Friday, 27 January 2017

"Get A Whiff A This" by JUICY LUCY (2013 Esoteric Recordings Reissue - Paschal Byrne CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"…They Say Some Day...I Might Be A Star…" 

Back in August 2010 - England's Esoteric Recordings (part of the Cherry Red umbrella of labels) reissued the blistering September 1969 self-titled debut album of JUICY LUCY (only the second LP on the then blossoming Vertigo Records) – alongside their equally good second platter from October 1970 called "Lie Back And Enjoy It" (also on Vertigo) – both with cool bonus tracks and newly Remastered audio.

But it's taken three more years for fans to see their much-less favoured third album on Bronze Records (distributed by Island hence the ILPS catalogue number) to emerge on a Remastered CD (alas minus bonus tracks) – the pongtastic cartoon-covered "Get A Whiff A This" from June 1971. Here are the Odorono details...

UK released 23 April 2013 – "Get A Whiff A This" by JUICY LUCY on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2389 (Barcode 5013929438941) is a straightforward CD Remaster of their 9-track 3rd album from June 1971 and plays out as follows (35:18 minutes):

1. Mr. Skin
2. Midnight Sun
3. Midnight Rider
4. Harvest
5. Mr. A. Jones
6. Sunday Morning [Side 2]
7. Big Lil
8. Jessica
9. Future Days
Tracks 1 to 9 are their third studio album "Get A Whiff A This" - released June 1971 in the UK on Bronze Records ILPS 9157 and September 1971 in the USA on Atco Records SD 33-367. Produced by NIGEL THOMAS and JUICY LUCY – it didn't chart in either country.

JUICY LUCY was:
PAUL WILLIAMS - Lead Vocals [ex Zoot Money’s Big Band]
CHRIS MERCER – Saxophone, Piano and Organ [ex John Mayall's Bluesbreakers]
MICKY MOODY – Lead Guitars [ex Tramline, Mike Cotton Sound - later with Snafu, Whitesnake and duet work with Paul Williams]
GLENN (ROSS) CAMPBELL – Steel Guitar [ex The Misunderstood]
JIM LEVERTON – Bass
ROD COOMBES - Drums

The 8-page booklet features new liner notes from noted writer and music-buff MALCOLM DOME (reissue coordinated by Mark Powell) with the text done in the same style handwriting as the original 1973 LP sleeve (a nice touch). Original band member Paul Williams gives insights into the chaos and pressure that surrounded them at the time. There are two trade adverts for the album and reproductions of the Campbell cartoons that made up the single-sleeved original LP. The CD label apes the Juicy Lucy band logo as per the original artwork and beneath the see-through CD tray is an inlay with (not surprisingly) adverts for the two previous CD reissues on Esoteric. But the best news is the spiffing audio...

Boasting a new 24-bit remaster done in 2013 by BEN WISEMAN at Audio Archiving in London - it's also available digitally at www.losttunes.com. Like Esoteric's 2010 CD reissues of "Juicy Lucy" and "Lie Back And Enjoy It" - the audio quality is incredibly clean and crisp, full of power and a massive improvement over what I had before - a really great job done. With its artwork and see-through tray - it's a nice-looking reissue too. To the music...

"Get A Whiff A This" is the kind of difficult third album that's long forgotten - and unfortunately it's very easy to hear why. To start with it's stylistically all over the place. Steve Ellis had just left the line up to join Boxer - replaced by Jim Leverton on Bass from Noel Redding's Fat Mattress. Lead singer Paul Williams was on his 2nd Juicy Lucy LP ("Lie Back And Enjoy It" was his first) – and the presence of ace-axeman Glenn Ross Campbell who did the stunning "Who Do You Love" took a Pedal Steel backseat to the Lead Guitar of Micky Moody – later of course with Snafu, Nazareth and Whitesnake.

Heavily influenced by American bands like The Allman Brothers and Spirit – Juicy Lucy seemed to lose songwriting focus and produced a 9-track mishmash of ok cover versions alongside six all-genre originals. It isn't Blues Rock – it isn't quite Country Rock either – although "Big Lil" has fab Bluesy axework in it and the band's own "Jessica" actually sounds like The Allman Brothers who of course had a song of the same name on their "Brothers And Sisters" LP (the theme music to "Top Gear" for years). Unfortunately Juicy Lucy's "Jessica" isn't a cool instrumental but a sliding Dobro/Electric guitar that thinks its Elvin Bishop. Speaking of iconic American bands - "Midnight Rider" is a cover of The Allman Brothers classic that's good but hardly deviates from the original's sound so what's the point. "Mr. Skin" appeared on Spirit's brilliant "Twelve Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus" album in November 1970 on Epic Records and again I can see what drew the British band to it – a funky cool tune with great lyrics. Juicy Lucy's version is spirited (if you'll forgive the pun) but it feels more like an interesting B-side rather than a track that leads off Side 1 on your new album.

At last things start cooking with Paul Williams' hard-hitting "Midnight Sun" - a heartfelt rocker about Vietnam and the appalling waste of life taking place there on both sides of the political divide (how to kill a man a thousand miles away). They then take Bobby Darin's obscure "Harvest" and Funky-Rock its ass producing a very cool groove. The superb acoustic ballad "Mr. A. Jones" feels like Paul Williams has been channeling Rod Stewart's "Gasoline Alley" and "Later That Same Year" by Matthews Southern Comfort from 1970 and winning (lovely audio too). But Side 2's "Sunday Morning" and "Future Days" are countrified ballads that sound like a mellow Frankie Miller chilling in the studio before he gets back to his real job of being a proper Rock 'n' Roll singer. Unlike their signature sound of old – both songs feel like a band at odds with their public identity. You long for these tunes to ignite but like too much of the album - they steadfastly refuse to do so. Williams admits in Malcolm Dome's excellent liner notes that in hindsight the LP needed much more work – but they were under pressure to deliver between tours.

Re-listening to "Get A Whiff A This" now in 2017 (46 years after the event) – it's hardly surprising that despite its tactile stippled-effect cover and its schoolboy title (a joke Glenn Ross Campbell came up with it) – the 1971 album made no commercial impact at the time (or subsequently) and that’s because it just didn’t have memorable enough tunes to bother anyone (let alone a hooky single).

After the resounding commercial failure of LP No. 3 - the line-up would fracture yet again (four exited) with only Paul Williams and Micky Moody left to record 1972’s "Pieces" on Polydor Records – their fourth and last studio album. But – and I stress this - there are some Seventies bands I go dolally over and JUICY LUCY is one of them. And although some of the tracks on here don't quite live up to the image and promise of the elaborate sleeve - there's still magic in them dar slides – and the Audio is toppermost.

So despite the album's shortcomings - I'll return to this underrated band and record more often than not. I won't be getting sniffy about this one...

PS: I've also reviewed the 2010 Esoteric Recordings CD Remasters of their debut "Juicy Lucy" from 1969 and the follow-up from 1970 "Lie Back And Enjoy It" – both 'Expanded Editions' with new annotation (see separate reviews)...

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