Premiere: Rog & Pip – “From a Window” / “Warlord”
There's something noble about reissuing albums. The music industry is future-obsessed, so it's pleasing to see people donating their present to keep the past in place. This is especially heartening because reissues aren't an advantageous business avenue. You repress for love, not money. Heck, it's difficult enough for new records to be remembered when everyone shakes their Etch a Sketch at the end of the year. 40 year old tracks? Forget it. But some people don't forget. That's why, 40 years later, Rog & Pip are getting their premiere.
Rog & Pip were Roger Lomas (guitar) and Pip Whitcher (vocals/guitar), a studio duo who earned their veteran stripes in the Sorrows. You could say their standalone success was fleeting, yet that depends on your definition of success. For example, leaving behind legitimate physical evidence of existence is a career accomplishment most bands never reach. Rog & Pip checked that box a few times, issuing a single in 1971, "From a Window" (b/w "Warlord"), along with a couple more platters under their alternate Zips moniker later in the decade. Nonetheless, is that enough to justify the full compilation treatment?
Rise Above Relics think so. The reissues-only imprint of Lee Dorian's Rise Above Records are well-equipped to handle this sort of thing. They've rescued plenty of just-ahead/just-behind their time rockers from obscurity: Bang, Horse, Incredible Hog, Necromandus, and the Iron Maiden who was Iron Maiden before Iron Maiden, among others. Those aren't mere curios either. Relics' have proven their proto-gold scouting bona fides. Therefore, you can trust if Rog & Pip were worth the effort of the former Napalm Death/Cathedral frontman, they'll be worth your effort too.
Spoiler: Relics' winning streak continues, although the assembled Our Revolution is admittedly light on interesting material for those who only like it heavy. Rog & Pip's strut in the early days was comparable to a proto-metal stomper, not unlike Sir Lord Baltimore with a lower BAC. Those songs are sure to land. However, the majority of the compilation consists of Rog & Pip transitioning into a muscular glam rocker that could've opened for Slade. That's a harder sell.
Still, the poppier tunes aren't lacking for quality. Rog knew his way around a recording console — something serving him well as a Grammy-winning producer — so everything sounds fuller than similar archeological discoveries. For instance, the coulda-been-Kiss crawl of highlight "Gold" is layered with all manner of squiggly "Dazed and Confused" string scratches, displaying painstaking dedication to the details in the age of analog. Plus, the two-piece's overall rowdiness and petrol-soaked guitar tone means no one is confusing Rog & Pip for Showaddywaddy.
That said, metalhead, you're here for two songs.
"From a Window"'s opening riff is the kind of stuff keeping guitar teachers in business. On the stinging lead scale, it holds its own next to Leaf Hound or Truth & Janey, which means it's totally Led Zeppelin II and that's totally okay. Pip goes for Plant's chest tone, burning up his vocal chords with a blue-eyed wail. Rog & Pip have enough six-string firepower to add up to a Page. The fact the track only clocks in at three minutes is criminal. It's a densely packed three minutes, though. Forced to jam a jam onto a single side, "From a Window" is strengthened by its brevity.
"Warlord," on the other hand, is a battering ram of knuckle-dragging, proto-metal simplicity. Well, until its bridge. There, Rog & Pip get dynamic. The song is reset by a hushed bluesy groove. Then they build to a "Heartbreaker" blow-out in the space of 30 seconds. You could see another band eternally vamping on the countdown. Rog & Pip's single-imposed constraints KO the bloat of their contemporaries. Because there's less fat to droop and decay, the songs age better. Thus, 40 years later, their debut single spins again on a metal blog.
"From a Window" and "Warlord" appear on Rog & Pip's Our Revolution. The record will be released June 24 by Rise Above Relics. The vinyl copy comes with a bonus seven inch. You can preorder the album now.