Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Female-fronted Diamond Lil, who should not be confused with the UK hard rock group of the same name, was formed back in 1975 (when I was still but a toddler). Whether or not their heavy rock sound made them forerunners to the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement remains a topic of debate for some. For me the answer is a simple yes as the band's heavy rock rumblings, though in no way "British Heavy Metal", is simply a stones throw away from the likes Satanic Rites, Rock Goddess, She or Girlschool. OK, maybe it wasn't exactly a stones throw away (as those bands above are decidedly more metal then Diamond Lil), but the music they put out then pointed towards bigger and better things to come. Based in Braintree, Essex, and originally a cover's band (Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy were just two of their cover choices when they were just beginning and it's more in the vein as to what Diamond Lil was potentially aiming for with their original compositions) the group was made up of Lorna Oakley (vocals), Harry Spooner (lead guitar), Alan Letch (bass guitar) and Marcus Foakes (drums). The band soon made the switch over to original material and ended up being quite the draw in the various pubs and clubs they frequently played at. Live gigs saw them playing with all sorts of bands from the punk rock and new wave scene and they managed countless shows in places like Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, East and Central London. While the group did lay down a total of 11 tracks (between the years 1976-1978) the compilation album at hand was never released "officially". That said, a limited number of copies did turn up as a promotional tool along the way and it is known that there was an original pressings of the 7" single "Patron Of Hell". Released in a simple format/simple package (with only a plain sleeve), "Patron Of Hell" is arguably the group's best cut. It would be put back in rotation (aka re-released) thanks to Malc Macmillan (writer of the excellent reference guide "NWOBHM Encyclopedia") but again it was/is a limited run. Oh, it should also be noted that the "Patron Of Hell" single features (the re-release at least) a somewhat blonde woman that is staring into the mirror without a care in the world. OK, actually this limited-edition re-release features a rather topless woman on the front so it's not for the kiddies I'd argue. Regardless that single and much more is packed into the 2013 self-titled CD that was just released by High Roller Records. What's nice about the CD is that it comes packed with a short bio of the band, lyrics, old pictures of the band, pictures of old fliers, etc. It also features a killer re-master job by Patrick W. Engel. Now fans can hear the whole package worth of material that this guitar-driven rock band put out in a way in which everything sounds remarkably fresh. The 11 tracks on the compilation are all solid heavy rock straight down the line. One of the cool things about this band/CD is that the material we're talking about is so well-written and executed as to appeal to a wide-range of listeners. As I slid this album into my car stereo one day, with knowing first hand that this band had such a heavy lot of talent, I found myself with two teenagers (my kids naturally) that were digging what Diamond Lil was laying down. Diamond Lil's sound is rather multi-generational given that it's got a nice homegrown rock and roll vibe about it. The guitar playing of Harry Spooner is  very distinctive and Lorna Oakley's vocals come off as real and honest. The band had been playing these songs night after night all along so when they hit the studio it was all good. It all ends up meaning that you get quality rock that is completely original. If I had to make a judgement on thier set-list I'd probably have ended up calling this band a more forward thinking "Blonde meets AC/DC" only this act comes with a near perfect garage rock attitude! It's simply a collection piece by a 4-piece band that, once upon a time, believed that instead of love, or maybe in spite off, "rock is all you need".

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