Brian Protheroe


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- Brian Protheroe -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

 

  supporting musicians: (1976)

- Ian Anderson -- flute 

- Barriemore Barlow -- percussion 

- Terry Coe -- clarinet 

- Barry DeSouza -- drums, percussion

- Stephanie de Sykes -- backing vocals

- Lance D’Owen -- guitar 

-  Mike Giles -- drums, percussion
- Paul Hart -- bass 

- Bobby Haughey -- trumpet 

- David Horley -- trombone

- Alan Jones -- bass 

- Keith Manzell -- backing vocals

- Neil McArthur -- piano 

- Brian Odgers -- bass 

- Alan Parker -- guitar 

- Stan Satzman -- sax 

- Roger Truth -- drums, percussion

 

 

 

- Folk-Blues Incorporated

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  I/You

Company: Chrysalis

Catalog: CHR 1108
Year:
 1976

Country/State: Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00

 

He's completely unknown in the States, but in his native England Brian Protheroe has enjoyed a lengthy career as an actor and starting in the mid-'70s as a pop star.  

 

His musical career started while in his teens where he learned how to play keyboards and guitar.  In between acting in amateur local theatre groups he joined Roger Hicks and Bill Thacker in Folk Blues Incorporated.  In 1965 the trio relocated to London where they started playing local folk clubs.  Their efforts resulted in a recording contract with the small London-based Eyemark label, releasing an obscure single:

- 1966's 'When the Ship Comes In' b/w 'Don't Hide' (Earmark catalog number EMS 1006)

 

When Folk Blues Incorporated collapsed Protheroe turned his attention back to acting.  He was a regular in various small theatre companies, but by the late-'60s started to gain television exposure in series like "Frontier" and "The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes."  His big breakthrough came in 1973 when he won a role in the play "Death On Demand."  Cast as a pop star, one of his songs was set to music and eventually caught the attention of Chrysalis Records.  After hearing some more of his material, Chrysalis signed him to a recording contract.

 

Released in 1976, "I/You" was Protheroe's third album for Chrysalis.  Produced by Del Newman, the album featured largely original material; two tracks co-written by Martin Duncan and 'Under the Greenwood Tree' carrying a co-writing credit from one WIlliam Shakespeare.  The lone cover was a competent, but unnecessary cover of Little Richard's 'Lucille.' Judging by these tunes Protheroe had a great voice; strong, versatile and very commercial.  His songwriting reflected the same characteristics, though he had a thing for unusual melodies and unexpected time changes.  Very 10cc-ish.  Also be aware these songs weren't your usual "moon in June" odes to love and heartbreak.  Exemplified by the title track, 'Every Roman Knows', 'Evil Eye' and particularly 'Dancing on Black Ice' the lyrics were intriguing, but in many cases the themes were just too English for American audiences to readily grasp.  I'm clueless on about half of the songs.  It's certainly one of those album's that's fun to play spot-the-influence with.  My ears hear everything from The Alan Parsons Project, to Supertramp, Al Stewart storytelling and even early Paul McCartney and Wings.  Personal favorites included the slinky 'Hotel', the Fairport Convention-styled folk tune 'Under the Greenwood Tree' and the WTF 'Dancing on Black Ice.'  Great album with the added bonus that it's unknown in the States and you can still find cheap copies.

 

"I/You" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I/You (Martin Duncan - Brian Protheroe) - 5:42  rating: *** stars

The title track was an odd melange of song fragments seemingly stitched haphazardly together. To my ears 'I/You' sounded like an aural collision between Wings-era Paul McCartney and 10cc with guest appearances from Billy Joel, Rupert Holmes and Queen.  The individual segments were all quite catchy and commercial, but the constant changes in direction quickly started to sound old.

2.) Every Roman Knows (Brian Protheroe) - 3:28)  rating: *** stars

Shifting into a Music Hall vibe, the bouncy, keyboard powered 'Every Roman Knows' has always reminded me of Supertramp colliding with Billy Joel. Showcasing Prothereo's multi-tracked vocals, the song was cute and quite radio-friendly in a mid-'70s fashion.  Darn if his vocals didn't recall Supertramp's Rick Davies.

3.) Evil Eye (Martin Duncan - Brian Protheroe) - 4:57  rating: *** stars

The stark opening (just Protheroe and electric piano) and interesting lyrics recalled something off an Alan Parson Project album.  When the tune shifted to the main melody it moved into Pilot top-40 territory before bouncing back and forth across the different sections.  Alan Parker provided the blazing guitar solo.  Extra star for being such a weird tune.

4.) Under the Greenwood Tree (William Shakespeare - Brian Protheroe) - 2:26  rating: **** stars

Showcasing Ian Anderson on flute and shared lead vocals, the acoustic 'Under the Greenwood Tree' sounded like a Fairport Convention outtake, or perhaps Jethro Tull at their folkies.  Tull percussionist Barriemore Barlow was also featured on the track..  Darn if Protheroe and Anderson's voices didn't blend well together.   I have to admit it sounded like nothing else on the collection, but was one of the set's hidden treasures.

5.) Dancing on Black Ice (Martin Duncan - Brian Protheroe) - 4:05  rating: **** stars

Geez, an English major could probably pull a thesis out of the intriguing 'Dancing on Black Ice.'  Even though I've read the lyrics a dozen times "O Samarcand, Mark Anthony, Darkened phantom (hand to knee) Sand my candy-man to me Dancing on black ice.", this is one of those tunes that leaves me scratching my head.  I'm guessing someone out there has a clue.  Enlighten me.  Recorded at The Troubadour, YouTube has a January 2012 performance of the song.  Gawd only know how Protheroe remembered the lyrics: Dancing on Black Ice - Brian Protheroe - YouTube

 

(side 2)
1.)
Battling Annie (Brian Protheroe) - 6:36  rating: *** stars

Opening up with a "circus" melody, 'Battling Annie' was a perfect example of Protheroe's interest in stitching together time and melodic changes.  It also displayed his knack for cramming a novella worth of lyrics into his songs.  Stephanie de Sykes featured on Annie/backing vocals.  Imagine a rock opera condensed into six and a half minutes ...  Another one that's lost on my American ears.  

2.) Never Join the Fire Brigade (Brian Protheroe) - 3:00  rating: *** stars

Pulling out his best Cockney accent, the bouncy, goofy, 'Never Join the Fire Brigade' sounded like something Roy Wood and the Move might have written for a Monty Python skit.  Very English performance.  Here's another January 2012 Troubadour performance: Never Join The Fire Brigade - YouTube

3.) Hotel (Brian Protheroe) - 3:26   rating: **** stars

Loved the slinky guitar opening, Protheroe's treated vocals, and the seeming spur-of-the moment lyrics.  Hard to explain how cool they were - imagine Pilot writing a song at the RItz while stoned out of their collective minds.  .  

4.) Lucille (Richard Penniman) - 3:05  rating: ** stars

The first true misstep, 'Lucille' was a decent cover of the Little Richard classic, but hardly something you needed to hear.

5.) The Face and I (Brian Protheroe) - 5:16  rating: *** stars

Back to Protheroe and piano, the soulful ballad 'The Face and I' had obtuse lyrics that would have made Bernie Taupin proud and would not have sounded out of place on a mid-career Elton John album.  Elsewhere the song found Alan Parker turning in his prettiest guitar solo.

 

 

 

 

 

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