Archive for Gillian

Why Black Emerald Should Be Signed

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2013 by 80smetalman
Black Emerald

Black Emerald

Last week at the Bloodstock Festival, the very first band I was treated to on the day totally blew me away. Standing in the New Blood tent, where unsigned acts get to show their stuff, the Reading based Black Emerald opened the day and for me, provided a fantastic beginning to what would go on to be a monumental day. When they left the stage, I was totally of the opinion that if there were any record company scouts observing this band, they would be insane not to sign them to a record contract.  One week later, after listening to their demo CD and currently listening to material they posted on the Reverbnation web site, I am still of that opinion. Therefore, the object of this post is to make you the reader of the same mind frame.

Let’s start with the vocals. most of which are carried out by bassist Simon Hall. If you’re expecting some operatic,  melodic vocals in the vein of Coverdale, Gillan, Tempest of Dio, then you will be deeply disappointed. Instead, if I were to make such comparisons, I would go more in line with Hetfield or Mustane and there lies the pleasant problem. Hall’s vocals are unique enough to call his own so it is difficult to compare him with anybody and that’s a good thing. In addition, guitarists Edd Higgs and Dave Toland also contribute in the lead vocal department giving Black Emerald more versatility. When I observed this phenomenon, it immediately took me back to 70’s bands like KISS, Styx and The Eagles where most, if not all, in the band were just as capable of taking the mike.

Another feature I identified with this band is that they have a lead guitarist who can shred. Unfortunately, I don’t know which one was the one who did most of the shredding last Sunday. The other problem at Bloodstock and a little on the demo was that his efforts lacked volume, which I blame on sound production. Fortunately, I have heard three tracks on Reverbnation and this isn’t a problem, I can hear the lead guitar just fine. Finally, I also mentioned the tight rhythm section and drummer Connor Shortt leads this very well, along with the bass and rhythm guitar.


Simon Hall- bass, vocals

Edd Higgs- guitar, vocals

Dave Toland- guitar, vocals

Connor Shortt- drums

Demo Songs

1. B.O.D.

2. Drown In the River

3. Figure On a Barbed Wire Cross

One last aspect of this band is their material. They sing about all things heavy metal, sex, drugs and Satan. Five days on after listening to their CD, I still find myself singing the lines from B.O.D.: “Smoking weed, smoking crack.” That’s the other thing, if they were to break America, the religious right would undoubtedly put them on their hit list. So, I hope that I have put forward a strong enough argument to why Black Emerald should be given a record contract. But if you don’t want to take me word, check them out on and type Black Emerald in the search. You won’t be disappointed.

Next post: The Jam- Sound Effects

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Gillian- Mr Universe

Posted in 1979, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by 80smetalman

For me, after he left Deep Purple, Ian Gillian kind of dropped off my radar throughout the rest of the 1970’s. This is mainly owing to the fact that none of Gillian’s songs ever got played on that old AM clock radio of mine. Therefore, this is yet another album that I listened to after the fact. What I know now that I didn’t know back then was that Gillian continued to rock on with his own band for the rest of the decade and was very successful in the UK.

Listening to “Mr Universe,” I get the feeling there’s a similar sound to the Deep Purple reunion album “Perfect Strangers.” The sound is more keyboard oriented but there is nothing wrong with that on this album. However, I do like the more rockier tracks “Vengeance” and “Puget Sound” as they have more harder sound. Furthermore, the guitar work of Bernie Torme, someone I would eventually come across when I got to London in 1986, is more present on those tracks. The other tracks are in no ways weak and all together this is a fine album.

Track Listing:

1. Second Sight

2. Secret of the Dance

3. She Tears Me Down

4. Roller

5. Mr Universe

6. Vengeance

7. Puget Sound

8. Dead of the Night

9. Message in a Bottle

10. Fighting Man


Ian Gillian- vocals, harmonica

Bernie Torme- guitar

Colin Towns- keyboards, flute

John McCoy- bass

Mick Underwood- drums

Ian Gillian has always been one of my favourite vocalists and I will forever be blown away when I heard him sing “A Child in Time” live. His vocals are no less formidable on “Mr Universe.” One thing that has been said of singers who surround themselves with good musicians is that they do so to compensate for their limited vocal ability. Yeah, that’s certainly true with Jedward and some say it about David Lee Roth. However, Ian Gillian is not the case and his vocals and band has me wondering why I never heard of them in the US back then.

Next post: Pat Benatar- In the Heat of the Night

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London