WHITE SPIRIT (feat Brian Howe, Jeff Scott Soto, Steve Overland) – Right Or Wrong [recorded 1981] (2022) *HQ*

WHITE SPIRIT (feat Brian Howe, Jeff Scott Soto, Steve Overland) - Right Or Wrong [recorded 1981] (2022) full

Few weeks ago we featured in exclusive the Japanese CD reissue of the self-titled cult album by early ’80s British rockers WHITE SPIRIT. From sessions recorded over 40 years ago, the first album to feature the vocals of the late, great Brian Howe, White Spirit’s new album ”Right Or Wrong” is finally ready to be heard by the public.
Howe, who went on to mega platinum success as vocalist for Bad Company, revealed his singing class in a barnstorming vocal that showed clearly that he was destined for stardom.
After their debut single ‘Back To The Grind’ released on the legendary NEAT Records in 1980, White Spirit were hot property and courted by the majors. They were eager to snap up a band that had far more to offer than the majority of NWOBHM acts that they were lazily bracketed with.
A constant schedule of touring created some internal friction, and frontman Bruce Ruff make way for an unknown singer called… Brian Howe. The new and improved White Spirit entered the studio to work on their second album with then Gillan keysman, Colin Towns at the production helm. The album was never fully completed, the band broke up and musicians went their separate ways.
Howe sings on 5 tracks, and on the other 5 he have Jeff Scott Soto, Lee Small and Steve Overland…
Now after a lovely restoration process & re-recordings – we have these songs in all its glory… this is simply top notch first half of the ’80s UK’s melodic hard rock / AOR.

There were other changes in White Spirit’s personnel: guitarist Janick Gers join Ian Gillan Band and later Iron Maiden, replaced by Mick Tucker, while Toby Sadler take over bass duties from Phil Brady.
This improved White Spirit line up entered the studio in 1981 to work on their second album with Colin Towns as producer. Over a dozen of tracks were worked but the band parted ways soon.

Brian Howe crossed the Atlantic and became frontman for Ted Nugent, before achieving mega platinum success as the replacement for Paul Rodgers in Bad Company.
So White Spirit were seemingly consigned to music history, with former members proceeding to forge impressive careers built on this promising foundation.
Four decades on, and the location of these 2nd album sessions remained a mystery. Presumed to have been consigned to a skip, as was the fate of so many priceless master tapes carelessly discarded over the years.

The day following Brian Howe’s tragic death from a heart attack in May 2020, original White Spirit members guitarist Mick Tucker and keyboardist Malcolm Pearson were on the phone reflecting on those heady White Spirit days. The missing tapes were once more discussed, but still neither had any idea where to find them.
Fate stepped in, and whilst preparing to relocate to France, Pearson was rifling through his furniture in storage when he found a dusty old bedside cabinet. Inside were four sets of tapes.
One labelled ‘Chiswick Studios – White Spirit’. This was it. The one they’d all thought was lost for ever.

The tape was handed over to Conquest Music boss and Tank guitarist, Cliff Evans. He arranged for the delicate and risky process of restoring the tapes to preserve and retrieve the old recordings.
Successful as the process was, the sound quality of some elements of the tracks were just not good enough for today’s ears so Tucker & Pearson decided to replace all of the musical accompaniment with a stellar line up of players.
Neil Murray (Whitesnake) and Russell Gilbrook (Uriah Heep) made up the rhythm section, with the guitars and keyboards replaced by Mick and Mal.

Brian Howe’’s vocals on five of the tracks survived well, but the other takes had too much degradation, so guest singers stepped in as tribute to the late singer.
On the four of Brian Howe’s original performances that couldn’t be salvaged, stellar guest singers were called upon: Jeff Scott Soto & Lee Small (Lionheart) on another brace.
Finally, as a tribute to Brian Howe, ‘Holy Water’ (a Bad Company cover) was recorded with the excellent FM’s Steve Overland taking lead vocal duties.

Renowned Pontus Norgren was chosen to mix the album in Sweden, and the result is an incredibly fresh body of work with power, finesse, great songs, and amazing vocals. Ten tracks with a nod to the past, but fresh and vibrant arrangements fit for 21st Century ears.
One can only wonder what may have been if the album was released as originally planned in 1982.

The result is an incredibly fresh body of work with power, finesse, well conceived and produced songs, with positively impressive vocals, both old and modern.
Title track ‘Right or Wrong’ is more than just NWOBHM. You’ll get Purple, Rainbow, Heep, and all such classics blending in a powerful opener with some excellent vocals and guitar solo btw. Unfortunately Howe vocals tracks were lost for this song, but Jeff Scott Soto does and amazing job. An explosive opener!

‘Runaway’ sees Howe unsurprisingly sounding retro on a pompy number that brings to mind Tobruk and Praying Mantis, plenty of keys and a UK proto-AOR feel. I love this!!!!
Then the muscular and throbbing rocker ‘Lady of the Night’ has that slightly dark menace and a touch of Foreigner about it, and ‘Gotta Get Out’ has similar Lou Gramm vibes and that classic feel of the heyday of such bands circa 1982 – surely a track perfectly made for an 80s action film montage.

Howe shine again on ‘Wait A Little Longer’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll (Is Good for You)’, both heads-down rumbunctious knock-abouts in the mould of Heep, Deep Purple and Rainbow, the melody and ballsy heft there for all to enjoy.

The mighty Jeff Scott Soto appears with his unique voice on “Better Watch Out”, a killer ’80s Purple-esque hard rocker with an excellent vocal performance over the underlying riff and yes, another excellent guitar solo.
Lee Small makes his not inconsiderable vocal presence felt on ‘The Dice Rolls On’ and the superior AOR of ‘Don’t Say No’, whilst the outstanding honeyed tones of Steve Overland graces their take on Bad Company’s ‘Holy Water’, the band having a party on this lively and touching tribute to their fallen comrade who went on to sing for the Blues Rock superstars.

So the wheel of fate that saw White Spirit disband 40 years ago, turned once more, unveiling the lost tapes that finally reveal the first album recorded by Brian Howe, sounding as fine as he ever did.
White Spirit is planning live shows, with Tucker & Pearson already writing the next album. We can be sure it won’t be another 40 years before that is released.


01 – Right or Wrong (lead vocals; Jeff Scott Soto)
02 – Runaway (lead vocals; Brian Howe)
03 – The Dice Rolls On (lead vocals; Lee Small)
04 – Lady of the Night (lead vocals; Brian Howe)
05 – Gotta Get Out (lead vocals; Brian Howe)
06 – Better Watch Out (lead vocals; Jeff Scott Soto)
07 – Don’t Say No (lead vocals; Lee Small)
08 – Wait a Little Longer (lead vocals; Brian Howe)
09 – Holy Water (lead vocals; Steve Overland)
10 – Rock and Roll Is Good For You (lead vocals; Brian Howe)

Brian Howe – lead vocals
Mick Tucker – guitar
Toby Sadler – bass
Malcolm Pearson – keyboards
Graeme Crallan – drums
Neil Murray (Whitesnake) – bass
Russell Gilbrook (Uriah Heep) – drums
Jeff Scott Soto (WET) – lead vocals
Lee Small (Lionheart) – lead vocals
Steve Overland (FM) – lead vocals


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2 Responses

  1. Neil Tudor says:

    Howe is a great singer…. Im afraid once again…the mix has spoiled an album….. Howe can hardly be heard..whose ears approves of this stuff????? really!!

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