Formed in 1966, Stray hadn’t even reached their 20s by the time they released their self-titled debut album in 1970. They never quite lived up to their early billing, however. Despite their direct, melodic rock style, they always felt one hit shy of being one-hit wonders. Despite singer Steve Gadd departing on a separate wavelength in 1975, they doggedly persisted with Pete Dyer on vocals and guitarist Del Bromham doing the songwriting.
The three albums in this collection – Stand Up And Be Counted, Houdini and Hearts Of Fire – are full of unpretentious, unambitious, unabashed hedonistic rock sentiments; As Long As You Feel Good and Gonna Have A Party are typical of their less than agonised lyrical approach. They do turn a riff quite nicely, as on Take It Easy, and are capable of the odd musical adventure, as on Wait Another Day, its trumpet offering a porthole to Miles Davis.
They were luckless, however; having London gangster Charlie Kray as their manager scared bookers away rather than into submission, and come 1976 Stray were among legions of low-level, long-haired hard rockers who punk would do for.