Stray Dog


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-73) (as Aphrodite)

- Randy Reeder -- drums, percussion

- Alan Roberts -- vocals, bass

- William Garrett 'Snuffy' Walden -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  line up 2 (1973-74) (as Stray Dog)

- Alan Roberts -- vocals, bass

NEW - Leslie Sampson -- drums, percussion

- William Garrett 'Snuffy' Walden -- vocals, lead guitar 

 

  line up 3 (1974)

NEW - Luis Cabaza -- keyboards, synthesizers. backing vocals

NEW - Timmy Dulaine (aka Tim Harrison) -- vocals, guitar

- Alan Roberts -- bass, backing vocals

- Leslie Sampson -- drums, percussion

- William Garrett 'Snuffy' Walden -- lead guitar, backing vocals

 

 

 

- Alexis (Randy Reeder)

- Aphrodite (Alan Roberts and Snuffy Walden)

- Avalon (Alan Roberts)

- Back Street Crawler (Snuffy Walden)

- Bloodrock (Randy Reeder)

- Buckwheat Honey (Timmy Dulaine)

- The Eric Burden Band (Snuffy Walden)

- The Clouds (Timmy Dulaine)

- Timmy Dulaine (solo efforts)

- Free (Snuffy Walden)

- Tim Harisson Group

- The Pirates (Geoff Britton)

- The Noel Redding Band (Leslie Sampson)

- Road (Leslie Sampson)

- Snuffy Walden (solo efforts)

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Stray Dog

Company: Manticore

Catalog: MC66671
Year:
 1973

Country/State: US / UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: textured cover; includes insert; minor ring and edge wear

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6180

Price: SOLD $20.00

 

Drummer Randy Reeder, bassist Alan Roberts, and lead guitarist Snuffy Walden started their musical partnership as members of the Texas-based blues-rock band Aphrodite.  Formed in 1968, the trio spent five years touring extensively throughout the mid-west without much success.   Their big break came in 1973 when Greg Lake (or Lake's manager Neville Chesters) spotted them playing in a Denver, Colorado club.  Lake (or his manager) offered the band a recording deal with ELP's newly formed Manticore label.  The deal included the provision the band immediately fly to the UK.  Roberts and Walden readily signed on leaving Reeder behind - he reappeared as a member of the band Bloodrock and Alexis.  In the UK the quickly auditioned for a new drummer, hiring former Road member Leslie Sampson and opting to change their name to Stray Dog.

 

LP back cover left to right:  Roberts - Walden - Sampson

 

Produced by benefactor Greg Lake and the band, 1973's "Stray Dog" was one of those albums that somehow managed to fall through the cracks.  Critics largely panned it as mindless heavy metal, while fans simply ignored it.  Shame.  True, musically these seven tracks didn't offer up anything particularly original, but the band's affection for conventional blues rock was obvious throughout the collection.  Walden was a spectacular Hendrix-influenced guitarist who managed to pull a unique, watery sound out of his instrument (recall he was picked to replace Paul Kossoff in Free).  There's hardly a song here that doesn't showcase a first-rate Walden lead.   He also had a surprisingly enjoyable voice.  Equally impressive, given they hadn't been playing together more than a couple of months at the time the album was recorded Roberts and Sampson provided watertight backing - Sampson's time with Noel Redding's band Road came through on a couple of tracks - check out his blistering performance on the second half of the opener 'Tramp (How It Is)'.  

 

"Stray Dog" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tramp (How It Is)   (Snuffy Walden - Alan Roberts) - 7:06

'Tramp (How It Is)' opened up with some Keith Emerson-styled church organ and Carl Palmer-ish percussion giving you the impression this was going to be an ELP-styled set of bombastic pretense ...  Luckily about a minute into the track Walden announced 'fasten your seat belts' and the song spun off into a nifty slinky blues-rocker.  While Walden's lead work was amazing (the Roberts Sampson rhythm section kicked in big time during the second half of the tune), the big surprise on this one was how good his voice was.  rating: **** stars

- 2.) Crazy  (Snuffy Walden) - 5:10

Even though it was listed as a Walden original, 'Crazy' was apparently an updated version of Bloodrock's 'Crazy 'Bout You Babe' (taken from the "U.S.A." album).  Regardless of the song's pedigree, the result was a slinky, Hendrix-styled rocker.  Once again, Walden's raspy voice was the big surprise here.  One of my picks for standout performance.  rating: **** stars

3.) A Letter  (Snuffy Walden) - 3:50

Showcasing Walden's acoustic guitar chops, 'A Letter' was a pretty, slightly psych-tinged and slightly wobbly ballad.  They certainly tried their best and the backing vocals were nice, but they just didn't sound all that comfortable on this one.  rating: ** stars

4.) Chevrolet   (Billy Gibbons) - 3:56

The band's sizzling cover of ZZ Top's 'Chevrolet' moved things back in the right direction.  You won't forget the original, but overlooking the screechy female backing vocals this one wasn't bad.  Would have been a blast to hear it live ...   Curiously a couple of website claim Walden took credit for co-writing this one with Billy Gibbons.  For what it's worth my copy of the album credits it solely to Gibbons.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Speak of the Devil  (Snuffy Walden - Alan Roberts - Leslie Sampson) - 4:15

The lone group composition, 'Speak of the Devil' demonstrated a mix of bar boogie and commercial AOR moves.  Nice, breezy melody, though the female backing vocalists were needless.   rating: *** stars

2.) Slave   (Alan Roberts) - 6:00

Penned by Roberts and showcasing Sampson on drums, 'Slave' found the band taking a somewhat tentative stab at a more progressive sound - imagine early Rush (sans the shrieky Geddy Lee vocals) and you'd have a rough idea of what this one sounded like.  Didn't do much for me at first, but it's consistently grown on me.   rating: *** stars

3.) Rocky Mountain Suite (Bad Road)  (Snuffy Walden) - 8:24

'Rocky Mountain Suite (Bad Road)' started out as an acoustic ballad, but got a lot better a couple of minutes in when it morphed into a country-blues number showcasing some excellent Walden acoustic slide guitar.  The track took another sep in the right direction when it reinvented itself as a jumpy Walden-powered rocker.   For anyone interested, this one showcased Walden's best lead guitar work.   rating: *** stars

 

In the UK and Germany the album was tapped for a couple of singles:

 

   

  UK release

- 1973's 'Speak of the Devil' b/w 'A Letter' (Manticore catalog number K 13502)

 

  German release

- 1973's 'Chevrolet' b/w 'You Know' (Manticore catalog number 12 677 AT)

 

The band hit the road opening for ELP throughout Europe and the US (certainly a weird musical pairing that probably didn't do much to help sales), but as you'd expect, the album did little commercially.

 

I won't go as far as calling it a lost masterpiece, but I will say that this was a pretty amazing debut.  Hard rock with a commercial edge ...  most bands would have killed to have released something nearly as good. 



 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  While You're Down There

Company: Manticore

Catalog: MA6-501S1
Year:
 1974

Country/State: US / UK

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6181

Price: $30.00

 

While recording their sophomore album at L.A.'s Record Plant, producer Austin Godsey put the band in touch with Buckwheat Honey vocalist/guitarist Timmy Dulaine (aka Tim Harrison).  Having been raised around Austin, Texas Dulaine and Walden were longtime friends and by coincidence Dulaine was in in the process of recording a solo album with Godsey.  Walden apparently asked Dulaine, to demo some of his material for the band.  Impressed with his material, Dulaine was promptly asked to join Stray Dog, as was sessions keyboardist Luis Cabaza.   

 

top left to right: Cabaza - Roberts - Walden

botton left to right: Dulaine - Sampson

 

Co-produced by Godsey and the band, 1974's "While You're Down There" found Dulaine taking over the bulk of song writing chores (previously handled by Roberts and Walden).  The personnel changes also saw a significant change in the band's sound.  Cabaza and Dulaine gave the second album a much fuller sound, but in the role of prime writer, tracks like 'Words To Say Goodbye' and 'Dreams & Junk' saw Dulaine introduce a far more commercial sound.  This change in direction may have posed a problem for fans of the debut's rugged, under-produced blues-rock attack - especially since Walden was largely relegated to supporting role.  As lead singer Dulaine also gave the album a certain polish that was absent from the debut.  That added polish came with a price; at times Dulaine sounded a bit like David Coverdale which pushed the band in a Whitesnake direction.  

 

"While You're Down There" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Calamity Jane   (Timmy Dulaine) - 4:18

One of the tracks Dulaine had written for his planned solo album, 'Calamity Jane opened the LP with some pounding Walden wah-wah guitar and Cabara's barrelhouse piano.  The result was a catchy AOR rocker that showcased Dulaine's gritty voice (though he sounded like he was trying a bit too hard).   I always smile when I hear the lyric "she loves The Beatles and Genesis ...").    rating: ** stars

2.) Bits & Pieces   (Timmy Dulaine) - 2:50

With Walden providing a catchy riff for the track, 'Bits & Pieces' was a surprisingly commercial number - complete with radio-friendly harmonies, it's always surprised me that this one wasn't tapped as a single.    rating: *** stars

3.) Pieces (instrumental)  (Alan Roberts) - 2:08

'Bits & Pieces' morphed into the Alan Roberts penned instrumental 'Pieces' which served as a showcase for Cabaza's piano and Walden's achingly pretty guitar.  Perhaps the album's prettiest composition.   rating: **** stars

4.) I Would   (Alan Roberts - Leslie Sampson) - 3:48

I'm not sure who handled vocals on the slinky blues-rocker 'I Would ' but the song's rawer edge made for a nice change of pace.    rating: *** stars

5.) Words To Say Goodbye   (Snuffy Walden - Timmy Dulaine) - 5:23

The ballad 'Words To Say Goodbye' aptly displayed the group's commercial side.  With a delicate melody, pretty group harmonies, and a stunning Walden solo, the result was another radio friendly track that would not have sounded out of place on a Peter Frampton solo album.    rating: *** stars  

 

(side 2)
1.) Junkyard Angel   (Timmy Dulaine) - 2:40

'Junkyard Angel' found the band straying into REO Speedwagon territory.  Plodding and predictable, this one didn't do much for me.    rating: ** stars 

2.) Very Well   (Timmy Dulaine) - 4:04

'Very Well' apparently morphed out of an earlier Tim Harrison Group composition.  Musically this one saw the band added some modest Styx-styled progressive moves into the mix.  At least to my ears the results were quite nice.  Great melody with nice multi-tracked vocals.    rating: *** stars  

3.) Dreams & Junk   (Timmy Dulaine) - 4:15

Another big, AOR ballad 'Dreams & Junk' was certainly professional, but lacked much in the way of originality.  I've listed to the song dozens of times and at various times its reminded me of everyone from REO Speedwagon  to Molly Hatchet.    rating: ** stars

4.) Worldwinds (insrumental)   (Snuffy Walden) - 7:14

Penned by Walden, the extended instrumental 'Worldwinds' found the band diving headlong into progressive mode.  Complete with Cabaza synthesizers, this one was unlike anything else on the album (or the debut for that matter).  Fans of the band's blues-rock roots were probably appalled by it.  Personally I thought it was kind of interesting.    rating: *** stars

 

In the UK and Germany the album spun off one instantly obscure single:

 

  UK pressing

- 1974's 'Junkyard Angel' b/w 'Worldwinds' (Manticore catalog number K 13508)

  German pressing

- 1974's 'Junkyard Angel' b/w 'Worldwinds' (Manticore catalog number 13947 AT)

 

The album was certainly inconsistent, but these guys certainly had the talent to hang with far more successful AOR outfits.  Shame they weren't given an opportunity to record another collection and perhaps a more appropriate balance between the debut's tougher sound and the second LPs commercial leanings..  

 

With little promotional support from Manticore which was then distributed by Motown, the band did some local shows in support of the album.  Needless to say the collection vanished without a trace.  Within a couple of months Stray Dog was over.

 

 

Dulaine's went on to a solo career and has a website at:  http://www.timdulaine.com/

 

Roberts was briefly a member of Avalon.

 

After the band called it quits Warren joined a reunited Free where he replaced an incapacitated Paul Kossoff.  He also worked with Kossoff in Back Street Crawler.  He was a member of the Eric Burden Band, recorded some solo material and then went on to enjoy considerable success working in film and television - he's scored music for the likes of  "The Wonder Years", "thirtysomething" and "The West Wing".  He has a nice website at:

 

http://www.wgsnuffywalden.com/

 

 


 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Fasten Your Seat Belts

Company: Renaissance

Catalog: RCD 1004
Year:
 1993

Country/State: US / UK

Grade (cover/record): --

Comments: --

Available: --

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

I've never heard it, but 1993's "Fasten Your Seat Belts" (Renaissance catalog number RCD 1004) was an eight track compilation that featured a haphazard mixture of alternate takes, live efforts including a nice cover of The Beatles 'Drive My Car', and a couple of previously unreleased efforts ('You Know' and 'The Journey').  I'll have to track down a copy one of these days.

 

"Fasten You Seat Belts" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) How It Is (The Sacred Mix)   (Snuffy Walden - Alan Roberts) - 2:30
2.) Tramp (Fat & Sassy Mix)   (Snuffy Walden - Alan Roberts) - 5:32
3.) You Know - 3:46
4.) Crazy ('bout to Lose My Mind Mix)   (Snuffy Walden) - 5:12

(side 2)

1.) The Journey - 10:33
2.) Drive My Car   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:24
3.) Tramp/Dog's Blues (live)   (Snuffy Walden - Alan Roberts) - 7:13
4.) Untitled track - 1:46

 

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