Climax Blues Band, The


Band members                         Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute 
- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar 

- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ 
- Richard Jones -- bass 
- George Newsome -- drums, percussion 
- Arthur Woods -- keyboards 

 

  line up 2 (1968-70)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute 

NEW - Peter Filleul -- vocals, keyboards (replaced 

  Richard Jones)

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar

- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ 
- George Newsome -- drums, percussion 
- Arthur Woods -- keyboards 

 

  line up 3 (1970)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

NEW - Anton 'Humpty' Farmer -- keyboards

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar 
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ 
- George Newsome -- drums, percussion 
- Arthur Woods -- keyboards

 

  line up 4 (1970-71)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

NEW - John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

  (replaced George Newsome)

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar 
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ 
- Arthur Woods -- keyboards

 

  line up 5 (1971-74)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

- John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ

  line up 5 (1974-77)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

- John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ

NEW - Richard Jones -- bass

  line up 6 (1977-78)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

- John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

NEW - Peter Filleul -- vocals, keyboards 

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ

- Richard Jones -- bass

 

  line up 6 (1978-79)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

- John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Peter Filleul -- vocals, keyboards 

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ

 

  line up 6 (1979-82)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

- John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar
- Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ

 

  line up 7 (1982)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

NEW - George Glover -- keyboards (replaced Peter Filleul)

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar

  supporting musicians:

- Dave Markee -- bass (replaced Derek Holt)

- Henry Spinetti -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  John Cuffley)

 

  line up 8 (1985) as Peter Haycock's Climax Blues Band

NEW - Livingston Browne -- bass

NEW - George Castle -- keyboards

- Peter Haycock -- vocals, guitar

NEW - Pete Thompson -- drums, percussion

  line up 9 (1986-199?) 

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

NEW - John Cuffley -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- George Glover -- keyboards

NEW - Derek Holt -- bass, guitar, organ 

NEW - Lester Hunt -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced Peter Haycock)

 

  line up 10 (199?-2008) 

NEW - Roy Adams -- drums, percussion (replaced John Cuffley)

- Colin Cooper (RIP 2008) -- vocals, harmonica, sax, flute

- George Glover -- keyboards

- Lester Hunt -- vocals, lead guitar, bass, keyboards

NEW - Neil Simpson -- bass (replaced Derek Holt)

 

  line up 11 (2009-) 

- Roy Adams -- drums, percussion 

- George Glover -- keyboards

- Lester Hunt -- vocals, lead guitar, bass, keyboards

NEW - Johnny Pugh -- vocals, sax, harmonica (replaced Colin Cooper)

- Neil Simpson -- bass (replaced Derek Holt)

 

 

 

 

 

- A Band Called O (Peter Filleul)

- Demon (Lester Hunt)

- Electric Light Orchestra II (Peter Haycock)

- Grand Alliance (Derek Holt) 
- Peter Haycock (solo efforts)
 

- Hipster Image  (Colin Cooper)

- Hunter (Lester Hunt)

- Mickey Jupp band (Johnny Pugh)

- Night of the Guitars (Derek Holt)

- The Parlour Band (Peter Filleul)

- The real Thing (Johnny Pugh)

- Rhino's Revenge

- Status Quo

- Roy Wood's Rock and Roll Band (Neil Simpson)

 

 


 

Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  A Lot of Bottle

Company: Sire

Catalog: SASD-7518

Year: 1970

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: small cut out notch along bottom edge (1976 reissue)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6071

Price: $9.00

 

 

Produced by Chris Thomas, 1970's "A Lot of Bottle" wasn't a major change in direction from The Climax Blues Band's earlier releases.  Seemingly like every other early-1970s English band, these guys appeared determined to underscore their credentials as authentic blues-rockers.  That said, the thing that's always intrigued me about this outfit is their occasional willingness to embrace more conventional and rock conventions (check out the screaming rocker 'Reap What I've Sown' with one of the funniest lyrics I've ever heard - "drinking in bar my friends all around ; it's the smell of my money the way they found me").  Yeah, competitors like Fleetwood Mac, Keef Hartley, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, etc. also occasionally went commercial, but that tended to be later in their recording careers,  Elsewhere keyboardist Anton 'Humpty' Farmer was brought in to supplement  Arthur Wood, but at least to my ears, with the exception of some barrelhouse piano on 'Long Lovin' Man' and some Hammond on the closer 'Cut You Loose' most of his contributions were simply lost in the mix.  The 1976 Sire reissue featured a slightly different track listing - adding 'Like Uncle Charlie' which which had been an earlier, non-LP UK single: 

 

- 1969's 'Like Uncle Charlie' b/w 'Loving Machine' (Parlophone catalog number R 5809)

 

- I'm guessing it was meant to underscore their credentials as an authentic blues band, but to my ears the opening instrumental 'Country Hat' was one of the album's dullest performances.  Yeah, technically you couldn't criticize Pete Haycock's acoustic slide guitar, but that still didn't make it very exciting ...  rating: ** stars

- 'Everyday' found the band continuing in the blues-rock vein, though this time out they cranked up the amplified and slapped Cooper's bone dry vocals on top of the track.  Curiously, the song faded out just as it was beginning to generate some traction and energy.   rating: ** stars

- As mentioned above, Climax was occasionally willing to sell out in favor of recording a more conventional number.  The pounding, fuzz guitar drenched 'Reap What I've Sown' was that number this time around ...  great track and should have provided the band with some commercial exposure.   rating: **** stars

- The instrumental 'Brief Case' was one of the collection's puzzles.  Built on a tasty hook, it served as a showcase for Haycock's richly textured guitar and Cooper's sax (he's one of the few sax players that doesn't bug me).  While I've always liked the track, it certainly sounded lost on this collection - way to adult contemporary for 1970.   rating: *** stars

- The instrumental medley 'Alright Blue / Country Hat' found them returning to straight forward country-blues.   Cooper's harmonica served as the focal point for the first half of the track.  Again, technically quite impressive though not particularly exciting.   rating: ** stars

- Another nod to a more accessible sound, 'Morning Noon and Night' had a nifty blues-rock foundation, with horns, and some tasty Haycock lead guitar.  Unfortunately, the 'group' sung vocals were pedestrian.  Curiously this one also faded out just as it started gaining some steam.   rating: *** stars

- 'Long Lovin' Man' was a standard boogie rocker showcasing Farmer's barrelhouse piano.  Great beer drinking song with absolutely nothing original going for it.   rating: ** stars

- Their cover of Willie Dixon's classic 'Seventh So' started out as a plodding number, but about midway through exploded into a platform for what was an extended Haycock solo.  The solo was certainly impressive, but simply came too late to salvage the track.   rating: ** stars  

- Yeah it had a blues base, but 'Please Don't Help Me' found the band turning surprisingly funky.   rating: *** stars

- Probably the stand out performance on the album, 'Like Uncle Charlie' was easily the most commercial performance. Yeah, the abrupt tempo change was kind of jarring, but the ballad segment of the song was among the prettiest things they've ever recorded and Haycock turned in a stunning solo.   rating: **** stars

- Kicked along by Derek Holt's thundering bass and with plenty of Cooper harmonica, 'Louisiana Blues' returned to conventional country-blues terrain.  The highlight on this one came in the form of some stunning Haycock acoustic slide guitar.   rating: *** stars

- 'Cut You Loose' was another blues-rocker built on a nice Haycock chiming guitar pattern.  The song was structured to give each a couple of players a solo shot.  Farmer turning in some eat quasi-jazzy Hammond B3 (?) and Cooper showed off his prowess on sax (his performance sound amazing with a pair of quality headphones).    rating: *** stars  

 

 

When originally released in 1969 the English single was:

 

- 1969's 'Reap What I've Sown' b/w 'Spoonful' (Harvest catalog number ???)

 

I've never seen a stock copy, only promo versions, but when reissued by Sire in 1976 the single was:

 

- 1976's 'Reap What I've Sown' b/w 'Reap What I've Sown' (Sire catalog number SI 351)

 

Not my favorite Climax Blues LP by a long shot, but still worth tracking down since you can still find it on the cheap.

 

"A Lot of Bottle" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Country Hat (instrumental)   (Climax Blues Band)- 1:56

2.) Everyday   (Climax Blues Band) - 2:21

3.) Reap What I've Sown   (Climax Blues Band) - 4:30

4.) Brief Case (instrumental)   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:57

5.) Alright Blue / Country Hat (instrumental)   (Climax Blues Band) - 4:05

6.) Morning Noon and Night   (Climax Blues Band) - 2:33

7.) Long Lovin' Man   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:34

 

(side 2)
1.) Seventh Son   (Willie Dixon) - 6:41

2.) Please Don't Help Me   (Climax Blues Band) - 2:56

3.) Like Uncle Charlie   (Climax Blues Band) - 4:05

4.) Louisiana Blues   (Morganfield) - 5:11

5.) Cut You Loose   (Climax Blues Band) - 5:09

 

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Tightly Knot

Company: Sire

Catalog: SASD-7517

Year: 1971

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: small cut out notch along edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4816

Price: $9.00

 

If you're a fan of English blues and can somehow get over the gawdawful cover (yeah there's something fascinating about how bad it is), 1971's "Tightly Knit" was something that should appeal to you.   Produced by long time band associated Chris Thomas, musically this wasn't a major change in direction for the band.  The main thrust remained blues, but this time around the group took some creative risks moving away from straight ahead formulaic blues patterns.  The first album to feature largely original material, the band was actually at their best when stretching out beyond conventional blues into more rock and pop oriented areas.  Highlights include the extremely sexist rocker ''Shoot Her If She Runs and the surprisingly pop-ish 'Towards the Sun'.

 

"Tightly Knit" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Hey Mama   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:30

2.) Shoot Her If She Runs   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:30

3.) Towards the Sun   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:18

4.) Come On In My Kitchen   (W. Payne) - 6:32

5.) Spoonful   (Willie Dixon) - 3:53

 

(side 2)
1.)  Who Killed McSwiggin (instrumental)   (Climax Blues Band) - 5:00

2.) Little Link (instrumental)   (Climax Blues Band) - 1:35

3.) St. Michael's Blues   (Climax Blues Band) - 9:53

4.) Bide My Time   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:17

5.) That's All   (Climax Blues Band) - 2:10

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  FM/Live

Company: Sire

Catalog: SAS-7411

Year: 1973

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: double  LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: not listed yet

Price: $10.00

 

 

Having already invested considerable time, effort and money in the band, 1973 saw Sire release a double live concert set.  Originally recorded and broadcast  by New York City radio station WNEW-FM, "FM/Live" was clearly meant to showcase the band's versatility.  The first side alone finds them taking competent stabs at blues-rock ('All the Time In the World'), radio friendly pop ('I Am Constant') and progressive moves ('Flight').  While more diverse than one would have expected, the emphasis remained on the blues, though (with the exception of a seemingly endless 'Goin' To New York and a needless drum solo on Mesopopmania'), these guys were smart enough to keep it tuneful and upbeat.  

 

"FM/Live" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) All the Time In the World   (Climax Blues Band) - 5:17

2.) I Am Constant   (Climax Blues Band) - 3:34
3.) Flight
   (Climax Blues Band) - 11:10

 

(side 2)
1.) Seventh Son
   (Climax Blues Band) - 
2.) Standing By A River
   (Climax Blues Band) - 
3.) So Many Trains
   (Climax Blues Band) - 
4.) Mesopopmania
   (Climax Blues Band) - 

 

(side 3)
1.) Country Hat
   (Climax Blues Band) - 
2.) You Make Me Sick
   (Climax Blues Band) - 
3.) Shake Your Love
   (Climax Blues Band) - 

 

(side 4)
4.) Goin' To New York
   (Climax Blues Band) - 9:25
5.) Let's Work Together
   (Wilbert Harrison) - 6:12

 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Stamp Album

Company: Sire

Catalog: SASD-7507

Year: 1975

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve; mis-pressing (see comments)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: not listed yet

Price: $7.00

 

1975's "Stamp Album" found the group moving into the realm of self-production. Like its predecessor, the set found the band trying to broaden their appeal with a more versatile, open sound. With all five members writing, top-40 pop ('I Am Constant'), BS&T-styled horn-rock ('Running Out of Time') and even reggae ('Mr. Goodtime') made for an enjoyable, if unspectacular release. Similarly, peaking at # 69, sales proved unspectacular. (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve. Always loved J. Flournoy Holmes cover design ...)

"Stamp Album" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Using the Power (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 4:28
2.) Mr. Goodtime (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 5:23
3.) I Am Constant (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 3:05
4.) Running Out of Time (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 5:21
5.) Sky High (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 5:08

 

(side 2)
6.) The Devil Knows (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 4:13
7.) Loosen Up (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 4:22
8.) Spirit Returning (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 2:53
9.) Cobra (Colin Cooper - John Cuffley - Peter Haycock - Derek Holt - Richard Jones) - 2:11

 

Now here's the weird part of the story. My copy's a misprint. Sire in its infinite wisdom managed to press the "A" side sequence (the first four tracks) on both sides of the album !!! 

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  1969 / 1972

Company: Harvest

Catalog: SHSM 2003

Year: 1975

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: UK pressing; textured cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4750

Price: $10.00

 

With the band finally beginning to attract some commercial visibility, Harvest jumped at the opportunity to repackage some of the group's earlier work.  Slapping on some sorry ass packaging, 1975's "1969 / 1972" pulled together eleven tracks from the band's first five studio sets.  Exemplified by selections such as 'Please Don't Help Me', 'Hey Baby Everything's Gonna Be Alright Yeh, Yeh, Yeh' and 'Reap What I've Sowed' the focus was clearly on the band's blues roots.  It's actually a rather pleasant spin, though there's nothing particularly ground breaking to be found here.  On the other hand, it's much more affordable than collecting those first five albums.

 

"1969 / 1972" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Please Don't Help Me

2.) Hey Baby Everything's Gonna Be Alright Yeh, Yeh, Yeh

3.) Everyday

4.) Towards the Sun

5.) You Make Me Sick

6.) Reap What I've Sowed

 

(side 2)
1.) Shake Your Love

2.) Looking for My Baby

3.) Flight

4.) Mole On the Dole

5.) That's All

 

 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Sample and Hold

Company: Virgin / Epic

Catalog: FE-38631

Year: 1983

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: includes original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6373

Price: $10.00

 

From the outside, 1983's "Sample and Hold" had all the markings of a band running on creative fumes and contractual obligations.  Signed by Virgin (and distributed by Epic in the States), the band's once vaunted line up was reduced to founding members Colin Cooper and Peter Haycock, along with newcomer George Glover on keyboards and assistance from hired guns Dave Markee on bass and drummer Henry Spinetti.  Slap on a haphazard collage cover, some of the dullest song titles you seen in years and you had all the makings of an artistic snooze fest.  Co-produced by John Eden and the band the album was going to be a major disappointment for anyone expecting to hear a collection of English blues-rock.  'Course fans of the band's initial blues sound had long ago fled (as had every one else), so if you bought this album it wasn't because you were interested in hearing Savoy Blues Band-styled blues-rockers.  Yeah, from the outside this seemed like a bargain bin standard.   With all of that stacked up against Climax Blues and virtually non-existent expectations, I'll readily admit the album turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant experience.  With Haycock responsible for the bulk of the ten tracks, material such as 'Sign of the Times' and '' exhibited a likeable AOR-feel.  All three members had decent voices that were well suited for this type of quasi-anonymous radio-fodder..  In fact, much of the album would have slotted well alongside mid-1980s radio standards - easy enough to picture a listener mistaking the band's cover of Graham Lyle's 'Listen To the Night' for a Dire Straits song (just check out Haycock's Mark Knofler-styled guitar moves).  

 

- The lone Cooper-Haycock collaboration, 'Sign of the Times' was also one of the album highlights.  Kicked along by Cooper's dry, craggy voice and Glover's barrelhouse piano, the song had a catchy, jumpy melody that was surprisingly catchy.  It also showcased Haycock's overlooked slide guitar chops.   One of those songs that snuck into your head when you weren't expecting it.   rating: *** stars

- Showcasing a very commercial melody that sounded like it had been written for radio airplay (just listen to the incideously catchy chorus), 'Friends In High Places' was even better.  Yeah, this may have been music as product rather than art, but it had a wonderful pop feel and how could you not smile at a couplet like "Everybody knows you've got a stack, they're saying you made it on your back ..." ?   Easy to see why it was tapped as a single.   rating: *** stars

- 'Doin Alright' was a pretty, but slightly anonymous ballad that someone might easily have mistaken for a Gerry Rafferty tune.   rating: ** stars

- One of two covers, as mentioned above, 'Listen To the Night' has always reminded me of a Dire Straits song.  The raspy vocal certainly sounded a bit like Mark Knopfler with Haycock's guitar sounding like he was channeling Knopfler.  I love Dire Straits, so thought this was one of the standout performances.   rating: *** stars

- 'Shine' was one of those typical mid-1980s anthem rockers that I find myself liking even though it managed to hit every rock and roll cliche known to mankind.   rating: *** stars

- 'Heaven and Hell' was about as close o a conventional rock song Climax ever came ... and the surprise was that it was quite good.  Anyone who enjoyed those mid-1980s hair bands (you know who I'm talkin' about), was going to enjoy this mindless slice of AOR.   rating: **** stars

- Hearing a pop-itinged track like 'Walking On Sunset' is was hard to believe these guys were once blues-rockers.  Commercial in the way a Firefall, or Pablo Cruise song was ...   rating: ** stars

- The only Cooper solo contribution to the album, 'Movie Queen' was also an album highlight.  Showcasing his ragged and interesting voice, the song was probably a little too AOR for many folks, but I've always been a softie for songs like this and Haycock's jangle rock guitar was great.   rating: **** stars

- I always wondered why 'I Am Ready' sounded so atypical - more like a Bad Compamy, or free-styled rocker than a Climax track.  'Course looking at the writing credits (Andy Fraser and Frankie Miller), served to explain everything.  It'd be interesting to know how they came to record the song.  Anyhow, it was actually one of the best tracks on the album - very mid-1970s blues-rock that should appeal to any Paul Rodgers fans out there.   rating: **** stars

- Opening up with some pretty Haycock lead guitar, 'The End of the Seven Seas' sounded like one of those radio-ready Journey, or Kansas tunes.  Meant to be big, epic, with a touch of progressive sheen, when all was said and done, the results were actually pretty faceless.  Hum, it really did sound like a Kansas tune ...  rating: *** stars  

 

In the UK the album was tapped for a pair of singles:

 

 

 

- 1983's ‘Listen To The Night’ b/w 'Church' (Virgin catalog number VS 576)

- 1983's ‘Friends In High Places’ b/w '' (Virgin catalog number )

 

One of those strange albums that wouldn't seem to have all that much going for it, but one that I enjoy hearing on a regular basis.   As you'd expect, the album enjoyed little or no promotion from Virgin/Epic and in spite of some touring (John Edwards and Jeff Rich stepping in as rhythm section), vanished without a trace.  That was followed in swift order by the band itself, though within a couple of years Haycock had resurrected the nameplate as Peter Haycock's Climax Blues Band.

"Sample and Hold" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Sign of the Times   (Colin Cooper - Peter Haycock) - 4:33

2.) Friends In High Places   (Peter Haycock) - 4:12

3.) Doin' Alright   (Peter Haycock) - 4:59

4.) Listen To the Night   (Graham Lyle) - 3:37

5.) Shine   (Peter Haycock) - 4:13

 

(side 2)
1.) Heaven and Hell   (Peter Haycock) - 4:08

2.) Walking On Sunset   (Peter Haycock) - 3;40

3.) Movie Queen   (Colin Cooper) - 4:20

4.) I Am Ready  (Andy Fraser - Frankie Miller) - 3:18

5.) The End of the Seven Seas   (Peter Haycock) - 5:40

 

 

Peter Haycock's Climax Blues Band only lasted a year or so, before he hooked up with ELO II.  That left Cooper and Glover to grab the nameplate, recruiting former Hunter singer/lead guitarist Lester Hunt to continue on as a three piece, which was quickly augmented by former members John Cuffley and Derek Holt.  With various line up changes Cooper continued to front the band until 2008 when he died of cancer.  The remaining band members subsequently recruited Johnny Pugh as a replacement and continue touring.

 

For anyone interested, the official band website can be found at:

http://www.climaxbluesband.com/

 

 

 

 

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