British Lions

British Lions

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With a band patched together from the remnants of Mott the Hoople, British Lions is all swagger and little substance; music performed as though it's very important and vital, but with little in the way of memorable tunes or attitude. That's the late-'70s hard rock mainstream for you, and it's easy to imagine these guys slogging it out in arenas as a support act, which in fact they did for Blue Öyster Cult and UFO. Really, it's hard to hear this without sniggering a little. Worse, it sort of recalls the pathetic fictional '70s band featured in the British movie Still Crazy that was posited as a group once very popular and meaningful, but played songs so shallow and derivative that any viewer with a reasonably deep background in music appreciation would fail to be convinced. It's convenient to blame British Lions' lack of major success upon their being stuck between the hard rock-glam and punk-new wave eras, but that's a red herring. No, the real cause was their dull material, absence of striking originality, and irritating bombast, throwing in elements of glam, pub rock, Bob Dylan, hard rock, and prog that don't cohere into anything significant or enjoyable. The compilers of this CD obviously do not agree, viewing this phase of the band's development important enough to merit a reissue with extensive liner notes by drummer Dale Buffin Griffin and no less than eight previously unreleased bonus tracks taken from a 1978 BBC Peel session, a live 1978 show, and demos. Actually, the last three of those demos -- recorded in 1979 by British Lions members John Fiddler and Ray Major -- are passable, much lower-key things, occasionally rather folky, that don't sound at all like the stuff on the rest of the disc. [Released in 1978, British Lions was reissued with bonus tracks in 2006.]

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