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...though they do share the celebrated power trio format. But no, actually these guys came first, their debut single dropping in 1972, some eight years before they’d get an actual album out. As with many sprawling English bands of the 70’s, Limelight would not get their chance to rise out of obscurity until the New Wave movement took over at decade’s end. Though they didn’t quite have the attitude to contend with that era’s legendary breakout acts (Saxon or Angel Witch would’ve trounced them on a concert bill), they’re definitely one of the more worthy footnotes I’ve come across, although this is from a guy that feels some of the period classics, namely Diamond Head, have their worth a bit overstated in light of their influence.
So what does this tragically understated three-piece deliver on their semi-sole (see footnote) LP, you ask? England’s answer to Germany’s Scorpions, I might reply, not to mention a menagerie of other, subtler prog rock influences. The Scorpions nod is the most obvious one; the vocal lines and harmonies will be uncannily familiar for Klaus Meine fans, and there’s a similar slant in the catchy melodic riffing, slick solos and guitar harmonies too. Not even remotely as heavy though… where our Scorps could often be found playing at ten, or at least at eight or nine during the ballads, Limelight seems stuck at about a six, perhaps afraid that too much crunch in their guitar sound might alienate them further from the listening public, though production quality may also have been a factor here. Still, the brothers Scrimshaw manage to wring a surprising amount of sonic menace out of those strings, brilliant bass snaking underneath and lending a rather nice sound to the album overall, just not a particularly heavy one. Hard rockers like “Walk on Water” and “Going Home” might have made some waves with a fiercer approach, and the speed metal attack of “Metal Man” might have been a celebrated barn burner. Still, the song selection is choice, with a good feel towards varying their approach, and the band charms with their obvious talent: even in ballad mode (“Man of Colour”), the band’s melodic sensibility couples well with the sparse mellotron. Again, total Scorpions inheritance, but Limelight possess the gravitas to sell it as their own.
Had they bucked up towards a heavier direction or, alternately, expanded on their latent quasi-progressive leanings (the appropriately expansive “Don’t Look Back” is a highlight), these guys might have gotten their fair share of their namesake. As they stand, you’ve never heard of ‘em, though I’d reckon you’d enjoy their music if you had.
***It’s worth mentioning that there’s an alternate incarnation of the album, released with the later ’82 single “Ashes to Ashes” and retitled after it, flip-flopping the tracklist around to commemorate the new release or something of the sort. I’ve listened to these tracks through in both orders: have to say the impact is about the same, and either version is hard to come by. Happy hunting.***