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Showing posts from January, 2019

Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve “Through The Fire” (1984)

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In 1984, shortly before Sammy Hagar controversially replaced David Lee Roth as the lead singer of Van Halen, and when Journey was heading for a period of internal conflict, an album was recorded by a supergroup consisting of Hagar, Journey guitarist Neal Schon, original Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, and journeyman bassist Kenny Aaronson (who was previously best known for playing with Rick Derringer). The album was recorded live, with some studio overdubs added and most of the crowd noise removed. The band billed themselves as Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, Shrieve – or HSAS. The album, titled Through The Fire, was produced by Hagar and Schon, who co-wrote eight of the nine tracks (the exception being their cover of Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade Of Pale”, which is rendered in a pleasing guitar-based interpretation).

There was no denying the skills of the assembled musicians, but the results of this collaboration amounted to little more than middling mid-‘80’s arena rock. In fact, much of …

The Jags "Back Of My Hand"

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The Jags were a U.K. power pop quartet who were part of the late-‘70’s, early-‘80’s new wave scene. They were criticized for sounding much like Elvis Costello – because they did – but their debut single was a gem.

That 1979 single, “Back Of My Hand”, is as catchy as any power pop song you’ll ever hear. Resembling a fast-tempo Costello new wave song with softer edges more reminiscent of Buddy Holly, it has immediately engaging verses sung at a breathless pace, and a bridge that is nearly as infectious as the chorus, building up to the unforgettable hook: “I’ve got your number written on the back of my hand”. That song is one of the great earworms of the new wave era. The U.S. version of the single (Island IS 49202) contained a B-side called “Single Vision”, another Costello sound-alike that is almost as likable, though less hooky. The U.K. 7-inch (Island WIP 6501) contained a better B-side titled “Double Vision”, another fast-moving pleasantry which resembled Nick Lowe’s early new wa…

Alvin Lee's Road To Freedom: the beginning and the end

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In 1973, before the official breakup of Ten Years After came about, singer/guitarist Alvin Lee recorded his first non-TYA project, a collaboration with American Gospel singer Mylon LeFevre. To make this seemingly unlikely pairing even more interesting, the duo was backed by a stellar assortment of musicians, including George Harrison, Ron Wood, Mick Fleetwood, members of Traffic (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Rebop Kwaku Baah) and of King Crimson (Boz Burrell, Ian Wallace). Despite the large number of Brits involved, the material on this album mostly resembled American country rock. The album's title On The Road To Freedom reflected Lee's desire to escape from the commercial pressures and trappings of Ten Years After, as he felt that the band's musical development had been arrested after their Woodstock performance catapulted them to fame.

One of the high points of On The Road To Freedom is George Harrison's ballad "So Sad", which features the pseudonymous Har…