Backtracks: Pat Travers Band – Crash and Burn

Pat Travers first picked up the guitar at age 12 after he attended a local concert that included Jimi Hendrix. Rock guitarist, keyboardist, and singer from Toronto, Travers started playing in bands early in his teens; his first bands were the Music Machine, Red Hot, and Merge, which all spent time in clubs in and around Quebec area.

In no time at all, Travers was carefully following the techniques and styles of the top rock guitarists of the day such as Clapton, Page, and Jeff Beck. During his time with Merge, Travers caught the ear of rock vet Ronnie Hawkins, who would later gather up a gang of talented musicians that would eventually become the Band. After a few sessions with Hawkins, Travers moved to London where he landed a recording deal with the Polydor label. His debut album, Pat Travers, was released in the spring of 1976 and features the bass of Peter Cowling, a constant member of the changing cast of musicians playing alongside Travers. In 1977, Travers included a second guitarist, Pat Thrall, and went through two drummers, Clive Edwards and Nicko McBrain, who would later hook up with Iron Maiden.

A gig at England’s Reading Festival that year and a stint touring with Rush led to a pair of albums as Pat Travers, Makin’ Magic and Putting It Straight, which reached number 70 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. The Makin’ Magic title is used for the album and a single, and the album features another single, “Hooked on Music”, which is also the title of an appearance by Travers and crew on the German TV show Rockpalast from November of 1976 that was later released on DVD.

When the fourth album, Heat in the Street, hit the racks in 1978, it was released as the Pat Travers Band. The album cracked the U.S. Top 100, ducking in at number 99. The band had solidified and the sound became their own. The album was recorded on tour in the US in early 1979 and includes the single “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)”, which gained huge popularity and is pretty-much the Travers signature tune. The record is from the most popular version of Travers’ band lineups, with Travers and Thrall on guitar, Cowling on bass, and Tommy Aldridge on drums.

From June 1979 to January 1980, during breaks from touring, the band recorded tracks for the Crash and Burn project. Final mixes and other wrap-up work were completed at Bayshore Studios in Coconut Grove, Florida, during February 1980, and the album was released two months later. The record contains several noteworthy singles, and “Snortin’ Whiskey” became a significant hit on American FM radio in 1980, reaching the number one position on playlists all over the United States. Polydor also used the title single to promote the release, however, it did not fare as well as the first single.

A set of cover songs are found on Crash and Burn, the Bob Marley tune “Is This Love?”, and one originally from Albert King, “Born Under a Bad Sign”. The album reached number 20 on the Billboard listings and earned gold record status initially; a later reissue on compact disc revitalized fan interest which helped the record achieve platinum status.

Then came the dry years, in the early ’80s, when most types of hard rock were somewhat shunned among the U.S. record-buying public. The tide had turned and all the rage became the glitz and glow of arena rock, and later, a hodgepodge of MTV-approved bands. Rock music was overshadowed by the remnants of disco, and Thriller was the Killer. In 1984 Travers became unhappy with Polydor and left the label, touring and jamming yet recording nothing for the remainder of the decade.

Today Pat Travers is still active, with tours, part-time band stints, and other collaborations, recording as P.T. Power Trio and other titles. Travers also frequently works with drummer Carmine Appice, recording a pair of albums and writing new music. His latest work is a release teaming him with Appice on “The Balls Album” from 2016.


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