Review: Derringer – ‘Derringer Live’

By Alle Royale

Usually remembered as a sidekick guitarist for the Winter brothers, Johnny and Edgar, Rick Derringer is possibly one of the most talented American guitar players of his generation. Starting a career as a teen one hit wonder (remember ‘Hang On Sloopy’ by The McCoys?) didn’t prove to be much of a curse for Rick, who was able to alternate his artistic output between soft rock efforts, as debut ‘All American Boy’, that spawned the hit single ‘Rock’n’Roll Hoochie Koo’, and long tenures with the famous albino blues brothers, that gained him artistic credit also as a revered songwriter.

Derringer, the band, with a young Vinny Appice on drums, was his attempt to define and affirm his figure as a hard blues guitar hero and leader of a smoking rock quartet, a la Led Zeppelin, completed by Danny Johnson on second guitar and Kenny Aaronson, previously with Dust, on bass. After releasing a couple of great studio albums, most notably the superb ‘Sweet Evil’, the popular method arrived in ’77 with, the incendiary, ‘Derringer Live’ and its iconic cover and blistering live rendition of eight classic Derringer penned tracks.

If songs like ‘Let Me In’ or ‘Still Alive And Well’, being some of Johnny Winter’s best aces at the time, were already classics in their own rights, what really sets apart these and the other tracks from the original, pallid studio counterparts, is Rick’s six strings furious assault. Assisted in his mission by a proper hard rocking band (soon to become, minus Derringer himself, the cult trio Axis), delivering the goods with sweet and youthful enthusiasm. Don’t expect the sweetened approach of Rick’s solo albums, or the funk rock leanings of his successful experience with the Edgar Winter Band. Everything here conjures to bring the hard blues holy demon alive, that, even through the ever present instrumental skills, roars the primal screams of rock’n’roll.

Despite songs like ‘Beyond The Universe’ demonstrated the force of the band as a unit,after this live album and the dreadful and uninspired ‘If I Weren’t So Romantic, I’d Shoot You’, Rick Derringer decided to go on with his own name and his own vision. Leaving the legacy of the band confined to a brief, but intense, three years period, that most rockers still regard as his best ever.

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