Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The


Band members               Related acts

- Zal Cleminson -- lead guitar (1972-78)

- Chris Glenn -- bass (1972-78)

- Alex Harvey (RIP 1982) -- vocals, rhythm guitar (1972-78)

- Max Maxwell -- vocals (replaced Alex Harvey (1982-)

- Hugh McKenna -- keyboards, synthesizers (1972-78)

- Ted McKenna -- drums, percussion (1972-78)

 

 

- Alex Harvey (solo efforts)

- Alex Harvey's Soul Band

- Tear Gas (Zal Cleminson, Chris Glen, and Hugh and 

  Ted McKenna)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  The Impossible Dream

Company: Vertigo

Catalog: VEL 2000

Year: 1974

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: moderate ring wear; small cut out hole top right corner; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5321

Price: $20.00

 

In spite of an extensive recording catalog, the late Alex Harvey's all but unknown to most Americans.  I was introduced to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB for short) while living in Europe during the mid-1970s and have to admit that he didn't do a great deal for me.  

 

In spite of that fact I've picked up a couple of SAHB LPs over the years, but never bothered to pull them out of the to-listen-to pile.  Well on a cold Sunday morning 1974's "The Impossible Dream" finally rose to the top of the pile.  I reluctantly grabbed it figuring it would quickly end up in my 'sell' or 'donate' piles.  Wow, was I ever wrong.  This quirky LP was a major surprise to me and ended up on a CD-R.     

 

 

Produced by David Batchelor (he also co-wrote two of the songs) (Derek Wadsworth was credited with producing 'Sergeant Fury'), for a band known for their basic roots rock moves, this album comes off as amazingly complex and enigmatic.  Powered by Harvey's sandpaper voice, spread across the two sides are a strange concept piece ('The Hot City Symphony'), a multi-part song cycle ('Weights Made of Lead'), a couple of dumbfounding slices of amazingly commercial glam-meets-pop ('River of Love'), a big band period piece dance number ('Sergeant Fury'), and a couple of more typical rockers ('Long Hair Music').  Full of twisting melodies, Harvey's always strange lyrics ('eat that cherry pie') great ensemble playing (special recognition to guitarist Cleminson and keyboardist McKenna), Technically it was actually kind of a fragmented mess, but one that was so weird that you're liable to find it difficult to walk away from the results.  Something I don't say very often, but this is one of those rarities in that there isn't a loser track to be found.  Best of the lot - the stunning martial ballad 'Anthem' (who needs to hear Paul McCartney's lame 'Mull of Kyntyre' when you can hear this song?).

 

"The Impossible Dream" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Hot City Symphony (Part 1 - Vambo)   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 5:02

2.) The Hot City Symphony (Part 2 - Man In the Jar)   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna - A. Cleminson) - 8:11

3.) River of Love   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 3:10

4.) Long Hair Music   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 4:36

 

(side 2)
1.) Sergeant Fury   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna - D. Batchelor) - 3:26

2.) Weights Made of Lead   (Alex Harvey) - 2:36

    a.) Money Honey   (J. Stone) 

    b.) Impossible Dream   (M. Leigh - J. Dorian) 

3.) Tomahawk Kid   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna - D. Batchelor) - 4:30

5.) Anthem  (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 7:42

 

For anyone who cares, here's a picture of the original UK cover.  Makes you wonder why anyone bother changing it for the US market.

 

 

Courtesy of YouTube, here are a couple of "The Impossible Dream"era-video clips.  As usual, the quality is all over the map, but then the intent is only to provide you with a taste of how good these guys could be,

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg9FcXmwnYo

('Vambo')

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cutbD7Eb-Lo

('Man In the Jar')

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4q-rRCaG50&feature=related

(Sergeant Fury')

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDMz5DtDICY&feature=related

('The Impossible Dream')

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zuuwG7NuPk

('Anthem')

 

 

There are dozens of SAHB websites out there.  Among the best is this one:

http://www.wunnerful.com/sahb/home.html

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  The Impossible Dream

Company: Vertigo

Catalog: SAH 116

Year: 1974

Country/State: Glasgow, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: UK original pressing

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5416

Price: $25.00

 

Darn if life isn't strange.  No sooner had I finished writing the above blurb when I stumbled across a copy of the UK pressing ....

 

"The Impossible Dream" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Hot City Symphony (Part 1 - Vambo)   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 5:02

2.) The Hot City Symphony (Part 2 - Man In the Jar)   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna - A. Cleminson) - 8:11

3.) River of Love   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 3:10

4.) Long Hair Music   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 4:36

 

(side 2)
1.) Sergeant Fury   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna - D. Batchelor) - 3:26

2.) Weights Made of Lead   (Alex Harvey) - 2:36

    a.) Money Honey   (J. Stone) 

    b.) Impossible Dream   (M. Leigh - J. Dorian) 

3.) Tomahawk Kid   (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna - D. Batchelor) - 4:30

5.) Anthem  (Alex Harvey - Hugh McKenna) - 7:42

 

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