The folk at Cherry Red records have put together a sumptuous collection of songs celebrating the brum rock scene of, you’ve guessed it, 1966 to 1974. The collection of 69 tracks span 3 CD’s housed in a clamshell box along with a 48 page booklet that includes a short essay on the Midlands music scene by David Wells along with photos and details of each track.
Licensing costs have clearly dictated the exclusion of some of the bigger players, but that doesn’t really detract from the appeal of this package. Even the more well known bands that are represented here are done so with more obscure tracks. Slade, for example, appear with ‘One Way Hotel’ taken from 1970’s Play It Loud which has Noddy in fine voice as the band are finding their unique sound. Even more interestingly is the inclusion of ‘Security’ which see the same band, then known as The ‘N Betweens, covering the Otis Redding song four years earlier which must have been one of their earliest recordings. Why this gem was used on Slade’s own box set is anyone’s guess.
Mick Ralphs (Mott The Hoople / Bad Company) turns up with Overend Watts with an early recording of ‘Rescue Me’ from The Doc Thomas Group. Recorded in 1967 with original Mott vocalist Stan Tippins the cover proves a wonderful insight into what the band was like before it evolved into Mott The Hoople. Roy Wood crops up several times throughout. He can be heard first on The Move’s second single ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’. Meanwhile Magnum fans will be delighted to get the chance to hear Bob Catley singing ‘On Time’ for his first recording in 1967 with The Capitol Systems; a 1960’s song very much of its time. This and the later featured Paradox song ‘Goodbye Mary’ being far removed from the band he would make his name with.
Steve Winwood sounds as good ever on Traffic‘s ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’ while his old group The Spencer Davis Group are featured with replacement Eddie Hardin singing on the 1968 single ‘Moonshine’. Before she went on to find even greater worldwide fame in Fleetwood Mac, Christine Perfect delivers a wonderfully bluesy ‘When The Train Comes Back’ taken from Chicken Shack‘s 40 Blue Fingers LP. Velvett Fogg, famous for having Tony Iommi as a brief alumni before forming Earth delve into psychedelic blues with ‘Yellow Cave Woman’. The Ace Kefford Stand sees a young Cozy Powell providing the beat to Sharon Tandy cover ‘Daughter Of The Sun’. Featuring some excellent guitar from Dave Ball, it’s a harder offering with a Spooky Tooth feel to the track.
Jardine’s ‘Masochists Of Strangulation’ is an interesting slice of dark psychedelic rock. Recorded in 1969 for an unreleased album one can only imagine where a band like this might have led if it had taken off at the time. Before Trapeze developed into the hard rock sound of Medusa and You Are The Music that saw the members being poached by Deep Purple, Whitesnake & Judas Priest their first album was more flower power influenced. By far the heaviest and most progressive track from this album, ‘Suicide’, featured here gives an indication of what was to come. Big Bertha‘s take on the Zombie’s ‘Time Of The Season’ is a decidedly heavier affair in a five minute previously unreleased version with Cozy Powell on drums and featuring another cracking solo from guitarist Dave Ball. Steve Gibbons, who turned 80 this year, still gigs throughout the Midlands. Here you can hear ‘Brown Girl’ taken from his 1971 album Short Stories with the supergroup line up of Albert Lee, Humble Pie’s Greg Ridley and Spooky Tooth’s Gary Wright.
The box set concludes with three of the heavier tracks courtesy of Bedlam, Judas Priest and Blackfoot Sue that give a hint of the style of music that would put Birmingham on the map for 1970s. Maybe we’ll see another set covering this period in the future.
The fact that many of those featured on this collection are still touring playing either arenas all over the world or the smaller confines of the West Midlands pub circuit is testament to the immense talent that this small spot on the planet has given birth to. The influence of this generation upon music is unfathomable.
For anyone strapped for ideas for the music lover for Christmas, this curated box set would make an ideal present. The appeal going far beyond those in the Midlands due to the global nature of many of the artists and also due to the fact that while you may be fans of certain bands it’s likely that you’ll find something you’ve not necessarily encountered before.
- Reviewed by Rich Ward.
- Once Upon A Time In The Midlands – The Bostin’ Sounds Of Brumrock 1966-1974 is released via Cherry Red Records and is available now.
1 I Must Be Mad – Craig
2 Security (Extended Version) – The ‘N Betweens
3 Rescue Me – Doc Thomas Group
4 Life’s Not Life – The Moody Blues
5 Let Me Get By – The Bobcats
6 Chicken George – Deep Feeling
7 On The Beach – The Extreem
8 Baby Get Your Head Screwed On – Double Feature
9 I Can Hear The Grass Grow – The Move
10 Say You Don’t Mind – Denny Laine
11 On Time – Capitol Systems*
12 Imposters Of Life’s Magazine – The Idle Race
13 No Face, No Name, No Number – Traffic
14 Moonshine – The Spencer Davis Group
15 Yellow Rainbow – The Rockin’ Berries
16 Don’t Leave Me In The Dark – Young Blood
17 An Apple A day – The U-No-Who
18 NSU – Ideal Milk
19 Trouble In The Air – Ace Kefford
20 When The Train Comes Back – Chicken Shack
21 I Know What Her Name Is (Demo Version) – Simon’s Secrets
22 Cherry Wood Green – Just William
23 Baby I Need You – Giorgio & Marco’s Men
24 Yellow Cave Woman – Velvett Fogg
25 Mr Armageddon (single version) – The Locomotive
26 I’ve Seen The Light – The Ugly’s
1 Daughter of The Sun – The Ace Kefford Stand
2 Roundabout– The Montanas
3 Like A tear – World Of Oz
4 Don’t Torture Your Mind – The Exception
5 Masochists Of Strangulation – Jardine
6 Boredom – Tea & Symphony
7 The Journey – Gordon Jackson
8 Big Bear Ffolly – Bakerloo
9 Candy – Cinnamon Quill
10 Like Uncle Charlie – The Climax Chicago Blues Band
11 Imaginations – Revolver
12 You’ve Got Your Troubles – The Californians
13 His Guiding Hand (Single Version) – Medicine Head
14 Goodbye Mary – Paradox
15 A Modern Day Fairytale – Galliard
16 It’s A Hard Tale – Cathedral*
17 Suicide – Trapeze
18 Dance In The Smoke – Kansas Hook*
19 Ballad Of Marmalade Emma And Teddy Grimes – Hard Meat
20 Donna – Bachdenkel
21 When You’re Dead – The Ghost
22 Time Of The Season – Big Bertha*
1 She Said Yes – Fable
2 Lamp Lighter Man – Sheridan & Price
3 One Way Hotel – Slade
4 We’re Gonna Change All This – Fred’s Box*
5 Reminising – Luv Machine
6 People – Salamander
7 Brown Girl – Steve Gibbons
8 Ill Wind – Dave Morgan
9 Shadow Bright – Ptolomy Psycon
10 Omnibus – Mail
11 Disheartened And Disillusioned – Possessed
12 Talking Progressive Blues – Jimmy Powell
13 Eve – Jim Capaldi
14 Dear Elaine – Roy Wood
15 Ball Park Incident – Wizzard
16 Roll Over Beethoven (album version) – The Electric Light Orchestra
17 Circus – Fairfield Ski
18 Just A Day – Ironbridge
19 The Beast(2021 Remix) – Bedlam
20 Rocka Rolla – Judas Priest
21 Bye Bye Birmingham – Blackfoot Sue