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Monday, May 27, 2024

Strife - Rush (1975 uk, super power trio, solid hard rock with expressive lyrical themes, 2021 bonus tracks remaster)

British rock band from Liverpool in the mid 70's. They released two albums, Rush and Back to Thunder. Strife were formed by Paul Ellson in 1969 with Peter Trotman on guitar, Peter Hobbs on bass , and Ellson on drums. Within a few gigs, Gordon Rowley had replaced Hobbs on bass and also became chief vocalist. Around that time, Graham Kin also joined on keyboards and vocals, leaving within a year to return to studies.

Soon (1971), the band were joined by John Reid, ex The Klubbs, on guitar and vocals. They recorded a demo - 'Preparation' c/w 'Jerafter' as a four peice but soon after, Peter Trotman left the band and they were joined by singer Paddy Breen also ex The Klubbs. Breen's sojourn, however, was short-lived.

In '72, John Reid was badly injured whilst Stock Car racing. Peter Trotman stepped in temporarily but, at a Liverpool Club, Gordon Rowley was electrocuted and almost died on stage, being resuscitated by medics from the stunned audience.

Back together again, the 3 piece record "Magic of the Dawn" a demo recording organised by soul singer Edwin Starr who had seen the band at the Mardi Gras club in Liverpool. (Whist gigging nationally, Strife also often played local, Merseyside venues, sometimes playing Liverpool's Cavern Club, two or even three nights in a week.)

In 1973 Strife went to Los Angeles, they had an invitation to contact Mal Evans, Apple executive and former Beatles road manager. They had met Mal on a film set, 'Little Malcolm'. Although their act was considered too wild and attention-grabbing for the film's club scenes (some audience members spontaneously jumped on the tables, thus spoiling the shots) it's possible that the band may be seen as extras (has anyone out there checked?). Mal Evans was working in L.A. with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. However, the media frenzy at this get-together was so intense that, a few hours prior to the arranged meeting, the ex-Beatles and their entourage had left the city for a secret destination where they could continue their work in peace. No-one, including Strife, were told of the departure or the destination.

As the band walked away from the abandoned meeting place, a pink Cadillac did a U-turn and pulled alongside. It was Edwin Starr. Through Starr they soon met up with R.Dean Taylor and recorded a demo album, both in L.A. and in San Francisco, with Taylor as producer. One of these songs, 'Better Man than I' turned up on the album 'Rush'. These sessions also resulted in the acetate 'Worry', believed to be now owned by renown Liverpool DJ, Billy Butler. Whist on a second trip to the US that year, Strife were offered a deal by the William Morris Agency to replace Grand Funk Railroad on their roster. For some reason, the band were unimpressed and returned to the UK to tour; gigs included the last night of the original Cavern Club.

Strife signed with Chrysalis Records in the UK in '74 and recorded 'Rush'. It was released in early '75 with a strong appearance in the Virgin chart (at the time, the main barometer of UK rock music). As the album was released, Strife toured with Ginger Baker led outfit, The Baker Gurvitz Army. Shortly after this tour, they were joined by guitarist Vic Pappaleo but, despite Vic being an amazing guitarist, the format didn't work out. Strife continued as a three piece, working solidly and increasing their fan-base. However, despite the band's popularity, Chrysalis, whilst going through a corporate identity crisis, refused to release any further material - yet they held Strife to their contract. Regardless of the legal situation, Strife were determined to keep recording and recorded the EP 'School', releasing it on their own label, Outlaw. (Their agent, Paul King was later to take the name 'Outlaw' for his highly successful concert promotions company). After Strife eased out of the Chrysalis contract, 'School' was quickly picked up and released by EMI .

During this mid-70s period the gigging figures showed that Strife were the most in-demand rock band in Britain. No band was safe from being blown offstage. Procol Harum paid Strife off, Judas Priest pulled out, The Average White Band turned plain nasty and Slade's manager, Chas. Chandler, gave instructions that his band should never have to appear with Strife again. Moving from support, from '73 onwards, the band headlined in major venues as well as famous rock clubs such as the London's Marquee and Frankfurt's Zoom.

This version will have three bonus tracks from their 1973 Universal Studio Demo of unreleased songs. Both versions will have updated original artwork, but enhanced and redesigned more in line with how the band would have wanted it to look like originally.

1. Back Streets Of Heaven - 3:19
2. Man Of The Wilderness (Gordon Rowley) - 4:30
3. Magic Of The Dawn - 3:27
4. Indian Dream (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 6:53
5. Life Is Easy - 2:55
6. Better Man Than I - 3:07
7. Rush - 12:02
8. Magic In My Mind (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 3:40
9. Tawny Eyes (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 3:09
10.Worry (Gordon Rowley, John Reid, Paul H. Ellson) - 6:42
All Songs written by John Reid except where indicated
Tracks 8-10 Demo recordings at Universal Studios, Los Angeles

*Gordon Rowley - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*John Reid - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Paul H. Ellson - Drums