THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...SNATCH-BACK Ride Hard Run Free (Independent) THIS WEEK I'M LISTENING TO...SNATCH-BACK Ride Hard Run Free (Independent)

Unlike many of the NWOBHM bands who’ve reformed over the years, Snatch-Back – who opened their account in 1979 with the ‘Eastern Lady’ 7” and unfortunately closed it soon afterwards – have retained their original line-up, and so ‘Ride Hard, Ride Free’ (which follows on from 2016’s comeback EP ‘Back In The Name’) features vocalist John Cowley, guitarist Ste Byatt, bassist Ian Wood and drummer Steve Platt: older, possibly wiser, but still more than able to kick some serious arse. Boasting a rounded, forceful sound, the band’s long-waited debut album features eight recently-recorded versions from their back catalogue together with two live archive recordings from 1978 and a romp through the annoyingly catchy ‘Boogie Shoes’, first recorded in 1982 and released on the band’s ‘Amazon Tapes 1982’ cassette.

Opening with a bike revving, a call to arms and howling feedback ‘Ride Hard Run Free’ sits at the heavier end of the NWOBHM spectrum and is a bruising pugilist of an album, not without its subtleties, certainly, but more than able to stand its ground nonetheless. The high-energy neckbreaker that is ‘Rock In A Cold Climate’, the hacking riff of ‘Killer’, the exciting and anthemic ‘Run To You’, the relentless ‘Hard Times’ with its furious and engaging closing solo... There’s much to admire and nothing to dislike here, and age certainly has not withered the quartet who attack each song with the raw enthusiasm and naïve tempestuousness of a bunch of teenagers, with Platt in particular employing the Ginger Baker technique of thrashing his kit to within an inch of its life.

As befits their age, the two old live cuts ‘Star’ and ‘First Refusal’ (believed to be from a gig in Macclesfield) are a bit rough ‘n’ ready in the recording stakes but both crackle with vibrancy and excitement, and the pair alone are a reason to add ‘Ride Hard Run Free’ to any NWOBHM collection. ‘Dedicated to seekers of good times, dreamers and life’s adventurers. May you never grow old’, the band suggest in the CD booklet: a true tribute for the musicians and fans, and indeed the NWOBHM itself. Take your credit card to and enjoy!

© John Tucker November 2019