sábado, 17 de março de 2018

Fire in Harmony (Compilation, UK, Elusive Records, 1985)


As any serious NWOBHM collector probably know damn too well by now, you have to keep an open mind in order to make some discoveries. Sometimes, a truly metal-looking combo and/or record turns out to be nothing of the sort (examples abound, and some were already mentioned at this very space), but sometimes it's the exact opposite, with some interesting finds waiting for you on truly unpredictable places. And sometimes your reward may be not as skull-crushingly heavy as one perhaps would expect, but you'll still get some interesting music with reasonable crossover potential and decent amounts of replay value, which is already a good thing if you ask me. "Fire in Harmony" was one of the very first releases from Elusive Records, an imprint from EMI conducted by Marillion's then-manager John Arnison and devoted to release new talents in the prog rock field. As you probably would have guessed by now, it's not a heavy rock sample by any stretch, and I'm sure those responsible never planned for it to be taken as such. Though surely more suited for the progressive rock fraternity, it's also a mildly interesting item for NWOBHM aficionados, as it presents an exclusive number from Liaison (a much-loved borderline act that appeal to both long-haired rockers and prog-heads), and there's also a fair percentage of pretty decent (though not astonishingly heavy) music to be heard within its grooves.

Pendragon's "Fly High, Fall Far" opens proceedings in very melodic fashion, though slightly forceful rhythm guitars and a more upbeat chorus keep things lively enough. These lads never had much (or anything) to do with NWOBHM musically, but their arrival to the scene happened pretty much in the midst of the British Metal resurgence of the early 1980's, a fact that garner them sympathy from many headbangers back in the day. It's an interesting, reasonably engaging number, and easily one of the most (well, slightly) heavy-rocking tracks on the entire record. Next comes Haze, another act close enough to the NWOBHM archetype to be regarded as something of a near-crossover act - it even makes an appearance on Malc McMillan's NWOBHM encyclopedia, which comes to show their not-so-tenuous links to the original explosion. That said, their "Shadows" effort didn't really strike the right chord with me, sounding like a confuse attempt to put many separate ideas together in a rather dramatic 5-minute song. Some parts remind me of Jethro Tull in their "Thick As a Brick"-ish, most histrionic moments, while others are closer to the most contemplative, keyboard-based atmospheres penned by (yeah, you guessed it) Marillion, and the efforts made to tie such disparate loose ends are not entirely successful, I'm afraid. An ambitious number for sure, but I guess it just wasn't ready to be committed to vinyl just yet, and you can rest assured that Haze did way better on many of their multifarious independent releases.

Easily the main focus of attention for those obsessed with the NWOBHM, Liaison's "A Tale of You" may be a bit disappointing to some, as it's a featherweight, slow-moving track with languid guitars and strong use of keyboard ambiances. The rhythm section pretty much keep things going and not much else, and we're nowhere near the upbeat, catchy territory of more recognizable compositions like "Play it With Passion" or "Only Heaven Knows", to name a few, so this 7-minute-plus journey may not be exactly what die-hard metalheads are looking for. Still, it moves forward with undeniable elegance, and I suppose that submitting it was a conscious choice, so they wouldn't be too out of place among the other neo-prog combos on display. It's decent enough, but not a groundbreaking number by any stretch, and those willing to learn more about Liaison are well advised to start somewhere else, as this one may leave an inaccurate first impression of the band's output. To close side one of this LP, Trilogy brings "Hidden Mysteries", a surprisingly dynamic and enthusiastic song that is one of the most interesting inclusions by far. This competent combo seemed to know exactly how to balance the usual subtleties of the genre with a much-needed hard-rocking vibe, and this varied composition (further enhanced by excellent guitar work) really deserve a careful listen or two from more broad-minded collectors. Well done, lads.

Side 2 of the LP starts with Solstice's "Peace", a soft number that moves perilously close to new wave mediocrity in places, but fortunately sounds more like a extra moody version of Renaissance overall. It gets a tad more intense in the final section, but it's mostly fairly sedated, with female vocals that, albeit slightly shrill when reaching for the higher notes, are pretty effective for the most part and really carry the song along well. Citizen Cain is next in line, and they're perhaps those more keen to experiment with tempo changes, unusual time signatures and so on. Their "Unspoken Words" effort is really convoluted in that sense, taking repeated listens to fully grasp their highly unusual song structure and very busy instrumentation. The singer lacks range and versatility, being easily the weak spot on this one, but it's such an adventurous and competently crafted composition that I'll stick my neck out and say it turns out to be the best song out of the whole package. The influence of Rush is unmistakable, but it's actually an accomplished piece of songwriting with merits all of its own: let's face it, it's no easy task to write such a relentless, yet almost easy-flowing track, most of all when you're youthful, inexperienced newcomers to the scene. It surely deserves way more attention than it seems to have received at the time of its release, if you ask me.

After such a pleasant surprise, La Host is something of a letdown, their "Blood and Roses" contribution being quite a mess, if we're to be point-blank honest here. They were sure eager to experiment with krautrock, electronic elements and so on, which is not a bad thing in itself of course, but really needs to be in service of coherent songwriting to have the right effect. In fact, my first impression was to be listening to a teaser rather than a proper song, with snippets of different pieces put together to advertise an upcoming album or something. Repeated listens made "Blood and Roses" slightly more comprehensible, but it's still too much of an oddball for comfort, and I reckon most heavy rockers out there won't be missing much by not bothering to track down this one. Final track is "Fire in the Sky" by Quasar, another female-fronted proposition (the singer actually reminds me of Geddy Lee, go figure) that discreetly flirts with new wave, but ultimately (and wisely) choose to keep their musical landscapes into the realms of neo-prog safety. The song is divided into two very distinct parts: it starts with a more hard-edged approach, being even reasonably heavy in places, then metamorphosing into soothing, ethereal parts that counterbalance the previous adrenaline flow. Some rough edges are audible in a few transitions, but the track as a whole is pretty decent and I've no doubt that most prog rock addicts (and some like-minded metal fans) will enjoy the ride. 

When it comes to listening enjoyment, "Fire in Harmony" was a mostly pleasant and worthwhile experience, and it was a handy piece of exposure for most of the participants as well. Pendragon had already signed the dotted line with Elusive by the time the compilation LP was out, and went to enjoy a mostly successful career that goes on to this day (and that will most probably be further mentioned here in due course), while Quasar, Solstice and Citizen Cain would also release a number of individual records in later years. Though never snapped by more established labels, Haze managed to maintain quite a hectic working ethic, putting out a myriad of independent releases (most of it originally on cassette format only), not to mention a truly complex family tree with countless offshoot projects that would take us a full article to properly explain (again, kindly watch this space for further developments in the not-too-distant future). Unfortunately, the immensely enjoyable Liaison would not last for long after "Fire in Harmony" was out, and we keep our fingers crossed in hopes for a retrospective CD/LP to come out in the future, as they sure have enough recorded material and their collective talents damn sure deserve it. LaHost also failed to last the distance, but a collection of unreleased tracks came out as early as 1992, while Trilogy (a very talented bunch, as above stated) were inexplicably ignored by record labels and disappeared towards oblivion in a matter of a year or so, which was a total disgrace if you ask me.

01. PENDRAGON - Fly High, Fall Far
02. HAZE - Shadows
03. LIAISON - A Tale of You
04. TRILOGY - Hidden Mysteries
05. SOLSTICE - Peace
06. CITIZEN CAIN - Unspoken Words
07. LA HOST - Blood and Roses
08. QUASAR - Fire in the Sky

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

sábado, 10 de março de 2018

SHADDOWFAX (UK) - Really Into You (7'', BFD Records, 1979)


Now to a case of near-identical band names causing a bit of confusion. Dedicated NWOBHM enthusiasts sure know about Shadowfax, a bunch (from East Dulwich) that released a 7'' named "The Russians are Coming!" in 1980 and, despite being considerably closer to punk/powerpop territory than usual, still have a strong crossover appeal for 1980's-obsessed metalheads (I plan to review this one in the not-too-distant future, by the way). When the NWOBHM collecting scene began taking shape in the early-to-mid 1990s, interest for this obscure piece started to peaked, and some dealers came out with strange stories about an even earlier release, issued by the enigmatic BFD label in 1979. A few units were shifted for outlandish prices, but soon the truth of the matter was established: it's in fact another band (named Shaddowfax, with a double D, although it transpires it was a printing error rather than a conscious moniker choice) hailing from Bradford, West Yourkshire and with some sort of musical personality disorder if you ask me.

"Really Into You" is a laid-back tune with some noisy guitar in places, but too firmly rooted to mod / new wave / powerpop ground for most metal tastes, I'm afraid. It seems like it never gets going properly, and the listener is left waiting for a sonic explosion that never occurs. Not too bad, but nothing to write home about if you're not a powerpop addict, and just nothing to do with metal at all. Surprisingly, "Spare Wheel Driver" is a whole different story, both in terms of energy and style of choice. The (pretty cool) main riff definitely screams hard/heavy to my ears, and the overall feeling is not dissimilar to the boogie/biker rock/metal crossover material bands like Vardis and No Faith were writing and performing at roughly the same time. Maybe not the most ingenuous piece of songwriting about a fast-and-furious vehicle ever laid down on vinyl, but still a pretty respectable tune with a lot of replay value.

The disparity of styles is quite odd, and I tend to think this particular Shaddowfax (I'll spell it like this to avoid confusion, OK?) would have made a better choice by pairing "Spare Wheel Driver" with another biker-friendly, upbeat rocker, but what do I know? If you like NWOBHM as much as I do, it may be worth the effort to locate this esoteric 7'' by virtue of the B-side alone, as the backlash of a few unhappy buyers (who wanted to purchase items from the East London band and not some oddball namesakes) dwindled the prices of this particular item quite dramatically, and now it's entirely possible to buy it for a fair-enough amount of cash. Take the 2-star rating with a pinch of salt really, as "Spare Wheel Driver" is well worthy of attention.

As for Shaddowfax, they went as far as to support none other than UFO in 1979, and it seems they also shared a stage with Def Leppard and Saxon, which gives strong indication they were (in heart at least) more of a hard/heavy proposition rather than anything more punk-oriented. Unfortunately, things fizzled out as rapidly as they peaked, and the unlucky four-piece disbanded sometime in 1980. Oddly enough, there's also a (remarkably elusive) CD-R out as well, presumably issued in the early 2000's and pairing the two songs from the single with a third track named "Maybe I'm A Fool". Apparently, this extra song was recorded during the same sessions for the single, which took place at Cargo Studios in Rochdale early in 1979. It looks like something put together by some former band member(s) for old time's sake, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that it was the work of someone else who just happened to got hold of the original tapes somehow. The fact it is credited as "Shadowfax", with a single D, gives strength to the first option though, as someone who only knew of the single wouldn't be aware it was misspelled after all. Whatever the story, Allan Unnuk is still doing the rounds with a local combo called The Deltas, and efforts are being made to contact him, so perhaps we can all learn a bit more about Shaddowfax's career and offshoot projects. Fingers crossed!

Matti Unnuk (V), Allan Unnuk (G), David Fairfax (B), Roy Klymenko (D).

01. Really Into You 4:08
02. Spare Wheel Driver 3:05

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

SUPREME WARRIOR (UK) - Treading the Tightrope (7'', Private, 1983)


This combo, hailing from the towns of Southend and Basildon in Essex UK, are a relatively recent discovery to the collecting scene (more widespread mentions to the band dating from the early 2010's at the very earliest), and even the extremely comprehensive NWOBHM Encyclopedia by Malc McMillan failed to notice the existence of their sole 7'' single, which comes to show just how much of an obscurity they were (and still are). Not surprisingly, there's not a huge deal of info regarding Supreme Warrior to be reported, apart from the songwriting credits to Keith Martin and Phil Kilburn and some snippets of history here and there. They were seemingly a trio, with a drummer who also performed vocal duties (in studio, at least), and pressed around 500 copies of their 1983's "Treading the Tightrope" two-tracker, allegedly selling it only at their live jaunts - that, surprisingly, reached as far as London on two or three occasions. I'm not entirely sure it's all truth, though, as there would presumably be more copies doing the rounds if it was the case (only a small handful ever surfaced, as far as I'm aware) and it would hardly take nearly 30 years for everyone to find out they ever existed. Perhaps most copies were never sold at the time and are now stacked in someone's attic waiting for ardent collectors (that would be really nice BTW), or maybe it all just managed to escape everyone's radar by some bizarre chain of unlucky coincidences, who knows. Whatever the story, it was indeed recorded at (now long gone) RingTrack Studios in Southend-on-Sea and mastered at DeLane Lea Studios in London (yeah, seriously), so it's undoubtedly an artifact from the period in question.

"Treading the Tightrope" is actually quite an unusual piece of songwriting, a mid-paced number with peculiar (not really complex, just slightly off-the-wall) song structure and loquacious (not to say almost verbose) lyrics. It's difficult to provide meaningful points of reference on this one, as it's pretty dissimilar to almost all the other metallic acts of the period. Someone once told me (before I had the chance to listen to the record myself) that the song in question was something like "a heavy metal Steppenwolf", which is quite odd a comparison indeed, but it's not that far off the mark if you ask me - if you keep the "Born to be Wild"-ish Steppenwolf in mind, that is. It reminds me also of some heavier cuts from Jameson Raid ("Titanic" and "Do It the Hard Way", for instance) and maybe Pali Gap's sole 7'' single, but we're still not quite there yet. There's something Phil Lynott-ish on the way the lyrics are sang, but not with the bard-like intonation the Irish rock poet was known for, being more gritty and crude for the most part. The production values are very primitive, with guitars seemingly plugged straight into a sound system from someone's living room or something, and some rough edges in instrumentation are more than evident - but I'd say it actually adds charm to the track rather than weakening its delivery, contributing to the very peculiar impression left by this unique track. I like it actually, and it comes as strong evidence that some truly obscure NWOBHM bands were head to head with the big boys of the scene when it comes to songwriting ingenuity.

"Mad and Cynical" is a more straightforward ditty, carried along by a near omnipresent main riff that is something of a dirty, almost sickening variation on Tygers of Pan Tang's "Suzie Smiled", if such a bizarre comparison makes any sense whatsoever. It has a more street-level attitude than the somewhat figurative A-side, and the song structure is also more easily comprehensible, though there's a bit of tension-building halfway through that one would hardly expect while listening to it for the first time. It doesn't achieve the same levels of musicianship from the very good "Treading the Tightrope", and the rough-and-ready vocal performance doesn't work that much in benefit of the song this time around, but it's a pretty decent song all the same, and repeated listens further enhance Supreme Warrior's position as one of the most worthwhile NWOBHM-era discoveries in recent memory.

No copies of this very elusive piece of wax were ever issued with a picture sleeve as far as I'm aware - I actually saw online a demonic visage embellishing one copy a few years ago, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't part of the original package, most probably being manufactured at a much later date for means of making it look better and/or defraud potential buyers. Supreme Warrior's lifespan seems to have been very short anyway, and I strongly suspect they finally disbanded in less than a year after this 7'' was pressed, as there's precisely zero mentions to any further activities anytime, anywhere. Being realistic, and unless the proverbial box of unplayed copies we all always dream about becomes true in this particular instance, the chances of holding an original copy in your hands are very slim (assuming you don't own one already, that is!), and it would take obscene amounts of moolah to add this one to your collection, so I guess we will all have to do with the mp3 files ripped by some truly enterprising individual (thanks, unknown mate) for the time being. As always, you're more than welcome to drop us a line if you happen to know more about Supreme Warrior, and any help on that matter would be greatly appreciated.

Keith Martin, Phil Kilburn

01. Treading the Tightrope 3:57
02. Mad and Cynical 3:30

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

quinta-feira, 8 de março de 2018


There was a time, way back in the dim and distant past, when being a serious NWOBHM collector was something of a challenge - not only in terms of money one needed to spend (it's still pretty much a reality, you see), but also (perhaps mostly) for the sheer scarcity of reliable info on many, many obscure outfits and/or their esoteric releases. One of the most unpleasant consequences of such paucity: buying records that, despite being honestly hard-to-find on many occasions, have little or nothing to do with genuinely heavy music. Of course we all have a lot more to lean on these days, and the truth about a number of mistakes and/or deliberate frauds are well reestablished by now. But there's always more to learn about, more info to be gathered and properly explained (and this is what I humbly try to do around here) and, of course, there are always recently-unearthed releases from the early 1980's being added to wants lists all over the world, though in a ever-decreasing rate.

This being a blog devoted most of all to NWOBHM (a spirit that was not that evident in later years, and I wholeheartedly want to recapture in full strength for now on), I think it's funny enough to write some quick commentary about some slices of vinyl that created a considerable deal of confusion among collectors in the past - some still do, actually.  I plan to do such posts regularly, as 1) there's a lot of singles / EPs / albums that fall into the category and 2) I happen to enjoy listening to these, even knowing beforehand of their not-remotely-NWOBHM values. Go figure. Some of such items will get individual entries instead, but the criteria behind such exceptions will be absolutely arbitrary, loosely based on musical merits, interesting or convoluted stories and, most of all, sheer personal taste.

OK, here we go then:

29TH AND DEARBORN (UK) - Baby, Put Your Love in Me (7'', Kramp, 1978) ***
It seems these lads from Liverpool (UK) were quite a popular live attraction in the second half of the 1970's, the sheer energy of their performances being immortalized in a live tape or two you can now hear on YouTube. Still, the only official release of 29th and Dearborn was a white label 7'' single from 1978, supposed to be a promotion for an upcoming album on EMI. The deal fall through before any acetates were made though (I guess the sudden rise of the Sex Pistols have a lot to do with that), and the master tapes of the album are probably forever lost in the mists of time. Listening to the single, it's pretty evident we're not dealing with any pre-NWOBHM act at all, no matter how hard a dealer near you may insist! "Baby, Put Your Love in Me" is a boogie/rock number with high-pitched vocals and a clear intention to make people dance - am I going insane, or there's even a subtle influence of ABBA going on around here? Not bad, but nothing too remarkable either. "Stealer" is somewhat more forceful, though far from being a true heavy metal number. It reminds me of some early songs from Deep Purple and Uriah Heep - without the prominent keyboards, that is. It's a boogie tune with slightly heavier guitar work and reasonably catchy vocal lines, a song that may appeal to some of the more open-minded fans of 70's hard/heavy music. If you're curious about them, there's a fair bit of helpful info on 29th and Dearborn right here. You're welcome!

BANDYLEGS (UK) - Bet You Can't Dance (7'', Jet Records, 1976) **
Those reasonably familiar with the history behind NWOBHM band Quartz probably know the band was operating a few years previously under the Bandy Legs moniker (quite a hopeless name choice, I think). One single were recorded under such a guise (1974's "Ride Ride") before the band decided to change its name slightly to Bandylegs (maybe they though that a single word instead of two would make this truly horrible alias less objectionable, who knows) right before releasing the "Silver Screen Queen" 7'' in 1975. After signing the dotted line for Jet Records, they released a final 7'' ("Bet You Can't Dance" b/w "Circles") in 1976, a slice of vinyl that really helped their fortunes, as they toured with AC/DC and Black Sabbath as a consequence - a move that encouraged them to adopt a more forceful sound and a way better moniker, Quartz. Of course this direct connection renders the Bandylegs singles to be of considerable interest for NWOBHM obsessive completists, but don't go for it thinking you will get anything resembling their 1980's output. "Bet You Can't Dance" is a boogie/rock with (somewhat silly) piano accompaniment and a super-catchy chorus (at least I think they wanted it to be catchy, you know). The guitar work is passable, but there's nothing really good to write about this unspectacular track, a typical desperately-want-to-find-a-hit-single singalong tune like countless hopefuls wrote in droves back in the day. "Circles" is a considerable improvement, a way more forceful rock tune with some nice twin-guitar work in places. This is a song that could have been included in Quartz' repertoire without being too out of place at all, so I'm sure die-hard fans of the group (hey, I know you're still out there) will be willing to buy this 7'' for the sake of this track alone. But it's too early to be a proper NWOBHM release in its own right, and those with only a marginal interest in Quartz are well advised to go for the more usual material of the lads (specially the "Stand Up and Fight" LP) as it's sure more worth your cash.

DORIS (UK) - Sitting Here Waiting (7'', ABCD Records, 1981) ***
Seemingly based somewhere in the outskirts of London, this five-piece have been in the wants lists for a while, with their 7'' single from 1981 being regarded (and shopped around) by some as a sort of NWOBHM long-forgotten classic. Not the case really, but it's actually a very obscure act that made the rounds for two or three years at most, so if fits well enough into the basic criteria to justify a few comments. A double A-side released by ABCD Records (a self-financed affair, by the looks of things), it starts with "Sitting Here Waiting", a semi-ballad carried along by the piano, with the other instruments offering not much more than a discreet background (apart from the emotional guitar solo, that is). It has something of a Queen feel to it I guess, as it reminds me some ballads of their "The Game" period, though surely not achieving quite the same levels of finesse. It's very close to the 1960's pop rock revival many British bands were attempting at the time, though it's still reasonably rooted to rock music and not veering into new romantic territory. Not bad, but surely no metal at all. "Living Danger", on the other hand, starts a lot like the more contemplative moments of the Roger Waters-era Pink Floyd: though surely not a case of unashamed pilfering (Queensrÿche got way closer of copyright infringement with "Silent Lucidity", you know), its first half reminds me strongly of "Comfortably Numb" and, to a lesser extent, "Wish You Were Here". Suddenly, things change completely, and the instrumental section brings some prominent synths to the table, building a crescendo that explodes into a (pretty good) guitar solo. Now that's a good enough song with a much stronger potential when it comes to pleasing headbangers, though it's not NWOBHM at all: we're into progressive rock waters (no pun intended) here, so any collectors must be aware only broad-minded listeners will be able to fully appreciate it. The lads (now naming themselves A Band Called Doris, for reasons best known by themselves) would go as far as releasing a full-length LP the following year ("Gypsy Lady"), but I didn't give it a listen just yet, so I won't be able to enlighten you good people into what's it all about, although some reviews tend to label it as a prog rock effort as well. I'll let you know when it happens. Incidentally, the catalog numbers of the band's known releases (ABCD-1 and ABCD-3) are strong indication that there may be something else out there, perhaps a promo-only release or a test pressing that never made it into wider circulation, who knows? Whatever the story, Doris is a borderline act at best (though a pretty decent one, I might add), so proceed with caution if all you want is tr00 metal and nothing else, as it will cost a fair amount of money (half a month's salary, in the case of the very scarce LP) to add the group to your collection.

BUCKSHEE (UK) - Soap (7'', Squid Marks Time, 1981) ***
This sole 7'' by Buckshee (a band from somewhere in Suffolk, I'd wager) is receiving a bit of belated interest in recent years, as it was released by Squid Marks Time, the same label that edited the very seldom seen "So You Think We're All Farmers..." LP in 1981, a local-band compilation that includes a handful of NWOBHM acts (I'm trying to get this one, so if you happen to have it, please let me know). Actually, one of the songs featured on the band's single ("Soap") also made an appearance on the aforementioned sample, adding to the curiosity around the mysterious combo. But if you're reading this up to this point, I guess it won't come as much of a surprise to be informed that Buckshee isn't a NWOBHM band at all: it's post-punk / power pop music with female vocals, with not a single metallic riff or chorus to be found. "Soap" is the most interesting song on display, being actually pretty good on what it tries to achieve: the song structure is very inventive, the playful, catchy vocal lines are fairly engaging, and the keyboard accompaniment is discreet and doesn't spoil the fun at all. It would actually be a good cover choice for many punk/HC bands of today, so take note if you happen to be involved with one such outfit! "Strangled Love" is more typical punk rock (no keyboards to be found), pretty much recycling the same guitar pattern from the previous track and with a more rudimentary, let's-sing-the-name-of-the-track-along-and-not-much-else approach that doesn't work very well when compared to the way more accomplished A-side. I'm afraid this minor piece of exposure was the sole claim to fame for the group, and I think it's a bit of a shame, as "Soap" shows some genuine promise that just needed a more widespread distribution to flourish into something else. There was also a certain Bukkshee doing the rounds in the UK roughly at the same time, and getting as far as to release two (both undated) 7'' singles, but it was an all-male 5-piece with definitely glam looks, so I suspect it's a entirely unrelated ensemble (if you have any info on that, by the way, I kindly invite you to drop us a line).

STRAY (UK) - This One's For You (EP, Ratsy, 1981) ***
To close this first installment of the series, a release that sure does sound like NWOBHM, but can't be taken as such without making considerable concessions. I mean, "This One's For You", the main focus of attention on this 7'' EP, presents all the requirements to make a NWOBHM addict happy: the twin-guitar riffing, the simple-but-very-effective song structure, the catchy melodies, the high-pitched vocals, the tight (even if not very inventive) rhythm section... It's all there really. But Stray were doing the rounds for nearly 15 years, their first LP dating from as early as 1970. The classic rock combo originally disbanded around 1977, and this particular slice of vinyl came out in 1981, when some of the original members were trying to rekindle the group's fire with the sparks of NWOBHM. Some thought for a while that this 7'', given its considerable scarcity and different-looking logo on the label, was most probably recorded by another Stray, blissfully unaware of their long-running namesakes - not to mention some catalogues listing the band as Ratsy, perhaps using the label as an excuse to pass it out as an impossibly rare item from a mysterious bunch of musicians... But reports of copies being bought by fans during a tour the revived Londoners made with Saga in 1981 finally disproved this theory, establishing the truth of the matter once and for all. Treating this EP as a bona fide NWOBHM release is, therefore, as inadequate as citing, say, Budgie's "Power Supply" or Atomic Rooster 1980's eponymous album as NWOBHM collectables. Not that you shouldn't buy any of these if you feel like doing it, of course. Despite being a strong track (way more forceful than the rather redundant, only mildly interesting "Need Your Love" and "Wide-Eyed Girl" B-sides), "This One's For You" wasn't enough to help the band's fortunes in the long run, and Stray faded out of the public eye once again in a matter of months - although guitarist Del Bromham, helped by a myriad of different musicians, kept using the Stray name on a series of sporadic live outings through the years, with gigs being booked in as late as 2016.

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

quarta-feira, 7 de março de 2018

Colours of the Bastard Art! (Compilation, UK, Lost Moment, 1984?)


When NWOBHM aficionados started to look for local-band compilations in order to unearth some seriously obscure metal (a phenomenon that didn't really take over until at least the late 1990's), every purchase would be pretty much a step in the dark, as no one really knew what was out there. Some LPs have a fair proportion of heavy metal hopefuls, while others, well, simply don't. The bizarrely-titled "Colours of the Bastard Art!" is one of those who doesn't offer much, though it became slightly more well-regarded among collectors in recent years. Assembled by Lost Moment as an "alternative collection" to showcase bands already signed with the label, this slice of vinyl is not explicitly dated, but it's reasonable to assume it came out in late 1984 or sometime the following year, judging by the parallel chronologies of many acts who contributed to this sample. Most of the tracks here featured are far removed from the usual NWOBHM ethos, so there's not much reason to delve into an exhaustive analysis of the album's contents, though I still think it's worth dropping a few lines about it for history's sake.

If all you're looking for are the heavier acts and you couldn't care less about the rest of the pack, I'd suggest you to go straight to Orion's "Storm", as it's (sorry to say, but it's true) the only band truly worthy of the NWOBHM tag. It's a very different take from what appeared (supposedly) earlier on their "Insane in Another World" 7'' single from 1984, with a less grandiose, more down-to-earth production and mix, not to mention a much more punchy (and interesting) vibe. Labeling Orion's music as total Queen worship is one of the most facile descriptions I'll ever write in my life, but it's inescapable nonetheless, as the feeling of being listening to a "Flash Gordon" leftover track (as Malc McMillan already pointed out in his NWOBHM encyclopedia) is too strong to be ignored. They somehow even managed to make all guitar histrionics sound very similar to Brian May himself, which comes to show just how committed they were to the cause. It's all very upbeat and catchy anyway, and it's always heartwarming to hear such a young ensemble making serious efforts to write sophisticated heavy music, so I guess most NWOBHM fans are likely to enjoy listening to this one.

Though the percentage of bona fide British metal is nearly nonexistent around here, it's not like all other tracks included should be mercilessly scratched with a pen knife or something. Sugar Glyders is perhaps the second best of the lot, with their "Jericho" contribution being a reasonably adventurous piece of songwriting with pretty decent vocals and a nice chorus to match. They were surely an act with originality in mind, and this particular track reminds me of Charlie 'Ungry a little (most of all their "Preacher" tune), which is decent enough praise in my book. Not very heavy (even a bit lightweight actually, most of all in the guitar department), but still a dynamic, charming song that may be of interest for broad-minded hard/heavy enthusiasts.

Silent Rage's "Psychiatrist", on the other hand, captures the listener's attention by conjuring a peculiarly disturbing feel through most of the track, thanks to a tension-building use of keyboards and considerably busy (not to say borderline metallic) guitar work. It's new wave/post punk in all its glory, readers take note, but it's also a pretty decent attempt to write a song about mental disturbance, so I reckon it deserves at least a modicum of attention. The Shout! is also passable, I guess, with their "I'll Be Your Hero" number being a considerably catchy and pretty straightforward punk rock that doesn't overstay its welcome, which is already a thing to appreciate if you ask me. Nothing you haven't heard countless times before, that's for sure (they even employ the obligatory fake Cockney accents, you see), but still OK. Our final entry for the not-truly-memorable-but-also-not-that-bad file, Mex brings "Don't Go Looking For Love" to the tracklist, featuring some hard-rocking guitars and a sleazy chorus that reminds me of none other than Silverwing - an unexpected state of affairs when you consider their underground cult status as post-punk/art rock pioneers. An odd one for sure, but worth a listen.

Despite its minor moments of interest, most of "Colours of the Bastard Art!" is far from impressive to be honest, with Nerve X (unspectacular new wave with quirky horn arrangements and slightly reminiscent of the most oddball moments of The Clash), Johnny Seven (pop rock with female vocals and feather-weight guitar work), Skin Side Out (new wave with B-52's-style vocal melodies and a bizarre - and not very functional - song structure), The Red (alternative rock with very little to write home about, sorry about that), Wandering Souls (ditto, but at least they tried to liven things up with an ill-fated, percussion-lead interlude) and Pleasure in Pink (generic pop/rock with tons of female vocal harmonies and a strong cabaret feel) all lacking enough distinctive features to stand out in the crowd. Similarly, Sleeping Pictures tries their luck with a atmospheric new wave/indie rock in "Hit the Deck", a song filled to the brim with very VERY prominent keyboards that are just a little too pretentious for its own good. To round things off, Jesus Couldn't Drum (what an awful band name) was supposedly regarded as the brightest hope in Lost Moment's roster at the time, being the only act allowed to contribute with two tracks. The semi-acoustic indie rock in "Growl Growl" is mostly passable, but "Apple Pie for Tea" is complete shambles, a bizarre sort of jokey number that is easily the worst track on the entire LP.

As above stated, most acts on this compilation had already released (or were about to release) individual items via Lost Moment, some with ongoing careers started many years previously, so it wasn't really a case of putting promising unsigned acts together in the first place. Nevertheless, it's worth pointing out that nearly all participants disappeared from the scene in a matter of two years or less, with some combos (such as the unlucky Orion) biting the dust just a few months after the album hit the shelves. As far as I'm aware, only Mex really lasted the distance, acting mostly as a (very obscure) studio project and unleashing some original numbers in as late as 2014. Jesus Couldn't Drum had a best-of CD out in the early 2000's, but kept quiet ever since, and I'm afraid that's pretty much it when it comes to (ahem) successful stories. "Colours of the Bastard Art!" is not as impossibly rare as other artifacts from the era, with a reasonable number of units known to have survived the years, but still I think that only the most unwavering NWOBHM collectors will really want to have it, no matter how relatively simple it is to locate a copy.

01. SILENT RAGE - Psychiatrist
02. JOHNNY SEVEN - Danger Money
03. NERVE X - The Caller
04. JESUS COULDN'T DRUM - Growl Growl
05. PLEASURE IN PINK - Dead Dolphins
06. ORION - Storm
07. THE SHOUT! - I'll Be Your Hero
08. SLEEPING PICTURES - Hit the Deck
09. THE RED - Call it Art
11. SKIN SIDE OUT - Swallow Me Up
12. SUGAR GLYDERS - Jericho
13. MEX - Don't Go Looking for Love
14. JESUS COULDN'T DRUM - Apple Pie for Tea

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

terça-feira, 6 de março de 2018

Once Bitten (Compilation, UK, Red Door, 1984?)


Not much to share as an insight when it comes to this "Once Bitten" release by Red Door Records (whoever they were), as the available copies present a distinct paucity on information regarding bands, recording dates or anything else. The year of release is not explicitly stated anywhere, but there's a detail on the plain white paper sleeve of some copies that reads "Made in England R.S. 1-84", so it's fair to assume it was at least pressed on 1984. Besides, some bands (most of all Trem) are known to have recorded and/or released stuff in 1983, so this particular compilation was probably out very early in 1984, assembled from recordings made on the second half of the previous year. Whatever the story behind this album lies (and if you happen to know anything, please kindly get in touch, as I would really like to know more), it was only one of countless local-band compilations that were very common in Britain during most of the 1980s, with a clear focus on indie rock/new wave hopefuls, but also giving some exposure to synthpop and downright pop acts. Fortunately, there's also a couple (slightly) heavier bands on display, so I guess the exercise of reviewing this one will be of some interest to NWOBHM collectors at least.

Let's start with the not-remotely-interesting-for-headbangers bands and move from there, shall we? Arc Connexion's "Bata Bata" is something of a ska/funk collision, or at least that's how it sounds to my ears - I'm no scholar in such music genres though, so I can easily be wrong on this. Not a good song anyway, and hardly recommended for rock fans of any kind. Ron Gandertons Conception's "Good News For Lovers" is also completely disposable if you're a rock fan, as it's an ultrapop number with infinite keyboard layers, a mini-moog, a saxophone and even some sweet female voices to make things even more saccharine. I wouldn't say it's hopelessly bad (maybe it could be re-recorded by Outkast or whoever is doing this kind of stuff nowadays and become a award-winning single, who knows?), but it's not my cup of tea really. This enterprising lad would contribute another song to the proceedings, "Dancing with My Shadow" (now as Ron Warren Ganderton), and it's a ballad with dreadful singing and strident backing vocals that will hardly do the listener any favors. Similarly, The Young Revelation brings some swinging pop rock in with "Emily", and I think that some acceptable guitar histrionics towards the end are not enough to make it remotely interesting for anyone but the least demanding Rod Stewart fans. And don't get me started on Flexi-J and their "So Fine" contribution, as I would have a field day listing all the things I don't like about this pop/rockabilly attempt and I don't want to be rude and/or unfair.

Many disposable horn arrangements are to come your way as you progress through the LP, and Life of Leisure's "Working Up a Sweat" is filled to the brim with it. It's one of the few songs with separate drums and percussion where you can actually listen to both (and they're actually doing different things, which is an achievement I guess), and the bass player is a truly gifted chap. But I'm afraid these good, promising musicians were working with a average-at-best composition, a hindrance that rendered their collective efforts kinda hopeless from the start. On the other hand, Kookoo Bazooka really should have given themselves more time to pick a better name for their band, and the slightly folky indie rock of "Tomorrows Just Another Day" is passable, but not much else. There's also Dimitrios (promising band name, but don't get too excited) and their ramshackle "Rain at First", a song that is truly confusing and lasts for less than two and a half minutes without ever threatening to make sense. Surprisingly, Blind Tenant's "In the Earth" reminds me of none other than Sonic Youth, to an extent it could had been released as a demo by a grunge outfit from the early 1990s and no one would know the difference. It's an OK tune, but a bit too faceless to leave any lasting impression, and I must say that the throwaway take-the-name-of-the-song-and-sing-it-over-and-over-again crescendo towards the end is downright annoying. Give it a try if you like garage rock, though.

There's also some tunes that, despite not holding enough heaviness to justify the NWOBHM tag, have some redeeming features that surely warrant a respectful replay. Street Aliens' "Intrigue Hell" starts deceptively, with some distorted guitar chords in a near-epic feel. But soon it takes a detour straight to new wave territory, although it actually reminds me a bit of The Clash in both song structure and vocal performance. Not bad really, though surely no metallic assault at all. "No Happy Ending" by Dance on Dance is a somewhat pensive New Wave effort with interesting bass lines and an unusual, atmospheric chorus. The singer shows some promise, and it will be a shame if he didn't manage to go further in the business. No horns will ever be raised while listening to this song of course, but it's good enough music nonetheless, and it may appeal to more broad-minded listeners.

Tier Garden surely loved keyboards, considering that their "Games in the Tier Garden" effort is coated with countless layers of it. Of course, what we got here is pretty standard new wave/post punk/indie rock stuff, but these guys did a good job when it comes to songwriting, with a nice (and not remotely obvious) chorus and a pretty engaging instrumental section halfway through. They sure overdid it when it comes to arrangements, but it's all pretty straightforward rock music when you take the excesses out of it. There's also "My Robotic Friend" by Trem, a synthwave band that seemed to have been true devotees to Devo's musical vision. If such description reads unpleasant to you, then you're well advised to steer clear of it - but I know for a fact that a few long-haired headbangers actually enjoy Devo way more than they like to admit (I honestly can't see any reason to feel embarrassed, but never mind), and I guess this simple-but-catchy tune may become a guilty pleasure to some of them.

And now to the stuff you metalheads will most probably enjoy listening to on "Once Bitten", considering any of you will actually bother to locate a copy. It's only two songs out of fifteen, I know, but there you go. Mother Russia's "No Ones Girl" is a forceful enough tune, featuring a handful of elements well linked to the heavy metal imaginarium, such as twin-guitar riffing and some dramatic (and well crafted) solos. But look closer and you'll find out it's more of a crossover effort, with an undeniable new wave feel to it - although the chorus is something of a giveaway to the band's punk rock allegiances too, that must be stated. I like it actually, as the lads were surely trying to create their own brand of music rather than just emulating their idols. Maybe they could have deliver something really special in later years, if only given a modicum of encouragement. But the strongest point of interest here is Harliquin, with "Jealous Eyes" presenting some truly interesting riffing in places. There's actually quite a lot going on in the guitar department even before the voice starts, all reasonably heavy and with mostly good results. It's an upbeat and enthusiastic hard/heavy composition, even with a slightly glam-rocking feel in places and adding extra points to their cause with a genuinely catchy chorus. "Jealous Eyes" is not only the most metallic song here, but also one of the very best regardless of music styles, sure to strike the right chord with most NWOBHM fanatics.

Unfortunately, "Once Bitten" didn't exactly propel the bands involved to worldwide stardom, and most groups here featured uneventfully disappeared into oblivion in later years. Trem released a solitary, self-financed single in 1983, based around the same "My Robotic Friend" (c/w "Colour Vision"). Ron Warren Ganderton and his cohorts were doing the rounds for a number of years before this compilation was out, with a few slices of vinyl to their credit, but didn't seem to last the distance after this particular sample was out, as I couldn't find reference to any further releases. Curiously, there seems to have been a connection between Ganderton and members of bands as disparate as Quasar and The Pretenders (don't know if any of them took part on this one, though), so there's surely a bit of a mileage for those obsessed with the indie scene (not that any of them are reading this, of course). Tier Garden (a band I actually happen to enjoy, readers take note), apart from seemingly having released a single as Sits. Vacant in 1981, managed to release no less than three singles in the Cogent label, and some of the once-members still have a role in the music business to this day, so I think it ranks as a reasonably successful story.

Apart from that, though, "Once Bitten" is a collection of good intentions that mostly never came to fruition, and I suppose nearly all musicians involved returned to their day jobs soon afterwards, never taking part on any other recording acts of note. There's not much to really set pulses racing when it comes to NWOBHM, but nearly half of the songs are perfectly listenable, and I guess it's one worth picking up if you happen to find it in your local fare's bargain bin or something.

01. ARC CONNEXION - Bata Bata (African Shoes)
02. HARLIQUIN - Jealous Eyes
03. DANCE ON DANCE - No Happy Ending
04. MOTHER RUSSIA - No Ones Girl
05. STREET ALIENS - Intrigue Hell
06. RON GANDERTONS CONCEPTION - Good News for Lovers
07. TREM - My Robotic Friend
08. LIFE OF LEISURE - Working Up a Sweat
09. TIER GARDEN - Games in the Tier Garden
10. BLIND TENANT - In the Earth
11. KOOKOO BAZOOKA - Tomorrows Just Another Day
13. RON WARREN GANDERTON - Dancing with My Shadow
14. FLEXI-J - (She's) So Fine
15. DIMITRIOS - Rain at First

Many thanks to Discogs for picture sleeve scans!

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!

segunda-feira, 5 de março de 2018

The Bridge Album (Compilation, UK, Bridge Records, 1982)


The local-band compilation phenomenon was quite prolific in the UK for most of the 1980's, being a seemingly inexhaustible source of amusing (and often bewildering) finds for the most go-ahead NWOBHM collectors. There's literally hundreds of such releases out there, many of those known to exist in terms of only two or three examples, and I'm convinced there are still a few currently-unknown curios just waiting to be found, hopefully including one or two long-forgotten metal ensembles we'll all love to learn about. Granted, "The Bridge Album" is not even close of being a recent discovery (it appears on collector's wants lists at least since the mid 1990s), but I still think it represents quite well such scenario, as it compiles bands from the most disparate musical styles, connected only by the use of the same rehearsal facilities - the Bridge Studios in Uxbridge, west London, that is. Released sometime in 1982, it just happens to have a fair percentage of hard/heavy acts on display (maybe the long-haired metal novices from the area just liked the studio sound more than hopefuls trying their luck with other genres, who knows), and that's precisely what makes it such a coveted item for British metal completists.

Though not an all-and-out metal track, Rough Cut's "Gunship" is a very acceptable collision between hard/heavy music and more standard rock 'n' roll, with simple-but-effective instrumentation and a truly commendable, punk-tinged vocal performance. Something like a metallic Rolling Stones, perhaps? Yeah, I know, it sounds downright absurd, but that's exactly what occurred to me when I first listened to this track. Maybe a slightly more hard rocking Cock Sparrer ("Running Blind in '84" era) or even The Shattered Dreams (if you ever heard their "Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained" effort, that is) would be more accurate comparisons, but it's still not quite there yet. Oh well, it's a cool, upbeat track all the same, opening proceedings quite nicely and easily one of the most interesting contributions throughout. It's a shame they never released anything else, at least to my knowledge, and I'd love to find more. If you good reader ever had anything to do with this long-forgotten combo, please drop us a line, will you?

Next comes Stella Rebella's "School Life", a new wave number with slightly forceful transitions in places, but with a weak chorus (and embarrassing lyrics about, well, how school sucks and all that) and a too-quirky-for-its-own-good song structure that doesn't work that well if you ask me. The female singer shows some promise, but I reckon they needed more time to mature before venturing any further. Nothing too exciting for headbangers anyway. Fortunately, Heretic's "In Time" brings a more solid musicianship to the table, not to mention a way more metal-friendly approach and sound. This atmospheric, melancholic number is a slow-building semi-ballad with many keyboard layers, that gets more intense as the song progresses and explodes into a emotional guitar showdown towards the end. Nothing to set the world ablaze, that's for sure, but easily one of the most accomplished compositions in the band's entire repertoire.

Switchback delivers some more new wave with "How You Made Me Cry", but we're closer to 1960's pop rock territory this time around. It's a pretty decent tune that fulfill most of its promises, and the quiet moment during the instrumental section is actually pretty cool, but the let's-repeat-the-name-of-the-song-ad-nauseam chorus is somewhat annoying, I'm afraid. Those who happen to enjoy some lightweight, semi-rocking tunes from time to time may want to give this one a try, though. And North Star doesn't let the ball drop with "It's Only Money", a mid-paced number that stars quite ominous, but soon shifts direction towards more hard-rocking territories. Another ultra-predictable songtitle-turned-into-chorus leaves a bit to be desired, but it's not that much a trouble this time around, as the guitar work is very effective and really carries the song along. If a slightly less metallic "Crazy Nights"-era Tygers of Pan Tang (or, say, a slightly more metallic UFO) is your cup of tea, then this track will surely do the trick.

Things weren't going that bad at all up to this point, but I'm afraid Mint's contribution ("Underworld") will be of little to no interest for most (if not all) rock audiences. Perhaps inspired by The Clash and their flirtations with reggae and ska, the lads open side two with a rasta attempt that is probably passable for those who can't get enough of "Sandinista!", but will hardly set pulses racing on anyone else. I don't want to be too harsh on them really, as we're nowhere near a disaster scenario here, it's only that I don't have enough knowledge about their style of choice to contribute with more meaningful observations. But fear not, as next comes Tempest Ride and their "Another Time, Another Place" effort, easily the best (and most NWOBHM-ish) track here featured. Actually, it's sure a NWOBHM classic, period. Recorded before they changed name to Lyadrive, but released only after such transformation, this catchy number has it all really: busy guitar work, nice melodies, astute tempo changes (most of all during the instrumental section), confident songwriting, charming vocals and a simple, yet truly memorable chorus. Sterling stuff, and soon they would gift the world some similarly high-calibre tunes under their new guise. If you're a NWOBHM collector with money on your wallet, this compilation is worth buying in merit of this track alone. Yeah, I mean it.

Unfortunately, The Jon Band's "Dressed in Cream" is nowhere near the high standard of the preceding number, being a pop-oriented new wave ditty with near-boogie guitar work and another unimaginative, sing-the-name-of-the-song-and-that's-it chorus. It may be a find of marginal interest for those who collect indie music from the early 1980's (if there are any), but hard/heavy music devotees are unlikely to want to hear it more than once. The following contribution comes from Cherry Armadillo (what a bad name choice, lads, seriously) and their bizarre "Cocaine Cocktail" number. A ever-present bassline and quirky, atmospheric guitar effects provide the backbone for the song, while a declamatory voice mutter some beatnik lyrics that barely make any sense at all. It goes on for a few minutes, then a slightly more lively drum pattern leads the song for an abrupt, seemingly improvised ending. I'm not entirely sure what they had in mind when writing this one, so I'll refrain from any serious criticism - but the fact that this is their only known vinyl appearance is hardly surprising, as I can't imagine many record labels beating a path to their door after listening to such an oddball.

To round things off, the prog-rock oriented Takeaway brings the epic "Reflections", a semi-ballad that lasts for over eight minutes, but still manages to capture the listener's attention from start to finish. Don't go for it expecting stunning displays of technical proficiency or mind-blogging tempo changes: it's all about reiteration, striving to obtain emotional connection rather than provoking some adrenalin flow. The use of female vocals to counterpart the more prominent male singing is a charming idea, and adds nicely to the contemplative nature of the song. I'm sure some would prefer a more upbeat, rough-and-ready tune to close such a compilation, but I tend to think this pensive ending works quite well in the context, and keeps you thinking about what you just heard long after the needle runs upon the last groove.

As with most local-band compilations of the period, "The Bridge Album" had little effect on propelling its participants' careers. Bridge Records would retain two of the bands here featured, with both Tempest Ride (christened as Lyadrive) and North Star releasing 7'' singles for the label. These hopefuls didn't manage to last the distance after their exclusive slices of vinyl were pressed, though Lyadrive (one of the first obscure NWOBHM bands to really achieve cult status) revived their career in the second half of the 1990's. Heretic released the (rather inconsistent) "Burnt at the Stake" EP by Thunderbolt in 1984, but it was also a case of long hibernation before the belated adulation prompted them into a comeback that is still going on to this day. Otherwise, the initial piece of exposure also turned out to be the last, and none of the other acts on display got any further in the business, as far as I know - which is a shame in the cases of Rough Cut and Takeaway, at least. The latter, incidentally, claims in the liner notes to "have several record companies showing strong interest", which never came to any level of fruition, I'm afraid.

Despite a paucity on successful stories, "The Bridge Album" is an accomplished record when it comes to musical merits, being way more enjoyable than most similar records of the era, so kudos to those responsible for quality control. Few copies are known to have survived, and, unless an unsuspecting home clearance unearth some unplayed copies hidden in someone's garage, you'll have to be lucky (and wealthy) to ever add one of those to your collection. Oh well, I guess the vinyl rips available via p2p will have to do for the time being.

01. ROUGH CUT - Gunship
02. STELLA REBELLA - School Life
03. HERETIC - In Time
04. SWITCHBACK - How You Made Me Cry
05. NORTH STAR - It's Only Money
06. MINT - Underworld
07. TEMPEST RIDE - Another Time, Another Place
08. THE JON BAND - Dressed in Cream
09. CHERRY ARMADILLO - Cocaine Cocktail
10. TAKEAWAY - Reflections

Special thanks to The Corroseum for picture sleeve scans!

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me (drequon@gmail.com) and let me know!