Nigel Olsson

Band members                             Related acts

- B.J. Cole -- pedal steel guitar, dobro

- Mick Grabham -- lead guitar, percussion

- Kathi McDonald (RIP 2012) -- vocals

- Dee Murray -- bass

- Nigel Olsson -- drums, percussion

- Caleb Quayle -- lead guitar, keyboards




- Argosy (Nigel Olsson)

- Bandit (Mick Grabham)

- Cochise (B.J. Cole and Mick Grabham)

- B.J. Cole (solo efforts)

- Spencer Davis Group

- Deke Leonard

- Mick Grabham (solo efforts)

- Guitar Orchestra (Mick Grabham)

- Kathi McDonald (solo efforts)

- Musicians Union Band

- Plastic Penny (Mick Grabham and Nigel Olsson)

- Procol Harum (Mick Grabham)

- Caleb Quayle (solo efforts)

- The Universals (Mick Grahham and Nigel Olsson)

- Uriah Heep (Nigel Olsson)

- Warpipes





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Nigel Olsson's Drum Orchestra and Chorus

Company: Uni

Catalog: 73113

Country/State: Wallsey, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small promo sticker on back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 201

Price: $15.00


I guess Nigel Olsson's best know for his work with Elton John (the two had recorded a one shot single as members of the band Argosy), but over the years he's played in a score of bands including Plastic Penny and even a stint with Uriah Heep.


Speculation on my part, but I'm guessing the attention Olsson enjoyed as a member of Elton John's early-'70s touring band helped him score a contract with DJM Records (Uni in the States) (which also happened to be John's label at the time).  Billed as Nigel Olsson's Drum Orchestra and Chorus, the band featured an impressive roster including Elton John Band members Dee Murray (bass) and Caleb Quayle (guitar), along with pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole, vocalist Kathy McDonald, and former Plastic Penny guitarist Mick Grabham.  Produced by Olsson, 1971's "Nigel Olsson's Drum Orchestra and Chorus" showcased Olsson's likeable, but slightly anonymous voice on a fairly conventional pop album.  With Olsson co-writing the bulk of the ten tracks with Grabham and Quayle, there wasn't anything particularly bad here - in fact, taken individually most of these songs were enjoyable and even commercial.  The downside was that with the exception of 'Some Sweet Day' which sounded like an Elton John outtake' nothing here really jumped out at you.   The album also featured two songs spotlighting the late Kathi McDonald on lead vocals ('Hummingbird' and 'I Can't Go Home Again').  McDonald was certainly a talented singer, but on these two tracks she seemed determined to showcase her Janis Joplin influences, resulting in two of the album's least enjoyable performances.


- Opening up with a nice guitar and keyboard melody, the mid-tempo ballad actually sounded a bit like an early Elton John number, though with a more conventional melody and a killer title track chorus that would have made the song a dandy choice as a single.    rating: *** stars

- 'I'm Coning Home' was an odd effort that mixed the main melody from 'Come All Ye Faithful' with a catchy pop melody.       rating: *** stars

- Kudos to Olsson for covering Spirit's 'Nature's Way', though his take on the song stuck pretty close to the original arrangement.  B.J. Cole turned in some tasty dobro licks throughout.   Uni tapped the song as the debut single.     rating: *** stars

- One of the two tracks featuring McDonald on lead vocals, 'Hummingbird' found the band dipping their toes into blues-rock.  Mind you I have nothing against blues-rock, but McDonald's shameless attempt to channel Janis Joplin simply left me with a headache.  It wouldn't have been bad except for the fact McDonald's performance focused on Joplin's worst attributes - sharp, shrill, and thoroughly irritating.  The only thing that saved the tune was the unexpected ending which ditched McDonald in favor of an extended instrumental segment  ...   I've always been a sucker for a pretty 12 string melody so tclosing segment had me from the get-go.   rating: *** stars

- With a vaguely western feel, the bouncy 'Some Sweet Day' sounded like it had been stolen from Elton John's "Tumbleweed Connection".   Not particularly original, but nevertheless one of the album's highlights, which probably explains why it was tapped as the second single.   rating: **** stars

- There was audience applause at the start, during a solo, and at the end, but somehow 'I Can't Go Home Again' didn't sound like a live performance ...  The second Kathi McDonald spotlight, this one wasn't as painful as the first effort, but still left something to be desired; especially when McDonald tried to toughen up the song by stretching her voice.  The big problem here was simply that the first half of the song wasn't very good, though the close-out jam section actually generated some steam.    rating: *** stars

- 'And I Know in My Heart' was another nice pop number that actually sounded a bit like an update of the Plastic Penny sound.   Lots of nice jangle guitar on this one and the one song that served to showcase how good Olsson's voice could be.   rating: **** stars

- With a country-rock edge, 'We've Got a Long Way to Go' was another Elton John clone.  A good clone, but still imitative.  rating: *** stars

- A strange, slightly progressively-tinged instrumental, 'Wierdhouse' was every bit as odd as the title.   'course I liked it.   rating: *** stars

- Penned by guitarist Grabham (who also used the song to turn in the album's best guitar solo), 'China' sounded like a mid-'70s Al Stewart number.   Think along the lines of 'Year of the Cat'.  Since I like Al Stewart, I thought this closer was pretty good.  rating: **** stars


As mentioned, the album spun off a pair of singles:

   UK issue:

- 1971's 'Nature's Way' b/w G.T. Over'' (Uni catalog number )


   US issue:

- 1971's 'Some Sweet Day' b/w 'Weirdhouse' (Uni catalog number 55291)


So this is one of those album's that's thoroughly pleasant and like a quick walk through a park, likely to be something that you won't clearly remember a couple of hours later.


"Nigel Olsson's Drum Orchestra and Chorus" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sunshine Looks Like Rain   (Nigel Olsson - Mick Grabham - Caleb Quayle) - 2:30
2.) I'm Coming Home
   (Nigel Olsson - Mick Grabham - Caleb Quayle) - 3:57   
3.) Nature's Way   (Randy California) - 3:15
4.) Hummingbird   (Leon Russell) - 6:24
5.) Some Sweet Day   (Nigel Olsson - Mick Grabham - Caleb Quayle) - 4:17


(side 2)
I Can't Go Home Again   (Gary Wright - K. Uppstrom) - 7:10
2.) And I Know in My Heart
   (Nigel Olsson - Mick Grabham - Caleb Quayle) - 2:32
3.) We've Got a Long Way to Go  (R. Nelson) - 4:25
4.) Wierdhouse
   (Nigel Olsson) - 2:08
5.) China   (Mick Grabham) - 3:09