Ossie Laine Show
Band members Related acts
- Ian Aitchson (aka Ian Aitcheson)-- sax
- Michael Deacon -- organ
- Richard Hanson -- trumpet
- Colin Horton-Jennings -- vocals, flute
- Ossie Laine (aka Ossie Layne) -- vocals
- Tex Lloyd -- sax
- Ron Prudence -- drums, percussion
- Garth Watt-Roy -- lead guitar
- Norman Watt-Roy -- bass
- The Blockheads (Norman Watt-Roy)
- Chaser (Colin Horton-Jennings)
- The Darts (Michael Deacon)
- Ian Drury and the Blockheads (Norman Watt-Roy)
- East of Eden (Garth Watt-Roy)
- Fuzzy Duck (Garth Watt-Roy)
- Glencoe (Norman Watt-Roy)
- Greatest Show On Earth (Garth Watt-Roy and
- The Living Daylights (Garth Watt-Roy and
- The Suzi Quatro Band (Michael Deacon)
- Taggett (Colin Horton-Jennings)
- Vinegar Joe (Michael Deacon)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Maddox 2
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: Spanish pressing; back cover signed by all band members
Catalog ID: 5953
So here's a major obscurity with one of those bizarre international trails you almost have to laugh at. Released by the Spanish Edigsa label, 1969's "Maddox 2" probably would have remained hopelessly obscure save for a handful of hardcore soul collectors and the fact Austrian record collector and dealer Hans Pokora included it in o his book 2001 Record Collector Dreams.
While the spotlight was clearly on front man Ossie Laine, the brains behind this outfit were guitarist Garth Watt-Roy and brother/bassist Norman Watt-Roy. Born in India and raised in Essex, England, by the mid-1960s the brothers had been hopelessly bitten by the rock and roll big. Forming the London-based The Living Daylights, the brothers (along with guitarist Curt Cresswell and drummer Roy Heather), scored a recording deal with Philips, enjoying modest success with a pair of UK singles:
- 1967's 'Let's Live for Today' b/w 'It's Real' (Philips catalog number BF 1561)
- 1967's Always with Him' b/w 'Baila Marial' (Philips catalog number BF 1613)
For hardcore followers, the band also saw a French-only 1967 EP "The Living Daylights" (Fontana catalog number 460 234):
"The Living Daylights" track listing:
1.) Let's Live For Today
2.) It's Real
2.) 'Cos I'm Lonely
Success proved brief and within a year the band was history with Garth and Norman turning their attentions to a nine piece dance band featuring American singer Ossie Laine, sax players Ian Aitchson and Tex Lloyd, keyboardist Michael Deacon, trumpet player Richard Hanson, flute player Colin Horton-Jennings, and drummer Ron Prudence. As The Ossie Laine Show, The band found steady work on the London club scene and as a touring band supporting visiting American soul artists such as Solomon Burke. In the summer of 1968 they also scored a residency playing at the Maddox nightclub located on Spain's Costa Brava. That 1968 summer residency resulted in the release of the "Maddox 2" album. Produced by Jaume Gratacos, technically the album was misleading on a number of counts. As mentioned, namesake Laine (the cover and liner notes also showed his name spelled as 'Layne'), was really little more than a hired gun, singing on half of the album, with Jennings was featured on the flip side. Though you'd never have known it from the surprisingly cool cover art, the album was also misleading given it was a live set.
This information comes off the album liner notes, so take it with a grain of salt ...
"Ossie Layne, born in New Orleans, arrived in London in may 1968, coming from Italy where he had worked for two years. In London was formed the "show" we have recorded here. The musicians in it were previously popular by their performances in other famous British band [sic). London "discotheques" made the succces (sic) of this show. Some time ago Colin Jennings, another vocalist, who besides a very good flute player, was added. When Ossie will return to America, to carry on his "soul" singer career, Jennings will be replacing him. Both are singing in this record. Ossie's music is mainly for dancing. Colin's is for listening. They were recorded in "Maddox", a "discotheque" most "in", at Platja d'Aro, Costa Brava, where a thousand youngsters dance simultaneously. They come from all countries but feel the same things, think the same things and fear the same world. A world that sometimes seems not to offer great hopes to young people. The record could be a document of the ways this young people chooses to forget their fears."
Clearly a result of having spent way too much time on the road, musically these guys were an amazing tight performing unit. Imagine a crack American outfit like Booker T. and the MGs, or Motown's The Funk Brothers and these guys were probably just as capable in a concert environment. Shame Laine wasn't as good. Mind you he wasn't bad, but when he pushed his vocal envelop the results frequently came off as flat and raspy (check out his painful performance on 'Mellow Moonlight'). His stage patter was equally lame - the lukewarm audience participation on 'Knock On Wood' was both sad and funny). In his defense, Laine was enthusiastic enough in a lounge/supper club fashion, and the album sounded like it was recorded with a microphone shoved down his throat. Showcasing four soul classics, side one was clearly meant to keep the dance crowd happy and with a couple of beers to your credit, it worked well. Elsewhere, Norman's bass work was exceptional throughout the first side. With Horton-Jennings handling vocals on most of side two (there was one instrumental), the second half of the album actually sounded like a totally different band. Largely abandoning side one's soul moves, tracks like 'Rock My Plimsoul' and 'Can't Be So Bad' found the band demonstrating their conventional rock capabilities. Mind you while there wasn't anything particularly original on these performances, they were all quite enthusiastic and easily matched most of their better known competitors. Give them an extra star for covering Spirit's 'Fresh Garbage'. Shame they didn't bother to include any original material.
As described above, 'It's Growing' served to highlight the band's strengths and weaknesses. Musically these guys were hot - check out Garth's Steve Cropper-esque lead guitar, or Deacon's Hammond B-3 work. There was simply no way a studio outfit could have pulled off performances nearly as good. Unfortunately, Laine simply couldn't keep up with the rest of the band. rating: *** stars
- While the band remained sizzling, maybe due to the fact it was such a well known song, the focus on their cover of 'Knock On Wood' became Laine. That served to underscore his vocal shortcomings. Imagine a stoned Joe Cocker trying to remember the lyrics to a song and you'd get a feel for this one. Laine's mid-song vamp was hysterical and thoroughly unintelligible. rating: *** stars
- Laine sounded like he was going to stroke out on 'Mellow Moonlight'. His flat and gasping vocals left you wondering whether he was going to actually make it through the song. Wonder if that had anything to do with the fact Jennings sang all of the side two numbers ... rating: *** stars
- Laine's raspy and ragged vocal won't make you forget the Jackie Wilson hit, but the four audience members clapping along, the rickety falsetto harmony vocals, and Roy's bass made their cover of 'Higher and Higher' worth hearing. rating: **** stars
- Side two opened up with the band doing an instrumental cover of Wilson Pickett's 'Midnight Hour'. Nice showcase for Deacon's B3 and for the horns. Other than that, it was essentially a rote copy of the original. rating: ** stars
- Showcasing Horton-Jennings on vocals, their cover of Rod Stewart's 'Rock My Plimsoul' saw the band shifting gears to a credible blues-rock sound. The highlight came in the form a blistering lead solo from Garth Watt-Roy. One of the album highlights ... rating: **** stars
- Horton-Jennings craggy voice proved a surprisingly nice fit for the band's cover of Sly Stone's 'Sing a Simple Song'. rating: *** stars
- 'Can't Be So Bad' started out as a nice blues-rocker, but then hit a brick wall in the for of Horton-Jennings jazzy (and seemingly endless) flute solo. The horns also sounded flat on this one. Yech. rating: ** stars
- Their cover of Spirit's 'Fresh Garbage' was suitably frenetic, but it won't make you forget the original. rating: ** stars
So, in a nutshell what you got here was two bands for the price of one. Side one featured a marginally talented, journeyman American soul singer who couldn't make it in the States and gave it a shot in Europe. The saving grace on side one was having one kick ass backing band ... Side two featured a decent and enthusiastic horn-rock outfit.
"Maddox 2" track listing:
1.) It's Growing (Smokey Robinson - Moore) -
2.) Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd - Steve Cropper) -
3.) Mellow Moonlight (Leon Heywood) -
4.) Higher and Higher (Carl Davis) -
2.) Rock My Plimsoul (Rod Stewart) -
3.) Sing a Simple Song (Sylvester Stewart) -
4.) Can't Be So Bad (J. Miller) -
5.) Fresh Garbage (Jay Ferguson) -
And that was apparently it for The Ossie Laine Show, though most of the band continued on as The Greatest Show On Earth, recording a pair of albums for the Harvest imprint:
- 1970's "Horizons" (Harvest catalog number SHVL 769)
- 1971's "The Going's Easy" Harvest catalog number SHVL 783)
Ian Aitchson and Ron Prudence appear to have subsequently dropped out of music.
Deacon became a member of Vinegar Joe, followed by The Suzi Quatro Band, and The Darts.
Hanson became an in-demand sessions player.
Horton-Jennings joined the short-lived band Chaser, followed by a stint in Taggett.
Garth went into sessions work with membership in Fuzzy Duck and East of Eden.
Norman went on to play with a number of bands including Glencoe, Loving Awareness, The Blockheads/Ian Drury and the Blockheads, and as an occasional member of Madness, and with Wilko Johnson's band. He's also done sessions work and production for various acts.
And as for Laine, I've been able to track down one obscure 1965 45 credited to an Ossie Laine on the obscure English R&B label, though I have no idea if it is the same guy.
- 1965's 'Come Back' b/w 'Never Answer the Phone' (R&B catalog number M.R.B 5006)
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