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From start to finish you are taken on a whirlwind tour of the exotic sounds and nuances of musical styles from peoples and cultures around the world. The Angel Air label’s decision to re-release this long unavailable album is to be warmly congratulated. It is captivatingly atmospheric, whisking you away to a decidedly gentler place and what feels like a much kinder space, where you can put aside the worries and complexities of the moment and enjoy the sounds of happier times.
The Progressive Aspect (May 2017)
…meanwhile McCarty made solo albums and in an interview with Radio 68 he calls “Through The Fire” half solo, semi group. ‘Half solo’ because he wrote everything and sings most of the songs, ‘half group’ because he had, in his own words, not only the need for the talent of his old friends but also their ability to provide ‘chemistry’…The result is a piece that I would rather call spiritualistic than prog, also due to the spiritual message of McCarty’s lyrics: the imbalance in the world, the mystery of life (‘Mystery Of Being’), the importance of people with good heart (‘Good Heart’), the wisdom of the master himself (‘Glorious One’) and core elements such as karma and rebirth (‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’, ‘Through the Fire’).
Musically the group finds a nice balance between the atmosphere needed to create such a spiritualist foundation on the one hand and the needs of a progressive rock album on the other. McCarty sings the praises of Louis Cennamo and especially the classically trained pianist Hawken, who then turned a song with two chords to a charming song (‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’). ‘Good Heart’ and the two bonuses certainly provide the necessary rhythm…
Keys and Chords (Translated – April 2017)
…the surviving members of the original Renaissance line-up did reconvene three decades later to record a splendid new album in the shape of ‘Through The Fire.’ As an exercise in melodic soft-rock this tastefully constructed package was well nigh faultless, with ‘One More Turn Of The Wheel’ and ‘Mystery Of Being’ emerging as two and the stand-out tracks.
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (April 2017)
As with most of this version of Renaissance (and Illusion), the basis of this album may be more song based than many will expect, memorable and gently hook laden choruses sticking long in the mind as the likes of “Good Heart”, “Glorious One” and “My Old Friend” play out. The latter a beautifully poised selection that conveys loss and time passing in a cleverly accessible manner, even as its pace refuses to rise above an engaging crawl. With “Beyond The Day” a gentle sway that incorporates pipes and whistle and “Through The Fire” almost a casual jaunt that possesses a decided glint in its eye, while this album could never be seen as anything other than reserved and controlled, it is somehow surprisingly diverse. This Angel Air reissue adds two previously unheard bonus selections in the shape of “If There Was Something I Could Change?” and “Moving On”, which thankfully don’t break the album’s spell, fitting the mood and atmosphere perfectly. As such they are both welcome additions and, rather pleasingly, just as good as anything the original release contained.
They may have been overshadowed by the band they formed and then left behind and their reappearance as Illusion. However, with this solitary album Renaissance Illusion created a worthy legacy of their own and one that in this hectic world provides an excellent opportunity to slow down and relax with some beautifully poised and memorable music.
Sea Of Tranquility (April 2017)
SJPCD050 OVEREND WATTS “He’s Real Gone” – Posthumous release for solo album from MOTT THE HOOPLE, MOTT and BRITISH LIONS unique bass player
SJPCD499 SNAFU “Live Nottingham 1976” – Never before released concert from 1976 plus bonus tracks
SJPCD500 STACKRIDGE – Something really special for our 500th release – “The Final Bow Tour Bristol 2015” 2CD set
SJPCD501 DAVEY DODDS “Kernow Copia” – Stunning solo album from former RED JASPER frontman
On this CD debut (with 2 extra items), the compositions per se still shape up to confident and often unorthodox arrangements, passing any artistic litmus test if stripped down to just voice and piano, as is actually the case for half of waltz-time ‘Old Time Religion’, a most immediately memorable opus along with ‘Ships And Sails’, guitarist Dave Greene’s brief ‘Head Under Water’ instrumental, the understated tension of ‘Sepia Sister’ plus the title track (and spin-off single)
R2 Magazine (May/June 2017)
Released in 1973, it keeps a wide berth from the sort of sweeping acoustic-based prog of that early Renaissance in favour of a largely soft-rock approach which yet lurches wildly and unpredictably into country-rock, blues, folk-boogie and even some art-pop, worthy of the nascent 10cc. The latter is best represented by the opening track and probably the standout, the very cleverly composed and played ‘The Neon Life’. Other highlights are the subtle yet charming ‘Sepia Sister’ and the lengthy closer ‘Mean Customer’.
Classic Rock Society (May/June 2017)
‘The Neon Life’ is responsible for opening the album and it is particularly well placed, led by Jim’s piano. The saxophones of Lyn Dobson and Bob Birtles give a jazzy colouring…We notice the importance of Jim’s dominant voice, with beautiful vocal harmonies on ‘Ships And Sails’ combined with sumptuous arrangements, and wonderful guitar. ‘Living Blind’ has electric piano bringing a funky side, also enhanced by the saxophones and feverish guitar. Jim’s voice is warm and melodious.
All the sound of the west coast of the United States is honoured on ‘On The Frontier’ where BJ Cole plays the pedal steel guitar. In 1973, this track was offered by Jim to Renaissance for his fourth album ‘Ashes Are Burning’…two bonuses are included from radio sessions…a beautiful version of ‘The Neon Life’ where guitar and piano are worth the detour. One wonders why this album has gone completely unnoticed, certainly hidden by the stars like Roxy Music, Queen and Genesis.
Highlands Magazine – Translated (March 2017)
Jim’s former group would cover the title piece of “On The Frontier” a few months down the line, but there’s a charged urgency to the ivories-driven original to send ripples across the tracks and veer away before voices elevate the country-tinctured “Midnight Train” above the painstakingly textured surface of the record – best felt on “Sepia Sister” which, in its grand understatement, could shine on McCarty’s next venture, ILLUSION. In a SHOOT context, though, the momentum-gaining “Living Blind” unfolds as a demonstration of the band’s jazzy edge, from electric keyboard strokes to the shards of brass that are also sprinkled over Greene’s acid-kissed six strings to add a touch of psychedelic delight to “The Neon Life” whose previously unreleased live-on-radio version extended it to highlight the collective’s interplay and vocal harmonies.
Another bonus, “Storms As Sorrows” where wah-wah has a field day, didn’t make the cut, but if it did there would be a nice arc between this number and an almost orchestral “Ships And Sails” which is weaving acoustic lace around the same bobbing bass. Just as majestic, and helped by a new RENAISSANCE’s John Tout on piano, “Old Time Religion” paints patinated lines over a hymnal swell, but it’s “Mean Customer” that rhythmic wonders are housed in to shake off the cobwebs and welcome raga into the fold.
Slightly exotic, although not going all over the place, the album would struggle to find a listener, so after a handful of concerts, the players became disillusioned and soon went separate ways; their only collaboration remains an essential piece of British art-rock rock puzzle. ****
DMME.net (March 2017)
This in fact is mostly soft rock with hints of country, psych and prog here and there, with only ‘The Boogie’ being somewhat in blues mode…Dave Greene plays incisive guitar on ‘The Neon Life’ and is excellent throughout; on some tracks the exceptional Lyn Dobson (ex-Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames) and Bob Bertles (ex Max Merritt & the Meteors) augment on horns; there are two bonus tracks, from radio sessions.
Blues In Britain (March 2017)
The band made only a scant number of live appearances and managed only a single album, On the Frontier, now reissued by Britain’s highly laudable Angel Air label with two radio sessions tagged on for good measure…a closer listen reveals several hidden gems – the supremely melodic “The Neon Life,” “Ships and Sails” and the title track (belatedly covered by a McCarty-less Renaissance) among them…there’s something to be said for the album’s sensual sound, making it more than a mere curio and a still-worthy part of the Yardbirds’ lingering legacy.
Goldmine Magazine (February 2017)
It’s a shame that Shoot’s flame burned out so quickly, as this debut showed a lot of promise but ultimately it was to be the lone recorded output from the band before they broke up. Angel Air has gone to great lengths to make On the Frontier’s first appearance on CD a good one, complete with a detailed history of the band and photos. It’s well worth investigating for those always searching for rare ’70s rock.
Sea Of Tranquility (February 2017)
This is the first time that this album has ever been made available on CD. Shoot was a short lived band. During the time they were together, this is the only album they released in 1973. The band was comprised of Jim McCarty (lead vocals, keyboards, percussion), Dave Greene (vocals, guitars, banjo), Bill Russell (bass), and Craig Collinge (drums, percussion). Principle songwriter McCarty is best known as the drummer in The Yardbirds and Renaissance. But he has also released solo albums and played in Together, Illusion, Box of Frogs, Stairway, The British Invasion All-Stars, and Pilgrim (whew!).
This is one of those cases in which this album will probably find an entirely new listening audience in 2017. It seems sad that these tracks have been unavailable for such a long time. Although recorded decades ago, these recordings have lost none of their magic over the years. The playing is precise and inspired, and the vocals are simply amazing. Recorded at Abbey Road studios, these cuts still sound amazing. In addition to the original ten tracks on the original album, this reissue also includes the bonus tracks “Storms As Sorrows (radio session)” and “The Neon Life (radio session).” Listening to this, one can’t help but wish these guys had kept things together longer to record more music. Another true gem unearthed by the folks at Great Britain’s Angel Air label.
babysue (February 2017)
A forgotten jewel of former Yardbirds and Renaissance drummer Jim McCarty. ‘Shoot’ missed the commercial goal in the seventies but is nevertheless an impressive album.
Keys and Chords (January 2017)
This album will tweak the interest of classic rock fans, featuring the drummer from The Yardbirds and the original line-up of Renaissance, Jim McCarty.
Originally released in 1973 it failed to make much of an impact; the band hardly gigged to support it. However, now on CD for the first time, it is something of a lost psychedelic progressive rock gem.
Southern Daily Echo (January 2017)
Mott the Hoople founding member Pete Overend Watts has died aged 69.
The bassist played on songs including Roll Away The Stone and the group’s best known hit All The Young Dudes, written and produced by David Bowie.
He died on Sunday of cancer, said Peter Purnell from record label Angel Air Records.
He said Watts was a “highly intelligent and witty man who throughout his adult life was both an immensely likeable character and an enigma”.
The Ugly Guys with a lyric video for their new single “King of Dixie” (RAJP925) available from 27th January 2017 on iTunes.
Giltrap remains one of the supreme folk guitar stylists of any era. This collaboration with keys meister Paul Ward brings out the best of both men. ‘The Last Of England’ is grounded by Ward’s vast cinematic keyboard sweeps (redolent of his film and TV work), while Giltrap’s intricate finger picking is pure English shires on a summer’s day . Indeed several of the tunes, including the title track, might be lifted from a film score about the Pre-Raphaelite painters whose work inspires much of this album. Meditative ballads like ‘This Father’s Love’ and the glorious hymn-like ‘The Anna Fantasia’ showcase Giltrap at his best.
Prog Magazine (April 2017)
All compositions and acoustic guitar work are by Gordon Giltrap while the keyboards (at least 16 types) are by Paul Ward. One is unlikely to distinguish between the various Moogs, Rolands and Mellotrons etc, but overall there is the effect of full orchestration without being overloaded.
Guitar carries the main tune each time and the guitars used were made by Roger Bucknell of Fylde Guitars except for a 3/4 sized instrument produced by Paul Brett of John Hornby Skewes. Giltrap’s technique is well known and recognisable throughout this disk but the track ‘Spring’ is the most in his tradition.
Tracks 1 to 7 are reflections on famous Victorian Pre-Raphaelite paintings and are subtitled ‘The Brotherhood Suite’, the original paintings being described briefly in the liner notes. The 8 1/2 minute title track ‘The Last Of England’ is a well-balanced piece introducing this section while ‘Work’ provides a percussive, lively conclusion…
Pipeline Magazine (Spring 2017)
…Giltrap starts in harmony on the atmospheric ‘April Love’, accompanied by the Mellotron flute. Acoustic guitar provides sweet nostalgic efflorescence in the opening of ‘From The Light Of The World’, there are some programmed drums which are happily fleeting – the acoustic guitar, accompanied by a translucent orchestration quickly returns. ‘Loren’ offers guitar arpeggios, with an opening in the vein of Anthony Phillips. The resemblance is striking, with the same sense of beauty and shade. ‘The Anna Fantasia’ has dreamy guitar in the introduction, keyboards providing an atmospheric counterpoint. ‘This Father’s Love’ begins with serene acoustic guitar, enhanced by a fine orchestration, offering a feeling of serenity…it should be noted that inspiration inhabits the entirety of this collection. A great success! 4/5 Stars
Highlands Magazine – Translated (March 2017)
Weaving silvery vignettes over a pastel backdrop, an unobtrusive mood-setter of sorts, the maestro’s acoustic guitars project a lucid pastorale to enchant the listener, while the ivories delicately spill pointillist drops on the landscape and elevate the panorama of the title piece, and the entire “Brotherhood” suite, to a 3D-vista. A meditative “Ania’s Dream” may suggest there’s a new-age kind of slow motion on display, what with instrumental voices almost turning “Plas Oriel” into a maudlin song, but melancholy doesn’t belong here: “The Anna Fantasia” is a solemn hymn, “Spring” a jovial minuet, and it takes “Work” to reveal a rock-minded contrast between drama and serenity. Still, Gordon’s Gordian knot of folk tunes and prog sophistication & Ward’s sentimental telepathy come to full fruition on “A Promise Fulfilled” with FAIRPORTS’ Ric Sanders violin leading them towards cosmic dance.
If this is the future of Albion they’re heading for, it’s not the last we’ve seen of England: until artists exist there, it’s going to rule aural waves. ****3/4
DMME.net (March 2017)
How can anyone fault the faultless? Anyone who’s into what Giltrap brings to the table – acoustically or electronically – will be truly endeared by this release. And the team-up with producer Paul Ward, who supplies the keyboards and expansive backdrop to this album, is an inspired success. Beautiful and gentle in the main, sometimes folky but unmistakably Giltrap. If you’re a fan or not, but appreciate acoustic guitar, this is most definitely your cup of English tea.
Classic Rock Magazine (March 2017)
…The delicate ‘Ania’s Dream’ is a wonderful marriage of guitar sympathetically underpinned by church organ, whilst the liveliest track is saved to the very end. ‘A Promise Fulfilled’ sees Fairport’s Ric Sanders adding his distinct violin, who along with Gordon and Paul offer a rousing conclusion to The Last Of England.
Gordon Giltrap and Paul Ward have produced something rather special here and a release that ranks very highly in the GG catalogue. The Last Of England is a wonderful testament to Gordon Giltrap and his music…
The Progressive Aspect (March 2017)
This is a different sort of album than what we’re used to hearing from Great Britain’s Angel Air label. A few years ago this probably would have been categorized as new age or world music. But in 2017, folks would probably just describe this as instrumental. Guitarist Gordon Giltrap has been making music for decades. He came to the attention of most of his fans with his 1978 hit “Heartsong.” Ever since, he has continued playing for his ever-growing fan base. For this album, Giltrap teamed up with keyboard player/producer Paul Ward. Together, the two present some very subtle instrumentals that feature excellent gliding melodies and articulate arrangements. If there’s a single word we would use to describe this music that word would be…inspired. Fourteen immaculate tracks here including “The Last of England,” “April Love,” “Sadie In May,” and “A Promise Fulfilled.”
babysue (February 2017)
Now Gordon has teamed up with keyboardist and producer Paul Ward to release an innovative new album that crosses several styles, from prog to rock to pop to classical, in the unique style that Gordon has developed and honed over his career.
Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (January 2017)
Giltrap and Ward serve up an attractive blend of old and new composition for your listening pleasure, including a suite of evocative instrumental pieces inspired by the significant pre-Raphaelite paintings hanging in the Birmingham Art Gallery, most notably ‘All The Days Of May’ and the epic title track.
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (January 2017)
Ward’s arrangements are never intrusive but always complementary giving an extra dimension to Giltrap’s solo guitar. It’s evident a lot of thought has gone into this aspect, and the informative liner notes highlight the mutually shared inspiration. Fairport’s Rick Sanders adds violin to the closing piece – and standout – ‘A Promise Fulfilled’.
A great way to usher in 2017 and Angel Air’s 20th anniversary. *****
Get Ready to ROCK! (January 2017)
The Last of England arrives here in early 2017 and signals a great start to the new year. Filled with memorable melodies and fantastic instrumentation, it’s a can’t miss instrumental album for anyone into folk based prog music with killer acoustic guitar work and symphonic keyboard arrangements. Well done guys!
Sea Of Tranquility (January 2017)
Catch The Reform Club live!
Sat 15 July: Snowdrop, Lewes
Away from music for a long time, as there was only a collaboration with Peter on 1986′s “Asia Minor” after “You Must Remember This” that had been out six years earlier, Robin’s comeback wasn’t overdue, to say the least – nobody could hope for a new album – but he’s on a roll again, and is good at it. Mostly acoustic, with keyboard providing a delicate backdrop to an exquisite guitar strum, the pieces on “TU” are brimful with gratitude to life that’s never taken for granted, and not for nothing, opening with the artist’s own “Love Can Hurt” whose bittersweet optimism is a light at the end of memory lane, the record is resolved with Dylan’s “Forever Young” because there’s a blessing in every experience Sarstedt has gone through to tell about now.
He’s no stranger to a singer-songwriter stance, but the concise autobiography “I Just Want To Rock ‘n’ Roll” betrays a rebel under a bard’s skin, and the jagged riff of “Back Again” scratches against its tanned complacence – a deceptive kind of veneer which can be easily broken when sociopolitical affairs come into romantic play on this track or a cover of brother Peter’s “Beirut” – while Robin’s take on Ric Grech’s “Kiss The Children” adds baroque air, that Gram Parsons’ version didn’t have, to the proceedings. And if “Song For Tessa,” a ballad dedicated to Sarstedt’s late wife, is straightforwardly lyrical, “Losin’ End” cuts the deepest, whereas the determination of “Doggone” has its harmonica-oiled bluesy twang shaping a bright tomorrow – or TU-morrow – for Robin. He persevered with this music, and it’s time for him to carry on. ****
DMME.net (February 2017)
His latest album ‘TU’ is a melodic one, featuring several self-penned compositions plus versions of two Peter Sarstedt songs – ‘Beirut’ and ‘Mellowed Out’ – two Bob Dylan – ‘Thunder On The Mountain’ and ‘Forever Young’ – and Michael McDonald’s ‘Losing End’.
Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (December 2016)
…There’s some lovely guitar playing, too; smooth and vaguely bluesy riffs on the electric guitar and some nice picking on the acoustic guitar. He opens with a selection of his own songs, all of which are strong compositions, before some covers, including ‘Beirut’ by brother Peter and Nobel Laureate Bob’s ‘Thunder On The Mountain’.
The Chronicle (October 2016)
…His second sees a five piece band – subtle guitar, rich sax, hammond – used to startling effect; a progressive West Country reinvention of Gulf Coast roadhouse rock ‘n’ soul music. The slow arm title track would make Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham smile. ‘Why Are You Talking To Me?’ rocks with selfish abandon and yet ‘Even Love?’, with Mutter’s echoing flute, could eerily be a modern Stackridge number. All with one of the greatest unsung voices in British music at the fore.
Record Collector Magazine (November 2016)
Champ is an album of sophisticated rock with a retro feel. In fact, there isn’t that much flute and the chief instrument is Clive Ashley’s tenor saxophone underpinned by Tom Hughes’ organ and a solid rhythm section. Nor is there much of the eccentricity of Stackridge, although ‘Icing On The Cake’ could well date from them, cleverly playing with a pun on ‘counter culture’. It’s a great song, as is ‘A Day On The Town’, which reminds me oddly of Ray Davies – world weary and bluesy with its finger on the pulse of a seedy pub, and restrained lead guitar from co-producer Chris Cleaver. The title track is pure melancholy with sax and organ playing a tired duet. The band is extremely tight, as it should be after ten years and three previous albums, and it all sounds effortless. If I called it laid back you might get the wrong idea because there’s an edge to all the songs and a sting in the lyrics.
R2 Magazine (November 2016)
The name Mutter Slater is familiar to many people, mostly in Great Britain as Slater was the frontman and flute player for many years in the critically-acclaimed pop band Stackridge. Now that the band is sadly no more, individual members are (thankfully) continuing to make music. As you might expect, Slater’s music has changed and evolved since his days playing pure pop in Stackridge. The Champ finds him writing and recording songs heavily influenced by American blues, soul, and rhythm and blues. Slater’s voice adapts beautifully to this style of music. These tracks have a nice smooth sound, and an overall laidback vibe. Joining Mutter on these recordings are Chris Cleaver, Clive Ashley, Dan Wheeler, Tom Hughes, and Ian Oliver. Nine relaxed pensive cuts including “Even Love?”, “Icing On The Cake,” “The Champ,” and “I’m Not The Man.”
babysue (October 2016)
In sound it’s still the 70s, a blend of the folk, rock and the psychedelic that reminded us of Traffic. It could be a little heavy handed but it’s not, Slater having a good ear for melody and still wielding a mean flute. Opener ‘Even Love?’ is a slower, bluesy rock tune that’s not the best but does indicate what’s to come, with flute and sax. The next song, ‘Your Love Affair With Pain’, is funkier and more on the pop side, with some nice sax. Elsewhere, the upbeat ‘Icing On the Cake’ has some good Dylanesque organ. ‘Jesus In The Backyard’ mixes prog and blues and showcases all the instruments; take a listen to that or the jaunty country-tinged ‘Why Are You Talking To Me?’ Overall, it’s a strong album, and for fans of 70′s rock, a good one to buy and tell all their friends about. But don’t believe us; Uncle Billy Bragg says: “Mutter Slater has one of the greatest voices of British rock, and he writes a mean song, too.”
The Chronicle (September 2016)
The Champ is filled with fine British rock with a main influence from classic R&B of the ’60s. What hit me right from the start was Slater’s excellent lead vocals. His voice is deep and clear with excellent tone and depth of feeling. Every song is strong but if I had to pick a few favourites I would choose the heart wrenching balladic title track, the tender “I May Not Be An Angel” with its lovely organ and guitar and the catchy R&B of “Icing On The Cake” with its nice acoustic flavour.
The Champ proves the old guard can still make some great music. In this day and age when it seems substance and quality is sorely lacking in popular culture, it is refreshing to hear music full of soul and passion. Another highly recommended release courtesy of Angel Air Productions.
Sea Of Tranquility (September 2016)
With Cleaver and Hughes producing and engineering, the nine tracks on The Champ take the listener through all kinds of bluesy rock terrain and Mutter’s lyrics are key to understanding the power and the glory behind Mutter’s latest rock classics. Best listened to several times to gain the full impact, with The Champ, The Mutter Slater Band has produced a 21st century music classic.
MWE3.com (September 2016)
The music can be described as “blue-eyed soul” and the lyrics are about human strength and tenderness, love, bars, train and bus rides, long walks and cosmic disintegration. Mutter’s voice has become more mature over the years, which is evident on “Icing On The Cake”. The title track is a ballad with a sax solo. “Jesus In The Backyard” is sometimes more rocky. For lovers of mixed forms of blues with soul and R & B.
Keys and Chords (September 2016 – translated)
The man who Billy Bragg once haled as ‘one of the greatest voices of British rock’ still turns out effortlessly melodic albums from time to time, marrying his enduring love of sixties blues and soul with a lyrical sensibility which couldn’t be more quintessentially English as he unveils the freshly minted charms of ‘I May Not Be An Angel’, ‘Even Love?’ and the majestic title tune.
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (September 2016)
All written by Richardson, with the exception of a co-write with Hales (original drummer Jackson was replaced by Gary Burroughs on two tracks, liner notes misspell), half the number of tracks compared to Red Dirt’s debut signal the new direction. Pulsing Rickenbacker stereo bass opens the title track, joined by orchestral-like guitar and atmospheric harmonies, then the dreamy interludes of World In A Mountain build to fine solos. Twin guitars (both Gibson SG’s) swirl over a Nick Pickett-sounding vocal (Sweet Dream Lady), followed by shimmering cymbals with guitar-picking, power drumming and bass oscillating crescendo and interlude (The Heart Of A Young Boy). As it’s about a youth’s early death, the twin vocals haunt in their contrast fitting the tragic theme; one can even imagine the poor chap’s last breathing. This isn’t prog for its own sake but inventive creativity.
Energy is upped with prickly, staccato guitars reminding of Steve Hillage complete with some pungent riffing (Don’t Be A Fool), then atmospheric vocal and wide palette on the mystical 13-minute closer The Journey’s End. All combine for middle riffs as time changes stun by their variety, a hallmark of this imaginative combo. The bonus tracks are a surprise-but not if you have the Red Dirt album. The violin-led (by multi-instrumentalist Dave Richardson) group composition Tolly Cobbold, from early Morgan sessions in 1970, would have been perfect for a quirky single-think of a jam with East of Eden and Steeleye Span!
Psychedelic Baby Magazine (January 2017)
The album was recorded in 1972, but then, despite hawking it around various record companies, it failed to get a release and the band folded (until, that is, guitarist Ron Hales resurrected them with a new line-up this year). They deserved better, as this six track album, with its twin lead guitar form, is a pretty enjoyable listen…an interesting enough curio to invest in and see for yourself.
Classic Rock Society (January / February 2017)
If your hankering terribly for early-70′s twin lead guitars, you owe it to yourself to sniff out The Journey (****) – recorded in ’72 but unreleased until approximately this instant…Formerly trading as Red Dirt, under which name they issued a hugely collectible self-titled album for Fontana in 1970, Snake Eye played with a tenderness that whispers volumes about their maturity and discreet confidence. The title track and ‘Don’t Be A Fool’ are little paragons of jazzy, gentle sophistication, while you could play the dry and deliberate ‘World In A Mountain’ to any of your muso pals and tell them it was by Wolf People, and they’d believe you. Yep, it’s that good.
Shindig Magazine (December 2016)
…Strange as it may seem, the most elaborate and at the same time beguiling display of the group’s method is epic “The Journey’s End” where a psyched-up tension and romantic release bring out the best in them. The clarity is there, in the title track, whose two guitars – that Ron Hales and Gary Boroughs interweave in an intricate if loose pattern akin to early WISHBONE ASH – envelop a jazz-tinged rhythm and introduce mellifluous vocal harmonies, and in the intermittently effervescent “Don’t Be A Fool” that Dave Richardson’s pipes inform with a call to action.
DMME.net (December 2016)
The Journey was recorded in 1972 but never released. Dual guitar, changes of tempo with melodic to heavy elements of both British and American rock infecting their sound, allowing the listener to draw comparison to everyone from Blue Cheer to Wishbone Ash.
Record Collector Magazine (November 2016)
Strangely for an album where they are buried deep within lengthy twin guitar interplay and booming rhythms, the vocals from Dave Ritchie offer a dreamy change of mood that fits the music well. Although there’s little doubt that it’s the fret work of Ritchie and Ron Hales, and how that melds keenly with Ken Giles’ bass, that is the key to what makes The Journey as engaging as it is. Drummer Steve Jackson holds up his end of the deal, eagerly adding emphasis and style – as does Gary Boroughs who appears behind the kit on two tracks to Jackson’s four…the six main album cuts are worth the price of entry alone, the easy mannered but pinpoint sharp and hugely memorable melodies this outfit were capable of weaving, really quite impressive.
Personally I’d never heard of Snake Eye before this welcome Angel Air release, something explained by the fact that these recordings have never actually seen the light of day before. The debut Snake Eye album coming some 44 years too late for them to hit the big time. Which when you consider just how good their music was, is nothing short of a travesty. Fans of Wishbone Ash will lap up The Journey and wonder at what could have been for an undiscovered band that deserved so much more.
Sea Of Tranquility (October 2016)
Lengthy tunes filled with extended, melodic guitar solos, more than a fair share of complex musical passages, strong vocals, and the occasional heavy riff…these are some of the characteristics that you’ll find on the one and only release from Snake Eye, titled The Journey. Originally recorded in 1972 but failing to secure a label for its release, this British band played numerous gigs with some of the heavyweights of the day but quickly folded, never allowing The Journey to see the light of day until now thanks to the folks at Angel Air Records. With a dual lead guitar attack that owed as much to Wishbone Ash as it did to the Allman Brothers Band, Snake Eye were ripe for stardom but it was sadly never to be. The album is an excellent snapshot of the times, the guitar interplay stupendous on tracks such as “World in a Mountain”, “Sweet Dream Lady”, the jazzy “Don’t Be a Fool”, and the epic Wishbone Ash-meets-King Crimson intensity of “The Journey’s End”.
Angel Air have added two bonus tracks here, “Tolly Cobhold” and “Hoe Down”, both brief tracks that are in a completely different style than the rest of the album, more of a country & bluegrass flavor than the progressive hard rock, blues, and jazz that you’ll hear prior. Apparently the band have reformed with original guitarist Ron Hales at the helm, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Snake Eye. In the meantime, any fan of early ’70s hard rock & prog will want to investigate this one.
Sea Of Tranquility – Staff Roundtable (October 2016)
With the song ‘The Journey’s End’, they prove their great potential and you can only regret that the band prematurely shut down. There are also two interesting bonus tracks that actually come from their folk roots. ‘The Journey’ may therefore tempt us. Singer Ron Hales has now brought the group back together and this re-release will be performed live in Hull on 14th October. Let’s see what happens after this reunion. To be continued!
Keys and Chords (October 2016 – Translated)
…The six main album cuts however are worth the price of entry alone, the easy mannered but pinpoint sharp and hugely memorable melodies this outfit were capable of weaving, really quite impressive. Personally I’d never heard of Snake Eye before this welcome Angel Air release, something explained by the fact that these recordings have never actually seen the light of day before. The debut Snake Eye album coming some 44 years too late for them to hit the big time. Which when you consider just how good their music was, is nothing short of a travesty. Fans of Wishbone Ash will lap up The Journey and wonder at what could have been for an undiscovered band that deserved so much more.
Sea Of Tranquility (October 2016)
With such a keen focus on progressive rock bands from the 1970s in the twenty-first century, this one ought to be an instant obscure favorite among music fans…Incredibly, the album has remained unavailable and stored away in the vaults until now. This is definitely one of those glimpses into a band that could’ve been huge…if all the pieces had fallen together like they should have. Sadly, the group threw in the towel not long after they recorded this album. But now (once again, thanks to the fine folks at Great Britain’s Angel Air label) the tracks can finally be heard by everyone. A true lost progressive gem. Fans and critics will love cuts like “The Journey,” “World In A Mountain,” “Don’t Be A Fool,” and “The Journey’s End.” Includes two bonus tracks: “Tolly Cobbold” and “Hoe Down” (recorded live).
babysue (October 2016)