BLACKFOOT - Highway Song Live (1982) & Rick Medlocke and Blackfoot (1987)
Formed in 1969 and named after the Native American tribe to which founding member Rickey Medlocke has lineage, Blackfoot were a popular southern hard rock band. They were contemporaries of legendary southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, with whom Medlocke had grown up and briefly played drums and sang occasional lead for in 1970 during a Blackfoot break up period. Blackfoot started out as a quartet which included singer/guitarist Medlocke, the grandson of delta blues-bluegrass musician Shorty Medlocke, who wrote Blackfoot’s classic song “Train, Train”, drummer/singer Jackson Spires, bassist/singer Greg T. Walker, and lead guitarist Charlie Hargrett, all of whom have Native American heritage, which added to the unique sound, culture and image of the band. Blackfoot played hard throughout the 1970’s, recording and touring for a variety of labels including Island and Epic Records, but it wasn't until 1979 after moving to Atco that they found success with the release of their hit album Strikes. Strikes was the band’s most commercially successful album and contained their first hit and best known song “Train, Train”, as well as the follow up single “Highway Song”. It was the first of a trio of successful albums that were produced by Al Nalli. The band toured heavily throughout 1979 and ended the year opening for The Who at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan while working on their next album, Tomcattin’, which was released in 1980. The next album Marauder, which contained the hit song “Fly Away”, followed in 1981. The albums Siogo (1983) and Vertical Smiles (1984) both made it into the Billboard Top 200. Blackfoot continued to record and tour throughout the 1980’s and 90’s with a few lineup changes.
Like their Native American ancestors before them, the members of Blackfoot must have known what it felt like to be exiled from their homeland. Only, rather than being forced into an Indian reservation, the world's first all-Native American hard rock band found itself trying to scrape together a good wage across the pond, where U.K. audiences couldn't seem to get enough of its uniquely metallic, Skynyrd-derived Southern rock. Despite experiencing diminishing returns in the good ol' U.S. of A., all three of their studio albums for Atco had been warmly embraced here, leading to nearly two years of incessant touring. Such acclaim eventually led to demands for a live album, which the band duly recorded with the help of the Rolling Stones' mobile studio during a three-month jaunt across the British Isles in 1982. Named Highway Song Live after the band's biggest (and most "Freebird"-like) hit, it was recorded in the spirit of the classic live albums of the '70s, with explosive performances of such Blackfoot favorites as "Road Fever," "Every Man Should Know (Queenie)," "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme," and the title track. Additional highlights include a couple of supercharged blues numbers ( "Rollin' and Tumblin'," "Trouble in Mind" ) and frontman Rick Medlocke's friendly rapport with the audience. Sadly, the album wasn't issued in America until 20 years later - long after Blackfoot's bright promise had faded into anonymity.
One look at Ricky Medlocke on the front cover and you know your in for some serious Medlocke Music !! He has one of the best blues rock voice’s in the business. This is really a solo effort on the part of Rick Medlocke rather than a bona fide piece of work by Blackfoot. Whether we agree or not Rick has paid his dues and deserves the right to call this a Blackfoot album. Even though no other original members of Blackfoot are involved in this recording it is still Blackfoot. A very creative mix of style going on. Keyboards and female background vocals help to define the musical message we hear.
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