Was I ever "really" into 70s hard rock?
I was a kid in the 70s and perhaps too young to appreciate hard rock though it was there on the radio. The first hard rock album I bought was AC/DCs "Back in Black" in 1980 (unless you count Suzi Quatro as hard rock) but that was an anomaly. I probably really discovered hard rock in the mid 80s in my late teens.
The reasons for that were numerous…
- New Wave had gone it's distance;
- New Wave's fascination with music from the 60s had moved to the 70s and bands had changed, accordingly, with the times. Think "The Cult", amongst others;
- There was a "Detroit" explosion going on and everything was The Stooges and MC5 (OK, they were 60s bands, but 60s bands that anticipated the 70s),
- There was a desire to re-discover or discover for the first time those sounds you heard on the radio in the 70s, and that was even more acute when you were in your late pre-teens in the 70s;
- Bands I liked from the 60s, like The Kinks, especially, and the Rolling Stones, had added hard rock trappings to their sound in the hope of being as noisy as their punk counterparts;
- There were a lot of 70s hard rock records languishing in op-shops and second hand stores.
This last point was perhaps the most influential factor on my 70s hard rock listening.
I picked up albums by Led Zeppelin (and discovered their undisputable greatness), Deep Purple (I played "Machine Head" over and over), Bon Scott era AC/DC (this is Australia and their old LPs were everywhere for a couple of bucks), Free (I grooved to "Fire and Water"), Lynyrd Skynyrd (who didn't have a beer whilst listening to "Second Helping"?), Steppenwolf (not knowing they had some crunching albums after their 60s hits), Status Quo (we all got neck aches headbanging, under the influence, to their "12 Gold Bars" LP) as well as albums by Grand Funk Railroad, Mountain, Aerosmith, Jeff Beck, Black Oak Arkansas, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and any of the bands Carmine Appice was in.
Op-shops were good and the music was easy to access and, well, at it's best it was great music which, when turned to, errrr, "11", numbed you with its power and noise.
So, yes, I played a lot of "hard rock", albeit for a short time. It didn't rule my life but it did populate the shelves next to my turntable.
Today, I don't really search out hard rock but I do have 20 or so hard rock albums from the 70s which are amongst my favourite LPs.
And just when you think you know what's what in hard rock along come this band "Road".
I had no idea who this was when my mate (thanks Mitchell) gave me this album though I knew Noel Redding was Hendrix's bass player. When you have such a persuasive front man you sometimes forget that the sidemen have careers also.
Road were and Anglo-American super group (Redding and Samson are English) albeit, arguably, a second tier supergroup as none of the players were "big stars".
Wikipedia: "Road was an American hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1970. Comprising bassist/vocalist Noel Redding (previously of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Fat Mattress…), guitarist/vocalist Rod Richards (formerly of Rare Earth) and drummer/vocalist Leslie Sampson, the band released one album, Road, in 1972".
Road play hard rock.
Wikipedia: "Hard rock (or heavy rock) is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music which has its earliest roots in mid-1960s garage rock, blues rock and psychedelic rock. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with pianos and keyboards"
Road being fairly early in the 70s and with a late 60s psychedelic pedigree lean to the "Heavy Psych" hard rock sound : loud, fuzzed-out and trippy psychedelic sounds of the late 60s turned up for the 70s.
Road utilise very little of hard rocks other available stylistic motifs: blues boogie, metal or proto punk noise.
And, why should they when they are happy with using a base they are familiar with, psychedelica.
Wikipedia (wtf again!) define psychedelic rock as a music that "attempted to replicate the effects of and enhance the mind-altering experiences of hallucinogenic drugs, incorporating new electronic and recording effects, extended solos and improvisation and was particularly influenced by eastern mysticism, reflected in use of exotic instrumentation, particularly from Indian music or the incorporation of elements of eastern music".
This is true though the American variation on the same also included music that was neither whimsical or surrealistic but hard and heavy. Road travel down this road (sic) and lean heavily on the acid rock which had come from California in the wake of Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly, The Grateful Dead and others.
This is where Road lies…
Wah-wah guitar, trippy vocals, spacey sounds, long songs …
It's not new and even when they do asides with some country flavoured slower songs (maybe that's why they are superimposed over Monument Valley on the sleeve) they aren't taking the music anywhere it hasn't been before.
But, they nail it, with one hell of a big farking nail.
Noel Redding and Leslie Sampson are good but the real standout is Rod Richards on guitar with his wah-wah wizardry. Richards had played with American R&B come light psych Detroit band "Rare Earth" (yes the band have the same name as the record label. The label, which was the "rock" subsidiary of black soul Motown records, was named after the band who were one of their early all white signings) on their first three albums. I have heard only one of those, "Get Ready" from 1969, and he isn't up front. Here, he is all over the music, writing, playing and singing.
I have no idea who sings lead (most sound like they are probably Noel) but it all works… this is a power-rock trio with a lot of style and substance who manage to avoid the pitfalls of this type of music (pretentiousness, long pointless soloing etc).
It's a pity they only recorded this one album.
Tracks (best in italics)
- I'm Trying – (Rod Richards) – trippy, with perfect late 60s psych sounds updated to the early 70s
- I'm Going Down to the Country – (Noel Redding) – this steps back into Led Zepp territory with a mix of hard rock and country … with some post-hippie psychedelic folk thrown in;
- Mushroom Man – (Rod Richards, Leslie Sampson) – a psych record with a "mushroom" in the tile ….what are the chances, eh?
- Man Dressed in Red – (Noel Redding) – a total space trip with some seriously whacked out fuzz guitar.
- Spaceship Earth – (Rod Richards) – "spaceship earth" – of course. Did I mention the psychedelic influences?
- My Friends – (Noel Redding) – a instrumental with occasional vocals. It's a showcase for the musicians. Lots of wah-wah, bass runs, and drum solos.
- Road – (Rod Richards) – lysergic blasts of stoned early seventies rock. It pumps and drives.
There a couple of ordinary cuts, but generally this record is killer and it has great period flavour …. I'm keeping it.
Man Dressed in Red
- Redding had performed with The Loving Kind" before joining Hendrix. He also played in "The Noel Redding Band", "British Invasion All-Stars", "305 AM and Keith Dion", "Noel Redding and Friends", "Yardbirds Experience", "Phish" and Shut Up Frank" with Dave Clarke, Mick Avory of The Kinks and Dave Rowberry of The Animals.
- Richards went on to a solo career…unsuccessful.
- Sampson joined Redding in "The Noel Redding Band" before joining "Eggs Over Easy", "Stray Dog", "Ramatam", "The Gas"in the 80s and "Sally Barker And The Rhythm and The Pirates" in the 90s.
- The front sleeve with the band superimposed over the majestic Monument Valley has the words "Save our Open Spaces" across the bottom …. and it should.