Fist - Bolted Door
Brief history lesson: Fist were a mid-level Canadian band through the low '80s ('79 - '85), producing five records vastly different from each other over that period, of which 1981's Fleet Street is considered by a few lugans like me as a classic. Inexplicably called Myofist in the states, the band went through numerous lineup changes, with the gruff-voiced Ron Chenier being its leader. Now based in Winnipeg, Ron has been struggling through crap label politics for years to get the band's albums reissued, but in the meantime has made Bolted Door. And man, listening with fresh ears... who knows what anybody is going to think of this? All I can tell you is that I totally dig the recapturing of Fleet Street's magic, which essentially embodies the unique chemistry of Ron's hoary biker voice singing melodically, over '70s-styled hard rock, with retro-'80s keyboards and a bit of Jon Lord from the '70s. Got that? Did I forget to mention the rudimentary structures not without a trace of punk? Yes, it's a weird mix, but he packs it all in, Bolted Door taking you back to a sound ground 'round the pubs of Northern Ontario by the likes of Coney Hatch, Helix only beginning to have a clue, and bands straddling radio rock like Headpins, Toronto, Harlequin, Prism, Hellfield and Madcats. Call me arcane and obscure (many have), but I'm digging this rough and raw, sweet and sour collection of very likeable songs and hooks laced with judiciously doled out heaviness. My rating is to serve as a caution - Bolted Door is of an old school many did then, and more will now, find foolish. I call it brave and unique and testimony to how different people can be.
Stampede - Hurricane Town
Back in the NWOBHM, there were a few bands valiantly trying to be a little radio-friendly. One was called Def Leppard, but there was also Shy, Chrome Molly, and at the heavier end, Wildfire and Glaswegians Heavy Pettin'. Stampede nestled in amongst them, but had an appealing '70s guitarishness to their pomp rock, courtesy of the band's standout talent axe seducer Laurence Archer, who would play craps for UFO but not much else of radar-blipped merit. Hurricane Town was the band's second of two albums, the first being a dodgy live spread. Shackled by artery-clogged production, the album nonetheless hums along at a hapless level of happy efficiency, Laurence's stepdad Reuben Archer singing the thing out of a syrupy throat that was an acquired taste, unlike, well, syrup, which most people like straight off. And speaking of Reuben, he's been collared to do the prologue to the killer liner notes (no less than three UK scribe legends chime in) for this typically info-rich Rock Candy reissue. Bonus tracks consist of four collectibles from steely, electric pre-Stampede band Lautrec. See www.rockcandyrecords.com for more. Or actually don't - Derek Oliver and his boys amusingly don't seem to want to do anything with it.