In the swelling ocean of digital media that sweeps through my email inbox in colassal tidal waves stirred up by promotion companies, bands themselves and friends it is not uncommon for items to be overlooked, missed completely or quickly dismissed. But sometimes a slice of shining glory rises to the top and so we have a late entry into the musical battleground for my best albums of 2015. I’m actually not sure exactly when this gem was released or when I received it, but on a whim it got clicked while surfing through the sea of my musical library, not knowing anything about them. I’m talking about Jameson Raid and their album, Uninvited Guests.
Clicking on the file led into a tranquil, melodic keyboard/synthesiser intro that quickly erupted into a charging riff that made me sit up and take notice. Thus began “Mr. Sunset”, Uninvited Guests‘ first serving. When the first hint of vocals kicked in I found myself immediately searching the worldwide web in an attempt to find out if Saxon‘s Bif Byford was indeed a guest of Jameson Raid. It turns out that Mr. Byford is not “Mr. Sunset”, but the parallels are unavoidable to me and that’s a good thing, Saxon is an all time favorite band. A fantastic opening track to literally make you sit up and take notice, straight out of NWOBHM. OK, Jameson Raid, you’ve got my attention, what else you got? The title track, “Uninvited Guests” appears next, whispered softly at the outset before it opens up into another grinder that pounds along for just shy of six toe-tapping, head banging, blissful minutes. Who are these guys? Presently based in Birmingham, England, Jameson Raid has actually been around since 1973 with two members of the early 80’s version of the band still in the roster today, Terry Dark (the Bif Byford vocal doppelganger) and bass man Pete Green. The other half of Jameson Raid‘s current lineup is rounded out with Dave Rothan on guitar and Lars Wickett seated behind the kit. It seems that Jameson Raid, whose name is derived from an incident in the Transvaal (South African Republic) at the turn of 1895/96, ended around 1982/83 having left little testament to their existence with only a couple of EP’s and a demo cassette. The most well-known lineup (Terry Dark, John Ace-bass, Ian Smith-guitar and Phil Kimberly-drums) reunited in 2010, the first time these four had shared a stage in over 30 years. Added to the discography over the next five years were two compilation albums, a live recording, a single and another EP to bring us to the first full-length album in 2015’s Uninvited Guests. Third track, “Metal People” literally speaks to me as Dark‘s lyrics are delivered via my speaker cones, “….they don’t like our clothes, they don’t like our hair, they don’t like anything we do, not that we care. I’d like to educate them, show them the truth…….so now we’ll tell ’em, stand up and show ’em, that’s who we are, we’re Metal People….” surrounded by the grooves of Green and Wickett and riff mastery of Rothan. Uninvited Guests pounds forward through “Breaking Point”, slowing briefly once it gets to “Red Moon”, but ramping up again for “Roll on Tomorrow” and “SS Idol Tearz”. “Maze of Rats”, in the 8th slot, is another noteworthy, although unfortunately, shortest at 3:54, composition. Can’t even tell you why, but “Maze of Rats” just sticks with me! A brief respite with the haunting “Haunted” follows with “9 Reasons” behind that, leading us to the final selection of Uninvited Guests in “Truth & Heresy”. This track, originally issued as a single in 2014, lyrically questions faith in the church and may not be for everyone, but the official video appears below for you to check out.
Uninvited Guests is a must listen for NWOBHM fans and a worthy effort from a band I certainly hope to see more of either live or recorded in the future. Containing a total of eleven tracks, only one under the four minute mark and most over five, there’s more than an hour’s worth of piercing vocals, charging riffs, pounding backbeats and thundering basslines to please. Bravo and thank-you Jameson Raid!
I am The Meister and I am “Metal People”