This being virtually a home gig for the Ozz, a fact brought home dramatically by the sudden appearance of Tony lommi, there’s a high degree of tension in and around the dressing room as support band Budgie quit the stage.

Brandishing an evil-looking elbow-spike and silly ‘torpedo’ hat, finally and wisely given over to his young son, the chainmailed one paces away relentlessly while Pete ‘Angel Of Death’ Way, having to play two new basses and short on rehearsal time, finds himself similarly on edge. There’s a point to be proved tonight; namely that behind the stunts and the sensationalism there lurks a genuine rock ‘n’ roll outfit capable of delivering without the trimmings but, on this occasion, poor sound, scold venue (there’s a blizzard raging outside too) and a somewhat jaded Ozz leave the band initially unconvincing.

‘Over The Mountain’, ‘Mr Crowley’, ‘Crazy Train’, ‘Revelation Mother Earth’, all come and go devoid of the usual clenched passion and it isn’t until ‘Goodbye To Romance’, delivered sadly without ‘Ronnie’s’ pendulous support, that Ozzy strikes up an arm-swaying rapport with the 6,000-plus assembled.

From here on in it’s emotional event, climaxing with the traditional lapse into Sabbath oldies, Ozzy by this time beaming ear-to-ear, ‘Sweet Leaf’, a new addition to the set, having already been dispensed, the end spot is reserved as per usual for ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Children Of The Grave’, the latter coming across even better than on ‘Talk…’ with Tommy Aldridge, quite possibly the world’s best hard rock drummer, locked into double-bass drive and the fast-burgeoning Brad Gillis still managing to hold his guitar on the brink of feedback and roll two riffs into one, a feat that must have left the on-looking lommi considerably perplexed.

Pete Way, though not really on a par with the Americans, follows his pre-gig brief (“GO MENTAL!”) to the letter and provides some welcome onstage camaraderie for the Ozz. The ex-UFO-er is now a fully fledged, fully initiated Blizzard member, though how long Gillis and Aldridge will remain in the band is uncertain-the former has commitments to Night Ranger the latter to Hughes/Thrall.

If they do go then Ozzy will certainly have a tough time finding replacements of equal stature but this pensive note shouldn’t really cloud the fact that the show, complete with giant metallic hand cradling the On high above the stage before the encore ‘Paranoid’, was a success-in the end, at least.



Singles reviewed by Xavier Russell

AUGUST REDMOON: ‘Fools Are Never Alone’ (Metalworks Records)

Yet another tacky masterpiece from an LA copy band. August Redmoon (doncha just luv the name?) seem to draw inspiration from early Rush, throwing in a little something of their own. It’s a blend that makes this five-track EP a must – no holds barred. OTT Metal and fairly catchy too. My own personal faves are ‘Bump In The Night’ (even the ‘oohs’ are in the right place). ‘We Know What You Want’, which boasts a catchy riff. One for the Metal charts.




Singles reviewed by Xavier Russell

LE GRIFFE: ‘Fast Bikes’ (Distribution through Neon/Bullet Records)

Not bad for a bunch of Frogs. Fast boogie similar to blighty’s own Spider, the only difference being Le Grille don’t rip-off Status Quid quite as much. ‘Fast Bikes’ rocks along at a nice pace, and at least LeGriffe have the decency to sing in English. In fact they bring it off quite well, unlike Trust, who just croak.







Singles reviewed by Xavier Russell

ANVIL CHORUS: ‘Blondes In Black’/’Once Again’ (Leviathan Records)

I was lucky enough to see Anvil Chorus headline a ‘Metal Monday’ in San Francisco recently, and I can safely say they’re up there with the best of the NWOSFHM’ bands. It makes a welcome change to hear a US outfit churning out an original sound and not simply ripping off Van Halen and Co.

This double A-side single is a worthy purchase for the connoisseur as both ‘Blondes In Black’ and ‘Once Again’ are fine songs, redolent of Rush and Saga crossed. And hats off to Doug Peircy and Thaen Rassmussen who are a fine pair of axemen, not forgetting Aaron Zimpel whose voice has to be heard to be believed!

1. Anvil Chorus @ Myspace
2. Anvil Chorus  @ Metal Archives
3. Anvil Chorus @ Facebook



‘IT’S GREAT.’ Uh…. what can l say, except it’s really great!!!’

Even the crackly, bacon ‘n’ eggs, transatlantic line which connected the Big Apple to the home of smaller apples – Covent Garden, couldn’t – dampen the enthusiastic • response of Pat Benatar who was literally left almost speechless at the news of winning the Kerrang! top female vocalist award for the second year running.

I spoke to the lady a matter of days before she was about to embark on a tour of Europe which comes after a successful sell out US tour which culminated with her first headline performance-at the prestigious Madison Square Gardens.

With the latest album ‘Get Nervous’ and single ‘Shadows Of The Night’ flying high in the charts Benatar seems to be going from strength to strength which is more than I can say about her musical direction.

With her first two stunning albums and some killer live shows, Pat paved the way, and was almost the sacrificial lamb, for the dozens of ladies in rock who have appeared since. People like Tane Caine and suchlike who thrive between the true rock thrash of tomcats like Chrissie Hynde and pure syrup of Olive Newton John, the new breed who now dominate the AOR circuit.

But sadly as Pat’s following has expanded she seems to have fallen into a succession of self created pitfalls, displaying acute bouts of insecurity and having an almost schizophrenic attitude towards her musical aspirations. Benatar has always stood on the shakey ground between rock and roll and cabaret and now judging from the few restrained comments she made in our short conversation I feel we could have lost her to the realms of wimpdom – although the stage appearance at the Hammy Odeon will be the final confirmation.

“Our show now”, she revealed, “is much closer to the album. We still do some of the dinosaur HM although overall there’s a lot less headbanging.”

I asked her how she felt about the album which overall I felt was a bit of a let down after the impressive ‘Promises In The Dark.

“I like the album a lot, unfortunately I didn’t have enough time and circumstances didn’t permit me to write much material. But l think the album’s a lot of fun, it’s more danceable than the rest, not so much crunch rock.”

Crunch rock! Jesus…

The title, although basically tongue in cheek, reflects a period which Benatar herself describes as being ‘fucked-up’.

It saw the group go under a lot of pressure due to rigorous touring schedules and almost marked the end of a relationship between Benatar and her old man guitarist Neal ‘Spider’ Geraldo. The couple are now happily married and the only reminder of that torturous time is the departure of rivvum-guitarist Scott St Sheets who has been replaced by Charlie; a keyboard player snatched from the ex Doll David Johansens band.

“Scott wanted more involvement than the situation would allow”, Benatar said ominously, “and we had been planning to add keyboards for quite a while. It’s worked out really well”.

One of Benatar’s ambitions at the moment is to record an EP of rock and roll standards under a pseudonym, although she’s putting aside any prospective projects, TV scripts, film offers etc, etc in favour of another ambition yet unfulfilled. “I really want to have a baby, that’s the next thing on the agenda.”

I suggested that she kept on practising.

“Oh no, I’ve done enough practising, l’ve got that part down to a tee”, she chuckled away merrily.




Ever wonder what happened to Starz?

Here’s a conundrum for ya! When do superstars fail to make it big in the world of rock ‘n’ roll? When the guys are members of that super New York five-piece Starz, of course. A band tipped for big, BIG things by the all-knowing critical ball-points of many a respected rock critic, but which fell apart in the year of 1979. Not a peep was heard of any of Starz’ members – until earlier this year that is.

Enter Hellcats, a new four-piece signed to the American Indie Radio Records and distributed through Atlantic. It was decidedly delighting to find two ex-Starz persons, guitarist Richie Ranno and vocalist par excellence Michael Lee Smith, nestling within the ‘Cats’ ranks and, in view of the quality of Starz’ output on those almighty albums ‘Violation’ and ‘Coliseum Rock’, it was hardly surprising to find Hellcats’ first five-track mini LP was a gloriously rowdy selection of hard rock tunes. Individual – yes, heavy -but tuneful, That goes without saying!

Ranno and Smith are the hard core (more or these two words later!) of Hellcats, just as they were with Starz. But the band have more to offer through Peter Scance’s expressive bass play and Doug Madick’s highly competent drum backbeat. Numbers such as ‘Rock & Roll Man’ and ‘Auto Erotica’ provide ample proof that the tour have gelled remarkably well. There’s no hanging about here. Hellcats are taking up where Starz left off.

“That’s exactly how we’re viewing Hellcats,” states Ranno, “because it wasn’t really musical problems that instigated the Starz split. At the time we wanted out of our record and also our management deals but the management kept us in a stranglehold and wouldn’t relent, which meant we were kept in limbo. The pressure of living and also keeping a band going with its hands tied behind back became too much, so the only thing we could do was split. It was a real pity because we did pretty well in Starz – another two albums and I reckon we could have broken.”

That, of course, was not to be and the band went their separate ways.

“Michael stayed out in California where we’d been working and got involved with various bar bands, one of which included Doug. I went back to New York and formed a band by the name of Hard Core (see what I was getting at?!) With Peter and Dube, the drummer who played in Starz. That was a good band too, but the longer it went on the more we could see that we weren’t really going to get anywhere.

“The next plan we had was to re-form Starz, because after the split we had a constant flow of letters from fans of the band asking us to get back together. Dube, Brendon Harkin, Orville Davis, Michael and myself gave it a go but we had the same problems that Hard Core had experienced and again things fell through.”

Persistent burgers that these guys are, they decided to give it another shot with Hellcats and this third time, everything fell into place.

“It’s a strange situation that we’re in now, because on paper you’d think this would be the hardest band to keep together. Mike and Doug still live in California whereas Peter and myself are based in New York, which is different to say the least

“There are good and bad aspects of this distance, though. On the one hand, it means we don’t see enough of each other to fall out but on the other it means we don’t really get the opportunity to play together enough. We have to play in bursts, but that’ll be rectified soon because we’re going to start some heavy touring in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut areas.

This touring schedule has, of course, been organised to promote the first Hellcats product. It strikes me as rather strange that it should be no more than a five-track mini album, judging from the high quality of all the featured songs, ranging from the fiery, up-front rock ‘n’ roll of ‘It’s Alright’ to the smooth, polished, even funky ‘Auto Erotica’. Was it, as l would guess, lack of finance that dictated the relatively short playing time?

“That’s right. We recorded the songs at the Record Plant before we had a deal proper. We had what is known as a ‘Spec. deal’ whereby we took on the expense of recording knowing that the label was very close to signing us. It was an act of faith on our behalf and proof to Radio that we could deliver.”

Creative juices are apparently oozing out of every Hellcat pore (paw?) and new numbers are being written all the time and at great speed…

“We don’t decide on our set for the evening until the very last minute because we have so many songs to choose from, We have well over an album’s worth of unrecorded numbers that are real killers. We do retain some of our Starz heritage, though, with our opening number, ‘The Take Me Intro. Song’, which features some guitar parts from the Starz tune ‘Take Me’. That aside, we have numbers whose titles should show you what we’re about.

“We perform an anthemic kind of tune called ‘Sludge Rock/We Are The Hellcats’ and then we include the likes of ‘Dreaming’ My Life Away’, ‘Miss You Tonight’ and ‘Restless Underwear’ (which has got to be one of the best titles since ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’!). We’ve stuck to our roots – we’re still pretty gross!!”

‘You got your mind on something, You wish your hands were there, ‘Cos you never, never ever seen, Such a perfect pair!’ (from ‘It’s Alright’).

The band are desperately keen to play in the UK, especially if they can get a licensing deal for their next release, a single of ‘Auto Erotica’ backed with alive version of ’Rock And Roll Man’. They’d like to do some kind of co-headlining club tour, and you’d be crazy to miss them if they come, After all, they’re born again super Starz, right?


KERRANG ISSUE 33 JANUARY 1983 Feature by Malcolm Dome

Well, in contrast to the frugal humility of most Dutch people, this quintet (thank heaven) proved to be a right rare bundle of loveable loonies.

For a kick-off, during an intense two hour photo session, they managed to anger a director of Phonogram by harking about on his push-bike, consume about 70 crates of bottled Heineken, smoke their way through 100 packets of Marlboro and pour tomato ketchup all over the floor in a real blood-letting exercise.
All of which meant that by the time vocalist Shmoulik Avigal, guitarists Jan Bechtum and Chriz van Jaarsfeld, bassist Rinus Vreugdenhil and drummer Laurens ‘Bakky’ Bakker, were corralled into an ‘interview situation’ none of them was in a fit state to talk seriously about the band.

Still, at least their command of English was fair, so some semblance of sense did eventually vomit forth from certain of these Netherlands nutters. What follows, then, is a combination of their more printable quotes plus info gleaned from other sources about their past.

The story really began in the Autumn of 1979, when the rhythm section of Vreugdenhil and Bakker decided to form a hard rocking’ band because, in the immortal words of the latter, “normally we had to pay for our drinks. But when we are in a band, we knew we could get a contract that stated we were entitled to FREE DRINKS!”

So, the gormless duo teamed up with original vocalist Ronald van Prooien plus the aforementioned Bechtum in search of alcohol. “It was really terrible in the beginning,” quipped the half-drunk, totally-crazed Bakker. “Jan was a good guy, but couldn’t play guitar at all. Within a couple of months, though, we made him into a very good musician. Now, he’s better than Blackmore”

Are you keeping up with this nonsense? Anyway, after a very short time, Picture were discovered by Henk van Antwerpen, a man whose managerial pedigree included work with semi-successful Dutch new wavers the Nits (never really up to scratch on the international circuit, one might say!)

“Henk was one of the biggest problems in Holland,” asserted Bakker. “Since we’re a bunch of trouble-makers and he is one also, it was a perfect match. He’s not really up to much as a manager. But since he is smoking…we are smoking..and we like the brand he buys, Henk does have his uses. Look at the money he saves us on fags – we always nick his!”

With van Antwerpen on the case, the band were rapidly snapped up by WEA Records in Holland. However this union was never consummated vinyl-wise and the band soon split with the label. “They wanted us to sound like Kiss and become really commercial, even do a modern version of ‘Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheap, Cheap’, you know,” explained Bechtum.

Undaunted by such an experience, Picture were soon back in the frame with Back Door Records (a subsidiary of Phonogram in Holland). This deal led to the band, still in their original quartet format recording two LPs in 1981, viz ’Picture I’ and ‘Heavy Metal Ears’.

Now, neither album can really be classed as outstanding. Indeed, both have as much appeal as, say. Krokus in their pre- ‘Metal Rendezvous’ days. In other words, perfect bargain-bin fodder. However, the lads did manage to garner a surprisingly large following not only in Holland (where they’ve supported the likes of Saxon, Ted Nugent, April Wine and AC/DC on major tours) but also in Italy, Germany, and Mexico.

“In Mexico, particularly, they go mad for us,” revealed Bechtum in all seriousness. “Kiss are the most popular band there, followed by Black Sabbath – and then comes Picture.”
On top of that, the band were last year voted the top domestic act in two of the leading rock magazines in Holland – a positive pointer that at last true heavy rock is beginning to make a home-produced impact on the docile Dutch.

“We are the first really heavy band to come from Holland,” boasted Bakker with good reason. “Golden Earring and their like are very good people, but they’ve never been HM, more just pop/rock. We have been fortunate enough to get the support of the rock press in Holland and to have built up a good number of fans. But, there’s a long way for us to go yet. Neither the radio stations nor the television people want to know about heavy music at the moment.”

“To some extent, we’re in the same position now as the Scorpions were originally in Germany,” continued Avigal “It was only after they made it in England that they were accepted at home. I think to make it BIG in Holland. Picture is first of all gonna have to build an international reputation.”

All the signs are currently pointing towards Picture being able to do just that. And, as I’ve already said, much of this is due to the undoubted dynamism of ‘Diamond Dreamer’.

With Avigal being railed in for the departed van Prooien (a vital change as the former is a top-class Dio-like hard rock singer, in a different league to his predecessor), ‘DD’ could (in the potentially prophetic words of Bechtum) prove to be “as important for us as ‘In Rock’ was for Deep Purple.”

Already the LP has established Picture as the premier heavy band in Holland, ahead of pretenders such as Vandenberg, and provided them with the possibility of true global clout. Certainly the drafting in of Peter Hinton to co-produce the ‘Diamond….‘ sessions with local lad Ton van der Bremen (who was responsible for the sound on the first brace of Picture LP5) has drawn forth richly melodic and fruitfully powerhouse performances scarcely hinted at before.

“We got on swell with Pete, he’s such a colourful character,” laughed Avigal. ‘We only had 10 days to work on the songs in the studio, and considering all of that, it came out very well. Hopefully, the next album will be even better.

“But, whether or not we’ll still be with Phonogram in Holland by then is doubtful. As far as hard rock bands go, they’ve done very well in promoting us. But we’re an ambitious group, and we don’t think the company can really help us to make it in the wider context.”

Yet, if their Dutch label situation is a little murky, one thing is for certain – ’Diamond Dreamer’ will get a long-overdue UK release next month on Carrere, and the band hope to follow this up with a support slot on the upcoming Motorhead UK tour.

“We’re looking forward to playing England,” admitted Avigal with obvious relish. “Our music is basically English. Our influences are the heroes we grew up with Hendrix. Purple and Zeppelin. So the best place for us to go is England.”