Mott the Dog
November 17, 2018 - November 23, 2018
Widowmaker: ‘Straight Faced Fighters’
Widowmaker is the nickname shared by a
hurricane wind, a jetfighter plane, and a high-powered drill, all of which
are renowned for mayhem, destruction, havoc, and literally blowing you away.
Well, as it happens, it is also the name of one of the most devastating rock
‘n’ roll bands to emerge from the musical cauldron that was around in the
After a year as lead guitarist with
Mott the Hoople, Ariel Bender (also known by his real name of Luther
Grosvenor) left the band at the height of its commercial successes, looking
to find his own way rather than riding on the tailcoats of an already big
First he found Paul Nicholls, a young
powerful drummer who had thumped the tubs in a reformed Lindisfarne, but was
now looking for something a little more powerful to bend his wrists to
rather than the Geordies’ folk/rock.
Next to be pulled into the ranks was
talented New Zealander Bob Daisley, who had already built up a solid
reputation as an excellent bass player in such bands as Chicken Shack and
Broken Glass. He was also a talented songsmith with a reputation for
enjoying the wild side of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. After Widowmaker,
Daisley went on to leave his mark with Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Uriah Heep,
and Gary Moore to name but a few.
Obviously a singer had to be found to
front this lot and Bender had always been a great admirer of the vocalist
from Love Affair (who had had a massive hit with the fabulous “EverLastin’
Love”). That man was Steve Ellis, who was lazing around in London after the
collapse of his own self-named band. When he was first approached, Ellis was
not keen to join this venture as he was jaded by the whole rock ‘n’ roll
business, but once persuaded to come to a rehearsal, magic bonds were formed
and the band was complete.
Widowmaker’s debut album, recorded in
1976 and released under the band’s own name, was a classic collection of
hard rockers and stadium power-ballads, with some remarkable singing and
Bender living up to his reputation as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitarist
of his era. Now we are not talking technical ability here, there are
probably hundreds of better guitarists, but Bender brought with him that
priceless commodity: Excitement.
The album opener “Such a Shame” is very
much in the same mould as “Black Dog” that opened up Led Zeppelin’s fourth
album, allowing the band to put their collective wares on show. After that
comes the beautiful “Pin a Rose on Me”, followed by the rocker “On the Road”
and “Straight Faced Fighter”, which is perfect arena rock.
The next two songs are the albums
centerpieces. “Ain’t Telling You Nothing” starts off as a slow-burner before
building to a frantic climax where Bender’s guitar takes the song by the
scruff of the neck and rings every ounce of excitement from it. “When I Met
You” had originally been released on Luther Grosvenor’s solo album “Under
Open Skies”, but was dusted down and given the rock ‘n’ rolls by the band.
The album closes with two more rockers and two more ballads including the
heartfelt “Leave the Kids Alone”.
You may now be thinking, “But I thought
this stupid dog said they were a five-piece?” Well, thereby hangs a tale.
After recording the album, and whilst rehearsing to take the music to the
streets, Bender, who liked moving and giving the audience a show so much,
decided it was impossible for him to hold down all the guitar parts at the
same time. Huw Lloyd-Langton, the original space daze guitarist from
Hawkwind, was therefore drafted in to give Widowmaker a two-pronged lead
guitar attack. Lloyd-Langton stayed with the band until the bitter end two
This is an excellent album still worth
a listen today:
Such a Shame
Pin a Rose on Me
On The Road
Straight Faced Fighter
Ain’t Telling You Nothing
When I Met You
Leave The Kids Alone
Shine a Light on Me
Got A Dream
Ariel Bender - guitar
Huw Lloyd-Langton - guitar
Paul Nichols - drums
Bob Daisley - bass
Steve Ellis - vocals on 1st album and
the live set
John Butler - vocals on “Too Late to
November 10, 2018 - November 16, 2018
Jeff Beck: ‘Blow by Blow’
performs in concert in this Oct. 6, 2013 file photo. (Owen
If Jeff Beck was lucky enough to be a
dog, he’d probably be a whippet: fast, intelligent, dangerous and highly
strung. He came to prominence in the mid-Sixties when his guitar slinging
capabilities were put to the test as he successfully replaced Eric Clapton
in the Yardbirds.
After blowing his mind (and everyone
else’s) whilst on tour in America, Mrs. Beck’s bad boy spent the next few
years searching for his musical kennel. First of all there was the Blues
rock of the Jeff Beck Group, which sensationally contained Rod Stewart,
Ronnie Wood, and Nicky Hopkins on keyboards (who incidentally turned down
Led Zeppelin to join this outfit). Then there was a second edition of the
band, with Cozy Powell, which went nowhere.
Next up was a union with ex-Vanilla
Fudge rhythm section member Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice (British dogs &
American cats obviously don’t mix!).
Beck then went on to make this all
instrumental album, which was an incredible success all over the world.
Supported by Max Middleton on keyboards, he also had the fifth Beatle,
George Martin, producing the whole thing.
“Blow By Blow” finds young Beck with a
bass-drums-keyboards outfit which was augmented by some tastefully
unobtrusive string arrangement. But don’t let that fool you, the guitar is
right up there and in your face throughout. All his trademark licks, fierce
attacks, thick tones, micro-tonal bending, distortion, screaming feedback,
vibrato, sustain, sonic hoodoo, and splatter blasting are all still on show.
Within the concept of Martin’s superb
production, Beck is still let loose on such crazy workouts as “Air Blower”,
“Scatter Brain” and the supersonic “Freeway Jam”, where the sound-effects
department is really put to the test.
Beck also proves that he can structure
a melody and turn it into something of great beauty. “Cause We’ve Ended As
Lovers”, written by Stevie Wonder, is Beck’s gorgeous tribute to his own
guitar hero, the sadly departed Roy Buchanan. The final track, “Diamond
Dust” is the guitarist at the absolute peak of his powers, clocking in at
nearly nine minutes it’s guaranteed to send shivers up and down your spine.
“Blow By Blow” was certainly Jeff
Beck’s finest hour, but to get the full blown story you should also buy the
3-CD Beckology, which will take you on a musical journey with Beck from the
very beginning with the Tridents in 1963 to his solo album “Guitar Shop” in
1989, an impressive collection indeed.
Mott the Dog album rating: 5 Stars
You Know What I Mean
She’s A Woman
Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers
Jeff Beck – guitar
Max Middleton - keyboards
Phil Chen - bass guitar
Richard Bailey – drums
Update Saturday, November 3, 2018 - November 9, 2018
The Wildhearts: ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’
For a couple of years
at the beginning of the Nineties, the Wildhearts were the band on
everybody’s lips in Britain; on the cover of all the rock magazines,
smashing up media offices and grabbing headlines in national newspapers.
They were even on Top of the Pops.
The band started when Ginger (David
Wallis) was kicked out of the Quireboys for being rather a bad influence, so
he decided to start his own group with him playing all the lead guitar
parts, writing the songs and even reluctantly taking over the position of
lead singer. So there was no chance of him being fired again. A few other
lead singers were initially tried but nobody fitted in.
So a band was put together with CJ
(Christopher Jagdhar) on guitar and harmony vocals, Danny McCormack on bass
guitar, while Dog’s D’Amour’s Bam was kidnapped to fill the drum stool. Bam
subsequently returned to the Dogs and was replaced by Stidi (Andrew
Stidolph), who, after recording the first album, was himself replaced by
Ritch Battersby. This is the line-up that most consider to be the classic
Ginger produced the goods in the song
writing department, combining such influences as The Beatles, Yardbirds,
Metallica and punk rock. The result was spikey rock with meaning. Demos were
recorded and submitted to various record companies. East West finally got
The Wildhearts to sign on the dotted line but then did not really seem to
know what to do with them.
Eleven of the best demos were compiled
and without re-recording were put out on vinyl. The album cover was a
picture of Ginger’s face in an oil bath wrapped in barbed wire with a giant
cockroach crawling out of his mouth. This was 1993 before Photo- shop, but
it was thought a better idea than some of the others put forward. The album
was re-released in 1994 with the addition of the superfast hit single
The songs, in their rough and ready
state, certainly had a roguish charm and were lapped up by an already
growing fan base. A stunning guitar solo on the song “My Baby Is A” was laid
down by the great rock guitarist Mick Ronson (sadly it was to be his last
contribution to the rock & roll recording world.)
All of the songs concerned Ginger’s
life experiences, which meant that most people of his generation could not
only rock along to the music, but also relate to the lyrics. The opening
track referred to Ginger’s apartment in London while the remaining songs
follow a similar theme of girlfriends, drinking, hangovers and general
The Wildhearts headlined the second
stage at 1993’s Monsters of Rock Festival above such bands as Terrorvision
and Skin. The album only reached number 46 in the album charts but it still
remains highly influential.
A bright future seemed to beckon but if
nothing else, The Wildhearts (and Ginger in particular) are masters of
snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The next album, cunningly titled
P.H.U.Q., got to number 7 in the charts but during the recording of it
Ginger, in a moment of madness which he was soon to regret, fired CJ and
thus upset the balance of the band. It was a blow from which they never
These days The Wildhearts occasionally
get together for irregular reunions, but the early magic is gone.
Greeting from Sh*tsville
Shame on Me
The Miles Away Girl
My Baby Is A…
News Of The World
Drinking About Life
Love U Til I Don’t
Ginger - lead guitar and vocals
CJ - guitar and harmony vocals
Danny McCormack - bass guitar and
Stidi - drums