Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Trip Back to the Halcyon '70's Metal - Featuring Truth and Janey, and Winterhawk

It’s true. Rock really was better in the 1970’s. You had the stadium fillers like Led Zeppelin and The Who, with bands like Aerosmith and ZZ Top coming up behind them to work the big rooms. Then there were the opening acts that also headlined smaller Civic Centers and theaters like UFO and Nazareth. Below them were the more obscure bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, Captain Beyond and Hard Stuff. And then kind of at the bottom of the food chain were local bands like Truth & Janey and Winterhawk and they kicked ass, too! Where’s the time machine? Can we go back to the golden age of boogie? Who’s coming with me? Fill your wineskin full of Boone’s Farm and bake up plenty of banana peels, we’re going space truckin’ back in time.

Erupts!First stop is Davenport, Iowa 1976 of all places. Long before any member of Slipknot was even a dirty thought in their parents mind, Truth and Janey were making ears bleed. The photos that come with their live CD Erupts! shows 3 dirty longhairs with killer vintage instruments and amplifiers that players fiend over today. The sound is pure power trio rock in the vein of Cream, Grand Funk Railroad and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Loud, bluesy and full of energy. Guitarist Billy Janey rips it up on his Gibson Firebird with a strong Hendrix influence. It sounds like he may have some kind of flange pedal on to give it a bit more of a Robin Trower feel. Billy also handles vocals and belts it out like Jack Bruce. Steve Bock handles the bass (Gibson EB-4, the one shaped like an SG) and Denis Bunce plays a big ass drum kit that would give Dennis Dunaway of Alice Cooper’s band a run for his money.

Erupts! is a guitar fan’s delight. Every song features excellent lead playing and driving rhythms. It’s a big challenge for a 3 piece rock band to fill all the holes in the sound and these guys knew what they were doing. Shorter songs like “Building Walls” and “The Light” contrast nicely with longer workouts like “Tunnel of Tomorrow” and the crowd pleasin’ “Birth Of The Heart.” “Hard Road” is a fast boogie that really cooks. If you’re into Johnny Winter’s live albums from the 70’s you’ll love this record.

There and Back AgainNext stop is Chicago 1978 to check out Winterhawk’s There And Back Again (Live At The Aragon). The band photos show a lot of facial hair, headbands and knee high suede boots so you know this is gonna be good. Winterhawk’s sound is more progressive than Truth and Janey but still total hard rock. Fans of the first 3 or 4 Rush albums are gonna love this. You get 2 guitars, high-pitched vocals, no keyboards and plenty of long songs of swords n sorcery. “Hammer And The Axe” has some nice Wishbone Ash guitar interplay that points the way towards some of the things Iron Maiden would do in the mid 1980’s. “Creatures Of The Sea” is a 13 minute epic with lots of twists and turns to dazzle the musicians in the crowd. I can just see all the young players mentally taking notes while their girlfriends roll their eyes in boredom. This is definitely music for guys.

Both of these albums are worth picking up if you like the 2nd (or 3rd) string heavy rock of bands like Uriah Heep,  Lucifer’s Friend and Leaf Hound. Thank you to the fine folks of the Rockadrome for keeping the mid-tempo heaviness alive in the hearts of burnouts young and old across the globe.


Buy here: Erupts!

Buy here: There and Back Again (Live at the Aragon)

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