HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

ZERO DOWN
Good Times At The Gates Of Hell (Zero Down)

Hands, er, down, Seattle's Zero Down are America's best unsigned band, and to be that, you gotta have more than one beer-bongin' record of clanging rock God-ness, and well, Zero Down have two, '05's Old Time Revival and now this Ed Repka-painted ripper. Wild West snake-charming codger with a Gatling gun? Get outta town or die tryin'! It's the perfect image for this band's wisenheimer biker-bloody roots rock, "Hawk-the-mountain" roaring above a molten stomp like the most commercial stuff ever to come out of Tank and Warfare, crossed with the southern stomp of forgotten bike icons The Boyzz or Australia's hapless yet loveable Heaven. At the maniacal extreme there's Motorhead and on a sweet 'n' sinewy tack, Thin Lizzy. But most potent is the guitar-slingin' middle ground that sounds like the nasty Nugent of now (Craveman and Love Grenade), highlights being 'Knotty Pine' and 'Die Wasted', both globbed up with finger-in-socket electrics applied to anthemic manna from The Marquee. Who'd have thought the best bullet-belted NWOBHM band in the business would come from Seattle? Punch, kapow, wallop... it's one after another, until all ten have sweated out of yer pores in a perfect 40 minutes of heavy, snake-bit hookery.
Rating 9

GILLAN
Live At The Marquee 1978 (Angel Air)

Surprisingly, Gillan was already a semi-experienced club band with a fetching record to its name by 1978, when they set up rockscrabble shop at The Marquee for a three day stint, a warm-up to their fabled Reading gig. Captured on tape here then, is a pre-classic lineup of oddballs almost as odd as the bombing Ian Gillan Band of the few years previous. The sound is quite bad - this ain't much better than a boot, but at least we get to hear 'Secret Of The Dance', 'I'm Your Man', 'Message In A Bottle' and 'Dead Of Night' in all their punk/anti-punk glory. 'Child In Time' under the low fidelity circumstances sounds abysmal (plus it's just boring), and why on earth 'Lucille'... And I suppose 'Smoke On The Water' is a given, but 'Woman From Tokyo' is perennially over-rated by both Ian and his Purple pals. Glad to have this glimpse at songwriting genius though, and also in a positive light, the cover art and the booklet is a step in the right direction for Angel Air, supplier of usually quite low rent graphics. What a great band and band chemistry though, and in that I am including the one-record Steve Byrd, whose inventiveness and spark touching off the whole Gillan idea deserves more credit. Low grade reflects, simply, crunchy crap sound and only half the 11 songs truly stepping up to value.
Rating 5.5

Hard Reviews Page 5