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Neil Merryweather - Kryptonite (1975)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by joe, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. joe

    joe Senior Member

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    [​IMG]

    Neil Merryweather And The Space Rangers - Kryptonite

    1975 - Mercury(US)(UK) LP
    1998 - Green Tree(Germany) CD
    2004 - Phantom(US) CD: bonus tracks

    - Neil Merryweather / vocals, bass
    - Michael "Jeep" Willis / guitars
    - James Herndon / Chamberlain, synthesizer, guitar, slide guitar
    - Tim McGovern / drums, guitars

    1. Kryptonite
    2. Star Rider
    3. Always be With You
    4. Give It Everything We Got
    5. The Groove
    6. Real Life Love
    7. You Know Where I'd Rather Be
    8. Let Us Be The Dawn

    Canadian journeyman bassist/vocalist/songwriter/producer Neil Merryweather has had somewhat of a long and rough road. Born in Toronto as Robert Neilson Lillie, performed under the name Bobbie Neilson and played with some of the local artists including The Mynah Birds, The Tripp and Bruce Cockburn's Flying Circus in which he left the band in 1968 to form his own group with fellow members of The Tripp. The band left Toronto for Los Angeles and signed to Capitol Records. Neilson changed his name to Neil Merryweather just before the release of the band's debut, simply titled, 'Merryweather', a heavy blues-rock style with tinges of psychedelia pop. Guest appearences from Steve Miller, Dave Mason from Traffic and blues legend Charlie Musselwhite though album did recieve some notice but sold poorly. "Word Of Mouth" was released the following year, 1969, though critically acclaimed it also sold not very good...so then Merryweather decided to head back home to Toronto.

    Back in T.O., Neil put together a new band and released two similar albums in vein to his first two with his new girlfriend, Lynn Carey, reminescent vocals to that of Janis Joplin, but again the albums didn't garner much attention. Merryweather and Carey continued to record under the name of Mama Lyon with an array of musicians and released two albums, somewhat more hard rockin' than Merryweather's previous releases, but the real show here is the two albums covers gracing the stunning Lynn Carey. Yeah Baby! She was the Penthouse Pet Of The Month for December, 1972. Check it out sometime. "Neil, you lucky dog."

    In 1972, Merryweather took the musicians from Mama Lyon with the exception of Carey and went back to L.A. and entered the studio and laid down two albums, 'Heavy Cruiser' and 'Lucky Dog' under the name of Heavy Cruiser. Heavy rock 'n' roll more than heavy rock. Pretty good stuff.

    Still remaining in L.A., Merryweather then signed to Mercury Records and put out an add in the local musician's magazine looking for new personnel for his new band and recruited a drummer, a keyboardist who also had a Chamberlain, the grandaddy of the Mellotron plus a synthesizer, and two guitarists and thus the Space Rangers exploded out with thier 1974 release, 'Space Rangers'. Hard rock with an edge of glam with passages of a space/psych ambience and somewhat in the style of that mid '70's AOR hard rock. The album reached #5 on the Billboard charts and the song, "Hollywood Boulevard" recieved heavy FM airplay.

    Basically without any help from Mercury and after touring with T.Rex, Kiss and E.L.O., line up changes followed. Timo Laine left and later became known as one of the forefathers of the synthesizer guitar and was replaced by James Herndon, who also had a Chamberlain and kept guitarist, Michael "Jeep" Willis, an obvious right decision as he is the shooting star and is phenomanol on the 1975 release, 'Krptonite' as Merryweather produced the album and supported the band financially. 'Kryptonite' wieghs alot heavier than it's predecessor and radiates the galatic glam of Alice Cooper, the sub-sonic sizzle of Sweet, the dimensional sound warp of Hawkwind and the bouldering boom of Sabbath. This album is just as heavy as any release from 1975.

    The first two tracks are the signature space metal songs off the album, "Krptonite" and "Star Rider" are stunning and probably the best tracks off the album. "Jeep" and his interstellar guitar is out of the world. A comparison can be made to Michael Schenker of UFO as the "Jeep" jacks out the riffs, sprays out light speed solos with the bottom end boom of Merryweather's bass, gruff vocals and his production tying in the space synth sounds without going out of the universe.

    "Always Be With You", somewhat of a ballad with well done vocal harmonies yet retaining the mass of being heavy. I guess one could label it as AOR hard rock, typical trait of the time.

    "Give It Everything We Got" opens up with a funky groove laden beat with the synth and Chamberlain being well incorporated and adds a spacey vibe and then the "Jeep" lights it up with an interlude of searing solos and ravaging riffs for the next three minutes. No doubt, smoldering Schenker-esque. the finally goes into a crash landing with guitar and synth nose first.

    The next track trys to emulate Mott The Hoople, the "Hollywood" era of Alice Cooper and the AOR of latter day Sweet. "Groove" is just gagging. By far the worst track on the album.

    "Real Life Love" suggests a teenage girl song, something that Sweet would of laid down for a single. Not bad, but it is the next number, "You Know Where I'd Rather Be" where the Space Rangers shoot out the lights, similar of Sweet in thier peak period, heavy and metallic with the catch of fuzzy hook laden riffs. Simply put, it puts Slade and most other glammers of the day to shame.

    The Space Rangers return to the stars with, "Let Us Be The Dawn". A heavy psych/space/glam voyage with the Chamberlain providing the dark depths of space with the lazer licks of gunner "Jeep". Again, Captain Merryweather keeps all the instruments in synch with his direction in the control room. Mission accomplished.

    After returning from a tour and back in L.A. the band ran out of money, again no support from Mercury, the Space Rangers disbanded with Merryweather doing some production work for various artists including Randy California from Spirit. A few years later Merryweather took off to London with Michael Willis and did a few recordings and then his record label at that time, Chrysalis formed a new subsidary label, Dureco in Amsterdam and he jumped over there and recorded his solo album, 'Differences' in 1978 and then put together an AOR band called Eyes in 1980 releasing one album with guitarist Michael "Jeep" Willis.

    Once again, Merryweather returned to L.A. and hooked up with ex-Runaway, Lita Ford and became her manager, played bass and produced her 1983 album, "Out For Blood". The sexy singer swindled Merryweather and after that incident he had enough of the music business and called it quits and is still is in L.A., planning a comeback and putting together a version of the Space Rangers together with guitarist Michael Willis.

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    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  2. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Re: Kryptonite - Neil Merryweather And the Space Rangers

    That was a fantastic trip Joe...:clap:

    I knew absolutely nothing about all of Merryweather's bands, and will definitely try to get hold of a copy of Kryptonite, no doubt it's hard to find these days.

    I give you a 9.5/10 on that review, using your own scale of course.:D
     
  3. LOU/REALM

    LOU/REALM Senior Member

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    Re: Kryptonite - Neil Merryweather And the Space Rangers

    I really enjoyed listening to these tracks.Im not at all familiar with this band but I like their style and the trippy guitar lines.Good vocalist too !Looks a good album in your collection Joe :cheers2
     
  4. DaKillerWolf

    DaKillerWolf Cosmic Time Warp Warrior

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    Re: Kryptonite - Neil Merryweather And the Space Rangers

    I featured these guys ( and this album) in my Proto etc ..thread so if you guys are unaware of them you are missing out on alot of other great bands to be found within those pages . Nice write up ,Joe.
     
  5. joe

    joe Senior Member

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    Re: Kryptonite - Neil Merryweather And the Space Rangers

    Thanx for the review of my review LG. BTW, I'm agonizing slow on the keys. Just brutal.:mad

    Thought it might be to your liking LOU with the hard glam edge to it.

    I know 20 some years ago it was hard to find both of the Space Rangers' albums, even here in Canada though Merryweather's other band, Heavy Cruiser, both LPs were relatively eay to find in the used vinyl shops.

    Oh yeah, here's the two album covers from Mama Lyon:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    :heybaby:
     
  6. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Re: Kryptonite - Neil Merryweather And the Space Rangers

    ^^I think I've seen her before...and knowing she did a Penthouse spread that could explain it...:heybaby:
     
  7. marwood

    marwood Junior Member

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    Space Rangers and Kryptonite are both fabulous albums. Highly recommended to lovers of the Mellotron/Chamberlin!
     

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