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Lawton, John, Band: Sting in the Tale

Former Uriah Heep and Lucifer's Friend belter John Lawton has regularly been releasing albums the last ten or fifteen years under his solo banner, the band GunHill, and now officially as The John Lawton Band. Sting in the Tale sees the singer returning to his muscular hard rock roots, containing 12 tracks of kick ass music that at times borders on metal, other times heavy blues, but always quality heavy rock music. The line-up for the band is Steve Dunning on bass & guitars, Erol Sora on lead & rhythm guitars, drummer Benjy Reid, Leon Lawson on keyboards & guitars, and of course Lawton on vocals and acoustic guitars. Songwriting credits go to the whole band, as it looks like everyone came to the recording sessions with songs, so you get a nice flavor of different styles here.

One thing that is quicky apparent is that Lawton's voice is as strong as ever. Songs like "Give it Up" (with its catchy, early 80's Whitesnake vibe), "Take You High", and the melodic thump of 'Reach Out" showcase the singer's pipes to be in fine form, as he has held up greatly over the years, much like contemporaries like Glenn Hughes and Paul Rodgers. While I wouldn't say much of the stuff here sounds too much like either of his former bands Heep or Lucifer's Friend, the band does hit some heavy crescendo's on the excellent "Written on the Wall", complete with beefy guitars from Erol Sora, as well as some organ from Leon Lawson. This track again has a certain Whitesnake feel to it, as well as perhaps early Blackfoot. The riff-monster "Firing Line" is another heavy burner, while "King Con" has a modern day Lynyrd Skynyrd feel to it thanks to the Southern Rock guitar lines. The cut that moved me the most however was "Angels They Cry", an insistant metal piece that has a lot in common with the current version of Uriah Heep, with its catchy chorus, beefy guitar riffs, and raging organ. This one will easily get all you classic hard rock fans pumping your fist and banging your head with ease. On a lighter note, you get the masterful hooks of "Tracks of Time", an irresistable song that also has a sort of Southern Rock flair to it, with nice organ from Lawson, acoustic guitars, a tasty electric solo from Sora, and a chorus sung by Lawton that you will be humming for hours.

These days, with many hard rock bands of yesterday reuniting and trying to make music that is somehow relevant and entertaining, and most times failing, it's nice to hear a cagey veteran really make it happen. This is a recommended release from a vastly underrated vocalist who still has plenty to offer.

Track Listing
1) Take You High
2) Give It Up
3) Written on the Wall
4) Reach Out
5) Firing Line
6) Lately
7) I'll Be Here
8) King Con
9) Tracks of Time
10) Angels They Cry
11) Slamming It Down
12) Dog House

Added: January 5th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: John Lawton Website
Hits: 2656
Language: english

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