Sunday, February 26, 2023

Steve Gibbons - Short Stories / Stained Glass (1971/1996 uk, superb roots 'n' roll, pub rock, 2001 double disc remaster and expanded)

Rock n’ roll sometimes isn’t fair with some of its representatives. Rock n’ roll isn’t giving everybody what he/she deserves. However, even if they are regarded as obscure or cult acts, these not so well-known artists aren’t lost in oblivion. Steve Gibbons is such a rock n’ roll representative, a true rock n’ roll hero, who never got famous, however, his work is here for us to enjoy. 

Steve Gibbons was born in Harborne, Birmingham (England), on the 13th of July, 1941, and belongs to the great Birmingham rock scene (Moody Blues, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Electric Light Orchestra among others). His first occupation was a plumber's apprentice in his hometown – nevertheless, he started his musical career in 1960 as the lead singer of The Dominettes. His first performance with The Dominettes was at The California Public House, near Weoley Castle. According to music historians, The Dominettes were a rhythm and blues act, with a rough image and quite a following. They played numerous shows in Birmingham, in music venues like The Grotto Club, The Sicilia Coffee Bar etc., but sometimes they were hired to back strippers at some of the more seedy establishments. The Dominettes didn’t last too long, since in 1963 they were renamed The Ugly’s.

Contrary to The Dominettes, The Ugly’s left a considerable work behind them. They secured a recording deal with Pye Records and their first single was “Wake Up My Mind” (1965), an original composition, co-written by Gibbons, advanced for its time, featuring some socially conscious lyrics, not a hit in England but a big hit on the national Australian chart, reaching No. 14. The Ugly’s were a psychedelic pop/rock band, with very interesting songs, like “It’s Alright”, “A Quiet Explosion”, “This is Your Mind Speaking”, “Real Good Girl” etc. They even covered a Kinks song (“End of the Season”), but failed to succeed. Besides that, the band suffered many line-up changes – in 1968 Richard Tandy, a keyboards player, joined The Ugly’s, however, he tasted worldwide success, only when he became a member of Electric Light Orchestra. By the end of 1968, Steve Gibbons was the only remaining original member of The Ugly’s – the last line-up of the band included, apart from Gibbons, Will Hammond, Dave Morgan (later in Electric Light Orchestra, Tandy/Morgan etc.), Keith Smart and Richard Tandy – with these members, The Ugly’s recorded the song “I See The Light”.

That single was the last The Ugly’s song, because by April of 1969, Gibbons formed with The Move guitar/bass player, Trevor Burton, a new band called Balls, a Birmingham supergroup, since apart from Gibbons/Burton, it featured Richard Tandy, Keith Smart and Dave Morgan. The summer of 1969 Morgan was replaced by Denny Laine (vocals, guitar, ex-Moody Blues) and after some personnel changes, Gibbons left the band in February 1971. Balls recorded only one single in 1971, the Trevor Burton-penned “Fight for my Country” (the b-side was “Janie Slow Down”), and then dissolved.

In 1971 Steve Gibbons released his first solo album, called “Short Stories” via the Wizard label (through which also Balls released their only single), produced by Gary Wright (one of the founding members of Spooky Tooth) and Jimmy Miller (worked also with Blind Faith, Motörhead, Traffic, The Rolling Stones etc.) and composed by Gibbons himself (in collaboration with Burton in three tracks). Several artists helped Gibbons in his first effort, for example Alan White (drums, became a member of Balls and later of Yes), Greg Ridley (bass, Spooky Tooth, Humble Pie) and Albert Lee (one of the greatest rock/country session guitarists). “Short Stories” is a fantastic rock n’ roll album, with a lot of blues and folk elements, very inspired compositions and outstanding performances from Gibbons and his accompanying musicians.

Steve Gibbons released his second solo album in 1996 (“Stained Glass”). Steve Gibbons belongs to the pantheon of British rock n’ roll of the 70s; he started his career in the psychedelic 60s and became a rock n’ roll band leader in the 70s, releasing some wonderful albums and touring endlessly around the world. The characteristics of Steve Gibbons, his tough, filthy voice, the way he spitted the words, his sincere sense of original rock music, are always there to remind us how beautiful is the story of Steve Gibbons and his band. They say that Gibbons is the English Bob Seger, one of the influences of bands like Dire Straits, a more electrifying version of Bob Dylan. Call it how you like it, Steve Gibbons is an underrated rock n’ roll icon, whose music shines brightly and will shine forever!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Disc 1 Short Stories 1971
1. Leader Of The Band - 3:38
2. Now You're Leaving (Steve Gibbons, Trevor Burton) - 4:28
3. The Last Farewell (Steve Gibbons, Trevor Burton) - 2:44
4. One Of Those Days - 3:56
5. Alright Now - 5:39
6. You've Gotta Pay - 3:26
7. Bye Bye Buffalo (Steve Gibbons, Trevor Burton) - 4:30
8. Brown Girl - 3:46
9. Until She Comes Home - 5:05
10.Don't Wanna Let You Down - 3:16
11.Trouble - 3:24 - 
12.Lamb To The Slaughter - 4:53
13.I'm Going Home - 2:40
14.Tired Clock - 2:12
All compositions by Steve Gibbons except where stated
Bonus Tracks 12-14
Disc 2 Stained Glass 1996
1. Take It Easy - 3:32
2. You're A Big Girl Now (Bob Dylan) - 4:47
3. The Last Farewell (Steve Gibbons, Trevor Burton) - 3:15
4. Oh What A Thrill (Chuck Berry) - 3:10
5. Grace - 3:33
6. Looking Glass In The Rain - 3:20
7. One Day - 3:20
8. Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night (Tom Waits) - 4:33
9. New Leather Shoes - 4:05
10.Stolen Hearts - 3:35
11.Hey Buddy - 3:23
12.Man In The Long Black Coat (Bob Dylan) - 3:35
13.Immaculate Conception - 2:38 
14.Where Was I Last Night? - 3:27
15.Smoky Joe's - 3:54
All songs by Steve Gibbons except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 14-15

Disc 1 Short Stories 1971
*Steve Gibbons - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Doris Troy - Backing Vocals (Tracks 2,5,8) 
*Gary Wright - Backing Vocals (Track 5), Piano (Tracks 1-5,3-4)
*Madeline Bell - Backing Vocals (Tracks 2,5,8)
*Greg Ridley - Bass (Track 8)
*Trevor Burton - Bass (Tracks 1,3-5), Guitar (Track 10)
*Pat Donaldson - Bass (Tracks 2,6-8,11)
*Larry Fallon  - Brass, Flute (Track 8)
*Claire Deniz - Cello (Track 9)
*Bill Povey - Clarinet
*Alan White - Drums (Tracks 8,10), 
*Mike Kellie - Drums (Tracks 1-9, 11)
*Alan White - Bass Drum, Flute (Track 10)
*Albert Lee - Electric Piano (Track 10), Guitar (Tracks 1-9, 11)
*Hugh McCracken - Guitar (Track 10) 
*Gerry Donahue - Guitar 
*Ginger Johnson - Percussion (Track 5)
*Jimmy Miller - Percussion (Track 5) 
*Rocki Dzidzornu - Percussion (Track 5)
*Ian Whiteman - Piano (Tracks 6-7,9)
*Gerry Conway - Steel Guitar (Tracks 2-4)
*Johnny Van Derek - Violin (Tracks 6,9)

Disc 2 Stained Glass 1996
*Steve Gibbons - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Bob Lamb - Drums
*Bob Griffin - Bass (Tracks 1,3,9)
*John Caswell - Guitar (Tracks 2,5,6,8,10-13) Bass (Tracks 2,6,10-13)
*Steve Dolan - Bass (Track 4)
*Roger Inniss - Bass (Tracks 5,7-8)
*Phil Bond - Keyboards (Tracks 1-2,5-6,8,10,12), Accordion (Tracks 11,13)
*Bob Wilson - Guitar (Tracks 3,5-7,9,11)

1976  The Steve Gibbons Band - Any Road Up 
1977  The Steve Gibbons Band - Rollin' On