Epitaph – Outside The Law
Recorded in November 1973 at the Omega studios in Chicago, “Outside The Law” is undoubtedly still the definitive EPITAPH album. The sound engineer was Dave “Grape” Purple, who won the 1971 Grammy for Best Engineered Recording on Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft”. The recording of “Outside the Law” was completed in just 5 days, with very few overdubs, and the final mix was done by Ed Cody at the United Technique studio on Chicago’s South Side.
So how does a German rock band get to be recorded by studios and engineers who built their reputations on black music – and produce such a brilliant album?
In early summer 1972, EPITAPH did a mind-blowing rock festival gig at Berlin’s Waldbühne stadium. Also present that day was Gary Pollack, head of Billingsgate Records, who stopped Cliff Jackson on the way to the dressing room with the
announcement that “in six weeks you guys will be doing a US tour”. Knowing that no German rock bands had ever toured or recorded in the USA before, Cliff and the guys were somewhat sceptical about the project. But sure enough, EPITAPH landed at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in August 1972 for a successful twenty-day tour.
Returning on a cloud of euphoria to the band residence near Visselhovede in northern Germany (plenty of poets, painters, animals, and ladies, but no heating, no bath, and only an outside toilet) work commenced on a new album. The demo was recorded two months later at the Windrose Studio in Hamburg and then sent over to Gary Pollack, who invited the band to come back to Chicago to do the full recording of “Outside the Law”.
While Billingsgate was preparing the release of the album, EPITAPH spent their time gigging around the Chicago area.
It was around this time that Irving Azoff, then managing Joe Walsh, wanted to take EPITAPH under his wing. The band met up with him for two days to try and work out a deal, but the German manager they already had developed some seriously cold feet. Bearing in mind that their manager, Werner Kuhls, did not speak a word of English, it was hard to comprehend just which of Azoff’s propositions he was objecting to. The net result was that EPITAPH couldn’t get out of the contract with Kuhls, and Kuhls was dreaming of hitting the big time. Ordered back to Germany for a Europe-wide tour, it was soon clear that Kuhls was no Azoff. The tour turned out to be fronting for Status Quo, and one festival gig. Azoff went on to represent such artists as The Eagles, Jewel, Van Halen, Neil Diamond, Steely Dan, Guns N’ Roses, and Christina Aguilera, to name but a few.
Werner Kuhls went on to be a concert promoter and publisher of the German version of Rolling Stone. Now without a manager, EPITAPH hoped for success with Billingsgate.
When they returned to the US for their third tour in late 1974, it soon became clear that despite excellent sales of the album, Billingsgate was in dire straits and unable to finance a proper promotional tour. Two months of sporadic gigs later, the guys returned to Germany.
When Billingsgate was finally declared officially bankrupt, the band was afraid it might get stuck with some of the debt, so
officially split up in January 1975. Klaus, Bernie and new drummer Panzer Lehmann played with various German bands, while Cliff headed off in the direction of Kathmandu.
Having shaken off the disappointment of the Billingsgate episode, the band members got together once again later that year to lay down some tracks in Dortmund. The tapes were lost.
The band continued in various line-ups throughout the eighties, producing a number of albums.
Following a suggestion from Rudolf Schenker of the Scorpions, Jim McGillivray and Cliff Jackson got the band together again for the now legendary Live at the Brewery concert in 2000. Sometime later, Cliff was sorting out his cellar, and found the “Lost Tapes”. EPITAPH fans now have the chance a selection of these “Lost Tapes” which have been added here as bonus tracks. And the twenty-five year wait has been well worthwhile.
Story by Alistair A. Tarwid
- Reflexion (Cliff Jackson) 5:17
- Woman (Cliff Jackson/Bernd Kolbe) 4:18
- Big City (Cliff Jackson) 5:53
- In Your Eyes (Cliff Jackson) 2:50
- Outside The Law (Cliff Jackson/Klaus Walz) 6:05
- Tequila Shuffle (Bernd Kolbe/Cliff Jackson/Klaus Walz) 4:59
- Fresh Air (Cliff Jackson/Bernd Kolbe/Klaus Walz) 9:01
Taken from the never before released recordings “The Lost Tapes” (1974)
8.Train To The City (Cliff Jackson/Bernd Kolbe) 4:03
9. Wasted So Much Time (Cliff Jackson/Bernd Kolbe) 3:00
10. Kind Of A Man (Cliff Jackson/Bernd Kolbe) 4:54
LIVE – TRACKS
Recorded live at the Brewery, Unna
(2000, the Reunion Concert)
11. Woman (Cliff Jackson/Bernd Kolbe) 5:53
12. Outside The Law (Cliff Jackson/Klaus Walz) 7:53
13. Jims Thing (Jim McGillivray) 2:49
14. Big City (Cliff Jackson) 6:32