BITCHES SIN - Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival 2010
BITCHES SIN - Review from www.getreadytorock.com
NWOBHM band who first surfaced in 1980, called it a day in 1987 to return nearly twenty years later in 2006 following journalist and fan demand, releasing two albums since reforming.
They are based around original guitarist Ian Toomey and as well as producing this EP, Chris Tsangarides also plays guitar. This single is a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic given a radical classic metal sound.
In fact with vocalist Tony Tomkinson sounding at times like Jon Olivia it sounds not unlike Savatage. Not a bad version and I do like the quiet musical effects at the end of the song, nice touch.
'What Loving Means' and 'Red Skies' make up the single release, both being solid metal songs, nothing special but decent enough to warrant repeated plays.
Worth downloading but they may have been better off having this on a compilation CD put out by say 'Classic Rock' magazine to gain more exposure as I can only really see their existing fanbase going out to buy this. ***
Review by Jason Ritchie
BITCHES SIN - Review from www.metalcorefanzine.com
BITCHES SIN/The Sound Of Silence (Self Released) I reviewed a disc by this band about a yr ago and here they are back with a new 3 song EP and this blows away that last release. The tunes on here are heavier and pack a bigger punch. The Sounds of Silence cover is excellent and the other 2 tracks on this are bone crushing heavy metal numbers with some crunchy riffs. The singer has a great voice and he hits all the notes and sings the tunes with lots of emotion and passion. The band plans a full length out later this year and I for one can't wait. Excellent release. Info: www.myspace.com/bitchessin or www.bitchessin.co.uk
BITCHES SIN - Review from www.themayfairmallzine.com
Simon and Garfunkel and NWOBHM, bunnies with cut off denim and leathers, now that’s enough to give any diehard metal fan nightmares for the rest of his life.
But really, when NWOBHM legend Bitches Sin returned with their ‘UDUVUDU’ album back in 2008, their first in some twenty years, it was clear to all fans of that iconic NWOBHM era that you can't keep an old dog down. Now the guys are back with a bang and what other way to cause a stir in the metal world than to do a cover that no one would expect, hence the cover of the Simon And Garfunkel classic ‘The Sound Of Silence’. The band have beefed up the song beyond all expectations and make sound endearing to even the most diehard of metalheads, and has to be heard to be really appreciated.
As well as the cover this single also shows that Bitches Sin are back and back to their very best with the hard hitting ‘What Loving Means’, as old school NWOBHM as they come and ‘Red Skies’, a more modern metal track with Ian Toomey showing he hasn’t lost any of his technical expertise on the six string razor and the monstrous metal vocals of Tony Tomkinson equally sharp.
On the basis of these three tracks alone I just can't wait for a new album from the guys because the Bitches definitely back.
BITCHES SIN - Comments from the Metal Gods Radio Show 05/10/09
BITCHES SIN - Live Reviews - British Steel 2009
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU - Fireworks magazine
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU
Old Farts Can Still Play Heavy!
PayPlayFM.com Review - Kelton13
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU
"Bitches Sin – ‘UDUVUDU’ (Bitches Sin Records – NWOBHM veterans still have the fire)"
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU
First album in 20 years for these NWoBHM legends.
The opening title is as rough as it is heavy; the sledgehammer that hits you square in the face is covered in briars. 'Metalize' is heavy but a tad smoother – a nod at Judas Priest. The album develops well from there, solid power metal with doom, prog and NWoBHM edges.
The opening riffs to 'Red Skies' will grab fans new and old, and the alt-metal vocals keep the modern edge.
In the main a good classic trad metal album let down by trying to sound too modern in some places, and a little sloppiness in others. ***½
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU
BITCHES SIN/Uduvudu (Self Released) This band has been around a long time (in the 80's) and I have heard their music till this CD. I will say this, this CD is quite the kicker. The band hail from England and they were around during the NWOBHM era and on this release they still have that flame burning. The music is a pure fist banging metal delight with no groove, no nu metal crap or tough guy vocals. This is spikes to the wall metal. I like the almost dark production the band use as it makes the music just that much better. The singer has a great metal voice and he sings his balls off on this baby. The band just crank out great metal tune after another on this and it is well worth getting I assure you. You can get this at: www.cdbaby.com or try www.bitchessin.co.uk
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU
The bitch is back…
Since reforming a few years back, Bitches Sin have concentrated on releasing their legacy recordings and on guitarist Ian Toomey’s Flashpoint side-project – which brought them into contact with producer extraordinaire Chris Tsangarides. ‘Uduvudu’ is the band’s third real album, their first release of new material since ‘Invaders’ in 1986, and although its roots may lie the NWOBHM it’s a contemporary, forward-looking, kick-ass metal album.
Bitches Sin 2008 sees Toomey re-united with vocalist Tony Tomkinson from the band’s ‘Predator’ album era; drummer Steve Turton comes in from Flashpoint, DBasser fairly obviously handles the bass and Tsangarides himself signed up for guitars and keyboards.
Personal highlights are the diehard metal edged ‘Metalize’, the manic ‘White Room’, the bluesy ‘Beggars Parallel’, and ‘Selling Paradise’ which is the band’s ‘Achilles Last Stand’: unintentionally namechecking “the song remains the same” in the lyrics, it’s a Zeppelin-esque rocker, epic in construction and as memorable as the day is long.
There’s no slouches here, but Tomkinson’s vocals are terrific, Turton’s classical guitar on ‘Beggars Parallel is a dream and Toomey’s shredding on the ‘Psycho’- tinged ‘Mr Toomey’ is every axe-heroes’ delight.
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU
Bitches Sin! Older metal heads among us remember that name from their demos and their 2 full-length albums (Predator and Invaders). And they had a good reputation around the underground circles. Sadly enough they broke up around 1987 to form “Flashpoint”, which is a good band too in my humble opinion. Then in the last years Heavy Metal was rearing it ugly head again and the band got attention once more. And with that the band reissued their back catalog not thinking of really reinstating the band again.
It starts with the title song with rambling drums, great guitar riffs, driving bass and gruff and rough vocals and a kick ass solo. From here it is a rollercoaster of great songs; great guitar works of the brothers Toomey, awesome rhythm section and the amazing lungs of Tony Tomkinson, whose vocals has truly matured in time. ‘Metalize’ is a great Metal anthem. Then it goes into ‘Selling Paradise’ which carries a Middle Eastern tone, awesome! Now we go into a masterpiece called ‘Red Skies’, a fast paced song with great lyrics about present politics and wars. Incredible song. While catching breath we will hear ‘Nobody Wants You Here’ and ‘Mr. Toomey’. The latter starts with a blistering guitar into an old fashioned Heavy Metal song into a modern style of Metal and back again. Wonderful! Now we can catch our breath with to the only resting point called ‘Beggars Parallel’ with only a voice, acoustic guitar and some keyboards and great lyrics. In here you hear the softer side of the vocals of Tony. Now get ready again for more onslaught in the form of ‘Second Life’. Put it in higher drive with ‘White Room’, another masterpiece on this album. It sounds like speed metal or thrash metal but it is still heavy metal. Excellent!!
The band is back again!!! With a vengeance I might say. It doesn’t sound like their previous efforts but still it sounds familiar. Bitches Sin sounds like a new band. I think that is to the credit of being a freewheeling project with no pressure to make an album.
The songwriting and lyrics are awesome. The compositions are well thought off. They are simple and yet intricate and complex as Heavy Metal should be. Simple but musicality abound. The guitars are awesome because, even though Ian and Pete are great guitar players, they don’t put themselves into the foreground and saying “Here I am The Guitar God” and just play for the band and songs sake. And for the lyrics, well it is not your slay the dragons and save the maiden type of deal but more into politics, views of the present state of the world and life.
Sorry that I was long winding but this album is a CLASS A album. It kicks asses all around. A lot of bands can take notice of this album and this band on how it should be done for pure, old fashioned Heavy Metal.
In short: To me this is the best Metal album of 2008
Highlights: The whole album. But if you want song titles: Selling Paradise, Red Skies, White Room and Eleventh Hour.
BITCHES SIN - UDUVUDU (Independent)
I never thought I would ever be able to write a review about BITCHES SIN for Metal Maidens. Since DBasser is their new female bass player, this NWOBHM band is suitable for our magazine as well. BITCHES SIN consists of Ian Toomey on lead guitar, Steve Turton on drums, Chris Tsangarides on guitar and keyboards, Tony Tomkinson on vocals, plus of course the ‘metal bitch’ in the band DBasser on bass guitar. This come back album “UDUVUDU” (pronounced as ‘You Do Voodoo’) contains ten songs, worthy of approximately forty-five minutes of heavenly heavy metal, covering a lot of styles but mainly focussing on hard rock and heavy metal. Title track “UDUVUDU” opens the CD with the exorcising, repeating drums of Stickslayer (© BITCHES SIN) Turton, and the Nicky Moore (SAMSON) like vocals of Tony Tomkinson upfront in the mix. When the speed changes, Ian is adding his fabulous guitar skills to the songs and my first favourite song on this album is born. The song ends with sounds that could very well be on almost any PINK FLOYD album. “Metalize” is a song, that simply asks to sing along with, when playing live on stage. In my vision, I can see the crowd already chanting “Metalize”. It’s a very metal song indeed. Containing lyric parts like ‘Show me the horns, and stand with pride’. Both horns up for this one! “Selling Paradise” contains some Eastern melodies, which fit very well to the lyrics of the song. Lyrics that are in some cases based on war situations, that we frequently witness these days. Not only in the Middle East, but worldwide. War is also the main topic in a song, called “Red Skies”, which is another favourite of mine. The lyrics in this song tell the story so well, that it almost scares the shit out of you. And all these wise words are topped by a great rock sound. Catchy, yet not commercial, if you know what I mean. This is the sound of BITCHES SIN in 2008. It’s been twenty-five years since the release of their last album, but their music still stands with pride. It rocks and sometimes it also gets so much deeper, that it bangs your head with a big hammer, because of the in-depth messages of the lyrics. “Nobody Wants You Here” has got that typical BITCHES SIN tension, which slowly builds itself up. You know that a guitar explosion will follow at a certain point, and it is there, just wait. The title reminds me of a certain metal festival in England, where we got drifted away like sheep at the end of the evening. The security didn’t dare to speak out these words to the people who still were there, but that was the step we just missed, luckily enough. Back to the CD then. “Mr. Toomey” is definitely the highlight on the CD for me. The song title has got nothing at all to do with the family name of Ian. Or maybe just a little bit, but it’s not autobiographical or something. The song is based upon the story of a guy, who took over The Bates Motel in “Psycho II”, who is called Mr. Toomey. It can best be described as “Strangers on the Shore” part II. The guitar exorcism you hear is simply not of this world and a lot of voodoo must have been involved to let Ian play these ultra fast solos. I get Goosebumps all over my body, even at places where I just didn’t realise that I could get Goosebumps there. Old School BITCHES SIN fans will agree that this is a true masterpiece. Big is the change in music style, when “Beggars Parallel” starts off. This is an acoustic ballad and a short point of rest, before “Second Life” enters your room. I already mentioned it several times to the band. Most albums I review start off very promising and after a while, they slowly fade away into nothingness. You simply can’t keep focussed for the whole time. With “UDUVUDU”, it’s so much different. The album gets stronger as it proceeds. Especially these last three songs are very strong and they can easily be added to my (long) list of favourite songs. “Second Life” is a good up tempo song with a great guitar solo and some innovative drum parts from Steve. “White Room” (not the Eric ‘slow hand’ Clapton song) shows the tightness of DBasser very well. Stunning bass parts open this fast rocker and another big compliment goes out to the vocal parts of Tony Tomkinson, who originally wrote this song for his former band THE ALL NEW SINISTER DEXTER BAND. The song fits perfectly to the sound of BITCHES SIN nowadays. The CD closes with “The Eleventh Hour”, which can be described as the BITCHES SIN version of “Black Sabbath”. This is a shortcut to describe the immense heaviness of this song. It sounds dark, doomy and Steve really pounds the hell out of his drum kit here. He should be imprisoned for the loud bashing and torturing his skins. What a brutal drum sound! When the CD stops, and I have removed the wood splinters from my ears (stop hitting that drum kit so hard, Steve!!), I simply can’t control myself by putting this CD in the player one more time. I keep pushing the repeat button on my stereo set, which had to be replaced several times since this album has hit the streets. BITCHES SIN is back and their next step will be to invade the stages. I’m confident enough, that “UDUVUDU” is only just the beginning of a flashing comeback. These kinds of releases can only receive full score. Website: www.bitchessin.co.uk. Cheers to Ian, DBasser, Chris, Steve and Tony, you have amazed me again with this one!!
BITCHES SIN - 20 Essential Sins (Independent)
Looking for the Holy Grail? Just have a look what the cat dragged in. It's BITCHES SIN's Holy Grail, containing all their essential sins. The CD is based upon the "Your Place Or Mine" demos, which already has the length of a full-length album. And to me, those recordings belong to the most valuable material available in the NWOBHM scene ever. I am not talking about money here, but something that has a much more deeper value. A value, that money just can't buy.
BITCHES SIN - Your Place Or Mine
Why is BITCHES SIN the best NWOBHM band in the world for me? It's easy,
just listen to this CD for forty-five minutes and ask yourself the same
question again. If you don't know the answer, then you'll never get it.
This is a gift of the band to their long lasting, die hard fans out there.
A great collection of songs that are not available on CD, really hard
to find and the best, that NWOBHM has got to offer.
BITCHES SIN/FLASH POINT ‘VARIOUS ALBUMS’ (INDEPENDENT)
YOUR PLACE OR MINE (Full Version)
For many fans the story of Bitches Sin can be split into two distinct parts, separated by the release of the band’s debut album Predator. That LP is most certainly a watershed in the band’s history, both a testament to their willpower and the bitterest pill to swallow at one and the same time. It’s every young musician’s dream to record and release their debut album, but the hefty hiding it received at the hands of the most influential music magazine of the time was a crucial blow to the five band members whose sights had been set so high. That said, it inspired the band to fight back and produce much more of the influential material for which they had becoming famous.
Bitches Sin was – and always will be – the brainchild of brothers Ian and Pete Toomey. Tired of never quite hearing the material they wanted on record, no matter how much vinyl they were able to beg, steal or borrow, they decided (with a ruthless determination that would see them through even the worst of days) they’d write and play it themselves. Teaching themselves to play –and I mean play – guitar, coming up with a name inspired by a cocktail of beer and sleazy teenage hormonal turmoil, and linking up with vocalist Alan ‘Cocky’ Cockburn, bassist Perry ‘Pez’ Hodder and drummer Bill Knowles, they formed Bitches Sin in April 1980.
With a short ‘n’ furious spell of writing and rehearsing under their bullet belts, Cumbria’s finest (as they’re often dubbed) recorded their first demo four months later, on the 6th and 7th August, to be precise, at Smile Studios in Manchester. Ten hours of labour produced seven songs – Down The Road, White Lady, Bitches Sin, Two Of A Kind, Ice Angels, Tighter Than Tight and Heavy Life, collectively known as the Twelve Pounds And No Kinks demo. “This was the time of the cassette album,” recalls Ian Toomey (the music industry was predicting that pre-recorded cassettes would soon replace good old fashioned vinyl as the mainstay), “so we decided that it would be better for the fans to have a side’s worth of songs rather than just the usual three or four that you’d get on a usual demo.”
An exciting collection of material, Twelve Pounds And No Kinks not only gave the band something to sell to raise money to keep themselves going, but it also attracted the attention of David Wood, whose Neat Records label was fast establishing itself as THE place to be for up-and-coming New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands. As Ian recalls: “David Wood really liked the Twelve Pounds And No Kinks demo and invited us to do a single with Neat, but when we got there we found we’d have to re-record songs – as the quality of the demo ‘wasn’t good enough, wasn’t of sufficient quality’, we were told – at our expense in his studio. So we re-recorded Down The Road and recorded two new songs, Always Ready (For Love) and Sign Of The Times, with the intention of Down The Road being the single. We decided collectively that Always Ready was more commercial and so would be a much better single. To be fair to Neat, we were later asked if we would like to contribute Down The Road to their Lead Weight compilation cassette, and that seemed like a good idea – the exposure would be useful, and the song was recorded and doing nothing else, so we agreed…”
Pete Toomey though has a different recollection of the events of early 1981: “…I have to disagree – that’s not the way I remember it at all. I maintain that Pez pressured Neat to release Always Ready (For Love) as the single, and they complied by saying that they wanted a more commercial sound. We did originally want Down The Road but Neat wanted it for their Lead Weight cassette album. So then we wanted Sign Of The Times to be the single so we were told it would be Always Ready and Sign Of The Times as a double ‘A’-side, though if you look at the Neat catalogue it always shows the ‘A’-side being Always Ready. Needless to say, Sign Of The Times got the better reviews.”
Ian again: “On reflection, Pete could be right there because Perry later boasted that David Wood was only charging him £25 a session to record Goldsmith [the band he formed after leaving Bitches Sin] material at Neat’s Impulse Studios. So it could have been that Woodsy wanted Always Ready for the single and that he did a deal with Perry. All told though, we paid for the recording session and we paid for the pressing of the single; we did get a small payment on account, but we’ve never received a royalty statement or any royalties at all from Neat. It was a bit of a struggle at the time as I was still doing my degree, and Pete and the others were in low paid jobs, apart from Perry who wasn’t working at the time.”
Whatever the circumstances over its release, as the band’s debut vinyl outing Always Ready (For Love), with it’s eye-catching sleeve of model Sharalee, was a great step forward for the band. It sold well, and was the first real step in raising the band’s profile nationwide. The band were soon back at Impulse Studios to work on what was to become possibly their most famous song. “We went back to Neat later and recorded Strangers On The Shore there,” recalls Ian. “We had great feedback from everyone we played it to except David Wood, who said he didn’t think it fitted the Neat sound. Paul Birch was so keen to have it on Heavy Metal Records’ Heavy Metal Heroes compilation LP that he almost had our hands off! Strangers On The Shore was a one-off recording, and was the last time we ever recorded at Neat.”
“Yep, Strangers… was definitely recorded at Impulse,” adds Pete. “We also did a demo at the same time which had Don’t Push Too Hard which we re-worked and called Looking For Answers and is now finally on the new Flashpoint release Lazer Love [released independently by the band in 2005]; there was also a killer track called Evil Woman which had the feel of Death In Vegas long before that style of metal/electronica had been thought of, and which we have yet to officially release, although it surfaced on the Slaughterhouse demo as Death Of A Fatman; there was a Scorpions-type instrumental called The Land That Time Forgot and it’s here that I thought we first jammed XF2894 which we finally recorded at CCS, though I may be wrong; time does play tricks on the mind, especially when you hit 40!”
CCS studios, again in Manchester, was where the band went to record a second full-length demo entitled Your Place Or Mine, early in the summer of 1981. The full recording, the bulk of which is included here, featured eight new songs – Overnight, Livin’ On The Highway, What The Hell, Fallen Star, Over The Top, XF2894, Up For Grabs and Hold On To Love, together with re-recordings of Sign Of The Times, Down The Road and Ice Angels.
“Your Place Or Mine was recorded by the Cocky Cockburn/Pez Hodder/ Bill Knowles line-up – the last recordings with them – sometime in the summer of 1981,” recalls Ian. “I can’t remember the exact date, but we did the BBC Friday Rock Show session in August, so it was obviously before that. We were writing a lot of songs at this point. There had been good chemistry within the band, the enthusiasm had been very high and we’d reached the point when almost every rehearsal or practice would lead to a song, or at least to a part of a song. We were getting very popular, had one hell of a fan base at this point, and that pushes you along. The songs just kept coming. Our style of writing, and for what we were doing as Bitches Sin, the type of music we were playing and the style of the guitar solos, the songs tended to be short. We were a bit like the SAS – get in, hit ‘em hard and get out again! If we had the right ideas, the right riffs, we could wrap it up pretty quickly. Besides, if you can’t say it in three or four minutes, what the hell are you doing? The first ever heavy rock song was You Really Got Me, and what was that? – two-and-a-half minutes or so. What more do you need?
“So when we came to do the demo we’d gelled as a unit; when we did the first tape we’d not been together very long, but now we’d had some good reviews and it was a matter of ‘let’s go in and nail it!’ On the material, the band sounds very tight. And as with the Twelve Pounds And No Kinks demo, almost without exception the guitar solos were all first takes. We re-recorded Down The Road and Ice Angels to get them to a higher standard. We also re-recorded Sign Of The Times purely because we didn’t like the way the Neat recording sounded; I personally much prefer this version to the single. It just sounds more Bitches Sin. David Wood was very proud of the Neat Records’ sound and would always go on about it, but I didn’t see the point in getting so many bands together and making them all sound the same.
“Livin’ On The Highway was our bikers’ song. All the band members but one were bikers – around Cumbria the easiest way to get around is on a bike – and we’d often have bikers working the door at gigs so we had a really good biker following. Livin’ On The Highway would have been the follow-up single. I really like it – there’s some nice guitar work, good vocals from Cocky. We split the solos right through, I do the first half of the middle section and Pete does the second, and unusually for us, guitar harmonies at the end of the song. Despite the fact that it was lined up for a single though, it didn’t make the album because of the constant evolution of the material we were writing. By the time we recorded Predator, about a year later, we’d moved up a notch with what we were doing and what we were saying in our songs. Overnight was one of our sleazy songs, very much on the call girl side of things. Very much a Bitches Sin song; the sort of thing you’d expect from us at the time! The spoken intro was Cocky; we had a number of false starts because the engineer was struggling. You know, you’re nervous, ready to go, the light goes on and you start and then the red light comes on… So at one point Cocky came out with this ‘I mean, cor blimey mate, what’s going on…’ and we decided to leave it in as a bit of a souvenir of the session.
“What The Hell was one of Pete’s, and I think the title says it all! I don’t think as a song it’s actually saying a great deal, just something Pete wanted to do. Generally, Pete and I tended to write, 80 – 85% of the lyrics, but I don’t think I had any creative input to the song at all. Fallen Star is the only song from Your Place Or Mine that made the album, it’s the story of, or at least inspired by, a local band I played with for a while. The guitarist went on holiday and I helped them rehearse and play a few gigs. They got a temporary guitarist out of the deal, and I got some experience, although they didn’t like my style because I was too fast a player for them. But they were arrogant and they dissolved not long after and were never heard of again. Fallen stars, indeed.”
Check out the groove that runs through Over The Top. “Ah yes, Ian continues, “ and it’s the groove in a woman’s chest! It’s a song about big tits, that’s about all you can say, really! One of my favourites on the demo, and a good guitar solo too. Pete takes the first part, I do the second. XF2894 came about as a jam that began when we were setting up and which evolved over the three or four days of the session in the studio until we just thought, ‘let’s go for it!’ We knew each other well enough to jam something like this up from scratch. We all took it in turns, hence that nice bass run at the end. We did it in one live take, which you can tell by the end as it does get a bit raggy as we race towards the fader! The title by the way appeared on the cover of the demo tape and is in fact a call girl contact ad.
“Up For Grabs…I remember when Pete wrote this one I asked him what it was about and it was just about a girl who was stringing him along. Well, we were young guys in a Heavy Metal band, and we were sleazy –that’s the way it was back then! And Hold On To Love: well, if you listen to all our songs, the singers are virtually always working at the top of their ranges – so they really have to go for it, have to make the effort. So Cocky’s voice was pushed to the limit. The song Invader is very much the same, if you listen to Frank he really is being pushed to the upper limits. On Hold On To Love, the guitar work is screaming too…”
Pete remembers the recording of the demo as a less then pleasant experience. “Your Place Or Mine… yep, this marked the beginnings of unrest. Pez (as far as I am concerned) had pissed us off by pressuring Neat to use Always Ready as the single. We recorded the tape at CCS studios and stopped three nights, four days at a hotel in Manchester where we would come back to Billy and Janet having domestics, Pez staying out of the way (come to think of it, I don’t think Pez actually stayed in the same hotel), girls – hotel staff – lying on their beds in bras and knickers with the door open saying ‘come and get it’ and Cocky stumbling around singing the praises of Bon Scott and Stones Ginger wine. I remember that much!
“But on to the tape. I wrote the intro basically for the BBC Session and we included it on the tape. Next was Sign Of The Times and you now know why. We used CCS Studios because of the Manchester links (we had distributed our tapes through a Manchester label – Terminal Music – who at the time were big mates with the Buzzcocks ....not that that got us anywhere!). But as I said, there was the beginning of some major angst. Billy was having woman problems, Pez also contributed by being distant. So it wasn't hard to write rock music, especially as we were all in the same hotel. We re-recorded Down The Road and Ice Angels (which was really a chance for us to put right some of the musical errors that happened on Twelve Pounds And No Kinks. Although the tape had a lot of atmosphere there were areas which were lacking in technique, although it has to be said that they never really detracted from the final product).
“Songs like Over The Top and Up For Grabs kind of followed the harder rock sound I was into at the time (things like ZZ Top and AC/DC), though I still wanted a punky element to the sound which I guess is why we always had a speed element to our music. And again, it’s hard to hold back if there is a lot of anger about. The lyrics for Up For Grabs I think came from Cocky, but by now I think Cocky had lost heart and was spending a lot of his time with bottles of Stones Ginger wine which, like with Bon Scott, he claimed aided his vocal performances.
“Carrying on with the punk theme, Hold On To Love I thought summed up the bands women problems admirably. It’s sometimes easier to write from the outside looking in, you know. It’s probably my favourite on the tape alongside XF2894. I can remember XF2894 vividly. This came from a jam at Impulse. I had always had a leaning to funk (my fave guitarists at the time were Tommy Bolin and Pat Travers). So it was really easy and was a fun thing to do. The funny thing was that after that, I wrote Out Of My Mind [later to appear on the Invaders album] and then my solo tape where I had sequencers running Frankie Goes to Hollywood type loops. But I digress. XF2894 was the other high spot on the tape for me. That and the chips and curry sauce from the corner chippy. Overnight was one of those tracks that was brilliant live but maybe we didn’t have the staff in the studio control room to bring out the drive the band had at the time…
“All in all I think Your Place Or Mine marked a period of transition. A new spark would be needed and came with Tony. You can tell this by the number of personnel changes that happened following these recordings – that and the quality of the material that emerged with the new blood. The next thing to be recorded was the classic BBC Session. The anger carried over but in this case it was constructive, not destructive.”
Ian continues: “After Your Place Or Mine there was a lot of internal friction between certain band members. In particular one guy brought material to rehearsals that sounded too much like other bands – in fact bordered on plagiarism. He didn’t like the fact that his stuff kept getting rejected, but probably didn’t know how much Pete and I rejected of our own material. Pete and I would have almighty rows about the choice of material, but we were also adamant that we didn’t want to sound like anyone else. If an idea had a majority opinion in the band we’d keep working it up and see how it sounded, and as the song progressed usually those who didn’t like it at first were won over. And I think it’s a testament to this approach that 25 years later people are still talking about our music.”
So in July 1981, out went Cockburn, Hodder and Knowles and in came Tony Tomkinson behind the mikestand, Dave Newsham on bass, and Tony Leece on drums. The newbies didn’t have much time to acclimatise as there was already a date in the diary with producer Tony Wilson at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, and on 26th August 1981 the new-look Bitches Sin headed south to London. “We got the BBC Session on the back of the Neat single and Twelve Pounds...,” says Pete. “Tracks off that tape were continually in the playlists and metal charts in Sounds and Melody Maker, largely thanx to our supporter Wookie in Torquay.” [Dave ‘Wookie’ Cogan was – still is in fact – a larger than life character who submitted Heavy Metal charts to Melody Maker via the record shop he worked in, and who took a great shine to Bitches Sin in particular. Both Strangers On The Shore and later song Aardschock – or Aardscock as it was printed – sat at the top of the Melody Maker Heavy Metal charts thanks to Wookie.] Given the usual format of recording four songs, the band chose to showcase Down The Road, Fallen Star, Hold On To Love and Strangers On The Shore and the BBC session was a great success.
By now, things were really cooking in the Bitches Sin kitchen. Further enthused by the BBC session which was aired in October, Paul Birch at Heavy Metal Records was keen to record an album with them, the upshot being a trip to Birmingham to try out a couple of numbers. Although the exact date is now lost to memory, Ian recalls that “early in 1982 we did a one-day session at Moor Green in Birmingham to demo a couple of songs for Paul Birch with a view to a deal, which led to the Predator album. We did Runaway and Riding’ High, and then, as we had some time to spare, we ran through six or seven other songs live in the studio so that Paul Birch could hear the band both in the studio and live. It also gave us an opportunity to really listen to the songs and see what we thought of them and see if they needed any more work.” Runaway, he notes, was, “one of Pete’s – a typical Bitches Sin song and the type of material you’d expect from us at that time. Nice guitar work too,” whereas Ridin’ High was one of his own compositions, and is possibly the only Bitches Sin song to wear its influences so prominently on its sleeve. “I wrote Ridin’ High very much with Lynyrd Skynyrd in mind, or the tragic plane crash that happened to them; it was definitely a tribute to Skynyrd. The thing about them is that… well, both Pete and I worked hard at learning the guitar and at playing the instrument to the best of our abilities so we knew all the tools and the tricks of the trade, but if you try and play one of their solos you’ll find they are very difficult to copy. They certainly knew how to play. It’s the same with Ritchie Blackmore’s solos, they are very difficult to play note-for-note.”
The contract with Heavy Metal Records was duly signed and sealed, but not before the band’s rhythm section had been asked to shut the door on the way out, to be replaced in March 1982 by bassist Martin Orum and drummer Mark Biddiscombe. The sessions for the album took place at Smile Studios in Manchester, sometime in April/May 1982, and Predator duly appeared in June.
The uncalled-for critical mauling handed down to Predator by Kerrang! has been documented over and over. Looking back now, Ian sees it as a something of a triumph of will over adversity. “I think we had about four days to record it, which wasn’t enough time. It also didn’t help that Pete and Tony had an almighty row about halfway through the sessions, and that made the second half of the session very difficult. I would say that the album was more engineered than produced. By the time we came to record it we’d been in studios enough to know what we wanted, but somehow that never seemed to get communicated properly. After Predator came out a lot of people asked us, ‘how did this happen? With all you’ve written and recorded, with your band, how did this happen?’ But we weren’t there at the final mix, and when I heard it I was very upset. What should have happened is that we should have gone back about a week later and spent a couple of days remixing it, but there were deadlines to meet and of course it would have cost extra money as well. It’s all there in the grooves, you know; I’ve heard it. That’s the sad thing about it: it just needs to be mixed properly to bring it all out.
“You know, when you think about it, all the recordings that the band have self-financed we’ve been very pleased with. But when a record company has been involved, the results have been less than satisfactory. The Neat single, Predator… compare them to our demos and the demos sound much better, really. We’ve always known what we’ve wanted, but when a record company has intervened, the sound has never been as good.”
What many people have forgotten is that Sounds – the weekly music paper that had spawned Kerrang! – gave Predator a hefty four star (out of five) review, calling it “a worthy piece of plastic destined to stand them in good stead amongst their fellow practitioners…” and highlighted in particular Loser, Riding High and Aardschock. But the damage was done. Hitting back after the smack in the face that was the Kerrang! review (and, don’t forget, Kerrang! was the only Heavy Metal magazine in the UK at this time) might have been almost an insurmountable task for some people, but a week after the review came out Ian seized on the final line of the review and came up with the storming Ain’t Life A Bitch – well, they do say that wounded animals are the most dangerous! Ain’t Life A Bitch featured on the band’s 1983 Out Of My Mind demo, alongside Day In, Day Out, No More Chances, Overnight, Out Of My Mind itself and Watch Out, and the same version of the song appeared as the kick-ass opening track on Roadrunner Records’ 12 Commandments In Metal compilation album in 1985. Meantime, the whole demo was released on Terminal Music as the Out Of My Mind cassette EP in August 1983.
By the time they’d come to record the Out Of Your Mind demo, Bitches Sin now featured vocalist Frank Queegan and bassist Mike Frazer with drummer Bill Knowles back behind the kit once more. Returning to the studio once more, they recorded three songs for the No More Chances single released in December 1983, the 7” version backed by Overnight and the 12” adding Ice Angels. This is the version of Overnight featured on this CD, and is, according to Ian, “the definitive version of the song”. The other two tracks went on to be re-recorded once more for the band’s second LP Invaders.
As 1984 rolled around it was becoming increasing difficult for the more traditional UK bands to operate. Gigs dried up and record sales dwindled as UK fans began to welcome either the heavier American NWOBHM successors or their poodle-permed lighter-weight counterparts. Either way, the writing was on the wall and the Americans held the paintbrush, and if making a living had been an effort before, it was now a struggle of epic proportions. The band recorded yet another demo, this one featuring Dawn Of Destruction and Round-A-Bout amongst others. “There must have been more,” confirms Pete; “I think we included Invader on it as well – hence it became the title for the album.” Ian is more – or less – forthcoming: “Good one! Can’t help you with this one at all! I think Abduhl’s Boogie came at this time, but you’d better check with Pete!”
Actually, a bit of digging reveals that the five-song demo featured Out Of My Mind, Heavy Life, and Bitches Sin alongside Dawn Of Destruction and Round-A-Bout, all of which went on to make the band’s second album. “Abduhl’s Boogie,” notes Pete, “first appeared on the State Of The Art demo [subtitled on the cassette here Pete And Frank’s Pop Songs] which was a group of songs I’d written on my own or with Frank that we liked but that weren’t really Sin material. It was recorded at Linden Studios in 1983 and featured Nightlife, Fly, Roundabout – a short acoustic ballad, not the Invaders song – Lawman and Abduhl’s Boogie.”
This latest Bitches Sin demo led to a deal for the second album, Invaders, although the irony is that with so much UK interest in American metal by this time it took a US label to sign the band. What’s worse, the album, recorded and released by King Klassic in 1986, didn’t even get a UK release at the time, and is only now available on CD via the band’s website. Recorded at Linden Studios with producer and arch collaborator Guy Forrester, the album collected together the best of the band’s more recent material, coupling the five songs from the most recent demo with Ain’t Life A Bitch, Invader, No More Chances, Day In Day Out and Ice Angels.
Invaders is a fine album, and the songs have truly passed the test of time. But this was 1986, and UK fans wanted to hear the likes of Metallica and Motley Crue (and if they were very desperate, Ratt); NWOBHM bands were as popular as Animal Rights Activists at Burger Bars, and besides, no-one writes the same song time and time again and Ian found his songwriting was moving further and further from its roots to a more melodic hard rock sound. As a result he decided to form a new band, Flashpoint, where he was joined by Kev Graham, Steve Turton and, a little later, Pete, and who went on to record in their own right.
That should have been the end of the story, but in 1988 a UK label G.I. Records expressed an interest in Invaders and the whole album was re-recorded and re-packaged for a UK release in May 1989. Because of time constraints a session drummer, Paul Smith, was brought in and a keyboard player Dave Osbeldiston added a new dimension to some of the material. Three new songs – The Cry, Destroyer, and Alligator were added to the set and to make way for them Invaders, Bitches Sin and Heavy Life did not feature in the sessions. Flashpoint had recorded and released one album (No Point Of Reference) in 1987, but neither that nor the posthumous UK release of Invaders was enough to keep the wolves from the door; disillusioned and pressurised beyond belief, Ian and Pete wound up both bands, and that was that.
Until a couple of years ago, that is, when the Toomey brothers finally realised how influential and how popular Bitches Sin had been and decided to reform the band, taking more control themselves and learning from the mistakes of the past. So far, the band have released The First Temptation on Majestic Rock Records (a coupling of the entire Twelve Pounds And No Kinks demo and the BBC Friday Rock Show Session) and a second Flashpoint album Lazer Love while working on new material. In the meantime, this compilation clears out the cupboard, and, together with The First Temptation, aims to document the early recordings of Bitches Sin and to close the door on the band’s history. This isn’t a collection of every song ever recorded; that would be almost impossible, and besides, there were inevitably some duplications of recorded material, and some of the original tapes unfortunately now show distinct signs of wear and tear. But this collection in music and words wraps up the story of Bitches Sin, one of the most innovative bands of the NWOBHM.
The last word goes to the last track: Slaughterhouse as Ian recalls, “… was to have been the third album. Various ideas were tested but there was only the one song Slaughterhouse that was original enough in our opinion to move forward with. And there was so much going on regarding the band by this time that it was the only song that we recorded to decent quality. A great shame really; it would have been interesting to see how the third album would have developed from there...”
Bitches Sin – enjoy the past, and celebrate the future.
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FLASHPOINT – “Lazer Love” (Independent)
Flashpoint is the brainchild of Bitches Sin guitarist Ian Toomey, who originally formed the band in 1987 when Bitches Sin finally found that the good thing about hitting your head against the record business’ brick wall is that it’s nice when you stop. Although Pete Toomey, the other half of the Bitches Sin guitar axis, joined up just as the band was about to start recording their debut album ‘No Point Of Reference’, the more melodic Flashpoint was far removed from its Bitches Sin NWOBHM roots. “I just wanted to write a straight rock record,” is how Ian Toomey once described ‘No Point Of Reference’.
The debut album was supposed to be (a) a solo project and (b) a one-off, something Ian wanted to get out of his system before settling down with pipe and slippers. But every so often the band – the brothers Toomey together with Kev Graham (vocals and bass) and Steve Turton (drums) and aided and abetted by Bitches Sin vocalist Frank Quegan – would meet up and record something here and there, which brings us to ‘Lazer Love’. “An itch that had to be scratched,” says Ian of this latest album, an anthology of material dating from 1987 to more recent times, the newest of the cuts being opener ‘All My Love’ and ‘Tsukiatari’, one of the CD’s two instrumental numbers.
‘All My Love’ in all fairness is probably the album’s odd man out, coming on strong like a Bitches Sin stormer with a rather unexpected left-turn half-way though. As is to be expected, the rest of the material tends to be more hard rock than heavy metal, with my personal picks being the album’s middle order. ‘She’s All Gone’ shimmies and strolls like one of Zeppelin’s ‘Houses Of The Holy’-era young pups and the funk-tastic ‘The Web’ grooves along with the sassiness of a hooker in high heels. The package is completed by the addition of a couple of live tracks (the squealing guitar workout ‘Grand Prix’ from their first album, and ‘Lookin’ For Answers’) from 1988, and an informative interview by longtime Bitches Sin fan Toine van Poorten of Headache Magazine.
In theory, this is the end of the road for Flashpoint (‘Tsukiatari’ even means “at the end”) as Bitches Sin are now back in business, giving Ian Toomey less time to indulge his more melodic side-project. Ian, Pete Toomey and Frank Quegan have been writing and rehearsing material for some time now and, whereas Bitches Sin and Flashpoint had been kept entirely separate entities up to now, Kev Graham and Steve Turton have recently joined the ranks of Bitches Sin and the band hope to have their new album completed later this year.
Once again, this isn’t an album you’ll find in WH Smith,
so to get a copy and find out more about the happenings of Cumbria’s
finest (which will hopefully include a follow-up to last year’s
demos and BBC session CD ‘The First Temptation’) visit the
band’s official website at www.bitchessin.co.uk.
FLASHPOINT-LAZER LOVE for Headache magazine, The Netherlands.
Bitches Sin - The First Temptation - Rock
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