Proto-Metal • United Kingdom
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Not a lot of info out there on this band, since it appears they never had a legitimate release back in 1968-72 when this material was originally recorded. It wouldn't be until 1994 that the Kissing Spell label would give these recording the light of day, but now even those releases are difficult to find in any format.

Northampton singer-guitarist Martin Weaver formed the band in 1968 with drummer "Mad" Dick Smith and bassist Bob Jeffries. However, Wicked Lady never came within a whisper of the stratospheric status attained by Cream, or the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The band's liberal use of feedback -- and large biker following -- kept them relegated to clubs, even during the twilight hours of the psychedelic era. Awash in drink and drugs, Wicked Lady split up in 1970, but Smith and Weaver soon regrouped with new bassist, Del "German Head" Morley. The new lineup duly set
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WICKED LADY The Axeman Cometh album cover 2.71 | 3 ratings
The Axeman Cometh
Proto-Metal 1994
WICKED LADY Psychotic Overkill album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Psychotic Overkill
Proto-Metal 1994
WICKED LADY Blow Your Mind album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Blow Your Mind
Proto-Metal 1995

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WICKED LADY The Axeman Cometh

Album · 1994 · Proto-Metal
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Guitarist Martin Weaver had been in a covers band with an attractive female vocalist before the manager considered him an unsuitable guitarist and fired him. The bass player, Bob Jeffries and drummer, “Mad” Dick Smith walked out with him and together they formed Wicked Lady. This was in 1968. They started working as a live band playing in small venues. They were loud and Weaver claims that their audiences initially hated them though they eventually built up a small group of partially deaf followers.

Wicked Lady never got a record deal and never pursued one. They always considered themselves a live band and this can be heard on the music here. The recordings were made in 1969, ’70, and ’72 and on a four track recorder. Weaver claims the recordings were made to help the band remember the songs. Several of the songs stretch over 7 minutes but this is not a reflection of progressive exploration but rather extended guitar solos.

If the music presented here can be summarized it is songs composed of one or two good riffs played on a heavily distorted guitar with a simple rhythm section, loud and aggressive guitar solos, and fairly straightforward vocals. Though the recordings span five years, the style and sound varies little if at all.

“Run the Night” and “Wicked Lady”, both from 1969, are shorter, heavy riff rockers that could easily have been proto-types for later mid-seventies hard rock. “Run the Night” is the more upbeat of the two and the guitar solo in “Wicked Lady” is the most original and creative one on the album, employing melody and style over aggressive exploration of distortion and notes.

The third track from 1969 is the instrumental, “The Axeman Cometh”. Though the drums and bass do very little here, two guitar tracks offer more adventures in soloing.

“War Cloud” and “Life and Death” are both from 1970 take more time and attempt a little more contrast with “War Cloud” including acoustic strumming and “Life and Death” having a slower beginning on electric guitar. Still both songs evolve into a heavy riff and feature a substantial amount of guitar soloing. The drums provide some timely fills that sound rather good, but overall there’s still a feeling of simplicity, like a new band putting together their first demos. Once or twice it seems that the drums should do something to lead in a change in the riff but instead they almost seem to miss a beat.

“Out of the Dark” and “Rebel” continue the simple rock song approach with lots of guitar fuzz and more solos. Both songs end rather abruptly and it feels as though someone just said, “That’s good enough. Now let’s turn the volume off and go for lunch”.

The final track is my personal favourite and is perhaps the most creative one on the album though still has the band playing the same rhythm parts for a little longer than necessary. “Living on the Edge” begins slowly with some cymbal washes. There are some arpeggios and cymbal strikes that make the music sound closer to metal. A brief and gentler guitar solo comes next which is then followed by the main heavy riff (an easy one to play) and a searing noisy guitar solo. The rest of the music alternates between gentle clean strumming for the vocal parts and the heavy riffing again. As to be expected, there’s more guitar soloing.

This album is exactly what Wicked Lady intended. It’s not an album with a producer providing input or a record company executive telling what the band needs to have a hit. It’s three musicians just playing as they like into a four-track. The riffs are there. They distorted guitar and fierce guitar soloing are present. The metal connection can be easily understood. However, the bass guitar is very uninspiring which is quite different from many other proto-metal bands of this same period who had much more assertive and adventurous bass players. The drums too are not active enough to be in the same league as contemporary heavy rock band drummers. At 28 years of age, “Mad” Dick lived up to his name and went to an asylum. Quite possibly playing the same boring beat led to his insanity.

Had it been Wicked Lady’s intention to record a proper album, they may have done a better job with a producer helping to shape up the album. On the other hand, some of the rawness and unbridled energy of Weaver’s guitar playing may have been lost. The sound quality is not too bad at all and the riffs quite good. For me though, the music is a little too simple and repetitive and I’d like to see more creativity.

Both this album and the follow-up of 1972 recordings with a new bassist were reissued with new album covers which are different from the ones here on MMA.

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