Friday, March 23, 2012

The Day After The Sabbath 65: Southern Heaven

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Volume 65 is a collection of southern rock and tracks with that southern feel. What ties bands that have been labelled as Southern Rock together? Rock music and its root in blues, jazz and folk/country, was largely evolved in the south of America, and Gregg Allman commented once that "Southern rock" was a redundant term, like "rock rock". The vocalist's accents (affected or not) and singing styles are definitely a common attribute in the music I studied for this comp, as is the large amounts of overtly love-lorn or romantic, sometimes teeth-clenchingly sappy lyrics, even on some of the hardest-rockers. I guess we can put this down to the romantic cowboy buried deep in the southern man...luckily he also loves the electric guitar, often more than just one can be heard battling it out in these songs.

Track List:
01. Point Blank - Tattooed Lady (1977)
       from album 'second season'
02. Albatross - On The Run (1975)
       from album "rockin' the sky"
03. Atlanta Rhythm Section - Join The Race (1974)
       from album 'third annual pipe dream'
04. Brownsville Station - Sleazy Louise (1977)
       from album 'brownsville station'
05. Baby - Life's What You Make It (1975)
       from album 'baby'
06. Blackfoot - Big Wheels (1975)
       from album 'no reservations'
07. Crosscut Saw - One's Too Many (1975)
       from album 'mad, bad & dangerous to know'
08. The Marshall Tucker Band - Hillbilly Band (1973)
       from album 'the marshall tucker band'
09. Epitaph - Paradise For Sale (1972)
10. Travis Wammack - Funk #49 (1972)
       from album 'travis wammack'
11. George Hatcher Band - I'm Calling (1977)
       from album "talkin' turkey"
12. Kid Dynamite - Music Man (1976)
       from album 'kid dynamite'
13. Swampgas - Eulogy (1972)
       from album 'swampgas'
14. Lafauci - My Woman (1978)
       from album 'lafauci'
15. Target - Runaway (1977)
       from album 'captured'
16.  Dirty Tricks - Black Diamond (1976)
       from album 'hit & run'

Texas's Point Blank made six full-lengths in the 70s and 80s, and definitely made some of the heaviest southern rock I've found so far, plenty of metally riffs and dual guitar from Rusty Burns and Kim Davis can be found here-in! Albatross, reportedly from Salam, Virginia, are hard to find information on. Band member names I have found mentioned are Mike George (vocals), Henry Reid (keyboards) and Gary Ward (guitar). They made a great album dated at 1975 called "Rockin' The Sky" and it features plenty of good honest hard rock with some heavy prog touches like the hammond beefing it up, I highly recommend this. Georgia's Atlanta Rhythm Section were a relatively soft-rock act, sometimes described as skynyrd-lite. They had a slow ascent to a brief pinnacle of success in the late seventies and a performance at the White House for then-president Jimmy Carter, but are little-remembered since then. 'Join The Race' sure has a cool vibe, nice big, but laid-back riffs with some great instrumental interplay.

Brownsville Station hailed from Ann Arbor/Detroit and are chiefly remembered for their 1973 hit, "Smoking in the Boy's Room", which was further popularised by a cover version on Mötley Crüe's 1985 album "Theatre of Pain". They played a lot of styles, and often veered into harder ZZ-Top territory, the release I like in particular being 1977's eponymous LP with its great, fuzzy guitar sound. If you like 'Sleazy Louise', check out 'The Martian Boogie' on Vol57 too. Baby, from Amarillo, Texas, made a couple of albums in the 70s. Another of the more obscure acts here, they played good unpretentious hard rock and the cover of their independently-released eponymous debut from 1974 never fails to raise a smile.

Jacksonville, Florida's Blackfoot were another band who had a long career from the beginning of the 70s and only briefly attained some kind of success towards the end, by which time they moved further away from Southern rock and into hard rock. Originally called Hammer, they changed their name to Blackfoot to represent the American Indian heritage of bassist Greg T. Walker, drummer Jakson Spires and singer/guitarist Rickey Medlocke (Spires is part Cherokee, Medlocke part Sioux, and Walker part Eastern Creek, a Florida Indians tribe). I especially like the track I have used here "Big Wheels", it has excellent, inventive metallic guitar parts that at times have an almost Thin Lizish, NWOBHM feel, which is very impressive for 1975. At this time even Judas Priest was still peddling early-70s style hard rock.

Tallahassee, Florida’s Crosscut Saw made a great album in 1974, although one of the exponents of sappy lyrics as mentioned in the intro above, they can be forgiven for the stirring, bluesy rock and great sounds from Julien Kasper's constantly phased guitar. Half time, and high time for some proper country rock appreciation with the barn-storming Marshall Tucker Band, from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Signed up to Capricorn Records on their formation, which was the haven of many southern rock standard-bearers like the The Allman Brothers Band, and more surprisingly, the mighty Captain Beyond. They had a long career and are still playing now.

A very young Travis Wammack
Epitaph are a curve-ball inclusion here, a German band, oft described as krautrock, that was very obviously influenced by southern rock. I have used them once before on Vol10 and "Paradise For Sale" was a single b-side from 1973. They had a few tours in America towards the later 70s and like lots of bands here, began to aim for a more commercial stadium sound, they still play occasionally now. Born in 1946, Mississippi's Travis Wammack was a child prodigy guitarist. His first record was issued at twelve years old, at 17 he entered the American charts with an instrumental called "Scratchy". He was employed as a session musician for Fame records, and after a few unsuccessful solo albums he became Little Richard's band leader, he still plays today. This track is taken from his first album, and it shows what an all-round superb musician he was, only adding to the quality of the source material with his impressive voice and southern swagger. A great Travis article is here.

George Hatcher Band
After Tony Bourge quite Budgie in 1978 he was replaced by a guitarist called John Thomas, who played all their subsequent albums until 2000. The reason for this mention is that before Budgie, John was bass player in the George Hatcher Band. George Hatcher was originally from South Carolina, after being a roadie and singer for a few minor acts he sought his fortune in London, UK and his first band was "Stark Naked and the Car Thieves." Two of his first band mates being drummer Stuart Copeland of the later famed Police and Darrell Way of Curved Air. He formed the George Hatcher Band in 1976, which also included Renaissance drummer Terry Slade (who feature on Vol49) There is a great interview with George here. He has since returned to the US where his band still plays.

Kid Dynamite was started by two former members of the Steve Miller Band. Two very rare LP's were released on two different labels, made even harder to find and make sense of by the fact they both came out in 1976 and were both self-titled. Whatever became of them, they made some soulful and slightly funky rock, and a footnote to the story is that their track "Uphill Peace of Mind" was sampled by Dr. Dre on "Nuttin But a G Thang" and by Ultramagnetic MC's on "Feelin' It". Swampgas were from New York and are another band without much history to go on. Their only album, from 1972, was a curious mix of southern influenced rock and pedestrian, mostly acoustic stuff. The two or three good tracks really are rather good though and I used one already on Vol57. Time for sappy lyrics number 2, over great hard rockin'. A very rare piece of Southern Rock from the Cajun areas of Louisiana, only 1000 copies of the self-titled Lafauci were pressed. The band was led by Sal Lafauci (vocals, drums & organ), other members were Chip Weil (bass), Steve Dodds (guitars) and Keith Guidroz (guitar). Guests were Billy Stroud (synthesizer) and Sonny Wall (piano, organ, synthesizer, etc).

Dirty Tricks
Memphis's Target were an early job for Survivor vocalist Jimi Jamison. They made a couple of albums from 1976-7 and 'Runaway' is taken from 1977's 'Captured'. Solid and groovy, sometimes verging on metallic, riffing a-plenty can be found here. This southern-fried volume ends on a UK band, Dirty Tricks. Many of you will be familiar with them already and they were a fave of co-conspirators LibertyCap's and Zischkale's comps. By the time of the third album, their sound had changed, becoming more commercial and further distanced from the first album which had a fair amount of Sabbath-inspiration. ‘Black Diamond’ had a great southern feel to it though. I just read an interesting fact that after Dirty Trick’s demise they rehearsed as Ozzy Osbourne’s backing band during his brief split with Sabbath in 1977, though that ended when Ozzy went back to Sabbath. Some more info on Dirty Tricks can be found here.

Thanks for listening! Rich

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  1. Another great one Rich, Thank you!!

    1. No problem Ron, I really enjoyed this one, it's a lot of fun!

  2. Wow! Very generous. Thank you.

    Teeder from Ripple

  3. Thanks mate, great track choosing!

  4. wow, enjoying your blog! listening them all through, making best ofs, and best of best of, cause theres plenty... :)!!!
    phuckin cool man!

  5. Just found youe site through Prog Not Frog. Great comps! Will retuen soon. Thanks.

  6. i was so excited for listen this compilation! truly awesome ! congratulations rich!

  7. No offence, but i feel that this one isn't up to your usual standards.
    Perhaps you should have elisted help from someone more familiar with this Southern Rock style of music when selecting the tracklist.
    Either way, keep up the goood work.

    1. Hi Thommo, maybe you could suggest some more bands of higher quality than what I chose, which are still relatively obscure? I am extremely happy with every track, and I think I struck a great balance of obscurity (e.g. Lafauci, Albatross) and hard-rocking quality (Point Blank, Blackfoot). Thanks, Rich.

  8. Hey Rich, Just came across your blog. I have a little more information for you on the band Albatross. Some of the other members were Chris Massie-guitar, Rudy Weaver-Bass(his cousin is Huey Thomasson, who play with the Outlaws and Lynyrd Skynyrd), and Joe Campbell-drums. Gary still lives in Virginia, Mike lives in South Caroline, Chris Massie lives here in Texas with me and is still rockin Southern Style. He was really excited to see your blog. Thanks for making his day.


    1. Thanks Jennie, would it be possible to talk further about Albatross?
      Please email me on
      Cheers, Rich.

  9. We thank you for listening, not you.

  10. This one was fantastic Rich. I discovered quite a few few Southern Rock bands I had never heard of, like Albatross. I wish that was out on CD. I can't even find a boot. I would kill for a Vol. 2!!!!

  11. This one was fantastic Rich. I discovered quite a few few Southern Rock bands I had never heard of, like Albatross. I wish that was out on CD. I can't even find a boot. I would kill for a Vol. 2!!!!

    1. Hi Monte, yeah that Albatross album needs a reissue. Can you find it in MP3 ok? I can send it if not...