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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Various Artists - 1980 Brute Force (NWOBHM Compilation)
Various Artists - 1980 Brute Force (NWOBHM Compilation)

ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM: Brute Force (NWOBHM Compilation)
YEAR: 1980



TRACK LISTING: 01 Diamond Head - It's Electric * 02 Fist - Brain Damage * 03 Raven - Let It Rip * 04 Prowler - Gotta Get back To You * 05 Sledgehammer - Fantasia * 06 Colin Towns - Breakdown * 07 Mick Underwood - Earthquake At The Savoy * 08 White Spirit - Back To The Grind * 09 Quartz - Can't Say No To You * 10 Xero - Hold On * 11 Cryer - Day To Day * 12 May West - Black Queen

While the 'Metal For Muthas' album released early in 1980 always got the recognition showcasing the talents of the NWOBHM, I have always preferred this much lesser known compilation, released later the same year. In fact just 8 months later a second crop of artists were ready to board, what some would already say was a sinking ship. Again many of the ones included here did quickly sink without trace, but some did manage to swim ashore and have healthy careers, even with the already well documented ups and downs. There is even an argument that at the time some of them were already established so maybe MCA were just trying to fill up the gaps with these. During the review I think you can spot the ones I have put in this category. In addition, on the Glorydaze Forum it has recently been discussed the question of did any NWOBHM contain a bit of pomp, well I think a couple below could be added to that debate. MCA Records felt that they were 'witnessing a resurgence of talent so diverse that a situation akin to Liverpool in the 60's is again beginning to develop'. Yes, maybe a little bit of over dramatising the position somewhat, but this record did make one young teenager very happy at the time after my Father picked it up for a couple of pounds from the cut off bins in Woolworths. Yes it has a very dated cover and the marketing boys had gone wild with the promise of 'many more' on the sleeve, takes you back to those K-Tel compilations, which usually meant a load of other rubbish from artists you had never heard of.

The Songs
Diamond Head - It's Electric
The evergreen boys from Stourbridge in the West Midlands soon get plugged in, a blistering rock anthem, while it was other tracks they produced that have provided them with favourable pension plans, their talent was obvious even at this early stage. Of course they went on to produce in my opinion one of the finest albums from the shores of England, with 'Canterbury' in 1983.

Fist - Brain Damage
These guys were much more down to earth, quite raw in some aspects. They had already released a couple of albums and this track shows them in a classic Judas Priest role, minus the leather and chains. Although it does benefit from quite a melodic chorus, that still brings a smile to my face.

Raven - Let It Rip
Another success story and they have shown over the years plenty of staying power and done exceeding well in America, much to my dismay really. I never cottoned on to them that much, even though I foolishly remember sending in my top 3 songs of all time for the Kerrang issue 100, well coming in at my number 3 was Raven's collaboration with the Udo Dirkschneider cover of the Steppenwolf classic, 'Born To Be Wild', I have now become more fickle, but it still gives me nightmares of my poor choice.

Prowler - Gotta Get Back To You
Here is the first of the more interesting groups and obviously the 'many more' described on the sleeve. These guys were formed in the metropolis know as Basildon, they were set in the NWOBHM mould, add to that a touch of Dr Feelgood to the vocals. Very straightforward and probably never amounted to much, but nevertheless an enjoyable romp especially with the long instrumental section when they even managed to incorporate a Russian jig into proceedings. Obviously a more focused band than I credited them to be.

Sledgehammer - Fantasia
A 3 piece monster from Slough, they existed long before the town became the setting of the UK version of The Office. More of a steamroller, groove saturated number, Hawkwind without the hallucinogenic affects. 'Fantasia' shows they were definitely not a (Disney!) cartoon band and while they failed to reach the level of David Coverdale lyrical shenanigans, they did try with 'she wasn't a pretty sight...she took her teeth out', they still managed to provide an impressive heavyweight unit.

Colin Towns - Breakdown
Pomp lives in NWOBHM, the extraordinary Colin Towns, he of Gillan fame and TV and Film soundtracks. Dramatic keyboard opening. This was always my favourite track on the album and was even released as a single, I'm not aware if a full album was on the cards to join this release, I wonder if one is kicking around in the vaults. Best song Gillan never recorded, just exquisite, smoking guitars, cranking piano and Colin's vocals finishes it off to a tee.

Mick Underwood - Earthquake At The Savoy
This is followed neatly by another Gillan member, Mick Underwood of course the drummer and unsurprisingly this is an instrumental and was again issued as a single, maybe to emulate the success of Cozy Powell. Regrettably it failed, however it was not due to the song quality as it's a great tune with Bernie Torme taking equal billing, add John McCoy to the mix and you have a partial Gillan reunion over the course of 2 tracks.

White Spirit - Back To The Grind
These guys could have been a contender and at one stage they were, with a self titled album released in 1980. Faint hints again of pomp with some nice keyboards and guitaring, that together even has hints of Trillion. I forgot how much keyboards were in this tune and really it is first class. Melody, positive chorus, they had some special qualities and will be best remembered due to the inclusion of one Janick Gers in their ranks.

Quartz - Can't Say No To You
One of the more mature bands gracing this album was Quartz. A cross between Magnum and Rage. I am ashamed to admit never picking up any of their albums in the past; actually 'Stand Up And Fight' is covered in GDAZE's 1980 articles. They also had a stab at Mountain's epic, 'Nantucket Sleighride', otherwise known to many UK citizens as the theme tune from the political programme 'Weekend World', that you avoided every Sunday dinnertime. Still, getting back to this tune, it is a well structured song and should not go unnoticed during this period of British rock.

Xero - Hold On
Another favourite is this little beauty, who's only claim to fame is to have a single release withdrawn to the unauthorised appearance of Bruce Dickinson on it, although I managed to track down a copy. With this London based group you are quickly drawn into the shimmering guitar solo, vocal wise, shades of Nicky Moore, once of Tiger, Hackensack, Samson and Mammoth. Xero seem to be able to mix the basics of NWOBHM with more technical aspects, even brushing briefly into prog during the extended instrumental portion of the tune, could they have even been bordering on pomp elements?

Cryer - Day To Day
From the band picture this lot either were straight out of the local art college, iron foundry or just returning from their allotments with a bag full of vegetables. Whatever the case this didn't stop them producing a marvellous and quality rock song. Again the same furrow of early Magnum and contain some pomp credentials, especially with that organ. Essential listening lost to obscurity. This did get a single release with the b-side, 'Hesitate' being just as rewarding.

May West - Black Queen
We finish off with a change of direction. On initial listening it's the really high pitch vocals of Pete Davidson that makes the first impression, while the music is still top grade NWOBHM; the vocals make it a strange combination but again providing another strand to the era.

In Summary
So does it still stand up today? Yes, I am in no doubt that it does. Especially after listening this recently for the first time in years, it still manages to light a fire in my heart. Many of them stick in your mind like melted wax on a candelabra. Even though the cardboard lining of the sleeve has become unstuck at the top I still find after so many years the songs have developed a fine patina which is a deep, mature finish. With the likes of Cryer, Colin Towns and Xero maybe this is a lost market for someone from an opportunist Record Label to promote and capture the excitement that these bands provided in the late 70's and early 80's. There are many other such bands not on this compilation that could do with a second chance, say Geddes Axe (why did I sell 'Escape From New York'?), and for them finally to see the light of day, especially as the prices for such rarities are increasing rapidly. Fortunately many of the Brute Force tracks have been uploaded on You Tube, so what are you waiting for?

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#1 | Eric on September 12 2010 03:40:44
I have a Colin Townes LP- 'Full Circle' which was one of his soundtrack albums I think. Need to dig it out. I wonder, is this the same Sledgehammer that appeared on the first 'Metal For Muthas'?
#2 | gdazegod on September 12 2010 05:10:46
Agree about the Geddes Axe comment. These guys were feted as being the next superstars in Sounds magazine. I'm sure Andy Barrott will be having a wee chuckle to himself nowadays..
#3 | englandashes on March 02 2016 23:22:31
Only just realised that Cryer, did release an album under the name of Force - Set Me Free, which i always used to see at Andy's Records going cheap, but due to the awful cover, never thought it was at least bit melodic. However this album has just been released on Cd, and back under the name of Cryer, with a couple of extra tracks.
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