Friday, November 27, 2015

Bare Sole - Flash demos 1969

In a new semi-regular section for The Day After The Sabbath, here is the first feature on an official archival release of some truly lost and obscure psychedelic rock n' roll. Bare Sole first came to my attention in a bootleg compilation called "Do What Thou Wilt". I was impressed by the song "Flash" with it's groovy heavy blues riff and rough n' roll attitude. Read More...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TDATS #126: Into The Pit [US Metal 1976 - 79]

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Heavy metal continued to evolve in the mid-seventies with bands like Rush, Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, UFO, Judas Priest and Rainbow upping the ante on each record. All the facets of those cutting-edge bands can be found among the lesser-known and never-known US bands I have included on this volume; grand fantastical themes, guitar harmonies, galloping riffs and histrionic power metal vocals included. Included here are a few conversations I've had with band members of Alkana, Axxe, Squadran and Tyranny.

The UK, and also Germany, were responsible for many of the famous technically-accomplished and speedy metal bands in the latter-half 1970s, but it was happening everywhere else too. American underground metal was exploding in popularity, bands were getting heavier and more skilled, Van Halen broke through were Montrose didn't do so well. The world's focus didn't fall upon many of them, most would sign to regional record labels and only have local success, Ohio's Left End was a good early US example of this, surely they were good enough for the world stage.

Others only made private pressings for gigs and friends, destined to go no further than the shelves of local fans and later, those of avid record collectors. The efforts of reissue labels, and more recently the powers of internet exposure, have thankfully made it easy for everyone to now appreciate how good some of those records are!

If you are particularly interested in this one, you might like to check out the US A.O.R. metal volume Forced Landing (Vol91), or the NWOBHM-inspired volumes, Dreams & Screams (Vol121) and The New Order (Vol67).

01. Squadran - The Wall (1979)
       from the Fly Away 7"
02. Granmax - Mistress Of Eternity (1978)
       from album 'Kiss Heaven Goodbye'
03. Alkana - Paradise (1978)
       from album 'Welcome To My Paradise'
04. Asia - Law Of The Land (1978)
       from album 'Asia'
05. Blitz - Lady Lightning Fingers (1978)
       from the Blitz EP
06. Axxe - Through The Night (1978)
       from the Rock Away The City 7"
07. Impeccable - Traces Of Time (1978)
       from album 'Live On The Rox'
08. Dave Feinstein - Midnight Lady (1978)
       from the Midnight Lady 7"
09. Marcus - Gypsy Fever (1976)
       from album 'Marcus'
10. Midnight - Into The Pit (1977)
       from album 'Into The Night'
11. Tyranny - Rockit (1979)
       from the Tyranny / Infinity 7"
12. Infinity - She Ain't Comin' Back (1979)
       from the Tyranny / Infinity 7"
13. Constellation - You Don't Know (1978)
       from album 'Constellation'
14. Yesterday And Today - Dreams Of Egypt (1978)
       from album 'Struck Down'


Squradran - Fly Away / The Wall 7"
Squadran opens up this set with a stunning track, "The Wall". The first time I heard it, from 1979, I was floored at how it presented a well-formed speed/thrash metal sound a few years before such things had appeared anywhere else, that I know of at least. Drummer Mike Gandia (links 1,2) was later in an unsigned New York band called Cathedral (link), which supported Aerosmith in 1984. He has been in many bands and a session drummer ever since, working with some of the best including Ozzy himself.

I managed to contact Mike recently and asked him about "The Wall", telling him it sounds like "Slayer in 1979" and asking him if he realised at the time that they were doing something very new.

He said this: "Ha Ha! We did that record in one session back when you had to actually play every part correctly. When we did that record no one had done that style yet and we had no clue that we stumbled into a new genre of music. We played locally and did very well but no one would sign the band because this style of music was not popular yet. We were told we had to be more commercial and we wanted no part of that so eventually we broke up and within two years Anthrax and Manowar were calling asking about me playing with them while I was on tour supporting Aerosmith, and Heavy Metal was born.

Squadran promo shot, 1984 lineup
(l-r) Eric Klaastad, Mike Gardia
Mike Ray, Keith Brazil
Squadran just missed the boat. We where ahead of our time. We were contacted by Ozzy to be his band after he was fired from Sabbath. We auditioned for him all day and he loved us but said we were too young and unknown for him. He needed known people. About a month later he found Randy Rhoads. We were always told we sound too much like Black Sabbath on speed. We had many slower songs also. We where all into Sabbath/Rainbow and Judas Priest before Priest was really famous.

Squadran to this day gets respect from all over the world from Australia to Greece to England and Germany too. The single is still selling.

Thank you for your kind words and interest in my favorite band I have ever played with… I was only 20 years old then and now I've played with over 30 bands. It make's us feel good to know people still like us. Thank You!"

Squadran at Gildersleeves in NY (link)
(l-r) Eric Klaastad (bass), Mike (drums), Keith Brazil (vocals) and Randy Young (gtr)


Granmax's "Mistress Of Eternity" has a great galloping pace with fantasy lyrics, and "Prince Of The Southern Ice" is also good, evoking wide vistas of ice-covered oceans and victorious princes. Lead singer Nick Christopher (aka Chaz Nikias) gives us his best power metal histrionics and in general "Kiss Heaven Goodbye" is a big step away from this Missouri four-pieces's boogie / hard rock debut LP, "A Ninth Alive" (1976), in my opinion an improvement. The band sounds more confident and more composed, the production is improved too.


Alkana 1978
According to The Acid Archives, "Danney Alkana was formerly with Cock Robin, a California band that at times featured Misunderstood legend Glenn Ross Campbell. As something of a guitar maestro, he later had some success on the classical-inspired metal guitar circuit and released and album called "Rock the Bach" in 1999."

The Alkana album "Welcome To My Paradise" is an impressive array of inventive and textured hard rock / metal which can be as melodic and atmospheric as it can be fast and heavy. The production is great, Danney really let loose with his double-tracked guitars and his harmonised leads are all over it, but tracks like "Paradise" and "Montezuma's Sweet Revenge" are also speedy, chugging riff-fests. The rest of the band was singer Jack Rucker (later known as "Damien King I" in Warlord mk.1), Craig Williams (bass) and Don Mclaughlin (drums), they were based in San Bernardino, CA.

Q. Hi Danney. Why did you become a guitarist?

Danney: "I started playing piano at four years old, and I loved playing classical. After that, the Beatles came along, and I got heavy into drums and I kind of got lost in pop music. At age fourteen I was still a drummer but got into playing guitar. I was over at a friends house and I heard Jeff Beck's Truth album. I told my friend then and there I was going to get a guitar, there was just something about the album that I absolutely loved. I had a guitar within a week. I never forgot classical music. It's just something that's part of me, especially the Baroque era."

Q. How did you get Alkana band together?

Danney: "Craig Williams (bass) and I had played together in another band for two or three years. Don Mclaughlin (drums) we found 30 miles away from where we lived. The three of us rehearsed until we were tight and then put an ad in the paper for a singer and auditioned four or five before Jack Rucker joined".

Alkana rear cover
Q. The album sounds to me like impressively advanced heavy metal, more like the eighties than 1978. What would you say to that?

Danney: "The guitar riffs and the harmonized guitar parts I don't know where they came from to be honest. I had done a single perhaps five years before as a stand-in musician or better said studio musician. So when I got in the studio to do my own album I kind of felt like I should have free reign so I did whatever I felt. Why it sounds advanced for its time I don't know, it was just the mood I was in at the time."

Q. What bands in heavy metal and hard rock were you listening to at the time that might have been an influence to you?

Danney: "The bands I was listening to at the time were all English bands. Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, UFO, Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow."

Q. Seeing as the band is named after you, I guess you were the main ideas person/writer, is that correct?

Danney: "Yes that's correct, I wrote all the tunes on the album but the title track, I gave credit to Craig Williams who came up with the base line, and I wrote the music around it."

Q. How was the album received?

Danney: "The reception to Welcome to my Paradise was quite good. It had airplay in several cities in the US. I never knew the quantity of sales exactly. Obviously since we are playing to 3, 4 and 5000 seat venues and filling them every night I imagine it's sold fairly well. I was interviewed several times and enjoyed them all. Although it wasn't an interview I would have to say my favorite piece of press was for the time we played the swing auditorium which was a 10,000 seater. My father never saw me play but was so proud of the newspaper write up on the band he went out and bought several newspapers and sent me the clippings of the write up. I did have an extensive interview a few years ago from Greece, I think the interview lasted a good two hours but I don't know what happened to the write up."

Q. What happened with Alkana, did you play live much or play with any other bands? Why did it split up?

Danney: We played several venues, most of them as headliners and a couple as the opening act. I left the band because we got tied up in a lawsuit when my manager hit the president of our department in the mouth trying to renegotiate a contract with MCA. This was quite discouraging for the rest of the band and myself and I decided if I moved on and made a new lineup things would get better. The lawsuit lasted for years but eventually in my new band Excalibur we were offered a contract with CBS London, but my co-writer & collaborator left the band. I felt at that time I wasn't going to allow anybody else to deny me my destiny so I quit the music business and joined the straight world and became a businessman.

True to his roots, when Danney delved back into music fourteen years after Excalibur, he used his multi-instrumental talents on a neo-classical record called "Rock the Bach" (link), for which he was personally congratulated and praised by Steve Vai.


Asia 1978
Not to be confused with the British "Asia", South Dakota's Asia made two LPs of heavy progressive rock and hard rock. They have an epic, regal quality to many of the songs, somewhat reminiscent of the kind of atmosphere conjured up by Led Zep's No Quarter or Kashmir for instance. They evolved from White Wing with members Michael English on vocals and multi-instrumentalist Mike Coates. Asia achieved some success playing the club circuit in the more urban areas of the upper Midwest. Their self-titled debut was recorded in two sessions at ASI studios in Minneapolis in 1978 and was privately released the same year.


Blitz EP 1978
Blitz was an amateur Texas band playing heavy metal. They made a four track EP, sometimes in the style of the NWOBHM. The band was quite sloppy and the writing is not so great, but this is what you might expect from a debut self-made record that was probably designed to hand out at gigs etc. 'Lady Lightning Fingers' included here is quite obviously imitating a vocal section of Rob Halford's in Judas Priest's "Victim Of Changes", but it makes for an interesting listen as an example of such English metal having an influence in the US.

Axxe & Impeccable

Axxe - Rock Away The City /
Through The Night 7" (1978)
Another Texas band follows, Axxe, later named Impeccable. Featuring the guitar skills of Darren Welch, from the city of Lubbock. Members were Darren, Morris Payne (drums), Richard Rico (bass) and Don Allison (vox). Axxe went from 1977-79, and Impeccable a few years longer than that. Don wrote the lyrics, Darren wrote the music. The 1978 Axxe single has a decent slab of country-fried hard rock 'n' roll for the a-side, but the b-side "Through The Night" is where the metal action is, and what a great track it is. Darren's guitar dominates the whole thing, he has total mastery over rhythm and leads, it all flows so naturally and is complemented by Don Allison's intense high-pitched vocals. Here I have included the Axxe track, and an Impeccable track from the "Live On The Rox" LP.

Impeccable (l-r)
Morris Payne (d), Donnie Allison (v)
Richie Rico (b), Darren Welch (g)
Here's is what Darren told me recently. "The band formed in late 1976. Bassist Richard Rico, drummer Morris Payne and myself had been jamming in bedrooms, garages, storage units etc. We needed a vocalist and finally found a guy called Brent Haynie. He was actually a folkie into Neil Young, John Prine, Willis Allen Ramsey, Cat Stevens etc whereas we were listening to stuff like Sabbath, Zep, Deep Purple, Moxy, Wiggy Bits, Budgie, Scorpions, Hendrix, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, Trapeze, Ted Nugent and Rush. That group was called Live Wire.

Haynie sang in a high register so he could sing a lot that stuff, but eventually his folk roots won out and he departed. A friend of a friend recommended Don Allison, so we contacted him and began jamming and writing, then performing. We changed the band name to Axxe, recording the single in a friend's living room and eventually, after doing several shows with Budgie, changing our name again to Impeccable, after the Budgie album. Impeccable released a live album, "Live on The Rox" in '78. You can download it on the net, or find it on Ebay. We were aged just 16 to 18. The guitar is horrendous! But it was what it was."

Me: I don't quite agree with the guitar being horrendous hehe. In fact for what it is, I think your and the band's playing is tremendous, and not only because you were so young at the time. Did you carry on with heavy metal after Impeccable?

Impeccable, Live at the Rox
Darren: "Thank you for being so complementary. The guitar was horrendous, but I hadn't been playing long and was discovering Jack Daniels & Coke during the live recording. So it is what it is. I didn't really play heavy metal again, I began writing for my own voice. More blues/rock/pop. It's still fairly heavy, but I don't think you could classify it as metal. Check out DWG Volume 1, heavy blues rock. There's even a thing or two on there a Metal Head can appreciate. Some pretty good guitar on that one. it's on cdbaby (link) or iTunes (link). It's got a cool version of Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic" as well as Johnny Winter's "Guess I'll Go Away" & "Rock Me Baby". Play it LOUD!".

David "Rock" Feinstein

David "Rock" Feinstein's career began after playing in blues rockers Elf, with his cousin Ronnie James Dio. In 1978 he recorded a single and started The Rods in 1980, an anthemic, greasy metal band that sounded like Motörhead slowed down a bit. His 1978 single is great, and 'Midnight Lady' is included here. Although the lyrics are a tad wishy-washy, they belie some fast chugging heavy metal. The Hammond organs, while perfectly fine within themselves, drag it back slightly towards early seventies hard rock.


Marcus Malone
Marcus Malone is now a blues singer/guitarist/songwriter based in the UK, but long ago in a former life he started as singer in what is now regarded as an early US metal band, simply called Marcus on it's sole LP, which had no less than three guitarists. The one well-known hard rock name on the album (but only for two tracks) was bassist Tim Bogert, of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus etc. Even though the album gets favourable reviews in metal circles, and was chosen for the Kerrang-curated "Striktly For Konnoisseurs" comp, it's certainly not a typical metal album. It has some elements of prog and funk, and it's not aggressively heavy but it's very much driven by complex guitar interplay that displays many of the melodic qualities that heavy metal bands have, especially ones that have multiple guitarists that pride themselves in technical skill. I guess you could compare Marcus's relationship to metal as similar to that of Wishbone Ash. The other members involved do not appear to have had careers in hard rock before or after Marcus, but some did turn up in disco funk. Apparently drummer Dandy "Star" Holmes later played in the disco/AOR hybrid Sabu, named after Paul Sabu, also of the Kerrang-recommended Only Child.

Marcus - 2000 CD reissue, inside cover
Here is what Marcus Malone himself wrote for a CD reissue of the album in 2000: "The songs on this album were written, tried and tested for several years previous to 1975 in the night clubs, bars and eventually festivals of Detroit, Toleda and Chicago. We worked seven nights a week and loved every bit of it and had built up a massive following before being spotted by several record companies. The year 1975 was a very good year indeed - we left Detroit and headed for California, which was just like I pictured it - fast cars, gorgeous women and uncut drugs. Amidst a bureaucratic upheaval between the record company - United Artists, the management teams - West & East Coast- and a cast of legal eagles, we somehow managed to cut what was to become a classic cult metal album in America as well as Europe. I am happy to see the interest in the 'Marcus' resurrection for a new generation to discover and our die-hard followers to rediscover in digital format. I'm not one to dwell on the past - I can only say that it was great while it lasted and looks like its going to last a long time to come. This album is meant to be played at maximum volume that your speakers can handle. So get out that pipe or zig zags, a little incense - and enjoy".


Midnight in 1976
Four Chicago teenagers formed Midnight. Dave Hill (organ, vocals), Frank Anastos (guitar), Scott Marquart (drums), and John Falstrom (bass), met while taking lessons at Melody Mart in Homewood, IL in 1974. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Deep Purple, eventually they began gigging at colleges and clubs in and around Chicago, even though they were still in high school at the time. Soon after graduating in the fall of 1977, they recorded their lone LP with no management or producer, at A-K Sound Recording Studio in Orland Park, IL.

Midnight "Into The Night" (1976)
Dave, Frank, and John all contributed to the songwriting and then the band worked on the arrangements as a unit. Like Blitz before, the recordings have a rough edge and amateurish production, with a mixture of good to average songs. Dave used a Vox organ, and its thin sound was out of vogue by this time, giving the music a link back to '60s garage rock. The group self-released "Into the Night", pressing 500 copies in early 1978. A show at The Aragon in late '79 was one of their last and in 1980 they took a break from playing to write new material. Drummer Scott Marquart quit and the rest followed suit.

Drag City reissued the LP this year (link). I have used one of the most metallic sounding tracks from the LP, "Into The Pit". This song presents an interesting mixture of out-dated equipment like the Vox and a recording job which sounds like an amateurish attempt from an earlier time, while some the music itself has influence from more metallic sounds of the later-seventies.


Tyranny and Infinity were two bands helmed by guitarist Rob Griffin, who later started a cult metal band called Graven Image. Included here is both sides of a 7", one side by Tyranny and one labelled as played by "Infinity". According to the label, both written by Rob Griffin and Dave Chumchal. Thanks to O.P.M. Records for reissuing this 45 in 2005, and bringing it to the world's attention! Both sides are equally great heavy metal.

Here is what Rob Griffin has told me about this strange situation: ”Hi Rich, It was all Tyranny on the 45 (me) writing and producing the same band. It was just a label screw up at the pressing plant because we almost made some changes, and then made some changes (confusing). When the plant had the order we met a bass player who joined us briefly and we were considering a name change, however he turned out to be a flake and a con man who tried to steal our music, but we caught on and fired him.

We called the plant to have the label changed again going back to Tyranny, however the plant got it wrong and put the right label on one side and the wrong label on the other, and we decided to just release it anyway due to lack of funds to change it and no time, as we were playing live. So it was a mistake on many levels. The long version will be in a book someday as it is a great story! It in fact was Tyranny and me all done in the studio, the bass player in question was post-production and did nothing but screw us up - there you go!" Graven Image's facebook can be found here (link).

2009 Tyranny / Graven Image Reunion with Rob Griffin, "Rockit"


Constellation LP (1978)
The penultimate track is from a real wildcard, a Tennessee band called Constellation. Many thanks to The Acid Archives (link) for what little information is known about the album, one of the most obscure appearing here for sure.

Originally from Chattanooga, the band featured a potential superstar in the form of 14 year old singer/guitarist Punkin Crye and brothers Buster and Mike Visage (bass and drums respectively). The trio attracted a loyal following on the local club scene, eventually capturing the attention of a small label called Pyramid, which signed them to a recording contract and financed their self-titled 1978 debut. 

Co-produced by Jack Bryson, Cathy Dover, Jim Stabile and the band, the resulting LP "Constellation" is an impressively hard-rocking effort; even more so given creative mainstay Crye wasn't even old enough to legally play in a nightclub. In addition to handling lead vocals (he sure didn't sound like a 14 year old) and lead guitar, Crye wrote or co-wrote all nine tracks. The track I chose here, "You Don't Know", is propulsive and has a ton of punk energy with sharp riffage.

The album did little commercially and the band promptly called it quits. Crye relocated to L.A. where he enjoyed minor success playing in a number of local metal bands. Unfortunately, Crye also picked up a nasty drug habit.  By the time he was in his early 20s he'd returned to Tennessee where he ended up homeless, living on the streets of Chattanooga.

Yesterday & Today

Oakland CA's Yesterday and Today have the last song in this volume. They are the most successful band appearing here, although after a start in the early seventies the commercial success didn't come until the mid-eighties, after their heaviest albums were behind them, in my opinion.

"Dreams Of Egypt" is from their second record, "Struck Down" (1978). To me this track has a very metallic guitar tone and playing style, which sounds really cool and precognizant of 1980s trends. I wonder if the combination of heavy metal and Egyptian mythology influenced Iron Maiden later on, or even the Death Metal band Nile? Well, I guess you'd have to ask them! Seeya on the next one, Rich.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

TDATS 125: Race With The Devil [Gurvitz Brothers special]

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Adrian and Paul Gurvitz had influential but largely unsung careers in British hard rock in the '60s and '70s. Here are some of the best tracks associated with them, from albums by bands such as Gun, Three Man Army, Baker Gurvitz Army and others that you may be less acquainted with. I have incorporated sections from the bio on Paul Gurvitz's page into this article to tell the story of the Gurvitz Brother's heavy bands along with the music.

The prime Gurvitz Brothers bands of interest for us here at TDATS were Gun and Three Man Army, being the hardest-rocking. I have used tracks from both those bands previously, so here I have tried to avoid repetition and picks from just those band's albums, there are so many good ones and it would be too easy! So, I have used a lot of non-album singles and related bands such as 'Parrish & Gurvitz', The Knack and The Buddy Miles Band. Hopefully there'll be enough of interest here to keep you listening, even if you already know Gun and Three Man Army well!

A small mp3 audio file of a recent radio interview with Paul Gurvitz is included with this comp. A written interview with Paul is also included at the end of this article, courtesy of ItsPsychedelicBaby.

01. Three Man Army - My Yiddishe Mamma (1973)
       from album 'Mahesha'
02. Three Man Army - Hold On (1973)
       from album 'Mahesha'
03. Gun - Runnin' Wild (1970)
04. Three Man Army - What's My Name (1971)
       from album 'A Third Of A Lifetime'
05. Three Man Army - Travellin' (1971)
06. Gun - Race With The Devil (1968)
       from album 'Gun'
07. The Knack - Who'll Be The Next In Line [Kinks cover] (1965)
       from album 'Time Time Time - The Complete UK Singles (and more) 1965-1967'
08. Gun - Drives You Mad (1969)
09. The Buddy Miles Band - L.A. Resurrection (1973)
       from album 'Chapter VII'
10. Three Man Army - Jubilee (1974)
       from album 'Three Man Army Three' (released 2005)
11. Parrish & Gurvitz - Another Time Another Day (1971)
       from album 'Parrish & Gurvitz'
12. Gun - Situation Vacant (1969)
       from album 'Gun Sight'
13. The Baker Gurvitz Army - Hearts On Fire (1976)
       from album 'Hearts On Fire'
14. Three Man Army - In My Eyes (1974)
       from album 'Three Man Army Two'

Gun debut LP 1968
Gun debut s/t LP 1968
Gun were an influential English hard rock band, and one of the very first. Everyone knows about their classic 1968 top ten single, "Race with the Devil" (youtube), it has been covered ever since by famous and underground acts, right up to modern bands like Church Of Misery. The Gun was a development of guitarist Paul Gurvitz's The Knack (prev. The Londoners, formed 1963). Paul's father was road manager for The Shadows so he had a good introduction to rock and The Londoners had already played in France and Hamburg's Star Club by the time they settled in London, becoming The Knack, then in 1966, "The Gun". Soon after they were playing at the UFO Club, supporting names such as Pink Floyd, Arthur Brown and Tomorrow.

Gun - Gunsight 1969
Gun - Gun Sight 1969
By 1968 Paul's brother Adrian had joined on guitar, himself having already cut his teeth with acts such as Rupert's People (see Vol70) and pre-T2 bands Please Bulldog Breed (see vols 27 & 74). Gun recorded two albums and they honed their hard rock elements further on the second LP, Gun Sight, which the track appearing here, 'Situation Vacant', is taken from. After Gun the Gurvitz brothers were in more bands together, including the excellent Three Man Army (prev. in Vol46) and Baker Gurvitz Army with Ginger Baker, as well as separate projects. Adrian and Paul also played on both Graeme Edge Band albums in the latter half of the seventies, with Paul on production duties too.

Adrian Gurvitz started playing guitar at the age of 8 and by age 15, he was touring in early bands like Screaming Lord Sutch, Billie Davis, and Crispian St. Peters. In 1967 he briefly joined Rupert’s People, who had a minor-hit single, 'Reflections of Charlie Brown'. It charted at 13 in Australia and made the Top 40 in the UK. Just before The Gun formed, Paul joined an even shorter-lived version of Rupert's people too.

Paul Gurvitz - Adrian Gurvitz - Louis Farrell

Adrian has gained notability as a lead guitarist, known for his screaming, intricate, hard-driving solos. He was placed at No. 9 in Chris Welch of Melody Maker's "Best Guitarist in the World" list. There's no doubt that he and his brother's powerful style heralded heavy metal right at its birth. Since playing in hard rock bands, Adrian (and brother Paul) were key players in the disco/funk informed soft rock of The Graeme Edge Band. The music, although well-played, is not suitable for this blog so doesn't feature in the comp. It pointed the way for Adrian's solo work from 1979 into the eighties. Adrian also continued as a producer and film score writer. He worked on the hugely successful soundtrack to the The Bodyguard and has recently worked with Ziggy Marley.

Paul Gurvitz in BGA
Paul Gurvitz in BGA
After the demise of The Baker Gurvitz Army, Paul produced and played on his brother's solo albums, and went to the US in 1985 to work as a songwriter / producer. He wrote for bands such as Five Star, Jody Watley, The Fat Boys, The Cover Girls, Stanley Clarke and others. In 2002 he returned as a solo artist and continues to record his own albums. He has started country-rockers The New Army band in recent years, where he now lives in Arizona. He did an interview with PsychedelicBaby in 2011, and his website is (link).

You can listen to a recent US radio interview with Paul Gurvitz here:

The Knack becomes The Gun

With the departure of long time band mate Brian Morris from The Knack, guitarist Paul Curtis (aka Paul Gurvitz) made a radical change and The Knack became The Gun.

Gun went through many line up changes (Yes vocalist Jon Anderson was even with the band briefly) until they got their first break playing shows with T Rex and Pink Floyd on the London underground scene. "We were playing a lot at The Speakeasy which was a very fashionable club at the time," Paul recalls. "There you would stand shoulder to shoulder with people whose music is still played all over the world today, The Beatles, Brian Jones of the Stones, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon of The Who, just to name a few".

By the middle of 1968, Gun became a power trio. Paul had taken over bass and left the guitar to his brother Adrian, who was by this time becoming quite a talent. The drums meanwhile were still handled by Louis Farrell (prev. in The Knack). Famous jazz musician Ronnie Scott, had just formed a management company and signed them as his first band. Shortly afterwards they were signed by CBS, and by the end of the year they were at the top of the European charts with 'Race With The Devil', included here. Although the single bares the hallmarks of psychedelic pop of the times, with it's big-sounding production and orchestration, there is also the beginnings of hard rock and heavy metal bubbling bellow the surface, powered by Adrian's blistering guitar leads.

A self-titled debut LP appeared the same year and a second LP came in 1969 called Gun Sight. Included here is a track from Gun Sight called 'Situation Vacant'. It has the searing leads and aggression of Race With The Devil, but not so much of the pop production, which also defines the heavier sound of Gun Sight in general. In my opinion this is a very early hard rock album that deserves to be compared with the earliest work of Deep Purple, Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly as some of the very first heavy metal.

The Army Advances

After Gun had backfired, the brothers Gurvitz took time out in America. Adrian hooked up with Buddy Miles, while Paul worked with former Londoners band mate Brian Morris, who had changed his name to Brian Parrish. They began writing new songs and were introduced to legendary producer George Martin, who signed them to his label, Regal Zonaphone. They recorded the album Parrish & Gurvitz and toured in support of it throughout the US, according to Paul a second LP was recorded but never released. I have included the great opening track from the album here, 'Another Time Another Day'. The rest of the band included past and future members of bands such as Badger, Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones, Cochise, Roxy Music, Foreigner, Small Faces and Ian Dury's Blockheads. After little label support the project split and the backing band went on to join Peter Frampton.

Three Man Army
A Third Of A Lifetime cover
Before Parrish & Gurvitz finished, Paul had begun working on new material with his brother. The brothers had only just returned to the UK in the early '70s when they teamed up again to write and record the debut Three Man Army album, 'A Third of A Lifetime'. This album was released by Pegasus Records in 1971. Most of the songs were rehearsed in the studio before being recorded.

The brothers had a predilection for working with first class drummers, and this album featured no less than three with Buddy Miles (Band Of Gypsys), Mike Kellie (Spooky Tooth) and Carmine Appice (Beck Bogard & Appice, Vanilla Fudge). I have used the track 'What's My Name' from this album. Three Man Army was clearly a development from Gun, Adrian and Paul's song-writing and playing was less psychedelic and decidedly more blues-based hard rock, the riffs are often heavy and fast but every song is infused with melody too, with a noticeable hint of southern rock. Maybe from Paul's love of Allman Brothers.

Two of my favourite tracks from their catalogue are Butter Queen (youtube) and Pole Cat Woman (youtube), which always go down well on the dance floor. The brothers set the blueprint with this album, all three released albums from Three Man Army are very consistent and I recommend them all equally, although they really turned the heaviness up to 11 for the third one, 'Three Man Army Two' (yes that is the name of the third LP, as explained later).

The band's second release, 'Mahesha' (In the US known simply as 'Three Man Arm'), came out on the Warner Bros-owned label Reprise in 1973. Drummer Tony Newman (Rod Stewart Group, May Blitz, Boxer, David Bowie), a sought-after session man who could be heard on many of the hit singles at the time, was added. Newman became a permanent member of the Army, which now allowed the band to play live and promote Mahesha in the US. "The first tour we did was with the Doobie Brothers and the second was with the Beach Boys. Not necessarily acts with which we had much in common", Paul recalls. "However, Warner Bros. thought it would be a good thing". From this album I have used the two opening tracks. 'My Yiddishe Mamma' is a stately instrumental build-up to 'Hold On'. This is not the same as the Hold On that Rupert's People played, but maybe it was an inspiration.

Three Man Army Two
A year later and the band were recording their third album. This one was heavier than the previous two and the title caused some confusion - 'Three Man Army Two'. Paul clarifies the reason behind the choice. "It was the second album for Warner Bros." Perhaps another interpretation could be that it may have been subconsciously influenced by the fact that it was the Second record to feature the line up of Gurvitz, Gurvitz and Newman. This would help to explain the subsequently titled release 'Three Man Army Three'. I have used the track 'In My Eyes' from this album, which is probably the heaviest album the Gurvitz bros ever made, and should be right at the top of your shopping list!

Buddy Miles - Chapter VII
Adrian lent his considerable guitar skills to other artists during these times. He recorded and toured with The Buddy Miles Band, for the album "Chapter VII" which was released in 1973.

Buddy's career began drumming for Wilson Picket when, at age 19, he was inducted into the original line-up of seminal Chicago blues soul rockers The Electric Flag. He also played in Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys.

The credits on Chapter VII were: Ron Johnson (bass and guitar), Adrian Curtis (guitar) and Buddy Himself on drums, vocals, organ, and guitar. As you probably guessed, Curtis is Gurvitz, the brother's real surname is Gurvitz but they would sometimes use Curtis, especially during their early careers and on various projects like Chapter VII, inspired to do so after their father had himself legally changed to it. Adrian's brother Paul explains: "When my parents divorced my father changed his name to Curtis from Gurvitz and at the time I thought that Curtis was more rock n' roll than Gurvitz". As mentioned earlier, Buddy and Adrian's friendship had started just after Gun finished, and Buddy played drums for some tracks on Three Man Army's first LP.

Three Man Army Three cover
Three Man Army had toyed with the idea of doing a rock opera (working title 'Three Days To Go') and they had recorded a few demos for the project. Paul recently rediscovered these demos and remastered them. From these sessions, nine tracks are featured on 'Three Man Army Three'. A collection of previously unreleased materials that has been captured with good sound quality and released in 2005. A good example of this is the track 'Jubilee', which is included here and features drummer Lee Baxter Hayes. When asked who this 'mystery' drummer was performing on the track, Paul laughs and says, "He was a roadie of ours with, let's say with average skills as a drummer, and we let him play. It was just for fun".

Tony Newman
When Tony Newman left the band to play with David Bowie, the brothers Gurvitz hooked up with Ginger Baker and changed their name to the Baker Gurvitz Army. Baker was considered the ultimate rock drummer at the time, known for his work with Blind Faith and obviously Cream. The band's three albums definitely sounded different to Three Man Army, and Baker's drumming was always impressive, but they do not do much for me and are more a display of good drumming and technically proficient but commercial soft rock. With that sound the band entered the US and UK charts in 1974. Two consecutive albums followed as the band expanded their line up from a trio to a quintet with singer Mr. Snips (aka Stephen Alfred Wilson Parsons - ex-Sharks and later new wave solo artist). When their manager Bill Fahelli died in a plane crash, a dispute with the management company forced BGA to part ways.

Baker Gurvitz Army -
Hearts On Fire (1976)
Of the three BGA albums, my pick is the last one, 'Hearts On Fire' (1976). It is not as good as any of the Three Man Army LPs but it has more rocking tracks than he previous two and the title track which I include here is great, if a little short!

The last rock albums that the Gurvitz Brothers played on for a while were the pair of Graeme Edge Band LPs soon after, that were unfortunately rather more lackluster than Baker Gurvitz Army. Unfortunately for heavy-heads, that was the absolute end of the Gurvitz Brothers' forays into hard rock, but by all accounts they made a lot more money for themselves in later pursuits as writers / producers. We can't blame them for doing that and we can't complain about the great set of Gun and Three Man Army albums they left us!

Paul Gurvitz interview

Many thanks to Klemen Breznikar for allowing me to reproduce parts of his 2011 Paul Gurvitz interview here! Klemen runs a great blog/zine over at

Q. Hi Paul. Firstly I would like to ask you about your childhood. What were your main influences at that time, beside Buddy Holly and Elvis.

Paul: I used to listen to a lot of American artist's when I was growing up as there were only a few English ones that I found exciting, around the late 60's I would listen to Santana, Buffalo Springfield, Spirit, The Allman Brothers, Zappa.

Q. Your first band was called The Londoners. You played gigs around London and you also went to Germany.Can you tell us more?

Paul: Actually the Londoners never really played in London other than when we were the backing group for Gene Vincent, The Londoners played mostly in Germany and France.

Q. From Germany you went back to London. You were no longer called The Londoners. Changing your name to The Knack, were there also any changes in lineup? You recorded a few singles for Pye and for Decca. Your first release was 'Who'll Be The Next In Line / She Ain't No Good', right? Can you tell me more about The Knack.

Paul: The Knack was a continuation of The Londoners. There were a few different members, on bass was Gearie Kenworthy, on organ was Tim Mycroft (who is the first of the family tree to have passed away) and on drums was Topper Clay, and I played rhythm guitar. The Knack played mostly in London and around England.

Q. In early 1968 you started Gun. You released a debut album in the same year, which I think it is a true masterpiece and one of the first heavy albums from that era. You also had a mega hit called Race With The Devil. Can you tell me about it? Who made the cover art? I just love it.

Paul: The Gun was a continuation of The Knack with different members. The first Gun was Tim Mycroft on organ, Gearie Kenworthy on bass, Louie Farrel on drums, and I played rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Actually I started playing as The Gun in late 67. In early 68 there were more changes, Jon Anderson was the lead singer and my brother joined on guitar, then it changed again, Anderson left so did Tim mycroft, and then Gearie Kenworthy and that's when we became The Gun that made the albums. I was now playing bass and Adrian on guitar and Louie on drums.

Race With The Devil was our first hit and was recorded at CBS in London on an 8 track recorder. We were managed at that time by the famous jazz player Ronnie Scott and rehearsed in his club. During the time we were rehearsing there was a guy painting murals on the club walls and we asked him if he would like to do the artwork of the cover. His name was Roger Dean who later did all the Yes albums and many more but The Gun was his first. As far as touring we spent time in France, Germany, Italy and England.

Q. In 1969 you started to record a second album, called Gun Sight. There were lineup changes, right? Drummer Peter Dunton came from Bulldog Breed to join your band. Can you tell me more about that?

Paul: I don't remember much about that. I know Peter Dunton played on some tracks, but never really joined the band although there were some publicity pics with him. Most of the second album was Louie Farrell, later Goeff Britton played drums and toured with us. He later joined Wings.

Q. What went wrong with Gun after the second album? Your brother went to the US to record with Buddy Miles. After that you and Brian Parrish released one album called Parrish & Gurvitz. Slowly after that a new band was born. Three Man Army. What can you tell me about this legendary trio with you Adrian and Tony Newman on drums? You released 3 albums from 1970 to 1974.

Paul: I was recording a solo album for CBS and then decided to join up with Parrish. Three Man Army was an extention of Gun but with a lot of different drummers such as Buddy Miles, Mike Kelly (Spooky Tooth) and Carmin Appice (Vanilla Fudge). The band was just a recording band at the time as Adrian and I were playing in different bands but we intended to make Three Man Army a touring band later, when Adrian finished with Buddy Miles.  Parrish & Gurvitz, after making 2 albums with George Martin (of Beatles fame), decided to pack it in and that's when Tony Newman joined and Three Man Army was born. The second album Mahesha and Three Man Army Two were both with Tony Newman.

We recorded often at the Who's studio and toured the US with The Doobie Brothers and The Beach Boys. We did some TV and there is an album of unreleased material called Three Man Army Three and can be purchased at

Paradise Ballroom
Q. During that period you started another project with The Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge. Soon after that two albums were released. Please tell me more about that project.

The two albums with Graeme Edge were just studio albums. The Moody Blues were taking a break and doing their individual projects. The artwork was by Joe Petagno (Motorhead sleeves etc.) also Three Man Army Two, the second album Paradise Ballroom was recorded in London and Memphis, they have both been reissued recently on The Acerteric label.

Q. Tony Newman left Three Man Army and you started a new band called Baker Gurvitz Army. How did you meet with Ginger Baker?

Paul: Three Man Army was back from the U.S. and Tony Newman was offered a gig with David Bowie and we suggested he took it. Three Man Army had an album ready to record, but no drummer. We met Ginger in The Speakeasy one night and he said he wanted to join the band and the rest is history. That album became the first BGA album. The band toured the UK and America and recorded somehow two more albums. There have been many live albums released since the demise of the band also on You will find BGA 'Still Alive' which includes a DVD.

Q. In 1976 you released the last Baker Gurvitz Army album, called Hearts on Fire. What happened next?

Paul: After the recording of Hearts On Fire our manager was killed in a plane crash and the band split. Adrian pursued solo projects and I produced them.

Q. Then came the 80's and you were involved with a lot of projects.

Paul: The 80's was a whole new era for me with my music. I went from playing and creating hard rock to writing pop r&b for many artists which you will find on my website

Q. In 2002 you released the album 'No Gun - No Army' and in 2005 you released the 'Rated PG' album. What can you say about that?

Paul: No Gun No Army was just a release of demo's rated. PG was more a project than No Gun No Army. I make the albums more for other artist's to record the songs.

Q. In 2010 you released the album 'Sweetheart Land'. How do you feel about it?

Paul: I liked Sweetheart Land. Gave me chance to switch my style a bit to more country / rock.

Thanks Paul!

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 124: Dimmar Nætur [Iceland special]

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Password:  tdats

Welcome to the sixth Nordic TDATS, after Denmark (Vol72), Sweden (Vol75), Norway (Vol81), Finland (Vol88) and the first one, (Vol28), which was a mix.

Some time ago I discovered the heavy names that are generally known from the Nordic island country of Iceland; Trúbrot, Thor's Hammer, Óðmenn, Andrew, Icecross and Svanfridur. It's time to look further, and considering that in the seventies Iceland had a population of only 200-225 thousand, I found a pleasing amount of good stuff. Looking at the selection, this volume reminds me most of the Austrian volume [107]. Similarly to that one, I decided to flesh it out a bit by creeping up to the year 1981, the year of Iceland's very first heavy metal album from the band "Start". It's amazing that both countries produced a similar amount of good rock, considering that Austria had a population over seven million during the same period!

As is often the case for countries that didn't have a lot of heavy rock in the seventies, and also was for Austria, Iceland's alternative music scene came alive in the punk and post-punk years. I have included a 1980 track from Þeyr's first release. They were a legendary post-punk band that were comparable to Joy Division or Killing Joke, they were also a launchpad for The Sugarcubes, where Björk made her name.

Some honourable mentions go to notable Icelandic bands Náttúra, Hinn íslenski þursaflokkur, Eik, Spilverk Þjóðanna, Paradís, Mannakorn, Change, Stuðmenn, Þokkabót, Mezzoforte and Axel Einarsson's post-Icecross solo album. These range in styles including prog, folk, rock'n roll and fusion but they are not suitable for this blog's area of interest.

The cover art for this one is a 1918 painting called "Skógarhöllin", by Icelandic artist Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval (wiki).


01. Trúbrot - Am I Really Livin? (1971)
       from album '....Lifun'
02. Thor's Hammer - I Don't Care (1966)
       from EP 'Umbarumbamba'
03. Óðmenn - Betri Heimur (1970)
       from album 'Óðmenn'
04. Andrew - Rockin an Rollin (1973)
       from album 'Woops'
05. Jónas Og Einar - Gypsy Queen (1972)
       from album 'Gypsy Queen'
06. Mánar - Söngur Satans (1971)
       from album 'Mánar'
07. Pelican - Á Sprengisandi (1974)
       from album 'Uppteknir'
08. Icecross - Jesus Freaks (1973)
       from album 'Icecross'
09. Jóhann G. Jóhannsson - Sentimental Blues (1974)
       from album 'Langspil'
10. Svanfridur - My Dummy (1972)
       from album 'What's Hidden There?'
11. Trúbrot - I Know You'll Come (1969)
       from album 'Trúbrot'
12. Þeyr - 555 (1980)
       from album 'Þagað Í Hel'
13. Start - Hjonalif (1981)
       from album '...En Hún Snýst nú Samt'

The Bands

Trúbrot - Lifun LPCourtesy of Shadoks music (link) :- In 1969 Trúbrot was the first supergroup ever founded in Iceland. After the début album with vocalist Shady Owens, "....Lifun" is the second album released in 1970 without Shady on vocals. After a last concert in Iceland with the original line up they invited Led Zeppelin and became friends with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. When Jimmy and Robert returned to their hotel at four o’clock in the morning they were amazed to discover that the sun was still shining bright. The sight of the midnight sun, the snow capped glaciers and the Icelandic geysers apparently inspired them to write The Immigrant Song for the third Led Zeppelin album.

Trúbrot 1969Trúbrot was very much influenced by the electric music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Led Zeppelin. They went to London to have Orange amplifiers custom-made for the band and to Copenhagen to record debut LP "Undir áhrifum" at the Wifoss Studio. The album became the best album of 1970. Really amazing male English vocals, great arrangements, guitars, organ. Psychedelic/Progressive Rock of the best kind, strongly influenced by the British underground. Tony Branwell of Apple Records said they were one of the two best bands he had seen perform on stage in the preceding six months.

Thor's Hammer, or Hljómar, was an Icelandic rock band primarily active in the 1960s. Outside of Iceland, they are known among music collectors for their rare releases on Parlophone, sung in English and recorded in London for export. The most famous of these is the 1966 EP Umbarumbamba, regarded as one of the rarest released records in the world and known to fetch prices into the thousands when a copy surfaces. 

Formed in Keflavik in 1963 under the name Hljómar (literally "Chords"), they soon became popular in Iceland at a time when local rock music was a rarity. By the mid-1960s they were recording in London on Parlophone Records for the international market. This record was recorded as a tie-in with a movie starring the band also entitled Umbarumbamba, but the film was not a success. From these sessions also came the singles "Once" and "If You Knew". The band even attempted a single entitled "Stay" in the United States on Columbia Records, which was produced by John Simon, known for his work with The Band and Big Brother and the Holding Company's album Cheap Thrills with Janis Joplin.

Odmenn (Óðmenn)
Courtesy of Shadoks music (link) :- A selftitled album was the only one that Icelandic progressive rock trio Odmenn ever released. It was made at a critical point in Odmenn's history when the band members had agreed to take a sabbatical year while the guitarist studied law at the University of Iceland. They got together for the last time a year after the album was released and split up directly after having played only one gig. Odmenn was formed in early 1966 by the Johannsson brothers playing the most popular music clubs in Reykjavik. Most of Odmenn’s music could be categorised as protest songs or social studies, touching topics like anti-war protest and fights against pollution, greed and deception balanced with more positive stances like hope for a better world with love and eternal brotherhood. "Psychedelic guitar pieces had become their trademark". Odmenn recorded this double album in Copenhagen with a release late December 1970. Odmenn made a great impression with their blooming mixture of energetic blues rock and was probably one of the best progressive rock bands in Northern Europe. 15 great songs released as a double album.

Andrew - Woops LP back
Andrew - "Woops" LP
back cover
The "Woops" LP is the scarce original 1973 first and only release by Andrew, a band formed by Júlíus Agnarsson and Andri Örn Clausen, playing heavy experimental psychedelic, progressive and artistic rock. Ómar Óskarsson (bass, vocals) and Ásgeir Óskarsson (drums, vocals) were previously in Icecross. The record is listed in the Hans Pokora '1001 Record Collector Dreams' book as a 4 star "True Rarity". The album was recorded at Incognito and re-mixed at Morgan & Soundtek Studios. It was published by Najö Productions. The members of the band, alongside Júlíus and Andri are among others guitarist Björgvin Gíslason (from Náttúra and Pelican),  drummer Ásgeir Óskarsson (from Pelican and Icecross) and Egill Ólafsson (from Thursaflokkurinn and Spilverk Þjóðanna) on piano and vocals.

Jónas og Einar
Jónas og Einar
Courtesy of (link) :- Singer and flute player Jónas R. Jónasson and singer and guitar player Einar Vilberg Hjartarson had a short but very remarkable collaboration. Einar Vilberg became known as an extremely promising song writer and troubadour in 1970 and he had released a very promising EP with Pétur Kristjánsson and drummer Gunnar Jökull Hákonarson. Jónas and Einar got together in 1970 when Jónas left the band Náttúra. They rehearsed together for a while and got used to each others’ groove.

The music they played was acoustic with a hippy feel to it and they sang in English, because they wanted to appeal to a broader market than Iceland. They were consequently invited to play at an international pop festival in Budokan, Japan.  They also released an album that was recorded partly in Sweden and partly in Iceland. The album sold well and received a lot of attention. After a few years collaboration the duet split up, Jónas turned to producing but Einar Vilberg commenced a solo career.  

Mánar band
Courtesy of (link) :- The band Mánar was formed in Selfoss in 1967 by guitar players and singers Ólafur Þórðarson and Guðmundur Benediktsson who had played together in the trio Bimbó since they were 13 years old, drummer Ólafur Bachmann and bass player Stefán Ásgrímsson. Stefán soon left the band and was replaced by Björn Gíslason. In the summer of 1967, Arnór Þórhallsson sang with the band and bass player Smári Kristjánsson also played with them. Soon after that Guðmundur Benediktsson left and was replaced by organ player Björn Þórarinsson. Mánar recorded three songs in 1970 and two of them were released on a single the same year.

After the album was released Ólafur Bachmann left the band and was replaced by Ragnar Sigurjónsson. That line up recorded two songs that were released on another single in 1970. Singer Mary McDowell sang with Mánar that summer. The band then wrote some songs for an LP. They got Gunnar Þórðarsson to assist them in the last rehearsals before they went on a trip to Denmark in November 1971 to record the album. In 1974, Mánar recorded two songs that were released on a compilation album and in 1975 the band split up.

Courtesy of (link) :- After a band called Pops, Pelican vocalist Pétur Kristjánsson did stints with Náttúra and Svanfríður. After Svanfríður died off in 1973, Pétur formed his most famous rock band, Pelican. Right from the beginning Pelican was a popular band and had a sweet sailing at the Icelandic ball scene. In 1974 the band went to Massachusetts, USA, to record an LP at the Shaggy Dog Studio, where the reformed band Hljómar had already recorded its ill-fated country rock opus Hljómar 1974. In America, Pelican got in contact with various biz-people, and for awhile it looked like Pelican would sign a record deal and hit the big time.

In 1974, Pelican was the biggest band in Iceland. The first song from the debut album, “Jenny Darling”, was released on a single in the summer, a frisky number that went on to become Pétur’s signature song. The song was the hit of the summer and when the album “Uppteknir” (a word-play, that can mean both “Unpacked” and “Busy”—the album cover featured the band inside a sardine tin), came out in the fall. It became the best selling Icelandic album yet, shifting 11,000 units.

I have used an instrumental track from Pelican's second album. "Á Sprengisandi" is an Icelandic folk song written by Grímur Thomsen (1820-1896). You can read more about it here.

Icecross was formed in Copenhagen by a bunch of like-minded Icelandic hippies. In 1973 they made and self-released one of the most talked-about albums in the realms of obscure heavy rock. It is especially known for its doomy sounds and it's as fresh today as it was when it was recorded. "Jesus Freaks" is a Paean to self-empowerment and the band makes no bones about it's attitude to religion in it's Christian-bating lyrics. Icecross members were all deeply involved with other bands, including many of those appearing in this comp, this album leaves a great legacy and you can read more at

Jóhann G. Jóhannsson Langspil LP
Jóhann G. Jóhannsson
Langspil LP
Track nine is a diversion into blues from an artist who did not otherwise make heavy music, it's a great song that fits nicely into this set, from a singer-song writer. Johann G. Johannsson was born in 1947 in Keflavik, Iceland. He is one of the most productive of Iceland´s songwriters. He is the author of hundreds of songs, of which more than two hundred have been recorded by various artists. He has composed music in many genres such as rock, pop, R&B and progressive rock. He stared a career as a musician back in 1966 as a singer and bassist.

Courtesy of Shadoks music (link) :- The Icelandic prog-rock band Svanfrídur released only one album, recorded six months after they played their first gig. This short-lived band rapidly rose to fame, receiving rave reviews for live performances, but in fact their music was way ahead of its time. They were unable to seal a recording contract so they formed their own label - Swan Records. When the album 'What’s Hidden There?' was released in autumn 1972 it got mixed reviews and sold only a few hundred copies, leaving the band with a great album but sadly not the income they had been hoping for. Recorded at London’s Majestic Studios the album was cut and pressed in England. Perhaps one of the best heavy prog / underground albums from Scandinavia with amazing guitar and all-English vocals. Would have been a famous and successful album on Decca UK.

Courtesy of Wikipedia (link) :- Þeyr was a renowned Icelandic new wave band from the early 1980s. Shrouded under a veil of mystery, their three-year existence was characterized by a deep interest in ancient wisdom. Þeyr helped bring about the new wave movement in Iceland and became one of the first Icelandic bands to be known abroad.

The origins of Þeyr date back to the late 1970s when singer Magnús Guðmundsson, bassist Hilmar Örn Agnarsson and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (drums and synthesizer) were playing in a garage band called Fellibylur (Hurricane). The band was expanded with vocalist Elín Reynisdóttir, who at the time was singing at a church choir, guitarist Jóhannes Helgason from a rock band called Piccolo, and drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson from Hattimas.

They called themselves Frostrósir (Frostroses) and played rock music and some Icelandic songs at dancehalls in Reykjavík and its surroundings. After a while they decided to change the band’s name and came up with Þeyr, which was drawn from a poem by Skuggi and it means Wind or Thaw in old Icelandic. Þeyr is exactly pronounced as þeir, which means they (male gender). They had a lot of association with English band Killing Joke, at one time Killing Joke front man Jaz Coleman moved to Iceland to collaborate. After Þeyr ended, drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson started The Sugarcubes, who had international fame.

Start En Hún Snýst Nú Samt
"… En Hún Snýst Nú Samt was Start's only album, released in 1981 and includes their local Icelandic hit “Sekur” (youtube). Singer Eiríkur Hauksson later went on to front the Norwegian hair metal band Artch. While it is regarded by some as Iceland's first heavy metal album, it is more "hard rock/pop with a metal image" to my ears, but it does have some elements of commercial metal of the times, along with the associated slick production approach, on a par with anything else from around the world. With it's boogie-rock basis, the track "Hjonalif" I used here demonstrates the best of the band along with “Sekur”.

Takk og góða nótt!

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