Sunday, 9 March 2014

Aubrey Small - Aubrey Small (1971)

I'd previously became acquainted with an MP3 copy of Aubrey Small album from a not so great vinyl rip which I downloaded from a blog several years ago. Thanks to Record Collector Magazine and their great choice of records to release on their own label, I now have this rarely seen LP on 180 gram vinyl. A great job they've done with it too, sourcing the sound from the original master tapes. Although it doesn't come with the intended gatefold sleeve, it does come with a four page insert, which couples what would have been the inner gatefold with the song lyrics that would have came with the original vinyl. They've also included the 7" inch single as a bonus with Non-LP track The Loser b/w Maybe Tomorrow, previously unreleased song, not the same song as the one released by the Iveys. There were only 500 of these pressed, so you might want to get yourself a copy, pronto!

Aubrey Small wasn't a singer songwriter, as I originally thought, but in fact a five piece band from Portsmouth comprising of Peter Pinckney (lead guitar/vocals), Rod Taylor (keyboards/vocals), Alan Christmas (guitar/vocals), David Yearley (bass guitar/vocals) and Graham Hunt (drums/guitar/vocals). Those of you reading carefully will have noticed that all five members share the vocals, although not in a Beach Boys way. Production was handled by John Anthony (Rare Bird, Lindisfarne, Genesis) and engineered by EMI man Ken Scott (Beatles, Pink Floyd, Pretty Things) and was recorded at Trident Studios in Soho, London, UK.

Now, I know I overuse the Beatles/Badfinger comparisons on this blog (I can't help it, that's the music I like!) and there's no way I can get through this post without mentioning them at least half a dozen times. Musically, that's exactly where these guys' heads were at. Album opener "Country Road" is a slow burning, almost hypnotic, psychedelic beast with backwards sound effects complete with Ham/Evans-alike harmonies, perfect way to start a record. Next up is "Gardenia" and after one listen you'll hear where the Bread comparisons come from. "Trying To Find My Way" is may favourite cut on the LP, this is the sound that Rockin' Horse would master on their own album couple of years later. Mike Vickers is drafted in for some Moog action on "It's Morning" where the Abbey Road influence is at it's most obvious.
Aubrey Small (L-R Alan Christmas, Rod Taylor, Graham Hunt, David Yearley, Peter Pinckney)
Peter Pinckney's "Love On" opens side two and is a dead ringer for "She Sold Blackpool Rock" by the Honeybus which is no bad thing. Another key highlight on the album is "Born To Be" which has the full string and brass arrangements added courtesy of Richard Hewson, making this killer Macca/Wings-esque the Aubrey Small single that should have been. Some great production work on Graham Hunts Excorcist-alike "Smoker Will Blow", which evokes the Moody Blues and the darker moments on the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle masterpiece. The album closes with "Wonderful", a short and sweet little tune at one minute and forty seconds, half of which is a fade out.

An album of this quality had all the potential to find a bit of acceptance from the mainstream, but this was 1971 after all, a year that so much quality music was released, that records of this quality just slipped by the public without attention. Kudos to Record Collector for giving Aubrey Small another chance to shine.

For loads more info on the Aubrey Small, check out their excellent website here.


  1. I stumbled across Aubrey Small as a 15yr old lad when they played at the Territorial Army hall in Havant back in the start of the 70’s. I was captivated by the harmony they were able to create backed by a tight sound only achieved through excellent arrangement coupled with real ability with their chosen instruments. I was unaware of all these elements – I at the time just really started to “dig the sound – man” so much so I went in search of their music.
    I found a copy of their album in a Portsmouth department store “Handleys” (Now Debenhams in Southsea) in the reduced box – I snapped it up and took it home and played it loads.
    Marriage and children and CDs all sort of got in the way until the children grew up etc. And then I decided to build a new audio system – you know the old age crisis and wanting to re-capture the good old times. Well a huge Bi-amp system with Tannoy floor standers later I realised I needed a turntable to get my much loved LP collection out of moth balls.
    I know the music that latches onto a teen in their formative years will always be great and I can assure you there were some really good times associated with the Aubrey Small LP – but less of that – it was one of the first records I span up after proving the new system was safe to use and I still have the original Lp but also the 180 gram collectors version as well.
    My favourite track is “Smoker will Blow” by the late Graham Hunt I find it haunting with depth and everything – I really think they deserved more. Musically they were more than just competent they were sublime and had such a mix of inputs and influences that there was no sameness about the tracks on the album – they were all different other than the common theme of the tight composition and excellent delivery with harmony underpin.
    I think the Aubrey Small album is a fitting legacy for the band – one they should be proud of and that many of today’s musicians should seek out for inspiration and as a goal for excellence which to me is missing from much of today’s modern formulaic music offerings.

    1. Hi
      and a big thank you for your kind words.

      Best to you
      Peter Pinckney