Jameson Raid

Just as the Dust Had Settled

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Shadow Kingdom's admirable anthropological efforts to unearth the most obscure relics from heavy metal's ancient history continues with yet another noteworthy New Wave of British Heavy Metal excavation: Jameson Raid's largely unreleased and very underrated catalog. Arguably better known as the Raid, because they'd adopted that moniker just long enough to be billed as such on 1980's legendary Metal for Muthas, Vol. 2 compilation, Jameson Raid had already been honing their craft in and around the Birmingham area since 1977 (1975 if you count their days known as Notre Dame), and by early 1979 had amassed a fairly eclectic body of work, distinguished by unusually "deep" lyrics. For example, this collection's opening number, and one of the band's most popular, "Seven Days of Splendour," took a philosophical look at alien abduction, while its prog-infused B-side, "Catcher in the Rye," obviously explored J.D. Salinger's famous novel (both were released in early 1979, along with the more straightforward "It's a Crime"). "Titanic" also found singer Terry Dark aiming his ambitions straight for that big ol' iceberg (so to speak), while "Do It the Hard Way" sifted through the career detritus of an aging guitar slinger, still hoping for his big break. Speaking from a more strictly musical standpoint, "Straight from the Butchers" saw guitarist Ian Smith outmuscling the classic "La Grange" chord sequence, "Run for Cover" showed the band sprinting into quasi-speed metal territory, and "Never Again" was simply a powerhouse band showcase, particularly for the John Ace/Phil Kimberly rhythm section. But Jameson Raid's strongest compositional suit definitely involved stylish but catchy and melodic heavy rock, cast in the same forge as their Metal for Muthas, Vol. 2 colleagues Trespass (or a modern Thin Lizzy/UFO hybrid), as evidenced by the aforementioned "Seven Days of Splendour," plus the equally striking "The Hypnotist," "Electric Sun," and "The Raid," featuring gang choruses reminiscent of Praying Mantis. Of course, given the typically Spartan production values afforded to independent bands at the time (lo-fi values that, if you ask any NWOBHM scholar, naturally account for half their enduring charm), not even these most polished and accomplished songs were ready for a close-up on commercial radio. But sampled in retrospect on this collection, it's easier to see why Jameson Raid came oh so close to making a run at greater notoriety, before it all went pear-shaped.

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