After enjoying the Sunday afternoon stroll of Steppin It Up I was initially unprepared for the more electrically charged Sting In The Tale. It took several visits to become acquainted with the delivery but I am glad to say that these visitations paid off. While this album is by no means a classic one, it is nevertheless a solid journeyman effort that presents the John Lawton Band with a little attitude.
The former vocalist of Uriah Heep, John Lawton has always stood in the shadows of his predecessor the late David Byron. More prominent for his blues influenced vocal styling, Lawton lacked the flare and peacock confidence required of a front man. This album is successful in presenting Lawton in a more direct and vigorous approach. The man is ready to rock and roll and if I was forced to give you a comparison I would say there are influences of Whitesnake, Free and Heep.
Despite the multiple composers involved, there is a band atmosphere and focus. Still the name of the group is the John Lawton Band and the namesake contributes to 5 of the 10 tracks. Though Lawton is more than capable of rocking with the rest of the members, the lone ballad ?I?ll Be Here? is his property. Though mellow, it is a stirring piece of music as is the mid- tempo ?Lately?. In contrast, there is the straight-ahead thumper ?Give It Up? that has a Bad Company/Free feel to it.
Meanwhile, guitarist Erol Sora, previously featured on ?Steppin? It Up? presents us with the angry ?Written On The Wall? and the well paced ?Angels They Cry?. The latter provides us with a fine balance of Hammond organ and guitar, with Dunning driving the song with his focused and prominent bass lines.
Speaking of Steve Dunning, he was given little opportunity in the previous collaboration with Lawton. However, this oversight is corrected here and Dunning is allowed room to breathe. And a deep breathe it is as we are treated to the Whitesnake influenced ?Take You High? contrasted with the blues based ?Firing Line?. But Dunning?s best moment is the playful and funky ?King Con?, which along with the ballad ?I?ll Be Here?, would compete for the album?s finer moments. Dunning is certainly permitted to spread his creative wings.
Do not let the elementary album cover fool you. Though this album does not breed in originality, it has a very familiar ring without coming across as stale or torpid. In fact, the John Lawton Band is quite a trapeze act that balances smooth mid tempo compositions with its stinging straight-ahead rock and rollers. As a result, this journeyman effort is pleasingly pleasurable.