Saturday, 28 February 2015

Chris Rainbow

Glasgow born singer Christopher James Harley aka Chris Rainbow was born on 18th November 1946. Originally a graphic artist, Chris formed his first band Hopestreet who would release just two singles, "Iron Sky" b/w "Never Mind" on the Regal Zonophone label in 1972 (which may have been a demo only pressing) and the highly enjoyable "Wait Until Tomorrow" b/w "Ladies (At The Bottom Of The Garden)" on Parlophone in 1973.

Soon after the release of the second Hopestreet single in 1973, Norman Jones, a friend of Chris, passed on a tape of his new demos on his behalf to Polydor Records who subsequently signed him up on a four year deal. It was around this time that Chris changed his name from Harley to Rainbow to avoid any confusion with Steve Harley who was very popular at the time.

The debut solo Chris Rainbow album was "Home Of The Brave" in 1975. It is a very slick affair, well produced AOR with hints of 10CC ("Funky Parrot", "A Woman On My Mind") with an emphasis on Chris' angelic Alessi Brothers-esque angelic vocals. The highlight of this album for me is the Reggae-lite "Mr Man" (think "C-Moon").

The follow up album, "Looking Over My Shoulder" appeared in 1978 and this is where the real pop gems hide. This LP was my introduction to CR and I was an instant fan and could see why he was given the nickname The One Man Beach Boy. Much like Chris White's Mouth Music, the very seventies production (courtesy of Rainbow himself) might put off some people, but if you can get your head around it, you're rewarded with an album of killer pop, multi tracked harmonies galore, instant choruses and hooks that will stay in your head for weeks. There are too many great tunes on this to pick a favourite.

1979 saw the release of the third and final album as a solo artist. "White Trails", this time on EMI, might not be as instant as it's predecessor, there's plenty to sing along to on here, particularly "Ring Ring" (not the ABBA song) which is possibly the Chris Rainbow masterwork, unashamedly indebted to the Beach Boys. Pop duo Dollar had a minor hit with their version of it in 1982.

Just after brief foray into disco funk with Max Middleton on a one off single under the worrying banner of "Maximum Penetration" (be careful googling that at work!), Chris was one many artists who was dropped by EMI in their turn of the decade clear out.

The 1980's saw Chris do stints in bands like the studio-only Alan Parsons Project, Camel and Panarama. This was the decade that also saw him move into session work and production for other artists including Runrig. In 2001, now using his birth name, Chris Harley, he came back with his first solo album for over twenty years. I've looked but I can't find it anywhere so would love to hear what it sounds like.

Sadly. today I heard the news that Chris Rainbow had recently passed away. Still, he leaves a legacy of well produced pure pop of the highest order. RIP.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

D Beaver - Combinations (1973)

David Beaver's music career started out as keyboardist in Memphis Garage Pop/Blue Eyed Soul band The Gentrys whom he joined during the late sixties while they were struggling to get a hit to follow up their most known song "Keep On Dancing". By 1970, Beaver was bored with The Gentrys pop style and went on to form the much more progressive outfit Edgewood. An album, "Ship Of Labor" was released in 1972 on Steve Cropper's TMI Records label. This album has too much pseudo classical and jazzy leanings for my taste, but if you're curious you can check it out in full here.

Soon after the release of "Ship Of Labor" Edgewood split and Beaver formed another group named D Beaver. Joining him from his previous band was Pat Allen Taylor (guitar, backing vocals) and studio musicians; Tommy Cathey (bass, vocals), Jimi Jamison (lead vocals), Carl Marsh (guitar, backing vocals) and Joel Williams (drums, percussion, guitar).

A self produced album entitled "Combinations" was released in 1973, again for the TMI label and distributed by RCA. All of the songs were written solely by Beaver with the exception of This was a much poppier affair than Edgewood, although it is still a little prog but in an experimental sounds sense as opposed to pretentious noodling. The LP is very similar to Todd Rundgren's "A Wizard, A True Star" which was also released in 1973 but with catchier songs. My personal highlights on Combinations include the Hammond Organ driven, opening track "I Wanna Show You", the Abbey Road-like "Another Bad Year" and "The Wizard Of Menlo Park" which wouldn't sound out of place on The Family Tree's Miss Butters album. "42nd All-Star Review" is the kind of 10cc/Wings/Pilot pop which is just perfect for this blog.

D Beaver split shortly after the Combinations album and this, according to the BadCatRecords website, was due to them being dropped by RCA. Apparently some of the musicians carried on for a while as session men before joining more successful bands, but Beaver appears to have swapped the music business for a lucrative career in banking.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Bite It Deep Volume 24

Happy Valentine's, folks...

Octopus - Summer
Herman's Hermits - Tallyman
Jordi Sabates - Another Me, Another You
Focal Point - Girl On The Corner
Corliss Nelson - Let Me Begin
Dave Clark & Friends - Right Or Wrong
Gary & Stu - Rainbow Coloured Morning
The Mixtures - Captain Zero
McGough & McGear - So Much In Love
Paul & Barry Ryan - Glad To Know You
Blue Mink - Where Were You Today
Marvin, Welch & Farrar - Strike A Light
Space Opera - Squeeze Play
Tranquility - Thank You
Aphrodite's Child - Break