“Stairway to Hell” – Alan Mair

4 stars (out of 5)

1

Did I ever mention that I’m Scottish? I mean the name’s a bit of a giveaway, but it explains why I might mention obscure Scottish bands and performers occasionally in print (and way too much in conversation). It also means that releases like the new Alan Mair single “Stairway to Hell” are an absolute gift for me. Not only was Alan a member of “the Scottish Beatles”, The Beatstalkers, but he’s also helped out on this single by former Tear Gas and Sensational Alex Harvey Band members Zal Cleminson (guitar) and Ted McKenna. You don’t know how good it felt to tell you that.

After the Beatstalkers proved slightly less successful than The Beatles, he moved to London and sold handmade boots in a shop in Kensington Market (where he employed a manager who went on to become an international superstar) before joining The Only Ones (you’ve probably heard of them, they were from London) in 1976 (don’t worry, this will all probably start to knit together in a moment).

Skip forward about thirty years from the breakup of The Only Ones and (after various reunions and festival gigs) Alan is releasing his own solo material. Following on from “Four Winds”, “Stairway to Hell” is the second single from the upcoming “Field of One” album. The pumping rhythm section of Alan’s bass and Ted McKenna’s drums combined with Zal Cleminson’s guitar create a dense and darkly menacing backdrop for Dave Smith’s tale of musicians seduced down the one-way street of substance misuse, which a group of musicians who have worked collectively with Alex Harvey and Peter Perrett must have seen way up close. The music perfectly complements the lyrical message of claustrophobia and impending doom and this is a song where every element reinforces the central message, including the video:

“Field of One” is released on August 24 on IKA Records.