Stone the Crows

Ode to John Law

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In a way, you have to feel sorry for Stone the Crows. All the elements were there for them to have been one of the major bands, up there with Zeppelin -- they even had the same management. But even on this, their second and best album, they could never quite put everything together. Live, they were an incendiary act, with singer Maggie Bell and guitarist Les Harvey true stars. Somehow, though, once they entered a recording studio, the magic seemed to come off with the overcoats. That's not to say this isn't a good album. "Sad Mary," "Friend," and "Love 74" are all showcases for Harvey's excellent guitar skills, while "Things Are Getting Better" and a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Danger Zone" let Maggie Bell shine in her best Janis Joplin style (although it's a shame bassist Jim Dewar has his considerable vocal talents muffled). The good time, neo folk-rock of "Mad Dogs And Englishmen" offers some light relief. The biggest problem, really, was the songs -- the original material simply wasn't strong enough to establish them as anything more than a cult act working the British college circuit. A hit single, or even a huge album track, would have lifted them out of the more. On this disc, "Love 74" was as close as they came, but instrumentals in 7/4 time were never usually commercial blockbusters. The reissue on Repertoire appends the shorter single version of "Things Are Getting Better."

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