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Bandera - 1981 Knights

ARTIST: Bandera
ALBUM: Knights
YEAR: 1981


LINEUP: Lore Orion - vocals, guitars * Eric Butler - guitars, vocals * Harry Robinson - guitars * Paul Uhrig - bass, vocals * Tom Jones - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Billy the Kid * 02 Loaded Gun * 03 Crazy You, Crazy Me * 04 High Ridin' Mama * 05 Memories Of Home * 06 Hello Texas * 07 Illegal * 08 Now That It's Over * 09 Old Rhymes and Photographs * 10 Blame It on the Full Moon

Led by the phenonemal talent of Lore Orion, this is a seemingly forgotten one off Southern Rock classic recorded in Nashville belying the albums title which is actually the hometown of Orion, down in Texas. Orion began his career as an artist, designing album covers for bands like New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, not to mention writing childrens books and writing movies. Somehow Orion found time to form Bandera, relocating to Nashville to record their lone album, the musicians playing here all local session musicians, and a list of whom I am unable to locate (it's ok Alun.. I found them for ya.. Ed). This is vintage Southern Rock and one of the best obscurities of the genre I've heard to date. It goes to show how strong the scene was that this passed the record buying public by without incident, it's that convincing and well played.

The Songs
There's nothing here but good time rocking, with 'Billy The Kid' laying waste to the competition instantly, the punchy riffs made to dance to in some dilapidated bar in Tennessee amongst a group of good old Southern boys. 'Loaded Gun' has a moodier sense of urgency, and this is slightly more melodic rock inclined along the lines of 100% Whole Wheat's 'Heart Of The Mountain'. There's nothing but fun to be had with 'High Ridin' Mama', Texan boogie that blows ZZ Top away for effect, this being the genuine article. Ballads aren't out of the question, the stunning 'Memories Of Home' really capturing the essence of the Southern scene of the early 80's, great atmospheric power here in the guitar work. Laying it on even thicker is 'Hello Texas' which is another roll in the hay jaunt, full steam ahead boogie. The album takes an interesting turn with a trio of AOR flavoured tracks, the first 'Illegal' recalling the Atlanta Rhythm Section circa 'Quinella' and was also recorded by Tim McGraw (a.k.a Mr Faith Hill.. Ed) whom Orion penned a host of tracks for. Southern AOR never had it better than 'Now That It's Over', particularly the melodic riffs, and this is simply superb as a whole. Rounding this out is 'Old Rhymes And Photographs' which sounds like Alabama at their most commercial AOR peak, therefore ensuring the quality. Nothing more than a full tilt rocker would end this on a high note and 'Blame It On A Full Moon' delivers on a grand scale. Every track here works and this is a clear cut classic.

In Summary
A shame this was destined to be Bandera's only shot, this being up there with the best of the best. For out and out hard rocking, it cannot be faulted in any capacity. Orion went on to return to Bandera itself and write songs for a host of Country artists, which ensured his success at making a living from rock despite 'Knights' going nowhere. Apparently Orion is a real Country boy with Texas in his blood and is the 'lifetime president' of 'Citizens For A Wilder West'. Just from an airing of 'Knights' and you'll know where Orion's heart lay. A man of many talents, but this is the way he should be remembered. Someone needs to issue this on CD, it deserves to be heard by anyone claiming to be fan of this type of rock. It's simply unbeatable.

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This article has been tagged
Tags: Bandera 
#1 | super80boy on March 14 2015 23:38:31
Thanks for bringing this obscurity to the light of day; it's definitely worth the cheap admission prices that are being charged for it in the marketplace. Can't discount that creative album artwork too! As stated in the above stellar review, there's a bunch of outstanding Southern AOR rock cuts to indulge in.
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