If ever a band fit the category “cult,” it’s Lucifer’s Friend. I guarantee 90% of casual rock music fans will respond “Lucy-who’s what?!” Unfortunately, they also join the long list of bands that never were quite able to surpass, or even equal, their debut album. It’s like the old adage- bands have twenty years to make their first album. They’ve got six months for the follow up.
I can still remember the day I bought Lucifer’s Friend’s 1970 debut, some 38 years ago. (It wasn’t released in the US ‘til around ‘73.) I was actually buying The New York Dolls debut when a curious-looking album with a foreboding cover and unusual song titles caught my eye. Sold! Nothing against the glam rockers from NYC, but the ratio I played each album was about 100 to 1, in favor of this unknown band from Germany.
I suppose the best way to describe Lucifer’s Friend is by comparing it to other, well-known bands of the guitar/organ-driven hard rock genre. How’s Deep Purple and Uriah Heep grab ya? If you’re keeping score at home, those are two very heavy hitters! But I stand by the comparison, especially when you consider this album predates both DP’s Fireball and Machine Head and UH’s Look At Yourself, Demons And Wizards and The Magician’s Birthday! Hmm, maybe they were big fans, too?
The first note of the album reveals perhaps the band’s most noteworthy weapon- the powerful voice of John Lawton! Think Ian Gillan, though perhaps not as high a register. It might seem sacrilege to say Lawton’s voice is better than Gillan’s, but it might be cleaner. (Side note- Lawton later sang for Uriah Heep on three studio albums.)
Standout tracks? ALL EIGHT! No filler here, ladies and gents! From start to finish, nothing but forty minutes of sheer headbangin’ perfection! Crank this baby to11, folks!
As monumental as their debut was, it’s truly a shame LF didn’t reach the success of their aforementioned peers. I guess the unfortunate trifecta of being a foreign group on an obscure label with zero (count ‘em!) photogenic band members (check the live video link below for that last tidbit!) was too much for even a group of musicians this talented.
Lucifer’s Friend went on to release five albums with vocalist Lawton, four without. T he first few are recommended, though nowhere nearly as high as their debut. As for the latter releases, the less said the better.
- “Ride The Sky” – 2:55
- “Everybody’s Clown” – 6:12
- “Keep Goin'” – 5:26
- “Toxic Shadows” – 7:00
- “Free Baby” – 5:28
- “Baby You’re A Liar” – 3:55
- “In The Time Of Job When Mammon Was A Yippie” – 4:04
- “Lucifer’s Friend” – 6:12
- John Lawton – Lead Vocals
- Peter Hesslein – Lead Guitars/Vocals/Percussion
- Peter Hecht – Piano/Keyboards/French Horn on “Ride The Sky.”
- Dieter Horns – Bass
- Joachim Rietenbach – Drums
THERE WILL BE A NEW “COOL ALBUM OF THE DAY” TOMORROW, DON”T FORGET TO STOP BACK!