There are few bands who can claim to have built their reputation on one single – in reality, one song, but such is the situation for Cheshire band Aragorn. One of the first acts to sign to Neat Records as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal erupted more than 20 years ago, fate conspired to ensure that they only ever released one single, but ‘Black Ice’ – the main track – has definitely become something of a cult track among aficionados of the genre.

Mid-paced, yet laced with a neck-snapping riff, it has survived the ravages of time considerably better than many other releases at the time. And it is indeed proof that Aragorn should have gone on to achieve a lot more than was to prove the case.

So, who the hell are this one single wonder? The original line-up emerged in August 1978, featuring guitarist Jon Hull, vocalist Chris Dunne, drummer Chris Dadson and bassist Dale Lee. They stayed together for two years, but didn’t actually set the world on fire. However, things started to click into gear when Mike Ellis replaced Dadson; the latter would eventually work with Canadian singer Lee Aaron, while the new incarnation of Aragorn inked that deal with Neat, and recorded the aforementioned ‘Black Ice’ single, as well as the B-side ‘Noonday’.

One of the major problems the band faced was their inability to hold on to any line-up. So it might have come as no surprise that, as soon as the single was recorded, there was yet another shift in personnel, with Chris White coming in for Dale Lee. At this stage, the band really seemed to be kicking on, landing prestigious support slots with the likes of Iron Maiden, Raven and Spider. But by April 1981, the band suffered yet more upheaval with the arrival of second guitarist Andy Helliwell. It was at this stage that the band finally followed up the comparative success of ‘Black Ice’ by recording a second seven incher, ‘Hungry For Your Love’. But in typical Aragorn fashion, it was decided that the band’s ongoing instability didn’t make it logical for any further releases to be scheduled. The logic was that, once the Cheshire crew had found their feet with a long-term line-up, then they could take the leap to the next level – sadly, that was never to happen.

By September 1981, the band were down to a core trio of Hull, White and Dunne, and the search for a suitable bassist proved to be almost like seeking the Holy Grail, only more elusive. The likes of Lionel Murz, Tony Backhouse and Graham Timson came and went very quickly, as Aragorn desperately tried to find the right formula. And, at last, it seemed as if things had settled down by April 1982, when Nigel Stollof arrived to plug the bass gap

Typically, as luck would have it, now that Aragorn had their long sought stability, the music climate was starting to shift away from their full-on NWOBHM style assault. So the foursome were without a label, and forced to struggle on without any financial support. Undeterred, they pressed on, and even recorded an album in late 1982/early 1983. But, perhaps not unexpectedly given the band’s catalogue of disasters and mishaps when on the verge of something special, Aragorn split up in July 1983, leaving the album to gather dust on the shelf – until now.

Mike Ellis briefly joined Manchester hopefuls AIIZ (replacing future Dio/AC/DC man Simon Wright), while both Chris Dunne and Jon Hull briefly flirted with other bands, before heading towards obscurity.

But now, the full story can be told. And, as Ellis himself, points out, the unearthing on that previously unavailable album (as well an early demo and their second single) has come about because of a combination of detective work and serendipity….

“Over the years, I had always kept an eye out for any mention of Aragorn, no matter how minor,” recalls Ellis “One day, I was sat in my office finishing reading the latest edition of ‘Classic Rock’ magazine, when I saw an advert for Sanctuary Records’ latest releases. Among the new CDs, was the Neat compilation ‘The Flame Burns On’ - and our magnum opus, ‘Black Ice’ was included

“This pricked my curiosity as to whether there was any interest in the band. I found a couple of websites listing basic details of the single, but what intrigued me was a site I later found out to be run by Phil Lentz in the USA. In his collection, he listed not only the single, but a ‘demo’ tape with three tracks. This turned out to be our follow-up single to ‘Black Ice’ -  what fascinates me is how did it get into circulation? I’d never had a copy of it! I contacted Phil, asking if I could have a copy. Almost immediately, he e-mailed me back somewhat pleased to have had a message from a long lost NWOBHM band member! He very kindly made a copy of the CD and sent it to me. In return, I dug around my old tapes and discovered not only a cassette of the album, but a number of tapes of demos and rehearsals and sent him copies. He was of the opinion that there may be quite a few die-hards out in the world who would be keen to hear this material.”

Amazingly, Ellis had only a cassette copy of the album. And, to his shock, discovered that neither Hull nor Dunne – both of whom he tracked down – had anything. So, that tape suddenly became extremely valuable – and it’s from this that the 12 tracks recorded two decades ago for that album have been lovingly reconstructed. Incredibly, the sonic passion and power has remained virtually undimmed by the ravages of years being stored in a wooden box under Ellis’ proverbial bed! And when you hear what this band could achieve, there’s only one question that needs to be asked: why didn’t they make an impact back then?

Together with the three tracks that were supposed to make up the ‘Hungry For Your Love’ single, plus demos recorded in two different sessions (the first in 1980, the second two years later), this is the first complete musical record of a band who deserved so much more than was to be their lot.


Aragorn earned almost mythic status because of one song – now they can rightly claim a little more substantial respect for their ability and skill.

Malcolm Dome (TotalRock Radio)



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