NWOBHM legends White Spirit make a bid for the longest-ever gap between albums with their second album release Right Or Wrong.
The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, the movement inspired by the ethos of punk that swept through the UK in the late seventies, can still be full of surprises even now. Behind the well-known success stories of Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard there was so much more going on.
White Spirit – Right Or Wrong (Conquest Music)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Ian Sutherland
White Spirit were a Hartlepool-based combo that got their name out there with local gigging, press coverage, a single on Neat Records and a showcase track on the Metal For Muthas 2 compilation album which all led to a deal with MCA Records.
Listening to their self-titled debut now it has that slightly under-produced charm that typifies Heavy Metal releases from that era but also showcases a band that deserved their reputation of being more accomplished musically than most of their peers.
It’s surprising that this is a lesser-known release from those days as it features current Iron Maiden man Janick Gers on guitar and vocals from Brian Howe who would go on to front Bad Company for many years.
The strong debut album and a national tour supporting Gillan (who later ‘poached’ Gers to replace Bernie Torme) showed enough interest for MCA to commission recording a follow-up, but for various reasons, it never saw the light of day.
In May 2020 Howe, unfortunately, passed away and this led to latter-day guitarist Mick Tucker and keyboard player Mal Pearson reminiscing about the second album that never was. Lo and behold an incomplete tape of the recordings was found in storage and the idea of releasing it as a tribute to Howe gathered pace.
Forty-two years late then, we have the sophomore release from White Spirit, featuring not only the 1982 band line up, but added work from the likes of singers Jeff Scott Soho and FM’s Steve Overland and classic Whitesnake’s bass player Neil Murray to help deal with tracks left incomplete in the original recordings.
The result is an album which shows that the band were moving in a more keyboard-friendly direction. The style and sound here will be recognisable to many into the modern Frontiers led hard rock/AOR scene but still with an old-school Metal edge.
The title track opener and closing song Rock And Roll are old-school rock anthems, riff-based and energetic but retaining a melodic edge.
Sandwiched in between is a rich tapestry of songs, from the keyboard-led riff of Runaway, to the tasteful guitar and vocal harmonies which pepper Don’t Say No and the faux needle on vinyl sounds which lead to the steady, insistent gait of Got To Get Out.
Steve Overland does a fine job on the cover of Bad Company’s Holy Water, surely added as a further tribute to Howe. The important thing here is not the excellent work done by the guests though. It’s that this album exists at all.
Right Or Wrong is a worthy follow-up to what came long before, a sign of what might have been and a little bittersweet for that. Thoroughly enjoyable though and kudos to everyone involved for adding one more bit of glory to the still-growing annals of NWOBHM history.
How long do we have to wait until the next White Spirit Album?
White Spirit – Right Or Wrong
- Right Or Wrong
- The Dice Rolls On
- Lady Of The Night
- Gotta’ Get Out
- Better Watch Out
- Don’t Say No
- Wait A Little Longer
- Holy Water
- Rock ‘N’ Roll
Mal Pearson – Keyboards
Mick Tucker – Guitars
Russell Gilbrook – Drums
Neil Murray – Bass
Brian Howe – Vocals (Tracks 2,4,5,8,10)
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocals (Tracks 1,6)
Lee Small – Vocals (Tracks 3,7)
Steve Overland – Vocals (Track 9)
Pontus Norgren, Cliff Evans – Additional Guitars
Ian Gillson – Additional Backing Vocals
Johan Norgren – Percussion