Loving Awareness

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1976)

- Charley Charles (aka  Hugh Charles) (RIP 1990) -- vocals, 

  drums,  percussion

- Micky Gallagher -- keyboards

- John Turnbull -- vocals, guitar

- Norman Watt-Roy -- bass

- The Animals (Micky Gallagher)

- Animals and Friends (Micky Gallagher)

- ARC  (Micky Gallagher and John Turbull)

- Bell and Arc  (Micke Gallagher and John Turbull)

- The Blockheads (Charley Charles, Micky Gallagher

  John Turnbull and Norman Watt-Roy)

- Bop (Charley Charles)

- Camel (Mickey Gallagher)

- Captains of Industry (Micky Gallagher and Norman Watt-Roy)

- Casablanca (Charley Charles)

- The Chose Few (John Turbull)

- Ian Drury and the Blockheads (Charley Charles, Micky Gallagher,

  John Turbull and Norman Watt-Roy)

- Frampton's Camel (Micky Gallagher)

- Fuzzy Duck (Norman Watt-Roy)

- Glencoe (John Turbull and Norman Watt-Roy)

- The Greatest Show On Earth (Norman Watt-Roy)

- Heavy Jelly  (Micky Gallagher and John Turbull)

- Ossie Laine Show (Norman Watt-Roy)

- The Living Daylight (Norman Watt-Roy)

- Wilko Johnson Band (Norman Watt-Roy)

- Parrish and Gurvitz (Micky Gallagher)

- The Planets  (Micky Gallagher and John Turbull)

- Skip Bifferty  (Micky Gallagher and John Turbull)

- Solid Senders (Norman Watt-Roy)

- Dave Stewart and the Spiritual Cowboys (John Turbull)

- The Stranglers and Friends (John Turbull)

- Turmbull and Arkwright  (Micky Gallagher and John Turbull)

- Norman Watt-Roy (solo efforts)






Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Loving Awareness

Company: More Love

Catalog: ML001

Country/State: Guyana, India, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; includes the Barry and Yosha poster

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00


This is one of the stranger albums I've come across.  Not the music, which is pleasant mid-'70s English pop, rather the background story on what led to it being recorded.


So first you have to know a little bit about Radio Caroline. In England radio stations are license by the government.  Founded in 1964 by the late Ronan O'Rahilly and Alan Crawford, the concept behind Radio Caroline was to establish a radio station free of the BBC's monopoly on English airways.  Since the could not get a license from the English government the pair created a "pirate station" locating it on a ship floating outside of British jurisdiction in the North Sea.  Over the next twelve years the station went through a wide array of owners, financial issues, programming formats and ships. By the mid- '70s the station was operating off the ship Mi Amigo which was originally built in 1921 as a three masted German cargo ship. The station had also migrated to what was billed as the Loving Awareness format which was best described as a bizarre mixture of FM album play lists, mixed with a philosophy of love and peace - their advertising logo was the inspirational "love and good music - Radio Caroline".  


To promote the radio station's new format, owner O'Rahilly decided to hire a band - The Loving Awareness Band.  Featuring a collection of journeymen English musicians, they started out recording radio station jingles.  By the time the group got around to recording an album the line-up featured drummer Charley Charles, keyboard player Micky Gallagher, singer/guitarist John Turnbull and bassist Norman Watt-Roy.  True journeymen, you can look at the list of bands these guys were affiliated.  By my incomplete count I come up with over 25 bands (before and after Loving Awareness).


1976's "Loving Awareness" was recorded over a two month period in Southern California.  Curiously the liner notes didn't provide any information on where the sessions took place, or who the producer and engineers were.  Released on O'Rahilly's Holland-based More Love label and distributed by Philips.  The album featured fourteen original tracks; all credited to the four band members, though O'Rahilly seems to have been the driving force behind the overarching "peace and love" concept.  You didn't have to do much more than look at song titles such as 'Free Your Soul', 'Inside Voice Of Love ' and 'Let Yourself Go' to get a feel for the concept and doctrine.  Here's a sample of the oh-so-'70s lyrics "Time of right to find one another; There is love in all to discover; Don't you ever wonder what you're really here for ..."  Luckily t couple of things that made this one interesting and distinguish it from the wave of "self-potential" album releases.  First off, the songs were surprisingly good.  As mentioned earlier, for the most part The Beatles comparison seemed inaccurate.  The acoustic ballad 'Inside Voice Of Love' sounded like a subpar George Harrison solo effort.  The ballad 'The Vibes' also featured a Harrison flavor.  In comparison tracks like the opener 'Let Us Get To Know You' and 'Be In Touch' reminded me of '70s funk bands like The Average White Band and Rufus (without Chaka Khan).  Among the best performance were the Curtis Mayfield-styled 'No Other High', the top-40 pop ready 'In a Movie' and the infectious rocker 'Let Yourself Go'. Also interesting was the brazen marketing scheme that accompanied the album.  The original package included a sticker on the album sleeve that read "The Beatles".  It was quickly removed by the record label. The whole effort was cloaked in Beatles mystique, leaving the impression the project included participation from a couple of Beatles - it didn't, though urban legend holds the band rehearsed in Ringo Starr's home and George Harrison produced much of the album - they didn't.  You can check out some of the Beatles' links on the album's inner sleeve.  Radio Caroline played the album (and single) frequently. Nobody else did.  


Here's the inner sleeve which includes photos of the band: left to right: John Turnbull (with his hand raise), Norman Watt-Roy, Charley Charles and Micky Gallagher.  The guy in the back on the telephone is the late Ronan O'Rahilly.  Hard to see, but the whiteboard on the left reflects "The Beatles?" while the bulletin board reflects "White Album" photos of The Beatles with the band member photos beneath them.










The album was originally released with a pair of large posters; one designed by Dutch artists Barry and Yosha Finch.   






For hardcore fans, there were actually two variants of the album - the first version featured black packaging with the second release opting for a white cover. All told, rough 10,000 copies were pressed and sold (mostly to Radio Caroline listeners).


The band actually toured a little in support of the album, opening for the likes of Curved Air.  When the album failed to sell they called it quits. Charles and Watt-Roy joined the eclectic Ian Dury in time to play on his "New Boots and Panties" album.  They were quickly joined by Gallagher and Turnbill and toured with Drury as The Blockheads.





"Loving Awarness" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Let Us Get To Know You  (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: *** stars

Powered by Charles' gritty voice and Turnbull's voice box guitar effects, 'Let Us Get To Know You' opened up with a surprisingly funky performance.  Ah, those good vibrations.  LOL

2.) Free Your Soul (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: *** stars

Charles rugged vocals on 'Free Your Soul' always reminded me of the late Joe Cocker.  Another upbeat, mindless funky tune that reminded me of bands like Babe Ruth and Wild Cherry.

3.) Love You To Know (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: **** stars

My family happened to be living in Belgium when 'Love You To Know' came out.  Like most Americans teenagers living in Europe at the time I spent way too much time listening to top-40 pop on The Armed Forces Network.  (And though I loved AFN, thank you Mark for convincing me there was more to my listening life than AFN.)  The song was a reworked version of a Skip Biffery's 'Guru'. Anyhow, I can remember hearing this tune on Radio Caroline quite often. It ditched the origina;'s percussion-heavy, acid soaked arrangement for a pop tune arrangement that was bouncy, melodic and slightly lysergic, though when folks describe it as Beatles-esque I just didn't get it.  It would have been a great song except for one thing - the irritating drum track. The track was also released as a Dutch single:




- 1976's 'Love You To Know' b/w 'I Like What I Like' (More Love catalog number 6198 087)










4.) No Other High (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: **** stars

'No Other High' sounded like the band had overdosed on Curtis Mayfield.  Sporting a great Mayfield-styled funky vibe complete with Gallagher's cheesy mini-Moog (?) , Watt-Roy's melodic bass and Turnbill's frilly guitar, it was a great track and would have made a better single than 'Love You To Know'. 

5.) It's Allah's Movie (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: *** stars

Exhibiting a reggae rhythm and Charles' accented vocals, 'It's Allah's Movie' has always reminded me a bit of 10cc taking on the niche.  If you were going to listen to reggae, I'm not sure why you'd want to hear this one?

6.) The Vibes (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: **** stars

Powered by some mesmerizing Watt-Roy bass and Turnbull's acid effects guitar, 'The Vibes' was a smooth, slinky and enjoyable ballad with tremendous commercial potential. The lyrics were at least funny: "I touched your body, you touched by psyche".   I've always been puzzled by who handled the lead vocals.  Their fragile falsetto reminded me a little of George Harrison.

7.) Inside Voice Of Love (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: *** stars

The pretty acoustic ballad, 'Inside Voice of Love' was the first track to push the "loving awareness" philosophy.  Along with the slide guitar, to my ears it sounded like a subpar George Harrison tune.



(side 2)
1.) Be In Touch (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) -   rating: *** stars

'Be In Touch' marked a return to Average White Band-styled funk.  Pleasant, but it wasn't going to change your life.

2.) Close the Gate (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: **** stars

A conventional and commercial rocker, 'Close the Gate' had nice Turnbull and Charles  vocals, a strong melody, nice refrain, tasty slide guitar solo and the lyrics weren't too in-your-face.

3.) Like What I Like (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: *** stars

A couple of reviews compare the acoustic ballad 'Like What I Like' with a John Lennon performance. I don't hear it.

4.) Jarold (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) -  rating: ** stars

I'm not sure where the line of demarcation is between funk and disco, but based on Watt-Roy's bass line, I think 'Jarold' crossed over into disco. The lyrics "why you always got to refuse to wipe the shit from your shows" guaranteed no radio station was going to touch the song.

5.) Let Yourself Go (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: **** stars

The album's standout performance, 'Let Yourself Go' has an infectious rhythm and catchy melody with Charles turning in his most energetic performance.  This is the track that should have been released as one of the singles.

6.) In a Movie (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: **** stars 

The album's most conventional pop tune, the bouncy 'In a Movie' was a perfect song for mid-'70s English pop charts. 

7.) Existence (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - rating: *** stars

Almost a suite, 'Existence" stitched together a series of different melodies, including a reggae section with nods to some of their earlier themes and a heavy emphasis on the LA concept.  Turnbull's lead guitar and electric sitar was nice.



The album's been reissued a couple of times.  In 1992 the Dutch Stichting Media Communicatie label released it on CD (catalog number S.M.C. 920701).   In 2005 the SMC released a 30th anniversary version of the album which included a series of five "new age-ish" instrumentals and a Radio Caroline promotional jingle (SMC catalog number SMC-05001).


1.) Ronan O'Rahilly (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - 0:52

2.) Love To Know You (instrumental) (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) - 3:06

3.) No Other High (instrumental) (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) -  5:26

4.) Close The Gate (instrumental) (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) -  4:09

5.) Existance (instrumental) (Charley Charles - Micky Gallagher - John Turnbull - Norman Watt-Roy) -  4:15

6.) Radio Caroline Jingles 1:54