Category Archives: rock

joanne shaw taylor

(Photo: Christie Goodwin)
(Track # 8 from the new ‘The Blues Album.’)

Joanne Shaw Taylor has come a long way since being ‘discovered’ by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart – and not just geographically, relocating from her home in the Black Country, England, to Detroit, USA.

Now widely regarded as the UK’s premier blues rock guitarist, she is set to release album number eight on September 24th. ‘The Blues Album’ was recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville by blues legends Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, both of who guest on the eleven track album of blues covers.

Joanne and Joe had been friends for many years, initially meeting when Joanne opened a show for a young Joe Bonamassa some while back. Since then they have kicked ideas about and learned from each other.

So when the pandemic struck and normal life was no more, Joanne, like the rest of the world, finally found herself with some time on her hands.

“I’d known from the beginning of my recording career that one day I wanted to record an album of blues covers, I just wasn’t sure when the right time to do that would be,” says Joanne. “I’ve always found it far easier to write my own material than come up with creative ways to make other artists’ material my own.

That time was now!

(Photo by Christie Goodwin)

I mentioned my new project idea to Joe Bonamassa,” recalls Joanne. “He asked me for my song choices. Immediately he began sending me notes and was texting me song suggestions.

He was already acting as a mentor as well as an unofficial producer on The Blues Album, so I asked him if he’d fancy the job, officially,” says Joanne. “Thankfully, he accepted. The Blues Album has been everything I hoped it would be. It’s been a labour of love, overseen by an artist, producer, and friend who I trust beyond measure.

The covers on ‘The Blues Album,‘ are not your regular fair. Joe, having seen Joanne perform so many time previous, made it clear from the outset that he wanted her to push her voice. He felt, not unnaturally, that her virtuoso guitar playing overshadowed her voice, and there was more to give, vocally.

The songs the pair settled upon, I think offer that opportunity. They may not be the obvious blues standards, but there are some by likes of Albert King, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green and Magic Sam. Others that Joanne pays tribute to include Little Village, Little Milton, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and James Ray.

Some of the tracks were initially B-sides of singles, and so with Joanne’s personal and unique interpretation, the whole album sounds so fresh and new.

Album opener ‘Stop Messin’ Around,’was written by Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac and released in 1968, This version has a more ’rounded’ feel to it I think. The guitar doesn’t sound quite so harsh, the jazzy, boogie piano break from Reece Wynans adds a real party feel, while Joanne’s voice has a wee added snarl to it.

‘If That Ain’t A Reason,’ has Joanne sounding pretty sassy in a more full sounding and slightly more uptempo version of the Little Milton number, the horns and guitar melding into a loud and punchy number.

‘Keep On Lovin’ Me’ is the Blues mixed with a bit swing. A bouncy bassline drives this along, with powerful vocals and guitar solos from Joanne, who feel she has managed to encapsulate the feel of booth the Magic Sam and The Paladins‘ versions.

‘If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody’ was originally recorded by James Ray in 1961, though Joanne says she was more familiar (as was I) with the Aretha Franklin version. I can also hear a little bit of Bonnie Raitt in the vocals here,

The next track is on the album courtesy of a suggestion by co-producer Josh Smith. It’s Little Village‘s ‘Don’t Go Away Mad.’ and features Joe Bonamassa guesting on guitar and vocals, It”s certainly different to the other tracks on the album, and actually reminds me very much of Van Morrison’sBright Side of the Road.

I have no idea about the following short instrumental, ‘Scraps Vignette.’ Neither, it appears, does Joanne:
“We were working on another cover, and when we got to the studio, it just wasn’t working. We ended up having the band change the vibe completely. When I returned home to Detroit, I got in Rustbelt Studios with Al Sutton to put down the vocal, but it still wasn’t working. I believe Josh kept the take without the vocal and edited what we have now which is “Scraps”.

‘Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me,’ was originally a Stax release from Albert King. This is a tremendous cover – full sounding and brooding, it’s one to listen to. I mean really listen – there’s so much loaded into this one track between the horns, prominent bass, Joanne’s searing guitar work …. I hear something different every time I play this.

‘Let Me Down Easy‘can be heard at the top of this post. Another Little Milton song, Joanne’s voice take on a more gritty, slightly rasping tone … like a pared back Janis Joplin even.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds song, ‘Two Time My Loving‘ was suggested by producers Joe and Josh and is a real toe-tapper. I think it’s one of those songs you don’t realise you know until you actually hear it!

‘I Don’t Know What You’ve Got,‘ is a real smoky blues number, with such a soulful Hammond organ, and warm sounding horn section the underpinning features, with Joanne’s guitar moodily working over the top. Says Joanne:
“I’m a huge Little Richard fan this has long been one of my favourite songs. In fact, this was the first song I selected to put on this album. Little Richard didn’t perform or record too many ballads, so I think it’s a particularly stand-out track for him in my eyes. Having Reese Wynans playing keys on it was brilliant, given that Reese had worked with Little Richard.”

The album closes with a more upbeat number, again chosen by Joe and Josh – ‘Three Time Loser.’ I can’t say exactly why, but for some reason this track reminds me of one of my favourite artists, Frankie Miller. I’ve checked, and it’s not n any of his albums as far as I know …. but anyhow, that’s a pretty big compliment, right there!

Here’s a wee taste of what to expect on this album:

MUSICIANS INVOLVED WITH THE RECORDING.
Joanne Shaw Taylor – Guitar / Vocals
Josh Smith – Guitar
Reece Wynans – Keyboards
Greg Morrow – Drums
Steve MacKey – Bass
Steve Patrick – Trumpet
Mark Douthit – Saxophone
Barry Green – Trombone
+
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar / Vocals on ‘Don’t Go Away Mad’
+
Mike Farris – special guest on ‘I Don’t Know What You’ve Got.’

(Photo by Christie Goodwin)

Joanne Shaw Taylor’s “The Blues Album” is released by KTBA Records on September 24th via www.ktbarecords.com



ewan macfarlane

From a young age, we’re advised not to ‘judge a book by its cover.’ By the same token, as we grow older, we must learn not to judge a musician by their back catalogue.

Case in point would be Glaswegian, Ewan MacFarlane.

As a long time member of electo rockers Apollo 440 he would strut, sing, shout and dance on stages across the world, firing up crowds numbering in their thousands.

(The studio version of this track appeared on Apollo Four Forty’s 1996 album, ‘Electro Glide In Blue.’)’

As front-man of The Grim Northern Social, Ewan was the main songwriter of the critically acclaimed but regretfully short-lived band, whose debut album in 2003 was voted one of the year’s best by Rolling Stone magazine.

For a while during 2015 / 2016, he would liaise via the internet with Filip Rasch from southern Norway, to collaborate on a series of releases under the name of Mennska.

And now ….?

Nobody can really afford to stand still in the music industry. (Well, certain artists do, but in general they’re totally pants.) Some of the most successful continually re-invent themselves as they age, David Bowie being the prime example.

So, what’s led Ewan MacFarlane from the dance culture to the softer, (possibly Del Amitri inspired?) Americana infused melodic Rock of this post’s opening video – his latest single, ‘Underneath Your Spell‘?

Its high time I stepped out and made the music I always needed to make,” he says.

The single is the second to be lifted from his forthcoming (October 29th) debut solo album, ‘Always Everlong,’ following hard on the heels of the brilliant ‘Stirrin’ In The City,’ which is posted below.

Always Everlong,‘ tells tales of tension with pledges of eternal love. It’s an expression of his hopes and fears, emboldened by a personable approach to classic rock writing as Ewan bares his soul by putting pen to paper, unafraid of the consequences.

In his own words, “It’s both about a lust and love for life and for each other. It’s about endless boundaries, about taking the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, the laughter and the tears, but not least it’s about kicking down the walls of constraint and living life exactly how you choose. Free to be what you want to be without judgement.”

To my eternal shame, despite owning four Apollo 440 singles and living in the same Dear Green Place as Ewan I never made the connection between him, them, and The Grim Northern Social. I was probably too obsessed with hardcore punk at that time.

Taking a leaf from Ewan’s book, I think now is the time to re-invent the listener in me.

Who’s to stop me loving hardcore punk and melodic rock?

EWAN MACFARLANE (Band)

Ewan MacFarlane – Guitar / Lead Vocals (& probably lots more)
Davie Rollo – Guitar / Vocals
Andy Cowan – Keyboards
Dougie Hannah – Drums
Kirsty McAfferty – Keyboards / Vocals
Andy McAfferty – Bass
Jenigo & Ellaijai (Ewan’s daughters) – Backing Vocals

rory gallagher – a taste for the blues.

(Contributor: Colin Jackson.)

Eleven vinyl LPs; one vinyl EP; two ‘box set’ CDs; one triple CD set; twenty-one CDs; five DVDs and four Taste CDs.

You’d be correct in assuming I like Rory Gallagher!

I recall the very first time I heard Rory’s music. I was playing Subbuteo at my pal’s house. I was Chile, that day – red shirt, blue shorts. I can’t remember what team Derek was, but it wouldn’t matter – he’d have whooped my ass anyway. I was rubbish.

Derek shared a large bedroom with his older brother who at that time was a long-haired, senior school student, about four years older than me. He’d been doing paper rounds for several years and so was ‘minted,’ as we’d say in Glasgow. And all his money it seemed, he spent on records, particularly the heavy end of the musical spectrum. Deep Purple and King Crimson I vividly remember being played. I know this because as a Slade, Sweet and John Kongos fan, (yes, John Kongos) I just couldn’t get into this new fangled ‘progressive’ music.

Anyway, as my Chilean right winger was about to take a corner, something new burst out the record player. It went on for ages, too. Wow!

“That’s ‘‘Catfish,’ my mate said. “By a band called Taste. Alan’s just bought it. Like it?”

‘Like it?’ That was me. Hook, line and sinker.

So – this is the Blues? A fourteen year old kid had just been enlightened.

The LP was ‘Taste. Live At The Isle Of Wight.’ With a little more prompting, I was told the band were no longer together, but the guitarist, Rory Gallagher, had embarked on a solo career. In fact, he’d already released three albums.

Always late to the party, me.

A few weeks later, I’d saved enough from my paper round to send away, through a ‘small ad’ in the ‘Sounds’ paper, for a copy of Rory’s latest release, ‘Live in Europe.’ (Going to watch football on a Saturday normally accounted for most of my earnings.)

As it happens, I was fifty pence short in payment for the post and packing, but the nice record store still sent me the LP. They asked I just send a postal order for the shortfall, something I never got round to doing. I read a month or so later that the company had gone bust. I felt ever so guilty.

That was late 1972 and I still have that album. It remains my favourite of all my Rory recordings, although I have to say, the ‘Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ‘77’ triple album pushes it very close.

The next stage in my Gallagher development was to see him play live and that opportunity came in March the following year, when my parents finally acceded my pleas to be allowed to go to a concert. And so shortly after the release of his fourth solo album, ‘Blueprint‘ (my second favourite) I trooped up to Glasgow with a couple of pals to the Green’s Playhouse (later to become the world famous Apollo.)

My seat was about eight rows from the front, just left of centre. Perfect. Until Rory came on stage and everyone jumped to their feet. I was a short-arse then, still am, and suddenly I was struggling to see my musical hero.

But the bouncers at Green’s and even more so when it changed to The Apollo, had a fierce reputation. There was no nonsense. If you were told to sit down, you sat down. If not, you’d only be able to hear the gig from the alleyway at the back of the theatre. (This heavy handed approach always worked … until The Clash came to town on 4th July 1978. But that’s another story!)

The concert was everything I hoped it would be. And more. The relationship Rory had with the crowd was amazing. It was like a personal friend was putting on a show. There was no posturing. No garish showmanship. Just straight-up, blues infused rock ‘n’ roll with a tiny touch of folk influence.

Rory was dressed simply, in his trade-mark check style shirt and jeans, and although he wore a denim shirt on the cover of ‘Blueprint,’I always associated him with the checks. It must be a ‘first impressions’ thing, for I don’t recall seeing him wear that again on any of the other four occasions I was lucky enough to see him.

In the early to mid-seventies, bands would generally only hit your town maybe once a year although I was fortunate in that Rory did return to Glasgow later in ’73, at the end of November. After that though, it was December only, and ’74, ’75 and 1976 were my last shows. It’s interesting to note that the most I paid for a ticket was the £2.50 in 1976.

I wonder how much you’d have to pay these days? I’m sure Rory would have done all in his power to keep prices at a sensible level, but what with ticketing agencies these days …. aargh! Don’t start me!

While my love of Rory Gallagher has been unflinching, I am not one of those fans who listens exclusively to their hero and that particular style of music.

Although I still rushed out to buy his immediate subsequent releases, ‘Photofinish,’ ‘Top Priority,’ and ‘Stage Struck,’ I was, from 1976 onward, more into the punk and second wave rockabilly scenes.

The only groups, however, that even then could come close in my overall ‘favourite band’ list were / still are, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Rolling Stones. (Over forty albums of the latter in my collection.)

And of course, there is a close connection between all three bands with SAHB‘s late great Ted McKenna latterly taking over on drums for Rory, and Rory himself famously auditioning for The Stones back in 1975 when Mick Taylor left.

I must say, I’m so glad Rory decided not to hang around and wait for Mick and Keith to get back to him, and toured Japan as he had planned. I just couldn’t see Rory as anything other than a front man. Ronnie Wood is perfect for the role in appearance and style.

It doesn’t always follow that a group betters itself by absorbing ‘the best.’ Look at The Eagles. Did Joe Walsh really add to what was already one of the most popular bands in the world? Did Joe Walsh lose a bit of his identity by joining The Eagles?

‘No’ and ‘yes’ would be my two answers.

But back to Rory.

It pained me to see him on The Old Grey Whistle Test or wherever as the rather large and bloated musician he’d become by around 1990 as drink and various prescription medications, administered to deal with the rigours of life on the road, had prematurely and noticeably aged him.

In the end, 1995, he perhaps cut a sad image – the archetypal solo rock star, not necessarily fading as such, or clinging to past glories, but perhaps lonely and just sheer exhausted from all he gave.

And he gave so much. The vast majority of his fans, like me, never met him, but Rory came across on stage, and in media interviews, as a very personable and likable bloke. There were no frills. You got what you saw.

He was genius on guitar. He could literally turn his hand to make it gently weep; or laugh; or sing. He could make an audience dance – in an ugly, uncoordinated, shaking-head, rocker style, maybe, but it still counts.

Best guitarist in the world? Many of us would say so.

I guess it’s all a matter of Taste.

robert jon & the wreck

(Photo: John Hampton)
(Header photo: Brian Greenberg)

Back in the mid-Seventies, I was all over Southern Rock; Lynyrd Skynyrd (obviously!); The Outlaws; Marshall Tucker Band; Grinderswitch, and others all found a place in my record collection.

Then, along came Punk.

I always was a fickle kid, and though my love of these bands did not exactly fade, their albums would make much less frequent visits to the turntable.

In recent years though, having been forced by my wife to endure hour upon hour of American Idol, my interest in country based sounds has been reignited. And when I listen to likes of Robert Jon & The Wreck, I realise now what I’ve been missing.

‘Shine A Light On Me Brother, (released on 3rd September 2021) is the result of enforced ‘downtime’ during the Covid pandemic, and will be the band’s sixth studio album. With a couple of EPs / CD Live recordings thrown in since their inception ten years ago in Orange County, California, then by today’s standards, I guess they’d fall into the prolific bracket.

Their hard-working ethics have seen them tour coast to coast in their homeland, as well as travelling the world and playing before huge sell-out crowds when supporting likes of Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Living Colour, Walter Trout, Black Stone Cherry and the Chris Robinson Band.

It’s funny that last name came up. Bands, I’m sure, must hate it when folks like me draw similarities between them and other artists. It’s not ‘lazy journalism,’ it’s simply observation in trying to give the reader an inkling of what to expect from an artist / recording. So yeah, overall, though there are variations throughout, I can hear a bit of semblance to the Black Crows at points along the album’s ten track duration.

(New album, front cover.)

The opening, title and lead single, ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ can be heard at the beginning of this post. I love the incorporation of a horns section with this southern rock belter. Their blend with the guitar solo and racing piano give the song a feel of, dare I say it, The Allman Brothers mashing it up with The Blues Brothers band. (Oh, if only that were possible!)

Here’s track number two, ‘Everyday,‘ for you decide upon. A real toe-tapper with a shuffling beat, neat, zippy, guitar work and an overall. gospel feel.

‘Ain’t No Young Love Song’ opens with a stomping beat that’s maintained throughout. The piano is swapped for the hammond organ which is given some prominence and there’s the prerequisite guitar solo of course. The chorus has a real big hook and I think you’d file this one under ‘anthemic.’

The pace slows for ‘Chicago,’ which takes a more soulful turn, with the horns giving a bit of a Stax sound. The vocals are BIG, but beautifully controlled and mellow. The sax solo leads into what I think should be a few bars of hand clapping … I was off and running only to feel rather sheepish a moment or two later. (I bet when played ‘live’ the crowds will all do the raised hand-claps as the sax solo ends. You mark my words. )

‘Hurricane,‘ slows the tempo right own. I don’t normally go for slower, acoustic based songs, but I found myself totally immersed in this one. It would be quite easy to drift off (in a complimentary way) to this as the song gently rises and falls like waves on an idyllic beach. My one observation, as if it counts, coming from someone who can’t play a note on anything, is that perhaps instead of the short guitar burst, use of a pedal steel guitar could have been made? Just sayin’ … like, what do I know?

‘Desert Sun’ is another that will have the listener singing along. Medium paced, with a buzz-like guitar and piano prominent throughout, it just has a sort of lazy, warm, sultry feel to it – perhaps influenced by the title, of course.

‘Movin’ ‘ opens with a bit of a dark and threatening rumble of a riff. It’s lifted with the vocals and piano. The bass line and riff remind me of Bryan Ferry‘s version of ‘The Price of Love‘ and I kept wanting to sing the chorus to Tina Turner‘s version of ‘Proud Mary’ come the chorus – but hey! That’s no bad thing, is it?

Anna Maria‘ is a grower. Almost five minutes in length, I wondered where it was going for the first minute and a half, but it builds into a resounding and swirling track with a pretty cool break-down around midpoint that lasts a minute or so before rising to the final crescendo.

The penultimate track ‘Brother,’ sounds so sad, but absolutely captivating. It sounds like it was truly sung from the heart.

And so to the final track, ‘Radio.‘ In a complete contrast to the mood of the previous song, this one bounces through its three minute duration. It’s a really ‘busy’ track with so much going on. Each time I listen I hear something I missed the previous time. If this doesn’t have you dancing your socks off, then you must have flippers for feet.

Yeah – this is some album. Good, strong songs and musicianship throughout, it’s predominately upbeat and / or anthemic. It has a warm, Californian desert feel to it, and one I’d sure like to see performed live.

I must say, I had never heard of this Robert Jon & The Wreck before this landed on my desk. I have to say, I’ll definitely be checking out their back catalogue, now.

***(Robert Jon & The Wreck will be touring UK in late September, 2021. Dates and ticket links can be found on the NEWS PAGE.)***

(From, ‘Last Light on the Highway’ album, released in 2020. This single had an unprecedented 12-week run of radio play on Planet Rock Radio in the UK.) 
(Photo: John Hampton.)

ROBERT JON & THE WRECK

Robert Jon Burrison – Lead Vocals / Guitar
Andrew Espantman – Drums / Vocals
Steve Maggiora – Keyboards / Vocals
Harry James – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Warren Murrel – Bass / Vocals

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
 Fire Started CD Album2011N/AListing only albums – singles and EPs can be found here on Discogs.

Glory Bound
LP2015Spitfire Music L.A
Good Life PieLP2016Spitfire Music L.A
Robert Jon & The WreckLP2017The Music Box Los Angeles
Wreckage Vol.1 ‎CD Album2017The Music Box Los AngelesWreckage Vol. 1 is a re-packaging of two of Robert Jon & The Wreck older EP’s, “Rhythm Of The Road EP” and “The RedBull Sessions

Live From Hawaii 
CD Album2018Hampton Productions
Take Me HigherCD Album2019N/A
Last Light On The HighwayLP2020N/A
Shine A Light On Me BrotherLP2021N/A

leslie’s motel

It truly amazes me how bands like Leslie’s Motel were / are completely overlooked by record companies.

This was a band that played up and down America’s East Coast, and west to St Louis; a band that opened for likes of Rory Gallagher; Ted Nugent; Charlie Daniels ,Freddie King, Mitch Ryder and MC5 Even John Lee Hooker asked vocalist Bill Tullis to stand in on harp (harmonica) one evening when the band were the main support.

So, no mugs then.

Yet this is what happened to Leslie’s Motel in 1972. During the year following their inception, the band walked into King Studio in Louisville, and cut the nine tracks that would become their debut album, ‘Dirty Sheets,’

Influenced by seeing The Allman Joys play some time earlier, Bill Tullis ultimately surrounded himself with five experienced musicians keen to adopt the Sound of the South popularized by the band who would soon become The Allman Brothers.

‘Dirty Sheets‘ is indeed from that mould, being very ‘heavy blues’ laden, though I’d say it has more of a hard, driving rock edge to it. There are prolonged instrumental stretches, with some tremendous, searing guitar wig-outs, underpinned by flaring Hammond organ … and of course there are drum solos that were almost obligatory in the Seventies.

(This track has just about EVERYTHING you’d expect from a Seventies rock instrumental!)

The album was hawked out to some local labels, including Capricorn (home to The Allman Brothers, and Marshall Tucker Band amongst others) but each one declined to take up on it.

(Talk about ‘mugs?‘)

And so it was, the album, and the dream, just more or less died

Following their disappointing rejection Leslie’s Motel soldiered on gigging up and down the east coast until they eventually called it quits in 1976.

Fast forward thirty-three years from the band’s demise. Again, details are sketchy to say the least, but completely out of the blue, band founder Bill Tullis was contacted by Roger Maglio. Roger is the owner of Gear Fab Records and expressed an interest in releasing the virtually forgotten LP.

I can’t imagine the band, having waited such a length of time, would have been too hard to deal with, and in 2009, ‘Dirty Sheets’ finally hit the shops. (There have been a couple subsequent reissues, the latest being in 2020.)

The album was very well received and racked up good sales worldwide together with some very positive reviews in the music press. The band reformed and began gigging again, one of which was recorded for a CD and DVD release in 2010.

Sadly, I can’t find any information on the state of play with the band in 2021. Perhaps they’ve all checked out by now – it’s all abit of a mystery.

Maybe though, that’s just the way it should be for a band that has flown under the radar all this time.

LESLIE’S MOTEL
Bill Tullis – Lead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar / Tambourine
Mike Seibold – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Richard Bush – Hammond B3 Organ / Fender Rhodes Piano
Ray Barrickman – Bass / Vocals
Paul Hoemi – Drums
Roy Blumenfeld – Drums / Congas

TITLE FORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Dirty SheetsLP2009)Gear Fab

the underdogs

(The band’s second 7″ single on the Zodiac label)

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.

(One of the three Grindlay / Rawnsley compositions on the album.)

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

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
See-saw 7″ singleZodiac1967
Sitting In The Rain7″ singleZodiac1967
Cheating ‎7″ singleZodiac1967
Hey Gyp7″ singleZodiac1967
Sitting In The Rain7″ EPZodiac1968Has sold for £250+
There Will Come A Time7″ singleZodiac1969

Wasting My Time
7″ singlePye Records1970
The Underdogs Blues BandLPZodiac1968Has sold for @ £230+
Wasting Our Time LPPye Records1970Has sold for @ £180+

captain beyond

(Suggested by Twitter handle: @SeventiesLegend)

(Taken from the debut, eponymous album)

Every day’s a school day here at Loud Horizon. Well, it is for me, at least.

From that, you’ll deduce I have no Captain Beyond records in my collection … and cannot profess to being a big fan of Deep Purple either. (Yes, I like them fine – just not as much as millions of others do.)

If you’re wondering why I have linked the two bands above, then I guess we’re pretty much in the same boat.

Let’s check back a little.

Captain Beyond were formed when psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly suddenly broke up in 1971. Guitarist Larry Reinhardt and bass player Lee Dorman called on Drummer Bobby Caldwell ( who would later go on to play with both The Allman Brothers Band and that of Johnny Winter) and a certain Rod Evans.

(Rod was a founder member, and original vocalist of Deep Purple. He sang on the band’s first single ‘Hush‘ but had been asked to leave the band in 1969 when they decided to go with a heavier sound, being replaced with Ian Gillan.)

The band were initially signed to Capricorn Records, which I found strange when I read this fact. That label, throughout the Seventies had a reputation for producing records by ‘southern rock’ bands. Bands like Grinderswitch (whose ‘Pickin’ The Blues’ track was used as theme music to the iconic John Peel radio shows in UK,) Marshall Tucker Band and of course, The Allman Brothers Band.

Captain Beyond would soon find the decision strange too. Their debut album sold well. It was heavy rock in its primitive form; it was ‘stoner’ rock at its finest, incorporating ‘space’ rock influences, and included the track that opens this post and this, probably my favourite from that album.

(Again, from the eponymous, debut album.)

Sales however, I assume, did not match those of label mates, The Allman Brothers, for by the time Captain Beyond came to record their follow-up album, Capricorn Records seemed to have had a change of heart. They pressed for the band to adopt a more Southern Rock image and feel, which of course was an impossible ask.

It ‘s no coincidence then, that the band’s fortunes, if not their sound, headed south after that. The label, it seems, did all the could to obstruct the band, signing for them to support slots with headlining bands whose music was far, far removed from that of Captain Beyond.

(Paying gig fans don’t take kindly to this – Greenslade supporting Rory Gallagher, anyone?)

They soldiered on however, and in 1973, still signed to Capricorn, they released their second album, ‘Sufficiently Breathless.‘ By this time, drummer Bobby Caldwell had left as relationships within the band became fractious. He had not been keen on the direction the band were headed, or the music they were making.

From the tracks I’ve heard, I totally concur. I don’t mean to upset anyone, but tracks such as this, while still build on a decent riff, do not match the rawness and energy of the first.

(From the band’s second album, ‘Sufficiently Breathless.’)

The album bombed, though over time, and perhaps because of the band’s now almost cult-like status, it is now regarded with a certain reverence.

It wouldn’t be long though, before vocalist Rod Evans would leave the band. He had done this before, but this time it was for good – and none of the band knew why. He broke off all contact with the remaining band members, and to this day, his whereabouts are unknown.

(I do believe that in the early Eighties there were legal implications of his touring with a band and using the Deep Purple name)

Auditions were held to find a replacement for Rod, and eventually, Willie Daffern was offered the gig.

In 1977, now signed with Warner Bros, and the backing of an almost cult-like following, the band released their third album, ‘Dawn Explosion.’

(From the third album, ‘Dawn Explosion.’)

Unfortunately, not long after the album release, ‘new’ vocalist Daffren decided to go solo, and in 1978, the band just kind of dissolved as they were on the verge of gaining wider acceptance.

Over the years there have been various reincarnations of the band that have lasted for short periods. There have also been re-pressings of the original three albums, together with some ‘live’ recordings and compilations.

Unfortunately, none in my opinion, can match the excitement and menace of their debut offering.

CAPTAIN BEYOND

(Original line-up)
Rod Evans – Vocals
Larry ‘Rhino’ Reinhardt – Guitar
Lee Dorman – Bass
Bobby Caldwell – Drums

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
Thousand Days Of Yesterday7″ singleCapricorn Records1972Listings relate only to releases prior to the initial dissolution of the band in 1978. Subsequent compilations and ‘live’ recordings are also available.
Sufficiently Breathless7″ singleCapricorn Records1973
Captain BeyondLPCapricorn Records 1972
Sufficiently BreathlessLPCapricorn Records1973
Dawn ExplosionLPWarner Bros. Records1977

glencoe

I bought Glencoe‘s debut album shortly after its release in 1972 and could never understand why, despite some high profile support slots with likes of Deep Purple, Argent and Wishbone Ash, they never seemed to receive the public acclaim they so deserved.

Why they never broke into a theatre-filling headline act in their own right, I’ll never know.

That said, when opening for Argent at Glasgow Apollo in September 1973, the crowd demanded and was rewarded with an encore. That’s something pretty rare indeed, especially in my fair city!

Their roots lie in London based band Forever More, who recorded two well received albums between 1970 and 1971, and counted among their number, three Scots: Onie Mcintyre, Alan Gorrie and Stewart Francis, who had formerly played together in Hopscotch.

Album cover (USA) – FOREVER MORE:’Yours.’

The group disbanded in 1972 shortly after changing their name to Glencoe, when McIntyre and Gorrie left to form Average White Band (together with another former member of Hopscotch, Hamish Stuart.) One of those recruited as a replacement was Graham Maitland on keyboards, who had played with Francis in … yes, you got it – Hopscotch.

The world of music has always been a bit incestuous.

Following an audition, bassist Norman Watt-Roy joined up and completing the new line-up was guitarist John Turnbull, formerly of the excellent Newcastle band Skip Bifferty.

The eponymous debut LP was released in 1972, and followed a year later by ‘The Spirit of Glencoe.’

Although, the albums differ in feel, both ooze class. The first is loud and in the main a mix of heavy rock and blues, though slower numbers like ‘Look Me In The Eye,‘ and ‘Questions,‘ illustrate Glencoe’s versatility. There’s plenty excellent and very distinctive guitar work from John Turnbull, while Graham Maitland’s keyboard playing dances all over the tracks and is an integral, identifying feature of the band.

Airport‘ is probably the best known track on the album, but I think ‘It’s‘ edges it as my favourite on the album. Slower in pace, and with a bluesy feel, it highlights the talents of each player.

The 1973 follow-up, ‘The Spirit Of Glencoe,’ isn’t quite so ‘instant.’ I was initially unsure as to how I felt about it. But it’s a grower, believe me!

‘Is it You?‘ is very much in he vein of the first album, chunky and beat heavy, it features John and Graham dueling guitar licks and bar-room, honky tonk piano. ‘Born in the City’ is another of the old school formula, and the one minutes and nine seconds of ‘Arctic Madness‘ shows a playful side, incorporating (I think) an accordion led eightsome reel.

(Album cover, front and back, ,for ‘The Spirit of Glencoe.’)

The two ballads, ‘Strange Circumstances‘ and ‘Song No. 22‘ are absolutely captivating, though I have to say I prefer their louder stuff.

What this album does, though is show that Glencoe were no one-trick pony. My research has not turned up one negative comment about the band.

The fact they had the quality of ex Steve Miller Band keyboard player, Ben Sidran, ex Osibisa percussionist Kofi Ayifor and ex Steve Miller Band bassist, Gerald Johnson all guest on the second album, shows the respect they had already garnered from their peers.

Indeed, after the band split in 1974, bass player Norman Watt-Roy and guitarist both had spells playing with Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Yeah – I’ve most definitely got Glencoe filed under ‘One That Got Away.’

GLENCOE
Stewart Francis – Drums / Vocals
Graham Maitland – Keyboards / Vocals
John Turnbull – Guitar / Vocals
Norman Watt-Roy – Bass / Vocals

RELEASES BY GLENCOE

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEAR
Airport / It’s7″ singleEpic1972
Look Me In The Eye / Telphonia7″ singleEpic1972
Friends Of Mine / To Divine Mother7″ singleEpic 1973
Roll On Bliss / Nothing7″ singleEpic1973
GlencoeLPEpic1972
The Spirit Of GlencoeLPEpic1973

quicksand

It was with bands like Quicksand in mind that convinced me to take LOUD HORIZON back down a retrospective path. Like so many bands, their music may not jump out the speakers and smack you in the face upon first listen. But boy, stick with it a couple of spins and you appreciate all the subtleties and intricacies.

Wait though – I may be giving the impression Quicksand were an out and out ‘prog’ band. Perhaps they were edging tn that direction, and I’ve seen them described as such in what little information I can glean, but they were so much more than that.

The eight tracks on this, their only album release, cover all bases. From melodic, hooky rock with some sprightly Hammond organ dancing in the background on the opening track, ‘Hideaway My Song,’ , the following track ‘Sunlight Brings Shadows‘ certainly ticks the ‘prog’ box, with time signature changes, organ / guitar face-offs and choral like harmonies.

‘Empty Street, Empty Heart,’ is more relaxed, again maximising the band’s catchy harmonies, before side one ends with ‘Overcome The Pattern’ transitioning into ‘Flying’ – together, they effortlessly combine ‘prog’ with a bit of a psychedelic feel.

The latter of these two actually sounds very familiar. Instinctively, I thought of fellow Welsh band, Man, who I saw live on several occasions back in the mid-Seventies. However, I can’t find any such track being recorded by the Swansea based outfit.

(There is , though, a connection between the two bands however, as Quicksand’s original bass player Will Youtt did eventually join Man.)

Though they’d probably best be described as a guitar driven band, side two of the album opens with two tracks that more prominently feature keyboards. Opener, ‘Time To Live‘ is drenched in vocal harmonies overlaying the bass and organ. Title track ‘Home Is Where I Belong,‘ features a light Hammond organ hook that reminds me of some Allman Brothers work. ‘Seasons / Alpha Omega‘ returns to the prog rock feel, this time with, dare I say it, Uriah Heep sounding driving bass, guitar and keyboards to the fore. Final track ‘Hiding It All,’ is more of a psych infused slow burner, but a lovely end to the album.

Formed in Neath, South Wales, in 1969, the band released only two singles: ‘Passing By’ / ‘Cobblestones‘ in 1970 – both tracks written by the then soon-to-depart, Michael Youatt – and then three years later, ‘Time To Live’ / ‘Empty Street, Empty Heart,’ both of which appear on the band’s only album release.

Quicksand made a point of recording and performing their own, original compositions and this they did throughout the length and breadth of the UK during their all to brief six years together.

In 1975 though, Robert Collins (keyboards) left the band. Brothers Jimmy and Phil Davies left for Alkatraz while drummer Anthony Stone joined up with Deke Leonard’s Iceberg – yes, another Man connection right there.

I have to admit, like many of the bands that will feature on these pages, I unfortunately did not get to see Quicksand play live. And though, over the years the album has been released in many territories, mainly on CD format , it was only recently, when given an unofficial, vinyl re-release, did I finally pick up on them.

Still – better late than never, eh?

Clockwise from top left:
Robert Collins
Phil Davies
Anthony Stone
Jimmy Davies

QUICKSAND:
Robert Collins – Keyboards
Phil Davies – Bass
Anthony Stone – Drums
Jimmy Davies – Guitar

RELEASES BY QUICKSAND

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE
YEAR
Passing By / Cobblestones7″ singleCarnaby1970
Time To Live /
Empty Street, Empty Heart
7″ singleDawn1973
Home Is Where I BelongLPDawn1973


spirits & worm

A&M record executive, Bob Garcia contributed to the sleeve notes of this album, the one and only from Long Island, New York band Spirits & Worm:

” … have caused others to define their music as a ‘fresh young sound- very colourful and full of rhythm – a happy sound!

“We believe in the near future that the music industry and public will take notice of this group, and recognize them as one of the more exciting and talented groups yet to hit the airwaves.”

Very few people were to read this proclamation however, when the album was released in 1970, for it was pulled from distribution almost immediately and it’s believed that only a handful of copies actually found their way into public domain, mainly in the New York area.

The legend and likely reason, is that releasing an album with two goats sitting on top of a grave was always going to court controversy. Imagery with satanic connotations would not go down well. And so it seems some label boss took cold feet and the album failed to be granted the release it merited.

It seems to me the decision maker didn’t actually listen to the album though. The ten, Carlos Hernandez penned tracks are about as far removed from the occult as can be. They are indeed, as Bob Garcia quoted, ‘a happy sound,’ influenced more by the lush West Coast sound popularized by likes of Jefferson Airplane, with vocalist Adrianne Maurici’s powerful vocals drawing comparison to those of Grace Slick.

It does seem a little strange that A&M didn’t just ask the band to change the album’s artwork, but whatever the underlying reasons, originals of this album exchange hands for great sums of money. In fact, one copy was sold through Discogs in 2020 for £730!

There have been a couple of subsequent Limited Edition reissues; in 1994, Sweet Herb Records ran 400 copies and the following year, Water Serpent Records released a further 375 hand-numbered copies.

More recently, the Audio Clarity label have made the re-issued album more freely available, and I’m happy to say I managed to bag one for myself!

Not only is it a piece of psych / psychedelic mastery, but it holds its own special place in musical history.

SPIRITS & WORM:
Adrianne Maurici – Vocals
Carlos Hernandez – Lead Guitar
Alfred Scotti – Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
Tommy Parris – Bass Guitar / Vocals
Artie Hicks Jr. – Drums

RELEASES BY SPIRITS & WORM

TITLE FORMATLABELRELEASE
YEAR
Spirits & WormLPA&M1970