Posts Tagged ‘Gary Wright’

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George Harrison released the 3 LP set “All Things Must Pass” on November. 27th, 1970. “All Things Must Pass” was a triple album recorded and released in 1970. The album was Harrison’s first solo work since the break-up of the Beatles in April of that year, and his third solo album overall. It included the hit singles “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life.” The record introduced Harrison’s signature sound, the slide guitar, and the spiritual themes that would be present throughout his subsequent solo work.
Among the large cast of backing musicians were Eric Clapton and Delaney & Bonnie’s Friends band – three of whom formed Derek and the Dominos with Clapton during the recording – as well as Ringo Starr, Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, John Barham, Badfinger and Pete Drake. The sessions produced a double album’s worth of extra material, most of which remains unissued.
The record was critically and commercially successful on release, with long stays at number 1 on charts around the world. “All Things Must Pass” is “generally rated” as the best of all the former Beatles’ solo albums. George Harrison may have been “the quiet Beatle” but he was still one fourth of what was probably the most important band on the planet, whose contribution to the group, and popular music in general, cannot be underestimated. His use of the 12 string electric on the “A Hard Day’s Night” album, and subsequent movie had such a profound impact on Roger McGuinn, that he soon went out and bought himself a Rickenbacker. Harrison also changed the direction of pop music when he introduced the sitar on 1966’s Rubber Soul, thus creating a sound that would within a few months forever become synonymous with the psychedelic movement.

But it wasn’t until 1970, after the Beatles announced their breakup that Eric Clapton introduced him to Delaney Bramlett, where within a matter of weeks George developed the unique slide technique he is remembered for today, a style which owes itself less to the blues or rock and roll, and more to Harrison’s soul.

No doubt Lennon and McCartney’s domination in the song writing department must have proved to be a great frustration for Harrison, who was often forced to take a back seat. Thus Harrison found himself in the enviable position of having a rich cache of material to draw from, and so he set to work on his first solo album proper (with the exception of Wonderwall Music, which was really a soundtrack anyway), assembling a cast that included Clapton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, Dave Mason, Badfinger, and probably whoever else was hanging around the studio at the time.

“Beware of Darkness.” If you’re looking for a little spiritual uplift about now, look no further than this George Harrison heartfelt meditation on the perils of living in the material world. “Beware of Darkness,” irom Harrison’s triple album “All Things Must Pass.” Clearly, George had been filing away songs that never made it to Beatles‘ albums, so “All Things Must Pass,” opened the floodgates for him to explore his more inner-directed concerns with glorious results. The song features Eric Clapton and Dave Mason on guitars, Carl Radle on bass, Bobby Whitlock on piano, Gary Wright on organ, and old trusty, fellow Beatle, Ringo Starr on drums. It represented an extension of Harrison’s spiritual awakening in India in 1968 when he and the Beatles traveled to Rishikesh to meet up again with Mararishi Mahesh Yogi, whom they had met in 1967 in Wales. Harrison had included “Within You, Without You,” on Sgt. Pepper in 1967, and had incorporated the sitar even earlier on “Rubber Soul” in 1965, and “Revolver” in 1966, indicating a slowly shifting focus.

“Beware of Darkness,” possesses a sweetness, beauty and depth of feeling that only could have come from Harrison at that time. “All Things Must Pass,” including this song, are his answer to his fellow Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who for years limited Harrison to one song on most albums. Though a single album brimming with greatness might have been preferable, George felt the need to demonstrate his own writing prowess over three albums, with stellar results.

The resulting triple LP, “All Things Must Pass”, was and remains the finest musical statement made by a solo Beatle. It was also a global hit, thanks mainly to the single “My Sweet Lord”, a spiritual pop-rock paean to Harrison’s recent conversion to the teachings of Hare Krishna. That people went out and bought it in droves is a testament not only to the quality of the tunes contained within its grooves, but also the talent behind it.

“I’d Have You Anytime” gets things off to a low key and leisurely start, where he hear Clapton’s sweet and endearing guitar tones complement Harrison’s pleading and plaintive vocals. A lovely piece overall. Next is the big one, “My Sweet Lord”, perhaps the song Harrison is most identified with post Beatles, which is fair enough. Now whether he ‘subconsciously’ borrowed from the Chiffons 1963 hit “She’s So Fine” is a matter of conjecture. Because at the end of the day, who really gives a shit. It’s a great song, and that’s all that’s matters.

We then get the bigger than Hollywood, Phil Spector produced “Wah-Wah”, dominated by Clapton’s own wah-wah, and Harrison’s gorgeous slide guitar. It’s a monumental track and one where everyone seems to be flying by the seat of their pants. “Isn’t It a Pity” is a philosophical number, and finds Harrison reflecting on all that’s wrong with the world, in that epic “Hey Jude” kind of way, only with a bit more spirituality thrown in. “What Is Life” lifts the listener up then puts him (or her) down again in one glorious swoop. Imagine Bob Dylan meets The Ronettes. And speaking of Dylan, “If Not for You” first appeared on his 1970 album New Morning. But this is my favourite rendition. Hands down.

Now I’m not much of a fan of country, however “Behind that Locked Door” aches with a yearning which speaks to me every time I hear it. “Let It Down” starts off all big and bombast before falling into a relaxing groove. Billy Preston provides some soothing organ, while Harrison laments about his state of mind. “Run of the Mill” is another intellectually searching opus, albeit in less than three minutes. But putting aside the ‘what do our lives mean’ aspect, it’s a great song nonetheless. And one I never seem to tire of.

The second LP, and yes I do own the vinyl version, the best in my opinion, begins in depressing fashion with “Beware of Darkness”, hardly the sort of song you want to play to someone on a first date. Suffice to say I’m quite a fan of it nonetheless. The same goes with “Apple Scruffs”, which is not only a summation of everything Harrison had learned from the Beatles (just listen to the harmonies), but also a great play on words, at least in relation to the Apple label which his previous band had founded, and which wound up costing them huge sums of money in the process.

“Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” is one of the most haunting tunes of the record, but I can’t tell you why. Call it the mystery of music. “Awaiting On You All” is a short uplifting gospel number, although the listener finds himself on the psychiatrist’s couch again with the title track, a song that probably sums up Harrison’s career at that point, and one that forces the him to gaze out on the horizon, and reflect on his own life.

Harrison gets playful on “I Dig Love”, before we get all serious and musical with “The Art of Dying”, a tune which has some superb playing by Clapton and everyone else involved. We hear a reprise of “Isn’t It a Pity”, just in case you didn’t get the message the first time, before ending with a plea to the Almighty on “Hear Me Lord”, which is really a nice song, and I guess an expression of a man who has been though a lot and was at a point where he was truly grappling with some important issues.

The third LP is a bit of hit and miss, depending on your state of mind. “It’s Johnny Birthday” is basically a self indulgent write off, though “Plug Me In” is more like it, an effervescent guitar jam, where the amps must have been running red hot. We get all late night and jammy on “I Remember Jeep”, before some High Octane Chuck Berry kicks in on “Thanks for the Pepperoni”. The only issue I have at this point of the album, is that one either has to be pissed or on some kind of drug to enjoy it.

No matter which way you look at it, All Things Must Pass was a landmark release. Harrison had made it clear that from now on he would be doing things his way and that there could not be any turning back. The man poured his heart into this record, a quality which shines through some forty years later. Harrison might not have been the most perfect human being, but his quest for some kind of universal purity in the world was a noble one at best. And while an individual who was not always at peace with himself, he wanted nothing but peace for the world.

Happy 50th Birthday to “All Things Must Pass”

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Spooky Tooth was formed in 1967. Among the players forming its heavy sound were organist Gary Wright, who in the mid-1970s had a massive hit, “Dream Weaver.” Spooky Tooth’s second album in 1969, “Spooky Two”, was their best album, full of deep cuts (i.e., “Lost In My Dream,” “Evil Woman,” “Better By You, Better By Me,” and “That Was Only Yesterday” among them) that still received FM radio in the early 1970s.

Spooky Two is the second studio album by the English rock band Spooky Tooth. It was originally released in March 1969, on the label Island Records in 1969 , “Spooky Two” is this British blues-rock band’s pièce de résistance. All eight of the tracks compound free-styled rock and loose-fitting guitar playing, resulting in some fantastic raw music … their smooth, relaxed tempos and riffs mirrored bands like Savoy Brown and, at times, even the Yardbirds … Although Spooky Tooth lasted about seven years, their other albums never really contained the same passion or talented collaborating by each individual musician as Spooky Two.

It was Spooky Tooth’s misfortune to be sandwiched between Led Zeppelin and Free’s turbo-charged, all-pervasive ascents. A couple of years later and the band’s thoughtful but solid style would have found room to grow. Keyboard player Gary Wright shares vocals with Mike Harrison, a strong, complementary pair of voices, and also writes most of the songs including the memorably catchy Better By You Better Than Me, later rescued from oblivion by Judas Priest. The tracks on their second album are an eclectic bunch, blending the blues with folk, country, gospel and even prog. And they sound better now than they did then.

Spooky Tooth’s lead vocalist, was Mike Harrison, was serviceable, although not in Rodgers’ league. His shortcomings were evident when he tried to hit high notes with a weak falsetto. Yet for most of the material, Harrison’s voice was just what their music needed. Subsequent to the release of the album, Greg Ridley left the group, to join Humble Pie

Everything goes back to Mott the Hoople. After Ralph’s departure, Hunter poached Luther Grosvenor (who left Spooky Tooth in 1970) from another fondly remembered British one-hit wonder Stealers Wheel (the hit was “Stuck in the Middle With You”), whose leader Gerry Rafferty quit and Grosvenor replaced him for a tour. Used to the fill-in role, Grosvenor adopted the “Ariel Bender” moniker for contractual reasons when Mott toured in 1973 and 1974 and recorded their seventh album The Hoople.

Mott the Hoople reformed in 2009 and 2013 for British tours with the original lineup. But in the summer of 2018, Hunter, now 79, brought back Ariel and Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher for a series of European dates.

  • Mike Harrison – keyboards, vocals
  • Luther Grosvenor – guitar
  • Gary Wright – keyboards, vocals
  • Greg Ridley – bass
  • Mike Kellie – drums

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Spooky Tooth CD & Vinyl Sets Out Now

The CD and vinyl box sets collecting the Island Records works of Spooky Tooth, one of the key English experimental rock bands of the 1960s and ‘70s, are out now.  ‘The Island Years — An Anthology, 1967-1974’ is released worldwide by USM.

The band were originally known as Art, for a few months in 1967, when they released their sole album, ‘Supernatural Fairy Tales.’ They were then joined by American singer and songwriter Gary Wright, who went on to play with George Harrison on ‘All Things Must Pass’ and to great solo success, notably with songs such as ‘Dream Weaver’ and ‘Love Is Alive.’

By 1968, Art had transmuted into Spooky Tooth, who released the album ‘It’s All About’ in June that year, written largely by Wright and with a cover of Janis Ian’s ‘Society’s Child.’ That set was produced by Jimmy Miller, just as he was beginning his long association with the Rolling Stones. The original band also featured other notable players such as Greg Ridley, later a founder member of Humble Pie, and Luther Grosvenor, who went on to Mott The Hoople and Widowmaker.

spooky-tooth

After three further albums in 1968 and ’69 and the subsequent departure of Wright, Spooky Tooth released three more Island albums with frontman Mike Harrison, and one more without him, 1974’s ‘The Mirror.’ The band were a well-known and respected presence on the British rock scene without ever reaching the UK charts, but no fewer than eight of their albums made the American bestsellers, released first there on A&M and then Island. 1969’s sophomore release ‘Spooky Two’ was the highest-charting, at No. 44.

The 9-CD set features all of the Island albums, with a generous selection of rare and previously unreleased material added. This includes a full concert from April 1972, recorded in Germany, and a 48-page book.

An 8-LP vinyl box set comprises straight reissues of the Spooky Tooth and Art albums in replica original packaging. A full-size reproduction of the extremely rare ‘Art’ Island promotional poster, designed by the celebrated psychedelic artists Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, is included, along with a download card for all the material.

Buy the CD and vinyl editions of Spooky Tooth’s The Island Years — An Anthology, 1967-1974’