Well, N.W.O.B.H.M. afficianados are surely familiar with the name Dealer. It was the well-known Ebony label which released their one and only album called "First Strike" in 1986. Three years before, however, the band had released a seldom seen 7" single on the tiny Windrush label (with a circulation of 1,000 copies). Towards the end of the '80's, the band disbanded and not too much was heard of them since. So the limited vinyl release of "Bootlegged" will come as a nice surprise for all fans of Dealer's true blue N.W.O.B.H.M. sound. "Bootlegged" is, despite the name, a high-quality collection of never before heard demo recordings by one of the N.W.O.B.H.M.'s last secrets. Singer/guitarist Trevor Short shares my joy of how good the material on the new album is: "It was quite probably the quality of our demos that got us the deal with Ebony. I have also remastered them, to get the best out of them that I could. Ebony insisted we recorded the album at their studio. In hind-sight I have to agree with you, the quality of the demos for the most part were better than that of the album. We always tried hard to get a good demo and spent a lot of time doing them. Ebony gave us five days to record and mix "First Strike" and to be honest we weren't happy with the album."
"Bootlegged" might turn out to be a slightly misleading title for an album, which does not sound anything like a bootleg. Trevor does indeed see my point: "Yeah ... I think I was trying to be too clever! I was aware that there were quite a few bootlegs of our stuff out there and it was meant to be a sort of 'play on words'. I realize now that it wasn't clever at all!" Whereas most of the material on "Bootlegged" is indeed bona fide N.W.O.B.H.M. (just listen to the epic, unabridged version of "The Final Conflict"), the image of the band (and the accompanying press photos) always came across as quite colourful, if you know what I mean ... What about this discrepancy? Trevor Short: "The N.W.O.B.H.M. didn't exist when we started out. We just wanted to play heavy metal (as we knew it). It was more a matter of timing, we got labelled as N.W.O.B.H.M. coz we were British and played heavy metal. Don't get me wrong, it was good for us and we certainly didn't mind. But we just did what we did and we liked dressing up." Towards the end of their career Dealer was certainly a bit more influenced by bands like Def Leppard and also maybe Mötley Crüe. Trev agrees: "All bands evolve, and I, as the main writer, was influenced by what I was listening to. I think (personally) that Def Leppard are one of the best rock bands that this country has produced. It may have been a bit of a taste of things to come, we started to look at American bands, Mötley Crüe included, and we liked what they had going on and saw it as the way forward, who knows? As I said before, we just did what we did. Things possibly got a bit more contrived in the Vandamne era but as far as Dealer goes we just had a fucking good time! And BOY did we!" As just mentioned, Vandamne followed Dealer: "A different thing altogether. We were starting to get influenced by American bands like Dokken (and we liked dressing up), it just seemed to be the way we were going really. Ashley became quite a big influence in the band, pretty much writing all the music, based around his incredible ability to come up with great riffs. And we were very fortunate to have two awesome guitarists which just took us to the next level. And we seemed to gain a bit more credibility musically." Before Dealer, Trevor Short was a member of Axe Victims for a short time (not to be confused with the German band of the same name) and then Lone Wolf: "Axe Victims was the start of it all really. I was asked to join them, then I kinda took over. We got Pete in on bass, changed to a four piece and became Lone Wolf. We changed that name to Dealer when Paul Di'anno stole our name."