Tag Archives: 70s

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.

leaf hound

Leaf Hound were one of those bands who seemed to morph naturally from the Blues and R&B boom of the late Sixties into a heavier rock centred band of the early Seventies.

The band’s origins lie in the blues rock of South London band, Black Cat Bones, which at one point counted then future Free guitarist, Paul Kossoff and drummer Simon Kirke in their number.

When, in the latter half of 1970 Rod Price left to join Foghat, remaining members and brothers, Derek and Stuart Brooks enlisted the vocal talents of Pete French and his guitarist cousin Mick Halls.

(If Pete’s name rings a bell, it’s because he would later join Atomic Rooster performing vocal duties on their 1971 ‘In Hearing Of‘ album. He would later also play with US band, Cactus, featuring Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice )

With the addition of Keith George Young on drums, the band were re-named Leaf Hound and began gigging around UK, gaining quite a reputation for their brand of raucous rock.

A deal with the Decca label wasn’t long in being offered and by the end of 1970, ‘Growers of Mushroom‘ was recorded – legend has it, in eleven straight hours in Mayfair’s Spot studios.

Strangely though, having toured Germany, the album was licensed to that country’s Telefunken label before being released in UK. Even more weird, was the album being produced without either the title track (see top of post and ‘Freelance Fiend‘ which opens the subsequently released UK version.

In the autumn of 1971, ‘Growers of Mushroom‘ was finally granted its UK release, but by that time, the band had called it quits and all moved on to other projects.

Their legacy is this storming album of heavy rock. It may be pretty generic stuff, at times sounding like Jethro Tull, (the title track and ‘Sad Road to the Sea’) and others with hints of Led Zeppelin / Free, but it does have a character of its own and the more I listen to it, the more I love it!

I should add that my copy is a re-press on the Akarma Record Label. It’s not an original 1971 Decca release, copies of which sold for £4732 and £4218 via Discogs in 2019! This makes the album one of the most expensive major label recordings of the Prog Rock era.

In 2004, Pete French and Mick Halls formed a new version of Leaf Hound, recording an album ‘Unleashed‘ which was well received on release in 20007. I believe they continue to perform live to this day.

This is them back in 2012.

LEAF HOUND
Pete French – Vocals
Derek Brooks – Guitar
Stuart Brooks – Bass
Mick Halls – Lead Guitar
Keith George Young – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES

Drowned My Life In Fear / It’s Gonna Get Better
7″ single1971TelefunkenListing only the releases from the initial incarnation of the band.
Leaf HoundLP1970Telefunken
Growers Of MushroomLP1971Decca



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

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

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