Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jackson Heights - King Progress (1970 uk, exceptional progressive rock, DigiPack edition)

 When Keith Emerson disbanded The Nice, Lee Jackson decided to hang up his bass guitar and go back to 'simpler' music. With this in mind he gathered together some musicians he had known for a number of years: Charlie Harcourt, Tommy Sloane and Mario Tapia. The result being the first Jackson Heights album King Progress, on which Jackson sang and played acoustic guitar.

The standout tracks are 'Mr Screw' and a reworking of the old Nice song 'The Cry of Eugene'. It did not sell in any great numbers. The band started to drift apart and Jackson's next recruitment began. Joining him were John McBurnie and Brian Chatton, both multi-instrumentalists. He did not, however, recruit a drummer.

The band was now a trio with Jackson playing bass, sounds familiar! McBurnie took over the majority of the writing with all three sharing the vocals and a second Album The Fifth Avenue Bus, was recorded with Mike Giles on drums. At this stage the band was touring as a trio, without a drummer. There are no outstanding tracks on the album and once again there was a lack of commercial success.

Undaunted, writing and recording of the next album, with Brian Chatton now contributing to the song writing, began. The resulting album Ragamuffins Fool, was easily their best so far. There was almost a hit single with 'Maureen' and the overall sound was of a band confident in what they were doing. Again most of the drumming was done by Mike Giles. They toured, again without a drummer, and recorded their only Radio One Session in support of the album. It what was becoming inevitable it did not sell.

By now Lee Jackson was getting a bit downhearted and poorer, he was using his own money to keep the band solvent. The master plan was the dreaded 'Concept Album'. The theme was to be about the lives of the 'ladies' who worked in Burlesque theatre. It didn't quite work out that way but, armed with two drummers, Mike Giles and Ian Wallace, and a 20 piece orchestra they went into the studio and recorded Bump 'n' Grind. The publicity machine went into overdrive and the actual record was presented in a deluxe laminated sleeve. Even the record company wanted this one to be big! Guess what? that's right - it bombed.

A major problem in touring with the album was reproducing the orchestral sound. Jackson approached Patrick Moraz, Swiss keyboard wizard with a view to him touring with the band. He declined but suggested Jackson might consider forming a band with him. Moraz had the record deal and other finances in place. In view of his own 'money problems' Jackson agreed and with Moraz and ex Nice drummer Brian 'Blinkey' Davison formed Refugee.
by Jim Sutherland
1. Mr. Screw - 3:21
2. Since I Last Saw You - 7:03
3. Sunshine Freak - 4:52
4. King Progress - 3:30
5. Doubting Thomas - 4:16
6. Insomnia - 5:03
7. The Cry Of Eugene (Keith Emerson, Lee Jackson, David O'List) - 7:54
All songs written by Lee Jackson and Charlie Harcourt except noted.

Jackson Heights
*Charlie Harcourt – Electric, Spanish Guitars, Harpsichord, Mellotron, Organ, Piano,  Vocals
*Lee Jackson – 6, 12 String Acoustic Guitars, Harmonica, Lead Vocals
*Tommy Slone - Drums, Congas, Triangle, Timpani, Abdominal Percussion On Track 5
*Mario Enrique Covarrubias Tapia - Bass Guitar, Spanish Guitar, Background Vocals

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  1. Really amazing album.Many thanks..

  2. Jackson Heights (named for the area of New York) were formed by bassist Lee Jackson after the demise of The Nice, with the remit of making music as unlike The Nice as possible. As a result, King Progress is largely acoustic, although the occasional burst of electricity seeps through. From over three decades' distance, I'm afraid it all sounds a bit insipid, although I'm sure it made more sense in those post-hippy days. Musically they were more pop-orientated than The Nice, but they built up a good live reputation through relentless touring. Their first album, released in 1970 on Charisma (CAS 1018) UK 1st Pressing on the Pink Charisma label! it is one of the rarest LP on the Pink Charisma label...virtually impossible to find!

    Album contains 7 tracks for a little less than 36 minutes. The style has nothing to do with the trio of Emerson (despite a cover of The Cry Of Eugene who appeared on The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack) and if the harsh voice of Jackson is instantly recognizable music is more of Rock one more classic whose main originality is to be built on mostly acoustic textures. In addition to acoustic guitar, Lee also plays the harmonica and it is clear that the Folk Blues through ballads and up-tempo Rock inspired (the excellent Mr. Screw), bassist converted wanted s 'as far as possible away from the baroque universe of Emerson. With its simple arrangements and atmospheres hippisantes the Jefferson Airplane voice more "natural" Lee remains a very limited singer, King Progress appears as a disk unsophisticated, rustic and relaxing, a thousand leagues from his Progressive Rock As augur. The album did not sound great at the time and if he passed a few copies among fans, this was mainly due to the double cover of Hypgnosis attractive, Jackson's name associated with The Nice and a certain guarantee of quality offered by the famous independent label Tony Stratton Smith (VDG, Genesis, Atomic Rooster, Peter Hammill ...) that still dropped the group after its accounts. Lee recruited new musicians, including ex-King Crimson drummer Mike Giles, and went to Vertigo for over three discs (The Fifth Avenue Bus and Tool Ragamuffins in 1972, Bump'n'Grind in 1973) before s associate with keyboardist Patrick Moraz and former drummer of Nice, Brian Davison for Refugee base. Today, the King Progress LP is a collector and even in its compact Repertoire reissue seems missing.

    Thx Marios.

  3. Lee Jackson has definitely not the most beautiful voice of the rock scene, but it fitted well in The Nice. I never really gave this album a good listen, so thank you very much Marios for this share!

  4. Thanks, been all day looking for this album!

  5. I bought this vinyl when it came out. It remains one of my favorites because of its unique songs great engineering & production. But then thats me!