STONE THE CROWS & MAGGIE BELL
30th August 2018
Title: Best Of
Label: Angel Air
Scotland-spawned Stone the Crows had everything going from them but luck. They were talented, well known and respected but never received the success they deserved. Maggie Bell was the principle lead vocalist. She didn’t have the range of Janis Joplin but she could certainly belt out a tune. Alex Harvey’s brother, Les was there too along with ex-John Mayall drummer, Colin Allen. Led Zep manager, Peter Grant became the band’s producer.
A double disc CD package, this set is split between group and solo. The first disc cherry picks from Stone The Crows’ first four albums (lots of blues rock highlights are amongst them) and focuses upon the work completed between 1970 and 1973. The second CD is rather more targeted as it looks at Bell herself dipping into her first two solo LPs from 1974 and 1975 (arguably the more focused creations). There’s two exceptions to that neat list and its the live track from 1993, entitled Only Woman Bleed plus the track No Mean City which was used as the theme tune to TV’s drama show, Taggart. Supporting musicians including Jimmy Page, Phil May and Geoff Whitehorn.
In terms of mastering, the audiophile will notice an element of compression around the midrange which can produce a slightly edgy nature around vocals during crescendos, especially. Guitar solos exhibit equivalent issues. Similarly, treble can be a little pinched which means that both cymbals and tambourines, for example, are a tad strident in their output. That said, the compressive effects are not severe and the album remains perfectly listenable with a broad and expansive soundstage pushing the sonics to the far left and right extremities. Bass is honed and punchy, giving the music a fast paced element while there is enough space around the soundstage to prevent any cluttering claustrophobia. That is, despite the profusion of backing singers and musicians, there’s plenty of instrumental separation to provide a relatively open and detailed presentation.
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