Angel Air 2014
Of STRAY and STRIFE: obscure British supergroup’s lost album makes a long-overdue debut.
Their paths first crossed in 1967 but it would take guitarist Del Bromham and bassist Gordon Rowley 20 years to get together, after their respective ’70s bands whose name started with “STR” had broken up, and the latter invited the former to join his NIGHTWING. Not one to play second fiddle, Del passed yet, thanks to his newly forged friendship with Gordon’s group’s drummer Steve Bartley, RAZORBACK came to be… or not to be. The power trio’s only LP was archived because Rowley’s illness prevented him from touring, and they lost both momentum and a name. Cue BRB, and the release of the record that has ’80s all over its riffs, with enough charm to keep it afloat on a slightly muddy production.
“Give ’em Enough Rope” puts another slant to it, though, layering punky spikes onto the heavy metal thunder and keyboards veneer, as if to contrast such a roar with the pop balladry of “Here I Go Again” where Bromham’s bluesy ax goes into a harmonic sparkle, before rocking boisterously with slide on “Mercenary Man” and “Angel Love” which is finely glittered. Less shiny, the trio’s take on “Morning Dew” virtually reproduces NAZARETH’s reading of the Tim Rose classic, but BRB make “Faith Healer” their own and pay a warm glam tribute to its author, Alex Harvey, who Gordon tried to save after he suffered a heart attack. And then comes “The Game,” the album’s best moment – unhurried yet hitting hard and cutting deep – and “The Book” that smears a mandolin over a catchy stomp. Quite sharp and snappy: a pity, this bark is only a distant echo now.