“I’ve never really been happy with being the band leader,” Bernie Tormé told me once – but he was good at it, although the guitarist who passed away yesterday on the brink of his 67th birthday will always be remembered for his immense contribution to GILLAN and his brief stint with Ozzy Osbourne. With the former, the Irish artist created such seminal albums as “Mr. Universe” and “Glory Road” – Bernie’s assault on the likes of “Unchain Your Brain” is worth the praise of any metal axeman out there – and with the later, Tormé filled the space left by Randy Rhoads but didn’t stay, as he always preferred to pursue his own, so-called Electric Gypsy, thing.
One of the finest British singers, Paul Williams, has died today at the age of 78, a man whose voice graced such diverse collectives as JUICY LUCY, TEMPEST and Allan Holdsworth’s I.O.U. – although, of course, they were all connected on many levels. One of those levels was Williams’ vocals that saw him progress from blues – Paul began his road to glory in Zoot Money’s BIG ROLL BAND and John Mayall’s BLUESBREAKERS, where he also played bass – to prog rock in the company of Jon Hiseman, where he met Holdsworth, and to the latter’s fusion ensemble.
Despite his 50-year presence at the forefront of folk rock, Iain Matthews still remains a criminally underrated artist. Always associated with FAIRPORT CONVENTION which he sang with at the beginning of their career, sharing the spotlight with Judy Dyble, there’s much more strings to the veteran’s bow – going far beyond his hit with MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT, a cover of “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell, and additional forays into country field with PLAINSONG. Iain’s albums such as "Tigers Will Survive" – laid down with or without a second “i” in the vocalist’s name – are even more fascinating, yet there was more. Some of his projects, like HI-FI that Matthews formed in the company of David Surkamp of PAVLOV’S DOG fame, briefly took off; others, like HAMILTON POOL, didn’t, but each of those left a cache of unrele ased material, which Iain recently dusted off to issue on April 26th in a box set.
“Things are looking good for the future of LUCIFER’S FRIEND“, told me John Lawton back in 2016 when the band he’s been fronting on and off since 1970 were gearing up for the release of "Too Late To Hate" – the album that would catch their audience by surprise not so much thanks to its quality, which was expected, but due to the fact it followed the hints of the ensemble getting ready to bow out. The singer was right, because they don’t seem to be up to get, quoting the group’s classic, “out of sight with nothing to say”: April 26th is the day when the veteran’s new record will hit the shelves. More so, “Black Moon” – with two other original members, Peter Hesslein and Dieter Horns, on board – will see them back on stage.
Recently, there was an overabundance of Peter Hammill’s archive solo material released, with a new multi-disc collection in the pipeline, but the same can’t be said about VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, the band he masterminded and found fame with. The situation is to be remedied soon, as April 26th will see the deluxe reissue of “The Aerosol Grey Machine”I: their debut album, released in 1969 and celebrating its 50th anniversary in September, turns into a box set. There’s a remastered version of the record in it, with “Giant Squid” reinstated, alongside another CD with rare cuts, an LP and a 7-inch single – originally planned yet withdrawn – plus book containing photos and Sid Smith-written essay, and a replica of 1968 poster designed by Hamill. Of course, it’s not the greatest album by the ensemble, but that’s where their route to greatness began… and possibly, that’s where a new reissue programme starts.