Rough Diamond – Rough Diamond (1977)

RoughDiamond_14 out of 5 Stars!

Rough Diamond was a group that formed shortly after legendary vocalist Dave Byron got handed his walking papers from Uriah Heep. But sadly, the band, also including the accomplished Clem Clempson (Humble Pie/Colosseum) and Geoff Britton (Wings/East of Eden), released only one album before disappearing.

Certainly, seeing as the group was fairly straightforward in its overall Hard Rock/AOR style and not Heavy Metal/Heavy Prog, the somewhat-diverse and moody nine-track collection didn’t bring to mind any Heep “magic,” as many people expected, and it ended up selling rather poorly (or rather, was generally ignored by both Uriah Heep fans and the conservative and lame record company executives).

Regardless, this debut album is still an enjoyable release. Dave Byron’s performance is both up to par with his work with Uriah Heep and instantly identifiable, and the album features numerous tunes that showcased the band’s overall creativity and had true potential to become singles/classics, especially the rockers “Lock & Key,” “By the Horn,” and “Lookin’ For You,” the wonderfully melodic and dreamy “Seasong,” the mid-tempo and bluesy “Scared,” the more intricately arranged “The Link/End of the Line,” and the ultra-tasty “Hobo” with its memorable main riff.

Horribly obscure!

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The Byron Band – On The Rocks (1981)

ByronBand_OnRocks3.5 out of 5 Stars!

David (Garrick) Byron, the man, the legend, the vocalist from the classic line-up of Uriah Heep, and sadly, the tragic soul.

After Heep’s disappointing High and Mighty album appeared in 1976, Dave Byron, plagued by personal demons, got dismissed from the group he helped to create, the band that made him famous, and suddenly found himself floundering after a decade without a “musical home.” Almost immediately, however, he formed a promising band called Rough Diamond, but after the group’s sole album went nowhere sales-wise, he once again attempted to find his footing.

Eventually, he hooked up with gifted guitarist Robin George, and along with several other musicians including sax player Mel Collins (King Crimson/Camel), they released a single album in 1981 as The Byron Band called On The Rocks. On this debut, Byron devotees will certainly recognize his signature timbre and vibrato, although the music (as was the case with Rough Diamond) was nothing close to the style of Uriah Heep. Instead, the music on offer here is more like Byron’s 1978 solo effort Baby Faced Killer, which he released after the demise of Rough Diamond, which included a mixture of Hard Rock and AOR material.

Although this new band again proved promising, Byron’s alcoholism had started to take its toll and On The Rocks would prove to be his final release prior to his tragic death in 1985. Thankfully, with his string of classic albums with Uriah Heep, his two solo releases, and those with both Rough Diamond and The Byron Band, he left behind hours upon hours of enjoyable music for fans to savor for decades to come, including Lost and Found, an album of unreleased tracks from The Byron Band that finally saw the light of day in 2004.

So to David (Garrick) Byron, Mr. Wonderworld himself, a powerhouse talent taken way before his time…RIP.

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