Tag Archives: progressive rock

grannie

Phil Newton & Jan Chandler

From the age of fifteen and while travelling to and from work in central London, guitarist Phil Newton was writing song lyrics. He played in his own little band at that time, rehearsing in his Mum’s front room

Fast froward four years to 1969, and Phil was by now an accomplished Blues player. After befriending Dave ‘H’ Holland, who played bass, the two would often be asked to jam with Powerpack, resident band at the Bridge House, Canning Town.

Phil Newton
Dave ‘H’ Holland

Buoyed by the complimentary remarks on his guitar skills, Phil decided to again form a band. Dave, naturally came on board as bass player, and having played with them in a previous band, Dave recruited the talents of Ray Curtis on drums and Fred Lilley on vocals. For his part, Phil persuaded Jan Chandler to join up on flute and Mellotron (one of the first to be used by a band, I believe.)

Nobody seems to recollect exactly how the band name came about other than Phil suggested it, and the rest went with it! For a while, they played mainly covers of blues standards in local, London East End pubs.

Phil and Dave soon became drawn more to the progressive sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Led Zeppelin and Phil again took to writing his own songs, reflecting this new sound. These were gradually worked into the live sets, and went down well with the punters.

It was now 1971, drummer Ray Curtis had moved on, replaced by John Clarke and Grannie had become an established band in the capital. The next step in their progression, then, was to get their songs down on vinyl. An advert spotted in Melody Maker to record an album for £100 offered the ideal opportunity. and so the five-piece, joined by John Stevenson, who would play organ on the album’s nine-minute long closer, ‘Coloured Armageddon,’ booked their session at SRT Studios in Herfordshire.

None of the band had previous studio experience, and with a mere eight hours available, the tracks were all recorded ‘live,’ with no over dubs or double tracking.

The result was six tracks of mainly guitar driven progressive rock, encompassing a melodic and ‘psychedelic’ feel at times but also with a nod to the heavier side of rock music.

For their £100 investment, the band were presented with ninety-nine copies of the album, the plan being to use them more or less as demos, and hawk them around various labels in search of a record deal. Some would also be sold at live shows.

No deal was forthcoming however, but the band played on! Vocalist Fred Lilley left to be replaced by Steve Betts, and Grannie’s reputation continued to grow. They supported the likes of Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, Gnidrolog and Arrrival, playing iconic venues like The Roundhouse and Marquee, eventually securing a residency at the famous Speakeasy Club in West London. There they’d often play in front of stars in their own right such as, David Bowie, Elton John and Pete Townsend.

Drummer John Clarke left around this time, his place being taken by Graham Guthrie, but things were going well for the band. Until …

Having loaded all their gear into a transit van following a rehearsal at the Club, they discovered the next morning it had all been stolen from where it had been parked up overnight outside the house of the Club manager. Everything was gone, including Jan’s expensive mellotron. Much of the equipment was still being paid up an so with no means of replacing it, the band folded.

Over the ensuing years, collectors of this type of music clamoued for one of the ninety-nine original copies in existence. I don’t see any having been sold via Discogs, however, Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights’ tome describes them as ‘very few exist and are very sought after,’ indicating a fetching price of between £1000 and £2000!

Of course, the increase in awareness and popularity has resulted in several limited re-pressings over the years, with the latest of these worth around £30.

**(Sadly, Phil Newton died alone at age fifty-one in 2001, before fulfilling his dream of fame that he’d held for many years.) **

GRANNIE

Phil Newton – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Dave ‘H’ Holland – Bass / Vocals
Jan Chandler – Flute / Mellotron / Vocals
John Clarke – Drums
Fred Lilley – Lead Vocals
+
John Stevenson – Organ

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Grannie LP1971SRT Prouctions


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

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