Toe Fat


Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1969)

- Cliff Bennett -- vocals, keyboards

- Ken Hensley -- vocals, lead guitar, keyboards

- Lee Kerslake -- drums

- John Konas (aka John Glasscock) (RIP 1979) -- bass 

 

  line up 2 (1970-72)

- Cliff Bennett -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Brian Glasscock -- drums (replaced Lee Kerslake)

- John Glasscock (RIP 1979) -- bass

NEW - Alan Kendall  -- lead guitar (replaced Ken Hensley)

 

  line up 3 (1972)

- Cliff Bennett -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Michael Clarke -- guitar

NEW - Tony Fernandez -- drums

NEW - Mick Hawksworth -- bass

NEW - Lynton Naiff --- vocals, keyboards

 

 

Affinity (Lynton Naiff)

- Andromeda

- Carmen (John Glasscock)

- The Cliff Bennett Band (Cliff Bennett and Ken Hensley)

- Chicken Shack (John Glasscock)

- Fuzzy Duck

- The Glass Menagerie (Alan Kendall)

- The Gods (Brian Glasscock, John Glasscock, 

  Ken Hensley, and  Lee Kerslake)

- Head Machine

- Ken Hensley (solo efforts)

- Jethro Tull (John Glasscock)

- The Jimmy Brown Sound

- Killing Floor (Lynton Haiff)

- Kit and the Saracens

- Alvin Lee & Ten Years Later

- The Motels (Brian Glasscock)

- National Head Band (Lee Kerslake)

- The Rebel Rousers (Cliff Bennett)

- Rebellion (Cliff Bennett)

- Shanghai (Cliff Bennett)

- Trouble (Brian Glasscock)

- Uriah Heep (Brian Glasscock, John Glasscock,

  Ken Hensley, and Lee Kerslake)

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Toe Fat

Company: Rare Earth

Catalog: RS511
Year: 1970

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor hairline marks on vinyl; no skips

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5788

Price: $55.00

 

Cliff Bennett enjoyed a string of early and mid-1960s hits with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, but by the late-1960s his British Invasion credentials had begun to fade.  Like any good artist, Bennett decided an image change might be a good career.  His first attempt was with the cleverly-titled The Cliff Bennett Band which included keyboard player Ken Hensley.  When the Cliff Bennett Band folded shop Bennett and Hensley elected to continue their partnership, Hensley suggesting Bennett recruit bassist John Glasscock and drummer Lee Kerslake for the new enterprise.  Hensley, Glasscock, and Kerslake had all played together in the short-lived band The Gods. 

 

left to right: Lee Kerslake - John Glasscock - Cliff Bennett - Ken Hensley

photo from back cover of LP

 

Latching on to the name Toe Fat (the band reportedly selected the worst name the could come up with), the quartet ended up with a unique corporate partner. 

1970 found Motown's Rare Earth subsidiary aggressively moving to beef up its rock-based recording roster.  Even though Motown management had no idea who Bennett and company were, they were quickly signed to a US distribution deal.  With the US deal in hand the band then signed with Parlophone in the UK.  That in turn led to their 1970 debut single:

 

           

US release 'Working Nights' b/w 'Bad Side Of The Moon' (Rare Earth catalog number R-5019).  (Early copies were pressed on red vinyl.)

UK release 'Working Nights' b/w 'Bad Side Of The Moon' (Parlophone catalog number R-5829).  

 

Next up was a minor marketing crises.  Seeing the butt ugly Hipgnosis album cover which featured a series of naked figures on a beach with a toe superimposed on their heads (great concept there guys), Motown management decided it was inappropriate for the US audience.  The result was a slightly censored US version with naked male and female figures on a beach being airbrushed out and replaced by a sheep.  The changes did little to improve what was easily one of the year's ugliest covers and today it all seems stupid and a waste of time.

 

Parlophone catalog number PCS 7097)

 

I'll readily admit this one came as a major surprise to me.  The handful of reviews I'd read left me with the impression this was going to be mindless metal sludge.   Bennett had a nice, soul-flavored voice that proved well matched to the band's heavy rock stylings.  Glasscock (who for some reason was listed as John Konas in the liner notes), Hensley, and Kerslake proved quite talented and dexterous as a backing unit, injecting considerable energy into the proceedings.

 

- 'That's My Love For You' served as a nice introduction to the band's heavy sound.  Bennett's voice had a likeable raspy quality that proved a perfect match for the rest of the band's heavy rock moves.  Hensley added in a bunch of fuzz guitar that gave the song that unique early-1970s feel - heavy metal, but without the angst and darkness of a Black Sabbath.   rating: **** stars

- With Hensley handling lead vocals, 'Bad Side of the Moon' was one of the earliest Elton John cover's I'm aware of.  Curiously, the first couple of times I heard this one it reminded me of something out of the Three Dog Night catalog.  Tuneful and quite commercial, it could have been an FM hit.   rating: **** stars

- Speaking of Three Dog Night, chances are that if you've ever heard 'Nobody' it was the version they did.  While their cover was nice (wonder how many folks knew it was a Toe Fat song), their version simply sucked compared to the original.  Opening with some wicked Hensley lead guitar that got progressively heavier as the song stumbled along, a churning rhythm base, and some of the group's best harmony vocals ('course all they were singing was the title 'nobody'), this was a first-rate performance.   rating: ***** stars

- Another track featuring Hensley on lead vocals, 'The Wherefors and the Whys' (sic) was a mid-tempo number with a somewhat more commercial edge to it.  This one actually had a pretty melody, great vocals, and some of Hensley's nicest lead guitar.   rating: **** stars

- "Bit I'm Wrong' found Bennett back and the band returning to prototype boogie-rock.  Not the most original song on the album, but great chorus and the combination of Bennett's chunky, soulful voice and Hensley's fuzz guitar was quite impressive.   rating: **** stars

- Side two started with the forgettable rocker 'Just Like Me'.  Showcasing Hensley's fuzz drench leads the music was okay, but the nursery school lyrics were sophomoric even by metal standards.   rating: ** stars

- Showcasing a jazzy feel complete with flute solo form guest musician Mox, 'Just Like All the Rest' was interesting in part because it was so unlike the rest of the album.   rating: ** stars  

- Once again the real attraction behind 'I Can't Believe' was Hensley meltdown guitar pyrotechnics.  It literally sounded like he was playing the instrument while disassembling it with a screwdriver.  Make sure you check it out with a good pair of headphones.   rating: **** stars

- 'Working Nights' was a rather conventional slice of boogie-rock, but it was quality boogie-rock.   rating: **** stars

- Compared to the rest of the album 'You Tried To Take It All' ended the set on a bland note.  Professional, but hardly the best track on the album.  The song's most interesting characteristic was the abrupt and unexpected time shift; literally switching from boogie-rock to closing blues-rock section.  By the way, the bluesy closing segment was far more impressive.   rating: ** stars

 

Curiously, even though credited to Bennett, most of the songs were reportedly actually written by Hensley.  One last comment - simply loaded with fuzz guitar and multi-channel mixing, this is one of those LPs that sounds even better on a pair of qualify headphones or with some good speakers that are cranked up.  (My neighbors will probably disagree with that last statement, but so what ...)

 

Toe Fat" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) That's My Love For You   (Allan - Roberts - Cliff Bennett) - 4:01

2.) Bad Side of the Moon   (Elton John - Bernie Taupin) - 3:24

3.) Nobody   (Copper - Shelby - Beatty) - 6:04

4.) The Wherefors and the Whys   (Cliff Bennett) - 3:43

5.) But I'm Wrong   (Cliff Bennett) - 4:01

 

(side 2)
1.) Just Like Me   (Carroll - Guy) - 4:12

2.) Just Like All the Rest   (Cliff Bennett) - 2:31

3.) I Can't Believe   (Cliff Bennett) - 3:59

4.) Working Nights   (Cliff Bennett) - 2:31

5.) You Tried To Take It All   (Cliff Bennett) - 4:26

 

The album generated considerable attention from the media which helped them land a slot on a US tour opening for Derek and the Dominos.  Unfortunately even before the tour started things began to fall apart.  Hensley quit in a dispute over songwriting, reappearing as a founding member of Uriah Heep.  Kerslake was then fired, joining The National Health Band and then joining Hensley in Uriah Heep.  The two were replaced by drummer Brian Glasscock and lead guitarist Alan Kendall.  After the tour was completed John Glasscock also tendered his resignation, reappearing a couple of years later as a member of Jethro Tull.  Sadly, only 28 years old he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1979.  

 

 

reviewed SRB 8/2009

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Toe Fat Two

Company: Rare Earth

Catalog: RS525
Year:
 1972

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $40.00

 

 

The cleverly-titled "Toe Fat Two" hit the streets after a major shake-up in personnel decimated the original line-up.  Gone were lead guitarist Ken Hensley and drummer Lee Kersake - Hensley reappeared as a founding member of Uriah Heep, while Kerslake detoured through The National Head Band before joining Uriah Heep.  The two were replaced by former The Glass Menagerie guitarist Alan Kendall and drummer Brian Glasscock (who was John's younger brother and had previously replaced Kesrlake in The Gods - anyone need a schematic at this point?).  Inexplicably, John Glasscock was credited on the album under the name John Konas.

Produced by Jonathan Peel (not the DJ), their sophomore album was released by Regal Zonophone in the UK and once again on Motown's Rare Earth subsidiary in the States, though by the time it hit US shelves the second line up had already called it quits and Bennett had already released a solo album.  The album cover also continued their tradition of  coming up with something hideous - hard to tell what the mess was this time around - animal parts and lard with small figures of the band superimposed in various places ?   Didn't really matter all that much as it was butt ugly and once again, certainly didn't exactly help sales.  With creative mainstay Hensley gone, Bennett and new guitarist Kendall picked up the writing chores.  The results were surprisingly good.  Not all that different from the debut, perhaps a little tougher in places (the opener 'Stick Heat' was a classic rocker), but exemplified by tracks like 'Since You've Been Gone' much of the album featured a likeable mixture of hard rock with pop touches.

 

- Yeah, 'Stick Heat' started out with a ukulele, but quickly exploded into what may have been their best rocker.  Bennett seldom sounded as good (or sleazy), while new guitarist Kendall (who co-wrote the song), proved every bit as good as Hensley.  Nice way to start the album.   rating: **** stars

- An atypical, laidback instrumental, 'Indian Summer' served to showcased Kendall's fuzz guitar.  Quite pretty and tasteful.  Not exactly what you'd expect from these guys.   rating: **** stars

- 'Idol' found the band returning to blues-rock.  The song wasn't bad, with some very nice fuzz guitar from Kendall, though trying to power his way through the song, Bennett sounded a little uncomfortable in such a heavy metal environment.   rating: *** stars

- Side one closed out with the extended blues number 'There'll Be Changes'.  Bennett sounded surprisingly comfortable in the genre with Kendall and an un-credited Peter Green turned in a couple of nice solos, but the overall feel was rather pedestrian.  Clocking in at just under seven minutes the track would have benefited from some judicious editing.   rating: ** stars

- Side two opened with the album's most interesting composition; not necessarily the best song, but the most adventuresome and entertaining track.  The opening instrumental segment served to showcase the differences between original guitarist Ken Hensley and his replacement Alan Kendal.  While Hensley was a master of power chords, this track showcased Kendall as a far more deft and tasteful player (though he could hit a power chord just as well).  From a soft acoustic number the song exploded into a blues-rocker which showed off Bennett's voice to great effect.   rating: **** stars

- Three Dog Night scored another hit when they covered 'Since You've Been Gone' giving it a more pop-oriented sound, but to my ears the original version was actually far better.  One of the their finest rockers, Bennett was at his best on this one sounding like a talented Ronnie Dio, as was Kendall who turned in an amazing performance.  The song also showcased the quartet's nice harmony vocals.   rating: **** stars

- 'Three Time Loser' was another full-tilt rocker, though this time the results were pretty pedestrian.  On a positive note John Glasscock turned in a nice driving bass line throughout the track.   rating: ** stars

- Easily the best song on the album, 'Midnight Sun' recalled something out of the Robin Trower catalog.  Great tune bolstered by fantastic wah-wah guitar from Kendall and a nice vocal from Bennett..   rating: ***** stars

 

So which of the two albums would I pick?  Hard choice.  This one's actually more varied, but not as consistent as the debut.  Geez, I can't pick one.  Look for both.

 

"Toe Fat Two" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Stick Heat   (Cliff Bennett - Alan Kendall) - 6:08

2.) Indian Summer   (Alan Kendall) - 2:16

3.) Idol   (Alan Kendall) - 3:29

4.) There'll Be Changes   (Cliff Bennett - Alan Kendall) - 6:49

 

(side 2)

1.) A New Way   (Cliff Bennett - Alan Kendall) - 7:54
2.) Since You've Been Gone   (Cliff Bennett - Alan Kendall) - 4:46

3.) Three Time Loser   (Cliff Bennett - Alan Kendall) - 4:36

4.) Midnight Sun   (Cliff Bennett - Alan Kendall) - 4:42

 

 

There was one last non-LP 45 (though Bennett's claimed it was actually recorded during his "Rebellion" sessions:

 

 

- 1972's 'Brand New Band' b/w 'Can't Live Without You' (Chapter One catalog number CH-175).

 

And that was basically it for Toe Fat.  Bennett was apparently considered as a replacement for David Clayton-Thomas in Blood, Sweat and Tears and asked to join Uriah Heep, but opted for an instantly obscure solo album  (1971's "Rebellion") and a one shot collaboration with guitarist Mick Green in Shanghai, before making a fortune in the shipping business. He's occasionally hit the revival circuit with The Rebel Rousers.  

 

               

      CBS catalog number 64487          Warner Brothers catalog number 56093

 

Brian Glasscock and Kendall reappeared in a number of ventures, including a stint in The Bee Gees mid-1970s backing band.  Brian also worked with the band Trouble and was a founding member of The Motels.

 

John Glasscock briefly hooked up with Chicken Shack before forming Carmen, followed by a stint in Jethro Tull.  Following heart surgery he died in 1979.

 

reviewed SRB 8/2009


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