I’ve been writing about new music in blog and magazine form, for a long while now … from back in the days when Artrocker was a fortnightly paper magazine – remember them? Actually, Loud Horizon even predates that (@ 2004) so as you can imagine, a lot of good music has crossed my desk.
On occasion, though, some bands and artists stand out even above the ‘good’ music. It’s hard to define, but some just have that extra ‘something.’
This Liverpool based, psychedelic rock band may have only released two tracks to date, but I’ll stick my neck out right now and predict you’ll hear a lot more of Cothel.
With band members from California, Mexico, Korea, and Norway and a sound tech guy from England, there’s a lot of diverse influences being brought to bear in their music – and it seems to be working a treat.
Their second, and current release, ‘When You’re Insanely High‘ is an eclectic mix of rock riffs and funky beats, delivered with spiky, punk attitude. Think along the lines of a heavier version of Adequate 7 from the early noughties, and you’ve got it.
This track though highlights the versatility of Cothel, contrasting with the sneering vocal delivery and more grunge feel of their first release, ‘That Feeling You Get.’ I say ‘grunge’ but there’s more – there’s also a manic sixties, psychedelic sound to this. It’s like a swirling nightmare … in a good way of course.
The band have planned two more singles in the new year, before releasing their debut album around April.
There’s not much else I can say about a band so early in their development, but you read it here first – watch out for Cothel in 2022. I’m certain I won’t be the only one singing their praises.
Aaron Stafford (USA): Guitar / Vocals Emiliano Del Toro (Mexico): Lead Guitar Lee Jaeyeuk (aka Jerry) (Korea): Bass Gurkirat Singh (Norway): Drums + Rob King (England): Sound tech
Empiires are a four-piece hard rock band, playing out of Dallas, Texas. Like many bands, they put their enforced pandemic lockdown time to good use and, unable to play live, they focused on releasing a couple of new tracks.
The latest is ‘Stronger‘ which pretty much typifies their style – big, chunky, crunching guitar riffs, strong, bold lead vocals with growled backing and loud, melodic, catchy choruses. Factor in short, snappy, searing guitar solos and a pounding rhythm section and ….. well, what’s not to like?
I know it’s been difficult for all bands these past eighteen months, but I do feel that now is the time for Empiires to match their music with their presence. I can find very little info about them out in the ether, and with a few well produced ‘singles’ behind them now, I’d like to see them doing a little more shouting about it! Why keep your light under a bushel?
As you’ll see, each of the song videos available are of the ‘lyric’ nature. Tied in with my point above, I’d love to see the band feature more in them. In fact, if I’m totally honest, especially with reference to the new song ‘Stronger‘ I think the song sounds ‘stronger’ when listened to without the video as it is.
This is not a criticism, just an observation. The band have the perfect image of a hard rocking band – why not let it help them grow their music?
Anyway – back to the music. They guys kick serious ass, so hopefully their enforced additional rehearsal / recording time will pay them due dividend in the months to come now that are back out on the road.
Boasting members from both South America and Europe, alt-rockers, Guilty have a truly international appeal. Having met and formed the band in 2019 they have since been based in Romania, home country of the rhythm section, drummer Cristi Diaconu and bass player Silviu Ruta.
Augmented by Renan Santos from Brazil on guitar and led by singer-songwriter Rubén Villanueva from Peru, they have become an established act within the Romanian rock scene.
The band have just released their fourth single of 2021, keeping themselves busy at a time of country / world wide Covid restrictions.
‘Leave It and Rewind,‘ differs from those tracks that have preceded it this year. Whereas the others have been more uptempo and rocking, this one is much more subtle. The song deals with the issue of social media and the adverse impact it can have on users, so it’s perhaps not surprising the general mood is more sombre. Dark even.
However, there’s an air of positivity in the title and lyrics which is reflected in the melody of the catchy and memorable chorus. It has a quite anthemic feel about it.
‘Leave it and Rewind,’ is available across all streaming platforms now.
(By way of illustrating the strength of Guilty, here’s the video that accompanied their release of a few months back, ‘Never Call My Name Again.’)
Leviathan were a respected psychedelic rock band from Brighton who, being one of the first British bands to be signed to the Elektra label, recorded three singles in 1969. They also recorded and album, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t released.
In autumn of that year, they split, and drummer Gary Murphy, perhaps a bit disillusioned at the non-release of the album, decided to take a break from the music business.
He was initially adamant, but having been approached by two very persistent ex-members of another Brighton band, The Motion, he eventually relented and agreed to play a jam session …. an that was it! He was hooked.
Hellmet were born.
A month or two later, while on a train journey and discussing just what direction their music should follow, they were overheard by one John Tobler, a respected music reviewer of the time and editor of the underground, Zig Zag magazine.
He took the band under his wing and wrote their first review, in his magazine. He also arranged gigs supporting likes of Groundhogs and Blodwyn Pig, and secured them a slot at the famed Marquee Club venue. All good, high exposure.
As a result of their gigging and growing reputation, they were then approached later in 1970 by local Brighton business who wanted to diversify and break into music management. It was they who financed the recording session at Orange Studios.
An album’s worth of tracks were laid down, but despite the master tapes being hawked around various record labels, no offer of a deal was forthcoming. The acetate, having passed through so many hands, was subsequently lost, and as with his previous band, Leviathan, drummer Gary Murphy had nothing to show for his commitment. The band folded.
(Lucky white heather, eh?)
As seems to happen with surprising regularity, the ‘masters’ somehow turned up fifty years later, and now the album has been made available by Seelie Court.
Musically, the five tracks cover several rock bases: ‘Hazy Shady Lady’ is a blues infused hard rocker; ‘Trust,’ has a Black Sabbath type riff and passes through a few mood and tempo changes, like all good prog tracks are require to do! At times, I’m reminded also of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused.’ That type of song. ‘Judgement Day (Honest Religion)‘ is a rather sad melodic song about heroin addiction.
‘Sweet Bitch‘ is the first of only two tracks on side two. It’s another standard hard rocker, It’s fast and angry and I’d say my favourite on the album. Album closer ‘What is The Point (Of it All?) is another in the heavy rock mould, but with a jazzy interlude.
I have to say, I’m a bit confused though. The band name, album cover and especially the six paintings of Lucifer that adorn the inside of the gatefold sleeve, seem to contradict the image of the band (see above) and the music they produced.
Overall though, it’s been met with some excitement from collectors of prog rock albums and it’s great to see bands from all these years ago finally get recognition for their creativity.
Terry Aitken – Vocals Stephen Day – Guitar Ray Mellors -Bass Gary Murphy – Drums
From the age of fifteen and while travelling to and from work in central London, guitarist Phil Newton was writing song lyrics. He played in his own little band at that time, rehearsing in his Mum’s front room
Fast froward four years to 1969, and Phil was by now an accomplished Blues player. After befriending Dave ‘H’ Holland, who played bass, the two would often be asked to jam with Powerpack, resident band at the Bridge House, Canning Town.
Buoyed by the complimentary remarks on his guitar skills, Phil decided to again form a band. Dave, naturally came on board as bass player, and having played with them in a previous band, Dave recruited the talents of Ray Curtis on drums and Fred Lilley on vocals. For his part, Phil persuaded Jan Chandler to join up on flute and Mellotron (one of the first to be used by a band, I believe.)
Nobody seems to recollect exactly how the band name came about other than Phil suggested it, and the rest went with it! For a while, they played mainly covers of blues standards in local, London East End pubs.
Phil and Dave soon became drawn more to the progressive sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Led Zeppelin and Phil again took to writing his own songs, reflecting this new sound. These were gradually worked into the live sets, and went down well with the punters.
It was now 1971, drummer Ray Curtis had moved on, replaced by John Clarke and Grannie had become an established band in the capital. The next step in their progression, then, was to get their songs down on vinyl. An advert spotted in Melody Maker to record an album for £100 offered the ideal opportunity. and so the five-piece, joined by John Stevenson, who would play organ on the album’s nine-minute long closer, ‘Coloured Armageddon,’ booked their session at SRT Studios in Herfordshire.
None of the band had previous studio experience, and with a mere eight hours available, the tracks were all recorded ‘live,’ with no over dubs or double tracking.
The result was six tracks of mainly guitar driven progressive rock, encompassing a melodic and ‘psychedelic’ feel at times but also with a nod to the heavier side of rock music.
For their £100 investment, the band were presented with ninety-nine copies of the album, the plan being to use them more or less as demos, and hawk them around various labels in search of a record deal. Some would also be sold at live shows.
No deal was forthcoming however, but the band played on! Vocalist Fred Lilley left to be replaced by Steve Betts, and Grannie’s reputation continued to grow. They supported the likes of Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, Gnidrolog and Arrrival, playing iconic venues like The Roundhouse and Marquee, eventually securing a residency at the famous Speakeasy Club in West London. There they’d often play in front of stars in their own right such as, David Bowie, Elton John and Pete Townsend.
Drummer John Clarke left around this time, his place being taken by Graham Guthrie, but things were going well for the band. Until …
Having loaded all their gear into a transit van following a rehearsal at the Club, they discovered the next morning it had all been stolen from where it had been parked up overnight outside the house of the Club manager. Everything was gone, including Jan’s expensive mellotron. Much of the equipment was still being paid up an so with no means of replacing it, the band folded.
Over the ensuing years, collectors of this type of music clamoued for one of the ninety-nine original copies in existence. I don’t see any having been sold via Discogs, however, Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights’ tome describes them as ‘very few exist and are very sought after,’ indicating a fetching price of between £1000 and £2000!
Of course, the increase in awareness and popularity has resulted in several limited re-pressings over the years, with the latest of these worth around £30.
**(Sadly, Phil Newton died alone at age fifty-one in 2001, before fulfillinghis dream of fame that he’d held for many years.) **
Phil Newton – Lead Guitar / Vocals Dave ‘H’ Holland – Bass / Vocals Jan Chandler – Flute / Mellotron / Vocals John Clarke – Drums Fred Lilley – Lead Vocals + John Stevenson – Organ
The first single I ever bought was ‘Co Co’ by The Sweet, back in 1971. The second was ‘Alexander Graham Bell,’ by The Sweet. Over the years I gathered five of the band’s albums on vinyl and several compilations on CD.
You see, despite the stick I took at school, I was and am, proud to be called a Sweet fan. I guess I enjoyed being different.
Back in the early Seventies, my protestations that they were not simply a bubblegum pop band, and could rock it out with the best of them, fell on the deaf ears of Clapton and Zeppelin supporters. (Clapton fans must have been deaf, in my opinion, but that’s for another article!)
Bearing in mind Sweet have been around for over fifty-one years (with a couple years hiatus in the early ’80s) various line-up changes have been inevitable, not least due to the ill health and subsequent passing of Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker.
For a while two versions of the band existed; Andy Scott’s here in UK and Steve Priest’s in USA. Sadly, only Andy now remains of the original line-up – but he continues to uphold the ‘classic’ line-up’s legacy of of all those years ago.
Now though, with the very experienced touring musicians in Lee Small (bass) Bruce Bisland (drums) and Paul Manzi (lead vocals) Sweet have settled once again as a four-piece and continue to perform in front of sell-out crowds across Europe. In fact, their Covid-delayed ‘Hellraiser’ UK tour due to kick off towards the end of November.
In the spring of 2021, the new line-up released their ‘Isolation Boulevard‘ album – a re-recording of hits from the classic era of the band, together with an inventive cover of Hello‘s ‘New York Groove,’ and the December 2020 single, ‘Still Got The Rock.’ This is a really interesting album – all the songs are indeed very familiar, not straying too far from the original versions which is what you’d want to hear if going to a show. Yet is IS different. There is a deeper resonance, perhaps down to more advanced recording techniques but emphasized by Paul’s vocal delivery.
Naturally, many of the old hits will feature in the upcoming ‘Hellraiser’ UK tour and it was while rehearsing songs for the shows, that Andy decided what should become the new / current single.
“During the rehearsals for Sweet’s forthcoming ‘Hellraiser’ tour in November and December 2021, we were trying out various songs from our back catalogue that could be added to the set list. As soon as I heard Paul Manzi and Lee Small’s vocals on the song ‘Everything,’ I knew that we needed to get it down and record it as our new single.”
The song ‘Everything 2021′ is a totally new recording. It was originally featured on the album ‘Sweetlife‘ released back in 2002. “I think the new version is a far superior production,” says Andy. “It’s much closer to how I envisaged it when I co-wrote the song back in the day.”
I agree. This new version has more ‘oomph.’ More ‘balls.’ Also, in Paul Manzi, Sweet have a specialist and focused singer. The earlier, 2002 version, was recorded with bass player Jeff Brown doubling up on vocals when then frontman Chad Brown unexpectedly left the band mid tour due to ill health.
The track has a kind of European / German rock sound to it, which is perhaps not so surprising considering the band seem to have spent so much time touring in that area over the years.
So, yeah – once a Sweet fan, always a Sweet fan. The musical landscape has shifted enormously during their life-span. They have seen disco, punk, post punk, grunge, indie, baggy, and many more genres emerge, overtake, then fade.
I’ve grown up with Sweet and while change is good and inevitable, life is sometimes even better for the comfort of constants.
The Glam may have faded ... but the Rock lives on!
I remember writing about San Antonio, TX band, Memory of a Melody in an earlier incarnation of Loud Horizon. I was pretty glowing in my review of their release at that time, and I’m not going to be any different this time around.
I have a feeling that the new single ‘Rise Up,’ may come from the same three song ‘Burn Alive‘ EP as did the excellent ‘Mary Go Round,‘ which is posted at the end of this piece.
‘Rise Up,’ is a fast and furious anthemic song of positivity. It’s the type of song that’s sure to get things kicking off big time down in the mosh pit!
Once again, we’re presented with melodic metal of the highest order. Gruff, abrasive vocals are surrounded by boisterous gang harmonies, pounding drums and screaming guitar. Not all ‘metal’ songs could be termed ‘melodic,’ but I guess this is in part at least, where the band’s name derives. ‘Rise Up,‘ is actually catchy as hell!
I like also the nod to punk / Oi! music with the ‘Hey! Hey!’ chants that intersperse the verses.
Yeah – my mosh pit days may be well behind me now, but if MoaM ever head over to Glasgow, you’ll definitely find me tapping my feet at the side of the stage!
(Just in time for Halloween, here’s a sinister sounding song to set you on edge…. earlier single release, ‘Mary Go Round.’)
If I’ve been puzzled when writing previous posts as to how and why certain albums from the Sixties and Seventies achieved ‘cult’ status, then I’m completely flummoxed as to why THIS, recorded in 1970, has NEVER been released in UK.
Had it not been for me re-reading the sleeve notes to my Sweet albums, I would never have stumbled across this one. You see, I noted Sweet guitarist Andy Scott had previously played with this band. He didn’t actually play on the album, joining after its recording, and his stay was short-lived as the group disbanded not too long after.
It’s amazing though, how a little bit digging around reveals gems like this.
From North Wales, Mayfield’s Mule was formed by guitarist Chris Mayfield in 1969. Chris had previously played with several notable bands of the Sixties, including (the original) Nirvana and Ian Hunter. However, becoming a bit disillusioned at how his music career was panning out, he joined Amen Corner as a roadie.
It was when that band’s sax player, Mike Smith was presented with a few demos of Chris’s own work, that fortunes changed, leading eventually to a record deal. Gathering around him Pete Saunders (keyboards), Steve Bradley (bass) and Sean Jenkins (drums) Mayfield’s Mule was born.
The new band quickly recorded three singles on Parlophone, which between A and B sides swing from heavy rock to blues and country. Over the winter of 1969 / 1970, an album was cut at Abbey Road studios. All tracks were written by Chris himself, and the album covered many bases. Laced liberally with Hammond organ, I guess I’d sum the eponymous album as a blend of Creedence Clearwater Revival meets Canned Heat, meets Mungo Jerry, meets Deep Purple. It depends really what track you listen to!
P.P. Arnold contributes backing vocals on the album which was engineered by Alan Parsons. Mike Smith was also on co-production duties and he’d later join the band himself. So, some ‘big hitters’ were involved with the band at this stage.
Amazingly, for whatever reason, EMI decided against releasing the album in the UK. It did, though, secure a release in Uruguay of all places. Apparently the band had no input or indeed any notion that this was happening!
Not long after this, Andy Scott, who had played with drummer Sean Jenkins in The Elastic Band, joined …. which is where we came in.
(The album has subsequently been released – 2007 -in CD format by the Italian label, Night Wing, but that’s about as far as it goes. Any takers here in the UK?)
MAYFIELD’S MULE Chris Mayfield – Guitar / Vocals Steve Bradley – Bass / Backing Vocals Sean Jenkins – Drums Pete Saunders – Keyboards + ‘Moxie’ Gowland – Harmonica / Flute Andy Scott – Guitar Mike Smith – Saxophone / Tambourine
Bliss was born from the ashes of U.S. garage band, The Sect, who were formed in 1966 in Mesa, Arizona by high school students, Brad Reed, Rusty Martin, Corky Aldred, Tom Smith and J.R. Lara.
Initially, the band were very much influenced by the sound of the British Invasion bands and were soon taken under the wing of radio DJ and producer, Hadley Murrell who introduced them to the recording process in his studio.
Two years down the line, all five members had graduated from school and decided to call a halt to the band. However, a short while later, Martin, Reed and Aldred got the bug once more, decided to reform as a power trio, and rechristened themselves, Bliss.
Still with producer Murrell guiding them, they recorded one album with the Los Angeles based Canyon Records in 1969. This does seem a strange choice of label to align with as they were more focused and famed for producing R&B, soul and funk artists, rather than psych and heavy rock.
Inevitably, through lack of promotion and given such low priority by Canyon Records, the album simply fell through the cracks. (So, it would seem, did much in the way of information about the band.Photographs too.)
The album resurfaced over twenty years later, when collectors of psych records picked up on the heavy, bluesy sound and original copies began to change hands for increasingly high sums of money, in some cases over four hundred pounds.
Of course, when this happens, albums are given a new lease of life via reissues, which allow the likes of you and I to add them to our collections.
‘Bliss‘ the album is nowadays considered a cult psych classic, and some tracks do certainly have that feel to them. Of the nine tracks, six are originals ‘ Ride The Ship of Fools, features hard, fuzz-wah guitar, driving bass and pounding drums. ‘ ‘Cry For Love‘ has a feel of The Zombies‘ ‘Time of the Season’ and ‘Visions‘ echoes Cream.
There are a couple of weaker tracks, it has to be said. ‘Make My Old Soul New’ in particular. But there are also three pretty solid covers: ‘Gangsterof Love‘ I recognised from Johnny Winters‘ version of this Johnny Watson song; ‘I Want to be Free,’ a Joe Tex original and a good interpretation of B.B. King’s ‘Rock Me Baby.’
Overall, this is a decent, solid, heavy rock album, I think boosted some years ago by attaining ‘cult’ status.
Originals worth £400+? I’m not sure. Certainly on rarity and ‘collectible’ tag, then probably. But if like me you buy records for listening to, then I think the regular album price of £20 – £25 is more in line with the content.
Leaf Hound were one of those bands who seemed to morph naturally from the Blues and R&B boom of the late Sixties into a heavier rock centred band of the early Seventies.
The band’s origins lie in the blues rock of South London band, Black Cat Bones, which at one point counted then future Free guitarist, Paul Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke in their number.
When, in the latter half of 1970 Rod Price left to join Foghat, remaining members and brothers, Derek and Stuart Brooks enlisted the vocal talents of Pete French and his guitarist cousin Mick Halls.
(If Pete’s name rings a bell, it’s because he would later join Atomic Rooster performing vocal duties on their 1971 ‘In Hearing Of‘ album. He would later also play with US band, Cactus, featuring Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice )
With the addition of Keith George Young on drums, the band were re-named Leaf Hound and began gigging around UK, gaining quite a reputation for their brand of raucous rock.
A deal with the Decca label wasn’t long in being offered and by the end of 1970, ‘Growers of Mushroom‘ was recorded – legend has it, in eleven straight hours in Mayfair’s Spot studios.
Strangely though, having toured Germany, the album was licensed to that country’s Telefunken label before being released in UK. Even more weird, was the album being produced without either the title track (see top of post and ‘Freelance Fiend‘ which opens the subsequently released UK version.
In the autumn of 1971, ‘Growers of Mushroom‘ was finally granted its UK release, but by that time, the band had called it quits and all moved on to other projects.
Their legacy is this storming album of heavy rock. It may be pretty generic stuff, at times sounding like Jethro Tull, (the title track and ‘Sad Road to the Sea’) and others with hints of Led Zeppelin / Free, but it does have a character of its own and the more I listen to it, the more I love it!
I should add that my copy is a re-press on the Akarma Record Label. It’s not an original 1971 Decca release, copies of which sold for £4732 and £4218 via Discogs in 2019! This makes the album one of the most expensive major label recordings of the Prog Rock era.
In 2004, Pete French and Mick Halls formed a new version of Leaf Hound, recording an album ‘Unleashed‘ which was well received on release in 20007. I believe they continue to perform live to this day.
This is them back in 2012.
LEAF HOUND Pete French – Vocals Derek Brooks – Guitar Stuart Brooks – Bass Mick Halls – Lead Guitar Keith George Young – Drums