Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1975)
- Bobby Harrison (RIP 2022) -- vocals, drums, percussion
supporting musicians (1975)
- Clem Cattini -- drums
-Matthew Fisher -- keyboards
- Herbie Flowers -- bass
- Tony Iommi -- guitar
- Henry McCulloch -- drums
- Walt Monogham -- bass
- Micky Moody -- guitar
- Ray Owen -- vocals
- Ian Paice -- drums
- Bob Sargent -- keyboards
- Chris Stewart -- bass
- Ray Owen -- vocals
- The Golden Apples of the Sun
- Nobody's Business
- The Powerpack
- The Rockefellas
Genre: rock and funk
Rating: 3 stars ***
Country/State: East Hamm, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: hole punch
Catalog ID: --
Let me warn you this was about as far from Procol Harum as imaginable. It's also hard to believe this guy was born and raised in London - planning on becoming a soccer star until he shattered his arm. Well, why not become a drummer?
Best known for his time with Procol Harum, singer/drummer Bobby Harrison went on to form the band Freedom. When Freedom fell apart over musical vision and directed, in 1972 Harrison embarked on a planned solo career. That solo career was set aside when Harrison and Juicy Lucy guitarist Mickey Moody clicked during the recording sessions and decided to form the band Snafu. Harrison's affiliation with Snafu lasted for a couple of albums and he subsequently turned his attention back to a solo career.
Harrison' first effort was a 1974 single for Black Sabbath manager Peter Meehan's short-lived World Wide Associates label. Produced by Steve Rowland, the single was an impressive and brave cover of the Joe Simon tune, but it did little commercially.
- 1974's 'Cleopatra Jones' b/w 'Spotlight' (WWS catalog number WWS)
Much of the material for Harrison's 1975 solo debut "Unkist" was apparently re-purposed from his earlier solo recording sessions. 'Long Gone' was actually a remake of a Harrison-Micky Moody collaboration off the 1973 "Snafu" LP. Co-produced by Harrison and former Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher, the album's clear focus and selling point was Harrison's growling, Southern rock-styled voice. And as exemplified by tracks like 'Whiskey Head' and 'Long Gone', that voice was the perfect instrument for Harrison's deep affection for rhythm and blues and funk. Admittedly the album wasn't perfect. Like many singers Harrison occasionally tried too hard; equating vocal power with quality. On tracks like pedestrian blues-rocker 'Thinkin' 'Bout You' that simply wasn't the case. Like bad Janis Joplin, when he hit vocal overdrive, he merely sounded shrill. A couple of the slower numbers, including the Gospel-tinged closer 'Looking for a Friend' simply didn't register. Still, with performances like 'Cleopatra Jones', the remake of 'Long Gone' and 'Whiskey Head' there were enough strong performances to make this set worthwhile. The collection featured an impressive list of friends including Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, Junco Partners' keyboardist Bob Sargeant, and Black Sabbath guitarist Tommi Immomi. Immomi turned the rocker 'King Of The Night' into one of the album highlights.
Unable to interest an English label in the album, it saw a US release on Capitol.
82 years old, Harrison died in his sleep in late January 2022. You can find Harrison's archived website at: Journey2Freedom - the website for Boby Harrison's autobiography and his bands Journey and Freedom (archive.org)
"Funkist" track listing:
1.) Cleopatra Jones (Joe Simon) - 3:37 rating: **** stars
Covering Joe Simon's 'Cleopatra Jones' was certainly an unusual choice. While Harrison's cover wasn't going to make you forget Simon's original performance, I'm hard pressed to think of another rocker who could have pulled it off. Well, perhaps the late James Dewar. In fact, on this one Harrison's performance reminded me of Dewar's work with Robin Trower. (Hats off to the late Tamara Dobson who managed to make carrying an Uzi submachine gun look sexy and fashionable.) As mentioned, the song was previously released as an English single.
2.) Whiskey Head (Bobby Harrison - Walt Monaghan) - 4:32 rating: **** stars
Say what you will about the album's shortcomings, but there was no denying Harrison has an impressive, blue-eyed soul voice. Teamed with a steamy funk number like 'Whiskey Head' and the results were impressive. Tough to sit still through this one and it also gave the un-creditted drummer (Ian Paice?) a chance to shine.
3.) Thinkin' 'Bout You (Bobby Harrison - Walt Monaghan) - 2:35 rating: ** stars
Another blues-rocker, 'Thinkin' 'Bout You; wasn't a great tune, but it does make me smile. There's just something fascinating hearing Harrison's growling voice. How does a guy born and raised in London sound so Southern fried?
4.) King Of The Night (Bobby Harrison - Bob Sargeant) - 7:09 rating: **** stars
Showcasing Tommi Iommi on lead guitar (and powering the tune with a tasty little guitar riff), 'King of the Night' found effortlessly pivoting to Deep Purple-styled hard rock. Harrison certainly had the chops for the genre, though clocking in at over seven minutes, the tune would have benefited from a bit of judicious editting.
Given the title I was expecting a mindless slice of bar band blues ... Well, that was actually a pretty good description of 'Little Linda Lovejoy.' I'm guessing this was part of a much longer in-studio jam which was abruptly faded out. Wonder where Harrison and company were spending their off hours?
2.) It's Not the Spotlight (Gerry Goffin - Barry Goldberg) - 3:05 rating: *** stars
Sounding very out of place, 'It's Not the Spotlight' offered up a nice, if rote cover of the well known Gerry Goffen and Barry Goldberg ballad. Produced by Steve Rowland, Harrison's cover was certainly better than Goffin's original (which sounded like a Dylan tune), or Rod Stewart's horrible remake.
3.) Long Gone (Bobby Harrison - Micky Moody) - 4:00 rating: **** stars
A remake of a track that appeared on the first Snafu album, 'Long Gone' was my choice for the album's best performance, The track managed to take a pounding Bad Company-styled blues rocker and up the funk quotient a touch. Loved the electric piano on this one - former Procol Harum's Matthew Fischer? Shame Harrison and Paul Rodgers never got a chance to collaborate.
4.) Looking for a Friend (Bobby Harrison - Bob Sargeant) - 4:22 rating: ** stars
One of two tunes co-written with Junco partners keyboardist Bob Sargeant, the ballad 'Looking for a Friend' introduced a Bonnie and Delaney Gospel feel to the mix. Complete with backing chorus, the song was pretty, but far from original. It also served as an indicator of Harrison's future direction. In the late 1990s he became a born again Christian, touring England with the Christian-rock band Journey.
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