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Friday, 6 January 2017
"The Last Puff" by SPOOKY TOOTH feat MIKE HARRISON (2016 Universal/Island 'Expanded Edition' CD - Paschal Byrne and Ben Wiseman Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...
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"...Wrong Time, Wrong Place..."
Like Mott The
Hoople and The Pretty Things - England's SPOOKY TOOTH have never really
received the accolades they deserve. Between 1968 and 1974 they produced seven
studio albums (six on Island - one on Goodear) as well as a posthumous Island
Records 'Best Of' in 1976 - yet I defy even knowledgeable Rock types to name
just two of those original LPs.
None of their
Rock-Blues albums ever bothered the British LP charts (not even the 'Best Of')
and though founder member and songwriter Gary Wright did some commercial welly
in the mid Seventies (especially in the USA with his "Dream Weaver"
LP) - Luther Grosvenor and Mike Harrison had solo careers also but few noticed.
The band is not in Martin C. Strong's stunning 'Great Rock Discography' Books
(and almost everyone is in there) and now the final facial slap...
These seven new
CD Reissues and Remasters on UMC's Universal/Island resplendent with truly
superb Audio and a wad of bonus tracks (only two are the bare album - see list
below) have already quietly slipped under the radar only two months after
release in September and October 2016. Time to rectify this horrid anomaly on
the part of an uncaring and post Christmas flabby public - here are the eerie
UK released 7
October 2016 - "The Last Puff" by SPOOKY TOOTH featuring MIKE
HARRISON on Universal/Island 570 547-5 (Barcode 602557054750) offers the 1970
Island Records album newly Remastered with Six Bonus Tracks and plays out as
follows (60:59 minutes):
1. I Am The
2. The Wrong Time
3. Something To
4. Nobody There
At All [Side 2]
5. Down River
6. Son Of Your
7. The Last Puff
Tracks 1 to 7 are
their fourth studio album "The Last Puff" - released July 1970 in the
UK on Island ILPS 9117 and August 1970 in the USA on A&M Records SP-4266.
Thinking he was going to go solo - Island Records credited the album to SPOOKY
TOOTH featuring MIKE HARRISON - the only LP credited as such in their canon of
work. Produced by CHRIS BLACKWELL and CHRIS STAINTON - the LP peaked at No. 84
in the USA but didn't chart in the UK.
8. Son Of Your
Father (Single Version) - 26 Jun 1969 UK 7" single on Island WIP 6060,
9. I Am The
Walrus (Single Version)
10. Hangman Hang
My Shell On A Tree (Single Version)
Tracks 9 and 10
were the A&B-sides of 1970 7" singles in Euro Regions (Norway and
Netherlands) on Island 6014 023.
The LP cut for
"I Am The Walrus" is 6:26 minutes in Stereo - the 7" Single Edit
is approximately 5:22 minutes in Mono.
France had an
issue of "I Am The Walrus" too with the same catalogue number but
used the full LP cut and not the edit.
The LP cut for
"Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree" is 5:15 minutes in Stereo - the
7" Single Version is extended to 5:40 minutes in Mono.
11. Nobody There
At All - July 1970 'Promo Only' UK 7" single on Island WIP 6084 (white
12. The Wrong
Time (First Mix) - Album Outtake recorded 8 May 1970
13. The Weight
Track 13 is a
cover version of The Band classic - it replaced the track "Too Much Of
Nothing" on the American reissue of their 1968 debut LP "It's All
About". Released June 1971 on A&M Records SP 4300 - the LP was renamed
"Tobacco Road" and given a different sleeve (pictured on Page 11 of
SPOOKY TOOTH was
(Tracks 1 to 7):
MIKE HARRISON -
Vocals (also on 8, 10 and 13)
- Guitar (also on 8, 10 and 13)
HENRY McCULLOCH -
CHRIS STAINTON -
Bass Guitar, Piano, Organ and Guitar
ALAN SPENNER -
Bass Guitar (also on 8)
MIKE KELLIE -
Drums (also on 8, 10 and 13)
GARY WRIGHT -
Vocals, Piano and Organ on "Son Of Your Father", "Hangman Hang
My Shell On A Tree" and "The Weight"
GREG RIDLEY -
Bass Guitar on "Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree" and "The
booklet is really well done - researched, coordinated and produced by MARK
POWELL of England's much-revered reissue label Esoteric Recordings (have done
wads of quality reissues from the Sixties and Seventies). There are several
photos of rare Euro 7" singles for "I Am The Walrus" and
"Son Of Your Father" - snaps of Harrison - trade adverts and liner
notes from Powell detailing the band's history on Island Records (including
stuff about The V.I.P's and Art) and not just the "The Last Puff"
album. The CD is coloured Pink like the original Island Records album label and
there's a close-up photo of the album artwork beneath the see-through CD tray.
But the big news is new PASCHAL BYRNE and BEN WISEMAN Remasters from original
tapes - wonderful kicking sound - even on the Mono Single Mixes...
and Kellie were all part of Joe Cocker's Grease Band. The LP opens with a
storming cover version of The Beatles "I Am The Walrus" - 6:26
minutes of Heavy Rock interpretation that works. Someone thought it would make
a single so they edited it down to a just-about-manageable 5:22 minutes and
issued it in several European countries. Combined with a German Tour - the track
made them stars in Europe even if Blighty wasn't really listening. Before
departing the band - Gary Wright left them "The Wrong Time" - a brill
piece of Rocking Blues riffage which also appears here in a 'First Mix' form
from May 1970 as a very cool Bonus Track. I love this guitar-soloing song. Mike
Harrison sounds Humble Pie's Steve Marriott throughout grinding his larynx
about lady shenanigans and being a poor boy in the 'wrong place' at the 'wrong
time' (we never do find out who the lady backing singers are). Before Joe
Cocker did his own version on the 1972 LP "Something To Say" on Cube
Records (a co-write with his Roadie pal Peter Nichols) - Spooky Tooth were the
first to have a go at the song "Something To Say" and I have to say
after the high of "The Wrong Time" - the 'get back on the road'
ballad is given a very heavy-handed rendition. I've never liked it - and even
though the girly chorus and funked up end portion are good - it feels plodding
and Harrison's vocals struggling.
Side 2 opens with
a Mike Post song called "Nobody There At All" - a tune that first
turned up on an obscure American album by Bobby Doyle from 1968 called
"The Bobby Doyle Introduction" (Warner Brothers WS 1744) - an LP
produced by and featuring lots of Mike Post input. In the hands of Spooky Tooth
it feels like The Band on "Songs From Big Pink" or Joe Cocker's
second LP on Regal Zonophone "Joe Cocker!" from early 1970 (gorgeous
remaster too). "Down River" opened Side 2 of David Ackle's
self-titled debut LP in 1968 on Elektra Records (EKS 74022) - another 'why
didn't you write Rosie' piano melodrama tune that feels more Elton John than
rocking Spooky Tooth. Speaking of which - "Son Of Your Father" turned
up on Elton's 3rd studio album "Tumbleweed Connection" but not until
October 1970 - months after Spooky got to have a go at it. Their four-minute
funked-up guitar-driven rendition made it an ideal single choice and it's not
surprising that it made it into several Euro territories with "I've Got
Enough Heartache" from the 2nd LP as its B-side. The album ends on another
fave of mine - a Piano and Guitar instrumental - a stroller from The Grease
Band's Chris Stainton that feels as peace-pipe-mellow as the Indians having a
"Last Puff' on the front cover (stunning Keyboard work). The classy extras
of Edits and Extended 45s and cool outtake only add to the stew giving the
Reissue much more depth (I’d give the album only three stars as a stand
Puff" by SPOOKY TOOTH is hardly a masterpiece but it has moments I've been
returning to for four and a half decades and in my book - that rocks. Like the
recent Free CD Remasters (also September 2016) that came with storming Andy
Pearce and Matt Wortham Remasters - I'm going to have to own the lot of these
Paschal Byrne and Ben Wiseman efforts.
Well done to
everyone involved for giving ST the late dental polish they've deserved for so
Titles for SPOOKY TOOTH in the Universal/Island CD Remaster Series:
1. It's All About
(1968 Debut) - 30 Sep 2016 CD release on Universal/Island 570 547-1 (Barcode
602557054712) with 10 Bonus Tracks
2. Spooky Two
(1969 2nd LP) - 7 Oct 2016 CD release on Universal/Island 570 547-3 (Barcode
602557054736) with 9 Bonus Tracks
3. Ceremony: An
Electronic Mass (1969 3rd LP with Pierre Henry)
- 7 Oct 2016 CD
release on Universal/Island 570 547-0 (Barcode 602557054705) with 6 Bonus
4. The Last Puff
(1970 4th LP) - 7 Oct 2016 CD release on Universal/Island 570 547-5 (Barcode
602557054750) with 6 Bonus Tracks
5. You Broke My
Heart...So I Busted Your Jaw (1973 5th LP) - 30 Sep 2016 CD release on
Universal/Island 570 547-8 (Barcode 602557054781)
6. Witness (1973
6th LP) - 30 Sep 2016 CD release on Universal/Island 570 547-7 (Barcode
602557054774) with 1 Bonus Track 7. The Mirror
(1974 7th LP) - 30 Sep 2016 CD release on Universal/Island 570 547-6 (Barcode