‘Ain’t No Fit Place’ – Single Review December 1982 – Geoff Banks

As this record arrived with no info or photo all I can tell you is that is a run of the mill HM track well played and not a lot else. As more and more bands flood the market one would at least hope for a little diversity. The riff is nearly as old as I am, what songs need is spark and fire not a re run of Black Sabbath’s greatest licks.

Album Review, Kerrang! November 1983 – Xavier Russell.

I actually caught the tail end of a Savage set aeons ago back when they were supporting the fab Mercyful Fate down in the Crypt, better known as the Clarendon. And, after hearing ‘Loose’N’Lethal’, I now regret on that occasion not having caught a few more chords from Nottingham’s finest. This is one mutha of an album – RAW, DIRTY, ANGRY, MENACING and, of course, LOUD.

Ten out of ten for the futuristic cover – yes, I’d wear the t-shirt – but what about the music. Well, it’s obvious that Savage are a young band with a lot to learn but, that said, the potential is definately there. Under the guidance of Darryl Johnston (who just happens to run Ebony Records) these boys could go far : who knows, they may one day develop into a heavier version of Def Leppard.

‘L’N’L’ has been given a very raw production, which in fact enhances this style of savage Metal, though the vocal delivery of Chris Bradley does sound very strained at times. How about a few singing lessons mate? Or get a front man in and stick to playing bass.

But it’s the riffs that are the real stars here – Andy Dawson’s lead breaks are very catchy, if a little predictable at times, and the rivvum work of Wayne Renshaw sits comfortably in the background. If I had to make a comparison it would be with the aforementioned Leps, though I must stress that Savage are a lot heavier.

It surely can’t be long before Savage are signed to a major label.

Live Review, Royal Standard, Walthamstow, Nov. 1983 – Xavier Russell

SO THERE we were, knocking back the real ale down at the Ferry Boat free house, literally a stone’s throw from the Standard – yeah that’s the one with the broken windows – debating whether or not to check out Nottingham’s finest. Savage.

Two hours later, and with a set of ringing ‘King Lear’s’, I’m glad we made the move. The beer was lousy but the loud, clean-cut rock’n’roll Savage churned out more than made up for other let downs. Savage live are much better than Savage on vinyl and, kicking off with a new one which I think was called ‘We Got The Edge’, the boys could do no wrong. This was immediately followed bytwo tracks fro the single – ‘The China Run’ and ‘Ain’t no fit place’ (both on the album as well, by the way), the latter highlighted by some very impressive axe work from Andy Dawson – the lad will go far. ‘Let It Loose’, delivered at Metallica speed, made clear just how good Chris Bradley’s voice is live – his street-style lyrics and bass playing approach kept on reminding me of Phil Lynott, yeah he’s that good. Another newie surfaced next in the form of ‘Stevies Vengeance’ , and a very impressive twin-lead attack came blasting forth – Mick Jones of Foreigner clone, well in looks anyway, Wayne Renshaw could do no wrong with his catchy rivvum. I mean, who needs Def Leppard when you’ve got Savage doing it so much better and heavier as well.

“Let’s be havin’ yer glasses now, ladies and gents,” cried the landlord, indicating that the end was in sight. Savage played two blinders for their well deserved encore; firstly ‘Keep It On Ice’, yet another newie, more class-A metal, why even Igor from Shades was headbanging down the front, hump moving side to side, and then ‘Cry Wolf’, an absolute gem of a song, with very memorable riffs.

I now look forward to Savage’s next London show – be there, you wont be disappointed.

Feature by Xavier Russell, Kerrang! December 1983.

IT HAS to be admitted that, up until recently Savage had been regarded as a bit of a joke by the Kerrang! scribes. Despite this however, I finally decided to give the band the benefit of the doubt and listen to their first album and…my stereo hasn’t been the same since! For, along with the Manowar and Metallica albums, Savage’s “Loose’N’Lethal” is the independent Metal LP of the year.
Savage are yer basic four-peice Metal band hailing from Mansfield, which is apparently somewhere near Sherwood Forest. They first got together in 1978, just when the NWOBHM was busting out all over, and now regret not having cashed in at the same time as the mighty Def Leppard. When I met the band at my local, recently, lead guitarist Andy Dawson recalled the early days:

“Well, a while back we had Polydor interested in signing us, but we missed out on the boom. We were still developing as musicians, learning to play and stuff.” “I remember reading about Def Leppard in Sounds, when Geoff Barton was on the ball with new bands,” added bassist / vocalist Chris Bradley. “They were all the the same age as us and we thought: “What are missing out on here? I mean here’s a band that’s basically just like us. We both started out at the same time, only we were drummerless cos our drummer Mark Brown kept on buggering off to college.”

Mark: “We don’t regret it now, because the band has developed a lot in the past few years. If we had got a deal earlier on, we might have ended up sounding crap.”

What do you think of Def Leppard now – do you reckon they’ve sold out?

Andy: “No, I don’t think they’ve sold out at all. They always wanted to be big in the States. You take Iron Maiden, Saxon or Judas Priest; how often do you see them over here now? About every three years. They’re all over in America, but just ‘cos Leppard were first to do it they got slagged off. It seems to have done them a lot of harm in Britain.”

After hearing your album, especially the cut ‘Cry Wolf’, I would say that Leppard are definitely an influence on your music…..

Chris: “Well I can’t see them doing some of our tracks like ‘The China Run’ or ‘Let It Loose’, but the could manage something like ‘Cry Wolf’! No, seriously, they live quite near us and come from a similar background so, obviously, they’ve similar musical feelings to us and have grown up listening to the same bands – Lizzy, UFO etc.”

Andy: “We had just written ‘Dirty Money’ and ‘Let It loose’ when Leppard put out their ‘On Through The Night’ LP. The funny thing is though, neither song sounds like Leppard.”

Still, Savage needn’t worry about such comparisons. Their debut album, the aforementioned ‘Loose’N’Lethal’ (every home should have one!) has been doing very well, clocking up about 25,000 sales – mightily impressive for an ‘indie’.

Chris: “Well Darryl Johnston (who owns and runs Ebony Records, the band’s label) is very dubious about telling us anything. But we know it’s been selling well , especially abroad in places like Scandanavia and on the West Coast of America.”

Chris is an engineer by trade, while guitarist Wayne Renshaw works in a ‘Metal Box’ factory. Andy, meanwhile, despite having seven O-levels, has to make do working as a store keeper. That leaves ‘intellectual’ Mark Brown who’s still studying at Cardiff University. So are they prepared to give up those day jobs, yet?

Chris: “Yeah, our day jobs do restrict us from going on the road but, at the moment, we’re not in a position to give ’em up and go professional. We could do with Ebony putting a hell of a lot of money behind us, financing a tour and so on. What we really need is a good booking agent and a good support slot with a major band, then we’d all happily give up our day jobs. We all need money to live and I’ve got a wife and kid to support so, until something definite comes along we’re gonna have to be very choosy as to where we play. We don’t even get a chance to rehearse as much as we’d like ‘ cos Mark’s a student at Cardiff and he has trouble gettin’ back for rehearsals.”

Andy: “You read bands in Kerrang! saying “oh yeah man, we rehearse for five hours every night”, we can’t even manage that in a week! But we’re lucky, I guess, in that we find that if we don’t rehearse a lot the band is better live. We supported Diamond Head once and all they gave us was three mikes. We got paid and then they said; ‘you owe us £25 for the use of our PA!!’ Three fucking mikes, you gotta be joking! They were there for two and a half hours just sittin’ onstage soundcheckin. Then it was show time and we had five minutes to get our gear on. Then they wanted to come back and soundcheck again!!!!! But we played a blinder that night.”

How did you come up with the tacky monicker Savage?

Chris: (laughs) “Yeah I was waiting for that one – we’re always having a laugh about it ourselves. I just thought it was a good name for a Heavy Metal band, but people are always expecting us to pull tight faces and look savage. In fact, some people have called us ‘Sewage’ and ‘Rubbish’, the offshoot list is endless. But if you want to hear something really funny, then dig the titles of some of the compilations we’ve had the misfortune to appear on. First there was ‘Scene Of The Crime’, which believe it or not was on Suspect records. And secondly there was ‘Metal Fatigue’ which was on Darryl’s Ebony Label.”

How did you get involved with Ebony?

Chris: “Well we answered an advert in 1981, just when Darryl was starting up Ebony. He was after unknown bands for a compilation album he was putting together. Guess what it was called – ‘Metal Fatigue’! The deal was that each band got two days in the studio and then whoever got the best reviews plus most radio airplay got a record deal.”

Andy: “We then decided to record our own single and, to save hassles, we did it at Darryl’s studio, ‘cos we like the sound he gets there. It ended up going out on his label. It didn’t sell too well but we got a lot of interest from abroad. Then Darryl rang up out of the blue one night and said “I wanna do an album, would you be interested?” I think we were second choice; he originally wanted Mercyful Fate but they didn’t want the hassle of coming over from Denmark to record.”

Chris: “We found Darryl comin’ to us a bit strange ‘cos he’d never seen us live. But it worked out quite well. We recorded the whole album in two weeks and picked the best eight tracks. We were quite pleased with the end result, considering the time we had to do it in, although I’ve heard some of Neat’s bands have recorded their album in three days! It’s funny really, we sent them a demo tape once and they wrote back saying it wasn’t original enough!”

Would you agree the production could have been better?

Andy; “Yeah on the guitar sound mainly, it was too dirty. The trouble was Darryl only had two days to mix the but the next one which we hope to record in June Next year, will be better – we’re going to demand more time in the studio.”

Who’s going to produce it?

Chris; “Darryl will probably do it, though if we could use an outside producer it would be Andy Johns. He did a fantastic job on the Hughes/Thrall LP. The production sound we like is when you can close your eyes and imagine the band is actually in your living room playing. But the sound you normally end up gettin’ is pretty dead and over-produced. Our next album is already half written and we hope to surprise a few people next year!”

Live review Royal Standard, Walthamstow Jan. 1984 – Malcolm Dome
TALENT, WHETHER playing Madison Square Gardens, Hammersmith Odeon or the Royal Standard any band with that extra ‘something’ will always contrive to walk tall. And Savage proved themselves capable of batting in the big league.

I must shamefully admit that when Xavier Russell first started frothing at the beer glass over this lot, I was among those who scoffed. However, like others at Kerrang! I remained to applaud, my scepticism thrown to the wind by the controlled power of first their debut LP and then this gig.

Onstage, Savage weren’t content merely to let the music do the work, they moved and flowed with an effortless exuberance. There was an electricity between the front-line strike force of guitarists Wayne Renshaw and Andy Dawson plus bassist Chris Bradley that fairly crackled with powerful assurance. Renshaw in particular bounced around the stage as if just hatched from an over-active beach ball.

What about the music? As on vinyl it was the violent cutting edge of the Renshaw/Dawson blades that first struck home. Rather like Leppard, Savage have learned how to put a serrated edge on a guitar sound without sacrificing melodic textures – punch-bag rock with a rapier thrust. And the rhythmic canopy of Bradley plus drummer Mark Brown laid a rugged foundation. Instrumentally, these guys erupted where many new British bands are barely able to smoulder.

Song-wise the set was responsibly built on ‘Loose’N’Lethal’ lines with the tearaway ‘Let It Loose’, and the epic ‘Cry Wolf’ and ‘Dirty Money’ (anthemic in every sense) especially noteworthy. However, newies such as ‘We Got The Edge’ (funny I thought he was still with U2) showed the band have an ever-maturing ability to graft primordial riffs onto stongly tuneful torsos.

All Savage really lacked was a svelte image and a slightly arrogant front man. To be brutal all the band (with the possible exception of Dawson) need to lose a bit of weight and acquire a more impressive line in stage gear. The over-the-belt look might go down a storm on the pub circuit but, if the band are to move on (as they’ve got the talent to do) then a visual re-think is vital. As, indeed, is a frontman because when it comes to striking up an audience rapport Savage really came unstuck. There’s an art to raising the temperature of a crowd through well-delivered raps. It’s something the Mansfield mob clearly didn’t have, their inept approach to intros proving to be more squirming than a snakes’ orgy. And a lead vocalist would also take the pressure off Bradley. The guy has a reasonable voice, but it should be saved for harmony parts.

But to end on a positive note, Savage have what it takes to go a long way. The road from pub rock to stadium headliners may be excessively lengthy, but as Iron Maiden have shown, it can be done.

View From the Bar – Kerrang! Sep. 1984
No expense spared for Mansfield’s high-flying rockers SAVAGE, pictured here on the road with their new luxury tour bus complete with fully automated air-conditioning and natty front wheel drive. Apparently , Dave Dickson was onboard for the start of the journey…but the poor wee thing slipped through the wire mesh after the first bumpy mile.

Kerrang Interview Sep. 1985 – Derek Oliver.

ER, EXCUSE me, but are you lot Savage?

Now that does say a lot for my priviledged position as a Kerrang! journalist does it? Right now I wish I was somewhere else because I think I’ve stumbled into an unexpected almost unwelcome, problem which on the face of it doesn’t appear to be that serious, but take it any further and you might just rip open a raw, untreated wound that begs some serious open-minded discussion. Call it anonymity if you care to – facelessness might be a bit nearer the water mark – but what we have on our hands is a situation that I really hadn’t prepared myself or my alter ego (the machine man?) for at all.

Hands up anyone who could honestly identify a menber of Savage? Nope..I can’t either. Strange when you realise that Savage have, since their inception somewhere around the root end of this decade, received so much critical attention for an unknown band in such a short period of time. Like, er, here we are a couple of years on from their debut ‘Loose’N’Lethal mega opus, with the new ‘Hyperactive ball-crusher (Russell chewed and thus approved), a bag full of red hot reviews and a buzz that even the most nocturnal of A&R men couldn’t have failed to have detected, yet the beauty of Savage’s cherub-like faces still remains (blissfully) concealed.

Lost in a particularly black ozone layer, just who are these masked men from Mansfield? Why do they have an aversion to the camera eye. Just why have their live appearances been few and extremely far between? Could there be famous ‘name’ faces behind silly northern dialects? Hummmmmph

Let’s get straight to the point…….

“Er, are you lot really Savage?”

Northern gurgling, affirmative eye twitches and an order for a pint of mild provide the answer. Chirpy wideboy Wayne Renshaw, a man for whom baggy trousers were not invented, decides to add insult to my obvious logistical embarrassment…

“And I suppose you’re Andy Foley….ha, ha, ha!”

Fo(u)ley is, of course Savage’s well-respected manager (career director if you don’t mind – A Foley), a pleasant chap with a rotund contour, but alas too much of a lugworm to be my chaperone at this important face-to-face conflab ‘tween band and (international) journalist. Needles to say while the cat’s away the mice will play – jokes run wild of which none are remotely printable!

WITH WINDY Wandsworth providing the locational backdrop – ‘black man’ Ray Palmer’s stusio to be precise. Savage prepare for the worst…and what a thoroughly doom-laden bag of thoughts I have in my possession.

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty by discussing the Ebony Records deal. Get that one out of the way and then I can start waving my sausage at firmer ground. Ebony, you may remember, were responsble for giving birth to ‘Loose’n’Lethal’, a minor rock classic of these very hard times.

“Do we have to talk about all that?” winges ‘large’ bassist Chris Bradley directing a defiant double chin my way. I’m afraid so lads…

Drummer Mark Brown, the most articulate of the four, relays the story.

“Well after all that’s been said and done, they were the ones who gave us a break and for that we’re thankful. But on reflection I think that Savage were the guinea pigs for that label; we were the first band to have an LP released. The problems came when Darryl (Ebony Manager) wouldn’t grow with our ideas and that was the time we decided to move on to somewhere that would help us establish our individuality. To be fair, it really was a mutual decision even though we instigated legal proceedings to effect it…It wasn’t really a fight as such.”

One thing that stilll leaves a bitter taste according to the lads is the way Ebony kept quiet about RCA Americas interest in the band and the ‘Loose’N’Lethal’ lp in particular.

“Darryl told us after we had been released that RCA might have taken it, but that’s the way things go I suppose.” shrugs Mark.

As we all know Grim Reaper have enjoyed considerable success through Ebony’s link with RCA, If only…But that’s history now and Savage are keen to sweep the past away and concentrate on their exciting future.

Artistically the break has had no long term damaging effects whatsoever, and in point of fact their long lay-off allowed them to demo new material to an incredibly powerful standard. A new deal has recently been pen’n’inked with Zebra Records (who also handle Bernie Torme and Persian Risk), the current result being of course the ‘Hyperactive’ LP. So lads, just how did the Zebra deal come about?

“Well our publishing company is Complete Music continues Chris Bradley, who in actual fact are part of Zebra Records. They see our future on a major label like we do and regard the ‘Hyperactive’ album as a stepping stone. So, it’s in their interest to push us as much as possible. It’s funny, but they really didn’t expect the LP to be as good as it turned out to be! Funnily enough, at the start of the album we were only getting a black and white sleeve but once Martin (Costello, amiable Label Manager) heard the unmixed tapes he said we could have anything we wanted. That’s the kind of reaction that we always used to dream about.”

The secret of Savage’s unmatched aggression undoubtedly lies in the dual guitar attack of Messrs Andy Dawson and Wayne Renshaw – a primal barbaric noise full of inspired harmonics, deep crusty riffs and speedy solos. The full clean bite of the production is another bonus which for a small-time outfit of Savage’s stature is little less than astonishing. So what’s the secret behind the unmistakable and definitely superior guitar sound?

“For a start we produce ourselves” explains Andy Dawson. “A lot of bands are put in a situation where the producers manipulate and create artificial sounds, but we have control over everything. The other reason why our sound is so good is because we always use a good engineer; he’s the man who actually retains the raw sound, there’s no compromise with that aspect. Oh, and of course there’s my guitar, a Marshall and a boss distortion pedal! To be honest it’s turned out better than a lot of albums by big name bands. It probably took one thousandth the cost of ‘Pyromania’ and in my mind it stands up beside that. I guess in a way this could be that one that’ll make us or not…it’s pretty frightening!

That I certainly agree with. If ‘Hypewractive’ doesn’t bring them the degree of recognition they deserve, then frankly there isn’t much hope for British Metal as it stands. As Mr X. so accurately stated in his recent review..”This folks is the album we’ve all been waiting for!”

“We were after a certain kind of sound for this one; kinda like what Max Norman (Ozzy, Savatage, Coneyhatch) gets. It’s a step dpen the line from the first LP, a lot more melody. I guess it’s a bit more commercial which means Europe might not like it so much”

But (there’s always buts when I’m around) a problem exists and so far Savage have neatly avoided its implications. Live-wise the band are a pale imitation of the vinyl blitz and by that I’m not referring to the sound reproduction either (that’s fine by the way). To be blunt, it’s their image, or lack of it, that really sticks out as a bit of a dead loss. With movement close to zero, they appear to be stuck to one spot and Chris Bradley’s voice (I really do like you Chris but…) has about as much stage presence as my 80 year old neighbour. Drastic problems re-affirmed by a recent dose of sparodic live work.

Typically the band reject image as part’n’parcel of formualization. They cite Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. as bands who have appeared from nowhere and exploted ‘looks’ to gain media attention.

“Everyone’s tried to push us into getting our image together” relates Andy. “In fact, ever since Malcolm Dome made the comment about it in Kerrang! everyone’s not let up. We’ve purposely fought against having an image for a long time as we want to be recognised for our music first”

Of course, the argument that image creates interest and the generates musical affirmation is totally blanked. Drummer Mark Brown even goes so far as to confuse the issue ….. “Even an anti-image is an image, right? Honestly, we don’t really know what image we’ve got?”

I think it’s time they sorted that particular problem out. Having rubbed shoulders with the rest of the Kerrang crew at a couple of London shows recently, I’m not the only journalist backing the image crisis. And the need for a frontman has never been more obvious.

Live review Marquee, April 1986 – Xavier Russell

WHATEVER HAPPENED to Savage? Good question and one that needs a serious answer. It really saddens me to see a band with their potential just sink down the ‘khazi’. I blame it on poor management; hell they got enough good press with their last studio outing, the breathtakingly brilliant ‘Hyperactive’ (Malice’s very own Jay Reynolds nicked my copy!). Sadly, the album didn’t sell well, and the lack of live gigs only makes the wound deeper.

Savage, currently without management, seem to have taken notice of Derek Oliver’s criticism of their very bland dress-sense. So what have they done? They’ve popped out to the nearest pet shop, bought four whippets, dressed up like Charlie Williams and started suppin’ Yorkshire’s Websters. No seriously folks, they’ve gone one better than that and splashed out the ‘Lady Godiva’s on World War II army koats – I kid you not!. The next step was to camouflage their Marshalls and the final peice of the puzzle it would seem has been to lose weight to a ‘Jane Fonda Workout’ album – hell, guitarist Wayne Renshaw no longer needs to push his beer-gut about in a wheelbarrow and bassist Chris Bradley no longer sports a double chin.
Funny as it may seem, Savage now appear to attract a Frash-Speed crowd and, despite the small but very faithful turn-out, it was nice to see the ‘bangers really getting off on this new-look Savage. Yeah the heads were pounding to the glorious riffs of the Motley Cru-flavoured ‘Eye For An Eye’, culled from the aforementioned ‘Hyperactive’. Christ, this was a totally different band to the one I saw at the Wellington a few months back: Andy Dawson was tesrin’ into his Flying-V like a man possessed, he really is one of England’s most underrated guitarists. His excursions up and down the fretboard really do have to be heard to be believed, the man beingespecially potent on the only newie of the night, ‘Ground Zero’.

Savage have now managed to inject some humour into their music, evidence of which could be found on the revamped version of ‘Berlin’, now complete with funky intro. ‘Stevie’s Vengeance’ had touches of Metallica in the clever chord changes, only the geetars really did scream ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’! Yeah, these boyzz are red, white and blue through and through. ‘Let It Loose’, meanwhile, kept the Frash kontingent very busy down the front.

Here we are at encore time and I wasn’t at all surprised when I heard Chris Bradley scream, “Since you like it fast, we’re gonna do ‘She Don’t Need You’…” Messrs Dawson and Renshaw were swinging their axes all over the shop – it was LOUD, RUDE, AGGRESSIVE and most important of all, STREET LEVEL. Savage are back and biting and, as usual, you read it here first.

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