Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Alan Bown: This Week's Obsession



Many moons ago, when I had first discovered and fell in love with Robert Palmer's "Sneakin' Sally Thru The Alley" and "Pressure Drop" records, I decided to check out his previous work with bands like Vinegar Joe and The Alan Bown. I don't recall being impressed with either at the time. I wanted more like the aforementioned records and neither delivered.

Many years later, I fell in love with The Alan Bown's debut "Outward Bown," a 1967 British classic of a branch of psychedelia called "toytown pop," and a record that neither features Robert Palmer or sounds like something Palmer would be singing in any lifetime. Lead vocals were being sung by a young and soulful Jess Roden, even though the music had no resemblance to soul music of any kind.  As a matter of fact, the more I tbought I about it, I don't recall ever hearing a note of music by The Alan Bown that sounded like it had been Robert Palmer singing.

Many moons back, no internet. Today, internet. But first...

This weekend I picked up a 1969 self-titled record by The Alan Bown, with Robert Palmer's picture displayed in the gatefold. I listened to it and it sounded nothing at all like The Alan Bown found on 1967's psych pop debut. Nor, like Robert Palmer.  What the hell? This was not a British pop record. This felt more like some magical mix of Traffic via Procol Harum recorded in Philadelphia.

To wind all this up after some Google searches, Jess Roden left after recording the second album, the one I picked up this weekend. Robert Palmer took over and re-recorded all of the vocals. BUT...the Palmer vocals only appeared on the U.K. pressing. The U.S. edition, the one I bought, though sporting Palmer's face on the inside, still had Roden's vocals. By the third album, 1971's "Listen," the sound of the band changed even more, Palmer left right before its release and is only featured on one track, with the rest being handled by new addition, Gordon Neville.

Three albums, three singers, various pressings, as I said earlier, what the hell?

I hope you are even slightly intrigued by all of this.





The two tracks above are from the U.K., Palmer sung edition of the 1969 follow-up to the 1967 debut, which is represented by two songs below. I am now in love with both albums and completely in awe of how much different a band can sound within a year. Now, I must find the U.K. copy of the second album, the Robert Palmer vocals, to go along with the U.S. version, with Jess Roden's vocals.

Now...you can go.









9 comments:

cmealha said...

Who's on first?

Sal Nunziato said...

I guess the music did nothing for you.

dogbreath said...

Blissfully unaware of the permutations regarding the vocalists but both Palmer and Roden were/are great singers. The Alan Bown used to get some airplay on the late night rock/prog radio shows to which we used to fall cozily asleep on school nights and it was v good to hear "Strange Little Friend" again. Hope you keep on enjoying & thanks for the post. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

you're right, that's all over the map. kind of like if you thought all the Small Faces stuff would sound like Itchygoo Park.

I love the Feats-ish Palmer albums, too, and Roden's mellow album, "The Player Not the Game."

buzzbabyjesus said...

Solid.

Ken J Xenozar said...

Ok. This is really crazy interesting.

Marie said...

I don't think this track is on your album, Sal:

https://app.box.com/s/72nbrlee01r5y8dirny4mx01matwbphm

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks Marie! A great track, indeed!

FD13NYC said...

I like this!!