Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1974-76)
- Herbie Armstrong -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Noosha Fox (aka Susan Traynor) -- vocals
- Jim Frank -- drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Pete Solley -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Gary Taylor -- bass, vocals
- Kenny Young -- rhythm guitar, backing vocals
supporting musicians: (1976)
- B.J. Cole -- pedals steel
- Jim Gannon -- guitar
- Jim Horn --
- Russ Kunkle -- drums, percussion
- Dean Parks -- guitar
- Lee Sklar -- bass
- 39 Vybes (Kenny Young)
- Herbie Armstrong (solo efforts)
- Black Widow (Jim Gannon)
- Blue Yogurt (Kenny Young)
- Rod Demick and Herbie Armstrong (Herbie Armstrong)
- Family Dogg (Gary Taylor)
- Gentlemen without Weapons (Kenny Young)
- Herd (Gary Taylor)
- I Shinko (Kenny Young)
- The James Brothers (Herbie Armstrong)
- Kid Gloves (Gary Taylor)
- Ronnie Lane
- Los Bravos (Pete Solley)
- Moonshine (Kenny Young)
- Noosha (solo efforts)
- Paladin (Pete Solley)
- Pesky Gee (Jim Gannon)
- Procol Harum (Pete Solley)
- Rhythms Del Mundo (Kenny Young)
- San Francisco Earthquake (Kenny Young)
- The Seagulls (Kenny Young)
- Sgt Smiley Raggs (Kenny Young)
- Snafu (Pete Solley)
- The Squirrels (Kenny Young)
- Stealers Wheel (Gary Taylor)
- Wheels (Herbie Armstrong)
- Whitesnake (Pete Solley)
- Wood Horse (Susan Traynor)
- Yellow Dog (Herbie Armstrong - Kenny Young)
- Kenny Young (solo efforts)
- Kenneth Young & the English MUffins (Kenny Young)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Company: Ariola America
Country/State: Australia, Ireland, UK, US
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: original lyric inner sleeve
Catalog ID: 3537
I grew up listening to British bands and I'll be the first to admit that it took me time and energy to figure out some of England's quirkier offerings. I'm thinking of groups like Kate Bush, Cockney Rebel, Family (okay, convince me that you instantly loved Roger Chapman's voice), Roxy Music, Sailor, Sparks, Ten CC. Sitting firmly in that camp of escoteric English groups was Fox.
American songwriter/producer Kenny Young was the creative mainstay behind Fox. Best known for writing 'Under the Boardwalk' for The Drifters. In the ensuing years Young continued writing, producing, and striking out in pursuit of a stillborn solo career. Those solo efforts saw him working with former Wood Horse singer Susan Traynor. In 1974 Young decided to form a band. His first recruit was Irish bass player Herbie Armstrong. His second recruit was Traynor, who elected to perform under the pseudonym Noosha Fox. By the time the group was sign to GTO Records the lineup featured Young, Armstrong, Foxa, drummer Jim Frank, keyboardist Pete Solley, and bassist Gary Taylor.
With Young producing and credited with writing most of the material, 1975's "Fox" is an album that I'm hard pressed to explain my affection for. Based on my normal range of musical tastes, I would have expected to detest this one. The band's too-cute imagine; Noosha's fey, little girl voice, repeated bouts of scatting, and songs with dance touches ('The Juggler' and 'He's Got Magic') should have spelled instant dislike. And yet, somehow the results were endearing. With the spotlight on Noosha's quirky, little girl voice and her decidedly non-rock and roll imagine (picture a feminine Bryan Ferry cloaked in '20s and '30s fashion choices), this wasn't exactly your standard rock and roll collection. Don't get me wrong; exemplified by tracks like the country-tinged 'Patient Tigers' and 'Red Letter Day', Noosha could belt it out and in a pinch the band could handle a rock tune, but their patented sound was far more pop-oriented, though in a decidedly eclectic fashion. The hits 'Imagine Me - Imagine You', 'Only You Can' and 'He's Got Magic' were perfect examples of their ability to bridge quixotic and commercial. Beats me why, but this is one album I've steadfastly refused to sell over the years.
"Fox" track listing:
1.) Love Letters (Edward Heyman - Victor Young) rating: *** stars
Powered by Noosha sultry vocals, fans will tell you this is the best version of this rock chestnut ever recorded. Fox's version was certainly credible, but to my ears there was something off-putting in her pseudo-cabaret moves. Personally I'd give the nod to Frankie Miller's cover. I'll stand by the Bryan Ferry comparison I made earlier, but listening to this one, Noosha's purr of a voice has always reminded me of what Cat Woman would have sounded like if she ever cut a record.
2.) Imagine Me - Imagine You (Kenny Young) rating: **** stars
'Imagine Me - Imagine You' captured the band at their most commercial and radio friendly ... This time out Fox's little girl voice came off as cute and coquettish giving the song a refrain that was hard to shake out of your head. It also reminds me a bit of a less quirky Kate Bush. Easy to see why it was released as the album's second single:
Neither sound, nor video quality are very good, but YouTube has a short promotional clip of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gwE0t7-8hw
3.) The Juggler (Kenny Young - Herbie Armstrong) rating: **** star
'The Juggler ' found the band dipping their collective toes into a slightly funky vibe. It was also interesting for showing Noosha was capable of performing in a style beyond her fey, little girl voice.
4.) Patient Tigers (Kenny Young - Herbie Armstrong) rating: ** stars
Opening a song with B.J. Cole pedal steel guitar typically doesn't do a great deal for my ears. The country-tinged ballad 'Patient Tigers' did little to change that opinion, though it was momentarily interesting to hear Noosha trying to sing in a husky, country voice.
5.) Only You Can (Kenny Young) rating: **** star
This is one of those tunes that I'm at a total loss with respect to explaining its appeal to me. 'Only You Can' is completely cheesy, has a modest disco-flavor, and showcases Fox at her most irritating. In spite of all those flaws, it's a beguiling tune that was released as a single throughout the world.
- 1975's 'Only You Can' b/w 'Out of My Body' (GTO catalog number GT-1003)
YouTube has a March 1975 lip synching performance of the tune on the BBC's Top of the Pops, though I'm damned to understand the host's comparisons to Van Morrison, Stealers Wheel, and other bands. Perhaps unintentional, but Noosha's Princess Lea look was worth a laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HMKguovcqw
6.) The More (Kenny Young) rating: *** star
Very short with an ornate string arrangement, 'The More' was a strange almost acappella performance.
1.) Spirit (Kenny Young) rating: ** stars
The album's first true disappointment, 'Spirit' showcased the band's worst tendencies including an MOR-ish melody and Noosha crooning at her most fey.
2.) He's Got Music (Kenny Young rating: **** star
Once again I'm at a loss to explain how it worked, but somehow Noosha's quirky performance managed to kick this rather bland mid-tempo number into a keeper. It was also tapped as the album's third single:
- 1975's "He's Got Magic' b/w 'Love Shop' (GTO catalog number 2099 139)
The sound and video quality are poor, but YouTube has a 1975 appearance from the German Musik Laden television program. They're clearly lip synching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyZS_dXIntY
3.) Pisces Babies (Kenny Young) rating: *** star
Pretty tune that found the band working in more of an adult contemporary genre, though the tune picked up some momentum as it cruised along. Good tune to discover how interesting Young's lyrics could be. Would have given it four stars except for the brief spoken word segment.
4.) Love Ship (Kenny Young) rating: **** star
Breezy ballad that was worth hearing just for Solley's cheesy '70s synthesizer washes. This one has always sounded like it should have been the theme song for some ABC sitcom.
5.) Red Letter Day (Kenny Young - Herbie Armstrong) rating: **** star
The closer 'Red Letter Day' showcased the band at their best. Young underscored his knack for catchy and memorable melodies, while Noosha showed she could bring out a much deeper and powerful vocal style.
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