Lionheart first formed in 1980 after Dennis Stratton was unceremoniously dumped from the ranks of heavy metal monsters Iron Maiden. His crime? Listening to the wrong sort of rock music whilst on tour and trying to bring some melody into the Maiden’s sound.
Upon landing on his feet he quickly looked around for band mates to form a new group. Lionheart were formed from various musicians who all had their names up in lights followed by the bracketed (ex- Tygers of Pang Tang, ex- Liar etc.) Not perhaps the best of omens, although Steve Mann on guitar and Rocky Newton on bass proved to be useful additions.
At first the line-up changed almost every gig, but finally the band took shape and altered direction from heavy metal copyists to a more melodic rock sound aimed at the American market. They finally got a recording deal and went into the studio to record their debut album, a wonderful collection of strong melodic rock called “Hot Tonight” (1984.)
World tours followed with many major acts of the time, but it just never came together in terms of sales or recognition and despite a small but devoted fan base, the band was kicked into touch in 1986 after six years of not really getting anywhere.
The band members stayed in touch over the years as they pursued other projects, but then out of left field they were offered a chance to reform and relive some former glories at the Rockingham Festival in 2016. The key three players were more than up for the chance and with the addition of Clive Edwards on drums, who had been in past editions of Lionheart, and new singer Lee Small, they played the festival and stormed it. It all felt too good to just let go so more tours were set up and a brand new album recorded (it was like watching a scene from the magnificent rockumentory Still Crazy, only these guys are for real.)
This album under review is the result. “Second Nature” is selling slowly but building a reputation as new markets open up. A tour of the United Kingdom as dual-headliners with Airrace could just be the pivotal flick of the switch.
“Second Nature” we all hope will be second time lucky. Although thirty-three years have passed, it is obviously a follow up to “Hot Tonight” and includes some superb jousting guitar work, sublime multi-vocals and a rock solid rhythm section. The songs are of obvious quality and cover a wide spectrum of their chosen genre.
After the atmospheric opening of “Prelude”, the band slot into the driving beat with four class rockers, all perfectly suited to be played in stadiums and in 2018 one can only hope they will be heard at the major festivals all over the world. There are also some powerful ballads like “Every Boy In Town” and a superb instrumental called “On Our Day” which really allows the guys to stretch out. “Heart Beat Radio” is driving rock played to perfection with great melodies. The whole album is brought to a unique conclusion by “Reprise”, finishing things off in grand style.
Any rock fan with a sense of melody should go and get this treat of an album and put a spring back in your step.
Dennis Stratton – guitar & vocals
Steve Mann – guitar and vocals
Rocky Newton – bass guitar & vocals
Clive Edwards – drums
Lee Small – vocals
Give Me The Light
Don’t Pay the Ferry Man
Angels With Dirty Faces
On Our Way
Every Boy In Town
Time Is Watching
Note: Written By Mott The Dog who can be found relishing this type of music at Jameson’s The Irish Pub, Soi AR in North Pattaya.