Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1967-69)
- Mike Candler -- drums, percussion
- Graham Harris -- bass
- Clive 'Alfie' Shepherd - -lead guitar
- Dave Smith -- rhythm guitar
- Paul Smith -- vocals
line up 2 (1969-71)
NEW - John Cartwright -- rhythm guitar, trumpet (replaced
- Mike Candler -- drums, percussion
- Graham Harris -- bass
- Clive 'Alfie' Shepherd -- lead guitar
- Paul Smith -- vocals
- The Johnny Coppin Band (Mike Candler)
- Decameron (Mike Candler)
- Wesley Hardin's Shotgun Package
- The Machine (Mike Candler)
- The Roll Machine (Mike Candler and Graham Harris)
- Alfie Shepherd (solo efforts)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Angel Pavement
Company: Tenth Planet
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 175
I'm constantly amazed at the amount of quality music that gets shelved, at the same time mindless commercial product gets dumped on the market. York's Angel Pavement stands as a perfect example of the phenomenon, though in this case the band actually did garner some recognition - admittedly some three decades after they broke up.
Angel Pavement publicity shot
Formed in York, the band came together in late 1967 featuring lead guitarist Clive 'Alfie' Shepherd, vocalist Dave Smith and rhythm guitarist Paul Smith from the soul oriented Wesley Hardin's Shotgun Package and drummer Mike Candler and bassist Graham Harris from The Roll Machine. Named after a 1930 J.B. Priestley novel, Angel Pavement attracted some local attention with their blend of pop covers and original material. The band recorded some local demos, but their big break came when they caught the attention of former Smoke member Geoff Gill who had recently shifted his attention to production work. Working for Monty Babson's newly established Morgan Studios, Gill invited the band to London and recorded a series of demos with the group. In the meantime Angels Pavement hit the London club circuit where they caught the attention of a Mexican hotel chain owner who offered them a chance to work in Mexico. The band jumped at the opportunity, spending the first half of 1969 in Mexico. Plans to tour the US were shelved when the band couldn't get working visas due in part to Candler's age (he was only 17 at the time). Returning to the UK, guitarist Smith quit and was eventually replaced by former Roll Machine guitarist John Cartwright. The band also resumed working with producer Gill, recording material during off-hours for a planned album - tentatively entitled "Socialising with Angel Pavement". In the meantime Fontana Records signed the band releasing a pair of instantly obscure singles:
- 1969's 'Baby You've Gotta Stay' b/w 'Green Mello Hill' (Fontana catalog number TF 1059
- 1970's 'Tell Me What I've Got to Do' b/w 'When Will I See June Again' (Fontana catalog number TF 1072)
And then the wheels came off the truck. Morgan Studios went belly-up and issues with management, combined with changing popular musical tastes left the band's pop-psych repertoire seemingly out of date to Fontana management which dropped the group from its recording contract and shelved all of their previously recorded material where it sat until 2003 and Tenth Planet's release of "Angel Pavement".
About all I can say is it's unfortunate it took four decades for these guys to get their collective moments in the sun. While I can see why their sound may have already sounded a bit dated in 1969, the fact of the matter is that most of these 15 tracks were quite impressive, bringing together a nice mixture of pop and psych influences ... its a classic set of toytown psych. Smith certainly had a nice enough voice; particularly when he avoided using his falsetto (I'd suggest staying away from the ballad 'Little Old Man') and Shepherd and Cartwright were seemingly talented guitarists, providing nice acoustic touches to tracks like 'Time Is Upon Us' and 'Napoleon'. That said, much of the band's charm reflected producer Gill's studio handling and occasional songwriting contributions.
Pavement" track listing:
1. The Man In The Shop On The Corner (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: **** stars
Opening up with a somewhat tortured arrangement, it took a little while for 'The Man In The Shop On The Corner' to kick into gear, but when it is, the band's pop-psych charms were on full display - jangle guitar, sweet power-pop harmonies, and classic '60s social commentary. The Mexican-flavored horns only added to the song's glistening charm.
2. Maybe Tomorrow (Tom Evans) rating: **** stars
There's a Badfinger website out there that explains how these guys stumbled across this Iveys' song - drummer Candler's sister bought a copy of The Iveys album and supposedly suggested 'Maybe Tomorrow' would be a good song for the band to cover. They worked up an arrangement and producer Gill concurred with the decision to record the song. In fact it was originally scheduled to be their third single after plans to release 'I'm Moving On' fell apart over disagreements on how to mix the track. Curiously, the opening sounded like it had been stripped off of the Terry Kath introduction to Chicago's "25 of 6 To 4", but then the band's trademarked harmonies kicked in and the song returned to the original melody line. Personally I like the Iveys original better, but only by a slim margin.
3. Time Is Upon Us (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: *** stars
A pretty enough ballad with some gorgeous acoustic guitar work, the problem with 'Time Is Upon Us' was that it simply never kicked into gear. Every time I hear the song I keep expecting a hook to kick in ... rating: *** stars
4. Green Mello Hill (Danny Beckerman) - rating: **** stars
Opening up with some weird studio effects, 'Green Mello Hill' captured the band at their most psychedelic. The song had a distinct pop flavor, but given the speed-of-sound delivery and the frenetic horn arrangement, you got the impression they may have been zonked on amphetamines when recording the track.
5. Little Old Man (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: ** stars
The first disappointment, 'Little Old Man' was a painful ballad. Vocalist Paul Smith sounded very uncomfortable croaking along in a fractured falsetto, while the song itself suffered from some hideously fey lyrics, a lousy melody, and needless instrumentation. It also seemed to go on and on and on ... Yech. rating: ** stars
6. When Will I See June Again (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: **** stars
Originally the 'B' side on their second 45, 'When Will I See June Again' was a harpsichord-powered mid-tempo rocker. Maybe due to the harpsichord instrumentation the song's always reminded me a bit of The Left Banke. The harpsichord, combined with Candler's powerhouse drumming, and the band's tight harmony vocals gave the song a wonderful power-pop flavor. Very nice.
7. Genevieve (Mike Candler - Mal Spence) - rating: **** stars
Co-written by drummer Candler and band manager Mal Spence, the ballad 'Genevieve' was one of the album's most straightforward commercial efforts. Simply gorgeous and would have sounded great on top-40 radio (even in 1972).
1.) Water Woman (Jay Ferguson) - rating: *** stars
The band were known for including West Coast psych band covers by acts like The Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Love, and Moby Grape in their live performances here and they turned in a credible version of Spirit's 'Water Woman'. In fact, I think you could make the argument their version was even catchier than the somewhat chaotic Spirit original. Love the counter harmonies that show up about half way through the tune (guess that's what you call them).
2.) Napoleon (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: **** stars
'Napoleon' opened up with some nifty jangle guitar, Graham Harris' understated bass, and punchy Cartwright trumpet. Musically this one's always reminded me of something Davy Jones and the Monkees might have recorded when they were starting to spread their artistic wings. Catchy, but with a distinctive psych edge to it ...
3.) Socialising (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: *** stars
Intended as the title track for their planned album, 'Socialising' (their spelling), started out as a pretty, measured ballad and gradually picked up speed and energy.
4.) Jennifer (Cliff Wade) - rating: **** stars
Penned by former Roll Machine front man Cliff Wade, 'Jennifer' was clearly written with commercial aspirations. Imagine a good Graham Nash-era Hollies tune and you'd have a feel for what this one sounded like. Classic mid-1960s English pop, that just happened to be released in 1970.
5.) Carrie (Geoff Gill) - rating: **** stars
Penned by producer Gill, 'Carrie' was an equally catchy slice of top-40 pop and like 'Jennifer' sounded a bit dated, though it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
6.) I'm A Dreamer (Alfie Shepherd) rating: *** stars
The bouncy, hyper speed ' I'm A Dreamer' sounded like something they'd written early in their career - almost beat band-ish, though the ending was a bit too cute for my taste.
7.) Baby You've Gotta Stay (Danny Beckerman) - rating: *** stars
Opening with a Baroque flavor, 'Baby You've Gotta Stay' then exploded into a roaring slice of toytown pop. Great song which would have been even better if they'd stripped aware some of the orchestration.
8.) I'm Moving On (Alfie Shepherd) - rating: **** stars
Completely different from anything else in their repertoire, 'I'm Moving On' had a cool country-rock flavor that scores of pub rockers would mimic in coming years. With one of the album's prettiest melodies and some great B.J. Cole pedal steel guitar this was planned as their third single, but arguments between Shepherd and produce Gill saw the project shelved. Shame since this could have been their breakout single.
Released in 2005 by the Wooden Hill label, the CD release (catalog number WHCD014), has different artwork and includes an additional eight tracks, including five early demos the band recorded.
1.) Tell Me What I've Got To Do (Danny Beckerman - Geoff Gill) -
2.) Phantasmagonia (Malcolm Spence) -
3.) Rooftop Memories (David Smith) -
4.) Tootsy Wootsy Feelgood (Graham Harris) -
5.) Flying On the Ground Is Wrong (Neil Young) -
6.) Five Sisters (Alfie Shepherd) -
7.) Desperate Dan (Alfie Shepherd) -
8.) I'm Moving On (Alfie Shepherd) -
Also worth mentioning, in 1969 front man Shepherd recorded a solo effort that was also shelved for some four decades - "The Wind and the Willows" (Wooden Hill catalog number WHCD023).
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