What if someone told you there was a hard rock band that started in the UK in the late 60’s, a band that was on par with some of the great bands of the era like Cream, Black Sabbath and The Jimi Hendrix Experience? A band with the impossibly wonderful name of Iron Claw? A band whose guitarist could hold his own with Clapton and Page? A band whose music sounds fresh, even today? You would probably reply that it couldn’t possibly be true…must be some kind of crazy Spinal Tap parody.
Well, all of the above is amazingly true. Four decades after they formed, Iron Claw has finally released a proper album–and one’s reaction upon listening to it for the first time is “Where have these guys been all these years!?” Fans of not just the early days of hard rock, but also the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal will instantly connect with A Different Game.
Iron Claw’s guitarist Jimmy Ronnie recently chatted with Screamer about the band and the music.
While unknown in America, they did have a large following in the early 1970’s in their homeland of Scotland, and in Northern England. “We played everywhere and anywhere we could, from small clubs and pubs to the university circuit and major large concert halls. And yes, we did occasionally open for some of the well known bands of that time. Bands such as The Kinks, and the Spencer Davis Group.”
Today, any musician with a computer can easily both record and distribute their music, but back then, things were far different. “In those days (pre-internet of course) there was no real mechanism for artists to get recorded music to a wide audience. You needed a record company behind you, and that is something we didn’t manage to get. Ultimately, that is why the band failed to find commercial success, and what brought about our demise.”
After Iron Claw broke up, the members went their seperate ways, each pursuing the dream of a career in music. Ronnie formed a cover band and played around Scotland, while still writing original material. “I was actively writing songs and recording them with a view to securing the elusive record contract. I got pretty close I think. With the backing of radio stations I managed to grab the attention of the major record companies, but in the end it all came to nothing.”
Then, in 2009, independent label Rockadrome Records released a collection of songs the band had recorded many years earlier. The reaction was so positive that Ronnie and his bandmates (bassist Alex Wilson, drummer Ian McDougall and new vocalist Gordon Brown) decided to get together and work on new material. At the same time, thousands of miles away in Southern California, a new independent label, Ripple Music, was being formed. As Ronnie puts it, laughing, “Forty years of chasing a record contract and one comes along when I’m not even looking! Typical! Ripple are the perfect label for Iron Claw. They are true fans and give us complete artistic freedom to do what we want musically.”
As for how the album sounds? Ronnie is very pleased with the reviews, both from the music press, and fans. “The reaction to the album has been astounding. I think everyone appreciates a positive review, but we couldn’t have hoped for a better reaction from the music press. It’s not quite 100% ‘5 star reviews,’ but it’s not far off it! The reaction from our original and our new fans has been the real heart warmer though. Generally, it is obvious that there is a growing number of rock music listeners who appreciate an album that is far from being over produced. Our intention was always to try and capture the ‘live’ energy and feel of Iron Claw in a studio album. I think we have managed to achieve that, and the result is an album that rests on the musicianship of the band members and the strength of the material. That’s the message we’re getting back from people.”
With a “truth-is-stranger-than-fiction” story such as Iron Claw’s, words can only take one so far. The real delight will be when one hears the album for the first time. An incredible forty years in the making…but most definitely, well worth that wait.
Check them out at http://www.facebook.com/pages/IRON-CLAW/119537021414445