Lake, or commonly referred to as The Lake in some countries, is a German-British rock music group that formed in 1973 in Hamburg, Germany. In 1975, they were joined by lead singer James Hopkins-Harrison, who gave them their signature sound for the remainder of their recording career.
The band was originally active as The Tornados between 1967 and 1973, before reincarnated as Lake in 1973. They achieved modest success in Europe from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, particularly in Germany where they were named artist of the year by the German Phono Academy in 1977. That same year, their self-titled debut album reached #92 in the US, and the single Time Bomb reached #83, which would prove to be their greatest success in the US.
The album reached #97 while Time Bomb reached #91 in Canada. Lake toured the US in the late 1970s as the opening act for various headline acts, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Oak Arkansas, and Neil Young. On June 23, 1978, they were the opening act of a rock festival at the Feyenoord football stadium in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and were followed by Eric Clapton, Champion Jack Dupree and headliner Bob Dylan. After their contract with CBS was discontinued the label released previously unavailable live material from stage appearances between May 1979 and October 1980, introducing the Lake 1 (incl. Detlef Petersen) and the Lake 2 (incl. Achim Oppermann) formations on the double live album Live – On the Run. The band was able to sign another contract with the German Polydor label and in 1984 they released album #6, No Time for Heroes.
In 1985 Lake released Voices and in 1986 recorded its final Polydor album, So What. Longtime drummer Dieter Ahrendt left and was replaced by Udo Dahmen. Bassist Jo (Josef) Kappl also left, replaced by Benjamin Hüllenkrämer. So What included “Inside To Outside”, written by Achim Oppermann which had already been performed by former Kajagoogoo lead singer Limahl. Lake ceased to exist by 1986/87. James Hopkins-Harrison died from an overdose of heroin in 1991.
At the beginning of the new millennium, Lake was revived by Alex Conti, including Mike Starrs, Adrian Askew, Mickie Stickdorn, and Michael “Bexi” Becker. In March 2005, the first Lake studio recording in 20 years was released: The Blast of Silence.
After having had to withdraw their 2012 album, Freedom, due to quarrels with their then singer, Lloyd Anderson; their original singer, Ian Cussick, rejoined the band. In February 2014, Lake released their new album Wings of Freedom, which contains most of the material of Freedom (except for three songs which have been replaced by two new songs), with new vocals by Cussick.
And here´s their last studio album:
“Commercial songs – presented in a sophisticated manner,” this was already on Alex Conti´s mind during the time when the well reputed Blues Rock guitarist joined the Hamburg outfit LAKE in October 1975 – “on the second day”, in the ancient biblical sense. A stylistic mix giving The Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan a run for their money impressed the Rock scene as well as the media: Backing the sound-defining lead singer James Hopkins-Harrison, this quintet was able to present delicate four-part harmonies as well as Jazz Rock grooves – and their soloing was world class also. In 1973, this German-British Rock group had gone out as a horn-assisted Big Band in Chicago and BS&T style, defined by members of the Hamburg Top 40 gang The Tornados: featuring lead singer Ian Cussick, bass player Martin Tiefensee and drummer Dieter Ahrendt. They were joined by musicians from Gary Glitter’s Boston Showband – organ player Geoffrey Peacey and trumpet player Bernard Whelan.Fort the band´s future West Coast Sound, this line-up seemed hardly typical. In order to arrive at their desired & definite style, they needed the sharp and sensitive voice of the Hanseatic Scotsman James Hopkins-Harrison.
When Alex Conti joined Lake, leaving Germany´s leading rock group Atlantis, the band had found their sonic calling at last. LAKE proceeded to drive the hard slog through the club circuit of the Republic – and soon the songs and arrangements provided by producer Detlef Petersen and singer Hopkins Harrison really worked a treat.The debut album LAKE, excellently sung and played and commercially oriented as it was, had been engineered “out in the country” by Abbey Road soundman Jerry Boys: the famous knob twiddler had served the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Yehudi Menuhin (!) from the other side of his glass partition – any need for a truly “bad” reputation? Jerry Boys and the Lake boys presented a sound which continues to impress even now, in 2010. Their LAKE collection hit the charts in 1976 the same way as the Gospel power single “Jesus Came Down” – pole position for a band which was able to move faster than even their media hype suggested – proved by a nationwide German tour with The Sutherland Brothers and Wishbone Ash. The harmony sound of those “Sailing” brothers Iain and Gavin Sutherland was topped as easily as the twin lead-guitars of Ash´s axemen Powell&Wisefield.Results were the national disc award “Deutscher Schallplattenpreis“ in April 1977, concert appearances with Genesis and gigantic open airs in Nuremburg and Karlsruhe with their role models Santana and Chicago. As far as their rough road anecdotes are concerned, one of them is a real horror nightmare even for our tough Lake warriors: During a US tour in 1977, it turned out that the band not only had a sixth sense in writing vocal harmonies, but also excelled in choosing airplanes. Lake musicians narrowly escaped the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, because they had been booked for a radio session in Atlanta, Georgia prior to joining a Lynyrd-led festival.This LAKE band has been touring steadily since May 2002, re-constructing their combination of high harmony overkill and high adrenalin riffing and lovingly re-creating unforgotten classics like „Jesus Came Down“ or „Red Lake“ on a never-ending club tour. In February 2004, George Kochbeck decided to leave the LAKE re-incarnation – fully booked with film and TV music projects as he was. He got replaced by the experienced and reliable first rate Atlantis veteran Adrian Askew.Soon, cries for a LAKE comeback album became louder.
The well-oiled new line-up reacted in 2005 with BLAST OF SILENCE – and according to Mickie Stickdorn, “it was recorded in only twelve wonderful session days, with the complete package done and dusted!” LAKE guitarist Alex seemed to have found his ideal line-up, but confirms that the doors remain open for the legendary “Mark II“ section of Tiefensee- Ahrendt-Peacey-Petersen.Certainly, the songs on the new album sound as inspired as those of the “classic” LAKE era – featuring tremendous songs, fleshy riffs and rousing Hammond organ outbursts. Vocal power works in solo renditions courtesy of Mike Starrs and also in the high harmonies of Conti-Becker- Stickdorn-Askew, aided by a precise rhythmic engine room with tons of spare energy – and of course the inimitable guitar courtesy of Alex Conti. „Steely Dan with balls?“ Those veterans can live with that moniker.The line-up continued to play live until 2008. For one year, Adrian Askew was replaced by Ingo Bischof, a German keyboard legend in bands such as Kraan and Karthago, and – what goes around – Alex was happy to have his old Rosebud mate Holger Trull back on board, playing bass.
In 2009, Mike Starrs parted amically from LAKE, and Ingo Bischof went back to his own attractive projects. The new front man and lead singer is Chris Thornton jr – he has been on tour with T.M. Stevens and was a member of Alex´ former retro rousers Rudolf Rock & Die Schocker. On keyboards there is Jens Skwirblies now, who played with Ian Cussick´s band for years and also backed Toto singer Bobby Kimball.The current line-up has already achieved a first major tour with remarkable reviews. At the end of February, the band picked up the unique, one-in-a-million opportunity of supporting the legendary cult band Lynyrd Skynyrd on their German tour. Thus, Alex Conti was able to share the stage with the Southern Rock heroes for an exciting third time in his career. The remainder of 2010 will be spent playing further spectacular gigs – for instance with Foreigner – and of course, the long awaited new CD has now passed the planning stages and is being prepared in earnest! (metal-jukebox.net)
Alex Conti (guitar, background vocals)
Ian Cussick (vocals)
Jens Skwirblies (keyboards, background vocals)
Mickie Stickdorn (drums, background vocals)
Holger Trull (bass, background vocals)
Lloyd Anderson (vocals on 02.)
Eddie Filipp (drums, percussion on 03., 04., 08. + 09,)
Jim Hopkins-Harrison (vocals on 05.)
01. Passionate Eyes (Conti/Randolf) 04:15
02. Silvia (Cussick/Skwirblies) 05:50
03. Die Just A Little (Mendonca) 03:18
04. Stone Crazy (Cussick/Skwirblies) 04:02
05. Nightbirds (Altenbroxter/Becker) 04:18
06. Ted Nugent And The Gunner’s Blues (Conti/Randolf) 05:00
07. Gin And Tonic (Mendonca) 04:14
08. Nineteen Sixties Man (Conti/Cussick) 03:52
09. Freewheeling (Conti/Randolf) 04:39
10. Wings Of Freedom (Conti/Cussick) 05:05
More from Lake:
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