Archive for the ‘Tennent and Morrison’ Category

Maggie Bell and Stone the Crows in concert 1971 – 1974

Maggie Bell and Stone the Crows in concert 1971 – 1974
I saw Stone the Crows in concert three times in 1971 and 1972. The first time was in late 1971 at Sunderland Locarno. This was the original band with Maggie Bell on vocals, and her partner Les Harvey (Alex’s younger brother) on guitar, before he was sadly electrocuted and killed on stage at Swansea Top Rank, by touching a live mike. They also had James Dewar on bass, who went on to have great success with Robin Trower. Maggie was often, and not unfairly, compared to Janis Joplin at the time, and the band were a great blues rock act. Although they were a great live act, they still weren’t that well known, and I recall standing near the front in a pretty small crowd watching Maggie, dressed in a denim jacket and jeans, tearing her way through the set. There was a hard edge about Maggie and her singing, and you felt that her blues matched the tough street image that Glasgow had at the time. I next saw Stone The Crows at the Lincoln Festival, which was their first performance after Les’ death, and Steve Howe from Yes stood in on guitar. The Lincoln performance was highly emotional and the crowd gave Maggie the strongest reception of the day, sensing how real the blues was to her that night, coming only a few weeks after she had lost her boyfriend. By September 1972, the band had a permanent new member in ex-Thunderclap Newman young guitar prodigy Jimmy McCulloch, a new album Ontinuous Performance, and a UK tour which called at the City Hall. Support at the City Hall came from Tennent and Morrison (mis-splet on the ticket), although I don’t pretend to remember much about them. Stand out gig tracks throughout those days were Penicillin Blues (I can picture Maggie now singing “You got the needle in me baby”) and a 20 minute version of Dylan’s Hollis Brown, and Niagara. They were a pretty incredible live act, and played some great blues at the time. By 1973, Stone The Crows had split, and Maggie had gone solo. I saw her twice in 1974. The first time was on the bill of The Who’s excellent Charlton gig, and the second was at The City Hall, with the wonderful Pretty Things as support. The Petty Things were now label mates, both appearing on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. Her set featured largely new material from her Queen of the Night and Suicide Sal lps. She put on a great rock show, but some of the raw power, and blues, of Stone The Crows had been lost. She’d moved to a more traditional heavy rock format (as had label-mates The Pretty Things), and in my mind, it didn’t suit her as well as the blues that she had grown up with. Maggie went on to have a hit with “Hold Me” which she sang with B A Robertson, and she also sang the theme tunes to the TV shows Hazell and Taggart. She moved to Holland and all but disappeared from the music scene, returning to the UK a few years ago. She is now playing solo, sometimes with blues singer Dave Kelly and sometimes in the British Blues Quartet, in the UK, Germany and mainland Europe. I haven’t caught up with her yet, and really must do so; it would be great to attend a Maggie Bell gig again.

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