Well, Jameson Raid is not really a household name of the glorious N.W.O.B.H.M. but with “Seven Days of Splendour” in 1979 (on GBH Records) and “The Hypnotist” (one year later on Blackbird Music) the band of singer Terry Dark released two singles which definitely rate in my Top 20 of the genre! According to Terry, both singles had a circulation of 3,000 copies each. “Seven Days of Splendour” was released in 1979, right at the start of the N.W.O.B.H.M., did Jameson Raid ever feel part of this movement at all? Were they familiar with Iron Maiden, Samson, Saxon or Angel Witch? Terry says: “Good question about the N.W.O.B.H.M. We didn’t feel part of a movement at the time but we were aware that the Punk scene had probably peaked. From 1977 to 79 we had to fight for every gig against a rising tide of Punk bands and a press that insulted us, our music and even our fans. It was a very difficult period and many artists jumped to another music genre to avoid the criticism and to help themselves get a recording contract. We played with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard and a host of other bands so we did feel that we were part of the scene.”
As many of you know, this vinyl release on High Roller Records is not the first album as there has been a bootleg a couple of years back on Phonenix Records. However, Terry stresses the huge differences between the two albums: “The bootleg Phoenix album is very different to this one. We haven’t included ‘Hard Lines’ on this album for the simple reason that EMI Records haven’t given us permission to do so and although we’ve written to them and mailed them, we’ve never had a single reply! The track ‘Running Blind’ from the Phoenix album is not a Jameson Raid track and I don’t know where it comes from or how it got tagged as Jameson Raid. None of the band members had anything to do with it. It obviously won’t be included on the High Roller release. ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ was presented to the band by Steve Makin when he joined and we recorded it as a try out. Many years later I heard that there is a dispute obout who wrote or co-wrote the song. Because of this, and, since I nor none of the original members had any part in writing it, we decided not to use it. The ‘Electric Sun’ version on Phoenix is a different version to the one on the album for High Roller Records. The one for High Roller has a different opening and is of superior quality.”
Terry has just mentioned the song “Hard Lines” from the EMI compilation “Metal For Muthas Vol.2”, a number a lot of people rate very highly. Mister Dark as well: “’Hard Lines’ was indeed a heavy, solid song. The band loved it and we recorded at a BBC studio first. The engineer was inexperienced with heavy rock and made a mess of it and the only recordings left are of very poor quality but, in the band’s opinion, it’s still better than the EMI version. Someone at EMI recognised the potential of the track and decided to remix the version we recorded for them. He managed to take most of the balls out of it so what you are left with is like a Bay City Rollers version of ‘Hard Lines’. I can’t tell you how disappointed we were at the time and this is another reason we didn’t put it on this album. The version we recorded was truly, deeply, mind blowingly heavy. It crunched, rocked and broke your ears up … pity it’s lost. I still like the vocals and text though.”
As the compilation was released by EMI, did the band ever spend a thought about being snapped up by EMI for a proper full-length album? Another good question, finds Terry: “Aaaah! The full length EMI album. You’ve hit a sore spot here. It could, should and would have happened but at precisely that moment John and Ian decided that the band wasn’t going to make it and that they wanted to do other things … can’t blame them for that but the timing was unfortunate.”
“Hard Lines” was recorded under the name of The Raid but shortly after the band returned to Jameson Raid. Why that? Terry Dark: “The name change came about because everyone around us used to say just The Raid. ‘How’s it going with The Raid?’ ‘When is The Raid playing a gig?’ ‘I went to see The Raid last week!’ etc. So we thought: Okay, if no one is using the full name we’ll shorten it … big mistake. We changed the name back almost immediately, so still in 1980. In 1981 Phil and I restarted with Mike Darby and Pete Green on guitar and bass. We were very lucky to find two such talented musicians to replace the two we’d had.”
Before Jameson Raid was founded (in around 1977) the band operated under the name of Notre Dame. Some biographies mention that they recorded some very obscure numbers around this time. Terry Dark explains the details: “The band changed its name to Jameson Raid before I joined, Ian and John had a different drummer at that time and a rhythm guitarist. When Phil joined, the band changed its name to Jameson Raid and then kicked the other guitar player out and asked me to join on vocals. The song ‘Bricks On The Wall’ was written shortly before I joined. ‘Spit In Your Eye’ (how do you know that track, Matt?) and ‘Stop Looking At Me’ were written after I joined, so I wrote the lyrics for them. ‘Spit’ is from around 1978 and ‘Stop …’ from around 1979. There is little Notre Dame material left, some of the tracks are covers, some original songs but the quality is not up to standard. There might be enough for a single.”
Around 1982, after two superb 7″ singles, the days of Jameson Raid were numbered, at least Terry Dark had had enough: “Phil and I quit the band in 1982. By this time Mike Darby had been replaced by Steve Makin (later of Slade and Cozy Powell). Steve and Pete Green found two new guys and went on until around 1983 but that were the last gasps for Jameson Raid.”
Vocalist Terry Dark jammed some songs with Roxxcalibur on stage for example at the “Keep It True” festival but the 2010 “Headbanger’s Open Air” festival will see the whole original line up. That is something else: “Yes, all the original members will be taking part: Ace, Dark, Kimberley and Smith. We are still mates though we don’t see each other often. I live in the Netherlands and Ian Smith in Thailand so that makes it difficult. Even so, we have at least one brand new song to play at the gigs in July which we’ve recorded at home and sent over the internet to each other, it’s called ‘There And Back’. A possible new Jameson Raid album? I honestly don’t know. Anything’s possible, right?” Yes, it is indeed!