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STRAY Reissues Castle (2006)

Albums two, three and four from west London band Stray; underrated early 70s hard rock. 1971’s Suicide (Castle CMRCD1384) (39:27) was originally released on folk label Transatlantic, which meant constant gigging to make up for the label’s lack of promotion.

Vocals were shared by guitarist/keyboard player Del Bromham and percussionist Steve Gadd. With heavy riffs aplenty, the band had come through MOD and psychedelia scenes to play hard rock with a nod at Led Zeppelin et al. Not quite premier division, it’s still a solid and enjoyable set. ***

Saturday Morning Pictures (Castle CMRCD1384) (39:27), released the following year, is a better album, sounding professional. Gadd’s vocals and Bromham’s guitar both excellent. Acoustic and atmospheric in places, there’s also a nod at their mod/rock roots and underground prog too. “After The Storm” is just infectious, with bassist Gary Giles and drummer Ritchie Cole on form. ***½ Stray

Mudanzas (Castle CMRCD1386) (44:10) featured a bigger production, with horns and a cleaner sound. Somehow the album went gold without charting, but worthy of its gold status. ****

All the albums here are presented with bonus tracks and extensive sleevenotes, the albums will please period fans.

Review by Joe Geesin

***** 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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