The latest album of the German rockers from Epitaph is actually a kind of a maverick to be reviewed in a progressive rock magazine. The cover says 'celebrating forty years of Rock Edition' and somewhere in my head a bell begins to tinkle. In my vinyl collection I have a live album of this band recorded in 1981. Some searching on the internet provided me the information that Danger Man is the re-release of Epitaph's final album, originally recorded in 1982. Musically I wouldn't file this album under progressive rock, but classic rock would be appropriate now. Back in the eighties this music was simply called hard rock. Let's go back in time and see if this music recorded thirty years ago, can still convince people of the quality it should stand for.
Danger Man wasn't recorded with the original line-up, but with vocalist and guitarist Cliff Jackson, who was the band leader, guitarist Klaus Walz, returning bass player and second lead vocalist Bernie Kolbe and drummer Norbert Lehmann. On one of the bonus tracks Ralph Bloch plays the drums. This line-up was the result of an American tour. The musical influences of that tour were audible as well since Danger Man shifts a bit more in the direction of mainstream American radio rock, in other words: more accessible to a larger audience.
While listening to Danger Man, my memories went back to the early eighties when I bought their Epitaph Live album. I know that if I had really liked the music of this band at the time, I had checked out more albums and I would certainly have listened to the following releases. None of this happened so for me this is enough evidence that the quality of the music wasn't that good. Epitaph was a fairly unknown and mediocre band with compositions that didn't touch me at all. I remember I liked Heinz Glass, their lead guitarist on the live album. On one of the two bonus tracks on this re-release he plays the lead guitar. It's a live recording from 2011 played by a reincarnation of the band's main musicians: Jackson and Kolbe, with ex-guitarist Glass and new drummer Achim Porer. However, this won't bring back the pleasure I had while listening to the old vinyl. Like I said the music is mediocre and when you've heard Danger Man once, you'll not find the uncontrollable urge to press the repeat button again. Moreover, the music sounds too outdated.
I don't understand why an album like this has been re-released. Perhaps the band hoped to be part of the ever growing classic rock festivals, where you sometimes see great bands from the seventies. To be honest, I think Epitaph would do fine on one of these festivals, but to me there's just one thing that comes to mind: they're only in it for the money.
** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013