Cherry Red Records have released the definitive CD reissue of Jon Lord‘s excellently eloquent 1982 solo album Before I Forget.
The album warrants reappraisal not just for featuring a slew of very familiar friends of Jon’s, but also for being a very versatile album – including its five bonus tracks – which sees Jon exhibit all his keyboard skills from rocking the Hammond over rhythm’n’blues piano and brilliant classically themed Moog work that really is a beauty to behold.
The A-list of performers includes: Deep Purple‘s Ian Paice, Whitesnake‘s Bernie Marsden and Neil Murray, Cozy Powell of Rainbow, Black Sabbath, etc., Bad Company‘s Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke and Boz Burrell, and session drummer extraordinaire Simon Phillips with delicious and distinct vocals supplied by the mother-daughter duo of Vicky and Sam Brown plus Tony Ashton and Elmer Gantry.
Let’s have a look at the music on Before I Forget. The original side A contains the louder tracks.
Kicking off with the blues rocker Chance on a Feeling, the album lures you into familiar territory coming as it did during Jon’s years with Whitesnake. Sung by Bernie Marsden, the track also features Ian Paice and Neil Murray.
Tender Babes might catch you by surprise. It’s an instrumental featuring “the best thunderer in the business” Cozy Powell pushing Jon’s take on an original medieval tune along on both piano, Hammond and Mini Moog.
Hollywood Rock’n’Roll is an all out rhythm’n’blues complete with female backing vocals and Tony Ashton guiding us over Bad Company’s backing track.
One of the album’s absolute highlights is Bach Onto This, Jon’s take on Bach‘s Toccata for which Jon wheels out a veritable feast of keyboards – Hammond, piano and assorted Moogs – to create a mini orchestra feel while Simon Phillips provides out-of-this-world drumming over Neil Murray and Bernie Marsden’s amble backing. A genuine tour-de-force.
Over on the album’s original side B, the moods calms down as we ease into the title track Before I Forget, a slow and haunting ballad again featuring the Whitesnake crew plus the Browns on soothing vocals.
Say It’s Alright has Vicky Brown on stunning lead vocals on a truly magnificient power ballad.
Burntwood – titled after Jon’s home at the time – is a delicately haunting piano piece complete with Neil Murray’s smooth fretless bass lines and distant Moog synth strings carressing the ear. After the album came out, Jon would often use snatches of this during his onstage solos with Whitesnake.
Where Are You? finds Jon lost and lonely in a hotel room on tour somewhere with vocals by Elmer Gantry. Another raspy voice that suits Jon’s melancholic music so well.
From here we move into the five bonus tracks. This is actually the third CD edition of Before I Forget but it’s the only one to feature all the various bonus tracks that have been made available over the years – save for the 16-minute radio interview by Phil Easton that was included on RPM Record’s original CD edition from 1994.
Going Home was a 7″ single b-side at the time and features the Bad Company crew on a backing, which Jon apparently found a little too light weight at the time as the session seemingly took place at the end of a long and inebriated evening. Nonetheless, it’s a jolly little tune.
Ravel’s Pavane – or simply Pavane as it as titled on previous CD editions – is Jon playing around on keyboards with a beautiful traditional work rearranged by himself.
Bach Onto This (single edit) is just that – a truncated 4 minute version of the original 8 minute piece.
Lady and For a Friend are – along with Pavane – the real gems among the bonus music. Pavane and Lady are outtakes from the original album sessions. Lady has beautiful vocals by Vicky Brown, while For a Friend is actually Jon’s tribute to Vicky Brown recorded in 1992 or 1993 after she passed away. (The more keen eared listeners will recognize some of the synth sounds appearing halfway through on this from Jon’s onstage solos with Deep Purple in 1993.)
The CD booklet comes with full credits for all tracks as well as contemporary photos of Jon and specially commissioned liner notes from Jon’s band mate in Whitesnake, Neil Murray.