Paul Brett Sage

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1970-71)

- Paul Brett -- vocals,  guitar
- Dick Dufall --  bass
- Nicky Higginbottom -- flute, sax
- Bob Voice -- vocals, percussion


  line up 2  (1971-72)

- Paul Brett -- vocals,  guitar

- Stuart Cowell -- guitar
- Dick Dufall --  bass
- Nicky Higginbottom -- flute, sax
- Bob Voice -- vocals, percussion


  line up 3 (1972)

- Paul Brett -- vocals,  guitar

- Stuart Cowell -- lead guitar

- Dick Dufall -- bass

NEW - Rob Ebergard Young -- flute, keyboards, oboe (replaced 

  Nicky Higginbottom)


  supporting musicians: (1972)

- Rod Coombes -- drums 

- Dave Lambert -- keyboards

- Bob Voice -- percussion, backing vocals


  line up 4 (1972)

- Paul Brett -- vocals,  guitar

- Stuart Cowell -- lead guitar

- Dick Dufall -- bass

NEW - Mike Piggott -- bass, violin (replaced Stuart Cowell)

- Rob Ebergard Young -- flute, keyboards, oboe






- Australia Too (Stuart Cowell)

- The CVrazy World of Arthur Brown  (Paul Brett)

- The Warren Davis Monday Band (Stuart Cowell)

- Fire (Paul Brett, Dick Dufall and Bob Voice)

- Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera  (Paul Brett)

- Jon (Stuart Cowell)

- Mungo Jerry (Stuart Cowell)

- The Overlanders (Paul Brett)

- The Strawbs (Paul Brett and Stuart Cowell)

- Sweet Pain (Stuart Cowell)

- Tinturn Abbey  (Paul Brett)

- Titus Groan (Stuart Cowell)

- The Velvet Opera  (Paul Brett)





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Paul Brett Sage

Company: Janus

Catalog:  JLS 3026

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2247

Price: $75.00

By the time he formed Paul Brett Sage in 1970, namesake Brett had established an impressive pedigree, providing guitar for dozens of English acts including The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Lonnie Donegan, Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, The Flower Pot Men,  Fire, Roy Harper, The Ivy League, Ralph McTell.The Overlanders, Al Stewart, The Strawbs, Tinterm Abbey and The Velvet Opera.


Brett met bassist Dick Dufall and singer/percussionist Bob Voice in 1970  while both were in the band Fire, recording "The Magic Shoemaker".   Finding shared musical interests, the three decided to start their own outfit.  Recruiting multi-instrumentalist Nicky Higginbottom, the quartet started out as Paul Brett Sage.


Lots of club dates and some radio attention caught the attention of Pye Records which siigned them in the UK and throughout Europe.  In the States the band ended up with a distribution agreement on Janus Records (ensuring them instant obscurity).   Produced by Cyril Stapleton (Brett's sessions career included working with the The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra), 1970's "Paul Brett Sage" was an interesting hybrid of musical genres including conventional rock, English folk, jazz, and dollops of psychedelia.   Exemplified by tracks like '3D Mona Lisa', 'The Sun Died' and 'Little Aztec Prince' the album certainly had that late-'60s/early-'70s vibe I'm such a sucker for.   Brett was a first-rate guitarist, equally accomplished on acoustic and electric instruments (be sure to check out his performance on the closer 'The Warrior').   As one of two singers, he wasn't as commercial as percussionist Voice, but his gnarled voice probably had more character and you quickly acclimated to it.  The group was also interesting for the absence of a true drummer.  Vice provided percussion throughout and for the most part, the absence of a conventional drummer wasn't a problem.  Elsewhere Higginbottom added in  period flute and occasional sax, giving the collection a mild early Traffic feel.  The collection's secret sauce was bassist Dufall.  He wasn't showy, but his tuneful and nimble bass lines tied it all together.


"Paul Brett Sage" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) 3D Mona Lisa   (Bob Voice) -   rating: **** stars

If you were going to pick a tune that encapsulated English acid-fok, then '3D Mona Lisa' would be a good selection.  Starting out with Bret's acoustic guitar and Higginbottom's flute, it sounded like it was going to be another slice of sullen, self-indulgent folk, but suddenly blew up into a roaring, full-out rocker with an inspired fuzz lead guitar that ranks as one of the lost classic performances of the era.  Plus the chorus was just so damn catchy ...  The song was tapped as a single throughout Europe:


- 1970's 'Three D Mona Liza' bw 'Mediterranean Lazy Heat Wave' (Vogue catalog number PV 15339)


- 1970's 'Three D Mona Liza' bw 'Mediterranean Lazy Heat Wave' (Pye catalog number 14744 AT)


- 1970's 'Three D Mona Liza' bw 'Mediterranean Lazy Heat Wave' (Pye catalog number P.67.025)


- 1970's 'Three D Mona Liza' bw 'Mediterranean Lazy Heat Wave' (Pye catalog number 7N 17974)

YouTube has an amazing clip of the band performing the song for Italian television.  Their clearly lip synching and the sound quality is poor, but it's amazing this footage still exists: 

2.) The Sun Died   (Paul Brett) -   rating: **** stars

I've got to admit to being surprised at how much I enjoy the slightly ominous, acoustic ballad 'The Sun Died'.  Another tune with that classic English acid-folk vibe that I'm such a sucker for.  And if you ever wondered how a band could survive without a conventional drummer, check out the interface between  percussionist Bob Voice and the rest of the band.  

3.) Little Aztec Prince   (Bob Voice) -   rating: **** stars

Yeah, 'Little Aztec Prince' may have strayed into needlessly fey territory, but Voice certainly knew how to write an acid-tinged tune.  One of their prettiest tunes.  And you thought Al Stewart was the only artist who write historically-based pop songs ...  Brett had actually worked with Stewart.     

4.) Reason for Your Asking   (Paul Brett - Bob Voice) - 4:51  rating: *** stars

The album's only collaboration between Brett and Voice, 'Reason for Your Asking' was easily the set's most commercial and radio-friendly performance.  It was certainly a pretty tune, but the lyrics were a little heavy handed and the smothering instrumentation threatened to drown Brett's vocals and give  the song an unnecessary MOR-edge.  

The song was released as a single in the US and a couple of countries:


- 1971's ' 'Reason for Asking' b/w '3D Mona Lisa' (Janus catalog number J-129)

   New Zealand

- 1971's 'Reason for Asking' b/w 'The Sun Died' (Pye catalog number 7N 25508)


- 1971's 'Reason for Asking' b/w 'The Sun Died' (Pye catalog number PATS 7012) 

The song was also included on a UK-issued EP (see more information below).

5.) Trophies of War   (Paul Brett) -   rating: *** stars

As displayed on the opening section of  'Trophies of War', Brett's was an amazing 12 string player, but as mentioned earlier, the dense, Al Stewart-styled history-less-in-three-minutes probably had limited appeal for lots of folks.  Wonder how many hippies who picked this one up even knew what the reference to Verdun was about ...   


(side 2)
1.) The
Tower   (Paul Brett) -   rating: *** stars

Opening up with more of Brett's wonderful acoustic guitar and displaying some inspired Flamenco moves later in the song,, 'The Tower' found the group angling more towards Fairport Convention-styled folk-rock.  The genre was well suited to Brett's growling voice.

2.) The Pninter   (Paul Brett) - 

3.) Mediterranean Lazy Heat Wave   (Bob Voice)

4.) Warlock   (Paul Brett) -   rating: **** stars

The album's toughest song, 'Warlock' offered up a nice mixture of English folk and rock elements, including Brett's blazing acoustic and electric guitars.  




(As mentioned, 'Reason for Asking' was also released on a UK EP (Dawn catalog number DNX 2508)

(side 1)

1.) Reason for Your Askin'    (Bob Voice - Paul Brett) - 4:15

2.) Everlasting Butterfly   (Paul Brett) - 2:41


(side 2)

1.) Savannah Ladies   (Paul Brett) - 3:21

2.) To Every Man (Freedom)    (John Hutcheson) - 4:23


Making the group's discography even more convoluted, two of the EP tracks were released as an American promotional single:




- 1971's 'To Every Man (Freedom)' b/w 'Everlasting Butterfly (Janus catalog number J-158)


Brett has an interesting website at:







Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Schizophrenia

Company: Dawn

Catalog:  DHLS.3032

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: split cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $115.00


With Paul Brett and Elis Elias sharing production credits  1972's "Schizophrenia" found Brett and company shifting musical direction yet again.  Largely abandoning the folk and psychedelic shadings found on the previous "Jubilation Foundry" collection, this set found Brett turning up the rock quotient.  Yeah, there was still plenty of variety across these eleven tracks, but by my count half of the album could be tagged as rockers.  And that was one of the album's biggest surprises for me.  I always knew Brett was an accomplished guitarist, but here you got to see his full arsenal of tricks on both acoustic and electric guitars.  Those skills included power ('Custom Angel Man'), speed ('Slow Down Ma!') and melody ('Take Me Back and I Will Love You').  The other surprise was how likeable Brett's voice was. I tend to like singers with slightly gruff and ragged voices and Brett's performances on 'Custom ANgel Man' and 'Song of Life - Song of Death' fit the bill.  The funny thing was that he also revealed a lighter, more commercial sound on 'Savior of the World' and 'Make It Over'.   


Most folks seem to like the 1970 debut.  By a slim margin I'd give the nod to "Schizophrenia."


Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but the album title and cover photograph have always troubled me. The photo image of a dirt covered older guy drinking out of a beat-up cup almost seemed almost uncaring.  Perhaps I'm looking at it the wrong way and should see this as an attempt to shed light on one of mankind's many crippling diseases ...  Too politically correct perhaps?


"Schizophrenia" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Custom Angel Man   (Paul Brett) - 2:34   rating: **** stars

Bretts growling lead guitar and rugged voice are the stars in the opening blues-rocker 'Custom Angel Man'  I also found the lyrics interesting.   I have no idea when or where it was filmed, but YouTube has a live studio performance of the song.  Note the studio version is much better as the focus was on Brett's guitar whereas the live version featured and irritating Mike Piggott violin introduction.  The album version keeps the focus on Brett's guitar and is way better.   The song was also released as a French 45:





- 1972's 'Custom Angel Man' b/w 'Song of Life - Song of Death' (Pye catalog number 45 PY 4548)







2.) Charlene   (John Hutcheson) - 3:06   rating: **** stars

The twin lead guitar opening has always reminded me of something from The Allman Brothers' catalog.  In fact The Allmans were a good comparison for the county-rock tinged 'Charlene' - well if they'd been born and raised in London rather than Georgia.  Actually the Allmans' never came up with a refrain that was as catchy as 'Charlene'.   Nice to see Brett was committed to long term relationships.  LOL.  Surprising it wasn't released as a single.

3.) Song of Life - Song of Death   (John Hutcheson) - 2:45   rating: **** stars

Typically you wouldn't equate an early-'70s UK band like Paul Brett's Sage with the descriptor "funky".   Well  let me tell you 'Song of Life - Song of Death' was one of those rare exceptions.   YouTube has a fascinating live performance filmed for French television.  Warning it's in black and white and yes there's a brief violin solo: 

4.) Slow Down Ma!   (John Hutcheson) - 2:58   rating: *** stars

I can't say I particularly liked 'Slow Down Ma!' but the song was interesting from the perspective of hearing the band go from sixty to zero and back again.  Strawbs drummer Rod Coombes guested on the song.

5.) Savior of the World   (John Hutcheson) - 3:39   rating: **** stars

One of five songs written by John Hutcheson, 'Savior of the World' showcased the band's nice group harmonies and struck me as being the album's most radio-friendly melody.  The surprising non-secular lyrics ensured top-40 radio wouldn't get near it.

Here's another live clip from French television: 

6.) Limp Willie (instrumental)   (Dick Duffal - Stuart Cowell) - 1:41   rating: *** stars

Geez, hopefully it wasn't just me, but did the opening chords of 'Limp Willie' remind you of The Eagles' 'Life In the Fast Lane'?   The lone Duffal and Cowell contribution to songwriting chores, the  rest of this instrumental was little more than formulaic country-rock, but the main guitar riff ...  Geez it sure sounded like The Eagles.


(side 2)

1.) Tale of a Rainy Night   (Paul Brett) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

'Tale of a Rainy Night' was a very pretty acoustic ballad with some nice acoustic guitar work and the band's sweet CS&N-styled group vocals.

2.) Take Me Back and I Will Love You   (John Hutcheson) - 4:13   rating: **** stars

'Take Me Back and I Will Love You' trotted out the electric instrumentation upping the energy level considerably.   Initially spotlighting Brett's beautiful electric guitar the song started out as a spare ballad but gradually built up speed, accompaniment and energy as it went along.  Always loved the call and response title refrains.

3.) Autumn   (Paul Brett) - 4:33   rating: *** stars

Showcasing Rob Young on flute and oboe, 'Autumn' sounded like something from one of the earlier albums.  Pretty, CS&N-styled but non-consequential ballad.

4.) Make It Over   (Goddard - Philips) - 3:10   rating: *** stars

Brett's voice was always kind of a hit-or-miss thing for me, but on the country-tinged ballad 'Make It Over' he actually sounded really good.  Again, the song was just kind of pro-forma, but the vocals were very sweet.

5.) Bee (instrumental)   (Paul Brett) - 1:01   rating: *** stars

The album ended with a short instrumental showcasing Brett's dexterity on 12 string acoustic guitar.   Sounding almost medieval in flavor, shame it wasn't longer.