Hartley, Keef

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Peter 'Dino' Dines -- keyboards 

- Owen Finnegan -- vocals

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Spit James (aka Ian Cruikshank) -- guitar 

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 


  line up 2 (1968)

- Peter 'Dino' Dines -- keyboards 

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

NEW- Sam Holland -- vocals (replaced Owen Finnegan)

- Spit James (aka Ian Cruikshank) -- guitar 

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 


  line up 3 (1968-69)

NEW - Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar (replaced Sam Holland)

- Peter 'Dino' Dines -- keyboards 

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Spit James (aka Ian Cruikshank) -- guitar 

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 


  musical backing:

- Harry Beckett -- horns

- Lyn Dobnson -- horns

- Henry Lowther -- horns 

- Chris Mercer -- horns 


  line up 4 (1969)

- Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar (replaced Sam Holland)

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

NEW - Jimmy Jewell -- sax

NEW - Henry Lowther -- trumpet, violin

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 

  line up 5 (1969)

- Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar (replaced Sam Holland)

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Jimmy Jewell -- sax

- Henry Lowther -- trumpet, violin

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 

NEW - Mick Weaver -- keyboards (replaced Peter 'Dino' Dines


  musical backing:

- Harry Beckett -- trumpet, flugelhorn

- Mike Davis -- trumpet

- Lyn Dobnson -- sax, flute

- Henry Lowther -- horns 

- Chris Mercer -- sax 

- Barbara Thompson -- sax

- Ray Waleigh -- flute


  line up 6 (1970)

- Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar (replaced Sam Holland)

NEW - Dave Caswell -- trumpet 

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

NEW - Lyle Jenkins -- 

- Henry Lowther -- trumpet, violin

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 

- Mick Weaver -- keyboards (replaced Peter 'Dino' Dines


  line up 7 (1970)

- Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar (replaced Sam Holland)

- Dave Caswell -- trumpet 

NEW - Peter 'Dino' Dines -- keyboards (replace Mick Weaver)

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Lyle Jenkins -- 

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 


  line up 8 (1970)

- Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar (replaced Sam Holland)

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 

NEW - Mick Weaver -- keyboards (replaced Peter 'Dino' Dines


  line up 9 (1971)

- Johnny Almond -- flute

- Miller Anderson -- vocals, guitar 

- Dave Caswell -- trumpet, flugal horn

- Valerie Charrington -- backing vocals

- Peter Dines -- keyboards

- Keef Hartley -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Joe Hiseman -- drums, percussion

- Lyle Jenkins -- tenor sax, flute

- Joan Knighton -- backing vocals

- Gary Thain (RIP 1976) -- bass, guitar, vocals 

- Ingrid Thomas -- backing vocals

- Mick Weaver -- keyboards





- Miller Anderson (solo efforts)

- The Artwoods (Keef Hartley)

- Michael Chapman Band (Keef Hartley)

- Chicken Shack (Keef Hartley)

- Collosseum (Joe Hiseman)

- Dog Soldier (Mick Anderson and Keef Hartley)

- Hanson (Junior Kerr aka Junior Hanson)

- Hemlock  (Miller Anderson, Peter Dines, Chris Mercer, and 

  Mick Weaver)

- The Ice Blue (Keef Hartley)

- The Henry Lowther Band (Henry Lowther)

- Bob Marley and the Wailers (Junior Kerr aka Junior Marvin)

- John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (Keef Hartley)

- The Secrets (Gary Thain)

- Freddie Starr and the Midnighters (Keef Hartley)

- Rory Storm and the Hurricanes (Keef Hartley)

- The Strangers (Gary Thain)

- T. Rex (Peter Dines)

- The Thunderbeats (Keef Hartley)

- Uriah Heep (Gary Thain)

- The Wailers (Junior Kerr aka  Junior Marvin)

- Wynder K. Frog (Mick Weaver)


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Halfbreed

Company: Deram

Catalog: DES 18024

Year: 1969

Country/State: Preston, Lancashire UK

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; minor hissing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6322

Price: $20.00


Drummer Keef Hartley replaced Aynsley Dunbar in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (about half of the United Kingdom seemingly having played for Mayall at one time or another).  After a two year stint with Mayall Hartley was either fired, or (depending on which story you subscribe to), Mayall suggested Hartley consider starting his own band.  Either way, 1968 saw Hartley forming the cleverly-titled Keef Hartley Band.  Recruiting keyboardist Peter 'Dino' Dines, singer Owen Finnegan, guitarist Spit James (aka Ian Cruikshank) and bassist Gary Thain, the group was quickly signed by Deram.


Produced by Neil Slaven and reportedly recorded in just three days, 1969's "Healfbreed" was originally recorded with Owen Finnegan handling lead vocals, but Hartley and Deram executives were apparently unhappy with the results.  Sam Holland was briefly brought in as a replacement, but the tracks were eventually re-recorded with Miller Anderson handling vocals.  While I've never heard the Finnegan original (there's supposedly a bootleg version available), the decision to use Anderson sure seemed like the right move given the man had a voice that was literally born to sing the blues ...  So if you read some of the reviews, this one stands as one of the holy grails of 1960s English blues-rock.  I'm not sure I'd go that far in my praise.  Musically the album served to underscore Hartley's obvious devotion to the genre, though that devotion wasn't nearly as slavish as John Mayall and some of the competition.  Unlike those other acts, the ever eccentric Harley (yes he apparently really did dress up in native Indian gear), was willing to include a variety of non-blues efforts in the repertoire and that gave the album a slightly more diverse and enjoyable feel.  There was no way you were going to hear a commercial tune like 'Just To Cry' or an out-and-out rocker like their cover of B.B. King's 'Think It Over' on a John Mayall album !!!  The playing was uniformly strong, with Mayall's former horn section (Harry Beckett , Lyn Dobnson, Henry Lowther, and Chris Mercer) adding some nice support throughout the collection.


- If you weren't in on the plotline, 'Sacked (Introducing Hearts and Flowers)' probably left you wondering what was going on ...  Opening up with a phone call you got to listen in on a brief conversation where former boss John Mayall fired Hartley.  It was obviously staged, but was still kind of creepy.   rating: ** stars

- Luckily, the follow-on instrumental 'Hearts and Flowers' picked up the energy level with a vaguely Eastern sounding instrumental passage.   rating: *** stars

- That was quickly followed by the album's most rock-oriented performance.  Basically an extended jam, 'Confusion Theme / The Halfbreed' showcased some blazing Miller and James lead guitar (I think Miller handled the leadoff section while James' performance came at the end of the track), along with some of Hartley's impeccable drums, Thain's tasty B-3 Hammond, and some surprisingly impressive horns.  Normally a jam like this wouldn't have made much of an impression on me, but this was quite good.  rating: **** stars

- Showcasing Miller Anderson on lead vocals, 'Born To Die' found Hartley and company diving headlong into standard Chicago electric blues.  Their affection for the genre was obvious, but musically the results weren't particularly interesting with James' solos stealing the spotlight.   rating: *** stars

- A more up tempo take on the blues (complete with a punchy horn arrangement), the rollicking 'Sinnin' for You' actually packed quite a wallop.  Anderson and James were spotlighted throughout.   rating: *** stars

- The band's cover of Sleepy John Estes 'Leavin' Trunk' was probably my favorite performance on the album.  Miller's vocals sounded possessed and his blazing guitar duel with James was worth the price of admission by itself.   Best described as blues for people who don't like the blues ...   rating: **** stars

- Kicked along by some nice Gary Thain bass and James' spidery lead guitar, 'Just To Cry' was the album's most commercial offering.  A very haunting performance that is hard to shake out of your head.   rating: **** stars

- 'Too Much Thinking' found the band returning to a blues motif.  The song wasn't particularly original or enticing, but Anderson's amazing vocals largely made up for those shortcomings.   rating: *** stars

- One of the best B.B. King covers ever recorded - Spit James' Hendrix-styled wah wah guitar simply makes this track unforgettable.     rating: **** stars

- 'Too Much To Take' seemingly ends with Hartley firing Mayall ...  ah revenge is sometimes worth waiting for.     rating: ** stars


"Halfbreed" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sacked (Introducing Hearts and Flowers)' (instrumental)   (arranged by Keef Hartley) - 0:40

2.) Confusion Theme (instrumental)   (Keef Hartley - Ian Cruikshank)  - 1:05

3.) The Halfbreed (instrumental)   (Keef Hartley - Peter Dines - Ian Cruikshank) - 6:07

4.) Born to Die   (Peter Dines - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain - Hewitson) - 9:58

3.) Sinnin' for You  (Keef Hartley - Peter Dines - Hewitson - Owen Finnegan) - 5:51


(side 2)

1.) Leavin' Trunk   (Sleepy John Estes) - 5:55

2.) Just To Cry   (Henry Lowther - Owen Finnegan) - 6:20

3.) Too Much Thinking   (Owen Finnegan - Peter Dines - Gary Thain) - 5:30

4.) Think It Over   (B.B. King) - 4:59

5.) Too Much To Take   (Speech) - 0:32



       full LP cover




Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Battle of North West Six

Company: Deram

Catalog: DES 18035

Year: 1969

Country/State: Preston, Lancashire UK

Grade (cover/record): VG/ VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; mild hiss in spots

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 301

Price: $15.00


The debut LP offered up a decent enough slice of blues-rock and to be truthful, I wasn't expecting much more from 1969's "The Battle of North West Six".  Judging by the liner notes and performance credits (former lead guitarist Spit Jones showed up on a number of the tracks),, the album seemingly featured quite a bit of material previously recorded and shelved ('The Dansette Kid Hartley Jam for Bread', 'Don't Be Afraid', and 'Not Foolish, Not Wise').   That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since the album had a far more diverse sound that the debut, including several tracks that featured commercial radio potential - check out the ballad 'Don't Give Up' and the closer 'Believe In You'.  And here's the funny thing about the album - namesake Hartley was largely relegated to the background.  Yeah, his playing was never less than professional (coupled with Gary Thain's excellent bass), but with the exception of a brief solo on 'Not Foolish, Not Wise' and a couple of brief breaks on 'Don't Give Up', there were no spotlight grabbing solos, or needless displays of exotic percussive instruments.  Kudos to Hartley for putting the spotlight on the band.

1.)  The Dansette Kid Hartley Jam for Bread  (instrumental)   (Hewitson - Spit James - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 3:58

The opening instrumental suite put the spotlight on guitarist Spit Jones who turned in a killer lead guitar that managed to blow way the BS&T-styled horn charts.   Surprisingly effective way to open the album.  According to the liner notes: "Basically a rhythmic tune featuring Spit Jones.  Credit must go to Mick Weaver and Gary Thain for a basic arrangement and also to Henry's brass arrangement."   rating: *** stars

2.) Don't Give Up   (Hewitson - Spit James - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 4:07

I've never associated these guys with sensitive ballads, which certainly made 'Me and My Wman' a major surprise.  Seriously, who would have expected to hear them churning out a pretty, slightly jazzy-tinged, but highly commercial ballad?   I'm not saving it was a great performance - Anderson seemed uncomfortable in the high key, but boy was it ever different.   Here's what the liner notes said: "A good example of the other side of Miller's voice.  This was to have been a short track, but Henry and Harry Beckett played such well integrated solos on the fadeout that it was quite naturally became a feature for flugelhorn."    rating: **** stars

3.) Me and My Woman   (Barge) - 4:24

Showcasing Miller's voice in a far more comfortable, growling pitch, 'Me and My Woman' brought the band back to hard--core blues territory.  "The brings back memories (?) from y days as a Bluesbreaker.  It features Miller on vocal and lead guitar.  A nice, heavy arrangement by Henry, high notes by courtesy of Mike Davis."  rating: *** stars  

4.) Hickory (instrumental)    (Hewitson - Spit James - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 2:45

Another surprise - 'Hickory' was an almost cocktail jazzy instrumental.  Kind of Herbie Mann-ish.  Something you might have heard on your parents hi-fi if you're now in your 50s.   "A flute instrumental written about a horse of thje same name.  main themes and improvisanation by Ray Rarleigh; counter melody by Lynn Dobson and Barbara Thompson.  A musical Breathing space between the last number and 'Don't Be Afraid'."   rating: ** stars

5.) Don't Be Afraid      (Hewitson - Spit James - Keef Hartley - Peter 'Dino' Dines - Gary Thain) - 4:25

Easily the album's highlight, 'Don't Be Afraid' aptly demonstrated Hartley and company could handle a conventional blues-rocker without any sweat.   Once again the spotlight was on Miller who turned in a great vocal and Skip Jones who contributed the album's best guitar solo).  Also kudos to Gary Thain for the underlying bass line.  "A tune from the early days of the band with a solo by Spit Jones."    rating: **** stars


1.) Not Foolish, Not Wise   (Hewitson - Spit James - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 3:56

This could have been a killer track, but quickly degenerated into a faceless mix of hard and horn rock.

"This is an "on-stage" number enhanced by the added power of a big band.  It features Jim Jewell on sax.  Drums by Gretsch."   rating: ** stars

2.) Waiting Around  (Hewitson - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 2:29

"This along with 'Don't Give Up' and 'Believe In You' shows the maturity and originality of the band's presentt compositions."   I'd actually agree with that description.  'Waiting Around' was probably the album's best pop tune with a surprisingly catchy and effective Motown feel ...  seriously !1  rating: **** stars

3.) Tadpole (instrumental)  (Hewitson - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 7:00

A conventional slice of 12 bar blues, this in-studio instrumental jam session went on way too long.  Yeah, you got to hear Mick Weaver, Jim Jewell, and Spit James solo, but so what ...   rating: ** stars

"After several attempts to record the basic track for "Poor Mable" we laid back on a 12 bar for about half an hour.  The section contained here features Mick Weaver and Jim [Jewell]."

4.) Poor Mabel (You're Just Like Me)   (Hewitson - Skip James - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 3:08

Country jam ?   Spit James slide guitar was nice, but otherwise this really wasn't necessary.  

"Basically tongue-in-cheek, but listen to the words."   rating: ** stars

5.) Believe In You   (Hewitson - Keef Hartley - Gary Thain) - 5:23

The album's prettiest song, 'Believe In You' sported a wonderful melody; Miller's nicest vocal, and some horn charts that didn't distract from the song, rather enhanced the overall impact.

"At this point the band personnel changed.  With the now fill time participation of Henry and Jim, we recorded 'Believe In You'.  This number marks an important step forward for the band as it is now.  No extra instruments were added, except for Mick Taylor's guitar in the middle and end passages, and Henry's violin solo.  Everyone in the band felt strongly that this number gives an excellent indication of things to come."    rating: **** stars


Was it as good as "Halfbreed"?  Nope, but still worth looking for since you can still find copies at a reasonable price.

Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Overdog

Company: Deram

Catalog: DES 18057

Year: 1970

Country/State: Preston, Lancashire UK

Grade (cover/record): VG/ VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; split top seam

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 445

Price: $10.00



Say what you will, but Keef Hartley has frequently been willing to try out different genres and that willingness to stretch out was seldom as obvious as on 1971's "Overdog".   Co-produced by Hartley and Nick Slaven, anyone who bought this album expecting to hear another set of English blues-rock was probably going to be at least mildly disappointed by the collection.  And that wasn'tt meant as a criticism since straight-ahead hard rock tunes like the opener 'You Can Choose' and 'Plain Talkin'' were surprisingly strong and impressive.   That said, the album's not-so-secret creative weapon was Miller Anderson who in addition to writing most of the material, handled vocals, and lead guitar. I imagine longtime fans may not have been thrilled by the changes, but to my ears this was one of the band's most accomplished and enjoyable albums.   Kudos to Anderson  for pushing Hartley and company into a more commercial stance.


"Ovedog" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Can Choose   (Miller Anderson) -  5:28 

Opening up with some blazing Anderson wah wah guitar (he turned in killer solo about two minutes into the song), 'You Can Choose' was one of the most mainstream and commercial rockers Hartley ever recorded.  As much as I loved the blues-rock material, this is even better.   rating: **** stars
2.) Plain Talkin'   (
Miller Anderson) -  3:23 

Geez, it took a little time to get acclimated to the thought of Keef and company playing Southern rock ...  but once you got your arms around it, 'Plain Talkin'' was one of the album highlights.   Great FM-ready melody and some nice Anderson lead guitar.   Kudos to keyboardist Mick Weaver on this one as well.  rating: **** stars
3.) Theme Song
  ( Miller Anderson) -  8:05

Kicked along by some wonderful Anderson acoustic guitar and Johnny Almond's tasteful flute, 'Theme Song' was one of the prettiest songs Hartley company ever recorded.  It's also a great track to appreciate what a nice voice Anderson had.  Gritty, but quite melodic ...  rating: **** stars

4.) En Route   (Keef Hartley - Gary Thain)

Around the two minute mark the song switched directions and tempo, opening up into a flute-powered, up-tempo jazz--rock jam that gave keyboardist Mick Weaver and others a chance to stretch out.  rating: *** stars

5.) Theme Song Reprise   (Miller Anderson) -   

At roughly the 7:30 mark the song returned to the original ballad.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) Overdog   (Miller Anderson) -  4:20

Courtesy of Anderson's guitar, the title track opened  up with a distinctive psychedelic feel before mutating into a funky FM jam that spotlighted Weaver's keyboards and  some of Anderson's most melodic lead guitar.  Only complaint on this one was the abrupt ending ...  it literally just hits a brick wall.   rating: **** stars
2.) Roundabout  (
Miller Anderson) -  6:06 

Showcasing the band's horn line-up, the opening instrumental section of 'Roundabout' sounded out of place on the collection (probably explained by the fact it was recorded in 1970 prior to the rest of the album).  The song then shifted gears between soulful vocal sections and some hardcore jazzy instrumental moves.   To my ears its always sounded like two distinct tunes that were somewhat haphazardly stitched together.  I wasn't impressed, but Deram tapped it as a UK single.   rating: ** stars
3.) Imitations From Home (instrumental)    (Keef Hartley)  -  3:34

Even though it was clearly a throwaway jam, centered around Weaver's electric piano, 'Imitations From Home' managed to carve out a nice little jazz-rock groove.   rating: *** stars
4.) We Are All the Same
Miller Anderson) -  4:41 

A wonderful slice of early-'70s country-rock, this was the kind of tune Delaney and Bonnie would have killed to get their hands on.   Highly melodic and exceptionally commercial, it's hard to believe this one didn't provide the band with a mega-seller.   rating: **** stars


As mentioned, the album spun off a British single:




- 1971's 'Roundabout' b/w 'Roundabout II' (Deram catalog number DM 316) 


Genre: blues-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Seventy Second Brave

Company: Deram

Catalog: DES 18065

Year: 1972

Country/State: Preston, Lancashire UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut lower right corner; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4740

Price: $20.00

Cost: $66.00


1972's self-produced "Seventy Second Brave" marked Hartley's first release after splitting with longtime lead singer/guitarist Miller Anderson.  Luckily Hartley found a capable replacement for Anderson in Junior Kerr.  With Kerr picking up the majority of the songwriting chores, the predominant sound remained horn-powered blues-rock, though with tracks such as 'Hard Pill To Swallow', 'Don't You Be Long'' and 'Always Thinking of You' displayed a surprisingly commercial (and occasionally funky) edge. Elsewhere, 'Don't Sign It' found Hartley pulling out another damning taped phone conversation to underscore his views on the music business and contracts.  Clearly nothing groundbreaking, but a steady and enjoyable set of early-1970s English blues-rock.


"Seventy Second Brave" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Heartbreakiní Woman   (Junior Kerr) 

2.) Marin County   (Chris Mercer) 

3.) Hard Pill To Swallow   (Pete Wingfield)

4.) Donít You Be Long   (Junior Kerr) 


(side 2)

1.) Nicturns   (Crowe)

2.) Donít Sign It   (Chris Mercer) 

3.) Always Thinking Of You   (Crowe - Junior Kerr) 

4.) You Say Youíre Together Now   (Gary Thain) 

5.)  What It Is   (Crowe - Junior Kerr)