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Tuesday, 22 May 2018
"Lancashire Hustler" by KEEF HARTLEY (January 2009 Esoteric Recordings CD Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...
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To Be Happy…"
his natty leather hat and Cherokee jacket look on the front cover of
"Lancashire Hustler" - and Deram's reputation as a Hard Progressive
Rock label - this obscure Seventies album is essentially a Soul-Rock LP - and
Esoteric's wonderful new remaster of it only hammers that home.
released on vinyl in May 1973 on Deram SDL 13 and featuring 8-tracks - the UK
vinyl album has always been hard to find (as has much of his output). So it's
nice to see this January 2009 CD reissue do it proud...
You And Me
Shovel A Minor
Something About You
Dance To The Music
for CD from the original analogue tapes by Mark Powell and Paschal Byrne - "Lancashire
Hustler" by KEEF HARTLEY on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2101 (Barcode
5013929720121) is a straightforward transfer of the album (38:43 minutes). I've
raved about these sound engineers before - both have huge numbers of reissues
under their belts and they've done their usual bang up job here - great
presence and clarity. The 8-page booklet reproduces the inner gatefold on its
centre-pages and has short but informative liner notes by Keef Hartley himself.
tracks excepting the instrumental "Shovel A Minor" feature ELKIE
BROOKS and ROBERT PALMER (then with VINEGAR JOE) on backing vocals with the
mighty JESS RODEN on Lead Vocals. Other band members include Junior Keer on
Guitar and Vocal, Jean Rouselle on Keyboards, Mick Weaver on Organ/Moog,
Phillip Chen on Bass and Hartley on Drums.
opens with the slow "Circles" sounding not unlike a Soulful Robin
Trower with James Dewar on Vocals. The separation of the instruments and vocals
is a bit harsh but amazingly clear - especially Jean Rouselle's lovely piano
playing. Things get even more funky for "You And Me" where there's
almost as Ashford & Simpson feel to the moog and brass jabs - while I've
always loved the chipper instrumental "Shovel A Minor" sounding not
unlike Greenslade going into boogie mode if you can imagine such a thing. It
has brass pumps - guitar flicks that go all B.B. King - it's almost fusion too
in places - hard to pin down but a blast nonetheless.
slow down again considerably for "Australian Lady" where again the
brass accompanies a moody vocal and a floating keyboard note complimenting
lovely guitar flicks floating over it all. It's unbelievably mellow and given
the Deram Label rep for Progressive Rock almost wildly out of place (it even
has a witty Take 3 piano interlude at the end). "Action" is probably
one of the best `rawk' tracks on the album - featuring fantastic guitar work
and a raspy Robert Palmer adding real muscle from behind to Roden's lead vocals.
It's near six minutes sounds at times like Free or Humble Pie with its drum and
to Trower funky with the choppy fazed guitars of "Something About
You" and its mellow keyboard breaks. It ends on the massively upbeat
Motown feel of "Dance To The Music" (a cover of the Sly & The
Family Stone classic) that finally lets Elkie Brooks loose on the vocals and
features great Steve Winwood Spencer David Group keyboards. It last over six
minutes and despite its frantic need to sound like everyone's having fun - I'm
not sure it works though I think Sly would approve of the odd-sounding Moog
wouldn't call "Lancashire Hustler" a masterpiece by any stretch of
the imagination and those looking for Hard Rock or Prog should look elsewhere.
But if you like your guitars Soulful and Funky like Robin Trower or Free or
Humble can be on a good day - then hustle this little forgotten nugget into
your life real soon...