the band are among the best on the British club circuit right now.
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock
As good a rock album as you could hope to hear.
Alastair Riddell, Kerrang!
an unpretentious hard rock record, relying on strong songs and powerful performances.
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock
Maybe they are now about to blow up a storm …
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock
a long-lost and quite wonderful doom-tinged hard rock band
Dave Ling, Classic Rock
rightful heirs to the Led Zep/Bad Company bluesrock crown... A band to be proud of and pose-free..
Pete Sargeant, Blues Matters
The current incarnation…doesn’t let the legend down
Malcolm Dome , Classic Rock
LEAF HOUND - LIVE IN JAPAN
For the uninitiated, Leaf Hound are often described as a proto-metal heavy rock band whose “seminal” 1971 album ‘Growers of Mushroom’ influenced the development of both heavy metal and stoner rock.
‘Growers of Mushroom’ has rightly been regarded as “a bona fide worldwide cult classic” and “one of the true lost gems of the early British hard rock scene.” Reportedly recorded and mixed in one 11 hour session in 1970, the band had already split up before it hit the racks the following year.
The current version of the band is still led ably by vocalist Peter French – the only original member left. Post ʾ70s split, French plied his trade with a host of ‘name’ musicians and bands (Atomic Rooster and Cactus among them), before a Record Collector retrospective, an official CD release for ‘Growers of Mushroom’, and a groundswell of fresh interest, persuaded him to put a new version of the band together. Leaf Hound have been active again since 2004. The current line-up includes Luke Rayner (guitar), Jim Rowland (drums) and Peter Herbert (bass). Rayner and Rowland were part of the line-up that recorded the 2007 ‘comeback’ album ‘Unleashed’ with French, and Ed Pearson on bass.
Astonishingly, ‘Live in Japan 2012’, captured over two hot and sweaty nights in Tokyo in July 2012, is the first officially available live recording of Leaf Hound. And, it has to be said, it’s an impressive CD/DVD set.
The DVD features an 11 track, 68 minute “full concert”. The DVD features 5 tracks from the classic ‘Growers of Mushroom’ album, 5 from 2007’s ‘Unleashed’ set (including ‘Breakthrough’ from French’s Atomic Rooster days, in memory of Vincent Crane) and a heavy rocking and doomy version of the Howlin’ Wolf standard ‘Evil’ (which French performed and recorded with Cactus). The CD contains seven of the 11 tracks, and clocks in at around 38 minutes.
The DVD footage itself is rather good, taking you ‘up close and personal’ in a small but seemingly packed venue, and creating a strong sense of what it must have been like to be there at the time. (I particularly like the shots from behind the drum kit.)
There’s an energy and crispness to both the recording and the performance. Despite its heavy early ʾ70s blues-rock vibe, the music sounds fresh and vital. French’s vocal performance is strong and commanding, and his ‘young guns’ are clearly into it. Rayner and ‘new boy’ Herbert smile and groove throughout, while Rowland anchors proceedings superbly and with the minimum of fuss.
Personal favourites include opener ‘One Hundred and Five Degrees’ (nice solo), the classic ‘Freelance Fiend’ (though I ain’t gonna live like one), ‘Barricades’ (“smash ʾem down”), the bluesy ‘With a Minute to Go’ and ‘Growers of Mushroom’ (“nobody could tell”).
One of the most striking features of the set for me is the seamless way in which the material from ‘Growers ...’ and ‘Unleashed’ seems to mesh, despite the considerable time gap and shift in personnel between the albums. There is no let up here in either quality or vibe and it all makes for a coherent and satisfying listening (and viewing) experience.
New label Ripple Music specialises in bringing “classic rocking bands to a modern audience”. They’ve certainly released a nice package here, which, it is to be hoped, will do the band proud.
I’m all for bands keeping the truth alive and reclaiming their rightful place in rock history. ‘Live in Japan’ does more than this though – Leaf Hound still rock!
Michael Anthony, Uber Rock, January 2014
Leaf Hound: Live in Japan 2012 (CD/DVD)
Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Free, Humble Pie, Grand Funk Railroad, Cactus...all well respected and highly influential bands from the early '70s heavy rock scene, but there's another act who were just as important but never seemed to get the acclaim, and that was Leaf Hound. Formed out of the ashes of Black Cat Bones (a band that originally featured eventual Free members Paul Kossoff & Simon Kirke, as well as Rod Price of Foghat), Leaf Hound released their debut album Growers of Mushroom in 1971, a precursor to much of the heavy blues rock/heavy metal/stoner rock that was to come, but quickly broke up and disappeared, seemingly forever. Fast forward to 2004, where vocalist Peter French (who also spent time in Atomic Rooster and Cactus after Leaf Hound) reassembled the band with guitarist Luke Rayner, drummer Jimmy Rowland, and bassist Ed Pearson, which culminated in the very fine Unleashed record in 2007.
In July of 2012, Leaf Hound made their way to FEVER, Shin-daita in Tokyo, Japan for a series of concerts, resulting in this super charged live DVD/CD set. Peter Herbert has now taken over bass duties, and he joins French, Rayner, and Rowland for a set of Leaf Hound classics, some of the newer pieces, as well as select Cactus & Atomic Rooster songs. On the DVD you get an 11 song set, and the band is in fine form, led by the still very capable vocals of French, who sounds like a man 20 years younger. Rayner is an excellent guitarist, well schooled in the blues as well as heavy rock, and he rips out plenty of crunchy riffs and sizzling solos on such stellar tracks as "Freelance Friend", "Barricades", "Stop, Look, and Listen", "Work My Body", and "Growers of Mushroom". French gives a nice tribute to his old mate in Atomic Rooster, the late Vincent Crane, with a crushing version of "Breakthrough", and leads the band through a raging rendition of the Cactus classic "Evil". If you have any doubt that Leaf Hound can create valid heavy rock music here in this day and age, just listen to the song "One Hundred and Five Degrees", one of the more raucous tunes from Unleashed and given royal treatment here. The quality of the DVD is quite decent, and though not shot on a huge budget, the sound quality is good and the video is strong. Despite the fact that French is much older than the rest of the band, he's still quite energetic on stage and his voice sounds great. The rest of the group are tight and powerful, perfectly recreating those classic early '70s hard rock sounds.
The CD unfortunately only contains about 38 minutes of the full show that is seen on the DVD due to original Japanese version of the LP/CD having a limit of 40 minutes of music to fit on that medium when it was mastered. It will be a minor frustration for some but at least the full performance appears on the DVD.
Leaf Hound prove here that '70s styled heavy rock is something they still do well, and very well at that. Let's hope this outfit has more new music up their sleeve in the years to come.
Pete Pardo, Sea Of Tranquility, January 2014
Long time readers know, that I, like many metalheads, got my start in the genre with a healthy love for proto metal bands like Led Zeppelin, a love that continues to this day. And while there are many modern day imitators it is rare to find a band who are actually from that epoch who are also wonderfully underground. Leaf Hound is one such band and their new release Live in Japan forty years after their all time cult classic Grower of Mushrooms. Recorded one day in 2012 this release showcases all of the magic of those early 70s hard rock bands and proves it can last for years on end.
Their is a certain vitality to be found in Leaf Hounds sound that proves that these guys never stopped believing in rock and roll. Unlike many of their contemporaries who are pretty clearly just doing it for the money, Leaf Hound are proving themselves to be hard rock lords, years after their prime. With the seven tracks that make up Live in Japan Leaf Hound manage to distill the glory of those early years of the genre. Exciting and dynamic, these songs easily reach out and show the listener the power of this band. One key thing to note is that the production is absolutely stellar, and aside from a few minor issues with drum sound Leaf Hound are allowed to rock as passionately as they did in years past.
What else is to be said then? With chunky and powerful riffs, Leaf Hound made a name for themselves in the 70s. Now, in the sixth decade of their existence they have put out the sort of live release that will one day go down in legend next to the bands classic albums. A triumphant return from a band who were never given the respect they truly deserved I hope this preludes new material. Their new line up might even be better than the classic one and the way that Leaf Hound roar out of the gate from track one suggests that maybe we too should take down our barricades and embrace the rock and roll magic of this group.
Matt Baggins, Two Guys Metal, January 2014
Vocalist Peter French went on to spend time with Atomic Rooster, Cactus and Randy Pie as well as making a solo album 'Ducks In Flight' which featured guest musicians Brian Robertson, Micky Moody, Kenny Jones and even Joe Brown but with the onset of punk, little was heard of French after the end of the seventies.
Then in 2004 after a chance meeting with drummer and fan Jim Rowland, Peter French reformed Leaf Hound with a brand new line up featuring the clear fluid guitar work of young Luke Rayner. A new album came out three years later with 'Unleashed' which received rave reviews.
Leaf Hound remain something of a cult band who gig sporadically and get invited to play such festivals as the Sweden Rock Festival, Roadburn and the Desert Fest.
In July 2012 the band were invited over to Japan to perform for two 'ot 'n sweaty nights at the Fever Club in Tokyo. Both nights were recorded and last year Captain Trip Records released a special green vinyl along with a DVD of the performance for release in Japan only.
Ripple Music have licenced it for the rest of the world with new packaging and a different cover. The CD comes with the DVD and surprisingly the CD only features the live recordings that fitted on the original single vinyl thus we only get seven tracks on the audio disc, whilst the DVD features almost the whole entire set that was played on those two nights.
Bizarrely the track listing on the CD is not in the correct running order but thankfully the crowd sound between the songs is neatly edited together thus making for a great proper sounding live album. The jewel in this package is the DVD which is professionally filmed by the Japanese with multi camera angles and have captured the band in action with clinical sound.
Peter French still has a voice and a physical body of a man many years younger and really expresses himself on the bluesy workout of 'Work My Body'. Later day material such as 'Man With The Moon In Him' which features one of many exquisite solos from Rayner sits comfortably with the older classics.
'Freelance Fiend' is a timeless riff monster and homage is paid to French's contribution to both Atomic Rooster and Cactus with hard rocking versions of 'Breakthrough' and 'Evil'.
With Leaf Hound's work rate you could be waiting for another couple of decades before you'll hear another studio album so this very fine live package is a welcome addition where a new breathe of life is brought to these songs.
This is a fine start for the novice to discover what Leaf Hound have to offer. There is also a very limited edition of only a hundred copies of a Splatter vinyl available that comes without the visual disc. Both the CD and the DVD will certainly make you want to 'Stop, Look And Listen'.
Mark Taylor, Metal Talk, January 2014
LEAF HOUND - The Unicorn London
'Still got bite to go with the bark'
The days when Leaf Hound could attract a crowd on the basis of their cult album, Growers Of Mushroom, have long gone. So why do people still pack out venues such as this? Simple, Leaf Hound are an excellent live band.
Only frontman Pete French remains from the early 1970's, but this current line-up is so sharp and defined that nobody moans about the absence of others.
Guitarist Luke Rayner is among the best at evoking the sound of that era, while also offering his own stoner vibe. And with French proving he's still got the pipes to deliver, everyone is quickly drawn into the groove.
The set mixes up songs going back to that Growers Of Mushroom album with newer material from 2007's Unleashed comeback album. It all melds together well, as does an extended reworking of Atomic Rooster's classic, Breakthrough, and the hour long set is tight, yet also leaves enough breathing space for spontaneity.
Climaxing with a combination of comparative newbie Too Many Rock'n'Roll Times and Growers Of Mushroom itself, and helped by an impressive sound, this is a performance that proves the band are among the best on the British club circuit right now.
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock. March 2011 edition
LEAF HOUND - THE UNICORN, LONDON 08.01.11
Leaf Hound's 1971 album Growers Of Mushroom might not have made them stars, but its low-strung grooves went on to make the band a cult favourite with the stoner rock scene. It's a little disappointing then, that tonight's set is weighed in the favour of their 2007 comeback record Unleashed. To be fair, though, the new material is precisely the sort of chummy blues-rock you'd expect from a singer (and sole original member) Pete French's vintage, and if your local pub band knocked out a tune like Stop Look and Listen, you'd do just that. A refusal to coast on nostalgia is no bad thing, and this incarnation of the band cant be faulted in terms of musicianship. With Peter in fine voice, and genuinely chuffed with the crowd's enthusiastic reaction, it's impossible not to warm to Leaf Hound tonight.
Olly Thomas, Kerrang! January 22 2011
LEAF HOUND - LONDON CAMDEN UNICORN 8th January 2011
It's the first Saturday night out of the New Year and there's no better way to spend it than at the Unicorn in Camden where some quality free live music has been laid on via a low-key headlining appearance from legendary rock band Leaf Hound. A band that is playing one of their rarest of rare gigs to an appreciative packed out venue.
Prince Of Pratts had the job of entertaining the early birds. The London stoners sounding like Hawkwind being dragged backwards through the hedge by the Old Bill in an attempt to prevent them from reaching Stonehenge, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. These guys have something magic in their tea and there's no need for a sweetener.
Outside having a fag, I asked a friend 'who is this on the juke box?'' he then reliably informed me it was actually the second support band who were on stage, I mean they sounded that good from outside!!!!! Ratz Ass sound like that band that eventually moved in next door to Motorhead once the lawn had died. Great fuzzy greased up slabs of rock sounding like either a stoned MC5 or Edgar Broughton Band high on speed. Ratz Ass may need a name change if they want to be taken a bit more seriously, but they were certainly very infectious.
Leaf Hound have something of what you might call "a cult following" and are a major draw at some of the European festivals. Those in the know are fully aware of what a special band Leaf Hound are, but here in the UK they are still relatively a best kept secret
You may have read articles about their classic debut released some forty years ago, the seminal 'Growers Of Mushroom' which is a milestone for the stoner rock community, but stoner rock is not exactly what Leaf Hound are all about. Upon release back in 1970, the album was referred to as "competition for Led Zeppelin." Trouble was, due to the fact that Decca Records took their time releasing the album, Leaf Hound had already disbanded and there was no band to promote the product, hence there were meagre rather than mega sales of the record. This in turn has now resulted in the rarity of actually owning an original copy, and it now changes hands on Ebay for in excess of a few grand squire. Following this split Leaf Hound's singer Peter French went of to join Vincent Crane in Atomic Rooster before getting 'ot 'n sweaty with American rockers Cactus. Thankfully a few years back French decided to resurrect Leaf Hound with a spanking new line up who recorded the album 'Unleashed' which received some glowing reviews, but lady luck hasn't been on Leaf Hound's side and the band still remain something a hidden gem.
Originally from Battersea, French has one of those typical rich bluesy classic English voices that is right up there with the likes of Rodgers and Coverdale. The music blending the riffs of Free and Led Zeppelin with every hook is a winner. The newer material sits easily alongside the songs written some thirty seven years before. Guitarist Luke Rayner meanwhile looks like a young Peter Frampton and he certainly shows us the way to being a rock star with an exemplary style that really sets him apart. 'Sad Road To The Sea' in particular sees some great interplay from Rayner and bassist Ed Pearson. And in 'Freelance Fiend' the band has one of the meanest riffs you will ever hear, and firmly belongs at the beginning of any seventies rock compilation. Also included tonight is 'Breakthrough' which has been re-worked from the Atomic Rooster version and also featuring some more stunning work from Rayner (it's getting a bit of a habit me saying this).
The lucky ones at the Unicorn tonight were treated to a fine lesson in hard classic rock and no one's record collection is complete without some Leaf Hound. This is one band that I would love to see at a festival like High Voltage because they are quite simply one very unique and very special band.
Set list : 105 Degrees / Overtime / Drowned My Life In Fear / Stop Look Listen / Man With The Moon In Him / Too Many Rock 'N Roll Times / Sad Road To The Sea / Freelance Fiend / Breakthrough / Growers Of Mushroom ...Encore ..Stagnant Pool
Mark Taylor, Uber Rock
Unicorn, Camden 8 January 2011
For the second year running, classic rockers Leaf Hound began the year in some style with an intimate, not to mention free, gig in the rear of this Camden pub that was heaving to the gills.
From the original lineup that released the 1970 album Growers of Mushroom that later became a cult classic that sold for serious money, only singer Pete French remains. But the good news is that, unlike some of his contemporaries, his warm, bluesy voice is undimmed by the passage of the years, and on this occasion he seemed in particularly exuberant form, regularly adding extra ad libs to his vocal delivery. My only complaint was that from the back of a thickly packed crowd, I could not hear his rather muffled between song intros over the noise.
They opened with 105 degrees and Overtime from 2007's Unleashed comeback (oddly still described by Pete as 'new' songs, and other than Drowned My Life in Fear (or 'Drowned My Wife in Beer' as he quipped) with its Sabbath-esque riff, the first half of the set was dominated by that album, with Luke Rayner reeling off his typical fluent, soulful solos during the likes of Man with the Moon in Him and Too Many Rock n Roll Times.
As the set wore on, the excellent band were given more scope to stretch out and show their chops, notably on Sad Road to the Sea with bassist Ed Pearson and Luke trading instrumental passages in a manner reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin, the massive riffage of Freelance Fiend which brought the biggest cheer of the night to date, and their guitar heavy reworking of Atomic Rooster's Breakthrough.
Growers of Mushroom, the song that above all others has made them legendary figures among stoner rock fans, was a psychedelic freak out propelled forward by Jimmy Rowland's drumming which contributed to the song's dramatic atmosphere.
As a bonus, they squeezed in an encore of Stagnant Pool, with another classic riff, which like many of the debut album songs has to be played less frequently these days.
Anyone who appreciates the great early pioneers of heavy rock -Zeppelin, Purple, Sabbath and Free - would be delighted by Leaf Hound. Yet while it was nice to see the band in this intimate atmosphere, they belong on a bigger stage so spread the word.
Review by Andy Nathan, Get Ready To Rock
Leaf Hound – Underworld, London (17/09/10)
This was the fourth time I had the honor of watching Leaf Hound in London. As always, these guys provided a first-class performance and the funny thing is, despite having only two albums to take songs from, they can still play around with the setlist every gig. I mean, they didn’t play ‘Stagnant Pool’ and ‘Nickels & Dimes’ this time, two of my favourites, but I only came to realize that the next day!
I was shamefully careless enough to get to the venue just after 9pm, missing the opening band, Tygers of Pan Tang. But people were talking only good things about their set, and it was clear they contributed significantly to the very good turn up at the Underworld.
When Leaf Hound went on stage playing ‘105 Degrees’ and ‘Overtime’, both from their comeback album Unleashed, the crowd instantly understood how lucky they were to be there. But it was with the next one, ‘Drowned My Life In Fear’ – from the seminal debut Growers of Mushroom – that they proved to be not just some ‘quite good’ rock band. This tune has a dragging riff played repeatedly during the verse, building up the tension, until it blasts into a dark blues chorus with razor sharp guitar licks that cut through the twin bass lines and vocals like a samurai cuts butter with a hot knife. It sounded so intense live it could have led someone to a serious bad trip if he/she took the wrong drugs… Well, in case that crap happened to somebody, things probably went back to normal with ‘Stop Look and Listen’, which is something a bit more radio friendly. A couple of people were asking the band to turn the bass and vocals up a bit just before ‘The Man With The Moon In Him’ was about to take form, and when everybody thought that the Hounds couldn’t sound better…
Ed Pearson is a very creative bassist and forms a very solid rhythmic section alongside drummer Jimmy Rowland, while young Luke Rayner is ace on guitar and lays groovy riffs and inspired solos (his best lead of the evening was the one on ‘Sad Road To The Sea’ when he really let it rip). With such team of musicians, even an average singer would get the band a few gigs now and then but hey, this is no average singer. Peter French is a charismatic, tuned and soulful frontman who puts to shame many 25 year old wannabies. Watch and learn people, this is not something you get just from participating in stupid contests or attending workshops.
Probably the two more requested songs of both eras, ‘Too Many Rock And Roll Times’ and ‘Freelance Fiend’, came one after another and sure enough were well received. The cool version of Atomic Rooster’s ‘Breakthrough’ sounded impeccable (apart from the usual fuck up by Pete who started singing at the wrong part, only to stop, look, and listen and start laughing as he got away from the mic) as always and ‘Growers Of Mushroom’ finished the set on a high. But the band decided to come back on stage, even though the lights were already on, to play ‘Stray’ and get everybody – apart from the venue’s manager – extra happy.
Denis Augusto, Rock Connection
Leaf Hound – Underworld, London (17/09/10)
After a very short interval, Leaf Hound were introduced by Darius Drewe Shimon, the former Underworld promoter who was instrumental in bringing original singer Pete French into contact with a younger group of musicians who could continue the legacy. Indeed it was a night for nostalgia as Pete reminded the crowd it was at the same venue in 2004 that they played their first gig supporting Nazareth.
The sound was crisp and clear by Underworld standards as they opened with a couple of 'new' songs, as Pete called them, in 105 Degrees and Overtime, even though the 'Unleashed' album is now over three years old.
The Man with the Moon in Him and Stop, Look and Listen showed off the marvellously fluid and soulful guitar tomes of left handed guitarist Luke Rayner, while fans of the legendary 1970 Growers of Mushroom album would have been delighted by a new arrangement of Sad Road to the Sea, which tested the virtuoso rhythm section of Ed Pearson and Jimmy Rowland.
Indeed one of the strengths of Leaf Hound is the way they can switch between relatively straight ahead tunes like Too Many Rock n roll Times (a signature tune for GRTR!'s intrepid Mark Taylor and Noel Buckley?) to longer, almost progressive jams such as their reworking of Atomic Rooster's Breakthrough, or the out and out heaviness of a song like Freelance Fiend, with a massive riff Iommi or Page would have been proud to write.
Looking the classic rocker in his ringed jacket, Pete was on great vocal form - helped by the soundman responding to a crowd request midway through to turn up the vocal mike, though it had sounded alright to me. Indeed of the many Leaf Hound shows I have seen, the whole band excelled themselves on this occasion.
The name connection may be a coincidence, but the 'Hound' and the Tygers provided the best double bill of Animal Magic since the heyday of Johnny Morris and Terry Nutkins.
105 degrees/Overtime/Drowned my Life in Fear/ Stop Look and Listen/ Man with the Moon in Him/ Sad Road to the Sea/Too Many Rock n Roll Times/Freelance Fiend/ Breakthrough /Growers of Mushroom. Encore: Stray
Andy Nathan, Get Ready To Rock
LEAF HOUND - THE UNICORN, CAMDEN, LONDON Jan 2010
A gig early in the year is always just the thing to lift the post-Christmas blues, especially in a freezing cold winter such as this one, and a rare one-off date by Leaf Hound was just the thing to send spirits soaring.
Theirs is an amazing history: despite having the raw quality of contemporaries Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they never made it only for their sole album, 1970's Growers of Mushroom, to later become a legendary ‘lost' LP selling for four figure sums on eBay.
Wind forward nearly a quarter of a century and a chance meeting in the Heavy Load club off Oxford Street led to singer Pete French forming a new version of the band, that has survived to this day and released a fine follow-up, Unleashed, in 2007.
The most remarkable thing is the extent to which the band boast a dedicated younger following, who contributed to a healthy three figure crowd in this Camden pub despite the gig receiving little publicity.
Old and new songs blended seamlessly, beginning with Stagnant Pool and Drowned My life in Fear from the debut, but moving on to now familiar newer tunes in 105 degrees, and Overtime, guitar hotshot Luke Rayner delivering a great solo with his typical fluency.
Despite now being in his sixties, Pete's warm, bluesy voice is still in good nick, and he still looks the seventies rocker with his hair and fringed leather jacket.
Too Many Rock'n'roll Times, a Crossroads for the new millennium, is still their catchiest number, but a couple of things struck me more than I could recall from seeing them previously. Some of the new songs, notably The Man with the Moon in Him, had a much heavier edge than on CD, while in the latter part of the set, the band really got into a jamming groove for Freelance Fiend and their guitar heavy revamp of Atomic Rooster's Breakthrough.
Bassist Ed Pearson and drummer Jimmy Rowland both showed great energy, not just holding down the beat but creatively shaping the sound in the manner of a Cream, Mountain or Zeppelin.
They closed with the psychedelic freak out of Growers of Mushroom, the song that more than any other built their legend in stoner rock circles, yet appearances can be deceptive: in truth it is actually a story of a man whose wife poisoned him with inedible fungi.
The Leaf Hound legend is very much alive and well, and some appearances on the festival circuit this summer would in my view be a great way to mark their '40 years'.
Andy Nathan, Get Ready To Rock
LEAF HOUND - LATEST MUSIC BAR, BRIGHTON Sept 09
After witnessing their impressive set at the recent Cambridge Rock Festival, I decided to make the trip down to the seaside resort of Brighton to see Leaf Hound play a gig at the rather intimate and oddly named Latest Music Bar. Just a stone's throw from the seafront, this is a great little venue which had great acoustics with an in-house soundman who gave the band a crystal clear sound.
For those of you not initiated with Leaf Hound, the band first released the LP 'Growers Of Mushrooms' on the Decca label way back in 1971, a year after they actually split. Singer Pete French went on to join Atomic Rooster and later Cactus, and the album was forgotten in the depths of time until years later when many critics were raving about the debut citing it as the best album Led Zeppelin never made. Q magazine quoted it as the most collectable rock album ever, and recently a copy sold for £2,700 on auction site Ebay.
Which brings us to 2009, only Pete French remains from the original line up, but has amassed a band that bring full credit to the Leaf Hound name that is talked in hushed tones amongst connoisseur rock fans.
Featuring aspiring guitarist Luke Rayner, who has a great future ahead of himself, the band first played a few numbers from their critically acclaimed second release from 2007 'Unleased' . An album released 38 years after the first album, when the young guitarist wasn't even born.
The newer songs are more in the Bad Company vein and are a little more polished, but no one can argue with the quality of songs like 'The Man With The Moon In Him' where Luke Rayner excells himself with a transcending solo. Pete French is one of Britain's best kept secrets, with his bluesy rich voice, who should be mentioned in the same breath as Paul Rodgers or an early David Coverdale.
'Sad Road To The Sea' was interpreted from the 70's original ,which was improved greatly with a thumping mid-section bass line from Ed Pearson. 'Freelance Fiend' has a great riff that cuts right through you. 'Too Many Rock'N'Roll Times' another newie sounds a little like Eric Claptons 'Crossroads', but you can't deny liking this rocking number.
Pete French stated that the band only play original songs, but they do play a track that the singer originally performed with Atomic Rooster, 'Breakthrough' a track that Leaf Hound have newly recorded was magnificent.
I was disappointed at the Cambridge Rock Festival when the band had run out of time to perform the title track from that first release, but tonight it was performed in all it's glory. The fans that had made the journey here tonight, many from London, were treated to a quality night out.
Mark Taylor, Get Ready To Rock
LEAF HOUND - MELLOBOAT 2008 CONCERT REVIEW
2008-03-10 at The 21st Annivesary Schizoid Boat - Silja Symphony
Review by Harald "BigRedMachine" Bjervamoen
Going on stage as the last band, at 2.00 AM on a two day boat trip across the Baltic Sea is not an easy task, but Leaf Hound grit their teeth and played a blinder.
They kicked off the proceedings with "One Hundred And Five Degrees", a classic, heavy blues number. The first part of the concert was dominated by songs from their new album, "Unleashed". A personal favourite, "The Man With the Moon In Him" elevated the concert from good to excellent.
Leaf Hound's rhythm section, Jimmy Rowland (drums) and Ed Pearson (bass) is tight, powerful and solid as a rock, giving plenty of room for guitarist Luke Rayner to show off his skills. Peter French, bandleader, vocalist and sole survivor from the original line-up is a perfect, gentleman-like front man. Despite some minor throat problems his vocal delivery was just about faultless.
Opeth's keyboard player Per Wiberg were invited on stage for a lengthy version of "Breakthrough", the classic Atomic Rooster number. Sporting a headband, he looked like the late and great Vincent Crane. A highlight indeed, only surpassed by a magnificent version of "Growers Of Mushroom", on which the band whipped up a storm with some incredibly heavy and psychedelic jamming.
Leaf Hound's concert was a fitting finale to a great and progressive musical weekend.
LEAF HOUND - UNLEASHED
Finally, after 37 years, legendary cult band Leaf Hound has released a new album "Unleashed".
The 2007 incarnation of the band may only contain one of the original members, vocalist Peter French, but he is easily the most important. This time he surrounds himself with hotshot new comer Luke Rayner (guitars), Jimmy Rowland (drums) and Ed Pearson (bass).
The bands legendary debut album "Growers of Mushrooms" was a intense, bluesy and rowdy affair, but the new album has a more classic early 70's British hard rock feel to it.
Peter French (still) has a very powerful voice and I rank him, together with Paul Rodgers, as the best of the still active "old" brigade of rock vocalists.
That he and the new band is a capable and tight unit is demonstrated right from the start with the controlled yet hard rocking “One Hundred And Five Degrees” and “Barricades”. On the outstanding third track, “The Man With the Moon in Him”, Luke Rayner is given room to show his guitar skills with a scorching and wah-wah drenched solo. The mood changes for the moody and surging “Nickels and Dimes”. After this its back to blues-rocking mood again with “Stop Look And Listen”, “Overtime” and “Too many Rock’n Roll Times”. The tempo and mood changes once again for the almost Black Crowes sounding “Deception”
There is not one duff track on “Unleashed”, but if I have to pick a favourite it has to be the “heavy” reworking of the Atomic Rooster classic “Breakthrough” that ends the album.
The production, done by French and Rayner themselves is quite simply superb.
It’s not “Growers of Mushrooms ” part II but a mighty fine album well worth your Nickels and Dimes.
BigRedMachine, Rockprog.com (Sweden)
LEAF HOUND - UNLEASHED
Leaf Hound's debut, Growers Of Mushroom, was roundly ignored upon its release in 1970. It took a while for people for people to realise just how good it was, by which time copies were changing hands for a grand. Sole remaining original member Pete French was a singer on a par with the likes of Paul Rodgers and David Coverdale , and saw stints with Cactus and Atomic Rooster; but now back with a new band - rather than looking back - their timeless classic rock finds them soulful, heartfelt and perhaps surprisingly, Mr. French sounding better than a man of his age should. As good a rock album as you could hope to hear.
Alastaire Riddell, Kerrang!
LEAF HOUND - UNLEASHED
Nearly 40 years after their cult debut, 1970's proto-stoner masterpiece Growers Of Mushroom, Britain's Leaf Hound finally release their second album. To say that the planet's been dramatically overhauled and renovated in that time is an understatement.
So, has the wait been worthwhile? Well, Unleashed is a classy album that manages to be retro in an Atomic Rooster/Budgie style, while also keeping pace with modern day heroes like Orange Goblin and Firebird. Only vocalist Pete French remains from the original line-up, yet Leaf Hound have retained an enviable 1970s authenticity and spirit.
This is un unpretentious hard rock record, relying on strong songs and powerful performances. Admirable retro qualities indeed.
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock
LEAF HOUND - UNLEASHED
Reunions, reunions…the world is awash with them ! Personally, I found Take That bad enough the first time, I don’t want them back with even more corny songs and still trying to dance. Led Zep perform again, but not one new song ! Likewise Cream …and then our friend Stink trots out his Police songbook once again, still failing to pitch any of them in a key that suits his voice and still wasting the great Andy Summers….pah! BUT !!! here is Pete French and his new Leafhound lineup that miraculously captures the original band’s vibe and creates new songs – praise be ! I cannot claim neutrality as I have played with Pete and hold him in high regard, he would have every right with a voice like that to be cocky but he never is. And the obvious regard he has for his band is justified and touching.
For the uninitiated : you won’t have heard a band so surefooted yet fiery, so rocky yet so soulful, so tight yet so flowing. Well, not outside The Inmates anyhow…and French shares with Inmates singer Bill Hurley the ability to make every phrase count without showboating.
Now driven by the high-octane guitar of lefthanded Luke Rayner – king of the burning build-up – Leafhound have a pumping rhythm section in Ed Pearson and drummer Jimmy Rowland. This gives Pete a lively but dependable backdrop for his tales of heartbreak, betrayals and warnings.
The glorious ‘Nickels and Dimes’ is pretty much a folk-ballad and not a huge distance in sentiment from Woody Guthrie, electrified to the right notch by the band ; the insistent ‘Barricades’ is already a live favourite. And you should hear what Rayner has done to the Atomic Rooster gem ‘Breakthrough’, a fine rearrangement. Leafhound’s music is already featured in/being considered for films and deservedly so. What would be a shame is if the record doesn’t get heard or reviewed outside rock/metal circles which is always a danger for a rock act. This crew have nothing in common with the Satan’s Scrotum / Bucket of Filth stuff that passes for ‘rock’ with some folk. If you had to evoke another band, it might more fairly be Steppenwolf or Living Colour – melodic music with punch.
All credit to Repertoire offshoot Rare for putting this album out. This is a high-quality act with a style of its own and I believe a great future
Pete Sargeant, www.fairhearing.co.uk
LEAF HOUND - UNLEASHED
The mighty Leaf Hound finally joins the growing numbers of legendary semi-known bands of yore such as Cactus, Blue Cheer and Sir Lord Baltimore and releases its anticipated comeback album - Unleashed.
While vocalist Pete French is the only surviving member of the same ensemble who recorded the rightfully praised Growers of Mushroom, new comers Luke Rayner , Jimmy Rowland and Ed Pearson are more than capable to deliver to goods. And while French understandably cannot reach the high notes as he did some 30 something years ago screaming like a banshee, he is still better than 95% of the vocalists that inhabit this planet.
Now, if you were waiting for Growers of Mushroom part II, you'd probably have to wait some more. Unleashed opens with 3 straight ahead hard rock tunes, "Barricades" being the best of the three. "The Man With the Moon in Him" breaks mid way into a somewhat "Stoner" moment followed by a gilmour-like solo. The riffs are good and catchy, quite heavy, and fans of mid-70's hard rock will be very pleased so far. You can definitely hear more Ducks in Flight (Pete French's solo album from 78) than Growers of Mushroom so far.
"Nickles and Dimes" might just be my favorite track and sounds like something Robert Plant might have recorded, with French delivers his best performance in the album.
We finally get to hear the old Leaf Hound sound in "Too Many Rock'n'Roll Nights" - This is old school Blues-Rock of the highest order. God, I missed that.
The biggest surprise here is the album closer - a "metalized" version of Atomic Rooster's "Breakthrough", on which French originally sang. I wont spoil you the fun by detailing it. I just know Vincent Crane smiling in his grave and says: "Godammit, thats exactly how the song should have always been. Well done boys!"
Well done indeed.
Ra'anan Chelled, StonerRock.com
LEAF HOUND - UNLEASHED
36 years between albums - it's a workrate that makes even Def Leppard look adventurous. But indeed it has been that long since the mysterious Leaf Hound recorded the celebrated 'Growers Of Mushroom' album that set E-bay alight when fans started exchanging up to four-figure sums for the original vinyl version on the Decca label. In keeping with a band who are linked with the likes of Free, Atomic Rooster, Cactus and Foghat, the new Leaf Hound (only singer Peter French remains from the original line-up) sound not a million miles away from the old Leaf Hound. Proto-stoner rock, steeped in blues and rocking hard, the band know what they're about and stick resolutely to that framework. It doesn't quite match the days of yore, but it's far better than most people could have hoped for.
Jerry Ewing, Metal Hammer
LEAF HOUND AT SWEDEN ROCK 2006
Leaf Hound , has only one album under their belt.
"Growers Of Mushrooms" was released as far back as 1971. Over the years the album has become a collectors item and the band has gained cult status among the lovers of heavy, 70's blues rock.
Their set on Sweden Rock 2006 was naturally built around that album. Founder member, vocalist Peter French is the only original member in the line up. Usually this is not a good sign, but Leaf Hound is an exception to that rule. The band is supertight and manages to make the old songs sound even better than the originals. This is largely due to the guitars provided by new hotshot Luke Rayner. His guitar playing is very 70's, with plenty of solos(with feeling), often with his foot firmly planted on the wah wah pedal.
Peter French, one of my favourite vocalists (also with Atomic Rooster and Cactus) is plain awesome. He is perfectly trimmed, very cool looking and has a huge smile on his face. It's almost ironic that Peter French, who sounds better than ever, is playing on Sweden Rock's smallest stage, while colleagues like Ian Gillan and David Coverdale, who has lost a lot of their former vocal power are headlining this years festival.
One of Leaf Hounds new songs "Too many Rock 'n’ Roll Times" which has surfaced on the reissue of "Growers Of Mushrooms", is one of the evenings highlights. What on record is a fine but pretty conventional heavy blues number, is stretched out to a massive killer of a song in the live format.
Another surprise highlight in the set, is Atomic Rooster's "Breakthrough". The song was dedicated to the late and great Vincent Crane.
Leaf Hound's version is simply brilliant, with standout and emotional vocals from Peter French. It's a crying shame that a vocalist of this calibre hasn't received more success.
This was my favourite concert at Sweden Rock Festival 2006 and the band are welcome back for concerts anytime.
Verdict : 5/5
Harald "BigRedMachine" Bjervamoen, Rockprog.com
LEAF HOUND - GROWERS OF MUSHROOM, Reissue
Incredible as it may seem, an original copy of this record is worth nearly £1000. Released in 1971, and blatantly ignored at the time, Growers Of Mushroom achieved godlike status within the stoner crew 15 years later. Available again, it’s weathered the years remarkably well.
The songs bristle with a naïve brio that drew heavily from the late 1960’s – think Led Zep, Blue Cheer and Syd-era Floyd – but there’s an undeniable charm that crosses the years.
Today, only frontman Pete French remains from this line-up. However, the current incarnation give us a taste of things to come with bonus track Too Many Rock’n’Roll Times – it doesn’t let the legend down.
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock
LEAF HOUND AT THE BORDERLINE, LONDON
Leaf Hound are in a strange situation. Word of mouth has turned them into a cult band. But while it’s their 1971 album Growers Of Mushroom that started the current avalanche of acclaim, no one seems bothered that frontman Pete French is the only one from those days who remains. The reason no one cares is because the current line up is more than capable of giving flesh to the band’s skeletal 70s underground rock; guitarist Luke Rayner is a real discovery. And how many people saw the original Leaf Hound anyway?
French is suffering from flu tonight, but strides purposefully through a set tinctured with songs that make it obvious why so many young doom and stoner bands hold them in such high regard.
Leaf Hound never had a first wind in the 70s. Maybe they are now about to blow up a storm.
Malcolm Dome, Classic Rock
Yesterday involved a trip to the Borderline, one of my fave London venues, for the return of Leaf Hound - a long-lost and quite wonderful doom-tinged hard rock band back from the dead after splitting up in 1971. The ever-improving Pig Iron warmed up the crowd nicely, before Pete French (who later fronted Atomic Rooster) and his revised line-up let rip with some enjoyable brand new material, intermingled with vintage gems like 'Freelance Friend', 'Stray' and a version of 'Growers Of Mushroom' that tempted Cathedral's Lee Dorrian to the front for a freak-out.
Dave Ling, daveling.co.uk
Possibly the toughest sounding band on the circuit now and not needing earbleeding volume to come across are the present version of Leafhound. At their borderline showcase and with Repertoire in Germany re-releasing the classic and deservedly legendary ‘Growers Of Mushroom’ album with extra new songs, Pete French their suave lead singer had a bad throat but soldiered on with great skill and confidence. In fact you’d be hard pushed to find a front man this good anywhere and as his writing develops and with Paul Rodgers wasting his talent on a poor songbook, THIS is the band that are rightful heirs to the Led Zep/Bad Company bluesrock crown. The London crowd are wowed by the show, the setlist is just right, the playing fluid and forceful and glory be! guitar solos that go somewhere and enhance the song rather than be an excuse to show off. A band to be proud of and pose-free..
Pete Sargeant, Tangent
Stepping inside the Borderline tonight is like stepping through the space/time continuum. Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the 70s. Starring! Leaf Hound. Featuring! Tight jeans and crushed velvet shirts. Former Atomic Rooster frontman Pete French, despite fighting the flu, carries the reunited band’s Cream-meets-Zeppelin grooves with the swagger of a young(er) Mick Jagger or Robert Plant.
Caren Gibson, Kerrang!
More uplifting were the revival of Pete French’s Richmond area band Leaf Hound whose punchy live show included the Groundhogs-ish ‘Growers Of Mushroom’ number from their first incarnation. French is a genuinely nice guy and an ideal frontman for this Zep/Bad Company lean trio and we can only wish them well foe eschewing all gimmicks and posing and just delivering hard-edged blues based music. Watch for the name as it is hoped they will be playing and recording.
Pete Sargeant, Blues Matters