Bedlam: The Bedlam The Anthology 6CD Boxset Review

BEDLAM The Bedlam Anthology (6CD, box) Cherry Red

Please watch the video above for the unboxing review

Now here’s a set that’s been much needed and long overdue.
Bedlam, If you weren’t aware, were a British hard rock band with blues leanings, who released a sole album in 1973 and featured drummer Cozy Powell. The original LP is now rare and is highly regarded amongst fans and collectors.
Never happy with the original mix, by Mountain’s Felix Pappalardi, bassist Denny Ball has acquired the mastertapes and given the album its due treatment. And here it is with a host of extras.

Drummer Cozy Powell, best known for his later work with Rainbow, ELP, Jeff Beck, Brian May and Black Sabbath (amongst a host of others), made his vinyl debut in 1967, with The Sorcerers, and it was then he first started working with the Ball brothers, recording with Youngblood (later Ideal Milk), Big Bertha and the Ace Kefford Stand, before joining Tony Joe White on stage at the Isle Of White festival in 1970, and then recording two albums with The Jeff Beck Group. With a burgeoning session career already taking off (Murray Head, Julie Felix, Chick Curchill, Donovan), he formed The Beast in 1972, with bassist Denny Ball and guitarist Dave Ball, also featuring vocalist Frank Aiello (formerly of 60s mod band The Truth, whose catalogue Cherry Red have also nicely boxed). Changing their name to Bedlam, and with a love of power trios a la Cream, the band recorded this album, and what a corker it is.

The first two discs here are the original album (unavailable on CD for many years), and the 2023 remix. The original album is a wonderful hard rock album, powerful as hell, bluesy, fantastic. The opener I Believe In You (also released as a 7”) has a runaway train rhythm and solid vocals, showing Aiello’s range.
If that were it, it’s a genuinely great album.
But check out the 2023 remix, brighter, clearer, and in comparison it makes the original mix a little muddled. Well done Denny, who has also added a couple of previously unreleased tracks to that disc. The remix disc is great sounding and the set is worth getting for that alone.

On to the bonus material. Now, much of this has already been released, in piecemeal form, largely by the likes of Zoom Club or Majestic (in the case of the Anthology, both), so apart from being sometimes hard to find, they weren’t handled as well as they should have been.

So disc three is Live In London 1973 (previously issued as In Command), a solid live set, blistering, powerful. Nine tracks that include a drum solo (you’ll never not get one when Cozy’s around), and there’s a bonus track of Bedlam recording Dance With The Devil. Cozy’s session work rarely paused and by the time the band were touring the US with Black Sabbath, his solo Dance With The Devil (on RAK, Cozy had worked with Mickie Most during his Jeff Beck Group days) had become a hit, and here it gets the Bedlam treatment.

Disc 4 is Live At Binghampton, New York (previously released on its own as well as part of the original Anthology 2CD), another solid (if short) live performance, The Fool running to 20 minutes, and an interview.

Going back to 1970, disc 5 is Big Bertha – Live In Hamburg. This was recorded as a 3 piece, Cozy and the two Ball brothers, and features an early version of the song The Beast. Some of the early singles like Munich City are aired too.

And the last disc is the 1968-1960 Anthology. Originally the studio disc of the 2CD of some years back, it comes here with extra tracks and proper annotation. So the Big Bertha and Ace Kefford Stand singles, lots of otherwise unreleased material including demos, and tracks recorded when they were known as Ideal Milk. Sadly the Youngblood and Sorcerers material are not included but there’s so much history and fantastic music here, plenty to whet your appetite.

Sadly this was Bedlam’s only album; with Cozy’s solo success and subsequent session work with the RAK label, the band soon fell apart. Vocalist Frank Aiello would join Cozy in Cozy Powell’s Hammer (along side Don Airey and Bernie Marsden). Powell then formed Strange Brew with Clem Clempson and Greg Ridley, which quickly fell apart, which left Cosy considering leaving the music industry to take up motorcycle racing, only to be tempted back by an audition for Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. But that’s another story.

Last of all, there’s the well annotated and very comprehensive booklet. A full essay with history, then in addition individual disc annotation from Denny Ball, who provided much of the tapes and info. Pictures of the band, records, press cuttings and more.
And I get credit to boot.

This is how CD packages should be done.

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Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

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