Band members Related acts
- Mo Foster - bass (1969-71)
- Linda Hoyle - vocals (1969-71)
- Mike Jopp -- guitar (1969-71)
- Vivienne McAuliffe (RIP 1998)- vocals (replaced
Linda Hoyle) (1971)
- Lynton Naiff -- keyboards, virbaphone (1969-71)
- Grant Serpell - drums, percussion (1969-71)
- David Watts - keyboards (replaced Lynton Naiff) (1971)
- Mo Foster (solo efforts)
- Linda Hoyle (solo efforts)
- Ice (Lynott Naiff and Grant Serpell)
- Killing Floor (Lynton Naiff)
- Principal Edwards Magic Theatre (Vivienne McAuliffe)
- Sailor (Grant Serpell)
- Toe Fat (Lynton Naiff)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Catalog: PAS 5027
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: minor ring and edge wear; gatefold sleeve
GEMM catalog ID: 4940
With horn-based rock bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chase and Chicago enjoying massive late-1960s commercial successes, it was only naturally that record companies all over the world would begin signing any group of folks holding brass instruments. If nothing else, statistics would dictate that on occasion someone with actual talent would get signed to a recording deal and in this instance the Vertigo label had the numbers on their side. (Paramount acquired US distribution rights.)
Affinity traces its roots back to the mid-1960s when Lynton Naiff, Nick Nicholas and Grant Serpell met while attending Sussex University. The three discovered a common interest in jazz, forming The US Jazz Trio. When Serpell graduated fellow student Mo Foster took over the drums. Graduating themselves, Naiff and Serpell recorded a pair of singles with the Sussex-based pop outfit Ice, before deciding to return to a more jazz-oriented sound. Auditions added English teacher/singer Linda Hoyle and former Tridents guitarist Mike Jopp to the fold (Jopp had previously replaced Jeff Beck in The Tridents). Jopp's addition had another benefit in that his father agreed to finance the purchase of instruments for the group.
With their line up in place the band spent several month rehearsing and settling on the name Affinity. They made their public debut at a October 1968 performance at Ronnie Scott's London Revolution Club. Scott signed them on as house band and quickly became their manager.
Showcasing the talents of bassist Mo Foster, singer Linda Hoyle, guitarist Mike Jopp, keyboard player Lynton Naiff and former Ice drummer Grant Serpell, 1970's John Anthony produced "Affinity" is actually pretty entertaining. It's far better than the critics careless 'jazz rock' label would have you expect and while the horns undoubtedly put off lots of potential listeners, they're kept largely under control throughout the seven tracks. Instead the primary focus was on the attractive and talent Ms. Hoyle and to a lesser degree Naiff's keyboards (betcha thought I was going to say 'Naiff's organ') and Jopp's tasty guitar (check out his work on 'Three Sisters'). That's not to say I don't understand where the critics were coming from. Musically the collection shared some common ground with the likes of Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll, though thankfully without the irritating jazz influences favored by the former. I've also read comparisons to Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane though I don't really hear it. Hoyle certainly had a nice voice that shared the same crystalline delivery, but anyone expecting to hear West Coast-styled psych would be grossly disappointed by these measured performances. So what are the highlights? Well, to my ears Hoyle and company were at their best on the more focused, rock-oriented tracks like 'I Am and So Are You' and 'Night Flight'. On the downside, they turn in one of the worst Hendrix-does-Dylan covers I've ever heard (a seemingly endless 'All Along the Watchtower'). Vertigo also tapped the album for a UK-only single: 1970's 'I Wonder If I Care As Much' b/w 'Three Sisters' (Vertigo catalog number 6059 007).
LP inner sleeve
"Affinity" track listing:
1.) I Am and So Are You (Alan Hull) - 3:30
2.) Night Flight (Mike Jopp - Linda Hoille) - 7:15
3.) I Wonder If I Care As Much (Don Everly - Phil Everly) - 3:19
4.) Mr. Joy (A. Peacock) - 5:03
2.) Cocoanut Grove (sic) (John Sebastian - Zal Yanovsky) - 2:45
3.) All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - 11:37
Credited to Linda Hoyle and Affinity, there's also a 1970 English non-LP single: 'Eli's Coming' b/w 'United States Of Mind' (Vertigo catalog number 6059 018).
Having begun sessions for a follow-on album and an American tour, in early 1971 Hoyle and Naiff both handing in their resignations.
The survivors subsequently recruited ex-Principal Edwards Magic Theatre singer Vivienne McAuliffe and former Tornados keyboardist Dave Watts as replacements. The new line recorded some demos and actively toured, but didn't release another effort until some thirty years later when the small Angel label reissued the original LP with the inclusion of the single and five previously unreleased tracks, including two new instrumentals recorded by Foster and Jupp ("Affinity 1971 - 1972" - Angel catalog number SPJCD145).
I've never heard it, but Hoyle subsequently released what's become a high priced collectable solo effort ("Pieces of Me"). Naiff reappeared in a number of bands, including Killing Floor and Toe Fat. Foster became an in-demand sessions player and also recorded as a solo act. Serpell enjoyed some commercial success as a member of Sailor.
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