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Mott the Dog
 

November 17, 2018 - November 23, 2018

Widowmaker: ‘Straight Faced Fighters’

 

Ariel Bender in concert.

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 mid 1970s.

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 name act.

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 years later.

This is an excellent album still worth a listen today:
5 Stars.

Track List:

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

Running Free

Got A Dream

Musicians:

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 Cry”


November 10, 2018 - November 16, 2018

Jeff Beck: ‘Blow by Blow’

Jeff Beck performs in concert in this Oct. 6, 2013 file photo. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP Photo)

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

Tracks List:

You Know What I Mean

She’s A Woman

Constipated Duck

Air Blower

Scatterbrain

Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers

Thelonius

Freeway Jam

Diamond Dust

Musicians:

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’

Ginger from 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 Wildhearts.

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 “Caffeine Bomb”.

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 rabble rousing.

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 recovered.

These days The Wildhearts occasionally get together for irregular reunions, but the early magic is gone.

Track List:

Greeting from Sh*tsville

TV Tan

Everlone

Shame on Me

Caffeine Bomb

Lovesh*t

The Miles Away Girl

My Baby Is A…

Sucker Punch

News Of The World

Drinking About Life

Love U Til I Don’t

The Wildhearts:

Ginger - lead guitar and vocals

CJ - guitar and harmony vocals

Danny McCormack - bass guitar and vocals

Stidi - drums


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Widowmaker: ‘Straight Faced Fighters’

Jeff Beck: ‘Blow by Blow’

The Wildhearts: ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’