Exception, The


Band members                 Related acts

  line up 1 (1967)

- Alan Eastwood (aka Bugsy) (RIP 2007) -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Roger Hill -- lead guitar, vocals

- Dave Pegg - bass

 

  line up 2 (1967--68)

- Alan Eastwood (aka Bugsy) (RIP 2007) -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Roger Hill -- lead guitar, vocals

- John Rowland -- bass (replaced David Pegg)

 

  line up 3 (1968)

- Alan Eastwood (aka Bugsy) (RIP 2007) -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Malcolm Garner -- bass (replaced John Rowland)

- Roger Hill -- lead guitar, vocals

- Steve -- vocals, sax, keyboards

 

 

 

- The Brumbeats (Alan Eastwood and Roger Hill)

- Ian Campbell Group (David Pegg)

- Jasper Stubbs Gloryland Band (Malcolm Garner)

- Alan Eastwood (solo effort)

- Fairport Convention (Dave Pegg)

- Forthingay (David Pegg)

- The Merseyboys (Alan Eastwood)

- Mongrel

- The Uglys (Roger Hill and david Pegg)

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Exceptional Exception

Company: President

Catalog: PTLS 1026
Year: 1969

Country/State: Birmingham, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3

Price: $100.00

 

In terms of talent, The Exception were probably as talented as many of the better known mid-1960s competitors coming out Birmingham, England.  Unfortunately, unlike The Spencer Davis Group, The Moody Blues, or The Move, they just never managed to catch that lucky break that could have turned them from also-rans into major stars.

 

Lead guitarist Roger Hill and bassist Dave Pegg had been members of The Uglies.  After recording a couple of singles with the band, the pair decided to strike out on their own.  Recruiting former Brumbeats singer/drummer Alan Eastwood, the trio was originally initially focused their repertoire om pursuing their collective interests in American blues, signing a contract with CBS which promptly released a pair of forgettable 45s:

- 1967's 'Gaberdine Saturday Night Street Walker' b/w 'Sunday Night At the Prince Rupert' (CBS catalog number 2830)

- 1967's 'The Eagle Flies On Friday' b/w 'Girl Trouble' (CBS catalog number 202632)

 

Neither single did anything commercially and CBS promptly dropped the trio from its recording roster.  Luckily they were picked up by the London-base President label which released a couple of interesting non-LP singles:

 

- 1968's 'Rub It Down' b/w 'It's Snowing In The Desert' (President catalog number PT 181)

- 1968's 'Helicopter' b/w 'Back Room' (President catalog number PT 205)

 

Again the singles did little commercially, but President Records had sufficient confidence in the band to finance an album - 1969's "The Exceptional Exception".  Produced by Roger Bolton, Marv Holtzman and Ed Kessner, by the time the band got around to recording their debut bassist Pegg was long gone - initially replaced by John Rowland who was then replaced by Malcolm Garner.  The album also showed a fourth member of the lineup - the anonymous "Steve" who was credited with vocals, sax and keyboards.  With Eastwood credited with the majority of the twelve tracks, to my ears the album sounded like a compilation of material that had been previously recorded with a couple of newer efforts thrown in. It's hard to put your finger on it, but tracks like 'Jack Rabbitt', 'Rock Bottom Cinder' and 'Too Much In Love with a Bad Thing' just didn't have a late-1960s feel to them.  That's not meant as a criticism since the overall album was quite enjoyable., showcasing Eastwood's likeable voice and a surprisingly high standard of musicianship from the entire band.  Elsewhere tracks like their Hogie Carmichaal cover 'Hong Kong Blues', the Eastwood-penned 'Tailor Made Babe', 'Karen Train Blues' and 'Mrs. Cocaine' reflected their ongoing love of blues. Personally I would have opted for a little less blues and a little more pop and rock ...

 

- Opening up with some interesting percussion effects and a mildly psychedelic feel, 'Jack Rabbit' was actually a pretty cool song.  Musically it must have sounded quite dated - far more 1967 than 1969 but in hindsight that didn't detract from it's enjoyment factor.  Roger Hill's fragile guitar solo was also interesting, though you were left to wonder if he was actually going to be able to actually get through the song without breaking his fingers.  Shame the song was so short.  Sadly, serving as an indication of some of Eastwood's forthcoming life issues, the  liner notes described the song as "Written by Bugsy whilst deeply under the influence of alcohol. rating: **** stars

- Their cover of Hogie Carmichael's 'Hong Kong Blues; reflected the band's longstanding interest in blues.  To be honest, the first couple of spins this one didn't do anything for me, but it's charms (the versus 'sweet opium won't let me fly away' always makes me smile) eventually caught up with me.  Steve turned in a tasty sax solo and Hill's guitar solo was far more accomplished this time out.  Hill also handled the lead vocal.   rating: *** stars

- A stomping blues-rocker kicked along by Eastwood's drums and confident vocals, 'Rock Bottom Cinder' would have made Van Morrison and Them proud.  Interestingly, this was another track that sounded more 1967 than 1969.  One of my picks for standout performance.   rating: **** stars

- 'Woman of the Green Lantern' was another cool track.  Basically a blues groove with some intriguing oriental edges added to the arrangement - the liner notes described it as "Tells the story of a Japanese prostitute - an atmospheric background to this number. "  I'm guessing the foreign lyrics were actually Japanese.    rating: **** stars

- Musically 'Don't Torture Your Mind' was a mid-tempo rocker that never really kicked into gear for me, but lyrically it was one of the album's most intriguing performances.  Hill and Steve shared slightly ragged lead vocals on this one.    rating: *** stars

- Kicked along by some barrelhouse piano, 'Tailor Made Babe' was a straightforward blues number.  Eastwood sounded quite drunk on this one while Hill turned in a blazing lead guitar solo.  Surprisingly good for a standard blues number.   rating: *** stars

- 'Pendulum' was a blues shuffle with the liner notes described the song as: "Deals with time that slipped away unnoticed in a man's life.  He becomes aware of the clock and his uneventful life."  A  bit too cute for my tastes, though it generate quite a bit of energy towards the end.     rating: *** stars

- More conventional blues, Hill's quick solos were the highlight on 'Karen Train Blues'.  The liner notes described the song as being inspired by: "Of a girl "Bugsy" met on a trip to Amsterdam."   rating: ** stars

- So the liner note said 'Too Much In Love with a Bad Thing' was "an experiment involving blues and ska" ...   The Cream-styled blues inspiration was clear.  Not so much the ska ...   Regardless, this was the album's standout blues number with a killer Garner bass line.  Clapton and company would have approved of this blues-rocker.   rating: **** stars

- Kudos to Eastwood for having written such a blatantly anti-drug track - a traditional blues number, 'Mrs. Cocaine' was even more impressive given it was recorded at a time when drug use was widely admired among musicians.   rating: **** stars

- The title's meaning is lost on my American ears and the liner notes aren't particularly insightful ... "A place that no longer exists, but it was the English equivalent of Harlem."    Musically this was another strong Cream-styled blues rocker.   rating: **** stars

- I'm not sure why, but the closing acoustic blues number 'Keep the Motor Running' ranks as one of my favorites.  Maybe because it has a giddy feel to it, of the supposed inspiration: "an experience with a taxi driver and a landlord - not fiction", this one always makes me smile.   rating: **** stars

 

As mentioned above, the album spun off a series of three singles:

 

- 1968's 'Tailor Made Babe' b/w 'Turn Over The Soil' (President catalog number PT 218)

- 1969's 'Jack Rabbit' b/w 'Keep The Motor Running' (President catalog number PT 236)

- 1969's 'Pendulum' b/w 'Don't Torture Your Mind'  (President catalog number PT 271)

 

By no stretch of the imagination a lost classic, but fun through-and-through.  Worth looking for since you can still find affordable copies.

 

"The Exceptional Exception" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Jack Rabbit  (Alan Eastwood) - 1:56

2.) Hong Kong Blues   (Hogie Carmichael) - 3:35

3.) Rock Bottom Cinder   (Alan Eastwood) -  2:31

4.) Woman of the Green Lantern   (Alan Eastwood) - 2:49

5.) Don't Torture Your Mind   (Roger Hill) - 2:45

6.) Tailor Made Babe  (Alan Eastwood) - 2:34

 

(side 2)
1.) Pendulum  (Alan Eastwood) - 3:08

2.) Karen Train Blues   (Alan Eastwood) - 2:03

3.) Too Much In Love with a Bad Thing  (Alan Eastwood) - 3:34

4.) Mrs. Cocaine  (Alan Eastwood) - 5:01

5.) Bums Puzzle  (Alan Eastwood) - 2:37

6.) Keep the Motor Running   (Alan Eastwood) - 

 

 

Through the years Eastwood remained active in music recording a couple of solo efforts, though alcohol addiction sidetracked his career throughout the late 1970s and 1980s/  He died of heart failure in October 2007.  I usually try to avoid this kind of stuff, but in the wake of his death, Eastwood's former 'partner' Poly Wilson-Clark put up a touching tribute page to the man.  I can only hope that people remember me as kindly:

 

http://81.21.76.62/alan-eastwood.com

 

 

 

 

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