Black Alice was a heavy metal band from Perth, Australia. Their first album, Endangered Species, was released in 1983 by a U.K. label called Street Tunes Records (catalog number: STLP004).
Black Alice were originally called Gypsy. They attracted the interest of an Aussie record producer by the name of Gary Keady. Keady co-produced the album, which was recorded in Singapore. The album was released in Europe. Unfortunately, Black Alice were unable to tour Europe to support the album due to financial and management problems, and soon thereafter the band dissolved.
Here are a few nuggets of interesting trivia related to Black Alice, most of which come from the Sons Of Steel official website:
- While co-producer Gary Keady was in the U.K. facilitating the album’s release with Street Tunes Records, he was under the gun to come up with a cover concept. Unable to afford to get the band from Perth to the U.K., Keady himself came up with the cover concept of a man in a radioactive fallout mask standing in the post-apocalyptic Australian desert. It is Keady himself who appears on the cover.
- According to guitarist Jamie Page, Gypsy considered changing their name to “Metallica”, but wound up changing their name to Black Alice instead. Co-producer Gary Keady christened the band Black Alice.
- According to guitarist Jamie Page, the band name Black Alice comes from the cover art of the record. The rock in the background was known as Ayres Rock, which was near the Australian town of Alice Springs.
- Two songs recorded for Endangered Species were left off the album; Man Of Metal and Hellhouse. Both tracks appeared on the 1984 EP release No Warning on Street Tunes Records.
- Gary Keady wrote a short film called Knightmare which was inspired by the Endangered Species album cover. It included a character called “Black Alice”. Black Alice’s singer, Rob Hartley, portrayed this character in the film. Eventually the concept was developed into a feature film which came out in 1989 called Sons Of Steel. Again, Hartley starred in the move. Original Black Alice members Rob Hartley and Jamie Page performed with three other musicians on the Sons Of Steel soundtrack.
My Worthless Opinion: As you can probably tell by the info I presented above, Black Alice really never had much of a chance to make it. They just never had the financial or managerial backing to do damage. Therefore it should be of no surprise that Endangered Species suffers from what was surely a low-budget recording, as the final products sounds quite rough.
Opening track Wings Of Leather, Wings Of Steel calls to mind sleeveless denim jackets and the smell of gasoline. This is probably my favorite heavy tune on the record. On this track and throughout the album, Jamie Page plays a no-frills style of guitar. The band sounds anything but tight, giving the songs a loose, live feel. Singer Rob Hartley occasionally unleashes a banshee wail that sounds like Brian Johnson’s polyp infested throat. Even when not screaming, Hartley sounds clenched and in pain, as if there is sand in his urethra. He’s quite a trip actually. Another song sticks out for me; the experimental and atmospheric In The Hall Of The Ancient Kings. This dark, slow-to-buid tune really sounds like nothing else on the record, or anything else coming out in ’83. It was a strange attempt, and I think it worked.
This record is dark, brooding, tattered and frayed. Endangered Species is a flawed album, but has some worthwhile moments. My score: B-