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Medlocke; Rick; and Blackfoot: Rick Medlocke And Blackfoot

Having built a solid, deserved reputation for carving out heavy Southern Rock of the highest calibre, Blackfoot had in 1983 shocked their fanbase by not only adding Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley and his keyboards for the album Siogo, but also by smoothing out their sound and adding a classy Melodic Rock edge. The fact that the results were excellent mattered not, the damage was done and compounded by the even slicker, yet decidedly ramshackle Vertical Smiles (Blackfoot mainman Rick Medlocke describing it in the interesting Malcolm Dome penned liner notes for this reissue as "dreadful") and in essence Blackfoot were done. Medlocke decided it was time for a left turn, a solo album in a commercial, Melodic Rock vein his intentions. However record label ATCO had different ideas, deciding the album would be erroneously named Rick Medlocke And Blackfoot; to them it mattered not that the only Blackfooter left standing was Medlocke himself.

So what should have been seen as a fresh start for Medlocke not only got lambasted in the press for being nothing even vaguely related to Blackfoot and roundly loathed by the band's fans, but also ignored and brushed under the carpet by the record label who insisted on the title that basically killed it stone dead. For the album Medlocke brought in three members of Mother's Finest, a band who had grown a cult following for their heavy funk approach, in the shape of bassist Wyzard, keyboard player Doug "Bingo" Bare and drummer Harold Seay, the four-piece setting about creating a fiery slice of commercial Rock with a strong eye for hooks and catchy choruses. In short it was exactly what audiences lapped up in 1987, when this album was initially released, however with circumstances and expectations burying the album, the fact that it was brimming with top notch potential hits was almost sneered at and therefore completely lost in the disdain.

Looking back now that missed opportunity is a real shame, Medlocke being in his usual fine voice and reinvigorated on guitar, while the ten tracks on show are unquestionably memorable slabs of commercial Rock. "Liar", a song written by the unwitting hit machine Russ Ballard, contains one of his trademark live long in the memory choruses, "Private Life" would have been an international smash had Huey Lewis And The News recorded it. Whereas the Doug Bare written "Closest Thing To Heaven" is a classy duet with Liz Larin helping Medlocke to conjure one of those ZZ Top like slowies, that mainstream audiences bought in their millions way back when. Add to that the 80s movie soundtrack feel of "Silent Type", the superb Mother's Finest cover "Rock 'N' Roll Tonight" and the catchy as hell "Saturday Night", the latter a cover of a track by Dutch New wave act Herman Brood and a highlight of this album, and the results are potent indeed.

Tellingly the song "Back On The Streets" opens the album with the lyric 'I've been looking for a new direction, to put me in touch, I'm a-searching high and low for my connection, Am I asking too much? Way back in my mind, There's a voice that says I can find just what I'm looking for', and if this album had been received in that spirit, there's no denying it would have had a far fairer crack of the whip and maybe been a great success. History however says different and Medlocke would go on to rejoin his first band Lynyrd Skynyrd with great success, while the other original (pre-this album) members of Blackfoot would begin to take the band out on the road again. Since then a new Medlocke endorsed version of the outfit featuring nobody with past ties to Blackfoot has been doing the rounds, but that as they say is another story...

In the meantime this cracking reissue from Lemon Records is an excellent opportunity to reappraise an album that deserved far more recognition than it ever received. Don't pass it up a second time.

Track Listing
1. Back On The Streets
2. Saturday Night
3. Closest Thing To Heaven
4. Silent Type
5. Reckless Boy
6. Private Life
7. Liar
8. Steady Rockin'
9. My Wild Romance
10. Rock 'N' Roll Tonight

Added: December 21st 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Lemon Records
Hits: 1753
Language: english

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