Plastic Penny

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Mike Grabham -- lead guitar

- Brian Keith -- vocals

- Tony Murray -- bass

- Nigel Olsson -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Paul Raymond -- vocals, keyboards




- Chicken Shack (Paul Raymond)

Cochise (MIck Grahham)

- Mick Grabham (solo effort)

- Nigel Olsson (solo efforts)

- Procol Harum (Mick Grabham)

- Savoy Brown (Paul Raymond)

- Spencer Davis Group (Nigel Olsson)

- The Troggs (Tony Murray)

- The Universals (Mick Grahham and Nigel Olsson




Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Two Sides of a Penny

Company: Page One

Catalog: POLS 005

Year: 1968

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4204

Price: $150.00

Cost: $86.70


I stumbled across this LP at a yard sale and bought it based on a combination of  the unique cover and the fact I recognized most of the band line up (guitarist Mike Graham, singer  Brian Keith, bassist Tony Murray, drummer Nigel Olsson and keyboard player Paul Raymond).  So what do these guys sound like?  


Want a two word review?  Procol Harum ...  Seriously, the first time I played 1968's "Two Sides of a Penny" it repeatedly reminded me of Procol. To my simplistic ears the comparison was spawned by Raymond's organ (which recalled Gary Brooker), Graham's thick distorted guitar which recalled Robin Trower and Keith's vocals which occasionally bore a resemblance to Gary Brooker (check out 'It's a Good Thing').  Produced by Larry Page (by coincidence the band happened to be signed to Page's Page One label), the album's actually surprisingly impressive.  Making it clear the Procol Harum comparison isn't meant as a criticism, Keith and Raymond both had likeable voices that were well suited to the band's mix of pop (Take Me Back), lite-psych (the bizarre 'Mrs. Grundy') and rock moves ('I Want You'). Full of nice melodies, interesting instrumentation (Graham's guitar was a standout) and great harmonies, the only real artistic missteps were needless and largely rote covers of The Association's 'Never My Love' and The Beatles 'Strawberry Fields Forever'.  Sure, they did a nice job on the covers, but what was the point? 


"Two Sides of a Penny" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Everything I Am   () - 

2.) Wake Me Up   () - 

3.) Never My Love   () - 

4.) Geneviene   () - 

5.) No Pleasure Without Pain My Love   () - 

6.) So Much Older Now   () - 


(side 2)
1.) Mrs. Grundy   () - 

2.) Take Me Back   () - 

3.) I Want You   () - 

4.) It's a Good Thing   () - 

5.) Strawberry Fields Forever   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 

In spite of the fact the sweet ballad 'Everything I Am' b/w 'No Pleasure without Pain My Love' (Page One catalog number POF 051), provided the band with a top-10 UK hit, the parent LP proved stillborn and is now fairly rare.  I've only seen two copies in 25 years. Maybe not the most original item in our catalog, but a worthy addition to anyone collecting UK psych/60s rock ...









Plastic Penny

Band formed around summer 1967. In fact, the first recording by Plastic Penny was Brian Keith on vocals plus sessionmen, but due to success, he hurried to form a real band:

Chris Lamb & The Universals
Chris Lamb & The Universals
Chris Lamb & The Universals
Chris Lamb & The Universals
Chris Lamb & The Universals
Brian Keith
Mick Grabham
Tony Murray
Paul Raymond
Nigel Olsson

And after some singles, vocalist Brian Keith left them.

Plastic Penny

Now, Plastic Penny was a quartet:

Mick Grabham
Tony Murray
Paul Raymond
Nigel Olsson

They released their first album, Two sides of a Penny, but split around mid 1969, before the release of their second album, Currency. They also have a collection of unreleased tracks called Heads you win, tails you lose.


In reality, we only ever had one hit, which was called Everything I Am. I particularly liked the last few singles we made. But they went nowhere, and so we decided to knock it on the head. People just left the group one by one, and suddenly there were only Nigel and me left. I went along with him one day when he was going out to play with some people who were looking for a drummer. They were bass player Freddie Gandy and singer Stewart A Brown, who had both been in Bluesology along with Elton John, and the now-legendary BJ Cole was there on pedal steel guitar. I wasn't really aware that such an instrument even existed at that point, and the sound of it was just totally overwhelming.

That exact combination didn't happen as a group, but in the meantime some promoter had got in touch with me to do some Plastic Penny gigs in Germany. So I thought, 'Why not?' After all, both Nigel and I were still there. We got a couple of the people I've just mentioned, Freddie Gandy and Stewart A Brown, to join us in fact; some of the time we were billed as The Easybeats! You know what these promoters can be like.

After that, Nigel joined The Spencer Davis Group. I got a band together with BJ Cole, Stewart A Brown and drummer Willie Wilson, who later became a member of quiver. Our bass player was Rick Wills. He went on to play with Peter Frampton, Roxy Music, Bad Company, and Foreigner. That line-up became Cochise, who existed for the next couple of years. Some people saw us as a country rock band, but we only were to a certain extent. I mean, we utilised the pedal steel guitar, but there were a lot of other influences as well.