Hobo : Same Title – Different Rock Classic

The title “Hobo” [and lyrical subject] is another widely used amongst bands in the ’70s and ’80s. Aside from just the 6 tracks I chose here, there’s plenty of songs with ‘hobo’ in the title or lyrics. There was a few others with the same title in the ’60s [UK band The Outlaws, and US band Good Rats]. Heck, Whitesnake’s huge hit “Here I Go Again” was about a hobo, originally done with the lyric “like a hobo I was born to walk alone” – Coverdale altered the word hobo to ‘drifter’ when the song was redone [and became a hit] in 1987 concerned people might think he was singing something else. Weird. Actually, I don’t hear the term hobo used often much anymore; a hobo being a homeless person, drifter, vagrant…

Anywayz….

The Gun

From the band’s second album. [The] Gun was a trio, consisting of Adrian and Paul Gurvitz, as well as drummer Louie Farrell. The Gurvitz’ had been a part of late 60s band The Knack, who recorded a number of singles, while Farrell had recorded with Bulldog Breed. I prefer the band’s 2nd album GunSight, though the debut may be better known, as it was the first to feature Roger Dean artwork. “Hobo” is a fine, lighter number, based on acoustic guitar, with soft vocals and harmonies, and slide guitar, giving this a bit of a southern feel. Nice blend of guitars – [acoustic, slide, electric], as the track picks up a bit, then fades out. This song fits perfectly in this album that is a brilliant mix of hard rock, psychedelia, and acoustics. Great vocals and songs. A shame there wasn’t a third album, as the band split with the Gurvitz brothers going on to Three Man Army [w/ drummer Mike Kellie of Spooky Tooth], and later The Baker-Gurvitz Army [w/ Ginger Baker]. No idea what became of Farrell. Footnote- early on the band hired Jon Anderson as lead singer, and had an organ player; both were soon let him go.

Bullet / Hard Stuff

This track was initially recorded by Bullet and released as a single in 1971. It was the band featuring former Atomic Rooster members John Du Cann [aka Cann], and Paul Hammond, as well as John Gustafson [ex Quatermass, and singer Harry Shaw. The band took on the name Daemon, then Bullet, after realizing they couldn’t use the Atomic Rooster name [Vincent Crane owned it]. They then changed name to Hard Stuff [due to another band of the same name Bullet in the US], and let Shaw go. So the track was re-done with new vocals by Du Cann for the first Hard Stuff album Bulletproof, released in 1972. A little guitar build up, and this one kicks in to a heavy riff. It’s straight ahead guitar, bass , drums rocker here; great guitar playing and vocals , cool slide guitar. Standout track on a classic album! This stuff has all been re-issued on Purple Records [2017].

Lucifer’s Friend

This rocker leads off the 2nd album by this German band titled Where The Groupies Killed The Blues from 1972. Cool jazzy intro, with John Lawton coming in with those vocals [screams] early on, similar to “Ride The Sky”; maybe this rocker was trying to recapture the same feel of their debut single[?], but there’s much more going on here than a straight ahead proto-metal classic based on a heavy riff. This track, co-written by Lawton and [guitarist] Peter Hesslein was also issued as a single in Spain & Germany. Lyrically written from the perspective of a hobo, who is really just kinda complaining how his life is no fun, on the run. Great track, and I love the guitar soloing here, as well as the Hesslein’s playing out til the end, great bass, piano, drum sound … a good bit of funk, jazz, hard-rock… Co-produced by Herbert Hildebrandt and Conny Plank [RIP]. RIP – Dieter Horns [19.12.20]

Shanghai

This UK blues/funk/soul rock band featured Mick Green on guitar, who had a long history going back to Johnny Kidd & The Pirates in the ’60s, and was a big influence on the likes of Pete Thownsend, Wilko Johnson, and Mick Box . The band also included Chuck Bedford [vocals, harmonica], who had previously recorded for Motown act Celebration. Mike Demain [bass, keyboards], and Pete Kircher [drums, vocals], and featured backing singer Barbara Bedford. Shanghai started as Fresh Meat, releasing 2 singles – one of which was “Hobo”; they then released a single prior to this album under the band name ‘Hobo’. This track is a great funk/soul number, that kicks off side 2. Kinda slower tempo’d, that reminds me in parts of David Essex’s “Rock On”, but then picks up during the chorus, with sweet backing vocals and guitar. Bedford and Demain both left following this debut album and legendary British soul singer Cliff Bennett was brought in for the band’s 2nd [and final album]. Bedford would record a couple of solo singles, but I’ve found no info on him [or Demain] after that. Peter Kirchner would turn up in Status Quo for a bit in the ’80s, and Mick Green would go on to reform [and record with] The Pirates. *Anyone have this LP? I need a copy!

Triumph

The first single[A-side] by Canadian band Triumph in 1975 was penned by Larry Leischman of Rhinoceros. The single was recorded before guitarist Rik Emmett joined the band, and featured founding members Gil Moore [drums, vocals], Mike Levine [bass], Fred Keeler [guitar], and Peter Young [organ]. Neat guitar intro from Keeler, who had a great history, having played with the likes of David Clayton Thomas in The Shays, and recorded albums with The Majestics [1968] and Jericho [1971, produced by Todd Rundgren!]. Not a bad hard rock track, decent enough as a single; the playing is great, and Gil Moore’s vocal isn’t bad. Definitely has an early Canadian sound to it, and a very different sounding band to what Triumph became big with a few years later. Both Keeler and Young left around the time of the single’s release, with Rik Emmett joining shortly after, and presumably this track was quickly forgotten. Haven’t found much info on what became of Peter Young, tho’ he did write a book – Let’s Dance : A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions. Freddie Keeler has been hailed as an integral member of the Toronto sound of the ’60s, and sadly passed away in July of 2019 [RIP]. I’ve yet to find any pics of this line-up of the band [or in it’s original name – Abernathy Shagnaster].

Rough Diamond

This is from the band and lone LP released immediately after David Byron’s departure from Uriah Heep. I really like this album. The band and album were over-hyped in some of the press, and the album wasn’t much of a success, and band soon folded. This one is a band composition with a neat intro / hook from from Clem Clempson, and a great vocal from David Byron, who seems to tell the story of a guy going from woman to woman and getting rejected, before admitting he was wrong and returns to the one he initially left. A decent rocker, with a mix of guitar and organ, and a cool quiet instrumental section that kicks back into the main riff, before dropping down again into a sorta jazzy keyboard and saxophone section, throw in some more guitar, more piano, synths… clocking in at nearly 6 minutes, over half of this track is instrumental, and eventually fades in to the next cut, a short keyboard instrumental by Damon Butcher titled “The Link”. Co-engineered by the legendary Richard Digby Smith, who would later produce Byron’s last recordings.

KJJ. 12/20

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