Artwoods, The


Band members                         Related acts

- Reg Dunnage -- drums (1963-64)

- Derek Griffiths -- guitar (1963-67)

- Keef Hartley -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Reg Dunnage) (1964-67)
- Jon Lord --  keyboards  (1963-67)

- Malcolm Pool -- bass( 1964-67)

- Art Wood (RIP 2006) -- vocals (1963-67)

 

 

The Blackheart Band (Derek Griffiths)

- Red Bludd's Bluesicians (Derek Griffiths and Jo Lord)

- Blues Incorporated (Art Wood)

- Colosseum (Malcolm Pool)

- The Mike Cotton Sound (Derek Griffiths

- Deep Purple (Jon Lord)

- Dog Soldier (Derek Griffiths and Keef Hartley)

- Downliners Sect (Art Woods)

- Keith Hartley Band

- Jon Lord (solo efforts)

- John Mayall (Keef Hartley)

- The Don Partridge Band (Malcolm Pool)

- Quiet Melon (Art Wood)

- The Roadrunners (Malcolm Poole)

- Santa Barbara Machinehead (Jon Lord)

- Satisfaction (Derek Griffiths

- St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Derek Griffiths,

  Keef Hartley, Jon Lord, Malcolm Pool and Art Wood)

- Rory Storm & The Hurricanes (Keef Hartley)

- Whitesnake (Jon Lords)

 

 

 


 

Genre: blues-rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Art Gallery

Company: Decca Elcipse

Catalog: 78417482 1W
Year: 1969

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: stereo pressing; minor ring wear on back cover

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5642

Price: $250.00

 

These guys weren't particularly well known in the States (nor the UK for that matter).  Driven by the same R&B that inspired The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, The Rolling Stones, and countless other early-1960s British bands, the group came together in 1963.   Singer/front man/namesake Art Wood (Ronine Wood was his younger brother), had previously served as a backup singer for Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and fronted his own swing and blues group - The Art Wood Combo.

 

Interested in a more rock-oriented approach in 1963 Wood decided to form a new band recruiting drummer Reg Dunnage, lead guitarist Derek Griffiths and keyboard player Jon Lord (the latter two from Red Bludd's Bluesicians).  The following year they added Roadrunners bassist Malcolm Pool, replacing Dunnage with former Rory Storm & The Hurricanes drummer Rory Storm and adopting The Artwoods moniker.  Club dates made the group a popular staple on the London club circuit, including a long term residence at London's 100 Club.  The resulting publicity in turn led to a contract with Decca Records.

 

 

Over the next two years the group released a string of R&B oriented singles that attracted critical attention, but did nothing commercially:

 

- 1964's 'Sweet Mary' b/w 'If I Ever Get My Hands On You' (Decca catalog number F 12015)

- 1965's 'Oh My Love' b/w 'Big City' (Decca catalog number F 12091)

- 1965's 'Goodbye Sisters' b/w 'She Knows What To Do' (Decca catalog number F 12206)

- 1966's 'I Take What I Want' b/w 'I'm Looking For A Saxophonist Doubling French Horn Wearing Size 37 Boots' (Decca catalog number F 12384) 

 

They continued to play clubs and toured throughout England and the continent, opening for the likes of pop star Petula Clark and US blues singer Mae Mercer.  1966 also saw Decca finance a four track French EP - "Jazz In Jeans" (Decca catalog number DFE 8654).  Featuring three plodding pop-oriented covers and a boring original ('Routine'), the group were apparently reluctant to release the set fearing they'd be labeled sell outs.

 

 

"Jazz In Jeans" track listing:

- These Boots Are Made for Walking

- A Taste of Honey

- Our Man Flint (instrumental)

- Routine

 

 

In spite of their poor sales, Decca allowed the band the record an album in 1966.  Featuring a set of ten cover tunes, "Art Gallery" aptly showcased the band's American R&B and soul roots, though the emphasis had clearly shifted from hardcore blues to a more commercial soul orientation.  To be honest Wood didn't have the greatest voice you've ever heard and it took awhile for me to appreciate his talents.  That said, his technical limitations were largely compensated for by the band's rugged repertoire and enthusiastic delivery which simply wouldn't have benefited from a technically sophisticated singer.  The other things these guts had going for them were energetic performances (they must have been a blast to hear in a small club), and an ear for arrangements that were bluesy, but at the same time far more commercial and catchy than their competitors.  At least to my ears, most mid-1960s R&B covers by English bands were just plain dull - Burden, Jagger, Korner, etc. desperately wanted to sound like 70 year old blues guys, but simply couldn't pull it off.  Woods made no attempt to follow that path.  He clearly knew his limitations and made the most of his talents.   Doubt that comment then show me a blues or soul performance by The Animals, The Stones, or The Yardbirds that was anywhere near as much fun as their covers of  'Can You Hear Me?',  'Things Get Better', or 'Keep Lookin''.  Moreover the rest of the band weren't exactly slackers.  Though he was somewhat overshadowed by Lord's keyboards, guitarist Griffiths was a gifted player turning who turned in some tasteful performances on tracks like the fuzz propelled 'Things Get Better' and the instrumental 'Be My Lady'.  Hartley's performances bordered on the manic - check out 'I Keep Forgettin''.  Pool was a solid and innovative player throughout the set.  Check out his performance on 'Down In the Valley'.  Finally, similar to Alan Price's role in The Animals, Lord's keyboard flourishes were innovative and prominent throughout the collection.  Like Price, he brought a slight-jazz flavor to a couple of the performances including the instrumental 'Walk On the Wild Side'.  I'll readily admit this one was a major surprise to me.  Given their roots I was expecting to hear stuff more in keeping with the Korner-Mayall school of British blues ...  deadly serious, plodding, and dull.  No way.  This is easily one of the best British blues LPs in my collection and you have to wonder what they might have done had they included some original material on the album.  

 

 

"Art Gallery" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Can You Hear Me?   (Allen Toussaint) - 

2.) Down In the Valley   (Solomon Burke - Bert Berns) - 

3.) Things Get Better   (Steve Cropper - Eddie Floyd - Al Jackson) - 

4.) Walk On the Wild Side (instrumental)   (Bernstein - David) - 

5.) I Keep Forgettin'   (Leiber - Stoller) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) Keep Lookin'   (Burke - Burke) - 

2.) Be My Lady   (Steve Cropper - Donald Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Jones) - 

3.) If You Gotta Make a Fool Out of Somebody   (Rudy Clarke) - 

4.) Stop and Think It Over   (Nat Jones) - 

5.) Don't Cry No More   (D. Malone) - 

 

 

The collection sold poorly in the UK, though it did better throughout the rest of Europe; notably in Denmark where they actually had a large and enthusiastic fan base.  Following one last non-LP single ('I Feel Good' b/w 'Molly Anderson's Cookery Book' (Decca catalog number F 12465) they were dropped by Decca.

 

They rebounded with a contract with Parlophone, but that relationship only saw one 45 released:

 

- 1967's 'What Shall I Do' b/w 'In The Deep End' (Parlophone catalog number R 5590)

 

In 1967 while fulfilling an earlier contractual obligation to tour Denmark the group decided to call it quits.  Returning to the UK they discovered they'd been signed to another one-shot contract with Fontana.  Rather than release another Artwoods product, the resulting single was credited to St. Valentine's Day Massacre:

 

 

- 1967's 'Buddy Can You Spare A Dime' b/w 'Al's Party' (Fontana catalog number TFF883)

 

 

After the band's official breakup Griffiths became a member of The Mike Cotton Sound which then morphed into Satisfaction.  He worked with former Zombie Colin Blunstone and then in 1975 reuniting with Hartley in Dog Soldier.

 

Hartley reappeared as a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.  Fired by Mayall, he formed The Keef Hartley Band recording a series of early and mid-1970s album, and then formed Dog Soldier (which included guitarist Griffiths).  That was followed by several years in Australia where he worked with Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. Returning to the UK he was a member of The Rocky Horror Show Band, and he then formed The Blackheart Band with ex-Frank'n'Furter Ziggy Byfield.

 

Lord hit the big time as a member of Deep Purple and then Whitesnake.  He's also done some solo work.

 

Poole played with Colosseum and The Don Partridge Band.

 

Wood was in the short-lived Quiet Melon.  In the 1980s and 1990s he was part of a revived Downliners Sect.  He subsequently dropped out of music focusing on a graphics design business and died in November 2006.

 

 

A direct result of the late 1960s successes Hartley and Lord were enjoying in their post-Artwoods careers, in 1970 Decca elected to reissue the album on the budget Eclipse label.  The reissue featured new packaging and included two additional tracks: covers of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' 'One More Heartache' and a fabulous version of The Neville Brothers' 'Work, Work, Work' (check out Griifth's guitar and Poole's bass).  You can see my album review comments on the original release above.

 

Art Gallery" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Can You Hear Me?   (Allen Toussaint) - 

2.) Down In the Valley   (Solomon Burke - Bert Berns) - 

3.) Things Get Better   (Steve Cropper - Eddie Floyd - Al Jackson) - 

4.) Walk On the Wild Side (instrumental)   (Bernstein - David)

5.) I Keep Forgettin'   (Leiber - Stoller) - 

6.) Keep Lookin'   (Burke - Burke) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) One More Heartache   (Smokey Robinson - White - Moore - Rogers - Tarplin)

2.) Work, Work, Work   (N. Neville) - 

3.) Be My Lady (instrumental)   (Steve Cropper - Donald Duck Dunn - Al Jackson - Jones) - 

4.) If You Gotta Make a Fool Out of Somebody   (Rudy Clarke) - 

5.) Stop and Think It Over   (Nat Jones) - 

6.) Don't Cry No More   (D. Malone) - 

 

 

For a group that didn't exactly set the world on fire there are quite a few posthumous releases:

 

 

- 1973's "The Artwoods" (Spark Records catalog number SRLP 2006): The Spark package featured eight songs from the original "Art Gallery" LP and three tracks from the "Jazz In Jeans" EP.  In case anyone cared, the missing track from the EP was 'These Boots Are Made for Walking'.

 

- 1983's "100 Oxford Street" (Edsel catalog number LP-107): This 16 track compilation pulled together all of the singles ('A' and 'B' sides) with the curious exception of 'Molly Anderson's Cookery Book'.  It was rounded out by seven tracks from the original "Art Gallery" LP.   The album included a four page insert and Art Wood prepared the liner notes.

 

- 1995's "Art Gallery"  (Repertoire catalog number REP 4533):  Here you got the original LP plus 14 additional cuts.  The additional material reflected all four tracks from "Jazz In Jeans" and most of the singles.  Missing in action were a couple of tracks like 'Oh My Love' and 'Molly Anderson's Cookery Book'.  You'd think that one of these retrospectives would get the whole catalog ...

 

- 2000's "Artwoods Singles A's and B's" (Repertoire catalog number REP 4887):  Here you get 18 tracks comprising all seven singles, plus the four tracks off the "Jazz In Jeans" EP. 

 

- "Begin Here - Live In Wales 1964" (Traces catalog number AD2067): This one has the most interesting history.  It was recorded in 1964 by an American Air Force employee stationed in the UK.  A big fan, he asked the band for permission to tape one of their shows.  With their approval the recording was done on a reel to reel tape recorder.  Copies of the tape were given to several band members, who then passed them on to others, and lo-and-behold you've suddenly got a bootleg album on the street.  Be forewarned, the sound quality is pretty rough.

 

 

I've never seen or heard it, but there's also supposedly an unreleased album entitled "Zetas Twigs".  I've only seen one write up which describes it as 'a mix of R&B, music Hall and Art's zany Goon Show type of humour.'

 

 

 

 

 

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