Angel Air SJPCD075
Running time: 73m 37s
British Lions were in a bind at the end of 1978. They wanted to concentrate on the USA more, as they were convinced Stateside success was just around the corner. They recorded this album with that in mind, and although different from their first it is still distinctly 'Lions.
However, RSO, the Lions' American label, passed on this album despite it being aimed at the American market. In the UK, Vertigo followed suit which led to the demise of the band. Eighteen months later, Cherry Red records obtained the rights to it and released it in the UK, although it soon became difficult to find. At long last, Angel Air have released it on CD, and a welcome release it is too. Like the British Lions CD, this is a USA/Japan release only, although a specialist importer should be able to supply it in the UK.
The original eight tracks (2 through to 9 on the CD) are presented, together with a bevvy of bonus tracks. There's the heavy, crunching Any Port In A Storm, the lightwieght, almost poppy Lady Don't Fall Backwards and (Won't You Give Him) One More Chance, the brutal Electric Chair and the stark High Noon.
However, look beyond the original tracks and you'll find some real gems in the bonus tracks. There are the fun promos the Lions put together ready for the Stateside promotion they were sure would come on the album's release. One More Chance To Run is a quite decent demo of the Lion's first single, with John Fiddler overdubbing on the band's live-in-the-studio demo. The Studio Song is a hilarious ditty put together by Overend Watts, chronicling the antics of a few of the behind-the-scenes characters involved in the making of the album.
Eat The Rich is yet another arrangement of the song from the Lions' first album, this time done in the style of Status Quo. The arrangement is very much in the style of Roll Over Lay Down, and suits the song very well. A powerful live version of Medecine head's Rising Sun follows, recorded live at Friars Aylesbury at their Xmas gig 1977. Any thoughts that the encores (which featured Ian Hunter) might one day be released are dashed as the sleeve notes reveal they weren't recorded.
The sound changes noticeably for the next three live tracks, it being obvious that JB's Club in Dudley is much smaller. The Chuck Berry number Come On is punky, snotty almost, while My Life's In Your Hands is a good performance of the track from their first album. Wild One is a better live version than was featured on the British Lions CD; listen closely and you'll realise it is an early version of Lay Down Your Love.
The final track is a morphing of all the USA radio promos - all playing together, one on top of the other. So you get about half a dozen Buffins, Morgans and John Fiddlers all talking at once. Terrible thought, I know...
The CD comes with a 16-page booklet written by Dale griffin, John Fiddler, Ray Major and Morgan Fisher, detailing the background to the recording of the album and the events leading to the band's demise.
I like this album, and it withstands repeated playing. The bonus tracks are a delight, and prove (if proof were needed) that the Lions did indeed have enormous potential and their demise robbed the world of a mighty fine band.Adrian Perkins