Band members Related acts
- Mick Grabham -- vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
- Nigel Olsson -- drums
- Dick Parry -- sax
- Caleb Quaye -- keyboards
- Mike Storey -- keyboards
- Rick Willis -- bass
- Guitar Orchestra
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Mick the Lad
Company: United Artists
Country/State: Sunderland, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing
Catalog ID: 463
It's doubtful many Americans would recognize Mick Grabham's name, even though he's played with a score of well known and not so well known bands, including Bandit, Cochise, Plastic Penny, and Procol Harum (as well as touring providing studio support to dozens of other acts).
Released in 1972, Grabham's solo debut "Mick the Lad" was apparently an unintended consequence of having replaced David Ball in the band Procol Harum (Ball having previously replaced Robin Trower). Inspired in part by his work with Emitt Rhodes who undertook a brief 1971 UK tour with support from Grabham, the album was arguably a one man show, Grabham producing, writing all the material, and playing virtually everything but drums (long time buddy Nigel Olsson brought in for that role). Grabham's never made any great claims on behalf of the album saying it was largely an effort to see what he could do in the studio, rather than any effort to score a commercial hit. I've listened to the album dozens of times and while it isn't a fantastic hidden treasure, it's more than servicable; far better than the vast majority of "vanity" projects that mega star band members seemingly get one shot at releasing. I've always been a fan of Grabham the guitarist. He's never been the flashiest or fastest player out there, but like Tim Rennick and Peter White, his understated performances are always tasteful and effective. Against that backdrop, the album's biggest surprise came in hearing what a great voice Grabham had. If you were imagining something out of the Keith Richards school of vocal abuse, you were in for a major surprise. Not only could Grabham hold a tune, but he was every bit as good as some of the lead singers in bands he'd played with. Maybe because the album had such a low-key, no pressure feel to it, country-rock tinged tracks like 'Sweet Blossom Woman', 'You'll Think of Me' and 'Saga' have always appealed to my ears. Totally unlike anything else on the album; almost a throwback to Plastic Penny, 'Waitin' Round On You' was actually my choice for standout performance.
The album certainly was far from perfect with more than a couple of tunes sounding like rough demos, but it's well worth looking for and original copies are surprisingly hard to locate in good shape.
the Lad" track listing:
1.) Sweet Blossom Woman (Mick Grabham) - 3:10 rating: **** stars
With a likeable country-rock tinge, 'Sweet Blossom Woman' could have been a song out of the Cochise catalog. The song actually had a couple of things going for it: 1.) it served to showcase what a nice voice Grabham had, 2.) the harmony vocals were sterling, and 3.) kicking in about halfway through the track the backward guitar was totally unexpected.
2.) Scraunchy (instrumental) (Mick Grabham) - 2:30 rating: ** stars
A somewhat standard boogie-rock instrumental, other than some multi-tracked Grabham guitar, 'Scraunchy' simply didn't have a great deal going for it.
3.) You'll Think of Me (Mick Grabham) - 3:05 rating: **** stars
Another country-rock flavored effort, 'You'll Think of Me' actually sounded a bit like a cross between a Crosby, Stills and Nash tune and Cochise. Pretty song that again highlighted what a nice voice Grabham had.
4.) I Won't Be There (Mick Grabham) - 2:15 rating: ** stars
A forgettable mid-tempo ballad, 'I Won't Be There' showcased Grabham's dexterity on bass (which essentially served as lead instrument on the track). The song was also interesting for the fact Grabham sounded as if he were trying out an American accent.
5.) Waitin' Round On You (Mick Grabham) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
The album's strangest song, with it's effects treated vocals and guitar, 'Waitin' Round On You' had a slinky, psych-tinged feel could have been a Plastic Penny outtake. Totally unlike anything else on the album and very cool.
Opening up with some beautiful jangle rock guitar moves, the instrumental 'There's Been a Few Since Then' started out promisingly, shifting into a sort of Southern rock groove (Marshall Tucjker Band anyone ?), but eventually ran out of steam. Another track that sounded like a demo that didn't get finished ...
2.) Let It All Down (Mick Grabham) - 3:41 rating: *** stars
With a raw and under-produced feel, 'Let It All Down' reflected a mild country/pub rock tinge and sounded like a rough, incomplete demo. Grabham's wah wah guitar provided the song's highpoints. The sudden appearance of double tracked vocals at the end of the song was also a mild and pleasant surprise.
3.) Two Fifteen (instrumental) (Mick Grabham) - 2:45 rating: **** stars
Opening up with crystalline strumming 12 strings and Grabham's tasteful electric guitar on top, 'Two Fifteen' was one of the album's prettiest compositions, but also sounded incomplete. Still, it had a beautiful melody ...
4.) Saga (Mick Grabham) - 7:20 rating: **** stars
'Saga' ended the album with a pretty and fairly commercial acoustic - initially just Grabham on acoustic and electric guitar, at about the 3 minute mark some atonal keyboards briefly kicked in, before the song returned to its pastoral feel, complete with wonderful multi-track vocals. Grabham then trotted out some nifty electric guitar effects, Very nice way to end the album.
For hardcore fans there's also a non-LP single:
- 1972's 'On Fire For You Baby' b/w 'Sweet Blossom Woman' (United Artists catalog number UP 35391)
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