Friday 7 July 2023

Posted by Gerry Hectic | File under : , ,

If there was ever a couple to sum up London 60s cool it was Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll with 'Wheels On Fire' and all that; but there's far more to them as we find out with the re-issue of 'Encore'.

Originally released in 1978, it's a testament to the album (and indeed all of their respetive releases) that generally it's very rare to see in the second-hand market so it's a real bonus that Esoteric Records (part of Cherry Red) have re-master and re-issued this album after many years of being unavailable.

And it was very much an 'Encore' as Julie had left Auger's band in the late sixties, married jazz giant Keith Tippetts and grown her hair (so 70s) whilst Auger had got heavier (proggy) with his band Oblivion Express.

This re-union produced 7 tracks which are a mix of original versions and covers.  No Dylan as we've moved on in the 70s with two tracks from the then little known to the general public, Al Jarreau's 'Spirit' and 'Lock All The Gates' ('Moonlighting' didn't arrive until the mid-80s for Al), Jack Bruce/Pete Brown 'Rope Ladder To The Moon'), the Traffic hit, 'No Time To Live' and The Staple Singers' 'Freedom Highway'.

This album has a real crossover as the use of the soul/R&B backing vocals are very powerful and makes for more of a soul-rock sound, similar to Vinegar Joe (70s rock band fronted by Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer) particularly on 'Freedom Highway' and 'Future Pilot' (how annoying that Brian's Hammond fades out on this one and  'Rope Ladder To The Moon').

Brian's an expert on all keyboards of course, and at this day and age (being recorded in '77) he's got the B3, piano, synths/moog all to play; Julie is just fantastic and one of a handful of vocalists who could take on 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' as made famous by Nina Simone.

Whilst the album is probably more soul-rock-blues based, 'Git Up' gets more jazz-funky, the final track, 'Lock All the Gates' gets Brian on piano and it's that bit more dramatic and the strangely Steely Dan jazz-pop of 'Nothing Will Be As It Was' (as track co-written by Milton Nascimento of all people) with Brian on lead vocals.

The cover is great as you can sense that they're deep in collaboration and it's certainly an album that stands the test of time. My slight gripe is that the tracks could have been longer; but looking back, perhaps the lack of prog/jazz noodling is the albums' strength as it's hard to stop listening to it; "Encore" you might say.

Being a generous soul, Brian is donating his royalties from the album to 'Operation Smile' who are a charity dedicated to improving the health and lives of children with cleft conditions. 

Artist: Brian Auger & Julie Tippetts

Release: Encore
Release Date: 26th May, 2023
Label: Esoteric Recordings
Catalog Number: ECLEC2832
Format: Vinyl / CD / Digital


Post a Comment