After forming in Liverpool, England, and slogging around the country playing every bar, barn and toilet as Nutz from 1973-1979, band members David Lloyd (vocals and rhythm guitar), Mick Devonport (lead guitar and vocals), Keith Mulholland (bass guitar and vocals), John Mylett (drums), and Kenny Newton (keyboards), who had been brought into to fatten out the sound for the album Hard Nutz in 1976 and stayed on as a full member, had had enough.
Their record company A&M were giving them no promotion money for their latest album, a fantastic live album called Nutz-Live Cutz, a collection of their greatest hits off their first three albums plus a nearly ten minute rave up on the song Wallbanger, and had sent them out on the road with label mates Budgie who were also at a low ebb at the time.
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In fact, it’s difficult to know which of these bands had a higher profile. They had toured Britain with great success as support to Black Sabbath; had stormed down at the Reading Festival in 1978; but here they were and progress seemed impossible. The band split up. Mick Devonport went off to America to try his luck there whilst Kenny Newton went off to join Nightwing. The rest of the band took up gigs in Liverpool awaiting another opportunity.
But as luck would have it, Neal Kay, a hugely popular and influential Hard Rock DJ running a club called the Band Wagon, as well as having his fingers in a number of Rock pies, realized that while Punk Rock was not exactly dying, there was certainly a booming interest in the return of more complex and harder rocking music. He decided to put together an album called Metal For Mutha’s, a compilation album of all the up and coming Heavy Metal bands from that era (1979) including Iron Maiden, Samson, Angelwich, Praying Mantis, Toad the Wet Sproget! etc.
Having been a long term fan, he felt that the perfect addition to this album would be a track from Nutz. Even though by this time they were considered a bit old school, which was a bit harsh as they were all still in their twenties. He managed to get them back in the studio for one last track. Mick Devonport had one lying on his guitar strings called Bootliggers, which was bashed out in the studio and tacked onto the end of the album. Then Nutz broke up.
Things did not quite work out the way that Mick Devonport had thought they would in America with more broken promises. Missing Liverpool and his old mates, he returned. Upon his arrival, he was surprised to find he had a track on an album that was at number twelve in the British Album Charts. As the saying goes, “Let’s get the Band back together again” springs to mind.
Keith Mulholland, David Lloyd, and John Mylett were all keen to give it another go, although at the time, Kenny Newton preferred to stay where he was in Nightwing. The French record company Carrere were ready to buy them out of what was left of their recording contract with A&M Records as well. Here at Carrere Records, they found another great supporter in Peter Hinton, the new A&R man at Carrere who gave the band every encouragement to get back in the studio and do what they do best.
Recording studios were booked and the boys with renewed enthusiasm went back into the studio to lay down some new tracks. It was immediately decided to give the band a new moniker, thereby giving themselves a bit of distance from the name Nutz. Rage was thought to be of the time and so it proved.
The debut by Rage was easy for the band to record as they had been playing some of these songs in their old band, and Mick Devonport had an absolute stock pile of new rockers to add to the collection. They also decided to do the old C. P. M. Couchois song, Roll The Dice, to release as a single. The first single was an edited version of the album’s title track Out Of Control, which probably did not sell as well as had been hoped, although it dented the bottom half of the British Top Forty and got the band some much needed air play. The album was recorded in double quick time to be released to the awaiting public, and what a scorcher it was too. Getting a 5 K Rating from the Rock Magazine of the Early Eighties Kerrang.
Opening with the sound of wind blowing through an empty studio of musical equipment literally lulling the audience into a false sense of security, as at exactly one minute the whole band come crashing in, smashing their way through your speakers like an uncontrolled hurricane. Gone were the more watchful days of Nutz – this was a band called Rage and they were off the leash.
David Lloyd was giving it all he had with his huge rocker voice, putting the emphasis on every word, while some of his emotional pleas and screams were brought up from the very core of his boots. Listen to the emphasis he puts on the first chorus of Out of Control for a good example.
Keith Mulholland worked up and down his bass notes as if his very life depended upon under pinning every note.
The man at the back sitting behind his big double bass drum kit, John Mylett, was making doubly sure there was no false dawns in this era of the band. No wonder he was the envy of all the other bands around at the time. (John Mylett was asked to audition for Iron Maiden and AC/DC, but turned them down in favor of staying with his mates. Loyalty – you cannot put a price on it.)
Mick Devonport had changed, no longer the brilliant but slightly retiring lead guitarist of the former band. He had now developed into one of the fieriest guitarists around. Just listen to the album’s first track, the ear shattering solo at two minutes and fifty seven seconds is as good as you will hear from any guitar player up to that point or since.
The album does not let up for one second after that. It has a groove that goes through it that drags you from one song to the next. It’s not really Hard Rock or Pop music. It’s Rock/Pop, a forerunner to many of the bands that came in the Eighties like Def Leppard, Foreigner, etc. It’s Rage Rock.
Every song was something that people could connect to, no matter what their age.
Releasing Roll The Dice as the next single was the number that cracked it for them and really put them in the big time. A great rolling rock song that can be danced to by anybody no matter what sort of music they had preferred before. This single put them global with the album following the single up the charts worldwide.
David Lloyd’s contribution on the song writing side is Money, a variation on the Berry Gordy & Janie Bradfield Motown song which the Beatles had recorded on their second album With the Beatles. (Funny isn’t it that two four-piece bands from Liverpool should record varying versions of the same song?)
The basic melody of the song has been rocked up although the lyrics have been changed with hilarious results. The song starts with David Lloyd claiming he only was in a band because he enjoyed it, he was not after fame and fortune. All that changes as Mr. Lloyd proclaims from the shores of Rio de Janeiro that he is quite happy with all the money. Of course when he wrote this he could not have known what super stars his band were going to become.
This is followed by a couple more of the groove rockers before Rage break out Mick Devonport’s masterpiece Thank That Woman, and when you consider what a magnificent album this is, it shows what a great song this is that it still stands out amongst this collection as one of its most spectacular diamonds. The song starts off as a real head shaker with lyrics of worship towards the female sex. David Lloyd knows it’s an important song and really puts his soul into it. Then at three minutes twelve seconds in, the band break into a refrain that in live concerts all over the world bring the crowd to their feet as they stomp along to at first the guitar lick and then to the great chorus of “Rock and Rock Is All I Need, Nothing Else Can Reach Me,” sending the audience into musical ecstasy. Like many other songs, this is still a constant in every Rage set to this very day.
With the Deluxe Re-Issue of this album you get two tracks added on; Lady Double Dealer, which was really written as a piece to hold John Mylett’s solo, and you also get in its original form the number that changed it all for Rage, Bootliggers.
Before the band went out on the road to support the album, Terry Steers was brought in on second guitar and vocals. Terry was a useful guy to have on stage as he was not adverse to a bit of rabble rousing the audience along the way. Meanwhile, Kenny Newton came back from Nightwing to fill in the keyboard duties.
After a world tour of stadiums, Rage were forced back into the studio to record another album due to over whelming demand from their public. They did not disappoint with the Rocking Nice ‘n’ Dirty, causing a little bit of controversy with its album cover, but if anything this only increased album sales. One of the standout tracks was the David Lloyd written, Wild Cat Woman.
Another world tour followed by another album, Run for the Night, where song writing credits were spread out a little more evenly without diluting the quality.
Rage now take it a little easier. But the band lineup has stayed the same and their popularity never wavers.
I last saw them in 2012 when they did a Summer Stadium tour of Europe which included two dates in Liverpool, as both Goodison Park and Anfield had to be played as Mick Devonport is still a passionate Red whilst Keith Mulholland is definitely Blue.
The concert was magnificent with a great sound, atmosphere and a wonderful crowd. It was a greatest hits tour so all the songs you knew were there and the crowd sung themselves hoarse.
At Everton, Keith Mulholland took a bass solo whilst at Anfield, Mick Devonport had a field day. Keith Mulholland played as if he still played every night and enjoyed it now as much as he did then. Terry Steers was an admirable foil for Mick Devonport and got to do some solos. Kenny Newton (still with his Cliff Richards looks) played on the right hand side of the stage behind a massive battery of keyboards, whilst the biggest cheer of the night went out as John Mylett’s drum kit rose into the air for a ten minute battering that was both dramatic and fascinating. The crowd went crazy at its climax.
David Lloyd looked to be having the time of his life and sung as if it was all those years ago on the first Rage album. Mick Devonport’s guitar solos brought out thousands of air guitars and the band could have played all night if time had allowed. Shows that Liverpool will talk about for years from both sides of the divide.
David Lloyd- Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Mick Devonport- Lead Guitar and Vocals
Keith Mulholland – Bass Guitar and Vocals
John Mylett – Drums
Kenny Newton – Keyboards
Terry Steers- Guitar and Vocals
Silver and Gold (from Nice‘n’Dirty)
Long Way from Home (from Nice’n’Dirty)
Loser (from Nutz Live Cutz)
Mick’s Guitar Solo including the Magic Roundabout theme
Pushed Around (from Nutz Live Cutz)
One More Cup Of Coffee (from Hard Nutz)
American radio stations (from Nice’n’Dirty)
Woman (from Nice’n’Dirty)
What Have I Done Wrong (from Out Of Control)
She’s On fire (from out Of Control)
You Better Watch Out (from Nutz Live Cutz)
John Mylett’s Drum Solo
Roll The Dice (from Out Of Control)
Run For The Night (from Run For The Night)
Fallen idol (from Out Of Control)
Money (from Out Of Control)
I Didn’t Wanna Leave (from out Of Control)
The Love That You Lost (from Futz Too)
Sinner (from Nutz Too)
Out Of Control (from Out Of Control)
Wild Cat Woman (from Nice’n’Dirty)
Can Be Loved (from Nutz Live Cutz)
Wallbanger (from Nutz Live Cutz)
Knife Edge (from Nutz Live Cutz)
Written in a Dream By Mott The Dog.