Wednesday, May 18, 2011


In 1969, after finishing A Salty Dog, organist Matthew Fisher and bassist Dave Knights decided to exit the lineup of Procol Harum. The remaining members — Gary Brooker, Robin Trower, and B.J. Wilson, in the course of reshaping the band — added Chris Copping, who played both bass and keyboards had been part of the original lineup of the Paramounts, whence the rest of Procol Harum had come. The new version of the band was still working out their sound with neophyte producer Chris Thomas and in mid-January of 1970 decided to head to Abbey Road Studios for a series of informal demo sessions, devoted to straight-ahead rock & roll of the kind that they’d played as the Paramounts.

Not ornate, stately, or even faintly progressive by Procol Harum standards, Liquorice John Death's Ain't Nothin' to Get Excited About brings Whiskey Train – the most volcanic rock cut that PH did outside Simple Sister – into focus as an Elvis cop plated with Brit heaviness and played by guys who plainly didn't always want to be restricted to In Held 'Twas in I. John Death, then, was a garage-pure R&R band given a pass in Abbey Road to loosen up for Procol's 1970 album Home. Having been known as the Paramounts prior to Harum stuffiness, John Death allowed Gary Brooker to slum as a rich man's Little Richard. Drummer BJ Wilson, by the evidence, did boogies and shuffles better than most Texans. And Robin Trower played a Les Paul – which still makes him Trower, only slightly thicker sounding, like a proto-metal BB King. Eighteen months later, the guitarist split to make more money in America, as a solo act playing barbiturate-flavored stuff far more like this than like A Salty Dog. In any case, Kansas City and Matchbox show the band could do reverence and roots things louder than the Beatles and heavier than the Stones when they wanted to, if not as recklessly as the Who. Plus, Brand New Cadillac coined Clash-rock about eight years before there was a Joe Strummer. The album cover was painted by a mentally ill fellow: Dave Mundy, furloughed from the nut hatch on afternoons by his good friends in the band. He gave them the odd name because it was more "rock and roll" than the Paramounts, then subsequently killed himself, and the boys wrote a song in his memory: For Liquorice John, which they put on Grand Hotel. Now there's a sad but still quietly affirming story. © George Smith in NY's Village Voice, 1 July 2003

Tracklist :

01 High School Confidential
02 Kansas City
03 Lucille
04 Brand New Cadillac
05 Matchbox
06 Breathless
07 Everything I Do Is Wrong
08 Old Black Joe
09 Shopping for Clothes
10 Well, I
11 I'm Ready
12 The Girl Can't Help It
13 Keep a Knockin'


john said...

A must listen for any music lover. Interesting bit about the cover and re-naming of the band, Thanks for the info.Long live Procol Harum

the purpleone said...

thanks for the 'Liquorice" and the Procol Harem tunes very enjoyable.

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