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|You'll Never Take Me Alive||Spear of Destiny
(Kirk Brandon & Co)
Destiny sound like no-one and no-one sounds like Spear of Destiny. You know
its Kirk Brandon singing the minute you play the first track, that is, if
youre a child of the mostly unfortunate 80s, and remember the
anthems Who Believes in the Westworld and Youll Never Take Me
Alive. Brandon, in some guise or another has been musicing pretty much
constantly throughout the '80s and '90s. His 23-year-long career spanning
punks seminal Theatre of Hate morphing into Spear of Destiny in the early
80s but since then its been pretty un-chipper all things considered.
After chart success in the mid 80s, UK music press annihilation ensued,
and after years of constant touring, a several year stint in America, and
chronic legal wranglings, Brandon hid down for a while. He finally returned to
the UK and reformed Spear of Destiny (SOD) in the late 90s ...
Spear of Destiny are an under appreciated British institution, whose punk/rock influences have been assimilated by todays musicians but remain unsung by the music press darlings."
Claire Colley, musicOMH.com, 1/03
¼ 1983: Grapes of Wrath
Tracklisting: 1-The Wheel 2-Flying Scotsman 3-Roof of the World 4-Aria 5-Solution 6-The Murder of Love 7-The Preacher 8-Omen of Times 9-The Man Who Tunes The Drums 10-Grapes of Wrath
"Following the stormy existence of Theatre of Hate, singer/guitarist Kirk Brandon and bassist Stan Stammers launched Spear of Destiny. Grapes of Wrath, produced by Nick Launay, unveils a straightforward guitar/bass/drums quartet; Andy Mackay-like saxophone work provides the sole distinguishing tonal component."
-- Ira Robbins, trouserpress.com
1984: One Eyed Jacks
Tracklisting: 1-Rain Maker 2-Young Men 3-Every Thing You Ever Wanted 4-Don't Turn Away 5-Liberator 6-Prisonner of Love 7-Playground of The Rich 8-Forbidden Planet 9-Attica 10-These Days Are Gone
"In a time when the new-wave genre was at its peak, 'One Eyed Jacks' stormed into the scene with its daring style and its unique way of delivery, and established Spear of Destiny as a distinct act and a force to be reckoned with. From its furious opener Rain Maker to its melancholic closure These Days Are Gone, this album does not carry a single dull moment or a blink of a weak performance. One great song after another, Kirk Brandon creates a trademark with his political themes, screaming guitars and soaring vocals. A truly outstanding work that is still considered, almost 20 years later, a unique pillar in the alternative music scene. Its a shame that such a masterpiece is yet to be released on CD!"
Sami Alajaji, for musicfolio.com, 10/03
½ 1985: World Service
Tracklisting: 1.Pocket Ship 2.Up All Night 3.Come back 4.World Service 5.I Can See 6.All My Love 7.Mickey 8.Somewhere in the East 9.One In Her LifeTime 10.Harlan County
"Standing somewhere between punk rock, goth and progressive, Kirk Brandon's ever changing band pulled off another consistent record, which ended up being their most succesful album, peaking at number 11 in the UK charts. Alongside a few forgettable tracks, Spear of Destiny's third album includes a couple of standouts like the title track World Service, and one of the absolute highlights of S.O.D's career, Mickey, where Brandon's almost operatic vocals soar impressively; a song about a man coming to terms with his loss of identity and purpose after serving in the army and losing his sight. Somewhere in the East, with it's middle-eastern intonation, is another winner. ...in 1985, Kirk is still on top of his game."
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 10/03
¾ 1987: Outland
"Outland, which unites Brandon with ex-Ant guitarist Marco Peroni [sic], the Barnacle brothers rhythm section and producer Zeus B. Held, isn't a bad record. The advent of goth-metal groups like the Cult, Sisters of Mercy and the Mission makes marble-mouthed Brandon seem far less offensive in context; perhaps he's also improved a bit. While nowhere near a desert island disc, Outland is a reasonable current example of rough'n'ready semi-political rock by a sincere, if limited, individual."
-- Ira Robbins, trouserpress.com
1988: The Price You Pay
"Brandon soars to the edge on the anthemic opener So In Love With You and then reins himself back slightly, as the pace of the album steadies and we are treated to a journey through good times and bad. Just about everything we ever cared about - love, hate, war, lust, greed, desperation - they are all given the classic Spear treatment. And you believe he means it; every last word. Check out Junkman where we are told that "It's better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven". Objectivity doesn't come into it - when Brandon tells you to jump, you need only ask 'when?' and 'how far?'. 'The Price You Pay' is easily their most fluent and consistent work. It ebbs and flows, but somehow avoids the quirkiness of previous offerings and despite the absence of a standout track like Never Take Me Alive, doesn't suffer one bit. The whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts and even though Radio Radio may sound a little dated, the rest of the album sparkles with timeless gems that invite you back again and again."
-- Colin Patterson, for musicfolio.com, 2/04
1992: Sod's Law
"Sods Law was to be SOD's sixth studio album. After a lack of commitment from SOD's last record company the band decided it was time to return to a state of independence. Sods Law was recorded and mixed by Zeus B. Held who had taken Spear of Destiny to their biggest success in 1987 with the massive hit single Never Take Me Alive. This line up of SOD featured not only Pete Barnacle on drums but also John Lennard who had been the TOH saxophonist."
¾ 1998: Religion
"Spear of Destiny's eighth album and second U.S. release, Religion, finds singer/guitarist Kirk Brandon, guitarist John McNutt and drummer Art Smith back in fighting form. Brandon's personal and professional struggles have shaped his songwriting style, as Prison Planet and Mile in My Shoes attest. The Celtic elements in the band's sound and in Brandon's voice are highlighted, particularly on tracks like Iona and Magic Eye. An anthemic collection from a group of rock survivors."
-- Heather Phares, All Music Guide
¼ 1998: The Best of Spear of Destiny
1998 Recall release featuring 20 of the British goth group's finest recordings since the '80s. On 2CDs,in double slimline jewel case.
A compilation put together by Recall records, who do not have the ownership of the original recording's masters. Although the collection is an excellent selection of Spear's best work covering 1983 to 1998, several songs are live recordings, demo versions, or remastered versions.
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2003: Morning Star
Tracklisting: 1. Lucky Man 2. May Day 3. Half Life 4. This Wonderful Life 5. Better Man 6. White Rose 7. She 8. Belongings 9. Mermaid 10. Warleigh Road
"The first track, Lucky Man is class Spear, the opening guitar pick reminiscent of U2, only remember, Spear were there first. Brandons voice has lost nothing of the power of his youth-youth, almost operatic in its delivery, and the following Mayday is a bass heavy cacophony, minor chords pushing an apocalyptic ominance. Then Half Life roars in, a heavily riff driven rock heaven, easily the strongest heavy track on the album. This Wonderful Life and Better Man arent as enticing; they seem just too formulaic in comparison with the rest of the album, trying to locate a hook but just not quite managing. Move on though, because this is definitely an album born of black vinyl, of two halves, separate in theme and music landscaping from anger and politics to love and loss. It moves in this different direction after the mournful White Rose, and speaks slightly of the anti-folk influences you can hear seeing Brandon live acoustically, especially the beautiful Joy Division-like simplicity of The Mermaid and the subdued Warleigh Road, 'snowflakes in Copenhagen, rain, rain' couldnt have been voiced more emotively and the guitar solo at the end is quite special. "
-- Claire Colley, musicOMH.com, 1/03
½ 2005: Loadestone
Tracklisting: 1.Age Of Unreason 2.In transit 3.Philadelphia 4.Transmission 5.Pskotik 6.The Devils Game 7.Cogs 8.Resurrection 9.Last Man Standing 10.Parade For The living 11.Red Dust Rocketeers 12.Palestine 13.Requiem For The Presidents 14.Invaders
"Loadestone is Spear of Destiny's tenth studio album and the first release on Kirk Brandon's own Eastersnow record label. This time Brandon went to the Fanbase via his website and asked the fans for pledges for the recording of the new album, in exchange of a special release version (different mixes) for the pledgeholders only, an open night at the studio for the first playback ever of 'Loadestone' with Brandon and the band, fans personal dedications of their choice on the sleevenotes, plus a framed signed version of the album for their walls.
There are no filler songs on this 14 track album. Every song unique, some cut like shards of beautiful glass as in Cogs, others poignant and emotive as in Palestine. There is also an homage to one of Brandons favourite bands, Joy Division, with a dedication of the song Transmission."
"Of course it is not 1980's Spear, a different style, a different century. Check out Age of Unreason. It's not Westworld. 'No-one has ever seen the Devil, they have only ever seen where he has been'. The world has changed and so have Spear of Destiny. On the first couple of plays it is very apparent that the first five tracks are amazing - loud, powerful, inspiring music at it's best. In Transit and Philadelphia are my personal favourites, but the cover of Transmission works surprisingly well also. I understand that this was recorded as a tribute to Joy Division, and a very fitting tribute it is. Some of the remaining tracks on the album are perhaps not so immediate. But do listen. They show Kirk Brandon's song writing at it's best. Listen to the guitar on Devil's Game, to the eerie lyrics of Cogs. Listen to Last Man Standing, 'No-one can read what ain't written anymore', and listen to the haunting and moving Palestine."
-- Claire Hames, for musicfolio.com, 1/06
¾ 2007: Imperial Prototype
Tracklisting: 1.Santa Clause 2.Berlin Berlin 3.Lock & Key 4.'79 5.Donkey Ride 6.Death in the Mountains 7.Bizarre Personality 8.Wake of a Ship 9.Thoughts of an Imperial Prototype 10.Tupelo Prince 11.Treachery
The legendary Kirk Brandon returns with the 11th Spear of Destiny studio album titled 'Imperial Protoype'. The special 2CD edition can be ordered from Kirk's official website starting Nov 5, 2007. The album includes 11 brand new SoD tracks, from the all-star line-up which features Robin Goodridge (Bush) on drums, Craig Adams (The Sisters of Mercy/The Mission) on bass, Adrian Portas (New Model Army) on guitars, and Steve Alan Jones (The Alarm) on keyboards, and of course Kirk Brandon on vocals.
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