Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grand Prix - Samurai

Rising out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene in the late '70s, Grand Prix featured a more melodic approach to heavy metal than most of the bands on the British scene, generating an AOR sound closer in feel to American rock groups like Journey. Original members of Grand Prix included ex-Dirty Tricks drummer Andy Beirne, bassist Ralph Hood, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, guitarist Michael O'Donoghue, and ex-Legend singer Bernie Shaw, who was eventually replaced by singer Robin McAuley. The group signed to RCA and released a debut album, simply called Grand Prix, in 1980, followed by the more focused There for None to See in 1982, after which the group jumped to Chrysalis Records for the polished Samurai in 1983. Beirne left Grand Prix later that same year, reportedly because he felt the group's studio output wasn't hard-enough sounding. His drum chair was filled by Clive Edwards, but by early 1984 the group was out of gas and closed the door on a roughly three-year run as a band, leaving behind a small but solid discography. ~
Steve Leggett, All Music Guide

Grand Prix seem to be one of those bands one hears of solely in the context of 'contractual hassles etc', but their Reading appearance last year led me to believe that they're not the types to get morose about it, split up and become record company executives.
'Samurai' is a solid, professional sounding album. For those of you who have been waiting for it, the anticipation is rewarded: Although, occasionally, various influences become a mite too prominent, the overall impact is fresh and direct.
They have drawn energy from music on both sides of the Atlantic; the pinpoint drumming and the not-too-excessive fingerboard work highlighting the American feel, while the straight-ahead nature of the majority of the tracks leads to a sound that is distinctly British.
Vocalist Rob McCauley sounds unnervingly like Jon Anderson at times and there are moments when the high descants come over as too pretentious and would-be anthemic but, by and large, their not inconsiderable talents and efforts have paid off. I was pleasantly surprised to find that 'Samurai' is a good, consistent record — my only real grouch is that the title track takes on too much and the jerky rhythm changes spoil the flow of the song.
A welcome return from a band who show much promise. The material here will reproduce superbly on stage and I look forward to hearing more.
(Jay Williams, Sounds, 18/06/83)

The Band

Phil Lanzon (Keyboards,Vocals)
Michael O'Donoghue (Guitar,Vocals)
Ralph Hood (Bass,Vocals)
Andy Beirne (Drums)
Robin McAuley (Vocals)

The Tracks

01. Give Me What's Mine (2:58)
02. Shout (3:07)
03. 50-50 (4:15)
04. Here We Go Again (4:17)
05. Countdown To Zero (4:41)
06. Somewhere Tonight (3:41)
07. High Time (3:39)
08. Never Before (4:05)
09. Freedom (3:13)
10. Samurai (7:20)

1 comment:

  1. Hi......listened to this album again recently at a friend's house and it brought back memories. We all went to see them supporitng Iron Maiden at Hammersmith Odeon in 1983 or 1984 I think. They blew Maiden away, we all went out and bought Samurai the next day.

    Happy days


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