Cozy Powell

Sometimes words are so little to describe a legend. What can I write about Cozy Powell, one of the best drummers ever appeared on this planet, that hasn’t been mentioned? I’ll try with a little retrospect and a few personal feelings.
Cozy Powell photo

Cozy has always been characterized by his heavy-hitting style and the way he could make songs from various styles sound “full”. Especially when he co-operated with heavy bands, his performance resembled a mixture of a road-roller and a track full of rubble crashing onto a wall. The list of bands and artists that Cozy co-operated with during his career is immense: Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Emerson Lake and Powell, Whitesnake, Cinderella, MSG, Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Yngwie Malmsteen, Brian May, Gary Moore, Robert Plant are only some of the names. Cozy has been always in demand for the drum seat, so he evolved to one of the most important session musicians. He never stayed in one band for very long, which proved to be good for us, as we could enjoy him in many projects. On the side of his involvement in many groups and projects he released five solo albums (we present two of them underneath).
I still remember seeing him live with Brian May in 1992 in Athens, as an opening act for Guns ‘n Roses. And I have to say that during that night they made Gunner’s life difficult, as they played so much better than them. Unfortunately, like for most exceptional persons, life was cruel. It was on April 5, 1998, when he was driving on the M4 Motorway towards Bristol when he apparently lost control of his car (due to bad weather), slamming into the center divider of the motorway. He died a few hours later in the hospital (being only 51 years old), paying the price for his passion, high speed, and leaving us with a big empty void.
It is difficult to pick and present seven albums from Cozy’s huge career. The criteria for my choices have to do with the fact that this site is mostly a “rock/metal” one. So I present three albums that are mostly related to the metal scene and one from his solo career (which is differentiated from metal music), as it wouldn’t be a proper tribute to him without presenting at least one of his solo releases. The admin also presents 2 melodic hard rock albums (“Forcefield II” & “After the War”) plus Cozy’s third solo release (“Octopuss”). I think that all these albums are quite representative of Cozy’s career. Funnily enough, although I know that The Drums won’t be back again, I have the feeling that they are always around us.
Thank You Cozy. R.I.P.
Rainbow Rising coverHow can one present one of the best releases in heavy music (and not only) ever??? Rainbow’s second album is what can be characterized as a pure monument, and if there is one single fan of heavy music that doesn't own this record he/she'd better start knitting!! When listening to this album I praise that Ritchie abandoned Deep Purple. Here Ritchie along with Cozy Powell, Ronnie James Dio, Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey & Martin Birtch as producer, released an album of what can be called epic rock. Suggestive songs, long because of Ritchie’s solos, lyrical, with fantasy lyrics transfer us to an ancient world of mystery and imagination... to “Run with the Wolf”. Cozy’s play is majestic giving a massive sound to the songs. And of course we will always remember with a grin of embarrassment his introduction in “Stargazer”. I really feel so little to say anything else about this masterpiece...

Cozy Powell Tilt coverThis is Cozy’s second personal album, and I think the best one he produced under his name. As mentioned before, the music here has little (or nothing) to do with heavy metal. The musicians here produce an amalgam of jazz/rock/AOR of top class. And when we are talking about musicians, we talk about a gathering of huge stars: All drums are, of course, played by Cozy. On the bass we meet: Chris Glen, Neil Murray and Jack Bruce. On the keyboards: John Cook and Don Airey. On the vocals: Elmer Gantry and Frank Aiello, and on the guitars (hold on): Kirby, Bernie Marsden, Jeff Beck and Gary Moore! I personally feel that all those musicians in one project wouldn’t produce anything bad even if they wanted to! The first side of the vinyl has four experimental jazz/rock songs, embellished with saxophone and things. The second side consists of four instrumental – a bit heavier – songs, where the rhythm section lays down a magnificent canvas for the talented guitarists to paint. The amazing songs and the participation of so many famous musicians makes “Tilt” a wonderful record, and invites you to try and find it (I don’t think that it has ever been released in CD and it is very difficult to find the LP these days.).

Cozy Powell Octopuss cover“Octopuss” is Cozy’s third solo work. Without any doubt, this is his most consistent and diverse solo album. Here the line-up is impressive and tighter, as there are only 4 musicians who accompany Cozy. The famed Jon Lord (Deep Purple) on keys, Gary Moore on guitars, Mel Galley (Whitesnake, Phenomena) on guitars and Colin Hodgkinson (James Young, Silver, Neal Schon and Jan Hammer etc.) on bass. It’s startling to see how many gifted and legendary musicians participate in Cozy’s third solo release. Certainly, they all have their own freedom when it comes to improvisations. “Octopuss” musically blends jazz/fusion, rock & classic rock along with a few symphonic touches here and there. I know that there are not many instrumental albums that can keep your interest at high levels throughout their running time, but “Octopuss” is one of those albums that have that special magic essence. Cozy is hitting the skins like no other again and uses his beloved double bass drum when needed. Now, that I’m listening to this album again, I can actually say that it is indeed my favorite Cozy solo release.

Phenomena self-titled coverThis is another super-project, formed in 1985 producing a magnificent debut album. And what an album this is!!! I feel sorry cause I feel that it has never gained the reputation it deserved. Just have a look at the musicians playing here: Mel Powel and Mel Galley (guitars), Glenn Hughes and Neil Murray (bass), Don Airey and Richard Bailey (keyboards), Peter Green (vocals) and Cozy Powell and Ted McKenna (drums). The music those talented musicians produce here is hard rock/AOR of the mid-80s. I know that some of you might think that AOR (especially of the mid-80s) was a crap. So I suggest you look for this album and give it a try. High quality tracks of lyrical rock, which has nothing to do with the usual clichés of the genre, rather presenting complete songs with well-structured foundations and amazing performances.

Forcefield The Talisman coverThe second Forcefield release held some nice surprises for the fans. The eminent Tony Martin (Black Sabbath, Giuntini Project, The Cage, Empire, Phenomena, etc.) steps in taking the vocal duties off the original singer Pete Prescott (Sergeant, Passion Play etc.), who along with Ray Fenwick (Ian Gillan Band, Graham Bonnet, Fancy etc.) and Cozy Powell formed the band in 1987. We also have Jan Akkerman (Focus) on guitars, Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Phenomena, Brian May, Empire etc.) on bass, Lawrence Cottle (The Alan Parsons Project, The Fents) on bass, Chris Cozens (Greenslade, Johnny Mars, New World Orchestra) on keyboards & Barry St. John on backing vocals on board. Focusing more on the music of their time this album is full of melodic rock/AOR, pop-rock & hard rock tracks. The instrumental ones “The Talisman”, “The Mercenary” & “I Lose Again” (the instrumental version) give that something extra to the album. Especially on “The Mercenary”, Cozy takes his time to make a huge drum solo in the middle of the song. “I Lose Again” & “Heartache” are the catchiest tracks of the album. Amazing melodic rock/AOR tunes by any means! Tony sings his heart out! There are also four covers on the album, “Tired of Waiting for You” by The Kinks, “Carrie” by Cliff Richard, “Without Your Love” by Streetheart & “Black Night/Strange Kind of Woman” by Deep Purple. They all have the distinctive melodic rock/AOR sound of Forcefield and are covered wonderfully. Nonetheless, “The Talisman” is another splendid release by Cozy and his friends…

Gary Moore After the War coverThe last rockin’ album for the late & legendary Gary Moore before he dedicated to deal with his beloved blues. This ain’t the first time that these two greats, Cozy & Gary, meet and play. Gary has also participated in Cozy’s first three solo works. Cozy gives the apt dynamics to the album when pounding his drum kit… a thing which affects the whole release in a rather good and powerful way. Gary has found a unique companion who rocks like there’s no tomorrow on “After the War”. The whole album line-up is superb as we also hear Bob Daisley (Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Ozzy, Gary Moore etc.) on bass and Neil Carter (U.F.O., Gary Moore tec.) on keys. Damn what more can we ask?! Hell yeah, there’s also a duet between Gary & Ozzy on “Led Clones”, an oriental oriented track ala “Kasmir”. The cover on Roy Buchanan’s “The Messiah Will Come Again” sounds like it has been written by Gary himself. He has given his own very special Gary aura to this song! This track will send shivers down your spine every time you play it! Generally, “After the War” is a great album which features some renowned musicians under the direction of the irreplaceable Gary Moore!

Black Sabbath Headless CrossOK, some might take me for sacrilegious, but I think that “Headless Cross” is among the 5-6 best works of the band. And I am sure that Cozy has a lot to do with it. After a time of experiments and disappointments, Tony Iommi made the magic moves: rehired Tony Martin on vocals and invited Cozy Powell on the drums. The result?? Amazing! With Cozy’s solid way of playing the band regained its massive sound, Martin was maybe the best choice for the epic-style songs, as his voice has this amazing epic tone, while Geoff Nichols’ keyboards, although discreet, add depth to the songs. Really heavy, majestic material with Iommi being inspired again to produce some great riffs that the rest of the band “dressed” in the best possible way. Songs like the homonymous one, “Devil & Daughter” & “Kill in the Spirit World” are eternal jewelers on Sabbath’s crown. I also have to add here that the record presents a significant variety among its tracks. Sometimes I wish I had more ears to listen to it.