Saturday, 25 June 2016

"Good 'N' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story" by EGGS OVER EASY [feat Link Wray] (2016 Yep Rock 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Gonna Have A Little Party..." 

No less than the influential Mojo Magazine has declared that 'British Pub Rock' is probably the fault of three long-haired American Country-Rock lads - Marin County's EGGS OVER EASY. And Yep Records of the USA are determined to get you to acknowledge this fact (and maybe buy their product too) – producing this beautifully handled but musically patchy 2CD reissue for these forgotten and largely unacknowledged trend makers.

You're getting their entire recorded output - two studio albums from 1972 and 1981 and a 1976 7" single (all released in the USA) and a new Disc of unreleased 1971 recordings made in the UK. But in order to get a fuller lay of the musical landscape – we need to get some serious detail out of the way first...

Oakland’s JACK O'HARA (Guitar, Bass and Lead Vocals)
Philadelphia's AUSTIN de LONE (Keyboards, Guitars and Lead Vocals)
Greenwich Village’s BRIEN HOPKINS (Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Lead Vocals)

These unlikely heroes came to Blighty in November 1970 at the behest of Hendrix's Producer and Manager Chas Chandler - and through incessant gigs, support slots and some recording sessions at Olympic Studios (a haunt beloved of both Hendrix and The Stones) - influenced a huge array of notable types including Elvis Costello and especially Nick Lowe's Brinsley Schwarz (who of course influenced loads more later on). Those unreleased sessions that were to form their 1971 debut album are now released on Disc 2 in tact for the first time.

Broke and without a label due to contractual crap and management decisions and still ensconced in the capitol city - they began gigging in London's 'Tally Ho' Jazz Club to buy - well Egg and Chips. And slowly from an audience of 8 to packing in hundreds - their rep began to grow. Soon they were meeting and playing for back-to-basic soon-to-be outfits like Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe and Bees Make Honey and hanging out with influential people like the beloved and sympathetic British DJ John Peel. Which brings us to this reissue...

UK released Friday 24 June 2016 - "Good 'N' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story" by EGGS OVER EASY on Yep Roc/Universal YEP-2402/B0022373-02 (Barcode 634457240223) is a 2CD Set of Remasters offering two albums, one 45 and a Previously Unreleased set of 1971 recordings on Disc 2. It plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (79:39 minutes):
1. Party Party
2. Arkansas
3. Henry Morgan
4. The Factory
5. Face Down In The Meadow
6. Home To You
7. Song is Born Of Riff And Tongue
8. Don't Let Nobody
9. Runnin' Down To Memphis
10. Pistol On A Shelf
11. Night Flight
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut album "Good 'N' Cheap" - released September 1972 in the USA on A&M Records SP 4366 (no UK LP release until July 1986 on a reissue label - Edsel ED 199). Produced by LINK WRAY.

12. I'm Gonna Put A Bar In The Back Of My Car (& Drive Myself To Drink)
13. Horny Old Lady
Tracks 12 and 13 are a USA-Only 7" single released 1976 on Buffalo Records BR-0001

14. Fire
15. Scene Of The Crime
16. Forget About It
17. Louise
18. Lizard Love
19. You Lied
20. Driftin'
21. She Loves Me
22. Action
23. Mover's Lament
24. Noonie Nookie No
Tracks 14 to 24 are their second and last studio album "Fear Of Frying" - released 1981 in the USA on Squish Records NSFA-001

Disc 2 - London '71 (40:29 minutes)
1. Goin' to Canada
2. I Can Call You
3. Right On Roger
4. Country Waltz
5. Give Me What's Mine
6. Across From Me
7. Waiting For My Ship
8. January
9. Give And Take
10. Funky But Clean
11. I'm Still The Same
12. 111 Avenue C

The 24-page booklet features in-depth liner notes by GENE SCULATTI and contributions from surviving band members O’Hara and De Lone (Brien Hopkins passed in 2007) alongside A&M publicity photos, live shots, trade reviews and the usual reissue credits. The Audio is top class. PAUL STUBBLEBINE and FRED KERVORKIAN (of Kervorkian Mastering) did the Digital Transfers and Mastering and after years of dubious reissues - this is surely the best the Audio is ever going to be. Disc 2 admittedly has some hiss on some of the quieter passages - but never anything too much that would detract. The six-flap card-digipak has see-through trays with more photos while the flap has an array of press clippings. It's very tastefully done and feels substantial.

For their fondly remembered debut produced by Mister Guitar Rumble himself LINK WRAY (he plays ‘Kitchen Knife Lap Guitar’ too) - musically think The Band meets The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Because Eggs Over Easy featured three distinctive voices - the songs alternate lead singers - so you get a light tone one moment - and a deeper the next. Despite the booklet's claim to undiscovered genius like Soul troubadour Rodriguez or Garage Band The Sonics (see my reviews) - the music is a very mixed bag. It works and doesn't work. When they're good - there's magic there - but when they're ordinary - you can hear why the public ignored it. "Song Of Riff And Tongue" is ruined by weedy vocals whereas the 'man shot in the head' horror of "Face Down In The Meadow" is given incredible power by its simple strumming melody and Hopkins' expressive voice. And as he sings "...just a few friends knew his name..." you can 'so' hear where Brinsley Schwarz and Help Yourself got some of their sound from (or were seriously influenced by this). "Home To You" is lovely and "Henry Morgan" could be straight off The Band's "Music From Big Pink" - his voice even sounding like Levon Helm in places. The kick-your-detractors-in-the-nuts song "Don't Let Nobody" is mild Funk Rock - the 'airplane' "Runnin' Down To Memphis" is pleasant enough too. "Pistol On The Shelf" has a sweet melody feeling like a really good Gene Clark number. It ends on the rocking "Night Flight" which has Punk in its veins - shades of Ducks Deluxe and even the New York Dolls years before the event.

You can hear the Nick Lowe wit in a song title like "I'm Gonna Put A Bar In The Back Of My Car (& Drive Myself To Drink)" - a lone American 45 in 1976 on Buffalo Records - a good time piano-rolling romp. But its 'come to my bedside' "Horny Old Lady" B-side thinks its hilarious and hip when its probably best forgotten. 

The 1981 second-album "Fear Of Frying" suffers from two influences within the band. It doesn't know what it wants to be - 'New Wave' one moment or 'Country Rock' the next. 
It opens with "Fire" - an updated more Funky version of the debut LP sound. Again it's good and awful - a victim of the time and naff productions. "Forget About It" sounds like it’s trying too hard to be angry and radical and all New Wave - but the Country Rock of "Louise" works - great vocals and a very pretty melody. We're back to sub Motels territory with "Lizard Love" while the Saxophone Bluesy-Rock of "You Lied" feels like the kind of song Gary US Bonds would sing when it was given to him by fan and friend - Bruce Springsteen. "She Loves Me" is good too but very 1981 "Action" just ends up sounding hammy.

Versions of the ‘Previously Unreleased’ tracks on Disc 2 turned up as Bonus cut on the February 2006 Hux Records CD Remaster of the debut album. Here we get the full session – even more paired back than the released LP. Excellent melodies like "Goin' To Canada", the lonesome and plaintive weariness of "January" and The Band sounding "Across From Me" rescue the bad taste that second LP left in the mouth. They rock out on "Funky But Clean" - a wickedly hooky little mother with some fuzzed-up guitar and 'I'm Funky' vocals. It ends on the Jazzy piano of "111 Avenue C" - a tune about a 'sweet thing' that lives on...

Despite the booklet’s hyped claims of genius - the audio evidence presented here hardly suggests that. But for Country-Rock and early Pub Rock aficionados there's also a 'whole lot to love' - especially that overlooked debut album "Good 'N' Cheap" and Disc 2's genuinely great discoveries.

Fans will absolutely have to own it and well done to all at Yep Roc for doing the band's legacy such a solid...

No comments:

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc