Category Archives: UK

fuzzy duck

Fuzzy Duck released just five hundred copies of their only album in 1971, resulting in original copies now fetching up to £900. The interest in the band these past fifty years has led to many re-pressings and re-issues. Some, like my copy, have added as bonus tracks, the band’s two singles and their respective B-sides.

Formed in 1971 in North London, their sound was principally of a heavy progressive rock nature, built on a foundation of hammond organ, time signature changes and elements of jazz .

The guitar and organ combine seamlessly and I’d say there are future echoes of Uriah Heep in here. That may not be too far from the truth, for though he didn’t join Heep, organ player Roy Sharland was previously a member of Spice, who were indeed the mighty Heep’s first incarnation.

The track above, ‘Mrs Prout,‘ is typical sounding of what the band were capable of – I just love how the track uses that shuffling drum sound, mixed with a rolling bass line. The second half of the track I’m sure must have been in the subconscious of The Stone Roses when they wrote ‘Fools Gold.’

Looking at the credits on the album sleeve, only four band members are listed. However, from what I can make out, guitarist Garth Watt Roy was also in Fuzzy Duck. Indeed, he wrote their first single, ‘Double Time Woman,’ and contributed to the writing of two other ‘bonus tracks’ on the album. I can only assume he had moved on before the album was recorded?

(The aforementioned track and the other two in which Garth was
involved, differ, I think from the others in that they have that sharp edge of Atomic Rooster poking through.)

What interested me here, though was the surname, Watt Roy. Not a common one in the music business back in the early Seventies, I’ll wager. I checked, and my hunch was correct – Garth is the older brother of Norman Watt Roy, who played bass in one of my favourite bands, Glencoe.

It’s such a shame Fuzzy Duck din’t leave more of a legacy. This album has seen more visits to my turntable these past few weeks than any other in my collection. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in early Seventies rock.

(I don’t think this video was issued by the band, but the track is the album closer, and shows the lads had a good sense of humour!)

FUZZY DUCK
Mick Hawksworth – Bass
Roy Sharland – Organ
Paul Francis – Drums
Graham White – Guitar / Vocals
Garth Watt Roy – Guitar

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Double Time Woman 7″ single1971MAM
Big Brass Band7″ Single1971MAM

Fuzzy Duck
LP1971MAM

tear gas

TEAR GAS: line-up #2, who recorded the debut album ‘Piggy Go Getter.’
(Back row, left to right: Davey Batchelor, Chris Glenn & Wullie Munro,)
(Front row, left to right: Eddie Campbell & Zal Cleminson.)

***Photo, by John Young in the dressing room of The Electric Ballroom, Glasgow – June 1969)***

It feels a little strange, sitting here at home outside Glasgow, Scotland and writing about one of our city’s most famous ‘unfamous’ bands. I mean, everyone knows that members of Tear Gas ultimately joined forces with Alex Harvey to form ‘The Incredible Alex Harvey Band,’ right?

At least, that’s what was proclaimed on the sticker that adorned the sleeve on my copy of their re-issued debut album, ‘Piggy Go Getter.’ A bit of a ‘Sensational’ cock-up, by the record company, I’d suggest.

Playing the local Glasgow circuit as The Bo-Weavels, the band changed their name to Mustard, when vocalist George Gilmour left. Andy Mulvey, formerly with top Scottish beat band, The Poets, stepped in,

More changes would follow with Mulvey himself moving on. Wullie Munro signed up, taking over on drums. He was backed up in the rhythm section by new bass player Chris Glenn, while Eddie Campbell came in on keyboard duties. Joining forces with the two remaining members of The Bo-Weavels / Mustard, Davey Batchelor and Alistair ‘Zal’ Cleminson, it was decided that another name change was in order, and, in keeping with the ‘mustard’ theme, I guess, the band were re-named, Tear Gas.

They were billed as a ‘heavy rock’ outfit, though I find that hard to comprehend from their debut album, ‘Piggy Go Getter.’ Most of the tracks are pleasant enough, but pretty much soft rock at best, and not so memorable, if I’m honest. The second side of the album has a bit more of a rock edge and perhaps the final track, ‘Witches Come Today,‘ was a better indication of what was to come with the follow-up.

(Tear Gas – second album.front cover.)

The eponymous, second album, now with Ted McKenna on drums, is much more like what I would have expected from a band who were scouted by Alex Harvey when looking for a ‘backing band.’ Having lost his brother, Les, guitarist with Stone The Crows, and who was electrocuted during the soundcheck for a show in Swansea, Harvey searched for solace in his work. He had previously been working with the stage musical, ‘Hair,’ in London but now sought to embark upon a solo career … if only he could find the right band.

Following the release of the second album, Ted Mckenna’s cousin, Hugh Mckenna joined in place of keyboard player Eddie Campbell. Hugh would also take on lead vocals when Davey Batchelor left to pursue a career in production.

The resultant line-up of Zal Cleminson, Chris Glenn, Hugh McKenna and Ted Mckenna was the one ‘spotted’ by Alex Harvey, and though the band had some misgivings about their new ‘boss’ (Alex was about fifteen years older for a start) and his rather autocratic attitude, they realised they had probably gone as far as any ‘big fish in a small pond’ could and …. well, the rest is history as they say.

TEAR GAS
(Ultimate / Final Line up)
Zal Cleminson – Guitar / Vocals
Hugh McKennna – Keyboards / Lead Vocals
Ted McKennna – Drums
Chris Glenn – Bass / Vocals

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Piggy Go GetterLP1970Famous
Tear Gas LP1971Regal Zonophone

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



hollow doors

(HOLLOW DOORS .Live – July 2021)

At long last, the UK music scene is awakening from its pandemic induced torpor. Studios are re-opening and gig venues are once again being filled with happy and enthusiastic punters.

Unsigned bands up and down the length and breadth of the UK can once again load their gear into whatever battered mode of transport is available and travel across town, disgorging their instruments into the next s****ole venue on the ‘toilet circuit.’

These are the bands celebrated at LOUD HORIZON: the underplayed, the underpaid and the under appreciated.’

One such band is Hollow Doors, from Scunthorpe, in North Lincolnshire, England. The alternative / indie / rock four piece formed in 2017 and quickly gained a loyal local following. With their support, the band have financed the writing and recording of a set of singles, recorded at the spanking new Woodley Moss Studios in Normanby, which will be self-released over the coming months.

The first of these is this, ‘Fake Style,’ a video of which is in course of being produced. Local radio stations, including BBC Lincolnshire, have already picked up on the track.

As far as reference points go (which I’m afraid I have to provide – it’s the law, you know) I’d say there’s a wee bit channeling early Franz Ferdinand going on here? That’s meant as a compliment, by the way – no need for hate mail or severed horse heads through the post, thank you.

From what I’ve heard, I like the sound of Hollow Doors and their DIY attitude. I’m sensing a little bit similarity in vibe, to one of Radio 6Music presenter, Steve Lamaq’s favourite bands, Theatre Royal – whose first national exposure many years ago came via …. oh, I’m far too modest to say.

There’s a long way to go yet, and a lot of hollow doors to be knocked upon – but who knows? Why the hell not?

HOLLOW DOORS
Connor Haggarty – Lead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar
Josh Follows – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Corey Lockwood – Bass / Vocals
Callum Frost – Drums / Vocals

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

a tale of two big johns.

Contributor: John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia,
September 2021)

At the age of 17 in 1975 I had found myself a ‘proper’ job. Junior musical
instrumental salesman in one of Glasgow’s largest and iconic music stores. I soon learned that all sorts of wannabe rock gods would come in just to try out a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul guitar with no intention of ever buying one and usually sent these jokers on their bike.


On one particular day a young lad about my age, a little on the chubby side, approached my colleague and timidly asked to try out a guitar on display only to be knocked back. I don’t know why, call it a moment of weakness, but I found myself feeling really sorry for this awkward nerdy kid.

He became a regular customer over the next few months and years ( I never did get to know his name at the time) and eventually did buy a guitar – a reasonable copy of a Fender or Gibson from memory. Every time I saw him (we were on nodding terms now) there was a subtle change to the appearance of this one time dweeb of a kid. A piercing here, a tattoo there, a ripped pair of tight jeans perhaps until the last time I saw him. There he was in all his splendour with tartan bondage type trousers, leather jacket all studs and safety pins and a bright green spiky mohawk haircut. Wow ! I thought. What a transformation. A punk chrysalis no less.The shop closed and I moved on.

About three years later I was watching the TV show Top of the Pops and they introduced a punk band called The Exploited. I thought ‘here we go’ and was about to turn it down when I noticed my man cavorting about with a flying V – the lad from the shop!


Same scenario seven years later. Watching MTV and Goodbye Mr. McKenzie popped up and there he is again !

This very blog jogged this memory and so inspired further in depth research (well, half an hour on Google) to find out more on ‘customer come celeb’.

Our guitar hero is known affectionately as Big John Duncan, and he does age with me.

After The Exploited, he had bands Human Zoo, Crazy Maybe and Blood Uncles before joining the McKenzies.

He then went on to have a life as a guitar technician with Nirvana, Twisted Sister, Foo Fighters and Ministry.

Here he is talking about Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

Goodbye Mr McKenzie are making a bit of a comeback apparently so look out for them if you’re in central Scotland.

I wonder at any time over the years if Big John paused and thought “I wonder what ever happened to that spotty faced teenage music shop assistant that let me try out a guitar ? Oh, here’s your Fender Mustang Kurt.”

No. I don’t think so either !



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.

jet

(JET’s debut single from 1975)

Perhaps it should have been entitled ‘This Band Ain’t Big Enough For Both Us.’ Just days before embarking on television promotion for the single that would bring them international attention, Sparks decided to fire their bass player, Martin Gordon.

There’s a suspicion this was caused by friction between the parties over writing opportunities, but who knows? The result was Martin getting his jotters, not long after having played on the band’s debut album ‘Kimono My House.’

The band’s manager decided the ideal replacement lay in the bass player of another band he managed, Jook. In addition, he also pilfered the services of Jook’s guitarist, effectively killing off the band.

Left twiddling his drumsticks, having survived the cull, Chris Townson contacted Martin and suggested they make something of this treacherous act wrought upon them. His friend, vocalist Andy Ellison had played with him, and Marc Bolan of course, in John’s Children. He may be interested in joining forces, he suggested.

(The other member of that band ironically, was John Hewlett … who went on to become the manager of Sparks and Jook, bulleting Martin and rendering Chris unemployed!)

A guitarist was required, and the services of David O’List were secured. David held an impressive CV, having been a founder member of The Nice. He too was at a bit of a loose end, having just been ditched and replaced by Phil Manzanera in Roxy Music. Unexpectedly he brought with him keyboard player, Peter Oxendale, who believe it or not, was also bumped from Sparks at the same time as Martin Gordon!

Jet were a five piece! From adversity and all that …

(Andy Ellison; Chris Townson; Davy O’List; Martin Gordon & Peter Oxendale.)

A management deal was struck with Mike Leander, who in turn set up a record deal with CBS, which I understand was signed ‘blind,’ by the band. Oh, the naivety of youth!

The debut album was recorded amidst an increasingly acrimonious atmosphere, intensified by by the tedium of waiting endless hours while each band member was required to record their parts individually.

Finally completed, the band’s choice of name and artwork was overruled by the label who imposed their will. The album was to be called simply ‘Jet,’ and the sleeve design foisted upon the band was seemingly so similar to that of Marvel comics’ Mr Miracle, that it resulted in the label being successfully sued.

Sometimes, you can just sense the writing being applied to the wall.

A support slot on the UK tour with the Hunter Ronson Band (Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter and Spiders From Mars guitarist, Mick Ronson) was secured, during which time the debut album was released to a fairly positive press. (Though ultimately it didn’t sell in the numbers hoped, it was considered by many critics as a bit of a ‘glitter-rock’ classic.)

With an album to promote, a short UK headlining tour was booked and rehearsals were seemingly endured. Even before hitting the road, relationships between band members were strained.

The tour started out in Scotland, and audiences were poor. Allied to this, manager Mike Leander, who remember also had Gary Glitter in his roster, was not shy in having his acts dress, let’s say, rather extravagantly. And I’m not talking of accessorizing with bits of glitter or tartan, either. Try full make-up with white cape and boxer boots. Or jodhpurs and riding boots – that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, despite his vast experience of gigging, (or perhaps, in fairness, because of his vast experience of gigging) Davy O’List took full advantage of green room hospitality, if you know what I mean. His playing became completely unreliable; he became completely unreliable. He was asked to leave.

Following several auditions, he was replaced by Ian McLeod, who had actually been spotted by the band shortly after forming. Soon after, the band decanted to the countryside to work on the next album.

Bad move.

Their time together degenerated into hard drinking sessions and fall outs. Their relationship with CBS had also crashed. The label were keen for the band to produce more commercial styled music – hit singles and all that. A ‘showcase’ evening for the label bosses failed to convince the ‘suits’ that Jet were producing as expected, and the band were told in no uncertain terms they ‘must do better.’

The following week, another showcase was arranged in London. But again, totally hacked off with the label anyway, Jet failed to take matters seriously.

The next day, CBS cancelled their contract!

Peter Oxendale also developed an ‘unreliable’ side and moved on around this time, going on to play with Ian Hunter and The Glitter Band, so Jet rehearsed as a four piece (Andy, Martin, Ian and Chris) at Island Records in Hammersmith. .

Four songs resulted with another ex-Sparks member, Trevor White, now recruited.

In early 1976, Sparks manager, John Hewlett (remember him?) booked the band some recording time in Island Studios and those four songs were engineered by Queen and soon to be Rolling Stones producer, Gary Lyons.

Hewlett offered his expert opinion, declaring that one song didn’t really cut it and should be dropped. The band however decided to go with ‘Dirty Pictures‘ anyway.

OK, the recordings didn’t do anything at that point for Jet and shortly after the sessions, a combination of disgust at the treatment by their ex-label and perpetually having no money, drummer Chris Townson left the band to join the masses in gainful employment as an illustrator.

Jet, the so-hyped ‘supergroup’ had burned out within two years of their 1974 formation.

But, from the ashes and all that … six months later, in early 1977 Andy, Martin and Ian re-emerged into the light of the punk and new wave era as a fresh, new, positive outfit – Radio Stars.

Quickly picked up by Chiswick Records, the expensively recorded ‘Dirty Pictures,’ together with another of the four recorded a short time earlier, ‘Sail Away,’ were released as the band’s introduction to the world.

(Not only that, but in 1992, German superstars Die Toten Hosen covered the track …. and sold 250,000 copies. Sweet! How hard must it have been for Martin Gordon not to direct a two fingered salute in the direction of the man who had removed him from Sparks eighteen years prior?)

A fresh page had been turned. A new chapter begun.

JET
Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals
Martin Gordon – Bass
Davy O’List (Ian McLeod) – Guitar
Peter Oxendale – Keyboards
Chris Townson – Drums
+
Trevor White – Guitar

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
My River / Quandry7″ single1975CBS
Nothing To Do With Us7″ single1975CBS
JetLP1975CBS

** For more in depth information and tales of Martin Gordon and the various bands he’s played with (including The Rolling Stones, by the way!!) then check out his excellent blog / website here.)**

the stukas

(THE STUKAS: debut single from 1977)

… and there was me thinking the internet had ALL the information we ALL want to know.

Apparently not!

In typical ’77 punk style, Wakefield’s finest appear to have given the one finger salute, and completely subverted the information highway. But here’s what I’ve got on The Stukas.

Back in the day there were only a few means of discovering new bands and music. You could read about them in likes of Sounds, NME and Melody Maker; you could borrow an LP from a pal’s big brother, or … you might hear a new band play a late evening session on the John Peel Radio Show.

The latter came with the best guarantee of quality – I can’t think I heard any bands I didn’t like being invited onto the show.

This was how I became aware of The Stukas.

To be honest, with so little information on the band readily available, and with such a limited recorded output, I had forgotten about them until I once again stumbled across their energy and vibrancy a while back.

In my rather vain attempts to find out more about the band, I’ve seen them described as part punk / part rock ‘n’roll. Some folks have left a space for The Stukas to be filed in their ‘power pop’ pigeon-hole.

To me though, they are quality ‘Pub Rock.’ And I mean that as a compliment.

In the mid to late Seventies, when Punk and New Wave had usurped Glam, and the Rockabilly revival was gathering pace, people could become a bit sniffy about the term ‘pub rock.’ Perhaps it was seen as a style that had not moved on, developed; regarded as old hat? Uninspired?

I don’t know – I loved it. Vibrant and fun, it was. And that’s how I feel music should be. It should lift you, and put a smile on your face. When you consider likes of Dr Feelgood; Eddie & the Hot Rods; The Roogalator; Kilburn & The High Roads; Brinsley Schwartz and two of my favourites Graham Parker (& The Rumour) and Ducks Deluxe all came from this background, then why would anyone try to ‘dis’ the scene?

‘Sniffy?’ In his magnificent ‘A Sharp Shock To The System‘ tome, author Vernon Joynson is not very positive in his comments about The Stukas, which is a great shame. Much as I admire his work and love his books, I couldn’t disagree more with his view. Each to their own, I suppose.


(Third and final single from THE STUKAS – 1978)

Despite VJ’s opinion, it still puzzled me as to why a band such as The Stukas (a) recorded only three singles as their total output, and (b) only the first was on the Chiswick label, who, from afar, looked to be the perfect home.

Guitarist ‘Raggy’ explains:

“The Chiswick deal was done before we had a manager. Once appointed, and with big ideas for the band, he sacked the singer and bass player. The band then morphed into Autographs – put together quickly to capitalize on a deal with RAK.

“One single (‘While I’m Still Young’) and personality differences caused the band to split. Chris Gent, saxophone & vocals, would go on to later play with Radio Stars.

(Since he mentioned it – here’s that single, with Raggy on guitar.)

The Stukas still get together about once a year with a deputy guitarist.

And just to prove they’ve still got it, here’s the band at a 2018 reunion show, performing the B-side to their second single, ‘I Like Sport.’


THE STUKAS
Paul Brown – Vocals
Raggy Lewis – Guitar
Mick Smithers – Guitar
Kevin Allen – Bass
John Mackie – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Klean Livin Kids / Oh Little Girl7″ single1977Chiswick Records

I Like Sport
7″ single1978Sonet
Wash Machine Boogie / Motorbike7″ single1978Sonet

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. **)