Back in the early 70’s, it wasn’t unusual for a heavy rock band to score a major-label deal, release two to three albums, and then disappear. But thanks to the powers of modern technology, many such artists have achieved cult status, from Jerusalem to Leaf Hound, Sir Lord Baltimore to Captain Beyond.
One other such outfit was Bang. The Philly trio released three albums on Capitol Records between ’72 and ’73, and have since been included alongside some of the aforementioned outfits in “proto-metal” lore. Although a late 90’s reunion resulted in two more albums, and led to their scrapped ’71 debut concept album finally seeing the light of day in ’04, this might actually be the first greatest hits album the band has released. With 18 tracks spanning those first three albums, plus a couple songs from a 1974 single, it accurately captures Bang’s glory years in over 81 minutes of music.
This compilation opens with “Death of a Country,” a 10-minute epic with a bass-driven verse and plenty of progressive flourishes, somewhat akin to Uriah Heep, with maybe a couple shades of Led Zep thrown in. “No Trespassing” is both shorter and more mellow, again with some Uriah Heep vibes, though it picks up the intensity in its final minute. The eerie, doomy “Lions…Christians” is very reminiscent of Pentagram, as is crunchy rocker “The Queen.” The catchy, bluesy swing of “Questions” could be a lost classic rock chestnut that shouldda been on the radio, while the hand-claps and Sweet-style stomp of “Mother” sounds a little faded and dated. Overall, there’s a good mixture of heavier and proggier numbers throughout.
Although the promo kit refers to them as the American Black Sabbath, I don’t really get that same level of doom and gloom here. With that said, they certainly compare favourably to the generation of early 70’s “proto-doom” bands.