Singles [NWOBHM] » White Lightning (UK) - This Poison Fountain [Single] (1984)
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    Artist: White Lightning
    Release: This Poison Fountain / Hypocrite, Single Nov 1984
    Label: Wild Party Records #PP 1000
    Genre: NWOBHM w/ Progressive elements
    Country: UK (Staines, Middlesex)
    Bitrate: 224kbps
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    Formed in Surrey in 1984 by guitarist Simon Pengilly and bassist Gerald Goff (both ex-Iron Pig). Noel Jones joined as vocalist and lyricist, closely followed by Jeff Ward ( drums ). Released first single 'This Poison Fountain' and 'Hypocrite' on their own Wild Party label in November that year. Recorded demos at Jeff Ward's home studio, the Sound Theatre (actually his bedroom). Gigs ensued and the band began to garner a reputation, until a rift occurred and Jeff was to leave the band to join Mournblade. During this period, Jeff's Mother Beryl sent a tape to Metal Hammer magazine which resulted in the band reforming with new bassist Richard Goddard and playing in the 'Find a Band' competition. The band didn't win, but found a fan in DJ Tommy Vance.

    Back at the Sound Theatre the band made recordings that would become the '...As Midnight Approaches' LP on Wild Party. The record was released in a small run of about 500 which were sold at gigs etc., and was played in full on the Friday Rock Show by Tommy Vance. Problems ensued again when Simon Pengilly announced that he didn't want to play Live any more and wanted to compose music on computer instead. A new guitarist, John Storey of Weymouth, Dorset was recruited and a second LP was commissioned by Workshop Records. The recordings were made at the Enid's Lodge studio in Northamptonshire. The band played support to Meat Loaf at the Isle of Man T.T. Races at the Douglas Bowl. Sadly, the second LP was not released and the band split after a last gig at Dorchester Corn Exchange. Angel Air released both LPs along with extra demo and Live tracks in 2010, and Noel (vocals/bass) and Jeff (guitar) have played the odd gig so far in Clonakilty, West Cork and Kingston with a thought to more recordings.

    Noel Jones - Vocals (Static)
    Simon Pengilly - Guitars (Iron Pig)
    Gerald Goff - Bass (Iron Pig)
    Jeff Ward - Drums (Mournblade)


    After the eventual demise of Surrey's popular STATIC in the early months of 1983, mainman Noel Jones decided that he wasn't quite finished in the music business. While his erstwhile colleagues from the last STATIC line-up proceeded to form the AOR-friendly SNOWBLIND (see separate entry), however, Jones envisaged a rather more ambitious project. Within a year or so, he had teamed up with a new set of accomplices (who were initially brought together through advertisements in the music papers of the day) to form WHITE LIGHTNING, a band with a slightly more progressive edge to their music. After finding their feet and recording a couple of early demos, the quartet decided to release their own single to get their name into the public's consciousness. Issued on their own Wild Party label in 1984, the record featured "This Poison Fountain" and "Hypocrite", two numbers (illustrating the considerable vocal talents of the frontman, something which had been less apparent in STATIC) which showed the venture to be following the path of earlier acts such as SHIVA, CANIS MAJOR or BIG DAISY, carving a technical, semi-progressive niche for themselves, this being at a time when RUSH-influenced music was finding little favour amongst those in the music industry.

    The single was a fairly remarkable debut, with confident arrangements and original lyrics (the heartfelt "This Poison Fountain" addressing the issue of pollution, while the scathing "Hypocrite" was inspired by an old acquaintance of Jones, whose blind faith in organised religion completely isolated them from the outside world), and the outfit were delighted with the favourable reaction from the rock fraternity. Nevertheless, the patient musicians were to lurk in the shadows for a further couple of years while they plotted their ultimate strategy for global domination. Eventually, a new bassist was recruited in the form of Richard Max Goddard, a talented individual who had previously assisted the activities of MOURNBLADE (the two bands enjoyed a friendly rivalry, with WHITE LIGHTNING drummer Jeff Ward having also lent a hand to MOURNBLADE's recording activities at one point) in the studio environment. In comparison with the prolific STATIC, WHITE LIGHTNING played considerably fewer gigs, although a notable live appearance was at a 'battle of the bands'-style showcase event in London, where they took to the stage alongside various minor acts such as ATTILA, FAHRENHEIT, UGLY, TOKYO and EXCALIBUR (the whole shebang being headlined by VOW WOW) in order to impress as many fans and industry types as possible. They also completed a brand-new demo at around this time, which featured "Love Really Hurts Without You", "Danger Man" and "Lesson One", which soon set the media tongues wagging in no uncertain terms.

    In 1988, the band finally entered the studio (the grandly-named Sound Theatre facility in Middlesex, which turns out to have been nothing more than Jeff Ward's old bedroom at his home, an arrangement which necessitated the drumkit being situated in the garage during the recording process) in order to lay down their (long-overdue) debut full-length release. By the end of the year, the album was safely in the can, and it only remained for the lads to attract a bit of label interest. In an ideal world, this wouldn't have posed much of a problem, but a deal was to prove frustratingly elusive in the first instance, and so the long-player ('...As Midnight Approaches') initially appeared (in fairly limited quantities, admittedly) on their own Wild Party label once again. It was, overall, a strong and individualistic effort, and it was interesting to note the inclusion of revamped versions of "Hypocrite" and "This Poison Fountain" in addition to a number of unfamiliar tracks. There was something of a shift towards slightly more mainstream territory in places, when the band attempted a style more in keeping with RADIO MOSCOW or THE STORM, but numbers such as "Right Between The Eyes" were very much in the vein of their first single.

    The ambitious outfit were keen to get their product into the hands of as many rock fans as possible, although their limited finances dictated that a more extensive pressing of the album would be virtually impossible unless they were picked up by a more affluent company. Things appeared to be looking up the following year, however, when the group subsequently became affiliated with the recently-formed GI Records, who issued two tracks, "Dealer" (a non-LP effort) and "As Midnight Approaches" (actually an outro taken from a longer album track entitled "Frightened Children"), on their seldom-seen 'Shooting From The Hip' compilation. Sadly, though, the label didn't feel compelled to release any additional WHITE LIGHTNING product (either the original album or a brand-new follow-up), and things looked fairly ominous in terms of getting further vinyl releases onto the shelves until the little-known Workshop Records (nothing to do with LEGEND's own label) stepped in at the last minute to obtain the rights to the debut album. Much to WHITE LIGHTNING's relief, '...As Midnight Approaches' was finally reissued (this time in more generous quantities) in 1990, and the long-player was soon attracting a significant amount of attention in the music press of the day.

    The re-promoted album received a fairly good review in the likes of 'Kerrang' (who, oddly, suggested influences such as MARILLION and U2), and Tommy Vance saw fit to playlist various tracks on the 'Friday Rock Show'. Also, their label somehow managed to get the lads a one-off show with MEATLOAF on the Isle Of Man in front of several thousand fans, which can't have done their reputation any harm whatsoever. The band also developed quite a following of their own, headlining venues such as the Marquee in London and playing to packed houses on an increasingly regular basis. By this time, however, the outfit had parted company with long-time guitarist Simon Pengilly, bringing in new recruit John Stormie to make up the numbers. In the wake of such a favourable response to '...As Midnight Approaches', a second album was commissioned by Workshop almost immediately, and the lucky band were soon ensconced in a proper recording facility (Woodcray Studios in Berkshire, where BLACK SABBATH had just finished working on 'Tyr'), where they proceeded to lay down the tracks for 'Paradise...At A Price'. Cruelly, however, Workshop eventually reneged on the deal (feebly claiming that the lads had assured them that their second effort would be a chart-friendly album of mainstream material) and refused to release the LP. At this point, Jones himself offered to buy back the master tapes (so he could arrange a new deal elsewhere), a request which fell upon deaf ears. In fact, the fate of the recordings remains a mystery, as they were nowhere to be found when the receivers were finally called in to liquidate the failed company's assets a few years later. This whole sorry episode led to the demise of WHITE LIGHTNING, a talented outfit who could, with luck on their side, have gone considerably further than they actually managed.

    1. This Poison Fountain
    2. Hypocrite
    Wantlist: Physical / Digital
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