“trev rolled up here at 12.15. he carried with him Greasy Truckers Party”
Ah, the magnificent Greasy Truckers Party album.
A live double album, recorded at a show in London just 6 months earlier, it was sold by United Artists records for the (then) bargain price of £1.50 ($3.00). In an early nod to “limited edition” marketing (something the record industry was to later turn into a very fine art), it was produced in limited quantities and sold out extremely quickly, subsequently becoming (as they say on eBay) a much sought-after collector’s item for years to come.
It introduced me to three bands I was previously unaware of:-
Brinsley Schwarz were a British pub rock band, named after their guitarist. They hold their place in music history for two reasons. One, that their number included the magnificent Nick Lowe, later to show his mettle as both a superb solo artist and producer. The second reason is somewhat ignominious.
The band were managed by the marvellously-enthusiastic Dave Robinson (later to be one half of the team that set up Stiff Records). Having gained the band a (surprise) support slot to Van Morrison at the Fillmore East, Robinson had the notion to fly all the major music critics to New York to review the show. Sadly, the whole plan went awry.
The band were initially refused U.S. travel visas, so they couldn’t arrive in America until the night before the show, meaning they were somewhat jet-lagged and unprepared to perform. To add insult to injury, the next day’s flight carrying the journalists was delayed several hours, resulting in many visits to the “airport bar”, a drinking trend that apparently continued with vigour on the plane. Most of the journalists turned up at the gig just as it was starting, either too drunk or hungover to appreciate what the (admittedly unrehearsed) Brinsleys were trying to achieve. The resulting reviews were…. almost all entirely scathing, some preferring to concentrate on the flight than the show!
It haunted the rest of what was left of the rest of their career. Unlike the other two bands on Greasy Trucker’s Party I never personally ‘took’ to Brinsley Schwarz, their country-rock sound always reminding me a little too much of The Band or Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Hawkwind, by contrast, stuck with me right through the seventies. Along with many others, I was impressed with their 1972 summer hit “Silver Machine” and the stuff I heard on Greasy Truckers merely continued that fascination. Most of side 4 was given over to the band’s lengthy “Master of the Universe” and “Born to Go”, both enjoyed even before I discovered the dubious added advantage of mind-alerting substances.
I think most people are aware of the Hawkwind story – Lemmy, band altercations, lawsuits, hippie rock, Barney Bubbles’ lightshow, Stacia, etc etc – so I won’t go into too much here, suffice to say that I reserve the right to blather some more about the band when my diary (as I know it will) mentions me seeing them live in concert.
Man stuck with me much longer than Hawkwind. I’m not normally a fan of “jam bands” (Grateful Dead for instance have always left me stone cold) but – probably because I was introduced to them so early in my musical ‘life’ – for some reason Man’s rhythms and grooves have always appealed. I saw them countless times in concert, again something I’ll report on with later diary entires.
I still listen to their stuff from time to time, mainly when I want a nostalgic “zone out” session, their 22-minute “Spunk Rock” opus (from Greasy Truckers, or any number of other Man live/studio recordings) a particular favourite.
Man continue to record and tour (not that I would want to buy their albums or see them play again) and have remained moderately successful despite countless band changes and being Welsh. They have a well-maintained website from whence I snagged the photo on the right. (A nod, therefore, to “Norman”)
I can’t help thinking that, if they could get the exposure nowadays, Man’s musicianship and freeform approach could go down well with current ‘youth’ as from what I can gather, there’s not a lot of difference between them and the likes of Kings of Leon, Phish, Disco Biscuits or String Cheese Incident.
Researching a couple of the facts here, I have noted that 2007 saw an extended 3-CD box set of “Greasy Truckers Party” released by EMI, featuring all the original cuts and announcements (some/all missing from the original CD issue) plus additional cuts such as Hawkwind’s ubiquitous “Silver Machine” and Man’s STUNNING “Many are Called, but Few Get Up” some recorded at the same show. I think I’ll just quietly add that to my Amazon wish list.. I can always use the Brinsley Schwarz disc as a tea coaster or something?