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.
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.
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.’
Stewart Francis – Drums / Vocals
Graham Maitland – Keyboards / Vocals
John Turnbull – Guitar / Vocals
Norman Watt-Roy – Bass / Vocals
RELEASES BY GLENCOE
|Airport / It’s||7″ single||Epic||1972|
|Look Me In The Eye / Telphonia||7″ single||Epic||1972|
|Friends Of Mine / To Divine Mother||7″ single||Epic||1973|
|Roll On Bliss / Nothing||7″ single||Epic||1973|
|The Spirit Of Glencoe||LP||Epic||1973|