Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969)
- Dave Ambrose -- bass, guitar
- Brian Auger -- vocals, keyboards
- Julie Driscoll (aka Julie Tippetts) -- vocals, acoustic guitar
- Clive Thacker -- drums, percussion
- Brian Auger's Oblivion Express
- Peter B's Looners (Dave Ambrose)
- Jeff Beck Group (Dave Ambrose)
- The Booker T's (Dave Ambrose)
- Greg Boyle (solo efforts)
- Centipede (Julie Tippetts)
- The Dedication Orchestra (Julie Tippetts)
- Doggerel Bank (Gary Boyle)
- Julie Driscoll (solo efforts)
- Roland Kovac New Set (Brian Auger)
- Keith and Julie Tippet (Julie Tippetts)
- Nucleus (Clive Thacker)
- Ovary Lodge (Julie Tippetts)
- RoTTor (Julie Tippetts)
- The Shotgun Express (Dave Ambrose)
- Steampacket (Dave Ambrose, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and
- Voice (Julie Tippetts)
- Stomu Yamashta's East Wind (Greg Boyle)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Country/State: London, England
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; double LP
Catalog ID: --
I bought a copy of "Streetnoise" at a yard sale and it sat on my to-listen-to shelf for about ten years. I had it listed on the BadCatRecords website and one day it sold. It wasn't until that point I even realized this wasn't a band named Streetnoise, rather reflected a release by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity. The Trinity tag apparently reflected the talents of Driscoll, bass player Dave Ambrose, and drummer Clive Thacker.
Selling the album also proved the catalyst for me to sit down and actually listen to the album. Technically their fourth studio set, 1969's Giorgio Gomelsky produced "Streetnoise" was a sprawling sixteen track, double album set. Reflecting a mixture original material and covers, it was an eclectic and at times challenging listen, reflecting a good example of a late-'60s timepiece. As lead singer Driscoll was clearly the group's commercial focus attracting a disproportionate amount of media attention with her powerful voice and "it girl" looks. A gifted singer (though prone to over-singing), pretty much everything she touched was worth hearing, but on tracks like the reflective 'Czechoslovakia' and 'Vauxhall to Lambeth Bridge' she also revealed herself to be a talented writer. Her performance on the topical 'Czechoslovakia' was stunning, as was her take on the traditional ballad 'When I Was Young.' Auger was the group's creative centerpiece and tracks like 'Tropic of Cancer', Ellis Island' and 'Finally Found You Out' demonstrated his first-rate keyboard chops, moving effortlessly between jazz, soul, and pop niches. He was also a surprisingly talented, if overlooked singer. While he only wrote and sang on one song, bassist Dave Ambrose proved the album's biggest surprise. His ballad 'In Search of the Sun' was an album highlight. Certainly diverse, the collection bounced all over the musical spectrum, which made for hits and misses. The full spectrum of musical niches was present including traditional folk, Gospel, jazz, pop, soul, and rock. Among the album's more mainstream offerings was a cover of Richie Haven's 'Indian Rope Man', their cover of 'The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)', the rocker 'Ellis Island' and a cover of the late Laura Nyro's 'Save the Country.' Among the few true missteps was the overly preachy 'A Word About Colour', the Gospel infused 'Take Me To Water.' and a needless cover of The Doors' 'Light My Fire.'
Not one of those albums that immediate strikes a chord, the set's like one of the late Joan Mitchell's abstract piece of art that takes a while to attract your attention and get under your skin, but would end up in a place of honor in your home if you had $10 to $16 million for an original.
"Streetnoise" track listing:
1.) Tropic of Capricorn (Brian Auger) - 5:30 rating: *** stars
Highlighting Auger's keyboards, I can remember being less than overwhelmed by the opening 'Tropic of Cancer.' The track sounded like your standard Auger jazz-rock piece, but when his vocals kicked in the song displayed a surprisingly commercial lilt. Nah, this wasn't any slice of top-40 pop and Auger's electric organ washes remained instantly recognizable, but the song displayed a certain infectious '60s groove. Moreover, it was far more enjoyable than a lot of what was coming down the pipeline. Drummer Clive Thacker also got an opportunity to trot out his dexterity, though the extended solo really wasn't necessary and cost the song a star in my book.
2.) Czechoslovakia (Julie Driscoll) - 6:45 rating: **** stars
Clearly inspired by the Soviet Unions' 1968 decision to crush Alexander Dubceck's Prague Spring, Driscoll's 'Czechoslovakia' was probably the album's creative highpoint. I'm no historian, but the upbeat opening section clearly reflected "The Spring", with the abrupt shift to a darker segment and the abject discordant ending reflecting the end of the dream. Funny thing is that during the mid-'60s my family lived in what was then West Germany, My father worked for the US military and I have a clear memory of him being gone from home during most of August, 1968. I also remember my mother being given a briefing by military authorities on what to do in case of war. Yeah, the '60s were so great ... not.
3.) Take Me to the Water (traditional arranged by - Nina Simone) - 4:00 rating: ** stars
Anyone deciding to cover a Nina Simone tune is either incredibly brave, or foolhardy. Showcasing Driscoll on lead vocals, the Gospel-inspired performance was energetic, but there was something uncomfortable hearing these young British hippies taking on a traditional Gospel number. I guess in today's PC world we'd label it "cultural appropriation" ... Anyhow, I'd suggest foolhardy was the apt description. Not sure why this was the choice for a single:
- 'Take Me To the Water' b/w 'Indian Rope Man' (Marmalade catalog number 598018) YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the song for an appearance on Norwegian television: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity - Take Me To The Water (NRK-TV 1968) - YouTube
4.) A Word About Colour (Julie Driscoll) - 1:35 rating: ** stars
I can't say I particularly like this stark acoustic ballad (just Driscoll accompanying herself on acoustic guitar), but I guess you can't argue with the sentiments since the same issues plague us fifty years down the road.
1.) Light My Fire (John Densmore - Robby Kreiger - Ray Manzarek - Jim Morrison)- 4:30 rating: ** stars
Another one where I wasn't knocked out by their cover, but I'll admit the combination of Driscoll's powerful voice and Auger's supper club Hammond organ gave their adaptation a modestly entertaining '60s vibe. Probably fun listening to this while sitting in your sunken, shag-covered living room. Nice melodic bass from Dave Ambrose. The track was tapped as the debut US single:
- 1969's 'Light My Fire' b/w 'Save the Country' (ATCO catalog number 45-6685)
2.) Indian Rope Man (Richie Havens - Joe Price - Mark Roth) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
Their arrangement of Richie Havens' 'Indian Rope Man' provided the album's most rock-oriented and commercial offering. YouTube has a black and white clip of the band performing the song on BeatClub. It appears to be Driscoll singing live while the band lip-synchs their way through the performance: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity - Indian Rope Man (1969) - YouTube
3.) When I Was Young (traditional - arranged by Julie Driscoll) - 8:00 rating: **** stars
One of the album highlights, on the extended, folk-tinged 'When I Was Young' Driscoll avoided some of her typical vocal excesses, turning in a performance that would have given Sandy Denny and even Nina Simone a run for their money. Even Auger toned it down, turning in a dark, foreboding tale - stay away from those alehouses !!! YouTube has a clip of the band performing the song on German television, where Driscoll indicates they actually found the song on a Nina Simone LP. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger And The Trinity-When I Was Young (German TV 1969) HD - YouTube
4.) The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In) (James Rado - Gerome Ragni - Galt MacDermot) - 3:05 rating: ***** stars
This was the album's biggest surprise. There are so many versions of 'Let the Sunshine In' it's been reduced to little more than a counter-culture commercial jingle. It's one of those songs that's been covered so often, you had to wonder if there was some sort of contractual stipulation requiring every '60s band record a song off the "Hair" soundtrack. My expectations were low. Well it turns out the ubiquitous melody doesn't kick in until the end of the song. Instead, most of 'The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)' stood as one of the album's strongest melodies, Admittedly the mile-a-minute lyrics (including a nod to Timothy Leary), would have made Dylan smile. Still, one of my favorite performances.
- 1969's 'The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)' b/w 'Save the Country' (ATCO catalog number 45-6685)
1.) Ellis Island (instrumental) (Brian Auger) - 4:10 rating; *** stars
Admittedly a lot of Auger's jazzy work doesn't do much for me, but with a strong, chugging melody, 'Ellis Island' was another exception to the rule. Nice introduction to his Hammond B-3 mastery.
2.) In Search of the Sun (Dave Ambrose) - 4:25 rating: **** stars
Bassist Dave Ambrose's lone contribution to the album's writing chores, 'In Search of the Sun' offered up a strong ballad. Featuring Ambrose on lead vocals, the song had the distinction of sporting the album's prettiest melody. The album's hidden gem ...
3.) Finally Found You Out (instrumental) (Brian Auger) - 4:35 rating; *** stars
The instrumental 'Finally Found You Out' found Auger trotting out his soul-jazz influences; kind of a Young-Holt Trio vibe going in here.
4.) Looking in the Eye of the World (Brian Auger) - 5:10 rating; *** stars
Featuring Auger on vocals and piano, the stark ballad 'Looking in the Eye of the World' has always struck me as being a little too cocktail jazzy for their own good.
1.) Vauxhall to Lambeth Bridge (Julie Driscoll) - 6:20 rating: **** stars
Driscoll accompanied by acoustic guitar, 'Vauxhall to Lambeth Bridge' isn't the kind of song that would normally do much for me, but Driscoll's dark and disturbing delivery is striking. Always wondered if it was a reflection of someone thinking about suicide.
2.) All Blues (Miles David - Oscar Brown)- 5:40 rating: **** star
readily admit Driscoll's gravelly vocals unexpectedly added a nice edge to
the Miles Davis' classic 'All Blues.' Nice version of the tune.
Well, at least they picked one of the lesser known tracks off the "Hair" soundtrack. Interestingly Nina Simone had also previously recorded the song (under the title 'Ain't Got No ... I've Got Life.' While Driscoll's version is good, it doesn't come close to Simone's take.
4.) Save the Country (Laura Nyro) - 4:00 rating; *** stars
A sweet ballad that showcased Driscoll's pure tones, this was another excellent performance that only wilted when you compared it to the bouncy Laura Nyro original.
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