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Lucifer's Friend - 'Awakening' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/13/fd/41/lucifers-friend-awakening-66-1445979672.jpg Hot

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This album and their recent appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival suggest they deserved more.

A band I thought would never again be a going concern, Seventies Classic Rock band Lucifer's Friend are probably most famous in the U.K. for supporting Black Sabbath and having former Uriah Heep singer John Lawton in their ranks. Lawton was an original member of the German Rockers when they formed way back in 1968, left to join Heep for the well-received 'Firefly', 'Innocent Victim' and 'Fallen Angel' albums in the late seventies, and rejoined Lucifer's Friend for their last year before splitting up in 1982. Hindsight has put an interesting slant on their career, their 1970 debut in particular being lauded for pioneering Hard Rock, Progressive, Doom and Speed Metal, although the last one is a bit of a stretch. This double disc set features a ten track compilation on the first disc and a newly recorded EP on the second.

Their debut album is well represented with no less than four tracks, of which 'Ride The Sky' and 'In The Time Of Job' both give Heep and Deep Purple a run for their money with their Hammond-led Hard Rock sound, but it's the Doomy undertones of 'Keep Going' and 'Toxic Shadows' that are more interesting, with great vocals from Lawton and Dieter Horns' killer bass lines. Always an eclectic bunch, subsequent records each had their own distinct flavour, the Progressiveness of the next three are largely ignored with just guitarist Peter Hesslein's acoustic-based 'Burning Ships' and 'Dirty Old Town' being the simplest songs from their respective albums.

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By 1976 they'd thrown in their lot with catchier Hard Rock, of which 'Fugitive' and 'Moonshine Rider' (from the 'Mind Exploding' album) are particularly good examples, and ignoring the two records they made with singer Mike Starrs while Lawton was with Heep, they made the underrated 'Mean Machine' when he returned in 1981, showcased here by the commercial 'Fire And Rain' (spot the Jefferson Starship keyboard stabs) and the lively Rocker 'Hey Driver'.

Original drummer Joachim "Addi" Rietenbach is sadly no longer with us and keyboardist Peter Hecht wasn't interested in the reunion, but Lawton, Hesslein and Horns are giving it another shot with four refreshingly old-school tunes. Both the Pompy 'Riding High' and the majestic 'Did You Ever' have tempo changes on the chorus and the wonderful 'Pray' has all the old hallmarks, and whilst 'This Road' attempts and fails to be more modern with some really odd keyboard parts, Lawton's voice is exactly as it was in their heyday and the songs are well recorded.

Lucifer's Friend sadly never achieved the same level of success as many of their peers, but this album and their recent appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival suggest they deserved more.

Phil Ashcroft

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