In some people’s minds, Samson are often considered either a second division act of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or simply “that band that Bruce Dickinson used to be in”. While neither is technically incorrect – historically, most NWOBHM bands are now second division compared to scene titans Iron Maiden and Saxon, and Bruce was in the band – such basic thinking does Samson a massive disservice. By the time they’d recorded their debut album in 1979, the band were actually at the forefront of the emerging scene. They were one of the first to release a full length album and despite some fluctuation in early line-ups, at their best, they could more than hold their own when it came to hard rock entertainment.
‘Get Carter’ is widely considered to be one of the great British crime thrillers of the era. The 1971 film really helped to cement Michael Caine’s popularity, but as much as featuring various quotable lines and a timeless performance from the beloved British actor, the film is also fondly remembered for its film score.
The 70s were an incredibly fertile time for music. The decade began with the earlier purveyors of hard rock and metal – Deep Purple, Black Sabbath et al – and ended in a similar fashion with bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon spearheading what had been dubbed the New Wave of Heavy Metal. Somewhere between the two metal-oriented goalposts, funk begat disco and progressive rock roamed the landscape like a giant self-indulgent behemoth; punk inspired a generation to create DIY sounds and the likes of ELO, David Essex, 10cc and Pilot were at the forefront of pop perfection. David Bowie and Marc Bolan bought androgyny into the mainstream and Roxy Music looked and sounded like they’d been dropped to earth by aliens. Looking back – maybe with some rose-tinted glasses – the 1970s seemed to be a time when new musical ground was being broken month after month.
Having gained mass popularity from their 1967 debut single ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, Procol Harum’s career started with such force, it seemed they’d have nowhere to go but down. In the late 60s and early 70s, of course, bands weren’t always expected to follow their success – or even achieve success – instantly and that kind of open minded thinking really worked to Procol’s advantage. Across a series of varied but enjoyable albums released between 1967-1970, Gary Brooker, Robin Trower and company were given plenty of room to experiment. With the quirky pop of ‘She Wandered Through The Garden Fence’ (1967), they showed they could hold their own in the psychedelic world; with huge suites (‘In Held ‘Twas In I’, 1969) and an assortment of themed tracks on ‘Home’ (1970) they more than entertained the hardened prog fans; occasional Vaudevillian tendencies showed they also had a sense of fun and with various classically infused tracks they showed themselves as a cut above most musicians of the era. Prog, rock, pomp and even straight blues – for Procol Harum, nothing seemed off limits and yet their early works all still had a genuine coherency that some of their peers lacked.
As is their tradition, Cherry Red Records and their many associated subsidiaries have dozens of fantastic box sets and reissues lined up for the year’s second and third quarters. As we move firmly into Spring, Real Gone picks a few essentials lurking just over the horizon.