BITCHES SIN

Kerrang! No1 Feature – June 1981

“Bitches sin: this excellently named combo were formed a year ago, culling members from a variety of bands based in the Barrow-in-Furness area. Viz and to wit Alan Cockburn (vocals), Ian and Pete Toomey (guitars), Pez (bass) and Bill Knowles drums.

A demo tape gained exposure on Piccadilly radio and in January of this year Bitches Sin recorded a single for release on neat records, “always ready”. They’re also included on the neat compilation cassette “Lead Weight”.



JULY 1982

BITCHES SIN ‘Predator’ (Heavy Metal Records HMR LP 4)

BITCHES SIN!! Aaaargh! Kerrang! That name – it’s so heavy. They’ve just gotta be good. One problem – they aren’t. In fact, Bitches Sin are useless, garbage material. They can’t play, they can’t sing, they can’t produce and they sure as Hell can’t ,write a good song.

I’ve heard the likes of ‘Runaway’ (yawn) ‘Looser’ (snore) and ‘Riding High’ (oh, the tedium) a hundred, nay a thousand times before and I’ve never been turned on to them. It’s the same old beats, the same old ideas. God, It was hard to sit through this album, but I managed to and deserve a medal for it. If this is what Heavy Metal’s all about, then I’m a futurist!

Oh, the shame.

‘Fallen Star’ is average for its harmony guitar, but that’s the best I can do for you lads. Ain’t life a bitch!

HOWARD JOHNSON


“Bitchin’ hour”
“Bitches sin are useless garbage material. They can’t play, they can’t sing, they can’t produce, and they sure as hell can’t write a good song” (Howard Johnson – Kerrang! Issue 20 – see above).

Left to Right: IAN TOOMEY, FRANK QUEGAN, BILL KNOWLES, MIKE FRAZER, PETE TOOMEY

It’s often been said that for an unknown band, a good review/feature in Kerrang! Can be of enormous benefit. So, I suppose, the opposite is true as well. Certainly after writing the above “obituary” on the “Predator” album last year, Howard “quiche” Johnson won’t find himself heading bitches sin’s Christmas card list. More likely, he’s a hot candidate to have a painful prodder stuck up his nether orifice.

“I can’t say that review did us any good, ‘cos it wasn’t so much a fair review as an out-and-out slagging.” Barnstormed sin guitarist/spokesperson Ian Toomey on a frosty line from the band’s Cumbrian base recently. “What he said was silly. There were musical passages on the album, so to say we can’t play was just plain silly.

Basically, we had lots of reviews at the time the album came out from fanzines and major magazines, and most of ’em thought it was pretty good. Indeed we got a four star review in sounds the week before Howard’s thing appeared, and the guy who did that thought our LP was better than both the Fist and Raven ones which came out at the same time! So I think overall Kerrang! Was out of step with the majority.”

Well were we? Certainly, the consensus of opinion amongst those who have heard ‘Predator” is none too complimentary, which leads me to suggest that whatever the quality of this band (of which more soon), their first album was a musical embarrassment. Indeed Toomey himself seemed almost to concede the point.”

“It wasn’t a good representation of what the band is all about. For me, maybe three songs on the worked out well. But, what you’ve got to remember is that we worked like blue-arsed flies to get it finished, doing 10 tracks in five days.
“We also had a problem cutting the album. When we heard the master tapes, it sounded quite good. But none of the band were able to be present when it was finally cut, and something went wrong there. If you play the album on a good stereo system, you’ll notice that the lower end has practically disappeared.”

Excuses apart, it has to be said that Bitches Sin lost a tremendous amount of ‘oomph’ when they switched labels about a year or so back from neat to heavy metal records. Now, whilst with the neatos, Bitches Sin did come across like a third division band with the potential at least to gain promotion to the second division. If you doubt me, hunt down their single “always ready/sign of the times”, or better still check out “down the road” on the neat “leadweight” cassette compilation of 1981. What this trio of cuts proves is that Bitches Sin do possess more imagination/appreciation of melody than most bans. So what’s gone wrong since the band became members of the HMR roster?

“I think the reason our recent stuff hasn’t sounded so good is due to the difference between Neat and Heavy Metal Records,” answered Toomey. “Paul Birch, who runs HMR is a good businessman and highly ambitious. He pushes bands to the limit, and certainly knows how to promote ’em. Our album got tremendous advertising back up. In this respect he’s got the edge on neat. But, on the recording front, it’s Neat who come out better. They’ve got their own studios and can afford to give a band almost limitless time to get a proper sound, whereas with Heavy Metal, everything is much more ‘rush, rush’. I think this comes through in the final product.”

However, whether or not bitches sin will get a chance to utilise HMR records expertise in the area of promotion remains open to real doubt at the moment.

“The official word from them is that ‘the situation is very much up in the air’. We are going to be doing some new demos very soon, possibly in Neat’s impulse studios, and the label want to hear them before committing themselves to any new deal. But we aren’t gonna bank on heavy metal taking up a second album – we’re also talking to other companies such as neat and bullet”
In the meantime, as Bitches Sin await the vinyl verdict, they’ll be taking to the road for a series of March/April club and college headlining gigs.

“We aim to show the public that we aren’t as bad as Howard Johnson suggested. In fact, it’s on-stage that we really excel, and Bitches Sin can blow most bands off any time.”

This, is in fact, will be the first opportunity for most punters to gain sight’n’sounding of the new sin line up: Ian Toomey and his brother Pete (guitars); Frank Quegan (vocals); Bill Knowles (drums); Mike Frazer (bass). Is it perhaps significant that only the thrashin’ Toomeys remain from the line-up that recorded “predator”?
“Well I think right now, bitches sin has the sort of line-up we’ve always needed. Frank Quegan has a great voice, just like Ian Gillan, and he fits so well into the band. And I’m really glad Bill has rejoined us after a short spell away. He was also responsible for bringing Mike Frazer to our attention.

“Our attitude at the moment is one of determination. We are gonna have a real go at getting through to people!”
Three years after their formation, bitches sin may be in a rut partially of their own making. But I don’t think we’ve heard the last of ’em.

No More Chances – 7″ Review 1983
The sleeve notes on this 12″ go to great lengths to let us know who played which solo on which song. Probably because the solos are so forgettable the band themselves are in danger of not knowing who was responsible.

C’mon lads, forget the solos until you have some good songs and backing tracks to put them on.

BATTLEAXE

Live, Leeds, Poly. GEOFF BANKS
IT WAS a miserable day in Saltburn By The Sea when I first set my jaded eyes on Battleaxe. On that day the band had to play second fiddle to Sheffield techno-rockers Geddes Axe, but in the interim months the set has been sorted out and the band have concentrated on developing their own sound and identity.

Gone is the spine-vibrating drone and in its place is a bluesier feel, though the songs are still played at full tilt. The most drastic change is in guitarist Steve Hardy’s reappraisal of his performance – he’s now replaced the Fast Eddie thrash with a more subtle technique that relies as much on the gaps he leaves as the parts he plays. At times it’s reminiscent of the late lamented Paul Kossoff.

A lot of emphasis is still on ‘the show’ with dry ice and thousands of watts of blazing light, while Dave King stands legs astride on the drum riser pumping out the gritty vocals. As good a singer and frontman as he is, however, he does have one fault: namely a reluctance to look anyone in the eye which makes him appear awkward and ill at ease. With more experience he should overcome this minor fault but to get to the top these days everything must be right.

‘Burn This Town’, the band’s first single, makes a mockery of the recorded version and is pure OTT mayhem with its Phil Taylor meets The Animal drumming – not bad for a man who had his skull almost cracked in half by a bunch of iron bar wielding mohicans. In fact, Ian’s drumming combined with Brian Smith’s full bass sound are the reason Steve has been given a free reign with his playing and doesn’t have to concentrate on filling out the sound.

With the right direction, Battleaxe could be huge, but like nine tenths of bands they don’t have the advantage of coming from London. However, with such a wealth of talent in the North East an in-depth look at regional Heavy Metal is well overdue.

‘Power From The Universe’ (Music For Nations MFN 25) – 1984
A DEFINITE move up and over from their dreary debut album ‘Burn This Town’, Battleaxe’s second, ‘Power From The Universe, finds the band climbing steadily up the Second Division league table But it’s the Second Division we’re talking about, tight fans, and that s no place elegant or extravagant enough for a rock’n’roll heart like mine to bleed in.

Battleaxe have got the might and the muscle, and they’re obviously not afraid to use it. Listening to the opening track ‘Chopper Attack’ in the office, even Dr Doom dragged out his trusty old cardboard guitar for a couple of bars. But it didn’t last long. Steve Hardy on lead guitar and drummer Ian McCormack know how to hit the Wipe-Out Button on all their intros and showpieces; it’s just the songs themselves that let things down Not enough meat between the legs; they don’t know how to strut with any conviction.

And then there are the excruciating lead vocals of Dave King. ‘Movin’ Metal Rock in particular falls apart the moment he comes in The lyrics are overly trite and the melody must have been dug up out of the cemetery, though the fires are burning right down in the boiler room. Say yeah.

Shout It Out’ wants to be ‘For Those About To Rock’ when it grows up and leaves home and why not. Anthemic chorus and trigger-happy lead lightning from the impressive Hardy ensure a safe enough ride through the garageland mechanics of auto rock. The wheels sure do spin fast, eating up the highway like a proper dog’s dinner on the climax of ‘Make It In America’. If only you could be sure that the band were taking you somewhere hot and lively As things stand presently, on tracks like ‘Over The Top’ I’d swear we were about two miles from the outskirts of somewhere as exotic as bleeding Slough, with the driver (Dave King again) asleep at the wheel.

If I had to put money on it, I’d bet that Battleaxe could give anybody with a penchant for workmanlike Heavy Metal a thoroughly enjoyable dose of the sweats, say at a venue like the Royal Standard on a Friday night But when I go to sleep at night I dream of bigger and better things.

BASHFUL ALLEY

Armed And Ready – Kerrang! April 1982 – Geoff Banks


BASHFUL ALLEY, in their original incarnation, came together in October 1980 at Lancaster University, where guitarist Rob Tidd and bassist Truff were studying. Initially a four piece, they played the normal pub/club circuit around Lancaster and Manchester before losing their drummer and vocalist when Truff and Rob finished at University and returned to their native Lichfield.

Upon arriving home they set about finding a new drummer, and after intensive searching came across Robin Baxter. Realising that this was the man for them they set about knocking Bashful Alley back into shape, with guitarist Rob Tidd taking over the vocal chores.

By last October they’d got sufficiently organised to go into Saccen Studios, Stourport, and record a demo of three self penned numbers, ‘My My My’, ‘Running Blind’ and ‘She Only Wants Me For My Body’.

I notice in your biog. that you supported Sweet and Lancaster University.

“That was a joke,” adds Rob, “hardly anyone turned up. The band that were supposed to support didn’t show, so we were called in because of our previous connections with the University. We thought that it would be our big break but we ended up playing to fewer people than at our own gigs.

Now onto the important stuff. Bashful Alley are releasing a single that should be out by the time you read this. The A-side is the aforementioned ‘Running Blind’ while the flip feature

August 1982
BASHFUL ALLEY: ‘Running Blind’ (Ellie Jay). I suspect you may have a little trouble finding this one but well worth looking out for. Somewhat limited on the imagination front but good, solidly executed riff-rock for all that. Bodes well for the future.

BARON ROJO

ARMED AND READY 1982
KINGSWAY RECORDERS.
Ian Gillan’s own studio is slightly out of place. For amongst the firms of solicitors and financial high-flyers, who inhabit the skyscraper complex in central London, which houses the studio. A steady flow of rock ‘n’ rollers are to be seen, heading for the basement and a rendezvous with days, and often weeks, of toil as album deadlines loom.

The scene takes on a more bizarre aspect because; the interview is with a Spanish band. Namely Baron Rojo (or Red Baron. as is easier to remember, with scarcely a word of Spanish on my lips and their knowledge of English being decidedly dodgy. To put it mildly, I feel more out of place than an unmarried man at a wife-swapping party does! To my eternal gratitude, two interpreters make the job easier.
Carlos de Castro and brother Armando provide the twin axe attack of Red Baron, and are ably assisted by Jose Luis Campuzano on bass and lead vocals and Hermes Calabria (drums. The band have had massive success in Spain with their debut album ‘large Vida AI Rock And Roll’, so why come to Kingsway in England, where Red Baron are totally unknown to record the follow-ups
“The main reason was that Kingsway is owned by Ian Gillan and it was he both in Deep Purple and in his own band, who has exerted a great influence on us all. What is more it is a legendary studio in the hard rock field. Many famous names have used its facilities, such as Jimi Hendrix.”

No doubt Red Baron are trying to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, so will the album be released in England Armando looks directly at my interpreter to reply, making me feel totally out of it
“That depends on a lot of different matters, not the least of which is the impact that our very presence here will create. We’d like to be able to get our records played on the radio and have the press write about us. We’re glad to have had the press we’ve managed to get already in Britain.

In fact, we’re all amazed, because we thought that nobody had heard of us here, and to read about ourselves was incredible’ When we saw out name we thought to ourselves ‘Maybe something is going on’

The main thing that should be known, however, is that something definitely is ‘going on’. And that is that a hard rock band is around that has something new to offer a music form that is sorely devoid of innovation -and it’s not solely the novelty value of a band singing in Spanish More important is the continual combination which Red Baron find in matching a US style melody with a UK hardness. Talk about the best of both worlds.

It is strange to find a Spanish heavy metal band, and it must be hard to keep a band that is so alone in action Armando
“Not as difficult as it might have been. Y’see. Carlos and myself have played in many other groups ever since we learnt to play guitar about 10 years ago. All these bands were small hard rock outfits but without contracts and the like when the opportunity arose to loin a fairly successful band, Coz, in 1975, we both took it. Naturally to begin with, they played heavier musk. But directives came from above and the style began to mellow by 1979, Coz was becoming unrepresentative of what we wanted to play and so Carlos and I left to form Red Baron.

We had obviously made many friends and contacts in our days with Coz and so had a fair amount of help in getting Red Baron off the ground. Even so, the vast majority of Spanish record companies are solely interested in commercial sounds, which is not us at all We are signed to a small label. Chapa Discos. And whatever we do as a group is tied up with the progress of the company, we might be looking for a contract over here however ”
Red Baron may tour Britain, and you’d better pray that they do Will I be there? You can bet your Motorhead sweatshirt on it busters

HOWARD JOHNSON



Kerrang! Issue 45 – July 1983

BARON ROJO ‘Metalmorphosis’ (Chapa import)


UP UNTIL now I haven’t had much time for the Spanish Baron’s brand of heavy rock, figuring their sudden rise to fame over here in Britain a quirk of a Ho-Jo brainstorm that stemmed from listening to all that American wimphem! (Only kidding Howard!). But just one spin of this, their third LP, has for me proved ‘I-can-pick-’em’ Johnson’s case. ‘Metalmorphosis’ really is an excellent album.

It’s far from the blatant riff orgy that I feared and instead contains nine numbers (and a freebie single with two more) that display power, melody and variety. Just one thing though, it’s all sung in Spanish. That may bother some of you but it made no difference to my enjoyment of the music and I reckon it’s far superior – and more interesting – to any dodgy English accents.

Whether by choice or because their previous British label, Kamaflage, has collapsed, this is a Spanish only album available on import. Buy it and dig out your old phrase book from the bottom of your suitcase if you really want to know what they’re singing about, but really it doesn’t matter. Baron Rojo let their music do the talking and this record shouts plenty loud enough to get the message across.

The de Castro brothers, Armando and Carlos, on guitars work well together producing good riffs and some smart solos – often reminiscent of Schenker. Listen to them on the furious opener and chosen single ‘Casi Me Mato’ or the following ‘Rockero Indominable’ (which sounds for all the world like a ‘Deep Purple In Rock’ out-take.)

They do let themselves down a bit with the last track on side one (‘Siempre Estas Alli’) which is a little too much in the mould of the Scorpions ‘When The Smoke Is Going Down’, but it’s a rare slip. Generally, their unique vocals work for the Barons, giving them a style and an identity all their own,

Flip it over and you’ll hear ‘Hiroshima’; a tried and tested theme of late but done here very well with strong harmonies, a swaggering riff, a suitably oriental feel and cataclysmic ending. Then comes ‘El Malo’…

I could go on, but perhaps you’re giggling at the titles. DON’T! This is far more than just another continental import. I think you’ll be as surprised and impressed

NEIL JEFFRIES

GIRLSCHOOL

LIVE REVIEWS

Forest Nations. Brussels 1983 NEIL JEFFFRIES
HAVING secured this warm-up slot on the continental leg of Rainbow’s 1982 World Tour our heroines stood poised to climb another rung up the ladder of fame. Here in this marvelous circular hall they probably did just that but still something seemed to be missing. In their performance Girlschool seemed to be only halfway there. It was probably down to set pacing. Perhaps they’ll never be a great band but live they are nearly always entertaining. If the set were organised a little better then everything could be different.

‘Screaming Blue Murder’ was a powerful enough starter with Gil Weston stretching up to sing into her mike like a smaller and far prettier version of Lemmy. But then they lost ground for a couple of numbers until ‘When Your Blood Runs Cold’ and its neat harmony vocals on the chorus. The excellent ‘You Got Me’ was powerfully followed by ‘Hit And Run’ with Kim pounding out that grinding riff in mean style and Gil grinning broadly at some nutter on his mate’s shoulders waving a Union Jack at her. (There was about 300 British present after making the long journey by coach.)

As musicians the band have clearly improved 100-fold in the past four years or so and Kelly in particular has blossomed into a very fine guitarist with a touch of class to complement that racy live-wire aggression. In ‘Future Flash’ she fumed up trumps with an inspired lead break. Yet elsewhere inspiration was sadly lacking. “Take It All Away” is a good song but the extended sing-along just threw cold water on the impetus Girlschool had built. ‘Race With the Devil’ and ‘Tush’ are both great songs but why still cover them?
Fortunately they got it right in the end by closing with their riotous anthem ‘Emergency’ (still sounding terrific) and so tipped the balance. The matches and lighters routine and sufficient foot stomping managed to call them back for ‘Come On Let’s Go’. But too often they were teetering on a fine line and making things unnecessarily hard for themselves.

Live Review – Country Club, Los Angeles, Feb. 1983. Review by Laura Canyon

Don’t know what the current attitude of the press is towards Girlschool (hey, I don’t read this stuff: I just look at the pictures, preferably Michael Schenker in leather pictures, but that’s a whole other review), but seeing as how they’ve been going and doing okay for quite a while now, I imagine that at least some of the attitude’s unfavourable. Time to bitch. Time to knock them off their critic’s favourite pedestal to make room for new heroines (though lord only knows which new heroines: in HM they’re still, unfortunately, in short supply). All I know is what my ears and eyes and bar bill at the end of an evening at the Country Club told me: Girlschool haven’t last any of it – They’re a knockout!

Pandemonium, a local four-piece with some good hooks (not to mention good looks! You should have seen the army of teenage girls they brought with them) are finishing up when I arrive and, after a short interval while the girls change into something a little more uncomfortable, like tight, shiny black leather stuff aimed at wreaking havoc on impressionable young Californian male minds, on they trot to the strains of Julie Andrews crooning ‘The Sound Of Music’. The Country Club explodes in an uproar as a thousand people with exceptional taste in music squeeze past the neat black tables and down to the stand-up section at the front to get a better view.

‘Screaming Blue Murder’, starts it off, with the accompanying howls of delight from the front rows, solid hefty stuff with a tasteful guitar lick – none of this mindless blur axe diddling! – from the still lovely Kelly Johnston. Gil, Kim and Kelly line up together for a grinding guitar bash, then it’s straight into ‘Play Dirty’, tough but with nice harmonies, and a “love song”, ‘Hit And Run’ and that gets a few of the album tracks out of the way!

Kim’s in fine voice – nothing fancy, just straight-down-the-line and effective, as always – and Kelly does a nice job on the songs she gets to sing on. Gil generally cavorts around, winding the boys up in her little Pocohontas outfit, and Denise is an animal back there on the drums.

It’s the usual basic, controlled mayhem you expect from a Girlschool gig – drink gets spilled onstage, guitars go out of tune, boys get hauled off by bouncers as they get carried away down the front, but nothing seems to stop the girls’ good-natured stance and strong playing. No lie, it sounded like more than four people up there more than once.

Most of the songs are short, direct, almost like HM-ed pop songs though the biggest response of the evening probably went to their notorious cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Tush’, with Kim making sure that everybody clapped, punched and ‘Tush’-ed along.

Their constant slogging around the US seems to be paying off – they’re playing bigger clubs over here now with more people in them – and if they’re still not exactly a household name, they’re certainly getting there.

Live Review – Marquee, London July 1983. Review by Malcome Dome

PLUS CA chance, plus c’est la meme chose. No, fear not mayhemsters, Girlschool haven’t been bitten by a culture bug. It’s just my way of telling all of ‘you lot out there’, that nothing has changed with this band in the year or so since I last clapped eyes and ears on them at Newcastle City Hall.

As on that occasion, the same strenghts shone on through and the same weaknesses blundered unmistakably forth.

Let’s begin with the positive. As a club level performance, this was superb entertainment. Even Xavier Russell’s noted ‘King Lears’ were seen to give a metaphorical thumbs up sign. Wonderfully tacky (the band not Russell!), sparkingly inept, da goils immediately had the measure of the sauna-style conditions, giving the sweating throng what they wanted with a safe, solid set of oldies such as ‘Sceaming Blue Murder’, ‘Take It All Away’, ‘Hit And Run’, ‘Nothin’ To Lose’, ‘Demolition Boys’ and the inevitable ‘Emergency.’ All good stuff heartily received by a crowd who were made to realise that Kim, Kelly, Denise and Gil are still a potential force to be reckoned with.

But – yeah there has to be a but – the band delivered in a manner that suggested that they’ve not yet learnt to make the jump from a small pond into a big ocean. Sure, this was a ‘Special Marquee Anniversary Appearance’, but the gals did not adapt their approach to suit the ‘intimate’ conditions so much as run through their usual style. There was little indication that there was more to them than was dished out tonight. I got the feeling that here were Girlschool in their entirety and consequently lacking true status.

It showed particularly during Kim’s between song raps. Punctuating each sentence with a dedication to ‘you lot down there’ used to be fun and amusing, but it’s rapidly becoming tedious. And the one new song played ‘Running For Cover’ was worryingly ordinary. Uf that’s an example of what we can expect vinylly from them later on this year, then I can’t honestly see the longed for commercial breakthrough coming to fruition.

Girlschool have reached the crossroads. Either the carry on ploughing the same furrow and drift into an eventual break-up, or else they get themselves together and go for th ‘big one’. I know they’re capable of enormous things, the question is do they!!

Live review, Dingwalls, London August 1984. Review by Mick Wall
MOST HARD-CORE Girlschool fans swallowed a bitter pill when the pristine ‘Play Dirty’ album surfaced last year. Despite its glossy upmarket sleeve and smoothed musical advancement many, including myself, detected a definite air of disenchantment with the final product.
The trouble with progression is that you can often leap too far. Fortunately Girlschool have realised that mistake and, judging by this low key (actually more of a showcase) performance, they seem keen to remedy matters as fast as they can.

Between a densely packed mass of bobbing shoulders, banging heads and flying hair (in stifling heat), the new look Girlschool strutted their stuff in pioneering fashion. Whilst never having been a converted fan (I couldn’t handle the screeches!), this gig brought a response out of me that under normal conditions I would have found disturbing. But hell, I wasn’t even drunk!

Immediate reactions were focussed almost exclusively on new front lady Jackie Bodimead. Apart from her captivating looks and sexual appeal, this young wench has definitely got the goods and she knows how to deliver them. Alternating between stage centre (teasing) and a bank of keyboards (practically inaudible from where I was standing), she not only proved that her appointment was wildly successful, but also necessary.

Kelly’s replacement (a horrible description I know), the sultry looking Chris Bonacci, scored high on marks too. She’s hot, she’s young and she’s already on her way to becoming a fine axe heroine.

Obviously nervous at first, the big sisters – that’s Kim, Denise and Gil – loosened up mid-set to coast home in traditional fashion by pulling out a selection of their best oldies, soaked in Aerosmith-style swank. Pick of the bunch were; ’20th Century Boy’, Surrender’, ‘Take It All Away’, ‘Emergency’ and ‘Burning In The Heat’. Girlschool are back re-acquainting themselves with old friends and making a lot of new ones. Count me in.


Album And Single Reviews

‘1-2-3-4 Rock’N’Roll’ (Bronze)
You’ll either love this or loathe it because it sounds like Joan Jett/Gary Glitter – unashamedly commercial and featuring one of the crassest choruses I’ve ever heard, but it’s so corny I love it! It s also just daft enough to be a monster hit. Altogether now. let’s hear you singing along to this one.

GIRLSCHOOL: ’20th Century Boy’ (Bronze) Steve Joule 1983
I really love some of Girlschool’s own songs but rather than cover dead pop stars’ numbers they should make a big effort and cover their own. God, these girls have written better classics than this stood on their heads. I’m really sorry; I wanted to like this record so much, and I have tried, but it just doesn’t cut it.

GIRLSCHOOL ‘Burning In The Neat’ (Bronze) 1983
This has a great production and is very cleverly done. I think it’s the most commercial record they’ve ever made. The beginning is rather like Bach but it quickly switches into a guitar riff similar to ‘You Really Got Me’ from the Kinks.
The vocals aren’t especially great, but then that’s never been a strong point with Girlschool.


Other stuff:

Enid William 1981

Chris Bonacci 1985

BANDANNA

BANDANNA – Armed And Ready, February 1982

AS WELL as being an Indian silk scarf, Bandanna is also the name of the latest band to come out of the Mecca of Mayhem, namely Birmingham. Yet despite an underground club scene that makes the current London one look pathetic, up and coming Heavy Metal bands receive almost no exposure (outside of these columns) are often forced to split without their true talents ever seeing the light of day.

Formed just over a year ago Bandanna; Dave Kirby (vocals), Pete Butler and Marc Whitehouse (guitars), Micky Hackett (bass) and Paul Thurlow (drums), have been slogging away at the local cicuit despite setbacks that would make most bands call it a day. Disaster number one was when Marc had his car stolen from outside a gig, followed a few weeks later by drummer Paul Thurlow having his prized Fibes double bass kit stolen from the band’s van.

But this isn’t a sob story because Bandanna, it seems, are about to put their past behind them and go for broke. Several independent labels have at last, via the bands loyal following, caught onto their original brand of boogie metal and from the live tapes of the band it’s no surprise. Notably ‘Do You Want It?’ with its AC/DC style and duelling guitars. Even the more catchy ‘Hard Man’ doesn’t slow the pace, and after ‘Easy Come Easy Go’, with its Coverdale style vocal, there isn’t a dry armpit in the house.

Even better news is that the band should be setting up a string of gigs across the country, so keep an eye out for them.

BABY TUCKOO

BABY TUCKOO ‘First Born’ (Ultra Noise ULTRA 2) Review by Geoff Barton April 1984
Taking their name from a phrase in James Joyce’s ‘Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man’ (arty, huh?) the Tuckoo have produced a barnstormin’ blockbuster of an album, similar in swirling sound and sensational spirit to Uriah Heep’s last two classic LPs, ‘Abominog’ and ‘Head First’.

With raucous ‘n’ raunchy production work from John Verity immense vocals from Rob Armitage (he sounds like a Kop full of Coverdales!) and cunning keyboard fills from ex-Geddes Axe man Andy Barrott. Bradford-based Baby T- concoct a brutally commercial potion that’s positively, powerfully addictive.

From the solar flare scorchin’ ‘Hot Wheels’, through the massive, brooding ballad ‘Broken Heart’, to the riotous cover of Tommy James And The Shondells ‘Mony Mony’ (a recent single), Baby Tuckoo’s intelligent-yet-uncompromising rock will surely bring ’em a great deal of glory.


KERRANG! ISSUE 79 October 1984

BABY TUCKOO: Dingwalls London

THEY MAY not be the best looking bunch (head) banging on the door to Metallic solvency, but they sure do offer a tough and rugged belt ‘n braces sound to match their animalesque visual appeal.

The set, as expected, is mostly made up of material from their debut ‘First Born’ album with a few classy new songs added to act as a taster for the next LP. ‘Baby’s Rockin’ Tonight’, ‘Things (Ain’t What They Seem)’ and ‘Rollin’ On’ led the field by a ludicrous length.

The latter is exceptionally impressive, perfectly showcasing the gargantuan vocal capacity of Rob Armitage, who has a voice that blends the volume of Coverdale, the phrasing of Van Morrison and the lunacy of Joe Cocker. This man has to be heard to be believed; he really is that good!

The killer in the pack, however, is the brooding ‘Broken Heart’; set ablaze by the bass and drum partnership of Paul Smith and Tony Sugden, the song builds steadily to a rousing and riotous chorus where Andy Barrott’s swirling keyboards vibrate beneath Armitage’s remarkable hookline.

However, there is a slight drawback. Armitage may possess one of the most effective voices presently in circulation, but his superiority is totally spent between numbers. Offering nervous drivel might go down a treat in the local ‘Wheel Toppers
And Shunters Social Club’ but at Dingwalls it sounded just plain irritating. A shade more professionalism would work wonders.

Advancing slowly at the moment, Baby Tuckoo will, I’m sure, become major contenders.

DEREK OLIVER

ANGELWITCH

MARQUEE, LONDON APRIL 1982 DAVID LING

IT IS very unhip in HM circles to admit to liking Angelwitch. The music press completely ignore the band and even to a large proportion of the most of the most die-hard metal addicts the Witch are regarded as objects of derision.

So it was surprising to see the Marquee fuller than usual to welcome the band back from their self imposed exile of the last six months. As most of you will know, the original line-up disbanded in September of last year after three years of constant gigging. Kevin Riddles and Dave Dufort quit to form Tytan and now, after a brief flirtation with Deep Machine, guitarist Kevin Heyboune has reformed the band.

The set is comprised of mainly old material. In fact, only two numbers weren’t included in the old band’s repertoire. ‘Gorgon’ commenced the proceedings and particularly impressive were the new rhythm section of Gerry Cunningham (bass) and Micky Bruce (drums). Tightening up the general feel of the band.

The front five or six rows were going crazy as the set progressed through ‘Confused’ and ‘They Wouldn’t Dare’. A new song, ‘Living In Fear’, was unveiled and showed a fair amount of promise. Another newie followed and was even better. But just as my interest was aroused they blew it and played ‘Evil Games’ – the worst song the band has ever recorded.

From here onwards it was all oldies. ‘Sorcerers’, ‘White Witch’ and ‘Angel Of Death’ closed the set with a flourish. The crowd was going crazy and Kevin Heybourne returned to play a rather tedious guitar solo. Just as I was about to drop off to sleep they burst into a frenzied version of the band’s theme song ‘Angelwitch’, the highspot of the performance. Delivered with a 100% conviction, I’m sure the ceiling started to shake during the singalong section!

Although Angelwitch aren’t likely to change the world or even make it to the big league (the detractors have seen to that) they’re certainly good entertainment. Give them a chance – they’re not as bad as you’ve heard.


KERRANG! ISSUE 102 – September 1985

ANGELWITCH: “Screaming and Bleeding” (Killerwatt KILP4001)

DURING THE halcyon days of the NWOBHM, I was one of the few critics who could find something endearing to say about Angel Witch. I still believe that with proper management and record company support, the three-man demolition line-up of Kevin Heybourne (lead guitar/lead vocals), Dave Hogg (drums) and Kevin ‘Skids Riddles (bass/. vocals) would have been massive in various Metal strongholds.

As it is, history dictated against such success. The band finally split in ‘81 leaving me with a trail of damp memories. However,’ such has been the failure of the various members since then to make any impression that Heybourn and Hogg are now back together, this time with bassist Pete Gordelier and, vocalist Dave Tattum under the revived AW monicker. It’s a mistake of almost incalculable proportions if “Screamin N’ Bleedin” is an example of the new outfit’s (ahem) prowess.

Very little of the traditional ‘Witch style remains intact and attempts to broaden the band’s appeal with a more melodic approach just had me falling off my gravestone, in hysterics. To call the LP incompetent is an understatement tantamount to claiming that Jack The Ripper had a slight problem with wimmen! There’s hardly a saving grace on ‘SNB’; the playing is gumbee-level and appalling, the sound is of Marcel Marceau proportions, the songs are poorly’ structured.., hell, the plastic’s so brittle this wouldn’t even make a good ashtray!

Nah, Angel Witch have done themselves no service with such severely abysmal brickyard mumbo-jumbo. And as for the LP’ sleeve. . . Ian Gibson’s got nothing to fear from Record Company Services!

MALCOLM DOME


JANUARY 1988

ANGELWITCH – Royal Standard, Walthamstow

Special guests Angel Witch – a criminally underrated unit – acquitted themselves admirably. Delivering a set of mainly neoclassic NWOBHM material (even including a revitalised ‘Baphomet’), they occasionally slipped into Thrash territory

‘Time To Die’ and ‘Psychopathic’ being prime examples, with the vocals at full screaming stretch.

However, these two songs marred an otherwise tight and powerful performance. Guitarist Kevin Heybourne’s voice is just not strong or raucous enough to complete with the more established vox boxes of the Thrash genre, and with the old AW repertoire still being very much in demand on both European and American shores, it is a pity they should feel the need to compromise themselves.

Once amongst the great innovators of the HM scene, Angel Witch are in danger of being submerged by influences and a host of younger acts.

LYN GUY

ALVERNA GUNN

Armed And Ready – Kerrang! NEIL JEFFRIES

You could be forgiven for thinking that the only kind of rock to come out of Lowestoft is the long, thin, pink variety with the town’s name running all the way through. Thanks to Alverna Gunn though this is not the case.

This superbly named four-piece (the moniker supposedly comes from an ex-Crufts champion!) have been together in their present form for a little over two years. Drummer Paul Hale provided both the name and the initial drive when he teamed up with Keith Thacker (vocals), Mark Holmes (guitar), and Steve Gamble (bass).

Although the lads (average age 20) can’t put their collective finger on a single common influence, Budgie and AC/DC would seem firm favourites. Not surprisingly then, Alverna Gunn provide aggressive, punchy rock and, while none of it has yet appeared on vinyl titles such as ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ (not the Ian Hunter song) and ‘East Or West’ certainly merit this kind of exposure.

Record companies, however have chosen to ignore the latest demo-tape-despite its magnificently hard-edged guitar sound but undaunted, the Gunn soldier on, rehearsing in a wind-swept community centre annexe, up to their ankles in cigarette butts and leads.

In between numbers they bemoan the lack of local venues, though they’ve been fortunate enough to get one-off support slots with the likes of Budgie, Samson, Hawkwind and Lionheart. The solution, they agree would be a move to London but they’re caught in the Catch-22 situation of needing a deal to finance that kind of step.

ALIEN

Armed And Ready – Kerrang! May 1982 DAVE DICKSON

ALIEN ARE a five piece band from Leicester who have been together about a year in their present form – Phil Hammond (guitar), Chris O’Shaunessy (lead guitar), Craig Melbourne (vocals), Jez Allen (bass) and Andy Jerrom (drums). Alien as an entity though have been in existence for over three years.


Driving force and principal songwriter behind the group, Phil Hammond has found the path to fame and fortune lined with more than its fair share of sharks ready to grab the readies and run without delivering their side of the bargain with a vinyl product. Getting a viable deal hasn’t proved an easy task for Alien which, considering the accessible, melodic quality of their music is surprising. And before anyone yells ‘Sell-out!’ this ready commercial feel is balanced by plenty of good hard rockin’.

Gigs too are often difficult to find, “There’s a New Wave explosion in the Midlands,” explains Phil, “and no-one seems interested in putting on hard rock. But we have a strong set of fans, called the ‘Metal Boys’ who follow us everywhere we play.”

Alien’s caution over the last couple of years in not signing up to the first label that turned up may pay dividends, however. They expect to have their first single out later this year, which should gain the band valuable airplay and allow them to make the trek to the capital to showcase their talents to the men from the ‘biz’. Such a trip has so far been prevented by lack of finance.

The Alien sound could make a useful contribution to extending the cause of good HM to a wider audience in 1982. Indeed they’ve already scored in the Sounds Heavy Metal Charts. The airwaves are waiting: keep watching the skies.

ALIEN Leicester University 1983 PAUL SUTER
ALIEN were hapless victims of a joke PA that sounded alternately poor and dreadful, depending on whether it was all working at the same time or not, but in spite of the awesome obstacle they faced they still impressed immensely with their verve and sheer qualify. A good song in strong hands can’t be kept down, as the locals must know judging by an attendance that topped the four hundred mark – not had for an unsigned band, huh?

Allen’s forte is in the ‘ballsy Britishers play North American style HM’ area that Wolf inhabited on occasions and Def Leppard seem to unwittingly skirt around; and what’s more their songs are streets ahead of most of the recent British signings and hotshots. If Alien were a London based band they’d be well on the way by now.

They’ve got a surefire rhythm section in youthful drummer Andy Jarram and the driving upfront bass attack of Jez Allen, and in vocalist Craig Melbourne (is his name the key to fame and fortune Down Under?) they have an excellently stylish frontman who works a crowd well -that’s not forgetting the strength of his vocals of course!

The magic’s in the melodies though, and that’s where lead guitarist Chris O’Shaughnessy and rhythm played main writer Phil Hammond rule the roost. Chris is both spectacular and thoughtful, and refreshingly lacking in the art of being able to pose like you think you’re god of the fretboard – he just gets on with the job in hand, and evidently enjoys his job too. It’s the input of Phil Hammond that gives the band their richly harmonic edge though, a succession of smartly individual numbers proving their point with memorable hooks, both vocal and instrumental.

The band’s numbers have a triumphantly commercial, marketable quality, from the widescreen power and richly anthemic hook of ‘Be Mine Tonight’ to the rippling urgency of ‘Don’t Turn Your Back On Me’, both of them classics . . . but then again with only a couple of exceptions the rest of the set is barely short of the same accolade. The encore ‘USA’, for example, tends to get a little too bludgeony at times despite some colourful instrumental touches, but in terms of sheer quality 1’d be prepared to stick my neck out and suggest that, along with Presence, they’re the best unsigned British rock band around.