Band members Related acts
- Matthew Ellis -- vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Alf Bigdin -- drums
- Toni Campo -- bass
- Clem Cattini -- drums
- Kenny Clare -- drums
- Leslie Duncan -- backing vocals
- Kay Gardner -- backing vocals
- Colin Green -- guitar
- Clive Hicks -- guitar
- Sunny Leslie -- backing vocals
- Eddie Mordue -- sax
- Barry Morgan -- drums
- Rex Morris -- tenor sax
- Ronnie Ross - sax
- David Snell -- harp
- Chris Spedding -- guitar
- Chris Walker -- keyboards
- Dennis Walton -- sax
- Roy Wilcox -- sax
- none known
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Matthew Ellis
Company: Warner Brothers
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: cut lower left corner
GEMM catalog ID: 5735
Sadly Matthew Ellis is a fairly typical example of a talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who got a shot at the big time, but somehow was lost in the tidal wave of early-1970s music exploding out of the UK. Equally amazing, he actually saw an album released in the US; even if it was a somewhat haphazard compilation spliced together from his two UK studio sets.
I've got actually no idea what Ellis' musical background was. One website said he had some kind of link to Procol Harum. Beats me. Regardless, in the UK Ellis managed to release a pair of LPs and three singles for the Regal Zonophone label:
- 1971's "Matthew Ellis" (Regal Zonophone catalog number SRZA 8501)
- 1971's "Am I?" (Regal Zonophone catalog number SRZA 8505)
- 1971's 'Avalon' b/w 'You Are' (Regal Zonophone catalog number RZ 3033)
- 1971's 'Birthday Song' b/w 'Salvation' (Regal Zonophone catalog number RZ 3039)
- 1972's 'Palace Of Plenty' b/w 'Two By Two' (Regal Zonophone catalog number RZ 3045)
Nothing made much of a commercial impression, but Ellis somehow managed to attract the attention of Warner Brothers which rather than releasing either album elected to cobble together a compilation from the UK releases. 1971's cleverly-titled "Matthew Ellis" borrowed three tracks from the first album and seven tracks from "Am I?" along with the latter's basic cover art. Produced by Jerry Dane the album featured all original material, showcasing Ellis' attractive voice and knack for penning highly commercial pop and rock numbers. Backed by an impressive cast of UK players including Chris Spedding and Chris Walker this one was a major surprise to my ears.
- 'Two By Two' started the album off with a mid tempo rocker that bore more than a passing resemblance to something out of the Badfinger catalog. Very catchy and nice lead guitar from Ellis himself.
- Sporting a catchy melody the mid-tempo 'Long Live the Lie' was a bit different from the rest of the collection in that it sported an extensive horn section. Coupled with a female backing chorus, the result was a touch jazzier than anything else on the album. Surprisingly nice !
- 'Avalon' simultaneously sported lush orchestration (complete with harp) and a killer fuzz guitar solo. Fantastic song which actually reminded a little bit of an Al Stewart epic. One of my favorite performances.
- A stark keyboard propelled ballad, 'Peace' was quite pretty, but ultimately didn't make a great deal of an impression on me. Good news is that it was very short.
- With Ellis and Chris Spedding handling lead guitars, 'Desiderata' was a great rocker that had considerable commercial potential. My choice for the standout performance ...
- Side two opened with one of the few disappointments - 'Dream Away' was simply bland and forgettable.
- 'Crazy Willow' was another one of those songs that had a hook that dug into you head and wouldn't let go. Nice Ellis organ solo and orchestration helped.
- Kind of Fairport-ish styled ballad, 'My Old Girl' was a bit to fey for my tastes though others will certainly disagree.
- Another largely acoustics ballad, the title track to Ellis' second studio set, 'Am I?' started out slowly, but about 20 seconds in caught traction. Nice showcase for the man's surprisingly strong voice.
- Propelled by Ellis' screaming guitar, 'Goodbye' was an atypical rocker. Fantastic tune that should have been a radio hit.
All told a major surprise and an act I'd love to know about ...
Ellis" track listing:
1.) Two By Two (Matthew Ellis) - 3:00
2.) Long Live the Lie (Matthew Ellis) - 3:33
3.) Avalon (Matthew Ellis) - 4:46
4.) Peace (Matthew Ellis) - 2:00
5.) Desiderata (Matthew Ellis) - 5:41
2.) Crazy Willow (Matthew Ellis) - 4:37
3.) My Old Girl (Matthew Ellis) - 2:39
4.) Am I? (Matthew Ellis) - 3:18
5.) Goodbye (Matthew Ellis) - 4:21
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