It's such a shame that in the middle of Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red's Climax Blues Band reissue campaign that founding member Pete Haycock has passed away of a heart attack at the young age of 62. The legendary guitarist lended his stellar musical as well as vocal talents to all of the bands back catalog up until he left the group in the mid 1980's, and this particular recording, Gold Plated, originally released in 1976, was their best selling album. The line-up at the time consisted of Haycock (guitar, vocals), Colin Cooper (vocals, sax, guitar), Richard Jones (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Derek Holt (bass, vocals), and John Cuffley (drums).
Most people remember Gold Plated for the smash single "Couldn't Get it Right", a groove laden funk/pop/rock track that was somewhat of a change of pace for this British blues rock act, but the formula worked and the song clicked with audiences around the world, turning the band into overnight superstars after many years of heavy touring & recording. The rest of the album however contained many other strong songs, like the scorching rock, blues, and jazz of "Mighty Fire", complete with sizzling lead guitar from Haycock & Cooper's menacing sax, the upbeat "Together and Free", the catchy funk of "Chasing Change", or the stabbing blues tracks "Rollin' Home" and "Berlin Blues". Holt's addicting, rumbling bass lines grab you by the throat on "Sav'ry Gravy", a real groovy workout that has elements of funk, rock, blues, and jazz, while "Extra" is a catchy boogie rock number that wouldn't have been out of place on a Foghat or Doobie Brothers album. Haycock delivers some wild slide guitar on this one, and really, he's always been one of the most underrated slide players around.
Esoteric's remaster is bright and punchy, and they've included a host of bonus tracks here for the fans. While the alternate takes are nice, you also get the b-side "Fat Maybellene", a cool honky tonk blues rock tune featuring ripping guitar, fat sax, and jazzy piano. "Shadow Man" is another album session, a ballad that reminds a little of The Raspberries, and this reissue also includes four BBC Radio One John Peel session tracks that are extremely well done takes of some of the stronger songs on the album. The booklet is filled with photos and info on the band & album, and makes for a nice overall presentation. Haycock had recently put together a new version of Climax Blues Band earlier this year before his passing, so it's a real shame that the world didn't get to experience what his vision might have been for that. His amazing guitar skills and silky vocals remain alive in all their classic recordings however, and the Cherry Red folks have done a great job in keeping the music of Climax Blues Band alive.
1. TOGETHER AND FREE
2. MIGHTY FIRE
3. CHASING CHANGE
4. BERLIN BLUES
5. COULDN'T GET IT RIGHT
6. ROLLIN' HOME
7. SAV'RY GRAVY
9. FAT MAYBELLENE (B SIDE OF SINGLE)
10. TOGETHER AND FREE (SINGLE VERSION)
11. CHASIN' CHANGE (EXTENDED TAKE)
12. SHADOW MAN
13. COULDN'T GET IT RIGHT
14. CHASIN' CHANGE
15. TOGETHER AND FREE
16. MIGHTY FIRE