Long out of print on CD, the first two releases from Scottish blues rock act Stone the Crows, their 1970 debut Stone the Crows and the 1971 follow-up Ode to John Law, are both included here on this glorious 2CD reissue courtesy of the fine folks at Angel Air Records. Featuring the supreme vocal talents of one Maggie Bell, the band also included bassist/vocalist James Dewar (soon to join Robin Trower's band), guitar virtuoso Leslie Harvey (brother of Alex), drummer Colin Allen, and keyboard player John McGinnis. Co-managed by Peter Grant (who of course also managed Led Zeppelin), Stone the Crows generated a lot of buzz but unfortunately never gained the international fame many of their peers received, but their mastery of emotional blues rock is firmly evident on these first two albums.
The self-titled release contains a wealth of sizzling tunes, including the classic "The Touch of Your Loving Hand", which features both Bell & Dewar trading off some amazing vocal passages over lazy rhythms and smoky organ. "Raining In Your Heart" and "Blind Man" both impress mightily, the former a rumbling rocker with sizzling guitar licks and fiery dual vocals, and the latter home to some wonderful acoustic work from Harvey. Included are two live bonus tracks, the raucous "Freedom Road" and a mysterious take on "Hollis Brown", complete with Bell's swooning vocal delivery. Fans of Janis Joplin would be well advised to investigate this incredible singer. Over on Ode to John Law, the instrumental talents of the band seem to be even more at the forefront. Both "Sad Mary" and "Friend" are highlighted by tasty McGinnis organ and sizzling wah-wah guitar lines from Harvey, and "Things Are Getting Better" again show what an underrated duo both McGinnis & Harvey are. "Love" is a memorable blues number with heartfelt vocals, and that commanding Hammond organ roars back for the stunning title track, a must hear for any fan of Deep Purple with its guitar & organ riffs. "Danger Zone" again sees the smoldering organ percolating under Bell's bluesy vocal, a killer slow blues tune that is also noteworthy for a furious guitar solo from Mr. Harvey.
The band would survive the electrocution death of their guitarist Harvey (during a concert no less) and go on to record two more albums before calling it a day. Those albums are a story for another day, but here you have the important beginnings of one of the most underrated blues rock acts of the early 1970s.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
CD 1-Stone the Crows
1) The Touch of Your Loving Hand
2) Raining in Your Heart
3) Blind Man
4) A Fool On the Hill
5) I Saw America
6) Freedom Road (live bonus track)
7) Hollis Brown (live bonus track)
CD 2- Ode to John Law
1) Sad Mary
4) Mad Dogs and Englishmen
5) Things Are Getting Better
6) Ode to John Law
7) Danger Zone
8) The Touch of Your Loving Hand (live bonus track)
9) Raining In Your Heart (live bonus track)