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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Stories / Rock Drill (1976/78 uk, great hard rock with experimental mood, double disc issue)

Completing the two-fer reissues of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's 1970s LP catalog, this final package brings together the band's final, dying breaths. Cut less than a year after "Delilah" finally broke the band into the U.K. pop mainstream, SAHB Stories is the strongest of the pair; indeed, at its greatest, it shines alongside the very best of the band's past. The closing "Dogs of War," is a bombastically overwrought examination of the mercenary mindset, while the twisted history of "Boston Tea Party" -- quite likely the only U.K. hit to mention George Washington's wooden teeth -- is set to a pounding tomahawk guitar riff, and an extraordinarily contagious chorus. 

A positively spellbinding interpretation of Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses," meanwhile, drops the listener head first into the Louisiana bayou, hunting alligators and police chiefs alike. Rock Drill, on the other hand, was recorded almost two years later, with the band's career and momentum alike having been irreparably hamstrung first by Harvey's illness and "retirement"; then by the rise of punk rock, to file the group firmly into the box marked "has-beens." It was precisely the kind of challenge Harvey ordinarily relished, but he was tired and still unwell; the comeback came a few months too soon, and the songwriting came slowly. "Mrs Blackhouse," cut as a single during 1977. 

The odd "Water Beastie," truly hinted at the deranged variety and complexity that had hallmarked past SAHB albums and it's revealing that, 25 years on, Harvey's Considering the Situation anthology considered that song alone worth excerpting from Rock Drill. In truth, the album is not quite that dispensable. But it does come close. 
by Dave Thompson

Disc 1 "Stories" 1976
1. Dance To Your Daddy (D. Batchelor, A. Cleminson, C. Glen, A. Harvey, H. McKenna) - 5:45
2. Amos Moses (Jerry Reed) - 5:18
3. Jungle Rub Out (D. Batchelor, A. Cleminson, C. Glen, A. Harvey, H. McKenna) - 4:27
4. Sirocco (Hugh McKenna) - 6:51
5. Boston Tea Party (Alistair Cleminson, Alex Harvey, Hugh McKenna) - 4:36
6. Sultan's Choice (Alistair Cleminson, Alex Harvey) - 4:06
7. $25 For A Massage (Alistair Cleminson, Chris Glen, Alex Harvey) - 3:18
8. Dogs Of War (Alistair Cleminson, Alex Harvey, Hugh McKenna) - 6:13

Disc 2 "Rock Drill" 1978
1. Rock Drill (Alex Harvey, Tommy Eyre) - 6:24
2. The Dolphins (A. Harvey, A. Zal Cleminson, C. Glen, H. McKenna) - 6:09
3. Rock 'N' Roll (Alex Harvey, Alistair Cleminson, Hugh McKenna) - 3:39
4. King Kong (Max Steiner) - 3:16
5. Booids (Traditional Arr. By A. Harvey, A. Cleminson, C. Glen, E. McKenna, T.Eyre) - 1:38
6. Who Murdered Sex? (A. Harvey, A. Cleminson, T. Eyre) - 5:17
7. Nightmare City (Alex Harvey) - 3:48
8. Water Beastie (Alex Harvey, Chris Glen, Hugh McKenna) - 4:51
9. Mrs. Blackhouse (Alex Harvey) - 3:36

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
*Alex Harvey - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Zal Cleminson - Guitar
*Chris Glen - Bass Guitar
*Hugh McKenna - Keyboards, Synthesizer
*Ted McKenna - Drums

The Senstational Alex Harvey Band
1972-73  Framed / Next 
1974-75  The Impossible Dream / Tomorrow Belongs to Me
1975-76  Live / The Penthouse Tapes
Related Act
1970  Tear Gas - Piggy Go Getter (Vinyl edition)
1971  Tear Gas - Tear Gas

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