It’s about time that someone had the sense to release these rowdy live recordings from Irish guitarist Bernie Torme on CD. Back in 1984 I was able to buy a cruddy mangled Import LP copy of this same tour from a record vendor who showed up one day at my college, which I proceeded to play to death over the next 5 years until I purchased a CD player. Recorded in Sheffield back in 1983 just a few years after he left Gillan and recently after his split with Atomic Rooster, these are thirteen sweaty ass-kickers just dripping with Torme’s brand of blues/punk/metal guitar mayhem.
Any fan of whammy bar mania would be well advised to check this CD out. While most of us here in the US had Brad Gillis from Night Ranger or Eddie Van Halen to thank for making the dive-bomb sound famous, in Europe Torme was strangling his tremelo to the delights of audiences at the same time. Armed with a punk attitude and amazing chops with a blues slant, Torme took the hard rock and metal genre’s to new extremes. The opening blast of “Wild West” has more guitar screams, squeals, and shimmies than your average White Lion discography, while the driving “20th Century” sounds like the Kinks on steroids. There are plenty of crunchy anthems, like “No Easy Way”, the head-banging “Lightning Strikes”, and the metallic stomp of “Turn Out the Lights.” The latter has some terrific feedback-laden slide guitar from Torme as well as some powerful, husky vocals. There are a few mellower moments, like the Gary Moore groove of “Presences”, which is perhaps one of the most melodic and tuneful songs in the set, and the cowboy crunch of “Getting There.” Reminders of the musical excesses of the 70’s and 80’s can be heard on “Bernie’s Guitar Extravaganza”, a lengthy guitar solo where Torme runs the gamut from speedy scales, feedback, to extensive whammy bar excursions.
While no flawless collection of memorabilia, Live Sheffield 1983 is a fun trip back in time, that for many will be a journey heard for the first time. Guitar freaks, rejoice!