Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Wild Turkey - Battle Hymn (1971 uk, remarkable prog rock, 2013 remaster)

Wild Turkey was formed in 1971 by bassist Glenn Cornick after his three-year stint in Jethro Tull. 

Cornick (b. 23 April 1947, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, died at his home in Hilo, Hawaii on August 28, 2014) started in the Blackpool mod band The Executives, which issued five 1964–66 singles on Columbia. He then replaced bassist Jefferey Hammond in the soul-rock septet John Evan Smash, which also featured singer Ian Anderson and guitarist Mick Abrahams. 

In late 1967, Cornick followed Anderson and Abrahams to their new band, Jethro Tull. After their first album, Abrahams split to form Blodwyn Pig. Tull hired ex-Penny Peeps guitarist Martin Barre and made the 1969/70 Chrysalis albums Stand Up and Benefit. As the only member with formal training, Cornick was integral in the band’s arrangements. Despite this, Anderson sacked Cornick after Tull’s appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, purportedly due to his partying lifestyle.  (Tull replaced Cornick with his predecessor in the Smash, Jefferey Hammond. Later, Tull hired Cornick’s successor in The Executives, bassist Tony Williams, for the US leg of their Heavy Horses tour).

Post-Tull, Cornick traded bass duties with Kim Gardner (Ashton Gardner & Dyke, Badger) and Pete Sears (Les Fleur de Lys, Steamhammer) on And a Cast of Thousands, the 1971 second solo album by ex-Blue Cheer guitarist Leigh Stephens. Cornick then formed Wild Turkey with singer Gary Pickford-Hopkins, drummer John Weathers, and guitarists Tweke Lewis and Graham Hedley Williams. 

Hopkins and Weathers hailed from Eyes of Blue, a Welsh soul-psych band that issued two albums on Mercury in 1968/69, plus a third as Big Sleep. Weathers served as benefactor to Williams’ prior band Strawberry Dust, a Welsh blues-rock covers band. As Ancient Grease, they released the 1970 album Women and Children First, produced and largely composed by Weathers, who also played on a concurrent single by Pete Brown & Piblokto! 

Before Wild Turkey hit the studio, Weathers and Williams departed for Graham Bond’s Magick. Cornick replaced them with drummer Jeff Jones and guitarist Jon Blackmore. Jones’ background stretched to The Bystanders, a Welsh beat group that morphed into Man. He stuck with Man for their first two albums, Revelation and 2 Ozs. of Plastic With a Hole in the Middle (both 1969).

For Wild Turkey, Cornick retained his ties to Tull’s label, Chrysalis. He named his band after a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.

Wild Turkey debuted with Battle Hymn, released on November 19, 1971, on Chrysalis. The album flows as a song cycle comprised of 10 originals, including the Cornick compositions “Butterfly,” “To the Stars,” “Gentle Rain,” and the epic title track. Blackmore wrote three numbers (“Dulwich Fox,” “Sanctuary,” “Twelve Streets of Cobbled Black”) and co-wrote the closing track (“Sentinel“) with Lewis, who co-wrote “One Sole Survivor” with Hopkins, who contributed “Easter Psalm.”

Battle Hymn was recorded at Olympic Studios with producer Rodger Bain (Hannibal, Black Sabbath, Budgie, Indian Summer) and engineer Tom Allom (Strawbs, Hudson-Ford). Original copies are housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Douglas Maxwell Ltd. with an inner-spread group photo by Ray Rathborne. 

Wild Turkey promoted Battle Hymn with a two-night engagement at the Birmingham Town Hall over Christmas, followed by a winter 1972 transatlantic tour as the opening act for Black Sabbath. Several dates on the March US leg featured triple-bills with up-and-coming acts Bang, White Witch, Sweat Hog, REO Speedwagon, and Yes. Stateside, Battle Hymn was released in February 1972 on Reprise. “Butterfly” and “Battle Hymn” appear on the 1972 Spanish comp Esto es Chrysalis with cuts by Jethro Tull (“Thick as a Brick” edit), Procol Harum, Ten Years After, Tír na nÓg, and ex-Justine vocalist Laurie Styvers. In Oceania, Chrysalis paired “Easter Psalm” and “Sanctuary” on 7″. 

Before Wild Turkey re-entered the studio, Blackmore cleared out for guitarist Mick Dyche. Pianist Steve Gurl joined as a sixth member.
1. Butterfly (Glenn Cornick) - 5:00
2. Twelve Streets Of Cobbled Black (Jon Blackmore) - 3:11
3. Dulwich Fox (Jon Blackmore) - 3:50
4. Easter Psalm (Gary Pickford Hopkins) - 3:44
5. To The Stars (Glenn Cornick) - 4:29
6. Sanctuary (Jon Blackmore) - 4:31
7. One Sole Survivor (Gary Pickford Hopkins, Tweke Lewis) - 4:09
8. Battle Hymn (Glenn Cornick) - 4:40
9. Gentle Rain (Glenn Cornick) - 3:13
10.Sentinel (Jon Blackmore, Tweke Lewis) - 4:22

Wild Turkey
*Jon Blackmore - Guitar, Vocals
*Glenn Cornick - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards
*Gary Pickford Hopkins - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Jeff Jones - Drums, Percussion
*Alan "Tweke" Lewis - Guitar 

Relates Acts