Formed out of the ashes of Mott, which was basically Mott The Hoople minus band leader Ian Hunter, British Lions were another short lived outfit that some critics would say failed to capture the original spirit and energy of MTH.
By 1976 Mott, which at the time consisted of keyboardist Morgan Fisher, guitarist Ray Major, bassist Overend Watts and drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin was in a shambles following their parting of ways with vocalist Nigel Benjamin. On top of that the bands two albums Drive On (1975) and Shouting And Pointing (1976) failed to make much of impact in America, so it wasn't surprising that the bands label CBS pulled the plug not long afterwards. After the dust settled the remaining members brought in former Medicine Head vocalist / guitarist John Fiddler who on the surface with his hippie like appearance and more simplistic musical approach must have seemed like a rather unlikely choice at the time. However armed with his made for the stage anthems Fiddler would prove to be the perfect addition for this new project which would go by the name of British Lions.
Although they would only record two albums during their short run together, both released smack dab in the middle of the punk rock boom, the band certainly demonstrated they had the potential to be more than just a footnote in the Mott The Hoople story. This excellent Angel Air archive release brings a 1978 radio broadcast from San Francisco back into your consciousness to give you a heaping dose of hard driving, rock 'n roll swagger that classic rock fans will been eager to sink their teeth into.
To illustrate the new positive energy flowing through the Lions camp the band deftly mixes in a healthy amount of new original material with "One More Chance To Run", "Fork Talkin' Man" and "My Life In Your Hands" along with some rather bold cover choices such as their swift, effective romp through Chuck Berry's "Come On", Garland Jeffery's "Wild In The Streets" and a perfectly executed medley that segues from The Byrds to The Rolling Stones to The Sex Pistols (proof that the band embraced influence of punk) with ease. Fiddler and Major's dynamic guitar work absolutely shine throughout the course of this concert, but surprisingly doesn't dominate or drown out the other instruments as is often the case with live recordings. Credit definitely has to given to whoever mixed this show because we get to hear some equally fabulous keyboard and piano playing from Fisher as he slips in a few curveballs into his solos on "Fork Talkin' Man", "Love Now" and "Eat The Rich".
This searing sixty minute live concert can best be described as tight but loose. All it takes is one listen and you can tell that the band had these songs down cold and yet there is also that looseness that allows them to stretch out and improvise a bit as well. As an added bonus a few demos have been tacked onto the end of this disc but to be honest with you I didn't really give them a lot of play and that's only because I constantly had these these eleven, live barnburners on repeat.
It's great that an archive release such as this one, along with Joe Elliot's recent Down n' Outz project can help keep the name and more importantly the music of British Lions alive so that it's not completely swept under the carpet. Whether you're revisiting this underrated band or just discovering them now for the first time, you'll want to pick yourself up a copy of this superb recording Live at The Old Waldorf, San Francisco 1978 because at the end of the day music this good deserves to be heard.
1) One More Chance To Run
2) Fork Talkin' Man
3) Break This Fool
4) Come On
5) International Heroes
6) My Life In Your Hands
7) Love Now
8) Wild In The Streets
10) Medley: So You Want To Be A Rock 'n Roll Star/ It's Only Rock 'n Roll/ Pretty Vacant
11) Eat The Rich
12) One More Chance To Run (demo)
13) Wild In The Streets (demo)
14) Booster (demo)