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Stray: New Dawn / Alive And Giggin'

At one time the British classic rock band Stray was one of the biggest club acts on the scene. They released eight albums between 1970 and 1977 that pretty much flew under the radar, before the original band finally decided to pack it in. However, that didn't stop original guitarist Del Bromham from keeping the name alive in the interim as he continued to gig under the Stray moniker, and yet it would take until 1997 before any new material was issued. Which brings us to this just issued two fer from Angel Air Records that combines the studio album New Dawn, along with a live effort Alive And Giggin', recorded in 1997 and 1996 respectively. Both of these recordings marked the bands shift to a power trio format which also saw Bromham assume the role of lead vocalist.

The first half of New Dawn unfortunately doesn't get off the launching pad early and it really isn't until the eighth track, the hard rocking "White Knuckle Fever" that things finally begin to heat up. "Further To Fall" is a fairly straight ahead, commercial rocker that features some splendid , melodic guitar work from Del, while "Rock Steady", with its sizzling talk box section, and the Hendrix influenced "Jimijam", both allow Bromham the chance to stretch out and display his mighty, blues based chops a bit more. The album concludes with a couple of acoustic based tracks "I Want More" and his take on religious hypocrisy "In The Name Of God". All in all New Dawn was / is a decent return to active duty, but in the end there just isn't enough here that will really remain with the listener after all is said and done.

Alive And Gigin' comes across much better primarily because Stray has always seemed to be one of those bands that was born for the stage, and the performances here prove that in spades. Nothing sounds the least bit forced as Bromham and his band, bassist Dusty Miller and drummer Phil McKee rip through a heaping dose of Stray's back catalogue. No real surprise that high octane rockers "Fire And Glass", "After The Storm" and "I Believe It" are all perfect vehicles for Del to fearlessly cut loose with some big time extended jams. The show rightfully concludes with the fan favorite "All In Your Mind", a song once covered by Iron Maiden, which stretches to almost nine minutes on this scorching version.

Over forty years since Stray first appeared on the scene Del Bromham is still alive and giggin' as they say, albeit with a different lineup these days. The bottom line is whether or not you're a diehard fan of the band or you just happen to like good old fashioned, blues based rock 'n roll, this double disc collection will end up giving you plenty of bang for your buck. Be aware though that if you do plan to pick up this double disc reissue, the live disc is definitely the stronger of the two.

Track Listing

Disc One: New Dawn
1) Dawn Rising
2) New Dawn
3) No Future
4) Dangerous Music
5) Maybe You Want Me
6) Trouble
7) The Man In My Head
8) White Knuckle Fever
9) Further To Fall
10) Rock Steady
11) Jimijam
12) I Want More
13) In The Name Of God

Disc Two: Alive And Gigin'
1) Leave It Down To Us
2) Fire And Glass
3) After The Storm
4) Take A Life
5) Jericho
6) I Believe It
7) Mister Wind
8) Buying Time
9) Running Wild
10) All In Your Mind

Added: June 16th 2010
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Related Link: Angel Air
Hits: 2004
Language: english

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