Category Archives: UK

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. **)

radio stars


1977 saw punk music take a more melodic turn towards what would become popularly known as ‘new wave.’ Exponents would still harbour that old ‘F*** you’ attitude, but would express it with a smile rather a than a snarl.

One such band, and a big favourite of mine to this day, were Radio Stars. They wouldn’t claim to be the biggest of bands, but I’m sure everyone of a certain age will remember, their greatest hit, ‘Nervous Wreck.‘ (It tip-toed into the UK charts for three weeks in February 1978, peaking at number thirty-nine.)

It’s not that they were without pedigree – they had that in spade-loads. They were formed in 1976, when the initially heralded glam supergroup, Jet, split up a couple of years and one album into their existence. Vocalist Andy Ellison, who had previously been one of John’s Children, alongside Marc Bolan, former Sparks bass player, Martin Gordon and guitarist Ian MacLeod dusted themselves off and regrouped as Radio Stars.

(Martin on the left.)

By 1976, Glam had had its day, and the music press, always keen to pigeon-hole bands for convenience and order, decided the ‘new’ band were more New Wave than Glam or out and out Punk.

In April 1977, the band released their debut single ‘Dirty Pictures‘ on Chiswick Records, and a month later recorded their first session for the John Peel radio show.

This is when and how I first became aware of Radio Stars. I remember it so vividly – especially the track ‘No Russians In Russia‘ which later appear on the ‘Stop It’ EP.

Television appearances followed, the first reportedly being on Marc Bolan’s own show. (See – it sure pays to maintain your contacts, kids.)

(Marc and Andy)

The association with Bolan was also apparent on the B-side of ‘Nervous Wreck,’ Radio Stars’ flirtation with the charts in 1977 – ‘Horrible Breath‘ was written by him during his time with John’s Children.

The years of 1977 and 1978 seem to have been relentless. I have counted two hundred and eight gigs (as detailed in Martin Gordon’s brilliantly deadpan and self deprecating website.) There were two albums released, ‘Songs For Swinging Lovers,’ and the ‘Holiday Album,’ as well as five singles / EP.

Unfortunately, sales of the latter album were not on the same level as the debut . We music fans it seems, can be so fickle!

It would also appear from Martin’s website there was a bit of dispute within the band and Radio Stars subsequently faded, and died.

I was lucky enough to see them on 10th October 1978 at Strathclyde University, Glasgow – I got a pal who was studying there to sign me in. I must have seen hundreds of gigs in my time, but I can honestly say that there are very few that I remember as well at that one, almost forty-three years ago!

RADIO STARS
Andy Ellison – Lead Vocals
Martin Gordon – Bass / Vocals
Ian MacLeod – Guitar
Steve Parry – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Dirty Pictures 7″ single1977Chiswick Records
Nervous Wreck 7″ single1977Chiswick Records
Stop It7″ EP1977Chiswick Records
Radio Stars7″ single1978Chiswick Records
From A Rabbit 
7″ single1978Chiswick Records
The Real Me7″ single1979Chiswick Records
Songs For Swinging LoversLP1977Chiswick Records
Holiday AlbumLP1978Chiswick Records

the quik

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

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

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

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

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

(My favourite!)

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

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

RELEASES BY THE QUIK.

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

wynder k. frog

Mick Weaver

It’s funny what a young mind retains.

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

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

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

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

Which is where we came in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELEASES BY WYNDER K. FROG

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

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