Spooky Tooth


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-69)

- Luther Grosvernor --  lead guitar
- Mike Harrison -- vocals, keyboards 
- Michael Kellie -- drums, percussion
- Greg Ridley (RIP 2003) -- bass
- Gary Wright -- vocals, keyboards 

 

  line up 1 (1969-70)

- Luther Grosvernor -- lead guitar
- Mike Harrison -- vocals, keyboards 
- Michael Kellie -- drums, percussion
- Gary Wright -- vocals, keyboards 

 

  line up 3 (1970)
- Luther Grosvernor -- lead guitar

- Mike Harrison -- vocals, keyboards

- Michael Kellie -- drums, percussion
NEW - Henry McCulloch (aka Heny McCullogh) (RIP)  -- lead guitar

  (replaced Gary Wright)
NEW - Alan Spenner -- bass 
NEW - Chris Stainton -- guitar, bass, keyboards

 

  line up 4 (1970)
- Mike Harrison -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - John Hawkin -- keyboards (replaced Alan Spenner)

- Michael Kellie - drums, percussion
- Alan Spenner -- bass 
- Chris Stainton -- guitar, bass, keyboards

NEW - Steve Thompson -- bass (replaced Henry McCulloch)

 

  line up 5 (1973)
NEW - Bryson Graham -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Michael Kellie)

- Mike Harrison - vocals, keyboards 

NEW - Ian Herbert -- bass (replaced Steve Thompson)
NEW - Mick Jones -- guitar, backing vocals (replaced  Chris Stainton)
NEW - Gary Wright - vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 5 (1973)
NEW - Mike Kellie -- drums (replaced Bryson Graham) 

- Mike Harrison - vocals, keyboards 
- Mick Jones - guitar, backing vocals 

NEW - Chris Stewart - bass (replaced Ian Herbert)
- Gary Wright - vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 6 (1973-74)
NEW - Keith Ellis -- bass (replaced Christ Stewart)

- Mick Jones - guitar, backing vocals

NEW - Mike Patto -- vocals (replaced Mike Harrison)

- Gary Wright - vocals, keyboards

 

  line up 7 (1974)
NEW - Bryson Graham - drums, percussion (replaced  Michael Kellie)

NEW - Val Moore -- bass

- Mike Patto -- vocals 

NEW - Chris Stewart - bass (replaced Ian Hebert)
- Gary Wright - vocals, keyboards

 


 

 

- Art

- The Bluebottles (Mike Patto)

- Bo Street Runners (Mike Patto) 
- Boxer (Mike Patto)

- The Chicago Lines Blues Band (Mike Patto)

- Decameron

- Dick and the Firemen (Mike Patto)

- Eire Apparent (Henry McCullough and Chris Stewart)
- Foreigner (Mick Jones)

- Frampton's Camel (Mike Kellie)
- The Grease Band (Chris Stainton, Henry McCullouch,

  Alan Spenner)

- Luther Grosvenor (solo efforts)
- Mike Harrison (solo efforts)
- Humble Pie (Greg Ridley)

- Illusion (John Hawkin)

- Junkyard Angels (Mike Harrison and Ian Herbert)

- The Alvin Lee Band (Bryson Graham)
- Henry McCullough (solo efforts)
- Mott the Hopple (Luther Grosvenor)
- The Only One (Mike Kellie)

- Patto's People (Mike Patto)

- The People (Henry McCulloch and Chris Stewart)

- Stealers Wheel (Luther Grosvenor)

- Stone the Crow (Steve Thompson)

- Timebox (Pike Patto)
- The VIPs
- Wings (Henry McCulloch)

- Van Der Graff Generation (Keith Ellis)

- The Leslie West Band (Mick Jones)
- Gary Wright (solo efforts)
- Wonderwheel (Gary Wright, Bryson Graham, and  Mick Jones) 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  It's All About Spooky Tooth

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS 9080

Country/State: US/UK

Year: 1968

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: UK pressing; extra heavy vinyl

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $40.00

 

Evolving out of the R&B oriented VIPs (who metamorphosed into the progressive leaning Art (see separate entries), Spooky Tooth was formed in late 1967 by expatriate American keyboard player Gary Wright (then studying medicine in England) and English singer/guitarist Mike Harrison. With the addition of lead guitarist Luther Grosvernor, drummer Michael Kellie and bassist Greg Ridley, extensive touring tightened the band's chops, leading to a deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records.

1968's "It's All About Spooky Tooth" found the band teamed with producer Jimmy Miller. Propelled by Wright's ear-shattering vocals and aggressive keyboards, the collection served to establish the band's patented heavy sound. Musically the set offered up a standard mix of popular covers (Janis Ian's "Society's Child" and Dylan's "Too Much of Nothing") and original efforts ("Love Really Changed Me" and "Here I Lived So Well"). What differed them from the competition was their distinctive over-the-top, heavy-metal-meets-blues feel. Tracks such as "Here I Lived So Well", "Sunshine Help Me" and a molten cover of John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" simply oozed an aura of 'heavy' ... While they weren't exactly the year's most subtle offerings, "It's All About a Roundabout" and "It Hurts You So" at least demonstrated they could lighten up a bit. Elsewhere, while his appearances were far and few between, on the psych influenced "Bubbles" Harrison's gruff delivery offered up a nice counterpart to Wright's shrillness. 

- I'll readily admit that I've always thought Janis Ian's version of 'Society's Child' was one of the most irritating songs I've ever heard.  Sure, the sentiments were in the right spot, but the song itself is cloying and hyper-sensitive.  Pretty much what you'd expect from a then-17 year old.  ANd then there's the Spooky Tooth version which in attempting to 'heavy-up' the track  manages to make it even worse.  Gary Wright's church organ introduction had potential, but then Wright shifted into hyper-emotive mode and double tracked his lead vocals with results that sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks getting stoned on whippets.   rating: ** stars

- Thankfully ' Love Really Changed Me' found the band returning to a more mainstream rock-oriented sound.  Kicked along by a nice Luther Grosvenor guitar riff, the song had a bouncy, almost-pop flavored melody.  Imagine mid-era Spencer Davis Group and you'd be in the right aural ballpark.   grading: *** stars

- A mid-tempo, vaporous ballad, ' Here I Lived So Well' was pretty enough showcasing some of the band's sweetest, but never really got a great deal of energy going.  In fact, I'd argue Greg Ridley's bass line was probably the standout part of the track.  rating: *** stars

- Dylan wrote it; The Band made it famous ...  Spooky Tooth's cover of ' Too Much of Nothing' was certainly enjoyable (always loved Grosvenor's banjo accompaniment), but nothing here was going to make you forget The Band's version.   rating: *** stars

- Easily one of the best song on the album, the Wright-penned ' Sunshine Help Me' sported a great, pounding melody that was actually good enough to make you overlook Wright's stratospheric falsetto.  rating: **** stars

- Side two found the band returning to a more pop-oriented sound with the enjoyable ' It's All About a Roundabout'.  For me the winning ingredients were Wright deft harpsichord flourishes and some nice barrelhouse piano.  One of the best melodies Wright ever wrote, it's hard to understand why this one wasn't tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

- For some reason every self-respecting '60s-era band seemed to feel the need to cover John D. Loudermilk's ' Tobacco Road'.  The Spooky Tooth version initially slowed the song down to a funeral dirge, putting Wright's multi-tracks vocals upfront and center.  It then abruptly shifted gears into an anonymous  blues-rocker middle segment and then back to dirge before stretching it out with a typical rock close out.   Pass ... rating: ** stars

- With Mike Harrison and Wright sharing lead vocals, ' It Hurts You So' almost sounded like a different band.  A fragile, almost fey ballad, it was another pretty ballad that benefited from having a hint of Brit-psych influence in the underlying melody.  Great drums from Michael Kellie ...   rating: *** stars

- Another R&B-tinged number, ' Forget It, I've Got It' was built on some nice Wright keyboards, a squealing Grosvenor solo, and interesting percussion touches.  Quite different from your standard Spooky Tooth song, I actually liked this one quite a bit.  rating: *** stars

- Another son with Mike Harrison handling lead vocals, ' Bubbles' sounded like a mid-1960s British toytown psych effort.  The track actually had a rather rough, semi-finished feel, but there were plenty of giify production effects including bubble sounds, phased vocals, and Ridley's acid-tinged bass guitar pattern.   Definitely a timepiece, but a fun timepiece.   rating: *** stars


With Island choosing not to release the collection in the States, Bell's Mala subsidiary acquired distribution rights, briefly releasing the collection in the States as "Spooky Tooth". Two years later A&M repackaged the set (including awful new cover art) as "Tobacco Road".

"It's All About Spooky Tooth" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Society's Child (Janis Ian) - 4:30
2.) Love Really Changed Me (Luther Grosvenor - Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 3:33
3.) Here I Lived So Well (Luther Grosvenor - Mike Harrison - Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 5:06
4.) Too Much of Nothing (Bob Dylan) - 3:57
5.) Sunshine Help Me (Gary Wright) - 3:02

(side 2)

1.) It's All About a Roundabout (Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 2:43
2.) Tobacco Road (Loudermilk) - 5:33
3.) It Hurts You So (Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 3:03
4.) Forget It, I've Got It (Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 3:26
5.) Bubbles (Luther Grosvenor - Gary Wright) - 2:49

 

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Spooky Tooth Two

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4194

Country/State: US/UK

Year: 1969

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring, corner and edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5862

Price: $15.00

 

Standing as the group's formal American debut, 1969's "Spooky Two" reinforced their reputation as a happening underground act. Refining their molten-metal attack, the collection benefited from growing studio confidence and improved production values. Showcasing an exceptional strong set of original material, tracks like 'Evil Woman' and 'That was Only Yesterday' aptly displayed the group's keyboard and guitar fury, quickly becoming FM staples. Elsewhere, Luther Grosvenor's lead guitar theatrics added real rock punch to tracks such as Better By You, Better By Me'. Less appealing, 'Bubbles' found the band taking an unsuccessful stab at Traffic styled psychedelia. A classic example of late 1960s FM rock, the album marked the band's artistic and commercial zenith. 

 

- Michael Kellie's funky drum intro made you wonder what you'd gotten yourself into, but then Greg Ridley's innovate bass, Gary Wright's pounding organ and wailing vocals, and Grosvenor's guitar kicked in.  Classic Spooky Tooth and a shame it faded out so early.   rating: **** stars

- Wright's weird affection for Gospel has always been a curiosity to my ears, but complete with wailing background singers he seldom did it as well as on this mid-tempo rocker.  Not sure who she was, but one of those background singers threatened to sing Wright under the table.  Get a good pair of headphones to hear the battle clearly.    rating: *** stars

- 'I've Got Enough Heartaches' continued the Gospel-influences though this one had a slightly more mainstream and commercial flavor.  Once again the female backing singers threatened to blow Wright off the stage.    rating: *** stars

- Side one ended with Spooky Tooth's finest moment - the blazing 'Evil Woman'.  Kicked along by a great molten Grosvenor lead guitar pattern and one of his finest solos (take note Jimmy Page), the icing on the cake came in the form of  Wright's 'balls-in-a-vice' vocals.  The man sounded like he was in true pain on this one.  To my ears the extended nine minute track simply epitomized late-1960s heavy metal.   rating: **** stars

- As much as I'd like to say something nice about 'Lost In My Dream' this one was simply over-the-top excess ...   rating: ** stars

- Spooky Tooth goes country?  Wouldn't sound very promising, but they actually managed to pull it off with 'That Was Only Yesterday'.   rating: **** stars

- Side two's stand out performance, 'Better By You, Better Than Me' marked a return to their patented heavy metal sound.  The combination of Grosvenor's crushing guitar and Wright keyboard fills and agonized vocals had to be heard.   rating: **** stars

- It took awhile for it to kick in, but 'Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree' morphed from a stark acoustic ballad in to a cool sing along ditty with some nice fuzz bass from Ridley.   rating: **** stars

 

In summary, the Spooky Tooth album I'd migrate to if I had to pick one.

In the States the single was:

 

- 1969's 'Feelin' Bad' b/w 'I've Got Enough Heartaches' (A&M catalog number 1110)

 

In the UK and Europe the singles were:

 

- 1969's 'Waitin' For The Wind' b/w 'That Was Only Yesterday' (Island catalog number )

- 1969's 'That Was Only Yesterday' b/w 'Oh! Pretty Woman' (Island catalog number WIP 6058)

- 1969's 'Better By You, Better Than Me' b/w 'Waiting for the Wind' (Island catalog number 6014 007)  France only

 

An impressive seller, the album peaked at # 44. Shortly after it's release bassist Gregg Ridley left to join Humble Pie and was replaced by Andy Leigh.

 

"Spooky Two" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Waitin' For The Wind   (Luther Grosvenor - Mike Harrison - Gary Wright) - 3:29
2.) Feelin' Bad   (Mike Kellie - Gary Wright) - 3:17
3.) I've Got Enough Heartaches   (Mike Kellie - Gary Wright) - 3:24
4.) Evil Woman   (Weiss) - 9:00

(side 2)

1.) Lost In My Dream   (Gary Wright) - 5:03
2.) That Was Only Yesterday   (Gary Wright) - 3:51
3.) Better By You, Better Than Me   (Gary Wright) - 3:36
4.) Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree   (Gary Wright) - 5:40

 

In case anyone cares, here's the original Island UK cover:

 

 Island catalog number ILPS 9098

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Ceremony

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4225

Country/State: US/UK

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor cover and edge wear

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 666

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

1969's "Ceremony" found Spooky Tooth jumping into a full-scale collaboration with French electronic musician Pierre Henry.  I guess you had to admire their willingness to try something new; something that expanded their repertoire.   On the other hand, this might not have been the smartest thing they ever did.  Showcasing the combination of Henry's experimental electronics, Luther Grovesnor's screaming guitar, and Gary Wright's growling voice and stabbing keyboards, dirge-like material such as "Offering", "Hosanna" and "Have Mercy" offered up a concept piece; the package seemingly built around a vaguely religious theme.  Emphasizing electronic sounds and outright experimentation, tracks such as the percussion and guitar dominated "Confessions" and "Jubilation" left many Spooky Tooth fans confused and unhappy.   Sporting what sounded like an ongoing squeaky wheel, or maybe a sob, 'Jubilation' was easily one of rock's most irritating songs - I remember thinking my record player gears had broken the first time I played it.   While the band's credentials as serious musicians may have enjoyed a boost, the same couldn't be said for sales, the collection faltering at # 92. Add to the sorry mix, John Holmes' cover painting stood as one of the year's uglier offerings.

"Ceremony" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Have Mercy   (Pierre Henry - Gary Wright) - 7:52

'Have Mercy' started out with two minutes of plodding blues-rock before suddenly exploding into a mixture of molten rock moves and oddball background sound effects (sounding like something along the lines of a bubbling cauldron).   Henry's sound effects/influences got progressively more obvious in the mix as the song went along (especially if you listen to the tune with a good pair of headphones).   Not particularly commercial, or enjoyable is about the nicest thing I can say about the opener.   rating: ** stars
2.) Jubilation   (Pierre Henry - Gary Wright) - 8:27

'Jubilation' wasted no time diving into Henry's experimental electronics (imagine your toasted short circuiting).   Things got a little better when Wright's voice was spotlighted, but for the most part this was Henry's baby ...  I'm guessing it was heartfelt, but the religious lyric may not be everyone's cup of tea.   No idea what happened around the three minute mark, other than to tell you it sounded like Wright was drooling all over himself.    rating: ** stars
3.) Confession   (Pierre Henry - Gary Wright) - 6:53

Musique concrète ?  Beats me if this fit the technical description of the genre, but it was certainly irritating.   rating: * stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Prayer   (Pierre Henry - Gary Wright) - 10:52

The opening segment of 'Player' was essentially a noise collage.  Call it Taliban interrogation music and you'd be in the right place.   Things improved when Wright took over, revealing a pretty ballad, though once again the religious lyrics (basically The Lord's Prayer), weren't going to go over well with everyone.  Clocking in at almost eleven minutes, this one would have benefited from some judicious editing.  Extra star for Grosvenor's nice acoustic guitar, though it was almost negated by Henry's irritating contributions.    rating: *** stars
2.) Offering   (Pierre Henry - Gary Wright) - 3:22

If you  stripped off Henry's thoroughly irritating electronic effects, 'Offering' might have been a decent hard  rock track.  Unfortunately those effects were front and center.   Imagine trying to tune into a good radio station on your AM band radio late at night and the station keeps fading out.  Same effect here.  Geez.  Believe it or not, the track was tapped as a single in France and Japan.   rating: ** stars
3.) Hosanna   (Pierre Henry - Gary Wright) - 7:37

Another prayer set to a hard rock melody  ...  most folks will recognize the lyrics as Hosanna In the Highest', making it kind of funny to see the writing credit to Henry and Wright.    Guess they were lucky God didn't sue them for copyright infringement.   Probably the album's closest thing to a straightforward commercial track and it gave Grosvenor an opportunity to finally cut lose.   rating: *** stars

 

From hardcore fans, here's what the French and Japanese picture sleeves looked like:

  

- 1969's 'Offerings' b/w 'Have Mercy' (Philips catalog number 6009.047)  France

- 1969's 'Offerings' b/w 'Have Mercy' (Philips catalog number SFL-1286)  Japan

 

 

 

It's funny to see how many folks recall trippin' this album.   All I can say is that listening to it sober is liable to give you a massive headache.  

 

 

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Last Puff

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4266

Year: 1970

Country/State: US, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes original A&M stock inner sleeve

Available: 12

Catalog ID: 5819

Price: $15.00

 

As expected, following the release of 1969's "Ceremony" Spooky Tooth underwent yet another round of personnel changes.  This time around, out the door went lead singer Gary Wright who quickly reappeared with the short-lived Wonderwheel.  With the band's A&M recording contract calling for the release of one more album, survivors Luther Grosvenor, Mike Harrison, and Mike Kellie found themselves left holding the corporate bag.  To their unending credit, the three were willing to complete the required obligation, promptly recruiting former Grease Band members Henry McCullough, Chris Stainton, and Alan Spenner for a late-inning Spooky Tooth line-up.  The makeshift lineup quickly recorded 1970's aptly titled "The Last Puff" (the album was actually credited to Spooky Tooth featuring Mike Harrison).  Given the set's humble origins it proved a surprisingly tight and mildly enjoyable endeavor.  Having lost their prime writer, Harrison and company still managed to cobble together an occasionally engaging mixture of earlier Spooky Tooth castoffs (Wright's 'Wrong Time'), new band originals (the Chris Stainton penned title track), and slew of covers, including a molten tempo take on The Beatles' 'I Am the Walrus' and an early Elton John cover ('Son of Your Father).  

 

"The Last Puff" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Am the Walrus   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 6:22    rating: *** stars

I remember being convinced I had the turntable set at the wrong speed the first time I played Spooky Tooth's cover of 'I Am the Walrus'.  Harrison and company actually kept pretty close to the Beatles original, but slowed it down to a crawl - you literally wanted to reach out and slap the band up the side of the head and say 'get on with it'.  Not sure if it was Grosenvor or McCullough, but one of them turned in a nice solo towards the end of this six plus minute epic.   It's just waiting to get to that point seemed endless ... Even though it wasn't very good, the track was tapped as a European single:

- 1970's 'I Am the Walrus' b/w Hangman Hang My Shell On a Tree'' (Island catalog number 6014 023)

2.) Wrong Time   (H. McCracken - Gary Wright) - 5:07   rating: **** stars

To my ears 'Wrong Time' was easily the standout track; in large measure due to the fact it harkened back to the original lineup's patented organ and keyboard sound.  The fact it was written Gary Wright and sounded like his lead vocals certainly didn't hurt the results.  Nice mid-tempo rocker with a great lead guitar though once again I don't know if it was Grosvenor, or McCullough.

3.) Something to Say   (Joe Cocker - Nicholls) - 5:49    rating: ** stars

In spite of an unsteady Harrison vocal that actually recalled Joe Cocker (who'd written the song), 'Something to Say ' was an okay ballad.  The backing female chorus threatened to drown Harrison out in a couple of places.   

 

(side 2)

1.) Nobody There at All   (Martin - Post) - 3:58    rating: *** stars

'Nobody There at All' was another mid-tempo ballad with kind of a country-rock edge.  The song benefited a nice chorus.  This one also sounded like a Wright carryover.

2.) Down River   (David Ackles) - 4:47

Their cover of David Ackles 'Down River' was suitably subdued and forgettable.   rating: ** stars

3.) Son of Your Father   (Elton John - Bernie Taupin) - 3:52    rating: ** stars

I was never a fan of the original version of Elton John's 'Son of Your Father' and this half-speed cover didn't do anything to improve on it.  

4.) Last Puff (instrumental)  (Chris Stainton) - 3:37    rating: ** stars

Chris Stainton's only contribution to the album, 'Last Puff' was a bluesy instrumental.  Propelled by Stainton's keyboards, picture something the Young-Holt trio might have recorded and you'd be in the right neighborhood.  Nice bass line though. 

 

 

Far from the band's best, but better than your standard contractual obligation release.  Although the band broke up shortly after the album's release, it proved a modest seller, reaching # 84 in the States.

 

- Grosvenor released a solo album, followed by stints with Stealers Wheel and Mott the Hoople.

- Harrison struck out in pursuit of a brief solo career.

- Kellie became a member of Frampton's Camel.


 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Tobacco Road

Company: A&M 

Catalog: SP-4300

Year: 1971

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6388

Price: $15.00

 

In the wake of the band's breakup, A&M decided to squeeze a couple of extra bucks out of the American buying public, reissuing the 1968 debut "It's All About Spooky Tooth" as "Tobacco Road".  Artistically there wasn't much point to it, but from a marketing standpoint it apparently made some sense given people were confused enough to propel it on to the American charts.  It wasn't a gigantic seller, but managed to hit # 152.

 

"Tobacco Road" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Society's Child   (Janis Ian) - 4:30     rating: ** stars

I'll readily admit that I've always thought Janis Ian's version of 'Society's Child' was one of the most irritating songs I've ever heard.  Sure, the sentiments were in the right spot, but the song itself is cloying and hyper-sensitive.  Pretty much what you'd expect from a then-17 year old.  ANd then there's the Spooky Tooth version which in attempting to 'heavy-up' the track  manages to make it even worse.  Gary Wright's church organ introduction had potential, but then Wright shifted into hyper-emotive mode and double tracked his lead vocals with results that sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks getting stoned on whippets.

2.) Love Really Changed Me   (Luther Grosvenor - Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 3:33   rating: *** stars

Thankfully 'Love Really Changed Me' found the band returning to a more mainstream rock-oriented sound.  Kicked along by a nice Luther Grosvenor guitar riff, the song had a bouncy, almost-pop flavored melody.  Imagine mid-era Spencer Davis Group and you'd be in the right aural ballpark.

3.) Here I Lived So Well   (Luther Grosvenor - Mike Harrison - Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 5:06   ratng: *** sttars

A mid-tempo, vaporous ballad, 'Here I Lived So Well' was pretty enough showcasing some of the band's sweetest, but never really got a great deal of energy going.  In fact, I'd argue Greg Ridley's bass line was probably the standout part of the track.  

4.) Too Much of Nothing   (Bob Dylan) - 3:57    rating: *** stars

Dylan wrote it; The Band made it famous ...  Spooky Tooth's cover of 'Too Much of Nothing' was certainly enjoyable (always loved Grosvenor's banjo accompaniment), but nothing here was going to make you forget The Band's version.  

5.) Sunshine Help Me  (Gary Wright) - 3:02   rating: **** stars

Easily one of the best song on the album, the Wright-penned 'Sunshine Help Me' sported a great, pounding melody that was actually good enough to make you overlook Wright's stratospheric falsetto.  

 

(side 2)

1.) It's All About a Roundabout   (Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 2:43  rating: **** stars

Side two found the band returning to a more pop-oriented sound with the enjoyable ' It's All About a Roundabout'.  For me the winning ingredients were Wright deft harpsichord flourishes and some nice barrelhouse piano.  One of the best melodies Wright ever wrote, it's hard to understand why this one wasn't tapped as a single.   

2.) Tobacco Road   (John D. Loudermilk) - 5:33     rating: ** stars

For some reason every self-respecting '60s-era band seemed to feel the need to cover John D. Loudermilk's 'Tobacco Road'.  The Spooky Tooth version initially slowed the song down to a funeral dirge, putting Wright's multi-tracks vocals upfront and center.  It then abruptly shifted gears into an anonymous  blues-rocker middle segment and then back to dirge before stretching it out with a typical rock close out.   Pass ... 

3.) It Hurts You So   (Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

With Mike Harrison and Wright sharing lead vocals, 'It Hurts You So' almost sounded like a different band.  A fragile, almost fey ballad, it was another pretty ballad that benefited from having a hint of Brit-psych influence in the underlying melody.  Great drums from Michael Kellie ...   

4.) Forget It, I've Got It   (Jimmy Miller - Gary Wright) - 3:26   rating: *** stars

Another R&B-tinged number, 'Forget It, I've Got It' was built on some nice Wright keyboards, a squealing Grosvenor solo, and interesting percussion touches.  Quite different from your standard Spooky Tooth song, I actually liked this one quite a bit.  

5.) Bubbles   (Luther Grosvenor - Gary Wright) - 2:49    rating: *** stars

Another son with Mike Harrison handling lead vocals, 'Bubbles' sounded like a mid-1960s British toytown psych effort.  The track actually had a rather rough, semi-finished feel, but there were plenty of giify production effects including bubble sounds, phased vocals, and Ridley's acid-tinged bass guitar pattern.   Definitely a timepiece, but a fun timepiece.  

 

Collector's will probably want to look for the original 1968 "It's All About Spooky Tooth" album.  Other folks may be be willing to settle for this release since it has the same songs and you can a copy far cheaper ...  yeah, the downside is the cover art on this album is nowhere near as good. 




 


 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4385

Year: 1973

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; US pressing

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 5860

Price: $10.00

 

Following a three year break during which time their solo endeavors had proven to be lukewarm successes, in 1973 Mike Harrison and Gary Wright reunited Spooky Tooth.  The revamped line up featured drummer Bryson Graham and guitarist Mick Jones from Wright's Wonderwheel project, along with bassist Chris Stewart (replacing Ian Herbert).  Self-produced,  1973's "You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw" proved surprisingly tight and entertaining, though it fell short of past glories and side two was pretty weak.  Largely penned by Wright (drummer Graham contributing 'This Time Around'), keyboard and guitar propelled material such as the lead off rocker 'Cotton Growing Man', 'This Time Around', and 'Wildfire' showcased the band's now-patented up-tempo blues-rock stylings. While hardly earth shattering, the set wasn't all that different from material being pumped out by the likes of Bad Company.  

 

"You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Cotton Growing Man   (Gary Wright) - 4:38

Powered by Harrison's gravelly voice and Jones' raspy lead guitar, 'Cotton Growing Man' marked a return to the hard rock sound found on their sophomore album.  The result was a fantastic mid-tempo rocker that would have sounded great on mid-1970s FM radio had A&M bothered to promote it when it was tapped as a single.   Shame the rest of the album wasn't as good.   For the US market A&M tapped the album for a single in the form of:

 

- 1973's 'Cotton Growing Man' b/w 'Times Have Changed' (A&M catalog number AM-???)   rating: **** stars

2.) Old As I was Born   (Gary Wright) - 4:40

'Old As I was Born' has always been a personal favorite in that it boasted one of the band's most commercial songs.  The track retained a distinctive Spooky Tooth sound, but sported some atypical, but exquisite group harmonies that you wouldn't normally associate with the band.  There was also a nice mandolin solo and a great Wright cheesy synthesizer solo.   rating: **** stars

3.) This Time Around   (Bryson Graham) - 4:08

Drummer Graham's lone contribution to the album, 'This Time Around' was an okay rocker, but lacked anything to distinguish it from the rest of the set.  The highlight came in the form of a nice Jones solo.   rating: *** stars

4.) Holy Water   (Gary Wright) - 3:37

The first real disappointment, 'Holy Water' sounded like Harrison was trying to channel an early Elton John/Bernie Taupin ballad.  Momentarily interesting in a Gospel-inspired way, the keyboard-propelled ballad quickly lost its energy.   rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Wildfire   (Gary Wright) - 4:35

'Wildfire' found the band carving out a nice little groove, but the song never really developed beyond that initial funky hook and most listeners probably tired of the song after hearing the lyric 'Wildfire is in my mind' a dozen times..  rating: *** stars

2.) Self Seeking Man   (Gary Wright) - 3:46

'Self Seeking Man' showcased some of Wright's most irritating features - namely an over-the-top 'heavy' ballad that forced him to reach for those high notes that brought out the shrill aspects of his voice.   This one sounded a lot like some off of his forthcoming late-1970s solo efforts.    rating: ** stars  

3.) Times Have Changed   (Gary Wright - Mick Jones) - 3:55

The Wright-Jones ballad 'Times Have Changed' was the song that seems to have attract the most critical attention, but to my ears it was a bland, mildly dischordant mess.    rating: ** stars  4.) Moriah   (Gary Wright) - 6:21

Crap, another ballad ...  Well, at least after two super lame songs 'Moriah' showed a little bit of energy before limping out with some hideous new-age-styled sound effects.  Should have ditched the touchy feely fade out for more Mick Jones guitar.  Nowhere near the album's best song, but at least it ended the set on a mildly upbeat note.   rating: *** stars

 

 

With minimal support from Island the album hit # 84 on the US charts.

 

All told it was patchy, but better than many 'comeback' albums.

 

 

SRB 10/2009

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Witness

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS-9255

Year: 1973

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $15.00

 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Witness

Company: Island

Catalog: 87 332 IT

Year: 1973

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG

Comments: German pressing; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 251

Price: $50.00

 

 

Enduring another round of personnel turmoil, the band saw Bryson Graham and Ian Herbet replaced by Mike Kellie (back for another round) and ex-Grease Band bassist Chris Stewart.  Adding to the group's problems, longtime US label A&M dropped the band.  As a result 1973's "Witness" found the revamped quintet relocating to New York and recording for Chris Blackwell's Island Records. With Gary Wright responsible for penning most of the nine tracks, the collection was full of mid-tempo rockers that aptly displayed Harrison and Wright's wailing vocals and the group's instantly recognizable over-the-top mixture of keyboards and guitar. While the album did little to expand their musical horizons, all nine tracks were professional, with most of the songs at least modestly enjoyable.  Yeah, there were some real turkeys here (the ballads 'Wings on My Heart' and '' were awful), but there were also some real gems including 'Ocean of Power', 'Things Change' and 'As Long As the World Keeps Turning'.  Another highlight, Harrison simply killed on the molten-guitar rocker 'Don't Ever Stray  Away'. Continuing there gradual loss of audience, the album only reached # 99 on the US charts.

 

UK gatefold inner sleeve

left to right:  Harrison - Ridley - Stewart - Jones - Wright

 

"Witness" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ocean of Power   (Gary Wright)

If you wanted to be totally honest about it, neither Mike Harrison, or Gary Wright had the greatest voices . At their best the pair sounded strained and uncomfortable and I frequently haev a hard time telling them apart.  That said, I think Harrison had the lead o n'Ocean of Power' and his voice was perfectly suited for a dark, mid-tempo rocker like this one'.  Kicked along by Harrison's wailing voice, keyboards and Mike Kellie's powerhouse drumming, this was a classic Spooky Tooth effort that had FM radio written all over it.  rating: **** stars

2.) Wings on My Heart   (Gary Wright)

'Wings on My Heart ' was a bloated ballad that unfortunately underscored Wright's worst vocal characteristics.  Plodding and thoroughly dull,  the only thing worthwhile on this one was Mick Jones pretty lead guitar solo.  Otherwise this was one you could live without.  rating: ** stars

3.) As Long as the World Keeps Turning   (Gary Wright)

'As Long as the World Keeps Turning' had an interesting pop edge to it.  Nice title track hook with the band unveiling some nice harmony vocals.  Wright also turned in a cool little synthesizer solo.   rating: *** stars

4.) Don't Ever Stray Away   (Chris Stewart - Gary Wright)

I've always liked Mike Harrison's rugged voice and he seldom sounded as good as on the molten rocker 'Don't Ever Stray Away'.   Another track with an interesting melody, some chunky Mick Jones guitar, and a nice hook, this one actually sounded like '80s AOR.   rating: *** stars

5.) Things Change   (Gary Wright)
Side one's most commercial rocker, 'Things Change' featured one of Wright's strongest melodies and one of his best vocals.  Another pounding rocker, the difference lay in the fact Wright didn't try too hard.  He actually sounded relatively laidback on this one, giving the song some real warmth and appeal.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) All Sewn Up   (Mick Jones - Gary Wright)

My favorite song, 'All Sewn Up' found a nice middle ground between hard rock and more commercial pop orientation.  Island should have tapped the song as a single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Dream Me a Mountain   (Gary Wright)

Kicked along by a nice Chris Stewart bass line, 'Dream Me a Mountain' was a decent bluesy-rocker that could have been a monster song, but just never fully switched into gear.   Nice example of Harrison and Wright's share vocal approach.   rating: *** stars

3.) Sunlight of My Mind   (Gary Wright)

'Sunlight of My Mind' found the band upping the energy level and while Wright sounded good on this one, Jones stole the show with his raucous guitar - great solo on this one.   rating: *** stars 

4.) Pyramids   (Mike Kellie - Gary Wright)

'Pyramids' ended the album with a slow, bluesy jam with Harrison and Wright again sharing lead vocals.  With the two of them trying to out shot one another, Mick Jones was left to steal the show with one of his nicest solos.  rating: *** stars 

 

So what to make of this late-inning release?  Well, it fell short of being a classic Spooky Tooth album, but there were a couple of first-rate performances and it was nice to have the Harrison-Wright team back in place.  A bit more variety and giving Jones a little more spotlight time certainly wouldn't have hurt the album, but all told it was solid.

 

        

Island catalog number 87 332 IT

 

For hardcore fans, the original UK pressing sported a gatefold sleeve and different cover art.

 



 

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Mirror

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS-9292

Year: 1974

Country/State: US/UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original die-cast cover with original insert; cut top right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4815

Price: $10.00

 

With original singer/keyboardist Mike Harrison striking out in pursuit of a solo career, Spooky Tooth fans probably weren't expecting great things from the survivors.  Those fears were probably reinforced by the back cover photo that showed a band looking suspiciously like early Journey.  To their collective credit surviving members Bryson Graham, Mick Jones and Gary Wright were smart enough to dig up some talented replacements in the form of former Boxer singer/keyboardist Mike Patto and bassist Val Burke (wow, some 'fro there guy).  Co-produced by Wright, Jones and Eddie Kramer, 1974's "The Mirror" may not have been the year's most original offering or even the band's creative zenith, but it was far from a creative deathbed.  Creatively Harrison's defection appeared to have little impact on the band with Wright and Jones proving more than capable of handling the writing chores.  Patto also proved his worth wasted no time co-writing several tracks with the others.  His instantly recognizable voice (check out 'Kyle') also stood as a nice counterpoint to Wright's patented screech.  For all the changes material like the lead-off rocker 'Fantasy Satisfier', 'Two Time Love' and 'Woman and Gold' served to showcase the combination of Wright's patented screech and stabbing keyboards and Jones' molten guitar solos remained firmly in place.  To be honest, if the set had one or two more songs as good as 'I'm Alive' or 'Hell or High Water' (and you thought Peter Frampton discovered that irritating voice box guitar effect) it would have gotten a fourth star.  Surprisingly consistent the album proved a modest success, peaking at # 130. (The set was originally released with a die cut cover.) 

 

Two singles were released in the UK and Europe:

 

 

- 1973's 'Two Time Love' b/w 'The Hoofer' (Good Ear catalog number EAR 109)

- 1973's 'Fantasy Satisfier' b/w ''The Hoofer' (Island catalog number EAR 607)


"The Mirror" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Fantasy Satisfier   (Gary Wright - Mick Jones) - 
2.) Two Time Love   (Gary Wright - Mick Jones - Mike Patto) - 
3.) Kyle   (Gary Wright - R. Purvis - W. Elliott) - 
4.) Woman and Gold   (Gary Wright) - 
5.) Higher Circles   (Gary Wright) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Hell or High Water   (Gary Wright - Mike Patto) - 
2.) I'm Alive   (Gary Wright - T. Wright) - 
3.) The Mirror   (Gary Wright - Mick Jones - Mike Patto) - 
4.) The Hoofer   (Mike Patto) - 


The band's tortuous existence came to an end early the next year, Jones, Wright and the other members going on to a number of outside projects (see separate entries).

 

 

 

 

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