"Mistaken Identities" (SJPCD015)
Steve Hyams 'Mistaken Identities'was recorded back in 1974, seeing a somewhat limited release. It has been a long sough-after item since then. Hyam's reputation was earned in the early 70s, when he found himself on the fringes of wider recognition thanks to his playing with the likes of Mott The Hoople.
Unlike many acts from that decade, Hyams eschewed bombastic hard-rock, instead creating a gritty r 'n' b much more akin to UK pub rock, reminiscent at times of Elvis Costello and Graham parker while also finding room for a rocksteady influence. The result - a direct and solidly entertaining album which managed to precede the New Wave by some two years.
Steve Caseman ,Rock 'N' Reel
About bloody time! Steve Hyams' LP Mistaken Identities finally gets a well-deserved release. Recorded in 1975, but unfortunately never released, the original tracks recorded for the LP are included on this new CD together with a number of songs Steve later recorded for Arista. Full marks to Angel Air for putting this CD out. The packaging is excellent: the booklet contains nice photographs of Steve together with Mott The Hoople and Bruce Irvine plus some very good sleeve notes.
While the majority of rock music in 1975 was either overproduced (Queen, 10CC etc) or overblown (Yes, Genesis et al) the first thing you notice about Mistaken Identities is the sparseness of the sound. Recorded virtually live in the studio with just two guitars, bass and drums, the music owes much to the stripped down approach later adopted by the new wave and it's marriage of rock and reggae predates bands like the Police and the Clash by two or three years.
All the original Mistaken Identities tracks are very strong rhtyhmically, driven along by Steve's "True guitar" playing and the wonderfully playful rhythm section of Nic Potter on bass and Bryson Graham on drums. Rock, Blues, Funk and Reggae. It's all here....
"Lost In Me" is one of my favourite songs on the LP. Again a sort of Reggae/ Funk hybrid, it has a great chorus and some wonderful guitar unterplay between Steve and Bruce...
Apart from the original Mistaken Identities LP this new CD also contains a number of tracks Steve recorded later for Arista in 1977 and 1979. The tracks have a more produced feel and Steve uses a number of different musicians including Bob Weston (later of Fleetwood Mac) on lead guitar as well as bassist Norman Watt Roy and drummer Charlie Charles who went on to find fame with Ian Dury's Blockheads. Oh yeah and there's some bloke called Morgan Fisher on piano for three tracks...
"I Fall Over I Fall Down" was originally written for Marianne Faithful and was earmarked for inclusion on her Broken English LP at one point. Probably my favourite track, it's a countryish ballad, which, had it been released as a single, would surely have made the charts. Even today with so much interest being shown in country and folk music, I could still see this getting a lot of airplay on certain radio stations...
The CD finishes on a high note with Bringing Me Back, a song which, if things had worked out differently, would not have looked out of place on a Mott The Hoople LP.
It's criminal that these tracks have been in the can for so long. I'm so happy for Steve that they are now available at long last and I'm so happy for you that you're going to get the chance to hear them for the first time!
Keith Smith, The Outsider
...first time...available on CD...it is one of those elusive gems full of juicy lead guitar, rhythm guitar and subtle vocals that the 70's gave as such a sound base to follow. The album has excellent sleeve notes to bring the uneducated up to the moment and boasting that Hyams was the one who introduced Mott The Hoople to David Bowie, something that proved essential to their success. I feel lovers of bands like 10CC, America, Crosby Stills & Nash and even Quo would enjoy the sound of Steve Hyams. Hey, he's even got Madeleine Bell on backing vocals.
Martin Hudson, Classic Rock Society
Mott provide a very good reference point to Hyams sound on this CD which is good , uncomplicated melodic soft rock the end product is a collection of enjoyable and typically 70's Rock.
Steve Ward, Wondrous Stories (Feb 2002)
Bracing the interplay between the musicians is top-drawer
Rich Wilson Record Collector (April 2002)
"Feather And A Tomahawk" (SJPCD039)
Steve Hyams lead singer of later version at Mott The Hoople. . .and 'Feather And A Tomahawk' is very much along the lines of the Mick Ralphs and Verden Allen solo efforts. . . competent 70 ' '80' s AOR recorded in a 90 's setting. .other than those mentioned, Steve also sounds a bit like John Lennon and Gordon Haskell.
Highlights are 'Treat Yourself Right', 'One For The Bride', 'Lyin'In The Dark', & 'Do It Again' . Helped out by Carlton T West, Jennifer Banks, Ray Majors, Mac Macaffrey, Mickey Winn, Perry White, Will Parnell, Mark Crosbie-Smith & Paul Foss this is peaceful late night listening. . .and given time could easily grow on you ( more ) .
If the criteria you use for judging music is the quality of the songwriting and the standard of the musicianship and vocal performances, then you cannot fail to be impressed by this new release...Steve has produced a collection of first rate songs, which run through the whole gamut of popular music from rock to blues and country through to soul, funk and reggae...
Feather And A Tomahawk is the sort of album that somehow sneaks up on you and before you know it has become one of your best friends...
Keith Smith, Two Miles From Heaven (May 1999)
Hyams laid back vocals and perfect delivery ensures that the album is effective and really does work ...and he has surrounded himself with a very talented team of musicians. A deceptively good release.
Terry Craven, Wondrous Stories (May 1999)
...a great album from one of the most underrated giants on the modern British rock scene.
Jo-Anne Greene,Goldmine(June 1999)
...The feel could be described as Lindsey Buckingham era Fleetwood Mac meets Bruce Springsteen. Great songs and heartfelt singing over basic four-count rock and roll...
Music America (July 1999)
All the cuts on this driving laidback album are worth a listen but especially the poignant title track, the classic rocker Bethlehem Steel, Never Judge A Man and One For The Bride, which sounds like Paul McCartney at his best...
Don Craine, Beat Goes On (June 1999)
...probably one of the best albums released this year...The album is a real mixture of sounds, ranging from country to straight rock and boogie via Dire Straits and Pink Floyd..."
Kingston Comet, (August 1999)
...peaceful late night listening...and given time could easily grow on you (more)
Zabadak, USA (August 1999)
...repeated spins reveal a genuine quality
Dave Ling, Classic Rock (July 1999)
...it is a great fillip to find his release (a) so damn good and (b) on Angel Air, perhaps our fave label at the present...The whole CD is wonderful...
Modern Dance, (January 2000)
Mostly 3 or 4 minute tracks in length throughout making a few of the songs suitable for radio a good quality album that should appeal to a lot of people.
Alistair Flynn, Classic Rock Society (September 2002)
A pleasant combination of modern rock and pop with touches of country and blues, it remains tight and enjoyable throughout
Joe Geesin, Record Collector (October 2002)