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Stray: New Dawn/Alive and Giggin´ | FESTIVALPHOTO

Stray: New Dawn/Alive and Giggin´



Angel Air/Border

English band STRAY released their first album in 1970, and broke big while still youngsters. They kept a hard pace with much touring and eight records in seven years, before breaking up in 1977. Since then there has been a couple of reformations and the latest record, “Valhalla” was released in 2009. They are probably most well-known in Scandinavia for two world tours with IRON MAIDEN, and the latter´s cover of the song “All in Your Mind” (on the “Holy Smoke” 12”/CDS). On offer here are two albums from 1996 and 97 respectively. They were once regarded as the new LED ZEPPELIN; I wonder what they sounded like 26/27 years after their debut.

In the studio in 1997 they saw a “New Dawn”, which opens with an intro an almost marching pace. Then the RUSH-scented title track takes off. The refrain is quite spaced out and there is a lot in the music that displays their roots in the seventies. They called themselves Del Bromham´s STRAY by now, the other members being drummer Phil McKee and bassist Dusty Miller at the time. The ensuing “”No Future” has a distinct “Ready an´ Willing” in the basics, perhaps a tad too much even. Del´s voice has a lot of blues to it, while the musical influences vary. That very voice and the guitar pattern makes “Dangerous Games” quite LIZZY-ish, No one could even guess that STRAY are anything but a British band. So far they stick to their guns, but with openness for influences. They feel at home in a track like “Rock Steady”; British to the core, riff based, contagious pace and featuring Del´s characteristic voice. This will make no anglophile disappointed and the main riff in “Further to Fall” may turn them towards Northen Ireland. The closer “In the Name of God” is a kick in the nuts for rich churches that doesn´t think twice about the poverty outside them. I believe most listeners will find it a very touching song with a message.
Live they were one of three bands at the Robin 2 in Birmingham on August 3rd 1996. They took off without ceremony with “Leave It to Us”. Their intensity on stage puts them in the hard rock division, while the tracks were probably written as rock back in the seventies. The audience is not very audible, but still there in an honest way. They do well for themselves with rockers like “Fire and Glass” and “Take a Life”. They tend to sound like an NWOBHM band in places, while a slower rock track like “After the Storm” make them a nice compromise. But they are not the first to be more intense on stage than in the studio. The apparent fan request “Jericho” is the big mystery for me; I find it a big bore. Luckily it is the only track that I use the fast forward button on. Del Bromham´s STRAY cannot have been a disappointment that night, with a set comprising mostly rockers and the occasional slow moment. The interaction with the audience could have been better, why they miss out on the sing-along refrain of “Mr. Wind” is a mystery e.g. The obvious happens at the end, they wouldn´t leave the stage without a nice rendition of “All in Your Mind”. It is obviously not the track that Del´s most favorable of himself, but there you have it, exposure has its downsides.

All in all I find the live album most interesting; and the studio disc a piece of Brit rock history. The latter is not a must-have barnstormer, although it has some blistering moments. But the live disc is a worthy purchase, and you get the other one for free then!

Track List
CD 1 New Dawn
Dawn Rising
New Dawn
No Future
Dangerous Games
Maybe You Want Me
The Man in My Head
White Knuckle Fever
Further to Fall
Rock Steady
I Want More
In the Name of God

CD2 Alive and Giggin´
Leave It Down to Us
Fire and Glass
After the Storm
Take a Life
I Believe It
Mister Wind
Buying Time
Running Wild
All in Your Mind

Writer: Mikael Johansson
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