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Not that these musicians were ever strangers to protracted soloing: keyboard player and guitarist Malcolm Morley used that approach with SAM APPLE PIE who he left them after their first LP to create THE HELPS, yet his new endeavor sometimes took it to the testing limit. Unable to get over myA Ernie Graham addiction, I set out in search of more from the ilk of rootsy pre pub rock and stumbled across this gem from 1971. Recorded at The Grange in Headley, previously used by Led Zeppelin to record the Four Symbols album, the Helps were trying to let the rural environment to influence their music. The record opens with a feel good gospel track, I Must See Jesus For Myself, that I can’t help but think was meant to be ironic. The second album, attached in the BGO 2fer, adds a clean, phased sound to the recording that gets a little cheezier. Their first album is rather mainstream progressive rock meets pub rock, despite some excellent songs written by Malcolm Morley including the excellent Deborah. Strange Affair exhibited a strong US West Coast influence with greater musical improvisation and some fine moments like American Woman. From Birmingham, this act evolved out of the remnants of Bakerloo and were heralded by their management as the follow-up to Black Sabbath. Overall, the album is overrated - not a bad effort, containing a couple of rather laboured instrumentals, it's not worth the money copies of the original pressing change hands for, but the reissues are worth picking up.
Jahren and Bodahl recruited three new members, among them the talented guitarist Fezza Ellingsen (ex-St. Their record company woudn't finance a third album and only allowed Host to record three new tracks.
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Help Yourself were a terrific, idiosyncratic band that straddled the line separating prog and pub rock in the era both sounds were at their peak. Unlike the vast majority of prog bands, Help Yourself were grounded in country-rock, blues, and folk (which includes British folk), not pop, classical, and jazz, and unlike most pub rockers, they had an expansive definition of rock & roll that stretched far beyond boogie. This elasticity is what made the band interesting, both then and now, and itA?A€a„?s showcased on this terrific 2014 compilation Reaffirmation: An Anthology 1971-1973, a double-disc set that has the bulk of their highlights and captures all their delightfully odd quirks. This anthology gathers together the essential tracks from all of their albums released by United Artists, newly re-mastered from the original master tapes.
Esoteric Recordings have come up trumps with this delightful career-spanning retrospective of English band Help Yourself.
Help Yourself formed in 1970, and although they hailed from London physically, their musical souls were firmly rooted in Laurel Canyon. Rolling Stone, upon hearing Help Yourself’s self-titled first album in spring 1971 stated that singer Malcolm Morley “sounds more like Neil Young than Neil Young does”.
Reaffirmation contains six tracks apiece from the first two LPs, with second album Strange Affair, released in 1972 seeing an enforced change of personnel. Around the time leading up to Strange Affair Malcolm Morley, who was suffering from undiagnosed depression, took more of a back seat with front man duties falling to Graham. As well as the country rock, Burton’s R&B style seeps through on funky proto-pubrock numbers Heaven Row, a particularly classy number, and the title track. Malcom’s continued battle with depression is reflected in the title of third album Beware The Shadow, released in late 1972.
The Helps establish their own sound on Beware The Shadow with an effortless laid back funk that stands as a British parallel to Little Feat. The second CD is a less consistent affair, the album cuts being broken up by a novelty Xmas single and ending with an extended live wigout, but it is no less fun for all that. The supremely daft 1972 Xmas single, Mommy Won’t Be Home For Christmas, penned by Neil Innes and Roger McGough is an amusing, if jarring interlude, and after a refreshingly different live barroom take on Johnny B.Goode, we venture on to the fourth album. The aforementioned It Has To Be was an extended jam under the influence of an acid trip, with drummer Dave Charles adding spontaneous synthesiser. Released as a free bonus LP with The Return… was Happy Days, a document of the live show toured earlier in the year.
The album ends with Eddie Waring, taken from the limited edition 10-inch double album Christmas At The Patti, also now available on Esoteric Recordings. The band split in the summer of 1973 during sessions for a fifth album as the mounting pressures on Morley to continually come up with the goods began to take its toll.
To conclude, Reaffirmation is a classy summation of a band that are something of a lost treasure. Brilliantly laid-back, this English band excelled in the American sonics and, in pursuit of that, didn’t seem to care about packing a punch which, over the course of five albums in three years, all represented here, became their undoing. Help Yourself formed in the wake of Brinsley Schwarz but with a strong ear to The Band, forging a raw and honest Americana sound on their first LP. If this is the case, the landscape in Headley must be no different than the piece of earth Neil Young was treading around the same time.

This is sure to throw off listeners, but maybe attract those who don’t mind a little Jesus in their tunes.
Not to say this is a discountable record, just that it maybe draws too near the Ducks Deluxe pub rock approach for my tastes. One correction, this album is paired with the 3rd release, Beware The Shadow, which is a masterpiece. Most of the musicianship on the album is raw and derivative (with exception of Richard Treece's guitar) and consequently the punters weren't at all interested. Their album, like most releases on this label, has become a minor collectable and is a Van der Graaf Generator-style progressive, housed in an odd gatefold sleeve.
IRISH COFFEE did a lot of live-gigs those days and were a support-act for bands like: FOCUS, Dr. There they released their first single, Colors, and the above-mentioned Strictly From Hunger album, which is now a rare collectors' item.
A modified line-up of the band also made a later album, which didn't go beyond the test pressing stage of manufacture.
The group had intended to record a complete album with English lyrics for international release under their new name Ice Band (with Fezza Ellingsen replaced by John Hesla). Featuring tracks from all four of the group’s studio albums issued during the band’s short lifespan, plus singles and rare live cuts, Reaffirmation does just that, reminding me of just how polished this band of charmingly stoned hippies actually were.
Leader Malcolm Morley’s finely crafted songs predated the current Americana fixation by over 40 years, and at the time Help Yourself remained a well-kept and low selling secret.
Oddly, the song from that LP that sounds most like the famous Canadian is titled Old Man, and although it is a different song it is very similar in pace, tone, and sentiment to the far more well-known Harvest tune of the same name, the only thing giving it a distinctive edge being some Grateful Dead-like acidic lead runs from Richard Treece.
Bassist Ken Whaley was ousted by the management who considered that the group’s communal idyllic stoned existence at Headley Grange, recently vacated by Led Zeppelin, was not exactly conducive to the work ethic. That and the initial absence of the spidery acidic wanderings of Treece’s guitar makes Strange Affair take more of a country rock route, with big nods to Poco and America, especially on Brown Lady. The pubrock connection also arises with the long workout The All Electric Fur Trapper which was based on a story by roadie Sean Tyla, later to lead his own barrelhouse rabble-rousers Ducks Deluxe.
At various points between the release of Strange Affair and Beware The Shadow either Deke Leonard, then on one of his sabbaticals from Man, or Sean Tyla were drafted in as replacements for Morley while he battled with his demons, the latter flitting between the status of roadie and front man on the whim of Morley, depending on his state of mental health – it can’t have been easy for either of them. The title track to this compilation starts out as a blissed out keyboard-led stroll through a leafy glade, with Paul Burton’s heavily reverbed bass adding an extra layer of groove.
Opening with another of Morley’s superior pop songs, the straight love song She’s My Girl underlines the fact that Beware The Shadow, despite the sad subject of its gloomy title is by far the band’s best and most enjoyable album. The Return Of Ken Whaley was released in 1973, which as the title suggests sees the original bass player rejoining the fold. Curated by Man this was the live document of Man’s 1972 Xmas party with various musical friends held in their home town of Swansea. If you have never heard of Help Yourself and you are partial to West Coast sounds and the free spirit of 70s rock music, then do please help yourself to this charming compilation.
Not nearly as dippy as the cover art suggests, this is a fine sample of straight California rock that’s really from the UK. In any case, you might want to start this record from the 2nd groove.A From there on the record showcases great melodies, great double guitar noodling (to great effect with acoustic and electric on separate channels), great songcraft, great CSNY influenced harmonies, and great overall sound. The vocalist is strongly influenced by Family's Roger Chapman whilst their music is strong, pleasant, jazz rock. This band from Belgium, is killer hardrock with seering leads and really strong vocals, well composed songs. This was issued in a plain sleeve with no label or number and would certainly fall into the R6 category.
Several people cite this as the best ever Norwegian progressive rock album, and this is understandable.
He composed most tracks on Hardt Mot Hardt (1976), not surprisingly a more guitar-oriented heavy rock album. From early in the band’s existence a close relationship was forged with United Artist label mates Man, the two bands frequently playing gigs and tours together, and later swapping band members in a manner that would delight Pete Frame.
However, as the Help’s Old Man was recorded before Young’s version by at least a month, probably longer, one can only assume it is nothing more than a coincidence arising from the Help’s obsession with the West Coast sound in general, and on this song, Buffalo Springfield in particular. The newly arrived duo of Graham and Glemser had no sooner plugged in than they were off again, leaving during the recording of Strange Affair. However, there is no pubrock connection musically on this song, as the nine minute-plus mini epic is a psychedelic paen to Quicksilver Messenger Service, and quite wonderful it is, too. The tune then changes tack to a trademark solo from Treece, and then into an extended funk-lite workout.
A return to communal living, this time in Finchley, north London leads to a looser and slightly less coherent recorded statement.
Speaking of whom, The Return… contains Man, We’re Glad To Know You, a musical thank you to their musical colleagues and mutual support network…ah, bless.

The former returns to the Helps’ west coast fixation, and the second is a quaint rock’n’roll and West Coast mix. Here, the Helps are augmented by Man’s Deke Leonard (now back in the fold), who wrote the tune, which is little more than a jam in the classic Man tradition.
It is actually rather good, and if you like what you hear on this collection you should certainly check it out. This elasticity is what made the band interesting, both then and now, and it's showcased on the terrific 2014 compilation Reaffirmation: An Anthology 1971-1973, a double-disc set that has the bulk of their highlights and captures all their delightfully odd quirks. There you have it: six greats for this easily overlooked LP that could and should sneak its way into the playlist of any Neil Young fan. Since then, I’ve got to meet Dave Charles and work extensively with guitarist Richard Treece. With a sparse ensemble, each musician in the band must possess a robust talent to create a full sound. Many Ways Of Meeting and Deanna Call And Scotty show an identifiable Help Yourself style emerging from the Americana roots, the latter being a piano-led ballad that sounds like the kind of classy pop song of the time that Clifford T. One can see how easily this would fit into Man’s repertoire when Morley and Ken Whaley both joined that band after the demise of the Helps in 1973. However, with the exception of It Has To Be the album is surprisingly tight, with a continuation of the Anglicisation (is that a word?) of their sound. The convergence with the Welsh wizards continues with Blown Away, which could easily have been a track on a Man album of the time. Leonard used to give his works-in-progress working titles after British TV presenters, hence the odd track title.
Sadly Ken Whaley passed away last year, but Malcolm Morley remains active, and info can be found on his website (see link below). Indeed, Island is a parsed but very talented ensemble of keyboards (Peter Scherer), percussion (everybody!), vocals (Benjamin Jager) and sax with a smattering of clarinet and flute (Rene Fisch). But now the vocalist, guitarist and drummer have re-banded with a new organist and bassist and are touring in 2002-2003 playing their old stuff. These are its two strongest tracks, although The Mind Machine and The Truth on side two contain some good organ work. This version of Host soon dissolved with main writer Svein Ronning soon forming the ill-fated group Deja-Vu. By sacking Whaley, they hoped it would give the rest of the Helps a much needed kick up the collective backside. Passing Through, the concluding track on CD1 is a quite lovely and highly accomplished acoustic ballad, showing how the band were developing at a pace.
Also appearing is a certain BJ Cole, then of Cochise, but now long-renowned as the go-to man of choice if you want some pedal steel on your album. Management brought in Ernie Graham and JoJo, fired Ken and moved Treece to the bass position. In addition to the drummer (Guge Jurg Meier), all the other members play percussive instruments. Richard Treece took up the bass, and Ernie Graham (ex-Eire Apparent) and JoJo Glemser were drafted in. Meier is a great drummer and does, in fact, remind me of the excellent Fritz Hauser from Circus.
Meier must carry the band because, except for the bass pedal work played by Scherer, he is the base rhythm section, supplemented by the other percussion. While on the subject of percussion, a special mention should be made of Bob Katz and Digital Domain, who mastered the CD. His wonderful work fully brings out the propulsive forces of the percussive and bass pedal work that drives this music. His bass pedals are as much a force as the percussion and is classical and jazz-influenced keyboard work is marvellous: tasteful, energetic and imaginative.
The sax work is easily as talented: fluid and often used as another layer of instrumental depth rather than as a mere solo instrument.
This is followed by keyboards, sax, driving bass pedals and wonderful snare work, marking an increase in the energy level. In fact, this general structure marks all of the songs, alternating between pulsating drive and deep, wide-open spaciousness. Again, I can't stress enough how excellent the depth and layering of percussion is, drawing the listener ever deeper into the album.

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