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.