Atomic Rooster - The Devil Hits Back,
In 1989 organist Vincent Crane committed suicide aged 45, and John Du Cann put together this compilation with Vincent’s widow, Jean, as a tribute. This is at least the fourth reissue of the album since then, and reverts to the original 12-track, although the Gonzo website does state that it includes three rare early live tracks which although available on some editions of this album are not on the Gonzo release. Atomic Rooster was one of those bands that never really gained the acclaim they deserved, and these days are probably best known for “Devils Answer” and “Tomorrow Night” (both on here) and for having Carl Palmer as their first drummer. That is incredibly unfair, as through the Seventies they released a series of significant albums with various line-ups. When I saw them in concert in the early Eighties they were back to the same trio that worked together in 70/71, namely John Du Cann, Vincent Crane and Paul Hammond. By now they were firmly part of the NWOBHM, and this album reflects that period of the band.
The insert provides a very potted history of the band, and seems to suggest that this album includes songs from many of the different line-ups. Given that there appear to have been 22 versions through the years, and there are only 12 songs, that somehow seems unlikely. I would much rather have had some information as to exactly who was playing on the songs (my guess, and it is only a guess, is that they are all by the trio above) and where and when the live versions were recorded. As a sampler for the early Eighties period of the band it is well worth hearing, especially as it also includes “Play It Again” which was a minor hit on the rock charts at the time (I’ve still got the 12” vinyl version). Whether it is the perfect introduction as is stated on the insert I’m not so sure, but it certainly is a good way to find out about one of our most maligned and ignored bands.