Riley, Riley, Wood and Waggett (Shape of the Rain)
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1966-71)
- Keith Riley -- vocals, guitar
- Eric Hine -- keyboards
line up 2 (2012)
- Pete Dolan --bass (replaced Len Riley)
- Keith Riley -- vocals, guitar
- Devilhead (Brian Wood)
- Fire Ants (Brian Wood)
- Hater (Brian Wood)
- Shape (Keith Riley, Len Riley, Ian 'Tag' Waggett, & Brian Wood)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Title: Riley, Riley, Wood and Waggett
Catalog: NE 7
Country/State: Eckington Parish, Sheffield UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing; gatefold sleeve
Catalog ID: SOLD 1028
Price: SOLD $400.00
Born and raised in Sheffield (as the debut album liner notes pointed
out, Sheffield was also Joe Cocker's stomping grounds), brothers Keith (vocals/guitar) and Len (bass) Riley, cousin/guitarist Brian Wood and friend/drummer Tag Waggett were Shape of the Rain.
Keith and Brian started out as an Everly Brothers inspired duo, eventually
adding Len to the line-up and switching their musical interests.
Originally known as The Gear followed by a stint as The Reaction, they
eventually added Waggett to the line-up,. Years of dances, club, and
university performances helped the quartet generate a regional
audience. Finding a supporter in the form of David
McPhie, who'd served as Joe
Cocker's initial manager, they started opening for then rising bands like
Fleetwood Mac, Free, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, eventually attracting the
attention of several English labels, before signing with RCA's short-lived Neon
1.) Woman (Keith Riley - Len Riley - Brian Wood - Tag Waggett) -
a sucker for a song that starts with a good guitar introduction, so 'Woman'
had me from the opening chords. A nice introduction to the band's
mixture of sweet harmony vocals and nifty folk-rock, the track managed to
find a sweet spot between radio-friendly commerciality and FM
credibility. Add in a tasteful lead guitar solo and you had a great
way to start the album. That also probably explains why Neon tapped it
as a single. rating:
folk-rock tends to be dreary (guess it has something to do with the
climate), but 'Patterns' broke the pattern with a glistening slice of jangle
rock. Roger McGuinn and company would have killed for access to
a song like this one and the group vocals were simply
acoustic number that took a little time to kick into gear, but was worth the
wait, if only for the blended vocals and imaginative acoustic guitar
work. rating: *** stars
folk-rock effort featuring a different (slightly more fragile) lead singer
on this one and the country-tinges (Brian Wood's pedal steel), took a little
getting accustomed to, but after a couple of spins, I warmed up to this one
as well and the dueling pedal steel and slide guitar segment was one of the
album highlights. YouTube has an engaging clip of the reunited band
performing the track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FesXBD5fxGY
rating: **** stars
after the studio they were recording in. rating:
1.) Yes (Keith Riley - Len Riley - Brian Wood - Tag Waggett) -
two found the band adding a lysergic tinge to their patented folk-rock
sound. Kicked along by Len Riley's hypnotic bass line and some of the
album's best jangle guitar work, this was easily one of the album
standouts (although, it sure sounded like the chorus was singing 'yeah'
rather than 'yes'). rating:
up with some nice Woods pedal steel guitar and what sounded like guest
keyboardist Eric Hine on harpsichord, 'Dusty Road' was one of the album's
prettiest ballads. Few bands do lonesome as well as these
guys. rating: ****
by some of the album's best slide guitar work, 'Willowing Trees' has always
reminded me of the kind of tune Donovan wanted to write when he was in his
prime mid-'60s psych stage. Mesmerizing melody that sticks with
you long after the album's finished. rating:
what was probably the album's more commercial tune, 'I'll Be There' was
another album highlight. Glowing melody with a guitar riff I'd kill to
learn. I've asked my guitar playing son to see if he can figure the
progression out. Again, you had to wonder how radio missed these
guys. rating: ****
Neon pulled at least one from the LP, though I've never run across a copy:
- 'Woman' b/w 'Wasting My Time' (Neon catalog number NE 1901)
In England the set vanished without a trace and unfortunately never saw an American release.
- 1971's 'My Friend John' b/w 'Yes' (RCA catalog number 2129)
Interesting how fate works. I recently sold another copy of this album and took the opportunity to revisit the album and update my comments. With the holidays and family events, I just hadn't gotten around to uploading the revised write-up. And out of the blue came the following two emails:
I'm an Administrator of the Shape Of The Rain Facebook Page and also Cousin of Ian (Tag) Waggett, the drummer of the band. Would you care to search on Google for their Facebook Page and 'Like'? Two members of the Band are also Administrators and the others read the Page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shape-Of-The-Rain/144648272268908
All of us connected with the Band would like to send our thanks for your very positive reviews of Riley, Riley, Wood and Waggett and the CD 'Shape Of The Rain', usually known by fans as the 'Red Album'. It means a great deal to members of the band that their work - song writing and music, after all this time, is still so warmly appreciated all over the world. They have been through some hard times and experienced disappointment. If they had initially signed with Harvest, rather than the short lived RCA/NEON, their name and work may have become more widely known.
Yes, they were ahead of their time somewhat in the middle 60s, with as you say only a few other bands such as Pink Floyd, producing similar imaginative, self penned work. SOTR were using light shows along with their music in the mid 60s, which was very unusual for the time. They had no idea then about what Pink Floyd were doing, 150 miles or so away near to London, where there were more contacts and opportunities etc. Members of Pink Floyd were also upper middle class, had an excellent education and were generally more sophisticated. Shape Of The Rain were all working class boys from a mining village near to Sheffield, UK and went to local schools. Their fathers were ordinary men, so what they were trying to do at an early age, in the provincial heart of England with no guidance, is I feel even more to be admired.
Those of us connected with the Band are not now concerned with success or money, but more with their lasting legacy. It would be more than nice if you would continue to help in anyway possible with this, as you have already, by promoting their music and history.
SOTR's manager in the 60s was David McPhie, who was also involved with Joe Cocker's early career and helped him to land his first recording contract.
Thanks once again.
Regards, Roy Middleton (February 2014)
Thank you for the review. You are spot on with your assessment of how the band progressed. Nobody was playing songs that came near to what we were doing. Next was the melodic phase. The album reflects that but we were never happy with it. Phase three was all about rock. The addition of Pete Dolan who played bass and guitar changed our entire outlook. We never neglected melody. But boy we could rock ...
Keith Riley (February 2014)
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