There are some albums you know that within a minute of dropping the needle on the record, are headed straight for the ‘favourites’ shelf in your collection. Such is the case with the debut album from 1968 from this New Zealand blues band.
But if the blues ain’t your scene, then wait – read on! You have to move with the times in the music business, and these young lads did just that in later years.
Formed in 1964, in Auckland, the band line-up passed through several transformations, while steadfastly sticking to its blues roots in face of the more popular Beatles influenced sound.
Their stubbornness to change direction paid divided though when British R&B began to break in the country and bands like The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds began to gain traction.
The band however that commanded most respect, and sway, for The Underdogs, was John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. And they weren’t shy of promoting that influence, with five of the songs on the debut album having already been recorded by the Englishman.
Three songs, however, all on side one, were written by band members Murray Grindlay (vocalist) and Louie Rawnsley (guitar) who according to the album’s sleeve notes, were both only seventeen at the time. Bass guitarist Neil Edwards was also only seventeen at the time of recording, while drummer Tony Walton was a mere eighteen.
Given their youth, the late 1967 Underdogs produced an amazing maturity of sound. However, all was not well within the band, even during the album’s recording.
Unwilling to follow the heavier, rock infused version of Blues, by now popularised by likes of Cream and Hendrix, and promoted by fellow band members, Grindlay and Rawnsley, bassist Neil Edwards was asked to leave.
The Underdogs briefly disbanded early in 1968 after the album release. However, they reformed a few months later and remained together, albeit with another couple of changes, long enough to release another single, ‘There Will Come A Time.’
Again though, they split not long after the release, and all was quiet for a while.
In 1970, original band leader / guitarist Harvey Mann, who had left to join The Brew shortly after the band’s debut single in 1967, got together with bassist Neil Edwards and recruited drummer Glen ‘Pig’ Absolum and reformed the band. This time though, they’d be a ‘power trio, producing that harder edged bluesy rock … that Edwards reportedly didn’t want to play several ears earlier!
This version of the band went on to perform as ‘Pig, Mann & Edwards,’ and recorded on excellent album, ‘Wasting Our Time‘ on Pye Records, late in 1970. Originals of this LP have also become much sought after with copies exchanging hands for up to £190.
Sadly though, this would be just about the last thing The Underdogs would do, and not long into 1971, they split up for good.
(Reissues of both albums were released, albeit on Limited runs of 500 copies, by Wah Wah Records in 2020)
THE UNDERDOGS (BLUES BAND)
Murray Grindlay – Vocals
Lou Rawnsley – Guitars
Neil Edwards – Bass
Tony Walton – Drums
PIG, MANN & EDWARDS
Harvey Mann – Guitar / Vocals
Neil Edwards – Bass
Glen ‘Pig’ Absolum – Drums
|Sitting In The Rain||7″ single||Zodiac||1967|
|Cheating ||7″ single||Zodiac||1967|
|Hey Gyp||7″ single||Zodiac||1967|
|Sitting In The Rain||7″ EP||Zodiac||1968||Has sold for £250+|
|There Will Come A Time||7″ single||Zodiac||1969|
Wasting My Time
|7″ single||Pye Records||1970|
|The Underdogs Blues Band||LP||Zodiac||1968||Has sold for @ £230+|
|Wasting Our Time||LP||Pye Records||1970||Has sold for @ £180+|