Stone the Crows


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1: (1970-71)

- Colin Allen -- drums, percussion
- Maggie Bell -- vocals
- Jim Dewar (RIP 2002) -- vocals, bass
- Les Harvey (RIP 1972) -- guitar

- John McGinnis -- keyboards

  line up 2 (1971-72))

- Colin Allen -- drums, percussion
- Maggie Bell -- vocals
- Les Harvey (RIP 1972) -- guitar 

- John McGinnis -- keyboards (70-72)
NEW - Steve Thompson (RIP) -- bass (replaced Jim Dewar)

 

  line up 3 (1972-73)

- Colin Allen -- drums, percussion
- Maggie Bell -- vocals
NEW - Ron Leahy -- keyboards (replaced John McGinnis)
NEW - Jimmy McCulloch (RIP 1978) -- guitar (replaced  Les Harvey)
- Steve Thompson (RIP) -- bass 

 

 

 

 

- The Alex Harvey Soul Band (Les Harvey)

- Blues Council (Les Harvey)

- Maggie Bell (solo efforts)

- The British Blues Quintet (Colin Allen)

- Cartoone (Les Harvey)

- Dantalian's Chariot (Colin Allen)

- Denimstoun Palais Band (Maggie Bell)

- Dr. Hip and the Blues Operation (Ron Leahy)

- The Dukes (Ron Leahy)
- Focus (Colin Allen)

- Kinning Park Ramblers (Mggie Bell and Les Harvey

- Lulu and the Lovers (Jim Dewar)

- John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (Colin Allen)
- McGuinness Flint (John McGinnis)

- The Mecca Band (Maggie Bell)

- Midnight Flyer (Maggie Bell)

- Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, (Colin Allen)
- Thunderclap Newman (Jimmy McCulloch)

- Totta's Blues Band (Colin Allen)
- Robin Trower (Jim Dewar)
- Paul McCartney and Wings (Jimmy McCullcoch)

- White Trash (Ron Leahy)
 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Stone the Crows

Company: Polydor

Catalog: 244019

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Country/State: UK

Comments: gatefold sleeve; small punch hole lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3109

Price: $30.00

 

Stone the Crows is one of those bands that has a slew on on-line biographies, so I won't waste a lot of time on their history.   Singer Alex Harvey can take credit for the band.  He met Maggie Bell when she got up on stage to sing a tune.  Harvey was so taken with her Joplin-styled voice, he introduced her to his younger brother Leslie, then working in the Glasgow-based Kinning Park Ramblers.  She was invited to join the Ramblers and when they called it quits she pursued a couple of other projects, before reuniting with Harvey in The Power of Music, which morphed into The Power Bell, and The Power.  The group became popular on the Glasglow club scene and undertook a tour of American military bases in the Germany.  Promoter/manager Peter Grant caught one of those performances and stepped in to manage the band (he was also credited with the band's name - the name coming from an expression he used when hearing the band for the first time).  

 

Released in 1970, 'Stone the Crows" was produced by Mark London (Peter Grant listed as executive producer).  This is one of those albums that blues fans tend to rave about.  I'll readily admit I don't get what the excitement's about.  There was no doubt the band had ore than their share of talent.   Les Harvey was a first-rate guitarist (check out his acoustic work on 'Blind Man' and their cover of 'Fool On the Hill').   Bassist/singer James Dewar was equally impressive, though largely kept to the sidelines. That said, Maggie Bell's always struck me as being a Janis Joplin-wannabe.  Her screechy delivery has the same impact on me as chalk on a blackboard.  Similarly, the band's blues-heavy repertoire left me cold and indifferent.  That wasn't to imply the album was without some merit.  The atypical rocker 'Raining In Your Heart' showed they could handle more than blues-rock retreads and when they toned down their vocal gymnastics, Bell and Dewar could actually blend their voices nicely (the opening of the side lone suite 'I Saw America').

"Stone the Crows" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) The Touch of Your Loving Hand   (Jimmy Dewar - Les Harvey)  - 6:03  rating: *** stars

I'll readily admit I'm not the biggest blues fan on the planet, but there's something intriguing about the late Jimmy Dewar's voice.   Lots of fans swear by Madeline Bell's Joplin-esque voice, but on 'The Ouch of Your Loving Hand' Dewar blows her out of the water.  

2.) Raining In Your Heart  (Jimmy Dewar - Les Harvey) - 5:00   rating: **** stars

Powered by Les Harvey's blazing fuzz guitar, 'Raining In Your Heart' demonstrated these guys could do more than tepid blues numbers.  It was also one of the isolated tracks where Bell and Dewar seemed to compliment one another rather than trying to out-power one another.   No idea when or where it was recorded, but YouTube has an abbreviated clip of the band playing this tune before a bored (or stoned) looking audience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9yNtGcRbKs 

3.) Blind Man   (Josh White Jr.) - 5:11  rating: ** stars

Nice showcase for Harvey's acoustic guitar and it would have been even better were if not for the fact Bell's yelping voice kicked in about two minutes into the song.

4.) The Fool On the Hill   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 4:09  rating: ** stars

Hum, turning this classic Beatles  tune into a bluesy number was seemingly one of those ideas that sounded better in theory than in reality.  Bell being allowed free reign to display some of her most irritating excesses certainly didn't help the end results.  

 

(side 2)
1.) I Saw America   (Daevid Allen - Colin Allen - Les Harvey - Mark London) - 17:20  rating: *** stars

Damn, a side long, four part suite with a title that was as pretentious as their attempt to blend blues, rock, and soul influences ...  So here's the surprising thing; parts of it were quite good.  The opening segment showcased Harvey's tasty acoustic guitar and found Dewar and Bell limiting their vocal excesses.   Elsewhere Dewar was given a brief shot at the spotlight (the bluesy section that started at the 4:20 mark),, while there was also plenty of Harvey's slashing guitar buried throughout the 17 minutes.  Nah, it was far from perfect ...

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  'Ontinuous Performance

Company: Polydor

Catalog: PD 5037

Year: 1972

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Country/State: UK

Comments: white label promo; includes promotional insert

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $20.00

 

In the wake of lead guitarist Les Harvey's untimely death (he was electrocuted during a May, 1972 Stone the Crows concert), the rest of the band halfheartedly elected to continue onwards. Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green was initially considered as a replacement, but proved too unreliable for the position.  Ex-Thunderclap Newman guitarist Jimmy McCullouch was finally selected for the vacancy. Interestingly, 

 

Interestingly, I'd seen several references indicating this was a live set (reinforced by a quick look at the album cover).  As such, 1972's "Ontinuous Performance" came as a surprise to me. Tain't a live set, rather it was another studio set.   With the band struggling to recover from Harvey's tragic death, most of the seven tunes reflected material that had at least been started prior to his passing.  As such Harvey's presence was keenly felt throughout the album - particularly his slide guitar moves, though, as on earlier efforts, exemplified by tracks such as 'On the Highway' (one of the final numbers written by Harvey), 'Good Time Girl', and 'Penicillin Blues' (don'cha just love the title?), Bell's rough Joplin-styled voice remained the primary focus.  While there wasn't any doubt as to Bell's talent, to my ears her lack of subtlety (she seemed to have two singing styles - loud and louder), was a major source of irritation. At least to me, the real highlights came in the form of Harvey's lead guitar work. His contributions throughout the LP were nothing less than stellar.  Be sure to check out his beautiful solo on 'One More Chance'.  McCulloch's contributions were limited to a couple of tracks including the single 'Good Time Girl'.     While the swampy instrumental 'King Tut' and the atypically melodic ballad  'One More Chance' were easily as good as anything they'd previously recorded, overall the band sounded flat, depressed, and unmotivated (understandable given their recent history). While the album went top-40 in the UK, it did nothing in the States and within a year Bell had struck out in search of a solo career; the rest of the band subsequently calling it quits.

"Ontinuous Performace" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) On the Highway (Les Harvey - Ron Leahy) - 

As mentioned, Bell's sharp, shrill voice frequently rubs me the wrong way, but the rocking opening track is one of those exceptions.   Singing in a slightly deeper register, she comes off quite well on the blues-rocker 'On the Highway'.   rating: **** stars
2.) One More Chance (Ron Leahy) - 

'One More Chance' was an atypical, laidback ballad that actually demonstrated some of Bell's vocal charms.   When she wasn't trying to over sing, she actually sounded quite impressive.   McCulloch turned in a nice lead solo on the tune and I've always loved John McGinnis' cheesy synthesizers on this one.   rating: *** stars
3.) Penicillin Blues (Terry - Maggie Bell) - 

Straightforward country blues number with some raunchy lyrics - Bell's voice was well suited for the genre, but can't say it did all that much for me.    rating: ** stars
4.) King Tut (instrumental) (Les Harvey - Ron Leahy) - 

One of the last things written by guitarist Harvey, 'King Tut' was an interesting atmospheric instrumental. On most albums something like this probably would have been relegated to filler status, but here the slinky melody and slide guitar moves made for one of the album standout performances.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Good Time Girl (Colin Allen - Maggie Bell - Steve Thomson - Ron Leahy) - 

Released as a single, 'Good Time Girl' was a good example of the band's strengths and weaknesses.  Musically it was a decent enough, horn-propelled blues-rocker; not particularly original, but energetic.  Unfortunately Bell's shrill vocals were a definite disincentive to my ears.   rating: ** stars
2.) Niagra (Ron Leahy) -    YouTube has a clip of the band performing the tune for a 1973 German television program.   ratiing: *** stars
3.) Sunset Cowboy (Colin Allen - Ron Leahy) - 

To be honest, but the time you got to 'Sunset Cowboy' the album started to suffer from a serious case of 



In case anyone cares, Allen reappeared as a member of Focus, while McCulloch joined Paul McCartney and Wings. Sadly, he died of a drug overdose in 1979.

 


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