(4 / 5)
Your first ever gig opening for Thin Lizzy is a damn good start for any band, eh? That’s how Witchfynde started out, eventually a hot hard rock act at the same time as the likes of Iron Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang and Diamond Head as part of the burgeoning New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene of the late 70s and early 80s.
But this band actually started back in 1973, when drummer Gra Scoresby met guitarist Montalo, who was playing in a band called Atiofel. Formed in Derbyshire, they were eventually joined by vocalist Steve Bridges and bassist Andro Coulton, playing their first official gig supporting Lizzy at Derby College. Mixing progressive and hard rock, with the heavy metal sound, they were soon in big demand.
Following the likes of Def Leppard and Iron Maiden, Witchfynde’s 1979 debut was to have been a self-financed release in the form of the ‘Give ‘Em Hell’ single, although it was eventually issued on the independent Rondelet Records. The full-length debut LP “Give ‘Em Hell” was issued in May 1980, followed by some impressive support slots with Saxon, Motorhead, Girl and Girlschool. They toured the UK with Def Leppard in the summer of 1980.
Their second album “Stagefright” was released the same year, again for Rondelet Records. It was at this time that Andro Coulton was replaced by Pete Surgey. BBC Radio 1’s Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance was very important at promoting hard rock and heavy metal, new and old, and a session recorded for the show would certainly help gain a band nationwide exposure.
By the time of their third LP, “Cloak And Dagger”, Steve Bridges had left to be replaced by Luther Beltz. The band had left Rondelet Records by this time, and signed to Expulsion Records, but poor promotion, plus their label folding, meant that “Cloak And Dagger” didn’t receive the full exposure it justly deserved. Although they would eventually split in 1984, after their fourth album, Witchfynde were resurrected in 1999 and continue to tour today, with the line-up of Gra Scoresby, Montalo, Pete Surgey and Luther Beltz.
This superb box set offers up all 33 tracks – all three of their albums, plus some great bonus tracks. Each of the three albums is presented in a “mini-sleeve” of the original LP, and is housed in a “clamshell” box. The expanded booklet features an expanded essay by NWOBHM and Witchfynde expert, John Tucker. “Give ‘Em Hell” has been expanded here with the bonus tracks ‘The Devil’s Gallop’, ‘Tetelestai’ plus the B-Side, ‘Wake Up Screaming’.
“Stagefright” has now been expanded to include the four tracks recorded exclusively for the BBC Radio 1 Friday Rock show: ‘Give ‘Em Hell’, ‘Getting Heavy’, ‘Belfast’ and ‘Moon Magic’. They were recorded on 21st January 1981 and transmitted on the 12th February 1981.
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’