Thursday, September 03, 2009
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band : Next 1973
Alex Harvey was born February 5, 1935, in Glasgow, growing up in the hardscrabble projects of that industrial Scottish city.After leaving school at 15, as the story goes, he tackled as many as 36 different professions, including lion tamer, before turning to music. In 1954, Alex Harvey made his professional debut playing trumpet at a Glaswegian wedding celebration.
By 1955 , Alex had played with a number of different Dixieland and jazz ensembles , particularly honing his musical skills in two bands with saxophonist Bill Patrick. (The Clyde River Jazz Band played "trad" jazz, while the Kansas City Skiffle Group banged out the country/folk-flavored "youth music" of the time.) By 1956, when Memphis trucker skiffle.gif Elvis Presley's interpretation of "race music" had become firmly entrenched in British culture, Harvey had won a newspaper competition as Scotland's answer to British teen idol Tommy Steele. He covered Big Bill Broonzy and Jimmie Rodgers tunes until the skiffle craze petered out; then, transformed into the Kansas City Counts, Alex Harvey's band played pop covers.
Like many other British blues-based groups of the time, Harvey's local popularity led to a contract at the famous Top Ten Club in Hamburg, Germany. Residency there garnered the band a recording contract with Polydor Records and the release of Alex Harvey and His Soul Band, a live album, in March, 1964. (Interestingly enough, the Soul Band was replaced on the German recording by Liverpudlian rockers "Kingsize" Taylor & the Dominos). Several singles culled from those sessions, including covers of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love To You" and Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Workin'", were released in both Britain & the US.
In 1965 he'd teamed up with his brother Les to record The Blues, fulfilling his obligations to Polydor.
alex1.gifThe Blues was a spartan effort, just the Harvey brothers with sparse acoustic guitar accompaniment. A commercial failure, the album consisted of such varied (but un-Soul Band-like) numbers as "Strange Fruit" and the Aussie novelty tune "Waltzing Matilda". Alex released another Polydor single under the "Soul Band" moniker, "Ain't That Just Too Bad", then disolved the band, now declaring himself a folksinger.
By 1967, Alex had found steadier work in the backup band for the London production of Hair.
With his career rapidly declining, Harvey lucked into a fortuitous discovery -- Glasgow prog rockers Tear Gas, fronted by guitarist Zal Cleminson and featuring Hugh and Ted McKenna with bassist Chris Glen. Together, they morphed into the " Sensational Alex Harvey Band " in 1972.
That same year, Alex's brother Les, now guitarist with vocalist Maggie Bell's Stone the Crows, was freakishly electrocuted onstage at a gig in Swansea, Wales.
Recurring back problems exacerbated by his physically demanding stage antics forced Harvey to announce, in October 1977, imagehis retirement from full-time rock 'n' roll.Following a rare European tour, Harvey was stricken in Zeebrugge, Belgium, with a fatal heart attack. Rock lost one of its most enigmatic and original proponents on February 4, 1982, the day before Alex Harvey would have turned 47.
1. Swampsnake 4:54
2. Gang Bang 4:42
3. The Faith Healer 7:21
1. Giddy up a Ding Dong (Freddie Bell, Joey Lattanzi) 3:14
2. Next (Jacques Brel, Mort Shuman, Eric Blau)) 4:02
3. Vambo Marble Eye (Alex Harvey Band) 4:25
4. The Last of the Teenage Idols (Harvey, Hugh McKenna, Zal Cleminson) 7:15
THE LAST OF TEENAGE IDOLS
You can call me the Sheik of Tomorrow,
Sleeping on the burning sand.
You can call me the King of the Cowboys,
'Cause everybody shakes my hand.
You can call me the Softshoe Banana.
You can peel away my skin.
You can call me the Last of the Teenage Idols...
Size 78 MB
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