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Splitcrow - 1984 Rock Storm

ARTIST: Split Crow
ALBUM: Rock Storm
LABEL: Guardian
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Rob Davidson - vocals, guitars * John Dickinson - guitars * Barry Winlow - bass * Nigel Stewart - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Back Door Blues * 02 Nobody's Gonna Stand In My Way * 03 Another Day Another Dollar * 04 Lookin' Through These Miles * 05 In The Heat Of The Night * 06 Stir Crazy * 07 Bar Room Strut * 08 Sweet Darlin' * 09 Everybody Needs Somebody To Love * 10 Come On 'N' Dance With Me

Here's another album I had high hopes going into, especially after years of reading their bio in the esteemed Hard Rock And Metal Encyclopedia, which promised a British band playing 'phenomenal southern boogie' despite hailing from Northumberland in England's coastal areas. Not much information is available about Splitcrow, somehow the band has been pegged in with the NWOBHM scene despite musically having nothing in common with metal at all, their album coming after the glory years of that particular era. Does the album compare favourably with heavyweights like Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Point Blank and Lynyrd Skynyrd et al I hear you ask? Partially. To my trained ears there's an explosive element missing here that those bands contained in their prime years, despite some magnificent southern riffs and delivery.

The Songs
John Dickinson has gained a reputation as one of Britain's best slide guitar players over the last two decades, and in all fairness he owns this album, playing in a style that really would have you thinking he was born and raised in the Southern backwoods. Splitcrow must have spent considerable hours studying their American heroes as they had the sound down to a fine art. As stated however something is missing, perhaps a less than strong production. 'Back Door Blues' powers along with foot-stomping rhythm work and blues-ridden soloing, but the drumming lacks real power. 'Nobody's Gonna Stand In My Way' is acceptable boogie, nothing fancy, followed by the Foghat sounding 'Another Day, Another Dollar', which recalls the fellow British boogie boys best days of the mid seventies. Davidson's vocals work is admirable, Ronnie Van Zant inspired clearly, but it can't save the rather limp 'Lookin' Through These Miles'. 'In The Heat Of The Night' adds a little more guitar firepower, sounding as if it was recorded at a different time and place to 'Stir Crazy', which is missing the fuller production, frustratingly thin. The blatantly titled 'Bar Room Strut' reminds me more of Status Quo, the 12 bar boogie so simple but always a pleasure to the ears. 'Sweet Darlin' is a straight country ballad and by the time 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' and 'Come On 'N' Dance With Me' round it out, the interest levels might be flagging such is the stagnant sound, the latter at least as effective as Spider, the other English boogie band of the time treading the same ground.

In Summary
Depending on how basic and traditional you prefer your Southern rock this album can either be viewed as a copycat flop or an exercise in purist boogie. Myself I lean towards the middle, as comparing this to the best of Molly Hatchet is futile, never once do Splitcrow ever reach such legendary heights. Am I missing something? Somehow I don't think so. Splitcrow split in 1986, this their only offering. Dickinson has ground out a formidable solo career to considerable acclaim in England, and it was with some curiosity that I read in 1984 Kerrang! described 'Rock Storm' as the finest British rock album in a decade! Sadly some of the most overblown words ever penned, but that's something the British metal press are no strangers to. Mildly recommended at best, the more obscure US southern acts a better bet for your time and dollars.

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#1 | Eric on December 23 2011 23:20:10
That had to be Xavier Russell proclaiming in Kerrang! this record's alleged greatness. It was OK, but not worth what I paid as an import.

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