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Ellis: Reissues

Album Review

Two break-up snogs with the former Love Affair man.

When his Love Affair ended in 1969, 20-year-old frontman Steve Ellis bounced from project to project until a band sprang from the Venn intersection of his rock’n’roll pals.

Using keyboard ace Zoot Money, German ex-pat axeman Andy Gee, Fat Mattress bassist Jim Leverton and Grease Band’s Dave Lutton on drums, in 1972 debut LP Riding On The Crest Of A Slump (6/10) swept in. Produced by Roger Daltrey and with Mitch Mitchell on-side too, it had some weight behind it. 

The songs are a brace of decent Rod/Marriott/Traffic jams going from honky-tonking knees-up Good To Be Alive to the soul limboing I Wish I Was Back Home, plus thoughtful in-betweeners such as El Doomo (a mega-hit for Yugoslav band Smak). It’s only a matter of time before Pinball Wizard shakes out Morning Paper, its carefree pillaging made even more pleasurable when you know that the band recorded in every room in Daltrey’s studio mansion, including the loo. 

On 1973’s ...Why Not? (5/10), Leverton is replaced by former Alexis Korner prodigy Nick South, and hard rock and blues come to the fore. Under Chicken Shack/ Fleetwood Mac/Blues Breakers producer Mike Vernon’s direction you can hear the group “spread out”, as Money puts it – albeit in a less stimulating way than its predecessor. Opus 17 3/4, however, is quite progressive in its jazz-soul-Superstar experimentation, giving bolster to this footnote in Brit rock history.

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