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As the genre began to split off into sub-genres of melodic and progressive style, classic hard rockers raised their fists and continued to rock the world.
Today, I’m bringing you Girl, Alkana and more good hard rock from the years 1975 to 1980. ~ Sunday Simmons
I love a bit of mid-seventies hard rock, and of course, the bands that provided it! It’s get you on your feet, raises your hands and voices, and it never seems to age. Those early years in hard rock laid the firm foundations for rockers yet to come, and both sides of the Atlantic produced some legendary names.
I’ve chosen a few of my favourite overlooked and awesome bands from an exciting time in hard rock music, all you need to do is settle back and enjoy the ride!
Essential Album: ‘Sheer Greed’ (1980)
Featuring future LAGuns frontman Phil Lewis and future Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, British band, Girl, was an early incarnation of the hard rock/sleaze variety that would come to fruition later in the eighties with bands such as Motley Crüe leading the way. Girl had the right idea of where rock music was heading, and boy did they know how to glam it up.
Girl’s debut album ‘Sheer Greed’ is a real kick-ass offering from a hugely overlooked pioneer of the sleaze genre. As more bands splintered off from mainstream hard rock to a more glam metal style, Girl was certainly there for its inception.
And so to the album! This is a real hidden gem, and definitely worth trying to get your hands on if you’re a fan of neglected classics. I love this album, and I’ve chosen ‘Hollywood Tease’ as my song choice today. Later covered by LAGuns, the original is just sublime. Fantastic riffs, Phil Lewis’ sexy vocals and a proper get on your feet, relentless rhythm. Absolutely stunning!
Essential track: ‘Circus World’ (1978)
US hard rock band, Axis, whilst short-lived and not hugely appreciated by the music-loving masses, is yet another band that should have done far more than their one album. Boasting Vinny Appice on drums (brother of drum legend Carmine Appice), and the scorching vocal talents of Danny Johnson and Jay Davis, Axis hit the ground running but never quite hit the big time.
Axis’ one and only album, ‘It’s a Circus World’, was released in 1978 and is jam-packed with great rocking tunes and tight musicianship. I’ve chosen the title track ‘Circus World’ to share with you today. It’s a perfect showcase for the band’s cleverly created hard rock, a stunning combination of mellow and heavy.
‘Circus World’ is a fantastic hidden gem, and an ideal place to start your love affair with Axis.
Essential track: ‘Opium Trail’ (1977)
Probably best known for their 1977 hit ‘boys are back in town’, UK band, Thin Lizzy, had a colourful career during the seventies with their brand of accessible yet unpredictable hard rock. Taking a little from blues and pop, Thin Lizzy’s 1977 album, ‘Bad Reputation’, saw the band producing some stunning tracks, one of which being ‘Opium Trail’.
‘Bad Reputation’ is one of arguably one of the best albums by this awesome band, and it was hard to choose just one song that sums up the character of Thin Lizzy. ‘Opium Trail’ has a little of everything, from Phil Lynott’s raunchy vocals to Scott Gorham’s scorching Les Paul solo.
I love the intro to this song, a dynamic, relentless riff leading into an out and out rocker of a track. Pure, hard rock perfection from one of my all-time favourite bands, check out ‘Opium Trail’ today.
Essential album: ‘Armageddon’ (1975)
British rock band, Armageddon, should have made a huge impact on the music scene back in the mid-seventies. With a fine lineage of members made up of ex-Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell and one-time Yardbird’s frontman Keith Relf to name but two, Armageddon was a supergroup of sorts.
Sadly, with a lack of touring and exposure, Armageddon folded in 1975 after just one album, followed the year after by vocalist Keith Relf’s early demise. Did they leave a decent legacy with that one album? You better believe it!
From the scorching guitar riff intro to opening track ‘Buzzard’, the whole album is relentless, rocking and riotous. Keith provides coarse, edgy vocals, each track is performed with tight, raw talent, and it begs to be played as loud as you dare.
If you can get your hands on this stellar debut, you won’t regret it. Insanely good!
Essential track: ‘Woman’ (1978)
With links to Robert Plant and John Bonham, who were both early members of this UK rock group, Band of Joy released their eponymous debut album in 1978 to a less than rapturous reception. It would be another five years before the band released an album again, before disbanding for the third time.
Today, we’re looking at a fabulous track from that debut album, my song choice, ‘Woman’. There’s a touch of blues, a hint of progressive, but the blueprint is hard rock through and through.
The entire album is well worth a listen, but of all the tracks, ‘Woman’ is without question one of the most outstanding. A killer hook, a funky riff, and a stunning, throaty vocal – what more could you want from a heard rock song?
Essential album: ‘Welcome to My Paradise’ (1978)
From the rip-roaring riff of opening track ‘California Rock n’ Roll Queen’ to the blazing guitar solo of ‘Paradise’, Alkana’s 1978 album ‘Welcome to My Paradise’ is nothing short of hard rock heaven. Largely overlooked by the masses, US rock band Alkana was a vehicle for guitarist Danny Alkana, and features the vocal wizardry of Jack Rucker.
I do love Jack’s vocals, so much dark and light in his phrasing, easily transitioning between soft, high notes and rough, raw power.
This stunning self-released album is at least five years ahead of its time music-wise, embryonic melodic metal if you will. An absolute must-hear, Alkana’s ‘Welcome to my Paradise’ is a real rarity and guaranteed to rock your socks off.
I’ve chosen the eleven-minute epic, ‘The Tower’, as my song choice, simply because it’s a perfect showcase for how this band managed to combine a mellow melody with a heavy heart in one single track.
Never heard of Alkana? Remedy that today!
I’m wrapping up today with one of my all-time favourite hard rock bands that started out in the seventies, and they’re still a force to be reckoned with today. I’m talking about the hottest band on the planet – KISS!
Starting their career in Wicked Lester with Twisted Sister vocalist Dee Snyder, Paul ‘Starchild’ Stanley and Gene ‘Demon’ Simmons soon joined forces with Ace ‘Spaceman’ Frehley and Peter ‘Catman’ Criss to form the rock phenomena KISS.
With their signature black and white make-up, outrageous outfits, and out-of-this-world stage show, KISS brought their brand of quintessential seventies hard rock to the masses. I’ve loved sharing my favourites with you today, so why not share your favourites and get commenting!
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