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  PAT TRAVERS
'Feelin' Right – The Polydor Years' (4CD)
(Universal)
Release Date: 9th March 2015


Joe Geesin

joe geesin


pat trsvers

Canadian guitarist/vocalist Travers rose to fame in the mid 70s mixing blues and hard rock and has recorded with Pat Thrall, Mars Cowling, Carmine Appice and current Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, amongst others.

His signature hit (and live favourite), a cover of 'Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)', will be known my most, even if you don't know you know it. And this set prove just what a fantastic guitarist Travers is.

Growing up in Toronto, Canada, Travers was inspired to pick up the guitar after seeing Hendrix perform in Ottowa. After playing in a number of local bands, he relocated to London and signed to Polydor. With drummer Roy Dyke and bassist Peter "Mars" Cowling, he released his eponymous debut in 1976 and through the 70s and early 80s a series of successful albums followed, with a number of bassists and later, a second guitarist.

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These followed a gradually more commercial hard rock/Metal direction, building on a strong live reputation. Later work with Glenn Hughes and Carmine Appice and solo work saw a return to the blues.

This set covers Travers' Polydor years, from the debut to the mid 80s, and covers some excellent and essential listening. But here is a problem. And as a fan, collector, completist, it's major.

That problem is the absence of the 1980 album 'Crash And Burn' (featuring Pat Thrall and Tommy Aldridge, and the classic track 'Snortin' Whiskey'). Quite why this highlight is not here is unknown on the promo (whether or not it's on the finished product is ambiguous, no explanation on the press release) is quite baffling.

Kicking off with the aforementioned 1976 debut, 'Stop And Smile' opens in a solid blues rock fashion, a little chunky, and 'Feelin' Right' has a wonderful groove and excellent guitar work that makes for great listening. JJ Cale's 'Magnolia' is a softer, quite gentle track, more atmosphere than anything else. 'Makes No Different' is driving rock, but it's 'Boom Boom' that stands out. The Stan Lewis track is a fab slice of blues n' boogie, and the cover of Chuck Berry's 'Mabelline' ain't half bad either.

1977 saw drummer Nicko McBrain enter the fray for two albums.

'Makin' Magic''s blistering opening title track really rocks, and 'Rock n' Roll Susie' is a bone fide classic. Want a guitar lesson from the heart – check this track out. And then there's the cover of the blues rock classic staple and legendary 'Statesboro Blues'.

'Putting It Straight' (featuring Tony Carey and Scott Gorham) kicks off in blistering fashion with 'Life In London'. 'It Ain't What It Seems' is one of several with a slight Foghat feel (there's a Thin Lizzy touch to others), and Speakeasy sees McBrain add a real drive and groove, the guitar work fantastic.

There's clear understanding between Travers and bassist Cowling, a long term relationship developing. Dedication another fantastic track you can just sit back and close your eyes and enjoy.

For some reason these two albums have been swapped in order here.

1978s 'Heat In The Street' saw a more mainstream move, and featured drummer Tommy Aldridge and second guitarist Pat Thrall. There's some classic solid hard rock here, the opening title track kicking backside and a full sound in 'Go All Night' and the uptempo 'Hammerhead'.

Disc 3 features the classic live 'Go For What You Know'. Originally released in 1979, The Pat Travers Band (as they were known then) were a serious live draw, and opener 'Hooked On Music' shows why.

The mix of Travers' blues and Thrall's Metal edge makes a fine edge. Here the classic 'Boom Boom' goes down a storm. It's quite bright and breezy here, compared to the more earthy studio version, and it sees Travers working the crowd during a singalong segment. The live 'Makin' Magic' rocks too.

Now jump the classic 'Crash And Burn' to 1981s 'Radio Active', back to one guitar and now with drummer Sandy Gennaro and percussionist Michael Shrive. 'New Age Music' opens, and more new age it was, in terms of hitting the airplay; it's a straight hard rock affair without being too commercial. There's still some great grooves and guitar work.

The keyboard effects on 'Untitled' are good, a decent groove, but it's night and day compared to the 1977 period. Sounds like Travers went in the same direction Foghat did in the early 80s, just not THAT new wave. 'Electric Detective' has some interesting grooves, great track, just different.

On to disc 4 and 1982s 'Black Pearl', with 'I La La La Love You' a solid enjoyable opener. 'I'd Rather See You Dead' has some good guitar riff, but it's very 80s sounding. Very. The kind of classic-yet-ordinary direction Thin Lizzy went at the same time.

'The Fifth' (a take on Beethoven's Fifth) is as classic as classical. 'Amgawanna Kick Booty' is a neo classical affair too that stands out head and shoulders above the new wave stuff but it's still not classic Travers.

The last album here, 1984s 'Hot Shot', kicks off with 'I Gotta Fight', showing a return to straight hard rock. 'Killer' and 'Just Try Talking' are solid rockers too, and the title track is a blistering thumper.

Overall a good collection and some great music, and across four discs at an affordable price.

The essential and definitive albums would be the two 1977 albums (alone work getting the set for).

But two albums per disc causes problems, there's no extras, no The Pat Travers 'You Missed' EP, and no 'Crash And Burn' (probably Travers' best known, if not the best, and certainly most successful studio album). That to me makes a complete mockery of any CD Collection covering a set period.

Two 5/5 albums, and good to hear the music across the era, and a wonderful package. Marks off for the missing bits and for the lack of direction on a couple of the 80s albums.


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