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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Briar - 1988 Crown Of Thorns
Briar - 1988 Crown Of Thorns

ALBUM: Crown Of Thorns
LABEL: Columbia
SERIAL: 25DP 5082
YEAR: 1988


LINEUP: Kevin Griffiths - lead vocals, bass * Dean Cook - drums * Dave Fletcher, Darren Underwood - guitars, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Crown Of Thorns * 02 Frankie * 03 Just Another Day In The Life Of A Fool * 04 Back And Wild * 05 La Bamba * 06 One Foot In Your Back Door * 07 Spirit Of The Wood * 08 The Boys Are Back In Town * 09 Empty Words * 10 Everyone's Going Crazy * 11 Fart


Love the cover on this one but man, plop it on the turntable and prepare to be disappointed. Ok, I don't mean to be such a downer right out of the box but we'll get to why I feel the way I do after a bit 'o history. For the uninitiated Briar was part of the NWOBHM movement and early on had what appeared to be a very bright future. Young, energetic with talent to spare; the band released their first Def Leppard-ish single 'Rainbow To The Skies' in 1983 which inevitably drew the attention of the ever-enterprising Heavy Metal Records who released Briar's first long player 'Too Young' in 1986. A charming pop metal album, it's one of this reviewers favourites of the period and a well-received tour with Tygers Of Pan Tang seemed to position Briar for potential global domination. Enter Jonathan King, the driving force behind Genesis, 10cc and the Bay City Rollers and who had already dabbled in the metal scene with Gogmagog; an all-star band who released a very average and widely panned EP in 1985. Signed to King's UK Records; the band began to moving further into pop realms, releasing a cover of Bon Jovi's 'Edge Of A Broken Heart' as a single followed up with high profile support slot for Stryper at London's Hammersmith Odeon.

The Songs
What came next was a seriously misguided attempt to turn Briar into a '80s version of the Bay City Rollers. Mind you, I'm a huge fan of the Rollers and King in his pre-sex scandal days but this was a different time and very different style of music. Under King's influence Briar had lost the plot with an album largely consisting of cover tunes that would have most rockers running for the hills. Example number one is 'Frankie'; a pop rock version of the middling Sister Sledge hit that shamefully comes off as trite, unemotional, hopelessly dated and not nearly as 'cute' as the original. Up next is Russ Ballard's 'Just Another Day In The Life Of A Fool' previously covered by both Phoenix and Verity and is somewhat palatable with a fun 'James Bond' intro although this version is far from definitive. 'La Bamba'? Oh my god. Bless the late Ritchie Valens wherever he is, but this was just wrong on every level and yet there's one more - Thin Lizzy's 'The Boys Are Back In Town'. I've heard this evergreen classic too often in my life for this version to make any difference, but here it is predictably adding nothing to the original while I'm trying to figure out just what kind of bullshit King was shovelling at Briar to even consider needlessly riding Phil Lynott's coattails. A tragic waste of talent, tape and vinyl although there are a trio of Briar originals and 'Everyone's Going Crazy' is the easiest to love although the two second 'Fart' which is exactly what you think, pretty much sums up an album and band who seemed quite happy casting their integrity to the wind with a half-ass and fruitless attempt to cash-in on cheap adolescent stardom.

In Summary
'Crown Of Thorns' was released in America on CBS although it didn't do nearly as well as hoped which was hardly surprising. One more King related single on A&M 'One Monkey Don't Stop No Show' failed miserably and in due-time the boys parted company or vice-versa with the charismatic Svengali once and for all. Two more self-produced singles were pressed but the damage was done with Briar dispersing into the hard rock ether, never to return.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 09 2012 06:17:18
OMG, 'Frankie'.. that brings back bad memories.. Shock
#2 | gdazegod on August 05 2017 22:41:32
Briar - 1988 Frankie (UK video version)
YouTube Video:

Briar - 1988 Frankie (US video version)
YouTube Video:
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