DIAMOND HEAD released their major label debut on this day in 1982. Lightning to the Nations was the real first album, self-released by the band in 1980 and today much easier to find (as either LttN or The White Album). Borrowed Time is a relatively neglected part of their discography; unfairly as there are some great songs, plenty of vocal flair, and the best version of "Lightning to the Nations"!
Below I've copied out two positive reviews from UK mags in '82:
Geoff Bank's review in Kerrang, November 1982:
IF GENIUS is pain then Diamond Head must be the world's greatest masochists. From the day Zeppelin released 'Presence' the world has cried out for a band who play hard rock with both lust and honesty - Whitesnake being the K TEL version - and now after God knows how long the truth is once again upon us.
Forever in the making, this album is the absolute peak of everything that has happened to HM in the past four years. I don't care what any retard bozo has to say about Diamond Head claiming to be 'the natural successors to Zeppelin! Led Zep are history, an essential part of any sane persons growing up, just like wetting the bed, but Diamond Head do for the future what Zep did in the past.
While the band, along with Iron Maiden mark the absolute pinnacle of modern day HM, it's taken them a long time to sew up a proper record deal. But now that situation has been put in order we'll hopefully be hearing a lot less from certain big-mouthed Americans who think they've got the Metal/blues side of the market wrapped up. 'Borrowed Time' is not only a new wave HM classic but an album that can stand shoulder to shoulder with, if not do a big no 2 on, most of the geriatrics like MSG, UFO and Rainbow.
Though only containing seven tracks, 'Borrowed Time' spans vast musical influences, from the sensual, swaggering blues of 'Don't You Ever Leave Me' to the brain-storming guitar callisthenics of 'Am I Evil' with the guitar and drum intro, powering out Holst's 'Mars' from the 'Planet Suite', giving way to a guitar excursion that shows both the variety and aggression in Brian Tatler's playing. An A-Z of guitar riffs the song has long been the mainstay of their live set, an Olympian bone cruncher steeped in sword and sorcery that despite the pedestrian drum beat is about as stable as a fairground wurlitzer on overdrive.
'Call Me' still stands proud as the best pop/Metal single this year (though it could have been left out in favour of an unreleased track of which the band have dozens, and along with 'In the Heat Of The Night' shows the depth and hand of Sean Harris and Brian Tatler's song writing abilities, while the title track 'Borrowed Time' is the album's 'epic' much in the same style as 'Achilles Last Stand' with its flickering guitar line and solid but spacious bass and drums. As on all epic tracks the lyrics are somewhat obscure but they sound fine and to an idiot like me that's good enough.
One of the most heartening aspects is Duncan Scott's coming of age as a drummer. For so long the weak link, he's now on a par with the other members and, in contrast to the bass sound, the drums receive the full attention they deserve courtesy of Siouxsie/Associates producer Mike Hedges. Thus the final cog has been put into place and the Diamond Head machine is ready to roll.
Phil Bell's review (he gave it four stars) in Sound magazine, October 1982:
Steely eyes of a silvery people
Walk behind me within ee-vulin-teent.
Up to the tower, I stand alone.
Stripped of rank, before them I stand.
What befalls us, in the heat of the maaa-aah-aaiiyt..."
LAME ON paper? Up to you. But the way Sean Harris grits his guts and plunges soul first into gushing vocal dramatics makes them magic.
Thus embarks "Living On Borrowed Time", an album that's been anticipated with the eagerness of a virgin soldier in a brothel, throughout all the heavy metal muck that's been and mostly gone over the last three years.
Oh, how the promise kept us going - the one day, poor struggling Diamond Head would release their debut on a Major Label. Meanwhile, with bruised ears caked from mouldy aural garbage, our selection of regularly played elpees slowly greyed with age, having been cut in the late Sixties/Seventies, when a Great British Band would pop up every short while, built on a carved cornerstone of meticulous originality, glowing with style, each one with lasting offerings for the HR listener.
This is such a band, head and shoulders above the rest. Diamond Head depend on their scintillating song-crafting and though the seven numbers herein date back years, covering the band's first half-decade, the standard is irrepressibly high.
Limited musical ability is irrelevant. Only Duncan Scott's drumming slips into particular mediocrity as far as wrist-flicking dash and thump goes, but even then he manages to twist booming skins to tailor the imagination he puts into his sticks.
Colin Kimberly is already a nifty bass force to reckon with while Britan Tatler is on a one-way ticker destined for guitar acclaim. Singer Sean Harris is the pricelessly precious discovery however.
Gifted with a thick and sumptuous vocal texture, simple lines assume sharpened angles of emotion or anger, temper or simplicity. Not since Plant or Rogers have so many pronounciations of 'love' screamed with such meaning from a throat.
Harris excels down on one knee in the writhing blues lull of 'Don't You Ever Leave Me', where Tatler starts his peaking and sliding solo with howling anguished notes that sustain so long you can pop out for a pee and still have time for a grimace, though the rambling protraction is an unnecessary post-script I'd rather have seen kept as a stage appendage.
But while I'm certain 'LOBT' is just a foretaste of what potential marvels await our time (wherefore 'To The Devil His Due', all-time oral classic 'Sucking My Love' or eastern-tinted 'Knight Of The Swords'?). Diamond Head mince no chords about being an HR band at this stage.
If 'Call Me' chimes with commercial infectiousness, it packs as mighty a punch as 'In The Heat Of The Night', the slow-roasting epical single. And the fact that 'Am I Evil' was, you recall, voted number thirty-three in the definitive all-time HM greats chart long before DH had even been approached by MCA, pretty well represents the Gorgon enormity of this track.
Spend your hard-earned greenies on lesser metal and you'll find the musical value will depreciate fast. Buying a diamond, don't you know, is an investment.