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.

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