HMO salutes Pete Way who has sadly just passed away aged 69. He’d played in a few different acts and as a solo artist but round these parts he’ll always be the iconic, polka-dotted delinquent in UFO. I’d usually use a post like this to highlight some sort of instrumental prowess but he wasn’t really that kind of player. His main thing was being larger than life. Cool as fuck outfits. Cool as fuck posing. But that’s not to put down his musical abilities. His playing gave UFO’s songs a good kick up the arse and he was a talented writer too. Check out Too Much Of Nothing. It’s a rare example of a UFO tune that was solely written by Way. Taken from their 1975 album Force It, it’s a dirty down-trodden rocker with a carefree lift in its chorus. And there’s a good bit of the Way persona in the lyrics: overdoses, habits, just rolling along. It’s not one of the band’s standout moments but it’s a great deep cut and it holds its own on an album that is stacked to the gills with classics. So there was more to Way than just throwing shapes. But still… there’s a reason I own a Firebird bass. Because Pete Way was cool as fuck.
“My soul has vanished, with the bird that flies so free”
They’re not a metal band by any stretch of the imagination, but Sister Seagull is definitely one of Be-Bop Deluxe’s more metal-friendly tunes. It’s one of those watery psychedelic ballads that hard rock and metal bands used to do in the 70s and early 80s. Judas Priest, Scorpions, UFO, Angel Witch, Iron Maiden… they’ve all done them! But this is one of the best. Sister Seagull has a simple D5-E5 riff that is very metal and because metal fans are suckers for a guitar god, check out Bill Nelson’s fluid and cascading pentatonic soloing. Loads of bands might have recorded songs like this, but few did it with the sheer class and expressive emotion of Sister Seagull.
Or, as an added bonus, check out this magnificently-trousered performance from the Old Grey Whistle Test.
Do you ever want to write about or review an album and just feel unequal to the task? I feel that way about The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! The New Yorkers’ 1975 debut album has got so much going on. It was a critical success and commercial failure and manages to be classic and overlooked at the same time.
I’m not really comfortable talking about its supposed punk influence either, given I’m not a big punk fan. This always just sounded like fun, back-to-basics rock n’ roll to me: Louie Louie riffs, The Who and The Beach Boys with teenage, street level attitude and a ton of pop culture references thrown in. It’s an album that I love but I’m reluctant to recommend. Especially if, like me, you came at this from a Manowar direction and want to hear where guitarist Ross the Boss started out. After hearing the lamentable cover of I Got You Babe and the silly Back to Africa you’re going to wonder what the hell is going on. (Anyone reading this for Manoreasons should probably check out The Dictators’ third album Bloodbrothers first. It’s quality muscle rock!)
But from the “let’s go” of the fourth track Master Race Rock on, this album is a veritable blast. Two Tub Man, (I Live For) Cars and Girls and Weekend all put such a joyous spring in your step that you wish every rock album was like this. It’s so quirky, arch and fresh. The occasional vocal interjections of “secret weapon” Handsome Dick Manitoba add to the fun too. The album’s second side is so perfect it makes you forget the first one ever happened.
And… Ross the Boss. Fingers and steel, baby! The man is a legend.
So, like I said. I’m not equal to the task of covering this great and weird album. But never mind… with my financial holdings I could be basking in the sun in Florida. This music-writing lark is just a hobby for me! Nothing, ya hear? A HOBBY!