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Music Review: Robin George & The Byron Band (re-mastered) – Crying Diamonds / Dangerous Music Live ’85, On The Rocks

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In the UK there is a Parliamentary tradition that sees MPs having to “declare an interest” if there is a possible conflict of interest. Today I bring this fine old convention into the realms of Classic Eurorock.

You see, when it comes to some of the recent Angel Air re-releases, particularly in the case of Robin George, I too have to “declare an interest.” The reason is explained below but let me first give you the low down on this excellent batch of recent re-releases.

Crying Diamonds / Dangerous Music Live ‘85. (SJPCD330)

 This generous set brings us Robin George’s 2006 studio album Crying Diamonds along with Dangerous Music Live ‘85. Both discs have been specially re-mastered by Robin, a renowned producer, contain an impressive list of bonus material, and have sleeve-notes by yours truly.

Robin, as the aforementioned informative sleeve-notes will tell you (okay I know; a “conflict of interest”) has worked with some of the biggest names. These include Phil Lynott, Robert Plant, John Wetton (Asia) , Ted Nugent, Roy Wood (The Move, ELO) and Pete May (UFO). He also has a long and impressive list of production credits to his name.

Recent Robin related re-releases include the Marshall Law album Power Game, Damage Control’s Raw, and Cocoon by his band Life, all previously reviewed on Classic Eurorock.

One name missing from that list is David Byron. It was in the former Uriah Heep vocalist’s post Heep project The Byron Band that Robin first caught the eye. But more of that later.

The 18 tracks that make up the set for Crying Diamonds include standouts such as “Learn The Dance”, which he co-wrote with Byron, a fiery “Judy”, and the reflective yet deceptively powerful pair “Yesterday’s News” and “Thanks For The Memories.”

A breezy “Flying” sits nicely with the ballad “Loving You” and the Lennonesque title track which he co-wrote with Phil Lynott. Also included are the memorable “Haunted” and Phil Lynott’s Elvis ode “King’s Call.”

The Uriah Heep connection re-appears within the bonus tracks. “Chance Of A Lifetime” was co-written with another former Heep singer Pete Goalby.

The second CD, Dangerous Music Live ‘85, sees Robin on the road running through a set list that includes opener “Showdown”, “No News Is Good News”, “Heartline”, and the title track. The 12 track set ends with “Don’t Turn Away” and is furthered enhanced by four bonus tracks from the BBC 1 In Concert Series recorded in Paris.

It was a gig that impressed Phil Lynott so much that when he began plans for a new Thin Lizzy it was Robin he began working with. Sadly, it was not to be as Phil passed away at the end of the year.

This album captures a band that was clearly firing on all cylinders, delivering a vibrant, and road tightened set.

On The Rocks- The Byron Band (SJPCD335)

David Byron’s first post-Heep project saw him form the band Rough Diamond alongside Clem Clempson. After one album came a return to solo work and the album Baby Faced Killer. After that he formed what was to be his last band, The Byron Band.

For this he invited up and coming guitar hero Robin George and the two formed a solid song writing partnership and a friendship that lasted until the singers tragically early death in 1985. Their sole album On The Rocks has also been re-released by Angel Air with bonus material, excellent artwork, and the same bloke writing the notes again!

This links in nicely with another Angel Air re-release Lost & Found which is a treasure trove of tapes of The Byron Band that Robin had in his private collection. Classic Eurorock’s review can be found here. It includes a rare and latter day live performance from David Byron with his band at a gig in Liverpool.

Again I have to declare an interest. When I was writing a biography of David Byron, Born To Perform, I contacted Robin to see if he could add some memories of his time with The Byron Band. Not only did he provide some excellent stories but his affection and admiration for David shone through loud and clear.

It was at this point that he remembered the Lost & Found tapes and set about releasing them. It made the hard work of the book, (now out of print – having sold out in days – just put that in for any would be publisher out there!) more than worthwhile.

This re-mastered release comes with excellent art work, including a centre spread reproduction of the elusive poster from the original vinyl release, and three bonus tracks. These all help highlight the ongoing potential of the band and confirm that there really should have been a second album.

For fans of David Byron both On The Rocks, and Lost & Found are absolute must-haves. David has often been dismissed as a spent force during this period as his growing problems with alcohol took hold. These sets prove otherwise in dramatically strong fashion with the charismatic vocal presence of this much missed performer as strong as ever.

Crying Diamonds / Dangerous Music Live ’85 is available via Angel Air catalogue number SJPCD330 and On The Rocks as SJPCD335. Details of both can be found on their website and on Robin George’s official site.

Watch this space on Eurorock for Robins latest project Love Power. This sees him alongside ex-Medicine Head and British Lion John Fiddler, former Climax Blues guitarist Pete Haycock, ex Mott The Hoople keysman Blue Weaver, and Charley Charlesworth who appears on Dangerous Music Live ’85, among others.

Follow the many links above for details on all these releases and more.

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