Raw Tracks


Metal Blade Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If you ask a metalhead to tell you who some of their favorite "unknown" bands are, they're sure to rattle off a list that will make your head spin. For every band out there whose name is well-known, there are dozens of groups who, for some unknown reason, never quite achieved the same level of success.

Now, some people might be offended that I would put the British trio Raven into this category. After all, they did rise up through the ranks with Metallica. They did have an album deal at one point in time with Atlantic Records. Trust me, I mean no offense. I remember the Gallagher brothers well, dressing up for the stage as if they were prepared to tape an episode of "American Gladiators" due to their frenzied stage presence. And while their music never got the same attention as other bands, their overall output was quite good.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

As the band works on their latest studio project, Raven has now unleashed Raw Tracks, a collection of live and studio outtakes that live up to the album's name, on their fans. While I'd normally lambast a release for not having optimal sound quality, there is something unique about listening to tapes that almost had to have the jaws of life called in to save them from eternal loss. It's kind of like sneaking a bootleg into the stack, and experiencing a guilty pleasure in that you're listening to something you shouldn't even have.

Of course, Raw Tracks is not a bootleg. Instead, it's 19 songs in versions that have never been released. Vocalist/bassist John Gallagher clearly warns the fans in the liner notes that due to the condition of some of the source tapes, you're bound to hear some pops, clicks and hisses. (Actually, the worst I could claim to hear was an inferior mix at times during some of the live songs.)

The diehard Raven fan will undoubtedly find themselves drooling over the track selection on Raw Tracks, from renditions of long-time favorites like "Firepower," "All For One" and "Rock Until You Drop" to covers of tracks like Janis Joplin's "Move Over" and Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down". For the uninitiated, grab something that's bolted down and hang on for a wild ride.

I'll freely admit it's been a while since I dug any of my Raven albums out of the Pierce Memorial Archives, and I haven't closely followed the band since their break with Atlantic some time ago. But hearing these tracks made me feel like I was back in the mid-80s, as I got into songs like "Don't Need Your Money," "Gimme A Break" and "Juggernaut". While it definitely helps if you've followed Raven's career from the beginning, this is one of those rare discs where you could literally come into it at any point and enjoy this album.

Granted, the live tracks will never take the place of Live At The Inferno, but Raw Tracks is an interesting collection of Raven's history, as well as a solid portrait of a band who deserved a better commercial fate than the one they were dealt.

2000 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Republic / Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.