Epitaph - Outside The Law (1974)


by Eduardo Rivadavia

Epitaph's best album (actually, many would argue it's their only good album), 1974's Outside the Law, was produced during the German-based, English-fronted quartet's brief sojourn in America, while benefiting from the patronage of tiny independent label Billingsgate Records. Having just lost their deal with mighty Polydor following two nondescript LPs filled with progressive excess, the bandmembers now seemed motivated to edit themselves, and emerged from Chicago's Omega Studios with a far more focused and engaging set of songs, marked by fluid, mid-paced grooves, radio-friendly choruses, and dual-guitar harmonies often backed by acoustic rhythm guitars for added sweetening. The resulting sound -- epitomized by the boogie-happy standouts "Woman" and "Big City" -- was often reminiscent of contemporary bands like Stray and Wishbone Ash, but the biggest surprise may have been how Epitaph's European membership managed to pull off some convincing Southern rock twangs for opener "Reflexion," the title track, and the Allmans-esque, piano-based ballad "In Your Eyes." They even snuck some simulated lap steel into the album's most aggressive number, "Tequila Shuffle," which otherwise resembled Uriah Heep thanks to its nestled organs and aggressive guitar work -- a testament to Epitaph's creative range. And even though they finally relinquished their newfound economy for the nine-minute finale of "Fresh Air," Epitaph were on such a roll, for once, that every last note was worth the effort. Sadly, Outside the Law's impressive songcraft never had a chance to connect with consumers, as its marketing and distribution soon became embroiled in the bankruptcy of Billingsgate Records. Epitaph were forced to beat a hasty retreat back to Germany, broke up, and thus their best shot at possible stardom was doomed to cult appreciation forever after.

By Mike Reed VINE™ VOICE

Originally released in 1974, looks to be the obscure 'heavy rock' German band's third album. On this CD reissue, you get the initial lp's seven tracks + seven added bonus cuts - but four of them are live. Some sources indicate that 'Outside The Law' is (in fact) Epitaph's best work. Songs I liked best are "In Your Eyes", the jamming "Tequila Shuffle" (might very well be the CD's best track altogether), "Fresh Air" is also good, "Wasted So Much Time" and "Kind Of A Man". The title's ballad "In Your Eyes" sort of reminded me of the Allman Brothers. Might appeal to fans of Rory Gallagher, Stray, Nektar, Jeronimo, Armageddon and possibly Jane.

By Nels D. Peterson

Other reviews of the Repertoire release enthuse about the seven original tracks, justifiably. This new edition includes seven extra tracks, and they are well worth buying this disc! Great guitar rock, more melodic than power cord-based, with lots of dual-leads. The singing is a bit strained, and you usually get slow build-ups and two verses, then the fun begins!!! The live tracks are from a reunion concert, yet impressed me on my first listen, I can't wait to play it all through on the home system, loudly...


1. Reflexion 5:18
2. Woman 4:18
3. Big City 5:53
4. In Your Eyes 2:51
5. Outside The Law 6:06
6. Tequila Shuffle 4:59
7. Fresh Air 9:01
8. Train To The City 4:03
9. Wasted So Much Time 3:00
10. Kind Of A Man 4:54
11. Woman (Live) 5:53
12. Outside The Law (Live) 7:53
13. Jim's Thing (Live) 2:50
14. Big City (Live) 6:32

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