Wednesday, 6 August 2008

UPP - This Way

102 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Epic KE 34177
Four Faces of Guitar videos from YouTube

There's quite a story around this band so it's a wonder they and their two LPs are not more well-known, especially when you consider the personalities involved in recording sessions on both sides of the Atlantic. The eponymous first record from the previous year, which was much more blues and fusion-flavoured than this blue-eyed-soul affair, included Jeff Beck as producer and guitarist but he was uncredited for the latter. Some bootlegs of the first album and live gigs in this period erroneously call them The Jeff Beck Band. He's replaced here on their sophomore outing by David Bunce, although Beck kicks in some licks on a couple tracks.

UPP (from right to left)
Andrew Clark - Keyboards, Vocals, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Mini Moog
Jim Copley - Drums
Stephen Amazing - Bass, Bass (Electric)
David Bunce - Guitar

Jeff Beck - Guitar
Gary Coleman - Percussion, Vibraphone
James Getzoff - Strings, Concert Master
Tom Scott - Saxophone
Jeanie Arnold - Vocals, Vocals (bckgr)
Christie Thompson - Vocals (bckgr)
Christopher Bond - Arranger, Producer

1 Never Gonna Turn My Back On You
2 Say Goodbye
3 Nitto
4 Dance Your Troubles Away
5 Don't Want Nothing To Change
6 Groovin' Mood
7 There's Still Hope
8 Get To The Bottom

Jimmy Copley is generally credited with putting the band together, enlisting local boys Amazing and his friend Clark, who had just returned from a stint as a session man in the wilds of LA. Beck apparently had a favourite watering hole in Kent and saw them play, got to know them and eventually took them on as protégés/backing unit. After UPP parted ways in '77 he spent time doing session work, most notably for acts like The Pretenders, Tears For Fears and Tommy Iommi and he continues to actively record, contributing to Headhunter Paul Jackson's 2005 disc Funk On A Stick and releasing his own Slap My Hand earlier this year.

Childhood pals Andrew Clark and Stephen Amazing (née Fields) are best known for their previous work with guitarist Mick Hutchinson whom Clark met previously in Sam Gopal's Dream (which was also one of Lemmy's earliest gigs). Clark-Hutchinson started in '68 playing in a heavy blues rock mode (heard on their 1st album Blues that sat on the shelf for 25 years before getting released) but were better known for their brand of arty jazz-blues-fusion prog tinged with folk that was more popular with hippies, freaks and heads than critics who considered it noodling for the most part (their 1969 "debut" A=Mh2 cracked the UK top ten but the rest failed to chart). Their discography is pretty collectible on vinyl but you can hear it at One Ugly Funker if you're so inclined. They've recently reunited and you can also download some of their tracks directly from them.

Andy Clark then joined Bill Nelson in Be-bop DeLuxe for their third album Sunburst Finish,(good review at Blog Critics) and worked on Nelson's solo projects as well. Settling back into his role of session musician quite comfortably, he played synth on David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps); helped out on albums by popular British singers Toyah and Judie Tzuke; played keys on Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico's comeback album Do or Die; bass, B-3 and other keys on Peter Gabriel's blockbuster So; and arranged the horns for one of my favourite rock albums of the 90s, Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (BTW, I had a chance to chat with Jason Spaceman about his masterpiece when it was released back in '97).

Stephen Amazing's later story is not so clear. Rumour has it shortly after Beck asked UPP to be opening act on the US tour for Wired he had a nervous breakdown. All I can confirm is that they did play a minimal amount of warm-up shows in the UK and were replaced by the Jan Hammer Group. Amazing has a credit for bass on Rhodesian ex-pat Tony Bird's debut Tony Bird the same year but then bupkiss after '76 and he's not involved in the current Clark-Hutchinson reunion, either.

David Bunce took a different path and went into composition for movies and television and he has some of it available for listening on his website.

I previously mentioned Jeff Beck was recording his classic fusion blockbuster Wired around the same time and the first UPP record was basically sandwiched between the two major sessions. The first of these came after the Blow By Blow tour where Beck played with Wilbur Bascomb (4BB just posted a crazy rare LP of his) & Bernard Purdie as his rhythm section. Then Beck worked on UPP's first LP and afterwards called back Bascomb, Richard Bailey (from UK jazzfunk monsters Gonzalez) who drummed on BBB, Jan Hammer and Andy Clark (who co-wrote the breakneck break-filled Head For Backstage Pass) among others for another kick at the can. There's a JB fan page that goes into great detail if you're interested and it has a few hilarious classic guitarist wanker ego BS anecdotes.

The "Friends" they credit are some of the cream of the LA session musician crop. After the main recording was completed in London, it was apparently sent out to Lala Land for some beefing up with strings and horns. I couldn't find anything concrete on it but it seems more than likely Clark called on some of his old colleagues in the backing biz and Epic was happy to cough up the shekels to get with the zeitgeist and slap some disco sheen on The Jeff Beck Band.

Christopher Bond was apparently the man to do this judging from the thanks given him in the liner notes. In the same time-frame he was working on parts of Wired while Beck was in the US, was producing and playing on Weather Report bassist Alphonso Johnson's Moonshadows and was heavily involved arranging, producing and playing keys as well as guitars on Hall & Oates' Bigger Than The Both Of Us, which AMG says "continued the gold success of its predecessor by adding a cleaner, more pop-oriented gloss to the production." The session leprechauns with that pot o' pop gold are the same ones who deliver that gloss without too much dross on This Way.

That would be concert master extraordinaire
James Getzoff, powerhouse sax player Tom Scott and percussionist/vibe player Gary Coleman, who has literally hundreds of credits and appears on some of the most critically acclaimed and/or highest selling LPs of the 70s and 80s in multiple genres. Check out some of the artists on whose albums he played in that same year: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Margie Joseph, Marvin Gaye, Leon Ware, Lamont Dozier, The Impressions, David T. Walker, Elliott Fisher, Tata Vega, Steely Dan, Al Kooper, Nilsson, Jackson Browne, Mellissa Manchester, Glenn Campbell... dude is a machine.

A little bit of snap, crackle and pop but overall pretty clean. Re-issued on CD along with the first album (and demos for a third that never happened) in 2004 but already deleted and hard to find. A quick check found over a dozen copies of this album going for $10- $20 on GEMM which is a big drop from the normal $30 - $50+ I used to see it go for in a lot of shops.

Get UPP to get down HERE or HERE.

"Get Down In The Dirt" from the first album on 1974 BBC special Four Faces of Guitar


Wallofsound said...

Wow, I've only just found your blog, and then I discover you've posted UPP. I was beginning to think I was the only person who had this record. I've always loved it. Mine has a different cover. Is that because it's a British release.

Thanks for the blog. I've loved reading all your posts, and you're now on RSS.

cheeba said...

LOL! You and me both, Wallofsound! Even guitarist friends I have who are well into Beck look at me with a blank stare when I mention this LP.

The cover I have up is the North American version and from what I can tell, the UK cover is the one shown on the AMG entry. I couldn't find reference to any other versions so I assume yours is the UK one.

Happy to hear you're enjoying the blog! I'm also grateful you left a comment b/c I checked out your blog and there are some really interesting pieces over there. Grabbing the John Zorn & John Patton collab stat! I just GOTTA hear what that sounds like!

Gianni said...

finalmen te riesco a sentire questo disco.
e mi pento di non averlo comprato quando lo vidi alcuni mesi fa in un negozio, perchè mi piace il sound.
grazie cheeba

Anonymous said...

People talk about rick wakeman ray manzarek keith emerson etc Virtuoso keyboards players that they are But i have to say Andrew clark has to be 1 of the best and most underrated players around check out Be bop deluxe"s Live in the airage Album adventures in a yorkshire landscape &shine have to be the best keyboards/guitar work outs around