1972 AD. The year that bored suburban teens attempted to resurrect Dracula, in a much maligned Hammer film that’s actually quite good fun. The year that Bolan’s musical craft was at its most perfect; the year Ziggy Stardust came to Earth and changed Bowie’s fortunes forever.
The word supergroup can sometimes be overused, even applied to bands whom seem nothing of the sort, but Frontiers signings Phantom 5 fall squarely into that category, with every member having already made a name for themselves as part of a German melodic rock band. Vocalist Claus Lessmann will be best known to most as a founder member of Bonfire; Michael Voss recorded as a member of Demon Drive before joining Bonfire and touring with Michael Schenker; drummer Axel Kruse scored previous accolades with the much loved Jaded Heart and guitarist Robby Boebel first found fame as a member of the brilliant Frontline. That line-up alone would stand Phantom 5 in good stead with regard to past experience and future potential, but the addition of ex-Scorpions bassist Francis Buchholz is the icing on the Euro cake. In terms of German melodic rock line ups – short of including of Matthias Jabs – you’d be hard pressed to find a better band of brüders.
At an unspecific point in 1979, my dad arrived home from work carrying a long playing record. It turned out to be the new Police album. At this point, ‘Message In a Bottle’ had been all over the radio and I knew I liked this new music. My mum, on the other hand did not have quite the same enthusiasm; she’s a bit put out that this does not have ‘Roxanne’ on it. Presumably, the album – like others – had been purchased at Barnaby’s, a record shop (no longer there) very near my dad’s then place of employment; a giant tin shed in which he worked with dangerous acidic chemicals and little regard for health and safety. That Police album (‘Reggatta De Blanc’) got played a lot. If I think hard, I can still see Dad sitting by his Fidelity stereo system lifting the needle onto the record and playing the title track over and over and I remember thinking how fitting it was that the word emblazoned on the front looked a bit like the word fiddle. That piece of music must have spoken to him: decades later, he would still attract my attention by calling my name to the tune of that track.
The sight of my dad coming home with new music in this way was not entirely uncommon.
After losing three members following the release of their debut album, Scorpions vocalist Klaus Meine and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker merged with the remnants of a band named Dawn Road. Though the Scorpions name was chosen for the newly formed quintet, in terms of overall sound, their second album credited to Scorpions is a world away from their first. In fact, there are huge chunks of 1974’s ‘Fly To The Rainbow’ where the only recognisable feature is Klaus Meine’s vocal, and even that, in many places, has developed in style.
In the world of rock music sleeve art, one artist’s name can be found cropping up time and again: Storm Thorgerson. His graphic design companies Hipgnosis and Storm Studios were responsible for so many instantly recognisable pieces of art. Some of them are now so much part of popular culture, they are almost taken for granted by music lovers.