Jun 29, 2018

AVERAGE WHITE BAND - Person To Person 
(Atlantic Records SD 2-1002, 1976)

The Average White Band (also AWB) are a Scottish Funk and Rhythm'n'Blues band that had a series of soul and disco hits between 1974 and 1980. They are best known for their million-selling instrumental track "Pick Up the Pieces", and their albums "AWB" and "Cut the Cake". The band name was initially proposed by Bonnie Bramlett. They have influenced others such as the Brand New Heavies, and been sampled by various musicians including the Beastie Boys, TLC, The Beatnuts, Too Short, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, and A Tribe Called Quest, Christina Milian, as well as Arrested Development – making them the 15th most sampled act in history. As of 2018, 46 years after their formation, they continue to perform. The band was formed in early 1972 in London by Alan Gorrie and Malcolm "Molly" Duncan, with Owen "Onnie" McIntyre, Michael Rosen (trumpet), Roger Ball, and Robbie McIntosh, joining them in the original line-up. Hamish Stuart quickly replaced Rosen. Duncan and Ball, affectionately known as the Dundee Horns, studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (now part of the University of Dundee, but which at the time was part of the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology, now known as Abertay University), and were previously members of Mogul Thrash. Gorrie and McIntyre had been members of Forever More. McIntyre and McIntosh were used as session musicians on Chuck Berry's recording of "My Ding-a-Ling".

According to Duncan, members of the band had played together before in Scotland, but had moved to London separately and met up by chance at a Traffic concert. They decided to jam together; a friend heard them and remarked: "This is too much for the average white man," which became adapted as the name of the band. Their breakthrough was a support slot at Eric Clapton's comeback concert in 1973. MCA Records released their debut album, "Show Your Hand" (1973), which sold poorly. Bruce McCaskill, who was Clapton's tour manager, liked the band's music and agreed to manage them. He borrowed money to take them to the US and to promote them. McCaskill had many contacts from his days with Clapton and managed to get Atlantic Records to sign them. The band relocated to Los Angeles and released the follow-up, "AWB", better known as The White Album. It reached No. 1 and was the first of many with renowned producer Arif Mardin.

McIntosh died of a heroin overdose at a Los Angeles party on 23 September 1974. Gorrie also overdosed, but Cher kept him conscious until medical help arrived. The New Musical Express reported in January 1975 that AWB played a benefit show for McIntosh's widow at the Marquee Club in London. McIntosh was replaced by Steve Ferrone (previously of Bloodstone), and, like McIntosh, previously with Brian Auger's Oblivion Express. In 1975, the single "Pick Up the Pieces", taken from the No. 1 "AWB" album, reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song knocked Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good" out of No. 1 and sold over one million copies. It was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in March 1975. It also prompted The J.B.'s, the backup band of the "Godfather of Soul", James Brown, to record and release a song in reply, "Pick Up the Pieces, One by One", under the name AABB (Above Average Black Band). It was both a tribute to AWB's knowledge of funk and a tongue-in-cheek play on the Scottish band's name. AWB followed up with the LPs "Cut the Cake" (1975) and "Soul Searching" (1976), both big sellers and yielding further Top 40 singles. "Cut the Cake" was dedicated by the surviving band members to McIntosh's memory. A double live album "Person To Person" was issued in late 1976. Their next LP, "Benny & Us", was a collaboration with Ben E. King.

After several more albums, "Warmer Communications" (1978), "Feel No Fret" (1979) and after a switch to the U.S. Arista label, "Shine" (1980) and "Cupid's In Fashion" (1982), AWB's audience and sales dwindled. The group initially disbanded by 1983. Their 1980 disco hit "Let's Go Round Again" (UK No. 12), was covered in the late 1990s by Louise. Ferrone went on to work with Duran Duran whilst Hamish Stuart joined Paul McCartney's touring group. In 1985 Gorrie released a solo album, "Sleepless Nights". The classic lineup of Gorrie, McIntyre, Ball, Stuart, Duncan and Ferrone reunited for one last time at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary in 1988. Gorrie, McIntyre, and Ball then continued in 1989 to record Aftershock. Alex Ligertwood (ex-Santana, Jeff Beck Group and another veteran of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express) also appeared on this album, replacing lead singer Hamish Stuart, along with Eliot Lewis who co-wrote with Gorrie and joined the band. Ligertwood left after the album's recording and drummer Tiger McNeil joined for the reunited band's live shows. McNeil was with the group until 1994. He was then succeeded by Peter Abbott (ex-Blood Sweat and Tears), who in turn was replaced by Fred "Catfish" Alias in September 1998.

Drummer Adam Deitch did a two-year stint with AWB from 1999 to 2001. Average White Band has continued recording (1997's "Soul Tattoo", 1999's "Face to Face") and touring since. Ball worked on "Soul Tattoo" with the group but was replaced by Fred Vigdor (aka Freddy V.) in 1996. Brian Dunne took over the drum chair in 2001 and when Eliot Lewis left the band in September 2002 to pursue other musical opportunities (including a stint with Hall and Oates), he was replaced by Klyde Jones. Their line-up as of 2002 became Alan Gorrie (bass guitar, guitar, lead and backing vocals), Klyde Jones (keyboards, bass guitar, guitar, lead and backing vocals), Onnie McIntyre (guitar, vocals), Freddy V (sax, keyboards, vocals), and Brian Dunne (drums). Dunne was replaced by Rocky Bryant as drummer as of the 2006 tour. After Jones left in 2011 to join Hall and Oates, Monte Croft (keyboards, bass, guitar) and former Earth Wind and Fire member Morris Pleasure (keyboards, bass, guitar) came in to do brief stints before Rob Aries arrived in 2013. Brent Carter (ex-Tower of Power) has been singing with AWB since 2011. In July 2015, Malcolm ‘Molly’ Duncan, Steve Ferrone and Hamish Stuart reunited to form The 360 Band. This is in essence one half of the original AWB. They released an album titled "Three Sixty" in 2017 and have been performing live together along with supporting musicians. As of 2018, Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre are the only two original members left in the Average White Band.


Jun 28, 2018

(Alligator Records ALCD-4965, 2015)

Once upon a time, in a deep and dark forest, in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky, not far from the village of Edmonton, stood a psychedelic shack where the only rock and roll band in Metcalfe County rehearsed. The year was 1968, and the band was called Itchy Brother. The shack was really a farmhouse now known as the infamous Practice House. And the deep and dark forest was a place on Richard and Fred Young's family farm. Together, with cousins Anthony Kenney and Greg Martin, armed with a pickup-truck load of amps, drums, and guitars, and a stack of American and English rock records, they set out to conquer the world by creating their own brand of rock and roll. As the years went by, they made good on their promise to each other, and the record companies came. First, from Cincinnati, then Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, California, New York, and England, but something always stopped them from leaving the rock club circuit and becoming a national recording act. Presidential elections, plane crashes, the death of a record executive and disco, but most of all, their ages. The train hauling the heyday of Southern rock had come and gone. Itchy Brother got caught in the changing of the guard. They never got to ride the train, but they never gave up.

In the early 80s, they started to hang out in Nashville. Because it wasn't known as one of the rock and roll cities, they had always avoided it like the plague. Their only bout with Nashville was a TV show called Young Country, said Richard Young. Itchy Brother played Robert Johnson's Crossroads on the show in 1970 and though it was fun. "It opened our eyes and pointed our hearts in a different direction," he recalls. Nashville was only 85 miles from Edmonton, but it seemed a million miles from where we started. Greg, then Fred, later took jobs as sidemen where their Southern rock skills proved to be handy and exciting to those acts who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Daniels and Hank Williams, Jr. Richard took a different route by hanging around writing houses. In 1981, with the help of their longtime friend and manager, Mitchell Fox, the boys were signed as writers to Acuff/Rose Publishing Company. Nashville didn't know it, but there was a roots movement starting to happen, and the "No Depression Era" was just over the hill. "It was during this time that we learned a lot about the music business and that Nashville was really only three streets wide," said Fred Young.

In 1986, Greg introduced Richard and Fred to Doug Phelps. Prior to this, the plan had been to record an Itchy Brother album and go for it again, but Anthony declined. Doug Phelps was asked to join in Anthony's place. We couldn't see using the Itchy Brother name without Anthony. At the time, I was reading a book called Deep Blues by Robert Palmer. It spoke about the head chopping ritual and the fact that Muddy Waters band was nicknamed the Headhunters. I told the other guys about the story and it struck a nerve with all of us, said Greg Martin. The HeadHunters started rehearsing in March of 1986 in Greg's basement, then moved to the Practice House when the weather warmed up. "We were determined to create a whole new sound just like Itchy Brother had in the 70s. I knew there was a true passion from the first rehearsal and the fact that the other three were relatives, and had spent their whole lives playing together, made it like a fast-drying glue. For me, it was magic from day one," said Doug Phelps.

The mid-to-late 80s were very special. If you go back and look at the musical diversity going on, especially the roots and college music scene, even country music was allowing things to happen. Their guards were down. This spilled over into the local scene around here. Bowling Green, KY, Louisville, and Nashville were all hopping, as well as the rest of the country. This had a huge impact on us and helped fuel the formation of the HeadHunters, observed Greg. "We are who we are and that's what makes us what we have become. From our life experiences and how we approach and interpret music is how we became a band that tells real life stories. We are a band of many styles: rock, blues, country, jazz, bluegrass, rockabilly, and other roots music. That is the foundation of our sound. Johnnie Johnson once told me "Music has no color. If I had to color the HeadHunters, I'd color us music with a feeling. says Fred. "It started to gel from the first rehearsal. When you can't put a label on it, even when you create it, you know you've got something special," says Richard. Doug had a brother who also loved music. Ricky Phelps was a wandering soul, West Coast-type folkie who had a knack for bluegrass and a love of the Beatles.

"He had moved to Nashville to try his hand as a country songwriter/performer, and like the rest of us, wasn't having much luck. I suggested he should ride up to Kentucky with me and jam with our band, the HeadHunters, for kicks," says Doug. "You know, Doug and Ricky had never really had a chance to sing together in a band. When he came up and jammed with us the first time and we put those brother harmonies together with our rock and roll music, the room literally went neon," observed Richard. "Ricky joined the band, and the very next month, we had a great opportunity presented to us to record in Acuff/Rose''s Hickory Records Studio. They were literally dismantling the studio around us, but we still managed to record a demo of Walk Softly, Dumas Walker and Oh Lonesome Me, the latter being in recognition of all the help Wesley Rose had been to Richard over the years. After that, we started playing more and more gigs locally, but it was really our live radio broadcast, The Chitlin' Show, on WLOC in Munfordville, KY, and the Practice House that brought it all together," remembers Greg.

In the earlier part of 1988, the HeadHunters met a very interesting fellow by the name of Jonathan D. W. Lyle. He was a huge blues music fan and fell in love with the HeadHunters music. He had a history of helping struggling bands, and ended up giving us $4,500 to go into the studio and record our music. We booked time at the Sound Shop with Mike Bradley and had just enough money to record for three days. We recorded eight tracks and called it Pickin' On Nashville, Doug remembers. In late 1988, after much coaxing from Tom Long at ASCAP and song publisher Larry Shell, the HeadHunters agreed to do a record company showcase at Douglas Corner, a local Nashville hangout. "Lee Roy Parnell was showcasing that night and we were a last minute tag on. After Lee Roy played, we sat up and kicked off with Walk Softly on this Heart of Mine. It was like someone had said there's a bomb in this place! The room cleared out in about two minutes, except for the sound man, waitresses, Tom, Larry, Harold Shedd and a few hangers-on," remembers Richard. "Lee Roy later told us that when he heard us that night, he thought, 'Oh my God, Heavy Metal Bluegrass!'" Greg recalls.

Harold was the President of Mercury Records and had a reputation and success record for taking chances on the unlikely. He called us the next day and said we may be cooking hamburgers next year, but I've got to try this. The HeadHunters signed with Mercury in July of 1989. We added the Kentucky part of our name at this point, because Herbie Hancock was already using it as a stand alone. "Pickin' On Nashville" came out in October 1989. It blew up like an atom bomb, and changed our lives forever. The rest is history. Well, almost, says Richard. After the release of the HeadHunters' second album "Electric Barnyard", all hell broke loose. On June 2, 1992, Doug and Ricky Phelps left to start a duo career. Longtime friend and cousin Anthony Kenney came to their rescue to play bass, and buddy Mark Orr was recruited for vocals. "It felt good to have Anthony back in the band, and we were proud to have a great blues rock singer like Mark Orr," say Fred, Richard, and Greg. Mark should have been one of those great Southern rock singers of the early 70s, but he missed the boat because of Vietnam. "When we were listening to the Beatles White Album in the Practice House, Mark was fighting on Hamburger Hill with the 101st Airborne Division," says Fred.

During this time, the Kentucky HeadHunters returned to their blues-rock roots. They released two albums in 1993. The first entitled "Rave On", on Mercury, and the critically acclaimed blues record "That'll Work" on Elektra-Nonesuch, with legendary blues pianist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Johnnie Johnson. "Recording and playing with Johnnie Johnson has been one of the highlights of our musical journey. He was like your old uncle, laid-back and cool offstage, but when he sat down at the piano, he was in charge and anyone who ever played with him became a better musician." said Richard Young. In 1994 and 1995, there were a lot of changes in store for the HeadHunters. Mark Orr left the band, Harold Shedd left Mercury, Luke Lewis came in as president and, during this time, Mercury released a greatest hits package called "Still Pickin". "When Mark left, I called the Phelps boys and asked if they would like to make another go of it. You gotta love Ricky. He said "Yeah! Let's change the name and start all over!" Now the HeadHunters have big balls, but I don't think anyone (including Doug) wanted to risk losing the HeadHunters brand," says Richard. In the end, it was Doug who came back. He has and always will be our friend, band mate, and a team player. Ricky will always be our friend, and we love him for who he is.

In 1996, the HeadHunters were signed by Joe Galante at BNA in Nashville after hearing what they had been up to since Doug's return. "Joe had always liked the HeadHunters and he had us record a song for Roy Roger's last album early on. We will never forget him for that opportunity," said Fred. The BNA record was called "Stompin' Grounds". It was a trek back to the HeadHunters more country roots. Joe heard the record in his office and signed us on the spot. To set it up at radio, he and Connie Bradley at ASCAP got us on the New Faces Show. In 1989, we had blown the roof off of the place. We didn't get the same reaction the second time around. "When we kicked in, it reminded us of Douglas Corner in 1988. If the doors had been locked, those radio folks would have knocked them down to get out! Joe walked up at the end and said "Boys, that's one of the best shows I've ever seen. What a class act!" In 2000 and 2003, the HeadHunters came back with two of their best ever. "Grass String Ranch" was a rebel rouser's dream that saw the band dig deep into their Southern rock bag of tricks. Then came Soul, lauded by many to be the Heads at their best since "Pickin' On Nashville" and "That'll Work". The record was an experiment to re-create the vibe, sound, and style of the early Muscle Shoals recordings. Once again, the rub of being from Kentucky created something all together different. Both records were on Koch Records.

2005 saw the release of "Big Boss Man". Sony music's Tom Long called us and asked if we would take the Sony catalog and "HeadHunterize" a bunch of classics for movie tracks. Once they heard it, they put it out as a record. "We had a lot of fun messing with all those old songs, and it was great working with Tom, who was first to discover our talents back in the 70s," said Fred. In 2006, "Flying Under The Radar" was released. "This CD was a mixture of album cuts that we hoped would get a second chance to be heard, from the previous three CD releases. We're glad we put the record out. A lot of folks come up and say, "Oh, I like this song or I like that song." That's proof that if you put a great song on a record when the times and the way people are thinking are off, it will go right over their heads," said Doug. 2007 saw our cousin, and life-long bandmate, Anthony Kenney retire from the Kentucky HeadHunters. Anthony is truly one of the greatest musicians and songwriters we have had the honor to share the stage with. We will always miss his talent and quick wit.

Fred, Doug, Greg and Richard found themselves right where they were when the HeadHunters started... A four piece band. They made a pact with each other that this was the way the Heads would stay. Back in 1990, a landmark live album was recorded, at the legendary Agora Ballroom, in Cleveland, Ohio. While the heads were writing on a new album, they decided to also use this time dust off the live multi-tracks, mix them, and present them to Universal Records. Luke Lewis heard the concert, made a call to California, and in 2009, the album was released on the prestigious "Live Bootleg Series", that had previously spawned great live albums from the likes of Muddy Waters, Kiss, Cinderella, and many others. 2010 saw The Kentucky HeadHunters take two giant and much needed steps. Finally, after many years of recording in large studio's, for major labels, the boys formed their own record label, Practice House Records, and headed to the farm to record, for the first time in the Practice House. The result was "Dixie Lullabies", released October 19, 2011. Being in the old farm house with no restrictions and no time limits allowed the Heads to be themselves, in the truest form.

In April 2015, the band released another collaborative album with Jimmie Johnson entitled "Meet Me In Bluesland", on Alligator Records. It was originally recorded in 2003. "On Safari" came in 2016. This album featured several songs that the band had written years prior, including "Crazy Jim", which like "Dumas Walker" was inspired by a local man that the band members knew; "Governor's Cup", the band's first ever instrumental track; and a cover of Alice Cooper's "Caught in a Dream". The band's sound is influenced by country music, blues, Southern rock, and heavy metal, and has been described as guitar-heavy, rambunctious music. Lead singer Doug Phelps' voice has been described as alternately suggesting Count Basie's storied blues shouter Jimmy Rushing and the laidback cool of Eagle Glenn Frey. The band's combination of styles is most notable in its cover song choices on early albums. All three Mercury albums contain a Bill Monroe cover, and other covers on these albums include Waylon Jennings, Carl Perkins, Norman Greenbaum and The Lovin' Spoonful. Soul showcased the band's blues and Rhythm'n'Blues influences through its use of Hammond organ and a horn section. The band's original compositions, such as "Dumas Walker" and the title track to "Songs from the Grass String Ranch", often develop a regional theme. At its peak in the early 1990s, The Kentucky Headhunters were considered a dark horse in country music, due to the significant mainstream attention that the band received despite their rougher sound and the members' rural Southern image. In 1991, Entertainment Weekly critic Alanna Nash wrote that although the band did not sell as many albums as contemporaries George Strait or Garth Brooks, they may just end up redefining country for the 90s given the diverse range of influences and styles. Billboard critic Ray Waddell called the band arguably the most consistent and durable Southern rock outfit on the planet.

MICHELLE SHOCKED - Arkansas Traveler 
(Mercury Records 314 512 101-2, 1992)

An awfully authoritative-sounding internet rock guide insists that Michelle Shocked’s life must be fiction. But if it seems like an incredible road movie, a tall tale, a legend, it is no mystery. Michelle Shocked set forth on her adventure ever so young but ever so determined to jump past, jump through, jump beyond any boundary that held her back. The soaking humid Piney Woods swamplands of east Texas at the edge of the border with Louisiana was where she came from; born in Dallas and schooled in Gilmer. Raised in a large, extremely poor, strict fundamentalist Mormon household, her escape consisted of summers spent with her hippie-atheist father. She left home for good at 16. Putting herself through the University of Texas at Austin , with no financial support from her family, she graduated with a degree in Oral Interpretation of Literature. "It was the careerist ’80s, and that seemed like the least practical thing I could pursue", recalls Shocked. After graduation, she hit the road, in customary Kerouac fashion. She rambled first to California, playing mandolin and fiddle in street bands, emerging as a staunch political activist first and foremost.

Her persona was unadulterated punk rocker with a spiky mohawk and a ring in her nose. She hung out on San Francisco ‘s hardcore scene with MDC and the Dead Kennedys. Arrested at the 1984 Democratic Convention, a front-page news photo of her struggling with the police would ultimately serve as an album cover. Her mother would eventually commit Shocked to a mental institution against her will. "After 30 days, the insurance money ran out, so I was ‘cured’ and they released me". Back on the street, dazed by the chemical straightjacket drugs given her by the mental health authorities, half-convinced that she was indeed crazy, she headed for New York City. There she explored the music scene at CBGB’s and ate her one big meal of the week at the Cottonwood Café in the West Village. Caught up in the cycle of homelessness that swept across America in the 1980s, Shocked searched for an alternative. She made her way to Paris , and hitchhiked throughout Europe, busking on the streets of Madrid, surviving on her wits, and a daily ration of alfalfa sprouts. The vagabond lifestyle was far from ideal. At an anti-cruise missile peace camp in Sicily, she was raped by a Green Party comrade. Settling on Amsterdam for the interim, she worked for a pirate radio station and shared a squat with a stranded British reggae band from Birmingham. She was still poor, but she was free.

In 1986 Shocked returned to Texas, to the annual songwriters' gathering at the Kerrville Folk Festival, to volunteer and hang out with her friends, to listen to their new songs and play her own. In those days (and for that matter, still today) Shocked was determined to credit her inspiration from fellow Texas songwriters Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. An Englishman who said he was a journalist heard her one night out among the campfires and asked if she would play her songs for his Sony Walkman. He never got around to mentioning that he was actually a partner in a brand new British independent record label. She played him some songs out there that night, his tape recorder sitting on a log as the crickets sang bucolic background vocals and the trucks downshifted, and she told some stories. She did not know it at the moment, but just like some of her heroes, Leadbelly and Muddy Waters, she was being field recorded. That tape of her music, made on a Walkman with weak batteries so that it ran far too quickly when played back at normal speed, got played repeatedly on the BBC.

It was a friend who owned a phone that got the call. "Your record is on the charts", was the information the label, Cooking Vinyl had to report. "What record ?" Shocked inquired. It had been named "The Texas Campfire Tapes" and it was to be her debut recording. Figuring she had nothing much to lose, Shocked saw it as her chance to offer up her two-cents worth. She had grown up in a tradition of bluegrass and blues, of Texas swing and singer-songwriters, and now Michelle Shocked was an authentic British pop phenomenon. She played her first show, her first show ever, at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. She had planned on activism, not a music career. Over the next eighteen months, Shocked found herself working for a manager who was also her booking agent and who was also her record label owner. Shocked remembers, "the label was shopping me to major labels, licensing my record around the world, booking gigs, collecting commissions and my royalties, and shipping me and my guitar C.O.D. It was as if I’d fallen into a new job at the circus getting shot out of a cannon". Despite the disarray, she had a plan.

Shocked risked signing with a major label (Mercury Records) for the sake of attempting to change the system from within. She turned down the label’s advance for the sake of owning her work. And she had another plan too. She had organized her songs into a trilogy that was meant to show where she had come from, not just show the listener, but to also remind herself as well. After her first taste of circus-cannon celebrity, she was leaving something more substantial than breadcrumbs behind her to mark her way back home, a trail of remarkable songs. The first part of her trilogy was called "Short Sharp Shocked" (1988). She was introduced to producer Pete Anderson, known for his commercial success with Dwight Yoakum. The album they made together became an instant classic, so much so that when they returned to the studio a year later, most everyone presumed they would automatically set forth on "Short Sharp Shocked II".

"Captain Swing" (1989) was a lot of things, but it was not "Short Sharp Shocked II". The album took advantage of her Texas roots to pursue her notion that swing was more than just a style that the mere act of music swinging shot past style. Her use of horn arrangements emphasized Michelle Shocked ‘s diverse songwriting skills. Categories now, did not apply. The final phase of her trilogy, named "Arkansas Traveler", before she had even recorded "Short Sharp Shocked" had always been meant to be a tribute to the fiddle tunes she had played with her father and brother on mandolins, banjos and such. She pursued the hidden roots of that music and those old familiar tunes. Writing new lyrics, trying out new ways of playing the oldest of tunes, writing new tunes that sounded ancient, she traveled three continents to play with her heroes and her peers and a few rank strangers. Pops Staples, Doc Watson, Gatemouth Brown, Jimmie Driftwood, Taj Mahal, and Allison Krauss were part of the adventure. Recorded on steamboats, in log cabins and even recording studios, "Arkansas Traveler" (1992) was a triumph, and if even she did not know what was next, she knew she had made her way back home.

Following her instincts, she began exploring gospel traditions while attending an African-American church in Los Angeles, where she was living on a houseboat. Shocked began writing a gospel record. On the day her next recording was to begin, she entered the studio to discover that her label was refusing to issue payment before the session even started. Shocked recounts, "I was taken into a closed-door meeting with the head of business affairs, who informed me that the label was no longer going to promote my music because I cut too good a deal for myself". Her catalog was continuing to sell steadily; the label wanted the masters back. She left the office and she never went back, not until the day she arrived to collect what she had owned all along.

Other labels tried to sign her; Mercury sent a cease-and-desist letter that blanketed the industry. They would not let her record and they were not going to release her. She recorded a solo electric record called "Kind Hearted Woman" and sold it exclusively at her shows in defiance of her label’s efforts to stop her. She toured relentlessly, reconfirming her consummate talent as a stage performer. Pioneering an artists’ rights paradigm, she sued Mercury using the 13th Amendment, the reform abolishing slavery. They settled the day the trial was to begin and for the first time in years, she was free again. She recorded a new version of "Kind Hearted Woman" (1996) with her band, releasing it on Private Music/BMG, but this time the contract gave her the option on them. Three months later, in a classic corporate shake-up, Private Music was folded into a different entity. She exercised her option and was spared the fate of so many artists in recent years, trapped in the consolidation of the recording industry. Michelle Shocked owns "Kind Hearted Woman" and her entire catalog of music. It is difficult to think of another major label artist who has ever been in her position.

Shocked now spends time between her homes in Los Angeles and New Orleans . Known at her church as Sister Shocked, she continues to work quietly for non-violence in the environmental and global justice movements. Her current efforts also involve support for Save Africa’s Children, a pan-African vision that addresses the AIDS pandemic on the African continent. She has written a cycle of songs Inspired by the brass band scene in New Orleans. Shocked spent time wandering through Mexico and Guatemala, creating another body of work, which explores her Latin-American heritage. Additionally, she has collaborated with Fiachna O’Braonain (of Ireland's Hothouse Flowers) on material that presents their vision for the new millennium. The first result of that collaboration is her latest release "Deep Natural". Co-produced by O’Braonain, Deep Natural launched Shocked’s own label Mighty Sound (2002) in typically innovative fashion. The release is book-ended with an alternate version of instrumentals entitled "Dub Natural". By stripping away her voice and lyrics, "Dub Natural" emphasizes the rich musicality that has always been part of Shocked’s work. Mighty Sound (Ryko Distribution) has planned a full schedule of deluxe reissues of the Michelle Shocked catalog. The label will also be a home for her forthcoming projects, as well as new and developing artists. For some, that would be all the story necessary; for Michelle Shocked , plainly it is just one more step on her journey. Or as she states, "I can’t tell you where I’m going, but I can tell you where I come from".

Jun 27, 2018

BLUE - Another Night Time Flight (The Rocket Record Company PIG-2290, 1977)

Blue are a Scottish pop rock band, formed in Glasgow in 1973. The band currently consists of Hughie Nicholson, Ian MacMillan and David Nicholson. Formed and fronted by ex-Marmalade guitarist Hughie Nicholson, Blue signed to RSO Records and released their eponymous debut album the same year. Nicholson was a member of Marmalade between 1971 and 1973, writing fifteen songs to fulfil their Decca recording contract, including the hits, "Cousin Norman", "Back On the Road", and "Radancer" before he left to form Blue. He wrote the majority of Blue's material, including their most recognised number, "Gonna Capture Your Heart". Earlier in his life, he had been a member of the 1960s Scottish rock outfit, The Poets.

BLUE began life in 1973 with Hugh Nicholson, formally of 'The Scots of St James' 'The Poets' and Marmalade. Ian MacMillan of 'The Boots' The Sabres' 'White Trash' and 'Cody', plus drummer Timi Donald from 'The Pathfinders', 'Quiver' and 'White Trash'. They signed a recording agreement with Robert Stigwood's record label RSO and their debut album "Blue" received critical acclaim worldwide from the likes of 'Rolling Stone' magazine, Radio 1's 'John Peel' Melody Maker, Billboard and many more. 'Red Light Song', 'I Wish I Could Fly' and 'Look Around' were performed on the BBC's 'Old Grey Whistle Test'. These were followed by the turntable hit 'Little Jody' which featured a new recruit to Blue ex Stone The Crows guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, who later left to join Paul McCartney's 'Wings'. Blue then embarked on a coast to coast US tour with replacement guitarist Robert Smith (Smiggy) playing alongside Muddy Waters, Taj Mahal, The Beach Boys.

The second album for RSO, "Life in the Navy" was recorded and produced in San Francisco by Elliot Mazer, who had just produced the "Harvest" album for Neil Young. Blue toured extensively in the UK and Europe promoting the album. After this period drummer Timi Donald along with Guitarist Smiggy left the group to be replaced temporarily by drummer and percussionist Jeff Allen formally of 'East of Eden' 'The Beatstalkers' and having also performed with 'Van Morrison', 'John Martyn' and 'Mick Taylor'. Dean Ford lead singer with Marmalade helped out with vocals and harmonica on the 'John Peel Sessions'. Hugh's brother David Nicholson having played with 'The Poets' 'Matthew's Southern Comfort' came in on bass guitar and keyboards with Charlie Smith drummer of 'Dream Police' and 'Marsha Hunt's 22' replacing Jeff during the Rocket Records period. Sir Elton John saw Blue performing at a Kiki Dee concert in Bradford, England in 1976 and signed them to his Rocket Records label. The debut album 'Another Night Time Flight' produced by Elton and Clive Franks launched Blue into the USA and UK singles charts with Hugh's composition 'Gonna Capture Your Heart'.Tours in the USA and the UK followed with Blue playing alongside KiKi Dee, Jimmy Buffet, The Small Faces, Leo Sayer and on their performance at the Reading Festival Elton joined them on-stage playing piano.

The second Rocket album "Fools' Party" was promoted in Germany touring the country with top German group Lake. In October 1979 the group relocated to Los Angeles, parting company with Rocket Records. They continued performing at various venues throughout California including a residency at the Central Club (later The Viper Club), The Palomino,The Troubadour and The Roxy where they played alongside The Band whose guests were Dr John and Joe Cocker. Their album 'The LA Sessions' was recorded at The Band's (The Last Waltz) Shangri-la Studios, Zuma beach, California. In 1983 Hugh returned to the UK where he continued writing and recording. Ian MacMillan joined Hugh on various sessions, check out their "Heaven Avenue" album. 

Blue's debut single "Little Jody" failed to chart. It was recorded before Jimmy McCulloch joined the band. A revised version of "Little Jody" appeared on a compilation album, 20 in 2002. They then added another guitarist, Robert 'Smiggy' Smith (born 30 March 1946, Kiel, Germany) before recording and issuing their second album, "Life in the Navy". This revised line-up did not last for long, following a dispute with RSO, only MacMillan and Nicholson remained. The duo then added Charlie Smith (drummer) and David Nicholson (bass), and it was this line-up that signed to Elton John's record label named The Rocket Record Company and scored a US Billboard Hot 100 chart entry, and UK Singles Chart Top 40 hit, with "Gonna Capture Your Heart". It was their debut release from the "Another Night Time Flight" album, which was produced by Elton John and Clive Franks. Blue released two other singles from the album which both failed to enter the UK Singles Charts.

They released one other album for Rocket Records, entitled "Fools' Party" (1979) before parting company and re-locating to Los Angeles, California. They spent three years compiling new material and playing the local clubs such as The Roxy, The Troubadour, The Palomino, Madame Wong's and the Central Club (later The Viper). Unsuccessful in securing a contract with their new material, they returned to the UK in 1983, shortly before which Blue released the single "Don't Wanna Make You Cry"/"Moonlight" on the Zuma label (1982). Nicholson released "Love You Made a Fool of Me" (1984), and whilst continuing to record with MacMillan, also wrote and produced four singles with Gary Numan on lead vocals; "Radio Heart", "London Times" and "All Across the Nation" which were released under the name Radio Heart in 1987, and "Like a Refugee (I Won't Cry)" released under the name Da Da Dang in 1994. The first two releases entered the UK Charts.

In 2003, the remaining personnel Hugh and David Nicholson plus Ian MacMillan took the then high flying boy band Blue to court. It was a high profile High Court case over the use of the band's name. But the 1970s band Blue heard the judge opine that "it is not difficult to distinguish between the present day pop group, and the original users of the group's title". They subsequently came to an agreement that they could continue to share the name.

Jun 26, 2018

AYERS ROCK - Big Red Rock (A&M Records SP 4523, 1974)

Ayers Rock was the leading Australian 'jazz-rock' group of the 70s, fusing rock with influences from soul, R&B, jazz and Latin music. The band was built on world-class standards of playing and complex arrangements, and inspired by overseas groups such as Traffic, Santana and Weather Report. The original members were all seasoned players, widely regarded as among the best musos in the country, and their musical connections were woven through a series of major bands of the 60s and early 70s. Mark Kennedy was and is still widely regarded as one of Australia's best drummers. He rose to prominence as the original drummer in Spectrum. He left that band in late 1970, just after recording their first LP, and he became an in-demand session player, as well as working in a series of loosely connected groups including King Harvest (where he first teamed up with McGuire and Doyle) and Friends with Leo De Castro.

Duncan McGuire was a true rock veteran (and one of the unsung heroes of Aussie music). His first band was The Phantoms way back in 1959. He was a member of The Epics (1962-64), who backed Little Pattie live and on her early Singles and first album, as well as playing with Reg Lindsay, Johnny Ashcroft, Brian Davies, Jay Justin and Johnny O'Keefe. From 1966-68 he was a member of The Questions (Doug Parkinson's first major band) which also included Ray Burton and Doug Lavery (who later joined The Valentines and Axiom). McGuire stayed with Parkinson through In Focus and Fanny Adams before shifting to Melbourne and playing with King Harvest and Friends. Jimmy Doyle had been a member of the backing bands for The Delltones and Dig Richards, and during the early Sixties he also worked as the musical director for renowned honky-tonk pianist Winifred Atwell. Ray Burton had been the rhythm guitarist in the Dave Bridge Quartet in the early Sixties, and then a member of the Delltones' backing band, after which he joined the first lineup of successful Sydney harmony-pop group The Executives. He worked variously with Doyle, McGuire and Kennedy in King Harvest, Doug Parkinson In Focus and Friends. He relocated to the USA in the early 70s, where he worked Helen Reddy and co-wrote her 1972 international mega-hit "I Am Woman".

In 1973 the above-named four took the logical step and formed their own band, McGuire Kennedy Burton. Later in the year, they added another player, multi-intrumentalist Col Loughnan. Col had actually started his career as lead singer with Sydney vocal group The Crescents. In 1962 Col was recruited to replace Noel Widerberg, lead singer with The Delltones, who had been tragically killed in a car accident earlier in the year. Col performed with The Delltones for five years (1962-67). In the late Sixties Col returned to his first love, jazz, and his prowess on a wide range of instruments (alto, tenor and baritione saxophones, flute, keyboards and percussion) gave the Ayers Rock sound a distinctive edge. With Loughnan on board, the new band changed their name to the more marketable (and patriotic) Ayers Rock. They were one of the first groups signed to Michael Gudinski's newly established Mushroom label, and their debut single, "Rock'n'Roll Fight", was issued at the end of 1973.

They performed at Sunbury '74 and one track from their set, Ray Burton's "Morning Magic", was included on the Highlights of Sunbury 1974 LP, which has recently been re-released in the 2-CD set Highlights of Sunbury 1973 and 1974 on Michael Gudinski's Liberation Blue label. These tracks are the only extant Ayers Rock recordings to feature Burton, who left the band during 1974. Col Loughnan's official website features a superb colour clip of the group performing live at Sunbury, with excellent sound. He was replaced by singer-guitarist Chris Brown, whose previous credits included a stint in Little Sammy & The In People, the noted '60s Sydney club outfit led by singer Sam "Little Sammy" Gaha (father of TV's Eden and Danielle Gaha); although not commercially successful, this notable band variously included Brown, Harry Brus, Michael Carlos, Barrie McAskill, Col Nolan and Janice Slater.

Ayers Rock's debut album "Big Red Rock" was taped live before an invited audience at Armstrong's Studios in Melbourne over two nights in September 1974. The live-in-the-studio approach worked extremely well for Ayers Rock, and the album clearly demonstrated why their awesome live 'chops' had made them such a popular concert attraction. But it also was something of a necessity for the cash-strapped label -- they took the same approach with andnother early signing, Mackenzie Theory. The Ayers Rock LP reportedly cost Mushroom a mere $5000 to record. "Big Red Rock" was an early critical and commerical success for Mushroom, showcasing the band's considerable prowess and the material was a good balance between the more commercial song-based material of McGuire and Brown and the more adventurous instrumentals. The LP features three songs by McGuire, including their memorable second single, the Latin-flavoured "Lady Montego", a song that dated back to McGuire's stint in Friends; an earlier, slower version appears (in a live recording) on the Garrison: The Final Blow LP.

"Big Red Rock" also features two excellent pieces by Loughnan, two songs by Chris Brown, and a dazzling cover of Joe Zawinul's "Boogie Woogie Waltz", originally recorded by Weather Report (who were at that time virtually unknown in Australia). Loughnan's power-jam "Crazy Boys" is also worth hearing for its hilarious intro; dedicated to an unnamed Sydney hamburger joint, it includes a sly reference to a "Gudinski burger" and very funny joke about "Dr Hopontopovus, the Greek gynaecologist". As Vernon Joyson has noted, Ayers Rock's recordings suggest that there was some dilemma about whether they should pursue a more expansive instrumental-based approach or opt for a more song-based commercial sound. From the evidence of "Big Red Rock", its arguable that its the instrumental tracks -- "Crazy Boys", "Big Red Rock" and the brilliant cover of "Boogie Woogie Waltz -- that stand up best today, but the demands of radio airplay and gigging meant that this dilemma was never satifactorily resolved, and the group's relatively short lifespan and small catalogue meant that they never really got the chance to reach their full potential.

In the late 1975 Ayers Rock performed at the final gigs at Melbourne's fabled Reefer Cabaret. Live versions of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and "Boogie Woogie Waltz" were included on the double-album A-Reefer-Derci, culled from performances from the last two nights on 30 and 31 December 1975, and released by Mushroom in 1976. Like Mushroom's earlier Garrison: The Final Blow set, it commemorated the closure of the venue and was a means of thanking the Reefer Cabaret for supporting Mushroom's artists during 1974-75. During '75-76, Kennedy began working with Marcia Hines and they later became engaged, which led to him leaving Ayers Rock in 1976. He was replaced for a time by Russell Dunlop, who, like Kennedy, was a seasoned veteran, and a respected session player and producer, but his permanent replacement was hotshot young drummer Hamish Stuart, who has since become a mainstay of the Sydney music scene and one of the most respected drummers in the country. At this point the group also added a permanent keyboard player, Andy Cowan (ex Madder Lake).

Ayers Rock's second LP "Beyond" was not quite as successful sales-wise, but no less impressiv musically. By this time the emphasis had shifted to longer works that allowed the band to showcase its considerable improvisational skills, and the LP consists of just six tracks, three each by Col Loughnan and Chris Brown. One of Brown's songs, "Little Kings", was lifted to become their third single. Recorded in Los Angeles, the album was vastly more expensive to record than its predecessor, reportedly costing Mushroom a whacking $60,000, but by this time Mushroom's coffers had been swelled by the massive success of Skyhooks. The LP was also released in the USA, with different cover art. Their fourth and final single for Mushroom, "Song For Darwin" (May 1976) was inspired by the Cyclone Tracy disaster that had devastated the city on Christmas Day 1975. After parting with Mushroom, the band broke up for about three years, but it was reformed by Brown, Doyle, Stuart and Cowan in 1979 and they established their own label, Red Rock. A new single, "On The Avenue" was released at the end of 1979, followed by "Lies" in early 1980, both issued through Polydor. The singles were both included on their third and final LP Hotspell, distributed by RCA. Unfortunately, the album was not successful and the band broke up in 1981.

Founding members Jimmy Doyle and Duncan McGuire have, sadly, both since passed away; Duncan died in 1986 from a brain tumour and Jimmy died in May 2006 from liver cancer. Recorded in one, live-in-the-studio session in September 1974, "Big Red Rock" was one of the first albums issued on the mighty Mushroom label. Despite the brief nature of the recording, the band was well prepared and the album stands as a fine example of musical skill and technique combined with song writing brilliance. This is where jazzy pop and blues rock textures meet jazz rock explorations and trippy soundscapes, where the band’s sound coalesced into a cogent whole. Ayers Rock could move from one style to the next with consummate ease. From the silky, jazzy pop of ‘Lady Montego’ (issued as a single), into the tough blues rock of ‘Nostalgic Blues’ which glides into the Frank Zappa Hot Rats styled jazz rock of ‘Crazy Boys’ and onto the jazz fusion magnificence of their version of Weather Report’s ‘Boogie Woogie Waltz’. The band also explored trippy soundscapes in the evocative title track where treated sax solos and wah-wah guitar emulated the didgeridoo, calling to mind the vast, forbidding landscape of the Red Centre. The group went on to make a mark on the vast USA touring circuit, playing to massive crowds and paving the way for Little River Band, AC/DC, Air Supply, Men at Work and INXS.

Jun 25, 2018

JOHN D. LOUDERMILK - The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk
(RCA Victor Records LSP-4097, 1969)

Despite the widespread if somewhat under-publicized popularity of many of his songs, it's hard to know just what to expect from John D. Loudermilk's own recordings. One of the most original songwriters in 1960s Nashville, Loudermilk penned a number of hits that have been recorded by artists ranging from Nina Simone and Norah Jones ("Turn Me On") to William Bell ("Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"), from Johnny Cash ("Bad News") to the Flying Burrito Brothers ("Break My Mind"), and from Paul Revere and the Raiders ("Indian Reservation") to practically every delinquent garage band on the planet ("Tobacco Road"). Loudermilk himself recorded many of these and released them some forty years ago on albums with titles like The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk, John D. Loudermilk Sings a Bizarre Collection of the Most Unusual Songs, and Suburban Attitudes in Country Verse.

Sure, there was an element of novelty-song humor to some of Loudermilk's work, but much of what's collected on this disc -- a fantastic-sounding reissue of Open Mind and almost all of Most Unusual Songs, plus some other numbers of note, twenty-seven songs in all -- reveals Loudermilk to have been a witty, pop-conscious songsmith who at his best transcended novelty and exhibited, yes, an open mind during years of uncertainty and peril. While some of what's here might seem uncomfortably obvious today, the social consciousness, the regard for life of all stripes, is often remarkable. Even if having the white male in an interracial relationship call his companion "Brown Girl" overdoes it just a bit, that Loudermilk addressed such a situation nearly 40 years ago is admirable. (It's more tactful, but considerably less rockin', than the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar".) Although the apparently authentic chanting in "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian" might be cringe-inducing to the modern listener, the sentiment is hard to argue with and the performance is effectively ominous. And to contemplate the ethical problem of shooting a bird in "The Little Grave", especially in the context of a country-pop album, is a risk few songwriters then and now would be willing to take.

That Loudermilk tempers some of his commentary with humor doesn't serve to weaken it. The first track here, a musical rip-off of "Hi-Heel Sneakers" called "Goin' to Hell on a Sled", makes use of funny voices, all of the opinion that, yes, that's where the world is going if war is rampant, weed isn't just what grows in the cracks on the sidewalk, and prayer isn't allowed in schools. "The Jones'", the ones so many of us strive to keep up with, are seen as ever-present to the point that they control all forms of media. Often the humor is used to demonstrate the resilience of the characters in Loudermilk's story-songs, which typically involve various down-on-their-luck folks who manage to see the silver lining in their predicament. The drifter in "Interstate 40", a "happy son of a gun", says, "The government's given me Interstate 40 / And the good lord's give me a thumb". Ma Baker, owner of a little acre of land which she adamantly refuses to sell to the Tennessee Valley Authority, winds up with a little island where "she can float / And catch big bass from her motorboat / And when the wind ain't a-blowin' too strong / She can water-ski". And of course the singer of "Bad News" - he who causes trouble everywhere he goes -- can at least say he's a hit with the little girls.

While the lyrical content of even the less interesting songs is above average, it's easy to miss because Loudermilk wasn't as innovative or clever in the musical department. A song like "No Playing in the Snow Today", which cautions against making contact with potentially radioactive snow, has a sickly-sweet melody, cloying background vocals, and syrupy swathes of strings, which detract from the lyrics by making the song sound utterly ordinary. At least "The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian" sports a bluesy guitar figure to counteract the obviousness of the tom-toms. In fact, it may come as something of a surprise to have to reconcile the very authentic blues feel of some of these recordings, especially "Tobacco Road" and the moan Loudermilk lets slip during the fadeout of "Interstate 40", with the photo of the bespectacled, totally Squares-ville man in the booklet. One thing's for certain: the man had impressive range, and a thorough command of rural idioms.

For the pop-music fan familiar with the hit versions of his songs, The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk is a fine place to get acquainted with the songwriter's own recorded efforts. In terms of availability, it'll probably be easier to find than Bear Family's earlier reissues, and at seventy consistently-high-quality minutes, it's a bargain. Entertaining listening for a ride on the 21st-Century sled, too.

Jun 21, 2018

(Spin Records SEL-933742, 1970)

Jeff St. John was born Jeffrey Leo Newton in 1946 with Spina Bifida which, by his mid twenties eventually resulted in the need for a wheelchair. Aged just 8, Jeff's first public performance was a kids' talent quest on Sydney's radio 2GB. Then at 15, his singing career took off with a role as a regular feature vocalist on Channel 9's teenage variety program "Opportunity Knocks", hosted by Desmond Tester. He appeared regularly on the show between 1961 and 1963. A couple of years afterwards, by this time almost constantly supported by crutches because of his worsening condition, Jeff joined forces with an established Sydney blues-rock band called The Syndicate who he met by chance at the Sydney Musicians Club in early 1965 this later was merged into the band Wild Oats.

Later, in 1965, he joined The Id (named after the popular Johnny Hart cartoon strip The Wizard of Id), it was then Jeff started using the new stage name Jeff St. John, which he has used ever since. This powerhouse band quickly became a leading attraction in Sydney with a long-term residency at the Here Disco in North Sydney, and also made their mark on the Melbourne scene, playing at the famous Thumpin' Tum with its powerful, brass-augmented repertoire and Jeff's rich and soulful vocals. Jeff St John & the Id's reputation as one of the country's top R&B bands also earned them a well-received support gig on the 1967 Yardbirds, Roy Orbison and Walker Brothers tour of Australia. In 1965, their debut single "Lindy Lou", was a pleasant R&B number which gave only a sight hint of the vocal prowess that Jeff would unleash on later releases. It was followed in 1966 by "The Jerk". Later that year they released "Black Girl". Jeff and the Id are probably most remembered for their scorching, brass-laden smash single, "Big Time Operator", which featured Aussie sax legend Bob Birtles. "Big Time Operator" reached number 7 in Sydney and a respectable number 12 in Melbourne in January 1967, and the recording sessions at Festival Records in Sydney were even photographed for a special feature in Australian music magazine Go-Set. Then, out of the blue, Jeff parted ways with The Id.

Jeff meanwhile put together Yama. The lineup again featured musicians from other successful bands of the time. Bass player Virgil East from from Python Lee Jackson, drummer Peter Figures from Throb, along with Ross East on guitar, who would continue to work with Jeff for some time thereafter. Yama folded prematurely around May 1968 after releasing one single, "Nothing Comes Easy". Yama folded in 1968 because his pressure area became unmanageable and he came back to Sydney Hospital to try and fix the problem. After a wasted three months of unsuccessful skin grafts and over - hearing the head of his medical team saying it would probably, "Turn cancerous and kill him". He checked out and flew to Perth to begin The Copperwine experience. He was still using crutches at the time. The initial problem was not overcome until 1970 when Jeff was convinced to see Mr. John Hanrahan. Jeff says "To him I owe my life" who had just brought, from America, the almost miraculous "Rotation Flap Technique" which revolutionised the treatment of major pressure areas.

Undeterred by this, after a lengthy recovery period, Jeff became focused, and returned to live performance. Eventually Jeff started using a wheelchair and transformed his liability into his own trademark, executing 'wheelies' and pirouettes across the stage as he sang! Jeff says "With crutches, your hands are always full. The wheelchair allowed me to move around onstage and be self-sufficient". In early 1969, Jeff unveiled his new band, Copperwine (aka Jeff St John's Copperwine), with low-key dates in Perth, before returning to Sydney. Copperwine soon created a following in that city's fast-developing 'head' scene. Around the time of the new band's formation, guitarist Ross East was also invited to join the revised Masters Apprentices line-up, but he turned it down, opting to stay with Jeff.

Aided by East and Peter Figures, plus Alan Ingham on bass and keyboardist Barry Kelly, Jeff St John wowed punters at the Ourimbah "Pilgrimage For Pop", Australia's first major outdoor rock festival, held at Ourimbah, NSW at the end of January 1970. The band's dynamic repertoire mixed quality prog-flavoured group originals with powerful renditions of Sly & the Family Stone's funk classic "Sing A Simple Song", a storming version of The Temptations' psych-soul masterpiece "Cloud Nine" and Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home". This body of songs was captured by producer Spencer Lee in superb that remains one of the most accomplished and musically adventurous LPs of the time. The album entitled "Joint Effort" won considerable critical acclaim, but failed to generate significant sales. The single "Cloud Nine" suffered a similar fate in February 1970. An EP, Sing A Simple Song, which featured 4 songs from the album, was released in May 1970. Joint Effort as an album was one of Festival Record's most consistent sellers for many years, it's a fine example of what was musically going on with Australian rock in this fertile time, and it documents what a fine band Copperwine was and provided conclusive proof that Jeff St. John is one of the best rock vocalists this country has ever produced.

Another single, released in November 1970, fared extremely well. The smoothly confident, organ-led cover of Rotary Connection's "Teach Me How To Fly" propelled the band to number 12 on the Melbourne charts and a very encouraging number 3 in Sydney. Jeff's dazzling vocal performance on this record is probably the main reason why. The band toured relentlessly during 1971 and appeared with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. They also released another single, the delicate "Hummingbird". By late 1971 friction had emerged between Jeff St. John and Copperwine. He left them early in 1972 to form his own band and pursue a solo career. Seeking what he saw as a more sympathetic vehicle for his singing and songwriting, Jeff formed a touring outfit, The Jeff St John Band, featuring favoured sticksman Peter Figures, and the keyboard talents of the late, great Tony Ansell. In October 1972, Jeff released his first solo single, "Yesterday's Music". Jeff and band toured extensively during 1972, supporting acts as diverse as Gary Glitter, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Along with the release of "The Best Of Jeff St John", Jeff was awarded the accolade of 'Most Outstanding Vocalist of the Year'. Following a very successful year, Jeff St. John packed up and moved to the United Kingdom, so he could find out how the big kids played over there.

His farewell concert was a gala event staged at the Sydney Opera House, with the Jeff St John Band with the help of friends including Vince Melouney, John A. Bird and Ace Follington. In May 1974, an album of the concert was released, "Jeff St John Live", while Jeff was playing a handful of low-key gigs in London. He returned to Australia in August 1974, to plan his next move. On Jeff's return to Australia, he formed a new backing band, Red Cloud, and his new single "Mr Jones" was released in May 1975. Unfortunately the single was a minor sales success. It was followed up with "Blood Brother" in October. Jeff and Red Cloud maintained a heavy touring schedule during 1975-76, and the singer continued as a popular live draw. Jeff was the first Australian artist to sign with US imprint Asylum (whose roster included The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt) and he made a return to the national Top 10 during early 1977 with his scorching version of the Frankie Miller-Andy Fraser song "Fool In Love". Jeff continued to record and perform live through the late 70s and into the early 80s, producing some quality rock performances, but in 1983, at the age of 37, he announced his retirement. He made a memorable farewell appearance on Donnie Sutherland's late night chat show, After Dark, which made it clear that he was having problems at the time. Following this, Jeff stepped away from the limelight.

In 1984, with the assistance of Dr. John Yeo (Director, Royal North Shore Spinal Unit), Jeff began lecturing to age groups from year 5 primary school to adult. He assisted with the creation of teaching aids, and production supervision of radio and T.V. advertising campaigns for the teaching program. In the late 1990s Jeff moved to Perth in Western Australia, and in 1999 an old friend, drummer Ace Follington coaxed Jeff up onstage at Clancy's Fish Pub, Fremantle. Jeff relished the chance to wield a mic again. He says "I'd been divorced from singing for so long, I'd lost sight of the fun involved". That one-off performance led to a regular solo spot at Clancy's, the creation of an all-star backing group, Jeffrey St John & The Embers, a brand new, album titled Will The Real Jeff St John Please Stand Up? was released in 2001. On the album, Jeff has delved into the music of the '30s and '40s, performing swing standards with a rock treatment. He snickers "... instead of having big brass section solos on "Misty" and "Fascinatin' Rhythm", we've got over-driven and distorted guitar solos”.

In 2000, he had the highest accolade of his career. when Promoter Michael Chugg, invited Jeff to perform the first two songs at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. Jeff says "Best Paralympics Ever - I love my country. It's allowed me to be crazy for more years than I can remember. To get up in front of 110,000 people live, with a TV audience of four billion, was a big honour". Most recently, Jeff St. John was made Patron for the Mosaic Family & Community Services Organisation. This recently formed organisation provides support for disabled people in many areas, including rehabilitation programs for disabled people unfairly penalised by the legal system. In 2016, Jeff released his auto-biography "Insider-Outsider: The Jeff St John Story". The book is available from Starman Books.

VARIOUS ARTISTS - Raw Blues (Ace Of Clubs Records SCLA-1220, 1967)

From this modest beginning Mike Vernon was eventually able to lure several 'name' Stateside blues men to 'The Supreme Record Company's' then head offices on London's Albert Embankment, for the purpose of inking a recording contract, and thereafter driving them to West Hampstead, Decca's studio complex. Simultaneously, his was the influence which convinced some of Britain's finest home-grown exponents of the genre to follow a similar course. This package, aptly titled Raw Blues, was assembled by Mike and issued on Decca's subsidiary 'Ace Of Clubs' label in January 1967 (ACL (Mono)/SCL (Stereo) 1220). An intriguing collection of artifacts, its wetter of big name participants may now be appreciated through the sophisticated medium of sound which is a compact disc. The technology may be smoother these days, but the blues remain as raw as ever...

A few details about the contents and its protagonists wouldn't go amiss: Bom Jackson, Mississippi, on 21 st March 1930, Otis Spann shared his parents affections with two brothers and two sisters. Product of a musically inclined family, his father Frank Euston Spann played piano and mother Josephine was formerly a guitarist with Memphis Minnie, a top vocalist who knew a good picker when she heard one, having married another Jackson six-string resident, Joe McCoy (Kansas Joe). Mot surprisingly, Otis took to music like a duck to water, adopting piano as his chosen Instrument Largely self-taught, in later life he always acknowledged the influence Big Maceo Merriweather had upon his style. Gaining confidence as a result of forming a small band with some other local juveniles, when he heard about a neighbourhood talent competition happening at the Alamo Theatre he entered and won, as a singer, performing Coot Davis' Four O'clock Blues. 

With the passing years he pursued medical studies at Jackson's Campbell College in the hope of becoming a doctor. When not buried in textbooks, he displayed a sporting prowess at boxing and football, briefly even turning professional at the latter. Between 1946 and '51 the U.S. Army called upon his time, but after discharge he relinquished all thoughts of any other occupation than music and moved to Chicago. The rest of the family had domiciled themselves there two years earlier, when mother died. Swiftly contacted by Muddy Waters, Otis joined the great guitarist/vocalist and stayed with his outfit for many years thereafter, although between 1952 and the time of this recording he'd also supplied studio accompaniment for such legends as Chuck Berry, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley and Lowell Fulson. 

Visiting Britain in May 1964 for a tour, our subject recorded an acclaimed Decca LP: The Blues Of Otis Spann (LK 4615). Included here are the four additional cuts from that London session of May 4th: Pretty Girls Everywhere (a), My Home In The Desert and the McKinley Morganfield (alias Muddy Waters) duo Country Boy and You're Gonna Need My Help. Personnel: Otis Spann (Vocal, Piano); 'Brother' (Guitar); Ransom K nowli ng (Bass); Little Willie Smith (Drums); add Eric Clapton (Gtr.) on (a) only. Further south in New Orleans, seaport metropolis of Louisiana, on Independence Day 1910, was bom William Thomas 'Champion Jack' Dupree. His father was French, while mother was a descendant of the Cherokee Indian tribe. Tragically, both were killed when the family home burnt down during his seventh year. After spending the next seven cooped up in an institution he ran away, but not before he'd mastered the basics of singing and playing piano. Thereafter he maintained his existence by thumping the untuned pianos of seedy dubs and houses of ill-repute, acquiring the technique known as' Barrelhouse' playing thanks to prominent exponent of the art Willie Hall, otherwise billed as Drive 'em Down. 

The Depression found our subject attempting to make ends meet by taking up boxing, whence 'Champion Jack', but by the mid-Thirties he'd joined forces with Cotton Club keyboarder Leroy Carr. Upon the tatter's early death Jack was offered the unfortunate vacancy, which he accepted. In 1940 the Okeh label added him to their roster; it was the first of a multitude of labels great and small to do so over the next thirty years, including King - where he notched a big hit on the Rhythm'n'Blues charts, Walkingthe Blues, in 1955-and Atlantic. As blues music gained European popularity through the Fifties, many big names were lured from America to tour and occasionally record as a bonus. Big Bill Broonzy was instrumental in persuading Dupree to take the plunge, and he liked it so much that by 1960 he'd married an English giri half his age and settled in Zurich, Switzerland. From here he was able to commute around Europe, finding appreciative audiences for his set which at that time still included some dance routines - early in his career he'd worked in vaudeville performing the tap variety.

By 1965 he was living in and working out of Denmark's capital, and the following February Mike Vernon signed him to a three album deal for Decca. The first of these, From New Orleans To Chicago (LK 4747), hit the shops in April, and included here are the two tracks from those sessions which were omitted through lack of space: Calcutta Blues (a) and the Eddie Boyd penned 24 Hours. Backed by an all-star British group, Now deservedly billed as 'The Father Of British Blues', John Mayall is rightly predominant on this collection. As one of the handful of pioneers responsible for popularizing the style in the U.K., his contribution cannot be overstated. The Bluesbreakers became a veritable 'nursery' for so many future stars in their formative years, and amongst the home grown contingent on display here are some of the finest. Of his two solo billings, the impassioned Burn Out Your Blind Eyes and Milkman Strut, this second title prevailed, according to Vernon's original album sleeve note, when the daily delivery to the studios saw the dairy employee wander in midway through a 'take', deposit his crate, and nonchalantly walk out slamming the door behind him...

Of John's pairing with organist Steve Anglo, it may now be revealed that for Anglo read Winwood. Owing to contractual obligations elsewhere he could not appear under his true identity when the album was published. Rhythm section duties on Long Night belonged to then Bluesbreakers' members John McVie (Bass) and drummer Aynsley Dunbar. The Mayall and Clapton liaisons here, John's Lonely Years and Eric's instrumental Bernard Jenkins, were cut at Mike's instigation and originally issued as a back-to-back limited edition 45 on his own Purdah label. Dating from the period between the players' joint collaborations under contract to firstly Andrew Oldhams Immediate company and then Decca, (Bluesbreakers era), both were committed through a single microphone in the middle of the capital's Wessex Studios in Soho, hence the unusual sound.

At the time of its taping, Peter Green had recently been recruited to the Mayall ranks as Eric's axe wielding replacement. On his own composition, Evil Woman Blues, he displayed a mature prowess at both playing and singing despite his relative lack of experience. In time, of course, he formed Fleetwood Mac, but that's another story... Legendary purveyors of the blues from both sides of the Atlantic are gathered together in this one historical little collocation. We all owe grateful thanks to Mike Vernon for making it possible. Why wait? Just play on.

XTC - Nonsuch (Virgin Records CDV2699, 1992)

Nonsuch (styled as NONSVCH.) is the 12th studio album by the English band XTC, released on 27 April 1992. It follows Oranges & Lemons (1989), and was written in 1990, although Virgin Records would not let the band record the album until a staff change in 1991 greenlit the project. The album was produced by veteran producer Gus Dudgeon, who XTC leader Andy Partridge believed was the wrong choice, yet recording sessions remained civil. Fairport Convention's Dave Mattacks was brought in to play drums, as the band lacked a drummer at the time. Nonsuch is a relatively less immediate and more restrained sounding album, carrying the band's psychedelic influences into new musical styles. 13 of the album's 17 tracks were written by Partridge, with the rest by bassist Colin Moulding. Unlike previous XTC albums, Partridge composed many of his songs using a keyboard. Due to the album's lyric content, which covers topics ranging from love and humanity to the Gulf War and P. T. Barnum, Nonsuch has been described as the band's darkest and most political album. The cover depicts an illustration of the former Nonsuch Palace, chosen after the band had settled on the title "nonesuch", which he felt summed up the album's variety of music. It was their third double album when issued on vinyl.

Lead single "The Disappointed", which was nominated for an Ivor Novello award, was released ahead of the album, which charted at number 28 in the UK Albums Chart and number 97 on the US Billboard 200, as well as number one on Rolling Stone's College album chart. The album received critical acclaim from music critics, though the band soon left Virgin Records in the UK following a dispute over the cancelled third single from Nonsuch, "Wrapped in Grey". The album was nominated for the 1993 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. In 2013, a remixed and expanded version of Nonsuch was released. Mixed by Steven Wilson, the edition included new stereo, surround sound and instrumental mixes of the original album along with various demos and outtakes. After the band's double album Oranges & Lemons (1989) was released to acclaim from music critics and modest commercial success, XTC took a short break. Band leader Andy Partridge produced Paradise Circus (1989), the second album by The Lilac Time, while also compering for an unbroadcast children's game show named Matchmakers, and Dave Gregory played for Johnny Hates Jazz, Marc Almond and Francesco Messina whilst also producing for Cud, while Colin Moulding performed a special event concert with David Marx and the Refugees, a Swindon-based band that reunited him with former XTC member Barry Andrews. The band soon reunited and began writing their next, tenth album, the soon-to-become Nonsuch, determined to record their new compositions in their native England, as recording Oranges & Lemons in Los Angeles had made the band absent from their families back in England.

Having written some 32 songs for Nonsuch by 1991, it nonetheless took some time for the album to take off the ground. Initially, the band had issue with the musical director of their label Virgin Records, who, after seeing 32 songs written for Nonsuch, was convinced the band "could do better" and asked them to write other songs. Band leader Andy Partridge reflected: "We were ready to record the album in 1990, but our English record company refused all our songs." In Partridge's recollection, the director threatened that Virgin would drop the band if the band don't write an album "of twelve Top Ten guaranteed singles," and noted that this attitude held the band up in recording Nonsuch, which they refused to rewrite, believing its songs to be among the greatest they had written. With the band sitting on the material, the director left the label a year later, and his replacement liked the band's content, hurrying the band to record the album. The band's initial choice of producers for the album were not available. The band wanted Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham, both of whom the band worked with before, to co-produce the album, but Lillywhite was unavailable due a holiday with his wife Kirsty MacColl and Padgham did not want to produce the album alone, while the band found that hiring John Paul Jones as producer would be too expensive, and a deal to work with Bill Bottrell, who had recently worked on Dangerous (1991) by Michael Jackson, fell through. With Partridge becoming so desperate to record Nonsuch that he "would have done it with the window cleaner," eccentric English producer Gus Dudgeon was the band's final choice, having been enticed by his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. He produced the album, recorded at Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire, between July and October 1991.

When Dudgeon arrived in the studio and Partridge saw his attire and expensive lifestyle and felt "he was wrong [for the job], but by that time it was difficult to go back." The band nicknamed him Guff Dungeon "because he was so flatulent." Partridge reflected: "Gus is old school, full of blusters and bluff [mimicking Dudgeon] 'Elton gave me this Rolls-Royce and I said, 'Oh Elton darling...'" Dudgeon had heard of the tense relationship between Partridge and producer Todd Rundgren during the Skylarking sessions, and "had come in armed with a heavy supply for vitriol;" Partridge, meanwhile, started to compare his relationship with Dudgeon to Rundgren, especially after Dudgeon suggested removing one of Partridge's favourite songs on the album, "Rook", though the recording sessions were civil and the two regularly exchanged banter. Dudgeon reportedly kept a tape of him and Partridge joking in the sessions and played it to party guests. Nonetheless, Partridge later commented that "ultimately he wasn't the right producer for us." At Gregory's suggestion, Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention played drums on the album. When discussing "what drummer, as a fantasy, the band would really like to work with," Mattacks was top of the band's list. The same week, a friend of the band saw him perform live with Fairport Convention and brought XTC back a tour programme, in which Mattacks stated Joni Mitchell and XTC were the artists he would most like to drum for. Partridge, speaking to Bob Harris in a radio interview, commented that he "just had to get on the phone to him straight away." Mattacks agreed to appear on the album because of the band's personality and the quality of the songs, and later reflected that although it was challenging fitting into the band, it was not difficult, elaborating that "the experience was enjoyable. Great songs." Meanwhile, Partridge felt that Dave Gregory improved at arranging musical structures during the sessions. During recording of the album, Moulding and Gregory "found themselves working at a car rental spot to sustain themselves between royalty checks."

The album was mixed at Rockfield Studios, South Wales in November and December 1991. The mixing was due to be done by Dudgeon who instructed Partridge not to attend, but Partridge insisted he would appear anyway. At the studios, Dudgeon refuted suggestions from Partridge concerning the mix and insisted he mix the album as he desired. This was at odds with engineer Barry Hammond, who had listened to Partridge's suggestions. Both Partridge and Virgin Records were vocal in their dissatisfaction with the first three mixes that Dudgeon had created, with one Virgin executive even comparing one such mix to "ice blasts"; as a result, Dudgeon was subsequently fired, with Nick Davis, who had just finished mixing We Can't Dance by Genesis, being hired to mix the final version of Nonsuch, which he did in a comparatively fast space of two and a half weeks. The album was mastered by Bob Ludwig at Masterdisk, New York. The detailed sound of Nonsuch retains parts of the psychedelic flourishes that defined the band's late 1980s work, except here "integrated into an elaborate, lush pop setting that falls somewhere between Skylarking and Oranges & Lemons," according to critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic. Compared to Oranges & Lemons, Partridge described Nonsuch as being less immediate and simpler sounding: "It's not as immediate, and that's the way we want it." Noting the album's eclecticism, music critic Greg Kot considered the album "a mix of Broadway pomp, McCartneyesque sing-song, lilting melodies, delightful odes to everyday pleasures and humbling introspection," while T.J. McGrath of Dirty Linen said Nonsuch "studiously explores jazz-fusion ("That Wave"), folk-rock ("Then She Appeared"), soundtrack muzak ("Bungalow"), cowboy punk ("Crocodile"), psychedelic-power swirl ("Humble Daisy"), and classical sad ballad ("Rook")." Guitar and keyboard textures on the album regularly shift, and strings, horns and piano are included in the album's instrumentation in a fashion that has been compared to the Beach Boys.

Thirteen of the songs are written by Partridge, with the remaining four written by Colin Moulding. In Isler's opinion, Partridge's songs are concerned with themes such as "love, politics and the human comedy," and noting songs which "[blur] these topical boundaries," while the NME noted lyrics about omnibuses, orchards and miscreants. Roger Friedman of Details noted lyrical content ranging from book burning, the Gulf War and P.T. Barnum and felt the album was a song cycle, while, citing themes of sad retirement in "Bungalow" and maddening alienation in "Rook", Martin Townsend of Vox called the album "precisely of its time," feeling it to reflect "the mental and physical landscape of the [then-current] recession," and felt it was arguably the band's darkest album. It has also been cited as the band's most political album. Unlike previous XTC albums, Partridge composed many of his songs on Nonsuch using the keyboard, an instrument Partridge referred to as "this grinning shark; stroke its teeth and any minute it'll swallow you up." He said he was so unfamiliar with the keyboard that he played it "by drumming on it, two fingers here, two fingers there."

"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" is "relatively rocking" compared to most of the album, and has been called a "shaggy-dog story." It was inspired by a pumpkin that Partridge carved for Halloween, which he decided not to dispose after the Halloween celebrations, and watched as it decomposed in his back garden. He immortalised it in the song, a ballad concerning a perfect, honest person with a pumpkin for a head and about "how perfect we all could be, and how scared people are of truth." Moulding's first song on the album, "My Bird Performs," is "a metaphor for feeling good about how life's going." He explained: "I hadn't got fond memories of my thirties and naivety got me through my twenties, but as I came closer to my forties it all started to come clear and this, I suppose, was the start of that awakening in me." It took a whole night to loop Mattacks' intricate drum shuffle into the four minute song. "Dear Madam Barnum" was written for, but unused by the Australian film The Crossing and is intended to sound like 1965, the year the film was set. Also intended to possess a "circus orchestra feel," Partridge and Mattacks took careful attention in writing the rhythmic feel for the song. The song has a traditional structure, but although Partridge wanted Mattacks to play "a real straight backbeat," he also asked he "put a little skip-and-drag in there that fell somewhere between dotted [time] and straight, because we both agreed that we liked the tension where you get dotted vs. straight, and straight vs. dotted." Mattacks used one of 50 special snare drums he owned for the song, while Gregory incorporates numerous subtle guitar arpeggios and a Hammond organ-based bridge.

Described by band biographer Neville Farmer as "a piece of near-Stratospheric psychedelia," "Humble Daisy" features multiple key changes and what Farmer perceives to be references to the Beach Boys and the Lovin' Spoonful in a musical structure Partridge described as "a piece of dream logic." Written by Moulding, "The Smartest Monkeys" was described by Johan Kugelberg of Spin as "the kind of social commentary that can only be born in a pub," and features jangley guitars. "The Disappointed" concerns itself with people who have been turned down romantically and come together to form an organisation "of the disappointed," while "Holly Up on Poppy" is about Partridge's daughter Holly, Poppy being the name of the rocking horse she had. In writing the song, Partridge hoped to avoid the saccharine nature he felt plagued songs with similar subjects. "Crocodile" features what appears to be crocodile noises, but are in fact a sample of a tuned down pig's grunt. Partridge suddenly wrote "Rook", one of his favourite songs on the album, after a period of writer's block: "I was really frightened. I mean, I couldn't even finish the demo because I was in tears. It felt like seeing yourself in a mirror and recognising your own mortality. Maybe it's something in the chord changes." Featuring piano playing, strings and horns, it has been compared to classical music. Though Partridge said he did not understand the lyrics, which he found "exciting," the lyrics concern death and the cycle of life. Vox called it a powerful picture of "alienation verging on madness", while Isler said that, "with impressionistic piano block chords and yearning, dreamy lyric, it is simply an art song."

"Omnibus", with an offbeat rhythm, is praiseful of women. Partridge wrote: "I love women in every way, shape and form. If that's sexist, then nail me up. I worship at the church of women. The world would be a better place if it were just women and me." Musically, the song was intended as a pastiche on West End musicals. "That Wave" combines Partridge's fear of water and the subject of love "into the sensation of drowning in a wave of love." Moulding described the song's music as a "psychedelic grenade." "Then She Appeared" originated when Partridge wrote it as a Dukes of Stratosphear-style track, intending to release as one of two songs on a seven-inch flexidisc covermount into a music magazine while using a secret pseudonym preporting to be an unknown 1960s band, sharing musical similarities with the other track, "Goodbye Humanosaurus", which the band rehearsed for Nonsuch but ultimately did not use. Moulding's "War Dance" originated in 1983 for the Mummer sessions in the aftermath of the Falklands War, but Moulding would change the track drastically for its version on Nonsuch, recorded after the Gulf War which gave the song a new poignancy. The song features a synthesized clarinet that Partridge later dismissed as sounding "like a singing penis." "Wrapped in Grey" is about tapping into one's emotions in order to realise life "isn't all grey," while "Ugly Underneath" concerns itself with politicians. Moulding wrote "Bungalow" and described its musical style as being "very seaside-y and cheesy organ, like something a cruddy trio in a holiday camp might play." It was inspired by his childhood holidays to Weymouth and is a tribute to British seaside holidays, featuring a Welsh male voice choir added by Gregory. Partridge considers the song to be the best song Moulding had written. An anti-censorship song, "Books are Burning" was inspired by the G–E7/A♭ chord change from the Beach Boys' "I Get Around" (1964) while the lyrics were based on Salmon Rushdie and the religious controversy surrounding his work. 

Nonsuch was released on 27 April 1992 by Virgin Records in the United Kingdom and by Geffen Records a day later in the United States. In addition to single CD and cassette releases, Nonsuch was released as a double vinyl in the UK but not in the US. It reached number 28 on the UK Albums Chart, becoming their second consecutive and final Top 40 album, although it only stayed on the chart for two weeks. Comparatively, the album spent eleven weeks on the US Billboard 200, where it peaked at number 97. The album also reached number one on the Rolling Stone College album chart, at the time a significant chart, and number 75 in the Australian ARIA Charts. The album produced two singles, the first of which was "The Disappointed", which reached number 33 on the UK Singles Chart, and became nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 1993. The second single "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" reached number 71 in the UK. "Wrapped in Grey" was intended as the third single in September 1992, but was withdrawn by Virgin immediately as they did not think it would be commercially successful. Ultimately 1,000 CD copies were pressed and it was the band's final single before leaving Virgin. Partridge reflected: "It was the great cot-death single – they pressed it and then changed their minds, such a shame." Promotional videos for all three songs were made, with the "Peter Pumpkinhead" video receiving much airplay on MTV that summer; the band also performed "Books Are Burning" live with Mattacks on The Late Show on BBC Two in April 1992.