Stone the Crows – Teenage Licks (1971)

OriginalFrontCover1This third album from Scotland’s Stone the Crows was as close to hitting on all cylinders as they ever came in the studio. With some personnel changes following Ode to John Law (a new bassist and keyboard player), they powered through the disc, with “Big Jim Salter,” “I May Be Right I May Be Wrong,” and their version of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice” being the absolute standouts. The figureheads of vocalist Maggie Bell and guitarist Les Harvey had never sounded better as they worked in a pure rock vein, abandoning the blues aspect of their sound (Indeed, “Aileen Mochree” took them into Gaelic, a pleasant, brief side track) — check “Mr. Wizard” to get a good picture of where they were really headed. Of course, it wasn’t a one-dimensional sound; the keyboard-dominated “Seven Lakes” was full of pseudo-classical portentousness, almost de rigeur for the period. But it was when they rocked that Stone the Crows were at their best, and with this album they seemed truly poised to move up to the big time. (by Chris Nickson)

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Stone The Crows, live 1970

Personnel:
Colin Allen (drums, percussion)
Maggie Bell (vocals)
Les Harvey (guitar, recorder)
Ronnie Leahy (keyboards)
Steve Thompson (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Big Jim Salter (Allen/Harvey/Bell) 4.38
02. Faces (Allen/Bell/Harvey/Leahy/Thompson) 4.41
03. Mr. Wizard (Allen/Harvey/Bell) 5.30
04. Don’t Think Twice (Dylan) 5.04
05. Keep On Rollin’ (Allen/Harvey/Bell) 3.53
06. Ailen Mochree (Traditional) 0.24
07. One Five Eight (McGinnis) 6.27
08. I May Be Right I May Be Wrong (Allen/Bell/Harvey/Leahy/Thompson) 5.04
09. Seven Lakes (Allen/Bell/Harvey/Leahy/Thompson) 3.03

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Stone The Crows – Ode To John Law (1970)

OriginalFrontCover1This is the second album by Stone The Crows. I rate it as my favourite. This album is a stone classic (pun intended).Cut 1:”Sad Mary”, present-tense ruminations of Mary Queen of Scots awaiting & being lead to her beheading,musical portryal of the moment the axe blade falls.Cut 2:”Friend” a wonderful haunting soulful dirge imploring ‘open up your body let a friend in’.Cut 3:”Love” another dirge imploring ‘give me your love, I want your love, give me your love…, in this world of false ideals, love you can count on..’Cut 4:”Mad Dogs And Englishmen” light relief about the good times the band had touring as back up to a top-hatted singer/pianist and his band. Cut5:”Things Are Getting Better”, slow anthem to ‘those who died for freedom…help us fight for freedom every day.Cut 6:”Ode To John Law”, present-tense talking to a riot cop ‘Listen please dear John, go easy with that stick, cause if you keep on hitting I’ll fall and then you’ll kick’. Cut7:”Danger Zone” ruminations on the state of the modern world, ‘Just read your paper and you’ll see just what exactly has been bothering me’. (Cut 8 bonus track, an edited-for-radio-play version of cut 5 but a nice alternative way to finish the album if you want to end on a positive note or can’t be bothered programming it out). The musical mood of most of the album is is one of sadness and of coping with the cruelty of life, with a sombre eerie feel to the musical arrangements, which have strong influences from American Indian drumming & chanting, soulful slow psychedelia tinged guitar solos and prominent organ fills and dynamic shading. As always the lead singer Maggie Bell is as one with the rest of the band. For me,”Danger Zone” is outstanding in an album full of gems. I’d suggest anyone who likes to explore music that’s a little different take a punt on this one. If you’re already an Stone The Crows fan you won’t be dissappointed (by Jamie Anderson).

STCPersonnel:
Colin Allen (drums. percussion)
Maggie Bell (vocals)
Jim Dewar (bass)
Les Harvey (guitar)
John McGinnis (keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Sad Mary (McGinnis) 6.50
02. Friend (Harvey/Dewar) 6.25
03. Love (McGinnis) 6.33
04. Mad Dogs And Englishmen (Harvey/Allen) 3.32
05. Things Are Getting Better (McGinnis) 6.09
06. Ode To John Law (Harvey/Allen) 5.44
07. Danger Zone (Mayfield) 6.18
08. Things Are Getting Better (Single version) (McGinnis) 4.04

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