Tuesday, 19 July 2016

"The Complete Tucky Buzzard" by TUCKY BUZZARD (2016 Edsel 5CD Mini Box Set Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Coming On Again..."

Arising out of the ashes of Decca's late 60ts Psychedelia band THE END - the delightfully-named TUCKY BUZZARD took their feathery moniker from a character in from one of the Uncle Remus books where one of the Br'er Rabbit runners was called 'Br'er Tucky Buzzard'. They managed a whopping five albums across three countries and with three different labels (without too many people noticing either) - Hispavox in Spain for the debut released in late 1971 as well as Capitol in the USA and Deep Purple's 'Purple Records' in the UK for the remaining four released between 1971 and 1973.

As well as that these funky British Rockers received the high profile patronage and hands-on help of Rolling Stone Bassist BILL WYMAN who produced three of their albums (see 2, 3 and 5 below) - one of which also featured the guitar chops of Rolling Stone ace axeman MICK TAYLOR and well as their top session players Bobby Keys and Jim Price on the Horns (Disc 2).

To the matter in hand... 

I've been digging Edsel Box Sets for years (some actually let the side down slightly - the T.Rex one jumps to mind) - but like the fabulous Average White Band, Chairmen Of The Board and their recent effort for cult 60ts act The End (see separate reviews) - this one is a goodie if you dig your Rock hard and heavy and occasionally funky. Superbly put together and clearly with Bill Wyman's involvement (a man known to take care of the Stones musical legacy) - this 5CD Box Set offers the very best presentation of Tucky Buzzard's short but productive career and allows Seventies Rock lovers access to much that is impossibly hard to find on original vinyl. There's a wad of info to get through - so if you'll forgive the inflight pun - onwards and upwards...

UK released 15 July 2016 (22 July 2016 in the USA) - "The Complete Tucky Buzzard" by TUCKY BUZZARD on Edsel EDSB 4033 (Barcode 740155403331) is a 5CD Mini Box Set containing their 'complete' recorded output between 1970 and 1973 and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "Coming On Again" (31:04 minutes):
(a) Coming On Again [Part 1]
(b) For Maryse
(c) Over The Hill
(d) Coming on Again [Part 2]
(e) Believe Me
(f) Here I Am
2. You're All Alone [Side 2]
3. You Never Will
4. Free Ticket
5. Lady Fair
Tracks 1 to 5 are the debut LP "Coming On Again" - recorded 1970 and 1971 in Madrid, Spain and released 1971 on Hispavox HHS 11-208. Orchestral accompaniment is by the Madrid Philharmonic Orchestra directed by WALDO DE LOS RIOS. Unreleased in the UK or USA at the time– it received its first CD reissue in 2002 on Ripple Records (this version is licensed from them).

Disc 2 "Tucky Buzzard" (39:39 minutes):
1. Time Will Be Your Doctor
2. Stainless Steel Lady
3. Sally Shotgun
4. Gu Gu Gu
5. My Friend
6. Pieces Apple Lady [Side 2]
7. She's Meat
8. Ace The Face
9. Whisky Eyes
10. Rolling Cloud
Tracks 1 to 10 are the second studio album "Tucky Buzzard" - released June 1971 in the USA (only) on Capitol ST-787. Produced by BILL WYMAN at London's Olympia Studios and featuring Rolling Stones players MICK TAYLOR (Guitar on "My Friend") as well as BOBBY KEYS and JIM PRICE (Horns on "Whisky Eyes" and "Rolling Cloud") - it was not released in the UK at the time and saw its first CD release in 2002 on Ripple Records (the master is licensed from them).

Disc 3 "Warm Slash" (40:31 minutes):
1. Mistreating Woman
2. (She's A) Striker
3. Fill You In
4. Need Your Love
5. Which Way, When For Why
6. Burnin' [Side 2]
7. Heartbreaker
8. Sky Balloon
9. Ain't Too Soon
Tracks 1 to 9 are the third studio album "Warm Slash" - released November 1971 in the USA on Capitol ST-864 and February 1972 in the UK on Capitol E-ST-864. Produced by BILL WYMAN - it was their first of three British released albums.

Disc 4 "Allright On The Night" (33:01 minutes):
1. Can't Live Without It
2. Fast Bluesy Woman
3. Gold Medallions
4. All I Want Is Your Love
5. Rainbow Rider [Side 2]
6. "Rudi" Movie Star
7. Pictures
8. Last War
Tracks 1 to 8 are the fourth studio album "Allright In The Night" - released May 1973 in the UK on Purple Records TPSA 7510 and October 1973 in the USA on Passport Records PPS 97001. Produced by PHIL CORDELL (of The Prophets) and TUCKY BUZZARD (Executive Producer Bill Wyman) - recorded on The Rolling Stones mobile unit.

Disc 5 "Buzzard" (41:23 minutes):
1. Who Do You Love
2. Run In The Mornin'
3. Hanging On In There (Waiting For You To Come)
4. Superboy Rock n' Roller '73
5. B-Bo's Hampton
6. Wine And Wimmin [Side 2]
7. Superfine Lady
8. Near To Me
9. Shy Boy
Tracks 1 to 9 are their fifth and final studio album "Buzzard" - released November 1973 in the UK on Purple Records TPSA 7503 and January 1974 in the USA on Passport Records PPS 98001. Produced by BILL WYMAN - recorded on The Rolling Stones Mobile Unit at The Villa in the South of France. Tony Ashton of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke plays Hammond Organ and Piano, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones plays Piano and Paul Kendrick of Czar and Tuesday’s Children is on Rhythm Guitar and Backing Vocals.

The massively in-depth 32-page booklet inside the glossy 5" clamshell mini box set is an impressive affair- new liner notes by noted music writer ALAN ROBINSON featuring new interviews with Guitarist Terry Taylor and Drummer Dave Brown - there's artwork for all five LPs with each CD placed inside a singular 5" card sleeve. The project was overseen by the vastly experienced VAL JENNINGS and PHIL KINRADE did the Remasters at Alchemy Mastering using licensed tapes. I found the sound varied across the albums - good to great. Mostly I'm just impressed with the musicianship and the Funkiness of the Rock - my kind of poison for sure...

Coming at you like England's answer to Steppenwolf meets Three Dog Night - probably because of the Deep Purple Records label tie-in Tucky Buzzard were perceived as 'hard rockers' - but in fact they were far funkier than that. There was a swing and chug to their guitars that made them FUNK like say American Gypsy or After The Fire. At other times they were soulful like Free and Humble Pie could be - while still churning out those riffs and funky grooves. Never is this more obvious than on the "Tucky Buzzard" album from late 1971 with 9 of the 10 tracks being self-penned originals. Both "There Will Be A Doctor" and "Stainless Steel Lady" give it some ants-in-your-pants Funk-Rock with the best of them. But there's horrible hiss levels on "Sally Shotgun" that put a damper on this rather lovely ballad - sweet Peter Green guitar licks from Terry Taylor with Jimmy Henderson's vocals sounding like Pink Floyd circa "Meddle". 

Things improve hugely with the fabulous "Gu Gu Gu" - a Funky-As-Coffee-Beans groover that I used to put on 70ts CD-Rs whenever I got the chance. Think Spirit's "Mr. Skin" and you're there - a chunky Nick Graham keyboard groove acts as the backdrop to Taylor's guitar and the 'make a mark in the sky' lyrics about existence and not working. I love this track and it sounds wickedly good here. Other winners on the "Tucky Buzzard" album include their cover of Leon Russell’s "Pisces Apple Lady" where the boys are encouraged by their American friend to get themselves together in the English countryside (they sound so Three Dog Night on this). "She's Meat" and "Ace The Face" feel like groovy Immediate label Small Faces while the two finishers lay down heavy Paul Francis drum beats before going all Brass Funk Rock with Jim Price and Bobby Keys of The Rolling Stones entourage on "Whisky Eyes" and "Rolling Cloud". I love the gritty guitar sound Taylor gets while Graham's keyboards remind me Snafu on WWA Records in 1973 and 1974. An edit of the 5:18 minutes "Rolling Cloud" could easily have been a great 45...

The tastefully entitled third album "Warm Slash" sees the five boys looking all manly on the front cover (hairy chests ahoy) while one of them communes with nature on the rear sleeve (helping a tree out you understand). Unfortunately the music looses a lot of the funky nature of "Tucky Buzzard" and opts instead for a harder edged Rock that is plodding at best. Keyboard moments in the eight-minute "Which Way, When For Why" are very cool and the riffage of "Mistreating Woman" has plenty of snake-guitar in its tight-trousered heart - but stuff like "Heartbreaker" and "Sky Balloon" just sound like bad Prog or Grand Funk Railroad on an off day. The "All Right On The Night" LP picked things up considerably with the great British Rock 'n' Roll of "Can't Live Without You" - the kind of Humble Pie swagger song (with Brass) that should have been a hit. It's hardly surprising that Purple Records chose "Gold Medallions" as a UK 7" single in March 1973 (Purple PUR 113) with the equally pleasing "Fast Bluesy Woman" on the flip-side. Rhythm Guitarist Paul Kendrick wrote ""Rudi" Movie Star" and the album ends on some nice slide within "Last War"...

David Bowie apparently saw them live in 1971 and was duly impressed (took some of their stage act with him) - but neither his nor Wyman’s peripheral superstardom seem to rub off and the band disbanded in mid 1974 after poor record sales and missed opportunities (they should have been on the 6 April 1974 'California Jam' bill in front of 250,000 fans where Deep Purple set the record for the 'loudest' band in the world - 50,000 LP sales from that gig wold have rescued them). Guitarist Terry Taylor ending up on RAK Records with photogenic heartthrobs The Arrows (released his first solo album in 2014 called "Taylor Made") and Nick Graham later penned winning hits in the 90ts for the Goss Brothers in Bros.

So much to discover and thankfully some of it you can actually like - and even though its far from being undiluted genius from top to bottom - Edsel are to be praised for getting the five-disc "Complete Tucky Buzzard" Box Set out there in such style. Fans should not hesitate...

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