TEENAGE LICKS/ONTINUOUS PERFORMANCE
Stone The Crows (2CD Set)
Great to see these two albums getting a release after many years out of print.
STC career was all to brief (1969-73) but they left behind a great body of work in that short space of time. As the press release remarks, the early 70’s was an era when creativity was flourishing. And critically Record Companies (well some of them) were letting go the reins and encouraging bands to experiment. STC were certainly experimental, not many bands used a Stylophone and a vibrator on the guitar!
The band were fronted by Les Harvey guitar (Alex’s younger brother) and the incomparable Maggie Bell on vocals. And for me and I guess many others its Maggie’s vocal pyrotechnics that linger. I always thought of her as Britains own Janis Joplin as im sure many did. Essentially a blues/rock band I loved, and still do that ‘dirty’ guitar blend with Maggies abrasive vocal which blazes from the kick off on tracks like ‘Big Jim Salter’ ‘Faces’ Dylans ‘Don’t Think Twice’, just three of the highlights of the eleven (2 live) tracks on Teenage Licks originally released in 1971.
The band were then dealt a terrible blow in May 1972 with the tragic death of Les, electrocuted onstage at Swansea. He had already laid down most of the guitar parts for follow up album Ontinuous Performance. Jimmy McCulloch (a lovely guy I knew well at the time) came aboard and finished off the parts and the band elected to carry on. OP is overall a more laid back bluesey album than TL, ‘Penicillin Blues’ being an outstanding example. Maggie said at the time ‘the fire had gone out of us’ which is naturally completely understandable but its not discernable on OP and the whole album showcases what a great band STC were. Maggie has had a long and distinguished career since then working with the best, that’s her on Rod Stewarts ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ and long may it continue.
BEST OF DAYS Steve Ellis
A few weeks ago I reviewed Love Affairs 3CD anthology and now we have an album from frontman Steve Ellis. Possessed of a much admired voice ‘Best of Days’ had a long gestation, being due for release back in 2004. Released in 2008, and now being given a re-release in 2015. Fourteen tracks commencing with a beautifully reworked unplugged version of ‘Everlasting Love’ its a fine start to a very accomplished album showcasing Steve’s voice and talent for picking and writing great material. No surprise to find Paul Weller (mod champion) featured and Steve’s old friend Roger Daltrey weighing in on ‘Nu Clear Blues’ with a great harmonica part. Its (for me) songs like Steve’s ‘Little One’ and the title track ‘Best Of Days’ that stand out, the latter being genuinely uplifting. Elsewhere minor hit ‘El Doomo’ gets a reworking, again to great effect. Overall a class album that rewards and deserves multiple listens.
For more information go to http://angelair.co.uk
Til next time (featuring my all time favourite hard rock band of the 80’s!)……
Alan Esdaile…. Who remembers seeing Maggie Bell? Brilliant voice and performer .
Andy Qunta… Factory supported STC at a gig shortly before Les Harvey passed away. They were fantastic! Also their roadies were very nice and helpful to us, & gave us great advice about how to get better sound. Been a big fan ever since, & keyboard player, Ronnie Leahy, a big influence on me!
Geoff Peckham… I remember it well, Andy. We shared the ‘dressing room’ with them (Maidstone Art College, wasn’t it?) and Les Harvey was playing some nice guitar on a practice amp. Lovely guy, great guitarist, great loss.
Mick O’Dowd… Steve Ellis was highly underated as a singer.
Tony Davis… Saw Maggie Bell about a year ago on one of these 60s/70s packages. She still has an awesome voice. STC were a great band and I have managed to track all their albums down on CD (prior to this re-release). Nice to see El Doomo given a whirl by Steve Ellis as well. I thought that was a great track and so under-rated. I remember that we used to play it quite a lot on Merlins Music Box at the Astral Club and Crypt when it first came out.