Friday, June 24, 2011

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Framed / Next (1972-1973 scotland mix of hard, blues and glam rock - 2002 remaster edition - MP3 320K and FLAC )

N.E.X.T. Next. What a way to start a song. As Alex Harvey spells out the letters of the title, before leering the word into the microphone, the band breaks into a tango beat to support him, which is perhaps one of the defining moments in the career of "The Sensational Alex Harvey Band" and its inspirational leader.

In 1972 Alex Harvey had reached the grand old age of 38, way too old in those hedonistic days of music to consider becoming a Pop Star.

But tragically, Alex's younger brother by some ten years, Leslie, had been killed in an electrical accident during a sound check with his group "Stone the Crows" at the Top Rank in Swansea. The cause was an unearthed microphone.

This tragic event spurred Alex on to have one more go at cracking the big time.

At the time Alex was earning a crust in the orchestra of James Rado's iconoclastic musical 'Hair', but was persuaded by his manager, friend, and mentor Bill Fehilly, to go up to his native Glasgow, Scotland, to check out a gritty Progressive outfit called Tear Gas.

The band was in the throws of giving up all dreams of stardom and going back to 'normal jobs'. They were so broke that in true Scottish tradition they had resorted to haggis hunting up the side of mountains to find sufficient nutrition to survive.

However, Alex, recognizing talent when he saw it, coerced the band to stick together and plant him in as lead singer and inspirational genius. Putting "Sensational" into the title of the band, they went into the studio and in six days had recorded their first album, released in early 1973, before starting to play live anywhere that would have them.

Not surprisingly, they quickly built up a reputation of one of the hottest acts on the live circuit.

Out front was Alex himself, skin tight jeans, dirty red handkerchief hanging from his back pocket, black and white looped T-shirt, with Alex's huge head sticking out the neck (with all the creativity going on in this head, it needed to be a big one), topped off by an unruly mop of unruly jet black hair, the perfect leader.

Next to him was Zal Cleminson in a green rubber jumpsuit with cake white clown's make-up, which exaggerated his gurning face as he cut loose during the solos, and becoming a complete maniac, the perfect foil.

On the other side of the stage on bass was a man who could of made a living as an Elvis impersonator, or at least one of Elvis' bouncers Mr. Chris Glen, the perfect man to have on your side if the chips were down.

On Keyboards, as befitting this lot, was Hugh McKenna, who looked more like a university music teacher than a Rock 'n' Roll star, the perfect musical director.

And keeping it in the family, on drums you had Hugh's brother, Ted, the perfect rock onto which to hoist your Rock 'n' Roll flag.

The first album was a reasonable commercial success, but for once the record company saw the potential in this group.

Later that year they booked a full month for the band to record their follow up album and brought in top Glam Rock producer Phil Wainman.

The results were 'Sensational'. Alex sung with such pathos you cannot help but love him. Nobody else at the time could of gotten away with singing the title track, the J. Brel tribute to European Brothels, or `Gang Bang' poking fun, of an unmentionable subject.

Zal Cleminson's guitar playing throughout is nothing short of brilliant, and the band supports them note for note.

All of the songs here were to stay in the band's stage act in one way or another until the end, especially 'The Faith Healer' with its throbbing Tooltelbug drone opening, which was to become the band's standard bearer and opening song. (The sight of Alex staggering to the front of the stage screaming "can I put my hands on you" used to send the audience into raptures.)

`Vambo Marble Eye' became a saga that Alex was going to take to higher plains on the live stage. Final number 'The Last Of The Teenage Idols' was inspired by an event way back in 1957, when Alex Harvey won a Daily Record organized competition to find the Scottish Tommy Steele (true - I promise!), which brings the album to a fitting rocking climax before we are lulled away by a final burst of do-wop.

In another year, "The Sensational Alex Harvey Band" was the biggest touring band in Europe, quite a turn around from Haggis chasing. Unfortunately, the work load was just too much and after suffering declining health, Alex left the band in 1978, after which the band imploded.

Later in 1982, Alex would die of a heart attack while on tour in Europe, a day before his 47th Birthday. Although Alex's career did not really catch fire until late, but when it finally did, it sure burned bright. If "The Sensational Alex Harvey Band" is a mystery to you, pay attention.

Alex Harvey was one of the greatest ring masters to have ever strode across the field of Rock 'n' Roll.

The first two "Sensational Alex Harvey Band" albums, "Framed" and "Next", have just been released as a special 2-for-1 box set, a bargain not to be missed (by Kim Fletcher).

Midnight Moses:

Faith Healer:

Faith Healer lyrics:
If your body's feelin' bad
And it's the only one you have
You want to take away the pain
Go out walkin' in the rain
You watch the flowers go to bed
Ask the man inside yah head
Your spirit never has to grieve
All yah got to do's believe

The faith healer
The faith healer

All yah got to do is feel
Your body's going to start to heal
Fingertips and holy fire
Everlasting sweet desire
It don't matter what the doctor said
The healer man will sail away
Immortality for two
The miracles, can come to you

The faith healer
The faith healer

Can I put my hands on you?
Can I put my hands on you?

The faith healer
The faith healer

Faith, and hope and charity
It's simple relativity
He can make you understand
All make up to take his hand
Remember when somebody said
Ask the man inside yah head
The fingertips of holy fire
Everlasting sweet desire

The faith healer
The faith healer
Can I put my hands on you? Ahhh...(6 times)
The faith healer....(3 times)

02.Hammer Song
03.Midnight Moses
04.Isobel Goudie (My lady of the night/Coitus interruptus/Virgin and the hunter)
05.Buff's Bar Blues
06.I Just Want To Make Love To You
07.Hole In Her Stocking
08.There's No Lights On The Christmas Tree Mother
09.St Anthony

02.Gang Bang
03.Faith Healer
04.Giddy Up A Ding Dong
06.Vambo Marble Eye
07.Last Of The Teenage Idols (parts 1-3)

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