This reasonably obscure EP from 1978 may not fit that well into the NWOBHM timeline, but it more than deserves the tag if we judge it on musical merits alone, and the musicians involved are also of interest for British Metal fanatics, so let's treat it as a NWOBHM release from now on, shall we? The humble origins of The Next Band (quite a bad name for a Heavy Metal band, guys) seemingly trace back to 1977 (the very height of punk rock), with Rocky Newton (V/B), John Lockton (G) and Frank Noon (D) joining forces to form a hard rocking outfit to call their own. The "Four By Three" EP came around a year after the group's inception, recorded at the Fairview Studios in Kingston upon Hull and released in september of that year, according to some sources.
It was a very early release by NWOBHM standards, for sure, but those of us with a fondness for the genre will surely find good reasons to rejoice on this humble 7''. It's not archetypal NWOBHM at all, that's for granted - it sounds more like a quirky variant of the usual 70's Hard/Heavy music, borrowing a bit of the punk rock intensity, but not more than that. Malc McMillan, in his NWOBHM Encyclopedia, compares Next Band with the slightly more well-known Money, and it's a good reference point indeed, although I reckon that this particular bunch is a tad more heavier and intense. It's a curious and historically-relevant release, as it really justifies the notion of a pre-NWOBHM period in British heavy music - and it makes you ponder just how much the NWOBHM boom in the early 80s could actually be something being gestated for quite a while prior to its acknowledged influx.
The B side starts with "Red Alert", a run-of-the-mill, mid-tempo rocker that won't set any pulses racing but won't make for a painful listening experience neither, although the semi-acoustic interlude (they seem to have had something of a difficulty with mid sections, you know) is entirely disposable. The final track "Too Many Losers" is quite an improvement, though, being another intense number with guitar work totally attuned with the NWOBHM revolution that was lurking just around the corner. And the (notably heavy) mid section actually works quite well here too! The sound production is adequate (albeit slightly poorly mixed IMO) and the Metalomether alarms reasonably loud on this one, so don't hesitate to add it to your collection if you find it for sale at a payable price. Damn sure I will do so if I ever have the chance!
Rocky Newton (V, B), John Lockton (G), Frank Noon (D).
01. Never On A Win 3:31
02. Close Encounters 3:58
03. Red Alert 3:46
04. Too Many Losers 3:10
Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!