Strider – Exposed (1973)

LPFrontCover1Strider was a British hard rock band, signed to the tiny GM label (Warner, in the U.S.) owned by one Billy Gaffs, better known as the sometime manager of Rod Stewart and John Cougar, among others.

Their first LP, Exposed, was unveiled in 1973, bearing a striking – and intentional – resemblance to Humble Pie, thanks to keyboardist Ian Kewley’s howling, soulful vocals (not quite Steve Marriott, but pretty ballsy just the same), Gary Grainger’s blustery, rip-roaring guitar, and a rock-solid rhythm section, à la Free, in bassist Lee Hunter and drummer Jimmy Hawkins.

Unfortunately, despite being uniformly well-constructed and expertly played, with gusto and attitude, the rousing, in-concert favorite “Flying,” the bruising (if occasionally glam-sparkled) “Esther’s Place,” and a tough little bastard called “Straddle,” simply lacked that magical immediacy required of would-be-hits.

Ditto attempts to further incorporate the Pie’s R&B flavors (along with Kewley’s more prominent keys) like “Ain’t Got No Love” and “Higher and Higher” (watch out for the falsetto right out of The Darkness), featuring Jennie Haan, of Babe Ruth, on backing vocals.

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And while “Woman Blue” revealed a mellower side of the band and the eight-minute “Get Ready” some unexpected versatility, Strider were seemingly doomed to obscurity – even though they toured extensively with Status Quo, Deep Purple and, yes, Humble Pie.

Following a lineup reshuffle, Strider released a second LP in ‘74 (the aptly named Misunderstood) and then went their separate ways, with Grainger later backing up Rod Stewart for several albums and tours. (by Eduardo Rivadavia)Strider02

Well … We just about made it, even though the beers of various countries came swirling in frothy torrents, 2 feet deep, through the control room. Sometimes these floods carried the lads into oblivion, but they forged onwards with the production, for which they can thank Jimmy Horowitz and Themselves, not forgetting the sober Phil Dunne, on advice. Strider threw up and disarranged the arrangements, while Phil Dunne (again?) engineered the whole shebang with admirable fortitude. John Eaton set the tapes up in between bouts of stealing our booze. All this happened at the Marquee Studios, London, and was recorded on a 16 track something or other, that coped memorably with the event. (Especially as it was February 1973.) (taken from  the original liner notes, 1973)

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With Babe Ruth’s free-swingin’ Jenny (Janita) Haan guesting on backing vocals, I was immediately drawn to Strider’s Exposed LP. Little in stature, Haan packed a big set of vocal cords, as the Middlesex born singer displayed throughout First Base, the 1972 debut LP from the hard hittin’ Babe Ruth, which features the round-trippin’ “Wells Fargo” and “The Mexican”.

Strider’s first shot from the studio peaks early, with the intro tag-team of “Flying” and “Ain’t Got No Love”, plus the spirited “Woman Blue”, leading the way from the ’73 LP release. Lead single, “Higher and Higher”, as expected, carries an accessible edge, with the track closing out the stronger A-side.

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A lengthy cover of “Get Ready”, at nearly nine-minutes brings the blues rock LP to a needle-in-the-groove run-out. The remake of “Get Ready” is no match for Rare Earth’s intense version of the Motown classic penned by Smokey Robinson for the Temptations back in 1966. Produced by Jimmy Horowitz, singer Ian Kewley added keyboard work during the studio sessions for Exposed. Hammond organ fills, a staple of the early ’70s hard rock scene, would have sounded so much cooler on the recording. (Jon Fox)

Yes, that is exactly the sound that I appreciate and love so much !

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Personnel:
Gary Grainger (guitar)
Jim Hawkins (drums)
Lee Hunter (bass)
Ian Kewley -(keyboards, vocals)
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Tracklist:
01. Flying (Grainger/Kewley) 6.02
02. Ain’t Got No Love (Grainger/Noton) 4.18
03. Woman Blue (Kewley/Hunter/Hawkins/Noton) 5.41
04. Higher And Higher (Jackson/Smith) 3.55
05. Esther’s Place (Grainger/Kewley/Noton) 6.30
06. Straddle (Grainger/O’Brien/Kewley/Noton) 3.49
07. Get Ready (Holland/Dozier/Holland) 8.51

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