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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Grand Prix - 1980 Grand Prix
Grand Prix - 1980 Grand Prix

ARTIST: Grand Prix
ALBUM: Grand Prix
SERIAL: PL 25321
YEAR: 1980
CD REISSUE: 2000, Zoom Club Records, ZCRCD51 * 2009, Rock Candy Records, CANDY059


LINEUP: Bernie Shaw - vocals * Michael O'Donoghue - guitars * Phil Lanzon - keyboards * Ralph Hood - bass * Andy Bierne - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Waiting For The Night * 02 Day In The Life * 03 Thinking Of You * 04 Mama Says * 05 Which Way Did The Wind Blow * 06 Westwind * 07 Next To You * 08 You Know It Can Be * 09 Feel Like I Do * 10 The Very Last Time (Dreamer)

Though they might have appeared at the same time as many of the NWOBHM greats, the truth is, Grand Prix were far removed from that scene, and light years ahead in terms of professionalism and quality. The basis of their line-up was pretty strong, bringing together members from disparate backgrounds and notable past bands and appearances. The core duo of the band was guitarist Mick O'Donoghue and bass man Ralph Hood. Formed in 1978, the two recruited keyboardist Phil Lanzon, who had his own band Romance at the time. Of interest is Canadian singer Bernie Shaw, who had more or less, just landed off a plane from Canada, and picked up the vocal spot. The original drummer for the band was a chap called Roger Nutting. It seemed that things weren't quite working out with him, he was eventually replaced by Andy Bierne, who was previously with Brit hard rockers Dirty Tricks (appearing on their 1977 album 'Hit And Run'). Now a five-piece, and after recording a demo, the bands manager at the time, landed Grand Prix a rather large deal with RCA (a tax write off it would appear, as mentioned by Bernie Shaw in an interview years later), meaning that there would be tons of promotion and spend-up-large, but no real physical push of the LP into the record shops. As stated, though this album appeared in 1980 throughout the UK, the music was most definitely in the mould of North American arena rock, with loads of keyboard and guitar interplay and an emphasis on harmonies, and far removed from the raw, indie based material appearing out of the NWOBHM movement.

The Songs
Lanzon opens GP's account with some synths and piano work on 'Waiting For The Night'. It's clear that influences from across the transatlantic pond were instrumental in their make-up. 'Day In The Life' is reminiscent of mid 70's pomp/prog outfits such as Avalon (Canada) and Alpha Centauri, from there we move on 'Thinking Of You', a tighter compact track with Lanzon's keyboard work shining through again. 'Mama Says' is the odd track out, the barroom boogie coupled with a Thin Lizzy like guitar double-track makes for some unusual listening. 'Which Way Did The Wind Blow' is the first ballad on the album, and is a sweet meandering tune which has combined moments of grandiose and symphonic rock. 'Westwind' is a doppleganger for Kansas City favourites Morningstar, plus we can throw in some Trickster for some hard pomp. O'Donoghue riffs out on 'Next To You', a guitar oriented rocker mostly, though Lanzon doesn't miss out on the action either with a dose of organ added to the mixture. 'You Know It Can Be' returns to that mid 70's pomp/prog sound that many of you readers enjoy so much, the mid-section features a guitar and piano solo. 'Feel Like I Do' sounds as if the band has nicked Thin Lizzy's chorus from 'Waiting For An Alibi' and converted in into a verse! Still, a cool song nonetheless. 'The Very Last Time (Dreamer)' completes the album, a semi-ballad with orchestrated parts giving it a classical feel, though 'O'Donoghue's solo ensures this remains on the rock side of the boulevard.

In Summary
Due to the tax-write off situation, the album never really got a fair deal in the market. The band would work toward their second LP 'There For None To See'. However before things progressed any further, the band leader Ralph Hood unceremoniously dumped singer Bernie Shaw in favour of his friend Robin McAuley, while Shaw was away back in Canada visiting family. The relationship between Shaw and Lanzon must have been awkward, because both were room mates at the time, with Lanzon requesting Shaw to move out because of the changing situation. Even more awkward was the fact that the two would end up as Uriah Heep band mates and still are to this day. The Rock Candy reissue would include 3 bonus tracks: 'Feels Good', 'Room 155' and 'Somewhere Tonight'. Grand Prix would release two more albums: the aforementioned 'There For None To See' and 1983's lovely 'Samurai', before calling it quits in 1984.

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#1 | Nick C on October 18 2011 15:34:09
Good album, that I didn't appreciate at the time...and sold. A situation I rectified at a later date.
#2 | richardb on October 18 2011 20:01:39
A good album which I still play on occasion, though my vinyl copy is showing wear and tear after 30 years +

I remember seeing the video for "Which way did the wind blow" on TV at the time. No doubt this was funded by RCA as part of their "tax write off" (!). Pick of the bunch for me though is "Westwind"

Richard B
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