If any band can lay claim to a seat on the should-have-been shuttle, it's Midnight Flyer, the greatest rock group you've never heard of. This extraordinarily talented quintet comprised veteran artists hailing from a myriad of notable bands -- Stone the Crows, Whitesnake, and Foghat among them. Lead singer Maggie Bell, an ex-Crow and regular winner of a U.K. "Best Of" readers' polls, was the linchpin of the project, piecing together a new group even as her solo albums were receiving rave reviews. Midnight Flyer was everything she hoped for, as it was for most of the other members, each looking to spread wings too often clipped in the past, and all contributed songs to this set. The group inked a deal with Swansong, to whom Bell was already signed as a solo act, with Bad Company/Mott the Hoople's Mick Ralphs brought in as producer. So this set should rock -- hard -- and it does, although the transfer to CD has somewhat flattened the sound. But keep turning up the volume, and when the roof starts shaking you can finally hear the intrinsic power captured on the original vinyl. The remastering does a fine job of pulling John Cook's keyboards up in the mix; unfortunately, it's at the expense of the guitars, another drawback. Yet so potent is the music that even these flaws can't soften the set's potency. And nothing can blunt Bell's edge, as she struts and strolls, wails and rails across the CD. In the end, this is her showcase, as she steals every song out from under her hard-rocking bandmates. She's a star, and there's no eclipsing her. However, this did not prevent the band from dying of benign neglect. In the aftermath of John Bonham's death, labelhead Peter Grant allowed Swansong to drift into free fall. Bad Company and Midnight Flyer consequently suffered the same fate, each drifting on rudderless for a couple of years before calling it a day. Flyer's members went their separate ways, yet each continued to play -- in a dizzying array of bands -- and further stamped their own imprimaturs on the U.K. scene. This superb album captures them all at some of their rockingest heights.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene