Leaf Hound – Growers Of Mushroom (Decca SKL-R 5094) 1971

in Blog, Hard Rock by Mike Warth

As a superb original copy comes storming into The Sound Machine – we ask – just who were Leaf Hound?

Their story begins in South London with vocalist Peter French and guitarist Mick Halls, cousins no less, who played together in a number of small bands including The Switch, Joe Poe and Erotic Eel. Like so many others the duo were greatly influenced by Cream and Hendrix.

Some time in 1968 they found themselves without a band and were on the lookout for recruits to form a new outfit when they were approached by bass player Bob Brunning (ex Fleetwood Mac and Savoy Brown) who suggested the pair join his blues based band. This they did and The Brunning Hall Sunflower Band even recorded an album entitled Bullen Street Blues on the small Saga label.

However French did not wish to be restricted to the blues and decided to move on. He met with brothers  Derek and Stuart Brooks and soon joined their bluesrock outfit Black Cat Bones, (who in their early days included Paul Kossof and Simon Kirke both later of Free). Black Cat Bones had already recorded their album, Barbed Wire Sandwich when French came on board but he was part of the band when they embarked on a Eurpean tour to promote the album. After the tour their guitarist left and in stepped – you’ve guessed it, one Mick Halls.

With other changes occurring and the introduction of Keith Young on drums the band became Leaf Hound. It was now 1970 and the line -up was French – vocals, Halls on lead guitar, Derek Brooks rhythm guitar, Stuart Brooks bass and Young on drums. And the name? Well, French was an avid reader of horror stories and Leaf Hound was taken from the Ray Bradbury story The Emissary about a dog that returned from the dead covered in leaves.

After playing at an agent’s showcase in Soho they were offered a contract by Decca and the opportunity to make an album. It was recorded at  Spot Studios in Mayfair reputedly in less than 11 hours and whilst they used titles inspired by more of Peter’s horror stories this was not an album with lyrics veering towards the dark side like Black Sabbath or Black Widow.

The band hoped to promote their album on a tour in Germany but Decca had not released the album by then and sadly disharmony within the band caused them to split with the album still not in UK shops. In fact it did appear first in Germany sporting a different cover with Decca having a licensing arrangement with the Telefunken label but its UK release was not until later in ’71 by which time French had joined Atomic Rooster in time for their third album In Hearing Of and the name of Leaf Hound was all but forgotten and with no band to promote it sales of Growers Of Mushroom were poor.

So what about the album title? It is apparently from another horror yarn but could there also be some connection with the fruit and veg delivery business the cousins worked in?

As for the music it’s an album of riff laden hard rock with raw, powerful vocals and some searing guitar work in the Led Zeppelin, Free mould.

About the Author


Mike Warth – Retired teacher and Education Officer, old rocker, lover of prog, psych and folk – the latter for which I sometimes take some stick. (Why?) Currently having a ball working in The Sound Machine, Reading – independent Record Store par excellence and now working with Vernon Joynson on an update to Dreams, Fantasies And Nightmares.

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