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Derringer: The Complete Blue Sky Albums 1976-1978

It gives you a strong idea of how hard Derringer tried to make the breakthrough that The Complete Blue Sky Albums 1976-1978 box set may only cover three years, but for the band that initially comprised Rick Derringer (ex-The McCoys/Johny Winter/Edgar Winter/Alice Cooper), Vinny Appice (ex-Axis), Danny Johnson (ex-Axis) and Kenny Aaronson (ex-Leslie West Band), it takes in three studio albums, a live release and a previously promo only live recording.

Formed by Rick Derringer in 1976, the band came about as the guitarist and singer looked to shake off his perceived one-hit-pop-wonder status, hoping to head in a heavier direction. Having heard and been impressed by the drumming of Vinny Appice, Derringer brought him on board and at the drummer's suggestion also recruited guitarist Danny Johnson, the band completed by bassist Kenny Aaronson. Quickly recording their self titled debut, they set about touring the US, performing alongside the likes of Aerosmith, Journey, Boston and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, just as all those acts hit it big. Even though they were a scintillating live proposition, Derringer somehow got left behind, something Aaronson suggests in the excellent liner notes (which Appice also contributes to) was in part due to the fact that the band just couldn't get their live power down on tape in the studio. It's a point that's hard to argue with, debut album tracks "Let Me In", "Sailor" (written and sung by Johnson) and "Beyond The Universe" all hitting much harder on the, at the time, promo-only Live In Cleveland, alongside excellent covers of Bowie's "Rebel Rebel", The Kinks "You Really Got Me" and Derringer's solo hit, "Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo", than they do on the debut. However, even taking that into account, with it sporting a Montrose meets Aerosmith sound it's still a mystery why the debut album didn't make a bigger splash.

Undeterred, Derringer tried again, album number two titled Sweet Evil and arriving just one year after the band's 1976 debut. Keeping to the same Hard Rock formula, "Don't Stop Loving Me", "One Eyed Jack" and "I Didn't Ask To Be Born" showcase what a tremendous guitar duo Derringer and Johnson made, while the Appice, Aaronson rhythm section was mighty indeed. And yet, even with Jack Douglas (Aerosmith/Cheap Trick) producing and a fearsome live reputation cemented through a huge amount of dates as headliners and support act, Derringer could never quite hit the big leagues. Featuring four of the same cuts from Live In Cleveland, Derringer Live was released the same year and yet it is again easy to hear why the band would never be quite satisfied with their albums, a slightly sanitised sound on the official live effort, leaving the promo record as this set's most captivating offering.

Frustrated, Appice and Johnson quit and reformed Axis, although the drummer would go on to join Black Sabbath and Dio numerous times, while Johnson is possibly best remembered for a stint alongside Graham Bonnet in Alcatrazz. Derringer and Aaronson, recruiting drummer Myron Grombacher, soldiered on as a trio, and released the band's final album If I Weren't So Romantic, I'd Shoot You, in 1978. Adding a more commercial sheen through the likes of "It Ain't Funny", "EZ Action", "Tonight" and "Monomania" this album will either be your choice selection or least favourite of the studio efforts in this set. Either way, like its predecessors, this is a good, if under appreciated album.

As Aaronson alludes to, it was on stage that Derringer made their strongest mark and I'd suggest The Complete Blue Sky Recordings 1976-1978 is worth investing in just for Live In Cleveland and Derringer Live, alone. However, stay with this band's earthy, but catchy early studio work and the more commercially aware third album for a while and you'll soon begin to realise why Derringer still boast a loyal following to this day.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: DERRINGER (1976)
1. LET ME IN
2. YOU CAN HAVE ME
3. LOOSEN UP YOUR GRIP
4. ENVY
5. COMES A WOMAN
6. SAILOR
7. BEYOND THE UNIVERSE
8. GOODBYE AGAIN
BONUS TRACK
9. LET ME IN (MONO VERSION)


DISC TWO: LIVE IN CLEVELAND (1976)
1. LET ME IN
2. TEENAGE LOVE AFFAIR
3. SAILOR
4. BEYOND THE UNIVERSE
5. ROCK AND ROLL, HOOCHIE KOO
6. ROLL WITH ME
7. REBEL REBEL


DISC THREE: SWEET EVIL (1977)
1. DON'T STOP LOVING ME
2. SITTIN' BY THE POOL
3. KEEP ON MAKIN' LOVE
4. ONE EYED JACK
5. LET'S MAKE IT
6. SWEET EVIL
7. DRIVIN' SIDEWAYS
8. I DIDN'T ASK TO BE BORN
BONUS TRACK
9. DON'T STOP LOVING ME (MONO VERSION)


DISC FOUR: DERRINGER LIVE (1977)
1. LET ME IN
2. TEENAGE LOVE AFFAIR
3. SAILOR
4. BEYOND THE UNIVERSE
5. SITTIN' BY THE POOL
6. UNCOMPLICATED
7. STILL ALIVE AND WELL
8. ROCK AND ROLL, HOOCHIE KOO


DISC FIVE: IF I WEREN'T SO ROMANTIC, I'D SHOOT YOU (1978)
1. IT AIN'T FUNNY
2. MIDNIGHT ROAD
3. IF I WEREN'T SO ROMANTIC, I'D SHOOT YOU
4. EZ ACTION
5. LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY
6. POWER OF LOVE
7. SLEEPLESS
8. TONIGHT
9. ROCKA ROLLA
10. ATTITUDE
11. MONOMANIA
BONUS TRACK
12. LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY (MONO VERSION)

Added: February 20th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Complete Blue Sky Albums 1976-1978
Hits: 1237
Language: english

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