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Dante Fox: The Roots Of Great White 1978-1982

Although lyrically they were as guilty as the next 80s rock act, Great White had an understanding of the blues and, as later live outings would unashamedly highlight, too deep a respect for Led Zeppelin to simply be classed as another ‘hair band’ and yet timing and look undoubtedly penned them in with a host of posers and chancers with a lot less substance. The band debuted in 1982 with a five track EP but the Great White story stretched back a further four years, albeit via the band name Dante Fox (not to be confused with the current UK band of the same name). Under that guise the foursome built a strong reputation round the LA live circuit playing shows and recording sessions for local radio. Along the way they also put together a selection of demos that would begin to set the band’s style and, much to the delight of long term fans, it is those recordings which have been brought together as Dante Fox: The Roots Of Great White 1978-1982.

Already operating around the core duo of singer Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall, the band was completed, firstly, by Don Costa (bass) and Ton Richards (drums) and then Lorne Black (credited as Loren Black in the liner notes…) on bass and Gary Holland (drums). The latter two continuing on their term within the ranks as Dante Fox became Great White and released their debut EP and then album.

There’s no denying that the sound quality across the 17 tracks presented here is of demo standard and no doubt that this issue alone means that only diehard fans will be interested in this release. However, if you, like I do, fall into that category then this will be a real treat. Featuring all too short liner notes from Jack Russell himself (who thankfully is keen to focus on much happier times between himself and Kendall (who now both have separate bands featuring the Great White banner in one form or another)), from the start it’s easy to hear just how close the pair already were to the sound of GW as they laid out their fledgling band’s stall. In fact the compilation kicks off with “In Love”, which is an almost fully formed, but with different lyrics, “On Your Knees” that made the debut EP of the same name, while “Money” would go on to become “Stick It”, a song which would lend its name to the band’s reissued debut, which had initially been self-titled.

With Russell’s Americanised Robert Plantisms clear to hear “Motor Love” quickly becomes a head on smash between Zeppelin and Sammy Hagar, Kendall not being outdone through a stinging solo and biting riff. “Head Over Heels” pulsates with a real sense of urgency but at the same time there’s a classy combination of banked backing vocals and insistent guitars that shouldn’t have been coming from an outfit working without a record deal. Adding to the intrigue, “Need Your Love” comes replete with a radio introduction from when it hit the airwaves, with the DJ exclaiming that when the band performed this song live, ‘people just died’, and considering the results verge on NWOBHM bombast, no wonder! Add in the more considered “She’s Got Fever”, which holds a more (of the time) contemporary sleaze slash, and the direct thrust of “Space Age Rocker” and it’s no wonder this band were just a few years from scaling the charts after gaining a deal with EMI.

In fairness it’s easy to point out the sonic challenges of this release but in truth, as a Great White fan the opportunity to get a glimpse into this early period in their evolution is just too good to be churlish about. Fellow shark-heads simply need to get their hands on this CD, or indeed the classy limited blue vinyl option and whisk themselves back to a time just before when the Fox took to the waters.

Track Listing
1. In Love
2. Last Time
3. Motor Love
4. Money
5. Head Over Heels
6. There’s No Way
7. Front Row Girl
8. The Strike
9. Bead In The Rain
10. Lonnie Never Lied
11. Stay Away
12. Need Your Love
13. On The Run
14. She’s Got Fever
15. Calling You
16. Space Age Rock
17. The Blues

Added: March 26th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Dante Fox / Great White on bandcamp
Hits: 87
Language: english

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