Medicine Head

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-71)

- John Fiddler -- vocals, lead guitar, keyboards, drums

- Peter Hope-Evans -- harmonica, jews harp, mouth-bow 


  line up 2 (1971-72)

- John Fiddler -- vocals, lead guitar, keyboards, drums

- Peter Hope-Evans -- harmonica, jews harp, mouth-bow

- Keith Relf (RIP 1976) -- vocals


  line up 3 (1973-74)

- John Fiddler -- vocals, lead guitar

- George Ford -- vocals, bass

- Peter Hope-Evans -- harmonica, jews harp, mouth-bow

- Roger Saunders -- vocals, lead guitar

- Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion


  supporting musicians (1974)

- John Anderson -- 

- Steve Barnett -- 

- Tony Ashton -- keyboards

- Jim Cregan -- guitar

- Ron Dyke --

- Pat Donaldson --

- Charlie McCracken -- 





- Armageddon (Keith Relf)

- Axis Point (Rob Townshend)

- The Blues Band (Rob Townshend)

- The Blues Club (Peter Hope-Evans)

- Box of Frogs (Keith Relf)

- The British Lions (John Fiddler)

- Cockney Rebel (George Ford)

- The Dance Band ( Peter Hope-Evans)

- Deep End ( Peter Hope-Evans)

- Family (Rob Townshend)

- John Fiddler (solo efforts)

- Holy Smoke (Keith Relf)

- Peter Hope-Evans (solo efforts)

- The Manfreds (Rob Townshend

- Pestrepeller ( Peter Hope-Evans)

- Renaissance (Keith Relf) 

- Together (Keith Relf)

- The Yardbirds (Keith Relf)

- Roy Young Band (George Ford)



Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Thru' a Five

Company: Polydor

Catalog: 2382 272

Country/State: Stafford, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $50.00


It's interesting to see how many interesting, if often obscure, bands the late English DJ John Peel discovered and mentored. Among those entities was the Stafford-based Medicine Head.


By the time the band released their fifth studio album 1974's 'Thru'a Five", Medicine Head's line-up had morphed into a quintet featuring  founding members John Fiddler  (vocals and guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Peter Hope-Evans, accompanied by  bass player George Ford, lead guitarist Roger Saunders, and ex-Family drummer Rob Townsend.  Produced by Tony Ashton, Fiddler was again responsible for the bulk of the eleven tracks.  This time out some of the group's earlier eccentricities were left at the doorstep.  In its place, exemplified by the opener rocker 'Cajun Kick', 'Changing Man' and the leadoff single 'Rising Sun' the full band sound gave them a more commercial and mainstream sound.  At the other end of the spectrum, their infatuation with American blues remained apparent throughout the grooves - check out material like 'Slip and Slide' and 'Epitaph Blues' (sounding like a Canned Heat outtake).  I'm not a big blues fan so those tracks didn't do all that much for me, but the rest of the collection was uniformly interesting with ' In the Palm of Your Hand' and 'Indian Queen' providing a pair of classic FM radio "deep cuts."


In terms the sales the album was a disappointment.  Polydor didn't even bother to release the album in the States.  Even though the singles 'Rising Sun' and 'Slip and Slide' both hit the UK charts, the parent album failed to chart.   By the time 1976's "Two Man Band"  was released, Medicine Head had come full circle, Fiddler and Hope-Evans ending the cycle as a duo.


"Thru' a Five" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Cajun Kick   (John Fiddler) - 3:32  rating: **** stars

As displayed on 'Cajun Kick', I've always loved Roger Saunders's thick, sustained guitar sound.  A funky, bluesy tune that actually captured an authentic flavor (complete with some French lyrics),  it really wasn't a stretch to picture these guys playing in some Shrieveport, Louisiana dive bar.  

2.) Slip and Slide   (John Fiddler) - 3:28   rating: ** stars

Geez, did I put a Slim Harpo album on by mistake?  Actually, Fiddler's spoken word vocals sounded like Lou Reed trying to impersonate a 70 year old black blues artist while he was stoned on cough medicine  Hysterical.  Personally, hearing a bunch of English hippies trying to mimic the blues, just didnlt do much for me.  Why listen to this when you could support the real thing, though it was an interesting choice for a single:

- 1974's 'Slip and Slide' b/w 'Cajun Kick' (Polydor catalog number 2058 436))

3.) Take Two Steps   (John Fiddler) - 4:10  rating: *** stars

The rocker 'Take Two Steps' showcased the band at their most mainstream - kind of a blue-collar Mellencamp vibe going on here.  Always liked the chirpy chorus.

4.) The Seasons and the Sign   (John Fiddler) - 2:01  rating: *** stars

An unexpected ballad, 'The Seasons and the Sign' was one of the prettiest things the band ever recorded.  Just Fiddler accompanied by a sweet piano melody, it was a beautiful  respite from their blues and rock endeavors.

5.) Changin' Man   (John Fiddler) - 3:51   rating: **** stars

Opening up with Townsend's rock steady drumming, Changin' Man' found the band dabbling in folk-rock ...  well, with the addition of 'Peter Hope-Evans' bleating harmonica, folk-rock as Neil Young might interpret it.  Pretty tune.

6.) Epitaph Blues   (John Fiddler - Peter Hope-Evans) - 3:08   rating: ** stars

The album's lone Fiddler-Hope-Evans collaboration, imagine Canned Heat had they been born and raised in the English Midlands.  And just like most Canned Heat material, listing to the blues-rocker 'Epitaph Blues' you were left to wonder why not listed to an original blues artists instead?


(side 2)
1.) Rising Sun
   (John Fiddler) - 4:39   rating: **** stars

Perhaps the most commercial song they ever recorded, 'Rising Sun' was a near perfect summer single.  With a bouncy melody; great  little guitar riff and Fiddler's laid back vocals, it was hard to shake this one out of your head.

- 1973's 'Rising Sun' b/w 'Be My Flyer' (Polydor catalog number PD 15083) 

 YouTube has a clip of Fiddler and Hope-Evans lip-synching the tune for the German "Disco"  television program.  If you were ever curious about Hope-Evans' mouth-bow, here's your chance to see it in action.  Loved to see the audience get into it - they all appeared to be dead in their seats.   Medicine Head - Rising Sun 1973 - YouTube 

2.) White Dove   (John Fiddler) - 3:25  rating: *** stars

The title had me thinking I'd be listening to something along the lines of the It's a Beautiful Day's ballad.  Wrong.  This track offered up a slinky, radio-ready rocker, that showcased the band's affection for interesting sounds.  In this case John Fiddler's lead guitar supported by dollops of Peter Hope-Evans's jews-harp.

3.) In the Palm of Your Hand   (John Fiddler) - 3:13  rating: **** stars

Fiddler certainly had a knack for crafting catchy melodies and it was seldom as apparent as on the breezy 'In the Palm of Your Hand.'   Tony Ashton on keyboards ...

4.) Rain   (John Fiddler) - 4:16  rating: *** stars

Bad Company-styled blues-rock that was kicked along by an extended Hope-Evans harmonica solo.  Pleasant, if unexceptional.

5.) Indian Queen   (John Fiddler) - 4:16  rating: **** stars

The album's hidden treasure, the closer 'Indian Queen' was a wonderful slice of FM rock.  One of those just-waiting-to-happen "deep cuts."  Kudos to Ford for his melodic bass work on this one.