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BEARDED LADY ‘The Rise And Fall’ Angel Air SJPCD153 (2004)

Bearded Lady

The 70's were a very productive decade as far as music was concerned. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Judas Priest and Scorpions recorded albums destined to stand the test of time - albums, the sounds of which made many youngsters grab the first available broomstick and perform the art of "air riffing". All these legendary bands made us refer to the 70's (and later the 80's) as the golden period of heavy music. There were also plenty of bands that never managed to become as popular as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The reasons: plenty and in most cases it had nothing to do with how talented the bands were, or how good the quality of their music was.

It was 1971 when Fred Sheriff (Guitars), Chris Peel (Bass), Mickey Irvine (Drums) and Dennis Wilcox (Vocals) formed Elmo's Fire, the original name of Bearded Lady. Soon after the band was formed Dennis Wilcox decided to leave, but the band managed to find, in no time, a new singer called Johnny Warman. The last change in the line up was the substitution of Mickey Irvine with Paul Martin. This line up entered the studio in 1975 and recorded "The Rise and Fall", the bands only studio release. The automatic question would be: Why was "The Rise and Fall" the band's only studio release? The album was released one year before the outbreak of Punk, so there was not enough room in the music industry for bands that listed Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin as their main influences (same old story).

Fortunately for us, Angel Air Records managed to re-release this album twenty seven years after it was originally recorded, and the reason why I say "fortunately": "The Rise and Fall" is a really good 70's Hard Rock album, equally good with any release from the same period. "Rock Star" is the opening track of the album and the band's first single. This song introduced the band to a bigger audience and helped them book venues throughout London.

The Marquee hosted the band more times than any other venue in the capital (the band achieved residency every Saturday night, for a long period of time). In the stage of that legendary venue the band performed songs like "Midnight Flight" (a really catchy rock n' roll tune), "Head-On Collision" (the band sounds like a softer version of Judas Priest), the Hendrix influenced "Floating On The Wind", another rock n' roll classic called "Warning" and "Up in the Air", a weird song with some Punk references.

The best song of the album though is "Lost in a Place", a typical 70's hymn that only a band with plenty of talent could compose. Every band earns the crowd's appreciation on stage and that also applies to Bearded Lady. This Angel Air release contains four bonus live tracks form one of their performances in the "Marquee" - "The Riot", "Silver Box", "Thank You" and "Kerb Crawler". Even though the sound quality of these songs is not the best possible (the songs were recorded by one outside microphone), the crowd's reaction is enough to convince you that Bearded Lady sounded really good live.

Once again I feel lucky to have "discovered" a band which had so much to offer, but didn't manage to for reasons that had so little to do with music!



Review by John Stefanis

Related>> Album review(Johnny Warman)

Buy this CD

© 2004 Angel Air Records. All rights reserved.

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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