VICTOR GRIFFIN (Late For An Early Grave) LP/CD
After some four years in the making, this one's finally out! "Late For An Early Grave" is a compilation LP consisting of demos, Victor Griffin recorded between the years 1988 and 1994, featuring a wide range from unreleased Heavy Rock stompers to unheard renditions of old classics, that turned up on official releases later on, as well as miscellaneous cover versions. Should anyone reading this, be still not familiar with this man's name and priceless contributions to the music world with DEATH ROW (turning into) PENTAGRAM and (!) the mighty PLACE OF SKULLS, he should be severely spanked with a wet plimsoll, for missing out on one of heavy music's true visionaires! In fact I dare to say, that Victor Griffin's "mere" demos are surely superior to a lot of proper albums getting released nowadays. Alright, now coming to the facts then.
Opening this gem is the title track itself, featuring a certain Mr. Weinrich on backing vocals during the killer chorus. This one's a straight-ahead hard'n'heavy rock song, as is the upcoming "Never surrender", which is actually one of my favourites on this collection, reminding me a little bit of Randy-Rhoads-era QUIET RIOT. If this comparison sounds odd to you, it probably is. Next on we have "Mainline", which partly turned up on PLACE OF SKULLS' "With Vision" album, as the opening track, newly named "Last Hit". When it comes to the following four songs, we're talking about fucking history, namely "Wolf's Blood", "Vampyre Love", "Too Late" and "Feeling Of Dread". These numbers already shine(d) brightly as so called raw diamonds in their demo versions. Absolutely essential listening! Already apparent is also Victor Griffin's obvious signature guitar sound and (even more so) playing, which sets him apart from all the rest, making him immediately recognisable among a thousand others, just like all the great classic axe players, e. g. Tony Iommi. Concluding the album is a set of cover versions, one being a medley of STEPPENWOLF's "The Pusher" and MOTÃ–RHEAD's "Iron Horse", the other being the two DEAD BOYS renditions "Ain't It Fun" and "Son Of Sam".
Although I've never been a hardcore devotee of neither MOTÃ–RHEAD nor the DEAD BOYS, I always had a soft spot for a few songs by the mentioned, ironically including "Iron Horse" and "Ain't It Fun". All of those covers are also executed in a great way and you can hear, that these songs mean a great deal to Victor, as he put a lot of heart and feeling into them. If the whole musical content of "Late For An Early Grave" isn't totally convincing alone, you additionally get a great gatefold cover packaging with a printed inner sleeve, containing various liner notes, lyrics and a great amount of killer (!) pictures from Victor's personal archives. The LP is limited to 500 copies only and supposedly sold out from the label already, so you'd better hunt down your local record shops or favoured mailorder, to get hold of this must-have treasury!
(OPOLUS XXXVII AS)