Fat Mattress

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1968)

- Martin Barre -- guitar

- Eric Dillon -- drums, percussion

- Neil Landon -- vocals

- Jimmy Leverton -- vocals, bass, keyboards

- Noel Redding (RIP 2003) -- vocals, lead guitar


  line up 2  (1968-69)

- Eric Dillon -- drums, percussion

- Neil Landon -- vocals

- Jimmy Leverton --  bass, keyboards, backing vocals

- Noel Redding (RIP 2003) -- vocals, lead guitar


  supporting musicians (1969)

- Chris Wood -- flute


  line up 2 (1969-70)

NEW - Martin Barre -- guitar

- Eric Dillon -- drums, percussion

NEW - Steve Hammond  (RIP 1989) -- guitar

- Neil Landon -- vocals

NEW - Mick Weaver (aka Wynder K. Frog -- keyboards 


- Blodwyn Pig (Jim Leverton)

- Caravan (Jim Leverton)

- Dog Soldier (Eric Dillon - Jim Leverton)

- Chris Farlowe and the Hill (Steve Hammond)

- The Flower Pot Men   (Neil Landon) 

- The Grease Band (Mick Weaver)

- The Keef Hartley Band (Mick Weaver)

- Hemlock (Eric Dillon and Mick Weaver)

- Jimi Hendrix Experience  (Noel Redding)

- Hill (Steve Hammond)

- The Ivy League (Neil Landon)

- Jethro Tull (Martin Barre)

- Juicy Lucy (Jim Leverton and Mick Weaver)

- Neil Landon (solo efforts)

- The Neil Landon Band

- Neil Landon and the Burnettes

- Lion (Eric Dillon)

- The Lonely Ones

- The Loving Kind (Noel Redding)

- The Phantom Blues Band (Mick Weaver)

- Noel Redding (solo efforts)

- The Road (Noel Redding)

- Rudolf Rock & die Schocker (Neil Landon)

- Savoy Brown (Eric Dillon - Jimmy Leverton)

- Tranquility (Eric Dillon - Jimmy Leverton)

- Wooden Frog (Mick Weaver)

- Wynder K. Frog (solo efforts)





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Fat Mattress

Company: ATCO

Catalog:  SD 33-309

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2051

Price: $20.00




It's unfortunate Fat Mattress is best known for Noel Redding's post Jimi Hendrix Experience roll in the band.  With and without Redding the group were quite talented, churning out two surprisingly impressive albums that should have warranted a better place in rock history ...

While still working with Hendrix, Redding formed Fat Mattress in 1968.   The original line-up included drummer Eric Dillon, singer Neil Landon, and bassist Jimmy Leverton.   Dillon and Leverton had previously worked together in Engelbert Humperdinck's backing band.   Redding envisioned the group as serving as a platform for his own talents, including providing an opportunity for him to sing and play lead guitar.  The Hendrix connection certainly didn't hurt and the quartet got off to an impressive start, opening for The Jimi Hendrix Experience during a 1968 US tour (Redding played with both bands). 


Quickly signed by Polydor, with ATCO acquiring US distribution rights, the band made their debut with an excellent non-LP 1969 single:

- 1969's 'Naturally' b/w 'Iridescent Butterfly' (Polydor catalog number 56352)   


YouTube has a fascinating black and white clip of the band performing the song on a September 1969 episode of German television's Beat Club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zygj6kAkUg8   


Self-produced, 1969's "Fat Mattress" was one of those albums that probably never had a fair chance of success.  Redding's connection with The Jimi Hendrix Experience clearly colored peoples' expectations and no matter how good the album was, the resulting comparisons almost guaranteed folks were going to be disappointed.  Shame it turned out that way.  Yeah, if you were looking for Hendrix-styled psychedelia, or meltdown guitar wanking, this collection was going to be a major disappointment.  On the other hand, anyone wiling to sit down and give the set a spin without any preconceived notions was likely to be impressed.  Musically the set found the band offering up an engaging mixture of folk-rock ('All Night Drinker'), with occasional psych moves (' I Don't Mind') , and a touch of jazz influences thrown in.  The plan may have been to feature Redding, but for a band that hadn't worked together very long, the other three members were quite impressive with both Landon and Leverton having nice blues-rock voices.      




With minimal promotional support and a US tour ending after five of a projected thirty dates, the collection actually managed to hit the US album charts, pealing at # 134.






"Fat Mattress" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) All Night Drinker   (Neil Landon - Jim Leverton) - 3:18   rating: **** stars

'All Night Drinker' was a bit ragged around the edges and I didn't much care for Chris Wood's flute, but there was something quite appealing here ...  Fairport Convention with an ability to actually rock ?   Traffic without the jazzy overtones?  Nah, neither quite nailed it ...  Still, a nice way to start the album off.  

2.) I Don't Mind   (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 3:51   rating: **** stars

Who would have expected to hear a Summer of Love flashback in 1969?   It must have sounded quite dated in 1969, but I'll readily admit that I think the bouncy melody, great vocals, raga guitar moves, and throwback feel were simply fabulous.  

3.) Bright New Way   (Neil Landon - Jim Leverton) - 3:48  rating: **** stars

Surprisingly enjoyable country-folk tinged acoustic number ...   always liked Redding's acoustic guitar on this one.   

4.) Petrol Pump Assistant  (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 3:01   rating: **** stars

Another mildly lysergic-tinged tune with some lovely Redding folk-rock jangle guitar and hysterical lyrics ...  do aliens really work in English gas stations?  The song was also tapped as the 'B' side of the 'Mr. Moonshine' 45.     

5.) Mr. Moonshine  (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:04   rating: **** stars

'Mr. Moonshine' was an enormously attractive, lysergic-tinged ballad.  With Landon and Redding switching off on lead vocals (Landon was a way better singer), I even liked the song's jazzy mid-song break.  Easily one of the album's highlights.  YouTube has another clip of the band performing the tune on the German Beat Club television program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unYBCaJWWFU     


(side 2)
1.) Magic Forest
  (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 3:05   rating: **** stars

Almost toytown psych, I bet this one sounded a bit dated in 1969.  The acid-tinged lyrics may not have aged all that well, but the combination of Leverton and Landon sharing lead vocals and some nice Redding lead guitar made this one a track that grew on you ...   YouTube has another Beat Club performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXX5Bmw4EYI  

The tune was tapped as a single in Germany, Japan, Spain, and the UK.

- 1970's 'Magic Forest' b/w 'Bright New Way' (Polydor catalog number 56367)

2.) She Came In the Morning   (Neil Landon) - 3:47   rating: **** stars

One of the album's prettiest tunes and a nice showcase for Landon's frequently overlooked voice, the ballad 'She Came In the Morning' would have made a nice single.  Great kettle drums on this one.   

3.) Everything's Blue   (Noel Redding) - 2:50   rating: *** stars

Kind of a perfunctory blues-rock number, 'Everything's Blue' was the album's lone disappointment. 

4.) Walking Through a Garden   (Noel Redding) - 3:20   rating: **** stars

I've always been a push-over for harpsichord and 'Walking Through a Garden' was powered by some surprisingly tasteful harpsichord from Leverton.    With an easygoing and  bucolic feel, this one was the perfect tune for one of those lazy Sunday mornings.  

5.) How Can I Live   (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:26   rating: **** stars

Lots of folks criticize the psych label being attached to this album.  I'll readily admit most of the album isn't particularly psych influenced, but then you get to 'How Can I Live' ... hearing this one makes me wonder if those folks have bothered to listen through the whole album.   Floating on the album's prettiest melody, complete with some excellent Leverton bass, trippy keyboards, and the band's overlooked knack for shimmering harmonies, 'How Can I Live' was a hidden treasure.  Supposedly Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell guested on the track.  For some reason the song's always reminded me a bit of The Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.      







Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Fat Mattress II

Company: ATCO

Catalog:  SD 33-347

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $35.00


A major American tour in support of Fat Mattress' debut album was cancelled after five performances.  In spite of the setback Polydor Records remained committed to the band, financing a follow-up album.  Unfortunately early in the recording sessions personality conflicts arose among the members - chiefly between front man/guitarist Noel Redding and keyboard player John Leverton.  In what should have been a death knell to the band, in the midst of the recording sessions Redding walked out on the band.  On the debut Redding had been the band's prime creative force. He was credited with writing, or co-writing seven of the album's ten selections. His abrupt departure left singer Neil Landon and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Leverton to pick up the creative slack. The good news is they proved up to the challenge; collaborated on seven tracks with 'She' standing as a Landon solo composition.  The other three tracks reflected material written or co-written by Redding prior to his departure.  Anxious to finish the album, Landon, Leverton and drummer Eric Dillon went looking for a new guitarist, settling on Steve Hammond who had played in Chris Barber's Jazz Band and been a member of Chris Farlow's backing band The Hill.  Keyboard player Mick Weaver was also added to the line-up, thereby letting Leverton focus his attention on bass and backing vocals.  


In spite of the personnel upheavals, if you liked the Fat Mattress debut album you were likely to enjoy 1970's self-produced "Fat Mattress II".  So first a disclaimer - anyone who bought this one for the Noel Redding link to Jimi Hendrix and was expecting hard, jamming rock, well you were out of luck.  As mentioned Redding was gone by the time the LP was released and what little hard rock influences survived on the debut LP were totally gone on this one.  Musically the collection was quite diverse, the eleven tracks found the band dabbling in a mixture of conventional rock (the single 'Naturally'), folk ('Leafy Lane') and jangle rock ('Anyway You Want'). As lead singer Neil Landon was never less than enjoyable.  His voice was commercial and capable of handling the band's varied repertoire without stress, or strain. While nobody came off as a blazing superstar, the band performances were uniformly tight and enthusiastic.  The biggest surprise came from the fact many of these tunes reflected a distinctively mid-'60s pop/pop-psych feel.  Admittedly three or four years isn't a long time, but in terms of changing musical tastes, the album sounded a little outdated - more 1967 than 1970. Certainly not a problem if you were a fan of catchy melodies ('Anyway You Want' and 'Childhood Dream') mod influences ('Naturally') and tight harmony vocals which occasionally recalled a British version of CSN&Y.('At the Ball').  Judging by the album's lack of commercial success, those weren't characteristics the early-'70s buying public were interested in.  


The second album routinely gets slammed by reviewers and while it won't change any aspect of your life, I like it.  In fact I think it's better than the debut.  Perhaps because they didn't feel they had anything to lose the collection reflected an easy-going charm and I love virtually every one of the performances.


"Fat Mattress II" track listing

(side 1)

1.) The Storm (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) - 4:13 rating: **** stars

Showcasing Jimmy Leverton's work on Hammond B-3, 'The Storm' was a laidback, rather melodic ballad showcasing Neil Landon's dry, but likeable vocals. The tune also spotlighted the band's strong harmony vocals.

2.) Anyway You Want (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) - 3:47 rating: **** stars

With a bouncy jangle-rock melody, 'Anyway You Want' was one of the album's best tunes.  Once again spotlighting Landon's gritty voice the tune had a great hook that just built more and more energy as it flowed along.  Nice Steve Hammond fuzz guitar.

3.) Leafy Lane (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) -  2:50  rating: **** stars

With a sweet, pastoral melody the ballad 'Leafy Lane' was one of those songs that could quickly lower your blood pressure by ten points.  Lovely vocals; mesmerizing melody and just too short.

4.) Naturally (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) -  3:03   rating: **** stars

The album's most outright commercial effort, the rocker 'Naturally' sounded like a mash-up of "Revolver" era Beatles (Steve Hammond providing some great George Harrison-styled lead guitar) with a touch of early The Who mod-stylings on the vocals.  The downside is that to my ears it sounded like something that had been written in recorded in the mid-'60s rather than 1970.  Still, I thought it was an awesome song and easy to see why it was released as a single.

- 1969's 'Naturally' b/w 'Iridescent Butterfly' (Polydor catalog number 56352)


YouTube has a 1969 performance of the song recorded during an appearance on the German Beat Club television show.  Neil Redding on lead guitar.   Fat Mattress - Naturally - YouTube

5.) Roamin' (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) - 4:25 rating: *** stars

The weakest song on side one, 'Roamin'' was another pretty ballad, distinguished by the addition of a touch of Traffic-styled  jazz to the mix (courtesy of the flute backing).  


(side 2)

1.) Happy My Love (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) - 3:43 rating: *** stars

Opening with a nifty, pseudo-jazzy riff 'Happy My Love' had quite a bit of commercial potential.  For some reason this one makes me think of Blood, Sweat & Tears without the irritating horns.  

2.) Childhood Dream (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton) - 3:20  rating: **** stars

It surprises me but I have to admit I like their softer, folk-tinged performances as much as their more rock oriented tunes.  Anyhow 'Childhood Dream' was another track that sounded like a mid-'60s performances (the flute gives it kind of an early Traffic vibe), rather than early-'70s rock.  

3.) She (Neil Landon) - 2:36  rating: *** stars

The album's most psychedelic-tinged performance, 'She' was also the album's most dated performance.  With a weird mix of different timings, Landon's heavily treated vocals and a heavy dose of percussion, this one would not have sounded out of place on an International String Band album.

4.) Highway (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:24  rating: *** stars

The first of three Redding compositions, 'Highway' was a pleasant mid-tempo ballad showcasing some nice Leverton bass work. The song was tapped as the album's second single:

- 1970's 'Highway' b/w 'Happy My Love' (Polydor catalog number 2058-053)

5.) At the Ball (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:13   rating: **** stars

Sporting a dreamy,  mid-eastern influence, the breezy 'At the Ball' was another interesting performance.  The tight harmonies gave it kind of an English version of CSN&Y feel.

6.) People (Neil Landon - Noel Redding) - 4:00  rating: **** stars

Eric Dillon finally got a moment in the spotlight with the opening of 'People'.  A catchy pop-rock tune, it was another number that sounded mid-'60s in terms of composition and performance.  Not a problem for my ears.






I have never seen or heard a copy, but there is also a four track 1970 Mexican EP "The Newest" (Polydor catalog number 2229 001)  'All Night Drinker' and 'Petrol Pump Assistant' were non-LP tracks that  may have been salvaged from recordings shelved, or started for a planned third album.  That project was abandoned when the band called it quits in 1970.





"The Newest" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Magic Forest (Bosque Magico) (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton)

2.) All Night Drinker (Bebedor Nocturno) (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton)


(side 2)

1.) Petrol Pump Assistant (Asistente Pettolero) (Neil Landon - Noel Redding)

2 ) Naturally (Naturalmente) (Neil Landon - Jimmy Leverton)