22 February 2019 (released)
18 February 2019
Before The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) there was Tear Gas.
This album was originally released in 1971 and I remember Tear Gas for their ferocious live performances at the time – stalwarts of festivals and the University scene – but less so for this album which sadly did not get the traction it deserved.
Along comes Alex Harvey and the world turns on its axis but this album contains an awful lot of the clues that suggest SAHB were not a one man band.
The album kicks off with ‘That’s What’s Real’ and the funky and soulful rock that pours out is very reminiscent of Family. Davey Batchelor’s vocals are fine, forthright and tuneful, while Zal Cleminson’s guitar is really powerful and fluid. Chris Glen on bass is much, much more than the bog standard one-note bassmen of the time and Ted McKenna’s drums (here credited as Eddie McKenna) show just why he was so highly thought of until his untimely recent death.
‘Love Story’ – written by Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson - is all fury and passion with a stunning solo from Cleminson which makes up for losing the subtlety of the original by a bravura performance.
The original numbers by Zal Cleminson & Davey Batchelor are all pretty good fare but it is their version of ‘Jailhouse Rock / All Shook Up’ that really shows what attracted Alex Harvey to them.
As an example of early seventies progressive rock, the elements are all there; heavy guitar laden songs with Blues overtones, pounding rhythms and tempo changes by the dozen. There aren’t any really weak numbers on the album and the remastering has really helped bring out the musicianship of the four.
It is both a very good album and a must-have for anyone with love for SAHB. Thoroughly good stuff.