BACK STREET CRAWLER 2nd STREET
This is simply one of the great underrated rock albums of the 1970's and the last album to feature Paul Kossoff on guitar. He actually died before the album was released due to a heroin addiction. It almost seems as if Koss knew this was to be his last effort and his playing is of an unusually melancholic and lilting quality on tracks like, "Blue Soul", "Some Kind Of Happy" and particularly the end portion of "Leaves In The Wind."
Blending beautifully with Koss' guitar is the keyboard work of John 'Rabbit" Bundrick. He has a haunting and equally reflective style that embraces aspects of melancholy and longing. His unique style brought a similar layer of sophistication to Free's final album "Heartbreaker." In more recent years he has been the regular touring keyboard player with The Who.
Of equal importance is the powerful, soulful and curiously unaffected vocals of Terry Wilson Slesser. His voice is just perfect for these well crafted songs which vary between the funky "Stop Doing What Your Doing", the acoustic driven "Raging River" and the pleading "Some Kind Of Happy." The latter song also features some nice blending of his voice with some impassioned female back-up singers. His voice never falls into any overwrought bellowing or bluster and always provides what the song needs without drawing special attention to embellishments. A perfect example of this is on the song "Just For You" which many other singers of the era would have delivered in an overdone bluesy growl. Here Slesser sings like a man truly pining for a woman he has recently lost. No bravado just a wish unfulfilled.
Two real highlights are the last two songs, "On Your Life" and "Leaves In The Wind." "On Your Life" is a perfect example of this band working as one with no showboating. The keyboards blend perfectly with the vocals, and the drumming of Tony Braunagel are tight but never intrusive. It's a a sad remembrance captured in song. "Leaves In The Wind" starts out as a nice funky groove with some tasty bass from Terry Wilson (like this band in general, an underrated bass player) before moving into its reflective second half where, appropriately, Paul Kossoff shows off his lilting guitar playing in all its glory. When Slesser sings "If you can't imagine, what is the use...Leaves in the wind" with Kossoff's sad guitar weeping along it's true magic and a perfectly fitting end to a very brief life, of not only Paul Kossoff, but a band with great promise. Of course, the band would carry on under the shortened moniker Crawler, with a new guitarist, but the rare magic captured here was never quite matched again. The only negative about this album is that it is too short! Pick up the 2004 CD release of this on the Wounded Bird Records label!
Dedicated to "Koss"
1976 was an epic year of hard rock recordings, which included the Atco Records release of Back Street Crawler's 2nd Street. Unfortunately, the year also witnessed the passing of two young, yet legendary guitarists.
The 2nd Street LP proved to be the swan-song studio recording from Hampstead born Paul Francis Kossoff. The former Free guitarist, who battled drug addiction and depression, passed away during a flight from Los Angeles to New York, on March 19, 1976. The cause of death was diagnosed as a drug-related heart problem. Like gifted guitarist Tommy Bolin, who died later in '76, as a result of rock 'n' roll excesses, Kossoff was merely 25 years of age. Paul Kossoff and Tommy Bolin left the world with a wealth of epic recordings during their short tenure, but there was so much more left in the tank.
Released shortly after Kossoff's tragic death, the nine-song 2nd Street is highlighted by the emotive blues-based fretboard work of the son of actor David Kossoff. Each heartfelt solo reverberates with passion, as Koss fronted the overlooked English group.
In addition to Kossoff's deft six string performance, vocalist Terry Wilson Slesser delivers a riveting performance with his soulful pipes. Keyboardist Mike Montogomery, who had a hand in penning eigth of the ten songs from B.S.C.'s 1975 LP, The Band Plays On, was replaced by John "Rabbitt" Bundrick. 2nd Avenue is guided by album opener "Selfish Lover", plus "Stop Doing What You're Doing", the acoustic strains of "Raging River", the six-minute "Just For You", and "On Your Life".
RIP P.K. KNOCK IT BACK!