did not pursue music again for many years.
He finally returned to the scene recently with LIES OF SMILES, an excellent new project also featuring his former Pauline Gillan Band band-mate, Keeth Naylor on drums.

GILLAN/DEAN - Rocks On! (1984) UK

CIRITH UNGOL began with Greg Lindstrom, Robert Garven, Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan, (who later played guitar for ANGRY SAMOANS), playing in their first band TITANIC whilst still in high school.With a desire to play heavier music, the band parted with Galligan and relaunched themselves in 1972 with Neal Beattie on vocals, as Cirith Ungol.
The name came from a place in J.R.R. Tolkein's fantasy novel "Lord Of The Rings", a book the band would return to for lyrical inspiration.
Robert Garven recalls, "In retrospect I wish we had picked something easier to remember because a lot of our trouble has been over our name.
People couldn't pronounce it or remember it, we've been called "Sarah's Uncle" and "Serious Uncool".
It was not until 1980 that they released their first album "Frost And Fire", the band by now featuring the distinctive Tim Baker on vocals.
Musically, their first album was a cross between 1970's Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, with songs written by bassist Greg Lindstrom and drummer Robert Garven.
From 2nd album "King Of The Dead", they played a more Progressive style of Doom infused Heavy Metal with songs primarily written by vocalist Tim Baker.
Album number three, "One Foot In Hell" was issued in 1986, and saw the band play shows in support of the record with bands as diverse as ARMORED SAINT and RATT.
Following their fourth album, the patchy "Paradise Lost", Cirith Ungol split up, due in part to frustrations with their new label Enigma Records and members personal and inter-personal problems.
Founding guitarist Jerry Fogle sadly died from liver failure on August 20, 1998.
Despite their obscurity for most of their time together as a band, Cirith Ungol's reputation has grown immensely in the time since.
The now enjoy a greater degree of respect and influence than they ever did whilst they were active, thanks in part to the internet.
In 2001 a new Cirith Ungol album, the 2-CD "Servants Of Chaos", was released.
The album which contained old previously unreleased demos and songs, was issued by Metal Blade Records.
The album was supported by both Lindstrom and Garven, but not by Tim Baker.
In 2005 a tribute album, "One Foot In Fire" was released by Solemnity Music featuring a host of international bands performing Cirith Ungol cover versions.
Some of the songs were originally recorded for other projects, sometimes years earlier, whilst others were created specifically for the album.
The booklet for the CD contained linernotes written by Cirith Ungol co-founder Robert Garven.
Garven was very impressed by the finished tribute album, saying, "I was blown away by the covers that just came out on the Cirith Ungol tribute album.
I think some of their versions of our songs are better than our originals!"
Greg Lindstrom now plays with a new band called FALCON, who have released two albums to date.
Baker and Garven no longer play music.

VARIOUS ARTISTS - One Foot In Fire : A Tribute To Cirith Ungol (2005) Various

ASHHOLLOW were an unusual quintet formed in Oklahoma in the early 1970's, who mixed Hard Rock grit and Psychedelic melody with a rural Southern Rock feel.Their lone release appears to have been a six song self-titled (bootleg?) CD issued retrospectively by Limited Records in a limited edition of 1000 copies.
According to the scant info in the booklet, the tracks were recorded in 1973 and originally only pressed as an acetate.
At times their music brings to mind early EPITAPH or Muscle Shoals period LYNYRD SKYNYRD with a little WISHBONE ASH mixed in for good measure.
Fellow Okies ASHBURY also come to mind during the quieter passages in their songs, especially in the second track, "Cat's Eye".
The tight and complex jazz-flecked drumming combines beautifully with the taut basswork and subtly psychedelic guitar melodies throughout to give the band's a distinctive sound, that becomes more compulsive with each successive play.
Don't expect wigged out guitar-heavy abandon, this is carefully constructed and artfully melodic stuff, but it does rock, albeit in a slightly woozy late night fashion.
The band appear to have fizzled out by the mid to late '70's, a real pity as they plainly had serious musical chops and songwriting suss aplenty.
Who knows how far they could have gone with the right breaks, a sympathetic producer and a supportive record label.
Gary Bruce returned to playing drums with a new band called ZAZOO in the late '70's.
Zazoo had a song, "Glorify It On The Screen", included on the Various Artists compilation LP, "Oklahoma City Live Vol. 1", released by Backstage Music/Producers Workshop in 1980, but appear not to have released any further music.
Bruce also played on some solo recordings by Bill Kirtley, his former Ashhollow bandmate, in the early '80's.
If you're open-minded in your love of obscure old-school vintage rock music, give Ashhollow a listen.
They're a treat for the ears.
Intriguingly, whilst researching this blurb i found another band called Ashhollow, also from Oklahoma.
Only this 3 piece were formed in 2004 and play grungy Garage Rock, but they have at least one thing in common with their predecessor, a member with the surname Kirtley.
I wonder if this Kirtley is following in the footsteps of his father or uncle, right down to the band name?

ASHHOLLOW - Ashhollow (1973) USA

HAMMER WITCH was a US Heavy Metal band founded in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1985, by Bassist Wayne Abney, Guitarist & Vocalist Frankie Dee, Guitarist George David and Drummer Terry Sims.With enough songs for a complete set of their own music, the band toured the New Orleans area club circuit and occasionally opened for national acts too.
After recording their first demo, (the six song "Demo '86"), the realization set in that the band needed to explore new territories and expand its horizons because their material was proving to be too Heavy for local audiences.
Frankie Dee's former band mate from TRASHED, Bo Topousis had since moved to Ft. Worth, Texas and formed the band IRUN consisting of displaced Louisiana musicians seeking a more liberal metal environment.
Upon seeing the scene, Bo urged his friends in Hammer Witch to "come to the promised land", which they did in late 1986.
When George unexpectedly left Hammer Witch, Bo stepped in as guitarist and brought Irun’s drummer Sal Torneo in to replace Terry.
Topousis left the group in February of ’88 thus beginning the 3 piece format of the band, consisting of Wayne Abney, Frankie Dee, and Sal Torneo.
The band then booked time at Inside Tracks Studios in Denton, Texas with producer Randy Williams, and laid down the tracks which would become their debut on vinyl.
In 1987 the band released the six song Mini LP, "Return To Salem", which perfectly showed off the band's PRIEST, WARLORD & METAL CHURCH influenced sound.
Only 1000 copies of the Mini LP were pressed (on DTA Records), and it was only ever on plain black vinyl, beware the picture disc bootleg!
Buoyed by positive reviews of the record and some airplay too, the band kept up a punishing live schedule over the next few years, until personal differences resulted in the exit of Frankie Dee in late 1989.
Wayne took over vocals and Darrin Kobetich was brought on board as guitar player.
In 1991, they released the cassette only "Legacy Of Pain" album, which saw Hammer Witch go in a totally different direction from the first release.
This heavier more aggressive Groove/Thrash Metal style divided opinion amongst fans, and the badly distributed cassette sold poorly.
Scott Shelby, lead guitar player from GAMMACIDE joined the line up in 1993 and helped fill out the live sound during the last year of the band’s existence.
During this year the band released a final demo, "Carve Your Own Doom", which consisted solely of the title track song.
1994 saw Hammer Witch split.
Darrin and Sal immediately went on to form A MILLION POUNDS with Darrin's brother Adam on vox, guitar and banjo and bassist Chance Lehman.
After 10 years and two recordings this band also called it quits.
Sal then played with THE STINK for some time before joining MAX CADY.
He also plays live with TEXAS METAL ALLIANCE.
Wayne and Scott formed the short-lived NULL & VOID before Wayne put together another band, MOTHER THUMB.
Hammer Witch have recently re-released their "Legacy Of Pain" album on digitally remastered CD for the first time.
You can get a copy through CD Baby.

HAMMER WITCH - Return To Salem Mini LP (1987) USA

This, the lone release by GENEVA is an odd one, it's sought after by many different types of record collector, but doesn't really fit any of the genres you see it associated with.Perhaps because of this, it changes hands for relatively small amounts of money, and copies always seem to be in circulation.
I've seen unscrupulous record dealers list this one as NWOBHM, New Wave, Mod, Punk and Powerpop and at points during the record's playing time you can hear why.
The best comparison i can give that would chime with NWOBHM fans is that they remind me a little of LIGHTNING RAIDERS here and there, so if you have a soft spot for their releases you might enjoy Geneva.
So, to use a phrase of Nightsblood's, this is "borderline NWOBHM" at best, not for the purists, but a decent record nonetheless if you are musically open minded.
I think Geneva (who i could find absolutely no information about), missed a trick by putting "Two Minutes Thirty", on the A-Side as i far prefer the song on the flipside.
With a beefier production, and without the vocalist's Paul Weller impersonations, this track would have fitted the NWOBHM sonic blueprint quite well.
That B-Side, "Geneva Street", would later appear on the retrospective 1999 Various Artists bootleg compilation LP "Powerpearls Volume 4".

GENEVA - Two Minutes Thirty 7" (1980) UK

VOLTZ were an obscure American Heavy Metal quintet from the state of New Mexico.There's very little information to be found about them on the web, but here's what little i did discover about Voltz;
They released just two records, both in 1982, both on the Golddust Records label.
A full length album, "Shock Treatment", and a 7" single, "Rock Stomping Rock'n'Rollers", shared here courtesy of the very generous Nightsblood.
Both discs are as hard to find as the gold dust that their label took it's name from, and as a consequence mucho expensive on the odd occasion when copies do surface for sale.
The music sits somewhere between a couple of different styles; mixing brash US early '80's Hard Rock with a more European NWoBHM influence.
The singer is something of an aquired taste, but i came to quite enjoy his slightly fey delivery after a few spins.
Musically the players are very good with some particularly impressive guitarwork on both tracks, especially the harmony guitar part leading into the solo on the A-Side.
Because of the low-budget nature of the recordings and production there's a certain ramshackle charm & naivety present in the overall sound that's very evocative of the times.
I've never seen a pic of the band, but i'm almost certain from hearing the 45 that they owned at least one pair of stripey skintight strides, and headbands may very well have been worn.
So whilst not the most original band of their era, this is definitely worthy of a place on your I-Pod, and if you luck upon an original copy at a reasonable price, your record collection.
From the contents of the single I'd most certainly like to hear their full length LP.
Hint hint.
Much thanks to Nightsblood for this one.
Note : This band is not related to the UK band also called Voltz who released the opinion-splitting "Knight's Fall" LP  in 1982.

VOLTZ - Rock Stomping Rock'n'Rollers 7" (1982) USA

And that's it for 2012.Many thanks as always to all of you who took the time to comment, share your opinions, contribute music to the blog and your remembrances of bands of yesteryear in this year now almost gone.
I'd like to take the opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013, and welcome you all back here for more vintage voltage in the new year.
Here's to your very good health.