Paul Brett Sage
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1970-71)
Brett -- vocals, guitar
line up 2 (1971-72)
- Paul Brett -- vocals, guitar
Cowell -- guitar
- Fire (Dick Dufall and Bob Voice)
- Sweet Pain (Stuart Cowell)
- Titus Groan (Stuart Cowell)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Paul Brett Sage
Country/State: London, UK
Grade (cover/record): NM/NM
Comments: sealed copy
Catalog ID: 2247
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.
Brett Sage" track listing:
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHsGpPPalHM
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)
- 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 ...
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)
1.) Reason for Your Askin' (Bob Voice - Paul Brett) - 4:15
2.) Everlasting Butterfly (Paul Brett) - 2:41
1.) Savannah Ladies (Paul Brett) - 3:21
2.) To Every Man (Freedom) (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: http://www.paulbrettguitarist.co.uk/paul-bretts-sage/
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