Jameson Raid

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Like many New Wave of British Heavy Metal contenders, Birmingham's Jameson Raid never did achieve true commercial success, but they still managed to survive and even thrive for many years on the strength…
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Like many New Wave of British Heavy Metal contenders, Birmingham's Jameson Raid never did achieve true commercial success, but they still managed to survive and even thrive for many years on the strength of local gigging and fan word-of-mouth, before joining the ranks of countless fellow also-rans in the halls of cult metal Valhalla.

Notre Dame, as the band was initially called, was formed in Birmingham, circa 1975, and adopted the Jameson Raid moniker (taken from a late 19th century South African uprising) some two years later, when ex-Hoi Polloi vocalist Terry Dark was persuaded to join the existing lineup of guitarist Ian Smith, bassist John Ace, and drummer Phil Kimberley. With punk rock dominating national headlines, Jameson Raid's hard/prog/glam rock influences (covering everything from Mott the Hoople to Thin Lizzy) and gimmicky on-stage wardrobe (a little fake blood here, a stocking over the head there, and vintage military jackets, to boot) were clearly not in vogue. But the quartet still made strides playing the Northern England pub circuit, persisting long enough for the U.K.'s musical tide to start turning their way again. So in February of 1979, having noticed that the first seeds of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal were starting to take root, Jameson Raid took pains to finance and release their own debut EP, which showcased their eclectic talents via three tracks covering classy but infectious heavy rock ("Seven Days of Splendor"), anthemic, radio-oriented simplicity ("It's a Crime"), and even highbrow literary fodder ("Catcher in the Rye"). In March, they supported Def Leppard and Magnum at London's Hammersmith Odeon and officially entered the N.W.O.B.H.M. consciousness, culminating in the inclusion of one of their songs, "Hard Lines," in the Metal for Muthas, Vol. 2 compilation, issued in May 1980. Unfortunately, during a momentary identity crisis due to the imminent departure of guitarist Smith (later replaced by Mike Darby) and bassist Ace (replaced by one Peter Green; no, not that one!), the band requested that they be billed as simply "the Raid" (presumably, Jameson Raid also sounded far too South African?), thus dissociating all of their efforts so far from what proved to be the biggest break of their career. Not that it ultimately mattered, because losing its two founding members apparently derailed Jameson Raid's momentum for good, and after issuing the End of Part One EP to tie up the original lineup's recordings, the group proceeded to stumble through numerous additional musicians and ineffectual demo sessions until crumbling in 1983. Years later, some of those latter-day demos would appear (along with the better-known early material) on the Shadow Kingdom label's Just as the Dust Had Settled compilation (2010), and, amazingly, the "classic" Jameson Raid quartet had only recently reunited after more than 25 years apart to perform select dates in the U.K. and Germany.