Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1977)
- Alan Bowery (aka Alan Barry) -- vocals, lead guitar, bass
- John Dickinson -- vocals, keyboards
- Tino Licinio (RIP 2008) -- vocals, rhythm guitar, bass
- Chris Merrick -- bass
- Dave Mueller (aka King Harry) -- drums, percussion
- Bill Stoddart -- bass
- The Actress (Alan Barry and Tino Licinio)
- The Dowlands (Alan Barry)
- Fields (Alan Barry)
- The League of Gentlemen (Tino Licinio)
- The Ravens (Tino Licinio)
- The Shame (John Dickinson)
- Shy Lambs (Alan Bowery and John Dickinson)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Divided We Stand
Country/State: Bridgewater, Somerset, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 1639
True story to show you how insightful I can be - I picked this one up at a yard sale years ago. For some reason I thought it was a King Harvest album and threw it in my to-listen-to-pile where it sat for years and years. It took years before I I finally figured out it was a totally different band - a band I didn't have a clue about. I'm apparently not the only person who'd never heard of the band.
So here's what I can pull together on these guys. The line-up featured Alan Barry (aka Alan Bowery, John Dickinson, and Tino Licinio. The three had all kicked around the music industry recording with a slew of bands including The Actress, Fields, The Shame and The Shy Lambs.
Dickinson seems to have been the trio's front man, producing and engineering the album in his small Somerset-based Movement Studio, as well as writing the majority of the eight tunes. The trio's demos somehow attracted the attention of EMI, which led to the release of 1977's "Divided We Stand". In a great example of a poor corporate and artistic fit, in the States the band was signed by Capitol's progressively oriented Harvest label. Musically the album leaned heavily towards a mash-up of mid-'70s English pop that recalled the likes of bands like Charlie, City Boy, Pilot, Smokie, with a touch of glam bands like The Sweet (at their most commercial). Elsewhere 'Grandpa's Farm' and 'Endless Miles' had a modest English folk feel, while 'Dressed To Kill' sounded like a strong Stealers Wheel tune. Nothing here was particularly original, but virtually all of the tracks had at least something going for them - strong melodies, great harmony vocals, energetic performances. There really wasn't a bad song, making it hard to pick a favorite. If pushed into a corner I'd go with 1.) 'Fighting Talk'; 2.) 'You Stand Accused' and 3.) 'Dear Matthew'. Sadly overlooked and well worth hunting down.
We Stand" track listing:
1.) Fighting Talk (Tino Licinio) - 3:39 rating: **** stars
One of three songs penned by Tino Licinio, and an album highlight, 'Fighting Talk' opened the album with a fantastic slice of pop-rock. With a driving rock melody, the results fell somewhere between Charlie and The Sweet. Highly commercial you had to wonder how the song was overlooked as a UK single, though the tune was tapped as a Dutch single:
- 1977's 'Fighting Talk' b/w 'Keeping the Peace' (EMI catalog number 5C 006-06645)
2.) You Stand Accused (John Dickinson) - 5:13 rating: **** stars
Wow, talk about a song with a massive sound ... 'You Stand Accused ' was a wonderful, dramatic ballad that rivaled Phil Spector in terms of that special big, open sound. The tune had all the ingredients you'd expect to hear on a massive radio hit - killer melody; great lead guitar, anguished vocals - Dickinson on lead vocals (left channel) and keyboards , Licinio on lead vocals (middle channel) and guitar, and Bowery on lead guitar and backing vocals. The tune was also tapped as an English single:
- 1977's 'You Stand Accused' b/w 'Keeping the Peace' (EMI catalog number EMI 2745)
3.) Keeping the Peace (Tino Licinio) - 4:27 rating: *** stars
Opening with some tasty George Harrison-styled slide guitar, 'Keeping the Peace' was another breezy, mid-tempo pop tune with a great deal of top-40 potential.
4.) Grandpa's Farm (John Dickinson) - 5:31 rating: **** stars
The atypical 'Grandpa's Farm' seems to be the song most folks know them for. A pretty folk-flavored tune, it sounded a bit like something an amped-up Fairport Convention, or David Cousins and the Strawbs might have taken a stab at. Beautiful melody that showcased their sterling harmony vocals and should have made these guys stars.
As said before, I never associated Harvest with the kind of pop represented by 'Dear Matthew'. Kicked along by a breezy melody and the band's sweet harmonies, the song had a very mid-'70s English pop feel. I can actually remember hearing it on local Belgian radio stations. Highly commercial, though the lead vocals sounded like they been recorded over a long distance phone line. The song was tapped as a single in Belgium and Holland:
- 1977's 'Dear Matthew' b/w 'Grandpa's Farm' (EMI catalog number 04 006-06494 (Belgium) 05 006-06494 (Holland)
2.) Can You Hear the Music (Tino Licinio) - 6:50 rating: **** stars
Maybe it was the treated lead guitar, the bubbly synthesizers, or Licnio's dry voice, but 'Can You Hear the Music' has always reminded me of a strong Alan Parsons tune. With multiple time shifts, it was also the band's closest encountered with a progressive tune - again recalling an early Alan Parsons Project tune.
3.) Dressed To Kill (John Dickinson) - 3:22 rating: **** stars
'Dressed To Kill' has always reminded me of a Gerry Rafferty and Stealers Wheel tune - same dry mix of folk and pop moves. Like a good Stealers Wheel tune, it was actually quite commercial and catchy.
4.) Endless Miles (John Dickinson) - 4:44 rating: *** stars
'Endless Miles' ended the album with another nice, if slightly under whelming folk tinged ballad.
Other than a brief UK tour, EMI seemingly did virtually nothing to market, or promote the LP. Stuck with a massive bill, the trio apparently ended up serving as an ersatz house band for EMI, paying off their debts with a series of sessions.
65 years old, Licinio died of lung cancer in November 2008.
A couple of years back I found some comments Dickerson had added to a YouTube posting of the album:
Thanks Hwangvis thanks for posting the album [to YouTube]
I'm John Dickenson, I produced the album and wrote a lot of the songs :)
I always looked on Al (Richard Bowrey) as an exceptional guitarist, singer and a very dear friend so to read his snidey comments came as a real surprise, especially as nothing like this was ever said in the 25 years we worked together.
Contrary to what he has said, King Harry suffered from 3 things, the lack of a good drummer, the depature of Nick Mobbs as Head Of A&R and the fact that EMI did not take up the option for a 2nd album due to the arrival of Punk.
After King Harry folded Al and I continued to work together on another album with a singer. However, once completed this turned out to be just a self serving vehicle for the singer who promoted himself as a solo artist along with our album . . . nice !
This was the final straw, by then I'd had enough of "the music business" and the direction music was heading and set out on new adventures with my partner and 2 wonderful children.
Currently we work together successfully as a family in the creative and ever expanding Movie, TV and Games industry and enjoy every minute of it.
When I look back I have done so many different and exciting things with my life and consider myself to have been very fortunate.
I wish Al well and it's good to hear that he is still playing and happy but I have to say after reading his comments this has turned out to be a very sad day for me.
I will close by saying that I have always loved to participate in the design of every single aspect of what, at the end of the day is my own life, and have tried to help others along the way including Al . . . . If that makes me a control freak, so be it.
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