Vinegar Joe


Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1971-72)

- Elkie Brooks (aka Elk) -- vocals

- Pete Gage -- guitar

- Tim Hinkley -- keyboards

- Robert Palmer (RIP) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Rob Tait -- drums, percussion

- Steve York -- harp, bass, guitar

 

  supporting musicians (1972):

- Roger Ball -- horns

- Dave Brooks -- sax, flute

- Malcolm Duncan -- horns

- Keef Hartley -- drums

- Conrad Isadore -- drums

- Mike Rosen -- horns

- Dave Thompson -- keyboards, sax

 

  line up 2 (1972)

- Elkie Brooks (aka Elk) -- vocals

NEW - Mike Deacon -- keyboards, backing vocals (replaced 

  Tim Hinkley)

- Pete Gage -- guitar

- Jim Mullen -- guitar

- Robert Palmer (RIP) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Steve York -- harp, bass, guitar

NEW - John Woods -- drums (replaced Rob Tait)

 

  line up 3 (1972-73)

- Elkie Brooks (aka Elk) -- vocals

NEW - Mike Deacon -- keyboards, backing vocals

NEW - Pete Gage -- drums (replaced John Woods)

- Jim Mullen -- guitar

- Robert Palmer (RIP) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Steve York -- harp, bass, guitar

 

 

 

Bakerloo ()

- Bo Street Runners

- Alan Bown (Robert Palmer)

- Elkie Brooks (solo efforts)

- Dada (Elkie Brooks, Robert Palmer, and Pete Gage)

- Darts

- Dr. Feelgood (Pete Gage)

- The Greatest Show On Earth

- Heads Hands and Feat

- Pete Gage (solo efforts)

- Jody Grind (Tim Hinkley)

- Manfred Mann Chapter 3 (Steve York)

- Robert Palmer (solo efforts)

- Steve York (solo efforts)

- Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band (Pete Gage)

- The Zephyrs (Pete Gage)

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 1 star *

Title:  Vinegar Joe

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 7007
Year: 1972

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6018

Price: $15.00

 

With the extensive musical pedigrees the various members brought to Vinegar Joe, you would couldn't be blamed for expecting some interesting material.  For the most part it just didn't happen.

 

1970 found singer Elkie Brooks, guitarist Pete Gage, and singer/guitarist Robert Palmer working together in the English horn rock band Dada.  

 

 

The band managed to release one obscure album for ATCO (1970's "Dada" catalog number 2400 030), before collapsing.  Island Records president Chris Blackwell subsequently suggested the three consider continuing their musical partnership leading to the formation of Vinegar Joe with the addition of former Jody Grind keyboardist Tim Hinkley, drummer Rob Tait, and bassist Steve York.  

 

Blackwell promptly signed the band to Island Records with ATCO acquiring US distribution rights.  Co-produced by Gage and Vic Smith, 1972's cleverly-titled "Vinegar Joe" featured all original material (largely penned by Gage and Palmer).  Most of the ten tracks offered up predictable blues-rock moves.  Nothing wrong with blues rock, but the album also showcased two of music's most irritating lead singers in the form of a young Robert Palmer who simply didn't have much of a voice and Elkie Brooks who had a big voice, but during this phase of her career was one of rock's most irritating performers.  Think that was a snarky comment?  Just try sitting through her performance on 'Early Monday Morning' where she mistakes Janis Joplin styled screeching for vocal power.  Giving credit where due, there were a couple of interesting moments, but they were atypical offerings.  'See the World' offered up a nifty pop-psych melody unlike anything else on the album.  'Never Met a Dog' and 'Leg Up' were  nice rockesr with some commercial potential.   Unfortunately those were the exceptions to the rule. 

 

- Written by Palmer, 'Rusty Red Armour' offered up a weird mix of bar band moves and snotty glam attitude, with a bit of Dylan thrown in the mix.  To be honest the song was largely forgettable with Palmer's weird Dylan-esque vocal being the lone thing that might attract someone's attention.   rating: ** stars

- Opening up with some discordant keyboards, 'Early Monday Morning' suddenly shifted gears, revealing itself as a plodding blues number made even worse by Brooks shrill and barely in-tune vocals.  Painful and hard to sit through ...   rating: * star

- Yeah, another blues number featuring Brooks ...  I'm being totally cynical here.  'Ride Me Easy, Rider' was certainly better than the previous track, but the combination of Brooks bleating voice and a thoroughly dull and plodding song made you wish they'd move on to the next song.  The only thing worth hearing on this one was Pete Gage acoustic slide guitar, though I'm not sure it was worth having to hear Brooks.   rating: ** stars

- 'Circles' was an okay mid-tempo ballad sporting a modestly memorable ballad and served as side one's most commercial offering,  Palmer's lead vocal sounded somewhat strained (and having Brooks shrieking in the background didn't exactly help things along).  That said, this was probably the one song I'd actually be willing to listen to again.   rating: *** stars

- 'Leg Up' was interesting as the first song that bore any comparison to Palmer's forthcoming solo career.  His voice remained painfully thin, but the song's rock base served as a baseline for solo work (and Brooks was relegated to isolated background vocals).   rating: ** stars

- The one track where Palmer and Brooks actually sounded good together, 'See the World'  opened up with some nice Gage lead guitar and Hinkley organ moves and then morphed into a cool pop song with a pseudo-psychedelic feel.  The song was so good that the horn arrangement couldn't even detract from the performance.  Give ATCO credit for tapping this one as the US single, though it disappeared in an instant.    rating: **** stars  

- Kicked along by some nice Gage slide guitar, 'Never Met a Dog' was a straight out rocker that actually sounded quite good in comparison to the rest of the set.  That's probably why it was tapped as the album's UK and European single.   rating: *** stars

- 'Avinu Malkenu' was a pretty acoustic blues tinged ballad (though I have no idea what the foreign lyric section was about).  Unfortunately it also served to underscore Bell's weird quivering delivery.   rating: ** stars 

- Another relative commercial number with one of Palmer's better vocals, 'Gettin' Out' showcased Hinkley's keyboards.   rating: ** stars

- I'm not sure why, but the jazzy, opening section of 'Live a Little, Get Somewhere' has always reminded me a little but of Swing Out Sister; well until Brooks started her waivery vocals.  Actually, she managed to keep it fairly under control throughout most of this one.   rating: ** stars.    

 

Different singles were released In the UK and the States:

 

- 1972's 'Never Met a Dog' b/w 'Speed Queen of Ventura' (Island catalog number WIP 6125)

- 1972's 'See the World' b/w 'Circles' (ATCO catalog number 45-6912)

 

Okay, I'll admit that John Padley's clay figures were kind of cool.  Come to think of it they were probably the best thing on the album.

 

For anyone curious to see them live, YouTube has a 1972 performance of 'Rusty Red Armour' on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle television show.  Brooks was entertaining for her hat.  Palmer was interesting for his David Bowie wannabe wardrobe and performance mannerisms:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3zXXKqn1Qc

 

"Vinegar Joe" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rusty Red Armour   (Robert Palmer) - 5:00

2.) Early Monday Morning   (Pete Gage) - 4:43

3.) Ride Me Easy, Rider   (Pete Gage) - 5:46

4.) Circles   (Robert Palmer) - 4:05

5.) Leg Up   (Robert Palmer) - 4:58

 

(side 2)
1.) See the World   (Pete Gage) - 6:21

2.) Never Met a Dog   (Robert Palmer) - 6:31

3.) Avinu Malkenu   (Pete Gage - elkie Brooks) - 3:26

4.) Gettin' Out   (Pete Gage - Dave Thompson - Steve York) - 5:08

5.) Live a Little, Get Somewhere   (Pete Gage) - 5:23

 

 

For anyone interested, Brooks has a nice website at:

www.elkiebrooks.net

 

 

Steve York also has a web presence at:

http://www.steveyork.com/

 

 

 

 

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