Tag Archives: progressive

locomotive

LOCOMOTIVE: first incarnation, 1965 photo credit, JIM SIMPSON

Reading the ‘tags’ above, you’d be forgiven for thinking there had been some kind of editorial cock-up. Ska & Blue Beat? Yes, obviously, if you played the track above. Prog / progressive rock? Eh?

Read on – I shall explain.

Locomotive (initially billed as The Locomotive)were formed in Birmingham, England, during 1965, by trumpet playing jazz musician, Jim Simpson. (Jim is on the far right of the opening image, above.) The original line-up, which wasn’t to last too long, also boasted Chris Wood (bottom left of photo) who would leave towards the end of 1966 to join forces with Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, to form Traffic.

There had been several personnel changes throughout 1966 and Chris’s departure left only Jim Simpson of the original line-up.

Amongst those enlisted to the new line-up was keyboard player Norman Haines who had previously played with The Brum Beats. Norman worked in a record shop in the Smethwick area of Birmingham which had a large West Indian population. The shop would meet the local demand for ska and blue-beat records, and Norman himself became a big fan of the genre.

His influence was brought to bear with the release of the ‘new’ band’s first single ‘Broken Heart.’Written by Haines, it had a blue-beat feel, but was drenched in soulful vocals and horns.

Other than the track itself, there are two interesting facts about this release:
1) it was the last records to be played on the original ‘Jukebox Jury’ television programme … and voted a ‘Miss.’ And it was.
2) the B-side was a cover of Dandy Livingstone‘s ‘Rudy, A Message To You,‘ which would become a hit for The Specials some twelve years later.

The following year, saw the band spend eight weeks in the UK charts, peaking at number twenty-five, with ‘Rudi’s In Love.‘ (This single would be reissued in both 1971 and 1980 during the respective periods of skinhead and two tone popularity, the latter being when I myself bought a copy.)

The remaining original band member, Jim Simpson left in 1968 to concentrate on music management … and did reasonably well, I’d say, going on to eventually look after Black Sabbath.

With a ‘hit’ single and lots of airplay behind them, an album deal beckoned and in early 1969, the lead single from the soon to be released, ‘We Are Everything You See’ long player hit the shops.

You will of course have detected a change in Locomotive’s musical direction!

Opening with a short classical piece, ‘Overture,‘ the album then progresses into blend of psychedelic, jazz and soul. Listening to ‘Mr Armageddan’ puts me in mind of some Paul Weller / Style Council type songs that would follow, the best part of forty years later.

‘Lay Me Down Gently‘ in parts echos The Small Faces, while the Nigel Phillips (three part) composition ‘The Loves of Augustus Abbey‘ has that prog-rock reflection of medieval England.

It’s most certainly an adventurous release. However, as great as it sounds, and no matter the positive music press reviews , the album pretty much bombed as it was released to a somewhat confused fanbase.

Perhaps understandably, established fans of the ska-infused Locomotive did not take to the new prog- rock imbued version of the band. Likewise, the new target audiences regarded them as a bit ‘poppy,’ and were reluctant to buy in.

The follow-up single, ‘I’m Never Gonna Let You Go,’ a cover of the ? and The Mysterions song, also missed the charts.

As a result, Parlophone delayed the album’s release. It did eventually see the light of day in February 1970, but by this time, Norman had left the band and in effect, Locomotive no longer existed.

With no promotion or marketing, sales were unsurprisingly poor, and the album was quickly withdrawn, marking it a rare collector’s item, with copies at time of writing for sale via Discogs at upwards of £500!

Norman would go on to form Sacrfice, later to be known simply as The Norman Haines Band. Remaining band members Bob Lamb (who would later join The Steve Gibbons Band) Mick Hincks, John Caswell and Keith Millar would record one more single before changing the band name to The Dog That Bit People.

Yeah – while the ability to diversify is a great attribute, I wonder how things would have turned out had the band simply avoided any confusion and conflict of fanbase by changing their name prior to releasing the album.

(I love this track! The B-side to Mr Amagedddon)

LOCOMOTIVE
(Throughout their time, I count twenty musicians who played with the band. The following are those I believe were involve with the album’s recording.)

Norman Haines – Keyboards / Vocals
Bill Madge – Saxophone
Mick Hincks – Bass / Vocals
Bob Lamb – Drums
Mick Taylor – Trumpet
+
Dick Heckstall-Smith – Saxophone (session musician)
Henry Lowther – Trumpet (session musician)
Chris Mercer – Saxophone (session musician)

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Broken Heart7″ single1967Direction
Rudi’s In Love7″ single1968Parlophone
I’m Never Gonna Let You Go7″ single1969Parlophone
Mr. Armageddan7″ single1969Parlophone
Roll Over Mary 7″ single1970Parlophone
We Are Everything You SeeLP1970Parlophone


(** Reference was made to the brumbeat.net website in preparation of this piece. **)

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