PROCOL HARUM may have started their journey with a more famous guitarist, but it was Mick Grabham who stayed with them through most of the ’70s, until the band fizzled out. He didn’t contribute to the ensemble’s much, writing-wise, Grabham’s only composer credit attached to 1977’s “The Mark Of The Claw” that he co-penned with Keith Reid, although Mick stood behind quite a few melodies on the records by his previous group, COCHISE, which he led together with B.J. Cole, and a couple of cuts by PLASTIC PENNY, his early collective. Apparently not too prolific, the six-stringer issued only one solo album, “Mick The Lad” – laid down in 1972, around the time he joined Gary Brooker’s team – and left his imprint on 1997’s “Guitar Orchestra” where many a luminary played, and there were sessions in the interim, for the likes of Matthew Fisher and Yvonne Elliman. And then, the veteran virtually vanished from public view, focusing on custom-building and refurbishing amplifiers – until now, reappearing on January 14th with a new release. Titled “Original Paint” and comprised of 14 tracks, it spans several decades and is genuinely interesting.
Bass virtuoso Clint Bahr may not be the most prolific artist in the world – it’s been nigh on two decades since his band TRIPOD released their sole album, although he never left the picture entirely, pitching in on Colin Carter’s "One" and helping prepare the “Claiming Peter Banks” film. But now, finally, the American veteran steps out on his own, too, having laid down an album under his own name, with quite a few famous friends onboard, featuring, among others, the aforementioned FLASH players as well as their drumming colleague Mike Hough, violist David Cross and wind maestro David Jackson. Titled “Puzzlebox” and picked up by MoonJune Records, the platter should be out in March.
There are many singing drummers, and few of them even become frontmen – usually in time, after spending years behind the kit whence they supply backing vocals and an occasional leading voice – but Bobby Harrison, who peacefully died in his sleep on January 7th aged 82, seemed to be an exception to this rule. The Englishman’s first claim to fame came as member of an early PROCOL HARUM line-up, although, despite rumors, he didn’t play on “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” and had left before the band’s debut album was recorded, to become a full-time belter.
Perhaps, not as influential as their predecessors VANILLA FUDGE whose rhythm section, Carmine Appice and Tom Bogert moved on to heavier pastures in 1969, CACTUS have always been a powerful unit, and the band’s latest album, "Tightrope" from 2021, is a testament to that. Yet there’s a new document has been unearthed recently, the recording of the classic quartet – in which the aforementioned groove masters were joined by vocalist Rusty Day and guitarist Jim McCarty – performing live for the very first time. Preserving for posterity the veterans’ concert in Philadelphia’s Temple University on May 16th, 1970, titled “The Birth Of Cactus 1970” and scheduled for the January 21st release, this stage report if of great historical value.
The stalwarts of English folk-rock scene, Peter Knight and John Spiers may belong to different generations – the former coming into prominence in the early ’70s with STEELEYE SPAN, the latter hitting the stage in the late ’90s in a duo with Jon Boden – but they have a lot in common, to an extent where the two can easily adjust their styles and work together. The veterans’ initial collaboration came about in 2018, the title of the “Well Met” album proving prophetic, and now the pair reunited for a sophomore effort “Both In A Tune” which will see light of day on February 11th and feature ten tracks – from perennial to original, all given a turn and a twist by the players’ fiddle and melodeon.