[ Rare Jewels Series # 1 ]
One of the most mysterious albums of the late Sixties, British singer/songwriter Philamore Lincoln's US-only release The North Wind Blew South has attracted plenty of conjecture over the years, much of it concerning the alleged involvement of the Yardbirds.
This first-ever official reissue of a much counterfeited set finally sets the record straight about the elusive Mr. Lincoln and his convoluted musical history, as well as allowing the curious to hear an extremely obscure British psychedelic pop oddity that has long deserved a wider audience.
To begin at the beginning, Philamore Lincoln was born Robert Cromwell Anson on 20th October 1940 in Sherwood, Nottingham. He started playing drums in his mid-teens before joining the RAF, where he played in a band that also featured alto saxophonist Trevor Watts, later of Spontaneous Music Ensemble and Amalgam.
It was at this juncture that Anson began to call himself Phil Kinorra in honour of his three favourite jazz drummers - Phil Seamen,Tony Kinsey and Bobby Orr. After leaving the RAF, Kinorra worked in summer shows and variety acts before coming down to London at the beginning of 1960 as part of an R&B band run by Heather Logan (the sister of jazz singer and actress Annie Ross).
He then had stints with the Peter King Quintet and the Ronnie Scott Quintet before briefly turning his back on playing the drums in order to concentrate on a solo nightclub act. However, in early 1961 he joined the London run of Jack Gelber's play about jazz musicians and drug addiction, The Connection, as part of a band that was headed by alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. McLean's band also included bassist Tony Archer, and in early June 1961 both Kinorra and Archer joined the Don Rendell Quintet.
With Rendell on tenor sax, Graham Bond on alto sax and Johnny Burch on piano, this line-up adopted the name of Don Rendell New Jazz Quintet to record the (now extremely rare) album Roarin'ior the Jazzland label. However, Kinorra moved on from Rendell's band in the spring of 1962, whereupon he joined another jazz-based act, the Brian AugerTrio, alongside Auger on piano and Rick Laird on upright bass.
It was during his two-year spell with Auger that Kinorra began to attract some attention within the industry, and in February 1964 he was placed fourth (one place above one of his original inspirers. Tony Kinsey!) in the British drummers section of the annual Melody Maker jazz poll. Kinorra then staged a fairly drastic musical volte-face, leaving the British jazz scene behind in order to reinvent himself as the leader of Swinging London blue-eyed soulsters Julien Covey and the Machine.
In addition to backing visiting American legends like John Lee Hooker, Covey and his band played the London club circuit in their own right for a couple of years, one of their earliest gigs seeing them support the Spencer Davis Group at the Marquee in early May 1965. Their line-up was something of a moveable feast, with many prominent names from the British rock scene of the Sixties flitting through their ranks.
A post-Shotgun Express Pete Bardens was apparently briefly involved, as was Dave Mason - although the future Traffic man was sacked after turning up late for rehearsals one day, after which he briefly became a roadie for the Spencer Davis Group. Pre-BlossomToes guitarist Jim Cregan played in one line-up, which, he has recalled, also included bassist Cliff Baron (who left after receiving a better offer) and pianist Dave Levy.
However, it appears that, by early 1967, Julien Covey and the Machine had settled down to a line-up of Phil Kinorra on vocals, John Moorshead on guitar, Pete Solley on keyboards, John Holliday on bass and Keith Webb on drums. (NB. It may be that John Holliday was a pseudonym for Johnny Spence, who is known to have been a member of the Machine around this time. Spence had recently quit the Pirates, where he had briefly played alongside Moorshead.) Linking up with Island label producer Jimmy Miller, Covey and the Machine cut a great single, 'A Little Bit Hurt' b/w 'Sweet Bacon'.
Released in May 1967, 'A Little Bit Hurt' attracted a lot of support from the pirate radio stations and was popular in the club discotheques, but didn't quite make the transition to national chart success. Nevertheless, it was an extremely influential record; not only did it become a big favourite on the Northern Soul circuit, leading to Island re-releasing it in 1978, but the A-side was clearly the template for a track on the debut Soft Machine album, 'We Did It Again'.
According to press reports at the time, Julien Covey and the Machine were offered a five-year deal by Island, but the group split in the autumn of 1967, at which juncture John Moorshead joined the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. After a brief reunion with Graham Bond, Anson/Kinorra/Covey then underwent yet another musical metamorphosis and change of name, reinventing himself as Donovan style psychedelic folk troubadour Philamore Lincoln.
Using this name, he released a September 1968 single for the NEMS label, 'Running By The River' b/w 'Rainy Day'. Sadly unavailable for this anthology, 'Running By The River' was a beguiling slice of folkadelia that deserved a better fate than to sink into oblivion. But Lincoln wasn't finished (just as well, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this sleevenote). When NEMS collapsed in 1969, a number of its acts transferred to CBS, who had distributed the label.
Thus it was that, in the autumn of 1969, Lincoln visited a London studio (possibly Olympic, but more likely Morgan) to record an album's worth of songs with producer James Wilder and engineers Glyn Johns and his younger brother, Andy.The resultant album, The North Wind Blew South, featured a back sleeve photo of Lincoln taken by formerYardbirds member Chris Dreja, but bore no musician credits. It was also a UK production that only came out through American Epic - the same company who'd been responsible for releasing theYardbirds' US albums...
These minor 'coincidences' have been built up over the years as evidence that the backing band on The North Wind Blew South is the Yardbirds - but this isn't correct, although Jimmy Page did apparently contribute a typically incendiary guitar solo to 'You'reThe One'. Not only had theYardbirds split a Hill twelve months before the bulk of The North Wind Blew South was recorded, but Chris Dreja is on record as having said that "Philamore Lincoln was a guy who asked me to take his photograph.
I have no more recollection of him than that." In fact the pick-up band assembled for the album was headed by session veterans Clem Cattini (drums) and Les Hurdle (bass). Just five days before The North Wind Blew South was issued in America on 26th January 1970, Mary Hopkin's cover version of a Philamore Lincoln composition, Temma Harbour', entered the British singles chart. Eventually peaking at the No. 6 position, the song had been placed with Hopkin by her hit-or-bust producer, the legendary Mickie Most.
"Temma Harbour' was an example of one of my techniques, if you like, which is to find the song first, and then make the artist fit the song", Most subsequently said in an interview explaining his modus operandi. "If you've got a good song, you can record it and arrange it in many different ways, it doesn't actually have to be the way that you first hear it. Another thing is that, if you're recording girls, never think about boy/girl lyrics - just think about the lyrics as though it was a song for a group, which is what I did with Temma Harbour', because it was originally a male song, written and recorded by a male artist...
" With arguably the most commercial song on The North Wind Blew South given away to another artist, the record company had to find another track that was suitable for single release. The County Jail Band' b/w 'You'reThe One' eventually appeared in the UK on the CBS label on 22nd May, but this failed to make any impact, and its poor performance may have contributed to the parent album failing to gain a UK issue.
Nevertheless, CBS presumably were considering given it a British release as, on 15th August (seven months after its US issue), the LP was given a cursory review in Disc & Music Echo. Unfortunately, it wasn't the kind of review that would have encouraged UK CBS to take a chance on issuing it. "He hasn't a great voice (most of the time it's double-tracked), and the album seems to lean too heavily on good production and orchestration to cover the relative ordinariness of the composer and his voice."
Hearing the album now, that assessment seems a little on the harsh side. It's certainly true that one or two tracks don't work, particularly 'BlewThrough', a lengthy, bluesy instrumental blowout that means that the album ends on a sadly anticlimactic note. However, 'BlewThrough' is actually a Graham Bond Organisation outtake from late 1967/early 1968, when Lincoln had briefly played drums with Bond, and therefore is something of a bizarre, highly anomalous inclusion. (It wasn't the first Bond recording to be issued under another act's name, of course - the Who had used his instrumental 'Waltz For A Pig' as the B-side of "Substitute").
To these ears at least, it seems that The North Wind Blew South is at its most convincing when Lincoln moved away from the up-tempo, slightly bluesy rock approach of The County Jail Band' and the funky 'Lazy Good For Nothin" in order to pursue a more introverted, ethereal sound. Fortunately, most of the album pursues a late Sixties psychedelic pop direction, with baroque string arrangements, evocative flute, breathy vocals and some slightly cryptic, mystical lyrics putting it firmly in the same bag as Donovan's work during the same period.
The excellent 'Rainy Day' was resurrected from the B-side of 'Running ByThe River', but there were plenty of new songs that attained the same heights. 'You'reThe One' pursued a similar direction but with the added attraction of a fierce lead guitar break from Jimmy Page, while the oddly-structured montage 'Early Sherwood' saw Anson/Kinorra/Covey/Lincoln reminiscing about his Nottingham childhood.
Temma Harbour' was a delightful summer reverie whose playfully tropical feel, flute passages and blissed-out lyrical imagery pitched it midway between late Sixties Donovan and Kevin Ayers' 1973 single 'Caribbean Moon', while 'Plains Of Delight' was a similarly dreamy, mellow creation. However, the standout track on The North Wind Blew South is surely the marvellous psychedelic pop title track - a hypnotic, eerie song with a fine vocal performance from Lincoln, superbly augmented by strings and what sounds like bagpipes but may well be some other kind of woodwind instrument.
Sadly, though, The North Wind Blew South failed to garner much attention, and Lincoln's next act was to produce the self-titled, May 1971 debut album for the progressive rock band Paladin, who included two of his former Julien Covey and the Machine colleagues, keyboardist Pete Solley and drummer Keith Webb. After that, though, the Philamore Lincoln trail goes cold. Perhaps he adopted yet another alias and became some glam rock or punk superstar. Maybe he threw in the towel and returned to Nottingham to work in a glue factory.
Who can say? Meanwhile, the title track of The North Wind Blew South has attracted a cover version from studio collective Headless Heroes, who recently released it as a single as well as including it on The Silence Of Love, an album of covers that also includes songs originally recorded by the Jesus & Mary Chain and Nick Cave.
Coupled with his inclusion on such collector-type compilation series as Rubble and Fading Yellow, clearly there's more interest in Philamore Lincoln's small but impressive body of work than there was some four decades ago. Hopefully this reissue will add to his re-evaluation.
1. The North Wind Blew South - 3:10
2. You're The One - 3:02
3. Lazy Good For Nothin' - 2:29
4. Early Sherwood - 3:16
5. Rainy Day - 2:27
6. Temma Harbour - 2:59
7. The Plains Of Delight - 3:16
8. The Country Jail Band - 2:36
9. When You Were Looking My Way - 3:15
10. Blew Through - 5:18
Words and Music by Philamore Lincoln
*Philamore Lincoln - Vocals, Flute, Guitars, Strings Arrangement.
*Clem Cattini - Drums
*Les Hurdle - Bass
*Jimmy Page - Guitar on "You're The One"
about a year ago, I had the pleasure to post here on RHROCKblog, one of the best-kept secrets of the British psychedelic scene, today I republish it because I believe that, this little gem should be heard as much as possible
[ Rip and Scans by MARIOS ]
Previous posted at PHROCK on Sunday, July 11, 2010
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