Back Street Crawler – Second Street (1976)

LPFrontCover12nd Street is a 1976 album by Back Street Crawler and was released on the Atco Records label. It was released after Paul Kossoff’s death in March 1976, ans is dedicated to him. The album is regarded as a considerable advance on their 1975 debut The Band Plays On, but Kossoff’s involvement in it is limited to lead guitar lines over the completed tracks. (by wikipedia)

This is simply one of the great-underrated rock albums of the 1970’s and the last album to feature Paul Kossoff on guitar. He actually died before the album was released due to a heroin addiction. It almost seems as if Koss knew this was to be his last effort and his playing is of an unusually melancholic and lilting quality on tracks like, “Blue Soul”, “Some Kind Of Happy” and particularly the end portion of “Leaves in the Wind.”

Blending beautifully with Koss’ guitar is the keyboard work of John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick. He has a haunting and equally reflective style that embraces aspects of melancholy and longing. His unique style brought a similar layer of sophistication to Free’s final album “Heartbreaker.” In more recent years, he has been the regular touring keyboard player with The Who.

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Paul Kossoff + Terry Wilson-Slesser, 1975

Of equal importance are the powerful, soulful and curiously unaffected vocals of Terry Wilson Slesser. His voice is just perfect for these well-crafted songs that vary between the funky “Stop Doing What Your Doing”, the acoustic driven “Raging River” and the pleading “Some Kind Of Happy.” The latter song also features some nice blending of his voice with some impassioned female back-up singers. His voice never falls into any overwrought bellowing or bluster and always provides what the song needs without drawing special attention to his voice. A perfect example of this is on the song “Just for you” which many other singers of the era would have delivered in an overdone bluesy growl. Here Slesser sings like a man truly pining for a woman he has recently lost. No bravado just a wish unfulfilled.

Two real highlights are the last two songs, “On Your Life” and “Leaves in the Wind.” “On Your Life” is a perfect example of this band working as one with no showboating. The keyboards blend perfectly with the vocals, and the drumming of Tony Braunagel is tight but never intrusive. It’s a sad remembrance captured in song. “Leaves In The Wind” starts out as a nice funky groove with some tasty bass from Terry Wilson (like this band in general, an underrated bass player) before moving into its reflective second half where, appropriately, Paul Kossoff shows off his lilting guitar playing in all its glory.

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This is simply one of the great-underrated rock albums of the 1970’s and the last album to feature Paul Kossoff on guitar. He actually died before the album was released due to a heroin addiction. It almost seems as if Koss knew this was to be his last effort and his playing is of an unusually melancholic and lilting quality on tracks like, “Blue Soul”, “Some Kind Of Happy” and particularly the end portion of “Leaves in the Wind.”

Blending beautifully with Koss’ guitar is the keyboard work of John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick. He has a haunting and equally reflective style that embraces aspects of melancholy and longing. His unique style brought a similar layer of sophistication to Free’s final album “Heartbreaker.” In more recent years, he has been the regular touring keyboard player with The Who.

Of equal importance are the powerful, soulful and curiously unaffected vocals of Terry Wilson Slesser. His voice is just perfect for these well-crafted songs that vary between the fune use…Leaves in the wind” with Kossoff’s sad guitar weeping along it’s true magic and a perfectly fitting end to a very brief life, of not only Paul Kossoff, but a band with great promise. Of course, the band would carry on under the shortened moniker Crawler, with a new guitarist, but the rare magic captured here was never quite matched again. The only negative about this album is that it is too short! (source: unknown)

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Personnel:
Tony Braunagel (drums, vocals)
John “Rabbit” Bundrick (keyboards, vocals)
Paul Kossoff (guitar)
Terry Wilson (bass, guitar)
Terry Wilson Slesser (vocals)
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Snuffy Walden (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Selfish Lover (Bundrick) 3.24
02. Blue Soul (Wilson) 3.43
03. Stop Doing What You’re Doing (Braunagel/Bundrick/Kossoff/Wilson/Wilson-Slesser) 3.25
04. Raging River (Wilson) 3.10
05. Some Kind Of Happy (Wilson) 4.55
06. Sweet Beauty (Wilson) 3.13
07. Just For You John (Bundrick/Rutherford) 6.21
08. On Your Life (Bundrick) 3.57
09. Leaves In The Wind (Bundrick/Rutherford) 5.08

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Backstreet Crawler – The Band Plays On (1974)

FrontCover1The Band Plays On is the debut album from Back Street Crawler, fronted by ex-Free guitarist Paul Kossoff. Keyboard player Mike Montgomery composed six songs and co-wrote two others on the album, in addition to singing lead vocals on “All the Girls Are Crazy” and “Survivor”. He dueted with Terry Wilson-Slesser on “New York, New York” (a Mike Montgomery original, and not the tune made famous by Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra). Montgomery subsequently left the band and was replaced by John “Rabbit” Bundrick.

The Mike Montgomery songs, “Jason Blue” and “The Band Plays On”, had previously appeared on a self-titled 1973 album by Bloontz, in which Terry Wilson, Mike Montgomery and Tony Braunagel had played together prior to the formation of Back Street Crawler. (by wikipedia)

While Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke left Free for Swan Song/Atlantic’s Bad Company, their ex-bandmate, the late Paul Kossoff, put together another group on Atlantic which sounded like…you guessed it…Bad Company. Terry Wilson-Slesser could easily be mistaken for Rodgers on so much of this album, be it the song “Jason Blue” or “It’s a Long Way to the Top.” This material is terrific sleeper stuff for the ’70s hard rock genre, before Foreigner made that whole world much slicker. Where Lou Gramm could sometimes annoy, Back Street Crawler creates real hard rock art, taking this oh so seriously. The song “Jason Blue” is a powerful potion, one that would fit perfectly on a classic hits station, arguably one of the best tracks here.

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It is one of six compositions by Mike Montgomery, the major force on this album. Montgomery co-writes two additional tunes and sings lead on “All the Girls Are Crazy” and “Survivor,” dueting with Terry Wilson-Slesser on “New York, New York” (a Mike Montgomery original, not the tune made famous by Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra). And by the way, how many groups would have two guys named Terry Wilson in their band at the same time anyway? The more you play The Band Plays On, the more it grows on you. It is one of those albums that has enormous depth that can’t be heard on the first spin or two. Sounding so much like Bad Company on the same label was no doubt a drawback — Backstreet Crawler02the records showing up in the same section alphabetically at retail bins, their names so closely aligned, the unfortunate big difference for Back Street Crawler was no hit single emerging from this set. Mike Montgomery’s vocal style on the excellent song “Survivor” isn’t as gritty as Terry Slesser, nor as commercial. Slesser would leave after this project to be replaced by John “Rabbit” Bundrick on vocal, who similarly joined Free when they needed his talents to replace members moving on. “It’s a Long Way Down to the Top” could be Bad Company performing “Ready for Love,” down to the riff and the mood, but so many references to that band don’t take away from the fact that this is a solid ’70s blues-rock disc with hooks, top-notch production, and lots to offer. Wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the road people started picking up on The Band Plays On, songs like “New York, New York,” “It’s a Long Way Down to the Top,” and “Jason Blue” are ripe for being covered. (by Joe Viglione)

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Personnel:
Tony Braunagel (drums)
Paul Kossoff (guitar)
Mike Montgomery (keyboards, vocals)
Terry Wilson (guitar, bass)
Terry Wilson-Slesser (vocals)
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George Lee (flute, saxophone on 07. + 09.)
Eddie Quansah (trumpet, flugelhorn on 07. + 09.)
Pete Van ((saxophone on 07. + 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Hoo Doo Woman” (Back Street Crawler) 4.17
02. New York, New York (Montgomery) 4.40
03. Stealing My Way (Mike Montgomery/Kossoff) 4.21
04. Survivor Montgomery) 3.35
05. It’s A Long Way Down To The Top Montgomery) 5.58
06. All The Girls Are Crazy Montgomery) 3.33
07. Jason Blue ( Montgomery) 4.57′
08. Train Song (Wilson/Braunagel) 4.36
09. Rock & Roll Junkie (Montgomery) 3.17
10. The Band Plays On (Wilson) 3.17

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