Zero Tolerance was the first new Killing Floor recording project for 32 years. The idea of Franco Ratti at Appaloosa Records in Milan, Italy, the album was written and recorded throughout 2002 into 2003 and includes the entire original line-up of the band from 1968. As I've written on the album notes..
"When Franco first suggested the idea I was sceptical, but after contacting the guys involved I knew that there was a real energy and enthusiasm for the project. I then spent a holiday in Brittany mumbling ideas into a dictaphone to the accompaniment of a field full of hens and cockerels, and once I finally got together with Bill we quickly wrote a total of nine original songs. Bill had already written songs such as "Prozac Blues" and "The Big Issue", and "Calm Down" was to come together live in the studio. With two contributions from Mac and a couple of blues standards we were ready to rock!
One big problem was that we couldn't find Bazz.. no-one had heard from him since the seventies. Eventually we decided to go ahead with Chris Sharley on drums, a man who had already been working with me in my band for the last ten years. Subsequently Bazz made contact..alive and well and living in Neuchatel, Switzerland. He was able to fly in and play on two tracks of the album.
We had a great time making the album, and in the pub afterwards. I hope you enjoy the 21st century Killing Floor."
Twelve track version available to download from iTunes as "The Collection".
The line-up is:
- Vocals, harp, acoustic guitar.
Mick Clarke - Vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Stuart (Mac) McDonald - Bass
Lou Martin - Keyboards
Chris Sharley - Drums
Bazz Smith - Drums (tracks 3 & 12)
Appaloosa Records AP144
1. Burnout (Thorndycraft / Clarke)
2. Prozac Blues (Thorndycraft / Clarke)
3. Calm Down (Smith / Martin / McDonald / Thorndycraft / Clarke)
4. Sperm Bandit (Thorndycraft / Clarke)
5. The Big Issue (Thorndycraft/Clarke)
6. Strange Love (Slim Harpo)
7. Zero Tolerance (Thorndycraft / Clarke)
8. Run On(Thorndycraft / Clarke)
9. Iron Ewe (McDonald / Davies)
10. What is it about you? (Thorndycraft / Clarke)
11. Road of Diamonds (Thorndycraft/Clarke)
12. The Radnor Rumble (McDonald / Davies)
13. Fred McDowell (Thorndycraft / Clarke)
14. Bring it on Home (Sonny Boy Williamson)
Produced by Mick Clarke
Executive Producer: Franco Ratti
Recorded at The Moat Studio, London. www.themoat.demon.co.uk
Engineered by Lee Bowman
Many thanks to Toby Hrycek-Robinson
Additional recording by Mick Clarke at various locations in South and West London
Mixed by Mick Clarke and Killing Floor
Mastered by Lee Bowman at The Moat Studio
Released in the UK 24 January 2005 via Cadiz Music
Cadiz Music Ltd, 2 Greenwich Quay, Clarence Rd. London SE83EY
Contact Laurie Staff firstname.lastname@example.org telephone 020 8692 3555 mobile 07984 013 697 fax 020 8469 3300
Distributed through Pinnacle Entertainment
Mick Clarke and Lou Martin I knew, but I could only guess at who Killing Floor were. After doing some research I learned that both men were the founders and that they stirred things up with a few others in the late sixties and early seventies. 32 years later Killing Floor emerges again with the album Zero Tolerance. After listening to it for the first time I thought: this can't be, it can't be this good. Yet several listening turns show that it only gets better. What they bring here, together with their soul mates of old, is simply phenomenal. The enthusiasm and passion just drips, nay, streams off it.
Everything's just right: from the greasy guitar sound of Mick Clarke to the singing and harmonica play of Bill Thorndycraft, not to mention the keyboards and fantastic rhythm sections. This is the most agitating blues-rock man can find. The band wrote twelve songs themselves and brings only two covers: 'Strange Love' by Slim Harpo and 'Bring It on Home' by Willie Dixon. The rhythm and style changes are countless, but it always rocks and swings your socks off.
If there's an album lately that really blew me away, it has to be 'Zero Tolerance' by Killing Floor. Listen to any track and get pulled into the wall of sound that these gentlemen bring. During 'Bring It on Home' Bill Thorndycraft yells: "make that guitar smoke". There's no other way to put it, cause this is exactly what this cd does: "making that guitar smoke"!!!
Reviewer: Philippe Warlop
Bluesmatters! October 2004 www.bluesmatters.com
UK - KILLING FLOOR: Zero Tolerance Appaloosa AP144-2. Y'know, it feels good to type that title - a brand new Killing Floor album! Ye Gods, who would have thought that in 2004 we would again be treated to the rasping vocal and sharply played harp of Bill Thorndycraft and the electric (in the best sense of the word) guitar of Mick Clarke; also the driving keys of Lou Martin (in the interim with Rory G of course) plus the bass of Mac McDonald. Drums on this set are either by Bazz Smith or Chris Sharley. I have had this set for a while pending a release date and I couldn't help but wonder - how is it they sound as angry and energetic as on the Sixties first Killing Floor, made at the time when they were touring with the likes of Freddie King? For the answers see a future interview I did this week with Bill but for the moment take my word that everything you may have liked about the original band is present and correct BUT on a bunch of either new or not previously recorded songs. Bill's song contributions reflect his concerns for humanity and The World whilst axemaster Clarke can be relied upon to produce a never ending stream of mean riffs and storming solo's, backing off to let the sly piano runs dance through the songs as the bassheavy rhythm stalks the numbers. 'Calm Down' is a great example of the playful and it must be said totally intuitive interplay this band always had and clearly have not lost. Younger listeners who caught on to the Blues via latterday Feelgood will find the Lee Brilleaux attitude carried on with style here. In a lot of ways the Dr F sound was presaged by Killing Floor and their contemporaries Steamhammer. So this set picks up the threads and the likes of blitzkrieg opener 'Burnout' and the easyrollin' 'Strange Love' will delight original fans and satisfy those new to Killing Floor. I have no doubt that any live performance will leave no audience member unconverted and for Mick Clarke fans this CD is further and quite unnecessary proof that his fame does not match up to his prowess. In short, a comeback you wouldn't want to throw back - just savour the bitterness in the delivery of 'Zero Tolerance' the title track, with it's slide guitar sneering across the break..Pete Sargeant
Blues in Britain www.bluesin britain.co.uk
Yes. this is the band from the late 60s / 70s, reformed some thirty years later! Original members Mick Clarke (gtr/voc) Bill Thorndycraft (vcl/hrp/gtr) Lou Martin (keys) and Stuart McDonald (bs) got back together but couldn't find the drummer (sounds a familiar story!) so co-opted Mick's longtime drummer Chris Sharley. In fact, during recording, the original drummer Bazz Smith got in touch so he does appear on a couple of tracks. There are 14 tracks, 12 new original songs and a pair of standards.
The band pick up where they left off all those years ago so this is high-energy blues-rock. Things kick off with a chugging rocker, "Burn Out", with clattering piano from Lou, Bill and Mick sharing the vocals and good harp and guitar. Another chugger follows, "Prozac Blues" with a nice steel guitar intro, liked this one. As I did the next track "Calm Down", a slow blues with excellent piano and some high-energy guitar work. "Sperm
Bandit" sees some more good piano, harp and slide guitar. "The Big Issue" and the title track are protest /issue songs, the first being sort of punk blues and the latter being an aggressive song. I wasn't so keen on these. The two covers are Slim Harpo's "Strange Love" and Sonny Boy's "Bring it on Home". Both are delivered with a nice rolling beat, both have good harp work and the latter good piano and guitar too making it an excellent closer to the CD.
Other favourite tracks are the rocker "Iron Ewe" - touches of "Cell Block 9" - and "Road of Diamonds" with grand solos all round, my pick of the CD. Good to see the band doing a whole lot of new material; and not just re-treads of their earlier tunes. A solid rhythm section and good solos from all. Lou's piano playing impressed, not only his solos but also his fills and background playing. Solid vocals from both Bill and Mick, with trademark high-energy guitar work from Mick and some useful suckin' and blowin' from Bill. Overall a good modern blues-rock album that comes with a recommended sticker!
Rating: 9 - R. Jim Greaves.
Customer review by John Yates from London
Improving with age
Amazingly this historic and under rated blues/rock band have come together again with basically the same line up as before. Ten new tracks of varying tempo plus a couple of blues standards make for a wonderful listening experience. They are playing for the love of their music and it comes over as one of the freshest blues rock albums for some time. With raw and raunchy vocals and mouth organ from Bill Thorndycroft and simply stunning guitar work by Mick Clarke the tracks re trace the historic roots of blues by commenting on the angst of our time from happy pills to oil wars. A great come back and worthy of many of the best bands around.
SMN News - Pure Metal News
Amazing thing, this: an unexpected new record from a band whose last was released in 1971! The sound is akin to Cream, late Yardbirds, Free, Taste, Alexis Korner, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, i.e. hard blues rock. It was a style that was all over England in the late sixties and which influence can most readily be felt in the debuts by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, so its metal connection need not be questioned. Certainly its validity in the 70s is beyond reproach, as the blues-based hard rock strain continued on in massive UK-borne successes like Bad Company and Foghat and in American stadium-fillers like Ted Nugent and Aerosmith.
This one, though, hearkens back to a slightly more purist early period, with many of the fourteen tracks herein (perhaps a bit too many to enjoy all at once) playing it close to a strict blues aesthetic, perhaps studiously so, like Canned Heat or sides three and four of Exile on Main Street. The two-and-four beat is in place, Nicky Hopkins-style piano tinkles throughout, a harmonica duels with vocal breaks, acoustic slide guitar pops its turtlehead up every now and again, and verses are repeated in couplets.
And then, out of nowhere but not disingenuously so, mad bursts of kinetically charged electric guitar are spurted over the thing, removing it from the humble, earthbound constraints of rudimentary blues and into the sanctified realm of hard rock. There, the lineage continues through ZZ Top, AC/DC, The Four Horsemen and American Dog, all groups steeped in tradition but not remanded to obsolescence. So, too, this one, with 'Zero Tolerance' 'Burnout' and 'Run On' all leaping from the speakers with an energy belying these fellows' certainly advanced years. If Clapton still managed to sound this vital, I would stop planning to strap a pipebomb to his groin.
Repeated caveat to the intolerant: this isn't metal. But, then again, neither are you. Rating: 8/10
ZERO TOLERANCE REHEARSAL & RECORDING SESSIONS
Some contemprary notes from Mick
Bill's thoughts about the Album:
"The songs on this album are about many of the above mentioned states which all of us in the band have at some time experienced, or still contend with to varying degrees.
In the UK during the year 2002, more people were prescribed anti-depressants for daily use than the total number of people who voted for Tony Blair's government!! That's a lot of people with the blues..."
Mick had the structure for this song with one of his many magical Riffs which he seems to produce like Armani produce quality suits. I wanted to write a song about "Burnout" a syndrome/phenomena never mentioned much before the mid 1990s but ubiquitous in the late 90s following the increase in expectations and workloads of professionals, especially in people professions such as the Police, Social work, and frontline medical workers and then extending to many other professions. This resulted in the remarkable increase in stress related problems such as Depression, Migraine, Asthma, IBS,Back pain etc and increased alcohol and Drug dependency. This leads on to the second song on the album...
which I had structured before the coming together of the band and is rather personal to me as it documents many events in my life especially the premature death of my sister who had taken on the task of caring for my disabled elderly mother who was very demanding not just because of her physical disability but more significantly, because of her enduring mental health problems. my sister was prescribed a cocktail of Prozac and Valium to help her cope with this complex and untenable situation.There are several million Full time carers in Britain today whose lives are devoted to and overwhelmed by the demands of the caring role and who save the government and Tax payer millions of pounds by their unpaid labour.
Bazz Smith flew in from his home in Switzerland to play on a couple of songs. This was jammed from nothing in one take thanks to our excellent engineer Lee Bowman having the sense to run the tapes, otherwise I am not confident we could have reproduced the feel on another take.I love Lou's piano break in the middle!!
was influenced by Dotun Adebayo's book and documentary "Sperm Bandit" about the modern day phenomena of some women acquiring the sperm of a male partner unbeknown to the man for the purpose of pregnancy with no intention of any further requirements of the man, which I thought was an interesting theme for what was originally Mick's song.
aka Bush'n'Blair..This was a song I had written before the band came together again ,written around 2000, and when we recorded it in 2003, we thought it best to retitle it as we we not confident that Mr Bush and Mr Blair would be in power for much longer at that time. So the Big Issue seemed an appropriate alternative title as the song is about so many "Big Issues." You can take your choice!!
I have always loved Slim Harpo's sound and consider him a greatly underrated blues man. This is one of my favourite Sim Harpo songs which Mick does great credit to on vocals and guitar
A term and political slogan used frequently by the media and politicians.I will say no more!!!
Running has been a significant part of my life in the past and to a lesser extent now, it was only logical for me to write about the joy and therapeutic value gained from running. Another wonderful riff and rocker from Mr Clarke..
Mac's idea ably co written by his partner Jan and given the Mick Clarke arrangement
What is it about you?
I had written this song many moons ago and it might ring a bell for those men who struggle to understand women. Lou's piano solo in the middle highlights one of his influences, the great Fats Domino.a very fine piano Solo Mr Martin!!! Thank You Lou.
Road of Diamonds
Essentially Micks song and one of my favourites on the album. I love Micks "Twangy guitar" in the middle. Very remininicent of the late great Duane Eddy.
Mac and Jan's song with a great arrangement from Mick and driven by the formidable Bazz Smith on Drums. Enjoy Mac's superb Bass!!
A song about a Blues hero of ours featuring another great Mick Clarke Riff and fine Bass playing from Mac.
Bring it on home
Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) has been a major influence on me ever since I had the privilege to witness him live at the Black cat club, Woolwich back in the sixties. I was delighted when the band agreed to do this on the album and hope you enjoy our version for which much credit must go to Mick for his arrangement..
Throughout the album we were fortunate to have Chris Sharley drum for us in the absence of Bazz. Chris in my opinion, is one of the finest Rock Blues drummers around and his solid drumming combines perfectly with Mac's imaginative Bass. Hopefully you will agree. Let us know if you enjoy the album.Let us know if you don't!!!
Bill Thorndycraft December 2004
Please note: Please direct any comments or issues regarding lyrics direct to Bill Thorndycraft.
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