Category Archives: UK

Hector

Hector: ‘Wired Up.’
Hector

Hector were a four-piece Glam Rock band from Portsmouth, England. Check: technically they are now regarded as ‘Junkshop Glam’ – a band that basically followed the the UK Glam Rock scene of the early Seventies, but for whatever reason, failed to attract the attention they merited and other more media favoured bands achieved.

Details of the band’s history are scant. Even the sleeve notes accompanying ‘Demolition,’ the 2021-released album comprising the band’s two singles, outtakes, demos, live and rehearsal recordings make little reference to the band’s beginnings.

It would appear they were hard gigging and they weren’t totally without media backing. They had the’look’ for their genre – a cross between Geordie and Slade is how they come across from the press photos – and indeed their PR staff made sure their words and faces were included in all the teen music papers and magazines of the time.

They even appeared on TV with Wings and T. Rex in a recording of the popular ‘Lift Off With Ayshea‘ when promoting their debut single, ‘Wired Up.‘ A second slot on that programme was secured to promote the follow-up ‘Bye Bye Bad Days,’ and this time also appearing on the show were, Sunny and The Scaffold.

They kept good company; they had the look; they had the publicity.

Yet the public simply didn’t buy in. Perhaps, or very likely, because Radio 1 were not convinced and resultantly, the sound of Hector failed to reach the ears of the masses, and their two singles were condemned to the Junkshop buckets.

Hector

Hector folded in 1975, having released only two singles, on the realization they were not going to compete with the established Glam Rock bands. Of course the trend by that time was moving away from that genre, so it was all stacked against them at that point.

Hector: album cover

The band’s album, ‘Demolition’ is the result of a chance meeting between the band’s Phil Brown (vocals) and Alan Gordon (drums) and Tim Orchard. Tim was co-hosting a book launch. ‘Wired Up’ was the book’s title and featured garish picture sleeves from records released in the Glam Rock genre. The Hector lads were featured in the pages and attended the party as guests.

One thing led to another and the three kept in touch. When, some years later, Phil moved house, the long lost rehearsal and demo recordings, together with the reel to reel recorder, were rediscovered,

The album is a fun, entertaining trip into the past. ‘Bye Bye Bad Days‘ is very much in the Bay City Rollers mould and elsewhere you could draw reference to other big hitters from the time. ‘Gypsy‘ a demo recording, is a favourite of mine. A real stomper, so yes, I guess you could draw comparison to early Slade. Title track, ‘Demolition‘ which was an unreleased third single, has a soulful feel to it. More gentle in its delivery, it has a really catchy hook and altogether softer hook.

Taking the three tracks identified for single release on their own, I have to say I’m really surprised as to how Hector were not more of a household name back in the early ’70s.

HECTOR

Phil Brown – Vocals / Piano
Pete Brown – Lead Guitar
Nigel Shannon – Bass
Alan Gordon – Drums


TITLEFORMATYEAR LABELNOTES
Wired Up7″ single1973DJM Records
Bye Bye Bad Days7″ single1974DJM Records

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera.
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – debut (and only) LP
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera debut single: ‘Flames.’

Five Proud Walkers were initially an R&B band from North London. Formed in 1963, they gigged around the city, establishing a good, strong, reputation and developing their sound to include some of the Jazz and Beat influences that were emerging around the capital.

When vocalist Terry Elliott left in early 1966, he was replaced by Dave Terry from The Impacts. Dave was more of a showman and the band’s stage show became much more theatrical and image conscious.

By the end of that year, the band were in demand not just within the London scene, but across the country. The decision was taken to pack in the day jobs and go full time professional band. Bass player John Treais couldn’t commit, and so left at this point, being replaced by John Ford.

It was now 1967. With their more extravagant stage show and appearance, and the music scene in general taking a more psychedelic turn, it was agreed a new era for the band merited a new name.

Guitarist Colin Forster explains:
“It came out of the dress sense, really, with the clothing an the hair. John Ford worked in a shop in Carnaby Street, so he started getting some interesting clothing, so various things developed from that, like Regency styles of clothing. Elmer (Dave Terry) got this hat and cape and somebody said that he looked like Burt Lancaster in that movie ‘Elmer Gantry,’ and we just added ‘Velvet Opera.’ We never knew about the Velvet Underground, but velvet was ‘in’ an ‘Opera’ was the fact that we were doing an act on stage.”

(Dave Terry hadn’t actually planned on becoming ‘Elmer Gantry’ but as the frontman, people would just make the assumption. The band found it funny and would take the mickey, and so the name stuck.)

The band’s first single, ‘Flames,’ gained a lot of radio play and was a favourite of the young John Peel on his ‘Top Gear’ shows. Although it didn’t quite chart, the track was included on the CBS ‘sampler’ album, ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On,’ which also featured Bob Dylan, Moby Grape, Spirit, The Byrds and The Zombies.

Selling at half the price of a standard LP, the compilation reached the Album Chart Top 20, ensuring the band’s music was now being heard by a massive new audience.

Impetus created and momentum building, the band headed into the studio to produce an album of their own. The eponymous named debut is a fantastic mix of psych-pop, raga, soul, harder rock and Vaudeville, I don’t think I’d be far off saying Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera were like a proto Sensational Alex Harvey Band. They were also ‘punk’ before Punk formally announced itself nine years later.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – ‘Air’.

Sadly, this would be the band’s only album release with this line-up, with guitarist Colin Forster leaving in April 1968, his place being taken by Paul Brett. They continued gigging but the chemistry had been upset and having been coerced by their label into recording a single ‘Volcano’ that did’t really meet the band’s profile, Elmer himself left.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera were no more, though Hudson, Ford and Brett added Johnny Joyce as singer / guitarist and recorded one album, ‘Ride a Hustler’s Dream‘ in 1969 as Velvet Opera.

Elmer himself formed the Elmer Gantry Band before joining the cast of ‘Hair,’ then in the Seventies joining the band Stretch and recording with the likes of Jon Lord, Cozy Powell and the Alan Parsons Project.

Hudson and Ford would go on to success with The Strawbs, before their #8 hit single, ‘Pick Up The Pieces‘ as Hudson-Ford. They also had another two top 40 singles and released several albums as a duo.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera -‘I Was Cool.

ELMER GANTRY’S VELVET OPERA

Elmer Gantry – Vocals
Colin Forster – Guitar
John Ford – Bass
Richard ‘Hud’ Hudson – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
Flames / Salisbury Plain7″ single1967Direction
Flames / What’s The Point Of Leaving7″ single1968Epic
Mary Jane 7″ single 1968CBS
Volcano7″ single1969Direction
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet OperaLP1968Direction

(** Information for this post was gleaned from the album’s insert notes by Mike Stax of Ugly Things Magazine.**)

twink.

Twink – 1970 (Photo by Paul Welch.)

Twink (real name John Alder, though I believe he converted to Islam around sixteen years ago and is also known as Mohammed Abdullah) has played integral parts in two of my favourite bands, The Pretty Things and The Pink Fairies. I’ll get to them both at some point, I’m sure, but it’s as a solo artist he’s celebrated here.

John Alder, as he was simply known as at that time, started drumming for local Colchester R&B band Dane Stephens & The Deep Beats in 1963. On signing a deal with Decca, they changed their name to The Fairies and cut three singles, each of which are now well sought after.

Following the ban’d split, John joined The Santa Barbara Machine for a while, before drumming for the third line-up of The In Crowd who would soon morph into Tomorrow.

It was with Tomorrow, one of UK’s foremost psychedelic bands of the era, that John (having by now adopted the nom de stage of ‘Twink,’) began to make a name for himself. (This was the band that featured future Yes guitarist Steve Howe and Keith West – he of he legendary ‘Excerpt From a Teenage Opera‘ which reached #2 in the UK singles chart in August 1967.)

Sadly, for all their Swinging Sixties ‘cred,’ Tomorrow didn’t last out the psychedelic era and disbanded in April 1968. Twink the formed Aquarian Age a psychedelic band featuring Nicky Hopkins who would go on to play piano with so many bands, most notably perhaps The Rolling Stones.) They released just one single in the UK, ‘10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box,’ a reworking of which appeared on Twink‘s solo album ‘Think Pink‘ and is showcased below.

As seemed to be the pattern, Twink’s involvement with a band didn’t last very long and when Aquarian Age folded, he was on the move again.

By chance, and by being conveniently available at just the right time, he was asked to join The Pretty Things for a gig in Germany …. he remained with the band for about eighteen months!

During that spell with The Pretty Things, Twink was approached by Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records, with a view to recording a solo album. And so it was in 1970, using some experimental demos and an unpublished Aquarian Age track – ‘Tiptoe On The Highest Hill‘ – the wonderful ‘Think Pink‘ album was born, with the help of Mick Farren (The Deviants) and close pal, Steve Peregrine Took (ex- Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

In fact, those three were the early incarnation of The Pink Fairies, though after a disastrous start to their gigging career, Twink dispensed with his two friends’ services and hired the remaining Deviants players: Paul Rudolph (guitar); Russell Hunter (drums) and Duncan Sanderson (bass.)

And the rest, as they say, is history – I’m sure I’ll come back to The Pink Fairies somewhere down the line, here on Loud Horizon!

Although Twink released only one solo album, it’s an absolute belter! My copy of ‘Think Pink‘ is actually a Limited Edition repressing on the Akarma label and includes a second LP, ‘Sound of Silk: Demos & Rarities’ which is also on pink vinyl,

The two albums are an amazing mix of psychedelia, poetry and tales of fairies and Gandalf! The musical experimentation includes; tortured wailing; hypnotic drumming; scratchy guitar; chanting; conventional rock music and just about everything early Seventies, tripped out hippy culture could throw at it!

It truly is glorious – not a duff track in sight. Or sound.

Definitely a favourite in my collection.

RELEASES BY TWINK.

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEARNOTES
Think PinkLPPolydor1970Original copies of first pressing have sold for up to £600.

the steve brown band

If ever there’s a record in my collection that could be termed a ‘grower,’ then this is it!.

The Steve Brown Band were a progressive rock unit from Newcastle who injected a jazz feel into their music to create something quite unique. They gigged extensively between 1971 and 1975, cultivating a huge and enthusiastic local following in the North East of England,

They would also make lengthy trips to London where they would often headline The Marquee Club.

They thought their efforts had been rewarded when offered an album deal by Transatlantic Records, but for whatever reason, the album never saw the light of day.

Now, over fifty years later, the excellent Seelie Court Records have dug out and released the band’s debut album, ‘Soul Full of Sin.

They did record and release one single, ‘Street Fighter,‘ on Petal Records in 1977, but my understanding is they were edged towards this more basic rock sound by a new management team, and decided to call it a day at that. (I actually like it, I have to say.)

The album itself comprises six tracks, which though kind of laid back in nature, with saxophone and I think, flute switching the feel between prog and jazz, still gently rocks along with some warm vocals and a tight rhythm section. At times, the electric piano reminds me of Also Sprach Zarathustra, at times the guitar reminds me of Man.

Told you it was a quite unique sound!

Unfortunately, you’ll just have to take my word for that, because I can find no recordings on the internet that I could share here with you.

The best I can manage is this link to Juno Records, who I’m sure will be more than pleased to supply you with a copy in exchange for pounds sterling. (Only brief samples of the tracks are available – my favourite being the third track on the first side, ‘Shine a Light.’

One thing I can find though, is a shed load of positive comment about both the band and this album. It took me a few listens, I have to say, – but I am now of the mind that The Steve Brown Band are definitely the best band you never heard of – and will be up there with those you have.

There is an extensive and really interesting history, of The Steve Brown Band as detailed from the reproduced scrap book entries of drummer Jeff Barak – here.

THE STEVE BROWN BAND

Steve Brown – Guitar / Lead Vocal
John Farmer – Bass / Vocal
Jeff Barak – Drums / Vocal
Gowan Turnbull – Saxophone / Vocal
Charlie Gordon – Electric Piano / Keyboards / Vocal

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Street Fighter ‎7″ Single1977Petal Records
Soul Full Of SinLP2021Seelie Court Recorded between 1971 & 1973

martin gordon

He played bass on Sparks‘ debut album, ‘Kimono My House,’ which included the two hit singles, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ and ‘Amateur Hour;‘ he was bass player with Jet, hailed as Glam’s first supergroup; he formed personal favourites of mine, Radio Stars ; he even played bass with The Rolling Stones (oh, yes he did!) … and this was all before teatime. Well, before the Seventies were up.

Since then Martin Gordon has played as session musician with some of pop music’s  brightest, and apparently not so bright, stars.

He’s toured the world, collaborating with ‘world music’ stars across the continents and is now settled in Berlin, where the creative spirit of that fine city continues to guide his way.

A look at his excellent website highlights both his work over the years and his deadpan, self-deprecating and sardonic humour. In his more recent releases, he targets conspiracy theorists (and one in particular) and people who believe they have ‘superior jeans.’

It is this clever / pointed / fun writing style that drew me to Radio Stars back in the Seventies. There is, however, generally a point to what Martin writes / sings about.

However, just to throw us a little curveball, his new release has no words. It is though, like his recent songs, a celebration of current affairs. Well, maybe ‘celebration’ is a bit strong – it references the Cop26 conference on climate change.

Martin’s interpretation of what lies ‘over the rainbow’ conflicts somewhat with what young Dorothy expected, this version part doom laden, part painfully sad, bleak and downbeat. It’s a typically pragmatic view from Martin, I have to say.

And who, really, can argue?

In his own words, here’s what inspired Martin, if indeed ‘inspired’ s the correct word.

Marking the gathering of the great and the good, the besuited and the bedraggled, the lobbyists and the lobbied in Glasgow to perform the by-now traditional COP26 knees-up, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is a new single by Martin Gordon. As the planet prepares to expel its inhabitants, why not mark the occasion with this rendering of Dorothy’s favourite showstopper in Eb, well known to be the second-saddest of all keys? This instrumental version has a Rickenbacker bass as a main voice – what’s not to like? After all, Xmas dinner will be served in a tin, with lashings of delicious Spam for afters, and then there’ll be live bombing of France on the telly after the Queen’s speech.

‘Arlen and Yarburg’s melancholy tune has been reworked, rearranged and made available to all, whether demented conspiracy theorist, hysterical populist or regular ol’ human being, although there are less of these than earlier thought.

(Released across all platforms on 8th November 2021)

chris kelly

As lead singer / guitarist of Cardiff indie rockers, The Scooters, Chris Kelly tasted success in the form of touring USA (twice) and collaborated with The New Radicals. For their 2002 tour, they were subject of an ITV documentary and followed around by a film crew.

That was then. This is now.

Chris has made a name for himself as an Americana inspired singer / songwriter, accumulating a burgeoning fanbase, especially across his native south Wales.

His latest single, ‘Your Day Begins Again‘ is released at the end of November (26th.) It’s easy-going, swaying, melodic verses blend into more rousing choruses, guaranteed to have you singing along even on first hearing.

No doubt Chris’s experience of leading an indie-pop band at the turn of the century still have some bearing, as the final minute run-out features some lovely, dreamy, shuffling psychedelic sounds reflecting the music of many bands at that time.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this – you can make your own mind up. Here it is!

(For what it’s worth, love it.)

hellmet

Leviathan were a respected psychedelic rock band from Brighton who, being one of the first British bands to be signed to the Elektra label, recorded three singles in 1969. They also recorded and album, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t released.

In autumn of that year, they split, and drummer Gary Murphy, perhaps a bit disillusioned at the non-release of the album, decided to take a break from the music business.

He was initially adamant, but having been approached by two very persistent ex-members of another Brighton band, The Motion, he eventually relented and agreed to play a jam session …. an that was it! He was hooked.

Hellmet were born.

A month or two later, while on a train journey and discussing just what direction their music should follow, they were overheard by one John Tobler, a respected music reviewer of the time and editor of the underground, Zig Zag magazine.

He took the band under his wing and wrote their first review, in his magazine. He also arranged gigs supporting likes of Groundhogs and Blodwyn Pig, and secured them a slot at the famed Marquee Club venue. All good, high exposure.

As a result of their gigging and growing reputation, they were then approached later in 1970 by local Brighton business who wanted to diversify and break into music management. It was they who financed the recording session at Orange Studios.

An album’s worth of tracks were laid down, but despite the master tapes being hawked around various record labels, no offer of a deal was forthcoming. The acetate, having passed through so many hands, was subsequently lost, and as with his previous band, Leviathan, drummer Gary Murphy had nothing to show for his commitment. The band folded.

(Lucky white heather, eh?)

As seems to happen with surprising regularity, the ‘masters’ somehow turned up fifty years later, and now the album has been made available by Seelie Court.

Musically, the five tracks cover several rock bases: ‘Hazy Shady Lady’ is a blues infused hard rocker; ‘Trust,’ has a Black Sabbath type riff and passes through a few mood and tempo changes, like all good prog tracks are require to do! At times, I’m reminded also of Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused.’ That type of song. ‘Judgement Day (Honest Religion)‘ is a rather sad melodic song about heroin addiction.

‘Sweet Bitch‘ is the first of only two tracks on side two. It’s another standard hard rocker, It’s fast and angry and I’d say my favourite on the album. Album closer ‘What is The Point (Of it All?) is another in the heavy rock mould, but with a jazzy interlude.

I have to say, I’m a bit confused though. The band name, album cover and especially the six paintings of Lucifer that adorn the inside of the gatefold sleeve, seem to contradict the image of the band (see above) and the music they produced.

Overall though, it’s been met with some excitement from collectors of prog rock albums and it’s great to see bands from all these years ago finally get recognition for their creativity.

HELLMET

Terry Aitken – Vocals
Stephen Day – Guitar
Ray Mellors -Bass
Gary Murphy – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Judgement DayLP1970*Seelie Court* Recorded in 1970 but only released in 2021 by Seelie Court.

grannie

Phil Newton & Jan Chandler

From the age of fifteen and while travelling to and from work in central London, guitarist Phil Newton was writing song lyrics. He played in his own little band at that time, rehearsing in his Mum’s front room

Fast froward four years to 1969, and Phil was by now an accomplished Blues player. After befriending Dave ‘H’ Holland, who played bass, the two would often be asked to jam with Powerpack, resident band at the Bridge House, Canning Town.

Phil Newton
Dave ‘H’ Holland

Buoyed by the complimentary remarks on his guitar skills, Phil decided to again form a band. Dave, naturally came on board as bass player, and having played with them in a previous band, Dave recruited the talents of Ray Curtis on drums and Fred Lilley on vocals. For his part, Phil persuaded Jan Chandler to join up on flute and Mellotron (one of the first to be used by a band, I believe.)

Nobody seems to recollect exactly how the band name came about other than Phil suggested it, and the rest went with it! For a while, they played mainly covers of blues standards in local, London East End pubs.

Phil and Dave soon became drawn more to the progressive sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Led Zeppelin and Phil again took to writing his own songs, reflecting this new sound. These were gradually worked into the live sets, and went down well with the punters.

It was now 1971, drummer Ray Curtis had moved on, replaced by John Clarke and Grannie had become an established band in the capital. The next step in their progression, then, was to get their songs down on vinyl. An advert spotted in Melody Maker to record an album for £100 offered the ideal opportunity. and so the five-piece, joined by John Stevenson, who would play organ on the album’s nine-minute long closer, ‘Coloured Armageddon,’ booked their session at SRT Studios in Herfordshire.

None of the band had previous studio experience, and with a mere eight hours available, the tracks were all recorded ‘live,’ with no over dubs or double tracking.

The result was six tracks of mainly guitar driven progressive rock, encompassing a melodic and ‘psychedelic’ feel at times but also with a nod to the heavier side of rock music.

For their £100 investment, the band were presented with ninety-nine copies of the album, the plan being to use them more or less as demos, and hawk them around various labels in search of a record deal. Some would also be sold at live shows.

No deal was forthcoming however, but the band played on! Vocalist Fred Lilley left to be replaced by Steve Betts, and Grannie’s reputation continued to grow. They supported the likes of Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, Gnidrolog and Arrrival, playing iconic venues like The Roundhouse and Marquee, eventually securing a residency at the famous Speakeasy Club in West London. There they’d often play in front of stars in their own right such as, David Bowie, Elton John and Pete Townsend.

Drummer John Clarke left around this time, his place being taken by Graham Guthrie, but things were going well for the band. Until …

Having loaded all their gear into a transit van following a rehearsal at the Club, they discovered the next morning it had all been stolen from where it had been parked up overnight outside the house of the Club manager. Everything was gone, including Jan’s expensive mellotron. Much of the equipment was still being paid up an so with no means of replacing it, the band folded.

Over the ensuing years, collectors of this type of music clamoued for one of the ninety-nine original copies in existence. I don’t see any having been sold via Discogs, however, Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights’ tome describes them as ‘very few exist and are very sought after,’ indicating a fetching price of between £1000 and £2000!

Of course, the increase in awareness and popularity has resulted in several limited re-pressings over the years, with the latest of these worth around £30.

**(Sadly, Phil Newton died alone at age fifty-one in 2001, before fulfilling his dream of fame that he’d held for many years.) **

GRANNIE

Phil Newton – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Dave ‘H’ Holland – Bass / Vocals
Jan Chandler – Flute / Mellotron / Vocals
John Clarke – Drums
Fred Lilley – Lead Vocals
+
John Stevenson – Organ

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Grannie LP1971SRT Prouctions


sweet

The first single I ever bought was ‘Co Co’ by The Sweet, back in 1971. The second was ‘Alexander Graham Bell,’ by The Sweet. Over the years I gathered five of the band’s albums on vinyl and several compilations on CD.

You see, despite the stick I took at school, I was and am, proud to be called a Sweet fan. I guess I enjoyed being different.

Back in the early Seventies, my protestations that they were not simply a bubblegum pop band, and could rock it out with the best of them, fell on the deaf ears of Clapton and Zeppelin supporters. (Clapton fans must have been deaf, in my opinion, but that’s for another article!)

Bearing in mind Sweet have been around for over fifty-one years (with a couple years hiatus in the early ’80s) various line-up changes have been inevitable, not least due to the ill health and subsequent passing of Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker.

For a while two versions of the band existed; Andy Scott’s here in UK and Steve Priest’s in USA. Sadly, only Andy now remains of the original line-up – but he continues to uphold the ‘classic’ line-up’s legacy of of all those years ago.

Now though, with the very experienced touring musicians in Lee Small (bass) Bruce Bisland (drums) and Paul Manzi (lead vocals) Sweet have settled once again as a four-piece and continue to perform in front of sell-out crowds across Europe. In fact, their Covid-delayed ‘Hellraiser’ UK tour due to kick off towards the end of November.

In the spring of 2021, the new line-up released their ‘Isolation Boulevard‘ album – a re-recording of hits from the classic era of the band, together with an inventive cover of Hello‘s ‘New York Groove,’ and the December 2020 single, ‘Still Got The Rock.’ This is a really interesting album – all the songs are indeed very familiar, not straying too far from the original versions which is what you’d want to hear if going to a show. Yet is IS different. There is a deeper resonance, perhaps down to more advanced recording techniques but emphasized by Paul’s vocal delivery.

Naturally, many of the old hits will feature in the upcoming ‘Hellraiser’ UK tour and it was while rehearsing songs for the shows, that Andy decided what should become the new / current single.

During the rehearsals for Sweet’s forthcoming ‘Hellraiser’ tour in November and December 2021, we were trying out various songs from our back catalogue that could be added to the set list. As soon as I heard Paul Manzi and Lee Small’s vocals on the song ‘Everything,’ I knew that we needed to get it down and record it as our new single.” 

The song ‘Everything 2021′ is a totally new recording. It was originally featured on the album ‘Sweetlife‘ released back in 2002. “I think the new version is a far superior production,” says Andy. “It’s much closer to how I envisaged it when I co-wrote the song back in the day.”

Andy Scott
(Photo: Darren Griffiths)
Paul Manzi
(Photo: Darren Griffiths)

I agree. This new version has more ‘oomph.’ More ‘balls.’ Also, in Paul Manzi, Sweet have a specialist and focused singer. The earlier, 2002 version, was recorded with bass player Jeff Brown doubling up on vocals when then frontman Chad Brown unexpectedly left the band mid tour due to ill health.

The track has a kind of European / German rock sound to it, which is perhaps not so surprising considering the band seem to have spent so much time touring in that area over the years.

So, yeah – once a Sweet fan, always a Sweet fan. The musical landscape has shifted enormously during their life-span. They have seen disco, punk, post punk, grunge, indie, baggy, and many more genres emerge, overtake, then fade.

I’ve grown up with Sweet and while change is good and inevitable, life is sometimes even better for the comfort of constants.

The Glam may have faded ... but the Rock lives on!

(Just for old time’s sake! )

mayfield’s mule

If I’ve been puzzled when writing previous posts as to how and why certain albums from the Sixties and Seventies achieved ‘cult’ status, then I’m completely flummoxed as to why THIS, recorded in 1970, has NEVER been released in UK.

Had it not been for me re-reading the sleeve notes to my Sweet albums, I would never have stumbled across this one. You see, I noted Sweet guitarist Andy Scott had previously played with this band. He didn’t actually play on the album, joining after its recording, and his stay was short-lived as the group disbanded not too long after.

It’s amazing though, how a little bit digging around reveals gems like this.

From North Wales, Mayfield’s Mule was formed by guitarist Chris Mayfield in 1969. Chris had previously played with several notable bands of the Sixties, including (the original) Nirvana and Ian Hunter. However, becoming a bit disillusioned at how his music career was panning out, he joined Amen Corner as a roadie.

It was when that band’s sax player, Mike Smith was presented with a few demos of Chris’s own work, that fortunes changed, leading eventually to a record deal. Gathering around him Pete Saunders (keyboards), Steve Bradley (bass) and Sean Jenkins (drums) Mayfield’s Mule was born.

The new band quickly recorded three singles on Parlophone, which between A and B sides swing from heavy rock to blues and country. Over the winter of 1969 / 1970, an album was cut at Abbey Road studios. All tracks were written by Chris himself, and the album covered many bases. Laced liberally with Hammond organ, I guess I’d sum the eponymous album as a blend of Creedence Clearwater Revival meets Canned Heat, meets Mungo Jerry, meets Deep Purple. It depends really what track you listen to!

P.P. Arnold contributes backing vocals on the album which was engineered by Alan Parsons. Mike Smith was also on co-production duties and he’d later join the band himself. So, some ‘big hitters’ were involved with the band at this stage.

Amazingly, for whatever reason, EMI decided against releasing the album in the UK. It did, though, secure a release in Uruguay of all places. Apparently the band had no input or indeed any notion that this was happening!

Not long after this, Andy Scott, who had played with drummer Sean Jenkins in The Elastic Band, joined …. which is where we came in.

(The album has subsequently been released – 2007 -in CD format by the Italian label, Night Wing, but that’s about as far as it goes. Any takers here in the UK?)

MAYFIELD’S MULE
Chris Mayfield – Guitar / Vocals
Steve Bradley – Bass / Backing Vocals
Sean Jenkins – Drums
Pete Saunders – Keyboards
+
‘Moxie’ Gowland – Harmonica / Flute
Andy Scott – Guitar
Mike Smith – Saxophone / Tambourine

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
(Drinking My) Moonshine 7″ single1969Parlophone
We Go Rollin’7″ single1970Parlophone
I See A River7″ single1970Parlophone
Mayfields Mule LP1970OdeonOnly released in Uruguay.