Stealers Wheel


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1971-72)

- Roger Brown -- guitar, vocals

- Ian Campbell -- bass

- Joe Egan -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

- Rab Noakes -- guitar, vocals

- Gerry Rafferty (RIP 2011) -- vocals, guitar

 

  line up 2 (1972-73)

NEW - Rod Coombes -- drums, percussion

- Joe Egan -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

NEW - Paul Pilnick -- lead guitar (replaced Rab Noakes)

- Gerry Rafferty (RIP 2011) -- vocals, guitar

NEW - Tony Williams -- bass (replaced Ian Campbell)

 

  line up 3 (1973)

- Rod Coombes -- drums, percussion

- Joe Egan -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

NEW - Luther Grosvenor -- lead guitar (replaced Gerry Rafferty)

NEW - DeLisle Harper -- bass (replaced Tony Williams)

- Paul Pilnick -- lead guitar

 

   line up 4 (1973)

- Joe Egan -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

- DeLisle Harper -- bass (replaced Tony Williams)

- Gerry Rafferty (RIP) -- vocals, guitar

 

  line up 5 (1973-75)

- Joe Egan -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

NEW - Joe Jammer -- lead guitar (replaced Luther Grosvenor)

- Gerry Rafferty (RIP) -- vocals, guitar

NEW - Peter Robinson -- keyboards

NEW - Andrew Steele -- drums, percussion (replaced Rob Coombes)

NEW - Gerry Taylor -- bass (replaced DeLisle Harper)

 

  supporting musicians (1973)

- Steve Gregory - sax

- Corky Hale -- harp

- Bernie Holland -- guitar

- Chris Mercer -- sax

- Chris Neale -- harmonica

- Mike Stoller -- harpsichord

 

   line up 6 (1975)

- Joe Egan -- vocals, keyboards, guitar

- Bernie Holland -- lead guitar (replaced Joe Jammer)

- Gerry Rafferty (RIP) -- vocals, guitar

- Andrew Steele -- drums, percussion (replaced Rob Coombes)

- Gary Taylor -- bass (replaced DeLisle Harper)

- Dave Wintour -- bass (replaced Gerry Taylor)

 

  line up 7 (2008-)

- Rod Coombes -- drums, percussion

- Paul Plinick -- lead guitar

- Tony Mitchell -- lead guitar

- Tony Williams -- bass

 

 

 

- Badger (Paul Pilnick)

- The Big Three (Paul Pilnick)

- Lee Curtis and the All Stars (Paul Pilnick)

- Deaf School (Paul Pilnick)

- Joe Egan (solo efforts)

- The Executives (Tony Williams)

- The Fix (Paul Pilnick)

- Gonzalez (DeLisle Harper)

- Luther Grosvenor (solo efforts)

- The Herd (Andrew Steele and Gary Taylor)

- The Humblebums (Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty)

- Tony Jackson's Vibrations.(Paul Pilnick)
- Jethro Tull (Tony Williams)

- Juicy Lucy (Rod Coombes)

- Lulu's Luvers (Rod Coombes)

- Rab Noakes (solo efforts)

- The Olympic Runners (DeLisle Harper and Joe Jammer)

- Gerry Rafferty (solo efforts)

- Requiem (Tony Williams)

- Spooky Tooth (Luther Grosvenor)

- The Strawbs (Rod Coombes)

- Tony Williams (solo efforts

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Steelers Wheel

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP 4377
Year:
 1972

Country/State: Paisley, Reufreshire, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 944

Price: $15.00

 

I can still remember the late Gerry Rafferty owning the early-'80s charts and wondering how it was possible that his easy-going adult contemporary catalog sold so well (not intended as a slam, since I was guilty of buying much of it), while his Stealers Wheel material was all but unknown.  It was confusing and somehow troubling.

 

Having played in a number of school groups including The Mavericks, and earned spare change as a London busker, Gerry Rafferty's professional musical career began with a pair of early-'70s albums with comedian Billy Connelly as The Humblebums.  After The Humblebums called it quits he recorded a 1971 solo album, enlisting old school buddy (and former Mavericks member) Joe Egan for support.  The album "Can I Have My Money Back" went nowhere, but the pair decided to continue their musical collaboration and in 1972 formed the band Stealers Wheel.  By the time A&M Records came knocking at their door, Stealers Wheel featured  a line up of Egan and Rafferty, along with former Juicy Lucy drummer Rod Coombes, lead guitarist Paul Pilnick, and ex-Requiem bassist Tony Williams.

 

Produced by Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller, 1972's cleverly-titled "Stealers Wheel" offered up a nice introduction to the band's mix of English folk-rock, commercial pop, and harder-rock moves.  Blessed with two strong writers and singers in Egan and Rafferty, the collection had more than its share of highlights.  Of course 'Stuck In the Middle with You' was the tune that made them international stars.  A well deserved hit, it wasn't the only standout performance.  Lots of folks enjoy the pair's more folk-oriented repertoire, but personally I love their rock numbers which means the Free-styled 'I Get By' and ''Johnny's Song were personal highlights.   That said, it was one of those albums that (overlooking 'Stuck In the Middle with You'), didn't instantly register with me.   It wasn't that the songs were weak, or the performances lame, rather there was simply something extremely English (technically Scottish) about the collection that took a little getting use to - I've had the same experience with Fairport Convention.  I've always laughed at how misunderstood the album is.  The internet is flooded with people who've compared these tunes to The Beatles.  Not even close.  An equal number have tagged it as Steely Dan-esque.  Again, other than the similarity in band names, no comparison.  Finally you get the folks who confuse the hit with Dylan.  Admittedly Rafferty's gravely delivery had a certain Dylan quality to it, but c'mon folks.  Forget all those comparisons and buy the album simply to hear a quality slice of mid-'70s English rock.   Your grandparents will probably thank you for the purchase.

 

"Stealers Wheel" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Late Again  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:10

Spotlighting the pair's dry, harmonizing voices, 'Late Again' was a perfect introduction to their unique blend of folk and pop influences.   YouTube has a live television performance of the tune at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evmsWcFX3Ao   rating: **** stars

2.) Stuck In the Middle with You  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:24

Yes, it's their signature song; the tune most folks know the band for.  Ironically Egan and Rafferty reportedly churned the song out in a couple of minutes, intending it as a mocking commentary on the music business and a stab a Bob Dylan's oddball persona.  Released as a single, the tune went top-10 in both the US and the UK.   Great tune.  YouTube has a clip of the promotional video the band recorded: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DohRa9lsx0Q    rating: **** stars

3.) Another Morning  (Joe Egan) - 2:47

Starting out as a pretty, but somewhat anonymous ballad, the Egan sung 'Another Morning' took an interesting turn with the introduction of steel drums and a distinctive island feel.   Not exactly the album's standout tune, but fun.   rating: *** stars

4.) I Get By  (Joe Egan) - 3:12

For anyone who thought they were only a lightweight pop band, Egan's 'I Get By' made it clear they'd been ingesting more than their share of Paul Rogers and Free-styled blues-rock.  In fact, the song found Rafferty turning in one of the best Rogers impressions ever recorded.   YouTube has another clip of the band performing the songs on BBC2's  Old Grey Whistle Test television show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27026o9pQag    rating: **** stars

5.) Outside Looking In  (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:50

Framed by Rafferty's dry voice, 'Outside Looking In' was another mid-tempo rocker than got stronger as it went along.  For some reason the tune faded just as it was gathering some real steam and energy.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Johnny's Song  (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:39

With a martial feel, 'Johnny's Song' was another tune that showcased how good these guys could be when they opted to play tougher rock.   rating: **** stars

2.) Next To Me  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:35

With Egan handling lead vocals, do I hear a little Samba in the breezy ballad 'Next To Me' ?   Geez, why not.   The samba feel apparently made the song very popular in Brazil.   Quite sweet.   rating: **** stars

3.) Jose  (Joe Egan) - 3:17

'Jose' found the band returning to Free-styled blues--rock with enjoyable results.   Another track that prematurely faded out.   rating: **** stars

4.) Gets So Lonely  (Joe Egan) - 2:50

The fender propelled ballad 'Gets So Lonely" was probably the album's prettiest performance, showcasing their wonderful vocal harmonies.  Stark and haunting.   rating: **** stars

5.) You Put Something Better Inside of Me  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:38

Another commercial ballad with some wonderful multi-part vocals - always wondered who did the falsetto parts.  rating: **** stars

 

As mentioned, the album spun off a mega-hit in the form of:

- 1973's 'Stuck In the Middle with You' b/w 'Jose' (A&M catalog number AM-1416)

 

The album also saw a pair of UK and European singles in the form of:

 

 

- 1973's 'Late Again' b/w 'I Get By' (A&M catalog number AMS 7013)

- 1973's 'You Put Something (Better Inside Me)" b/w '' (A&M catalog number AMS 7046)

 

 

Riding a hit single and massive album sales, personality conflicts and differences in musical direction reared their ugly heads with Rafferty ultimately quitting the band.   Original bassist Williams also split.   Egan and company promptly recruited former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor and bassist DeLisle Harper as replacements, hitting the road to support the album.  Their efforts helped the album hit # 50 in the States.   (Always loved John Patrick Bryne's cool cover art.)  

 

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Ferguslie Park

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP 4419
Year:
 1973

Country/State: Paisley, Reufreshire, Scotland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 945

Price: $15.00

 

Named after a notorious housing project in Paisley, Scotland, the fact 1973's "Ferguslie Park"  ever saw the light of day is somewhat of a miracle.  Shortly after Stealers Wheel's 1972 debut came out, co-founder Gerry Rafferty bailed.  band co-founder Joe Egan and the remainder of the band soldiered on, recruiting former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor as a Rafferty replacement.  Concerned about the impact Rafferty's departure would have on the band's future success, Egan and the band's management team succeeded in  bringing Rafferty back into the fold, though it came at high price; namely the rest of the band quitting.  That left Egan and Rafferty to record their sophomore album as a duo (just look at the John Patrick Byrne cover art), with support from various studio musicians.  With Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller again producing, the album wasn't a major musical departure from the debut.  In other words, if you liked "Stealers Wheel" you were liable to find this one equally engaging.  Whereas the debut LP took some potshots at the business side of music, Egan and Rafferty were even tougher on the industry this time around.  'Good Businessman' and 'Star' both took devastating aim at the music business.  That said, with a couple of exceptions ('Nothing's Going to Make Me Change My Mind'), listening to the album left you with the feeling this wasn't so much a true band, as a pair of guys simply backing each other up until they could get out of their contractually mandated relationship.   Shame since the album was thoroughly enjoyable, leaving you to wonder what they could have done had their hearts really been in the project.  

A&M promo photo


"Ferguslie Park" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Good Businessman  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 4:12

I've always thought 'Good Businessman' was a nice precursor to the kind of adult contemporary stuff Rafferty would record as a solo artist.  A mid-tempo rocker with some of Rafferty's patented cutting lyrics, it was pleasant, if hardly the album's standout tune.  rating: *** stars

2.) Star  (Joe Egan) - 3:00

'Star; was probably the most blatantly commercial thing they ever recorded.  The irony is that in spite of the bouncy melody and wonderful barrelhouse piano, the lyrics were incredibly dry and cynical, providing a wonderfully on-target portrait of the music business.   The track was tapped as a single.   YouTube has a clip of Egan and Rafferty performing the song for the German Beat Club television program:  The German audience looks bored out of their minds and you couldn;t help but wonder what Egan was thinking during the performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm-pTIlM4uU    rating: **** stars

3.) Wheelin'  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:45

The pair really did have voices that blended well together.  That gif was seldom displayed as well as on the breezy pop-ish 'Wheelin''.   Should have been a single.   rating: *** stars

4.) Waltz (You Know It Makes Sense)   (Joe Egan) - 3:00

Quiet and plantative with an almost jazzy-edge, 'Waltz (You Know It Makes Sense) ' was unlike anything else on the album.  Not particularly catchy, or commercial, but certainly had an interesting, almost lysergic edge to it.  rating: *** stars

5.) What More Could You Want   (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:06

Finally, an upbeat rock tune ...   As such 'What More Could You Want' was easily one of the best tunes on the track and hearing Raffery sing "you got a brand new Telecaster, what more could you want ..." was bound to make you smile.   Should have been a single.  rating: **** stars

6.) Over My Head   (Gerry Rafferty) - 2:53

Pretty, stark  ballad that Rafferty re-recorded on a 1994 solo album.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Blind Faith  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:21

Anyone who doubted they could rock needs to check out the '50s tinged 'Blind Faith'.   Great performance.   rating: *** stars

2.) Nothing's Going to Make Me Change My Mind  (Joe Egan) - 4:01

Egan seemingly had the edge on commerciality and it didn't get much better than 'Nothing's Going to Make Me Change My Mind'.   Another performance that underscored how well their voices blended, this one sounded a lot like a strong Badfinger-styled ballad - the slide guitar solos only underscored the Badfinger comparison.   Seriously, this one should have been a single.   rating: **** stars

3.) Steamboat Row   (Gerry Rafferty) - 2:50

Rafferty takes a stab at country-rock ...   surprisingly nice and another precursor to some of his forthcoming solo work.   rating: *** stars

4.) Back On My Feet Again   (Joe Egan) - 2:36

I've always thought they were at their best on tougher, rock material and Egan's 'Back On My Feet Again' would seem to underscore that feeling.   Another album highlight.   rating; **** stars

5.) Who Cares   (Gerry Rafferty) - 3:44

Rafferty had such a unique, laconic voice and it was seldom displayed as well as on the stark and jazzy 'Who Cares'.   rating: *** stars 

6.) Everything Will Turn Out Fine  (Joe Egan - Gerry Rafferty) - 3:09

'Everything Will Turn Out Fine' was originally recorded and released as a single by the non-Rafferty line-up.  The track was then re-recorded for the album with a slight different arrangement, notably Luther Grosvenor's ringing solo was dropped from the second version.  My opinion, the earlier single version was better, though the album version was still good.   rating: **** stars

 

As mentioned, the album included a couple of singles:

- 1973's 'Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine' b/w 'Johnny's Song' (A&M catalog number AM 1450)

- 1973's 'Star' b/w 'What More Could You Want'  (A&M catalog number AM 1483)

 

In Holland a third single was released:

 

- 1973's 'Good Businessman' b/w 'Blind Faith' (A&M catalog number 13 371 AT)

 

Compared to the debut, the album proved a commercial disappointment, just creeping into the US top-200 charts.

 

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