Derek Lind – Mixed Blessings

Derek Lind
Mixed Blessings
1986 Someone Up There Promotions
Auckland, New Zealand

Derek Lind – Vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, acoustic bass guitar
Pale Sauni – Bass, acoustic guitar, tuba
Bruce Bremner – Piano, synthesizer
Kevin Adair – Drums, percussion
Brian Coldham – Saxophone
Red McKelvie – Pedal steel
Brendan Power – Blues harp
Jeff Tribe – Trumpet

Side 1:

  1. Wasteland
  2. Stick to the Surface
  3. Thankyou Lord (You’ll Be the First to Know)
  4. New Zealand Day
  5. Without You
  6. A Man Like Me

Side 2:

  1. Hit The Road
  2. Nobody Knows (But You)
  3. You are My Song
  4. One Righteous Man
  5. Rusty Nail
  6. For a Friend

This is an early tape by Derek Lind – maybe even his first. He is still going to this day. His website says he started in the 1970s and has seven releases. So there might be one before this one. Most people in the States are probably familiar with his releases on Storyville / R.E.X. music in the early 90s. This tape seems to find him in similar territory – folk rock with some country elements as well as some blues rock as well. Generally people call this singer/songwriter music, but upbeat songs like “Hit the Road” are pretty much rock. You hear the influence of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and other similar artists on his music. As far as I can tell, this tape was followed by 1988’s Slippery Ground.

Split Level – Break the Chains

Split Level
Break the Chains
1986 Big Feet Records
Northern Ireland

Adrian Thompson – Vocals, guitars
Derek Curie – Bass guitar, vocals
Shane Jackson – Keyboards
Barrie Kennedy – Drums, percussion, vocals

Side 1:

  1. Stand Firm
  2. Easter Rising
  3. Risen Lord
  4. Touch
  5. Messenger of Love
  6. Future Kingdom

Side 2:

  1. Fear of Falling
  2. Wishing
  3. Tonight
  4. Forgiveness
  5. Shout the Victory
  6. Break the Chains

If you are wondering if this is the same band that released glo.bal on Organic Records in 1997 – yes, it is. They were around for that long before being released in the U.S. In fact, glo.bal was actually their 7th album. This one is their first, and it is more new wave than the guitar alt rock that they later produced. After this tape, they released Sons of Liberty in 1987. I know that Thompson was with the group until the end, but I don’t know about the others. I do know that Curie joined Tribe of Dan for an album after this, and then went to form a band called Seven that changed names to Fono and also made a splash in States a couple of years after Split Level did.

Smithworks – Covered in Blood

Covered in Blood
1986 (no label)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Bryan D. Smith – Lead vocals, background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, guitar synth
Christopher Stricker – Lead vocals, background vocals
Vince King – Bass
James Ogle – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Follow You
  2. Duke and Mary
  3. Pray
  4. To Touch the Scars in Your Hand

Side 2:

  1. Watchman
  2. Saturation
  3. So Much More

If ever there was a content for “Most Metal Cover Ever,” this one would be a contender. You almost expect a Manowar clone with that cover. Not quite. This is metal, but more traditional heavy metal and hard rock mixed. The vocals are a bit deeper, kind of closer to Lion, than high pitched or raspy (which was in style at the time). Lots of layers of shredding guitar as well. They also throw in some blues rock/metal tracks like “Duke and Mary” as well. Overall, a good tape, but probably a bit more hard rock and ballad-y than some would expect based on the front cover alone.

The Fish John West Reject – Canned

The Fish John West Reject
1986 (no label)
Tasmania, Australia

Mark Narkowicz – Vocals, acoustic guitar
Mark Adams – Vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin, harmonica
Andrew Viney – Occasional yells, acoustic bass
Tim Gleeson – Vocals, drum, percussion

Side 1:

  1. Rush (trad.)
  2. Not Mutate
  3. Dreams Are Had
  4. Run Come See (trad.)
  5. Dustbowl Refugee
  6. Rivers Rise
  7. Resting In Your Love

Side 2:

  1. Tamar River
  2. Oppression
  3. Up The Coast
  4. Never Be Friends
  5. Sand ‘n’ Dust ‘n’ Bones
  6. The Balm (trad.)
  7. Muleskinner Blues (trad.)

Wasn’t sure what this was by the band name or title, and there a lot of songs. A comedy troupe? An avant-garde noise band? Turns out it is a folk-ish quirky rock band, kind of like if Hokus Pick was more acoustic and from Australia, with a good dose of traditional folk songs thrown in. In fact, six of the songs are traditional songs or covers of Woody Guthrie and Iva Twydell. Sometimes you think it is a throwback to Gospel/traditional music, other times they might be opening for the Dead Milkmen. You also hear harmonica, mandolin, and other folk-y instruments. The band calls themselves “acoustic pop thrashabilly” and that works. Seems they went on to releases several albums and singles after this one.

Tempest – Annihilation of the Wicked

Annihilation of the Wicked
1986 (no label)
North Olmsted, Ohio, USA

Warren Harris – Bass, lead vocals
Kevin Michael Feldt – Guitar
Timothy Andrew Burris – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Upon the Wings of the Godhead
  2. Call to Evil
  3. Dreadlock Ire (Wrath of God)
  4. Curse God… and Die

Side 2:

  1. Crucifix
  2. Heaven’s Gate
  3. Sacred Eternal

This is one of the two infamous Tempests that formed a weird chapter of Christian metal history. It seems that Pure Metal wanted to sign this Tempest from Ohio, but they sent their offer to the Tempest from Indiana led by Mick and Jamie Rowe (who later went on to sing for Guardian). No one seemed to notice that it was the wrong band until it was too late. So this tape is a tale of what could have been. Many labels have wanted to re-issue this demo through the years, but it seems the band is not having it. Too bad. This is one killer slab of thrash metal. The first song starts off with some nice bass guitar work underneath a skit that compares Satan to a jack in the box. And then just starts thrashing away. This is the thrash that you heard on Headbanger’s Ball, but didn’t exactly follow the Big 4 – some speed metal, some Overkill, some Metal Church power metal, etc. And lots of bass soloing – all three songs on side 2 are bass solos (no other instruments). Of course, the constant focus on hell gives it a Grim Reaper feeling, but just from the other side. The songs can be found pretty easily online if you look around.

Blue Trapeze – Mask and Marqee

Blue Trapeze
Mask and Marqee
1986 Fullspeak Records
Fullerton, California, USA

Dan Koenig – Guitar, vocals
Roger Arendse – Bass, backing vocals
Lisa Klive-Koenig – Drums, vocals, keyboards

James D. Murray – Bass clarinet

  1. Mask and Marqee
  2. Afraid of Real
  3. A Reason
  4. See Them Turn
  5. The Old Home
  6. Midnight Sun

Blue Trapeze was kind of a fixture and/or central band in the Christian alternative rock/modern rock underground. They released at least 4 albums that are still spoken of in high regard by those in the know today. This album is probably the band’s most well-known (well, either this one or 1990’s The World Won’t Fit My Skull). Before this was 1985’s Sanctuary and 1984’s Who Were You Then? I have all of their releases – the first three on vinyl even – as well as a 2001 compilation called Stillborn Dreams with a bunch of unreleased songs that I can find no explanation about online. Anyways, it was good to hear the tape version as my vinyl version is a bit scratchy. The sound here is a good mixture of all the big mid-80s alternative crowd, but in a way that sound unique to them.

Modern Innocence – Demo

Modern Innocence
1986 (no label)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Side 1:

  1. Son City
  2. Alive Alive

Side 2:

  1. Deep End
  2. Knock’n

Another mystery tape with no information. This one didn’t even bother to label which one was side 1 or 2. It seems like “Son City” seems like more of an opening song, so I went with that one. But I could be wrong. The sound is mainly alternative rock, but a bit more hard rock at times than the band name would imply. The opening track is kind of that soft-spoken vocal alt rock you heard a lot in the 80s, but “Alive Alive”  has song grinding guitars that are somewhere between punk and hard rock. Maybe even a bit of a surf vibe? “Deep End” and “Knock’n” continue with the grinding guitar, so I guess the opening track was the outlier. If I am not mistaken, I think I detect a noticeable Mark Krischak influence on these tracks.

Missing Information: Who played on this? Which side is Side 1?

Solid Air Way – Past Bedtime

Solid Air
Way Past Bedtime
1986 Plankton Records
London, England, United Kingdom

Rue Randall – Guitars, vocals
Iain Trundle – Guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Jeff Reynolds – Bass guitar, backing vocals
Gaz Weatherall – Drums, backing vocals

Paul Northridge – Additional guitar
Gill & Helena – Additional backing vocals

Side 1:

  1. Anti-Anti
  2. Now That I’ve Found Your Love
  3. Restless Love

Side 2:

  1. Living in a Real World
  2. Stranger to Myself
  3. All of My Dreams

There seems to be this whole world of underground British alternative in the 1980s that has only been partially unearthed. Some have been released digitally, but others are hard to find – like Solid Air. Their sound on this demo is kind of pop alternative rock with some new wave and techno influences here and there. To some, it is all just 80s rock. But they did a good job of it. They have at least five releases, with this one sitting between 1984’s It Ain’t Gonna Happen and 1990’s Pride and Pain. I am not sure how this one stacks up to those, or if this was their regular style or not. But I like it.

A.W.O.L. – At the Will Of the Lord

At the Will Of the Lord
1986 Jirah Records
Merritt Island, Florida, USA

Paul Peters, Jr. – Lead vocals, lead guitar
Amy Howald – Lead vocals, harmonizing vocals, synthesizer
Erich Mahnke – Lead guitar
C. J. Martin – Bass guitar
Syboy James – Percussion
Stephen Ty Keller – Percussion

Side 1:

  1. Tanya
  2. Got the Spirit
  3. We’re Gonna Win
  4. Road to Zion
  5. Risque

Side 2:

  1. Jesus
  2. Save Me
  3. Blowin’ the Amps
  4. El Shaddai

The front cover of this looks kind of metal, but the sound is pretty light rock overall. It’s basically an early 80s sound from a band that was in the mid-80s. The weird thing is that there is a release from this band in 1992 that is… funk metal. Well, there is an ep and a longer version, and I have only heard the ep version. But they do a cover of 24/7 Spyz version of Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” – because that is the style they are going for in the 90s. It is almost like someone told them they were too dated at some point in the 80s, and they came back with an updated sound and a few new members. Also, the 1992 release seems to be mostly political commentary, while this tape is very Christian. It’s just a really weird transition to see, because this tape barely touches on any kind of hard rock here and there (songs like “Risque” and “Blowin’ the Amps” do rock out).

Pete Ward – Distance Grows

Pete Ward
Distance Grows
1986 Plankton Records
London, England, United Kingdom

Pete Ward – Guitar, vocals
Roman J.J. Solze – Bass
Simon Law – Guitars
Mags Law – Keyboards
Ali Byworth – Drums

Side 1:

  1. Shameful Secret
  2. My Time is Yours

Side 2:

  1. (Can’t Bear) This Pain
  2. Distance Grows

An older, short tape from across the big pond. Pete Ward plays alternative rock that is a bit on the quirky and pop side. This is pretty typical of British alt rock – but he does it very well. Simon and Mags Law of Sea Stone / Intransit / Fresh Claim fame play on this tape, along with Ali Byworth of Tribe of Dan fame. You can find this on Spotify and many other streaming/download purchase websites, so it is not particularly rare to find these songs. I would highly recommend seeking it out if you haven’t heard this tape yet. This is at least Ward’s fifth release, after other albums like Unusual Shade and Between the Eyes. Not to mention a split 7-inch with Intransit.