Curtis Knight

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- Curtis Knight (aka Curtis McNear, aka Curtis McNair, aka 

  Curtis Knight Zeus) (RIP 1999) -- vocals,  guitar


  line up (1973)

- Andy Beirne -- drums, percussion, harmonica

- Nicky Bogarte -- keyboards

- "Fast" Eddie Clark (RIP 2018) -- lead guitar

- Jeremy Havard -- bass

- Curtis Knight -- vocals, guitar


  line up (1974)

- "Fast" Eddie Clark (RIP 2018) -- lead guitar

NEW - Nicky Hogarth -- keyboards (replaced Nicky Bogarte)

- Curtis Knight -- vocals, guitar

NEW - Chris Perry-- drums, percussion (replaced Andy Beirne)

NEW - John Weir - bass (replaced Jeremy Havard)




- Black Electric (Eddie Clark)

- Blue Goose (Eddie Clark, Nicky Hogarth and Chris Perry)

- Eddie Clark

- Continuous Performance (Eddie Clark)

- Dirty Tricks (Andy Beirne)

- Fastway (Eddie Clark)

- Charles Fuqua's The Ink Spots

- Grand Prix (Andy Beirne)

- Headgirl (Eddie Clark)

- Jimi Hendrix

- Curtis Knight and Half Past Midnight

- Curtis Knight and the Squires

- Curtis Knight Band

- Motorhead (Eddie Clark)

- The Muggers (Eddie Clark)

- Scarlet (Andy Beirne)

- Scorched Earth (Andy Beirne)

- The Statesmen

- The Titans




Genre: rock, psych

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Down In the Village

Company: Paramount

Catalog:  PAS 5023

Country/State: Fort Scott, Kansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3516

Price: $60.00

The rock archives are full of artists who deserve to be rediscovered and the late Curtis Knight is certaily one of those entities.  Knight may not have been the most original, or creative artist you've ever come across, but he has a lengthy catalog, including  an extensive history with Jimi Hendirx.  Unfortunately, stretching back to the late'59s, his discography is pretty much a confusing disaster.


Produced by Ed Chalpin for his PPX Exterprise label (the same guy responsible for releasing hundreds of Jimi Hendrix albums),  I wish I knew more about 1970's "Down In the Village".  Distributed by Paramount, the scant liner notes are of little utility - they don't tell you where the set was recorded, let alone who the players were.  That's unfortunate since this low-tech collection was surprisingly impressive.  Given the Hendrix influences that cast its shadow over most of these ten tracks, it's a sure thing these tracks were recorded after Knight met Hendrix in 1965.  My guess is the material was recorded in the 1966-67 timeframe when Knight and Hendrix recorded a great deal of material together, but who knows.  There's even a chance Hendrix plays on some of the material.  Again, who knows.   Regardless of whether Hendrix was present, exemplified by tracks like 'Lena', 'Gimmie Your Plenty Lovin'' and 'Goodbye Cruel World' the album should appeal to the legions of fans who worship at the man's alter.  Judging by these tracks, Knight certainly wasn't as talented as Hendrix, but he made the best of his talents and had a good ear for a funky melody and more than his share of guitar chops.  What's the old adage?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?  That seems to capture the album's overall vibe.  A little weak in the originality department, but consistently entertaining.  Hard to imagine Paramount could have come up with an uglier cover concept.  You almost had to wonder if their goal was to minimize sales.


"Down In the Village" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Down In the Village   (Curtis McNear) - 3:17   rating: **** stars

Even with the overabundance of cowbell, 'Down In the Village' was a surprisingly funky endeavor.  It was also one of the few songs that didn't reflect a Hendrix-inspired sound.  "Do the Indian walk now ..."  Maybe it was just me, but listening closely, it sounded like George Harrison might have borrowed the bass pattern for his lead guitar solo on The Beatles 'Birthday'. 

The song was also released as a single in Holland,  Italy and the UK:

- 1970's 'Down In the Village' b/w 'HIgh and Low' (Polydor catalog number 2050 030)

- 1970's 'Down In the Village' b/w 'No Point of View' (RCA Victor catalog number 1950) 

- 1970's 'Down In the Village' b/w 'No Point of View' (Stateside catalog number 3C 006-91552) 

2.) Lena   (Curtis McNear) - 3:51   rating: **** stars

Darn, wish I could play me some guitar like Knight's work on the blazing 'Lena' !!!  Blues-meets-Hendrix and one of Knight's best vocals.  The album's best performance, this was the track I would have tapped as a single.

3.) Friedman Hill   (Curtis McNear) - 3:00   rating: *** stars

With a raw, bluesy feel, 'Friedman Hill' was a disconcerting tale of drug use gone awry ...  Kudos to Knight for going against the counterculture with this tale of drug induced despair.    Don't do it guys.

4.) See No Evil   (Curtis McNear) - 3:38   rating: **** stars

I'm usually not a gigantic blues guy, but I was quite taken by 'See No Evil'.  Opening up with some nice B-3 Hammond fills and one of the fattest fuzz bass patterns I've ever heard, this was a killer performance that got better each and every time.

5.) Beautiful World, Beautiful People   (Curtis McNear - John Mazzola) - 3:03   rating: *** stars

For a moment the fragile ballad 'Beautiful World, Beautiful People' sounded a bit like Arthur Lee and Love, or maybe Thunderclap Newman.  Those comparisons were underscored by the somewhat dated Summer-of-Love-styled lyrics.   

6.) Goin Up the Road   (Curtis McNear) - 3:57   rating: ** stars

The album's one throwaway performance, 'Goin Up the Road' was a pedestrian, bluesy number that simply didn't sound like it had been finished.


(side 2)

1.) Gimmie Your Plenty Lovin'   (Curtis McNear - Harvey Vinson) - 9:45   rating: **** stars

Hendrix, Hendrix, Hendrix ...  yeah, that's a pretty apt description of this extended vamp.  'Gimmie Your Plenty Lovin'' started out with considerable energy and just went off the rails into lysergic madness as it went along.  Admittedly the last couple of minutes weren't really necessary, but it made for one freaked out selection.

2.) Eenee Meenee Minee Mo   (Curtis McNear) - 3:53   rating: **** stars

Sure, Hendrix's shadow cast itself on the goofy 'Eenee Meenee Minee Mo' , but unlike some of the other tracks on the album, this one had more of a soul feel than a Hendrix-ish psych flavor.  Love the big, rolling bass that kicked the tune along.

3.) Hi-Low (Curtis McNear) - 3:33   rating: **** stars

The album's funkiest tune, 'Hi Low' was  worth hearing just for the growling, burping bass line. Shame the album didn't include liner notes telling you who the supporting musicians were.   Awesome tune.

4.) Goodbye Cruel World   (Curtis McNear - John Mazzola) - 2:13   rating: **** stars

Geez, talk about someone having swallowed the Hendrix sound hook, line and sinker ...   Seriously, 'Goodbye Cruel World' found McNear and company putting on their best Hendrix impression.  The problem is this one was rocker totally derivative and Knight simply lacked the vocal chops to compete with Hendrix. I will admit there was plenty of Knight fuzz guitar on this one and the swirling organ sound was kind of neat !!!



And like so much of Knight's recording catalog, this set's been subject to multiple releases by different labels and in slightly different variants.  No idea which ones are legitimate and which aren't.  Among the myriad of releases I'm aware of are:


  1970's "Down In the Village" (Stateside catalog number 2 C062-92738)


  1970's "Down In the Village" (Decca catalog number SLK 16686-P)


  1971's "Goodbye Cruel World" (Stateside catalog number 3C062-92193


  1972's "Down In the Village (Polydor catalog number 2441 009)






Genre: rock, psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Second Coming

Company: Dawn

Catalog:  DNLS 3060

Country/State: Fort Scott, Kansas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 30280

Price: $100.00


The early 1970s saw Curtis Knight relocated to London where in 1972 he formed the band Curtis Knight Zeus.  The original line-up featured drummer Andy Beirne, keyboardist Nicky Bogarte, guitarist "Fast" Eddie and bassist Jeremy Havard.   By 1974 the line-up had undergone massive changes with Knight and Clark being the only holdovers.  They were joined by keyboardist Nicky Hogarth, drummer Chris Perry and bassist John Weir.  

Picked up by Pye's Dawn subsidiary, Zeus MK II released their first album in 1974.  Produced by Knight, who was also responsible for penning all ten tracks, "The Second Coming" wasn't exactly a lost classic, but had enough going for it to warrant a couple of spins.  Some folks have labeled the collection nothing more than a series of Hendrix-clones.  That's not exactly accurate.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Mysterious Lady' and '', Knight clearly owed more than a passing debt to his former protégée Jimi Hendrix. (In case you were not aware of the relationship between the Knight and Hendrix, the liner notes underscored it - including a mention of Knight's book "Jimi - An Intimate Biography".)  That said, the predominant sound was focused on more conventional early-'70s FM rock genres.  While the spotlight was clearly on Knight, the real find was guitarist Clark. Whether channeling Hendrix ('Mysterious Lady'), or displaying a lighter melodic touch on the ballad 'New Horizon', pretty much everything Clark touched was worth hearing.  Highlights included the blues-rocker 'Road Song', 'Eyes of a Child' and the extended Clark showcase 'Cloud'. 


Shortly after the album was completed Clark, Hogarth and  Perry recorded some demo material with guitarist Allan Callan.  The English Anchor label picked up the material, releasing it under the name Blue Goose.  Much to Knight's displeasure, the three subsequently left Zeus.  The Blue Goose project quickly blew apart over personality issues, with Clark eventually reappearing as a member of Motorhead.


Down In the Village" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Zeus   (Curtis Knight) - 3:19   rating: *** stars

Geez, how to describe the opener 'Zeus'?  Hendrix crossbred with Motorhead?  While Knight sounded a little raw, the band came off as surprisingly tight with the Perry - Weir rhythm section relentlessly pushing Knight and Clark through the tune.  Interesting, the arrangement even found time to let Perry plug in a brief drum solo ...

2.) New Horizon   (Curtis Knight) - 4:00   rating: **** stars

I was completely surprised by 'New Horizon'.   Opening up as a laidback, restrained ballad, Curtis' raspy  voice proved a surprisingly effective instrument on the track.   And the '70s hippy vibe gave the tune kind of an Arthur Lee and Love vibe.  The song was tapped as a Dutch single:


- 1973's 'New Horizon' b/w 'Sea of Time' (EMI catalog number 5C 006-94955)


3.) Silver Queen   (Curtis Knight) - 6:15   rating: ** stars

Powered by Knight's strained speak-sing vocals, some weird bleating female backing vocalists and a rather directionless melody, 'Silver Queen' droned on and on ...  For some reason the tune's always reminded me of a Hawkwind-meets-disco vibe.




4.) Mysterious Lady   (Curtis Knight) - 2:47   rating: **** stars

If the first three songs managed to underplay Knight's Hendrix debt, that curtain flew open with the blazing 'Mysterious Lady'.   With Clark trotting out some of his best Hendrix moves, the song was built on a funky little riff that these guys beat into a pulp.  Nice performance.

5.) Road Song   (Curtis Knight - J.R. Reid) - 4:38   rating: **** stars

'Road Song' was interesting for demonstrating Knight actually had a decent voice.  A strong, propulsive  blues-rocker, it was also the perfect setting for Clark to cut lose with a dazzling solo.  The tune would have been even better without the chirpy female backing singers.


(side 2)

1.) People, Places and Things   (Curtis Knight) - 2:55   rating: ** stars

The autobiographical 'People, Places and Things' was a mindless slice of boogie rock sporting some of the dullest life observations you could imagine.  The track would not have sounded out of place on a mid-'70s Status Quo collection.  The song was notable for the absence of a single original note, or thought.  For some reason the song was tapped as a single in Denmark and the UK: 


- 1974's 'People, Places and Things' b/w 'New Horizons' (Philips catalog number 6019 163)

- 1974's 'People, Places and Things' b/w 'Mysterious Lady' (Dawn catalog number DNS 1065)

2.) Cloud   (Curtis Knight) - 8:27   rating: *** stars

The first half and closing sections of the atmospheric 'Cloud' were easily the album's standout performances.  Unfortunately, the mid section let Clark and company stretch out on a needless and generic jam segment.

3.) Eyes of a Child   (Curtis Knight) - 2:47  rating: **** stars

Blazing blues-rocker ...  Short, tight and energetic, it was one of the album highlights.

4.) The Confession   (Curtis Knight) - 5:54   rating: *** stars

'The Confession' featured a nice enough rock riff, but just never went anywhere.  Hopefully Knight's "wanderer"  lyrics were fantasy since the alternative would have reflected a rather unpleasant series of lifestyle choices and if you missed his traveling agenda the first time around, there was always the second chorus which repeated it.

5.) On Rainbow   (Curtis Knight) - 2:47  rating: **** stars

One of the album's more tuneful compositions, 'Oh Rainbow' won me over with Nicky Hogarth's Clavinet and cheesy '70s synthesizer washes.  Shame it wasn't longer. The song reappeared as the "B" side to the 1974 non-LP 45 'The Devil Made Me Do It' which even saw a US release on Bell.



The band's final release was a non-LP single:

- 1974's 'The Devil Made Me Do It' b/w 'Mysterious Lady (Philips catalog number 6019 115 )

- 1974's 'The Devil Made Me Do It' b/w 'On Rainbow' (Dawn catalog number DNS 1049)

- 1974's 'The Devil Made Me Do It' b/w 'On Rainbow' (Bell catalog number 45-457)