Ancient Grease

Ancient Grease

Ancient Grease were a band I had never heard before flicking through Vernon Joynson’s epic ‘Tapestry of Delights‘ books. On page #29 of around two thousand spread over two tomes, there is a short entry relating to this Welsh hard rock / psych band and their one album release from 1970.

What a great find! It’s kind of like crate-digging in a second hand record store but with more instant results. References to ‘snarling guitar,’ ‘thumping bass’ and ‘good psychedelic rocker’ immediately piqued my interest and so an afternoon was filled scrolling through the internet to find out more.

Initially a covers band called Strawberry Dust, they played local venues around their native Rhondda Valley in South Wales. In 1969, while supporting another group from that area, The Eyes of Blue, they so impressed drummer John Weathers that he booked them recording time to produce a demo that he then passed to his band’s label boss, Lou Reizner.

With his contacts and influences, Reizner managed to arrange a record deal with Mercury. Overnight recording sessions were conducted over the course of a week in 1970, at the iconic Rockfield Studios in the picturesque Wye Valley. Using songs written but not recorded by John Weathers and other members of The Eyes of Blue, the band’s debut and sadly, only, album ‘Women and Children First’ was produced … but not before their name was changed, just prior to release, to Ancient Grease.

The ten track album is a mix of heavy and bluesy rock; big riffs, growled vocals and tinges of psychedelia. Right up my street, then.

Unfortunately, Mercury Records didn’t give ‘Women and Children First‘ the amount of push necessary to get a brand new act noticed by the record buying public. John Weathers explained in a later interview:

“It was just not promoted. Mercury (Britain) was really just a tax loss for Mercury (USA). They’d signed Rod Stewart and he’d just finished ‘An Old Raincoat Will Never Let You Down‘ and they just put everything they had into that. And everything else went into the bottom drawer. You know; ‘It’ll find its own level.'”

UK release album cover
USA release album cover.

With hopes and aspirations of success dashed, the band reverted to their previous name, Strawberry Dust for a while before eventually they parted company to pursue other projects.

(Gareth Mortimer and Graham Williams would later link up again in the band Racing Cars, best known for their 1977 hit,’They Shoot Horses Don’t They.’)

Women and Children First‘ is an album I’d love to get into my collection – but with second hand vinyl copies going for around £100+ on Discogs, I may just have to satisfy myself with repeated You Tube plays for a while,

ANCIENT GREASE

Gareth ‘Morty’ Mortimer – Vocals
Graham Headley Williams – Guitar
Jack Bass – Bass
Dick ‘Ferndale’ Owen – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Women and Children FirstLP1970MercuryUSA release in 1970. UK release 1971. Album covers completely different.


Sources: Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights.’
Jazz Rock Soul

4 comments

  1. This brings the question…why even sign a band if you are not going to promote them? Damn that singer could belt out a song! Great stuff man… to me this would have fit in perfectly at the time. I like this much more than Black Sabbath and bands like that…the singer had balls in his voice.

    I’m working on a post for an unknown band called The Stems that I like… Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree… so many bands that didn’t get to see the light of day that should have. Even now there are rock bands out there sounding good…but they don’t get played.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Max.
      Yeah -there’s So much music out there from years gone by that never got to see the light of day for whatever reason. And in many cases, the bands had ‘the stuff’ of other big hitters but just didn’t get dem breaks.

      Which is what I try to highlight here on LOUD HORIZON. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! I’ve dropped the ball on mine for a while with these bands. As you know…it takes quite a bit of researching…a hell of a lot more than the Stones and Beatles. I’m working on a few now.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s