BBC Live in Concert
In the midst of one of rock’s most dismal periods, it’s refreshing to be treated to classic, vintage live rock performances by some of the genre’s finest performers of days gone by. At the forefront of the onslaught of these classic releases is the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Armed with an infinite supply of recorded live performances, the BBC is intent on assuring that these moments will not go unheard, nor the performers forgotten.
Their latest offerings includes two tremendous live acts in The Pat Travers Band and Y&T (Yesterday and Today). Although the two bands were able to achieve a modicum of success abroad, mainstream stateside success proved elusive. But on the strength of their energetic live performances, both acts amassed a loyal cult following.
“From the streets of Toronto to the streets of London.
Here’s to kick your ass, The Pat Travers Band.”
—Live! Go for What You Know (1979)
Toronto guitarist Pat Travers moved to London in 1975 and aligned himself with kindred spirits Peter “Mars” Cowling (bass), Mick Dyche (guitar) and Clive Edwards (drums). Together they spent the next three years taking their brand of Hendrix/Cream-inspired blues-rock to venues across the UK and Travers established a reputation as fiery guitarist and an excellent live performer. Radio 1 Live In Concert features four tracks from this early lineup recorded at BBC’s Sight and Sound in Concert in 1977.
However, the disc is dominated by the music of the band’s second incarnation that features in addition to Travers and Cowling, two musicians that would, on the strength of their PTB reputations go on to even greater success. Guitarist Pat Thrall (Meatloaf) and drummer Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake) gave the The Pat Travers Band the kick it needed. The two albums that followed, Live! Go for What You Know (1979) and Crash and Burn (1980) proved to be the band’s finest hours with the former providing Travers with his breakthrough hit, “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)”. Radio 1 Live in Concert captures this lineup live at the 1980 Reading Festival marching through a set that includes Travers classics like “Snortin’ Whiskey”, “Hooked on Music”, Life in London” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Susie”.
For those who never got to experience The Pat Travers Band live, the opportunity has arrived. From the excellent guitar interplay of Travers and Thrall, and the fluid bass lines of Cowling to the heart-pounding, rapid-fire double bass work of Aldridge, you’re sure to get their message loud and clear.
Likewise Y&T boasted a highly skilled guitar player of their own in Dave Meniketti. Meniketti picked up the guitar at age 16 and quickly made a name for himself. He formed Y&T in San Francisco in 1973 with Phil Kennemore (bass) and Leonard Haze (drums) and later added Joey Alves (rhythm guitar). Their constant gigging around the Bay Area landed them opening slots for such acts as Journey and The Doobie Brothers. After two lackluster albums for London Records in the mid-‘70s, the band was dropped from the label but would hit paydirt 1981 by signing with A&M Records. Their first release, Earthshaker, was a big success and showcased Meniketti as a world class rock guitarist and a top-notch vocalist with a style that resides somewhere between Sammy Hagar and Gary Moore. The success of Earthshaker also led to support slots for such heavyweights as Kiss and AC/DC.
With such high-profile gigs under their belts the band’s reputation of being a stellar live act grew and in 1984 the band was added to the Monsters of Rock Festival in Donington, England, along side Van Halen, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore and Motley Crue. BBC Live in Concert features six tunes from the Donington performance including, “Rescue Me”, “Barroom Boogie”, “Lipstick and Leather” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Gonna Save the World”. The disc’s other six tunes were recorded at the 1982 Reading Festival where the band blasts through tunes like “Hungry for Rock”, “I Believe in You”, “Forever” and “Open Fire” with Meniketti’s in-your-face riffs turning up the heat on an already sweltering English day.
Loud, bombastic, no-frills, straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll-where did it go? By today’s standards, rock is Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, Linken Park and Kid Rock, but it bears no resemblance to the great, pure rock of the ‘70s. For those of us who are anxiously awaiting its return, we may be waiting for quite sometime. But as long as the BBC will keep churning out classic live performances, it’ll make the wait a little more tolerable.