Aubrey Small


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969)  

- Alan Christmas -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Graham Hunt (RIP 1999) -- drums, percussion guitar, vocals,

- Rod Taylor -- keyboards, vocals

- Marc Tuddenham (aka Mark James) -- lead guitar

- David Yearley (RIP 2021) -- vocals, bass, flute

 

  line up 2 (1969-73)  

- Alan Christmas -- vocals rhythm guitar,

- Graham Hunt -- drums, percussion guitar, vocals,

NEWPeter Pinckney (RIP 2022) -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced

  Marc Tuddenham)

- Rod Taylor -- keyboards, vocals

- David Yearley (RIP 2021) -- bass, vocals, flute

 

  supporting musicians:

- Ray Jackson -- harmonica

- Mick Vickers -- Moog

 

  line up 2 (1972-73)  

- Alan Christmas -- vocals, rhythm guitar

Peter Pinckney (RIP 2022) -- vocals, lead guitar

NEW - Barry Shute -- drums, percussion (replaced Graham Hunt)

- Rod Taylor -- keyboards, vocals

- David Yearley -- vocals, bass, flute

 

 

 

- Cherry Smash (Graham Hunt)

- Isle of Wight Cherokees (Rod Taylor)

- Lace (Peter Pinckney)

- Sons of Man (Alan Christmas, Rod Taylor and David Yearley)

- Talismen

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Aubrey Small

Company: Record Collector

Catalog:  --
Year:
 2013

Country/State: Portsmouth, England

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed; includes bonus single

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $100.00

 

 

Featuring guitarist Alan Christmas, drummer Graham Hunt, keyboardist Rod Taylor, guitarist Marc Tuddenham, and bassist David Yearley, Aubrey Small came together in 1969.  Taylor had previously been in the Isle of Wight Cherokees who'd released a self-financed 1966 EP "I.O.W. Cherokees" and a single on Polydor.  Hunt and Tuddenham had been members of Cherry Smash who released a series of three mid-'60s singles.  While attending Portsmouth's Highbury College, together with drummer Graham Bowden, Christmas, Taylor, and Yearley had been members of Sons of Man, recording a number of mid-'60s demos. 

 

When Sons of Man called it quits in 1969, Christmas, Taylor, and Yearley hooked up with Hunt and Tudderhan to form Aubrey Small.  Within a couple of months Tuddenham had quit, replaced by former Lace guitarist Peter Pinckney.  

 

Based in the Portsmouth, England, the band's shows throughout the southern clubs scene began to draw attention, ultimately drawing the attention of Ronnie Scott who hired them to place at his nameplate London club.  Scott 's support attracted a publishing deal with Alan Keen and a management team under Pete Chips Chipperfield.  It also helped them attract big league attention in the form of BBC DJs Bob Harris and John Peel.  Both DJs began promoting the band, including five appearances on Harris' Sounds of the Seventies radio program.  Beyond regular dates at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club they started appearing at other name London clubs including The Marquee.  That brought them a series of opening dates for the likes of Hawkwind, Status Quo, and Robin Trower.

 

Signed by Polydor, in 1971 they went into London's Trident Recording Studios with producer John Anthony. With four of the five members contributing material to the album and each member having different musical interests, this was one of those album's that didn't suffer from a sounds-alike problem.  Having multiple strong vocalists in the form of Christmas, Hunt, Pinckney, and Taylor didn't hurt their cause either.  Exemplified by tracks like 'For My Lady', their ability to harmonize was another band strength.  With so many writers this is one of those albums where it's hard to pick out a distinctive sound.  Each member brought their influences to the mix including power-pop ('Trying To Find My Way')  pretty country-rock ballads ('For My Lady'), CSN-styled folk-rock ('Oh! What A Day It's Been'), psychedelia ('Country Road') and even Fab Four flashbacks ('Love On').  With so many strong tracks, it was had to pick out favorites, but I'd give the nod to the acid-tinged ballad 'Smoker Will Blow' and the rocker 'If I Were You'.  Another surprise was how tight these guys sounded.  For a band that had only been playing together for a couple of years and seldom outside of small clubs, they packed a wallop.  Highly melodic and quite commercial, you were left to wonder how this one was overlooked when so many less impressive collections attracted top-40 attention.   

 

The other thing I find remarkable about these guys is looking at the Facebook page and online presence, they somehow managed to stay friends for all the years after the band broke up.  That is so rare in the music industry where break-ups tend to resemble world wars.  They also seemed to have been spared the bitterness and regrets that so many bands hold on to,

 

An opening slot for Supertramp on a UK tour did little to support sales.  

 

Produced by Andy Stephens, the band's final release was a non-LP 45: 

 

- 1972's 'The Loser' b/w Oh, What a Day It's Been' (Polydor catalog number 2058 204)

 

With drummer Barry Shute replacing Hunt, the band struggled on through early 1973, before calling it quits.  And that was it for the next 28 years.  

 

 

  

"Aubrey Small" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Loser   (Peter Pinckney) - 3:22    rating: **** stars 

Perhaps the hardest rocking thing they ever recorded, 'The Loser' had one flaw - that being the treated lead vocals.  No idea why they thought the harsh effects were a good idea since the rest of the song was pretty impressive.  The original 1971 Polydor LP did not include 'The Loser.'  It was released as a subsequent non-LP 45.  

2.) Country Road   (Peter Pinckney) - 4:21   rating: **** stars 

The song title had me thinking along the lines of John Denver; instead what you got was an engaging, slightly lysergic Byrds-styled ballad with the addition of hypnotizing Eastern flavors.  Raga-styled guitars (don't think it was actually a sitar) gave it a real period charm.  In fact, the only complaint was the tune faded out too soon.

3.) Gardenia   (Alan Christmas) - 2:50    rating: **** stars 

Opening up with some pretty Rod Taylor keyboards, 'Gardenia' offered up a pretty, if stark ballad.  Not sure who handled the lead vocals, but I liked their clipped delivery.  As for the comparison with David Gates and Bread - well it's a ballad, but otherwise I don't hear the comparison.

4.) Trying To Find My Way   (Peter Pinckney - Rod Taylor) - 2:12    rating: **** stars 

Featuring some George Harrison-styled slide guitar, the bouncy, up-tempo 'Trying To Find My Way' came off as a mash-up of top-40 pop and Lindisfairne-styled country rock.  By all means it shouldn't have been very good, but the energetic vocals and great arrangement kicking the performance up a notch and should have made it a candidate for release as a single.

5.) For My Lady   (Graham Hunt) - 3:25   rating: *** stars

'For My Lady' was another pretty, country-rock tinged ballad.  The end-of-song horn arrangement and  harmony vocals were the main attractions on this one.

6.) It's Morning   (Peter Pinckney) - 4:02   rating: **** stars

Showcasing Manfred Mann's Mick Vickers' on Moog, 'It's Morning'  started out as a dark, ominous ballad, but the chorus lightened the vibe a bit.  Love the multiple guitars and the 'Hey Jude' styled build-up towards the end of the song.

7.) Why?  (Graham Hunt) -  2:29   rating: *** stars

Funny, but the harmonica powered ballad 'Why?' has always sounded like an American act.  Perhaps that's because the vocal reminds me  vaguely of the late Harry Nilsson.  

 

(side 2)

1.) Love On   (Peter Pinckney) - 4:20   rating: **** stars

It took a little while for the melody to click in, but when it did 'Love On' hit like a ton of bricks.  This was one of those tracks where the immense Richard Hewson (strings, horns, chorus) didn't drown the band out.  Perhaps it was the anthemic, lysergic-tinged harmonies, but this one reminded me a touch of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love.'

2.) Born To Be   (Peter Pinckney - Rod Taylor) - 3:24  rating: ** stars

The first disappointment, the old-timey sounding 'Born To Be' recalled a mash-up of Gilbert O'Sullivan and a bad Paul McCartney song.  

3.) If I Were You   (Graham Hunt ) - 3:19   rating: **** stars

Showcasing a dark, ominous melody, along with the band's guitar arsenal and wonderful harmonies, 'If I Were You' was a blazing ballad.  You also got a brief shot at Hunt's surprisingly powerful drumming.

In support of the Record Collectors reissue of their LP, in October 2013 Christmas, Taylor, and Yearley accompanied by Dave Allen, drummer George Francis, and bassist Mick McGuigan gave a performance at Portsmouth's Cellars.  As Taylor said, for what was only their second performance in forty years, they sounded pretty amazing.  One of the songs they performed was 'If I Were You: Aubrey Small - If I were you - YouTube

4.) Oh! What A Day It's Been   (Graham Hunt) - 3:04   rating: **** stars

The acoustic ballad 'Oh! What A Day It's Been' had kind of a Crosby, Stills & Nash vibe to it.  Well, CS&N had all three members been English. That comparison was furhter underscored by the jazzy arrangement.   Interesting lyrics and a beautiful melody made it one of the album's sleepers.   The track also appeared as the "B" side on their one and only 45.

5.) Smoker Will Blow   (Graham Hunt) - 3:08   rating: **** stars

The album's most interesting composition, 'Smoker Will Blow' reminds me of a Moody Blues track that had been soaked in acid overnight.  The beautiful melody and lysergic lyrics were wrapped in an amazing Richard Hewson arrangement which including a wall of strings, horns, bubbling synthesizers, and even a childrens' chorus.  Hard to accurate describe how bizarre this one is.

6.) Wonderful   (Alan Christmas) - 1:40   rating: **** stars

With a folk-rock flavor and some of the album's prettiest guitar work, the ballad 'Wonderful' was almost pastoral.  Shame it was such a short piece.

 

Hunt passed on in 1999 and two years later the English Elegy label reissued the album in CD format (catalog number E610/E611).  The Elegy pressing included the non-LP single 'The Loser.'   I'm not sure of the reissue's legal status as at least one band member seemingly threatened the label with legal action.

 

In 2006 the remaining members reunited to celebrate their 60th birthdays.  

 

 

In 2013 Record Collector Magazine reissued the LP in vinyl and CD format.  Reportedly 500 copies of the vinyl version were pressed.  The Record Collector release included 'The Loser' and the previously unreleased track 'Maybe Tomorrow.'  'The Loser was also reissued as a single included within the LP:

 

- 2013's 'The Loser' b/w 'Maybe Tomorrow' (Record Collection catalog number RCLP010)

 

 

 

 

The same year the Swedish Flawed Gems label released the collection in CD format (catalog number GEM 108.  

 

 

 

-Saved from being thrown in trash after drummer Hunt died, in 2015 the French Small label released "Radio Broadcasts"  (catalog number RL 01).  Pulled from the saved tapes and released in CD format, the collection featuring nine tracks pulled from the band's Sounds of the Seventies appearances on the BBC.

 

 

 

Unexpectedly the 75 year old David Yearley passed away in April 2021.

 

The band have a Facebook page at: Aubrey Small | Facebook

 

 

 

 

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