Archive for the ‘Brass Alley’ Category

Local heroes: Brass Alley & Lucas Tyson

Local heroes: Brass Alley & Lucas Tyson
hartrockrecordI couldn’t finish my blog project without saying a few words about these two bands.
Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson (along with Beckett who I have already covered in earlier posts) were arguably the top North East bands in the early ’70s, playing in ballrooms and clubs around the region.
Brass Alley were a heavy rock band with a bluesy edge, fronted by singer Dave Ditchburn and featuring Barry Alton (guitar), Frankie Gibbon (bass), and Howard Martin (drums). They were heavily influenced by Free, and always included a few Free covers in their set. I saw them loads of times at Sunderland Locarno (Mecca), Newcastle Mayfair, in several working mens’ clubs and supporting touring acts at the City Hall. I remember that they had, for a short period, a Sunday night residency at Sunderland Top Rank. I can picture us all now, standing on the tables chanting for “The Hunter”; which was their encore at the time. The guitarist would do a great instrumental version of the “Theme from Exodus”.
Lucas Tyson were a much more guitar-oriented band fronted by the excellent, Hendrix-influenced, Pete Barclay. Pete played a Fender Strat, made heavy use of wah-wah and fuzz, and was a guitar hero for many of us young guys. I also saw Lucas Tyson play at Sunderland Mecca, Newcastle Mayfair, Sunderland Poly, and at the City Hall. Pete would do great Hendrix covers (“Voodoo Chile”, I think) and other guitar-led tracks. I remember seeing them support Edgar Broughton one night at the Mecca, when they played an awesome version of the Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”.
Brass Alley and Lucas Tyson both feature on the single pictured above. I still have a copy and it’s a gem of early ’70s rock psych. The 45 EP features four tracks: “Daylight Child” by Lucas Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57TSW5w1j6s&list=PLRBjLK_SZFghJcBolYpCMkTVt9L60TtCv&index=1 ; “The Hobo Song” by Yellow; “Pink Pills” by Brass Alley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeR7xmNupF8 and “I Know You Well” by Trilogy. The single was released to promote Hart Rock, a 1971 rock festival held at Hartlepool football ground which featured these four local bands, plus others and was headlined by Arrival and Beggars Opera.
Four days to go.

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Argent in concert 1972 – 1974

Argent in concert 1972 – 1974
I first saw Argent in concert at Sunderland Top Rank on a double bill with Beggars Opera. I have a feeling it was a 12 midnight to 4am show that they put on now and then, sometimes on bank holiday weekends. Both bands were heavily organ-based; I had already seen Beggars Opera before, but Argent were new to me. Hold Your Head had just been realised, which places the concert sometime in 1972. I remember everyone standing on the tables in the Rink, singing to Hold Your Head Up; think they played in twice, once in the set and once as an encore. (Update note: I’ve just seen someone selling a poster for the gig on ebay. It was on Sunday 28th/ Monday 29th May 1972, from midnight to 4am. The gig was promoted by Fillmore North ie Geof Docherty. Support for Argent came from local bands Brass Alley and Beckett, and Beggars Opera. Tickets were all of 60p). I was impressed enough to go and see Argent again at Newcastle City Hall in 1973. Their lp at that time was “In Deep” which features the track God Gave Rock and Roll to You, later to be covered by Kiss. Argent were back at the City Hall in 1974, boasting a quadrophonic/stereo show, which featured speakers around the hall; I remember I was sitting right next to one on the balcony. The ticket advertised the concert as quadrophonic downstairs and stereo in the balcony! Interesting concept. The lp for this tour was Nexus, which was pretty heavy prog rock stuff, with tracks such as The Coming Of Kohoutek (great title) and the mega opus Music From The Spheres, which clocks in at over 8 minutes on the lp and was probably longer live. Alongside these new songs, The Zombies’ Time of the Season also got an outing in concert in those days. By 1974 Russ Ballard had left the band to be replaced by John Verity and guitarist John Grimaldi. Argent was a class act. Some great songs, and some top keyboard form Rod Argent. I remember being jealous of Rod Argent’s (very) long hair, and being fascinated by Russ Ballard’s guitar which had holes drilled through the body. A few years after Argent had split, I saw Rod Argent at a free keyboard demonstration concert at Middlesbrough Town Hall. I notice the ticket for the 1974 tour shows that Clancy, who were part of the pub rock scene of the early 70s, were the support act. Argent have reformed recently, and have been playing a few concerts in the past week. I would like to see them again, but haven’t caught up with them yet. (Update note: I found a flyer for the Quadrophonic gig at the City Hall so have added it here). I have since seen Rod a couple of times with Colin Blunstone and with The Zombies, who he tours with now. photo Update on 26/12/12. I’ve added a scan of the poster from the gig at Sunderland Top Rank, which John bought on ebay. This shows that it was a midnight to 4am show, on May 28/29 1972 (late May bank holiday). The Line-up was Argent, Beggars Opera, Beckett and Brass Alley.