Friday, 9 October 2015

"Sam Apple Pie" by SAM APPLE PIE (2012 Angel Air CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Some Say I'm A Beast..."

Recorded across 3-days in March 1969 – Walthamstow's SAM APPLE PIE saw their lone album released on the hip Decca Records label in October of 1969. But despite favourable press reviews and some public interest – it effectively disappeared without so much as a howdy-doody into obscurity. Both the Mono and Stereo variants of the original British vinyl album on Decca now stretch to £350 and £250 a pop (if you can find them). Yet on hearing this rather endearing Blues Rock artefact of the late 60ts on this superb little 2012 Angel Air CD Remaster – you can understand why collectors are digging its no nonsense no frills approach the most. Here are the details...

UK released October 2012 (December 2012 in the USA) – "Sam Apple Pie" by SAM APPLE PIE on Angel Air SJPCD 401 (Barcode 5055011704015) is a straightforward transfer of the album and plays out as follows (47:40 minutes):

1. Hawk
2. Winter Of My Love
3. Stranger
4. Swan Song
5. Tiger Man
6. Something Nation [Side 2]
7. Sometime Girl
8. Uncle Sam's Blues
9. Annabelle
10. Moonlight Man
Tracks 1 to 10 are the self-titled debut album of "Sam Apple Pie" – released October 1969 in the UK on Decca LK-R 5005 (Mono) and SKL-R 5005 (Stereo). The Stereo mix is used.

SAM APPLE PIE was:
SAM SAMPSON – Lead Vocals, Harp, Worcester Weasel Whistle
MICK 'TINKERBELL' SMITH – Lead Guitar
ANDY 'SNAKEHIPS' JOHNSON – Slide Guitar
DOG RENNY – Bass
DAVE CHARLES – Drums

Guests:
HARRY KLEIN – Baritone Sax on Tracks 2 and 4
REX MORRIS – Tenor Saxophone on Tracks 2 and 4
STEVE JOLLY – Guitar on Track 10
MALCOLM MORLEY – Electric Harpsichord on Track 3, Piano on Track 9
ANDY CLARK – Piano on Track 8

A UK 7" single was prepped for release 30 May 1969 which featured Mono Single Mixes of "Tiger Man (King Of The Jungle)" b/w "Sometime Girl" on Decca F 22932 – but unfortunately it isn't featured on this release. The 8-page booklet does feature liner notes by JOHN TUCKER that includes interviews with one of the original Producers PETER SHERTSER. Licensed from Red Lightning Records – it doesn’t say who remastered this or where it was done – but it sounds full on – the droning fretwork and bass as clear as day. And when the almost Sabbath-Dark guitars join with the horn players on the seven-minute "Swan Song" – this hybrid of Blues Rock meets Heavy Rock is amazing audiowise.

It's easy to see why the cover of the Joe Hill Lewis R&B swinger "Tiger Man" was chosen as a UK 7" single. Elvis Presley touched on it in his '68 Comeback Special – but Sam Apple Pie take it to another witty rocking level where it sounds like really great Juicy Lucy circa "Who Do You Love" – wild and untamed slide guitar with 'who ha' vocals (there's a demo of Decca F 22932 pictured on Page 5). "...Some say I'm a beast!" Sampson snarls as the boogiethon nears its frantic end – great stuff and definitely going on a 'Wicked Lost Singles' CD-R compilation of mine real soon.

Side 2 opens with the catchy "Something Nation" which has traces of Help Yourself and Wishbone Ash melody – clever guitar runs too. “Sometime Girl” is a Bluesy Guitar moan penned by Johnson and Sampson where the band sounds not unlike Stan Webb's Chicken Shack. Ten Years After meets Paul Butterfield is how I'd describe the wicked "Uncle Sam's Blues" as they have themselves some barroom Boogie - complete with a honky-tonk piano and heavy chromatic harmonica (now this would also have made a good single too). "Uncle Sam's Blues" is so sloppy and almost amateur – and yet so endearing – like much of the album. There's some hiss and tape rumble on the gentle ballad "Annabelle" where the drums attempt that Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" rumbling background vibe - a piano plinking away alongside the rumble as Sampson attempts to be vocally deep.

Side 2 ends on a chugging guitar workout – "Moonlight Man" sounding like seven-minutes of ZZ Top meets Savoy Brown turned up to 13 on a dial of 12. It’s got that dirty guitar cranked up in the mix – as Sampson gives it some backdoor man lyrics (ladies had better look out). And when that gritty harp comes wafting out of the speakers – it's liable to trample your frail Zimmer-framed Aunty Florence in its path. Then just as you think you know where the song is going – suddenly you get a Budgie clever pace break where Flute and Cymbals go all Jazz on your ass before of course it lurches back into those big guitars and mean-mouthed harp. It ends the album on a Rocking high...

Sam Apple Pie went on to make one more album called not surprisingly "East 17" on DJM Records in 1973 (after their London postal code in Walthamstow), which is equally rare – though less in demand for some reason.

It’s not all genius for sure – but parts of "Sam Apple Pie" absolutely smash it and you can 'so' hear why collectors are drawn to its simple balls-to-the-wall Blues Rock meets Heavy Rock soundscapes. It's even kinda cool (lord help us). Check it out...

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