SAHB: Heavy Metal Vaudeville

SAHB: Heavy Metal Vaudeville
Authored By John Nicholson
One of the eclectic 70s most radical bands was SAHB. They were born out of late 60s group Tear Gas. Alex Harvey had been around from 10 years and toured with his big soul band. Together they made extraordinary music which straddled heavy rock Brechtian theatre and vaudeville . Guitarist Zal Cleminson could lay down a cutting riff. At times they were almost prog rock swapping solos between guitar and keys. This is best heard on Give My Compliments To The Chef on the live album which gives a flavour of the brilliance of the band on stage. 


I saw them at Newcastle City Hall in 1976 supported by Pat Travers. They were hitting a peak of popularity and were really tight. Alex conducted the gig like a ringmaster eithtail cat and sword. He was a British Alice Cooper in a way. He spray painted Vambo Rools on a fake wall then tore the wall down. All the while the band led by Zals Gibson SG played out a killer soundtrack

The Penthouse Tapes, a collection of cover versions, released in 76 was popular, reaching number 14. Tomorrow belongs To Me came out in 1975 and hit #9 in the UK, their best seller. Alex left and rejoined for Rock Drill but the magic was diminished. It’s a shame they broke up at the end of the decade because a more visual era was coming which would have suited them perfectly. 

The aggression they brought was in the roots of punk. This was no hippy band. They were a gang on a mission. All their albums are worth a listen. But Tommorrow….. is exceptional and the live album, though it should be a double, shows you how killer they were on stage.

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