Category Archives: mod

locomotive

LOCOMOTIVE: first incarnation, 1965 photo credit, JIM SIMPSON

Reading the ‘tags’ above, you’d be forgiven for thinking there had been some kind of editorial cock-up. Ska & Blue Beat? Yes, obviously, if you played the track above. Prog / progressive rock? Eh?

Read on – I shall explain.

Locomotive (initially billed as The Locomotive)were formed in Birmingham, England, during 1965, by trumpet playing jazz musician, Jim Simpson. (Jim is on the far right of the opening image, above.) The original line-up, which wasn’t to last too long, also boasted Chris Wood (bottom left of photo) who would leave towards the end of 1966 to join forces with Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, to form Traffic.

There had been several personnel changes throughout 1966 and Chris’s departure left only Jim Simpson of the original line-up.

Amongst those enlisted to the new line-up was keyboard player Norman Haines who had previously played with The Brum Beats. Norman worked in a record shop in the Smethwick area of Birmingham which had a large West Indian population. The shop would meet the local demand for ska and blue-beat records, and Norman himself became a big fan of the genre.

His influence was brought to bear with the release of the ‘new’ band’s first single ‘Broken Heart.’Written by Haines, it had a blue-beat feel, but was drenched in soulful vocals and horns.

Other than the track itself, there are two interesting facts about this release:
1) it was the last records to be played on the original ‘Jukebox Jury’ television programme … and voted a ‘Miss.’ And it was.
2) the B-side was a cover of Dandy Livingstone‘s ‘Rudy, A Message To You,‘ which would become a hit for The Specials some twelve years later.

The following year, saw the band spend eight weeks in the UK charts, peaking at number twenty-five, with ‘Rudi’s In Love.‘ (This single would be reissued in both 1971 and 1980 during the respective periods of skinhead and two tone popularity, the latter being when I myself bought a copy.)

The remaining original band member, Jim Simpson left in 1968 to concentrate on music management … and did reasonably well, I’d say, going on to eventually look after Black Sabbath.

With a ‘hit’ single and lots of airplay behind them, an album deal beckoned and in early 1969, the lead single from the soon to be released, ‘We Are Everything You See’ long player hit the shops.

You will of course have detected a change in Locomotive’s musical direction!

Opening with a short classical piece, ‘Overture,‘ the album then progresses into blend of psychedelic, jazz and soul. Listening to ‘Mr Armageddan’ puts me in mind of some Paul Weller / Style Council type songs that would follow, the best part of forty years later.

‘Lay Me Down Gently‘ in parts echos The Small Faces, while the Nigel Phillips (three part) composition ‘The Loves of Augustus Abbey‘ has that prog-rock reflection of medieval England.

It’s most certainly an adventurous release. However, as great as it sounds, and no matter the positive music press reviews , the album pretty much bombed as it was released to a somewhat confused fanbase.

Perhaps understandably, established fans of the ska-infused Locomotive did not take to the new prog- rock imbued version of the band. Likewise, the new target audiences regarded them as a bit ‘poppy,’ and were reluctant to buy in.

The follow-up single, ‘I’m Never Gonna Let You Go,’ a cover of the ? and The Mysterions song, also missed the charts.

As a result, Parlophone delayed the album’s release. It did eventually see the light of day in February 1970, but by this time, Norman had left the band and in effect, Locomotive no longer existed.

With no promotion or marketing, sales were unsurprisingly poor, and the album was quickly withdrawn, marking it a rare collector’s item, with copies at time of writing for sale via Discogs at upwards of £500!

Norman would go on to form Sacrfice, later to be known simply as The Norman Haines Band. Remaining band members Bob Lamb (who would later join The Steve Gibbons Band) Mick Hincks, John Caswell and Keith Millar would record one more single before changing the band name to The Dog That Bit People.

Yeah – while the ability to diversify is a great attribute, I wonder how things would have turned out had the band simply avoided any confusion and conflict of fanbase by changing their name prior to releasing the album.

(I love this track! The B-side to Mr Amagedddon)

LOCOMOTIVE
(Throughout their time, I count twenty musicians who played with the band. The following are those I believe were involve with the album’s recording.)

Norman Haines – Keyboards / Vocals
Bill Madge – Saxophone
Mick Hincks – Bass / Vocals
Bob Lamb – Drums
Mick Taylor – Trumpet
+
Dick Heckstall-Smith – Saxophone (session musician)
Henry Lowther – Trumpet (session musician)
Chris Mercer – Saxophone (session musician)

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Broken Heart7″ single1967Direction
Rudi’s In Love7″ single1968Parlophone
I’m Never Gonna Let You Go7″ single1969Parlophone
Mr. Armageddan7″ single1969Parlophone
Roll Over Mary 7″ single1970Parlophone
We Are Everything You SeeLP1970Parlophone


(** Reference was made to the brumbeat.net website in preparation of this piece. **)

the quik

Unfortunately, there is not much information to be had about this five-piece from Southampton.

They recorded three singles for the Decca subsidiary label, Deram, all in 1967.Their sound fell very much into the Mod / Freakbeat / Soul mould, and label hopes were high that they’d prove competition for the established R&B acts of the mid-Sixties.

But taking on the likes of The Rolling Stones was always going to be an ambitious target.

None of the three singles achieved chart success, although ‘Bert’s Apple Crumble,’ the B-side to their initial release, ‘Love Is A Beautiful Thing’ ( a cover of the Young Rascals song) proved very popular in the Mod club scene.

Each single is now well sought after by collectors, with copies of the aforementioned exchanging hands on Discogs for £230, £150 & £125 in May 2021.

(My favourite!)

All three singles an now be found on various CD compliations … and of course, your favourite streaming platform, if you’re that way inclined.

THE QUIK
(Names of members remain shrouded in mystery!)

RELEASES BY THE QUIK.

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEAR
Love Is A Beautiful Thing / Bert’s Apple Crumble7″ singleDeram1967
King Of The World / My Girl 7″ singleDeram1967
I Can’t Sleep / Soul Full Of Sorrow7″ singleDeram1967

wynder k. frog

Mick Weaver

It’s funny what a young mind retains.

As a seventeen year old, I’d avidly read the sleeve notes of all my LPs. I still do. The difference is, some forty-six years later, that I now quickly forget even reading the album cover, never mind the detail it imparted.

However, when I read that Wynder K. Frog was actually the name adopted by and accredited to the band of keyboard player Mick Weaver, I immediately associated him as an integral part of The Frankie Miller Band that produced the brilliant 1975 album, ‘The Rock.

Mick formed the jazz / blues influenced band in 1967 and initially played mainly on the London circuit. An early gig saw the band, support the newly formed Traffic. Their paths would cross again a couple of years later, when Steve Winwood left Traffic to form the short-lived Blind Faith and Mick Weaver joined the remaining members to form the laboriously named Mason – Capaldi – Wood – Frog (aka Wooden Frog).

This association lasted all of three months, with no recorded output and only a handful of live shows to show fro their efforts. Mick then reverted to session work with some high profile artists, such as Buddy Guy; Steve Marriott; Roger Chapman; Joe Cocker …. and Frankie Miller, amongst others.

Which is where we came in.

Wynder K. Frog released two albums in the UK, both of which are mainly instrumental covers of established hits. The debut album, ‘Sunshine Superfrog,’ released in 1967, was recorded with Mick surrounding himself with (uncredited) New York session musicians, beefing up his distinctive Hammond organ sound with soulful horns.

The one ‘original’ on the album, is the swirling and ever so funky, ‘I Feel So Bad,’ featured at the top of this post.

The sound was well received in mod / soul / Northern Soul / jazz circles, especially around the London area, where the latter genre was having something of a renaissance.

The follow up album, ‘Out of the Frying Pan‘ was released a year later. Again, it features an eclectic mix of covers, ranging from a stonking version of ‘Green Door,’ which garnered decent airplay at the time of its release, to ‘Willie & The Hand Jive‘ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’

Mick wrote two of the tracks on this one, ‘Gasoline Alley,’ and this, the wonderfully quintessentially Sixties, ‘Harpsichord Shuffle.’

Shortly after the band broke up, their U.S. label, United Artists, released the ‘Into The Fire’ album featuring six original tracks.

Five 7″ singles were also released in the UK, including this cover of The Spencer Davis Group’sI’m a Man.’

WYNDER K. FROG
Mick Weaver – Keyboards
Neil Hubbard / Mike Liber – Guitar
Chris Mercer – Sax
Bruce Rowland – Drums
Alan Spenner – Bass
Rebop Anthony Kwabaku – Congas

RELEASES BY WYNDER K. FROG

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEARNOTES
Turn On Your Lovelight / Zooming7″ singleIsland1966/ 1967
Sunshine Superman / Blues From A Frog7″ singleIsland1967
Green Door / Dancing Frog7″ singleIsland1967
I Am a Man / Shook Shimmy And Shake7″ singleIsland1967
Jumpin’ Jack Flash / Baldy7″ singleIsland1968
Sunshine SuperfrogLPIsland1967
Out Of The Frying PanLPIsland1968
Into The FireLPUnited Artists1970Released only in USA