Tag Archives: memories

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

jackie mittoo

Though I wasn’t to know it at the time, Jackie Mittoo was partly responsible for my love of all things reggae, ska and dub.

With the association between punk and reggae back in the mid-Seventies, combined with the release of Bob Marley‘s ‘Exodus’ album, my interest was piqued. The John Peel radio show here in UK, partially satisfied this new thirst for new sounds, but by regularly playing out ska tunes from the previous decade, he led me deeper and deeper into a whole new musical world.

I bought ‘Exodus’ (on cassette) as I’m sure many other punks did but it wasn’t until the two ‘Intensified’ compilations were released in 1979 / 1980 that I totally bought into the ska culture.

Recorded at various points between 1962 and 1967, these albums were produced with a group of studio session musicians providing the backing. From these players would emerge The Skatalites whose sound was supplemented by the piano / keyboards of … Jackie Mittoo.

Donat Roy Mittoo (Jackie) was born in in Brown’s Town, Jamaica in 1948 and died tragically young in Toronto, Canada, forty-two years later. But, boy, did he pack a lot into such a short life!

Initially taught piano by his grandmother, Jackie started playing professionally at age thirteen, having moved to Kingston. It was there he joined the Rivals, playing organ, but soon switched to the Sheiks, one of Jamaica’s most popular club bands, where he would meet up with future fellow Skatalites, Lloyd Knib an Johnny Moore.

Two years later (1963) when Clement (Coxsone) Dodd opened his famous Studio One, Jackie was invited to act as talent scout and session arranger. He worked closely with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry on Coxone Dodd’s productions, while sitting in on piano for The Skatalites.

It was the on the Hammond organ though that Jackie would really make his name. When the Skatalites broke up following trombonist Don Drummond’s incarceration for the murder of his girlfriend in 1965, Mittoo formed The Soul Brothers with Roland Alphonso, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevett. They became the backing band for all Studio One’s rocksteady recordings.

In 1968, he formed the Jackie Mittoo Trio, with The Hepones‘ Leroy Sibbles on bass. Jackie, with his experience of arranging, would write the bass lines, pioneering a new style of bass laden reggae.

He moved to Toronto for several years, working for Summer Records and launching a side career in Easy Listening recordings. However, He would regularly return to Jamaica where he’ d record for Coxone Dodd.

In the mid-Seventies, he also worked with the producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee. By now, recording technology had come on leaps and bounds and so Jackie was able to re-record many tracks in the new ‘rockers’ style. The likes of drummer Sly Dunbar, bassist Robbie Shakespeare , pianist Ansel Collins and several others joined in the reworkings to produce the landmark ‘Jackie Mittoo Showcase’ album, from which the accompanying tracks are taken.

In addition to his own recordings, Jackie takes credit for writing hits for Alton Ellis, Marcia Griffiths and Freddie McGregor amongst others. In 1970, his ‘Peanie Wallie‘ was versioned by The Wailers, becoming the hit ‘Duppy Conqueror.’ He would also work closely with Sugar Minot and UB40 from the UK.

Throughout his time at Studio One, Mittoo recorded literally thousands of songs for so many of the artists whose talents he nurtured and coached to great success.

Thirty-one years on from his passing, his style and influence still echoes in all aspects of modern day reggae, ska and dub.

JACKIE MITTOO
(Jackie worked with way too many musicians to list here!!)

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
Working with so many artists, Jackie Mittoo has over two hundred, 7″ singles listed on Discogs.

Regards albums, I have listed only those released during Jackie’s lifetime.
In LondonLPCoxone Records1967
Evening TimeLPCoxone Records1968Recorded with his band The Soul Vendors also credited.
Keep On Dancing LPCoxone Records1969
NowLPStudio One1969
Macka FatLPCoxone Records1969
Wishbone LPSumus Records1971
Reggae Magic LPStudio One1972
Let’s Put It All TogetherLPUnited Artists Records1975
The Keyboard King LPThird World1976
Hot Blood LPThird World1977
Show Case Volume 3LPJackpot1977
The Money MakersLPJackie Mittoo Music Production1978

In Cold Blood
LPThird World1978
Jackie MittooLPUnited Artist Records1978
Stepping Tiger LPRite Sound Inc.1979
ShowcaseLPStudio One1980
Version StudioLPJakki1985
Wild JockeyLPWackie’s1990

the underdogs

(The band’s second 7″ single on the Zodiac label)

There are some albums you know that within a minute of dropping the needle on the record, are headed straight for the ‘favourites’ shelf in your collection. Such is the case with the debut album from 1968 from this New Zealand blues band.

But if the blues ain’t your scene, then wait – read on! You have to move with the times in the music business, and these young lads did just that in later years.

Formed in 1964, in Auckland, the band line-up passed through several transformations, while steadfastly sticking to its blues roots in face of the more popular Beatles influenced sound.

Their stubbornness to change direction paid divided though when British R&B began to break in the country and bands like The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds began to gain traction.

The band however that commanded most respect, and sway, for The Underdogs, was John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. And they weren’t shy of promoting that influence, with five of the songs on the debut album having already been recorded by the Englishman.

(One of the three Grindlay / Rawnsley compositions on the album.)

Three songs, however, all on side one, were written by band members Murray Grindlay (vocalist) and Louie Rawnsley (guitar) who according to the album’s sleeve notes, were both only seventeen at the time. Bass guitarist Neil Edwards was also only seventeen at the time of recording, while drummer Tony Walton was a mere eighteen.

Given their youth, the late 1967 Underdogs produced an amazing maturity of sound. However, all was not well within the band, even during the album’s recording.

Unwilling to follow the heavier, rock infused version of Blues, by now popularised by likes of Cream and Hendrix, and promoted by fellow band members, Grindlay and Rawnsley, bassist Neil Edwards was asked to leave.

The Underdogs briefly disbanded early in 1968 after the album release. However, they reformed a few months later and remained together, albeit with another couple of changes, long enough to release another single, ‘There Will Come A Time.’

Again though, they split not long after the release, and all was quiet for a while.

In 1970, original band leader / guitarist Harvey Mann, who had left to join The Brew shortly after the band’s debut single in 1967, got together with bassist Neil Edwards and recruited drummer Glen ‘Pig’ Absolum and reformed the band. This time though, they’d be a ‘power trio, producing that harder edged bluesy rock … that Edwards reportedly didn’t want to play several ears earlier!

This version of the band went on to perform as ‘Pig, Mann & Edwards,’ and recorded on excellent album, ‘Wasting Our Time‘ on Pye Records, late in 1970. Originals of this LP have also become much sought after with copies exchanging hands for up to £190.

Sadly though, this would be just about the last thing The Underdogs would do, and not long into 1971, they split up for good.

(Reissues of both albums were released, albeit on Limited runs of 500 copies, by Wah Wah Records in 2020)

THE UNDERDOGS (BLUES BAND)
Murray Grindlay – Vocals
Lou Rawnsley – Guitars
Neil Edwards – Bass
Tony Walton – Drums

PIG, MANN & EDWARDS
Harvey Mann – Guitar / Vocals
Neil Edwards – Bass
Glen ‘Pig’ Absolum – Drums

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
See-saw 7″ singleZodiac1967
Sitting In The Rain7″ singleZodiac1967
Cheating ‎7″ singleZodiac1967
Hey Gyp7″ singleZodiac1967
Sitting In The Rain7″ EPZodiac1968Has sold for £250+
There Will Come A Time7″ singleZodiac1969

Wasting My Time
7″ singlePye Records1970
The Underdogs Blues BandLPZodiac1968Has sold for @ £230+
Wasting Our Time LPPye Records1970Has sold for @ £180+

tasavallan presidentti

(Submitted by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia, August 2021)

(Very quiet introduction … be patient!)

It was the early 70s and I must have been about 15 and already a hardened Progressive Rock devotee. My Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and JethroTull albums were already crowding out my brother’s collection of  Beatles and Fleetwood Mac LPs and the half dozen classical and British comedy recordings of my parents. Bernard Cribbins’ “Right Said Fred” would not make an appearance again for a few decades until wearing shirts became too sexy !

For reasons that are lost in the sylvan forests of that dingily dell of prog rock/adolescent halcyon, time, I thought my collection lacked a Scandinavian slant. ABBA hadn’t had their Waterloo moment yet !

How or where I first discovered Tasavallan Presidentii (President of the Republic) is a complete mystery or major mental blackout. Maybe because my surname was included in the band’s name. I can only speculate.

Lambertland was a proud addition to my ever expanding sonic library.

The cover was like a water colour Roger Dean. All trees and mountains and suns with a splash of pseudo religious symbols floating about. I thought they might throw in a free yoga lesson or a weekend mountain retreat to straighten out your Shakra with every album sold.

As for the music, it had all the ingredients of the genre – rock, folk, ambient, jazz, and the obligatory blues jam in an odd time signature. There was quite a smattering of flute and sax which appealed to me. Clever guitar work and sympathetic bass and drums.

The vocalist was a required taste with a very thick Scandinavian accent and would have been better singing in his native tongue going by some of the lyrics. No keyboard player was credited but I definitely heard the tasteful tinkling of electric piano and perhaps a sparse string synthesizer. The music certainly didn’t require any of the usual heavy handed Hammond, muddying Mellotron or meddling Moog.

(Live in 1971.)

6 tracks over 2 sides is probably prog de riguer. My favourite being the title track though where this mystical place may be – whether the far forests of Finland or a walk in a London suburb (sorry that’s Lambeth) is not clear. It has echoes of folksy Tull, jazzy Soft Machine and zippy Zappa. Not so much in a lumpy porridge sort of way, more a light, healthy, if not hunger abating, muesli.

Where that album ended up I’ll never know – probably an ashtray now at my nieces flat.

Does it stand the test of time ? Not really. Like most prog rock, it sounds dated on the naive side of edgy but it’s all space and time, innit or eikӧ olekin as they say south of Lappland !

Tracks:
1. Lounge
2. Lambertland
3. Celebration of the Saved Nine
4. The Bargain
5. Dance
6. Last Quarters

Recorded:
April-May 1972 at Finnvox Helsinki, Finland and at Europafilm Stockholm, Sweden.

A couple of clips from the TV show. (Just music -band interviews edited out.)

TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI

(Line-up relates to this particular album.)

Jukka Tolonen – Guitar
Eero Raittinen – Vocals
Pekka Pӧyry – Saxophone / Flute
Måns Groundstroem – Bass
Vesa Aӓltonen – Drums

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
Time Alone With You / Obsolete Machine 7″ singleLove Records1969Releases relate only to those from before band initially split.
Solitary / Deep Thinker ‎7″ singleLove Records1970

Sisältäni Portin Löysin
7″ singleLove Records1973
Tasavallan PresidenttiLPLove Records1969
Tasavallan PresidenttiLPColumbia1971
Lambertland LPLove Records1972
Milky Way MosesLPLove Records1974

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


spirits & worm

A&M record executive, Bob Garcia contributed to the sleeve notes of this album, the one and only from Long Island, New York band Spirits & Worm:

” … have caused others to define their music as a ‘fresh young sound- very colourful and full of rhythm – a happy sound!

“We believe in the near future that the music industry and public will take notice of this group, and recognize them as one of the more exciting and talented groups yet to hit the airwaves.”

Very few people were to read this proclamation however, when the album was released in 1970, for it was pulled from distribution almost immediately and it’s believed that only a handful of copies actually found their way into public domain, mainly in the New York area.

The legend and likely reason, is that releasing an album with two goats sitting on top of a grave was always going to court controversy. Imagery with satanic connotations would not go down well. And so it seems some label boss took cold feet and the album failed to be granted the release it merited.

It seems to me the decision maker didn’t actually listen to the album though. The ten, Carlos Hernandez penned tracks are about as far removed from the occult as can be. They are indeed, as Bob Garcia quoted, ‘a happy sound,’ influenced more by the lush West Coast sound popularized by likes of Jefferson Airplane, with vocalist Adrianne Maurici’s powerful vocals drawing comparison to those of Grace Slick.

It does seem a little strange that A&M didn’t just ask the band to change the album’s artwork, but whatever the underlying reasons, originals of this album exchange hands for great sums of money. In fact, one copy was sold through Discogs in 2020 for £730!

There have been a couple of subsequent Limited Edition reissues; in 1994, Sweet Herb Records ran 400 copies and the following year, Water Serpent Records released a further 375 hand-numbered copies.

More recently, the Audio Clarity label have made the re-issued album more freely available, and I’m happy to say I managed to bag one for myself!

Not only is it a piece of psych / psychedelic mastery, but it holds its own special place in musical history.

SPIRITS & WORM:
Adrianne Maurici – Vocals
Carlos Hernandez – Lead Guitar
Alfred Scotti – Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
Tommy Parris – Bass Guitar / Vocals
Artie Hicks Jr. – Drums

RELEASES BY SPIRITS & WORM

TITLE FORMATLABELRELEASE
YEAR
Spirits & WormLPA&M1970