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White Spirit - 1980 White Spirit

ARTIST: White Spirit
ALBUM: White Spirit
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2005, Castle Music, CMEDD1143 * 2008, Universal Japan, UICY-93471


LINEUP: Bruce Ruff - vocals * Janick Gers - guitars * Mick Tucker - guitars * Malcolm Pearson - keyboards * Phil Brady - bass * Graeme Crallan - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Midnight Chaser * 02 Red Skies * 03 High Upon High * 04 Way Of The Kings * 05 No Reprieve * 06 Don't Be Fooled * 07 Fool For The Gods * 08 Suffragettes * 09 Back To The Grind * 10 Cheetah * 11 Watch Out

Originating from the humble locality of Hartlepool, British rockers White Spirit came out of the same neck of the woods that produced a slew of bands signed to the Neat Records label. Formed as far back as 1975, these Tyneside rockers released a few 7 inch singles on that label, giving them a presence. Their sound was an interesting amalgam of keyboard based rockers, such as Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Rainbow and Grand Prix. Indeed, Malcolm Pearson's ivory work shines throughout this one-off platter, and a comparison to GP's Phil Lanzon is probably a good reference, notwithstanding Jon Lord. Along with that, guitarist Janick Gers had a reputation as being a Richie Blackmore clone, so no doubt the Deep Purple comparisons would've been well founded. During the early 80's era, the band got a lot of publicity, and fortunately for them, Neat Records sisterly relationship with MCA Records enabled White Spirit to follow in the path in Tygers Of Pan Tang, and get their debut record released through them on a wider scale.

The Songs
The guitars are raw throughout, but given depth because of the lush mainly organ based layers provided by Pearson. Singer Bruce Ruff (Walker) has a good set of pipes, and does justice to the material admirably. On the original LP, there were only seven songs. The subsequent re-release on CD saw an additional four songs (listed below). The Purple-esque riffer 'Midnight Chaser' is an exciting opener, with a nod to some southern boogie flavours too. There is some intricacy to be found on 'Red Skies', with a hint of Saracen in the mix, no doubt due to the darker musical shades applied. Grand Prix fans rejoice! 'High Upon High' could very well be a GP out-take, so melodic in approach - great song. At five and a half minutes, 'Way Of The Kings' is the first of two epics on the album. Spirit take a fighting stance on 'No Reprieve', while the Purple-isms cannot be denied on 'Don't Be Fooled'. Even the ten minute wonder of 'Fool For The Gods' could have parts of it attributed to DP (how about 'Child In Time'?), though there are enough change-up moments here to not fully warrant the comparison.

In Summary
The band released a series of demos in 1981, but no one was putting their hand up to take them onboard. What a shame, as this band had more talent than a bunch of the other bands signed during the course of the NWOBHM movement. They did progress into the 1982/1983 year with a few lineup changes; namely Brian Howe on vocals (later with Ted Nugent and Bad Company), and bassist Toby Sadler (later with Airrace). In later years, keyboardist Malcolm Pearson would hook up with the Lisa Dominique Band, Graham Callan would join Tank, while Janick Gers would later find a home with the Ian Gillan Band and Iron Maiden, replacing Adrian Smith toward the end of the 80's. Sanctuary Records released the album along with a bunch of previously unreleased material on CD during 2005. This is well worth getting. White Spirit are a band that deserves its brief spot in the headlights, and are well worthy of an entry here at GLORY-DAZE.

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#1 | Jez on June 13 2008 03:15:19
White Spirit were always more than a NWOBHM band as they had a big Pomp edge to them with keyboards to the fore on alot of their material - think Deep Purple(who they are very reminiscent of on a couple of tracks) Uriah Heep and Styx. Thier debut single on Neat Records 'Back To The Grind' was an excellent Pomp track very Shooting Star like in sound. 'Red Skies','High Upon High' and 'Fool For The Gods' are the more Pomp sounding tracks and are without doubt the best ones on offer. Bear in mind this album was recorded over 25 years ago and on a relatively small budget,the sound is fine and hasn't aged any worse than alot of albums from the time.
#2 | Eric on September 10 2008 14:17:51
One of the great NWOBHM albums and played it death after I was lucky enough to find it in an import bin. Right up there with Dark Star, Angel Witch.
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