Sep 242010

Townspeople, I just came across this abbreviated, super-charged version of The Move‘s “Hello Susie,” by a band I’d long heard of but never heard, Amen Corner, led by a musician I’d long heard of and knew of as a sort of Oliver, I believe, for big British bands in the ’70s but never heard play on his own, Andy Fairweather Low.

Hearing this version of “Hello Susie” for the first time was pretty exciting, primarily for the fact that Bev Bevan is not paradiddling all over the tune. As loyal as I am to The Move (and as tolerant as I am of their excesses), Bevan’s sloppy, sludgey style sometimes aggravates me. Amen Corner’s arrangement gets to the chugging, cascading heart of the song and doesn’t overdo it. Ultimately it makes for a “lighter” approach in scope as well as the song’s inherent ability to celebrate The Power and Glory of Rock, but tonight I was intrigued and wanted to hear more.
And see more. Fairweather Low’s Mark Wahlberg-crossed-with-Steve Nash Look and poor lip-synching abilities in this first clip were highly entertaining!

Here’s what I learned was the band’s biggest hit, “If Paradise Is Half as Nice.” It could pass for one of those Odyssey and Oracle songs, by The Zombies.

I found a horrendous version of “Bend Me, Shape Me,” in which Fairweather Low’s awkward stage presence and poor lip-synching abilities overshadow all that was already wrong with the track musically. Then I ran out of Amen Corner clips. I found a Fair Weather track (a 1970 splinter group) that sounded like Really Humble Pie, then I skipped ahead a few years, to his mid-’70s solo career. Songs like “Reggae Tune” explain a lot about his future as a faceless sideman.

Here’s a 1975 soft-rock hit (in the UK), “Wide Eyed and Legless,” that hints at his “musician’s musician” strengths, the kind of strengths that would allow him to support everyone from Roy Wood to Dave Edmunds to Roger Waters to Eric Clapton.

My extremely long-winded question boils down to this: Are there a few more tracks in this guy’s career – tracks with the slightest pulse and purpose, like those two Amen Corner tracks I stumbled across – that might elevate this guy to the “frequently interesting” third-rate status of a ’60s band like The Easybeats or an obscure pub rock band from the ’70s?

I look forward to your advice before I begin a quest to obtain cheap, used copies of Andy Fairweather Low’s works, the way I collected Be-Bop Deluxe albums with highly satisfying results a few years ago. Thanks.


  9 Responses to “Say “Amen Corner,” Somebody!”

  1. BigSteve

    In the 80s Glyn Johns put together an all Oliver/sideman supergroup around AFL called Local Boys.

    Andy Fairweather Low (Guitar, Vocals)
    Jerry Donahue (Guitar)
    Pat Donaldson (Bass)
    Glyn Johns (Producer, Engineer)
    Tim Gorman (Keyboards)
    David Kemper (Drums)

    They made one album called Moments of Madness. I no longer have that album, but I remember really liking it at the time.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    We might have to reacquire a copy of that album and its Oliver-studded cast!

  3. 2000 Man

    I think there was more energy in the Cuby and the Blizzards video. If it’s a slow day, it will be because everyone fell asleep!

  4. trolleyvox

    The things I notice in these 60’s TV lip sync fiascos: the bassist has no strap holding up his bass (I’m sure he left it at his bird’s pad), yet still pulls off the performance with some rather impressive sideburns and smiles.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Good catch, Tvox!

  6. trolleyvox

    He predates (Mark) Kramer, the Bongwater guy/producer/hilarious pain in the ass, by several decades. I wanted to link to Kramer’s lack of a bass strap as he man-handles his Hofner Beatle bass, but I can’t seem to find any video. Here are some stills:

  7. machinery

    Dana Carvey lookalike, for what it’s worth.

  8. I listened through all of the Fairweather-Low stuff when all I really came to say was: ANN MAGNUSON! Now we are getting somewhere!

  9. misterioso

    I think “If Paradise Is Half as Nice” was the only Amen Corner song I’d ever seen/heard before today. Really underwhelming in ways that would have to interest me more to try to explore further. You can find clips of them doing the original, apparently, version of “Bend Me, Shape Me,” if that is of any interest.

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