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PAT TRAVERS Reissues Cherry Red Records (2008)

Pat Travers

Into the 80s and the Canadian born blues/rock guitarist vocalist took the NWoBHM head on.

Following from 1981's "Radio Active" (also issued on Lemon), with more line-up changes and label problems, Black Pearl was issued on Polydor in 1982. By then Polydor had prematurely dropped Travers and he sued for breach of contract. With Pat Thrall moving on (not getting the limelight he wanted in the 'Pat Travers Band'), the band returned as a four piece, not with a second guitarist but a pianist. So alongside drummer Sandy Gennaro and bassist Peter Mars Cowling, this album introduced pianist Don Harriss, later known for new age music and stints with Camel.

The album 'Black Pearl' is a polished set of sound hard rock. On one hand it kept Travers' blues rock with fire and aplomb, but on the other it was FM friendly without going AOR. And another area Travers excelled at was knowing when to sit back. Highlight the fault of many a shred guitarist, if the bass or drums needed to make a break, he sat back and let them. Equally, the excellent "Who'll Take The Fall" features a neat keyboard solo. But then his guitar comes in and kicks you up the ass just to remind you who's in charge. That said track also nods at Dixie Dreggs and in places at Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright". Take that as a compliment, it really stands out.

A highlight is a beefed up take on Beethoven's Fifth. ****

1984 and a rejuvenated Travers (with a new look band) released Hot Shot on Polygram. By this time the band featured drummer Pat Marchino, bassist Barry Dunaway and second guitarist Jerry Riggs (of the band Riggs fame!) yet on closer inspection, many tracks were recorded as a three piece, and bassist Mars Cowling appears once or twice. Also look out for Dave Kiswiney (Ted Nugent), Don Brewer (Grand Funk Railroad) and John Thorpe.

Another blistering album will killer riffs and the odd burst of slide guitar. Solid vocals and even a touch of funk! ****

Both albums are underrated and genuine lost gems, with at least one never before on CD. Some cohesive sleevenotes from Dave Ling bolster the sets too.

One for Travers fans, blues rock, power hard rock fans and guitarists alike.

Review by Joe Geesin

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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