Formerly known as The Action, this Mod band from London’s Kentish Town were reputedly the best band George Martin signed to the EMI label in the mid-Sixties.
As the musical landscape changed towards the latter half of the decade though, so did The Action, adopting more of a ‘West Coast’ psychedelic approach to their music. However, their deal with EMI was terminated prior to their last planned single could be released.
They continued recording various demos under the new guise of Azoth, these only finally being released in 1985 by Castle, as a mini-album, ‘Action Speaks Louder Than Words.’
Months of hard touring resulted in them finally signing to the small independent Head label in 1969 at which time they took on the name Mighty Baby.
Their debut, eponymous album was recorded but as so often seemed to have happened, the label went bust before any formal UK release – although a deal had been signed with Chess Records in USA who did make some copies available.
Suffice to say, copies of this album are pretty rare and exchange hands for several hundred pounds.
The album itself is a mix of quiet folk infused psychedelic tracks mixed with blues rock and prog rock, the highlight being, for me, the opening track on side one: ‘Egyptian Tomb,’ with its distinctive ‘eastern’ psychedelic sound.
Mighty Baby sound a quintessentially British ‘hippie’ type band, featuring a flute and sax, but not averse to breaking out into heavy riffs and rocking, boogie interludes.
Counting ex-Savoy Brown guitarist Martin Stone and future Ace founder Alan King in their number, they could also turn their hand to some excellent blues numbers like the following, ‘I’ve Been Down So Long.’
Continuing with the hard gigging ethos that brought them to this point, Mighty Baby spent the next two years on the Festival circuit and playing numerous radio and studio sessions. (They were the closing act on the first day of the famous Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.)
1971 saw the culmination of all this hard work with the release of the band’s second, and final album, ‘A Jug Of Love.‘ By this time, several members had turned to the Muslim faith, and the album, being more tranquil and wistful than their debut seems to reflect their new outlook on life.
Despite the critical acclaim, the album failed to shift in any great number and in autumn 1971, the band were forced to call it a day.
Alan King – Guitar / Vocals Martin Stone – Lead Guitar / Slide Guitar Michael Evans – Bass Ian Whiteman – Flute / Organ / Sax / Piano / Percussion / Vocals Roger Powell – Drums
For those of us frequenting gigs, or ‘concerts’ as they were more often described in the ‘70s, there was always one main talking point on the bus journey back home – the mind-blowing ‘solo.’
In this short, occasional series, we’ll have a listen to some of my favourite, ‘less obvious ‘solos from the ‘70s.
So, let’s …kick out the jams, mofos, and start with the GUITAR!
It may have been a rehearsed and integral part of a song; a short impromptu guitar lick; a prolonged jam involving several players taking turns to lead; an awe inspiring drum solo; a smooth sax piece; a finger-blurring burst on the keyboards … whatever. It was generally the highlight of the show.
With particular regard to guitarists, regular visitors to this blog will fully expect me to include at least one example of Rory Gallagher’s searing, blues infused playing. But that would be just too obvious; so too would likes of Allen Collins and Gary Rossington sharing solos on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s‘Fee Bird.’ Or Jimmy Page on any one of a number of Led Zeppelin tracks. Or that Hendrix dude, when it comes to it.
The three I’ve highlighted below are indeed still particular favourites of mine, but for differing reasons. They are by what I’d consider under-appreciated artists in the ‘70s, though I’m sure they’ll be familiar to some. However, I’d say they are not of the ‘household names’ that would spring to mind when asked about the pantheon of great guitarists.
I’m not saying they’re ‘the best’ guitar solos in rock music, but I do regard all three as some of the most enjoyable.
Please feel free to suggest your own / debate the selection in the Comments section below, and / or post your own favourite on our Facebook Group Page.
OK – here we go:
#3: TEN YEARS AFTER: ‘I’m Going Home.’
Guitarist Alvin Lee formed The Jaybirds as a straight-up R&B trio in early Sixties, Nottingham, England. For a while they backed The Ivy League, and in 1966, like so many beat bands of the time, they spent some time developing and playing in Hamburg, Germany.
They became a popular live act and upon change of management in 1966, also changed their name to Ten Years After – reflecting their new start some ten years after Elvis Presley rose to prominence.
They had released three albums by the summer of 1969, and established a reputation as one of the UK’s most popular bands. However, in August of that year, Ten Years After, really hit the big time, when their appearance at the Woodstock Festival was filmed, highlighting Lee’s speed guitar prowess.
The video above has been edited, I’m sure, for I have a recording of the festival and this song runs to over nine minutes.
Ten Years After would record several more albums throughout the early / mid Seventies, and cement their reputation as possibly the best blues rock band in the country (in truth, second best to Rory Gallagher!) before disbanding in 1975.
I love this particular performance and solos because it’s almost proto-punk in nature, brash and frantic, yet encompasses some raw boogie and classic rock ‘n’roll too.
And yes, I guess I should come clean, there IS a resemblance to many a Rory performance here!
#2: ROY BUCHANAN: ‘Roy’s Bluz.’
I really can’t recall how I came to love the music of Roy Buchanan. I did buy his LP, ‘That’s What I Am Here For’ as a fifteen year old, back in 1973. I presume I must gone down the Blues rabbit hole, having discovered, yes you guessed, Rory Gallagher the year previous!
Roy Buchanan was born in 1939 and brought up in rural communities of both Arkansas and California, where he was heavily influenced by the gospel music of his local churches, and the music heard on his radio.
He would, at age nineteen, record with Dale Hawkins who himself leant heavily on the influences of Louisiana ‘swamp’ music and mixed the blues sound of the local black artists with the ‘new’ rock ‘n’ roll style being popularised by Elvis etc..
Although not widely successful in a commercial sense, Roy Buchanan was held in high regard by fellow musicians, and reportedly, after Brian Jones’s death in the summer of 1969, he was asked to join The Rolling Stones. (So was Rory Gallagher in case you were interested!)
He declined the offer, concerned that he’d become more embroiled in the drink and drugs culture that surrounded the greatest band in the world. He was also a famously shy man, and suffered some mental health issues. His voice was soft, and he had concerns about playing large venues and so never really became a ‘superstar’ as we’d now regard it.
Sadly, Roy Buchanan took his own life after being arrested following a drunken domestic dispute … though his cause of death remains questioned by his family.
As a lad, I was so enthralled by Roy Buchanan’s playing. I loved Blues music anyway, but his style just seemed so ‘clean’ and unassuming. Hey – I can’t play a note on any instrument. I don’t do the technical stuff. I just know what I like.
And I still love the music of Roy Buchanan – one of rock’s true unsung heroes.
#1: ALBERT LEE: ‘Luxury Liner.’
I could play this song on endless repeat! (The first video is from a performance by Emmylou Harris and The Hot Band on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977.)
This particular track convinced me (a) I was in love with Emmylou Harris, and (b) that Albert Lee was at that point, the best guitarist I’d never heard of. I reckon he’s STILL the best many people have never heard of.
Albert Lee grew up in London and first gained recognition playing guitar for Chris Farlowe and his band, The Thunderbirds. He moved on to play with Heads, Hands & Feet for a while, before in 1974 moving to Los Angeles.
This was where he really found his feet, and more importantly, his hands. As a renowned session musician, his finger-picking style of play proved a perfect fit for the rock ‘n’ roll and country based music he’d be booked for. He played on three albums by The Crickets amongst others and for a period towards the end of the Seventies was hired to play with Eric Clapton – no competition there, in my book!
Albert Lee has played with the great and the good of Rock and Country over the years and was awarded Guitar Magazine’s ‘Best Country Guitarist; five times.
Why do I love Albert’s playing so much? Sheesh! Really ….?
(Here’s a later video of Albert playing the same song – kid’s still got it!)
(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – August 2022)
Know how you’ll be in the queue at the supermarket when it dawns, though you have no idea who they are, the person stood behind you is a sportsman / sportswoman of some fame? Or you’re at a gig and as they take to the stage, before even striking a note, you know the unknown support band are going to be great? Or you hear a band, previously unknown to you, in Bandcamp and realize within seconds they are class; top quality and playing just the sounds you like to hear?
What connects the three examples above, is they have ‘presence.’ There is an aura surrounding these people that sets them distinct to others in their field.
Such is the case with Paralyzed. a hard rock band from Bamberg, Germany.
You only have to look as far as the MUSIC PAST page on this very blog to see what kind of music excites me – and more to the point, excites me sufficiently to make more people aware… and write about it.
And all that helps explain what attracted me to this band the moment I clicked on their new album, ‘Heavy Road.’
I have to concede knowing very little about Paralyzed other that they formed in 2019, and have just released their second album, a follow-up to January 2021’s eponymous debut LP.
There was also an excellent value, seven track, thirty-four minutes long, EP release ‘Hidden Sun‘ back in the year of their formation, and a seven minute long digital single release, ‘This Woman’ in 2020. (Tracks from‘Heavy Road,’ ‘Paralyzed’and ”Hidden Sun‘ form the ‘live’ set that features at the end of this piece.)
‘Heavy Road’ comprises eight tracks over around forty minutes duration. It is pretty much rooted in a ’70s Rock feel, and thus, just my bag!
Album opener is ‘Devil’s Bride.’ From the opening vocal, there’s a very distinctive sense of Jim Morrison / Doors, which hooked me right away. It ‘modern’ terms, you’d say the riff, for the first three minutes of the seven and a half, is quite doom laden. The song then erupts in intensity and pace. Vocalist Michael Binder seems to morph into a Ian Astbury (The Cult) while executing a couple of searing guitar solos. A terrific start.
‘Orange Carpet,‘ has a real chugging riff. No nonsense hard rock, pure and simple. ‘Mayday’ is more of a mid-tempo, smokey, bluesy number, again with head-nod inducing riff. ‘Black Trees Pt 1‘ opens in dark mood; heavy blues at its finest – slightly rasping vocals over the top of moody, wah wah type guitar solos and deep, resounding bass lines.
‘Pilgrim Boots,‘ is the second track, after the opener, to breach the seven minute mark. Again, there is an undeniable Doors comparison to be made, but hey – that’s all pretty cool by me! Caterina Bohner’s organ work is more noticable on this one, and overall, the track has a vibrant, boogie feel to it.
‘Black Trees Pt 2‘ chugs away for three and a half minutes – all upbeat and again with a couple neat guitar solos thrown in. ‘Coal Mine’ is another slow burner. Building as it progresses, the bass line adopts a doom style feel, threatening; menacing. Michael’s vocal seem to become angrier and his guitar raging.
And then we’re at the album closer, ‘White Jar.‘ Straight off we’re into a short guitar solo, with the organ dancing in the background. More ‘wah wah’ guitar blends in mid-track alongside an almost funky bass line this time. A strong fnish!
I’ve made reference to Paralyzed being very ’70s rock inspired. And they are – or at least they sound that way. Yet – there is more to them than a band living in the past. They have incorporated modern elements into their music, but without going overboard in trying to be ‘different.’
Hard, driving rock will never die. And certainly not when the band producing it has such ‘presence.
One thing you sure won’t be on buying and listening to this album, is Paralyzed.
Michael Binder – Vocals / Lead Guitar Caterina Bohner – Organ / Rhythm Guitar Philipp Engelbrecht – Bass Florian Thiele – Drums
(Post by John Allan from Bridgetown, Western Australia – July 2022.)
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licóur Of which vertú engendred is the flour
So wrote Geoffrey Chaucer in the prologue to his seminal work The Canterbury Tales between 1387-1400.
Fast forward some 600 years and lazy music critics coined the phrase The Canterbury Scene as all music, it seems, needs to be pigeonholed and labelled. Like all misnomer’s not every act associated with the movement had any real link to Canterbury. Case in point, the band Gong were formed in Paris which as far as I’m aware is not a suburb of any Kentish town or village.
It all came about in the mid sixties with local lads The Wilde Flowers who, when wilted, germinated into Soft Machine, Gong, Caravan, Egg, Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt, Hatfield and the North and National Health.
The whole Canterbury sound was a heady mix of psychedelia, anarchy, folkloric mythology, beat poetry and puns. Soft Machine is the title of a William Burroughs novel and Matching Mole a corruption of machine molle, the french translation of Soft Machine. Perhaps a bit of a dig from sacked drummer Robert Wyatt. For Girls that Go Plump In The Night and Cunning Stunts were albums from Caravan. All terribly quirky and quintessentially English.
In among this bunch of posies was a young London born guitarist, Steve Hillage. While still at school, Hillage was in a band called Uriel with his keyboard playing chum Dave Stewart, not to be confused with the Eurythmics chappy. They were encouraged to change their name as it sounded too close to urine (or was someone taking the piss !) and so became Egg.
Hillage attended the University of Kent in Canterbury (there’s the link !) and jammed with local bands Caravan and Spirogyra, not to be confused with the smooth jazz outfit Spyro Gyra. He landed himself a record deal with Deram and set about putting a band, Khan, together. After a few incarnations, the line up for their only release Space Shanty were Hillage on guitars and vocals, former TheCrazy World of Arthur Brown bassist and vocalist Nick Greenwood, fellow Egg alumni Stewart and drummer Eric Peachey.
This 1972 release, in my humble opinion, is a progressive rocker’s wet dream. Long convoluted tracks with nonsensical lyrics, great guitar solos swaying from hard rock to jazz, luscious fuzzed organ and odd time signatures. The musicianship by all four players is commendable. Sadly there was to be no follow up.
Hillage moved on to Gong (in some French speaking corner of Kent no doubt) before becoming a solo artist.
Stewart formed Hatfield and the North then National Health. Along with former Zombie, Colin Blunstone he had a minor hit with What Became Of The Broken Hearted and It’s My Party with Barbara Gaskin.
Chaucer didn’t include a guitarist’s tale in his magnum opus. Nor a lute player or any other kind of musician either. In different times I’m sure he would have had a few kind words to say about Mr Hillage and his Khan clan.
Steve Hillage – Guitar / Vocals Nick Greenwood – Bass / Vocals Dave Stewart – Organ Eric Peachey – Drums
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 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.
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.
Phil Brown – Vocals / Piano Pete Brown – Lead Guitar Nigel Shannon – Bass Alan Gordon – Drums
In various guises and line-ups, Goliath were around for the best part of fifteen years. THIS Goliath, for there have been / were several bands to have used this name, originated in Terre Haut, Indiana during 1964 as The Checkmates.
Instigated by Peters brothers Steve (drums) an Bill (bass) the band had some local success and recorded their first single on Bogan Records. However, inordinate delays in pressing the record resulted in the band having moved on, changed name and changed personnel before the single became available.
It was in fact released under the name, Sounds of Sound.
With the introduction of guitarist David Graham, the band moved to a more to a psychedelic / Hendrix influenced sound and once again changed their name a again, this time to Goliath. They began working with agent / manager Irving Azoff (who would later represent likes of Christine Aquilera, Eagles and Jon Bon Jovi among many others) and gigs were booked across Mid-West America.
Unfortunately, this early incarnation of the band fell apart when drug and substance abuse got the better of ‘star’ guitar player Graham. However, with contractual obligations remaining unfulfilled with Azoff’s company, Steve and Bill Peters put together a new line-up, comprising former members of recently disbanded local groups, Kicks and the XL’s.
One final change, with Paul, ‘Doug’ Mason replacing Ted Bennet on Hammond Organ, and the line-up that would record this particular Goliath album.
Unfortunately, and details are scarce, this eponymous album, recorded in 1970 at the Allen-Martin Studios in Louisville, Kentucky never saw the light of day until it was re-mixed and re-mastered in 2009 by Jay Petach.
A second (effective ‘first’) album was released however in 1975. By then, Phelps (guitar) Egy (vocals) and Mason (keyboards) had moved to Atlanta to form Raven, leaving the brothers Peters to start from scratch, yet again.
They were still signed with Triangle Talent who had been pushing the band hard to record jingles and songs so that the rights could be sold. They did however, eventually relent and allow the band to record an album on their own Bridges label.
With only a few weeks to prepare, and a ‘new’ band to boot, the album is described by the Peters brothers as being nothing more that a patchwork of previously unfinished songs. Probably not the strongest of recommendations!
Although Steve and Bill did manage to keep the band going in some form or other throughout the ’70s, no more recordings were forthcoming.
For readers lacking the patience to sit through the whole album as displayed at the start of this post, I can say this:
in all honesty, it’s nothing ‘spectacular.’ But while there’s no immediate impact moments, it is a really enjoyable listen. The feel is of pared-back, hard, bluesy rock, Some songs vary like, ‘I Feel Like I’m Gonna Die’ retains the blues sound, but with more a ‘lounge / club’ inflection; ‘Its Your Land’ is pretty much Gospel influenced, while ‘In The Summertime’ to me at least, seems to have rubbed off on DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – certainly on the arrival of the chorus!
On other tracks, I’m reminded of early Uriah Heep (that’s probably down to the organ sound as much as anything) and overall, yeah, a good addition to my collection.
George ‘Charlie’ Egy – Vocals Steve Peters – Drums Bill Peters – Bass Paul ‘Doug’ Mason – Hammond B3 Organ George Phelps – Guitar
Haymarket Square are yet another example of the brilliant, psychedelic sounds coming from the USA musical underground of the late ’60s through the early 1970s..
Like many other bands featured here on Loud Horizon, they would record only one LP in their time together. But boy – what a doozy! Copies of the original pressing have been sold via Discogs from between £1500 and £2700!
The band came about with the demise of Chicago garage band, The Real Things. As the young band parted for college and other personal reasons, drummer John Kowalski and rhythm guitarist Bob Roma decided to form a new outfit.
Auditions were advertised in their University of Illinois newspaper and other local rags. Guitarist Marc Swenson immediately impressed with his ability to play in the style of The Kinks‘ Dave Davies. No question – he was hired right away!
With an impressive guitarist in place, Bob moved over onto bass. There was now just one integral position to be filled – that of vocalist.
Desperation was setting in on the three young players (John & Bob were 18, Marc, just 17) when out of the blue, Bob received a phone call from the twenty year old, tall, blond Gloria Lambert. She was at that time singing in a Folk band but was looking for something a bit more ‘electric;’ something more raucous and exciting. Gloria, as you can hear on the tracks here, was so strong in her delivery and had that sort of Grace Slick, psychedelic feel to her tone.
It was the perfect match.
This was 1967, and female singers taking on lead vocals in rock bands was at this point, still relatively unusual. The band were already almost one step ahead of other Chicago bands.
Now for a name. Civil disobedience was rife amongst the US student population at this point, and when John Kowalski saw a statue marking a labour riot back in the early 1900s he adopted the name of the location – Haymarket Square.
It wasn’t long before the band’s name and reputation grew to such level that they were opening in the city’s larger venues for established acts like, The Yarbirds, Cream and H.P. Lovecraft.
Shortly thereafter, they were writing their own material with subject matter ranging from various psychedelic topics to the occult. Their sound has a very distinctive feel with the guitar, bass and drums all sharing the heavy load. What struck me though was the drumming – at times very ‘surf’ inspired, and others, more of a pounding, hard rock style. The guitar wails with a fuzzy tone throughout and the bass is played with a real, distinctive bounce. And of course, there’s no getting away from Gloria’s vocals giving an air of Jefferson Airplane.
Only one of the tracks on the album is a ‘cover’ – an outstanding version of Tiny Bradshaw’s ‘Train Kept-A-Rollin’.’ This version tops those of Johnny Burnette and Aerosmith in my opinion.
There are only six tracks on the album too – but with only one coming in at less than seven minutes, there is that wonderful sense of tripped out jamming on the others.
The album is a direct result of the band liaising with two professors from The University of Illinois who put together the ‘Baron & Bailey Light Circus’ which was a dynamic combination of music with changing light patterns. In the summer of ’68, they teamed up with Haymarket Square and the album was exhibited as a living work of art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
However, shortly after the album was recorded, original member Bob left the band and was replaced on bass by Ken Pitlik. At the same time, they decided to augment their sound with the addition of a rhythm guitarist, Robert Miller.
Haymarket Square continued as a five-piece for another six years before they finally broke up in 1974, the members all going heir own ways.
Sadly, and I’m afraid I don’t know why, there were no more recordings. But if you’re going to leave just a one-album-legacy, then I guess ‘Magic Lantern‘ is about as good as it gets.
(*Band details and history have been gleaned from the additional sleeve-notes to the ‘Magic Lantern’ album, written by drummer and founder member, John Kowalski.)
Gloria Lambert – Vocals John Kowalski -Drums Bob Roma – Bass (’til late ’68) Marc Swenson – Guitar + from late ’68
Stone Harbour were a duo from Ohio who typified the DIY ethos of rock’n’roll in 1974 with the original release of their now critically acclaimed album, ‘Emerges.‘
Aspiring songwriter and multi-instrumentalist writer, Ric Ballas owned a 4-track reel to reel recorder; singer songwriter Dave McCarty could also play a bit on drums. Additionally, he had ‘a pleasant voice’ and so between them, with all bases covered, they began to write collaborate in writing some music and recording.
Though their equipment was not exactly state of the art, they recorded a few songs to tape – more or less all in one take, with the occasional over-dub.
These recordings were taken to the Peppermint Productions studio in Youngstown, Ohio where they were mixed down to two-track. The aim was these tracks would form a demo that the lads could hawk around to impress and recruit others to join their band.
Most players didn’t have reel-to reel facilities, however, so Ric decided to have five hundred copies of the resultant tracks transferred onto vinyl – this was the minimum run amount.
With their very limited budget now blown, Ric sketched a few picture, had it reproduced five hundred times and then pasted them to cardboard jackets.
And that was about it. A full, live and touring band did come about. They played to mixed responses and after a couple of years, disbanded. (A follow-up album was partially recorded, but the studio was destroyed by fire, and the master tape with it.)
But as happens so often with these ‘lost’ LPs, somebody somewhere is impressed, word gets around, and original copies become sought after treasures. A copy of this sold on Discogs for over £1000 last year!
The music is varied in nature, ranging from folky psychedelia to rock-out proto grunge style. It’s pretty lo-fi in nature, but has a real innocent charm about it.
The album has been re-leased, most recently by Geurssen Records’ Out-Sider imprint. Definitely one to check out.
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 ofMick 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.
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 bemore than pleased to supply you with a copy in exchange for poundssterling. (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