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.



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?



Aerosmith interview with Dante Bonutto – all pics by Ross Halfin

“When I’m not playing l have to try and keep myself busy, and I hate it. Why kid myself that I’m going to be a good boy! I’m a guitar player and that’s what I should be doing. “ – Jimmy Crespo, Aerosmith.

“What’s the rock star look? You’re looking at it!” – Rick Dufay, Aerosmith

For this outfit, formed in New Hampshire in the summer of 1970, rock’n’roll isn’t simply something that happens onstage. Rather -and without wishing to sound melo-dramatic – it’s a way of life, an uncontrived attitude and air embracing everything from mode of attire (casually draped scarves are BIG in this band) to a sleepless, us-against-the-world look guaranteed to explore the nostrils of petty authority figures and humdrum nine-to-fivers.

Simply, Aerosmith play Rock and Roll because it’s the natural thing to do. The reason why at the end of 1980, though beset with problems and under pressure to produce a follow-up to the excellent ‘Night in the Ruts’ LP, the chose to breach the curtain in a number of East Coast dives. New York’s ultra-sleazy Privates club included.

Imagine the surprise of your soaraway correspondent on the spot purely by chance, as five elegantly wasted figures followed Humble Pie onstage around 2am and proceeded to soften up those in attendance with some copious chord-play.
Clearly, the band were alive and well-as-could-be-expected, but worrying tales, smacking heavily of heresy and hokum, soon began to filter through on the rock’n’roll grapevine. One pointed to a final split, another, more alarmingly, to vocalist Steven Tyler having cancer of the throat but when ‘Rock In A Hard Place’, the band’s eighth album, finally surfaced in September’82, some three years after ‘NITR’, it was clear that neither story was true and that Aerosmith were still very much in the removal business-roofs that is.

Founder member/guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford by this time split with the ranks, but their replacements, Jimmy Crespo and Paris born Rick Dufay, joining in October ’79 and December ’91 respectively, seemed to have matters well in hand.

With heavy rock being essentially a guitar-orientated music, you’d expect a complete overhaul in the rhythm’n’lead dept. to drastically alter a band’s sound. But, as far as Aerosmith are concerned, this hasn’t proved the case, their prolonged absence from the scene making it possible for Crespo, in particular, to be absorbed into the ranks with a minimum amount of upheaval.

As well as collaborating with Tyler on the original material, he’s responsible for virtually all the guitars on the album (Dufay plays rhythm on one track and Whitford, who went his own way in the early stages of recording, provides a similar service on ‘Lightning Strikes’), yet the final product retains that distinctive Aerosmith feel. The scathing, saw-tooth guitar, the maverick lead and beneath that near-lazy, syncopated swagger (actually the result of much hard graft), all brought to life by Jack Douglas who hallmarked the production.

It’s definitely Aerosmith, at times definitively so, and while at first certain aspects – the early-hours say of ‘Push Comes To Shove’, the delicate balance of ‘Joanie’s Butterfly’- proved hard to come to terms with – it’s an album that continued to throw up new, often subtle, delights.

Clearly there was no shortage of studio flair, but what about on stage? Aerosmith’s US appeal, after all, was largely forged through back-to-back touring so how would the Crespo/Dufay alliance stand up live? And would long-standing ‘Smith fans accept them, anyway?

This was a super, superstar band in the present day Journey sense of the word and despite recent (apparent) inactivity, their presence in the hotel induced a certain starry-eyed gaze amongst the younger members of staff, one of whom can barely believe he’s been invited to the show by Tyler himself. The rock’n’roll circus has come to town…

Though only on road some two and a half weeks, concentrating on the more out of the way places along the east coast, tales had already been drifting back of across the boards sell-outs, kids being mugged for their tickets with baseball bats and police being summoned to calm things down. Fortunately, however, there’s no over-the-top chicanery tonight, though inside the halt, a large Wembley/NEC-style superstructure, the atmosphere is explosive, ready to blow…

The houselights dim, the swirling ‘shower scene’ music from ‘Psycho’ rattles the PA and thousands of hoisted lighters signal the band’s presence on the darkened stage. Any second now and… in an instant the lights are up and the Hitchcockian preamble cremated in a fireball of sound discernible as the opening strains of ‘Back In The Saddle’, now very much a statement of intent; confirmation that the bit firmly clenched once more.

For the rest of the set, past-album fodder such as ’Big Ten Inch Record’, ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Sweet Emotion’, ‘Milkcow Blues’, ‘Reefer Headed’ Woman’ and (of course) ’Dream On’, with everyone singing in unison, mingles with material from the current album. ‘Jailbait’ and ‘Lightning Strikes’ coming across best in the surprising absence of ‘Push Comes to Shove’ and ‘Joanie’s Butterfly’.

It is, however, early days. The backdrop has yet to arrive and the presentation of the songs is being chopped and changed all the time, though it’s instantly clear that the arrival of Crespo and Dufay has tightened the band considerably and given an extra punch to the sound with no noticeable drop in spontaneity close-to-the-edge excitement – very much the Aerosmith trademark.

Original members Tom Hamilton (bass) and Joey Kramer (drums), work closely together, unflappable to a tee, while Crespo, finding himself in the Aerosmith ranks largely through the influence of one Richie Supa (a friend of Tylers’s who wrote
‘Lightning Strikes’), having previously recorded two albums with RCA band Flame, handles most of the leadwork, a relatively sedate foil to firecracker Dufay, introduced to Tyler and co by Jack Douglas, producer of his 1980 (digitally recorded) solo album ‘Tender Loving Abuse’.

Situated behind Crespo, stage-left, is another new face, that of keyboard man Bobby Mayo. A Yonker’s contemporary of Tyler and Kramer who’s previously seen action with both Frampton and Foreigner, he’s classed as a ‘sideman-and-a-half, earning high praise from the band for scorning the dramatic synth and concentrating his digits on rock’n’roll piano.

Altogether an impressive line-up, the new blood and the old blending together in a heady, heavy brew, though in terms of sheer onstage charisma, it’s Tyler who steals the honours by a stylish long neck.

At an earlier gig he’d collapsed towards the end of the set (over-indulgence rearing its ugly head again) but on this occasion it’s alI systems go as, exuding ragamuffin chic, he casts his waif-like frame about the stage and, employing the scarf-infested mike-stand as an extra limb, leads the band through a final, tearaway ‘Toys In The Attic’ before bringing them back for the inevitable ’Train Kept A Rollin’’.

And now. . . the interview! In the dressing room after the gig Tyler’s attitude to the whole affair is so casual that I half expect to be left wearing a trench in the
Carpet. But once back at the hotel it isn’t long before four-fifths of the band – Tyler, Hamilton, Crespo and Dufay, the latter nursing a bottle of champagne – are assembled in my room, the designated interview site.

Kramer, for some reason, never materialises but it barely matters as Tyler (aka Tallerico), reposing cross-legged on the bed, proves in talkative mood… so what’s the story behind ‘Joanie’s Butterfly’?

Tyler: “lt was just a dream I had, yet people hear ‘hooved’ and fur’ and they think it’s the devil, my first meeting with him,”

It sounds like there’s some sort of creature involved, though…

Tyler: “Yes there is, it’s a Pegasus, a unicorn Pegasus. When I woke up l put the whole thing down.. . it took a long time to write that number.”

Crespo: “It had a whole development – first off I wrote the song at my apartment in New York and l wasn’t really thinking of using it, it was just something that I dug. I thought maybe I’d put it on the next record as an instrumental piece, for like a minute, y’know, and then I played the basic chord structure to Steven, he dug it, lived with it for a couple of months and came up with a poem that knocks the shit out of me. The lyrics came a couple of days later.”

Will if eventually be added to the set?

Crespo:  “Oh yeah, it’s gonna be hot shit. . . we’re working on a way of doing it with a whole staging thing: It’s a special song.

Dufay: “Right now we’re just getting into the groove of playing; we’ve only done five, six, seven gigs and the shit’s got to come together on that one.”

And what about ‘Push Comes To Shove?

Tyler: “I’d love to do it, but the girl part, that’s falsetto….”

Dufay (shaking head): “It’s a risky business.”

Tyler: “We’ll have to get in some chick singers.”

Why did you bring in Jack Douglas to put the final touches to ‘Rock in a Hard Place’ when you started the album with Tony Bongiovi as producer?

Tyler: “The thing is Tony could put every thing down, and he did it good, but it wasn’t personal enough. It was just coming out like another new-wave thing. Then he stopped showing up because we wanted to take more time than the average band. So we decided to jack it in and I went overt o see Douglas who was happening again. He’d done John Lennon’s album and he was just getting over his death…”

Why wasn’t he involved with ‘Night in The Ruts’?

Tyler: “Well, he’d worked on Joe Perry’s album and had just had enough of the whole thing. It didn’t work out between he and Joe, and we wanted to try somebody new anyhow. He said: ‘Well F**k it then!’ and our egos were just inflated enough for us to say: ‘Well, F*** you too!’ So we split and got Gary Lyons in to produce ‘Night in the Ruts’ which I think is a great album.”

Why did Joe Perry leave the band?

Tyler: “Well, for a start Joe didn’t leave the band… he was at odds with the rest of the band generally on how we should conduct ourselves. We’d slowed down touring which he didn’t like. Actually, he’d been thinking about doing his own thing for a long time – at first he was going to do it within the context of the band but then things started to get pretty heated, y’know.

“He chose to make a big stink – which resulted in him being gone, and he did it at the wrong time. The record business was going through a slide.,

Tyler: “And there were a lot of outside influences causing that whole trip that should never have been. When it’s a band it’s a band, it’s the boys… and then I heard he was doing three or four Aerosmith tunes in his live show. How does he expect to pull that off? I have trouble doing them!”

And what about Brad Whitford?

Hamilton: “We were getting ready to do one of the basic tracks for the new albumin New York and he just called from the airport in Boston saying he wasn’t coming -period.”

Tyler: “Again it was due to outside influences. I’m not going to say what but I’m sure you’re reading things into this (what I’m reading into this and the Perry situation is the female influence, but remember I said that) It’s hard for me to believe that they can let other people run their lives.”

Do you think the band’s long absence from the scene was a healthy thing?

Tyler: “Oh yeah, to sit back and take a look around is real good for a group, especially one that went to the magnitude we did. We played so many places in the US it was overkill – when I had my accident (he lost a heel while riding a bike wearing moccasins) we were on the road for eight to nine months at a time hitting all the biggest places. It’s only us, Presley and The Who who’ve sold out Pontiac Stadium (Detroit), we were doing such gig undo gigs it was ridiculous.”

Was there ever a point over the past three years when Aerosmith ceased to exist?

Tyler: “No, never. Even when I was hospitalised the band were still rehearsing and sending me up cassettes and I would play them on my Sony by the bed with the nurses telling me to turn that shit off.”

How was ‘Rock In A Hard Place’ been received by the US media?

Hamilton: “Well, surprisingly so…”

Tyler: “Yeah, it’s starting to worry me. We were always a band that got shit reviews and were never played on the radio.”

Why do you think there’s been this change of heart?

Tyler: “Well, I guess since we left there hasn’t really been any good rock’n’roll. We’ve been missed. I don’t want to get big-headed about it but I love a good rock’n’roIl show, y’know with people getting up and kicking ass, and I’m not talking about Heavy Metal where everyone drivels and drools when they’re playing E-minor.”

So you wouldn’t define Aerosmith as a HM band then?

Tyler: “No, I think our music is more rock’n’roll. But heavy and aggressive like it should be.”

What’s the band’s financial position at the moment?

“We’re committing most of what we earn to the stage set, a video for ‘Lightning Strikes’ we’ve already done and another video we intend to do using a new kind of 3-D system that some big Hollywood studios have put millions of dollars into. From what Steven tells me, you just sit there and things come out of the screen at you.”

Tyler: “And you have to duck! . . .The offer that we’re getting on this 3D is that it will go with a trailer for Jaws III which should be out in the summer.”

Hamilton: “And supposedly the next ‘Star Wars’ movie will use this system.”

Tyler: “Let me tell you, the movies are never going to be the same again. It’s unreal!”
There seemed to be a feeling that you weren’t overly concerned with Britain and British audiences when you toured here in ‘76. Is that fair comment?

Hamilton: “Playing England was a lot like when we first started in New York because both places have been hearing the best for years and they’re not easily impressed. A lot of our style is patterned after English bands, when we went there, we felt resistance from the audiences and the press. I don’t know, maybe we didn’t smile enough.”

Surprise, surprise, Aerosmith do care about this country. Very much so, in fact. If I were you I’d forget about the ‘76 UK tour and the notorious 65-minute Hammersmith set and recall instead the band’s performance the following year at The Reading Festival, an altogether happier showing, or better still look forward to late summer/early winter next year when, after probable visits to Australia and Japan, Aerosmith hope to return to these shores, perhaps slotting in a second Reading appearance.

“That place was crazy, it was a sea of people,” recollects Tyler, road manager Joe Baptista entering with the news that it’s now three o’clock and as we’ve all got planes to catch the next day wouldn’t it be a good idea, etc.. . There’s just time for a last question, the one I’ve always wanted to ask. Where the hell did they find the Aerosmith name?

“It was the name of a band Joey was in,” says Hamilton. “They rehearsed in a Yonkers basement but they never played.”

“It’s really just a name,” adds Tyler. “We sat around for months coming up with different ideas. We were The Hookers for a while, then Spike Jones, we had a shit load of names but nothing made sense. If you’re The Hookers you should come out looking like whores, y’know. So when we came across Aerosmith it was great – it doesn’t mean a thing!”

It has connotations, though, and it’s now associated with a certain look…

“Oh yeah, Perry has an Aerosmith face and so does he (Dufay) and this guy here (Crespo). In fact, the first time I saw Jimmy, I said: ‘Shit, there’s a guy who should be in Aerosmith!'”

“Don’t tell my mother I’ve got an Aerosmith face, will you,” says Dufay, clearly concerned. He should worry. He might have ended up in The Hookers…



Unlike most rock acts Judie Tzuke isn’t constrained by stylistic limitations and wanders happily from one extreme to the other, from ‘For You’ to ‘Black Furs’, and it’s this brave refusal to be tied down and categorised that is ironically costing her dearly.
The media cringe away from her because they’re not sure how to present her, and the consequently uninformed public (no radio airplay!) remember the frail waif who delivered ‘Stay With Me Till Dawn’ on TOTP clutching the mike-stand as if it was her only friend in the world, and draw the logical conclusions.

But Judie Tzuke snot a wimp – for heaven’s sake. She’s disarmingly frank about her failure to put her true self across, but more than a little willful in her unwillingness to co-operate. She knows what’s gone wrong, but she’s not about to grovel apologetically to those who’ve drawn the wrong conclusions – the ones who haven’t bought her records after all – and bluntly intends to do what she wants. If the mountain wont come to Mohammed then, sod it, there’s always soil erosion. Quick and easy stardom isn’t in this lady’s line of thinking at all.

“Basically I do what I do for me. I don’t do it for anybody else. They’re the ones that are missing out!” she laughs, although thoughtfully adding, “but one day they might hear it. If not they won’t catch on, but I’ll still be doing it..”

“It would be nice to be more successful, it would make things a lot easier. We’re not doing badly – we sell the same number of albums every time – but possibly we’re not going to be huge. The only reason that I would like to be more successful is so that I would have more facilities, be able to take more time over recording albums and so on, just to make them better records.

“Being huge frightens me anyway It’s bad enough now, if I go out and haven’t washed my hair or I  haven’t got make up and somebody recognises me I’m embarrassed because they’ve seen me like that – and if they don’t recognize me l wonder how bad I must look. There’s a certain obligation, if people know who you are, to be the person they think you are, not to be a disappointment.”
Eeeek, the image problem raises its beautifully coiffure head! Remember those wispily romantic posters and photos that have misrepresented her so badly? Judie freely admits that it’s her own fault.

“Now were going to try and base my image on what I’m always like, rather than what I‘m like when I’m at my best. If I’ve got to have an image then I might as well push what I actually am rather than what other people, would like me to be. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do but you go about it in the wrong way. In a photo session you naturally want to look your best – but in doing so you lose a lot of what you are.”

So what is Jude Tzuke? Simply a musician who Ioves music and loves creating it, and detests the straight-jacket that the music business can be. You can only play the business at its own game when you’re part of it, but to Judie it’s nothing more than machinery; she wants to make music, her music, and hopes that people will like it so that she can generate enough finance to keep on making it.

She’s hot crusading, not trying to deliver any great message – it’s pureIy a personal pleasure and she’s not about to manipulate the unaware in order to fuel that personal pleasure.

The simple fact is though that manipulation shouldn’t be necessary – if you listen to Judie Tzuke instead of dismissing her without hearing there would definitely be something there for one and all to savour. And never more so than on the new live album….
Reviews of the album have been universally favourable and tinged with tones of surprise -maybe the media in general are beginning to wake up to her; It’s rough and ready, a warts and all package of excellent material, well delivered, significantly different from the sanitised perfection cynics might have expected.

The mix is emphatically live, booming around the confines of the Hammersmith Odeon where it was recorded over a mere two nights on the current tour, with one track from Hitchin and one from Glastonbury the only additional recordings that were available to choose from (and were used!). No string section, just vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass drums and percussion – you know, a rock band.
“Some of the tracks I really like but some I wish could have been a bit better. To be honest I was going to insist on overdubbing the vocals – I’ve always wanted to do a live album but I’m such a perfectionist with the vocals – but I caught the flu and couldn’t overdub so I had to!

Now I’m glad that we had to leave it as it is – it’s got much more atmosphere, it sounds like I had always hoped that we sound.
Funnily enough vocally I think the best track on it for me is ‘Come Hell Or Waters High’ which we did at Glastonbury, I had a cold then, and I honestly thought I was dreadful that day. My voice was really going – usually when you are singing with a cold it doesn’t physically hurt, but it was really painful that night – and all the way through the show I was thinking ‘I can’t do it, I’ve got to tell them can’t go on.

“But when was about to do it I saw Jackson Browne standing on the side of the stage, and I’ve really liked him for years. That made me really want to do well and thought ‘damn it, no! and went. When I heard the tape I couldn’t believe it we sounded, really good…. considering it was live!”

Ironically the live album comes out at a time when the attractions of life on tour have reached their lowest point ever for Judie – the gruelling three months of dates that led up to the album have left their mark, and Judie and Pax (guitarist Mike Paxman) are now thinking about tracks for the next album, and not live dates to promote ‘Road Noise’.

Not even one or two, because keyboards player Bob Noble is about to tour with Roy Harper, whilst bassist John Edwards is currently… wait for it… a Dexys Midnight Runner!

“After the tour I just felt like giving up completely, not because it was unsuccessful in fact it did really well, but the whole thing wore me out completely and I got fed up and frustrated. I got involved far too much in the business side when I didn’t really want to, and got to a point where I didn’t like the whole thing any more.

“I’m sure we will go on tour again, it’s just that after the last one I’m sure that I was very close to a nervous breakdown. I ended up with 52 tea-sets you know! I get nervous during the day before a gig, so to relieve the nerves I suddenly developed this interest in wandering around – antique shops – I’ve been doing it now and then for years, but I suddenly became completely. obsessive about it, with the result that I’ve now got a room full of antique tea sets!

“It killed my nerves completely, instead of going on stage full of nerves I was trying to remember the colour of the teapot I’d bought that day! Afterwards I honestly thought I must have been going mad, but I met someone from the Moody BIues, and apparently he came back from an American tour with about fifty track-suits and twenty five squash rackets… and he doesn’t even play squash!”




Sheron Alton and Holly Woods of TORONTO are out to getcha

NO PUBLICITY, however sly, or sneaky or sick could have planned a better opening move. Just ask Toronto!

When this Canadian sextet first on the scene back in 1980, their debut album caused pandemonium both in Canada and the US – or at least the cover did. Depicting a rather ’too knowing’ young girl (no more than ten years old, surely!) standing on a sleazy street corner, under the LP title of ‘Lookin’ For Trouble’, the resultant uproar was deafening in the extreme.

Lead guitarist Sheron Alton recalls those days, with less than complete enthusiasm: “In Canada, they freaked out at the sleeve. We were mentioned on TV programmes about child pornography, for example. And in the States, some women’s groups tried to get the album banned.”
Eventually, when said LP trickled out in England, it was with a drastically altered cover.
“I must admit that I’ve seen worse sleeves than our original one. But, you know, this whole pornography thing wasn’t intentional just to get publicity. We were just so excited about having an album out that we never bothered to check the artwork properly.
“Besides, everything had to be done at great speed, and the idea of a little girl dressed in her mother’s clothes sounded fine at the time – if only we’d known how it was gonna turn out!”

Yet, if the sleeve proved controversial, then the music was hot, hard, and heavy. Indeed, it was undoubtedly one of 1980’s genuine high-spots. Twin guitarists Brian Allen and London-born Ms Alton were efficiently captivating, Scott Kreyer weaved neatly compact keyboard patterns, the rhythm section of bassist Nickie Costello plus Jim Fox (drums) boomed, and Holly Woods gave a vocal performance of teal torch-carrying stature. The Toronto-based outfit (well, where else would you expect them to be from – Aylesbury?) put out the LP on the then newly-formed Solid Gold label in their home territory and on A&M for the remainder of the world.

As Sheron explains “it sold really well in Canada, going gold (about 50,000 sales), and has now done about 160-170,000 copies so far.”

But…. the rest of the globe didn’t exactly get the Toronto message. Maybe part of the problem was the drawing of obvious comparisons (less than complimentary at that) to Heart.

“Yeah, this did affect us badly in the early days and doubtless when we finally come to England and also start touring the States, then we’ll find the problem still exists. But In Canada we’ve now come out of Heart’s shadow.”

In all honesty, there’s a vast gulf between Heart and Toronto – the former are more measured and production-orientated than the latter, who tend to place far more emphasis on dynamics and energy. Yet it has to be said that Toronto didn’t help their crusade for recognition in their own right by releasing last year such a thoroughly disappointing LP in the form of Terry Brown-produced ‘Head On’, on which vinyl disaster Toronto DO sound like a poor person’s Heart.

“I’d agree that ‘Head On’ was a let-down for us,” admits the lovely lead axewoman. “Part of the reason might have been down to internal strife over musical direction between Nickie and Jim on one hand and the rest of us on the other. Consequently, there was little cohesion. We also spent too much time on the production side of things, and didn’t come up with sufficient good material. And l think the public obviously felt the same way as it only sold about 110,000 copies in Canada.”

Well, whatever the excuses for this somewhat numbing vinyl blow, everything in the Toronto garden is a lot rosier now. For, the third installment in this continuing saga, the Steve Smith-produced ‘Get It On Credit’, is in Sheron’s words “more rock and more energy than the second album. It’s much more in line with ‘Lookin’ For Trouble’. We’ve actually left in some of the flaws to give it a rawer, more live feel.’

Clearly the recent departure of Costello and Fox (before ‘Get It……’was cut) has given Toronto (to paraphrase Skynyrd) ‘back their bullets’. New boys Gary Allonde (bass) and Barry Connors (drums) are much more ‘the business’ as are melodic songs like ’Run For Your Life’ and ‘Start Telling The Truth’

‘Get In On Credit’ (an apt phrase for the modem era?) represents Toronto’s first liaison in the US with small label Network.
“We’ve signed with this company ‘cos they aren’t huge and therefore can give us more personal attention than A&M ever could – there are just three acts on the label altogether! Al Coury, who owns the company, actually promoted the Beatles when they first came out to the US, so we couldn’t have a better person behind us!”

In Britain, ‘Credit’ is soon to be released on Epic, and plans ARE afoot in theory for Ms Alton and colleagues to heave themselves over here soon.

“I really wanna come and play. Being English by birth means that I, for one, would dearly love to make it in the UK.”
Perhaps someone, somewhere will follow up Toronto’s obvious interest in a Brit tour, and make sure they get over before the year is out. How about a double-header with the fabbo LA outfit Storm? In the meantime, check out ‘Get It On Credit’ – it certainly shows just why Toronto are, alongside Anvil, the most talked-about new Canuck hard rock band on the scene.




“ROCK ‘N’ ROLL is fun, but if you ever lose sight of that fact then what the hell are you doing it for? I’ve always wanted to play music as long as I can remember and I’ve never had ideas about doing anything else.

“If I wanted to make money, then I’d be selling insurance! I can recall playing for a couple of years when all I made was 10 dollars a week, if I was lucky. But I certainly don’t look back on that as being a bad experience – in fact it was a hell of a lot of fun.”

Bobby Barth, lead guitarist/vocalist with the American outfit Axe, is unquestionably a diehard rock ‘n’ roller. Originally a drummer, he first took up guitar in 1965 and has been striving to make it ever since.

At last, the years of hard graft are finally paying off and Barth is currently enjoying the most successful phase of his career to date. In recent months Axe have made chart impact in the States with their ‘Offering’ LP and they’ve also been out on the road supporting the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Cheap Trick and Judas Priest.

British rock fans might be aware of the band through their two MCA albums, which emerged in the latter part of the 70’s, and were somewhat uninspiring, lightweight pop/ rock packages. The 1982 Axe is a lot different and their Atco released LP ‘Offering’ boasts a fine array of numbers.

Produced by Al Nalli, who also handles Blackfoot, it should be available in the UK very shortly and one suspects that when they recorded it, Axe had aimed for a more live, aggressive sound than had been evidenced on the earlier platters.

Barth agrees: “Yeah, that’s what we were after – we wanted to hit out much harder. The first two albums were a little too ‘studio’ for us and so this time we just went in there and let loose.”

What happened with MCA? “Who?” laughs Bobby. “It just wasn’t right for us. We’re touring band and like to be out there playing all the time – every night we have off is no fun at all! When we were with MCA we really wanted to tour but they weren’t into it.

“The first band to really give us a shot at touring was Judas Priest. They saw the band live and said ‘Well, this is a HEAVY band!’ But the problem was that people would then listen to the albums and find that they were much lighter. In fact we ended up living under that shadow for about two years.”

Didn’t that get a bit frustrating?

“Yeah, it did. But when we got out and did some touring, the people who saw us realised what we were all about and got turned onto us.”

Unhappily though, the lack of road work during their MCA days caused Axe to break up. They recorded some demos with Judas Priest producer Tom Allom though and subsequently these led to their deal with Atco. Was it tough getting another label interested?

“It wasn’t too bad actually,” answers Bobby. “After the band had broken up I’d decided I was going to branch off on my own, I sat around for about six months not doing anything and then I got a call from Atco saying that they’d like to do something. So I called everybody up and we all got back together in a couple of days, although we got ourselves a new bass player.”

‘Offering’ was recorded in February of this year and took just over a month to complete. One of the appealing factors is the strong use of vocals and clearly this was something that Barth had been keen to pursue from the outset.

“I wanted to put together a heavy band which had good use of vocals. So many heavy rock bands tend to forget about them but they really are important. I’m not talking about cissy vocals – in fact if I do things that sound a little wimpy I gag myself! I’ll go home and chastise myself for it!

“No seriously, I think there’s a place for good vocals in hard rock music and I always loved the way Uriah Heep used to employ them. They still managed to keep their identity and that’s what I feel we’ve achieved.”

Barth mentioned his dislike of ‘wimpy’ vocals (somewhat ironic in view of the early albums!) and it was a topic he was keen to pursue.

“Let me tell you something, I can’t stand anything wimpy – I really can’t. And there’s an awful lot of shit out there these days that’s pretty wimpy…..and I certainly don’t want to be a part of it.”

How long has Barth held these anti-wimp views?

“My whole life! I grew up fighting and scrapping and I never had time for wimps. I can’t handle anything that’s wimpy. Like the other day, I bought myself a new pair of blue jeans, which I put on just before we went on stage, and believe me I felt shitty all night long! I just couldn’t stand ‘em.”

“So we ran the truck over him a few times!” interjects drummer Teddy Mueller.

Barth laughs loudly, and indeed it wouldn’t have surprised me if the drummer’s words had been true. Bobby Barth is a pretty tough looking character and his manner of attire (faded blue denims and old leather jacket) suggest an air of street credibility.

“Oh yeah,” he confirms, “we’re definitely street. We dress street, we act street and we breathe the streets. We’re street kids. That’s how we grew up and that how we’ll die!”

Does he consider Axe to be an HM band?

“Well, that’s what everybody’s been calling us but we’ve always figured that we were simply a rock ‘n’ roll band. I don’t know if we’re heavy metal, in fact names don’t really matter. It’s the music that counts.”

With ‘Offering’, Axe have certainly proved their vinyl capabilities (check out their electric rendition of the old Montrose classic ‘I Got The Fire’ -very impressive.) Whether they can deliver the goods on stage I’ve yet to discover but according to Barth: “Playing on stage is what this band’s all about – believe me!”




DECEMBER 1982 WHITESNAKE – interview with Dante Bonutto

And here I am again on my own,  Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known (David Coverdale, ‘Here I Go Again’)

SINCE EARLY this year when all suddenly went quiet on the Whitesnake front (established personnel opting for no-comment conversation and ducking all pertinent probing with ‘name, rank and serial number’ responses) guesses and bets have flowed unchecked, touching tidal wave proportions with the official confirmation of the forthcoming UK tour. The mighty rattler, long subdued, had at last coughed up the cobwebs and was primed once again for an injection of venom, nationwide.

Coverdale, predictably, was still at the helm, but who was manning the oars? The permutations were endless, the intrigue Crossroads/Coronation St/Dallas (delete according to taste) compulsive. For a long time the true situation remained unsussed with rumours flying to and fro like demented fruitbats, most seeming to spring from nowhere and most well wide of the mark.

One had David Big E-ing the band on the punk-like premise that rock’n’roll was a young man’s game, while another, a variation on the theme, had the dismissed personnel refusing to budge, a bizarre idea conjuring visions of an arthritic, wheelchair-ridden troupe chaining themselves to the EMI railings and thrusting obdurate, ‘we shall not be moved’ placards under the noses of passers-by.

And as for potential new recruits…. Jimmy Page was certainly the hottest contender, a rumour that reddened ears on both sides of the Atlantic, though Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour and Bad Company’s Mick Ralphs have also had their names dropped in dark, secret places.

On a different, more drastic, tack word came that Coverdale had tired of his reptilian rabble-rousin’ and decided to give it a go with either Bad Co (an enduring slice of gossip not to be taken seriously), or a pre-Graham ‘no more jokes, honest’ Bonnet MSG.

Fingers were being pointed at the slightest provocation, but behind the blur of flying digits it was clear that something was amiss – there was no contradictory claim or statement of intent from the Whitesnake camp and, with Bernie Marsden going off to form his own band. SOS, and Neil Murray and Ian Paice falling in behind Ozzy fave Gary Moore, both live and in the studio, change, and dramatic change to boot, seemed a likely, logical assumption.
And that indeed has proved the case. With the British tour now poised to get underway, only Micky Moody (guitar/vocals) and Jon Lord (keyboards) remain from the original line-up – Coverdale excepted – the latter having recruited cozy Powell (drums), Colin ‘Bomber’ Hodgkinson (Bass) and Mel Galley (guitar/vocals) to give the band a new, more committed edge. Tunnel vision in the best sense of the term. Fresh blood assembled and concert halls booked, the chief Snake was finally ready to talk…

I’d last met the one-time Purple frontman outside a Boston hotel a couple of years back, in the middle of Whitesnake’s first US trek. And, renewing the acquaintance at his publicist’s London office, it’s clear that time has taken little toll on image. Clad in denim (jeans), leather (jacket) and an obligatory touch of snakeskin (tie), his only noticeable concession to contemporary trend is a pair of woollen ankle-warmers and a couple of millimetres off the celebrated mane, still copious enough to provide the archetypal rock’n’roll silhouette.

A coffee and some preliminary chit-chat later, the scene shifts to an upstairs room where a bottle of white wine is chilling nicely in the fridge and, seats taken, glasses brimming and tape machine awhir, we begin a comprehensive run-through of the year, examining the complex events that have made this encounter so long-awaited.

Though clearly relieved to be setting the record straight, David picks his words with care, not wanting to gloss over matters or sweep them under the carpet yet at the same time concerned to avoid litigation. From his point of view there’s been quite enough already for, as well as shaking up the band personnel towards the end of ‘81, he also determined to divest himself of manager John Coletta, an inheritance from his Purple days, a move that solicitors advised him could best be effected if he kept his mouth shut. Hence The Silence.

Listening to ‘Saints An’ Sinners’, the band’s sixth album, however, it’s plain that these ‘behind the scenes’ goings-on have done something to stem creative juices, an unfortunate yet predictable occurrence. Recorded with the same line-up that handled ‘Come An’ Get It’ (the only difference being the appearance of Mel Galley on backing vocals), ‘SAS’ is really already out of date, a part of Coverdale’s past and hence likely to reflect the problems that have dogged him in recent months.

The LP cover (a photo of a statue long assigned to the Coverdale khazi), has an interesting ambiguity, but with the exception of ‘Here I Go Again’, the single, and ‘Crying In The Rain’, an epic knee-trembler launched on some exquisite slide guitar from Micky Moody, the material and the playing are rarely more than average. Coverdale, his colossal chords very much the saving grace, disagrees

“I would say that it’s the best thing we’ve done; certainly my singing has never been better. . . ‘Victim Of Love” is a great little rock’n’roller, ‘Bloody Luxury’ I like very much, I can see that going well in concert, and ‘Crying In The Rain’, from what a few people told me, could well be the new ‘Mistreated’ (let me add a ‘yea’ to that), and it’s time for a change anyway.

“If I didn’t think this album was up to standard I’d have burnt the masters, though I’d probably have ended up floating in a river in Hull. It’s a fine testament to the power of ‘de Snakes but the next one will be even more powerful, that’s for sure!

When did you realise that there were problems within the band?

“Well, I flew off for my annual holiday which I always use for writing and topping ‘n’ tailing my songs, swam a lot and came up with some of my best tunes. I really wanted to go for the album, but when I got back everything had changed. Jon was just finishing off his solo project, so I went along to the studio and he said: ‘what tunes have you got for us, David?’ And I said: ‘well, I’m embarrassed, I’ve got a ton of stuff, but I’m going to hold back and see what other people have got’. And what did other people have? NOTHING!”

What were they doing?

“I’m not interested. I want to learn from the past not live in it…… the last thing we did was a German tour in December and I decided that if I didn’t have a good time with the band then, and I don’t mean superficially, I’d knock it on the head. But the tour was riddled with illness so it would have been unfair to make a decision at that point.

“By the end of ‘81, however, it was out of control and I was really disappointed with my colleagues – they were cruising along on gold status and I’m hungry for platinum. To me, Whitesnake had lost its strongest element: its hunger. So coming into ‘82 I really made up my mind and played some horrid character, the Arthur Scargill of rock.

“I took over the completion of the album and put Whitesnake on a holding pattern. I said to the band: ‘I make no promises to any of you. If you get an opportunity to join someone else, please take it’. It was also at this time that I decided to divorce my management company because I was getting more and more disillusioned with the way my career was being run – or wasn’t being run.

“Lots of decisions were being taken that I disagreed with 100 per cent, it was terrible, terrible. Incidentally, I also engineered it for the rest of the guys to be contractually free, but nobody’s ever said thank you. Sometimes you just sit there and think why the hell do I bother?

“Anyway, it all proved very expensive but I’m pleased it’s sorted out at last because in the final analysis the buck stops with me. It rests on my ass, and I’m sick of picking up the pieces of other people’s mistakes. I’m not perfect but I’m going for as close as possible to that.”

Perhaps the other members of Whitesnake were suffering from a lack of incentive; it is essentially your band after all.

“No, listen, I’ve always asked for everyone’s opinion, but towards the end they started to get so high and mighty I thought, f*** it. And when I get angry it’s not a pretty sight; definitely firecrackers up people’s asses time.”

So what went wrong with Whitesnake in the end?

“I don’t know, tell me about it. “Why does a relationship with a woman get boring? Sometimes a thing has just run its course.”

How did the members react when you put the band on the shelf?

“They played much, much better. They put the icing on the cake during the last week of recording but they should have delivered like that in the first place. Then the album wouldn’t have cost over £100,000 which is more than the whole Whitesnake catalogue put together. It’s not a piss in the ocean, but it won’t happen again that’s for sure. I’ve now surrounded myself with players who are as lunatic as I am and as passionate to improve.”

Not all are new faces, though…

“No, I’ve kept Micky Moody who’s now regained the root feeling that I felt he’d unfortunately lost at the end of ‘81. He’s coming back to earth, which is great because I love his playing, his temperament…. and his hats! He’s got the hunger back at last.

“Actually, I’m something of a private ‘guitar hero’ myself, though l don’t think I’ve got the bottle to throw shapes on stage. Maybe one day, who knows. I’ve never played on a Whitesnake album but I did quite a contender solo on ‘Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick’, even though it was wiped instantly and banished to the ionosphere.”

Apart from Micky Moody, you’ve also retained Jon Lord in the ranks…

“Well, John enhances my songs more than any musician I’ve worked with. I listen to keyboard players and there’s nobody as complete as Jon Lord.”

And what about the new recruits?

“Let’s see, I’ve got Mel Galley, who was formerly with Trapeze and who was supposed to be in the original Whitesnake line-up with Dave Holland, because I love his voice, his singing blends well with mine, and I’m very fond of his guitar playing. He’s a fine songwriter too, we’re already coming up with great stuff together…. then on bass I’ve got ‘Bomber’ Hodkinson who’s played with Jan Hammer and Neal Schon and is probably the best in the business. He’s unique, a hooligan. He changed Stanley Clarke’s style and he’s not that old, just early 30’s.

“I actually met him some years ago when he was with a jazz/rock trio called Backdoor. They were from the same area as myself, the north-east of England, and in fact they asked me to join them at one time but I thought what the hell can I do there?……No, really, Cohn’s great and he uses a pick which is something I’ve always wanted from a bass player; I adore that chunky, bottom-end sound. Apparently, Hammer won’t work without him but he’ll have to now, that’s for sure!”

Which just leaves Cozy Powell..

“Well, Cozy was actually the first member of the new Whitesnake – he’s my right-hand man. He and I have been threatening to work with each other for years but the time and the situation has never been right before: it is now. When he left Rainbow he came to me and said: ‘I can’t push Ian (Paice) out because he’s doing a first class job’, but I was very disappointed with the way things eventually – started to slope downhill. I wish Ian had played on ‘Saints An’ Sinners’ the way he plays on Gary Moore’s album.”

Has Cozy got a new solo in the pipeline?

“Oh yes, and he’ll have to be careful he doesn’t blow the rest of our asses off stage. It’s marvellous, real heroic stuff, severe Viking shit, though I’ve threatened to upstage him by flying across the stage on wires in a blue suit with a red cape.

“To be honest, I just can’t wait to kick ass with him because he’s so root. He’s an animal when he plays, the same as I am when I sing; it’s a marriage made in heaven though he was seriously thinking about knocking it all on the head at one point, he was so disillusioned after his Marks & Spencer’s Group, MSG or whatever.”

Weren’t you tempted to gather younger musicians around you this time though?

“We’ll, a lot of people told me l should but I don’t really like white noise merchants, they all sound the same, besides which they haven’t got the bottle. When Powell goes into his double bass drums it’s just frightening and would blow a kid offstage. It’s actually a physical thump in the back… but this age thing. I don’t give a toss. The energy level of the new Whitesnake is gonna show a lot of supposed young bands the way home.”

Why weren’t the backing tracks on ‘Saints And Sinners’ recorded with Martin Birch, who gets producer’s credit overall?

“Well, Martin was ill at the time and I was pressured, bullshitted actually, into believing that I had to deliver the album by the end of December last year. l wanted a minimum of two week’s rehearsal but we ended up with four days which then turned into two with not all the band members around at the same time. There was a pocket of feeling that we should produce ourselves, but it proved a case of too many chief’s and not enough Indians.

“We started off at a studio in Shepperton, Rock City, then moved onto Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire with a mobile. In all that time I got one drum track from two weeks in Rock City, eight drum tracks from Clearwell Castle and one drum track from Britannia Row, London, which was in January this year. The rest of it was all done at Britannia Row, again in January, and I finished off the album in September/October in a three week burst at Battery Studios, London, where I supervised two guitar overdubs, did 10 vocals, all the backing vocals and mixed the single.

“Actually, we mixed the single on a Tuesday, cut it, delivered it to a security man at EMI at midnight, by Wednesday it was on its way to the factory and by Friday it was on the air. Wild! It must be some kind of record. And Birchey had to do a severe doctoring job and put everything but the kitchen sink on the backing tracks. When I recorded the vocals, they made the tracks sound really thin, but you won’t notice it. I certainly hope not, anyway.”

So did Bernie contribute much to the writing of the album?

“Hmm… he gave me a tune; the riff of which was identical to that on a single by a very well known group. I hadn’t heard it, so I spent ages writing a song with it and came up with a contender – I won’t tell you which one it is because we changed it so it doesn’t sound anything like the other one now. But I wasn’t amused..

Did he know what he was doing or was it just a coincidence?

“I’ve no idea. It’s strange, though, because Bernie and I have written some good songs together.”

He seems to be having a few problems with SOS at the moment…

“Sink Or Slim, isn’t it? Right now I’m feeling just a bit bitter. The only people who wished me well when I went in to finish the album were… well, Moody was helping me out and Lordy was popping in every other day, but I had no message from any of the others, like: ‘go for it!’, y’know. The only word I had was from one member calling up to find out what his publishing was. So f*** it!”

Will you keep in touch with the ex-members?

“Well, they have my number, but l don’t think they’ve got a copy of the album. Maybe they’ll have to buy one, I don’t know.”

Were you worried at having to sing in the studio after the long enforced lay off?

“Oh, yeah, because it’s not like riding a bike. Initially, I just did backing vocals to try and ease myself in, but the first lead vocal I did was ‘Love An’ Affection’ and that was a straight take. Then I went on to ‘Saints An’ Sinners’ and that was straight through too. I was singing like a dream, perhaps the lay off did me good – there’s some real severe notes on ‘Victim Of Love.”

Did you get frustrated while contractual hassles were being sorted out?

“Oh, certainly, I had nothing all to do for six months. I wasn’t allowed to go in a studio, nothing! It drove me mad though Powell was very supportive. I was really miserable, and my private life was in a shocking disarray, because I’m a pain in the ass if I can’t work. I went through terrible frames of mind, up and down like a whore’s tights, and I started to feel really sorry for myself. I swam in brandy for about a fortnight, then I saw my doctor who said I should knock it off.

“I had my head in my hands and suddenly my daughter became very ill, she contracted a terrible illness called bacterial meningitis, it can be fatal and there’s absolutely nothing you can do. Thank God she came out of it without a mark and that proved to me that the only time I should ever be despondent is when I can’t do something about a situation.”

When were you finally free of management ties?

“August 5. lt took six months but it could have taken 18 and my career would have been finished. You’re not gonna believe this but the day after I got the settlement agreement I went to Dartmoor and back-packed for like 70 miles with Big John and Cozy – I call him Action Man by Powelly Toy – and then we went the whole hog and bought a load of little tents and camped out on the moor.

“And this was just after seeing ‘American Werewolf In London’ which is hardly conducive to having a tent flapping round your ass. It was a bit decadent with the booze and everything, I suppose, and we ended up signing dozens of autographs”.

What did make of all the rumours that sprung up in the absence of any comment from the band?

“Well, I was highly amused by some of them, in particular the one that I auditioned for Michael Schenker. The only people I audition for are the audience, you know. I don’t audition!”

Did you want him to join Whitesnake?

“No, not at all. I think Michael’s great but he’s a liability. The sooner he stops surrounding himself with people who lick his ass, the sooner he’ll grow up and become the guitarist he could and will be, cos he’s excellent. What happened was Cozy said he’d like me to join MSG in January and I agreed to go down and have a blow because supposedly I had to start singing very soon and I wanted to get the dust off the Hobson’s Choice. When I found out he was going to be managed by the guy I was divorcing, though, that was it. No more Mickey Mouse operations, thank you.”

What about the Jimmy Page rumour?

“Oh, I don’t know where that one came from, I haven’t seen Pagey in ages; he’s probably pissed himself laughing too. And who else was supposed to be joining – there was tons. That Dutch guy Vandenberg was actually under consideration as one of the guitarists – but they all sound the same to me…the best guitarist in the world, if only he’d settle down and not grimace quite so much, is Gary Moore. He’s great and we discussed about him being in the band but I just don’t want to build songs around guitarists.”

ABOUT the only group Coverdale’s name has yet to be linked with, in fact, is Black Sabbath, a huge, reputation-crumbling oversight on the rumour-mongers’ behalf, for Tony lommi, it seems, approached both David and Cozy with a view to filling the vacant Sabbath posts. Both, however, had other plans.

How well those plans have now come together and how well the new line-up has gelled, can be judged on the coming UK tour, sadly minus a Xmas Eve show (David tried to persuade Haircut 100 to relinquish their yuletide claim on the Hammersmith Odeon but, unfortunately for London Snake fans, they dug in petulant heels).

Following the British dates, the band move onto Europe, then Japan, where they’ll be playing the most concentrated tour ever by a British or American group with three gigs at the Budokan alone, finishing off in Hong Kong, Bangkok and possibly Australia.

Armed with a band single-minded in purpose and individual musicians more interested in getting on with it than out of it, the next LP, possibly called ‘Slide It In’, could well emerge as the “governor album” David hoped ‘Saints An’ Sinner’ would be and he’s already mulling over potential producers, with Lange and Templeman high on the list.

Certainly both have good track records in the States and, having recently secured a deal covering the US, Canada and Japan with David Geffen’s ultra-exclusive label, home of Hagar, Quarterflash and Asia, he should soon be breaking down hard-to- fathom colonial resistance,

“Whitesnake is a strange band,” he reflects. “The idea of the name is that you either love it or hate it – Snakes, the cock-rock sign. But it’s wierd, it sort of transcended that HM thing which it never was and became a kind of people’s group. There was an incredible, bond between the audience and the band and I hope it’s still there. I hope so.”


WHITESNAKE, Newcastle City Hall

“I’M always nervous before a gig. Here lam close to home as I can get and my bottom is quivering”. David Coverdale had no need to be nervous. The Whitesnake fans of Newcastle were due to give Coverdale and heavy friends the kind of warm welcome that encourages the most pusillanimous of posteriors.

David was roaming the corridors of a magnificent castle when I met him a half hour before the concert was due to start at the City Hall. I was just admiring a suit of armour lurking in an alcove when David swept along a stone passage, a mass of curls flowing over his shoulders, looking not unlike a medieval prince about to go hawking, hunting and riding rough shod over the villains.

Whitesnake had established base camp at Lumley Castle, a magnificent edifice set on a hill some 12 miles out of town. I had arrived by Mr. Stephenson’s newfangled railroad to meet the band and see the first of three nights of musical orgying. There was just time to greet David, Cozy Powell and Jon Lord before hastening back to the city centre for the concert.

It was only the third night of the debut tour of the revamped band and they had a lot to play and say. If David has been accused of demanding a regimented backing band in the past there was no evidence of that during a show generously larded with solo space and feature spots.

For this was very much a ‘hello’ to the fans who leapt to their feet the second the band took the stage.

“Good evening!” roared David, clad in blue jeans, a waistcoat and mike stand. “Are you READY?” He seemed to stamp great authority on the simplest of greetings. From then on he led band and audience on a wild ride of flash and mayhem.

At this early stage in the new band’s development there were moments of imbalance, however. The group seemed to be searching for that elusive climax that makes for total satisfaction and there were signals afterwards that they hadn’t entirely reached that state of nirvana. But they came pretty damn close.

Whitesnake is certainly loaded with talent, but David is the unifying force, a sort of Luke Skywalker amidst the star wars raging around him. He can sing from a shout to a whisper, from a tenor boom to a falsetto shriek with dazzling skill. As he fixes the audience with a smile or a scowl he veers from vulnerable sex symbol to imperial procurator, now gracious, now bullying, his moods changing with kaleidoscopic speed. The music reflects his personality, always demanding, and seeking new avenues. Funky ballads are mixed with raunchy blues, explosive rave-ups vie with the occasional oasis of calm. None falls into any particular category and musical labels are anathema to David as he told me later. What counts most with Whitesnake is the level of performance and swift communication with their fans.

They could take the easy route and go for straightforward bludgeoning, but that would be boring. At any rate with Cozy Powell on drums and Colin Hodgkinson on bass there’s never any danger of Whitesnake’s driving thrust flagging for an instant. Colin is a remarkable bassist who came to fame with Back Door and Cozy has long been one of my favourite drummers.

Front-line duties are shared between Jon Lord and guitarists Micky Moody and Mel Galley. The latter have distinctly different styles, Micky, beaming beneath a huge hat and moustache, concentrates on blues and slide guitar solos, while Mel plays the harder hitting lead lines, with vocals to match.

David led his men through ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’, the fast boogie shuffle ‘Looking For Love’, ‘Ready An’ Willing’,‘Don’t Break My Heart Again’ and many more, with the tans yelling, waving their arms and joining in the chorus.

One of the greatest highlights of the show was Cozy Powell’s amazing drum solo. Flash, bang and wallop would be the easiest way to describe a tour-de-force that featured Cozy drumming along to recordings of ‘633 Squadron’ and ‘The 1812 Overture.’ I won’t give away all the details, go and see the show. But be warned, if you wear contact lenses don’t peer into the glare of the flames.

Jon Lord was featured too on a moving keyboard solo and Mel Galley and Colin worked up a lather on a traditional blues that reminded me of Cream’s old workhorse, ‘Rolling And Tumbling. All the while David was up front armed with a towel to wipe off the sweat and a drink to lubricate his throat. ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ was delivered over a slow, menacing beat with the kids joining in with yells and handclaps before the band broke into ‘Fool For Your Loving’.

“Whitesnake,” we chanted. “MORE!” we shrieked. The band are just at the beginning of what will be a long journey that will doubtless take them round the world, and it can’t be long before Coverdale is a superstar of international proportions.



“WE WERE looking at the Reading Festival advert and saw this name… The Angels. So we phoned up to ask who they were and were told:
‘Oh, they’re from Norwich Then we knew! ‘Hey! It’s us!’ It was just like that – we really couldn’t believe it.”

So says Jamie Durrant their bass player. The rest – Richard Hill (vocals), Ian Gosling (guitar) and Gordon Pratt (drums) – grin and nod in agreement. In explanation it should be said that the Angels had previously supported Iron Maiden at dates in East Anglia and London so got the job again for Maiden’s Reading warm-ups at Chippenham and Poole… the festival gig was Steve Harris’ way of saying ‘thank you’.

What was it like then? “Well we usually only play in pubs and clubs. Chippenham and Poole put us in front of about 3,000, but there were nearly 20,000 in that field! It was a bit nerve-wracking! We were on the main ‘A’ stage too which is 48 x 38 feet… really weird!”

The band played second on the Friday afternoon so not everyone will have seen them but Richard was pleased with the reception, especially as the gig fell only a little over a month after they’d lost their second guitarist. That prompted a reshuffle of material and a slight change in emphasis.

But having seen The Angels a couple of times since then I can testify that the set remains full-blooded HM. In fact, there’s a certain Maiden-type feel about much of the material though they disclaim any conscious influence and by way of contrast ‘Power Music’ and ‘City Of Hate’ lean more towards the Van Halen sound.

They gig regularly in and around Norwich’s area so look out for them there. Those further afield may soon be able to sample them via a new demo they’re hoping to record.

Kerrang! Issue 284 April 1990


…But don’t go hiding from the collection plate, because the only ‘war cry’ Australian raunch ‘n’ rollers the ANGELS are selling’ is their brand new ‘Beyond Salvation’ album. Long time devotee of DOC NEESON-style ‘dirtiest, meanest, amps-turned-to-11 boogie’

HOWARD JOHNSON urges you to see the light and put your hands in your pocket.

A SIMPLE TWIST of fate’, as Bob Dylan put it, probably has more to do with the success or otherwise of rock ‘n’ roll acts than any other factor. Ask the Angels (let’s drop the ‘From Angel City’ suffix right now!). Formed in Australia in 1975, these hard rockers have been releasing hi-quality, hi-class albums ever since even though most of you never heard of them! But the Angels have been responsible for some of the finest, dirtiest, meanest, amps-turned-to-11 boogie ever! They stand right next to AC/DC as top hole purveyors of raunch ‘n’ roll!

Yet only now – with the release of their ‘Beyond Salvation’ LP – is anyone sticking their thumbs up in the direction of the Angels.

When I tell the enigmatic lead vocalist, Doc Neeson, that the reaction to the new album in our office has been nothing short of ecstatic, he’s more than happy but not altogether surprised.

“It’s kind of pleasing, but we seem to be experiencing the same thing across the board with this album. It just seems to have captured the imagination.”

Which to a diehard Angels fan like myself is definitely a shocker. After all, ‘Beyond Salvation’ is a weird concoction featuring only four brand new Angels tunes plus five re-recordings of old Angels classics such as ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, the heavily AC/DC-ish ‘Can’t Shake It’ and the marvellously atmospheric ‘City Out Of Control’.

DOC FINDS it a touch bizarre too, but ultimately satisfying. “It wasn’t a question of not having enough material to play around with, let me assure you,” he says. “But we’ve got a new record company now (Chrysalis) and it’s a long time since we had a proper release. So the idea was to re-introduce the band with tracks people might be at least familiar with .

“I love the way the record turned out. It’s really full-on – a real guitar album. Terry was real concerned about that and he would just send for the guitarists…” (Rick Brewster and Bob Spencer) “…to f*** around with their sound for hours at a time. He wanted more guitars, better guitars, intense guitars, and I think it really worked.”

The Terry in question is Terry Manning….

When we were scouting around for a producer, recalls Doc, “his name came up and we were told that he’d worked with ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, George Thorogood and Joe Cocker. So we thought, ‘Shit! He’s sure as hell good enough for us then!’”

THE BAND’S instincts proved spot on. Get a handle on ‘Dogs Are Talking’ (the first single), ‘Junk City’ or the new US single ‘Let The

Night Roll On’, and you’ll understand why it’s not only me getting’ hot under the collar.

You know all this hot LA shit that everyone’s lapping up right now? Guess who influenced all those guys in the first place? That’s right buster!

“It was great when we last played at the Whiskey in LA back in ‘88, we had AxI come down and jam with us on ‘Marseilles’ and had a ball – he knew all the words! He freely admits we were a big influence on him.”

Great White too, can hardly deny it. After all they had their biggest US hit to date with a cover of the Angels’ ‘Face The Day’.

“That was a big and pleasant surprise,” chuckles Doc, “but there was also a tinge of regret attached to it as well, like ‘why didn’t they like our version?’

But at least you made a pretty penny out of the tune….

“I’ll tell you, the last cheque I saw for ‘Face The Day’ was for was for $3:36 and I know that it’s now sold towards the million mark in the States. When we first started we signed some pretty atrocious publishing deals, but it was the only way that we were going to get a record deal. I would certainly be better paid if I were a carpenter,” reckons Doc, “but money wasn’t the reason why I got a band together in the first place. I was into song writing and singing new songs. I was in a jug band with a couple of guys even before the Angels. We were doing kind of skiffle stuff with blues and 1920s jazz influences!”

I GUESS IT’S this kind of background which make the Angels sound different within what is a very conventional modus operandi. Who else in rock could claim to have been a member of the Moonshine Jug And String Band?

Just take a look at Doc, Brewster, Spencer, drummer Brent Eccles and new bassist, Englishman James Marley, and you’ll immediately realise how different they are. No long hair or spandex in sight. No designer tattoos either.

“We’re not a particularly glamorous looking band, but nor are we that ‘serious musician’ crap either. We’re not into that bullshit, we’re much more down to earth, and we’ve been doing our thing long enough now not to worry about it.”

So why have you had so much trouble securing a foothold?

“I think we’ve just been plain unlucky in out dealings with record companies.”

Was there ever a time when you were tempted just to say, ‘F*** it!’, and jack the whole thing in?

“Yes” is the frank reply.

We were touring in the States in ‘83 and half the staff from the record company were fired. We were left stranded on a bus in the middle of nowhere with no tour support. Now, I’m a big guy, six foot two, so I could neither stand up nor lie down in this bus – and it was driving me insane. I really do think that I went crazy at that time…”

But now the Angels are ready. They finally seem to have settled on a record company that is both understanding and enthusiastic.

“Now is a really good time for a band like us. The move is back towards live, energetic records that don’t sound over-produced. That’s

the Angels to a tee. I think all of this business boils down to a question of timing. And our time is now.”
I hate to say ‘I told you so’, but, well… I told you so!