domingo, 28 de julho de 2013

REDWOOD (UK) - Give the Indian Back His Land (7'', private, 1979)


I guess every Heavy Metal listener who plunges into the fascinating world of really obscure bands and releases will learn the lesson eventually: locating an ultra-rare artifact doesn't mean that your efforts will be rewarded with good music after all. OK, many impossibly obscure records are actually in the same musical league of the most well-regarded bands in the business - sometimes even better, although not as frequently as many of us aficionados would like to admit. But let's face it, once and for all: in numerous occasions, the chase is far better than the catch. Most bands never got anywhere for a reason, you know.

Redwood is a recent discovery in the amazing realm of NWOBHM - and as soon as people knew that such a band actually existed, their sole and extremely rare 7'' became one of the most sought-after singles of the entire Metal Universe. Well, perhaps it's not as elusive as Hellfire Club or Holocaust (not that one), pretty much the as-rare-as-it-gets when it comes to NWOBHM, but it's surely a slice of vinyl that gives the major players in the collecting scene a few sleepless nights. It was supposedly pressed in a microscopic run (a hundred copies at the most optimistic), so it was a safe bet to assume most of us would never have the chance to listen to it. But luck was on our side when a eBay seller offered a copy for sale and was generous enough to rip both tracks in mp3 format, as a bonus for those who wanted to know what was it all about. You know, once it's in the internet, it's potentially eternal - and now not only the lucky (and wealthy) buyer can listen to this esoteric 7'', but also those who were quick enough to download the files before the links expired.

And no, I'm not implying that Redwood's sole (and stupendously rare) single is one to throw into the blast furnace at the earliest opportunity - but don't go for it expecting any sort of undiscovered classic of NWOBHM, as you will be heading for some disappointment. The sound quality is worsened by some difficulties in transferring, as the one responsible for the rip would be the first to admit - still, the production is very poor, and I'm afraid that even the first spin from a mint copy of the vinyl would not give you much return on your money when it comes to sound quality. And the two songs here included are far from memorable too - both "Give the Indian Back His Land" and "Rock of Ages" are unspectacular rockers with some guitar freakouts thrown in to liven things up, being not really atrocious but also very distant of anything too extraordinary.

The vocals are uninspiring and the lyrics are quite imature, but that's not exactly a rarity when it comes to NWOBHM, so I wouldn't care too much about it if the songs could live up to their promise - something I'm not really sure about, to put it in polite terms. OK, I'll concede that "Give the Indian Back His Land" presents a reasonably good intro and a verse-that-becomes-chorus scheme that can be reasonably acceptable if you're in the right frame of mind, but I seriously doubt that "Rock of Ages" will leave fond memories (or any memories, for that matter) in any listener, as it comes and goes without capturing any level of attention.

You don't need to be a genius to assume that Redwood was a very fleeting experience for those involved - and the statement at the sleeve "thank you all for buying this record and making us Rock Stars" sounds even more ironic now than it probably already was back in the day. I assume that Mr. Phil Puckette (V/G) was the leader of the pack (he wrote both songs and I suppose he wouldn't allow anyone to picture an unknown guitarist other than himself in the front cover, you know), and I wouldn't be remotely surprised if Redwood was over soon after the single was pressed, the mainman choosing to pursuit another career in the interim. Being released in the heady days of 1979, perhaps they could have stand a better chance if they managed to stick together a while longer, improving their playing and songwriting skills just in time to join the big NWOBHM explosion. It never happened, as we all know by now, but the mind wanders anyway. Whatever the story behind this release, I would surely love to know more - so, if you ever had any connection with Redwood, even the slightest, please disregard the fact that I didn't like the songs that much (I'm a human being and therefore can commit a few misjudgements, you know) and kindly get in touch ^^

Phil Puckette (V/G), Eric Newman (B), Colin Fort-Divers (D).

01. Give the Indian Back His Land (Puckette) 2:36
02. Rock of Ages (Puckette) 2:12

Many thanks to NWOBHM Knightmare for sound files

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at and let me know!

sábado, 27 de julho de 2013

SNATCH-BACK (UK) - Eastern Lady (7'', CSS Records, 1979)


A mystery band at present, Snatch-Back somehow managed to release a 7'' single at the very inception of NWOBHM (and I'm almost sure it wasn't their intention to join this particular ride after all), but left very little information to enlighten us on who they were or where they came from. In his NWOBHM Encyclopedia, Malc MacMillan suggests they were from Manchester or thereabouts, also hinting to some kind of connection with the short-lived Budgie offshot called Freez, but (as the man himself was the first to admit) the corroboratory evidences were too fragile to give us any degree of certainty. Oh well, I guess the musicians once involved with Snatch-Back are still out there somewhere, so if any of you ever get to know the slightest thing about them, please kindly get in touch, will you?

Musically speaking, the four-piece was heavy enough to fit the NWOBHM archetype well enough, but I would say they were hinting to the early 80s as much as they were rooted in the 70s, something which is perfectly understandable in those transitional times. The A-side of their one and only single, "Eastern Lady", even reminds me of even earlier influences - am I completely insane, or there's actually a few influences of none other than Cream in here? The main riff is definitively 70ish, and the solo section (albeit brief) is a complete giveaway to what type of music the guys had in mind when writing this tune. It's an OK song (even though the chorus are too-simple-for-its-own-good if you ask me), but flipside "Cryin' to the Night" is a sensive improvement - a heavier, more intense number with NWOBHM-trademark riffing and a far more interesting song structure (even the slow mid-section works quite well, believe me or not). Dedicated NWOBHM enthusiasts will surely throw some pleasant shapes to this song - no classic of the genre here, that's for sure, but it does the trick when it comes to make a metalhead happy, believe me.

Unfortunately, the sound production is very poor and the mixing was probably made in a hurry, as the listening experience is quite rough to the ears - the vocals, for instance, are sometimes so loud that your eardrums almost shout back to you, asking why in hell you're submiting it to such a torture after so many years of job well done. It's totally forgivable that most Metal fanatics will choose to live a long and healthy life without ever bothering to download this single - let's face it, buying it is not exactly straight-forward and only the most obsessive NWOBHM completists would consider paying huge sums of money for such an item. But if you're reading this humble post until the end, it surely means that NWOBHM found a cozy place in your heart and soul, not to mention your record collection - so yes, I would say that you won't be commiting any serious mistake by adding Snatch-Back to your collection, either in vinyl or digital format.

Musicians unknown

01. Eastern Lady 2:58
02. Cryin' to the Night 4:16

Many thanks to NWOBHM Knightmare for sound files. Also thanks to Collector's Frenzy for label scans!

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at and let me know!

sábado, 6 de julho de 2013

STAMPEDE (II) (UK) - A Notch on Your Gun (EP, Punchbowl, 1980)


The seemingly never-ending search on obscure heavy music from a bygone age is often rewarding, although sometimes it gets quite frustrating, you know. When it comes to Stampede's "A Notch on Your Gun" EP from 1980, though, the feeling is kinda mixed - it's not like I was expecting anything out of the ordinary here (and it's surely not a case of a positive surprise in any sense), but I must admit the contents surprised me a little in this particular case. Although every detail in this 7'' transpires the amauterish spirit of the whole venture, there seems to have been some sort of intentionality in it - like they were not just throwing things together, like they actually had a plan, but were just too young and/or unexperienced to put it effectively into practice. I reckon they were only on the periphery of the NWOBHM genre, but still it's worth to drop a few lines about their music for history's sake.

There's not much info around on this particular Stampede (I guess you already know at this point that I'm not refering to the resonably well-known Stampede of "Hurricane Town" and "Official Bootleg"), seemingly based somewhere in the West Midlands (UK) and formed by musicians that, as far as we know, never took part in any other bands of note in later years - and you can rest assured that axeman Chris Barnes never resurfaced as a Death Metal singer in USA! Released by Punchbowl Records (whoever they were), this EP shows the four-piece to be a very unexperienced bunch of musicians, and the kinda ramshackle nature of the three songs featured are more than representative of their lack of songwriting skills. Still, it seems they were actually trying to create a solid Wild West imagery for their band - not only with the (undeniably ugly and poorly-done) artwork, but also on the lyrical contents and even in the music itself, that (at least to my humble and charitable ears) sometimes show more than a glimpse of country music. Am I completely insane? Well, I don't know.

The almost-title-track "Notch On Your Gun" is an attempt to recreate the feeling of a gun-toting Western duel into music, with extremely simple vocal lines and lyrics that doesn't make much sense at all. It's an extremely simple song with an undeniable pub rock feel to it, but still it drags on for quite a while, with a nonsensical instrumental mid-section that threatens to completely fall apart at any moment. Not the most exciting song ever recorded, I'm afraid. To be fair, things improve slightly on the flipside, with both "On My Way" and "The Simple Life" being more accomplished songs than its very poor predecessor. Not that this is a major achievement, mind you, as "On My Way" is a slightly folky, semi-acoustic soft rocker that will almost surely leave no lasting impression on any listener. "The Simple Life", to its credit, is the best song of the whole EP, with a (slightly) heavier riff and a song structure that immediately reminded me (and I fully agree with Malc McMillan's "NWOBHM Encyclopedia" in it) of Panza Division's "The Day Delta 4 Played Mars". Nothing to set the world ablaze, that's for sure, but it at least gives Stampede a modicum of musical revelance. They didn't really suceeded in creating something of a personality, but at least they tried, you know.

No other releases of any kind are known from this particular band, and I wouldn't be surprised if they never went as far as this only recording session, perhaps never even making out of the rehearsing room for any gigs at all. They also seem to have been very young at the time (the "thanks to mum and dad" note on the sleeve is hard to ignore, you know) and I imagine that the whole band was centered around the Evans brothers, Stampede as a whole being disbanded as soon as the lads decided to devote themselves to school and/or get a proper job. Still, this little vinyl curiosity survived the years, becoming a collectable for obsessive NWOBHM completists - something that I guess would come as a shock for the band members, could they be located. Most headbangers will find little joy on "A Notch On Your Gun", to be point-blank honest here - but I'm a good-hearted person and I like to thing that the handful of surviving copies will all find nice NWOBHM collections to call home.

Norman Evans (V/G), Chris Barnes (G), Dave Anderson (B), Brian Evans (V/D).

01. Notch On Your Gun 5:52
02. On My Way 3:20
03. The Simple Life 4:06

Many thanks to NWOBHM Knightmare for sound files and scans!

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at and let me know!