My love for metallic historical treasure-hunting is well-documented, but this band eluded me for a long time. In my late-night internet scourings, it’s been only within the last year or two that I ran across Jameson Raid’sname, and even then the mentions were still infrequent. Somehow I just managed to miss the whole thing, and I’m not certain how that happened, exactly. In all my day-time record-store lootings over two decades, I never once stumbled into any of the band’s actual music—a fact that’s not exactly surprising or unexplainable. their catalog was confined to two limited-run EPs, one demo cassette and one incomplete bootleg discography compilation. The Raid, then credited as such, showed up on 1980’s Metal For Muthas II, but they were overlooked by outspoken NWOBHM-enthusiast Lars Ulrich for his 2-disc ’79 Revisited release. (Even with the oversight, that latter set is outstanding—you can say what you want about Ulrich, but the man knows his NWOBHM.)
And now, thanks to the fellow(s) at Shadow Kingdom Records, I get to experience the Raid in all their glory, and I gotta say: Just As The Dust Had Settled has more than its share of glorious, glorious glories.
Rife with the usual NWOBHM calling cards—70’s-rock-inspired riffing, a punk edge (usually in spirit more so than in practice), slightly rough production, gut-level vocals, and some seriously rocking tunes—Just As The Dust Had Settled occupies a slot in the highest ranks of this type of record. It’s a dusty-diamond compilation of an unheard band that actually lives up to the “this band should’ve made it bigger” hype. One could blame it on timing, mismanagement or just bad luck, but nevertheless, the fact remains that, based upon what I hear here, Jameson Raid had far more potential than they had payoff.
Mind you, I’m not saying that this band could have displaced Maiden or Saxon or Diamond Head as the kings of the movement, but they certainly deserve more credit than they got. They absolutely should be mentioned alongside such quality NWOBHM near-misses as Witchfynde, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Angel Witch. Sadly, it seems that they remain an also-ran to the also-rans, a band vanished into the blackness of time given nothing remotely approaching their due.
So now I’ve told you what the Raid didn’t do, what they should have done, and now I’ll tell you what they did:
Starting with the stellar “Seven Days Of Splendour,” the title track of their first EP, the Raid cranked out some driving trad-metal, riffy and rocking and sometimes mildly progressive-tinged beneath Terry Dark’s vocals and above Paul Kimberley’s drums. Falling somewhere between Saxon boogie and Maiden ambition, most of Dust comes from the Raid’s earliest incarnation, with guitarist John Ace and bassist Ian Smith alongside Dark and Kimberley. Smith has the gnarliest Rickenbacker bass tone this side of Lemmy, and often, it’s his instrument that carries these tunes, prominent in the mix and providing both a forceful rhythm and a sweet distorted harmonic underpinning beneath Ace’s classic-rock progressions. Dark’s voice is streetwise, at times enigmatic and emotive, although he’s not always a super-commanding presence—think a less-vibrant Phil Mogg or a less-caterwauling Biff Byford. This primary line-up recorded all but four of these fourteen tunes, although in deference to the later group (which substituted Mike Darby and Pete Green on guitar and bass, respectively), tracks like “Titanic” and “The Hypnotist” are stellar, the former an example of the band at their most developed and the latter an example of them at their most commercial but also their most confident. (No recordings from the short-lived post-Dark/Kimberley, Steve Makin-fronted version of Jameson Raid are featured.)
The production on Dust varies from excellent to a bit less refined, but considering the source tapes, everything sounds polished and punchy, although the live version of “Goodbye” is noticeably…well…live. The booklet features detailed liner-notes and lyrics that are broken up with tons of photos and rounded out with individual band members’ recollections of their time in Jameson Raid. The only thing missing is the track from Metal For Muthas II, some kind of licensing hurdle preventing its inclusion, but since the comp that marked its initial appearance isn’t hard to find, the absence of “Hard Lines” isn’t a serious problem.
Easily one of the best examples of metallic archaeology that I’ve ever run across, Just As The Dust Settled is a first-rate compilation from a band that absolutely could have (and should have) made a bigger splash than they actually made. For NWOBHM lovers, this one’s mandatory, and if you have any interest at all in buried treasures of the traditional, late-70s / early-80s variety, Dust is definitely one to check out. An absolute gem.