Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1975)
- Miller Anderson -- vocals, lead guitar
- Paul Bliss -- keyboards, bass, vocals
- Derek Griffiths -- guitar, lead vocals
- Keef Hartley -- drums
- Mel Simpson -- keyboards, vocals
- The Artwoods (Derek Griffiths)
- The Blackheart Band (Derek Griffiths)
- The Bliss Band (Paul Bliss)
- Red Bludd's Bluesicians (Derek Griffiths and Jo Lord)
- The Mike Cotton Sound (Derek Griffiths)
- Hemlock (Miller Anderson)
- John Mayall Bluesbreakers (Keef Hartley)
- Satisfaction (Derek Griffiths)
- St Valentine's Day Massacre (Derek Griffiths)
- Wicked (Derek Griffiths)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Dog Soldier
Company: United Artists
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 6275
A quick look at Dog Soldier's line up and you're left with the distinct impression that these guys had been in at least half of England's 1960s and early-1970s bands. Seriously, you'd be hard pressed to find a line up with more collective musical experience than the combined talents of singer/guitarist Miller Anderson, bassist Paul Bliss, guitarist Derek Griffiths, drummer Keef Hartley, and keyboard player Mel Simpson. Ironically, to some extent that collective talent proved to be both an asset and a liability. First the good news ... with so much talent on display each member was given an opportunity to shine. In fact all five members contributed to the writing chores, with Miller credited with three songs, Simpson two, and the other three members one each. The downside was the fact this album occasionally sounded like a bunch of separate acts sharing common backing ... think The Beatles "White Album". There simply wasn't a great deal of cohesion here.
back cover photo: right to left: Derek Griffiths - Paul Bliss - Keep Hartley - Miller Anderson - Mel Simpson
Soldier" track listing:
1.) Pillar To Post (Miller Anderson) - 4:58 rating: **** stars
Opening the album, Miller's 'Pillar To Post' offered up a first-rate slice of Free/Bad Company-styled blues-rock. A tad less rugged than Paul Rodgers voice, Miller was still an excellent singer and his growling lead guitar was wonderful. Always loved Simpson cheesy synthesizer fills ... Easy to see why United Artists tapped this as the leadoff single.
- 1975's 'Pillar To Post' b/w 'Several People' (United Artists catalog number UA XW-642-X)
2.) Several People (Keef Hartley) - 5:17 rating: **** stars
With their emphasis on blues-rock moves, Hartley's solo albums have frequently disappointed me. As a result I wasn't expecting a great deal out of 'Several People'. Shame on me since this mid-tempo rocker was wonderful with a great breezy melody, nice vocals (okay they were a bit flat in the harmony department), and some excellent Derek Griffiths' lead guitar. Surprisingly commercial too boot ...
3.) You Are My Spark (Derek Griffiths) - 7:14 rating: *** stars
Griffiths contribution to the album, 'You Are My Spark' was an interesting mid-tempo rocker. Maybe it was just my ears, but Griffiths' clipped voice reminded me more than in passing to Procol Harum's Gary Brooker. The bluesy second half of the song served to showcase Griffiths' blazing guitar and Simpson's surprisingly subtle and tasteful keyboards.
4.) Long and Lonely Night (Mel Simpson) - 5:26 rating: *** stars
Simpson's 'Long and Lonely Night' was a surprisingly pretty country-tinged ballad and also served to showcase his nice voice. One of my favorite performances on the LP.
'Giving As Good As You Get' opened side two with the album's most pop-flavored tune. This one sported one of those insidiously catchy hooks you simply couldn't shake.
2.) Thieves and Robbers (Mel Simpson) - 4:48 rating: **** stars
Sporting the album's best melody, 'Thieves and Robbers' also featured one of the best anti-music business lyrics I've ever heard. The song was also interesting in that Simpson's vocal sounded quite a bit like Frankie Miller. The combination of a fantastic chorus and Anderson's killer guitar made this an album highlight,
3.) Strangers In My Own Time (Miller Anderson) - 4:34 rating: ** stars
The album's first disappointment, Anderson's 'Strangers In My Own Time' was a rather pedestrian horn-backed blues-rocker. With Anderson seemingly trying to channel Solomon Burke, the results were professional enough, but not particularly exciting.
4.) Looks Like Rain (Miller Anderson) - 11:28 rating: **** stars
'Looks Like Rain; started out with another blistering slice of Anderson blues-rock (emphasis on rock). One of the things I've always liked about Anderson's work was his ability to stitch together a rock song with a more commercial refrain and that talent was seldom displayed as well as on this track. Okay, the thunderstorm sound effects that signaled the song's transition into a more experimental phase wasn't really necessary, though it led to one of Anderson's prettiest solos. Come to think of it, the extended progressive instrumental segment that ended the song really wasn't necessary either. Still, personnel favorite ...
Certainly not the most original album you'll ever own, but song-for-song a major surprise and one that ends up on my turntable (showing my age here) on a regular basis. Worth looking for since you can still find affordable copies.
The English Esoteric label remastered and reissued the set in CD format with the addition of one bonus track (catalog number ECLEC2252).
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