Jackson Heights

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-70)

- Charlie Harcourt -- keyboards, guitar, backing vocals

- Lee Jackson -- vocals, guitar

- Tommy Sloane -- drums, percussion

- Mario Tapia -- bass, guitar, backing vocals


  line up 2 (1970-72)

- Brian Chatton -- vocals, keyboards

- Lee Jackson -- vocals, guitar, bass

- John McBurnie -- vocals, guitar, keyboards


  supporting musicians:

- Tony Connor - drums

- Mo Fletcher -- bass, harmonica

- Michael Giles -- drums, percussion

- Keith Harris -- banjo

- Race McCleod - drums

- Oli Oliver -- fiddle

- Johnny Toogood - sax


  line up 3 (1972-73)

- Brian Chatton -- keyboards, backing vocals

- Michael Giles -- drums, percussion

- Lee Jackson -- vocals, bass, guitar

- John McBurnie -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Ian Wallace -- drums, percussion




- 21st Century Schizod Band (Michael Giles and  Ian Wallace)

- Boys Don't Cry (Brian Chatton)

- Brian Chatton (solo efforts)

- Every Which Way 

- Gary Farr & the T Bones (Lee Jackson)

- Flaming Youth (Brian Chatton)

- Fragile (Brian Chatton)

- Giles, Giles & Fripp (Michael Giles)

- The Ginger Pig Band (Lee Jackson)

- Junco Partners (Charlie Harcourt)

- King Crimson (Michael Giles)

- The John Miles Band (Brian Chatton)

- The Nice (Lee Jackson)

- Refugee (Lee Jackson)

- Snafu (Brian Chatton)

- The T. Bones (Lee Jackson)

- The Tornados (Dave Watts)

- Uzlot (Brian Chatton)

- Vapour Trails (John McBurnie)

- The Warriors (Brian Chatton)



Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Jackson Heights

Company: Verve

Catalog: V6-509

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6073

Price: $14.00


So here's yet another early-1970s British all star outfit who never made much of an impact in the States (let alone the UK).


Bassist/singer Lee Jackson's initial claim to success came as a member of Gary Farr & the T Bones and the quasi-classical/progressive oriented The Nice.  When that blow-hard progressive outfit called it quits Jackson decided it was time to simplified his musical ambitions.  Switching to vocals and acoustic guitar he recruited a couple of longstanding friends in the form of multi-instrumentalist Charlie Harcourt, drummer Tommy Sloane, and bassist Mario Tapia.  The cleverly titled Jackson Heights then quickly scored a contract with the English Charisma label.  



                Vertigo promo photo


I've never understood why American record labels feel the need to re-title and repackage so many English albums for an American audience that is going to ignore the product anyway.   Released in the UK in 1972 under the title "Raggamuffin's Fool", Verve Records decided to release the set in the States under the clever title "Jackson Heights" - the US version featured the same track listing as the original UK pressing, but with more conventional cover art ...


Vertigo catalog 6360 077


For what its worth, I'd tell you this is their best album.  The overall sound wasn't a drastic departure from their two earlier studio efforts, offering up a disproportionate number of keyboard propelled ballads and mid-tempo numbers, but with newcomers Chatton and McBurnie helping out with writing chores on the majority of the ten tracks, material like 'Maureen', 'Oh You Beauty', and 'As She Starts'' exhibited a commercial edge missing from the earlier releases.  That wasn't to imply these guys had become a top-40 creation.  Jackson's progressive roots remained firmly on display in the form of 'Catch a Thief'' and a cover of The Nice's 'Chorale (Five Bridges Suite)', but about half of the tracks had radio potential.  The other big change came in the vocals department.  On tracks like 'Catch a Thief' and 'Poor Peter'  Jackson's voice remained an acquired taste.  He still didn't have much in the way of range and the comparison to a flat Bob Dylan wasn't that far off the mark, but this time around those limitations weren't quite as blatant, due in large measure to the fact Chatton and McBurnie were both quite capable singers, handling most of the lead vocals and ensuring plenty of sweet harmony vocals were scattered throughout the mix.


- Opening up with some pretty Chatton keyboards and martial drums from guest drummer Michael Giles, 'Maureen' should have provided the band with a major commercial success.  Easily one of their most radio-friendly tunes, this one had a great melody; a great stumbling hook, and some fantastic harmony vocals.  Released as a single it vanished without a trace.   rating: **** stars

- In spite of the discordant opening, 'Oh You Beauty' was a fragile and extremely pretty ballad that again showcased Chatton's keyboards and the group's nifty harmony vocals.   rating: *** stars

- 'As She Starts' (the lyric was actually " ... as she started ...") began as a mid-tempo number sporting one of the album's prettiest melodies and another set of gorgeous vocals, but eventually managed to morph into side one's only true rocker.  To my ears this quirky number's always sounded like something Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart might have recorded for a 10cc album.  One of the LP standouts ...  rating: **** stars

- 'Bobop' was another pretty ballad with an instantly intriguing hook; perhaps a tad too MOR for my tastes, but with considerable top-40 potential.  rating: *** stars

- 'Catch a Thief' found the band putting on their best progressive faces.  To my ears this one actually recalls something out of the early Genesis catalog.  Kudos to Chatton for turning in a killer keyboard performance.   rating: *** stars

- Opening up with some Chatton barrelhouse piano, 'Ragamuffin's Fool' sounded like an English music hall-meets Brit pop mash-up.  Very bouncy and upbeat, this was the kind of track Paul McCartney effortlessly tossed out on his solo albums.  As such it's a track you'll either love, or hate with a passion.  I'll admit to being in the former category.  rating: **** stars

- Can't say I ever liked The Nice's original version of 'Chorale (Five Bridges Suite)' and this update wasn't a major improvement, though it was at least short ...   rating: ** stars

- Another Chatton keyboard-propelled tune that took awhile to get going, 'Chips and Chicken' fell somewhere in the spectrum between English music hall, blues, and 10cc-styked pop.  Quite quirky.   rating: ** stars

- 'Poor Peter' found the band taking a stab at a conventional country number.  Not a particular creative move, the misstep was compounded by the fact Jackson handled the lead vocal.   rating: ** stars

- 'Bellyful of Water' closed the album with a keyboard-propelled, rollicking folk-rock number.  Very English with some nice thee part harmony vocals.   rating: *** stars


As mentioned above, the album was tapped for a single in the form of:



- 1972's 'Maureen' b/w 'Long Time Dying' (catalog number Verve VK-10704)


This is probably the one to start with if you're interested in checking the group out.  


The band again toured in support of the album, but simply couldn't score a break.


"Jackson Heights" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Maureen   (John McBurnie - Lee Jackson - Brian Chatton) - 3:50

2.) Oh You Beauty   (John McBurnie) - 4:00

3.) As She Starts   (John McBurnie - Brian Chatton) - 3:46

4.) Bobop   (John McBurnie -  Brian Chatton) - 3:56

5.) Catch a Thief   (Lee Jackson - Brian Chatton) - 4:48


(side 2)
1.) Ragamuffin's Fool   (John McBurnie - Brian Chatton) - 4:20

2.) Chorale (Five Bridges Suite)   (Keith Emmerson - Lee Jackson) - 3:20

3.) Chips and Chicken   (John McBurnie - Brian Chatton) - 3:57

4.) Poor Peter    (Lee Jackson) - 2:04

5.) Bellyful of Water   (John McBurnie - Brian Chatton) - 3:50


Finally adding a drummer to the line Up (actually two in the form of Michael Giles and Ian Wallace),  band struggled on releasing a fourth studio set "Bump 'n' Grind" before calling it quits at the end of 1973.  


Jackson subsequently partnered with Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz in the band Refugee (made even more ironic given Jackson had previously tried to recruit Moraz for a late inning version of Jackson Heights).  Frustrated with the business, he dropped out, relocating to Los Angeles where he lived until the early 1990s.  Back in the UK he resumed a somewhat low-keyed musical career focusing his time on the blues oriented Ginger Pig Band and occasional Nice reunions.


Chatton hooked up with Ian Anderson in the short-lived Fragile, played in Boys Don't Cry, Uzlot (with Yes' Jon Anderson), toured with John Miles, Meatloaf, and others, wrote material for others, became an in-demand studio player, recorded a couple of solo efforts, and enjoyed success as a talent scout/manager (you can credit, or blame him for NSync's early successes)..