The National Head Band

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970) as The Business

- Neil Ford -- vocals, guitar, synthesizers

- David Paull - vocals, bass, guitar, synthesizers

- Jim Schelhaas -- keyboards, synthesizers, vocals

- John Skorsky -- drums, percussion


  line up 1 (1970-71) as The National Head Band

- Neil Ford -- vocals, guitar, synthesizers

NEW - Lee Kerslake (RIP 2020) -- drums, percussion, synthesizers,


- David Paull - vocals, bass, guitar, synthesizers

NEW - Jim Payne -- drums, percussion (replaced John Skorsky)

- Jim Schelhaas -- keyboards, synthesizers, harmonium, vocals




- Berggen Kerslake Band (Jim Kerslake)

- Bernie and the Buzz Band (Jim Schelhaas)

- Blizzard of Ozz (Lee Kerslake)

- Camel (Jim Schelhaas)

- Caravan (Jim Schelhaas)

- The Gods (Lee Kerslake)

- Head Machine (Lee Kerslake)

- Jonesy (David Paull and Jim Payne)

- Lee Kerslake (solo efforts)

- Living Loud (Lee Kerslake)

- Gary Moore Band (Jim Schelhaas)

- Jim Schelhaas (solo efforts)

- Toe Fat (Lee Kerslake)

- Uriah Heep (Lee Kerslake)





Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Albert 1

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog:  K 46894

Country/State: Liverpool, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: embossed cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00

As someone who attended high school in the mi-'70s (class of '77), there's something that makes me smile whenever I see this band name ...


Singer/guitarist Neil Ford, singer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Paull, keyboardist Jan Schelhaas, and drummer John Skorsky started their musical collaborationn under the name The Business.  Supporting the Liverpool-based comedy group The Scaffold saw them start to attract some regional attention.  Supporting Liverpool Scene front man Mike Hart on his 1969 debut album "Mike Hart Bleeds" attracted more attention and eventually saw Warner Brothers knocking at their door.  The record label signed them to a recording contract that included a requirement for the band to add a second drummer to the line-up.  Former Gods and Toe Fat drummer Lee Kerslake was promptly recruited.  Ironically, original drummer Skorsky subsequently quit, leaving the band back where they started, recording their debut with one drummer.  The label also demanded a name change - hence the switch to "The National Head Band."  Yes, I'm guessing it was a decision that ensured commercial radio would never come near the band.


Teamed with ELP and Yes-producer Eddie Offord, 1971's "Albert 1" is a weird collection.  I'll admit I really like the album, but it's one of those releases where the sum total is more than the nine individual songs.  That's not to say there aren't some strong compositions.  The opener 'Got No Time' was taunt, keyboard powered rocker.  'Ilsington Farm' was worth hearing for Schelhaas' harmonium work, and 'Try To Reach You' was a country-rocker for people who don't like country-rock.  It's hard to articulate my criticisms of the band, but it may have something to do with the fact they never seemed to show their true selves.  Each member appeared to have a different musical niche that they trotted out with the rest of the band serving as back-ups.  Kind of a Beatles "White Album" feeling.  Judging by their compositions, Ford and Kerslake where the band's rock proponents.  Paull seemed to embrace country and folk influences, while Schelhaas was responsible for the album's more experimental and progressive leanings.  In spite of those differences, all four were decent singers and capable of penning catchy and commercial material,  Their harmonizing was first rate.  Check out the performance on 'Too Much Country Water.'   With the right support, they could have been stars.  (Always liked Ginny Gillam's Victorian-influenced cover art.)


Unfortunately what came next was like something from the film Spinal Tap.  Warner Brothers pushed the band out on a number of support tours.  While exposure for a new band is a good thing, having them open for mismatched acts; in this case groups as unsuited as George Clinton and Funkadelic (a May 1971 performance at London's Dagenham Roundhouse), blues-master Alexis Korner, The Pink Fairies, or hardcore progressive bands like Curved Air and Quintessence may not have been the best marketing decision the company ever made.  For come reason Warner Brothers never bothered to release a single.  Adding to their problems, pressing flaws (a skip in one of the tracks), plagued the album's release.  The final blow came when drummer Kerslake agreed to join Uriah Heep.  By the end of the year the band had called it quits.


"Albert 1" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Got No Time   (Neil Ford) - 4:00    rating: **** stars

Introducing Ford's nice FM-radio radio voice, 'Got No Time' bounced around between commercial blues-rock and Latin-percussion dominated, Santana influenced.  Schelhaas keyboards kept the song trundling along with a nifty little Ford guitar riff.  He also piled on a tasty little solo at the end of the track.

2.) You   (David Paull) - 3:11    rating: **** stars

'You' introduced a pretty, harmony rich country-rocker.  Unexpected, but quite commercial.  Paull's melodic bass line powered the song and provided the secret sauce.  

3.) Too Much Country Water   (Jim Schelhaas - Lee Kerslake) - 4:20    rating: *** stars

The first disappointment, 'Too Much Country Water' was another country-tinged piece.  The track again showcased the band's nice harmony vocals, but to my ears it was a bit too cutesy.  Black Oak Arkansas and Wet Willie fans might think more of the tune.

4.) Lead Me Back   (Jim Schelhaas) - 4:06    rating: *** stars

Schelhaas' opening keyboards and Paull's melodic bass reminded me of an early Paul McCartney solo piece.  Unfortunately, the melody never fully appeared.  I will admit to liking the Moog washes and the harmony rich fade-out.

5.) Listen To the Music   (Neil Ford) - 6:47    rating: *** stars

Not to be mistaken with The Doobie Brothers hit, this 'Listen To the Music' was a mid-tempo ballad.  Ford's electric and acoustic guitars provided the highlights.


(side 2)

1.) Ilsington Farm   (Jim Schelhaas) - 2:17  rating: *** stars

Opening up with Schelhaas' intriguing harmonium work, 'Ilsington Farm' offered up a catchy slice of sweet, hippy, country-rock.  Imagine a group like Brewer and Shipley had they been born and raised in Liverpool.   One of the album highlights.

2.) Try To Reach You   (Lee Ford) -  4:20   rating: *** stars

'Try To Reach You' found the band returning to echoes of Brewer and Shipley-styled country-rock.  Love Ford's strumming acoustic, 12-string and his slide guitar solo is mesmerizing.

3.) Brand New World   (David Paull - Jim Schelhaas) - 6:35   rating: *** stars

Powered by what sounded like Schelhaas' Hammond B3 organ, 'Brand New World' was a pretty ballad that introduced a touch of Americana folk and soul influences into the mix.  

4.) Mister Jesus   (Jim Schelhaas) - 8:40   rating: *** stars

On the opening segment of  'Mister Jesus' the combination of Kerslake's rib shaking drums and Schelhaas's stabbing organ has always reminded me of a Uriah Heep track.  It also made for the album's most progressive effort.  About two minutes in  Ford's soulful vocals kicked in giving the song a Gospel feel and the closing section recalled something for "Abbey Road."