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Samson - Joint Forces: 1986 -1993 album review

A mixed bag from the NWOBHM pioneers

Cover art for Samson - Joint Forces: 1986-1993 album

When guitarist Paul Samson died on August 9, 2002, he left a complicated back catalogue. This two-CD set brings together three albums from a particularly muddled period (following three albums with Bruce Dickinson and two featuring Nicky Moore) of solo work and stylistic switches.

The first, and best, is 1986’s Joint Forces (610), here as remixed by Paul in 1993. Initially intended as a solo album, it was released under the Samson banner because it once again featured the stunning blues tones of Moore and, despite its conception, sounded like a continuation of Samson’s most commercially successful era.

The personnel had changed, though, with a new rhythm section including ex-Gillan bassist John McCoy. There are backing vocals by Rock Goddess, whose Jody Turner also shares lead vocals on the excellent Tramp, and the album fairly rocks along before the big ballad finale (featuring Colin Towns on piano) called Reach Out To Love.

Two years later, though, a completely new, would-be radio-friendly band featuring Mick White on vocals cut 1988 (410). Awkwardly, the album straddles these two discs and The Silver Screen and Good To See You aside, its keyboard-laced sound hasn’t dated well, trying too hard to impress a slicker, MTV-dominated world.

On Nineteen Ninety-Three (510) Paul reverted to a three-piece (with Chris Aylmer on bass), singing lead vocals himself. The songs are far from innovative but at least represent a fine guitarist following his heart – and his love of Hendrix, Mountain and ZZ Top – and sounding all the stronger for it.

Freelance contributor to Classic Rock and several of its offshoots since 2006. In the 1980s he began a 15-year spell working for Kerrang! intially as a cub reviewer and later as Geoff Barton’s deputy and then pouring precious metal into test tubes as editor of its Special Projects division. Has spent quality time with Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore – and also spent time in a maximum security prison alongside Love/Hate. Loves Rush. Aerosmith and beer. Will work for food.