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Live Montreux July 1981

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Album Review

For Midnight Flyer, 1980 dawned bright. They recorded their superb self-titled debut album and then embarked on a European tour, opening for Bob Seger. Even the departure of keyboardist John Cook after the band left the studio hadn't slowed Midnight Flyer down. Chris Parren, the perfect replacement, was swiftly enlisted and took to the stage. As 1981 began, Flyer flew back to Europe to support AC/DC, and their album arrived in February while the band bounded back and forth across the Channel, now headlining their own shows. In the autumn, they reunited with the down under bad boys, opening for their U.S. tour. However, the highlight of the busy year came in mid-summer, as Flyer climbed onto the Montreux festival stage and ripped through one of the best shows of their all-too-brief career. Live Montreux July 1981 features the bulk of their show that day, as the band rips through its set, then is joined for two numbers by blues legend Taj Mahal and by the Telecaster master Albert Collins for a further pair. The album kicks off with a rampaging "Hey Boy," one of five songs from their studio album the band performed, the highlight arguably being their glorious take on "Rough Trade." Parren is on fire throughout the show, one-upping Ant Glynne at every conceivably turn, with the good-natured guitarist tossing flaming licks and riffs straight back at the keyboardist. The pair's dueling was a show in itself, anchored by Dave Dowle and Tony Stevens' solid rhythms, but Maggie Bell wasn't giving up the spotlight without a fight, demanding and getting the audience's nearly undivided attention with a performance determined to bring down the house — which it did. By the time the band swung into an electrifying take of "Penicillin Blues," a song Bell had been covering since her Stone the Crows days, the crowd was on its feet and shouting along. Taj Mahal joins Bell for showstopping versions of "Bring It on Home to Me" and "Chain Gang," with the album ending with a smoldering "Stormy Monday Blues," the bandmembers almost awestruck by Collins' stunning guitar skills, but quickly regaining their composure. It was a phenomenal show, the sound quality exceptional, and the band at its very, very best. Unforgettable.

Live Montreux July 1981, Maggie Bell & Midnight Flyer
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