British Lions

A MOTT THE HOOPLE spinoff, and formed early in ‘77 when things had already gone awry for the former glam-turned-hard rock act (IAN HUNTER had long-since went solo), the BRITISH LIONS quintet roared like a mouse on to the fringes of the new wave movement. Ex-MOTT men Ray Smith/Majors (lead guitar), Morgan Fisher (keyboards), Overend Watts (bass) and Dale Griffin (drums) united with MEDICINE HEAD’s former singer/guitarist, John Fiddler, found their way on to the roster of the cult-ish Vertigo stable (R.S.O. in America) – but old-school glam was never a prerequisite staple in the UK’s burgeoning punk-dominated scene.
Nevertheless, their eponymous BRITISH LIONS (1978) {*5} set, reached the American Top 100, but had all the hallmarks of a bad THIN LIZZY or BLUE OYSTER CULT record. Playing great abroad was always the trademark of their namesake rugby team, although there was little here but a bit of “Shouting & Pointing” (incidentally, the name of MOTT’s swansong set). Featuring two covers by way of KIM FOWLEY’s `International Heroes’ and Garland Jeffreys’ `Wild In The Streets’, pub rock was almost back in vogue – thankfully, it was a short-lived fad.
Without a contract anywhere in the world, a second LP was almost shelved until up-and-coming independent Cherry Red came to the rescue in 1980. TROUBLE WITH WOMEN {*4} was rather dated by the time of its release, but on reflection – like its predecessor – it had some moments of excitement through the metallic `Any Port In A Storm’ and their soppy version of GARY FARR & THE T-BONES’ `(Won’t You Give Him) One More Chance’. Morgan stuck with Cherry Red for further albums, while Griffin and Watts found work producing post-punk acts SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS and DEPARTMENT S; the albums have since received the usual anything-goes CD update issues, both with unnecessary extras, et al.
Sadly, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years, Dale “Buffin” Griffin passed away on 17 January, aged 67.
© MC Strong/MCS Sep2012-Jan2016

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