Leaf Hound/Ratz Ass/Prince of Pratts - London, Camden Unicorn - 8th January 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Taylor   
Saturday, 22 January 2011 05:00

Leafhound_PosterIt's the first Saturday night out of the New Year and there's no better way to spend it than at the Unicorn in Camden where some quality free live music has been laid on via a low-key headlining appearance from legendary rock band Leaf Hound. A band that is playing one of their rarest of rare gigs to an appreciative packed out venue.

 

Prince Of Pratts had the job of entertaining the early birds. The London stoners sounding like Hawkwind being dragged backwards through the hedge by the Old Bill in an attempt to prevent them from reaching Stonehenge, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. These guys have something magic in their tea and there's no need for a sweetener.

 

Outside having a fag, I asked a friend 'who is this on the juke box?'' he then reliably informed me it was actually the second support band who were on stage, I mean they sounded that good from outside!!!!! Ratz Ass sound like that band that eventually moved in next door to Motorhead once the lawn had died. Great fuzzy greased up slabs of rock sounding like either a stoned MC5 or Edgar Broughton Band high on speed. Ratz Ass may need a name change if they want to be taken a bit more seriously, but they were certainly very infectious.

 

Leaf Hound have something of what you might call "a cult following" and are a major draw at some of the European festivals. Those in the know are fully aware of what a special band Leaf Hound are, but here in the UK they are still relatively a best kept secret.

 

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You may have read articles about their classic debut released some forty years ago, the seminal 'Growers Of Mushroom' which is a milestone for the stoner rock community, but stoner rock is not exactly what Leaf Hound are all about.  Upon release back in 1970, the album was referred to as "competition for Led Zeppelin." Trouble was, due to the fact that Decca Records took their time releasing the album, Leaf Hound had already disbanded and there was no band to promote the product, hence there were meagre rather than mega sales of the record.  This in turn has now resulted in the rarity of actually owning an original copy, and it now changes hands on Ebay for in excess of a few grand squire.  Following this split Leaf Hound's singer Peter French went of to join Vincent Crane in Atomic Rooster before getting 'ot 'n sweaty with American rockers Cactus. Thankfully a few years back French decided to resurrect Leaf leafhound1Hound with a spanking new line up who recorded the album 'Unleashed' which received some glowing reviews, but lady luck hasn't been on Leaf Hound's side and the band still remain something a hidden gem.

 

Originally from Battersea, French has one of those typical rich bluesy classic English voices that is right up there with the likes of Rodgers and Coverdale. The music blending the riffs of Free and Led Zeppelin with every hook is a winner.  The newer material sits easily alongside the songs written some thirty seven years before. Guitarist Luke Rayner meanwhile looks like a young Peter Frampton and he certainly shows us the way to being a rock star with an exemplary style that really sets him apart. 'Sad Road To The Sea' in particular sees some great interplay from Rayner and bassist Ed Pearson. And in 'Freelance Fiend' the band has one of the meanest riffs you will ever hear, and firmly belongs at the beginning of any seventies rock compilation.  Also included tonight is 'Breakthrough' which has been re-worked from the Atomic Rooster version and also featuring some more stunning work from Rayner (it's getting a bit of a habit me saying this).

 

The lucky ones at the Unicorn tonight were treated to a fine lesson in hard classic rock and no one's record collection is complete without some Leaf Hound. This is one band that I would love to see at a festival like High Voltage because they are quite simply one very unique and very special band.

 

Set list : 105 Degrees / Overtime / Drowned My Life In Fear / Stop Look Listen / Man With The Moon In Him / Too Many Rock 'N Roll Times / Sad Road To The Sea / Freelance Fiend / Breakthrough / Growers Of Mushroom ...Encore ..Stagnant Pool

 

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Photo Kudos Ben O'Luckely