Tag Archives: 70s rock

NAZARETH : Loud ‘n’ Proud, by Martin Popoff

May be an image of 2 people, including Stuart Smith, people playing musical instruments and guitar

Loud ‘n’ Proud is the title of Martin Popoff’s brand new book. It’s a visual history of the band, much like some of his previous ones in this series – Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, BOC…. below is the press info / details from Martin.

Nazareth: A Visual Biography is my weighty 1.65 kg, 8 ½” x 12” hardback coffee table book on Scottish hard rockers Nazareth. Easy PayPal buttons right here: http://www.martinpopoff.com/html/nazareth-a-visual-biography.html The chief mission is to celebrate the entire 50 years of the band’s hard-working career, utilizing my time-honored detailed timeline and quotes format. But that’s just the start. Besides the fully 52,000 words of academic timeline framing and commentary from the band in their own words, the book features fully 615 pictures, placed reverently upon sumptuous 100 lb. gloss paper. “Now you’re messin’…” Dunfermline, Scotland’s finest may not sound like much of a boast, but Nazareth made sure the world heard them howl, staking their claim first down in London but then conquering in sequence Canada, Germany, Russia and Brazil, all territories that remain huge Naz-lovers to this day.

Happy bassist Pete Agnew has been a constant throughout—running the ship in fact—but perhaps most notorious through the lineups that have flown this proud banner through the years has been vocalist Dan McCafferty, forced to the sidelines recently due to respiratory issues, much to the sorrow of millions of fans around the globe. But as Pete has said, “You don’t retire from this business—you do it until you die,” and so the band carries on, now with Carl Sentance singing up a storm, in front of a lineup of consummate songwriters and musicians that has been stable for an astonishing run of beloved recent albums. But it is of course the material from the glory years that keeps packing the venues.

Scotland wouldn’t be on the rock ‘n’ roll map without the likes of Razamanaz, Loud ‘n’ Proud, Hair of the Dog, Expect No Mercy and No Mean City going gold and platinum across more territories than most bands can find on a map, let alone having been there. And inside of those records… well, classic rock radio would be a sadder place without “Broken Down Angel,” “Bad Bad Boy,” “Woke Up This Morning,” “This Flight Tonight,” “Hair of the Dog,” “Miss Misery,” Love Hurts,” “Telegram,” “Hearts Grown Cold” and “Dream On” at the level of constant rotation they still enjoy today. So come join the celebration, as Martin Popoff takes us through 50 years of Naz, utilizing his trusty timeline technique, with illuminating quotes along the way. But that’s just the academic side: Loud ‘n’ Proud – 50 Years of Nazareth is all about the pictorial, from live shots to posters, 45 sleeves, magazine ads, backstage passes, ticket stubs and promo items. That’s all here, decade by decade, creating a sumptuous historical document that is a feast for the eyes, hopefully consumed with a jar or two at the ready .

Again, the link to order is: http://www.martinpopoff.com/html/nazareth-a-visual-biography.html Books will be signed by me to you unless you wave your arms wildly and tell me otherwise within like half an hour of ordering. Price including shipping (yes, it’s higher than usual, but this is now ordered in very low quantities): US orders, $75.00 US funds; Int’l orders (air mail), $99.00 US funds; Canadian orders, $88.00, Cdn. Funds. If you would like a PayPal invoice, please indicate what country you are in and give me the email address you use at PayPal. Or just do yer usual and direct funds to martinp@inforamp.net . *Or mail payment (personal check in US funds, cash, or INTERNATIONAL money order), to: Martin Popoff, P.O. Box 65208, 358 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4K 2Z2. Email martinp@inforamp.net with any questions. Sweet postage savings to be had for multiple orders (or two of pretty much anything—long story, ask me!) for US orders.

10/’21

ALAN LANCASTER : RIP Original STATUS QUO Bass Player

My friend and major STATUS QUO Fan Alex Gitlin looks at the career and highlights of the band’s founding bass player.

RIP Alan Lancaster, the original bass player of Status Quo, the British blues-boogie institution, and the irreplaceable 1/4 of the Frantic Four

He passed away from multiple sclerosis on 26th September 2021 in Sydney, Australia, aged 72.

During their incredible run between the first album in 1968, Picturesque Matchstickable – Messages from the Status Quo, and his somewhat acrimonious split from the band in the mid-80s (he’d relocated to Australia in 1977), he performed on 12 top 10 UK albums and 17 top 10 UK singles.

Alan’s last gig with Quo, prior to the reunion in the 21st century, was opening the Live Aid at the Wembley Stadium in London.

In 2013-14, the original Frantic Four reunited for one last fling, touring the UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.  Each gig was greeted emotionally by fans who’d been waiting for this reunion since 1981, the year drummer John Coghlan departed.

Although by now there were signs of his debilitating disease beginning to show (at one point there were rumours of the pick being taped to his hand), he soldiered on with the “no time like the present” attitude, giving the fans exactly what they’d come for. His bass, alongside Coghlan’s drumming, was the locomotive engine that was the classic Quo rhythm section.

It was around 1970 when Quo had disposed of psychedelic frills and kaftans, replacing them with denim and growing their hair long. For the band’s third album, Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon, which tentatively pre-defined their to-be trademark sound, he wrote Daughter and Is it Really Me/Gotta Go Home.

The following year’s Dog of Two Head, the wheels were fully in motion, and here Alan contributed Umleitung (a co-write with keyboardist Roy Lynes), Something’s Going on in My Head, and Someone’s Learning.  This was also their last album for Pye, in 1972 Status Quo were signed to Vertigo.

On their breakthru 1972 Piledriver album, Alan co-wrote A Year with Bernie Frost and All The Reasons with Rick Parfitt.  He also sang lead on the cover of the Doors’ Roadhouse Blues, which became a live staple for the band.

On the 1973 stone-cold classic, Hello, the entire band wrote Roll Over Lay Down, UK No. 9 and top 10 in many countries in Europe; on Blue Eyed Lady, co-written by Alan and Rick Parfitt, the vocals were shared by Alan and Francis Rossi. And also he had a hand in writing Softer Ride (sung by Rossi).

On 1974’s Quo, he handled the lead vocals on four tracks, Backwater, Just Take Me, Drifting Away, and Don’t Think It Matters, and co-wrote six.

As the band was in the middle of a purple patch of hit singles and albums, 1975’s On The Level, considered by many as the finest in the band’s entire catalogue, he wrote Broken Man (also singing lead) and Over And Done.  And he handled the lead vocals on another cover, Chuck Berry’s Bye Bye Johnny, also a great live favorite.

1976’s Blue For You has Alan on lead vocals and writing contributions on the opener, Is There a Better Way, the seminal and bluesy title track, Rolling Home and Ease Your Mind.

By 1977, the tide was turning, Quo were a mainstay on the European rock circuit, selling out arenas in Germany, but their sound became a bit softer, although the writing quality remained steadfastly top-notch. Here on Rockin’ All Over The World Alan contributed Let’s Ride, You Don’t Own Me, co-written with Mick Green [of The Pirates], and Too Far Gone.

They continued to pursue the same direction of commercial British pop-rock with a boogie edge in 1978, with If You Can’t Stand the Heat…, here Alan’s contributions are Gonna Teach You To Love Me and Stones. By this time, Alan had moved residencies to Oz, while the relationship between the dynamic duo Rossi-Parfitt had soured due to the out-of-control use of drugs.

In 1979, Whatever You Want (the album) reached No. 4 in the UK, and here Alan contributed Who Asked You and High Flyer.  And the following year, on Just Supposin‘ – Over the Edge (a co-write with Keith Lamb), The Wild Ones and Name of the Game (co-written with Rossi and the band’s keyboardist Andy Bown).

1981’s Never Too Late also had two of Alan’s songs, Mountain Lady and Don’t Stop Me Now (once again a Bown co-write). And the following year’s cleverly titled 1+9+8+2 (equals 20, commemorating the twenty years since the band’s inception in 1962) had Alan’s I Love Rock and Roll, I Want The World To Know (another one co-written with Lamb) and Big Man (once again co-written with Mick Green).

Back To Back in 1983 became the final album for Alan Lancaster, who contributed Ol’ Rag Blues (co-written with Lamb) and Your Kind of Love, while he was reportedly distraught over Rossi’s Marguerita Time betraying the band’s classic heads-down no-nonsense boogie sound. When they appeared on BBC’s Top of the Pops to mime to the single, his place was taken by Jim Lea of Slade. Elsewhere on other television appearances, he was replaced with a cardboard cutout.

R.I.P. to the diamond geezer and the seminal part of classic Quo. Whether it’s his singing, bass playing or songwriting, he didn’t do things by halves, putting his heart and soul into what’s now regarded worldwide as the British rock legend.

Written by Alex Gitlin. Alex is part of the band Mad Painter – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1688232924794537/ . You can also check out his rock history & review site – https://alexgitlin.com/

Links:

http://www.statusquo.co.uk

http://www.quogigophry.net

http://www.statusquo.org.uk

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2021/09/28/alan-lancaster-bass-guitarist-underpinned-status-quos-hard-driving/

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-58698864

09 / ’21

PETER HESSLEIN – Talks About New Solo Album & New Lucifer’s Friend Compilation

For Lucifer’s Friend fans, despite the recent deaths of both Dieter Horns and John Lawton [Dec ’20 / June ’21], there are a couple of upcoming releases that will [hopefully] lift fans’ spirits. October will see the second solo release – Night Drive 2, from guitarist Peter Hesslein, and in December there will be the Lucifer’s Friend compilation The Last Stand. In this exchange Peter Hesslein gives some answers regarding both of these new releases, as well as future releases that fans can look forward to.

*For pre-ordering of both of these CDs check out > http://www.cherryred.co.uk

Regarding Night Drive albums: 

How was response to the first one? 

The reaction to the first Night Drive album was a huge surprise for me, with unanimously positive reviews, I had planned the album for myself to relax and to bridge the gap until the next Lucifer’s friends album for the loyal fans, I was initially a little insecure as the rock lovers can be felt, I was immediately motivated to find a successor with many good reactions, especially since John still had not started with the vocals, although the playbacks were completely finished.

When was the 2nd Night Drive recorded? and does it differ much from the first one?

Night Drive 2 was finished in May 21st, it’s a little more rocking than number one.

After so many years of working in bands or with other people, how did you enjoy recording solely for yourself?  

Working while listening to top musicians from all over the world naturally shaped me, as I have already done everything myself for Lucifer’s Friend and John had given the vocals, it was a habit for me.

Do you foresee yourself doing another such solo album, or is there something else [musical direction] you’d like to record in? 

I finished the recordings for Night Drive 3 and I even aimed it towards Brazilian music, inspired by my long-time friend and percussion player Pablo Escayola

Nice. when is this planned for release?

In May 2022.

Lucifer’s Friend :

The Last Stand compiles songs from the LF albums ’94 to 2019. Is this basically your own choices or how did you choose the tracks? 

The Last Stand was supposed to be the new Lucifer’s Friend album, as this wasn’t possible now, management decided to turn it into a sampler of tracks from the last four albums. I chose these songs in the sense of being John’s favorite songs.

Is there more Lucifer’s Friend stuff in the vaults that could be released — be they leftover studio tracks, demos…? 

Lucifer’s Friend only have playbacks without vocals.

You had mentioned previously a LF recording from Japan. Might this be something you could still release, and is there any other live recordings that was  could be issued? 

There is a live recording from Japan, but unfortunately the quality is too poor to be released.

Regarding the unfinished LF album –  I understand that everything was done except for the vocals!? If so, is this something that could be finished musically OR with ‘guest’ singers? 

The management has decided to close the chapter of Lucifer’s Friend for the time being.

Curious if there were any song titles [?]

Since John always wrote his lyrics shortly beforehand, so unfortunately, none exist.

Is there any chance we could still get proper CD reissues of the entire Lucifer’s Friend catalogue? [maybe a box set]

When the management gets the rights for a box set from the different companies, maybe at the end of ’23.

Is this something that is being planned with a particular record company? 

That is planned with Cherry Red. 

Might you consider writing a memoir of your career in music? 

My rheumatism makes it difficult to write.

Links:

https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/peter-hesslein-night-drive-2/

https://www.facebook.com/Lucifersfriendph

https://www.facebook.com/LucifersFriendOfficial

*Photos courtesy of Richard Wagner.

KJ, 09 / ’21

SPIRIT – Sunrise And Salvation [Box Set]

In my teenage years I came across Spirit, probably from “I Got A Line On You” or a few other classics on Toronto radio. I think I picked up the LP Spirit of ’84, with all the remakes of the few songs I knew. On one of my excursions to downtown Toronto with my uncle when I was 14 or 15 I picked up a number of Spirit albums in various used shops along Yonge Street – heck, I’ve still got a few stickers from those stores on my records! (Peter Dunn’s Vinyl Museum was a favorite stop). Years later I had written an address I found for Spirit in a magazine (I assume), as I was writing the odd review for a local music magazine. Sometime in late 1996 I received a package from their management, and it was a letter from Randy California, along with the band’s latest [and last] CD – California Blues. I reviewed it sometime soon after, and not too long after read that California had drowned off the coast of Hawaii. It was sad news indeed. I (obviously) still have that CD as well as the letter, which I will dig out and post here sometime.

• NEW REMASTERED EIGHT DISC BOXED SET FEATURING EACH ALBUM RECORDED BY THE LEGENDARY BAND SPIRIT RELEASED BY THE MERCURY LABEL
BETWEEN 1975 AND 1977 AND IN 1984
• PLUS 102 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED LIVE RECORDINGS AND DEMOS COMPILED BY SPRIT ARCHIVIST MICK SKIDMORE
• INCLUDES THE ALBUMS ‘SPIRIT OF ‘76’, ‘SON OF SPIRIT’, ‘FARTHER ALONG’, ‘FUTURE GAMES’, AND ‘THE THIRTEENTH DREAM (SPIRIT OF ’84)’
REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL MERCURY MASTER TAPES PLUS A BOOKLET WITH NEW ESSAY BY MICK SKIDMORE.


A very thorough 8 CD set from one of American’s classic late 60s / 70s bands. Sprit may be better known for their earlier material like The 12 Dreams Of Dr Sardonicus [the band’s 4th album] and the hits like “I Got A Line On You” and “Nature’s Way”, but the band carried on for years, and this box set compiles the band’s recordings during the mid 70s and 1984, while on Mercury Records. It includes the 5 albums recorded during this time, as well as a disc of demos & live tracks, a previously unreleased live show from ’75, a disc of studio outtakes from 74-75 + Randy California demos, and the 5 discs of the albums all contain a number of bonus tracks. There’s over a 100 previously unreleased tracks here! So safe to say a must have for Spirit fans.

This collection starts with 1975’s Spirit Of ’76, which saw a new line-up of the band. Following 1970’s highly successful-classic 12 Dreams Of Dr Sardonicus, Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes also left to form Jo-Jo Gunne, and following a riding accident and head injury Randy California also left, and would record a solo album Kaptain Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds. Founder/drummer Ed Cassidy and keyboardist John Locke recorded Feedback in ’72 with a new line-up, before Cassidy and California [his stepson] got back together and eventually created the double album – Spirit Of ’76. Recorded as 3-piece, Spirit Of ’76 consists of 25 tracks, largely written by California & Cassidy with favorites like “Victim Of Society”, “Sunrise”, and the gospel ballad “Thank You Lord”. For being mid ’70s, this album still has a definite ’60s psych feel throughout, with plenty of folk, blues, rock, country influences, as well as off spoken word, and a number of interesting covers such as Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing”, “Like A Rolling Stone”, the Stones “Happy”, as well as “Hey Joe” – tho’ not penned by Hendrix, California had played with Hendrix early in his career. There’s 14 bonus tracks on the 2nd disc, consisting of alternate takes and live tracks recorded in ’74.

Next up was Son Of Spirit, recorded later in ’75, followed by 1976’s Farther Along. These 2 albums make up disc 3, along with 5 bonus tracks. Son Of Spirit, still recorded as a trio, with Barry Keene on bass, included almost all Randy California material, a bit more country-ish in places, featured the single “Holy Man” and a cover of The Beatles’ “Yesterday”. Farther Along saw Spirit return to being a 5 piece with Locke and Andes returning, as well as Matt Andes on guitar/vocals. I liked this album a lot more, though it took on a number of new styles, as well as strings on some tracks, horns on a couple. Favorites include “Stoney Night”, “Mega Star”, “Diamond Spirit”… the title track was issued as the single (and a live version is included among the bonus cuts), and it closed with a instrumental string version of “Nature’s Way”. The band’s final album for Mercury in the ’70s was 1977’s Future Games, which seems like more of a Randy California solo project, mainly written by California, and a bit of help on a few tracks from Cassidy, as well as guests like Kim Fowley. A strange album , featuring no other original band members [aside from Cassidy]. It’s like some strange sci-fi concept with all sorts of odd tv clips inserted, and sound effects, amongst the 22 [!!] titles, many of which clock in around or just under a minute. It does include a decent cover of “All Along The Watchtower”. Tacked on the Future Games disc is 11 bonus tracks, including alternate takes and demos. 1984’s The Thirteenth Dream (aka Spirit Of ’84) saw the original band reunited again. The band would re-record many of their classics, as well as include a few new songs. I liked this album, as it was nicely up to date at the time, and a bit heavier. It also featured a number of guests, notably Bob Welch, Howard Leese, Neal Doughty, and Matt Andes. The disc is filled out by a half dozen excellent sounding live tracks from 1986. Disc #6 is titled Spirit Of Salvation and is full of unreleased studio material from 1974-75, as well as a pile of Randy California demos. Next up is a 15 song concert from the Armadillo in Austin, Texas, recorded in June of ’75. A really solid performance and recording, features a killer rendition of “All Along The Watchtower”. The 8th (last) disc consists of the Future Games demos, and I really dig this, as you can hear the songs better without so much clutter; sounds very good. It is completed with 8 live tracks recorded at the Agora in 1975; among them is a great 9 minute take of “Like A Rolling Stone”, as well as excellent performances of such classics as “Mr Skin” and “I Got A Line On You” – to close things out.

This is a very thorough and valuable collection of one of America’s great, underrated bands. Loads of different material album to album, and so much bonus material, with live stuff, makes this a highly recommended addition to any Spirit fan’s collection, as well as a cool piece for curious types who don’t want to pick up the band’s output separately.

Incidentally, this is the latest Spirit box set from Cherry Red, as there are a number of others, covering every era of the band, and Randy California’s work.

KJ. 09/’21

Added links:

https://www.loudersound.com/features/spirit-interview-we-were-one-of-the-first-progressive-bands

http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=2643

https://www.facebook.com/RandyCaliforniaSpirit

GOLDEN EARRING : Moontan Remastered & Expanded

Golden Earring – Moontan (Gatefold, Vinyl) - Discogs

Golden Earring’s best known album, and their biggest success in North America, Moontan is a ’70s must hear classic album, not only boasting the band’s biggest hit, but also a number of live favorites, with 4 cuts featuring on the band’s awesome 1977 Live album. It featured a cover photo from Dutch photographer Ronnie Hertz, a pic perhaps too much for North America where this market got a different cover or …an earring!

MOONTAN – REMASTERED & EXPANDED To be released September 10.

New expanded 2CD edition of the 1973 classic Golden Earring album, featuring the worldwide hit Radar Love

For the first time ever remastered from the first-generation master tapes.

Featuring 9 previously unreleased mixes/different versions

Featuring 6 bonus tracks, including Big Tree, Blue Sea (1973 version) and Instant Poetry

Including a 32-page booklet with a new essay, memorabilia, and photos

Founded in 1961 by George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen, Dutch rock band Golden Earring (or Golden Earrings, until 1969) started off as a beat-band, experimented as a psychedelic quartet and finally became a heavy rock group. Their ninth album Moontan (1973) hit the international album charts and is the band’s most successful album in the United States, being the only Golden Earring album to be certified Gold by the RIAA. The single “Radar Love” reached #10 on the Cash Box Top 100 and #13 in Billboard in the United States. It also hit the Top 10 in many countries – including The Netherlands (#1), Spain (#1), Germany (#5), United Kingdom (#7), Canada (#10) and Australia (#10) – and consequently became a bonafide international classic rock song. In June 2020, the original master-tapes of this classic album were unearthed for a long-awaited remastered edition – 48 years after its original release.

Alongside a fresh remaster from the IBC Studios first-generation album masters, six bonus tracks have been added, including the 1973 remake of “Big Tree”, “Blue Sea” that was added to the UK and US editions of the original album, the original single versions of “Radar Love” and “Candy’s Going Bad”, the B-side “The Song Is Over” and the 1974 single “Instant Poetry”.

In addition, a second CD entitled The Moontan Sessions features nine previously unreleased mixes/different versions that give insight into the whole production process of the album. Taken from a variety of archive tapes, these include the original basic recordings of “Radar Love”, “The Song Is Over”, “Are You Receiving Me” and “Vanilla Queen”, taped in early 1973 at Phonogram Studios in Hilversum (The Netherlands), which were overdubbed and finished at London’s IBC Studios in July 1973. All tracks have been 24 bit/192 kHz remastered from the original master-tapes.

A special 2LP edition of Moontan (remastered & expanded) released by Music On Vinyl will follow in early 2022. This 2CD edition of Moontan starts off a special series of remastered & expanded albums by Golden Earring, overseen by Red Bullet catalogue and band archivist Wouter Bessels.

No photo description available.

TRACKLISTING

CD 1: Original album version remastered plus bonus tracks
1. Candy’s Going Bad 6.13
2. Are You Receiving Me 9.32
3. Suzy Lunacy (Mental Rock) 4.26
4. Radar Love 6.26
5. Just Like Vince Taylor 4.22
6. Vanilla Queen 9.19
BONUS TRACKS:
7. Big Tree, Blue Sea (1973 version) 8.12
8. Candy’s Going Bad (single version) 2.52
9. Radar Love (single version) 3.45
10. The Song Is Over 4.52
11. Instant Poetry 5.08
12. From Heaven, From Hell (1974 version) 6.05

CD 2: The Moontan Sessions
1. Vanilla Queen (early version) 10.03
2. Radar Love (basic track) 6.27
3. The Song Is Over (basic track) 5.14
4. Are You Receiving Me (basic track) 9.30
5. Candy’s Going Bad (rough mix) 4.06
6. Vanilla Queen part 1 (rough mix) 5.36
7. Just Like Vince Taylor (alternate mix) 4.27
8. Big Tree, Blue Sea part 1 (rough mix) 3.14
9. Radar Love (instrumental mono mix) 6.30

Moontan (remastered & expanded) will be released by Red Bullet Productions on 10 September 2021 and will be available through all renowned worldwide music dealers and online shops.

https://styrous.blogspot.com/2019/07/20000-vinyl-lp-191-golden-earring.html

[pre order] https://shop.rockart.nl/product-categorie/golden-earring-diversen/

Story Behind The Album Cover : Grand Funk’s Shinin’ On

Released in March of 1974 – Shinin’ On is one of my favorite Grand Funk albums! Shinin’ On is known for including the band’s #1 hit single – “The Loco-Motion”, the classic title track [love that organ solo], And for the unique 3D cover! Anyone who has seen this cover in it’s original LP form, knows it came with a 3D cover & tear away 3D glasses, a poster, even upcoming tour dates on the inner sleeve … an amazing package. The cover / package concept & design was credited to Lynn Goldsmith and Andrew Cavaliere. Lynn worked not only as the band’s photographer, but also directed the 1973 promotional film for We’re An American Band, and created a number of other Grand Funk & Mark Farner [solo] covers,. She would also be credited on hundreds of album covers for art directing, creating, and photography by the likes of Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, Ted Nugent, Patti Smith Group, Ian Hunter, and loads more in various genres.

You can find out more about Lynn’s career and her massive list of credits, and classic albums she was a part of at :

Earlier this year I had written Lynn with questions about Shinin’ On, and a few weeks back she was kind enough to reply via a video on her Facebook page. It’s a very interesting clip, detailing the album cover, and and a good bit of insight into her time with Grand Funk. Any Grand Funk fan will want to check it out. Thanks to Lynn Goldsmith for this video. [below, enjoy!]

https://fb.watch/7ADlBXPvLA/

KJ, 08/’21

The Bolton IRON MAIDEN – An Interview with Paul O’Neill

A while back I had written an overview of the CD releases from The Bolton Iron Maiden. The band was around in the first half of the ’70s as Iron Maiden, and by the time they’d ended another band that would become one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands of all-time had began, unknowingly, using the same name. So, the band’s drummer / singer / writer Paul O’Neill went on to release a few CDs under The Bolton Iron Maiden name, as well as a solo album. More recently he released a new album – Puppet Master : The Rise and Rise of Slick Dandy.

Iron Maiden, as they were known in the early ’70s were one of many British bands that played regularly live, and struggled for years to get to the next level – a recording contract, which would elude the band. But they did lay down a few originals in the studio at one point, and a number of their originals survived on taped live gigs, which were used for the 2005 release Maiden Flight. And aside from Steve Harris’ Iron Maiden, Paul O’Neill’s band would not be the only ones who used the name.

In this interview Paul talks about the band’s early days, recordings, the band name, the CD releases, and his latest album, among other things. It’s a fascinating look at a working band that was a part of the scene, but without making a huge impact. They are an interesting tale due to their name and timing, but would [in later years] put out some fine early ’70s hard rock, and O’Neill would go on to have a career in theater and create more music decades later. *For more info on the band and CD releases, check out the official website – http://theboltonironmaiden.com/

Enjoy!

When you guys decided on the name ‘Iron Maiden’ did it have any sort of musical intentions [ie being a heavier or darker band, etc]. And were you aware at all of anyone else using the name prior to? 

Oh yes – we wanted a STRONG heavy name from our previous name “BIRTH” Musically we wanted to be a heavy rock band similar to Cream, Free, The Who, Iron Butterfly, Mountain, Black Sabbath and the new band all the rage – Led Zeppelin.   Derek (I believe) came up with the idea for “Iron Maiden” and we loved it!

We had no idea there was anyone else using that name. We appeared in the musical papers of the time, Melody Maker, New Musical Express, Sounds etc, and it was only ever our Iron Maiden. I only discovered this other lot (from Basildon) in 2005!

One interesting but sad thing is that my wife was badly attacked and nearly murdered in May 1976. I was walking back from visiting her in the hospital one Thursday and bought the Melody Maker on the way home. I opened it up to my fave pages – the gig guide at the back – and saw Iron Maiden playing at a pub in London? I knew it could not be us. Beak at the time was ill with cancer.  I have often thought that Beak, who sadly died two months later, was the person who (according to Steve Harris) rang the pub and said “you can’t use that name – it’s already being used”. The only way I could ever find that out, would be to buy Steve a pint and ask him. Beak had a very distinctive voice, and I would be able to tell if it was him.

Another sad tale is – although (the new) Iron Maiden and Rod were VERY supportive of us, and helped me enormously, a London paper called “The Metro” came to see me for an interview, and I was telling him all about what was happening. I mentioned a famous national Paper – The Sunday Mail wanted me to “dish the dirt” on Iron Maiden, for a headline they wanted “They Stole My Name, They Stole My Fame”

I told them the name was never stolen – we were happy for the boys to use it – we had stopped playing when Beak died.

Next day – across the centre pages of the Metro was They Stole My Name, They Stole My Fame. Rod has not spoken to me since – although I did get them to print a retraction – the damage was done. So the famous phrase “any publicity is good publicity” in our case – this was a killer. They have not contacted me or allowed any contact from me since 2006. Copy of article attached.

I would still love to have the conversation with Steve!

At your site there is mention of a few of the band’s Iron Maiden opened for. Aside from The Thin Lizzy story, can you recall a few memorable gigs opening for any other ‘name bands? And would you recall the biggest show[S] you did in crowd size? [any festivals?] 

We played and opened for quite a few bands in our time playing mainly colleges.

I suppose I have to mention Judas Priest. We played with them a lot, they were good, but we thought we were better and did not like “being second on the bill” to them.

The very first open air gig we did was in Queens Park in Bolton. They had an old bandstand in the park and they used it for the first time for pop and rock music. It was about 1968 or 69. The main band had a magnetic magical lead singer – his name was Freddie Mercury!! The name of the band was Ibex (there is an article on our Facebook page ) https://www.facebook.com/theboltonnews/photos/a.190634877684580/2352381964843183/

Procul Harum at Salford College was a great night – we got there as they were sound checking and they were playing a reggae version of “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. Mick Grabham was the guitarist that night. Years later – I met Mick who was playing with Don Airey (now Deep Purple)  at a local pub where Don lives. We stood at the bar chatting and the subject of the reggae version came up and I (reluctantly) told him my band name – It was always awkward – because IM were SO famous – it always sounded like I was making a story up. No one knew we existed. However, Mick choked on his drink when I told him, and said – “Ahhh The Iron Maiden from Manchester!” I said “yes” had he went on to tell me – he and the others from the band, knowing that we played a support gig with them in the early ’70’s – went one night to see them (Iron Maiden) play. Went backstage after and said “Hi Guys it’s Procul Harum – we’ve come to see you” – They were met with blank stares!

Mick told me they couldn’t believe “we” (actually Steve’s band) didn’t remember them. Now he knew why – and phoned Gary and the guys from the pub we were in to let them know.

Supertramp. Another gig at Manchester uni. The band were a three piece when we first met them – at Manchester, they were a five piece and wow! what a band – no wonder they went on to super stardom.

The Groundhogs. We loved the Groundhogs and at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton we were very pleased to be playing support for the Groundhogs – only problem was one of our best numbers was “Cherry Red” by the Groundhogs. We had to take a chance and play it BEFORE they played it again!

A good thing too, because when it came to doing the covers album Boulton Flies Again I had to contact Tony McPhee, to allow us to use “Cherry Red” on the Album. He not only remembered us, but told me I was singing all the wrong words to the song! He corrected my lyrics, and let us use “Cherry Red” with no fee whilst it was generating charity money for Cancer. Then to top that – Tony and his missus actually SOLD copies of Boulton Flies Again at gigs they did in 2007/8. A proper gent and a REAL rock and roller! (if you listen to Cherry Red on BFA album, you can hear me trying to correct the incorrect vocal line. Tony wrote it about a hot blooded love affair – I thought I was singing about murdering your girlfriend.

UFO – a great heavy band – we played with them at the Drill Hall Bolton. (see notes on SAG)

Bloodwyn Pig at Manchester Uni. It was a real highlight to meet Mick Abrahams – he was a hero from Jethro Tull, who we all admired.

Solution (they were a Dutch band –  friends of Focus) We played support for Solution at BIT (Bolton Institute of Technology) in Bolton, They were on tour at the time. They rolled  up with no gear, and had to use ours. We stayed in touch for quite a long time. Wonderful band and brilliant musicians. Tommy Barlage the saxophonist wrote the tune “Divergence” which became “Tommy” on Moving Waves for Focus. I met them a few weeks later in a café in Manchester – where they were support band for my hero’s – Gentle Giant.

Caravan – at Mr Smiths in Manchester. Brilliant band – Loved the song “If I could do it again, I’d do it all over you”

David Bowie – we were not actually a warm up band – we played the famous Magic Village in Manchester and finished about 11. From then and through the night, artistes who were about would call in and just play. About 2am – a guy came in. We had no idea who it was – he sat crossed legged and played an acoustic and sang with no PA. We heard the song “The Man Who Sold The World” – but had no clue who this was until we heard the album!!!

Cozy Powell and Bedlam. We opened for Bedlam at BIT . Our claim to fame is that we were louder than them! That was important to us at the time! Cozy had a kit twice the size of mine, played it beyond my dreams – but I was louder!

Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come – at Bolton Technical College – a gig not to be missed, Arthur was using a Bentley drum machine – it shorted and gave him a bad electrical shock – ended up Derek and a few others taking him to Bolton Royal Infirmary.

We topped the bill at the Moss Bank Park Festival in Bolton in about 1973. It was Bolton’s first real outdoor festival. Around 5000 attended.

Blackfoot Sue – at Salford Technical college. Great band. Sacked a roadie for talking to us too much!

Mungo Jerry – strange gig – another that sacked their roadie – we ended up taking him home, feeding him and getting him on a train the next day!

Trapeze – One of our fave bands. We saw them a few times and loved the first album – before we only played originals –  we always opened with “Black Cloud”. However we never played with them sadly.

I know there are more – but Derek has the memory – mine is not the best – so sorry if I have missed anyone.

Any favorite tales of any crazy gigs / onstage moments? 

I really do need Derek here. There were many crazy nights, and some not so savory things that went on backstage. At one club, where the guy in charge was not very nice, and withheld our money, our then lead singer Tony Fearn, decided to relieve himself in the bingo machine just before he was about to use it!

Another crazy night was in Newcastle, where we doubled. We played a club 7-10, then went on to a nightclub in the centre of Newcastle between 12am and 2am. When we had finished setting up, they pulled down some mesh netting. We had no idea why, until we started playing. At the first chord a shower of Newcastle Brown Ale bottles rained down on the stage. Memorable night in that we didn’t die!

Another time when we were getting really popular and filling colleges by ourselves, I decided to alter my drum solo.

I always played a solo during the final song “Maiden Flight”, after rattling round on the kit for a few minutes, I used to turn round and play two glockenspiels and wood blocks. I decided it would be great if Dylan the roadie would load up the top of the wood blocks with beer bottles and a hammer. After playing the wood blocks I picked up the hammer and just smashed every bottle in sight. Needless to say – they audience and the band were sprayed in blood – great time!

Our local gig was the BIT. In 1975 we played it for the last time. A highlight of my life was our Roadie Dylan, bringing me out of the dressing room, and taking me to a window, where you could see hundreds of people queuing around the building. He said –“the gig is full – this lot are only hoping to get in” Magic!

What were you guys listening to during the early ’70s – any band’s you admired or hoped to be in the same sorta category as [musically]?  

I loved Cream, Ginger was a bit of a hero of mine, Gentle Giant, The Nice, and of course The Beatles! Very into progressive rock I have the first Yes album bought in 1969 and loved them since, also ELP, Genesis King Crimson.. In fact – the BIM track “Cracked Path” title came from a King Crimson track “Confusion” the line went “Confusion will be my epitaph as I walk a cracked and broken path”  (Pete Sinfield lyrics)

Beak loved John Mayall,  Eric Clapton, esp. the Layla Album and really any true bluesmen.

Derek was into US Rock – Mountain, New Riders, Grateful Dead, Spirit.

We all really got into a new band called Wishbone Ash. They used two guitars in harmony. We all loved the sound – especially Beak who wanted to introduce a second guitarist to play harmonies with. The track “Crawl Crawl Nighttime” from Maiden Flight was where he was headed. Derek and I both thought two guitars was a bit old hat – oh dear – how wrong could we be!! The new IM have bloody THREE!

You had the one brush with Tony Iommi, regarding [hopefully] managing the band. Did you ever hear from him again or anyone else who might’ve taken on the band? 

Sadly no. It was Tony and a guy called Norman Hood who were coming to watch us, but no, we didn’t hear from them again. We had one guy who tried to manage us, but kept booking pop music venues – he didn’t understand Rock music at all. He didn’t last!

Was Iron Maiden a full time gig? How often did you guys play? and did you have regular venues and/or travel much around the country [or UK]? 

It was a full time gig for a while.  Derek always refused to give up his job as a telephone engineer. When Derek left and was replaced by Noel Pemberton Billing it did become full time.

Just before Derek left, he had an idea we should have a “spin off” band, playing only 1950’s rock and roll. We were called Teenagers In Love, (Piccy attached) and actually began to be more popular than Iron Maiden. So we made it pay by working two bands at the same time. We took on a pianist called Alan Wickam, and a brilliant lead singer called Paul Neon.

We did have quite a lot of regular venues – mainly the college circuit in the UK – not much in Wales, and we always seemed to be playing in the lake district in England and southern Scotland. We often played down south – but never London itself. I remember meeting three young lads in the South, who heard we may be breaking up – by this time Beak was not well, and we were so busy with Teenagers – IM was taking a back seat. They asked if they could use the name Iron Maiden. We were OK with that. I often wonder who those three lads were?

Again I would love to speak to Steve over a pint about that

What were the circumstances of the band’s one [and only?] studio session to lay down the 4 songs? Was there any other studio attempts [even before the band changed the name from Birth?]  

Sadly nothing of Birth exists on tape. But I do have a recording of us when we were called “Ways N’ Means” from about 1967. We were all still learning to play. Fun to listen to now.

With Iron Maiden, we were looking to get a recording contract – but having no manager we tried to do it ourselves. Our Agent at the time was William Leyland – a well known agent in the North of England, and he had a new studio in the town of Farnworth near to Bolton. So we asked to use that and went in for two days, and recorded the 4 tracks. The idea was one of us was going to make copies of the tapes and send them to record companies. I don’t even know if anyone sent them off? If it did happen, I think Derek would have done that, but as history shows – nothing came of it.

We also (after Derek left) went to the same studio and recorded two tracks with Teenagers In Love.

Quite nice recordings of 20 Flight Rock (Eddie Cochran) and the song “Teenager In Love” but we changed it to “Teenagers In Love” to fit the band.

The songs you did record – why did you pick those 4, particularly if “Maiden Flight” was not included? [or was it not written at the time?] 

I recall I wrote “Maiden Flight” after the session so missed out. The four tracks were our favorites at the time.

What inspired the band’s sci-fi lycal ideas, like time travel? [any particular tv shows, books…?] 

We all seemed to love Si-Fi. Our stage show had an 8mm projector showing old B/W horror and Si-Fi movies. I think we were all inspired by 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Day the Earth Stood Still and even Star Trek. I was mainly the lyricist, and so it was my love of Arthur C Clarke and his contemporaries that started the SiFi theme. A story by Clifford D Simak was the inspiration for ‘Maiden Flight”.

As for the live tracks and the CD of Covers — can you tell me about how you came about to get those so many years later? can you tell me a bit about the fan who would save the shows, and how you went about ‘recovering’ the recordings for release? 

That’s a big question Kevin! From very early on being called Iron Maiden, David Southworth – known to us all as SAG, was our No.1 fan. He followed us everywhere. What we didn’t know, he filmed us on his super 8 camera and also recorded every gig he came to on his Alba Cassette recorder. By some miracle, this little recorder (which I now have in my Studio) had a “Limiter” on it, so although we were incredibly loud as a band, this little cassette captured about 8 whole gigs. Roadie Paul Hampson brought a reel to reel tape deck to an early gig where we did mostly covers, and we used a lot of those tracks for Boulton Flies Again.

Aint you Commin Home Babe” (Bloodwyn Pig) and “Fresh Garbage” (Spirit) were favorite tracks, and I thought lost. But when I decided to try to create Maiden Flight – I invited Sag and Paul Hampson to my place to stay a few days and listen to the tapes. Sag rolled up with a VERY old tape which had on those two tracks. It was recorded at a gig we did with UFO at the Drill Hall in Bolton, and the place was large and rang like a bell.

When it came to Sag talking me into creating a “Covers” album, his request was “Cherry Red”, “Fresh Garbage” and “Aint you Commin Home Babe”

I thought it impossible with the state of the sound. A large echoing venue, Sag at the back of the hall with the tape recorder hanging round his neck.. and dancing! But  a mastering studio SRT in St.Ives took the task on, and managed to reduce the ringing on the empty sounding tape, and I then eq’d it to try and bring some sound back.

I admit Boulton Flies Again is really only for the fans, but I still sell an amazing amount of them. Only yesterday I had an order from Birmingham, Alabama for all four of my albums!! Gobsmacked to say the least. “Thunderbuck Ram” from BFA is the highest earning track from streaming?

So Sag and Paul were the catalyst to allow an actual album rather than a 4 track EP.

I carefully transferred the cassettes and the one reel to reel tape onto a computer programme called Magix which allowed me to remove squeeks and blips, then transferred the magix files onto Logic pro7.

In some cases – It was like a little miracle, The vocals were always way in the background, so I was able to double track my vocals, add a bit of reverb and it worked! On Life span we only had two recording – two weeks apart and in two different gigs. The first – Beak had drank a few beers and played the riff wrong – the one two weeks later, I managed to cut the correct guitar riff and paste it on to the first take – different venue, different sound, but it worked. I was falling in love with computer recording.

I mixed all the tracks myself to save costs and then had the albums mastered at SRT Studio – the same one that rescued the two badly recorded tracks.

I would have loved to re-record all the material and the tracks we never actually played live (we had a song called “Running Free” – how weird is that?) but time and cost was prohibitive and would not have made much for the two charities.

I think the album paid for itself in the first couple of months and has since (because of Downloads and streaming) generated income for the charities for over 15 years.

Of the original material – what were crowd favorites in the band’s live set, and what were a few of your own to play [or that you felt had the most promise]?

The crowd always loved “Cracked Path” and “Crawl Crawl Nighttime”. My favorite tracks are “Life Span” – especially my daughters’ backing vocals – which they came up with. I wanted humming – they thought differently, and they were right. “A Place Of My Own” I loved too because it really just rocked along. Beaks guitar playing was wonderful – we were a three piece band – and the way Beak filled everything in – we didn’t need any one else.

Can you tell me a bit about Ian Boulton Smith as far as a guitar player [recall who he was a fan of?], a bandmate, and friend? 

Beak became a friend first. We were total opposites  he was 6’6”, I was 5’6” for a start. He looked great on stage with his long blond hair; he always looked like a rock star. He also was an amazing guitarist and a lovely person to write with.

His tastes were different too. He loved the Blues and in particular John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. I was into the Beatles, but he really opened my eyes to rock and the blues. I totally changed my tastes after I met Beak and Derek –  we were all influencing each other. Derek was really into American rock.

As a guitar player, Beak, at that time was second to none. His playing, especially his fills, were amazing. For a three piece we could fill any venue with a great rock sound, and it was Beak who was the basis of it all. He never left a space – it was always filled with either rock solid chord work or sensitive fills. As a writer, he came up with amazing chord sequences, riffs to die for and rocking solos.

As a friend you could wish for no more. Fair to a fault, he would always forgive my exuberant ways and frolics – he was a very gentle soul who thought I was rather an unkempt wild thing (he was probably right) but I learned a lot from him – tolerance, gentleness and humour.

What did you do in the years after Iron Maiden disbanding? Was there any other regular playing bands? any invitations or auditions to join any other established bands? 

Sadly – things sort of went to ratshit when Ian died. Sue my wife was just recovering from an horrendous attack by a madman, who got a life sentence for his attack. When my mother died the same year – I wanted to get out of Bolton – so did Sue.

We received an invitation from a ’50s rock and roll band called Sun Session – an Elvis band obviously.  The band was fronted by Paul Neon who was with me in Teenagers In Love.

They were playing the London RnR circuit, and needed a drummer. So – we left Bolton and moved to Cambridgeshire, where we still live.

I sort of became a “50s Rock and Roll” drummer and was recruited by various bands in the ’80s – nothing of note, but, for one band – “Red Hot” we had to audition a guitarist.

It was very difficult to find the right guy for ’50s music, and we were just about to give up when we got a call from the advert in the Melody Maker. A guy known only as “Len” wanted to audition. I said we had just about given up, but if he wanted to call round to my studio the next night we would give him a listen.

“Len” showed up and was remarkable. We took him on and he was with us about 4 years before we discovered he was Lenny Davidson from the Dave Clarke 5. We had no idea!

We worked together for many years and Len and his wife Linda live literally around the corner.  We both began teaching music at the Huntingdon College. I taught Drums and Keyboard – Len taught electric and classical Guitar

Len features as guitarist on my album “Totally Swept Away”

Can you touch on the idea and process of putting together the first CD in 2005? As well as your connection to Rod Smallwood and Steve Harris Iron Maiden? [did you get to meet up or hear from Steve?] 

As I mentioned earlier – I haven’t met Steve. I met Adrian and tour manager David, but never Steve.

Putting the CD together was Sue’s idea. In 2005 she came in the studio and said – “do you know it will be 30 years next year that Beak died. Why not do a CD of your Iron Maiden and let Beak’s family have a copy, and our kids will be able to hear what  you were like”

I have a great friend – Rob Harris who is also a guitarist (Jamiroquai). He sold me the Apple Computer and programme I needed to make the album. He also spent over 3 days teaching me how to use it. Rob mentioned that, if I was going to put out a CD, I must get the new IMs OK to do it. I was very reluctant, because I thought they would just tell me to “sod off” – which would be very hurtful to Beak and his memory. Rob and I have a mutual friend – Don Airey who played on an Iron Maiden LP (7th son I think). Don advised me to contact Rod Smallwood. So I sent an e-mail to Sanctuary – and immediately got an email back from their legal Dept.

They were very nice, I was surprised and pleased. They said Rod was happy, and not only could I do the album, but when it was finished, he would advertise it on the IM website. This was great news.

I received an e-mail back from their lawyer, who gave me details and said we would like you to change the name to “1970 to 1976 The Bolton Iron Maiden” – on three lines so it would still read Iron Maiden, but would avoid confusion for their fans. I was more than happy – after all it was their songs and talent that got them where they are – not our name!

From that grew an album, and we also managed on the 30th anniversary of his death, to do a re-union gig in Bolton in memory of Beak and to launch Maiden Flight and to raise funds for our Cancer charities. Dan Collins was playing guitar for me that night.

I called the night “the Bimmie” (The Bolton Iron Maiden Major Imbibing Event). We have since had a few “mini Bimmies” at the Olde Man and Sythe pub in Bolton.

Where did the story for Puppet Master come from [inspiration, ideas…]? And can you tell me a bit about how it went from a story to a full blown album idea? 

When I first moved to Cambridgeshire, I wrote a song called “Life Is A Circus”. This would be about 1979. I then had an idea I would like to write a story of a boy who lived in a circus and was about to become a performer. This idea has floated round my head for YEARS. I then worked with Rob Harris. He would come and play guitar for me on various tracks and musicals I composed. Eventually – the circus idea became about the manager we never found as Iron Maiden, and would we have sold our souls to get to the top? The song “Maiden Flight” should have been carried on – I always wanted to write more about the Time Traveller and his faithful mute friend (a dog) – from that I formulated another SiFi song (Time Traveller – which is based on the Maiden Flight riff) and a SiFi album!

Can you tell me a bit about the players or it and why former BIM bandmembers didn’t appear? 

I really wanted Derek and Noel to play. Derek lives 200 miles to the north and is not in the best of health, has no idea how to use a computer or record parts – so although I wanted him on the album – we had no resources to be able to record him. Noel lives 200 miles to the south, and is not good on staying in touch. Again I wanted Noel to play guitar (he switched from bass), another problem is Derek does not get on with Noel (a problem from many years ago) , so really using the originals was not going to happen. I have two good friends who were willing to come to me once a week and work on the songs I’d written – Martin Low (Guitar) and Garry Cutress (bass). Both are nice players and fitted in with me well.

As much as I could (time and opportunity willing) I would get Rob Harris on the recordings. Many of the songs featured Rob, when he used to use my studio, so I tried to continue that as much as possible. If you have heard Rob on Jamiroquai recordings and the work he has done with Don, you will understand why I wanted him! Rob is the backbone of the whole album.

I used to teach Don Airey’s son drumkit. He always said – if you need anything – I’ll do it for you. So when I needed a red hot moog solo – I rolled up to his place one Thursday morning in between Deep Purple gigs, and he took 20 minutes to do it for me (“Slick Dandy”). Don is one of those lovely guys who everyone likes the minute you meet him.

I had to use Rachael and Victoria on backing – cause they are just really Good!!!

Two other friends – Brian Sage from my days with a ’50s Rock and Roll band played sax for me, and Nick Hill – a local jazz trumpet player who also works with Don on his jazz gigs played trumpet for me.

What is your connection to Don Airey and how you got him involved? 

I met Don through Nick Hill the trumpet player. Once you meet Don, you don’t forget him. Nor does he forget you! As I said – through Nick – I started to teach Don’s youngest son drums, and he said he owed me a favor!

I’ve done a couple of local gigs with Don, he is lovely – but scary – because he is such an immaculate player –  if you make a mistake – one look and you fry on the spot!

Were the characters in Puppet Master inspired by any real people you know? Is any of it autobiographical or inspired by your own circumstances? 

Yes indeed – I based some of the characters on real people. Wally Lemland the Agent working for Matthew L Fox – is based on Agent William Leyland, Matthew L Fox is simply the fox from Pinnoccio! The Sad Old Clown is my Granddad – John Feeney – stage name Tom E Sloan. The Ukrainian trapeze artist is Giant Jannkho is an anagram for Jonathan King – who let me down on my first songwriting contract with Chapple Music. The song “Rock and Roll Star” and “Gone Are The Days” are autobiographical.

As an album, it really needs to be listened to in full, as opposed to individual tracks. But, what are some of your favorites pieces / tracks from it? 

I love “Slick Dandy”, “Help Me Forgive Christina” and “Rock and Roll Star”.

You recorded Puppet Master at your own studio over a number of years!? And how did you manage to wind up having it mixed & mastered at Abbey Road?

Being a rock drummer for many years, my hearing is on the way out.  I worked on an album with my friend Paul Neon, just before he passed away from cancer in 2017/8. I sent the album to be mastered, and my mastering engineer said – “I could have been quicker, bit the mix was not very good!” – I mixed it! Oops So I thought I ought to see if I could find a mixing engineer who would not cost the earth.

I googled Mixing engineers – and alphabetically – Abbey Road came up first. I laughingly said to Sue – Im going to call them – just to see what they say. I started by saying “Do you work with nobodies?”

The lady laughed and said “We are a business – of course we do” She said I would have to send a sample of my material in – and the engineers would decide if they wanted to do it. Fortunately Toby Hulbert said he would love to mix it.

So I asked the cost – she said its £600 a day. I jumped for joy. I had saved over £800 so I could afford it and said yes! I send in my tracks and a few days later Toby called to discuss it with me. Then I had the real shock – they mixed only ONE track a day – and I had 18 tracks. So what I thought was only £600 was 600 x 18 = quite a few shillings to say the least.

Toby was very kind and in the end squeezed a lot more than one track a day for me, so it didn’t quite break the bank, but just the fact of being a Abbey Road – as a performer / client was absolutely magic. They also allow guests – so most of my family accompanied me for the days I worked there. The mix was immaculate. And the Mastering Engineer loved doing it too!

You [Paul] also did a solo album in 2009. Can you touch on this, as well as any other recording projects you may have been involved in or in the works? 

You mean Totally Swept Away. This came about because my Dad told me the story of the Loss of The Birkenhead – a steamship which sank with the loss of 600 soldiers lives. I had to write a song about it and in true O’Neill fashion started to write more and more about the sea. It ended up as 15 songs about various aspects of the sea. Because of the topic of the songs there is a lot of folk influence in the songs. I have often played in Folk Rock bands and appreciate the music.

I am a big fan of Gentle Giant, and their first producer Tony Visconti. My dream was to have him produce this album for me. So on a whim, I looked him up on the internet and found an e-mail address. I contacted him and told him the story, and sent some MP3s, and to my shock – he replied and was interested in doing it.

However, his manager then contacted me and in a voice that sounded like someone from the mafia, he said, “you come through me, and no one else – I’ll decide who does what” Scarred me to death – didn’t hear from Mr Visconti after that. I hope I didn’t get him into trouble. But…..What a producer!

I have also written four musicals, two on my own –

Days In Glass Cages – a children’s story about insects and living in harmony with one another, and The Art Of Living Apart – a musical about the re-introduction of the death penalty in England – and one man being framed for murder will be the first recipient.

And I’ve co-written another two musicals – “Toys” and “Cloud Cuckoos”, with local writer Jenny Brench

I’ve been Musical Director for various things in the local Priory Centre in town.

I’m currently writing and recording songs about my own childhood and family members. I doubt this will be more than something shared with my family.

What are the other former members of BIM up to? Did anyone else go on to future bands or recordings? And have you all kept in touch? 

We are all in touch. Noel lives in the deep south of the UK, buys and sells guitars and plays locally in bands. His neighbor is Jerry Dorsey from Mungo Jerry.

Derek still lives in Bolton with his son Tom, not played since the Bimmie in 2006, but still has the gear. We are talking about getting the Bolton Iron Maiden out on the road to promote the new album.

Dylan the roadie lives in Bolton with his daughter and has written a few items for our website “Memories” page

Terry (Gearie) has moved back from Dubai where he was director of the Energy Council and is happily retired with his wife Hazel in Kent. I am godfather to his daughter Bethany

Roadie Paul Hampson still grows his own weed – oh no sorry, he runs a garden nursery and lives in Preston. He lives with his wife and two grown up daughters.

Links:

http://theboltonironmaiden.com/

http://paultjoneill.com/

http://www.ironmaidencommentary.com/?url=tbim

https://www.huntspost.co.uk/news/st-neots-man-donated-album-sales-7835390

https://music.apple.com/us/artist/the-bolton-iron-maiden/200817448

KJ, 08 / ’21

The PUMPS – 40th Anniversary CD Reissue

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
 After 40 Years – GOTTA MOVE by The Pumps released on CD for the first time.
You look pretty cool,
You look pretty nice
Well let me give you a little advise
You driving me into a nervous wreck
And all I want is a little success
Just a little success
Just a little success             – The Pumps, “Success”, 1980
The music roots of Winnipeg, Manitoba run deep with more than “just a little success” with the international prominence of Neil Young, The Guess Who, B.T.O. and Burton Cummings setting a high standard. Throughout the 70s a homegrown rock sound continued to evolve in Western Canada and while acts like Loverboy and Trooper were finding international success, The Prairies would brew their own driving beats with acts like Streetheart, Harlequin, Queen City Kids and … THE PUMPS.

Formed in 1978 by taking their name from a random pick in a local phone book, THE PUMPS consisted of the unmistakable vocals of bassist Chris Burke-Gaffney and drummer Terry Norman Taylor (TNT). Joined by quirky guitarist Lou Petrovich, who was compared to greats like Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, and Brent Diamond’s tapestry of keyboards creating a lush background, THE PUMPS unique blend of infectious pop/rock and high energy live shows made them a regular on the touring circuit opening for acts such as AC/DC, Triumph and Styx.

THE PUMPS quickly signed an international recording deal with Polydor Records in 1979 and flew to Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec to record their debut album with British producers Phil Chapman and Jon Astley at the helm. Gotta Move was released in 1980 to critical acclaim. The powerful singles “Success,” “Coffee With The Queen” and “Bust The TV” become staples on Canadian rock radio airwaves through the 80s.

In 1983, the group signed with CBS/Portrait, changed their name to ORPHAN and released 2 more albums. The single “Miracle” was a top 10 hit. In 1991, Burke-Gaffney and Taylor briefly reunited to release one album as The Deadbeat Honeymooners.

Vocalist Chris Burke-Gaffney would go on to form CBG Artist Development to manage and develop singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, co-writing and producing her Juno Award-winning and triple-platinum album, Under These Rocks and Stones. He continues to develop new artists gaining accolades, chart success and Juno nominations along the way.

The unique story of THE PUMPS & ORPHAN was told by film maker Terry Goring in the 2016 documentary “Just Little Success.”  The group continues to perform live on the classic rock circuit as THE PUMPS & ORPHAN with Burke-Gaffney, Taylor, Diamond and Orphan guitarist Steve McGovern.

Gotta Move is finally released on CD for the first time by Music In Motion Entertainment as Gotta Move – The 40th Anniversary Edition. Fully remastered, Gotta Move includes 4 bonus tracks : An early live recording of “Bust The TV,” an equally early recording of “Steel & Iron” (which would eventually appear on the ORPHAN disc Salute), the radio edit of their biggest hit “Success” and a brand new acoustic version of “Coffee With The Queen.”

Gotta Move is licensed for distribution by Music In Motion Entertainment.
Gotta Move is available through their webstore on RockPaperMerch.com
Gotta Move is distributed to retail worldwide exclusively by Isotope Music Inc

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International Release Date : July 30, 2021Just A Little SuccessCopyright © *2021* *Chipster PR & Consulting, Inc.* All rights reserved.

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URIAH HEEP : A Visual Biography – by Martin Popoff

The latest in the ‘visual biography’ series from Canadian rock writer Martin Popoff just happens to be on the mighty Uriah Heep. A project I had a slight hand in. And having said that – has made it hard for me to write much about it It is a very nice coffee-table book, chalk full of photos from throughout the band’s history, with photos mainly coming from fellow Heep fans who were fortunate to have seen the band over the decades, with different line-ups. So credit must go to those who contributed their photos, and time in scanning as well.

The visual history also comes with a timeline of Heep’s history, noting many birthdays, important dates, related releases, etc…

It is a fine addition to an avid Heep fan’s collection. It is heavy (weight), but will make for a cool conversation piece.

For the record, someone commented ‘enough with the Heep books‘ – well, I for one am in favor of seeing more, and preferably more from those (players & participants) who were there. Uriah Heep was/is a major band in the golden era of heavy rock, an era that will disappear sooner than later. So, if you’ve got something to say, photos you’re stashing, recordings you’re holding on to, unprinted interviews to share — Now is the time!

*For more info and to order please check out the link below. +Martin also has copies of his Thin Lizzy book in the same series.

Uriah Heep: A Visual Biography (martinpopoff.com)

Uriah Heep: A Visual Biography: Popoff, Martin: 9781912782567: Amazon.com: Books

JOHN LAWTON : 15 Classic Career Spanning Tracks

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It was just over a week ago that the shocking news that British singer John Lawton had passed away on June 29 came out. July 11th would’ve been John’s 75th birthday. Though best known for his time with Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep, John had a very lengthy career full of great recordings — not only the 2 major bands he was known for, but plenty of one-off projects, solo albums, singles, guest appearances. One thing that is undeniable is that regardless of who John was performing with – it was his vocals that stood out. A buddy of mine used to say – “he could sing the phone book and make it sound great!”.

I’ve picked 15 tracks from throughout John’s career to celebrate his life and recordings. And this is just a scratch on how much great stuff the man was a part of. *Please leave a few favorite tracks in the comments.

Ride The Sky – Lucifer’s Friend

The best known song from Lucifer’s Friend, and probably the most well known vocal from John. He and the band sounding like they could fit in alongside the biggest names in early hard-rock / metal in 1970. Covered by a few bands, most notably Avantasia. One of a few LF songs that John would later include in his live repertoire for years. Lucifer’s Friend [II] would also re-record the song in 1994 for Sumo Grip.

Burning Ships – Lucifer’s Friend

From Lucifer’s Friend’s 2nd album – Where The Groupies Killed The Blues. An acoustic ballad that builds up. One of John’s trademark numbers, and many o’ Lucifer’s Friend fans’ favorite song. More recently Jason Kane & The Jive did an excellent cover of this. *I’ve included the 2015 live version here, as I’d previously included the original studio take in my post on John’s passing. I think the band still did an incredible job on this 43+ years later!

Mama Loo – The Les Humphries Singers

Many people may not realize that John’s main gig prior to Uriah Heep was recording and touring with The Les Humphries Singers, a pop band featuring a number of great singers, who played many top hits [covers], as well as songs written by Les Humphries. This was written by Les, and was the group’s biggest hit, with John singing lead.

High Flying Lady (Goodbye) – Lucifer’s Friend

From Lucifer’s Friend’s most ambitious album, and the one John cited as his favorite – Banquet. It was one album he’d have liked to have performed live in full. This is the a great upbeat rocker, full of brass, great production, and amazing vocal from John.

Little Chalk Blue – Roger Glover’s Butterfly Ball

John sang on this track written and recorded for Roger Glover’s 1974 theatrical album The Butterfly Ball And Grasshopper’s Feast. A sweet orchestrated ballad. It was issued as a single and part of an EP, but not on the 1974 LP. John would perform it at the 1975 live staging of The Butterfly Ball, where he also sang the song “Love Is All”.

Wiseman – Uriah Heep

Written by Ken Hensley, “Wiseman” was a minor hit in Europe. It’s a classic Heep ballad, and John once cited it as the first song he sang with the band. He would keep it in his live repertoire years later, and re-recorded it with Steve Dunning for their 2002 album Steppin’ It Up. The song also earned Heep a spot on UK TV show Top Of The Pops.

Free N Easy – Uriah Heep

John wrote a few songs on the last few Heep albums, and a couple of them were the heaviest things the band did during this period. “Free N Easy” [co-credited to Mick Box] was a huge fan favorite, from Innocent Victim [altho’ “Free Me” was the massive hit in some countries during this era]. The band would bring this one back in more recent years, and it would feature on the band’s Live In Europe ’79 album, as well as John’s reunion album with Ken Hensley – The Return.

Hey Driver – Lucifer’s Friend

After leaving Heep, following the recording of a 4th [as yet released] album, John recorded a solo album [co-written with Peter Hesslein, and using Lucifer’s Friend as the backing band], followed by an awesome reunion album with LF – Mean Machine. A return to straight ahead hard-rock, influenced by the New Of British Heavy Metal at the time. One of my top 3 LF albums with so many great hard rockers to chose from.

Heart Of The Night – Zar

In the early ’80s John sang on an album by German hard-rock band Rebel, featuring Tommy Clauss on guitar. Another opportunity arose for John to step in and recording with Clauss again at the end of the decade with the band Zar. Released in 1990, Live Your Live Forever was a fairly commercial sounding heavy metal album, full of killer tunes. John proving he could still rock as hard as he did on the first Lucifer’s Friend album.

Don’t Stop Believing – Gunhill

Gunhill was the band John formed in the mid ’90s. They were primarily a working band, doing plenty of covers, some originals, and a few from John’s past. They did release a CD in 1997 titled Nightheat, which included this as the opener. Written by John, I really liked this one, and a the band’s few other originals here.

Tonight – John Lawton [solo] / Uriah Heep

John was extremely busy in the early 2000s, with Gunhill coming to an end, and a few other projects, a new band, and this solo album from 2000 titled Still Payin’ My Dues To The Blues. A great set of lighter blues and blues based tracks. This is an outstanding ballad that John originally wrote and recorded as part of the 4th [unreleased] album with Uriah Heep. John also re-did this one with Steve Dunning in 2002 Should be interesting to hear Heep’s version.

Written On The Wall – John Lawton Band

The short lived John Lawton Band followed Gunhill, and the band toured and would release this line album, as well as a live DVD . Sting In The Tale was a solid set of blues based rockers. This is the stand-out track for me, a nice heavy rock song.

Steal The Night – OTR

OTR [On The Rocks] was a short-lived project John did latter day Focus guitarist Jan Dumee, as well as a few Brazllian musicians in 2008. A very different album that showed again how much John could sound great in any type of music.

Fairytale – Intelligent Music Project [Diana Express]

Intelligent Music Project is a recording band that is the brains of Bulgarian producer / songwriter Milen Vrabevski . John sang on the first 2 albums in this act. The first one billed as John Lawton & Diana Express and titled Power Of Mind.was a concept album, Diana Express being the Bulgarian band playing here as well. Again, a very different album, more adult contemporary, hard-rock, orchestrations… The ballad “Fairytale” was the first song released from the album, and the standout track John did with these albums.

Passengers – Lucifer’s Friend

From the last Lucifer’s Friend album Black Moon in 2019. A fantastic album, showing John and the band could still come up with good, memorable songs. The band had re-grouped in 2015 for a compilation album [with 4 new tracks], a live album, and a studio album Too Late To Hate in 2016.

*photo of John – courtesy of Richard Wagner

07 / ’21