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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: Diamond Head – ‘Death And Progress’

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: Diamond Head – ‘Death And Progress’
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Diamond Head – ‘Death And Progress’ (DISS020CDD)

Originally released on Bronze Records, ESSCD192, June 1993

Having called (borrowed) time on Diamond Head in 1985, the creative duo of Brian Tatler and Sean Harris joined forces once more in April 1990 and immediately started writing new material: ‘Kiss Of Fire’ was apparently written pretty much at their first get-together. Fired up and on a roll they soon had a new set and a new band, with Eddie Moohan on bass and Karl Wilcox on drums (a position he holds to this day). Initially they toured as Dead Reckoning, so that they could play under the radar, but with confidence restored they went back out again, this time under their real name.

The first release was supposed to be a six-track EP, a precursor to a full album, and after a few false starts the band decamped to Parkgate Studios near Hastings although they only actually managed to put five songs to tape: the aforementioned ‘Kiss Of Fire’, ‘Feels Good’, ‘Rising Up’, ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ and ‘Wild On The Streets’, this final song being an oldie from 1978 which could have been a contender for their original white label album. Plans changed again though and the EP was ditched, replaced by a highly collectable 12” single featuring ‘Wild On The Streets’ and ‘I Can’t Help Myself’, released in 1991. Moohan left, to be replaced by Pete Vuckovic from Blackout, the band that had supported Dead Reckoning, and Diamond Head finally set to work on what would be their fourth album, ‘Death And Progress’.

Recorded at Music Station Studios in Birmingham, ‘Death And Progress’ does sound very much like the natural successor to 1983’s ‘Canterbury’, with a rich variety of songs and a vibrancy to match. It didn’t, however, come easily. Sessions started on 4 August 1992 and dragged on until the following March, as the issues that had beset the band previously came to the fore once more. They ended up with sixteen songs in total (including the earlier recordings of ‘Wild On The Streets’ and ‘I Can’t Help Myself’) although Harris apparently set six of these aside for a solo project. ‘Paradise’ and ‘Damnation Street’ (a reworking of ‘I Don’t Got’ from the ‘Diamond Lights’ EP) came from a ‘loosening up’ session in July 1992 at which they also recorded five covers just to get into the groove, and ‘Dust’, ‘Run’, ‘Home’ and ‘Calling Your Name (The Light)’ were all freshly recorded. ‘Starcrossed (Lovers Of The Night)’ was a song Tatler had written with Tony Iommi when a golden opportunity had arisen (the Sabbath man also adding a great solo to the track), and ‘Truckin’’ended up in the hands of Megadeth (and mega-fan) mainman Dave Mustaine who, with producer Max Norman, added a solo and mixed it.

The album finally appeared on 1 June 1993, a few days before Diamond Head opened for Metallica at Milton Keynes bowl on Saturday 5 June (with Megadeth and The Almighty making up the bill). Unfamiliar to most of the crowd, ‘Dust,’ ‘Truckin’’ and ‘Run’ made the forty-minute live set, which saw Harris take to the stage dressed as the Grim Reaper, symbolising the end of Diamond Head. In the singer’s mind only death could bring forth progress…

‘Death And Progress’ is a sadly overlooked classic. Despite the studio shenanigans the finished album is a worthy addition to the band’s catalogue. “I like the songs on it, Sean’s vocals are great, and I think it’s a well-produced album,” says Brian Tatler now. “Andy Scarfe was on board for that one and did a great job. I still think it sounds good and I like a lot of the songs, ‘Home’, ‘Calling Your Name’ and ‘Run’ to name but three. The first five songs were mixed in five different studios by five different engineers but you can’t tell.

“It was a very expensive album though,” he continues, “and it took around three years from the start of the songwriting that began when Sean and I reformed Diamond Head in around May 1990 until it was released in June 1993. It was a slow tortuous process and we had several fall-outs along the way. At one point Sean, Karl, Pete and his brother Danny were doing an off-shoot band without me. They were hoping to sign to RCA as a ‘new’ band called The Magnetic. However, RCA thought better of it.”

The Milton Keynes performance was taped and the complete show as later released as ‘Evil Live’, which is also available on Dissonance. The five cover versions the band recorded – ‘Good Lovin’ Gone Bad’, ‘This Flight Tonight’, ‘Rock The Nation’, ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ and ‘Sweet Silence’ – along with the three remaining tracks from the six-track EP that never was all appear on the live album’s bonus disc.  

To buy or stream ‘Death And Progress’, ‘Evil Live’ or any other Dissonance Diamond Head release, please click on the links below: