Friday, 6 January 2017

"Far Canal" by JODY GRIND (2016 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue - Mark Powell Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Sweating Blue Blood..."

Taking their name from Horace Silver's 1967 Jazz album on Blue Note called "The Jody Grind" - England's short-lived but mighty JODY GRIND managed only two Progressive Rock albums on the largely Folk Indie label Transatlantic Records. Their October 1969 debut "One Step On" received favourable press and elicited a devout fan following (especially in Europe) - while their second and last album "Far Canal" from September 1970 massively improved on its predecessor. But neither did any real business sales-wise (check out that dreadful Mechano lettering artwork). Still - that hasn’t stopped good labels like Akarma in Italy and Strange Days in Japan reissuing Jody Grind’s recorded legacy on CD – which brings us to these new and superlative 2016 Remasters out of the UK...

England’s Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) have been building up a huge rep with collectors for a few years now for both quality in Audio and Presentation – and these two CD Reissues for this long forgotten British Prog Rock Trio will only add to that growing list of Reissue accolades.

The first album "One Step On" is really good (also reissued November 2016 with Bonus Material) - a Hammond-Organ and Guitar-Driven Band let loose in the studio with Jethro Tull's arranger David Palmer helping out on Horns and Brass. But the second LP (with a rejiggered line-up) is a bit of an unsung masterpiece for me. 1970's "Far Canal" Progs - it Rocks - it Folks - it Jazzs - it even does Santana-type Latin Rock with a Drum Solo on one of its many fabulous instrumentals ("O Paradiso"). In fact on checking in the new Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide of 2018 - it's easy to hear why both of these albums have a stonking £175 price tag allocated to each.

There's a shed load of details to get through - so here are the peaky grinders...

UK released 26 November 2016 - "Far Canal" by JODY GRIND on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2568 (Barcode 5013929466845) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster with One Bonus Track and plays out as follows (49:13 minutes):

1. We've Had It
2. Bath Sister
3. Jump Bed Jed
4. O Paradiso
5. Plastic Shit [Side 2]
6. Vegetable Oblivion
7. Red Worms & Lice
8. Ballad For Bridget
Tracks 1 to 8 are their second and last studio album "Far Canal" - released September 1970 in the UK on Transatlantic Records TRA 221. Produced by HUGH MURPHY - the album was not issued in the USA and didn't chart in the UK. "We've Had It", "Jump Bed Jed", "Vegetable Oblivion" by Bernie Holland - "Bath Sister", "O Paradiso" and "Ballad For Bridget" by Tim Hinkley - "Plastic Shit" and "Red Worms & Lice" co-written by Tim Hinkley and Bernie Holland. "Paint It Black" is a Rolling Stones cover version.

BONUS TRACK:
Paint It Black (Mono Single Version)

JODY GRIND was:
TIM HINKLEY - Hammond Organ, Piano, Electric Piano, Vibraphone and Lead Vocals
BERNIE HOLLAND - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass and Vocals
PETE GAVIN - Drums and Percussion

The 16-page booklet has informative and well-researched liner notes from Esoteric’s own MARK POWELL – who also compiled, co-ordinated and remastered the original tapes. The Audio is fantastic – beefy without being too trebled for the sake of it – very clear and impressive work.

Formed in November 1968 by Keyboardist Tim Hinkley with Guitarist Ivan Zagni and Drummer Martin Harryman. Harryman left to work with Elkie Brooks in Dada (over on Atlantic Records) to be replaced with Drummer Barry Wilson. But after their first album - both Zagni and Wilson exited too to be replaced with Holland and Gavin for album number 2.

Their sound grew in sophistication for the second album – a record that's heavy on Instrumentals of different musical styles – each brilliant in their own way. "Far Canal" even includes an out-and-out lyric rocker in the live track "Plastic Shit" - an environmental protest tune sung in front of an audience earlier in 1970 - the only 'live' output ever officially available by the band. "O Paradiso" may as well be Santana meets Malo - an eight-minute instrumental track with a fantastic groove and a drum solo from Pete Gavin that would impress John Bonham. The opener "We've Had It" fits in with Nat Joseph's largely Folky roster on Transatlantic Records but soon turns into Prog Folk and in a good way. Off we go in another direction - after the utterly brilliant riffage of "Red Worms & Lice" where Jody Grind come on like they're the duelling guitars of Wishbone Ash finding their inner Humble Pie - you get the utterly disconcerting pleasantness of "Ballad For Bridget" – a Tim Hinkley piano-driven Jazz instrumental that's almost easy listening in its mellowness.

The bonus track has a history all of its own. Their debut album has a 4-part 20-minute long Suite on Side 1 called "One Step On" (title of the LP also) of which the five-minute rocking "Paint It Black" portion is Part 4. Someone turned it into a 7" single in both Germany and Portugal - giving it a Mono Single Mix. The German single from 1970 on Metronome M 25 201 had "Little Message" from the first LP as its B-side and came in a wicked picture sleeve (Tim Hinkley giving some Keith Emerson on his Hammond) but the booklet unfortunately doesn't picture it – while the Portuguese 45 on Zip Zip Records 30 011 had a Single mix of "Rock n' Roll Man" from the first album on its flipside – that mix now being one of two Bonus Tracks on the “One Step On” CD Reissue (Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2567 – Barcode 5013929466746).

Following the collapse of Paul Korda's Dada after only one LP - Hinkley joined Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer for the first Vinegar Joe LP – later starring in Mike Patto's offshoot band Boxer too. He subsequently played on stage with Chapman & Whitney's Streetwalkers (ex Family), Dr. Feelgood, Bad Company, Snafu, Thin Lizzy and has done session work on solo LPs for The Who's Roger Daltrey and Vinegar Joe's Elkie Brooks. Bernie Holland split his time between Prog Rock bands like Back Door and Fusion Artist Stomu Yamashta and UK Folkies like The Humblebums, Stealers Wheel, Harvey Andrews and Joan Armatrading. In-demand session Drummer Pete Gavin did stints with Poet And The One Man Band, Heads, Hands & Feet and Vinegar Joe and has played on solo LPs for Albert Lee, Don Everly, Isaac Guillory, Linda Lewis, Steve York and many more. Formidable musicians in a once formidable group....

British Prog Rock Trio JODY GRIND are a footnote in Rock's History now – but I can so understand why their two albums garnish such fever in collector’s circle – especially the brilliant "Far Canal". Well done to all involved for getting their legacy out there and in such good shape too...

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