Stray – In session for John Peel – May 17, 1973 – BBC Radio 1 –
Stay in session for John Peel tonight. Recorded in May of 1973 and broadcast over BBC Radio 1.
I always had a soft spot for this band. They came about during a time when Rock was going through a series of radical changes – roads were taken and genres were splitting off and what was emerging from Psychedelia was, at least one offshoot; Hard Rock. As Led Zeppelin became the prototype for the genre, a lot of bands followed suit – some achieved success and some hovered around the fringes, joining the rapidly swelling ranks of overlooked and underrated. Stray themselves went through a number of style changes over the years – eventually embracing Heavy Metal (which was an end-result for a lot of bands during this period). They didn’t start out that way, and this session for John Peel illustrates that. This is also the period of time I became most familiar with them.
Stray were, bafflingly, never that popular in the U.S. – I am trying to remember if they actually had a distribution deal in America (they were on Transatlantic in the UK), and I don’t believe they did. For many bands in the UK and Europe in general, not getting a U.S. label deal was a potential death sentence, since the U.S. was a lucrative market, just by it’s size alone. So the American audience would have become familiar with Stray either by word of mouth from someone who saw them perform in the UK, or picked up an album while visiting London – of they were one of the lucky few to get one of the few import copies available at one of the even fewer record stores carrying imports at the time.
If you had eclectic taste in music, buying records to feed your habit was an ordeal throughout the 60s and 70s. There was no online anything and no easy way of obtaining an album you liked simply by asking for it. It took time and perseverance and the sums were often princely to get the tunes you were looking for.
So a band like Stray had a lot not going for them, which was a shame.
So it’s almost a certainty that you never heard this session, or were even familiar with these songs at the time if you lived in the U.S. on the early 70s.
Which is why you could use the reminder right about now – hit the Play button and crank this one up – you might be pleasantly surprised.