Blackfoot – Siogo (1983)

Blackfoot_Siogo3.5 out of 5 Stars!

With this album, Florida’s Blackfoot basically abandoned much of its previous head-bangin’ Southern Rock tendencies as displayed so expertly on the previous year’s Highway Song Live, and concentrated instead on a more commercial-friendly Hard Rock sound, going so far as to recruit the fantastic keyboardist Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) as its fifth member.

Now, despite the slight change in direction, Siogo ended up being my favorite Blackfoot album, mainly due to Hensley’s presence, although I still contend that his talent was generally wasted in this band. Apart from several song introductions, such as the album opener “Send Me an Angel,” much of his keyboard contributions are unfortunately relegated to the background, barely audible. I mean, why recruit a keyboardist with Hensley’s enormous expertise and signature Hammond B-3 sound and not actually give him more of a spotlight? It’s a question that has always bugged the heck out of me.

Nevertheless, with spirited and catchy tracks on offer such as the aforementioned “Send Me an Angel,” as well as “We’re Goin’ Down,” “Drivin’ Fool,” “Teenage Idol,” “White Man’s Land,” “Goin’ in Circles,” a cover of Nazareth’s “Heart’s Grown Cold,” and the excellent “Crossfire,” Siogo is still an enjoyable album overall. And I have to add, whether this comparison is fair or not, that with the band’s new keyboard-enhanced, more-commercialized style, coupled with powerhouse singer Ricky Medlocke sounding like a slightly less gruff version of Graham Bonnet, I felt the music on Siogo (especially on tracks like “Goin’ in Circles”) wasn’t too far afield from Rainbow’s cover of “Since You’ve Been Gone” or several other tunes on the latter’s Down to Earth album. As I said, it may not be a fair juxtaposition, but from the moment I first heard Siogo back in 1983, that musical parallel immediately sprang to mind and I have been unable to dismiss it.

Regardless, Siogo held the promise for better things to come for the band, but unfortunately, the even more commercialized subsequent album, Vertical Smiles, proved a major disappointment for many fans like myself. Therefore, it came as no surprise to learn that Hensley left the group shortly afterward. And the album’s misstep also sadly ended Blackfoot’s momentum, with the group never fully recovering, releasing only sporadic recordings from that point onward, and nothing that would equal past glories. A shame.

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