Straight out of Bolton, Lancashire, UK came a band that sold out the Albert Hall in Bolton, had the legendary Derek Oliver on speed dial and a thousand plus members of their fan club. This six-piece band delivers melodic hard rock in the vein of Kiss of the Gypsy, FM, Tobruk and Glasgow. I´m talking about Dirty Tryx which was originally formed in 1986 by drummer Bob Glendenning and bass player Neil Howarth. The duo soon found keyboard player and vocalist Jonathan Kay (ex-Crywolf) and guitarist Ron Stratton, with Kay initially handling the vocals. A year and a half later the band added guitar slinger Lee Johnson and lead vocalist Dave Lambert to their roster and now things started to happen. The career picked up when Dirty Tryx recorded and released their three track Titz Mega 88 demo in 1988 which were sold at gigs and through their fan club. Sales of the cassette exceeded one thousand copies. The demo won a lot of praise in the popular magazine Metal Forces. It was recorded at the Cottage Studio in Macclesfield and named after a girl the band knew with mega boobs. This tape was followed by their debut 7″ in 1989, released on X Records, with the songs “Rough Ride” and “Waitin´“. X Records was a small indie label in their area that supported local talent. This single received rave reviews in all major metal magazines at the time like Kerrang!, Metal hammer and Metal Forces. The vinyl was recorded in Loco Studios in Wales and signalled a huge step forward when it came to the production and also a huge improvement in the songwriting department could be noted. The single and the following tour was well received by the fans as well as famous writer Dave Ling who wrote a review for Raw.
With the national press on their side and an ever growing fan base, Dirty Tryx played prestigious gigs at Albert Hall in Bolton, The Hippodrome and The Marquee in London among others. They were deemed the biggest unsigned band in the UK in 1989. A tour supporting fellow countrymen and metallians Marshall Law followed. Labels Atco and Chrysalis showed interest in the band. Dirty Tryx was just about to get signed when Ron Stratton left and the remaining band recorded a 3-track 12″ single called “Substitute For You” in 1990 which was once again released on X Records and paid for by Steve Meekins. It received a few good reviews as well but by this time the band was falling apart. Drummer Glendenning and Kay were next to leave. Before splitting up permanently Dirty Tryx recruited new drummer Morton Schjolin and recorded a demo that remained unreleased until now. It was called Demo 1995. Lambert later formed Mother Mary with guitarist Andrew Bray and bassist Manu Michael.
Fast forward to 2015 and Primo Bonali, CEO of Italian label Steelheart Records, secured a deal to re-release all their recorded material on CD as part of the LOST UK JEWELS, collector series.
This CD compiles both demos and the two vinyl singles/EP on one CD making it a 10 track affair. This is the 9th volume of the Lost UK Jewels collector series which focuses on forgotten bands from the UK playing AOR and melodic hard rock (MHR). Italian label Steelheart Records has a very unique ability to take the old cover of a single or a demo or an EP and use it for their reissues. We should give them a lot of credit for that while other reissue labels have new artwork drawn up that does not fit the band or the period it was recorded. So an extra thumbs up to Steelheart Records for staying as true to the original artwork as they possibly can. The CD has been remastered from the original master tapes and comes with a tasteful 16-page colour booklet with a band biography and various press cuts. I have the uppermost respect for these guys who struggled to get a record deal and recorded a couple of stunning tracks completely on their own.
Track by track comments
The tracks are not chronologically presented in the order they were recorded. The album starts off with the 1989 7″ single Rough Ride and the track by the same name. This song kicks of with a great riff and a nice keyboard melody to support it. This is a mid-paced, heavy melodic hard rock track. It has got the typical 1980´s production but also a catchy chorus that is really infectious and a tasteful twin guitar duel in the solo part. It also features some convincing guitar work with the twin attack from Lee Johnson and Ron Stratton. Definitely one of the stronger cuts and a worthy album opener. It is followed by the more mellow and softer “Waitin´“, the other A-side on this 7” (double-A-sided single). It starts off with a whoa choir and Lambert’s initial vocals makes me think of Bret Michaels of Poison somehow. Compared to its predecessor it contains more AOR elements, a soft rocker but still a great track. It also features some bar-room style of piano from Jonathan Kay, a cracking hook, some fluid bass work from Howarth and, of course, the hard-hitting drumming from Glendenning. We then move forward to 1990 and the Substitute For You EP. The title track of that EP kicks off with a bluesy riff and a piano fill. It´s a solid rock song with a nice vocal performance from Lambert but lacks a bit of power. Up next is “Heart of Stone” which is definitely one of my favourite tracks on this CD. It is a heartfelt ballad which starts with a great lead guitar crossed with a nice keyboard intro. Lambert’s vocals shine as always and the commercial potential is there. A song definitely as strong as your random power ballad that ruled the MTV around this time. The song steps up a notch in tempo towards the end with even a Hammond gracing the track. Up next we have the last song on the EP called “Changes” which starts off with a grooving bass line from Howarth. The song has a driving riff and a keyboard melody that keeps the momentum going throughout the track and it´s a song that in its structure and use of guitar and keyboard could as well had been done by Swedish melodic rockers Treat.
Now it´s time to turn back the clock and revisit the Titz Mega 88 demo tape. It kicks off with “Die For Me” and the guitar sound is completely different as well as the production which is not as polished and developed as on the later tracks. When it comes to the song it is a really strong song with a great and catchy chorus. The Bon Jovi vibes are all over this song and it really shows the talent that this band had when it came to writing a great rock song. Just pick any of Bon Jovi´s 80´s albums and this song would have fitted in nicely. The song ends with an acapella chorus and keyboard melody. We are then treated with “Work It Out” which starts off with a keyboard melody that really dominates the song from the start. A heavy chugging guitar and another great vocal performance from Lambert makes this a nice acquaintance. The chorus is graced with a big gang vocal that was so predominant at the time. The whole song structure smacks of experience and quality. Up next is the last song from the demo called “Living For The Rock”. It builds from drum…keyboard…guitar intro. It kicks off with a heavy hitting groove with the guitars joining after a while. Slightly heavier than the other songs this adds some power to the mix and it also has Lambert stretching his vocals to the limit just before the great guitar solo midsection. This compilation ends with the two weakest cuts in my opinion that are really different from the rest of the material. “Towing The Line” and “Looking Glass Smile” are both off the unreleased “1995 demo” which are two bluesy acoustic songs with a vocal performance from Lambert that bears a more modern touch. In my opinion, these songs are not up to par with the rest of the material and lack the power and melody of its predecessor.
My top picks from this Dirty Tryx album would be “Rough Ride”, “Heart of Stone”, “Die For Me” and “Living For Rock”.
This is the ninth volume of the “LOST UK JEWELS” collector series and I have to admit I´ve got them all. A big thumbs up must go to Primo Banali of Steelheart Records and Rob Evans of AOR Underground for all their effort in researching, contracting and releasing all these great bands from a time long gone and forgotten by most. This CDs come with extended biography, lots of unseen footage and press cuts. You know you will get 1980´s or early 1990´s AOR/Melodic hard rock and you know you will get your money´s worth. Dirty Tryx is melodic because of the keyboards and distinctive tunes, hard because of the stinging guitars in a perfect blend. All the releases in this series are not of course stunning, but Dirty Tryx prove to stand the test of time. You get at least eight great tracks with a distinct melodic fell, a couple of great solos and loads of memorable riffs. The musicianship is really top notch and Lambert’s vocal performance is solid throughout. The newest material is in my mind the weakest in the deck but interesting and of historical value. The packaging is great and the only thing missing is a reprint of the lyrics. I would give this album a 7,5 out of 10 geeks. I´m already eagerly waiting for the next volume in the collector series and wonder what they will dig up next. I hope Steelheart Records will keep up the good work and serve us some more long lost and forgotten gems and blasts from the past. This album will probably merit a lot more spins in my CD player and it deserves it. Bring it on….