Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jody Grind - 1969 - One Step On

Jody Grind 
1969
One Step On




01. One Step On / In My Mind / Nothing At All / Interaction
02. Paint It Black
03. Little Message
04. Night Today
05. U.S.A.
06. Rock 'N' Roll Man

- Tim Hinkley / organ
- Ivan Zagni / guitar
- Barry Wilson / drums
- Louis Cenammo / bass (1d, 2 & 5)


British progressive rock band Jody Grind issued two obscure albums combining hard rock, jazz, blues, and classical influences with lineups emphasizing Hammond organ, guitar, and drums. Prone to long instrumental riffing and rather ponderous, stern original material, they were similar to other very early organ-oriented U.K. progressive rock acts. But they did not possess the originality, or songwriting or vocal talent, to match well-known exponents of the style such as the various groups in which organists Keith Emerson, Vincent Crane, and Brian Auger played.

The mainstay of Jody Grind was Hammond organist Tim Hinkley, who'd played in the Bo Street Runners (who for a time also included drummer Mick Fleetwood) and the Chicago Line Blues Band. Hinkley then formed a band to back British singer Elkie Brooks, but though they never ended up backing the vocalist, he and the two other musicians, guitarist Ivan Zagni and drummer Martin Harriman, decided to form a group of their own at the end of 1968. Initially called Nova, they changed their name to Jody Grind (after a song by jazzman Horace Silver). By the time they signed to Transatlantic in April 1969, Barry Wilson had replaced Harriman on drums. Renaissance bassist Louis Cennamo (previously in the Chicago Line Blues Band and later in Armageddon) was not a member, but helped out on their 1969 debut album, One Step On, which also included brass arrangements.

Shortly after its release, the band's personnel overturned with the departure of Zagni and Wilson. Hinkley kept the band going with new guitarist/singer Bernie Holland and drummer Pete Gavin, opting for a somewhat more eclectic and hard rock-oriented (and less jazz-influenced) approach on 1970's Far Canal. Neither album made a commercial impact, however, and they broke up around the time Far Canal was released. Hinkley later played in Vinegar Joe (who also included Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer) before becoming a session musician.

Jody Grind's debut album was early progressive rock with a somewhat jazzier orientation than most such bands, though the playing was a good sight more impressive than the singing and songwriting. There's a fairly grim tone to the original material, all (save a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black") written by Tim Hinkley and Ivan Zagni, who wrench extended heavy blues and jazzy solos out of their organ and guitar, respectively. The showcase is an 18-minute, four-part suite, "One Step On," that -- like many long rock tracks of the time -- goes on for way too long, incorporating horn fanfares, lurching tempos, and operatic vocals (and, yes, a drum solo). Shown to best advantage on "Little Message" and the most appealing song on the album, "Night Today," Hinkley's skilled Hammond organ work stands up well to the keyboards of well-known early prog rockers like Keith Emerson, Vincent Crane (of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown), and Brian Auger. But he didn't have material or singers on the same level as any of those more celebrated musicians did, nor did he establish as strikingly identifiable an instrumental style.

It can be a real enigma sometimes how some groups make it and others do not. For no apparent reason, a band who have originality, energy and some fine musicians manage to completely bypass any form of recognition or success. Jody Grind are a classic example. Formed in late 1968 by band leader and keyboard player Tim Hinkley, they released two classic albums which immediately sank without trace. Fortunately, today they are belatedly beginning to receive the recognition they deserve.

The music of Jody Grind is a sort of melting pot of Deep Purple, Chicago, Uriah Heep, Vanilla Fudge, The Nice and many others. It should be remembered though that Jody Grind are more leaders than followers, their albums predating many of the best known releases of those great bands.

The album opens with a stunning 18 minute suite bearing the album's title. This four part epic includes a wonderful cover of the Rolling Stones Paint it black, the other three sections being self composed. The driving brass and superb guitar work remind me a little of Uriah Heep's great Salisbury suite. The track oozes energy and originality, especially when you remember it dates from 1969. The brass sections were actually added after completion of the recording of the album, being arranged by David Palmer (later of Jethro Tull). My only minor gripe is the inclusion of a drum solo, but thankfully it is kept brief.

The following Little message continues the magic, the track once again focusing on the instrumental prowess of the band. Night today finally sees the band taking a breather, the song being a softer piece featuring more in the way of vocals. While it is a pleasant listen, it lacks the dynamics of those which precede it, and is very much of its time. Anyone who enjoys the obscure one album band Aquila will also enjoy this and the following track USA. The latter is a straight blues rock number featuring some good guitar work.

The album closes with a Chuck Berry tribute Rock'n'roll man, a thinly disguised cover of Johnny B. Goode. Once again some good if predictable guitar work, but the track is by and large the definition of filler.

In all, a tremendously exciting album which loses its way slightly in the latter part. The first 20+ minutes though are as good as anything you will hear from the period.

Incidentally, the band's name does not reflect that of any of their members, simply being the name of a jazz number by Horace Silver

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