GUN HILL – NIghtheat / One Over The Eight (2CD via JLB Media via Cherry Red)

GUN HILL – NIghtheat / One Over The Eight (2CD via JLB Media via Cherry Red)

Fronted by John Lawton, a vocalist who as has had a long career dating back to the mid 60s, Gunhill were a London based band who toured pubs and clubs in the South East of England in the mid 90s. Playing covers and original material, they would venture further afield too, the band had a solid following. These two albums, the first was cassette fanclub only, are now very rare, and given a welcome reissue here.

John Lawton is best known for the three albums he recorded with Uriah Heep in the late 70s, a band he has made sporadic appearances with them since, but those albums ‘Firefly’, ‘Innocent Victim’ and ‘Fallen Angel’ are still firm fan favourites.

Outside solo work, Lawton has also worked famously with Lucifer’s Friend as well as The Les Humphries Singers,

‘Nightheat’ opens with Don’t Stop Believing, a polished number with a solid keyboard intro. The guitars and keyboards mix well, and it showcases Lawton’s powerful vocals well. The sound would have been retro even then, the sound is very FM friendly, a mix of heavy AOR, power pop and hard rock that mixes powerful vocals, solid guitar and a decent melody evenly. ‘Ready For Love’ is slightly more balladic. The guitar work in Wall Of Silence stands out, even though the song is a little slower, a commercial yet chunky smooth song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a film soundtrack. There’s a fine cover of the Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’, a favourite in the live set, here layered with guitar and strings. There’s some fine riffery here. ‘Don’t Look Back’ is one of the heavier numbers with some crunchy guitars in the intro. An excellent if commercial album, thoroughly enjoyable beginning to end.

‘One Over The Eight’ is an album of covers that showcases some of the better tracks they would play live. This opens with Whitesnake’s ‘Walking In The Shadow Of Blues’. This was always welcome as ‘Old Cov’ had long since turned his back on the blues by then. Recording quality isn’t great, a little fuzzy, quite a contrast to the previous album.

‘Eleanor Rigby’ is here again, in a much crunchier raw version. There’s a fine take on Spooky Tooth’s ‘Better By You Better Than Me’, a decent riff. The vocals are again strong but this take will always fade to the Judas Priest version. ‘Rainbow’s Stone Cold epitomises the commercial edge of the band, and ‘Harlem Shuffle’ is a great track.

Some great music from a long forgotten part of John Lawton’s long history. Well worth checking out, and it’s produced in conjunction of Lawton himself. 8/10

Joe Geesin

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GUN HILL – NIghtheat / One Over The Eight (2CD via JLB Media via Cherry Red)