Drums / Percussion,
The first song the band wrote together was “Kings”, showing the strong Rush influence for which Chasar became famous (infamous?) and at first they did sound like a heavy-metal Rush, going so far as to include several Rush covers in their set. the material grew heavier the more they wrote, drawing their influences from across the rock spectrum from Sabbath to UFO and Thin Lizzy, and there was more of a focus for Alec¹s scary fusion/prog influenced guitar playing. early gig recording circulated around this time, from an Irvine show, and this may have been officially available at gigs ... no one can remember!
By the time of the initial cassette-only release of the album “Chasar” (on the band's own label, MPM) in 1983, Chasar had a strong live following and reputation throughout Scotland, further enhanced by an excellent “Kerrang!” review of an Aberdeen gig from their 1982 tour with Pallas. were able to tour successfully throughout most of the UK, which had led to a reputation-cementing session for Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show on Radio One.
The album was produced by the band, recorded in two and a half days at Run Rig's Castlesound studio in Edinburgh. A thousand cassette sales later, it was finally picked up by American Phonograph and given a UK vinyl release at the end of June 1985, and was given a great review in “Kerrang!” - quote... this is progression on a level with Zeppelin (“Houses of the Holy”) and Rush (“Caress of Steel”), the epitome of corrosive power surge but engulfed with the intelligence of perfect song construction.
(Extraneous autobiographical note: it was just before the release of the LP that I first met the band, getting to know them first as Alec¹s guitar student, then also as an occasional roady over the next four years of Chasar’s Never Ending UK Tour.)
The band was misled as to the album's sales and availability (American Phonograph told them it had been deleted in 1986; in fact the album remained on the label's stock list for at least a further two years). addition to this, and without Chasar's knowledge, a Belgian-pressed European issue of the LP was released sometime around 1987 on Mausoleum Records as “Gypsy Roller” (this was issued on CD in the 90s). There was also an obscure European compilation LP,“War On The Planet” apparently featuring a couple of Chasar tracks, most likely from the “Chasar ”/”Gypsy Roller'“ album. The fact that these releases seem to have been licensed from American Phonograph or related parties, and that “Gypsy Roller” was repackaged with a new title and cover implies that UK sales of the LP had been healthy (I was working in record shops at that time and the album¹s sales were strong in those stores right up until I left in 1988) - the band however were left in the dark.
By the time of the “Kerrang!” album review (as well as a “Mega Metal Kerrang!” interview which was a ruined opportunity thanks to the English writer’s decision to spend the whole piece witlessly taking the piss out of the band’s accents), Chasar had decided on expanding the line up to include a vocalist as Alec had always been somewhat reluctant in the role. Danza and Pete Scallon had each filled the role in 85/86 before Ian Taitz took over. stayed with the band until 1988, recording several high-profile demos (receiving air play on the Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show, and extensive air play on Radio Clyde, particularly Tom Russell's Rock Show) and an unreleased 12” EP. also fronted the band for their 1987 appearance at the Kelvingrove Rock Festival in Glasgow, which was broadcast on Radio Clyde (at least one earlier Kelvingrove set - probably 1984 - was also broadcast by Clyde, photos from that show appearing here and on the back of the LP cover).
While still a popular live attraction on the rock circuit, the band finally called it a day in 1988, reforming briefly the following year for a one-off gig in Alva. final few gigs were as the original three-piece line up. the next few years the was periodic talk of a reunion, rumours even appearing as news in Kerrang! that they were reforming as a five-piece with a new singer and keyboard player but nothing came of it. the meantime Alec worked with violinist George Foutar and toured with covers band No Dice.
The four-piece line up with Ian Tait(z) was set to reform in the 90s but plans were halted for good when Peter Marshall was tragically killed in a road accident. In the mid 90s Alec joined prog-rockers “Monitor Lizard”. band changed their name to “Exit” and released an excellent album, “Turn The Page”.
In 1999 a website appeared, run by myself, first called “Gypsy Rollers” then “Chasar Online”, which was intended as a straight forward information resource on Chasar. in the band was still very strong, with a mixture of old fans and new ones who¹d got into the band via the album, which has become something of an underground favourite in metal circles around the world. came in from Belgium, France, the US, Brazil ... there was even the guitarist from a Mexican metal band looking for detailed answers to some very in depth questions about Alec’s 1983 setup so that he could duplicate it on his band’s upcoming album!
In 2001, this wave of interested sparked CDR reissues via Traxstudio of the Chasar album and Exit¹s “Turn The Page”. gained rave reviews in Sweden Rock magazine. was also a CDR issue of demos (“Official Bootleg”) - unfortunately it was of very poor quality. the early 2000’s there was an encyclopaedia of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal published which featured an in depth entry on Chasar.
Jim Marshall left a message on the “Chasar Online” guest book saying that he, Alec and Ian had jammed again, and that while it had been great, nothing had come of it. recent years Ian Tait (now minus the showbiz “z”!) has been playing the Glasgow rock covers band circuit with Touch And Go, while Alec put together another line up of “No Dice”, also featuring ex-members of Exit and Glasgow, which has proved very popular throughout . Dice released a covers EP in 2.
Funnily enough I¹ve just realised as I was writing this - for the “Glasband 80” site - that I never actually saw Chasar in Glasgow, although their main fan-base was through here. know that The Venue was a regular haunt, as was The Heathery in Wishaw; they played The Apollo for at least one support, and of course there were the Kelvingrove Festivals. , I saw them storm the town halls of Central Scotland and a fair few rock clubs and pubs besides.
Regardless of where you saw them, though - Chasar were fucking great.
There has been no further word on reissuing the band’s considerable catalogue of recordings, from the album itself, through the album-quality demos and unreleased EP sessions, to the Radio One sessions and Radio Clyde live broadcasts. like a hell of a missed opportunity. the meantime, the vinyl issues of the album can be costly with ambitious eBayers routinely asking over £50 for the “Chasar” and “Gypsy Roller” versions. you can be expected to shell out upwards of £20 for a nice shiny “Chasar”, around half that for a spanking “Gypsy Roller”. tape prices are anybody’s guess, though one went on eBay for just shy of £20 a few years back
Some of these photos where taken from Chasar online.
The Chasar profile was Written by Craig Hughes
Special thanks to Craig Hughes Craig Hughes for providing all of the information for the Chasar part of GB80, Cheers Craig!
Also thanks to Martin Wylie and Michael Greer for some of the photos.