Tag Archives: Classic Rock

CACTUS – Release The Birth Of Cactus 1970

CACTUS sprung up following the break up of the legendary VANILLA FUDGE, and drew immediate comparisons to the [fairly new] and mighty Led Zeppelin with their first album of heavy blues rock. This performance is the band’s debut, consisting of mainly tracks from the band’s debut album, plus a couple of tracks from then-future albums (“One Way…Or Another” and Sweet Sixteen”). It’s a great sounding recording, and despite being their first live show, it’s a performance from a well rehearsed band, all well in tune with the material and an energetic performance. A brand new band that was making their mark right off the get-go.

*For more info & ordering, see press release below:

Historic First Ever Live Concert From Classic Rock Legends CACTUS Finally Sees An Official Release!

Los Angeles, CA – This is where it all began for the quartet dubbed “The American Led Zeppelin” – on a 1970 bill that also featured the likes of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grateful Dead and Steve Miller Band. Vocalist Rusty Day, guitarist Jim McCarty, bassist Tim Bogert, and drummer Carmine Appice, collectively known as Cactus, made their auspicious debut in their very first public performance that night. Fortunately, this stunning and historic show was captured on tape and has now been unearthed from the archives and released on all formats!

The Birth Of Cactus 1970 finds the freshly minted quartet ripping through some of the key tracks from their landmark debut album including “Parchman Farm,” “Feel So Good” and “No Need To Worry” plus some smokin’ hot blues numbers. The performances are not only supremely confident, but also fluid and dynamic as each member locks into the groove and relentlessly rides it.

Drummer Carmine Appice had this to say about the concert recording, “I remember doing that first gig, hanging out with Hendrix who was a friend of Cactus. We got on stage and the energy level was off the charts! All the songs kicked major ass. We were so excited to get Cactus going and this show helped. Crowd was great and we did ROCK!!”

The Birth Of Cactus 1970 will be available on digipak CD and on PURPLE vinyl everywhere on January 21st!

Order the CD/Vinyl: https://cleorecs.com/store/?s=birth+of+cactus&post_type=product

Stream/download the digital version: https://orcd.co/cactus_the_birth_of_cactus_1970

Track List:
1. One Way…Or Another
2. Sweet Sixteen
3. No Need To Worry
4. Medley: Let Me Swim / Big Mama Boogie / Oleo
5. Feel So Good
6. Parchman Farm

Press inquiries:
Glass Onyon PR

http://www.cactusrocks.net/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/483511695023380

www.CleopatraRecords.com https://www.facebook.com/PurplePyramidRecords/
Purple Pyramid Store @https://cleorecs.com/store/product-category/record-label/purple-pyramid/

ENVY OF NONE – New band featuring Alex Lifeson & Andy Curran announce album

Envy Of None, the new band and debut self-titled album from Alex Lifeson (Rush), Andy Curran (Coney Hatch), Alfio Annibalini and singer Maiah Wynne due for release on Kscope on April 8th 

First single “Liar” out now – 

PRE-ORDER HERE (https://eon.lnk.to/EnvyOfNone)
Alex Lifeson is no stranger to the concept of evolution. As a founding member of Rush, he’s been able to explore more musical ground than just about any other guitar player out there – taking rock to new progressive heights throughout the decades and always in the most wildly inventive of ways. His influence can be heard on countless bands around the world, from indie shoegaze and math rock to heavy metal and beyond. Over the last few years Lifeson has been focusing on a new project that, no matter how well-acquainted you are with his discography, will undoubtedly shatter all seeds of expectation and blow the mind. That project is Envy Of None.

The new band, also featuring Coney Hatch founder/bassist Andy Curran, accomplished producer and engineer Alfio Annibalini and singer-songwriter Maiah Wynne, will be releasing their self-titled debut album on April 8 via Kscope. Its 11 tracks – which ricochet between various shades of alternative, experimental and synth rock – throw surprises at every turn, twisting dark melodies against contemporary pop hooks. Lifeson himself is proudly aware of how little of it crosses over with the band that made him famous. 

However, it was only when singer Maiah Wynne became involved that this truly started to feel like a band destined to go somewhere. Her haunting melodies and soul-baring intensity is – by the admission of her own bandmates – what truly brought this music to life. All things considered; she is a star in the making… “I sent over an early version of the song Shadow,” explains Andy Curran. “When I played what she’d done back to the others they were like, ‘Who is this crazy talented person?!’”

The album’s first single, Liar, is out now. Its industrial beats, driving fuzz bass and atmospheric guitars concoct a seductive swirl indeed – thrilling in ways closer to the darker art rock of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle than anything these musicians have been known for prior.

“Maiah became my muse,” continues Alex Lifeson. “She was able to bring this whole new ethereal thing through her sense of melody on tracks like Liar and Look Inside. After hearing her vocals on Never Said I Love You, I felt so excited. I’ve never had that kind of inspiration working with another musician. When we say she’s special, it’s because she’s really fucking special!”

“One of my favourite things about these songs is the intimacy of them,” reveals Maiah Wynne. “It makes them feel different and more honest. There are some heavier songs too, like Enemy, and then tracks like Kabul Blues, that sound completely different to anything else.”

The album closer, Western Sunset, which was penned by Alex Lifeson in tribute to his dear friend Neil Peart. It’s a highly emotive piece of music to honour a man deeply missed by the rock community at large, and even more so by those who were lucky enough to know him. “I visited Neil when he was ill,” says Alex Lifeson. “I was on his balcony watching the sunset and found inspiration. There’s a finality about a sunset that kinda stayed with me throughout the whole process. It had meaning. It was the perfect mood to decompress after all these different textures… a nice way to close the book.”

It’s a book you’ll almost certainly want to be reading. Envy Of None’s self-titled album is due for release on April 8 via Kscope.

Envy Of None track listing 
1. Never Said I Love You [04:06]
2. Shadow [03:21]
3. Look Inside [04:44]
4. Liar [03:13]
5. Spy House [02:23]
6. Dog`s Life [04:36]
7. Kabul Blues [03:12]
8. Old Strings [05:15]
9. Dumb [04:19]
10. Enemy[04:16]
11. Western Sunset [02:25]

The album will be released on the following formats and is available to PRE-ORDER HERE (https://eon.lnk.to/EnvyOfNone)

Ltd Edition deluxe version – presented in a gatefold sleeve with a blue coloured vinyl LP, 2 CDs including a 5 track bonus disc, 28 page Booklet with exclusive content
CD – includes a 16 page poster booklet
LP – on black vinyl / baby blue coloured vinyl (North America exclusive) / white coloured vinyl

Envy Of None are:
Alf Annibalini – Guitar, Keyboards, Programming
Andy Curran – Bass Guitar, Synthesized Bass, Programming, Guitar, Background Vocals, Stylophone
Alex Lifeson- Guitar, Mandola, Banjo, Programming
Maiah Wynne – Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Keyboards

Follow Envy Of None:

John Verity – Celebrates 50 Years with Passion

John Verity marked 50 years as a performer & recording artist with 2020’s album – Passion. The British guitarist/singer/songwriter was a part of Argent and then Phoenix in the ’70s,, and since 2001 has been releasing his own albums pretty regularly. Passion features Verity delivering 8 new blues rock, and blues ballads tunes. The first 2 tracks jump out right away – “Higher”, a great driving rock tune, followed by “Wise Up” with a cool guitar riff opener and a heavy drum sound (this one being in that Zeppelin / Bad Company class), love the organ throughout this one (courtesy of Jamie Pipe of The Mentulls), lyrically dealing with frustrations of worldly issues. “Sand In My Pocket” is a mid tempo blues number, a nice groove, fantastic playing and vocals. Next up is a bluesy ballad dealing with global environmental issues, delivered in this rather laid back and sad feeling tune “Broken Heart”. John pays tribute to Ginger Baker in the heavy blues cut “Red Devil”, while doing the same to Chuck Berry on “Bad Boy”. “Passion” ends with another heavy blues number titled “Big Stick”. Also included is the slowed paced, reflective guitar piece “The Open Road”; love the playing and the feel on this.

What I like a lot about this album is, aside from the fantastic playing, singing, and songs, is that Passion is kept to a solid production, without any excesses of added instrumentation, guests, and pieces that detract from the flow of it all, simply letting John (and company) deliver an appropriately titled album. Now to start working my way backwards through John’s more recent solo releases….

Line-up: JV – guitars & vocals / Bob Skeat & Roger Inniss – bass / Liam James Gray – drums / Jamie Pipe – keyboards.

Passion was issued on CD and Limited vinyl, and can be ordered at John’s site > http://www.johnverity.com

KJ, 01/’22

Edgar Winter Puts Together Tribute to brother Johnny Album.

Press Release:



  STREAM THE SINGLE AT https://smarturl.it/johnnybgoode

January 7, 2022 – Today Quarto Valley Records proudly announces the April 15, 2022, release of Brother Johnny, a tribute to the legendary blues guitarist created by his brother Edgar Winter. The album is a powerful sonic journey, traveling the course of Johnny’s musical life, impeccably directed, as only his brother Edgar could. 
Joining Edgar on the inclusive project is an impressive array of renowned musicians who knew, or were inspired by Johnny, including Joe Bonamassa, Doyle Bramhall II, John McFee, Robben Ford, Billy Gibbons, David Grissom, Taylor Hawkins, Warren Haynes, Steve Lukather, Michael McDonald, Keb Mo, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ringo Starr, Derek Trucks, Waddy Wachtel, Joe Walsh, Phil X and Gregg Bissonette
The guitar-driven album celebrates the expansive styles Johnny was known for – the 17 tracks were carefully curated by Edgar and producer Ross Hogarth to represent Johnny’s evolution as an artist, honouring his great legacy while also incorporating a personal tribute from brother to brother, and for which Edgar penned two new songs.

The project has been years in the making, Edgar was first approached about it just after his brother passed away on July 16, 2014. Johnny had just played the Cahors Blues Festival in France, which was destined to become his last show. He had travelled to Switzerland where his next show was scheduled, but he passed away in his sleep at the hotel in Zurich before he ever got the chance.

Edgar reflects, “Many people immediately started trying to convince me to do a Johnny Winter tribute album. But I was totally devastated, and the timing just didn’t feel right to me. It wasn’t until after I completed the Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest, a tour we were meant to do together with our respective bands, that the idea of a tribute record started to take form.”

Edgar explains, “I had naturally expected the whole thing to be cancelled. But much to my surprise, the promoters begged me to go on with the tour as planned, asking me to headline. The first night, after playing “Frankenstein”, I closed the show with “Johnny B. Goode”, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, dedicating the end of the set to Johnny.

“I had anticipated the tour to be very emotional, perhaps sad, and possibly difficult, but playing those songs turned out to be a great source of strength and comfort to me. Everyone on the tour was so kind and supportive, getting up to jam, and it became a kind of tradition. There was such an overwhelming outpouring of love and respect for Johnny, I began to realise it was not just business people sensing an opportunity here; it was Johnny’s true, loyal, and devoted fans and our fellow musicians, many of whom are on this record, who wanted to see this happen as well.

“After the tour, and over the following years as talk of a tribute album continued, my wife Monique, whose intuition I trust more than my own, said, “I think you have to make this album, both for Johnny, for yourself, and for the world. You owe that acknowledgement to your older brother. If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t be where you are today. There’s no need to worry about it. If it’s meant to happen, it will.” 
Soon after Edgar met Bruce Quarto, founder, and owner of Quarto Valley Records. It was his boundless enthusiasm and devotion to classic rock, the blues, (and Johnny in particular) that convinced Edgar the time for this tribute album had finally come.

“Quarto Valley Records is honored to be releasing Edgar’s tribute to his brother Johnny,” said Bruce Quarto. “An album as remarkable in its musicianship as it is in the depth of feeling that comes through in each and every note of each and every song. The superhuman artistry and inspiration you hear in the new interpretations of some of Johnny’s signature songs, like ‘Hootchie Koo’ and ‘Alive and Well,’ are matched only by Edgar’s original and very personal, ‘End of the Line,’ which strikes a very human chord. The album is nothing short of a masterpiece. Enjoy!”

This announcement comes with the release of “Johnny B. Goode,” a perfect fit not only in name but in sentiment, and a song that remained a standard in Johnny’s sets right up to the very end. The opening rips right out of the speakers – that infamous guitar line along with Edgar’s smokin’ piano – followed by roaring vocals from Edgar and Joe Walsh. Joe does the vocal honors on this one, leaving his legendary guitar work for a personal favorite called “Stranger” (featuring Michael McDonald, with Ringo Starr on drums).

The signature guitar is masterfully delivered by fellow Texan David Grissom, who strikes the perfect balance between Chuck Berry’s classic riffs and Johnny’s wild Winter whirlwind of intensity. Edgar blows the house down with a Texas tornado of saxophone accompanied by thunder and lightning from Bob Glaub on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and additional vocals by Phil X.

Edgar writes in his liner notes. “To this day, when I think of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I think of Chuck Berry and “Johnny B. Goode”. It’s not only Johnny’s story, but also every kid’s story who ever picked up a guitar, coming from humble beginnings with the idea of making it big someday. So of course, it has to be on this album.” (For the full story see below).

Brother Johnny was produced by Edgar Winter and Ross Hogarth. All the basic tracking was done at Capitol Studios. Most of the guest artist performances were recorded at Infinitespin Records, and as the pandemic progressed, were done at various guest artist’s studios. the record was mixed by Ross at his studio The Boogie Motel.

Edgar sums up reminiscing in his notes, “When I was very young, I can still remember thinking no matter how much time goes by, how old I get, what happens in my life, or how far I end up from home – there is one person in this world I know will always understand what I’ve been through, how I feel. And that person is my brother Johnny. As kids, we were inseparable, much closer than average brothers. Not only did we learn to play music together, but because we were both albino, we shared a unique personal perspective on life different than anyone else’s.

“So much has happened to both of us since then, but one thing will always remain the same… that bond, of brotherhood, of family, of music, and of Love. So, in his name, I dedicate this album. Brother Johnny”

Edgar added, “My deepest and most profound thanks to all the great, fantastic, amazing artists for their incredible heartfelt performances. You touched our hearts on behalf of Johnny and the Winter family.”

Brother Johnny will be available on CD, vinyl and digitally across all platforms on April 15, 2022. 
About this version of Johnny B. Goode, from Edgar Winter’s Liner Notes:

“Now there’s a story behind every song on this album, but this next one is really special. As just little kids growing up in Beaumont, Texas—Johnny and I started early, but our first big break came with this local talent contest that was the biggest thing in the area. It was called “The Johnny Melody Contest”, and first prize was the chance to make your own record. I guess I was 11 or 12, and Johnny about 14 or 15. We had our very first band called “Johnny and the Jammers” and the best song we knew was “Johnny B. Goode.” So, we entered, we went on, we played it, we won, and went on to make our first record (a song Johnny wrote called “School Day Blues”— and as they say, the rest is history.
So, if it hadn’t been for that song, who knows? To this day, when I think of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I think of Chuck Berry and “Johnny B. Goode”. It’s not only Johnny’s story, but also every kid’s story who ever picked up a guitar, coming from humble beginnings with the idea of making it big someday. So of course, it has to be on this album.

I had this dream of singing the song with my friend, the great Joe Walsh. Joe and I go way back to the 70s playing shows together when he was in the James Gang. Joe was up for doing the vocals, so we went to his place and recorded at his home studio. I got him to sing the second verse and do the harmonies on the “Go Johnny Go” choruses, and just like that, my dream came true. Thank you, Joe, for taking time from your busy schedule with the Eagles and your radio show to do this special duet. It reminded me of when Johnny and I used to sing it together and felt just like old times.

There is also some rockin’ guitar work by a fellow Texan named David Grissom (suggested by Ross Hogarth, our engineer, mixer, and producer). It fits perfectly with the Rock-house Boogie style piano I had put on it earlier. What I Love is that you can hear both Chuck Berry and Johnny Winter in the way he played it. Thanks, David. You really got it, rockin’, Big Time Johnny Texas Style!”
# # # 

Visit the official press release page for the new album:www.noblepr.co.uk/press-releases/edgar-winter/brother-johnny.htm

Are You Ready: Same Title, Different Rock Classic

Well, another episode of putting together a list of those songs that share a title, but a re totally different, and great rock tunes. “Are You Ready” makes for a great opening song title, but it’s not in all these cases. If you know of one I missed, please leave it in the comments…

Grand Funk Railroad

The opening track to GFR’s classic debut album On Time in the summer of 1969. Penned by guitarist/singer Mark Farner (who wrote the entire album). A great intro song; it would also feature on the band’s Live album a couple of years later.

Pacific, Gas & Electric

Formed in LA in the late ’60s, Pacific, Gas and Electric would feature original James Gang guitarist Glenn Schwartz and original Canned Heat drummer Frank Cook, who joined so that Charlie Allen could become the band’s singer. These guys released 4 albums in the day, featuring rock, funk, blues, and even a bit of gospel, as on there track “Are You Ready”, taken from their 3rd album of the same name in 1970. It also features a cool heavy guitar solo. The song was the band’s biggest hit [top 20]. Great cover art by David Willardson.


From the Canadian band’s 3rd album Ridin’ High, released in 1977. This rocker, penned by guitarist Buddy Caine and singer Buzz Shearman is one of the best tracks on this album. The song’s story revolves around getting ready for a night out (first to a bar, then with the drink server).


A new addition to this group (and what inspired this list). The opener to the ‘new’ 2nd Phoenix album, recorded in ’77, but shelved and just released by the band’s singer/guitarist John Verity. A solid rocker, penned by bass player Jim Rodford, which seems to be about points in his life & career and being ready to have a good time, as the song mentions various dates, places, venues, etc…

Thin Lizzy

A classic Thin Lizzy rocker, that debuted on 1978’s Live & Dangerous. I’m not sure if a studio version exists, This one – penned by Phil Lynott, along with Scott Gorham, Brian Downey and Brian Robertson., sounds like it was just written for the stage, so you’ll find it on other Lizzy live albums.


From 1990’s hugely success The Razor’s Edge, the lone AC/DC studio album to feature the legendary Chris Slade on drums. This was the 3rd single from this album, a top 20 in the US, and the band’s only #1 hit in New Zealand. A typical AC/DC anthemic rocker, putting out that rockin’ party vibe.

KJ, 01/’22

PHOENIX – Out Of The Sun

PHOENIX formed after ’70s classic band ARGENT disbanded, as it consisted of John Verity, Jim Rodford and Bob Henrit. Verity had joined Argent for their last 2 albums, replacing Russ Ballard; the band took on a change of direction, but Verity wanting to get back to a more straight ahead rock band came up with Phoenix. The band debuted in 1976 with their self-titled album. Not sure how well it did, but it is a classic ’70s hard-rock album, full of great guitar, Verity’s distinctive vocals, and a killer rhythm section., and stand outs like “From The Ashes”, “Woman Like You”, and “Easy”. Highly recommended ’70s rock listening, with Verity putting out a 30th anniversary CD edition some years ago.

Anyway, the band went in to record a 2nd album (which is the topic here), which was shelved as the record company at the time wanted the band to take on a more American radio friendly sound, hence 1979’s flop – In Full View. The band would release 1 more single before disbanding.

Now, nearly 43 years later that 2nd ‘lost’ album has been rediscovered and mastered for release by John Verity. Titled Out Of The Sun, with a cover that resembles that classic album cover for the Phoenix debut album, featuring 8 tracks individually penned by each band member, as well as a track from Chris White (Zombies).

Upon first listen through, it is safe to say if you liked that first Phoenix album – you will really like this! A great mix of rockers, ballads, a bit of funk, blues… Out Of The Sun opens with “Are You Ready”, an upbeat heavy rocker, very fitting musically and lyrically here. (Can’t help but be reminded of Grand Funk’s song of the same title). There are a couple of piano based ballads [featuring Rod Argent] – “Fallin'”, which is highlighted by Verity’s vocal, harmonies, and a smokin’ guitar break, as well as the cut “When My Boat Comes In”, again with a great high vocal,, a bit of synths, – this one would’ve made a fine single. “Loser” is a rocker, with a good bit of attitude; this song really makes me think these guys were really having a blast recording this stuff. “Spider Woman” is a cool sounding slower number, a bit funky, great groove, one of my favorites here, as is “Take My Music”, a bit more of an uptempo rocker, complete with some nice backing harmonies, a few changes, killer guitar sound; too bad this one fades out so soon. “Winds Of Change”, followed by “You Got Soul” close out this disc, both strong cuts, a bit of blues, soul, funk, and solid rock.

It is a shame this album was lost for so long, because it is a fantastic follow up and equally as impressive as the debut. Not a dodgy cut here. Just a very cool sounding guitar rock album of the 70s, from a tight sounding band that ended too soon.

RIP Jim Rodford, 2018

Order at > http://www.johnverity.com

Kj, 01/’22

Davey Johnstone – Deeper Than My Roots

Davey Johnstone is the Scottish born guitarist, most known for being a key part of Elton John’s band, for the most part, since 1971. There was a break in the late ’70s where he joined Alice Cooper’s band for a few albums, and has worked with a number of other acts over the years. Deeper Than My Roots is just Johnstone’s 2nd solo album (tho’ this is labelled as a ‘band’ album) since 1973’s Smiling Face, which featured fellow members of Elton’s band. His new album is made with his offspring, who all contribute to the playing, vocals, and even the awesome artwork! The artwork alone got my attention, wish there was a vinyl version of this! It goes with the music within, which has a definite ‘early ’70s vibe with great vocals (most of which supplied by Johnstone’s youngest son), harmonies, acoustic guitars, keyboards, nothing really hard rockin’, largely ballads, but plenty of cool guitar work and a few classic solos, atmosphere, and great songwriting, all wrapped up in a sweet production. Favorite tracks include the first video-single “Melting Snow”, opening cut “Go Easy On My Heart”, “Boxer In The Corner”, and the instrumental “Walt Dizney”. Deeper Than My Roots also includes 2 ‘bonus’ tracks, one being a cover of The Beatles’ “Here, There, And Everywhere”, and the other being Davey’s 2020 single “All The Time In The World”.

*See the press release below:

Elton John Guitar Legend Davey Johnstone To Release First Single ‘Melting Snow” From Forthcoming Solo Album!

Davey Johnstone has been Elton John’s guitarist for 50 years. He has also played with Alice Cooper, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Lenny Kravitz and many, many more! In his role as Music Director he will resume the hugely successful Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour with Elton and the band in January 2022.

Davey is releasing the first single “Melting Snow” from his forthcoming solo album “Deeper Than My Roots”!

Watch the video for “Melting Snow”:

During the COVID-19 recess, Davey has recorded an album utilizing the incredible talents of his children, plus a few close friends. The album has a wide range and crosses genres.

Elliot, the youngest Johnstone, is lead vocalist on the record, with Davey supplying one lead vocal himself. Charlie Johnstone recorded many of the basic tracks at their home in California. Charlie also supplied keyboard and background vocal parts. Jesse Johnstone played drums remotely from his home in L.A. Jesse also joined his father and eldest sibling Tam Johnstone, on writing, recording and producing the album’s two instrumentals, “Black Scotland” and “Walt Dizney”. The beautiful artwork for the sleeve was conceived and designed by Juliet Johnstone.

Denny Seiwell, the legendary drummer from Paul McCartney and Wings helped out on three tracks, and Nigel Olsson supplied drums on “Melting Snow”.

Much of the recording was done by Major Wynn at Marlon Hoffman’s Kenrose Studio in California.

Davey Johnstone’s forthcoming full-length album titled “Deeper Than My Roots” will be available on Spirit of Unicorn Records in January 2022.

For more information:

To Pre-order Davey Johnstone’s “Deeper Than My Roots” CD: https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/the-davey-johnstone-band-deeper-than-my-roots/

KJ, 01/’22

JOHN VERITY – Interview From The Archives (2000)

Many years back I had written to John Verity (ex Argent, Phoenix, Charlie). I really dug that first Phoenix album, and had picked up one of his solo albums, his albums with Argent, and Charlie. But I still had a lot to get, so many of my questions were a bit of ‘fishing’ as I wasn’t familiar with a number of projects. We also didn’t have youtube back then or Discogs to research on…. Anyway, I tried to get a good account of John’s career, and he replied with lots of information and stories. With the recent news of a new release – the ‘lost’ Phoenix album, I decided to re-post this (w/ a few edits), and links and tracks put in.

John Verity has been in the rock business since the late ’60s, but his name came to prominence in 1975 when he replaced Russ Ballard in ARGENT. After 2 albums with Argent, Verity formed the band PHOENIX – who released 2 albums, before releasing a few solo albums, recording an album with US aor band CHARLIE, and getting into production work. John Verity still records and gigs to this day, and is currently readying a new album as well as re-releasing some things from his own catalogue. For more on the man check out>http://www.johnverity.com

What can you tell me about your early days — bands? – people of notoriety you played with? earliest recordings? breaks? etc…

I Started in the 60’s with groups in my home town, Bradford, Yorkshire. Played R&B, Pop & Blues. Got my first real break when I was asked to play guitar for 60’s R&B/ Pop star ‘Dave Berry’ – great experience as we gigged solidly & toured heavily until the band was asked (without DB) to go to the Bahamas for a stint at the ‘Jokers Wild’ club in Freeport, Grand Bahama, in 1968. We stayed for almost a year – I did my first singing then ( I was never allowed to sing before, but we did so many sets, 7 nights a week that our main vocalist needed a break!). In ’69 a promoter from Miami spotted us playing at Jokers Wild and invited us to Florida to do some serious gigs. The band didn’t last long, but I stayed behind & formed the first JV Band with US musicians, gigged with Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Mountain, Canned Heat, PG&E, and others before moving back to UK. Got my first record deal with ABC / Dunhill on my return to UK in 1970/71.

What do you remember of this album? who produced it? any ‘name’ people involved? how did it do? read ‘was recorded late ’72 for Probe/ ABC Dunhill’.

Sorry.. No names on the album. Produced by Steve Rowlands who produced the Herd, Family Dogg, and other pop bands in the UK around that time.

Who was in the first Verity Band? any stories from Hendrix , Mountain, or Canned Heat? what kind of music were you doing back then?

The US JV Band was a three piece – Teddy on drums & Mark on bass. No surnames I’m embarrassed to say – its a long time ago! Nothing earthshaking to report on the other bands I’m afraid. Hendrix was kinda unhappy because people were shouting for the old stuff – he was into the Band of Gypsies thing — line-up was Billy Cox & Buddy Miles. The gig was in Miami – I believe it could have his last in the US.

How did you come to join Argent ?

My first album ‘John Verity Band’ was released on Probe/ABC Dunhill late ’74 and I went on the road touring as support to Argent. Russ Ballard decided to leave on that tour, and recommended me as his replacement.

You played on just ‘Circus’ and ‘Counterpoint’ albums? anything else? [live or unreleased?]

There are unreleased tracks, also we ‘reformed’ to do some sessions in ’77 – the line-up was Rod, Russell, Bob Henrit, Jim Rodford & Me. The tracks were never released & and the ‘reformation’ never happened. I ended up spending quite a lot of time in the studio with Russell working on his songwriting projects during that period – ’78 to ’81. Russell was also involved in the final ‘Phoenix’ recordings in 1980. The lineup was me Bob & Ray, plus Dave Wintour on bass and Russell on piano. We recorded two songs that Russell had written – ‘Juliet’ & ‘I Surrender’. The record company Charisma didn’t like ‘I Surrender’ – said it wasn’t a commercial song! & released ‘Juliet’ as a single instead with no success. B side was ‘I’m In Love’ from “In Full View”. Russell used our version of ‘I Surrender’ as a demo, and ‘Rainbow’ picked up on it. The rest is history…

Were you familiar with Argent prior to joining them? what band did you [and John G.] come from?

I wasn’t really familiar with the band prior to the support tour – but the sheer quality of their musicianship just blew me away.. I think I’ve covered my background prior the Argent. John G was much younger with little band experience – he was a truly natural, gifted musician though, but never liked the touring aspect – well, he hated it really!

Did you feel any pressure/criticism having to fill in Russ Ballard’s spot, baring in mind he wrote a lot of the earlier classics? [did you write songs in these days? ]

I did feel pressure – I just wanted to be good, and make my mark. I did write songs (I had written the John Verity Band album), but there was no chance of writing songs for Argent with someone with pedigree of Rod around!

What was the plan or direction / aim of the new line-up when you joined?

The band was getting into Fusion/ Jazz Rock which I didn’t really like, and anyway they were such a great rock band. I think we lost our way really… musically.

Was Rod the musical ‘director that lead the band away from more rock stuff?

Kind of. The rest of the band seemed happy enough at the time, to go along with this ‘new’ direction. I suspect Robert was a little unhappy at the change but probably I was the only one who felt really uncomfortable with it. I was quite shocked when the new songs were first presented to me, but I didn’t have the confidence to speak out at the time…

How do you feel the 2 Argent LPs you were on compared to previous Argent LP? Were there any successful singles? Why did the band split?

I didn’t feel that the later albums were as successful musically as the earlier albums, though they had their moments. There were singles, but no success. The band split because (a) we weren’t making any money! (b) Rod & John G were sick of touring. (c) Rod wanted to move in a different direction musically (I was agitating to move back to Rock & Roll) (d) I wanted to form a straight ahead power trio with Bob & Jim – ‘Phoenix’.

How much of the drums did Phil Collins play on Counterpoints?

About half. Some tracks are half Bob & half Phil!.

Were you happy with this radical shift away from the anthemic early 70s heavy rock in the Free vein towards spacey jazz-rock, and if so, were you instrumental in this switch?

No, hated it!

How did The John Verity Band [1974] come about, who were the members, where from (which bands)?

All the members of the JV Band were from local bands in my home town (Bradford). We met when I returned from US early ’70’s. The earliest sessions for the album in ’72 were done with session musicians, but I wasn’t happy & formed a ‘normal’ band line-up with Geoff Lyth (guitar & keyboards). We had various bass players & drummers, and the line-up finally settled at Jerry Smith (bass), & Ron Kelly (drums) in time for the album sessions which began at Advision studios in London late ’73. Album produced by Steve Rowlands.

Any singles released? much success, tours, breaks…? How did that one album do on the market?

Lots of gigs – toured with Argent, the line-up changed. New line-up included Biff Byford (Saxon) on bass, and guitarist Paul Quinn (Saxon). I produced the first Saxon album a couple of years later.

What happened afterwards – why did it break up? [anything recorded after the 1974 album that didn’t get released?]

We were rehearsing for a new album when the Argent gig was firmed up. Biff, Paul & the guys gigged as the John Verity Band without me! before forming ‘SonOfABitch’ which became Saxon.

You formed Phoenix with Jim Rodford and Rob Henrit [from Argent days]. How did this band begin? Was it intentional to make it a heavier sounding band than Argent?

Yup. [See above] – during the final Argent US tour, I had the feeling that we should be moving into a more straight ahead direction. I knew that there was a niche for us & Bob & Jim agreed. We signed to CBS though, and it took too long to get product out, by which time the UK music scene was being swamped by New Wave/ Punk. We were Dinosaurs in the UK by then.

You all contributed to the first Phoenix album, which was a classic LP IMO. What happened with the first album — much success, etc… ?

We did well in some areas. Lots of great response to gigs – we toured UK/ Europe & Scandinavia with Aerosmith, but I decided to get into Production.

Who else did you produce of note?

Saxon, Tank, Motorhead, Searchers, Marseille, BlackSlate, Brian Connelly (Sweet) – plus lots of bands’ ‘first albums’.

Can you explain the change prior to the 2nd Phoenix LP in which Jim left and was replaced by Ray Minhinnett – who played guitar, while you doubled on bass [guitars, vox…], and also added Ronnie Lee Cunningham on keys?? [where did Ray and Ronnie come from?]

Ray was/ is a buddy of mine. He was with Frankie Millers Full House. Fantastic guitar player, and we wrote songs together. Jim was offered the gig with the Kinks & went with our blessing, but we decided not to replace him – I played the bass parts & then added my guitars later. The other guys were brought in as session players by our American producer. Great musicians but I didn’t feel the album worked – no ‘Band’ vibe.

In Full View also featured a few outside penned tracks — “I Don’t Mind” [Walden] – where did this come from? as well it included Russ Ballard’s “Just Another Day” – why did you do this song?

I’m always open to good outside material and we felt ‘I Don’t Mind’ was a strong song (sent to us by the Publisher). I had engineered & played/ sung on Russell’s demo of ‘Just Another Day’ and asked him if we could do it for Phoenix.

What happened on the 2nd LP that would explain the change from the debut? Was there outside interference, recording company, etc.. ?? How well did this LP do?

The record company was responsible for the change of direction which I felt was a disaster. It didn’t do well.

Any examples or stories pertaining to this?

Not really – the business was in real upheaval at that time, and the UK scene was particularly screwed up, so Charisma decided we should go to America to record. I was thinking New York – they were thinking LA. We went to LA. WRONG!

I presume Phoenix split after the 2nd LP!? what were the highlights of this band for you? what happened in the end?

The highlight was the early period when we first came off the road with Argent. We were all match fit and playing well. Bob, Jim & I have great respect for each other as musicians & people. I loved that band, but it should never have been allowed to change direction musically, or be interfered with by outside producers & record company personnel!. Bob & Jim are good friends to this day and often form the current JV Band line-up for gigs & recording. I love them both like brothers.

What did you do in the years following Phoenix and the first “Verity” LP? any other bands, recordings, ..?

Mostly production & writing/ session playing. Russ Ballard, Ringo Starr, Colin Blunstone, Bowowow, Tank, Motorhead, Saxon etc.

You auditioned for Uriah Heep. were you disappointed this didn’t pan out ? What do you recall of the auditions? Have you had any other contact or association with an Heep guys?

Not too disappointed as it was only intended that I fill in until the band found someone permanent – which they did with Pete Goalby. All good players – Mick’s an excellent guitar player. Pete G’s a fantastic singer & good friend today.

What’s Pete up to these days? Ever worked with him?

Never worked with Pete – just jammed at a gig one time, but we’re buddies – been through a lot of the same music biz bullshit. He’s well, but having a break from it for a while.

Interrupted Journey was a very classy ’80s HR album, and still stands up pretty good today. You produced and engineered the album, as well as guitar & vocals, and had a long list of guest players,..Was it really a solo album? and who exactly was in the band? Who toured with you, etc.?

Yes, it was a solo album initially, which I began recording in ‘down time’ at Livingston Studios in between production projects. As recording progressed I began to ask my friends to sing & play on it. The touring band had Steve Rodford (son of Jim!) on drums, and my old mate Terry Uttley (Smokie) on bass, who became my partner in crime for some time until Smokie re-formed.

What can you tell me about how the guest-list became on this album > Rutherford, Argent, Ballard, Terry Uttley… ?

Mike Rutherford contacted me because he’d heard that I was doing a solo album. He wanted to produce or participate in some way. I went to Genesis’ studio where we recorded 3 songs with just me, Bob Henrit, & Mike playing. I added all the extra stuff at my own studio. Dave Wintour was doing lots of bass sessions around that time, including Russ Ballard & Leo Sayer.

Why did you re-do “Just Another Day” – the Ballard song that you had recorded with Phoenix? and what can you tell me about some of the other outside penned tracks, such as the Mike Rutherford song, “Love Is Blind”, “Stay With me Baby”, “Chippin Away At The Stone”… ?

I re-recorded ‘Just Another Day’ because I felt that we had screwed it up on the Phoenix album. The other songs were just great pieces that I wanted to do my own version of. Mike wrote some stuff especially for me which was nice. ‘Stay With Me’ is my favorite song (I’m re-doing it on my new album!)

What were your favorite tracks on that album? Any singles? much success, etc.. ?

I don’t have a favorite track. It’s my best work to date, with the exception of the first ‘Phoenix’ album.

What can you tell me about your association with CHARLIE? Did you only play on the 1 album? What happened with this gig?

I was brought in to ‘rough up’ Charlie’s sound in a production sense, and Terry was going to get involved in the production of a new Phoenix album. In the event, I ended up singing & playing on the Charlie album, and I brought in Bob Henrit on drums. The Phoenix album was abandoned. I thought the Charlie album was good, but I didn’t enjoy the ‘painting by numbers’ approach so I left to start ‘Interrupted Journey’.

What can you tell me about the 3rd Verity album Rock Solid? [who played on it? how well did this LP do?]

Rock Solid was done in my own studio. I did a lot of the work myself, with my usual guests dropping by. Unfortunately the label went broke soon after release, but I hope to get it re-released soon.

What have you done since the last Verity album? Recordings? Bands? [what can you tell me about such albums as Hold Your Head Up, etc…?]

Hold Your Head is a compilation of various JV Band stuff. The title track is an un-released track which I originally recorded for Interrupted Journey. I’ve continued to gig & record/ do production & try to help young musicians develop their careers. I’m currently working on a new album & preparing older material for re-release.

What are you involved in outside of music? hobbies, interests… ?

Music Music Music – boring old rock fart!

Can you give me a few of your favorite guitar players, influences, singers, songwriters, ? What do you listen to these days?

My influences are wide – Hendrix, Beck, Clapton, Aretha, BB King, Beatles, Dylan. I listen to whatever takes me.

Interview – Kevin J. 2000. / *top photo from Johnverity.com






PHOENIX: John Verity Releases Lost Album

Phoenix was a short-lived 70s trio consisting of ex Argent members John Verity, Jim Rodford, and Bob Henrit. The band’s debut was the excellent 1976 self-titled album that featured great guitar rock and vocals, featuring such stand-outs as “Easy”, “A Woman Like You” and “From The Ashes”‘. After a few years the band returned with 1979’s In Full View. This album saw Ray Minhinnett (ex Highway) added on guitar and American Ronnie Lee Cunningham (ex Law) on keyboards, while Rodford had left with Verity also playing bass. Rod Argent and Russ Ballard also made guest appearances. American producer was also brought in to work with the band in LA. But the album was softer, more mainstream, and lacked the feel of the first one. Frankly, I just never got in to this one. However, we now come to learn that a 2nd Phoenix album, with the original trio was recorded in ’77, and recently mastered and released by John. Below, John gives details and the story behind the ‘lost’ Phoenix album which can now be ordered through his website – http://www.johnverity.com

An amazing piece of news is that just a few months ago we rediscovered the ‘Lost’ Phoenix album. Back in 1977 Bob Henrit, Jim Rodford, & myself went into Trident Studios in London to record the follow up to our first album “Phoenix’. The new album was to be titled ‘Out of the Sun’.We really felt we had pushed the envelope both technically and creatively with this one, and I was proud of what I had achieved as a producer using the tools at my disposal. Sadly our record label CBS did not agree. Punk/New Wave had really taken a hold and almost overnight we were simply unfashionable…The album was put on ice, and somehow the masters were lost – until now.

By a twist of fate I got the opportunity to look again at these recordings with a view to releasing them over 40 years after they were recorded. A copy of the last set of mixes I had done resurfaced and I was able to get them restored, and then I remastered the tracks at home in my studio. We secured funding from fans and had the CD manufactured for release after all this time. I think the result is stunning. Transform yourself back to the ’70’s!!’

*Some years ago I interviewed John Verity (via email), and I be re-posting that here soon.

KJ, 01/22.

NEKTAR – The Other Side

NEKTAR began in Hamburg, Germany in 1969 and released a number of classic progressive rock albums in the ’70s, such as A Tab In The Ocean, Remember The Future, Down To Earth, and Recycled. Through many line up changes, a break up in 82, and reformations since 2000, plus the loss of founding member (singer/guitarist) Roye Albrighton in 2016. The band now based in the US, recently released a new CD/DVD package of their 2020 album. *See the press release below for more details.







Disc One:

1. I’m On Fire 2. Skywriter 3. Love Is / The Other Side 4. The Light Beyond 5. Look Thru Me 6. Y Can’t I B More Like U. 7. Drifting 8. Devil’s Door

Disc Two: DVD

The Making Of The Other Side : A Documentary About The Making Of The Album And The Reunion Of Nektar

*Also recently released was a live recording from 1973 titled Sounds Like Swiss – check out this link for the press release – https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/24446559/posts/11257