Friday, 12 October 2012

Liverpool Echo - S/T (1973)

In the early 1970's the Beatles influence was present in the sound of many popular bands.  Smyle, We All Together, The Tremeloes, Stackridge, Emitt Rhodes etc, all made great records with obvious nods to the Fab Four but one band that really stand out are The Liverpool Echo, a band whose one and only LP, on Spark records sounds more like a tribute to the Beatles rather than a Beatles influenced album. But where as the mentioned bands' Beatles sound are like continuations from Abbey Road or Let It Be, Liverpool Echo looked towards their more energetic and live sound Please Please Me and the Merseybeat era  for inspiration. Rockin' Horse had tried a similar act a few years earlier in 1970 but failed to grab the public's attention. So, in 1973 were the music buyers finally ready for the Beatlesque, Liverpool Echo? No! And so we are left with another lost classic, an under appreciated pop nugget, a perfect entry for this blog!

The roots of Liverpool Echo can be traced back to East London, UK where school friends Martin Briley and Brian Engel formed the psychedelic quintet, the Mandrake Paddle Steamer with the help of Martin Hooker (organ), Paul Riordan (bass, vocals) and Barry Nightingale (drums). Two heavy psych singles were released on Parlophone during 1969:  "Strange Walking Man" b/w "Steam" and "Sunlight Glide" b/w "Len" (a Sweden only single). A regular gigging band, playing with the likes of The Who, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple to name a few lasted until 1970 when Briley ran out of steam and left the band to become a graphic designer.

Mandrake Paddle Steamer
Brian Engel continued writing musical scores, attracting the attention of George Martin who suggested him to bring back old band mate Briley to provide some lyrics. The duo recorded an albums worth of originals material at Martin's AIR studios, which remained unreleased until recent years aside from the singles: "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" b/w "Jaywick Cowboy" as Corn & Seed Merchants and the excellent "Pale Green (hmmmm) Driving Man" again b/w "Jaywick Cowboy" under the name Prowler. The songs from these sessions were eventually released by RPM records in 2007 as "Between the Sky and the Sea" by Briley & Engel.

Following the AIR sessions Briley and Engel made friends with Andrew Pryce Jackman (ex-The Syn) who was conducting orchestras at the time and the three of them came up with the idea to record an album of "proper songs".  The new band name, Liverpool Echo, was also the name of a newspaper and was a concious link to the Beatles, even the album sleeve is a front page article from 1963 of a Beatles news story. They employed the now legendary session musicians Clem Cattini (drums) and Herbie Flowers (bass) for the recording sessions which also included Jackman on keys and production duties and Briley and Engel sharing guitar and vocals. The recording sessions were quick with most tracks captured on the first or second take. The simplicity and rawness of the songs is a perfect antidote to the overgrown, seriousness of the Prog Rock of the time, much like the emerging Pub Rock scene.

Briley & Engel
The album was released in 1973 by Spark Records who unsurprisingly had no idea how to market the band and many believe that the few copies that were sold were probably people thinking they were buying a Beatles album.  The band we're paid £25 for their efforts and the records sunk into obscurity.  The failure of the records success prevented  Briley and Engel from turning Liverpool Echo into a live gigging band and it's legacy remains only on vinyl grooves.

The duo continued to write together for a short while, putting out the odd singles as True Adventure, Starbuck and Slick Willie (check out "Side Walk Surfing Skate Boarding" Birthday-esque?) and eventually drifted apart. Brian Engel went on to form country rockers, Limey and then Joined the New Seekers.  Martin Briley had a succesful solo career in the 1980's and now works  for Paul McCartney's MPL Communications Organisation and has written songs for N'SYNC, Celine Dion and Michael Bolton to name a few.

No comments:

Post a Comment