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Music Review: Life – Cocoon Angel Air Records Remastered Re-Release

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Recorded in the mid 90s by the band Life, Cocoon has finally seen the light of day courtesy of this re-mastered release by Angel Air Records. Life was one of many projects by renowned guitarist and producer Robin George who has worked with a veritable Who’s Who of rock throughout his career.

Included in this list are Robert Plant, Phil Lynott, original Uriah Heep singer David Byron, John Wetton of Asia, Ted Nugent, Roy Wood, and Pete Way of UFO and Waysted fame.

Life initially appeared in 1980 with their single “Too Late” b/w “Castles.” The band at that time consisted of Robin, alongside future Who bassist Pino Palladino, and keyboard player Mark Stanway, later of Magnum. They were joined by the ex- Trapeze pair of Pete Wright and drummer Dave Holland, who would later join Judas Priest.

The Life project was temporarily shelved when Robin found himself very much in demand amid a period of frantic activity. He was involved in numerous projects as both musician and producer as his reputation for both took off.

These included work with David Byron in The Byron Band, production work for Witchfinder General, and teaming up with Phil Lynott. He was also busy with his own projects namely Notorious, and his tour band Dangerous Music. In addition to this he produced Marshall Law's album Power Game, recently reviewed here on Classic Eurorock.

He was also part of a potential ‘supergroup’ alongside John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Phil Manzanera, and Don Airey before deciding to resurrect the Life name. This time he brought in singer Nick Tart, now with Diamond Head, bass player Chris Cliff, and renowned keyboard player John Young. The line-up was completed by the addition of the perfectly named drummer Warren Beater.

Robin had noticed Nick Tart back in 1992 at a gig in Dudley and was clearly impressed by the strength of his voice and his versatility. This sets informative sleeve notes written by Joe Geesin tell how the singer was somewhat in awe of the stellar cast of vocalists that Robin had already worked with.

As the reformed Life toured extensively across the UK they also found time to begin recording the album at Robin’s Dangerous Music Studio. It took the best part of a year to complete. It was initially released in 1997 on a small independent label but with very little publicity the album all but disappeared.

Listening to this now it is clear that Robin’s hard edged, yet commercial approach, for Life deserved much better. Fortunately Angel Air has embarked on a series of timely Robin George re-releases, re-mastered, as in this case, by Robin himself.

These include Marshall Law’s Power Game, Damage Control’s Raw, The Byron Band’s On The Rocks, the Notorious album Radio Silence, and a double set comprising of Dangerous Music Live and the studio album Crying Diamonds, the last three with sleeve notes by yours truly. Sorry I just had to get that in!

Cocoon blasts in with the band’s version of Robin’s “Dangerous Music.” Also included are “Good Times”, a George/Sean Harris track dating from their time together with Notorious, and a track jointly written with Nick Tart, “The Language Of Love”, one that is screaming out for airplay. The majority of the rest are straight from the pen of Robin George.

The anticipated quality is there from the start with Nick doing an excellent job and seizing the opportunity that would later result in him stepping in for Harris in the reformed Diamond Head. Other highlights include “Freeride”, a deceptively powerful “Don’t Come Crying”, and the excellent ballads “Oxygen” and “Losing You."

A memorably powerful funk fuelled “What Goes Around Comes Around”, and a standout “I Believed In You” are both tracks that more than justify this re-release. The latter provides another excellent vocal performance from Nick alongside Robin’s vibrant guitar.

“Judy “ and “Let It Burn” ensure that the quality is more than maintained before “The End Of The Line” brings this fifteen track album to a close. Quite how Cocoon failed to get off the starting blocks back when it was originally released is a mystery. Timing is all important and its low key release, despite the band's heavy touring schedule, ensured that it became a lost gem.

Whilst touring with Life Nick was approached by none other than Jason Bonham who wanted him to be the vocalist in his own band Bonham. Maybe he could hear shades of his famous dad’s Zeppelin colleague in the voice. One listen to Cocoon will provide the answer.

Thankfully Angel Air has once again given an otherwise lost album an outlet. It is made all the more impressive by Robin's expert remastering. For details of this and those other Robin George related re-releases, and a whole host more please visit the following link to the Angel Air Records website.

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