And so to Skin Alley. The first two albums from 69 and 70 frankly offered little but a half hearted stab at a sort of hippie jazz rock. Below par songs with a stodgy lifeless production they were obviously dropped by their label CBS and fell into a sort of hiatus for a couple of years. Come the turn of 72, two new members and a new label, Transatlantic, they were transformed. New drummer Tony Knight brings a light, funky feel to proceedings, complimented by the, as always, clear precise production achieved in Rockfield studios. But the real game changer is the arrival of ex- Atomic Rooster bassist and vocalist Nick Graham. Not perhaps one of the great rock singers there is nonetheless a pained, pleading quality to his voice that is unique. He sounds as unlike anyone else as does the singer in Pavlov`s Dog (forgotten his name). Sharp, light but driving bass and competent flute playing allied with the fact that he wrote or co-wrote the majority of songs on the album make this his record. Catchy numbers, great harmonies, instrumental breaks never stretched out beyond their limits and intelligent, down to earth lyrics make this a real overlooked gem of a record with every number a winner. Honest.
And then there`s the cover and title. A cartoon rodent a la Fritz the Cat holds out a piece of cheese to us with the title of the album speech bubbled as “Two Quid Deal?” Dearies, a two quid deal in 72 would have got you an eighth of dope. Subversive stuff eh? It would also have been the cost of the album. Wow. Clever stuff this marketing. A printed inner sleeve was included in the price along with a fine poster of band and said rodent. Yours today in mint condition with poster for around forty five quid. We don`t see it often in the shop but next time it`s on the back wall do yourself a favour and buy it, roll a fat one and make like it`s 72 all over again. Classy.
About the Author
Adrian – Hi. My name is Adrian. You may have bumped into me in the Sound Machine as I have been working there, three days a week for the past year. I`m 62 years old and a retired teacher of English, music and drama to secondary school kids who found themselves in some difficulty in mainstream education. I have been collecting records since I was twelve and now have approx ten thousand albums. Totally ridiculous of course and a bugger to store in the average family home. You can imagine then my delight at being invited to work in the shop within days of my retirement last year. A dream job for someone so obsessed with vinyl as I.
Working in the shop is a delight principally for the opportunity it affords to talk about my favourite things to like-minded obsessives of all ages, to learn from them and to introduce them to stuff that they may have overlooked. I thought I would take the opportunity once a month to highlight a couple of albums that we get in with reasonable regularity and to ask you as to why the bloody hell you don`t have them.
For those of you with long memories I used to sing with Reading`s..er…near legendary Complaints. I have yet to come across a copy of “There were rays coming out of their eyes” in the shop so obviously it is still a prized possession for it`s owners. Yeah.