ROCKIN’ ALL OVER THE WORLD—BRITAIN

The Rockin’ All Over The World series arose from the bar charts and little maps WordPress kindly provides to demonstrate how our blogs are far less popular than we dreamed. Yet they make fascinating reading when one disengages ego and enjoys the geographical variety.

A while ago I decided to launch a project wherein an album from a country that topped the visitor list would be featured. The inaugural gong went to the home of the blues, the USA.

There have been three further posts in the series. These featured artists/albums from Germany, Australia and another from the US.

Time for another little map and edition #5 of Rockin’ All Over The World.

 

It can’t have been easy being Spencer Davis. Wanting to revitalise your music, you stumble across this little band led by someone called Muff, whose young brother Stevie features heavily. Lured into your own band, it turns out this extraordinarily talented teenager not only sings like an R&B veteran and plays organ like a schoolboy Jimmy Smith but also has some seriously good guitar chops. Of course you nurture and exploit this precocious talent, getting some good gigs and releasing a slew of successful singles. “Keep on running”, “Gimme some loving”, “I’m a man”… all sung by Stevie Winwood.

The Spencer Davis Group could never contain the enormous talent of Winwood Junior. Inevitably he flies the coop and in no time at all is having international success with his new band Traffic. But Spencer Davis, born in the year World War II broke out and with a university degree in German, is not easily daunted and soldiers on without his stellar young band member.

After a well received ‘Best of’ compilation, The Spencer Davis Group re-grouped and released the hopefully titled With Their New Face On. Sadly, the makeover did not lead to chart success although the psychedelic single “Time Seller” is terrific and managed to tickle the bottom end of the singles UK chart. The album is actually very entertaining (if not quite the Masterpiece trumpeted by the hype sticker). There is period English whimsy (“Sanity Inspector”, and “Mr Second Class”—lifted by a great fade out organ solo), and some solid blues-rock (“Don’t want you no more”, chosen by the Allman Brothers to open their debut album). A 2002 CD re-issue commandeered the single’s title and added a groovy psychedelic cover to entice listeners. Also included was a documentary film shot in 1967. Plus stuff requiring something called Quicktime.

There was a five year hiatus before Spencer Davis returned, releasing Gluggo in 1973. Although there is nothing at all wrong with the record, it simply never achieves lift-off and is notable—for those who actually remember the LP—for its innovative packaging/design. (That’s entirely why I bought it.)

Album design was by John Kosh and I’m confident you’ll agree it’s a corker.

The back cover initially looks totally 1973; a bunch of disconsolate, long-haired musos hanging about a deserted railway station for no apparent reason. Then you notice the sign. Nice touch.

Inside the gatefold, the spread continues the marketing theme. The “copywriter” was band member Pete York and probably the kindest thing one can say about the jokes is that they are “of their time”.

Enter the perfumed portals of The House of Gluggo (International) to meet your captivating Gluggette. Let her take you by the hand and lead you through your wildest dreams, you secret fantasies on this night of nights

The “Thank you Gluggo*” testimonials are equally rib-tickling.

Of course there’s a jingle:

If you’re weak with legs like string

With GLUGGO you can do something

Makes you skinny, makes you fatter

Gives you muscles where they matter

G – L – U   G – G – O   GLUGGO!

Later, Davis was employed by Island records, promoting music by Bob Marley and his former bandmate Steve Winwood. He retained a strong connection with Germany, where he performed for many years. Although it was always clear the heart of The Spencer Davis Group resided with hugely talented Steve Winwood (a Vinyl Connection series tracking his career began here), that takes nothing away from those early records; a clutch of 45s radiating an energy typifying the vibrant mid-60s British music scene. Keep on running, Spencer Davis.

Spencer Davis, born Spencer David Nelson Davies, July 17, 1939 — October 19, 2020.

 

12 comments

  1. What are the odds I’d see two adjoining WP posts, with fake laundry powder ads?? Darts and Letters has just posted “Vote – Removes Stubborn Orange Stains.”
    “Gimme Some Loving” still gets played regularly, and “I’m a Man,” I’ll go look for “Sanity Inspector” and “Mr. 2nd Class,” I like British whimsy. And I totally dig those sideburns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wouldn’t The Sideburns be an excellent ‘side project’ band name?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just googled that, and we’ve got “The Flaming Sideburns,” a punk band in Helsinki, “The Sideburns,” playing ska in Japan, and “Sideburn Rock” rocking in Switzerland. How would you feel about “The Goatees”?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hm. Might have to run that one past the focus group, Robert!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for highlighting Spencer Davis Group post Steve Winwood. With his departure, that band had “died” for me and I don’t believe I had ever listened to any of their music from that era.

    While without Winwood’s signature voice and Hammond sound it was a different band, based on sampling various tracks from “Time Seller” and “Gluggo,” I have to say I find their music pretty enjoyable!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you found some music to enjoy, Christian. And yes, ‘With Their New Face’ is actually pretty good, despite the naff title and awful cover!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course has every rock musician who feels that his stardom has faded, the role to play the hits of his early success over and over again and that his later songs hardly reach the audience. But in the case of Spencer Davis, it had something tragic, because he had to play the big hits from 1965 to 1967 at all concerts his whole life and also sing them, whereby everyone in the audience knew and heard that these hits were inextricably linked to the unique voice of Steve Winwood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A tough gig indeed, hf. One of the later albums (Crossfire, from memory) has about eight or nine ‘guest’ vocalists!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good! Spencer Davis’ skills as a band leader have always been communicative. He gave his fellow musicians enough room to develop, he practically encouraged them, animated them to get the best out of themselves. And he treated them as equal partners.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s right. In some ways that aspect always reminded me of John Mayall.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. […] And, synchronistically, a ‘multiple’ Spencer Davis in the next post! […]

    Like

  5. Enjoyed the take Bruce. Obvious on how I came to SD. You have me curious enough to see if I can remember or know any of the music after Steve left.

    Liked by 1 person

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