Out of the ashes of Free came Bad Company. Free had done well but in-fighting and the usual substance abuse issues that plagued most bands of this era caused Paul Rogers and Simon Kirke to walk away and from Bad Company in 1973. If ever a band had an excellent pedigree Bad Co was it, two ex members of Free, and ex Mott The Hoople guitarist and a bass guitarist who cut his teeth in King Crimson. This ‘super group’ was them signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swansong label and managed by the legendary Peter Grant. I first heard Bad Co in a dormitory called ”3- Up” at Potchefstroom High School for Boys back in 1979. You can read about Potch in The Story of Rock and Roll but in short for a 12 year old ‘new boy’ who’s job as a skivvy was to clean his matrics shoes, make his bed and tidy his locker these tasks were just an menial backdrop to what was really happening in my head while I did my chores in 3-Up every morning and evening. The 3 matrics who inhabited the dorm had a good collection of what would now be called 70’s Classic Rock and one of these albums was Straight Shooter by Bad Company . I was so impressed with this album that the owner even allowed me to hold the album cover and soak up the magnificent Hipgnosis artwork. The two tumbling dice were imprinted on my mind and until the next big thing came along they would play that album every day. It is one of the best examples of Classic rock you can ever hear.
‘I was thinking that Priest were as heavy as it got and that Kiss were up there right alongside of them. That is when Schnoz put on If You Want Blood, You Got It. The opening chords of ‘Riff Raff’ crashed out of the expensive ghetto blaster’s twin speakers and I knew right then and there that AC/DC were the heaviest band in the world. My fuck, what a sound!”. The Story of Rock and Roll – James Daubeney
I was late into Hendrix as is hilariously detailed in The Story of Rock and Roll. I didn’t even know who he was in 1979. Once I found out I never looked back, to this day he is probably the most influential guitarist in the world. Gone far, far too early, RIP James Marshall Hendrix
I discovered Santana after a particularly hair raising uitkak from a matric while I was a new boy at Potch Boys High. The hilarious detail can be found in Chapter 2 of The Story of Rock and Roll. This song was one that got played over and over on the school bus to and from various rugby matches we played against schools in Jo’burg.
The Stranglers were my favourite band for about 3 years and they took me down the Punk Rock path opening doors to the Pistols and the Clash. All the detail can be found in The Story of Rock and Roll and you will read why they were so special to music in general, and me specifically. The Stranglers had a reputation for violence and intimidating reporters. They were not a band to be fucked with. In contrast to some of the Punk bands that appeared in 1977 the Stranglers were fantastic musicians and once again I realised that arranging is key to good song writing. The short bursts of bass, then guitar, then keyboards on tracks like ‘London Lady’ add so much to their music. JJ Burnell still has the best bass sound I have ever heard.
Bat Out of Hell is a rock classic, it was just one of those special unique albums that artists occasionally pull out of themselves. It was unlike anything else at the time or since.
Led Zeppelin are one of the most influential bands the world has ever seen. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant set the standard by which future guitar heroes and frontmen respectively would be measured. I loved the first 3 Led Zep albums, they are simply brilliant. I personally am not a big fan of 12 minute guitar or drum solo’s so I found some of the live stuff a bit tedious but nothing takes away from the power and majesty of Led Zep I or II at high volume.
Slade are highly underrated in my opinion, in their day they were seriously heavy when compared to most of the stuff on Top of the Pops. Noddy Holders’ rough vocals were totally out of the normal and got me preferring guys like Bon Scott and James Burns who really belted it out to some of the more melodic vocalists around.
The Story of Rock and Roll details how important Rainbow was to me because of my friend Roger’s love for the band. The fact was that for the first time I had someone who could really explain to me what was actually going on musically. The first band that I first understood this way was Rainbow.
We used to listen to ‘Ballroom Blitz’, ‘Little Willy’ and ‘Wig Wam Bam’ when we kids on the MFP Sprinbok hits compilation albums. These albums were made by SA session musicians and our folks used to buy them and play them at parties when we were kids. Although the songs were well played they were mixed in with all the hits of the day by bands like ABBA *vomit*. I only heard The Sweet when I got to high school and the real stuff was nothing like the shit served up on Springbok Hits.
Peter Frampton got huge thanks to Frampton Comes Alive. The album was everywhere and Frampton became famous for making his guitar talk. I don’t think Frampton will ever be able to disassociate himself from the Talk box, he is almost synonymous with it. When the album was released we used to listen to it all the time, rewinding the talking guitar bits over and over again, it was just very cool at the time.
So much has been written and said about Sabbath, sometimes you gotta just shut the fuck up and listen to it again.
Hard drinking Irish guitar virtuoso, Rory Gallagher really just wanted to play his guitar. He didn’t have time for stardom or all the rock star trivialities. In my opinion his best stuff is on his live albums, he just seems to do the most amazing guitar work in his live sets.
Mott the Hoople
There are some bands that just never seem to ‘make it’ but then 10 years on all the bands that are really doing well credit that band with being one of their biggest influences. Bands like Diamond Head, The New York Dolls, The Misfits, MC5, Iggy and the Stooges and this band, Mott the Hoople. Ian Hunter is one of the most charismatic front men ever. There is just something about him, his voice and his whole style, Mott should have been bigger than they were at the time.
For many years I considered Jethro Tull’s Bursting Out Live to be the best live album I had ever heard. Tull took musicianship and witty live banter to new levels of excellence and that album made me buy Aqualung which in its day was considered a heavy metal album. Aqualung to this day is one of the finest albums ever made.
Judas Priest are legends, in my view no-one put metal on the map the way Priest did and they kept it alive during the lean years. With all that disco crap going on in the 70’s you could rely on Judas Priest to keep delivering album after album of blistering metal. When British Steel was released it changed the way things were done by metal bands. It was a monstrously good album and quickly scooped up new fans who had never heard of the band. As with happened Metallica die hard pioneers like myself selfishly felt bitter sweet about a band we loved suddenly being on the radio and having to deal with arseholes talking about this ‘new band’. The funny thing is they never sold out: the world just caught up and took a giant leap forward in terms of musical taste. All Hail the Priest \m/