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Stone The Crows: Stone The Crows/Ode To John Law

Everything but the songs.

Named by Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant after he saw them live, Stone The Crows’ credentials were formidable: two raw, impassioned blues singers (Maggie Bell and bassist Jim Dewar), one fiery guitarist (Les Harvey), one jazz-rocking keyboard player (John McGinnis) and one experienced drummer (Colin Allen).

The only missing ingredients were a songwriting talent and a producer who could harness their incendiary live show.

Their two best songs, The Touch Of Your Loving Hand and Raining In Your Heart, open their 1970 debut and the band’s energy sweeps all before it. Bell’s bold, soulful version of The Beatles’ Fool On The Hill rides the wave but it all falls apart on the 17-minute I Saw America that fails to link the various strands into a cohesive piece.

Dewar’s voice is scarcely audible on Ode To John Law released later the same year, which is curious. And aside from the infectious Love the songwriting is lacklustre.

When Bell comes out as Glasgow’s answer to Janis Joplin it’s on Curtis Mayfield’s Danger Zone. But the fact that the bonus radio session versions of their two aforementioned best songs sound so similar to the album cuts indicate the scale of the production problem.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.