Bernie Tormé: Lightning Strikes – Volume One (1982-1983) Review

Bernie TORME LIGHTNING STRIKES: 1982-1983 (4CD box)
HNE / Cherry Red

Dublin born guitarist Bernard Tormey, better known as Bernie Torme, was a blues/punk guitarist renowned for his work with rock and metal bands such as Gillan, Atomic Rooster and, briefly, Ozzy Osbourne. He had a distinctive sound that mixed Jimi Hendrix with punk that added a touch of electric fire to whoever he played with, and he had a notable solo career to boot.

This set, which largely does what it says on the tin, ties up most of the recordings from 1982 and 1983, kicking off which he debut solo album Turn Out The Lights. Recorded late in 1981, when Bernie was fresh out of a successful couple of years with Gillan, it was released in 1982 and featured bassist Phil Spalding, drummer Nigel Glockler (Toyah, Saxon) and keyboard player Colin Towns (Gillan). The opening title track is a wonderful rocker that nods to Gillan, some wonderful pop/rock sensibilities in the melody and catchiness, and his Bernie’s trademark punk blues blend. Bernie’s vocals add to the punk tinge too. The track Lies really picks up the power, full on punk energy yet more meat, riffage and solos than most punk acts could dream of. And a change of pace with Getting There, some gentler plucking, quite atmospheric, yet still heavy and meaningful. Several bonuses make for a great start.

Disc 2 is the 1983 album Electric Gypsies (a pretty good description for Bernie). By then Bernie had already played with Ozzy for two weeks, helping complete a tour after the sudden death of Randy Rhodes, and 1983 also saw Torme record and tour with Atomic Rooster (a live album exists of that too). A busy man. The album continues in similar vein with Bernie staying true to himself (and two fingers up at the establishment), it’s a another great album (Wild West and 20th Century standing out, well, it all does really). The album also features bassist Everton Williams and original Def Leppard drummer Frank Noon. Several single and b-side tracks make up7 bonus tracks.

Discs 3 and 4 are both live sets recorded in in 1983, featuring Bernie on guitar and vocals, bassist Colin Bond, and drummer Ron Rebel (an early Iron Maiden alumnus who also recorded with Gillan bassist John McCoy in 1983/4)
The Live 1983 set, originally released in 1984, is a wonderful showcase for Bernie and the band’s live energy. On stage, they were nothing short of blistering. There is a rough’n’ready edge, but you can feel the sparks flying. Several solo tracks, and the last track is the Gillan number No Easy Way (from Glory Road, and a number I’ve seen Bernie play several times, solo and with GMT). Loads of bonuses too. Recorded on the same tour, Sheffield 1983 was released originally by Angel Air some years ago and long out print, so good to have it available again and back with the catalogue where it belongs. Another blistering set.

Four CDs in card sleeves, and some excellent info in the booklet. I hope the rest of the catalogue is treated in similar fashion.
The only criticism is that it starts at the debut album in 1982, as there are a number of singles from the late 70s and early 80s (for example The Beat, I’m Not Ready, Weekend), as well as the two tracks from the Live @ The Vortex LP. These need to be brought together.
That aside, it’s a wonderful set and Bernie is really a guitarist who should be celebrated. Essential listening and good value.

Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

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