Angel Air SJPCD 065.
Running time: 74m 29s
1BBC John Peel Show session
After Nigel Benjamin left Mott again took a long time to find a replacement. Morgan Fisher worked for a while with British prog-rockers Medicine Head (they had a couple of hit singles in 1973/4), contributing to their 1977 album and helping out on their tour. They too were on the point of breaking up, so Morgan suggested to John Fiddler (vocals/guitar) that they join forces.
Realising they couldn't carry on as Mott any more, they changed their name to British Lions. In fact, it was a clean break with the past, with new management (Colin Johnson, Status Quo's manager) and a new record deal (Vertigo, which Quo were also signed to). They were duly dispatched to the studios to record a couple of singles and b-sides but came out instead with a whole album so well did things "click" in the studio. It is a shame, therefore, that it has taken so long for this material to be released on CD.
This is a good album, packed full of good songs, a mix of covers and originals. One More Chance To Run is a strong opener (and was released as a single), Break This Fool comes complete with a Bo Diddley riff, but International Heroes comes dangerously close to being a poor man's ATYD. Big Drift Away is another hightlight, starting quietly but building strongly. Booster is another up-tempo rocker and almost punky in style. The original LP closed with the decidedly tongue-in-cheek Eat The Rich ("...they're filthy! I said FILTHY!").
Of the bonus tracks, the three BBC session tracks are rougher than their studio counterparts, but are nonetheless a welcome upgrade on the tape that has circulated amongst fans all these years.
Wild One is much rougher round the edges, and would surface later as Lay Down Your Love on the Lions' second album. Eat The Rich: The Second Course is interesting: it is a demo, with the guitars much lower in the mix, and a much faster tempo - you could almost look at this as a "fast" version, with the original as the "slow" version. Very keyboard-heavy, it works very well and is closer to how the Lions performed this song live.
The last three tracks are demos recorded by John Fiddler and Ray Major in 1979, shortly after the Lions disbanded. Can't Get Over You is the standout track here with a light, poppy feel to it.
The sound quality throughout the CD is excellent, my only gripe being the (I'm sure accidental) change in running order - Fork Talkin' Man having swapped places with Break This Fool. The booklet is written as always by Dale Griffin, and is excellent and informative.
Good tho' it was, this album was released at the height of punk (1978), and died a death in the UK. US sales were strong, however (it nudged the lower reaches of the album charts). This reviewer can't help thinking that if John Fiddler had joined in 1975 (ie after Ian left) then the Lions would have "made it". The evidence is all here on this CD, what more convincing do you need?