Welcome to another instalment of heavy nugget searches. This one is dedicated to the wonderful sound of guitar played with a slide, and the expressive, snarling, powerful sound that humble slide guitar can make, especially when driven through a hard-rock guitarist's amp! As usual, the tracks here are not just slide guitar, but hard rock / blues rock with slide, with Highway Robbery being one of the heaviest.
I'm happy to say this volume also brings nine new bands to the blog, with a few like Possessed and Sam Apple Pie that some may have considered conspicuous by their absence so far.
Although a technique traditionally of the afro-american blues heroes, the majority of acts here are from all kinds of places including the UK, Hungary & Australia, showing the draw that blues rock has all over the world, and still does!
01. Nobody's Business - Bleed Me Dry (1978)
from album 'Nobodys Business'
02. Gun - Drown Yourself In The River (1969)
from album 'Gunsight'
03. Jukin' Bone - Nightcrawler (1972)
from album 'Way Down East'
04. Climax Chicago Blues Band - Reap What I've Sowed (1970)
from album 'A Lot Of Bottle'
05. Band Of Light - The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1973)
from album 'Total Union'
06. SNAFU - Lock And Key (1975)
from album 'All Funked Up'
07. Mushroom - Gulf Of Mexico (1978)
from album 'Freedom You're A Woman'
08. Terry Stamp - Itchy Feet (1975)
from album 'Fatsticks'
09. Castle Farm - Island In The Sun (1972)
from album 'The Studio Sessions 1971-72'
10. Sam Apple Pie - Old Tom (1972)
from album 'East 17'
11. Locomotiv GT - Ő Még Csak Most 14. (1973)
from album 'Bummm!'
12. Shanghai - Let's Get The Hell Off This Highway (1976)
from album 'Fallen Heroes'
13. Possessed - Reminiscing (1971)
from album 'Exploration'
14. Highway Robbery - Promotion Man (1972)
from album For 'Love Or Money'
15. Yancy Derringer - Weedburner (1975)
from album 'Openers'
Nobody's Business was a band of old hands which lasted briefly in the late '70s, consisting of Bobby Harrison (Procol Harum, SNAFU), Tony Stevens (Savoy Brown. Foghat), Joe Jammer (Olympic Runners) and Jerry Frank (session drummer). They recorded an eponymous LP in Nice, France and some promo videos were made, which were produced by Gerry Anderson's wife, Sylvia Anderson! The Nobody's Business LP offers some good boogie rock and 'Bleed Me Dry' is filled with Joe's great slide guitar. Angel Air reissued it, including six of the promo videos on DVD, in 2007 (link).
|Gun - 'Gunsight' - 1969|
Sounding completely different to 'Race With The Devil' for instance, Adrian Gurvitz's performance in 'Drown Yourself In The River' sounds like something straight out of the Deep South.
|Jukin' Bone (1972)|
Way Down East LP
Out front, moving with the lissome grace of a jungle cat, is Joe Whiting, whose visage (a mixture of Marlon Brando and Paul Newman when those two were young and scarily beautiful to behold) belies the gut vocals he emits with the fervor of a Marjoe gone wild on rock and roll.
|Jukin' Bone (1972)|
Way Down East LP
Laying out what can only be described as the band's "stone down funk" is John DeMaso who brings his brand of bass all the way from Caracas, Venezuela. And, underneath, down at the bottom where the beat that won't quit is, there are the two drummers, Danny and Kevin, kicking the bone along, stickin' it, so to speak, to Whiting, booting him into the physical and vocal runs that give Jukin' Bone its flavour. This Jukin' Bone is a moving, dance-to-it force. This Jukin' Bone has meat on it. How's your Jukin' Bone?" - written by: Elliot Horne, RCA press agent and jazz writer (link).
The British Climax Chicago Blues Band, which was just one variation of the name they used, now usually known as 'Climax Blues Band', are still going, as can be seen at their website (link). Through the years they've had many members and many links to other bands, too many to go into in detail here! I really like the track 'Reap What I've Sowed' which is taken from the third LP, 1970's 'A Lot Of Bottle'. I love it when that aggressive slide riff kicks in, it was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for to go in this set! The slide player on this record was Pete Haycock, who sadly passed away in 2013.
Pete Haycock circa 2008
|Band Of Light|
Here's a snipet from the essential Aussie rock site, Milesago (link): "Band Of Light's distinctive blues-rock sound was built around the dual slide guitar work of Key and their other superb guitarist, Norm Roue (who had come from Sydney band Gutbucket). Peter Roberts left after only three shows and was replaced by Ian Rilen, who was to become a fixture on the Australian rock scene in the '70s and '80s. The band worked consistently on the Sydney and Melbourne pub/festival/dance circuits, alongside other staple acts of the day like Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Carson, Coloured Balls, Chain, Madder Lake and Buffalo."
As it says, slide guitar was Band of Light's forte and 'The Four Horseman' from the album 'Total Union' funks and grooves along with the great combination of wah and slide that makes them distinctive. A real ass-shaker this one.
The sixth track is from another act with Bobby Harrison at the mic. SNAFU was started by Bobby (post-Freedom), along with Mick Moody fresh from Juicy Lucy and Harrison's solo record 'Funkist'. They made three records with differing lineups but never quite cracked the big time, although they did garner some success and tour widely.
One song in particular grabbed me, being 'Lock and Key', which actually appeared on both their final two records in different versions. This version is from the third and final LP 'All Funked Up', and is the heaviest, most stomping of the two. I listened through the SNAFU albums some time ago and initially wasn't that impressed, although the musicianship is top-notch it wasn't generally a sound that I liked, but some time after that Monte Conner (Nuclear Blast, formerly of Roadrunner Records) posted this live performance of Lock And Key in the tdats fb group and I realised this one is a kick-ass tune and perfect for a planned slide comp, so thanks for that Monte!
SNAFU appearing on UK TV's 'Supersonic' in 1975
Freedom You're A Woman
Another point of note is the art work on the album, a large hand-drawn mushroom, (phallic overtones maybe? could explain the track 'Comin For You') that doesn't give any idea of the music within, being more suited to some other mushroom-related bands, like late '60s psychedelic offering The Sacred Mushroom or the Irish folk-rockers 'Mushroom'. The same opinion could be leveled at the reason for the cover art, the band's name. It's not a name/image I would have chosen for their music, but then I guess I haven't been eating the particular variety of mushroom they presumably were at the time!
Fatsticks has an interesting story behind it that can be read at the Terry Stamp/Jim Avery website (link) and I recommend reading it, it's a great example of talented musicians making an album in an off-the-cuff way and going about their business afterwards without thinking about it again, like it was just another day's work for a musician back then.
|Terry Stamp - Fatsticks|
link). Aside from a great single the band didn't release an album, but Steve has since made some recordings available via 'The Studio Sessions 1971-72'. They were retrieved from a low-grade tape so sound quality is not the best, but it's still good enough to enjoy Gram 'Tex' Benike's ripping guitar that propels the track 'Island In The Sun', seven minutes of slide heaven which doesn't let up and doesn't get boring.
It's certainly a shame we never got to hear a real album from these guys as it would surely have been excellent.
|Sam Apple Pie - East 17|
The slide skills come from Andy 'Snakehips' Johnson, who seems to have been a main member of the band but I cannot uncover much else about him, other than he reportedly passed away in 2010. The track 'Old Tom' certainly displays a great array of slide and lead guitar grooving, lead coming from Denny Barnes who I haven't found much about either, other than he was previously in Portsmouth bands Blues Convention, Whiskey River and Gilbey Twiss. Two members of SAP left after their first record to join pub-rockers Help Yourself.
|Locomotive GT - Bummm!|
|Shanghai - Fallen Heroes|
|Possessed - Exploration|
‘Exploration‘ was originally intended for release in 1971 but ultimately never saw the light of day. The band were finally on the verge of signing a major deal when tragedy struck. Whilst returning home from a gig in Carlisle on October 21st 1976, the band’s van drove into a stationary tanker, taking the lives of all three band members."
'For Love Or Money'
Here's the Californian's own introduction from the back cover: "Declaration. For Love Or Money, Highway Robbery hereby dedicates itself to roar, to drive, to sensitive joy and, above all, the emission of the highest levels of energy rock. Let it be known that Michael Stevens - lead guitarist, vocalist, writer of all material contained herein, child of a gypsy commune - carries out this pledge in the true manner of his forebears. Further be it known that he is in allegiance with Don Francisco, drummer, lead singer and a New York native whose main influences have been traditional New Orleans-based bands such as Robert Parker and the Royals and Deacon John and the Ivories, and with John Livingston Tunison IV, bassman, vocalsit and painter who's first sound-memories are of Muddy Waters and B.B. King........For Love Or Money: Signed, sealed and created by the aforementioned Highway Robbery, in this age, on this day, in the name of storming, beautiful rock and roll."
'Promotion Man' is a desperate and maybe satirical plea to music promoters to plug Highway Robbery like crazy, packed with V8-revving slide guitar from Michael Stevens. Drummer Don Francisco was previously in Atlee, who made a worth-hearing record in 1970. Julian Cope has written a great article about Highway Robbery at his Head Heritage site (link).
link), who later became known as The Vers. In comparison to Weedburner, the rest of the album is forgettable, I've forgotten it any way, and I really don't care as Weeburner is so fantastic I can forgive them for anything.
Through the power of slide guitar and constant, disorientating pitch-shifts, guitarist Boyd 'Zoid' Williamson has managed to put in a performance which dominates a song that actually has the power to make you feel like you're high. Of all the 'stoner rock' I have ever heard, this one actually is intoxicating, stoned rock, rather than just rock music for stoners. Hear it and believe it, and it's all down to the humble guitar played with a slide.
Long shall they let it slide!