Mighty Baby - Selftitled (1969)
Biography by Bruce Eder
The British psychedelic band Mighty Baby grew out of the Action,
the Liverpool-based R&B outfit signed to Parlophone by George Martin in 1965.
Long considered one of Martin's best discoveries this side of the Beatles,
the Action consisted of Reggie King (vocals), Alan King (guitar),
Pete Watson (guitar), Mike Evans (bass), and Roger Powell (drums).
After Watson left in 1967,
he was succeeded by keyboardist Ian Whiteman and blues guitarist Martin Stone,
a veteran of the Savoy Brown Blues Band.
This new lineup evolved beyond the R&B/soul sound that the original Action had played
and into a top-flight experimental group,
incorporating the kinds of long jams and folk/blues influences that the West Coast bands
were starting to export around the world.
They hooked up with ex-Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky in 1967 and recorded an album's
worth of material that went unreleased. Reggie King was gone by early 1968 to record
a solo album, and the remaining members went through a number of name changes,
at one point calling themselves Azoth.
In 1968, they hooked up with the managers who represented Pink Floyd and T. Rex and cut a
new series of demo recordings featuring Whiteman (who wrote most of the songs)
and Alan King on lead vocals. These demos were even more ambitious than the 1967 sides,
extending the structure of the group's songs with long,
beautiful guitar progressions and soaring choruses.
Unlike a lot of R&B outfits that tried the psychedelic route and failed,
they were suited to the new music by inclination and temperament.
The president of the band's new record label, Head Records,
for reasons best known to himself, chose "Mighty Baby" as the group's new name.
The self-titled album that followed was a masterpiece of late psychedelic rock,
with long, fluid guitar lines and radiant harmonies; still,
Mighty Baby didn't sell very well, although the group continued to play live shows to
enthusiastic audiences. Their record label folded in 1970, and the group eventually
signed to the Blue Horizon label, where they released a respectable if not
wholly successful second album, A Jug of Love. It was clear by then, however,
that their moment had passed, both personally and professionally.
Mighty Baby broke up in 1971, although several of the members periodically played together
on various projects — Evans and Whiteman even played back-up to Richard and
Linda Thompson in the late 1970's.
****This hour-long CD is one of the best bodies of British psychedelia ever released.
It contains the complete Mighty Baby album from Head Records,
expanded to 13 tracks with the addition of five tracks cut by the Action during its 1967
transition period. The opening number, "Egyptian Tomb,"
sets the tone for the entire album — in terms of content, structure, and beat,
it sounds like the early Allman Brothers,
or maybe the Grateful Dead in one of their harder-rocking moments,
jamming with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on an impromptu version of CSN's
"Pre-Road Downs." The beauty of the original Mighty Baby album tracks is that
they're psychedelia with a solid beat, none of that noodle-rock that drugged-up Brits
usually engaged in. "A Friend You Know But Never See" mighthave passed muster on
the Byrds' Notorious Byrd Brothers album. Other songs noodle around too much,
but overall this is some of the most energetic psychedelia to come out of England,
and anyone who enjoys psychedelic guitar will love Martin Stone's and Alan King's work
on this album. The bonus tracks, all "lost" demos, are even better:
highly rhythmic, driving rock (check out "Understanding Love") with lots of spacy guitar
and tougher-than-normal flower-power introspective lyrics,
with some gorgeous harmonies dressing it all up — a near perfect meld of garage rock
and psychedelic sensibilities.
(info by: CGR)
1. Egyptian Tomb
2. A Friend You Know But Never See
3. I've Been Down So Long
4. Same Way From The Sun
5. House Without Windows
6. Trials Of A City
7. I'm From The Country
8. At A Point Between Fate And Destiny
9. Only Dreaming Listen
10. Dustbin Full Of Rubbish
11. Understanding Love
12. Favourite Days
13. A Saying For Today
Size: 116 Mb
Bitrate: 256 mp3