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Stone the Crows: Stone the Crows/Ode to John Law

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!

Track Listing
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
2) Friend
3) Love
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)

Added: August 4th 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Angel Air Records
Hits: 1588
Language: english

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Stone the Crows: Stone the Crows/Ode to John Law
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-08-04 10:18:54
My Score:

Back in the late '60s bands like The Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin were leading the cutting edge of rock music but there was another band that was pretty good as well. Although not in the same level as the aforementioned bands, the English blues rock powerhouse known as The Power caught the attention of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. Since there was another band across the pond with the same name he suggested they call themselves Stone The Crows. In the band were Maggie Bell (vocals), Leslie Harvey (guitars), Colin Allen (drums and percussion), John McGinnis (keyboards) and James Dewar (bass and vocals).

The band's first self-titled album was released in 1970 and later that same year their sophomore effort Ode To John Law hit the airwaves. Their sound is raw bluesy hard rock fronted by the soulful rasp of Maggie Bell, who has a touch of Janice Joplin in her husky vox. She really helped to define the band's sound as did their guitarist Leslie Harvey. His gritty blues laden leads are all over these two discs and really gave the band instant credibility. An underrated guitarist to be sure. Another important ingredient is the Hammond organ reminding one of another classic rock band of the time, The Doors. Rod Stewart was also a huge influence in the band's sound.

Their self-titled effort begins with the slow blues rock of "The Touch Of Your Loving Hand". The song builds with powerful vocals, organ and guitar. The guitar is more slashing on "Raining In Your Heart" featuring fabulous guitar and organ interplay. Pretty acoustic guitar begins "Blind Man" venturing into forceful rhythms and more delicate and gentle picking. Bell's soulful vocals bear resemblance to the great Janice Joplin. The centerpiece of the album is the seventeen minute "I Saw America", a bluesy rock jam with awesome organ embellishments and psychedelic guitar exploits. The tempo slows and speeds up ensuring a dynamic and absorbing listen.

The second disc Ode To John Law is another blues rock classic highlighted by the bluesy grooves of "Sad Mary", the joyous bluesy rocker "Mad Dogs And Englishmen", the organ drenched "Things Are Getting Better", reminding me of Three Dog Night and the psych infused rocker "Friend". Here, stabbing bursts of guitar between Bell's lead vocals gives this tune plenty of edge.

These two albums form an important document in the history of early hard rock sounds. They may not have had the staying power of some of the popular bands of the genre but there work should not be overlooked. If you haven't heard the band this would be a great place to start. An Angel Air Records production.

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