1). Golden Earring - Brother Wind
From "Together", in 1972. Golden Earring are one of the oldest rock bands in the world, alongside The Rolling Stones and Status Quo. They were formed in The Hague, in Holland in 1961 as The Golden Earrings, by guitarist/vocalist George Kooymans and bassist Rinus Gerritsen, together with drummer Fred Van Der Hilst and guitarist Hans Van Herwerden. Jaap Eggermont later replaced Van Der Hilst, Peter De Ronde replaced Van Herwerden and vocalist Frans Krassenburg joined, and, in 1965, the band became one of the most popular "Nederbeat" attractions. Flautist and vocalist Barry Hay replaced Krassenburg in 1966, and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk, ex-Livin' Blues, replaced Eggermont, who left to become a producer. The band changed their name to Golden Earring in 1969, and released "Eight Miles High" that year. They'd experimented with various musical styles for years, and they finally decided to settle on a straight hard rock style, which they excelled at. Their main claim to fame was the mega hit, "Radar Love", released in 1973 on the "Moontan" album, which did very well for them worldwide. The band have released a host of other great albums during the course of their 35-plus year career, and they're still around today, with the constant line-up of Kooymans, Gerritsen, Zuiderwijk and Hay (which is a feat in itself!). An excellent dvd called "Last Blast of the Century" was released a while ago.
2). Focus - Answers? Questions? Questions? Answers!
Taken off their imaginatively titled third album, "Focus 3", in 1973. Focus were also from Holland, formed in the late 60's by Amsterdam Conservatory student, flautist/keyboard player/vocalist Thijs Van Leer, together with bassist Martin Dresden and drummer Hans Cleuver. They used to back singers such as Cyril Havermans and Robin Lent before they were joined by guitarist Jan Akkerman, formerly of Brainbox, in 1969. They released their well received debut album, "In and Out of Focus", but it was their second album, the Mike Vernon - produced "Moving Waves", also in 1971, with it's UK Top 20 hit "Hocus Pocus'', that gained them international acclaim. By the time the third album came around, Pierre Van Der Linden (who appeared on "Moving Waves") and Bert Ruiter on drums and bass, were now fully fledged members of the band. The band went through numerous line-up changes during the rest of the mid to late seventies before splitting in 1978. Van Leer and Akkerman embarked on fairly successful solo careers, with Akkerman being widely acclaimed as one of the world's top guitarists. Akkerman and Van Leer revived the band in 1985, but other than the one self-titled album released that year, nothing came of this revival. Van Leer then once again revived the band a few years ago and, with three totally new members, recorded "Focus 8". The band toured and played at various prog festivals and were very well received. A number of dvd's have also been released.
3). Livin' Blues - Diving Duck Blues
Livin' Blues were one of Holland's best groups. They were formed in 1967 by harmonica player John Lagrand and vocalist/guitarist/bassist/sax player Nicko Christiansen. Guitarist Teddy Oberg and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk joined and their first official album, "Hell's Session", was released on Philips Records in 1969 (although drummers Nico Dijkhuizen and Beer Klaassen and bassists Peter Kleinjan, Gerard Strutbaum and Henk Smitskamp had all featured with the band in earlier sessions). The band's first three albums were all recorded in Holland, whereas our featured album, their fourth, "Rockin' The Tweedmill", was recorded in the UK in October and November of 1972. The album was produced by Mike Veron of the Blue Horizon label, who was quite well known and respected by Dutch groups, also having worked with Focus. By now, Cesar Zuiderwijk had left to join Golden Earring and the featured drummer on this great album was Arjean Kamminga, with Ruud van Buuren on bass. Livin' Blues went on to record a further three albums before folding in the late 70's, with their final album "Blue Breeze", released in 1978, being acclaimed as one of their best. Christiansen and Lagrand would appear to have reformed the band in the late 80's, with the album "Snakedance, Live 1989", being released. Even later still, in 1995, a further album, ''Out of the Blue", with only Christiansen remaining of the original line-up, was released.
4). John Miles - Music
A massive hit for this English born vocalist and guitarist, who cut his first single in 1971. His first band, which featured future Geordie guitarist Viv Malcolm and future Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson, was called The Influences. When this band split, he formed his own John Miles Band, which included bassist Bob Marshall, pianist Gary Moberly and drummer Barry Black. Signing to the Decca Record label in 1976, they had a minor hit with the Alan Parsons-produced "Highfly", but it was with the release of the epic "Music'' from the debut "Rebel" album that year, that Miles became world renown. It reached number 3 on the charts, and success was attained at all levels, with Daily Mirror readers voting Miles Britain's "Most Popular New Male Singer". The John Miles Band supported Elton John on a US tour, and a further album, ''Stranger In The City", with it's two hits "Slow Down" (which was very popular in the discos at the time!), and ''Remember Yesterday", was released at the end of 1976. He went on to record well into the 80's and also worked with Tina Turner, Alan Parson Project, Jimmy Page, Joe Cocker and others.
5). Kansas - Hold On
Kansas' roots go way back to the early 70's when they were formed by drummer Phil Ehart and bassist Dave Hope. Initially called "White Clover" and evolving out of a band called "Proto Kaw", they changed their name to Kansas when they recruited guitarist/keyboard player/vocalist Kerry Livgren, violinist/vocalist Robbie Steinhardt, guitarist Rich Williams, and vocalist/keyboard player Steve Walsh. Kansas, who released their self-titled debut album in 1974, were one of the pioneers of the US progressive rock movement and were very influential in the careers of many groups in the years to come. Both Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh recorded solo albums, and when Walsh left Kansas in the early 80's, he formed "Streets" with ex-City Boy guitarist Mike Slamer in 1983 and recorded three albums with them. At that stage, the very talented John Elefante, later to join Christian Rock outfit Mastedon, was his replacement. Kansas split in 1983, and Livgren, who had become a reborn Christian, embarked on a solo career. When Walsh, Ehart and Williams reformed Kansas in 1986, they recruited ridiculously talented guitarist Steve Morse, formerly of Dixie Dregs (now with Deep Purple) fame, together with Streets bassist Billy Greer. Two good albums were released, "Power", in 1986, and "In The Spirit Of Things", in 1988, but Kansas spilt again, only to reform with the "Live at The Whiskey" album in 1993. They had a number of radio hits, one of them being the featured track, and others being "Play The Game Tonight" and "Carry On Wayward Son". This orchestrated version of "Hold On" was taken off their "Always Never The Same" album, recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra. Other well known Kansas tracks such as "Dust In The Wind", "Song For America" and "Cheyenne Anthem" are also given the orchestral touch on this magnificent album. Kansas are still around today - a live dvd, "Device, Voice, Drum", was released a few years ago.
6). Grand Funk Railroad - I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home
Grand Funk Railroad or Grand Funk, as they were also know, were one of the first power trios. Formed in Flint, Michigan, in the US, in 1968, the band were comprised of Mark Farner on guitar/keyboards and vocals, Don Brewer on drums and Mel Schacher on bass. They were essentially an offshoot of Terry Knight and The Pack, a popular soul-rock group in the Michigan area in the mid to late sixties. (Terry Knight would later become their manager). The name Grand Funk Railroad was taken from the Michigan landmark, the Grand Trunk Railroad. The trio released their chart topping debut album, "On Time", in 1969, and from that moment on, they couldn't put a foot wrong in the eyes of the punters, quickly becoming a major concert attraction. Strangely enough, they received bad press from all sections of the music writing world, as their brand of loud, uncompromising hard rock music took no prisoners. Later albums such as "Closer To Home", "Survival", "E Pluribus Funk" and the awesome "Live" album, were all brilliant. Keyboard player Craig Frost joined as the fourth member in 1973, and they released what was probably their best known album, ''We're An American Band" album.(The title track reached number 1 on the US charts). Terry Knight was fired in 1972, resulting in a series of lawsuits involving millions of dollars. The band would later use the producing services of well known musicians such as Todd Rundgren and Frank Zappa. When Grand Funk folded in 1976, Schacher and Brewer went on to form the short-lived "Flint", with guitarist Billy Elworthy. Farner became a reborn Christian and embarked on a fairly successful solo career. They reformed in 1981 for two further albums ("Grand Funk Lives" and "What's Funk?" in 1983), before splitting again in the mid 80's. They reformed yet again in the late 90's and recorded the double live album, "Bosnia", in 1997, from which the featured track was taken. The band recorded three concerts with orchestras, each as a benefit to raise money for the Bosnian American Relief Fund. The orchestral accompaniment to this legendary band's many hits and well known tracks is a joy to behold! Grand Funk lives!
7). Deborah Coleman - The River Wild
This fantastically talented blues guitarist/vocalist is one of the many great artists recording for the Telarc Blues Record label (coming into the country via Sheer Music). Previously recording for the Blind Pig Record label, she's released a number of albums for Telarc Blues Records, with the featured album, "What About Love?", released in 2004, being her latest offering. Musicians on the album include Per Hanson on drums, Hiromasa Suzuki on guitar, Ken Clark on Hammond B3 and Noel Neal on bass. She has a lovely, fluid style of playing and she writes much of her own material.
8). Colin James - Saviour
From "Bad Habits", released in 1995. Colin James is an excellent Canadian blues vocalist/guitarist who started recording in the late 80's. Strongly influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, he apparently impressed a Virgin Records executive by literally dancing on his table at a gig! His debut, self-titled album, which was decidedly more rock than blues, but which certainly showed his blues roots, was released on Virgin Records in 1988. His band was made up of Johnny Ferreira on saxes, Rick Hopkins on keyboards, Dennis Marcenko on bass and Darrell Mayes on drums, and this line-up appeared on the follow-up album, "Sudden Stop", which came out in 1990. (Bonnie Raitt was a guest background vocalist on this album). Three years later saw this energetic James Dean look-alike release the first of two swing "Little Big Band" albums, with the acoustic "National Steel" album being released in 1997. The featured number is a great cover of the track originally written by UK vocalist Kevin Coyne, of Siren fame, and released on his "Matching Head and Feet" album in 1975. Colin James has released a further two albums since 2000, namely ''Fuse", and "Traveler". All his albums are worthwhile checking out.
9). Gov't Mule - Perfect Shelter
Gov't Mule is one of the US's best "jam" bands. They were formed in the mid 90's by guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes, who has worked with The Allman Brothers Band, bassist Allen Woody, and drummer Matt Abts, also of Allmans fame. Their self-titled debut came out in 1995, and it was one of the best albums of that year. Haynes is an immensely talented guitarist, with his soulful, bluesy voice almost a musical instrument in its own right. Abts and Woody combine to give the band a very full and beefy sound. Subsequent albums such as "Dose", ''Life Before Insanity" and the two live albums, "Live at Roseland Ballroom" and the collector's edition 4 cd "Live-With a Little Help From Our Friends" demonstrate a band that was full of fresh ideas and unbelievable musicianship and songwriting ability. When Gov't Mule do a live gig, they certainly give you your money's worth - some concerts are known to have gone on for hours! But what a pleasure - they really are a brilliant band, and they must be great to see live. Woody died a few years ago, and various guest bassists, from Deep Purple's Roger Glover to Tower of Power's Francis Rocco Prestia, have taken his place, on various albums. Gov't Mule are hardly a covers band, but when they do covers of tracks such as Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", Humble Pie's "Thirty Days In The Hole" and Free's ''Mr. Big", they do them damned well! The featured track was taken from their latest album, ''Deja Voodoo", released earlier this year, with Andy Hess on bass and Danny Louis on keyboards. Warren Haynes has also released a couple of solo albums. The entire Gov't Mule catalogue of nine albums is available on Evangeline Records. Remember and make a note of the names Gov't Mule and Warren Haynes - you'll have to look long and hard to find any band or any musician that can compete.
10). Snail - Music is My Mistress
The title track from their self-titled debut album, released in 1978. This fantastic, largely unheralded US group, who's roots would appear to go back to the late sixties, released two albums in the late 70's and folded. The line-up on the debut album was Ken Kraft and Bob O'Neill (ex-Churls) on guitars and vocals, Jack Register on bass and Jim Norris on drums. This was an excellent album, with strong songs and stunning guitar work from Kraft and O'Neill, with the many highlights being the featured track, "Joker" and "You Gotta Run". The follow up album, "Flow", released the following year, featured Brett Bloomfield in place of Jack Register and Don Baldwin replacing Jim Norris. Whilst it was still a good album, it lacked the excitement and songwriting of the debut album, and the band seem to fade into obscurity.The line-up of Kraft, O'Neill, Baldwin and Bloomfield returned in the 90's and released a great live album. The live versions of tracks such as "(You)Gotta Run", "Flow", "Music is My Mistress" and the awesome "Joker", are brilliant. Highly recommended, if you can find anything by the group!
11). Firefall - Strange Way
Evolving out of Spirit (Mark Andes on bass, also ex-Jo Jo Gunne) and The Flying Burrito Brothers, (Mike Clarke on drums, also ex-Byrds, and guitarist/vocalist Rick Roberts), US country/rock outfit Firefall were formed in the mid 70's. The other members were guitarists/vocalists Jock Bartley and Larry Burnett, with keyboard player/sax and flute player David Muse joining from their second album, "Luna Sea" in 1977. Often compared to bands like Poco and The Eagles, Firefall's debut self-titled album was released in 1976. Their first three albums were all strong sellers and for a while they were one of the biggest selling artists in their genre. The featured track was taken from "Elan", their 3rd album, which was released in 1978. They went on to release about nine albums and folded in the mid 80's, although Jock Bartley, as the only original member, reformed the group in 1994 for the "Messenger" album. Firefall released a live dvd (recorded at the Middle Tennessee RockFest) in 2004. Other Firefall albums to look out for are "Clouds Across The Sun" and "Undertow".
12). Blackfoot - Highway Song
Blackfoot were a hard rocking Southern Rock band who were formed in 1968 by guitarist/vocalist Ricky Medlocke. The band also featured Greg T. Walker on bass, Charlie Hargrett on guitars and Jackson Spires on drums. It took them a number of years before they released their largely ignored debut album, "No Reservation", in 1975, on Island Records. They then recorded their second album, "Flyin' High", on Epic Records in 1976, but their first three albums for Atco Records, namely "Strikes", from which the featured Southern rock "anthem" was taken, "Tomcattin", and "Marauder", did very well for them. Medlocke also played drums on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "First And Last" album in 1978, (he later joined Lynyrd Skynrd as one of the three guitarists, and is still with the band to this day, alongside Hughie Thomasson of The Outlaws). Uriah Heep keyboard player/guitarist and vocalist Ken Hensley, joined the band and recorded two albums with them, 1983's "Siogo" and the follow-up, "Vertical Smiles", in 1984. His replacement was Axe's Bobby Barth. The band folded in the mid 80's, with Medlocke reviving a decidedly more funky sounding Blackfoot in 1987, together with ex-Mother's Finest bassist, Jerry ''Wizzard'' Seay, Harold Seay on drums, and Doug (Bingo) Bare on keyboards. There was a three year break before Blackfoot resurfaced again, this time with Medlocke joined by three new members, Gunner Ross on drums, Neal Casal on guitars and Rikki Mayr on bass. This line-up recorded "Medicine Man" in 1990, with a final studio album, ''After The Reign", with new members Mark Woerpel (guitars), Benny Rappa (drums), and Tim Stunson (bass), coming out in 1994. A number of live albums have also been released, each capturing this great band and its eccentric and multi-talented leader in all its glory. Jackson Spires formed Southern Rock Allstars with Molly Hatchet's Dave Hlubek in 1999. He sadly died earlier this year.
13). Black Sabbath - Falling Off The Edge Of The World
From "Mob Rules", in 1981, the second album to feature vocalist Ronnie James Dio,(real name Ronald Padavona), who'd been in Elf and Rainbow. Dio replaced Ozzy the previous year and the band released one of their best ever albums, "Heaven and Hell". The line-up at this stage was "The Master of the Heavy Metal Riff", Tony Iommi, on guitars, Geezer Butler on bass, Vinnie Appice (ex-Rick Derringer) on drums, Geoff Nicholls (ex-Quartz) on keyboards and Dio on vocals. Dio was one of the best vocalists to feature with the band. He remained with the band for the "Live Evil" album before leaving to form his own group, "Dio", in 1983, his replacement being Ian Gillan. The ex-Deep Purple frontman featured on the "Born Again" album, and although this album had its moments, it wasn't well received. Gillan then left, and Glenn Hughes joined forces with Iommi in 1986. The "Seventh Star" album, released as "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi", was a very good offering and the Iommi/Hughes collaboration seemed to work very well. Unfortunately the union didn't last too long, and Hughes was replaced, albeit for a very short time by the now sadly departed Ray Gillen, of Badlands and Sun Red Sun fame. (Iommi and Hughes would revive their collaboration in 1996 and record "The 1996 Dep Sessions", also unofficially released as "Eighth Star", and they recently appeared together under the Iommi name, on the new "Fused" album).
After Ray Gillen came the man who was arguably the best vocalist to ever feature with Black Sabbath, Tony Martin. His first appearance with the band was on 1987's "The Eternal Idol" album, and, whilst he may not have had the manic stage presence and charisma of Ozzy Osbourne, he was a far better vocalist and many people feel that the Tony Martin-era was Sabbath's best. Martin appeared on two further albums, "Headless Cross" in 1989 and "Tyr" in 1990 (as did new drummer, the famous Cozy Powell), before he was replaced by the returning Dio for the "Dehumanizer" album in 1992. (Tony Martin appeared with Italian guitarist Dario Mollo, amongst others, and also recorded an excellent solo album, "Back Where I Belong"). The Sabbath/Dio collaboration didn't last too long and Martin was recalled, appearing on a further three albums ''Cross Purposes", "Cross Purposes -Live", and ''Forbidden", before parting ways once again, to make way for the much anticipated "original Sabs line-up" reformation. Iommi, Ozzy, Ward and Butler kissed and made up, with the double "Reunion" album reminding all and sundry that Sabbath really were the pioneers of heavy rock, and that they had very few equals. Sabbath are still around today, as is Ozzy, but the Dio and Tony Martin-Sabbath eras should be remembered as producing some of the best music this legendary English band ever wrote and performed.
14). Hughes Thrall - Hold Out Your Life
Vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (known as The God of Voice), had been in Trapeze and Deep Purple, guitarist Pat Thrall had been with in Automatic Man and with Pat Travers' band. The two formed this short-lived hard rock outfit with drummers Gary Ferguson, Frankie Banali and Gary Mallaber, together with keyboard player Peter Schless. The self-titled album, released in 1982, was one of the best rock albums of the 80's. Glenn Hughes is one of rock's most famous and accomplished bassists and vocalists, having played on scores of other bands/artists albums, and he is also a very successful solo artist. His latest album, "Soul Mover", was released on Frontiers Records earlier this year. You can expect to hear a lot of Hughes' music on the RockIt Scientist in the near future!
15). Deep Purple - Burn
The title track of their first album to feature Trapeze bassist Glenn Hughes, who'd replaced Roger Glover, and the unknown David Coverdale, who'd replaced Ian Gillan. Released in 1974, "Burn" was a serious test for Deep Purple, as many people felt that the loss of both Glover and Gillan would prove to be a disastrous blow for them. Fortunately, they passed the test with flying colours, as the album is considered by many to be one of the best albums ever released by the band. A further album with the same Mark 3 line-up of Ritchie Blackmore on guitars, Ian Paice on drums, Jon Lord on keyboards, Hughes and Coverdale, called ''Stormbringer", was released in 1974, but Blackmore, who was becoming increasingly disillusioned by the direction the band was taking, left to form Rainbow in 1975. Ex-Zephyr/James Gang/Alphonse Mouzon/Billy Cobham guitarist Tommy Bolin was his replacement. The album "Come Taste The Band", released in 1975, was the only studio released by the "Mark 4 " line-up. It was quite well received, although the live band didn't shape as well on stage as they did in the studio, and, after a disastrous Liverpool concert in 1976, Coverdale decided that it was time for him to move on.(Whitesnake beckoned, but that's another story!).
Bolin died in 1977, within months of Deep Purple's demise. The Mark 2 line-up (Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Paice and Glover) surprised everyone when they reformed in 1984, and they released a couple of really good albums, although Gillan left again, being replaced by Joe Lynn Turner (Fandango and Rainbow), who came in on the vastly underrated "Slaves and Masters" album in 1990. Gillan returned, and Blackmore left for good, forming Blackmore's Night with the beautiful Candice Night. Steve Morse, of Dixie Dregs fame, a man who's played the guitar on the odd occasion before, joined Deep Purple (he actually replaced Joe Satriani, who was in the band for a short while), and the band have never looked back. Their later albums are all of a consistently high standard and give rise to the notion that Deep Purple still have a lot to offer the music world. Their new album is due to be released shortly.
16). Scorpions - Send Me an Angel
From "Acoustica", recorded live in Portugal and released in 2001. The Scorpions are one of Germany's oldest bands, having been formed in the early 70's. They started out as a hard rock/progressive rock outfit, releasing their excellent debut album, "Lonesome Crow" (also known as "Action"), in 1972. One of the band's original members was guitarist Michael Schenker, who went on to feature with UFO and for his own successful band, MSG. The Scorpions were massive in the US during the early to mid 80's, with their "Blackout" and "Love at First Sting" albums reaching the Billboard Top 10. Subsequent albums, including 1988's "Savage Amusement", which reached number 5 in the US and number 1 throughout Europe, demonstrated a band that were very good at what they did. (They were known to be the best band in the US, even though they were from Germany!). Moving forward to this brilliant acoustic album, which has also been released on dvd, it features original members, vocalist Klaus Meine and guitarist Rudy Schenker, together with guitarist Matthias Jabs, who joined the band in 1979 from the German hard rock outfit, Fargo, bassist Ralph Rieckermann and ex-Kingdom Come drummer James Kottak. Although they are a killer hard rock outfit, The Scorpions are also known for their wonderful ballads, and this acoustic album finds them featuring some of their biggest hits, such as "Holiday", "Wind of Change", "Still Loving You", and our featured track, "Send Me An Angel". The album also features three backing singers and a stunning cellist, together with other guest artists. They do a wonderful cover of Kansas' "Dust In The Wind". Pure class from a great band. The Scorpions are still around today
17). Magnum - Sacred Hour
Taken from "The Spirit", a live album recorded in 1990 and released the following year. Magnum were one of the UK's hardest working bands. Formed in Birmingham in 1972 by guitarist Tony Clarkin, vocalist Bob Catley, drummer Kex Gorin and bassist Dave Morgan, it took them nearly six years before they recorded their first album, "Kingdom of Madness", on Jet Records. Keyboard player Mark Stanway joined in 1982, and it was at this stage that they released their great "Eleventh Hour" album. They then went on to release what was arguably their best album, in 1985, the glorious "On a Storyteller's Night". Their fortunes took a dramatic turn for the best from then on and they went from support act to headliners almost overnight. They folded in the mid 90's for a while and Catley and Clarkin put the short-lived Hard Rain together. Magnum reformed a while back and are sounding as good as ever.
18). Lynyrd Skynyrd - Simple Man
From "The Vicious Cycle Tour", a double live cd released in 2003, also from the DVD of the same name. This brilliant Southern Rock band are still going strong despite the deaths of many of their members, namely vocalist and founding member Ronnie Van Zant, guitarists Steve Gaines and Allen Collins and, most recently, bassist Leon Wilkeson. They were formed in Jacksonville, Florida in the US in the mid 60's, taking their slightly corrupted name from their Physical Education teacher, Leonard Skinner. The line-up on their Al Kooper-produced debut album, "Pronounced...", released in 1973, featured Van Zant, guitarists Gary Rossington, Allen Collins and Ed King (who also played bass, later moving on to guitar), keyboard player Billy King, drummer Bob Burns and bassist Leon Wilkerson. They were a revelation from the very first note they played - their no frills, honest style of Southern Rock endeared them to the fans and they became one of the US's most popular bands. Tragedy struck on 20 October 1977 when an aircraft crash claimed the lives of Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and a few others. After the crash, the band folded, but reformed in 1987, with Ronnie's brother, Johnny, formerly of The Johnny Van Zant Band, assuming vocal duties. The band has grown from strength to strength, releasing albums up to the present day. The line-up on the featured album is Gary Rossington, Ricky Medlocke (ex-Blackfoot) and Hughie Thomasson (ex-Outlaws) on guitars, Johnny Van Zant on vocals, Billy Powell on keyboards, Ean Evans on bass, Michael Cartellone on drums and Dale Krantz Rossington and Carol Chase on background vocals.