Iron Claw - s/t. 1970-1974 Scotland

Iron Claw - s/t. 2009 Rockadrome (USA) Archival recordings from 1970 to 1974.

LP reissue: 2014 Lion (USA)

Packaging: The first authorized release of Iron Claw is the Rockadrome CD (first photo), and that's what I currently own. It's an excellent reissue, as is typical of Rockadrome, filled with informative historical notes and photos. The second photo is the newly released Lion LP version. I haven't seen this one personally, but the label says: "This collection of sixteen original studio tracks documents Iron Claw's existence from 1970 thru 1974 and includes extensive liner notes, lyrics and photos inside the gatefold and on a 12" insert; also includes an 11x17 poster." Sounds like a nice package to me (and includes all of the CD material), and I'm sure it's yet another fine release from the high quality Lion. The last photo is from the first CD release of Iron Claw - entitled "Dismorphophobia" (1996 Audio Archives) - which has been tagged as "unauthorized" by RYM. I have a copy of this on CD-R, and it's a different set of music, only focusing on their 1970 material. And it's of very poor sound. I would stick with the Rockadrome or Lion versions for this one and avoid the latter.

Notes: Where to even start? So the deal with Iron Claw is they have four different historical Marks similar to Deep Purple in that way. The first Mark (1970) demonstrates Iron Claw emulating Black Sabbath's early style of crushing heavy blues rock, and this is the sound most associated with the band. The material - and sound - is very raw and distorted. It's good stuff, but not devastating. The first 5 tracks on the CD are from this era. The second Mark (1971) contains only one song and is very similar in sound and scope to Mark I. I found that the real revelation on this CD is Mark III (1971-72), which begins to add in more sophistication and introduces a broad palette of tones including woodwinds. The sound quality is excellent on these tracks, differentiating it greatly from the prior material. Fortunately this stage of the band has a strong presence on the disc - and no less than 8 tracks are presented here. Mark IV (1973-74) sees Iron Claw going full throttle towards complex progressive rock territory. Unfortunately there's only two tracks from this period and the sound isn't ideal, but the music is quite brilliant and demonstrates a band that is really starting to fire on all cylinders. It's a pity they never were able to release a proper studio album. So all in all, an excellent archival collection. It's worth noting that the music is presented chronologically, so this isn't a title that works well in "random play" mode.

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