Diamond Head deservedly rank with the best in the rock world, even if they didn’t gain the global recognition of their contemporaries. Back in 1980 the only access to new rock music was via the 10 ’til midnight Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance (“TV on the radio”) and it was here that I first heard of the band and their debut album, Lightning To The Nations. The track, unsurprisingly that Tommy aired was the seminal ‘Am I Evil’ which took all that was good in rock and wove new patterns with Brian Tatler’s now signature riffing style.
So, is it good news that Brian and the current line up have re-recorded the entire album? Well, from my point of view, yes and no. The original has such a place in my heart that I will always return to it, in saying that, these new recordings have preserved the rawness of the period while injecting a keen edge of modernity; they all stay true to the originals with the odd extra flourish that may jar at first but soon fit like a glove.
The real saving grace is that the band throw themselves into every track and it still gives a thrill to hear songs such as the aforementioned ‘Am I Evil’, it still sounds brilliant and Rasmus is one of the few vocalists that could carry it off with such aplomb. The magnificent ‘The Prince’ stays that way. The epic ‘Sucking My Love’ is actually a little more coherent than the original.
As it’s a re-release the obligatory bonus tracks are as fascinating as the new takes, four covers of Metallica (repaying the favour?), Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest and Deep Purple are rewarding in their honest reinterpretations whilst watermarked by the band’s inherent sound. ‘No Remorse’, Immigrant Song’, ‘Sinner’ and ‘Rat Bat Blue’ respectively are fascinating and enjoyable additions. The Purple and Priest ones being the best.
So, if you’re already a fan, this is actually essential… if you’re not 1) where have you been? and 2) this is as good a place to start as any.