A PLACE IN THE SUN -The Complete Jason Crest JASON CREST
I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. Back in the late 60’s i supported Jason Crest on several occasions all around Sussex & Kent. I remember a particularly good gig at Staplehurst Village Hall, which in hindsight was a very low level venue for such an accomplished band. Unfortunately this is part of the overall lack of support the band received. Formed In Tonbridge by drummer Terry Clark he recruited another Terry (Dobson) from a venue i also played at Tonbridge Teen & Twenty Club. Terry No 2 played guitar, they were joined by Ron Fowler on bass & Dave Tiffin on rhythm guitar. The band christened themselves The Spurlyweeves and set about gigging and making a name for themselves. They entered a band competition where they spotted another young gifted guitarist called Derek Smallcombe who shortly replaced Dave Tiffin. Terry Dobson swapped guitar for Hammond Organ duties and then in one more poaching act in came on drums Roger Siggery whilst leader Terry Clark switched to concentrating on lead vocals. By 1966 the five piece knew they needed to make changes to distinguish them from all the other ‘beat bands’ mainly playing covers. So embracing the new wave of budding psychedelia the band changed their name to The Good Thing Brigade (not a memorable name!) However local papers ran articles on this local ‘flower power’ pop band and got them some attention. By 1967 EMI offered them a deal but the band chose to go with rival Philips Records (a fateful decision). Now writing their own material and firmly embracing psychedelic rock they released their first single the glorious ‘Turquoise Tandem Cycle’ a full on psyche mini epic with a distinctive Hammond played through a wah-wah. This track kicks off this newly released 2CD set. Newly launched Radio 1 loved it and got behind it, but to be fair it wasn’t a ‘commercially sounding’ record. And this was really the start of the bands problems. Philips were used to promoting 3 minute ‘pop’ songs The Walker Brothers, Dusty etc. they kept looking to the band for ‘pop’ commercial songs whilst the band were cutting new ground with some of the best psychedelic records released in the 60’s. ‘Teagarden Lane’ a dreamy swirly acid dripped trip, ‘My House Is Burning’ the epic ‘Black Mass’ a tour-de-force all complete with backward loops & phases. ‘The Charge Of The Light Brigade’ a radio friendly opus sounding rather ‘Move’ Like. Indeed with several other bands of the time the guys covered The Moves ‘Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree’ and actually produced an almost better version than the original and i say that as a great Move fan. This was fine with Philips whose lack of imagination ran to, well lets release a cover of a successful song, that always works…..but it didn’t. although it did lead to the band straying from their original material and covering ‘Paint It Black’, Spirit’s ‘Fresh Garbage’ and even ‘California Dreaming’ which to be fair did show off the bands great harmonies. But the strangest moment came for me when they covered ‘Hold On’ the ‘b’ side of ‘Reflections Of Charles Brown’ by Ruperts People who i was closely linked to and made for an interesting backstage chat at one gig! Its Disc2 of this collection is where you will find the majority of these covers, along with those already mentioned you will also find Paul Simon, Beatles & Spooky Tooth being given a work over. It’s interesting and frustrating comparing the two CD’s inasmuch as i want to travel back in time and grab the A & R guy at Philips and tell him to nurture this fresh, innovative, excellent psyche band and support and encourage the original material and basically leave the ‘covers’ as maybe live gig material. Well obviously that can’t happen and anyway eventually Philips ever dwindling interest in the band saw them call it a day. By 1970 they had changed their name to High Broom (a suburb of Tunbridge Wells) and founder member Terry Clark had departed frustrated. High Broom had a turntable hit with ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ but within a year they also imploded. In 1971 Clark, Siggery & Smallcombe settled their differences and formed a new band which would eventually become prog rock outfit Holy Mackerel. As i said at the start of this review i worked with Jason Crest several times and they have a special place in my heart as a lover of psyche rock they represented one of the best UK acts in that field and comparable to anything in similar vein emanating from the West Coast. For anyone who has a similar interest in this genre i warmly recommend this package to you to savour. Of interest to local readers is the booklet accompanying this release where you can find references to our beloved Hastings Pier, The Cobweb and a montage of gig posters featuring local venues like Battle Memorial Hall. I thank as ever David Wells & Grapefruit Records for this excellent complete collection and for bringing back some very warm memories for yours truly. enjoy.
Graham Matthews… Fantastic band, they played Staplecross Village Hall many times and at 12 years old I got to know them fairly well. In front of the stage there was a triangular section down from the apex of the roof which Nobby Clarke (the singer and main writer of their own songs) told me acted as a sound baffle and what you heard on stage while playing was not what the paying public heard. He went to the far end of the hall when setting up and got the sound balance right and I have seen so many bands play that venue including a lot that went on to great success, Nobby was the only one I saw do this and they always sounded great. IN THE 80’s several of us would book bands to raise money for the village as we still lived there and one guy booked a band called Cats Eyes, I arrived as they were setting up and walked in to see a guy with his back to me just inside the door singing and getting the band balanced. I said You have to be Nobby ! and sure enough it was 20 yrs later, remembering the hall from the 60’s.
Colin Bell… That’s brought back a few memories Graham, it’s highly likely we would have met, as i said in my review i supported them with a disco several times & did Staplecross Village Hall as a disco gig several times, cheers! Colin