Archive for the ‘Chicken Shack’ Category

Tir Na Nog

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

tirnanogstronguk, Tir Na Nog, Chrysalis, Matthew Fisher, John Martyn, Nick Drake

Listen: Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog
Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog

I was desperate to see Tir Na Nog when they toured the US in ’72. It never happened.

Although being the college concert chairman at the time, having pushed through Rory Gallagher, Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, Colosseum, Atomic Rooster, The Electric Light Orchestra, The Pretty Things and The Incredible String Band against everyone’s “who the fuck are these people” stances in one school year mind you, it didn’t really allow me any more puts. By then, the budget was spent anyways. Otherwise, they’d have been there.

Tir Na Nog’s second and third albums were released in the States, and I particularly loved that third one, STRONG IN THE SUN. It was, well still is, a seminal recording, right up there with the best from Tyrannosaurus Rex, John Martyn and Nick Drake. Indeed the album includes a cover of his ‘Free Ride’, itself worthy of 7″ status. Tracks like ‘Cinema’ rivaled some of Pink Floyd’s tracks from MEDDLE for being…cinematic, funny enough. If you’d told me Norman Smith, Denny Cordell or Peter Asher had produced some of this stuff, I’d have believed you. The album is that good.

Indeed, Matthew Fisher from Procol Harum was in charge of production, and as with similar duties on Robin Trower’s BRIDGE OF SIGHS, did an A+ job.

When I up and headed for London during summer ’73, I took a night off from The Marquee to see them play a small, sit-down-cross-legged room, God knows the name of it now. But the show remains a vivid memory.

There was a time, around ’85, and Howard Thompson was looking at cover songs for 10000 Maniacs. I guess as a potential single, possibly a one-off film submission or something. I recommended ‘Strong In The Sun’. I thought Natalie Merchant would have done it some beautiful justice and Tir Na Nog could have gotten some well deserved recognition. Didn’t happen. ‘Peace Train’ was chosen instead, against the band’s wishes. Years later, turns out Natalie insisted it be removed from that album. Elektra complied..

There has to be someone out there in need of a great song to revive their sagging career: Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Anna Nalick, Five For Fighting, Vanessa Carlton, Paula Cole or wait, Natalie Merchant.

The Pretty Things

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Listen: Havana Bound / The Pretty Things
Havana Bound / The Pretty Things

It’s May 19, technically the anniversary of booking The Pretty Things at my college. I celebrate it every year, well given this also marked my first date with Corinne, it’s impossible to forget. Talk about impressing a girl, this totally did the trick. Yes, our first date was a concert by The Pretty Things, with all the backstage trimmings.

I was the school’s event chairman and conveniently, there was no concert committee. None of the other students were interested. I believe that reality is known as a dream come true. Not only did I worm my way into the campus radio station as music director, I was also booking whoever I wanted with the school’s money. A spoiled freshman, that was me.

Needless to say, only British acts got the slots: Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Rory Gallagher, Atomic Rooster, The Incredible String Band and The Pretty Things. Not a bad lineup for year one.

Given they had a manager that turned down The Ed Sullivan Show, it’s no wonder The Pretty Things never made it to the US during the 60′s. Hard to believe, and neither did The Small Faces.

After having called it quits post their album PARACHUTE flopping in ’70; it was like a miracle that The Pretty Things were reforming to record FREEWAY MADNESS in late ’72. Seemed a lifetime then, and the news was a big deal to the small but already twisted following The Pretty Things had acquired.

Then, on top of that, a premier US tour for spring ’73 was announced. It seemed too good to be true and booking them became my mission in life, School work tabled, getting The Pretty Things to town top of the list. Success, I got the band to play for $500 on May 19th with The James Cotton Band as openers. See the poster below.

Never did I envision at the time that one day, years later, I’d have my own label and actually reissue the FREEWAY MADNESS album. Never ever crossed my mind, but life can take you on the wildest ride if you let it.

Fast forward to ’94, The Medicine Label is up and running out of the Warner Brothers New York office. Mo Ostin, then chairman of both Warner and Reprise, but based in Burbank, would often visit our building at 75 Rockefeller Plaza. On one particular trip, we were talking in the hallway, and it just occurred to me that this was the moment, so I asked, could I re-release The Pretty Things album from the catalog, then lying dormant having been unavailable for years.

“Sure. Good idea, just check to see it hasn’t been scheduled by the reissue department.”

I nearly blacked out with excitement, unlike the reissue team, who smelled a potential predator upon hearing the news.

“Not to worry guys, it’s a one-off.” Reissue departments were very cautious of the finite back catalog from which they drew.

Suddenly, with FREEWAY MADNESS on the schedule, the original 1/2″ master tapes were delivered to my office along with cover art films, bios, press shots, studio logs, you name it. There sat history in the Warner Brothers pouch, as it was referred.

Well who better to write new liner notes than Phil May?

Luckily, we’d been introduced a few years earlier by Shannon O’Shea, a UK friend who was managing the band around ’90-’91. I would often stay in Notting Hill Gate, and Phil lived just down the street from my hotel, on Talbot Road. We spent many an afternoon in his local pub. A nicer guy you will not meet, and the recollections. Endless.

So yeah, Phil May was only too happy to write those CD reissue liner notes, and while rummaging for some bits to post here, I found the agreement below between the WB art department and Phil for the job:

The real moment on FREEWAY MADNESS was ‘Havana Bound’. It was picture perfect Pretty Things, and originally the UK B side to ‘Over The Moon’, released in ’72 as the album’s official single.

Huh? The B side? Not to take anything away from ‘Over The Moon’, great great song but come on. What planet did that decision originate from? ‘Havana Bound’ deserved a big red A label.

Well now was my chance to right wrong so we scheduled a US 7″ of ‘Havana Bound’ to promote the CD reissue and service college radio but mostly because I just had to have it on an A side. Few things have been more exciting than the day those box lots arrived from the plant.

Believe it, the record business in it’s heyday was a euphoric free-for-all.

Above: The promo only insert from the ’73 US release of FREEWAY MADNESS
Below: The 8×10 press shot that accompanied FREEWAY MADNESS mailings to US journalists in ’73

Blodwyn Pig

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig

Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig

Listen: Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig
Dear

Even if you don’t favor late 60′s blues or progressive stuff, you might still appreciate Blodwyn Pig. They were an exception, really quite musical and in fact, still hold up well today.

The band was formed by Jethro Tull’s original guitarist Mick Abrahams, not long after they’d released their debut album, THIS WAS.

Similarly, Blodwyn Pig leaned a bit jazz and like Jethro Tull, were based in more than your standard guitar/bass/drums lineup, with Jack Lancaster on saxes/horns/harmonicas. A particularly strong asset being Mick Abrahams’ effortlessly authentic blues voice. Plus he was a very accomplished acoustic slide player as you can hear.

Pretty amazing to realize this music was written and played by guys in their late teens or at most, early twenties. Saw them once too, along with Chicken Shack, opening for The Kinks. The stellar UK band triple header had me glazing over my school work as I counted down the weeks, then days, then hours until showtime. Man, was it ever worth the agony.

Chicken Shack

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Listen: You Know Could Be Right / Chicken Shack
You Know Could Be Right / Chicken Shack

June 26, 1973. Arrive in England that morning, Chicken Shack that night at The Marquee. Also my first time stepping into the club, the one I had waited what seemed like a lifetime to visit.

Having booked them at college the previous year as part of a three band bill with Savoy Brown and Atomic Rooster, it was during this, their period on Deram, that my infatuation peaked. Had they been signed to say, RCA, most likely the interest level would have been less. Given the added bonus of in-house producer Neil Slaven, with his unmistakable cardboard packing box drum sound, Chicken Shack’s new found bent toward blues rock sludge became rather appealing.

Of all the Blue Horizon releases, ACCEPT, the last, topped my list of the band’s post Chris Perfect lineup. It was followed pretty quickly by the ’72 Deram debut, IMMAGINATION LADY. Keeping track of London band member’s musical chairs the late 60′s/early 70′s would leave your head swirling. I’d seen John Glascock play with Toe Fat just a year or so prior to his joining Chicken Shack for IMMAGINATION LADY. Meanwhile, the guys on ACCEPT, Dave Bidwell, Andy Silverster and Paul Raymond, all moved on to Savoy Brown debuting on STREET CORNER TALKING.

Must have been humbling for Stan Webb, career long Chicken Shack leader, to be 3rd on the bill that December ’72 to headliners Savoy Brown, whose lineup basically consisted of his old employees. Clearly, it doesn’t always pay to be the boss.

Merle Haggard / The Youngbloods

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Listen: Okie From Muskogee / Merle Haggard
Okie From Muskogee / Merle Haggard

I think it was on the Johnny Carson Show where I first encountered ‘Okie From Muskogee’ and in fact, had initially even heard of Merle Haggard. He and his song became the enemy in three short minutes. It was, at the time, a clear antagonistic attack on youth culture. And I was a member.

Many years later it became obvious that the world of country music was as twisted by drugs and sex as any other. Made Merle Haggard become something like an unregistered hypocrite. And once everyone discovered he’d been in jail and all that, he crumbled into a joke.

As it turns out, he claimed the song to be tongue in cheek, and nowadays, I guess everyone believes him. He’s certainly made a lot of good records since. Who knows – the single is quite funny in the 21st century, even hard to hate.

Listen: Hippie From Olema / The Youngbloods
Hippie From Olema / The Youngbloods

There was some relief in the day though. The Youngbloods shot back with a fantastically hysterical response in the form of ‘Hippie From Olema’, a very under heard, under appreciated non-LP track. I don’t believe it’s ever been compiled.

It was the local Syracuse University station, WAER, that started to spin it heavily. The single was perfect for campus radio. And we all glued ourselves to their frequency, given in the late 60′s, they were the only progressive format in town.

I, for one, loved the station. Half the student disc jockeys were Anglophiles jamming out Blodwyn Pig, Juicy Lucy, Chicken Shack, Taste, King Crimson etc over the airwaves. WAER was a Godsend.

The Youngbloods came to the school’s gymnasium about then as well. Despite their unwashed, American folk rock angle, I always loved their records. Never did they release a bad single either, whether it be the early, more pop intended ones (which Jesse Colin Young often accused RCA of forcing them to do) to later, underground album tracks.

So off to the show we went. Let me tell you, they were a serious live band, incredibly musical and entertaining. Collected every last release ever since.

The closing lyric: “We still take in strangers if they’re haggard” gets a SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME lifetime lyrical achievement award for being right up there with both The Ramones’ “I don’t care about poverty, all I care about is me” and Lux Interior’s “From your bottom to your top, you’re sure some lollipop”. Congratulations guys.

John Hammond

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Listen: Mellow Down Easy / John Hammond JohnHammondMellow.mp3

Never got to hear or see John Hammond in his introductory years, despite a few chances at The Fillmore. The sleeve of his Atlantic album, I CAN TELL, made me way curious. He looked like a cross between Mick Jagger and Arthur Lee. But it wasn’t until this single, a few years later, that I finally got the chance.

One of John Hammond’s consistently strong points was his ace ability to interpret classic blues tracks, using what turned into a signature style: minimal unprocessed guitar and harmonica.

His version of ‘Mellow Down Easy’ not only gave the song possibly it’s best white rendition ever, but spilled into Dr. John’s space. Like electric blues in the late 60′s, New Orleans music was brand new. Seems there were so many singles that introduced me to yet more genres and styles in a short period, and I became insatiable for them all.

Listen: As The Years Go Passing By / John Hammond JohnHammondYears.mp3

‘As The Years Go Passing By’ slotted right in with then current versions from Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown, pretty much equaling if not topping them. With no small contribution being a fantastic voice.

Both tracks on this double sider ignited a John Hammond 7″ catalog completion process on my part that took years. Basically I wanted his every single and the two on Atlantic preceding this were oddly not easy finds. All great records as it turns out and worth the effort. Don’t pass any of them up.

Mellow Candle

Friday, April 30th, 2010

MellowCandle, Mellow Candle, David Hitchcock, Deram

Listen: Dan The Wing / Mellow Candle MellowCandle.mp3

Howard, Chris and I went to see the Ian Dury movie the other day. It was pretty great – the end bit got a touch depressing but the film certainly brought me right back to how absolutely stunning he and The Blockheads were on stage during their moments in the sun. Never realized Chaz Jankel was such a vital part of the band and songwriting until the credits rolled.

We had Indian lunch prior, and as usual, started digging into a whole lotta obscure record trivia. I was always a fan of UK Decca’s various production deals. One such was with Gruggy Woof. The company included both Neil Slaven and David Hitchcock. Slaven’s production’s seemed to lean more towards the bluesy side (Savoy Brown, Miller Anderson, The Keef Hartley Band, Chicken Shack) whereas Hitchcock tipped more progressive (Caravan, Camel, Cured Air, Genesis). By the way, I don’t have a clue where that rather bad name originated from, but I liked most of the records these guys/their production company were involed with.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what single I had in my hands literally earlier that very day, with it’s unlikely David Hitchcock production credit. Given that Howard mastered a slew of these during his apprentice years at Trident, we racked our collective brains to no result.

Well tonight I suddenly remembered: Mellow Candle. Their sole album is insanely valuable, and this single is not far behind. Quite why I’m not sure. I always thought ‘Dan The Wing’ was rather watered down Steeleye Span, sonically more in line with what B & C were releasing: folky prog stuff.

Look deeply into the Decca/Deram release history and you will find many an obscure, highly collectable and hence, steeply priced prog rock array of every flavor. I picked this up for pennies in the dj copy heavy outdoor vendor racks at Cheap Cheap on Soho’s Rupert Street during that summer ’73 spent in London. In fact, this copy sat there unsold for literally months until finally having been humiliatingly relegated to the 5p row – I just couldn’t pass up the Deram A label – I mean seriously, 5p?

At first it indeed sounded lightweight and weedy, but I eventually got addicted to it’s weaknesses. They are charmingly innocent, now I play it often.

The Accent

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

AccentRed, The Accent, Parrot, Decca, Mike Vernon

Listen: Red Sky At Night / The Accent AccentRedSky.mp3

Taking the ‘p’ out of psychedelic – maybe. There has always been some debate about The Accent’s authenticity. Summer ’67 had many happenings, some were intentional imitations. Bands appeared from nowhere with songs that were almost formula, simply by adding fuzz, backwards guitars, phasing, you name it.

Fact: The Accent issued but one single, ‘Red Sky At Night’. Not much of their history survived, they were from Yorkshire and landed a residency at Billy Walker’s Upper Cut Club in 1967, which, as a side note, had a legendary opening week (see below).

The single’s wild start/stop LSD wrenched production rivals some of that day’s best: Pink Floyd, The Smoke, Tomorrow etc.
Produced by the usually blues strict Mike Vernon, he showed his competitive strength to the Norman Smiths and certainly validates the band’s credibility.

The flanged vocal effect on the lyric ‘shaking’ at 2:22 always made me laugh and wonder too, is this one of Blue Horizon’s serious blues worshipping bands, say Fleetwood Mac or Chicken Shack, just taking the piss?

No, instead they and their single are a classic piece of history.

uppercut1, Upper Cut Club London

Derek & The Dominoes / Duane Allman / Elton John / Toe Fat

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Mono Edit)/ Derek & The Dominoes

Listen: Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Mono Edit)/ Derek & The Dominoes DerekWhyDoesLove.mp3

Bad Side Of The Moon / Toe Fat

Listen: Bad Side Of The Moon / Toe Fat ToeFat.mp3

Toe Fat US Picture Sleeve
US Picture Sleeve: Front (above) / Back (below)


Toe Fat US Picture Sleeve

On December 4, 1970, Derek & The Dominoes/Elton John/Toe Fat played the Syracuse War Memorial. Truth be told, I went to this show more to see Toe Fat than either Derek & The Dominoes or second on the bill, Elton John. It was all about those obscure UK bands for me, and with Cliff Bennett on lead vocals, Toe Fat, despite the dreadful name, were of big interest.

It was Elton John’s first US tour and to be fair, I was pretty curious. He was great by the way, just a three piece then with Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray. He proceeded to do ‘Bad Side Of The Moon’, despite it being the current single for Toe Fat, who played it as well just before his set. Still remember John Glascock on bass, later in Chicken Shack when I booked them at my college in December 71 and eventually joining Jethro Tull. He had a definite groove to his style and probably made the band swing the way they did.

This show, reviewed below, was one of only two that Duane Allman played live with Derek & The Dominoes. Like the poorly written recap, journalist Terry Lee clearly had no clue about this major moment, despite the roar of the audience when Eric Clapton brought Duane Allman out for the second song onwards. I recall an interview with Duane whereby he mentioned doing Syracuse and Tampa only. Despite his participation on LAYLA, it was one of the lucky moments to see it all live. Years later I quite appreciated the whole Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Leon Russell feel, and admittedly this show was spectacular despite walking in as a Toe Fat fan. Probably the world’s only.

Derek, Elton, Toe Fat Review

Audience

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Indian Summer / Audience

Indian Summer / Audience

Listen: Indian Summer / Audience
Indian Summer / Audience

It Brings A Tear / Audience - US

Listen: It Brings A Tear / Audience
It Brings A Tear / Audience

Listen: You’re Not Smiling / Audience
You're Not Smiling / Audience

AudienceStandUKA, Audience, Charisma, Howard Werth

You're Not Smiling / Audience UK

You're Not Smiling / Audience - UK

Stand By The Door / Audience

Listen: Stand By The Door / Audience
Stand By The Door / Audience

I really shouldn’t like Audience. I’d have done a lot better in school had it not been for them. I could have been a doctor or something. Instead, I spent seemingly an entire Fall semester possessed by their album, THE HOUSE ON THE HILL. It wasn’t just me. My two room mates Larry and Stewart caught the Audience sickness as well. We would literally listen to this album over and over and over. Lights low, candles, pot, huge Audience poster hanging squarely above the turntable (still have it – neatly folded and slid inside the album with the label bio and 8×10′s). We were all entrenched at the college radio station, WITR. We pretty much ran the joint. I was both the music director and program director, not to mention concert chairman. It was English bands and only English bands. If you didn’t like it – transfer out. Every night we’d come back to the apartment with the latest promos that had arrived from the labels. We weren’t in the dorms – we had a proper apartment with very little furniture, lots of mis-matched pillows, orange shag rug and a low coffee table covered in music magazines and drug utensils. Mattresses on the floor in each bedroom – no beds, cardboard boxes for dressers. The records were everywhere, cinder blocks and clapboards constructing many makeshift shelves. Emergency suitcase record players in each bedroom for late night listening too. So we would whirl through the latest offerings: Greenslade, Byzantium, Atomic Rooster, Colosseum, Chicken Shack, If, Family, Juicy Lucy, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, just endless titles. But THE HOUSE OFN THE HILL would start and end the sessions, with a few plays during as well. You could really justify fucking off to it, nothing was more important, it was that good.

I’d heard ‘Indian Summer’ on the radio just before school went into session, must have been late August. Wow – what was that?!? It stood right out and was getting that suspicious two week window of play at Top 40. They called this being tested, and if good results came back, then they’d really hang you out for payola. Isn’t American radio great!!! This sophisticated British sounding song in between Andy Kim and Lobo, or whatever. Yes, I paid attention. I remember the single charted briefly on the Billboard Top 100 too.

During the following winter, I made one of my life’s biggest mistakes. I missed Audience live on their brief, and only, US tour. Gasp. They were opening for The Faces. It was a Sunday night, in Buffalo, about 80 miles away. I had no car, no one did, and no money to get there and certainly no way to get home. I watched the clock that evening, knowing they were playing so close yet so freaking far away. Why didn’t I just hitch hike? Risk being murdered – no brainer. But I didn’t and they never returned. Still bothers me to this day.

Such beautiful music. I know that sounds well corny but just listen. Howard Werth’s shivering vocals, Keith Gemmell’s signature sax that years later The Psychedelic Furs would unknowingly coin, just the right touch of baroque classical trimmings, not stuffy or overdone. The Strawbs, Amazing Blondel and ELO were klutzy klompy plodding wannabes next to Audience. Mind you, Audience had a wonderfully sloppy feel as well. But it was a magical balance and no one ever came close to matching it.

I’ve posted a bunch of Audience mandatories above. That first US 7″ is a classic double sider, and the promo only UK sleeve that housed ‘You’re Not Smiling’ is a prized possession. Isn’t even in the price guide. ‘Stand By The Door’, their final single is simply a perfect masterpiece.

TASTE

Friday, December 26th, 2008

What's Going On / Taste

What's Going On / Taste

Listen: What’s Going On / Taste TasteWhatsGoinOn.mp3

Railway And Gun / Taste

Listen: Railway And Gun / Taste TasteRailway.mp3

The first show I booked as concert chairman at college was Rory Gallagher. I spent all the school’s money on the various English groups I wanted to see: Savoy Brown, Atomic Rooster, The Pretty Things, Chicken Shack, Renaissance, The Incredible String Band. It was a free for all. However, my loyalty to Rory predated this solo career and time period – via his original band, Taste. They made two studio albums. The first, TASTE, was blues rock of a rather irritating quality. The second, ON THE BOARDS, however, was a stunning improvement, and is still a very favorite. Despite my disinterest in pressings from countries other than the US or UK, I made an exception when stumbling on this in a Munich vinyl shop back in ’87. Two tracks from ON THE BOARDS. Nice.