Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rock Workshop - Rock Workshop (1970 uk, exciting jazz blues prog rock, 2002 bonus tracks remaster)

Formed in 1970, this fluid but short-lived jazz rock group formed by Ray Russell (guitar) and featured several of the UK’s leading young jazz musicians, and originally included Harry Beckett (trumpet/flugelhorn), Bob Downes (saxophone), Bud Parkes (trumpet) and Tony Roberts (trumpet/woodwind), Derek Wadsworth (trombone) Alan Greed (vocals) and Brian Miller (keyboards), Daryl Runswick (bass), Alan Rushton and Robin Jones (drums).

Several were involved in other, simultaneous projects, notably solo albums by Downes and Russell and session appearances for albums at that time by Jack Bruce, Keef Hartley and Harvey. Wadsworth and Parkes appeared on the latter’s solo album, Roman Wall Blues, and Harvey who appears on just four of the eight songs on its debut album, but the presence of both a couple of subsequently familiar songs and a vocal workout to rival anything on Framed or Next establish them among his finest performances.

A savage rearrangement of the traditional "Wade in the Water" and his own (with fellow Workshop-per Ray Russell) "Hole in Her Stocking" are both bruising R&B stampers, punctured by howling horns and a guitar riff, in the first-named case, that could have escaped from "Walk Don't Run," Blood, Sweat & Tears-style. Harvey himself is in breathtaking form, utterly undistinguishable from the showman who brought listeners "Vambo," and the only regret is that he is confined to just the four songs -- the remainder of Rock Workshop, while certainly a blistering blur of hot and sweaty jazz-soul-boogie, also sinks into anonymity by comparison, just another white English fusion band honking and stomping around the room. Indeed, there are moments when the sound effects that open and link the songs are more interesting than the songs themselves.

Nevertheless, Rock Workshop remains a key passage in Alex Harvey's career, all the more so in its 2002 CD incarnation, where the original LP is appended by half a dozen bonus tracks, including alternate takes of "Hole in Her Stocking" and "Born in the City," plus a couple of songs that didn't make the album itself. (Despite the track listing's claims to the contrary, incidentally, Harvey does not sing the prettily Traffic-like "Primrose Hill.") 
by Dave Thompson
1. Ice Cold (R. Shepherd, Ray Russel) - 2:58
2. Wade In The Water (Traditional) - 3:45
3. Hole In Her Stocking (Alex Harvey, Ray Russel) - 4:09
4. He Looks At Me / Mooncross Grove - 10:19
5. Spine Cop - 3:47
6. Born In The City - 3:01
7. Theme For Freedom - 7:34
8. You To Lose (R. Cameron, Ray Russel) - 6:41
9. Spine Cop (Alt Version) - 3:50
10.Hole In Her Stocking (Alt Version) (Alex Harvey, Ray Russel) - 5:31
11.Born In The City (Alt Version) - 2:47
12.You To Lose (Alt Version) - 5:25
13.Primrose Hill (R. Shepherd, Ray Russel) - 5:41
14.Return Of The Goddess - 5:40
All songs by Ray Russell except where noted
Bonus Tracks 9-14

*Harry Beckett - Horn
*Bob Downes - Wind
*Alan Greed - Keyboards, Vocals
*Alex Harvey - Vocals
*Robin Jones - Drums
*Brian Miller - Keyboards
*Tony Roberts - Wind
*Daryl Runswick - Bass
*Alan Rushton - Drums
*Ray Russell - Guitar
*Derek Wadsworth - Trombone

Related Acts
1969-71  Paul Korda - Passing Stranger (2012 remaster and expanded)
1973  Mouse - Lady Killer  
1972-73  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Framed / Next 
1974-75  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - The Impossible Dream / Tomorrow Belongs to Me
1975-76  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Live / The Penthouse Tapes
1976-78  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Stories / Rock Drill
1969  Keef Hartley Band - The Battle Of North West Six (2008 remaster) 
1969  Sweet Pain - Sweet Pain

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