Circus


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1961-64) as Phillip Goodhand-Tait & The Stormsville

  Shakers

- Paul Demers -- drums, percussion

- Kirk Riddle -- bass

- Ivor Shackleton -- lead guitar

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 2 (1964) 

- Paul Demers -- drums, percussion

NEW - Steve Howard -- sax

- Kirk Riddle -- bass

- Ivor Shackleton -- lead guitar

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 3 (1964-65) 

NEW - Dick Forcey -- drums, percussion (replaced Paul Demers)

- Steve Howard -- sax

NEW - Peter ‘Greg’ Macgregor -  sax

- Kirk Riddle -- bass

- Ivor Shackleton -- lead guitar

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 4 (1965-66) 

- Dick Forcey -- drums, percussion 

NEW - Tony Hurley -- sax (replaced Steve Howard) 

- Peter ‘Greg’ Macgregor -  sax

- Kirk Riddle -- bass

- Ivor Shackleton -- lead guitar

NEW - Dave Sherrington -- sax

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 5 (1966-67) 

NEW - Mel Collins -- sax (replaced Peter Macgreg0=or)

- Dick Forcey -- drums, percussion 

- Tony Hurley -- sax 

- Kirk Riddle -- bass

- Ivor Shackleton -- lead guitar

- Dave Sherrington -- sax

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait -- vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 6 (1967-69)  as Circus

NEW - Alan Bunn -- drums, percussion

- Mel Collins -- sax, vocals

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Ian Jeffs -- lead guitar, vocals

- Kirk RIddle -- bass

 

  line up 6 (1969) 

NEW - Chris Burrows -- drums, percussion (replaced Alan Bunn)

- Mel Collins -- sax, vocals

- Ian Jeffs -- vocals, lead guitar

- Kirk RIddle -- bass

 

 

 

 

- 21st Century Schizoid Band (Mel Collins)

- Alice (Ian Jeffs)

- Rey Anton and The Pro Form (Chris Burrows)

- Bryon Band (Mel Collins)

- Camel (Mel Collins)

- Mel Collins (solo efforts)

- Fission Trip (Mel Collins)

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait (solo efforts)

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait & The Stormsville Shakers

- King Crimson (Mel Collins)

- Alexis Korner & Snape (Mel Collins)

- Kokomo (Mel Collins)

- M.O.T.U.S (Ian Jeffs)

- Snafu (Mel Collins)

- The Stormsville/Stormville Shakers

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: jazz-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Circus

Company: Transatlantic

Catalog: TRA 207
Year:
 1968

Country/State: Guildford, Surrey UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1674

Catalog ID: 1

Price: $180.00

 

All but unknown in the States, Circus can trace its roots to Phillip Goodhand-Tait & The Stormsville Shakers.   Fronted by singer/keyboardist Goodhand-Tait, that outfit formed in 1961; going through various line-up changes until 1967.

 

The band's initial line-up featured Goodhand-Tait, along with drummer Pauk Demers, bassist Kirk Riddle, and guitarist Ivor Shackleton.  In 1966 they were signed by Parlophone, releasing a pair of enjoyable '50s R&B-influenced  singles:

- 1966' 'I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt On You' b/w 'It's a Lie' '(Parlophone catalog number R 5498)

- 1966's 'No Problem' b/w 'What More Do You Want' (Parlophone catalog number R 5498)

 

Also popular in France, they released a four track EP and a single.  For some reason their French material was credited to The Stormsville Shakers.

- 1966's "Number One" (Odeon catalog number MEO 148)

- 1966's 'Number One' b/w 'L'amour Se Lisait Dans Ses Yeux' (Odeon catalog number FOS 109)

 

By 1967 Goodhand-Tait had reached the conclusion he needed to make some wholesale changes., The Stormsville Shakers, morphing into Circus. 

 

Circus debuted with a pair of 1967 singles:

- 1967's 'Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday' b/w 'Sink of Swim' (Parlophone catalog number R 5633)

- 1967's 'Do You Dream?' b/w 'House of Wood' (Parlophone catalog number R 5672)

 

The first single was also released in the States:

- 1968's 'Gone Are The Songs Of Yesterday' b/w 'Sink of Swim' (USA catalog number 903)

 

Showcasing Goodhand-Tait's raspy voice, 'Gone are the Songs of Yesterday' introduced some lysergic-tinged folk into their catalog, while 'Do You Dream' was almost a slice of toy-town psych.  In contrast 'Sink of Swim' was a pounding slice of blue-eyed soul that would have sounded right at home in The Stormsville Shakers catalog.

 

In a spectacularly case of bad timing, in January 1969 Goodhand-Tait decided to leave the band in favor of a solo career.  His decision came  a couple of months before the band was scheduled to start working at London's Marquee Club. Guitarist Ian Jeffs stepped into vocalist role and within a couple of months the band had scored a recording contract with Transatlantic.  Their string of luck continued with drummer Alan Bunn quitting a couple of weeks before the recordings sessions started.  He was quickly replaced by former Rey Anton and The Pro Form drummer Chris Burrows.

 

Against that backdrop, anyone familiar with the band's earlier R&B and blue-eyed soul influenced recording was likely to be confused, if not totally mystified by the jazz-rock moves found on 1968's "Circus".   Produced by Ray Singer, the album found the band diving headlong into a far more adventuresome and experimental direction. Given recent personnel upheavals had deprived the band of one of their major sources of material, the resulting sessions largely captured what was the group's live  repertoire.  Heavy on extended instrumental passages tracks like their cover of 'Norwegian Wood;' and Charles Mingus' ' II.B.S' found drummer Burrows, sax player Collins, and guitarist Jeffs sharing and sometimes battling it out for the spotlight.  Certainly not a perfect analogy, but to my ears the results have always sounded a bit like a less progressive version of King Crimson (I guess you can blame Collins).  That, or a more commercial style of Canterbury scene bands (think along the lines of Caravan, Gong, Hatfield and McCoy, The Soft Machine).  The results were certainly different and not for everyone.  I'll include myself in the latter category.  Certainly not as irritating as some of the band's that followed (Catapilla, or Centipede), but still an aural challenge.  And to the band's credit, given the album was reportedly finished over a 48 hour period, the results were actually quite impressive.   (For hardcore fans, original drummer Bunn was featured on the cover photo, as the picture had been taken before he quit the band and Transatlantic was unwilling to fund a new photo shoot.)

 

"Circus" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Norwegian Wood   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 7:20

'Norwegian Wood' stands as one of those songs that's been covered so often, it's simply hard to take much notice.   The Circus arrangement shed the original's pop fittings for a heavy, lysergic-tinged and jazzy adaptation.  Ian Jeffs' vocals didn't kick in until three minutes in, with the rest of the song showcasing a mixture of Collins' jazzy sax moves and  extended  Jeffs guitar solo.  Clocking in at over seven minutes, their version seemed to go on and on ..   rating: *** stars

2.) Pleasures of a Lifetime   (Mel Collins) - 8:19

A pretty Collins-penned ballad, the extended 'Pleasures of a Lifetime' opened up with some pastoral guitar, before the focus shifted to Jeffs' fragile voice.   The song also showcased some unexpectedly pretty harmony vocals and some of Collins' prettiest, most understated sax work.  Collins' father Derek contributed the flute parts. Well, that was the story for the first half of the tune.  About halfway through the band switched gears with the song morphing into a jazzy jam.    rating: *** stars

3.) St. Thomas (instrumental) - 3:33

Normally a jazzy instrumental like 'St. Thomas' would send me running for the doors, but there was something charming about the breezy, Caribbean-tinged 'St. Thomas'.   I didn't even mind Collins extended flute solo.  rating: *** stars

4.) Good John Morgan (instrumental)  (Mel Collins) - 1:47

With the focus on Collins, 'Good John Morgan' was little more than a brief bossa-nova tinged instrumental.   The title may have been inspired by the fact they were recording in London's Morgan Studios ?  

 

(side 2)
1.) Father of My Daughter
   (Mel Collins) - 3:19

The third Collins original, 'Father of My Daughter' was a surprisingly enjoyable folk-tinged ballad.  Admittedly Burrows tabla work gave the song a slightly psychedelic feel.  Actually, the biggest surprise came in the vocal department where Jeffs and Collins shared the spotlight with great results.  Easily the album's prettiest song and one of the LP highlights.  rating: **** stars

2.)  II.B.S. (instrumental)  (Charles Mingus) - 6:28

Ah, the band at their most experimental.   The opening sound effects led into a hardcore cover of Charles Mingus' driving 'II B.S.'.   Built on a cool Kirk RIddle bass line, there was lots of Collins sax and jazzy Ian Jeffs lead guitar.   rating: *** stars

3.) Monday Monday   4:18

Hum, who would have expected to hear The Mamas and the Papas classic pop tune attacked by a marauding jazz band?  Okay, the term attacked is a harsh description.  How about reinterpreted?  The downside was that featuring Collins on flute, they turned the tune into a MOR-ish slice of elevator music.   Yeah, Jeffs acoustic guitar was nice, but it couldn't save the performance.   rating: ** stars

4.) Don't Make Promises  (Tim Hardin) - 4:42

I always kind of liked the Tim Hardin original so I was surprised by how much I liked their cover.  Well, I liked it until Collins flute solo took over the tune.  rating: *** stars

 

 

While not a giant seller, the album did well enough for Transatlantic to finance a follow-on.  The band headed off to a country cottage (which I guess was a standard late-'60s creative move), and began writing material, but the resulting recording sessions turned out poorly and the band decided to call it quits.

 

For anyone interest, Goodhand-Tait has reactivate The Stormsville Shakers.  They have a nice website at: http://stormsvilleshakers.com/

 

 

 

 

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