With my nose pressed up against the window of a record store, I waited for the doors to open. The year was 1974, I was 16, and the object of my eager anticipation was the release of Move It the latest album from West London band Stray.
I had, by then, played their previous albums, the self titled debut, 1971’s Suicide, the magnificent Saturday Morning Pictures, and 1973’s timeless Mudanzas, to death and was in desperate need of more. To whet my appetite further I watched them 'live' as often as I could. This was a band rich in attitude, and presence, who simply rocked.
You won’t read a single review that doesn’t harp on about how Stray could have been huge. In my mind they were. Even now I still drag out their entire back catalogue and introduce people to the band that should have been a household name. They toured the States, sold an impressive amount of albums, and had it not been for the usual rip off deals would have achieved even more.
Sadly, they called it quits after the Hearts Of Fire album in 1976. Latterly, with the original band members scattered far and wide, guitarist Del Bromham has kept the Stray flag flying as far as humanly possible and in 1997 released the tentative New Dawn.
This was followed in 2001 with the hard edged Ten. When the Time Machine Anthology was followed by re-issues of their albums it set the scene for more to come.Well it’s here, Valhalla that is, the new album from Del Bromham’s Stray.
However, when it arrived on my doormat I must admit that I approached it with some trepidation. Having played a huge part in my addiction to rock, I was more than a little concerned that instead of the trademark exploding dustbin effect it could be something of a damp squib. Well I’m happy to eat not only my ill-judged fears, but my doormat as well. I was totally wrong.
This is an excellent rock album that sits proudly alongside the band's impressive history. Del has morphed over the years into a confident and entertaining front man, taking on both vocal duties along with his trademark guitar pyrotechnics. He is the face of today’s Stray, aware of the heritage that the name carries with it, and keen to carry it ever forward.