Robert writes about rock & pop music, and vinyl record collecting.
As we continue our article series about "bird" and "animal" artists and groups in rock 'n' roll, here at DigitalDreamDoor, let's revisit our "bird" theme and start with a little known band that was produced by Dave Edmunds.
Although never hugely popular, the London-based pub rockers "Ducks Deluxe" never let the mainstream rock and roll world get in their way. Playing American-style blues and boogie, adroitly woven with unpretentious rock and roll, Ducks Deluxe members' Sean Tyla (guitar/vocals), Martin Belmont (guitars), Nick Garvey (bass) and Andy McMaster (keyboards) released several passionate LPs, starting in 1974.
But their best work just happened to be on their final studio album in 1975, an album called "All Too Much" (they added Mick Groom on bass and Tim Roper on the drums). In an expanded version of their EP "Jumpin'"(1975), the group attacks the Bobby Fuller hit "I Fought The Law" with shear abandon and actually are able to capture the essence of the song. Other notable cuts include a romantic rocker, blended with an extraordinary slide guitar on the song "Amsterdam Dog." They also offer up two different versions of "Something's Going On" and do an amazing cover of "Here Comes The Night." Other highlights include the anthem-like "Rock and Roll for Every Boy and Girl" and the funky rhythms of the song "Cannons of the Boogie Night."
And although they never "hit the big time," this seminal pub rock band member's experiences in Ducks Deluxe would serve them well. Ex-Ducks Deluxe members Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster formed the rock/pop band the Motors in 1977. Duck's guitarist Martin Belmont went on to join Graham Parker's backing band called The Rumour. Sean Tyla then formed the Tyla Gang. The group reformed to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their original formation.
Stone The Crows
Another "bird" group that never went on to be a household name was the Scottish-English soul band named "Stone The Crows" (from a Scottish curse meaning "the hell with it"). Perhaps the band's claim to fame may have been introducing a Janis Joplin-like blues singer named Maggie Bell, who was singing with Les Harvey (brother of Alex Harvey of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band) in a band called Power. They caught the attention of Led Zeppelin manager, Peter Grant, who renamed the group "Stone The Crows." The first two album releases met with critical acclaim, but failed to sell.
Their 1971 album "Teenage Licks," was full of blues-rockers and was met with rave reviews and it seemed that the band was on the verge of success. In fact, singer
Maggie Bell won Britain's Top Girl Singer Award for the first of many times. But, tragedy struck when band member Les Harvey was electrocuted by a microphone wire during a show. Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch came in to finish the predetermined gigs and also played on the band's next release "Ontinuous," but the band broke up shortly after its release. McCulloch would later join Paul McCartney and Wings and after a stint with them, he joined up with the reformed band Small Faces. Maggie Bell released several solo albums and enjoyed moderate success as a session vocalist, including sitting in on Rod Stewart's album called "Every Picture Tells A Story."
One of the first true punk groups from "down under" was the influential punk band called "Radio Birdman," who released several high-energy, guitar heavy LPs in the late 70's (the origin of the band's name comes from a lyric in the Blue Oyster Cult song "Dominance and Submission"). In their first EP called, "Burn My Eye," surfer-turned vocalist Rob Younger unleashes his distinctive boisterous rants, while guitarist Deniz Tek skillfully plays rapid-fire, feverish guitar.
On their first LP, the band engages in a thunderous cover of the Stooges' "T.V. Eye," conquer the world of urban desolation with the song "Murder City Nights" and fill the album with emotionally draining, yet genre defining punk rock. But, after taking almost three years to record a follow up album, dozens of other Australian punk bands stole the spotlight and the group split up almost immediately after their second LP called "Living Eyes." The band has influenced the work of many successful, mainstream groups and is now considered to be one of the most crucial bands to Australia's musical growth, but their main legacy was their towering influence over Australian indie rock in the 1980s.
Ducks Deluxe Tidbits:
The band reformed to celebrate the 35th anniversary. This was at the 100 Club in London on October 9, 2007. The line-up was Martin Belmont, Sean Tyla, Mickey Groome and Billy Rankin. On January 26, 2008 they played Centre Culturel de Paul Baillart, Massy, near Paris, France. And on September 20, 2008 they played the PopXiria Festival in Carbello, near La Coruna in Spain, headlining the final night of the event.
In 2009, Ducks Deluxe appeared at the Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne Minster, Dorset on January 24, 2009 and are scheduled to tour Sweden in April 2009.
The permanent line-up of the band is now Sean Tyla (vocals and guitar), Martin Belmont (guitar and vocals), Kevin Foster (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Jim Russell on drums.
The band are reported to be compiling a new CD for release in 2009 of rare live tracks, b-sides (never before released on CD) and perhaps some new material as well.
One of their fantastic covers is the Beatles' "Fool On The Hill" "I always wanted to do this because it's got great lyrics. We didn't really do it like the Beatles but I remember Petula Clark once said it was the finest version she'd ever heard," explained Maggie.
Maggie Bell now lives in Rotterdam, Holland, and is still singing and recording. In 1995 she did a tour of Scotland with the old Alex Harvey Band which went down a storm. She also toured with Chris Farlowe for three years. "I have been keeping busy. I could never give this business up!"
Radio Birdman Tidbits:
Although there was no official announcement by management, the group disbanded in May 2008.
In 2006 Radio Birdman was very active, spearheaded by the completion of a new album entitled "Zeno Beach," which was released in Australia on June 24, 2006 via the band's own Crying Sun Records, and in the US via Yep Roc Records.
In July 2007 the band were inducted into the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Hall of Fame.