Pat Travers – Putting It Straight
When I was still collecting vinyl, Iron Maiden was my #1 interest. As you probably know they released a ton of stuff and I had a good selection of it thanks to Unicorn Records, Skinnies Records, Electric Smiles, Fantasy, eBay and trading through some pen pal type things from the backs of magazines. Oddly enough there were never any problems with the traders. I never got ripped off once. Honest lot those metalheads! As a subset to collecting Maiden stuff, I also was trying to collect everything that Nicko McBrain had played on. Not an easy task as there were some pretty obscure British things out there.
So my former supervisor and I were good friends and he told me about his record collection that had been sitting in his closet for 15 years. Knowing Mark like I did, I knew these were in near perfect condition. The guy was meticulous about everything. So I randomly stopped by Mark’s house one day (1993ish?) when I was in the neighborhood and we were just hanging out and catching up a bit as we hadn’t seen each other in a while. After a while I asked if he still had his records. He said he still had them and wanted to sell them. I wasn’t in the market to buy the collection but I surely wanted to peruse his crates. So he pulls out these 3 huge crates of records and I start flipping through one by one. Tons of 70s rock. You know, BOC, Zeppelin, Stones, Bob Seeger, Poco, America, etc etc. Nothing too obscure and surely nothing that a record collector would have paid more than 3-4 dollars each for.
There near the end of perusal, there it was. It was one of those heavenly “ahhhhhh” moments where it seemed like the clouds parted and the sun shone down on this box of records. Pat Travers’ Putting It Straight with Nicko on drums! Mark still claims to this day that I was shaking when I was holding it. I don’t doubt that I was. I was pretty excited. I said, “How much?” He responded, “Not for sale.” What a douche! But he did tell me to take it with me until I found my own copy. It was in pristine shape. PERFECT even. Shortly thereafter I found another vinyl copy at Skinnies and a year or 2 later he had the original and rare Jap pressing of the CD which I also bought.
I adore this album. It’s got Nicko’s signature drum licks written all over it. My favorites are Life In London, Offbeat Ride, Gettin’ Betta and It Ain’t What It Seems. The album as a whole is good and I highly recommend it if you’re into 70s hard rock.
Around 1994-1995 Pat came to town to play Wicker’s in Portsmouth, VA. I did my usual “show-up-to-the-gig-super-early” routine to hopefully meet the band. I lucked out as they were all inside getting ready to eat. I walked up to Pat and asked him to sign a few things for me and he was really cool. He signed my vinyl copy of this album and my CD cover. I asked him to talk about how it was to play with Nicko and he didn’t have many nice things to say. “Good drummer but a complete asshole after that whole Iron Maiden thing.” Apparently after Nicko joined Maiden, he landed his helicopter in Pat’s yard and bragged about his success. Who knows? I wouldn’t be that surprised if it was true. Not important to me either way. The guy that was sitting with us while we were talking about Nicko was Aynsley Dunbar. Of course I didn’t know that at the time. Had I known he was drumming for Pat, I would have brought my Jefferson Airplane and Journey stuff!
Nicko also played on Makin’ Magic which is also worth tracking down.