Fat Mattress


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1968)

- Martin Barre -- guitar

- Eric Dillon -- drums, percussion

- Neil Landon -- vocals

- Jimmy Leverton -- vocals, bass, keyboards

- Noel Redding (RIP 2003) -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  line up 2  (1968-69)

- Eric Dillon -- drums, percussion

- Neil Landon -- vocals

- Jimmy Leverton -- vocals, bass, keyboards

- Noel Redding (RIP 2003) -- vocals, lead guitar

 

  supporting musicians (1969)

- Chris Wood -- flute

 

  line up 2 (1969-71)

NEW - Martin Barre -- guitar

- Eric Dillon -- drums, percussion

NEW - Steve Hammond  (RIP 1989) -- guitar

- Neil Landon -- vocals

NEW - Mick Weaver (aka Wynder K. Frog -- keyboards 

 

 

 

- Blodwyn Pig (Jim Leverton)

- Caravan (Jim Leverton)

- Dog Soldier (Eric Dillon - Jim Leverton)

- Chris Farlowe and the Hill (Steve Hammond)

- The Flower Pot Men   (Neil Landon) 

- The Grease Band (Mick Weaver)

- The Keef Hartley Band (Mick Weaver)

- Hemlock (Eric Dillon and Mick Weaver)

- Jimi Hendrix Experience  (Noel Redding)

- Hill (Steve Hammond)

- The Ivy League (Neil Landon)

- Jethro Tull (Martin Barre)

- Juicy Lucy (Jim Leverton and Mick Weaver)

- Neil Landon (solo efforts)

- The Neil Landon Band

- Neil Landon and the Burnettes

- Lion (Eric Dillon)

- The Lonely Ones

- The Loving Kind (Noel Redding)

- The Phantom Blues Band (Mick Weaver)

- Noel Redding (solo efforts)

- The Road (Noel Redding)

- Rudolf Rock & die Schocker (Neil Landon)

- Savoy Brown (Eric Dillon - Jimmy Leverton)

- Tranquility (Eric Dillon - Jimmy Leverton)

- Wooden Frog (Mick Weaver)

- Wynder K. Frog (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Fat Mattress

Company: ATCO

Catalog:  SD 33-309
Year:
 1969

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2051

Price: $20.00

 

 

 

It's unfortunate Fat Mattress is best known for Noel Redding's post Jimi Hendrix Experience roll in the band.  With and without Redding the group were quite talented, churning out two surprisingly impressive albums that should have warranted a better place in rock history ...

While still working with Hendrix, Redding formed Fat Mattress in 1968.   The original line-up included drummer Eric Dillon, singer Neil Landon, and bassist Jimmy Leverton.   Dillon and Leverton had previously worked together in Engelbert Humperdinck's backing band.   Redding envisioned the group as serving as a platform for his own talents, including providing an opportunity for him to sing and play lead guitar.  The Hendrix connection certainly didn't hurt and the quartet got off to an impressive start, opening for The Jimi Hendrix Experience during a 1968 US tour (Redding played with both bands). 

 

Quickly signed by Polydor, with ATCO acquiring US distribution rights, the band made their debut with an excellent non-LP 1969 single:

- 1969's 'Naturally' b/w 'Iridescent Butterfly' (Polydor catalog number 56352)   

 

YouTube has a fascinating black and white clip of the band performing the song on a September 1969 episode of German television's Beat Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zygj6kAkUg8   

 

Self-produced, 1969's "Fat Mattress" was one of those albums that probably never had a fair chance of success.  Redding's connection with The Jimi Hendrix Experience clearly colored peoples' expectations and no matter how good the album was, the resulting comparisons almost guaranteed folks were going to be disappointed.  Shame it turned out that way.  Yeah, if you were looking for Hendrix-styled psychedelia, or meltdown guitar wanking, this collection was going to be a major disappointment.  On the other hand, anyone wiling to sit down and give the set a spin without any preconceived notions was likely to be impressed.  Musically the set found the band offering up an engaging mixture of folk-rock ('All Night Drinker'), with occasional psych moves (' I Don't Mind') , and a touch of jazz influences thrown in.  The plan may have been to feature Redding, but for a band that hadn't worked together very long, the other three members were quite impressive with both Landon and Leverton having nice blues-rock voices.      

With minimal promotional support and a US tour ending after five of a projected thirty dates, the collection actually managed to hit the US album charts, pealing at # 134.

 

"Fat Mattress" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) All Night Drinker   (Neil Landon - Jim Leverton) - 3:18

'All Night Drinker' was a bit ragged around the edges and I didn't much care for Chris Wood's flute, but there was something quite appealing here ...  Fairport Convention with an ability to actually rock ?   Traffic without the jazzy overtones?  Nah, neither quite nailed it ...  Still, a nice way to start the album off.   rating: **** stars

2.) I Don't Mind   (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 3:51

Who would have expected to hear a Summer of Love flashback in 1969?   It must have sounded quite dated in 1969, but I'll readily admit that I think the bouncy melody, great vocals, raga guitar moves, and throwback feel were simply fabulous.   rating: **** stars

3.) Bright New Way   (Neil Landon - Jim Leverton) - 3:48

Surprisingly enjoyable country-folk tinged acoustic number ...   always liked Redding's acoustic guitar on this one.    rating: **** stars

4.) Petrol Pump Assistant  (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 3:01

Another mildly lysergic-tinged tune with some lovely Redding folk-rock jangle guitar and hysterical lyrics ...  do aliens really work in English gas stations?  The song was also tapped as the 'B' side of the 'Mr. Moonshine' 45.    rating: **** stars

5.) Mr. Moonshine  (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:04

'Mr. Moonshine' was an enormously attractive, lysergic-tinged ballad.  With Landon and Redding switching off on lead vocals (Landon was a way better singer), I even liked the song's jazzy mid-song break.  Easily one of the album's highlights.  YouTube has another clip of the band performing the tune on BeatClub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unYBCaJWWFU     rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Magic Forest
  (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 3:05

Almost toytown psych, I bet this one sounded a bit dated in 1969.  The acid-tinged lyrics may not have aged all that well, but the combination of Leverton and Landon sharing lead vocals and some nice Redding lead guitar made this one a track that grew on you ...   YouTube has another BeatClub performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXX5Bmw4EYI  

The tune was tapped as a single in Germany, Japan, Spain, and the UK.

- 1970's 'Magic Forest' b/w 'Bright New Way' (Polydor catalog number 56367)   rating: **** stars

2.) She Came In the Morning   (Neil Landon) - 3:47

One of the album's prettiest tunes and a nice showcase for Landon's frequently overlooked voice, the ballad 'She Came In the Morning' would have made a nice single.  Great kettle drums on this one.  rating: **** stars

3.) Everything's Blue   (Noel Reddng) - 2:50

Kind of a perfunctory blues-rock number, 'Everything's Blue' was the album's lone disappointment.  rating: *** stars

4.) Walking Through a Garden   (Noel Redding) - 3:20

I've always been a push-over for harpsichord and 'Walking Through a Garden' was powered by some surprisingly tasteful harpsichord from Leverton.    With an easygoing and  bucolic feel, this one was the perfect tune for one of those lazy Sunday mornings.   rating: **** stars

5.) How Can I Live   (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:26

Lots of folks criticize the psych label being attached to this album.  I'll readily admit most of the album isn't particularly psych influenced, but then you get to 'How Can I Live' ... hearing this one makes me wonder if those folks have bothered to listen through the whole album.   Floating on the album's prettiest melody, complete with some excellent Leverton bass, trippy keyboards, and the band's overlooked knack for shimmering harmonies, 'How Can I Live' was a hidden treasure.  Supposedly Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell guested on the track.  For some reason the song's always reminded me a bit of The Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.     rating: ***** stars

 

 

 

 


 

 

ot.

A major U.S. tour was cancelled after completing only five dates of an initially anticipated thirty.[4] In the midst of recording Fat Mattress II, Redding and Leverton had a falling out, resulting in Redding's departure from the band. He was replaced by Steve Hammond at roughly the same time as Mick Weaver was added to relieve Leverton on keyboard duties, allowing Leverton to focus on bass and vocals.[4] Fat Mattress II was less of a success than their debut, and the band split in the middle of recording what would have been their third album.[4]

Fat Mattress ran into problems soon after that, when they returned to America to do their own tour, completing only five of 30 planned dates before going back to England. A second album, the unimaginatively titled Fat Mattress 2, ran over the same ground as their debut did, but with less flair and distinction, remaining derivative and suffering in comparison with other bands using similar approaches. Having failed to graduate to the big leagues, the group broke up soon after that.

Fat Mattress' first album must have come as a surprise to fans expecting something at least somewhat related to the former activities of its most famous member, ex-Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding. But Fat Mattress doesn't sound at all like Jimi Hendrix (and, for that matter, Redding plays guitar on the album, not bass). Instead, it's passable, pleasant late-'60s psychedelia with a far lighter touch than the hard bluesy psychedelic rock Redding played with Hendrix. From the sound of things, Redding (who had a hand in writing much of the material) and his new cohorts were doing some heavy listening to California psychedelic rock and folk-rock, as this is far breezier and more oriented toward harmony vocals. It's often like an amalgam of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape, and Love, with some passing nods to British psychedelia by Traffic (whose Chris Wood plays flute on "All Night Drinker"), the Move, and the Small Faces; there's even a bit of a Monkees-go-spacy feel to "I Don't Mind." In the manner of Forever Changes-era Love, the lyrics have a fleetingly opaque feel, easy on the ear but not really about anything, save soaking up good-time vibes. The problem, at least inasmuch as playing this back to back with something like Forever Changes, is that the words and music don't penetrate nearly as deeply, or coalesce into nearly as strong a group identity. They're pleasing but indeed fleeting in their impression, lacking the indelible hooks or songwriting brilliance of their apparent inspirations, the songs tending to run together in their similar moods. All that said, this isn't a bad album at all; had it not been dismissed by many Hendrix collectors as irrelevant, it might well be getting rediscovered by revisionists and championed as a minor nugget of obscure British light psych. The 1992 reissue on Sequel adds five previously unreleased bonus tracks, undated but from the sound of things cut around the same time as the album or slightly afterward, most of them using a heavier instrumental approach. (All 15 songs from the 1992 reissue are also included on the 2000 Fat Mattress compilation Black Sheep of the Family: The Anthology.)

 

 

 

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