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Samson: Joint Forces:1986-1993 (3 in 1 remaster)

We've all heard the tales of bands who, if only things had been different, should have made it big. In many cases it's difficult to fathom why stardom remained elusive, however in the case of Samson it's maybe not quite such a mystery; stylistic changes almost as regular a thing as band reshuffles. Formed in the late seventies the Samson debuted with a well received Blues Rock effort before recruiting future Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson and morphing into convincing NWOBHM scene chasers for two further albums. When Dickinson was lured away, singer Nicky Moore was recruited and Samson changed once more, Hard Rock with a Blues stance the result for Before The Storm and Don't Get Mad, Get Even.

By 1986 band leader and guitarist Paul Samson had his eye on a solo album, although one featuring various past members of his outfit under the fitting name Joint Forces. The idea began to unravel when drummer Clive Burr (ex-Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis) couldn't commit, leaving the line-up to become original bassist John McCoy, latest singer Nicky Moore and drummer Edgar Patrik, although Chris Shirley also banged along on a couple of cuts. For business reasons the album eventually saw the light of day under the Samson moniker, leaving fans confused as the sound changed once again, this time into a more 80s fixated Hard Rock arena. Moore, often a divisive voice in the view of critics, turns in a fine display on what is a solid and in places cracking set of songs, the likes of "Tramp" (also featuring Rock Goddess's Jody Turner on co-vocals the rest of her band providing backup singing), "Tales Of The Fury" and the strangely commercial Blackfoot like "The Russians Are Coming", all making a strong impression. As was the way with Samson, things didn't last, McCoy and Moore leaving to form the questionably intentioned Mammoth (remember the (surprisingly decent) single "Fat Man"?); Samson hitting the road with Iron Maiden to promote Joint Forces under the new banner of Paul Samson's Empire.

Two years later and the name reverted back to Samson, the guitarist joined by Ore, and future Skyscraper bassist Dave Boyce and the unknown Emerson pair of singer Mick White and drummer Charlie Mack. The big shock as five track EP, And There It Is..., announced the band's re-arrival was the inclusion of Airrace keyboard player Toby Sadler. Samson stating previously that keyboards merely cluttered up his music. Here the version included is the renamed and 1993 released album-length 'compilation' that added six unreleased tracks from the same time as the EP, called (confusingly) 1988 in reference to when the songs were recorded. If Joint Forces had been a surprise for the band's long term followers, these songs were a shock, a Melodic Rock sheen that verges into out and out AOR almost finding Samson's guitar demoted to second fiddle, although his solos and riffs still prove what an underrated talent he remains. "Reach Out To Love", "Good To See You" and "Tomorrow" are all classy little commercial rockers, but even though 1988 makes for a good, fun listen, the whiff of scene chasing (again) went a long way to scuppering its chances.

The Refugee album came next in 1990, Peter Scallan (for the most part) handling vocals, before Paul was asked to sit in with Blues Rock outfit The English Rogues, resulting in a rekindling of his love for his early sound. Reverting back to a three piece and handling vocals for the first time since the band's 1979 debut, the guitarist invited early Samson bassist Chris Aylmer and English Rogues drummer Tony Tuohy into the fold for what would be the band's eponymous album although later reissues (including this one) would clumsily re-name it Nineteen Ninety-Three after the year it was released. Never the most captivating of singer's, Samson's voice still fits this setting perfectly and while any of the band's previous vocalists may have added a more dynamic attack, the heartfelt style brought by the man who had written "Hey You", "Slip Away" and "It Ain't Far" was perfect for a surprisingly candid set of songs. As for the man's guitar playing? Well that was never in question, and whether hammering out NWOBHM barnstormers, Hard Rock anthems, AOR attention grabbers or intense Blues workouts, the one thing you can be sure of is that Paul Samson mastered them all. Samson, as it was originally known, was Paul's final album before his untimely death in 2002 (sadly Aylmer would pass away five years later), although John McCoy did finish up the recordings the guitarist had been working on in his final days, the PS album arriving in 2006.

Grouped together, and across only two discs, Joint Forces, 1988 and Nineteen Ninety-Three make for uncomfortable bedfellows, none of the three even sounding like they really come from the same man, never mind the same band. That the second of the three is split down the middle highlights this issue further, it's keyboard heavy sound a shock compared to the hard hitting Joint Forces and completely unrelated in terms of sound to N-N-T. That said, with an interesting essay from Malcolm Dome that gathers the thoughts of many of those involved in all the three albums all who reinforce what a talent and a gent Paul Samson was and some vintage, and honest, magazine clippings, this is still a worthy set and one that again highlights how much more recognition Paul Samson deserved.


Track Listing
DISC ONE
JOINT FORCES
1. THE CHOSEN FEW
2. TRAMP
3. BURNING EMOTION
4. NO TURNING BACK
5. TELL ME
6. TALES OF THE FURY
7. THAT AIN'T ALL
8. POWER OF LOVE
9. THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING
1988
10. REACH OUT TO LOVE
11. TOO LATE
12. THE SILVER SCREEN
13. I MUST BE CRAZY
14. DON'T TURN AWAY
15. GOOD TO SEE YOU
16. STRANGER

DISC TWO
1988 (CONTINUED)
1. I'M NEVER GONNA TO LOSE CONTROL
2. DON'T TELL ME IT'S OVER
3. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE FOOLIN'
4. TOMORROW
5. ONE DAY HEROES
1993
6. HEY YOU
7. DREAM
8. BACK TO YOU
9. THE WORD
10. ROOM 109
11. SLIP AWAY
12. CAN YOU IMAGINE?
13. IT AIN'T FAIR
14. USE IT BEFORE YOU LOSE IT
15. THE EDGE
16. WHEN WILL I SEE YOU AGAIN?

Added: August 5th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Joint Forces: 1986-1993 at Cherry red
Hits: 227
Language: english

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