Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Free, Humble Pie, Grand Funk Railroad, Cactus...all well respected and highly influential bands from the early '70s heavy rock scene, but there's another act who were just as important but never seemed to get the acclaim, and that was Leaf Hound. Formed out of the ashes of Black Cat Bones (a band that originally featured eventual Free members Paul Kossoff & Simon Kirke, as well as Rod Price of Foghat), Leaf Hound released their debut album Growers of Mushroom in 1971, a precursor to much of the heavy blues rock/heavy metal/stoner rock that was to come, but quickly broke up and disappeared, seemingly forever. Fast forward to 2004, where vocalist Peter French (who also spent time in Atomic Rooster and Cactus after Leaf Hound) reassembled the band with guitarist Luke Rayner, drummer Jimmy Rowland, and bassist Ed Pearson, which culminated in the very fine Unleashed record in 2007.
In July of 2012, Leaf Hound made their way to FEVER, Shin-daita in Tokyo, Japan for a series of concerts, resulting in this super charged live DVD/CD set. Peter Herbert has now taken over bass duties, and he joins French, Rayner, and Rowland for a set of Leaf Hound classics, some of the newer pieces, as well as select Cactus & Atomic Rooster songs. On the DVD you get an 11 song set, and the band is in fine form, led by the still very capable vocals of French, who sounds like a man 20 years younger. Rayner is an excellent guitarist, well schooled in the blues as well as heavy rock, and he rips out plenty of crunchy riffs and sizzling solos on such stellar tracks as "Freelance Friend", "Barricades", "Stop, Look, and Listen", "Work My Body", and "Growers of Mushroom". French gives a nice tribute to his old mate in Atomic Rooster, the late Vincent Crane, with a crushing version of "Breakthrough", and leads the band through a raging rendition of the Cactus classic "Evil". If you have any doubt that Leaf Hound can create valid heavy rock music here in this day and age, just listen to the song "One Hundred and Five Degrees", one of the more raucous tunes from Unleashed and given royal treatment here. The quality of the DVD is quite decent, and though not shot on a huge budget, the sound quality is good and the video is strong. Despite the fact that French is much older than the rest of the band, he's still quite energetic on stage and his voice sounds great. The rest of the group are tight and powerful, perfectly recreating those classic early '70s hard rock sounds.
The CD unfortunately only contains about 38 minutes of the full show that is seen on the DVD due to original Japanese version of the LP/CD having a limit of 40 minutes of music to fit on that medium when it was mastered. It will be a minor frustration for some but at least the full performance appears on the DVD.
Leaf Hound prove here that '70s styled heavy rock is something they still do well, and very well at that. Let's hope this outfit has more new music up their sleeve in the years to come.
The UK & North American release date is January 13rd, and rest of Europe on January 14th 2014.
DVD Track Listing
1) One Hundred and Five Degrees
2) Work My Body
3) Stop, Look, and Listen
4) Freelance Friend
5) The Man With a Moon in Him
6) With a Minute to Go
9) Growers of Mushroom
11) Stagnant Pool