Ah, drummers' solo albums - where would we be without them? Laughing at the bass players', probably, and besides, there's more than a handful of breakaway percussionists to whom all the old jokes and cliches really don't apply - Phil Collins, Kevin Godley... Don Henley? No matter - suffice to say that Mick "Woody" Woodmansey, late of David Bowie's Spiders From Mars, does not fit into this category.
One would have thought the lessons of the previous year might already have nipped such ambitions in the bud. Reuniting with fellow former Spider Trevor Bolder (yep, a bassist), Woodmansey had already tasted abject failure when he reclaimed the old
Martian Arachnoid billing and cut one truly lifeless lump of wax. But were his fingers burned? Was his ambition curtailed? No and no. Twelve months later he resurfaced (if you'll pardon the pun) as captain of his very own U-Boat and one look at the cover - a garish comic book frame depicting our heroes as embattled rock warriors - should have been warning enough.
Old fascinations die hard, however, and old Bowie fans fade even harder. Out they went to buy the record - and back they went to plead for their money back. But what is the return policy on ten lumpen slabs of workaday rock, whose greatest influences would appear to be latter-day albums by Deep Purple and Uriah Heep - with all the humorless horsefacedness that that implies? Gritting one's teeth, one can find a few kind things to say about the joyfully bombastic title track, and "Rock Show" is certainly one of the better songs to labor beneath the shoptalk banner. But across the course of an entire album, U Boat gives even the merciless submarine killers of World War Two a bad name. And, when it was finally scuppered, not even mad marine enthusiasts shed a tear for it's memory.