BITCHES SIN – Your Place Or Mine (Internet download)
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.
Just listen to the flashing solos of guitar players Ian and Pete Toomey in these songs. It’s like a speed contest without a real winner. Because every time you think you have a winner, the other one goes over it with another solo, which is even faster! It’s a real treat to my ears. The structure of the songs are very recognisable. Sometimes they are ‘simple’ (sorry for the expression!) and catchy, and all you have to do is to wait until the guitars start doing their thing. Then you’re in heavy metal heaven.
A nice example is “Fallen Star”. Maybe it’s not the most epical metal anthem, you’ve ever heard. Especially if you would compare it to “Child In Time”, Stairway To Heaven” or “2112”. But when I hear the guitar work on this song, I get the shivers running down my spine. This is perfect, this is just the way I want it to sound. The guitar solo in “What The Hell” breaks every speed record imaginable, and “Over The Top” is simply going ‘over the top’, like the song title indicates. “XF2894” ( from the “Your Place Or Mine demo”) is an instrumental track, while “Up For Grabs” is another speed monster. “Runaway” is from the well-known “Predator” album. “Riding High” is from the same sessions, too. “Overnight” is from the “For Adults Only” demo and also from the “No More Chances” 12 incher. “Abduhls Boogie” is from Pete’s demo (How can I find a copy of it? It’s still one of the missing links in my collection!), “Destroyer” (Why did this song never get the success, that it earned so well? It’s a real BITCHES SIN classic to me!) and “The Cry’ are from the album “Invaders”. And every song has got these magic ingredients. The great vocals, the flashing speed record breaking axework and stable rhythm section, that keeps their sound as tight as possible. Which isn’t easy with two guitarplayers, who constantly want to go on at breakneck speed. What a great gift for the fans of this band, which captures the best moments of NWOBHM history on a silver disc for me.
(Points: 10 out of 10)
Toine van Poorten
BITCHES SIN/FLASH POINT ‘VARIOUS ALBUMS’ (INDEPENDENT)
The legendary NWOBHM band BITCHES SIN has actually never really split up, but due to the death of the whole scene the band struggled for many years, continued under a different name FLASH POINT, but kept on performing and recording. Now 4 CDs are available from their website, which are 2 BITCHES SIN and 2 FLASH POINT releases. The BITCHES SIN releases (‘The first temptation’ and ‘Invaders’) are featuring pure NWOBHM type of material, not as good as their early 80s material, but nevertheless interesting for die-hard NWOBHM freak. Strangely enough I am much more impressed with the FLASHPOINT CDs. These are both very strong 80s type of AOR/Melodic Rock orientated releases, of which especially ‘No point of reference’ is a very impressive 80s American Melodic Rock release recorded in 1988, but now available on CD. Songs like “Blackjack” (strong faster uptempo 80s Euro Melodic Metal a la MAD MAX, PRETTY MAIDS…), “Modern lover” (classic 80s Canadian melodic rocker a la CHAMPION, VANCOUVER, URGENT, APRIL WINE, TRIUMPH with blastering guitar solo) and especially “Is it true” and “No more love, no more lies” (heavy keys, pure 80s AOR at start, both songs high class sensational very polished uptempo mid 80s AOR a la AGENT, AVIATOR). In between these songs you can also hear some RATT/DOKKEN/AUTOGRAPHish US Melodic Hardrock such as on opener “Hot tonight”. Out of the 4 CDs sent to me, the FLASHPOINT CD ´No point of reference´ is the strongest release, deserving a 8,5 points rating. The other FLASH POINT CD is slightly weaker, although it features the sensational AOR song “Lazer love”. All CDs are available through: http://www.bitchessin.co.uk or http://www.a1cds.co.uk and e-mail at: [email protected]
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
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.
John Tucker (www.suziesmiled.co.uk)
LINER NOTES FLASHPOINT ALBUM ‘LAZER LOVE’:
FLASHPOINT, formed in 1987 and is the solo outfit of former BITCHES SIN guitar player Ian Toomey, which is more than just a continuation of this legendary NWOBHM outfit. Although there are some ex members in the line up of this band, the music of FLASHPOINT definitely has a more melodic approach than the bone hard, heavy metal of BITCHES SIN. Ian and his brother Pete teamed up with Steve Turton on drums and Kev Graham on vocals and bass. Frank Quegan and Dave Rosingana joined the ranks for the recordings adding some backing vocals and keyboards to some of the songs of their debut album ‘No Point Of Reference’. Thus, a new post NWOBHM band was born, who presented themselves to the world by means of this wonderful debut album. An album that didn’t only show us the more melodic approach of the Toomey brothers, but it also proved that these guys still know how to play some mean guitar riffs and solos. The flame is still burning, so to speak.
What we have here, may be a big surprise to all the FLASHPOINT fans out there. ‘Lazer Love’ is the second album of this remarkable outfit. It contains 10 diamonds that were never released before. The album shows us the strength and the power of a band, that stopped their career much too early. Listen to the great compositions, and you’ll be convinced pretty easily. Ian Toomey, founder member of FLASHPOINT, explains all about this new release that you hold in your hands right now.
- Ian, I introduced FLASHPOINT as your solo project, and not as a continuation of BITCHES SIN. Can you agree with that?
Yeah, it is correct to say that Toine. The title of our first album is ‘No Point Of Reference’ for that very reason. I wanted to be judged on this new music in isolation from BITCHES SIN and not as a continuation.
- Why did you decide to set out a more melodic direction for this band?
I loved BITCHES SIN and their unique brand of Heavy Metal but there is much more I wanted to say musically and especially with my lead guitar work so after the classic ‘INVADERS’ album I thought it was time to move on after achieving such a high acclaim with that album. I have always been a fan of guitarists like Michael Schenker and FLASHPOINT would allow me to explore that more melodic aspect of my playing.
- You already released ‘No Point Of Reference’ on CD. Did you sell many copies of this album, and how are the reactions of the fans on this release so far?
We have been selling quite well with the ‘No Point Of Reference ‘CD and have had some very good reviews and feedback from fans. This has encouraged us to release the new FLASHPOINT CD ‘Lazer Love’.
- Must we see ‘Lazer Love’ as a new album, or were these songs written some while ago already and were they originally meant to be released as a second FLASHPOINT album in the late eighties?
Lazer Love is an anthology of FLASHPOINT material up to recent times with ‘All My Love’ being the latest recording. Some songs are from what was to be the second album such as ‘Cruisin’ but most chart our occasional visits to the recording studios over the intervening years.
- Any reason why the album was called ‘Lazer Love’?
Yes. I wrote Lazer Love with Frank and an image of the song has always been very clear in my mind featuring Knights Templar, Jacques De Molay with piercing Lazer blue eyes. We recorded and mixed the track in a day with the guitar solo being performed first take on a Fender Stratocaster that I had never played before. The whole session was very special and so it is fitting that the album carries this title ‘Lazer Love’.
- What’s the status of FLASHPOINT right now? Are you back together again as
a band, and if yes who is in the line up of the reformed FLASHPOINT?
FLASHPOINT has not reformed. We are releasing the CD purely to ensure that the fans have a complete collection of our recordings and to show the strength of our playing. We are very proud of ‘No Point Of Reference’ and are equally proud of “Lazer Love’.
- What’s the line up of the band that we hear on this new album?
Same line-up as ‘No Point Of Reference’ except with ‘Lazer Love’ Frank sang lead vocals on a couple of tracks. So on bass guitar and lead vocals we have Kev, ‘Speedy’ Steve on drums, Ian and Pete on guitars.
- What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Tough call Toine but it would be ‘All My Love’.
- Will you also be touring with FLASHPOINT in the future?
No. This is due to commitments with BITCHES SIN.
- Can we also be expecting any new material of FLASHPOINT in the (near) future, and what can people expect from this new material?
The concept of FLASHPOINT was to be my solo project. In some regards FLASHPOINT became very successful very quickly. For me this needs to remain a ‘moment in time’ and so it might be that there are no further FLASHPOINT recordings we will have to wait and see.
- Where can people get more information about FLASHPOINT?
Any queries for FLASHPOINT can be sent to [email protected]
- Is there anything you want to say to the buyer of this new release?
The CD you have in your hands contains music written and played by some of the best rock musicians and songwriters around. We in FLASHPOINT are very proud of ‘Lazer Love’ and I am sure you will enjoy listening to ‘Lazer Love’ as much as we do.
As you can see, this is the swansong in the career of FLASHPOINT. People that will not be surprised by this new release, will definitely be blown away by the great new material. The high skilled musicianship of these British rockers comes back to life again. And if you still need to be convinced that British metal is still alive, then I’d suggest to have a good listen to the 10 songs on this new album ‘Lazer Love’. What more proof can you possibly need?? Enjoy this once hidden treasure, which is now finally presented to you by the people who also brought you the ‘No Point Of Reference’ album. FLASHPOINT is alive, long live FLASHPOINT, and
welcome back to the land of the living!
Toine van Poorten
Headache magazine/January 2005
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.
John Tucker – March 2005
FLASHPOINT-LAZER LOVE for Headache magazine, The Netherlands.
I’ve waited a long time for this release. The second cd of Flashpoint is a fact now, and I settled myself comfortably to have a good listen to it and enjoy. Ten songs of the best melodic NWOBHM sound imaginable and a total length of about forty minutes. Ian and Pete racing along on their guitars, while singer Frank Quegan regularly reminds me of Ian Astbury (The Cult). The keyboard sound in ‘I Can’t Take It No More’ gives the song a certain seventies touch. While ‘Cruisin’ sounds very relaxed, with a nice modest guitar solo. Highlight of the cd is the title track, where Ian shows his skills in a great guitar solo. In ‘The Web’, we hear some heavy Led Zeppelin like drum sound, that removed the chalk from my bedroom walls. The last two songs were recorded live during the Scorpio tour in 1988. And especially the song ‘Grand Prix’ will be hated forever by my neighbours, ’cause I am afraid that they will hear it time after time. The band is breaking some speed records here. ‘Lazer Love’ is definitely as good as ‘No Point Of Reference’, so it receives the same score impressive score of nine out of ten.
(Points: 9 out of 10)
Toine van Poorten,
Reviewed for Headache Metal Magazine 2005
Bitches Sin – The First Temptation – Rock Report
click here to read the review
Bitches Sin – The First Temptation – Angelfire
BITCHES SIN ‘THE FIRST TEMPTATION’
(MAJESTIC ROCK RECORDS/BERTUS)
BITCHES SIN was one of many typical early 80s NWOBHM acts in the UK that didn’t become as huge as MAIDEN or LEPPARD, but on the other hand had a huge following in the underground scene. They recorded quite a lot material, of which this CD is featuring material dating back to 1980 and 1981. The CD contains the demo ‘Twelve pounds and no kinks’ and the 1981 BBC session, both previously unavailable on CD. Fans of classic NWOBHM will love this CD, becauseit truly captures that early 80s sound so many UK bands had back then. Highlights are songs like “Fallen star”, “Hold on to love”, “White lady” and “Two of a kind”. Check it out if you’re a fan of early 80s NWOBHM!
(Points: 7.8 out of 10)
Bitches Sin – The First Temptation – Sleaze-Metal
click here to read the review
Bitches Sin – The First Temptation – Majestic Records
‘The First Temptation’ is a compilation of the ‘£12 And No Kinks’ demo and the four songs, the band played during the BBC sessions in 1981, for the Friday Rock Show. Bitches Sin sound at their very best here, and the production really explodes out of your speakers. The seven songs of the demo show you the trademark of this wonderful band. A vocalist with a very recognisable sound, a very tight rhythm section and two guitar players that are not only ultrafast, but also very innovative and at times even sound very heavy. When you listen to the BBC sessions, you’ll hear the two guitar players going out of their minds.Those guitar solos simply can’t be done by any normal human being, to my believes. Sometimes, it shows some resemblance to the better and faster songs of a band like Jaguar. And whoever thinks, that Jaguar was fast, should definitely check out the live versions of ‘Down The Road’ and ‘Strangers On the Shore’. If something deserves the predicate of being a ‘cult classic’, then it must be this CD. The front cover alone is worth every penny. And if I may believe the stories of the band, this great CD is only just the beginning. ‘Ain’t Life A Bitch’? Not after you’ve heard this great CD. www.bitchessin.co.uk.
(Points: 9,5 out of 10)
Toine van Poorten
Reviewed for Headache Metal Magazine 2004
Bitches Sin – The First Temptation – Rock United
BITCHES SIN: “The First Temptation” 7 (re-issue)
Majestic Rock 2004
Review by Urban “Wally” Wallstrom,
3 October 2004
NWOBHM at its core and more common than fish and chips during the early 80ies. Indeed, if you’d look up the word NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) in the metal encyclopedia, you’d probably find a picture of Bitches Sin. They were hardly the best or most recognizable act of its era (far from it), but they captured the sound and genre right down to their shoelaces.
The Toomey brothers (Ian & Pete) formed the band in Ulverston, England, in April 1980. In August that very year they recorded the seven track demo “£12 And No Kinks” and later on a 4 song session for BBC Friday Rock Show. Something which are now finally documented on the compilation “The First Temptation” at Majestic Rock Records.
The twin guitar work is the main attraction and force behind the music of Bitches Sin. “Down The Road” opens up with some excellent guitar duels by the Toomey’s and the attitude is similar to early Maiden and Saxon. This song alone is worthy of your attention if you happen to be a NWOBHM fanatic. “White Lady” could almost have been a Def Leppard tune from “On Through The Night”, while “Bitches Sin” is more direct and back to basic metal. The semi ballad “Ice Angels” is another favorite and you’ll notice both Jaguar(s) and Tygers similarities. “Tighter Than Tight” is however duller than dull with its blunt approach and darn right lousy refrain. The live versions of “Down The Road”, “Fallen Star”, and “Strangers On The Shore” all are winners though. They were probably more popular in Holland than at home as they recorded tribute songs to “Aardschok” and Dutch Radio DJ Hanneke Kappen (Haneka). A nice surprise for the average hardrock fan and probably a must have for any NWOBHM nut.
Bitches Sin – The First Temptation – Metal-Invader
click here to read the review