Despite the image, band name, and loose association to anything similar in the mid-west during this time frame, Strongbow head down the progressive hard rock path.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: Southwind Records
SERIAL: SWS 6401
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Bill Bendler – vocals * Michael Shortland – guitars * John Stelzer – organ, synth, sax, flute, vocals * John Durzo – bass * David Smith – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 One Armed Bandit * 02 Sister Sea * 03 The Only One Around * 04 Move Over Gloom * 05 How Can I Be Loving You? * 06 Wine Eyes * 07 Hazy May
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Teleporting back to 1973, specifically to the Columbus Ohio region, one would’ve stumbled across an up and coming rock band called Strongbow. Starting life off as a four-piece, the band added a fifth member, and soon found themselves with a small contract – signed to Buddah Records subsidiary Southwind Records.
Over the next 12-18 months, the band wrote, toured and prepped themselves for their debut album. As fate would have it, the album was released in 1975, but to very little fanfare, nor label promotion. One could guess and say that Southwind were a Buddah Records tax write off entity, so paid very little attention to the label and the roster. Despite the image, band name, and loose association to anything similar in the mid-west during this time frame, Strongbow head down the progressive hard rock path.
Interestingly, Strongbow open up with a synth sequence ticking away in the background on ‘One Armed Bandit’, which converts to a ballsy rocker in the vein of Emperor. The hard tapping piano sits well among the organ work – well done Mr Stelzer. ‘Sister Sea’ takes on a Kansas like personality to start off with, and is pretty much a pomp rockers template as the song progresses through.
‘The Only One Around’ is Strongbow’s longest effort, at over 10 minutes. The wurlitzer intro would have you making comparisons to Supertramp, particularly as the song is running at half pace. The song does wake up toward the end, with a fiery solo to finish off.
‘Move Over Gloom’ is another with Kansas like pretensions, the keyboard work from John Stelzer standing out yet again, though the lyrics are a bit silly. ‘How Can I Be Loving You?’ has a nice West Coast oriented sound, the flute solo through the middle could land this track in the same territory as Firefall.
‘Wine Eyes’ is a short blast at a touch over two minutes, but it’s a powerful burst of prog rock, which demonstrates how effective these guys were over the shorter distances. ‘Hazy May’ seals off the album with a tune that could easily slide onto the set of Californian pomp rockers Bluebeard. The main riff of the song seems to be based around a common loop, but you gotta love the chorus and over-extended guitar solos. Aah, it was the 70’s right?
According to members of the band, the album ended up sounding like a pale imitation, with the mix watered down, and sounding weak when compared to their live performances. The record company had asked for the original tracks to be re-recorded, and that was what ended up on the LP, much to the bands annoyance.
However, original tracks were released many years later in 2001, under the title ‘ConCarne’, for any of you that are interested. During 1975, the band still managed to gig around the country, making it as far west to Los Angeles where they played support to Ruby Starr and Grey Ghost, another Ohio based act.
Due to poor management and poor record company support, Strongbow folded in 1976. Despite their one-off effort, this band were considered to be a musicians band, and their music would find appeal to those into Styx, Kansas and Emperor. Track it down.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)