Posts Tagged ‘The Second Album’

Spencer Davis Group Second Album

In the week your new album comes out, it’s no bad thing if the lead single from it is in contention for the No. 1 spot. That’s why January 20th, 1966 was a very good date for the Spencer Davis Group. On the UK charts for that week, “Keep On Running” became Britain’s favourite single, helping “The Second Album”, as it was called, to debut at No.14. To make things even sweeter, they also climbed into the Top 10 with its predecessor, the equally imaginatively titled Their First LP, which had made a belated chart debut two weeks earlier, thanks to the group’s new-found popularity.

The Spencer Davis Group. had had three chart singles in 1965 and 1966, but not one of them had made the Top 40. “Keep On Running,” written by Jamaican artist Jackie Edwards, changed all that, and hit No.1 half a century ago exactly, during a four-week run in the Top 2. With that track on it, The Second Album sold steadily and, in the last chart of February, as The Beatles’ Revolver did battle for the top spot with the soundtrack of The Sound Of Music, Spencer and co peaked at No.3.

The album was a mixture of originals and R&B/blues covers. Steve Winwood contributed “Stevie’s Blues” as well as a co-write with Davis, “Hey Darling,” and “This Hammer,” which credited the whole group, also including Muff Winwood and Pete York. The remakes included Don Covay’s “Please Do Something,” Ivory Joe Hunter’s “Since I Met You Baby,” Curtis Mayfield’s “You Must Believe Me,” Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step” and Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s endlessly-covered “Georgia On My Mind.”

Spencer, Steve, Muff and Pete had much to thank Jackie Edwards for. After “Keep On Running,” they released a second cover of one of his songs, this time “Somebody Help Me,” which wasn’t on The Second Album. The result was the same, giving the group their second UK No.1 in less than three months.

Even though The Empty Hearts band features members of BlondieThe Cars, Chesterfield Kings and The Romantics — as well as being christened by Little Steven Van Zandt from his super-secret list of unused band names — this is no cynically constructed super group. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Clem Burke, two-time Grammy nominee and MTV Video of the Year Award-winning guitarist Elliot Easton, bassist Andy Babiuk and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmar have parlayed a combined lifetime of rock ’n’ roll into their music, a sterling collection of influences that include ‘50s American roots rock ‘n’ roll, ‘60s British Invasion and ‘70s garage-punk that is anything but retro, rather a refreshing return to core musical values.

These are all friends that I felt could get along both socially and musically,” says long time Chesterfield Kings bassist Babiuk, who started the ball rolling by calling old-time pal, Romantics’ singer Palmar and asking if he wanted to start a band. “Remember when you first picked up a guitar because you loved The Beatles, The Stones and The Kinks? Wouldn’t it be great to get in a room, write songs and play them like we did when we were teenagers? And that’s just how it started.” Blondie drummer Burke had previously played with Palmar in The Romantics and with Easton on several Blondie sessions and in an aborted band featuring Doug Fieger. Easton and Palmar knew Babiuk from frequent stops at his former employer, Rochester’s legendary House of Guitars, before Andy started his own guitar store, the ultra-hip Fab Gear.

All four came of age in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s in indie punk/new wave bands that demonstrated a love of classic rock and roll. “We’re the last rock band standing,” laughs Easton. “The whole idea is to have a blast playing with friends. We were just laughing and in high spirits all the time. No drama. It was just a lot of fun, and you can hear that in the grooves.” “Those common influences are what brought us together,” adds Burke. “We’re survivors and lifers of rock ‘n’ roll. We take from everything that’s come before musically. A lot of people have never heard or seen a band like this. There’s a freshness to it, at the same time as it’s a recollection of the past. Being a rock musician today is like being a jazz musician back in the early days of rock.”

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THE EMPTY HEARTS are:
Clem Burke – DRUMS, VOCALS
Elliot Easton – LEAD GUITAR, VOCALS
Wally Palmar – LEAD VOCAL, RHYTHM GUITAR, HARMONICA
 Andy Babiuk – BASS, VOCALS

Released August 28th, 2020