Tuesday, February 14, 2023

One - One (1969 uk, remarkable heavy psych bluesy rock)

In late 1969/early 1970, a motley crew of London-based musicians entered Trident Studios in the heart of Soho to record a lone, rare album for Fontana Records. Helmed by Indian-born musicians and childhood friends, singer Alan Marshall and keyboard player Bobby Sass, One had initially formed in early 1969 after a series of jam sessions at Marshall’s studio flat, located at 6 Denmark Street which he shared with manager Roger Burrow, a friend of Graham Nash’s.

Born in Lahore, Alan Marshall had quite the musical pedigree. Starting out with Bexley Heath, Kent R&B outfit The Loose Ends in the early 1960s, Marshall had cut two excellent singles on Decca before the original formation splintered in October 1966. Forming a new version with members of Croydon band The Subjects and another Bexley Heath area aggregation, Bob ‘N’ All, the new-look Loose Ends landed a short residency at the Bang Bang Club in Milan during January-February 1967.

When the musicians returned to London that March, they were spotted by Otis Redding at the Scotch of St James (or Speakeasy depending on who you speak to) and, ‘blown away’ by Marshall and co-vocalist Bob Saker’s duets, the soul legend took both singers back to the States to record two tracks at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals – “Johnny B Goode” and “Keep Pushing”. The plan was to couple the two recordings for a single on Atlantic but internal politics led to the tracks being shelved. Tragically, Redding died later that year.

Back in the UK, Alan Marshall reunited with guitarist Peter Kirtley who’d been playing with Alan Price’s band after leaving The Loose Ends the previous October. The pair decided to form a new group, Happy Magazine, and Marshall recommended his childhood friend Bobby Sass (not Bobby Tench under an alias which has often been misreported) to play keyboards. Unfortunately, after some tentative rehearsals, it was decided that Sass didn’t fit the band concept and he was dropped.

One’s storming cover of Havens’ “Don’t Listen To Me”, which opens the LP and third track, “Stop Pulling and Pushing Me” are inspired, extended workouts full of inventive playing and powerful instrumental passages. The musicians also do justice to “Cautiously”, an atmospheric reading of the ballad written by Maurey Hayden, singer, stand-up comedian and wife of Lenny Bruce. Alan Marshall and Bobby Sass’s “Near The Bone”, the band’s lone contribution to the song-writing stakes is also noteworthy.

According to several band members, the sessions at Trident’s studios also featured Alan Marshall’s former band mate from The Loose Ends and Happy Magazine, Peter Kirtley, who provided lead guitar on several cuts.

Fontana duly released the LP in the UK in late 1969, followed by continental releases in France, Germany and Spain. The label also issued several singles but like the LP, none of the releases charted, which is perhaps not surprising considering that One undertook very little live work to promote the records. One notable gig took place on 7 October 1969 when the musicians made a rare appearance on stage at Hatchettes Playground in Piccadilly.
Notes taken from GARAGE HANGOVER
1. Don't Listen To Me (Richie Havens) - 6:58
2. Cautiously (Maurey Hayden) - 8:41
3. Stop Pulling And Pushing Me (Richie Havens) - 7:53
4. Near The Bone (Alan Marshall, Bobby Sass) - 4:00
5. Run, Shaker Life (Richie Havens) - 17:37

*Alan Marshall - Vocals, Harp, Congas, Talking Drum, Tambourine, Guitar
*Kevin Fogerty - Guitar 
*Bobby Sass - Organ, Piano, Guitar 
*Conrad Isidore - Drums 
*Norman Leppard - Flute, Tenor Saxophone 
*Brent Forbes - Bass
*Peter Kirtley - Guitar