Mott the Dog
John Eddie: ‘Who the Hell is John Eddie?’
Who the Hell is John Eddie? Well, let old Mott the Dog
tell you. John Eddie is a rocker from New Jersey, very much in the mould of
Bruce Springstein, John Cougar, or Jon Bon Jovi, who is definitely over the
age of forty and has written the ultimate road album. …and here it is for
John Eddie spent the first twenty years of his life trying to be a rock
icon. He was always respected in the music business but his partying
lifestyle was one of legend and always left him with a bad boy reputation to
live down. However, it was his rock & roll contemporaries who went on to
fame and fortune, playing to the large stadiums while Eddie has yet to make
that final step. But I can comfortably predict that this album will change
Eddie has surrounded himself with a bunch of his mates to form a band who
fortunately include some of the finest musicians that are available in the
United States of America.
Like any road dog, Eddie has had his ups and downs, kicks, scrapes, and
formed views on other beings that have crossed his life. So that’s what you
get in the songs; a potted history of life, sometimes uplifting, sometimes
depressing, or full of sorrow, or just good old outrageously funny.
Stretched over the twelve songs on this album you run the full gamut of all
The guitars are played by Kenny Vaughn and PK Lavengood, sometimes
belting out the licks and at other times laying down sympathetic simple
chords to add emotion to Eddie’s thoughts. Jim Dickson does a wonderful job
with the keyboard arrangements, keeping it simple while not leaving any
holes, and Kenny Aronoff puts the backbone into all the rhythms, whilst on
bass guitar is the wonderful Kenny Aaronson, all long sideburns, shades and
violently colored jackets who adds his own distinctive style to proceedings.
Welcome to the world according to John Eddie, sometimes interesting,
always controversial, heartbreaking if he wants to be, and very irreverent.
However, you cannot help but forgive a guy who has written two songs such as
“Forty” (although this song was written in 2003 and John admits to being 43
in the song, maybe on the re-issue it should be called “Sixty”) and “Play
Some Skynyrd” - the latter being a wonderful anthem to any band that has
ever been heckled from a loudmouth in the crowd to play something he knows
rather than make an effort to listen to something new. “Forty” will put a
wry smile on the lips of anybody who has reached that remarkable milestone
(Mott is 329 in dog years, you work it out.)
In “Play Some Skynard” you also get the answer to the meaning of life,
what more do you want for your buck? Well, actually you do get a bit more.
If you leave your CD on play after the last official song it does not take
long for you to discover two extra, hidden, un-credited songs tacked onto
Album Rating: 5 Stars
If You’re Here When I Get Back
Let me Down Hard
Jesus Is Coming
Place You Go
Play Some Skynyrd
It Doesn’t Get Better Than This
(Plus two bonus tracks)
John Eddie - vocals and acoustic guitar
Kenny Aronoff – drums
PK Lavengood – guitar
Kenny Vaughn – guitar
Jim Dickson – keyboards
Kenny Aaronson - bass guitar
The Strawbs: ‘Live at the BBC Volume Two –In Concert’
The Strawbs are shown in this early 1970s photo.
The Strawbs started
out as a bluegrass/folk outfit in 1964 before progressing to become over the
years a full blown pop/rock band, and very good they have always been too.
They keep playing concerts to this very day in fact, either as the acoustic
Strawbs or as the full blown electric Strawbs.
In all there have been 31 musicians who could call themselves a Strawb but
Dave Cousins, with his unique and emotional vocals, is the only person to be
able to say he has stayed the course (apart from a brief hiatus in the early
Eighties.) But some mighty fine musicians have passed through the ranks over
the years. Female vocalists have included Sandy Denny and Sonja Kristina
while those who have warmed the keyboard seat include three Wakeman’s (Rick,
Adam and Oliver), Blue Weaver, John Hawkins and Don Airey.
Dave Lambert was there for an awful long time and of course John Ford and
Richard Hudson are famous for being in the band and writing their best known
hit single, the simply excruciating “Part Of The Union”. Fortunately Dave
Cousins kept his hand firmly on the quill for most of the song writing.
In 2010 the BBC finally unlocked their vaults and released in entirety the
music recorded by the Strawbs for the Beeb. Volume one is a compilation of
songs collected from various radio shows over the years and a very fine
selection it is too. But it is the second volume where things really step on
the gas with three full ‘in concert’ recordings taped from 1971-1974, when
perhaps the Strawbs were in their pomp.
The first CD features Rick Wakeman and you can hear why Yes were so glad to
steal him away. Next up was Blue Weaver who, not to be outdone by his
illustrious predecessor, really gives some welly to the keyboards on the
second outing. Weaver had an illustrious career after leaving the Strawbs,
first with Mott The Hoople and then later finding fame and a massive fortune
working with the Bee Gees. Then came John Hawken who moved onto many
different regions of rock music.
But more importantly for the listener is that the music throughout is of the
very highest standard. The songwriting of Dave Cousins is a wonder to listen
to, varying from soft lullabies like “Tears/Pavan” and the sumptuous “A
Glimpse of Heaven” to the full blooded progressive rock of “Sheep”, which
used to finish their live sets back in the day where the band could be
mistaken for playing with the power and the passion of Deep Purple (apart
from Dave Cousins distinctive vocals).
You also get two versions of “Hangman and the Papist”, one from 1971 and the
other from 1973 (as is the nature of these collections, many songs are
repeated due to their popularity in the set). The Strawbs would yearly add a
little twist to each song to keep the enthusiasts happy. On this, perhaps
one of Dave Cousins most famous songs, you can hear how the band have
The Cousins’ wonderful hit single “Lay Down” is played with much gusto and
is far more representative of the Strawbs sound whilst still remaining
commercial. To hear a marvelous rock band who have now become a worldwide
institution, please dig out this album, turn it up and enjoy. (Just skip
“Part of the Union”).
The Strawbs have had far too may band members to name them all, but song
wise what you get stretched over the two CD’s is this:
Theatre, London 05/08/1971)
Hangman and the Papist
Martin Luther’s Dream
A Glimpse of Heaven
In Amongst The Roses
Flower and The Young Man
The Shepherds Song
When You wore a Tulip
CD 2 (Paris Theatre, London 25/03/1973)
Hangman and the Papist
The River/ Down by The Sea
Winter and Summer
Part Of The Union
CD 2 (Golders Green Hippodrome 11/04/1974)
Out in The Cold/Round and Round
Heroes and Heroines
The River /Down by The Sea/Lay a little Love on Me
Grey Lady Down: ‘Star-Crossed’
In 1998, following a
breakup of the band for various reasons, the fabulous Grey Lady Down
released a posthumous double live album titled “The Time Of Our Lives”. To
all lovers of progressive rock the album was a delight, whilst the news of
the band split was a serious disaster.
Fortunately sense was seen and after a
chance meeting in a pub between original guitarist Julian Hunt and final
keyboard wizard Mark Westworth, it was decided to put the old girl back
together again. Vocalist Martin Wilson and bassist Sean Spear quickly jumped
back on board, a new drummer was recruited in the shape of Phill Millichamp
and the Grey Lady was up and running once more.
Grey Lady Down are shown rehearsing in this undated
After a year gigging all over Europe
the band retreated to the studio and returned with the finest progressive
rock album of this millennium, “Star-Crossed” released in 2002. The album is
so perfect that even the spaces between songs seem to have been judged to
All the tracks on this album are
excellent, featuring plenty of great soloing from keyboards and guitar, plus
the heaviest rhythm section that thumps every note into your foundations.
“Fading Faith” opens the album with
some rippling piano, and then the band thunders in before leaving way for
Martin Wilson’s lyrics. Wilson has always been a distinctive vocalist and
singers always seem more involved when they actually write the words. Since
the release of Grey Lady Down’s previous studio CD, “Fear” in 1997, Wilson’s
voice had certainly taken on an extra presence and he is surely still the
premier vocalist in today’s progressive rock scene.
“Fallen”, the central song on the album
and lasting nearly fourteen wonderful minutes is a classic example of all
that’s good in progressive rock; good story line and dramatic crescendos
with an exciting dynamic conclusion.
12–string acoustic guitars begin and
are evident throughout “Sands of Time”, which in an abbreviated version
would make a superb single and this charming song is enhanced by some fine
flute work by Hughie McMillan.
Always keeping the best till last, we
come to the album’s tour de force “Cross Fire”. This one really rocks and
would have been perfect for packed arenas if only the band had got what they
deserved and had blazed a trail across the sky, packing out venues across
the globe. It’s definitely the best and heaviest progressive metal laid down
this side of early Deep Purple.
Then, just when you thought it couldn’t
get any better, guest guitarist Bernie Marsden (yes, he of Whitesnake fame)
screams forth and leaves a skull-crushing solo to finish the song.
How sad that a band this good can slip
through our old rock paws and fall away. Grey Lady down not becoming huge
has always been a huge disappointment to me.
Album Rating: 5 Stars
As The Brakes Fail
New Age Tyranny
Sands Of Time
Grey Lady Down:
Sean Spear – bass
Martin Wilson – vocals
Mark Westworth - synthesizers,
Julian Hunt – guitars
Phill Millichamp – drums