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Blackfoot - Topic

Siogo Play

Blackfoot was always the heaviest of the great Southern rock movement, and on Siogo(reputedly either a Native American word for "closeness" or a crude groupie acronym, probably the latter) the boys try to break into the metal market and regain their brief hold on American audiences. Staunch metallists will recognize the touch of producer Al Nalli (from Axe's similarly excellent Nemesis) and a new bit of European muscle from Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley on the keyboards. Although cliched throughout, powerful performances send openers "Send Me an Angel," "Run for Cover," and "Drivin' Fool" to lofty hard rock heights. "We're Goin' Down" nips the riff from "Double Vision," while "Goin' in Circles" and the micro-hit "Teenage Idol" thunder like late Rainbow. "Heart's Grown Cold" treats the Nazareth dirge like a lost classic, and virtually transforms it into one as a result (The next and basically last Blackfoot burner, Vertical Smiles, houses another Nazareth standard in "Morning Dew," as well as the lost Peter Cetera nugget "Livin' in the Limelight," but that's another album.). Siogo would be founding guitarist Charlie Hargrett's finale; he was disgruntled at the band's bandwagon-jumping; but the record remains a great blast of hard-working heaviness, which definitely deserves restoration on CD. ~ Whitney Z. Gomes, Rovi

Marauder Play

By the time of 1981's Marauder album, Blackfoot's career had effectively stalled in America, as the band's hard rock sound evolved further and further from the Skynyrd-derived Southern rock sound of their successful 1979 opus, Strikes. Still, while continuing to rely on hard-driving numbers such as "Good Morning" and "Dry County," Marauder also saw Blackfoot attempting a compromise with the dramatic "Diary of a Workingman." Though it showcased the band at their melodic Southern rock best, the track failed to chart in America and Blackfoot decided to concentrate their touring efforts in Britain and Europe, where their popularity continued to skyrocket. As for the album, Shorty Medlocke makes his by-now-expected contribution to the intro of "Rattlesnake Rock 'N' Roller," which goes on to feature some upbeat piano tinkling and a horn section. Likewise, the unexpected breakdown (with Mexican horns and tango guitar rhythms) in the middle of "Too Hard to Handle" makes it one of the band's best hard rockers to date, and "Searchin'" is another Southern rock hit that might have been. Unfortunately, mounting inner-band tensions and record company indifference marked this as the last great Blackfoot album. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Flyin' High Play

Blackfoot's 1975 debut, No Reservations (named in reference to their Native American bloodlines), had been a critical and commercial bust for their indifferent label, Island Records, so after being cut loose from their contract, the resourceful Southern rock group immediately hooked up with the more rock-friendly Epic Records, for the release of their second long-player, Flyin' High, the very next year. The bottom line was that Blackfoot were also still seeking their songwriting groove on their way to establishing the heavier style of Southern rock that would eventually distinguish them from Skynyrd and all of their clones. And yet a handful of these tracks -- "Save Your Time," "Island of Life," the title cut -- pass muster by Blackfoot's future high standards, and in retrospect, there's no telling what proper promotional support could have done for Flyin' High (after all, Blackfoot on a bad day still beat hell out of the competition). But the album was roundly ignored by consumers, saw the group dropped for the second year straight, and would join its predecessor in cutout bins, languishing out of print for decades on end. By the time Blackfoot made a comeback with 1979's watershed Strikes LP, many new fans simply assumed that this was actually the group's first release, rather than a case of well-deserved third time lucky. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Tomcattin' Play

Blackfoot's second major-label effort, 1980s Tomcattin', continued pushing the envelope of Southern rock, and despite the absence of an obvious hit, fans of the band's heavier aspirations weren't disappointed. As usual, the album opens at full throttle with "Warped" before finding a mid-paced groove on songs such as "On the Run" and "Dream On." "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" is another stomper, and "Every Man Should Know (Queenie)" is probably the record's all-around highlight, thanks to its clever combination of slide guitar, tough riffs, and a catchy chorus. Save for its interesting harmonica, the ballad "In the Night" feels rather forced, but band leader Rickey Medlocke is especially inspired on the bluesy hobo tale "Spendin' Cabbage." For the finale, the band once again calls upon Medlocke's dad Shorty to introduce the barnstorming, double entendre-laden "Fox Chase." ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Strikes Play

After missing the boat with Lynyrd Skynyrd (for whom he played drums early on), guitarist/singer Rick Medlocke formed Blackfoot, arguably the first all-Native American rock group. The band struggled for almost a decade, playing run-of-the-mill Southern rock that they eventually injected with extra volume and attitude before signing with Atco, for whom they recorded their 1979 breakthrough Strikes. Known as a ferocious live unit and probably the heaviest of Southern rock bands (see opener "Road Fever"), Strikes also proved that Blackfoot could write great melodies for the gloomy "Left Turn on a Red Light" and the inspired cover version of Free's "Wishing Well." But the band's biggest hit would come in the form of the seven-minute "Highway Song," a tune that was admittedly very reminiscent of Skynyrd's "Freebird" and that helped drive the album to gold status. Also of note is the harmonica performance of Shorty Medlocke (Rick's grandfather) on his own blues, "Train, Train." ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

King Biscuit Flower Hour Play

"Now we know where all the real rock & rollers are tonight!" announces Rickey Medlocke after ripping through "Rattlesnake Rock 'N Roller" -- and this CD is the way Blackfoot's high-energy swamp rock was meant to be heard: live, loud, and raw. Cut at the Palladium in Hollywood on August 10, 1983, it offers the unbridled slashing guitar and vocal attacks of Rickey Medlocke and Charlie Hargrett in nine songs, augmented by a 17-minute interview with Medlocke discussing the show. The sound is good but not exceptional -- even digital audio has limits when dealing with music played this loud and fast, and "Train, Train" has a few problems (cavernous acoustics mar this number), but the disc won't disappoint fans, and may even make a few converts among those who missed them at the time. Additionally, they do offer a few surprises, including a surprisingly sweetly sung break on "Wishing Well," and the close integration of Ken Hensley's organ into their sound. Another highlight is the frantic cover of Hensley's Uriah Heep hit "Easy Livin'." ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Hits You Remember: Live Play

This nine-track disc features the same musical contents as Greatest Hits Live (2003), the even less specific Live (2000), and most appropriately, King Biscuit Flower Hour (1998). In fact, prior to being released on CD, the performance was initially aired on the weekly syndicated radio concert series. Blackfoot became known as a second-tier Southern rock combo and was formed by onetime Lynyrd Skynyrd member Rickey Medlocke (guitar/vocals), whose efforts as a primary percussionist can be heard throughout the highly recommended Skynyrd's First: Complete Muscle Shoals (1998) collection. His direct, albeit brief, connection with the godfathers of confederate rock & roll gave him the experience and leverage for Blackfoot, which initially was one of the only units consisting completely of Native Americans. On Hits You Remember: Live (2001), Blackfoot are captured at the Palladium in Hollywood on August 10, 1983, touring behind their sixth studio album, Siogo (1983). The set list includes "Teenage Idol" from that LP, as well as the piledriving "On the Run" from Tomcattin' (1980). Among other recommended originals are the lengthy "Train, Train," as well as "Livin' in the City" and the should-have-been Skynyrd sound-alike "Highway Song." However, the band's evolution ultimately led them to a less melodic and exceedingly heavier approach, as this version demonstrates. Many of the intricacies that gave the familiar version such appeal are lost in favor of heavily distorted lead electric guitars and an equally heavy-handed execution. Absent on this specific incarnation is the extended telephone "Interview With Rickey Medlocke," which first surfaced at the conclusion of the aforementioned King Biscuit Flower Hour. Die-hard enthusiasts will inevitably want to obtain this material, and Hits You Remember: Live is as good a place as any to get it. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi

Rattlesnake Rock 'N' Roll: The Best of Blackfoot Play

Southern rock's last great gasp is spelled out on this 18-track compilation. Wisely leaving off anything from the weak albums (No Reservations, Siogo, Vertical Smiles, and Rick Medlocke & Blackfoot) and cherry-picking from the rest of Blackfoot's output, this slims the group's best down to a nice solid chunk of heavy twin Southern rock guitars, macho lyrics, and thundering drumbeats. While some naysayers will point to the group's "Highway Song" as being little more than a spirited "Free Bird" knockoff, the guitar interplay between Medlocke and Charlie Hargrett is well worth the listen. Other highlights include "Train Train," "Left Turn on a Red Light," and a cover of Free's "Wishing Well." Another special bonus is three tracks from Highway Song Live, a U.K.-only release that clearly illustrates what a potent live combination the original quartet truly was. ~ Cub Koda, Rovi

Original Album Series Play

Original Album Series offers five Blackfoot albums -- 1979's Strikes through 1984's Vertical Smiles -- for a low price. The packaging is budget to save costs, with each album in a paper sleeve that replicates the artwork. The last two albums in the series can be overlooked. Released in 1983, Siogo finds the band flirting with the synthesizer age, and 1984's Vertical Smiles is a bit of a misstep. However, the first three albums, which each feature an animal head on the cover (Strikes, Tomcattin', and Marauder), capture the band at its peak and are totally worth owning., Rovi
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