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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Rough Diamond - 1977 Rough Diamond
Rough Diamond - 1977 Rough Diamond

ARTIST: Rough Diamond
ALBUM: Rough Diamond
LABEL: Island
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 2007, Island, IMCD 55219490-2


LINEUP: David Byron - vocals * Clem Clempson - guitars * Geoff Britton - drums * Damon Butcher - keyboards * Willie Bath - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock N Roll * 02 Lookin' For You * 03 Lock & Key * 04 Seasoning * 05 By The Horn * 06 Scared * 07 Hobo * 08 The Link * 09 End Of The Line

David Byron's legendary bouts with alcoholism lead to his firing from Uriah Heep in 1976 which signaled the end of an era for a band that would never really scale the same heights of stardom again. Not to be deterred, Byron had already released 'Take No Prisoners' with mixed results so working outside of Uriah Heep wasn't necessarily a shock when it came time to form a new band. Enlisting the help of former Snafu, East of Eden and Wings drummer Geoff Britton and adding ex Bakerloo, Colosseum and Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson to the line-up, Rough Diamond were immediately signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records.

The Songs
When I first heard this, I was surprised just how 'un-Heep' this album sounds. Gone are the crunchy organs, sci-fi lyrics and progressive rock moves of Byron's previous band, and even his vocal style is turned down a notch or two offering up a bluesy and at times moody sound. This can be of no doubt attributed to the influence of Clempson who had just come off a tour with Steve Marriott, but Byron shows just what a versatile vocalist he had the power to be; whether it be full blown rockers like 'By the Horn' or ballads like the beautiful 'Seasoning' which reminds me of Derek & The Dominos in spots with Clempson's Eric Clapton-like fretwork.

In Summary
Island Records certainly supported the band with a good deal of promotion using both the Uriah Heep angle and Geoff Britton's Wings connection to lure potential record buyers. Rough Diamond toured the U.S supporting Peter Frampton and playing New York's Madison Square Garden third on the bill with Ted Nugent and headliners Black Sabbath, but the album went nowhere and the band split. Byron would go on releasing mediocre albums until he passed away in 1985 from years of alcohol abuse which is a shame. David Byron was one of the best vocalists of his time and with a little more polish and given the opportunity to record a second album, Rough Diamond might have developed into something more than just a minor one-off.

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#1 | rkbluez on July 06 2011 02:16:22
Really like to see this one get a CD had some really good songs especially 'Lock and Key and End Of The Line' with that good heavy blues riffin' going on...maybe a label like Lemon that releases a lot of Island releases will see fit to do this one a decent CD release.
#2 | super80boy on March 15 2014 16:17:13
With the talent assembled here, this debut was good with a couple of fillers thrown into the mix…As mentioned above though, a little more time together could have yielded even better results. 'Lock and Key' is a solid bluesy melodic rocker. 'Seasong' is a well developed ballad with nice melody changes and guitar work. Another standout is the rumbling rocker 'Hobo' with its bluesy influences.
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