Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1972-73)

- Michael Des Barres -- vocals

- Rod Rook Davies -- guitar, percussion, vocals

- Stevie Forest -- lead guitar, vocals

- Nigel Harrison -- bass

- Pete Thompson -- drums, percussion, vocals


  backing musicians:

- Dave Caswell -- trumpet

- Mick Hodgkinson -- keyboards

- Lyle Jenkins -- sax

- John Mumford -- trumpet

- The Silverettes -- backing vocals



  line up 2  (1973-74)

NEW - Robbie Blunt (aka Phillip Donnely) -- lead guitar (replaced

   Stevie Forest)

- Michael Des Barres -- vocals

- Rod Rook Davies -- guitar, percussion, vocals

- Nigel Harrison -- bass

- Pete Thompson -- drums, percussion, vocals





- Blondie (Nigel Harrison)

- BP Fallon and the Bandits (Nigel Harrison)

- Broken Glass (Robbie Blunt)

- Bronco (Robbie Blunt)

- Buck (Stevie Forest)

- Checquered Past (Michael Des Barres and Nigel Harrison)

- Chicken Shack (Robbie Blunt)

- The Rod Davies Band

- Detective (Michael Des Barres)

- Nite City (Nigel Harrison)

- Power Station (Michael Des Barres)

- The Riot Quad (Rod Davies)

- The Sorrows (Rod Davies)

- Southern Sound (Robbie Blunt)

- Spirit of the Forest (Michael Des Barres)

- Stan Webb's Chicken Shack (Robbie Blunt)



Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Silverhead

Company: MCA

Catalog:  MCA -266

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; cut lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3363

Price: $40.00

I remember from a psychology class that people tend to set a first impression of one another within 30 seconds.  I'm guessing that theory kind of explains why I took an instant dislike to this album.  Mind you that didn't stop me from picking it up cheap at a yard sale.  There was just something about the uber-'70s cover of singer Michael Des Barres in white pancake make-up that was thoroughly irritating ...   In all fairness, having read a recent interview with Des Barres, he seems to become the kind of person you'd like to call a friend.

So here's another short lived band with a story that would make an okay Hallmark movie of the week.   Front man/singer Michael De Barres started out as a small time actor appearing in British television and stage. In 1971 Des Barres was appearing in Robert Stigwood's "The Dirtiest Show In Town".  He was playing the role of a rock star and was introduced to Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Webber hired him to work on demos for the forthcoming "Jesus Christ Superstar" and subsequently helped Des Barres score a record deal with Deep Purple's Purple label (MCA acquiring US distribution rights).  Deciding a band would go over better than a solo act, they out a help wanted add in Melody Maker and after various interviews, ended up with a line-up featuring Des Barres on vocals, guitarist Rod Rook Davies,  Stevie Forest on lead guitar, Nigel Harrison on bass, and drummer Pete Thompson.


Produced by Martin Birch, by every right 1972's "Silverhead" should have been a complete disaster.  At the start of their career the band had only been given three months to rehearse before being sent off to tour Japan.  That was followed  by an American tour opening for the likes of Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, and Uriah Heep.  Under such a tight touring schedule, and already falling victim to the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle, the band had little time to prepare material.  The fact they turned in something as good as this collection was quite an accomplishment. By my count five of the ten songs were really worth hearing.  That's a pretty good batting average.  In all honesty there wasn't a great deal of originality in these grooves.  You didn't have to listen very hard to hear Marc Bolin, Bowie, Alice Cooper, Mott the Hoople, and other glam influences.  Still, they had good tastes in their influences and the fact they were already being swallowed by the rock and roll devil, added a certain sweaty realness to the whole package.  I'm sure they were major pains in the ass in 1972, but their over-the-top strutting made for an overlooked classic slice of glam rock.  In fact, given how low my initial expectations were ad how many of the songs overcame their generic roots, I gave it an extra star.

The album was originally released in the States on the small Signpost label featured a different cover, but the same track listing.


"Silverhead" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Long Legged Lisa   (Michael Des Barres - Rod Rook Davies) - 3:38   rating: **** stars

Sporting a slinky, glam-esque sound, 'Long Legged Lisa' sure sounded like they'd been listening to way too much Marc Bolan.  I guess there were far worse influences out there, but this one was so imitative it was a surprise they didn't get slapped with a copy write lawsuit.  Forest's slide guitar solo provided the song highlight.

2.) Underneath the Light   (Stevie Forest) - 5:24   rating: **** stars

Penned by guitarist Forest, there wasn't a single original thought, or note across the full five and a half minutes of 'Underneath the Light'.  And in spite of the stupid doo-doo-doo segment, it somehow came together as a nifty mid-'70s rocker.  I can only guess they were so stoned they didn't realize they were turning in an excellent rocker.

3.) Ace Supreme  (Michael Des Barres - Stevie Forest) - 2:54   rating: **** stars

'Ace Supreme' has always reminded me of an English version of Alice Cooper with similar double entendre lyrics that would have sent 15 year old boys into spasms of ecstasy "she wiped his kick stand clean ...").   Yeah, I was about 15 when this came out.   LOL   The brief motorcycle sound effects were hysterical.  I'm sure they were intended to sound ominous, but it actually sounded like  band members were suffering from a bad case of flatulence.  An edited version was tapped as a British single:

   UK release

- 1972's 'Ace Supreme' b/w 'Oh No No No' (Purple catalog number PUR 104)

   Japanese release

- 1972's 'Ace Supreme' b/w 'In Your Eyes' (Odeon catalog number EOR 10389)

4.) Johnny  (Michael Des Barres) - 6:24   rating: ** stars

The first disappointment, the ballad 'Johnny' found the band taking a stab at being profound and thought provoking.   Hum, wonder if this is what Springsteen would have sounded like if he's spent too much time spinning Mott the Hoople album.  and What was with the abrupt shift to a country-tinge ?   I will admit Harrison turned in a nice performance on bass.  

5.) In Your Eyes  (Michael Des Barres) - 6:05  rating: **** stars

When you see pictures of the1972 era Michael Des Barres, you have to wonder how a 95 pound, drug addicted guy could find the resources to sound this raw and ragged.  I'll readily admit I was never a big fan of his over-singing style, but on 'In Your Eyes' he was pretty damn impressive.   Not sure if it was Davis, or Forest, but once it got going, around the 4:30 mark, the song sported one of the prettiest guitar figures I've ever heard.


(side 2)

1.) Rolling with My Baby   (Michael Des Barres - Stevie Forest) - 3:52  rating: ** stars

Side two started out with a pedestrian blues-glam rocker ...   Hopefully I didn't just create a new musical genre.   Unless you were excited to hear Des Barres trotting out his best Steve Marriott impressions, there wasn't much to shout about here.   The sound and video don't quite line-up, but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune for television.  A stiff wind could have knocked them all over.  Not exactly glam's finest moment:    The track was tapped as a singl in France, Germany, and the UK:

- 1973's 'Rolling with My Baby' b/w 'In Your Eyes'  (Purple catalog number PUR 110)

2.) Wounded Heart   (Stevie Forest) - 5:23   rating: *** stars

Another ballad, but this one was better than I would have expected.  Again, nothing original, but Des Barres sounded like he'd just stepped on a rusty nail, giving the song a bit of depth.  Should have ditched the female backing singers on this one.

3.) Sold Me Down the River   (Micahel Des Barres - Davies) - 4:26   rating: *** stars

Back to glam, but this time wrapped in a more commercial sheen. Shame they added horns to the arrangement.

4.) Rock and Roll Band   (Michael Des Barres)  - 5:53   rating: **** stars

Echoes of Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople.  Not a bad thing if you're into that band.  I am.   Once again Harrison's bass line slays the rest of the band.

5.) Silver Boogie (instrumental) (Michael Des Barres - Rod Rook Davies - Nigel Harrison - Stevie Forest - Pete Thompson) - 0:53   rating: ** stars

Tacked on the the previous tune, the instrumental 'Silver Boogie' was nothing more than a brief boogie rock segment.  Kind of a sad way to end the album.




SRB 02/2018