Showing posts with label Iron Claw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iron Claw. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2011

Exclusive TDATS interview with Jim Ronnie from Iron Claw.

Scotland's Iron Claw will be well-known to many of you. Their seminal 70's recordings languished in boot leg limbo for many decades until the first rays of light appeared when Rockadrome Records presented Iron Claw's first ever official release, a lovingly remastered collection of 1970-74 recordings.

This release showed how much fan interest there was bubbling away, hungrily waiting for a properly presented document of the ahead-of-their time band and later Ripple Music snapped them up, signing them for an album of all-new material. 'A Different Game' was released at the beginning of October 2011 to critical approval and as an avid consumer of all that was obscure in the hard rock world, I have contacted Jim Ronnie, guitarist with Iron Claw, for an exclusive TDATS interview.

I love that some of these bands, such as Iron Claw, who really showed their skills were comparative to the commercial greats of the time but just never got the breaks they deserved, are getting the belated chance to show what they are made of, playing live again and releasing new material! After recruiting a new singer in the form of Gordon Brown for 'A Different Game', they have played a number of shows this year already.

Unfortunately Gordon his since parted ways with the band, but his awesome performance is there for all the hear on the new disk, along with the rest of the original members' storming performances.

So, take it away Jim....

Q1. I read some comments once by Alex Wilson (Iron Claw's founding member and bass player) regarding a demo tape that you guys handed to Black Sabbath in your early years and how the end result wasn't so great for Iron Claw. Can you elaborate on the story and tell us your thoughts on it?
Jim: The Black Sabbath / Iron Claw story is already well documented and there isn't really much to add to it. We first met Sabbath at Dumfries Youth Club in 1969 and it was that night that Alex made what I believe is the first live recording of the band. (Black Sabbath now have sole rights to this recording). They were pretty bluesy and heavy as hell but I guess that's no surprise! Over the following months we saw and met up with them a few times and eventually went to see them at Newcastle City Hall and handed them a copy of our recently recorded album. This was the Iron Claw album that we recorded in London with Mike Waller on vocals. Songs that have recently been remastered and released by Rockadrome Records such as Crossrocker, Sabotage, Skullcrusher. We got to hear that Sabbath's management were not to happy with us upstarts producing this style of heavy rock and that was that. No big deal really.

Q2. The confident new album 'A Different Game' is now out, and it sounds like you guys have never been away! What are your thoughts on how it's been received in the short time since it's release?
Jim: The reaction to the new album has been amazing. Lots of critics have taken the time to review the album and I'm pleased to say the great majority have been 100% behind us. There have been a couple of blogs dissapointed at not getting the proto-doom Iron Claw of 1970 but hey, things move on. Interesting that you should say that it sounds like we have never been away because that's exactly how it felt as soon as the recording process started. This was not a difficult album to make. This is Iron Claw really getting back to our roots with blues-based heavy guitar rock and just laying it down with the minimum of production.

Q3. Gordon Brown puts in a great performance on the new album. How did you get together with him, and were there ever plans for Willie Davidson to sing again?
Jim: I agree. Gordon has done a fine job on the album. He was recommended to us by a friend. It was originally intended that Willie Davidson take the vocalist job but it didn't happen as planned. As you know, Gordon and the band parted company shortly after the album launch so we are now in the process of finding his replacement. Hopefully this shouldn't take too long as we're keen to get back on the road. There have been a few great singers offering their services already and we're confident that we'll be back very soon.

Q4. Apart from the new vocals, did Gordon inspire or contribute any other new elements to Iron Claw's sound on 'A Different Game'.
Jim: Gordon wrote lyrics for 10 of the 13 songs on the album.

Q5. Where abouts did you record 'A Different Game'?
Jim: The album was recorded in Alex's place in Dumfries, "Sair Heid Studios". The name being a reference to the height of the cellar door frame and nothing to do with a hangover!

Q6. Can you tell us a little about how the new material developed and how the recording sessions were?
Jim: There are three of the songs on the album that are brand new and written during the recording sessions. The rest of them have their beginnings in 1970's Iron Claw or are songs previously written by Alex or myself. For example "What Love Left" and "Love Is Blind" started life as songs played live in 1973 but were never recorded then. In all cases though songs were stripped bare and reworked to give them a contempoary feel.

Q7. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to see Iron Claw live yet, how did the recent show in Gretna go and how were the new and old songs received?
Jim: Gretna went really well as did the previous and first outing at Comlongon Rocks the week before. I've got to say though that the official album launch at Barlinnie Prison was something very special. This is one gig that I will never forget. It was a very frosty reception that we got from a few hundred sober prisoners when we took to the stage that night. We were obviously facing a huge task in winning these guys round. But we did win them round and witnessing the audience warm to us was immensly satisfying. The resulting shared experience was pure magic. Governor Derek McGill reported that the buzz lasted for days!

Q8. How was it playing the old material for the first time since Iron Claw's brief reformation for the Jock McBain tribute show in 1993?
Jim: We never got to play any of the old stuff at the live shows so far. All the material played was from "A Different Game".

Q9. What became of Jock's old band 'Smart As The Devil', that you continued to play with for a few years?
Jim: Willie Davidson was at the heart of "Smart as the Devil" and when he retired and left the band we carried on for a short time but it wasn't to last. I enjoyed my time with them. We played mostly covers of other rock bands but always put our own stamp on the songs and made them our own. Stuff like James Gang, ZZ Top, Bob Segar, Led Zep, Small Faces, Taste etc.

Q10. Iron Claw continues to inspire modern rock bands and fans, especially in the scenes that I am personally interested in. Do you listen to much new music, or recent releases from established bands, and if so could you name some?
Jim: My personal listening is quite varied although I've got to admit to being somewhat consumed by my own music when I'm in the middle of creating it. Recently I've got into the new Chickenfoot album (I do like Mr Satriani).

Q11. Finally, can you give us any scoops regarding the future for Iron Claw, like upcomming shows or ideas for more new music?
Jim: The plan right now is a simple one. Get the new singer worked into the band and get out there and blast out songs from "A Different Game" and some of the earlier songs too. Ripple Music have already said they would be keen to release another album as long as its as "kick ass" as this one. That's for a few months down the line but something we're already looking forward to.

Jim: Huge thanks to you for taking an interest in Iron Claw and for the support you continue to give us. Rock on!

Thanks a lot Jim, and good luck with what 2012 brings for Iron Claw!
The new album can be bought from Ripple on CD, or from CDbaby for a digital download.

Further references: Iron Claw on Facebook.

Thanks for reading!! Rich.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Day After The Sabbath 25: Cantrips [Scotland special]

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password:  tdats
can·trip  (kntrp)
1. Scots; A magic spell; a witch's trick.

TDATS 25 features Scottish bands. A selection of The Pictish nation's finest vintage rock practitioners. Iron Claw shouldn't be too much of a mystery by now, they were a band who seems to have shown great promise, picking up on the Sabbath sound very early and matching it in places with undeniable talent, unfortunatley luck was not on their side and they have only recently had an official release, after years of lurking in bootleg limbo. Bodkin play some great dark prog and Iron Virgin peddled some good glam with decent heaviness (and a hilarious image). Holocaust are here as a late entry, I was looking for late-70s NWOBHM and really had a tough time finding Scottish examples, until I found Holocaust, who formed in 1977. The band on track 11 were a pop group who on occasion delved into heavier territory and "Í've been around too long" is a great track. Many thanks to the various knowledgable people at,, and for their insight which has helped me research these bands.

01. Tentacle - Intro (1971)
02. Iron Claw - Straight Jacket (1972)
03. Bodkin - Plastic Man (1972)
04. The Human Beast - Reality Presented as an Alternative (1970)
05. Iron Virgin - Shake That Fat (1974)
06. Soho Orange - Nightmare (1971)
07. Tentacle - Tentacle (1971)
08. Writing On The Wall - It Came On A Sunday (1969)
09. Forever More - Promisses of Spring (1970)
10. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - The Faith Healer (1973)
11. Light of Darkness - Freedom Fight (1971)
12. Tear Gas - Where Is My Answer (1971)
13. Holocaust - Out Of My Book (1980)
14. Marmalade - I've Been Around Too Long (1971)
15. Tentacle - Epitaph (1971)

Thanks for listening.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Day After The Sabbath 7: Rooms Behind Your Mind

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Unzip password:  tdats
Here is my 7th compilation in the Day After The Sabbath series. I have recently revamped it; using some better sound quality files and adding a write-up, so here we go!

Bedlam was a short-lived band that made one album in 1972. They included Cozy Powell and Dennis Ball, who both played together briefly in The Ace Kefford Stand and Big Bertha. Cozy was of course a well-known drummer, later to be  associated with acts like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, The Michael Schenker Group and Whitesnake. There is an interview with Bedlam's bass player here at Psychedelic Baby webzine.

Crank are an excellent obscurity that was unearthed by the wonderful Rockadelic records and if you like this (you will) then get the whole thing here (you should).

Variations were by far one of the most accomplished French bands I have discovered and also feature on the French Vol45. They pulled-off a great Led Zeppelin-inspired sound.

Geordie was a long-running Newcastle, UK band that was the springboard for AC/DC's Brian Johnson. They were more of a gritty boogie rock/blues band and 'So What' has killer slide guitar which I always have a soft spot for.

Killing Floor
Killing Floor made two albums in 69-70 and their lineup reads like a bit of a TDATS who's who; they included Mick Hawksworth (Andromeda), Michael "Mick" Clarke (Toe Fat) and Chris Sharley (Sassafras) amoungst other notable names.

Thirsty Moon were a Krautrock band formed in Bremen, northwest Germany and this comp's namesake 'Rooms Behind Your Mind' is slice of heavy prog in the best way possible; evil, jarring and in-human.

September started out as psych band from Amsterdam who made few a singles and later recorded an album called 'Cargo', with a harder rocking sound. They also have connections to Brainbox and the more successful symphonic/jazz proggers Ekseption. "After releasing some singles under the September name they decided they wanted to record an album. Their manager, John van Setten, thought it would be a good idea to not put a bandname on the cover to make the media curious who would be behind it and by this, hopefully sell more albums. Unfortunately it did not work. Nobody gave a damn apparently, and it sold very poorly, making it a very rare album nowadays." Also the band is now generally referred to as "Cargo" rather than September, because of this. Thanks to Mark for this info.

Fire are one of those blogger's faves that there seems to be little concrete info on, but they were eastern europen (maybe Croatian or Yugoslavian) and reputedly recorded and album in the Netherlands called 'Could You Understand Me'.  All you really need to know is it's a manic fuzz monster! [EDIT: recently there has been an interview with Fire guitarist Juraj Havidić here at the Psychedelic Baby webzine]
Iron Claw
Iron Claw don't need too much of an intro from me, suffice to say 'Rock Band Blues' rocks like hell and I have interviewed guitarist Jim Ronnie on this very blog here so take a gander.

Pappo's Blues was the love child of legendary Argentinian guitarist Norberto Napolitano (Pappo). If you haven't acquainted yourself with him yet you are seriously missing out, and taking a look at the south american Vol43 would be a great way to start...

Sunbury Festival 1972
San Francisco's Shiver and their sludgy fuzz-wah jams are TDATS / Blue Cheerful heaven and another great revelation from Rockadelic while Thunder And Roses were a similarly excellent obscurity re-issued by Lizzard records, these guys coming more from the Creamy heavy blues angle.

We end on another TDATS familiar, Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs. 'Time To Live' is taken from their "Aztecs Live! at Sunbury" double-LP which documents their storming performance at the historic Australian outdoor festival in Victoria.

01. Bedlam - Putting On The Flesh (1973)
       from album 'bedlam'
02. Crank - Give You My Love (1970)
       from split ep 'a night in the cave'
03. Variations - Generations (1970)
       from album 'nador'
04. Geordie - So What (1974)
       from album 'don't be fooled by the name'
05. Killing Floor - Out Of Uranus (1970)
       from album 'out of uranus'
06. Thirsty Moon - Rooms Behind Your Mind (1972)
       from album 'thirsty moon'
07. September - One More Change [demo] (1970)
       from retrospective 'cargo'
08. Fire - Could You Understand Me (1973)
       from album 'could you understand me'
09. Iron Claw - Rock Band Blues (1970)
       from retrospective 'iron claw'
10. Pappo's Blues - Especies (1971)
       from album 'pappo's blues'
11. Shiver - Up My Sleeve (1972)
       from retrospective 'san francisco's shiver'
12. Thunder And Roses - Open Up Your Eyes (1969)
       from album 'king of the black sunrise'
13. Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs - Time To Live (1972)
       from album 'aztecs live! at sunbury'

Thanks for listening! Rich.

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