It’s a sign of a genuine connoisseur to admit that Deke Leonard, who shot to fame as a member of legendary Welsh ensemble MAN – although there were ICEBERG and more endeavors such as stint with HELP YOURSELF – is one of the greatest rock guitarists. Not a mere musician, he’s also a storyteller, who has just published a third book on his adventures, “Maximum Darkness: Man On The Road To Nowhere,” which follows two other tomes: “Maybe I Should’ve Stayed In Bed” and “Rhinos, Winos & Lunatics.”
Out now, it finds Deke in 1977 and takes him to 2004, when Leonard left the fold for ever, depicting encounters with Alvin Lee, who was his guitar student, WISHBONE ASH, his sword-wielding partners, and Eric Burdon, who was eager to be taught the stagecraft from the MAN man, as well as with Phil Lynott and Tina Turner among others. A great way to celebrate the veteran’s 70th birthday – or anyone’s for that matter, as the book is fun.
Yesterday there was the news on two archive recordings by RENAISSANCE being released soon. One of the these features WISHBONE ASH mainstay Andy Powell. DME asked Andy about that, and that’s what the guitarist has to say:
“RENAISSANCE were a band that we worked with a lot on the road both in Europe and America. We shared the same management. The session I played was for the appropriately named “Ashes Are Burning.” The band had the idea of adding me playing a guitar solo at the end of the piece and it was just the perfect vehicle for my guitar style – a big rock ballad with Annie [Haslam]‘s voice to the fore. I’m thinking we were in DeLane Studios in Wembley where WISHBONE had done a lot of work. The session went very quickly – just one or two takes, if my memory serves me well, and very enjoyable it was too.”
During their first run, RENAISSANCE released only one concert album, 1976’s “Live at Carnegie Hall,” and though some more have been out since the late ’90s, none of those documented the band’s earlier period. This niche couldn’t stay unfilled, so collectors’ interest to bootleg recordings thrived. But now two of the most popular tapes of the kind are given an official release. First, coming from London, is “DeLane Lea Studios 1973″: scheduled for February 3rd, it features, alongside the ensemble, two guests, pre-“Year Of The Cat” Al Stewart and WISHBONE ASH’s Andy Powell, who also played on a studio version of “Ashes Are Burning.” The second, “Academy of Music 1974,” that will hit the shelves on March 31st, was laid down in New York on May 17th of the titular year. Unique documents, and the quality is rather good. (Read Powell’s comment on the session.)
A fantastic artist who was successful in crossing over from apocalyptic psych-prog of APHRODITE’S CHILD, where he sang and played bass, Demis Roussos found fame delivering, in an instantly recognizable vibrato, such memorable songs as “Forever And Ever” and “From Souvenirs To Souvenirs.” That’s what made the Greek warbler dear to many a home around the world, including Soviet bloc, without alienating his art-rock following who were hoping for a someday new collaboration between Roussos and Vangelis. That’s not to be now. Goodbye, Demis.