Thursday, 17 January 2013

Ironbridge - Ironbridge (1973)

Now, here's an album that seems to have slipped under the radar of the Tapestry Of Delights, Galactic Ramble and everyone else for that matter. Anyone heard of Ironbridge? Recently released on CD by reissue label Flawed Gems, this album absolutely knocked me out on the first listen. It is an instantly loveable album filled with 12 unpretentious songs with a distinct power pop theme running throughout and is easily my favourite find of 2012. The only reason I left it so long to write about it was because I wanted my own vinyl copy before the word gets out about this band. I may be wrong, but I can see this record selling for large amounts of cash pretty soon. There are currently a few mint copies available from various sources and are selling for between $35-$60.

So what do we know about Ironbridge? Not a lot really. Flawed Gems didn't give much away with the CD liner notes other than that they were from Telford in Shropshire and released five singles (3 on DJM, 2 on Decca) between 1969 and 1972 under the name Fluff. None of the records charted but the band gained a reputation in France somehow. Their one and only LP was released in 1973 by EMI Columbia in France only. A Japanese issue is mentioned on but I've not yet tracked one down. The band consisted of Alan Millington (vocals/drums), Mick Skinner (lead guitar), B. Shattock & A. Phillips. First names and instruments are unknown for Shattock and Phillips. If anyone does know any more info on these guys, please get in contact.
Ironbridge posing in front of an iron bridge
The album itself starts as it means to go on,with a killer song, "Just A Bridge", sounding like a post-Graham Nash Hollies with George Harrison on slide guitar. The band had already won me over by the end of the first chorus. Next track "Back Room" starts off with a Leslie speakered electric guitar intro before turning into a chugging, Power Pop bison, parallel with Badfinger. "Hallelujah Days" is a straight forward yet joyous song with a similar sentiment to "My Sweet Lord", celebrating the simple things in life, fishing and drinking beer, "Down by the river, out in the sun, fishing in the water where the big fish run, oh lord hallelujah days!" goes the first verse which has been an earworm of mine on many occasions. Lush acoustic guitars, a Mellotron on flute setting and cello provide an ethereal aura on "Getting Older". Fans of the Fading Yellow comps with cream over this one. Next up, "Making It Hard" another Badfinger/Who like rocker, with still no dip in quality, by this point you'll be wondering how you've never heard about Ironbridge before, just like I did. "Show" is as progressive as this record gets with a few stop and start moments. Psych DJ's could get away with giving this tune a spin. Is that the sound of the band toking on a bong between each verse?

So far that's six out of six ace tracks. Is side two just as good? Pretty much, yes! "It's All Right" is another fab Power Popper and "Frost and Fire" resembles the Raspberries doing what they do best and would've made a killer single, although DJM records would disagree as this was the song that would lead to their contract being terminated back in the Fluff days. What were they thinking?!?! "Simple Man" justifies a late 60's Bee Gees comparison mixed in with the Hollies again with some more of that spine tingling slide guitar which turns up just at the right moments. Ironbridge seem to share lead vocal duties too which appears more obvious on the minute long "Glen" which sounds like the same guy who sang "Hallelujah Days". The singer really lets rip on the throat shredding "I Can Fly", a tune which out grooves the Flamin' Groovies. The band go for the epic finale with "Shanty" clocking in at six minutes forty three seconds, kind of reminding me of "Band on the Run" for the last two minutes when the song changes pace. The album fades out with multi layered vocal harmonies and Mellotron.

I don't know how well the album sold in France, neither do I know what the band did after it's release. I'm hoping someone will fill me in with more details. If that happens, I'll update this post in the relevant places. For the time being, dig this...


  1. This CD is a bootleg. Alan Millington and Mick Skinner appeared on BBC Radio Shropshire this morning (Sat 31 Aug) to promote the official re-release which is on the Angel Air label. They still play locally. Alan has returned to the guitar; his son is now on drums. Listen to it here (for the next 6 days only). The interview starts approx. 2hrs 45mins into the programme:

  2. Glynn here from Wellington in Telford, Shropshire. Brilliant album. Luckily know them personally. Just found a vhs tape with Alan Phillips & Mick Skinner as duo Stepping Out which i recorded in a local pub & just had it converted to disc, still sounds great. If you get chance to listen/buy the album, trust me its worth it. Keep Rockin & Rollin.