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Powell, Cozy: The Bedlam Years

After legendary drummer Cozy Powell left the Jeff Beck Group, and before he joined Rainbow, he formed the hard rock band Bedlam, along with vocalist Frank Aiello, guitarist Dave Ball (Procol Harum), and bassist Dennis Ball. Bedlam were signed to Chrysalis Records and released their self-titled debut in 1973. This 3 CD set contains that original studio album, plenty of bonus studio tracks, and a 5 song live set from 1973. For a little known band like this, The Bedlam Years pretty much contains just about all of their recorded history, as Powell broke up the band in 1974 to pursue other projects.

The self-titled studio album is a very solid slice of bluesy, funky hard rock, produced by Felix Pappalardi (Mountain), that surprisingly didn't garner more attention than it did. Not too far removed from what was coming out of the Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cactus, Mountain, Budgie, Free, or Nazareth camps at the time, Bedlam showed a penchant for memorable, heavy rocking songs that featured the stellar musical interplay of Powell and the Ball brothers, plus the powerful vocals of Aiello. Though many tunes have a blues background, Ball's riffs are heavy, especially on tracks like "Believe in You", "Hot Lips", and "Seven Long Years", but there's also a funkiness at times that reminds of what Deep Purple where soon to jump into on the Burn and Stormbringer albums. For those who crave those heavy rockin', blues & boogie sounds of bands like Cactus and Mountain, check out the monstrous "Whiskey and Wine" and the hard driving "Putting On the Flesh" for some distorted riffs and crashing drum fills. "Set Me Free" is a bruising heavy rock track, with Aiello sounding a bit like Jack Bruce and the rest of the band really getting down and dirty for some fine proto-metal. It's songs like this that makes it mind boggling that this band didn't get more attention.

The 2nd CD contains various studio tracks, some featuring different singers, and plenty of cover tunes. Quality wise it's kind of all over the place, and more of a curiosity piece to go along with the stellar studio album. As Aiello is not featured on many of the tracks, the quality of the vocals suffer as such, but there are still some good jams and surprisingly fun covers, like The Yardbirds "For Your Love" and Cream's "Swlabr". Ball really shows what an underrated guitarist he was on searing workouts "1812 Thrashed" and "Stepping Out" (which also has some killer drum work from Cozy), and the band original "Ring of Fire" is a really strong tune that totally warranted being included on the studio album. The same can be said for the crunchy blues original "At the Gateway", which has a snarling vocal from Aiello and some of Powell's more intricate work in this set, and "Candy (Rainbow Over New York)" is a catchy hard rock piece with a great hook that could have easily been a target for radio play. Over on CD number 3 you have the blistering live set, which for some is going to worth the price of admission alone. The live version of "Believe In You" is rampaging heavy rock, driven by Cozy's propulsive drum work, booming bass grooves from Dennis, and Dave's distorted guitar riffs & solos. Ferocious stuff. The band comes across like an even heavier Cream on "The Beast" and "The Great Game", with Ball adding in some cool psychedelic way-wah licks on the latter. "Set Me Free" rocks quite hard, the band steamrolling ahead while Aiello's powerful vocals soar to the heavens. There's even a wild extended blues -rock jam called "The Fool", featuring all sorts of solos and raucous passages.

Though we lost him way too soon, the late Cozy Powell gave us some great music in his stints with Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Michael Schenker Group, Black Sabbath, ELP, and Yngwie Malmsteen, but it's his work with Bedlam that is probably the most obscure and for many, will be the most surprising. If you like bluesy hard rock from the '70s, you need to check this set out.

Track Listing
CD 1-Bedlam
1) Believe In You
2) Hot Lips
3) Sarah
4) Sweet SIster Mary
5) Seven Long Years
6) The Beast
7) Whiskey and Wine
8) Looking Through Love's Eyes
9) Putting On the Flesh
10) Set Me Free

CD 2- The Studio CD
1) 1812 Thrashed
2) Swlabr
3) Hideaway
4) For Your Love
5) Stepping Out
6) Funky Woman
7) Ring of Fire
8) Munich City
9) Hot Lips
10) At the Gateway
11) Candy (Rainbow Over New York)
12) Share With You
13) Dave's Ditty for Cozy

CD 3-The Live CD
1) Believe In You
2) The Beast
3) The Great Game
4) Set Me Free
5) Interview
6) The Fool

Added: November 9th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 3150
Language: english

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