Back in 2003 I had a book published. The title, Born To Perform was given to me by one of my all time musical heroes Ken Hensley. The subject was given to me by years of admiration for one of rock’s most charismatic front men, David Byron, the original vocalist with Uriah Heep.
As part of my research for the book I contacted guitarist Robin George. He was kind enough to answer my questions, the answers to which revealed a great fondness for David, who had died in 1985.
During our contact Robin referred to some tapes he had of his time with The Byron Band. Several months later they were released as a two CD set entitled Lost And Found. This set has now been re-released on the Angel Air label.
Post-Heep, David Byron had formed a band called Rough Diamond along with former Wings drummer Geoff Britton, and Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson. After one self-titled album David left to embark on a solo career which produced two further albums Take No Prisoners and Baby Faced Killer.
He then teamed up with Robin to form The Byron Band who released the 1981 album On The Rocks. The tapes that form the set Lost And Found were recorded either side of that album between 1980 and 1982 . It features early studio versions of tracks that made the album and more written in anticipation of a second. The latter, of course, sadly failed to materialize.
The sessions feature not only the excellent guitar skills of Robin George but also world renowned bass player Pino Palladino. Other well known names such as saxophonist Mel Collins, keyboard player Bob Jackson, drummer John Shearer, and bassist Roger Flavelle also appear.
The first CD centers on the sessions from 1982 and includes the timeless melodic rock of “Bad Girl”, an infectiously funky “Learn The Dance”, “Fool For A Pretty Face”, “Need Love”, and “Gets A Little Crazy”. Perhaps the most outstanding example of David’s vocal ability arrives with the very last track on this section, the beautiful “One Minute More”.
Disc Two takes us back to the previous year and rehearsals in London. It is a session numbering six tracks that includes the gorgeous “Safety In Numbers”. Also appearing are two further early versions of tracks that would be on that year’s album On The Rocks, “How Do You Sleep?”, and the sax soaked rocker “Piece Of My Love."
The sessions end with the band having a blast with “Goodnight Blues” and “Last Chance Jam”, both nicely highlighting Robin George’s guitar and arriving complete with studio chat.
Next comes a precious live recording taken from a gig in Liverpool in 1980 just prior to the release of On The Rocks. Kicking off with “Bad Girl” it also includes two Uriah Heep favourites “Sweet Lorraine”, and “July Morning”. The latter is, of course, a song forever associated with David Byron’s time with the legendary band and earns enthusiastic appreciation from the audience.
The gig ends with a pairing of “Liverpool Blues” and “Roll Over Beethoven”. Another very welcome inclusion on the set is the bonus track, the haunting “Angel Song”.
Lost And Found is a lovingly produced and remastered set which is further enhanced by the informative and heartfelt album notes. As Robin points out, “while I was re-mastering the tapes I realized I will never know why on earth the band didn’t get signed for the second album because the songs are really good, there’s a real quality to it.”
It is indeed a mystery and sadly David was allowed to slip further away from the music business before dying, unjustly overlooked and all but forgotten by an industry to whom he had given so much.
Trying to review this release objectively, having already admitted that my fascination and admiration for David Byron led to me writing his biography, is all but impossible.
Suffice it to say that the effect that hearing these tapes, reading the notes, and enjoying this rare live recording instantly revived the reasons for dedicating a year of my life to do so.
This and more goodies from Angel Air Records can be found on their site.
David Byron has his own dedicated fan site which contains many interesting facts from the life of one of rocks most charismatic figures.